Thursday, January 29, 2009

Changessssssss

Lots of things are changing around here, and not just the sheets. Important things are changing. Such as:

1. I now blow dry my hair at least four days per week. This is not because I am no longer lazy, but because I often have someplace to go shortly after I shower, and have you gone outside in winter with wet hair? I have had to accept this as a necessary evil in my life.

2. I have upper body strength, visible muscles even. Whoa. And thanks, 30 Day Shred.

3. Soon marymuses.com will be changing. I'm not talking about a total blog redesign; this space will stay largely the same, though I do hope to make some improvements in the near future. What I am referring to is the split personality that marymuses.com is about to receive. If you've been getting here by way of marymuses.blogspot.com, you will not notice any difference. If, however, you come by way of www.marymuses.com, you will soon notice that you have a choice between blog or photography. My husband has been working quite hard on putting together space for me to sell photos, and we are going live with it on February 1. We'll offer a new collection quarterly, plus special collections from time to time. I hope you'll like the new offerings and the new look. Kudos to Jarod for putting it together; I never would have done it on my own. Thanks, babe.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Well, sort of. Jarod had to go to a meeting at work, but after that he came home and became Phae's cushion for the balance of the day.

lazy sunday

I started the day lazing about on the sofa, eating more Hershey's kisses than I'd care to count, drinking coffee, and watching Pride and Prejudice. I felt a little bad about being in my pajamas all that time that Jarod was getting ready and going to work, but you see where he ended up, whereas I ended up doing Shred Level 1, followed by what is pictured below, followed by Shred Level 2.

someone is a little anal retentive

I like to think that makes all things even, or even puts me a little ahead. I did, after all, refold every single one of my sweaters.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Usual Disjointedness

It's getting to be that time of winter that I start getting tired of being cold. Up until now, it's been inconvenient, but bearable, and the coziness beneath the down blanket on the sofa can't be matched. But today as flurries flew, it just seemed old. The first flurries seem magical, but this was not at all so.

Perhaps it has something to do with the unfinished nature of our exterior paint job. This house has such potential to be adorable, and here it is an eyesore, two thirds painted on the front, with a busted storm door and a crooked bird bath to add to the charm. Now that there are no holiday gatherings to rush off to, no gift-buying to attend to, no extra food to make for three out of seven nights of the week, I'm starting to notice all the things that need to be done around here. While I've gotten busy on some of the projects, there are a great many that I cannot do myself or cannot do in this weather. I grow impatient.

...

One thing I'm not impatient with is the 30 Day Shred, though I'm certain that if Jillian Michaels were in my living room, she might be a bit impatient with me. Turns out that Level 2 is kind of an ass kicker, and I've yet to finish it without cheating a few times. Jillian says to keep my arms up the entire time, and I let them drop at least thrice. She tells me to keep my body straight in those plank jacks, and I start to collapse halfway through. This is probably due in part to my refusal to do the modified moves. At the beginning she says that bad asses should follow Natalie, and I want to be a bad ass. So I follow Natalie. Except that Natalie doesn't look like she might keel over halfway through the squat thrusts.

On the upside, I have abs! Who knew? This development has made me a little nuts. I keep walking up to Jarod while he's busy with computer something-or-other and going, "Feel my abs right here, like on the side!" And I won't take no for an answer. I know it's every man's dream to touch a woman's hot bod, but I really don't think obliques are what most men have in mind.

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Speaking of obliques, have you seen Kate Winslet's? Post Titanic, I mean? You have if you've seen The Reader, along with a great many other of her parts. Frankly, I was not bothered by it except that we had invited friends to come along, and wondered partway through if I should have warned them that I had invited them to view soft porn. She didn't stay naked for the duration of the film, however, so by the time all was said and done and the credits rolled, I didn't feel so awkward about it. And frankly, if there's going to be a woman's body shown in all its glory on screen, I much prefer it be a figure like Kate's. One thing I have always liked about her is that she has a realistic body that comes from her very realistic lifestyle. I recently read about the diet secrets of the stars in one of my favorite trashy magazines, and I'm sorry, but two hour workouts six days a week aren't possible for most people, nor is putting down the fork after only two bites of cake. Kate Winslet is simply stunning without resorting to any of that nonsense, and I love her for it. I love that her talent carries her, not an abnormally tiny frame. I expressed to Jarod in the car that I simply love her, and he disclosed that he really doesn't get what people see in her beauty-wise. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you WHO DID I MARRY? He likes Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba. Unfortunately for him, if he wants to see a body like those around here, he's going to have to pry the cake fork out of my hands.

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On the topic of Kate Winslet, do you remember way back when I saw her and Leonardo DiCaprio filming part of Revolutionary Road in Connecticut? It's out now, and one of the shots I saw, of Kate looking pained in the upstairs window, is featured prominently in one of the trailers. Every time I see it, I get all excited and want to yell to someone, "I was there! HEY! HEY! I WAS TOTALLY THERE WHEN THEY FILMED THAT!" But that's, um, kind of obnoxious. So go see the movie, and when that part comes up, just do your best to get a little excited that I was there when they filmed that. I have yet to see it, but I won't miss seeing it on the big screen, if only to see how something that looked so tedious and painstaking comes off on film. I do hope they left the part in where Leo is digging in the front yard since it was the magic of me putting away my paparazzi-esque camera that helped him focus.

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It may be your weekend, but I've got another day of work ahead. Carry on with your carrying on, and I'll carry on with my trek in the direction of my pillow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Best Way to Make Yourself Feel Thinner

Is to make all your friends a little chubbier. Thus, I am sharing this recipe. This is basically something I threw together using four other recipes. Whip 'em up and then just try to stop "evening up the row, no, really, it was crooked."

Chocolate Chip Granola Peanut Butter Bars

Cookie Bar Batter:
1 1/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Topping:
2 1/2 c. chocolate chips
1 c. natural or fresh grind peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Fold in baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly in a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and the center is set (can still move a bit when you move the pan, just isn't jiggly.) In a double boiler, melt together topping ingredients, whisking smooth. Pour over cookie bars, which will still be a bit warm. Allow to cool to room temp, then place in fridge until topping firms up. Cut and enjoy. Don't forget to even up the row if it's not straight!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Window Shopping

If we were of the leisure class, the sort of folks who have unlimited expendable income, I guarantee you I would spend most of our money on handmade goods. For example, did you know that if you search Etsy for handbags, the search yields nearly 30,000 results, many of them fantastic. I got to page twenty-three before I felt like I just couldn't look anymore, lest handbag lust overtake me and drain our bank account of the money meant to pay the dentist next week.

I am also fond of pretty much everything on paper n stitch, perhaps unreasonably fond of the Leanne Graeff camper napkins, plus every single bird brooch offered by Lupin Handmade. I should probably step away from the internet now.

Especially since the thing I want that is not handmade is this sofa. One of us would have to sell a kidney for that, and so far Jarod is unconvinced that it's necessary.

...

So I've been doing that thing which is a sensation in the blogosphere--no, not videos of my cats, but the 30 Day Shred. I've completed seven days of Level 1, and I must admit that it's kicked my butt pretty hard. I thought that it wouldn't be that bad, what with my ability to run seven miles and the marathons I've got tucked under my belt, but it turns out that running does not translate to overall fitness, and my shoulders are the wimpiest thing you ever did see. I bought five pound weights, thinking that I didn't want to go all pansy-ass weakling from the very beginning, and what do you know? They were too heavy; four days into it I had to buy three pounders from Target, and the workout was still a challenge. I've dropped a couple of pounds, though time will tell if that's the workout or just because I am no longer invited to dinners where most dishes contain cream of mushroom soup.

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I've been working more lately, and one family added a squishy new baby to the mix, which means a rate increase for me, which means in turn that there are a few more dollars floating around. I've got some solid, practical plans for most of those dollars, but I won't lie to you and tell you that I'll be spending all of them on practical things. After skipping Christmas gifts for each other, Jarod and I have agreed to do a little something for Valentine's Day, and I didn't waste my time telling him where he could acquire a handbag that would suit my tastes. Handmade goods purveyors, rejoice. You're about to get a little more business.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Options

It's been hard to go to bed lately, mostly because we all get so cozy in the living room. Whoever put this down comforter on the sofa is a terrible person who cares nothing for my need for nighttime sleep.

Er, wait, that was me.

In truth, I highly recommend a down comforter for the sofa, particularly if you keep the heat low like we do. I also highly recommend a butler who will fetch you whatever you desire in order that you will not have to leave the comfort of your downy nest. That or you could fill a basket full of snacks and bring out two cups of tea at once. You know, whatever works.

This week I feel incredibly fortunate to have time for my morning naps. After the food poisoning came another thing which wasn't altogether pleasant, and now I feel like I want to sleep away every single morning. I think if you knew the details of life this past week (which I will perhaps share at a later date), you'd agree that it is perfectly acceptable for me to sleep from the moment I'm able to re-pajama myself after my morning shift until eleven-thirty or perhaps even noon. Still I feel a little guilty, as usual, waking every now and again to observe the progress of the clock. Today I got up a full fifteen minutes before I was truly ready, and what did that do for me? Not much.

Tomorrow I'm either facing the other direction or moving the clock.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

There's No Better Time to Catch Up

It all started yesterday, when I couldn't figure out what to eat. This happens a lot when I am working in the homes of others. Since overhauling my diet--not even my diet, actually, my entire eating philosophy--I have a much harder time finding something to eat when I am working. Up until yesterday, I hadn't really entertained the idea of taking food with me to work, but after the disastrous choice I made, which left me using my finest anti-vomit techniques for much of the evening and into the night, I am now intent on taking a little snack pack with me. I am not judging anyone else's food selection practices, just saying that now that I know better, I really just need to do better. I carry the most enormous handbag available to me; I can surely find a little room for a baggie of trail mix or a sandwich. And I will.

For now, though, I am glued to my sofa. While the illness has largely passed, the exhaustion it left in its wake has not. This is frustrating for many reasons, one of which is that I really miss showering. Oh, the things we take for granted: standing upright for more than thirty seconds at a time, eating something that is not a flavorless cracker, clearance shopping at Target on a whim, etc. By tomorrow I should be good to go, but for now, I am...stuck. And Jarod is stuck making his own dinner, which is probably only fair since he took the opportunity to beat my Bejeweled high score last night while I was in the midst of my anti-vomit techniques. Bastard.

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On Saturday I unexpectedly had the day off, so I headed out to shop for a new-to-me table. The criteria: under $50, seats at least four comfortably, will fit in our tiny dining room. I struck out at Urban Mining, but hit the jackpot at River Market Antiques, where I also ran into one of my readers, Erica. Hi, Erica! Erica was picking up some small treasures, and I'm hoping she was so entranced by all the fabulous merchandise available that she didn't notice that I hadn't lint-rolled my coat in about a week and had a runny nose.

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There's not much else going on here, which is a relief. I like being back into the swing of normal life, no holiday gatherings to plan for, no completely jacked-up schedule to contend with, plenty of time for my daily nap. Or in today's case, naps. It is good to have an ordinary life.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Looking Forward, Looking Back

This week I had every day off work. On Monday we went to the dentist at the same time I'd pick up the kids, so that didn't feel much like a day off, but every day since has been pretty glorious. I've been working on organizing the basement, and while I am not 100% finished, I am very nearly there. Just a few more boxes of crap to sort through, one enormous keyboard to move, and we're home free. Next I'll move on to the office. I wish I had next week off, too. And the week after that. Actually, I wish I didn't have to work at all. I love what I do, and I love each and every one of my kids dearly, but it has been blissful to be at home most of the day, getting things done. I've been doing the dishes daily. This is unheard of in normal life.

But normal life is what I've got most of the time, so I'm going to roll with it, right into 2009. I don't generally make resolutions because I feel like they are things that I might wish I would do but would never follow through on. I do, however, make goals. This year's goals are not dissimilar from last year's goals, though I guess there is a difference in that I made many of 2008's goals as the year progressed, whereas this year I have a firm grasp on what I'd like to accomplish, or rather, what I'd like to continue toward accomplishing.

2008 marked the first year that we were really conscious about what we eat and where it came from. Whereas in the past I had rules like "no high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, or MSG," over the past year I've become more purposeful about where and from whom my food is purchased. I got started a little late with the farmer's market, but managed to get quite a few things set aside and frozen. My garden yield wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but still I was able to freeze some from that as well, not to mention making some tasty dishes when things bore fruit. I also got a better handle on purchasing items in bulk. I can get better ingredients for the same price as conventional ones simply by scooping it out of a bin myself. In 2009, I'd like to do a better job of judging how much food we can grow, what we need to purchase, and what we will use in a given amount of time. By winter's end, when the farmer's market resumes again, I'll be able to evaluate what is left in my freezer, as well as make note of what ran out before I was ready. I am also on a quest to waste less food. While it's fabulous that we can compost what ends up growing fur in our fridge, I think it's better to actually eat it.

One of the things I've been really proud of is that we have managed our budget better than ever this past year. Even when unexpected things come up, we generally have enough fluid income to cover those expenses. There have been times we have done without some things or stayed home when we would have liked to go out, but in the end we were able to pay for everything up front. Going into 2009, I'd like to continue to work on our budget, living more on less. I know that there are many things that we have purchased in the past year that we either didn't use or that were unnecessary. I'd like to continue to discipline myself to cut out those things, not denying every small luxury, but recognizing how blessed we already are, how little we still need.

Finally, I'd like to continue organizing our house. We've made solid progress in many ways, but there's still plenty left to do. Since we returned from our honeymoon in September 2007, we've made great strides and cleared out a lot of areas. In 2009, my goal is for everything we own to have a designated spot in our home. What doesn't fit, I'd like to eliminate, and what we haven't used within the past year and a half I'd like to pass on to someone who will. This is probably the tallest order of the bunch, as there's a specific goal. I'll let you know how it goes.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope that 2009 brings good times and good lessons, and that your good hearts will be filled with peace.