Monday, November 30, 2009

Has It Come to This? Yes.

Some time ago I decided I would switch from conventional deodorant to something a little more earth and body friendly. I picked up my first Tom's of Maine stick who-knows-when, and thus began my cycle of using natural deodorant, then giving up and switching back to conventional in a pinch, then finding another natural deodorant that I thought might be okay, then having to buy another stick of what I fondly call Cancer Deodorant, even though that cancer part hasn't exactly been proved. I still prefer to live as chemical-free as possible, and deodorant seems a pretty basic item to be able to switch. The problem with most natural deodorants is that they either aren't effective for me or they irritate my skin so that my armpits feel aflame or, usually, both. I'm sorry, but I cannot get behind putting something on my skin that neither works nor is comfortable. Natural living shouldn't be physically painful. After countless natural deodorant failures, I finally accepted that I would either have to spend a great deal of money on deodorant or make my own. I chose to make my own. During the busy days of summer, I bought my last stick of Cancer Deodorant, vowing to make my own once it ran out. It ran out on Saturday. Yesterday, I made my own deodorant.

I started with a good recipe, snatched from Angry Chicken and jotted on a post-it that I stuck to my computer. One of the joys of the internet is that you can find so many recipes for everything, then read what people liked and didn't like about them. I chose this particular one because I could gather the ingredients at stores I already frequented, and it seemed simple. Plus, three weeks of effectiveness seems pretty promising, does it not? So I gathered my ingredients in front of my dirty microwave and set to work. If you can call it work. Because people? It was not that hard.

homemade deodorant supplies

Not pictured: the safety pin I used to puncture the vitamin E gel capsules.

pre-melting stage

Into a microwave-safe bowl, I measured out three tablespoons shea butter, three tablespoons baking soda, two tablespoons cocoa butter, two tablespoons corn starch, and the oil from inside two vitamin E gel capsules, punctured with the aforementioned safety pin in order to get the oil out. I microwaved it for forty-ish seconds, added in my essential oil, then whisked it. Then I added more essential oil and whisked it again. After which I added more essential oil and finally felt satisfied with the aroma. I gave it a final whisk for good measure.

whisked for added pleasure

I still had some clumps, and I'm not sure why, but I whisked and whisked and whisked, and when they didn't go anywhere, I gave up and just poured it into the jar already. I didn't actually have a clean, fresh jar on hand, so I opened up a small jar of apple butter, dumped it out into a fridge-worthy container, washed the jar, and made do.

in the jar

It was still pretty warm, so I stuck it in the fridge while I showered so it could firm up. Once I was all fresh and clean, I got it out of the fridge and gave it a test run. I stayed fresh-smelling all evening, and most of the day today, through a workout even. So far, the deodorant totally wins the deodorant competition and now graces my bathroom shelf.

homemade deodorant, at home on the bathroom shelf

This process was incredibly easy. The only issue I ran into is that the cocoa butter was a little hard to scoop out, and I ended up with cocoa butter snow on my kitchen counter. Next time I'll set it somewhere warm before I need to measure it, and that should take care of the problem. When it came to adding the essential oil, I also had a small challenge in trying to figure out how much was enough, but it didn't take long to figure out that I could rub a bit on the back of my hand to approximate how it would smell on my armpits. I kept adding until I couldn't smell the cocoa butter anymore, but the scent was still fairly light. All in all, it was simple and no fuss. To apply, I just scrape some from the top of the pot with my fingers and rub it into my skin like lotion. Easy, peasy, with no weird ingredients in sight. Success!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Next Day

I have finally showered and changed...into a fresh set of pajamas. Many people own clothes for lounging around the house, but my categories include only Clothes for Leaving the House, Clothes for Various Workouts, and Pajamas for Night or Anytime. I tried to be one of those people who could throw on some yoga pants and a random t-shirt and feel good about leaving the house like that, even if I'm not going to yoga, but that's just not who I am. I love pajamas and I love getting dressed, and there's not much in between for me. So if I'm staying home, I'm wearing pajamas. If I'm going out, I'm putting together an outfit to suit the situation.

Unless, of course, I'm staying in for my own birthday party. Then I'm putting together an outfit, complete with accessories.

The great benefit to having my birthday celebration in my own home was that at the end of the night, we were already where we needed to be. I woke up this morning to leftover snacks (another fabulous benefit) and a quiet house that still held the remnants of last night's joy. It is good to be at home. As much as I desire to become a renter, I do love our little house.* We've put a lot of thought and care and hard work into it, and we have finally reached the point of having enough things done to feel like the house is put together and presentable. How perfect to have a reason to vacuum all the cat hair fluffs and hunker down for the evening. I am truly grateful for all the friends who came over with their snacks and their gifts and simply themselves. Our house was warm with the presence of so many good folks. (Warm enough, in fact, to have to turn on the air conditioning--in November--to keep our guests comfortable.) I think this may be my favorite birthday so far.

Today I have taken the day just to be. With so many projects to do, it is hard to sit still and slow down and rest, but I've been needing a day like this for a long time, and I'd be foolish not to take advantage of a cancelled meeting and an empty, quiet space. Tomorrow I will return to the to-do list with renewed vigor, but today...well, today is just for me. And I am grateful.

*So if anyone would like to purchase our house and rent it to us, that would be perfect. There are a few small projects that need to be done. Surely you won't mind retiling the tub area and putting in the patio?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Birthday = Awesome

There were a couple of small snags to the day, but nothing to write home complaining about. Six-thirty is pretty early for a two-year-old to want to have a dance party to a Wiggles CD, you know? But the day whooshed by and ended with good friends and good food in our home. It was a good, good day. If thirty-four looks like this all the time, it will be a stellar year.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wishful Thinking

For most of NaBloPoMo, I've gotten my post in just under the midnight wire, and tonight is no exception. The day started at 6am, and aside from a brief lie-down on the sofa between jobs, I've just kept rolling all day. This is partly due to caffeine and partly due to my nature. I like to hit it hard so I can relax without a care later, and I've been doing a lot of that first part lately, but I don't seem to make it to relaxing without a care very often. There is always something else to do, particularly at this time of life. I thought that getting the home study done and having most of our adoption paperwork together would lighten the load, but it turns out that it just leads to other things that need to be done. For instance, I now think that we should scrape, patch, and reseal the basement walls before the baby comes. I don't know who's going to be doing that, but doesn't it sound like a good idea? It will sound like an even better idea when we have a baby to keep us busy and it rains hard enough to form a wading pool in random areas of the basement. Then we'll go, "Wouldn't it have been great if we'd repaired the cracks and sealed our basement?" And we won't need to answer because that's what we call a rhetorical question.

We've talked a lot about not wanting to be homeowners anymore, and we really mean it. Last night we walked by some sweet old apartments that are just the style I like, and I looked in all the windows that allowed my nosiness, dreaming of what it would be like to live there, to be in a better location than we're in now, and to have a guy to call if there's water in the basement. Maybe the guy wouldn't do anything about it, but at least it wouldn't be our problem. That probably sounds terrible, but I don't care. I want to have a guy to call when something breaks. I want the work to come from someone else's hard labor and the cost to come out of someone else's bank account. Not to mention wanting to be close enough to walk somewhere worth going and to have sidewalks take me all the way there. I want to raise our daughter in a place that is near enough to both a park and a coffee shop that we can walk there easily. In twenty-seven minutes, it will be my birthday, and this is, officially, my thirty-fourth birthday wish.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

There is a lot to be thankful for, but there is also an alarm that will ring for me at 6am. And so, here is a picture of my cat doing what I hope to be doing quite soon.

come on, now

I am thankful for the cat and for my bed and for Sunday, when I will finally get to sleep in until noon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas(ish) Wish

I'm putting on my thinking cap, trying to figure out some crafty things to make for Christmas that will be special but not take too much time or too much money. And in the meantime, I am wishing for something handmade, but I may just set a little money aside and order it; I don't expect anyone to order something special when I am doing all handmade gifts. Besides, this has a purpose all it's own: I've been wanting to order a little something to wear while we wait for our daughter, and this seems to fit the bill. I would like it engraved with "i will find you." When she is home, I will pass this one on to her and have a little something made with both her chosen-by-us and her chosen-in-Ethiopia name on it. Maybe this one, which I can add to should she someday have a sibling.

And then I'll order my mom jeans, because that's what you do when you start wearing things with your child's name on it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Convenience Wins

Tonight I cooked dinner for my husband. I made a frozen pizza. Um. Yes. When I decreased my work hours, I stopped putting frozen pizzas in the freezer because I figured it would force me to cook if I knew there wasn't any sort of insanely easy backup plan. And while I have been cooking a good deal more now that I'm working less, lately the cooking has mostly been for dinners outside our home, and usually it's a dish or two that are sides or desserts. Even if there are leftovers, it's just mashed potatoes or salted brown butter crispy treats or something that isn't exactly a meal unto itself. So until the holidays are over, I'll be putting pizzas in the freezer just in case. I realize that there are other quick meals, but for us pizza seems to be the best option for two tired people who have been busy all day (or for one whose wife has left him to fend for himself for the evening), so there you have it. Thank you, Whole Foods, for the delicious frozen meals.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Television as Food for Thought

Tonight was the all star television-at-work lineup of Intervention, Hoarders, and The Botany of Desire. The first two featured cats in one way or another; in fact, on Hoarders they found seventy-six hoarded cats in a woman's home, only forty-one of which were living. Later, when they were cleaning out her garage, they found many more kitten carcasses and even a full-grown cat that appeared to be petrified in a reclined position. So. WOW. The third show was by far the most intellectually stimulating, and it reminded me that I need to share my theory of why people who smoke pot get the munchies.

The basic premise is thus: THC (the part of pot that makes you feel high) is taken up by brain receptors that are designed to receive a substance called anandamide (meaning bliss) that the body produces naturally. Anandamide is found to be related to the ability to forget things effectively, and it is also what is released that causes what is referred to as the runner's high. I'm sure it varies from runner to runner, but the only time I've ever felt a true runner's high (and it is markedly different from the experience of enjoyment when I'm simply having a really good run) has been when I have been exerting myself quite enthusiastically. Most notably, it's shown up during the longest runs I've done. For instance, when I've trained for the Pikes Peak Marathon, once the long runs on consecutive days hit at least twenty miles for one run, I can almost surely count on a runner's high the day of the second long run. It is my theory that when the receptors pick up anandamide, it also signals to the brain that there has been great exertion, and thus there will be the need for food, and a lot of it. It would make sense, then, that when the same state is introduced artificially through THC, the brain would receive the same signals and result in the feeling of hunger. I know that after the second long run, I am often so hungry that I can eat through plates of food and still feel hungry, only to finally be satisfied by something completely random, such as jelly beans and pretzels. Together. So tell me, smokers of the ganja, is this the kind of hunger you feel? Could my theory be correct?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New and Improved

After years of standing on the toilet and looking in the medicine cabinet mirror to see how my shoes look with (part of) my outfit, I finally got a full length mirror. You may say, "But Mary, those mirrors only cost $5 at Target, why ever would you wait so long?" The answer is that I thought they cost $7. I stand corrected, and now in the possession of a mirror in which I can see my whole self at once. It makes me want to dress well every day. It makes me want to wear more accessories. It makes me want to dance.

Okay, maybe not that last one, but still. I do like to dance; I'll probably do that anyway.

But not in front of the mirror.

Maybe.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Winterized

Changing out the spring and summer bed linens for the winter set makes me feel a bit like Martha Stewart.

winterized

Except, you know, with cheaper sheets and no staff to attend to these things for me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Help! I Need Somebody!

As many of you know, Jarod and I are working on opening a Storenvy shop to fundraise for our adoption. It will include various handmade goods and also t-shirts and tote bags with our Finding Magnolia logo on them. I've got a basic design down for the shirts/bags, but it lacks a certain something. Like awesomeness. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to improve upon our current design. The basics need to remain the same. In particular, on the design that includes the Africa outline, the flower needs to be in that spot because that's where Ethiopia is. I'd prefer to stick to a single ink color for printing, but two or three colors would be fine if it makes the design extra super awesome. So here we go:

Text only design, for shirts:

finding magnolia text design

Africa outline design for shirts and tote bags:

finding magnolia africa design

Also, if you care to weigh in on shirt and bag colors, please do. We'll do girlie shirts and unisex shirts.

If your design is chosen, I will not only be forever grateful to you, but I will also bake you something delicious and either deliver it personally or ship it (depending on your location, of course).

Now get to it! I need you!

I almost forgot! E-mail designs to me at marymuses at gmail dot com.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Currently Coveting

Boots.

Coat.

Tights.

Fall and winter dressing is my favorite. Bring on the layers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So You'd Rather Not Work Out

But you feel like you should. That slice of delicious Murray's ice cream cake in your stomach and those milk chocolate discs you ate on a whim this afternoon are talking about vacationing on your waistline, and you think you might want to work them off so you can still button your trousers. Worry not! I have a solution! Follow these easy step to become motivated:

1. In the springtime, when hope is springing eternal and you've forgotten what cold feels like, have the nice man who is installing your new energy-saving thermostat program the HEAT setting to Should Be Wearing a Sweater for daytime hours and Should Be Crawling Under a Down Comforter While Still Wearing That Sweater for the night hours. You know, to save energy! After all, you can always put on a sweater and/or snuggle under a down comforter when it gets cold, right? Right!

2. Forget where you put the instructions for reprogramming the thermostat.

3. Come home from dinner with friends and put on your summer workout wear. We're talking shorts and sports bra for ladies, just shorts for men. The key here is plenty of exposed skin.

4. Begin to shiver. Violently.

5. Hit play on the workout DVD because anything seems better than being that cold.

And you've done it! Now you just have to make the transition from "I'm feeling warm now" to "I'll keep going even though I'm warm and I hate pushups." Good luck, and may your abs be grateful for the extra attention.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Well...Um...Yeah.

I never know what to say about a day like today. Hi, I woke up this morning and never stopped moving until just now, but I have little to show for all that rushing around. In fact, I got a certificate for the one time today that I wasn't in motion, during our Newborn Care for Adoptive Families class. For the rest of the day, I got nothin'.

Well, except this:

yes, i decorated something for christmas

Shut up, my pumpkins are rotting and I had no choice. Maybe rotting pumpkins scream THANKFULNESS! to some of you, but to me they scream COMPOST. So Christmas decor it is. The end.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Three Sets of Three Sentences

Tonight I had the privilege of digging a booger the size of Montana out of a squalling 11-month-old's nose. I would have left it, but it was slowly smothering her. This is the life of glamour that I lead.

...

We met with a financial advisor today to talk about life insurance and retirement savings and what we'd need to save in order to put just one child through college. College will cost a lot in twenty years. Perhaps Magnolia should be an only child.

...

I don't mind this kind of weather, particularly if I can stay in my own house and just glimpse it through the windows. There's nothing better than being cozy in a little house and baking brownies. Okay, wait, maybe eating those brownies is better.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NSFW or Probably for Your Mother

Mom, you won't like it. Good thing you still have dial-up. For the rest of you, this expletive rich video is the new fave at our house. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So Close We Could Hear Them Breathing

I guess I didn't realize how much I love modern dance until tonight. I mean, I love dance, and if a movie has choreographed numbers, you can bet I'll see it in the theatre, even if it otherwise probably sucks (ahem*DirtyDancingHavanaNights*ahem). It's rare, though, that I get to see a live performance. Much of the time it has more to do with my ignorance of area performances than anything else. But tonight my friend Rachel invited me to see the Paul Taylor Dance Company perform, and since the tickets were free, and I was free, I was all about that. I figured we'd be in the back or the balcony or something, but we ended up in the second row. I could see every facial expression and hear the dancers breathe. Amazing. If you have a chance to have such an experience, you should take it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Life in Post-Its and Desk Clutter

I'm having trouble focusing on anything but the second post-it from the left, which is my list of things that remain to be done in order to finish our dossier for the adoption.

life right now

Though it might be good to focus on the first post-it on the left, which is a homemade deodorant recipe (oh yes, it is; I have become that much of a tree-hugging hippie weirdo) as I am nearly out of my cancer-causing deoderant and think that fall is a good time to switch. I can check for efficacy without taking any big, sweaty risks. If it works, I'll probably start preaching the Gospel of Homemade Deodorant, and won't that be fun? I bet you just can't wait.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This is my 1001st Post, and I'm Going to Talk About My Wardrobe

Kinda missed the fact that yesterday was my thousandth post. I like that it was what it was, that I didn't notice, that writing here is less about how many posts and how much I can say and more about, well, nothing. I can't believe that all three of you still show up to read this crap. But thanks! And here's to 1001 more posts.

Maybe it started with watching too much What Not to Wear, or maybe it had something to do with seeing so many fabulously dressed folks on the web, but at some point I started really paying attention to what I wear and how often and how it makes me feel. I started to loosen up my rules about clearance racks and only clearance racks and I'm sorry, that costs more than $14.99 and it's not on the clearance rack. I began steadily building a wardrobe with items that cost more than I am comfortable admitting I spent. But here's the thing: nearly every single item I bought that I felt guilty about due to price, I still wear and love. It started with a pair of Camper Twins years ago, shoes that I wore twice this week, which are still in great shape, which I still like, which have never caused me pain of the sort only obtained through shoes purchased on clearance at a discount outlet. I'm not saying that I haven't gotten cheap things that I love, but when it comes to ratio of Love It! to Shouldn't Have, Not Ever, the pricier items are clearly winning. Have you ever heard that you get what you pay for? Turns out that one's often true.

Of course, one can't buy everything that is attractive and fits well. So I have an informal ratings system. I score based on fit, likely opportunities I'll have to wear it, how it makes me feel (yes, yes, I know, cheesy, but it's important--if I don't feel good in it, I won't wear it, no matter how much the salesgirl gushes that it looks perfect), and price. I prefer to at least be saving something. If it's fantastic, Boden's frequent 20% off plus free shipping and returns is sufficient. If it's 50% and I've been stalking it at Anthropologie, it's pretty much a done deal. With this system, plus staying within a designated clothing budget (if I don't have money, I can't even look, it's that simple), I've managed to build a wardrobe that is smaller than it used to be, but that is full of pieces that I truly enjoy putting on.

At the end of this month, I will turn thirty-four. My big kids turn this number over in their minds, and I ask them if they can imagine being thirty-four. When they tell me no, I admit that I never could when I was a kid, either. The highest age I could comprehend eventually being was twenty-three. But I am glad to have reached this point, beyond what I could imagine then. I am so much more comfortable with myself at nearly thirty-four than I was at twenty-three. I am more confident and feel more attractive. I'd be lying if I told you that the wardrobe isn't part of that. But I'd also be lying if I told you that the good wardrobe has nothing to do with what I've learned as I've gotten older. I might miss the lack of crow's feet and smile lines of my twenties, but I don't miss the rest. Not at all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Intent

First, let's take a moment to recognize our veterans and their families. These are people who give their lives in service of our country, who do whatever someone tells them to do whether or not they personally agree with it. That is no small thing, and they do it every day of their lives. So thank you, veterans. You deserve our respect and our support.

...

Whatever we did last night in yoga has clearly helped my adoption paperwork situation. I know it will sound corny, but for me yoga is the time that I feel most connected to God. In addition to the physical work, or maybe I should say in conjunction with the physical work, much of the time yoga is like a prayer to me. Maybe it's due to being so distracted in the rest of life; when I go to yoga, that all falls away in the focus of breath and movement and now. So last night I was doing yoga for Nola. And when something was hard or when we were all breathing and moving together with our breath, I thought, "This is for you, Nola, my intention is for you, I am moving and breathing so that I can make things happen for you." And today things finally felt like they were coming together. It could be a function of me focusing intently on making this happen and feeling renewed resolve as a result of that focus, but I also think that when I do yoga, I have God's ear in a way that I don't have it when I am half praying, half thinking of all the other things I need to do. Traditional evangelicals would call foul on this, but I call it awesome.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Try, Fail, Try Again

So my plan to eat exceptionally healthy meals nearly all the time until Thanksgiving has run into some trouble, mainly because a) I made pumpkin bread yesterday because an old friend of my family was coming over to help us with financial type stuff, b) last night the family I work for most regularly forced me to eat steak and potatoes (I said a very weak, "No, I had a late lunch, really," to which they replied, "No, you're eating, you have to eat," and I did not argue further), c) today was the second Tuesday of the month, which meant I took the big kids out for breakfast, and far be it from me to order a vegetable egg white omelet and whole wheat toast, and d) since the day was blown already, I just went ahead and got a grande iced mocha. It's not all bad, though. They love me at Starbucks, so not only did they *ahem* accidentally charge me too little for my drink, they also slipped me a little something free. Also, the two pounds I lost last week remain gone, putting me back within spitting distance of what I consider the low side of my normal (although just barely), so I say a big WHATEVS and purpose to cut out the sugar tomorrow. I have the good snacks in my bag; I just need a chance to use them.

Monday, November 09, 2009

All Systems Go

We have a scanner that works, we have scanned some documents, we are getting this job done. I've begun to feel about my adoption documents the way I feel near the end of the Pikes Peak Marathon, as if I've been doing this for long enough already, and isn't it time for the snacks yet? In particular, there's a section of trail on Pikes Peak that is not far from the finish, but far enough that there are no other people around and no aid stations nearby either. It's quiet and possibly beautiful, but it's hard to tell when you're exhausted. It's in that section that I get the urge to sit down on the side of the trail and let mountain rescue find me later and carry me the rest of the way by horseback. That's how I'm feeling toward our paperwork now. Where is mountain rescue and their horses? I know that I just have to keep going, that the end really is near, if not entirely in sight just yet, but oh, man, a horseback ride with someone else holding the reins sure would be nice right about now.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Office Space Style

Tonight I sat down to scan in all the adoption documents we have completed, and our scanner decided not to work. I was all set to get a good chunk of the never-ending paperwork done, and then...nothing from Epson 2480. I expect that kind of crap from our printer, but come on, Epson. Throw a girl who's sick of the drudgery a bone. It would have been nice to get this done tonight. Now Epson and I are going to have a date in the backyard with a tire iron. If you've ever wanted to destroy a piece of equipment Office Space style, you should come over.

I'm kind of kidding, but then again, maybe I'm not. We could roast marshmallows afterwards and have s'mores. What do you say? Should we do it? You can bring your frustrating, broken electronic equipment, too.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Good News

The health care bill just passed in the House. Lucy Snowe would like to take this opportunity to remind you that she supported Barack Obama in his historic run for the presidency. This makes her feel like she's a part of the moment today.

lucy snowe endorses barack obama for president

You're welcome, United States of America.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Developing My Skill Set

I spent the afternoon with my big kids, and by "with my big kids," I mean I was sometimes in the same house they were in, but mostly they played with their friends. I get the sense that, despite the lack of quality time spent together, Mary Liz would prefer that I still take them to school and pick them up most days. And, oh, I hate to disappoint the girl that raced away from my car because her friends across the street were home, but my life is ever so much better now that my days are not broken up by drop-off and pick-up and sometimes interrupted altogether by random days off from school. I still love the kids dearly, but I do not miss the Catholic school schedule, and I do not miss how many times a week I popped into Starbucks to grab an iced mocha to have in the car while I waited for them. Not that I don't love my baristas and enjoy chatting with them, but the habit was doing nothing for my waistline or my wallet. It's just all around better to have made the change. It was a hard change to own up to, and it was excruciating explaining to the kids' mom that, yes, I really did need to change my schedule, and no, it wasn't personal, but pretty much every day I am so glad I made the choice that I did.

This was no small thing for me, saying what amounted to a gigantic NO to people who really felt they needed me. I come from a background of serving and serving and serving some more, and if someone needs something and you can do it, you should! But that's not something that's really true; sometimes even if you can do it, you really shouldn't. I have learned this the hard way, and I am getting better. It is a good lesson, and if the end result of the effort is always this good, I have an excellent incentive to develop this skill further.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Diet Schmiet

All week long I've been eating better than usual. I hate to call it a diet since I really don't believe in dieting as is often defined by the American public, but I do believe in eating better to be more fit, which is what some people call a diet, so...conundrum. My good food to free-for-all-with-chocolates cycle usually goes like this:

1. Eat really, really, really well.
2. Start to add back in treats, but still eat mostly healthy food, including defined meals (healthy breakfast, lunch, AND dinner).
3. Get busy, feel like I can't be bothered by preparing actual food, slowly slide into a mix of coffee and sweet snacks, sweet snacks and coffee.
4. Get sick of it and return to the beginning.

I've returned to the beginning, and I'm still in the phase where it's pretty much awesome. This time, though, I'm making some changes to see if I can prolong my time at #2 and put of the slide to #3 for longer than usual. Ultimately, I'd like to be at #2 all of the time, but I know myself, and I recognize that the spiral to #3 may well happen again eventually. Still, I feel like I should do something a little differently in the #1 phase before trying to hit my stride at #2. So even though I am trying to eat healthy food all the time, if a friend calls for coffee or a family I am working for buys lunch out, instead of saying no, I'm just being wiser about what I get. A tall instead of a grande. No cheese or sour cream when I know that good guacamole will satisfy me just as well. So far, so good. As I head into the holidays, I'll get a better sense of how I'm doing. I figure if I can make it through all the holiday gathering without either eschewing all treats or going full-on hog wild with the cheesy casseroles and desserts, that bodes well for my future balance.

I do find that it is good to go into the holiday season with a lot of practice at moderation and a renewed sense of how well I feel when I eat well. I'm not good at willpower, but practice and proper motivation do me a world of good. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Another One About My Cat

Lucy Snowe feels left out if she cannot sit right next to me while I am working. Making cream cheese mints isn't very cat friendly, and I swatted her away from the table several times before she took what is her usual alternate perch.

little helper

She does the same when I am standing at the sink peeling and chopping vegetables. It's inconvenient, but I like it quite a lot. Eventually she moves on to something else anyhow, like holding down the clean laundry. Always a help, that cat.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Cleanliness is Next to Snobbery

Have you ever felt as if no one's home or kitchen could possibly as messy as or messier than yours? I am here to make you feel better. Behold:

shameful!
Click through to flickr to see the notes describing my not-so-secret kitchen shame.

That's my kitchen right this minute. I have all sorts of excuses, but it boils down to life getting in the way of proper clean-up and my stubborn streak still insisting on getting things cooked. In particular, I was hellbent on making chicken & rice soup from scratch, plus getting my apples into the crockpot and on their way to becoming applesauce before I left for yoga. By the time I'd peeled and cored and sprinkled liberally with cinnamon, I only had time to walk out the door, leaving this gigantic mess in my wake. Please note that I did take out the chicken carcass and other assorted compost. I should get a gold star for that. Later, hope to earn another gold star by unloading the dishwasher. Such ambition on a Tuesday evening! It will go down in history as...lacking. I'm okay with that. Because you know what? That applesauce tastes really good.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Weirdo Hippie Freaks (and How You Can Be One, Too) (No, Really, Join Us!)

I think it's already been established that I am pretty annoying when it comes to standards for how I eat. I mean, you know when someone refuses to buy M&M's that it's gone beyond the realm of normalcy, right? The good news is that we will still eat whatever you put in front of us; we're not rude on top of being hippie freaks. The bad news is that our child may feel like she lives in a cave. Because we also don't have a television. I know. Weirdos.

I recently was chatting with a friend about raising kids and food and television and whatnot, and she told me that of all the people who would follow through, I would probably be the one to do it. Because I'm stubborn, she said. And while that's part of it, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that these are already habits that we have established for ourselves; I can't imagine trying to establish these habits fresh with a baby in tow, or, even worse, with a family that is already used to a certain way of doing things. We are very lucky that we get to start off simply doing for our daughter what we already do for ourselves. I think our success will largely be based on how important an issue is to us as a whole, not how we feel about it only through the lens of whether or not it is good for our kid. It also makes a difference that we were able to make each change one at a time, so the effect on our lives and our budget has been gradual. I wouldn't expect a family that shops for chips and Ho-Hos at a discount store to suddenly dive into the bulk aisle of a health food store. Similarly, I wouldn't expect a family who watches television nightly to just turn it off.

So I say: start small. If you want to change something for yourself or for your entire family or for the family you are working on building, pick one thing, and do it. When it seems normal to be doing that first thing, do something else. Eventually, you'll get where you're going. And if where you're going eventually leads you to stop eating M&M's? Well, I hope you enjoy some for me before you get to that point. I miss those brightly colored discs of joy.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Fantasy

I've been thinking a lot lately about body image and shape and eating and nutrition and all those boring things I get obsessed with if my trousers are either too tight or more loose than usual. Exercise also, let's not forget! Frankly, I find the whole thing to be a bit tedious. I subscribe to a certain magazine that I enjoy quite a lot, but that pretty much prints the same stories with slightly different recommendations each time. It always boils down to eating right, exercising, and drinking more water. If I see another chart showing a week's worth of meals at a glance, I might run away screaming. I always hate their recommendations; I don't want someone else to tell me how to shop for my food or what to eat when or how to prepare it. My life doesn't fall onto a grid very well, and neither do my eating habits. I tend to swing like a pendulum from labor-intensive, all-homemade to Hey, look at these chocolate peanut butter yogurt pretzels! All I have to do to eat them is lift the lid of this holiday decorative jar. But I still have this fantasy that someday I will make nearly everything from scratch, and the pretzels will grow stale because our bellies were too full of homemade goodness to want any of them at all.

A girl can dream, can't she?