Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Can Give You What You Need

You need a nap.

you need some of this right now

A slow wake up.

ten more minutes, mom

Perhaps a belly rub.

okay, a belly rub will do

Wake up. It's time to go.

(To your next napping spot.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

What? You're saying it's not Tuesday?

SHHHHHHHH.

Besides, I already told you that I'd post this late 50% of the time. Click on the photo for details of the outfit.

tuesday, april 27, 2010

My official excuse for posting late half of the time is that Tuesdays keep me busy, especially when I am feeling ambitious and decide that after work I should make dinner, hard-boiled eggs, and cookies all at the same time. Eggs and cookies are mainstays in our kitchen, and we were out of both, and as for dinner, well, I've just not been very good at making dinner lately, and I am trying to do better. In addition, I unloaded the dishwasher while completing my cooking tasks. I have an aversion to unloading the dishwasher in a timely manner, and it was a straight up miracle that I did it on the same day the dishes got clean. I considered that effort enough to slack off on other things and treat myself to a late night of reading. I finished this book, which I'm reading for one of my book clubs, and I highly recommend that you read it if you have time to ignore all your other assigned tasks. You won't want to put it down.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Make it Work Monday: Get Through Your Workout Even When You're Tired

I often start a workout with the best of intentions and, about five to ten minutes in, suddenly feel as if I just can't do it anymore. Generally this is related to eating crap for hours beforehand or having a coffee at the wrong time and having the caffeine and sugar drop off shortly into the workout, but sometimes it's just due to life and stress and general lack of rest. For years I thought that sinking, tired feeling was reason enough to quit working out and call it good for the day, but one day when I stubbornly stuck it out, I discovered that if I stick it out through the low point, my body gets the message that it's not over yet and presents me with some more energy. It's all a matter of tricking myself in order to make it through that low point until my body taps into my energy stores (mostly located on my inner thighs, I believe) and kicks it back into gear. If I use all my usual tricks and find that I am still feeling as if I'm at the bottom of the low point, I know that I am simply too tired and it's time to throw in the towel.

The key here is to figure out what it takes to distract yourself for a short time so that you are thinking about something other than the workout. I really enjoy daydreaming, so often I'll just sink into a daydream and that will do it. In tougher times, I use a combination of reviewing my to do list for the week and running through what comes up next in the workout, convincing myself that it's really not long until it's over. After I've distracted myself for three to five minutes, I usually have made it to the other side of the low point. That's not very long. Then I finish the workout and treat myself to a cookie a healthy snack.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wrestle

I'm finding I don't have a lot to say in a reasonable format beyond what I do on Mondays and Tuesdays. So much of what I have to say has a ring of judgment to it, and I don't want that to be what comes across on the page. In particular, I'm thinking a lot lately about our adoption and what adoption means and how it's not all sunshine and roses, how much of what I post to our adoption blog makes adoption sound 100% positive for all involved, and I don't think I should do that. This isn't just a story about us as parents. We are number forty-one on our agency's waiting list now, and while it is exciting to us because we will finally have a baby to put in all these baby clothes I've bought on clearance, at the same time it means that we are forty-one tragedies away from our little girl. Forty-one broken dreams, broken hearts, broken families. I will not be our girl's first mother, and if the world were fair and just, I wouldn't be her second mother. She'd only need one. I grieve that loss. I wonder what kind of terrible person can get so excited about the opportunity to put a really cute dress on a really cute baby when it means that to do that, something horrible must happen to bring her to our arms. I wrestle with that. I read everything I can so I can do my very best to mother her in a way that will soothe her loss in some small way. I am not looking for reassurance here; I am just saying that this is what I am thinking about, reading about, praying about, grappling with. It is hard, but it is good.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

On Saturday I ended up at Target twice, once for myself and the second time to help a friend choose some bedroom linens and a lamp. During the first visit, I noticed the shirt I wore today (uh, spoiler alert?), but didn't feel justified in buying it. The second go round, I forced my friend to go look at the shirt with me and tell me it was worth $14.99. She said yes, and that was all the encouragement I needed. And you know what? It's totally worth $14.99. Maybe more.

tuesday, april 20, 2010

Click the picture if you want a lot more details on the outfit. A LOT. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

It used to be that I didn't work on Tuesdays, but then my schedule with one family changed, and now my day flows from Mary to errands to work to whatever else is going on. For the most part, I find that I prefer not to change in between activities, even if I've got the time. So most of these Tuesdays will be about putting together outfits that are both pretty enough for a woman who calls me a model and also are functional for errands and child chasing. Fortunately, on Tuesdays I've got just one toddler girl to look after, so wearing a skirt is perfectly appropriate.

Phew.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Make it Work Monday: A Better Hard Boiled Egg

Do you like hard boiled eggs? How much? If you think they're okay or don't like them at all, it's possible that you have the same problem I used to have. The way I learned to cook hard boiled eggs is this:

1. Place eggs in a lidded pot and cover with cold water.
2. Place the pot (with lid on) over high heat until the water comes to a full boil.
3. Reduce to simmer.
4. Cook for 20 minutes.
5. Immerse in cold water bath.

Do you cook your hard boiled eggs this way? If so, you need to stop. Do it for your taste buds. Here's how to turn out a hard boiled egg that is fully cooked, yet still tender, with yolks that are still yellow when they are done cooking:

First, you must start with good quality eggs. I'm talking truly free range, locally raised, farm fresh eggs. And by free range and farm fresh, I don't mean that this is what is says on the carton. I mean that you know which farm it came from, and you know that their chickens spend their days outdoors. Plenty of chickens are classified as free range that really aren't; all that is required to be classified as free range is that the chickens have a door they can exit if they so choose. However, if you keep chickens indoors for a certain period of their lives before they begin laying eggs, they will likely continue to do as they have always done and just stay indoors once a door is provided. Having a door on your chicken house does not mean your chickens are free range, and it will show in the egg quality if your chickens never venture outdoors. True free range chicken eggs have richly colored yolks and a richer flavor. So: free range, local eggs. That's where you start. Then you:

1. Place eggs in a lidded pot and cover with cold water.
2. Place the pot (with lid on) over high heat until the water comes to a full boil.
3. Remove pot from heat, keeping the lid on.
4. Allow eggs to remain in the pot for 10 to 12 minutes. The water will continue to cook the eggs even without additional heat.
5. Immerse eggs in cold water bath.

Then, peel and eat one warm. I like them plain, but on sliced on toast with a bit of sauce of your choice (salsa, hollandaise, whatever) is good, too.

Yum.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Reckless

Usually I have a thing about balancing my exercise and eating, and basically that "thing" is that I work out really hard so I can eat whatever I want. But today I am so tired that I put my phone in the wrong bag before I left home, stuck my wallet in the wrong bag at work, and had to go back by both places to get anything done. I am tired. So I'm not working out, which means I should probably be eating salad or something, but so far I've snarfed down a grande peppermint mocha, a cheese danish, half a blueberry scone, a brownie, a bowl of couscous, and a piece of cheese. Right now, I am enjoying a frappuccino while sitting firmly on my surely-expanding bottom.

Tomorrow's plans feature a brunch buffet in Nebraska. Omelets! Prime rib! Hours of sitting on that same surely-expanding bottom in the car!

I'll just go ahead and budget for bigger pants right now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Someday

My favorite days are the ones I spend at home alone, getting things done. My work hours have decreased lately (a mixed bag of more time and less money), and I find myself with Wednesdays on my own. Wednesday is what allows me to catch up with all the mundane stuff of life here so that on my work days I have an hour or two to transform spaces like this:

before

to this:

after

It will take only five more chunks of time and a chunk of money to extend that along the entire side of the house. When that's done, I've got ideas about stairs leading up our hill in the back. Won't it be nice when I don't have to get a running start to get up that hill when it's rained? Taking out the compost will be a lot simpler. So will selling the house.

So much of what we do around here is with our eyes on the future. Someday, we will move away from here. Someday, we will not be the people who are responsible for maintaining a house. Someday, we will be renters.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

When You Fail to Put the Laundry Away in a Timely Manner

This is what happens:

what happens when you don't put the laundry away in time

What? I am cuter on this new bed. I mean, if that's even possible. Thanks, guys!

what happens when you don't put the laundry away in time

You have disturbed my nap, and now I am angry. I am giving you the owl ears! ANGRY!"

But hey, at least the laundry's clean. Ish.

I guess we'll have to lint roll that shirt on top. Sorry, Jarod.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

This will be redundant if you click through and read the outfit details, but I feel I must mention that I slept poorly last night and was too tired to wear something really fancy. This outfit is my new Designated Travel Attire; it feels like pajamas but looks presentable. Add accessories and a cardigan, throw some socks in the carryon, and I'm ready for a long, comfortable (well, as comfortable as one can get in coach) flight. This outfit makes me wish I were planning another trip to Nice. (I'd stay here, in case you're wondering. I mean, really, we'd probably choose a one bedroom that's cheaper, but since this is my dream trip, I'm throwing the dream apartment in there.) (I'd also fly first class.) (Oh, forget it, in my dreams I'd just live in that apartment. It's right above the ice cream shop.)

Wait, was I going to show you a photo or something? Okay, here:

tuesday, april 13, 2010

I also must confess that I fibbed a bit to Mary today, in that way that we all sometimes fib to spare the feelings of others while getting something we desperately want and/or need. I told Mary that I couldn't stay as long as usual because I had a lot to do. She, as always, asked what I had to do, and I told her, "Taxes." Which is true, and I am about to work on them, but the truth is that I left Mary's early because I really needed a nap.

I know.

Sorry.

(But it was glorious.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Make it Work Monday: Get Rid of Your Acne

A few months before my wedding, the system I'd been using to treat my acne stopped working. I'll admit that it hadn't ever been perfect; I always had at least one zit, and the dark marks each one left behind were visible for months. But it was better than anything else I used, so I stuck with it, even though it bleached my clothes and towels and pillow cases, even though it irritated my skin. I suppose then, that it was a terrible blessing in disguise that it stopped working and I became willing to try anything, anything at all to get rid of what quickly became a case of cystic acne with a side of major inflammation. At one point, my skin was so inflamed that I couldn't use topical treatments at all. To calm it down, I embarked on a strict course of no sugar, ever, at all, NONE, plus a very pricey skin care line that I still use today. But the skin care products didn't end the acne; they only calmed my poor skin just enough that I could use the Acne.org Regimen with a few modifications.

I highly recommend that you view all the videos, but in particular the one about applying benzoyl peroxide. The system I used before had benzoyl peroxide in both the cleanser and the treatment lotion, but it proved to be both too much and not enough, which makes no sense until you realize that I needed a gentle cleanser for my sensitive skin (in fact, most people need a gentle cleanser, whether they have textbook sensitive skin or not), but more treatment post-cleansing to combat the bacteria that was causing the acne. I'm sure that if I followed Dan's regimen to a T, I'd still have clear skin, but there are some modifications I prefer to keep simply because they work for me.

1. I still use cleanser and moisturizer from Origins. I don't have to use much to get the job done, and it's incredibly gentle on my easily angered skin. At some point I might be willing to try something else natural and gentle and see if it works, but for now I'm just enjoying calm, clear skin.

2. I only apply the treatment at night and use even more than is recommended. It takes a long time to rub it in (enough time to catch up on episodes of The Office or Modern Family, so no time is wasted), but it has proved to be effective. I do this mainly because I don't like the way benzoyl peroxide bleaches out the necklines of my shirts if I use it during the day. This might not be an issue for most people, but I am often outside for work in the summer, and even if I'm careful not to touch my clothes to my face, sweat will transport the peroxide right to my shirt for me. No thank you. I'll leave the bleach rub-off to my white towels and pillowcase. (Which, yes, if you are using benzoyl peroxide, you need to use white towels and sleep on a white pillowcase.)

3. I use an exfoliant three times a week to eliminate dead skin cells that can clog up pores. This has eliminated the few zits I was still getting using just cleanser/treatment/moisturizer and also worked wonders on my acne scarring.

That's it. This system has worked for me for two and a half years now, with an average of one hormone-induced zit per month. Just one, and it's never enormous. This works. Period. I'll risk sounding like an infomercial here and say that if you have acne, you need to try this. You don't have anything to lose but the zits.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Torn Between Two Lovers Diaper Bags

It's silly the things I'm totally torn between two (or more) choices about. My usual remedy to that is just to buy something and get it over with. So today I bought a diaper bag for our hypothetical baby, and I am pretty sure I'll experience some buyer's remorse, but I clipped all the tags off already because it was an excellent deal ($39 for a $130 bag), it meets all my diaper bag specifications (wipe clean fabric inside and out, plenty of pockets, but not too many, built in clips to hang it from the stroller handle), and if I didn't get this one, I would stew and fret about it and keep a ridiculously expensive bag on our Amazon registry, thus alienating everyone who currently thinks we have a lick of sense (we don't, but we like to create that illusion for the comfort of all involved). So we have a diaper bag, and we will not be getting a different diaper bag, and I will not be fretting about which fabric to choose to make a diaper bag and if I'll even have time and patience to make that diaper bag.

In all consumerist honesty, this little Petunia Picklebottom number is the bag I want most of all. But that's not the bag we'll use; our bag is a Lesportsac with a mouse print, all cute and bright and very functional. So I suppose it's silly that I feel relief that I have a bag, but a little bit sad that it's now official that I will definitely not own a $210 baby bag.

I don't know if you've noticed this about me, but sometimes I am all kinds of ridiculous.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lazyass Gardening: Sloth Takes Over

Last year I around this time, I made the executive decision, as chief gardener and the only one who really cared, to embark on a season of lazyass gardening. Or so I thought. Oh, I didn't know the half of my inclination to just let things go.

This year, I decided that none of the vegetables in my upper garden yield well enough to bother at all. Forget about planting seeds; I'm turning it into a strawberry patch. The one strawberry plant I planted last year has returned with a dozen friends, and if there's one thing I like, it's a plant that spreads on its own and produces fruit that can be made into jam. I transplanted Original Strawberry and all his friends to the hastily de-tarped and raked upper garden, gave them the tiniest drink of water, and tucked them in with last year's grass clippings. I added three plants I bought this morning at the farmer's market for good measure, and that was that. I'll have Jarod continue to spread grass clippings around the plants when he mows, and if there are strawberries, I'll pick them. If it gets dry and I'm feeling really ambitious, I'll give them a drink of water. That's it. Upper garden, good riddance; future u-pick strawberry patch, welcome.

In order to fully embrace the slothfulness, I've also planted perennials around the bird bath so that I won't have to bother planting next year, and I'm hanging a bird feeder instead of a hanging basket. I may or may not remember to refill the bird feeder after I first hang it up. I reserve the right to leave all birds frustrated and in search of their own meals.

I will be planting tomato plants, and in all the free time I hope to be creating by simplifying the rest of my gardening, I plan to slow roast and freeze as many cherry and grape tomatoes as possible. If luck wins out and peppers and large tomatoes grow well, I'll preserve those for the winter as well.

Time will tell if I'll get around to planting a few things in the square foot gardening system my dad has offered to help me put together; for now I'm feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing. If I get to it, then great, we might have variety squashes. If not, maybe next year.

Or maybe not.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

This Tuesday with Old Lady Mary

Let's just accept the fact that I am going to be late posting my Tuesday photo at least half of the time. Deal?

Without further ado:

tuesday, april 6, 2010

Click it for details. You know how to do it; you're all quite bright, I'm sure.

...

Another day has dissolved into a pile of laundry and dishes and groceries and returning something to a mall. I was wondering why I was so tired this evening, but, ah, yes, the mall. I mean, I'm pretty sure it's not the pedicure that did it, right? I'm guessing no.

Happy Wednesday, everybody.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Make It Work Monday: It's Not Even Monday Anymore for Some of You

Make it Work Monday has been waylaid by my attempt to, well, make this Monday work. There wasn't anything particularly taxing about today, but we did get vaccinations and then we felt we should have a treat, so we went out to dinner, and then I still needed to work out, and...

Did I mention we watched all of Dr. Phil and a good deal of Oprah while waiting to get two measly shots apiece? The people at the travel medicine clinic seemed perfectly nice, but their priority was clearly not on getting things in a timely manner.

Not that I'm complaining. I never get to watch Oprah.

So I guess Monday works after all, and it's all about looking on the bright side. It wasn't a glorious day, but it was a good one. It worked. I hope your Monday worked, too.