Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Two Months Gone, Still Rambling On

I meant to keep up this blog, but more and more my family life, which I write about on what was originally our adoption blog and what is now our family blog, bleeds into everything else. I have struggled a bit with this, with how to look at this time in my life, who I am and what I do and where everything fits. Life is not so easily compartmentalized, and the commitment to mother Zinashi has very much colored everything. I hear women talk about maintaining their sense of self outside of motherhood, whereas I feel that motherhood, particularly this route I've chosen, intertwines with everything else that makes up who I am. That I chose motherhood via adoption says something about me. That I choose to make raising my child my occupation at this time says something about me. And I don't think it makes me less of a woman or less myself because I have come to believe that this time of my life is to be set aside to be devoted to the healing of my children. I say children because we are in the (very slow) process of becoming parents to a second child. Zinashi has needed me in ways that it would be hard to accommodate if I were doing work other than that of a mother and homemaker, and I know that our next child will likely need the same thing, at least in the beginning. This is not to say that Zinashi rules the roost here, but that of the three of us, her needs are most pressing, and I respect that. Emotional trauma in children should not be treated differently than other illnesses. If a child contracts a disease and needs a parent present in a way that won't allow that parent to work, no one bats an eyelash. And to be fair, most people don't balk at my assertion that Zinashi's needs are such that one parent in our family needs to have parenthood be their main occupation. But some people do. And some people get defensive because they think I am saying that they should make similar accommodations for their child. But I'm just saying that Zinashi has needed this. I tried working a bit, and it didn't work out. That I might be able to do something that could be completed when she is sleeping is absolutely true, but I have not found that thing yet. So for now, my job is mothering and housekeeping and such, and I am trying hard not to have a problem with the fact that some people seem to have a problem with my choices.

So that's where my head and my life are these days. We are still in limbo regarding moving, and in even greater limbo than before, if that's even possible (and it is). Maybe when we are no longer in limbo, when we are settled and doing a home study again and I don't have to think about potentially packing boxes or potentially having someone else pack them for me, I can come up with a worthy hobby and make that part of my life. For now, though, I'll just settle for watching a lot of Felicity on Netflix streaming, crashing into bed, and getting up to coffee myself through another day of motherhood. I like life like this.

Well, except for the limbo.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Life After My Whole30

I know now that both dairy and wheat (and most grains, probably) make me break out. Oddly enough, sugar seems to be fine. But still, I can't just go hustling off to get frozen custard with Jarod and Zinashi, and that's no fun. But I refuse to go back to using acne medication when I can clear up the problem without it, so it's my choice, really. I honestly thought I'd be willing to just go back to benzoyl peroxide evenings if the things I like best were the things causing the acne, but it turns out that I really want to be kinder to my body.

The hardest part of this has been figuring out what to eat when I don't feel like cooking. I can't just grab a sandwich anymore. At some point I hope to figure out how to make sandwich bread that doesn't contain grains, but for now it's just not happening. Is it weird to mourn the loss of sandwiches more than the loss of my beloved iced mochas? Maybe.

I am still deciding how I'll handle vacation. I did discover that when I eat a higher quality bread product, the breakout is minimal. Everything we eat in France is fresh, made by hand, practically right in front of us, so my hope is that it will be fine. And in London there's always Pret-A-Manger for soup and salad.

I feel like this blog has only become about the Whole30 stuff I'm working out, but there's not much else to tell about my personal life right now. I'm excited about vacation. I'm excited about fall. I'm tired from staying up too late. None of these things are particularly new and exciting. Life rolls on, and next time I'll think of something else to say. Because next time? I probably won't have had to cobble together a dinner of hard-boiled eggs and fruit, and I won't be home alone while the rest of my family is out for ice cream.

(PS--Today is the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and as much as I would love to commemorate that in some way, I have very little to say about it that isn't said better by someone with more personal ties to the date. But I am remembering, and I know that being unable to eat wheat and dairy due to adult acne is really nothing compared to the real pain and suffering others have gone through and go through every day.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Whole30, the Aftermath

Well. I just realized that I hadn't given any sort of an update since I finished the Whole30 and reintroduced foods. Here's the lowdown. For two weeks I have basically been giving myself acne by ingesting various foodstuffs. Turns out that dairy and wheat are both horrible for my skin, and other grains aren't awesome. Wine is fine. I haven't checked on legumes yet; I just have little interest in them. Sugar is still a bit of a mystery, as I haven't added it back in an isolated fashion. There's always a bit of something else in there, like in the birthday cake I ate at my nephew's party and the mint brownies I had at the church school meeting. So my skin isn't wholly clear, and it might be the sugar, or it might be residual effects of all the other crap I ate these two weeks, but it's not horrible, and I'd rather just finish the container of chocolate covered espresso beans before I do the work necessary to figure it out. It's tough, after thirty days eating a very restricted diet, followed by two weeks of finding out that some of your favorite things are no longer an option for you most of the time, to go strict again and figure out how the last couple of forbidden foods affect you. I have thoroughly enjoyed the coffee cream chocolate bar from ALDI and the chocolate covered espresso beans from Trader Joe's that I've consumed this week. Which means, yes, that my sugar craving did not disappear.

The thing about my craving for sweets is that it's not a standard sugar craving. I don't want straight up sugar. I can't just eat fruit and be fine with that. In fact, I hate the really sweet, fruity candies, like Skittles and Sweet Tarts. I can only eat one or two Starburst at a time. Jelly beans? No thank you. It's the richer sweets I crave, things like good salted caramels and high quality chocolate. I have a sweet tooth that's tempered by something else...maybe fat? I'm not sure. But it doesn't surprise me that I still love sweets.

What does surprise me is how easy it has been to leave bread and pasta and cheese behind, how I don't really miss any of the starches that much. I truly enjoy the kind of dinners (protein with a big vegetable helping next to it) that we had when I was doing the Whole30, and it's been a no-brainer to continue making those kinds of dinners now. I really thought I would miss noodles a lot more, but not so much. And as for bread, what I really miss is the ease of ordering some Jimmy John's sandwiches to be delivered to our porch, and not the food itself. And that's good.

I have yet to figure out if I really want to conquer my sugar issue. I am undoubtedly eating less since many things I used to have sugar in are on the no-go list of dairy and wheat and other assorted grains. When I finally buckle down and figure out if sugar causes an immediate acne response (other things have produced blemishes in twelve hours or less, like a sick kind of magic), I might feel differently about it, but for now, I am not feeling the urge to cease picking up some chocolate that isn't dairy heavy from time to time. (And by "dairy heavy," I really mean things made with milk as opposed to heavy cream and/or butter. It really is true that the things I am sensitive to in milk are not in the cream part.) Maybe at some point it will be worth it to me, but I think for now I've got plenty of other things to get used to. I'll take it ten steps at a time, and leave that one last step for later.

For now I'm just enjoying knowing that there is a solution for my acne that doesn't involve rubbing in a gel for ten minutes every night and having to use only white towels and sheets, then sometimes still bleaching things because my hand touches my face and then I touch something with my hand. I really thought I'd be all right with using the zit cream if the only thing to come of this was to figure out what causes the acne, but I actually really like having the freedom that using just a cleanser and a moisturizer can afford me.

I also really like having all my clothes fit again. It's not so much that I have a majorly hot bod now or something (because I don't), it's just that what I see in the mirror now looks familiar to me. It's my old shape, without all the miles and miles of running. I'll take it. It's comfortable.

Thanks, Whole30.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I Did It, and Then I Got to Have Coffee Again

I completed my Whole30 and am now adding things back in one by one to see how I'm affected. Turns out that I didn't completely obliterate my sugar cravings, but I managed to pick up more cravings for fruits and vegetables and the like, so there's more balance. I've been doing a little casual Googling as I add categories of foods back in, and what cracks me up most is all the posts where people are talking about how they ate too much fruit and they knew it and their lives are ending because it's just too much sweet food and they might die or something! Or be Whole30 failures! And that right there is why I didn't buy the success guide on offer; I don't want to know if I'm supposed to limit my fruit. People, please. I was eating six-cookie lunches and having pretty much no fruit at all on a regular basis. Give me another restriction, and I might smack you. Frankly, if the sweet I'm craving is the sweet of fruit, I'm really not going to worry about it. If someday I do worry about that sort of thing, I hope someone will smack me, and hard enough that it makes a sound.

I am loving having coffee again. I did a little research and decided that palm sugar is the way to go for sweetener, then laced it with a moderate amount of heavy cream. I'm still enjoying some of the Sidamo beans we brought back from Ethiopia (woe to us all when they are gone--WOE!), and it is so smooth and delicious that I am beside myself with pleasure each morning when I take my first sip. It tastes better than it ever did, and let me tell you, it tasted AWESOME before.

Now I proceed with the rest of my plan for adding things back in. Dairy gave me blemishes within twelve hours, no joke, and I only had two small slices of blueberry cheddar and a small glass of milk. Oh, dairy, we will meet again, but far less frequently than before. Because the reaction was so prompt, I went ahead and moved on to the next phase, sampling straight up sugar today. This is, incidentally, why I am still awake to write this. I had a giant dark chocolate iced mocha (made with almond milk, with thanks to Whole Foods for having non-dairy milk selections that are not all soy or grain-based), and then tonight I found a coffee crunch dark chocolate bar in the basement that I'd meant to give someone for Christmas, but had slipped off the pile of gifts I'd put by the stairs. I brushed the cobwebs off and ate half of it, discovering partway through the mouthgasm I was experiencing after a month off chocolate that the "coffee crunch" portion was just bits of espresso beans. Whoops. Someday I'll be sleepy again...I think.

I'm pretty sure the extent of my sugar issues are related to crashing hard when it wears off and becoming bloated in a most unattractive fashion. I'm going to consider that trial done as well and move on to the next round. Tomorrow I'll give it a bit of a rest from reintroduction during the day and have a bit of injera at dinnertime to kick off the grain tryouts. Because it's a fermented grain product, the effects will be less than straight up grain flour, so it will be Sunday a the earliest that I'll truly test the grain waters. I'm planning on going big with a buttery croissant*. The reaction later may or may not be pleasant, but for the moment I'm taking a bite, I'm sure it will be divine.

It's good to be done(ish).

*Because butter and heavy cream contain fewer milk proteins than other dairy products, there's generally very little reaction to those. Ideally, butter should be clarified to remove remaining milk proteins, and heavy cream should be limited, but did you get the part about my former six-cookie lunch habit? I think I'm not going to worry about a splash or two of deliciousness in my coffee each morning or butter used to bake a croissant.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Have a Plan

I am resisting the urge to give thoughts about my Whole30 until I have finished AND reintroduced foods. All I really know right now is that I no longer need any acne medication. None. This from the girl who was spending ten minutes every night just rubbing in benzoyl peroxide gel. So the big goal of reintroduction is figuring out what the acne trigger is. If it's dairy, I already know that the occasional ice cream or frozen custard will absolutely be worth the benzoyl peroxide application. Not nightly, mind you, but just when I decide to partake. If it's grains, I'm not sure what I'll decide. Probably that some treats are worth it, and some I can figure out how to make myself without grains.

So the plan is to reintroduce dairy first on Thursday, then sugar on Friday or Saturday, then grains next week. One grain at a time. If dairy is fine, I'll likely just cook up some breakfast oats with milk and see how I do, and if that seems good to go, I'll grab a wheat-laden something or other later in the week, followed by something with corn. I'm fairly certain that brown rice is not causing my acne, so I'll not make a big deal out of that one. And as for the legumes category, well, that will probably just happen when I eat something with peanut butter or go out for Mexican food. Potatoes are the only other remaining forbidden food, and those were due to not being nutrient dense, so I think I can just have those whenever.

Beyond figuring out the cause of my adult acne, I'm also interested in maintaining a diet in which I am mostly eating whole foods. I too easily fall back on baked goods and very sugary coffees, and I'd like to do less of that. It's a slippery slope that I've slid down before, though, so I am not saying that anything will happen in that regard. Maybe I will do better. Maybe I won't. Maybe I will become a Whole30 evangelist.

We'll see.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Happy Medium?

It occurs to me that one week from Thursday, I'll be done with the Whole30 and will need some sort of plan for reintroducing foods into my diet. I don't want to do it all willy nilly, as I'd like to find out what foods are triggers for certain issues, and by certain issues, I mean acne and grey hair. This morning I looked in the mirror after washing my face and noticed that the grey hairs that normally populate the area near my right temple were gone. I was baffled. But then I rememberd how stress turns hair grey, and it occurred to me that eating more healthy foods and eliminating harmful ones might have the opposite effect. Still, it's weird, right?

I don't really care that much about the grey hair, but more about what it means overall for my health. I'd like to approach adding foods back in a way that will enlighten me as to what is worst and what is okay in limited amounts. Much to my surprise, I haven't missed pasta or even cheese that much. I have missed desserts and sometimes a bit of bread (good bread, warm on the table at a nice restaurant, with a side of butter, bread) and definitely my coffee. DEFINITELY my coffee.

I know that a lot of people who do the Whole30 and stay on the plan are out for optimal health and sticking to a system that will keep them eating this way most of the time. And while that's nice and all, what I'd really like is to enjoy food again. We've had some good dinners that I will definitely cook on a regular basis going forward, but I've missed just sitting down and really enjoying a meal. I think it's okay for food to bring pleasure; it doesn't have to just be a tool that is fuel for your body. I also think it's okay for some foods or drinks to be comforting, as long as you're not comforting yourself more often than not.

On Saturday we gave the go ahead for searchers to look for our daughter's family in Ethiopia; they are in the drought affected region, and we have been quite worried about them. While we were figuring out a way to look for them that would work with our budget, I'll admit that I had a heavy heart, but it was nothing compared to what overtook me once I'd emailed all the documents and accumulated information and recent photos of our girl. In that moment, I surely would have liked to sit still with a nice coffee, sweet and with cream, wallowing in my sudden grief.

It's not that the Whole30 people say you can't ever have your sweet coffee with cream, but I get the sense from reading articles on the resource page that wanting a dessert just because you want it is frowned upon, and craving a familiar warm drink when you're sad is not the direction they want you to head. I don't want that to be my life, frankly. At the same time, I also don't want to go back to eating very few fruits and vegetables and grabbing junk because I don't want to make the effort to eat something good. So I'm looking for a happy medium. I've got nine days to figure it out.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


Oh, hi. I am still doing that crazy thing wherein I don't eat any sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, or anything else delicious. In fact, that's exactly how I describe it when people ask why I'm not partaking of dessert. I go, "Oh, on a total whim one Tuesday, after reading about it the night before, I decided to give up eating everything delicious in hopes of curing my acne and my sugar cravings." Today is Day 15, and I am not going to lie to you: it is still kind of hard. It's probably feeling particularly hard right now because I just returned from Branson. Do you know what they have to eat in Branson, Missouri that is suitable for Whole30 consumption? NOTHING.

Okay, fine. They have eggs and fruit and salad bars. Still, I figured if I could tough it out through our annual Branson excursion with all the kiddos, I could tough it out through the rest of the thirty days. And I can.

Overall, this has been very good for me. I've used less and less benzoyl peroxide gel each night, and have yet to get even one zit. I've dropped all the weight I put on through two years of adoption paperwork and new motherhood, or at least I think I have, if my clothes are a good indicator of such things. I've been much better at staying hydrated, and I'm eating a TON more fruits and vegetables. I'm glad I'm doing it, even though I do miss a lot of small things. I miss grabbing an iced mocha when I head out to do errands by myself. I miss having a small chocolate something or other at the end of a taxing day. I miss having the option to have even a little treat. But I'm no good at moderation, so I'm going to ride out all thirty days and hope that at the end, I feel good enough and am used to eating this way enough that I won't backslide completely into six-cookie lunches.

We'll see.

Monday, July 25, 2011


It turns out that I'm doing okay with my Whole30. Today is the seventh day. What I like about it is that my eating is very straightforward. Scrambled eggs and green tea for breakfast. Salad with fruit and nuts and homemade vinaigrette for lunch. Meat and veg for dinner. Hard-boiled eggs and fruit/nut mix for snacks. What I don't like about it is that eating isn't very much fun. Can I say that? I know a lot of people sing the praises of the flavors! And the purity! Whereas I'm thinking, "I wouldn't mind having something to eat that excites me." But excitement isn't the point, is it? I've got a sugar habit to kick and some topical acne medications to cut back on.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that my clothes which were too tight are fitting ever-so-slightly better after just a week of this nonsense. If you go from lots of very sugary coffee drinks and cookies for lunch to no sugar, no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no alcohol, you're going to lose weight; it's not rocket science. And I'd love to say that the prospect of fitting back into my pants isn't what motivates me to keep going with this for another week, but it is. It would be a dream to stop using so much acne medication, but if it's a choice between chocolate coffee with cream and not needing vast quantities of benzoyl peroxide gel, I'd gladly just keep rubbing in the zit cream.

I do notice that my energy seems to be more even throughout the day, and I never ever get heartburn or feel that overly full feeling. I do like both of those benefits. But still, given the chance, I'd probably dive head first into an iced mocha. I'm hoping by the end of thirty days that impulse will be a little less pronounced. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Three Things

I maybe read about this yesterday and started doing it today. Like a crazy person. I might have sighed when I looked at my French press and knew I wouldn't be making myself coffee laced with chocolate syrup and half and half this morning, but we can overlook that. And maybe I went to Trader Joe's after we saw Old Lady Mary so I could get some actual fruits and vegetables to put in our house because we didn't really have any. (Shameful!)

Actually, I'll just go right ahead and blame the opening of a Trader Joe's in my city--within walking distance, no less--for this little fiasco. I couldn't afford all the stuff I need to eat on this plan if it weren't for Trader Joe's. But there they are, and things are cheaper, and I do love those freeze dried blueberries, so I'm just giving this a go. I've been eating too many lunches comprised only of cookies and/or chocolates, and I need to reset. It usually takes something a bit severe to get me back on track. I'm not so good at moderation.

So we'll see. I'm not making any promises or calling this a goal or anything of that nature. I'm just saying that I decided to try it, so I'm going to try it, and if it works out, that would be great. Thirty days isn't that long, right?


I can't afford to have my hair cut by trained professionals, so I bought a Groupon to have it cut by people who are training to become professionals. I figure that hair grows, and they are supervised by an instructor, so it's not like I'll end up with a mullet or something. Included in the cost of the Groupon is a spa mani-pedi. If you could see my feet right now, you'd understand why this is a very good thing.


Our adoption tax credit is supposedly on the way, so we can pay off our adoption debts and start planning a little trip. We thought we'd get the credit fairly quickly, and then would save for the trip, but that didn't work out. So now we've paid as much on our debt as plane tickets would cost, so we'll just book those as soon as we get the credit and a good flight deal comes along.

We are anxious to start saving for our next adoption, but we'd like to take Zinashi on a trip first, a special time for the three of us. We're doing our usual, and going to London (briefly, unless we find a very cheap place to stay) and Nice. I know a lot of people will think we're spendthrift nuts, but we like grocery shopping in France! With the right plane ticket deal, it's not much more expensive than a trip stateside in which we'd need to stay in a hotel and purchase our meals out. We sacrifice a lot of other small things to get to do this, and it is totally worth it to us. We can't wait to take Zinashi to the beach and out for gelato.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

fountain + wifi + me = ultimate dorknicity

This is a photo of me on my honeymoon. Nice, France, 2007. Catching a bit of WiFi in one of our favorite spots. And wearing some very nice pants I'd gotten on sale. There are a lot of reasons to like these pants, but mostly they just look good, iron easily, and hide stains with aplomb. I like these pants, and I'd like to wear them again on a regular basis. However, right now, while I can get them zipped and fastened, they're a little bit snug. I know that it's not a big deal, but at the same time, I know that my habits could be healthier, could be just plain better all around, and they would fit just fine.

As I've been reckoning with my own issues of being unsatisfied with my body, I've also been giving a lot of thought to what about my current life is not healthy or right in a larger sense. I do know from experience that if I am living in a healthy (or at least more healthy--I'll admit to liking sweets a bit too much) way that respects my body and also others, I can be happy with my size and shape. Even better, I can simply not think about it so much, which displaces time and energy better spent on greater things. So I've been mulling over the idea of too much, of how having more than we need can be disrespectful to those who struggle and still can't get their needs met. This applies to stuff we own, to our time, and yes, to our food. To spend more on food simply so I can have a snack whenever I feel like it (whether or not I am actually hungry) is to take something from someone who truly needs it. I could give more if I spent less, whether that be on clothes or on trinkets or on food that I really don't need. And so the tightness of my pants begins to reflect something more than just my own vanity issues. It gets right to the heart of what I believe and how I practice it.

So I have decided to get a little bit hungry sometimes. I will have breakfast, and I will have a light lunch, and I will have dinner, but I will not eat just because I can, or just because something is right in front of me. I'm giving up snacks, and if I get hungry in between meals, I will remember that this is the constant feeling of life for some people, and the fact that I know that something more is coming, is guaranteed to me, three times a day, is a great privilege.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The New Baseline

So I'm still working on my return to running. I started with a two mile out-and-back, moved up to three, and have progressed to four. I can run 3.5 miles without a problem and expect to do even better than that tomorrow night. I'm beginning to suspect that I could run a bit every day without the break day in between, but I don't want to push it. I want to slowly, steadily move forward. My goal as a baseline for usual mileage is five miles. Oh, and maybe working up to a ten mile run on a weekend morning. But I hate to say that last part out loud because what if it never happens? So I won't say anything if you won't say anything, and maybe by keeping quiet we can trick my body into actually getting that task done. Step one will be getting out of bed before everyone else. Tricky.

Related to the running is my desire to have my clothes fit. I have tried in earnest to appreciate and accept the body I have now, but the bottom line is that I have clothes that I like, and I had a body shape that I was accustomed to, and I want those things to be part of my life again. I don't know how to reconcile this to my desire to put body image in its place, but it is what it is, and I am willing to work a little harder workout-wise to be back where I was before. Because when your pants actually fit as a result of good habits, you don't obsess over your pants fitting or not. Or so I hope. I do think I've left behind the desire to be ever thinner, so at least that's some progress. And who knows, maybe if I were buying new clothes, I could just buy a size up and wouldn't care. But I'm not, so we'll just deal in reality, and I'll have extra incentive to put on my running shoes and meet the aforementioned goals (you know, the ones we're not talking about).

Run on, friends.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Waiting Really is the Hardest Part

Recently the book club I'm in read The Sparrow. I'll spare you the details, since it would take forever to explain the book, but it did give me my new motto, in Latin, no less. Cunctando regitur mundus. Waiting, one conquers all.

My life, and our life as a family, has been all about waiting, especially since we began our adoption process. We got practiced at waiting...to get each piece of our paperwork...to get our fingerprints...to get our dossier authenticated...to see our daughter's face...to get more photos from other traveling families...to get our court date...to get to Ethiopia...to get our embassy date...to get through customs...etc. You get the idea. It made us practiced in the art of waiting. To some extent, it made it easier as time went by, but what I've discovered now is that I may be running out of patience for waiting. And yet, wait we must.

There's a new possibility right in front of us, one that would mean huge changes, and we have no idea if it will come through. It would involve a big move, figuring out what to do with our house since we have determined that we likely can't get out of it what we owe on it at this point, getting settled in a new place, and getting into a routine that will work for us as a family. These are all really good things, but no ball can start rolling on our end until we know something. If it doesn't work out, there are other balls that need to start rolling, mostly in terms of me bringing in a little bit of money for our family budget, because we are also waiting on our adoption tax credit. I get more tightly wound about our budget every day, but there's nothing I can do until I know the outcome of this possibility. And that really stinks. I feel like we're in financial limbo.

What I hope, quite honestly, is that everything happens at once. It feels like there is so much pressure in this bit of waiting that a dam might burst, and I do hope that it does. That we move as we get the tax credit as we get the house rented as we march our feet into IKEA to get a mattress that isn't third hand and is big enough for our growing family. You can laugh at that last part, but Zinashi still needs to sleep with us, and her astounding growth (seven inches of height since we took custody) has left us with a lot less room to sleep. Our current mattress is on its way out anyway, so we figured we'd just go king or go home, even if it takes up the whole of the master bedroom. We can put dressers in the hall.

So there it is. Life. On the upside, I am shuttling stuff we don't need out the door so fast that my head is spinning, and that feels incredibly good. The possibility of a very quick move will do that to you, and it is a marvelous thing to be so motivated. I'm going to head to our basement right this minute and do some more. I need something to be satisfying besides my second cup of coffee; I'm gonna just do it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I am a Runner. Still.

I don't know why it didn't occur to me that running by myself didn't have to be a lengthy affair. I guess when your normal is six to seven hilly miles, it's hard to remember that some people run just two, or to conceive of yourself doing that. Despite the fact that I ran seven miles at a time for years, I am not capable of that now. Not after a year (or more, I didn't keep track of when things tapered off for good last year) off, anyway. So I gave myself permission to just get started again. Even if it's 10pm, I can still spend thirty or forty-five minutes running. It's better than sitting on my rear in front of the computer.

On the first night, I ran a solid 1.5 miles. The second, I added another quarter mile, and I'm fairly certain that tonight will find me running the entire two mile out-and-back I have planned for myself. That feels good. I didn't realize how much I missed running, really and truly missed it, until I took off for those first few steps, and felt joy.

I never had a running partner or belonged to a running group. Two of my three Pikes Peak Marathons I was joined for part of the downhill stretch by someone surely sent by God himself, to keep me from just sitting down on the side of the trail. But my training and my usual runs were almost always alone, because I liked it that way. I like the cool quiet of night and nothing but my thoughts for company. Now that I am a mother, with more to do and another person to share space with, it turns out this is even more important to me. Just me, just a valet key slipped over my finger, just my own slightly labored breathing. No iPod or GPS or any other accoutrements. Even earrings are removed to make things light. And it's heaven.

I think that often I have to let go of things to find my way back to them. I wrote on our family blog about finding a way to work out with Zinashi along, having resigned myself to meeting my need for movement with her along for the ride. It didn't occur to me until after I wrote it that I could slip out while Jarod was rocking her to sleep, that I could go a shorter distance or accept a more sleepy morning the next day. But it turns out that it's possible, and now probable.

Unless something goes awry, tonight will be the third night of my return to running. I always said that I hoped I would always be a runner, and was beginning to fear that it just wouldn't happen. But here I am, and it feels good, and I look forward to every night Jarod is tucking Zinashi in. For now, three nights a week, guaranteed. Three nights of quiet, of my two feet merrily slapping the sidewalk. Three nights of thought and purpose and joy.


Thursday, May 26, 2011


I've been treating our family blog like it's my job, and that's been really satisfying. If you spend any time over there, you might notice that there are some ads hanging out at the top and on the sidebar. We're pretty excited about those, mostly because they came in conjunction with an invitation to be part of the publisher community at Daily Buzz Moms. And because we're making a little money. Not a ton, or even what might be considered reasonable for the amount of time I spend writing posts, but I would write regardless, so it's nice to be making enough for a cheapo pedicure or an evening of skipping cooking and having a little Jimmy John's out on our porch once a month. It's great to have the incentive of having my writing featured elsewhere along with making a little bit from ads if people like it and decide to come back to our site. It gives me that little extra push I need to write the posts I want to write and to produce quality content on a regular basis. Right now I require myself to post over there every week day, and if I've got something to say on the weekends, I'll post then, too. It's made me better at making notes when I think of something I want to share and prompted me to share even when I think, "Maybe no one will want to read this." Well, no one has to read anything, and maybe they will want to read some silly little thing I want to post. So that's all good.

It's funny, though, after blogging here for so long, to find that the blog that is doing well is the one that I started for the sole purpose of keeping people in the loop about our adoption. I guess there are surprises around every turn, and you either rise to meet the circumstances and opportunities or lose out on what could be really great because you have some idea of how it should have gone. I will continue to write here, as I still feel like it's a space that gives me an outlet for things I wouldn't necessarily think are a good fit for our family blog, but I will write more over there. Which is all to say: if you want to read more of what I'm writing and haven't made the trip over to Finding Magnolia, you might want to do it now.

Happy Thursday, remaining readers of my poor little personal blog.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Need to Be Getting Things Done

But here I sit, blogging, reading other people's blogs, generally not getting things done. I guess I need something to do while I finish eating this banana that Zinashi did not finish eating at lunch. I get the majority of my midday calories from two sources: coffee drinks (I prefer the mocha variety, homemade from leftover morning coffee, or from a coffee shop if I'm lucky and feeling rich) and things Zinashi leaves on her plate. It is very rare that I make myself lunch. The morning's toast with nutella, minus one bite, and random fruit bits are my favorites, but I'll settle for some stale crackers and slightly warm cheese. I'm not picky.

The big excitement around here is that we are closer to moving than ever, and while it's not a guarantee, it does get us farther down that path than we've ever been, and that means that I must divulge our house of everything that we will not take with us if/when we move. My goal is to take a bag or box out every day and bring nothing new in. Not even if it's a good deal! Put down that adorable vintage lamp, Mary! No one cares that it only costs $8! This should actually be the narrative for my life, not just for my life when we might be moving. I so want to pass on good financial habits to Zinashi, and to live life more as a person and less as a consumer, but it's hard when things are so pretty.

The most difficult task is going through Zinashi's stash of stuff. There are two problems: 1) that she remembers every single thing that she is given, and 2) that a lot of the things I think are fabulous are not the things she thinks are fabulous. We need to find middle ground between Pillow Pets and wooden puzzles, giant plastic dollhouses and the IKEA abacus. Some things I'm sure she won't remember, and then I take them to Goodwill only to have her ask about them a week later. But I'm tired of having an extra room's worth of stuff that belongs to her, and we just can't keep it all. A lot of things will get "lost in the move," if you know what I'm saying.

I'm excited, no matter what happens. Even getting this far means that we are on our way towards something new, and so I'm going to take it as a good sign that we are closer to our goal every time we reach for it. It feels like we just keep waiting on the same things, and see little movement, but it's there. Little plants start growing beneath the surface of the earth before you see the green shoots, and I'm trusting that that's what's happening here. We're moving forward. We're growing. We're going to see things happen, and soon.


Which means I'd better get back to work in the basement.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Today at the mall I felt suddenly and inexplicably sad. Deeply, like someone had come in and placed the saddest, hardest bit of information inside my heart and said, "There. How's that?" But there was no reason. I was drinking an iced mocha and trying on shoes I wouldn't be buying. So I thought a lot about it and the conclusion I came to was that there is no conclusion. The last time I felt like this was when we were in the middle of Zinashi's adoption, before we'd seen her picture. Which is very strange because A) we are not in the middle of a second adoption, and B) we are not in the middle of a second adoption.

So. That's that.

On the home front, Zinashi has been having a hard time. Sleep regression, a little bit weepy, no definite reason except, you know, that she saw someone die and then her other someone had to leave her with strangers. People keep minimizing that, and saying that she's not sleeping because she doesn't want to miss anything, and I want to go, "Really?" Because I just can't get why anyone would minimize events so huge and terrifying. My baby, who was for all intents and purposes just a baby, yet old enough to be acutely aware of what was happening, went through a series of events that were traumatic to say the least. WTF, people? Can you not just allow that this might have lasting effects on her? That she isn't just like your ADHD neighbor's kid? Jeez Louise. Use a little common sense.

I really have nothing much else to say. Life rolls on. We're busy. We love our daughter. We feel like we're just waiting on a lot of things, so it leaves little to share in the way of news. But, you know, I do like these shoes. That I can tell you. Too bad it's not news.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I bought a pair of shoes today. I don't plan on wearing them unless the rest of my flats wear out before the end of the year, but if you saw the heel portion of the rest of my flats, you'd understand why I bought a pair that cost a mere $5.64 as a bit of insurance. You might also laugh at my worry that I won't have appropriate footwear for our vacation, which is in...October. What? I need to look somewhat fashionable on the French Riviera*. Don't look at me that way. Now I am certain of having at least two pairs of flats to pair with my dresses, because I set aside that other pair that I bought in the last week of 2010. And if you're wondering why I need more than one pair of shoes for vacation, let me just say that we walk a lot when we are in France. And when you walk a lot, your feet sweat. And if you wear the same pair of shoes every day, it's not pretty. I know this from experience.

I am trying to feel a little bit bad about breaking my commitment, but I just can't muster it. I am hard on shoes, and I know that, and I didn't really think about it before I decided on my 2011 shoe and clothing fast. When I stopped buying things for a year before, I had a lot more quality shoes in my collection to start with. Apparently now I only buy crap shoes, so they're all going to crap.

Besides the financial aspect, another purpose of this year was to recognize my own wealth in terms of clothes and to come away with an honest look at what I really wear and use. I've discovered that I wear the same four stripey shirts much of the time, that the really cheap Forever 21 jeans that I bought are surprisingly comfortable, and that none of my leggings stay up properly (which is the curse of having a long torso). I realize that I miss having a nicely tailored pair of trouser jeans and that I really am too lazy busy to iron most of the time. In 2012, I see a return to jersey knits and a trip to The Gap, not to mention a perusal of all the nice flats that Zappos has to offer.

For now, though, I'll just tuck my new shoes into the closet and hope I don't need to wear them before the year is out.

*If I can figure out how to purchase the plane tickets, that is. Would anyone like to buy a kidney?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


out our front window

It's a rainy, chilly day, and Zinashi is sleeping later for her nap than I'd usually like, but I can't be bothered to care. Frankly, she's probably way behind on sleep, and a day like this is the best day for her to catch up. I told her that if she does a "gobez tinyi" (good sleep), she can use her own money to get buna (coffee--but for her, really hot chocolate--don't tell her it's not coffee, though). Worked like a charm. I've had some quiet moments to update our Finding Magnolia blog, pay bills (drudgery), and eat a little something without someone clamoring for a bite. I'd say we all win in this situation.

Our old goal was to put our house on the market this month, but a lot of things have happened to make that impossible, the most noteworthy of which is the delay in processing of our adoption tax credit. We can't pay someone to do work on our house if we don't have money, so for now we are sitting tight and trusting that when the time is right, the money will be there, and we can put the house on the market, and all will work out as it was meant to. In the meantime, I am trying to get on top of my regular cleaning and do small projects along the way. The geraniums in the photo above are one of the small projects. Little by little, the house beautification will get done, and little by little I'll move on to other projects I'd like to complete, and little by little we'll make life happen.

So this is my work for now. Care of Zinashi always comes first, but after that there's work on the house, both of the usual maintenance sort and the making-it-nicer sort. There's work on our Finding Magnolia blog and work on our finances. It keeps me more than busy. Except for the part where I got paid, I don't miss having another job. I don't know how I'd get all the rest of this done if I did. I truly am in awe of all you single parents who manage to get everything done on your own. You are rock stars. Really.

And now, back to work.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why Orthodoxy?

Today we were baptized into the Orthodox Christian Church at our little church on Troost. It felt good. I know that a lot of our Protestant Christian family/friends/acquaintances are curious as to why we would take this step, and the answer is both simple and complex. We took this step because it was right for us. Because we found the Orthodox Church, and it found us. For me, it has a lot to do with compassion and humility and gentleness, and maybe most of all, with mystery. I think I may have been looking my whole life for faith that allows for mystery, that doesn't ask me to figure out the answer to everything, that fills in the spaces of why and how with the sense that sometimes we're simply meant to accept the mysteries of God.

And then there was my growing disillusionment with the politicization of the Evangelical Christian Church, with my longing to bring some of what I was figuring out in yoga to my spiritual life as a whole. Maybe that's a strange way to put it, but there it is. I wanted something that was kind and gentle to everyone, that didn't disguise gossip as a prayer request or allow for resentment because it was "righteous indignation," both of which I was guilty of more often than not. I wanted to learn to be truly kind, to have my faith guide me in that direction. Going to my first confession last night, it came full circle for me. After confessing my own sins before God and my priest, the priest asked if I forgave everyone. My breath caught in my throat as I whispered, "Yes." After laying my own flawed soul bare, it suddenly became clear that I was no better than anyone, and forgiveness was indeed the only option. I have never experienced this kind of clarity on my own, on a level that was less than cerebral. Of course I knew that I did plenty wrong, but there was still a holding out, a sense that I was better than someone else (or, if I'm honest, a lot of someone elses). And then suddenly, I wasn't. I'm not. It opened up my heart to a new kind of gentleness.

Tonight when I was looking up some things, I came across this quote, from a write only identified as "An Orthodox Priest."

"Ours is the way of compassion and humility. Ours is the way of personal, interior transformation. Of sacrament. Ours is the way of minute particulars. If we must, we will suffer gladly for the truth, but we will not be the cause of suffering for others. Because we are called to love our enemies, we have no enemies, only neighbors."

I think that right there sums it up. I hope that this is the truth my life will speak every day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Little House on the Prairie Workout

When I was a kid, my very first chapter book was Little House on the Prairie, and for my entire life--teenhood, adulthood, and all--that series of books has never gotten old. I'm not sure why I still love them, but I do. I can pick up those books and enjoy reading them even now. I love me some Laura Ingalls Wilder. I suppose it's no coincidence that when things are getting busy or I really don't feel like doing the dishes, I think about how the pioneers did it. "Mary," I say to myself, "Ma Ingalls heated water on her wood stove to wash her laundry and then scrubbed them on a washboard before drying them on a clothesline where they'd freeze in the winter; you can surely fold the things you just got out of the dryer." I think along the same lines when I'm whining about figuring out what to make for dinner or procrastinating doing the dishes. And lately, I think along those same lines when I consider working out.

My workout routine has pretty much evaporated into thin air. Let's start there. In the winter, when Zinashi was napping for an hour and a half, and we were stuck indoors anyway, it was easy and mostly fun to work out to DVDs indoors. But now she's napping for a shorter time, if at all, and once she's up, I don't feel like keeping both of us inside, so I just haven't been working out. I felt guilty about it, but then I thought, "Did Laura Ingalls ever work out? Did she come home from school and hit the treadmill while Ma cleaned the kerosene lamps?" No, she did not. Such a thing would have been ridiculous. Laura Ingalls got all the exercise she needed by living her life. So I decided that I should do that, too.

Now, I'm not going to start washing all my laundry by hand every Monday, but I am going to take the opportunities my life affords me to get exercise without it being formal exercise. We've been walking when we need to go to Target, bicycling when the destination is farther. I've been trying to sit less and do more physical work around the house. So far, so good. My arms have yet to wither and develop pronounced bat wings, and I am pretty much the same size as always, if by "always" I mean since we came home from Ethiopia. It feels good to be moving in a way that is purposeful as opposed to moving for the sake of formal exercise, using time I could spend in ways that are more enjoyable to me and ultimately more productive.

That I will return to some sort of formal exercise regimen is probable. If we are still in Kansas City next winter, I will be hard pressed to figure out ways to expend energy that don't leave both Zinashi and me shivering. And I do love to run. If someday we live in a space that allows me to feel like I can just slip out the door and let my feet go, then I will surely return to it.

For now, I am enjoying the way things are. I get a lot done around the house, and am catching up on things I'd long put off. I'm a lot kinder to myself in regards to how I feel about my figure, too, and that has been the greatest benefit to come out of this. I don't know if it's a Lenten miracle or what, but suddenly I see my body for what it is: a gift. It is healthy, it is strong, it is good. I've got cellulite. I've got a smooshy bit at the base of my belly. And I'm okay with that. Maybe there will be other days of my life when it will matter, but right now, it just doesn't. I am healthy, and I am happy, and that is absolutely enough. I'm pretty sure it was enough for Laura Ingalls, too, if she thought about such things at all.

(She probably didn't.)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Great Caketastrophe of 2011

So we had a little birthday party for Zinashi. Her assigned birthday is Wednesday, and we wanted to do a fun little something with family and the kids she knows well (three total). Even with limiting the number and having a few people unable to attend, there were still twenty people in our house. Which was just fine. I don't think anyone ended up in the emergency room due to a claustrophobic incident, and Zinashi didn't seem too bothered by so many people at once, though it did wear her out. It wore me out. Or the preparations did, at least. It would help if I hadn't had to make two cakes, one of which will primarily be eaten by coworkers of my husband when I force him to take it with him to work tomorrow. (Given the option, I would eat cake and only cake all day, so I am removing the cake option.)

I set out to make a rabbit cake like I'd made before, but using my delicious chocolate cake recipe which everyone loves. Such a cake would look like this:

Hoppy Easter!

But it turns out that even if you modify your delicious chocolate cake recipe to be similar in egg and flour content to the recipe that came with the rabbit cake pan, your rabbit may end up decapitated. Like this:

it was getting so cute until the head fell off

Which ultimately isn't good for photos and/or video of your small child blowing out her birthday candles. So you'll dash into Target and buy an alternate rabbit pan, then stay up past midnight making an inferior cake that looks like this:

the boring replacement cake

The day after the party, you'll be so tired that you will see small bits of chocolate cake ground into your dining room floor and go, "Oh. Huh." And you won't bother to clean it up at all.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sneak Peek

Two days ago, FedEx delivered a box to our door that was clearly marked with the Petunia Pickle Bottom logo. I held off for two whole days before asking Jarod if I could just open it up and make sure they sent the right one. After all, the bag I wanted sold out rather quickly. Do you wonder why? It's just so cute! Of course it sold out in short order.

Luckily, that beautiful bag is what was in the box. Now I just have to wait a month to use it.

Would it be weird if I admitted that I caress the box a little every time I walk by it in the basement? Because I don't. I mean, not really. It's more like a kindly little tap. Because what if my bag is lonely and needs to know that I'm thinking of it?

I am far too excited about having a really nice bag of my very own.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Recipes and Craziness

First up, two recipes that are rocking my sort-of vegan world.

1. Magic Sauce. I'm dying to put it on salad, but so far have been using it on pasta. I saute some mediterranean vegetables (yes, the frozen bag from Whole Foods--it's my current favorite shortcut since nothing is really in season right now) and spinach (also frozen) with salt, pepper, a bit of Melissa's Chile Seasoning, and some ginger, toss some linguine with toasted sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, combine veg and pasta with Magic Sauce and voila! A dinner we all enjoy. Zinashi keeps insisting on picking out all the bits of squash and green beans, but when some of it passes her lips without being seen, she doesn't notice. I keep putting it in her bowl, trusting that someday she'll accept all the vegetable deliciousness.

2. Homemade Nutella. We eat it on our toast every morning. I'm sorry if you find this alarming, but I miss butter, and I really cannot eat toast with just jam. Our vegan breakfast compromise was to keep eating eggs or oats cooked with milk, but everything else would be vegan. And homemade nutella is vegan. Brilliant. I've made vegan muffins, but this is just so much more satisfying.

It should also be noted, as part of sort-of-vegan news, that I have fallen off the one-coffee-per-week wagon. I...could do better. That's really all there is to say about that.


We had our six month post placement visit with our social worker on Monday, and I've not yet managed to blog it on our adoption blog because we've had other things to say. But I will. What I want to say about it here is that the six month mark is when you can start paperwork for your next adoption, and while in the past I couldn't imagine wanting to do that, now I suddenly understand the people that do. Because if we felt that Zinashi were ready for a sibling, and if we had enough funds, I would probably want to start again now. Which is downright ridiculous, honestly, since I still don't have Zinashi's US birth certificate (thank you, State of Missouri, for not understanding the international adoption process and requiring paperwork that is redundant), which I need to get her new Certificate of Citizenship in her new name and then to get her new Social Security card in her new name, and then to get her passport in her new name. But I don't know...Zinashi does want to have a sister; we've talked about it. And I do see changes in our future that would make it harder to get some of the paperwork done (moving, eventually). So this is just my wish thrown out there. I'd like to start again, possibly sooner rather than later. If you want to buy me a lottery ticket or enter the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes on behalf of our second child, please go right ahead. Also if you'd like to talk my husband into it, that would be great, too.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Post Proving That I'm Becoming a Boring Old Lady

I may be having a little too much fun getting rid of all our stuff. Or is that even possible, to have too much fun cleaning out and organizing? Every time I take another load to Goodwill or put things in the garage for an upcoming garage sale, I feel lighter. Yesterday we skipped church for a little photo shoot (mostly Zinashi, with some family shots), and when we got home, Jarod took charge of most Zinashi-related stuff so I could go to the grocery and work on things at home. It is slightly embarrassing how much joy I got out of emptying all the old herbs and spices out of the spice rack in preparation for selling it. Maybe you use all the spices in your spice rack, but I do not, and there are not jars for some of the things that I do use regularly (cardamom, for instance, and ginger).

I'm also very nearly done (finally!) with figuring out where to put all the stuff that fit on this desk system when we traded it out for a smaller desk. We've gotten rid of a lot of stuff. There's still some filing to be done, and a few items that got lost in the post-Ethiopia shuffle to attend to, but I am mostly done. And that feels really fantastic. Up next? The basement. The goal is to only have down there what could be stored in a small apartment storage locker, as that is likely to be our reality when we make a move. Ideally, I'd love for everything to fit on our main floor, but I figure that as long as we have the basement to use, we don't need to be doing closet Tetris every time we want to do a craft project or locate holiday decorations.

Getting our house ready for sale is going more slowly than I'd hoped, but I just keep reminding myself that everything will get done in the time it was meant to be done, so long as we keep plugging away at it. When I really don't feel like filing, or the basement seems too cold to bother with, I keep this in mind. Things will work out, but I still have to work at it. Or they won't. I hope that makes sense to someone other than me, or else I'm just blathering on here like an idiot.

Oh, wait.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Still a Cat Lady

Everyone told me that when I had kids, I'd stop caring so much about my cats. Um. Well. They certainly get less attention from me personally than they used to, but I won't say that my level of caring about them has diminished. And one of the greatest stress relievers I know of is still giving this cat a good stretch.

prefers birds as snacks

She'll stretch her front paws all the way up in the air, and stretch her back ones as far as they will reach, stretching her toes apart at the end. Then she will hang like a limp noodle and let me do as I wish, which usually means that I put her through a series of contortions that I've named things like "Dancing on the Ceiling" and "Ice Capades" and "Scarf!" She's kind of a pain in the rear sometimes, but I forgive her because she's just so great otherwise.

One of the most annoying things she does is to meow at Zinashi's door when I'm trying to get Zinashi to sleep; usually I will get her and lock her in the bathroom when she does this, but today I decided not to bother since I was at an interesting place in my book. She meowed for a bit, then it was quiet. When I finally exited Zinashi's room, I found she'd put herself in the bathroom and curled up to sleep. Equal parts annoying (the meowing at the door part) and endearing. This is what I try to remember when something I like gets broken by her wild, random exertions.

On Sunday, Zinashi and I arrived home after being gone all day, and the first thing I noticed was a broken tchotchke. And then another. And then another. There were broken bits of nostalgia all over the house, and I was more than a little peeved. I wandered about, picking up bits of things and trying to decide if I could salvage them with superglue, cursing Lucy's nature all the while, until I noticed the bird droppings. Every place there were broken things, there were also bird droppings.

How a bird got into our house I've no idea, but as far as I know, it never exited. We found one tiny feather, and that was all. I guess Lucy had a snack...a snack she had to chase all over the house. I'd call her a little stinker, but how can I blame her? It's probably the most thrilling thing that's ever happened to her in her whole life.

lucy wants a belly rub

I guess I'll forgive her and move on, just hoping I don't find anymore bird poop in my house.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Randomness, Just Like Always

Zinashi and I are having a lazy day. I've pulled a chair for her up to the desk, and she is coloring with pens (big stuff, since I usually have her use crayons or washable markers) while I dink around on the internet. I've swapped out jeans for pajama pants. I am pretending all those dirty dishes in the kitchen just don't exist. It's been a really nice morning.


My favorite handbag, the only one that was really working as a carrier of all of our stuff, has finally bitten the dust. I'm sure that someone handy will be able to fix what needs fixing and give it the necessary cleaning attention, but I can't seem to take all the trash out of our car, let alone vacuum out a handbag that also needs leather bits stitched back together. I've carried that bag since 2006; I don't think that's too short a time to warrant a decent replacement. A really decent replacement. I've never had a nice purse. Mine always come from Target or some discount shoe store or Old Navy clearance. So I've asked for this. I know that technically it's a diaper bag, and we are not using diapers, but it's just my style, and has the added benefit of turning into a backpack when we need it to (I'm thinking of the CT/NYC trip we're planning this summer). I would love to be the girl who can just grab a clutch and leave the house, but I am terrible at remembering all the little things when I'm going a specific place, so I really prefer to just always have Zinashi's kit and my reusable bags with me. It will be so nice to have a bag that is just what I want instead of something I found cheap that doesn't really work, that I eventually pass on to my mom. (Yes, this is what I do. If I'd just skipped purchasing all those handbags I eventually passed on to my mother, I would have more than enough to purchase this bag, without having to tweak the budget.) (But then my mom wouldn't have so many lovely bags, so...I guess someone still wins in this situation.)


Of all the years to go without purchasing new clothes, this may be the perfect pairing of both the best and the worst. On the one hand, our budget is a lot more limited than it used to be, so it's good not to be tempted by every pretty shirt that comes along. On the other hand, it appears that the five or so pounds that I've gained since Zinashi came home are going to be around for awhile, and there's nothing that will make a girl feel chubby like pants that don't fit quite right. I'm pretty sure I could come to terms with my current body size and shape, if only my tummy weren't threatening to muffin top right over the waist of some of my trousers the moment I sit down. I'm starting to wonder if Spanx count as clothes, and if not, should I just buy some? Or should I keep trying to exercise more, even though it's truly more trouble than it's worth to me at this point? I don't know the answers to those questions. I'd really like to keep to my resolution to not purchase new clothes or shoes, but I'd also like to be comfortable and attractive. Pajama pants do work well for that first part, but they're not that attractive, particularly since most of them were purchased, um...a long time ago. On post-holiday clearance (mostly Halloween--lots of owls and black cats over here). Oh, well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Three Things, Mostly Unrelated

1. Today I got a lot done. For the first laundry day since what seems like the beginning of time, I got all the laundry done and folded and put away. I got through a few extra little projects. Zinashi and I took a long walk. I showered. I don't remember what else. But I do know that I was in my pajamas until 2:15pm, and this seems to be a predictor of success. If I've had to get dressed and get out of the house, there's usually a crash late morning, a struggle to put lunch on the table, a nodding of my head as I attempt to stay awake while Zinashi is very successfully avoiding sleep at naptime. It's like I've used up all my steam before 11am. With the absence of coffee, it is often even harder to revive than usual. I hereby resolve to figure out how to stay in my pajamas more days of the week.

2. I cooked a good vegan thing tonight (another accomplishment!). Perhaps you'd like to hear about it? Because maybe you'd like to make it? The key ingredient is something I wouldn't usually buy, jarred madras sauce, which I had a coupon for (Whole Foods shoppers, take note), and I thought, "Eh, why not?" Turns out it's delicious. So, the recipe:

1 jar Seeds of Change Madras Simmer Sauce
1 can coconut milk
1 small can tomato paste
2.5 lbs. potatoes
1 medium onion
3/4 cup red lentils
minced garlic, however much you like--we like a lot

Chop onion and saute in a bit of oil (organic safflower is my current favorite) until onion is soft and starting to brown a bit. While onion is sauteing, peel and cut up your potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Before you're done with the potatoes, your onions will be all set and ready for the next step; in between your potato peeling and chopping, add lentils and enough water to cover. Allow to boil/simmer while you finish with the potatoes, adding a bit more water as necessary to keep the lentils/onions/garlic barely covered. Add potatoes to the pot, adding just enough water to cover them; if some corners of potato are sticking up, that's okay--you don't need a ton of water. Stir in the simmer sauce, coconut milk, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a little more than a simmer (to medium-ish). Cook until potatoes and lentils are tender. Serve over brown rice. Easy and delish!

I have no idea what to call it, so make up your own name for it. This recipe makes enough to serve a large family, which means that for us, there's enough for Jarod to take to work the next day, some to save for leftover night, and a nice portion to freeze.

3. I think a lot about diet and exercise and the pressure to be thin. Admittedly, I also think a lot about how I'd like to be a touch thinner. Which is ridiculous but true. I think it's hard to a woman in America and not feel like the body is a thing to be shaped and formed into something better than it already is. I wish I could do better at making my peace with this; it may be something I never figure out. How can I, when our culture is so imbued with references to the perfect body and pushing harder and fighting against fat? While in the meantime, the majority of us are overweight or obese, and it's a health issue, not a perfect body issue. I find this to be endlessly frustrating--that we are hit with a barrage of beauty and body standards while at the same time being inundated with enticements to eat things that simply aren't meant to be eaten, or at least not eaten very much. Again, as a health issue, not a perfect body issue. Are we really so daft as to believe both that we must pursue six pack abs AND eat a sandwich made of fried meat, devoid of a bun? I don't know where I'm going with this. I guess I just want some levity. And that's one thing I'm hoping to get out of Lent. Maybe it's not very holy, but then again, maybe it is. I'd like to respect the body I've been given by treating it well, but not making it the whole focus of my life. I have a lot to say about this, it turns out. I guess I should make this a whole other post. But I'll save that for later. Because it's midnight, and I DO have to leave my house in the morning. (Drat.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Own Private Lenten Miracles

So it turns out that menu planning is my new best friend. My old method was to have a lot of our tried and true staples on hand, but with Lent it just doesn't work out. I don't have enough tried and true vegan dinners that I even know where to begin with keeping staples on hand for that. So every week I'm sitting down and writing out the weekly dinner menu, and the added benefit is that I save money every week at the store. I have a feeling this has less to do with making my list based on menu planning and more to do with not being able to eat my usual impulse purchases (most contain dairy and/or eggs, as they are generally baked goods or milk chocolate), but let's go with menu planning! It's a financial miracle!

I'm feeling more confident than I thought I would about Lenten dinner preparation. Vegan dinners are really not so hard, it turns out, if you're comfortable with a wide variety of international flavors and can find the time to chop a lot of vegetables. We eat out once a week, and I'm pretty sure it would be fine with all of us to grab some misir watt at Duo each week, though we'll likely branch out to Blue Koi a couple of times because: Ants on a Tree with tofu, yes PLEASE. (Locals who have been to Blue Koi are nodding, and the rest of you are confused. Sorry to the rest of you--both for confusing you and because you don't have Blue Koi.) So it's working. And I feel good. Even without coffee*. Another miracle!

The one thing that seems to be missing from the Lenten fast for me is a spiritual aspect, which is kind of the point. I don't feel like it's doing much other than teaching me to cook in a new way. But maybe that's part of the point? That I am stretched a bit by learning to feed my family in this way? I'm hoping that's enough. I'm guessing that it is.

*I do allow myself one coffee with dairy per week, at Starbucks on Saturdays when I take Zinashi and my young charge. I don't do non-organic soy for reasons both environmental and personal**, and I figure it's better just to order as usual and not make a big deal out of it. I had my one cup on Saturday, and it was nice. It would have been nicer if I could have sipped it while chatting with a friend instead of in the company of three-year-olds, but I'll take what I can get.

**If you've watched Food, Inc., you know this already, but Monsanto controls 90% of US soybean production. Monsanto has done horrible things to the environment, has manipulated governments to do their bidding, and has destroyed farmers who dared to come up against them. I come from a family of farmers; that's where it gets personal. I no longer consume domestic, non-organic soy products, including M&M's and most other candies. That's how strongly I feel about this issue.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Hear Me Roar

Yesterday was International Women's Day, but I was too busy being a woman to write about it. No, really. I started off early by taking Jack and Mary Liz for our monthly breakfast, then popped by the grocery store on the way home. From there it was just one thing after another, including our usual Old Lady Mary visit, and Jarod had to work a late-ish shift, so Zinashi was all mine until shortly after 9pm. By that time, I had a raging tension headache, so all was lost aside from zoning out to something on Netflix and self-medicating with chamomile tea. I did spend a lot of the day thinking about what it means to be a woman (no, really, corny but true), and how I continually feel like I am expected to do something other than make a home and be a mother, while at the same time feeling that there's little room for anything else at this moment. Frankly, I don't really mind not having some other career plan or some longing to do more than be good at what I'm doing right now. I feel like I should, but I don't. I have room for improvement as the mother and housewife, so it's not like my life is without challenge. Today I organized the downstairs shelf we use as a pantry, and it made me feel accomplished. What else do I need in life? I do love this piece, as it expresses so much of what I feel and why I make the choices I do in regards to what we buy, eat, and otherwise consume as a family. It's not just about us and about our little family, and I hope to raise our daughter to be the kind of woman that will take what we've done one step, or a thousand steps, farther.

If I were clever, I would insert a video of Zinashi roaring here, but she is sleeping, and I'd prefer to hit publish on this before it's two days late. I'm dangerously close to that line now. See? Always room for improvement in my current situation. Maybe next year, my International Women's Day post will be on time.

Monday, March 07, 2011

In the Beginning

I pretty much had my own private Mardi Gras last night; it consisted of two cookies and two Lindt chocolates, for which I was not at all hungry. I felt kind of sick afterwards. For those of you not in the know, Jarod and I have been attending an Orthodox Christian church for a year now, and with that has come some new traditions (actually old traditions, but new to us). Orthodox fasts occur several times during the year, but we have yet to fully participate. The Lenten fast, which began today, is THE big fast for Orthodox Christians, and this year we wanted to be a little more intentional about our participation. For the most part, an Orthodox fast is vegan eating, and consumption of wine and oil are also restricted. It's a time to simplify, and I am glad to do it. It's a bit of a juggling act with Zinashi's nutritional needs, so what we've decided to do as a family is to eat our usual breakfast, which includes either eggs or milk every day, and alter the rest. It's fairly easy to slip extra protein onto Zinashi's plate at lunch and to make her snacks more substantial so that our vegan dinner won't be a big deal when it comes to her nutritional needs. I know that there are a lot of families who eat a vegan diet all together, but I'm not comfortable doing that with Zinashi when she was so recently malnourished. And so. Breakfast is for cheaters.

Except for the part where I normally get to have coffee.


My friend Nicole pointed out that I could still have coffee, but the problem is that I really don't like coffee plain. I like it with half & half and something sweet (lately, chocolate syrup is my favorite) (stop looking at me like that). But half & half isn't part of the Zinashi Sponsored Breakfast Plan, and so. No coffee*. Today I had some jasmine green tea, and I didn't suffer as much as I feared I might. Until later, when I got a headache.

Still, I think the fast is going to be good for us. It was long past time to break some habits and put them back where they belong, in the realm of treats for sometimes but not all of the time. Or ingredients to rely on less (ahem*CHEESE*ahem). I am no ascetic, and I do think that food was meant to be enjoyed, but having whatever you like whenever you'd like to have it takes a lot of joy out of food. It makes the things that really are special seem less so. The weeks ahead may grow tedious, but it's all for the best.

At least, that's what I'm saying on Day One.

*I have tried all sorts of non-dairy alternatives to half & half, and frankly, none of them work for me. It's either a flavor issue or a consistency issue or a film-on-my-teeth issue or some combination of the above. So thank you but no thank you for your suggestions for half & half substitutes. I'd rather just skip the coffee.

Friday, March 04, 2011

I Have No Brain, and Therefore No Title for This Post

Apparently, after a week of vacation, I need a week of vacation to recover. Not that I would exactly call our trip a vacation--it was more geared towards spending time with people and soaking up some warmer weather--but re-entry into life has been a little bumpy. I guess I didn't realize how tired taking Zinashi into multiple public restrooms every day for a week would make me. Downside to having a daughter as opposed to a son: I'm on bathroom duty when we're out, and if we're "out" for a week, then I'm on bathroom duty for a week. Including when we are following someone else to another destination and stop too late for Zinashi to make it to a toilet. Yes, that happened, and no, it wasn't just pee. Sorry, Starbucks in I'm-not-sure-where, Texas, for the underwear and wipes that caused a bit of an unpleasant aroma in your bathroom. I tried to minimize it, I swear!

(Parenthood is just as glamorous as you imagine it is--get yourself a kid today!)

There's also the issue of trying to get our house in good shape to contend with, and I'll confess right now that I seem capable of doing only one extra thing per day without feeling like I need a nap. Today I put together our new desk and rearranged the art on our walls; I should probably either take two naps or have a third coffee. Or get take-out for dinner.

I do get a certain amount of satisfaction from getting this place ship-shape. It's becoming the house I always dreamt it could be, and it's a shame that we're only getting around to doing this because we'd like to sell it. I guess that's how these things go, and the good news is that we'll be taking far less stuff to our next place, which will hopefully lead to that place becoming the house (or apartment) I always dreamt of.

For now, though, let's just enjoy this photo of the daughter I always dreamt of.

our happy girl

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kansas City to Houston to Austin to Houston to...Sleep, I Hope

We've driven to Texas to spend the week visiting friends and family, and so far it's going great except for the part where Zinashi and I both miss sleeping in our own house. Also I miss cooking our meals. But it's been good to get away from the horrible winter weather Kansas City is experiencing right now, and I have struggled to keep from bragging about wearing sleeveless shirts.

We've not done anything super exciting, but we've had some really great time to just hang out with friends, and we've taken two trips to IKEA, and Zinashi got to live the dream of pretending to drive a car while sitting in the driver's seat of actual cars, so I think we can consider this trip a success.

We drive back on Monday. I'll likely have more to say after that. Enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Help This Film Along, I Beg of You

I'm about to donate to the completion of this film, and I hope you will, too. This is obviously an issue that is close to my heart; though the nationality of the girls is different from my own girl, many of the issues they deal with will be the same ones with which Zinashi will grapple as she grows up.

Here's the trailer for Somewhere Between.

TRAILER: Somewhere Between - A Feature Documentary from Linda Knowlton on Vimeo.

Donate here.

Thanks to Rebecca for the info and all the links.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Moving on Up...or...Somewhere

I'm starting to feel a little manic about our house. We had a realtor come by today to tell us what we need to do to get it ready to sell, and then he recommended putting it on the market in April and ACK! THE BASEMENT! IS FULL OF CRAP! I have never been so ready to let go of things I was unsure about parting with. Here, take this! And this! And this other thing! If you come over, I might shove something at you and make you take it home. Would you like this nice serving piece that is shaped like fall leaves and comes with a lazy susan? Say yes!

As much as I have complained about it over the years, I will miss this house, and I think that particularly once we have everything all fixed up properly, it will be really hard to let go. That and the fact that we brought our daughter home to this house, and it is where we built our first bit of family life in the US. I've also poured a lot of time and thought and energy into making this house what it is, and it is very much my house now. (As opposed to being a messy bachelor pad that I endured in the beginning--Jarod has pretty much let me It's hard not to mourn something that I've worked so hard on.

The part of all this that I'm not mentioning is why we are selling, which is that we're hoping for a new job for Jarod in another city. He doesn't have one yet, but we would rather know the house is sold and have to figure out what to do in the meantime than to suddenly have a job on the coast and be stuck with a mortgage for a house we don't live in. It's smarter this way, even if it might be trickier. I do hate to uproot Zinashi more times than is necessary, but looking at the bigger picture, in which we are making a better life for her (and creating more room for completing our family), we know this is a good thing to do. We're just going to trust that it will work out as it's meant to, and in the meantime, work our tails off for the entire month of March. I'm pretty sure Jarod is terribly excited about that.

I, personally, am excited about making enough money selling our crap to afford one chair.

I'm sure I can make enough more to pay for the second one, which is already sitting in our garage.

(Yes, I did buy both. What? There were only two left that were in decent shape.)

(And also we got a new desk.)


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


When Jarod and I got married, we weren't exactly straight out of college with little to our names. He already owned the house we live in, and even had a full basement to prove it. (This is how you know you own the home: the basement fills up with a LOT of crap because no one is going to come and suggest you might not get your security deposit back if a family of rabid squirrels move in and you don't figure it out because your basement is too full.) I had a full apartment and a basement storage locker with enough stuff to fill half of Jarod's garage. Combining our accumulated junk was no easy task, and if you couple it with my urge to purchase other people's old junk because it's cute, well...it's been an ongoing battle to keep the house from becoming something worthy of being on Hoarders. Throw in turning our second bedroom from an office into our daughter's room, then add in all the gifts she's been given, and it's even more of a challenge. A steady stream of stuff has been leaving our house since the day I moved in, but we still keep having to work out the particulars of what gets kept versus what gets donated versus what gets sold.

I always thought that if I just got rid of things that we didn't use or need, then we would magically have a clean and organized house. It turns out that not only is it hard to recognize all the things we truly don't need (though I am getting better at it), it's also hard to see the forest for the trees if you've got a lot of big furniture stuffed into a small space. The thing that originally tipped me off to this was our purchase of a new couch last year. Just getting something a touch sleeker made our living room look so much bigger. What would happen, I wondered, if I were to remove all the huge pieces of furniture (some of which we use primarily to catch junk mail and Zinashi's random stuff) and replace them with something smaller, sleeker, better? I don't know the answer to that question, or at least the final answer, but I do know that right now it looks like four big bags of books to be sold at Half Price Books and several pieces of furniture to be Craigslisted as soon as I can take the photos. I will sell more to get less, materially speaking, but I will also sell it to get more.

More space.

More organization.

More letting go of the things that we really don't need.

More of what we truly like as opposed to what we were making work due to lack of other ideas.

And, frankly, more cute. (I'm hoping to sell enough on Craigslist to acquire a matching pair.)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A Few Random Things

First up: no buying new clothes or shoes for 2011. Are you wondering if I made it through even the first month? Um, kind of. I'm going to have to make some exceptions along the way, I think. I am determined that none be fashion-related, but have accepted that there will be some necessities I simply need to purchase. As you may know, we've had a very snowy winter, and our driveway is very steep. Shoveling it wouldn't really help, so we just put on snow boots to go up and down the drive. This would be just fine if the lining of one of my snow boots hadn't disintegrated and collapsed down into the boot, making them neither warm nor waterproof, and uncomfortable to boot. (To boot! See what I did there? With the boots and the "to boot"?) So in the interest of getting myself and a small person up and down the drive safely and without exhausting my supply of knee socks by getting one sock wet every time I went up or down the drive, I went to Target and got some new snow boots on clearance for $9.98. They're ugly, but they work. So there's that. Also, I think I will have to buy another sports bra. Just what you want to hear about, right? I could do an extra load of laundry each week, but sorting out workout clothes from all the rest would take a lot of time and effort that is much better spent in other ways. So to Target I will go to get the cheapest sports bra available.

Which leads me to my next point, which is about my workout. And how much I like it. Well, not like it necessarily--I mean, there are still days I'd much rather take a nap or fritter away my time on a hobby--but it's really doable. I can do it six days a week without feeling completely overwhelmed or exhausted, and thus there is a need for one more sports bra since I only own five. I just...do it. I put on the workout clothes and start the DVD, and finish the DVD, and that's that. Well, except that three days a week I do both DVDs, like a crazy person. I find I can get completely through one DVD and partway through the second one during Zinashi's nap, leaving a bit to finish up while she is awake, but not so much that she gets antsy and angsty because my focus is clearly elsewhere. I usually do the dance one second, as she thinks that is funniest, and also because she doesn't try to lie down on me during the abs section or get upset because I am using the whole mat, and she obviously also needs to use the mat! She is working out! Move over!

And now, finally, the thing I mull over every single day, which is the question of why I am intent on working out so many days a week. The answer is that I am brainwashed by my culture. No, really. I was looking at some old photos I took in Photo Booth, and I found some that I had taken to see how an outfit looked in a photo as opposed to in a mirror (please tell me that someone else does this, too), and I noticed how slim I looked. I remember clearly being dissatisfied with my shape at that time, and really? What? I looked awesome. Dear self of two years ago, you need to cool it with the negative self image. You look fabulous. Love, the you of now who is a bit fluffier.

But it's no wonder that I thought I didn't look good, or good enough, or wasn't perfect enough. Everywhere there are messages telling us that we should want to be thinner and more "fit" and that we should want to trick nature and be the same (thin) size all year round and...UGH. The other day I ran across and article that was talking about how, biologically speaking, our bodies are designed to gain more weight in the colder months. The article went on to espouse how we could circumvent our bodies' natural inclinations in order to remain svelte all year long. That struck me as completely ridiculous. If my body is inclined to have a bit more insulation in the winter, why shouldn't I let it? The only answer to that is so that I can have a body that looks a certain way year round. Not a body that functions well and is healthy, but a body that has a certain appearance. I just can't buy into that. I can buy into eating well so that our bodies are healthy and strong, and I can buy into working out to balance out an unnaturally sedentary lifestyle, but I can't get behind a philosophy that says we must do these things in order to look a certain way. And what I am hoping is that I can somehow break myself of the habit of looking at my body as something of an ornament as opposed to the beautiful, functional thing that it is.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I'm a Little Bit Slow

For a few weeks now I've been laying out a week's worth of outfits for Zinashi, tucked neatly in her bottom drawer, and if I remember, I pull out the next day's outfit at bedtime. (If not, I stumble in bleary-eyed in the morning after Zinashi comes repeatedly to the bedside yelling, "Clothes! CLOTHES!") And for the most part, she looks fabulous every single day. Because I laid everything out ahead of time, when I had time, when I wasn't rushed or stressed out.

It took me until today to figure out that I could do the same for myself.

But now! Outfits are hung neatly in the closet--not quite a week's worth, since the weather forecast isn't reliable for that long, but enough to get me through to another day when I can lay more out, unhurried and unstressed. I intend to look somewhat fabulous every single day. Starting tomorrow. Because today? Right now? I am still wearing my pajamas.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Win!

You guys! I got nominated for two awards! And I think I won them! But I don't really know how this all works because these are the kinds of awards for which they make you answer questions about yourself, and also, they were given to me by the same person so I don't know if I'm just awesome in the desert or also in my real life, here at home, in the not-desert, where my driveway is covered in snow. Still. After two warmish days. But whatever, it doesn't really matter. I like the kind of thing where there are questions to be answered, as it keeps me from having to come up with my own topic. I would probably just write about my workout again. (I totally would, actually, and don't you want me to shut up about that already? Go ask Gwyneth about my workout; she's already experienced results.) So without further ado, the awards and their accompanying questions.

The first award:

For this one I'm supposed to answer ten questions and then give the award to seven other bloggers. I will answer the ten questions and get back to you on the other part. I guess I'm just not versatile enough to get it all done at once. Perhaps whitegirl should take back the award. I'd better answer the questions before she tries.

1. Why did you create this blog?
Because I felt like it. Really. That's it. I had another blog that was on a smaller site with fewer features, and I started that because I like to write and it seemed like a fun an interesting thing to do. That was in 2002. Clearly, I still like doing it, because now I've got this blog and the adoption/family blog.

2. What kind of blogs do you follow?
Usually ones having to do with family or home or travel or decorating or fashion or kids or pets or something else I find interesting. Mostly I follow those who have a voice I either admire or feel I can relate to (or both, usually both).

3. Favorite makeup brand?
It varies. For color, I like Benefit a whole lot; I got started with their cheek stain and then pretty soon it was eye shadow and lipstick and mascara. For foundation, which I don't bother to wear much of the time due to time constraints (it's just quicker to do cheek stain and powder and a bit of mascara), I love the Stila all-in-one formula. I used to use a separate primer and foundation by Smashbox, and would do so again if I were gifted with an extra thirty minutes each day. (Okay, that's actually a lie; I would take a nap with those extra thirty minutes.) I used to use a powder that I L-O-V-E-D from Origins, but I can't afford it anymore, so now I use a Sonia Kashuk powder from Target, and it works just fine to mop up the oil field on my face.

4. Favorite clothing brand?
Um, that I can afford or that I like? There's a dress brand called Floreat at Anthropologie, and I pretty much love every single dress they make.

5. Indispensable makeup item?
Powder. I'm very oily.

6. Favorite color?

7. Favorite perfume?
Lollia Wish. I don't own any, but hope to soon. Like on Valentine's Day. (*hint*hint*JAROD*hint*) I also really like Burberry Brit, but generally I think of that as a winter scent and not great for summer.

8. Favorite film?
This is always such a hard question, but I always answer the same: Wings of the Dove. I love the story and the setting and the cinematography. But really, any costume drama is tops with me. I recently was found watching and re-watching Young Victoria, and before that it was Bright Star. So romantic costume dramas, actually.

9. What country would you like to visit and why?
I cannot make this choice. We are planning our usual trip to London and Nice next fall because at this point in time we like our vacations to be comfortable and familiar, with a few new things thrown in (easy to do from both locations), but I'd also like to see more of the world. I've long wanted to visit Myanmar, and I've never been anywhere in South America, so that's where I'd start making the list. Or maybe I'll just visit the bestower of these awards in her undisclosed desert location.

10. Would you rather forget to put on mascara on one eye or blush on one side of your face?
Either one would be fine, actually, if it's just daytime makeup. I use a light hand with both, so I don't think it would be too noticeable.

Whew. That just took me...far too long. Let's just move on to the second award.

The second award is:

For this one I'm supposed to tell seven things about myself. There's also that pesky thing about choosing other bloggers to give the award to. I will have to beg off on that part for this bit as well since it's late and I haven't showered and all sorts of other excuses. But the seven things I can give you, and since this is a stylish blogger award, I'll just tell you seven style-related things. He we go:

1. I love striped shirts. I currently own nine, and once I am through with my year of buying no new clothing, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll buy another just as soon as I can get to TJMaxx.

2. I shop mostly at two stores: Target and TJMaxx. This is because they are near my house and cheap.

3. I also love (love love love love love) Anthropologie. Is there a girl who doesn't? If there is something special there that I love, I wait for it to go on clearance and pounce. One time, I bought a dress that was not on clearance, and it was a life-changing experience.

4. Okay, also I love (love love love love love) Boden. Some of the best bits of my wardrobe have come from them, and though they tend to be a bit pricey, all my items have been at least somewhat discounted and totally worth the cost. One of the best things about Boden is that they give garment measurements as well as the usual size chart, so you can tell what size of a particular garment will fit your particular body shape. I wear two different sizes in trousers depending on the cut, so this is essential information for me.

5. I like to have a new pair of shoes to wear on vacation. In anticipation of 2011's lack of shoe shopping, I picked up a pair of black sequined flats, and they are boxed and stowed away for such a time as I am about to board a plane for France.

6. My favorite outfits involve jackets and cardigans. I like to layer.

7. I'm not always so great at choosing accessories for an outfit, and if I am running late, sometimes I'll skip them altogether. I have to have time to figure out what looks right, and I'd rather go without than put on something that looks awkward with my outfit.

Thanks to whitegirl for nominating me for these two awards. This has been fun and flattering.