Monday, June 25, 2012

on work

I am easing my way back into writing. Yesterday I opened a Word document on my computer. It sat there while D and I watched Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. It sat there while I perused pinterest and facebook and thought about making banana oatmeal muffins (didn't have enough oatmeal).
"What should I write about?" I asked.
"Sloths." He said.

Terribly, the majority of my conversation these days revolves around my employment and my lack of contentment there. It is never safe to talk about these things on the internet. I am trying to force myself into contentment no matter what the circumstances. Be. Content. Because the truth is that my life is very good, in total. I just wish "work" weren't a forty hour a week endeavor. I wish I didn't spend more time with my coworkers than with my spouse.

There seems to be something very wrong in a society that pushes us out of our homes and away from our chosen life mates in order to "make a living". Who would want to make a living that didn't include your husband and your home? A living away from family and hearth sounds terrible.

At least, I hate it.

I keep trying to think of something, a get-rich-quick skill, that I can suddenly turn into a business so that I can support my life of non-jobiness. Unfortunately, life is work, and any awesome, counter-cultural life of self sufficiency requires a great deal of knowledge and skill. I am starting at the very beginning.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

figs and honey

I have a friend whose pinterest makes me a little bit crazy with wanderlust. She has a wonderful eye for what is beautiful and a wonderful drive to accomplish beauty in her own life. She recently started posting things from this blog. Has anything ever made you want to go to Australia more? And I often want to go to Australia. A lot.

D and I had ambulatory childhoods. We moved a lot. As adults we've chosen Waco to be our home. He's lived here for 11 years, and I've come back here over and over, feeling safer and more at home in this crummy little city than anywhere else in the whole wide, wandering world. Which seems crazy. Texas can be beautiful. It can be broad and expansive and gloriously large. It has beautiful lakes and rivers and vast expanses of forest. It has apple orchards, and wheat fields, and farms. Waco has some of those things. But not many and not in the highest quality. You have to search for it to find it. You have to want it really bad.
I guess we will. I guess we do.

Today I made cheese and yogurt and salsa and scalloped potatoes. I went to our wonderful farmers market and bought figs (harvested by the above mentioned friend), and gluten-free rolls, and picked up our farm share (so many tomatoes!). I hung out with our adorable rabbit and tended to my paltry container garden, urging it to product (please produce!). 

Life is and can be beautiful, no matter where you live. We're justing keeping our eyes open.

Monday, April 02, 2012

I am finding blogging to be a completely impossible task these days. I want to blog. I have so many things to say! And yet. I think this is a cause and an effect all wrapped up into one. What do I write about first? How to I gracefully re-enter the land of online dishing? Do I talk about how awesome it is being married? (awesome). Do I write what will be a helpful and informative piece on how to get married and spend about $5,000 and still have guests? How about that piece that I want so badly to write about dealing with body image issues when you weigh more than you have ever weighed and are participating in the most public, photographed event of your life? Do I talk about my new thoughts regarding "radical domesticity" and my 2012 goals that have resulted? How about a post entirely dedicated to my awesome porch garden?

Probably, I will eventually do all of these things. However I feel like a wedding post is, of necessity, the first thing I must write, and that is going to take me a minute.

I can't give up blogging because it is a source of free attention and affirmation and that can never be a bad thing. I do so like being attended to and affirmed. But, not as much as I like wasting an entire Sunday watching season one of Gossip Girl.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Wedding update 2012


I realize that no posting is better than sporadic posting when it comes to blogs, but I can't bring myself to give it up just yet. I love my blog, even if I neglect it. I'm not quite ready to let it go.

Wedding planning update:
As D and I have schemed and thought and planned, we've discovered that we have a lot of trouble being serious or sentimental about anything. Weddings are (generally) serious and sentimental events. Trying to develop a ceremony that didn't make me want to roll my eyes and snicker has proved to be a challenge.

My dear Aunt Pauline is officiating. At some point me dad sent me a list of distant (distant) relatives to send wedding announcements to. The list was accompanied by thoughtful comments like, "My aunt Judy's second son", or "Don't worry, he won't come because he doesn't approve of women in ministry". At this point in the planning we were a bit overwhelmed by the number of people on our guest list (we got over it), and figured that this was a perfect way to knock down those numbers a bit. Commit offense. How could we offend the most number of people in one go? Black face, obviously, and D wearing a dress, probably. Instead of favors, tell everyone we made a donation to LAMBDA legal (we still probably will do this) in their names, OR give out condoms with "Ellie and Drew, Holy Matrimony, 3/10/12" on the wrappers. We came up with lots of ideas. We are very clever.

At another point in wedding planning we bought a wedding magazine featuring "real weddings. We noticed an interesting trend in modern "real weddings": there is the overwhelming leaning towards gathering up what the rest of the world would call trash (old suitcases, birdcages, vintage window frames, broken, rusted, or discolored anything) and calling it decor. There seems to be an obligation to decorate your guest book table with a big pile of trash. So, we went to a yard sale and collected the following, which will be proudly displayed on our guest book table: A foot-high, plastic batman bank, a framed illustration of a cow, a large, wooden number three, a ceramic rabbit salt shaker, and a plastic hippopotamus. If you see these things on a table, go leave us a note!

I also spent an embarrassing amount of time agonizing over what to have people throw at us as we leave the wedding. Herbs like lavender and fennel seem to be in and are eco-freindly, birdseed works, bubbles are nice, etc. etc. etc.

And then I thought of the number one thing I would like to see thrown at a wedding: googly eyes. In a perfect world, googly eyes would be biodegradable and, since we're getting married at night, would glow in the dark.

Instead, we are going with sparklers.

We moved over the Christmas holidays and so I am feeling a little behind on planning. I have a to-do list that is so long, but must wait until I actually unpack all those things that I need to do. Guh, wedding planning is not that fun, guys. It's just not.

I recently returned my ear holes to 00 gauge. I have a number of pretty (and fairly expensive) wooden earrings that I have bought over the years in 00 gauge, and I'd like to wear them. So, now that my ears are back where they should be, I have started the search for wedding earrings. I found this.
Firstly, she is adorable and I want to look like her. Secondly, she does custom work, which means I get one of a kind earrings for my wedding. Pretty sweet. You should go look at her page and buy her earrings. Because they are very fun.

My cousin got engaged recently. We're both on pinterest and she is using it to catalogue her wedding thoughts. It's fun to see someone else's wedding take shape and I have realized that we are very different people and that these two family weddings in one year are going to show off the full spectrum of what weddings can be. That's pretty cool, I think.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

bells on a hill

The more wedding planning we do, the less normal I feel.

We went to a bridal expo and came out feeling like the world of wedding planning is full of crazy people.

Or maybe I'm the crazy one.

But are potted plants crazier than cut flowers? And what's wrong with an ipod for music? And so what if I am planning on wearing a $10 skirt from the gap with a bodice I intend to make out of a sheet? The sheet is pretty and I already own it. This is my time, and I intend to take advantage of it by living my dream. Which looks something like this:
Also, how do we feel about fake eye lashes?

Friday, September 02, 2011

ain't it strange that I can dream?

So! My life has changed.

Firstly, I got a new job. It is at a whisky distillery where I work very hard putting whisky in bottles, then corks in bottles, then labels on bottles, then wax seals on bottles, then shrink wrap on bottles, then bottles in boxes. It may not sound fun, but it actually is. And we drink the whole time. As in drink whisky. And it is seriously hot in there and I come home smelling awful.

I am sure I will have numerous stories to tell about whisky in the future, as it is incredibly interesting and scientific and math, however, I have bigger things to talk about.

Secondly, I am getting married! That's right! Yay!

D proposed last Friday with a bougainvillea bush and the proposal from Pride and Prejudice (oh gracious, how cute is he?), and then we went to BJ's and got gluten free pizza, and gluten free pizookie (Pizza cookies! Gluten free pizza cookies!).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

how great is this life?

My life is super good right now. Or would be, if I hadn't woken up with some kind of burrowing rodent inside my skull. My head hurts. All I want right now is a reese's blizzard from DQ. Is that too much to ask?

I am and hour and a half and a half day away from being done with this job forever.

I also am newly employed at the coolest possible place. We taste the whiskey while we work, people. I start Monday.

Also, I have every reason to believe that I will have even more to celebrate by the end of this week.

I'll get back to you then, when my head stops hurting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Save money: make it yourself, the queso fresco edition

To continue the theme of "making stuff", I want to disabuse you of the notion that mozzarella is the easiest cheese to make at home. It is, in fact, not. Easiest cheese? Queso Fresco.

Do you know what I love about the internet? The fact that you can type something like, "how to make queso fresco" into your computer and it will return results. God, I love google.

Anyway, I am not going to pretend that I did anything other than simply type in "how to make queso fresco", and then followed the instructions, but I am going to share my experience following those instructions with you here.

As I said in a previous post, D and I are attempting to live off my SNAP benefits. One of the struggles with this is the fact that I love cheese. Like, love to eat cheese on top of everything, or love to eat just slices of cheese and pretend that that is a balanced meal. This becomes a problem when cheese costs upwards of $6 a pound, and you are out of SNAP benefits and you still have two weeks left in the month. I had found a lovely recipe on how to make saag paneer on the gluten free girls website (seriously, who doesn't love her?), and that was fairly easy (seriously). This put the notion into my head that making queso fresco to sprinkle on our tacos (which are our go-to, end-of-the-month meals) might be equally easy.

How easy, you ask? So easy.

Lets talk about making cheese for a second. Confession: I don't really get it. How in the hell are they taking milk and making glorious cheddary goodness? Couldn't tell you. Science, I assume. To make mozzarella, the "easiest of cheeses" (lies!), you have to purchase rennet off the internet. Who even knows what that is?!? I for sures do not.

So yes, paneer and queso fresco. Here is what you do. Ready? Because it's gonna be crazy.

Boil milk.
Add acid (for paneer it's lemon juice, for queso fresco, it's vinegar).
stir so you are gathering curds together.
pour through a cheese cloth.
let it drain.

You've got cheese.

Seriously. It's that easy. Queso fresco is supposed to be a salty cheese so I suggest you add a bunch of salt to the milk before you boil it. Also, I have used however much milk I had left in the gallon, or however much fit in the pot, with no regard to measurement and it's turned out perfectly every time. Just add your acid until you see curds forming. For 8 cups of milk, they suggest at least 1/4 cup of lemon juice or three tablespoons of vinegar. I added about 1 tablespoon of salt to the queso fresco, but would suggest using more if you try it.

And you should. TRY IT!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ode to the farm.

The worst part about the present is that it becomes the past and then you have these completely glorified memories upon completely glorified memories on top of memories of the totally shitty times that you're super glad are over.

For absolutely no reason, Hot tubbin' on the late night popped into my head today. My first reaction was, "Man! That shit's still funny!" even though I haven't actually watched it in over two years. So then, I'm thinking, is it still funny? But I don't want to watch it in case it isn't and it causes me to have to go back and re-write my memories of living in the lodge.

When I first started living at the lodge, I very nearly wept for joy almost every day. Jessica and I did most of the move in by ourselves because the guys were somewhere (where?), and we slept on her full size mattress on the floor in the dining room because we were painting our room and we didn't have electricity yet, and it was hot, and we only had like two candles.

Initially we named it the "Hiewismordinka House" in honor of us all having last names (we're clever like that), but TJ, being the recognized genius that he is, wrote a lovely song involving a Lodge and getting crunked up and for some reason this translated into the most obvious choice for our home.

We hung a clothes line. And TJ made our counters for us because there were none in that tiny house. And we got chickens, and named them, and then stopped naming them when they started becoming the victims of ruthless late-night raccoon and opossum attacks. And we made a garden in the front yard that I contributed to not at all but still got to mooch off of and eat out of.

And we spent time together. We went on trips to Austin (one in which we stumbled across a happenin' bar called "The Lodge"). We hung out at the farm. We went to church together. We started a church together. We had a dance party, and a ninja party, and an 80's Christmas party. We recorded music. We read books and poetry and wrote them too. We did our laundry at the laundromat together and hung it out to dry in the back yard under the pecan tree and I remember thinking, "Dear God, please let me live like this always."

Obviously, we don't live like that anymore. Jessica got married and moved to Pennsylvania to be a farmer. TJ moved to Boston to go to school and be a poet and be the Beloved of the Universe. Kris moved to New York to work and to live and to be far away from here. And I stayed here.

Things weren't perfect in the Lodge. We fought a lot towards the end, which is a thing I think roommates do, but if there is a time in my life that I want to remember to my children, it is this time. The farm and the lodge.

At the farm I found who I am, as an adult, as a worker, as a member of a community and a contributor. That was invaluable.
If you know me, you know that I have journeyed. I have stepped out and gone places and done things all by myself and I have been deeply unhappy and homesick. I think I had lost myself at some point in my childhood and meandered into adulthood feeling very insecure. You have to have some self to be sure of. I didn't. I embarked on my time at the farm feeling unsure of my ability to succeed at anything (you can read about it here, on this blog), but, for some reason, found in it an amazing contentment in all things.

What glory.

I am who I am today because of that place and that time. Whatever confidence life had leeched from me was presented to me every day to be grasped and drunk in. I was gifted companionship's more than friendships, connections more than conversations, laughter and love and epic, snapshot moments. We worked very hard and were often very tired, and very dirty, but we danced under the stars. We walked, as the sun rose, with mugs of coffee steaming in our gloved hands, towards frosty fields ripe with harvest. We sat and read under that grand old cotton wood, dappled by its leaves. We lived some life that our time has forgotten, and we lived it together, in love.

Wuh. This is making me all mushy inside.

Dear farm from 2008, I miss you. Thanks for loving me. Maybe someday I will write a book about you.

Save money: make it yourself

This year, while doing AmeriCorps, I have had the wonderful experience of qualifying for federal benefits in the form of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, or Food Stamps. Federal benefits, in general, are confusing. Qualifying for them is confusing and the paper work is confusing and the actual tangible benefits to the user are often so small as to make the whole thing not really seem worth it. Some little old ladies only get $28 a month after having to fax something like 30 pieces of paper, from bank statements, to rent bills, to medical expenses. It becomes rather daunting.

Now, I realize that some people have issues with federal benefits. I don't want to get into that at all on this blog. To see why SNAP is a good thing for a struggling economy, go read this article.

What I do want to talk about is how D and I have been striving to live off my food stamp allotment for the last couple of months. We cheat, in that we go out to eat, but for the most part we are trying to use up all the food we have in new and creative ways and to save ourselves as much money as possible.

I am awarded $200 every month, and it hits my account on the 13th. Which means, as of right now, the fridge is looking pretty empty. And yes, we did go to the store to buy a gallon of milk yesterday with money that didn't come off of the Lone Star Card, and yes, we did go out to lunch today, and yes, we are going to a friends house for dinner tonight, but mostly, I think we're doing pretty well.

One of my new pet projects has been making my own tortilla chips. Corn tortillas are hellacheap and can be bought 90 at a time and frozen. I know tortilla chips aren't that expensive, but I firmly believe that home made, fresh, baked instead of fried, tortilla chips are just an all around better idea than buying a bag at the store. And they have to be cheaper. They just have to be.

Here is how I make them:

I line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and preheat the oven to about 350. You might want to make this not as hot, since my chips always turn out a little browner than D likes. Maybe 300?

Then I put a little olive oil in a bowl with some salt. You can add other spices if you like. One gluten free cook book that I own suggested some lime juice and cumin. Those were pretty tasty too. Yesterday I just tossed some garlic salt in with the oil.

Then I tear up my tortillas. If you have kitchen scissors, I'm sure this will be super easy, but I don't and they tear so easily that I don't even worry about it.

Then, using a basting brush thingy, coat them in oil and cook for about 10 - 15 minutes. You might want to turn them half way through, you might not.

Obviously, my recipe is not exact. I think I actually suck at recipes, but I like to try stuff myself.