Leave a comment

Funk Busters — What to do When Nothing’s Right

Queen Anne's LaceI had planned to sit down and write any number of aiming-to-be-brilliant-and-engaging things, but today’s got me in a funk. I don’t feel like writing. I don’t feel like working. I don’t feel like anything. So here’s a list of things I have done or should do to snap out of it. They’re mostly the tried and true things I can rely on if I catch an existential crisis in the early stages.

  • Go for a run. I totally should have done this when I got home from work rather than slumping on the couch and eating a popsicle.
  • Read a book with a plot. I’ve been trucking through things like JavaScript & jQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development and The Creative Habit lately, but what really does it for me is well crafted fiction. I just busted through The Signature of All Things at the beginning of the month, and it was some kind of healing to be lost in fiction again. There’s just something about story and plot that self-help and nonfiction lack.
  • Roast and freeze a chicken. I’d be remiss as a Mennonite if I didn’t include some form of food preservation. Something about making the house smell all warm and delicious while knowing that you’re about to nourish yourself is really helpful. Pulling all the meat off the carcass and preparing to make stock with it requires you to work with your hands and be in your body. It’s meditative. You have time to think, but also something outside yourself to focus on. Same goes for washing dishes and any number of other housekeeping tasks I usually resent because of gender baggage.
  • Cuddle a cat. Or any animal really. If I had been near one, I would have hugged a cow this afternoon. They’re warm, and they look you in the eye without judgement.
  • Drink water. I tend to feel worse if I’m dehydrated. Sometimes the difference between feeling kind of schlumpy and feeling like the world is ending is just water and maybe a snack.
  • Write on paper with your hands. Write three pages without stopping. No editing, no self-judgement. Just write whatever stupid thing comes into your head.
  • Go to bed. Maybe things will feel better in the morning.

Lunchtime Reads 7.17

Lunchtime ReadsErin Loechner has been absolutely killing it lately with incredibly thoughtful posts that ask meaningful questions about style, design, and life. This is one of my recent favorites.

I’m learning a ton about myself and my needs and wants during this sabbatical. I’m also learning a ton about design and development, and taking every opportunity I can afford to learn more. This method of hacking your own grad school education definitely won’t work if you want to work in academia someday, but for the rest of us, it seems like a really great option.

This article makes me so glad I left my last job when I did. That, and it makes me appreciate the beautiful adjustable standing desk I just bought all the more. No job is worth your mental health. Ahem. I repeat, NO JOB IS WORTH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.

I really love this post from Roz Duffy on giving yourself permission. Just because my educational background is in the humanities doesn’t mean I can’t pursue a new technical career. I am allowed.

A Practical Wedding takes a critical look at feminism and domesticity. I love the idea of the family being a unit of production rather than a unit of consumption. Also, I love and identify with this quote: “I love my frilly aprons and KitchenAid stand mixer because they are reminders of the things my kick-ass feminist family members taught me to do for myself. They are not symbols of a secret desire to stay home and raise babies, but reminders of my mom’s and grandma’s lessons to stay strong and raise hell.”




Leave a comment

Simple supper

It’s no secret that I’m a fairly picky eater. If undeterred, I can subsist on the eating habits of a five year old (read: macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers). I don’t like vegetables. There are a few that I am willing to eat, and, to trick myself into eating them, will sneak into various other dishes.

Spinach is one thing that, for me, lies between “tolerate” and “enjoy.” Luckily, it’s super easy to unobtrusively work into other things I do really like, like eggs, or pasta and cheese.

Last night’s food was loosely based on this. Of course, I left out the things I’m not so sure of (artichokes) and improvised the rest (What is creamed spinach anyway? I bet it looks disgusting.).

So I cooked some whole wheat pasta, added a bit of olive oil, and dumped in some baby spinach that was about to go bad.
What is pasta without cheese? Not very exciting. So in went some mozzarella. I melted some into the pasta/spinach/olive oil pot, then dumped all of it in a baking dish. The top looked a little naked, so I dumped more cheese and some pepper on top, and put it under the broiler.
It contains my favorite elements of macaroni and cheese and a vegetable I don’t hate! And it works with the ridiculous heat this summer, because it doesn’t sit in your gut for hours like normal mac and cheese is wont to do.
We ate it with leftover hamloaf that I baked the day before. This is seriously the best hamloaf in the entire world. We get them from this place in Elizabethtown called Gene Wenger Meats. Since we moved to West Chester, Gene Wenger’s is conveniently located right off the highway on our drives back home.
Leave a comment

30 Days – Day 17

This may very well be my all-time DIY best. I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t a giant pain, but I love how it turned out.

It all started with this. I pinned one photo, in particular, with far-off, fictional really, visions of doing this myself someday.
But then, 30 Days of Creativity came along, and suddenly I had no excuse. It was on my list of things I wanted to make. This list is certainly not long, so neglecting this one item on my list would mean I’d have to come up with another idea to replace it.
So that is how I found myself at Lowe’s yesterday, looking at paint chips, and picking up a few washers for yesterday’s effort.
This is what I found.

Valspar Allen + Roth Jackson Square
And this is what it became. Times four.

I soon realized that I did not have enough drop cloths or a big enough apartment to let them all dry on the floor like this.
So I had to move them, wet paint and all, to a drying station.

I had to shut P. Honey Cat in the bathroom for the rest of the afternoon so she didn’t destroy all my pretty drying things.
And finally, after I had some helping putting up the curtain rods that have been hiding in a corner of our bedroom since we moved in six months ago, we hung and then trimmed them to an appropriate length.

Doesn’t Ting Ting, or Tiny the Toy Piano, look handsome against the yellow chevron? I think so.
I really could not be more pleased with how these turned out.
Leave a comment

30 Days – Day 13

I was in quite the funk all day. It felt a lot like last summer, right after I moved here, and I spent my days refreshing Craig’s List in search of ever-elusive employment.

Then I left for the ESL class that I teach and interacted with a bunch of wonderful people. After class, I came home and made this.
My very first frittata
I inherited three old cast iron pans from friends who are moving to California. This is the second time I’ve used one. The first interaction we had was a giant cookie. Also a success.

Olive oil
A bit of onion
A bunch of baby spinach
A bunch of eggs
Some feta
And suddenly, I felt ever so much more productive! All it took was some volunteer ESL time and a foolproof frittata. And, because it had a bunch of spinach, I’m going to have a giant root beer float with local homemade root beer later. It’s amazing what meaningful interaction and successful, delicious food endeavors have done for my psyche.