Sunday, November 22, 2015

Grumpy ruts

The holidays can be a hard time of year for me. This past week, I've really been feeling that "calm before the holiday storms" anxiety. But instead of appreciating the last few days of Christmas-free fall, part of me is just wanting it to hurry up and get here so we can get it over with. I mean the city of Hesston already took down their fall/thanksgiving themed banners and put of the ugly 1980s Christmas trees on the light posts. (I mean, they couldn't wait a week?)

I know. I know. I'm being a holiday hater.

But right now I am really struggling with having a good attitude about life in general. I've felt really frustrated and angry.  I really miss my family, especially my sister. I really miss my BFF Jilly who lives in Qatar. I really miss my co-worker/friend Diana who moved to PA. I am really feeling the lack of female kindred spirits in my life. (Mostly because they are all really far away from me). The holidays really heightens all of this for me. Kansas can often feel like a very far remote island (without any cool, tropical water) that is really far away from the East Coast and family members who go to bed early.

"Facebook syndrome" makes me angry. I follow a lot of photographers; so I am constantly seeing really great photos of people celebrating life events that I am not. I get jealous. (Also, I get creative envy). I should take a step back. I am trying.

I am angry by the sudden association of Syrian refugees to terrorists after the Paris attacks. I've been following the Syrian crisis ever since I started working at MCC and this not only breaks my heart but fills me with rage. I don't really know what to do about that.

Moreover, I've been discouraged a lot my the weird leg problems I've been having for weeks now. My leg muscles are so tight that I am so uncomfortable all the time. And at work this discomfort keeps me from getting very much accomplished. I also haven't been able to work out very much (besides yoga). For someone who is very OCD about my exercise routine, this has been really hard for me to let go and give myself time to recover. Thankfully, 1 message and 3 chiropractor appointments later, my legs are finally starting to loosen up. But it's still a very slow process and I am unbelievably impatient.

When I get into these grumpy ruts, it's really hard for me to get out of them. It doesn't help that this is a very expense time of year either.

But I know I should try and keep myself in check. In this week of Thanksgiving, I know I have a lot for which I should be grateful. And despite my bad attitude, this weekend has been good. Levent and I went to go see the last Hunger Games movie on Friday and yesterday, my work supervisor gave us his Wichita State Basketball tickets. We even got Starbucks afterwords :)
I never really know how to end blog posts like this. I guess I can say that I will keep on trying until I finally get out of this rut again. Here's to hoping it will happen sooner rather than later.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

All the try I have

I try to eat healthy. I really do. But here is the thing, I am not really good at it at all and ice cream is too delicious.

This morning, the internet made me very aware of my lack of healthy food habits in my life. (One of my fellow Bluffton grads is a vegetarian dietitian living Chicago and she has a very healthy food blog). Let me tell you, after looking at her beautiful blog, my eating choices feel really childish. Last night for supper, I had eggs, toast and popcorn. Not only that, I do not like eating large chunks of vegetables. Seriously. If you dice it up really small, I (sometimes) have no problem. Maybe it's a texture thing. But give me a massive broccoli stump to eat and I'm out. No thank you.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately (as I do from time to time. My healthy eating goals really roll in and out with the tide). I think my version of "try" is not really all the "try" I have in me. This also applies to working out. I have found that I can push myself a lot harder than I think I can. Prior to straining my IT band again, I had starting running sprints about once a week. And surprise! I could do it. In fact, pushing myself to run sprints actually does what the internet says it will; it made me a "faster" runner. (Faster is relative here. I am still not awesome at running. Probably because it sucks and I hate it). I also managed to get my resting heart rate down to the lowest it's ever been. I actually have my cardio classes to thank for this. Going to Cardio x twice a week and kickboxing once a week has really made me realize that I am capable of more than I thought. Now if I could only get that hip better.

But with eating healthy, it feels a little bit more tricky. Probably because I love food too much. I cannot wait to try new recipes, old seasonal favorites and the occasional throwback dish my mom used to make when I was a kid. As I've mentioned before in previous posts, my focus for healthy eating has mainly been to
1. increase my daily water intake
2. increase my daily veggie and fruit intake
3. Find ways to reduce my daily intake of sugar

Number 1 on that list has been easy for me, especially at work where I drink water all day at my desk through a blue straw. Slurp Slurp done.

Number 2 ebbs and flows. Really, it's a lot easier to do this in the summer time when fruit is fresh and often on sale. But now that fall is here and winter is creeping its way in too, this has been harder. I do not like eating hard plums, woody pears or mushy peaches. So I don't. Instead I just focus on apples, which, from Dillons, are fairly decent most of the time, oranges and the occasional grape cluster. That's it. My plate is never very colorful.

Vegetables are even harder for me. Typically, I make a main dish for supper and then serve it with one side. Fruit is a lot easier to do because it might just be a bunch of grapes or applesauce (if I have it  canned and right now, I do not). The amount of veggies one is suppose to eat would basically require me to eat it at every meal. And let me tell you, I have no idea or desire on how to eat vegetables for breakfast. That sounds awful. Even when I do try to up my veggie game, I still practically only eat carrots, spinach and green beans. (well, and potatoes, which hardly count). Again, the lack of color in my meal is alarming.

So the struggle continues. And now I have oreo thins in my house because Dillions gave them to me for free! Jerks.

All this to say, I know I should try harder and that my try is actually probably more than I currently think it is.  I just got to keep at it.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Appreciating October

November is right around the corner, and where have I been? Well, kind of here, there and (not really) everywhere, but it was enough to keep my sleepy level up too high on the weekends to even consider blogging. Maybe I am part bear. My need for hibernation feels very ingrained in my bones. It's possible that for the first time in my life, I feel jazzed about winter. I am dreaming about these slippers and these winter boots. (I am also ready for it to be too cold outside for my neighbor to go nuts with power tools on Sunday afternoons).

I'm getting ahead of myself. Yesterday, things here in Kansas have finally taken that fall turn. We got really lucky and had a couple of lovely weeks that were still warm, (not horribly hot). Now the leaves are finally changing at a more rapid rate and the weather is starting to take a dip at night and not climb too high during the day. It's wonderful and it makes me wonder, what other pumpkin themed dish can I make?

In my adult life, I have come to appreciate October more so than ever before. I had two friends in college who had birthdays this month and so were thus always swooning over October. I think I was always too deep into my studies at this point in the year to really notice. Now, as Anne Shirley has so lovely put it, "I am so glad I live in world where there are Octobers," is also true in my life.

Even though we are losing the light more and more each day, the "golden hour" right before sunset is stunning. I am even a little bias now too. Living in the prairie, we have more access to this golden light before the sun sinks behind the horizon, than people who live in the hills and the mountains. (Okay, yeah I know, fall is beautiful everywhere. Just let me have this one, okay?)
While I might be singing October's praises, I should mention that this month has not been easy. I had a super exhausting work trip to PA, my boyfriend's schedule and mine have not been matching up very well, and I had to say goodbye to a friend who is moving out of state. But just like that dazzling light that we are losing a little bit more each day, I would rather focus on the good of Octobers.

And since I love lists, here are my good moments from this month in list form:
1.  October means the beginning of fall in Kansas, which in turn means the beginning of fall scents. This candle I got from Etsy is magical, for obvious reasons.

2. The Hesston Public Library knows me so well that they know I am trying to read everything Agatha Christie has ever written. So when someone donated a ton of old Christie paperbacks, they called me up (actually the texted me) and let me come and take pretty much all of them. Now I have this happy stack of books that will definitely be the highlight of my winter hibernation

3. Because it's getting cooler outside, my cat is getting way more cuddly. It's great.
4. During my last work trip to PA, I had the chance to see my beautiful friend Connie and met her sweet baby.
5. I've been playing around with my new art supplies a lot lately. I recently got stamps and I am having the best time testing them out.  Suddenly I have so many ideas of what I want to do with them.
6. I officially ended my tomato season yesterday by ceremoniously pulling them up. Enough is enough. (Also there is a good chance it might freeze soon). Levent and I had tomato bisque for supper and I still have enough for a couple more meals yet. We'll see what these lovelies turn into. I am ready to be done for the year. (Although I do have some spinach and turnips growing in my backyard).

7. Speaking of cats, my co-worker/friend, Denise, got a cat on Friday for her son's birthday. But since she got the cat during our lunch break, little Jones spent the rest of the afternoon with us in the office. It was amazing

8.  I had to say goodbye to my co-worker/friend, Diana this week. Even though it's going to completely suck to not have her in Kansas, she is still working for MCC. This means that will still get to see her on a regular-ish basis. I'm really proud of the move she is making for her personal life and and even more happy that we can continue being friends even if we don't work down the hall from each other anymore.
Those are the things. Happy October everyone!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Annual creative slump

It feels hard coming back to this blog right now. I am sure I could come up with lots of excuses. Including, but not limited to the following:

  • It's suddenly fall outside. (I am even busted my space heater out today)
  • I had to travel for work last week. (I have another one coming up next week).
  • I attended an anti-racism training this past weekend and now fully aware that everything sucks. A lot. (And if I let that slip from my mind, I realize that I can do that because of my white privilege. So I am not exactly sure how to be right now). 
  • It's been an emotionally stressful past 6 weeks because of the accident and that stress manifests itself in my relationship with my boyfriend, for obvious reasons. 
  •  It's the end of the month/beginning of the month. So I am stressed about money. 
  • There's a lot of good things on Netflix and HuluPlus 

However, all of them boil down to me feeling zero percent creative. That plus fall traveling for work makes a zero blog post atmosphere in my life.

Ultimately, I keep this blog for me. So I should not care if I suddenly stop posting. Right?

The thing is that I want to be a writer. So why does it feel impossible to actually sit down and write, even something as rambling as a blog post. If I cannot even do this, than how will I ever have the energy or motivation to try and write for real?

I think in previous years, at this time of year, I have blamed the lack of creativity on the dying world outside. That might be true. (Or what little creative energy remains in me is all directly towards pumpkin baked goods. For example, I just pulled pumpkin cookies out of the oven. (I took the day off today)).

I know I am not the best at pushing myself and I know that I have never really been able to real multitask. I have never been the person who thrives or enjoys being involved in one major thing at a time. For example, even though I dabbled in clubs and extracurricular activities in college, by the time my senior year came around, I had eventually pulled out of everything because all I felt like I had energy for was my classes. I didn't want to be distracted. Now, that feels true when it comes to making space for creative writing and photography. With photography specifically, I feel as if I am at a point where I cannot justify investing in it unless I dive all in and try and make real money off of it. Since I currently have a full time job, that feels really impossible to me right now. (Only this time, I would be happy to be distracted from work, it's just I am really tired during my down time).

I don't know how to end this blog post about not writing blog posts. I guess just with the hope that since I have been anticipating fall for awhile, (I think it's finally time to rip up the tomatoes in the garden), the changing of the seasons will actually inspire me, not add to the deep summer hibernation I was already in last month.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tapas night

It finally happened.

I finally had a dinner party of my deck this weekend. The weather was cool and almost fall like. My twinkle lights finally worked when they needed to work. There was hummus veggies and grilled flatbread, bruschetta with pesto, tomatoes and a feta yogurt drizzle, bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers (brought by our friends), "Moroccan" meatballs, wine and gin and tonics. All of my vintage plates from MCC Thrift Shops were out in their full glory. We even busted out the corn hole game my dad made us.

Everything was lovely.

If only we could do this more often during the summer months.

My boyfriend makes incredible hummus 

Summer 2015 recap

This may happen every year. In the early part of the summer I create a summer bucket list of all the things I want to do. Then by August, I completely get derailed or just forget completely.

Since it is already the middle of September and since we can now go outside without immediately sweating through out clothes, I thought it might be a good time to do a little summer reminiscing

Here are the things on my list that I actually did.
1. Go swim laps with Diana (and Denise) at the Newton pool during our lunch break
2. Make popsicles and homemade ice cream.
3. Go out for brunch in Wichita with Levent
4. Make homemade vanilla extract
5. Have a dinner party on my new (to me) deck
6. Take Scout to the vet to get her rabies shot. (This sounds lame, but I have been putting it off and if she escapes one day (which she has before), I want her to be safe).
7. Read Harper Lee's new book.
8.  Figure out how to go to Raleigh (and thus the beach) with my sister
9. Go swimming just for fun
10. Hang out with my favorite travel friends, Jilly and Lucas, in Chicago
11. Be completely chill about my garden. (Hey, if I get to eat stuff out of it, that's a win. No need to be a nut job over it).

I feel pretty good about this. After all, it was way over half of the things I wanted to do. I found that I really love going lap swimming at the Newton community pool over my lunch break and was sad when it closed for the season. I did, in fact, make homemade vanilla extra. See.

But I actually have not needed to use it yet. So hopefully it is fine.

All the extra, fun swimming I did this summer was with my sister and nephew, including a semi-hectic trip to the beach. (My Raleigh trip was possible, in part by me realizing I had enough air miles for a one-way ticket with American Airlines. Amazing).

Overall, it was a pretty good summer. And I finally did manage to have a deck party, even though it was just last night.

Here are the things that I did not do...
1. Start making yogurt again
2. Learn how to make ricotta cheese
3. Go on a picnic with Levent to the Arb

I had every intention of making yogurt again this summer, especially when I realize my oven had a light. Shortly after this realization, it burned out. And so did my yogurt making dreams.

Levent and I did not go on a picnic, which is not surprising because it is miserable in Kansas in the summertime. Maybe now that fall will be here soon, we can make that happen.

And finally, here are the things that kind of happened..
1. Work harder on eating more vegetables at every meal

Okay. I did try hard at increasing my fruit and veggie intake for several weeks. And then I let it slide. Ah. why is it so hard?

2. Settle into my new house by decorating it and maybe creating some wall art myself

Thanks to my family, I did settle into my new space. I love it. However, I did not create wall art for myself. But I am kind of in the process because I did decide to play around with watercolors. I am hoping to do something for my wall with that medium. I am just not sure when yet.

3. Once a month, take my camera someplace locally to take picture (hopefully with my friend, Amy).

In May, I did go out of town during sunset and take some pictures of wheat. But that's pretty much all I did. It's really hard to be creatively inspired when it's really hot outside. I did not take photos with Amy, but I am still determined to make this happen sometime.

I guess I might still have time. As long as there are 80-90 degree days left in the week forecast, it is still summer in my mind. I don't care how long kids have been back in school. I will definitely look forward to consistent cooler temperatures come October, but in the meanwhile, maybe I will dig deep and find motivation to make ricotta.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Garden solstice

Garden solstice isn't a thing. And this year that was particularly true. There was never a high point or a low point. It just never really was. I am not exactly sure if I am even capable of gardening. That's a little bit how this feels since my 3rd year of gardening did not prove to be a charm but rather the worst season yet.

So it goes.

And I know that really sometimes it is just really how it goes. On some level, I was not alone in my garden failure. It was a horrible year for peppers and I know a couple of people whose tomatoes never really took off either. Misery loves company.

Because of being in St Louis two weekends in a row and because it is that time of year when I've had enough, I have officially stopped watering my gardening. (It actually has been raining fairly consistently; so this isn't actually a big deal at all). On Saturday, I went around and pulled up almost everything in my garden. What I left was my tomato plants. Ironically, despite their lack of fruit, the plants themselves look better than any tomatoes I have ever grown, especially for this part of the season. I actually had enough to can 4 pints yesterday. Until the weather dips too low, I expect I might get a couple of stragglers. I might even get enough to make sauce or can another pint. Who knows.
I really hope next season is better and I believe that it should be. After all, I am saying farewell to the community grass garden (good riddance) and will be gardening in the space in my backyard. I actually got the soil tested recently and am hopefully that will help me make smarter decisions. We'll see.
That grassy mess,? Yeah, that's my garden. 
Maybe Kansas has beat me at this game and I am just the fool who keeps trying.