Friday, December 31, 2010

I'm in love.

I think I just found someone who has figured out how to marry my love of bright ridiculous colors with the serenity of antique white. My mind is blown and I'm really freaking excited to start reading her blog. I was introduced to it by the fabulous Layla Palmer of The Lettered Cottage in her year end favorite room re-do post and my heart is on fire. I know it sounds extreme, but it's true. Her name is Meg and she has a blog called Whatever which I love. You have to see her room redo post from last January. I want to look at every picture of this woman's house and figure out how to pull off the same kind of awesome. Let's hope Austin likes it too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Homemade Christmas doughnuts? Sure, I can do that.

My husband has an irrationally high level of faith in my domestic abilities.

At least that's what I tell myself. The alternative is that he makes ridiculous requests just to see if I'll attempt them. He thinks nothing of asking if "we" (meaning I) can do things that most people think of as too difficult or time consuming to even consider.

To be fair, I am pretty freaking domestic. I don't think about it most of the time because it's my life, but then people come over and gawk over making fresh mozzarella and cracking out home canned sauce for pizza and I remember that not everyone does that.

Maybe his expectations aren't that irrationally high.

A couple of days before Christmas he asked if we could make these beer donuts he found a recipe for in BeerAdvocate. In my head I thought, "Are you freaking crazy? Why should we make doughnuts? I don't even think I've ever deep fried anything in my life. And do you have any idea how much is involved in this process? It has to raise like three times and it will take hours. I really don't want to."

Did I express that out loud?

No.

I said, "sure."

I'm a sucker for that man. He's just so damn cute and really doesn't seem to know how hard the thing he's asking you to do is considered to be by most people. He's so adorably ignorant you feel like you're not even trying if you don't at least try (which technically you aren't). So you try. Then he wants to make several different kinds of donuts. You know, so there is some variety. Nevermind, the fact that it means you have to do all the work multiple times.

Turns out, as usual, he was right. I"m a domestic rock star and I pulled it off beautifully. I think he got the impression that I felt like this project was a lot to take on when I suggested we only make one kind. He helped make two.

Christmas Eve, after visiting his grandmother and making dinner I made a Christmas spiced mocha and we started the doughnuts. I'm not a night person so I figured it was a good preemptive strike. I knew this was going to be a several hour long project. Luckily, it involved a significant amount of waiting time while the dough was rising and I had time to devote to finishing up and wrapping some Christmas presents for the next morning.

By midnight was had two dozen beautiful homemade doughnuts and matching doughnut holes in Map-Ale Bacon (An ale based doughnut with maple frosting and crispy bacon on top) and Black and Tan (a Pale Ale doughnut with a Stout glaze). We used Tallgrass Ale in the Map-Ale Bacon and Tallgrass IPA and Buffalo Sweat in the Black and Tan.


Pretty tasty.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas and guess what.

I'm now officially a person who has made homemade donuts. It's our new family tradition and I'll post all about it later, but right now I need to finish off a couple more gifts before I head to bed.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

If you want hilarity don't look at this girl.

I haven't posted lately. I've been too busy Christmasing. That, and most of the projects I've been working on are of a gifty nature and posting them on the internet prior to their opening spoils the surprise.

As of today, Christmas is very nearly under control. I think. Lets hope.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Talk about a good day.

The AJPA accepted the first article from my dissertation research, we've had Ajax for three whole years, and today is my official Ph.D. graduation date. I just need to bake those chocolate bacon chip cookies and I'm ready to party.

Friday, December 17, 2010

DIY Closet Organizer Reveal: You can have your duffel bag back now.

I finished the closet up yesterday morning. I thought about posting a "so close and yet so freaking far" commentary after Tuesday's building. I got most of it done, but I ran out of shelf supports.

It doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but when the whole point of the exercise is to cease keeping your shoes in a pile and your socks and underwear in a suitcase, a closet organizer which is mostly finished, but still retains these two key features isn't much good. It looks like a real closet organizer though.


Except for the pile of shoes still on the floor and that damn suitcase. There's also a duffel bag full of shoes farther in on the floor behind the wall. I borrowed it from my mom when I moved my clothes out of storage in her house.

I looks a lot better in comparison to the before.



Wednesday I had to make a run to Wichita for a very important item and I picked up more shelf supports on the way home. My shoes now all have a happy home and a new pair of friends I picked up on the trip.


That's them on top. A fancy new pair of green Chucks. They only had one pair in the whole store which was on clearance and my size. I took it as a sign. Almost as fabulous as my monkey sock slippers and those glorious goldenrod peep toe pumps with the leather buckle down towards the bottom.

We haven't shifted much of Austin's clothes into the closet shelving, but I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, my underwear might have a home in the dresser someday. A girl can dream right?

I'm going to paint the whole thing out when I paint the bedroom and add a couple of more shelves, but to be honest, I was totally over the whole thing by the end of the day on Tuesday. I ended up spending about $140 on wood and a box of shelf supports. More than some people spend on their closets I'm sure, but only 20% of the cost of the systems I planned if I bought it from that website.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I made a plan for a DIY closet organizer: you can't live with your clothes in a suitcase or strewn across the floor forever.

Well, I guess maybe you could. I have for over a year now. Between moving back from Atlanta before Thanksgiving last year and the day we moved into The Parsonage on Nov 5th I didn't have a closet (or dresser for that matter) where I was living. I had a closet at my parent's house, but working four hours away and then being married to someone who lived four hours away made it a little less than convenient for storing the clothes I actually wanted to wear. Austin offered me some space in his dresser, but that just meant his stuff ended up in laundry hampers.

I finally had a closet, however, the closet in the master bedroom is, shall we say, less than functional. It was clearly a misguided DIY attempt which includes no shelves and a single bar which is supported in the center by a rather cobbled together set of boards and requires a board across the opening around 4 1/2 feet high.

Confused? Try the picture.


That white strip of board is even with the back of the door to the closet (like the doors rest against it and it blocks access to the top. I took off the sliding 4'x6'6" mirrored doors so you could really see what was going on and because I needed them off to be able to get the carpet out (It's all coming out eventually, but for this week I'm just taking out the bit that's in the way of the new closet organizer). As you can see, this organizational system is NOT working.

This closet needs help and when I saw Ana White's DIY Simple Closet Organizer I got inspired.

Then I found a website selling closet organizational systems while image searching closet organizers trying to come up with the perfect plan. It lets you put in the measurements of your closet and tell it what kind of doors you have (it really does make a difference in how your closet would be organized most functionally) and then provides a customizable closet organization plan. Here's mine.


And with the walls.

Not sure how they knew our master bedroom is currently that pale shade of peach. Not for long. I have plans, but that is a project for once our clothes have a home.

Pretty shnazzy, huh? It's got a whole lot of shelves and a double hanging system on one side for The Hubs and a split between double hanging and tall hanging with shelves (the maxi dresses have to go somewhere) on my side. Our closet isn't actually as deep as they assume and the shelves on the side are going to face inward instead of forward so I can actually access the things inside them. I'm also putting the bottom half of the shelves closer together for use as shoe organizers on both sides and making the whole system shallower to work in our less than standard depth closet.

Note the price tag on this little number. Ouch. I'm planning to build mine for significantly less. I haven't gotten to the lumber store yet today, but I have ripped out that carpet and cleaned up the floor underneath. I'm waiting on the electrician to come fix the outlets in the upstairs (yep, the ones that were supposed to be rewired as part of the sales contract on the house). As soon as he shows up and I let him in I can take the dogs for a spin around the park and get cracking on this project.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Did I mention I got new chairs too?

The last major item in the dining room overhaul was the addition of a fabulous set of chairs.


My mom found them on craigslist in a town a mere 2 1/2 hour drive from my house. The chairs were on the way to The Parsonage from my parent's house, but I decided I needed the stuff I was still keeping at their place more than chairs. I mean, do you really need dining chairs to host Thanksgiving?

Yeah. You do.

So my parents loaded up their vehicle, drove all the way to my house (a five hour drive) and the next day drove another five hour round trip to pick up chairs.

Ask my mom about the process of haggling for these guys. It's a good story. I don't know how much she paid, but they had to have spent at least $40 in gas to pick them up. They were our housewarming gift.



Just ignore the dining room overhaul chaos in the background and how red the first coat of stain on the table looked. This post is about the chairs and all that other craziness has been dealt with.

My dear mother removed every last bit of plastic and upholstery from all eight chairs (nine if you include the straggler. I didn't get a picture of it before it was recovered) and suffered a few staple injuries as a result. She recovered them complete with new foam and batting and a wonderful floral print I found on clearance.

While she was at it I painted the pale ones with some Heirloom White spray paint. We left the dark wood ones alone since they matched the color the table would be. Yes, I had that much faith in my mom's staining abilities.

I was right.


That's the straggler in the background. He moved up to the guest bedroom after Thanksgiving was over.

Nice gift, huh? My mom has a ton of talent and can always see the potential in a good piece of furniture.

And with that, I think I have officially upheld my promise to cover the dining room overhaul. Let me know if I missed anything.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finishing old projects and starting new ones.

The other major effort (besides embracing levity) I'm working on at the moment is finishing up old projects before I start even more new ones. I tend to start more projects than is really advisable and it makes me feel overwhelmed and less creative even though it's generally my creativity that comes up with all these projects in the first place.

A big one, that I haven't been good about, is actually explaining and showing off about the dining room overhaul. It was a big deal and it hasn't gotten the credit it deserves. Until now.

I give you the chandelier is all it's holiday glory.



This glorious piece has a bit of a story behind it. I originally found it at the ReStore in Wichita, one of my favorite home shopping spots. It has great stuff for insane prices. Things usually need a little love, but I've got tons of that so it works out.

When I originally purchased it for $12.99, it looked like this.


One of the bulb sockets was broken and it clearly needed a little help. I replaced the bulb socket (really not that big a deal, just unhook the wires from the old one and hook up a new one). It was a $2.97 fix. It put me at a 16ish dollar total. I also invested in some several coats of spray paint to get the look I wanted (three to be exact: copper, leather brown, and an antique brass which I lightly sanded to give it an authentic antique brushed brass finish).

Then I took down the ceiling fan (I have a whole sermon about the wrongness of ceiling fans over dining room tables. I mean seriously, I don't want wind blowing on my food), cut the plug off the cord (you can do that), and put up the chandelier with a ceiling mount I picked up for $4.97 bringing the total up to 25ish, give or take some spray paint. I know, it's getting to be a seriously expensive 13 dollar chandelier.


Still, it looked great and I was quite satisfied with myself.

 

Then, a couple minutes later sparks flew out of the ceiling and the lights went out. Not good.

Turns out I blew the dimmer switch in the wall. Don't ask how that results in sparks from the ceiling. I'm not sure, but apparently it does. An electrician was coming to the house to deal with another issue so I had him take a look. He agreed with how I wired it up and figured the dimmer switch was just old and happened to go out. He put it a new one and all was well.

A couple minutes later the sparks repeated and the new dimmer switch was burnt out too. It smelled like smoke and everything. Cool, but not good. We determined it must be something in the wiring of the chandelier itself and I figured I had spent enough on his time dealing with my 13 dollar chandelier that I should figure that out on my own or I might as well have bought the $219 one I was faking.

I was so frustrated at that point I didn't even look at it until my parents got here. My daddy made it work and all was well. We reinstalled it and put in yet another new dimmer switch. No sparks and its been weeks. I think it's good this time.

I haven't gotten a bill yet from the electrician so God knows how much this thing actually cost me. Lets hope I saved a buck or two.

The new project is this hat.


I saw it in an antique store and had to own it. It spoke to my soul. I had no idea what I would do with it, but that didn't really matter. It fit the "I absolutely love it" category and thus was purchased (for $7 in case you're curious). I was sure I would find some great thing to do with it.

I did. It will be embellished with my wedding veil as well as some flowers and displayed in it's full glory in my room.

The room is coming along quite well by the way. I'll post about that some day, but I have projects to work on and I've been typing for too long as it is.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm having a party.

In case you missed the memo I have a life coach and I've been working on creating my best life. It's really fun and has great homework, like this week's be crazy, ridiculous, and rambunctious. Levity is one of my core values and I'm going to honor the crap out of it.

I'm also going to work on my YESes and NOs. I'm finding out what they are and living them. Today I realized the I needed to add "waiting to celebrate" to my list of things I will not do any longer (i.e. a NO).

When something awesome happens you have to celebrate it right then. If you hold off, the moment passes and it just feels contrived to celebrate it later. Kind of like throwing your birthday party three months later because that was more convenient. It's silly and you don't really feel like you're celebrating your birthday anyway.

As a result of this, my homework also includes throwing a party to celebrate the completion of my Ph.D. It's a pretty fricking big deal and I haven't been acting like it because I don't feel like I really have one yet even though my adviser, George Armelagos (who is a pretty big deal in his own right), called me Dr. Campbell Hibbs. I don't technically have a Ph.D. until Dean Tedesco signs off on my degree.

I don't know if that has happened yet or not. Funny huh? You do all this work for years and write this huge dissertation and send in all this paperwork and then you don't  get an email when the dean actually signs the stuff. Talk about a lack of closure.

My graduation date, however, is Dec. 18th. By then I can be assured that the dean has signed and I do, in fact, have the right to reference myself as Dr. Amber Campbell Hibbs. So I'm throwing a party on the 18th.

It's about the worst possible time of year to throw a party. People are crazy busy with The Holidays and whatever, but you know what? I'm not waiting. I'm having my party the day I know I have a Ph.D. and that's that.

I hope you can come.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holy frick.

Ana White commented on my table. I mean, I posted it to her facebook page so I dramatically increased the chances of that happening and she has to say nice things so people will keep reading her blog, but she said nice things about my table and I'm pretty sure they were genuine. That is all.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No, you're not too old to write to Santa Claus.

Some people don't seem to think Santa Claus is real (like my husband for instance). They're wrong.
Obviously, the Santas children line up in the mall to tell there Christmas wishes to aren't real. That would mean there are hundreds or thousands of him. That's just silly. The real Santa goes to the Macy's in New York City. My sister told me so and she saw him.

I suppose that's why Francis Phacellus Church of the New York Sun knew he must.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
I certainly believe in love and generosity and devotion and I believe just as strongly in Santa Clause.

I'll be writing him a letter today and you should to. Since he goes to Macy's anyway they set up mailboxes to collect people's letters. Why they mail them instead of just sending them all to the New York store so he can take them back to the North Pole with him I'm not really sure. I bet it has something to do with baggage fees. If you can't go to a Macy's store, you can send him one online from their Believe 2010 site. You can also make up a pretty letter to print and bring to the store mailboxes.

For every letter they recieve they're donating a dollar to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. So go ahead, write your letter and tell the non-believers in your life you did it "for the kids." Santa doesn't mind.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Chanukah!

I field weird about that C. Is it bad to just call it Hanukkah? And why is there only one K when you spell it with a C? Help me out here. I'm not Jewish. But that's kind of the point of my post. 
Oh, and yes Wikipedia'd it. Now I know it has to do with complication in the writing in English of a Hebrew word. I'm sticking with the H version. It's supposedly the classical Hebrew version. Works for me.

I was reading Simple Abundance this morning and the day's reading was about Hanukkah and it's importance regardless of your claim to or lack of faith. She (Sarah Ban Breathnach) was talking about the origin of Hanukkah as an expression of authenticity in the face of adversity. Things we should all think about celebrating. Especially Christians considering the importance of the Maccabean Revolt against the Hellenization of religion to the maintenance of the Jewish faith into the time of Jesus. I read up on it. In case you hadn't thought about it, Jesus was a pretty devout Jew and he definitely celebrated Hanukkah. Wikipedia also claims the eating of fried foods and cheese is traditional. In case you need extra incentive.

The thing that caught me was the notion that God (or Spirit, or the Universe, or whatever you believe in) will provide all that you really need. Maybe that's oil for a lamp, your parents coming to the home improvement rescue, or a pile of sugar cookies. The point is the same. Faith in that fullfillment improves the quality of your life and should be celebrated.

So, in honor of Hanukkah and my faith in the continued satiation of my needs, I will be having latkes  and some Hebrew Origin Pomegranate Ale at some point before the 9th. After all, faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rustic Dining Table I Built from Free Plans: A blog post is better than a Thank You card, right?

UPDATE: I've created a whole post with the explanation of the changes I made to Ana's original plans here.

Long time family friends, Dennis and Clarice Perret sent us a check as a wedding gift. We used the money to make a new dining room table. I remembered Clarice saying how much she preferred giving practical gifts. I hope she thinks this beauty fits the bill.


I know. I built that. With just a little help from my husband (he offered, but I wanted to do most of it myself) and a ton of finishing from my mom (I was over it by that point). She's a trooper.

I started from Ana White's design and adapted it a little. I put the stretcher supports back on the outside and added the extensions like the original.

I also switched out the 2x6 top for 2x8s (#2 Douglas Fir because they're cheaper and have more character than #1) and attached them all from the bottom; I didn't want to deal with concealing screws on the table surface. The switch meant the boards on the sides are attached only on the innermost 3 inches. I drilled up through the 2x4 aprons and used 3 1/2 inch screws every six inches to make sure they were secure.

I sanded it until I was pretty sure the risk of splinters was eliminated, but it was far from perfectly smooth. After pre-stain conditioner, it got a coat of Minwax Red Chestnut (procured for free from my local Household Hazardous Waste facility - if you live in Kansas you should check yours out. It's usually associated with the County Weed Department and just might have exactly the paint or stain you want for free. Just wait until you see my free paint kitchen). The result was a little too red so my mom saved the day with a coat of Provincial and sealed it with wax. It's a tough finish and I'm not taking any special care of it. The goal is for it to look like it's really old, not pristine.

It's a whopping 43 1/2" x 96", 126" with the 15" extensions on either side. Yep, that's over ten feet long. Our dining room is 12'x17' so it fills the space much better than its predecessor.


I think its a significant improvement. It was great to be able to have all the food and nine people around the table at Thanksgiving without feeling cramped. With extensions it seats 12. It's a serious table.

So, thank you Dennis and Clarice. Your gift is both infinitely practical and beautiful. We both really appreciate it and we can't wait for you to be able to come to dinner and see it in person.

-Amber and Austin

Seth - In response to your question. I made two 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" notches in the end boards and attached 2x2s to the extensions that went through those holes as well as a couple of 2x2 supports. I'm not sure if that's clear at all. It looks basically like this from the bottom.


And without the extensions it looks like this.

Hope that helps.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When did that happen?

I turned 28 yesterday. I had big plans about finishing up old projects and starting the 28th year of my life fresh and free from old, nagging to-dos including posting about my Thanksgiving dining room makeover.

That didn't happen. I got sick. On my birthday. Sniffling, sneezing, achy sick. I still did exactly what I wanted to do all day (it was my birthday), but that meant sleeping for the vast majority of it. I feel a little better today, but today is not my birthday and I have stuff to do so I'm accomplishing things with the help of daytime cold and flu medication.

Before I get to the seriously responsibilities I wanted to show you how well the dining room turned out. Thanks to my parents arriving the Saturday before we were able to get it all done for dinner. I'll post about the individual projects over the next couple of days. I promise. For now, check out well we did. And just ignore that Christmas tree in the background. I didn't get around to taking photos until after everyone left.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's a freaking travesty.

Seriously people. Don't light your Christmas lights before Thanksgiving. It's not right.

Feel free to put them up. I get it. It's easier when it's not freezing and snowy, but have some common decency. Just because retailers put Christmas stuff out in August doesn't mean it's okay for you as a private citizen to do so. Have some respect.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I love you Queen Watson.

You may or may not know that I've been having a series of mini-heart attacks over the last several days over the submission of my degree completion materials. There is a lot more involved in getting a Ph.D than just writing a dissertation and having your committee approve it.

A lot more.

Like hours of filling out forms and cursing the mail service.

Here's a little time line for you so you get an idea of what I'm dealing with here.


Tuesday:
I mailed the hard copy of my dissertation, the forms, a book I need to return to the library and my keys to the department Priority. It was supposed to arrive Thursday, the day before the hard copy and forms were due. A whole day to make sure my committee chair signed my ETD Submission Form and the rest of my committee actually got in to sign my Approval Sheet and submit it to the graduate school.

Wednesday: 
Three of my committee members hadn't signed it. Keep in mind they all already agreed at my defense, a month ago, that my dissertation was acceptable and signed my Degree Completion Form. I just forgot to print out the Approval Sheet and bring it with me to the defense. Living in Kansas, I had to mail it out since the actually original, signed copy is required by the graduate school. I sent out an email to remind them that I really need that done. Because, you know, I want an actual degree out of this whole process and I would sure hate to not graduate because I was missing some signatures from people who intended to sign something.
Thursday:
I get an email from one of my committee members saying he left for a conference and wouldn't return until Saturday, the day after all this paperwork is due. 
Stress level: cortisol up.

He says a departmental staff member can sign for him so this really isn't the worst thing that could possibly happen.
Oh, and the hard copy didn't come in the 8:30am mail. Maybe it will come in the delivery around noon.

Does it come at noon? No. 
Stress level: pretty freaking high.
Friday Nov. 19th:
Still no hardcopy and my committee chair doesn't think he's going to make it in today to sign the Approval Sheet. He'll sign it Monday.

If you missed this part, the paperwork, including most importantly said Approval Sheet, is due Friday Nov, 19th. (A.K.A. Today when I received this news).
Stress level: I'm not sure they can measure it in this range.
I just about lost my mind.

Instead I called the graduate school. I talked to the lovely Queen Watson who assured me to that she wouldn't block my graduation over a little paperwork lateness. She is amazing.

And the hardcopy? Still not in the mail. Either time. Damn.

Stress level: Stable. I think its maxed out.
Over the weekend:
I just decided not to consciously think about the situation. Mail wasn't going to be delivered and people sure weren't going to come in and sign things. No sense in actively stressing out about it. Subconsciously though, stressed to the max.
Monday:
As of about noon the freaking package still hasn't arrived and no one has come in to sign anything. I mean, really. Why would they?

I check the delivery confirmation number with the USPS. Guess what? They delivered the package at 8:51am on Friday. Where has it gone? No one knows. Emory Mail Services Limbo. Isn't that great?

Later my committee chair actually came in to sign my approval sheet (I love you George. He's been around long enough to know no one actually cares about the due date and doesn't get all riled up about stuff), but since they hadn't found my package yet he couldn't sign my ETD Submission Form (I told you there were a lot of forms). He signed a blank one instead. I guess the secretary will fill that out to match the one I signed and sent and sign for me.

Whatever. I'm over it at this point.

Oh yeah, and that last committee member, the one who also failed to show for my defense. No word from him. I left two voice mails.

I sent an email to Queen to see just how long she would give me before she really would have to block my graduation over this ridiculousness. 
Stress level: Pretty sure my body will implode if this continues much longer.
She said I can bring it by Dec. 1st. 

That woman really is a queen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Erg.

I thought I would be posting fabulous photos of my finished table and chandelier by now, but no such luck. The table is beautiful, but a little redder than I wanted so it needs another coat of stain and it snowed yesterday so the spray painting of the chandelier didn't happen. Don't worry. I will prevail.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First up, the dining room.

Austin and I are hosting Thanksgiving. A little crazy for people who closed on our first home on November 5th you say? Yep. Pretty much. But that's what I love. Making things mine rapid fire. The dining room is the number one priority since it's the site for the big event.

In case you don't remember, this is the dining room.


Or at least that's what it looked like when the previous owners lived here. A little boring. Maybe they took decluttering and depersonalizing a little too far. Or maybe they just didn't really have much interest in the dining room. I'm not sure, but I am sure that table looked little and sad. It really didn't fill out the room.

Then we moved in.



Still boring and sterile and our little table didn't really work either.

Good thing I have a plan. I've been thinking about this house and what I want to do to it for months so it's not like I haven't had the time to plan. Including drawings. By Thanksgiving it will look like this.


Well, sort of like this. Hopefully without the enormous cup and saucer floating overhead. And the table going the opposite direction. I clearly didn't quite remember the dimensions of the room at the time.

First project, get a table that both fills out the 12'x17' room and seats enough people that we can all sit together at Thanksgiving.

Check.

No seriously. I got a little help from Ana White. I built this table over the weekend. Well, not quite this table. It's a little closer to the original, complete with extensions and 43 1/2" wide. It still needs to be sanded and stained so I won't unveil it just yet, but soon. I promise.

I should probably also get on that finding chairs to sit in project, but they aren't in the drawing so I guess technically they aren't required.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Introducing The Parsonage

We moved into our house! Things have calmed down a bit and the internet is functional. I'm trying to get as much house stuff as possible done.

With that said, I can't type for too long but I do have pictures. Lots of pictures.

First, the previous owners pictures from the real estate listing.

Realtor Photos


And it's state as of Saturday morning. I haven't had time to take more recent pictures. I'm just too busy, really. I'll see what I can do after I finish up some work tomorrow. Promise.

2010-11-07


We still aren't done unpacking and I have a rule about not seriously decorating until the boxes are empty. I'm not following it, but I do have a rule. I'm super excited about it's potential.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Goal 1

I just got off the phone with my life coach. It seriously is the most amazing thing in the whole world. I'm really excited, and a little scared, but mostly excited. I have to am going to come up with five SMART goals by next week. SMART goals being Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Resonant, Thrilling goals.

I already have one down which is to spend 10 minutes being in my emotions every day. Are you thinking to yourself that sounds silly? You probably are and I might, but I don't care. (Doing silly things honors Levity, the value I spent the last two week nurturing, and doing what I want without worrying about what other people think is part of Self Determination which is also one of my values so I'm honoring that too. Go me!) You might also be asking yourself why, or maybe that's why you thought it sounded silly. How can you not be in your emotions? Very easily. I said (without forethought), "I have way too much going on right now to feel my emotions. I can be pissed, or upset, or whatever later. Right now, I need to get this shit done." Interesting how when you just talk without thinking you say things that are really informative about your mental state.

So, I will be spending 10 minutes a day being in my emotions. That's pretty Specific and time is Measurable. I'm texting my coach to let her know I did it so it's Accountable. It pretty much is Presence so its definitely Resonates with one of my core values. And it's Thrilling because quite frankly the idea of being in my emotions for ten whole minutes scares the piss out of me. Ten whole minutes? Jesus, I haven't spent more than like two seconds focusing on any emotions in a while. Ignoring them is much easier. My shoulders are tensing up a little just thinking about it, but I can do it and it will not be nearly as scary to experience as it sounds. Most things aren't.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Do other people have these thought patterns?

Today I was outside with the dogs and Kleio was off leash. She gets to go without one because she actually responds to voice commands as opposed to Ajax.

He only seems to be able to think about one thing at any given time and if he sees or smells a squirrel, or a cat, or a rabbit, or a deer, or pretty much anything his ears quit working and if he catches me off guard and I don't have a firm grip on the leash he promptly runs off into the woods. He doesn't come back and I end up having to have Kleio lead me to wherever he eventually gets his leash caught. It's really frustrating and I'm just not willing to deal with it so he has a leash and she doesn't. I think Austin thinks it's unfair, but I think it's just.

I started to think about how being able to control a dog's mind is way better than  being able to control its body. Much more efficient. And that made me think about Foucault. If you're not an anthropologist or social theorist, or reader of esoteric texts, he's this French guy who wrote a little book called Discipline and Punish. If you've never read it because it sounds boring (which, I agree, it does) I highly recommend at least the first couple of pages in which he describes in graphic detail a man being hung, drawn, and quartered.

Here's a little synopsis I wrote up years ago for a theory course. Please refrain from any derisive comments on it. I barely even a graduate student at the time.  

          In Discipline and Punish Foucault seeks to explicate the development of the prison system and its replacement of public torture as part of a greater process of increasing institutional power. This power stems largely from the production and control of knowledge. The shift between torture and imprisonment is the result of a need for punishment to be more effective, not an increased concern for the humanity of criminal penalty.  There is a Weberian rationality behind the introduction of the prison system. By eliminating punishment from direct view, it shifts into the “abstract consciousness” (Foucault 1995: 9) where it functions much more efficiently to control the populace than military force ever could. Punishment is both a “complex social function” and a “political tactic” (Foucault 1995: 23). Hegemony allows politicians and institutions to control the populace much more effectively by means of the “chain of their own ideas” (Foucault 1995: 102-103) than could ever be achieved through violent force. Discipline works because of the accepted inequality in control of knowledge between those disciplining and those being disciplined.
          Foucault extends his discussion of the structure of inequality and relationships of power to daily life through a number of other institutions including the school, military, hospital, and factory. The purpose of discipline in all of these institutions is to create “docile bodies” which are more readily utilized by those in more powerful classes. The penitentiary system and other social institutions provide a setting for the bourgeoisie to produce fully subjected proletariats. In this conceptualization, Marx’s influence on Foucault is evident. Foucault’s ideas have social and economical implications in controlling crime and labor. In terms of policy, they demarcate why the prison system endures although it is continually subjected to criticism and reform.
So I guess both are leashed, Kleio by a chain of her own ideas and Ajax by a an actual leash. Pretty sure that's not what Foucault was thinking about, but this is the kind of thing that goes through my mind almost every day. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Remember those countertops?

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was headed out to help my mom resurface her countertops. I've been meaning to post the pictures ever since, but I've been a little busy getting a Ph.D. and all. I know you've been anxiously awaiting them.

We used a Gianni Granite Paint for countertops in Sicilian sand.

Before we could start with the process we needed to remove the previous resurfacing. It did really well considering the conditions it experienced. Really, really well actually. It took an entire day of effort to get the previous surface removed, cleaned, and ready to begin the resurfacing process.



We finally got them cleaned and taped around the outlets and woodwork.


Before we quit for the day we put on the primer. It needs 8 hours to dry before the "mineral paint" is applied so I think doing it at night is a good idea.


The next morning we started the fun part. The standard process has three paint colors.




After more like 17 layers and a couple of tense hours we came up with this. It includes the three included colors, copper, a mustard yellow and burnt sienna acrylic paint.

 

After that, all it took was a trip to Alco and a near miracle involving my mom's next door neighbor to obtain enough burnt sienna to finish the project. 


Pretty fabulous, huh?

There is a top coat that goes over the paint layers, but the paint needs to dry for an extended period if you use acrylic paint and want to wet sand the surface (my mom really likes a smooth surface) before topcoating. You can top coat after 4 hours with the standard process. I had to head home before we could get to that step so we'll have to wait until my mom sends me the photos.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I am so freaking excited about life!

I got back from Atlanta this morning with signatures on my degree completion form and a ton of excitement about life. After lunch with my babe I went on an authentic excursion. I found the most amazing set of objects for my room. I'm really excited about my room and he thinks we should work on it first so that I have a space to finish all the stuff that needs to get done before they actually hand over my degree. He really might be the most amazing person on the planet.

I've been thinking about my room for a while. Pretty much the entire time between when we finally got under contract and now when I wasn't thinking about my defense or other rooms of the house. I have big plans. Awesome, amazing, make my heart sing plans and it's finally close enough to our closing date that I feel okay about acquiring objects for it.

My glorious finds include a chair for the desk my mom found which is The Desk from my Illustrated Discovery Journal.


A book called "Roses of Yesterday" filled with watercolors of old rose varieties. Originally I planned to cut out some pictures and frame them, but I love the book too much and I'll have to make color copies.

 
This super cool stemmed bowl thing which goes with a pair I saw at Chester's (ahh, Chester's...) in Meade, KS. If you're ever driving down US Highway 54 in Southwest Kansas and he's open you should stop. It will be worth your time. Not so much for my room, but super cool nonetheless.


And an A which I was planning to paint matte black, but I'm now thinking about whitewashing instead. You'll soon know why.



The best part? All of my purchases totaled up at $13.20 plus tax.


And then, (note the additional excitement over the continued awesomeness of my day) I came home, played with the puppies until they wanted a nap, opened reader and discovered an amazing blog by a fabulous woman. Thank you The Lettered Cottage. It's called Perfectly Imperfect and it rocks my socks off. When I saw the damask background I knew she was my kind of lady. She inspires me and has great how-to posts and posts like a discussion on dry brushing vs. white washing. Which means we have a new addition to the Blogs I Love list. Love it.

Then, (no really, there is still more awesome excitement) my husband decides we should review New Belgium's Transatlantique Kriek (cherry Belgiam beer) for our blog, Brewmiscuous, and bake a pizza.

I am blessed beyond words.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Private Defense.

Check.

Now on to all those edits/suggestions. Well, maybe on to them next week. I don't think now is the time to think too hard. I have a presentation to adjust to my new reality.

I defend my dissertation today!!

That's right kids. I'm defending that bad boy at 1pm Eastern. I'll let you know how it goes. Oh, and the book I have a chapter in is published. They sent me a copy. Very fancy looking.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oxygen is very important.

My sister made this observation earlier today. She makes an excellent point. Not the point she was trying to make, that I needed to calm down and breath.  She made that one too, but she also made another one.

Sometimes I tend to forget what I really need and what really matters because I'm busy stressing out about things like not being able to find the cover for my iPod charger hole, or my total lack of access to espresso, or defending my dissertation tomorrow and I fail to realize what a not big deal they are in the grand scheme.

Relative to a lack of oxygen none of them are reasons to freak out; then again most things aren't. It's seriously really freaking important.

Friday, October 15, 2010

See, I told you.

My life coach included "awesomeness" in her list of possible values based on our conversation. She so gets me.

I have a life coach!

I got a life coach two weeks ago. We had our first official session yesterday. In case you aren't in the know, a life coach helps you can focus on living your life the way you want to. My sister is a life coach and she suggested mine. She is freaking awesome.

Her name is Jessie May Kezele. She's got a niche so she might not be right for you, but if you're a woman in your 20s or 30s in the midst of transition and facing big decisions about how you want to CREATE your most fulfilled life, she's the lady for you. Check out her website.

You feel inspired already, don't you?

I did.

I decided I liked the idea of sharing my coaching experience on my blog. It's fun and interesting and helping me to focus on intentionally living as my authentic self. She's awesome and it's a lot more fun than just going through the motions.

In our first session it became apparent that the concept of a garden helps me think about challenges as consisting of a series of little steps.


You may not know this, but I really like activities with a series of little steps. I like the idea of knowing that doing each little thing the right way will result in getting what I want in the end. It means I like doing laundry, and math problems, and cooking.

I spend most of my day in front of my computer so I decided that the best way to keep this idea in mind was to use my background as a reminder. I gathered up pictures in picassa and came up with this.



Don't you feel calm and relaxed like you could take on the world? Me too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I spaced on coming out day.

As the former vice president of the Queer Straight Alliance at K-State, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I totally forgot about National Coming Out Day. It happens every October 11th so it's not like I have date variability to blame. You'd think my excitement at going to school that sends out a message like this would have helped me remember for the next ten days.

It is crucial for us all to educate ourselves, learn intervention strategies, engage in dialogue with others, and commit to end bigotry, shame, and harassment. We must protect and embrace all members of the Emory community and beyond, letting them know that they can live full, productive lives and openly embrace and express their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression regardless of how they self-identify. Fortunately, Emory has many organizations and opportunities to get involved to create a positive future today. For a complete list of organizations and groups, please go to the LGBT Life website at www.lgbt.emory.edu.

We must be courageous leaders to create an inclusive, affirming and accessible campus community. We must also celebrate all aspects of our identities.

YOU are Emory. WE are Emory.

It didn't. I just got too busy with my own life. I'm defending my dissertation next week and closing on a house a couple of weeks after that, but by God I am all about promoting happy human coexistence and love.

So happy belated Coming Out Day. Congratulations to everyone who has able to find the strength of character to be themselves and thank you to everyone who supported them.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Never let them know you're hungry.

My parents and I attempted to go out to eat Monday night.

After a second failed attempt and a wasted ten mile drive we determined we’d be better off to just go to the Pizza Hut in Meade. Pizza tends to take a while and we were seriously hungry so we thought we should call and order, but my dad didn’t bring his phone with him and we didn’t have the number.

Like you don’t have a pizza delivery place in your phone? He’s working with limited options.

My mom made up a number; she tends to do that when she doesn’t quite know the phone number for something. It usually has several of the correct digits, but rarely all of them or in the correct order. The number was disconnected.

Frustrated, my dad called my sister to ask her to look up the number, but he got her voicemail. She called back after a bit (too late to make much of a difference in the wait time on our pizza so we didn’t even bother with the number).

After we got to Pizza Hut and sat down this sweet girl came over to take our order.

Dad: “Honey barbecue wings, not those nuclear bomb, burn your face off (pretty sure he’s referencing. buffalo) wings. I ordered honey barbecue at the one in Dodge City and got some flaming hot shit.”

We also ordered two pizzas and an individual pasta. We’re working on that countertop resurfacing project and we can’t really use the kitchen. Leftovers were essential.

Dad: “And bring those wings as soon as possible. We’re starving.”
After she leaves: “What do you suppose we’ll get?”

My dad has a tendency to order things and receive completely different food at restaurants or have his food just never show up. He has a bit of a complex about it.

After a freaking long time the wings finally showed up. They weren’t honey barbecue. Shocker. They were buffalo, no sauce, but buffalo. The bright orangeness gave it away. I bit into one to confirm. Yep, totally buffalo.

She took them back.

She came back with the same wings coated in honey barbecue sauce. Not exactly what we ordered, but pretty damn good. I highly recommend it.

Shortly after, one of the pizzas arrived. Not both or the other thing we ordered. Just one.

Dad: “You realize our other food isn’t coming.”

The waitress came back to assure us that the rest of our food would be there shortly.

Dad: “You know they forgot it, right? Otherwise it would have shown up with the first pizza.”

Me and Mom: "Yep.”
The second pizza arrived a little while later and the waitress tells my mom they just put her pasta in and it will be out as soon as possible.

For reals. Perhaps a complex is justified.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm a horrible parent.

I cut my child.

On accident and he's a dog, but I cut him and I feel like a horrible person. I mean seriously. Look at him. What kind of parent injures this little guy?

He trusted me enough to let me trim his nails. No complaint whatsoever. I just held his paw and clipped them.
 
I used nail trimmers with a safety guide. It wasn't. In my defense, he has black claws so it's not like you can see the quick, but he totally trusted me and I totally cut him. And then he comes to me for comfort. Endearing and guilt inducing.

He's a trooper. He didn't even really wince or anything. He just bled all over the place. All freaking over the place. For almost an hour.

Little red blotches all over the carpet.

Scrubbing them on my hands and knees must be my penance.

Probably not the only thing that makes me a hypocrit

I've been slightly annoyed that two of my favorite bloggers haven't posted since Thursday.

Have I?

No.

I have a life, but they are supposed to provide me with a constant flow of information and entertainment. They get paid. I don't.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

She's a foxy lady, huh?
Today is my mom's birthday. Luckily for me, she loves me and she knows that I'm much better at picking out fabulous gifts for people when I run into them or doing stuff for them than I am at finding gifts at special occasions.

I'm actually going home next week to help resurface her kitchen counters. Merry Christmas, 2009 Mom! Yep. She's used to it. Oh, and she agreed to let me photograph and blog about the whole process. I can't wait.

But this year, I think Ana White has provided me with a lovely, and timely birthday gift. My mom has been talking about wanting to display family photos somewhere in the house for a while, and I think a set of these freaking fantabulous Gallery Ledges would be awesome.


Let's hope she thinks so too. If she does, I think I might be able to bust them out before I leave. 

Happy Birthday, Mom! Love you bunches.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Let the countdown begin.

I can't even think straight about anything this morning but the house Austin and I (more he really. He's getting the loan, but since we live in a communal property state it's my house too automatically) are buying. We're closing on our house in less than a month. Thirty days to be exact.

I need to figure out a way to add a little countdown thing to the blog so you'll be able to keep track of exactly how long it is until you can visit us. You know you want to. Feel free to show up and offer to carry things in too. I'm sure we can find you a beer or something.

I'm also defending my dissertation in 13 days so that should be a good distraction for the first half and then I'll have that article to revise. Hopefully I'll be able to remain focused, but to be honest I really just want to use Google Sketchup to draw the things I want to do to the house. I will try to refrain at least until the dreaded Public Defense PowerPoint is complete. For now, you can just check out the video the seller's Realtor posted on YouTube.





I know. It has tons of potential and you just want to tear that wallpaper down and repaint the old lady lipstick pink rooms. Me too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I was beginning to worry.

I meant to post a blog today about getting a life coach, but a bit of news has happened and I thought I would share it.

One of my favorite blogs mysteriously went post-less this weekend. They are in the process of redesigning a house so I thought maybe they were just a little too busy to post, but that's what they post about so I waited patiently for the next post to show up in my Google Reader. I'm an obsessive Reader reader and everything I need to know about the world shows up there every day. It really does save time when things you're interested in reading just show up like magic. Anywho, the point being there was a post this morning and this is what it said.

Hey there!

We moved our content over to Wordpress!

You can now find us here:

www.TheLetteredCottage.net

Well that explains it. Layla and Kevin are amazing and you should go check it out, even if you've seen their old blog.  It's even better.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The abstract.

I submitted the abstract of my dissertation to the department today. This is important both because I needed to write one and because it needed to be submitted two weeks prior to my defense. I got it in a whole day early. Go me. Here it is for your reading pleasure just in case I didn't already ask you to read it and you're not in my department.

Irrigation use can significantly influence the epidemiology of schistosomiasis. The infection is transmitted by aquatic snails, and canal irrigation compounds exposure risk by increasing snail habitat and time spent in contact with contaminated water. In modern populations schistosomiasis has been deemed “the most important water-based disease from a global public-health perspective,” yet little is known about the impact of schistosomiasis on populations living in the past.

To better understand the influence of different forms of irrigation on the burden of schistosomiasis disease in ancient populations, an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to detect antigens specific to Schistosoma mansoni in desiccated tissue samples from two Nubian populations, one that used saqia canal irrigation (Wadi Halfa, N=46) and one that used annual flooding (Kulubnarti, N=191). Based on evidence regarding the impact of canal irrigation on schistosomiasis prevalence and transmission in modern populations, the prevalence of infection was predicted to be higher in Wadi Halfa than Kulubnarti, peak infection intensity was predicted to occur at an earlier age and at a higher level within the Wadi Halfa population and the prevalence of schistosomiasis to be higher in males than females in both populations.

The prevalence of S. mansoni was greater in the Wadi Halfa population (26.1%) than at Kulubnarti (9.4%)(p=0.002). However, peak prevalence of infection did not occur in a younger age category within the Wadi Halfa population; prevalence of infection peaked at 66.7% in the mature adult age group (46+ years) in the Wadi Halfa population and at16% in the later child age group (6-10 years) in the Kulubnarti population. There were no statistically significant differences in prevalence between males and females of either population.

I also examined the influence of irrigation use and schistosomiasis on the productive capacity of the populations. Using disability estimates from modern populations, the expected reduction in the productive capacity of each population was calculated. The population at Wadi Halfa experienced considerably greater disability of the population due to a higher prevalence of infection; this required a five times greater increase in the productivity of the uninfected population to offset the reduced productivity of infected members.

Friday, October 1, 2010

That academic part.

You haven't heard much about the academic stuff I do lately since I was in a bit of a waiting period. I had submitted an article to the American Journal of Physical Anthropology (henceforth the AJPA) and my dissertation to my committee. I've had some database creation projects which I'll be sure to share with you when they get more exciting, but my major academic project lately has been formatting my dissertation for submission to the graduate school, 12 point font, 1 inch margins with the exception of the left side which is 1.5 inch, page numbers beginning with the first page of the body of the work, and some very specific additional pages that must be added along with its abstract and acknowledgment sections. It's very exciting. I assure you.

I also started working on the PowerPoint for my public defense after a nightmare that I showed up without preparing one.

I heard back from the editor of the AJPA about the article I submitted in an email sent at 4:12. I'll start working on that just as soon as I finish the PowerPoint for my public defense. I'm a little excited about it.

What is it that I do? Depending upon the scale you're talking I either turn mummy skin into a liquid and then test it for parasitic infections, or I study how humans interact with their environments and how that influences their well being.

We do lunch. It's our thing.

I have lunch with my sister. We live about 7 hours apart, but we make a point of calling each other when we take a break from whatever we're doing for lunch.

The other day we had a little talk about her kitchen. She and her husband have been thinking about changing it since they moved in and it's about that time. They've been thinking over several options from replacing all the cabinetry and moving things all around to refacing them and everything in between. She was very excited about the refacing place she had found since they also custom make cabinets if you want to add some and can make new drawers to replace the busted ones which aren't a standard size anymore and are the main reason they were thinking about replacing the cabinets in the first place.

I've been thinking a lot about kitchen remodels since we're closing on the house Nov. 5. If you haven't noticed, I'm obsessed with cooking and an attractive kitchen is key to my happiness. No seriously. It influences my mood in ways I don't think other people really get. I need to cook in a pretty space. Need. Trust me.

I suggested she paint them white since a ton of the woodwork in her house in already white and her husband is near obsessed with making sure the house is bright and well lit. Sometimes it scares me how much he has in common with my dad. I also really like the look of white kitchen cabinets. We decided that we're painting her cabinets ASAP. Since we're both a little busy that's after Thanksgiving.

I sent her this email to seal the deal.

The before and after photos from the lettered cottage.
http://www.theletteredcottage.net/2009/09/presto-chango.html

The kitchen remodel with white painting of cabinets
http://www.whisperwoodcottage.com/2009/12/whisperwood-cottage-kitchenthe-during.html


and the beadboard wallpaper how to for the cabinet sides.
http://southernhospitalityblog.com/beadboard-wallpaper-project/
I especially love the beadboard wallpaper on the ends. It just makes the whole thing seem more finished. I'll keep you posted with pictures when it happens.

We're juvenile like that.

Last night at dinner I stole a bite of my husbands mac and cheese.

In retaliation, he coated my forearm with grease from the ribs he was eating.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pizza. Every. Week.


My husband shared a link to a free Pizza on the Grill Cookbook deal in June which amazing seems to still be available.  He’s obsessed with slickdeals which tends to work in my favor.  You pay $5 shipping and handling, but still it's a pretty good deal for the cookbook and two packs of the yeast.  Basically, Fleishmann's is pushing their new pizza crust yeast and the free cookbook is supposed to get you to want to purchase it.  Worked pretty well since I've bought two three packs of their yeast since.

I waited not so desperately for it to arrive since the form claimed it would take six to eight weeks to arrive.  It showed up in the mailbox several weeks sooner. I tried it out that night.

Of course, I read all the instructions or at least the whole introduction and basic instructions.  I’m a stickler for instructions.

Basically, you make the crust, stretch it out, and throw it on grill with the charcoal all shoved to the opposite side (i.e. the coals aren't right under your pizza.  It WILL burn if they are). You put the lid on and wait 3 minutes, then turn the crust 180 degrees (so the opposite side is towards the coals), put the lid back on and cook for another 3 minutes. Pull it off the grill and top with whatever you want. Then put it back on the grill, close the grill and wait 6-8 minutes or longer depending on how done you like your pizza and how hot your coals are. I like to position the vents in the top so I can see the pizza without opening the lid.

Stretching the crust out by hand and throwing it on the grill gives the pizza a nice rustic appearance that I love. 


If you want easy awesome thin crust you need to roll the crust out well beyond the thinness that seems reasonable.  Like, 1/8 of a inch or so. Trust me.  Little air pockets will puff up inside and it will be fabulous. It burns quick though, so keep an eye on it.

You can do the same thing in the oven. Crank it up as high as it will go and cook the crust right on the rack. I've been doing that more lately since it's been raining on the days I feel like pizza.


Note the conspicuous lack of color on one quarter of each pizza. Austin only likes meat and cheese on his, so his part isn't ever as pretty as the rest.

My new skill combined with a large supply of homemade pizza sauce have meant I've made pizza at least once a week ever since.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

24:58

I ran a 5K race this weekend in my home town. I originally agreed because a couple of my friends who shall remain nameless convinced me it would be fun if we all ran it together. When I realized it was the same weekend I was supposed to run a 5K test for the novice half marathon training program I've been on I felt like I pretty much had to. I sent in my 15 dollars and committed.

Weeks later I find out the neither of them is planning on running. They both have legitimate excuses, but that is not the point. Neither one of them told me before I registered. Like they forgot or something. Ooops.

The only friend who actually ran it is WAY faster than me and therefore we both ran in the race, but I only saw him at the starting/finish line. Doesn't count as running with. In the end, I ran the 5K all by myself. Which is fine. Whatever.

My goal was to be able to jog the entire thing in under 28 minutes. I said 30 at the starting line, but that was a lie. I timed myself before I started training for the half and made 3 miles in 28 minutes. That's 9:20 a mile. I wanted to run at least that fast despite the vague illness I'd had all week.

I was tired and cold and didn't warm up. Not exactly optimal, but I finished in 24:58. That's an average of 8:20 a mile. According to the time keeper at the one mile line, my first was more like 8:32. The second was more like 8:15, and the third in 8:11. I know, you're thinking, "but Amber, a 5K is 3.1 miles." It is, but I mapped it. The course was actually 2.97. You'll note that I got faster with each mile. That's what happens when you don't warm up.

Turns out I won my age category (females 18-39). I only won because the community college's cross country team couldn't officially register, but I did finish before one of their members. It kind of made me wonder how fast I could run it if I got serious and warmed up and ran a race pace.

In response, I ran four miles fast enough to make myself throw up yesterday. Today I didn't run and I'm eating peach bourbon ice cream. You have to have priorities.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Inhumane working conditions.

I spent Sunday morning helping my in-laws replace some of the boards on their deck. If's kind of fun and I'm happy to help, but they were smoking at the same time on the same deck. It's a very large deck and the smoker was well away from where we were working, but the smell wafted over.

Have you ever tried to do physical labor while smelling ribs and jerky smoke? It's practically impossible. It was like I was in some hostage situation. I could smell the meat, but I couldn't eat it. For hours. And I had to work while I was waiting.

Then my mother-in-law had the audacity to give me a piece of jerky. A piece. One. Single. Piece. A piece of jerky fresh out of the smoker is about the most delicious and wholly unsatisfying thing I have ever eaten. All it does is make you want more, but you can't have any more. It's not ready and everybody else only got one piece so you're this horrible person if you have more than you're fair share.

So I slaved away for like two and a half hours before being served a huge pile of amazing ribs. Woe is me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

To Do List.

I told my mom the other day that I have the attention span of a two year old with ADD.

She laughed.

That's not funny. It's only funny if it isn't really true. I checked some websites and they tell me that a two year old without ADD should be able to pay attention to something for 5 or 6 minutes.

Five or six minutes?!

Are you kidding me? I haven't been able to think about one thing for 5 or 6 minutes in months. I think about things over and over, but never for any significant period of time. I can't even write a blog post without getting distracted and doing something else, and then something else, and then seeing the blogger tab and thinking, "oh yeah....the blog. I should finish that," and then finishing it the next morning. This post took like seven to twelve tries. I don't know really. I didn't have the attention span to keep track.

I think this is all a sign of the fact that my brain has way too much to think about at any given time and I'm having a hard time prioritizing things so that I can decide what is most important RIGHT NOW and think about that. Everything seems to be important and everything needs to get done.

Lists are my salvation.

I've decided to start putting everything on my to do list so that I remember them even piddly shit. Yesterday's looked like this

print pay stubs
move belhaven
get Jordan pdfs
do the laundry
email Jessie back/schedule session
make a power point for your public defense
brush your fucking teeth. it's gross.

I literally had to put brush your teeth on my to do list. That's ridiculous. To be fair, my life lacks a certain sense of order and habit and leaving the house that I think most people rely on to brush their teeth. I try to do it after I've had my coffee and before lunch, but I just can't seem to remember it for long enough to actually get it done.

God help me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I love breakfast.

Inspired by Poor Girl Gourmet, I busted out a seriously homey breakfast this morning. She made eggs in a nest and put jam on the cut out, but to be real honest I'm not all about the cutting out and dealing with the center bit. I fried a piece of toast with butter on both sides and topped it with an over medium egg.

I know you're cringing, Mom. Over medium. The ever so slightly liquid-y yolk is freaking delicious and I'm willing to risk the salmonella. I really hate fully cooked egg yolks and I always will.

My husband even graciously allowed me the last of his orange juice. Sorry I didn't take a picture. It didn't last very long.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A less than scientific experiment.

I'm a scientist. That's what I do. I think my upbringing had a lot to do with that. In fact, I should probably have a whole post about scientific experiments in my childhood.

Yesterday, there were these pork cutlets in the fridge. They were purchased at a reduced price since they were near the sell by date and really needed to be consumed. 

What does one do with pork cutlets? Good question. I had no idea. They reminded me of pork minutes steaks which is pretty much what they are, but I only know one way to cook minute steaks and I don't think Austin was a fan the last time I busted that one out.

Internet to the rescue, or more accurately Real Simple and EatingWell to the rescue. They are the mainstay of my recipe searches. My friend Jen first introduced my to Real Simple magazine and my mom got me a subscription for Christmas last year. I have big plans to cut and paste together a cookbook of their recipes. Austin has an even better idea, but that's top secret until it exists. EatingWell became a part of my life when I tried to be supportive and joined the National Body Challenge. Yet another story deserving an individual post. They have recipes that are as healthy as possible without losing the flavor. And they aren't afraid of  heavy cream. I respect them for that.


Real Simple offered up a whopping 251 recipes in response to my search for "pork cutlet," although only nine actually had cutlet in the name and they all appear to be variations on the same basic recipe. Still, a good selection of options especially if they're tasty. EatingWell seemed to be less stoked about pork cutlets because they only came up with three results. A bunch more for turkey cutlets and chicken cutlets, but only three pork cutlets. They had a baked version of the same basic breaded pork cutlet recipe called Golden Baked Pork Cutlets.

Mental thought process - A healthier, baked version of comfort food is always welcome, but sometimes I get a little flack for that.    Maybe I should just go with the fried version?    Hmmm.    Why don't I make both? Then I can test them and see if one is really better than the other in direct comparison. None of that "this is how I remember it tasting" action to deal with.

I decided to test out the Pork Cutlets with Potato Salad from Real Simple. Austin had requested potato salad and I aim to please so it was the obvious choice and the baked Eatingwell version. Since I tend to forget to document my projects I enlisted Austin to photograph the whole shebang. You can thank him for the visuals.

I set up all the necessary ingredients for each recipe in my work area which involved a lot of bowls since both had three layers in the breading process and went to work.


The man can make a pile of flour on a plate look nice.
Artsy meat. Mmmm.
I ran out of the outer breading using the EatingWell measurements. To be fair, I did technically use a little more meat than the recipe called for, but I was trying to use the stuff up.

Cutlet with pathetic lack of breading


No such problems with the Real Simple recipe. Plenty of extra I had to toss in the compost pile, but those cutlets were coated.

Well coated cutlets


Action bake shot
Action fry shot 
We tried both. I had mine with a Shiner Oktoberfest and brussels sprouts.


You can taste a difference, but it's minor. I think it's mostly the flour interior breading on the fried version as opposed to corn starch on the baked. I vote flour dredging and using two egg whites then following the EatingWell recipe, but making double the breading and freezing the extra. Austin votes fry, but he doesn't cook.

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