Friday, August 26, 2011

Gone Campin'



This has been one heck of a week for natural disasters in Virginia. First an earthquake, and now a hurricane is heading our way. Being the foolhardy/stupid/intrepid/brave/hard core* people we are, Chuk and I are going camping and tubing this weekend...in a hurricane. Eh, it always seems to rain when we go camping anyway. Hopefully it won't hit us too badly.


*I'll let you choose which adjective you think is most appropriate in this case.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Are You Freaking Kidding Me: Already Edition

Yesterday, August 24, Costco had a whole aisle of Christmas items out. Already! Tree ornaments, ribbon, wrapping paper, lawn ornaments...EVERYTHING. I hate this type of thing. I am one of those curmudgeons who firmly believe Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving and not a moment sooner.

Costco, you know I love you, but this madness has to stop.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Organizing Office Supplies

I hate not being able to find things in drawers. I live in a small apartment and I try to make the most of my storage space. A super affordable way to organize office supplies is to use a cutlery tray, from the kitchen section of your favorite mega mart. All the little dividers keep your supplies easy to grab (and easy to put away!) I love keeping my desk clear.

It works for me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Freebies

Two deals for you:

You can get a free one night DVD rental on 8/25/11 if you "like" their Facebook page before then.

You can get a free customized greeting card from Shutterfly by using the promo code CARD4U.

I'm not associated with either of these companies in any way, I just wanted to pass along some good deals.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Where are you going?

Nearly everytime I leave the room, my husband asks, "Where are you going?" We live in a small small small apartment. There aren't may places I can go.

Just now, after we had finished watching an episode of 30 Rock, I got up off the couch and started walking towards the back of the apartment.

"Where are you going?" It was at least the third time he's asked me today.

"Where am I going every time you ask me that question?"*

"The bathroom," he answered correctly.

"Well, that's where I'm going. If you don't see me pick up my keys and walk out the front door you don't need to know where I'm going. Why do you always ask where I'm going?"

"Because I want to know where you're going."

Sigh. "But you already know where I'm going. You're so silly Chuk."

Then we hugged and then I went to the bathroom.


*I'm going to the bathroom 90% of the time he asks me. The other 10% of the time I'm getting a drink of water. These things tend to work together.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blerg

As you've probably noticed, I'm having some layout issues. I'm trying to fix them, but I'm not very tech savvy and I'm also getting carpet replaced in half my apertment. Thus, every part of my life is full of chaos right now, so it might take a couple of days. Please hang in there with me. In the meantime, if you're trying to find the navigation buttons that are normally on the right side, they're currently at the bottom of the page.

Mending

My husband is hard on clothes. Really hard. Because I want to learn to sew, he has been utilizing the opportunity to get his clothes fixed.

He tore the knee out of one of his pairs of cargo pants and the fabric was threadbare in one of the thighs. He asked me to make his pants into shorts and then to reverse applique (he did not use the term "reverse applique") his favorite fabric into the worn part of the thigh so he could use these as his grubby, fix his bike, wash the car, etc. shorts.

This project sounded easy enough, but wound up being a total pain in the butt. The position of the patch made it difficult to maneuver the sewing machine into the right place. And then when I tried to hem the shorts, the thickness of the fabric bent my needle. Of course, I didn't know anything about bent needles. All I knew was the machine randomly decided to stop working. Lots of googling helped me figure out what the problem was and then reading my complete owner's manual helped me fix it.

The fix on the second pair of shorts was much easier. The seam below the zipper split, and needed to be mended. My stitches aren't straight, but otherwise sewing these seams wasn't a big deal at all.

On the same pair of shorts, a hole was forming in the rear. Rather than deal with all the applique nonsense, as I had before, I simply cut a patch out of one legs from the pants I had made into shorts and used fusible tape on the inside to make a patch. I'll sew it in if the patch isn't able to hold up to washing and drying, but I'm trying to avoid that so I'll let him test it out a bit first.

Now, Chuk has two more pairs of usable shorts and it cost $0, and I know how to thread my machine without watching the instructional DVD or looking at the manual. Win.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I Know this Looks Bad...


video


...but I swear she was laughing and yelling, "wheee!" Everytime he put her down, she would do the sign for more.

We miss our little monkey. She is so much fun. We got to spend the last two weekends with her, but it'll be another four weeks until we see her again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Are You Freaking Kidding Me: Two Years Edition

I started this blog two years ago today. I was a fresh out of grad school newlywed living, not with my husband, but living with my maternal grandparents. My grandmother was dying from frontotemporal dementia (or FTD) and I was taking care of her.

It was a difficult time in my life. Marriage was initially was not an easy adjustment for me. I was unemployed. My father had died less than a year earlier and that pain was still raw. Now, here I was living with two octogenarians in Louisiana, in the hot humid summer, surrounded by quarrelling family, providing the most challenging and intimate kind of care to someone I loved dearly, but who was no longer herself. She was stubborn and suffered from paranoid delusions. I was emotionally and physically exhausted all the time.

But there were sweet times too. Blow drying her hair after I had bathed her. Massaging her feet before she went to sleep. When she would ask me for perfume, which she always called Bulgari. Making her root beer floats.

The last thing my grandma ever told me to do was to be a writer. When I lived in China, I had had written her long emails about what I saw, did, and experienced and she, a world traveller herself, had loved it. She wanted me to keep writing. So, I started this blog. I write about what I would write to her about: my life, my opinions, my ideas, and my likes and dislikes.

It's not the most popular blog. It's not the prettiest blog. It's not the most well written blog, but it's mine. My secret little record of my thoughts and ideas and memories. Only my husband even knows I have a blog and I've never even told him the name of it. Keeping it secret and keeping it anonymous allows me to share my feelings without embarrassment. I write it for myself and for my grandma and I'm perpetually amazed that anyone else bothers to read it. But I'm glad you're here. You're all so nice and without ever having met you, you have become my dear friends. Thanks for sticking around. I owe you an ice cream cone.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Easy Cheesecake Bars

Whenever my father-in-law comes to visit, I make him a cheesecake. I usually make my secret family cheesecake recipe (it's extra super duper creamy), but lately I've been switching it up a little more.

This time I sort of made up my own recipe, which I usually never do with baking, but cheesecake is forgiving. It didn't look gorgeous (that's what happens when I try to get fancy and decorate cakes) but my father-in-law gave it two thumbs up and my sister-in-law, who is on a diet, had seconds. High praise indeed.

Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Chocolate chip cookie dough
2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs

Press cookie dough into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. I used a tube of refrigerated dough because I'm a cheater and it was on sale. Obviously, you can use homemade if you are less lazy than me. Bake it at 325 degrees for ten minutes. It won't be cooked all the way, but that's ok.

While the crust is baking, blend the remaining four ingredients until smooth and well incorporated. Try not to beat in too much air. Pour over the cookie dough crust and continue to bake for another 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let come to room temperature before refrigerating overnight. If you're a dummy like me, open an old jar of hot fudge sauce (for ice cream) and glop it on top hoping it will make some sort of pretty swirl. If I was to do it again, I would warm up the fudge, pour it in a baggie, cut off the corner and then decorate the cake.

Monday, August 8, 2011

On Being a Survivor of Suicide

Friday marked the one year anniversary of my mother-in-law's death. Chuk and I drove down to his dad's house Thursday and spent the weekend with my father-in-law, sister-in-law, and niece.


We didn't do too much: ate, played with the baby, the usual. We drove to North Carolina, where she died, and wrote messages to her on balloons and then released them. It was simple, but I thought it was really nice. She liked simple things and wouldn't want too much of a fuss.

My mother-in-law died at the age of 58 because she committed suicide. She hung herself in the spare bedroom and her husband found her body when he woke up in the morning. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 33,000 lives are lost to suicide each year in the U.S. alone. Worldwide, the figure is more than one million.


I believe my mother-in-law's death was the result of untreated depression. I also believe she didn't seek treatment for her depression because of the stigma that surrounds it. Depression is a real illness; it's not something you can just "get over". Just as a diabetic's pancreas doesn't produce insulin, some people have hormone imbalances in the brain. Both require medical attention, a long-term health plan, and possibly medication. Yet people make jokes about shrinks and the crazy people who see them. Mental illness is a physical illness. Sick people are not seeking medical attention because of others' perceptions and fear of how they might be labeled.


I urge you, please don't make jokes about psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, antidepressants, mental illness, etc. The flip remark you make creates a culture of stigma. You never know what someone else is going through on the inside. You never know if they are in treatment or considering it and might be put off by just one little thing you say in passing.


We need to remove the shame from mental illness. There was a time when people wouldn't admit to having cancer because it was considered shameful or embarrassing. Now, we rally around cancer patients and survivors, as we should. It should be the same with depression and other mental illnesses. We should be sympathetic and encourage treatment and celebrate recovery.


If you've lost a loved one to suicide, I implore you to be open about it. You have nothing to be ashamed of. People need to know how widespread this epidemic really is. If you have sought treatment for depression, I urge you to be open about that too, in the appropriate circumstances of course. There is nothing to be embarrassed about in saying to a friend "It sounds like you're going through a hard time. I went through something similar and sought treatment from my doctor/psychologist/pastor/social worker and it really helped." You never know, you just might save someone's life.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Secret Single Behavior

I recently re-watched that episode of Sex and the City where the girls are all talking about their secret single behavior, the embarrassing things they do that they wouldn't want people to find out about. (I tried to find the clip online for you, but I couldn't. Sorry.) Carrie eats Saltines and reads foreign fashion magazines. Charlotte stares at her pores in a magnifying mirror. (Who doesn't?) I can't remember what Miranda's is and Samantha claims to not have any.

I have a lot of SSB, but my special summertime SSB is eating Saltines and Kool-Aid while watching TV. I remember I first figured out this awesome salty-sweet combo one summer day at my dad's little house in the woods sometime when I was in high school. My mom would have never bought Kool-Aid, but my dad sometimes bought us the sugar-free kind.

I'm not normally a snack-eater, but every once in awhile a nice, tall, cold glass of sugar-free Kool-Aid and a stack of Saltines is awesome. (You can buy individual servings of Kool-Aid nowadays, too.) I prefer either the grape or cherry Kool-Aid and I like to dip my Saltines in it very briefly then shove the whole cracker in my mouth. You know you've had enough when your fingertips start to get stained from the artificial colors of the Kool-Aid.

Do you have any secret single behaviors? Do you eat any embarrassing or weird food combinations?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Favorite Chicken Salad

I almost never buy cold cuts. Even if you don't buy the free-range organic ones, they're still really expensive--like $6-$8 per pound and the free-range organic cold cuts are even more expensive.

Around here, we mostly stick to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunches, but sometimes I make up a big batch of chicken salad for the week which we can use on sandwiches for lunch or a green salad for dinner. Even using the organic, free-range chicken breasts, it's still cheaper than conventional cold cuts.

My favorite chicken salad "recipe" is:

Poached chicken breast
Dried cranberries
Green onion (Use twice as many as you think you need.)
Chopped pecans or walnuts (I prefer pecans, but walnuts are healthier, so that's what I usually use.)
Mayo or Miracle Whip

I know there are lots of Miracle Whip haters out there, but I say try it in this. We are a divided house; I prefer mayo and husband prefers MW. However, I find that in mayo based salads (like potato salad, macaroni salad, chicken salad, etc.) MW tends to be better than mayo especially if you let it sit in the fridge for a day before serving. It doesn't taste like MW at all. I think the onion mixes with the MW and transforms it. If you do decide to use mayo though, add some lemon juice and salt and pepper to the chicken salad.

A final tip: the smaller you cube your chicken, the longer the chicken salad will last. Cut it into the smallest pieces you can handle without having a nervous breakdown.