Saturday, August 29, 2015

On Life


I haven't posted in awhile for three main reasons:


  1. One of the last posts I wrote really got me thinking about the direction of this blog, and I got a bit stuck in wondering what to do next.
  2. It's back-to-school time, so a lot of my energy has been going towards getting ready to go back to work.
  3. Major events, both good and bad, public and private, have put me in an introspective frame of mind.


I don't really have much to say about the first two--I'm still mulling over how to best create the blog I want to read, and I don't feel particularly compelled to write about the unit organizers and reading guides I've been cranking out for school. However I think it would do me some good to speak a bit about the third.

There has been much to celebrate this summer. It seems like just about everyone I know is either getting married or having babies, and that's wonderful! It is really exciting and heartwarming to see friends take these happy steps in their lives. My friends who delivered babies this summer have been blessed to have relatively drama- and danger-free deliveries. Not necessarily free of difficulties, but the survival of mom and/or baby has never been in question. I feel delighted and honored to be part of these very personal celebrations.

But as seems to always be the case in life, mixed in with all that joy there has been sadness. A friend was diagnosed with cancer. I fully expect my friend to be triumphant over the rogue cellular army known as cancer, but it hurts my heart to think about the ordeal it was for her just to be diagnosed and what lies ahead.

Image via Deviant Art
Also weighing heavily on me is the on-air murder of a reporter and photographer in Southwestern Virginia. Alison Parker and Adam Ward were employees of WDBJ7, which is my hometown station. I neither knew nor had any personal connection to Alison Parker, but, by all accounts, she was a truly wonderful human being. I did not know Adam Ward personally either, but he went to my high school, and was a friend of many of my younger friends. He was the son of my guidance counselor. My Facebook news feed has been awash in tributes and messages about memorial services. It is clear that they were both so, so loved, and their lives were ended in a truly horrific way.

Image via Brett Pinegar
There is something about major events, whether they are good or bad, that seems to trigger introspection. I'm not talking about envy of newlyweds or new parents or anger about the injustice of the world. Instead I am talking about the quieter, gentler thoughts. The thoughts that cause you to question whether or not you are living your life in a way that helps you access those happy, love-fueled moments and cope with tragedy when it comes your way. You cannot guarantee having a healthy pregnancy or finding The One anymore than you can guarantee remaining disease-free and safe from violence. You do, however, have a lot of control over how you choose to interact with the world. If you want more love in your life, put more love out into the world. If you want to see less hate in the world, make sure that your words and actions are not part of the problem. If you want more joy in your life, look to the small, everyday moments of your life and find it in savoring a cup of coffee or petting a purring cat. As Gandhi so wisely put it, "be the change," and be an example of a life well-lived.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ridiculously-Easy, 5-Ingredient Fruit Crisp

Kitchen improv success!

I've been making an effort to use up what's sitting in my freezer, fridge, and pantry this summer. I let some nectarines get a little overly-ripe, and I thought, "These would be perfect for a crisp, but I don't think I have the ingredients... Wait a minute... Maybe I do..." And thus the 5-ingredient fruit crisp was born.

Ingredients:

  • 3 nectarines
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • 3 raisin, date, and walnut oatmeal packets
  • 3/4 of a stick of unsalted butter


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut nectarines into uniform pieces, approximately 1" across.
  3. Transfer nectarine pieces to baking dish, then cover with lemon juice and sugar.
  4. Evenly distribute oatmeal packets over the nectarines.
  5. Melt butter and then pour over oatmeal as evenly as possible.
  6. Bake for about 30-40 minutes. Oats should be a golden brown, and you should see bubbling.

This is easily adaptable to any fruit you have on hand. Your objective is to get even coverage of all ingredients over your fruit--light coverage with the lemon juice and sugar, heavier coverage with the oatmeal and butter. If you use more fruit, you'll probably need to bake longer. Just keep a lookout for bubbling and color.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Blog I Want to Read

things i heart


It seems completely improbable that there could be something missing from the blogosphere, but I cannot seem to find the blog that I want to read. Sure, there are blogs that I read and enjoy, three of which I shared with you the other day, but there isn't one out there that fits me to a T. Where are the single women who are neither businesswomen nor artists, who care about the environment, and who also want to live comfortable, stylish lives? Some blogs get really close, but they're all lacking at least one piece of my ultimate-blog puzzle.

I want to read about ways I can have a positive impact on the environment...
but I don't want to obsessively monitor my carbon footprint.

I want to spend a weekend back-country camping...
but I also want to paint my nails a trendy color.

I want to pick up a few new pieces each season to stay stylish...
but I want to buy them from companies that care about ethical practices.

I want to live with a do-it-yourself mindset...
but not feel guilty if I occasionally just buy it myself.

I think you may see what I'm getting at--I am a combination of what I will affectionately term "crunchy granola crafter" and "basic b*tch," and I would like to read a blog that speaks to that dichotomy. I want to read about it all: food, style, travel, home design, and crafting. But I don't want to live mindlessly. I want to have those things while simultaneously doing what I can for the world.

Does this blog exist? If not, I guess I will have to create it.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

This Month


In my mind, August 1 marks back-to-school season. While summer is technically here until September 23, summer vacation is beginning to wind down. It's time to start thinking about things like flex hours, school supply inventories, and syllabi. With the inevitable return to working world imminent, this afternoon I sat down to work on some goals to make the transition a little smoother.

I recently started using a planner from InnerGuide that guides you through goal-setting for the entire year, and then provides you with tools to track your progress and break your lofty intentions down into doable action items. One of my major goals for the year is to read three books a month: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction, and 1 self-care. August's picks are:


In addition to reading, in August I want to:

  • Continue working towards a 5K. 
  • Develop some "systems" to automate some of the more mundane aspects of adulting.
  • Begin meditating daily.
  • Do at least one thing every day to help me prepare for the coming school year.
  • Redeem myself (in my own mind) by finishing my second attempt at knitting an aviator scarf.