Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy 24th

pinned here from here
Today my husband asked me what day it was. To which I replied that four months from today is Christmas Eve. After which, he called me Rainman.

I can't help it. I love the anticipation of Christmas. Pom-pom wreath, anyone?

Monday, August 22, 2011

5 Minute(ish) Outfit: TOAST

As promised, one more stale '5 minute outfit', and then on to better things.  Sadly, none of the above items from TOAST are available anymore.  On the plus side, I can always hope that the shorts I'm stitching up these days will come out a little like the ones pictured here...

5-Minute(ish) Outfit

Catching up on some '5 Minute Outfits' sitting in my folder...The above items are from Anthropologie, or anyway they used to be.  It seems I've let this sit so long that much of them are no longer available.  (Available items are labelled).  However, I'm pretty sure this is just to amuse myself anyway and no one (including me) was planning on rushing out and purchasing anything. 

Since Beth asked me a whole long while back what I use to make my collages, I will take this opportunity to tell you that I use Picasa...and I love it. 

In other news, I'm on my lunch break at the nearest coffee spot and I feel like if I stand up, I just might barf.  Not good! 

Happy Monday, everyone.  One more stale outfit to come, and then hopefully more relevant(?) stuff is on the way.  (But no promises here).

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Bit Random

So, somehow in my blogging absence, I surpassed the 10,000 hits mark.  I can't imagine why 20,100 eyeballs would come to rest here for a second or two, but I guess it's cool.  I have been taking breaks off and on from posting here, mostly because I've been struggling to know what it's all about and what my words or (often borrowed) photos could possibly have to add to the pool. 

The past year has been a strange one.  I don't feel like the same person that left home 2 years ago.  And honestly, I miss that person sometimes.  I think I was a better friend.  I felt things more deeply.  I engaged life more often.  I appreciated beauty more.  I experienced wonder.  Heck, I looked a lot younger too.  These days, I just feel old and tired.  I don't feel like a particularly good wife, or a particularly good employee, or a particularly good friend or daughter or granddaughter.

I think I've come unplugged.

There are a few possible explanations.  Exhaustion.  Maybe depression.  But mostly I think...a choice to disconnect because everywhere I look I see something tragic.  I'm not being melodramatic, it's just that it's been a really, really tough year for most of the people I love very much.  I feel helpless and sometimes I shut down.  My own faith has been in a crisis, and rather than getting back up and fighting, I think I've just decided to sit life out for a bit.  Or I thought it would just be for a bit. 

Anyway...The past few weeks I was reading the book of John, and what struck me more than anything is that we tend to want the wrong things.  I have wanted healing for my friends and the restoration of what's been lost to them.  Clearly not wrong things...unless you stop believing that God is still good despite all that you see, and you choose to stop engaging in life and relationship with Him.  I didn't realize my faith was so weak.  I didn't realize I trusted Him so very little.

I've been asking myself a lot lately what I want.  Do I want a relationship that lasts forever in which I can fully engage?  Or do I just want a 'good life'? ... Do I want to fully trust in Someone?  Or do I just want to keep trying to be so good in and of myself that I need nothing and trust no one?  What would it feel like to want what my soul already knows it wants, but my heart and mind so quickly forget?  What would it feel like to have that one giant desire completely, utterly, absolutely, eternally fulfilled? 

I don't know, but I want to find out.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Weekend Project

This weekend I've been a school project widow.  So, do you think I used all that alone time to sew?  Nope.  But this is from a few weekends ago, so hopefully it still counts.  A pattern I remade from a 1970's swim trunk pattern.  I think they're the comfiest pair I own!  (Sleep shorts, not swim trunks).

In other news, I soooo don't want to go back to work tomorrow.  Is anyone with me on this?  Be thankful, E, be thankful.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Play It Loud Friday

The post in which I confess to you what I listened to on my Friday evening commute and conjure up a funny story from the week that was.

Today I got to leave work early, so I wasn't feeling as much of a need to blast some Friday freedom music on my drive home...And besides, Mac switched me cars and his a/c is still broken so riding home on the expressway with the windows rolled down was a little bit music-prohibitive.  So instead...I present to you last night's Play It Loud, wherein we stayed up past our bedtime (okay my bedtime) to hear a friend's song being played on a show we'd never seen.  It was way worth it.  Here's the song... 

I've included another song below because this guy's really good and the video has some footage of Austin which will no doubt look a little familiar (in the opening shots anyway) if you've ever come to visit me!  South Congress feels like home...the part of home that makes me feel a little anxious, but home nonetheless.  Anyway, on with the music!

Impressed?  Then get yourself some free songs!  And one more thing, this made me laugh.

You are going to need that laugh up there, because the only 'funny' story I can think of from this week was getting up the nerve to go to a consignment clothing store, only to have almost all my clothing rejected as not the 'teen style' they were looking for.  I...guess...that's...a compliment? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oh, Texass

When my mom was helping Mac and me pack all our belongings to move to Austin, she couldn't resist labeling some of the boxes as Texass bound.  She didn't want us to leave Montana.

With my pollen-swollen head and a flea infested work place, I have been feeling rather deep in the heart of Texass lately.  Once upon a time, I used to console my homesick self with the fact that at least we don't have forest fires here...but apparently, sadly, we do.

Well, it's still a great place to be (we have great friends who make it so!), and I know I have a ton to be thankful for, so here's a start...

Today I am thankful for...
1.  the most rested state I have felt in a while (due to...)
2.  a day off (kind of) to clean my house...even if the price to pay was a couple hundred flea bites.
3.  the fact that no one was injured in last week's fire.
4.  a whole day to spend with sweet Miss Maya Juniper--she was so lovey today.

5.  a crock pot meal (if you try this recipe, you can ask me for the tweaks)

Yesterday didn't feel much like Easter in a lot of ways, but I am thankful that even when you take traditions and family gatherings and whatever all else away (cough Robin's Eggs cough), it still means all of life to me.  He is risen indeed.  

For fun, here's a little Easter video where Mac's backside (oh, and our church too) made the news.  Can you find him? 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gratitude Project

This morning was rough.  As in tuff.  I was so exhausted that I fell asleep drinking my coffee and spilled it down my arm and couch.  I felt like crying thinking of spending another 40 hours on my heinie doing things I largely don't understand that don't really stir my heart.  A good day for some gratitude, don't you think? 

Today I am thankful for...
1.  A boss I truly like and his wife who definitely ups my laughter quotient every time I get to hang out with her.
2.  The cookie that somebody dropped off at work that I didn't mean to eat.  Oh well.
3.  Coffee, oh coffee.  Even when you spill on my arm and couch.
4.  Quiet time and the One who waits to meet me there.
5.  The big risks my sweet husband and I took to get to each other and...
The decision we made 2 years ago today to love each other for the rest of our lives.  It's our anniversary!  I'm not good at decisions but I made a good one that day.

Sadly, our wedding photos didn't transfer to my new computer, so you'll have to suffer through this mushy one from the day we were engaged.  Kissing photos (of people you know) are always so awkward, right?

Because I think my husband deserves 5 all his own...

Today I am extra thankful for...
1.  The way we can be sitting silently in front of the tv and suddenly burst out laughing at the same dumb thing (i.e. "Hi, my name's Henry Winkler.")
2.  My husband who still holds my hand and wraps his arm around me when we walk.
3.  What turned out to be a grreat anniversary day--with a dog walk, my favorite!
4.  My husband's singing:  in earnest, in jest, in shower, no matter
5.  I will save this one for a post later this week!

Same day, slightly less sappy/mushy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Play It Loud Friday

The post in which I confess to you what I listened to on my Friday evening commute and conjure up a funny story from the week that was.

Today I had my blood drawn by a man that nicknamed me dimples.  He also asked me what kind of steroids I was on because he had seen body builders with smaller veins than mine.  He cautioned me never to fall and cut myself on that 'water hose' because I would bleed for weeks.  All of this he said while I clenched tightly to a nerf ball.  Not that you need it...but it's procedure.  Before I could even feel a needle, he had collected my blood and stopped up my wound with a cotton ball and a strip of masking tape.  You can let go now, he said to my hand, still clutching the ball.  Something tells me somebody doesn't like needlesSee you later, dimples.

I love people who are good at what they do.  I think this might be a recurring theme here.  Don't worry, New Order will not be.  I don't even know what that song is about, but from now on whenever I hear it (which isn't often), I'm just going to think of a woman in a litter box. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gratitude Project

 Sunday evenings and Monday mornings just might be the hardest. keeping with this post, I'm starting a new project:

today I am thankful for...
1)  birds that sing
2)  my friend Charlie who looks like Gregory Peck and teaches me about mockingbirds
3)  my husband's hugs
4)  friends to talk with
5)  a soft bed to sleep (or in the case of last night, lay awake) in

And because it's a special extra one!
6)  My Dad!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Deep Thoughts (#2)

When your next step looks like a step's difficult to know if it's the right one.

(Deep Thoughts #1...ish)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Week

We have been celebrating peanut butter week at our house, in honor of Mac's birthday. I always appreciate it when other people try a recipe and tell me how it turned out, so I thought I'd share these, both from Epicurious. I usually don't stray much from recipes, but I made a few changes on both of these and was pretty pleased with the results.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal M&M Cookies

First of all, if you have known me for a while, you will know that I have long been obsessed with the peanut butter oatmeal m&m cookies at Food for Thought in Missoula, Montana. They used to have a location called Second Thought over by my apartment and when I was in college, there were weeks when I would stop by every day on my walk home and pay $1.25 for a cookie the size of my face...which might explain the freshman 15...30...40. Anyway, I am happy to tell you that 1) I don't do that anymore (for one thing that location closed, and for another I moved, and for still another I, believe it or not, have healthier eating habits than I did back then)... and 2) This recipe is the closest thing I've ever found to my original obsession.

 Ingredients for my version
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (pretty sure I've used dark)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12-ounce bag m&m's
In a food processor (or blender with a sharp blade!) pulse 1 cup of the oats until ground fine. In a large bowl stir together ground oats, remaining 1/2 cup whole oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy and beat in vanilla and peanut butter. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and gradually beat in flour mixture. Add m&m's, stirring just until combined. Chill cookie dough, covered, at least 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 325°F.  Bake on ungreased baking sheets about 15 minutes, or until just pale golden. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes and transfer to racks to cool completely.  Enjoy!

Comments:  This recipe is really pretty perfect as is, but because I'm on a mission to duplicate the ones from my hometown...I'm going to keep playing with the proportions.  Perhaps increase the pb a bit and decrease the butter.  I also think I might try not grinding up the oats, but leaving them all whole.  I'll let you know if I stumble upon something magical (and please do the same)!

Next up, Peanut Butter Cake

Actually, on Epicurious, this is Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, but lots of reviewers said the chocolate, peanut butter and cream cheese frosting combo was a bit much, and anyway, Mac's not a huge chocolate fan unless it's Reese's (which you'll notice I substituted for the Butterfingers the recipe calls for).  So...I kind of changed this one a lot.  Instead of the chocolate filling which requires you to start one day ahead (I had about 4 hours), I made my own peanut butter cream cheese filling (which I kind of wish I would've used for the top and sides of the cake too, because it was yummy!).  Here goes...

Ingredients for my version

  • 2 1/4-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar (they suggest light; I used some light, some dark)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 packages cream cheese (8 oz), room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter (for filling; if you want to try it for all the frosting, use more!)
Cake. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. In large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter and peanut butter until blended. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. At low speed, beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions. Divide batter among pans and spread evenly. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. (Mine was longer because I used an extra deep pan and cut the layers later...not recommended for this recipe). Cool cakes 5 minutes. Turn out onto racks; peel off parchment. Cool cakes completely.

Frosting and Filling. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. I honestly don't know if I used that much powdered sugar, I just kept adding it til it tasted right and seemed the right texture. Set aside enough frosting for the top and sides, and leave about 3/4 cup for the filling. Stir in 1/4 cup peanut butter and powdered sugar to taste.  I chilled both frosting and filling until cakes were cooled and ready, but if you had made the cakes ahead of time and they were already cool, I don't think you'd need to. Frost layers, chop up a few Reese's peanut butter cups for the top, and have a birthday party!

Comments:  My cake sunk in the middle, A LOT.  That's why you might notice some piecing together at the bottom center of that slice of cake.  Other than that, though, the layers of this cake held together (and are still holding!) very nicely.  I think the sinking might have had to do with my gigantically deep pan, and the rest of the cake cooking before the center had finished.  In order to get the center cooked all the way, I ended up overbaking, so beware of that.  Even with a little overbaked-ness, it was still pretty darn good!  As far as the cream cheese frosting, I don't know if I liked this one as much as others I've made, so if you have a favorite cream cheese frosting recipe already, I'd use that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To My Best Friend

Family portrait

Happy Birthday, Mac.  I love lots of things about you, and my list is always growing.  I love that you're my best friend.  I love that you can wear pearl snap shirts without looking like you're trying too hard.  I love that you're not afraid to love country music and your dog.  I love that for as long as I've known you (9 years less than the 33 years that you are today), I have never been able to put a label on you.  In 5th grade, when the cool kids discovered your humor, I thought for sure you'd get swept away in a popularity wave (like I probably would have, given the chance).  But you didn't really change.  You've always been you.  You could be friends with everybody then, and you can be friends with anybody now.  I love that you are full of surprises, like the time you first opened your mouth to sing.  I love that when I am feeling down or lonely, I can listen to songs you sang only for me.

I love that tomorrow, God willing, I get to wake up beside you for one more day, one more year of a lifetime of years...and discover again all the things I love.  You. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rotting Blog Posts

I posted a few stale blog posts below.  They won't make much sense if you think I wrote them today, but if I tell you I wrote them November and January respectively, perhaps they will?  Or perhaps not.  It just felt kind of nice to publish something!  And hey, I finally have a computer so I am type-type-publish-happy, hooray!

My Optimist Suit

I know that this is the time of year when most people have their cleanest, freshest, least wrinkly, best smelling, Optimist suits on...and you probably know that I have not yet been so fortunate as to find such a suit in all my 2nd-handling (I don't know if that term perhaps we should stick to thrifting)...but here is what helps me tolerate...maybe even feel excited about...the thought of the new year to come.  I can't predict it.

Seriously, this gives me great hope.

Before the new year even thought about starting, I had let myself start to dread it.  I thought I had it all figured out.  Work.  A good job, but one I don't feel made for.  When yesterday-Monday woke up, I laid in bed thinking about how much I was not going to enjoy myself.  Anymore.  This year.  Maybe next.  A thought bubble appeared above my head (not my own, I'm convinced):  "Erin, you think too much".  And it slowly began to hit me (as slow as hits can ever be, anyway).  I DO think too much.  I think so much I practically look for things to dread and fear and every possible reason why I should.  (Somewhere in the world, a Hallelujah chorus bubble is hovering above Mac's head).

Anyway, I'm rambling, but I guess what I'm trying to say is...I thought I could predict so much about my life, and I sort of dismissed a large portion of it before it even had a chance to happen.  But looking back, I see that the most wonderful things in my life were things I could never have predicted.  The husband I met in 4th grade.  The dog whose freckly mugshot we couldn't resist on a shelter website.  The friends who showed up on Montana's doorstep and the friends whose doorsteps I showed up on in Texas.  Sudden back to back sister/mom visits in December when I couldn't have needed it more.  All of it, too much for my fairly imaginative brain to invent sometimes, much less predict.

I'm not blind to the fact that some of the very worst things in life are also the things we couldn't predict.  The tragedies that blindside us.  An avalanche, a diagnosis, a disappearance, a breakdown...a loss.  For a long time I felt like I worked in the vortex of blindsiding tragedies.  My job was opening the door to the shelter in everyone else's storms, and you would think it would be depressing, but I've never been in a more hopeful place.  I watched friendships sprout like rogue wild berries growing in thickets of knapweed (or whatever other plant villain you can think of).  I would never go so far as to say the tragedies were beautiful, because they weren't.  They were ugly would-be thieves.  I would say that almost always something unexpectedly lovely came out of them, though.  Mostly the loveliness was

Anyway, I remind myself that I need to rest and rejoice in the fact that I cannot see the days of my life unfolding before they do...and that I have no right to dread them.  If I can just scratch the surface of the expected and let what's barely hidden beneath surprise me somehow each day, I think this might just be a year to look forward to.

A Reason for My Silence

Do you ever just come to the realization that the life you're living is not the life you want to live?  Does it force you to stop and make changes?  If so, will you impart your wisdom to me?  Because often I tend to despair.

To be clear, it is work that has me feeling so down.  I do you live a life you want to live when the money must keep coming in?  How do you make a change when jobs are so hard to find and this is so not the time to be jumping ship?

I have a feeling that possibly the answer might lie in a change of heart...a change of attitude.  I also have a feeling that those things are deeply connected to (1) being thankful for what you have and (2) giving of whatever you have to someone who doesn't...whether it's time, energy, money, encouragement, knowledge, laughter, service, whatever.  Each of us has something that someone else does not.

This seems as good as any a place and time (and month!) to insert a (sure-to-be-ever-expanding) list of things I'm grateful for.  My dad used to always say to a chorus of eye-rolls (we were teens, what can I say?)..."You've got to get an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE"  (So here's to you, Dad.)
  • I am thankful for my family--for the parents who raised me and the sisters I have always looked up to (and not just because they have at all times been 1/3 - 4 feet taller than me).  I am thankful that the family I grew up with--sisters, cousins, etc. are so darn silly, brilliant and creative.
  • I am thankful for my husband who has always seen something in me that I can't, and who believes that whatever that is (me, I guess!) is worth fighting for. 
  • I am thankful--so thankful--that God is bigger than me...and yet even though my problems are minuscule in comparison, they are somehow strangely still important to Him.  (This must be love.) 
  • I am thankful for Miss Maya Joon who makes us laugh hard, play outside, and make new friends every day...and who always welcomes us home with hugs and kisses no matter what kind of mood she's in. 
  • I am thankful that cooler weather comes, even to Texas...and along with it come fat twists of wooly yarn, chai tea, toasty boots and scarves, Crock Pot dinners (with any luck), holiday traditions, Christmas lights, Jesus' birthday and a chance to start it all again. 
  • I am thankful for the journey and all the people God's given me to share it with.  Honestly, I need to think of it more because when I takes my breath away.  I am also thankful simply because it is a journey and at any given moment, I don't have to have 'arrived'.  Eternity has already begun as God loves me in this crazy process.
More to come.  Thanks to you who indulge me and my thoughts!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hello, 2011

I read this Audrey Hepburn quote the other day while browsing the bargain books at B&N (because you know I can't resist picking up an Audrey book):  "Success is like reaching an important birthday and finding you're exactly the same."

I guess that's kind of how I feel about New Year's Eve/Day.  Every year I think it will be different, and every year I'm disappointed because really...I'm not that different.  Oh sure, things change...I change...but in the end, I'm only getting closer to who I was in the beginning anyway.  Isn't that kind of what growing older is?  In your teens and twenties, you try so hard to outrun yourself...your childhood, your growing up, your big lump of a past...and then in your thirties you start trying to get back.  Or maybe it's just me.

Anywho, I realized that I haven't been blogging because I wanted to be this forever-ly over the moon, adventurous newlywed with wit, stories, or at the very least nice pictures to share.  I haven't been able to admit to myself, much less to other people, how much it all aches sometimes (and by "all", I pretty much mean life). 

I feel so stupid saying this because I know very well how fortunate and blessed I am, but you form of outrunning myself all my life has been holding things in, maintaining an illusion, shutting out life/people/emotions and building up walls.  So when I put it that way...maybe it's better just to say what feels stupid.  Besides that, I find I am always touched--even encouraged--when people admit that they struggle too.  Even (and perhaps especially) when everything looks so rosy from the outside (good job, brand new baby/marriage/adventure...)  I guess it's a sigh of relief to know it's not just me.

Happy 2011, everyone.  Here's to shedding a few more layers and loving each other in all our different phases.