Friday, January 24, 2014

Let's Play a Little Game

"This is a Facebook game to see who reads and who just scrolls."
Okay, stop right there.  So...what you're saying is that your post is just a game to test the bounds of our friendship?  My initial reaction is...disgust.  Then a sort of wow-it's-not-worth-it.  And finally wondering if it's PMS or I really should be as annoyed by this post that is making the rounds these days as I currently feel.  I mean, wasn't I just saying how being positive always works out better?

The story here is that one of my Facebook friends, whom I have known since elementary school, posted something that is actually easily summarized in this one paragraph that she wrote:

"We will see who will take the time to read this message until the end. If you appreciate your friends from all over the world, go ahead and copy this into your status too, even if it's just for a minute. I'm going to be watching to see who takes care of the friendship, just like me."  ~Unnamed Facebook Pal

Anyone who's been reading this blog during January knows how I feel about social media and all the things that can and do go wrong on it.  While I still partake, I am becoming increasingly aware of how unhealthy some people's attachment to the forum is.

On occasion, the aimless negativity has gotten so bad that Meg is thinking of throwing in the FB towel, as it were, for good:
"We need a new social media platform.  It seems like every 5 years or so they just get really stale and are over run by....I'm not sure what...people that have no life?  It's like what once was fun and just routine.  The whole point of social media for me is to share and interact creatively.  I do real friendships and routine my life.  Not online."
I'm with Meg.  I'm not willing to be taken emotionally hostage by someone who hasn't been in my life physically for over twenty years.  There won't be any unfriending, but I'm also not responding to that post.  Not at all.  Referring to it as a game, followed by the assumption that it will prove one way or another if I'm a good friend didn't really help.  Of course, this wasn't a personal attack on me.  I'm just offended for everyone who has a message like that on their wall.  

Here is what I know of friendship.  I no longer live where I grew up, so I often go long periods without seeing most of my longtime close friends.  But when we do manage to catch up with each other, whether it's in person, by phone or thanks to Skype or FaceTime, it's like nothing changed.  The trust and love are still there.  I don't ask for them to prove anything to me, I know they're my friends.  I'm not bummed if they don't read my blog or post to my Facebook page.  Sure, it'd be nice, but they have lives that they're living and I don't feel that I get to make those kinds of demands of them.  Furthermore, I'm grateful that they don't make them of me.  

We are adults.  We are all living very different lives.  And we are secure in our friendships.  I am so thankful for them.  When one of my friends calls me out of the blue because they need something and they start apologizing for being out of touch, I always tell them that we're friends, we don't have to be living in each other's armpits to prove it.    

Maybe you have a different perspective on this and can shed some light.  I think Meg and I are both open to having a better understanding of this behavior.

Now here's an idea

Traveling with a netbook or even worse a heavy laptop computer when you're going to another country just does not sound appealing to me.  What I had not considered until about two minutes ago is that I can just use the option on my iPhone to speak into it instead of typing.  So when I go to Italy in April for my brothers wedding and to spend time with my mother I think that this is the best way to do things.  I won't have to use my mother's computer, as it is the only one in the house, it won't take me very long to write everything, and though I will have to edit - it won't be very much.  So this is my test run.   There won't be any fun pictures of course in this case - I'll have to figure out how I'm going to do that later - but I think this is going to work pretty damn well.

Now let's see if I can figure out how to post this sucker.

Ooo, here's how to post a picture!

Online notes:  

I don't know what happened with the fonts up there, but it's not the end of the world.  

What I was trying to say, but am a little foggy-headed right now, is that using an iOS device's ability to convert talk to text will mean I can just bring my iPhone - no computer needed.  Since I only have two weeks in Italy this April, I want to limit what I'm bringing with me.  And since I'm attending a wedding, I'll be losing some space to things I'll only wear the once while there (heels, foundation garments, a dress).

I'm going to create a new board for LostGirls on Pinterest for travel tips and such.  If you have anything to share along those lines, it would be much appreciated.  While I have been to Italy twice (Mary lives there, so I always have a place to stay), I am a bit of a nervous traveler when I'm going overseas.

We bought the tickets today, which has just made it real for me and now I'm freaking out because I'm so damn excited.  

Also, the apps for learning Italian that are designed for kids are perfect for me.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I have been trying to get creative with my living space - finding new ways to use what I already have, since I really can't afford to go to IKEA or The Container Store every week.  Nor should I be doing that, but it's been a hard habit to break.  However, I have discovered two things.  First, that all that pinning on Pinterest actually does serve a purpose, just like I hoped it someday would.  Second, that my own spin on the things I add there seem to work better for me.  I am really not good at following instructions, you guys.

So here is an idea I had that came from one pin, but inspired me to take things a step further.  This Apartment Therapy pin (which can be found on our Things to Consider board) features a bit on putting sheet metal at the back of your bathroom cabinet so that you can put magnets up and organize certain items.  I had quite a few Cube Mighties that I wasn't doing anything special with and those suckers are strong!  So I put a couple in my already metal-tastic medicine cabinet and stuck tweezers and a small pair of scissors in there.  They're slim enough that they don't interfere with the contents of the cabinet and it's way better than hunting for them on the top shelf or in a drawer.

Then I remembered that I once used dry-erase markers to leave myself reminders on my bathroom mirror.  I decided to reinstate that fabulous idea (below left) and put up a couple of inspirational quotes in the cabinet.  Since this is a rough month for thinking positive, I also noted upcoming plans with friends to remind myself of things to look forward to in the short-term.

All this took was a cheap pack of dry erase markers that already had magnets attached (though you could easily glue on your own).  The ones pictured above were picked up at Target and I love that they're mini markers that hang from little chains with magnets on the end.  But the ones that Amazon offers (to the right) are even fancier - they are double-sided, so you get more color variety while saving space, they have erasers on every cap, and they still come with magnets if you don't want to buy those separately and stick 'em on.

Aside how horrible that picture turned out and how much it reminds me that I need to clean my bathroom, I'm a bit proud of myself.  The point is that, aside from actually using some of the pins you spend all that time organizing on Pinterest, let them inspire you to look around and see what pin-worthy ideas you have rockin' about inside your brain.  If you like Pinterest as much as I do, you've probably got a fair few just waiting for discovery.

Monday, January 20, 2014


There is a fine line between trying to make a better life for yourself and wasting the life you have by wishing for something else.  Bemoaning your circumstances may be an occasional inevitability, but if you are spending time every week wishing and hoping and dreaming, but never doing, then chances are you will never get any of what you want.  Or, even worse, when it finally falls into your lap in some shape, you won't have any appreciation for it.  There's a good chance it still won't make you happy.  Everything we strive for requires effort.  And more than just a little.

I have a good friend who, by living his life the way he does, has managed to inadvertently teach me how not to live mine.  It's a bit of a sad thing, really.  I wish him all the best.  What I'm really wishing for him is that he will someday appreciate where he is in his life.  He is one of those people who is constantly in a grass-is-greener mode.  He has convinced himself that what he has for a life isn't nearly good enough.  And he is always looking for the next best thing.  He is impatient for things to fall into place, angry that they haven't, and too blinded by all that impatience and frustration to see what he has right in front of him.  He's even admitted that there's a chance that he'll just never be happy.

It isn't about looking at someone "less fortunate" and being grateful for the roof over your head (though that doesn't hurt).  After all, there are quite a few wealthy people who are utterly miserable.  I know a few myself and I am not remotely jealous of their lives.  I may barely make ends meet right now, but I'll be damned if I'm not happy anyway.  Even on the days when I am emotional and moody, seeing someone I like at work can wipe that right out of my head.  What amazes me more is that I have somehow found myself thinking, "Enough of this, do something productive and you'll get past it."  Crazy how well that works, but it works because I choose for it to work.  Sounds nutty, right?  I'm actually doing it right now.  And the moment I set my fingers on the keyboard, I knew I'd be okay.  I knew that the sadness that was starting to take a stab at me wouldn't be able to hold its ground. 
Some what-ifs are better
left to daydreams, of course.

Look, there is nothing wrong with wanting more out of your life.  There's nothing wrong with wanting a better life for yourself.  But there is something terribly wrong with not living the life you have with at least appreciation for all that you have worked for and all that you have been given.  As for all those dreams you have, what are you doing to make them happen?  Even if it's something small, it's still something.

So as I said before, everything in life requires effort.  And I'm okay with that, because when all of my hard work pays off in even the smallest way, that success is so much sweeter.  And the failures that come here and there, no longer seem insurmountable.  Scary, sometimes, yes.  But life is about constant change and change can frighten us if we allow it to.

Now I have a question, especially for my fellow NaBloPoMo-ers, since we do have a theme to go with this month.  Do you feel like the worst pressure on us is that which we put on ourselves?  I do wonder.

Talking is a hydrant in the yard and writing is a faucet upstairs in the house.  Opening the first takes the pressure off the second.  
                                                                                                ~Robert Frost

Saturday, January 18, 2014


If you ever want to see
how being kind to
someone can change
them, please read this.
I've written before about the kindness of strangers.  It is something I believe in and I try to practice myself.  I believe that, despite my occasional evil moments, it is better to live a kind life whenever possible.  Sure, I rant to myself on the freeway here, but I still let people in when they want to merge and love it when I get a wave in the rearview (merging does seem to be an issue in Seattle).  I am not just kind to people because I'm hoping it will come back around to me.  And I'm certainly not kind because I want to be some selfless heroine.  I believe those small acts of kindness on a daily basis add up to a better life for me.  And it's amazing that I might be making someone else's life better, or at least a little easier, as well.

Don't be grumbly, you guys.
But more than that, the small petty acts that occur on a daily basis are poison to the soul.  Not only do you run the risk of making other people feel bad about themselves, you are doubtlessly thinking less of you every time you do it.  Rave all you want about how you're such a badass and you don't care, but it is having an impact on you.  You may not see it now, hell you may not see it ever, but trust me - it is definitely there.  

I suppose there is a fine balance.  You can't give your all and receive nothing in return and you can't constantly be editing yourself for the sake of others.  You do have to keep your sanity, after all.  We all need moments to vent.  We all have bad days.  But I think that being unkind never really works out in our favor.  Being thoughtless doesn't help, either.  We live in a social media-heavy world.  Unfortunately, a lot of people on Twitter, Facebook, and the like seem to believe that there are no consequences to what they put out there.  

I had a friend tell me yesterday that it's his life, his Facebook page and it's no one else's business.  He's not entirely wrong.  But it is his choice to post something that he knows will hurt someone else.  And there are repercussions to hurting your friends, even if it seems silly for one to say that he or she was hurt by something on someone else's Facebook page (oh, the horror).  I don't mean this in a that's-a-punishable-offense kind of way.  The simple fact is that someone did get hurt and you did that.  You chose to put your need to show off/be right/prove something before someone else's need to just exist in a happy kind of peace.  You knew it would hurt, but you decided your petty needs were greater.  No one is ever happy at the end of that.
This is an Instant Debbie Downer
app for your phone...oh my god.

Mary told me about a friend of hers who "starts every other sentence with 'I hate' and fills her Facebook page with snark and generally unkind comments."  Unsurprisingly, it's to her own detriment more than anyone else's.  I can think of one good reason why - everyone else probably just doesn't read it.  And you can always block someone's posts without "unfriending" them.  That kind of negativity eats away at the user.  This is nothing new.

What you put out there does matter.  Maybe it doesn't matter to the general population.  Shoot, maybe it only matters to your mom.  But it's bound to matter to someone other than you.  So post your political opinions, your rants and raves about traffic or a bad experience at the grocery store, or show off your new love interest even though you know the old one is on your friends list and still hurting.  But don't for one moment think that it's not going to effect anyone but you.  Furthermore, understand that most of the time, it is going to come back to you.  And you may not like the results.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Different Kind of Food Challenge

One of the challenges I face every so often, because of all my moving around, is finding certain items I could find easily in some other place that I lived.  For example, buying salsa in California was never much of a challenge.  However, in Washington State people seem to love sweet and fruity salsas.  I may not go for the really spicy stuff, but I do not want peach or mango or sweetness at all in my salsa.  The worst part is that I keep forgetting that I can't just pick up a new salsa to try and trust that it won't be fruit-flavored.  Even if it doesn't say on the packaging that it's sweet, it usually is.

The biggest challenge when it comes to finding food that I've enjoyed can mostly be blamed on my time at Whole Foods Market in California.  As an administrative assistant, way back when, Way back when, I took care of all the vendor samples that came in.  And while it is fantastic to see that brands like Sukhi's Gourmet Indian Food and Laura's Wholesome Junk Food are doing so well, there are some things I fell in love with but could never find again.

I thought of two of those items today and decided to at least try to find them online.  The first was an apple-basil jelly that was divine on buttered toast.  All I could remember was that there were three women on the label.  I tried "Three Sisters," "apple basil butter" and "apple basil jam."  The simple search for "apple basil jelly" finally led me to The Prairie Gypsies.  And here is why you have to do the searching yourself - I recognized the shape of the jar and color of the label immediately.  I'd hate to spend $7 plus shipping on a jar of this stuff, but now that I know it's out there, for some reason I feel better.  Maybe someday I'll get some kind of bonus check on splurge on a few jars of it.

My second search was not quite as successful.  I think the brand may have been Don was definitely Don-something.  The product was semi-sundried tomatoes in oil.  The semi part is very important here - these tasted like no other dried tomatoes I'd ever had.  A slight sweetness and just a bit juicy.  My mom and I drooled over these, and finished off a jar together, many years ago.  I did find something close at ItalFoods, pomodorracio semi sundried tomato strips in oil.  Dean and Deluca has a similar product, though I'm not willing to spend $19 on a jar (not surprising for D and D, of course), and theirs are a specific variety of tomatoes I've never heard of.  Who knows, they could be better, but then I'd be addicted to something I really can't afford, so it's best not to look twice.

Still, this has me thinking about favorite things from long ago that I could easily find again with just a bit of online research.  Finding them in a local store (so I don't have to pay shipping) would be even better, but you have to start with the basics.  Knowing the correct name of the brand is definitely required.

So what about you?  Do you have any long-lost food loves that you fear may not be around anymore?  Or any that you know were discontinued?  If you haven't already checked, there is a site called Hometown Favorites that has a long list of disco'ed items on it.  In fact, my favorite marinara sauce (by Progresso) is on that list.  It's a good thing I know how to make my own now, lest my heart be permanently broken.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Landmarks and Lostness

I have finally admitted to myself that I have lived in too many places in too short a time.  I know this is a problem because as I'm learning new routes to and from various places (avoiding the freeway because of all the traffic), I try to remember landmarks and such...and I've started getting the Seattle area confused with all the other places I've lived.  And let me note here that none of these places look a damn thing alike.

It goes something like this (in my head):

If I turn left at that stoplight, it'll take me by the Lucky...   
No, wait, that's in Oakland (California).


Okay, if I turn right here, I'll end up on the freeway..., wait, that was in Sterling (Virginia).

Sometimes it's really disappointing when I realize that I place I thought I'd go to on my day off doesn't exist in the state I currently live in - as much as I didn't love everything that California, North Carolina and the DC Metro Area had to offer.  Wherever you spend a lot of time, you're bound to find things that you won't even realize you're going to miss until you've left.

I do think that the hardest part is the simple confusion of trying to learn a place and having to get rid of all those old maps.  The ones that you created in your head, in order to get around those other places.

I've always done better with directions that list landmarks and I've realized this is now my downfall.  

I knew where to turn to get to my job in DC when I saw my friend Stacey's apartment building.  

I knew two ways to get home in North Carolina: the Food Lion way, and the WalMart way. 

And as much as I grew up in California (and therefore shouldn't have to worry about erasing those old maps, because they're so completely ingrained), my last visit to Oakland has been coming to mind way too much because the city had changed a lot when I finally returned to it.  I made a huge a effort to figure out where I was during my last visit, based on old landmarks (Lake Merritt, Arizmendi, Geo Kaye's, IKEA), while noting new ones (Blue Bottle Coffee, Portal, Bar Three Fifty-Five).  And damn me all to hell for that -  I'm even more confused now that I'm back in Seattle.  It's even worse when it gets dark - which is one thing that Washington state and Virginia have in common - very little in the way of street lights.  Why would is such a dark, rainy place almost devoid of street lamps to light our way?!  

I still love it here.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Every Other Day, Every Other Stitch

Evidently that's the best I can do this month - write every other day.  Still better many previous months?

Let's move on, shall we?

As I mentioned before, the lovely Mary bought me a knitting class (on Craftsy) and all that I would need in order to make it happen.  This interchangeable set of circular knitting needles from Knit Picks was perfect.  Unfortunately, I accidentally broke one of the wooden Harmony needles and the all-metal ones just - they just wanna go fast.  You know how some cars just wanna go fast?  Well, turns out that some knitting needles do, too.  If you're an expert knitter and you want to just crank out the craftiness, metal needles are where it's at.  However, if you're a beginner and you have issues with your yarn tension, metal needles are going to drive you insane.

So I asked Mary what kind of needles I can get that will allow me to take it slow and not drop every other stitch.  The answer is anything made of wood, which is great because they tend not to be too pricey.  Even better, are these Knitter's Pride Cubics.  Mary had mentioned to check them out because some people claim they're easier for beginners and help with wonky tension.  The woman at The Knittery in Renton, WA, said that it's mostly personal preference, but she has heard that they make your stitches more even.  Since I need something with a little bit of control, the Cubics
are for me.  I may never graduate to anything else, to be honest.

Now that I've actually knit with the Cubics, I can say it's going to be a hard decision (somewhere down the road) when I have to choose between a set of interchangeable Cubics and the Knit Picks ones in Harmony that I fell in love with originally (I blame Mary, of course).  

In other news, I have discovered a den of craftiness not far from where I live and I am afraid of it.  One look at the Maker's Mercantile site made me realize that I simply can't afford to ever. go. near it.  ...Ever.  Its cuteness might just kill me.  All those damn sheep.  And awesome buttons.  And they have social gatherings for crafty peeps.  And coffee.  It is a self-described "destination craft shop," for god's sake.  ...I'm totally doomed.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

In Honor of Procrastination

In honor of not doing things in a timely manner, I'm using yesterday's writing prompt for today's post.  Since I didn't post at all yesterday, it's even better.

Friday, January 3, 2014
Do you have a tendency to procrastinate, or do you like checking things off your to-do list?

I go back and forth between sticking to my to-do lists and feeling excellent about getting lots of stuff done AND procrastinating on whole lists of things because I just don't wanna.  Sometimes it's just one thing.  For example, it took me several days to actually start my first knitting project.  I had to force myself to pick up the needles and yarn, turn on the Craftsy video and really try.  I'm glad I did it, but I had to convince myself and boy did I find a ton of things to do to avoid it.

The funny thing about procrastination is that you always know, going into it, that you're just making your life more difficult.  And yet, so many of us keep doing it anyway.

That said, I still have to vacuum.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I Just Want to Sleep Now

I've been reading about writing/reading challenges on BlogHer and have come across some really great ideas to get 2014 started.  I will probably do a mix of them, but wanted to share some of the ones that really appealed to me, just in case someone else stumbles upon this and it turns out to be just what they need.

A Month of Letters:  There's no way I can take time off from the internet anytime soon, though it's not like I'm on it that much lately.  Just the same, the idea of writing and sending something in the mail every day is lovely.  I don't have a ton of friends who will actually write back, but there are a few who have sent me letters and cards this past year and I have been really slow to reply.  So even though I'm not going to do this process the way it's posted, it serves as a great reminder that when I don't know what to write on my blog, writing a letter to a friend is always a good option to keep creativity flowing.

Family History Writing Challenge:  I have been researching my family history for quite a while, but it's been on and off.  I have a back log of unedited stories and notes from both of my parents about their families.  I would love to delve into my ancestry further, but just getting the stories of the people who are still alive has been really challenging and that's actually what I want to start with.  So, again, I'm not going to participate in this challenge, but (again) it reminded me that I have that project to work on.  And it got me to take advantage of a free trial period at, so that worked out nicely to get my family tree started and figure out which gaps I need to fill first.

The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge:  My obsession with Gilmore Girls will never really end.  That said, Rory read a lot of books that I have no desire to read, but probably should read anyway.  This does not make me actually want to read them...  I'm far more interested in the fact that there are a bunch of great reading challenges on here.  The two I'm looking at are 101 Bestselling Books of All Time (I've only read 26 of them) and BBC's The Big Read (I've read 30 of them).  ...Maybe I should use one of these to start a book club on MeetUp...  

Too many things!

What I'm getting at is that if you're feeling out of sorts, directionless, have writer's block, what-have-you - there are a lot of great ideas out there to help get you moving again.  Just don't do what I did and overload on ideas without getting any additional writing done!