Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I had a pretty (ok, really) low-key celebration this year. I wore my Halloween socks and passed out candy. (Mom, I wasn't wearing my new Hello Kitty Halloween socks because it was cold today, and they're ankle socks, but I definitely love them!) We had a good number of trick-or-treaters, but they were mostly older kids, so I didn't get to see any really cute costumes. I just have to enjoy the adorable pictures of my friends' kids on Facebook.

On Tuesday, I brought candy corn for my class. I thought it would be fun for the students to enjoy a traditional American treat. Now, most international students think American foods are way too sweet (even ones we don't consider that sweet, like muffins), so I warned the students before I passed it out that candy corn is super sweet. You should have seen the way they were gingerly holding the candy corn and trying to smell it before they tried it. It's exactly the same way I am when they hand me dried seaweed or cakes filled with red bean paste. It's funny how accustomed we are to our own tastes. Some of them liked the candy corn, but most couldn't handle the sweetness. Oh well. More for me. :)

Darby's mom sent us an awesome Halloween puzzle a few weeks ago. We worked it the day we got it, but I thought it was appropriate to share the picture today. We are such nerds.

Hope you all had a happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

This justifies all of the time I've wasted on Pinterest

I've tried many things that I've pinned on Pinterest, and most of them have been at least moderately successful. But, the pin I tried tonight has literally changed my life. Someone had suggested using a KitchenAid mixer to shred cooked chicken. I was skeptical, but I decided to try it, because shredding chicken is the bane of my existence. It worked wonderfully. I can't even describe to you how happy this makes me. And I NEVER would have thought of that on my own. Now I'm just sad for all of the years I've spent shredding chicken by hand when my miracle-working mixer sat 2 feet away, just begging to be used. Just think of all of the hours wasted. Next time you need to shred chicken, try it. Just put the hot chicken in the bowl (I bake my chicken, but I'm sure boiled will work as well) and use the paddle attachment on low. After about 10-15 seconds, turn it up a little higher. I had to pick out a few larger chunks on my own, but overall it worked great.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What I'm loving right now

Aaahhh...this semester is flying by. All of the weeks pass by in a blur. In some ways, it's nice because I'm that much closer to Christmas, but I hate feeling like I'm barely hanging on.

So, in no particular order, here are some things that are keeping me sane:
  • Apple cider from Curtis Orchard. This stuff from a local orchard is crazy expensive but so worth it. I've tried other brands of cider, and they just don't compare. 
  • Pumpkin spice Hershey's Kisses. I hadn't tried these before this year, and they're really good. I think they're one of those things you either love or hate. I love.  
  • Parks and Recreation. Darby and I just started watching this show on Netflix. It reminds me a lot of The Office (in the days when The Office was actually funny). We also started watching Breaking Bad, but that show stresses me out. 
  • Pumpkin baked goods (all of them). I've made pumpkin scones, pumpkin chocolate chip bread, pumpkin cream cheese bars, and pumpkin gingersnaps, most of which I've eaten by myself. So much pumpkin to consume, so little time. 
  • My fleece pants and fuzzy socks. It has recently gotten cold (boo), but I do love being able to wear my fleece pants. They are the most comfortable things I have ever worn. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


As I've mentioned several times before, I try to keep this blog relatively upbeat. I want to be honest, but I also think it can be a little dangerous to share negative emotions online. When I'm angry or sad, I tend to exaggerate. I don't want that stuff to be out there forever. But, sometimes there are things that are too much a part of my life not to share. (Note: I try hard to never share anyone else's bad news, even if it affects me. I think it's up to each person what they want to share.)

So, now that the huge disclaimer is through, I can get on to the point of this post. Darby and I decided about a week ago to stop attending the church we've been going to for the past 4 years. I won't go into all the reasons for our decision, but, of course, I'm fine with talking about it privately.

It was not an easy decision, and I knew there would be challenges, but I've been surprised at just how sad I've been. In a way, I think it's a lot like a break-up. I know it was a good decision but it doesn't mean I don't miss it. We have so many friends there. Of course, we'll still spend time with the people we were close to, but it's not the same as having a guaranteed time to see them several times a week. And it feels so weird to not be there at our usual times --- Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night . . . not to mention the many weekend activities.

Of course, we're planning to visit other churches, but Darby's out of town this week, and I just couldn't make myself go alone. And there's part of me that thinks: Am I ready to commit again? If I'm being really honest, I'll just say that I am so tired. I know being a part of a faith community is important, and it's not supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows. But, I am drained. Any advice from those of you who have been through this? How did you start over?

Friday, October 12, 2012

September Books

The Best Spiritual Writing 1999 edited by Philip Zaleski
I picked this up on a whim at the used bookstore several years ago and finally got around to reading it. I can't believe I waited so long. The short essays and poems on spirituality (in a broad sense) were beautiful. If you can get your hands on Andre Dubus III's essay entitled "Fences & Fields", please read it. It is one of the most touching depictions of fathering a daughter that I've ever read.

One More River by Mary Glickman
This was a sweeping, multi-generational story about a son's quest to find out the truth about his mysterious, ne'er-do-well  father. It talked a lot about the experience of Jews in the southern U.S. in the post-World War II era, which was interesting for me. It was a sad story, but very gripping.

Unchristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons
I had heard a lot about this book and borrowed it from my brother when I was home this summer. It's based on research done by the Barna group about outsiders' view of Christianity. Of course, the responses were pretty negative, which, sadly, does not surprise me. A major part of the book is spent convincing people that these perceptions are real, which didn't really apply to me. However, I appreciated the suggestions on what we need to do to change those perceptions --- basically judge less and love more, although the advice was a little more concrete than that. I don't agree with all of the author's conclusions, but it's definitely a worthwhile read.

The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life by Thomas M. Sterner
I love self-help books, especially ones about developing discipline. This one was kind of a disappointment, though. A lot of it was based on Taoist thought, which is interesting but just not my thing. Plus, the author's writing was somewhat disorganized. I did like some of the principles though, like focusing on process instead of product.

Three Willows by Ann Brashares
I absolutely loved The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, so I had to read this book by the same author. This is about a slightly younger set of friends, but is written in much the same style and with similar themes. So, of course, I loved it. Some of the characters from the original books make cameos, which was quite fun. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

She's got her love to keep her warm

This weekend, we made the 8-hour drive to Little Rock for Darby's cousin Molly's wedding. The wedding was at this beautiful little riverside chapel with outdoor seating for both the wedding and the reception. Unfortunately, a cold front blew in on the day of the wedding. It had rained steadily all day and was in the 40s. By the time of the wedding, the rain had (mostly) cleared up, but the ground was incredibly soggy and it was cold and windy. I was shivering in my sweater dress, tights, boots, and jacket. I felt so sorry for the bridesmaids in their little dresses and open-toe shoes. I don't know how they survived. It was still a beautiful wedding, though, and the bride didn't seem fazed by the weather at all. I guess others aren't as whiny as I am. :)

Molly and Darby. Doesn't she look gorgeous?

So, I practiced smiling in preparation for this picture, and I think it worked. My problem is that when I smile for real, my eyes get very squinty, which I hate in pictures. So, I have to ignore the advice to "smile naturally." I can't believe it's taken me 27 years to figure this out.