Random Saturdays – Recipoods

Normally, I follow instructions pretty well.  Not following instructions makes me nervous.  I don’t want to rock the boat unless I have to because I generally go through life trying not to be noticed.  When it comes to recipes, though, I have a very hard time following instructions.

The first time I use a cooking recipe, I try to follow it to a T.  Usually, I fail at this.  I don’t like onions, so I’ll compromise and use shallots because I like them better than regular onions.  I don’t have peanuts, so I’ll use pistachios.  I don’t have dill, so I leave it out entirely.  I want to try this Mediterranean recipe to go with Asian food, so I adjust all of the spices to make it Asian.  At that point, I don’t know why I even bother with the recipe, but it does make me feel safer using the recipe.  I get frustrated with myself when I screw up, but I don’t  follow the directions in the first place, so why should I care about mistakes?

With baking, everyone says to be very careful about following the directions because it’s a very delicate chemistry experiment.   I’m even worse at following directions with baking than I am with cooking.  I’ve done enough baking that I always think I know what I’m doing.  I usually do, too!  It’s just that I forget that if I do A, then I need to do B.  For example, I’ll try to healthy-up a cupcake recipe by substituting some whole wheat flour.  I’ll remember to increase the liquid to compensate for the extra absorbing whole wheat flour.  I’ll forget, though, that I have to use more liquids when substituting soymilk for wate.  I’ll also forget that I decided to use butter instead of oil, which means that I need to add more liquid for the whole recipe in general.  When my cupcakes come out dry, I immediately know what happened.  The next time I make cupcakes, I make the same durned mistakes all over again!

When I’m cooking or baking for myself, I give myself some leeway, but when I cook for others, these mistakes feel like a completely devastating failure.  I get so upset at myself for disappointing people and letting them down like an idiot just because I couldn’t follow a simple recipe.  For the most part, I’ve tempered my reactions when dealing with the results of a failed recipe.  I’ve learned that only ingrates will berate you for screwing up a recipe.  Most people are grateful that you even considered cooking something for them, much less from scratch.

As for the title of this blog post, there’s a short story.  Ben and I came home from getting groceries one night.  I mentioned something about having a special recipe for something.  I said, “I have a great recipood for that!”  At first, I didn’t think Ben caught it, but I started laughing immediately.  Then, he started asking me to tell him more about this “recipood”.  In my jacked up brain, I somehow combined “recipe” with “food” to come up with a word that sounds like…not…good…Even so, it’s funny.  For some good recipoods, visit Vegetableau, Cathy’s Tumblr!

Random Saturdays – Begin at The End

I’ve been a bit M.I.A. lately, at least as far as this blog is concerned.  Between crazy work stuff, being sick, being depressed, the holidays, Ben, ice storms, and get-togethers with friends that I don’t see often, everything else has been on the back burner.  Having said that, I did want to get at least one real post up before the end of the year.  My one-year blogging anniversary is December 21, 2013, so, I decided to do a sort of year in review post since I’m ending the year in a completely different place in life from where I started in January.

At the beginning of this year, I had a bunch of projects that I wanted to do.  I tried to plan things out and block off my time.  The only things I really did were keep up the blog and learn how to use Inkscape.  I also managed to get into a workout routine until I moved last summer and paid more attention to my daily habits — everything from calorie counting to how often I get headaches and migraines.  It didn’t really help me get healthier, but I did lose weight.

After I started dating Ben, I gained 7 lbs.  I had just started getting back into working out after my summer move, but that stopped, too.  I started slacking on the blog.  I fell behind on email.  I haven’t been reading books or magazines much, either.  I’ve been sick twice in the past two months and think that I’m getting sick again.  In general, it seems like dating Ben did away with the little bit of progress on my goals that I had made, but that’s not really true at all.

Even with tracking my health issues, I wasn’t able to make any improvements in my health before Ben.  Now, I’m paying more attention to how all of my health issues are tied together because they directly affect my emotional and mental well-being, which directly affects Ben and his kids.  Since it’s not just me, my cat, and the t.v., I have more motivation to do something about things that I know need improvement.

When you’re alone and you get sick, it’s easy to just wallow in your self-pity and give up on trying to improve anything.  When I feel like this around Ben and see how worried he gets about me, or when I have to hide from his kids in the bedroom because I don’t want them to see me depressed and get it into their young minds that being mean to yourself is a normal way to think and act, then it suddenly seems more important that I get my crap together.  Granted, I realize that I’ll have to struggle with depression my whole life.  I realize that I can’t change myself overnight.  I realize that when I get sick, things in my body will be thrown off and cause depression on a physiological level that I will just have to learn to handle.

However, I’m trying to be mindful of all of the small things that I still have control over when I’m sick and/or depressed.  When I’m sick, I’m trying to make more of an effort to shake myself out of depression because it directly affects my loved ones.  I’ve always known this, and it’s always been motivating, but Ben and his kids are motivation on a whole different level.  I had no idea that someone like Ben could even exist.  He is a nicer, smarter, better (but not funnier) version of me.  His kids are wonderful – fun, affectionate, smart, and always concerned about how much money I spend on gas and rent.  I don’t want to teach the kids how to hate themselves and I don’t want Ben to have to deal with me hating myself if it can be prevented.  So, even though my projects were all put on the back burner for the last three months of the year, it’s all been for the best.

Furthermore (<- smart word), I’m going to Paris with Cathy for Christmas and New Year’s, a trip that I planned before I started dating Ben.  Since my plane ticket and rental cost of the apartment in Paris are non-refundable, I’m going to suffer through missing Christmas with Ben and his kids and force myself to go to Paris with one of my best friends.  (I’m only half-joking.)  I tell you what, though.  On January 1, 2013, I did not anticipate having a boyfriend with three kids or going to Paris for Christmas.  You never know where life will take you, but you just have to get out of your own way and enjoy what life brings to your table.  I’m trying to be mindful of how lucky I am for my life so that I can fully enjoy the time I spend with my friends and family this year.

I hope you stay mindful this holiday season, too, absorbing all of the joy and love shared between you, your friends, and your family.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Random Saturdays – RQ Sqool (Baba Yaga, Kali, and Japan)

Years ago, the RQ Babes came up with the idea of starting RQ Sqool (I know, “q”, but it’s funny to us to see how often we can use “q” in the English language).  We debated on learning something together and discussing via email or doing text chats (not sure if Skype was even a thing at that point, but I know that Google Hangouts weren’t.)  Recently, Cathy stumbled upon one of those emails and we decided that we would all love to finally do RQ Sqool.  We would each develop a lesson of sorts to share with the others via Google Hangout.  Then, we could put the chat up on Da Debediah (remember him?) since that was supposed to be our central RQ social networking hub.  Teresa had some last minute crap happen and Heather had some sinus issues (but she sent us this link in lieu of her lesson on hot dudes).  So, it ended up just being Lauren, Cathy, and me.  We still had alot of fun.  The recorded part of the hangout is quite a bit more serious than the after show chat.  If we start to get ones of followers on Da Debediah, I’m thinking that we should start recording the after show bits.  We’ll have to make people sign wavers, though, because the stuff we say there is really just a bunch of friends joking around and is not appropriate for children or kittens or grown men.  When I created Debediah’s account on Google, I got all of these warnings that since Debediah isn’t a real person, I had to create a page for him instead of just a Google+ account.  In trying to make sure that RQ Sqool was on Debediah’s Google+ and Google Page, I discovered that it’s a pain in the ass to post anything to or to see any posts on the Debediah Page.  Good job on that Google.

So, here is the First RQ Sqool Google Hangout.

Admittedly, it’s very long (almost an hour).  So, I don’t expect anyone other than an RQ Babe to watch the whole thing, if that.  If anyone does watch it, though, let me know what you like, don’t like, how it can be improved, etc.

Random Saturdays – Eventful August

Back in January, Cathy did a tarot reading for me for the year.  August was the 3 of Cups – Celebrating with Friends.  August started out pretty roughly, so I wasn’t sure, but now, I think the card completely fits.

  • 12 Day Meditation Challenge – After I got so bummed out the first week, I decided not to do the guided meditations.  Meditating on each day’s lesson was better.  The third week, I was busy, so I slacked off completely.  I still did my normal meditation before bed, but I didn’t pay much attention to the daily lessons.  I’ve kept all of the emails from the challenge so that I can still look back at the daily lessons as I see fit.
  • Amanda and I were able to take a few of the same days off this month.  I’ll write more on that in a different post, but it was fun.  We decided that one of the things we should do is try to get drunk.  We never get drunk.  We always have to drive home and go to work or wake up early to run errands or we don’t wanna risk headaches or blah blah blah.  Between the two of us, we had half a bottle of Malibu rum and half a bottle of some kind of good amaretto whose name I don’t remember while watching Bad Santa (I had never seen it.  Everyone says it’s funny, and it was, but it made me sad.)  By the end of the movie, we weren’t drunk, just sleepy and hot.  It was cold in the apartment, but we were burning up.  We set out to get drunk, but went through peri-menopause instead.
  • RQ School – We had our first session of RQ School this month.  Cathy, Lomo, and I were the only ones able to make it this time, but we recorded it and put it online. (I’ll be posting that later, but if you’re real smart, you can figure out how to see it now.)  I forgot that we were recording this for public consumption, and even though I only expect nobody else to watch it, I said some potentially offensive, but funny, things.  Once we stopped recording, I said some really offensive, but much funnier things.  That was actually the best part, the chat afterwards.  Doncha just love goofing around with your friends?
  • Paris – I decided to go to Paris with Cathy for Christmas.  She was going to go to Ghana with her boyfriend to see his sister, who is in the Peace Corps.  Cathy and Matt broke up this year, though, so Cathy decided to continue saving for a trip, but not to Ghana.  She settled on a Rick Steves tour of Paris.  I have always wanted to go to France, but mostly the south of France.  I have had alot of run-ins with snooty Francophiles who turned me off on Paris.  Even though I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower and such, I didn’t want to deal with d-bags like that, or worse, be mistaken for one of Those People.  However, I realize that this is a stupid reason to avoid Paris.  Aussi, c’est trés amusant practiquer mon français a Paris!  I will have to put part of this trip (mostly airfare) on my credit card, but after lots of number crunching, and advice from friends, I decided to go anyway.  In 2005, I began planning a trip to Italy with the RQ Babes, but have yet to go.  I always put off fun for the sake of responsibility.  I’m willing to deal with a little credit card debt for the sake of renewing my spirit by visiting Paris with one of my best friends.  Besides, think of all the money I’ll save on therapy and antidepressants!
  • Root Canal – I went for my first cap fitting (of three) this month, and ended up needing a root canal.  Two hours later, the dentist told me that my canals were too small, which makes cleaning difficult.  So, I had to come back a few days later to finish the root canal and cap fitting.  That was not fun on any level at all.  Friggin’ teeth.

Despite my meditation fail and my small canals, August has, indeed, lived up to the promise of being the month that I celebrate with friends.  Who knew?

Exploring Your Depths – New Website is Live!

My friend, Cathy, is finishing up a certificate in life coaching. She just put up a new website filled with info and links about her services. Once she has her certification, you can order affordable life coaching sessions from her. She’s also willing to trade services in lieu of money. Check out her new site and sign up for her newsletters!

Exploring Your Depths

I’m excited to announce my new website: Exploring Your Depths.

I’m extending this blog into more services for coaching and self-development. Once my coaching certification is complete in a few weeks, my Etsy shop will be live with the option to purchase coaching sessions and tarot readings with me.

There are also some free resources up on the site already – look on the Downloads page for those. I’m planning more e-booklets and even some e-courses.

Also, consider signing up for my monthly newsletter through the form on the front page. I’ll let you know of new downloads, events, promotions,
and include a digest of my blog subjects for the month. My first issue will go out next weekend, May 4!

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Exploring Your Depths – Make Do

Exploring Your Depths — Make Do.

Cathy’s blog today is about making the most of your situation, no matter what it is.  She reminds us that “perfect” is usually a fictional and, therefore, unattainable goal.  Making do with what you haven’t isn’t about suffering or half-assing things;  it’s about making the most out of what you have.

Just this morning, I read an article in O magazine about how to workout regularly even when you hate exercise (the web article has a different, and less compelling, title though).  The key is to set your sights low, to set manageable goals.  I haven’t  been able to get back into a regular workout routine since I hurt my knees awhile back.  I know that I can’t work out for longer than 20 minutes a day (even walking around the mall or Target for an hour starts to hurt my feet, knees, and/or hips and I often get headaches).  If I work out particularly hard one day, it can take days to recover instead of my old customary one-day recovery period.  Finding that balance of working out and not over doing it has been difficult, since it’s not the same ratio that it was just three years ago.  Lately, I’ve been disappointed because I can’t seem to commit  to working out regularly.  However, I have managed to do a number of mini-workouts throughout the day (yoga stretches and a strength move or two when I wake up, a 3-minute workout after dinner while watching TV, more yoga/pilates moves to stretch/relieve the day’s tensions before bed).  Granted, the pounds haven’t been melting off, so I still feel like a lazy loser, even though I feel better physically (less joint and back pain).  Why is it so hard for me to do all of these things in a 20-minute interval though?  What is my problem?!

When I read the magazine article this morning, I found it interesting that the writer started with 10 minutes of working out and that there are actually benefits to that because I always feel like a slacker even if I reach my 20-minute goal, which seems like a pretty pathetic goal anyhow.  Then, I read Cathy’s post, which reenforced the idea that even if my mini-workouts are all that I can manage right now, that’s fine.  I’m making do, and that’s good enough.  If I’m able to eventually amp up my workouts and stick with a regular workout routine without getting frustrated by a combo of injuries, laziness, and lack of sleep, then good.  The mini-workouts are fine too though because I am able to keep up with them daily and the health benefits are fully evident even if the waistline benefits aren’t there.  So maybe the combo of the magazine article and Cathy’s post is the universe’s way of telling me that making do isn’t such a bad thing afterall.

Random Saturdays – A True Fiver

Cathy and I recently had another one of our chats where we talked about how we agreed with each other, but didn’t understand other people.  This time, we discussed rating systems.  You might have heard of The Internet, which features Websites, which often feature Rating Systems.  Users are asked to give something a certain number of stars or thumbs up or even to just pick a number on a scale.  I always assume that the star/thumb/one on the left is the lowest and that the star/thumb/five on the right is the highest, unless otherwise indicated.  Our issue is that we see people giving Five Stars (thumbs/numbers) to everything.

How can everything be Five Stars?  Giving Five Stars to everything diminishes the point of the rating system.  Between one and five, three is the middle, which makes three the average.  So two is slightly below average and four is slightly above.  One is fully below average and five is way above average.  You can give them varying degrees, but we know that Five Stars is the best, the most, the greatest whatever of the stuff that you’re rating.  If you give Five Stars to everything, then what you’re really doing is throwing off the rating system because now, five is the average.  Instead of the rating system being a scale of little-to-high quality, it’s now just a scale of high quality.  Instead of, “Was this book/song/movie/donut good?” the rating system has become, “What level of greatness has this book/song/movie/donut reached?”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  It annoys me that so many news outlets go for negative stories because it’s what gets attention (I’m equally disappointed that people give so much attention to the negative stories), but this slanted rating system business is just too durned positive for me.  Cathy and I agree that you save the Five Stars for the best and the One Stars for the worst.  Most of your ratings, by the nature of the numbers, should be Three Stars.  Three is the average, and the average is, well, average.  This carries over even if you have a different scale.  Whatever is in the middle is the average and the extremes are the extremes.  Treat the extremes with the respect they deserve.  Make a book really have to blow you away to get a Five!  That crappy beet better taste like the worst of the crappy beets if you rated it a One!  Everything else can fall into the middle.

If, after reading this, I haven’t convinced you to go forth and give more accurate ratings to random crap on random websites, then that’s fine.  No hair of my chest, no skin off my ear, no bear shittin’ in my woods.  Just know that if you see me sign my name to a Five Star rating anywhere in the world, then whatever the hell I’m rating is a True Fiver.

The Beets-Harry Potter Scale I use for my entire life

The Beets-Harry Potter Scale I use for my entire life

Random Saturdays – Inconvenience Charges

We live in a world of convenience.  We can take care of most things online while staying in our PJs and eating a tub of marshmallow fluff at 3 am.  Talk about convenient!  If I’m too lazy to walk 10 ft to my computer, I can even use my phone to do most of the same things that I can do on my computer.  Mind you, I pay/paid for the computer, broadband internet service, iPhone, and the accompanying data plan.  I pay this money to save myself the time, effort, and expense involved in driving somewhere to stand in line and in order to convince strangers that I need them to take my money.

So why in the world do companies charge customers “convenience” charges for paying online?  I paid convenience charges to Apple, Time Warner, and Verizon so that I could conveniently pay bills online via my computer or phone.  Then I go to pay my bills online and the bill collectors tell me that they’re going to conveniently charge me money so that I can give them my money.  What???  How does that even make sense???  I’m already trying to pay you money for your services.  That money is also supposed to cover the cost of running your company, including the cost of processing payments.  If I’m paying you online, then that means that you’re not paying someone to stand somewhere and take my money.  It means that you’re not paying someone to open an envelope and process my payment.  It’s supposed to mean that the payment process is more secure and automatic.  I’m doing you the favor by paying online, so no, your fee is not convenient for me.  It reminds me of stores’  “free rewards programs”.  They like to tell you on the receipt how much you saved by shopping with the reward card.  In reality, they’re really just not overcharging you for stuff while they make extra money selling your shopping habit info to marketers.

When I try to pay my bill online and am presented with a “convenience” charge, it pisses me off.  For this reason, I don’t have all of my bills set to autopay.  I pay certain bills every month, otherwise, I’d be charged a monthly “convenience” charge.  I can be pretty lazy (see my comment above about PJs and marshmallow fluff), but it’s worth $3 of my time to type three letters into Google, have a webpage pop up, type in my name and password, and click on “Pay bill now”.  Over the course of a year, I save $36 for each of these companies with the crappy “convenience” charges.  My friend, Cathy, and I discussed this recently.  We agreed that if you’re paying more than the cost of a stamp, then you’re getting ripped off.

With Amazon Prime, I can have marshmallow fluff delivered to my doorstep in the next 48 hours.  Talk about convenience!

With Amazon Prime, I can have marshmallow fluff delivered to my doorstep in the next 48 hours. Now that’s what I call “convenience”.