Thursday, May 22, 2014

Matters of Dire Importance: my hair

I am getting a haircut tomorrow.  A ways back I chopped off all my hair in an asymmetrical bob.  Of course, one can only have a tilted head for so long and now I have been growing it out.  I am at that terrible stage where it is horrendous and hot on my neck and I hate how it looks, and last week's 100+ temperatures made me think it is stupid to grow one's hair out over the summer.

Do I push on and suffer through a hot summer with scraggly hair on my neck?  Or just bow to the inevitable and chop it again?

If it matters, I do this pretty much every two years.  Chop, grow, repeat.  I have thin, fine, flat hair, so my "long" hair will not be the Voluminous Hair of My Dreams.  It will just be long enough for the Ponytail of Defeat.  I am aiming for about this long (that is me a year ago):

Currently my hair looks like this (boring, triangular-ish):

I am thinking of growing it out to this (which is probably at least another year of growing):

Or chopping it to this (which does not look drastically shorter or different, but is a good three inches shorter in the back than what I have now):

Vote here:
Longer or shorter? free polls 

Friday, May 9, 2014

how YOU doin?

I miss blogging on a daily basis.  I especially miss blogging about the kids.  I stopped blogging about the kids because they are getting older and I have conflicted feelings about their privacy and putting them on the interwebs. I may have to start a private blog where I wax rhapsodical about my children.  When I look back at this blog over the past four years the posts about the kids are the ones I most enjoy reading.

I have a number of family things going on behind the scenes here,  most of which are anxiety producing.  The brownie consumption/romance novel reading are way up here.

One of my anxiety producing activities is job hunting. I am hoping to go back to work this year, not to teaching, but in the foster care system or in hunger/poverty organizations.  These issues are dear to my heart and I would like to start a new career in a field I care deeply about.

Since I have had no luck finding a job in the past year, recently I joined a career coaching group aimed specifically at women attorneys who have been out of the work force for a few years.  Interestingly, there are at least a dozen graduate programs aimed at getting career-paused women physicians back into the work force, but I only found one coaching group aimed at serving women attorneys.

The group has been a great help.  It is forcing me to do stuff I already knew but have zero desire to implement, such as expanding my personal and professional network.  Every two weeks I am assigned two to three "action items" that will help my job search, such as identifying useful people in organizations I would like to work and then contacting them for informational interviews.  As in, ask a stranger out of the blue for their time and advice.

Please feel free to send an oxygen mask my way (we are running out of brown paper bags).  Or deliver a truckload of brownies to Introverts Anonymous (can you find us?). I can think of very little I would like to do less than start phoning strangers and asking them to tell me how their career path can help me find a job.

I will ask you, dear readers, if you have any contacts in Orange County in the foster care system or hunger/poverty organizations, please leave a comment.

I will share a few recipes I have been making frequently of late.

1) I have been cooking a Moroccan chicken and lentils dish that I find delightful and delicious, and my family sort of tolerates.  I serve it with the lentils over mashed sweet potatoes.  Lentils over sweet potatoes is my new favorite dish ever.

I have the ability to ruin lentils every time I make them.  I have stopped attempting to make lentils on the stovetop, because despite the fact that every recipe says lentils should take 25 minutes, I find that lentils require 45 minutes to an hour of cooking time and a varying amount of water every time. I generally make them burnt and undercooked. To alleviate this problem I have started using a small crockpot to make them.  They usually turn out a bit mushy, but I am ok with that.

2) I have also started making caramelized onions and putting them on everything.  Making caramelized onions is easy--a stick of butter and two sliced up onions, set on low heat and stir around every ten minutes or so for about an hour and a half.  Caramelized onions are good on EVERYTHING.  (This from a girl who used to detest onions, and still doesn't really like raw onions on anything, or large amounts of cooked onions.  Totally different than caramelized onions.)

3) last but not least, overnight oatmeal.  I eat this oatmeal every day.  I love it to death.  I use lactose free milk and lactose free yogurt.  I put in black chia seeds (my local grocery store carries them in the baking section, with the alternative flours like amaranth and spelt, and sometimes I find them in the rice/quinoa section.)  Because I am also in need of All The Fiber, I put in a huge spoonful of Chia and Flax Seed Decadent Blend with Coconut and Cocoa (also in the baking section) (I don't know that I would call it decadent; I freely admit it sort of looks like ground up bark or mulch, but I enjoy the hint of chocolate and coconut in my breakfast).  I follow it up with a splash of vanilla extract and a superlarge helping of blueberries and strawberries.  In fact I just had a bowl of it for lunch; it only needs about an hour to absorb the milk and yogurt.

I love the berry ones, I am eh to the dried fruit ones, and believe it or not, I did not care for the chocolate and banana one.  The cocoa one is not quite sweet enough; it is like eating straight cocoa.  Also, I really don't like the mushy bananas overnight.  I don't mind bananas but only if added right before eating.  Lastly, avoid frozen fruit, it makes it very mushy and watery.

I would kill to eat the peanut butter ones but alas, me eating peanut butter in my home will not commence until Peter moves out.  Only another fifteen years or so.

So how you doin?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

One Week Challenge, Week Six: the big reveal

See Week One, Week Two, Week Three, and Weeks Four & Five.

I am up to my eyeballs in ear infections and job hunting so nothing got done this week.  But, I feel like a fair amount got done from six weeks ago and I am liking the direction that the room is going, so I will count this challenge a success, if only half-completed.

The before:

The after:

I bought two navy poufs from Target for the boys to sit on when they are playing video games, and to provide some extra seating in the living room.  The boys love them, but I am sort of at a loss for where the poufs should live--for now they are residing behind the chairs.  I thought they would look good at the end of the coffee table between the chairs and sofa, but it looked busy and crowded.

I did not get around to painting the front door (as you can see by the two paint swatches, I haven't even finalized the paint color).  I did buy a rug.

I think a full length mirror would look lovely on that right hand side, wouldn't it?

The rug was a craigslist find.

I had high hopes, but I did not get to the dining room (seen here artfully cropped so that you can't see the mess).

Although there were a number of good ideas about what to do with the problem corner, I ended up putting Peter's Lego table back there.  Peter enjoys having a hideaway corner to build his stuff.  I am looking for some art to hang on the wall, but otherwise, I shall probably leave the Lego table there for a while.

Budget and time constraints meant I didn't finish the room, but I am liking the direction it is taking, and I do have plans on continuing it as time and budget allows (finishing the window treatments, installing blinds, pretty pillows for the chairs, more art, etc).   Thanks to Linda at Calling It Home for providing the impetus to get started on the space!

See all the big reveals for the other home participants here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

One Room Challenge: Weeks Four and Five, condensed

See the previous three weeks here.

I was on the East Coast last weekend, visiting some family, and I just didn't have enough time to get a post up.  But I got to see my sisters for the Seventeenth Annual Spaghetti Dinner (and everyone else!) so I am a happy camper.

Week Four: the new coffee table arrived.  Actually, it arrived during Week Two but it sat in an enormous box blocking the front hallway until the end of Week Four.  I have been eyeing this coffee table for a year, and it serendipitously went on sale (and free shipping!) right as the One Room Challenge started.  Kismet, obviously.

This seems like the sort of table that one could decorate and style a million ways with lots of little tchotchkes and magazines and hoozywhatsits.  However, I am not in the season of my life where I can have lots of beautifully styled low surface tables and I will just have to accept that.  I did attempt to style it with three lone little tchotchkes, but Peter said "that doesn't look very good" and so we will just leave it bare.  The better to stage an epic Lego battle, my dear.

What about some art?  In my grandmother's house there is a picture of bicycles that I love.  It turns out the artist is actually an Orange County resident and his (expensive) oil paintings are sold in a gallery near here, but he has a few pieces that are sold as mass-produced art at Home Goods.  I came across this large printed giclee canvas at Home Goods, and thought, ooooooh that is perfect for over the fireplace. I do miss my minivan; getting this piece home in a Honda Accord was an adventure.

Over the past year I have cycled (har har) through eleventy-million different mirrors and pieces of art over that fireplace, never being totally satisfied with any of them.  THIS, however, I  am really happy with and love it.

Last but not least, stuff that will not get done, mostly due to budget constraints.  I had high hopes to put red tassels on the white drapes, like this curtain from Serena and Lily (inspired by this picture):

Unfortunately, I have eight 98-inch drapes, which equates to more than 40 yards of trim.  Similar trim is usually about $15 a yard.  I have found it as cheap as $5 a yard on ebay (still $200 worth of trim), but I do not have a sewing machine and so I'd have to pay someone to attach $200 worth of trim to 8 Ikea curtains.  I like to think that eventually I will get this done, because I think it will look fantastic, but it won't be by next week.

I'd also like to invest in blackout lined outside mount bamboo shades for the windows and take out the white venetian blinds.  I attempted to do the cheap bamboo shades from a large box hardware store, but they didn't come in the length or width that we need, so we returned the mistakes.  The blackout lined custom ones will be more expensive but I think they will be a good investment, especially seeing as the front corner of the living room is a fiery sauna in the late afternoon.....but again, not by next week.

I also had high hopes to paint the interior of the front door red by next never know, that one may get done.

Next week: the reveal!  Check out the rest of the link party here