Thursday, March 28, 2013

Learning to be an Ant, Not a Grasshopper

The Man and I don't always see eye-to-eye.  We know that we will never agree on some things (art? politics? emptying the dishwasher!), that we shouldn't share space in the kitchen together, and that we work on different priority schedules most of the time.  But in those important things like how we feel about family, money, faith, and food, we are practically identical.  We both value planning ahead and thinking things through.  Sure, spontaneity and surprises can be fun, but we both prefer them as the exception rather than the rule.

Having now established our independence with jobs, our own home, and the trappings of a comfortably modest life, we are looking to our future.  To be honest, that future is freakin' scary.  I don't mean politically or environmentally or economically: we're talking about everything and all the "what ifs" and "maybes" and "well, it just mights." A tiny bump in our life could upset everything, so we have to get crackin' on a backup plan.

Before you go thinking that we're planning to start hoarding beans, bullets, and Band-aids, I'll stop you.  We don't DO beans.  Really.  (However, I do have a pretty extensive supply of Band-aids due to my cuticle picking habit.)

I'm talking about a realistic approach to the real and perceived threats to the life we want to live.  What do we do if The Man loses his job?  What do we do if some sort of weather disaster hits our area?  How will we survive if we don't have electricity for a week?  What skills do we have or need to learn that can be traded instead of currency should ours be devalued?  What do we do if we can't get to the doctor immediately or our car breaks down on a mountain road or we need to get away from our home quickly for whatever reason--like a house fire or flood.  Even more, can we live on our own without relying on neighbors, welfare, or the kindness of strangers for assistance--for our very survival?  Any one of these threats is a real possibility within our lives, however remote, and planning or preparing for them now does us a lot more good than panicking about it later.

We don't have a plan for all of the threats we see, and we certainly haven't stockpiled water, food, or supplies (yet?).  But with our level-headed minds and determination to work together toward our future, we're learning to be the ant and not the grasshopper.

Editor's note: The Man grew up with Aesop's, and I grew up with Little Golden Books, so this is less "ant and grasshopper" and more "Little Red Hen" to me.  We come to our future from different directions, but we're on parallel paths now.  Two sides of the same coin.  That's a great analogy of our relationship. :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Best Tea in the Whole World

I have always hated tea.  I don't do coffee, and most of the other hot drinks are just too fussy for me.  I like water and some sodapop, but that's it.  Even lemonade is a rare addition to my drink list.  Water and pop get the job done.

Last weekend, The Man and I were near Bridgeport Village in Tigard, Oregon.  We took a wrong turn and discovered the Stash Tea store.  Being so close and wanting to try something new, we stopped and paid a visit to the store.

We both quickly found the section for tea already in teabags and agreed that while loose tea probably tastes better and is probably more authentic, we are both lazy and gladly trade the convenience of tea bags for the supposed benefits of loose tea.  Hardcore tea snobs may scoff at us, but we aren't hurting anyone, so just shove off, mkay?

The Man picked up a box of chocolate mint oolong tea and a box of goji berry herbal tea.  I scored a box of vanilla chai and, somewhat at a loss for what else to get, grabbed a box of the Spice Dragon Red Chai.  If I am going to learn to drink tea, chai is my gateway.  I love spices and warm, soothing flavors, but I can't stand herbal crap or too tea-like flavors.  Basically I like chai tea without the tea.

The chocolate mint oolong is okay with a chocolate beginning, mint finish, and bitter aftertaste.  I haven't tried the berry tea yet.  The vanilla chai is very, very good.  It is sweet and smooth, and with the addition of a packet of stevia sweetener and a dollop of milk, it becomes an absolute delight as a low-cal dessert substitute.

The clear winner of the day is the Spice Dragon Red Chai.  The Man and I are both totally in love with it.  Adding sugar and cream turn a fantastic cup of plain tea into a cosmic experience.  Hands down, that is the best chai tea I've ever had.  It isn't too strong on any one particular flavor, but it is a much stronger overall spice flavor than any other chai tea.  Delicious!  We are now stocking up in case Stash Tea ever discontinues this line.

I still maintain my dislike for tea as a group, but I will proudly declare my love for the dragon red chai any day.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Introducing: Lost Little Lutheran

As with any situation in which you open yourself up to judgment from others, blogging for the first time can be frightening.  I was able to witness this journey as an outsider recently, and I could be more excited to watch someone I know go through the growing pains of life as a new blogger.

My real-life family and friends are probably familiar with my best friend, but for the readers out there, I'd like to introduce Matthew.  He and I grew up together.  We were in the same classes from grade school through high school, and our houses were essentially next door to each other.  We were in band together, in labs and groups together, and hung out together after school.  Even now, both of us married to other people, we're still best friends.  To all the naysayers out there that claim that boys and girls can't be just friends, well, sorry, don't know what to tell ya.

On top of being a generally great person, Matthew has been super busy lately!  He and his wife had a baby a few months ago.  He works in a regular job during the day, teaches piano lessons in the evening, and still finds time to attend seminary classes at George Fox University for a masters degree in divinity (M.Div).  Oh, and he's also a youth pastor at his church.  That's holy cow busy!  How he'll manage blogging on top of that, I have no clue, but he has thrown himself into sharing his life and beliefs on a blog, and I'll do whatever I can to support his new adventure.

Now before you go thinking that he and I are on the same page with our faith or that I'm only promoting his blog because we share beliefs, I'll stop you.  We don't.  We have probably never agreed about anything religious.  Despite our Protestant-Catholic divide (in which he's the lost Protestant heathen and I'm the Protestant-turned-Catholic saint--har har), I do, however, endorse his attempt to share and open lines of communication between people.  That sharing, and especially the opening of our hearts and minds, is really at the core of both of our blogs.  I hope you will participate with us.

I don't ask much of my readers, so I don't feel guilty making a request of you today: go, read, and comment. Nothing makes a blogger feel better than getting a thoughtful comment (or even just an "I agree").  Help him feel welcome.  Thanks!

Matthew's blog: Lost Little Lutheran

Friday, March 08, 2013

Not that I Need Another Show...

After finishing my massive quilt project last weekend, I took several days off.  I didn't move from the couch. No laundry, no dishes, only trips to the kitchen and bathroom as necessary for survival.  You think I'm kidding?  I discovered a new series, Doc Martin, on Netflix last Thursday night, and I watched all five seasons in seven days.  Yeah.  Really.  Everyone kept asking me what my next project was after the quilt, and honestly, I just want to sit and watch things rather than be doing, doing, doing things.

The show has been popping up as a recommendation from Netflix for quite some time due to my having devoured all of Eddie Izzard and Craig Ferguson's material there, not to mention my lingering Ewan McGregor interest.  I passed on the show several times, but finally, with such a long weekend with nothing pressing, I gave the first episode a try.  Before I knew it, the first season had passed.  If you haven't given Doc Martin a try, do so.  It is sort of the British equivalent of House or a less deadly version of Diagnosis Murder.  It isn't as funny to my terribly American mind as it might be to the British mind, but I sort of like subtle humor and the doctor's unique approach to life.  The drama is excellent, and I must say I have been very impressed with the realistic medical situations.  Smart, sweet, and fun, I am in love with Doc Martin.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Sea Glass Quilt

It is with excitement and a proud sense of achievement that I present to you a completed quilt!  The numbers on this quilt are, for me, staggering.  I could not be more pleased with the final product, and I'm so glad it has found its way to the intended bed.

Final dimensions: approximately 116" x 124", king-sized bed quilt

Yards of fabric used: about 25

Colors of fabric used: 25

Spools of thread used: 6

Yards of binding: 15

Amount invested: $200

Hours spent on the quilt: around 175 (and at a meager $10/hr, that's $1,750!)

Actual time to completion: eight months, fourteen if you count the failed purple quilt

Lessons learned with this quilt: color selection, joining backing in the "quilt as you go" method, "seam-free binding" with no obvious start-stop point, and how to roll quilts for machine sewing

Number of new proud owners: 2, my parents

Did I miss anything?  More pictures can be found here.