Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The hidden benefits of the afternoon workout

I have been turned into a true believer of the after work workout.  I've always considered myself a morning exerciser but seminary has made that impossible.  So I go right after work and now I don't think I'll ever go back.  I have more energy at that time.  I can workout for a longer period without wanting to die.  I don't have to wake up any earlier. It is definitely much easier to talk myself into going on the car ride home from work than from my warm and cozy bed. The down side is that if I have anything going on that night I have to somehow fit a workout in on top of that and cooking a healthy meal (because I don't want all that sweating to be for naught by eating just a bowl of cereal for dinner) and planning a seminary lesson but it hasn't been that much of a problem.  And, surprise bonus, I've had to wash my hair every night, which is a huge drag, but somehow letting it air dry while I sleep has turned out to be a magical force for my bangs.  I've had 3 weeks of very successful bangs which is a landslide of a record.  I'm winning all over the place.

Monday, January 28, 2013


When I moved into my current apartment my friend Laura took on the daunting task of putting away all of my books (she also organized my craft desk and sorted the World's Largest Felt Collection into a rainbow. It was a vision of serenity.) When she was through she pointed out a box and said, "Did you know you have 4 copies of Pride and Prejudice? I pulled them out so you could choose which one you want and give the rest away." And I, naturally, protested but she was pretty insistent so I left them in the box.  And then after she left I put them back up on the shelf.

Because I need those copies of Pride and Prejudice.  One is the first copy I owned.  And another isa beautiful leather bound copy that Cynde gave me.  And another has great illustrations. And another is pocket sized and is perfect for toting around in a bag. I have also added to the collection because when I was in Rome I found a copy (in English) and was feeling the need to read it right then.  (Plus, I like buying books in places I travel to.  I can promise you that when I eventually make it to Florence I will not leave without a copy of A Room With a View. In Paris it will be Les Miserables. In London I will need a whole suitcase for all the Dickens I'm going to buy.) And there's no guarantee that I won't buy more copies.  Because what if I find one with an awesome cover?  Or an old one in a used book store that has a cool inscription?  I can't pass these up.  And I'm perfectly okay with being a hoarder of a book that I love.

Truth be told Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel.  And Northanger Abby was the first of hers that I read (my dad bought it for me on a trip to San Francisco.  Guess who also likes to buy books when he travels.) But I think Pride and Prejudice is her sharpest.  I think it encapsulates all that we love about her - her wit, her characters, her biting social commentary, her keen eye for the ridiculous, her Mr. Darcy. There's a reason why they keep making movies out of it.  It's just a really great story.  She nailed it.

So, this was a very long way of saying happy 200th anniversary to Pride and Prejudice.  I cannot imagine my life without, friend.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"This fantastic peach"

It was raining on Saturday morning and I had a cold and I was struck with the urge to read James and the Giant Peach.  So I did.  It's not like I'm going to clean my bathroom when it's raining outside.  You know how helpless I am in such conditions.  So I nestled in my bed and read.  And when I came to a certain passage I started reading it out loud.  Because it's just such zippy writing and I do this from time to time - read out loud. And then it hit me - I used to do the exact same thing as a kid.  I would read James and the Giant Peach out loud to myself. And I would do it often.  I would find certain sections of the story and read them out loud.  For months after finishing it the first time I would do this. Because I loved the way the words sounded. I had completely forgotten that I even did that until I came across the part in the book that I liked so much.

And it kills me how cute that is. I mean, really.

Do you ever wish that you could go back in time and meet up with Younger You and say, "You are going to make some really dumb decisions in your life, mostly because you don't know who you are yet.  And that's fine.  You'll have plenty of time to figure things out.  But this, right here, what you're doing now...this is rad. This is who you are."

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's more of the cute factor, not so much the saving the world factor.

Crafty McCrafterson here.  I actually made something I saw on Pinterest.  I needed new grocery bags because I've either lost or destroyed my old ones.  But I didn't want to buy new ones so I thought I'd sew some.  Plus, this was a two-fer for my goals this year, one of which is "sew more" and another is, "stop buying fabric just because it's cute and use what is already in your craft drawers, you crazy hoarder."
And bonus!  They're reversible!
I can't begin to tell you how cute I felt walking out of Sprouts the other day.
I followed this pattern.  Warning:  These were actually insanely easy to make but the tutorial was a bit loose. The pictures were kind of confusing and she left out a lot of things that a beginner would need to know (cutting out a pattern and adding in darts, to name a few). But you're smart, you'll figure it out. I managed to get it right the first time without having to take out a single stitch, which is no small feat when it comes to my sewing. And I didn't even need the tutorial for the second time around because it was so simple. I want to make a dozen more.  I certainly have enough fabric bursting out of my craft drawers to do so. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

When Rac met Ruby

Look who got to meet Ruby St. Germaine live and in person:

Rachel!!! (Not me.  The other Rachel.  The Short Rachel.  Beloved old college roommate and bosom friend. And sorry, Rac, this picture makes you look like a body builder.  I will confirm to the world that you are wee tiny. It's just a freakishly bad camera angle. Also, doesn't Ruby look dreadful? It may be time for an intervention.)
She's in town with her fam, living it up at Disneyland.  But we managed to get together on Monday night for some mediocre gelato and not mediocre at all hours or gabbing.  One day a teleporter will be invented and I will be able to zip over to her house for an afternoon of eating ice cream and watching North and South.  But for now we must be content with our sometimes yearly meet-ups.
One of the many things we talked about was our propensity for crying. We have diagnosed it as Sad Clown Syndrome.  It's when you're a really happy person and you love to laugh and joke and you think you're a relatively fun gal to be around but you also cry on a very regular basis.  Like, nearly every day something moves you to tears, happy or sad. It's not like you're trying to cry, or that you're depressed, or that you can just stop it whenever you want to.  You can't.  This is just how your body reacts to things. The Blue Bird of Happiness could be nestled deep within your heart and yet you hear a song on the radio that is particularly beautiful, or someone says something nice about your hair, or maybe you're a little stressed, or the sunrise was just so pretty, or you've had a long day and you find that you're all out of bread so you can't have peanut butter on toast and suddenly,bam, you're in tears. We both have this condition and we spent a good chunk of time laughing over our public breakdowns and how inadequate a church bathroom is for composing oneself.  Look, we just feel things more deeply than most, okay?  You all can just go about your life being dead inside.  Or you can join us when we start a Sad Clown Syndrome support group.  I'm going to try to get Kleenex to sponsor it.
Thanks for a great visit, Rachel!  I'll say it again:  you're the shorter sister I always wanted.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

She's living the dream

Admit it, you envision quitting your miserable job and flitting off to Europe for several months, right? (I don't.  I love my job.  I'm never leaving.  Well, except the flitting off the Europe bit is always high on my list of adventures, as long as I could come back and spend 8 hours a day just hanging out and occasionally playing some ping pong.) Anyway, you would do it if you could right, but something is always stopping you.

But it's not stopping my amazing friend Nicola.  She quit her miserable job and will be flitting off to Europe for several months.  Ugh!  It's all so glamorous.  Which, if you know Nicola, it could not be anything but glamorous.  She is the classiest gal I know.  And we're all in luck because she has started a blog to document her adventures

I think you need to follow it.  And here's why.  1.)  She's living the dream.  We should support people who are living the dream.  2.)  She has the best taste in everything.  You will not be disappointed in the stuff she shows you.  Inevitably when I see something on Pinterest that is stunning it has been pinned by her.  3.)  She has a high appreciation for good food.  I can't wait for the pictures. 4.) Nicola elevates everything she's around. You could use some of that in your life.  5.)  Katie is going to meet her in Prague.  Knecht Abroad!  6.)  She has been soliciting friends for mini adventures to do in various countries.  Like yodeling in the Alps, that sort of stuff.  And she has some really good ones.  So far I have about 15 things for her to do with more to come. Nothing really embarassing, just things that will hopefully make for really good stories. Like asking someone to take a picture of her at least once a day.  Or spending a day sampling all the chocolate shops in the city.  This could be fun for all of us.

Good luck, Nicola!  Happy travels!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

He's not worth it, honey.

This is an old apartment complex. The walls are thin.  And I spend a lot of time in silence in my room (reading, planning my lesson, elegant leisure stuff) So this is how I know that Young Love is dying upstairs.  The kid who lives up there is currently being dumped by his girlfriend.  Look, I'm not trying to eavesdrop or anything, it's just that when I'm in my room and both of our windows are open I can hear just about everything that goes on up there.  99% of the time it is just him smoking weed and listening to really loud rap music.  So this is something new.

Let me tell you, he is a wreck. He is sobbing.  There's been a lot of storming out of the room (clomp, clomp, clomp) and storming back in (more with the clomping) and a lot of swearing and accusing (from her) and crying (from him). And the only thing he's said the whole time is, "Babe, I'm sorry.  Baaaaaaaaaaaabe, I'm soooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry! Babe. BAAAAAAABBBBBBBEEEEEEEEE.  Babe!  Please.  I'm sooooooooooorrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyy." She has done most of the talking and it is unrepeatable.

I'm about to go up there and suggest that she just leave because who wants to be with such a whiner.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crown Conspiracy!

On Saturday night we had a Miss America party.  Camille's good friend just happens to be Miss California and was competing in the pageant on Saturday night so we gathered a bunch of ladies and sat around and ate and laughed and critiqued the outfits and talents and basically had a ball. Our girl didn't win (sad) but she did get to eat a donut on stage.  Not too shabby. 

But now down to business - which is that Miss South Carolina is a sham.  Her talent was playing the piano and you guys, she wasn't even coming close. It wasn't even that she was bad (there was plenty of that going on by all the ladies who tried to sing) - she was just playing along with a recording. Trickery! She was definitely playing but there were also very visable parts where she wasn't. But what did we and judges hear?  A perfectly played song. At one point she did a glissando, which is where you run your thumb down the keyboard, and while the gliss was heard her thumb was visibly off the keys.  Like a mile away from them. And then it just became glaringly obvious that she was faking it.

I've no doubt that she knows how to play the piano.  But the girl twirling the baton didn't get the chance to record her best preformance and show that instead.  And all those girls who sang woefully off key couldn't fake it either.  Consipracy?  You be the judge.

It's at minute 40 that it all starts to unravel.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Atlantic Cold Front

Tonight I happened to follow two guys and a girl out of the gym and one of the guys commented on how cold it was and the girl said, "What, are we living in the Atlantic?" And the guys said, "Did you mean the Arctic?" and the tone of his voice made me believe that she said these sorts of things all the time.  Cute.

On that cold note:  okay, so I know that nearly everyone else lives in really cold places. You're all buried under miles of snow and it's -117 degrees and we here in beautiful Southern California don't even know what suffering is.  But you have to understand, we're not used to this!  Sure, a high of 50 can seem down right balmy to you but to us it's the end of the world.  And when it gets down in the 30s at night, as it has for many, many days now, we sort of lose our minds.  Our blood is so thin!  Our skin is so delicate!  They only sell coats here for fashion, not for warmth!  There was ICE on the church sidewalks this morning after seminary!  Ice!!! Kids were sliding all over the place.  We don't know what to do with ice.  People only wear Vans and Chucks here.  Those aren't shoes meant for ice! And don't even think about leaving a comment about how cold your weather is right now.  You chose to live outside of paradise.  Those of us who live here are used to a certain standard of warmth that has not been met in many days.  Let's show a little compassion for my frostbitten fingers.

Did I really just write my second post in a row about the weather.  Ugh - please, everyone stop reading this blog.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I put on a parka just to look at the pictures

1.  This slide show about people hanging out in the snow and ice is FASCINATING to me.  Because, as you know, I have IWP (Inclement Weather Paralysis - inclement being any weather that is not sunny skies with a temperature between 60 and 90.) Seeing people frolicking in the frozen tundra, or ice fishing (Gah!  Can you think of anything worse?  You're fishing AND you're cold.), or running into a lake wearing just a speedo, or doing Korean boot camp, well, it's mystifying.  How can you go out in weather like that? Weather that is so cold your bangs freeze. I already have enough problems with my bangs! Although, that picture of the ice sled conga line on the frozen lake in Beijing is adorable.

2.  One of the dangers of teaching seminary to a class containing several 14 year old girls is that if you happen to use the phrase "one direction" in a sentence, they go bananas.  I mean total bonkers! And you're left standing there wondering why are they screaming when you're talking about really spiritual stuff? It's a good thing I love them.

3.  I saw a man thumbing for a ride yesterday and a WOMAN STOPPED AND LET HIM IN HER CAR!  I pray that this was her husband.  That his car broke down and he called her and said, "Come get me, please." and she was all, "OK, I just have to finish up this paperwork." And he was all, "That's fine, I'll try to hitch a ride." And she was like, "Don't do that!  It's dangerous!  Think of the kids!" And he was like, "But it's cold and I'm hungry." Exasperated, she rushed out of the office and left the paperwork for later and drove off, muttering, "What does he think this is, the 1930s?  You can't just hop in some stranger's car hoping they don't murder you.  Because we all know that only murderers pick up hitchhikers."  Thank goodness she came when she did. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Resolution - go to my gym often enough to know that they're closing down

You know it's been a while since you've been to the gym when you pull up to yours and it's closed.  For good.  With no sign as to where it went.

This happened to me yesterday, which was a huge blow, seeing as I was already in my workout clothes.  More often than not the hardest part for me is just getting in my work out clothes and driving to the gym.  Once I'm there I'm great.  Talking myself into going is the real struggle.  So there I was, shoes already laced up, looking in through the windows of my now empty gym.  Hm.

It turns out that they did send me a letter informing me that they had moved to a new Rancho.  Why don't you just move to a new location on the Moon, Fitness 19?  Ugh, Rancho.  It's so far!  Switching from my previous gym that was literally just around the corner from me to Fitness 19, which was 1.5 miles from me, was hard enough.  I am clearly the biggest baby on the planet.  But I'm still going to request that they lower my fee to make up for the gas money I'm going to have to spend getting there and back. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Several Days of Stretchy Pants

Contrary to common belief, I still go into work over the Christmas break.  Not all of my work involves sitting in my office chatting with students.  Okay, almost all of it does. But there's still stuff I have to get done that is easier to do on a break simply because I don't have a bunch of kids crammed onto my office counters talking about what they did over the weekend.  So breaks are great and I've gotten tons done.

But here's the draw back (aside from missing the kids.  Come back!) - I'm finding it very difficult to transition back into normal clothes after spending days on end in stretchy pants.  The majority of the last 2 weeks have been spent sitting on my parents couch, laughing with my family, watching movies, snuggling babies, playing games, all while wearing lounge-wear. It's nice going into work, but it would nicer if I could do it in my jim-jams. Work clothes are a drag.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Book Review

As you know, my memory is like a wide-holed sieve. Things just do not stay in there.  Okay, that's not true.  Random facts and trivia stay in there.  I can tell you all sorts of really boring information about capitals of the world and the order of the presidents and every winner of America's Next Top Model.  But I can't tell you what books I've read this year. 

Or, rather, I wouldn't be able to if I didn't keep a list.  After I finish a book I jot down the title, the author, when I finished it, and a brief synopsis with commentary so that at the end of the year when someone asks, as my Dad did last night, "So what was the best book you read this year," I can flip through it and say, "Oh, Such and Such was awesome." Except that I didn't have my notebook with me last night and so I fumbled a bit and said, "Well, that book that I just finished like 15 minutes ago was great." Because that's as far back as my memory for books goes. Even if I loved the book. Ugh, it's tough being 80.

But I just finished going through the notebook and doing my year-end review and now I can say that the best book I read last year was Unbroken. Can you believe that?  A non-fiction book?  I am as shocked as you are.  But the story was incredible (he killed a shark with his bare hands, after surviving a plane crash and being adrift at sea for weeks!!) and was told impeccably.  That kind of combo makes my heart swoon.  My runner-up was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieThis is not surprising in the least because everyone knows that I love a book about a smart girl solving a mystery. 

What was the best thing you read last year?