Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Giant Checkmark

Guess what I did on my lunch break the other day?

Had some carrots, checked in on Facebook, and oh yeah, paid off another student loan.

That's 2 for 2012, which was the goal I set for myself back in January.  I'm thinking a new goal of 3 for this year?  Let's do this!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Beat Goes On

Let me start by stating the obvious: I was thrilled by the job offer.

But.  There was one teensy problem, and it went a little something like this:

 Umm.. have I mentioned that we share a car?  And that we don’t live anywhere near public transportation?  Soooo in the midst of my job-finding glee, there was a dark cloud hanging over that was bellowing YOU MUST FIND NEW HOME in a deep, somewhat worrisome monster voice.

Craigslist and I became total BFF(FF!!)’s for the weekend, and we found a grand total of one, yes one apartment that we could afford in the neighborhood we were lusting after.  So we went to an open house that Sunday, and oh friends, I should have taken pictures.  You and I could have sat in a coffee shop and just laughed and laughed over these pictures.

We had to duck to enter most rooms, including the bathroom.
There was one coat closet in the entire apartment. I have an awful lot of shoes, ya’ll.
We had to climb three flights of very narrow windy stairs to enter this dreadful place.

So, we left.  And I worried.  And I checked in with my new BFF(FF!!) and he told me about this other place that was just posted two hours before.  I was on that phone number like a hungry rat on some stanky cheese. 

The next day, I suckered a friend into visiting said apartment since hubsud was off being responsible and working, and even though it wasn’t my dream home, it felt like a good fit.  In a good neighborhood.  At a very good price.  I sent the boy some pics and one day and one application fee later, it was ours!

I’ll post some pics at some point, but can I just tell you that I’ve slightly fallen in love with this new home?  Here’s a list of reasons why this apartment makes me happy:
  • The hot water only lasts for about a 20 minute shower.  Water conservation, anyone?
  • Our cat careens around corners on the wooden floors chasing hair bands and balls made out of aluminum foil.
  • I’ve already had two neighbors introduce themselves and two others shared a significantly friendly smile with me.
  • We have natural light.  Finally!
  • Storage space in the basement?  Bring on the creepy smells and spiders!
  • The floor has a slight bubble that makes our bookshelf lean perfectly against the wall.
  • The walls are the strangest colors of green, yellowy-tan and rusty orange.  You can't help but shake your head and hate it, but kind of love it at the same time.

And the neighborhood, oh my heart.  When out for a run, I ran past sayings someone wrote in sidewalk chalk.  They said things like “Isn’t the sky beautiful today?” and “Stop texting!  Look around!” and they made me smile

There’s a park a block from our house where people go on sunny days with picnic blankets and good company.  We sat on our couch with the windows open and listened to a concert in said park last night.  Beautiful.

And this?

Feels like home. <3

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Windows and Pencil Skirts and Fancy Soaps, Oh My!

Hokay, so, the interview. 

I started applying to jobs about 2 weeks before my job ended.  I’m going to go ahead and admit, I was being pretty picky.  After having a job where I woke up every morning full of anxiety, I was ready for something I felt confident that I would enjoy.  Also, my super hubadoo made it very clear that he would not allow me to accept a job unless I really wanted it and was excited about it.

All of this added up to me preparing to be patient and go through quite a few applications/interviews before finding something.  When I got the call for this interview, it went pretty much how I expected it to go.  The man on the other end said something along the lines of “So I see you’re a nanny… what experience do you have that’s relevant to this position?”  To which I responded politely, “Why, none at all sir!” in my cheeriest voice. 

No, I didn’t do that.  I made up some answer good enough that he invited me in for the interview.  But I was not optimistic.

Now in order to give myself a teensy bit of credit, I prepared crazy hard for this interview.  I did research on the position and the industry and practiced the answers to like 40 common interview questions.

The morning of the interview, I walked into the office and my first thought was “What am I doing here??”  When you walk in the door, you’re greeted by a huge glass wall that offers views of the river, the city, and the mountains.  The bathrooms had all those fancy soaps and things that scream “I AM EXPENSIVE AND YOU WILL NEVER USE ME!”  And oh baby, did I feel out of place.

However, once I sat down, the man who was interviewing me made me feel immediately at ease.  I had practiced most of the questions he asked, and felt like the interview was going well.  He talked a lot, which helped me have time to gather my fleeing thoughts, and he had me meet with 2 other people, the manager of the office and his daughter, the other person I would potentially be working for.  By the time I left, I had been pretty much guaranteed the job.

And it was surreal, friends.  This job was an upper-level job where I would work as an assistant to these 2 financial advisors.  The pay was at the top end of what I was hoping for, plus had bonuses and paid transport and other such fun additions!  In short, I was completely unqualified for the job and had no idea why they were offering it to me.

But I am sly and clever, and I did not let on!  I smiled and nodded as my brain was doing flip-flops of joy, and I sat professionally in my pencil skirt with my legs crossed (at the ankles of course!).  I walked out confident and with my head held high, and then I sat in my car and stared at the concrete wall of the parking garage, trying to figure out what had just happened.

But I think I know what happened… there is simply no explanation for this whole chain of events other than that God was behind it.  And I’ll be honest, I was expecting to be out of work for weeks, if not months, simply because I’m impatient, and haven’t you heard that God always does things that make you crazy in order to make you a better person?

But for some reason, God decided to give me a break on this one.  I’m not going to try to explain why, but I am going to continue trying to be thankful.

Now if you thought I was done with storytime, you were sooo mistaken.  I won’t let you off that easy, silly!  Stay tuned…

Monday, July 9, 2012

Storytime on Steroids

Holy Smoky Mountains, readers.  I hope you have noticed my absence, because I have missed writing!

Basically, I now lead a completely different life than when I last wrote, but we'll get to that.  I'm going to backtrack like mad, and tell you some stories about what has been happening in the last 3 weeks.  It's pretty crazy stuff, so please hold on tight.

Let's start with the last day of my nanny job.  I knew it was coming, but it was still bittersweet.  Saying goodbye is always hard for me, can I get a witness?  Here's some snippets into the way my last week or so went.

Monday: "Nolan, I need to tell you something.  Starting next week, I'm not going to be around much.  Mommy will be done with work for the summer, so she'll get to be home with you all the time, and you guys will have so much fun together!  But that means I won't be around much, since mommy will be here."

Nolan: "But why?  I think you should stay".

Me: Tiny fissures appear in my heart. So. Sweet.

Tuesday afternoon, while doing something completely unrelated: "Hey Kaitlyn, I have an idea!"

Me: "What's your idea?"

Nolan: "I think you should stay with me and mommy and daddy and Colby, and we can all watch Geotrax! (movie)."

Me: Fissures becoming larger. Oy.

Thursday, my last day together: We spent the whole day doing fun things.  We made puppets, went to the park, and then ended at Nolan's favorite place in the world, a Chuck E. Cheese-like indoor amusement park and arcade.  This pretty much sums it all up:

Anyway, it was just a really hard day, and I do miss the boys and the family. But at the same time it was such a relief to be done and begin to look toward the next stage in life, whatever that may be.

Well, how interesting that you brought that up, because I happened to have my first job interview the very day after my nanny job ended.  Would you like to know how that went?  Because I would like to tell you.  More on that later my friends. (Cliffhanger whaaaaat??)

Monday, May 28, 2012


If you've been keeping track, you must be aware that my job is ending soon.  If you've been paying attention, you'll know that is quite a cause for celebration.  If you know me in real life, you might perceive how petrified I am.

For the last 3-4 years, my life has pretty much been all about kids.  Babysitting, classes, nannying, student teaching, mini-teaching, more classes about how they learn, how to teach them, and then nannying some more.  This is my comfort zone, even if I'm unhappy in it.  I know kids, I'm good with them, and I can ace any interview involving them. 

And now.  Now I'm getting ready to venture into this completely unknown space where there are no kids and none of my knowledge base matters.  I'm so. so. SO unbelievably ready for this place, but I'm also scared out of my mind that I won't be welcome there.

I know my personality.  I'm a hard worker, I love learning new things, and I am organized and professional to a fault.  But personality doesn't show up on a resume, and so as I read job descriptions and begin to think about the application/interview process, I have never felt so unprepared for something in my life.  The idea that I'm not actually technically qualified for jobs in most any area outside working with children, and that therefore someone will have to be willing to take a chance on me, is, well, unnerving to say the least.

However... my fear has forced me into an unusual place.  I pray all the time about this situation, knowing that for me to find the right job for me in this time in my life will take nothing short of a miracle.  It's nothing I can do on my own, because I don't have the skills and experience needed.  So I pray before, during, and after I look at job descriptions.  I'll be praying later today as I try to piece together a resume that focuses on skills acquired but doesn't include wiping noses (or butts for that matter), teaching the alphabet, or my repertoire of children's books.  I'll pray over each email, phone call, or interview, knowing that only with God's help will I end up with something that makes me happy.

I will not allow myself to settle for another nannying, preschool worker, or babysitting job.  I am determined to be patient (not my strong suit...sigh) and wait on the Lord while He does the work of preparing me and my future workplace for each other.  And wouldn't you know it, in all that praying and practicing patience and forced reliance on God, I'm feeling a little less afraid and a little more hopeful.

When I have good news, you'll be the first to know. :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

One Step Closer

I've mentioned briefly before how I don't want to portray my marriage as some perfect union of two people who just love and love and never screw up.  Because it isn't, and thank goodness for that (I think).  I want to be honest about the ups and downs so others feel comfortable being honest about theirs.  

So.  With that lovely intro, last night, the huverbee and I had a Talk with a capital T.  This was a unique talk, because I had been putting it off for a while.  Lately, I've been feeling very unhappy in our marriage, and I had adopted this attitude of resignation, this feeling that things would never get better and so I just needed to adjust my expectations of happiness and stop with all the pity parties.  It was totally unfair to both me and the heebab, and so last night I finally gathered the courage to open up.

A big piece of the fear I felt toward this particular conversation actually stems from the amount of love I have for my dear beloved.  I was well aware of how my feelings portrayed him as the bad guy, and I was terrified of hurting him.  I never want him to question my love/commitment for him, and I was so scared that's what his response would be.

Out of this fear and unhappiness came something absolutely beautiful, a revelation about each other that has the potential to change the way we interact.  But woah Nelly, let's slow down a teensy moment.  Let's set the scene before we jump in:  I wrote a while ago about love languages, and how people seem to view them as a magic marriage-saving potion.  I've also mentioned how silly I think this is.  BUT as I was reading a book on marriage, I was reminded of the quiz I wrote about that told both me and hulzer that our love language was quality time, yet I never feel like he wants to spend quality time with me. 

As I mulled this over, I was struck by a thought that was later confirmed by our Talk.  Ok, you may re-enter the scene.  So I asked this man who is my husband, "Husband, when do you feel like we are spending quality time together?  What does that look like for you?"  And he proceeded to tell me that he loved watching movies with me, or watching a Blazer game, and even gave me some background about why those things feel important to him, bless his unusually talkative heart.

Now this may not seem like a revelation to you, but oh my stars, it explained so much!  You see, quality time to me REQUIRES conversation.  It absolutely must include some form of deep, meaningful communication, or else it's a bust.  If you are laughing to yourself at the way this must play out, you are one smart cookie.

On a normal night, this is what might happen.  I will be sitting in bed on the computer, and the H will call from the other room, asking me to join him on the couch in watching TV.  I will respond negatively, feeling like he is trying to "cheat" on our quality time together by just having me sit next to him while he watches the game he would have watched anyway.  But what is really happening is that he is asking for my presence, asking me to show him love by wanting to be next to him and participate in this activity with him, even if we're not saying a word.

Are you seeing the light, my friend??  It rocked my world to be honest.  If I go sit with him and watch a show or a game or a movie and know that I am satisfying him, serving him, loving him, then it's all worth it.  It completely changes this meaningless activity into an easy and wonderful way to serve my husband.  He's not cheating on anything, but simply trying to tell me how to love him.  And I'm finally listening, hallelujah and amen.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Some Good Advice

So there I was, letting Pinterest suck the day away, when I came across this fantastic article full of marital advice.  I swoon for this type of thing, so of course I immediately devoured the entire thing.  It's full of some atypical advice, most of which I heartily agree with even after being married for less than a year.  

There were several that were very poignant (ok fine I teared up at a couple STOP JUDGING ME AND MY FRAIL EMOTIONS!), but one really hit home for me:

10. Stop thinking temporarily.

Marriage is not conditional. It is permanent. Your husband will be with you until you die. That is a given. It sounds obvious, but really making it a given is hard. You tend to think in “ifs” and “thens” even when you’ve publicly committed to forever. If he does this, I won’t tolerate it. If I do this, he’ll leave me. If I get fat. If I change jobs. If he says mean things. If he doesn’t pay more attention. It’s natural, especially in the beginning of your marriage, to keep those doubts in your head. But the sooner you can get go of the idea that marriage is temporary, and will end if certain awful conditions are met, the sooner you will let go of all kinds of conflict and stress.

In the devotional that my hooboo and I are currently reading, they talk about how Satan will most definitely try to attack your marriage because it's something that is so precious to God, and can be such a powerful witness of your faith.  I can identify without a doubt where I have felt attacked in our marriage, from even before we tied the knot.

I read a lot, you see.  Blogs, books, newspapers, magazines, pretty much anything I can get my hands on.  And you know as well as I do that marriages are no longer the commitment that they used to be, what with that 50% thing hovering over them.  So even though I am 1,000% against divorce (especially after being in the middle of one as a child), it still gets in my head.  It seems like everywhere I look, people are cheating on each other with the tiniest provocation, and a seed gets planted in my brain.

Sometimes when I'm having an especially bad day or Monsieur Winn and I are having a particularly distasteful argument, I can literally almost hear Satan's voice whispering in my ear.  

"You better let him buy that ice cream/electronic/video game, or he'll start building resentment toward you, and you won't even be able to look at each other 5 years down the road."

"Nagging again?  He might get awfully tired of only hearing criticisms and seek out someone who is a better listener."

"He didn't kiss you goodnight?  Maybe you should have changed out of your pajamas today...""

It's super hard to put these in writing, and I shudder just to think about them.  I'm not saying all of these don't have a nugget of truth in them.  I do need to let him splurge every once in a while, but he's also benefiting in so many ways by my good money management.  I do need to cut down on the nagging, but occasionally he really does need a reminder.  And I probably shouldn't stay in my pjams all day, but I'm allowed the occasional day of doing nothing.

The lie behind all of these is that my adoring husband would leave me at the slightest sign of a bump in the road.  And if you know him at all, you understand how ridiculous that is.  He is fiercely loyal, and if I allow myself to admit it, he's as crazy about me as he was when we first met.  

I love being married.  Of course it's not always super fun and perfect, but I love having my best friend around all the time and having someone to lean on when I'm not doing well.  Reading that advice today reminded me that it's ok to trust that God put us together for a reason, and to have faith in my H's capacity for love.  

So the next time I hear him at the door while I'm still in my sweats, I'm not going to give in and feel guilty about it.  I'm going to giggle at how comfy I am and invite him to put his sweats on too!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My Moment

Last night, I had a "moment".  I threw my hands in the air and said these words to my heebab in a mildly insane voice: "Sometimes I just want to be immature! I want to turn on hip hop music and shake my buns, I want to have photo shoots and giggle, I want to have a farting contest!"  Yes, friends, this was my moment.

Let's back up a teensy bit.  I had had a really long day at work, got home and immediately went grocery shopping and started dinner, only to realize the dish I had picked out (and started) was going to take too long to cook and we had somewhere to be.  I then proceeded to throw a tantrum (aren't I a gem?) while my ever-patient huzzah threw some pasta in a pot.  

Then we went to the church so Sir Boy could run sound for worship practice, and I just felt tired and off all night.  Cue "moment" on drive home after I realized how insanely boring I must appear to all those around me.

During college, I felt so incredibly free and happy to just be myself, and now I am still struggling to find that.  We've lived here in Portland for almost 10 months (woweee!), and I still don't feel like we have any friends who I can truly be myself around.  I have small talk or even serious conversations with people, but we never share a joke or have a wee little gigglefest.  I can't steal food off of their plates at restaurants or sing them the made-up songs that are always in my head.

I'm tired of being so serious all the time; I'm even boring myself.  But I guess in the past I always let the other person be weird first, waiting for permission to show off my self-created genius choreography to that song on the radio.  How do I cross that little bridge of polite behavior, when I really just want to burn it to the ground and do a jig on its ashes?

I think I'm pretending to be a grown-up, even though I still don't feel like one.  I don't have any answers yet obviously, but my wise man-mate suggested this solution: 

"Let's go home and do all those things then!  We can dance around and play games and giggle."

Exasperated me: "It's not quite as fun when it's just the two of us."

"We can have our cat join in!"

Dear Lord, there's no hope for us.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hey Hey Vacaaaay

Well friends, I definitely left you hanging, didn't I?  My apologies for the lack of action around these parts, but I had a vacation to plan and attend.  And it was wonderful.  Heavenly.  Perfect.  All of those annoying adjectives.

Hubra and I have been planning this for quite a while now, ever since we got our generous tax return.  We both needed it because our jobs are not our favorite, but the boy especially was in need because he had a very long week before we left!

In short, he had to work this phone from Monday-Sunday, starting at 5:30 on weekdays and 24/7 on Saturday and Sunday.  It was the worst!  He was stressed about it and it woke us up in the middle of the night more than once (okay, fine, twice, but still).  Needless to say, some time away was extra beneficial for him. 

Anywhoooo, we went and spent 2 days in Tillamook, Oregon and spent the other 2 in Oceanside.  Here are some fancy pics from the week!

Stopped in for a wine and cheese tasting!

Toured the factory and got some ridiculously amazing ice cream.

This happened, of course.

My favorite place on the trip!

We climbed that dune and those cliffs!

About halfway up.  Notice those tiny people at the bottom!

The view.

Waaaaay up high on the top of Cape Lookout.

Mitch found me the first 4-leaf clover I've ever seen!

There was a paragliding conference in town!

We went kayaking, I think it was Mitch's favorite!

Our beautiful oceanfront hotel room with a jetted tub!
 The best part was that we had set a $700 budget for everything- food, souvenirs, lodging,  activities, gas, all of it.  We spared no expense- ate out, went kayaking, drove 40 minutes just to eat at a restaurant we'd heard good things about, and still came home with $84 leftover!  It felt so good to be able to enjoy ourselves without worrying about the money- a taste of what's to come when we're debt free someday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Easter Grinch

I would not call myself a family person.  Believe me, I am fully aware that this makes me sound like I have a heart full of stone, but that’s not exactly what I mean.  I have a pretty large family, not just in my four siblings and four parental units, but also in my extended family on both sides.  Not only is the family large, but most of them (both immediate and extended) live in or near the small town where I grew up.

Needless to say, I grew up surrounded by people, especially at holidays.  Most holidays had little more meaning than a lot of food and a lot of people, and I looked forward to them only so I could eat as much dessert as I wanted and listen to relatives comment on how tall I was getting (a source of never-ending pride to my young self). 

However, my parents especially are not overly emotional people, preferring instead to just quietly support whatever I wanted to do.  So it was that when the time came to move to Chicago for college, there were a few tears of course, but mostly I felt free to move on.  I called whenever I felt it was time, and I didn’t give in to the lonely feelings of homesickness because I knew it was only a matter of time before I saw them again.

All that background leads me into a story.  Rewind to this time last week, and I was a grumpy mess.  Easter was coming, and we had no family around to celebrate with.  As previously mentioned, I’m used to big gatherings full of small talk and too much food, and the idea of spending a holiday with just the hubdubalub and me was just plain depressing, to be honest.  If ever there were an Easter Grinch, it would have to be me.  I guess I’m more of a family person than I had realized…

Anyway, I wasn’t fun to be around.  Every time I thought of Sunday, I got sad and lonely and made snide comments about it being “just the two of us” with a sour look on my face, as if I could think of nothing worse than spending time with the love of my life.  Please pity the husband-man, he could use it!

As the week rolled on, I decided I was going to slap Easter in the face and make it wonderful and memorable and delicious even if it was -sigh- just the two of us.  I bought a feast and picked out a pretty Easter outfit and pretended to be happy when in fact I was still quite grumbly about it all.

There I was in church Easter morning in my pretty outfit with the menu all planned for the afternoon, and something began gnawing on me.  Church is so darn good at bringing out those feelings, the ones we call “convictions” in Christianese.  As the sermon progressed, it began to sink in that Easter is the epitome of joy, the one day where the entire foundation of my life is proved victorious.  He is risen! the church sang, and my heart began to rise with Him.

If ever there was a day to be truly joyful, it is Easter Sunday, my friends.  I was so self-centered and self-pitying that I had completely overlooked the reason we gather to celebrate: that my Savior conquered death for my sake and has risen to live among us.  My oh my did I feel small as I realized that those very selfish thoughts are the kind that remind me how needy I am, how desperate for the grace offered in Christ’s victory over the cross.

After all the sadness leading up to it, this Easter was good, dear readers.  We did feast.  We did enjoy sunshine and special desserts.  But above all we worshipped, full of true joy and admiration for a God who never gives up on the Grinches of the world. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Playing Catch-Up

Oops.  I did that thing again where I think of all these great post ideas and then go eat a sandwich or take a nap and never do anything about it.  So instead of working up the motivation to write a whole post about some mind-blowing theme, I'm just going to play a little game of catch-up with you!

First, I do want to share some fun financial news.  Fun is the only word that fully embodies the essence of finances, right?? Wrong.  But this one is pretty jolly: we have finally paid off all the interest on our loans!  So in essence, we are back where we started, which could be really depressing, but not for this gal!  From here on out, all we'll be doing is make progress, and that's pretty darn neat-o.  

Also, a small update about groceries because I told you I would. My savings for March were $83.42 and 29.8%, which is less than February, but we also spent $98 less on groceries overall plus I tried my hand at shopping at more than one store for the first time, so it obviously still counts in the win column.  

So I started a little countdown... 33 days of work left!  That sounds ridiculously do-able until I also tell you that it's 11 1/2 weeks, but I'm ignoring that part and focusing on the 33 thing.  About a month and a half from now, I'll be able to start looking for a new job and relive this and also this whole process over again.  Yippee.  But really, yippee!

What else?  I have been horrible to the dear H lately, I am sorry to say.  Last night, he said something along the lines of, "Why are you snapping at me like a gosh darned sea turtle?" and I sat for a good ten minutes thinking about it, and realized I just really wanted to fight.  Not with him, not at all.  But I wanted to give someone a good spank in the brain with my ferocious words, and he happened to be the only person close enough to practice on.  I took many deep breaths and re-calmed myself, and hopefully I learned that spouses do not make good practice targets.

In better news, I just got back from a wild spring break trip spent with my new baby niece, who is adorable beyond words.  I got sunburned twice and giggled like a schoolgirl about it, and also laid around and marveled at my niece who is so much better than your niece.  I am sorry about that part, but the truth hurts.  I may have cried after leaving her because my sister is one of the most important people in my life, and one of the most important people in her life will never really know me, and if that's not a cause for a good cry, I don't know what is.

Other than that, I spend my days on bended knee asking the good Lord in heaven above to please send some sunshine and maybe not so much rain?  And then to go ahead and send a massive heat wave while He's at it.

What have your recent days been filled with?

P.S.  I pretty much never take naps, so that beginning part was a lie.  Oops again.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Corn and Broccoli Calzones

Normally I stay away from these types of posts.  I never really attempted to cook until I got married.  I made valiant efforts in college occasionally, but I mostly lived off of Pasta Roni and sandwiches.  Needless to say, cooking is new territory for me.  Therefore, I feel highly unqualified to post recipes or any such nonsense. 

However, since I already shared my…ummm… interesting relationship with food, anything out of the ordinary is quite a big deal for me.  My hubeeba and I also try to make an effort not to eat a whole lot of meat (sometimes) and this is actually a great meatless recipe that is healthy and super filling.  So I come to you bearing Corn and Broccoli Calzones!


1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Flour, for dusting
20 oz. prepared whole wheat pizza dough (mine is store-bought)
2 teaspoons oil (I use olive oil)
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 475* F.  Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Combine broccoli, corn, mozzarella, ricotta, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Stir until fully mixed.
Should look vaguely like this.  MUST use bright blue mixing bowl for optimal success.

3. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece into an 8-inch circle.  Place a generous 3/4 cup filling on one half of each circle, leaving a 1-inch border of dough.  Fold top half over the filling.
I don't have a rolling pin, so don't judge my "circles".

4. Fold edges over and crimp with a fork to seal.  Make several small slits in the top to vent steam; brush each calzone with oil.  Transfer the calzones to the prepares baking sheets.

5. Bake the calzones until browned on top, about 15 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving.
I sprinkled with cheese, obviously.

I did get this recipe from somewhere, but since I don't remember where anymore, I don't feel bad about not giving credit!  That's how I roll.  Anyway, each one of these puppies is only about 200ish calories, so it's really easy to turn into a healthy dinner. 

That's all, folks!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Hard Middle Ground

The biggest thing I learned in college is that there are a lot of bad things going on in the world and a lot of good people trying to change that.  I grew up in small-town Missouri, and sure, I knew bad things existed.  I saw the children on TV and sponsored a child for a few years when I was a preteen.  But for better or for worse, I was also incredibly sheltered from real injustices.

My town had (has?) an active KKK clan that sent a threatening letter to our high school band director after he paid tribute to Rosa Parks during a concert.  Needless to say, I had zero friends growing up who weren’t from white, middle-class families.  All the bad things on the local news happened in Kansas City, a good 35+ minutes away, and were therefore of no concern.  My youth group participated in the 30-Hour Famine, but I only went to play games and flirt with boys.

Then I moved to Chicago, more specifically to Albany Park, one of the most diverse areas in the entire nation.  I learned about human trafficking not just overseas but here in the US, about homelessness and political wars and racial/economic injustice.  I was overwhelmed with information and overwhelmed by a desire to help.

My dream was to go serve in an orphanage after I graduated.  I loved kids, and wanted to be somewhere where my actions could be most useful.  The college even linked to a 6 month internship at an orphanage in Zambia, and I was sure that was where I was headed.  Then I fell in love. 

As things got more serious between me and the HH (handsome hubbeeeee), I slowly realized my dreams needed to change.  He didn’t want to go to Africa; he wanted to go to Portland.  He wanted a big house with a nice yard, nice cars, and nice things, while I felt all of those things were inherently evil in some way. 

Fast forward and here I am, living in Portland, occasionally catching myself dreaming about the house I’ll someday own.   I work at a job I hate just to bring home a paycheck so I can pay off debt and go out to eat every once in a while.  My education pushes me to be revolutionary, while society pushes me to just blend in, and it is incredibly hard for me to live in the tension.

The sad truth is, I don’t think I would have been any happier in that orphanage.  I would have gained life experiences and perspective, sure, but joy?  I doubt it, simply because it’s not where God was really calling me, I only wanted to go so everyone (including God) would see how helpful I was and how much I loved them/Him.

It’s so much harder to love people from my comfort zone.  I feel like if I was shoved into the unknown, I would love and depend on people because I had nowhere else to turn.  But now I have a TV, a constant companion, even a cat for goodness sake.  Instead of inviting people over for dinner, I can watch reruns.  Instead of volunteering downtown, I could go for a hike or write a blog post (ha). 

It’s something I struggle with every single day.  I feel like I either can’t or don’t love Jesus enough when I’m stuck in my comfortable bubble.  Sometimes I get mad at God because He called us here and I don’t know what to do with the calling. 

But I know He’s here, teaching me something.  I have a feeling it has a little something to do with patience, politics, and money, and a lot to do with faith.  For now, I’m trying to find peace with Him in the midst of consumer chaos and trying to find the courage to believe He’s got something worthwhile up ahead.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Haley's Here!

Today is a good day!  My sister and best friend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl!  Generally speaking, I think newborn babies are creepy and wrinkled and look like aliens, but for some reason this one is an exception. :)

Today is by far the hardest day to be away from my family, and looking at all the pictures being posted of this little baby makes my heart ache.  I've pretty much just sat here all day glued to my phone and Facebook waiting for someone to post another picture.  But I get to go see her in a couple of weeks, and I'll get some time with her all to myself!

I waaaas really hoping she'd be a redhead, because redheaded little girls are possibly the cutest thing ever invented, but I guess she'll do. :)

So proud of my sister and excited for her and her husband as they begin a brand-new phase of their life together!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Money has always been just a little bit of a game to me.  I know that’s sounds slightly insane, but it’s true.  I Love with a capital L any sort of puzzle or game, and turning money into a game has allowed me to succeed.

Ok, so I can’t really say I’m succeeding yet, what with those nasty loans hanging over my head, but –sad as it is- I didn’t know better with those, and I’ll never make the same mistake again!  But because of those poopsters, I’ve had to get creative with our income so that our biggest priority can be to get rid of them.  We’ve already paid over $11,000 since Septemberish, so I’d say we’re doing just fine!

Anywho, I shared before that our grocery bill is one that hits us the hardest.  I don’t know why, I just have a really hard time saying no when the HB wants late-night ice cream or I become a chocolate goblin and absolutely positively canNOT live another second without it.

So, I’ve turned it into a game to help motivate me!  February is the first month that I started keeping track of every single trip to the grocery store, and therefore being more proactive about saving.  I looked for more coupons and sales, and tried to limit myself.

The good news is that over the entire month, I saved a total of $127.97 using a variety of tactics, and averaged 31% savings every single trip!  The bad news is that I went to the store a total of...  15 times.  Oy.  That’s almost 4 times a week, and sometimes I even went twice on the same day!  Obviously this is something I need to be more aware of…

Anyway, I’m going to keep updating this every month to hold myself accountable, and hopefully be a wee bit of a braggart when I get things more under control!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's Done is Done...

A couple of weeks ago, I worked Monday and Tuesday and then had an entire week off because of a holiday and the family I work for having visitors.  As the days passed, I found myself with less and less to occupy my time with, and I’m sorry to say I turned to a dark place.

Friends had been trying to convince me to just give it a try; it might spark my creativity or help me get through long days of boredom.  I tried to stay away because I knew what a slippery slope these things can be.  Finally, even my husband asked me why I wouldn’t just give it a shot, and I gave in:  I signed up for Pinterest.

Needless to say, I am now a converted addict, and it has indeed sparked my creativity in many areas, from working out to cooking to filling my free time.  One of the first things I saw on there was a crochet pattern for a scarf, and I used to crochet when I was a kid, so I called up my mom and asked her to send my old hook and some yarn, and off I went!

Considering the only projects I made as a kid were blankets that gradually shrunk to half their size by the time I finished, like this \  / , I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.  I found the original pattern here.

A couple of things I’d do differently:

1.       Count more carefully.  Some of the “bumps” ended up in funny places because I didn’t pay a ton of attention as I counted.
2.       Use a softer yarn.  I was so excited to get started that I didn’t even consider this, and now I get slightly itchy wearing this…
3.       Try a different color.  I did white because it’s safe and goes with everything, but I’m somewhat of a color monster, and I think I would have liked something more… well… colorful!

By the way, I know posting this makes me a complete nerd, and also that spring has (unofficially) sprung and I’m out of season.  But I was excited to create something like this, so I’m sharing anyway!  Not bad for the first time in 10ish years, right?  RIGHT??? :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why Yes, You Do Want to be a Part of This

As I was driving home from work today, I was thinking about life.  I know that you are scared to read on now because you’re worried this post will be heavy and you just wanted some light reading material in between pinning and tweeting and posting and all that other nonsense.

But you’re in luck!  This is simply a sharing post that will not require you in any way to change your life or even consider a new thought unless you so choose.  Hoorah!

So my wandering mind asked me this today: What have you learned about being an adult since graduating college and getting married and paying bills and researching insurance and learning to cook and... well, you get the idea.

One thing I have learned is the regrettable reality that are utility bills.  Every other bill comes faithfully and I know how much it will be and it has been budgeted for and I wave sadly as the money floats away.  Utility bills, however, are much sneakier than your average bill.  They hide around in the mild fall and spring months, and then summer or winter comes and BAM! POW! and all those other words that belong in a spiky bubble, they got you again.  When I was in college, it was a common sight for people to have their apartment windows wide open in January (yes, in Chicago) because the heat was unbearable and we didn’t have to pay the bill, so who cares?  Those days are sadly behind me, as I have been duped by the utility monster many times now.  In case you were wondering, I believe he looks something like this:

Another thing I have learned is that it is hard to make friends after college.  Holy cow is it hard.  I am used to living in community, being able to call up several classmates to "study" with, trotting along to say hello to a friend, or running into people at the Starbucks across the street.  But now I live with a boy (cue scary music).  And said boy and myself live in an apartment where our neighbors don’t pop in for chats or invite us over for their Christmas Cookie Exchange.  We have to be intentional, and guess what I learned about myself?  I’m no good at that!  Ha! (That was sarcastic, I did not really laugh.)  And for you meanies who just thought to yourself that I’m simply socially inept, you are wrong I tell you!  Almost every single one of my friends has expressed this exact same feeling.  It’s sad, yo.

The last deep meaningful discovery I wish to impart this evening is that all those grown-up, responsible events and such haven’t actually changed me.  It’s like the eve of your twelfth birthday when you’re so sure that your life is about to change tomorrow because you’re going to finally be a teenager, whoa x 3.  But then you go through the whole day and at the end of it your mom asks if you feel any different, and you don’t.  I still want to have dance parties and bake inappropriate cupcakes and sing at the top of my lungs and twist my face into every possible emotion.  See small sample here:

It’s just that while I sing, I also have to write a check.  And while I dance around my living room, I sometimes have to shut the blinds because now I have neighbors who do not appreciate the art in my moves.  But unlike that birthday-party-letdown feeling, I am quite ok with it.  I was awfully worried I was going to have to carry a briefcase and spout investment knowledge, or not laugh when someone farts. (Is this even possible?  Do older people just somehow hide their giggles from us?)

The moral of the story is this: Fear not, my friends.  Growing up, though not all fun and games, totally can be if you want it to be.  It’s just not quite as scary as it seemed. *whew*