We Ate Things We Didn’t Recognize

I crowd-sourced what cuisine I should try for the TRY ANOTHER COUNTRY’S CUISINE Challenge and the winner was: Ethiopia! (I took a poll on Facebook and Instagram and Ethiopia thumped Russia/Uzbekistan in the voting). This was one of those challenges where I thought, “Why did I say I’d do this?” We did a little research about what we should eat and, maybe more precisely, what we should avoid. Tibs: stir-fried meat, yes.  Kitfo: raw lean ground beef, no. Feeling fairly prepared, we ventured out but I can’t say we were too excited.

Sora
Full disclosure: taken as we were leaving.

Turns out there are six Ethiopian places within walking distance. We chose Sora Ethiopian Market and Cafe, which is only half a mile from out house! It’s not a large place and luckily we weren’t the only diners. Game plan: order some kind of identifiable meat and be comforted by the idea of bread. We had decided we needed to order one of the combo platters that seem to be the staple of Ethiopian cuisine. So we picked the Veggies of the Day and added something called YeShint Tibs: cubed ribeye steak sautéed with onions, garlic, tomato, jalapeño and some kind of seasoning.

menu
Notice the YeShint Tibs. As well as various other Tibs.

In Ethiopia you eat without utensils.  Meals are served with a spongy flatbread called injera which you tear off into small pieces and use to scoop up the meat or vegetables. It’s not bad once you get the hang of it, but messy.

injera
Injera. An endless supply.

So, I’m sure you are wondering, how was the food? It was pretty good! I was surprised that I liked the vegetables better than the bread or the beef.  Let’s start with the bread.  Injera has a strange, almost sour, flavor.  It serves primarily as a vessel to get the food from plate to mouth.  It certainly isn’t something that I would just eat alone but with the veggies or meat it almost disappears flavor-wise. The temperature was off-putting, room temperature with an almost clammy feel.  I’m not sure I’d even describe it as bread? Lee and I were in agreement about the injera.

For the meat entree, YeShint Tibs, I liked the seasoning but the steak was just okay,  I wanted it to be more tender and I thought our server said it would be thinly sliced.  However, looking at the menu now it clearly says “chunk cubes” of ribeye, so…I guess that’s on me.  Lee liked the meat better than I did.

On to the veggies.  I was nervous about them. In the pictures they looked mushy and of indeterminate origin.  However, I liked all but one of the five!

Foodlabeled
All platters are served on injera.

A veggie breakdown:

Messer: spicy lentil stew- my favorite!  Good texture, nice level of spice!

Alicha Messer: non-spicy whole lentil stew- not a lot of flavor and in certain circumstances that’s a win!

Alicha Kik: yellow split pea stew- not a ton of flavor and full disclosure, I thought it was described by the server as being sweet potatoes, which probably made me give it the benefit of the doubt before even tasting it.  The whole dish was kind of an exercise in suspended disbelief anyway because it looked like corn.

Kay Sir: red beets, carrots and potatoes cooked with onions and garlic- surprisingly good!  I do like beets (cooked only, please!) and potatoes, to the picky eater, are a god-send, plus carrots, I can do.  I was good once I realized that even though I couldn’t tell whether a chunk was beet, potato or carrot they all tasted fine.

Gomen: Collard greens cooked with onion and garlic- I saved the best for last…no. This was no bueno.  Wrong language,  I know. Wrong country even, but really just plain wrong. I’m not a fan of collard greens, in general, and these were probably perfectly fine if you like them, but, just no for me.  I did try them and, honestly, it was the only thing I ate all night where I was like, just swallow and try not to make a face.

We admitted to our server that this was our first time eating Ethiopian food and she said we seemed like naturals!  I think she was impressed that we didn’t ask for silverware.  Overall, we enjoyed it.  We might even go back.  Maybe.

coke
Liquid security blanket.

So, did you eat something from somewhere different? What did you think?  I’d love to hear about it!  I was about to write that maybe we’d try out more new food from other countries but, you know, I’m going to pace myself.  I’ve promised to try sushi and we might just give the Uzbek/Russian place by the movie theatre a go but after that I think I’ll give my tastebuds and my overactive imagination a rest.  Thanks for reading!

Before you go…I must admit that Lee tasted everything first and told me what I’d like and what I wouldn’t!  Although, I was going to try everything anyway it helped me to prepare mentally.  Let’s just say he’s my food wing man.

 

 

 

 

 

Direction Over Speed

I’m amazed, and frankly a little scared, at how fast time passes.  A lot has happened since I last wrote and yet somehow I can’t believe it’s been over a year.  2018 was in most ways a year like any other.  I worked, I ate, I laughed, I cried, I moved.  Ah, yes, the ever presenting moving.  It was also the year I turned 50.  That birthday so dreaded by many but also rightly celebrated. A milestone. The combination of its approach, an additional major life change and an unassuming little yellow book are what initially led to this blog.  I knew I wouldn’t complete the challenges by 50 but I’m ready to start again.  I’ve missed this endeavor.  The planning, the writing and the connection, not only to my faithful, supportive readers but to myself.  Two of my new guiding principles for 2019 fit nicely with this: live deliberately and direction over speed.  As I’ve written before, one of the benefits of this blog has been that it’s forced me to live more deliberately.

My subconscious has been busy trying to convince me that it’s been too long for me to pick up where I left off.  The ship has sailed, no one cares, you (shockingly) failed to finish something again.

img_7238
Rare sighting of my subconscious watching me write.

But, I’m in charge here and I want to pick up where I left off.  I’m choosing direction over speed.  As a military spouse I find this to be a difficult task.  We don’t feel like we get to choose the direction and once we land somewhere we have to act with speed, ever aware that time is precious and finite. The truth is that whatever the outside forces or internal whispers WE get to set the speed and direction of our lives. Obstacles just make it more challenging and interesting. I’ve said all of this to say, I’m back! There are many challenges ahead and I hope you are still with me. Let’s do this.

Before you go…Facebook has been reminding me that all 69 of you that liked my Before You Grow Up page haven’t heard from me in a while…I’m not sure if that’s supposed to motivate me or depress me but either way it worked.

Ok, I just realized that I’m the 69th person (or probably, more accurately, the 1st) so to the other 68 of you, thanks for reading.

Dream On

This challenge could be very interesting…if I can remember to do it.  RECORD YOUR DREAMS FOR A WEEK.  THEN TRY TO DECODE THEM TO DISCOVER WHAT’S GOING ON IN YOUR BRAIN WHEN YOU SLEEP.  From what I understand, everyone dreams but not everyone remembers.  I am one of those people who remember their dreams.    Although my dreams are vivid and strange they are usually forgotten once I start my day.  It will be a challenge to 1) remember to write them down and 2) take the time to do so.   Trying to decode my dreams might be even trickier.  Do I really want to know what’s going on my in brain when I’m asleep?

Sometimes decoding my dreams is easy.  Because I often dream about things that I have on my mind when I go to bed, I have a rule that I don’t talk about subjects that could be stressful or thought-provoking right before bedtime.  This rule was initially put into play when my sister, Emilie, and I started a reusable bag company, circa 2006.  Lee always wanted to talk about it as we were heading to bed, thus the institution of the “no bag talk after 8pm” rule.  This rule has morphed and been used for many topics.  I highly recommend it. It’s necessary for my self-preservation and required if I’m going to get a good night’s sleep.  Don’t get me wrong,  it’s not that I won’t be able to fall asleep, although that happens occasionally, but that I will spend the night living out our discussions with strange tweaks and weird settings.  Not conducive for restful sleep.

Recurring dreams are supposed to reflect an unresolved conflict.  My first recurring dream happened when I was in either 6th or 7th grade when my sister, Emilie, left for college.  I dreamed I was riding my bike around Stillwater, OK looking for her but whenever I arrived somewhere she would have just left.  I’ve had other recurring dreams but I wouldn’t say most were the result of unresolved conflict as much as a reflection of a large change in my life.

The biggest challenge might be translating my dreams into writing.  If you’ve ever tried to describe a dream to someone you realize that there is really no language that allows you to adequately detail such a singular occurrence.  I’ll do my best and you’ll just have to promise not to conclude I’m a weirdo.  One especially peculiar aspect of  dreams appears when you “know” you are in a particular place, like your home or work, but it looks nothing like your home or work.  Another occurs when you have a famous person in your dream, let’s say Derek Jeter, but as the dream goes on you realize it is not Derek Jeter but your husband instead.   I’m not saying I’ve ever dreamed about Derek Jeter, that’s just an example.

So, do you remember your dreams?  Are they vivid and strange, like mine?  Please tell me they are! Do you find it difficult to capture them for other people? If you are up for this challenge, I’d love to hear about your dreams.  I’ll be writing down my dreams each morning for a week.  Next week, I’ll be back to let you know if I remembered to write them down and, more importantly, if I’ve managed to decode them and crack the puzzle of my sleeping brain. Oh, boy, wish me luck!

Before you go, I think we’ve all had that I’m-at-school-naked dream at one time or another but I’m wondering if you have work specific dreams as an adult?  I’ve had a couple of library Storytime dreams…most recently I had a Dance Party nightmare!

Everything Must Go!

I’ve been in procrastination mode.  Unfortunately, that’s a fairly standard mode for me.  What needs to get done always gets done but I often require the pressure of a deadline.  The big deadline in my future is the move to California.  As deadlines go it’s not exactly looming.  As I write this I have about 7 weeks until my new best friends, the packers and movers, roll up to my house and touch everything I own.  But, this is a big job.  Getting ready for a move, especially after being in a house for four years, is a very big job indeed!  Now, for those of you who think that four years in a house is not a very long time, I will concede that you have a point.  However, for those of us who tend to pack up and move every two years, it is!  The challenge we are about to embark on meshes perfectly with my approaching deadline: DONATE YOUR OLD CLOTHES AND TOYS TO A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION.

This certainly isn’t the first time we will be donating items.  And, it’s going to involve more than just clothes and toys.  Actually, I’d say every couple of months it seems like we drop off a box or two of clothing and other items that have outlived their usefulness in our lives.  You might think that people who move as much as we do would travel lightly.  Either our items are reproducing like rabbits or we just buy way too much stuff.  Regardless of how it’s gotten to this point, it’s time to take some action.

I started reading a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo which had been previously recommended to me by more than one person.  Confession:  I did not finish it.  I didn’t even get very far.  Not because it wasn’t good.  I may go back to it again at some point.  I just realized that while it seemed like the perfect time for just such a book it was actually the worst time.  At least for me.  I couldn’t even follow the bit of advice that made complete sense to me.  Kondo recommends tidying not by location (for example, your closet) but by category (clothing).    I think this makes a lot of sense and then I immediately did the opposite.  Reminiscent of when I signed up for a gym membership and immediately thought to myself, “I’m never coming back in here.”

The poor kids who are taking their cues from this book have no idea that this is not a singular task that they’ll never have to tackle again.  Little do they know they’ll be pitching stuff the rest of their lives!  Hopefully, they will try to donate and not just trash.  It helps with the guilt of having too much stuff.  Honestly, I’ll probably be pitching stuff up until my previously-mentioned mover friends arrive.  But, I’m motivated and that’s half the battle.  Rachel and I got a good start on the garage a couple of weekends ago.  Our goal was to get her things organized and ready for Lee to move them to Greensboro for her post-college apartment.  We finished that task…now I just need to finish the rest.

garageside

So, is it spring cleaning time at your house?  Are you a pack rat or a minimalist?  I think I’m somewhere in the middle.  Do you have favorite organizations for your donations?  When we lived in Northern Virginia the Military Order of the Purple Heart would put a postcard in our mailbox to let us know when their trucks would be in our area.  All we had to do was let them know (online) if we’d have something to pick up and then put it at the curb. That’s how I like it.  Convenient and easy…like pizza delivery.

Before you go…if you have a hard time deciding what to give away and what to keep, I have a plan for you.  Put your items in boxes.  Stack the boxes in the corner of your garage. Wait four years.  Dust off the cobwebs.  Presto…donations!

Oh, and if your items (or books!) are themselves covered with cobwebs or mouse droppings or have gotten wet, please just throw them away!  No charitable organization (or library!) wants them.  Trust me.

Words Into Action

I’ve spent some time writing blog posts about not-so-important topics and hoping someone will read them.  Now, it’s time to write a letter about an issue that is important to me and hope that someone reads it. WRITE A LETTER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  I’ve never written a letter to any of my congressional representatives.   I did make some calls earlier this year about a certain nominee for Secretary of Education but it appears that no one listened.  I certainly never wrote about anything important to anyone as a kid.  I did write a fan letter to my favorite local dirt track race car driver when I was probably 10-years-old. He sent me a brief note and a signed picture in return. As a teen, I wrote to the movie reviewer at the Daily Oklahoman basically to ask him what I needed to do to get his job!  He wrote back and was both kind and encouraging.  Those letters were definitely in the self-serving column.  Time to do something for someone else. The 100 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU GROW UP book says that even before you can vote you are “definitely old enough to express your opinions and create positive change”.  I’m definitely old enough vote, let’s see if I can create positive change.

Today, April 13, 2017, is the first Take Action for Libraries Day.  I’ve written letters to my Congressman and Senators asking them to commit to saving federal library funding in Congress.  I’m under no illusion that my letter alone will create change.  However, I’m hopeful that my letter joined with the letters, emails and phone calls of others might lead to something positive.  It wasn’t hard to write a letter advocating for libraries.  I believe in libraries and the essential role they play in the communities they serve.


How about you?  Do you put pen to paper to try to affect change?  Have you ever contacted your representatives to share your opinion?  I’d love to hear about it if you have!

Before you go…I’ve included the text of my letter below.  I’ll admit I used one small section from a template written by the American Library Association demonstrating what to say when advocating for libraries but the rest comes from my heart.

It is no surprise that as a Youth Services Librarian I believe in the power of libraries. I’m not sure if you are a library user but, if you are not, let me paint of picture of what happens everyday in our public libraries. Everyone knows that libraries provide free access to books, but a library offers so much more to the community it serves than just books.

Everyday in our libraries children and parents in early literacy story times are encouraging the skills kids need to be ready to learn to read, teenage volunteers are gaining valuable work experience, distance education students of all ages are working on online classes on the only computers they have access to, unemployed and under-employed adults are working on resumes and applying for jobs, students with public school issued devices are using free wifi to complete homework assignments, homeschoolers are accessing online resources and databases and families are attending free cultural and community events. Libraries add value to their communities everyday in more ways than I have time to list. Many people rely on their libraries as a way up, a way out and often the only way forward.

The President has proposed eliminating the tiny amount of federal money ($183 million) provided to every state in the country for small, innovative, community-building grants – hundreds every year– by eliminating the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  In 2016, North Carolina libraries received $4,229,540 for everything from workforce recovery efforts to computer programs for homeless populations. I am also a parent and a military spouse. I support defense spending and understand the necessity for a strong military. However, the $183 million saved by cutting ALL federal funding to museums and libraries will not even begin to help fund a $54 billion increase in defense spending.

Please protect the Institute for Museum and Library Services and fight to save federal library funding in Congress. We must continue to fund education, arts, and libraries, and to fund them well. Otherwise, what exactly are we defending?”

Valerie Suttee

 

We Got Here Just In Time

I’ve struggled to decide how to recap the quest for a good luck charm.  I don’t have one.  I do pick up pennies when I see them…head’s up or not…and I enjoy seeing a rainbow as much as the next person but I don’t consider either of those things to be particularly lucky.  When I think about being lucky it’s hard not to just talk about my family.  I’m fairly sure droning on and on about what a great family you have is equivalent to showing someone all 400 of your vacation photos.  Lucky, blessed, favored, charmed.  Different people call it different things.  So, let the record show that I’m lucky to have the family and friends that I have, to be healthy,  and to have enough money for the things we need.

Instead of searching for one of the previously listed good luck symbols, I’ve decided to craft a new list of the things that make me feel lucky when I find them.

In no particular order:

  1. Good parking spot
  2. Last Coke in the fridge
  3. No line at post office, bank, etc.
  4. Desired shoes in the correct size (bonus if on sale)
  5. No one in seat next to you on plane
  6. Beautiful weather on day off
  7. Wildlife sighting: bunny, deer, bird (sorry, robin, you only count after a long winter)
  8. Photo of self that could be used on social media
  9. No one waiting for library book you need to renew
  10. Watching crucial TV episode before someone spoils it for you
oceansquirrel 4
I like squirrels but they are too prevalent for me to feel lucky to see one.  However, this guy looked like he wanted to have his picture taken.  He’s well aware of how lucky he is to live where he does.

There you have it.  That’s what good luck looks like in my life.  What about you?  What things would make your own list?  I find  the more things in my life that I can label as being lucky the better.  Luck is relative.  I try to give myself permission to find the glass half full whenever I can.  Some days it’s harder than others but nothing feels better than a sign that things are going your way.

Before you go…my family has adopted the saying, “we got here just in time”.  We use it anytime we go somewhere and suddenly a lot of people show up after us.  I suppose this makes us feel lucky but it also helps us emphasize the half-full glass.  Never mind that the last time we went to PF Chang’s we waited an hour, this time, “we got here just in time”.

 

Rockin’ Rollin’

I set a goal for myself way back in January.  Run a 5K.  My first BIG challenge and I did it!  Hours of boring time on the treadmill, miles on the road, a new pair of shoes, an assortment of hip stretches and exercises, a time-tested playlist, one running coach (thank you, Mona!) and a lot of good advice, guidance and support.

By the time Andrew and I rolled into Raleigh late Friday afternoon to pick up my race packet I was finishing up my final day as an employed librarian and fresh off of a wonderful send-off by my coworkers.  I was a tad emotional, so it was nice to have this challenge to focus on.  If you’ve ever participated in a large race series you know something about the Health and Fitness Expo: part packet pick-up, part museum gift-shop for the running set.  I was first introduced to this type of event when I walked the Shamrock Half-Marathon in Virginia Beach.  Andrew was unfamiliar with this particular aspect of the racing industry.  I think he found it both exciting and a little overwhelming.  It always makes me feel like I’ve wandered into an alternate universe where everyone is fit, motivated and runs for fun!  Yikes.  It is quite the spectacle, though, and served as my first reality check as to just what I had gotten myself into.

bib

 

I tried hard to remind myself that I had earned the right to call myself a runner, to be a part of this.  No one made me feel this way.  I was battling myself and that disparaging little voice inside my head.  I guess, I won that argument because the next morning I found myself in corral 8 waiting for the start of my first official 5K.

startselfie

When I registered for the race I had to estimate my finish time.  The time I gave was overly optimistic and so when I received my corral 6 assignment I was worried that I would be starting with much faster people.  So, I ended up closer to corral 7 which then morphed into corral 8.  However, it quickly became apparent not everyone was as worried about being in the correct corral.  Walkers in the front corrals, sprinters in the back.  I ended up running around people and stepping aside for others. When will I learn that time spent worrying is time wasted?

Once we actually started I could feel my anxiety release.  It was a relief to finally get going.  This was really no different from any other training run.  It also served as a refreshing reminder that runners come in all shapes and sizes.  I trained in coastal Carolina and the rolling hills of Raleigh provided a challenge to my run-the-whole-thing goal.  But, I allowed myself to just relax and keep moving.  As I climbed the first long, low hill I could hear Lee in my ear, “Accelerate up the hill when others slow down.  That’s where you make up ground”.  Which, I think is probably great advice if your goal is anything other than just surviving. I quickly realized that if I wanted to run most of the race I’d need to walk the hills.  Luckily, there weren’t too many.  I’d like to be clear here, Lee did not give me that advice for this particular race, I’ve just heard him say it before.

I can’t say the time went quickly but I played my regular playlist and pressed on.  I know that part of the fun of the Rock ~n~Roll series is the live music but I needed my music.  There was comfort in knowing how much time I had left in the race based on where I was in my playlist.  I listened to music when I trained to walk my first half-marathon.  It motivated me.  Sometimes it was the only thing that motivated me, especially on the longer walks.  The day before that race I picked up my race packet and I was instantly anxious when I realized that headphones were not allowed on the course.  Now, I’m a rule-follower.  It’s who I am.  So, I followed the rules.  You are already probably well ahead of me in this story and know, of course, that I was basically the only person who did NOT wear headphones during the race.  I walked the entire 13.1 miles alone with my thoughts and without an accompanying soundtrack.  Fun.  I did that race again and, you are correct if you’ve guessed, that I listened to music that entire race.  Sorry, that’s a long story just to say, not without my music! Never again.

One of the worries I had while I was training was my hip.  When I first started I had some issues with my knees.  Luckily, those were short-lived.  Unfortunately, my right hip, or more precisely, my right IT band was not loving my transition from couch to 5k.  I endured a lot of painful runs and even more painful days following runs.  I became well acquainted with a foam roller and got better at stretching but many of my runs were still painful.  So, I was more than pleasantly surprised that as I ran I had no hip pain. Maybe it was adrenaline.  Maybe all of my preparation and foam work helped.  Maybe I was just lucky.  Doesn’t really matter.  All I know is that running without hip pain is so much better than running with hip pain.

As much as I’d love to impress everyone with a remarkable time, I’ll be keepin’ it real.

results

 

I would have liked to have finished under 40 minutes, but I’m happy with the results. When I started this challenge I was more interested in finishing than in putting up a particular time, and finish I did.  I will admit to being somewhat emotional as I made my way toward the race start.  I’m a pretty unassuming person (not sure how that squares with writing a blog about my own life and expecting people to read about it–I’ll leave you to discuss that later) but I let myself feel a bit of pride and, dare I say, accomplishment for having even gotten to that point.  Approaching the finish line my primary emotion was relief.  Seeing my kids cheering me on motivated me to pass the lady running in front of me.  I felt like I had a good final kick but my finish photo looks like I’m barely strolling!  Ah, how the way we imagine ourselves doesn’t always align with reality.  Kind of like how, in my head, I still look 30 and then I walk by a mirror.  Don’t worry, young’uns, age will come for you, too!

finish

The best part of the race?  When it was over.  Is that true for all runners?  Does anyone actually enjoy the race during the race?  I’m asking honestly.  I’ve considered running another 5k, but upon reflection, I think I’ll stick to walking and leave the running to someone else.  Thank you for your encouragement.  I couldn’t have done it without you.  I told you I’d do it and because of that I did.  My friend, Ofie, actually made the trip up to Raleigh and ran it, too!  We didn’t find each other before the race but we caught up after.  In fact, she took the photo of me “sprinting” across the finish line.

familyrace
Andrew, Speed Demon, Ofie, Elisabeth

Can I admit now that there were several times during the process of completing this challenge that I was harboring some serious regrets?  In the end, I’m glad I did it.  This blog has served an interesting purpose in my life.  It’s pushed me to push myself and I’m better for it.  Unfortunately for you, dear reader, now that I’m officially unemployed, you’ll probably be hearing more from me.  I can only spend so many hours a day cleaning out my garage. Thanks for reading along.  If you’d like to get emails notifying you when a new post is published just click the FOLLOW button and do anything they ask you to…within in reason, of course.

Before you go…I’ve discovered that I’m an angry runner.  You may be more familiar with this concept in reference to the term “angry drunk”.  I myself am not an angry drunk.  I can honestly count on one hand the number of times I would have even qualified as being drunk and I can tell you I’m more of a giggler than a jerk.  But, during the course of training I discovered that the songs that motivate me the most during a run are not the fun, inspirational ones. Apparently, I run best with a chip on my shoulder.  I need the Gym Class Heroes to tell me I’m a fighter, Busta Rhymes to yell at me, and Eminem to feed some unresolved respect issues I didn’t even know that I had.  I’m not sure what that says about me, but I’m not sure I like it.

Lessons Learned

Today is my 49th birthday.  I’m not embarrassed to say that I love my birthday. I’m also not embarrassed to tell people my age. I’ll take every birthday I can get and wear them proudly. Because it’s my birthday, and I share it with Chuck Norris…you read that right, Chuck Norris, I decided that I would recap some of the things I’ve learned since this adventure began a little over two months ago.   So in no particular order:

1.  If you want to ensure you do something, tell a lot of people.  This is not new but I believe this is the first time I’ve really put it into practice.  One day, I was talking to my sister on the phone and I said I had to go and get on the treadmill.  She said, “I wish I could make myself do that.” Well, tell a bunch of people you are going to run a 5K and you can.

2.  I can run for 22 minutes straight.  That might not seem like a lot but, trust me when I speak for non-runners, that it feels like a long time.  The Couch to 5K program starts by alternating walking with jogging for small amounts of time that increase in duration.  Now, I just run, no walking breaks.  And I can do it. I am  decidedly a turtle on the course but slow and steady wins the race…or at least allows me to run without stopping.  If you are interested in starting to run, I highly recommend the Couch to 5K app.

3.  Just because your first cake from scratch turns out ok doesn’t mean your next one will.

4.  I’m delighted and embarrassed that people read the blog. It’s amazing how contradictory a single set of feelings can be. I work hard to make the posts relatable and hopefully enjoyable so why, when someone mentions they read it, do I feel like crawling under the covers. I’m incredibly honored that you read the blog even if I turn bright red if you talk to me about it. Please keep reading AND telling me you read it.

5.  Get out of your own way.  Putting yourself out there is scary.  I’m a private person.  Starting a blog and trying to honestly convey my thoughts and feelings about life is not really in my comfort zone.  I think it’s safe to say that feeling vulnerable or, more likely, avoiding feeling vulnerable is the cause of a lot of fear and anxiety.  While I’ve enjoyed writing each of the posts, when it’s time to push that publish button my inner critic goes into full gear. “Why would anyone want to read this?”  “You are embarrassing yourself.” “No one reads this anyway.” I’m sure you have a similar voice that speaks to you when you put yourself out there.  Stop listening to it.

Before you go…I also share a birthday with Carrie Underwood, my fellow Oklahoman; Martellus Bennett, a professional football player and owner of  The Imagination Agency which is dedicated to encouraging kids to pursue their dreams; and Jon Hamm-good looking AND funny!  Just to keep it real I feel compelled to mention that Osama bin Laden was also born on March 10.  Unfortunately that’s usually the way life works.  If you get Chuck, you also get Osama.

Needles, Shanks & Irrational Fears

This challenge brought up a bit of an irrational fear of mine.  I don’t like needles.  Not in the I’m afraid of shots way, although I don’t love those either, but more in the I’m going to step on a needle! way.  I don’t think I’ve ever stepped on a needle before but apparently it’s a real concern in my deep dark subconscious.  It could be related to listening to multiple tellings of Lee’s childhood story of getting a thumbtack stuck between his toes.  I understand a thumbtack is not the same thing as a needle but the pointy end makes them close cousins. I also have some vague memory of my Mom getting a needle stuck in her foot.  Not even sure if that’s a fact or an alternative  fact but it’s in my brain anyway. Whenever my kids wanted to do some kind of craft that required pins or needles I was probably not very encouraging.  I was pretty sure that some carelessly supervised pin or needle was going to slide itself comfortably into the fibers of our carpet and lie in wait for it’s unsuspecting victim.

In addition to my needle issue, I did have a couple of other challenges to overcome.  I could not find a garment that needed a button replaced.  I also could not find a sewing kit (possibly linked to the previously stated needle phobia).  However, I did persevere.  After clearing a couple of initial hurdles, I am now fully licensed in the state of North Carolina to sew a two-hole button- at least onto a scrap of fabric. I’m also the proud owner of a new sewing kit.

The 100 Things You Need to Do Before You Grow Up book sometimes offers additional information to help the reader.  I decided that even though this wasn’t going to be my first button I might want to follow their ten helpful steps.button-titlejpg

Everything was moving along nicely.  Each step was concise and easy to follow.  Until I got to Step 8 which I could not comprehend.  Maybe Step 8 is the litmus test for full acceptance into the Button-Sewing Club.  If so, I failed.  However, I did not leave my button unsecured.  I just chose to use the method I’ve used before.

instruction

I was unfamiliar with the term shank in reference to sewing.  If you watch shows about crime or prison you might be similarly confused. I did, however, google it and it does make sense.  It allows for space between the button and the fabric when the garment is buttoned.  My method allows for the same thing, I just didn’t realize what I was doing…or why.

I now have a sewing kit so I am prepared for any future button-sewing.  Plus, this summer I’ll be in California with my own personal button-sewer who can then take ownership of said sewing kit. I’m assuming most of you have sewn a button on before.  If so, were you aware you were creating a shank?  Do you worry about your needles getting away from you and making a new home in your carpet?  Do you ask yourself why you keep reading this?

Before you go…I would like you to know that when sewing my button onto my scrap of fabric I did take the time to cut a buttonhole ensuring that my button is functional and not just decorative. Thanks for reading along.

 

Buttons Are Gross

The latest challenge appears simple on the surface and could easily be dismissed. LEARN HOW TO SEW ON A BUTTON.  I’ve sewn a button or two in my time.  I don’t sew, so any button-sewing for me is strictly in repair mode.  I used to be one of those people who saved those replacement buttons that come with shirts, jackets and sweaters, but after moving several times with a jewelry box compartment filled with buttons for apparel I no longer owned, I stopped.  Maybe I just get rid of clothing before the buttons fall off or possibly when the buttons DO fall off.  (Now, I’m picturing landfills filled with perfectly good shirts just missing one button and feeling a bit of guilt.)

In reality, I don’t wear a ton a clothes that have buttons.  From 2 1/2 until approximately 7 years of age my daughter, Elisabeth, actively disliked buttons.  Functional or decorative.  She wouldn’t wear them, didn’t like it if I wore them, even disliked pillows that had them.  Buttons were “gross”.  Searching for clothing without decorative buttons: easy.  Searching for clothing without functional buttons in reality means your child wears a lot of t-shirts. Not a lot of button-sewing going on at our house during that period of time.  I didn’t stop wearing clothing with buttons to appease my four-year-old but if I didn’t love it, I didn’t wear it.  It wasn’t worth it.  When you have little kids, who has time to button up a shirt anyway! Plus, shirts with buttons also tend to be shirts that require ironing.  I’m not usually organized enough to have a shirt ironed and ready to wear. Lee has always been the chief ironer in our house and ,now that I think about it, he’s probably the primary button-sewer, too.  The Marine Corps prepared him well for a lot of things including button-sewing and ironing.

What about you? Are you someone who saves those replacement buttons and actually uses them?  Are you the person people seek out when they’ve lost a button?  When is the last time you sewed on a button? Any tips for me as I proceed?   I’m off to find a button that needs replacing!  Failing that, I’ll just do some practice button-sewing so that I’m prepared for the future.  I do think this is a good skill for kids to learn.  Maybe I’ll make Andrew sew on a button, too.

Before you go…I’m feeling the need to explain that when I do get rid of clothing, I donate it to the local Goodwill or some other charity organization. I’m not marching to save the trees everyday but I’m not as callous about the environment as it may appear.  Also, today, I’m exactly one month from my 49th birthday and feeling pretty good about the challenges I’ve completed so far.  Thanks for taking this journey with me!  It wouldn’t be the same without you.