September 16, 2008

Beef and Barley Soup

Allen and I ended up being is sort of a simple mood tonight, which was good because our soup ended up being pretty simple.

Here's what you'll need:

1lb lean ground beef
2 large onions
2 celery hearts
6 med-large carrots
1 basket baby portobella mushrooms
1 cup pearl barley
good squeeze brags amino acids
large pinch salt/pepper
heavy sprinkle gran. garlic
pinch red pepper flakes
veggie bullion/stock
beef bullion/stock


While beef is browning in the soup pot chop/slice all your vegetables. Add all the veggies except the mushrooms to the soup pot and cook briefly (5-10min). Add mushrooms, water, barley, stock, and other seasonings. Cook for about an hour and enjoy the delicious broth. The original recipe off which this is based called for chopped parsley, but I plain forgot to add it. Allen and I thought it tasted great as is. Just make sure to add the mushrooms as they make the broth taste so much richer. Considering how much I do to spice up normal food (with pesto, olive oil, cheese, red pepper, curry, etc) it was really good to have a simple soup with plain, strong flavors. We nearly ate half the pot in one sitting!

September 15, 2008

funny thing

At work I'm all the time asking "How old are you?" "Do you live by yourself/with your parents?" "Did I actually hear you're married?"

Apparently my coworkers assume I'm a 19-20yo sharing an apartment with a friend. My wedding band isn't invisible (at least not to me), and I didn't realize that dressed in our standard issue french blue shirt I look about 5 years younger than my actual age. Maybe I should keep a few to wear when I'm 40? Seriously, some people think I'm young enough to be surprised that I'm married. I think it's kind of funny.

Does busy count?

Coming into the beginning of fall I've been busier than I would ever have imagined. I have a standing baby-sitting job, another part-time job, volunteer work with the church, household duties (that are actually getting done!)....I still feel like I'm waiting though, like I'm not fully immersing myself into the stream of life. While I know you can't really live just sitting around staring at the computer screen I don't think sheer business is the answer. It can't be about making money to buy more stuff or cramming every house of your day with things to do. I know this because there were plenty of times at school when it felt like I was simply too busy to live. But maybe even this was me obsessing about making the right grades and trying to be a good girl at home and didn't have so much to do with how much I was actually doing. I suppose you could say that I'm still looking for a calling. As a woman I know that there are certain built in aspects of my calling, but as Natalie I want to know what that looks like for me. Maybe part of that means going back to grad school. Honestly that's sort of scary. Grad school means getting reference letters. That means going back to all those professors who waved me off to grad school and admitting that I couldn't stick it out or at least that I changed my mind. In reality I know they probably don't care. Over two years out I'm so far off their radar -new rising stars have taken my place. Even then I don't think they much cared what I did so long I was doing what I wanted to do with the training I'd gotten. At that time though I was so caught up in what I was supposed to do that I sort of lost sight of that. And that's not even the truth. I wanted to go to grad school, but when I got there I wanted to be out of grad school. According to some people I'd made a bad choice of school. According to my parents I'd done the unforgivable. Fortunately for them my younger sister (last I'd heard) is planning to get a doctorate and still has her 4.0. It's a bitter feeling thinking that's all they wanted me for, and now that my sister has so ably stepped into my scholastic shoes they don't need me. Maybe that isn't true, but it certainly feels that way. I don't actually feel resentful about it -more sad that that's all the worth they saw in me. So as you can see, in this search for calling and purpose there's still a lot of ghosts I need to vanquish.

September 12, 2008

If I were Brian Murphy...

Driving around town today I found a picture I would have loved to see on Brian's blog. I say his because I really doubt I could have done justice to it. There's a section of town about 10mins from where I live that is rapidly becoming even more gentrified than before. Parts of it were already expensive but zoikes are the condos flying up! This often means that the old apartments are coming down to make way for their high rent successors. At a corner where this was taking place I saw a sign advertising the upcoming residences.The sign pictures stacks of men's straw panama hats looking like extras straight out of an old Hollywood wardrobe. Grouped closely around to one side of the sign a dozen men in hardhats were taking a break from the day's work. In the background stood the apartments that were going to come down in favor of luxury condos. I wondered if the men grouped around that picture of graceful luxury would eventually be pushed out the area as property values rose in response to the work they were doing. Maybe they already had been. I'm grateful for the development that gives men like this work, but having had my eyes opened somewhat to the ways community development helps, enhances, or isolates conditions of poverty I wanted to know that these men had decent homes of their own -that they were not condemned to be continually awash in the wake of the wealthy. This I saw as I turned a corner in Homewood.

SuperMario plate-runner

I mentioned before that I have an actual job. Just started this week. It's not exactly a very cool job, but the hours and pay are just about perfect. Basically I'm a waitress assistant at a small cafe that serves lunch. Since each waitress has somewhere between 6-9 tables they were getting rushed off their feet during the lunch peak when all the tables are full, and the line is out the door. So I come in four days a week for three hours a day to run plates out to tables, roll silverware, make desserts, and basically just make things go faster. The pay isn't amazing, but then again I have a very part-time job that doesn't require me to work nights or weekends. It's also slightly more interesting than you might expect because it becomes something of a game getting all the plates out the door. I admit sometimes I can still hear my mom saying "You dropped out of grad school to do what?" But one thing Allen and I realized is that now that I'm bringing in a little extra money we can looking at me getting a graduate degree that I might actually use -like a master's in education so I could eventually teach. I even looked up some info on that last night. Even though my BA is in English I'm thinking I'd probably end up looking at elementary education since it's much more broadly applicable, and I tend to be more interested in getting young kids interested in learning. If I change my mind....I can teach for a bit and then get another degree in English education. I must admit that the thought of being in the school of education at any of our local universities makes me cringe. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you can almost feel the stupid coming out the walls. I went to a public university (which is probably where I'd get my masters), and that place was saturated with pc standards like you could hardly imagine. I actually did spend a little time there when I was debating just going straight into a 5th year program. But! For all I know it may be worth it. And if it's not then I can be a double grad school dropout. It wouldn't be the end of the world.

September 9, 2008

more than I thought....

Today after supper I looked around and said "I really haven't gotten that much done today." That's when Allen pointed out I'd been gone babysitting for a friend for some hours. I was just looking at the supper dishes and the single load of laundry I'd gotten washed (not folded and put away mind you), but really I'd also spent seven hours today burping a baby and playing pirates with her big brother. Incidentally I'm now convinced that pirate games and baby sitters aren't silly cliches found only in books. The pirate captain of our ship this afternoon was a man whom a witch had turned into a boy because he was going to chop off her head and arms and legs. The captain didn't seem to mind so much though, and we went exploring for buried treasure and hunted down the bad brown ship. We almost got sunk by an enemy fleet before escaping to Pirate Paradise and the Friendly Haunted House inhabited by a little girl who just happened to look a lot like his little sister. Not long afterwords I went home, and Allen helped me fix supper. I got some clothes washed and ready for my other job which I'll go to in the morning, but more about that later. Needless to say that I'm getting pretty busy. I think I like it, but I may have to change my definition of "getting things done" a little. I'm still not giving up on the laundry though. Grrr. I am woman hear me....yawn?

September 5, 2008

Lead, follow, feminist, whatever

So I was reading the first of all two posts that they have up on the Southern Belle Swing Bash Blog. So there's a synergy between throwing a girl jam and being a feminist? Ok, sure. Then someone else comes along and says "Dude, partner dance. Girls don't need their own jam time." Yeah. Sometimes I don't get these people. Do we have to get political about everything? For my part it makes perfect sense. In general guys get more instruction in the dance class simply because if he doesn't know it neither of you can do it. It doesn't matter a flip how many moves the girl knows because she's not leading. Now, I have always been able to go to our excellent leads and get tips on following -direction, momentum, speed, etc. However, that's not the same as getting together with a bunch of girls who know their stuff and learning how to really polish off whatever your lead is giving you. Is that feminism? Is that dissing the leads? No, it just makes sense.

Suppose your church had been doing a series on dating/courtship/getting to know each other with intent to marry, etc. Suppose at some point an older women took the girls aside for some chat on grooming, manners, emotions, etc. Are the guys going to shout "No, fair. This is a couples thing!" Are the girls going to call themselves feminists because "it's about time selecting the right hemline got fair time with the boys." Jeesh you people. It's the same thing with dancing. If you're going to be a consistent feminist it's hardly egalitarian to say that women have a specific and different role in this (dancing) relationship, and they might benefit from some specific training on how to handle that role well. Hmmm, does Titus come to anyone's mind?

Posting on this might seem a tad silly, but with the debate on Palin heating up it seems really, really ridiculous to start an argument over whether girls should have their own lindy hop workshops on occasion. Don't call it feminism just 'cause it has to do with girls. Don't cry foul when the girls want to have a tip-sharing time. /e shakes head

September 1, 2008

scrub a dub dub

Here to report that I have finally scrubbed out my shower! It's been on my to-do list ever since I noticed a suspicious pink crud accumulating in the corners sometime last week, and tonight I finally bit the bullet and went at it-with a toothbrush even. Took me the better part of an hour, but I think anything left is just stained on there. That's the problem with living in an apartment and having an old shower. It looks dirty right after you've scrubbed it, so unless you're a very virtuous housewife who puts the tub on a regular cleaning rotation it's occasionally hard to tell when stained turns into grimy. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it :D

New Blog Look

Expect this blog to change looks fairly often. While I really love having a "not another cookie cutter blogger template" I've had a hard time settling down to any particular template. I'm always wondering whether x color or design is really me. I'm also the girl who will try on 10 different shirts before going to church before finding one that feels right. Go figure. Anyway, I'll probably do a fair amount of playing around with this before I (maybe) settle down.