Month: September 2012

Ramblings about Reading

Mama’s Bank Account

Today I am sitting back re-reading one of my favorite books- Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes.  To me it is a near-masterpiece of writing.  Some might call it syrupy and stupid but I call it heart-felt and completely lovely.  I own 3 copies of this book.  We are using it for book club in November and I’ve used it 3 other times with continual glee. Part of what gives me such satisfaction is that most have never heard of this divine book and I feel honored to be its little ambassador.

Do you have any books that you champion? I wish I was rich and could purchase copies of all my favorite books and give them with loving inscriptions to all my dear friends.  I’ve made a good attempt at it with Edenbrooke.  I’ve personally given it to 4 people and shared it with 13-15 (your welcome, Julianne Donaldson!).

Some others that I’ve loved to champion:

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Harriott Jacobs

Red China Blues by Jan Wong

Delicacy and Strength of Lace by James Wright and Leslie Marmon Silko

North and South Elizabeth Gaskell

Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

Feeling Good by David Burns

Edenbrooke

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Harriott

Howards End by EM Forster

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Cheaper by the Dozen

My Life in France by Julia Child

(I know there are many more but those first come to mind).

I’m sure there are many more that I champion. Notice I don’t have To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre or Great Expectations on there.  They have plenty of their own championing without my help!

Anyway, this year I have read 33 books (goal is 35 so that will be no problem).  I always make it a goal to read at least 2 books a month- 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction.  I think this makes for a perfectly educated, well rounded human being which believe it or not is my goal!  🙂

Of those 33 books 12 are re-reads! A friend of mine once said that  she had never re-read a book.  I found that amazing!  Most of my adult leisure time, or at least half has been spent re-reading my true loves.   I could read Secret Garden or Anne of Green Gables a hundred times.  I’ve literally had times where I have finished North and South and then started it all over again.  That’s how much I love that book.  To me it is perfection.

I try to leave myself open for new experiences that’s why 21 of my books are not re-reads but I can promise you most of the time I’m secretly yearning for my old favorites.

I often wonder about my life.  About whether I figured out at a young age what I like and who I am or if I’ve just been afraid to take chances.  I don’t know?  Probably some of both.  Do you ever wonder about that?  In so many ways I’m the same person I was in high school.  I like most of the same books, foods, activities (still love to swim!), and still hate being told what to do.  Some things will never change.  Hopefully my sense of fashion has improved since high school…not sure about that one!

I read a book like Mama’s Bank Account and I’m reminded of every other time I’ve read it.  Of who I was and how I’ve grown along with the characters.  I can see a picture of me reading in my AF apartment when I chose it for book club, another of my Aunt Chris’ when we went to visit, another years ago when I was probably looking for a summer read.    I have a book I’ve read for close to 20 years. It has my notes and thoughts. It has my finger prints pulling the edges down.  Tell me any kindle that can give that!

Anyway, I’m going to get back to reading this yummy book!   Love you guys!   What books do you feel you are ambassadors for? Which one’s do you turn to again and again.

 

2 Weeks Post Strabismus Surgery

So its been an interesting couple of weeks for me.  Still have a ways to go before the sutures dissolve and I am back on the mend.  I can’t wait until they dissolve because they itch!  My eyes just feel like I have bad allergies.  Puffy, sore, red, itchy.  Once the sutures dissolve there will be 6-12 months of vision therapy to try and help things stay in their place.  It’s going to be a long road but I’m excited!  To see better.  To see people better.  What can be bigger than that?

Here I was 2 weeks ago:

After surgery in the recovery room

Here I am today.  I think you could say contrast!

Big difference!

I am very grateful for good doctors that treat both conditions and patients.  I’m grateful for new and emerging technologies and how they bless my life.  I’m grateful for my eyes and that they can see at all with all the problems.  I hope they have it in them to see in a new way.  Hope and pray.

The New Year is coming!  I have one race left in October (which I am woefully unprepared for) but also Thanksgiving and Christmas on my own.  And my new townhouse!  That’s a lot of firsts!  I can’t wait to see all of that with my new aligned equal eyes!  Wahoo!

And I hope to someday be able to look all of my loved one’s in the eye and say ‘I love you more than you will ever know’.

 

 

Feeling Beautiful

Now for the last 2 weeks I have felt less than beautiful with my bright red eyes, swollen eyelids, general fatigue and make up restrictions.  I am not the girliest of girls but I’m not a tom boy either.  I’ve had times in my life where I was actually quite fashionable.  When I used to work as a receptionist I was always the cutest and trendiest girl in the office (not saying much in that office but still).  Since I work alone now I am afraid my wardrobe is often sweats, wet hair and I may still have my swimsuit on underneath it all.

I do like feeling pretty and if I had time I would do myself up beautiful every day but that seems kind of silly when it will all be messed up at the gym.   I almost always wear at least a little foundation, eye makeup and lip gloss.  I also wash my hair and gel for air dry curls.  That’s the plan.

However, lately I have not been able to wear make up especially near my eye.  Like I said I’m not a crazy make up person but it does feel weird when you aren’t wearing it when you are used to wearing it. I always feel like my face is very red and I need powder and foundation to lessen that reddening.  So at church on Sunday with a red face, red eyes I felt like some kind of devil woman!   Everyone else said they didn’t even notice but I noticed.

So, anyway, this week I have been thinking about ways to relax.  I do a lot of fun, hard, interesting, exciting things but not many that are relaxing.  Sometimes I wonder if I lack the capability to relax.  There is so much to be done.  I have hard time turning my brain off of the important stuff.  That’s why I’m an insomniac.

Well, today I had a free night and I have been needing to color my hair but am trying to save money before the purchase of my new home (frame went up today!).  So, I colored my own hair.  I have done this twice before with mixed results.  First time great, second time too dark.  Still, neither was a total bomb.

So I went at it!

Here I am dye in my hair. Pretty nervous at this point! Hope it doesn’t turn green!

Eventually I rinsed it out, dried it and then went to work with all of my baskets of products (I try one curl product and give up on it and then another and one more).  I call my vanity my curl product graveyard!  Anyway I tried everything and worked my magic!

Love this hair! Did you know I love big hair? So great!
Love this photo and this hair! May be my new favorite  LOOK AT ALL THE CURLS!

After I finished and looked beautiful in the mirror I felt great!  And you know what?  After a week of thinking of things to help me relax, I relaxed! I felt refreshed, calm, happy, and beautiful.  What a great thing!

Although this could be bad.  How many times can I dye my hair in one year!

Isn’t it great when such a small thing can make you feel real joy.

Now I just wish I had a man I could take this gorgeous hair out with.  Sigh… One dream fulfilled at a time! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Two Perfect Foods

My trainer says if you are going to cheat make sure it is ‘Oh heck yeah’ cheat.  No lame brownie from a store.  No dime ice cream.  Something that is really good! Being on day 5 of Jenny Craig this becomes even more important as my cheats are few and far between.

Here are 2 recent discoveries and the best thing is they aren’t necessarily that bad of cheats but oh are they good!

1. Cocoa Metro Drinking Chocolate

For years I have been on the hunt for the perfect chocolate milk.  Almost all chocolate milks have corn syrup and corn starch added in- yuck!  It has a gritty, chalky taste to me.  I am perhaps hyper-sensitive to that kind of taste.  Most people probably don’t even notice it, but it is like runny glue to me. It’s why I hate protein drinks or bars.  I have tried so many different kinds and they all set my gag reflex off.  (And  please don’t tell me that I will like your kind…Heard that before!).  I figure people were healthy decades before protein drinks so I can go without!

Anyway, I have tried just about every kind of chocolate milk and hot chocolate concoction out there and so far nothing has been able to beat good old Hershey syrup and milk…until today .

I found the Cocoa Metro Drinking Chocolate- yes, its not only chocolate milk but drinking chocolate.  Look at the ad:

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Holy cow was it good! I like one reviewer said ‘this stuff is crack for chocolate fans’. Another said ““It actually tastes like chocolate—not some weird amalgam of chemicals—with a touch of vanilla to balance it out.”.  That is so true.  It is strong but still a milk chocolate flavor. The vanilla does come out but mostly it is just chocolate deliciousness.  It is thick but not so thick it feels goopy. You can tell the milk is really good too.  Some chocolate milks have a background sour milk taste.  Not this.  Its fresh and creamy. Perfect.

Seriously one of the best things I have ever eaten (or drunken. Is that a word? ). I wish I could get the liter jars but it will definitely be in my Harmons shopping cart again. Wish I could buy in bulk! (Luckily I can see the Harmons from my apartment!) Wow!

2. Honeycrisp apples.  Every year I live for these apples.  Some apples claim to be ‘like honeycrisp’ (Envy, galla, you know who you are) but alas nothing can beat my honeycrisp.  They are a perfect food.  Crisp, tart, sweet, delicious. I have literally been dreaming about them for months and anxiously awaiting their return, looking longingly at the apple section but none until today!

Last year I gave them away as gifts to friends and once they tasted one they eagerly awaited my next visit and the presentation of the honeycrisp.  They are expensive.  I spent over $10 on a bag today but worth the price.  Holy cow! I literally yelped in the supermarket when I saw them.

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So while I’m eating my frozen meals I will be supplementing them (its part of the program) with fresh veggies and my delicious honeycrisps! What more can a girl ask for?

Oh and I might get a drinking chocolate every now and then (doesn’t that sound sophisticated?)

Seriously hunt these products down.  You won’t regret it!

(And yes, if either Metro Chocolate or the honeycrisp people want to send me samples I will gladly accept and plug their fabulous products 🙂 )

Aren’t the simple joys the best?  Whoever said you can’t be excited about food and really love it while dieting is crazy!

No to Online Dating

This is not news to my facebook friends but I thought I would explain why I recently said no to online dating.  Every 3 or 4 years I get desperate and try online dating again.  I see friends that it has worked for and think ‘why not?’.  Then it always drives me crazy.  I just never seem to be able to get any one to look at my profile or chat with me.  This is super depressing but I finally realized that I don’t think the system is for me.

Here’s my problem with online dating.

You start out with a huge pool of people creeps, normals, exceptionals and everything in between. Now you can take the approach of one of my friends and just date everyone in her area but I am personally not willing to risk the creeps and idiots.

That aside there has to be some way of winnowing things down to people who might be compatible.  How do you do that? Well, online dating would suggest you use a variety of filters to narrow characteristics of the man you want to date.   They offer a number of categories such as appearance (height, weight, color hair, ethnicity, race), money, job, activities, religion, hobbies etc.

This is where I have a problem. An online profile is basically just a resume for dating and ask any HR rep, they will tell you  resumes show almost nothing about a real worker’s potential.    Everything can be right on paper and be completely wrong. Its not until you meet the person in an interview that you get a feel for who they are and if they might work.

The problem is that when looking for a partner in life the qualifications don’t really matter or tell you much.  In a job at least the filtering process should guarantee a certain level of skills and abilities.  Unfortunately the characteristics of a compatible spouse is pretty hard to pin down.  We all think we have ‘must haves’ but when presented with the right person they often are completely unexpected.  What matters is that chemistry and spark.  Even in just my friendships I can’t put a finger on why I am friends with some and not others.  My friends are very different but they all have a chemistry with me and we just work together.  Pretty ephemeral concept to put in a search engine.

For instance, my parents have almost nothing in common as far as interests, hobbies, even personality traits.  There isn’t an online dating service out there that would match them up.  Yet, 35 years have come and gone and they are a good match.  They are a good balance to each other.  In the world of dating you are trying to find a compatible spirit.  Someone who thinks the way you do and wants the same things you do or at least supports your choices and desires.  That is pretty hard to work into a search filter…

So instead we are left with stupid differences that don’t matter much at all such as I don’t like heavy metal music, horror movies or fantasy novels.  Does that mean I could never love a person who likes these things? Of course not, but they are the only filters I’ve got to use.

Basically online dating forces you to look for someone who is exactly like yourself.  Who has the same interests, beliefs, hobbies etc because that’s the only filters you’ve got! I guess you could look at people who are the opposite of what you like but that doesn’t seem good either?   What fun is dating someone exactly like you?  Who is really married to someone just like themselves and how boring would that marriage be?

The other problem is that everyone ends up being the same, and the different one’s are usually pretty scary.  This further dilutes any power of the search filter. How do you sort things out when almost every answer is identical?  Every guy likes the outdoors (I’m not a camper) and being active(whatever that means).  Every girl likes to read, travel, hang out with friends.   How anyone, man or woman, picks a profile and says that person looks worth contacting is beyond me?

In the end, you are forced to focus on superficial things like appearance, education or income.  And we all know these are huge determinants of great character and a worthy mate…

I assume that men are forced to do the same thing because I never get any interest in my profile.  I think it is because I am honest about being a full figured girl.  That removes me from the superficial filters, which in reality is the only one any of us have got.   I have tried online dating 4 times in my life (like I said I get desperate) and I have never had a guy contact me that was legit and interested.  Never and I really do try.  I have never had anyone respond to my inquiries.

So, I’m done.  No more.  I will just have to meet people another way.

I hope my friends will set me up with their friends and do some of the matchmaking for me!  I am also super active in my community whether it be swimming, working out at the gym, volunteering for Mia Love campaign, book club, my 10 year BYU reunion committee, 3 callings at church, and volunteering for festival of trees…There is no more time to do more!

I’m really excited about a company I recently heard about called Utah’s Matchmaking that hosts events for 30+ singles.  They have a weekend in October with 4 dates and I hope I get picked!  It would be a really fun way to actually get to know people.  Plus, it would just be fun anyway.

The right guy will come along, if it is in God’s will, and I just know it is not going to be through online dating for me.  Glad it is worked for so many of my readers and friends but it is just not authentic enough experience for me.  Even speed dating is better than online because at least you get to look into a date’s face and get an idea for who they might be.

I have to be able to look into someone’s eyes, see their smile, and find out what they really want out of life.  If they happen to like music I do or swimming so much the better but it does not matter to me.

So there you have it.  No more online dating for Rachel!  (Remind of this post in a couple of years when I get desperate)

Carousel of Progress?

Today is a lazy Saturday with not much to do and I found myself pondering.  Here’s an interesting question-

Do you look at history as a history of progress or one of regression?

Here’s what I mean:  At school, history was always shown as a history of progress.  We started out as caveman ended up as civilized human beings living together.  We started out with strict classes and slavery and learned from those mistakes. We went from strength and money meaning everything to individual rights being guaranteed for all.

Certainly if looking through purely ease of living and technology we can see progress.  Where once we had to work so hard for water, power, and proper sewers, now we take those things for granted.  Now I can get to Tokyo in a day of travel . I can work from home with people all around the world.  I can interact with friends, even date from my own home.  Progress…

But then there is another narrative.  At church we often hear about how the signs of the times have produced a wicked generation.  That pornography, attack on the family, and sin are approved even encouraged.  That in previous eras right was protected and enshrined and Satan has done his best to muddle our modern sensibilities.

Even if you take away the religious element there is still a narrative of regression.  For instance, the philosopher Martin Heidegger  believed that industrialization had hammered the humanity or ‘being’ out of each of us so that what was once of great value is now just a product.  He told a story of a boy who looked at a moon.   His mother believes the moon was God or where God lives.  The boy responds ‘Its just a big rock’.   (I couldn’t find the exact quote so Heidegger scholars be nice.  I am certainly not one).

In other words, what was once spiritual, wonderful, magical has now been turned to its bare minerals, its menial existence and usefulness as a product to be sold.  Technology has in many ways made us cold and turned people into boxes instead of the individuals we were so reliant on for survival in earlier ages.  Regression…

(Heidegger was also sympathetic to the Nazi party so take it for what you will).

I don’t know if its still there but Disneyland used to have a show called ‘A Carousel of Progress’. This ride takes you from one vignette of family life in 1900, to 1920, to 1950s to the millennium.  It leads with the song ‘There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow just a dream a way’.  Cheesy I know and nice in theory but I think the truth is more muddled.  We certainly haven’t made much progress in war, hate, divorce, poverty and despair, etc.

A pessimist could argue such a ride should be called ‘The Carousel of Repeat Offenses’.  To use the cliche, ‘history is bound to repeat itself’, and it certainly has.  We seem to never learn but that wouldn’t make for a very chipper ride! 🙂

I do appreciate the optimism of Walt Disney’s view.  It is a very happy, if possibly inaccurate, way to look at the world.

Anyway, what do you think?  How do you look at history- progress or regression?  This has been a topic I’ve always wondered about.  I remember discussing it with one of my young woman’s leaders and she looked at me like ‘Whoa…I have no idea what to say in response’.  I got that a lot back in the day!

Perhaps it depends on what lens you are looking through? For example, I doubt the native American’s would see history as one of progression!

Many people I know look with equal nostalgia at both the simpleness of the past and the ease of living promised in the future.  Woody Allen captured much of this type of yearning for the past in his wonderful movie Midnight in Paris.  Look at our recent infatuation with the 60’s and its Mad Men culture? Do we not sometimes look at the past and think ‘if only things could be like the good old days?…’.

Progression or Regression?

I suppose the answer is probably somewhere in between but I think most of us  have to decide which way we lean towards in our views of life, politics, and history.

Nobody ever reads my thoughtful posts but on the off chance they do- what do you think?  I tend to side more on the side with the realists but not so much that I lose hope for a bright future.

Carousel of Progress

PS.  I love Disneyland…

Foods I Fantasize About

So today I am starting Jenny Craig.   You see,  I’m a tricky dieter because I love to cook but 60-90% of the time I don’t have time to cook.  Plus, I spend all my day at home which means I want to be out, not tempted to work, in the evening.  I finally decided I needed to find something that was easy.

I had always been skeptical about meal diet plans but what sold me is that with JC you get to supplement the meals with your own dairy, veggies and fruit from the very beginning.  You also only eat exclusively JC meals for about 4 weeks and then you reduce to 6, 5, 4 days ect.  I can still have the bountiful baskets with fresh fruits and vegetables along with the packaged meals. A nice combination.

I also thought the weekly consultations was very attractive, at a great price (for a 8 weeks consultation at my gym you get a year at JC).  The meal is personalized.  Like because of my goals and exercise regiment I’m actually eating 1800-2000 calories a day.  This surprised me but gels with what my trainer has been telling me (my reflex is to starve myself when I get diet desperate).

We will see how things go but I’m pretty determined.  I am still going to eat socially but you work that out with your consultant.  Like I had a treat at the wedding I went to tonight but that was discussed and worked into the plan.  Next Saturday I will have breakfast with book club and we will work that into things.   Love!

So, in the meantime I thought I’d tell you about some food I routinely fantasize about when dieting.

1.  Any food from New York including bagels with shmeer, greys papaya hot dogs with grilled onions and sauerkraut, deli sandwiches, pizza (one time I had a thin crust pizza with homemade mozzarella ricotta and sliced meatballs! Been dreaming about it since)

2. Hawaii food- shaved ice…., Ted’s Bakery, Dole whips, anything at grass skirt grill, or cafe haliewa. Shrimp truck shrimp,  fresh pineapple, mangos and coconuts cut open from the stand, thai food, more dole whips

3. All food Italian- maybe it was going to Italy when I was 17 but I love Italian food.  I love pizza, spaghetti and meatballs (my favorite food and they kind of saved my life at one point…), stuffed shells,just good pasta with butter and garlic, caprese salad…sigh

4. Indiana food- pork tenderloin sandwiches that the pork is twice as big as the roll, Mug-n-bun, frozen custard, homemade noodles, chicken and noodles, sweet cream pie, tomatoes with cottage cheese and salt, goulash, cheesy potatoes, lots of potatoes! Love really hot crunchy french fries (and yes Dad I’ve occasionally dipped them in my ice cream!)

5. Other favorites- asian noodles (ramen, pho, whatever), Bombay house Indian food (where I’ve always wanted to go on a date and haven’t to this point), crispy moist fried chicken (harmons is so good),  Cafe Rio pork salad, good sushi (love this place in Midvale called Nagoya Sushi), good barbeque that isn’t too fatty with a good tangy slightly sweet sauce, biscuits and gravy, perfect grilled cheese, light fluffy buttermilk pancakes, fresh baked bread with butter, tacos in almost any form, Maryland blue crabs, all thanksgiving food, my Mother’s pie- any flavor, greek food.  A really good burger or sandwich.  I think I could eat jamba juices every day of my life and never get sick of them.   Our German Christmas meal, pastries, good cheese and ice cream.

6.  A really good steak medium with herbed butter and a baked potato, perfectly roast chicken, turkey.  Love me some meat (could never be a vegetarian).

Oh and I love the scotch kisses at See’s.  Could do without everything else but I love those scotch kisses…

Ok.  Those are some of the best things I’ve ever eaten. There you go! That was fun and I didn’t eat a thing…