Task 1 *successful*

You know what a great way to celebrate the end of the first week of school is? Gnocchi and pesto!

I’ve gotten a rap around here for being adventurous with the kinds of food I’ll try making, but I’ll let you in on a little secret:

I am terrified of making gnocchi.

I think food science and even science in general is fascinating, so I usually have some understanding of what should be happening when I’m making something. In theory, I have a fuzzy idea of how gnocchi are made, but when I’ve tried to actually make them it seems like the whole thing is governed by some voodoo magic with no rhyme or rhythm, and I’ve ended up with globs of mushy-and-yet-somehow-still-crunchy potato.

So I’ve avoided attempting this potato-y goodness for some time now, but no more! I’d originally planned to try out a batch for my dinner on Thursday before unleashing it for the Friday meal, but this week’s communal meal was a bit different.

We had a few guests from Sacramento’s Midtown Friends, a Quaker congregation we’re loosely connected to. I admit, I kinda wanted to impress our artsy friends, so I went a little…overboard. Fresh baked bread, herb crackers, hand-chopped pesto (or “substitution pesto”; made with mozzarella and toasted almonds instead of parmesan and pinenuts, but it still tasted good!) as well as the gnocchi.

I had good intentions to get it all prepped Thursday night, but I was tired. After already having to discard fresh made cheese because I forgot to put the citric acid in early enough (and I don’t trust mozzarella that has formed a rind overnight…) I was a little more okay with the prospect of failure, so I bravely stepped out and finished making them Friday morning.

And you know what? They were freaking fantastic. I popped a few in my mouth after boiling, and man those were good! Not quite as excellent once they’d been refrigerated and re-heated for the meal, but not too shabby.

In fact, there was none left for a picture, and not even any pesto left either!

Good things happen when I venture a little out of my comfort zone….

Which reminds me! I am very much a list person. It’s partially because I love the feeling of getting to check things off and watch my list shrink, and partially because I’m very visual and seeing things written down on paper and being able to organize them there works much better than trying to keep it all in my head (and is less stressful when I know that I’m forgetting something).

So it may not come as any surprise that I’m a big fan of setting goals, and mine usually revolve around the school calendar. I’ve realized though that many of them were set up wrong, being either too specific (“sew more”; But what if I want to paint?) or far too vague (“get in shape” How? What would that look like every day?), or just waaaaay too many so that I end up frustrated and overwhelmed and give up in a couple of weeks.

So this time, I’m keeping it pretty simple. I automatically limited myself to five, which may sound like a lot, but I’ve been known to write up a list of twelve or fifteen, so this is a massive downgrade.

Continue Public Humiliation Diet, and have some form of physical activity for half an hour a day.

There’s no point messing with something that is already working, but I’m adding on the specifics for physical activity since it’s my biggest weakness and will probably help me break out of this plateau I’m in – I feel like I’ve been at 193 forever.

If the exercise is P90x, fantastic! But if it’s something else then that’s still great, because it’s better than nothing (which is what I tend to do if I don’t do my “official” workout).

Do something creative for at least 30 minutes everyday.

My days seem to go so much better when I have some sort of creative outlet, whether it’s musical, textile, or visual. I don’t have to do a painting a day or spend hours practicing the piano, but I need to do at least some everyday.

Upload and organize all notes/handouts/class-related information to Evernote.

I am really, really unorganized. I have horrendous handwriting. I all too often write notes in class and never look back on them. By forcing myself to type out/upload all of my school stuff, I not only have to read through it again, but have access to it pretty much everywhere and it’s much easier to work through typed text than my own writing.

Spend fifteen minutes a day cleaning and de-cluttering my room and the common area.

See above about the unorganized part. It always amazes me when I do finally pick everything up that it really didn’t take that long. If I put in just a little bit a day, with any luck it won’t get nearly as bad.

Once a week, do something that scares/challenges/stretches me.

That’s what this post is! This is the one I left purposefully vague so that I have a bit of wiggle room. I often feel like I stagnate during the semester, dropping everything that doesn’t revolve around school. That’s actually the running theme this time around; get my school crap in order and keep working on growing personally and working with my community.

I came up with this list last week, and the more I’ve thought about them, especially the last one, the whole prospect excites me so much that I already have the next two or three weeks planned out. There’s something great about both being able to think up things that I want or ought to do, but also know that I don’t have to take them on all at once.

Monday draws ever nearer

It’s been a long week. Last weekend was another family get together, which meant lots of food and very little sleep.

Maybe it’s my old age, I just can’t do what I used to be able to… 🙂 I’ve finally hit the big two-oh, and am officially no longer a teenager, thank you very much! Birthday shenanigans were spread out over Wednesday, Thursday (my actual birthday) and Friday, and overall it was pretty laid back and relaxed. After last year’s big stressful party and next year, well, I’ll be legal to drink, a year off is perfectly fine with me!

I’ve found that over the years I’ve grown from my birthday being a really selfish day, composed mostly with my concern for getting lots and lots of presents and getting to do everything I wanted all day, to a much more thoughtful and thankful time.

I’m glad to have Daniel back, though I haven’t gotten to see him much since I’ve been housesitting this week.

I enjoy finding awesome little shops around town, gems buried in the monotonous sands of this small backwoods town, and getting to know and befriend their creative and brilliant owners.

I’m happy to report a surge in my creativity, including learning my first piano song in a decade. I’d hoped to have it learned by my birthday but didn’t quite make it. This was recorded this morning, and though it isn’t perfect, I dare say it’s not bad.

I’ve even picked my paintbrushes back up and made a triad of paintings for our common room. I wish I’d taken a close up of the background for the leaf- I smudged together purples, blues, and greens to get that effect, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. But I am kind of a color nut 🙂

I now former coworker sold me her sewing machine at probably 10% of what she paid for it, which is fantastic since mine was starting to wear out, and I’m cutting out the pattern for my first dress; it’s nice to have a fully functional machine when trying something new.

I’m even replenishing my homemade gift bow supply, since I have a few magazines laying around that just beg to be made into something pretty.

I truly am thankful for all that creativity, if a bit annoyed that it’s mainly popped up in the last week before school starts. Argh.

Speaking of which, I am incredibly, incredibly glad that our library has tons of Terry Pratchett books. He is by far my all time favorite author, and my towering stack of his books makes me smile everytime I see it; if I’m going to have to do all that homework and mandatory reading, I really ought to have some fun reading in store too.

I am such a reading nerd. Oh hey! I’m thankful my mom didn’t give up on me when I took ages to learn how to read. My life would be significantly less enjoyable if I hadn’t been instilled with a love of reading.

Though textbooks are a stretch even for me

But I think more than all of this, I am thankful to have family, friends, and friends-that-are-like-family that are there for me, tell silly stories about me, come in to visit me on my last day of work, congratulate me for losing weight then make me keep the entire huge (and delicious!) chocolate cake they made for my birthday, play Wii sports with me for hours because we’re both too competitive to give up, and let me pretend I have a cat for a week.

Awwwwwww

Yes, I have my fair share of “friends” where every time we talk it’s all “oh-em-gee I love you! Miss you sooooo much!” but never return my calls/facebook messages/emails/texts/etc or consistently flake on me whenever we arrange to hang out. And as frustrating as those relationships are, I think it makes me appreciate the solid ones I have that much more.

I’ve slowly become more and more of a believer in the power and importance of community, specifically that which is created by deep and meaningful friendships, so it makes me extra happy to have that in my life.

So here’s to you, all of you, you know who you are. Thank you for making my birthday wonderful, and my life in general better.

P.S. If you’re interested in a social experiment on community, try checking out Dan 3.0. The whole thing seems really goofy at first, especially with the commercials and whatnot, but the more I’ve watched and paid attention the more I’ve been intrigued by the whole thing. A prominent vlogger opening up and not only involving his own community in his life, but sharing beyond the charismatic, bubbly persona that he’s previously put out there, even going as far to show himself melting down (I certainly wouldn’t have the courage to do that!).

Between some of the things he’s said, some of the commentary from his network of fellow vloggers, and just experience of being his age, it’s pretty clear that he really doesn’t know what to do with his life. But instead of getting depressed or apathetic, he’s turned to his viewers and asked for help, firmly believing that the quarter million of them together probably know more than he does on his own (and with the hope that 4chan doesn’t get word of what he’s doing).

He’s even admitted genuinely not knowing how to cook, and put his meal plan in other people’s hands. It makes me think about how we all have those things, those little weaknesses we hide and don’t really want to admit, and I wonder what it would be like if we admitted them and helped each other. Though that may just be me being idealistic, I am still young after all!

Anyway, rambling done, I need to get some sleep.

I’m Freeeeeee!

As of last Thursday night at 10:40 pm, I am no longer an employee of Baskin Robbins.

Part of the happiness that comes with this vocational shift is that I’m not just moving into another food service, or even retail, job. In fact, with only a year left before student teaching, there’s a pretty decent chance that I may not have to work in food service again.

It was also helpful that on my last night I was visited by several friends, with varying degrees of how much embarrassment they were trying to inflict.

As an added bonus, I’ve been saving up my tips for several months, and now I get to cash them all in, with a little taken out for a pre-semester haircut and buying a sewing machine off a coworker (mine is starting to show its age).

Right after my last night, I ran off to visit Ruth with my parents, with Esther and Nelson coming over as well. It was… a long weekend.

Ruth’s office has a big green wall where she’s insisted that mom and the rest of the sisters all paint a flower, and we forgot to have me do it last time I was around, so I had to fulfill my familial duty.

Before Esther got there, the textile-inclined of us went to a huge fabric outlet store. It was a little overwhelming, and I realized what I newb I am to sewing. I finally settled on a brown, wrinkly fabric for a simple fluttery shirt I’ll be making (no sleeves! I’m not that brave yet), and a nice turquoise knit for a cardigan.

Ruth gave me my wrapped birthday present, which I’m hugely tempted to open, even though I think I already know what it is; it feels definitively book shaped, and there’s only one book I asked for. But, knowing Ruthie, it may be something completely different. Who knows? 🙂

I’ve got some Dr. Who episodes to catch up on with Alannah, house sitting, and a bit of work this week, but without those gaping five and eight hour shifts that seemed to suck up my days, my last week of freedom seems uncannily open.

All that’s left before school is to adjust my sleep schedule back to 6 am mornings (bah humbug) and hope my books get here in time.

I’m sad to see summer coming to a close, but I guess all good things must come to an end and at least this semester isn’t too crazy. The Type A in me is annoyed I didn’t get more done, though I’m more inclined to be thankful for the break from school and getting to be more involved around here.

One Step at a Time

Today I found out when my last day of work at Baskin Robbins is – exactly one week from now, I will be free of shift work. I have a mere two closing shifts, one day shift, and one eight hour shift left before I am a free woman.

Especially after tonight, having a light at the end of the tunnel is incredibly helpful. We were completely, utterly slammed, and I returned home burned in several places, sweaty, and caked in ice cream, hot fudge, and various other toppings. This was the kind of night where by the middle of it I was giving a 10% discount to customers that were friendly and nice.

I gave that discount once.

———————

My body’s finally detoxed from some poor judgment over the last few days; I find it strange that after 19 years of horrible eating habits, eating semi-okay for a few weeks has completely changed what my body can handle. Monday I couldn’t fight off temptation and indulged in my one of my favorite fast food meals.

Funny thing though, after the first two or three bites, it really didn’t taste all that good. I’ve gotten spoiled with herbs and fresh produce. Even Jack looked apologetic.

"This won't have been worth it."

The next night at our communal meal we had this delicious – though super greasy – pizza, and I definitely ate more than I should have. The result was some sort of grease bomb released in my stomach that led me to become very good friends with the toilet the next morning.

At this point, it is actually easier and less painful to eat decently healthy food (even though I’m not perfect and grab a box of mac and cheese for dinner sometimes).

Post-Greasepocolypse I’d tacked on three pounds, which seemed strange, since that’s about 10,000 calories, and that seemed like a lot even for greasy horrible pizza. And then by this morniing it was gone again. It’s easy to peg my body as a simple machine [calories in – calories out = weight gain/loss] but sometimes it just confuses me.

———————

It’s just a few short weeks before I head back to school (my birthday is just around the corner too), and I’ll be able to pay off the last of my fees and expenses once I cash my check. It’s a relief to have that taken care of, but I still don’t really want to go back.

Especially since I tweaked my program, I have to go back and do a couple basic classes. Ugh. To make matters worse, due to budgets or staffing or whatever, there are several classes in my major that are only taught by one person, and all of them are horrible, horrible teachers.

Why do people who want to be teachers end up with horrible teachers? I do not understand this. Some sort of object lesson maybe?

Other than that, my schedule has worked out quite nicely. Only 15 units (I have only had that few twice in my college career), with most everything stacked on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, though I had to fit a night class into Tuesday. Which is fine, since I have to be on campus for work anyway. I do miss the early days though, when I could finagle a seamless schedule with one or two days off a week.

There’s a little teeny part of me that wants to drop out and go be a baker. Or a small scale farmer. A massage therapist maybe. I could find some way to sell stuff I make. Or I could go teach English somewhere crazy.

Have I mentioned that I don’t want to go back?

Okay, fine. Chico’s a great school with a beautiful campus and a (mostly) fantastic teaching program. At least for now, I think this is what I want to do with my life.

But don’t misunderstand; I will bitch and complain for the next nine months.