Saturday, January 24, 2015

In gratitude

… for moments of quiet.
… for my goofy girl whom I miss already.

… for the opportunity to get a world class education.

… for still occasionally having my Mom read aloud to my brother and I.

… for really funny physics books.
… for cafes where I'm on a first name basis with half the staff.

… for the opportunity to visit home.
… for the option to advance my own goals.

… for fuzzy housemates.
… for friends who struggle with the same challenges I do.

… for nourishing food.
… for the moments of overwhelming joy when I realize how much freedom I have in my life.

… for good weather.
… for advisors that will help me figure out the conflicts in my schedule.

… for the rhythms of life.
… for how much better life goes when we acknowledge those life rhythms.

…  for Saturday morning antics.
… for fuzzy beasties.

Friday, January 16, 2015

A clean happy hippy child

I had a semi-hippy upbringing. I would run around barefoot all summer (maybe spring and fall too), I helped Mom with her organic garden and we composted and such. Not a hardcore hippie upbringing, but enough to teach me the value of not wasting or demolishing natural resources. However, in my teenage years I started backsliding, getting caught up in consumerism and frankly being a bit lazy.

I heard recently some valuable words that reminded me of the importance of living lightly on the land. Pope Francis essentially said that disrespecting the planet and it's occupants is tantamount to disrespecting God, because God created all things. Now you can replace the word god with whatever deity you please to make it meaningful to yourself but the message is the same, the heavy handed way of living is hurting our relationship with our creator (again feel free to substitute your own beliefs, maybe Mother Earth is your creator, not my business to tell you what to believe), and damaging our spiritual selves. I had never really thought about it that way, but it makes sense to me. I feel more grounded and happy when I make things for myself and know they aren't hurting anyone or anything else.

To that end I have started using homemade shampoo and conditioner. I actually tried it for most of my time in Europe when I had to find more heavy things to get rid of and my friend recommended I share her haircare stuff. I agreed and I'm glad I did, it was much lighter and got the job done just as well. It also made my blonde tresses a bit lighter which I don't mind at all. :) I stopped using it when I came home since I didn't have to worry about carrying heavy weight around, but after hearing Pope Francis' point of view I changed my mind.

Here is the very simple recipe:
For shampoo use 1 heaping TBLS of baking soda dissolved in 3 oz of water. Kim taught me to put the baking soda in a 3 oz container right before my shower then add shower water to make it liquid. It's easier to carry and much nicer than dumping cold water on your head. Let that sit while you do all your other shower things, then rinse it out at the end.

For conditioner use a spray bottle of apple cider vinegar and spritz your hair top and bottom when you get out of the shower. You'll smell a bit pungent for half an hour or so after your show then the smell goes away. If you can't stand that then spritz in the shower and wash the vinegar out.

The other part of this system is the soft bristle brush. Brush your hair on all sides for a total of 100 strokes. That spreads the oils on your scalp out for more equal coverage on your hair and allowing the baking soda to get down to the roots. You can do this again whenever your hair looks a bit greasy, but not bad enough for a shower.

Because most shampoos strip too much oil from your hair it will probably take a few showers to start feeling really clean. Your scalp needs time to realize it doesn't need to produce so much oil.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

In gratitude

One of my favorite blogs right now is Hullabaloo Homestead, and the author has this great thing of posting some things she's grateful for. I think that is a wonderful idea, so I decided to follow her example.

…for silly Mom's making bread.

… for job hunt buddies.

…for computers and kitties.

 … sleeping in with the dogs.

…for fresh homemade bread.

…for "my" mountain that can be seen anywhere in the city on a clear day.

 …for warming tea.

 … for cuddly puppies with pretty eyes.

 …for naughty cats that happily sleep where they aren't supposed to.

… for each day being an opportunity to start again.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Satisfying Endings

Haha, it seems this blog gets design makeovers more often than new posts, doesn't it? Making images works is easier for me than writing. Besides the graphic change you'll notice the title and tag line has changed. I felt the "Tazzi, Me, and (former) Guide Puppy makes Three" just doesn't fit my life anymore. I haven't been involved with guide dogs for almost three years now and really my life isn't all about my dogs anymore. The old tag line doesn't work either because among other things the Reflux Disease isn't bothering me anymore. So I say a fond and loving farewell to that tiny snapshot of my life. Don't worry though, all the posts are still there.

What else has been going on besides the blog title change? Well I just got back from four months spent in Europe. I spent 2.5 months in Croatia studying abroad, went to Venice twice, visited Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, then Rome, Paris, London, Barcelona, and Frankfurt. In total I was gone for just shy of 4 months. There are many stories, but it's too much to write in one big chunk, but I'm sure they will come out one at a time as life reminds me of them.

The other ending that can't come fast enough for me is the end of school. This is my very last semester of university for a while, thank goodness! It's been fun, but I am so ready to move on to something else. Don't remind me of any of this six months after I graduate though since I'm sure I'll be mourning the student life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mothers and Daughters. Sticks and String.

Mom's picture. All I can take credit for is cutting up all those sticks in the background.

My Mom and I had been really bad at getting along this summer. I guess I should have expected this since it's really the first time I've been home and felt like an adult and am used to acting like one. Mom on the other hand was still used to having children, not adult children. There was yelling. There was arguing. There were tears. There was much complaining behind backs (ok I complained, sorry Mom). However about two weeks ago I was house sitting and found myself missing her, then I'd see her and we would yell. We repeated this a couple of time until we had an almighty full blown yelling and crying match in which we established at neither of us actually like being yelled at, and that we had really different prospectives on some things we hadn't even thought to talk about. After that things have gotten better.
We have this great game were she wants to use me as a knitting model and I try to mess it up

Where do the sticks and string come in? As every single person who has ever met her knows, my Mom loves to knit. It is her relaxation and I think one of the ways she likes to show us love. After listening to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's book Cast Off on a whim I started trying to look at knitting in a different way. She talks about knitting as a journey, and one of her characters uses it to find her community so I thought why can knitting be a language as well? So I am trying, for the sake of our relationship, to speak my Mom's language. I still can't say I love knitting, and I doubt I will ever be a capital K knitter, but I do feel like something is different this time than every single other time I've picked up the needles. This time it isn't actually about knitting, neither the process or the product, but about rebuilding my relationship with my Mom as mother and adult daughter rather than mother and girl child. It's a way to reach past our intellectual head banging and realize that we do actually still have a really good emotional connection, but (due to how much I have changed while being away at school and how overworked she is) we just don't know how to tap into it anymore. I don't know if I'll stick with it while I'm in Europe or when I'm back at school, but it's still a nice way to talk with my Mom at home…with no yelling allowed.
Usually my attempts to mess it up ends up with a better picture than se was thinking of. Maybe it's time to reevaluate my strategy.

Just as a matter of interest I am a process knitter disguised as a product knitter. The enjoyment I get out of knitting comes from the act of knitting, but I don't see a point to actually starting the act if the item it produces isn't useful. Because of that I can also do what I did quite recently and knit half of a lace scarf, then rip it all out because it didn't look quite right. I get to enjoy knitting half again as much scarf as I would otherwise have and at the end I'll have a scarf I'm happy to wear.

Also, I came up with a great idea. While I'm abroad I want to buy a skein of yarn (all worsted weight probably) and knit up blocks to patch together into a blanket. Then I can be wrapped in the my travels for the rest of my life. I hope to find country specific patterns too for all the blocks, but I'm not sure if that will be possible.

It's been a hard week

"It's been a hard week." I've found myself saying this over and over again this summer. And while it's always true, it's time to realize that I'm tired of letting it excuse my not getting to things that need to be done. And yes, bad things keep cropping up this summer, but at some point we all need to make a stand for ourselves and say "I'm not accepting any more of this crap." I've reached that point many times recently, but apparently it has taken a while to sink in.

Other life updates:

*I leave for Venice in 3 weeks to attend the architecture biennale before I go to Zagreb to start my study abroad in Croatia. 

* My brother's numbers were better at his last lab's appointment so no dialysis for the moment. They'll be checked again in September and be reevaluate.

* The dogs were in apple heaven, and are now in apple temptation hell. They were eating so many apples that it gave them the runs and they started going in the house. This was deemed unacceptable and there is now a prohibition on apples. To be kind I try to pick up apples at least once a day, but that isn't enough to keep the ground clear so they have to exercise some self control. Poor dears.

* My kitchen is over run by apples (we probably have 20 lbs by now, although how many of them are still good is anyone's guess). Apple will be on the menu for quite some time.

* I'll be blogging about my time abroad as a journalist for Cornell University (link here) and am thinking of starting a travel podcast as well. Since I have an official connection to the university for the blog those posts will likely be well thought out and directed, but I kind of want an outlet for all my raw joy, confusion, embarrassing moments, utter bewilderment, exciting (and hopefully not profane) plane/train/bus/ferry mishaps, and hopefully enchantment with everywhere I go and all the people I meet. 

I'll leave you with some of my favorite pictures so far from this summer.

A dog and her pillow

This looks like a more fun day than it was. Both pups were a bit out of control so we left fairly soon.

Hurry up and throw it already!!!

"We're best friends, riiiight? Just say yes."
(no pups were harmed in the taking of these pictures)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Update and Kale and Kielbasa Soup

I'm back!!!!

It has been an incredibly hard semester what with a falling out with a former roommate and best friend, the even more endless winter than usual, my anxiety disorder getting out of control, and dealing with some stuff from my past which I hope to feel strong enough to share with you at some point. That said I just got my grades back and I passed all my classes (yes I was actually worried about that, told you it was a hard semester), and better than that I got  a 3.78 (out of 4.0) GPA. Guess all that Xanax worked after all.

Now I'm home, and it is a well known (and often joked about) fact that I clean like I demon when I first get home. I'm not exactly sure why I do it, but my guess is it's due to post finals stress. My target this time was the kitchen. To my Mom's relief I don't have any before pictures, but here are the after ones for you.

What have I been doing with this beautifully clean kitchen? Cooking of course! I didn't have much time  or motivation to cook when I was at school, but I'm working on picking it back up now. One of the few things I cooked this past semester is Kale and Kielbasa soup. This is one of the recipes that I call a refrigerator recipe, which means it's purpose is to use up as many things sitting around in my refrigerator before they go bad. As such the recipe keeps changing and I never actually measure anything, but I'll give you my best guess. For instance this time I made it I didn't actually use Kielbasa, but rather Bratwurst since it was on sale at the grocery store. You can add or subtract anything from this recipe that you want to fit what you have lying around.

And of course this wouldn't be my blog without a picture of a dog so here's one of my ever present helper.

How much of me needs to be on the linoleum before I count as in the kitchen? 

Kale and Kielbasa Soup

about a Tbs of olive oil
A small yellow onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, also minced
4-6 medium potatoes
Some carrots. Okay, okay, around 3 or 4 large carrots.
32 oz chicken (or other) stock plus as much water as needed for desired consistency. (Watering down stock is one of the greatest cooking tricks I know, make stock stretch farther but tastes pretty much the same.)
2 tsp basal
2 tsp fresh or dried rosemary
1 tsp parsley
1 bunch of Kale (roughly 6 or 7 lightly compacted cups. This is one of the few ways I get vegetables into my diet at school so I like to cram in as much as possible.)
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
1 link of Kielbasa (or 2 links of Bratwurst*, because hey it's not like Kielbasa in the title or anything)

Mince the garlic and onion then cook in the olive oil over medium until translucent (or you get bored). While onions are cooking dice potatoes and carrots, then add them to the onion and garlic. Add the stock at this time and bring to a simmer. Pull the Kale leaves off the stalks, then tear into bit size pieces before dropping them into the pot. Add the herbs now too. Either add the rice now if there is enough stock or you can cook it separately and add it at the end. Cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are soft. Slice Kielbasa and add to the pot. Serve when Kielbasa is throughly heated.

*if using uncooked sausage, put the whole sausage in the pot at the beginning with the onions and keep it there through the whole cooking process then slice at the end.