Good Things

My British accent is more like Jennifer Coolidge’s in Austenland but maybe if I watch this video a few more times I’ll get the hang of it. Which accent is your favorite?

One day last year I was killing myself on the rowing machine (I have realized that I hate HATE HATE running), watching Netflix. I clicked on a show called Addiction. It’s a really good, graphic non-fiction show about–surprise!–addicts and alcoholics. The woman on the show was talking about how low she had fallen because of her heroin addiction and how she simply couldn’t stop using even though she was ruining her life and the lives of everyone around her. When she was describing what is was like with the heroin having so much power over her and not being able to stop, I burst into tears. I sat there and sobbed because I felt exactly the same way. But my drug of choice is not illegal. It is sugar.

If you scroll through my recipe tab you will notice that pretty much every recipe I list is chock full of carbs and sugar. These things are my very favorites in life. I grew up baking, teaching myself how to bake at an early age because I simply couldn’t get enough suweets (this is what I did whenever you left the house, Mom! You told me not to use the stove or oven but I just had to). Luckily I was blessed with a decent metabolism that tidily sorted through the sugar and pop I existed on for most of my life. Once I hit 40, though, my metabolism waved goodbye. Practically overnight it came to a screeching halt. I did what I had done in the past: went to Weight Watchers, tried to be reasonable about portion sizes and switched my full-sugar Mt. Dew habit to Coke Zero (sorry, but I find Diet Coke to be utterly vile.)  Nothing happened. I couldn’t lose a pound if my life depended on it.

Then I was called to be the Relief Society President. This means I was put in charge of all the women in my church congregation. Not only am I in charge of planning activities and lessons, but I’m the one on the front lines when the women have major setbacks due to illness, depression, death or unemployment. All sorts of fun things. All this new stress and responsibility left me exhausted and depleted at the beginning. So I did what every red-blooded American would do; I turned to food. Now I wasn’t stress-eating just for my own problems, I was stress-eating for everyone’s problems! The results were not pretty. I didn’t even know you could gain weight that fast!

I cut down on calories and took up running (I had to try it before I realized I hated it so), and rowing and exercise videos. Unfortunately my weight stayed exactly the same. The scale would not budge. I cut out most white flour and ate nothing but whole grains (hey, whole wheat chocolate chip cookies are really fantastic, by the way! Super chewy!). And there were no more calories from soda since I was drinking diet. I couldn’t figure out what was going on or how to change it.

I knew exercise must be important but so far I hadn’t found the thing that rocked my world. And I knew I needed a partner to help me find some accountability. I’d been hearing about crossfit a lot so I found a place near us that had fantastic reviews on Yelp and got my friend Anna to go with me. It was hard. Really hard. But I really liked it. And hated it. If you know crossfit, you know what I mean. I’ll talk more about it another time. But the foundation of crossfit is good nutrition. That’s a really big deal. In particular, crossfit people are totally into paleo.

My crossfit coach suggested I try Paleo but once I found out that sugar and grains are forbidden I was like, “HELL NO!” Like, no way would I ever, ever eat that way in a million years. My coach just smiled, “after about a month of crossfit I bet you’ll try it.” I snort-laughed because there was not even a shred of possibility that that might happen. Obviously he didn’t know who he was talking to; I have won blue ribbons for my baked goods! That stuff is in my blood! Sugar and flour are my soul!

But this voice in my head kept nagging at me to think about it. Even doing crossfit several times a week was not helping my weight. The numbers refused to get lower. I began to face the fact that flour and sugar were like a dysfunctional relationship: they were doing me nothing but harm although I still loved them desperately. It was time for us to break up.

I read several books about eating Paleo* and here’s what turned me onto it: it’s all about getting over sugar and carb cravings. It’s about teaching your body to have a healthy relationship with food. It’s about healing your body from the damage you’ve done over your lifetime, and becoming as healthy as possible through clean eating. And most importantly to me it means eating foods that provide a healthy psychological response.

In other words, not eating because of sadness or boredom. You don’t think of food as a reward (that’s a big deal for me. I think of food as the ultimate reward). You can find all sorts of “heathy sweets” that have honey or agave. Or sugar-free chocolate. But those aren’t going to do you an favors if you’re a sugar addict. I needed to teach my body how to not crave things like that anymore. And the only way to kill a craving is to starve it to death. (Not starve as in “no calories”, starve as in “no more sweet things whether they are ‘healthful’ or not”.)

Paleo pyramid

Not eating carbs and sugar is pretty much the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Without a doubt. I face a temptation every hour of every day. Unlike heroin addicts, though, sugar is not only served everywhere, it is encouraged!  (Who’ll bring refreshments? Who wants some birthday  cake? It’s free slurpees today!) I’ve had to stop bringing people cookies because I can’t bake them and not eat them. I have to buy snacks for my kids that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole so I won’t be tempted (It would have to be the end of the zombie apocalypse before I would put a baked Cheeto in my mouth.) I psyche myself up and do a pep-talk before I go to any church function (Refreshments are so hard to say no to!). And I practically wear blinders when I go to the grocery store .

It’s getting easier, though. I pray a lot (seriously. “Please Heavenly Father, do not let me think about peanut butter M&Ms”. I know it sounds pathetic and cheesy but it really works). This morning I took my kids to our favorite donut shop  (I love donuts with a grand passion) and I sat and watched them eat their donuts without even having a bite. I abstained from ordering a donut for myself even when I saw them carry out a fresh, hot tray of chocolate glazed with peanuts–my favorite! I haven’t had soda or caffeinated anything since New Year’s Eve and I’ve stopped staring at the soda fountains longingly. I no longer think about how great a Big Gulp would taste right now. When it gets really hot out, though, I’m probably going to die without pop. Gotta stay strong!

The good news? The weight is coming off. Slowly. But it is coming off. And unlike Weight Watchers** or starving myself, I have plenty to eat. I’m never hungry. Thank goodness bacon and cashews are paleo or I would probably kill myself. The best thing, though, is that I feel strong and healthy. Not just physically healthy but mentally and emotionally healthy. I don’t reach for food when I’m bored. Although I have discovered that I am not a bored or sad eater. When I’m depressed I don’t want food. I’m an angry eater! When I’m frustrated and angry I want to “show everyone” by pigging out. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. But that’s what I’ve discovered about myself.

Will I stay paleo forever? I don’t think so. I really do think that whole grains need to be part of the human diet. I’ve been doing a lot of research and really feel like whole grains are important. But I need to be in a healthy state of mind before I can make that happen. I need to exist without thinking/wishing/pigging out on sugar day after day. I need to get cravings out of my system so one cookie doesn’t turn into fifteen cookies (which is what happens now, no lie). I need to be able to say, “that’s enough” and so far that’s not part of my lexicon.  But I’m hoping that I will be able to change that soon. And permanently. Until then, bring on the pea pods!

 

*If you’re interested in Paleo (which is a stupid, stupid name), I would HIGHLY recommend getting the book The Paleo Coach by Jason Seib. It’s fantastic.

**Weight Watchers has worked really well for me in the past but recently it just hasn’t done the trick. Plus it doesn’t really help with my sugar addiction. Instead I end up eating all my points by lunchtime and then I’m left with ten more hours of starvation. You’d think I would learn my lesson but I never did. Then there is the whole issue of weight being the ultimate gold standard. Weight is just a number. It doesn’t mean you’re healthy or that you look good. And who hasn’t felt great going into a meeting because you’ve tried so hard only to have all the feelings negated because of what the scale says. It’s not right!

I have a real love-hate relationship with cleaning ladies. On one hand I love them because who wants to clean their own house? (Hint: not me.)  On the other hand, it’s expensive and what kind of lazy bones can’t clean her own house? What am I so busy doing that I can’t scrub it myself? Or make my minions do it? (Oh yes, I’m being a mom to six kids and a Relief Society President). Sometimes we’re too broke to have a cleaning lady. Sometimes we’re desperate enough to pony up the money. Lately it’s been the latter.  Also, I’m the only person in my neighborhood who cleans her own house. Seriously!  But then I watch Downton Abbey and they don’t even do their own hair, let alone scrub their own toilets. So then I feel totally cool with it.

Mister is not a big fan of my lackadaisical housekeeping skills. I’ll scrub toilets til the cows come home–there is nothing grosser to me than a stinky, dirty toilet. Even if I’m about to throw up I’ll be madly scrubbing the toilet first. But my floor mopping schedule is a little more–how shall I put it–elastic. So Mister finally insisted that I find someone to come in every week or two to do the dirty work.

In the past we’ve always managed to have really sexy cleaning ladies. They always come in sweats, though, not in French Maid outfits. Although one time our Russian maid, Tanya, came dressed in teeny tiny hot pants and high heels. It looked like she was going to go dancing afterwards, but those Russians–they can dress oddly at times.  On that particular day I walked into the bathroom while Tanya was bent over scrubbing the tub and wow! Did I ever get an eyeful.  I can now say with absolute assurity that that woman did not have an ounce of cellulite anywhere. It’s probably a good thing that Mister wasn’t working from home.

We had Flavia after that. She was a Brazilian girl with a rocking bod. She’d wear skin tight cropped tank tops and sweatpants rolled down to just under her pelvic bone. Flavia always wore her thick wavy hair cascading down her golden brown shoulders. It was almost waist-length and she never wore it in a ponytail. I can’t imagine that it was very convenient but it looked really pretty while she was wiping off my appliances.  She was a real butter-face, though. You know, everything is fantastic but her face. She was as sweet as sugar and loved babies which I had about a million of at the time.

This week I finally got around to finding a new cleaning lady. Carmen came highly recommended by one of my friends. And she also sounded pretty cheap. Definitely a bonus. Carmen speaks Spanish and that’s all. She didn’t even know the English word for broom or mop–definitely a handicap in her profession, I would think.

The way our cleaning ladies have always worked is that they charge by the house, not by the hour. So cleaning my house is always X dollars, whether it takes them two hours or five hours. Their first visit always lasts a little bit longer since they have to do everything. They won’t be dusting the blinds and cleaning the baseboards every time, but they start out the first visit by getting everything done.

So Carmen (who is not even slightly sexy) came over on Wednesday morning right after my kids left for school. After pantomiming a list of what supplies she needed I scurried off to fill her order. It took three tries of bringing back the wrong item before I figured out she needed a step ladder.  All those years of French have really come in handy. Not.

I let Carmen get to business while I spent most of the day planning my trip to Europe in a couple of months. Hmmm, I guess I’m more of a spoiled American than I thought.  After three hours Carmen was still in my room. Slightly humiliating, I guess. My room was apparently dirtier than I thought.

It got worse. I told Carmen only to vacuum the kids’ rooms. Their dressers are piled with all sorts of random kid crap and some of their beds weren’t made. But of course she made everyone’s beds, straightened everything up, dusted and vacuumed. I half expected her to leave their towels folded into origami animals like when you go on a cruise.  The lady didn’t even take a break and was still at it when Mister got home from work.

All in all Carmen was there for eight hours. Eight hours. She did a great job but compared to our regular cleaning lady (me and/or my slovenly children), it didn’t matter much. I’m not that picky. As long as I’m not the one doing the cleaning, I’m happy. I got over my shame of hiring a cleaning lady right quick.  Now I just need to figure out how to say “mildew” in Spanish.

Screen shot maid

I’ll be buying this outfit for Carmen, of course.

 

Is it just me or is everybody pregnant? Wait, that makes it sound like I’m pregnant. I am NOT pregnant. My eggs are shriveled and dried up. But everyone else, it seems, is very fertile. (If you are struggling with infertility, I’m really sorry. You are probably very aware that everyone but you is pregnant. Sucks.)  But I was thinking back to the stone age (mid-90′s) when I had my first baby. That baby is about to jump ship and go to college. We actually can’t talk about that because I still feel like she’s still about eight years old and why the heck is she leaving already? Also, I was just in college about fifteen seconds ago myself. I swear!

But I remember when I was pregnant and working at this super ritzy photo studio (how ritzy? An 8×10 was $400. Gag.) and one of my coworkers, a mother of two,* said to me, “don’t worry if you don’t love your baby right away.” I thought this was probably the most bizarre and uneccesary thing I’d ever heard. Hadn’t I been watching A Baby Story non-stop for months? Everyone on the show always said how they fell in love with their baby the second she was born. I shook my head and thought my coworker was key-raaazy.

India and mommy

Fast forward a couple of months and here I am with this newborn and although I feel a fierce protective instinct, I can’t exactly say that I love this little bundle of joy. All I really feel is tired and my boobs hurt soooo much. I started to feel like I’m one step away from Charles Manson. Or at least a crack whore. Who doesn’t love their baby? There must be something wrong with me. But I remembered those words from my coworker. And I felt peace. Like maybe I wasn’t crazy after all. Maybe there have been other mothers who were a little slow on the love-uptake.

And when my sister-in-law volunteered to watch baby India overnight (thank goodness for breast pumps!) when she was merely six weeks old (India, not my sister-in-law), I jumped at the chance to stay at a hotel with Mister. And you know what? I missed that baby. And, dare I say it, I actually felt love. You know how the grinch’s heart cracks open and starts growing? That’s exactly how it felt.  And within a few weeks I loved that wee little lass like crazycakes.

I ended up loving my baby and loving being a mom so much that I could not wait to have another one. I started trying for my next baby (and got pregnant right away) when India was only seven months old.

So the moral of the story is 1) it’s OK if you don’t love your baby right away. You will eventually. Cross my heart. And 2) sometimes you really do get good advice when you’re pregnant.

Have you gotten any really good or really horrible advice when you were pregnant?

P.S. Yep, that’s a photo of me and India on the day she was blessed (christened). Appearances to the contrary, I wasn’t 15 years old. I was actually 24. And isn’t it about time for vests to make a comeback?

 

*Sadly, my coworker was murdered a couple of months later when she went home for a lunch break. We all suspected who did it but he never went to trial. Crazy, huh?

You know how I finally figured out that listening to an audiobook is the key to painlessly getting your yucky chores done? I know. I can’t believe it took me so long to get this through my skull. I normally prefer reading an actual book (I’m a visual person) but there is nothing like being read to to make the hours fly by (thank goodness for Harry Potter and Jim Dale or we would have killed each other on The Confederate Car Trip last summer). All that cleaning and organizing I talked about yesterday? I owe it all to Augustus McCrae.

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 9.06.50 AM

Yesterday as I was organizing my shoes I finally finished Lonesome Dove on audiobook. You guys. There are no words. My poor heart.  You just have to read this book. Or better still, listen to it. I know it was made into a miniseries a couple of decades ago but there is so much going on inside the characters heads that it seems a pity to only see the screen version. Lee Horseley (who used to be on this TV show called Matt Houston back in the day) is an excellent narrator. He does such an outstanding job giving the dozens of characters a voice.

This book had me gasping, it had me crying, it had me sitting perched on the edge of my bed holding a paper towel and a bottle of Windex for half an hour because I was so into it that I could barely move. I thought Lonesome Dove was just some cheesy Western and I was in the mood for something like that when I started. This ain’t no Louis L’Amour.  I mean, it won the Pulitzer Prize for pete’s sake! This book features some of the best characters of all time.

The book is 900 pages and the audiobook is 36 hours. Quite an investment of time. And honestly, the story starts off a little slowly. But I’m temped to start the audiobook all over again now that I understand the characters. It would mean so much more this time.

Lonesome Dove definitely earns it’s place into my top 10 books of all time.

According to all the stores. January is the time to organize stuff. And you know what? I agree. After the mayhem of the holidays, it feels good to clean and organize everything. Mister has been getting very put out with the state of clenliness lately. Let’s just call it “laissez-faire housekeeping”. It all came to a head a few days ago when I came home from . . . . I’ve already forgotten. But Mister was having a meeting with his Boy Scout committee and as the house was in disarray, he had cleaned it nicely. Or so it seemed.

This is the main difference between men and women, I think. Most men (mine included) think cleaning up generally means shoving stuff in baskets and boxes and putting it somewhere less visible. I walked into our bedroom while Mister’s meeting was happening and what do you know? There are three laundry baskets piled with everything from shoes to my glue gun to actual clean clothes.

Meanwhile I had several boxes of Christmas decorations sitting in the mudroom because I couldn’t put them away. The attic was a complete mess due to kids looking for winter clothes. Every person woman knows that you can’t put stuff away when everything is already disorganized. First you have to organize, then you clean. And if you don’t have time to organize everything? Well, that means the cleaning kind of grinds to a halt.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve done my share of stash-and-dashes when we’ve had company coming over. Having a master bedroom on the main floor means that there is always a place to put things in a hurry and feel fairly safe that nobody will see anything. But if I’m going to clean–like, really honestly clean, I’m going to do it right.

Or course there are superwomen out there who always have things organized and clean. These women perplex and slightly frighten me.

But I’ve been working hard on organizing and especially throwing things away/giving things away (been to Goodwill a whole lot lately). You cannot fathom the huge amount of receipts that I have been storing in every nook and cranny. But you can’t organize clutter, so I’m jumping on the January bandwagon and cleaning out the hidden spots in my house first. The attic is done. My closet is in progress.

Two weeks ago Mister chided me for having two grocery bags full of canned goods sitting in the garage (they’d been there for oh, a week or so). “Put these away already!” he said before he left for work. They were all meant for storage, not the pantry. But the food storage room/closet was thoroughly disorganized and stuff was all over the floor. So I spent the day dragging everything out, cleaning the weevils out of the carpet (thanks to a ripped bag of flour. It’s as gross as it sounds), and reorganizing all the food. Of course this took a million hours longer than I had hoped. Half an hour before Mister got home from work, the grocery bags still hadn’t been unloaded. But I made it just as he pulled into the driveway.

Deep cleaning and organizing is partly satisfying (yay properly organized stuff!) but nobody ever appreciates it like they ought to. (Would it be too much to have one of my kids say, “Wow, Mom, you did a great job placing all the spice jars in alphabetical order, and in order from oldest to newest ensuring we rotate through our supplies wisely.”? That’s all I ask!)

I still have to unload my new shoe shelves from the car, but once I get that closet cleaned the world is going to look a lot shinier.

Y’all know how much I love snacks, right? A lot. A super lot. I would much rather eat snacks all day than have a meal. Even a really delicious meal. Are you like that too or is it just me? Far and away my favorite place to by snacks is at H•E•B. It’s my favorite grocery store. They’re only in Texas which is sad for you if you don’t live here. But chances are you know someone who lives in Texas so you should pass this along. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve eaten lately:

I have spurts of paleo where I don’t eat flour. And I have a jillion friends who don’t eat flour (some have better reasons than others but I’m not going to give you a hard time if you want to jump on that bandwagon). It always makes me sad that I can’t bake for my gluten-free friends because baking is my love language. Well guess what! Now I can! H•E•B has a new gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix that is to die for. Seriously, they taste like honest-to-goodness chocolate chip cookies and they puff up nicely. You would never guess that they’re gluten-free. Color me impressed.

IMG_6265

Snacking in December would not be complete without some peppermint. As Buddy the Elf says, candy canes are one of the four elf food groups. Oreos are one of the few store-bought cookies I will eat and H•E•B does a dandy version of Oreo-type cookies with peppermint filling. They’ve got actual pieces of chopped up candy canes which makes them extra yummy. My kids will eat a package of these in about fifteen minutes. They’re like locusts where cookies are concerned. It’s a bit frightening.

H•E•B also has some Sun Chip-type snacks. They’re called, vaguely, “whole grain chips”. I tried the Smoked Gouda and they’re delicious. Mister took one bite and said, “holy crap, these are good!” I’m not a huge fan of cheese, especially on my snacks (Cheetos?Barf. A million times barf.) but these are more smoky than cheesy. For reals, you need to try these! Worth a trip to the store just to pick up a bag.

IMG_6270

You know what I also got at H•E•B that’s really cool? A tortilla warmer. Not one of those weird plastic things like they have at Mexican restaurants; this is soft and made of fabric. It’s for heating tortillas in the microwave and keeping them warm on the table. We eat a ton of tortillas. The best ones are freshly made. Sometimes I make my own and sometimes I buy them. But this warmer is a really nice way to keep them warm on the table (and it’s not very expensive either). Look how holidayish this one is. Christmas in Texas, folks!

IMG_6269

Before the New Year hits and you’re all healthy and eating right, get on over to H•E•B and pick up some of their Primo Picks snacks. They’re worth every pound you’ll gain!  Check out some of their other yummy foods here!

paprika recipe app

A few months ago I bemoaned the fact that I just couldn’t find a recipe app for my iphone that I liked. I got a lot of suggestions from my readers and actually tried most of them. I even went so far as to try apps that were foreign and had zero reviews.  I finally found one that I really love.  (Not one of the foreign ones, alas.) It’s called Paprika. I’ve been using it for a few months and I have to say that I really, really love it.

There are about a jillion recipe apps out there. Most of them, however, are just electronic cookbooks. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted a place to keep and organize all my recipes; not somebody else’s. Here’s the recipe problem I was hoping to solve: I’ll oftentimes be at the store and realize that I’m supposed to bring somebody dinner the next day, or I have to make cookies for a bake sale, etc. But here I am at the store and I can’t remember how many lemons I need for the lemon squares or whether it’s parsnips or rutabagas I put in my beef stew. Some of the recipes I use are online and I can look them up on my phone, although I have to stand there in the middle of the produce section for five minutes trying to locate the recipe.  Most of my recipes are in my cookbook, though. Not so convenient when you’re at the store.

I also wanted to have all my recipes available digitally so when someone asks for a recipe I can just whip out my phone and send it to them immediately.

I’ve been hoping to find an app where I can store my recipes and organize them in my own way. I’m not OCD about very many things, but recipes are one of them. When I stumbled upon Paprika I was very hesitant to try it because it’s $4.99. That’s a lot for an app. And the ipad app is another $4.99, cough choke*. But I’ve been desperate. I’ve had to call up my kids from the store one too many times and have my seven-year-old try to read me a recipe. Talk about frustrating! (You can also get a version of this for your PC. And by PC I mean a Mac. I don’t know if this is available for actual PCs because I turn up my nose at such things. But the computer version is $20! Jeez O Pete, that’s a lot of money for a recipe program. But I can see how it would be super handy to be able to sync all recipes wirelessly between your iphone, ipad and computer.) Oh, by the way you can get this for your Android too.

But then I think how I spend more than $20 going to see a movie with my husband that only lasts for two hours and isn’t $30 for recipe apps that I’ll use every day such a better deal? Yes!  Anyway, here’s why I like Paprika:

–Very clean, easy-to-use interface. You can figure it out in about three minutes. It also has a tutorial. I love an app with a tutorial.

–You can add, rearrange and edit categories. This is the thing that all other recipe apps lack. I like to organize my recipes just so. For example, I like to have a breakfast category. You’d be surprised how many cooking apps don’t have a breakfast category. (I’m sorry, pancakes do not belong in the bread category!) I also like to arrange my categories in order of service, not alphabetically. Therefore breakfast always comes first and dessert comes last. I like salads put together with side dishes because a lot of times I think of salads as a side dish and I like to be able to peruse the whole category for possibilities. But here’s the awesome thing about paprika: I can have a whole category for salads and I can list salads under side dishes too! It’s a lot better than a traditional cookbook that way. You can also create subcategories within each category. Under “desserts” I have subheadings of “cakes”, “cookies” and “pies”.

–It’s super easy to add recipes. You can add them by hand, which is totally straightforward. Or you can add them from your favorite cooking sites with the touch of a button. There’s a browser within the app that lets you go to any site; you simply press “save recipe” when you’ve found the one you want and it automatically adds the picture, and separates and formats the ingredients and directions for you. You can also edit each recipe in case you’ve changed it to alter your tastes. Most cooking websites are supported. If not, you can always cut and paste recipes into Paprika which is still super easy.

–You can scale the ingredients. Next to each recipe is a button that will let you change each recipe size, either making it smaller or larger. If you’re like me and try to double recipes in your head, only to forget to double some of the ingredients, this feature is a life-saver.

–There are several timers within the app. Anytime there are cooking times listed in a recipe, you can just click on those times and a pre-set timer pops up. Each timer has the item listed underneath, so if you’re cooking a couple of different items, you’ll know which one the timer is ringing for. Is that convenient or what?

–There’s a nifty grocery list feature. It arranges items according to the aisle at the grocery store. So cool. And it consolidates items so you don’t get eggs listed three times from three different recipes. You can add and edit super easily to delete things you already have at home or add items extra items that you need from the store.

–You can search for recipes depending on items you have on hand. You can also create menus on a calendar. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants because my schedule has the habit of getting completely out of control at the last minute. But if you are a plan-aheader this is just great.

There are a couple of features that I think are superflouous, like a star rating system. If something doesn’t get five stars it doesn’t make it into my collection. But if you are a chronic saver of new recipes to try, this might be a good thing.

I really can’t think of many things I don’t like about this app. If you cook, I would highly recommend it. And if you don’t cook, what is the matter with you?

 

*I have my iphone and ipad in the kitchen with me to cook quite often. I hate touching my grubby hands all over my electronics but what’s a girl to do when she needs to scroll down to see the rest of the recipe? Use a baby carrot instead! It totally works on a touchscreen and is much cleaner than the hands you just used to squish up raw ground beef into meatballs. Just stay away from the ranch dressing, OK?

Have you ever gotten sucked into a world that a few hours earlier you didn’t even know existed? That was me, today. Somehow I ran across a picture of an adorable dirndl dress on Pinterest. I knew that ladies in Austria and southern Germany still wear them occasionally but I had no idea that they are still a big deal. Being the good little Austrian girl that I am, I actually have a dirndl. Ok, two. (Three if you count my grandmother’s dirndl that is around here somewhere but I couldn’t fit in it to save my life.) I never wear them. It seems a little silly here in Texas. But that’s going to change because I’ve seen the world of gorgeous dirndls and it is the world I want to live in. Of course, these dresses cost a pretty penny. I think the cheapest one of the dresses below is €500. Looks like I’ll be sewing one for myself.

Look at how lovely and charming they are! It’s like a cross between Snow White and a milkmaid. Which is a very good thing. Austrian and Bavarian women really wear these! Not every day, but for special occasions. Last time I was in Austria lots of ladies wore them to church. Every dirndl has a gathered skirt; a vest-like bodice with (usually but not always) a little blouse underneath; and, of course, an apron.

blue and pink dirndl

 

Lena-Hoschek-Dirndl-3-e1373479187834

263fc3e0492bf7ace191897c1c35fdcb

ce9625e49a6324a614fc39b688a9812d

2826a61c275a3ba84995417e53648d18Lena-Hoschek-Dirndl-6-e1373477846889

homeImage

There are even dirndl fashion shows (Folk costumes are called Trachten. This includes lederhosen and menswear too.) I guess it’s to show the latest in old-fashioned clothing. Pretty funny, really.

Almsach-Pressefoto

 

But this! This takes the cake; this exactly the life I want to be mine:

 

If you’re dying to know more about dirndls in general, here’s an interesting little news piece I found (in English!)

I have been working on redecorating my bedroom for quite some time. I think I mentioned that before. My brother came and visited and kicked the re-do into high gear. Mister and I don’t really work super well together on projects: we get very angry at the other person for not reading each other’s minds. And since we both lean towards the quarrelsome side, we can get a smidge testy. Once when we were engaged we took an upholstery class. We had to find a chair and then spent the entire two month class reupholstering it. Towards the end of the semester one of the other couples in the class was very surprised to find out we weren’t already married. “You two argue so much I just assumed you were,” they admitted. So yeah, projects together have never been our strong point. But we know how to channel all that passion, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, so after Mister and I attempted to hang some bead board together, I decided to have my friend Tamara help instead. There may have been a lot more laughter than was needed, but we eventually got it done and it looks pretty decent. We only put one piece in upside-down!

The thing I’ve really wanted for my new bedroom, though, is a wrought iron bed. We currently have a lame head board (swirly white wrought iron that my mother-in-law picked out for us about a month after we got married). I wanted something a lot more cottagey and old-fashioned. And something with a footboard too, because a bed without a footboard seems teenager-ish.  I had my eye on this Medocino bed from Pottery Barn. But you know how Pottery Barn is–so overpriced. I mean, I’m sure they bed is nice quality but the prices are a little absurd.

img58o

This bed frame is $1300 (not including 8% sales tax and $150 shipping). Not in our price range. But it’s so cute! Ah well. I did find it at the Pottery Barn outlet for $789. But that’s still a little more than I could get Mister to agree to. He didn’t want a new bed to begin with and it’s hard to get someone to plunk down several hundred dollars on something they don’t want at all. I had already pushed my luck getting Mister to agree to my red and white color scheme so I figured the bed would have to wait. You gotta know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em, as Mr. Kenny Rogers would say.

I don’t understand all these bloggers who do a whole room remodel in less than a week. Do they have all the furniture and decor before they even start? How do they know how it will look once it’s put together? I bought one comforter and then decided I didn’t like it once I put it on the bed. It took me six more months to find one that I liked better (fortunately I sold the first one–bought on clearance at Pottery Bar–on ebay for a $70 profit.) It took me two weeks just to figure out how to change the blade on my miter saw, let alone cut the mouldings for my bedroom. I think I’m not motivated enough to be a home decor blogger. Also, I don’t like artistically arranged stacks of stuff on tables. I like my tables free of clutter. A lamp, yes. Books and shells and vases full of who-know-what? Yuck. So I can forget about being a career as an interior designer.

Because I love to waste time online, I peruse Craig’s List for various items quite often. Wrought Iron beds, among other things. (Although it’s a little hard to find wrought iron beds because a lot of people are dumb and think it’s “rod iron”.) But I found a guy over Thanksgiving break who was selling the exact Pottery Barn bed I wanted. In the size I wanted. For $90. Ninety dollars.

Despite living an hour away from me, I boogied down to his house immediately. Even Mister couldn’t complain about that price. That’s less than our sheets cost, for Pete’s sake!

The bed was on his back deck and it was freezing out (literally. A rarity in Texas). There was sleet coming down and I could barely see the bed frame. I could tell it had a few nicks and scratches but for $90 who cares? I knew I could touch it up, no problemo. When I pulled my money out, they guy actually said, “you know what? Just give me $60.”

I seriously almost fainted.

I would have danced a jig if it hadn’t been so cold out. Just for kicks I dragged Mister into the Pottery Barn outlet on our way home to show him the exact same bed for $730 more. He got a little more jazzed about our bed after that.

I have expertly painted over all the nicks and the bed is ready to go. I’m just waiting on the new mattress frame (turns out I need a bed frame that will accept a footboard. Another $100. Still a deal.)  And I need to frame the vintage postcards I bought on Etsy. But they’re being shipped from Germany so who knows when that will happen. See what I mean? How am I ever supposed to finally be done with this bedroom? By the time it’s finished I’ll probably be sick if it. I’ll keep you posted.