Wednesday, February 25, 2015

If You Make a Resoluton and Don't Tell The Internet, Did It Really Happen?

I've been attempting an experiment of sorts. Yes, it happens to be coinciding with Lent, but I'm going for a lifestyle change rather than just giving something up for 40 days. (That was never a priority in our house or churches growing up, and just hasn't stuck properly since then.)

And really, I'm not actually giving anything up. What I'm attempting to do is avoid social media unless I want to be using it or if I'm intentionally doing something that requires me to be on social media.

(I intend no judgment on anyone. Your time is yours to do with as you please, and mine is mine.)

Over the past few years, my social media usage has gotten a little out of hand. If I'm on the computer and have nothing to do, I find myself clicking over to Facebook. (A year or two ago, I even deleted the bookmark so I'd have to actively think about typing in the URL, but it only took about a week until my fingers stopped being aware of what they were doing.) I'd find myself browsing on Goodreads instead of, you know, actually reading. I'd mindlessly click the Instagram app on my phone, or scroll through my Twitter feed even though I didn't really want to be doing it.

And I realized that I was wasting an awful lot of time doing things I wasn't enjoying. What am I really getting out of all those hours of perusing?

via Death to Stock Photo

I knew it was kind of unrealistic to quit social media cold turkey, because like it or not, it actually is pretty useful for a lot of things. Instead, I wanted to be mindful about why I'm using it and how often, instead of just clicking out of habit, or because I have nothing better to do.

It's been about a week since I've started thinking about this, and I've already discovered a few things. First of all, it is incredibly difficult to avoid Facebook and Goodreads (my favorites of the socials) if you're not thinking about it. It is so deeply ingrained in me to want to constantly check those sites that I've caught myself several times clicking over before realizing what I've done. But without so much social media, I've been spending significantly less time on the computer and on my phone every day, and I like the idea of where this is heading. I always felt like I spent too much time each day looking at screens.

But because I knew there was no quitting altogether, I've also been thinking about what I do on social media. I've caught myself wanting to take pictures just to have something to post on Instagram, instead of to remember a moment. I've caught myself wanting to update Goodreads with the number of pages that I've finished of that book I'm reading, even though that information really doesn't benefit me since I have a bookmark in my actual book. I've caught myself thinking something that seemed funny to me, and feeling like I needed immediate acknowledgment for said funny thought via Twitter approval.

For me, it all boiled down to … how much do I care what other people think of me? Why should I care about what other people think of me?

I want to use social media for what it actually is: a tool for connecting with people. I don't want to be a slave to it. I don't want to feel obligated to do things because of it. I for sure don't want to waste all my time doing something that bores me when I could be doing awesome things instead.

So that's where I'm at right now. But I'd love to know what you think. Are you happy with the amount of time you spend on social media? Do you find some platforms more useful or enjoyable than others?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cookbook Challenge: Don't Drink and Blog

I … made a lot of sauces for various things for this post? Thanks, Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook!

(I've been wracking my brains for like a week for an intro to this post, and haven't come up with anything good. So I guess let's just jump in.)



Peanut Sauce
Well this is rather embarrassing. I have made Pad Thai several times in the past few months, and each time, I find myself Googling peanut sauce recipes. I never even realized there was one right in this here cookbook! Stupid stupid! It was also stupid easy. It … tasted like peanut sauce? I don't know. I'd make it again.


Salmon With Honey Mustard Glaze / Maple-Glazed Spiced Carrots
As you can see, these are not salmon fillets. The grocery store ran out (!) of salmon because of the Super Bowl (!!!), and the fish market was closing anyway, so I bought some frozen Pacific whiting and called it good enough. (Who eats fish on Super Bowl Sunday?!) Matt really liked the fish anyway, but I think the glaze would have worked better on salmon. This is why we follow instructions! Also, Ritz crackers crumbled onto fish is pretty awesome.

The carrots were tasty, but not anything really special. The glaze didn't reduce as much as I expected it to, so the carrots were kind of still swimming in liquid syrup, even after they were fully cooked (and possibly even over-cooked since I kept waiting for the sauce to reduce).


Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa and Blackberry Syrup
I bought the world's smallest, cutest pork tenderloin for Matt, and then I made myself another fillet of that Pacific whiting, and then applied the salsas and syrups accordingly. Other than the fact that the pork took like three times longer to cook than the recipe said (even with my baby tenderloin! but Matt prefers his pork with no pink), Matt and I both really liked this. You should totally make mango salsa (hint: mango, lime, red onion, jalapeƱo, mint leaves), but only if mangoes are in season where you are. It turns out I really like mangoes. I always thought they were gross in Texas, but they were probably out of season/transported from somewhere else every time I tried them.


Crudites with Green Onion-Mint Dip
Another book club, another tray of goodies. The dip was quite light and refreshing. It's a good summer-y dip. I had to explain to Matt what blanching the veggies accomplished, but the blanched asparagus was so, so good. I freaking love asparagus. Except for that one side effect of eating it. You know.


Mojitos
I'll be honest, I did not have high expectations for this drink. I do not particularly like mint leaves. So it was a pleasant surprise when it was actually pretty tasty. Even though all the blended mint leaves floated to the top of the glass and that was really weird. Like drinking grass. If I had a better blender, it might have minced it all up better. But thank goodness it didn't turn out as green as it was in the cookbook photo, because I'm pretty sure I would not have enjoyed Photo Mojito at ALL.

Also, Matt belatedly informed me that shot glasses hold 1.5 oz of alcohol, not just 1 oz, as I previously thought. I used a shot glass to measure the rum. I tried to type this description immediately after drinking my mojito, and that's why you get gems like this: "Tyed four minutes later… one of these willg et you kind of tospy…" You're welcome.


Smoked Salmon Platter
This wasn't so much "cooking" as it was "take pre-cooked salmon and put it on a plate and arrange accoutrements around it in a pretty manner." Elliott was very excited, but she got none. Matt and I both thought it was tasty — I don't even particularly like capers, but it turns out that salmon + honey mustard/sour cream sauce + red onion have enough flavor that the caper flavor seemed toned down a little — but really, you can't go wrong when you're doing literally none of the work for your dinner.

Completed: 69 of 147 recipes

What is your favorite veggie? Did you know that shot glasses were 1.5 ounces??

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy Birthday, Everyday Adventures!

You guys. Where is the time going. How is my blog baby already four. This is nuts!

As is now tradition, on birthdays I like to recap the most popular posts of the previous year! And can I just say that this year, some of the posts ya'll liked were heavy.

INFIDELITY AND MOVIE ADAPTATIONS

In which I talked about Woody Allen movies and various other movies and books that made me sad. Also, on Valentine's Day, Matt and I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona — also by Woody Allen — and it was an awesome hate-watch movie. We kept rolling our eyes at the characters and placing bets on who would cheat on whom and yelling things at the characters when they were being stupid (which was for the whole movie). I think I just need to give up on Woody Allen movies.

LIFE LIST: ALL THE BAD THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO MATT IN VIRGINIA

Ah, the trip that clinched our fate in moving to Appalachia! This post has everything: cops, diabetes, Elvis busts, hedge mazes, turkey statues … it was a fun trip. It's no Texas, but we like living here a lot. :)

LET'S LOOK AT PRETTY DRESSES!

Come for the lovely bridesmaids' dresses, stay for my sweet gangsta dance moves and the 1990s throwback. P.S. In case you don't remember, my sister is designing and constructing her own wedding gown. She texted me a picture of it the other day, of what she's finished so far. And it's GORGEOUS. I'm not allowed to share it yet, but it will probably get its own post once she's married, because I'm just super impressed.

IT WAS ENOUGH: A MEXICO PHOTOESSAY

I still love this post about our mission trip so much. I have nothing new to say about it, so you should just read the post and not this blurb.
THE QUESTIONS WE ASK, AND THE ONES WE DON'T

Since I wrote this post, I've found that basically, no matter what's going on in your life, you'll get some variations on the same ol' questions. The ones I'm getting all the time now? "How long have you been here?" "What brought you to Virginia?" "Where in Texas?" (That last one is so that people can tell us they drove through Texas one time on the way to somewhere else.)

What are your favorite types of posts? What questions do you get all the time?

Monday, February 16, 2015

"Allie Appreciates Every Flurry"

If I were still in elementary school, still getting hand-written report cards with notes from my teacher, that's what this semester's note would say. That I am ridiculously appreciative of every snowflake.

It was a little embarrassing, when one of my co-workers said it to the guy that's the president of our parent company at lunch the other day. But I don't know how to not be completely filled with glee at the merest hint of soft, fluffy snowflakes falling outside the window.


People are like, haven't you ever seen snow before? Didn't it ever snow in Texas?

And I say yes, there was that time in 1991 when it snowed over a foot in North Texas. There was that time when we took our engagement photos when it snowed.

But do I have memories of building snowmen or catching big flakes on my tongue or shoveling the driveway as a kid? No. Because it snowed like four times ever, and then we moved to College Station and it snowed never. More often, it just sleeted and we called it snow, and everything in Texas shut down. The snow was never fluffy, but it made a nice crunch when you stomped around in it. Snow-people were basically impossible, unless they were really small. It was never deep enough for angels, though it did pack decently well for snowballs if your goal was to hurt your opponent.

Oh, we tried. We tried all those things, because that's what you do when it "snows." But it was so rare that every snow day was filled with joy, with calm, with relaxation. With wet cotton gloves and red cheeks and static cling. With warmth and wood fires and hot chocolate and blankets and books.

It snows here, pretty often. We haven't had any big, deep snows since Thanksgiving, but we get snow flurries and a few hours of what look like blizzards — to me — here and there, and a little bit of pileup on our cars or in our yard, and my grin is so wide. I go for walks as it drifts downward and I smile and I throw my arms up and I thank God that beauty like this exists.

Thank you for each perfect snowflake.


Driving home from work, I pass by a field of black cows every day. And this particular day, the snow was swirling across the road, and I was smiling, and I looked to my right to say hi to the cows as I passed. The cows were just standing there, eating, as little piles of crystal formed across their backs, bright against their dark hides. And I laughed, because the cows were covered in snow and didn't even mind!

The snow blows past the office windows and I say "it's snowing!" and I crane my neck to see better. I look out the front windows to our cars and say "it's starting to pile up!"

My co-workers look at this, at me, like it's nothing to be excited about. Most of the north and northeast feels the same I suspect.

But I hope that I continue to appreciate each unique flurry. Because each one is beautiful, and worth getting excited over.

Monday, February 9, 2015

This is Weird. I'm Kind of Into Working Out Right Now.

Yesterday, I went for a bike ride. I've been meaning to go check out this six-mile trail in our city, and the one time Matt and I went to go for a walk on it, his blood sugar went low almost immediately and we didn't even make it all the way to the wooded area where the trail actually started. (As opposed to the part beside the road that's basically a sidewalk.)

So Sunday was beautiful, around 60 degrees, and I got my light jacket and my grandpa's bike and my helmet, and hit the trail. After about a mile and a half of riding, there was a sign saying the next section of the trail was closed, so I turned around, which is kind of pathetic but also kind of a relief. This trail is on a mountain, so there was lots of ups and downs, and I was basically dying. My mom called me while I was walking the bike up a giant hill, and I huffed and puffed a conversation with her until I figured I was either going to drop my water bottle, drop the phone, drop the bike or drop dead, and said I'd call her back.

I suppose my interest in going on a bike ride on a nice day isn't so unusual. But when you combine it with the fact that I'm steadily getting better at pushups — I finally started Week 3! Week 3 is kicking my butt! — AND the fact that I ordered a pedometer on Amazon the other day, AND the fact that I've become obsessed with the Fitbit app, despite not owning a Fitbit? It's downright strange. Who is this girl and what has she done with Allie?

Whatchu mean it's time to stop laying around?!

Also, this obsession of mine has caused me to learn some stuff. Like, did you know that your body burns a lot of calories just to keep you alive? ME NEITHER! (It's okay, you can laugh at me. I had to ask Matt why the Fitbit app kept congratulating me for burning all these calories when I did nothing but sit around all day.) Also, did you know that it classifies "meditating" and "fishing" and "sailing" as exercises? This app is my new best friend. Obviously, now I need to get me a yacht so I can sit on the deck and call it a workout. (Oh hi, regular lazy Allie, I guess you're back now.)

Have you picked up any new hobbies or obsessions lately? Do tell! What new knowledge has blown your mind? Also, do you have any ideas for upping the number of steps taken per day? (Because it is sad but I am nowhere near the recommended 10,000 steps per day. NOT EVEN KIND OF CLOSE.)