Who Wants to Outsource Cooking?

This girl!

Today’s prompt was: Would you ever want a personal chef, or do you enjoy cooking your own meals?

Would I ever want a personal chef? Emphatically YES!

I have never enjoyed cooking. Sure, there have been times when I had fun cooking with someone else, but usually only when it was planned in advance and we had lots of time, trying something new and slightly adventurous. Making lobster for the first time comes to mind…

Usually, I hate cooking. I’m too rushed, I don’t have time to look for new, interesting recipes, and I’m not good at just throwing things together. Me? I’m a baker*. I follow a recipe. I rarely just fly by the seat of my pants.

A cook would be so very appreciated around here. Someone else to plan the menu – ideally a healthy one – and do all the shopping and prep work? Amazing.

Still, I imagine an elusive someday when I have the time to plan menus and cook. It’s probably one of those somedays that will never happen but hey, I can dream!

*this is one of those conundrums: why is it that people are usually either a baker or a cook? Why not both?

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Book Review – The Selection

Since I now have the opportunity to read a lot more while working at the library, it’s becoming harder to find books that interest me. Listening to books is different from reading them. When listening you can’t go back to repeat things or make notes in margins, all of which I like to do when reading nonfiction. This limits my selection but it’s also forced me to select books that I wouldn’t have heard of or tried.

One of those books is The Selection by Kiera Cass. It’s a book meant for teen readers and it’s a cross between The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. In The Selection, girls across the kingdom may apply to be part of the selection, a televised competition to become the prince’s wife. Selection comes with class and financial benefits for the families of those chosen. The story follows America, who was born into class Five, which is made up of artists. Food and money are scare for her family of musicians but not as bad as it is for Aspen, the boy she loves. When Aspen spurns her advances on the basis of her well-being, she applies to be part of the selection and is chosen. Her motivation is to get over Aspen and to benefit her family which allows her to be genuine with Prince Maxon. The Prince finds her honesty refreshing and keeps her at the palace in spite of her ignorance of politics and etiquette.

The Selection is the first of a trilogy; the second book, The Elite, continues the story. The One, the final book in the trilogy, is scheduled to be released this week. For people like me who enjoy continuing our favorite stories through fan fiction, there are several add-on novellas to enjoy.

There were moments in this story where I was annoyed by the drama. Reading books geared toward teenagers bears this danger and I realize that. In general, I enjoyed the story and the situations the characters find themselves facing. It’s an easy read. For someone who tends to get overly involved in fictional characters and feels their pain, this story was ideal. I’m looking forward to the release of The One, although I will probably have to go back and re-read the first two. Good thing I have a vacation coming up!

These comments are my opinion only.

How do you eat?

Prompt: Tell us how you eat: do you sit down to three meals, eat several small meals, or grab a granola bar on the run?

This was one of the prompts that caught my attention when I swiftly reviewed the list of daily prompts for May’s NaBloPoMo theme, mostly because it’s something I want to improve in my life.

Looking at my own eating habits, I have to cringe. I eat most of my meals in my car on the way to a job. When I’m sitting down to eat, odds are it’s at my desk and I’m working on the computer while I’m doing it. Even when I’m home to eat (maybe once or twice a week), I’m reading a book or email. The meal doesn’t always include vegetables, unless I’ve done a good job of planning ahead and cut them up the Sunday before or make a smoothie the night before. Sometimes, all it is a fruit and nut bar. Frequently, it’s take-out.

I’ve seen the positive results of actually sitting down for meals without the distractions of electronics. Last Christmas, I visited my parents and expected to gain weight over the week I was there. After all, I didn’t work out at all and I was drinking more than I usually do. But, to my surprise, that wasn’t the case. After looking back on my time there, I had to attribute this to the fact that we sat down to eat and talked to each other instead of watching TV or playing on a phone. It surprised me that such a small thing could make such a big difference. Other than not eating out, the meals weren’t that much different than what I would make for myself were I to make the effort.

Because my eating habits are mostly determined by my schedule, this isn’t something that’s easy to adjust. But it has made me more aware of what I do while I’m eating. It’s such a temptation to turn to a book or my phone because I nearly always eat alone, but I’m making an effort to put these things aside and just pay attention to what I’m eating. I read French Women Don’t Get Fat recently, and the author’s comments about paying attention to what you’re eating tied this all together for me.

This month, I’m not only looking forward to a vacation and seeing my family, but I’m looking forward to meals spent in the company of others, and not electronic gadgets. Hopefully this will help me to develop new habits of enjoying the food I eat and not just inhaling it on the way to the next activity.

What about you? Do you find yourself distracted during meal times?

Friday Favorites

There are many things on the way to Friday that are worth celebrating – some big, some little – and they deserve their own time. I’m taking some time again this week to highlight some of my favorite things and to be thankful for more than just the fact that it’s Friday.

This week, some of my favorite things were:

  • The way God sometimes hits me upside the head with answers. You asked for guidance and BAM! there it is, so big there is no way you can miss it.
  • The rain, washing away the dirt and salt of winter and making everything lush and green. The fact that rain means it’s too warm to snow is an added bonus. So is the free car wash.
  • Wonderful coworkers who commiserate during hard times and who are excited to share their experience and insight when they hear you’re looking into a new frontier (the transition from a PC to a Mac is a big deal, folks, and it requires a lot of research. At least for this girl).
  • The anticipation of seeing my entire family in one place for the first time in 18 months! Plus the opportunity to spend some quality time with a grandfather I haven’t seen in 2+ years. The next time I post this update, I will be with them in sunny CA!
  • My incredibly giving, unselfish roommate who brought home chocolate and flowers completely out of the blue, just because I had a hard week. Aren’t the beautiful?

Flowers

That Squeaky Wheel

It’s been a while since I’ve posted…just about four months. The desire has been there, rattling around periodically in the back of my mind, demanding attention, but work has been more demanding and you know what they say about the squeaky wheel.

May seems like a great time to get back into things. It’s warmer (sort of), the days are longer, and I will be on vacation for about half of the month, which means I’ll have more time to write! Interestingly enough, the last “real” post on this blog was before I came back from vacation. That might require some more thought… but another reason to start up again was the theme of May’s NaBloPoMo over at BlogHer. I’ve been thinking alot lately about what I eat and how I nourish my spirit and creativity and just have fun. So I’m going to challenge myself this month to work on the creative part of my life by blogging again. Here it goes!

 

Looking Back on 2013

It’s always interesting to look back over a period of time to see where you are compared to where you thought you would be or even where you would like to be.

Right now, I am sitting in a Starbucks in San Diego surrounded by others with computers, sipping an Earl Grey latte and blogging. In my dreams, it would be a normal occurrence and not just a stop on my way to the airport to go back to Chicago!

But I don’t mean this quite so literally. Last year I commented on the new start that the New Year brings and how it prompts us to turn over a new leaf and make new goals. It was interesting to read through last year’s post since I haven’t stuck with any of goals I had for myself last year.

However, they did remain themes in my life for 2013.

Faith: time with God wasn’t as regular as I would have liked, but it was a huge improvement from 2012. Reading Jesus Calling nearly every day helped me to start my days off right. And although I am still not in a regular habit of spending one on one time with God, he has taught me so much this year. So although it didn’t look quite as I expected this year, I am happy with the progress I made.

Fitness: well, I started off well with eating right but that didn’t last either. But again, improvements have been made from where I was. And 2014 will be a second chance: starting on Wednesday, my roommate and I are going to strive for a Real Food diet in January. Of course, Bar Method didn’t figure into my plans at all since I started that in May. This has continued to be an important part of my life, sometimes more frequently than others. I did have the pleasure and privilege of taking a class at Bar Method Point Loma while in San Diego on vacation. What fun! So again, this didn’t look quite like what I expected but improvement was made over 2012.

Blogging: hahaha! Well, I did set myself a lofty goal. Not sure I’m going to even try for this year! Completing NaBloPoMo was a satisfying blogging achievement, one I hadn’t planned. I’m not going to set any kind of goal for myself here for 2014, but I would like to keep updating periodically. We’ll see how this goes!

There were other achievements in 2013 that weren’t planned for as well, such as paying off debt, getting a second (and third!) job, and, the largest and most satisfying, earning my PHR-CA! None of these made my published list for 2013 and were still important this year.

If I’ve learned anything from 2013, it’s that personal progress is more important than perfection. This is important, for me, as a perfectionist, to realize. While my achievements didn’t look the way I wanted them to for 2013, I am making strides toward the end I wanted. And I can be satisfied with that, without cutting myself down for not reaching the extremes I pictured in my head.

It’s nearly time for me to head to the airport. It’s been a great trip with many lessons and I’m sad to leave. But I’m looking forward to the rest of my week off of work and the opportunity to get 2014 off to a good start. Hopefully this flight will give me a chance to sit down and make some rough goals for 2014.

How do you feel about your year in review?

Friday Favorites

There are many things on the way to Friday that are worth celebrating – some big, some little – and they deserve their own time. I’m taking some time again this week to highlight some of my favorite things and to be thankful for more than just the fact that it’s Friday.

This week, some of my favorite things were:

  • My mentor Janet. Her love, insight and example mean so much to me. The time we spend together is always a joy!
  • Saturday morning breakfasts and wedding planning with the roommate… after I made her earn it at Bar Method, that is. Getting the bride in shape is a maid of honor duty, right?
  • Completing both of my personal challenges for the month of November: NaBloPoMo and the 20 in 30 challenge at my Bar Method studio!
  • Quaint and fun outings with coworkers to celebrate the holidays.
  • Personal days that allow me to study for an upcoming exam…
  • Unexpectedly free car repairs, however minor they might be.
  • Wonderful current and former coworkers who call when I least expect it and share what’s going on with them and encourage me when I’m freaking out about the aforementioned exam.
  • The joy (and it was!) and privilege of hearing Liz Curtis Higgs speak in person. Her message was powerful and seasoned with MUCH laughter. God can and will do amazing things with our lives if we let him.
  • Starbucks Peppermint Mochas. Even though I don’t usually drink coffee, these have swiftly become a favorite. Probably because they’re mostly sugar…
  • Looking forward to fun Christmas plans with great friends, old and new.
  • Being nominated as a Versatile Blogger! Thanks Erin! Look for a responding post in the next few days with a list of a few of my favorite blogs.