Thursday, December 27, 2012


Today marks two milestones in the history of me.  First, this is my 100th blog post right here.  Second, today is my 8th wedding anniversary (and my husband's, but I guess that goes without saying).  There is a .2% chance my husband will read this blog post, but I thought I'd write a few things about him anyway.

You know those old song lyrics that go "I love you more today than yesterday?"  I've heard a million different versions of that, but I'm not sure I believe it.  I look at this picture, and realize that on that day 8 years ago my heart was so full of love for that man that I don't think what I feel today is in excess of that.

What I do know is that after 8 years of marriage, the love I feel for him is deeper, stronger, and more grounded in a respect for his character.  I don't think I love him more, but I think I love him better.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm extremely blessed.  We got married 5 months to the day after we met, and for many people that would've been disastrous.  I wouldn't suggest it, generally.  If he had been anyone other than who he is, if his unwavering love for family and God had been less that what it is, if his work ethic had been more typical of his generation, if his character had been less what what I expected, after the wedding would have been a terrible time to discover those things.  Instead, I've found that he is so much more than what I expected.

His primary goal is to make the best possible home for our family, to protect us and take care of us and to be the best man, husband, and father he can be.  No amount of nagging, fighting, cajoling or ignoring could've have turned him into that, it's just how he is.  I think I may have had an inkling of that 8 years ago today, but I didn't know the depth of it.

I think marriage should be a partnership in which both parties look out for the well being of the other 100%, reserving nothing and holding nothing back for themselves.  Sometimes we take each other for granted, it's easy to do that when you know the other person has your best interest at heart no matter what, but today, at least, I'm not taking it for granted.  I'm letting the world (or at least the 20 people who read my blog) know that my husband loves me and I love him.  And I don't expect that will ever change.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Advice

I don't give a lot of advice here.  I figure, it took me 30 years to figure a few things out, and I'll probably realize in another 10 that the thing I thought today was actually a bit idiotic anyway.  Besides, even if I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that something is true, the best way to convince people isn't yelling at them about it, generally.  Beyond that, even if I have hit upon an important and life-changing truth, the internet is hardly the place I'm going to go to share it.

But, I do have one piece of advice that I'm willing to share.  This may be the last advice I ever give online, besides the vague "don't worry so much, moms" statements I occasionally make.  Here it goes.  Are you ready for this?

Use Cast Iron.
Yup, that's it.  Use cast iron.  I guess I should give a few reasons, huh?

1.  Food tastes better.  It's actually true.  The problem with using non-stick is that because you can't use very high heat and because you don't have to use fat/oil to keep your food from sticking, you don't get a good sear on meat, or good browning on anything, and your food tastes bo-rang.  It's also nice to have a pan that goes from the stove to the oven, for browning and then roasting.  It makes life easy and food tasty.

2.  It's cheap.  Seriously, this pan is the pan I use, the Lodge Logic,  it's $20 at Walmart or Target or Amazon or anywhere.  Most pans you buy, in fact, pretty much everything you buy, you use with the understanding that they will eventually fall apart and you will have to buy a new one at some point.  This is one of the only things I know of that will actually improve the more you use it.  You won't ever have to buy a new one, and your food will just keep tasting better and better, and the "seasoning" on the bottom will get smoother and more non-stick over time.

3.  It's better for you.  I know, I know, the use of Teflon is controversial, and many people believe it's safe or the jury is still out, and I'm not here to argue, so I'm going to take this from the most non-argumentative stand-point I can.   Let's say that Teflon is 100% safe with proper use, don't go above "medium" heat, throw away if/when the non-stick coating starts to flake off into your food, etc.  Firstly, not everyone's stove heats the same...are you positive you're never going too hot?  I'm not.  Secondly, do you toss your pan every time it starts to get weird on the bottom?  I didn't, in the past I've cooked with it for quite a while until I could budget in a new pan.  Even if there's just a small chance of getting cancer from PFOA, wouldn't it be better to skip it than take that chance?

There are some things about cast iron that make people reluctant to use it.  Cleaning, for one.  My skillet almost never sticks (and with proper use, yours won't either), so it's very rare I have to scrub at it, or do more than rub it with salt for a few seconds, most often, all I have to do is run some hot water over it.  

The use of fat/oil in cooking is another problem people have, but with cast iron you actually use much less than you would with any other kind of non-nonstick pan.  Plus, I don't think the fat/oil we eat is the problem with our diets, but that's another story for another day.  All I'm saying is, embrace the butter, baby.

The other issue is that you really do have to do a little bit of research.  You have to know how to wash and dry and season your pan and what tools to use, and it does take a bit of prep work.  I don't think it adds much to my actual work at all, but I did have to learn how to do it in the first place.

The last issue I can think of is the weight...a cast iron skillet is heavy, it's true.  But, with that heaviness comes an amazingly even heat distribution and good food, so, it's worth it.  Plus, it's like a work out without having to work out, you know?  I'd rather incorporate things that make me stronger in my day-to-day life than to spend time doing nothing but working out.  I'd rather have more heavy household items, more stairs, more resistance.  I guess that makes me weird, though, most people would rather have a 2lb vacuum cleaner and a grocery cart that floats and work out for an hour a day.  There's nothing that I can do about that, except to say, in this case it's worth it.

Alright, I'm gonna wrap this up by making my first point tastes better!  Better food makes for a better life.  A better life, well, is better.  So, get a cheap cast iron skillet.  Or, get an expensive cast iron skillet.  Either way.
Having good tools means that you'll be able to enjoy the process of cooking as much as the food that results.  You'll eat better and enjoy a greater variety of food.  Your kids still won't, and you'll sort of resent them for hating the thing that you spent hours working on, but that's a story for another time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Accidental Tradition

Every year, around mid-December, I think to myself, "hey, you know what would really put me in the Christmas spirit?  Reading the first two chapters of Little Women."

So, I read the first two chapters.  Then I think, "well, I've read this far, I might as well finish the book."

Then I finish the book and say to myself, "I've come this far, I'd better read Little Men."

And, I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this, I wind up reading Jo's Boys, too.

So you see, the last week or two leading up to Christmas is almost always spent reading the entire Little Women series, even though my intent was simply to read two chapters.  I guess that's just how it goes, huh?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What I Like

I tend to be a little, oh, what's the word for it?  Proud?  Conceited?  A raging egomaniac?  I don't know, something like that.  This manifests itself in many areas of my life, but specifically, today, I'd like to address how I don't like to be given advice.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not offended by advice and I don't get mad if people give me advice, but it's not because I'm super nice, it's because I think most advice is so dumb that it's not worth paying any attention to, totally beneath me.  I don't "pin" inspirational quotes because I don't think I need to be reminded of my self-worth...I have plenty of self-worth to go around.  And I often scoff at people who do share inspirational quotes, I can't imagine having to be reminded by Gandhi or Einstein that I'm super awesome.  I know I am.

Yeah, I know, I'm a snot-face.  Hey, maybe that's the term I was looking for earlier.

Anyway, long story short, my sister convinced me to read "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin.  Do I think I need help being happy?  Of course not.  Even if I was unhappy, do I think a book would help me magically be happy?  No.  I can do it by my lonesome, because I'm just that awesome.

Well, regardless, I actually liked the book.  I don't think it changed my life in any way, but she made some interesting points I can't remember right now.  I got the book from the library, and I didn't write anything down and I don't have it with me right now, so I don't remember exactly what she said, but there was this one point in the book she was talking about finding what you actually like to do, instead of doing stuff you think you like to do.

You'd think it's easy knowing what you like, but it's really not.  I've been spending some time evaluating what I like to do, and I'm starting to realize most of what I think I like to do is either stuff I used to like to do or, more commonly, stuff I think I should like to do but really don't.  I've created a measuring stick for myself: if I'm willing to cut into my tv time in the evening, then I really like it.  If I'm not willing to cut into my tv time then I don't like it, or, at least, I don't like it more than a rerun of Chopped.  It's simple really, if I actually do it, then I like it.

So, here's what I'm starting to realize.  I don't like concerts.  In fact, I don't like listening to music unless I'm driving.  I don't like tea unless I'm having tea with a friend.  I don't really like ice cream generally.  These are all things I think I should like, but don't.

I don't like to draw.  I used to, but I don't now, I'm not sure why.  I don't like most movies anymore.  I think I've developed a very short attention span.

I do like to read.  I know that because I actually read, I cut into my tv time to do it and my sleep time, and I sneak pages in between waiting for my grilled cheese sandwich to brown.  I like watching silly tv shows with space ships and aliens and shows where people cook.  Now, if only Restaurant: Impossible had a Restaurant At The End Of The Universe special, I'd be really happy.  I like to cook and I like to eat, which is awesome because eating and tv watching are mutually inclusive.  And I like going places alone, coffee shops, movie theaters, even the grocery store.  And I like coffee.

And I like them:

And I like him:

And I like Christmas.  Unabashedly, genuinely and whole-heartedly.