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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Recommended Reading

 I'm trying to make a point of sharing more of what I'm reading here, and this is a start.  One of the most motivating parts of my job is that I am free to choose some of content I teach.  I thought you might be interested in this short list of some of the readings we've done this semester, as they're all on the theme of simplicity, mindfulness, and technology.

  • Focus. A free ebook about cultivating concentration amid the distractions of our daily lives.  It's written by Leo Babauta.

  • You're Distracted. This Professor can Help.  This article discusses a professor who uses meditation in his classes. He helps students become mindful of the ways in which they use technology so they can become more efficient.  

  • How Not to be Alone. A Times opinion that discusses how technology, specifically smart phones, subtly make it easier for us to isolate ourselves. 

  • This is Water.  If you read nothing else on this list, please read this commencement speech by David Foster Wallace. When asked to summarize the advice DFW gives in this speech, one of my students said, "It's hard for me to summarize because every time I look at it, I see something new."  Today, when I look at this speech again, I see this: 


"If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.
Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it."
This had me thinking about DFW, and talking about him to one of my colleagues. It turns out that this colleague is a huge fan of his writing and he immediately thrust some of DFW's short non-fiction into my hands.  In his hilarious piece called "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never do Again", he wrote this, which struck me as something I've tried to express before, but have fallen woefully short. 

"I am now 33 years old, and it feels like much time has passed and is passing after and after every day. Day to day I have to make all sorts of choices about what is good and important and fun, and then I have to live with the forfeiture of all the other options those choices foreclose. And I'm starting to see how as time gains momentum my choices will narrow and their foreclosures multiply exponentially until I arrive at some point on some branch of all life's sumptuous branching complexity at which I am finally locked in and stuck on one path and time speeds me through sages of stasis and atrophy and decay until I go down for the third time, all struggle for naught, drowned by time. it is dreadful. But since it's my own choices that'll lock me in, it seems unavoidable-if I want to be any kind of grownup, I have to make choices and regret foreclosures and try to live with them."

Tell me, what are you reading these days? I will be back tomorrow with a photo, but I'd love to hear your comments any time!



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Green Things Around the House and Link Love

First, a few links of things I think you might find interesting around the internet.

  • This local homeowner is being forced by the city to cut back his beautiful yard, to standards beyond those normally required of homeowners. I confess, I am one of the people who has left a note on his front porch. I love his yard and will be so sad to see it converted to grass. 
  • This list, 11 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew, is great.
  • Lots of my friends are passing around this article about how pregnancy forever changes a woman's body, specifically as it relates to running.
  • Please read Kate's excellent post about pasture-based farms and MRSA (and send her labor vibes!)
  • Erin is a great photographer, mama, and writer. This post is an example of why I read her blog.
  • David Byrne said some pretty sweet things about Iowa.

I'm trying to get rid of clutter in my house. We're having a garage sale this weekend and I'm using the occasion to purge clothes I never wear, kitchen tools I never use, and books I'll never read again.
But there's one thing I continue to acquire and plan to do so indefinitely: plants. I can't get enough.
I recently divided a few of the root-bound plants that had been languishing since we bought the house. I put them into some pots I had sitting around and a few new ones that I got at the thrift store.
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I painted the gold triangles on the terra cotta pot, and finally bought a jade plant.
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I pulled this gladiolus from the front yard. They are so easy to grow and always impressive. It's sitting on the windowsill with the chicken planter from last week's This Moment.
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I'm making a couple attempts at propagation, too. I grabbed this random vine from a planter at my parents' house and have it sitting in some water until it sprouts roots. 
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I cured some succulent leaves for a couple days and am seeing what happens when I put them on top of some dirt (as shown here).
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Lastly, a woman I love got married this weekend and kindly gave us some of the flowers that were leftover from the wedding. Cut flowers are an indulgence I almost never allow myself, so these make the house feel so special and remind me of the gorgeous celebration of their love.
One for Ellie's table.
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And one for the big kitchen table.
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Do you have any plants around the house right now? Or are you focused outdoors?  I'm hoping to bring in some of our herb garden after the season ends because it's thriving this year. Any tips for how to do this would be appreciated! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Making and Doing

How the HECK are you out there?
Things have been so good here. Summer is in full swing, which means it's almost over, of course.  We have been keeping busy but leaving lots of room for unscheduled time to do whatever suits our fancy. The months of warm weather in Iowa seem so much shorter than those that are cold, and we can never seem to get enough of those days where you only come inside to eat.
Before I get to the pictures and things we've been doing, I want to mention one thing that I won't be doing anymore: Simple Lives Thursday. It just wasn't working for me anymore so I, along with Wardeh and Annette, decided to back away and let Diana carry the SLT torch. I am so incredibly thankful for my time as a host and wouldn't change it for the world, but it's time for a new phase.
We have been doing so many fun things recently.
Ellie loves sprinkling things (especially salt) so I thought it'd be fun to melt crayon shavings between wax paper. She mixed colors, I ironed and cut after they'd cooled. We put some of the big ones in the window and I made a garland from circles cut out of the rest.
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We're thinking a lot about colors so there are rainbows all over the house these days.
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Elle's bedroom gets the best afternoon light and these look so dreamy all lit up.
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She also likes spraying (who doesn't?) so I made her her own spray bottle of vinegar cleaner and let her help clean. She cleans her own mirror in the kitchen and the bottom half of this one. The key was finding a spray bottle small enough for her to hold. 
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She hung out with this puppy and cuteness ensued. 
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More cuteness in Dad's shoes. Shoes and socks are a big interest right now. 
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She took her first trip to the lake and liked it!
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This happened. 
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We celebrated America with cold beer, burgers, and backyard time.
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I've started a little ritual of tea, candlelight, and work to do with my hands some nights of the week. It's so calming. I've started having a little evening tea with Eleanor, too. We drink chamomile, have a snack, and talk about our day right before bed. It's an effort to slow things down a bit.
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Aside from doing, we've also managed to make quite a few interesting things since I stopped here last.
In the spirit of using my hands, I finally finished a little shrug I had been knitting for E. Just in time for summer! Hopefully it still fits this fall.  It was my first big kitting project so I was just happy to see that it had two arms.
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And a back :)
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Almost every weekend we make pancakes. Wet to dry, Ellie stirs.
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I got her a small wooden spoon from Goodwill because the big ones are so unwieldy for her.
If I could have my way, I'd have a kitchen filled only with jadeite. 
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I dug my old cast iron griddle out and have been using it a lot. It's less ideal than using it on a gas stove, but it still works far better than frying in a pan.
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Scrambled eggs with fresh chives from the garden. 
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Creamed kale and eggs over quinoa, on a special placemat. 
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I am always looking for recipes that E can help with and my salmon cakes are a perfect fit. I prepped all the ingredients and she dumped and stirred.
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Concentration.
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That is mayonnaise on her face from tasting from the measuring cup, of course. 
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I formed the patties and fried them up, and as usual, they were delicious.
I'm sorry that I don't have a recipe for you, but I'll see you again tomorrow with another post for the This Moment series. I'm trying to put out shorter posts so I don't go so long without blogging, but it's difficult.
How are things where you are? Thank you so much for sticking around. 


Saturday, July 6, 2013

This Moment

Oregano and thyme from the garden.
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I'll be back with more soon <3 p="">
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