Mar 31, 2008

My Sentiments

exactly. Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor, you're not as smart as you think you are. You should have taken me out on a date...or at least for coffee before you claimed to know me so well. You're sleeping on the couch tonight.

Mar 30, 2008

On a Lighter Note

Today we had the opportunity to meet up with a few high school friends of mine. I haven't seen my friend, Kate, for several years as she was in the process of becoming a nun, so she was out of state and did not get to come home very often. After a few years, she felt that she was no longer being called to that religious life. I'm sure it was a difficult decision to leave, but she'll still be serving God, now in a less structured fashion.

We met up with Kate and Julie (as well as Julie's family) at Frederik Meijer Gardens. The butterflies are in bloom, and beautiful as always. We didn't find any African Moon moths, but saw an awesome Atlas moth fresh out of the cocoon. It was as large as my hand! The moths really only come out at night, so most of the visitors won't see them other than in the "Butterfly Bungalow." After all of that, they only live 3-4 days.

I love spending time with Julie's kids. She has three with a fourth on the way! They are all so friendly and smart. My favorite moment of the day was carrying their middle child back to the car. We had been playing outdoors in the tree house area. She finally and abruptly became exhausted. Instead of getting crabby, she just kept repeating in a meek voice, "I am sleepy. I am so tired." As a I carried her with her head resting on my shoulder, she lamented on how far away the door was. At 35 pounds, I soon grew tired and handed her to Brian. When he mentioned to her how heavy she was, she just stated, "I know." Her cuteness makes my ovaries cramp with the desire for my own children.

After sucking on a lemon

Mar 28, 2008

Mixed Feelings

Last night I put up a post about some general thoughts of the day. In one section of the post, I asked for advice from my readers on how to handle a difficult situation at work. In that post, I mentioned a "14 year old girl" and some generalities of her personal struggle, with no specific identifiers. An "anonymous" reader from Grand Rapids went on to comment to me that I should have not brought my work home with me and that my content was a "breach of that patient's rights." The entire comment was not helpful to me and was, I felt, condescending. In reading her/his comments this AM, I immediately went on to delete my post.

Now, not knowing who the commenter was, I don't know how well they know me. I believe anyone that knows me understands how seriously and professionally I approach my job. In no way did I feel the writing was a breach of that patient's rights. The patients best interests are in my mind, and in fact, I work very hard to care for her and her family. More important than rights would be her confidentiality, which I feel is a separate issue. I was specifically vague to guard her confidentiality.

People have different feelings about how to construct their blogs. I know some blog authors who keep their content purposely shallow. Others speak of their most intimate feelings. I have tried to do a bit of both, feeling that my blog is a bit of a journal and creative outlet but try to respect the privacy of my family, friends, and clients. One character flaw of mine is that I do care too much about other's opinions of me even when they are "anonymous." So, I will no longer look to my blog readers for professional advice, although I do feel that many of your opinions would have been worthwhile.

Mar 25, 2008

What I learned on Oprah

Last week I watched a recorded episode of Oprah regarding freegans. This was one of Lisa Ling's investigative reports. I thought I might be the last to know about freegans, but in speaking to Brian, he was unaware. Seeing as how Brian usually knows a bit about everything, I thought I'd update the rest of you and get your opinion.

Freeganism is an anti-consumerism lifestyle. What I understood from the people featured on the show, was that they believe we waste and want too much. LIsa Ling stated that over 30 billion dollars worth of food is discarded by grocery stores yearly. Many freegans have given up their conventional job and now enjoy a much simpler life. They obtain most of their food by "dumpster diving." They didn't eat spoiled food or leftovers, they just scrounge restaurant and grocery store dumpsters for foods slightly damaged or expired, but not spoiled. In many cases, they found sealed packages of items like baked goods, vegetables, coffee beans, that were past their date, but obviously still edible. You can imagine the bagels and bakery items they can find outside of food chains. I'm sure you can imagine the cartons of eggs that go wasted due to one cracked egg. Besides food, they also search for household items, like furniture. It seems that they dumpster dive in large groups and then divide their findings. So you can learn from seasoned freegans and feel safe in a group.

I understand what the freegans are doing and I agree that we waste far too much. I feel awful that so much food goes to waste just because grocery stores have to worry about that marked expiration date in such a litigious society. I've slightly considered what it would be like to go on a group dumpster dive, but I don't know that I would ever get past the societal association to homelessness. Also, I think the freegan movement hasn't exactly made it to Holland. I just love free stuff!

For now, I suppose I'll stick to some of their less offensive recommendations, like growing my own vegetable garden and bartering goods. I'll also make an effort to purchase items that are slightly bruised or closer to expiration, knowing that if I don't use those items, there's a good chance they'll go to complete waste. You can find out more information here.

Mar 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Easter is a beautiful season. This season reminds me of new life and fertility. Hopefully some of that will rub off on us.

Yesterday we celebrated with Brian's immediate family. The came out for a dinner, giving me the perfect opportunity to use our china. We actually hadn't used it at all since we've been married. I wish we could host more gatherings at our house, but it is a bit out-of-the-way.
The china pattern is Faith by Lenox. I love the elegant simplicity. We only had 7 place settings, but made do. I need to put some more pieces on my wish list. We served a roast, au gratin potatoes, roasted asparagus, and carrot cake. Jeff and Jacqueline made a great olive tapenade and Julie introduced us to her specialty -better than sex cake.

Following dinner, we all went to Easter Vigil mass. Brian was one of several cantors. He really did a fantastic job. You'd have never known how nervous he was. The mass is long, but it really is beautiful in the ceremonious aspect. It's wonderful to consider the great religious significance of Easter for Christians around the world. As an adult, I've really become to appreciate the religious focus of the holiday. Whereas Christmas, with the stress of buying presents and so many holiday gatherings, doesn't feel the same.

Today we took Maggie down to Saugatuck and strolled for a bit in the sunlight. She found a lot of untouched snow to romp in. She looks like she's flying - go Underdog!

A few other Easter images:

My very first, made from scratch, carrot cake. It looked and tasted great. The recipe came from my favorite resource, Everyday Food magazine.

Beautiful tulips from Jeff and Jacqueline. We also received red tulips in our Easter basket from Patty and Chuck. I will keep those bulbs to plant in our garden this fall.

Mar 21, 2008

Winter? Storm Warning

Snow is in the air right now, but thankfully I am at home relaxing. I thought it was spring, but apparently I was wrong. I took today off of work and am so glad I did. The smell of nutmeg and cinnamon from a cooling carrot cake fills the air. My hard boiled eggs are cooling in the sink. I look forward to brightly coloring them later.

Maggie lies on her pillow next to me, looking up every once in a while to make sure I haven't left her. I'm currently reading The Loved Dog. Tamar speaks about the difference between being loved by your dog and being connected with your dog. Being connected is superior. One test of this is to go walking with your dog and another adult. As they walk along, lag back and hide. See if your dog notices that you've left their side and comes to find you. Now I haven't read so far as to why it is so much more important to be connected, but I can hypothesize that the dog will be better behaved.

Now that I've finished the baby blanket, I've started a new batch of spinning. I'm currently spinning a bag of Bluefaced Leicester. I'm enjoying it so much more than the alpaca. I now wish I would've saved the alpaca for later, when I'm more skilled at spinning. I'm trying to spin this at a lighter weight than what I've done before. This way I may actually end up with enough yarn for a baby project.

I'm moving along on my Shetland Triangle shawl. The slight variances in the pink dye are beautiful to examine. I should be able to finish this in a week or two if I stay on task.

Have a Happy Easter!

Mar 18, 2008

Think Spring

In the spirit of spring, I'm knitting myself a soft pink shawl. This is Malabrigo lace that I bought in Kalamazoo when I visited Linda. The pattern is the Shetland Triangle from Interweave Knits. It's an easy lace project with a 10 row repeat that is fairly easy to memorize. For anyone out there who has been thinking about trying lace, I highly recommend this pattern.

Mar 16, 2008

Rubber Duckie

We held my sister's baby shower this weekend. At the counsel of Carrie and hostess with the mostess, we put together a terrific Rubber Duckie themed shower.

Here is the proud mother and father-to-be. Her shirt was fantastic at disguising her baby bump, but you can see it if you look closely. It doesn't seem like she's put a pound anywhere else on her body.

We held the shower at Station 885 in Plymouth, MI. We had a nice fireside room all to ourselves. Each of the tables was decorated with floating ducks, blue jewels, mirrored disks and flowers.

My mother did a terrific job with all of the prizes. There were more than enough, almost three prizes per attendant! She had lemon flavored duck chocolates, mint covered Oreos, hand knit washcloths with soap, bath salts (lemon orange or lavendar), bracelets (on rubber duckies), and cards printed with my younger sister's own floral photography. All homemade!! I had to take a few prizes for myself!

The cake was also very special. Mom gave Busch's Value Land a couple of ducks and asked them to make a pond scene. They went to town. There were even small butterflies, dragonflies, and jelly bean rocks.

I can finally show off the knitting that I made for Chris. This is a cabled baby blanket from Debbie Bliss "Simply Baby." I made it with Di.Ve Zenith superwash merino. The turquoise is a powerful color, but will stimulate the baby and go well with their lighthouse/fish themed nursery and baby toys.

She received many great gifts, store bought and homemade, including several crocheted blankets, baby sweaters, hand sewn bibs and so on. That baby is going to be loved by many! I can't wait to meet him/her!

Mar 11, 2008

Good Eats

This week I did not feel any creativity for meal planning, so I let the March issue of Everyday Food do the work for me. In most issues, they supply a week's worth of quick recipes along with a grocery list.

So far we've made lemon-roasted chicken with arugula salad and dilled orzo.

And last night, balsamic skirt steak with polenta and steamed broccoli.

(If you look closely, you can see Maggie's nose in the lower left corner sniffing the steak.)

More than anything, I appreciated the sides in the dishes. Have you ever made orzo? If not, I'd highly suggest this perfect complement instead of rice. For this side, I simply cooked 1 cup of orzo, as suggested on the box. (btw, find orzo with the pasta in your supermarket) Once the water was drained, I added 1/2 tsp of dried dill, 1 tbsp olive oil, and salt/pepper to taste. Yum!

Mar 9, 2008

Smarter than I thought

Last Wednesday, while walking Maggie, I gave her a portion of a biscuit for good behavior. She immediately ran to a snowbank and buried it. At the time we were about four blocks from our house. I thought to myself, "Dumb dog, you'll never get that treat back." Today was the first day we walked that exact route again. Without hesitation, once we came to that area, she ran to the snowbank and started digging. It took me a second to realize what she was digging for. She wasn't off by an inch. She must've been thinking "I'll have to remember where I buried that treasure. It was right past the ghetto house in tan and the diaper lying in the middle of the sidewalk. Four steps forward and two steps to the right."

Of course, she's still a little dumb, because although she found the bone, it had dissolved in the melting snow.

Mar 8, 2008

Sunny Saturday

I am back from a morning trip to Kzoo to see my very dear friend, Linda. Maggie and I have the house to ourselves as Brian has left for Rockford to brew beer with friends.

Maggie has found a nice sunny spot to slumber in. As you can see, we still have plenty of snow outside, but the sun sure warms the heart.

I had a great time in Kalamazoo. We knit at Waterstreet Coffee Joint, and I made sure to bring some coffee home. I can't wait to brew some tomorrow (none today because I gave up caffeine for Lent). Linda showed me her new home which she'll move into the end of this month. She described it as English cottage style - I think it looks simply perfect.

I made sure to stop by St. Tom's to check out the construction. For all of you St. Tom's alumni, I made sure to snap a few photos for you to share in. It still has a long way to go, but the entrance looks magnificent.

You know what else looked magnificent? (in a more understated way) These felted mittens that Linda made. They're thick, warm, and could double as oven mitts.

But speaking of knitting, I'm off to go do some of my own! Hope you all are enjoying the sunbeams.

Mar 6, 2008

American Idol Talkback

1) I would've never guessed David Hernandez was a stripper, but now that I know, I have no idea how I didn't see that before.

2) Why doesn't Randy know Ramiele's name? Come on, Ramalee? I would've been so annoyed if I was her. But I was a bit annoyed at her statement through song, "Take a look at me now." So you have partied a few nights and were caught on camera. You don't have to be so dramatic about your defense.

3) David Archuleta - you are a dream. You may lick your lips obsessively, but you're still dreamy. If I was 13, I'd have posters of you taped over my bed.

4) Paula = manic.

5) David Cook's hair gives me flashbacks of when Brian tried to grow his hair out last winter. These are not good flashbacks.

6) Danny, I'll miss you. Forever I will think of you when I hear "ish."

Mar 5, 2008

The Library

Did you know about this awesome place? Have you been there lately? I tell you what, today's library is about as good as it gets. I can search the "card catalog" from the comfort of my own home. I don't have to wander around the aisles. I just order them online and they pull them for me. In fact, they gather them from any of the libraries in the area, and then contact me by e-mail once they've rubber-banded them into a neat pile for me. All I do is walk ten steps from the door to the check-out desk! All of this, and it's free! If you're in the habit of reading and you like saving money, I have no idea why you wouldn't use the library.

My current book list:
Water for Elephants
101 Designer One-Skein Wonders
No More Mondays

Mar 4, 2008

Roam if you want to.

Roam around the block.

Maggie ran away this morning. The clasp on her outdoor lead must have been stuck open and let loose her collar. When I saw she was gone I flipped. I had the feeling similar to the scene where Pee-Wee realizes someone stole his prized bicycle (except no laughing clown was involved). I wasn't sure how to go about finding her. I ran around the house for a minute and then decided to jump in the car and drive around the neighborhood. I started out on a mission with focused intensity, but soon my intensity turned to fear. I realized trying to find her in an urban area could be likened to a needle in a haystack. There were so many fenced in backyards that she could be sniffing around, hidden from my view. It's trash day on our street, so I drove down past every can, thinking she'd be munching. I drove to all of her familiar areas, parks and playgrounds. I went downtown thinking she'd have found someone to socialize with. Soon my eyes began to tear as I realized I may never see her again, or just may never see her alive again. That was a scary thought.

So I went home with a new strategy to walk around shaking treats and calling for her. As I pulled up to our house, there she sat on the front stoop. She seemed to be waiting for someone to come open the door for her. She'd never looked sweeter to me. So after an hour of adventure, my baby found her way home. I was so happy to see her and, it seemed, she me because she ran out to the street to join me. I picked her up and gave her a big hug....

We were lucky today, but I hope every dog owner minds this story and makes sure their dog has an i.d. tag and a microchip. It is a terrifying thing losing your beloved puppy. even if it is for only one hour.