Monday, January 31, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter

Nothing like a little Sunday cooking for the week, right lovies?  And I was feeling crafty in the kitchen yesterday. While the Math Man was on a conference call (did I mention he's a smarty?  Not only does he work fulltime but he's getting his MBA too.  It makes for a busy busy Math Man and makes me so proud of him), I was poking around our kitchen thinking about dinner.

I'd had aspirations to roast a pork shoulder but after a delicious-but-too-large brunch with his parents that morning, I was hoping to find something a bit lighter.  So I turned to my tried-and-true spaghetti sauce over roast cauliflower. 

Once I got the post of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove, I was still having fun in the kitchen.  I have been thinking about the possibility of grinding my own peanut butter.  I was inspired by this recipe for something of a peanut version of nutella.  I love peanut butter and if it wasn't so bad for me, I think I'd eat it everyday.  It is just such a filling, satisfying snack.  It takes apple slices and makes them a meal.  It cuts through long afternoons at the office and quiets tummy grumbling like nothing else.  Of course, peanuts are still high calorie little nuts, but such a little bit of peanut butter goes such a long way, that I have been mostly trying to avoid peanut butter not because of the calories from the peanuts, but because of all the sugars and oils that commercial peanut butter has added to it. 

I added a half banana to the food processor as well and several handfuls of peanuts.  (I use these--they are the best!  And a great organization helping lots of people.)  And I'm quite happy to report that this came out deliciously.  I had a few doubts that my little off-brand food processor (which I bought during law school with westlaw points!  YES!!) could actually take peanuts and grind them until they were smooth and not just have them in little bits, but sure enough, Deb knows her stuff and she was right.  Peanuts have enough natural oil in them to make their own peanut butter without adding anything else.  I actually think I got to perfect consistency and then made the mistake of letting the food processor keep going for another three minutes, moving it beyond perfect consistency to a bit crumbly.  I don't know if that is even possible, that just seems to be what happened.  (I imagine kinda like cream.  You can whip it and whip it until it's whipped cream.  But if you keep going on from there, you miss that magic window and you'll end up with butter.)  Kitchen masters of the bloggyworld, does anyone think that makes any sense?

postedit: the next day my peanut butter was a bit more crumbly (perhaps from leaving it too long in the food processor?) and the exposed top in the tupperware had turned brown (perhaps from the banana?).  It was still delicious.  This might be kind of a turn off for some people though, and certainly it isn't the high sugar, super smooth peanut butter that Jiffy makes, but I thought it was still as delicious as the day before and I like it more because of knowing all the things that weren't in it!


Mr. Mason wants you to know just how much he LOOOOVES peanut butter!  (and why yes, telling you all about my peanut butter endeavor did turn into the perfect excuse to share this funny-yet-adorable picture of the famous Mr. Mason himself needing a groom and being a bit naughty having found an open jar of peanut butter, perhaps in 2009ish)


Things I Love: Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up: Dresses with Stripes

We had a gorgeous 65 degree January Sunday.  The sun was out and I loved every minute of it.  The weather has me daydreaming of spring.  And beaches and bike rides and long chatty walks with friends and flip flops and dresses without tights on underneath or sweaters on over top.

Particularly adorable sun dresses like this one from Shabby Apple.  You must click on the link and check out the sweet not-too-low-but-quite-cute scoop of that back too.  Although, I must admit, I'm not a huge fan of those shoes with that dress.  I think I'd wear some strappy high-heeled sandals or some nude peep-toe pumps.  And dear model, please don't pout.  .  You look quite put out and you have such a pretty face and you should be happy--you are at the park!, so please smile.  Mr. Mason would. 

Or this one from Anthropologie.

Obviously, I'm loving summery stripes right now.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Biking Like My Mr. Mason


So at the risk of being teased mercilessly embarrassing myself further, I thought it was time that this little corner of bloggyland got a picture.  And, of course, nothing can be cuter than Mr. Mason himself.  Only, I don't seem to have any pictures of him on this computer (note to self: must remedy this.  Your audience of 4--whoohoo!  FOUR people are actually following this!--must have proof of Mr. Mason's cuteness) and so I'm going to share with you this picture of him from last weekend.  What is that you say?  You can barely see him for the bike trailer*?  Well, consider this a bit of a teaser then.  More pictures to come.  More gentle self-fun-poking at my own expense as well.

*Yes, I'm well aware that the fact we own a bike trailer is pretty yuppie-tastic.  In fact, I cropped it because the Math Man certainly wouldn't want a photo of him pulling this thing out for all the world to see.  Sigh... You could probably read into this as just one more way in which I treat my Mr. Mason as a stand-in baby... Not that I would do that, of course.  The story behind the bike trailer starts with the fact that the Math Man and I like to ride.  Road biking, of course.  None of that hardcore mountain stuff.  Our town has an extensive greenway system which I just love.  When we first started, I was a bit timid, having not really ever spent much time riding a bike growing up.  But now, I'm much better.  Ehem, well, I am comfortable going over that bump in the sidewalk without slowing down to only 4 mph.  Anyhow, we've started logging anywhere from 12 to 15 miles almost every weekend and we just love chitchatting and stopping for frozen yogurt and just generally getting out there.  But I feel guilty because we've got this sweet little guy at home who would love to be out and about with us.  Hence the bike trailer.  I got it for the Math Man for Christmas and you can probably picture his look of puzzlement when he opened it up.  Mr. Mason has now logged five miles riding it to the lake, where he then got to walk around the lake for 2 miles with us, and then five miles riding in the trailer back to the house.  Pre-bike trailer this is a trip he would have never gotten to take.  After all, Mr. Mason, while being quite fit for a bichon, just plain ol' can't do a 12 mile jaunt in one day.

p.s. Why yes, it did make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to hear from people passing by what a cutie he was.  You most certainly can leave me comments to that effect if you so choose.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fashion to end Batten Disease

This is a shameless plug.  I mentioned in one of my first posts how Batten disease research is a cause near and dear to my heart.  I may have mentioned that Taylor is the reason why.  She spunky and has a heart the size of our fabulous stretch from east to west state of North Carolina. 

Batten disease is ugly.  It causes blindness but it isn't content to stop at that.  It causes seizures.  It causes mental deterioration.  It takes away the ability to walk, to talk, to even eat.  It kills.  It is merciless and mean-spirited.  And it must be stopped. 

I want to do my little bit.  In fact, I've wanted to do my little bit for a long time and I've felt inadequate.  I've been in grad school and even now that I've graduated that monthly student loan payment makes me suck in my breath and do a bit of math each time.  I've put off going to the dentist goshdarnit for so long I'm now convinced I've got cavities.  (How long is so long?  Well, let's just say I think I might have been in 2007.)

But the thing is?  Cavities won't kill me (I know, don't tell me how they have killed someone before... my mouth isn't that bad).  And kids like Taylor need the researchers to get researching now.  As in yesterday-now.

So, I'm trying to do my little bit.  (and no, I, of course, don't plan on this being my only little bit, so here's my little bit for right now)  I have a giftcard.  A $250 giftcard to renttherunway.com  It's worth checking out.  The concept behind this little stroke of genius is that surely there are lots of women with Champagne tastes who only have Diet Dr. Pepper bank accounts.  (ehem, I might be one of them)  We can't all have caviar every day.  Or dangle multiple carets of diamonds from our ears.  We can't all afford to wear Prada and Gucci and goodness I don't even know the names of the biggest up and coming expensive designers.  But we can rent it.  Look smashing for that fancy wedding or debutante ball or reunion or perhaps even you're headed to a charity gala....  Then on Monday morning after the big day drop the expensive item in the mail.  Don't even bother to dry clean it.  And viola!  You were the bell of the ball.  Think about the facebook comments your friends will leave you about how fabulous you looked in your designer duds. 

Of course, the real joy in the whole thing is that you can really make a difference while doing it.  So here's the auction.  Go ahead, you're surfing the internet anyhow.  Just go check it out.  And if you can bid, please do.  And if you can't, then tell someone else about it.  Do you know any fashionistas?  Do you know any big-hearted people who also hate what this horrible disease is doing to Taylor and children like Taylor?  Spread the word.  Bid bid bid, my dearies!

Things I Love: Horse Bookends

I saw these horse bookends featured yesterday or the day before on this sweet blog I love to check out when I decide I deserve a 45 second brain break at work. 

I pretty much adore them.  I used to ride and I miss it and actually about two or three years ago I found some fantastic horse bookends similar to these (only much much cheaper) at TJ Maxx's (one of my favorite places ever) and we were in a hurry so I didn't get them.  Of course, when I went back two days later they were gone and my heart has pined for them ever since.

Of course, this time, when I clicked through Joanna's blog to the etsy shop where she found these beauties they were already gone.  DramaticLeSigh.  Guess it was a sign I should save my money.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Could Have Written That

Do you ever get that feeling?  Like whoa, I could have written that?! 

Only, of course, not as eloquently.  Nor as unabashedly boldly.  I saw this article on a friend's post on facebook and it has left me thinking about it all week long.

Actually, interestingly, it was a facebook post from a dear friend of mine in highschool in Cincinnati.  She didn't go to my school, but we were in an extracurricular choir together which met every week and we sat next to each other and would whisper between song sets and hang out at the breaks.  She's the only Mormon (I think) I've ever known and I can remember in highschool being so very impressed with her dedication.  She got up before school 2?, 3?, 4? days a week and went to a small group bible class at her ward.  She had a great alto voice and her grasp of music theory was much stronger than mine.  She was quiet, but then so was I, and once we got to chatting, we then sat next to each other for every choir practice from there on out.  Probably about three years of once a week.  I learned we had similar life outlooks and I really liked her.  We "got" each other.  (To be fair, it's been a decade since I graduated from high school and last saw her.  I don't know if all of my details are correct, but I do know that my memory of her sweetness is true.) 

She went on to some large Mormon university out west and I went to Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Her parents moved away from Cincinnati and my family moved back home to Virginia.  We're now facebook friends and perhaps only twice in the ten! years since I last saw her we've had a little "how are you doing?" facebook exchange.  She's married and has three adorable children.  I check on her blog every few months and sometimes leave comments and I have absolutely no reason to believe she'd even remember anything about me.  

So here's where the irony comes in.  She linked to this article with some sort of comment like "groan."  (I am paraphrasing and unable to find it to quote her accurately, but that was certainly her gist)  Which I find somewhat ironic because of course my reaction to the article was more like "Oh wow.  I'm not the only one."  Obviously, we're two intelligent girls women who were raised by somewhat similar families (at least socioeconomically and with similar emphasis on education) and who spent hours in high school agreeing on a great number of things.  What's more, she went to college, I went to college.  I then spent my first two years out of school working for a children's advocacy organization, while she was working for a women's advocacy organization.  I went to law school and just recently graduated last May.  Facebook tells me that she's in graduate school now.

Of course, there are also big differences.  I am still waiting on my Math Man, while she has been married for several years now.  She has three young children.  I only have my Mr. Mason.  And I award myself breaks out of my day to check on my favorite blogs and bask in their happiness, imagining that some day I too will return to photography so I can record gorgeous images of my someday littles as well.  

So I wonder if this is sort of a matter of the "grass always being greener...."  I personally have been spending quite a bit of time lately wondering how to better achieve balance in my own life and I am not ashamed to admit that I want a lot of things from my life that sometimes seem difficult to achieve all at once.  Someday, I want children, and a happy marriage, and a satisfying career, and yes, sometimes, perhaps-shallowly, I get stressed out when my little apartment isn't clean, when I don't work out, when I feel guilty for not spending enough time with Mr. Mason, when the last four meals have involved the microwave, and so oh goodness, it's normal for me to admire these women* that seem to do it all and so very joyfully too, right?  My goodness, and they even have time to make homemade halloween costumes, run a small etsy business, and beautifully photograph the entire process while they're at it. 

Of course, I know this bloggy world lets us always self-select to put our best foot forward.  I know because sometimes even the most beautiful of mommy-bloggers will admit to moments of frustration, slammed doors, and occasional curse words.  Perhaps that's what my friend was thinking of when she typed in her commentary of "groan."

But, sometimes I think too that for all the power that a fancy expensive degree on my wall does for me (and dear alma mata of mine, yes, I do bleed purple and I do appreciate all that I got from you), it can't compare in pure-joy-garnering to anything that those mommy-bloggers get to stop and reflect on every single day.  I feel such pride when I finally "figure out" a case, but would I not feel that same or greater pride watching my baby learn to walk or my toddler sharing a toy?

I understand (at least my brain does and it regularly relays this message to my heart) that now is not the time to start down that path of nesting and baby-raising.  There are loans to pay down and a Math Man to marry and a career that I've worked so hard to just now start that I want to pursue.  Plus there is the complication of not even living in one city all the time and just forever being in a state of "temporary."  And so, in the meantime, I check in on my favorites and read about their adventures out in bloggyland.  I file away the ideas and the inspiration and think that one day I'll have my own littles to play this game with or make that project with.  And, of course, I just soak up all the babies that I have in my life right now.  My two bestests' babies W and X. 

*See my earlier posts to know that my admiration doesn't confine itself just to the Mormon mommy blogs.  My obsession is pretty much with all the lifestyle and mommy blogs.  Particularly the beautiful ones.  The joyful ones.  The ones that gracefully handle adversity and relish the teaching of their little ones.  The ones that find joy even in making wholesome dinners when they know it will end up mostly on the floor or in hair.  The ones that find laughter in spit-up.  I have however noticed that there seems to be a large percentage of these blogs about Mormon families.  I don't know much about their faith, and I admit to being even put off by some of their church's stances on major social issues (ehem, equal access to marriage for all, I'm looking right at you), but I'm no longer surprised when I after perusing these public photos and stories of some very elegant, competent woman's life and her beautiful, happy children, I notice a reference to trunk o' treat or ward meetings or FHE.  I may not agree with them on everything, and our lives have probably taken different paths, but I sure do admire their outlook, their public face forward, their smiles, and their obvious love for their families.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Just a reminder to myself that things work out.

Well, I'm sitting in a coffeeshop in the downtown of local-college-town.  I'm freezing because somehow I left my house thinking that my favorite TJ Maxx's yoga pants, sneakers, a snuggly fleece and a North Face jacket (which I'm 90% sure is a knock off but who am I to argue with Mr.-cheapest-price-on-ebay?) was warm enough for an average North Carolina January day.  And maybe it would be normally but this coffeeshop seems to be saving on their heating bills.  I'm editing a draft for work which is due Monday and I'm a bit annoyed at myself that I seemed to have not gotten my act together enough that I had to bring work home on a weekend.  It's been a while since I sat freezing in a coffeeshop surfing the web Westlaw.... about a year as a matter of fact.  And the de ja vous-ness of the moment makes me think about what a year of changes I've had since this time last year when I was still in law school.  In Chicago.  Probably freezing.  And worrying about what was next. 

All in all, I'd say, I've been pretty lucky.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

More inbox housecleaning (and sharing)

I sent this one in November:

I am of course pleased to know that "Waity Katie" Middleton has gotten engaged to her Prince William.  We have a lot in common, Kate and I.  She likes horses.  I like horses.  She likes to ski.  I like to ski.  She has incredible fashion sense.  I aspire to someday have incredible fashion sense.  She graduated from college in 2005.  So did I.  Her major was art history.  I had a fine art minor.  She studied abroad in Chile--I studied abroad in Chile!  She is 28.  I am 28.  She speaks English.  English is my first language too!  She started dating Prince William in Spring of 2004--I started dating my Math Man* in Spring of 2004.  Obviously, we can take this as a very good sign.  2011 is a hot year for girls whose real names are Catherine to get married. 

*email edited only to protect the names of those not-yet-aware of this public blog about my private inner thoughts.  (After all, I don't want to embarrass him)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm not really one of the cool kids.

This is an old email I sent to one of my best friends last September:  (I just came across it today while cleaning out my email box)

So, want to hear something that was (kinda) funny that happened to me this morning?  I was listening to NPR as I was getting ready to hop in the shower.  I hoped in and then I heard "new judges announced" so I of course had to turn off the water so I could hear who Obama had nominated and what districts.  You can imagine my disappointment when the NPR commentator finished with "on American Idol."

To my future otra mitad naranja*

I found a sweet blog today.  Worth sharing.  It's premised on a series of statements that this self described "a little idealistic" man has been writing to his future wife.  Some of them are quite sweet and some made me smile ("We will not be participating in any “Real Housewives of ______” productions. Viewing, maybe. Participating, no.").  I love the idea of these little quips so much I wish I'd thought of it myself. 

*I studied abroad in Chile and fell in love with this phrase.  Literally it means "my other half orange" and they use it instead of soul mate.  It makes me smile because Math Man is mi otra mitad naranja.

postedit: I found the female counterpart.  This blog follows the same format and is perhaps a bit less idealistic but quite clever and funny and yes, even sweet. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

2nd Post

Hmm, I'm laughing a bit at myself (but that's what life's about, right?) for my lack of creativity in the post-naming department.  Maybe I'll get better at that.  Or maybe I won't.  Still, I've decided that the point is to write, to get ideas out, and to be honest.  This is my space to do so and frankly I don't have a plan for where this post is going, much less do I actually have a goal for what this blog will be overall.  So I thought I'd talk about aspirations. 

I have quite a few little places on the web that I check in on regularly.  People whose lives are nothing like mine.  And who know nothing about me at all.  But I think of them as co-friendly souls.  People out there in bloggy world who bravely bare their lives and let people like myself peer in.  And some of them I disagree with some of the time.  But I still think they're quite brave.  They open themselves up to criticism, but they also open themselves up to support and love.  I thought I'd share a few here that I love.  While I of course don't plan to copy anyone's style or blog (Nor could I.  I don't even have a camera of my own right now.  And my own cute baby is furry and 4 legged, so they'll be no potty training hilarity on this blog--at least not in the foreseeable future.  And I'm quite brand new at this so I don't know how to even embed anything.   And as you'll see, I'm apparantly quite fond of parentheticals.), I do admire bits and pieces of each one of these.  Mostly the smiley bits.  The beautiful bits.  And the real bits.  And so I hope to emulate just a bit of each one of these (and others') my-most-favorite bits. 

So, in short, some of my faves:

Sweet Nella & Lainey Love Kelle, you make me want to be a mom, you do it so beautifully.  Oh, okay, so I wanted to be a mom even before finding Kelle's site, but Kelle does such a great job at finding the beauty in it that I want to do it even more.  But that's a story for another day...

Margot & Ruby This blog makes me want to get out there and dig in the dirt (yes, from the second-flood condo--I know, I know) and sew (on the sewing machine that I don't yet have but that I am currently scouring craigstlist for) and can veggies (like the rows of canned dilly beans that were in my granny's very scary basement the whole time I was growing up).  Oh yes, and also have children and write well and be so very balanced that when I occasionally fall out of balance I can remember the important things and re-center with a blog post. 

Dooce Heather Armstrong, you make me smile.  Okay, and also occasionally laugh outloud at work.  I love that you can talk about dog farts and birds in the wall and still be real enough to talk about the stuff that matters too.  Like mental health.  And almost rabid but cute babies.  You know, just so it doesn't get too serious. 

SmittenKitchen Oh, and perhaps if my own blog takes a different turn, you'll see ways in which I emulate Deb's kitchen brilliance.  I mean, learning to cook as naturally and as well as my own mom, is on the bucket list.

And then there's Joanna's great finds and Kat's style advice.  (because as much as I try not to and as much as my budget and my day-to-day outfits might lead you to think otherwise, I am sometimes a material girl.  I try not to be.  But I just love pretty things so much.  By pretty things, I generally mean clothes)

Taylor So this one is the only one that I know "in real life."  And yes, perhaps my only not-super-discovered-already-by-everyone-else-in-the-bloggyworld, contribution to this how-I-sometimes-waste-pass-my-time-list.  And unlike the others I don't so much aspire to be like the image that the writer puts out their as their "public face"--that's because I know them in real life.  As much as I admire this family based on Laura's well written words, I admire them seven hundred times more because of the grace I see them demonstrate in their real lives.  Taylor King has Batten Disease.  It's a horrible disease.  It's stealing from Taylor.  It's also robbing Celia and Tatyanna and Brandon and Jeremy.  It's stealing from their families.  It's stealing from all of us.  And yet Taylor lives in the moment.  She doesn't chat as much as she used to, but when she does open up to you, it's worth it.  She's really special. 

(Anyone?  Anyone who is out there?  Who else do you love?) 

Of course, I hope to pick up the bits and pieces of my aspirational life which I recognize in all of these various others and try them on for size and mend and alter and keep what fits for my own life.  And I intend to remember that afterall, no one can do a better job being me than me.  And so, in this blog you might be able to expect my thoughts on life, beauty, food, my impact upon the world (going for a positive one here people), and anything and everything else that crosses my mind and which I take the time to write about.

Oh and p.s. I had two comments!  TWO!!  Pearl Westwood and WhiteWhispers2u, thank you.  Your welcomes were so unexpected and appreciated.  This is why I want to blog.  Because I think know that it will be an experience which will be affirming of my belief that the world is a good place.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A First Blog

Well, this is a new experiment for me.  I'm Callie.  Late 20something new attorney living in the Carolinas.  I've been a blog reader for a long time and now have decided to try it for myself.  I've spent a lot of time smiling over things I've read online and so I hope to create my own little bit of online space where perhaps I can record the things that have made me smile and also contribute to this exchange of ideas.  I'm not really sure what all I'll write about here.  Not my job (after all, I do want to keep it and my bar license--thank you very much NC Board of Law Examiners).  But all the rest of my life and the things that I enjoy: books I love, places I go, decorating, clothes, cooking, and the funny little antidotes that make me smile and that I don't want to forget.

And who is Mr. Mason?  He's my almost 5 year old, almost 17.5 lb dog (That's his goal weight accord to the vet.  He's actually almost 19 lbs now after the holidays and so many sweet potatoes, but he and I are both half glass full sort of people who are going to lose those pesky law school pounds).  I'm sure I'll bore you with pictures of him (you could say he's my stand-in-baby for now) but the important thing for you to know about him is that he is one special pup.  He's ready to snuggle at a moment's notice.  He's an excellent napper.  But, he's always ready to jump up and go do something fun--especially if that involves chasing squirrels.  He loves me.  He loves my Math Man (more about him later).  He'd love you too if you'd just so much as half-smile at him.  He loves life.  He's one happy dog. 

And this blog is meant to be about my life--and my attempt to live my life more like Mr. Mason does.