Jun 23, 2012

New Recipe: Asian-style Chicken Salad

I don't know if I've shared a recipe since the 8-week Experiment, and I think part of that is that the 8-week Experiment kind of drained me from wanting to share recipes, even though I have tried some great new recipes since then. Well, tonight I made a new, good, summer pasta salad. I took this recipe, and this recipe and made my own!

Asian-style Chicken Salad
1-16 oz package pasta (I used trio Italiano because that's what I had)
3 spears celery, biased cut
3 green onions
shredded chicken (about 1 lb, I think . . . we had some already shredded in the freezer)
fresh parsley (I actually think that I will leave this out next time, but it was a good way to use some of the parsley in our garden)
wonton strips (I used the precooked ones from the grocery store--they were in the produce aisle next to the salads)
lettuce (I used about half a head of iceberg since I had it in the fridge anyway)
Asian salad dressing (I used Kraft Asian Sesame Seed Dressing and Marinade)

Put everything except wonton strips and lettuce together at least 2 hours before dinner to let the flavors blend. When you are ready to serve, put in lettuce and wontons. You might also want to put on more dressing.

Jun 18, 2012

Reading Journal Comments

About three years ago I started keeping a reading journal. There were a few reasons to do this: 1) so when people asked for a recommendation, I could just look at my reading journal, 2) so I could keep track of what I liked or didn't like, and 3) for my own pride (knowing how many books I read in a year).

I keep this journal in an excel spreadsheet, keeping track of the title, author, whether or not I liked it, any comments about the book, and when I finished reading it (this is another pride thing, seeing how quickly I read some books). Well, I decided to look through some of my comments from the past three years; here are the best ones:

"enough cheese to make a pizza" (Sunlight and Shadow, Cameron Dokey)
"Laugh. Cry. Love." (The Wednesday Wars, Gary D. Schmidt)
"Weird, weirder, weirdest" (The American Dream, Edward Albee)
"the girl was so stupid it bugged me sometimes" (Down the Rabbit Hole, Peter Abrahams)
"very literary and deep" (The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho)
"like twilight but, you know, good" (Evermore, Alyson Noel)
"Oh my gosh, Captain Wentworth's letter at the end? So romantic! So much more romantic that that stupid Rochester XP" (Persuasion, Jane Austen)
"exactly what you would expect from a Nicholas Sparks book" (The Lucky One, Nicholas Sparks)
"The whole time the only thing I could think about was that at the very beginning the MC writes a letter to a girl who can't read: why did nobody catch this?!" (Poison House, Michael Ford)
"hallelujah! A book in a series that actually has an ending!" (Graceling, Kristin Cashore)
". . . the MC was obsessed with Twilight and thought it was the 'best book ever written.' I have a feeling the author thought so too. I was rolling my eyes and laughing at every part that was supposed to be romantic." (Northanger Alibi, Jenni James)
"It's one of those books you read when you are okay with feeling depressed about someone else's life" (Once Was Lost, Sara Zarr)
"Dickens is a genius!! The Circumlocution Office alone proves this" (Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens)
"for 900 pages, not that much happened, though he was really good at hiding that fact." (Inheritance, Christopher Paolini)
"makes you glad you can take baths" (The Wager, Donna Jo Napoli)
"Victorian England, mystery, and a handsome man? Yes please" (Spy in the House, YS Lee)

While I do not recommend all these books, I have included a link to Amazon for all of them so you can decide for yourself (aren't I kind?).

Jun 12, 2012

We all have bad days

There's this girl I know and I read her blog. And sometimes, I get really jealous of her. There are times when I feel like she has everything that I have always wanted: a good husband, a spot in the MFA program I want to do if I ever get enough money, a baby on the way. I hate that I get so jealous, because she's really great and I think she's an amazing and admirable person.

And then, in my height of jealousy, she'll post something on her blog (as she did today) that helps me realize that her life isn't perfect and she goes through hard times too. It's not that I rejoice in her misfortunes, because it hurts me to hear that something bad is happening in her life, but it makes my heart lighter to know that she isn't perfect, just like me.

I think that this is something that we all go through. We check our facebook or read someone's blog, and it seems like everything is going great for everyone else. This person gets a great job, this person is on an amazing vacation, this guy just got engaged, this girl is having a baby. All we ever see are the amazing things in people's lives, and then we look at our own and wonder what's wrong with us. "Why am I stuck in a dead end job?" We might ask ourselves. "I've never been anywhere cool. I haven't been on a date in three years. I'm still living with my parents."

I know this observation isn't anything new. There's been news articles about once every three months about how there is a rise in depression because of facebook. But I guess what I'm thinking is, sometimes it's okay to let people know that something didn't go right. You don't have to post only bad things--that's going to the extreme in the other direction--but just to let people know that you run into parked cars too sometimes. Or the thought of going to your high school reunion makes you scared because you're certain you will be the only single person left in your class. You don't always need to plaster a smile on your face.

That's something that I try to do with this blog. I try to be positive when I tell stories about my struggles, but I feel like it's important to let people know that I make mistakes. I make mistakes a lot. I'm a mistake maker. But I also sometimes do awesome things and I want to share that too! So, maybe, the 39 people who read this blog will come to it and realize that they aren't alone when their car breaks down, or a customer at work yelled at them, or they just had the kind of day that only ice cream and a tear-jerker movie can fix.

I've always said that if I could make a difference in one life, I would feel that my life was complete. I hope that maybe this little personal blog, sometime, for someone, somewhere, can make a difference somehow.

Here's a new song I discovered. Remember, we all have something to share.

Jun 9, 2012


This last week, but mostly today, I made my little basement apartment a little more homey by decorating! And by decorating, I mean, putting a picture on the wall. :D

 You might remember the quote block I made in InDesign. I finally went to Hobby Lobby, bought some paper and a frame (the frame was only 9.99), and printed it out. I just got 12x12 paper, cut one down to 81/2x11 so I could send it through the printer and then cut it down again. Glued the quote on another piece of paper and put it in the frame! The frame didn't have anything on the back (like wire holders, or a bar thing or whatever), so I just set it on the new table we got from my grandparents along with all my to-read books. It's really cute!

 This is the banner I made in the first week of Michael Ann's "Becoming a Confident Crafter" series last month. I put the hooks up last year in an attempt to keep my great room a bit less cluttered.

Here you can see the "new" table, with my "new" lamp (both hand-me-downs from my grandparents) along with my to-read books and framed quote block. But really, the best part is my Van Gogh inspired picture that one of my best friends got my for my birthday! For those in the know, it's actually a really nerdy picture, but for those not, it just looks artsy! (I hope . . .)

So, it wasn't a total redecorating or anything, but it's kind of fun to play around with my space. Also, two of my new things I made myself, which is a great feeling!

Jun 4, 2012

The Story of My New Job

I count myself lucky. In the year and a half since I graduated from college I have been without work for only 3 weeks. I had an internship lined up before I left BYU, had applied and taken a test for another internship before I left that one, and had my current internship lined up right after I started my second. With the economy the way it is, and how hard it is for recent grads to get a job, I count myself very lucky.

Well, at the beginning of the year, I realized that I would have to start looking for a job, having exhausted my internship opportunities. So, I started looking for listings for editors, but nothing really seemed to pop up. Finally, in March I heard about a position at the LDS Church Office Building. It is a full-time project position, meaning salary and full benefits, but only lasting for four years. After the year and a half I've had, four years seemed like an eternity! So, I applied, was called in for a test, and had an interview mid-April (which I feel like I totally bombed). I took the take home test, and turned it. That was almost two months ago and I haven't heard anything since, except that they were still interviewing. For some reason, though, I wasn't stressing. I knew my internship was coming to an end, and that I would be jobless, but there was no anxiety about finding a job.

About two weeks ago I was called into my boss's office. She told me that I could very possibly get a contract worker position with the Papers. I could work 40 hours a week, but I'd be working from home, paying my own taxes, and receive no benefits. Having loved my work at the Papers, I said I would love to do it, mostly because it would be work until I could find a job. She said that they would know for sure in a week and sent me on my way. The next week she called me into her office and said that the contract work had fallen through, but a part-time position would probably be opening up. With this position, I would be working in the office, up to 38 hours a week. I said I would love to!

That's when I realized something. I would much rather work part-time with amazing people, on a project I believe in, then work full-time with great benefits and pay in an awful atmosphere on something I don't believe in. And that's why, this morning, I accepted the part-time position at the Joseph Smith Papers Project! I start half-time (of my part-time) next week to get trained! I'm a little nervous about all the things that I need to learn, and the fact that I'll be in charge of an RA (what on earth will I give him to work on?!), but I've learned how to do jobs before, and I can definitely do it again.

I'm so excited to be able to continue work on such an amazing project, and maybe make a bit of a difference.

Jun 3, 2012

Becoming a Crafty Woman, parts 3.2 and 4

For week three of Michael's "Becoming a Confident Crafter" series, she gave us the homework assignment of making something for ourselves. The week before, Mom and I had picked out a skirt pattern at Hobby Lobby, so I decided to try to make that. Try. :/

I made Simplicity 2226 (it has pockets which every respectable skirt should have. Also, don't let the name fool you--if this was simple, I don't want to try anything else!). When we measured me, it came out to a pattern size 14 for the waist band, and a 12 for the rest of the skirt. Mom thought that seemed wrong but that's what the pattern said, so that's what I cut out. (I had to pin the pattern on twice, because I was looking at the instructions upside down from the way I had my fabric laid out.) 

I never thought of myself as someone who couldn't follow directions very well, but for every step I would read the instructions, look at my pattern, read the instructions, then go ask my mom. Thank heavens I have a resident home ec teacher! Though I did ask her if this was something she had her students do, and she said yes. That made me feel untalented--13 year olds could do what I was struggling with!

By Saturday I had struggled through everything (including putting on the stupid zipper) when I went to try it on. Low and behold, it was much too big. Five inches needed to be taken out. This leads me to believe that my body either defies measurement, or the pattern was wrong, because I ended up being a pattern size 6. 

Mom figured out how to fix it without having to take the whole skirt apart (she took out the zipper and took everything from the back seam). 

I hadn't finished the skirt in the week for the homework assignment, but that was okay because last week's assignment was finish something undone! I did have some freelance work that took up most of my week, and a bobbin lace class that I started, but Saturday I was able to get it done. I kind of cheated on the bottom hem, and my top stitching (which I did so well on the pockets) ended up really horribly on the waist band--mostly because I was trying to keep the fabric from bunching and then I would swerve, and I didn't want to go back. Oh well, worship flaws!

I wore it to church today, here I am:

Because of the way we (and by that I mean, Mom) had to take it in, the front doesn't quite lay the way it's supposed to, but I don't think I did too poorly for my first try. I wish it were my last, but Mom says I've got to make another in order to make buying the pattern worth it. Sewing is not something I find enjoyable--and I think I'm too lazy to do well. :)

Jun 1, 2012

Always better to sleep on it . . .

Last night I had every intention of coming on here and writing a blog post that would go a little something like this:

Whine whine whine. Pity pity pity. Cry cry cry. Blah blah blah.

Fortunately, I decided against it. I would be regretting it today if I hadn't.

The thing is, I was reminded of something that I had learned about my self about 2 months ago, and that is that my greatest weakness is low self worth. For some people, it's addiction, or bringing others down, or food, or whatever. Mine is low self worth.

I'm a Christian. I believe in God and Satan. I also believe that Satan knows how to take the spirit away from us, if we let him. And for me, it's making me start thinking things like I'm not worth it, and reminding me of every stupid thing I've every said or done. He makes me feel like the lowest of the low, and if I don't fight it, I can get taken in.

So how do I fight it?

First by realizing what's happening. I can't do anything until I can think reasonably.

Then I try the most basic of things: count my blessings! Who I have in my life, the things I have been given, etc. Basically, what is it that makes my life so good? Because I do have a good life.

Prayer helps too. That is what Satan doesn't want--us still speaking to God.

And finally, french fries and ice cream. No fail.