Happiness

Life has a way of getting in the way of blogging. I’ve been decidedly absent from the computer since moving to Austin. I suppose that could have to do with all the fun changes and goings-on in my life here.

To recap:

I moved to Austin in June 2009

Bought a house in November 2009

Got my first puppy in December 2009

Planted my first garden in February 2010

Got my second puppy in October 2010

Planted my second garden in February 2011

I recently read Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project  and was totally inspired.  She focuses on making small changes each month, with each month being devoted to a particular theme.  It struck a chord with me, because I do my own version of this.  3 times a year, I map out the upcoming 4 months and set goals to accomplish each trimester. Some goals continue all year and some are one time wishes. For instance- my continuing goals are: work out 4 times a week, read a book every two weeks, try one new recipe per week, clean the house once a week, treat myself once a week, do something social once a week. Then specific type goals are take a spanish class, get new tires for the car, plan a weekend trip, etc.

So I wanted to check back into word press and make sure my account was still active.  I’m not sure how much I’ll still talk about crafting, cooking, and reading probably a lot, since those are my passions, but I hope to keep track of my own happiness and goals and wishes and interests, so I can look back every so often and remember what matters and what I love.

onward my friends

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Multi

I may turn this into more than one post because there’s a lot to add/update. I’ve been on spring break for the last week and a half and before that I was so busy getting ready for break that it’s been a while.

Books:

I finished Finn by John Clinch for my book club. It was dark and not what I expected. Confusing in parts, but pretty interesting.

I also finished The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and New Moon and Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer.

I started reading Catcher in the Rye. I’m also in the middle of Lonesome Dove (and by in the middle of I mean about 100 pages in) and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (for my book club).

Crafts:

Went to my sewing class. It was great. I made this bag:

I tried to make an apron,but I don’t really understand darting and all that complicated stuff.  I signed up for a PJ Pants class next weekend.

My garden is growing.  My radishes should be ready next weekend

Food:

Lots of different casseroles have been made!

Broccoli and mushroom:

Vegetable “bread pudding”:

Tortilla Casserole:

Black bean stew:

and Mabo Tofu:

We’ve been working on the bathroom renovation project.  New flooring is in, paint is on, and most new fixtures are in place.  Next stop – living room.

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Sporadic

Life doesn’t even seem to slow down and the weather can’t make up its mind- warm, cold, wet, dry, windy, humid.  Lots of new and exciting things are coming up for me, so here’s a quick look ahead:

*We have planned our garden and have some really solid landscaping ideas to make our house a little more interesting

* I’ll be working at the Austin SXSW musical extravaganza and I should be finding out any day now what shows I’ll be working at. I have a training this week!

*I’m taking a sewing class next weekend- watch out fabric stores!

*Three weeks until spring break!

So now to rewind. I haven’t updated in a few weeks, so I’m behind in telling you about my new recipe per week project.  Last week is was polenta with mushroom gravy. This week it was pita with goat cheese and roasted asparagus. Since the weather got nicer, I was feeling perky enough to try two new meals this week, so I also made tomato and spinach soup with gnocchi.

Crafting hasn’t really happened, unless you count planning the garden and landscaping, which I do, because it’s hands-on and creative.

I finished The Awakening but totally forgot about the book club.  I’m about a quarter of the way through Finn. I plan to finish most of it tomorrow (making that two books in two weeks, so I’m exceeding my resolution). I might tackle Lonesome Dove next. It’s long, but since I did two this week, I might be able to extend my expectations to 3 or 4 weeks, especially with vacation coming up.

I tried three new workouts this week- 2 new yoga classes and then I did a mix of stairclimber and elliptical this week. I’ve also been trying out new weight equipment at the gym. I joined the Self Challenge again this year, hoping to reinvigorate my interest in working out and eating right.  So far it’s working like a charm. Whenever I keep a food log I always reach for fruit, rather than candy, so I don’t have to write down 17 snickers minis in a public forum.

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Last year for the superbowl the guy and I ate foods you can dip. This year he works so I’m headed to see friends and eat tacos- yum.

This week for my new recipe of the week I made Veggie Chicken Pot Pie. It was carrots, broccoli, green beans, onions, celery, mushrooms, and fake chicken strips, sauteed all together. Then I lightly coated the veggies in flour and added warm soy milk until it thickened. I seasoned and topped with biscuits and cooked for about 25 minutes.

It was super yummy, lasted quite a few meals and reheated well.

I never made it to the knitting group last weekend- the couch was just too comfy. But I did get to work on the baby blanket I’ve been needing to make. The pattern is Beth’s Little Star Afghan.  They’re having a boy and their furniture is chocolate brown and blue. The bedding is rock’n’roll themed, so I thought the star would be an easy fit. It’s about half done. I have 9 more rows of solid blue and two rows of gray as a border.

I finished “The Likeness” midweek and started “Finn” by John Clinch for my book club.  It’s a pretty dark portrayal of Huck Finn’s father. I’m not too far in, but it’s intriguing.  I’m also supposed to read “The Awakening” for another book club, but I can’t find it in our boxes and I haven’t checked it out from the library yet.  I read it and loved it in high school, so I’m hoping it will come back to me quickly.

Still no further work on the house, though the list gets longer everyday.

Another new year’s choice was to try two new workouts a week to keep myself motivated.  This has been an easy one with the new gym membership.  Saturday I did yoga, Monday I did shadow boxing, Tuesday I took hiphop class, Wednesday I started week 1 of C25K, Friday I did a hill workout and yesterday I took the puppy on a *long* walk.  This week started with a new yoga workout. Yay for me, especially in this season of girl scout cookies.

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Rolling

Many things got accomplished this past week, though none of the to-dos from last week. Instead of starting Finn, I’ve been reading The Likeness, by Tanya French. It’s the sequel (sorta) of In The Woods, which I read this summer. A woman who stole the identity of a former undercover agent (when she was undercover) turns up dead. So the former agent goes back undercover pretending to be somebody she used to pretend to be. It’s less complicated than I’m making it sound. I’m about half done, so I should make my book every two weeks deadline.

I also didn’t make anything with lentils- but I did cook two new meals. One was a veggie ham, cheese, and mustard roll up in crescent rolls, served with sauteed spinach. The other was portabella eggs benedict- a grilled mushroom cap covered in scrambled eggs and veggie ham. Both were pretty tasty.

I haven’t crafted yet- oops! But I’m going to a stitch’n’bitch tomorrow- so there’s hope!

I joined the gym today. I wasn’t going to now that I live in a place where you can safely run and walk outdoors. I was going to do my weight and strength and yoga at home and run and walk with the dog. When we first moved I did a really good job of keeping up with my workouts, but after we bought the house, the holidays happened, school got crazy, and I just forgot about myself. So I joined the gym with a friend and went to a yoga class today. And tonight I’m going to watch Roller Derby. So being social and keeping up with my hobbies will hopefully make work and life just that much easier.

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Homeward Bound

It’s been months…months! I’ve done a lot of reading, not so much crafting, a fair amount of cooking/baking, and become a homeowner/renovator.

Books (without fancy pictures/descriptions) I’ve read since October:
Censoring an Iranian Love Story
Number 9 Dream
Scarpetta
206 Bones
Twilight

Cooking- My New Years resolution was to try making one new dinner each week. It’s actually been pretty fun trying new things. In my spacious new kitchen I’ve baked/cooked (this is new stuff only):

Pumpkin chocolate chip bread (thanks Maggie for the idea!)
Pumpkin brownies
Hot Dish (known as chicken wild rice casserole in my neck of the woods)
Tamale Pie
Fiesta Mac and Cheese

Crafting:

Umm… it’s all in boxes. I did get a sewing machine, I still haven’t hemmed my curtains. I did sign up for a sewing class in February- you’ll likely see some projects beginning then! I’m also going to a stitch’n’b*tch next weekend- so maybe some crafting. A colleague and his wife are expecting and I promised them a blanket, so I need to get working on that.

Current home projects:

Painting the main bathroom, so flooring can go in.
Yard work
Spring planting

This week’s projects:
Book- Finn, by John Clinch
Food- Something with lentils
Craft- begin that baby blanket
Home- rake the yard

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Homestead

My wonderful, two-week fall break is wrapping up and I was less than productive in my crafting.  In fact, I haven’t picked up my scarf in a week or so. One of the reasons (at least this is my excuse) is that we’re buying a house.  We’re currently in our option period and have an inspection scheduled for Monday. If all goes well, we should be in our first home by early November. Then you’ll never get rid of me and my household crafts! (Sewing curtains are the first matter of business)

I’ve been reading a lot over break.  I started and finished Kate Jacob’s Comfort Food during my trip to Maine. I loved The Friday Night Knitting Club, this one was OK, though  didn’t think it was as engaging at the knitting book.  It follows a fifty year old woman, who is the host of a cooking show, and whose personal and professional lives are changing.

Comfort_Food-712076.JPGI joined a second book club, and they’re reading In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote.  I’m about 50 pages from finishing.  I thought I had read it before, but I think I might be confusing seeing the movie Capote with reading this book.  Anyway, it’s apparent why this is considered the most well-written true crime novel ever. The narrative is poetic. I’m totally intrigued.

I’m also about half-way through Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult. It’s about a school shooting in New Hampshire.  It has some characters that appear in other books by her, which I’ve never read.  I think as a teacher I’m morbidly drawn to these books because I see the bulling and social situations that begin in elementary school. I know I do everything I can to create collaborative and accepting classroom communities and I can only hope that it’s enough.

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