23 December 2013

On Grief and Grieving

I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to my cousin. When her mother, my dear aunt, passed away a few years ago, I was very sad. And I was (internally) snarky every time she said "it's different when it's your own mom." My aunt was like my second mom, I thought it was exactly the same. I was very wrong.

My own mother passed away this year just before Thanksgiving. She had a very unexpected heart attack that took her instantly, no one could have done anything to save her. A month later and I am still not okay. I am so very far from okay. This grief is powerful; it steals my breath and boils my blood. This is a sadness that goes deeper than I have ever felt, even over my aunt. It is more pure than the chronic depression I have battled since adolescence. This is a new beast entirely.

The first few days were just shock. Nothing felt real. I kept trying to wake up, like it was a nightmare I could shake off with a good cup of coffee. Then came the insomnia and anxiety. I was unprepared for the raw panic that hit me. It was unrelenting. I shook, I cried, I couldn't breathe. I was terrified all of the time for weeks. Some therapists actually believe that anxiety should share space with bargaining in the stages of grief, because not everyone bargains. I apparently do not bargain. Now, I am finally sleeping, and the panic has mostly subsided.

Now the anger has settled in. I am furious. I am mad at the universe for taking her away. I am mad at Mom for abandoning me. I am mad at everyone who still has a mother and doesn't appreciate her. I am mad at myself for being such an insufferable tool. I keep lashing out at people, whether or not they deserve it. I cry over nothing. I punch things. I want to scream a primal scream until my throat bleeds. I want to hide under my bed covers and escape into a book. I want to be everywhere and nowhere.

But life doesn't stop for grief, no matter how intense. The dishes need done, classes must be attended, and shopping lists accumulate. So I learned to put away my sadness, anger, and anxiety. I tuck it away, and get on with life until I can't take it any more, and it comes flying out with rage and pain, and takes out anyone near me.

So, no I'm not okay. I think I'm going to be, though, and I'm planning to see a therapist to make sure of that. I don't know if any of my rambling could be helpful to anyone else. I hope there is something in this that is of value. If you have found this because you are in pain and you are not okay either, just know that you are not alone. And I am sorry for that. I'm sorry that you are not okay, I am sorry that you are hurting. But you, like me, will get through this.

I think.

20 August 2013

Blendstock~Strawberry Banana Frozen Yogurt

My experiments with the blender have been...interesting. The only things I have made thus far that have been edible have been from other's recipes, and I really wanted to bring you lovelies something original.

Apparently original recipes and I don't blend.

Today, however I made something really yummy by modifying Vitamix's Strawberry Yogurt Freeze. Basically it only calls for a cup of lowfat vanilla yogurt and a pound of strawberries. I subbed plain whole milk organic Stonyfield farms yogurt, as the hubs can't eat lowfat dairy. Also switched out half of the strawberries for frozen banana, and added a squirt of agave nectar to account for using plain yogurt.

Not a great picture, but it is SO tasty, rich and creamy.

A couple of pro tips-

1.)Don't halve recipes which call for a majority of frozen ingredients and which make 4 or fewer cups total. Your blender won't thank you for it.

2.)Peel bananas BEFORE freezing. It isn't impossible to peel a frozen banana, but it isn't pleasant, and thawing and refreezing is not really an option.

I hope you guys are doing well today! <3

12 August 2013

Blendstock~Cherry Berry Sunshine Smoothie Recipe

The hubs and I just got a blender. This may not sound all that news worthy, but it's an *investment* blender, so I've been tasked with proving the investment is worth it. 45 days to make epic use of this thing, or it goes back, lol.

The thing is, I've been dealing with a LOT of pain the last few weeks. First, I had an abscessed tooth which needed two rounds of antibiotics before being pulled. Then, I had the extraction, which was itself traumatic and awful. Then, two days later, I developed DRY SOCKET. If you've ever had it, you know why it's in all caps. The worst pain I have ever felt. EVER.

That was 11 days ago (and will be a separate post probably). Today, I am on 15mg of Mobic daily, and doing much better. However, I have to eat when I take my medicine, and that can be tricky with a jaw that won't open all the way, and which causes me to scream in pain whenever I bite down on anything hard.

So this morning when I awoke, I took my medicine and thought "WOOT! I get to make a smoothie!" I just threw this together with ingredients from my fridge, but I thought it was yummy enough to share with you lovelies.

Cherry Berry Sunshine Smoothie

To a high powered blender add-

  • 2-3 oz of limeade or lime juice
  • 2 tbsp honey or agave (optional)
  • 6 oz vanilla yogurt
  • 5 large strawberries, stem ends trimmed
  • about a half cup of blueberries
  • 7 large sweet cherries, pitted
  • about a half of a cup of mango chunks
  • a handful of dark leafy greens (I used spinach)
  • 1 cup of ice
Blend at top speed for about 20-30 seconds, or until smooth. Mine requires you to start at low, and gradually increase speed to maximum. If this is the case for you, the 20-30 seconds are once you've hit maximum. Makes one very large, or two smaller smoothies.

And it is delicious! The thing next to it in the picture is my easy, decadent tasting, but actually not terrible chocolate nut bark with mixed nuts (recipe some other day). Hope you guys are doing better than I am. Enjoy your day. :)

15 May 2013

A Word on Mike Jeffries

When CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Mike Jeffries, recently went on record as saying that he only wants "beautiful people" to work and shop at his stores, the internet exploded. Apparently, his definition of beauty is very narrow, and does not include the average size woman or larger, or any large male who is non-athletic. For the last week or so, I have seen meme after meme accusing him of hypocrisy by attacking his physical appearance, as he is older, maybe just a touch out of shape and has had extensive "work" done on his face. I admit to posting one or two of them myself.

Today, I want to apologize to Mike Jeffries. When we criticize someone for judging people's worth through looks and then turn around and do the same, we are missing the point. So, sir who will never read this, I am sorry for subjecting you to the same hateful rhetoric you have been spewing. No one should ever have to be made to feel they are not beautiful. I am so sorry that we have perpetuated the culture of judgment while calling for its end. It is wrong-headed and mean.

I also want to apologize to myself for letting my standards slip when I participated in attacking a person for their external appearance. It was childish and I am ashamed of myself. There is never any good reason to do so, and we are only seeking to justify a morally reprehensible act by wrapping it in moral outrage. It is NOT okay. I'm going to have to dig deep to figure out why I let myself get caught in a mob mentality and break my own ethical rules.

Yes, what Mr. Jeffries said was awful, but I suspect it belies a deeper hurt. He acts like a child desperately putting others down to make himself feel better. His history of cosmetic surgery shows a deep and abiding discomfort in his own skin. I suspect he does not truly see himself as beautiful, and so he lashes out from pain and tries to bring others down. By retaliating, we have only ensured his continued self-hatred and misanthropy.

Or maybe he's just a dick. Either way, insulting his looks isn't going to help a thing.

Call him out for his insensitive remarks. Call him out for his exclusionary and shallow business practices. Call him out for making bland, overpriced clothing. But don't make fun of his looks. Don't be a bully. Don't perpetuate a culture of appearance-based judgment.

Don't sink to his level.

02 April 2013

Music I Like: Marian Call

OMIGOD, you guys. I just squeed so hard I scared the cats. I went to check my email tonight, and I received this message in my inbox (abridged, slightly):

"Hi Amanda!
This is Marian, out of the blue, ages after you originally wrote me.  Sorry....I just wanted to tell you that I spent a little time on your blog today, and it is sweet and lovely and gave me happy feels.  I hope you will keep writing when you have time....


I wrote to her to tell her I was going to review her album (an oversight I am mortified about and shortly going to correct) and then MARIAN CALL READ MY BLOG AND I CAN ONLY FEEL SO MUCH JOY. What? You don't know who Marian Call is? Then I get to tell you all about her!

She is this amazing songwriter from Alaska. I first heard her stuff quite about two years ago. I don't even remember what I was searching for, I just remember that I stumbled across this amazingly nerdy and wonderful album, Got To Fly. The music is all (execpt the first track) inspired by Firefly and the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. I can't stop giggling when I listen to "It's Good to Have Jayne on Your Side" and there is so much emotion and tenderness in the River Tam inspired "Dark Dark Eyes" that it gets me every time. The first track, "I'll Still be a Geek After Nobody Thinks It's Chic" is an amazing rally cry for nerd girls everywhere. The title track, "Got to Fly" is the most fun and acurate telling of the mentality of sci-fi/fantasy fans. The final track, and ode to YoSaffBridge titled "It was good for you too" even has Christina Hendricks' approval.

Then she came out with Something Fierce. And she blew my mind again. "The Avocado Song" has to be one of the most fun songs ever written. "Dear Mister Darcy" is my favorite song to sing on the album, and sometimes I just crank it and wail away. "Whistle While You Wait" has such a good message of not giving up or losing yourself on your road to success. The heartbreak in "Early is as Early Does" is so real and yet never overwhelming. And "Anchorage" makes my heart sing. 

Look, I'm not a music critic. I'm not qualified to go on about the complexity of the melody, and I have no idea about the technical side of music making. All I know is this: if you want to listen to some damn fine music by an amazingly talented and fearless woman, you need to check out the albums above as well as her debut album Vanilla, her most recent release, Live in Europe, and just everything else on her Bandcamp page.  And next time she's in Philly, anyone want to go with me?

I'm going to go back to grinning and hyperventilating now.

12 February 2013

Body Acceptance-A Few Thoughts

After reading an article posted to Facebook by my dear friend, about allowing yourself to be captured on film as you really look right now, I was looking around the internet for the most flattering poses for big girls. However, I am growing ever more disturbed, as all of the tips for photographers and subjects alike seems to be "hide the fat." i.e., stand behind people, hold a bag in front of your midsection, don't take full body shots.

I realize that some people are not confident enough to embrace themselves as they are-fat/skinny, tall/short, masculine/feminine-whether or not they are working towards something else. But to actively advocate the hiding of one's self is harmful. I'm big. Do I love me anyway? Most of the time. Do I wish I was smaller? Sometimes. Everyone has things about themselves they don't like and wish they could magically erase.

But here's the thing I think people forget: Usually, pictures *of* you are not *for* you. They are so others can remember you. And anyone who knows you, knows what you look like, all the time, when you are not posing for a picture. And guess what? They love you anyway. If, god forbid, something happens, do you really want to leave your loved ones with no mementos, no record that you were HERE?

I guess what it boils down to is this: if you are living, laughing and loving with wild abandon; if you let down the walls and are JUST YOU; if you stop worrying about your arms or your tummy and focus on your heart and your smile, it will still be you, and you will still be loved. Let your beauty shine from the inside out, and allow yourself to be loved and admired as you are right now. Because, chances are, you're pretty awesome.

11 February 2013

DIY Another Day: Dream Catcher Valentine

I am a fairly recent Pinterest addict. It is...ridiculously inspiring, but also soul eating. I often spend hours of my day pouring through the DIY/crafts section, and occasionally finding something that makes me go "I must stop right this minute and go clean my tub/scrub my grout/make a cute thing!"

On one of my recent binges, I came across the idea of cutting out letters from cardboard and wrapping them in yarn to make cute, custom signage. I mostly saw this used for names and such, but I got this inkling that it was seriously only scraping the surface of the potential for the technique.

It was in this mindset that my eyes fell on a paper plate that I had pulled out to block a beret I made for a friend, and set aside when I discovered it was WAY too small for the job. I picked up my scissors and started cutting. I first cut the circle out of the center, then cut a heart shaped hole in the middle of that.

I took some scrap red yarn from the beret project and wrapped it around a clothes pin to use as a sort of bobbin, cut a small slit in the bottom of the heart to anchor the knot and started in. The point of the heart was a bit tricky to navigate, so I ended up wrapping both sides bottom-up.

Once I got to the point at the top, I wrapped very carefully, then pulled both ends through the same 4 or 5 loops in opposite directions, tying tightly to keep those stitches in line.

Then, I threaded a tapestry needle with a bit of pink yarn, sewing under 6 slightly unevenly spaced stitches around the edge of the heart, and continued wrapping the yarn around each bit of the circle until I reached the center. You know, like you do when you're making a dream catcher. Then I tied it off and turned it over.

Finally I cut small pieces out of what was left of the plate, grabbed my markers and scrawled out a cute message, one word per piece, and affixed  them to the web. You should use glue. I admit to using tape, because I couldn't find my glue, lol.

That's it! You could attach it to a background, like scrapbook paper, or frame it. I apologize for the quality of picture, but all I had was my phone. And you know those people who could take a picture of a person picking their nose and make it look like high art? I am not one of them.

I was really pleased as punch at how this turned out. (Yes, I occasionally talk like a septuagenarian.)

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. <3