Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Cold Front & Homemade Sushi

This weekend has been all kinds of good. Friday Jeff and I went to our ward Ice Cream Social (church event). Saturday we went to a Czech Festival, hung out with friends, made homemade sushi, and watched A&M beat Rice University... and Madagascar 2, haha. Today we went to church and had the missionaries over for some leftover sushi. I am so grateful for a life outside of work!

As I think about all the things we did together, I realize almost all of these activities link back to my time spent at church! I am grateful for the community and support church brings. All my friends right now are people I have met at church. Immediately after moving to Texas Jeff and I have had a wonderful support group. Most of our friends just moved here from Provo and they are also students or spouses of students. I love them all. What great people.

Let's go back to Saturday. I woke up at 8:30 AM to go to a Czech Festival in Caldwell. It was raining and I just wanted to wear fall clothes. I really miss Utah right now because it's cooling down and the leaves are changing and such. Anyway, I decided I would wear boots to the festival (and probably die of heat). We walked outside and it was cool outside! Oh my. I even grabbed a jacket fully expecting not to use it.

Once we got to Caldwell I wished I had brought thicker outerwear. I could see my breath! This is something I never imagined happening here. I am grateful for the cold front. How lovely.

The Czech Festival Parade was apparently rained out, but that didn't stop the locals from participating in a Kolache-eating contest (Kolache is a Czech pastry? Some have fruit and some have meat),  playing polka music, and selling baby turtles. It was a very fun and unique experience.

Kolache - Photo source
The Kolache we bought we packaged (not unlike a Hot Pocket, really). They were also not hot. Jeff and I and our six other friends (and their children) spent a good chunk of time in a County Court Building alcove waiting out the rain. While we were in there we talked about finding a microwave for our pastries half jokingly. A kind woman came out and told us she has a toaster oven in her office we could use! We graciously accepted her offer and stacked 12-or-so Kolaches in the toaster oven, as you can see. So yeah, haha :)

Later we invited our friends over to have homemade sushi rolls. It was so much fun! I love doing this with friends. If people are interested I can do a tutorial post of some sort, but for now I'll just say it was a great experience and they turned out like this:

Not all of them looked so posed. Most of the rolls were on paper plates; hastily made and eagerly eaten.

Well, we're off to Skype our families. Thank you and good night! Let me know if you want to a post on homemade sushi or whatever else I have some experience doing. :)


Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Reason I'm Crying Right Now

"That's teacher touch."
"Turn around and find something else to play with."
"Please come out from under the table."
"That's so-and-so's snack."
"Please don't eat that off the floor."
"Time to change your diaper."


All of these sentences spew out of me in rapid procession ten hours a day, five days a week. Today was no different. I'm sure readers are thinking this what my post title is all about. It's not (although that would be a viable candidate at times, hahaha).

No, here's the reason I'm crying right now (it's not what you're expecting):

After a typically chaotic Thursday (we're shorthanded on Thursdays), I checked out my disheveled hair in my review mirror, binge ate some Club crackers, and turned on the radio. My mascara-less face perked up and my shoulders started shaking to the beat (true story).

I'm all about that bass
'Bout that bass
'Bout that bass
No trouble

All about that bass
'Bout that bass
'Bout that bass
No trouble

Please say you know what I'm talking about already! Oh my gosh, it will make you happy, too (hopefully).

This. Just, this! This song came on the radio in all its body-loving, self-esteem-promoting goodness:

I chose to post the clean version because that's what I like. The video is pretty cute, too though if you can deal with a couple "S" and "B" words.

Anyway, there I was in my [new] car, tired and dead looking and this song made me feel like a new woman. It's happy, it's fun, it's part of a beautiful new movement. It instructs us to love our bodies the way they are and that is amazing.

This song is popular enough to be on a major Texas radio station. That means, generally, this song is wide-spread and well-liked enough to be playing on the radio (I.e., reaching lots of women at least in my community).

This thought made me cry. I think this is a big step forward in society!

I agree that women shouldn't worry about being teeny-tiny and should appreciate the body they've been blessed with. Not to mention that I have some extra padding all around and this makes me feel pretty good, haha.

That's all.

What feeling does this song bring out in you?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

No Shame in Hobby Work

Here's a thought that's been on my mind lately; there's no shame in hobby work. Claire, what do you mean by that? I mean that it's okay to leave hobbies as something you enjoy while making little to no money off of them. Seriously! I guess this is a big deal for me because I am easily caught up and my little entrepreneurial spirit sings out, "There's money to be made doing this!"

Let me demonstrate; I have a photography website. I have a forsaken Etsy shop selling para cord bracelets. I've dressed up as princesses (and High School Musical characters) at birthday parties. I even sold "Mardi Gras" beads at a Harvest Moon Festival as an 11-year-old...I made five bucks a pop off of those bad boys. All my interests seem to turn into fiscal opportunities.

This inherently is a pretty good thing. If I'm buying items for a craft, I tend to think "if I buy in bulk, keep one, and sell nine, then this craft will pay for itself." Unfortunately, I easily go overboard and never follow through. For example, I recently flipped this desk:

I loved how I spent $20 and got the desk of my dreams (after a couple coats of paint)! In fact, I loved it so much that I decided I would make this my new job: flipping furniture. I immediately starting searching for high-quality items with good lines and a better price tag. In the end (like three hours later), I jumped ship and forgot the whole idea because that's a lot of work and I had a real job and just generally, who was I kidding?

So why write a blog post about leaving hobbies as hobbies if I apparently have a hard time doing so? Because I finally left a hobby as a hobby! Admittedly! Like, I legitimately tell people "I'm a hobby photographer." 

Allow me to share my pathway to this zen way of life:

I got a camera in December 2013: a Nikon D3200. I had two lenses and I thrifted a sweet little 50 mm 1.8. My original goal in buying a camera was to become a decent-enough photographer that I could take my own baby pictures and anything else I desired. To accomplish this, and evade studying for finals, I spent hours each night (like, until 3 AM) reading blogs, pinning pins, and googling every little photography thing I could get my pointer finger on. I learned a lot very quickly. I actually surprised myself by how much I had learned in a month. I felt so adept.

Once I had my camera in manual and ditched the kit lens, I started shooting everyday. Within two months I was asked to do my first engagement session. I was upfront about my experience, but it rolled rather nicely into lots of other paid opportunities. In the months to follow, I had a nice little cliental composed mostly of performers and one-year-olds. I was out taking pictures most weekends and I loved it. I tried for a while to treat the whole thing as a hobby, but the fact was people were asking me for my rates, portfolio, business card, etc. "Sure," I thought, "If it seems worth it to other people, I'll be a photographer."

All along it felt wrong. I couldn't ignore the feeling that photography was distracting me from more important things in my life (hah, like school). I felt like I was cut out to do other things and that Heavenly Father wasn't interested in me becoming a "real" photographer.

So I gave it up. 

No, not photography. I gave up the business. I gave up advertising myself as a professional photographer. I stopped posting on my photography blog and Facebook page. I stopped portraying myself that way. Now I tell people that photography is just a hobby. 

I accomplished my original goal. I've taken my family pictures, my siblings missionary shots, computer screen savers, whatever interests me. I can go my merry way with a small taste of what it could have been like to be a real-deal photographer.

I feel great. There is no shame in hobby work. Do you know what, I like it more now, too. I don't feel a need to pump tons of resources into my craft anymore. If I wanted to get a new lens or backdrop or something, I know a thing or two, but it's nowhere as important to me as it use to be. 

Hobby implies no client-vendor relationship. It implies no customer guidelines. A hobby to me means I do what I want when I want. Take a picture of a flower? Go ahead! Paint a picture of a butterfly? Make it happen. Bake a quiche? If I'm feeling crazy!

Have you ever had a similar experience? What are your hobbies? Let me know in the comments! Like what you read? Subscribe or follow me on Bloglovin if you never want to miss a post!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Six Weeks Down

I figured since I had some time I would do a quick update on how medical school is so far. I mean, that is the main purpose of this blog, after all. I asked Jeff to answer a few questions so you could see a little from his perspective, too!

How is medical school so far?

"It has been really good."

On a scale from 1 to 10, how happy would you say you are right now?


What are you looking forward to this week?

"Taking my second exam and being able to have time to spend with my wife and friends."

Is anything stressing you out?

"Um, not really."

How do you feel the rest of the year will be for us?

"I think it will be very good. I am excited for the rest of the year."

What am I doing that is helping you?

"You are being really supportive, understanding at times that I need to study, working and making dinner, and making the most of the time we do have together."

What would you like me to do to help you?

"Keep doing what you're doing. You're doing great."

In what ways is medical school similar to and different than you had expected?

"The amount of information that is covered in med school is similar to what I had expected."

"I feel like I have a lot more free time than I thought I would have. I can spend time with my spouse, friends, and fellow classmates." 

I'll also include my perspective, just for fun. 

How is medical school so far?

Good! Jeff is a total champ.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how happy would you say you are right now?

Taking work into consideration, 6. Leaving work out of the equation, 9!

What are you looking forward to this week?

Jeff finishing his second exam...the weekend. :)

Is anything stressing you out?

Not really. :)

How do you feel the rest of the year will be for us?

Good. I think it will get steadily harder as bigger tests come up and such, but so far everything has been really manageable due to Jeff's self discipline and great attitude.

What is Jeff doing that is helping me?

Making my breakfast and lunch every morning! (What?! So nice.)

What would I like Jeff to do to help me?

Seriously, nothing. I am just fine. :)

In what ways is medical school similar to and different than you had expected?

Medical school seems like a lot of work. Jeff spends most of his waking hours studying or in classes. Texas is hot.

I spend so much time with Jeff despite our busy schedules. We watch a lot of movies together. I am not lonely or depressed like I sort of imagined would happen (based on other people's experiences). 

Really, medical school is not so bad so far. That is always astonishing to me. I am so grateful for our experiences so far and look forward to what the future holds.

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Four Exciting {& Healthy} Freezer Meals

As promised, I am sharing my freezer meal recipes. They are:

1. Skinny Chicken Enchiladas
2. Spinach Florentine Lasagna roll-ups
3. Angel Hair Tetrazzini, and
4. Chicken & Brown Rice Soup

In this article I will lay out what worked for me and what didn't whilst freezer meal making. I figure that could be helpful.

Before I jump into this, let me paint a picture of the beauty of freezer meals:
  • We paid around $100 for three weeks worth of healthy, homemade, high-quality dinners (more than that for us because each dinner feeds at least four people)
  • A lot of time in the kitchen, albeit doable work
  • Only one load of dishes at the end of the is that even possible??
As I've mentioned this was my first time making all my meals for the month in advance (I realize this doesn't add up, but that much food is excessive for us). I am so pleased with how everything turned out in the end. Making dinners in bulk is so worth it in my opinion. With Jeff in school and me working until 5:30 everyday, it's nice to have something I can throw on the stove for 20 minutes and be done. I consider it a very efficient way to do things. Anyway, off my soapbox. 

To make other lives a little easier, I will chronicle the things that really helped the process and the things I will avoid the next time around. 

What worked for me:
1. I bought vacuum bags and a pump 

I was skeptical when I saw these bags at the grocery store--not gonna lie; however, I had recently read up on freezer storage safety and understood that vacuum bags are a worthwhile investment. For three-ish dollars for a pump and some storage bags, I gave them a chance.

Basically, they suck air out of your storage bag, which allegedly prevents bacteria growth and loss of quality for longer. These puppies really do what they proclaim to do (way to go, Ziploc!). I am equal parts excited about preserving the quality of our food and about preserving space in our microscopic freezer (seriously. It is so small). 

These are worth picking up at your local grocery store. A word to the wise: I found it was more effective to store solids in vacuum bags and liquids in regular (and freezer-safe) bags. I placed enchiladas, lasagna, and shredded chicken in these. 

2. Cook all of your chicken at the same time. Frozen or thawed. In a crockpot. I learned this after thawing, cutting, and cooking five pounds of chicken. Right before going to bed, I thought, "I'll just throw (play Tetris to fit) all the rest of my chicken in my crockpot. I sprinkled the frozen chicken breasts with chicken bouillon and a tablespoon of seasoned salt (yeah, not healthy), put my crockpot on low, and went to bed. Aside from waking up to the pungent smell of dinner, this was the most effective labor-saving step, by far. 

For the record, I'm not a big meat girl. I get grossed out when I see, or chew fat or a caruncle (nasty!). This chicken was soft and flavorful. It was so tender I shredded all ten pounds with one fork in about three minutes--amazing!

3. Use recipes you trust (but don't be too worried about branching out, too).

A lot of these recipes are regular meals in our house. If I wasn't sure how well it would freeze, I'd just Google it. I learned that cream-based soups are not so great (but you can just add the cream or milk when reheating) and that some vegetables fair better than others, but that undercooking veggies can help. Anyway, there's a great deal of information out there on the internet, so that is a great tool while preparing freezer meals.

4. Use them up!

These little babies feel like masterpieces and I am tempted to save them for some rainy day. I've decided to chuck this mentality out the window because we want to enjoy them now! You should consider this, too, but everyone's needs and desires are different.

5. Freeze them flat.

Here's how I did this: I placed a cookie sheet or clean cutting board in the freezer and set the bag on top. I would smooth it out and let it freeze laying flat. Once the meal was frozen I would stack and organize them to make room for other meals. This is pretty awesome. Even if you have a teeny freezer like us, you should be good to go!

Well, I hope this helps!

Have a great Sunday!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Full-time Work, No Time for Blogging (Just kidding!)

So obviously, I do have time to blog because here I am writing. It is, however, 10:00 PM and I probably wouldn't have written tonight if I wasn't reminded that I do have a blog by a lovely family member (Thanks, Heather!).

Here's what's new: I started working two weeks ago. I feel like this...

Anybunny (haha, puns) have advice about not feeling dead after a full day of watching a classroom full of babies? Let me know in the comments. Working is great. I love my job working with little ones. I have to keep the blogging habit alive so here's to another day, another post. 

Love you all! I have a couple meaningful posts in the work, so stay tuned!