Friends: Birth to Adolescence

I wanted to take this opportunity to start a blog series talking about my friendships from birth to present.  A lot of times our friends help to shape who we are and oftentimes (especially when we are younger) they are mirrors to our own feelings.  Friend’s names have changed in this article to protect anonymity.

The first in this series will focus on my friends from birth to the time I turned about 11 or 12.

I really didn’t have a lot of close friends in my early years.  The ones I did have they lived really close to me.  The first friends that I had, I had them ever since I could remember.  According to pictures and my mother, we were friends since I was three or four.  Our mother’s were close friends around the same age with daughters around the same age as my sister and I so it was natural that we became friends.

Sarah was the oldest and about a year older than me.  She was bold, fun, and she was the one I was closer to.  Laura was the youngest and about a year younger than I was.  She could be whiny sometimes, upset about being left out, but I was still close to her as well.  She got more fun as we got older.  Our houses were two totally different streets and a little less than a mile away from each other if we took the street way.  However, back then, there was a path that went behind my house and I could walk to her house in just a few minutes.  My older sister and I used that path liberally.  It was one of those idyllic childhood friendships that was amazing.  Our families spent a lot of time together.  This was almost one of the best friendships I had.  We never fought, we stood up for each other.  Eventually they moved to the other side of town.  We still saw each other but not as much.  And then they moved to Memphis, six hours away.  That is pretty much the nail in the coffin for a childhood friendship.  We grew apart and I haven’t seen them for years.  I still think fondly on the times we had as children.

My other close friend I had was Mary.  Mary lived right down the street from my sister and I and we became very close.  She also had a younger sister, Theresa.  We lived at each other’s houses.  We were all pretty darn inseperable.  I remember playing Sonic the Hedgehog constantly over at her house and going to her house for pool parties.  This was one of the closes friends I ever had.  And then I threw the friendship away in the brattiest way possible.  I stupidly thought I needed friends that were the same race as I was (Mary and Theresa were white, I was black) so I started to distance myself from them.  I don’t think I knew I was doing that at the time but that’s definitely what was happening.  I regret my decision but this is one of those things that shaped me.

Stay tuned for my next series.  Adolescence to young adulthood!

Inaction is an action

I’m sure we’ve all people say something to the effect of, “I didn’t fight for (some kind of right) for you to not to (some kind of action related to the right).”  For a lot of people inaction is the same as no action at all.  In my father’s case, his was “My generation didn’t fight for the right for you to vote for you to not vote.”

My view is, people fight for the right for me to make a choice.  Not for the right for me to do something. If I choose not to vote, it’s nobody’s business and I shouldn’t feel obliged to vote just because somebody fought for the right.

I asked him since his generation also fought for the right to ride in the front of the bus, if he rides the bus every chance he gets and sits in the front.  (He doesn’t.)  He just kind of blustered and said it wasn’t the same thing.  In my mind, it’s exactly the same thing.

Inaction is a choice.  It may not be the choice that some people agree with, but it’s a choice.  I choose not to believe in certain things.  I choose not to go to certain places.  I choose not to talk to certain people.  Just by my choosing, it’s an action and one that I believe in.

Inaction is an action.


Review: Table Topics (Dinner Party)

My review of a little gift I got from my sister-in-law at Christmas. It’s a little cube of questions that gets conversations started at the dinner table!

April Favorites 2012 (by strumpet101)

Well, it’s makeup.  I’m not sure I’m creating with makeup for today’s theme, but I’m going to streeeeeeetch your imaginations and run with it!


Outfit of the Day: My new bow tunic shirt!


Outfit of the Day: My new bow tunic shirt!


was at Sahd’s desk today and saw this piece of paper with code on it… I think it’s python…some code to search and replace stuff in diff files or something.

While looking at the random strings of text, it inspired me to write this poem.

#!/user/head/conf girl

if go

Building a Walkway

The weekend of April 22nd, my husband and I took on the job of building a walkway from scratch.  First of all, this was a bigger job than I imagined but it also turned out much better than I imagined.

We wanted to build the walkway because the grass was starting to get worn down from the back patio to the dog run.  I knew before the end of the year, there would be an unsightly dirt track in the grass which would quickly turn to mud when it rained.  So we decided a pathway was in order.  We started doing various research on what we wanted.  We decided on gray paving stones.

We were initially just going to dig and put the paving stones and and that was it, but then we decided to do it the right way.  We found out what kind of gravel and sand we needed.  We went to Crane Landscaping the week before and set up a delivery date for a scoop and a half of gravel and a 1/2 scoop of sand.  If we did it over again, I would probably do a scoop of each.  Also a scoop is about a ton.

Friday we staked out the path that we thought we wanted.  Early the next morning, we rented a compactor to compact the dirt, gravel, and sand.  We could have used a manual tamper but that would have been way too much work.  We went to home depot and bout 180 paving stones.  These stones are 17.5 pounds each.  They loaded them onto our rented truck but we had to unload them at the house.  Let’s just say my back got a workout.

Two of J’s wonderful coworkers, Wayne and Chris, came to help us and we are so glad that they did.  They corrected our staked out path and advised us on the best way to slop the path away from the house.

Digging the path was definitely the worst part of the entire day.  Even though it was a cool 60 something degrees and drizzling, it was hot back breaking work.  And it didn’t help that when the house was built, the extra gravel that they had was thrown in the yard and covered with sod.  Yea.  Digging through gravel is really tough.  Looking back, we didn’t quit dig down far enough but I think it worked out fine.

After we finished digging it was time for the compactor.  The compactor vibrates a lot and it smooths out the surface and makes things as level as possible.  After the compactor was run across the dirt a few times, it was time for the gravel.This part wasn’t so bad and J did wonders spreading it out with the back end of the rake.  After the gravel was in, it was time for the compactor.  Again.  Finally after that was as level as possible, it was time for the sand.  This is where we tried to level everything out as much as possible.  The sand was smoothed by the compactor after it was pretty much level.

Then came the fun part of putting in the paving stones.  Making them level as much as possible was tough.  The end result isn’t totally level but I think it gives it character.  The part that was really important was that there be no obvious lips that could cause trippage and level with the patio.   Also, Wayne and Chris cut the stones so that the turns looked beautiful and effortless.

After the stones were in, we started spreading more sand over the top of the paving stones and getting in the cracks.  In the middle of this, we ran out of sand.  I made two trips to get more sand.  That was annoying but lesson learned.  After sand was smoothed in the cracks, the walkway was watered down the hose and sand brushed in the cracks again.  This was done several times and will have to be done in a couple of weeks again.

The walkway looks amazing and I am very pleased with how good it turned out.  Our bodies were hurting in the morning but we had something to show for it.  Next project: The shed floor.  /groan

Big thanks to Wayne and Chris.  Couldn’t have done it without you both.

Family: Chillaxing at the beach (by strumpet101)

Cooking: 7 Cooking Tips and Tricks

When I cook, I do not like to spend a lot of time doing it.  Less time cooking, more time eating.  If you are like me, then you might like to read seven things that I do to help speed up or ease the process without losing any quality in the food.

1.  Use pre-chopped garlic and onions. 

When I discovered pre-chopped garlic, it’s like a huge light came on.  This item can be found in small or large jars and keeps for awhile.  I purchased the large jar since I use garlic in almost everything.  I believe the flavor is just as strong as freshly chopped garlic and saves you a lot of time.  Especially since I’m not great at chopping up things.  I use spoonful for a clove.  As far as onions go, if you are extremely sensitive to onions like me, you cannot stand to cut up an onion.  A lot of times it sends me to the couch with a cold compress on my eyes.  I save my sanity by buying them pre-chopped.  It definitely costs more but it’s worth it.

2.  Clean up as you go.

This is a tip that my mother told me when I was young and it has never been more true.  That sauce is supposed to simmer for 15 minutes?  Start washing dishes.  You’ve set the pasta to boiling?  Wipe down the counters.  Ground beef in the pan but hasn’t started sizzling yet?  Throw the trash away.  This gives you a cleaner work space and less cleaning to do after dinner which makes cooking a more enjoyable experience.

3.  Read through the recipe before you start.

This may seem like a given but you would be surprised at how many times I used to not read the recipe through the first time and I start and then I realize I was supposed to marinate the chicken for four hours.  Dinner ruined.  The day before you intend to cook a new recipe, read it through.  Double check your ingredients and make sure you have enough of everything.  Even having a little bit extra of an ingredient can’t hurt in case you need to adjust the recipe for any reason.  (Just because the recipe calls for 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, it doesn’t mean you won’t want a little more garlic in your life.)

4.  Gather ingredients beforehand.

This is another one that seems like a given but if you don’t do it, you will be scrambling around the kitchen grabbing each item as you are trying to cook at the same time.  It makes cooking a hassle.  Read down the list of your ingredients and put them all out on the counter.  Chop up things that are supposed to be chopped.  If they are added into the recipe at the same time, you can put them in the same bowl.  If a lot of liquids are added into the dish at the same time, you can pre-measure them out into one bowl.  Prep bowls are often used to keep the proper amount of ingredients right at hand but not necessary and can cause more clean up.  But they do look good :)

5.  Invest in quality cookware and utensils.

I know better than anybody that cookware is expensive.  Believe me, I know. But, cheap cookware can make cooking a nightmare and waste more time than saving it.  Take the time and save up for some cookware that cooks food evenly and won’t burn the contents.  My cookware is relatively inexpensive without being worthless.  I received the Cooks set for my wedding and I love it.  It is the best cookware set I have ever used.  Buy quality knives and make sure you keep them sharp.  One sharp knife makes cooking easier.

6.  Modify the recipe for next time.

Every time I make a new recipe, I have it open in my Google Docs.  As I discover things that I would do differently, I make a note of it and the recipe becomes more me.  For instance, I had a recipe that called for a 2 quart baking dish.  It became obvious that 2 quarts was way too small for what the recipe called for, so I altered it to three quarts and I know for next time.  If you alter the recipe on the spot, you won’t have to recall what you changed to get it to taste so good.

7.  Map out a mealplan

This is something I recently started doing and so glad I did.  Both my husband and I work 40 hours a week so we used to wonder what we were going to eat and I would either be rushing to the store after work or we would resort to fast food.  It was stressful and we hated not knowing what we were eating the next day.  I wanted to cook more but going to the store after work was something I was wanting to do less and less.  Enter the meal plan.  I take ten to fifteen minutes looking at recipe emails that I get or look over past recipes that I’ve made.  I make a list every day of what I’m cooking and then make a grocery list and go shopping.  When you shop it’s good to place the items in a different sections on your list so that you get all the produce at one time, all the meat at one time, etc.  Remember to make your meal plan flexible for unforseen circumstances and build in days where you don’t have to cook.  This will make it seem more like a pleasure than a chore.

These are just a few of the things that make my life with cooking easier.  There are many other little tips and tricks that I use to make cooking an enjoyable experience.  Let me know things that you do to make cooking easier.

Tag: Brain Candy with Strumpet & Jaminbee (by strumpet101)

I sit down with my good friend Jaminbee to do the Brain Candy tag cooked up by Alachia and thatGALmichelle! As you can tell from the editing work, Alachia normally edits our 5 for 5’s!! This was my first time being in charge of production and editing; I promise I will be much better next time!!