Rants/Raves

Happy 4th birthday, Gainfully Something!

I started this blog four years ago. My first entry ended with my original tag line: Unemployed and Annoyed. Those adjectives were very fitting at the time. (I’m still frequently annoyed.)

My tag line has changed since then. Now it’s Life Worth Living. I was very purposeful when I switched over. I’d realized that I was being unnecessarily negative, which, yes, is another frequent state of being for me. I needed to look at my situation from a different angle. 

I’m still unemployed, technically, and as I’ve said, I’m still annoyed. But I’m a very fortunate person and due to my circumstances, I have the option of being a housewife and a stay-at-home mom. My life is worth living, and I’m not just waiting around for something better to come along anymore. I’m Carpe-ing the shit out of this Diem. 

When I started this project, I was 26, I had a cute boyfriend, and I was still desperately trying to get a library job. Aside from my awesome boyfriend I was pretty bummed about my life. Now I’m 30, I have a cute husband, I’m having our first child in 6 weeks (holy shit), and I’m good with where I am. I still have aspirations of working for Planned Parenthood someday, maybe when our brood enters high school, but for now:

Carpe the Shit Out of This Diem. 

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New Project, Old Project

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2016 treats us well and that we treat each other well. 

Let’s quickly review 2015, because it’s the thing to do:

In January of last year, I taught myself how to use my sewing machine. It was frustrating and tear-inducing and it sucked. I did it. 

A lot of my sewing project sucked. I spent a lot of time ripping stitches, swearing so loudly that I woke the dog. I completely ruined at least three things to the point where I never want to see that fabric again. I made myself bleed a bunch. I have scars from my iron. 

But I’m stupidly happy with how both my project and my year turned out. Little Something arrives in April, my cats have never been snugglier, our dog is an adorable idiot, and Mr. Something got a promotion. 

So. 2016. 

In 2016 I’ll continue to sew something new every month. I’ll also make two new (to me) recipes a week, with at least one being a crockpot recipe. At the end of the year, I’ll compile our favorites into The Something Family Cookbook.  

Sound good? I can think of infinite ways this could go sideways. It’s going to be great. 

Sleep, You Elusive Jerk (and Overnight Oats)

Oh, sleep. I miss you. You haven’t been easy to come by for two years or so, and now you’re even more difficult to find. My nose is constantly clogged, a delightful symptom of pregnancy, and I have never peed more in my life. 
(I know you have good intentions, friends and readers, but please spare your “Just you wait!” and “You think you’re tired now!” comments. Guys, I know. But you can’t store sleep away in a jar for later, so I’d really like to get it while the getting is good. And being pregnant is really tiring because there is a person living inside me stealing all of my nutrients and fluids.)

So. In addition to being super tired, I am super hungry. All. The. Damn. Time. (Nutrient stealer.) I’ve tried many things to stave off hunger and keep me filled up, but I think I just found my favorite thing. I even bought some cute pint Ball jars expressly for this recipe. I make my own fun. 

Overnight Oats for One

  • 3/4C old-fashioned oats (not quick oats!)
  • 1/2C coconut milk (the kind in a carton; or any kind of milk)
  • 1/4C plain yogurt
  • a glug of real maple syrup 
  • a teeny splash of almond or vanilla extract 
  • a pinch of salt
  • a small handful of dried cranberries
  • pinches of cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg

Mix all ingredients in a pint jar. Leave in fridge overnight. In the morning, add fresh berries, sliced banana, diced apple, etc. 

Permission to Feel Excited: Granted 

Today I’m 18 weeks pregnant. I actually look pregnant now, something that Mr. Something takes great pleasure in telling me daily. (“You know,” I said last night, “I’m just going to keep looking more and more pregnant from this point on, so really, you can stop saying that.”)

It’s real now. Once I crossed into the second trimester, my risk of bad things happening plummeted, and all of my blood work results are stellar. We have a healthy kid in there. 

But there’s still something that keeps me from celebrating out loud, and that makes me feel like a jerk. Full disclosure: we tried for the better part of a year before we conceived, and that experience gave me some insight into how scary and disheartening and crushingly sad it can be when your body doesn’t do what you really, really want it to do. (Not to mention, what you spent the majority of your adult life trying to prevent, so it’s weird from top to bottom.) Then, when I got exactly what I wanted, I immediately started thinking of worst-case scenarios. Anxiety is a joy-sucker. 

Essentially I spent quite a bit of this year thinking I was broken, and then the first two months after I found out I was pregnant afraid to believe it was real. It’s been a surreal, stressful time. After all that, it’s difficult for me to jump into this headfirst; what if, what if, what if. 

Well, pardon my language, but fuck that nonsense. It’s time for me to get out of my head and into the world. I’m going to get rid of my nervous smile, the one that says, “I hope this works, crapcrapcrap, it’s going to work, right?” I’m all in, baby, and dammit, I’m excited. 

Victories

Yesterday I turned 30. Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. 

I had a wonderful birthday, but today’s ruling makes me happier than a million birthdays. This is a victory for our country. It’s not just about weddings; it’s about hospital visitation rights, last wishes, custody, and many, many other important rights. 

I’m overjoyed that as I enter my next decade, we’re that much better. 

Vanity Sizing and Realism

I’m a curvy gal. My hips are 42″ and my waist is 30″–so Sir Mix-a-Lot would have a lot to say about me. Lady Bootyton, at your service. 

I own a lot of size 4 dresses from Dress Barn. They fit perfectly. I’m a big fan of The Barn, despite their weird name. Cute shit, reasonable prices, and I get to say I’m a size 4. 

That’s the problem. The fabric store had a pattern sale a few weeks ago and I got a really cute “very easy” retro pattern from 1952. I opened it up today so I could figure it out and see how much fabric I need since I have a coupon. WELL. According to the eminent minds at Butterick, I’m a size 14. Fourteen. Ten numbers bigger than my usual Barn size. I’m starting to understand that whole “Marilyn Monroe would be plus-sized now” thing, even though that’s sort of nonsense. Her waist was smaller than mine, but my hips are bigger. (That was me bragging, by the way.)

But Jeezum crow, guys, what the hell? Yes yes yes it’s just a number, but why in the fuck are these two numbers SO DIFFERENT? Oh, I know, because we (Americans/Westerners) have an obsession with thinness (or the illusion of thinness) and body control. I knew that the size 4 label at Dress Barn was vanity sizing but I was completely ignorant of just how vain their sizing is. 

Let me be clear: I’m a huge fan of my body. My curves are awesome. I’m built like a very short pinup peasant from the Old Country. Wide and short, that’s me! It’s taken me years to get comfortable with myself, and it feels wonderful. And you know what I’d love? If our culture embraced this body positivity and just put the correct damn numbers on our clothes. Or do it like the industry does for men: measurements. My husband’s jeans literally say the size of his waist on them. Why can’t we have that too? Like, oh, I wear a size 30 waist/42 hip jean. 

Basically, let’s love ourselves and be honest with ourselves. Love those inches on your hips, love the width of your ribs, love your thick thighs. (Or tiny thighs!) Don’t let yourself get bummed when you look at your pattern chart and see a double-digit number. 

Vanity sizing doesn’t accomplish anything other than very superficially making you feel better for reasons that make no sense. Our standard of beauty should not be based on a dumb clothing tag. You know what they say in Botswana as a compliment? “You’re looking very fat today!” That is lovely. 

In conclusion: you’re gorgeous and I’m a size 14. 

Curvily yours,

Amanda K. 

Broken Needles, Bird’s Nest Bobbins, and Other Sewing F*ck Ups

Oh guys. Today was not my sewing day. It started out fine–I was just making a mini zippered pouch for myself, so nothing I haven’t done before. Then I sewed over the metal zipper teeth and broke my goddamn needle. Sigh. Of course I don’t have another regular needle, so my project will have to wait until tomorrow when I go to the fabric store. 

This shit happens a lot. We don’t really talk about the fuck ups in Sewing Town, but between broken needles and Bobbins Gone Wild, sewing can be super annoying. But no, we take pictures of the final project with all the extra threads snipped and the messy parts covered up. Because seriously, it’s embarrassing sometimes. I know to avoid sewing over metal because in middle school sewing class, our teacher specifically said, “Hey, don’t sew over metal, small idiots.” And then a boy in my class sewed over his fingernail and we forgot all about her sage advice because blood is fascinating. 

You might notice that I’m using more colorful language lately and that’s intentional. From now on, this blog won’t be a cleaned-up version of my thoughts; I’m going to curse and be annoyed sometimes. That’s who I am. I’m salty. I curse a LOT. If that isn’t your jam, goodbye, friend. Authenticity is pretty great, I’m pretty great, and sewing can be great (except when you want to throw your machine at the wall). 

Here’s another sewing foible I encountered the other day. I bought the last bit of this gorgeous fabric I’d been eyeing for a while with the intention of making yet another circle skirt. Then I fucked up cutting the fabric and now I have three-quarters of a circle skirt cut out and no way to salvage it. Goddamnit, guys. I actually hid the pieces I cut under another yard of fabric because I didn’t want to look at it. These are the times I make a low growl and eat a bunch of jam out of the jar. 

So hello, friends who like a bit of pirate language in their lives, and so long, friends who prefer “gosh” and “dang.” Here’s to better sewing days!

Snowy Day (and Crockpot Buffalo Chicken)

We sort of had a white Xmas. During the day, it was in the 40s, and around dinnertime, it started sleeting. We woke up to awful roads (because they don’t plow here; why don’t they plow here??), but thankfully we had no place to go, just like the song.

It started snowing early this morning. It is still snowing. It’s going to snow all day, and tomorrow, too. Snowy days call for something in the crockpot, and a spicy something is especially good. I made this yesterday; it’s also really good for parties, like the SuperBowl (Go Pack Go, perhaps?).

 

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 12 oz. bottle Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce (you can use the Extra Hot Buffalo kind, but watch out, because that stuff does not mess around)
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch mix (I use Spicy Ranch, which adds just enough zip to be interesting, but it doesn’t burn off your face)

Dump all of this into your crockpot. Mix it around to coat the chicken. Don’t worry about mixing in all of the ranch; it’ll melt in there gradually. Cook on low for 6 hours. Shred chicken in the crock, and stir to mix with that delicious sauce.

Serving suggestions:

You can serve this on cocktail buns with pickles and extra ranch on the side. It’s equally good wrapped up in romaine lettuce leaves. We’ve used it to make Buffalo chicken pizza before. It’s so ridiculously good and stupidly simple.

Self-Definition

Recently, I have realized that not everyone is pleased with the word “housewife.” I feel like I have to say something.

To use the old cliche, Merriam-Webster defines “housewife” as “a married woman who stays at home, does cleaning, cooking, etc., and does not have another job outside the home.” While I volunteer for Planned Parenthood, I am not paid for this work, so this definition is true for me. I am married. I clean. I cook. I et cetera the shit out of every day. (There’s a lot of et cetera.) I do not have a paying job outside my home. My husband is the breadwinner.

If you think this is old-fashioned, that’s fine. But you don’t know me very well, I guess, if you think this is a bad arrangement. I love cooking. I like cleaning. I hate tidying, but Mr. Something likes it, so he does that most of the time. I love taking care of our pets. I’m proud of our home because I spend lots of time making it a nice place. In addition to being a housewife, I love reading about science, Australian detective novels, drinking beer, and watching hockey. This is my life, meaning it is not your place to judge or comment.

Having a career does not mean you are a fulfilled person. Not having a career does not mean you are a fulfilled person. However, being a housewife fulfills me, along with my volunteer activities and social life. I have a full, wonderful life. And I choose with every fiber of my being to be a housewife.

If you have a quibble about the word I choose to use, that is your problem and not mine. If I introduced myself to you as “Amanda,” and you turned to someone and said, “This is Mandy,” I would probably slap you, because I am definitively not a Mandy and I just introduced myself as “Amanda.” Respect my choice. The same goes for what I choose to call what I do day in and day out. If I say I am a housewife, do not then say, “Oh, you’re a homemaker.” I guess… but that’s not what I call it, and besides, Mr. Something makes our house a home just as much as I do.

I have had it with people thinking that I am not a feminist because of the word I choose for myself, and the work I choose for my family. Feminism is about choice, and it’s about women being equal to men. I work equally hard as my husband; he just happens to get paid for his contribution. Mr. Something asked me, “Do you want to get a job?” I said, “Not really,” and he replied, “Okay.” That sounds like a choice to me, and my husband supports me 100%.

Again, if you have a problem with any of this, or if you think I am less of a feminist for being a housewife or a future stay-at-home mom, please realize that you are trying to regulate my speech and my choices, and that is not a feminist act. It’s actually fairly misogynist.

Hello again! (and Weeding)

Hi! *waves frantically* I didn’t have wifi for almost two weeks, so I sort of disappeared. I am back now.

So with this new house comes a big backyard and a smaller front yard. (Why does “backyard” look normal and “frontyard” doesn’t? Hm.) With yards come weeds, because they are advantageous little buggers. I’ve discovered that one of my new favorite things is weeding. Seriously. I throw on a big straw hat and some ridiculous purple garden gloves, go out into the Rocky Mountain sun, and send some poor plants to their doom. It is incredibly cathartic. Furious at anti-vaxxers? Weed. Some of your new neighbors are kind of weird and rude? Weed. You read the comments? Weed. When I’m done and see that big pile of unfortunate leaves, twigs, and roots, I sigh and feel better about most things.

I also murdered some mushrooms the other day (chopping at things with a trowel is pretty fun), and they haven’t grown back yet, so hooray for me.

All of this house stuff is sort of overwhelming; the previous owners neglected a lot of stuff and tried to cover it up with some paint and (literally) a mirror. (Side note: they had a [in their words] “problem daughter,” and I’m pretty sure she tried to kick in her door at one point. I moved a hanging mirror from a guest room door last week and there was a HUGE smashed-in part. We also suspect she kicked something very heavy down the stairs, resulting in a slightly smushed wall. We don’t really *mind* these things, per se, since they’re fairly easily fixed, but come on, guys.) We need to take one step at a time or I think we’ll both go insane.

HOME OWNERSHIP!