Writing Again…

Wow. It has kind a really long time since I wrote on this blog. Kind of forgot I had it. A lot has changed since September 11, 2012 when I wrote my last post. I did a semester of grad school, I got a new (real!) job at a marketing firm, I have another niece, Vivienne, I moved out of my parents, I had surgery and had to start running all over again, dated a few guys.

I figure with a new year and so many big changes, maybe I should try to spend some time writing creatively again, and putting some creative effort into what I eat-enough that it is worthy of telling you about, anyway.

So, I don’t promise I’ll write every day, or even once a week (Lord willing, that’s the goal!). Cheers to a fresh year filled with a million possibilities. To start off, I thought I’d share an article I wrote a couple of months ago.

Why I Kept My Purity Ring On

There wasn’t a singular moment in which I decided that I no longer was going to wear my purity ring. There was, instead, a series of events that made me question the rigidity to which I held in wearing it. The ring was given to me by my father when I turned thirteen. I had been excited about getting it; I had seen my two older sisters receive theirs. In some ways, it represented a rite of passage for me; entering into a new season of life—not quite adulthood—but certainly a more grown up one in which I entered a world of boys, dating, and a recognition of sexuality. My parents didn’t give it to me in the hopes that it would act as some sort of chastity belt, that is, that it was the deciding factor in me choosing to make certain decisions or not. Rather, it simply symbolized a commitment to purity and their support of me in choosing that commitment.

I’ve worn that ring for twelve years. At some point, I think, wearing it lost much of its meaning and it became something I just did without giving it much thought. I still hold to the commitment, but in some ways it lost it’s meaning to me. There is a certain sentimental value it holds—a gift I’ve had for many years, an enduring symbol. Has coming along those twelve years with that choice of purity always been easy? No, of course not. I don’t think I ever looked at the ring in any moment of temptation and by looking at it felt dissuaded. I still made the choice to be pure, but it was because I had already made that choice, ring or not. Wearing the ring has led to some interesting discussions, with friends, with coworkers, with complete strangers even. People typically respect the choice, but are mystified by the ring.

We live in a hyper-sexualized society and little is held sacred anymore. Marriage is often viewed as a worthless act or a suffocating entity. Purity is viewed as being overtly prude, or as a statement of judgment on those who have not chosen that particular path. Therefore, my decision to wear a symbol of what I believe in is an attempt to be different. Just as someone who is married wears a wedding ring to symbolize and show their marriage, I wear a ring that symbolizes and shows my choice to not do certain things before I’m married. I didn’t make that choice to be rigid or because my “religion” states it is a must. I do it as a protection for my heart and my body and to give my future spouse all of me, unshared with anyone else. If that married person isn’t wearing their ring, their still married and they don’t have to have the ring in order to be married. It’s just a symbol, but an important one.

I actually stopped wearing my purity ring for a while. Maybe to make a statement, maybe to do something different. And then I realized that, no, this is an important thing to me. So now, I try put it on more consciously. It isn’t a statement meant to judge someone else or act as a barrier between me and temptation. It is a statement both to others and to myself of my choice to carry on with this decision to embrace purity.

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running these days

Last week at work there was a slow afternoon-not a single person eating in the restaraunt. Somehow, through conversation, I challenged a coworker to a race. We went outside to our patio where there is a courtyard and had a foot race-maybe 100 feet-not far at all. And I lost. Why I thought I would win is beyond me…I have endurance, the ability (maybe more willingness) to gut it out and run for a long time, but I do not have speed. To make matters worse, this guy is a smoker and had just eaten lunch. I told him I got beat by a preggers smoker. Great.

But I don’t run because I’m fast. I don’t run for the speed or thrill of winning a race. I run because it clears my head. Because I love how I feel afterwards-the ache of my muslces, the sense of accomplishment. I run because I’m blessed with a body that works and lets me push it. There is a sense of freedom in running, outside of races or times or pace. I didn’t start running to be competitive or to achieve something, but simply to run for the sake of doing it.

Reading this book on running:14 Minutes: A Running Legend's Life and Death and Life

I’m not far enough in yet to have a definite opinion, but he seems to be telling more than just his story-he incorporates a lot about history, about running in general. Enjoying it thus far!

And I want to run this race:  http://www.oneheartforjustice.com/. Any takers to join me??

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fried green tomatoes

I’ve recently decided that I really dislike gyms. I think they serve a good purpose and are functional, of course, but they aren’t really my cup of tea. Last year when I ran the Chile Pepper 10k there was a 2-week free gym membership. Since I run outside and have some free weights at home, I don’t have any need of a gym. This one, however, does have tanning. So, you are free to judge me, but I’ve been going to the gym just to darken myself up a little. In going there, I’ve been reminded of exactly how much I love running outdoors. Free and in nature. Not holed up in a windowless room with televisions, music blaring, and dudes checking themselves out in the mirror.

On to a culinary delight I’ve never had before, until a few weeks ago. What kind of southern gal am I, to never have had fried green tomatoes before? (I dislike sweet tea with a fierce passion…and I realize that makes me a bad southerner). Anyway, these gems came out of the garden of my mother, the farmer. 

I sliced them up, and it takes a little extra work, slicing green tomatoes, vs. red because they are pretty hard. Not soft and mushy like red tomatoes. Sprayed one side with a some cooking spray, sprinkled with seasoning salt (Crazy Jane’s is a favorite. Cavendar’s-the Greek seasoning salt is also wonderful), and slid into a fiery hot pan.

Just let those little guys hang out and soften. I covered them with a lid to speed up the process. The thicker the slices, the longer it takes for them to break down and caramelize, but given enough time, that’s what will happen. They’ll be soft and slightly sweet and full of flavor. 

They’re good plain, or with some feta sprinkled on top. I also don’t recommend eating too much…unripe foods can cause a little stomach disruption, if you know what I mean:)

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bread

So summer is over. I know that technically it isn’t, that the heat still has a long way to go before it surrenders itself to autumn, that as far as the calendar goes there’s still a month to go. But school started Monday, football is starting, and the weather is cooling off the tiniest bit. As much as I love summer, the start of the week felt kind of refreshing in a way, like suddenly with the advent of the school year, it was a new season. 

Perfect for bread making. Now, this is only the most technical of bread making, because all it is is dumping a list of ingredients into the bread maker and letting it do its magic. Sometimes I forget we have one, but it is a huge time saver. I made a loaf of honey granola bread. Is there anything better than the yeasty smell of bread? That’s probably one of the reasons I like certain beers, because of that strong yeasty flavor. 

Om nom nom.

Maybe the best part of my day Monday:

So thankful for these ladies who left this-it’s nice to see people getting it “right.”

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awesomesauce.

Applesauce is a good thing. Homemade applesauce is a great thing. Food mills seem to be gaining popularity these days with new parents who want to make their own baby food. Genius idea, in my opinion. Simply mill whatever you’re eating and voila! baby has a refined palate in training and the parent has only 1 meal to fix.

Side note: I had a family today that ordered for their kids, ranging in age from I’d say 1 1/2-9 years that ate hummus, and a pizza with garlic, spinach, broccoli, and onions. I told the mom I was pretty impressed and she just laughed and said “oh kids learn to like whatever you feed them!” I’m tucking that away for future knowledge. Back to applesauce. We grew up eating this stuff. My Grandmama had a giant apple tree in her backyard and we would climb it and pick apples. A few weeks ago, I helped pick apples off the tree in our yard. It was not quite as nostalgic as my childhood memories. Mostly it was hot, I kept getting pieces of branch and bark in my eyes, and the apples kept rolling away from me. I digress.So it goes from peeled and boiled green apples into the strainer where it is mashed around and comes out in a thick puree. It is sweetened with sugar (Splenda for me) and has some thickener put in and then it is frozen. It is possibly the best summer dessert there ever was.It is fantastic on toast, with cottage cheese, or by itself. Really, I can’t envision a bad variation of things it can be paired with.

One more tangent: It seems Mumford and Sons can do no wrong:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cj0xOdE07TQ&feature=g-vrec. Please listen.

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greatness

The Olympics have ended and I am almost at a loss as to what to do with my time…at least my obsession with watching and cheering USA on was successful. I saw something the other day on tv, however, that was Olympics related so I watched it for a minute and was intrigued.

There was a Nike ad that I saw frequently during the Olympics (I didn’t hear the words to it, because I mostly saw it at work where the televisions are muted). However, there was another version that I never actually saw but that supposedly aired, with a similar theme. It featured a boy, 12 years old and overweight, running. That’s it. And the narrator talks about greatness is often believed to be reserved for a “chosen few” but that in reality it is possible for each of us to attain.

Firstly, that is such a true statement. We often think that if we aren’t of a certain caliber, then we aren’t capable of doing much of anything. That is true in sports, in fitness, in our jobs, in anything in life. And we are fed images and stories constantly about those that are achieving great things and they become our models and the standard to which we try to stack up. But really, we’re all capable of anything, anyone can achieve greatness. And how often do we see those “great” models fail or merely show their humanity and we stand by as they are lambasted for it.

I love the quote from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Whatever mode we come by greatness, it is there for everyone. And isn’t greatness in the eyes of the beholder, perhaps? What someone deems a great thing maybe isn’t all that much to someone else.

Secondly, this kid (Nathan) has come under a lot of fire for doing this commercial. So have his parents for supposedly exploiting him. During the interview, I think that was made pretty clear that wasn’t the case. If it has any positive effect, whether on someone watching, or simply on Nathan as motivation, I think the effort was beyond worth it.

What is greatnesss-is it what we do, what we achieve, who we are? I certainly don’t believe our greatness is defined by what we look like, or how fit we are. Maybe somehow that all fits in, but no singular thing defines greatness in a life.

Go watch it yourself and see what you think:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JnYcuRW_qo&feature=related

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botswana

This fantastic little guy was caught earlier this week. (And by fantastic, I mean a fantastically huge nuisance…) He had been digging deep holes throughout the yard looking for grubs.

We didn’t eat him, he was not the meat in our Botswana meal. I won’t tell you where he ended up.

Last night we went on a little trip to Botswana, where my brother was all summer. And by “little trip” I mostly just mean he fixed us Botswanan food: beef and cabbage, pap (pronounced “pop”), and corn. The beef was marinated in a soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and pepper sauce, and the cabbage was cooked with onions and tomatoes. Very unique flavors and very African. Actually, it is eating every last bit with your fingers that makes it authentically African.Pap is a Botswanan variation of the typically African cornmeal mush. I say mush because that really is what it is-cornmeal cooked in boiling water until it is congealed and mashed easily. We had it in Tanzania with almost every meal, except there it was called ugali.

 

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