When Good Friends Go Bad

I have a handful of super close friends who are like family to me.  I’ll drop anything to help them when they need something.  I feel like everyone deserves at least one person like that, and I know of no better way to show people I really care about how I feel about them.  My problem is that I have friends with extremely dramatic lives.  They are always having emergencies.  They are always in the middle of a crisis.

I love my friends dearly, but I’m getting tired of jumping to the rescue all the time because that’s exactly what it’s getting to.  As soon as one gets things straight, another’s life falls to pieces.  I don’t doubt that they would do the same for me, but I just don’t have emergencies quite like they do.

I worked very hard in therapy to gain ownership of my own self, which sounds weird, I know.  Long story short, I did everything with everyone in mind but me to the point that I couldn’t determine what I really liked, wanted, or needed.  I had to relearn to how to say no, how to listen to my own likes, and to assert myself so I could voice opinions and enjoy myself around other people.  I had to take myself back from being at the whim of everyone else but me.  It was an agonizing process.  I’m worried that being so available for other people is getting back into that pattern.  Can I say no when things come up?  But who am I to choose which crises are most important to someone else?

I feel like I’m getting stretched past my comfort zone.  I want to pull back and spend my free time with my hubs, gardening, and crafting not rearranging my work schedule to spend my off time on the phone putting out fires.  I don’t know how to do that though.  Anyone know a nice way to say “I care but am not the help you’re looking for” while doing the force fingers besides inventing my own problems to occupy myself?

The Product Of A Foodie And A Geek

To make a long story short, I was looking into computer software for my mother-in-law, and  I found The Living Cookbook online.  It sounded so great, I bought a license for myself.  I’m so ridiculously excited!!

It just came in the mail today, so I can’t speak to exactly how much I like it yet, but it promises to do everything but cook for me.  It can organize recipes, give nutrition information, plan meals, create shopping lists, and even “capture” recipes that I find online.  It comes with some recipes, although I’m most excited about being able to input my own that I’ve collected from the far corners of the earth and organizing them.  Being able to search is going to be great.  And if you want, you can print out your own cookbook, and it will make a table of contents and organize the recipes by type.

I sit down every weekend and plan out a menu for the week before I go shopping.  It keeps me on a budget and keeps me from stockpiling items that don’t get used before they spoil.  Plus I’m horrible at shopping off the cuff and tend to come home with only half of my ingredients list.  I’m hoping this software will make that job super fast because I want to use it like an index for my regularly used recipes, especially the ones I gather online or from cookbooks at the library.

This is like a dream come true for totally weird, geeked-out foodies.  You know how easy it would be to make a family cookbook with this?!  I’ll try and remember to post an update once I have started using the software.

Book Review: Benjamin Franklin and the American Revolution

The University of Nebraska Press was so wonderful as to send me a copy of the recently released Benjamin Franklin and the American Revoultion by Jonathan R. Dull.  I read it over my trip to see the family a few months ago but haven’t had a chance to sit down and discuss it.

It took awhile for the book to sit well with me.  Dull’s writing is fast paced and easy to follow, but his portrayal of Benjamin Franklin is far from the usual image.  We typically see Franklin as the “affable old grandfather” of the nation, and Dull takes a major departure from this.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a “rebel” like the author does, but the text’s close focus on the war years of Franklin’s life does bring to light a side of the American hero that hasn’t been examined before.

Throughout the book, it was obvious that Franklin was bad, inexperienced, or out of his league at diplomacy.  That’s not so great when it was his primary role during the American Revolution.  By the end of the book, I still hadn’t decided if Dull intentionally painted Franklin as such or it was an unfortunate side effect of trying to emphasize how difficult a task Franklin had in Europe.  I would suggest that maybe American diplomats weren’t respected yet on the international scene as an explanation for Franklin’s troubles, but the author’s points about his double aims in government suggest otherwise.

The author has worked extensively with Franklin’s papers and relies on his letters as evidence for most of the book.  He doesn’t quote him very much, however, and I would have like to hear Franklin’s voice come out in the text more.

Whether or not you like the book or agree with Dull’s conclusions, the point is to challenge pre-conceived ideas about Franklin’s life and his contribution to early American history.  I think he’s done that while still illustrating how dedicated Benjamin Franklin was to the colonial cause.  That’s not easy to do.  Check it out and see what you think.

Sticky Weekend

I apologize for everyone who is still rejoicing at the mere sight of grass.  I was once one of you…but now I have moved on.

Three weeks ago (mid-April!) a friend and I went and picked strawberries.  They were delicioso!  Here’s before:

And here’s after:

Yay for jam!  I think we made three batches and ended up with close to 20 jars.  We sorta got carried away with the picking stage of this process and had to do something with all the berries.  Oops.

If you haven’t tried canning and making jam, it’s so easy and super fun.  It’s even better if you have a friend who’s interested too.  Kind of like a sticky girls day in.  I have this site bookmarked and rely on it all the time.  It has absolutely every piece of information you need to find local farmers markets and u-pick farms, recipes, step-by-step guidelines, and even where to buy canning kits and supplies.  It’s not that expensive to start, and most WalMarts have canning sections during the summer and fall.  Every year I try something different.  This year I’m thinking pickles, but I have no idea when cucumber season is down here.

Anywho…we also left the farm with one of these apiece.

I chose a small cabbage too.  We clearly got in over our heads.  But it was ah-mazing with onions and cheese.

Oscar Worthy

My brother, Super Rad, just graduated from film school.  I am so crazy proud of him.  I flew up to his place for a few days to see his movie premier and hang out.  I haven’t seen him in about a year, and he’s gotten out the Army, moved, and gone back to school since then.

He is super freaking talented!!  His passion is writing screenplays, but in the final movies he wrote a few, directed at least one, acted in two, edited several, and sang for another.  That’s just crazy.  He’s always been into music, and I knew he was decent at it, but he is so stinkin’ creative and artistic.  He’s an incredibly funny guy, but the movies he wrote and acted in were dark.  One was about torture and the other about getting his brother killed in a deal gone bad.  I couldn’t watch part of the torture movie it was so well done.  So scary!

I got to see his apartment and hang out a few days.  I met his friends who all seem like cool people.  It was such a short trip, but I’m so glad I went.  I’m still smiling about it a few days later.  I have a feeling I’m going to need to buy a bookcase soon to have some place to put all his movies.  He’s already working on movie sets.  I so better be thanked in his Oscar speeches!

Medieval Badassery

DH and I have been super busy, but the state Renaissance Fair has been sitting on our calendar for months.  Nothing was going to come up and keep us from going Medieval for a day.  I had intended on taking the camera so I could post some cool pictures…but then I forgot.  And then I forgot to take even crappy cellphone pictures because I was having such a great time, so this post isn’t going to be as great as it could have been.

The fair was about an hour and a half away, but the drive was so worth it.  The fair was just perfect.  Most of the stalls accepted Master of the Card.  The rides were human-powered meaning there were dudes turning a big wheel to make the carts or swings go around in a circle.  We saw a real joust.  Man, it looked so dangerous!  We got seated on the good knight’s side, and we dutifully cheered for him, but the dark knight, Maxmilian was so much cuter.  We shopped a little and ate a lot.  DH tried meade…and was disappointed.  There were several stages with acrobats, musicians, and comedians.  We tried to see at least a little bit of everything.  My favorite was Tartanic, a Celtic band.  I got one of their CDs, so yes, bagpipes and drums are blasting in my car right now.  The costumes were divine and totally authentic.  The price showed too.  Maybe next time I can try to get into them…if I win the lottery between then and now.  You could actually rent some for the day, but we didn’t.  You’ve got to start slowly when you’re integrating into the Dark Ages, ya know?

I don’t know if we’ll be around here for the fair next year, but it definitely set a high standard for future RenFests.