Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Day in the Life

Scene opens with Abi typing away at her computer. She sits cross-legged in her desk chair, frowning at the bright-white face of the computer. The dog, Solo, lies on his side at the foot of her chair. Suddenly, Mark bounds into the room.

Mark: Lunche! Lunche!
Solo immediately thinks its time to play and starts jumping around.
Abi (startled): What?
Mark: It's time for...lunche! lunche!
Abi: What on earth is lunche?
Mark: means lunch. It's what the Mexican contractors would always shout when it was time to eat when I worked in the field.
Abi: Oh! Lunchey! Lunchey!
Solo continues to spin and jump
Mark (shaking his head): No. Lunche.
Abi: Lunchey! Lunchey!
Mark: What is this lunchey!  It's LUNCH-EH
Abi: Lunchey! Lunchey!
Mark: Stop that! Lunche! There is no thing as lunchey
Abi: In my world, Mark, there is lunchey. Lunchey lunchey lunchey lunchey
Solo starts barking

Yes. This is our life.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Reading List

As some of you know, I'm currently in the midst of my M.A.T. degree (Master of Arts in Teaching) from Mount St. Mary's University. Sometimes I love the work and come home with a heart full of take-on-the-world, movie-quality-teacher inspiration. Other times, the work is more like....wrestling a wet cat that's determined to claw its way out of your control.

In the midst of all this chaos, I sometimes lose track of my reading. But this summer. This summer, I dove into my reading pile and have been swimming around ever since, rejecting any attempts at rescue.

Here's a glimpse at the worlds I've been to thus far:

The Conquered List: 
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather... Somehow, I managed to go through four years of an English degree and not read a single page of Willa Cather. (If any of my former professors are reading this and thinking "But wait, I assigned that!"....I'm sorry.) Needless to say, I'm glad I rectified this lack in my life.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Bejamin Alire Saenz.... a spin on the coming-of-age novel, achingly blunt and  truthful. One of those books that every other sentence makes you catch your breath.
Midwinerblood by Marcus Sedgwick....Okay, okay, I know it won a Printz Award, but, while the labyrinthine structure was definitely original, I felt the writing itself to be a little forced. It felt like a book that was trying desperately to be earth-shattering Literature-with-a-capital-L. All that aside...I would use it in class.
The Fault in our Stars by John Green... Holy smokes. I cried and blubbered things like "it's just so beautiful." That's all.
The Nazi Hunters by Neil Bascomb... I have two things to say: 1) The narrator and tone are quite biased, borderline demonizing the men of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Admitttedly, if any government deserved to be demonized, the Third Reich would be it. However, it's a lot scarier to realize that these were rational, human men and women who voted and made their own decisions. 2) This is a pretty darn good nail-biter. I'm fairly certain I did a fist pump near the end.
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare....Haters gonna hate, but this is cheap and good entertainment.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter...Any book that takes me to Italy and 1950-60s Hollywood is a good book in my book. I just said the word book alot.

The Waiting List:
Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Wuthering Heights by Emiliy Bronte (a re-read, but its been a while)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank (my go-to beach-read author)
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I'm always in need of some more recommendations. Come one, come all with your suggestions!.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why I Chose to Change my Name

Recently, a close friend underwent the Social Security obstacle-course-dance of having her name legally changed to include her husband's surname. While texting me from the waiting room, she remarked that the act of legally changing her last name made her feel not sad, not hesitant, but just funny in a way that the marriage itself--that tumultuous moment of vows, bells, and bows-- did not. Hearing her remark, I had to admit: yes, that's so true. For me, the legal name change was a moment of excitement, exhilaration, and some sadness.

Talking to my friend made me ask myself: Why did I chose to change my name?

In the past, a woman changing her name after marriage was a foregone conclusion. It was expected. The woman, in a sense, "belonged" to her husband; her identity was subsumed by his identity. According to this report by the Huffington Post, up to 80% of women between the ages of 40 and 60 elected to adopt their husband's last name. Recently, more women have elected to keep their own name, but the figure of name-changers still stands at roughly 65% of women between 20 and 30. While closer to half-and-half, the "name-changers" still dominate by about fifteen percent in my generation. Women who held their "maiden" name cited reasons ranging from college degrees and professional titles to nostalgia to preferring the flow of their original last name to defiance of antiquated customs to simply hating going to the Social Security and DMV offices.

So why did I choose to change mine? Believe it or not, I've had several people ask me this question, some with genuine curiosity, others with flinty-eyed scorn at my apparent cow-towing to custom.  Since talking to my recently married friend, I decided to take a moment, sit down, and really ponder, once again, my reasoning for choosing the last name change. Believe it or not, it was a decision I weighed very heavily, and today, I want to share my reasons with you.

1. I love my husband.
Now let me start off by clarifying that I by no means am implying that women who choose NOT to change their names love their husbands any less than I love mine. Not at all. Here's what I am saying: I believe that an important foundation to a strong, lasting love is to love your partner more than you love yourself. I'm proud of my husband. He is an amazing, strong, brilliant, confident, and conscientious man. He and I truly see each other as partners in life. He doesn't lord himself over me or exercise some  supremacy of manhood. No. Obey and summit were not in our vows. Respect, however, was. He respects me, and I respect him. I love his name because its a part of who he is. As his partner, I don't mind being called by his name, because I'm proud to know him and be part of his family. He is mine, and I am his--our names are a physical and legal representation of that bond.
2. I didn't have any professional titles or higher degrees, at that point.
This point is pretty straight-forward. Although I do plan to someday attain my doctorate degree, I don't have it yet. So, I didn't have to worry about my new name not matching the name under which I received that major milestone. Had I been a Dr. Black, I probably would have kept my original last name if for no other reason than to avoid hassle!
3. Hyphenation sounded odd.
I strongly considered this alternative. However, "Abigail Claire Black-Hobbs" was just too many single-syllable words strung together. To be honest, I just didn't like the flow.
4. It was a new chapter, a new beginning, a new me.
I didn't view dropping "Black" as a loss of identity or self. Instead, I saw it as an acknowledgement of the monumental life decision and vows I had made--a new door to open, a new path to take, a new facet of my identity.

All that being said, I strongly believe that every woman should make this decision for herself.  My reasons are not another's reasons. They're my own. It's a big decision: you forever change your legal identity. I would be lying if I didn't admit that "Abi Black" being a name that now exists legally only on paper and in memory didn't make feel nostalgic and somewhat sad. Yet, at the same time, I love who I was, am, and will become. And there's no telling what the road ahead will bring.

What about you? Any thoughts on this issue?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Let's Go Walking

Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are
endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature,
good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence,
and nothing too much.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dill House Diary: Our Bedroom

I thought I might share a "tour" of our bedroom today. 

As you may have gathered, I love bright color, sparkle, and texture. I know that my style may not be the 'look that's in" right now. I am neither minimalist or mid-century modern, although I certainly appreciate those styles and have pinned my share of photos. Instead, I tend to go for bold, eye-catching color and fabrics. I don't care that I live in a small space. I love the fact that when you open the door, it's BOOM! Color, pattern, and touchable prints everywhere. At least, this is the effect I hope I'm achieving. Maybe you look at it and think, "wow, what a tacky mess." If so, then its a good thing I live here and not you! 

One of the things I love about our bedroom: it sits on the front of the house. In fair weather, I love throwing open the windows and watching the cars go by. Right outside the window, there is a giant gold ginkgo tree. A little known fact: Frederick hosts the largest ginkgo in the world. Every fall, the ginkgo on our street---almost as tall as the record-breaker a few blocks down--transforms into a yellow-gold giant. Then, all at once, it drops all its leaves, paving our little street in gold. 

That tree is one of those little joys about a home that you don't know exist until you buy it. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekend Photo Reel 6.16

This past weekend, we met some friends in Washington, D.C. for an impromptu day-trip to the Eastern Market.  The June weather was rare and perfect: warm sun on the shoulders and a cooling breeze. We laughed about old times while we caught up on new times, walked until our paws hurt, and ate the best french fries ever. Plus, I experienced a personal triumph: I road the metro in a rear-facing seat and didn't get motion sick! Does this mean I'm finally growing my metro-legs?

 1. Beautiful homes on Capitol Hill. #whydon'twelivehere
2. Bouquets of fresh peonies, just ready to pop and bloom.
3. Cute little potted succulents. Why didn't I buy one? I still don't know.
4. Nothing says city-summer like worn brick, blue skies, and a snapping American flag.

5. Who cares if they cost a million dollars, I want one of these historic row homes!
6. The Eastern Market, essentially the world's coolest grocery store.
7. Which stand to visit first?
8. Fresh peaches that smelled and tasted as good as they look.

How was your weekend? Do anything or go anywhere special? 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

DIY Cutting-Board Lemon Scrub

Lately, I've been finding random uses for lemons. Aside from helping us quench our thirst and jazzing up our cooking, lemons are great for homemade cleaning tricks and products. And an object that I feel always needs a good scrub is my wooden cutting board. 

Do you own a wooden cutting board? I do, and I often find myself eyeballing it, wondering how best to clean it. Somehow, simply washing it with soap and water doesn't seem to do the trick. Even after attacking it with rag and suds, I just feel--in my bones--that the board isn't as clean as it should or could be. If you know me, you know I'm a wee bit obsessive about keeping things clean, tidy, and germ-free. (Note: this bamboo cutting board is my veggie-cutting board. I have a separate, plastic one for cutting meats.) 

Then, the other day, I was seized with a thought. My wood polish has lemon in I use lemon juice to clean my cutting board? A few Internet searches later, I came up with the method, below, for cleaning my cutting board. And I have to say, I was impressed with the results. 

What you'll need:
a cutting board in need of a scurb
baking soda
half a lemon

Sprinkle the salt and baking soda all over your cutting board.
Then, squeeze some of the juice from your lemon on top of that. It will sizzle and bubble. 
The first time I did this, I was a bit suspicious of the bubbling, but it was fine!

Still squeezing the lemon slightly, scrub the half-lemon over the salt and powder mix.
Then, let the juice and salt sit on the wood for about 5 minutes.

Using a knife or some other sharp-edged instrument, scrape off the reside
When done, wipe down with a damp cloth or sponge.

The cutting board not only smelled clean, it looked clean and smooth. I was pretty impressed with the end result! I'm definitely going to be re-using this method and wanted to share it with others!

Do you have any favorite DIY house-keeping tips or tricks? Have you ever tried out this method or one similar? Let me know in your comments! I'm always eager to learn something new to make life a little simpler! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lemon-Herb Infused Water

Confession: I love sugary, flavored drinks. I'll stand and testify that I'm Southern born and bred: I like cold Cokes and sweet iced tea. Sure, I know that they're basically syrup in a glass, that they're filling my tummy with unnecessary sweet and probably turning my innards to sludge. I love them. 

But alas, in the quest to lead a healthier life, sugary drinks must be barred from entry into the fridge.

Here's where the fruit-infuser makes it's appearance. Using this pitcher, I can trick my brain into thinking its receiving a sugary sweet drink, while in reality I'm just drinking water...fruity, herby, yummy water. Its healthy and tastes good, a truly rare and elusive combo. Fist pump.

Lemon-Mint Infused Water

I feel that these photos are self-explanatory, but if not...

What to do: 
Chop your lemons. Add the lemon slices and mint to your infuser pitcher. (If you don't have an infuser pitcher, you can just add the lemon and mint to the pitcher itself. They will flavor your water just the same.) Add chilled water and serve over ice! 

I'm so glad that I planted mint this year. Otherwise, I may not have thought to try this combination at home. Having the herb in my garden, I feel compelled to find recipes and uses for it. Although this recipe is ridiculously simple, it tastes amazing...a perfectly refreshing drink for summer time.

What are your favorite fruit-and-water combos?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Making Us Happy 6.10

Today I paused to count my blessings. 
Here's what I found: 

 Green forests and shaded paths that make running easier.

The garden's first herbs. Basil is always an over-achiever...gotta be first.

Pups that enjoy mid-morning snoozes any time of the day. 

Fresh coats of white paint that make a bigger impact than you expect.

The white canopies sheltering surprising talent at the Frederick Art Festival. 

Vivid pink blooms right by the front door.

Blue summer skies. 

Has summer vacation started for you yet? 
What are some of your favorite blessings? 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent

For the past year, I have made our laundry detergent. I have to say, I really enjoy doing so and have not had any "laundry weirdness" or mishaps as a result. Our clothes are clean. They smell fresh, and stains are successfully removed.  Making the detergent myself saves us a good bit of money every month on store-bought brands.Plus, the whole house smells fresh and citrus-y when I make it, an unexpected but appreciated bonus.

One of the reasons homemade detergent appeals to me is that it I'm responsible for making a product used often in my home. In our increasingly technological and at-your-fingertips world, we are so removed from the process of manufacturing/growing/raising the goods we use. Requiring myself to get the elbow grease out of the cabinet and make what I need gives me a sense of accomplishment. It's also the reason I enjoy having my own garden. I like to know that we are at least partly self-sufficient, that I can make what I need if I have to.

Making detergent is easier than you think. Here are the simple steps I follow. You can follow these or look up another recipe online. From what I can gather, the steps are pretty uniform recipe-to-recipe.

Homemade Laundry Detergent:

What you need:
Large box of baking soda
2 bars of Fels-Naptha soap
Large bowl or a 5 gallon bucket

What to do: 
1. Grate the Fels Naptha soap. Yes, it does look shockingly similar to cheddar cheese. Now that would be a shock! "Want some cheese on your burrito? Heh heh heh..." (That was my evil, diabolical life, by the way.)
2. Add the Borax, Oxyclean, and baking soda. Mix thoroughly.
3. Pour the mixture into your container.

Yep, it is really that easy.

I store my detergent in a glass container in our utility room and use  1-2 tablespoons when I wash, depending on the size of the load. In case you're wondering, I have a front-load washer, and the detergent still works fine. The last batch I made lasted 11 months. Let's see how long this one lasts!

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think.

Do you make any products or cleaners for your home?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Solo 10 Months

Things Solo likes:
1. Lying on his belly in the cool summer grass.
2. Catching afternoon snoozes with his daddy. Pop and pup.
3. Going on nose-tingling walks in Baker Park.
4. Giving through-the-fence kisses to neighborhood pups.
5. Sneaking onto the foot of the bed in the early morning.
6. Demolishing his black and green ball toy.

Happy 10 months to Solo! We're so glad to have this waggy-butt pibble in our life! His barks, tail-wags, and slobbery smiles really liven up our home.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...