I’m researching how to get off the grid on my iPad

Simplicity is elusive, but oft sought by us humans, particularly the overworked, underpaid, overtired generations who rely on the technology of incredibly complex devices to do the simplifying for us. I go back and forth between a desire for and abjection of technology, craving life off the grid in the middle of nowhere, meanwhile blogging about it and managing it with online budgeting tools.

I’ve always had an affinity for old things. I love vintage appliances, Aqua Net, and Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. My tastes are at odds – I’m drawn to a time period that was intensely focused on convenience, but today feels like a simpler time in which kids went out to play, Mom cooked dinner, and astronauts did math by hand. Lately I’ve been wondering: if I was an adult in the 50’s, instead of the 10’s, would I be nostalgic for a “simpler time,” before cars, refrigeration, and lightbulbs? If I lived in the 1910s instead of the 2010s, would I tout indoor plumbing as an extravagant, unnecessary construct built by a generation seeking only to protect its own interests and indulge a desire for convenience? Continue reading

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Your life is probably more complicated than it has to be. Cut it out, already.

This post is not a self-help book, but an attempt at justifying life choices that have uncomplicated and improved the past few months compared to whatever I was doing before.

Think of this like an entry from Chicken Soup for the Burnt Out Soul. Continue reading

Call Me.

I’m having an internal debate about how technology might be hindering my social interactions. It’s probably hindering yours too.

I remember the first time I got a text: I was standing on Michigan Avenue looking down at my Nokia brick phone in wonderment. It seemed totally weird to type something that could take a fraction of the time to say over the phone. Fast forward about 15 years, and I’m talking to most of my friends through bitmoji’s… so, not, actually, saying anything at all. Continue reading

Paperless

There was a time when I balanced my checkbook, when I demanded paper statements, when I held 3 or 4 magazine subscriptions.

I love the feel of paper and the idea of paper. I love handwriting and stationary and print. I love reading a newspaper and getting ink on my hands.

But I think I’m over it.

I’m tiring of the stacks of mail and unread magazines on the dining room table. I’m seeking a less complicated space and a simple home that is free of the mess that paper compels me to make. About a year ago I went paperless on almost all of my bills, and many of them are enrolled in automatic deductions (something I vowed I would never do). Then, tonight, I thought I’d try and sort through the stack of magazines.

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It’s not so bad – I mean it’s only about a year’s worth. Every once in awhile I go through a purging. Carefully sifting through Food & Wine, I rip out pages of recipes I’d like to try, and they go into a slightly smaller pile tucked between cookbooks I seldom use. I put up a good front of domesticity and culinary prowess, but I’m also a workaholic who admittedly fed herself a dinner of Ritz crackers with peanut butter and beer tonight.

How’s that for full disclosure?

p.s. Want the old copies of Food & Wine? First in Chicago to say “dibs” wins.

Learning to Live With, and Eventually Love, my Tiny Kitchen

tumblr_mtwv2xKZ7W1qmywbko1_500It’s been nearly 18 months since I downsized from house to apartment. Downsizing can be difficult, and at first I felt like the biggest sacrifice was in the kitchen.  I love to cook (duh), and in the 12 years since dorm life I’ve accumulated, and accumulated, and accumulated some more. Each kitchen I’ve cooked in was bursting at the seams (literally… I’ve spilled over into dining rooms, coat closets, you name it).  So you can bet I was concerned when faced with the approximately 7 x 15 foot space that was to be my kitchen.  Where do I put the canning supplies? The stand mixer?!? The worms?!?!?

Apparently, I was being dramatic. 18 months later, what once felt crowded is now cozy, organized, and remarkably easy to keep clean.

As it turns out, I don’t need 2 blenders, 3 crockpots, a juicer, 2 coffee grinders, or 18 feet of counter space. As I moved in, settled in, and hunkered down in the apartment I realized that there were a lot of things I could part with – things that I hadn’t used in months to a year – things I sometimes didn’t want or need to begin with – things I would have rather done without anyway.

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As it turns out, all that stuff didn’t matter, and it didn’t make me a better cook. In evaluating what I wanted to keep, I discovered the things that were most precious to me, and most useful.

As it turns out, the food that comes out of my little kitchen tastes better, because this is a kitchen that only contains things that I love.

This is a kitchen that’s processed a hundred pounds of tomatoes (not all at the same time), pumpkin purees, and salsas galore. It’s frozen enough fresh vegetables to last for the winter, canned cranberry juice, and made pot after pot after pot of morning coffee. It’s churned out pies, frittatas, and an 18-pound turkey.  Everything has a place – even the worms

I can do anything in my kitchen you can do in yours – mine just takes less time to clean.

A Lovely Evening

tumblr_mscltxcwxV1rqh5gio1_500It’s taken me a long time to learn how to spend time by myself.

I guess I’m still learning, really.

After a year of working 60-80 hours a week, followed by a surprisingly hectic summer, followed by the hit to the face that comes with the first week of school, I was surprised to find myself with three days on my calendar that were actually…. blank.

Huh? What is this strange feeling of time off? The GF is traveling, which means football is off my radar, and I can’t figure out what people do with themselves when this phenomenon called days off occur for every 5 days.  Um, well, I guess I’ll, well, polish up seven weeks of upcoming lectures and watch an equivalent 7 hours of Law and Order: SVU on Hulu.

And that’s exactly what happened yesterday.

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wine, jazz, and freezing string beans

I wanted today to be different.  I wanted Sunday to be this productive day where I do this that I claim to be doing on my blog and Pinterest while I’m really sitting on the couch with Detective Tutuola.  After a somewhat thorough cleaning of the kitchen and laundry-doing earlier today, I put on some jazz music, opened the windows and a bottle of wine, and got a bit crafty. It’s about time I lived up to my name.

So, I repurposed my mother’s old kitchen curtains into a sassy new apron, baked a pan of chicken for my lunches this week, and froze most of the vegetables that arrived in my CSA this morning – while wearing the new apron (naturally).

I’m sure you find this all very interesting, but now as I sit at my desk, listening to the sounds of the city out the window and rumbles of thunder as a storm approaches, Ella Fitzgerald humming softly on the stereo, sipping my glass of wine, feeling accomplished, I couldn’t ask for a more perfect evening.  With all due respect, Detectives, you’ve been replaced (for now).

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A new apron, fashioned from Mother’s drapes.

Where did I go?!? The Past Two Months in Pictures

After Spring Break, $#^t got crazy.

Between school, Chicago Dance Month, putting on a show, and training for RFAC, I was so busy living my life that I didn’t have any time left to blog about it.  Now that the dust has settled a bit I’m back in action.

Phew

#wipesbrow

Thanks for your patience.

In an effort to get readers caught up with all my goings-on, here are some highlights from the past two months in Instagram form:

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Apparently, the steps to my PhD all fit on this handy little flow chart now hanging in my office #ifonlyitwerethateasy
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Summer makes me contemplative
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The mountain of fitness journals I graded
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Planting the garden at Vedgewater
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First commencement as full-time faculty… regalia is weird.
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Writing with Max
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First training ride with the Chicago Ride for AIDS