Monday, January 24, 2011

Brave Enough To Try

I am a wee bit addicted to style blogs. Fashion, home decorating, anything style related, I'm a sucker for it. And there are some good ones out there, trust me. So tonight, here I lay in my cozy bedroom, the milk cocoa walls playing with the light from my red mosiac glass lamps, listening to a little B&tB, and a little Moulin Rouge soundtrack, reading the style blogs. I. Am. Happy.

And then I stumbled across this amazing mural, on Coco+Kelly, one of my favie-faves, and all of a sudden I felt empty and unfulfilled, desiring, nay coveting this wall, (ok, gross exaggeration, but once you see it, you'll understand the depth of my longing).

In case you can't read the caption, it says "You'll never do a whole lot unless you're brave enough to try." Oohhhhh, the truth of that message. I want to be a woman of action, of purpose, of bravery and of daring. I want to be a woman who never let fear stop her from trying something new, doing something different and living with intention.

And just as much as I want that, I really, really, really want that mural in my living room! It is so picture perfect for me, and I really want it, I really, really do. It looks adorable in a bedroom yes, but my bedroom is a quiet little sanctuary of warm cocoa and red coziness, and that's just the kind of message I want near the front door to remind me to go greet the world with a smile, Mary Tyler Moore style, as I leave every morning. Does the fact that it's backdropped with my favorite color, navy blue, have something to do with it as well? I don't doubt the fact.

Anyways, tonight as I sing along (quietly, under my breath of course) to some Elephant Love Medley, picturing Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor shouting from the rooftops the merits of taking a chance and a risk on love, and as I think about all the things I want to do in my life, all the lives I want to make a difference in, all the places I want to see, and things I want to try (learning Italian, teaching High School English - heck maybe even combining the two and leading a trip to Verona, to see the home of one of the great literary classics Romeo & Juliet), I think to myself that nothing will ever get done unless I'm brave enough to try. I think I want to try my hand at painting a mural, even.... I just need to be brave enough to try.

Does This Help At All?

So I still haven't woken up. I still haven't had any coffee either though. There's one thing, no make that two things, no wait, make that four things that are kind of getting me through today, however, with a bit more of a smile than I would have without them:

#1 - Super Cute Monday work outfit, WITH jeans! I've decided screw this, I'm wearing jeans to work every day. Everyone else is doing it, so why can't I? Which reasoning NEVER worked with my mom growing up, but it's a good thing I'm an adult now and can eat ice cream for breakfast and pick my own clothes and do what I want. So, basically, my new work wardrobe is gonna be nice trouser jeans, button down tops, cardis and chunky heels, I can just tell. Today is no different. But it is wicked cute (wide leg, dark rinse Gap jeans, ruffle front red plaid button down from Banana Republic, basic grey cardi from the Limited, chunky red beaded necklace from Uganda, Vintage grey snakeskin T-straps from BR many a year ago, ivory chunky satchel with brass hardware from Target).

#2 - I've also taken to listening to my iPod at my desk, because well frankly, I find the silence around this place a little eery, and disturbing. And I work a LOT better with music. So right now it's Roma di Luna singing I Will by the Beatles, and before that it was a little Adele singing one of my all time favorite songs, To Make You Feel My Love (If I ever get married, I'm dancing with my husband to that song someday). Yep, Adele is awesome, and I wish I could grow up and be her - from the throaty, Bourbon soaked pleading in her songs to her vintage-glam sense of style, to her glossy auburn hair and flawless English rose complexion.

#3 - dinner with MA, my favorite used to be in youth group but has moved on to bigger things like college, kid. She is such a riot, and I love spending time with her and am always glad when we can get dinner together, trying new places and being culinary adventurers together. Tonight, we're using a Groupon someone gifted me (yay, free dinner) at the 508 Restaurant in downtown. I can't wait to get together and talk about all the neat, new things God is doing in our lives. Oh and boys. And school and work, but boys too.

#4 - speaking of boys ..... BLUSHIIING!!! I had a date this weekend, and now I've got a phone date tonight after dinner. That's all I'm saying. For now.

Well, today, this ugly semi-snowy Monday, that's all I got for ya. Hopefully, it's good enough to get through the rest of the day, cuz that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

The Mean Red Writing Blues

Sometimes writing comes easy for me, and I have more words than I'm able to get out of my mind and onto a page. Other times, I have ideas, but no way of voicing them, the words just won't come. Other times, at best, I'm a zombie, lifeless, looking to eat me some brains!

Lately I'm somewhere stuck between the latter two, when it comes to my new blog, Dancing Backwards Through The Halls. I'm leaning a little more towards having ideas, but not sure what to say about them. And I know that writing is sometimes a discipline, and sometimes an art, but when I get to these roadblocks, it's more discipline in the true being tied to my chair with a pen duct taped to my hand variety. I've got a bad case of the Monday morning mean reds.

In any case, I guess sometimes it's cathartic to at least get some ideas out there, into the great big cyberuniverse, and maybe by doing so, the words will come. Coffee might greatly aid in this process.

So for now, here's a quote I'm working with, that I got off a blog that I just love. It's inspired me to think more on how to communicate the idea of identity - that is to say, whether or not as young women we are living as Authentic, or as Airbrushed Christians.

"I have no patience with the untorn, anyone who hasn’t weathered rough weather, fallen apart, been ripped to pieces, put herself back together, big stitches, jagged cuts, nothing nice. Then something shines out. But these ones all shined up on the outside, the ass-wigglers, I’ll be honest, I don’t like them. Not at all. " - Andrea Dworkin

Let's face it, someone who dares to put it out there that fake people bother her, and uses the term ass-wiggler, to define them, is quite alright in my book and puts a slight smirk on the face of this undercaffeinated subversive. Right now, till I get some Starbucks in me, that is enough to propel me just a bit further.

And that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Monday, January 17, 2011


The Olive Garden was my very first job ever, in high school. I worked there for three years, and by the time I left I swore I never wanted to see another bowl of endless salad or basket of breadsticks ever again. Though they WERE sooooo good with Alfredo sauce, not even kidding!!!

In any case, during the course of my Italian McDonalds career, I grew to love three things at the Olive Garden - their Cappelini Primavera (no longer available, thank you very much!), their Pasta E' Fagioli soup and their Tiramisu. Two of those things were amongst the healthier options you could eat at TOG, but one of these things was not like the others. I'll let your amazing skills of deductive reasoning work it out.

Anyways, because it's January, and because everyone wants to get on the health bandwagon in January, I was brainstorming low-fat, veggie loaded dishes I could whip up for quick and easy dinners this month, and my mind turned back to the Pasta E' Fagioli soup, as well as to a soup that my friend W made last month, which was delicious. And because I've decided to cut back my meat intake to just once or twice a week, maximum and to up my veggie intake my triple I thought that with a few tweaks, this classic soup could be downright good for me, as well as delicious.

So tonight, while listening to a little Over The Rhine, I whipped it up, literally within 45 minutes, including chop time. And now, after having sat down to a big steaming bowl, I can say, in my personal opinion, this is some of the best tasting, best for you soup I've had in ages.

So here's my recipe, try it out and tell me if you agree. Just a side point too, this soup has a full serving of your daily allowance of lutein, which is more than most of us get in a week! So without further ado, my Kind of Italian, Kind of Whatever Version of Pasta E' Fagioli Soup

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. Jenny-O Hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 Red Bell Pepper, middle removed and chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, middle removed and chopped
1 medium can of Diced Tomatoes with Italian Seasonings/Roasted Garlic, whatever you find
1 small can of Tomato Sauce
1 cup dry red wine (optional)
1 large container Reduced Sodium Organic Free Range Chicken Broth from Trader Joes (or Veggie Broth if you prefer)
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning mix from Penzeys, or any Italian spice mix (or Oregano, Basil, Sage, Rosemary)
1 can Cannellini Beans, drained
1 can Kidney Beans, drained
2 medium zucchini, chopped into bite size pieces
1 large head of Kale, leaves chopped into bite size pieces
1 package cheese tortellini, from the fresh pasta section, already boiled and tossed with a little olive oil to prevent sticking
Pre-grated Reduced Fat Grated Italian Cheese blend, to taste

In a large stock pot, drizzle a little olive oil, about one tablespoon, and let it get warm enough that it moves fluidly along the bottom of the pan, when you tilt the pan. Add the carrots and celery, and saute for 3-4 minutes. Then add the shallots, garlic and onions and continue to saute till the onions turn translucent. Remove from pot, and set aside.

In the same pot, add the sausage, and break it up, as it cooks, just like you would ground beef. I use a Pampered Chef Mix & Chop which is such a handy tool - seriously, if you know a Pampered Chef crack pusher, you should totally get one!

Once the sausage is brown, return the vegetables back into the pot, and add the green and red bell peppers, and saute for 2-3 more minutes.

Now comes the fun part.... you can just start dumping everything else in there, UNTIL you get to the zucchini. Once you get to the zucchini, STOP!! Do not add that, the kale or the tortellini yet, they'll mush up and overcook if you do. Just let everything else come to a slow simmer, and cook like that for 20 minutes. Now you can throw in the kale, zucchini and tortellini (btw- with the tortellini, it's much better if you boil it ahead of time, but if you're crunched for time, or pots, you don't have to). Return to a slow simmer and let it cook for another ten minutes, and voila!! Top it off with some of that shredded cheese, and some crushed red pepper if you're feeling particularly adventurous, and you have an amazing soup, with a ton of vegetables, that is hearty, and tasty, and not really all that bad for you either.

So, from my faux Italian kitchen to yours, enjoy!!! And as they used to say at TOG years ago, Hospitaliano! (I'm pretty sure they made that word up and it's not even really part of authentic Italian vocabulary). Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That

So, it's been a while since I've had some rambling randomness here (or so I think), so I'm inclined to do a bit of that.

But first, I want to say that I'm pretty stoked to announce that I've started a new blog this week, aimed directly at young women, from junior high school to early career age, talking about issues that are relevant to their lives and hopefully offering a perspective that is godly and holy without being "in-the-box" Christianese about it. It's called Dancing Backwards Through The Halls. To quote it "The title came from the fact that as women, we are expected to dance backwards in high heels, a euphemism that refers to the fact that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Estaire ever did, but backwards and in high heels. Young women today are expected to do just that – to gracefully navigate the hallways of our schools and workplaces, heck of our lives, while dodging slushies and avoiding been thrown in trash cans and balancing in the highest of heels and expectations. More than anything I want you to know that you don’t dance alone, but rather you can rest your arms in the powerful hands of God, and just follow His lead."

I think that says it all.

I'm excited about writing it, and have a goal set for myself of writing there twice a week. I could use some feedback about topics that are relevant to young women today, because I'm sure there are many which differ from what I think they are. So please feel free to go leave me some comments there, and I will take them all into consideration.

In the meantime, over here at A Woman's Right To Shoes, I'm still the same old me, random and quirky and just using this forum as a way to think out loud as it were. Today, well, let's be honest, the first thing on my mind is how much I love the outfit I'm wearing!!! I think it looks really cute and I'm pretty satisfied with it. A cute outfit can change the entire perspective for a day, and boost my confidence, which in turn boosts my mood like no cup of joe ever could.

Let's take today's ensemble: On top you've got clean hair, always a plus. Complimented by my favorite Banana Republic oyster colored ruffle neck shell, underneath a grey BR cardigan (you can NEVER go wrong with a grey cardigan!) which is embellished with darker grey embroidered roses around the neckline. Pair that with a simple dark grey grosgrain pencil skirt (also BR), and a black rosette belt (The Limited) , grey leopard print tights (Tar-jay) and black high heeled oxfords (also Target) and I'm not even kidding, this is one cute outfit today.

Maybe I've been reading What I Wore too much though seriously, how can you not be addicted to Jessica's blog? She is sooo cute and totally my style inspiration. In addition to home decorating and DIY blogs, style blogs and lookbooks are my new end of 2010/beginning of 2011 obsession. And since I swore & stuck to a resolution of not buying any new clothing in December, I was forced to shop my closet all month long, and trust me, I have some great pieces in there, if I'd only get around to being more creative about using them.

I think I need a good girlfriend to just hang out with me in my bedroom, rocking out to some Gaga, sipping some Pinot Noir and helping me come up with some hot outfits. We could snap pictures and I could make my very own TRK lookbook, for those mornings when I wake up crabby and think "I have nothing to wear" (Oh, I know we've all been there, trust me!).

Even without the help though, I've been coming up with some super cute outfits lately, and wanting to post them all. Like my latest favorite jeans mashup that I wore to dinner last week - a light blue BR tunic (that I never wear because it looks positively maternity on), belted with my favorite hemp/cognac leather Anthro belt (which solved the whole maternity top problem), underneath a navy and white sailor striped flowy Anthro cardigan, with Gap skinny jeans my TJMaxx cognac colored riding boots and an amber colored beaded Anthro necklace. There was nothing new, just something new about the way it all came together.

Anyways, I don't mean to bore you readers with a day-by-day play-by-play of what I'm wearing. It's just that it's a nice feeling to shop my closet, and find some cute new things to wear in there, and frankly, like I said earlier, it makes me feel gooooood about myself. So there you have it, in all it's trite little glory!

Well, like I said, this post was definitely going to be "a little bit of this, a little bit of that", but before I bid you farewell, let me add this last little anecdote for your amusement.

We all know what a klutz I am - well today, I lived up to that stereotype and then some. Here at work, there are not many interesting, fun or lively people. I think I'm about it. But we do have one engineer who is pretty cute, and seems young and fun and I try to say hi to him whenever I can. But he sits on the opposite side of the building, so I never see him. Well this morning, as I was sitting at my cubicle, poking away at my work, I heard him talking to someone over near the fax machine. So, slyly, I picked up some papers and thought this would be a good time to go make some copies. I stood there, at the copy machine, quietly copying while he finished his conversation, and then when he was done I smiled and said "Hi K, how's it going?", to which he answered politely "Good, how about you?" and we started chatting, as we walked back towards my cubicle. Or I should say, he walked, and I, at that very moment, walked into a file cabinet. Face first. Just took it head on. With him standing right there. It scared me so badly, I jumped back a little bit, and he asked me, all sweet and concerned "Are you alright?"

Yeah, I'm alright. There's not much that can bruise this ego anymore, and well, face plants, that's something I'm used to. Thanks for asking though, have a nice day.

And that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Life Is What You Make Of It, Reprised

So, a few days ago I posted a little bit of reflection that I'd like to clarify was by no means self pitying whining, as much as just reflection, and what was on my mind as an observation at that time. I tend to do that sometimes, and definitely do it here - just say what I'm thinking. This blog is often more for my own cathartic thought processing as anything else.

But my post kind of got me to thinking, about, really, well, what's on my mind these days. I started thinking about what fills my mind, and what I choose to communicate to the outside world, sometimes sans filter, on a regular basis. Another factor that got me to thinking was the fact that someone I know started up a blog recently and within a few days she had 400 hits to it. Within days. I don't think I've had that many people read my blog in years! Her blog is called "Save His Girls", and it's a forum for her thoughts on the issues facing young Christian girls these days. It is written from the perspective of someone who grew up in the church, and is what I would call a very atypical contemporary Christian woman with a heart for God and His people. She is so sweet!

In some regards though, I can see our differences in this heart for His girls, not in the heart itself as much as the execution. Whereas my heart for ministry is definitely in working with young girls in the church, I would like to think that I take the approach of helping them think outside the box of contemporary Christian culture, and all that they hear in church and from well meaning family. In that sense, I would never want to be labeled as a "contemporary Christian". Yes, I want to encourage the young women I know, and love to realize that they have the power, through God's holy spirit, and the freedom bought by Christ, to seek the Father's heart as it truthfully relates to us human beings and is communicated to them in His word, as opposed to what they hear from both the world all around them (aka Christian culture) and the "World" all around them.

Girls these days don't just get conflicting messages, they get it from the most confusing of sources - from church, and family, whose overprotective and conservative views on one end of the spectrum can be just as harmful as the overly liberal, hedonistic and self-centered messages they get from pop culture and media on the other end. And not only that, I really don't think that there are enough Christian women who realize that the messages purported by Christian culture are equally harmful to these young souls, as there should be, and could be. I am blessed to be surrounded by an amazing group of friends in my generation, who not only love God but are walking with Him in authentic and seeking relationships every day. There are a few of my friends I would be proud for any teenage daughter of my own to look up to, like my friends W or L. Or H, who I miss as a female co-sponsor, and whose life exemplifies all that these girls need to hear about living for God, not for husbands or children or boyfriends or images of what it means to be a good Christian girl. These are women who, whether intentionally or not, have managed to shrug off the image of, well lameness and sameness, that surrounds contemporary Christian culture and yet have managed to still have thriving, fruitful and deep relationships with God, and that can teach a whole lot more than any Point Of Grace album notes ever could.

In any case, I digress. As I was reading a friend's email last night, where he was talking about our jobs and how they are what we're doing in our life, but are they what we're supposed to be doing WITH our life, I began to reflect on the call to ministry God has put on my life. His words convicted me to look at both how I spend my time, and what I feel God has called me to do, and to really examine if I'm living out the mandate that God has impressed upon my heart, or if I'm just self-centerdly floating and coasting day by day. I'm thankful that a friend who doesn't often share, chose to last night, because in that instance it was both inspiring and convicting and it really got me to praying and thinking. I think that's called iron sharpening iron, but y'know. Anyways, one thing that came to mind was a realization that how I use this forum for communication (the blog) is one way I could be serving God more. And I realized that more often than not, blogging, for me, is just what I called it earlier, a cathartic means of self expression and self discovery through verbal processing. I'm a writer at heart, and writing things down helps me to think things through. Yet I hate journaling, so go figure. Having a blog has been one means of working through my own issues, sorting through my own feelings and facts and processing what is going on in my own life, more so than a communique or manifesto to the outside world or a tool for touching and impacting other lives.

Yet I asked myself last night, what would it look like if I followed in the steps of "Save His Girls"s author, and used it to post on issues relevant to young women, and from a perspective that thinks outside what they're getting all the time. Instead of self-reflecting rambling,
what about actually showing some purpose in what I write? What would that look like, if I chose to be so disciplined as to stick to it (something I really struggle with)?

There are so many things I want the young women in my life to know, and that I wish I had the words to communicate to them - things like life is more than worrying about the modesty of your Sunday school outfit, it's about making sure you're at Sunday School because you desire to learn from God rather than want to appease your parents. Life isn't about "Don't drink, don't chew and don't go with boys who do". It's about seeing Christ in every life around us, and honoring that dignity while encouraging holiness in those we are closest to. Life isn't as sheltered as you've been raised to believe, and the sooner you can see the world for all it's broken fragility and vulnerability, the sooner you'll gain a heart to venture deep into it, into the scary unknowns, and affect some change. If I had one wish for the young women in my life, it's that they would live with the courage to venture into places unknown, the skill to reach into lives untouched and the intimacy with God to do it from His heart and with His strength. If I had one wish for them, it would be that even now they would stop hearing messages that encourage, whether consciously or not, the thought pattern that life is about who you're married to and how many kids you have and what Moms group you attend, but that life is about how you let God flow through your hands and feet and mouth, how you see the world through His eyes and how you fearlessly get out there and do something to make it more like His kingdom. Whether you're playing KTIS or wearing a long enough skirt while doing it aren't nearly as important as just doing it, and I want to tell them that.

So, not to rip off a friend or anything, but because this has been something I've wanted to do for over a year, and I've let laziness hinder me from doing it, I'm starting a new blog, an offshoot if you will, aimed specifically for young women, Christian or not, to address the issues and challenges and situations that they are facing every day, and not just the ones we perceive they might have to deal with. One that they can post questions or comments to anonymously, and one that authentically and truthfully examines what they're dealing with without judgement or preconceived notions of what a good Christian girl should look like, think like or act like. A safe haven for their thoughts and (hopefully) an inspiration for their future dreams. I haven't decided on a name yet, and am still hoping and praying for a blog makeover, for both this one and the new one. But I've given myself a deadline of getting it set up within the week, and will keep y'all posted here once it goes up. I'm open to suggestions immediately, both on name, topic, and anything else you think should be included in this mission, this venture if you will. I'm also asking for accountability from my more faithful readers, since as I mentioned, stick-to-itiveness is something I generally lack.

More than anything, I hope that as you read this, you think to lift up in prayer the young women in your life, and ask God not just to protect them, which I know He faithfully and lovingly does, but to inspire them to dream big, to live bigger and to live a life of worship and full fledged service to the biggest God we know. He deserves all that we have, and they deserve nothing less than our hearts, time, love and support. For me, this is my calling, and I pray that I can somehow live it out on a daily basis. And that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Life Is What You Make Of It

I should keep this brief, because I'm afraid if I don't, I'm gonna regret it.

I had an interesting talk with a friend today, and she continued to expound, after a similar chat last week, on all the reasons she loves being single. I wholeheartedly agree - being single is amazing! I love the freedom, the Independence, the lack of responsibility that comes in the shape of having to think of another person's needs and wants before my own. Sound selfish? It might be, and my friend and I agreed that oftentimes being single is the easy way out. Easy because it requires no change, no sacrifice, and for the most part it breeds a lack of qualities such as compromise and selflessness. The marriages that I've seen, while rewarding, seem like a lot of hard work, requiring a level of sacrifice and vulnerability and patience that I can't even imagine. I've heard the payout is amazing - a shared life, trust, unity, intimacy, having a partner to do life with, having children and so on and so forth. I'm pretty sure both situations have their pro's and con's, however, having a limited perspective, I definitely fall into the "Singleness Rules!!!" camp.

But as I was sitting here, reflecting on all the ways that being single is great, and all the things about it that I love, I realized that the only real thing about single that I don't appreciate is having to go to bed alone. It is never till I have to go hit the hay that my singleness ever stares me back in the face. It is then that I truly feel, and am, alone. I can fill up my day with people, and service, and a million other things that keep my time and attention occupied. But it isn't till I'm tucked in (by myself of course, since there's no one to tuck me in), and in the quiet stillness that comes before sleep that I ever wish I wasn't single. I'm not sure why, exactly, since I've slept alone my entire life. The solitude of an empty bed, of not having another face to say good night and good morning to, and the deep buried longing that it brings to the surface in me, is inexplicable.

Or is it? I mean, I know all the schtuff about how we, as people, were not created to be alone. We are relational beings, needed company and conversation and community. I get how that makes sense and do not try to deny that at times, I have thrown it in God's face as a pseudo-argument for my own discontentment. But I'm not discontent now, as a matter of fact, I'm hardly willing to part with my life as I know it, I like it so much. In talking with said friend, I mentioned to her that it would take one helluva man to make me want a relationship more than I want my quiet solitude and the peacefulness of my single life. (By the way, I feel like when I say things like that, I sound like a 65 year old man, living in a great big house alone with nothing but his jazz records and cardigans and gardening for company). So, what is it about this bewitched hour? This cerebrally unaccounted for period? This, this, BEDTIME???

I'm not sure, but I do know this, as I head off to sleep soon, after a lovely evening spent enjoying the three B's - Bronte (Charlotte), Beer and Buckley (Jeff, that is), I pray that sleep comes swift and heavy. I hope that there is no time between my head hitting the pillow and my consciousness shutting down, for me to think or dwell on, or even recognize this lacking element in my life. Because after all, life is what you make of it, and I have a pretty good life as far as things go and I don't plan on finding anything to regret about it. I may be sleeping alone, but as far as perspective goes, it's not the end of the world, or anything to get worked up about. As a matter of fact, in the big picture sleeping alone is not something I want to lose any sleep over. And that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.