More than a quarter of my lifetime ago (about seven years) Seth typed in ‘sharppointythings’ in an effort keep Gabrielle and me from becoming terminally indecisive about a URL address and it stuck, even through a blog server change.
A Road Less Traveled aka sharppointythings started with the label ‘a record of our non-college adventures’. After four or five years of ‘not being in college’ we removed the label in recognition that we were drifting down a less defined path of being cultural rebels. We wrote a lot about doing laundry, nieces and nephews, dirty dishes and being single. We wrote about figuring out life and being confused about life and really not wanting to be single. Sometimes we even wrote about giving up on ever getting married. We had our trajectory down pretty well.
Then, almost two years ago, Gabrielle and I split blogs. I kept A Road Less Traveled, and she became Patches of Sunlight. We joked about breaking up and who got to keep the blog, but really, it just felt the time was right. Sad not to be continuing our five year tradition of being completely interchangeable, even on the internet, but about time that we got to pick our own blog templates.
Perhaps we should have split blogs years earlier, because by the end of that same year, I got engaged and Gabrielle was seriously dating. As you might guess, and as long time readers will testify, I got distracted from posting and posted even less than previously during engagement and the first year or so of marriage. Happiness is distracting from serious writing projects.
Over the past couple of months I’ve been feeling the urge to get back to regular writing. (Yes, I’m still very happy, just slightly less distracted than at first.) I’ve been intending to write more blog posts, but every time I start I get distracted by the state of the blog. The categories don’t fit any more. The About page still says I’m single. The Frequently Asked Questions are still hanging around from when Gabrielle shared the blog. In short, A Road Less Traveled is a lumbering behemoth which has lived past its time.
I’ll be transferring some of the posts over to A Day In The Life of The Duct Tape Valkyrie, but A Road Less Traveled will no longer be updated, and as is the way of the internet, will eventually cease to be. A lot of good times were documented there. So were a lot of heartbreakingly difficult times, but ones that shaped who I am now. When you come down to it, it’s hard to say goodbye.
But without endings, how could there be beginnings?
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I just watched an episode of Iron Chef for the first time, and I am intrigued. My first reaction was, “I want to do that! I want to go on Iron Chef and have this pantry full of fancy ingredients to pull from and making amazingly creative food based on weird ingredients.”
And then I decided I do not want to be on Iron Chef. Do I know how to cook with exotic ingredients? Not really. Does my food look remotely that pretty plated up? No. Can I make an orange chiffon cake without looking up a recipe? Ha!
On the other hand, I know what competition I would love to see. I want the Iron Chef competitors in my kitchen going up against me. Take the leftovers from my fridge, giving priority to the older ones so nothing goes bad and has to be thrown out. Create a meal using only those leftovers and whatever happens to be in my pantry at the moment. (This may mostly consist of whatever’s been on sale in the past three weeks, but will always have a few weird options thrown in, like the canned beets I’m still convinced I’m going to use in something.) This meal should be relatively healthy (in a natural, high fat, low processed food sort of way) but primarily be something Colton will eat and like (NO cilantro!).
Bonus points if you use the leftovers in a creative, interesting way. Soup is acceptable, but not usually interesting.
Extra bonus points if the cost for the whole meal comes to significantly under $2 for two people.
Somehow, I have a feeling I could win this particular competition. I wonder if I can get the Food Network to sign on for this…
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‘A fascinating little book, Cottage Economy by William Cobbett of England…contains a vigorous sermon urging laboring-class people to take care of their baking at home for reasons of both economy and health. He states flatly that, “Every woman, high or low, ought to know how to make bread. If she do not, she is unworthy of trust and confidence, and, indeed, a mere burden upon the community! Yet, it is a sad thing that many women seem to know nothing about bread other than the part which belongs to its consumption.” Mr. Cobbett was a large landownder and, to put his beliefs into action, he always asked a prospective tenant if his wife could bake. If she could not, there was no chance of her husband being hired. Mr. Cobbett figured that not only would a baking wife be worth a pound or two more to the family in savings, but that the husband would be worth more to him for, being better nourished, he would be able to do more and better work.’
Breads and Coffee Cakes with Homemade Starters by Ada Lou Roberts
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Posted by Raquel in Raquel
About this time of year I usually write a post about the past year, and how it was good despite being hard, and maybe, just maybe the next year will be better. Well, 2011 was finally that year.
The end of 2010 seemed pretty good at the time, and I have fond memories of getting engaged. But as we went through Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Colton and I kept saying things like, “Wow, this is so much better than last year when we were just engaged.”
This is not the year I expected it to be. From what I’ve heard, the first year of marriage is supposed to be hard. And of course, that’s supposed to just be magnified by pregnanacy hormones and losing sleep to a baby who’s born precisely nine-and-a-half months after the wedding.
None of that happened. Yeah, there were days when it was hard to figure out exactly how all the previous relationships in my life were supposed to shift and adjust. There were days when I was an emotional mess, and days when we were both exhausted, and days that overall, failed to measure up to the complete and total awesomeness of other days. But it was a really good year.
I don’t understand why God is so good to us. I look around at my life, and I know I don’t deserve this. Suddenly I feel like I got the easy road, even though I seem to have memories of dark, agonizing days when I didn’t think I could handle the path in front of me for another minute, much less the years it seemed to stretch for.
And I remember prayers from days I didn’t really think God was listening. Impossible prayers that I’d prayed so many times, that surely, if they were ever going to be answered it would have happened already. Prayers for a man that I thought might not exist, that God would prepare us both, and make us fit together perfectly. And this crazy, hesitant, maybe selfish prayer, that all the years of waiting would prepare us so well that that hard first year of marriage I’d heard about, that maybe it could actually be… good.
I know it gets harder from here, but based on the last year, and what I’ve heard, somehow it gets even better at the same time. I’m really hoping those days of pregnancy hormones and nights of losing sleep to a baby come soon, but I seem to have learned just a little bit about waiting over the past few years, and somehow I’m beginning to absorb the idea that God really is good. All the time. Good days, bad days, crazy mixed up days…
It’s become quite clear that God really does have my life figured out better than I do. Whether I think He’s listening or not, whether the days are impossible or far too easy, whether we think we know where we’re going, or we’re just waiting for Him to surprise us…
And you know what? I bet this year is going to be better than last year.
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Somehow Christmas rather snuck up on me, despite the fact that I’ve been getting ready for it for over a month now. But, I mailed the few Christmas cards we’re sending (a full week and a day before Christmas–yay?), and it’s getting rather Christmasy around here…
(Yes, that is our special Christmas bottle of vitamins there under the candleholder. *cough, cough*)
On Friday I did some Christmas baking. I had already managed to make some eggless kifli dough (which came out beautifully) and introduced Colton to kiflis. He liked them. (Good thing too…)
So, Friday, I boiled a Christmas pudding, and made a freezer green bean casserole for Christmas day.
Oh, and made bread.
Apparently I’m about three weeks late making Christmas pudding, as properly it’s supposed to age for about a month before eating. Since neither Colton or I has had Christmas pudding before, we probably won’t notice the difference. Hopefully.
Then, Saturday, we finally got a Christmas tree. After a somewhat inauspicious beginning trying to find the right place to buy a real tree, we found our tree, and brought it home to decorate.
I got out my jewelry pliers and wire to make hangers for some of our misc ornaments, while Colton made a star for the top out of aluminum foil and cardboard.
We used colored lights from the thrift store, augmented with a short string of white lights we got for a wedding present. Our ornaments are a bit of an odd collection, but I’ve decided that’s the best kind of ornament collection. (Unfortunately, I don’t have any shotgun shell ornaments currently, but I can fix this by next Christmas.)
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About two weeks ago Whitney invited me to go on a spontaneous trip to the orchard. I had dinner in the crockpot already (I’m becoming a big fan of having dinner in the crockpot) and my afternoon was mostly free, besides which, I had big plans for making apple butter but no actual apples with which to make it. As you can see, a trip to the orchard was a smashingly marvelous idea.
I even found time to use up about a quarter of the apples that week.
Two weeks later, having survived a late reception for a wedding that took place in Canada this summer, helping with a wedding rehearsal dinner, helping Gabrielle look for wedding dresses, an actual wedding with accompanying cleanup, and various other bits of life (surprisingly unrelated to weddings…), I still had a peck and half of apples sitting in my kitchen.
Fortunately, I also still had an amazing borrowed gadget that peels, cores, and slices the apple, taking the processing time on a peck and a half of apples down to a couple of hours.
–after searching my kitchen for the recipe I used for my first batch of apple butter (really, there is no reasonable way it could have disappeared) I searched the internet instead. I found a recipe on A Year of Slowcooking (which, given my aforementioned attachment to my crockpot is becoming one of my favorite sites) and shortly had a crockpot of apple butter simmering.
–I took the peels and cores from those apples and started them simmering to make apple jelly from.
–I tracked down Colton’s grandmother’s recipe for Dutch Apple Pie, with his mother’s variations, and made it, rolling out the crust with a rolling pin that used to belong to my great grandmother. It was a very satisfying experience, and made me wonder why I haven’t made pie in so very long. Side Note: I used to make pie a lot when I was a teenager, and my pie crust always turned out perfectly. After I moved to Illinois I started having trouble with my pie crust. Different ingredients? Less time practicing? I’m not really sure, though I have a budding hypothesis about certain pie crust recipes working better in certain regions based on ambient humidity and other atmospheric conditions. Either way, Colton’s grandmother’s recipe for pie crust turned out beautifully so I’m sticking with it from now on.
Now the apartment smells like apples, and I have most of the afternoon left to try a new adventure: canning. Somehow I have not yet done any canning in my adult life, but if I’m going to make apple jelly and apple butter, some of it must be canned. So, forward and into the breach… or just fill in your own canning related quote here….
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Remember almost two months ago, when I started posting again? How I started this series that was oh, so promising for regular posting? I posted about my daily events for all of two days, and then dropped off the face of the blogosphere.
Well, I have a really good (okay, a pretty good) excuse. I spent the next three or four weeks after my last post coughing. Yeah, that pretty much took up all my time, and yes, it was as frustrating as it sounds. Eventually Colton took me to the doctor, despite my insistence that I really was (sort of) starting to feel better, and ten days of antibiotics actually cleared up the cough. Just in time for Colton to come down with it, right before our scheduled trip to visit my parents.
Suffice it to say that between being sick, traveling, catching up on cleaning (and dishes–ugh ) after being sick, working on unpacking that I didn’t get to while I was sick, and lots of general life happening, I haven’t had a lot of time to post here.
But now, with a shiny new schedule (that either saves me lots of time, or takes up lots of time–sometimes I’m not sure which) I have grand intentions of posting once again. Maybe Monday I’ll start telling you all about my shiny new schedule. I bet you can’t wait to hear all about my new feather duster and microfiber cleaning rags.
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More than most of you ever wanted to know about my weekly routine.
Theoretically, Friday is Craft Project Day, but it usually ends up being a catch-all, either for laundry that didn’t get done earlier in the week for some reason, or for some big project that really needs attention (I always seem to have one, whether it’s thank you notes or unpacking boxes), or occasionally just crashing because the rest of the week was exhausting.
Today, I had one main goal: figure out what food we need to use up before it goes bad. Trying to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables lends itself to problems with this, and with the recent move, I’d rather let this get away from me. (Despite efforts to avoid accumulating new vegetables during that time, because I knew this would happen!)
First, I gave the fridge a little pep talk. “You can do this,” I told it, “I know it’s a lot of food, but if we just rearrange it a little, you really can hold all if it without losing anything!”
It spit out a cabbage at me and said nothing.
Then I proceeded to throw away the vegetables that I’d had every intention of using days ago before they went bad… Oops. Surveying what was left, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to make a list of all the food I had to use promptly; I needed to research recipes some of it, so as to use it creatively in large quantity; I needed to make a meal plan for the next several days based on these recipes so as to use all the perishable food in an orderly and useful fashion.
I looked at the apples that I’d assumed had already gone bad before I got to them. They looked at me. I made apple fritters.
Before I continue, you should understand: my husband laughs at me when I claim that I actually followed a recipe. Actually, he just looks amused, and looks at me, and waits.
“No, I really did this time,” I insist.
“Well, I added more garlic, but that doesn’t really count. And substituting dried beans I cooked for canned beans doesn’t count either. Though… I did also add sausage and used a different form of mustard than it called for and used tomato paste and vegetable broth instead of tomato sauce. But I *practically* followed the whole thing!”
See, I didn’t buy white flour yesterday. I waited until Save A Lot to buy it, forgetting that they only carry bleached flour, and couldn’t bring myself to buy that.
So, I ground up some whole wheat flour. Having made really good whole wheat doughnuts before, I figured this would work just fine for apple fritters. And, needing a substitute for eggs, I thought this was the perfect time to use applesauce, as it would just increase the appliness. And I used turbinado sugar instead of white sugar, because I’m on a turbinado sugar kick. And, of course, I fried them in lard instead of canola oil, because, well, lard! (But really, I *practically* followed the recipe.)
The resultant apple fritters ranked high on taste but very low on comboblulation. Still, I will definitely make this version again any time that I need a pile of extremely yummy apple fritter crumbs.
So, overall today: I used up a gallon of extra milk by making cheese, leaving me with most of a gallon of whey to use up…I used up a few odds and ends of vegetables in the supper that I threw together in a hurry after making apple fritters…I threw away a few spoiled vegetables…and I very definitively rescued two nearly demised apples.
Yeah, I’m going to call that a win whether my to-do list agrees with me or not.
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More than most of you ever wanted to know about my weekly routine.
I have a love/hate relationship with grocery shopping day. I get a high off coupons. No, really. Clearance racks, coupons, and intricate combinations of sales, coupon codes and rebates online all make me really happy. On the other hand being out all day driving around and being around people is not so much fun.
Today was not quite a normal grocery shopping day, because I was picking up Moriah for drivers ed class in the morning. So I skipped my normal morning routine, drove Colton in to work a few minutes early, picked up Moriah, dropped her off, and heading to my less favorite Kroger (fewer manager’s specials, and the people are just not quite as helpful) because it is convenient located across from HyVee (which after several weeks of completely uninspiring sales, finally lured me back in).
I had slightly less than two hours to shop two stores–completely doable, but faster than my usual pace when I’m browsing for clearance. “Must remember to shop from the list!”
I think people who are asking where the bathroom is should automatically be granted some leeway about normal social rules. Not that this should excuse rudeness, but should definitely excuse abruptness of manner.
For once this Kroger does have produce clearance. I restrain myself because other people’s gardens are overflowing to our benefit, but the spinach is irresistible.
The large package size on the pork ribs makes my coupon not quite so amazing, but getting any meat for just over a dollar a pound is still a major score.
I stay on schedule, and mostly (sort of) stick to my list. (After all, tortilla chips *would* have been on my list if I’d noticed them in the ad.)
According to the receipt I have a savings of 48%, but this counts Kroger card savings, which is the amount I save when they drop the hiked up price down to normal for their Kroger Plus customers. Anyone can do this, so this does not count toward awesomeness points.
HyVee goes even faster because I already know that they have nothing worth look at unless it was in the ad. (Okay, only kind of true, I did run across quinoa flakes on clearance, which were intriguing enough to make me buy a dollar’s worth.)
I continue in my recent trend of getting a ridiculous amount of free pens by combining coupons with back to school sales. The cashier confuses me by asking if I’m getting ready for school. How young do I look? Or am I supposed to have school age children I’m buying for?…. How old do I look?
I’m so far ahead of schedule I sneak back in to get another of ‘limit one’ cheap butter and ground beef. If I use a different checkout lane, no one will ever know!
*cue secret agent music*
I’m still ahead of schedule so I stop at GFS to buy basil, oregano and parsley, as apparently these are the only spices I use enough to have to buy more than every five years or so. Now I might have a five year supply of those too…
I pick up Moriah, take her home, visit for a few minutes, go have lunch with my husband and stay for the chiropracter before heading off to Save A Lot. Hitting three stores in the morning makes for a much shorter afternoon. (Yay!)
Am I incorrect in assuming the cashier will judge me based on my alcohol purchases? The $5 bottle of red wine, for instance, might make a favorable impression along the lines of ‘sweet young couple who can’t really afford a romantic dinner, but tries anyway’. Though, combined with the three pound bucket of lard I’m buying, it might just say redneck. I have no idea how the thirteen pounds of fruit in my order affects this impression.
And I’m pretty sure that no matter what the combination of other foods, the $8 bottle of vodka would say something else entirely.
And then I’m home in time to write a blog post and wash dishes before I have to go pick up Colton from work! It’s kind of weird to not be exhausted at the end of grocery shopping day. Why do I make it so difficult for my husband to talk me into shopping at fewer stores? Oh yeah, I’m addicted to coupons…
This ‘not exhausted’ feeling is kind of nice though. Apparently I should listen to my husband.
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This is the kind of day that lets me know that yes, I am still alive, and am, in fact, still myself, not some completely different person with implanted memories of a distant previous life. Who else would drop an oven mitt on an electric burner that was still on and not notice for several minutes?
(Previous question null and void if you happen to be related to me…)
Baking day, when it’s going well at least, tends to make me feel very productive. I spend one afternoon cooking food that will probably last for the rest of the week. It’s usually very homey food like breads and muffins and brownies, too. If you gloss over the fact that I never remember to wear an apron, and leave the kitchen a complete wreck while being to tired to clean it up, it sounds very idyllic.
This afternoon began on similar lines. Having recently discovered that I have an egg allergy (side note: For those who care, it’s not a deathly allergic type thing, but is probably the cause of some of the tiredness issued I’d been having) put a bit of a crimp in my plans, but also meant new and exciting experiments with flaxseed as an egg substitute.
By the middle of the afternoon I had homemade chocolate syrup in the fridge, whole wheat no-work bread rising on top of the fridge to bake tomorrow, mini-crustless quiches cooling on the table (yes, these have eggs, but Colton still needs protein for breakfast, and I’m still working on substitute ideas), banana bread in the oven, and an egg free version of almond milk honey ice cream mixture thickening on the stove.
At least, it was supposed to be thickening. Really, it was just threatening to boil over and forcing me to pull it of the burner and put it back over and over. Somewhere in this cycle I realized that the timer hadn’t yet gone off for the banana bread, and went to investigate. The banana bread looked done, so why hadn’t the timer gone off? This led to the discovery that I hadn’t actually started the timer (oops).
At this point I became slightly distracted by an interesting twitter conversation… Mere moments later, I look up to see smoke billowing from my oven mitts which I’d dropped on top of the burner recently vacated by my non-thickening ice cream mixture. Very smelly smoke. If you were wondering why the smoke detector hadn’t gone off–it did then.
I grabbed my oven mitts, dropped them outside my front door (this being the closest exit by which to remove my still smoking oven mitts from the apartment), opened the balcony door, retrieved the banana bread from the oven using secondary oven mitts and then decided this would be a grand time to sit in a tiny shady corner of our tiny balcony and stay out of the smelly, smoky apartment.
After sufficient time to give someone a grand story of apartment living (“And one afternoon, there were these smoking oven mitts outside our neighbors front door… Yeah, I was so glad when we moved–they were weird.”) I braved the smoke long enough to turn on fans and reclaim the no longer smoking oven mitts. Upon retrieval, one oven mitt was still perfectly fine, but the other, alas, was quite crispy in the middle and beyond hope.
So, here I am, still very much myself in this odd, new, non-emo world I find myself in. Both the banana bread and the ice cream seem to have survived their adventures. And I, amused and contemplative over my recently deceased oven mitt, chuck it in the garbage.
(Okay, I admit it, I don’t chuck it in the garbage yet. I have to save it to show Colton how *very* dead it is. Why I have to do this I don’t know, but I really do.)
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