Thursday, April 28, 2011

Playing the comparison game...

We all do it. We see a friend's gorgeous, artistic, wedding pictures and suddenly ours don't look as nice to us. We check out a friend's snazzy new blog, and suddenly feel rather self conscious about how basic ours is. We see a gorgeous painting a friend created and suddenly feel quite talentless. It goes on. This my friends, is the comparison game, and few who play it ever win. (And those that do "win" it consequently have a whole other problem with pride, but that's another post for another day.) It can leave us feeling self conscious, discouraged, or downright boring sometimes. So what's a gal (or guy) to do?
Well, there are a few options here.
Option 1: We can continue surfing the internet for hours looking at all the people, and blogs and art work out there that's better than ours, and feel down about it. We can think of everyone and everything more talented and lovely than us and feel fantastically crummy. And we can be a sad, dreary lump feeling bad about your bland, talentless selves.
Option 2: We can just pick those blogs and people and artwork apart so we feel better about ourselves. Find all the flaws, or make some up if we have to! Find a way to knock it down a peg or two so we don't feel quite so bad.
Hmmmm.....So far I'm not liking either of those options and I don't think God does either. How about....
Option 3: What if we roll up our sleeves and do something about it. We could step back and analyze our hearts. We could pray, and ask God to take away our self-pitying attitude if it's there. (Which is often a huge part of the problem! I am not saying 100% of the time this is the problem, but if you look deep enough how many times have you found yourself feeling sorry for yourself that in your eyes, you aren't more talented and/or downright fabulous? *raises hand* Guilty!) We could ask God to give us a true and sincere, unselfish appreciation for the wonderful, beautiful, things around us - including those pictures and blogs and artwork making us feel self conscious about ourselves! God is the maker and creator of all things glorious and beautiful. We are made in His image. Is it any wonder then, that His image bearers, as flawed as they are, are coming up with some awesome stuff? Step back, take a deep breath and just enjoy the fruits of others labors! How many hours did that person have to spend creating, and updating their blog? How much time and effort and paint went into the masterpiece on the wall? How much hours were spent learning and practicing so you could listen to flawless piano music? These things are gifts being freely bestowed on you! Go ahead! Rip off the wrapping paper like a 5 year old, sugar-buzzed little kid on their birthday, and enjoy! Don't let your joy be stolen away by turning it back on yourself and playing the comparison game. Remind yourself that God made us all different with different talents and gifts. I know, I know, easier said than done! I personally find I am having to constantly remind myself of this. In fact, I am amazed how often I have to stop myself from playing the comparison game. And it's not always easy. Some days it's just really hard. You find yourself saying "Well what have I got? What do I do that's so special?" Well, there's two things you can do.
First - find people who know you and love you, who will give you a straight answer and ask them. Ask them to be totally honest and tell you what they think your gifts are. What do you do that is a blessing to others? You will be quite surprised at what people tell you. Too often we are gifted in ways we don't realize. It's not until someone who sees us in a different way or perspective points it out, that we finally see it too! As long as you don't use this knowledge to "one up" others and feel better about yourself because you're now "better" than someone else - this can be a healthy, constructive thing! Try it!
Second - set about to grow in your current talent, or to learn something new! Now, I am NOT advocating desperately trying to "be as good as" everyone else out there. No. No. No. You will drive yourself (and those around you!) crazy and will feel crummy. No. What I am saying is, do you love that new, snazzy, blog of your friend's? Do you wish yours looked a little nicer? Well why not set about learning how to jazz yours up a bit for fun? Does a fellow blogger Mommy knock your socks off with all her home-made, hand sewn things? And maybe you've always thought it might be fun to sew? Well take some lessons then my friend! Does your sister's painting make you stop and stare in appreciation? Ask her to teach you! Again - the key here is not striving to be as good or better than these people. No. The key is turn your heart towards God and hone your current talents, or to try something new and creative to glorify Him! He delights to see His people creating and doing beautiful things. It testifies to His greatness and beauty when His image bearers make lovely things. So be an image bearer, and enjoy! Try something new, or pick up something you left off with. Remind yourself that God loves a cheerful heart much more than a catchy, stylish blog, or a gorgeous painting. (I'm not saying He doesn't like those things too, I'm just saying one is more important than the other!) If you have children old enough - learn something new together with them! Perhaps this could be a great opportunity to spend more time with your Mom or Grandma, learning something they learned from their Mom or Grandma. Call up a friend and see if they'd like to try something new with you and learn together. That way when the picture perfect cake you were trying to make just collapses in a hopeless heap of frosting and fluff, you have a friend there to take pictures and dissolve into fits of laughter with. When that painting ends up unintentionally looking like a kindergartner's version of a Picasso or a Van Gogh gone horribly wrong, you've got your sister to laugh along with you, (and yes, quite possibly tease you.) When you accidentally sew your finger into that cute little dress for your daughter, your Mom is there to administer first aid! (And keep you grounded in reality.) You could potentially be making some hilarious, priceless memories with your Grandma, your Mom, your friend, whoever! Memories that will last a life time.
So don't waste any more time playing the comparison game. Pray about it, get your heart right first. Ask God for wisdom and help. (And forgiveness for any bad attitudes!) And then call up your Mom, your sisters, your gal-pal, your Grandma, Aunt, or cousin and ask them. "How do you feel about pottery?", "Do you know how to knit?", "How badly would we hurt ourselves if we tried candle making?" And you might be surprised at how much fun you have along the way.

To God be the glory! Now go make something fabulous. Just don't hurt yourself in the process.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A silly paradox, and turkey

It's a silly paradox is. In the last two days I have managed to pull off what I would consider two *fabulous cooking accomplishments, so I have been feeling rather excellently home-makerish. And yet as I look around at the overly cluttered breakfast table (which we have never actually had breakfast at.) the heap of my daughter's laundry waiting to be folded in the living room, and listen to the crunch of a thousand crumbs being crushed into powder whenever I move the laptop on the dining room table, I am suddenly feeling quite un-excellently-home-makerish. See, it's a silly little paradox isn't it? (Wait is paradox even the correct word usage...? Hmm....) Well then I'll just tell you all about my *fabulous first time cooking a turkey and then go fold some laundry. Yes, that should do it.
*Editor's note - what is fabulous to the author is most likely quite normal to the average cook.

Adventures in Cooking, pt. 1 - The Bird

So, I was tucking away some groceries in the deep-freezer on Monday, when I spied the turkey I had bought last Thanksgiving. (You know, one of those crazy promotions Meijer does where if you buy the turkey and $25 worth of groceries you get around $15 off so you end up paying about $5 for an entire turkey...? Ah, but I digress.) Well I decided it was about high time I give this turkey thing a try. (Not to mention it would be sooo nice to have all the left over turkey to use in my future cooking!) So I hauled all 12 lbs of it upstairs and plunked it in the sink and filled it up with ice cold water. And there it sat...for several hours. I pretty much forgot about it until just before bed when I hauled it out of the sink and chucked it in the fridge, disappointed the plastic-wrapped iceberg didn't feel as if it had thawed at all. I ignored it all day Tuesday because the package said to let it thaw for a couple days in the fridge. Except of course when oozed pink liquid all over the bottom of my fridge. Gross. Perhaps trying to get my attention? After cleaning up the mess I resumed ignoring it. Fast forward to Wednesday. It was the big day. I woke up that morning and knew what I had to do. I had to do what I had watched my saint of a mother do for all those years. I had to unwrap it, rinse it out, and pull out all the disgusting neck pieces and other sundry items that the fine people at Jenny-O turkey mistakenly thought I would want to eat. After wrestling the beast out of it's plastic prison, I steeled myself and dove in. I grabbed on to something innards-looking thing and pulled. It wouldn't budge. Tug-tug. Squirm and do the girly-girl "eewww!" dance. Nope, it was frozen into the turkey. You have got to be kidding me. Que more girly-ness and "ewwwing". So I ran some cold water over it for a little while and was finally able to pry out what I discovered was a bent, frozen, neck. Next came the giblets, or heart, or whatever they were. Out they went and joined the neck in a plastic bag which was double knotted and quickly hurled into the trash can. More rinsing of the cavity, pulling out ice chunks, and having second thoughts. I decided to distract myself by making stuffing. Yes, it was the box kind, so yes, I cheated. But I was just proud of myself that I was going to be stuffing and roasting my first turkey. Ever. After one final rinse, I spooned all of my cheaters stuffing into the cavity of the great bird and plunked it in a freshly oiled and seasoned 9x13 pan. Before this I had texted my Mom for some advice on oiling (yes or no?) and seasoning the bird, but she was busy, so I just decided to wing it. (Who needs to check google when you have a gut instinct!) I then dumped and rubbed more oil all over the rest of the bird, and vigorously shook various spices all over the top. Finally, after fighting with rather uncooperative tin foil, I stuffed it into my preheated oven and set the timer. For 6 hours. Wowsa...I have never in my life had anything in an oven for that long. It felt quite strange to see 5:59 left on the timer, and knowing that it wasn't minutes and seconds. That finished I turned around to clean up the disaster zone of raw turkey juice, spices, and a rogue piece of innards I had somehow missed. Now, on with my day! I couldn't exactly hover near the oven, checking it every few seconds for six hours now could I? Fast forward to 5:00pm when the timer went off. By this time the house smelled absolutely glorious. The turkey had been carefully checked and basted a few times and was now joined by a few rogue sweet potatoes I found hiding in the cupboard along with a halved acorn squash. They were all tender, and done. I pulled the bird out of the oven, peeled back the tinfoil and beheld the delicious golden brown skin, the beautiful juices pooled in the bottom of the pan, the intoxicating steam (seriously, they could fight crime with that stuff. Just spray some fresh roasted turkey scent in the air and the criminals would forget would stop running and start looking for a turkey.) and I couldn't believe it. I didn't dare believe it until I cut into it and actually tried some of it. After eating a few bites I stepped back and gave myself a pat on the back, because I actually pulled it off. I roasted a turkey and it tasted good. So for dinner that night we feasted on oodles of turkey, drenched in those delicious aforementioned juices, doctored up sweet potatoes, and cheaters corn-bread stuffing. I had wanted to go all out and make a batch of mashed potatoes from scratch along with a green bean casserole but Dave (hubby) was afraid I would burn myself out. (He is a wise man who knows his wife quite well!) After dinner I picked every last salvageable, edible piece of meat off of it and filled up several containers. Ahhh...satisfaction. I then chucked all the leftovers (bones, etc.) into a big pot of water and boiled up some delicious stock to use for later cooking. (And being the greedy, Dutch, cheapie that I am, I did it a second time and got MORE stock for cooking.) After surveying all my handy work and feeling ridiculously proud of myself (music swelling in the back ground: "Youuuur sooo vain!") and feeling absolutely elated, just when things couldn't get better.... Dave decided to take us all out for "Waffle Cone Wednesday" at TCBY. That's right, we got to go for a walk in the lovely Spring weather, feast on ice cream, and then wander over to Baker Bookhouse and peruse the used book section. (Again, the Dutch-cheapie-ness. Why look at the new stuff when you can get the used books for so much cheaper?)
So all in all, it was a down right awesome day. Is it a super big deal that I roasted a turkey successfully? To me, after all the cooking endeavors I have botched, yes, this is big. To the average, or even accomplished cook? Nahhh! So to all you timid cooks out there - give it a shot! Because it really is incredibly easy, and a 9 year old could probably do it. Plus, you end up with some killer left overs.

Well to those of you still here who didn't fall asleep half way through this absurdly detailed narrative - thank you! You are too kind. And to those of you who gave up - that's ok. Wake up! and go to bed. But first, here, have some turkey. We have tons of it now.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Where has the time gone....?

So apparently it has been quite sometime since I last posted anything to this blog....but seems how I have zero followers and do most of my internet blathering on Facebook, I'm not really sure why I am bothering to write a post on a blog that no one reads. Ah, but here I am. It's quite something when I sit back and think about how drastically my life has changed since I last wrote on this blog. I have become a Mother. I carried, gave birth to, and now chase around a very active little girl who is over a year old! Everyone tells you life will never be the same after you have a child. They tell you to cherish every moment you have because it goes by so quick. They tell you that children are so much work but are so worth the investment. They tell you someday you will look back and these will be the best days of your life. And as I scrub blueberry stains out of little pants, and pick up all 25 napkin rings for the third time this morning, and survey the messy little kingdom that is my house, I agree with them. Life isn't and never will be the same, and the time is just flying by, and I know that these are the best days of my life. So I will do my best to revel in them, and enjoy them. Crushed Cheerios, tantrums, dirty diapers and all.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall is in the air...

So, this is my first blog-posting ever, so bear with me people... I was feeling a bit Fall-ish today and thought I'd revert back to my high school days and write a poem in honor of Fall. You are all welcome to laugh at my typos, mistakes and general cheesiness that I'm afraid will inevitably be a part of this rambling little sonnet.


Gray skies,
Pumpkin Pies,
Crisp Autumn air,
Leaves falling - everywhere!
Thanksgiving Day draws near,
Is it already this time of year?
Apples for baking,
Leaves for raking,
Time for maple syrup and candy?
Keep the napkins handy!
The harvesting has begun,
From rising to setting sun,
The cooking, baking and canning,
The get-togethers, the planning!
Drink in the sweetness of the air,
And of the time be ever aware,
For Fall shall quickly come and go,
Ushering in winter, ice and snow!

Ok, so that's all I have so far. I just wanted to give this blogging thing a try and if any of you have any pointers, helpful hints, critiques, etc. I'm all ears!