Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Sunday, October 30, 2011

These Shoes Were Made for Keeping

Music: John Mellencamp, Words & Music

Since I've pared down my wardrobe (as well as all my other possessions), I can't tell you how much easier it is to get dressed every day. It's something I don't even have to think about. I always thought I needed a large selection of clothes but, surprise! I don't.

You won't believe how old my favorite pair of shoes is. Guess. Really. Okay, are  you ready? I bought them in 1993! Yes, that's right. Eighteen years ago!

And, while they are decidedly not vegan (gasp!), remember I bought these long before becoming vegan. And I refuse to throw or give them away because I still wear them almost every day, so they will continue to stay in my wardrobe until they wear out.

They are Birkenstocks, the Paris style which, I believe, they no longer make or, if they do, it comes and goes every few years. I love these shoes because:

1. They're comfortable. That to me is the most important criteria in a shoe now, especially since I'm 43, on my feet a lot, going up and down lots of stairs at the library. These also have arch support which helps keep my feet from becoming sore.

2. They're black which, considering the pared down wardrobe, is good. I only own black shoes now because they go with all of my clothes.

3. They can be cleaned easily and the rubber soles can be replaced when they wear down. That's the real reason these shoes have lasted so long. Whenever they get below 1/4" on the heels (where I usually wear out my shoes first), I take them to a shoe repair shop for re-soleing.

4. They're cute. I love the Mary Jane style of these shoes. I wear them with pants but also with skirts, with or without socks/tights, all year long.

5. While initially expensive (I think they were about $120 back in 1993), the fact that I have worn them for 18 years speaks volumes for their quality. They've walked all over, from Italy, to South Carolina, to Florida, to Michigan, and now Pennsylvania.

(This post was inspired by Francine Jay, author of the beautifully peaceful blog, Miss Minimalist.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Easy Raw Kale Salad

We recently discovered this recipe (I think it was from Jill Ovnik's newsletter but now I can't remember) for preparing kale quickly, easily, and deliciously. Greens are an excellent source of fiber and kale is rich in beta-carotene. When it's eaten raw, it's even more beneficial.

Raw kale with creamy macaroni

We have been making different types of kale (green, red, dinosaur) using this very simple recipe. Not only is it delicious the day of, we eat leftovers (if any) the next day with other raw vegetables we have on hand, such as cucumber, avocado, or tomato.

1. Take 1-2 pounds (any kind) of kale and rinse well. We immerse the leaves in a large bowl with a few changes of water to get all the dirt and sand out.

2. Cut/tear out the thick stems in the center of each leaf by hand or with kitchen scissors. Dry well with a dish towel.

3. On a large cutting board, cut the kale leaves into thin strips and place in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil (or oil of your choice, flaxseed or almond oil would also be good) and sprinkle real salt over the kale. With a spoon (it's easier with your clean hands) mix the salt and oil into the kale well. The kale will begin to soften slightly but still be green and perky. Add a little more olive oil and salt if needed. We also sometimes add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast for a little bit more of a nutrition boost (its texture/taste resembles parmesan cheese ever so slightly) while it does not overpower in taste.

4. Add any other raw veggies of your choice, if desired.

This is a nice change of pace than a lettuce salad and a great way to serve greens without cooking them and then having them cool too quickly for your meal.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Truth is Even Better Than Fiction

A little lakeside reading with
The Journal of Southern History

Note: Oh, boy. I see I will have to put myself on a type of schedule with my personal post as I have with my library blog posting. I'm still writing but, as you can see, mostly for work.

Everyone raves about fiction and most book groups focus on them (sob stories at that), but I have a soft spot for non-fiction, especially historical non-fiction.  Beginning with this library post for CLP, I highlight my favorites in themes. This post's theme is presidents. Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My latest CLP blog post

Music: Scott Joplin, Complete Rags

Fall in Michigan
Author's photo

I've been on a book list kick lately with the library blog; that is, writing about wonderful books I have enjoyed reading.

This is my latest post, appropriate for October and the cooler fall weather, "It's a Mystery..."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Year in Pittsburgh

View of downtown Pittsburgh from MountWashington
(Author's photo)

I still can't believe I have been in Pittsburgh for over a year. Since July 2010. I'm not quite sure that we knew what to expect. Well, I think I have some idea what I expected but I no longer see it that way. And I shouldn't have seen it that way. Let me explain.

Pittsburgh is a mere 5-5 1/2 hours from my old home in Michigan but it seems a lot further away since you have to travel through Ohio to get to Pennsylvania from Michigan; not to mention the fact that it's also another state altogether.

Chatham Village, Mount Washington, Pittsburgh
(Author's photo)

When I first got here, I tried to fill my life with all of my old habits and recreational activities that I enjoyed back home: playing my flute in a flute choir as well as a community band, getting quickly hired in at least a part-time librarian position, and living with the same furniture and possessions as in my old house. None of these things happened. What's more, it took me a lot longer to learn my way around the city than I originally thought without getting hopelessly (read: crying) lost. So when those things didn't go my way (flute choir practices on a weekday I can't make, the closest community band is a lot more advanced than I'm prepared for, it took me over 6 months to find a job, and most of our stuff has been donated because it just doesn't fit in our new tiny space), I felt pretty scared and then angry and impatient with myself for not handling it better.

Downtown Pittsburgh
(Author's photo)

But I'm always hard on myself. It's a huge fault that I'm really trying to correct the older I get. (I hope it doesn't take much longer because I'm already 43). I should have cut myself more slack because I have never lived in another state besides Michigan. It's hard. And it's probably harder the older you get. Maybe if I had done this twenty years ago...

But things are better now. I've got a full-time job at the top public library in the city, Jim's job is going well while he's also pursuing his MBA, we live in a gorgeous park-like cooperative right in the city of Pittsburgh, and we have a shared goal: to save as much money as possible to move back to Michigan someday. Yes, that's right. We already know we want to go back home even though we've been here only a year. And by living small here, we've realized we don't ever want a big living space again filled with needless stuff. Because I don't miss any of the stuff I've given away. (I lost an earring on a walk the other day, and I didn't care! I have lots of other earrings to wear).

Unfortunately, I no longer play my flute. What little time I have left in my day is spent writing, reading, walking, practicing yoga, cooking, and house chores. But I'm coming to terms with it. It was right for the time I had with my part-time job in Michigan but it no longer fits my life here.

Lake Erie, Presque Isle State Park, Erie, PA
(Author's photo)

When we go back home, we want to live very close to the Big Water so, even though we'll be moving back to Michigan, we won't be in the same area as family and friends. We'll be in the same state though!