The Random Writings of Rachel: November 2012

The Easiest Way to Wrap Presents

Okay, maybe I lied. I'm pretty sure the easiest way to wrap presents is either to have them gift-wrapped at the store or to buy a gift bag and drop them in a gift bag. But both of those typically require more financial expenditure than a large roll of gift wrap and some tape. So this is easiest way to wrap presents cheaply.


No, I'm not going off on a tangent and showing you how, through clever use of coupons, I was able to get all of this for $0.05!! Because I've never in my life seen a coupon for Gourmantra meal kits but if I did, I would snatch it up right away because they are awesome except for the fact that they cost $4.99 a box!

Anyways, these boxes are my secret for wrapping Christmas presents. Near the holidays, I start saving all empty boxes--cereal boxes, Bisquick boxes, macaroni and cheese boxes. And then I put whatever presents I'm giving away in these boxes before I wrap them. This accomplishes three very important purposes:

1. Square or rectangular shapes are the easiest shapes to wrap and have them turn out looking nice, however, not all presents are square or rectangular. Add an empty box from your cupboard, and you've suddenly turned whatever you just bought into the appropriate present-wrapping shape.

2. The shape of the boxes helps disguise the actual identity of the present from clever gift-receivers who like to peek at their presents and analyze what they might be. This is especially important in our family! I mean, come on--everyone knows the tell-tale shape of a cd or dvd case! And if the present is soft and squishy, that gives you a hint that it might be a sweater! But make the present in the shape of a cereal box, and there's no telling what might be inside!

3. These boxes cause momentary confusion on the part of the person opening them if they don't already know that you are in the habit of wrapping presents this way. "Oh, thank you, Rachel, I always wanted.....Bisquick??" And then they are happily surprised by the more appropriate contents of the box.

 This method in action. Note the store-brand Wheat Chex box. 

So there you have it. That's my strategy. And yes, I know there is such a thing as buying cardboard boxes specifically made for gift wrapping, and that's probably the classier way to go. But this is more environmentally friendly, if that makes you feel better about being thrifty. 

Bloggers for Christmas

Beauty School Problems

Going to beauty school has made me into a rebel. My classmates were horrified on eyebrow waxing day when I said I'd never had my eyebrows waxed. And then they all promptly volunteered to wax my eyebrows, which plan I squashed instantly. My idea is--the rules of polite society make us remove so much hair from our bodies already...and I'm a brunette, so trust me, it's a lot...that I absolutely refuse to bow to the whims of fashion and mess around with my beautiful eyebrows. I just don't think adding one more hair removal process to my life is necessary. Besides, they say waxing doesn't hurt, but we had to practice waxing eyebrows by drawing eyebrow shapes on our arms and waxing them...and it hurts. I don't like it.

Furthermore, I've never been anti-makeup. My Mom has always said, "If the barn needs painting, paint it!". But I think what goes along with that is...if it doesn't need painting, don't paint it! It makes me sad to see 18 year old girls who are so attached to their foundation and their mascara that they feel they can't go out in public without it and that they refuse to get free facials at school unless they brought their whole face of makeup with them so that they can redo their makeup before leaving school.

 No lipstick, no eyeliner, slightly tamed curls--what's so bad about the natural look?

Like I said, I'm not anti-makeup. I really enjoy wearing bright lipstick, blue or purple liquid or glitter eyeliner is always fun, and when I'm taking pictures or just having a bad day with my face, you can bet I'll be wearing a little foundation to cover up some spots on my face! But I don't wear makeup every day, and I never want to feel like I have to wear makeup in order to leave the house, or feel like it's shameful to be in public with no makeup. I honestly believe that the best way to have beautiful, healthy, younger-looking skin is to put some mineral sunscreen on and leave it alone, rather than covering it up with lots of layers of colorful stuff every day.

I'm pretty sure I've worn less makeup on a regular basis since I started beauty school than I have in years. Just because now, for the first time, I'm seeing what a big part it can play in young girls' lives, and I feel like I want to be the kind of person who says it's okay--in spite of fashion and in spite of peer pressure--to go out without your mascara on. I honestly think that in your teens and 20s, wearing makeup ages you. I think I look younger when I don't wear makeup. Of course, when I want to look sophisticated and 'legal'--makeup is a good tool to use.

This has been a long post, I know, but I just had to say it. I don't look like a 'monster' without my makeup or my styling tools or when I've gone 21 years without an eyebrow wax....and neither do you!!

What do you guys think? Is my lack of appreciation for the tortures of modern beautifying procedures going to make me a bad cosmetologist?

Angel Style

I think it's pretty well known around here that I have my own preferences when it comes to clothes. Such preferences include cowboy boots and brightly-colored skinny jeans....and, generally, brighly-colored and/or sparkly anything. But I'm not the only one who wears clothes in this house. Did I forget to mention that Angel gets dressed too??

What is your husband's style?
Like me, Angel also has a pretty strict dress code at work--his dress code consists of navy blue scrubs. So he wears those about half of the days of the week. Having  a dress code doesn't make him feel nearly as oppressed as my school dress code makes me feel, though. 

 Angel hardly ever buys clothes for himself, but when he does, he has specific brands he likes. I think if he had unlimited clothes money, he would buy lots of clothes from Express. Like me, Angel hasn't grown much since middle school, so he's amassed a collection of clothes that still fit him after years and years.


More so than clothes, Angel is interested in shoes. The two of us will happily explore every shoe store in the mall together. I have always picked my shoes based on how pretty or unusual the design is...but Angel cares more about comfort. He can be pretty picky about the style, though. He bought me some Chacos last summer...I still think they are not very attractive...but I have to say, I agree with him that they're fairly indestructible!
What is your LEAST favorite piece(s) of his wardrobe? 
This is an easy one!! I wonder how many wives have an instant answer for this question?
For me: running shorts. I can't stand them. If I had my way, Angel would wear jeans or dress pants all the time. But he doesn't like feeling hot. So he wears either running shorts or basketball shorts all the time at home. I prefer the basketball shorts because they're longer...the only thing I want to do when I see any guy wearing short running shorts is to start giggling. I just think they look silly. I don't think short shorts are flattering on anybody...but especially not men.


Yes, I am a mean wife, and no, he won't be surprised that I don't like his running shorts. But I do believe in letting people wear what they love to wear, so I'm pretty sure those shorts won't be disappearing anytime soon.

What would you love for your man to wear? 

This, every day. Why didn't I live in the days when men wore three piece suits to the office and to church and, seemingly, all the time?

How to Write a Sponsor Call Post

Once upon a time, I googled "How to write a good sponsor call post" and nothing came up. Actually, approximately 92,600,000 results came up, but after intense research, none of them looked promising. So I decided that I'd write my own do's and don't's:


Do's:

  • Do include random pictures where you look especially cute/seductive in order to flirt people into sponsoring  your blog. 
  • Do offer realistic prices for the service that you're offering. My price is currently $7 for a one month, 200x300 ad that includes me reading your blog and directing my readers towards posts of yours that I like.  
  • Do offer something different than what everyone else offers, if you want to stand out from the crowd. For example, I don't invite my sponsors to guest post on my blog, but I do actually read my sponsor's blogs and write about them. If they are paying me, why should I make them do all the work?
  • Do make your reader laugh--and if possible, make the post interesting enough that even people who don't want to sponsor you want to read the post.
Dont's:

  • Don't threaten not to blog anymore unless people start sponsoring. The most likely response will be "Fine. See if we care!"
  •  Don't offer more than you are prepared to give. I cannot guarantee a certain number of readers or clicks if you advertise with me, but I can guarantee one good one (me!)--plus the use of my genius writing skills to promote yours.
  • Don't ask for sponsors every day for the last week of each month. This strategy may make a greater number of people aware that you accept sponsors...but it's just going to annoy even more of your regular readers.
  • Don't start out your monthly sponsor call with, "I started *insert name of blog* just a few short months ago at the suggestion of a friend, and it's already grown beyond my wildest dreams." If you really, really want to, I guess you can. But I wouldn't recommend it. To the rest of us, it sounds cliche and somewhat unbelievable. I've never once had a friend tell me to start a blog, though I've had quite a few friends ask me, "What's a blog?"


And here's your seductive picture. Now you may all go to my sponsor page to buy an ad through Passionfruit. That is, if I was convincing enough.

A Mysterious Package





A few weeks ago, I came home from school to a large package sitting outside the door--the return address a mysterious one. It was addressed to me, not to Angel, which made me feel sure I could open it (I would open Angel's mail, only it's close to Christmas so I'm a little wary of accidentally coming across Christmas presents). I opened the package, and it quickly became apparent that, mysterious return address aside, the package was from my parents!!

That was quite the event, because they never send us packages! Not everything in the package was for Angel and I, in order to have more efficient shipping, they'd sent presents for my brother and sister and other relatives for us to distribute. But what they sent me...oh, it was perfect!! I put this dress on, and the first  word I said was "Amazing!!!" My mom has largely refused to shop for me for years, claiming that I'm too picky, but in reality, she knows my style. This dress could hardly get any more Rachel-ish--from the variety of colors to the fact that it sparkles and has zippers across the front, purely for decoration!

So, of course I promptly wore it to the family Thanksgiving dinner. Upon looking at my outfit, I lean towards the opinion that it looks slightly more like an outfit that you might wear clubbing than a fall holiday outfit, but I don't know. I've never been clubbing, and have no desire to go. I wanted to wear this outfit, though, so Thanksgiving Day it had to be.

And guess what else Mom and Dad sent in the package:


Thank you Mom and Dad for your lovely gifts. And the very subtle hint.

Christmas Countdown!

This is Angel's and my December tradition, so far. Can you really have traditions after just two Christmases together?

 Do you know how hard it is to take a good picture of the side of the wall??

Last year I made a Christmas countdown by sticking pieces of paper on the wall with secret treats or activities to enjoy that day for every day until Christmas. Of course, I knew all of the surprises that were coming, but I kept them secret from Angel so that he never knew what was coming on each day. I can't tell you what I planned specifically for this year, but I'll tell you what I did to make this countdown in December 2011.

Of course, you can make this countdown look as fancy or as simple as you want. I chose to go with simple, as far as looks, and put more effort into planning the surprises for each day. I looked at Angel's and my work and school schedules for the month, and planned our activities according to expected time and energy level. If he was working all day and I had a final exam, the note for the day would say "Surprise dessert!" and I'd get out a bag of peanut M&Ms I'd bought the month before and hidden away. On a day that we didn't have anything big going on, I assigned us to finish and mail all of our Christmas cards.

Because Angel ever-so-faithfully reads my blog, I'll only tell you that for sure one of the activities I have planned is that we'll be watching The Hobbit when it comes out.Other ideas that may or may not be featured:

  • Reading the story of Jesus' birth in the Bible
  • Baking Christmas cookies 
  • In case of snow: building snowmen
  • Getting to open 1 early Christmas present
  • Wedding Anniversary date (a given, for us)
  • Finish Christmas shopping day
  • Go look at Christmas lights
  • Watch Christmas movies: It's a Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause, etc.  (Either I've bought some already and hidden them or we'll pick some up from Blockbuster on that day)

Thankful

I always have a lot to be thankful for. But this Thanksgiving, I'm especially thankful for Baby Sarah.


She's my littlest sister, and it's her birthday on Thanksgiving this year. I'm 15 years older than she is. She wasn't even two when I left to start my freshman year of college, so we've never got to spend much of our lives together. But I'm proud of that little girl, and I love her so much.


The family says she's the second version of me. She's a mini-fashionista and has opinions about everything; whether understands the topic of the conversation or not, she has something to say about it. She bosses children bigger than she is around, and organizes them into doing what she wants them to do. She's in 2nd grade and she's already coming up with grand schemes of how to convince Mom to not make her do all of her homework. She tells Angel on Skype when she thinks her candy supply is getting low that he ought to do something about replenishing it.

 She has 6 older siblings. A little baby-torture is part of her life. I had to include this picture because it makes me laugh so much. Someone apparently stuck her body in between the bed and the wall and I guess she was just hanging out there.
 
Our family used to sit around in the living room, watching Sarah instead of the television, letting her monologues and other antics entertain us better than any comedy show. She recently had one of the best dreams that a kids could have, and in the morning, she told my parents all about it: "I dreamed that I was a sheriff, so I arrested Daddy and put him in jail." She seemed especially thrilled about that.

I love that blue-eyed little girl, and I'm thankful for the little lady she's growing up to be, but I hope she doesn't grow up to be too much older before I get to see her again. Because I still remember her like this:

Happy birthday, Sarah!

The Best Christmas Ornaments in the World

(For the record, I'm drawing a blank on Thanksgiving memories/traditions to talk about, which is why I'm cutting to the chase and talking about Christmas. Cut me some slack and give me a few more years of the American life and then I can speak more knowledgeably on the subject. And trust me, I'm not ignoring the holiday completely. Tomorrow you'll hear about the special little gift that I'm thankful for this year and the day after that I will be eating delicious food.)


We may not have a ton of Christmas ornaments--but we have the best. It's rather noticeable that the majority of the ornaments on our tree are either snowmen or angels. That was not intentional--people just happen to give us snowmen and angel ornaments. However, we've decided that we really like the snowmen theme, and have decided to roll with it, in spite of the fact that I don't like snow.

There are a few specific snowmen on our tree who I have come to love very much.

Angel and I found these two at Bronner's in 2010--and I fell in love with the s'more snowmen, so we bought our very first Christmas ornament together.

I still liked s'more snowmen, so when my Mom visited last February, we went to Bronner's again and she bought this snowman for me. It seems appropriate because of how happy he is about frolicking in the popcorn. That's how quite literally how happy I get about popcorn, I would love to be surrounded by popcorn like he is.

Mom wanted to get one for Angel, so we decided this one was perfect. I don't think Angel has baked anything in his life (the stove top is more his realm)...but we couldn't resist the fact that it was a snowman with wings and a halo--an Angel snowman. Perfect for my husband, obviously.

(This is precisely the reason I will never name any of my kids Angel. Even for the best of us (i.e. me)...the temptation for joking around is just too strong. And hey, Angel signs his name with a halo around the A, like the sports team, so he's adding to the jokes himself!)

Blast from the Past: Senior Pictures

It's quite apparent by now that I don't post pictures of my beautifully decorated home on this blog. There's a very good reason for that--I am no home-decorator. In my house, I have rooms in varying shades of green, red, yellow, and blue, and even one room painted in various and sundry shades of tan all mixed together, but that was just an accident. There are no curtains, all of the furniture is purely utilitarian, and knick knacks are few.

In fact, I've had a friend comment, after he attended a party at my house, "So, Rachel, you like to decorate with pictures of yourself, don't you?"

Why yes, yes I do. I love decorating my home with pictures of my smiling face.

I would like to claim that not all of the pictures in my home are of me or only of me. For verification of that claim, please see the picture frame I posted about or the giant wall of pictures mentioned in this post. If you scrutinize the pictures closely, you'll note that quite a few of the pictures do, in fact, include me, but they also include my beloved friends and family. I'll openly admit that I'm not opposed to pictures of myself. Some might call that vanity, but living in the digital age, I'd say the more pictures the better! They always bring back such interesting memories.

What visitors to my house might find slightly strange is that my senior pictures are also a part of the decor. This is largely because Angel loves my senior pictures. He thinks they are gorgeous and doesn't want me to take them down. {Can you tell he was a cradle-robber?}  I feel I must explain--I ended up doing senior pictures a little differently than the outdoor pictures that are currently in style. We went to a photo studio in my hometown and they did my hair and makeup and told me to bend myself into all sorts of funny poses while grinning for the camera. It probably took 4 hours, and I absolutely loved it, it's now a fun and somewhat hilarious high school memory that I treasure.

Today, I'm bravely sharing with you a few of my senior pictures. Now you will all find out that the profile picture I've been using all this time is from when I was 16. I don't think it's that misleading, though, I'd still look like my pictures if I was actually wearing makeup now!





What I find amazing is that I still own and wear all of the clothes and accessories I wore in my senior pictures, down to my flower earrings and my blue and white striped t-shirt, 5 years later! (Except for the black and white dress, because that wasn't mine to begin with, it belonged to Lizzy). My style doesn't change that much, it just stays 'weird' according to Angel.

Only, seeing those red and white polka dot shoes makes me sad because they no longer exist. Is it just me, or does anyone else have a hard time throwing out a hopelessly worn-out, formerly gorgeous pair of shoes that you share so many memories with? I also want to know if anyone else out there is brave enough or has already been brave enough to share their senior pictures with the world?

Food and Pictures

Hopefully you've noticed some of the lovely bloggers I have on my sidebar this week. There's April from Dimples and Delights, who amazes me with the sheer quantity of her baking. I can bake. I distinctly remember making a few loaves of bread last summer. And I typically make a lot of cookies at Christmastime. But April bakes all the time!! Or so it seems. So check out her blog for some great recipes--the one I most want to try is Butternut Squash Soup. I'll have to get Angel to cut the squash up into small pieces for me, though--those squashes are tough to chop!

 I tried to find a picture of the last bread I baked. I couldn't find anything. So you get a picture of the last bok choy I cooked.

There's also LeiShell. You can look forward to lots of pretty pictures on her blog because she's a professional photographer! And she's a pro photographer who's ambitious enough to even try taking her own family pictures (as in, family pictures with her in the picture!). She's got a cute little boy named Eli--he seems to be featured in quite  a few shots.

 Clearly, Angel is not a photographer on the same level as LeiShell. By a long shot. 

So, you guys should go on over and start reading. Or baking or looking at pretty pictures, as the case may be. See ya!

Wish List

I like presents! Who doesn't, really? And I'm a big believer in being quite specific about the presents I'm interested  in. So, this post is really for the benefit of Angel, my parents, and whoever else might feel an interest in giving me something! And I'm oh-so-conveniently posting it in time for Black Friday shopping. You know, just in case that's helpful for anyone. Without further ado, my wish list:

 Christmas 2010

1. Boots. Pretty brown boots, preferably with buckles AND zippers.

2. Leggings. Maybe patterned leggings? All of my leggings are kind of old and faded so I could use some new colors. Purple, Red, Turquoise, Sparkly--I'll take tights too, if you've got any.

3. Fabric and a pattern for something new to sew. Maybe a dress? Or something less ambitious. A quilt? I haven't decided exactly what--but I could use some craft supplies!

4. Sweet Tarts, Nerds, Riesens, sour gummy worms, a chocolate orange. Is it just me, or are all the displays of 'stocking stuffer' candies irresistibly exciting? I'm definitely hoping for some of my favorite candies in my stocking!

5. Flowery hair clips or headbands. (the hard kind, stretchy headbands just aren't that flattering on me)

6. A kitchen table or an icebox or a baby cradle for my dollhouse. Victorian-esqe, please.

7. A sparkly sweater from Express. Okay I already do have two sparkly Express sweaters from last winter...but they're the only sweaters I actually like to wear! Maybe I'll have to think of something else.

8. "Unique" earrings. Not your run of the mill, average, sparkly stuff. I already have fork, pinecone, safety pin, and paperclip earrings--but any earrings that are just a little odd will do.

9: A fitted, dressy winter jacket. I have a puffy jacket that keeps me warm but it looks just a little silly when I wear it with dresses.

10. Books are always okay with me.

I know I'm dreaming big--but hey, it's just that I know how to work the system--Angel likes to have suggestions but also some options when he shops. Now I just have to start planning what I'm going to get for everyone else!

Have you started Christmas shopping, yet?

Pain and Pilates

I'm not sure, but the average reader around here just might be able to deduce my lack of interest in exercising by the fact that I don't talk about my gym membership or tweet that I ran two miles this morning or show off my muscles. It's true, I'm not an exercise girl. My ideal life is that of the sedentary scholar--reading and typing away a small tower room in my castle, with coals glowing in the fireplace, wrapped up in an electric blanket.

Angel ran cross-country in high school and college, but even he has eschewed running in recent years...so exercising is not a big part of our lives. And because I don't like exercise, because I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and I never eat fast food, and because I'm genetically predisposed to be on the smaller side of humanity...I truly thought I didn't have to exercise.


But I started getting really bad back pain during my Junior year of college. I was sitting in classes all day, not doing anything strenuous, but my back would ache and ache, and it wouldn't stop. It got to the point where sitting through a 50 minute class was excruciating, and I finally gave in and went to the doctor. The doctor said "Do you do anything to stay in shape?" I answered, "I walk from one classroom to another classroom...."

That was clearly not good enough. The doctor said that my muscles were so weak that even the every day strains of carrying my backpack and sitting up straight were overstraining my back and causing the pain that wasn't going away. She gave me two options: start physical therapy, or start exercising. I chose exercising, because it's far cheaper, and on the way home from school, I bought  a Pilates DVD. I did it every day for a week--and the serious pain I'd been in was gone!

I'm still no exercise lover, and two years down the road, my back still hurts sometimes. Probably because I'm not as diligent as I should be. In fact, the very reason I'm writing this blog post is because my back is hurting today and I need to remind myself what I need to do and keep doing in order to feel better. When I feel good I tend to slack off, which is exactly what I shouldn't do. In the summer, I ride my bike down the nearby streets a few times a week, and in the winter I do Pilates and stretching and jump roping inside the house: generally, anything that works my muscles a little to get me in better shape. Angel laughs at me when I'm on the floor stretching and doing all sorts of crazy exercises while we watch a movie in the evening, but hey, it's a much easier fix for pain than pills or surgeries or physical therapy appointments, so I'll take it!


That's my story of learning why I needed to exercise, what's yours?

My Closet and My Shopping Rule


This is my closet, and yes, it's organized by color. That's kind of what I'm well-known for in my family--organizing my closet by color. I've been doing it that way since I was 13, I think? I really don't change that much.

I don't have the problem that many women complain about--that of not wearing a lot of the clothes they own. I mean, right now I'm feeling like I don't wear much of what I own because I'm forced to wear all black 4 days a week. But in general, I enjoy wearing all of my clothes, and I never open my closet and think: "I don't have anything to wear!"

I credit this accomplishment to religious observance of my shopping rule: Only buy it if I'm in love with it. Don't buy it 'cause it's a good deal, don't buy it because I think other people will compliment me on it, don't buy it because it would be a really practical staple wardrobe piece. When I'm considering buying a shirt, or a dress, or a pair of shoes, I ask myself, "Will I regret it for the rest of my life if I don't buy this?"

If the answer's no, I really won't regret it....by next week I won't even remember what color the shirt was! Then I don't buy it. If the answer is yes, years from now the pattern and style of this dress will haunt my dreams; then I buy it.

It's my theory that this shopping system saves money. Because how often can you honestly say of clothes that you are in love with them and will regret it for the rest of your life if you do not own them? This rule also makes sure that I get my money's worth out of my clothes. If I buy a $5 sweater that I didn't really love, but it was a good deal and I needed more winter clothes....I'm really not getting a whole lot of enjoyment out of that $5. If I buy a $12 pair of bright green skinny jeans and wear them again and again and smile every time I pair then with pink, purple, black, red, or blue shirts--I've made a good investment with my money!

 This was one of those: If I don't buy it I will dream about this dress for the rest of my life dresses. I'm glad I bought it!

I have a few items though, that I hold onto without ever wearing them. Mostly they are hand-me-downs that people gave me. I keep those because I think they might come in handy someday, though they aren't something I would have picked out if given the choice.

I also have about 3 pairs of jeans that I bought during my freshman year of college that remain stubbornly too big for me. Apparently during that stage I gave up on finding jeans that actually fit?? I haven't worn them in a few years because they won't stay up without some major help from a belt--but I figure they are useful to keep around for future reference.

Linking up with the Arizona Russums for the Closet Challenge!

5 Minute Costume


As you can see, I changed the color of my peek-a-book highlights from fuchsia to purple. Everyone who has seen me seems to prefer the purple, I'm not sure which one I like better.

Upon arriving home from school on Saturday, I saw a post on facebook that my cousin was having a costume party/hayride/bonfire/birthday celebration. I did what any good cousin would do, and called first to make sure it was okay that I was inviting myself, and opened my closet to figure out what kind of
 costume I could come up with in 5 minutes, since the party had already officially begun. Could you possibly guess what I decided to be for the night?


 Hmmm...I thought. I just colored my hair purple, and I have all of those black leather and studded wrist bands and black chokers that I wore all the time in high school....and I have, of course, my jingling scarf...so I added a little eyeliner and became a Goth Bellydancer!

As my aunt said when I arrived at the party, "Only you, Rachel. Only you."

But I'll take any excuse I can get to wear my lovely blue bellydancer scarf. Why do I have one? I'm not entirely sure, but my Mom bought it for me one day years ago because she thought it seemed a very Rachel-ish accessory. She was right. Usually I start wearing it to class and to the mall and such during the month of December because it sounds like jingle bells when I walk, which definitely gets me in the holiday mood.

The birthday girl and I. It was her sweet 16 and her costume was 1940s-inspired.

And I just had to share the birthday cake with you--her little siblings decorated it with, apparently, every plastic cake decoration they could find, I thought it was so cute!

Should Football Die?

 Since this is a rather serious post for me--I thought I'd preface it with a picture of the one athlete I'll always be a fan of. 
Let me preface this all by saying that I'm not a sports fan. Never have been, and I doubt I ever will be. If I were to pay money to attend any kind of sports event...it would be baseball. However, I recently came across this article in the December issue of Reader's Digest, and it reminded me of some ideas my Sports History professor had talked about in class. I recommend reading the article if you're interested in the subject, but the gist of it is that a professional sportswriter is swearing off watching football because, after years of being so close to the football world, he's seen way too much of what the hits that players take do to their lives in the long-term. In spite of all the padding and protection, football players often get serious injuries--and what specifically concerned that sportswriter--serious brain injuries that sometimes don't allow them to lead normal, healthy lives after they retire from the game.

I emailed the article to my old professor, because I knew he was a lifelong football fan, though in class he had talked about his outrageous theory that the days of American football are numbered due to our greater awareness of what the sport does to players' brains. I got a reply back from him saying that he'd made the exact same decision this fall: that he would not watch football anymore. I was surprised by this--you have to know that he's a major sports fan in general if he's going to teach a college course on the history of sports, and I knew that he genuinely loved 'his' football team--the one from his home state that he still rooted for, years after he'd moved away and lived in other states and countries. My prof said that a big part of the turning point for him was finding out that Jim McMahon, one of his most adored players from the 80s, was now in his early 50s and had dementia.

I find this very interesting. Football is on the TV of a good number of American homes every Thanksgiving Day. Superbowl Sunday is practically a national holiday. Now, for the first time I'm hearing about genuine fans of the game deciding that they can no longer support the football world, because of the tremendous toll football takes on athletes' brains.

 I'll be the first to admit that I haven't researched the subject. I don't know a wide variety of specific cases of professional players who  have been hurt by the game or exactly how concussions damage the body. I don't even know the names of any current football players. Like I said, I'm not a fan. But I find it very strange that American society and culture is most known for idolizing a sport that has the power to ruin the lives of its players. Athletes get hurt in every sport, I understand that. However, football really seems like the most widely popular sport where athlete's heads are specifically put in such extensive danger.

I've now come across two former fans of the game who chose to stop watching it because of what happens to football players. I wonder how many fans think about that issue. My professor phrased it well in his email to me:

"It hit me that I--and other football fans--are somehow complicit in the brain damage that these former players are now suffering. We had cheered for them when they were healthy. We can't just shrug our shoulders and feel a little sad that they are losing their minds 25 years later."

What do you think about the dilemma of football? Fans, non-fans, relatives of fans alike, I'd like to hear from you!

Love and Empty Cereal Boxes

If you haven't noticed by now, I'm not a terribly romantically inclined person. I do not talk about fairytales or happily ever afters in relation to my marriage, nor do I refer to Angel  as "my better half." That's just not me. Angel was my first boyfriend, and by the time he came around, the rest of my family were completely shocked that I actually liked him and, you know, was nice to him and kissed him and stuff. That was not the Rachel they knew. Angel is, admittedly, a special case for me, but our relationship has never been characterized by a whole lot of overt romance.

 This photo could aptly be captioned: "Being Weirdos"

But today, I stood at the top of my basement stairs, and tossed a couple cardboard boxes down with all my might in the general direction of the recycling area, and I felt loved by my husband. The fact is, I really don't like going in the basement. We have one of those evil basements, just chock full of spiders and mice and dirt and rocks and antique things that I have no idea what they are supposed to be used for. I don't like going into the basement, so, unlike a normal, sane person who would take the recycling down to the basement in a civilized manner and stack it or put it in a bin--I regularly stand at the top of the steps, chuck the recycling down the stairs, and run back to the safety of the main floor of our house as fast as I can.

And you know, I think it could be pretty annoying for the one who actually has to deal with the recycling to be faced with boxes and bottles scattered haphazardly at the bottom of the basement stairs rather than a normal, organized pile of stuff to be recycled. It's Angel's job to get the recycling out of the house, and you know what? Not once has he yelled at me, gotten angry, or even brought up the fact that I 'sort' recycling like a crazy person and that it would make his job easier if I would simply walk down the stairs and stack up a few boxes. I mentioned it to him recently, something like, "Hey, thanks for never being annoyed at me because I throw the recycling into the basement and make a mess."

And Angel said, "Oh, it's okay. I know you don't like to go down there--it doesn't bother me at all, you can keep throwing the recycling down anytime you want to."



I love that he gets me, and that he gives me the freedom to indulge my little insanity in the case of the basement and recycling. That's the kind of love that inspires me to maybe, just maybe, get over my intense hatred of the basement and walk down the stairs to tidy up the recycling area occasionally.We'll see.

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In other news, I'm giving away ad space in Tina's 1 Year Blog Anniversary giveaway today! Go on over to Like Ordinary Life to congratulate her, and enter if you want!

College Reminiscing

Sometimes I think I miss being in college. And sometimes I think I'm crazy. I don't necessarily miss the constant rush of midterms and final exams and pop quizzes and the stress of taking Spanish and Mandarin oral exams on the same day.

 I had a locker in college. Did you?
But I miss studying and speaking Spanish and Mandarin with other people who were passionate about the languages. I miss writing papers on the culture of sports fans and throwing in snarky comments that received smiley faces from my professor. I miss the philosophy professor who started every class with a comedy routine, usually about his latest adventures in life with his wife--who he was clearly head over heels in love with. I miss my professor who wore kimonos to class, the professor who tried to cut off my arm with a magic trick, and the professor who wore his "happy shoes" on exam days to cheer us up. (That same professor never failed to notice and compliment me on my especially colorful outfits.)

 For someone who's not that much of a philosopher, I sure got stuck in a lot of philosophy classes. 
I try to hide it, or ignore it, but there's a lot I do enjoy about the world of academia. I know I'm a geek, and I spent a lot of time studying in college.

But one of my most precious memories from college is a time that I didn't study. Angel was there on a visit, and I had a history midterm to take at noon. "Let's go to Baskin Robbins," Angel said. I left my books, and I ate ice cream with Angel. I could have spent a few extra hours that morning studying the the pre-1911 history of China, but instead I ate ice cream with a cute guy. And it was the best test-prep I could have done! I got a 99% on that midterm.

 All I can say now is that I'm definitely having Angel take me out for ice cream before my state licensing exam!

Red Crockpot > Any Other Crockpot

My crockpot broke, and I'm not sad.

Normally, I would be rather disappointed at the breaking of a useful appliance a scant two years into its lifespan...but not this time.

I'm actually a little excited about it, because now I get to replace the old crockpot with a brand new RED crockpot.

And I'm pretty sure our chili will taste ever so much better cooked in a red crockpot than in a silver and black crockpot.

(Note: This is not to say that the original crockpot, the one I received for my wedding, was of inferior quality. We discovered after using it recently that the ceramic liner had a major crack in it. We don't know how it got there, but I suspect some kind of operator error.)

Red Wins!!


And my appreciation for small red kitchen appliances is not new. About this time last year I was writing a love letter to my microwave

Oh Christmas Tree.

Angel and I decorated our house for Christmas. Go ahead and judge us if you want. Actually, if it was up to me, I would have gone traditional and waited till the day after Thanksgiving. But Angel really, really loves the Christmas tree and its strings of lights, so he wasn't willing to wait any longer. This was actually our first year decorating for Christmas together. That's because, in 2010, our first Christmas, we'd only gotten married three weeks before Christmas and we didn't own many decorations besides a few ornaments to hang on our non-existent tree. I didn't even know where my stocking was. Last year, Angel got bored one day in OCTOBER while I was at school, and I came home to a Christmas tree. This year I talked him into waiting till we were both home at the same time. We listened to Taylor Swift and Fernando Ortega (I know, random!) while decorating and had a grand old time decorating with our as-yet slightly pitiful collection of Christmas decorations.

(It is my theory that people attract Christmas decorations magnetically and without trying as they go through life, and so, in an effort not to wind up with an unmanageable supply of decorations a few years down the road we limit Christmas decoration purchasing as much as possible. My theory is true, though, you know. Out of the decorations we currently have, the only ones we bought were the tree, the lights, one stocking, and approximately 2 ornaments. The rest were gifts or were inherited.)

 Told you he was very fond of Christmas lights.
 I've had my stocking since my very first Christmas, so I'm told. I don't actually remember that Christmas. I bought Angel's for $3 at a thrift store last year so that he wasn't left out.
It's no designer tree, but it's happy to look at!

When are you going to decorate for Christmas?
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In other news, check out LeiShell's blog, because she's actually paying attention to the appropriate holiday, unlike Angel and I. I love her latest list of things she's thankful for, especially because it starts with: "A Clean House". I'm pretty sure all of us with houses to clean are pretty thankful for that!

The Anti-Yoga Pants Post

 Are you saying you don't pose with cows for your outfit pictures?
This post is not going to make me any friends. Oh well. I have to say it. I don't like yoga pants. Or sweatpants, or generally, any type of pants without a zipper and a button. I wear leggings and tights, but only under skirts or dresses to keep my legs warm, not as pants.

I know some of you might find this very strange. I have read so many other bloggers talking about how much they love yoga pants, or how they wish they could live in yoga pants, or how 'what I wore wednesday' forces them to not wear yoga pants any more. My classmates have started a big ruckus about yoga pants because some of the instructors are saying that it's against the dress code to wear yoga pants to school and others say that there's no specific mention of yoga pants in the school dress code.

I just don't like them. I don't like how they look, or the feel of that stretchy elastic around my waist, or how expensive a pair of yoga pants is. In my freshman year of college I had to take a dance aerobics class. I did have a pair of sweatpants from Goodwill in case I needed them, but the majority of the time...it was really annoying to walk to the gym and then change into sweat pants in the locker room, exercise, and then change back into normal clothes. So, I just wore jeans. It's possible to exercise in jeans. Trust me. Of course, I'm also not someone who is passionate about exercising, nor do I have any desire to go 'for a run.' My preferred exercise is ballroom dancing, and I wear dresses for that!

So, I just thought you ought to know--In addition to the rest of my oddities, I don't wear yoga pants. Never have...and maybe someday, I don't know, maybe when I'm older I'll change my mind and come to appreciate them, but jeans have always seemed really comfy to me. When I come home from school and I'm so sick of my black clothes, I change into a pair of skinny jeans for doing housework and cooking dinner.

 So, if you see me around town--you might see me in a skirt. Or in dress slacks, or in jeans. But you won't ever catch me in yoga pants.

But I'm not offended if you wear them. If you haven't guessed it yet, you should know by now that I'm a big believer in wearing whatever you want to and pay little or no attention to fashion and its 'rules'.