31 March 2014

A Threat

I may not look very threatening.

But I'm serious about this.

If spring doesn't come soon...and I mean real spring, with blooming flowers and 60+ degree temperatures...

I am going to revolt by wearing only the craziest of clothes and completely mis-matched layers until it is warm enough to wear the spring dresses that I love.

I'm serious, clown shoes and all.

 I'll keep you guys updated on whether or not this works.

What's your favorite strategy for persuading the weather to bend to your wishes?
28 March 2014

10 Things to do in West Michigan

Trust me. I myself have googled "Things to Do in West Michigan" and have not come up with very much. I know that to the rest of the world, this area probably doesn't sound very interesting. (Have you ever heard, "Dude, I'm going to West Michigan for Spring break" ? Neither have I.) So, I thought I'd make my own little list of what's good here, accompanied by photos that prove that I have actually been to all of the places I'm suggesting:

Muskegon Beach
In Michigan, we wear winter coats at the beach.
1. The beach. Holland and Grand Haven have parks for access to public beaches. Angel prefers to go when there's a storm and no one else is out there.

Art Prize 2012
In Michigan, we use the term "art" loosely, and I love it.
2. ArtPrize. A yearly art festival that takes over downtown Grand Rapids for 2 weeks during late September and early October. Seriously, ya'll, there's art everywhere, from the tops of buildings to inside restaurants to street corners to bridges.

Grand Rapids Original Swing Society
In Michigan, we ring in the New Year with line dancing.
3. Grand Rapids Original Swing Society. For a $5 entry fee, you can dance every Tuesday night all year-round, sometimes at indoor venues, sometimes outdoor.

Frederick Meijer Gardens
In Michigan, we have cacti--shocker!
4. Frederick Meijer Gardens. Expensive, but beautiful, with indoor and outdoor gardens, sculpture, and traveling art exhibits, and concerts in the summer.

Michigan's Adventure
In Michigan, Rachel wears a swimsuit. Scandal alert!
5. Michigan's Adventure. Waterpark/Amusement Park. Doesn't compare to an amusement park on the scale of Cedar Point, but then, it's significantly cheaper too.

Hager Park
In Michigan, we make out in playgrounds. This just keeps getting worse and worse.
6. Hager Park. I've been to plenty of public parks in my day, and thus far, none have been as awe-inspiring as Hager Park, with it's hide-and-seek friendly gigantic wooden castle. There's also a lawn that has been turned into a map of the U.S.A. which is fairly impressive.

Tulip Time 2013
In Michigan, we consider flowers a reason to party.
7. Tulip Time in May, in Holland. A festival celebrating Dutch culture and pretty flowers. There's usually plenty of food, a craft show, and performances including traditional dances and concerts.

Gilmore Car Museum
In Michigan, we love our cars.
8. Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo. When we went there, I was rather angry because they neglected to tell us that the two exhibits Angel and I most wanted to see were closed for the winter, yet they still charged full admission. In spite of my bitterness, I admit that they have some really awesome cars. But go in the summer.

And our green and yellow tractors. My shirt says "I make dirt look good."
9. Riverbend Steam and Gas Show. Every year in mid- to late-July, folks get together to show off their antique tractors and steam engines and other farm-related paraphernalia. It's a culture all it's own, but it can be fun, with traditions like pie and ice cream always available, and threshing and sawmill demonstrations, a tractor pull, miniature airplane show, and a blacksmith at work (who makes the most gorgeous iron roses--I wish I owned one).

Grand Rapids Public Museum
In Michigan, grown men have tea parties at the Public Museum. Limited time exhibit.
10. Grand Rapids Museums. There's a bunch to choose from: Public Museum, Art Museum, Children's Museum, Gerald R. Ford Museum. During ArtPrize, some of these offer free admission, which makes them even more enticing.

*Clearly, by "West Michigan" I mean more specifically "Southwest Michigan"...but we all seem to refer to ourselves as West Michigan...

Locals, anything I missed? Anything I haven't done yet? Because if there is, I ought to do it soon! How many readers have been here or plan to go one day?
27 March 2014

I Feel Like a Superhero When...

I wear my Wonder Woman Socks (but wasn't that obvious?).

My fridgerator is blindingly white due to an excess of cleanliness.

My mom emails me to tell me that a blog post I wrote was pure genius.

I pull all of the weeds out of the rock garden in front of the house.

I actually complete an excessively long craft project (i.e. making a dress).

I swing dance to an entire song without getting off-beat or mis-reading my partner's lead.

I've completed a phone call that I really didn't want to have to make.

I make bread with yeast in it and it rises (somehow, I always think it won't).

Somebody sends me a paper they'd like me to edit.

I receive a letter saying that, yes, my article has been accepted for publication in this magazine.

I find cabbage on sale for 14 cents a pound and successfully make it into a dinner Angel will actually eat (hint: spicy cabbage + other assorted vegetables soup).

I fall into bed after cleaning  up the remains of hosting a party with 40+ guests.

When do you feel like a superhero?

25 March 2014

The Craft Project that Never Ended

Well, I mean, it did end. Because I'm here now and the project is finished, but you know the feeling, right?

Some craft projects seem like they take a lifetime to complete.

This one really did.

Look at this lovely vintage embroidered tablecloth that I just finished:

Wait a minute...if I just finished embroidering the tablecloth, then why did I call it "vintage"?

Sure, it might be a rather loose interpretation of the word, but let me explain.

This tablecloth project was begun in the 1980s. The tablecloth itself is older than I am. My Mom started the tablecloth, and says that she remembers embroidering in her dorm room at college when she had no desire to study anymore.

College being what it is, the tablecloth didn't get finished.

I remember seeing this unfinished tablecloth as a kid, stumbling across the plastic bag full of thread and needles and hoops and tablecloth every once in a while. I even have vague memories of Mom pulling it out to work on it. But mostly it just stayed in the bag--never thrown out, always kept, but never finished.

When I was about 11, I came across the tablecloth again, and asked Mom if I could try my hand at finishing the embroidery. She said sure, and I gave it my best shot. But I was 11, I was distractable, and this tablecloth didn't stand a chance of being finished. It got packed into storage when we moved to Malaysia.

I came across the tablecloth this past December when going through my parents' storage with them. This time, I took it out and determined to finish it. There were still 3 entire rosettes that had little or no progress made. I decided I was going to finish the project for once and for all, and I did.

It's only been, oh, 25 plus years since the project had been started...

What's the longest period of time that a single craft project has taken you from start to finish?
24 March 2014

My Color

 This is it.

Do you guys have a color? And I don't just mean a color that looks good on you, though that might be part of it.

Fuchsia is a color that works well for my hair and skin tone, but there's something more to it. Fuchsia simply IS my color. I feel most at home, most me, when wearing fuchsia. I feel like it describes me well. It's vivid, it's a little outside the the norm, and it's probably not included in the standard 12-set of crayons.

This dress is my color, and I love it.

It's also from eShakti, which you might have noticed I wear a lot of. It's this dress, but I added sleeves and changed the neckline. That's the beauty of eShakti. I prefer knee-length dresses with short sleeves, so that's what I purchase. My mom prefers calf-length dresses with a longer length of sleeves, and that's what she orders. Seriously, I am a living, breathing advertisement for eShakti, and because of me, my mom, several of my sisters, and now some of my sisters' friends as well own dresses that they bought from eShakti. They are an awesome company when it comes to sizes that are hard to find (ever tried shopping for a 5'8" but extremely slim teenager like my sister Rebekah? It isn't easy!) and for styles that aren't excessively trendy. Because my family lives in the tropics, they especially like the selection of 100% cotton dresses because of how breathable they are in high heat and humidity!

This particular dress was given to me by eShakti in exchange for review.

So, what's your color? Do you think I'm right about fuchsia being 'my color'? And have you ever ordered a dress from eShakti?
21 March 2014

Who Knew?

No really, who knew? Who guessed, or who did you tell, from the very beginning?

This weekend. we celebrate 4 years together, and it's funny now to think that once upon a time we tried our best to keep whatever we had a tightly guarded secret.

Not many people knew about us in the beginning.

One uncle claims he knew this guy was someone to be concerned about in April 2009 when he heard from his kids, "Rachel's friend Angel came over to Grandma and Grandpa's house and played dominoes with us!" Hmm, he thought, college guys don't come over to my parents' house, and they definitely don't come over for the purpose of playing dominoes with children.

In Spring 2009, I emailed a lifelong friend about this guy who was acting like he liked me, but I was leaving to Malaysia for the summer, and he was graduating, so it probably wouldn't come to anything.

Around the same time, Angel told a mutual college friend of ours, "Rachel would make the perfect wife."

In Summer 2009, I told my sister Lizzy that we had  kissed, but that it didn't mean anything, it was just a funny story, something random that had happened.

Another uncle claims that he knew something was up in December 2009 when I took a phone call on Christmas break and when he asked me about it, I said, "Don't worry, the guy lives in Texas."

My Mom sent me strange emails that winter, saying, "Not knowing him, it's hard to know if you ought to encourage Angel or not, but at the very least you shouldn't say that you're busy and hang up when he calls you."

Early March 2010, I gave my parents a heads-up. Angel had specifically said he was coming to Michigan to visit me on Spring Break. He told me he liked me. They probably needed to meet him and interview him on Skype.

Evening of March 23, Angel and I, together, told my grandparents that we were officially courting. I'm pretty sure they had no idea what we meant or what to expect.

Late March. My parents, crazy with pride or joy or something, sent out a FAMILY EMAIL informing the entire extended family that Rachel had a beau. These parents of mine...

Late March. Angel told his parents and brothers the real reason he'd taken a trip to Michigan (me).

The day we got engaged.
Early April, Angel called some of our best friends and told them we were together, that we expected to get married. They had no idea. Even though they'd seen us together just weeks before, we'd done a good job of acting very unsuspiciously. We were proud of ourselves.

May 31. We got Facebook official. Anyone who was stalking us online could know.

Mid-July. Engagement party in Malaysia, with pretty much our entire town invited and attending. Some people didn't actually find out that it was an engagement party till they arrived, and for them, it was a surprise engagement party! Now all Malaysians knew the big news.

Still, one of our close friends spent the first 6 or 7 months of 2010 traveling around the world. By the time we saw him in September, our engagement was old news to everyone else, but he was completely shocked! When he'd left on his trip, we were both single, and, at least as far as any outsider could tell, not interested in each other. We didn't even live in the same state. When he returned from his trip, we were engaged and Angel was interviewing for jobs in Michigan. If you decide to travel the world, you might miss some juicy gossip in the meantime.

Who guessed first about you and your spouse? Who were the first people who you spilled the news of new love to?
20 March 2014

When a Bear Costume Just Isn't Enough

Sometimes, you're a Bear. And you get invited to go to a costume party. But you feel like going as a bear simply isn't enough. So you throw on a red t-shirt and grab a jar of honey and turn yourself into Winnie the Poor. Way more creative than just being a generic bear.
18 March 2014

What I Wear to the Gym

Which one of these things doesn't belong in a gym?

Okay, here's the story. Angel signed up to run three 5Ks this spring. He hasn't run since 2007, so he wanted to start training two weeks before his first race.

It is freezing cold here right now, so Angel did not think that running outdoors sounded like fun. A $30 1 month gym membership at the community center sounded like more fun, and for $15, he could add on a second family member, so Angel thought that a month of gym dates for the two of us was called for.

I am no runner. I never could have imagined that I would be going to a gym regularly, even over just the short time span of a month. Paying to exercise? So weird. But it's time spent with Angel, and exercise isn't a bad thing, so I'm in.

Only, Angel makes fun of me for wearing jeans to the gym. I've mentioned before that I don't own any athletic pants/shorts and I certainly won't buy a pair just for a month. 

So, these days, Angel and I head to the gym on the mornings when he's not working. He goes straight to the treadmill and runs 4 miles, while I experiment with the elliptical and do all of the weight machines with the weights set at 5-15 lbs, which I think is perfect, because I should be doing light weights for my wrist and back pain anyway.

I feel like a bit of an imposter surrounded by people who actually have exercise pants and iPods. I'm not a gym girl, and I never will be.

But I do have athletic shoes. And I'm using them. So that's something to be grateful for. Sure, I picked them out 3 years ago because they are grey and pink and they still look as perfect as they day they were purchased...but the shoes help me look the part, I think.

 For the record, it's not that I don't exercise at all. I prefer activity-type exercise over pure exercise. I'd rather play Just Dance, or, in the summer, bike. To me that's much more exciting than hanging out in a room full of rather intimidating machines and boring televisions.

This Saturday was the first 5K for Angel. It was about 30 degrees, but I bundled up and went along for moral and photographical support. This was my first time at a race of any kind! It seemed like pure chaos to me, but other people seemed to know what was going on. Here's cute Angel in his racing clothes:

He was not happy at all with his results: 20:49, which meant 191st place out of 3332 people. I mean, according to my mathematical calculations, that's still in the top 6%, which impresses me, but Angel is not impressed. Oh well, maybe you can't expect to not run for seven years and do really good on a race after two just weeks of training.

What about you? Are you a gym person or a runner or none of the above?
17 March 2014

I Found Something Cool at a Thrift Store?

Shirt: a gift courtesy of SammyDress. Exact shirt available for purchase here. I love that my sleeves are two different colors!

Vest: Last fall, I desperately wanted a vest, though I couldn't decide if I wanted a denim vest or a leather vest. Angel and I scoured the mall, and finally found this one at Macy's--the fit and price helped me decide that, indeed, a denim vest was what I wanted after all.

 Necklace: Vintage. Ooh, that word! We found a stash of my great-grandma's costume jewelry recently and I pulled this out of it, thinking it was quite perfect in every way.

Jeans: Okay, these are the star of the show. I've blogged about how I don't shop at thrift stores because I can never find anything great that's priced well. This is totally outside the norm. I randomly walked into a thrift store, saw these jeans priced at $5 but hanging on the 25% off rack, and noticed that they were Silver jeans. Now, I'm no brand snob, but even I know that Silver is a decent jeans brand. The quality was great, condition perfect, they fit like a dream, and they have that amazing seam down the front, so I bought them for a grand total of $3.98. I actually found something worthwhile in a thrift store. Aren't you impressed with me? I'm guessing by the style that they are probably fairly old, but I'm not sure when flares without back pockets were in style. I seem to vaguely remember them. 1999? Early 2000s, maybe? I don't care, I'll bring them back. Who says we have to wear skinny jeans all the time?

Shoes: My beloved cowboy boots. They were my Christmas present from my parents back in 2008. This outfit already had a bit of a Western theme to it so I figured I just had to add the boots.

Headband: I've already told you the story of the cat ears--Angel bought them for me.

And yes, I am in fact standing on a pier overlooking frozen Lake Michigan. There ought to be water behind me but, nope, it's definitely ice!
14 March 2014

Glass Art Adventures

My Aunt own a glass art business, and we recently got to spend a little time with her and soak in some knowledge about the science behind glass art. Angel, who prefers to avoid crafts of any sort for unknown reasons, chose to watch Wreck It Ralph while the rest of us fulfilled our artistic dreams.

I could have played with glass for days, if given the chance. Learning about all the different tools and machines and types of glass we could use was exciting! I find glass art to be an unusually scientific area of art. I mean, when you're working with paper or yarn, there's a lot of room for experimenting, and so too with glass, but it seems that you at least have to know some of the science behind the art if you don't want to end up with explosions in your kiln or pieces of "art" melt into something completely different than what you intended. Paper is not usually that risky.

I would love to have experimented with different techniques, but for my first-ever glass piece I chose to err on the safe side and try a mosaic style.

 Picking out the pieces.

 Sketching out my planned design.

Safety glasses are necessary when cutting glass!

This was my finished project, right before it was put in the kiln. I went for a somewhat mismatched rainbow look.

 Everyone else in the family came up with different patterns, too. I loved Anna's mosaic tree!

Have you ever had the chance to play with glass?
13 March 2014

Best Bathroom Decor

By best, it should be known that I most likely mean funniest. We had to take a quick road trip out of state, and, being human, this necessitated a stop at a random rest area. In the restroom, while washing my hands, I suddenly noticed that the wall was completely covered with comment cards that had been taped to the walls. What's more, the content of these cards was comedic gold.

I did the strangest thing: I ran out to the car to grab my camera, and started taking pictures of the cards taped to the wall of the women's restroom. I just couldn't let this unexpected adventure go undocumented. Read for yourself.

The next one is my absolute favorite:

The musical combo, the dentist!! Someone's thinking outside the box. Also, "Date: nope; came alone."

I will smile forever because of this.

I LUV YOU passionately, bathroom.

Of course, some folks had actual advice/comments on the design of the bathroom:

 I don't know about you, but I hardly ever use the word "love" when describing my feeling toward a rest stop bathroom. In general, I merely appreciate their existence. However, I might love this one, purely because of the comment cards display.

A few others shared my appreciation of the comment cards. There were so many, I didn't photograph nearly all of them, but my sister tells me that one card I missed said, "I think it's really weird that people write comment cards for a bathroom."

Another one that I read but failed to photograph said, "Just stopping here after a 1st date with the man I'm going to marry. We're in our 40s, I don't feel like wasting time."

Precious, so precious.

It's this kind of thing, comment cards in a public restroom, that reminds me how much I love life.

Thank you, Indiana rest stop, for making my day.
12 March 2014

Innocence and Rebellion

Dress provided by Sheinside in exchange for review. Exact link for purchase here.

I don't know about you, but when I come across a cream-colored spring dress embroidered with whimsical flowers...

I feel the strong need to pair it with turquoise tights, striped knee-high socks, and pink Converse for good measure.

Innocence meets rebellion, right there!

It makes perfect sense, right?
11 March 2014

Interview by a 7 Year Old

My youngest sister, Sarah, likes to ask people questions. Sometimes, these questions have very obvious right answers, for example, when she asks Angel, "Angel, do you want to play Just Dance with me?"

Or when she asks me, "Rachel, I noticed that you have some SweetTarts on the shelf in your bedroom. Who are those for?"

Other times, the questions are slightly more open-ended, but she'll still let me know if she disapproves of my answer. The other day, she performed an in-depth interrogation about the movies I watch while I was making dinner. Here it is:

Sarah: "Rachel, what is your favorite cartoon movie?"

Toy Story or Ice Age

"Okay, what is your favorite Disney movie?"

Pirates of the Caribbean.

"What? That doesn't count. What is your favorite Disney princess movie that is a cartoon?"

Beauty and the Beast

"What's your favorite scary movie?"

Rear Window (but for the record, I don't really watch scary movies.)

"What's your favorite funny movie?"

Classic: Arsenic and Old Lace
New: The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

"What's your favorite romantic movie?"

Classic: Roman Holiday
New: The Proposal

"What's your favorite PG-13 rated movie?"

(Hmmm, Sarah, that's an odd question...though it seems like nearly all movies are rated PG-13 these days...)

The Return of the King? The Avengers?

"What is your least favorite movie of all time?"

The Core. The Spiderwick Chronicles. Batman.

Even with so many categories, I had such a hard time choosing. What would your answers be if you were being interrogated by Sarah?


And in a totally unrelated Sarah story, we were all in the car. Sarah's carseat takes up the middle seat, so Angel and I were sitting on both sides of her. She, unprovoked, leaned over and kissed Angel on the cheek. I said, "Hey! That's supposed to be my job!"

She looked at me with a cheeky/sinister grin and said, "Not anymore..."
10 March 2014

Why I Wear Saris

Ya'll may have noticed that occasionally I post pictures of events where I'm wearing a sari. Ya'll may also notice that I, in fact, happen to be Caucasian.

I never thought that saris and the fact that I'm white should be mutually exclusive, but in the past I have gotten some feedback from people who have stumbled across this blog who find it very offensive to see a white girl wearing clothes of a culture where she does not ethnically belong. I've been told that I ought not to wear saris because of the color of my skin.

I'm going to continue wearing my clothes, but I thought I'd explain a little bit of the "why."

1) My background: Yes, I'm Caucasian. It's totally obvious by this pasty skin of mine. I'm told that I'm a mix of Dutch, Irish, Welsh, and who knows what else. I have also never been to Europe and have no emotional attachment to, really, anything about European culture, whether it be the traditional dishes of the Netherlands or Ireland or whatever their traditional dresses may be.

However, I have spent a significant portion of my life in SE Asia. After living there, I moved back to the US and majored in Mandarin Chinese. I am very, very attached to some of the dishes that I grew up eating which are nearly impossible to find in the USA. Besides that, I'm the kind of girl who naturally loves bright colors and sparkly things, and the saris and salwar khameez and qipao and baju kebaya that I saw my neighbors and friends wearing have always been beautiful to me. To me, these are the clothes of my home. It would be ridiculous for me to claim that the home of my heart is the Netherlands--I've never even been there, though technically that's where I ethnically might belong best.

2) My clothes are gifts: My friends know me. They know I love beautiful clothes. Many of my generous friends have taken to giving me clothes nearly every time they see me, and are happy when they know that I wear and use their clothes. The vast majority of my collection of these outfits, which includes 1 yukata, 1 qipao, 1 baju kebaya, 5 salwar khameez, and 6 saris, have been gifts from people who are very dear to me. I would consider it very disrespectful to accept their gifts and then stash them away in a dark closet, viewing them merely as odd mementos of something "exotic."

No. instead, I choose to view them as a few among the many beautiful options I have when I'm getting dressed for the day. My tunics make oh-so-comfortable and yet pretty options for everyday wear, while my saris are perfect for a dressy party. And the qipao is usually only seen when I'm on a date with Angel--it's a bit scandalous compared to most of what I wear, but I love it!

3)  Try telling my Auntie that I'm not her daughter, and see how far you get. Just try it. Attempt to tell her that I shouldn't wear the saris she gives me because I'm not really a part of her family, that I'm a Caucasian outsider. I believe she'll set you straight. She's the one who taught me how to wear a sari when I was a young teen, and took me into the back room to readjust the folds of the sari when it didn't pass her careful inspection the first few times I wore one. It's often said that there's no fury like a mom protecting her children--and I'm blessed to have more than one excellent woman call me "daughter."

 I can understand what's behind the concerns of those who say I shouldn't wear a sari because of my skin color. It's true--white people like me have a horrible track record when it comes to the oppression of other races. However, somehow, I don't think limiting folks to wearing only their own ethnicity's clothes and eating only their own culture's food helps the cause of cross-cultural love very much. (What's next? Marrying inside your own culture? Far be it from me!)

Racism is a real problem. The horrific history of oppression by white folks is a real problem. But I don't think I can best help that problem by wearing only blazers and jeans, by sticking to the clothes "appropriate" for the color of my skin. Maybe what I can do to help is speak out about employers who mistreat their domestic workers. Maybe I can learn a couple languages. Maybe I can attend Lunar New Year and Deepavali and Hari Raya parties when I'm invited by dear friends, and invite them to Thanksgiving dinner every November. Maybe I can passionately love both the culture I was born into and the one I adopted later. Maybe I can use cilantro when I cook (I detest the flavor) because to Angel, it's a taste of home.

Somehow, I think I would be more of a threat to good cross-cultural relationships if I subscribed to the "If you ain't Dutch you ain't much" philosophy than if I were a pale-skinned girl wearing a sari my Auntie gave me.

When it comes to what I wear, I choose love, and sometimes, that means a sari.
07 March 2014

10 Must Have Items You Don't Really Need

The struggle to make ends meet can be immensely frustrating--work as hard as you can and as many hours as you can, and still barely stay financially afloat. Sometimes, there doesn't seem to be any solution for those with high bills and limited financial resources. But other people are struggling to get by because they believe they need a lot of things that they actually don't need--and they're working hard to pay for those non-necessary items. I'm  a big believer in having less in order to save money, instead of trying to have it all and save money at the same time, so with that view in mind, here are a few things that (in spite of what the media, magazines, and your friends tell you) you can do without:

1) Smartphones. You can tell me again and again that they aren't that expensive, but I probably won't believe you. We currently pay about $90 a month for 4 cellphones for 4 people that allow calling and nothing else. Smartphones are a convenience, and conveniences cost.

2) Curtains. Sure, all the fancy homes in the magazines have them, but they're pricey. Even if you do need to sleep during the day, you can wear an eye mask to shut out all the light and an eye mask is plenty cheaper than enough window dressing for all  3 bedroom windows! Or you could borrow Angel's college dorm room style and tack flags of various countries to your window frames.

3) Pets. They're a luxury. Food, vet's bills, pet-sitters when you want to travel. Even fish cost something, and if you're barely getting by, you don't need them.

4) KitchenAid Mixer. I know a lot of people who have these. They seem really cool, and handy. But they're hundreds of dollars. I think between my muscles, Angel's muscles, and my $20 electric hand mixer, we can mix up a couple hundred dollars worth of food.

5) AirCon. "That's easy for you to say, you live in Michigan!" Yes, it is very easy to say as I sit here shivering. Aircon is not a necessity. I did spend a couple years in the tropics with no aircon, and that's where I learned the value of a ceiling fan. Fans are awesome, and significantly cheaper to run than aircon.

6) Home Internet. Ouch! Those you know me know I love my internet access. But you have to know yourself. If $30 a month for internet access is hurting you, let it go! Libraries have free internet and so do lots of other public gathering places. It's not as convenient, but you won't be totally cut off from civilization

7) Cable. Or any version of television you have to pay for. Public broadcast tv still exists. It's better in some places than in others, but it's free. And more and more libraries are expanding their collection of free dvds to borrow.

8) A Yard. Yards are awesome, but they're not necessary, and honestly, they're really expensive. Big yards often require tractor mowers, or, if you're too busy working, a lawn service. As a kid, I lived in homes with large and medium yards, one with a 5x3 foot patch of grass (not exaggerating), and one with no yard at all--and all of those homes were fun. Living without a yard could save you money.

9) A DSLR. Those point-and-shoot pocket sized cameras will capture your memories just as effectively, if not quite so prettily.

10) The "Cute" version of normal stuff. Just 'cause there's a "cute" version of a fire extinguisher or a dayplanner or lunchbag, crockpot, broom, can opener, or paintbrush, doesn't mean you need it. If you already have the ugly version, note that it still works in spite of being ugly.

This isn't saying  that none of these things aren't convenient or nice to have--but if you're feeling pressure to own popular items like these because seemingly 'everyone' has them--I'm here to say that everyone doesn't. And if striving to own nice things is causing you financial stress, quit it, because stuff isn't worth the stress.
06 March 2014

Invented Words

Years ago, I was trying to say either "For real?" or "Really?" in response to some news, but somehow, the phrase came out "For really?" Which sounds ridiculous.

That probably would have been the end of the matter, except I happened to have this slip of the tongue while on camera; my dad was taking a family video.

To this day, most of the people in my family still use the phrase "For really?" instead of the more normal "For real?" or "Really?", simply because of my misstep. Maybe all of the strangers who hear us simply think that we are crazy.


Another unusually formed word we use is the word meaning to describe the action of looking at someone with an angry face.

It all started when my little brother said, (15 years ago), "Rachel, the cat is meaning at us!"

Our cat was indeed staring at us with a fixed and rather unfriendly glare, and ever since then, every member of our family (and quite a few outsiders, too) have come to know and to use the word meaning in everyday conversation. I use it with Angel in response to some of his pranks.

"I'm meaning at you." is one of the most succinct ways of telling someone, "It's obvious by the look on my face that I am not pleased with your current behavior, so it would go well with you if you were to stop."

Meaning. For really?

Has your family developed any unusual phrases or words that have come into common use over the years, but which might confuse someone who sticks to dictionary English?