It’s da (yarn)bomb!

yarn bomb

So here we are- day one of project slap happy (I can barely type it without feeling a little bit lighter all over).

One thing that truly brings me happiness is seeing ways that others work to bring beauty to the everyday world. I was just scrolling through my phone pics this morning and remembered that I took this one a few weeks ago. I couldn’t tell you what part of the city this is from, which is an endorsement for just how much yarnbombing (and other renegade beautification projects) cover the fair twin cities. We have a few celebrity yarn artists, like HOTTEA, but also everyday artists who cover the cities in pretty colors, brightening bike racks, tree trunks, chain link fences and beyond.

On this day in June, it pleases me to have this reminder about others who like the world to be in full technicolor.

If you like what you see here, you should see my related pinterest board

Be happy, be kind-

Meri

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Clap along…

Some of you may have been participating in or reading others’ posts in the “100 Happy Days” project that is circulating social media lately.

Although I’ve been following others for weeks, I wasn’t inspired until today to act on it, and interestingly it was because I was inspired to “not do” the particular project, but instead to put my own flavor on things.

Rather than post things each day that make me happy, I’m going to keep mine (ever so slightly) more personal.¬†Partly because I don’t want to flood the twitter or status update feeds of others, partly because I want to be a bit more spontaneous and flexible with my sharing.

So, off I begin on a journey. Not for 100 days, because I don’t want to choose a time limit at this time. For as long as I feel like, I will share something each day with friends, family, coworkers, or the blog/social media world. It might be a text, a phone call, a song, a drawing, a photo, a gift…

Each day I am committing to spending 5 minutes or more reflecting on something that gives me happiness or great peace and contentment. Even the crappiest of rainy mondays, I will do this.

I invite my readers (aka my mom) to join me in whatever way that fits their fancy. For no particular reason, I’m calling this little venture, “slap happy.” (Except on the weekends, where it may or may not progress to “punch drunk. ”

Consider yourselves all slapped. ūüėČ

Happy times,

Meri

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To everything, turn, turm, tam…. there is a season

What’s up with the weird, cheesy title?

Well, lately with this whole “polar vortex” thing, I’ve been trying to spice things up a little by trying a few (kind of) new foods. None of these are things I haven’t eaten before, but they are all things I haven’t personally prepared or had in this¬†raw form before.

First up- “Turn,” as in Turnip. I’ve had these in soups and in roasted root vegetables before, but usually I just think, “meh,” and go for their tastier name-cousins, parsnips (my preeeeecious).

But good things come to those who throw a turnip in their grocery cart, and so after a quick google (apparently you can eat the skin, but its not super tasty, so I peeled for my maiden voyage)…

turnip

whole

turnip peeled

peeled

turnip chopped

chopped and ready for my soup!

Verdict: Good texture- fine for soup. I actually preferred the taste raw though, sort of like a raw potato bred with jicama? I won’t go out of my way to eat this again.

Next up: “Turm” as in “turmeric.” I cook with ground turmeric all of the time (in fact I’m due for a new supply from Penzey’s) but had never bought turmeric root before. However, since we all know that turmeric is “ye great olde anti-inflammatory,” I had to try it when I saw it advertised at one of the local co-ops.

turmeric

the root/bisection

turm chopped

chopped y listos por mi sopa!

Verdict: Color- lovely! didn’t even stain my (similarly colored) cutting board. Smell- Man-go-round thought it smelled like “dirt” and I thought it had a familiar smell- maybe like grass or plants in general? Definitely less fragrant than ginger or garlic or¬†other fresh herbs.¬†Taste- didn’t seem to have much either raw or once in the soup. I may try mixing it with some fresh ginger to make a pretty orange tea though… I’ll keep you “posted” har har har.

Finally: “Tam” brought to you by the fruit, “Tamarind.” I have had tamarind in things before (chutneys, worcestershire sauce, various store-bought sauces) but never the raw fruit. I saw it and had to seize the opportunity. Nerd that I am, I literally bought one pod to try.

Side note: Tamarind has shown, in some studies, to help the body excrete excess fluoride. Quelle interesant!

tam whole

just a humble kinda guy

tam closer

peeling: closer, clarice… (sorry)

tam and seed

one bite gone and the (inedible) seed

I’ll give a bit more how-to on this one: you just crack the seed, start peeling the extra pith thing off (there is a string to help you) and then take a bite. Once you get the bite you eat it kind of like an olive, and there is a point a few chews in where the seed just easily slips off of the sticky fruit (date-like texture) and you can discard the seed in your souffle cup (the only way that thing is getting used by me haha).

Verdict: Yummy! Slightly sweet and definitely sour, with a decadent stickiness that makes me think of being a kid. The first thing I thought of is those sour dried plum candies you can get at some markets (I will always think of San Francisco’s Chinatown where I bought a big bag and got “sour tongue” from eating too much). If I see these again I’l buy some more and make the tamarind balls where you roll the fruit in balls and then in sugar. Yum!

So that’s all I have for you today. What new foods or recipes have you tried lately? Have you tried these foods?

Meri

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The Prints and this Pauper

The holidays are over, the weather is cold and gray, and some days all there seems to be to do is cozy up with a mug of beer or tea with some winter television.

When doing so, one can’t help but notice all of the colorful, brightly printed fashions on the teevee screen. So to cheer us fashion lovers up, here are some bright and fun winter fashions as brought to you by the CW!

First up- a little Hart of Dixie:

hartofdixiescreencaps

Then, a little more Hart of Dixie (I love how everyone, even the males and older cast members, are styled on this show)

hartofdixiescreencaps2

and then a little Carrie Diaries:

carriescreenshots

After seeing all of these bright colors, fun prints, and girlie accessories, what’s a not so rich girl to do? Well, I ended up at Target and Macy’s finding some super clearance items (a neon sweater for $8, a retro cardi for $6, and a pop art tank top for $4).

so what is next in for this pauper in search of some prints? I have to admit although I don’t always get that excited about high-low designer collaborations, I just saw this¬†upcoming collection and I am super excited. Take a look!

Peter Pilotto

http://fashionista.com/2014/01/peter-pilotto-target-lookbook/

Do you ever feel like bright colors or fun accessories (clothes, home decor, flowers, etc) cheer you up in the winter? What are your stay-cheery winter tricks?

Meri

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My case of Homeopathy vs. Anxiety

Those of you who know me know that I am currently studying (classical) homeopathy. A lot of peoples’ first question (after, “wait, what is homeopathy?”which I covered a bit here) is inevitably, “How did you get into homeopathy?”

It is a worthy question, and one I will answer at length some day (because I think it is important for me to share my opinions on medicine and health in general, and my feelings might surprise people), but it is not the purpose of today’s post.

Today’s post is my own personal experience with homeopathy, specifically with the impact it had on my symptoms of anxiety.

First off, I happen to work in the mental health field currently, so I understand well the range of meanings that “anxiety” can mean in this world. I also understand and believe that every person’s experience with health of any kind is very individualized. Thus, I’ll break down for you my specific experience and symptoms:

  • Repetitive, compulsive, and relentless negative thoughts and worries centered around my physical health (usually related to my previous emergency surgeries but also frequently about other “diseases” that I would come into contact with in the context of working with kids and families). This worry started just with me and then started to extend to worrying about loved ones’ health and a few other areas of worry including driving and the weather.
  • Unexpected and frequent crying, edginess and irritability
  • Irrational beliefs that wouldn’t go out of my head

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, I would like to add a second little “disclaimer” to make clear that I don’t have judgmental feelings about other peoples’ choices about how they handle their own personal health (mental, physical, etc.) I can’t say I never judge others because I don’t think that is honest or accurate, but I do believe that each person should make their own decisions about their own health and the health of their dependents.¬†I am not opposed to pharmaceutical drugs, other alternative treatments, or the various forms of therapy that exist to treat anxiety or other symptoms of dis-ease.

Okay, now that we have all of that out of the way, what the HELL is this post trying to get at, anyway?

Well, there is a lot of negative press happening about homeopathy these days. For those of you that haven’t already shrieked “witchery! paranormal NONSCIENCE!!!” at your screen yet (and yes, those are real things I have read about something I feel very passionately about and continue to study), here is my own personal experience. Keep in mind that I try my best every day not to judge others who act in ways I currently believe are not the healthiest.

I do not have the physics background to even WANT to attempt to understand what was happening scientifically/ energetically/ medicinally/ chemically, but I DO have the ability and interest to share my personal experience. Why do I feel compelled to do so? Not to try to “sell” anyone on what I’m studying, but because ¬†because at the risk of sounding like a total nut, it was amazing, and if I have the opportunity to relieve a single person from feeling the way I have felt, it is beyond worth it. Here goes:

Meri vs. the Anxiety

TWICE in the past year I have had overnight, life altering reactions to taking a constitutional (as opposed to acute) homeopathically prescribed remedy. We’re talking one day I am almost constantly worrying, can’t concentrate on anything and am throwing things out/ laundering/ ¬†crying/ being a general lunatic as a response to my tortured state, and the next day (literally! and I don’t use that word often) feeling like “myself.”

Over. Night. Reactions.

The first time, I shared my symptoms listed above in my initial visit with my homeopath. I kind of thought my reaction could even be a fluke, since I had also discontinued taking hormonal birth control recently, and I didn’t really know which caused the dramatic reaction. I didn’t give a lick because it was gone!¬†This was back in February of 2013.

I felt only day to day feelings of anxiety until fall of 2013. After several external stressors in my life started to build up, I was presented ¬†with another health trigger that I was pretty sure would drive me crazy (I do have man-go-round as a witness to the magnitude of this; I did try to keep it under wraps around others). I called my homeopath and she quickly told me to take another dose (to be clear this was not my second dose, I had repeated doses of the remedy in between, but it was the first time I had felt strong anxiety symptoms since that initial dose). Again, within 24 hours I was feeling like “myself” again.

boxing2

 

via

The only way I can describe the feeling is that I suddenly felt like the layers of adult BS had been peeled off, a veil of darkness taken off, and I was feeling like I hadn’t felt in years. While my own experience with anxiety was fairly moderate for 5-6 years and then suddenly became much stronger after a few very stressful life events, being treated homeopathically truly made me feel in control of my health again, and like I was finally just free to be me. It has now been almost two months since that dose and I continue to feel pretty peachy and content each day (despite cold and flu season, an old-me trigger)

That is most likely not the last “round” of my fight against “anxiety,” but it is where we place the bookmark for today.

If you skimmed to the end, here is the gist and the most important point:

I don’t care if you “believe” in homeopathy. I know it is a lot to accept if you are used to black and white thinking, and the status quo of medicine. I don’t “believe” in a lot of things, but I do use and benefit from them anyway. I truly believe homeopathy can do a lot of good for people both in acute situations (thank you arnica!!) and in deeper chronic conditions (like my story in this post).

I don’t care if any of you ever tries homeopathy (or any other thing I feel is beneficial for the body and soul), but I hope you will at least keep an open mind and not believe the first slander you hear. I’m still open to the wonders of the world, and I invite the world to keep learning and exploring with me every day.

Please do comment or contact me if you have any questions or an experience with homeopathy, anxiety, etc. This blog will always be a safe place to share any experiences!

Meri

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Let ‘er Ripen!

I’m back after an unexpected hiatus from this blog¬†(school, work, family, hobbies… it’s a busy busy bee world out there) to share some of my recent google-fueled culinary exploits.

As winter drones on (and it’s just barely begun) with gray and cold everywhere I look… I get excited to see exotic, tropical fruits adorning the walls at my farmer’s market finds local Cub Foods or co-op.

For¬†a recent shared¬†birthday, my co-workers and I planned a “fruits from around the world” party in our office since they know how fruity I am. I decided to take this opportunity to bring in an exotic (to me, but probably¬† not to those in desert climates) find…

Fruit #1: the green cactus pear:

cactus pear

 via

So there you have the shiny store-bought version. I had no idea what to do with it once I purchased it, so after a quick youtube search and a few videos watched, I sawed into it with gusto. For this guy, you basically start cutting into it, then unpeel it easily, almost like a hard-cooked egg or an orange, and slice.

IMG_1431

Verdict? Delicious fruit. Can’t stand the (edible, but very present) seeds. I chose to spit them out as I ate, making this a tedious and not very graceful way to have a snack (I have a similar problem when I eat pomegranate seeds, so I’m probably missing out on a lot of good fiber). Would I buy again? Probably not. But if I’m ever starving in a desert land and I come across one of these, I’ll be prepared.

At the end of the day, I considered this a victory (as anything compared to my experience with the horned melon has to be considered edible and good to eat). Based on this confidence, I struck again with a fruit I had always seen but never known how to prepare:

Fruit #2- the hachiya persimmon

persimmon

via

After a quick google (I always check up on new-to-me foods to make sure all parts are edible, as though I’m better off entrusting my health to the trolls lurking on the web), I found that this one is actually ridiculously easy to eat/ prepare. The important part here is to let it ripen to fully soft (which I hastened by letting it comingle with a honeycrisp in a paper bag for 2 days)… and then just cut off the top and slice any way you like (the skin is edible).

persimmon

Verdict? Quite tasty, and definitely easy. It reminded me a bit of a nectarine or plum. Very pretty color!

So what is the moral of this story? Buying a new food can be a gamble, but what would life be like if we never tried new things? I say each new day is an opportunity for a new experience, whether big or small! Dig in!

What is the strangest fruit or food you have ever tried? Did you regret it or are you glad you did?

Meri

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They were ALL THAT… and more

Nope, it’s not a post about the Nickelodeon SNL-for-tweens show All That. Maybe another day.

Today I bring you a little reunion of sorts, for those of us born in the 80s who remember this classic 1999 film:

she's all that

source

Zimbio created this “where are they now” about the many stars of She’s All That. It appears to be a year or two old, but it is still a fun stroll/ scroll down memory lane.

For EVEN MORE fun (can you dig it?), here are a few of my other late 90’s faves to complete our blast from the past today…

  • Blast from the Past (just thought of this one as I was typing that last sentence) starring Alicia Silverstone and Brendan Fraser. If you’ve not seen it, you must. I think this was maybe one of Alicia’s first not playing a teenager, in fact.
  • Drive Me Crazy starring the likes of Melissa Joan Hart and Adrien Grenier. There is (SPOILER ALERT) some weird brother-sister-ness about their relationship at the end of the film, but at least it includes Britney’s best ever as the theme song/ titular inspiration. It also has the snarky friend from 10 things I hate about you (Kat’s best friend who is in love with Shakespeare…)
  • Can’t Hardly Wait: This gem stars J Love Hewitt (see “The Client List and “Party of 5” if you need a reference), Ethan Embry (remember him?) and even Seth Green and Melissa Joan Hart (do we sense a theme here?). Shoutouts to Lauren Ambrose (Six feet under) for being hella obnoxious, and also Federico from Six Feet Under as a random jock.
  • Pleasantville: Now this is truly a great film, but teenagers “accidentally” saw it in droves because it had that hottie Paul Walker and everybody’s imaginary BFF (pre DUI tarnish) Reese Witherspoon. I love William H Macy in this flick “Where’s my DINNER?”
  • Ever After: Of all of the inane Cinderella remakes, this one was one of my favorites- Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, and a random guy that was so hot that I looked him up and learned his name- it is Dougray Scott.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: Perhaps not as popular as some of the others, but I gotta give a shoutout to this film for being set/ shot in my homestate of MN. I can’t even choose who is funnier in this movie, Kirstie Alley or Ellen Barkin. It also stars Denise Richards, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams (I had forgotten), and Brittany Murphy. 10 points for gryffindor satire!

I will surely devote another day to mid nineties films (Now and Then anyone?) and Early 2000s films (too soon), but today let’s be happy to party like its watch movies like its 1999!

What films do you remember watching as a teen/ tweenager? Do you remember these movies? Who was your favorite teen movie celeb? (I personally claim Paul Walker, there are notebooks in my closet plastered with him for evidence).

Meri

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Surfin’ Photo Safari

For Christmas this past year my sister and her husband bought man-go-round and I a gift certificate for a night time “photo safari” from Midwest Photo Safari in order to learn a bit more about how to use our cameras, and to learn more about night photography also.

The site we chose was down by the mighty Mississippi underneath the Stone Arch bridge overlooking Minneapolis’ skyline. We learned about ISO, F-stops, white balance, composition, tungsten, and a whole lot more that I probably will be calling by the wrong name for time immemorial. I was also excited to learn a few ways to do things with shortcuts on our camera. The best part of all is that we had the most beautiful summer evening for shooting.

What you see below is a compilation of both our digital SLR and my digital point and shoot camera. We rented a nice tripod and got some really great shots, but some of my favorite ones were shot with my point and shoot, and I just liked the graphic quality of them, so I included those below (anyone can google a perfect image of the minneapolis skyline, but I like seeing it from me or man-go-round’s perspective).

Meri's Midwest Photo Safari If you live in the area and want to have fun taking photos while learning a bit more about photography or your individual camera, check this company (a charming local husband and wife team) out!

What is your favorite type of photography? Portraits? landscapes? flowers and macro images? Bridges and skylines?

Meri

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SOUP there it is…..

I know now that it is summer (well, technically it is still spring until next weekend, but the weather has finally arrived), nobody wants to think about soup.

Except me. I love soup, and ¬†I love to make it “partially from scratch” and vary it as much as I please from day to day.

soup there it isSo if you are a nutjob like me who eats hot food even in the summer, here are some ideas to get you going:

1) Start with a good broth or stock (bear with me- I always forget which is which). I am not in the habit of making my own stocks or broths, so I buy mine in the carton, usually Full Circle’s Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth. I also like Pacific’s Mushroom stock and chicken stock

2) Add some veggies. My favorites are:

  • fresh celery
  • fresh carrots
  • fresh mushrooms
  • fresh onions
  • fresh peppers
  • fresh zucchini or summer squash
  • packaged mann’s rainbow salad
  • fresh broccoli/ cauliflower
  • frozen okra
  • frozen veggie mixes
  • and if I’m really desperate, canned green beans (man why do I love these so much, they are so mushy but I just love them… okay if I’m honest it is probably the sodium).

3) Add some protein/fiber. I like the cartons of low sodium beans from Whole foods (black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, garbanzo beans) or frozen edamame

4) Add a starch. Some of my favorites are sweet potato (pictured, above), quinoa, tofu noodles, and barley. On lazy days I sometimes even use the 365 brand frozen white quinoa, but it is really a rip off money-wise.

5) Season season season! Here is my list of herbs (I use¬†Penzey’s dried spices for the most part):

  • salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • turmeric
  • dill/oregano/basil (I usually choose just one of these)
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • sweet curry
  • occasionally dried cilantro

That is pretty much it. It takes me about 20-30 minutes which includes chopping veggies for the next day’s lunch while I’m at it. Sure, you can take some other short cuts, but I do enjoy the whole process and usually I’m having a good time in the kitchen while I’m at it- listening to David Bowie or Ben Folds, having a tasty beverage, and joking around with Man-Go-Round.

Do you like to make your own soups? What are your favorite kinds of soup? Do you eat hot foods in the summer or save them for the colder seasons? Do tell!

Meri

 

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The Real Disney Princesses…

So lately I’ve been hearing a lot about the Disney Princess brand/ franchise. First it was all of the crap in the Target dollar bins, then it was some article about Macy’s making Minnie Mouse super skinny and the scandal surrounding that. Finally, I read an article about the backlash of the powers that be at Disney “prettying up” Merida, the heroine from Brave, in their appropriation of the splendid Scottish lassie for their own use.

It made me think. Sure, I loved Ariel and Belle and the rest of the gang (Aurora and her freaking color changing dress? Us little girls didn’t really stand a chance). What stood out to me more, though, was the “real life” ladies I watched on the larger than life Disney channel- and so now I will take you on a trip down memory lane to see who else lived for these “real” gals (okay, so some were really just live action characters, but work with me…)

1. Princess Nadia Comaneci

I am embarrassed to admit that I still don’t really know the real facts about this Olympian. Until about 10 years ago I thought her name was “Nadia ComanEECH.” What I ¬†have drilled into my brain, however, are countless quotations from Disney’s biopic about the famous gymnast and her many struggles. I thought Bela Caroli looked like Scott Baio and I didn’t understand why Tiadora (no idea who the hell she is) got the shaft most of the time. I also didn’t understand why Nadia couldn’t eat ice cream (obviously I was not a competitive athlete). All I know is that this movie inspired my sisters and I to whip our barbie dolls around in “gymnastic competitions” for years to come thanks to this gem.

2. Princess Alexia Wheaton

Okay, go ahead and pretend you’ve never seen the movie, “Wish Upon A Star,” starring a young Katherine Heigl. Sure, she was kind of a Biznotch, but I always identified with the glam older sister in this freaky friday style romp. It inspired me to buy some atrocious frosted lavender lipstick. You can find it now streaming on Netflix…

wish

 

source

3. Princesses Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills

Why is she two? Because of the Parent Trap, obvs! I have to say it breaks my heart a bit to hear kids talk about the Lindsey Lohan remake like it has anything to do with the original. Sure, I’m charmed by the new one, and I LOVE that they named the bitchy stepmom Meredith… but it doesn’t really compare to “lets get together, yeah yeah yeah…” Oh man now I want to watch this one.

and finally….

4. Princess Sonora Webster

If you haven’t seen “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken,” you have some homework to do right now. If for no other reason, the super duper dreamy love interest is played by Sixteen Candles’ Jake Ryan (anyone know his real name? What the dickens happened to him anyway?) Sonora Webster was a total badass, and to this very day I want to travel back to depression era circuses to relive her glamour. And to put that damn Marie in her place. Also, whatshisface’s mullet is MASTERFUL, my friends…

sonora

 

source

Did you grow up loving Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine or Nadia, Hayley, and Sonora? Or are you a youngun who loves Tiana and Merida too?

Princess Meri

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