Friday, January 28, 2011


As of this moment, this blog has received 999 pageviews. So, if you happen to be reading this shortly after the time stamp on this post, chances are YOU ARE THE ONE THOUSANDTH VISITOR TO THIS SITE!!!

If you think this may be you, holler back. I'll think of some special way to recognize your specialness.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has made this moment possible. Really. Truly. Thank you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grounds for Consideration

Due to the burgeoning accessibility of coffee houses that we enjoy here in the United States, I have no shortage of kitschy puns at my disposal with which to colorize the word "grounds." However, in order to spare my readers the burdensome obligation of rolling their eyes repeatedly as they scan the following article, I'm limiting my punning to the title of this post.

Yesterday, Ashley alerted my attention to a recent post from Grace at Design*Sponge. The article details a few creative ways to put old food scraps to creative use.

I was pleased that Ashley thought to share this article with me. For one thing, the fact that she thought of me when she read it indicates that she is a friend who knows me well and who understands that I derive great pleasure from that which is frugal, that which is natural, that which is resourceful. It feels good to be known.

The article was also met with enthusiasm on my part due to its highlighting of one of the potential re-uses of coffee grounds: as an odor absorber in the fridge. I was already aware that coffee grounds could be used as a nitrogen fertilizer in the garden, or as a skin exfoliant, and a quick Google search revealed a plethora of creative methods of repurposing the coffee grounds we might otherwise simply be tossing in the waste bin every morning.

Inspired, I got to the kitchen and quickly whipped up a batch of homemade body scrub. The ingredients:
about half a cup of used coffee grounds, cooled to room temperature
about one tablespoon of brown sugar
a tablespoon or so each of coconut oil and olive oil
a teeny tiny dash of vanilla extract
I took the mixture to the bathroom with me and added a dash of castor oil and a couple drops of lavender essential oil for good measure. At this point, the mixture smelled fantastic. I took it into the shower with me and rubbed it all over my body, focusing on my legs. Reportedly, coffee grounds have potentially beneficial effects on cellulite and varicose veins--two areas I'm not apposed to accepting a little help in.

Naturally, the process was incredibly messy (oh well: I needed to clean my shower anyway); but, me-oh-my, it left my skin looking and feeling awesome (a word I don't just throw around lightly, folks). The amounts I described above left me with roughly enough body scrub for three showers. The oil acts as a preservative, so you don't have to worry about the coffee grounds starting to mold.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I'm highly addicted to checking the "Stats" page for my blog. I recently discovered this feature and get very excited each time I learn something new about the people who are viewing this site. For example, a week or so ago I was delighted by the information that someone had just happened upon my blog while running a search for the term, "how much days is 9999 hours." If you Google this term, without the quotation marks, you will find an earlier post from this blog displayed on the first page of results! I don't even care if it takes some ridiculously poor grammar to get there. I'm proud.

What's more, I was pleased to learn that, on two separate occasions, someone had searched for the term "wrap wars" and come across my Christmas wrapping paper-themed post of the same title. Go ahead: plug it into a Google search. Currently, it's result number three (not counting the Youtube videos)!

I think the most exciting statistical information regarding my blog, however, is the information detailing the different countries my viewers are from. The figures from countries where I know I don't know anybody are the most satisfying to see. In just this last month, I've enjoyed nine page views from Malaysia! I don't know anybody in Malaysia! What fun!

From deductive reasoning, I've discerned that I have one fairly regular Canadian viewer who accesses my site via his or her iPhone. I want to give a shout out to my iPhone-toting Canadian supporter. If in fact you do exist--and are not simply a coincidental synchrony of statistical figures--know this: I am grateful for you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Check out banner, Michael!

In just one week, Lindsay and Michael are getting married! Mike has been like a brother to me for years now and I'm overjoyed that he is finally going to be part of my family.

I'm also having a grand old time creating gilding, garnish, and assorted knick-knackery to decorate the house for the reception. I've already made yards of button garlands for adorning doorways, bookshelves, and table ends. And I'm in the process of making mini banners--bearing captions such as "Welcome," "Hooray For Love," and "Toilet"--to hang in various places throughout the house.

I'm looking forward to sharing more of my crafting creations for the wedding after the big day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Skills! know, like, nunchuku skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills...

No, but seriously.

I enjoy dabbling in a wide array of activities and pastimes. I think of myself as a fairly well-rounded person. I mean, just look at my bio right there in the right-hand sidebar: clearly, I'm not short on interests and enterprises. But lately I've been feeling a bit as though I'm stuck in a rut. And it is in an effort to pull myself out of said rut that I am hereby declaring the month of February to be

Skills Month

Since February divides so nice and evenly into four weeks, I have determined to acquire four entirely new skills within the month, roughly one per week.

I already have the skill for week one all picked out:
1. Learn how to use my camera.
I have owned my Nikon D40 digital SLR for nearly two years now, but have never even cracked the user's manual. There are several functions to the device that I have absolutely no clue how to perform. To make matters worse, I know pretty much nothing about photography. So, my first mission for the first week of February is to fully familiarize myself with my camera and learn how to use it better.

But, as far as pre-assigning a different skill for each week is concerned, that's as far as I've gotten.

This is where you come in.

I've got lots of ideas for stuff I can't do now that I would like to be able to do. But I can't make up my mind which (if any) should become my mission for week two of Skills Month. If you, the reader, are so inclined (and I hope you are), use the handy voting tool at the bottom of this post to vote for which skill you think I need to work on this February. Or, if you have an even better idea than the ones I've listed, click "other" and leave your suggestion in the comments section of this post.

Furthermore, I don't want to embark on this exciting, albeit risky, endeavor without inviting others to get involved. If you want to brush up on your skills, join me in commemorating Skills Month this February! If you need some help getting started with a game plan, I'd be more than happy to help you brainstorm for ideas.

In February, I'm going to learn...
how to quilt
how to change my own engine oil
fifty new words
basic html
other (enter your suggestion in the comments section below) free polls

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chocolate Cake. Period.

Remember the scene from the movie Matilda, based on the children's classic by Roald Dahl? The one where the evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, punishes a kid by forcing him to eat an enormous chocolate cake in one sitting? If you ever saw this film as a kid, I'm sure you're rolling your eyes right now and muttering, "Duh. Of course I remember."

Now, remember--despite the fact that the scene was supposed to be gross--how delicious that cake looked? As a child, I didn't even like cake. But when I saw that colossal confection, my mouth watered.

Today I am pleased to share with you a recipe that was inspired by that iconic depiction of decadent deliciousness. Apparently, there is a Roald Dahl cookbook where you can find a more official recipe for "Bruce Bogtrotter's Cake," but my version, which I formulated several years ago, just happens to be vegan. It is also rich, moist, and basically everything the perfect chocolate cake is meant to be.

The Perfect Chocolate Cake (which just happens to be vegan)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 (6 oz.) container plain soy yogurt, plain or vanilla (I use Whole Soy & Co.)
  • 1 cup soy milk or rice milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot water
  • chocolate frosting (recipe below)


1. Lightly grease two 9-inch round spring-form cake pans. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Sift all dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the soy yogurt, soy milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk vigorously until there are no clumps and the batter is smooth.

3. Boil some water. Measure out 1 cup and slowly pour it into the batter as you stir. The batter will be thin.

4. Pour equal amounts into the two cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan margarine
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Melt margarine in a saucepan over low heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until completely blended.

2. Remove from heat. Alternately add powdered sugar and soy milk, until completely incorporated. Mix in vanilla extract.

3. If a creamier frosting is desired, add a teensy bit more soy milk.

4. Frost cake and enjoy immediately. Fresh frosting is the best frosting.

Friends, enjoy! And pour yourself a tall glass of soy milk: you're gonna need it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Charlotte's Elephant

I made a little elephant and gave it to an old friend from church who is expecting her first child--a girl--at the end of this month. I hope that baby Charlotte will enjoy snuggling with it as much as I did for the two short days that I had it in my possession.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"Love Naturally"

I can't think of an excuse to share this video, other than that I love it.

It in no way represents what my life was like when I lived in Japan.

But, oh, how I wish it did!

Friday, January 7, 2011


Yesterday my mother and I spent literally the entire day shopping. To some this may sound like fun and, actually, for a little while, it is. But my mom approaches shopping as one might approach the Iron Man triathlon: as soon as you're finished with one shop, power through to the next; no breaks until we've hit every last thrift store and consignment shop in the North Park/University Heights/Normal Heights and Point Loma sectors of the city of San Diego. Around mid-afternoon, when I realize that we're skipping lunch, it ceases to be a pleasurable outing with my mom and becomes a brutal task we must carry out to its bitter end.

We were searching for a dresser. Lindsay laid claim to the one in my room months ago, intending to move it into her future married-person apartment; and since she and her fiancé had, as of last week, found a place, it was time for me to procure a new receptacle to hold my clothes and loose papers.

It was at our final stop for the evening--the Salvation Army in Point Loma--that I at last spied a piece of furniture that that got passing marks across the board in appearance, functionality, and price. At this point in the evening, it was difficult to tell if I was simply at last settling for something that was no more outstanding than half a dozen other dressers I had looked at that day. Still, the dresser was paid for and my mom and I returned to the shop today to pick it up. It's now sitting beside me as I type these words, and I must say I'm tremendously pleased with this purchase. Its ample drawer space has solved all my former storage problems and it's just a solid, attractive piece of furniture.

Finally being able to store in drawers some items that, for the past four months, had been sitting in brown paper bags at the foot of my bed, inspired me to get even more organized in ways that I've never been organized before. I made a rack to hold and display my earrings, a vast improvement on the clump they'd been sitting in in a bag for the last five years.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Plans Change

When it comes to new year's resolutions, I have a pretty solid track record: every December 31, I make a handful of them and then, come February, I've completely forgotten what it was I was so resolved to do. It must be my subconscious refusing to subject me to such an essentially self-berating ritual. I mean, isn't a list of new year's resolutions just an ugly reminder of all the things I ought to be doing anyway but guiltily avoid because I just don't feel like doing them?

So this year I'm going easy on myself. Yes, I'm still going to make some resolutions (I can't help it! I love traditions!), but none of the goals/personal challenges listed below fall under the category of "things I'm not doing now that I ought to be doing." And perhaps the act of writing them out and posting them in a public place will extend my memory's longevity at least until spring.

In 2011, I'm not going to cut my hair.
Okay, I might get a little haircut some time this month so that I don't look too scruffy for my sister's wedding, but after that, it's gonna be au naturel.

I won't purchase any clothes. That includes shoes and hair accessories. I did this once before and I found it to be a refreshing furlough from my usual patterns of consumerism as well as a healthy reminder that having new clothes on a regular basis is not a necessity but a luxury. It also encourages me to be more creative with what I already have.

I will maintain a regular exercise routine. This sounds like the most cliché of sure-fail new year's resolutions, but I'm including it because it's something that I've already implemented. A week and a half ago, I purchased a membership at a local gym and I've been meeting with a trainer to learn how to structure my workouts and how to use the entirely unfamiliar exercise equipment. It's been fun and I'm determined to stick with it.

For now, I'm satisfied to leave it at just these three resolutions. I am intentionally avoiding making any specific educational or vocational goals at this time. Two months ago, I wrote out a Plan (the details of which I judiciously declined to publicly announce) that I believed would carry me through the month of March and beyond. I followed the guidelines of that plan for November and December when I sought out seasonal employment with UPS, but, somewhere along the way, I realized that the next segment of the plan--the part where I start laying the groundwork for my Future--just didn't feel right. I'm just not ready to commit tens of thousands of dollars to an educational endeavor that I don't feel at least a little more excited and confident about. So I'm not going to go to graduate school. At least not yet. Phew. Glad I got that out of the way.

But I do have some other ideas and I spy new potential pursuits on the horizon. Some of them do pertain to my Future but mostly they are concerned with my present situation; which is actually pretty exciting because, for just about as long as I can remember, my personal perception of spacetime has been focused on just about anywhere and anytime except for here and now.

This is not to say that anything big has happened or any momentous change has taken place. I'm very quick to have a sudden novel idea and then tout it confidently as my raison d'etre, only to later regret having made such bold and underresearched claims about myself. I'm just going to keep on living, doing stuff, making stuff, and--as far as my capacity for self-motivation will permit--writing about it on this blog.