Question-Master: Reader Appreciation

When I was in college some people I knew would jokingly call me the Question-Master because I …. ask a lot of questions. Not the annoying, “Why? why? why?” ones… or even because I needed constant explanation, but because I was/am genuinely curious about people, situations, etc etc. Sometimes I feel myself doing this at work. I want to know what people think about a situation, I want to know how xyz makes them feel, I want to know the history of a situation. I want to know everything.

When I was dating, I had a way of handling first dates that kept new boys at bay without them even realizing it. I would spend the whole first and second dates asking them about themselves. I really wanted to know lots of things, and the conversations were great, but it also meant I didn’t have to divulge very much about me. I was entertained, they felt appreciated, and I could take that information back home with me and mull it over in peace. I like to know about people, I like to know what people think about things and what their experiences are – especially if they are different from mine.

So! Today is all about you! This isn’t a survey on how I can make this space more interesting, these are some questions that I am curious about because I think they are fun but I also really want to hear what you have to say. I know I am asking/hoping for participation and not everyone is into that – but even if you don’t usually comment, I would really like to hear from you. And if you don’t have time, come back to it tomorrow. This post will be up at the top on Friday as well.

Question-Master Time: 

  • Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
  • Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
  • What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
  • How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
  • What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
  • What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
  • Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
  • And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

I really appreciate the generosity of your time spent here, your thoughtfulness when I ask for advice, and your kindness when I overshare. I care about who you are and what you think and please know that I always read every single comment, even if I don’t respond to every single one. And I read every single email and facebook message, even if I don’t have a chance (or just chronically forget, because I suck) to reply to them. So thank you! This is your space today! I am ridiculously excited to hear from you.

144 thoughts on “Question-Master: Reader Appreciation”

  1. Oh wow Lauren, you and I really are twin sisters or soul mates or something. At university they had this Oscar-kind of awards, and guess which one I won? I won the “Any other question award”. It’s a green miss-universe style band, I can show it to you if you want. My mom used to say I should go work for the FBI, what with all the questions I constantly asked everyone, all the time. (Sometimes I also think I should have gone into journalism).

    Anyhow, here goes:

    -Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    Mmm no I don’t think I want to stay here forever, though I *could* and be perfectly happy too if we stayed. I also don’t have a definitive place I would like to go (of course going back to Mexico is always on my mind), I think along with the travel bug, we would like to actually live in different countries. Sometimes we dream of opening a bed&breakfast / cafe in the South of France or some exotic country like Vietnam.

    -Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    Yeah, I try to bake and try and experiment on any occasion I get. I am also planning on starting to paint again (something I did all through junior high and high school, but never really took seriously.) The only thing is I wish I had more time for reading. I feel like the days just go too fast.

    -What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    I am currently obsessed with Mayi Carles planners, paper goods and organizing tools, they are just so cute. And I am discovering that contrary to my previous smug and stubborn belief, agendas and lists are actually very helpful to keep me on track, as are deadlines.

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/mayicarles

    Also, it’s not independent but I am crazy about Paperchase.

    http://www.paperchase.co.uk/

    -How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    Hmmm well I am not sure if it is the recession (though it has to be) or my particular circumstances (not having studied in NL), but I have not been able to work in my field since I graduated in 2009. It must have to do with all of the overqualified people that are in the job market along with us “newbies”.

    -What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    I would say eggplant (aubergine). Zucchini comes close second. I am crazy about aubergine parmisana , and I also love Ratatouille which includes both.

    http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/aubergine-parmigiana-melanzane-alla-parmigiana

    http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2903/ratatouille

    Oh and while we’re at it, kolokitho keftedes, greek courgette-feta-herbs balls with tzatziki make me dream.

    http://www.cookyourdream.com/2010/09/courgette-fritters-with-feta.html

    -What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    Mmm the travels we have booked… already 2 this year, starting with London this weekend, along with a cake-decorating class… The prospect of starting my own business… the hope that this year things will happen.

    -Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Umm ok this is going to be sensitive and I hope not to offend anyone. I saw a comment at a blog that I should not be reading because that kind of comments always make me upset, where a girl said that if she had known her baby was going to be born with a disease, she “had no business getting pregnant”. It really really hurt me for all kinds of reasons, mostly because we are struggling to conceive, but also because you do not love people who are sick any less than people who are healthy, let alone helpless babies in need / pain that are your own. I found the comment disturbing, it made me go to bed angry and crying, Mark had to calm down, because you can’t possibly be a mature, responsible adult going into a planned pregnancy and not at least be a teeny bit prepared for things to be different than you expect. That is why we hope. That is why this is such an unknown, scary, terrifying land, because you have no idea what you’re in for.

    -And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?
    If you would have to choose the 5 books that made you you, or that you would take to a deserted island, your absolute favorites, that you can re-read over and over again, which would those be?

    1. Possibly starting your own business?!! Eeee! That is so exciting!!! Plus I am also excited for your travels. YAY!

      Ok! 5 books that made me me and that I could re read forever. Ahh! this is hard! I am not a big re-reader because I remember plot very, very well. But here goes:

      1) Pride and prejudice
      2) Any book of poetry by Sharon Olds
      3) Jane Eyre
      4) Cat’s Eye
      5) Moral Disorder

  2. – I’m living in the place that I need to be now, but not where I want to be forever. In my heart I want to be in the pacific north west. But I’d settle for anywhere beautiful, with lush green ness and pretty fields and trees and nature. Living in CT is working fine for now, but living here forever would kill my soul. I’m glad my husband feels the same way I do.
    – Yes-ish? My passions tend to ebb and flow. The past bunch of months has been so consumed with moving and holidays that I haven’t felt very passionate about anything but having my life return to “normal”. I’m passionate about getting stronger, so I make that a priority. I’m passionate about good books, so I read for at least 45 min 5 days a week at lunch. Other than that, when something strikes my fancy, I go at it until it’s a) completed, or I am b) tired of it/exhausted. I feel like I have a good balance with these things.
    – I wish I had a favorite independent clothing store, but I don’t. Instead, I have a favorite independent dog food store! http://www.thomastonfeed.com/ I get all my dogs food and treats there. They are friendly, and knowledgeable people. I recommend them!!
    – We were able to make it through the recession ok. My husband lost his job though, and the mental stress of always looking/applying and never hearing back or getting hired was hard on both of us. Money wise we weren’t impacted too much, luckily. But stress wise we were over flowing at certain points. I’m glad we made it through though and are now on the other side of that.
    – Veggies!!!! In the past 2 months or so, I have taken to roasting almost every single veggie that I eat. Now when I eat them unroasted, it leaves me feeling blah. On Saturday I roast up green beans, brussel sprouts, carrots, eggplant and broccoli (with salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic powder) for my lunches during the week. And every day I am amazed at how delicious it is!
    – My upcoming date with my husband on Saturday. Again, with the move and holidays, and flu that we have both braved, I’ve been feeling…distant lately. So the other night I came home from work and declared Saturday Date Day, and wrote it on the calendar in big letters with red sharpie. Trying to decide between duckpin bowling or going to an all day board game happening that we’ve never been to before. Maybe both! It will be fun either way.
    – I ranted about co-workers. This is not new though. I feel like if I rant and get it out of the way, then I can be much nicer on an overall basis. Small office, big personalities.
    – If you could be an animal, what animal would you be, and why?

    Thank you for always being honest with all of us out here in internet land. It’s refreshing. In a time where you can sugar coat and filter and make every day life seem to beautiful for words, I’m glad to know that I can turn to your blog and find posts that will make me think, and laugh, and examine how I feel about things in a way I might not have thought about before. You’re pretty awesome!

    1. Wait – an ALL day board game event?? What kind of board games? I want to go too! That is awesome! I need to google that ish immediately!! As an adult I discovered that twister is basically pilates by colors and should only be attempted after several drinks. The day after soreness is a sight to behold! *tangent*

      If I could be any animal I would be a Lioness because they are BAD ASS. But I think my favorite animal to watch are giraffes. I have a long outstanding dream of watching two giraffes fuck. So far, zoos have let me down. I wonder if they keep the boys and girls separate? Hmm… that would be very disappointing.

      1. HAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!! Two giraffes fucking! It is 6am…and you just made my day with that!

        Also, the all day board game thing is part of http://connecticon.org/ (which I just found out existed)! It’s a convention in July, but they do a board game day the third Saturday of every month. It has made me VERY excited! Especially since I have always wanted to attend some type on Con. I’m going to start dreaming up/preparing a costume asap (there’s one of those crazy passions you wanted to know about – I love costumes, and any chance I have to make/wear one I will)!

  3. -Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    Not at alllll. I live in New York, and while I have very good friends here, my boyfriend, and school, this is not where I want to be. I cannot wait to move back to California, specifically Oakland or Berkeley, but further north would do as well. I’m not sure when this can happen given that I want to do conservation biology, and I don’t know how much of that there is there. There’s mountain lions, though, so hopefully. Also, I want to go back to Africa for a good chunk of time. Perhaps not to live, but definitely to spend big chunks of time in. Also, Costa Rica.

    -Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    Unfortunately, no. Well. Sort of. I’m really really interested in all of my school stuff, so that sort of counts. But because I’m in school and trying to blaze through and keep straight A’s and all, I feel incredibly guilty if I’m reading for pleasure, and I don’t really have time for it. I also make little watercolors, and haven’t done that in far too long. There’s probably a way to balance all this, but I haven’t found it.

    -What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    Walden Pond Books in Oakland on Grand ave, also Arizmendi and the Cheeseboard, also in Oakland/Berkeley (if you haven’t visited this yet in your east bay travels, and want to plan a day, let me know, I have so many good suggestions for that area. And Arizmendi on Lakeshore has amazing pizza). The Book Juggler in Willits, CA (which is hands down the best used bookstore I’ve found). In terms of things I can link, here are some Etsy shops http://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanvadalsmith?ref=pr_faveshops http://www.etsy.com/shop/megjroberts?ref=pr_faveshops http://www.etsy.com/shop/lulubugjewelry?ref=pr_faveshops

    -How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    The recession is the reason I’m back in school and changing careers. I moved to New York to be a lighting designer for theater and dance. About a year after I got here, the recession hit and no one could afford to hire and assistant designer, and everything mid-low-budget that I could design kind of shrank, so there wasn’t enough of it, and they couldn’t pay me enough to survive. So I started doing more electrician work, and slowly felt more and more disconnected from theater, at the same time as I was watching more and more National Geographic, specifically Big Cat Diary (which really is one of the best shows ever) and thinking more and more that all I wanted to do was sit in a field and watch cheetahs run. So, now I”m back in school, working towards that, and trying to live at the same time. Since I’m not getting a higher degree than I already had yet, I don’t qualify for any financial aid. Yaaaaaay.

    -What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    Cucumbers, raw. Zuchinni, roasted or in bread. Bell peppers, raw or steamed or cooked in a pan with oil and onions. Kale, cooked in a pan with oil and a touch of japanese fish sauce.

    -What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    I stared at this one for a while and was like “oh noes. What does? This is a bad sign” but then I recovered, and remembered that I’ve been making a bunch of friends lately. I’m a bit of a hermit and terrible at keeping in touch and maintaining friendships even when I really like the people and think about them and how they’re doing. But so far this year, I’ve hung out with my best friend 3 times, had drinks and made more plans with a girl from my bio class who I really liked, and started hanging out before class and working out with a girl in my department. All of this awesome social interaction makes me pretty happy. Let’s hope I can sustain it.

    -Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    I don’t think I have out loud. Hmm. Possibly a little about my massive headache yesterday, but I think that was more of a whine than a rant.

    -And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?
    This is silly and small, but do you still have Stan the water frog? Because that part of your About always catches my eye as I’m scrolling, but you never mention him. Did he have to move to make way for Gabe preparations?

    1. I would really like to see some of your little watercolors. People who can make visual art fascinate me – as I am completely useless when it comes to putting anything but a pen to paper (and only in word form).

      Oh man… Stan the water frog!! Stan… is no longer with us. Kamel took it to work and possibly gave it away or did something with him that I am unaware of. And it was totally because of the baby coming and it was totally my fault. I couldn’t handle having the salmonella risk with cleaning out his tank and stuff. Which makes me feel like a bad person, but … it was overwhelming me. Staaaaaaaaaaaaaan! We will eventually get dog(s) and they will be less scary to care for. I do highly recommend frogs though! The are really funny and awesome to watch with little maintenance. 🙂

  4. Woooooo … here we go!

    • Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    No. But as it turns out, I may not have a choice about that … our location is dependent on Jon’s job. Darn him for choosing such a region specific career! If I had my way we’d end up somewhere in San Diego. I love that area more than any other.

    • Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    Right now … no. But that is also the nature of having a passion for theatre … sometimes you’re full up and can’t squeeze in a minute more, and sometimes there’s nothing. I know people who are in it non-stop (on top of having other jobs that pay their bills), but for me, the breaks are necessary to not overwhelm myself. And luckily, a new round of in-it-up-to-my-ears is coming soon!

    • What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    I’m a chain-store shopper. Banana, Loft, Anthro, J Crew etc. But I do love to find things on Etsy and from independent artists all over the place. One Little Star (linked by you!) is one of my recent favorite sellers. =)

    • How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    Right when the real estate market crashed (about a year after the housing market did … so, July 2008), I lost my job. It took about 6 months to find a temp position, and over a year (and a change in location) to find a permanent position. Which closed, thanks to the recession, less than a year later. Luckily, by then (March 2010) the real estate market was coming back, so it only took about a month to find a new position. While I never filed for unemployment during any of the breaks between jobs, we DID blow through our savings, and go a bit into debt. (Not much, but more than we’re super comfortable with.) Since then, while we’ve both been lucky enough to keep our jobs, advancement (raises and/or positions) has been super limited. Basically, it all conspires to keep us paying off debt slowly, not saving all that much, and renting instead of buying a home. But! We are paying all our bills, so it could be much, much worse.

    • What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Green beans! (They count as a veggie, right? I’m going with it.) I sear/steam them on the stove … add some butter (or margarine, if you’re going lighter … it’s delicious with either!) and olive oil to a cold pan, and slowly heat. Once that starts to melt a little, toss in the beans. Add a little more butter and/or olive oil, plus some sea salt (or whichever style of salt suits your fancy) over the top. Cover, and let cook for a bit (stirring occasionally to not burn the bottom). I let them get all the way through to being wilted, with a few slightly brown, but you can stop earlier if you prefer perfectly green. I also tend to use French green beans (thinner & darker) as they seem to have more flavor, but regular old garden green beans work just as well. Delicious!

    • What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    MY BED. The days have been so dreary lately (Seriously, the sun hasn’t been out from behind the solid cloud cover in 14 days. 14 DAYS. The weather guys have been giving interviews about it.) and it’s been getting so cold at night that I can’t wait to snuggle up and get comfy. Because seriously, this weather SUCKS (At least get cold enough to be crisp! Gosh!) and our bed is COMFORTABLE.

    • Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    Sadly, yes. Twice.

    The first one was about the NRA, because really, I have absolutely no respect for Wayne Lapierre, for the insane things he says, or for their president David Keene, for letting him speak. I mean, I’m for gun ownership. I realize the NRA is necessary and useful. But when it becomes “Haha, we’re the biggest, you can’t get anything done if we don’t want you to!” and calling for databases of those with mental illness, and threatening and pointing fingers and blah blah blah … they’ve lost any respect I could have had for them. Ugh. If anyone wants to talk about this I have MANY thoughts. As Jon said “See, you have a nuanced opinion on this. Most people don’t see it that way.”

    The second was about a dear friend’s wife. Coming down to it, I don’t like her. Period. Unfortunately she pops up on FB every now and then, and I want to punch her. Yesterday she posted about how the government is evil because they’re taking her money (She owned up to paying $700 in taxes last year. I about hit the floor with how low that number was.) to pay for the “lazy bitch” who was sitting next to her in her OB’s office. Said “lazy bitch”? Disabled, unexpectedly pregnant, and super earnest (per my friend, who overheard her with her case worker) about keeping the baby healthy because she was giving her up for adoption and wanted to make sure she didn’t screw that up. ::sighs:: She posted later about how she misses being a hard ass, but getting older and “being married to J ;)” is making her sappy. (She regularly berates him for not being “manly” enough … aka for showing his feelings too much for her liking.) I just … can’t … with this girl. Can’t. Blargh.

    See? Rants. =P

    • And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?

    Hmm … because Gabe is on my mind … what is the biggest change you’re expecting, once he arrives? What are you looking forward to the most? What are you looking forward to the least?

    Ok, that was three-in-one. Deal. ::winks::

    1. I also have an insane love affair with my bed. Not so much with being pregnant…. because the whole sleeping experience is wonky, but MAN I LOVE MY BED. And I love not getting out of it. And I love crawling into it and ahhhh. I feel like sometimes it is my life raft so I am right there with you!!!

      Biggest change with Gabe: just adding a new person into our family. Not having it be just Kamel and I anymore. I am looking forward to playing with him and discovering his personality the most. I am NOT looking forward to having to sacrifice for another person. Which sound shitty, but honestly – how often is that awesome times? I will do it without a second thought but sometimes it fucking sucks to have to put another person’s needs above your own.

  5. -Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    Yes. But it’s not going to happen. We will probably retire to some beach paradise in Mexico turning retirement dollars to pesos.

    -Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    Yes! I love directing TV which consumes most of my day. The rest of my time is family, my first passion.

    -What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    http://www.fritanga.com (food, of course)
    I don’t know how much of an independent store is this one but I like it:

    http://www.uncommongoods.com

    -How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    Not at all, thank god. Of course there were massive layoffs in my company but most were administrative or higher management positions. Feb 24 will mark my 20th anniversary with Telemundo!

    -What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Pork meat. Well done.

    -What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    The imminent arrival of my grandson Gabriel!

    -Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    The fact that we shouldn’t be spending millions of dollars in an presidential inauguration when it’s a reelection. Most of the people I have asked about it agrees that we should be spending that money in more important issues like paying our educators better salaries. It should be like “Do you swear bla bla bla? Yes, I do! ok, now mr president, continue working.

    -And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?

    do you believe in angels?

  6. Fun idea, Lauren!

    • Home: Yes, I’m pretty sure eastern Long Island is the place for me. Ocean beaches, so much preserved land (woods! bays! swamps! bogs!), NYC close enough for day trips, and fresh, local food practically year round. But if I ever moved elsewhere, I’d like to live upstate in the Adirondacks, or in the desert southwest.
    • Passions: Not yet, and it’s not just a lack of time. Sheer laziness keeps me in bed when I could be exploring and taking pictures, and I’m starting to think my internet time-wasting is stealing my drive to make, write, learn and do. But I’ll eventually win this one, I think.
    • Indy Store: Tied: Hoptron Brewtique (beer brewing supply and tasting room); and Neptune Photo (camera and photography store)
    • Veggies! I love roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon & olive oil; roasted beet salad with sesame/peanut vinaigrette; and butternut squash au gratin. Last two recipes are from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters cookbook.
    • No. 1 Happy: Feeling like I’m meeting people who I can learn from, and who are passionate about the things I care about – i.e. like I’m getting closer to doing more of what I love with great people.
    • Rant: Are you ready? My rant this week was about people posting a million photos on Facebook of their boring baby. I’ll take all the smile-y, giggly, playful, or goofy-expressioned pics you can give me, but please, for the love of God, no more sleeping babies, or staring babies, or scared-looking babies. Except your baby. Your baby, I love.
    • Question for you: Best and worst haircuts you’ve ever had? (to be fair, my worst was in 4th-5th grade when I cut thick bangs and curled them like poodle fur, with otherwise long, straight hair. I just realized, it was kind of a mullet. Lord help me.)

    1. Oh man. Summer after 2nd grade my mom let me get my hair cut super short and it ended up growing in like a boy’s cut. Sure enough, first day of school in 3rd grade, a new kid was walking in behind me and said “hurry up Boy you’re in my way”. I was devastated!!!! It took a whole year to grow it back out.

    2. hahahahahahahahahaha the boring baby rant made me totally laugh out loud! hahaha… fucking people and their boring children and their boring need to document and share their boring children. At least dress them up in something funny for fucksake! I won’t let you down. There will not be a bajillion lame-o photos of my baby every which way. I can guarantee it.

      Ok… WORST HAIRCUT: when I first moved to SF I went to get a trim and try out a different salon for the first time in my whole life. And when I got there it was this super hip place that was also an art gallery, and it was super humid that day and I got lost and I was mildly sweaty and blah. I was wearing a track jacket and jeans and was not cool enough to even be in the neighborhood, but there I was. The whole time the stupid hair lady kept telling me my hair was TOO boring for a writer, just TOO boring. She cut way too much off and made it all funny at the ends, like uneven and emo. I didn’t have the balls to tell her to cut it out… and when I left I actually let her talk me into buying some ridiculously expensive product. The whole experience cost me almost $200 for a haircut I was mortified by. I ended up having to pin it for months until it grew out correctly. :/

      Best haircut! I think when I first chopped all my hair off after the wedding. I was never able to re-create it looking that excellent in bob-awesomeness, but I love the photos from that day.

  7. I love this idea!

    Right now, I love where we live, but I’d rather not stay here forever. I’d like to move to the suburbs or into a more rural area at some point (probably when we’re ready to have kids), and own a house. Being young, I like living in the city and having access to everything, but I get tired of it, and I don’t think it’s the right place for me in the long run. I’d also like to live outside of New York for a little while, but I don’t see myself as settling anywhere but the northeast for the long-haul.

    I’m in school for my main passion, writing, right now, so while I don’t think I’d ever be satisfied until I had a solid five or six hours a day to do nothing but read and write, I’m as close as I think I can get while working full-time, and I’m grateful for that. I definitely wish I could spend more time reading and researching and writing and blogging and submitting and going to readings and all of those things, though.

    I’ve never actually bought anything from them, but I think Rifle Paper Co. is just gorgeous. riflepaperco.com/. I have way too much stationary, but once I’ve used it up, this is going to be my first stop. I also really love farmers markets.

    It’s hard to know how to recession has affected me, but it’s something I think about a lot. I started working right as everything seemed to go downhill (in June 2008), but Roger and I both found jobs pretty quickly in relatively competitive fields, so I think we’ve done okay. Graduating without debt has made a huge difference in our lives, and that, combined with moving back in with our parents for a year to save money, has sort of padded us from the worst of it, I think, and I realize that was a privilege that many don’t have. But, I’m trying to make a move into another competitive field, and it’s been difficult, and I’m not sure if that’s because I’m risk-averse, or because it’s competitive and I’m not, or because of the recession. Anything that I could maybe blame on the recession, I blame first on myself, and I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, but it does make me feel more in control of things.

    I love pretty much all vegetables, but especially sauteed zucchini and roasted squash or squash soup!

    School is starting up again in two weeks, and while I’m sort of terrified, I’m also REALLY excited about it. I think it’s going to be a hard, but great, semester.

    I’m pretty much always ranting about something, and it’s usually conservative politics and people hating on women. This week hasn’t been any different.

    And since you asked, and since I think about it often, I wonder how the recession has affected you, and how you feel about it.

    1. I am always amazed at how many people are looking forward to/already live in a rural or more suburban landscape. I think in the northeast it is more doable because the states and cities are much closer. The idea of living in a rural setting in the west means a long, long, long, long, long way out in the middle of nowhere and an even longer commute to any jobs. But maybe suburbs/rural area in New England are different than here…. in my head they are more charming and accessible, that’s for sure.

      With the recession – For whatever reason my timing is the worst. The WORST. The first year I started college was the first year states started hiking tuition for state schools across the board. The summer before I started classes, I got a letter saying my tuition was going up an obscene amount – and this was after I had already accepted. When I was applying for grad school it was a year where record amounts of people were applying for grad school. And when I graduated grad school it was the fall of 2009 and the recession was in full effect. I think it has delayed my career growth and it caused a lot of angst for me just getting out of a masters program and feeling completely useless. It took me years to figure out how to navigate employment and how to carve out my own path. Also – after graduation I moved to back to Seattle and Kamel was supposed to move up with me, but he couldn’t find a job after months of applying. I also couldn’t find a job at that time because the only jobs in Seattle were for engineers or nurses. So that is why I moved back to San Francisco. I have felt a lot like Odysseus trying to make it back home again, with something always cropping up, preventing my ability to fully land. In general, I think the recession definitely delayed my growth and opportunity. I think I resent that, but shit happens. There is always going to be speed bumps and frustrations… I think it all evens out in the end. I hope.

  8. • Yes, in Chicago and love it. We may head to suburbia for school reasons, but will hopefully stay in the close enough to reach it by the el type of suburbia…
    • Interesting… I’d say no. I cook a lot, which is a passion. I think I need to spend more time on creative endeavors, drawing, painting, etc, which I haven’t done in a long time.
    • I’m a really terrible shopper…let’s stick with food, as it’s a favorite subject: Pastoral, a lovely little wine & cheese set of shops – http://www.pastoralartisan.com/
    • We have been really lucky. It affects how long we will stay in our condo, but we like it there, so it’s ok!
    • Anything from our CSA? The broccoli they grow is the best.
    • Finally making progress on lots of wedding/honeymoon sillies.
    • Learning my brother-in-law to be was engaged on facebook via his fiancées ring shot
    • Can’t come up with a creative question, so I’ll pass, but look forward to the other questions and answers!

  9. So fun because they’re such good questions – not run of the mill.

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    I love a lot of aspects of the Bay Area, but I definitely won’t be here forever. We’ve never stayed in a place longer than 2 years, and I’m feeling myself start to get the itch for someplace new. I don’t know that we’ll be in our forever place until we reach the point where we physically cannot move anymore (like due to old age).

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    No and it’s disappointing and frustrating. I wish my work incorporated more of my passions, but it doesn’t. I’d love more time for exploration and writing.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    Hmm . . . I don’t know if I have a favorite, but a friend just started a cool fair trade collective (think Anthro style/beauty but handmade by artisans around the world): http://www.lydali.com/

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    We were relatively unscathed, but I think it affected our ability to find and land jobs.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    Pumpkin! I love it in curries, pies, pasta dishes, baked goods . . . I’m starting to feel Forest Gump-ish.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    Little things in life – Chobani yogurt on sale at Costco, kitty snuggles, unwinding at the end of the day with my husband.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Congress and their inability to pass a budget. Man, that rant has gotten old the past few years.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?
    What’s your favorite book to film adaptation?

    1. Oh my goodness Lydali! Thank you for sharing that store. So many great gift ideas for upcoming birthdays. Love love love.

      Book to Film adaption…. Ok this is going to sound weird. But! Ya know the movie The Hurt Locker, about the bomb diffusers in Iraq? Well that title and experience is derived from a book of poetry called Here, Bullet by Brian Turner. The poem titled Hurt Locker goes like this:

      Nothing by hurt left here.
      Nothing but bullets and pain
      and the bled-out slumping
      and all the fucks and goddamns
      and Jesus Christs of the wounded.
      Nothing left here but the hurt.

      Believe it when you see it.
      Believe it when a twelve-year-old
      rolls a grenade into the room.
      Or when a sniper punches a hole
      deep into someone’s skull.
      Believe it when four men
      step from a taxicab in Mosul
      to shower the street in brass
      and fire. Open the hurt locker
      and see what there is of knives
      and teeth. Open the hurt locker and learn
      how rough men come hunting for souls.

      I read Brian Turner’s book of poetry way back in 2005 or 2006 and was super delighted when the movie came out because I think they took this gritty, deep, thoughtful war theme and made something amazing with it.

  10. The Question Master! Haha. Yes, of course you are. 🙂 I’m going to play along, even though I’m sure you know the answer to many of these from me, already.

    -Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    Maybe. I always knew or assumed that we’d end up here, but it happened a lot sooner than I would have chosen for myself. I hope that we’re able to live elsewhere for chunks of time, at some point in life. But I don’t imagine that we’d leave with no intention of returning, at this point.

    -Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    No. But I don’t sleep enough or travel enough or relax enough to satisfy, either. There just aren’t enough vacation days or hours away from the day job for that!

    -What is your favorite independent store?
    My favorite is probably a local place, that doesn’t have much of a website. But I also like Curator and Super Maggie. I guess Powells is too obvious an answer!

    -How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    Well. I think the recession has been the defining force in my adult life, to be honest. The effects of the recession have dictated where we live, what jobs we have and how much money we’re making. It will, in the long term, have an impact on our lifetime earning potential and means that we have more debt and will have it for longer. And it has meant a lot more waiting and a lot of delay in doing things we might otherwise have been able to do.

    -What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    I don’t know! I like most veggies, and especially if they are roasted and covered in garlic.

    -What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    The impending three day weekend!

    -Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Hmm. Probably. Likely work/money and Baby Boomers.

    -And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?
    What do you think of Girls? (My mom just watched the first season and was telling me how depressing she found it, bleak and full of such bad sex. Ha!)

    1. The fact that you ranted about Baby Boomers this week made me choke with a laugh at work today. hahahahaha. I adore you Margaret!!!

      I really like Girls. I think sometimes I hate the characters and sometimes I root for them. But! I think that if someone had been following me around with a camera during my grad school life in SF, with the heart break and the bad sex, and the hang overs and weird room mates, and angst, and poverty, and showed the stuff that was worth airing on TV – I think it would be pretty close in vibe to the show. It’s NOT sex and the city. And it’s not really trying to be. It’s definitely not portraying a fantasy. I’m into it.

  11. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    No, although I could see myself coming back to the DC ‘burbs. I have a love for woodsy, waterside areas of Maine and Michigan. I could see myself enjoying Seattle for some time. Unsure where I’d want to stay forever.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    I spend a lot of time reading/writing, so I’m pretty satisfied with that, yes.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    I like the indie bookstores. My local fave is: http://www.holeintheweb.com/ None of there stuff is online, so here’s another local fave: http://www.kramers.com/index.html They have a bar behind the bookstore — it’s good drinks and beers but I also get a lovely thrill from walking through a bookstore to get a beer. Once I saw someone come out from a door hidden behind a bookcase. I’m not making this up.

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    Well it was hellish difficult to find a job in the first place, and I’m still unhappy with the job market for professional writers. I’d like to be able to afford to not have a roommate, and I want a dog. I want a dog so bad it’s getting ridiculous.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    My mom has this recipe for brussels sprouts that make them all toasty and cheesy delicious. I think that would have to be my fave veggie.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    Some mixture of yoga and deciding to not feel guilty about reading books. (Wasted time! Unproductive! No, it is good time.)

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    I got a rejection letter from a publication that I fully expected to accept my submission. They said “the piece is not quite right for us.” I am 100% sure that it is exactly right for them. But it’s not like I can go argue with the editor, is it? It wasn’t even signed by a name that I could thank for replying. Le sigh. Some rejections are expected, and those aren’t too bad, but I was not happy about this one because I was sure it was a good fit. That was hard to take also because I was already having some bad times when it landed in my email.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.
    Are you still writing?

    1. Not feeling guilty about reading books! EXCELLENT CHOICE!!!

      As for my writing life… I am writing here. I am not writing stories right now. I am making a human and working and keeping up with this space, and I write at work. So… even though I need to write and feel guilty about not writing… I also have no desire to write anymore than I already do at this moment because I am exhausted by just existing. Which feels a little annoying to me, but sometimes ya just gotta recognize your limitations. I know that I will get back on the story-telling bandwagon. I would also really like to find homes for the three stories I’ve finished in the last 3 years. I’m working on it. 🙂

  12. These are all tough questions for me, but I’ll give it a go because I know where you’re coming from (I want to know EVERYTHING about EVERYBODY).

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    No, but only because I cannot fathom staying in one place forever. But, my husband wants to live and maybe die here in Chicago. In my perfect world, we’d spend fall and spring here in Chicago, a few winter months in Tucson, AZ near our families, and a 1-2 summer months in Latin America.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    No. I want to write more. My job allows time for it, but I’m too easily tempted by things I enjoy, even though I’m not passionate about them (books, tv, internet). On the other hand, I spend a satisfying amount of time with my husband and dog, which pleases me.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    Myopic Books, in Chicago: http://www.myopicbookstore.com/.

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    The recession straight-up made it impossible for my husband to get a journalism job post-college. This, combined with the fact that I was lucky enough to find well-compensated work in my field (which was also decimated post-recession), has shaped our entire lives in that we are expecting a baby and it makes no sense for us to do anything other than the working mom/stay-at-home dad thing. Also, it made my husband start a candy company: http://www.etsy.com/shop/windycitysaltworks.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    Does butternut squash count? I feel like that’s a starch, but I don’t care. I like it roasted in the oven and then sauteed with butter and herbs and pine nuts. It is heaven.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    Baby kicks (especially because I couldn’t feel them for a long time).

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Yes. I ranted about the unfair burden on Mormon feminists to educate their communities about women and men and gender roles and the fact that we only bear this burden because our religious institution failed us.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?
    I think you married in a Catholic church, but I don’t get the sense that you are religious. How has religion shaped you, if at all?

    1. Your perfect world sounds a bit like mine: only we’d spend winter and spring, aside from a ski vacation, in Atlanta. And then we’d be in Colorado for summer and fall.

    2. Um. 1) your husband’s experience after school ended is very very similar to mine. and 2) A CANDY COMPANY?! Why have you not told me this before?! And it looks delicious! And I will be ordering from this candy company in the near future! Om nom nom nom.

      I am Catholic! I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 12th grade. I went to an all-girls catholic high school and it was awesome. I am religious. I love the mystery of the mass and the magical-ness of it, but I do not believe everything the Catholic church believes. I do not believe it is cool to pray to saints, for instance. And I am more interested in God as an everywhere-in-everything-type-of-being than a masculine mass of energy or force. I have a really complicated hodge-podge take on Catholicism and Christianity and the after life. I also have no animosity towards those who don’t believe in god. But I do dislike when people act as though having a religious background/praying/etc is the equivalent of believing in Santa Claus. I also really and truly believe in a strong separation between church and state, which I see as GREATLY lacking and one of the biggest LIES in American politics and history. Um, what else? Oh! Because I grew up in Seattle in a very, very liberal Catholic environment, I have had a lot of incredibly positive experiences with the church in regards to social reform and openness, even if the vatican isn’t liberal. And there are a lot of sects of the Catholic church that are much more conservative/anti-gay/anti-women, etc etc etc. but the overwhelming majority of Catholics in my world don’t share those views at all. I love chatting with people about religion, I love hearing how other people view things and how they interpret spirituality and the world around them. I don’t talk about it here because I don’t see a space for it. But I love this question and it really never occurred to me that anyone would wonder.

      1. There’s a Catholic church just over Capitol Hill, behind Volunteer Park that I used to walk by all the time on my way to school (I went to Cornish for college). I’m not religious, but I went to Mass there once out of curiosity, they seemed really nice. Where in Seattle are you from?

        1. Ah yes! I think I know that church. They have a nice meditation mass thingy on the weekends at night. I grew up in West Seattle and then went to high school at Holy Names on capital hill. St. Joes has a gay/lesbian mass. 🙂 And the deacon we used for our wedding is from that parish. Seattle is a really lovely, liberal Catholic community. (And a conservative one too, in parts, but… I avoid that.)

  13. –Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    No and unsure.

    If “place” = current apartment that’s a no because I live in a semi-small apartment. While it’s 2 bedrooms, me and my little family (bf + 2 kitties) are slowly outgrowing it. I’d love 1 more bedroom, 1 more bathroom, more storage and a W/D in my Own apt. A garage would be nice too.

    If “place” = current state, aka Michigan, then I’m unsure because I don’t know if I want to live in Michigan for forever or not. I’ve only lived out of state for 1 year and it was my freshman year of college in a ridiculously small city in Illinois that happened to be the capitol of soybeans and smelled terrible. Needless to say it didn’t work out and I transferred back to a school in MI. I would like to get out of the Mitten and try somewhere else though.

    –Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    Yeah. It took me a while but I’ve finally started branching out and getting involved with things that I enjoy. I sang from middle school until college (private voice lessons and all) –-last year I finally joined the Grand Rapids Symphony Choir to continue singing and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m in my 2nd year now and am slowly making some new friends. I also started volunteering this past summer as a literacy tutor, which is something that is really important to me. I have 1 student I meet every week for a couple hours. We get a long great and I love that I’m helping her achieve not only her dream of speaking/writing/reading English, but also such an incredibly important skill.

    I make sure to workout too and the rest of my life is spent vegging on the couch watching bad reality TV (which is my ultimate guilty pleasure).

    –What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    I must admit….I don’t really shop at independent stores. Not for a lack of not wanting too. I realize there are tons on the internets but there aren’t a whole lot in Grand Rapids. The downtown area is pretty much business and restaurants.

    The only real place independent place I shop regularly is Horrocks (http://www.horrocksmarket.com/). It’s an awesome market with amazing produce, really good quality meats, flowers and boutique gifts/crafts. They also have a huge local beer/wine selection. I’m all for supporting my local breweries & wineries! 🙂

    –How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    I didn’t really notice a difference at first. I’ve never made a lot of money and when it first hit was still in college working minimum wage. I think now that I’m graduated and have been in the “professional world” a few years now it’s made it difficult to find work because employers are so picky or companies aren’t hiring like they used to. Living in MI, which has such a high unemployment rate, has made things twice as difficult. There just aren’t a lot of writing/editing jobs in Grand Rapids or the state in general.

    –What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    I love cauliflower (raw) and fresh green beans (a little undercooked so you get that delicious “crunch” when you bit into it).
    **on the opposite end, I HATE cooked carrots

    –What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    My new car—a 2011 Honda Civic.!! Eek!! She is gorgeous and black and oh-so sleek! I love this car so much. Quite possibly even more than my very first car, which I never would have imagined possible. While my 30 minute commute to work sucks, this baby makes it just that much more tolerable. I love that I can listen to CDs (burned ones included) and that it warms up So fast! And the wiper blades are super high-tech-fancy. The speedometer is DIGITAL! It’s like a spaceship. I’ve had it less than a month and I’ve already washed it twice and vacuumed it : ) Gotta keep her lookin fly.

    –Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Yes. I got yet another rejection phone call from a job I really wanted and had gotten to round 2 in the interview process. I felt really confident. The employer was really stressing how I had the goods and the most important thing was “who fits the company culture”. Then she told me someone with more a broader range of experience got the job. UGH. Didn’t I ask you if you had any questions/reservations about my resume?? Didn’t you tell me no??

    I was so mad. And I HATE/LOATHE/DETEST my current job sooo much. I just went on this huge rant about how miserable everything was and how I was stuck at this awful job for the foreseeable future and how I just wanted to hide under my covers in bed for the rest of the week.

    –And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.
    Do you have a favorite word (not cuss)? That is just quirky and fun to use, or maybe is really obscure and makes you feel extra smart when you can use it?

    1. I want to know what you are currently doing at your job! I want to know why it sucks so hard. (You don’t have to answer if you are afraid of them finding it, but I am just really curious. Sucky jobs are the worst – but also the best to commiserate over. We have all (right?!) had them. Probably more than once. Sigh.)

      MADAGASCAR! Before it was a movie it was my favorite word. Also Clandestine and Macabre. 🙂

      1. I have no worries about them finding this. So here goes.

        What do I do?
        I’m a staff writer for a business-to-business travel magazine that focuses on the group travel industry. So our publications (4 of them) get sent to tour planners/operators who put group tours together.

        Why do I hate my job?….I will (try to) keep it short.
        1. It’s completely and utterly 1-dimensional. At least at Booking if you were sick of writing descriptions, you could do CRs or work on one of the many projects they were always giving us. Here, if I am sick of writing one article my only other option is to…start working on another article. Literally. That is all I do for 40 hours a week. With a few meetings and phone calls sprinkled in. No variety. No changing-it up…..just article after article after article after article.

        2. This job is very much like a journalism job–which I never wanted. That’s never appealed to me. I have to research places and then call people to get interviews for each and every article. Some longer features require multiple interviews. I love talking to people and I have no problem being on the phone. But I don’t want to spend my day either a) dragging the information out of people or b) sitting on the phone for hours on end listening to these people drone on about their stupid attraction.

        3. Everyone I work with (save for one person who I have nothing in common with) is at least 8 years older than me. On average I’d say they are more like 20+ years older than me…..so not a whole lot there to relate with.

        4. I have to commute to Holland which is 30-40 minutes away depending on traffic. If I loved my job I wouldn’t care. I hate my job so I see this as torture.

        5. The pay is not competitive (at all) and I didn’t even get a raise when I went from part to full time. So Now I’m commuting 5 days a week on the same pay…meaning I’m not really pocketing much.

        6. It’s isolating and totally unsocial. Right now. If a pin dropped on carpet you would hear it. That’s how quiet this place is. And it’s like this 70% + of the time. People don’t chit chat. They just do their job. This is NOT me at all. I need interaction. I like to interact people in work. Not just with work related stuff (which we don’t even do. I don’t work with any other department on anything) but just “Hey, wanna go grab lunch?” “Sure! That sounds great!”. Everyone does their own thing and I feel like I’m alone on Mars.

        7. Did I mention it’s one-dimensional?

        8. We are way understaffed. We should have at least 1 other writer on full time. But it’s “not in the budget”. So there are 4 of us (including the 2 editors) who have to do everything and it’s beyond stressful. Lately I’ve stopped caring how far past a deadline I am because I know I’m not alone and I’m sick of just this “empty stress” (that’s how I’ve come to describe it). Like I’m not even stressing over something important. Just nonsense stupid stuff.

        ….okay. I suppose that wasn’t short after all. Sorry. Anyways. This has led me to realize I want to go back to school for my masters. I don’t want to stay in this field anymore. I will always have a job that will use my writing abilities, but this is just not what will fulfill me for the rest of my life. Anyways. Thanks for letting me vent again 🙂

  14. I will be shocked if any of these answers are surprising to you 🙂

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    This question… haunts me at nights. I just don’t know, and I feel like I SHOULD know, and that drives me insane. I love love Chicago, love the city, love my job, love my friends here… But. I can’t imagine raising my children in a city far away from my family and my bestest friends (hi, you!). I grew up in an incredibly close knit family with all of the cousins and aunts and uncles and I want that for my kids. But… I don’t want to give up all of the things about Chicago that I love. There isn’t really a good answer right now, and I’m hoping that my decision becomes clearer with time. Oh, and Alex’s pesky job will probably drive our choices (for better or for worse) in a couple of years.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    I think so… I wish I wasn’t so lazy sometimes, so I could fit a little bit more in (stop watching tv! read that book that you really want to finish! cook that new recipe that you’ve been wanting to try! but… vampire diaries…)

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    I love local restaurants, if that counts. There are a bunch on our street that are small and unambitious, and are amazing. The kind of place where we walk in and the bartender comes running out from behind the bar to high five us in celebration of the return of the Blackhawks 🙂

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    EFF THE RECESSION. Losing my job and unemployment (which felt like it went on forever) was so depressing and soul-sucking and savings-draining. And the crippling law school loans that were just hovering over my head, constantly reminding me of all my stresses… Gah. Thankfully, I landed a new job that I love, and Alex is in a pretty recession-proof job, so I’m hoping we are back on track for the time being.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Currently, brussel sprouts! NOM.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    It’s almost the weekend and I get unlimited mimosas and eggs benedict on Saturday…

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    Co-workers. And family. I will leave it at that.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

    Are individual falafel balls better than those pita sandwiches? 😉

  15. 1. I really like where I live but I can’t see us being here forever. I’d like to live by the sea and I think I’d like to live in America at some point.
    2. I am satisfied with my life and how it’s balanced most of the time, but one of the things I feel passionatly about is my friends and I don’t see enough of them.
    3. I really like a shop in my Mum’s town of Aberystwyth, Wales called Polly’s but the best independent shops I’ve been to were in Ludlow (UK). We spent too much money on our honeymoon when we were there!

  16. Continued… (stupid phone).
    4. The recession has meant that it has taken me a long time to get a good job that I feel my education is worth and it wa6. s really hard for us to get a mortgage.
    5. I love roasted parsnips. Yum!
    6. The idea of my husband becoming a dad. He’s going to be amazing!
    7. People not understanding the criteria for the reports I help them with at work (it’s a university grant type thing). It’s all right there, just bloody read it! No that is not eligible! Etc…
    8. One for you: how did you decide how much to share about your pregnancy online? It’s such a minefield. (For the record, I think you’ve done an amazing job.)

    1. How do you roast your parsnips? I have not had luck with this. I need help.

      For sharing about pregnancy – I share what I think is entertaining to others, and what I haven’t necessarily heard before. Writing is how I process a lot of things, and when I have nagging thoughts, they usually end up as really great posts, so I trust my gut. Like, right now – my hands keep swelling up and it is really annoying and I have to keep icing them over my head to get them to calm down. That is pregnancy, that is ridiculous and inconvenient, but not life threatening – just silly. I also believe that secrets can be dangerous. I think society de-humanizes pregnancy. It either holds it up as the best thing ever or creates all of these weird unattainable expectations. The reality is, it’s a personal choice, it’s an incredibly personal physical process (As you know!!), and sharing that (I HOPE!) is my way of saying, “this isn’t an ‘idea’ or a ‘concept’… I am a human, I am going through this change, I matter, and this process is complicated and difficult and magical and it’s ok to not love it all of the time.” Life is messy… no part of real life is cut and dry. I’m not going to make pregnancy worse than it is just to be shocking, but I’m also not going to make it more beautiful than it is in order to shame others, or fit into some weird mommy-blogging archetype. Honesty is my policy. I do my best. 🙂

      1. Parsnips – hot oven, heat a bit of olive oil in a baking dish in the oven. Chop the parsnips into equal size pieces and tosh in the hot oil with some rosemary, salt and pepper. Try to keep them to one layer so they roast evenly. Check them after 20 minutes and turn then they should be done after about another 15, depending on size. Happy roasting! You can also drizzle honey on them, but that’s too sweet for me.

        Thanks for your answer to my question. I completely agree with you – I think we see pregnancy as this either completely wonderful or awful thing, but the truth is that it lasts a LONG time (or maybe it just feels like it) and it’s not going to be one thing throughout. Things happen, it’s all consuming (that was a surprise for me) and you don’t know how it’s going to change.

  17. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    No. I realize this is kind of a weird answer, considering we JUST bought (and are slaving on) a house. But I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life (minus a 4-year college stint) and don’t want to live here my ENTIRE life. I’d love to eventually try Bend, Oregon, or possibly somewhere near Jackson, Wyoming. But for now – we love our house, and are happy in it.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    Again – no. BUT. This is something I’m working really hard on for 2013. And so far, I’ve found a much better balance and can already feel myself growing happier as a result of it.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    Currently obsessed with the prints on these two etsy shops:
    The Dancing Cat – http://www.etsy.com/shop/jamieshelman?ref=seller_info
    Meera Lee Patel – http://www.etsy.com/shop/yaymeeralee?ref=usr_faveitems&atr_uid=11379888
    And you know what? I’ve been craving a print forever and I’M GONNA TREAT MYSELF, DAMMIT.

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    We are SO lucky. It hasn’t affected us much. My company buckled down and ended up having VERY few layoffs. There was a stretch where my husband was scared he’d get laid off, but they kept him on.
    I do think it’s affected us both mentally, though – neither one of us has taken too many career risks.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    The teenager in me wants to say VEGETABLES YUCK. But since I’m trying to eat more veggies…cucumbers. Raw, with rice vinegar and pepper.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    My husband, and his unwavering support for me and my career goals.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    You know…I don’t think I have? Which is….odd. But makes me happy to realize it.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?
    What skillset would you want to master if you had all the time in the world to do so?

    1. I love prints!! I ordered too many for baby-time/bedroom decorations and they turned out to be waaay bigger than I expected… But I’m going to rock them anyways because ART! Made by real people! Not manufactured and sold at Target! (Though, damn, Target art is so cool sometimes!!)

      Oh my gosh Laura if I had all the time in the world I would do so many things. First: I want to be an amazing world-class snowboarder. SECOND: I want to speak fluent french. Third: I would probably have like 6 kids and be the coolest mom around. Which sounds annoying when I type it out, but oh my god, having kids takes all of your time away and it is just so unrealistic… and making little humans would be so fun! Especially if they didn’t turn out to be drug addicts or shitheads. Fourth: I would be a biologist and hang out with some sort of adorable creature – maybe a turtle – all day.

      1. Lauren I think you should totally get an axolotl. Totally. It just came to me, after reading the comment about Stan the frog and this one. They are cute and magic and look like litle pokemon monsters and they are fascinating to observe. Also if you come we’ll go to Snow world (where you can indoor-snowboard) or hit the hills in Switzerland. I have also dreamt of lots of kids, but ahem, the boy only wants 2 , and now, well, we are hoping for one. One thing at a time. Fluent French is totally doable, specially because you are good with languages. Watch lots of films, read books. Come over and we’ll drive down to France.

      2. I’m totally in love with prints, too. I probably shouldn’t order anymore (even though I ordered one yesterday!!) until I get all the art hung up…don’t know where I’m going to put it all!

        If I coud live in an alternate reality and have a different job, I would TOTALLY be a marine biologist. That was actually The Plan for a while.

  18. 1. No, I definitely don’t want to live in our current town (Davis, CA) for forever. I thought I/we would love it, but I’m just too much of a big city girl, and we want our 5 month old son to be near his family back east. I’m hoping we’ll soon move to a big city on the eastern seaboard, or at the very least to San Francisco.
    2. Ohh, tough question! I feel kind of in-between in terms of passions. My love of particular activities is usually pretty fluid and changing, and right now I want to just spend as much time as I can with our little son. So I may not spend much time doing things for myself, but I’m okay with that at the moment. I see friends pretty regularly, and I’m always enjoying looking at pretty things on Pinterest, planning future projects . . . and thinking about what I want to be up to next.
    3. I am terrible at knowing independent stores online! We have several local stores here in Davis that I love, but I’ve got nothing exciting to share here. I am curious, however, to read what others have said.
    4. I am very, very lucky to say that the recession hasn’t hit my family much. My parents have struggled a bit, but we’re all pretty financially sound at the moment. I am very greatful for this! My husband’s hunt for a future job (he’s a postdoctoral fellow, which has a time limit attached to it) may be affected, so ask me again in six months!
    5. Oh, I loooove vegetables. I don’t think I could pick a favorite — just about any type of salad (especially one with surprising greens and/or arugula), roasted green beans (heavily garlicked), beets, roasted root vegetables, broccoli (roasted). I could go on and on!
    6. Watching our baby boy reach milestones. It’s amazing how much we (adults) take for granted — the things we had to learn to do as babies!
    7. I am constantly ranting about the terrible, frustrating bicyclists in our town!
    8. Is it really weird that I want to meet you someday? I can’t help but feel like the bloggers I read are like movie stars.

    1. Mari, I know that I tend to think of myself as “friends” with the other bloggers I really like. My question for 8 was THIS CLOSE to being “If I were ever in your area, would you like to get coffee?” then I decided maybe that would be weird to say! hahaha

      1. Ha! Glad I’m not alone. I end up referring to the blogs I read so frequently in conversation that sometimes I wonder if it would just be easier to say, “this person I know…” rather than “this blogger I read, yes I know I read a lot of blogs…” 🙂

        1. You are so totally not alone. I want to meet Lauren and Kamel since forever. Yeah this sounds really weird, but I also feel that the bloggers I am close too are like good friends that I’ve known for a real long time.

    2. I didn’t know you were here!!! I never remember who is in my area! What brought you to Davis?? I have only been there a few times while visiting friends in Sacramento. And I almost went to college there, but then I didn’t.

      And I think it is AWESOME that you want to meet me! I would totally love to hang out and meet your baby and yay! I am for serious the last thing from a movie star – though I have also felt that about bloggers. But then when I finally did meet the bloggers I felt were rockstars in real life, most of them (Except for Rebecca Woolf and Alice Bradley) were not that nice, were super exclusive “cool kid club”, and seemed to be creating a fake life on the internet – which crushed my little fangirl brain.

      Anyways – we will make a meetup happen. For SURE.

      1. Sorry, I am terrible at remembering to come back and look for responses! I should probably have signed up for email notifications, but I did that once on a comment for Young House Love, and ended up getting notifications when anyone commented EVER on that post. Not what I was looking for.

        Anyway, yes I am in Davis! But I really would prefer to be in SF. Or back in Boston, or in the D.C.-area, I think. My husband is a postdoc at UC Davis studying neurodevelopmental disease (autism, fragile X), so we’re here in Davis until at least May (his contract end date), but most likely for a couple more years. Davis is cute, but I’m a big city gal (though I didn’t know it till I was taken out of my big city!). Everytime we drive into SF (just a couple visits so far), it always feels like I’m home; like the big city is my home. Sacramento totally does not count.

        I always wonder if some of the really big bloggers are in the Cool Kid Club. It seems like that’s how some of them would act. I followed plenty of bloggers on Twitter back pre-baby when I had time for Twitter and hadn’t really discovered Pinterest yet, and two particular bloggers (who shall remain nameless) seemed very “in the club” with each other. They’re own special Cool Blogger Club. It was fascinating.

        Anyway — I think we’re going to be hitting up SF for my birthday (the big 3-0, yikes!) in June. If so, I will definitely see if you guys can meet up with my little family. How nice it will be!

    3. Oh, I miss the Davis downtown. I lived in Davis for about half my life. Also, yes, the bicyclists are very annoying, and overly polite drivers downtown. I lived downtown for about 5 years and walked around a lot.

  19. Your questions have brought me out of lurkdom! So, bravo!
    1) I am a SF native… love living here. This is my home. My actual residence, however… I’d love to move. However, can’t currently afford to buy a house (it WILL happen, someday, I swear!), so rent control is my friend. If I had to move away, however, I’d choose Santa Barbara. (Wow, just noticed I used a lot of “however””s)

    2) Passions– hmmm… I love to read and work w/ the dogs @ the SPCA — not at the same time, mind you. I am looking for more creative outlets, though. I love to create things… but I need guidance, and just haven’t found a place for that.

    3) Unfortunately, I’m not much of an independent store shopper. Does Ambiance count? Etsy overwhelms me.

    4) My boyfriend lost is biotech job 5 years ago… and it’s been tough. We had to survive on my salary for a few years. He since got a job as a barista at an independent coffee shop, so that helps. But, it’s still not biotech $$. The job search seems to be picking up… fingers, toes & eyes crossed!

    5) Broccoli! I LOVE broccoli… just steam it up & I’m a happy lady.

    6) Happiness… that one is tricky for me. Currently, the sunshine. Gotta live in the present.

    7) I’m a huge complainer/ranter. I had an internal rant this morning about the inconsiderate people in my office. Is it too much to ask to recycle the empty paper wrappers? Ya know the wrappers the reams of paper come in? Well, I opened a drawer this morning only to find it filled with ream shells… Really!?!

    1. “Ambiance, we really like you!” and also: Kamel is a brocco-freak. It created a digestion nightmare during pregnancy so we haven’t been indulging in the broccoli lately, but we will! Someday… when I stop breastfeeding and the threat of GAS PAINS is no longer a stormy cloud on the horizon. 🙂

  20. •Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go? Yes, I want to stay here in Oaxaca, in our little house and little town, forever, but it’s starting to seem impossible. It’s so hard to make a living here.

    •Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions? No. I have two jobs and a lengthy commute and a kid and no washing machine and I’m so tired at night…I’m going to start drinking green tea on the way home and hope that gives me another couple hours at night to write, without triggering insomnia…

    •What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    I try to stay away from all those tempting things I can’t afford. Sigh.

    •How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    It’s hard to say from here, though I’m sure it’s part of the impossibility of making a living.

    •What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked? Sweet potato, maybe–cooked any old way.

    •What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest? That one of our hens hatched two baby chicks! And my son saying, “Mama, I love you like the sun.”

    •Have you ranted about something this week? What was it? Well, to keep this a LITTLE bit light at least, I was just ranting in my head about what a terrible fucking movie “Snow White and the Hunter” was. Kristin Whatever and her limp, mouth-breathing boringness–I don’t get why she’s such a star, she’s just not COMPELLING, I don’t want to keep watching her for two hours. And there was just no POINT, if you’re going to retell a fairy tale, you should make it new somehow, make it relevant, instead of just inserting gratuitous special effects at random junctures; you could have fun with that story, say something new about beauty, turn beauty on its head, but no. Take home message: youth-sucking evil queens are Bad….et cetera. (Not that I thought it would be a great movie, just to clarify. My husband randomly rented it for me.)

    Question for you: I’m curious about your other writing projects–you sometimes allude to them–novel? short stories? What are you working on? (Or what do you wish you were working on?)

    1. Teresa!! I love when you comment and I love catching up on your blog. You have a lovely perspective. 🙂

      My other writing projects: I came out of grad school with a novel that I’m still trying to figure out what to do with. Between then and now I’ve written three short stories that took a lot of revisions and re-writes etc etc and are still trying to find a home. But the BIG thing is that I was on the very very verge of launching an online magazine, inspired by Better In Real Life (I will talk about this more in-depth later, but I swear it is awesome and hopefully I will still be able to make it all happen) that I had to put on the back burner when I got pregnant because I was no longer capable of handling a full time job, normal life, and a massive undertaking. Oh and I write at work, but that’s more sales-y and not creative in the least. 🙂

  21. Hmmm. Let’s see – here we go…
    1. Yes. I do believe we plan on making Chi-city the permanent home of the Tyler family. 🙂
    2. Interesting – my passion is my career – so yes. But I would like to shoot more ‘for me’ & more film (which I hope to do this off season). And I actually really love singing and dancing and hope to make more time for those in my life, which taking dance lessons with James this year should help with!
    3. I’m really bad at this stuff. I don’t have any current store obsessions, sadly.
    4. Well, J lost his job 9 months into our marriage thanks to the recession, and then wasn’t able to find anything else, so he went back to school & we decided we should make this OUR business and not just MY business. So I’d say it affected us pretty hugely… but it turned out to be a good thing for us. Brought us closer together for sure!
    5. I love steamed broccoli or asparagus. But in general James and I eat a lot of HUGE salads here… mixed greens, mushrooms, avocado, tomato, cucumber, cheese, croutons & balsamic vinegar. MMM.
    6. Just about wrapped up with my 2012 wediting & heading to DC for a long weekend away with James to celebrate the inauguration & the end of a great year!
    7. I ranted to J about people not being genuine, and about feeling judged by people. Blah.
    8. Will you bring your adorable family to Chicago so I can photograph you all already?!

    1. Your huge salads inspire me. I love huge salads as well. And YAY for the family business!!! I love it and I love that it makes you so happy. Your whole set up is incredibly awesome.

      And YES! The plan is early November. I will keep you posted. It’s pretty much… like… on my life list at this point. haha.

  22. •Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?—> No, but I feel halfway there; I like where I’m living (Pac NW) much more than I liked where I was living 5 years ago. It finally feels like home here. BUT, I would like to live closer to my family, at least within driving distance or a single day’s bus ride. Also, I hope life continues to be an adventure, and that I live several more places in my life! Thought of never moving again is…weird.
    •Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?—> I think I do! Usually it’s not time I’m battling, it’s myself, i.e., I want to work on this right now but I feel unmotivated.
    •What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)—>I haven’t bought anything from this shop yet, but I’ve wanted one of the bags for a while: http://www.etsy.com/shop/bookhouathome
    •How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)—–> I returned to college and graduated in 2010 (older student), and still make less than I did pre-degree. It’s rough looking for work right now.
    •What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?—–> brussels sprouts! cooked in a pan with lemon and butter!
    •What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?—-> possibility of exciting things to come (travel, family times)
    •Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?—-> looking for jobs and how it feels like I will never, ever find a job again
    •And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.—-> I know you have a job in writing, from reading your blog: how did you build the bridge from college to a writing job?

    1. I think the comments in the blog alone have completely dispelled any myth of the gross Brussels sprout. hahaha.

      Bridging the gap! This was hard and very frustrating, a lot because of my timing with the recession, a lot because the arts are a difficult hire. Basically…. I swallowed my pride and jumped at every opportunity even if it didn’t pay. I worked two jobs (1 to pay bills, 1 for resume building) for 9 months and just busted my ass… truly. Then when I quit my day job, kept the second writing job for a little while and also got an unpaid internship writing for a parenting website on top of THAT. Then after I left the first editing job, and the internship with the parenting site ended, I applied to every editing/writing/content/social media job I could find. Ultimately I feel like I will be wearing many, many hats as a creative professional and probably always having side projects, multiple jobs, etc. But I also wanted to give myself options in the jobby-job world so that I would have the option of security, a 401k, etc etc. But even though I have a masters degree, I feel like I still had to piece together experience and build it from scratch.

      1. Thank you for answering! This was fun. I’m inspired by your answer. I think it’s realistic AND inspiring: build it from scratch! I need to keep building!! 🙂

  23. I promised to comment more, so here’s a good chance.

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    No. But I am currently living in the place I’ll be staying forever, whether I want to or not. I grew up on the East Coast (just north of Boston) and spent several years living in NYC. I love the East Coast. I love the Atlantic Ocean. I miss all that fiercely. My husband and I met in NYC. He grew up in Minnesota, and that’s where we live now, and where we will always live. My sister-in-law is very autistic, and my husband is one of her legal guardians. (When his mom dies, he’ll be the sole legal guardian–hopefully not for a long time). It’s important to him to be where she is, so he can spend time with her and participate in and monitor her care (she’s recently been moved to a group home–her first time not living with family in 26 years). Moving her to the East Coast if we wanted to live there is out of the question. Their extended family is large and local. She owns a horse that she rides. She’s involved in a lot of good community activities. Her doctors and therapists are here. Moving her away from all that would greatly diminish the quality of her life, so we’d never do it. Obviously, those are valid and important reasons to live someplace, and I like St. Paul well enough (after three and a half years here it’s continually growing on me). But the culture of the Mid West is different, and I still feel like a stranger here, sometimes.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    I feel like it’s never enough! But I suppose on paper it is, really. I love, love, love books. I happen to work in publishing, so that passion is usually satisfied there, and I am an incredibly speedy reader (it’s my super power!) so I get a lot of recreational reading done as well. I also love to cook (baking especially, but savory cooking has grown on my a lot!) and that ebbs and flows. I am always cooking, but I’m not always cooking the sorts of things I’d like to be cooking. I have other passions that are languishing. Time Management is my constant enemy.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    Common Good Books is Garrison Keillor’s bookstore. It’s on my block, so I go there pretty much weekly.

    http://www.commongoodbooks.com/

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    David (my husband) and I were living in New York, working in book publishing during the first truly awful wave of the recession. So what did we do? We, uh, quit our jobs and moved halfway across the country. For the reasons noted above, not as a result of the recession. But still. Stupid timing. We were lucky enough to be able to live with family for three months while searching for jobs and an apartment we could afford. We both suffered through unemployment (him: 3 months, me: 6 months–but interspersed with temp jobs). Unemployment was hard on us both. David let go of the idea of a career in the publishing industry, and instead turned to government policy and healthcare. He works for the Minnesota State Government now, and is on the task force implementing Obamacare in the state. I ended up getting a job within the state (totally different area. Less challenging and intellectually stimulating, and more data entry). I worked there for two years and absolutely loathed every moment of it. It was awful, and I was so so depressed. The economy was so bad, though, and jobs were so competitive. There is a publishing industry in MN, but it’s small. I went on a lot of interviews and lost out to cousins or nieces, because there’s a distinct prejudice against the big box type of publishing my resume was full of. Finally I got back in the game, though, and got hired by a small publisher last spring. Such a wonderful, wonderful change! Beyond work, though, the recession has hit us in a lot of way. We got married this past September, and paid for the wedding ourselves. We combined finances just a few months before that–that was TOUGH. David decided to go back to school nights to get his MBA. More student loans. More debt. We are diligent savers, but we’re coming to terms with the sad reality that we may not be able to begin house-hunting this year, like we wanted to. We have more money saved that I ever thought I’d have in my whole entire life. Tens of thousands of dollars! And it’s so hard to know it still isn’t enough. Still. We are frugal without being total miserly penny pinchers. It’s important for us to have some play money and go on dates and be a little frivolous. And certainly the cost of living is far better out here than it was in New York. But still. Money. *Sigh*

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    Potatoes don’t really count as a vegetable, otherwise I’d say them, for sure. I love spinach cooked in quiche with bacon and gouda. I love cucumbers with salt and tzatziki. I love, love, LOVE sugar snap peas and will eat them raw by the bucketful, but I also love them in this cold pasta dish more than most things on earth: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/08/summer-pea-and-roasted-red-pepper-pasta-salad/

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    Um, Scribblenauts? In reality, I am super happy about this Saturday, because David and I are having our annual Stay in Bed All Day day. During which we, you know, stay in bed all day (showers and bathroom breaks to be expected). We buy all kinds of delicious, ready-to-eat food (good crusty bread and fancy cheeses! Ice cream! Bagels! Take out/Delivery! Whatever!) and our laptops, dvds, a deck of cards, books, magazines, etc. We nap, and have sex, and read aloud to each other, and talk, and watch movies, and it’s perfect. We are usually on-the-go people, and with both of us working full time, plus David in school at nights, we don’t get a lot of this luxurious lazy time together. We make the most of it by scheduling (yes, scheduling!) one day a year where we do. not. leave. the. bed.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    My friend Meredith and I have happy hour once a week and we rant a lot during that time. Sometimes it’s about feminism (or lack thereof) or politics or Big Stuff. Sometimes it’s little mundane things. I think this week I ranted about having to prep for the upcoming Sales Conference solo, while also doing a million other work things.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

    1. Your ability to save is amazing. That is going to come in SO handy. And having that much money saved at this point is a dream for me. At this point we are just trying to establish a savings, pair down our debt, and set ourselves up for house-savings. I am really impressed with you.

      Also! I know a little bit about the small press world of MN. Where are you working??

      1. Thanks! I have to say, a lot of it is wedding gift money we socked away, and other small windfalls. But we save over 30% of our net income every month. It’s crazy to me. Debt is also terrifying. David’s loans are currently deferred while he’s in graduate school, but when he finishes in the spring they’ll come back with a vengeance, and we won’t be able to save like this anymore. Doing it while we can!

        I work at Llewellyn Worldwide (and its imprints Flux and Midnight Ink). It’s a serious change from New York (I worked on the agenting side of things, at both Writers House and Harold Ober), but there are a lot of perks of working for an independent publisher. Before I landed this job, I interviewed at Graywolf, Milkweed, and RedLeaf. I know some people at each, and my husband does some German Language reading for Graywolf on a freelance basis, sometimes.

  24. Wow, lots of comments!
    1. Possibly, possibly not. I would like to work overseas sometime, and Mark will probably need to work overseas to continue growing his experience and career, but for the moment, we are happy where we are. Its a gorgeous city and you should totally come visit (and we will reciprocate)
    2. For a long time recently I did spend more than enough time on my photography. Then I stopped loving it quite so much – camera fatigue after 600 days of a photo-a-day challenge and 3000+ photos to sort through from our trip to Europe. I’ve started picking it up again recently though, so feel much better about that.
    3. I really love our local second hand bookstore.https://www.artybees.co.nz/ Awesome range, wicked staff. I had to stop shopping there for a while…
    4. I’ve had 15 weeks work in the last 12 months, because Wellington is a government heavy city, and they are reducing staffing numbers all over the show, so there are lots of people looking for my kind of work. And of course, now job listings are increasing, I cant apply for any because by the time the recruitment process runs its course, I’ll be due to head off on Maternity Leave.
    5. Corn on the cob. Shucked, brought to the boil, then left to sit in its hot water for 5 minutes. Serve it with a knob of butter. Divine. Summer in every mouthful, even when its raining outside.
    6. Morning sleep-ins are definitely making me happy at the moment. Those and any sunny days we get. Its meant to be summer! I need to get laundry done!
    7. Friends and I have been ranting a bit lately about a push for personal locator beacons when out hiking – Search and Rescue have been publically berating people who did everything else right, but didnt take a PLB, when 18 months ago, those same people would have been praised for doing everything right. Some of the situations are just annoying, because a SaR response might not have been any faster, and these are NOT life-threatening situations, which is what we were always told beacons were for.

    1. We really really need to visit more countries/places. 🙂 I spend a lot of my mental energy making traveling lists. We are hoping to travel somewhere brand new in 2014… which surprisingly doesn’t seem that far away considering how much we have going on this year. eeeeps!

  25. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    yes, I am currently in the city that I want to live in forever… however, I do regret not living somewhere else… there is still time, but I would like to have the experience of living somewhere else.
    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    Passion is a hard one… I am not particularly “passionate” about anything specific… I like things like soccer, snowboarding, decorating, my dog, etc. but am I passionate about any of my hobbies/activities/things, eh not really.. my passion is just living my life and sharing it with good people… I like my job, it is rewarding, but my passion is just living, being happy, being around great people, trying new things, and continuing doing the things that genuinely make me happy… In this regard I do spend a great amount of time with my “passions”
    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    PCC: pccnaturalmarkets.com
    Pegasus Book Exchange: pegasusbookexchange.com‎
    Soujourn: sojournbham.com/
    How did/does the recession affect you?
    It didn’t really… I got my job right before the recession… it was very lucky for me, everyone who has been hired since to do the same type of work under the same pay scale has masters degrees.
    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    Brussel Sprouts!!! here is my favorite recipe: http://www.glitterandganache.com/?p=1466, but really, I like them all ways!
    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    being engaged to the man of my dreams! and planning our future together!
    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    yes, people I work with (my boss made me cry on my birthday, and I’m not really a crier)

  26. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    Living in Melbourne, and while I love this place as a place, it does not contain all my most beloved people (just a few). It’s not the place where my heart lingers when I think of ‘home’. That’s about a thousand k’s north of here in Newcastle.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    I spent about an hour crying on my Lovely Husband’s shoulder because I don’t know what my passions are. I don’t feel passionate about anything at the moment, so the answer is who knows.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    It’s a fabric store that I’ve never bought from, but I go and browse there in person all the time. http://www.patchworkoncentralpark.com.au/category29_1.htm

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    Errr… Australia’s not really as…uh…recessed as the US at the moment. Not much has changed besides some energy providers putting up prices but this is mainly reactionary stupidism to coal magnates who didn’t like our government introducing a carbon tax. Morons.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Because tomatoes and capsicums (red peppers) are technically fruit, I guess carrots or butternut pumpkin are my favourite veggies. I like them roasted with a bit of cumin (ground or whole seeds) then whizzed in a pot of chicken or veggie stock. Easiest, yummiest soup ever. A close second would be frozen peas, frozen. Awesome snack on hot summer days.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    Him: http://lilybettandboy.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/dear-boy-12-months.html

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    Not this week. Not unless you count the mini one above about the coal peeps.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?

    Have you heard the Lamb song ‘Gabriel’? Almost named my boy Gabriel because of it.

  27. I am living in the general area I’d like to keep living in (Washington state), but we’d like to have some land (maybe 5-ish acres or so, our own forest, in essence that we can fill with tree houses) and currently we live in a row house with about a couple square feet of yard. I did take a step in the right direction a little over a year ago by moving up here from central CA, I like the weather up here much better. I’ll take rain over sweltering heat any day.

    I don’t think I spend enough time on my passions. I like to bake and craft and things like that and haven’t pushed myself to do as much as I would like. Ultimately I’d like to go back to school and get some sort of degree in bakery management, which the local community college does offer, but I keep finding excuses. Some day.

    Other than Powell’s, I can’t think of a favorite independent store. Hmmm… I love looking at the yarn and fabric (and the projects they post on their blog) at http://www.purlsoho.com, but I have never actually been to the store.

    I am lucky in that I haven’t really felt any effects from the recession. When I was working, I was lucky to work for a large company that was growing in the area in which I worked, and who took good care of their employees. My husband works in the oil industry and so far people keep buying gas, even though it is expensive. (Thanks to everyone who does! :))

    My favorite vegetable changes almost weekly. Currently one is butternut squash, cut into chunks and roasted. I used to work for a vegetable seed company where we handled a lot of the vegetables, so consequently I have a hard time eating some. Like cooked tomatoes (yes, I know, technically a fruit, but still) and broccoli.

    Currently the number one thing making me happiest is being pregnant. Though, of course, it is also the thing that is most scaring me too. I am not very far along, so I’m still not convinced that it is true (even though I have an ultrasound picture to prove that there is an actual baby in there) and am sure that something will go wrong at any moment. That and that there is a new season of Downton Abbey on.

    I think the only thing I ranted about this week was how my husband just doesn’t understand how hard it is being pregnant. (It kind of takes over, doesn’t it.) Oh, and how the same guy came around our neighborhood selling something at least four times, I wasn’t in the mood to open the door to strangers that day, so it was very annoying, and I’d half convinced myself by the end that he was just casing the neighborhood to see which houses were empty (I’m sure he was perfectly nice). First he’d knock (in the same pattern) and then ring the doorbell, every time. Wouldn’t it make more sense to go around to different neighborhoods rather than spending the whole day in one?

    1. I had a lot of anxiety about things going wrong in the first trimester. I worried I would suddenly have a masssive bloody miscarriage while I was at work. It gave me daily panic attacks and every time I went to the bathroom I was checking for blood. This is not to say “everything will be fine! stop worrying!”, it is to say “totally normal fears, I’ve been there, and I am hoping that none of those anxieties come true.” Every day that passes you get closer to the point where baby is viable. 🙂 For me, the months went surprisingly quick. I wish you the same!!

      1. Thank you. And I’m so glad that I’m not working, just because of fears like that, and I used to work in a lab full of all sorts of chemicals that would just add to all that anxiety. I’m just looking forward to when I can see more outwardly physical signs that things are progressing, and I can actually feel the baby, so that I can join all the people who are excited for me rather than feeling like I have to be the voice of reason.

        And thanks for this post! It’s been fun reading the comments.

  28. •Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    Complicated question. The easy answer is I’m planning on staying in our small city for the rest of my life, but I’d rather not be living in my mother’s basement. Longer explanation is that we’ll be staying here because it’s close to our parents and Bunny’s sister and those are the most important considerations for where we want to raise our family. I honestly *hate* this city though, with some major intensity, and spent the better part of a decade swearing that I would never move back here permanently because I feel isolated from my friends and I’m bored with the little culture that is available here. We might one day come up with a compromise of living in a smaller town nearby, or a bigger city within a half hours’ drive but right now that’s not in the cards. It’s a situation I struggle with more than I’d like.

    •Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    Not quite. At any given point I can spend a satisfying amount of time cooking OR doing crafts OR reading and writing but I’m never really able to balance them all in a way that I feel like I have enough of everything. Maybe it would be easier if I had a more clear definition of my passion and there was only one that I was taken with.

    •What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    There were some adorable dress stores downtown Toronto that I’m a big fan of, and a lot of little independent food shops there that I adored. Nothing I’m currently loving and having easy access to, or really linkable.

    •How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    It was one of the factors in our move back to our hometown, albiet a small factor. I made a stupid mistake and job jumped without thinking about it long enough during the recession and that didn’t turn out too well. My husband also had a really hard time finding a job as an apprentice in his new career. All in all I think we were fairly lucky.

    •What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    Vegetables are hands down my favourite food group and for the longest time steamed broccoli with butter was my favourite food period. I’m a fan of any roasted vegetable, and am loving most root vegetables lately. I’m crazy about a good roasted beet, or caramelized squash with a hint of parmesan, and I’m also nuts about parsnips roasted and put in soup.

    •What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    Right now I’m pretty excited by the closer relationships we’ve been building with our families, particularly my in laws. I almost get to have a sister, which I always wanted, and I’m stoked to meet her baby in June.

    •Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    I had a good rant about a kind of coworker not doing his job the other day but it’s work and I’m not going to share more than that on the internetz.

    •And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.
    I’m curious about your relationship with your religion. My understanding is that you were raised with religion at least somewhat and I know you and Kamel were married in the church, but I’d love to know what about your religion speaks to you and how you choose to relate to it as an adult and if there are things you have a hard time reconciling with and how you handle that. Totally a super personal question though and I’ll understand if it’s not something you’re overly comfortable getting into. 🙂

    1. I love it when people have great relationships with their in laws!!! The fact that you do, makes me happy too!

      I already answered the religion question above in response to Sandy. Here is what I said there (and then I’ll address some of your particulars):

      I am Catholic! I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 12th grade. I went to an all-girls catholic high school and it was awesome. I am religious. I love the mystery of the mass and the magical-ness of it, but I do not believe everything the Catholic church believes. I do not believe it is cool to pray to saints, for instance. And I am more interested in God as an everywhere-in-everything-type-of-being than a masculine mass of energy or force. I have a really complicated hodge-podge take on Catholicism and Christianity and the after life. I also have no animosity towards those who don’t believe in god. But I do dislike when people act as though having a religious background/praying/etc is the equivalent of believing in Santa Claus. I also really and truly believe in a strong separation between church and state, which I see as GREATLY lacking and one of the biggest LIES in American politics and history. Um, what else? Oh! Because I grew up in Seattle in a very, very liberal Catholic environment, I have had a lot of incredibly positive experiences with the church in regards to social reform and openness, even if the vatican isn’t liberal. And there are a lot of sects of the Catholic church that are much more conservative/anti-gay/anti-women, etc etc etc. but the overwhelming majority of Catholics in my world don’t share those views at all. I love chatting with people about religion, I love hearing how other people view things and how they interpret spirituality and the world around them. I don’t talk about it here because I don’t see a space for it. But I love this question and it really never occurred to me that anyone would wonder.

      ** I actually have a hard time reconciling with a lot of things as far as dogmatic religion goes. But there are a few things I see as true about the whole religion vs spirituality debacle: 1) Religion is a human way of understanding the complexity of spirituality. It is not perfect and it doesn’t give answers for everything as far as I’m concerned. 2) I think it is really important to constantly question and ponder and evolve and discover bits and pieces of theology/spirituality/personhood. I think it is all part of enlightenment, being the best person you can, appreciating what is around us, etc etc. and 3) Being Catholic, for me, is not simply about going to mass and knowing holy days. It is a much bigger culture and community that I identify with. But! on the other hand, I have a unique relationship with being catholic because my mom isn’t catholic – she is Presbyterian, and my dad never studied Catholicism to the extent that I have, so I’ve made it my own thing.

      Where it comes in in our family – Kamel is also Catholic by culture, being Mexican, and we talk about religion a lot. We like to discuss beliefs and thoughts and ideas. We also discuss it in how we want to raise our kids. We do want to baptize our babies in the church, but we probably won’t until they are a little older. We want to figure out a community that we like first and then baptize them in that church. We take it seriously, but at the same time not that seriously. I’m not very good at following random church rules or veins of thought, but I think the church deserves respect because ultimately they are trying to do good things, even with flaws.

  29. • Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    Errr….no. But I am always very hesitant to say forever, ever. Houston is too big and it swallows me up sometimes. I’m not thrilled with the traffic-y, busy, dirty, ickyness of huge city life. BUT…I do want to bring up our future kids around family. So it’s tough. But we are both open to all the possibilities, domestic and international.

    • Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    Some, yes. Some, no. I don’t write nearly enough. But I find myself stuck a lot more often when I do sit down to do it. And I’m terrified that this might mean my passions have shifted. (Acceptable, mostly. But scary because I’ve used them to define me for so long!) I do spend quite a bit of time cooking and reading, which brings me much joy.

    • What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    Hummm… I don’t have any. But I do frequent independent restaurants. There is this little Thai place we discovered a few months ago, and we’ve been probably a dozen times already!

    • How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    It hit its peak right around the time that I graduated, pushing an influx of really experienced people into the job hunt and I feel like that edged me out. Companies were not interested in a fresh grad with a liberal arts degree when they could have someone who had been around the block for the same price.

    • What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    Sweet potato. Hands down. Baked and topped with good stuff. I used to only eat them with sweet toppings like brown sugar and cinnamon, but discovered that they are equally good with savory, salty ones like black beans, salsa, and cumin. Noms.

    • What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    Getting to spend more time with D now that he isn’t working crazy hours anymore. Weekend snuggles = win.

    • Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Admittedly, this week has been uncharacteristically negative for me. Mostly ranting about money…or lack thereof with the crazy pay schedule change at work. Even though it’s my fault for not reading emails more carefully. Money is so stressful sometimes. Mehr.

    • And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

    When did you know Kamel was the one for you forever and ever? Someone asked me this today, even though D and I aren’t married yet, but I still know. You two are so open and honest, even when it’s not the most charming or flattering, and I really admire that.

    1. Awww Amanda! Your question is so sweet. I have been thinking about it for a few days, actually. It’s a toughy.

      So…. Kamel and I started dating and then a few months/weeks/etc later I moved to Seattle while he stayed in SF. He was supposed to move to Seattle and he was applying for work. I hated long distance and had refused to participate (except there I was in a long distance relationship. gah.) …. and it actually wasn’t all that stressful. Which shocked me, because generally long distance relationships are the WORST and they suck all of the energy out of everything ever and they are horrible soul-crushers. So, I guess that was clue number 1: when long distance didn’t feel so hard. And then! One day Kamel admitted to me that he couldn’t move. (Even after we had apartment hunted etc etc) And that was a turning point for me. I was almost going into a doctors appointment when he called me and I knew that we were going to break up… or not. And I was really mad. Really really mad. I felt lied to, I felt like he had lead me on, I felt like there wasn’t going to be an end to this terrible long distance bullshit (even though it wasn’t nearly as bad as all that, not even in the moment), my light at the end of the tunnel had been completely shut off as far as I was concerned.

      But we didn’t break up. As annoying, as frustrating as the situation was, as much as I couldn’t anticipate what was going to happen next, I knew that I would rather be with him than be without him. Even while flying to SF every other weekend, even while not seeing him for a month or more at a time. Even with all of that. And 3-4 months later I moved back to SF. And then 4 months after that we were engaged. He almost always felt like home.

      1. So sweet. And so much better than “I just knew.” haha I think that is how I knew, too. When doing things that were so difficult, making sacrifices, and 100% considering your relationship when making decisions…isn’t so hard. It’s natural, even. It’s home. That’s when you know.

  30. •I’m not currently where I would want to be forever (too far from family) but I can’t say I would ever want to live one place forever. Right now I’m happy here, but next step will hopefully be closer to my sister and her babies.
    •I do not spend enough time on my “passions”. A few reasons – I got a puppy and I bought a fixer-upper this year. So I spend a ton of time on those two loves and have no time left for other”passions”. Thats okay, life interests come in waves. I’m hoping next year the dog will be more chill and I can get back to crafting when I don’t worry about him eating everything.
    •I love thrift stores and antique malls
    •So far we’ve been lukcy and haven’t felt much affect directly. I suppose I would say that because our family members have been out of work a good chunk of the last 2-3 years we made sure our upcoming wedding would be in a location they could easily (cheaply) travel to rather than having it where we live currently.
    •Roasted brussel sprouts with parmesan and lemon.
    •My boyfriend makes me so happy. I truly picked a great partner, even if he refuses to give feedback during wedding planning.
    •I’ve been ranting about work too much lately. And gun control. Why must everyone I know talk about gun control as though the only options being considered are either access to all guns or access to no guns.
    •No questions, but I’d like to say thank you for being so open and honest about the pregnancy. As someone about to get married whose parents pressure me about grandkids I appreciate hearing the good and the bad.

  31. Wow, I love this to pieces! Lauren I love how curious you are, and these are such great questions. I want to read everybody’s answers!

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. I love where we live so much that I will rant about it at length to anyone who will listen. I feel like we won the apartment lottery, the suburb lottery, and the city lottery. (St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia. By the beach. Near cool bars and great public transport and a run down century-old amusement park. Like I said, I could go on for hours, because I love it so much.) That said, if we got the chance to go on a big adventure through one of our jobs and live in New York or San Francisco or somewhere else fantastic for a year, I would be totally up for that.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    This is a balancing act for me, because I love to write and work on my novels, and I also work a demanding job… I’m lucky that I’ve found a way to balance the two, but sometimes I do really wish I had more time to write. And I also try to make time for my other passions (singing, knitting, baking, my husband (haha) um, lots of things…) This year I divided my massive goals list up into months just so I didn’t leave any one thing out. So far it’s working well!

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    http://www.hello-holiday.com. Full disclosure, I haven’t bought anything there yet! But the clothes are SO pretty, and I really respect and admire one of the founders, Megan Hunt, for being outspokenly feminist and opinionated and thoughtful, a young mum and a business owner, and just generally an all round legend. I love reading her thoughts online – I’ve been reading her blog for maybe four years, and she just goes from strength to strength. She really inspires me to be stronger and more intentional in who I am. I fully intend to buy lots of things from Hello Holiday as soon as I can (as I can only buy new wardrobe things when I get rid of the old things… storage and money issues, bleh.)

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    In Australia, we’ve barely felt it. I noticed it when the GFC first hit and I needed to get a job, because that seemed impossible. But I did eventually get a job, and nothing has really changed since then, financially. I feel astronomically lucky about this, and also aware that our economy is not “safe”… it could plunge at any moment.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Haha I think we’ve talked about this Lauren…

    http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/06/broccoli-parmesan-fritters/

    We eat this all the time. ALL the time. Usually with greek yoghurt which has lemon juice and raw garlic stirred through it, and feta cheese. That recipe serves two people for a full meal, btw, and it’s super easy and quick to prepare. Yay!

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    My husband. Which I know is super cheesy, but it’s true. He is the core of my life, just that he exists makes me glad. Other things: newfound love for the gym, working on revisions for my novel, looking forward to girls’ night out tonight with some of my best ladies. All of those things are making me super happy!

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    Haha… oh of course… usually I wind up ranting about work. Can’t say more details because I’m a lawyer… but yes. Confidential ranting x a million! But also getting to help people… silver lining, big time. And of course St Kilda! Just before! 😀

  32. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    ~Unsure at this time. We live in Atlanta, and my husband’s family is all close by. I’ve always wanted to live in a big city, and I like being near family (and I really like his family), but I don’t love the South. I am surprised by the things I miss from where I grew up and we’re talking about moving back to the Southwest. So we may end up in Colorado or Arizona or even Washington. So, answer is to be determined still.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    ~ Well, I’m an amateur athlete and thereby I spend several hours a day training. I definitely am passionate about swimming and fitness. I would like to be a little motivated in my love of crafts and design, however.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    Where I got my wedding dress: http://www.doragrace.com
    Also, the Old Town Spice Shop is owned by a friend of mine from high school: https://oldtownspiceshop.com

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    Well, for me, first I couldn’t find anything to do in my field (Anthropology) so I went back to school and got a Legal Assistant degree and then STILL couldn’t find anything so worked for a non-profit for a year and a half before working as a government contractor and hating it — and now trying to figure out what I want again. I started studying to be a personal trainer this year.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    ~Favorite vegetable is tough! I like so many of them. I guess Broccoli. I love it either as Broccoli in Garlic Sauce: http://www.glutenfreediva.com/2009/06/stir-crazy/
    or as Cauliflower and Broccoli Gratin: http://www.cleaneatingmag.com/Recipes/Recipe/Cauliflower-Broccoli-Au-Gratin.aspx

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest? I want to say my husband but it is truthfully probably swim team. Because if I don’t swim I am a grouchy grouchy person.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    ~ I’m sure it was disability rights. As usual. See an illustration via cartoon of our date night to the movies: http://www.thatdeafguy.com/comics/2013-01-03.jpg <– not by me but Matt and Kay Deagle are pretty great artists and I love how true their representation of Deafness is.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.
    ~A fitness inspiration of mine commented last week on the women at the Golden Globes. She is pregnant as well, and wondered if her thinking that these ladies were incredibly thin was because of that. What were your thoughts on the Globes and on body image in general?

    1. I think the interesting thing about the recession is that it has made things not-so-easy. And as comfortable and lovely as that would have been to just pop into a job (for me as well), I find myself grateful for the freedom and opportunity to figure it out a little more. I think a lot of people go to school and then get to work… or maybe at least they used to. And then they do that job or something near there for a long long time. And now! Because it was impossible for me to find work in my field initially, I have done so much more than I ever thought I would. It’s pretty cool when I’m not banging my head against a wall. 🙂

      Body image and the golden globes. Welllll…. in general, I think celebrities do not live realistic lives. They spend a lot of money on image and appearance… like probably an obscene percentage of their budget because that is a big part of their life and their work. They have access to trainers and treatments and food people and an overwhelming pressure to not have any physical flaws. So… when I watch these shows, it’s like seeing models or figurines – I view them as inspiration for glamour, but not a reality.

      And pregnant famous people are not any different. I think the majority of women in Hollywood are under weight. So they are probably starting off pregnant as being underweight. I cannot look like them when they aren’t pregnant, so I do not expect myself to look like them when they are pregnant. I think they are showcasing an unrealistic view of women’s bodies overall – pregnant and not. Does this bother me? It kind of doesn’t. I see this world as a fantasy world of make believe. I live in the real world. Where I am not going to even attempt to fit into pregnant spanks because what the fuck that is ridiculous. I live in the world of occasional brunch pancakes and chocolate chip cookies. I thought Kristen Bell’s dress was amazing, but then my second thought was “my arms would not look as good in those little sparkly sleeves” but that’s ok! Because I am not wearing an evening gown while pregnant, I’m wearing panel jeans and huffing and puffing to work like the rest of the normal people. The problem becomes when people start expecting me or themselves to look like the famous people, but then… I think that is probably a la-la land, maturity flaw. Yes, beauty and “perfection” are pervasive in magazines and TV… but so is drug addiction, suicide, eating disorders, horribly unstable relationships, falls from grace, etc. But those people have no bearing on my life, and I really have no bearing on their’s… except when I buy a movie ticket. And the people who may judge me or themselves for not living up to a famous person’s figure? I think they probably need a hobby… or have not experienced real struggle… or need some hugs. Probably a lot of hugs.

  33. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    – Yeah, no. I live in a suburb of Texas that’s about 30 minutes away from Houston and it kind of sucks. I’m getting more and more ok with the idea that I’ll live in Texas for a long time, so ideally my husband and I want to live in Austin.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    – Yes and no. I teach music lessons as my job, and music is a huge passion of mine. But on the other hand, I don’t take enough time for other passions. There are so many other things I need to find time to do!

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    – To be honest, I don’t have one. Lately I’ve been more into eating at independently owned places. That’s definitely one good reason to drive the 30 minutes to Houston 🙂

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    – When the recession really hit Texas, the state decided that we didn’t need as many teachers as we had. So when my boyfriend (now husband) and I graduated with our Masters degrees and moved back home to Texas, it became very difficult to find teaching jobs in our area (music). My husband is currently in his second year working at a school where he works more than the hours of a full time teacher, but has no benefits and gets paid as if he’s substitute teaching everyday. Thankfully he really likes the job and has the possibility of moving to a full time position. The past two years have been really difficult though for both of us because of it.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    – I’m one of those strange people who like veggies. Like, almost all of them. My favorite is broccoli though. I’ll eat it all sorts of ways! My husband (who isn’t the biggest fan) will actually eat it roasted with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper 🙂

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    – I got married a month and a half ago!! Even though nothing physically changed for us (we lived together almost 4 years before we married) it’s been really exciting navigating through things together and experiencing the things that did change (like sharing holidays).

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Yes, yesterday actually. I read an article on Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emma-gray/esquire-megan-fox-profile_b_2488989.html) that was referencing an article in Esquire magazine about Megan Fox. After reading both the article from HP and parts of the actual article I got pretty pissed. The whole part about calling Adele, Lena Dunham, Lady Gaga and Amy Adams plain made me livid. My poor husband got an earful.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?
    – Is music a big part of your life? Or any part at all? What artists/bands are you enjoying at the moment?

    1. Music!! Oh man… I love music. But I am the anti music snob. I like some music that no one has heard of, and I like a lot of music that everyone has heard of. I love dancing, and I love listening to the radio in the car, and I love singing along even though I can’t sing (but i pretend I can). I LOVE IT. Tunes make me happy. But I am really not picky, because I will shimmy and shake and sing along to just about anything.

      When I was in college I was way more into music and bands and knowing stuff than I am now. At the moment I like Mumford and Sons just like everybody else, even though they are totally a christian band and no one seems to be talking about that and I keep feeling like I’m in the twilight zone that no one has picked up to their totally jesus-y lyrics (which, if I’m being honest… turns me off). I also really like Fun. Especially (and this is my one music snobbery coming out) because I LOVED and still LOVE The Format, which is where the lead singer is from. Sigh. And I cried when The Format broke up. So hearing him on the radio makes me happy. I also love Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel and James Taylor. And right now I kind of can’t get enough of Macklemore. I am a hodge podge of beats.

      I don’t post music on the blog because I find that incredibly boring when other bloggers I like do. (Confession)

  34. I love living in a close suburb of LA but I’d love to live downtown at some point and by the beach, maybe north county San Diego.

    I’m worried I have no real passion. 🙁

    I love roasted asparagus! Brussels sprouts a close second.

    I’m super happy to be almost done with training for my 1st marathon.

    I rant constantly and this week like most it was about work.

    What’s your favorite thing about taking public transit?

      1. Those are my two favorite things too! I sometimes envy people who drive (Oh the freedom to go where you please!) but every time I drive to work I’m like this is AWFUL I could not do this everyday.

        Love all your posts!

  35. Well, as for myself, I can’t resist a question, especially in written form. And, from the number of answers to this post, it looks like I’m not alone! So here we are:

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    I never planned to stay in Paris, even for the littlest time, so I’m really looking forward to being able to go back to my original mountains. Though, after I hit the one year mark of my Parisian life, I actually… kind of get used to it all of a sudden. My sister moved in nearby, and I got myself a few friends and I discovered some cool shops and restaurants. I could even imagine myself staying a bit longer without minding to much. But I still miss the Alps really bad.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    I’m still debating with myself around that question actually. The problem being that I want to do too many things. And I have quite a cycle of interests that come and go around the year. Currently, it’s a difficult time because lots of my interests are knocking on my door all at once and I can’t honour them as they should, not only because of the limited amount of hours in a day, but also because of the limited amount of free space in my brain.
    So I tried to make a kind of a little schedule for myself: I read magazines and I write in the morning before going to work, I read novels during my hour-long commutes, I scrapbook on the week-ends only, I knit while watching educational videos (since I discovered this website – http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses -, I can’t get over all of the free knowledge out there! I’m studying American Literature! And psychology! From my bed!) or Doctor Who episodes in bed or in my three-hour-long trains every other week.
    And I’m really frustrated that I can’t do more…

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    I’ve discovered the wonders of the independent yarn shops that you can find all over Paris. They feed my knitting envies!

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    Well, not much because I have the immense chance of being a public servant. So my salary doesn’t vary much whatever the economical context. And my partner has quite a good job so -even if he’s not been able to get the raises he deserves- we’ve not been too much impacted.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Well, I’m not a fan of cooked vegetables. I prefer them raw. But I make an exception for minced spinach, with cream and croutons and some soft-boiled eggs on the side. Miam !

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    I’m really delighted of my new found love for American literature. I had never read much of it but I began a few weeks ago, following first this http://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse and now that http://www.youtube.com/course?list=ECE33BCD966FF96F23 . I’m really really excited about all of those novels I didn’t know about and that I still have to read! There’s always something to look forward to…
    And, even if we’re not making any big deal of it at all (we’re only doing it so I can have a chance to get to move jobs back to Grenoble), I’m still quite happy and excited that we will be signing our civil union ten days from now…

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    The weather has not been so good for a couple of weeks, so my morning train is more packed than ever. And I’ve been ranting that this Parisian life is really bad for the health. Having to stand still in a crowded wagon for two hours a day makes me very tired and cranky. Even if I try very hard to see this commute as winning two hours of reading time, I’d rather read while sitting and not while bouncing against strangers and getting elbows in my ribs all the time… Pfff…

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

    What did you get from your college degree (I understand it was about creative writing?)? Was it interesting? Was it useful, as related to your current work or your writing endeavour? Was it just a growing time, life-wise, giving you space to figure out how to become a grown-up?

    1. I love that your happy thing is reading new things!!! There are so many books out there that I never feel like I will read enough. And it’s so easy to just stick with the same old, same old. 🙂

      And I am so sorry I haven’t gotten to your comment earlier! It was in my spam folder!

      So my degree. I have two. The first was in Rhetoric and Anthropology and the second was a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The first, I think, was a little about figuring out what I wanted and who I was and how to be a grown up. It also gave me a broad world view and a sophistication I didn’t have before. So I am very grateful.

      My second degree was about honing my skills as a writer. At the time I thought it would really help me getting a creative job in the real world, but it didn’t totally turn out that way because of the recession. I wanted to be a professor, but I don’t believe that is the path I will be taking anymore. Not because I don’t want to, but because the teaching world is incredibly demanding and difficult to enter. I went into graduate school taking it very seriously. I went in seeing it as a job, as every class being an opportunity to network and build my skills.

      Right now I am a writer in the travel industry and I write sales-focused stuff for the internet. I also have creative projects on the side that I hope to throw myself into even more once I am no longer pregnant.

  36. •Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    Yes and no. We want to stay in Fayetteville– we love it, and we are close to family when we have wee ones! But we do not want to stay in our townhouse forever. No washer and dryer, and a less than amazing kitchen. Sigh. But it has worked wonderfully for us otherwise thus far– eventually we just want to buy a house somewhere in the area with a place for a garden!

    •Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    Yes, I think so. Sometimes I don’t sleep enough for the sake of it, which is probably bad. But I spend a lot of time reading, and taking photos, although this year I want to focus more on taking photos for me instead of for work.

    •What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    Hmm. Locally, an AMAZING used bookstore called the Dickson St. Bookshop (http://www.bucketlistnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/bookstore11.jpg). Online, for art I love http://www.etsy.com/shop/thewheatfield and http://www.etsy.com/shop/thebigharumph; for jewelry I think http://www.etsy.com/shop/nervoussystem is so neat. (Lindi gave me the silver reticulate earrings for Christmas and I love them.)

    •How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    I was laid off last spring, and although I found another full time job in the summer, silly necesary things like buying food and paying bills caused us to go into credit card debt for the first time once we went through our emergency savings. I’m of the “don’t put anything on the credit card unless you can pay it off right away” mindset, and since we still haven’t caught up financially and been able to pay off the debt, it hurts my heart.

    •What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Oh dear. I love so many. I really love steamed swisschard with garlic and butter. I love roasted veggies in the oven– carrots, cabbage wedges, and asparagus especially. Oh, and spinach sauteed with a cracked egg and parmesan. Yummmmm.

    •What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    Lindi. Cheesy but true. I’m constantly amazed that I was so lucky to find the love of my life when we were both relatively young. <3

    •Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    Last night we got into a long discussion about rape apologists... something that gets my rant-iness up. I abhor the fact that we live in a culture where I could more quickly name the number of my close female friends and relatives who have NOT been molested or assaulted in their life at some point than name the number who have been. It is so awful. It really pisses me off that we live in a society that normalizes sexual violence (against men and women, though the lion's share is certainly against women.)

    •And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

    What is the most important thing you and Kamel do to strengthen your relationship with each other?

    ALSO, when are you guys coming to see us? 😉

    1. Rape apologists!!!!!! RIGHT?!! My god… I can’t believe that is even a thing. Fuck.

      The number one most important thing that Kamel and I do to strengthen our relationship is: Maintain absolute honesty. When he hurts my feelings I say, “you hurt my feelings.” When he is frustrated he says “I am frustrated, go away!” When I am worried about something, I tell him. When I hate him (we all hate them sometimes, it is unavoidable) I tell him! Keeping in feelings and secrets (to me) makes them bigger and scarier. I know when he is having a bad man-PMS day. He knows when I’ve wound myself up to explosion time. It also works on the good things: I tell him when I appreciate him, when I love him, when he makes me proud. I don’t hold back how excited I am to see him, if I need him for cuddles.

      What do you do? I like this question. 🙂 🙂

      1. Yes! Honesty, absolutely. We’re pretty freaking honest with one another, and that is something I love about us. I think one of the most important things we do is to make sure we’re good is to set aside time just for us– actual quality time. A long time ago, Lindi had a therapist who asked her if we were spending enough time on just the two of us, and Lindi said, “Yes, we go grocery shopping, and clean the house together, and do homework together!” And the therapist said, “Oh honey, that’s not exactly ‘quality time’.” And it’s true.

        So now, we try to make sure we have some good time just for us. It’s hard, because we both want it so much, but then we have day jobs and two businesses and friends and family. And other silly things like, you know, sleep. So it’s a constant battle to find balance, but it’s 100% worth it.

  37. *Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    This is something I’ve been thinking about a LOT lately. I don’t think I am where I want to stay forever and ever, but right now this is the place with the best career opportunities for me/arguably us–both short and long-term. No idea where I want to go…I just kinda miss the ocean.

    *Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    This is a great question. I really need to find myself a passion.

    *What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    I need to think about this one…

    *How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    It definitively made it much, more difficult to get a job–I had 8 second-round interviews for a position the week the bailout proposal failed and every single employer I was interviewing for instituted a hiring freeze. Woohoo! Thankfully I had outstanding offers already but it was really stressful. It’s also made it very, very difficult for my husband to switch jobs.

    *What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Roasted. Sweet. Potatoes. Also, french green beans sauteed with shallots, lemon zest, and olive oil, and honey roasted parsnips. I can keep going. I love vegetables.

    *What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    My relationship with my husband. 2012 was a trying yea but we’re back to being “us” and this makes me happiest. 🙂

    *Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    I probably did. I rant a lot. 😉

    QUESTION FOR LAUREN: What’s your favorite thing about where you live?

    1. I don’t think I use lemon zest enough… and I really need to. I love that smell more than anything. I wish i could – without seeming like a crazy person – put lemon zest in little bowls all over the house. Sigh.

      My favorite thing about where I live!!! Well… I’ll go micro and get macro. My apartment – the storage. From a place with 1 closet for the whole place to now 3 plus a pantry – heaven. My neighborhood – being able to walk to trader joes. And finally! The Bay Area – A lot of creative/techy/entertaining opportunities everywhere, plus it is amazing to live in a place where people come to from all over the world for vacation. Like Napa. I have been there many times, marvel at it always, but I am really lucky to have it so close. 🙂

  38. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    No, Bethesda/DC is definitely a stopping point for me. I would like to move back to the west coast (LA) where my best friends live. It is definitely easier to get home to seattle from LA than it is from DC. Also, the weather is one bajillion times better.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    A recent passion of mine has been crafting, and I’ve gone a bit nuts making glittery magnets and a silvery glitter faux taxidermy deer head, but now that i’m studying for the bar and work has gotten crazy again, I am finding it hard to do anything except veg out on the couch in between work and studying. Maybe in a couple months!

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    There’s a consignment store here called mustard seed where i found a pair of brand new seven jeans (with the tags still on!) for $40. it is amazeballs. I haven’t been in a while, bc my resolution is to stop spending money, but i have very fond memories.

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    I wasn’t able to get a job in the market that i wanted (LA), which is why i’m stuck out here in DC by myself. Everything worked out, I have a job and I’m able to pay for a place to live, but it was rough going for a while, especially when I was deferred. I’d like to think that it’s good that the recession hit us now when we’re young and in the early stages of our careers. can you imagine if we had been about to retire and the recession hit? i would be so pissed. 🙁 (Sorry old people)

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    roasted broccoli and red bell peppers, tossed with olive oil and minced garlic.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    I bought a tub of rainbow sherbert ice cream at the grocery store the other day and it is SO YUMMY. makes me feel like a kid, without a care in the world.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    Yes, the same thing I rant about every week. WORK.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

    What is your biggest regret in life?

    1. I really admire the craft-ers of the internet. I don’t do that. I am terrible at it. But I WISH that I had all of the cute crafty things in my house!! Maris showed me your deer head – it is similar to my deer head except with PIZAZZ. 🙂 I fully support the faux animal head movement. (That sounds weird.)

      My BIGGEST regret… There are some things I would do differently if I had the chance to re-do… but those are not really REGRETS because I don’t feel the reverbs all that much. And regrets kind of come and go. It used to be that I regretted moving back to seattle right after grad school because it had me lose a lot of connections in the bay, and I should have stayed and used them to get a job or continue in the literary world. But! I feel like THAT situation all worked out in the end. I think the 1 thing that has pissed me off and frustrated me for the longest is: Picking the grad school that I did. My professors in undergrad didn’t help me as much as I thought they had while figuring out how and where to apply to grad school – which (it turns out) is a really fucking important decision for your career future. I just picked schools in areas I was willing to live. I thought that every grad school had a teaching option, that they all gave stipends for working for the university, and set you up for an actual CAREER afterwards. And mine didn’t. And I didn’t figure that out until too late. And I guess that is my biggest regret… I was so willing to bust my ass and I really really wanted to teach, and I found myself in a situation that didn’t give me the experience I needed to get those jobs after I graduated. Instead, I had to work full time while also going to school full time, and when I did TA for a women’s lit class – I was only paid $10/hour for a max of 10 hours a week even though I held office hours, went to every class on top of my classes on top of my normal person job, and always worked more than 10 hours. AND STILL had to pay normal tuition. So when I could have worked for the university for a full year, I couldn’t balance it all. And that is a massive disservice. Other people I know went to lesser schools than mine and were able to come out with 3 years of teaching experience and continue in the academic world. I should have taken more time to figure out what I really needed in a grad school. And I just didn’t know enough to do that.

      1. Yeah, I think my biggest regret is choosing to go to law school where I had to pay for it, instead of being smart and going somewhere for free or at least cheaper. :/ the good thing is we are still young (ish) and we still have plenty of time to fix whatever “mistakes” we feel we’ve made.

        PS your apartment tour post was one of my faves–when are you going to show us MORE?? 🙂

  39. I’ll play 🙂
    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    Hmm, good question. I love it here (Arizona). But I’ve always wanted to live in Montana. I don’t know why. And my husband wants to live in Alaska. I’d live there as long as I can get some really warm stuff.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    Not at all.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    🙁 I don’t have one.

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    *sigh* we were hit really hard by the recession. Both of us are in construction. I was laid off twice and now make substantially less than I did several years ago. My husband also took quite the pay cut and struggled with having enough work to even get in 40 hours a week for a few years.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    Mmmm zucchini sauteed in olive oil with garlic, sea salt, and pepper.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    My home life.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    How bored I am at work LOL

  40. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    I’m not sure my answer to this question. I love Chicago and I LOVE living/working in the city, plus soon I am assuming Kyle and Liz are going to start having kids so I am not going to want to be very far, plus it’s great to have lots of people around to help with Elphie, but at the same time, I do desire to experience living other places. Maybe I after I leave this job, I will go live somewhere for a few weeks again like I did in Mexico.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    Ah yes, passions. I struggle with what exactly those are and how much time I should be spending on them. I always mean to get back to writing/blogging or my little craft projects but I can’t seem to focus on one thing at a time for long enough, which in a way is kinda great. I have spent quite a bit of time (or as much as I can) in the past few years traveling, both over seas and domestically, which is one of my main passions. I also try to do something new and different locally when I cant get out and travel. Adventure is great, no matter the form!

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    Hmmm…I have been bad about this lately, esp because there is a Walmart Neighborhood Market that I can access without going outside…It pains me to shop there but the convenience is just too great! I did just discover this today on etsy and thought it was the cutest thing: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mugsweater?ref=seller_info

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    I had to really think about this one. I’m guessing that if it weren’t for the recession, I would never have stayed as long at Omax, wouldn’t have made a great of friends there, wouldn’t have met Mr. Man, wouldn’t have ended up having a lot of the experiences I hold dear. When I came back from Mexico, I guess you could say that the recession was part of the reason I didn’t go back to work for a year, but I also wasn’t looking very hard. It was a nice break that I could use the recession to justify. 🙂

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    I’m going to pretend that sweet potato counts here, and I like it best chopped up and mixed with red onion and garlic and roasted in the oven. Or spiced up with some cayenne pepper and then roasted. I also really love caramelized onions but I am way too impatient to make them myself.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    My studio apartment in the city and all the new things that has afforded me like: free time! a gorgeous view! entertaining boys! cooking! netflix marathons without anyone giving me crap about it! walking to work!

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    I am currently in the middle of a rant/text rant about some coworkers who are just rude with a coworker who is not rude. It is making me feel much better about said rude coworkers.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

    What is the cutest item of clothing you’ve bought/received for Baby Gabe that you just can’t wait to put on him?

    1. I am so jealous about your apartment in the city!! And I’m loving the photos you’re posting on Insta. 🙂 YAY!!!

      My favorite piece of clothing is a little monkey hat. I’m hoping he wears it home from the hospital. MONKEY HAT!!!!

  41. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    I love Seattle. I love living here. My family and friends are here and that makes me very happy. However, I would love to live abroad at some point. Not sure where, not sure for how long, not sure before or after kids but I really want to do it.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    I have an awesome, unpaid second job doing activism. I read the news like a junkie, talk to other smart, thoughtful people about important issues and organize folks into action. Sometimes the work is overwhelming, most of the time I wish someone would pay me a living wage to do it full time so I could write more.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    Elliott Bay Books. The hardwood floors, the new book smell, the cafe, all of it is amazing. http://www.elliottbaybook.com/

    How did/does the recession affect you?
    I graduated into the early stages of the recession. I managed to find a good job but as a public sector employee the recession means no raises, no COLA and constant political attack. Being told my work has no value and that my health care is responsible for bankrupting America can ware you down after a while.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    I am a vegetable junkie. Gimme more. Gimme all of em. Currently I’m obsessed with brussel sprouts. Made this recipe for a December potluck and it was divine: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2011/11/dijon-braised-brussels-sprouts/

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    My friends and family. 2013 has, thus far, be a parade of paid dividends. The second half of 2012 was all about being held up by friends and family during a period of crappy transition. Now that I’m feeling much more like myself and back on my feet, it’s been fabulous to celebrate and toast to good things with people that love me.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    I rant about things every day. This week it’s about the Notre Dame football program and their utter lack of moral compass.

    1. I love the idea of “paid dividends.” I’m hoping my friends will still be around when I am done wallowing in my overwhelming life – pregnancy – changes. Last year I was sending out love notes to my people, and rocking out with christmas presents, and this year I feel like I have failed in that category. I am still kicking myself for it. But I promise to make up for it!!!

  42. This post is so cool! I really enjoyed reading through the responses.
    I normally am very curious about other people, their opinions, experiences, feelings, what drives them, etc. but far too often I don’t dare to ask those questions for fear of being nosy or annoying or inappropriate. This might be one of the reasons why I enjoy reading blogs. I guess, I’m not a very brave person.
    Well, on to your gorgeous questions.

    – Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    No. I am a bit of a restless soul and dream of living in different places before finally maybe settling down once I have a family with growing kids. Currently, I am doing an exchange year in England. I have not fallen in love with this country and it will definitely not be where I spend the rest of my life. Nor will it – hopefully – be the big city I regularly study at in Germany.
    Ideally it will either be a small town somewhere in southern Germany (not too far from family and friends) or somewhere in Chile (or Argentina). I lived there for one year and am deeply in love with the country and the people.

    – Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    This exchange has been exhausting and far more stressful than I had anticipated which left me with very little time to spend on fun things but I hope this term will work out better.
    However, I am truly passionate about music and just seem to forget how important it is until I stumble across it again and instantly feel so much better. (weird)

    – What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    I’m afraid, I can’t provide any tips here. I’m just not an online shopper at all. sorry!

    – How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    I don’t think it affected me and my family a lot. I guess in Germany it just hasn’t had such an obvious impact. Also, at the moment I am still in the comfortable position of being a student and not having to worry about real jobs yet. (there are always a lot of students’ jobs in the city) We’ll see how that turns out when I am graduated and applying for my first job, though.

    – What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    I love broccoli! (steamed, with salt, a liiittle bit of nutmeg and roasted almond slices)
    Also: roasted brussels sprouts with garlic. And zucchini. ( I seem to have a thing for green veggies… )
    I’ll basically eat it all.

    – What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    The prospect that some friends might actually come to visit me here – every time I think of it, I get ridiculously excited! I love my friends so much and having them around makes everything 100 times more fun. (even now, just writing this down I can’t stop smiling. yay for friends!)

    – Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Well, yes. Although most rants take place in my head as I still haven’t found people here whom I feel confident to rant with. (they might be offended. or it could be impropriate. this is extremely brave me again)
    I mainly ranted about being a guinea pig in this mess of an exchange scheme because who on earth did think these arrangements are a good idea? Am I superwoman or what?
    I might also had a rant or two about my neighbours being rude and messy people and about the weather being shit. I guess I just was in rant mode.

    – And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?
    If you had to move to a country you have never been to, which would it be? why?

    1. I have been thinking about your question for DAYS!!! It is so interesting because there are places I would move to that I have been to (Mexico City, France, Canada) but… that I haven’t? I think this deserves a top 3 list:

      1) Australia because I think there are a lot of options for good living locations, plus a good economy and really good social services.

      2) England because I speak the languages (useful!), it’s close to other places in europe, and it also has a booming economy.

      3) Italy – not so much with the booming economy, and though I studied Italian in college, I don’t remember enough of it for it to count – I am italian and I think the culture would be amazing to experience for a while. 🙂

      What about you?

      1. Aww, Australia is awesome! (I was lucky to be able to spend one month there – and if I had to move, this would definitely be on my list)

        Hmm… I think my list of unknown countries would include:

        1) Sweden because of the very good social services and opportunities for working moms (I’m not a mom yet but I really like the idea of children not being a “career stopper” as it happens so often in my home country). Also, I think I’d really enjoy the climate and countryside.

        2) Brazil because I love South America and its people and because I have a friend there whom I love dearly and miss a lot. And because I want to learn portuguese so badly. Also, I just am unreasonable like that.

        3) Portugal because in my mind, it’s warm and sunny and friendly. I think, I would love the culture and people there. Besides, it has the Atlantic Ocean and I could learn portuguese. What else could I want?

  43. I love this! It reminds me of my livejournal days when 1/3 of my posts were responses to those surveys that would circulate on the interwebs.

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    Yes! I think I am! I love our current city and having lived in several other places I feel pretty confident that it is the best place, long term, for us to be. I still have wanderlust, and I want to live abroad and in California and wherever the winds take us, but I feel pretty sure that Austin is Home. Which is SUCH a nice feeling. The only downside is it is far from family/friends. So I am just on a sustained campaign to get them to move here 🙂

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    No. I need to dance more, definitely. And cook and write more.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    This place was an awesome discovery during xmas shopping: http://www.theburlapbag.com/

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    The biggest effect is that it drove me to grad school right after college, even though I would have preferred to get a job first. But there were basically no jobs for recent college grads in 2009. In the end, this worked out really great, so I can’t complain.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked? Brussels sprouts stir fried is awesome. I also recently roasted cabbage because I had some left over and it was AMAZING which I totally did not expect.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    Big life thing–my husband and my dog greeting me when I come home from work every day. Little thing–that our NPR station has swapped out The World for Fresh Air in the 7 pm time slot. If I could be interviewed by Terri Gross I think my life would be complete.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    I probably have, but I don’t remember. My most frequent rant is on Daylight Savings Time, because it is the WORST and it steals light from us so cruelly and all at once. This is the sole policy area where I think Arizona is doing better than all other states.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.
    How did you decide on Gabe’s name? I am really fascinated by names and their meanings and how people decide.

    1. Ahhhh this was so hard!! Kamel was so picky and I love ALL THE NAMES. Well.. I love all interesting names. We had way more girl names than boy names. Actually – if we have another boy with pregnancy #2, it’s going to be quite the dilemma to find another name. Our criteria was:

      1) It had to have a nickname option because I have ALWAYS WANTED a nickname!!!! And there is just nothing short for Lauren. Womp.

      2) We wanted something that wasn’t super typical.

      3) And! We loved Gabriel because it has an epic literary/mythology background. Gabriel is a badass angel with a fiery sword and stuff.

      4) I am the first of my best friends to be pregnant and I also didn’t want to hijack one of their names that they really wanted. I have always loved Benjamin, but so do many of my friends…. and just because we are first… I dunno, I didn’t feel like it would be cool to swoop in and snatch it up when I would be just as happy naming my kid something else.

      Oh and just for fun, other names on our possible list before settling on Gabe: Oscar, Felix, Jackson, Nathaniel… and just now when I was asking Kamel about what names we were throwing around through this whole process we are already disagreeing on which we like/dislike all over again. hahaha. Gah! It’s so hard!!

  44. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go? I live in Chicago in a wonderful apartment where I’m comfortable, however, I want to keep moving and seeing the world. I was married 1.5 years ago and people ask us if we are going to “settle” in Chicago and the word makes me cringe. This cringe impulse is probably why I also am so inspired by the 13-year-old Dutch sailor of some years back (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8226196.stm) and her quote which always makes me tear up a bit “I want simply to learn about the world and live freely.” Digression. Whatever.
    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions? I really try to (we can always do more for ourselves). I draw and write and my work is a passion of mine and I spend a lot (alotalottoomuch!) time on that.
    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.) http://www.tenthousandvillages.com
    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.) My husband was laid off several times and I didn’t get into PhD programs as I had planned to, but (as these things are wont to do) everything worked out (so far!).
    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?: Kale. Chips. Bam!
    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest? Creating. And my cat.
    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?: People talking loudly on their cell phone on public transportation. I love hearing people’s conversations, but I hate shouting. I can only imagine it’s hell for the person on the other end.
    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.: What is your favorite thing about writing on the internet?

    1. I have two favorite things. The first is when I write something that I think is risky or that I worry I am alone in and someone emails me or comments and says “I thought I was the ONLY ONE!” because I also thought I was the only one! And thank god we aren’t! Because that would super suck! And it makes taking that risk to be honest totally worth it.

      The second thing: receiving feedback. Not the kind, necessarily, where people are like “you are awesome!” but the kind where people share their experiences, especially if they are different from my own. When people give me alliterative choice options, when people are different than me and we can have a chat about it. I think I can count on one hand how many times I’ve gotten bristle-y on this blog about comments going awry. I generally really love a discussion that isn’t in the same vein as my experiences. 🙂

  45. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    Well. I thought that I would only be in Wisconsin for a year when I moved. Then I met Pat and got married and we have this house and. and. and. I would love to move back to Colorado and Pat is game too – but our parents are here and the idea of moving any potential grandbabies away from them is a hard hurdle for him to jump.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    Lately I’ve felt like I’ve spent far too much time at work with very little balance in my life but I’m definitely working on it. I’m also in this place where I’m trying to determine if I want to keep doing what I’m doing or move more purposefully towards something that I love doing and have a huge interest in but it far less of a “secure” career path.
    What I wouldn’t give to not have our health insurance tied up in my work….
    Beyond that though. I just want more time to read a book and play with my camera and go for walks and such. Balance.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    I love love LOVE this store on Pearl Street in Boulder (http://www.twohandspaperie.com/) I flock to paper and stationary stores in every city that I visit. Two Hands used to sell the most beautiful journals that were covered in gorgeous silk scarves. Unlined pages, at least two inches thick. Last time I was there the owners had changed and the new owner didn’t know what I was talking about. It’s so sad. I’m still on the search for them.

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    I think because I was really kind of a nomad still at the beginning of the recession that I didn’t notice it as much at first. Pat however, was laid off just before I met him and I think that uncertainty has affected him greatly in his current position. Kind of an underlying fear of it happening again.
    The positive side of that is that it’s made us very fiscally conscious. We to try to combat that uncertainty by making smart financial choices so that if it happens again, we know we’ll be ok. I think that’s probably been the biggest way that the recession has affected our household. We decided that we don’t want to be governed by the fear of a lost job.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Ooh! Green beans are probably my favorite vegetable. Favorite way to cook them is to lay them out on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt and crushed garlic. Put them under the broiler and stir occasionally. They’ll smoke and get a little burnt looking. That’s when they’re done. Flipping delicious.
    This same technique works for beets, squash, brussel sprouts. It’s my go to for veggies.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    A weekend in a hotel with cable and a good book. Oh! And I’m heading over to a local yarn shop to buy toooo much yarn.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Magic 8 ball says: chances are good. I can’t recall exactly what it was.I know that watching TLC’s A Baby Story made me rant and rave in my hotel room the other day, but it would have been to myself.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.
    I’m curious what your thoughts, fears, excitements are about the birth process coming up? Do you think about it often or are you focusing on the after more? I’m just nosy.

    1. Ooooooo PAPER! I think that is one of the easiest ways to class up the dialy. Like getting a unique and lovely calendar, or having lovely set of stationary, etc etc. Also a great idea for gifts. 🙂 That store is amazing.

      Hmm… The birth process. At first when i did think about going through labor I would cry… a LOT. Like clutching Kamel and sobbing into his shoulder because I was so terrified. I think I went through that fear and came out the other side by letting it wash over me. Sometimes I think there are times to fight back fears and power through and then when it is all over you look back and say “I DID IT!” and then there are times when you say “I am really really afraid and I have to figure out a way to handle it.”

      So now I am much much much more focused on just getting the baby out of me. I am not so much afraid anymore because I know that I have options and it has helped immensely that every test with me has come back normal. No bed rest, no preeclampsia, no gestational diabetes – not even CLOSE – no bleeding, no scares, my placenta is not too close to my cervix (that’s a thing), the amniotic fluid is all there and I’m not on the low side (that’s also a thing), baby’s heart rate is right on track, baby’s weight gain is good (and his size is actually measuring a week early), and since about month 6-7ish I have felt pretty good (slow, sore, peeing alllllllll of the time, sometimes woozy, sometimes out of breath, but not sick). He is even already head down, so I don’t anticipate any complications. If they do happen I know it will be ok. And the big one is I am not afraid of the pain. I am afraid of gross things happening (because I have a pretty major medical phobia), and I am afraid of a c-section because being awake during surgery is in my top 3 worst nightmares, but those things are out of my control and I have to let those things go.

      I am really really excited to have Gabe in the real world. I did not get pregnant for pregnancy, I got pregnant for the baby at the end. I am really really ready to start this transition. I’m ready. I know it is going to be hard and a scary to have a teensy baby in our lives and to be navigating it all but I am SO READY to get this show on the road! I will definitely be talking more about this at the 36 (full term) post. And that will be after my next doctor’s appointment too, so hopefully I’ll have some new updates too (maybe not, but who knows!). I hope that answered your question! I kind of started rambling there for a bit. haha.

  46. Sorry for the super late reply!!

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    –No, and the easy answer is Texas, where my fiancé is currently living. But I’m not super stoked about living there either, so I imagine it will be quite some time before I am in some place I want to stay for a long while. I would love to move back to Colorado where I grew up or Boston where most of my family lives.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    –I spend a lot of time doing things I enjoy (reading, playing with my dogs) and right now that’s enough.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    –Right down the street from me is this great little jewelry shop called Sisters that I love to go to. I lose jewelry pretty often so I don’t wear a whole lot of it but I try to get something once a month that makes me feel fancy and girlie.
    http://sistersontate.com/

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    –I think being introduced to the job market at the worst of the recession has robbed me of any sense of job permanence, if that makes sense. I am a nanny and for the past few years I have been killing myself trying to take each and every job opportunity I can because I’m always afraid that any regular work I can get will dry up. I can’t remember the last time I had only one job that resembled a 9-5. Bobby (fiancé) tells me that the recession made me scrappy and able to make money in whatever circumstance I find myself, but mostly it is just tiring.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    Ha! My favorite vegetable is spinach and I very much dislike it cooked at all. I love just throwing it in a bowl with some feta cheese. Noms.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    The money in our wedding savings account! I keep sneaking on to my phone to check the balance even though I know nothing has happened in the past three hours since I checked it last. It’s not even that much money, I just love that the wedding is helping us become people who save. It feels good 🙂

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    Yeeeeeeesss. Without turning this response in to a novel, I will try to convey the rant-worthiness of this story. Last week I dropped nannychild off at taekwondo and watched him walk in (although this is the first time I have done this I assure you he is a totally appropriate age to get dropped off). Apparently after I left he also left and then ran away when some adults from tkd tried to talk to him. This week he has to apologize to them and his mother wants ME to apologize in public as well so nannychild doesn’t “feel too bad”. I hate hate hate being told to apologize especially since I didn’t do anything wrong. So yea, did some ranting about that.

    I guess my question to you is: One of the things I enjoy most about your blog is that you are refreshingly honest both about marriage and now pregnancy. I appreciate the admission that being married is sometimes hard and some days being pregnant isn’t all it’s blown up to be. I’m wondering if you’ve thought about where you’ll fall in the blog universe with Gabe. Some people post all kinds of pictures and tell every detail, some show pictures but never the baby’s face and some don’t ever tell personal stories. I realize this question is coming out very stalkerific, I guess I’m just asking your opinion on baby privacy.

    1. Oh my goodness! I am in love with the store you listed!!! I am now lusting after this: http://sistersontate.com/sisters_185.htm (perfect for pregnant me and post pregnant me) and it’s not even ridic expensive!!!! Ok. New obsession. I cannot wait to get a little bit of extra spending money because that puppy will be all mine! 🙂

      Ok, so for your question there are some things that I already know and some things I don’t know yet.

      1) This is not a mom-blog. There are mom-blogs and some of them are AWESOME and some of them make me want to throw things at the screen. I will be a mom, but that is just 1 part of me. When I was wedding planning, it was just 1 part of what this space was about, but I was very aware of not letting it take over. So, that’s how I plan on approaching this. Same with marriage stuff. Sometimes I talk about marriage things – good and bad – but I work to make sure I show the well rounded-ness that I really am. (And I think most everyone are too!)

      2) I also want to keep it classy. I don’t want to spam the internet with my kid. Not everyone finds that entertaining. We will probably take a million photos, but I don’t need to share them. Will I put my kid’s face online? Yes. That’s the world we live in, I think it would take way too much energy to try and hide that.

      3) I am going to approach the things I share about being a mom, the same way I approach the things I share about being a wife. There are aspects of my life that are private. Privacy is important. So, I use my judgement and Kamel’s judgement on what to share/not share. There are so many things that I wish I could share about being pregnant, but they are COMPLETE TMI and just not appropriate. So, until I can ask my kid, just like I ask Kamel, if what I want to share is ok – Kamel and I will just use our best judgement.

      What I don’t know is what it will feel like to be a mom. But the way I process things is by telling stories and sharing and writing them down, so I don’t see that changing. My blog won’t become Gabe’s blog, but he will be in my world, so hopefully he will be a little bit in your world too. 🙂

      1. Oooo how cute is that cardigan!! I’m gonna have to go check it out. I for one think that even if this turns in to a mommy blog it would be one worth reading, just want to know what you were comfortable with!!!

        1. Thank you so much! Reader confidence is pretty amazing. I so appreciate it. Even if it doesn’t always look like it, I put a lot of work and thought into making this place well read, honest and interesting. It’s good to know that it shows! <3

  47. Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    – Like… the city? Yes I think so. I want to live near family always. In terms of the actual place place, no. I was a house with a yard, pool, huge kitchen, studio and vegetable garden.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    – Never enough. I spend a satisfying time reading, but not painting. I wish I didn’t have a full time job. I need a suga mama.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    – I never shop. 🙁 I only buy art supplies, tattooing supplies or books.

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    – I don’t think it affected me at all. Maybe at the beginning when I couldn’t find a job while I lived in SF but it wasn’t too bad. When I looked for a job recently, the day after I sent my resume, I got called for 3 interviews. So it’s been good.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    – Green beans. I like them steamed. no seasonings. I know that sounds boring but its my favorite thing in the world. I also love brussel sprouts.. the way lara cooks them. YOU HAVE to let her cook for you. stuffed zucchinis, veggie chips, etc etc. love veggies.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    – My girlfriend. <3

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    – yes. everything. I'm always ranting. whether its about guys with flip flops or how parents let their kids get fat or my mother. (mostly my mother) I rant. always.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?
    – Yes. Can we have a board game night when I go AND are you going to be allowed to drink?

    1. hahahahahaha guys with flip flops! I call them man-flops.

      Also: YES BOARD GAMES! And I think at that point moderately able to drink. Breast feeding makes things more complicated than usual, but less complicated than pregnancy. 🙂

  48. I am naturally inquisitive like you Lauren. I love to ask questions. I also enjoy answering them. Thanks for the fun questionnaire! 🙂

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    I am currently in the right for now place, but not my forever place. Brian and I recently moved back to my home state (TX) from the desert (AZ). However, we have our sights on Portland. I <3 Portland. We visited last summer and it feels like home. We have another trip planned this summer. After years of searching for my forever place, I have found it in Portland. Now I'm just waiting for the timing to work out.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    Hmm, I don't think I do. I love to read and watch my favorite shows. I love to create things with my hands and I love to take naps. I love to read new cookbooks and try out new recipes in the kitchen. I love long conversations with girlfriends. I can definitely say I have not been spending very much time on these things at all. This must be rectified. Thanks for making me think more about this!

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    I really love Kelly Rae Roberts. Her artwork is beautiful and inspiring. Garden Gallery Ironworks carries most of her products.

    http://gardengalleryironworks.com

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    Brian and I were in the process of moving to Arizona from Texas. We left our jobs, sold his house, and moved. Only it took longer than we thought to sell the house. And once we sold it and moved it took waaaay longer than we had anticipated to find new jobs. We stayed with his parents for six months before we moved into our own place. Oh and we were planning a wedding in the middle of all of that. We eventually found jobs and life is stable. I think Brian has felt the recession more keenly as his wage decreased with the job he found; however, my wage increased with the new job I found. We look at the upside that our overall total is unchanged, but I know sometimes he feels a little down that he is making less than what he was at his old job.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    I love broccoli. I like it any which way and in any which meal. I also really love butternut squash. I like to make a spicy butternut squash soup, or roast it with other veggies and serve over pasta. I could go on as I love vegetables, but I will stop here. 🙂

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    New friendships that are blossoming.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    I usually go on little rants in my head or to my husband but I can't think of any specific rants at the moment.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

    What are your takeaways from your APW internship? What were the deciding factors in leaving APW?

  49. I swear, I really have had this on my radar, and finally had the time to sit down and write answers. Your questions are making me think about things that I don’t often put down on paper, if ever. So that’s interesting and fun 🙂

    • Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    o Yes and no; we’re currently under contract on a home, which is definitely a forever-type home (no starter home for us!). I can’t wait to get out of apartment living, since Midwestern apartment living is not the same as big city apartment living. But as for general location, yes – I tried other regions of the US, and it turns out that Wisconsin is where it’s at. Who knew?

    • Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    o It’s odd, because I don’t want to term them passions so much as hobbies. I’m not tremendously passionate, as I see the word, but my three major hobbies are running, baking, and horseback riding. And while I run enough to keep me happy, I can’t wait until I can afford to lease or own my own horse so that I can ride more than once a week. And yes, I definitely bake enough – at least weekly, if not more.

    • What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    o My favorite indy store is one that you will never make it to unless you come visit me and Jen in Madison (!!) – Fromagination. It’s a store! Full of cheese! And various charcuterie and crackers and sourced small-batch ice cream! It’s my favorite store in downtown Madison, hands down.

    • How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    o I feel pretty lucky that both my and J’s jobs are fairly recession-proof, but it’s more that I have to watch as friends of mine struggle to find a job. And since all my college friends were in engineering, one wouldn’t expect them to have to struggle to find a job. But for the most part, I feel very lucky.

    • What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    o My favorite vegetable is probably brussels sprouts (yes, really). I love slicing them really thin, steaming them, and then adding a touch of one of my special vinegars before topping with parmesan cheese. But they’re also really good halved and cooked with bacon.

    • What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    o Dreaming about how we will re-do the kitchen on the house we’re (hopefully) buying – I keep looking at royal blue pro gas ranges, double wall ovens, fun subway tile… Dreaming makes life worth living.

    • Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    o Yes, but then again, I get carried away easily and take my work home with me (emotionally at least). Let’s just say that I like having complete control over how well a project is progressing, and when I don’t, the control-freak in me revolts.

    • And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.
    o I know you’ve talked about it extensively, but I’m always interested in hearing why people choose to have babies when they do – what factors made you and Kamel commit to now rather than later or never. Have you ever regretted that decision? What are your greatest hopes and fears around children?

    1. 1) I’ve always wanted to go to Madison and I can’t believe with all of my time at the University of Illinois I never made it there!
      2) CHEESE STORE!!!! Ahhhh!!! And the name! hehehehe I love it!

      Let’s see… how did we choose to have a baby… Age was a factor for me. I am 27, which is not old at all, but I wanted to make sure and give myself the option of having multiple kids with the ability to fully recover between pregnancies. And though this isn’t important or a priority for others, I really don’t want to have kids after 38, and ideally after 36. And I really don’t think older moms are an issue at ALL, but for me and my body, it’s one of my things. I’ve always wanted kids, Kamel has always wanted kids. It was a life priority for us, but we also felt that if it wasn’t to be for us (and I know this is not a popular thing to say out loud, esp as I am sitting here pregnant) we were would be ok with just us as well.

      And about regrets: I did not expect how all-encompassing pregnancy would feel. How sick I would be for so long, etc. So I think if I had fully known what was going to happen I may have finished up a few projects (that have now had to be delayed) before I got pregnant. But, I don’t have regrets-regrets about that because whatever… I’ll get to it. So far I am really really happy with the choices we’ve made, and so far it seems to be working out. Watch me eat my words when my kid pops out with a unicorn horn or something… but at this point 2 thumbs up. It IS a really really REALLY big sacrifice just being pregnant. You give up everything – time, sleep, energy, your body, your mind(!), and in a lot of ways your freedom. So, if you have the opportunity to be mentally prepared, at least to some extent – that is my only suggestion. Be willing to give up going out, be willing to not feel like a loser when you stay home every weekend for 6 months.

      And my greatest hopes and fears. They go from immediate to far off. In the near future: I am worried about having a baby with colic. I don’t want that. I am also a little anxious about being left alone at home with a newborn (newborns are not like normal babies. They are basically still a fetus in lots and lots of ways). My hopes are that labor/delivery goes well and that baby is sufficiently adorable. In a broader scope: I worry that my kid will have mental illness or something that is life changing for our family. I worry that having a boy will be difficult in the teen years because i don’t know anything about boys except sometimes they go quiet and that scares me. I don’t want him to be a drug addict or a felon. But overall, my hopes are that we can teach him to be an amazing independent person. Someone who can succeed in figuring out what they want in life and how to get it. I want a loving kid who is confident and proud of himself. And if he ever isn’t, I want to help him get there.

      *Breath!* Sorry about that LONG LONG answer! But yes, I’m sure I’ll break down more of these as they pop up in real life, once baby is in real life.

  50. So I’m late to the party, but I still wanna play!

    * Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?

    NOPE! And I’ve actually been talking a lot about this on Twitter. When I was 28, I swore to myself that if I turned 30 and wasn’t in love or in a satisfying job that I would move. Then I met Brian, and I stayed…. we all know how well that all worked out for me.

    Now I’ll be 32 in like 3 weeks and I’m thinking about it again. I don’t hate this area, I do hate my job, but other than friends and family, nothing is forcing me to stay. Why not pack up and try somewhere new?

    I am currently taking suggestions on where I need to move (I’d like to stay in New England though and I want nothing to do with large cities like NYC or Boston). A move will only happen if I find a job so we’ll see.

    * Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?

    The break-up has forced me to be alone again, something that hasn’t happened in almost 4 years, so I’m actually going through the process now of figuring out WHAT I’m passionate about.

    I work a FT and a PT job, so I think that because of all of that, I don’t have a satisfying amount of free time to do all the things; but I’m working on finding a good balance.

    * What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)

    I’m bad! I don’t really have one 🙁

    * How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)

    Other than rising healthcare costs (and the jumps in prices on food/gas/utilities); I’m doing ok. Money is tight, but I am managing to live alone in a decent place and still have a little spare money for fun.

    * What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?

    Confession – I loathe veggies (I know). But I’m getting better at it, I actually had steamed broccoli with my lunch yesterday. WOAH!

    Broccoli is my gateway veggie, I like to roast it with garlic and olive oil until it’s nice and crispy.

    * What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?

    The Nosies! Seriously, you ladies are an effing life saver and I am positive I would not have survived this past 6 months without you all being a Tweet away… and continuing to talk me down off the crazy ledge.

    I owe each and every one of you drinks.

    * Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?

    HA! Yes, I hate dating. I’m bad at dating (I’m a great girlfriend though) and it’s not fun for me. Too much is up in the air and unknown about each other and how to act properly and WAY too much is read between the lines than most likely is there to begin with (good and bad).

    * And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me?

    Will you be posting plenty of baby photos on Twitter/Instagram? I need my adorable baby fix!

    1. I love moving and I hate moving, so I am both totally pumped for you to explore somewhere different and also understand the hesitation. It’s a lot of work. And it can be lonely at first. But also an amazing adventure! And I love exploring new places. If you do move I will be all over those updates!!!

      Annnnd baby photos: Yes, I’ll definitely post photos. I don’t think I’ll be too cray about it, but maybe like 1 a day? That would be kind of fun. Maybe for the first year? I’m not sure… I just thought of that right now, but I’m like it. hahaha. Let’s hope my kid is cute!!!!! 😉

  51. Even later to the game… had been meaning to respond to this…

    Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
    – I could stay here forever, but I also wish we could live closer to family, especially with the baby on the way. Given that we’ve now bought a house and have friends here, though, I don’t know that we’d ever move.

    Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
    – No, I always wish there was more time.

    What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
    – I really don’t shop much, but I have my favorite local coffeeshops and restaurants.

    How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
    – Losing my job. I now stress about money all the time. And my industry was particularly hard-hit, so I don’t have a lot of hope of finding something else anytime soon.

    What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
    – Carrots… we have a great Cooks Illustrated recipe for cooking with curry and adding currants and almonds.

    What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
    – My husband.

    Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
    – The insanity of health insurance.

    And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.
    – Not specifically, but I’ve loved reading your baby-themed post. There is a lot of pregnancy craziness on the internet, but your posts are down-to-earth and funny and reassure me that I’m not the only one feeling like this!

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