Answer Me This: Lazy Sunday Edition

The post on the hows of Car-Free Vacations will be up soon, but since DH is headed off on a business trip, I’d like to save the serious writing for after he leaves.  Instead, have something short and fun!

1. What’s your favorite thing on YouTube?

Glove and Boots – they’re puppets for grownups!  Here’s their video on how to fix your grammar.

2. Who taught you to drive?

Despite what my friends might tell you, I did not get my license in one of these.

Despite what my friends might tell you, I did not get my license in one of these.

I went to Driver Ed like everybody else at my school, although my mom and dad took turns riding with me while I practiced.  This may be the reason why my mom’s hair is completely gray and my dad has no hair.

Neither DH and or I learned to drive a stick shift when were younger, so about a year ago, we went back to Driver Ed and learned.

3. What’s your favorite thing to cook?  Ooh, that’s a tough one!  I really enjoy cooking in general, but I think my favorite things to make are marinara sauce and chili.  Both are dishes I can basically make up as I go along, which is what makes them so much fun.  For marinara sauce, I use this recipe; if I plan to freeze it or I’m making a small batch to use immediately, I’ll add garlic, onions, basil, oregano, red wine, and maybe some olives or veggies.  If I’m canning it, I’ll only add the garlic and herbs to the pot, then add 2 tbsp lemon juice to each quart  jar.

Here’s my chili formula:

1 pound ground beef or turkey

2-3 cans diced tomatoes

1 can black or pinto beans, drained

1-2 cans Ro-Tel

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1-2 bell peppers

1 bottle of beer or 2 cups lime juice

Chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, oregano, and/or chipotle peppers to taste.

Brown the meat, garlic, and onions in a skillet and transfer to Crock Pot.  Deglaze the pan with the beer or juice and add to Crock Pot.  Add all your canned stuff.  Spices will depend on how spicy you like your chili; I suggest starting with 2 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin and 1 tsp oregano.  Add cayenne or chipotle if that’s not spicy enough for you.

Cover Crock Pot and let it sit on low for 6-8 hours.  30-60 minutes before you’re ready to eat, add the bell peppers – they get soggy if you leave them in the Crock Pot all day.

4. Are you a hugger or a non-hugger? Why?  I am a hugger, but I’m not sure why.  I do try not to hug people I just met because I worry about upsetting them.

5. Where do you pray best?  Like Kendra, I pray best while moving.  When I go for a long walk, I take my rosary beads with me and pray while walking.  I love sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament but don’t get to do it very often.

6. When is the last time you saw/spoke to your grandparents?  I’m very blessed to have two of my grandparents still living!  I last saw them at Thanksgiving, and if all goes well, I’ll see them in a few weeks at my cousin’s wedding.

For more Answer Me This fun, visit Kendra!

Car-Free Vacations: The Whys

Like any red-blooded Americans, DH and I love our cars.  But when you spend 90 minutes per day driving to and from work, often the last thing you want to do on a vacation is drive more.  And while for me that was a good enough reason to go without a car on vacation, there are certainly others, even if you don’t care about reducing your carbon footprint or using less oil.   Most of the examples in this post will refer to London because it’s DH’s and my all-time favorite place to visit, but you can apply this to other major cities as well.

1.  It’s good for your wallet.  For a weeklong vacation in London  a small rental car will cost you a minimum of $300 in rental fees.  Larger vehicles, such as minivans, can be as much as $1,500!  You’ll probably have to refill the gas petrol tank at least once, and don’t be fooled by the prices at the pump: that’s £1.30 per liter, not per gallon!

You were hoping British gas prices were stuck in the '80s, weren't you?

You were hoping British gas prices were stuck in the ’80s, weren’t you?

So, let’s do some math here.  Suppose you have a car with a 10 gallon gas tank:

10 gallons x 3.78 liters per gallon = 37.8 liters

37.8 liters x £1.30 per liter = £49.14 per tank of gas petrol

And let’s not forget our friend the exchange rate:

£49.14 x 1.71 dollars per pound = $84 per tank!

In contrast, if you have an Oyster card, it won’t cost you more than $150 to ride the London Underground for the duration of your trip, and that’s if you rack up the maximum amount of fares every single day while you’re in London!  Transit for London will only charge your card a certain amount per day. After you hit the maximum amount, you can continue to ride the Tube that day for free and they start charging your card again the following day – see their website for details.

Check it out: between the rental fees and a tank of gas, you’ve saved at least $200!

P.S.  For parents who might be reading: in London, kids under the age of 11 can ride the Tube and city buses for free.  Older kids can use an Oyster card and pay half the adult fare.

200_s

2. It’s good for your vacation experience.  You’re on vacation and your time is precious.  You don’t want to spend it in traffic jams!  Yeah, traffic jams.  You know one of the reasons why cities like New York, London, Washington DC, and Paris have such great public transit?  Because they have legendary traffic jams.

I do enough of this at home, thanks.

I do enough of this at home, thanks.

Furthermore, if you’re in a foreign country, you want to see and experience as much of the local culture as you can, and it’s hard to do that from inside a car.  Riding the subway is an excellent opportunity to people-watch, to read local newspapers and magazines, and to check out local advertisements.  (I know that sounds odd, but you can learn a lot about a culture from what they buy!)  Riding the train may give you the opportunity to chat with the locals and learn things about the region that guidebooks won’t tell you.  Cars isolate you; public transportation immerses you.

3.  It’s good for your waistline.  When you take public transportation, chances are it’s not going to deposit you directly in front of your destination.  (I can think of a few exceptions to this in London – Madame Tussaud’s and the Houses of Parliament are both right across the street from Tube stops.)   So, what will you have to do then?  That’s right, walk!

Photo by Flickr user Moyan Brenn

Photo by Flickr user Moyan Brenn

While walking around in a new city is a great way to learn more about it and get to know the local culture (see #2), it has other benefits.  If you don’t have a car, you can walk upwards of a mile a day.  That will burn calories, get your heart pumping, strengthen your bones, and just generally improve your mood (even if it’s pouring).

Hopefully now I’ve convinced you to give car-free vacations a try!  In part 2, I’ll talk about how to have a car-free vacation. 

7 Quick Takes Friday – Orphans!!

1. Since Madison and Mason are currently unavailable for adoption due to the unrest in Ukraine, here are Trudy, Tristan, and Tatiana!  I had these siblings on my blog a year ago, and I’m bringing them back because Trudy will be 16 on her next birthday which means she will age out!    All three have HIV.  Tatiana has FAS, and Tristan has unspecified mental delays.  Reece’s Rainbow is hoping to find a way for them to be adopted together.  Do you know their family?  Maybe you do and you don’t know it!

Trudy, age 15

Trudy, age 15

 

Tristan, age 10

Tristan, age 11

 

Tatiana, age 7

Tatiana, age 8

2.  I’ve been pondering my 2014 goals lately, and DH and I have made a decision about one of them.  This is NOT our year to move.  DH (known for his immense patience) didn’t really mind waiting to move.  I (known for my immense impatience) couldn’t wait.  And then one afternoon,  I found myself working on the conference I’m planning… and enjoying it.  Two days later, I was out taking a walk and it occurred to me that this organization took a chance on me when nobody else would, and it’d be mighty churlish of me to bail on them. So, we’re not moving this year… but a big vacation might be on the horizon.

3.  My other goal for 2014 was to walk 400 miles, and I’m pleased to announce that it’s halfway complete!  I hit the 200 mile mark during the first week of July!

4.  I’ve recently discovered the Wolters World YouTube channel, and I can’t recommend it enough!  If you haven’t traveled outside the US often, this channel is full of tips on how not to look like a tourist, how to avoid getting mugged, and, if you’re traveling to a country where English isn’t the primary language, 1o essential words in various languages.  Parents who may be watching, he also has tips for traveling abroad with little ones!

5.  I got nothin’ else.  The next two takes are orphans!  First up is Ethan!  Ethan-2013-249x300

He is HIV+ but is a very happy young man; a family who visited the orphanage to adopt another child described him as “gentle and kind” and that he would wear silly clothing to make the other children laugh. These are such rare attributes in a child who’s been institutionalized! I’m sure he’d do well in a loving family.

6. I couldn’t decide which of these two girls to end with, so you get them both!  Sarai and Jeanette are NOT related but they have similar issues.  Both girls are 10 years old and have HIV and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Jeanette

Jeanette

Jeanette is a little impulsive and has trouble understanding consequences.  However, she enjoys drawing and can sit still a long time doing that.  She also likes to dance and sing and make goofy faces.  The orphanage thinks she’d do well in a family with lots of older kids.

Sarai

Sarai

Not much info is available on Sarai other than that she also has FAS (again, likely issues with impulsivity) and HIV.  Her skin test was also positive for TB, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean she has TB – for example, the skin test can be positive in a person who’s received a vaccine for TB – but it might complicate the process of adopting her.  She looks like a happy little girl despite everything, and she needs a family!

7.  TGIF!  We need a song!  Since one of my 2014 goals is half complete, here’s “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi.


For more Quick Takes from Jen and others, visit Conversion Diary!

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for orphans!

Update and a Prayer Request

First, thanks for your thoughts on the job post. Both writing the post and the feedback I received were a big help in organizing my thoughts and determining what I want in a new servitude.

Having said that, I spent about a week dithering over the job, and last week at Daily Mass it occurred to me: if I were really excited about the job, deciding whether or not to apply wouldn’t be this hard. So DH and I will remain where we are for now.

Second, the prayer request: I had a minor health issue crop up in the last few days.  My guess is that it’s nothing, but on the off chance that it is something, I’d appreciate a few Hail Marys!

[Edited to add that if nothing else, pray that I stop going to WebMD.  As far as I can tell, that site only exists to convince healthy people that they're dying!]

Theme Songs!

Jen at Conversion Diary asked if we had theme songs, that is, songs that remind us of a specific part of our lives.  I’m a sucker for everything musical, so here are some of my themes:

Starting College:  “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel.

This song is from the ’80s, but for some reason I never heard it until I started college in the late ’90s.  The image of climbing up on a hill and breaking free from my former life resonated with me the way song lyrics do when you’re 18.  “You can keep my things they’ve come to take me home” is still one of my favorite lyrics.

Unemployment: “Airplanes” by B.o.B. ft. Hayley Williams and “Find Your Love” by Drake

During the summer of 2010, I was unemployed and I spent most of my time driving to and from job interviews.  I always have the radio on in the car and I have a (not-so) secret weakness for Top 40 radio.  Whenever one of these songs came on the radio, I’d crank it up and sing/rap along.  The B.o.B. lyrics “Airplane, airplane, sorry I’m late, but I’m on my way so don’t close that gate” and “you get another hand soon after you fold” made me hopeful that my second chance was just around the corner.

“Find Your Love” was similar – the first two lines are “I’m more than just an option.  Refuse to be forgotten,” and while the song is about not letting a lover get away, I thought of it in terms of my career  and not fading away from my colleagues’ memory.

“Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen

Over at Leanne’s, I blogged about my late friend Jacob. Jacob was a man with a great (but somewhat twisted) sense of humor. I’ve never discussed him in detail on this blog because I’m trying to keep this blog family-friendly and I basically have no Jacob stories that I would tell to little ones. Anyway, a few months after Jacob was killed, DH and I were driving along and the exact second we passed the turn for the cemetery where Jacob is buried, “Another One Bites the Dust” came on the radio. I looked at DH and he looked at me and we both laughed so hard we almost wet ourselves. To this day, whenever that song comes on I think about Jacob and have a chuckle.

7 Quick Takes Friday – Orphans!!

1.  I went on Reece’s Rainbow yesterday and was  saddened to find that Madison and Mason are not currently available for adoption due to the unrest in their country.    Please pray for them and the other orphans in Ukraine.  Madison and Mason’s fund will still be available when they can be adopted, but we can’t raise funds for them until adoptions open up again.  In the meantime, here are some other orphans who need families.  All of these orphans have HIV, which is not a death sentence like it used to be; thanks to new therapies, HIV is treated more as a chronic illness (like diabetes).  For more on this, go here and here.

2. Ethan is fifteen and the class clown.  Ethan-2013-249x300

He is HIV+ but is a very happy young man; a family who visited the orphanage to adopt another child described him as “gentle and kind” and that he would wear silly clothing to make the other children laugh.  These are such rare attributes in a child who’s been institutionalized!  I’m sure he’d do well in a loving family.

3.  Trisha and Tyler are simply adorable!

Trisha-brother-300x200

Trisha is HIV+. From the material on the RR website, it’s unclear whether or not her brother, Tyler, is too.  She is 13 and and he is 15, and they both need to be adopted ASAP!

 

4. This one is a three-fer: Trudy, Tristan, and Tatiana!  I had these siblings on my blog a year ago, and I’m bringing them back because Trudy will be 16 on her next birthday which means she will age out!    All three have HIV.  Tatiana has FAS, and Tristan has unspecified mental delays.  Reece’s Rainbow is hoping to find a way for them to be adopted together.  Do you know their family?  Maybe you do and you don’t know it!

Trudy, age 15

Trudy, age 15

 

Tristan, age 10

Tristan, age 11

 

Tatiana, age 7

Tatiana, age 8

 5.  Meet Raul, a 12-year-old boy who wants to be a businessman.

Raul-2014-197x300

According to a family who met him in May 2014, Raul gets along better with adults than children.  (Dang, I wish my DH were open to adoption – I bet these two would get along!)   He speaks in “a business-like manner” and is helpful and well-liked by the staff.  He also likes to swim and is receptive to hugs.

6. I couldn’t decide which of these two girls to end with, so you get them both!  Sarai and Jeanette are NOT related but they have similar issues.  Both girls are 10 years old and have HIV and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Jeanette

Jeanette

Jeanette is a little impulsive and has trouble understanding consequences.  However, she enjoys drawing and can sit still a long time doing that.  She also likes to dance and sing and make goofy faces.  The orphanage thinks she’d do well in a family with lots of older kids.

Sarai

Sarai

Not much info is available on Sarai other than that she also has FAS (again, likely issues with impulsivity) and HIV.  Her skin test was also positive for TB, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean she has TB – for example, the skin test can be positive in a person who’s received a vaccine for TB – but it might complicate the process of adopting her.  She looks like a happy little girl despite everything, and she needs a family!

7.  It’s not Friday, but we need a song anyway!  Here is “No Light, No Light” by Florence + The Machine.

For more Quick Takes from Jen and others, visit Conversion Diary!

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for orphans!

Decisions, Decisions…

I’ve discussed moving a few times on this blog, and I could use a little advice on the subject.  Here’s the current situation, for those who aren’t familiar:

  • DH and I currently commute ~90 minutes per day to our jobs which is a hassle and a waste of gas that makes the crunchy part of my brain do this:

    Yet another sign we live in a fallen world: Search for "Tweek gifs" and Google thinks you mean "twerk gifs"

    Yet another sign we live in a fallen world: Search for “Tweek gifs” and Google thinks you mean “twerk gifs”

  • DH has been at his job for over 10 years; I have been at mine for five.  For reasons I probably shouldn’t get into on the blog, DH is extremely frustrated with his job.
  • I’m also unhappy with my job; I love the people I work with (even my boss!)  but about two years ago, things took a major turn for the worse in terms of my duties.  People keep telling me things are going to improve, and given some of the new hires at our company, I have reason to believe that they might, but it’s slow going.  I feel frustrated that I’m not getting enough responsibility, and when I ask for more projects, I’m ignored, which is even more frustrating.

    The usual reaction when I try to help out at work.

    The usual reaction when I try to help out at work.

  • DH is close to his brother, who lives on the west coast.  We live right in the middle of the continental US, meaning that we’re two time zones away from my BIL, his wife, and our nephew.  BIL’s child(ren?) are likely the only nephew(s and nieces?) we’re going to have, and neither DH nor I wants to be two time zones away from them forever.
  • One of the few bright spots in my career is membership in a state professional association; I run the committee that plans our annual meeting, and planning for next year’s meeting has just gotten underway.  I feel obligated to see this through until the meeting takes place next spring.  (I note that I made this commitment before my nephew was born.)

For the past few years, DH and I have been discussing a move; I even applied for a few jobs out of state, but none of them panned out.  And now there’s a new job opening in the city where my BIL and family live.  From what I can tell, it’s basically the job I was doing when I first started at my current company (and the job I wish I was still doing).

DH and I have discussed this at length, and he essentially said that he can continue to tough it out here if I think this job isn’t right, but that if I felt applying was the right thing to do, he’d support me.

Have I mentioned that I haven’t even applied for this job yet?  I dare not even contemplate how insufferable I’d be if I actually got hired!

meme-panic-1

If you have any advice, I’d be grateful!!