Thursday, December 24, 2009

one more tradition...

that I have been missing...and that I hope gets here in time...

I know there are lots of good holiday movies out there--phrases like "you'll shoot your eye out" and "melikaliki laka is hawaii's way to say merry christmas today" come to mind. or the wahwahs of charlie brown...

but my favorite one of all is a musical. with a pig. and an old mean man who pinches pennies and wears a top hat. oh yeah--and a frog. Kermit THE frog, that is.

I couldn't find my copy this year and we didn't get to watch it last year. I miss A Muppet Christmas Carol. But mister delivery man is supposed to bring it tomorrow, and I hope he does. My niece-to-be is excited to see it too :)

Have a Merry Christmas everybody!

-post from my iphone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

mmmmmm chili.

now, let's get this straight: I'm not actually a big fan of chili. I have NEVER made it on my own. I don't really purchase it when I'm at the grocery store. I don't love most beans, and I must slather my chili with cracker bits and cheese to truly enjoy it.


except on Christmas Eve. For as long as I can remember, if I was celebrating with my mom's side of the family, on Christmas Eve we ate chili. We always had our big to-do Christmas Eve--Christmas Day was stockings and the big meal, but Christmas Eve was a time for church, then chili, then sitting in my Grandparent's gigantic living area (which was really both a formal living area and a casual one, one opposite sides of the room) and opening presents. We'd take turns, the kids would sit on the huge tan floor-pillows they had, I'd usually play some Christmas songs on their piano and we'd spend time together.

and my Granny usually sent the kids on a scavenger hunt for something. sometimes on Christmas Day, sometimes on the eve. I can recall clues leading me to my sewing machine and a magenta footlocker/trunk (that I eventually collaged and took to girl scout camp and got rid of last summer), and I know that all sorts of treasures awaited at the end of that trail. It makes me smile thinking of them. :)

but anyway, back to the chili.

so, I've always thought it was a little weird that we had chili on Christmas. I knew exactly NO ONE who had chili on Christmas Eve. Goodsearch tells me that it's a thing people do, so it's not totally whack. But this year I learned how that chili tradition came about. Before I tell you though...let me tell you a little aside.

The chili thing is so a part of our tradition that, for instance, when I have celebrated Christmas at other's homes, I find myself craving chili. I was told that when my Aunt celebrated Christmas with her first husband's family for the first time, she actually brought a can of chili, heated it up and ate it at the dinner table because she missed her family so much. Apparently they thought she was a leeeetle off. But it makes complete sense to me.

So, this year, in telling her stories my Granny shared with Matt and me the tale of why we eat chili on Christmas Eve. As it turns out, this is a tradition that started with my grandparents. It didn't begin long ago and it doesn't have anything to do with the depression, or with my granddaddy's eating habits, or anything like that. Nope, it's time.

As the story goes, one Christmas Eve my Granddad called my Granny, who was working at a department store in Chicago (Marshall Fields, I believe) and said that he had invited some folks from his company over to celebrate Christmas Eve with them. My Granny was only getting home a little bit before the guests were to arrive, and she'd seen a recipe for Texas Jail Chili in the paper, and figured that was the only thing she could cook in time.

So she went by the grocery store, and well, fifty plus years later, here I am, knowing I'll want some chili on Christmas Eve. :)

I do not have the real recipe--I guess it's kind of one of the kinds where there are many variations. But I imagine it's something like this, except that she made it in a big pot.

ps: thanks Maria for having the Holiday Traditions contest!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I think I'm being totally unproductive

and I'm okay with that.

last night I meant to clean up the guest room so people can stay there on friday and saturday night. (don't fret, renee, it has not returned to its previous chaotic state, I am just organizing and there's laundry in there!) admittedly, I did do a little of that, but I also did a LOT of tv watching. :)

I have also been meaning to finish a task at work, but, uh, the deadline isn't until thursday so I just don't feel so motivated.

and, I totally meant to start typing up things on ye olde wedding blog, but I haven't gotten to that yet. I did, however, select and purchase a template. and while I was at it, I got a new one here too. you like?

Monday, December 14, 2009

"it's the best time of the year..."

this past weekend I went to oklahoma. there is LOTS to tell about that--and I'll get to that soon--but I learned that my family has more traditions than I really realized. we celebrated Christmas early this weekend, y'see, so it's fresh in my mind and since maria is having a contest that encourages you to share just that--well, here I go...

I'll start with my very favorite of all. When I was a little girl my mom bought some "Twelve Days of Christmas" ornaments. Usually on Christmas Eve, or now whenever I am in town, we sing. We sing the WHOLE song. We make up the words, hang up the ornaments and away we go.

here's the 2006 list
and in 2008 there was no singing, as there was no tree up.
and this year, we didn't sing either, but we talked about singing and laughed about years past. and that was a'plenty for me :)

My family is SILLY. As Matt and I discussed yesterday, each of the members in my family has a STRONG personality and "takes up a lot of space in a room" so to speak. So sometimes it gets pretty ridiculous. If Anna had been there we definitely would've sung--it's just not the same without everyone there...

Anyway--this? This is absolutely going to be a tradition in Matt and my house when we have a family. We will sing, and we will hang the ornaments, and we will laugh together. And I must say, I'm really looking forward to that some day!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

um, this always comes out wrong when I say it...

(sorry in advance!) but a couple of people have said this to me in person/email/on the blog, so... just fyi--in the field of engineering, a masters isn't a masters. not all masters are created equal. and not all masters will be worth something to potential future employers.

here's the thing: I have a bachelors in Chemical Engineering. In the engineering world, it is generally regarded as the most versatile and most difficult to obtain engineering degree. I'm not bragging--I'm stating the facts.

A while ago I hemmed and hawed about it, but I can't find the post. So:

I've already taken a kindagigantic step down in "potential worthiness of my degree" by not going for another Chemical Engineering degree. This isn't my opinion or my perception--this is also fact. Civil Engineering is great and all, but as someone explained to me, having a ChE BS and getting my Masters in Civil is kind of like buying a really expensive car and putting mediocre tires on it--yeah, it's good, and the car is still nice, but it could be so much better with top-of-the-line tires. But, it still gets you from point A to point B, so it's still useful. It could just be better.

Likewise, but to a greater extent--as I understand it, in the engineering world, getting a MA is soooooooo not the same thing as getting an MS. (I am NOT knocking your Masters or Bachelors if yours is of Arts and not of Science--I am telling you what things are in my field, okie dokie?) And that's the thing I was alluding to in the last post--I am just not sure if it's worth it to get a MA instead of MS. I do not know if my effort would be worth the reward. I need to find out more though.

I mean, I would definitely enjoy learning new information. But I also have to be practical--is it worth working hard (but less hard than I am now, hopefully!) to get my masters and enjoy it but have it not be worth very much? Do I plan on staying in a very "scientific" field? (I don't know.) Do I want to commit to even more years of school? (yes and no.) Do I need to learn more about all of this? (yes.)


I guess I just have a lot to think about. But regardless, I REALLY appreciate all the comments and support and the questions too--it helps me digest the info :)

Monday, December 07, 2009

maybe I don't wanna be an engineer.

or more specifically, maybe I don't wanna do anymore complicated math.

let's get this straight. I looooooove math. I love it. I love all math. except for calc 1, 2, 3 and differential equations. numerical methods? love it. laplace transforms? okay, I love those too (even though they're calculus--but in my defense, they're like a puzzle!) I think geometry is great and algebra is kind of my favorite ever.

but engineering math? it kills me. it makes me cry. it is torture. I am BAD at it. integrals? derivatives? really complex equations? um, no thank you.

I learned this in college. I was a math whiz until my senior year in high school. And then I was introduced to Calculus and it ate me for lunch. I think my gpa would've been like .3 or .4 points higher if it hadn't been for calculus.

so. My brilliant fiance said to me yesterday "Carrie, I think if you could just learn information and not have to do the math, this whole online degree thing would be a breeze."

I think he's right.
I then recalled how much I hated math in college.
and then I remembered that if I keep going on this engineering masters I will have to do more math. a whole math class.

that gives me the heeby jeebies.

I was also thinking about courses I like and courses I don't like. I liked my Pollution Prevention, Air Pollution Control and Air Quality Engineering classes. Thermo gave me migraines, Material Science made me crazy and this Water class is taking away my will to live (it's just an expression, people, fret not).

So...analytical Carrie said "what do these classes have that these others do not?" And the answer is that they had a LOT more information and a LOT less calculation. I mean, yeah, I had homeworks for all three. Some involving calcs. But they weren't calculus and they weren't rocket science. I feel like this water class is rocket science. Material science just does not compute in my brain. And I can do online courses if they have books, or the notes are good, or they aren't explaining an excel worksheet and videoing the professor but not the board.

and really? really??? I should've thought about what happened to me in undergrad. I made it through and got my degree, but I worked my ASS off to get it. So maybe an actual engineering degree isn't for me. And maybe this is the wake-up call I needed.


I have found some envir0nmental stud!es programs that look promising. All online, all info and not focused on math. It's a MA, not an MS, but I actually think I'm totally okay with that. I mean, I can take a class in sustainable development! " The interdisciplinary study of a conceptual framework for development that recognizes the interlocking nature of environmental, economic, and social conditions: degradation in any one of these areas weakens the sustainability of the others. " that sounds SO COOL to me.

will I do this? I have no idea.
but I'm at least going to look into it.

I mean, some of my classes will probably transfer. and it's about the same cost. and it is a real-life-school, not an "online only university."

so we'll see.
I'll let you know.
I also figure, I already have one engineering degree--do I really need two? Yeah, perhaps not :)

Friday, December 04, 2009

I think that God speaks to me in my dreams.

I mean, this wouldn't be a new thing--lest you forget about Joseph. Not that I'm a Joseph. But still.

You see, I've never really felt like I was "talking" to God. Communicating? Absolutely. But never talking. I'm a church-goer and a Christian, but that's not where I see God. Or experience God. Not exactly, anyway. (I mean, I see God there too, but that's not where I get the best seats in the house for seeing God, so to speak) I see God in the sunshine and in the amazingness of our eyeballs and in the perfection of the flower. In the process and in nature. That is where I experience God, too. In the amazingly detailed beauty and functionality of life of all types.

Is that a little unconventional? Probably. Possibly. I don't know and I don't know that I care--because I've come to realize that's how it is for me. Call me crazy, call it a gift, call it what you will. It's reality.

Kind of like my dreams.

So, I am having a bit of a breakdown right now. I'm feeling very overwhelmed and very helpless. Don't get me wrong--most of my life is really, really good. Matt is amazing! We are getting married! I have a fantastic job (even though I'm working my ass off)! I am making a difference in the world! I am overwhelmed with the number of amazing people I have the honor of calling my friend! My photography business is fantastic and growing!

I own a nice house and have almost paid for my car. I have a roof over my head and food to eat and I am a fortunate, fortunate gal.


this is going to sound over-dramatic, but I assure you it's not. I have my final next Thursday. Yesterday I really realized that this final is going to make or break the possibility of me getting a masters from NCState. I did TERRIBLY on the first test. (lots of people did.) I was doing okay on the homeworks until the last two--one of which the average was a 45%. he's curving it. I will still be given a "F" for that assignment. yes, you read that right. An F. Right now I am guessing that I have a solid C.

we get our test #2 back today. I looked at the solution posted yesterday, and I am not getting warm fuzzies about my performance.

so, anyway, my transcript at State already looks kind of crazy. I got a C in a material science class that I HATED. the one that convinced me it wasn't for me. So that's already a HUGE black mark even though that class wouldn't transfer in even if I'd made an A+ in it.

if I don't ace the final and get a B or higher (B- won't cut it) I am pretty sure that they won't let me in. and aceing the final isn't exactly feasible--obviously I don't know the material. there is not a book I can re-read. there aren't even good notes.

so. I kind of freaked out yesterday when the full impact of this situation hit me. I might've cried on and off for, um, hours. I realized that it is my JOB that is making this so hard. I am very capable. But when I'm working 10-12 hour days, grad school is kind of impossible.

I mean, I'm trying to make time. I told my boss I couldn't keep this up. I found some help with photo editing. I've started making Matt get or make dinner, like, three times a week. I've hired someone to clean my house. I've tried SO hard. but it's just not enough. it's never enough, it seems.


yesterday I decided a few things:
1. I will apply to grad school this December.
2. Maybe it is okay not to get my masters right now. Or ever.
3. Alea iacta est. The die is cast. What is done cannot be undone. It is what it is.

I was still kind of freaking out about it. I mean, I don't DO the whole quitting thing. It's just not in my blood or in my heart. but...well...alea iacta est. So if I get in? I get it in. I get my masters in Civil Engineering. If I don't get in? I don't get in. So be it. Maybe I'll find somewhere else to go. Maybe I won't go at all. But what's done is done.

now, to the dream.

last night, even though I only slept for 6 hours I had three different dreams. I can only remember one of them, but I remember it SO vividly. [warning, this sounds kind of gross] a small beetle was on my stomach, and it was coming out of the little hole/owie it had made where it bit me. it was teeeeeny tiny, smaller around than a pencil eraser. and I saw a flash of green when the light hit it.

so, I looked it up.

I didn't know it in my dream, but once I saw a picture, I am certain that it was a small scarab beetle. "To see a scarab in your dream, symbolizes your ability to survive, adapt, and change. You are on the right path. You may also feel that your values and beliefs are being compromised."

It bit my stomach, right?
To see your abdomen in a dream, refers to your natural instincts and repressed emotions. There is something in your real life that you "cannot stomach" or have difficulties accepting. You need to get it out of your system.To dream that you abdomen is exposed, signifies trust and vulnerability. To see your own stomach in your dream, suggests the beginning of new changes in your life. It may refer to your difficulties with accepting these changes. It is also indicative of how you can no longer tolerate or put up with a particular situation, relationship, or person.

And since it bit me...
To dream that you are being bitten, represents your vulnerability regarding some unresolved issues or emotions. You may be pestered by a problem or obstacle.The dream may also be a metaphor indicating that you have bitten off more than you chew. Perhaps you have have too much to handle.

uh, yeah. you get that? I did.

I actually felt very comforted by this dream. (yes, comforted by a dream about a scarab beetle biting my stomach) It was kind of like an "it's all gonna be okay Carrie. Pinkie swear. There, there. There's a method in the madness, I promise. Now, keep on trucking, okay?"

so. maybe the masters isn't my path.
maybe this particular masters isn't my path.
or, maybe it is my path.
but right now? right now I'm

the rest will figure itself out.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

eco-friendly thanksgiving

this year matt and I have been out of town for at least 75 days. maybe more. that's right, friends. 20% of the time, out of town. no joke. Over the whole year that's more than 1 day of every 7 out of town. yeah. crazy.

So, we decided that this year we would spend Thanksgiving AT HOME. and we did. and it was glorious. My fabulous friend, sister, bridesmaid, fellow sustainable-living/environmental-ist and all around awesome human being, Jennifer was going to be in town too, so we decided to celebrate together, just the three of us.

which quickly escalated :)

we cooked up an awesome plan (excuse the pun)--we would have a LOCAL Thanksgiving. We thought: North Carolina is a farming state, I'm in a CSA and regular patron of the Durham Farmer's Market, Jennifer works at State, and they have a farmer's market too, and Raleigh has one, and the local Wholefoods/Earthfare has a lot of local stuff, right? We can TOTALLY do this.

And we TOTALLY did.

I made a little video of the fixings and tables and fabulous guests.

We think that if you boil it down (oh, here I go with the puns...) we were around 90% local. And we didn't skimp at all, and we didn't go without. We didn't have a turkey because all the local turkeys were spoken for or were, like, 22 pounds, which is far too much for 8 people and an almost-2-year old. So we had chicken and ham. So here's the rundown:

what we ate:
chicken, ham, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans, beer rolls, roasted acorn squash, mashed potatoes, collards. we had pumpkin pie, apple pie and peanut butter pie for dessert, along with cupcakes. and there were sausage ballas and cheese and crackers for snacking while things cooked.

sweet potatoes
green beans
acorn squash
whole wheat flour in the pumpkin pie crust and beer rolls
cream in the sweet potatoes and served whipped w/ the pumpkin pie
apples in the apple pie
beer we drank (3 growlers from LoneRider--YUM!)
honey (in the glaze for the ham & in the beer rolls)
asiago cheese
farmer's cheese
carolina moon cheese
sausage in the sausage balls

what wasn't local:
all of the peanut butter pie
the cupcakes
the mashed potatoes (potatoes aren't in season now, which was news to me!)
the canned pumpkin (could've gotten a local pumpkin and cooked it down. not that hard core!)
all spices
the yeast in the rolls
the bread in the stuffing
the crackers for the cheese
flour in the apple pie crust
the wine (our nearest winery only makes sweet sweet wines)
orange juice in the sweet potatoes
cheese and bisquick in the sausage balls
and the beer in the beer rolls (we had Smashed Pumpkin from our trip to Shipyard (which whoa I've yet to blog!) and some Boulevard Wheat we brought from OK)

Now, although those lists are pretty close to the same length, you'll notice that only small bits were included--individual ingredients. I recently learned that we maaaaayyyyybe could've gotten north carolina sugar, and if we had gone to another part of the state we could've gotten NC wine. But oranges don't grow here, and I just didn't have 12 hours to spend cooking down a pumpkin for the pie. And of those, one was leftovers from another dinner, so I don't really think they count! But all the meats, all the veggies except for potatoes, all from NC? And the crackers and the flour and all? WOW!

So based on volume? Well over 90%. I mean, there were only 3 of our dishes that didn't contain local ingredients, you know?

This was also the first time I've EVER used my china for anything other than a china cabinet decoration (and y'all know how I love, love, love my china cabinet). And, another fabulous thing happened too--I was fretting over the table decoration (seriously I had the craziest time finding a damn tablecloth. I needed two that matched. wtf? anyway) and I thought I had it figured out, and I decided I would have Matt take ~1 hour and make some tissue paper flowers for it like he did soooooo long ago.

Well, on Wednesday when my dear friend Karen came over for dinner I had told her she didn't need to bring anything, so she brought me flowers. It was totally cute and thoughtful!! Dark red gerbera daisies. Which went PERFECTLY with the red tablecloths and red, orange, yellow and gold tablescape I had going on. Loved it!

It was fabulous how everything fell into place. There were nine of us counting Luke--Jessica, Aaron, Gurdas, Nicole, Dave, Luke, Jennifer, Matt and me. And we knew everyone from a different part of our lives--there was a couple who had just moved from Houston that we met at Nicole's Halloween party, Matt and Dave know each other from HPU, Jennifer and I are KDs and Gurdas and I know each other from school. It was a splendidly motley crew! And we even watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving :)

Luke LOVED playing with Hazel (I really hope she tells you what he said while he was chasing her--it was funny and cute!)

Everyone was really helpful with the cleaning, and left at maybe 930ish I think? Luke was already fast asleep downstairs :) At the end of the evening while the last load of dishes were in the dishwasher, Matt, Jennifer and I watched some eps of How I Met Your Mother, enjoyed some more Lonerider brews and sat. We spent ~9-10 hours cooking Thursday and both cooked Wednesday night too, so it was much deserved.

And the only thing that burned or wasn't like it was supposed to be was our simplest dish of all--the green beans :)

And to that I say: my compliments to the chefs. Just 'cause I'm one of 'em doesn't mean I'm not proud of myself!! Jennifer and I had assisted with meals many times, but neither of us had ever done it without parents/family. but we DID. And it was GOOD. And we ate before 3am. And no one got sick! And it was a SUCCESS! And check out our shirts--that's what we wore to cook. She's in the shirt the NCState students made for the farmer's market on campus. Mine is from the one in Durham. That's our chicken, green beans (before cooking!) and the sweet potatoes before we toasted the marshmallows (which was always my job growing up, and I must say, they were TOP NOTCH). I am SO proud of our local thanksgiving, so thankful to have been able to share it with such incredible people and grateful that I won't be cooking on that scale for the whole rest of the year :)
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