Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture

Veggies from the Farm! (taken from their website)
Well, folks... we did it! Nathan & I officially joined our first CSA. We're a part of Bountiful Blessings Farm's Winter 2011 CSA, wherein we invest in a share of crops & receive fresh produce straight from the farm every other week! We are SO excited to have fresh veggies straight from the ground of a local farm. It's going to be an amazing challenge to learn how to cook all sorts of new veggies we aren't yet used to. I consider this one of our big married-couple-challenges, and I can't wait to get started. Our first batch of fresh produce is on October 27th, and then every other week until mid-April. I'll get to meet the farmers who grow my food and play a part in "community supported agriculture." I've thought about joining one for a while, but never very seriously. Basically, I just thought it sounded like an awesome idea but never thought I'd actually join one myself. But now I have, and I'm thrilled. It's a lot less daunting knowing I have someone to walk through it with me.

CSAs are really a beautiful thing. When community members pay up front for a share, it provides the farmers with the funding needed to get crops going for the season. It's a cool "business model" (business? yuck.) because it utilizes reciprocal responsibility and reward. The community members help the farmers financially in order to begin their growing season, and then the farmers work hard all season to provide the community members with fresh food. It's a great way to keep fresh food in the community and preserve the culture of farm growing in the South.

This photo makes me want a life on a farm. (also from their website)

Check out the farm, Bountiful Blessings Farm, & read their story! They've got a neat history and an awesome, big family keeping it going.

Bountiful Blessings Farm. Isn't it gorgeous!!! (photo from their website)

I'll definitely be updating the Blogging world on our first CSA adventure, including our veggie discoveries and our cooking endeavors. I'll be utilizing my "How To Cook Everything Vegetarian" book by Mark Bittman. It's going to be SO useful; it's pretty much just a guide to vegetables and different dishes. If you want to know ways to cook Kale, just look it up in the index, find the pages, and read all about methods for cooking kale, things to eat with kale, and dishes to make with kale. Basically, it's going to be my go-to CSA cookbook.

Best. Cookbook. Ever. (Thanks mom! perfect Christmas gift!!)

Countdown to first CSA produce pick-up: One Month & counting...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life Update.

For those of you who see me often, you probably know a lot about how things are going in my life (because, lets face it, I can't ever seem to shut up). But for those of you who might maybe possibly read this from time-to-time, I'd like to give you a little update about life!

The Job
Well the biggest obvious life change is my new job. And while I love it endlessly, it's been a hard transition for me. Before & during my first few years of college, I had some serious struggles with self esteem. I don't know why it's always been a battle for me, but it has probably been one of my biggest struggles to date. Well, things got better in my upper-classman years of college, whether that was due to the counseling, the amazing friends, the seniority & confidence of being an upperclassman, or the prozac, I have no idea. All I know is that plop me down in the middle of a new, uncomfortable situation in which I am the "new kid on the block" and the youngest person there, and all of a sudden my insecurities begin rushing back in. For that reason, it's been a very draining & difficult few weeks. I'm new and insecure, despite the fact that I can do the work well. My insecurities are mostly social anxieties. I get nervous around my new co-workers & bosses, and say extremely ditzy, silly things on accident. I get lost driving around new areas so easily and then feel embarrassed to the point of tears. I've only broken down a few times, and luckily my amazing husband has been there to talk when I needed it, and hold me when I didn't want to say a word. I don't think I've let these insecurities affect my job performance, just my social performance (which has been abysmal at best). Nonetheless, the job is going great and I am so thankful to have this huge honor & blessing in my life. Now, if only it paid a little bit better! (joke... but, really)

Okay, my earlier comment about the job being the "biggest new life change" is obviously rubbish. Hello, marriage? Yeah. That's a pretty big one. And, it's going superbly. It's hard, of course (anyone who goes into it thinking otherwise is completely delusional). But it's so wonderful. I get to wake up every morning with my best friend (who usually is still asleep when I leave... jerk) and fall asleep next to him every night. We make dinners together and lounge around talking about our days, our interests, our desires, our dreams, and also a whole lot of nothing. We joke together and laugh together. We get grumpy and annoy the heck out of each other. And, most of all, we love each other desperately. Not always the silly butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of love (though that's most of the time!), but the real, hard, honest, genuine kind of love where you have to actually work at it. That's the best part. We really haven't figured it out yet at all (4 months? Maybe we'll get halfway there after 40 years...), but the fun part is trying to figure it out together.
But enough mushy stuff. Practically speaking, marriage is going well! We have a great apartment, where we just hosted a housewarming party, two adorable cats, great friends, and a new interest in cooking (mine, particularly). We also are in the midst of deciding on a CSA to join! More about that later. Nathan is doing so well in school and I am so proud of how hard he works. He is honestly the most hard-working, driven person I have ever known.

Dryden-First Look-67
This pretty much sums it up.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My inspiration, Maya.

Monday night I had the incredible honor of seeing Maya Angelou speak. She is literally one of my biggest inspirations, as a woman, as an African American, as a poet, as a social rights activist, as a lover, as a peacemaker. I just really adore her and have been profoundly inspired by her words.

During her time with us, she read a poem that she wrote for the United Nations' 50th anniversary. It is filled with such truth that it gives me chills. Read for yourselves:

We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

If we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.

Love costs all we are and will ever be.
Yet it is only love which sets us free.
A Brave and Startling Truth.

It is possible and imperative that we discover
A brave and startling truth.

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
And without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonders of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

She did a lot of laughing.

And if you've never heard her speak, you MUST watch this video:

Doesn't it give you chills all over? Yeah, me too.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

So this is living.

Things are SO good right now. Of course, we have our little problems (like living as TWO people on ONE person's somewhat meager salary), but we make it work.

My job is bringing me so much joy. Granted, it is entirely emotionally exhausting and potentially leading me toward alcoholism (joke) because every time I come home, I just want to sit down with a beer and think of absolutely nothing. But seriously, it is worth it all. I get to be with people, and work together with people to make other people's lives better. It's the perfect job in that aspect. Of course, it's been a real challenge learning how to work with mentally ill individuals. It's a completely mixed bag. Some of them are really doing great and you'd never know they have a mental "illness" (just like they probably don't know that I suffer from slight depression and I go to counseling and take meds for it). Every day is different. Like today, I sat in the office a LOT of the day (which is rare) because I had so many notes to put into people's charts. Then I ended the day by working on a Service Plan with a member, which is basically just an overview of their goals and objectives, and how Park Center can assist them in meeting those goals. That might be my favorite part of the job so far.... I love talking to people about their goals and dreams, and helping them find ways to reach those goals. SO wonderful. But it also puts a whole lot of responsibility onto me to actually follow through in helping them.

Basically, I love my job. And I'm LOVING being able to cook dinner every night. I'm really trying to branch out and try new foods and recipes. Last night I had a dear friend over who also works in the Mental Health field, and I cooked us a tasty dinner of goat cheese asparagus pasta & some fried squash. YUM. Despite my feminism (or maybe because of it?), I'm obnoxiously domestic.

Today I made bread!!! I've been wanting to try for so long, but I finally did it. It was so easy. I used this instructional video, and my bread came out perfectly:

I used whole wheat flour instead of white, and cooked it for a bit shorter time. I also made a yummy honey-butter to go along with the bread.


What could make life better than a perfect husband, tasty bread, a great job, and the world's cutest cats? Hmmm, nothing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wedding Blog Feature

Guys, our wedding was featured on a cute little wedding blog called Ever Ours.

Check it out!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Of Interest.

As my new job consists of working with adults suffering from mental illness and many with co-occurring disorders (mental illness paired with chemical addiction), I've been trying to better educate myself about mental health, social welfare, and the like. I stumbled across this article from NPR, and found it very interesting. Still trying to decipher it all, but I definitely agree with his point that addiction cannot be simply boiled down to just a brain/mental illness but is instead a complex network of social, physical, mental, systemic, environmental, etc., issues that affect different individuals in unique ways and in unique circumstances.

Anyway, read on: "Addiction Is Not A Disease Of The Brain" by Alva Noe

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years later.

Today is a weird day. It's hard to believe that the World Trade Center attacks happened on this day 10 years ago. I remember the day vividly. I was in seventh-grade art class at my public middle school when the teacher next door rushed in and turned on the news. She was saying what a horrible accident it was when we watched the second plane fly into the other tower, then realizing this was no accident. My church friend Caroline was terrified for her dad because he was a pilot and had flights in NYC that week. Over the intercom, the school office called her to come to the front, and we were all scared that bad news awaited her. Thankfully her dad had just called to tell her he was okay. We all began to realize the weight of what was happening.

It has been quite strange growing up in the ten years of aftermath. I daresay my adolescence and young adulthood would have looked quite different had the nation not experienced these attacks, or perhaps taken a different strategy in assuring the safety and freedom of its people and the people of the world.

Today I reflect, and wonder how these events will shape the rest of the nation's history and my own life.

Photo from NPR. A father stands over his son's name on the WTC memorial.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I made banana bread!!!

And it turned out really delicious!!!




I have always LOVED banana bread, and I never knew I had it in me to make it myself! It turned out perfectly! It's super moist, flavorful, and comforting just like banana bread should be. =) I used this recipe. Try it for yourself (or come over & have a bite of mine)!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Knoxville Traditions

This weekend Nathan & I visited my parents in Knoxville. It was really a lot of fun. I got to introduce Nathan to some elements of my childhood that he still hadn't experienced! Friday night we went to Cinco De Mayo, my parents' favorite Mexican restaurant in town. It was delicious... Dad & I split a 1/2 pitcher of margaritas. They have awesome margs.

Saturday night we went to a UT football game! I grew up on UT football, going to games every weekend, tailgating, watching away games at friends' houses. It really is an East TN tradition.... I guess there's just not much else to do around there.

So, we tailgated in the 100 degree weather and had a blast.

Our set-up. Matching tablecloth & all.
Nathan & I had to borrow orange from my parents. He wore Dad's XL t-shirt, which was funny.
The gang!
Me, dad, & mom on our way down from tailgating to the game.
And yesterday Nathan finally got to go to a service at my hometown church, Two Rivers. It's grown so much since I was last there, I couldn't even believe it. It was nice having Nathan there to meet old friends from church.

Last night, we were planning on going to Boomsday, Knoxville's largest annual festival celebrating Labor Day. The fireworks are seriously amazing, and it's a pretty big Knoxville tradition. Unfortunately, it started raining really badly yesterday afternoon, so we came back home after walking around the festival for a while.

You can't really tell from this picture, but there were SO many people.
Henley Street Bridge, where they usually do the fireworks show.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Big News.

So, everyone, I finally got a "career" job. No more tacos for this little lady.

Photo 41

I am officially an Independent Housing Coordinator at the Park Center, a Nashville non-profit that offers services and support for individuals with mental illness. I am thrilled to have this position, and even more thrilled to begin working with my members (we call them "members" instead of "clients"... it's all very community focused). One of Park Center's initiatives is to eradicate the stigma that surrounds mental illness. The organization offers rehabilitative therapy, group sessions, employment opportunities, practical life-skill training, transportation, housing, case management, etc. I am a part of a team of wonderful individuals working to ensure that the members of Park Center are living healthy, happy, successful lives. As a housing coordinator, I am assigned a caseload of members who reside in our many independent housing units, and I meet with those members several times a month to assist them in any way I can. I am really looking forward to developing relationships and being challenged in the work that lies ahead.

Though this job opportunity is different than what I had been craving, I think it is going to serve as an important few years of my life. I'm finally in an environment in which diversity exists and thrives, and where no one is trying to "look" a certain part (we can wear jeans every day if we want!). We are all in it to serve others and be a part of a healing community. Though I don't get to go out and buy my power skirt-suits to wear to work every day, or come home with a huge paycheck and arthritis from typing at a desk all day, I am going to have the joy of surrounding myself with people from whom I can learn a great deal about kindness, care, success, and life in general.

I have been working at Taco every day since I got the job at Park Center. I literally haven't even celebrated yet, or had time to breath because now I'm working TWO full-time jobs. But soon I will be parting ways with the restaurant industry, which will definitely be something worth celebrating.

This summer has really sucked, y'all. I didn't realize just how depressed and lonely it had made me until I started getting excited about this new job. This is definitely not how I wanted my first three months of marriage to be, but it has been a good test of strength and emotional endurance for me. Until last week, I had been working under a man who pushed me around & made work miserable. Last week he parted ways with the company, for obvious reasons. Since this news came out, I have been reflecting on my time at the restaurant under his leadership. I have concluded that working at that restaurant was a good experience in many ways, for which I am thankful to have worked there. It was also, however, very damaging in other ways. I have not been able to adequately take care of myself emotionally, and as a result have felt distant and lonely, despite living with my husband and next door to my best friend. I lost all energy to socialize--one of the indicators of depression--and began to convince myself that I just don't like going out. I don't know if it was because I worked 55-hour weeks or because the work was so emotionally draining, or because I felt like no one could understand or sympathize with my feelings of frustrations, but I was miserable. I have so many wonderful blessings in my life, and I certainly have no right to complain. On the contrary, reflecting on this summer has given me even more excitement and gratitude in being given the opportunity to work at Park Center.

And, a big congratulations is owed to my best friend Stephanie who was just offered a full-time position at Community Health Charities as a Campaign Coordinator!! We're finally both career women! =)


Sorry for the lack of blog posts. I literally haven't had more than 10 minutes to myself at home in a week. Plus if I did write a post, it would just be sullen and angsty, which no one wants. I promise I'll update once my life reaches some semblance of normalcy and my mood becomes more chipper. This weekend?