Contentment is . . .

“Contentment is a choice based in actively choosing a perspective of thankfulness”

I thought I would follow up my post Summer projects, the waiting game, and being content with this quote. It is easy to get frustrated when you are looking ahead and wanting to be there and not where you are. But awhile ago when I was just as discouraged, impatient, and frustrated with waiting and job search as I was a week ago, I wrote down this quote and put it up on my dresser mirror to remind me.

I need to actively look around to recognize I am in the here and now for a purpose. What will help me be patient is actively focusing on that which I am thankful for now. And there is plenty to be thankful for, many things I have learned to take for granted beyond a great family and wonderful husband. There is a large portion of the world that is not credit card debt free, or doesn’t have a roof over their heads, enough food to feed their family, a bed to sleep in, a working car, and means to pay the bills on time. I can easily forget thankfulness in this culture that teaches us consumers to be discontent so we want more.

Discontentment is wanting change or to add to life, to be somewhere or something else. I am wanting to be down the road about four months (anticipating by then I’ll have a class to teach). But I will get there when I get there. On the plus side, I have, as of last night, turned in my last application: seven different courses as an adjunct English instructor split between two colleges. So now I will try to contently wait to hear back.

How do you learn to be content?

An Ithaca birthday adventure

As I mentioned on my birthday, this past weekend we took a trip to the college town Ithaca for some summer b-day  fun. We got moving slowly in the morning because we went to the local drive-in theatre Friday night and didn’t get to sleep until 2:30am.

Fortunately Luke made us some irish cream lattes for the road. By noon we were traveling through the green tree covered hills with the windows down passing small villages and lake side towns.

IMG_0181

We arrived in Ithaca around 1pm and drove straight to the steamboat dock. Here at the base of Cayuga lake is Ithaca’s famous Saturday Farmer’s Market.

IMG_0184IMG_0186

We entered the wood covering strung with lights and began to look around. Like a true farmers market there were many stalls of fresh local herbs, vegetables and fruits, garden plants, dairy products, and meats. But much like the more permanent Pike’s Place Market there were also vendors selling local maple syrup, honey, cheese, wine and hard cider all up for tasting and sampling.

IMG_0188

IMG_0189

Interspersed between the food goods were vendor stalls with homemade crafts, pottery, jewelry, paintings, photographs, incense and essential oils, woodworking and even hammocks. This was a great place to people watch or listen to a street musician playing an acoustic guitar.

IMG_0193

IMG_0192

There were also many food vendors from around the world: Cuban, Tibetan, Cambodian, Thai, French, and Mediterranean to name a few. Luke and I chose to order buckwheat gluten-free crepes stuffed with ricotta and spinach and topped with a mozzarella herb sauce. We took our food and sat down on the dock watching the ducks, boats, and kayakers on the lake as we ate.

IMG_0191IMG_0197

IMG_0194IMG_0196

Satisfied with our market experience, we left with a local bottle of hard cider and stomachs full ready for the next stage of the adventure.

IMG_0183

Driving up the hills we stopped at Buttermilk State Park. This park hosts trails and bridges spanning from the top of lake Treman, to waterfalls through the gorge, all the way down to Buttermilk Falls base where there is a swimming hole. We took the gorge trail down to Buttermilk Falls named for the foamy white water which falls over the grated slate.

IMG_0198

It was a very hot and humid day but it cooled off considerably once we took a few flights of stairs down onto the gorge trail and stood under the cover of the trees lining the gorge’s rim. The gorge trail follows the river as it passes over slabs of slate creating several unique mini-falls along the way.

IMG_0199IMG_0207

Everyone and their dogs, were taking breaks from the humid trail to splash barefoot in the shallow waterways between the waterfalls.

IMG_0209IMG_0231

After our hike, I was ready to cool down my cherry red skin. So we headed to yogurtland.  After sampling a few flavors I chose a bowl of tart blackberry passionfruit swirled with original and a small amount of vanilla topped with cheesecake bits, strawberries, and yogurt chips.

IMG_0237

After our sugary cold treat, we checked out the campsite at the base of Buttermilk state Park then drove up to the commons, the central college area for Ithaca College and Cornell.

After a walk around we drove back down the hill and ended up at A Taste of Thai. I ordered my favorite norm: red curry with chicken and Luke tried their Rad Nah drunken spicy noodles. I was happy to get red curry as good as they come with plenty of fresh chicken, basil, peppers, and bamboo shoots.

IMG_0239

When we arrived back home Luke commented that he saw a firefly. Excited I got out and watched, sure enough I saw that yellow flashing light moving along the grass in our backyard! I guess that is one benefit of living in some humidity.

That was my Ithaca birthday adventure.

Do you have a favorite Farmer’s Market?

How do you like your frozen yogurt?

Birthday in picture review

Thought I would follow up my b-day outing plans with some picture proof.

After a walk down to the library, I went to Walker Cake Co.and realized I was hungry for more than a treat. So I got a gluten-free artichoke avocado bacon turkey sandwich with flaxseed tortilla chips and grapefruit juice and yes it was very good. 🙂

IMG_0250

Then I walked down to Soul Full Cup. Indecisive about what to order I looked at the specials and decided on the dark chocolate iced coffee. It was rich dark yummy awesomeness great for accompanying my good read.

IMG_0253

Next I walked down to the grocery store to pick up a few items and some new kitchen goods then headed back home.

thunderstorms predicted thought an umbrella would be a good caution

thunderstorms predicted thought an umbrella would be a good caution

After cooling off from the humid 90 degree weather I treated myself to the dessert I picked up after lunch: mocha doughnut cupcake. It was so rich and crumbly good I only ate a quarter of it.

IMG_0260

To top off the day, Luke came home after work with a present for me too beautiful for wrapping.

IMG_0262

25 is Golden

images-1

Today June 25th I turn 25, so today is my golden birthday.  And no I do not have any “gold” themed b-day plans. So what am I doing today?

Unknown

Well this past weekend we celebrated with a day trip to Ithaca (which I will share later ). As for today? I plan to take a walk to the library, pick up a book on my long book list, stop by  Walker Cake Co. downtown and get a b-day treat (probably a cupcake). Then I will head to Soul full cup to enjoy a cup of caffeine and a good read.

images

images-1

Growing up, when it was our birthday we would open up our cards and display them on the mantel above the fireplace for a few weeks. Well right now we do not have a fireplace 😦 . But I have a solution. Awhile ago my parent’s bought me a metal picture holder. Held up by two small nails on either ends, pictures can be held between two metal loops and pinched  in place. When we moved to New York , I decided to use this holder to display cards, pictures, announcements, and invitations much as a fireplace mantel would.

IMG_2836

Displaying all of Luke’s B-day cards in March

In seasons where there are no celebrations, I use the space to display advice cards from my bridal shower. At my bridal shower, guests were given time to write on colorful card stock advice for my marriage. They were all handed  to me at the end of the day some signed, some not. So I thought as a nice reminder, I would display these words of wisdom from my female friends and relatives. In the middle I place one of the Christmas/thank you cards we gave out this past year (for more see: invites and thank you cards: communicating with your guests).

IMG_2507

Displaying advice cards from my bridal shower

Since we have moved this picture/card holder’s items have changed many times, displaying Christmas cards, thank you cards, graduation announcements, save the dates, and wedding invitations. It is a way to stay connected to family and friends, to remember what is going on in their lives, and to be encouraged they are aware of ours no matter how far away we are.

IMG_0246

Displaying my b-day cards as well as my bro’s grad announcement, save the date, and wedding invite

What are you favorite b-day activities or treats?

What do you do with cards and announcements?

Mixing it up: a trail mix/snack recipe

Chex mix, trail mix, gorp whatever you call it. It is that crunchy sweet and salty goodness pumped with protein so that a few handfuls can get you through the next mile of the hiking trail, your homework/after hours paperwork, or that long-haul road-trip.

Everyone has their favorite ingredients some like it spicy and salty with wasabi , others healthy with dried fruit and nuts, and some like theirs sweet full of chocolate chips or M and M’s.

IMG_2772

With my allergy to barley and to tree-nuts eatable ingredients are more limited the most store-bought trail mixes (for more see Why I am barley free). So I have learned to make my own.

The summer Luke and I started dating we took a road-trip to Yellowstone to spend time with my family and then on to meet Luke’s parents in Oregon (for more see Update on my life 2011). That was the first time I made a homemade trail mix and since then it has been our go-to snack mix providing us with a kick of sugar and protein to keep going.

So here’s what I do:

I start with a carb. base of gluten and barley-free rice squares (aka chex):

IMG_2750

Then I add the goodies: For fruit I prefer dried cranberries over raisins; they have a tart kick but also can be sweet. Then also some peanuts (which are not tree-nuts) for protein. And then for some added sweetness a limited dose of butterscotch chips.

IMG_2751

Then last of all some seasoning. To balance the sweet and salty I include cinnamon, salt, and a little brown sugar.

IMG_2753

And there is the Greene’s simple recipe for trail mix/snack. I know I didn’t give exact portions here just ingredients. But t it really depends on how healthy you want your snack to be and how much you plan to make.

IMG_2773

And when your trail mix looks this good it’s not easy to remember it is only a “snack” (especially when you are home with the whole stash of it).

So how about you what is your favorite power snack?

How do you like your trail mix?

Summer projects, the waiting game, and being content

images

Well summer has officially started as of today. This calls to my mind what this season might bring for me.

Since vacation in May (see Vacation Highlights part 1 and Vacation Highlights part 2) I have felt pressure to work hard at my job: the job of finding a job. It is hard living in a place where you know no one because with jobs these days it really is all about who you know. And who do I know here? A handful of people by name and even then not well at all.

a card my brother game me after graduating from college

a card my brother game me after graduating from college

So then what do I do?  Gather all the needed materials, send it to any job in my field of experience then hope, pray, and wait. Last week I sent off a job application for several positions teaching at the local community college.  Every time I think about that application  many “what ifs” come to mind. You know the game: what if . . . they didn’t get it, it’s buried in paperwork, they are already done interviewing for the positions I was looking at etc. Then I remember the “what if” game gets me absolutely nowhere but very stressed and frustrated. It is out of my hands, in theirs and I need to choose to hope for the best instead of wondering.

images-1

What do I do while I wait? Good question. This has been the longest I have been without a job, school, or some combination of both ever. My life and calendar=very open. So again-what do I do with my time? Well you are reading part of it. (Just in case you wondered why I post so often). Other than blogging I do some editing work for my mother-in-law’s who is an author , weekly catch up with family and friends from out West. Past that? My life consists of a  pretty mundane routine of  dishes, getting groceries, laundry, cleaning the house, prepping dinner, exercise, reading, and watching netflix shows. For some people this limited level of responsibilities would be bliss. For those busy women out there with several jobs and/or possibly several children I know you must envy my spare time. But for me it is torture.

images-2

I am a very active person who enjoys deeply, fully investing in a cause I know I can make a difference in. I am ambitious, hard working, diligent, detail oriented. (I know I sound like I’m rehearsing for an interview or rattling off one of my more recent intent letters for job applications). But I promise this is just me being transparent with my readers about my personality. I told Luke the other night “How do you think you would do with having 8 months of no work, no school, and not having your own car?” He thought about it and realized “not too well”. I’ve been trying, really, to not be “not doing too well” with what I’ve been given.

images-3

I  try a lot of new recipes, and gratefully appreciate time with Luke.  But mostly I do a lot of thinking about what my purpose is here in NY? What am I supposed to be doing while I am here?

Unknown

So now I come to the topic of summer projects. I don’t currently have any. I am a creative person and could apply myself to several new tasks or old hobbies and enjoy them. But I am also very purpose driven, so if I don’t have a practical reason to do these projects then I have a hard time starting them. Luke has mentioned trying to find me an electric piano because I haven’t played since we moved. I could finish a painting I’ve left undone for almost a year, start making or learning to make more jewelry (or sign up for a crafting class) but none of these would be investing in others or serving for a deep or greater purpose then taking up my time.

images-4

I promise this post is not a  group invite to a personal pity party or written to pull your heart strings to elicit sympathetic replies. It is instead a realistic view of where I am at. I am trying to be grateful for the many details I can take for granted and continue to exercise the disciples of being patient and content. Two very difficult and necessary virtues.

Unknown-1

As for what I am enjoying about the summer season? The weather of course for one. This past winter left a pretty deep imprint on my mind. Secondly there is a new activity almost every weekend in the area. It is as if each little town, village, or city has it’s own weekend (or several) for summer festivals. And that is not including the county fairs, state fair, and farmers markets. Of course  there are also so many outdoor activities and places to explore : kayaking, hiking, camping, swimming at the many lakes, waterfalls, and wooded hills and mountains surrounding us. And last of all of course I’m looking forward to my brother’s wedding in August!!

Invite came in the mail this week!!

Invite came in the mail this week!!

I know I will enjoy this summer and that I should be  content with the limited responsibilities and activities I have. But I also know I would embrace the time even more if I knew that it was limited and had an idea of when it will end, knowing I am progressing towards some purposeful activities here in New York.

So answering my earlier question I believe this Summer season will bring me: sunshine, a great time celebrating with family at my brother’s wedding, and hopefully a job come fall.

How about you? What are your summer plans?

Strawberry Festival: an up and down outing

logo-default

This past Saturday, Luke and I decided to go for a drive to a little town called Owego NY for their 33rd Annual Strawberry Festival. We took a scenic northern route to get there driving through small towns and farmland. Once we arrived downtown we struggled to find any form of parking and decided finally to support the local boy scouts for $5 parking. Eager to stretch our legs and explore, we got out and began walking the blocked off streets of downtown Owego.

IMG_0149

Looking around we saw the typical festival food everything dipped, fried, and covered in powdered sugar or syrup possible. There were also BBQ, Gyro, Philly Cheesesteak, Italian sausage, and hamburger and french fry trucks parked all along the sidewalks. Among the many vendors we saw local artists paintings and pottery, antiques, tupperware, tie dyed outfits for all ages, face painting,  sunglasses stands, jewelry, toys all similar to the many flee markets I’m used to in SoCal.

IMG_0150

Turning a corner, we ran into one of the Saturday events: fireman’s hose race. Two teams at a time compete to  set up the hose line,  filling it with water, and  be the first team to knock down the sign at the end of the raceway with their steady stream of water. We watched one race and at the end in celebration the winning team turned the hose to the sky spraying the crowd with water.

IMG_0153

Since this was a strawberry festival, there were plenty of  strawberry flavored novelties: lemonade, icees, strawberry flavored kettle corn, smoothies, shortcake and more. Luke and I decided to pick up a strawberry daiquiri from Elk’s Lodge to share as we walked around.

IMG_0154

Following a path around one of the three music stages we found the waterfront to the Susquehanna river. Walking along the path following the river, we watched  cars crossing over the river on the bridge leading into old town.  Passing a children’s play area including bounce houses, we found a local jam and butter stand and bought some strawberry rhubarb butter.

IMG_0151

Walking further down the street we found the wine tasting tent. We only bought one ticket: $5 for 10 tastes to share since there were only a few vendors. Disappointed by most of the wineries, Luke headed to the brewery.  Eager to try their beers Luke sampled them all. The result was good and bad new. Bad news for the brewery he wasn’t impressed by. Good news? He thought his first homemade brew was actually better than what he tasted and has more faith in his ability to make some great homemade beer!!

IMG_0155

After a little more walking around, we decided to stop to eat. Craving mexican we decided to stop into their local mexican restaurant with seating over looking the river. Luke ordered a build your own burrito and I did the same but in a bowl form. Hungry we were happy when our food arrived. Sadly that happiness did not last long. Barely into my meal I found the chicken in my burrito bowl to be tasteless. Luke found his meat to be similarly bland. We left disappointed realizing we have still yet to have found a decent Mexican restaurant any better than Taco Bell here on the East Coast.

IMG_0147

As we left the festival we found another local vendor for honey. Luke has been wanting to get local honey for awhile, hoping it will help us adjust to the pollen and allergens in the area. Knowing that I use quite a bit of honey   and wanting to support a local business we got the 2lb. container and a few honey sticks for the road.

The goodies from our outing

The goodies from our outing

The Strawberry Festival had it’s ups and downs. Another down moment was that we saw only one actual strawberry stand out of the hundreds of vendors, selling small containers of strawberries for 4.50 each!!!! Still it was a worth while to explore a thriving small downtown area only an hour from home. Plus we found a new river to explore and hopefully kayak on.

How was your weekend?