Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Latest Obsession

INTRODUCTION:

Many of you out there know about my ADHD and my tendency towards what professionals call 'hyper-focus'. Most of my friends, and especially my husband, refer to it as my obsession for the day... week... or however long the topic lasts as my point of focus. Friends who grew up with me can recognize this trait by the number of times I switched interests. I'd go from acting to languages to cooking to traveling to Egyptology... and I think this specific train of interests all happened in the 7th grade.

My poor mother never knew what to do with me. I was always coming up with big ideas I'd want them to help me finance. They were able to help with some of them, such as putting me in acting or singing lessons, but others were too outlandish for them. Like when I was determined during my sophomore and junior year of high school that I wanted to be a foreign exchange student in Italy. LOL! Oh, the memories. Poor Mommy. I was never an easy child to raise but thankfully, she's a tough one and weathered the storm. Now that I'm married, she's off the hook and can simply laugh at all my crazy ideas. :)

My poor husband is left to sift through which ideas to support and which to silently wait out until something else catches my fancy. He was incredibly supported of everything that I wanted to do the first year while we were dating. Then, he started realizing how often my dreams changed and that I didn't follow through on over 95% of my ideas. :) Don't get me wrong. My husband has proven himself to bend over backwards to support me in the things I choose to do. But, we have both learned the value in making sure that I REALLY know that I want to do something long-term before investing any money or extensive time in a new hobby or project. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for his patience and his guidance through it all.

THE ORIGINAL THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO POST:


I've waited to blog this recent "obsession" until it made it past the initial month but recently, I have been fascinated by natural pregnancies and baby care. Before anyone jumps to conclusions (although I bet its too late for most of you:)) I am not pregnant and am not planning on becoming pregnant in the immediate future. I'm simply fascinated by ideas that I have never really even considered before.

I started wondering how people took care of babies before all the modern products came to be the standard. In modern times, we have plastic diapers, formula, bottles of puree baby food, special bath tubs, cribs, car seats, play pens, sippy cups, ect. So, I started researching. I'm starting to think more and more about how much more expensive baby care is today then it was even for my grandmother. I'm not even talking about price inflation. I'm talking about capitalism's and advertising's power to make us forget that most 'necessities' are in truth: CONVENIENCES.

Honestly, I am ALL about conveniences. I love my bread-maker, blender, tv, hot water, car, cell phone, computer, ect. Please do not take this post as me declaring that the old ways are the better ways. I just can't help but want to learn more about all of these alternative options.

CONCLUSION

I might be crazy and for all we know I might change my mind by the time comes, but I'm really considering trying out for a natural baby for the pure, educational, how-does-it-really-work purpose. If I do decide to go through with this idea, I am committed from day one of pregnancy, through the natural birth, cloth diapers, feeding babies real food, ect. I'm starting my research now so that I have lots of time before I even get pregnant to decide what I want to do, am willing to do, and what would be best for me and my baby.

Please! Let me know your thoughts. I would love to know what other people have tried or how you feel about this topic.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner all by ME!

Today, I made Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time ever. I'm not really even sure if I've ever helped my parents out in the past... don't think so. There were always older siblings for that. :) I've always wanted to make it, though. Last year, we had just gotten to Iceland and were invited over to eat with the Senior missionaries and Elders.

This year was my year and I did it all from scratch... okay, I cheated on the stuffing and used seasoned croutons... but it was almost all from scratch. :) Since it was just Xan and I for dinner, I skipped the whole turkey idea and got a simple Cornish Hen. Perfect size for two people. Menu: roasted Cornish hen, cranberry sauce, mashed yams, stuffing, garbanzo spinach salad, and dinner rolls. I also made a sweet potato and buttermilk pie for desert but we might be saving that for tomorrow.




Yum! We have a ton of leftover cranberry sauce and mashed yams if anyone wants any. ;)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

PS> I'm uploading a few videos onto steppfamilypets.blogspot.com of Toad. He was wired this afternoon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Choosing Pictures for the Wall


Now that Xan and I have all the furniture in place, I've been pulling out all my photo frames and trying to choose which photos to take to Walmart to have printed to fit them. I found this particular wedding photo and decided to share. :) I don't get very many pictures where Xan is smiling and so I'm pretty sure this one is going on the wall.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Self-Reliance

We recently had a Sunday School lesson on self-reliance and most of the lesson was on food storage, budgeting, canning food, ect. The Church of Jesus Christ has asked its members to have a year supply of food storage, lots of water storage, and have 72 hour kits prepared for emergencies. Great lesson, Amy!

Xan and I were talking about it over dinner a couple weeks ago and Xan made a few comments that have really made me ponder about what I am doing to become self-reliant. His emphasis was on the loss of self-reliant skills that were second nature to our ancestors just a couple generations ago.

He started asking me if I knew how to sew a button onto a shirt? Could I can or bottle fruits/vegetables if we had a garden and grew more than we needed? Did I know how to pluck a chicken? Could I make and use cloth diapers for a baby? If all my recipe books were burned and our internet connection was gone, could I continue preparing full meals for at least a week out of memory? Do I know basic First Aid ? ect. (I am happy to say that I can answer yes to a few)

With these questions in mind, I am making a few new goals. I'm learning how to cook according to the season. Since its fall, I've been learning how to cook with spaghetti squash, and other squashes . I'm expanding my crocheting skills and eventually want to pick up knitting as well. I'm hoping to start keeping up my own herb garden in the kitchen next Spring. I'm working on learning the art of oral storytelling tradition to be able to share world mythology and folklore without the aid of a book.

With all that said, the point of this post is to encourage others to take a look at their own life and see what type of skills they want to develop and what fits their needs. I'm not suggesting that we no longer use the convenience of modern times, though. For example, even if you do learn how to use cloth diapers, you can still use Pampers or Huggies and still maintain that skill. It's more about cultivating skills that might really help you in a time of emergency or shortage.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I got a Job!

First order of business, and also the best: I finally found a job. My faith in Wegmans prevailed and I start on Saturday for an orientation meeting. I am really excited to have a job. :)

I've also have been putting my new bread maker into use and made dinner rolls. SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE FROZEN STUFF! Loved it. I made a new rendition of the Bybee traditional noodle dish and added broccoli to go with the delicious rolls. Definitely my new favorite spin.



New pictures of our cat and his attack on the Halloween candy have been posted at steppfamilypets.blogspot.com if you want a good laugh. :)

Lastly, on Sunday afternoon, Dan Evans came to visit us. He's one of our friends back from Provo and was here visiting some family. We loaded him up with Halloween candy, yummy snackage, and lemon cheesecake. Just the regular perks for those who visit us. ;) ;) Thanks for coming! We loved having you!

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Blog Make-Over

I have a lot of passions, interests, and tangents in my life that get pretty messy when I try to blog about all of them on this one blog. For example, not everyone likes to read about reptiles and I know a few people who won't even log onto the blog in fear there will be a picture of my pet snake posted. (I love you anyway, Jenn). Therefore, I have created two other blogs.

www.ashleystepp.blogspot.com - I've made this one my health blog tracker. I'm back in physical therapy and am working on trying to get my body aligned correctly and hopefully get a little more pain eliminated from my everyday life. I'm mostly using it to track my progress and to help me reach my exercise goals. I'll be posting best exercises for various joints and overall fitness.

www.steppfamilypets.blogspot.com - I've made Xan a co-author for this one. We both love learning about different animals and dreaming about all the different pets we would like to have someday such as an octopus, sugar gliders, ect. I'm creating this blog so that we can freely post pictures of our current pets, including our snake and frogs, as well as go off on tangents about other animals without boring those who don't share our passion. :) But we really hope that some of you out will enjoy this site and be just as interested as we are.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Today's Small Victory

I've been struggling here in Ithaca to remember people's names. Learning hundreds of new names comes with moving to a new place. It was easier in college. I would move to a new apartment and have 3-4 names down by the end of the day. Room mate names are pretty easy to learn since I see them all day and everyday. Frequent house hopping and visiting made it a bit easier to learn the other names in my single's ward within the first 2-3 weeks of the semester. Learning names in class took a bit longer but I usually would learn 3 or 4 out of each class: those I sat by frequently and studied with together.

Learning names here in Ithaca hasn't been as convenient. I learn a new name and then don't see them for the rest of the week. By the time Sunday is back again, all previous name-learning has been erased. It was really getting to me because it is hard to make friends when I am constantly asking, "Remind me of your name again..." It's worse with some of Xan's classmates because I see them maybe only once a month.

I realized a small victory today, though. I was substitute teaching in Relief Society for someone who had just had their baby and was able to call on by name all but one of the sisters who raised their hands. A small victory, but I'll take it!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Crisis of Job Interviews and Decisions

I've been actively looking for a job since mid-July. I've done the internet searching before we got here and have filled out countless applications and sent resumes all over the place since then. I've tried going in and handing the application with my resume directly to the manager in charge of hiring. I've sat through several interviews... and nada. No job.

And then...

One of my new friends here, Kim Yost (Mother Nature in the Halloween post), works at Kohls and helped pull some strings to get me an interview for seasonal hiring. It went really well. They had me in a group interview and told me that if my background check clears, I would be hired in the shoe department. I was ecstatic!

And then...

I get a call from Wegmans an hour after coming home from my interview with Kohls this last Wednesday. Wegmans is the most wonderful grocery store I have ever been to. It's comparable to Harmons (for those who don't know Wegmans) only BETTER! I'll spare you the rant of how fantastic it is and just say that their employment offer was much better. I was able to have an interview Thursday with their Human Resource department and then the last interview Friday with the grocery department. I was blunt and told them about my Kohls offer and letting them know I'd rather work for them but don't really want to tell Kohls no until I had a solid offer from them. They have to do the background check and I'll hear from them next week.

Well...

Kohls called Later On Friday with their job offer to work in the shoe department and I had to... TURN KOHLS DOWN. Now I'm in that hopeful state that Wegmans pulls through and I didn't just turn my only offer of employment down. While I am SUPER GRATEFUL for all this positive employment attention, it would be nice to only get one offer at a time and not have to close second-choice doors with the chance of door #1 never opening. I may be 95% positive Wegmans will call back and hire me ... but there is still that 5% feeling of doubt.

Wish me luck!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

Here are a few pictures from our Halloween. I dressed up in my Chinese outfit and Xan dressed up as Odin, a Nordic God. We first went to the Branch Halloween party and then went to some of Xan's classmates house for their party.

Here is Kim Yost and I. She's dressed up as Mother Nature. Gorgeous!


This is Matt and Caroline with their little girl. They had these outfits for the Renaissance Fair. Caroline made all three by herself. Very impressive!


This is Joel, one of Xan's classmates, working up the Pope look. Love the candy jewel rings. Reminds me of Disney's Robin Hood when Robin sucks all the jewel's off the King John's fingers. :)


Here's Xan in his costume. Below is the picture of Odin that inspired the costume.

Odin is often visiting places in disguise so he looks like a commoner in this particular disguise.


And last picture I have for you is of Kristin. Loved her costume! She dressed up as the mad hatter. Brilliant!


Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween full of lots of candy!