New Year’s Resolutions Part 3

put down the iPhone

In July, after a three-year-old baby-sitting charge dropped my cell phone in a pile of wet sand, I became a smartphone user. And it’s since then that I’ve realized the real danger that is smartphone-use while driving. In the past, I’d never had much of a problem leaving my phone in my purse while in the car. Sure, I’d answer the occasional phone call or send the a quick text while sitting at a stoplight, but I never considered myself one of those “dangerous” cell phone drivers.

All that changed, though, when Gmail, Facebook, and WordPress landed straight in the palm of my hand. Available to me at any time, the urge to check my email and scroll through status updates is far too strong. I find myself subconsciously reaching for my phone while behind the wheel entirely too often. I know the statistics. Seriously. (If you leave me some long-winded comment citing percentages of accidents, trying to force me to see the error of my ways, I’ll be really annoyed. I get it.)

So, I’ve decided it’s time to change this habit. So, in 2012, my iPhone will be riding in my trunk any time I’m traveling solo. No text, no call, no status update is vital enough for the distraction and risk that is smartphone-use while driving.

New Year’s Resolutions Part 2

be more inventive in the kitchen (a two-part resolution)

We run our dishwasher at least once a day, which may seem like a lot for a household of two. But the higher water bill is offset by our economically-friendly habit of eating at home. During our dating years, B and I were in the habit of eating out almost every time we shared a meal. It was just easier; I lived with my parents, and B’s apartment was a bachelor pad in every sense of the phrase, right down to his bare refrigerator. If we wanted a little privacy for a meal, we had to 1) kick my parents out of their house, 2) cart all the ingredients from their house to B’s apartment, or 3) eat out. For simplicity’s sake, we usually fell back on the latter choice. However, when we moved in together and took a closer look at our budget, we knew that for our wallet’s sake, that habit would have to change. We now eat out, on average, once a week. The rest of our meals we cook at home.

In the past eight months that we’ve lived together, we’ve developed a standard repertoire of dishes:

Occasionally we’ll venture out and experiment with some ground beef or throw together a different kind of soup or pasta, but overall, we’re stuck in a bit of a food rut. Much of this is my fault–I do most of the cooking, and am constantly scouring cookbooks, websites, and magazines for recipe ideas. However, during the work week, I just plain don’t feel like figuring out a new recipe. So, part one of this resolution is to:

try new recipes

But, wait! There’s more. Since moving in, we’ve really only hosted dinner for other people three times, and I’m embarrassed to admit that each time the menu was the same. I blogged about the menu of our first dinner party in July, and it really was not that astounding. But every time we’re set to have people over, I get nervous. I don’t want to try out a new recipe on guests; what if it’s awful? So, I end up making our same-old go-to dish.

A couple weekends ago, my good friend and her boyfriend had B and I over for dinner, and I was so impressed with the menu. She had cheese, bread, and grapes for appetizers, a seasonal salad, lightly-glazed roasted chicken, and a Pinterest-inspired potato dish. Not only that, but the presentation was lovely. For dessert, she’d even put together a little picnic basket with all the makings for s’mores. The whole evening was beautiful, comfortable, and adorable.

Therefore, the second half of my food-related resolution is to:

learn some guest-worthy dishes and host dinner parties

Not only will this two-parter of a resolution spice up our dinner life a bit, but I plan to keep you all up-to-date with my kitchen accomplishments, as well. Coming soon is a page with some of our favorite recipes, the tried-and-true as well as the new.

Actually, here’s an idea–let’s make this a back-and-forth. If you’d like to share a recipe with me, I’d love to try it out!

Update: Check out this new page, where I’ll keep track of some of our favorite recipes we try throughout the year!

New Year’s Resolutions Part 1

be less prejudiced

prej-u-dice /ˈprejədəs/ Preconceived opinion not based on reason or experience

So often we think of racial, religious, and sexual prejudice. Though the word is often used in regards to one’s bias towards a group of people, my trouble with prejudice is largely more personal.

Allow me to illustrate this point with a stoy…

One afternoon in the weeks before Christmas, I rushed off to Target between work and handbell practice to pick up a few things–namely, gift wrap, Play-Doh, and a book for my book club’s Christmas exchange. With less than 20 minutes to shop and get to church, I quickly chose the latest Lisa See novel, Shanghai Girls, sped through the aisles, and was disappointed to find only three open registers. I chose the shortest line–and quickly regretted my choice. The sales associate was an older, larger woman with huge, thick glasses. She had a nasally voice and was talking in a slow drawl with the customers in front of me. Each conversation seemed to go on far too long–every item she scanned invoked a story about her grandchild, or a discussion about the sale price. I considered jumping in another line, but at this point felt like I’d invested too much time waiting. Compulsively checking the time on my phone (and realizing I was, without a doubt, going to be late and hungry), I had certainly pre-judged this woman. From her appearance and the comments I’d overheard, I’d (unconsciously) decided she was uneducated, unintelligent, and just plain a hindrance to my busy evening.

Finally, it was my turn in line. I placed my three things on the belt and greeted her with a cursory “hello,” meant to indicate my hurry. Picking up Shanghai Girls, the woman commented, “Oh, this is a fabulous book.”

I looked up, a little surprised. “Well, good,” I replied, “I’m looking forward to reading it.”

“Have you read any of her others?” she asked me.

“Actually, I did my junior project on Snow Flower and the Secret Fan in college,” I answered.

“Oh, that one was wonderful. You know what else I just read that I really enjoyed? Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.”

“I love that book!” I gushed. “I just read it a few months ago.” The woman, who was so clearly the opposite of all the preconceived notions I’d made about her, went on to name two or three other books that are on my To-Read list.

“Well, honey,” she said as she handed me my back, “you come back and tell me about what else you’re reading!”

“I will!” I said. As I walked out to my car, amidst the other holiday shoppers rushing to and fro without an ounce of patience for one another, I thought about how that experience at the register had really put me in my place. Who was I to judge someone based on their appearance or their career? How unkind, prejudiced, and un-Christian was that?

I truly feel as though God chose my line at Target that Wednesday. Since that evening, I’ve thought of that woman often; I even considered returning with an invitation to join my book club, since I know it would match her tastes. So, one of my 2012 resolutions is to judge less, practice patience, and endeavor to see the good in people.