A Calling.

I love it when people’s names match their vocation.

I love that my banker’s name is Yen, and that Alison Cook is the food critic for the Houston Chronicle. I love doctors with “Payne” ¬†on their diplomas and radio personalities named “Mike.” When a woman named “Brandi” mans the cash register at the liquor store where I buy wine and the forecast is reported by an anchor named Gale, I can’t help but smirk knowing that everything is exactly how it should be.

God has a sense of humor in making sure all the pieces just fall into place. But what about the rest of us?

What do we do when our calling isn’t so clear? Alone or hand-in-hand with destiny, we all choose our own path, left to wander wishing the roads were more carefully and precisely labeled.

Checking In

I always used to tease that I needed to get a part time job at Anthropologie just so I could start making back some of the money I spent every single time I passed the threshold of the doors.

You know that little antique store downtonwn I told you about? Same thing. Except this time, I kinda am earning my money back.

For the (ehem) third, maybe fourth weekend in a row, I went back this afternoon – but this time to check out how my paintings were selling:

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Then ya know, continued browsing amongst all the little things there are to love:

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Obsessed with this piece. Pretty sure it’s not for sale and more for displaying other things, but can’t help but fall in love.

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Who wants to collect old mason jars when you can collect glass gin bottles? ūüėČ

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Loving this painting. Maybe I’ll attempt something similar?

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Look what it is! An ombre dresser that looks like mine’s twin!

Before finally leaving with a little something for myself – a burnt “longhorn” orange jacket with pearl snaps perfect for the Houston rodeo/being awesome:

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A Real Crock.

I can’t cook.

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Give me a fool-proof recipe, and I’ll show you a fool.

Seriously, last night I messed up boil-in-a-bag rice. Something about the need to have patience and follow directions exactly makes my head explode. Having said that, I’ve had some minor successes (major by my standards) that are worth celebrating.

List of things I can now successfully cook:

1. Crockpot Chicken – I’ve now completely lost the online recipe I used, but basically all you do is chop some veggies, take a whole (small) chicken and rub it down with your favorite spices. Put the veggies on the bottom (don’t add water!) and let it cook on low for 8 hours. Easy-peasy. Only thing I regret is using a recipe that had sage and thyme – I’ve never been super fond of either and they remind me too much of Thanksgiving stuffing. Either way, after 8 hours the meat just falls off the bone, and the leftovers make an excellent base for a soup.

My reco:

  • New potatoes
  • celery
  • carrots
  • onions
  • Chicken rub – Tony Sachere’s and black pepper. Done and done. Maybe squeeze a lemon over it, if you’re gonna go crazy.

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3. Pasta Florentine – Who doesn’t love a Pioneer Woman recipe? Especially one that was actually easy enough for me to make. I didn’t take pictures (I suppose a good sign of how fast it was inhaled and how good it turned out), but made a few revisions to her recipe.

Original: Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Florentine Pasta

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Changes:

  • I didn’t have chicken thawed, so instead of using the pan “sauce” leftover by cooking the chicken, I just went straight to cooking the chopped garlic in olive oil and then added Knorr chicken stock ¬†straight out of the packet, with less water to dilute in that usual,¬†and a little bit of corn starch to help thicken the sauce.
  • I also didn’t have cherry tomatoes, and I’m not really big on tomatoes in general, so I just left them out and doubled the spinach.
  • The first time I made it, I bought a fancy block of parm from the deli/fancy cheese section. The second time I didn’t have as much so I just threw a bunch of plastic shaker container generic Kraft on there and mixed until it was melted. Both were good, but I have to say the fancy parm did add a little something in terms of flavor.

Conversations in My Head with Other People

photo (46)(The very similar, yet much more sane version of ‚ÄúConversations with other people in my head‚ÄĚ)

Donut Shop Person: Hi, what can I get for you today?

Me: Oh, I’m not sure. I just want to get a little morale booster for the office. What do you recommend?

Donut Shop Person: Oh, that‚Äôs nice ‚Äď how many people? I‚Äôd recommend getting a variety.

Me: Oh, I work from home….. soooo three! Definitely three people. Small business. (Under breath: Two canine.)

The real thing is hardly ever as interesting. Regardless, I‚Äôm starting the day with a half dozen donuts and one kolache ‚Äúfor the one who doesn‚Äôt like sweets.‚ÄĚ

Taking the Plunge

I’m really trying this year to do the things I always said or thought or wished I would do, but haven’t because honestly, I’m not the most confident person in life. I always second guess if people truly think I am good at something or if they are really just being nice. I suppose this would qualify as some sort of self esteem issue, but it seems to be very specific to the things I create. I’ve never been one to question what I wear (all others be dammed, I love this outfit!) or the choices I make (it’s all in the gut!) or even the fact that I may not be my ideal bodyweight all the time.

It’s something about art – and its absolute complete subjectivity that somehow throws me for a loop. It’s taken me nearly 10 years of painting off and on (and 27 years of growing up) to put myself out there for real.

What did I do exactly? I found this adorable antique store downtown that displays and sells local art and they agreed to let me do the same (with a 20% commission on everything I sell).

So, I took the plunge.

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I’m so excited to go see them hanging up in the store this weekend/slightly terrified no one will buy any… either way, I did it. Victory is mine.

Turning a Lamp into a Lamp

Is harder than it looks.

Especially when said “lamp” is actually a gas lantern that happens to be oh, sixty or so years old and covered in rust.

First – disassembly amidst said rust (hint: apply WD-40 liberally before trying to loosen any bolts) and cleaning everything up really good with Windex and metal polish…

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Then setting aside the gas components (left side of picture) and taking the pieces we still wanted to use to Lowe’s with us to make sure all our fixtures fit, before drilling some holes (with a Dremmel) in the base for the electric cord, saving the original center hole for the gas line for bolting in the new socket.

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Finally, reassembling with its new electric innards, including (of course) a mini Edison bulb to fit perfectly in the original fixture, then¬†wincing¬†as we plugged it in and waited for sparks to literally fly. Once we were sure that wasn’t happening – presto! Done.

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I have to admit I’m prouder of this project than most I’ve done. Not only because it involved electrical work (and our house is still standing, uncharred), but also because I fought through my own feministic impulses and actually allowed Aaron to help me. And you know what? It turned out that much better for it.

Now, it’s officially for sale on my Etsy shop, for an I-dare-someone-to-buy-it hefty price because I maybe kinda sorta wanna keep it for myself, except for the fact I’m hellbent on convincing Aaron my random craft endeavors could potentially be profitable.

And the winner is…

Above: Original Painting by Etsy Artist Briana Taylor. (Click image to visit her shop)

Above: Original Painting by Etsy Artist Briana Taylor. (Click image to visit her shop)

Just wanted to take a moment and be sure to say a giant THANKS to each and every one of you who took your time to fill out my survey about some potential new Etsy items.¬†Your answers were exactly what I’d hoped for – honest and inspiring. I have some great ideas for how to make improvements, and I deeply appreciate everything you wrote. More things to come when I get some more crafting under my belt.

In the meantime, the winner of my Sephora kit giveaway, chosen at random from our survey takers who left comments on the blog entry is….

Courtney N!

Courtney, please email me at Contact Lauren Mack (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll get it shipped on over to you!

Seven-Dollar Sweep

Oh, how I love¬†rummaging¬†through junk. After about an hour of antiquing today, I stumbled across a few things I couldn’t live with out/considered an absolute STEAL at the prices I found them:

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Electric Insulators – which I just finished listing on my Etsy store.

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This old (THREE dollar!!) gas lantern that Aaron and I are currently in the process of turning into an electric lamp.

Sometimes I wonder if everyone else is just not aware how awesome these objects are (and thus the prices) or if I am really the one who has completely lost it. I really hope it’s the former and not the latter… Lord knows, out of pure love, Aaron will never tell me for sure which.

Kale Fallout

I, along with most “wish-I-were-10-okay-20-pounds-lighter” Americans have just about had enough of Kale. We’ve been convinced that it is somehow the key to unlocking the kingdom of healthy eating and loosened jeans.

Well, I think the recent surge may be finally passing. Exhibit A:

Part of me feels a healthy good riddance is in order, but there is a part of me that actually does kinda like the stuff (in limited quantities).

So, before it goes the way of Greek yogurt, whole wheat, flax and low-fat everything, ¬†here’s a list of “Lauren will always be a fat kid” approved applications of kale:

1. ¬†Kale salad and Local Foods in West U –¬†golden raisins, toasted pine nuts, and parmesan.

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Photo Credit: Tom Spoth, Houston Chronicle

2. Super-Diluted Kale + Fruit Juice Smoothie – Made at home with frozen pineapple, frozen mango, fresh baby spinach and a little bit of fresh kale, plus either Naked or Odwalla juice to add a little more flavor. Actually shockingly tasty. Also good when you add strawberries, but the color goes from a slightly more appealing bright green to a brownish goop.

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3. ¬†Kale salad at Roots Bistro¬†on Westheimer –¬†Carrot, pumpkin seeds, creamy garlic dressing and Sriracha.

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4. ¬†Kale Chips – Though I have not personally made or eaten them, I’ve heard good things about this recipe from none other than MD Anderson:

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Nothing like getting the flu to help you gain perspective

Sometimes I forget that perfectionism is a disease, not a virtue. Sometimes it takes a disease (hello, flu season) to force me to sit and do nothing when the list of reasons to be busy seems endless.

30600288655PS – Sorry for the delay in announcing the contest winner. I’ll choose one at random this weekend, which means you still have time to read this post, take my survey and leave a comment saying you did to enter to win.

PPS – Wash your hands. It’s ugly out there.

Five Things

 

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1. Art that inspires.

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2. This Warhol-esque (and delightfully pink!) makeover on a classic movie poster.

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3. Super stylish Save-the-Dates from friends that make me (almost) as excited as the wedding itself.

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4. My other friend’s flawless baby room style that makes me (almost) excited about eventually doing the same.

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5. Vertical gardening with a cute retro cart – ensuring a beauty no matter how many plants you accidentally kill.

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