Approval Junkie by Faith Salie

As Approval Junkie was written by a comedian, I’d expected it to be funny. It wasn’t for me, though. I suspect Salie was aiming for an older, more experienced audience to better appreciate her tale.

Approval Junkie by Faith Salie review

Approval Junkie:

Faith Salie is a genuine approval junkie. Whether she’s looking for roles on T.V. or getting the best grades possible or even choosing a dress for divorce court, Salie always tries to please others – until she learns that it’s really herself she needs to please.

Some Valuable Information:

Approval Junkie read very much like a self-help novel (not necessarily a bad thing) at parts and I struggled to stay focused throughout most of the book. It wasn’t all slow, however. Salie provided some valuable information in a chapter about listening; “There’s a huge difference between listening to help yourself seem funny or smart or right and listening to help someone express himself.” Pg. 88.

Somewhat Offensive Parts:

There were parts that I found somewhat offensive as a Christian, so be warned if you decide to pick up Approval Junkie that a small portion of the book does consist of references to Jesus in a not-so-reverent way.

Recommendation:

Although I found that the story didn’t draw me in, I would still recommend it to other women, particularly mothers. Salie wrote multiple chapters and sections on motherhood, attempting to become a mother, and related struggles.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Fifth Petal – Brunonia Barry

Wow. I tore through this book! It’s my favorite book so far this year, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it remained at least in my top five even when the year is over. Although I have not read The Lace Reader (also by Barry), The Fifth Petal easily holds its own, and the series does not need to be read in order. I didn’t even realize this was the second book until after finishing the novel – but now I’m definitely going to be checking out the first one.

Barry weaves fact and fiction, mystery and mythology in a spellbinding work that I couldn't put down. The Fifth Petal is everything a mystery lover could want.

Barry’s writing kept me so involved that I thought about The Fifth Petal even when not reading, and more often than once read long into the night. There were times when I worried about the story being mostly resolved with the usual bookworm problems – “too many pages left”; but The Fifth Petal – though not entirely happy – met the perfect end.

Perfect Blend of Mystery & Thrills:

Despite The Fifth Petal being marketed as a thriller, it wasn’t too spooky for the faint of heart (like me) – even reading with only light enough to see the page wasn’t too anxiety-inducing. Barry found the perfect blend of fantasy, mystery, fact and fiction – and she left just enough questions at the end of the novel to keep readers guessing (in a satisfied way) long after the last page is devoured.

The Fifth Petal is everything I ever wanted in a mystery, and I can’t wait to read Barry’s other novels – they are sure to be just as amazing as this one was.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Beauty Begins by Chris Shook & Megan Shook Alpha

Beauty Begins focuses on women, with a strong emphasis on inner beauty and the Bible. Each chapter ends with reflection questions and a prayer. Even with two authors, the writing flowed smoothly. I loved that the last chapter was written by Kerry Shook and Jordan Alpha (husbands to Chris and Megan) – it was good to get the men’s perspective as well.

Beauty is about more than what is on the outside, as we see in Beauty Begins.

More Than Looks:

Shook and Alpha didn’t just focus on beauty – since the book was about inner beauty they also talked about relationships, culture, fashion, and more. I particularly loved a section that talked about teaching your children: “Far from being disqualified, you are actually in a great position to talk to your kids if you have made the same mistake in the past” Pg. 66. Although I’m not a parent, I saw in that quote wisdom that can apply to friendships, too.

Since there were many great quotes throughout Beauty Begins, I cannot only use one. Pg. 68 says, “You impress people when you talk about your strengths, but you influence people when you admit your struggles.” That gem reveals so much. We read throughout the book that focusing on outer beauty keeps us focused on things other than God – this shows us that inner beauty allows us to be vulnerable and genuine. We are learning to show our true beauty.

Just Let Go:

On pages 79 & 80, Chris wrote a story about her son on the monkey bars talking about how he was scared to let go for fear she would not catch him. She caught him, but he only let go when he could not hang on any longer. Her story is reminiscent of us with God. He is always there to catch us, but we resist letting go, preferring to hold on until we cannot hold on any longer. Beauty Begins has a major focus on trusting God.

Recommendation:

Since I cannot spend this whole review quoting Shook and Alpha, let me leave you with this recommendation and a final quote. I loved reading how Megan talks with God, and so will include it as the final quote: “Sometimes I even buckle the passenger seat belt to acknowledge His [God’s] presence, and then I just talk” Pg. 91. If you want to trust God with your inner beauty and rely on Him, this is a good book to read. It’s not a “how-to” book, but rather a kind of guide to point you in the right direction.

Good luck on your journey!

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Anxiety: The Symptoms Return

Do you ever feel like a failure for taking yourself off medications that you “don’t need anymore” only to end up right back on them?

That happened to me recently. I took myself off my anxiety medication a few months back. When the anxiety got so bad I could barely leave the house, that’s when I couldn’t lie to myself about the necessity of it anymore.

My anxiety symptoms seemed better, so I took myself off medications. Then they came back.

Return of Anxiety Symptoms:

I started blurting out random words and phrases to cut off the chatter in my head. Blasting music through earbuds to help me ignore all of the people talking to me. There are sounds that make no sense that just spill from my lips, sounds that derail the train going round and round in my brain. I hide in dark rooms crouched in corners, trying to keep the panic from finding me. It always does.

When I could no longer fake normal, that is when I realized that the dreaded anxiety medications really were necessary. Lying awake for hours, reviewing every conversation in my head for mistakes – that’s when I knew that I’m not okay. I still pretend. Three times a day is really annoying for taking medications … so I miss doses. It’s foolish, you don’t have to say it. I’m already telling myself that. Even as I’m hiding from everyone who cares for fear of being annoying, I’m pretending that the anxiety isn’t an issue.

Wait, what?

Didn’t we just have this conversation?

It never ends, you see.

We – me, myself, and I – always have this conversation. The anxiety gets unbearable, and keeps us locked inside our mind. Then we go back on the medications so we can leave the house again without panicking when someone walks by. When the medication does its job and we feel better, we stop taking it. It isn’t necessary anymore! That is the lie that we keep repeating, wishing it were true and trying desperately to believe it.

Sometimes I do believe it. Until the medication is out of my system, anyways. So for now, I’m back on anxiety medication. We will see how long it lasts this time.

Changing Together and Finding Ourselves

At the end of January 2017, my husband and I were married for a year and six months. It wasn’t until those last six months, though, that we started finding ourselves together – as a married couple.

Leaving home doesn't mean that you drop everything you were taught - but sometimes it's better that we branch out and do our own thing. These are some things my husband and I have changed together.

The first year of marriage, everything was different. New town (for me), new people (also for me), new home (for both of us) and of course new lifestyle – neither of us has ever been married before, or lived with a partner before. That first year was a lot of adjustment. Even though we both felt that our marriage seemed to come naturally – it didn’t really seem strange to live together, or wake up in the same bed; it seemed right – we were still learning how to live together. So during that time, we primarily did what our parents did when we were growing up – shopping in a similar way, spending the way our parents did, doing the things we had watched our parents doing.

After Time Away:

A year and a half later couldn’t be more different from how we started. These past six months we have found our own routines and preferences, things neither of our parents did (or that we are aware of them ever doing).

  • We buy “fancy” cheese (a few we have tried include “blueberry vanilla goat cheese” – a favorite, “rosemary and olive oil asiago cheese” and “balsam and fig goat cheese” – yum) a few times a month at the grocery store, and eat it on mini toasts – a fun semi-healthy snack that allows us to try many new flavors.

 

  • Also, we go to a “cultural” restaurant once a month. For us that means choosing a restaurant outside of our culture/experiences/and sometimes our comfort zone to try other foods. We tried a Thai restaurant due to starting this practice, and LOVE it! Hopefully we will be trying an Indian restaurant soon.
Different Spending Patterns:
  • Shopping for clothes once a month, regardless of whether we need clothes, helps our budget. There is a price limit that we can spend per person a month. It does NOT roll over to the next month. Growing up, we outgrew or wore out our clothes close to the same time. Then we had to go buy new clothes all at once. With our method, we always have clothes that are in good shape/fit us and can spread out the clothes buying. It’s also kind of fun, and if we are particularly broke one month, it wouldn’t be a big deal to simply not buy new clothes that month.

 

  • We have budget meetings where we sit down and discuss our spending and financial situation together once a month. Sometimes we miss a month when it is particularly busy, but then the next budget meeting we do the month we missed as well.
Branching Out with Dinners:
  • We don’t necessarily eat the same dinner every night (or even most nights). When my husband lived at home, he ate whatever his mom fixed for dinner. When I lived at home, I usually fixed dinner and could choose what I wanted to fix within reason. Everyone ate it and would complain if a certain meal was featured too often.

The first year of marriage especially, I made dinner nearly every night (or we had leftovers, but those were usually lunch, not dinner) and we ate the same things. A year and six months later, I usually prepare dinner about once a week (except for special occasions). I cook a big casserole/pot/whatever and we enjoy those leftovers when desired. Other than that, we “fend for ourselves”.

If I’m preparing something I offer to fix him some of what I’m having, but if he isn’t interested he makes himself a sandwich, a bowl of tuna salad (we eat just the filling with no bread), has cereal, or eats a leftover out of the refrigerator. Usually I make myself a salad, since salad is my favorite food. We keep fresh broccoli, tomatoes, bell pepper, and lettuce/spinach in the refrigerator for these salads. When I cut up the produce, I slice the broccoli stems (he doesn’t mind them), a few pieces of the broccoli head, and some bell pepper and bag it for him to snack on later.

 

  • Many of our meals are meatless, which kind of goes along with the point above. This is not because we do not enjoy meat, but because meatless meals are much more affordable. We both come from families where meat is featured in virtually every dinner.
Loving Where We are Headed Together:

These are some of the ways that we have differed in our marriage than from either of our parent’s marriages. I’m interested to see where we are six months or a year from now; if we have kept these practices or established new ones. These practices are fun, but spending ones can also easily be dropped for a month or so if money is tight. They are especially meaningful to me, however, because they make us more unique as a couple. We are not “following our parent’s footsteps” – we are striking out on a different path and finding our own place together.

 

How has your lifestyle changed if you are living on your own or together with a partner?

 

Lola – Melissa Scrivner Love

Failing to see who the true leader of the small gang, The Crenshaw Six is could be a huge problem for the Mexican cartel. She lives in the shadows, with everyone misjudging her as harmless – but Lola should not be underestimated. There are huge decisions to make, sides to choose, and punishments to deal out.

It's a man's world - but in this thriller, some women should not be underestimated. Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love

Lola really brought to light how invisible women can be. A great example was on pg. 53 “She doesn’t fear Lola, because in Mila’s mind, they are equals. Women in a man’s world.”

Positives & Negatives on Details:

A fast paced and interesting read, some parts were pretty intense and had me wanting to throw the book. Lola was a well-developed character, and I liked reading Lola narrating her own tale. In some parts I appreciated the glossed-over description, where what could have been quite gruesome wasn’t too bad to read at all – but in other parts I wished for more details.

I also wished to read more of how the story ended. There were a few parts that felt a little unfinished. That aside, it was nice to read a tale from the wrong side of the tracks, to see the world how Lola sees it. To see that not everything is black and white, not everyone is all good or all evil – and sometimes those who appear good really aren’t good at all.

Recommendation:

Lola was a very good read, although I would not call it a thriller. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to see the world from another perspective. The narrator grew up in a bad area, the victim of bad parenting who decided to make something of herself – not good, but not “all evil”, either.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Greek Yogurt Avocado Tuna Salad

Last year my husband and I went breadless with our tuna salad, and ate it from a bowl with less mayonnaise than our previous version. This year, I learned there are ways to make tuna salad even healthier – while it tastes better!

A fresh tasting, delicious alternative to traditional tuna salad.

In all honesty, I was very nervous about this tuna salad. Avocado has never been one of my favorite things – or even something I usually eat. We happened to have some that I had forgotten when making homemade sushi, though, so into the mix it went. It made me feel much braver when my housemate tried it and said it tasted “super fresh”. I tried a little bit at that point – it really did taste fresh! This is my new go-to tuna salad recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cans tuna in water, drained
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 large cucumber, diced
  • 1 small handful dried cranberries
  • 1 stalk green onion, diced
seasonings to taste:
  • salt & pepper
  • dill weed
  • garlic powder
  • Creole seasoning
  • celery seed
  • hot sauce (optional, lemon juice would also be good without spice)
Directions for Yummy Tuna Salad:

Drain the tuna, mash the avocado, dice the cucumber and green onion, and mix all of the ingredients (together with your preferred seasonings) together in a small bowl. I used a cereal bowl and it was the perfect size.

You can eat it directly from the bowl, or (if you are not ready to go breadless) this is delicious on toasted whole grain English muffins with a little bit of butter. Don’t force yourself to avoid your favorite things so much that you end up bingeing – permanent change comes from moderation, not avoidance.

Servings:
  • In a bowl, this makes about 1-2 servings. 
  • On English muffins, this makes about 4-6 servings. 

P.S. Before trying this tuna salad, I thought avocado wasn’t really my thing – I’ve definitely changed my mind since, and am now looking to try it in other things. Maybe homemade mayonnaise would be a good candidate to experiment with! We’ll see.

Greek yogurt avocado tuna salad on a toasted English muffin.
If you try the recipe, let me know what you think!

 

Wall Hanging Earring Holder

When my husband and I moved away from our first home (and first city) as a married couple, our family came and helped us pack a truck to make the 7 hr drive to our temporary home (my husband’s parent’s house). Although we all remember packing my earring holder (it had nearly been forgotten, so it stands out in our memories) somehow it vanished at the temporary residence. Although I have searched frequently for it, the earring holder has not yet turned up.

Confession time: sometimes, instead of digging through my jewelry box to find earrings, I go without. It's simply less hassle! I love this wall hanging earring holder because it looks nice, and I can see (and get to!) all of my earrings with very little effort.

Since there were originally two earring holders given to my parents years ago, I was able to consult the one remaining earring holder (my mom’s) to decide how to create a new one.

Material/Equipment List for Entire Project:

*Note* the materials/equipment is also broken down in each section, this is just a cumulative list of everything used in the project. 

Materials (and prices I paid):

  • dowel rod, 24″ long or 2- 12″ dowel rods (given to me free)
    • can be bigger/smaller depending on desired size of project
  • 4 decorative ends (Cost Plus World Market, .50c a piece)
    • (type depends on whether using drilling method or not – I used “drilling method” and cabinet knobs. See method for notes on possible ends)
  • 36″ x 84″ vinyl porch screen replacement kit (cheapest option) (Home Depot, $10 – estimated cost per one earring holder, .72c)
  • bow wire or twine (Wal-Mart, $1.50)

ESTIMATED COST FOR ONE EARRING HOLDER: $4.22 

Equipment:

*NOTE* I did not purchase anything in this section for this project, and as most are common household items I did not count them towards the price. 

  • ruler
  • pencil
  • hand saw
  • drill (or glue, if not using drilling method)
  • two drill bits (for pilot hole, skip if not using drilling method)
  • scissors, for cutting vinyl
  • chalk marker (easiest to wash off)
  • 3″ upholstery needle (or other needle with large eye)
  • thumb tack or small nail 
Some assembled supplies for the earring holder.
A few assembled supplies.

There is a method that involves a small amount of simple wood work, and a method that does not need wood work (other than cutting the dowel rod to size). My dad helped me, and we did the drilling method.

Sawing Only, No Drilling Method:
*NOTE* If using cabinet knobs, skip to “drilling method”.

Materials/Equipment used in this section:

  • ruler or tape measure
  • pencil (to mark where to cut)
  • hand saw
  • 24″ dowel rod (longer/shorter is fine, just change other sizes to match)
  • 4 decorative ends (can be homemade or maybe curtain rod ends)

The dowel rod still needs to be cut to have two pieces the desired length (mine were both cut to 12″ long), but this is easily done with a hand saw and takes only a short time. Since I started with a long dowel rod, when it was cut I had an extra piece. You can save the extra for another project, but it isn’t necessary here. Measure the length you want with the ruler, mark it, and use the hand saw to cut it at the mark.

In this method, you would use an end piece on the dowel rod that fits snuggly over without needing holes drilled. I’m not sure precisely what to use as we did not do this method, but you could get really creative with it – if you like to work with clay, you could even shape ends to fit over the dowel rod and glue them on. My dad suggested that decorative ends designed for curtain rods may work as well. DO NOT GLUE ANYTHING YET! (If you do glue at this point, it will make the remaining project more difficult but not impossible).

Drilling Method:

Materials/Equipment used in this section:

  • ruler or tape measure
  • pencil (to mark where to cut)
  • hand saw
  • 24″ dowel rod (longer/shorter is fine, just change other sizes to match)
  • 4 decorative cabinet knobs
  • drill
  • 2 drill bits, one small and one size of screw on knob
Cabinet knob used as decorative end
Here is one of the cabinet knobs I used. The screw is part of the knob.

Don’t let the fact that there is drilling involved keep you from this project! Wood tools make me very nervous so I asked my dad for his help, but he said it was easy and he was able to finish while we talked. It took him less than 10 minutes to saw the rod to the right lengths and drill all four holes.

Prep The Dowel Rod:

Cutting the rod is simple. You need two pieces of rod the same length. Since I started with a long dowel rod, when it was cut I had an extra piece. You can save the extra for another project, but it isn’t necessary here. Measure the length you want with the ruler, mark it, and use the hand saw to cut it at the mark.

For the decorative ends on my dowel rods, I used cabinet knobs that were designed to look like sunflowers. Since they were made for cabinet doors, they had a screw attached – hence the drilling into the rods. The knobs came with nuts attached, but since they were unnecessary for the project my dad saved them for any project that might come up later.

Time To Drill:

We made a pilot hole to keep the dowel rod from cracking. Starting with the smallest drill bit, find the center of the dowel rod end and slowly drill a hole. It’s best to go slow and start with a very small drill bit. After the hole is drilled, take a larger drill bit (drill bit size will depend on the size of the screw attached to your knob) and drill it into the hole just created with the smallest drill bit. This widens the hole enough to insert the screw.

Although you could attempt to skip the small drill bit and only use the large, this increases the risk of damaging the rod. In the end, there should be four holes – one on either end of each of the two dowel rods. You should be able to screw the knobs into these holes, with them fitting snugly enough that no glue is necessary. Even if you wish to glue the knobs, wait until the end. DO NOT GLUE AT THIS POINT. It will make the rest of the project more difficult (but not impossible).

Knob being screwed into rod.
Visual of knob being screwed into dowel rod.
A Bit of Cutting & Stitching:

Materials used in this section:

  • 36″ x 84″ vinyl screen replacement kit
  • ruler
  • chalk marker
  • scissors
  • bow wire
  • 3″ upholstery needle (necessary for larger eye)
Cutting:
Vinyl Porch Screen Replacement Kit for earring holder
Vinyl Screening – Dimensions are 36″ x 84″

Now for the easy part! This part takes more patience, but it’s a easier to correct any errors here … cutting & stitching! The vinyl has to be cut to the appropriate size, since it was designed for a porch. If you don’t mind having a few scraps of vinyl afterwards, it is easier to cut off a bigger than necessary portion of vinyl so you have a smaller piece to work with. If scraps aren’t desirable, just measure the vinyl to fit while it is still attached to the roll.

It would have been preferable to have a longer piece of screen for my final project, but cutting mistakes made my project slightly smaller. If you want to prepare for potential errors (such as cutting crookedly), then you can cut your project slightly bigger than desired in order to leave room for trimming. Also keep in mind that both ends of the screen will be rolled over in the finished project, making it shorter. I recommend planning for a longer project than intended, and using the ruler and chalk marker to mark where to cut. You can easily wipe the chalk marker off of the screen with a damp cloth afterwards.

The dimensions for my cut screen were: 12″ x  18″.

Stitching:

When the screen is cut, it’s time to move to stitching. Bow wire proved quite difficult to thread into the needle, but I thought the finished product was worth the extra effort. That is entirely up to you.

Finished stitches using bow wire.
Finished stitches using bow wire.

Using the longer portion (18″) of the screen as the sides of the project, fold over the bottom (12″) of the screen one and a quarter inches. Use a ruler and draw a line with the chalk marker to indicate where the fold should stop to guide you as you stitch. You want the dowel rod to slide in and out easily, but not be too tight or too loose. Knot the end of the wire, and with the threaded needle start your stitches three squares down and three squares in from the cut end of the vinyl. (You will be using the third square.) Try to keep your knot on the same side as the folded over vinyl (the back side). If a square happens to be broken or break at some point, starting at this point will make sure your knot stays secure in spite of it.

Stitch and Knot:

To make the stitching go faster (but still look nice), I put the wire through the first hole, skipped two holes, and then put the wire back through the third hole (not counting the first hole). Continue in this pattern until you get close to the end of the vinyl, and end your stitches at least one hole (preferably two) from the end. (How many holes from the end depends on the dimensions of your vinyl.) Knot the end of your wire (try to keep the knot on the back side) and cut off the excess. You should have a kind of long, thin pocket for the dowel rod.

Making sure the vinyl is folded over on the same (back) side of the earring holder, repeat the stitching process above for the opposite end of the vinyl.

Earring Holder Assembly Time:

Materials used in this section:

  • extra bow wire
  • stitched 12″ x 18″ vinyl screening
  • 2- 12″ dowel rods
  • 4 decorative cabinet knobs
  • glue (optional, I did not use glue)
  • thumb tack or small nail

Home stretch! This post was extra long, but that was because I wanted to make sure everything was clearly explained. This part is a breeze!

Choose which end you want to be the bottom, and slide a dowel rod through the fold. Attach decorative ends. If you don’t glue them on (whether or not glue is necessary depends on the ends you use) then you can take the dowel rods off later and paint them. I left mine the original color and prefer it that way, but it is nice to be able to change the color whenever you want.

Sunflower design on cabinet knob.
Design on decorative knob. Aren’t sunflowers beautiful?!

Slide the second dowel rod through the other fold. Since I used knobs that screw into the rod, I was able to hide the knots where I tied the hanger between the knobs and the rod. To do that, screw the knob partially into the rod. Tie the desired length of wire in a loose knot around the end of the rod, and then carefully slip it off onto the screw to finish the knot. I kept mine loose (not tight on the screw at all) so it would be easy to disassemble if I ever wanted to change the knobs or paint the rods. Do the same thing on the other end with the other knob.

If you chose the “no drill” method, you can simply leave the knot visible on the rod, or make it a bow on either end. I debated with tassels where each knot would be – have fun with it!

Enjoy Your Crafty Skills:

Hang your new earring holder on the wall, and enjoy your hard work by slipping some earrings on it! You put the post or wire of the earring through the front, and with your hand behind the holder you can slip the back on the earring on the other side to keep it in place.

Wall Hanging Earring Holder

Hope you love your earring holder as much as I love mine!

Self-Harm: I Don’t Want to Recover

It isn’t fair. Everyone has an addiction, everyone has something that they use to take the pain away. Just because I wear the evidence of my (self-harm) addiction on my skin, I cannot be allowed to continue?

The doctors and nurses at the hospital say themselves that it’s “just a scratch”. The psychiatrists say it “isn’t serious”. If my cuts are “just scratches”, why does it matter if I continue to cut myself? If the problem “isn’t serious”, why am I baker acted when someone discovers the marks?

I do not encourage or support self-harm, but I DO believe that I should be allowed to express myself in the way I see fit. Please stop overreacting to a "problem" that isn't like society thinks it is.

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Non-suicidal self-injury does exist. There are people who cut (or otherwise injure) themselves and do not have a suicidal intent. Personally, I stopped cutting over a year ago – but I still want to cut. I only stopped because my now-husband put his foot down (so to speak). Even though I want to cut, I do not want to die. I have no plan to commit suicide, no intention of committing suicide. I simply wish to express the inner turmoil consuming me on my skin.

Why is this an issue?

People are addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, the list goes on. Some people are addicted to tattoos, but their self-expression is more acceptable than mine? You can see both on our skin. Drugs and alcohol can harm you from the inside out. Shopping too much can be devastating on mental health (debt, anyone?), and having too much sex garners you a unfavorable impression with the people who know you (and maybe an STD).

All of these are common addictions. Working too much can also be an addiction, but the only people who you hear complaining are the families of these work addicts (who don’t get to see their loved one). These addictions can all take both a physical and a mental toll (tattoos probably the least so). How is cutting any different? I don’t cut deep enough to do serious damage – just enough to feel the release.

Self-Harm: Not Guaranteed Safe

Self-harm is just another form of the addiction to release that we all have. When we get stressed out or keyed up, we want to “take a load off” – we just do so differently. I’m not claiming self-injury is safe – but neither is drinking too much alcohol, or driving a car for that matter! We all know that neither of those activities is guaranteed safe, and yet they are both completely acceptable behaviors. Of course they both have restrictions – if you drink too much and act in an unacceptable way, you might get kicked out or face some kind of legal trouble (depending on what you do), and if you drive in dangerous way then you could lose your license, get in an accident, or even lose your life. What I’m saying is that we as a society need to take a second glance at the things that we label “dangerous” or consider problem behaviors.

I Advocate for the Choice to Express Myself

I do not advocate for anyone to self-harm – I DO advocate for myself to be given the choice to express myself in the non-suicidal way I see fit. When I self-harm, no one (including myself) is in any danger. Society needs to step up to the plate and STOP overreacting to ‘problems’ that aren’t actually problems.

Besides, in the worst (read: unlikely) case scenario, I cut too deep and die. That’s one less burden on you, society. That’s how you refer to people like me, anyways. Is it different if I actually die? Kind of like people attending the funeral of someone they hated in life. You’ve got to keep up appearances.

Sometimes the outcry that people like me are a burden on society that should be dealt with are the reason I want to cut. People help contribute to a problem, then panic when they see the results of their contribution.

You contributed to my vices, society. Now leave me to them.

 

Disclaimer: I do not support or encourage self-harm in any form. Once you start it is hard to stop, and strangers judge you by the scars on your skin. Our society has not reached a place where they can accept behavior that is unusual but not dangerous. The purpose of this post was simply to express my frustration with society and its unwillingness to accept me as I am.

Basics for Reheating Leftovers

After a recent post on why leftovers are wonderful, I was considering reasons people may not like leftovers. It occurred to me that if leftovers are not reheated properly, that could cause them to not be very good. Thus, I plan to do an overview of how to reheat different types of foods, based on the successes my husband and I have had with these methods.

Leftovers can be a delicious way to reduce stress (not having to cook dinner!) but only if you reheat them well.

Reheating Leftovers:

There are different techniques for reheating different types of foods, but here I focused on the basics of microwaving to get great results:

Soups/Stews/Chowders
  • Usually can be reheated as is using the microwave, or in a small saucepan on the stovetop. If you choose to reheat on the stovetop you may need to add a little water, milk, or broth (depending on the base). Keep in mind that even though leftovers like these tend to thicken up when they are refrigerated for storing, they get thinner again as they are heated. Adding too much liquid for heating or heating too quickly could make these leftovers less desirable. Start with a small amount of liquid if necessary, and heat over low heat.
Breads/Baked Goods
  • Most of these leftovers that have only been sitting for a day will be fine gently microwaved for about 15 seconds (depending on size). Keep in mind that this option will NOT crisp up anything that was originally crispy. For those, you would want to use a toaster, a toaster oven, a Nuwave style oven, or your home oven. If the leftover has been sitting long enough to be dry, then cover or wrap it in a damp (not dripping!) paper towel before microwaving. Do not use the paper towel method with any heat source other than the microwave. Keep in mind that breads and baked goods tend to have some of the shortest shelf-lives as “good” leftovers.
Pasta/Rice/Grain Dishes 
  • Much like the aforementioned soup leftovers, you may want to add a small amount of liquid to these leftovers when you reheat them. The liquid (usually milk, broth, or water) depends on the base of the dish. For instance, macaroni and cheese is better if you stir in a small amount of milk before microwaving. It is even more important to use small amounts of added liquid with these dishes, because most people don’t want watery pasta. If you do happen to mistakenly add too much liquid, you can carefully dab it off with a paper towel or drain it off.
Meat Based Leftovers 
  • Leftovers that are mainly meat also reheat better with a little bit of liquid (usually water) added before microwaving. You can also try using a microwave cover* over the dish to help keep moisture safely in or cover with a damp paper towel (as seen for breads). A little bit of gravy if it was originally on the meat could also help keep it moist as it is reheated.
Cooked Vegetables 
  • Added liquid being beneficial to leftover vegetables usually depends on how they were cooked, and if they are straight vegetables or a vegetable based dish. Straight vegetables are usually okay microwaved without any added liquid. For a vegetable based dish, it would be better to see which category above it most closely follows. Then adhere to those general guidelines.

With all of these, experiment (safely) and do what works best for you. There is often more than one way to accomplish the same goal (I.E. reheat leftovers).

 

*NOTE*  Microwave covers are specially designed with steam holes AND are microwave safe. Please be careful what you use as a cover. They are generally used to prevent splatter in your microwave.

P.S. Leftovers might not be good after reheating if the person who made the leftovers needs a little more practice. This should be easy to figure out if the meal wasn’t very good before saving. Don’t be afraid to go to tutorial videos or food blogs for help. Practice is essential as well.