Sunday, January 31, 2010


It started on January 9th. I found a blog called 6 Changes, in which the author outlines a plan to enable people to be successful at New Year's Resolutions. The author proposes focusing on one new habit for two months. After practicing for two months that habit should be internalized fairly well, and you can move on to the next habit. Following this timeline a person will be able to start six new habits in a calendar year. I decided my first habit was daily exercise (no matter how small), in order to achieve better overall fitness. I'm not trying to run a marathon, or lift a certain amount of weight. I just want to feel fit and healthy.

I have exercised 17 days out of the last 23 days. That's a 74% success rate. I'd like to get that up to 84%. That's a realistic goal, right? My original goal was 100%. But going from 0% to 100% all at once is a bit much to ask. Especially when I work long hours at a stressful full-time job. The only way I can get in some exercise is if I do it in the morning before work. By the time I've come home from work I'm just too beat, physically and mentally.The days I have skipped exercise have been those where I've woken up too late, or didn't feel well enough to exercise.

Some days I take a 10 minute walk around my apartment complex. It's hilly, and allows me to feel like I've done some work while I check out my surroundings. Some mornings I go down to the fitness center and walk on a treadmill, or try out the elliptical machine. Some mornings I even use the weight machines a bit. What makes this work for me, at least at this point, is that the only requirement I have for myself is that I get out the door. If I feel like going for a walk, I go for a walk. If I feel like lifting weights, I lift weights. If I feel, as I did yesterday and today, like pushing myself to walk for twice as long on the treadmill (40 minutes instead of 20 minutes), then that's what I do.

At some point I'm sure I'll add in other types of exercise to my fitness routine to keep myself motivated and challenged. But for now I'll just keep walking out the door.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

kitty love

Proof that my cats like each other, at least when there's a good napping spot to be shared.*

This picture is my new desktop background at work. It has brightened my days this week, as my students have been especially challenging.

*Since the chair is normally slanted, and this picture was taken from directly above, it looks like the kitties are roughly the same size. Anyone who has met them will tell you that while Rosie (black & white) is an average-size kitty, he looks huge next to Tiger (orange), who is only 7lbs. It's amazing how perspective alters what you see.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

baking a Challah braid

A good friend of mine bakes the most amazing bread, and she uses a bread stone. I love eating bread, and have tried making it in the past with mixed success. So over the winter break, when I had time on my hands, I decided to buy a bread stone. I bought a round one, so I could use it for pizza as well. Today I used it for the first time while making a Challah braid.

Challah bread is just a rich egg bread that is braided before the second rise. It has a soft texture, golden crust and is slightly sweet. It also happens to be the first bread I successfully baked. I'll eventually branch out to different types of bread, but for now it's nice to stay in familiar territory.

Today I seasoned my bread stone, slowly (and I mean, slowly) brought my oven up to 375 with the stone already inside, and shaped the dough. I like to use my bread machine's dough cycle to do the hard work. Once it's ready to come out of the bread machine, I only have to shape it and let it sit for the second rise. Then it's ready to bake.

The only challenge thus far is how to transfer the bread from its rising surface onto the bread stone. I managed to do it without any damage to the loaf's shape, but it was a long and stressful process. I'll have to ask my friend for her secret.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

a new card game

Have you ever heard of Quiddler?

My in-laws gave us the game for Christmas and we just opened it yesterday. It's a short card game that reminds me of Scrabble. The point is to make one or more words out of the cards in your hand. Once you can use all of your cards to make words, you go out, and hopefully your letter points are more than your opponent's. You can't build on other words like Scrabble, because you hold all your cards until someone is ready to go out, and then everyone puts all of their cards on the table. There are a few combo cards, like TH, IN, QU and CL (Joe and I are pretty confused about the CL card. I mean, wouldn't LY make more sense?).

There are eight rounds to a game. In the first round, everyone gets three cards. For each additional round you add one card, so by round eight you have ten cards in your hand. We started playing yesterday evening, but ran out of time to finish (I go to bed early during the week so I can fit in some exercise in the morning before work). We decided that instead of keeping track of scores for each round, we'd just remember who won each round (so, electoral votes instead of popular votes). As you can see in the first photo, we used M&Ms to keep score. The red ones are Joe's, and the green ones are mine.

The pictures on each card are inspired by images from the Book of Kells and other manuscripts from that time period. It's a beautiful deck.

We also have SET, but we don't play that one as much. I think Quiddler is vying for my favorite card game. Watch out Canasta!

Monday, January 18, 2010

the Barr-Hertels

This past Saturday I attended the wedding of two college friends, Everett and Alyssa. They were married in a huge, beautiful Catholic church in Vancouver, WA.

We all lived in the same residence hall at PLU. My husband and I started dating in college. Everett and Alyssa started dating after college. Two other couples we know and love met while at PLU and are now married. I am noticing a trend.

It was a large wedding by my standards (we had maybe 30 people at our handfasting), and there were an abundance of PLU-people, including at least one professor. There were also an abundance of fancy desserts.

I like how the one in front looks like it's wearing a wizard hat.

But anyway, I digress...

Aren't Everett and Alyssa a beautiful couple?

In contrast, here is a fairly typical picture of myself and my husband:

He likes to make funny faces without telling me.

That is one of the many reasons why I love him.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Open for Business

Bethanthemum's Etsy shop has re-opened for 2010!

I have big plans for 2010, so check back for new listings. In the meantime there are quilted fabric coasters in sets of four to protect your furniture from all those mugs of coffee, tea, hot cider and hot cocoa you'll enjoy this winter.

January Sunshine

As last winter was a cold, harsh and excessively snowy winter by Pacific Northwest standards, this winter is it's somewhat strange cousin. In the latter part of 2009 we experienced an arctic cold-snap that had me practically worshiping the moisture-wicking layers I purchased at REI the winter before (with the hopes of "going to the snow", forgetting that the snow was at my doorstep). During a single week we went from highs in the upper 40's to barely reaching 32 degrees, if at all.

Fortunately for my husband and me, that cold-snap disappeared just in time for our move. We've been back to more normal Seattle winter weather since then, filled with overcast days, drizzling rain, and temperatures reaching the high 40's.

But today the sun decided to show its warmth, and my kitties are thoroughly enjoying themselves.