chocolate + paper + scissors


Old-fashioned things, technology and simplicity

I’m a bit of a reluctant-to-conform-type-of-girl when it comes to some modern things, specifically very connected cell phones and my (dwindling) relationship with Facebook. (I’ll tackle Facebook another day. Or, maybe not.)

I have an old cell phone. It doesn’t have Internet. I can’t use it to check my e-mail. I can use it when I need it, however – but I don't feel overly connected to the world. I can still be in the moment with my family or friends – and get a call if I absolutely need to. It works for me and my life. It represents much more to me than just a phone. It represents a simplicity that I long to maintain in this busy life.

People often tease me about my outdated phone, with comments such as, “No WONDER it takes you so long to text!” and, “Is that a toy phone for your child?” With pink cheeks, I usually smile and throw my phone back into my bag and say something like, “It does the job.” Like my car, my philosophy with my phone is that I’m going to use it until it can be used no more.

I recently had to confront my modern cell phone non-conformism when a client (while explaining an example regarding her company's business processes) asked, “Do you have a Smartphone or an iPhone?” I, thinking I could coast pass this one without admitting I had neither, said, “Yes.” (Any cell phone is a little smart, right?) So, when she asked, “Which one?," I was cornered and had to come clean. I quickly replied, “ mean me? Oh, neither.” (Lol.)

And so, this week, sadly, my cell phone died after drowning in a minute pool of water. This makes me sad for two reasons: one, I like my old, tiny, must-scroll-through-the-letters-to-text phone. It’s tiny. I can drop it on the ground (or my son can spike it on the ground while having a tantrum in the grocery cart), and it survives. My daughter can decorate it with princess stickers. It's become part of the family.

Secondly, losing a phone means I must buy a new one. And buying technology is at the top of my list of un-favorite things to do. (Enter my husband who is my personal shopper – who loves researching products and comparison shopping more than life itself. I think he’s excited about this new project. Bless him!)

Another simple thing that I paper. Paper makes my life easier. Paper was my first true love, and now, in addition to multiple spiral notebooks, I have a trusty, large, spiral calendar that I love so much! I can decorate her with stickers, use different color ink, carry her in my large purse, write notes about my day…I love her. And yet, I still get teased when I proudly bring her to meetings, and everyone else brings their tiny, shiny technological calendars, combined with a phone and address book.

Technology is wonderful and amazing - no doubt, as long as it keeps things simple. I adore my laptop. My digital camera has become an extra limb. And I would be lost without the blogosphere and the lovely, cozy, knowledge-packed realm of podcasting that streams into my ears via my precious, tiny, magenta iPod Shuffle. All of these things make me very happy. They bring the outside world in – and educate and inspire me daily.

Technology is doing its job when we feel more relaxed in its presence. But technology's not doing its job if it steals us away from a beautiful moment or makes us resent our responsibilities. It should allow us to have more time for the things that matter most...and it should make our lives better.

What is your favorite piece of technology that makes your life easier? I'd love to hear from you.


Getting back on track with good food.

This week, I’d like to share a few things for which I am grateful:

1. Our kitchen renovation is finished! (Photos coming soon!)
2. I’m more caught up on my rest. (The power of good sleep is amazing.)
3. Order is beginning to reign again in our house, including the kitchen and my workspace.
4. Healthy and relaxing meals are returning to our table.
5. Our heavenly aromatic jasmine is blooming in our backyard (which we thought we lost after the crazy Texas freezes).
6. Our roses are in full bloom, which have been gracing us with their presence in bud vases all around our home.
7. Colds and ear infections are gone!
8. My new favorite show comes on tonight. Yippee!
9. Classical music. Norwegian trumpeters rock!
10. I’m sitting here writing this.

In honor of an informal celebration of rest, comfort and home, I have the perfect recipe that my family has recently loved: Wayne’s Beef Macaroni and Cheese.

You may be thinking that this Paula recipe doesn’t sound too heart healthy (as many of Paula’s recipes are not), but this is actually a delightfully balanced meal. It’s the perfect combination of beef, tomato sauce, macaroni, grated cheese and vegetables. Pair it with some extra veggies or salad on the side, and/or some fresh fruit, and it’s a lovely family dinner.

My only modification: add one zucchini and substitute one red bell pepper for one of the green bell peppers. If you’d like to cut out some of the animal protein, I bet that mixing together 16 ounces of kidney beans with one pound of ground beef would be nice, too. (I’ll have to try that next time!)

I hope you enjoy…and that this recipe becomes part of your family favorites. Looking forward to sharing more!


Taking care (vs. taking care of business)

Last Friday afternoon, while reading our daughter The Tale of Peter Rabbit, I fell asleep. In broad daylight, on our bench in our backyard, I completely nodded off.

I was awakened by a soft “Mommy,” which then graduated to “Mommy!! Wake up!”

In a sleepy haze, all I could think was, if only I could take a short nap...I just need 10 minutes.

And, to my surprise, our intuitive and compassionate little girl said, “Mommy, you lay down. I’ll be right back.” And before I knew it, I was being taken care of – something that hasn’t happened in a very long time. She knew exactly what I needed. I was deeply touched – almost to tears. I will never forget her gesture of making the coziest of beds for me on our bench – complete with a cushion for my ankles that hung over the armrest of the bench.

Through the lovely spring weather, the multiple hats I wear on a daily basis all came falling down. Mothering, cooking, cleaning, volunteering, freelancing, holiday preparing: my battery is (still) very near empty. I’m trying my best to recharge myself, but it hasn't happened yet. This week, very minor tasks have seemed like major projects, which means I’m ordering myself to bed extra early until I feel better again. I'm not under the weather (for which I'm so thankful), but I feel that as women, extending ourselves too much for too long is almost as damaging as getting sick. Recovery (good ol' "R and R" - rest and relaxation, as my mom calls it), therefore, is still necessary.

In case this post finds you in the same state, don’t forget to take care of yourself: get good sleep, good nutrition, a small bit of exercise, and do something for yourself this week, like giving yourself some sacred space. And, if a task comes your way that you don’t feel you can handle, just say no. When you say no to others, you say yes to your family - and yes to yourself.

…And if a special someone demands that you be taken care of, accept it and enjoy!