Thursday, June 26, 2014

We're All Too Far Apart.

I think one of the worst parts of growing up is when you and your siblings move out of the same house and take up residence apart. Especially if you were homeschooled and are used to spending 75% of your time in the same building.

Yesterday my brother and sister took off for the east coast, where my brother is taking a job at a prestigious university. My sister is just going along to help him settle in, and then she'll be back... until the fall, when it's back to her out of state college. WAH.

Then on the other side of the family, my brother-in-law is marrying an absolutely lovely young lady - who lives down by the Gulf of Mexico. Understandably she wishes to remain close to her family (which obviously I support) but again, WAH.

My in-laws and two of my husbands other siblings are all two states away.

Thank heavens my sister-in-law is just a short drive away so we can see them and their adorable two kids reasonably often. Dear Niece was born just two months ago and we adore every minute we get to enjoy watching her and Dear Nephew grow up!

But, over all, it's quite difficult to adjust to this sudden dispersal of siblings. It really hit home for me when my brother visited in between the job change. Although  he's been out of state for awhile, when he did visit, we at least were in the same house. This time around I only got to see him three times - and now he's gone until Christmas.

I don't like it.

You know I love being married and I wouldn't trade it for anything. But I really hope someday when my siblings get married and settle down, that they'll end up closer to us. We'll never all live in the same home again (unless something really weird happens), and that's good and as it should be (I don't miss the fighting and drama common to all siblings but particularly in a household of creative/leadership types), but I do miss being able to talk with them over breakfast, round them up on crazy creative adventures, and sit down to watch the latest episode of a mutually beloved show together.

Monday, June 23, 2014

So You Want Gluten Free Potstickers...

This is a blog about stories. It's not a cooking blog. But living Gluten Free is such an important part of so many stories these days, that I hope you'll forgive me if - very occasionally - I share an awesome Gluten Free recipe I've found and/or adapted.

One of the things I've missed the most since going Gluten Free that I've been unable to find any substitute for, are Asian dumplings: potstickers, wontons, etc. Finally, after succeeding with corn dogs and getting into making spring rolls, I decided to search for a potsticker dough recipe that was Gluten Free.

Look what I found!

I ordered the rice flour off of Amazon (already had the others) and on Friday night I whipped up a batch for Nathan and myself, using this recipe for the filling and sauce and frying them in coconut oil.

They were pretty good, but we found the lack of salt problematic for our western tastebuds. So on Sunday I made another batch, this time adding a bit of salt, reducing the water and adding an egg, and frying them in butter instead of coconut oil. Personally, we much preferred this.

I also tried a different filling this time, as I desperately missed cream cheese wontons. I found this filling recipe and used it, just substituting onion powder for actual onions and adding some garlic powder as well.

They were SO good. Even my non-GF husband loved them. I'd cook them a bit longer next time to get them more crispy, but that's just me being nitpicky. Overall I was thrilled at how they turned out. As you can see, the dough is thicker than what you'll get with regular dumplings, just a hazard of not being able to use gluten.  Taste and texture are excellent, even if they are a bit different, so if you're craving these Asian appetizers, I recommend trying this out!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

That time I wrote my first book

 The other day I was in the process of sorting out the boxes of stuff from my parents house and I came across this gem:


As far as I remember, this was a homeschool group project done when I was six years old. Each child had a blank white book and every week we had a new assignment to fill out in it.

But of course.

I have no idea why Tuesday was my favorite day, but I'll still consider February 20th my favorite time of the year (BIRTHDAY) and Esther remains a favorite Biblical character.

Typed by parents, obviously, but definitely my own words. The last line just cracks me up!

Looks like I had a good grasp of observation and description. My parents probably prompted me some, of course!

Totally not plagiarized from Doctor Doolittle. *cough*

Note all of the fabric used in this textures project!

Best part of all! ;)

Many thanks to my parents and whoever ran that class for getting me started as a writer. And teaching me to save everything important. It's not my fault I have so much stuff, I swear! (well... maybe a little...)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Did you know that people translate you differently when you get married?

There are always things you are not prepared for when you get married. Living with another person is always an adventure, from sharing a bathroom to regulating sleep cycles to picking whether you're going to watch the World Cup or a Rom-Com.

But I think you are less prepared for how the outside world reacts. Case in point: the ability of everyone on Facebook to interpret pretty much anything I say as a hint at a pregnancy announcement (even straight out saying that I am not pregnant.). For the first time in my life I am actually feeling like I don't want to post on Facebook for fear of being misconstrued - and I love Facebook!

Guys. I promise. When baby Hajek comes along, there will be NO hints (as fun as that could be). When it's time to announce, we'll say it straight up, clearly, no doubt about it. 

For those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook - I am not saying this to make anyone feel bad. I'm being clear so that you don't have to wonder. Curiosity doesn't need to kill any cats here! I know you all love me and Nathan. I know you think we'll be awesome parents someday (I hope so!) and want to coo over baby photos and spoil our future little ones. God willing, that time will come, and we are looking forwards to having your love and support.

This may come across as a bit of a rant, but I'm really just trying to share how I feel because it's not a position I was prepared for. I had no idea how much the wondering "are you guys pregnant?!?" to things I could have posted a year ago with no raised eyebrows would bug me. And I'm afraid that if I don't make how I feel clear, it'll end up coming out in a short temper someday, and I don't want that because I know, I really truly know that every query comes out of deep affection.

Why does it bug me? I'm not fully sure, but thinking about pregnancy is kind of a big deal to any woman, and even bigger when you've always wanted to be a mother, and even bigger when you get married and realize that it's becoming a more likely thing in your very real future. And then to, when you get asked the question or the hint and you have to face again the fact that that much desired time is not yet here - it hurts. As much as it is a relief that the responsibility is not yet here, it is also painful to realize that the joy is not here either.

There's another reason, too, why such inquiries in general make me uncomfortable. I know couples who, after suffering a miscarriage during the first trimester, have wanted to keep future pregnancies under the radar until past the critical 12-week-mark. If faced with a blatant hint or outright question, either online or in person, a couple in that position is faced with three options a) telling the truth (which they obviously don't want to), b) lying (which hopefully they don't want to do either), or c) saying nothing (which is easiest but almost as bad as telling the truth in terms of how it affects what people thing, since they are likely to assume the obvious).

Another reason I can think of is not so much the subject matter, but the misunderstanding. Being a writer, communicating clearly is pretty darn important to me. The fact that I'm not writing anything differently than I did before I was married, but am suddenly seeing these reactions, is bewildering and frustrating from a purely communicative position. Especially since, even when I think I'm being careful to say exactly what I'm trying to say, it still gets another motive applied to it. Which of course is a hazard of the trade, but this is an extreme reaction - although a very natural one, I must admit. As much as it annoys me, I understand where it comes from.

These are things I had some understanding of before I married, but the force of my reactions has taken me by surprise. I've written this post to explain what I'm feeling, both for personal understanding, and perhaps to raise awareness among those who have no way to personally experience such a situation yet.

I'm also very curious to know how other newlyweds have found these situations. Are you frustrated? Do you laugh? Do you brush them off or do they bug you? Are you amused or perplexed? A mixture? How do you cope?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gilmore Girls - imagining what happens next.

It's that time of year when the TV shows have all finished their spring seasons and the watching options dry up. I'm looking forwards to getting more "Switched at Birth" in a week, but otherwise the summer looks pretty dry until Doctor Who and Downton Abbey start up again.

I've been filling the gaps by rewatching "Gilmore Girls." Man. I love that show. I first encountered it in 2008 after I came home from college sick and needed something to fill my time. I was lucky in that I didn't have to wait between seasons at all, since it had just finished up. However there's a sadness in knowing that the show was finite - it wasn't going to continue.

Still... it had a pretty good ending. (SPOILER ALERT).

One love story open-ended, as it should be. For a show about strong women, it wouldn't have been right for Rory to get engaged/married right after college. She needed to be a journelist, which was what the show had built towards since day #1. It also keeps the Jess shipper fans (like my sister) from dying of depression, as they can hope that Rory ends up with him in the future. On the other hand, the Logan shipper fans can likewise imagine that their ship rekindles somewhere down the road.

What else can we imagine?

 What's really fun is that Rory's candidate to follow turned out to be THE candidate of the 2008 election. Who knows what she is up to nowadays, since she was on speaking terms with the President before he even won the Democratic ticket?

As for Lorelai and Luke... we all know they'll end up together. I imagine them taking the boat trip he had originally planned with April. Not eloping though, because Lorelai learned her lesson with Christopher and would want at least Rory to be present. But they'll get married, and probably have two kids. They'll never move out of Lorelai's house, but they'll keep building on to it, with crazy clashes with Taylor over building ordinances. April will love her new little siblings and visit regularily and enjoy the chance to bond again with Lorelai.

And Paris will become a successful doctor (and eventually marry Doyle), and Lane will support Zach as a musician and jam with him on her drums when the twins get older, and Sookie and Jackson will stop at #3 but this time from mutual agreement. Kirk and Lulu will get married and have one child and Kirk will be a quirky but actually very good father. Liz and TJ will go a bit baby crazy and have like three or four more kids and it'll be bedlam but somehow work.

Personally I think Rory won't get married for several years. I think she'll meet some smart, sharp guy, perhaps in Washington, perhaps a single father, and they'll fall in love and get married, but it won't be until she's about 30 (which would be about now). She'll keep reporting, feeling the growing pains of the industry as it transfers more and more to the internet. She'll blog, and it'll gain a rep for well-written accurate pieces and eventually she'll go full-time with it, doing guest pieces for the New York Times and other high profile newspapers.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I'll always have Paris

Between what feels like half my friends (not really but it feels like their photos dominates half my news feed) going to Europe and being too headache-y to at least travel there by writing, I've been missing Paris a lot this week.

It's been nine years since I went, back when I was an awkward little sixteen-year-old. My dad and I accompanied about 35 other homeschoolers and their parents on a two week jaunt across Rome, Paris and London. It was a wonderful, wonderful tour and I will always treasure those memories. (And believe me, I've been mining them hard in writing "The Mermaid and the Unicorn"!).

One of my dearest memories is walking down the street from our hotel to get a berry tart from a little streetside cafe. I don't have a photo to share, but those tarts were amazing. Plus I was eating them in Paris!

(Similar memory from London would be walking to a supermarket to get a sausage roll - a sausage wrapped in pastry. So British and so cool to be walking around in the dark to go get British food.)

I really thought I'd be back there by now. Of course, to a 16-year-old, nine years is an impossibly long time. Even now it is crazy to me to realize that I've lived almost three full cycles of nine years in my own lifetime. Yikes, I'm old!

God has had other plans though. He wanted me to learn about living life with ill health, about forging relationships and helping other people, and living away from home (and Minnesota). He wanted me to become the woman I needed to be to be a wife and helpmate to Nathan.

I'm so glad for all of this. I'm thankful for the person I've grown into and for all the experiences that have made me a better friend, daughter, wife and yes, writer. Because ultimately those few days in Paris, my friends recollections, and the internet are enough to write Daphne's story. But I could not tell her emotional journey if I had not gone through all of my own life adventures. It's much harder to describe emotions you've never felt - after all, you can never take a photo of an emotion, only what an emotion looks like.

Who knows? Maybe M&U will sell really well and I'll be able to go back to Paris with my husband. After all, there is no one I would rather enjoy it with.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

MCHEC Report and Fairy Tale Stuff for YOU!

 This weekend my husband, I and our friend Meg represented Chesterton Press at the Minnesota Catholic Home Educator's Conference.

I've done MCHEC twice before, once as lead representative, once helping out Regina Doman. It's a pretty big and well attended conference with people coming as far as Canada and Illinois to attend!

This year I gave a 45 minute presentation on "Why Catholic Fiction?" Regina made me a powerpoint that I used to expand on this post on the Chesterton Press Website. I had a small but engaged audience and it was pretty fun!

I even got to met a long-time reader of my blog!

I painted a booth sign, and once again we used one of my sewing creations to help draw attention to the booth. This year I chose to display a new dress that Regina and I both felt was very Blanche/Rose Brier.

We gave away tons of bookmarks. At the end of the two-day conference ALL of the FTN ones were gone and most of the JP2H.

The second day I brought along my travel machine to display and draw more attention to the fact that I was advertising sewing lessons.

My husband was a GREAT supporting, including running out to get me Gluten Free Pizza before my presentation.

Meg kept us alive the second day, because there was no way I could be on point the whole time. Meg knows and loves the books and has been doing this conference even longer than I have.

Now I am completely exhausted and sick, BUT I did take the time to put up an etsy posting for some of the Fairy Tale Tote Bags I have left over! I sold out of the "Keep Calm and Read Fairy Tales" but I may make and list some more when I get the time if there is interest.