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When I'm not here, you may find me wandering the pages below. (If I'm a regular visitor to your site and I've left your link off or mislinked to you, please let me know! And likewise, if you've blogrolled me, please check that my link is updated: thisroamanticlife.blogspot.com. The extra (a) makes all the difference!)

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Body: in sickness and in health

I won't lie; this body and I have had our issues with each other for many years. Body image -- sure. Physical and mental overextension -- comes with being a Type A kind of girl. I still struggle with these things, so they show up from time to time in my writing.

More recently, illness, pure but not simple, has added itself to the mix in a multi-system sort of way. And the challenges in figuring out exactly what's gone wrong are many. As problems have revealed themselves in the last few years, beginning with reactive hypoglycemia in late 2008, I've documented them here, partly to gain a little clarity on managing complex conditions but mostly to give voice to vulnerabilities I feel but don't normally share with anyone face to face. Better out than in, they say, right? (Oh yes, humor is one way I deal.)

The links below cover the different angles I've examined (and from which I've been examined) within that experience.

Travel: neither here nor there

When the person you're married to lives two time zones away, you log a fair number of frequent flier miles. And if you blog about commuter relationships, you log quite a few posts en route too.

Since we're no longer in separate places, I blog less often from airports. But we do travel -- together now! -- which is much more fun to write about. So in addition to thoughts on our years of commuting, the links below cover the places we've been as a pair and, in some cases, the adventures that have happened on the way.

Writing: the long and short of it

Why do I do it? Good question. Maybe it's not so much that I like to write but that I have to write, even when the words refuse to stick to the page. Believe me, I've tried doing other things like majoring in biochemistry (freshman fall, many semesters ago). Within a year, I'd switched to English with a concentration in creative writing and wasn't looking back.

After graduating, I taught English for a few years and then worked as an editor, which I still do freelance. In 2007, I applied and got into an MFA program at a place I like to call Little U. on the Prairie. I finished my degree in 2011 and have been balancing tutoring and writing on my own ever since.

The following links cover the writing I've done about writing: process, content, obstacles, you name it. It's not always pretty. But some part of me loves it, even when it's hard. And this is the result.

Heart: family and friends

I'd have a hard time explaining who I am without being able to talk about the family I grew up in as well as the people I've met beyond its bounds. But even with such context, it's not easy! In the simplest terms, I'm a first-generation Asian-American who has spent most of this life caught between cultures. That, of course, doesn't even begin to describe what I mean to, but there's my first stab at the heart of it all.

That's what this group of posts is reserved for -- heart. The essential parts of my life whose influences I carry with me, for better or worse. The links below cover what I've written as I've learned how these forces work within me, for me, against me, in spite of me. They anchor me even as they change me, and they keep life interesting.

Recommended reading

What do I do when there's too much on my mind and my words won't stick to the page? I escape into someone else's thoughts. Below is a collection of books and articles that have been sources of information, inspiration, and occasional insight for my own work.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

This !!! project

I first saw something about this at The Kitchen Witch, a blog (and blogger) I've loved since I started visiting her place last fall. At least, I think it was last fall. 2009 is kind of a blur.

The actual project originates with Momalom and Bad Mommy Moments. I love the idea: Intentional Happiness, or seeking out and documenting the things that put the !!! in your day. So I'm finally joining in after locating some index cards -- essential to making this work.

What's been the !!! in my week?

Well, to some degree, it started off last week after I'd picked up some of this


and this


which Marketing Sis encouraged me to try during my visit. Skin problems, hair problems; I was feeling pretty down about how I looked after several months of feeling pretty down. "Use my stuff while you're here," Marketing Sis said. "If it helps, great! And if it doesn't, you won't be out the cost of the whole product."

Both products seemed to help -- at least, they worked better than what I'd been using. So off to Target I went.

I looked in the mirror this week and someone with a bit more life in her face looked back at me. Maybe it was just the act of doing something a little special for myself. Or maybe it was feeling the moment of connection to my sister. Either way, I'm grateful -- !!! grateful.

Then there was this:


I've had a subscription to Living for a few years but the back issues have been collecting dust in a bookcase -- not a great use for the ideas in there and definitely not a good use of shelf space. So I decided several weeks ago to collate the recipes that were appealing (and adaptable to the Troubadour diet) into one binder, a project I finally finished this week.

I know, I know; why not just use the online archives? Because I'm tactile. I like to get my cooking inspiration by flipping through pictures of tasty food, serendipitously falling upon a recipe for celery root and apple salad while searching for a way to braise a roast. D and I have been trying out new recipes in the last few days, a refreshing change from some of our weeknight standards. (Sometimes habit gets the better of us during weekly meal planning.)

But the topper to it all? This:


I went outlet shopping on a whim Wednesday, not knowing what I'd find. Lo and behold, a Le Creuset store with a sale on already discounted merchandise! D and I had just been talking about how half the recipes we wanted to try requested a Dutch oven. So I called him up and told him about the deal. Was he interested enough to jump on the promotion?

I have a feeling the recipe binder is going to get a lot of use in the coming weeks ...

14 comments:

Sherlock said...

Sounds like some good ideas there! Glad you're exploring and experimenting some. Love the Dutch oven! Can't wait to hear your adapted creations!

Corinne said...

Oh I love my dutch oven :) Hubby bought one as a Christmas gift to "us" a few years ago, and just adore it. I use it whenever I can!
Glad you found some !!! recently!

Good Enough Woman said...

Hooray for improved skin! As someone who has rosacea and eczema, I totally get the skin thing. !!!

And I LOVE, LOVE your Dutch oven! I need (read: want) one, too. Maybe I'll get one like yours!

And I hope the dietician situation is going well . . .

medieval woman said...

I totally envy your Le Creuset!!!

ck said...

Oh, what I wouldn't give to have that binder. I also get my cooking inspiration from photos...or from other people who cook for me. Though you can imagine how often that happens, so I'm all about the photos!

C. Troubadour said...

Sherlock -- experimenting feels better than no change at the moment. So I'm running with it. Including in the kitchen :)


Corinne -- after the inaugural meal prepared this weekend with the Dutch oven, I think we can say we're officially sold. Worth every penny, and so much easier to clean than the stainless steel pot I'd been substituting ...


GEW -- eczema has been my personal skin demon since birth. We should swap tips on skin remedies! The scrub my sister recommended is actually for a frustrating case of acne renaissance, though. Just when I think I've got my skin figured out, it changes AGAIN.

As for the Dutch oven, I'm in love. The ribs we made for the Fourth of July were so easy with it. Seriously, come visit and I'll take you to the outlet!

Dietitian week two: still good.


MW -- all right, you and GEW can both visit and we'll take a field trip to the Le Creuset outlet :). The pot is heavy, though. Best to bring someone who won't mind helping you haul it on a plane. I had quite a time just getting it from the store to the car!


ck -- welcome! Yes, photos are essential for me to get interested in a new recipe. I do have to say that some of the recipes I pulled for the binder take WAY too much time to produce (honestly, eight hours to make a pot pie???), so I cut corners a lot. But the inspiration to try something different is the intended benefit.

TKW said...

Le Creuset is definitely !!!

I have had a bad hair LIFE. Seriously. I'm still looking for the magic antidote.

Sarah said...

Yay yibbity yay! That Le Creuset looks like it's going to cook up something scrumptious. I've wanted one of those suckers for a long time, but alas, not a lot of REAL cooking going on in the house so I am much more satisfied to spend my money on over-priced technology and a pool membership. :)

I love your !!! for the week. I love how intentional all of it is. Really, very intentional...and that is the point...and it can be so darn refreshing that it's hard not to keep thinking about it all day, every day.

C. Troubadour said...

TKW -- I think the years of bad hair have degrees of badness for me. Nothing felt worse than the Perm That Would Not Grow Out, so the need to fix the current hair didn't feel nearly as urgent. Marketing Sis just thought a little pampering might help lift the spirits (and the roots). But skin, holy hell. My face thinks it's fifteen again. And me without a ski mask ...

I wish there were a magic antidote for hair and skin problems. For hair, I can say with confidence that the less you try to change what it is, the less it rebels. Work with it, not against it?


Sarah -- thanks for visiting! I'd been keeping an eye half-open for a Dutch oven (any brand) for a while but just didn't feel I could justify buying one since we have perfectly good pots and pans and can cook most things with them alone. But the world of specific-to-Dutch-oven cookery hath now opened to me and I'm amazed how much less time I have to spend scrubbing it vs. the stainless-steel substitute I'd been getting by with.

Intentional Happiness was a brilliant idea. I'm so glad you and CK came up with it.

SuziCate said...

Always wonderful to find happiness in the everyday! I love these kinds of lists.

theycallmejane said...

I love your !!! And you will just LOVE your dutch oven. I use mine almost every day!

C. Troubadour said...

SuziCate -- the boost is much appreciated around here :)

Jane -- smitten are we! D's even started waxing poetic about the camper-style versions he used on Boy Scout trips (for cooking directly in a fire). He's missed the kinds of cuisine cast iron can produce. If it weren't so hot this week, I think he'd be asking for cassoulet next.

BigLittleWolf said...

Le creuset on sale! How fab is that! (And what a smart project - putting all your recipes together rather than keeping the magazines themselves. Will you come organize my stacks if I offer !!! index cards in return? And bake you cookies???)

:)

Great list!

C. Troubadour said...

Gladly, BLW! And no cookies necessary :)

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

This !!! project

I first saw something about this at The Kitchen Witch, a blog (and blogger) I've loved since I started visiting her place last fall. At least, I think it was last fall. 2009 is kind of a blur.

The actual project originates with Momalom and Bad Mommy Moments. I love the idea: Intentional Happiness, or seeking out and documenting the things that put the !!! in your day. So I'm finally joining in after locating some index cards -- essential to making this work.

What's been the !!! in my week?

Well, to some degree, it started off last week after I'd picked up some of this


and this


which Marketing Sis encouraged me to try during my visit. Skin problems, hair problems; I was feeling pretty down about how I looked after several months of feeling pretty down. "Use my stuff while you're here," Marketing Sis said. "If it helps, great! And if it doesn't, you won't be out the cost of the whole product."

Both products seemed to help -- at least, they worked better than what I'd been using. So off to Target I went.

I looked in the mirror this week and someone with a bit more life in her face looked back at me. Maybe it was just the act of doing something a little special for myself. Or maybe it was feeling the moment of connection to my sister. Either way, I'm grateful -- !!! grateful.

Then there was this:


I've had a subscription to Living for a few years but the back issues have been collecting dust in a bookcase -- not a great use for the ideas in there and definitely not a good use of shelf space. So I decided several weeks ago to collate the recipes that were appealing (and adaptable to the Troubadour diet) into one binder, a project I finally finished this week.

I know, I know; why not just use the online archives? Because I'm tactile. I like to get my cooking inspiration by flipping through pictures of tasty food, serendipitously falling upon a recipe for celery root and apple salad while searching for a way to braise a roast. D and I have been trying out new recipes in the last few days, a refreshing change from some of our weeknight standards. (Sometimes habit gets the better of us during weekly meal planning.)

But the topper to it all? This:


I went outlet shopping on a whim Wednesday, not knowing what I'd find. Lo and behold, a Le Creuset store with a sale on already discounted merchandise! D and I had just been talking about how half the recipes we wanted to try requested a Dutch oven. So I called him up and told him about the deal. Was he interested enough to jump on the promotion?

I have a feeling the recipe binder is going to get a lot of use in the coming weeks ...

14 comments:

Sherlock said...

Sounds like some good ideas there! Glad you're exploring and experimenting some. Love the Dutch oven! Can't wait to hear your adapted creations!

Corinne said...

Oh I love my dutch oven :) Hubby bought one as a Christmas gift to "us" a few years ago, and just adore it. I use it whenever I can!
Glad you found some !!! recently!

Good Enough Woman said...

Hooray for improved skin! As someone who has rosacea and eczema, I totally get the skin thing. !!!

And I LOVE, LOVE your Dutch oven! I need (read: want) one, too. Maybe I'll get one like yours!

And I hope the dietician situation is going well . . .

medieval woman said...

I totally envy your Le Creuset!!!

ck said...

Oh, what I wouldn't give to have that binder. I also get my cooking inspiration from photos...or from other people who cook for me. Though you can imagine how often that happens, so I'm all about the photos!

C. Troubadour said...

Sherlock -- experimenting feels better than no change at the moment. So I'm running with it. Including in the kitchen :)


Corinne -- after the inaugural meal prepared this weekend with the Dutch oven, I think we can say we're officially sold. Worth every penny, and so much easier to clean than the stainless steel pot I'd been substituting ...


GEW -- eczema has been my personal skin demon since birth. We should swap tips on skin remedies! The scrub my sister recommended is actually for a frustrating case of acne renaissance, though. Just when I think I've got my skin figured out, it changes AGAIN.

As for the Dutch oven, I'm in love. The ribs we made for the Fourth of July were so easy with it. Seriously, come visit and I'll take you to the outlet!

Dietitian week two: still good.


MW -- all right, you and GEW can both visit and we'll take a field trip to the Le Creuset outlet :). The pot is heavy, though. Best to bring someone who won't mind helping you haul it on a plane. I had quite a time just getting it from the store to the car!


ck -- welcome! Yes, photos are essential for me to get interested in a new recipe. I do have to say that some of the recipes I pulled for the binder take WAY too much time to produce (honestly, eight hours to make a pot pie???), so I cut corners a lot. But the inspiration to try something different is the intended benefit.

TKW said...

Le Creuset is definitely !!!

I have had a bad hair LIFE. Seriously. I'm still looking for the magic antidote.

Sarah said...

Yay yibbity yay! That Le Creuset looks like it's going to cook up something scrumptious. I've wanted one of those suckers for a long time, but alas, not a lot of REAL cooking going on in the house so I am much more satisfied to spend my money on over-priced technology and a pool membership. :)

I love your !!! for the week. I love how intentional all of it is. Really, very intentional...and that is the point...and it can be so darn refreshing that it's hard not to keep thinking about it all day, every day.

C. Troubadour said...

TKW -- I think the years of bad hair have degrees of badness for me. Nothing felt worse than the Perm That Would Not Grow Out, so the need to fix the current hair didn't feel nearly as urgent. Marketing Sis just thought a little pampering might help lift the spirits (and the roots). But skin, holy hell. My face thinks it's fifteen again. And me without a ski mask ...

I wish there were a magic antidote for hair and skin problems. For hair, I can say with confidence that the less you try to change what it is, the less it rebels. Work with it, not against it?


Sarah -- thanks for visiting! I'd been keeping an eye half-open for a Dutch oven (any brand) for a while but just didn't feel I could justify buying one since we have perfectly good pots and pans and can cook most things with them alone. But the world of specific-to-Dutch-oven cookery hath now opened to me and I'm amazed how much less time I have to spend scrubbing it vs. the stainless-steel substitute I'd been getting by with.

Intentional Happiness was a brilliant idea. I'm so glad you and CK came up with it.

SuziCate said...

Always wonderful to find happiness in the everyday! I love these kinds of lists.

theycallmejane said...

I love your !!! And you will just LOVE your dutch oven. I use mine almost every day!

C. Troubadour said...

SuziCate -- the boost is much appreciated around here :)

Jane -- smitten are we! D's even started waxing poetic about the camper-style versions he used on Boy Scout trips (for cooking directly in a fire). He's missed the kinds of cuisine cast iron can produce. If it weren't so hot this week, I think he'd be asking for cassoulet next.

BigLittleWolf said...

Le creuset on sale! How fab is that! (And what a smart project - putting all your recipes together rather than keeping the magazines themselves. Will you come organize my stacks if I offer !!! index cards in return? And bake you cookies???)

:)

Great list!

C. Troubadour said...

Gladly, BLW! And no cookies necessary :)