Interview Shoes

I had a job interview today. Hurray! The moment the time was set via email yesterday, however…well, you know. “OMG yay finally have a real interview, that’s great, need to get my portfolio all polished why’d I put it off is my resume / online portfolio current oh no WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?!”
Does everybody go through that last part? Seriously, is it not enough to think about with collecting references and trying to think of 5 Things My Co-workers Would Say About Me? I mean, sheesh. I tried on 3 different black skirts, one navy blue with white polka dots skirt, and a pair of black pants. I spent 20 minutes on the phone discussing whether my hi-lo cream-colored lacy dress would say “Young, confident, creative, and stylish” or “I have no clue what’s appropriate business attire.”
I tried on a cream-colored top I purchased just for interviewing in, paired it with each of said skirts, then decided it was too frumpy. I’m not even going to list all the different tops I tried, ugh.
But then it was time to choose shoes. I own 6 different pairs of black heels alone. At least 3 different pairs of brown high-heeled boots (perfect for the season, ridiculous with any of my interview outfits). I narrowed it down to a pair of respectable black shoes that said “stylish, confident, but still practical” instead of anything that could be too night-clubby or date-nighty. But then I still had to find socks–because the shoes demand socks–but do I wear a pair of novelty ankle length socks that only I will know about? (I was partial to wearing my R2-D2 socks.) Do I wear neutral-toned socks that would be a nod to the business sock? (Um, did anybody else just think of one of the best music videos ever?) Or do I wear knee highs, which might work since the length of the skirt is long enough it wouldn’t show to the top of the socks…?
Thankfully I saw my pair of knee-high gray flat boots and didn’t waste any more time on trying on socks.
I’m glad I’m a woman, but this is one of the times I get truly sick of it and think about men needing to choose between brown shoes and black shoes and I just get so jealous!
First world problem, I know.

BTW, the interview went well.

I have a huge backlog of posts half-written in my head, so I’ll be writing soon about the GF journey, some more zombie book reviews, and about some WIPs.

How about you? What’s your stumbling block when prepping for an interview? Feel free to comment!


Gluten Free?

I’m going gluten-free. Tomorrow.

And I don’t mean that as a joke about procrastination. I’m going out with a bang tonight by going to Travail, our local awesome spot. (Pics tomorrow? We’ll see if I get any good ones–my food photography leaves a lot of room for growth.)

I’ve been working towards this for a while, and I didn’t get serious about setting a date for it. So I’ve decided on a date. Tomorrow. Which is less a date than a day, I suppose.

I’m planning on sharing some of my journey here, partly to keep me honest about it, partly because maybe it’ll be a good source for others. We’ll see.

This is a short post because each time I’ve tried to write a post lately it’s just turned into a big beast I was no longer in charge of. So more info soon, and for now, I’m going to enjoy my last cheese bread for a long time.

Home Made Kefir

I purchased kefir grains from Cultures for Health about a month ago. I was really, really excited to get going on making my own, but then I made myself wait since I had a 6-night, 7-day trip to Savannah with Boyfriend coming up. I knew it would be safer for the little colony of yeast and bacteria to wait for my return without being activated first.

Then, when I got home from my trip, I experienced a sort of manic-depressive craze. At first I was wonderfully rejuvenated and inspired to Do All the Things! (love you, Allie Brosh, how could anyone explain it better than you?) but of course it didn’t really last very long. My inspiration and realization that it’s actually quite easy to keep house, eat healthily, exercise daily, and on and on was soon replaced with the reality of — wait for it — reality. My 9 year old son had a nasty cough, a fever that got up to 103.something, and a rattling sound when he breathed. (Health care provider diagnosed an upper respiratory infection, and there wasn’t much to do besides push fluids, rest, and wait. And wait. And wait.)

Over a week later, my son has returned to school, healthy except for a bit of a niggling cough. I finally had just enough energy to pour the contents of a sealed pouch of kefir grains into a cup of milk, cover, and allow fermentation to begin.  Seriously, it’s that easy. I’m new at it, obviously, but it does seem as though the trickiest thing is keeping the culture/milk warm enough yet cool enough. I felt like I could manage that since I have that issue when I bake yeast bread here as well — my kitchen gets chilly, but the yeast needs a stable, warm environment to flourish in. I solved that problem by using a gigantic ceramic bread bowl that I pre-warmed with hot water, so it seemed logical to try that with the kefir-milk. So I started the grains (so called for their physical appearance, not because they’re actually grains) in milk that I placed in a pre-warmed coffee mug. I thought the thermal nature of the mug would keep the chilliness at bay.

Then I figured out that as long as I put the kefir-milk near the coffee pot, it’s warm enough for the culture to be quite happy. I keep it covered (as recommended) with some home made cloth napkins and a rubber band. I imagine this not only keeps out dust and other foreign particles (and hungry insects in the warm season), but allows for off-gassing from the fermentation process.

Covered jar of milk and kefir grains

My very precise kefir-culturing method.

In the about-a-week that I’ve been trying to get this culture going, I’ve forgotten about the stuff and left it out longer than I intended twice. The guides are fairly loose – they say leave the culture out for 12-48 hours. Not exactly specific, but with all the variables involved (including living organisms), there couldn’t be only one set of directions. So I felt pretty unsure and had no idea what the *ahem* I was doing. The stuff I was getting at the end of a day or two was looking more like milk left out overnight in July (read: scary yogurt) than like the smooth drink I love. It also smelled sort of…yeasty. Not overpowering, and not wholly unpleasant, but not like I wanted to drink it as a treat, either. Plus as I said, I’m uncertain and don’t feel I know what I’m doing…and don’t want to poison myself…so this morning when I woke up and realized I forgot and left the kefir-milk-culture jar out too long again, I decided I was done trying and I am clearly not cut out for caring for a little colony of probiotics.

But when I looked at the jar this morning, it was different. It was firm and looked sort of like cream-top yogurt looks, and the liquid that separated out wasn’t a mildly sick-looking pale yellow. It was an almost clear liquid. (I believe it is referred to as whey at this point and is considered quite beneficial for lots of healthy food-making such as lacto-fermentation and soaking grains.) The smell was different as well, not having such a strong, almost pungent smell of yeast. It smells much milder now.

I made kefir! Holy buckets! It worked!

OK, so maybe I’m not a domestic goddess yet. I’m not even much of a suburban-homesteader (my garden really wants me to harvest the veggies out there, now that there’s a hard frost every morning…). But I can say that I’m a shepherdess of sorts, keeping my little flock of kefir-sheep alive. A kefherdess? I’ll try to puzzle that out as I see whether I keep a colony alive for longer than a little over a week.😉

This first batch I’m going to try with some local honey and maybe a touch of cinnamon (it’s fall and warming spices are so very right at the moment!). Maybe someday I’ll be able to enjoy it without sweetener added, but I think a transition from store-bought, highly-sweetened kefir will go more smoothly if I indulge my taste preferences.

Suggestions? Advice? Please feel free to comment! I have a lot to learn!

UpdateI decided to wait before posting this, so maybe it doesn’t count as an update exactly. I wanted to try the kefir out and make sure I didn’t wind up dead and inadvertently publishing bad advice before I died.

I have had the kefir multiple times now and have yet to experience food poisoning from it — yay! I’m not sure why I got so worked up and nervous about the whole thing. I guess there is a corner of my being that believes the line we’re given from Big Business and the government about ultra-pasteurization and so forth, and that I’m taking my life and the life of my family in my hands when I make food at home.

Well, guess what? Yeah I am! I WANT to take our lives in my hands. There are too many sketchy practices out there, too many problems with the food system as it stands and the health issues in this country, and I am the only one who is going to watch out for my family in this.

Mm, sorry about the soap-boxing there.

Back to kefir. There wasn’t really getting around the fact that home made kefir tastes different from what I’m getting at the store. So while the honey-cinnamon treat will be nice once I acquire a taste for my kefir, I found that a roughly 50/50 kefir/apple cider mixture was perfect. I’ve also had my kefir in my hot cereal instead of milk and in some potato & lentil stew I made.

Also, the first day I tried the new kefir, I had a beer with dinner (a few hours after my afternoon snack of kefir). The next day I was amazed to realize I had experienced any gassiness or bloating from the beer, and I definitely attribute that straight to the kefir flora-boosting power. Scientific evidence? Naw. Good enough for me to be a believer? You betcha!  (<– That’s Minnesotan for “yup.”)

*Safety note: If you’re going to make kefir at home, be sure to use safe, sanitary methods. Improper kitchen sanitation can make you and your loved ones sick or dead, and that would suck. So make sure everything is clean and follow the directions from your kefir grain provider. If you didn’t get any, go to Cultures for Health and watch their video tutes and/or download their free kefir-making ebook.

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