In Which We Discuss the Consumerist Habit of Moralizing the Amoral Consuming We Partake In.

I remember the first time I ever purchased a fleece <enter well known brand> jacket.

“Oh I love your jacket! But <well known brand> is just so overpriced.”

I wasn’t about to argue–most definitely it was overpriced. Nonetheless, as one person after another effused their admiration for my jacket, yet, in the same breath negated the value of the purchase, I began to grow a tad irritated.

It was almost like in conceding that I had a nice jacket, they also had to claim the moral high ground for not succumbing to that frivolity. And we are indeed living in a heyday of people seeking to socially position themselves as victims, or if victimization is impossible, the attainment of moral superiority.

See, no one likes to be singled out or accused, and if you have a nifty little buffer for any nasty social interactions, you can sail through life with little pain of mind.

Victimization=you are attacking me in a way consistent with the way X-group of people are being attacked, and I identify with them.

Moral Superiority=I may be an annoying twit, but the way that I conduct myself within the bounds of whatever contrived morality I ascribe to, frees me of any responsibility.

There are true victims. There are also wonderfully beautiful, moral people. There are also people who exploit those things in order to possess the social upper hand.

Wow. That was harsh, Me. I know. I digressed hard just now. Yes, yes you did.

Onward.

The irony in all of my fleecy fiasco, was that most of the people carrying the word “overpriced” around like a chihuahua in a purse, ALSO had probably sent a text message, purchased a pair of flip flops, or eaten (my favorite example) a “value” fry.

Let’s talk the numbers on that salty paper bag of goodness, shall we?

Potato

This is a potato. It weighs approx. 7 oz.

You can buy a 5 lb. bag of these (80 oz.) for $2.47.

There was a time in history, not too long ago, when you could purchase a small *value* fry for $1.00. One, measly little dollar for 2.6 ounces of finger-licking bliss.

So basic math (which took me entirely too long) says: 80 oz.=297 cents, 16 oz.=50 cents, and generously, 2.6 oz. rounded up=10 cents.

Throw in oil and you have a raw material’s cost of about 15 cents. Now, granted, <generic fast food brand> is paying somebody $2.00 per 15 minutes to scoop those fries into a paper sleeve for you… and they have to make a profit.

Just like every other business that affords you the luxury of having things with no other inconvenience to you but cold hard cash.

The majority of items on today’s market are rarely of any kind of true value. By the time you factor in materials, labor, marketing, and retail, you wind up with something that is double or triple the base cost. In short, everything is overpriced. It’s the price we pay for convenience.

NOW. I’m not saying this is an inherently bad thing. What I am saying is that our perception of value/expense is a little warped. 

I encounter mass production on a bit of a bipolar basis. On one hand, I love things. I am walking, talking proof that the psychology behind branding/packaging absolutely works. “OOOOHHHHHH. Is that a tiny silicone flower pot??? Of course I need it! It’s so small… and cute! I’ll grow tiny flowers in it, ok!?”

-True story

Yet, sometimes, I aimlessly wander around mass merchandise temples and feel almost sick at the sheer amount of stuff.

So. Much. Stuff.

And we get it and get rid of it. And get it and get rid of it. And get it and get rid of it. And somehow we feel justified because of- value. Especially if it was cheap.

You won’t find us spending money on overpriced elitism! Unless of course, it’s something we really want/need like new cars, frapamochamacchiatotinos, or fruit-branded electronics.

Once again, no judgement. I am guilty of all of the above. It just seems like there are some obvious alternatives to the consuming cycle that aren’t gaining a lot of popularity. I mean, despite the varied and complex nuances of the economy, I don’t think any of us relish the idea of small Asian children sweating over our convenience items. Nonetheless, a common attitude towards the world of artisan/heritage skill/locally made product is:

“But it’s so overpriced.”

It’s true. We do live in an age where every DIY’er or budding Picaso feels that their Etsy shop entitles them to the same compensation as people who dedicate a lifetime to their craft.

Was that harsh again? Darn it… yes, it was.

Though, honestly, I would rather overpay for somebody’s craft room exploits than the maddeningly decreasing quality of <famous brand of sports shoes> 20 dollars worth of material (and craftsmanship) that they want me to dish out $100+ for.

If we managed to cut out even just 30% of our cyclical junk and replaced it with higher quality, “overpriced” hand made or locally made product, we would already be reducing waste.

I think this is why I am intrigued by companies that are moving towards a model that seeks to, instead of mass producing a product, supply precise amounts of merchandise to the demand. It’s true that this can be costly. But does costly mean overpriced?

I’m not so naive as to think that child laborers will be magically liberated and employed gainfully by making a few alternative purchases. In fact, at first the opposite will probably be true. However, embracing less waste in my life, without completely swearing off frivolity (because let’s be honest, I love frivolity), helps me focus on what is important, and maybe eventually will lead to a dialogue that can help precious Asian babies have more to look forward to than making cheap American merchandise.

I guess that’s the deal. Cheap does not equal value or fairly priced, and frivolity does not equal waste.

A new-ish shoe company my brother introduced to me does a good job illustrating this. Aliveshoes offers a platform for independent individuals to design and sell shoes in an exact demand/supply format. The shoes are luxury items and cost $100+… so, in simple terms, they are frivolous. But they are made out of quality materials by real Italian craftsmen–an item you can frivolously wear for a lifetime.

I am a bit of an extreme thinker. I can tend to find myself moseying into thoughts like, “Really, I could easily survive with two outfits, two pairs of shoes, and a tiny hovel for a house. I’ll eat feed corn the tractors missed and bathe in the river.” And if Jesus asked me to to that, I would say yes.

He may be asking YOU to do that. But He would be asking you to do that so you could lend value to another person’s life–and that’s what it’s all about.

Whether you have money or not. Whether you spend it on frivolous things or not. It’s all about where you’re putting your value (which isn’t always tied to money BT-DUBS).

It’s okay to splurge on a sweet pair of kicks. Especially if the value is there. Don’t get caught up in the pseudo morality of over/under priced merch.

I am seriously impressed with the vision my brother has for the shoe he designed. He’s a go-getter and needs to sell seven of them in order for production to start. If you think they are as rad as I do, you should probably nab a pair.

Yeah, wear a pair of sweet Venue sneakers, and then go support a precious cherubic Eastern, largest continent dwelling, small human.

But seriously, buy some shoes.

And help babies.

I’m done guys.

Keep those heads in the clouds.

-H

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A Bit and A Bat of Change

I don’t even know what that title means.

Just leave it alone.

Anywho. HI GUYS!

It’s been a while. Not my usual while; but a while nonetheless.

I was thinking today on my post about finishing things, and I realized that while I haven’t made much headway in completing the things on my New Year’s list (a la here), I have made headway in the finishing department.

Fortunately I kept my list somewhat vague… achievable, amiright?

I digress, the happy change I have noted, is that I am in the process of always finishing.

HUH?

See, I have a gazillion personal projects–no joke, literally a gazillion. (How many zero’s…) so prioritizing those has been a bit huge challenge. Prioritizing is not one of my strong suits.

It’s more of a leisure suit.

The important thing, is that I am beginning to finish. Instead of being able to veg endlessly, now, if I sit down for too long, I have to go grab some crocheting or knitting or stitching.

It’s actually kinda nice.

And even though my itch for beginning hasn’t decreased, (resin crafting and doll faceups and embroidery, OH MY!) I’m learning, SLOWLY, that things can wait.

And that’s hard for me.

So I guess this is a check-in and a victory and a confession all in one.

I have a new job that I am SO excited about, but I have a premonition that it will take a gobble-full of creative energy, and I want you all to know that I haven’t forgotten you. Especially if I go silent.

Is there any of you?

Maybe not.

Either way, I’m hoping to bring back some contemplative posts, and I really want to post some pictures of the fetal stages of my New Year’s projects.

I guess I should go charge my camera.

Ta-ta

Keep those heads in the clouds~

-H

A Year of Finishing

So… I’m really good at beginning things.

Really really good.

If you need an idea, call me. I have about a swimming pool full.

Though, my swimming pool is full of people without noses, half knit socks, empty picture frames, and poems that say “work on later”.

I’m not so good at finishing.

It could be that I lose interest easily. Or sometimes I think of something else, and the excitement of a new project overshadows that last little bit. Occasionally I just get too frustrated when something doesn’t turn out like I had it in my head, and I give up. ADD can be blamed for some of it (the TV is going as I write this, and I’m about ready to throw the darn thing).

Focus issues aside, we all know that breaking most of our less than desirable habits simply takes a good dose of the ‘d’ word.

Discipline.

So this year, instead of starting or resolving, I’m finishing. I’m taking things one project at a time (and believe me, I’m back-logged a good six years.) This blog is finally formatted more how I want it, and it will be my accountability. I’m biting the bullet, hunkering down, and turning my wasted time into production.

I WILL finish.

I will draw things even if they don’t turn out right. I’ll just draw them again!

I will become a better AND faster knitter.

I will learn to draft patterns more accurately, and complete at least THREE garments (specifics to come!)

I will learn to spin.

I will complete a novel.

And now you all know!

Project updates to come.

What are you learning this year?

-HH-

The Incredible Edible… Breakfast Sandwich

I love eggs.

My family often watches with a collective grimace as I experiment with new and exotic pairings of fried eggs, fruits, cheese, spreads, vegetables, and the perfect carbohydrate. A previous favorite is posted here, but today we are in full swing cranberry season.

And I love cranberries even more than I love eggs. If I could handle the bitterness of just sitting and eating a bag full, I would.

Last Thanksgiving, I was in the great abroad, but in their great love and remembrance of me, my family froze two bags of delicious cranberry sauce. After having eaten it on toast, on a spoon, and on a bagel, I decided to honor the humble cranberry by including it in one of my breakfast sandwiches.

YUM!

How delicious!

The recipe is pretty straight forward.

Soft fry your egg: mine was somewhere between over-easy and medium.
Add Muenster on top and give it one flip to brown the cheese.
Top a lightly toasted piece of wheat bread with as much leftover cranberry sauce as you desire.
Scoop egg on and enjoy!

Try it out!

Keep those heads in the clouds~

-HH-

R.M.S.- The Role Model Syndrome

Today as I was running around the house, frantically gathering my phone, billfold, and keys like I do every morning, I was momentarily distracted by the music video playing on VH1. Watching VH1’s top twenty count down is one of my guilty pleasures, don’t judge me.

First off, VH1 still actually plays music, and they feature some really good new artists. However, the music video that caught my eye was a Katy Perry video- surprise, surprise. Her videos are nothing if not, ahem, eye-catching. This one caught me though, because it was one I had never seen before.

Sooooo basically the conversation in my head went like this-

“Who…? Oh, it’s Katy Perry. Bahahaha. Wait who’s that other girl? She looks familiar.”

*Mind goes blank as story in music video unfolds*

“OH! Oh my! It’s Rebecca Black. What the Farfenoogle?! Kenny G.?!”

And then I tweeted the whole thing.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I do not hate Rebecca Black. I wish her no harm and I am not the type of person who enjoys tearing down young girls for my own amusement.

However… I am fed up with her fame, really any fame that is ill-deserved. Is she a nice girl? Probably- is she cute? Adorable- but she can NOT sing. Ironically, much of her fame has to do with the fact that people like *the majority of the American population* heard about her from some other person, watched it, said, “Oh heavens, this cannot be serious,” and proceeded to embed that video on our facebooks, tweet about our burning ears, and ask our friends, “OMGoodness have you heard Friday yet?”

Proving that any publicity is good publicity.

But this post isn’t about Rebecca Black really, she’s caught enough flack. Nor is it about that bozo who wrote the song, (fun, fun, think about fun; tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterward; we, we, we, so excited) in what world does that make it past a C in third grade poetry? This post is about Role Model Syndrome. This phenomena occurs when stars and starinas alike feel a benevolent warm fuzzy in their tummy, and they want to do some good.

Lady Gaga turned to the Black side, calling Rebecca a “genius”, and even Simon Cowell, yes, Great Britain’s snarky sweetheart, wasn’t quite sure why everyone hated it so much.

Once again, however, my point is not to re-bash Friday. Really, there are plenty of less-than-phenomenal vocalists that carry the charts everyday. My qualm found its legs as I watched Katy Perry’s music video.

Katy had a warm fuzzy. She wanted to reach out and gather this young, struggling (or not so struggling) “talent” under her wing and give her *one more* jump-start.

Fine- I really don’t know what Katy’s motive was, but it’s just frustrating. There is plenty of kick-butt talent out there that is waiting to be discovered- Youtube is littered with pretty voices, yet Katy is choosing Rebecca Black to play her transformer friend with magical hair and makeup skills. (Yes, I caught the whole “OH! Katy wrote a song about Friday so now she’s going to get a girl who sang about Friday in her T.G.I.Friday music video, for those of you who are ready to angrily defend away in the comment box.)

Just humor me, guys. If these top of the chart performers are deciding they want to manifest their R.M.S, why not give a talented (I have heard R.B. perform live- do not argue with me) truly struggling young artist a push? Or buy like 80 pairs of TOMS shoes, support Compassion, or buy some Charity Water bottles.

Eh.

Forgive my soapbox. I really so think Rebecca Black is a cute girl, and it’s unfair to pick on her when plenty of “lack-of-talents” are filling the spots where “lots-of-talents” should be, but you have to admit- I have a point.

On the upside, it’s *almost* Friday.

Siggggghhhhhh. C’est la vie.

Keep your heads in the clouds, friends. The music is better up here~

-HH-

P.S. Lady Gaga calls her followers “little monsters”. What should I call you guys?

 

What’s in a Name?

Today will be a short post…

I’m gathering up steam for our dearest Anne (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about click on “Insta-Prince-Edward-Island”).

I love names, I love interesting names, I find beauty in the most absurd names.
The other day as we were riding home from Wednesday night church, I randomly stated, “I think maybe I’ll use Chopin as a middle name for one of my sons… since he’s my favorite composer.”
To which my mother replied, “Your father’s favorite spice is fennel… notice, your name is not Fennel.”

I was silent for a moment and then thoughtfully said, “I kind of like that… Fennel…”

Sadly, I was serious.

My mother and I feel differently about names. I will name my child something because I like it, not because it’s normal :). BUT as she always is, my mother was right about one thing… she always told me my tastes would change. As much as I hate to admit it, she was right. While my “name taste” is no less unique, it HAS changed since my first “list of names” from when I was twelve.

So for general amusement, I will try to remember the names I favored from that time.

Hayley’s list of child names from when she was twelve

~GIRLS~

Jaylie: My name and my best friend’s name combined.
Jillian: Funny how when you meet someone with a name, they can ruin it.
Aravis: Yes… from the Chronicles of Narnia- a Horse and His Boy. (okay I still kind of like this name).
Peony: Why not name her Snapdragon or Bleeding Heart? No slight to people named after flowers… but as my father so kindly pointed out, her nick-name would be Pee-Pee.
Solicity: Really… I honestly don’t know what this is.

~BOYS~

Aaron: I actually had another name that had double vowels. I don’t think I actually liked the name Aaron… just the fact that the name had two A’s in a row.
Andrew: I always loved this name growing up… it just always sounded so… attractive… Then it became my littlest brother’s middle name.
Solomon: Maybe he was wise and had gazillions of wives, but this name would not win my son any points with the ladies. No offense to the Solomons out there.
Corin or Cor: Also from “a Horse and His Boy”. Don’t be hatin’! Gwyneth Paltrow has her Apple, I have my Cor.

~Why I Will Never Name My Children After Great-Grandparents~

Arlene
Marilyn
Robert
Harold

Good strong names…

~Why my Parents Didn’t Ask for my Advice When Naming my Brothers~

My middle younger brother’s name is Ryan Christopher… I adamantly argued that he should be named Christopher Robin.

~Why my Parents Didn’t Ask for Anyone’s Advice When Naming Any of Us~

My youngest brother was supposed to be a girl… really… the ultrasound tech people said he was a girl. The beautiful girl name my parents had picked out was Katelyn Taylor. When a boy popped out, everyone wanted to help name him, including my grandma. Her preference? Jedidiah or Jed. That poor child could not escape the Beverly Hillbillies theme song for the first decade of his life.

Really though, what’s in a name? The mere fact we ARE called by name is pretty spectacular… whether it’s Winifred or Tarzan.

SO once AGAIN mama was right… I’m glad my tastes have changed, they will probably change again… but mostly, I’m glad HER tastes changed. Had they not, I may have been a Quimby.

Keep your heads in the clouds dear friends…go name your daughter Fennel~

-HH-

French Toast Forgiveness

Dear reader friends… Well I’m not really sure I have many regular readers… Regardless, I apologize for the extreme lack of posts once again!

To make up for this rudeness on my part (particularly rudeness in not posting about our beloved Anne)… Today I will be short-winded and include a recipe.

I don’t really have much of a metaphor for this recipe, unlike my posts on cake, pie, and apple crisp, but there’s a little, teeny thought to go along with it :).

This is a recipe for one of my favorite breakfasts, french toast. I LOVE FRENCH TOAST. Even better, it is STUFFED french toast.

This morning I almost didn’t eat it because I have been watching my waistline. Yes, America, I am a 135 pound, 19-year-old girl and I’m watching what I eat… sad isn’t it?

Even my little 12-year-old brother felt guilty for eating it. That was what hit me… what kind of TWISTED society do we live in? 12-year-old BOYS feeling guilty for eating a decadent breakfast? Wrong wrong wrong!

Note: I do not condone unhealthy eating habits or lifestyles.

BUT! I don’t want to have to beat myself up for eating my favorite breakfast every once in a while! So I FORGAVE myself for eating the french toast, FORGOT the whole thing, and ATE another piece! HUZZAH!

SO! In conclusion of this diet liberation… I say MAKE this french toast, EAT it with fervor, and GO find Jillian Michaels and shove a piece in her face. ;P

Keep those heads in the clouds y’all!~

-HH-

A Hayley Recipe Original: Double Berry Stuffed French Toast

Start by making regular french toast. 6 eggs today made around 10 or 11 single pieces of french toast. I add about an 1/8 milk to help the eggs go further. Sometimes, I also splash a little vanilla extract in the egg mixture.
Heat your skillet to about 350-400 degrees, I used an electric skillet but you can use a pan skillet too. Plop some butter on when the skillet is good and hot. Take your bread (any bread) and dip each side in your egg mixture. You want to make sure each side has a good coating, but don’t let the bread sit in the mixture. Place two pieces of the dipped bread on the skillet. Sprinkle cinnamon and dried cherries on the exposed side. (It helps to push the cranberries down into the bread.) Flip bread after 2-3 minutes… it’s not an exact science, when the bottom starts to brown, flip it.

Allow the side with the cherries to cook completely, but not get too brown. When both pieces are cooked through, place a dollop of filling (filling recipe below) in the center of one of the pieces of french toast. Place the other piece in top to sandwich the filling in… leave on skillet until filling warms, flip.

Place completed stuffed french toast on plate, put a dollop of strawberry jam on top and lightly drizzle maple syrup over it all.

Filling Recipe:

How much filling you make will depend on how many full pieces of stuffed french toast you decide to make. One serving is as follows

3 Tbsp cream cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp any kind of berry jam, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, etc.

Whip cream cheese and jam together.

Experiment with different kinds of dried and fresh fruit inside

Bon Appetite!

The Quest for Contentment (and Cake)

We live in an age where contentment is rare.
For some, contentment is synonymous with settling… never wishing for bigger or better things.
I myself find it difficult to be content. I wish I could travel more, eat more, weigh less, own a kayak, have a beau, impress more, have a higher viewing count on this blog. As I dwell on these things, I find myself becoming increasingly unhappy. So many people ALREADY have and do these things; why not me?!
Unrest is a sticky trap… we are told we need more and more and more. Then and only then, will we be happy. Unfortunately “then” never arrives. The “more-est more” never satisfies. We are stuck in a perpetual ring of discontent.

“Whoa whoa whoa!” You may be saying. “If all the great minds in the world were content, where would the world be? No electricity, no great works of literature, our current mode of living would be grossly primitive!”
Allow me to clarify that contentment does not mean complacent. Furthermore… contentment is NOT the opposite of ambition.

Contentment is merely a way to RESPOND to our situations- Ambition is the fervor with which we pursue those situations.

I can be content AND have ambition! Ambition to save up for my new kayak… but also contentment, to function at peace regardless of whether I have the kayak or not. Ambition need not accompany unrest and stress. Likewise, contentment need not equal complacency and (gasp) laziness.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, contentment is a lost virtue. Some may even label it as outdated… but I KNOW that regardless of its lack of glitz and worldly appeal, those who remain content with their situations, lifestyle, possessions, will always be one step ahead of their “straining and grasping and pining away at the next best thing” friends.

Contentment is to me, a most beautiful and lovely gift… wrapped in brown paper.

Kind of like my favorite cake 🙂 It’s brown and rather homely… but I prefer it to any cake in the world. Imagine if my cake was always upset about not being red like the red velvet cake, or annoyed that it has no frosting flowers like the cakes in the stores… it would cease to be my favorite cake if I were to add these things.

So in conclusion dear friends… perhaps start your own quest for contentment. Maybe kick it off by making some cake.

Keep your head in the clouds and contentment in your heart~

HH

Content Oatmeal Cake

1C quick cooking oats                                 1 1/2 C flour
1 1/4 C boiling water                                   1 tsp baking powder
1/2 C butter                                                    1/2 tsp soda
2 eggs                                                                1/2 tsp salt
1 C brown sugar                                            1 tsp vanilla
1 C white sugar                                              1 tsp cinnamon

Pour boiling water over oats and let stand a few minutes. Combine butter, vanilla, eggs, and both sugars; add oatmeal mixture. Sift together remaining dry ingredients; add to mixture. Bake in lightly buttered rectangle cake pan at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. While cake is still hot, pour topping (see below) over top. Run it under the broiler, long enough to slightly brown.

Topping

3/4 C brown sugar
1 C coconut
1 C nuts (I use pecans)
1/4 C milk
6 T melted butter
Vanilla (I have a heavy hand when it comes to vanilla)

Combine all ingredients, spread on cake, and proceed as directed above.

Credit for recipe goes to the Pleasant Hill Shaker Cookbook and Mrs. Alna Braun
*Next in woman of worth series: Pie Crusts and a Perfectly Lovely Legacy*