Bird and Belle's Adventures in Marriage


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Kitchen

What’s harder on a marriage then finishing a Ph.D. while job hunting and struggling with infertility? Remodeling your kitchen WHILE dealing with all three!

We started this project almost exactly a year ago. Since then we have spent weekends gutting, repairing, rewiring, plumbing, fixing broken floors, tiling, sewing and more trying to take what used to be an out-dated nightmare of a kitchen into something of this decade where we actually enjoy preparing meals. I’m very pleased to report that we are still married after all of this, and have the kitchen of our dreams to boot. We learned a whole lot while doing this project. Let me share some of our major lessons and then we’ll get to the fun before & after shots.

Lesson 1: DON’T remodel your kitchen while you are finishing a Ph.D., job hunting and dealing with infertility!

Lesson 2: Take the time you originally estimated to complete the project and multiply it by 10.

Lesson 3: Factor “burnout” and “I no longer give-a-shit” periods into your time calculation. Multiply those by 3.

Lesson 4: Obsessive women who are overly hormonal thanks to science make for challenging renovation partners.

Lesson 5: Obsessive women CAN repair the heck out of some walls and are CHAMPS at building Ikea cabinets.

Lesson 6: A “quick” plumbing project is never quick.

Lesson 7: There is no such thing as “one trip” to the home repair store.

Lesson 8: Laying tile on a floor with squeak and bounce is not possible. Fixing the floor so it does not have squeak or bounce is a nightmare of epic proportions. Lay wood instead.

Lesson 9: Cats don’t make renovations any easier.

Lesson 10: Cheap ceiling paint is exactly what the name says: cheap. Spend the money on good paint.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. We learned a lot from this project. We know that if the next house needs a new kitchen we will do the remodel before we move in. We also know our marriage is frighteningly strong – renovations are taxing enough. Toss in all our madness and you get a true test. I’m pleased we made it and that we are both still sleeping in the same room (well, except for the night’s I’m too crazy and want the window unit set at 65 degrees… but that is a blog post for another day!)

Before

Old cabinets, gross counter, creepy red floor and crayon-yellow walls = one dated disaster.

After

The cabinets are all Ikea. We made multiple trips to Cincinnati to collect them in our little Ford Taurus. The sink and counter tops came from Lowe’s. The faucet was on clearance at Home Depot. I made the curtains with outdoor fabric from Hancock’s that was on clearance. That really big plant was a wedding gift from my sweet cousin. It must be the hardiest thing ever because it has survived me for more than two years. It has even produced a baby plant.  Tile flooring is clearance from Home Depot. The tile was so cheap that we built the entire kitchen around it.

The paint color is “Stone Brown” by Benjamin Moore.

Before

The rickety butcher block was a HAIY (Half-Ass It Yourself) project by the previous owners. If you wiggled it while cutting on it the top would collapse. The creepy knife collection is what happens when two grownups marry and combine two cheaply stocked kitchens. The upper glass cabinets were the only redeeming quality in the kitchen. Despite our best efforts, though, they could not be salvaged.

After

New cabinets with Ikea lighting mounted for illumination. I both store and display our inexpensive Bed Bath & Beyond serving dishes on top. The teal bowl is a $1 find from the thrift store purchased to give the space a pop of color. Due to all the doors leading into the kitchen (3) we had to do a little creative engineering. By using a low profile cabinet here and having the granite cut special we were able to maximize our space and create a “coffee bar.” Small PP Make Muji boxes contain things like tea, bag clips, wine openers, etc. The switches and outlets here still need updated. The new dishwasher is a Bosch we paid $75 for at the thrift store. With a lot of cleaning and a little engineering it now serves us VERY well.

Before

A small, non-energy efficient fridge covered in crap. This side of the kitchen did not have any cabinetry originally. Jay added this huge wire rack. Again you’ll see what happens when two people marry and combine two cheap kitchens – lots of cheap stuff! Last year I spent several months eBay’ing all of this and made enough money to purchase minimal high-quality pieces that should last us for many, many years.

After

Again we had to use a little creativity with this space. The kitchen is narrow and would have been absolutely claustrophobic had we used full depth cabinets. Instead we opted for low-profile drawers and then open shelving above. This creates a small work-space and maximum storage. A small PP Make box holds our most frequently used items – olive oils, pepper and hot sauce. All the clear storage containers were gifts when we got married and now hold my baking supplies, grains and dried beans. The “spice file” saves space by keeping all our spices tidy and alphabetized. Still waiting on some electrical work over here, too. Oh, and my Vitamix. (LOVE)

Before

The old fridge was old and cramped and sounded like it might launch from the house when it kicked on. It was also covered in crap.

After

The new fridge is a little larger, silent and energy efficient. A white box on-top holds appliance manuals and warranty information. A two-tiered basket holds produce.

Before

I hated this stove. The oven burned everything. The stove burners were weak. All the utensils hanging on the wall were a mess and the zillion spice jars on the shelf collected a ton of grease.

After

New cabinets provide utensil storage. An old clear vase has new purpose holding my bamboo and silicone pieces. We purchased the Ikea microwave and mounted it above the stove to save space and double as a vent. I’m so pleased with this Ikea appliance. Next time we’ll skip the fancy Frigidaire brand and go for Ikea. (Buyer beware: We have already had repairs done to the stove and the fridge.) Cat potholders take up a prominent residence on the side of the stove. Two small prints of a rooster and an owl from a gallery in Cincinnati wait to be hung.

We sold the huge pile of cookware and used all the money made to replace it with 3 leCreuset pieces, one non-stick wok and one non-stick egg pan. I love this teal color and look forward to spending the rest of my life making nourishing meals in it.

This wall is right by the door to the basement. It was largely unused so we added an Ikea rail and now hang our lunch boxes in a prominent location, encouraging us to pack lunches! The “Beat It” print is from a seller on Etsy. She customized it so the colors would match our kitchen.

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Meat Jello

Beans beans they’re good for the heart,
The more you eat the more you fart,
The more you fart the better you feel,
So eat your beans AT EVERY MEAL!

I remember singing this with my Dad and feeling like SUCH a rebel. Why? Because FART was one of the naughtiest words I knew but if Daddy was singing them with me it was both ok and hilarious.

Nearly 30 years later I still hum this little ditty while cooking beans and it always makes me smile. The difference between then and now, aside from the expansion of my naughty word vocabulary, is that I like beans. Actually, I love beans.

I could fill this entire post about the wonderful world of legumes, their nutritional benefits and the varying flavors between varieties, but I’m pretty sure our small readership would plummet.

Over the years I have become proficient at taking a bag of dry beans and turning it into a dish that even the most diehard carnivore would enjoy. It seemed logical when we started cooking chicken to apply many of the same beany principles.

For example, the broth left after cooking garbanzo beans (or chickpeas if you prefer) is a culinary delicacy. I use this garbanzo bean broth in soups and sauces and even blend it in my hummus as a way to reduce the fat without sacrificing flavor.

When Bird went to whip up a giant Crockpot of chicken stock I figured the end liquid would be similar to that of garbanzo bean broth.

Note: Bird has pointed out that while this is a syllogism, it is not “true.” It is, however, how my thought process went, which is often quite incorrect, therefore it is “true enough” to go on our Adventures of Marriage blog.

Last weekend Bird plopped the chicken carcass in the Crockpot with water, veggie scraps and fresh herbs from the garden and let it do its thing for the day.

The broth hung out in the fridge for several days until we had time to make our first chicken soup. While Bird prepared the butternut squash and onions, I pulled out the big container of broth.

“Um, let me do that…” Bird said.

“I can do it. It’s just broth and cooked chicken. I think I can handle it.”

And then I opened the lid and holy crap, what the hell was this gelatinous muck?

“Something is wrong!” I yelped. “Look at all this disgusting fat! Wait, this is not fat. What on earth is it?”

“RELAX,” Bird said. “It’s just gelatin from the bones. It will liquefy again when we heat it up.”

Cue dry heaves.

“I don’t believe you. Broth does not look like this when cold. BEAN BROTH DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THIS WHEN COLD!”

I grabbed a lone can of chicken broth and I shoved it in his ear and shook.

“See! Liquid! Something is totally wrong. This meat Jello cannot be good for us.”

Bird told me to relax and retreat while he dealt with the  muck broth.

Google search: WHY DOES MY CHICKEN BROTH LOOK LIKE BROWN JELLO

What popped up shocked me. Post after post of people lamenting at how hard it is to get their chicken broth to gel,while others boasted of the perfect recipe to achieve gelatinous broth.

Why on earth would people want this?

Google search: WHY SHOULD YOU EAT GELATINOUS CHICKEN BROTH?

I was shocked at what I learned. Basically bone broth is full of really good stuff including:

  • Cartilage which includes glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin sulfate, keratin sulfate and hyaluronic acid. Cartilage may be useful in the treatment of ailments like arthritis, degenerative joint disease, inflammatory bowel disease and lowered immune function.
  • Red bone marrow which is an important source of nutritional and immune support factors. It contains myeloid and lymphoid stem cells.
  • Glycine and proline which are important amino acids important in the manufacturing of glucose, enhancing gastric acid secretion, supporting soft and connective tissue and the production of plasma.
  • Collagen which aides in soft tissue and wound healing, formation and repair of cartilage and bone, healing and coating the mucus membranes of the gastrointestinal tract and facilitating the digestion and assimilation of proteins.
  • A whole bunch of minerals*

This is a lot of stuff that seems important for people with connective tissue disease, digestive problems and joint problems – all things that I deal with. This is also a lot of stuff that I currently take in supplement form and pay a lot of money for.

I think the most amazing thing is that all this goodness comes from the part of the chicken that most modern American families throw away. It took one Crockpot, the carcass of our Good Life Ranch chicken, some veggie scraps and a day of unattended simmering to create this nutritional powerhouse. This is the frugal gal and health nut’s dream all simmered into one pot of gross looking meat Jello.

I rushed back to the chicken to inform Bird of all my new-found knowledge.

“Did you know BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH?” I trumpeted.

“Yeah… chicken broth is really good for you. This is why we are eating it,” Bird said while rolling his eyes.

“Correction – meat Jello. Seriously, you could spread this on toast. I bet that would be super nutritious!” I said.

“That’s disgusting. Don’t do that to toast. The soup’s ready now. Let’s eat.”

I’m pleased to report that I have had three bowls of this soup since we made it on Monday. While it’s not my favorite thing (I’d take lentil soup over chicken soup any day) I very much appreciate the nutritional value and the fact that we have used every scrap of this little chicken up. Tell me, do you make stock with the bones from your meats? If so, do you have any tips or tricks to share with us? 

* All nuritional information in this post came from The Jade Institute.

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Bird and Belle’s Gluten-Free Chicken Soup

This is a rough guide to our soup since I did not take any notes while cooking. I sort of feel you can’t mess up soup, even when you use meat Jello as the base!

First: Make your stock following this Crockpot stock recipe. Note: the vinegar is key in this and really helps with drawing the nutrients from the bones.

Second: Chop your veggies. We used the following:

1/2 a large butternut squash peeled, seeded and chopped

1 chopped sweet onion

several cloves of the freshest garlic you can find (Farmers’ Market garlic is the absolute best)

some chopped celery and chopped baby carrots

A couple of cups of garbanzo beans because beans are both musical and good for your heart 😉 AND bump up the protein and healthy carbohydrates in your soup

Season to your liking

Simmer until the veggies are tender

Enjoy and know you are doing something good for both your body and the environment.


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A Different Kind of Adventure

It’s no secret this blog has been neglected for a long time. I’ve had friends and family inquire on the silence and I always respond with some kind of joke about how marriage is not very adventurous after one year.

This is a lie. Life has been adventurous, just not the kind of adventures that make for stellar blog posts. I casually mentioned my PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) in yesterday’s post as a way to stick a toe out of the proverbial closet. I did not expect this toe to prompt two readers to email about their PCOS and infertility journey.

“I couldn’t help but see your comment about PCOS and just wanted to let you know that my sister and I also have PCOS…” wrote a distant relative. This opened a long conversation about our infertility journey, and provided a rare opportunity to express our frustrations with someone other than our poor husbands.

Prior to this post I have leaked hints of my infertility on Facebook during National Infertility Awareness Week. Each time I go a little more “public” I’m find at least one email from a friend sharing her lonely and stressful journey through infertility.

The feelings relief and sadness when I learn that someone else is going through this are indescribable; I’m relieved to know I’m not alone and so very sad to know another woman is feeling the same devastation month after month.

According to Resolve.org, infertility affects 7.3 million people in the U.S., meaning 1 in 8 couples is struggling to conceive. Pardon my French, but holy shit this is a a lot of women. Why on earth are do we feel so alone? Probably because we are all hiding behind fake smiles and dodging inquires into when we are going to start a family.

Yesterday I hinted at the adventures of the past year; today I will lay it all out on the table. Don’t worry, I’ll leave out the gory details about cervical mucus, invasive procedures and stirrups.

Bird and Belle’s fun and quirky adventures in marriage have been overshadowed by 20 months of doctor appointments, hormonal roller coasters, invasive procedures, and ridiculously expensive injectable medications.

I wish that I could conclude that sentence with a joyful pregnancy announcement, but I can’t. As we close in on the two year mark of trying to start a family we are faced with more of the same. It’s been a long, hard journey for both of us. Especially Bird, who spends his days juggling math and trying to keep his wife from breaking down, or worse, verbally accosting the pregnant passerby.

I hope that by opening up here I can bring a little awareness about infertility to our readers. I hope to spark more positive discussions between myself and other PCOS/infertility sufferers. What I don’t want is ridicule and suggestions to adopt, nor am I looking for pity or prayers (although the prayers certainly could not hurt!).

More than anything, though, I hope to wipe away the dust that has settled on this blog and return to regular posting, because buried under all the hormones, tears and loss has been a lot of personal growth and more than a few hilarious adventures.

If you would like to talk more about our journey or PCOS, please e-mail me at SMagargee@Gmail.Com. 


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A Chickening

On Saturday morning Bird and I loaded up the car with a cooler and camera to visit Good Life Ranch in Liberty, Kentucky. Recently I decided to add chicken back to my diet as a way to combat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (learn more on PCOS here). This has not been an easy decision. For years I have preached against the woes of modern farming practices and the production of ridiculously large, hormone-laden, cruelly treated animals. My meat-free lifestyle has become a source of tremendous pride and a significant part of my identity.

These are an heirloom variety of chicken called “Naked Necks” that originated in Hungary. Geoff and Lindsey chose these birds for their good egg laying abilities and good taste. They are and active and personable breed, are good foragers and are immune to most diseases.

Then life threw me a gigantic curve-ball that left me poking through my fridge, trying to figure out what the heck to eat for dinner.

“WE CAN EAT CHICKEN!!!!!” Bird, who is a die-hard carnivore, said with glee.

“Ugh. I just don’t know…” I blanched.

“Well how about you find some happy chickens,” he suggested.

Cue obsessive researching.

I scoured the Internet for the perfect Kentucky farm that practiced what I had preached for so many years.

  • A sustainable farm no more than two hours from Lexington that is run by passionate people
  • Preferably a newer establishment where our dollars will truly help a small business and a local economy
  • No hormones or crazy chemicals being fed or injected into the animals
  • Animals who are allowed to live a good life before they land on your plate
  • Animals who are loved and tended to daily
  • And, most importantly, a farm that would welcome my husband and I at any time to visit the animals

When I saw Good Life Ranch’s website I knew it was the farm for me. After devouring the detailed information on the website I emailed the owners asking if I, one moderately crazy and intensely passionate animal lover, could pay their farm a visit. Within 24-hours we had set a time and I had informed Bird that we would be taking a little road trip. He put on his agreeable pants and played along (although I’m sure he would have much preferred to just grab chicken from the co-op one block away!)

Any farmer that cradles his goats is good by me!

Geoff and Lindsey McPherson are my kind of people. Both accomplished educators, Lindsey and Geoff left their jobs in San Antonio, Texas and purchased Good Life Ranch in 2010. Passionate about sustainable farming and education, they are working to grow their business slowly, from the ground up. The farm boasts free-ranging heirloom chickens, cattle, pigs, turkeys and rabbits and organic produce. In addition, the well-traveled McPherson’s are constructing real-life poverty simulations that will provide students from across the country with unique experiences and the knowledge to seek change.

As we trudged through the damp grasses, dodging the occasional cow patty and visiting the animals, Geoff and Lindsey explained their farming practice and passion for sustainable agriculture. As I listened, I became more comfortable with the decision to change my diet. I am not just picking up chicken labeled as free-range at an organic market. I am directly supporting a couple as they chase their dreams, supporting an industry I am fiercely in favor of and giving back to the local economy all while working to improve my health.

Honestly, the only better scenario I can think of is to have never gotten sick in the first place, but even then I would not be the strong woman I am today.

A side story: I have a friend who announced at one of our dinner parties, “I don’t dislike animals…I just feel they should have to wear pants.” I never really saw the logic in his argument until I was editing these photos. 🙂


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Sun-dried tomato & pesto chickpea salad

Pepita & Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooking For Health cookbook

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in boiling water and chopped
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
juice of 1 large lemon
1 TBS white Balsamic vinegar

Combine ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy

For the salad:

Combine pesto, three cans drained & rinsed chickpeas, two chopped red bell peppers and one 12 oz can black olives, sliced. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to liking. Chill and serve.


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The Great Kitchen Caper (i.e. where on earth have Bird and Belle been)

I can’t believe summer has come and gone! First, a quick recap of our summer in bullet points:

  • We had company and company and company. I washed more sheets and towels this summer than ever before. It was epic.
  • I went to Murray, KY and San Diego, CA on business. The first was about as exciting as one might expect. The second was quite a thrill (zoos, three-state power outage, delicious beaches and fun times with colleagues).
  • We went to Birmingham, AL for a very dear friend’s baby shower. She was super cute and super pregnant.
  • We went to Birmingham again to help the same dear friend pick out paint for the baby’s room (and to visit, of course!)
  • Bird went to Pittsburgh for a math conference. He did a lot of math, bought beer through a hole in a garage door, and had fun times with other math people.
  • We went to PA to celebrate the 4th of July with my family. My awesome brother and dad also came. Sadly, my sweet mom could not join us this year. Hopefully next!
  • We helped the Hines’ build a huge deck in their back yard. It looks a lot like a stage. We might need to do some karaoke on it this fall…
  • I went to Chicago for a weekend with several super fun girlfriends. We had great food, listened to a rockin jug band and purchased mustache art.
  • Bird did a lot of math and made good progress on his dissertation. Go Bird Go!

Whew! It didn’t seem that crazy when we were living it, but WOW what a summer! While not doing the above, we were either: washing sheets and towels (see earlier comment on company), chasing our cats, cooking, selling junk on e-bay and remodeling our kitchen.

Wait, what? Yeah, between summer company and travels we decided it was a GOOD time to begin gutting the kitchen. The kitchen renovation is about 1/2 of the way complete and is making us so g0sh-darned proud of our abilities (Palin Speak). I think the best way to illustrate our progress thus far is through photographs. But first, I want to share some of lessons learned thus far (with bullet points to save time because OBVIOUSLY I’m a busy woman):

  •  Remodeling a kitchen is a lesson in patience.
  • Ikea cabinets are awesome. They are easy to build, super easy to install and look really good considering their price.
  • Spend the extra money on the automatic door and drawer closing mechanisms at Ikea. They are amazing and make for great dinner party conversation. (Ha! We are THOSE people!)
  • Wiring is never a “quick project.”
  • The Borescope we bought to locate the mystery “stink stink stink” is an amazing tool when trying to run new wiring. Buy one immediately if you are remodeling your kitchen.
  • The Borescope is also a hilariously fun thing to use to gross out your significant other (think up the nose…)
  • Don’t buy the paint/primer combo. It sucks. Spend the extra time and prime with Kilz and then paint with regular paint (Olympic is my favorite brand and believe me, I know after painting almost the entire house).
  • Invest in good paint brushes.
  • Prepare to have the contents of your kitchen strewn about the rest of your house for weeks.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to make coffee using water from the tub faucet when your kitchen sink is out-of-order. (All our house guests are now going, “Oh crap! Did they make coffee for me with tub water??? GAH!)
And now for some before photos. These were taken in January 2010 so some improvements had already been made, but not many.

We will call this Wall 1 of the kitchen. On Wall 1 we have our sink, several cabinets, one super crappy dishwasher (that was replaced this year), a "home-made" glass cabinet and a terribly rickety butcher block that held the microwave. There were several times this collapsed on me and had to be carefully reassembled. You can also see the frightening collection of knives on the wall that makes us look like we have a problem. A scary, potentially bloody problem. I am pleased to report that most of these have found a new home (Goodwill) and the remaining few live in a drawer... like normal people.

Wall 2: Door out to the sun room, old tiny fridge with way too much clutter on it (minimalist Belle cringes) and a framed box front from Scott's Porridge Oats. Bad. Ass.

Now we get to the real horror: Wall 3, also known as "That Freakin' Wire Rack Wall!" It held all kinds of crap. I'm pleased to say that a large amount of this junk has been sold on e-bay.

Wall 4: My personal favorite - the huffing, puffing, stove of doom. I'm still amazed it did not blow us all up. It was also huge. And no longer white. And ugly. Also noteworthy is the shelf of crap, the over-powering fluorescent light, and all the utensils hanging from the wall. Too. Much. Clutter.

Now some during photos:

Wall 1: After a lot of yanking and swearing Bird finally got this cabinet out. Behind it we could see the array of colors the kitchen had been before it turned into Primary Color Central. Mmmmm, harvest gold and hunter green.

The F-ing Wire Rack has new purpose: to hold the ridiculous number of tools we needed for this project. Also, the new fridge is all happy and wrapped up in preparation for The Paint.

Behind the cabinets on Wall 4 we found some delicious (sarcasm) and super clean (sarcasm) old wallpaper. Also, meet my new stove!

I steamed off the old wallpaper which revealed the first cheerful thing about this kitchen (sarcasm) - mint green paint. I also spent a day patching the myriad of holes in the walls. My new stove had been wrapped up and I decided it needed a painters tape bow.

Our help. They were lazy and lounged the entire time.

And now this brings us up to present day. Please forgive the really low photo quality. Better photos will follow when more progress is made.

Here we are at wall No. 1 with the fabulous new upper cabinet. The rickety butcher block is gone and has been replaced by a temporary drawer unit. This unit will go away once the other bottom cabinets are replaced. Also, because I know you are dying to know but are too polite to ask: Yes, the tacky blue counter and red floor will be replaced! The sink is also sporting a snazzy new faucet. Ours died a slow and mysterious death (hence making coffee with tub water).

Sigh. This is my favorite view so far. The wire rack and small fridge are gone. Now we have a larger Fridge with a smooth front (I can't stand how dirty the textured finishes get), low-profile cabinets that add storage while not taking up a lot of space and beautiful white shelves to hold my collection of dry goods. Swoon. So white, so pretty. The walls are painted a rich brown with gray tones. The color is hard to appreciate in this photo. Also noteworthy: the new toaster that toasts in record time and a wind-up rhino which you might not be able to see.

Wall 4 features new cabinets and a wall-mounted microwave with vent. The new stove sits next to a tall cabinet that holds utensils and bake ware. On the stove are the glorious new pots we purchased with our eBay earnings. The trashcan will eventually be relocated and a corner shelf will be installed to hold the Le Creuset. NOTE: the color of the wall through the door is like WAY distorted by my crappy camera. We DO NOT have pink walls.

Another new cabinet. The basement door will be replaced with a neat and tidy bi-fold door. The current door does not open all the way and has a hole cut out of the bottom by the previous owners. The lower cabinets on Wall 1 will be replaced soon and then new counters will be added to all the surfaces.

And finally, a swatch of our new kitchen drapery fabric. I'm still debating what kind of window treatment I'll make. Any ideas? Oh, and you can see where I need to add a new piece of molding and finish painting the trim and wood paneling. Like I said, this is a work-in-progress!

And there you have it, folks! A summer recap and a photo journal of our kitchen renovation thus far! Bird and I have lots of exciting bloggy things to post in the coming weeks, assuming we don’t get more company!


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If video killed the radio star…

Photo by Belle. Chickens at the family farm.

… did Instant Messager kill the telephone conversation?  And did Facebook kill the lunch date? And did texting kill the written note?

My quest to be more with less has spilled over into social media. There was a time that I chatted with friends and family on the phone daily. There was a time that lunch or meeting for a glass of wine to catch up was a normal, weekly occurrence. It seems that in recent years these personal forms of communication have been reduced to quick “how are you” via instant messenger. Lunch dates with a friend to catch up have been replaced with a peek at their Facebook page and a quick post to their wall.  A paper invitation to a party has been replaced by an impersonal text message. A phone call with a family member has been replaced with a short, poorly composed e-mail.

While social media can be an absolute God-send to the busy schedule, it can also be stifling to a relationship. We are human beings with mouths, ears, hands and eyes. These are meant to be used together to communicate, not just one or the other.

While I know my life has changed since the carefree days of my 20’s when work was not as much a priority and I was not married, I am still the same girl. Why should I be communicating in such a drastically different way. Has all this technology made me a more complete, whole person? I suspect it has not.

What can I do about this? I can sign out of instant messenger and pick up the telephone. I can remove family members from Facebook and encourage them to phone. I can send a paper invitation for brunch rather than a text. I can bring back Wednesday dinner dates and Saturday lunch.

I can ask you to hold me accountable. Call me. I’ll answer. Write me a letter. I’ll respond.

I challenge you to consider how you communicate today vs. 10 years ago. Do you feel whole, satisfied and complete with your social media communications? If so, right on! If not, join me. Let’s do lunch.