Friday Favorites


Shave Ice

Perfect Stress Relief

It has been a ridiculously difficult week at work. Like, stupidly hard and frustrating. I’ve been trying really hard to not let it get me down. But today…oh today, it was really difficult to just not give up. My boss and everyone in my department is really feeling the strain of this busy time.

It’s also a kind of employee appreciation week this week and so each day there has been something fun and special going on. One day we got breakfast, one day there was a health fair, one day they got the Kogi Truck to come for lunch. These things have been the one bright spot of each day this week. And today, we got Hawaiian Shave Ice. I don’t know if you’ve ever had it, but it’s amazing.

It’s kind of like a snow cone, but better, because the ice is fluffier and smaller. Plus, they have way better syrup flavors than when I used to get snow cones as a kid. There is guava and mango and orange-pineapple syrup. It’s topped with condensed coconut milk, which is really, really good. But my favorite part is that beneath the fluffy, snowy goodness, there is a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It is amazing.

So, as I sat outside in the gorgeous spring weather, with a breeze blowing on me and the flowers blooming (it is such a pretty day today), eating my cherry and coconut shave ice, I thought to myself that today wasn’t so bad. It’s beautiful out. I have ice cream and sugar and fluffy ice. Things could be a lot worse.

My good mood was ruined ten minutes later when I realized that there was no way I was getting out of here on time today, and I get to work on the weekend (yay!). But for ten sweet minutes, I felt very relaxed and at peace.

And seriously, shave ice is delicious. Go get some if they have it anywhere around you.

There is a significant portion of my work that I get to do pretty independently. By which I mean in a tiny lab, all alone, where I don’t have to talk to anyone. Depending on my day and my workload, this is anywhere from 50%-90% of the time I spend at work. Being an introvert, I don’t really mind that. I’m much less exhausted after work on days where I spend more time in my lab alone than on the days where I have to go to a lot of meetings and do a lot of collaborative work.

But sometimes it does get a little lonely, which is why I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m working. I have a lot of favorite podcasts. Many, but not all of them, are knitting related. The one I’m highlighting today is Heather Ordover’s podcast Craftlit.

I love this podcast. It’s structured so that the first bit of the podcast she talks about her personal crafting and shares news from the crafting community, and also a little bit about her personal life. But the second bit is what I really, really love. It feeds that part of me that really misses being in a literature class and discussing books from a literary perspective.

The point of Craftlit is that you can listen to books when your hands are occupied, so each episode of the podcast gives you a chapter or two from a book. So, slowly but surely, you make your way through some great classic literature. Heather, who was an English teacher and is a writer, also provides a lot of literary context and analysis of the book. She has a lot of knowledge to share and she does it well. (Honestly, I think I would have loved to have had her as an English teacher in high school). She also will share and discuss comments she gets from listeners, who have some really insightful things to say.

Since everything has to be public domain, all of the books and stories are older ones, such as Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and A Tale of Two Cities, but I really like that, because it has been a while since I’ve read many of these books. She has put out somewhere around 250 episodes, and I’m playing catchup by listening to all the back episodes. I’m currently in the middle of Little Women, a book I have always loved and have read many times.

If you’re a literature geek like me, I really encourage you to check out Craftlit and listen to some great books while you’re crafting or working or driving. As Heather says, “If you’re too busy to pick up a book, at least you can turn one on.”

Note: I’m starting a new thing. Each Friday, I’ll be writing a list detailing why I love something in life I find really awesome. Sometimes it will be about big things, sometimes it will be about small things. Sometimes it will be about really frivolous things. Sometimes it will be about really serious important things. I just want to remind me and you how much cool stuff there is in this world.

Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper

Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) – Mad Men – Season 6, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Ron Jaffe/AMC

Mad Men is back this Sunday, and I could not be happier. I’ve always had a thing for character-driven dramas and I have to say that Mad Men is one of the best I have ever seen. Here’s why it’s one of my favorite shows (It goes without saying that there are spoilers to follow):

1. I love the way that each episode stands alone and works as a short story, but that they come together to tell a larger story overall. The show is particularly masterful in the way it tells the story. Small details suddenly become very important. People you thought were gone for good pop up unexpectedly. Plot threads get dropped for years sometimes, only to be picked up again in ways you least expect.

2. I love the way the small world of Sterling-Cooper(-Draper-Pryce) is a microcosm for the sweeping changes taking place in society at large. And I love how the changes that happen at SC(DP) never happen because the powers that be decide that it’s simply the right thing to do. They don’t think “Peggy is really talented so of course she should be a copywriter” or “Joan has been instrumental to this business from the beginning so it makes sense that she becomes a partner” or “Yeah, cigarettes really aren’t great for you so maybe we shouldn’t be helping them sell” or “You know, it is about time we stop being such a white-washed company; let’s embrace equal opportunity hiring.” No, they always move ahead because someone is trying to spite someone else or play someone else. I like that because it makes the characters much more real and nothing feels like an after school special where everyone learns a very important lesson about equality.

3. I love that the characters are so well-drawn. They aren’t saints; they aren’t monsters; they are complex and fallible human beings who have complicated motivations for the things they do. I especially like that the show allows the women characters to be just as messed up and wrong and complicated as the men. They aren’t ciphers; they have their own motivations and get to be the center of the story. And the show does not shy away from letting things get very messy and complicated and letting beloved characters do things that are absolutely wrong and despicable sometimes.

4. I love that there is such attention to detail, especially with the costuming. I love vintage wear, and this show is just full of wonderful costuming. And they have really done their research with how fashions changed throughout the sixties and how the different age groups would style themselves. It makes it so much fun to watch.

As you can see, I highly recommend the show. All five seasons are on Netflix, and season six starts on Sunday. Will you be watching? Do you love the show as much as I do? Or do you not like it? Let me know in the comments.