Friday, January 31, 2014

Depression and praying it away

>>>Click here to read all the posts in this series<<<

Last week my boyfriend shared a list on Facebook called “10 Clichés Christians should stop saying.” The list, originally titled “10 Things You Can’t Say While Following Jesus,” was written by a Presbyterian minister named Mark Sandlin; you can find the original post of the list on The God Article. The list included such clichés as “Everything happens for a reason” and “God never gives us more than we can handle.” At the beginning of the article, Mark sums up so well the problem with these sayings:
”I think people who say these things are mostly trying to be kind, grateful and even humble when they say some of them. But if we really do want to be kind, grateful and humble we need to think about these sayings a little more – and then stop saying them.”

As someone who has depression, the saying “God never gives us more than we can handle,” is something that I have a personal dislike for. Again, Mark’s explanation for the problem is spot on:
”Ever tried saying this to a person contemplating suicide? No? Well, of course not.

Why? Because it is just wrong.

It's wrong for the reason that #10 is wrong and it's wrong because factual circumstances of living prove that sometimes this life does bring with it more than we can handle.”

The day after my boyfriend shared Mark’s article, a close friend of mine posted on her Facebook page that she was “very depressed” and “not sure what to do about it.” As my friend, and a lot of her family, identifies as Catholic, she received several replies referencing God and prayer. As Mark explained in his list, I am sure that those people were trying to be kind, however, they should have given more thought to their words and not said them. The various replies she received bothered me for different reasons, so, I will address the comments separately:

“We will keep you in our prayers!”

Perhaps I would feel differently about people offering to pray for others if I saw prayer in the same way most religious people do: That God works like the television show “American Idol,” and that the more prayers you get, the better your chances of “winning.” Offering to pray for someone implies that he/she is more likely to get his/her prayers answered if additional people pray for him/her. So, God won’t answer prayers if that person doesn’t have enough people who care about them to pray for them? Offering to pray for someone is putting in minimal effort without actually helping him/her at all. If you want to help someone that is depressed, do something to brighten their day.

“god never gives more than what u can deal with”

This comment bothered me for the same reason Mark said: If this was true, than there would be no such thing as suicide.


This one word was the extent of one of the comments. This one bothers me because it implies that my friend can pray away the depression. When I mentioned this to my boyfriend, he said “Well, at least she didn’t say you could pray away cancer.” Frankly, his comment infuriated me. Basically what he was subconsciously saying was that depression isn’t a “real” illness and that it is something one can conquer with willpower. The main reason I have kept my depression from the majority of the people in my life until last week is because that is how most people without depression see it; it is difficult for someone without depression to understand that just because the symptoms of depression are thought related, does not mean that the person can control the symptoms if they are just committed enough to feeling better. I do not mean to imply that a person with depression is completely helpless as to how they are feeling; of course there are steps those with depression can take to lessen their symptoms, however, there is a huge difference between lessen symptoms and no longer being depressed.

If someone tells you that they are depressed, and you want to help, please avoid the clichéd sayings. If you are religious, it is possible to mention God in a way that is helpful; instead of suggesting that prayer is a magic cure-all, perhaps you can try convincing the depressed individual that God provides the means (therapy and medication) to get better, and that it is important for them to make the step towards getting themselves help. A simple offer to help them locate affordable treatment will mean more to them than you can ever imagine; for someone that is chronically depressed, taking that first step towards getting treatment is harder than you could ever imagine.

You can read all my “Depression and…” posts by clicking here.

Fruit salsa with cinnamon chips

At my last job, one of my coworkers regularly brought yummy treats to work. One of those times, she brought fruit salsa with cinnamon chips. I loved it so much that I looked up recipes on how to make it, and made my own version.

Fruit Salsa
  • Dice up two apples, two kiwis, and one carton of strawberries
  • Stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • Let sit in refrigerator overnight

Cinnamon Chips
  • Spread a thin layer of melted butter or butter spread (we used "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!") on both sides of the tortillas
  • Sprinkle top side of tortillas with mixture of cinnamon and white sugar (I like to use an approximate ratio of 1 to 4)
  • Cut tortillas into wedges (it is easier with a pizza cutter)
  • Place wedges on a baking sheet in a single layer
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes in 350 degree oven

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Budget shopping on eBay

I have a bit of a shopping problem: when I get bored, I like to shop (mostly for clothes). You can see how that would have been a problem for me when I was unemployed for a while (significant free time + a lack of income). The main way that I found to deal with it, was to turn to eBay; you can get some amazing deals if you are able to invest time in scouring. If you are not a fan of used clothes, you can even find clothes with the tags still on them for a bargain. Here is what I did to make my future searches a bit less labor intensive:
I went to the "Women's Clothing" category and selected my normal clothing size, as well as clothing sizes around it (since clothing sizes vary by brand). I then entered a maximum price of $15 (or lower, depending on what I could afford), sorted the auctions by "Ending soonest," and saved the page to my bookmarks.
This allowed me to easily hunt for deals whenever I was feeling the "shopping bug." If you are going to do much shopping on eBay (or just on-line, in general), I highly recommend you take your measurements and save them somewhere on your computer. This lets you get a good idea of how something will fit you without being able to try it on; a deal is obviously not a deal if you can't wear it (of course you may be able to have it altered). If something you are interested in doesn't have measurements, you can request them from the seller if the auction isn't ending too soon. Also, don’t forget to take the shipping cost into consideration when you are determining whether to buy something.

There is just something so energizing about finding an awesome deal with a little "elbow grease," that it has forever changed how I buy clothes. Here are my recent purchases on eBay:

Charter Club white floral dress (like new)
$10.00 + $5.60 shipping

Elephant wallet (new with tags)
$2.50 + $5.95 shipping

Spense black floral dress (new with tags)
$12.50 + $7.95 shipping

Twin popsicle brooch (new in package)
$3.10 + free shipping

Something I just recently learned about eBay now that I have began using it more often, is that they have a “Follow this search” option:

This option allows you to be notified by e-mail when new items are listed that match your search terms; or, if you prefer, you can turn the e-mail notifications off, and just use it to save your searches within eBay.

I wish I had known about this in May 2012 when I saw Bettie Page’s "Alika" dress on Girl With Curves' blog; I fell in love with the dress, but I just couldn't bring myself to spend $150 on an item of clothing. I searched for it manually on eBay on and off for over a year until I found it for a price I could justify in August 2013, admittedly still after much internal debate; it is not that I didn't think the dress was worth it, it is just that I’m cheap, and I didn't think I would get enough wear out of such a special dress. You can see my "Alika" outfit posts here.

Bettie Page "Alika" dress (new or worn once, I can't remember)
$105.99 + free shipping

Image from: Bettylicious

In addition to eBay, I also found some clothing deals at the Salvation Army, and at Gabi Fresh's closet sale.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Schnapps on the Rocks by Miss Chiff (video)

Last month my boyfriend Timmy and I had the unique experience of participating in a video shoot for Miss Chiff's song "Schnapps on the Rocks."

We got there pretty late, so, we didn't get to participate much, but it was a fun experience. The video was released yesterday, and it is awesome (much like Miss Chiff herself). If you like the video, please give Miss Chiff's page a "like" on Facebook.

Depression and...

First off, I want to thank those who commented on my Living with depression post or sent me a message about it. When you share something so personal publicly, acknowledgement is appreciated.

I found writing the post to be quite therapeutic; I feel that it allowed me to be introspective in a more meaningful way than when I just contemplate things in my head. Writing about my experiences publicly also provides me with a sense of accountability for improving my life (through increased social interaction, exploring and enjoying Chicago, working to develop my job into a career, etc.).

I have decided that there is a lot more that I want to share regarding depression, therefore, I will be writing more posts on the topic; the posts will be called "Depression and..." I became even more aware of how much depression is misunderstood after a discussion with my very smart boyfriend, Timmy; that will be a post of its own, coming up soon, titled "Depression and praying it away." All the posts relating to depression will be tagged Depression and..., so that you may easily find (or avoid) the posts.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

GabiFresh's closet sale at Blair Chic Boutique

I follow over 80 blogs on Feedly and I would guess that at least half of them are fashion blogs. Some of my favorite blogs, like Dressed Up Like a Lady and Syl and Sam, I follow because I love that their unique sense of style is completely different than my style. GabiFresh, on the other hand, is someone's closet I would love to raid. Lucky for me (and other ladies in Chicago), I got to do just that today; Gabi (who currently lives in Chicago) is moving to Los Angeles, so, she had a large closet sale at Blair Chic Boutique.

I ended up purchasing two items at Gabi's closet sale. Before I get to that though, first some back-story. Last April I went to Gabi's shopping event at Bloomingdale's:

While we were waiting for Gabi to come into the Bloomingdale's event, I perused some of the dresses in the department. One dress by T Tahari really caught my eye. Well, when Gabi came in, guess what she was wearing? The dress I had been eyeing! I debated whether I should buy it because it was expensive (on sale for $100), and I wasn't sure how practical it was in terms of my lifestyle. My boyfriend Timmy talked me into it since he could tell how much I loved it.

The dress was available in both their plus size line and their regular size line. I tried a size 14 on in the plus size line and it was a little too big. A size 14 was the smallest they had in their plus size line, and they didn't have the dress in the store in the regular size line. One of the Bloomingdale's associates told me she could order the next smaller size and have it shipped to me. The problem is, the associate didn't understand that sizing is often different between standard size lines and plus size lines; a size 14 in a plus size line is usually larger than a size 14 in a standard size line. So, she incorrectly assumed that a size 12 in the standard size line would be the next size down from the size I tried on (size 14 in the plus size line); as a result, the dress ended up being several sizes too small for me. In the end, I felt the mistake was a sign of sorts that I shouldn't buy the dress; so, rather than reordering the dress in the correct size, I just returned it.

Okay, fast forward to today: Guess what I found at Gabi's closet sale. THEE dress. It only cost me $30, and she only wore it once (at the Bloomingdale's event). The dress is too large on me, however, for $30 I don't mind doing some tailoring!

The photo of the dress from Bloomingdale's web-site does not do it justice; it looks much better when worn snug like Gabi wore it (though, maybe not if you don't have Gabi's awesome curves).

My favorite part of the dress is the hot coral pink exposed zipper down the back (which awesomeness is also not captured well in the product image photo). I wish I could find a photo of the back of the dress with Gabi wearing it because she was seriously rocking it.

Anywayyyys, my second purchase at Gabi's closet sale is cute too, but since it isn't something I've been wanting for nine months, my level of excitement is much more subdued. It is a bit snug, but I think it will work with a shapewear top under it. I paid $20 for it, and it still had the tags on it. It is this Prabal Gurang for Target shirt:

I almost bought this Prabal Gurang shirt too, but I decided against it since it has a similar feel to it as the shirt above. I am regretting it now that I went back to Gabi's blog post where she wore it (she looks so bad ass in it!):

P.S. On an unrelated note, I am no longer unemployed. I am excited about this job because it feels like the kind of job I can develop into a career.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

DIY fashion harness

I have been wanting a fashion harness for quite a while, however, I couldn't justify buying one when I could easily make a custom sized one. I really like how the harness looks with my bra, but I'm not sure I'm sold on how it looks over clothes. If I do wear it over clothes to go out, I'll probably add a wide elastic belt under my bust; I'm hoping that will make it look less like a boob hoist. Please excuse the blurriness of some of the photos.

The harness only cost me about $4 to make. The neck hole is a bit too tight, so, I plan to alter it to make it adjustable. If you attempt to make your own harness, I highly recommend making the "waistband" and neck bands adjustable; it is tricky to get them tight enough that they don't slouch, while not getting them so tight that they dig in. I bought the elastic off eBay and it was stretchier than I would have liked, so, it flops around a bit; I recommend using a firmer elastic if you make one yourself. If I make another harness, I would like to experiment with different sizes of elastic (or maybe fake leather), and larger d-rings.

My harness design was inspired by this bra that I saw on Vintage Vandalizm's blog:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Living with depression

Self portrait from 2006

Timmy and I have been talking for the last few months about leaving Chicago and moving back home. Originally I was the one who brought up the idea. One of the main reasons we moved to Chicago four years ago was because I loved the idea of more job possibilities. What I wasn't aware of was just how difficult it is for someone without at least a bachelor's degree to find a "good" job in Chicago. The competition here is so tough that my associate's degree might as well just be a high school diploma. I plan to go back to college to obtain my bachelor's degree, but it just isn't in the cards for me right now.

A few months ago I made the decision to leave my job without another job lined up; someone at my workplace was falsifying time-clock records (removing time that employees actually worked), and the management did not think it was a serious matter. I realized that if I wanted to be happy, I could no longer work somewhere that did not have appropriate expectations of their employees. I also felt that if I stayed there, I would be signaling to the management that their lack of action was acceptable. It has made for a tough few months because I have been determined to not just accept the first (or even third) job that I was offered, but rather to take the time to find the job that is right for me. Being unemployed for so long is something I have really struggled with; several times I have questioned whether finding the right job for me is even possible in Chicago with my current education level. Not having the day-to-day interaction of work, or the funds to go out much had left me feeling depressed and lonely. As much as I love Chicago, I began to question why I was living so far away from some of the people I love the most if my job opportunities here were not greater than they were back home.

Normally I wouldn't share this much personal information on my blog, especially since my blog can easily be found by potential future employers through my Facebook profile, however, something today propelled me to write about this; perhaps it is because keeping some of these things to myself has left me feeling more isolated. I had even considered creating a separate, anonymous blog to share my more personal posts, but it seemed disingenuous; as if I wanted to publicly pretend that life is perfect.

I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. I do not recall many specific things from my childhood, however, one potent memory has stuck with me: When I was about five years old, I was at the park flying my kite with my family. At some point my kite was stuck in a tree and my parents tried to remove it. Eventually I told them I wanted to go home, so that I did not miss my favorite television show (Sharon, Lois, and Bram). After watching the show, we returned to the park to get my kite down, but it was gone. My mom offered to buy me a new one but I told her that I did not deserve one. The memory has stayed with me because it seems like such an unusual reaction for a child. I have always held myself to unfair standards.

Last November I had become so depressed from being unemployed that I could no longer function. I do not say that lightly. I often could not find enough energy to load the dishwasher, or walk two blocks to the grocery store. I would spend hours curled up under covers crying. I had to push myself to shower and get dressed. How was I supposed to find a job that would make me happy when I could barely get out of bed? I had been aware for a while that I could not feel better on my own, but it was difficult to find affordable medical help when I had negligible energy. Over several weeks I called numerous mental health facilities before I found one that I could afford that was accepting new patients.

The first medication I tried (something I had been on before), did not help at all. Fortunately the second medication I was prescribed has helped significantly. I have seen a huge change since I started the medication six weeks ago. I have been getting dressed, planning yummy meals, drawing on the computer, sewing, taking part in a Miss Chiff video shoot (!), and just all around being silly. The best part is that I now feel that I have control over my life. I am hopeful that I can obtain a "good" job, or at the very least, I can obtain a job that has the potential for advancement into a "good" job. Now I have the drive to put the work into building friendships in Chicago that are as wonderful as the ones I have back home. I do feel guilty though for not wanting to leave Chicago after getting my family and friends back home, and my boyfriend, hopeful that we would be moving back home.

Baked penne with spinach, roasted peppers, and Parmesan cheese

I pin a lot of recipes on Pinterest, but rarely do Timmy and I actually make them. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, we had to give it a try. The result was so yummy, and the leftovers tasted just as delicious! Here is what ours looked like:

The original recipe has a lot of fat, so, to cut down a bit on it, we left out the bacon, and only used about half the cheese. I am the kind of person who adds more cheese to cheese, so, you can trust me when I say you won't miss the extra cheese. I also love bacon, and didn't miss that at all either. I think the next time we try this recipe, we are going to half the roux (flour+butter), to cut down on more fat; this will result in a wetter end result, however, I don't think I will mind.

This is what RecipeGirl's verision looked like:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wii Console for sale

Timmy and I are selling our Wii Console. If you are interested, or know anyone that may be, you can check out the auction here. You can view my other auctions here. Our Wii auction is for:

  • Wii console (with sensor bar and necessary cords)
  • One remote
  • Two free games ("Wii Play" and "Game Party")
  • Both operation manuals
  • Monster brand AV cord

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What I wore - Timmy inspired

My first outfit post of 2014 and my first outfit post in four months! When the weather gets cold, I really don't want to stand outside for longer than I have to; certainly not without a coat. Since we don't have a good place for photos inside our apartment, my outfit posts tend to go on hiatus.

While the title of this post? After I put this outfit on, I realized it seemed like a girlified version of my boyfriend's favorite clothing combination: dress shirt + tie + sweater.

The white specks in the photos is snow.

Where is the best place to shop? Your own closet. I've owned the red dress shirt and elephant bow scarf for years but had never worn them. I bought the shirt to wear to work but it just wasn't realistic for the line of work that I was doing. When I bought the scarf, I didn't pay attention to the dimensions and thought it was a regular length scarf; as much as I love the scarf, the length/width doesn't provide as many options for ways to wear it.

Silly face.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2013 Outfits in Review

Is it too late to do a 2013 outfits in review post? I don't post many outfit posts, so, instead of doing the traditional least/most favorite outfits, I'm just going to round them all up. Click the links above the images to visit the post for more photos of the outfit.

2012/2013 Pin-up inspired NYE

High-low Hello Kitty

Leopard and magenta

Red, purple, and blue

Turquoise elephants

Leather and stone

Cinco de Mayo

Orange and pink stripes

Dress from Retro

Strawberries and stripes

Iowa State vs Iowa game