slubs in the city

Slub (adj): Maverick; unorthodox; independent in behavior or thought.


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slub of the week: Random Image Searchers

I really like to know about pretty much everything that goes on in the world.

That’s why I love that WordPress has an entire section devoted to detailed and minute site statistics. I check that baby every day. And let me tell you, I have learned some very interesting things about the people who stumble across slubsinthecity.

For instance, based on the image searches that lead you to click on a photo from our blog, I have learned that you all really like miniature pigs. Our top two most-visited posts were written by the amazingly talented Kathryn, a fellow slub, and both extol the numerous virtues of the miniature pig. (Check out those posts here and here.)

You also really like Tex Mex. I completely understand.

So it is you, Random Image Searchers, who have been honored with the Slub of the Week award. Congratulations! Even though you don’t like to use capitalization, punctuation, proper grammar or correct spelling when you type in your image searches, you have provided me with countless minutes of entertainment and for that I am thankful. Please accept a hearty pat on the back and a light dose of highly constructive criticism from me as your reward.

In order to highlight your more prolific life choices, I have decided to list my top 10 favorite search terms that have guided you through the rabbit hole to slubsinthecity. They are listed in no particular order (although the more I think about it, #6 is quickly becoming a personal favorite). Thank you for your incidental patronage.

[The number of people who have typed a particular term into any given search engine and have somehow landed on this blog is placed in parenthesis next to the term itself.]

1. smack the slubby (1)

I don’t know what this means, nor do I ever want to learn what it means.

2. what is slub cotton why is it everywhere (1)

According to dictionary.com, slub cotton is a loosely twisted roll of fiber prepared for spinning. Additionally, a “slub” refers to a slight irregularity in yarn produced either accidentally or purposely by knotting or twisting, or by including uneven lengths of fiber in spinning. In slubsinthecity terms, slub cotton may also describe a slubs’ clothing choice (examples of slub cotton are stretchy pants, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and flannel shirts).

And it’s not everywhere – you’re just being overdramatic.

3. cute miniature baby piglets that are real with the name bella in the back round.of the pig (2)

This is the most incredibly detailed search slubsinthecity has yet to see. It also sort of hurts my eyes. I can only assume that the same individual used it twice; otherwise, it is truly freakish that two separate people typed this exact term into a search engine and somehow both stumbled upon this blog.

4. pig in red rain boots not blurry (2)

I’m incredibly sorry that you’re both having such a hard time finding a high-resolution picture of a pig in red rain boots. I sympathize with how frustrating it can be to locate the image that you want in the vast ocean that represents internet photography, and I sincerely hope whichever picture you finally discovered was much more satisfactory than previous blurry photos of pigs in red rain boots. Find peace my friends.

5. tiny racing pigs with coats (2)

The three most important questions here are: can tiny pigs actually race against each other, or are their tiny legs incapable of such competition? Also, would racing in a coat prove too cumbersome and impede your chances of winning the tiny pig race? And finally, did you mean to suggest that we are all simply tiny racing pigs with coats in this grand illusion called life, or were you two really just hoping to find an image of swine scurrying around in unnecessary clothing?

6. moroccan tagine exploded (2)

I really hope that your Moroccan tagine didn’t actually explode. That would be heartbreaking.

7. mex-tex food (2)

…so close. Please improve your comprehension of fine cuisine and come back later.

8. minicher pigs (3); also minicher pig (6)

It makes me sad to know that 9 people in this world misspell the word “miniature”. I apologize, but you are no longer allowed to visit this blog.

9. sexy piglet (4); also mini pig sexy (4)

No guys. Just no.

10. bacon pig in rain boots (5)

What does a bacon pig in rain boots look like? My assumption is that once a pig becomes bacon, it no longer has feet and thus has no need for boots.

UPDATE: I typed “bacon pig in rain boots” into google. This is the first image that popped up:

oh em gee. pig in boots. [image credit: here.]

That is not yet bacon. That is a picture of what is still very much a pig wearing absolutely adorable green rain boots.

Nevertheless, congratulations again, Random Image Searchers, on being named the Slub of the Week. You guys are weird.

con amor,

shan


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share a smile

It’s been one of those weeks. You know, when it isn’t necessarily a bad week, but nothing seems to be quite right? Unhappy events take place. Like when your pancakes won’t fry up, so you turn the batter into a (very flat) cake that tastes mysteriously like cheesecake and you eat brussel sprouts for dinner instead. Or when you try to be creative and knit an afghan, but you end up starting over four times, before a failed 3 hours at trying to fix it forces  you to start over for a fifth time. Or when you forget your lunch at home, even though you took the time to pre-pack it the night before like an adult. Or when it rains, snows, and sleets and the sky is perpetually grey. Or when you realize that supervising people is  really difficult. These are just possibilities of what may happen to you. And you may be a bit flustered or upset. And you may decide you need a weekend away in Chicago to deal with it.

Let’s just say that has essentially been my week, with a few more misplaced keys, cards, and jackets thrown in there to mix it up. Yes, to you this may not sound like a difficult week. It really hasn’t been. But it has been…off. Until today.

Yes, today I forgot my lunch and stepped in a few puddles, but good things happened also. I showered and did my hair before work. I made it to work on time, even though I had to scrape my windshield. Rush hour wasn’t bad at all.

Most importantly, I learned today is Share a Smile Day AND National Pig Day! Today is about being happy and pigs. Today is a good day.

Although I love pigs, I am going to focus on smiling instead. Today, I smiled. I smiled a lot. Much more than I had all week. I hadn’t really smiled until I begrudgingly drove myself to Panera to get lunch today. I held the door open for these two women. They were extremely grateful, and I smiled saying, “not a problem.” They both then proceeded to walk through the door at the same time. The door frame was a bit smaller than the two of them. They got wedged in the doorway. It was hilarious. We shared a laugh. I couldn’t stop smiling. It reminded me of this Ted Talk:

Rod Gutman, the CEO of HealthTap, talks about the hidden power of smiling. It is absolutely worth the time to watch him speak! Here are some cool facts about smiling  that he mentions:

1. Babies smile in the womb. HOW COOL IS THAT? Well, at least it looks like they are smiling and content.

2. Children smile over 400 times a day. Have you seen people with more energy and joy than children? Probably not. Children definitely know their way around a good smile.

3. Smiling is contagious.

4. The brain stimulation of smiling is equal to eating 2,000 bars of chocolate or $25,000. Smiling is a lot easier, cheaper, and healthier.

5. Speaking of health, smiling can make you healthier, even lowering your blood pressure.

6. Smiling makes you look more competent. New meeting tactic! No longer will I look confused, I will instead smile. Easy.

So share a smile today. Look at miniature pigs online. Read a good book. Reconnect with an old friend. Commit a random act of kindness. Smile with someone who looks downtrodden today. You never know whose day (or week) you might be brightening.

And I would like to say thank you, ladies at Panera. You have had me smiling all day. Even at the prospect of ripping out my knitting tonight and starting over. Thank you for sharing a smile with me and truly uplifitng my week!

with a smile,

Kat


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let’s talk greenbacks.

Two summers ago I read a book by Barbara Stanny called “Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart about Their Money”.

In chapter one of her book Ms. Stanny recalls how, on her twenty-first birthday, her parents revealed to her the trust fund established in her name. “‘You’re a very rich girl, Barbara,’” her father explains at the breakfast table. Stanny goes on to recount: “‘ You’ll never have to worry,’ I remember my dad saying that morning. It was the only advice my parents ever gave me about money. ‘Don’t worry.’”

At 21, my experience with financial management was a bit different than Stanny’s. Shockingly enough I wasn’t handed a trust fund document the morning of my twenty-first (although I did climb Mt. Sinai that morning, arguably as cool as any other birthday celebration). Far from neglecting to give me money advice, my parents have tried to instill within me the type of financial wisdom that I’m sure many children my age have received from their own parents. My mother taught me how to use and balance a check book. My father periodically discussed the fate of his stocks and the nature of his retirement account. I was given an allowance as a child and encouraged to handle it wisely. I was gently required to get a job when I was 16 and from then on began to pay for more and more of my expenses, like clothing, entertainment and gas.

When I was a senior at St. Olaf, my father instructed me to personally handle taking out a few student loans to pay for that year of college. I was in and out of the Financial Aid Office so often for a span of two weeks that the advisors began to remember my name and could recall my specific case without the prompting of their notes. It was an incredibly frustrating process, but I learned more about student loans in those two weeks than I had ever learned before. And then, after graduating, my parents informed me that I would thereafter be more or less financially independent.

I am a blessed child. My mom and dad have given me every comfort I could have asked for, and more – very, very few children in this world are nearly as lucky as I have been. Still, like Ms. Stanny (and probably like many of you), I’m finding that it’s a struggle to own my financial stability.

Money is a taboo topic, and yet it makes the world go ‘round. There seems to be a direct correlation between wealth and prosperity, between poverty and difficulty. Like Kat mentioned in a previous post, poverty isn’t simply a lack of financial capital; poverty is very much also a lack of opportunity. To evade poverty, to provide for ourselves and our families, to do and experience the things we enjoy, we find employment in part to reap the monetary rewards. And yet, as a society, we are notoriously stupid with our financial lives.

My experience with Thrivent has opened my eyes to this reality. Part of the beauty of our organization is our commitment to the concept of education. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to tell people that you can provide a learning experience for them based on financial wisdom and best practices; often, we require scare tactics to get us to listen. The facts detailing the ways Americans spend their money provide no shortage of shocks to the system. For example, did you know that…

  • …77% of the workforce surveyed by CareerBuilder in 2010 was living paycheck to paycheck?
  • …according to a 2010 Harris report, 34% of Americans are completely without retirement savings – even though we spend, on average, 20 years in retirement?
  • …in October of 2011, Americans owed $2,457.5 billion total in outstanding consumer credit?

So if our money situation is so universally bad, why do we as a people tend to ignore our financial wellbeing?

Part of my job at Thrivent is to promote a financial literacy program on college campuses. We instruct our student leaders to educate their peers on being wise with their finances now, especially because they’re young and have a lifetime to cultivate the right money habits and make decisions that will secure their financial future. It sounds boring, but it’s vitally important. I know the wisdom of my own advice – I’ve taken major steps, like creating a checking account separate from my parents’, maxing out my 401k match, and establishing an automatic payment for my monthly rent. But I still don’t have my own credit card. I don’t save nearly as much as I could each month for major expenses that will be coming fast down the pipeline: graduate school, a mortgage, a family. I’m lucky if I balance my checkbook bi-monthly. I don’t know what my account balance is half the time – I just know it’s above zero. I’m pretty much a walking hypocrite.

Very few people like to deal with their finances. Like so many things in our life we assume that, if we don’t pay attention to it, perhaps our financial problems will just go away. We spend money that we don’t have in order to obtain the standard of living we think we deserve.

So, is there a solution to our ignorance? I’d like to think so. But the point of this post isn’t to provide you with the answers—it’s to kick-start your own search.

Here are some resources I’ve used to help me begin my own journey to financial wisdom. Who knows – they might prove useful to you too…

smartypig! so cute. so financially wise.

con amor,

shan


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real small furry pink pigs

This is a post about pigs. Take two.

None of us slubs thought that our first post about pigs would generate much excitement. We thought it impossible that  everyone could love pigs as much as we do. But you, dear readers, do love pigs! You love them a lot. In fact, you love them so much that pig search terms are the number one search engine terms to refer people to our blog. Some of these terms include (sorry for the grammatical mistakes, I did not write these): miniature pig(s), baby pig, mini pig, pigs as pet, miniature pigs pictures, pet pig that stay small forever, tiny baby piglet, miniature hog, and my two favorite: fuzzy baby sleepy pig and real small furry pink pigs.

So, because you, our readers, asked for it (okay, you didn’t specifically solicit us to write another post about pigs, but we are going to assume that you won’t mind) here is a post about my two favorite pigs. But before we start, here is an adorable pig in rain boots.

Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web

Ah. The classic children’s book by E.B.White about a pig and a spider. I suppose Charlotte, the spider, is the true hero of the story, saving Wilbur from being slaughtered and whatnot by her insane ability to weave words in her web. But no one likes spiders. Wilbur, on the other hand, is an adorable pig, who overcomes adversity and America’s love of ham to triumph and, um, well, not be slaughtered. He also makes friends with spiders. Look at that: promoting literacy, eliminating racism, saving pigs. Now, that’s some book.

Piglet from Winnie the Pooh

Now, if you have never read the books by A.A.Milne and have only seen the Winnie the Pooh movies, stop reading this post and go enjoy the literary genius of these stories. They are not just for children. Seriously. Go… Piglet loves haycorns and is Pooh’s best friend. He is timid and shy, but still hunts woozles and heffalumps. He is kind and considerate, letting Owl have his house when it blows down. He is awesome. Here is my favorite quote about Piglet:

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh,” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet.” ” Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” –The House at Pooh Corner A.A. Milne

But why, are we slubs, so fascinated by pigs? Why are we so in love with the adorable creatures? Now, I could try  to connect these wonderful pigs above back to the slubs’ greater world ethic: we like literacy, teamwork, and overcoming adversity. We value friendship and sacrifice, etc. But, no.

Sorry for the disappointment, but this is not why we like pigs.

We like pigs because they would make a most unconventional, yet unusually convenient apartment pet. This is why:

1. They come in miniature form. Perfect for our duplex. Perfect for our love of miniature things: mini cupcakes, mini shepherd’s pies (ask Laura), other mini pies… Okay. We like mini food. We would not make our mini pig into mini bacon though. Why? Everyone wants more bacon, not mini bacon.

mini pig. keeping clean.

2. Pigs are clean animals. Between our love of stretchy pants (read: love of slubbin’ around) and our busy lives, the slubs barely have time to clean up after ourselves. Yes, being an adult is hard. But pigs can be house trained and, according to wikipedia, keep themselves “exceptionally clean.” We would become cleanliness winners. Maybe we could teach the pig to clean the bathroom.

3. Pigs are smart. Apparently you can train them to do fantastic tricks.  Further research on the all-authoritative internet  told me that we can train our teacup pig to do the following: sit, bow, play the piano, play golf and soccer, slam dunk a basketball, jump through hoops, push a toddler’s pram (finally. someone to walk the baby), shake hands, and wave hello. Slubs could have our pig entertain guests, do laundry, put on puppet shows, play competitive sports, etc.

slubbiest pig.

What more do you need in a pet: small, clean, smart. We could even buy our pig a pair of stretchy pants so it could join the slubs on the couch to watch 30 Rock. Pigs are the slubbiest of all creatures, whether they are our fictional friends or our real pets,  and we love them dearly.

Wishing you the most love-filled, slubby, pig friendly (try vegetarian for your family meal!) holiday season,

Kat

 


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anything mexican is fine by me. also, tagine.

Confession: I can’t cook.

My experiences with the kitchen are as follows:

  • Beyond macaroni and cheese and Ramen noodles, my ability to create anything edible is negligible.
  • One time, I tried making pancakes. I got the dry ingredients everywhere and accidentally left bits of egg shell in the batter. Also, I tried heating up syrup in the microwave but forgot to open the top of the bottle and it exploded. There was syrup everywhere. The microwave smelled like syrup for quite some time. (Which I argue is not actually a bad thing.)
  • Another time I tried making flan. It burned.
  • If I can’t find a measuring device, I can’t follow through with the recipe. The idea of going rogue in the kitchen is disquieting.
  • I have come to accept leftovers as a necessary part of life, but I have no clue how to combine them creatively into anything savory.
  • Speaking of savory, I constantly crave salt…but only ever feel like baking cookies. I’m sure this contradiction is a large part of the reason I haven’t seen much success in the kitchen.
  • I’m not very creative when it comes to making my own food. Whenever I brainstorm ideas for dinner, the list goes as follows:
    1. Pasta
    2. Sandwich
    3. Pancakes
    4. (dead void where creative brainwaves should be thinking of option 4)

So really, I don’t understand the kitchen. I’m not “domesticated” in that sense and I think my mom considers it somewhat of a maternal failure on her part. Yet there remains hope – while I can’t cook for anything, I have a deep and undeniable appreciation for the culinary arts.

I love food.

I’m a particular fan of Mexican. A few days ago Kat, Anna, Joe and I had quesadillas for dinner, and a comment was made that went something along the lines of “Anything Mexican is fine by me.” This might have been in response to Anna’s love of refried beans, but regardless, the sentiment is there and completely true. My parents raised my brother and I on TexMex and if it has ground beef, cheese, peppers and or/jalapeños, tortillas, and taco seasoning, my tummy is 100% guaranteed to smile.

While abroad in the Middle East, my stomach unfortunately didn’t do much smiling – 24/7 travelers’ sickness will do that to you, word to the wise – but that didn’t stop my experimentation with food. Let me tell you a secret: Middle Eastern food is positively divine. And it was never in short supply, as the people we met on our travels showed their hospitality through feeding us borderline inappropriate amounts of food. Pushing larger and larger amounts of potatoes and vegetables onto my side of the communal plate was a favorite game of my Moroccan host grandma. This tendency was universal to nearly every Middle Easterner who sheltered any of us poor unassuming American students, and as a result my fellow TIMErs and I quickly perfected an eating style fondly known as the Moroccan Hunch. This slightly embarrassing tactic involves leaning over your plate in a Neanderthal- like squat and shoveling extreme amounts of food into your mouth. It is often coupled with a hopping motion if you want or need to quickly make room in an already impossibly full stomach for more food. The Moroccan Hunch is neither graceful nor socially acceptable, but Middle Eastern food is that good that I’m willing to bust it out whenever necessary.

What it all comes down to is this: I can’t cook but I love food. And food is a way to spread happiness and community. I love sitting down to a well-prepared meal with my housemates – it makes our duplex feel like a home. (Slubs in general are food people.) And while Moroccan grandma and I were separated by almost every personal descriptor, including age, weight, language, culture, and standards of hygiene, we both greatly enjoyed a good bowl of couscous and eating a Ramadan cookie every day. (Or maybe 6 on grandma’s part.)

So I would like to make the personal vow to become comfortable in the kitchen. And I vow to chronicle my progress in that endeavor, at the very least so I can look back on this blog and think about what a square I was at 22. I can’t realistically say I’m ever going to be a good cook, and I’ve made the I-will-defeat-you-kitchen speech plenty of times before with zero follow-through, but since moving out and pretending to be an adult I’ve come to realize it’s an important skill to have. Plus my children will hate me if I only ever make them macaroni and cheese.

I leave you with a picture of Moroccan tagine:

con amor,

shan


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Slub of the week: Miniature Pig

Straight Slubbin’ (Shannon and I got to pet a baby piglet, who was less than a day old, at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. It was possibly the most adorable creature I had ever seen. So small, so pink, so fuzzy!)

A never-ending conversation in our house is about what kind of pet we should/could buy (although in reality, we really shouldn’t get a pet). The options have varied from wiener dogs to ducks to chickens to goats. After our fair excursion, we decided a pig, most likely miniature to better suit our apartment, would be an excellent option. And what slubby creatures pigs are.

Great Slubby Pig Facts (thanks to our friends at wikipedia)

1. Pigs use their snouts to forage for food in the ground. All slubs know how to obtain food quickly and efficiently, and are not ashamed to use any means to do so.

2. Pigs are extremely intelligent. So are slubs.

3. Pigs can be trained to perform tricks. Slubs have been known to perform such illusions as making entire cakes disappear.

4. (We choose to ignore the fact that pigs have been used to keep restrooms clean by, well, you know…)

5. Pigs can graze at pasture, like sheep or cattle, which reduces their environmental impact by decreasing grain inputs. Slubs love the environment.

6. Pigs are very social animals, often snuggling with their other pig friends while resting. Slubs cuddle. In their stretchy pants.

7. Apparently pigs sleep all the time. Sometimes they forage for food. Slubs want.

So here’s to you, miniature pig, for being cute, for sleeping and eating all you want, for being intelligent, for rocking the curly tails, and for being the slubbiest creature this week!

-Kat