Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gold Stars for Grown-ups

I didn't go back to WTMD today.
I didn't make it to Red Cross, either.
 Instead i did laundry and sorted through storage boxes in the sun room. As i was moving box #563 it occured to me that being an adult kinda blows.
I mean, kids get gold stars in school and rewards for good grades. Sometimes you'd get extra allowance for taking on more chores. I remember George saying on her blog that Gaz earned her first Barbie by conquering potty training. Little kids even get prizes in their cereal.
Where are my gold stars?
Where are my prizes, people?
Adults are expected to do everything right all the time just because they are suppose to. We work our jobs and serve our communities and care for our families and maintain our homes because that is what you do in civilized society.
Now i know some people would say that being an adult gives you the right to buy whatever you want, whenever you want. Perhaps it is the deeply ingrained Protestant work ethic speaking, but buying myself something cool just because i want it seems pretty indulgent. Plus, you have to HAVE the money to buy stuff, right? In my monthly budget i give myself a personal allowance for movies or jewelry or gummi worms or what have you, but trust me, it is a small amount that i consider to be preventative maintenance for my mental health.
What i am talking about here is something you have to earn, something that is a reward for doing the things you might not really want to do. I'm not talking about things you do to be a functioning human like being sure your socks match, making your bed or flossing and i'm not talking about the things you do to be a better person like writing your grandparents, tipping the pizza man or donating at the Red Cross.
No, i'm talking about getting up early to do crunches every fricking morning before you get in the shower or remembering to bring the recycling home from work so that it doesn't barricade your desk or swiffering under the bed to get the ginormous dust bunnies instead of just cleaning the floor around the bed.
Well sometimes i don't feel like taking the trash out.
Sometimes i want to just throw away my yogurt containers instead of rinsing them for recycling.
Sometimes i want to tell civilized society to bite me.
That's right society; i'm talking to you - bite me!
But of course, i wouldn't really do that.
That is not the Niki way.
So i have hit upon the solution : gold stars for grown-ups. Not actual gold stars, mind you; i like gold stars as much as i like glitter ponies, but i am talking about something a bit more substantial. Over the summer i got massages on a pretty regular basis as part of my life reset/ stress detox regiment. But now that i am back in my real life there is little time and even littler funds for such extravagances. It is the perfect carrot to dangle on a stick in front of my inner 6-year old. I have devised a reward system that allows me a massage for every 150 points earned. I wanted the system to be reasonable and attainable, but not ridiculously easy, so it should take between 6 weeks and 2 months to reach the goal. That is enough time to save the money for the massage and really have to work at the goal, but not so long that i get disheartened.
This is totally doable.
It is important to do the right thing because it IS the right thing, but sometimes you gotta reward yourself a little, too. Now i just need to find a gold star goal widget for the blog. I'm off to sort, shred and recycle junk mail, people. (worth one point)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thank you for calling; My name is Niki

This is the last week of working the weekend/ having Monday and Tuesday off for me. I spent most of the day volunteering at WTMD answering phones for the Fund Drive. You might recall that i've done this on several occasions before, but it has been at least a year and half because of work. It was nice to see some people i recognized, but there were also a few changes. The coolest one is that they rig up a DJ station outside of the booth, right next to the volunteer phone bank so that we are right next to them as they broadcast. Having spent 3 years in college radio it was fascinating to watch. Today they also had three local Baltimore acts in to play live and you know how much i loves me some free, live music. First up was Cameron Blake who came with a cello, violin and keyboard. sigh... cello; it really is my favorite stringed instrument. Then there was a singer/songwriter named Paul Masson who had a beautiful voice; he wrote a love song about being away from Baltimore and how much he missed that city that is fabulous. (and he gave all the volunteers free CDS - thanks Paul) Finally, 2 members of June Star (who i saw open for Sarah Borges) played, showcasing some nice double guitar work. I am thinking about going back tomorrow after sleeping in and going to the Red Cross. It is Ticket Tuesday and i saw the list of show opportunities they have available for contributions. If you love music consider contributing and maybe even get some "free" tickets in the deal. Plus if you listen tomorrow you might hear me laughing away in the background or maybe you might even talk to me on the phone when you call.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stir Crazy - 2

As the day wears on more drawings are added.
Thank goodness tomorrow is our last day in-house.

Stir Crazy?

September is traditionally a slow time for outreach.
Plus i cut back on bookings because of the new staff.
Plus we are helping cover the floor of the museum.
All of this adds up to the team spending a lot more time in the building than to which we are accustomed.
I think it might be getting to them.

Friday, September 25, 2009


No, this doesn't mean that the four new team members are somewhere in the building using gravity, liquid nitrogen and/or hand tools trying to figure out ways to break items advertised as unbreakable; why do you ask?

A post you think is about scones, but really isn't

I got home from the gym at 11pm to find that the banana i was waiting to ripen to make pancakes had passed ripe on its way to mushy madness. I knew it wouldn't make it another day and had to be used immediately. Wouldn't it be lovely to mix up some banana scones? i thought to myself.
There are several things wrong with that thought:
1. i don't always like scones
2. who talks like that?
3. i don't think banana is a traditional scone flavor
4. i don't have any clotted cream
5. aren't you supposed to serve scones with clotted cream?
6. What the heck IS clotted cream?
7. why would you eat any food with the word clotted in it?
7. i don't have a scone recipe
None the less, i was not to be deterred. I figured scones are a bit like sweet biscuits so i could adapt a biscuit recipe, a banana bread recipe and a cookie recipe to get what i needed.
Hope springs eternal.
Anyhoo i grabbed the Bisquick, made some calculations, created an interesting batter/dough and got 8 banana baked goods of some type in the oven. It was then that i noticed the top of the bisquick box said For freshness, refrigerate after opening.
I've never noticed that before.
Of course, in my house the box never stayed around for long because we kept all baking goods in Tupperware.
 My mom never refrigerated it.
My grandma never refrigerated it.
Should i be refrigerating it?
I paced around for a bit and then put the box in the fridge.
Then i considered how the Bisquick being cold would change baking times so i took it out of the fridge.
But it does have fat incorporated into it; perhaps it can go bad - back into the fridge with it.
But how could my grandma be wrong? She was the best cook who ever lived - back out of the fridge.
By the time the banana cakes were done i had spiralled myself into a frenzy. I spent more time worrying about what to do with the dang box than i had on rewriting the recipe that used the box.
 The baked creation was tasty and a consistency that did not resemble scones, biscuits, cookies or cakes. I can't really describe it, but i enjoyed eating them.
In the end, i left the Bisquick out of the fridge.
What do you think?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

i like making a mess

With all of the craziness around this place the last few months I haven't spent much time in the studio. Finally i had the chance to sit down this week and get some stuff done. Which means i made a mess. Dontcha love making a mess? Like anyone i go through creative phases and last night i was making layer papers, a decoupaging technique that i really rocked about 5 years ago. Each piece has to dry for at least 2 hours, but some need up to 12 hours of drying time. I had to give up and go to bed when there was no space left to set out projects to dry.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

fire burn and cauldron bubble

Yesterday was the Autumnal Equinox and the official start of my favorite season. Though it is still the mid-80s this week it won't be long before there is a chill in the air, punkins by the roadside and stews for dinner. Last week i was making chicken noodles (how much do you love the $5 rotisserie chicken at Sam's Club? Eat it hot, then make sandwiches, then chicken salad, then boil the carcass for soup - all for $5!!!) and was mesmerized by the bubbles. I mean, at one point after stirring i found myself just staring at pot. Then i felt compelled to take pictures of it There is something reassuring about the smell of simmering stew and the steady pop, pop, POP of the bubbles. sigh... i love you autumn

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CHALLENGE! Week Four Update

Oh woe is me... During Week Four of the CHALLENGE! i was struck down with a nasty summer cold that sidelined me for most of the week. In the most pathetic showing ever i only logged 35 minutes of cardio for the entire week. sigh. It makes me sad to end on such a dismal note, but what can you do? The CHALLENGE! did its job, however; Erin and I both worked out more than we would have otherwise. Once she posts her Week Four total, i'll give the final CHALLENGE results even though we all know who is cooking for whom!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Whip out your inflatable cutlass!

It's that time, again, people. September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. It is a good excuse to wear your eye patch, use the word wench in polite conversation and discuss the importance of Vitamin C. Squeaky Monkey decided he is unfulfilled as the first mate of my team and is trying to stage a mutiny. But it is hard to be intimidated when he is smiling and wearing a pink bling heart eye patch. Do something fun today like putting pirate gold in your co-worker's mailboxes. It's not every day you have a good excuse to be wacky. Unless you're me, of course; i don't need an excuse.

Friday, September 18, 2009

i still get paid for this

Joy and Rapture! Not only did i get the clean bill of health this week, we started programming for the year. I am not a desk person. I need to be out and about. I need to have variety. I need to get paid to go to playgrounds. Speaking of which... i was cleaning out my photo files and found a lunchtime adventure from March that never made it into the Nikiverse. It was the day before i left on the cruise; by the time i got back from vacation, dealt with mom's health emergency and blogged all 972 posts from Disney i'd forgotten all about it. So in honor of being back on the road [HAZZAH!] here are some pictures of former team member Carrie and current team member Amy along with yours truly at the AWESOME playground in Pennsylvania. The first thing we noticed was the sheer size of this place; i think the park is almost the same size as the town. The towers and platforms go on and on, linked by any number of climbing, jumping, hopping and/or sliding activities. There was an enclosed tiny tots area with smaller interactives, including a slide the same langth as Carrie and a fabulous "Mom Swing" where you can relax and watch the children hard at play. (check out the great train painting around the border) They really utilized every inch of space by tucking swings and such in nooks and crannies to be discovered by kids of different sizes. But for us the coolest things were the various fun skill elements of the playground; instead of just climbing and running there were balance and strength pieces that were challenging even for these kids. As an added bonus, it is almost worth the drive to York to see the interesting decorations and paintings all around the park. Is that a polka-dotted goose wearing a bow? Is that a snake in a necktie? As you are climbing and sliding and running and balancing and falling (if you're me) you might come upon a startled bunny in a cubby soooo cute or a stoned protesting bear What?!?!? It was like the painter was bipolar : nursery rhymes one day and PCP hallucinations the next. You gotta take your favorite kid (even if s/he is 35) to this playground, even if you don't get paid to be there like some of us.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

CHALLENGE! Week Three Update

Week Two was so awesome that i immediately followed it with a crappy Week Three. Between the holiday and starting the weird work week i only hit the gym 4 days out of 7. Blech Anyhoo, i logged 85 minutes which i guess is better than a stick in the eye. How'd you do, Erin?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Breaking Health News

Went to Dr. Cool yesterday. All lab tests within normal range. Clean bill of health given. All restrictions lifted. Rejoicing in the streets. Film at 11. (not really)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Working weekends

I am off of work today (Monday) because i worked this weekend. For the month of September my museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, with no part-time staff. That means all of the full-time staff are Wed-Sun employees for three weeks. During that time we need to get our jobs done, plus help fill in the holes in the floor staff. There are people at work who bitch and complain about it, but i'd rather work a few Sundays than be unemployed. Plus it is an opportunity to learn about other programs and departments. For instance, on Saturday it was grey and a bit drizzley. As we walked to the cafe for some lunch i saw that we were still running Segways outside (you can buy a ride on a Segway - $7 for 10 minutes) and wondered aloud who in the world would be on a Segway in this weather. Looking closer i realized the answer was the President of the museum! Later in the afternoon i took the team upstairs to learn how to ride Segways and how to man the Segway desk. Luckily, new team member Sam has actually worked in the museum for 5 years in another program and has covered Segs before. I handed training over to her A Segway works because of a gyroscope in the base. If your weight is centered over the gyro you remain still, but if you shift your weight forward or back it tilts the gyro and you move. Mike was nearly busting to be first, happy to wear the helmet if it meant he could get on NOW. Sam was an excellent teacher both of how to ride a Segway and of how to handle guests I was really nervous about trying it. I'm not sure why, but i could imagine myself flying down the steps and into the Harbor. So being a good leader, i had the rest of the new team go first Thumbs up, Megan! Elise enjoyed it, but was a bit unsure of stopping. No more putting it off. I really believed i was going to make a fool of myself on Day Three of training, but i stepped onto the Seg and loved it I guess all the yoga has paid off, because it was super easy to control my balance. If i could ride a Segway all day i don't think it would get old. The only bad part is that we have a governor installed on the models at the museum so that you can't go faster than 4 mph. I know it is important for liability and visitor safety, but i wanted to race! After everyone had a chance to ride a few times, practice getting on and off by yourself and help others on and off of the Segs, we got ready to go inside. Then team member Amy showed up (she'd been covering the floor for Public Programs and then at lunch) so i got a chance to do the full spiel and train someone how to ride Did i mention that we were getting paid during this time? That it was actual training for our jobs? Some days i really love my life. And how did the team feel about it?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meet the Beatles

... or rather the new members of my team. I went from a full team to half a team to a full team in 2 months. It has been the craziest, fastest turn around i've ever seen. On Thursday i had FOUR new people start. I've never trained four at a time and it is interesting, to say the least. Here are the folks who will start showing up in crazy lunchtime pictures here in the Nikiverse (l to r) Elise, Sam, Megan, and Mike I don't think they realize what they are in for.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Terror on the highway

So i'm on the DC beltway, minding my own business, enjoying the day and taking the S-curves as fast as traffic will allow when i come upon this
Why would you do that to a girl?
I almost crashed from fear.
I think i should have been able to pull this bozo (teehee) over and give him a citizen's citation for atrocious taste and mental anguish.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho

After 3 months of enforced work reduction (stupid restrictions, stupid metabolism) I am back to work for real. Today was the first day of a full 5 day work week for me - the first in almost 2 months. I am excited because i have FOUR new team members starting tomorrow, but i am also a bit trepidatious. The doctor-ordered sloth has really done a number on me. My body is now used to plenty of recoup time and six hours of sleep a night. My old way of life was an endurance test; i don't know if i am up to it any more. Then again, it is after 6pm and I am just now having lunch. I think i'll be fine.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I just saw an ambulance, lights blazing and siren blaring, enter the city's garbage incineration facility. Don't even think about what kind of accidents could happen with giant trucks, trash and fire. ewwwwwwwwwww

Monday, September 7, 2009

CHALLENGE! Week Two Update

I haven't fallen off the Earth; i'm hanging with my friend Colleen in Arlington and we've been very, very busy relaxing. I've watched more movies and spent more time at the pool this weekend than in the previous month. It's awesome. But, i have managed to peel myself off of the couch every day long enough to keep up with the CHALLENGE! It was a good week; i didn't miss any days (E - my previously logged frowny face will actually be changed to my Rest Day) and made up for the missed day last week. My time still isn't amazing, like Erin's, but i am pleased to be right on goal for myself. In Week Two i logged 145 minutes of cardio. How'd you do, Erin?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Inaugurating the deck

Jason and Kate P recently added a deck onto the back of their house. Coming off of the breakfast nook, it is large enough for a table and chairs, the grill and a storage seat. Last night I went over for dinner and got to be the first visitor to enjoy on the deck. Hi! Here's our deck! It is the first time i've seen a deck made of a triple combination of materials : wood supports, plastic composite planks and metal railing inserts. It all worked together to create a rustic feel. Plus, i really liked the feel of the composite on my bare feet - no splinters for me. By far, my favorite part of the deck was the grill bump-out Clever, no? It was a lovely night to be outside and everyone seemed pleased with the new eating venue, except possibly Ophelia who stared through the screen door totally unamused at the separation. Thanks for dinner, congrats on the deck and i like my steak medium rare.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tiki Leilani

Right at that moment between summer and fall Maryland has a few beautiful, perfect days where it is sunny and warm, but there is a hint of breeze that brushes away the humidity. On days like that you have to do some combination of have a picnic, read books outside, climb trees, wax poetic in your journal, go kayaking and sip rum. Guess which 3 i picked. I decided to take some homemade watermelon sorbet and douse it with Captain Morgan, making a Spicy Watermelon Daiquiri. Since i have been trying to use all of the glasses i've collected over the years i thought it was the perfect opportunity to bust out a Tiki Leilani. I found these in a crazy, over-crowded junk shop about 7 years ago run by a woman named Belle who was 78 years old, if she was a day. There were 4 of these heavy ceramic tumblers fashioned like a female Tiki in a cardboard box with some belts under a clothes rack next to some shoes. They weren't tagged so when i held one up and said to Belle How much for the glasses? she shrugged and replied How about a dollar a piece? SOLD! When i moved 3 years ago and got rid of 40% of my belongings the collections were all severely pared down. I was only allowed to keep 2 of any glass set. Most of the extras i gave to charity, but a few that i really loved went to homes; 2 Leilanis went to the Hollands in Texas. This is the first time i used one of mine and i must say the heaviness of the glass did a great job keeping that daiquiri cold. Plus look at this face... who couldn't love that?