Monday, January 31, 2011

worry gene

I come from a line of worriers.
When i was younger i worried a lot.
I mean, a LOT.
As i've gotten older, i've been able to manage and overcome my basic worrisome nature, but sometimes, sometimes it crops back up, sneaking concerns into the nooks and crannies of my brain. This week's quote from Eragon by Christopher Paolini -
"But you shouldn't fret about what has yet to occur. The only way the future can harm us is by causing worry."
speaks to my inner fretter. I like that when it says that the future itself is harmless it implies that we are the ones who hurt ourselves with concern. Don't worry about tomorrow until it is today cause today is tough enough.

phew... made it!

This year's New Years cards started from this paper:
  Yes, i am not normally a fan of orange,
 but it was more like a deep rust and i really liked the interlocking cream circles:
Look closely... mesmerizing, no?
 Plus i had found this super-great stamp -
  love the sentiment and it was only $1
The concept was nice and basic: stamp the words directly onto the awesome textured paper lining it up over top of a circle, add a fabulous round aurora borealis crystal for interest, write 2011 in one of the tiny knots and voila, done!
Simple, crisp and easy.
It was such a good plan that it was doomed to failure.
The wonderful texture of the paper seriously interfered with the stamp. I tried different colors - teal, silver, copper, burgundy, navy and black- in pigment, dye and watermark inks to no avail. You just couldn't read the words.
Okay, if i add just a few steps by punching out a circle in the paper and stamping directly onto the card underneath i could overcome the texture problem. Except that no color looked good with the paper.
Then i finally realized that the paper was 2-sided, with silver on the back.
After several trials i decided on bright pink ink for the stamp
(i had to actually stamp the image on to cream paper and then attach it to the card to make sure they were all lined up correctly) because i decided that without a pattern for visual interest i was going to use magenta staples for the number 11:
My cool AB crystals didn't match anymore so i returned them, but the cards still needed a little pop, so i went with an assortment of various crystals instead,
  since i like each card to be slightly different.
Though the final product looks almost nothing like the original design, it is still clean and simple (looking at least), but most importantly they were indeed finished (barely) in January!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

all on a winter's night

There's something about a snowy night.
It's quiet and still;
the whole world holding its breath.
 Every branch of every tree cloaked in dense whiteness - a frozen ermine coat; the darker bark outlined like leaf veins.
Crystals and flakes fall in dizzy patterns, making no sound where they land, joining the legions to cover every surface and blur the hard edges into soft mounds.
 I am the only thing moving about; all the other creatures that share my yard are sleeping or hiding, waiting for clear skies and sunlight. If this were rain it would be a storm, a violent tempest sending me scurrying for my own shelter.
But as snow, in the darkness of night, it is peace.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

... smelt of elderberries

For Christmas i received this lovely pyramid of homemade jelly deliciousness from the lovely, lovely Rea.
Concord grape is my favorite, favorite, favorite jelly ever, so of course she sent one of those. I also enjoy raspberry jelly on biscuits so she sent some black raspberry, which i am anxious to compare to red raspberry jelly. I like blackberries, but have never them as jelly so i requested one of those. I can not even image pears as jelly so i requested that one as well. Then there is the elderberry...
Besides the Monty Python quote, i'm not sure i've ever encountered elderberries. Sure i've heard of elderberry wine, but i've never seen it either. Maybe i remember a candle once that was supposedly elderberry. No, wait... that was teaberry, now that i think of it. Anyhoo, i've never seen or smelled an elderberry, much less eaten one. In fact, i had no idea where they even grow; for all i knew they are highly regional, like loganberries or gooseberries or thimble berries or something.
Good news for me, though; where ever it is that elderberries grow, my BFF found some and jellified those puppies.
For a January new thing i decided to give the mysterious elderberry jelly a taste.
To really highlight the jelly, i warmed up a yummy, soft potato roll to be the base of this test
Ready, set, chew!
So elderberries -at least in jelly form- taste like, well, berries. I mean, they have a totally unique taste, but you can tell that they are that type of fruit. I'd call the taste brighter than strawberries, sweeter than blueberries and rounder than raspberries. It was good. Different, but definitely good. But then came the real test: No jelly can be called a successful jelly in the Nikiverse unless it complements peanut butter; man, i loves me some peanut butter. How did elderberry fare in a PB&J? Delightful.
 In fact, the taste of the jelly really rose to the occasion when paired with the peanut butter.
Well done, Rea!
Thanks for the new taste.

It's a Deal!

Though my 2010 Resolutions are no more, i have decided to continue the at-least-one-new-thing-a-month thing this year.
In fact, i had so much fun doing new things big and little that i think i'd like to make it a goal to do a new thing every month for the rest of my life.
January has almost slipped by, but i did manage to get 2 new things done.
 I'm sure many of you are familiar with Living Social Deals, where every day a local business offers some sort of coupon to subscribers of the newsletter; as you can see from the list in that link, they have deals for cities all over the world. I've been getting the email for the Baltimore deals forever, but never bought one.
 Until now.
There was a deal on a local bakery's cupcakes for only $1 a piece. Who could could turn down $1 cupcakes? Now i have a prepaid voucher for a dozen cupcakes anytime in the next 6 months. It'll come in handy for a party or something.
Not to mention new.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

the perks

I've finally had a chance to go back out on the road after my long performance hiatus and was quickly reminded of why i love my job. It is like nothing else in the world. I mean, where else would you get tipped for a job well done with Uncrustables? mmmmm...PB&J...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I went out to clear my car from the first round of wintery mix today,
 in anticipation for the next, possibly worse front and found this:


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Feeling better is awesome.
 I am revitalized and full of ideas, inspiration and projects.
There is so much that i want to get done, so many things that fell by the wayside that need attending.
I am fairly bursting with the possibilities.
 I want to do everything and i want to do it now. This week's quote -
We must do only and always what we can to realize the debts we owe to those who love us and pay as we are able. - John David Anderson, Standard Hero Behavior
is a reminder to myself not to get so swept away in my returning zeal for life that i forget what is truly important every day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

They're like vampires, but you know, good ones

Red Cross calls me all of the time to set up donation appointments. I mean, all of the time. Sometimes it is the central office, sometimes the local office, sometimes the platelet office, sometimes it is a person, sometimes it is a recording, but one way or another, i get called every week. Plus, i get email reminders and even the occasional snail mail post card. These people really, really want my blood; not only am i the most common blood type in the US, i have a high platelet count and don't have a dormant virus that 70% of the population has, so they can give my blood to babies. With all of these constant reminders, it has been very stressful that i couldn't donate due to my health. Back in November i finally told the platelet people that i had to be removed from the donor list, but i've been waiting and waiting to see if i would ever be able to go back to whole blood donations.
I just didn't want to concede.
Guess what - Saturday i donated for the first time since last March! My veins were a little sketch so i have a wicked bruise, but otherwise all my levels were fine and i am green lit for donations! I am making the goal right now to donate whole blood 6 times this year. You have to wait 58 days between donations, but if i stay on schedule i should be able to make it. I normally don't get gold stars for donating, but if i reach my goal of 6 in one year, i will give myself 10 extra stars. Doesn't it seem funny that a girl who used to be terrified of needles (and still isn't that enthused by them) would be so excited by giving blood?

Friday, January 21, 2011

the early bird gets the Valentine

Last weekend i took 15 love cards to Objects Found; however, unlike the fall set, Halloween set and Christmas set, i remembered to take a picture:
Of course, i was already out the door on my way to the store when i remembered to take it, so the only background available was my car hood or my dirty porch ledge. Crappy background aside, you can see that i went for a balance of both traditional and non-traditional cards cause i figured that everybody's love is different. My favorite is the green and floral one; it's really detailed in person. On sale now at Objects Found, Frederick Rd, Catonsville.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

yes, this IS the short version

Matt and Sara got married 7 weeks ago, but i have all of these pictures edited and sized so by jiminey i'm gonna post them, but we'll do it in bullet points; after all, i still have Hawaii pictures to share and life just keeps happening so there is new stuff to attend to as well.
Hold onto your hats, here we go:
- the reception was at Cortland Mansion in Hagerstown, which is lovely, but is intentionally a blank slate:
- Sara (bride), Matt (groom), Carol (mother of the bride), Shannon (bridesmaid), Bella (matchmaker and bridesmaid), Christian (groomsmen), Avi (adorable baby) and Niki (me) decorated the room and mantle in cream, brown and burgundy/wine/red and created centerpieces of glass, cranberries, oranges, coffee beans, pine cones and candles:
- Sara, Tiffany (sister-in-law and bridesmaid) and Daphne (maid of honor) worked on flower arranging in several sessions over different days with flowers ordered off of the internet; everything turned out incredible:
- Niki, Bella and Sara made tulle and ribbon birdseed packets that were eventually put in beribboned baskets with adorable cows that Sara collects:
- paper-wise there were table cards to be made and candle favor tags to be made, plus everybody -and i do mean everybody- worked on the programs at one point or another; first they had to be finish, then printed, then reprinted, then math problems, then an entire third page that i personally screwed up, then more reprints, then we ran out of ribbon, then more reprints; thank God, that Daphne and Tiffany finally figured out a way to get everything right:
you know, a collage will be faster...
- MEANWHILE, Earl (father of the bride) and Andrew (brother and groomsman), along with people i didn't see cause i was otherwise occupied cleaned out the huge garage, shoveled and leveled wet gravel (it had been raining forever) and prepared for the pig roast:
from this to this
(shoveling gravel is yucky, but shoveling wet gravel is even worse)
- we managed to fit in Thanksgiving dinner,
 with Carol cooking amidst the chaos.
plenty to be thankful about
-Matt and Sara had baked the 8 cake layers earlier in the week and put them in the freezer, so most of Thursday there were thawing cakes everywhere:
- sometime well after midnight we got to making seven batches of butter cream, leveling, filling, coating and frosting:
  Matt demonstrates that smoothing butter cream involves paper towels - who knew?
- Sara decided that we needed more cupcakes, at 3am
- Daphne still needed to finish the veil, but Sara's modeling really captures how tired we all are at this point
- finished cakes were strewn about the mud room,
  cause there was no room in the fridge
-the pig roast piggie arrived along with equipment and guys to watch over the roasting around 3am, though i didn't go outside to take pics right then cause 1) it was dark and 2) i was starting to lose all sense of reality and finally crashed around 3:45:
- after the ladies' brunch and the guys' skeet shooting, everything was loaded to go to the church or Cortland with Niki, Linnea and Wade (sister & brother in law, bridesmaid & groomsman), Chris (brother and groomsman), and Chris (groomsman - yes, 3 of the groomsmen were named some variation of Chris) all taking loads along with Matt and Sara and her parents:
that's a lot of stuff
-there was some rehearsing:
- then back to the farm for delicious, cooked forever pork, plus lots of sides and salads made by Pat (stepmother of the groom) and Nan (grandmother of the groom) and pies made by Iris (aunt of the bride)
-smores were made with marshmallows the size of my fist, on super long sticks to keep us a safe distance from the flames
- i spent some time communing with cows
-there was a lot of love and laughter around wood spool tables and hay bale benches:
-three of Sara's friends surprised us with a Steel Magnolia's groom's cake
-there was a beautiful, meaningful wedding with all of the ceremony, homilies, music and communion done by friends and family; i have no pictures of it cause i was a bit busy but you can see them in the photographer's book here, where you will also find pictures of a lovely and fun reception, which i have almost no pictures off because i was quite a bit busy,
but i do know that there was posing,
and cake cutting
- Christian and Brian (groomsman) got Sara's truck ready, birdseed was thrown, balloons were released and Mr and Mrs drove off to the surprise wedding night location
The End
oh, wait - in my haste i forgot my 3 favorite pictures from the whole shebang:
-Matt was soooo sick and exhausted the whole week leading up to the wedding that one night while i was driving us back to the farm -in an ice storm, no less- he fell asleep in the most uncomfortable position i've ever seen:
poor guy
-but after the pig roast he went to the hotel, took a bunch of cold medicine and slept for more than three hours in a row so when i took him to church the morning of the wedding, he looked like the boy i know and love:
 hey, i'm getting married
-somehow there are no pictures of me with the Mr and Mrs on the wedding day (did i mention that i was busy?), but this one taken at the pig roast makes me smile because you can see that the work is all done and we are finally relaxed: