Thursday, August 30, 2012

Where do i find overalls?

The Catonsville Art and Crafts Festival is next Sunday (Sept 9th for you locals) and i can feel myself gearing up, getting excited by the deadline. I really do thrive under pressure.
Though not my favorite scientist or inventor, Thomas Edison did sometimes have a way with words, so this week's quote from him speaks to exactly where i am in life:
The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work.

Night of the Hunter

Dear Mr/Ms Hunter -
    I appreciate you warning us all that you are in the vicinity, on the prowl.

From the awesome paint job to the fanged licence plate holder to the hood horns I can tell that you a person to be taken seriously. Thank you for making me hit the brakes in the middle of this parking lot and nearly pee from mirth.
I hope your quest stalking the wily Happy Ending Sundae was fruitful and delicious.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gettysburg getaway

*note added at the end on Aug 30*

For the mini-retreat last week, Ron used a travel agent to find The Lodges at Gettysburg. Neither of us had ever heard of them because they are only a year old.
Set on the side of a hill about 4 miles from downtown, it was the ideal place for both rest and being productive. We were in a Captain's Lodge named aptly Ohio (room types are all military ranks and individual building are named after states that participated in the battle). The decor was rustic, but featured all modern conveniences like flat screen, WiFi and an iPort.

The great room had awesome peaked ceilings with exposed beams and a ceiling fan over the ginormous bed (no lie  i had to take a running start to jump up into the bed).

There was a desk under one window where i set up camp with another table i brought from home.
Did i mention that i was serious about getting stuff accomplished?

On the other side of the great room by the back door to the porch was a comfy chair perfect for napping or curling up with a book and some wine.
Did i mention that sometime getting stuff accomplished means giving yourself permission to take a much needed break?

Mayhaps you noticed the charming little fireplace in the corner.
It didn't give off any heat, but made a perfect nightlight at bed time.

Next to the fireplace was the kitchenette which was functional (mini fridge, microwave, dishes and a sink; plus they had a recycle bin which made me smile), but also sported a breakfast bar with a window where Ron set up his work station.

Speaking of making me smile, the bathroom was done in rough hewn slate tile so it felt like you were showering in a really clean cave and the water pump into a basin sink was a perfect touch.

The Lodge itself, plus its proximity to both town and the battlefields made it ideal for our quick getaway, which was by turns productive,

(dinner one night was at a colonial tavern in the basement of Dobbin House where i had spit-roasted chicken by the light of a courting candle)

(the crescent moon setting in Venus' Belt over Oak Ridge and McPherson Ridge as seen from one of my favorite spots - the Peace Light)

(the largest monument on the battlefield is understandably from Pennsylvania, where i found out that over 34.5 thousand boys from that commonwealth alone were involved in the battle; btw, Ron is at the top of the monument waving to us - i marked him for you because  a white t-shirt against a marble dome doesn't really stand out)

and relaxing.
(the weather was perfect on our back porch for a little nap complete with sleeping bag and music)

The Lodges also offer continental breakfast, meeting rooms, a full service spa, a stocked catch and release pond and a bonfire pit. I definitely recommend it.

NOTE: for the lovely ladies tasked with keeping me on course ;-) here is an update -
I finished all four piles of sorting, got all of the beads separated (though ran out bags at the end so a few types are still clustered together), designed a few necklaces and read a book. I did not get the earrings made that i wanted to, but came home knowing which ones i wanted to design with first so i'm calling that a win. All-in-all not bad for 3 days if you consider that we touristed one day and went outlet shopping another.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

how to know there is a toddler in the house

Flashlight on the floor,
shining bright though it is noon.
Only Dash knows why.

40 While I Was 40

*note added on Aug 30*

With all the summer upheaval i never reported on my 40 While I Am 40 project.
Having a set of tangible goals that covered everything from art to hobbies to travel to health posted in the studio staring me in the face every day really inspired me to try harder throughout the year.
It was also a great learning experience in how to set goals for myself; NYResolution #3 Set reasonable goals for myself was a direct reflection of this project. In fact, upon examination i realize right now that all 4 of my NYResolutions for 2012 came from this project.
 In setting up the 40 i would make 1 goal something that would take 7 months to finish. That is great for long range vision, but it made the list impractical to finish. There are many goals that i worked on, but wasn't able to complete. I've come to the conclusion that the only way i could have finished the list was to not sleep or have a job.
But, with full disclosure, i have to admit that some of the goals that might have taken 10 hours didn't get done either because they were so small they got lost in the shuffle.
All in all, it was a valuable experience though i don't foresee a 41 While I'm 41 list in my future.

NOTE: in case you are curious here is the updated list, but it only reflects tasks completed; there are seven others (To Be Read shelf; visit siblings; volunteer hours; local see/do; blog posts; credit reduction; $ for bday celebration) that were worked on, but not finished.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

someone in the marketing department is brilliant

Take all the mistakes,
repackaged with a cute name:
People will buy them!
Why was i surprised to find out that this exists?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ravioli doesn't come in a can?

Last week fTM Miriam had me over for my favorite kind of dinner: interactive.
She showed me how to quick-stuff raviolis using wonton wrappers.
This might be old news to many of you, but it was a revelation of epic proportions to me.
I thought that to make ravioli my choices were pasta machine, frozen and Chef Boyardee.

Miriam had pre-made a ricotta-herb filling so all we needed were the wrappers, a spoon and some water.

It was as easy as wet the edges, add the filling, push out the air and seal it shut.

I just love dinners that you help make.

Miriam cooked the raviolis in batches for 3 to 4 minutes and then served them up in red sauce with sausage, garlic toast and sauteed swiss chard (my first time for that leafy veggie as well).
Not only was dinner delicious it was easy enough that i could do it in my itty bitty little kitchen!
Thanks, Miriam!

Speaking of delicious new meals, last week Jami and Will had a bunch of people over for ratatouille.
WOW! They served the traditional veggie stew untraditionally with couscous and goat cheese. There are no pictures because we consumed the tastiness like ravenous wolves. It was so, so, so, so, so so good. Thanks, Will and Jami!

Also, thanks to all of my former co-workers that have gone out of their way to stay in contact with me. Lunches, dinners, and emails, oh my!
 I feel so blessed to not be alone on this adventure.

Monday, August 20, 2012

bookstore fail

... sigh

finding focus by changing locations

This week's quote from Neil Gaiman's Coraline is a direct answer to the quote about getting myself on track:

It is astonishing just how much of what we are can be tied to the beds we wake up in in the morning, and it is astonishing how fragile that can be.

This week i am waking up in a beautiful lodge in Gettysburg, PA.
 (more about that later)

Ron planned a little retreat for himself between the end of camp and the start of school, then he invited me along.
I packed four bags of piles of crap that need sorted, crafts that need finished, necklace pieces that need designed and beads that need earringed.
Being in my house, surrounded by so many possibilities was overwhelming, but here i have a finite number of things to work with and am finding it much easier to be productive.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sara and Matt's shower

Since the newest member of the Nikiverse (fTM Matt's baby boy) is due in 5 days i should probably post the baby shower pictures from June. It was a surprise shower thrown by Matt's sister-types (1 sister, 2 step-sisters and 1 eventual sister-in-law).
ready and waiting for the parents-to-be

Sara had been told it was a surprise 60th birthday party for Matt's step-mom so she was really, really surprised. This pic is blurry, but i had to include it because it makes me laugh that the poor girl arrived at her own party carrying strawberry-lemonade cupcakes and a strawberry birthday cake.

As with all showers there was food and family and fun that is pretty much self explanatory so let's go right to the pictures:

Steps Noelle and Erika help put out the food with Linnea, including the amazing Kit-Kat wrapped cake with marshmallow flower topping, Banana Split trifle and chocolate covered strawberries; siblings, grandparents, aunts, cousins, parents and the one random Niki dug into the grub with seating in the kitchen, living room and back porch.
Present time!
Sara in the hot seat

Matt's niece Hailey helped out

baby cloths made by the grandma-to-be, Sara's mom

Pop's lovely lady, Emily made this earflap hat

it was fun to have guys at the shower; Matt seemed to enjoy his diaper cake

I love seeing a bunch of generations together celebrating their connections to each other

and am honored to be included and treated like a member of the family.
Good luck and congratulations to Sara and Matt!
he's so proud that he managed to pull off the surprise

while i was away?

I'm home from housesitting.
It always takes a little time to readjust. Things seem to not be quite the same as i remember leaving them; there are little surprises like the laundry i swore i did before i left is still dirty and there are leftovers in the fridge that i don't remember eating the first time.
This is my kitchen sink:

a few unwashed dishes seems normal for me (though i have no idea when i used that big honki' knife), but what in the world is glittering in the drain strainer?

Wha...? Whe...?
Now THAT just confuses me.
Do you think carnies might have been squatting in my apartment while i was away?

Monday, August 13, 2012

unforseen silver lining

The last time all of my nails were long at the same time was...

Chemicals hurt nails;
losing my job made my hands
much, much prettier.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

and this is why i am the city mouse of the duo

I'm watching a friend's house and she has a nice little garden by the front porch.
It's modest - maybe 50 or 60 square feet- but well loved, properly attended and productive enough that it needs checked daily.
Today's bounty was 1 cucumber, 1 tomato and 5 jalapenos, plus 2 zucchini that i checked and decided to leave on the vine a few more days. The whole operation might have taken 2 minutes or so.
In that time i got EIGHT mosquito bites.
8 bites in 135 seconds!
Can you imagine if i tried to actually garden for real?
Hat's off to my BFF and others like her who grow their own food and milk their own cows.
Thank God for grocery stores and roadside stands!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

the only wrong action is inaction

The hardest part of working at home for me has been scheduling.
I am a deadline person.
I am a girl who thrives under pressure.
I procrastinate. If there are 3 weeks to get something done I will think about it and plan for 2.5 weeks and get everything done in the last 3 days.
There are so many hours in each day now that i am not a job 7-11 hours each day.
Making myself get up in the morning when there is no meeting, no 500 children waiting for me is difficult.
There is so much freedom that it is kinda hard to pin myself down.
I want to do everything at once, so sometimes find myself doing nothing instead.
I never thought this would be easy, but i am surprised at just how hard it is to have the discipline for myself.
Which brings us to this week's quote from Norman Juster's infinitely quotable The Phantom Tollbooth:
"You'll find," he remarked gently, "that the only thing you can do easily is be wrong, and that's hardly worth the effort."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Ocean Breeze

Our Alaskan cruise at the end of May left from Vancouver, BC.
Douglas and I decided to get there a day early to explore and be well rested for the cruise.
He wanted to stay in a bed and breakfast; I was in charge of finding one.
Do you wanna guess how many B&Bs there are in Vancouver?
We were arriving late at night by train (from Seattle) and leaving via the cruise port plus wanted to be able to explore without having a car while staying within a certain price range; that is a lot of criteria. I was talking to my wonderful BFF about trying to find the right place and she volunteered to do the research for me. Dontcha love her?
After spending i don't even want to know how much time on Rea sent me her top three choices and I went with her top pick, The Ocean Breeze Bed and Breakfast. Located in North Vancouver it was a 15 minute taxi ride from both the train station and the port.

Run by Margaret and her husband, the beautiful house is on top of a hill so there are a lot, lot, lot of steps (especially at midnight after a full day of cross-country travel), but once you manage to get all of your luggage up there the elevation allows for an amazing view of the city across the water.

There are several common areas, including the kitchen and a piano room. Each suite has a different decorating theme. Rea chose the Romantica for us because it has a sunken tub and you know how i have a weakness for bubble baths. Somehow we don't have any pics of our room though there are pics of other rooms from when Margaret took us on a tour, but you can see our room here.

I woke up before everyone else in the house and spent time in the hedged-in courtyard drinking juice and writing in my journal. It was relaxing and lovely until it started to rain; apparently Vancouver is even rainier than Seattle.

Margaret made us incredible omelets and fresh fruit yogurt parfaits the first morning and blueberry pancakes with sausage the second morning. Her cooking was amazing, the house was beautiful and the atmosphere was comfortable. Margaret even sent me home with a glittery I heart BC ornament for my Christmas tree.
I highly recommend this B&B if you ever find yourself in Vancouver. Be sure to tell Margaret we say Hi and give Jackson and Princess Buttercup some head scratches for us.