Monday, December 29, 2008

The Little Things Count the Most, Always

The end of another calendar year draws near and it always causes me great nostalgia for just about everything from friends, new and old, family, living and passed on, and places, those I have been to and those I intend to see in the upcoming year. Aside from my birthday New Year’s Eve is my all time favorite holiday and the night is always memorable; the fact that most years I shed a little tear for the passing of the calendar is purely tied to my heavily reminiscent personality.

My mom used to have a big party every New Year’s Eve, the house was filled with her friends and it was the one night we were allowed to stay up late if we could make it; my earliest memories of Saturday Night Live are attached to one of those parties. One year, back in high school, four of us from the gymnastics team decided to get dressed up and go out for Italian food and when I went to shake cheese on my ravioli, the top came off, which prompted all of us to laugh the entire night. Another year, my best friend had some of her college friends come up to party and we all got hammered on champagne right in the middle of the street at the Boston Harbor as we watched the fireworks with about 200,000 other people. As the clock ticked over to the highly hyped Y2K I gained some geographical space in North Carolina with a friend, her husband, sisters and other family and as soon as the lights did not actually go out forever we all passed a joint around.

As I get ready to celebrate moving nine years into the new millennium, things in my life have changed dramatically but one thing remains the same -- I never spend New Year’s Eve with people I do not love. If the year to come is a reflection of the way we rang it in then I certainly want to be with the people I love, doing exactly what I want to be doing at that moment. In recent years, with the exception of a very blurry memory of a visit to my sister’s a couple years ago, Matt and I have generally spent the evening with S & B; we have dinner, chill at their place, pop champagne at midnight, hug all and kiss our respective other half and end up falling asleep at approximately ten after twelve. With them having four month old babies this year, who knows if any of us will even make it to see the clock tick over.

This past year was up and down, back and forth but so many shades of grey in many areas of my life so I have been thinking back to New Year’s Eve last year and trying to remember how I spent the time as we rang in 2008. The four of us toasted to change and growing families as well as friendship and bonds that will never be broken. This got me thinking about new people in my life, how giving and kind they all are and how so many things can change from one year to the next.

Over the past year I have met some amazing people through blogging and even though we are all very different people when it comes to age, gender, rearing, religion or writing style the common thread is that we all enjoy supporting one another’s achievements. I have met two wonderful gals outside of our little virtual world, Trayce and Bridgete, and I suspect that everyone else is just as fantastic as these two gals because, frankly, I do not surround myself with people who suck. (Yes, I stole that line from my sister but it is rare she finds time to read my blog anyway so it is likely she will never know it. And if you do, thanks Wendy.)

One new friend, Rose, was so generous recently and sent me this beautiful Christmas ornament that she hand painted just because, what a thoughtful gift! I do not have a tree so it is dangling from my candle holder instead.

Ginger was kind enough to mail me a box of henna hair color after I mentioned thinking about giving it a try (I am still a chicken right now but someday…).

I do not know what the future holds but I do know that this coming year is sure to be full of great times and adventures, family, best friends, writing, selling, new friends, creativity and exploration but most of all a heaping pile of gratitude for how far I have already come. Ringing in 2009 in two short days I plan to toast to new adventures and amazing success for everyone I know and love. Have a safe and happy New Year everyone.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reflected Projections

I sit here at my desk and begin to wonder when I let go of myself. When was it that I allowed myself to focus solely on what another person wanted me to fit into? What kind of life would I have led if I could determine the turning point, the moment in time where I let it all go, and go back to make the opposite choice? Would I be married, own a house, have a car, be in love? Would I be alone, party like a rock star, feel trapped inside freedom? I have no knowledge of what would have happened because life is not a Choose Your Own Adventure where I make a selection and move forward with the story, but just in case I get to peek at the other pages to see if it would have turned out any better, or even just different.

The thing about those books was that the ending, the actual ending of the story, pretty much always turned out exactly the same no matter what path we all chose in the middle. Kind of like life I guess. We are born and we die and everything in between is just a series of turning pages. As is typical, I almost get a glimpse of it but in the end push it away because it is fruitless to try. Just like I feel about everyone else, I will never really let myself change.

As babies, children, teenagers, and sometimes even into early adulthood, other people determine the path. We clearly can not feed ourselves or change our own diapers at infancy and as we grow into teenagers and begin to explore our worlds the people who are closest to us want us to be protected so they establish rules and restrictions on what we are allowed to do. We take this at face value sometimes and the longer we allow another person to make those choices for us the more natural it seems that this would continue all the days of our life. That another person would just continue to coddle us, to “raise” us, and of course to make all the decisions seems like it would be the obvious path.

The fantastic thing about letting someone else run everything, make all the choices and determine the journey that we take, is that we are never to blame if something should go terribly wrong. There is always a scape goat to pin the problem on because we were never the one to make the decision in the first place, it was always someone else. It really is simultaneously liberating but stifling to realize it is not possible to ever be wrong because I never make my own choices. A blessing and a curse to be sure.

I can easily sit around and talk about everyone else and all the bad decisions they make because I am in the perfect place to judge; remember, I have never made a wrong choice in my entire life! Of course, I am somewhat conflicted because, again, I have not made any choices at all. I am not sure how much I like that and I am starting to wonder if I am just a sheep following a shepherd blindly to the edge of a great precipice. For the first time in all of my years on this Earth I am slowly starting to question everything I have grown to believe is right, everything I have been told (in a manner of speaking) to think and feel but at the same time I wonder if it would actually be possible to transform.

Since I have slowly been convinced to change but did not fully realize it was happening to me all this time, what could I possibly do to go back to my own train of thought? Did I ever have one to begin with?

I guess the bottom line is that I have grown accustomed to whom and what I am, to how I live my life and to my daily surrender so whether the answer to that question is yes or no is really of no concern because as we all know, I will personally choose to do nothing about it either way.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh It Is So On

Its all about fun today, the stars are saying it, the attitude is saying it and the blogs are screaming it! Woo hoo! I love fun! Right on Bridgete, thanks for opening up the door to some mindless fun!

Apparently I love exclamation points today in addition to fun, they are really the only appropriate punctuation marks to use when having such an awesome time! Right?

OK, the object of the game…

1. Pick 16 of your favorite movies.

2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.

3. Post them here for everyone to guess.

5. NO GOOGLING/using IMDb search functions.

I am omitting rule #4 (4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.) because, well that’s just how I roll. It will be more fun to chat in comments I think.

Let’s get it started in here.

1. I'm gonna hit you so hard that when you wake up your clothes will be out of style!

2. Oh I'm the weird one? You're the one calling Barry Manilow from a phone booth at 2:00 am!

3. That's right. I mean - why? Because they haven't won a World Series in a century or so? So what? They're here. Every April, they're here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don't get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that's here for you.

4. FUCK YOU MONTY! Always gotta be right, with your little quips! We get it, man. You're fuckin' edgy and cool. Yeah! You're the coolest fuckin' guy at Shenaniganz! WHOOO! That's like being the smartest kid with Down syndrome!

5. There must be something between us, even if it's only an ocean.

6. Don't worry, Penny. There's still plenty of time to get pregnant and go on welfare.

7. Some people have a hard time explaining rock 'n' roll. I don't think anyone can really explain rock 'n' roll. Maybe Pete Townshend, but that's okay. Rock 'n' roll is a lifestyle and a way of thinking...and it's not about money and popularity. Although, some money would be nice. But it's a voice that says, "Here I am...and fuck you if you can't understand me." And one of these people is gonna save the world. And that means that rock 'n' roll can save the world...all of us together. And the chicks are great. But what it all comes down to is that thing. The indefinable thing when people catch something in your music.

8. True love is hard to find, sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a goddamn magic show ready to double team your girlfriend...

9. Since when is being a slut a crime in this family?

10. I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?

11. You wake up at Seatac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O'Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, mountain, central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?

12. MG: Have I stepped over some line in the sands of coolness with you? Because excuse me if somebody doesn't know the secret handshake with you. TD: There's no secret handshake. There's an IQ prerequisite, but there's no secret handshake.

13. You know what I'm going to get you next Christmas, Mom? A big wooden cross, so that every time you feel unappreciated for your sacrifices, you can climb on up and nail yourself to it.

14. You know, Charlie, there are two kinds of thieves in this world: those who steal to enrich their lives, and those who steal to define their lives. Don't be the latter. Makes you miss out on what's really important in this life.

15. Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side...

16. I am guided by a force much greater than luck.

As a side note, because I have seen all of these movies more than a boat load of times, I know the wording in some of the quotes is incorrect & it’s killing me not to fix it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Am I Seriously That Desperate For A Blog?

The answer you are looking for is, yes. Yes, I am definitely that desperate for a blog. OK in all fairness I am really only desperate for a personal blog because I have been writing Green Leaf Reviewer every day for a couple months now so my brain is pretty much just jostling around in the eco friendly water and it is like I lost focus on everything else. Or at least my ability to write about it. So lucky for everyone that follows me this might just be the most chaotic of all my blogs yet. Look for fun links to hysteria.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my “career”, or rather what I think I really want that “career” to be. Yeah if I was talking out loud those would have been annoying-girl air quotes because to me “career” is not really something I ever considered real or tangible, it was always just a mystical thing that people who went to college for four years fell into as soon as they got out. The rest of us, who got bored too quickly and did not quite make the college cut, worked all weekend in retail jobs or as Executive Assistants (or as I like to call them Prostitutes Without the Sex [hopefully] but Only Very Rarely Earning Similar Income).

I used to work in the most boring job ever in this exact role (seriously, 5 minutes of work a day…that will probably become a chapter, definitely a fun story full of interesting characters). Keep in mind that I started with this company in a February. I kept a journal with me at all times to write out my thoughts because after the first three, eight hour days in a row of doing nothing but playing spider solitaire I was starting to freak out. I called it my boredom journal because when the boredom began to rise I took great pleasure in replacing it with a scribbled line of crazed insanity that I might be able to use later. On May 9th I wrote:

“Day after day there are news stories reported about people who literally snap. I believe these people are Executive Assistants.”

I actually managed to stay at that job for another five months and never lost it (miraculous). Of course, I quit with no notice via email (something I had never done before or since).

Most of the jobs I have had over the past twenty (::scary::) years I kind of fell into out of some random twist of fate -- I knew someone who knew someone and it got my foot in the door, or, I was just a write off so the interview was nothing more than to make sure I had a social security number for tax forms. I was really tired of the role I had carved out for myself in the corporate world, the one I could never seem to advance past even though I was always eager to, so for the past year I have been running my own business doing faux finishing. I love faux but it is a shelf life job because seriously I will not be climbing up and down ladders to pounce glaze at age 65 (so you better go ahead and hire me now before its too late…you know who you are).

Then what is it I really want to do for a “career”? It is a good question and one I have been asking myself a lot because I feel that once I have the answer it is actually going to show up. My loose response is I want to be a writer. Narrowing that down a little further it comes down to novelist or blogger. I wonder why I can’t just get paid to spout all this hoo-ha. I mean, hell, if I could make a living doing it, I would definitely start writing this every day. Heaven knows I have plenty of insanity running around my brain that I could satisfy a daily purge. Bukowski did it. At least I’m pretty sure he must have. His stuff is pretty fucked up ya know? The encouraging news is that his writing did end up published so there must be some market out there for the crap I have to say too. I mean, he even got a few novels out of the deal.

The issue is that when I think of a novel it tends to be some 400 page glory-story with a plot and characters and a setting…blah, blah, blah. I have about four of them in various stages sitting on my hard drive right now but every time I open them up I end up doing nothing more than editing what is already there and closing it because my inspiration expires. Probably because none of what I wrote is in any way related to my lame life of football watching and sewing so now comes the big question -- how do I write the real novel that is floating around in my schizo brain, manage to get it published and sell a bajillion copies so I can go ahead and call what I do a “career”?

Or, is the real question -- why do I give a crap about having a “career” anyway and how about just having fun with what it is I want to do then just enjoy when the money follows?

Hmmm. Interesting concept and advice I have given to many people many times so why do I find it so difficult to take my own advice?

Ah…questions that never seem to be answered are on the rise again! When I reread all my old journals that becomes like a metaphor for my entire life.

I guess the real moral of my story up to now is that I need to stop being afraid to just put it all out there and finally get my shit together to do so.

End rant.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Star Studded Cast

A friend of mine sent me this video today and although it was made well after the vote in California, I figured it was worth sharing because anything with Neil Patrick Harris is pretty much going to be great as far as I am concerned.

Seriously, he was the only thing that saved Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Well, him and that cheetah, the rest of the movie was just completely unbelievable.

Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Margaret Cho, Jack Black, Andy Richter, Allison Janney and Sarah Chalke, among many others, dance and sing around the issue of gay marriage in Prop 8 - The Musical.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Here It Comes Again. Sigh.

Last year at this time we were living in a little beach cottage in Humarock, marveling at the fact that it snowed there in early December. This year we are living in a little apartment, still in Massachusetts but a bit further inland, and yet I am somehow still marveling at the fact that winter is officially here as the snow began to fall this morning just before I woke up. Denial. It is a happy place. At least in my head because I can wear flip flops and tank tops all year long.

Every year I try, really and truly I do, to embrace something about winter. I make my best effort to psych myself up to the fact that as long as I have some fluffy socks, sweat pants, long johns, a wool hat, scarf, heavy jacket, gloves and earmuffs that I will be able to make it through. Sadly though each year, I am reminded that it is still mother-effing cold as the tears I shed instantly turn to icicles on the only two inches of exposed skin I can bring myself to reveal. They do not call us “hearty” in the north east for nothing. And it has barely even begun yet. Surely this is the year that I will perish (read: I am a drama queen when it is cold out).

Geographically speaking we have not gone far but in many other areas of life things have changed a lot in this past year for Matt and I, as well as life milestones for a lot of people we know like the birth of babies or graduating from college. All in all 2008 was a very jam packed year and we are still living it up for the last few weeks of what is left on the calendar. Because we have decided that it is important to drag our sorry cold butts out of the house even in winter, last night we had the distinct pleasure of going to listen to the North Reading Chorale perform at their annual Holiday Concert. It was just what we both needed to get into the spirit of the holidays and one of the best times we have had in a long time.

My Mom’s friend is in the Chorale so really we were going to see her but what a pleasant surprise it was to hear the thirty seven members (including her) belt it out in perfect unison while accompanied by three flute players, a guitarist, three percussionists, a trumpet player and four bell ringers. They were, in a word, amazing. The concert went off without a single hitch and they performed classics like White Christmas, Adeste Fideles, Silent Night and All I Want for Christmas Is You. But then the song of all songs came second to last and I wished I had recorded it.

The name of the song is The Twelve Days After Christmas and thinking back on the lyrics of this hilarious song might just save me from one more day of frigid peril. Well, this and the onslaught of yummy food available at this time of year.

The first day after Christmas, my true love and I had a fight
And so I chopped the pear tree down and burned it just for spite
Then with a single cartridge, I shot that blasted partridge
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me

The second day after Christmas, I pulled on the old rubber gloves
And very gently wrung the necks of both the turtle doves
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me

The third day after Christmas, my Mother caught the croup
I had to use the three French Hens to make some chicken soup
The four calling birds were a big mistake for their language was obscene
The five golden rings were completely fake and they turned my fingers green

The sixth day after Christmas, the six laying geese wouldn't lay
I gave the whole darn gaggle to the A.S.P.C.A
On the seventh day, what a mess I found
All seven of the swimming swans had drowned
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me

The eighth day after Christmas, before they could suspect
I bundled up the eight maids a milking, nine pipers piping, ten ladies dancing, eleven lords a leaping, twelve drummers drumming (Spoken: "Well, actually, I kept ONE of the drummers" ) and sent them back collect
I wrote my true love,
"We are through, love!"
And I said in so many words,
"Furthermore your Christmas gifts were for the birds!"

Today will be a fun day of watching the snow fall and football while cooking soup, sauce, lasagna and chicken stir fry. I think I will stay away from that French hen soup though.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My Nose Says Holidays But It Feels Like Spring

There is a saying in New England that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change (Bridgete just pointed this phenomenon out while her dad was in town). Yesterday I went to get the mail mid day and heard sleet pinging off the front of the building. By the time I had gotten back upstairs the sleet had stopped and big fat snow flakes were falling from the sky. Last night it was raining pretty steadily and mid thirties; the sun is starting to break through right now and temperatures are beginning to climb into the upper fifties.

On Thanksgiving there was sunshine but it was fairly chilly where we spent the day and for the first time in a long time I let go of a lot of old traditions associated with this holiday. There were times throughout the day that it seemed odd to me as I chatted it up with people I do not normally see on this day and ate foods quite different from the ones I had grown accustomed to but for the most part it was a fantastic day filled with laughter, family, fun and food.

Some of that food, of course, came home with us including turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and creamed onions. By the next day everything but the turkey was gone and I was strongly considering what to do with the three slices of white meat, chunks of dark meat and wing we still had laying around but no extras to eat with it. This morning I decided a soup would be a nice idea and for the first time ever I attempted to just wing it, like so many people I know who cook, and just throw a bunch of stuff in the pan.

In case anyone is looking for what to do with their leftovers and are not going to make cocktails out of them (tried to find the link but to no avail, this was a story on local news on Thanksgiving night -- gravy cocktail no joke!) I strongly recommend trying this fly by recipe out. For those of you veggies out there just exchange the turkey for extra veggies like celery, broccoli, corn or anything else that graces the table during the holidays because the spices will really flavor them up nicely!

Smells Like Thanksgiving
Fill a medium sauce size pan about three quarters full of cool water
Shake in a bunch of brown rice (less than a full cup)
Cut up carrots & onions and add as desired
Throw in all the leftover turkey you like
Shake in dry basil, black pepper, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg as desired
Add about 4-5 small cloves
Cover & slow simmer boil about 2+ hours

Here is what it looks like on my stove

I hope Matt gets home from his appointment soon or I might just eat it all without him! It will definitely be enjoyable to walk off this filling meal later today in mid fifty degree weather on December first. Who knows what it will be like tomorrow so I am fully taking advantage of the beauty in today.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Let the Sales Begin!

I am a big old pimp for my shop today; do I look good in the fuzzy hat?

Maybe in purple…

In addition to my own shop I also want to highly recommend some items that simply amaze me. Cyber Monday is right around the corner so get with the shopping before these fabulous goodies are all gone!

Favorites from my own shop

Favorites from other shops

Happy shopping, happy sales!

Buy handmade and go green!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Am Thanks Full For…

The order is how they all entered my brain but nothing on this list is really any more important than another item (except maybe food lol). Consider this the condensed version. Enjoy a day full of food, love, football and festive thanks everybody!

Amazing conversations
Quiet days
Fun nights
Red wine
Did I mention food?
A pen and paper
All five of my senses
My sixth sense too
Road trips
Being employed
Being unemployed
Making new friends
Chucka Stone Designs
Rock Band
My mind
The Dictionary
Coffee (I have no idea how this was not first lol)
Late night lovin’

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Been There Done It

On Charmaine’s blog yesterday she posted a list of 100 things and the object was to copy the list, bold the items you have done and post it for everyone to read but I am going to do this a little bit differently (big shocker right?). In reading this list it occurred to me that there is a lot I have done (half of the list exactly in fact!) but also a lot I have not and it got me thinking about the upcoming American holiday of Thanksgiving.

Each of the experiences below is just a random sampling of what can shape a person’s life and I sincerely hope each of you take this and even if you do not post the list to a blog or other location, look over the items and be grateful for the experiences you have had while challenging yourself to try some of those things you have not. I have separated into three groups-- have done, not yet and no freaking way (if I can help it). If you want to play along in the standard way check out the link above to Charmaine & grab the list in order!

Have Done

1. Started your own blog (2 in fact and both just received an award yesterday! More on that to follow)
2. Slept under the stars (on the beach - awesome, in the woods - not as awesome)
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (well World about 10 times so I think it counts)
8. Climbed a mountain (lots)
9. Held a praying mantis (I think but it could have just been a grasshopper, was a long time ago)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (not while on a boat but over the ocean a lot)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (as far up as they let us go at the time)
18. Grown your own vegetables
21. Had a pillow fight
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (this used to be a fairly common occurrence when I worked in an office, in the last year I have barely even taken a day off for holidays and have not been sick at all)
24. Built a snow fort
26. Gone skinny dipping (only once, it was effing freezing!)
29. Seen a total eclipse (of the heart?)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (both)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (Ireland only, never been to Lithuania)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (its all in perception of satisfaction)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (one of my favorite activities)
47. Had your portrait painted (drawn in pencil at a bar once & I didn’t know it was even happening until he handed it to me at the end of the night, I was so flattered but completely embarrassed)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (snorkel, no scuba but I plan to someday)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
57. Started a business
60. Served at a soup kitchen (this is one of the single most gratifying things I have ever done, every single person should do this at least once)
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies (Samoas, or whatever they are called now, and Thin Mints rock my world)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
67. Bounced a check (yeah too many, luckily that was a long time ago!)
68. Flown in a helicopter (I was about 3 or so and my dad was in the military. My mom and sister who was a baby at the time stayed on the ground while I got to go up in the military helicopter, so freaking cool!)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
73. Stood in Times Square (tried to but number of people walking kind of forces you to keep moving most of the time)
75. Been fired from a job
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (never driven one, love to ride on the back though)
82. Bought a brand new car
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (a few times mostly for gymnastics, luckily never the police blotter)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
88. Had chickenpox (another fun memory…my sister and I had it at the same time. It was July 4th and we watched fireworks from the way back of the station wagon then went back to soak in an oatmeal bath)
91. Met someone famous
93. Lost a loved one
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Not Yet

3. Played in a band (Does Rock Band count?)
4. Visited Hawaii (high on the list)
10. Sang a solo (Does it count while driving?)
12. Visited Paris (also way up there, just mentioned wanting to do this while watching Funny Face the other night)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (will do when I get there)
25. Held a lamb
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (MUST get to Italy)
31. Hit a home run (maybe in grade school but do not remember, likely not)
32. Been on a cruise
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (plan on doing this in the next year)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person (see 28)
39. Gone rock climbing (no but where is the white water rafting question?)
40. Seen Michelangelo's David (28)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (never thought of this but now I want to go and do it today)
44. Visited Africa
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (again…28)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
55. Been in a movie (would love to put this on the have list!)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (have not tried in a long time, used to not be able to because I weighed less than the minimum requirement, don’t know if it has changed)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
72. Pieced a quilt
74. Toured the Everglades
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (my sister has lived in Arizona over 13 years and we still have not done this)
80. Published a book (I FULLY intend to achieve this, a few times)
81. Visited the Vatican (well if I haven’t seen the Sistine Chapel…)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (both individually not in conjunction)
89. Saved someone’s life
92. Joined a book club
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

No Freaking Way (If I Can Help It)

11. Bungee jumped (oh hell no!!)
15. Adopted a child
20. Slept on an overnight train
22. Hitch hiked (too scary these days)
27. Run a Marathon (ah hahaha! I don’t even run to the bathroom when I have to pee)
41. Sung karaoke
46. Been transported in an ambulance
65. Gone sky diving (see 11)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
77. Broken a bone (lots of fractures, couple sprains but never a break)
90. Sat on a jury
94. Had a baby
97. Been involved in a lawsuit

Friday, November 21, 2008

Unconventional Heat Source -- Bring It On!

Here in New England in November the temperatures tend to hover somewhere in the fifty degree range which makes it just crispy enough to wear a light jacket but not so cold that it is necessary to bundle up completely. Going for a walk is pleasant as the sun shines and the breeze creates a ruby nose ski-tan look that everyone is still able to see because every inch of skin is not yet hidden under down jackets, scarves, hats, mittens and goggles.

This past week we entered into a cold snap akin to the temperatures in January where the mid day high was not really making it out of the thirties. Damn climate change.

So what does a summer loving, need to be barefoot as much as possible, warmth craving, and environmentally conscious gal do without turning the heat up to eighty in the apartment? I re-introduce myself to exercise and the oven. Though not simultaneously of course, that is just dangerous and would require a level of coordination I definitely do not possess.

As you all know Rock Band is quickly becoming my favorite evening activity -- I am priding myself on the fact that I can now pull off scores in the ninety percent range with the level set to Hard and I am starting to actually get the drums in more ways than just hitting the corresponding pad when little boxes of color scroll across the screen. The pads correspond to a real drum kit so not only do I get which pad is associated with which sound (bass drum, snare, cymbal, cowbell, high hat, etc) but I am beginning to feel the rhythm of the songs I play. My arms are flailing about, my right leg is in seemingly constant motion and my core body temperature goes up as I pound away. Many may say this is not exercise but I challenge them to try playing on Hard level for an hour and then let me know how their arms and calf feel the next morning. It is energizing to play rock 'n roll but more importantly, keeping me toasty warm.

Another thing that rocks is channeling the life of a bear. Again, everyone knows how I plan to come back as a Grizzly in my next life because of their play all summer, eat as much as possible then sleep all winter lifestyle. Man that is like a dream come true. So I figure why not get a little bit in touch with that now and start packing it on so I can survive what is clearly shaping up to be a cold ass winter in Boston.

Matt is laughing at me because (and I am the first to admit) I am not what one would typically call domestic but as of late my oven has been firing up some pretty tasty treats and adding joyous warmth into the apartment (not to mention intoxicating smells!). Some of my favorites are homemade sauce which I then used to make lasagna, mashed potatoes, chicken soup from scratch (we cooked a whole bird and I used the bone, veggies and drippings to create the soup), banana bread and of course my specialty desert apple cranberry pie.

Fall just lends itself to cinnamon and brown sugar, apples and cranberries, fatty deliciousness. I want to share the recipe with all of you because the big Turkey day is almost upon us and if you are looking for something super yummy to compliment the meal but do not know what to bring this is definitely a winner! Happy eating, I plan to be either drumming or comatose until spring.

Apple Cranberry Pie

Two 9” pie pastry crusts (or enough home made dough to make them)
3/4 Cup brown sugar (not tightly packed)
1/3 Cup flour
4 Cups apples sliced or chunked (I use Cortland or Gala, sometimes McIntosh)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 Cup white sugar
1 Tsp cinnamon
2 Cups frozen cranberries
1/2 Tsp cinnamon sugar mix

Preheat oven to 425
Coat pie pan with butter using wax paper to spread & sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture (leave some if you want to use it on the top of the pie as well)
Combine sugars, flour and cinnamon & mix well
Add fruit, thoroughly coat all of it
Place one crust in pan and turn fruit in, distribute leftover dry mix across evenly
Top crust and dot with butter (sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture)
Seal edges with a fork & cut slits in top, remove excess dough from sides
Bake with crust shield for 30 minutes
Remove shield, bake additional 10 minutes or until golden and mixture is bubbling

Let cool slightly and enjoy with a warm cup of tea and cold scoop of ice cream

Monday, November 17, 2008

Telekinetic Tryst

The asphalt was a grey shade of black
The sun was hiding behind a cloud but no water was falling
From the sky or my eyes
I felt the gaze and my entire body turned to face you
Standing across the street
Wearing a trucker hat and blue jeans
With a smile in your eyes
Chewing pink gum and blowing bubbles
Carefree and light
I could taste it

The traffic of walkers was heavy
But I stood stoic like a pebble in the moving sea
Passed by so gracefully
Diverting the motion
I could not get to where you stood
We locked eyes for an instant
We shared the time and space
Intense and heightened
Bridging the swirling current

I felt it all in that moment
The life
The comfort
The peace
The place I was meant to be

I wanted to grab it
To grab you
To take your gum
To pop the bubble between
Where I live and you fantasize
But instead I came about
As if the rock became dislodged
Tossed around by the waves of the crowd
Traveling with the unseen current
Reality shakes me
And I wonder if it was just a dream

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beyond Cool

Wowsa, yesterday was great! I chatted with so many different people, handed out tons of cards, discussed the importance of using upcycled material in my designs, saw some family and friends and even sold a few items which had me not only reaching where I wanted to be but exceeding the goals I had set out for the day. WOO HOO!

My Mom did this fair last year and convinced me to give it a go because there was fairly decent traffic and a nice mix of buyers and sellers. She was not wrong! We were lucky enough to request tables right next to each other which was great so we could man each other’s booth when one of us had a need to venture out. Here are the original set ups; we both adjusted placement of materials as the day went on and after doing so both of us got more sales. Coincidence?

I promised to keep everyone updated on the progress of the entertainment center construction as well and Matt certainly got his pallet on yesterday! He located a coffee house in Brighton who was advertising on craigslist that free pallets were available behind the store for anyone to come and snag anytime they like. Some of the reasons he went with that particular one were because he figured they would be sturdy pallets due to the weight they would have to bear as well as a lack of leaked material on the wood which could mean mold or just yucky smells. Other than the aromatic smell of coffee, which if you know us at all is not exactly something we consider a detriment, the wood was mold and smell free.

He was able to acquire a good number of pallets that could be broken down on site (not always possible) and where he did not have to take everything just to get a few good ones (something many places actually required). When I arrived home yesterday he was out on the balcony removing nails and pieces from each other with a bunch of tools.

It took him a good five or six hours to complete everything yesterday from driving over there to completing disassembly but at the end of the day he had a nice stack of lumber drying on the balcony, ready to be planed down.

Since we are attempting to construct this unit completely for free (meaning we do not want to spend any money we have earned from jobs to pay for necessary material needed for construction like hardware, screws, biscuits, glue, paint, etc), as well as reduce the clutter in our apartment, I knew it was time to sell a few more items on craigslist as well. Friday afternoon I posted our old dehumidifier that we still had hanging around from the days of owning a house with a wet-ish basement.

Up until Friday we had been using it as a stand for our bedroom fan; not really operating in the way it should be (plus Matt can just build us a new stand out of pallets right?). Well while he was deconstructing on the balcony, I was in our living room meeting up with a guy who saw the ad on craigslist and came to buy it. Cha-ching. Fifty dollars immediately went into the entertainment center fund and someone who needed it would be putting the dehumidifier to use in its correct function! That will surely acquire a goodly portion, if not all, of the necessary materials we need to finish this baby up.

Matt just wrote up a little something on his pallet retrieval experiences; those who are inclined can read it here.

Based on his calculations we are currently at +$49.18. Yippie!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Haphazard Mish-Mosh of Arbitrary Madness

That, or “this is going to be a whole bunch of random stuff that has nothing in common other than it is all what is going on in my world right now which is sometimes inconsequential but always all over the place”. Guess that title would be a little too long so I’m happy with the one I went with instead. So then let’s get on with the jumbled mess I call my daily world.

First and foremost this is the last time I’ll be pimping to get as many people as possible out to the FUMC Craft Fair in Melrose tomorrow. 645 Main St 9:00 - 1:00.

All my bags

Are packed

I’m ready to go!

Now that the sales will commence and the production of all those upcycled fabrics lessens, we can finally get our house back together. It is going to seem like we have so much space in our teeny apartment and the quilt-like layer of tiny threads all over the carpet will succumb to the vacuum on Sunday during football. Yee-haw!

Recently Charmaine posted a link to a really fun site where I spent some time “yearbooking” myself into a bunch of different time periods. It made me chuckle to see myself in these different eras but what was really funny is that the 1990 photo is scarily too close to my actual yearbook picture from 1991.

How much hairspray would this take?

I always wondered what I would look like with an afro.

To bang or not to bang?

See what I mean? Talk about hairspray, ugh.

Tomorrow Matt is going to hit the road and start acquiring a trunk load of pallets so we can start construction on our entertainment center. It is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch this thing come together. Nothing like acquiring material for free to create an enormous piece of furniture. I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed that it comes out nice because he already has plans to build a bunch of other functional furniture pieces using this free stock of lumber. That should keep him out of trouble for the entire winter and then he and B can bond over manly things like sawdust and planers while S and I bond over shaking our heads at the guys but enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Nip Tuck Color

A month or so ago I took the time to update my blog template but I completely forgot about, or rather neglected, my company website. As a company I have a logo, standard font, etc. and the color scheme / layout I had chosen was similar to the old blog -- basic gray background with a cranberry header bar. After I hired Judi FitzPatrick Studios to create a kick ass direct mail postcard image to drum up new wall treatment business, I was inspired to make the change. Here is a screen shot of the original snooze-inducing website that I had been happy with for the past year.

It is not a bad looking site -- streamlined and clean -- but definitely basic.

I am a big believer in the fundamental premise of ‘ask and you shall receive’, along the lines of visualizing what I want and then getting it. When I officially opened my business last fall I announced that my goal for it was to be up and running, fully operational and making a small profit within the first year. I am proud to say that exactly what I asked for happened and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to work on my own and for myself while delivering the highest of standards to my clients. It has been a fun year of discovering new techniques, realizing where my true passions lie and feeling out where I want the real focus of my company to head.

As a new year begins for Chucka Stone Designs there are things I am asking for, expect to work on and fully intend to get by next fall. Increasing business in faux, publishing and handbags is where I will strongly focus and I plan to scale back on other endeavors like graphic design and jewelry.

Although I do not consider myself a vain person, I feel that when I perceive myself as looking good it makes me feel good as well. I am confident to go out and flirt with the world, to get anything I want. So today I gave a monster facelift to all six pages of my poorly lacking website so it could feel good and assist in helping me tackle the new goals I have set for this year. Click on the screen shot to take a peek at the newly improved Chucka Stone Designs home in cyberspace. She is one well dressed and snazzy company now if I do say so myself!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

“Today is the Greatest Day I’ve Ever Known”

Although I am not really a big fan of the Smashing Pumpkins I can not seem to get this lyric out of my head today. My brain is swirling with excitement and I can not wait to see who President-elect Barack Obama chooses for the highest levels of office. I used to avoid watching the news because it was too sad but now I am clamoring to turn it on just so I can see his big happy smile.

As I have been on this positive high for the past forty eight hours it occurred to me that there have been many times in my life that defined me, for example every moment I have lived, but only a couple handfuls of them really resonate as the days that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I hope to look back on this list in ten years and not only still feel the same but have even more moments to add.

Seeing something I had written published for the first time. Sadly, the teeny-bopper magazine I submitted the poem to was very likely tossed more years ago then I care to mention but I can still feel the exhilaration I had when I opened the pages and saw my name and words in print.

My first real kiss with a guy I truly loved.

Red Sox win the first World Series in 86 years. It pleased me to no end to know that my Grandfather was still alive to see that day as well.

The day I got married.

Maintaining a 4.0 GPA in college as a returning, adult student. It was not that I did not have the capacity to do so all along, it was simply that I placed more emphasis on things outside of my studies. The work and time that went into sustaining that standard is something that will stick with me forever; just knowing I could do it if I wanted to has been applied to every area of my life since.

The day I moved into the first apartment that was all mine. Liberating.

Hearing the words “President-elect Barack Obama” for the first time. When I was a kid I was told countless times that I could do anything, be anything that I wanted so at about age seven I proudly announced to my Mom that what I wanted was to be black. Unfortunately there are some things that are actually not possible so instead I spent much of my growing life studying and identifying with the heroes I had, many of whom were from the African American community. My number one all time hero was Rosa Parks but as of two days ago she might just have some competition in holding onto that position due to our newly elected President inching up the list rather quickly.

Yes We Can.
Yes We Did.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tears of Joy

The day was Tuesday November 4, 2008. The past twenty four hours have been some of the most exciting of my life. To say that history was made, that positive energy is free flowing, that a better day is ahead for this country would be a sore understatement. I want to commemorate my day because it will likely go down in the history of my life as one of the single most excellent days ever.

6:30 AM -- Wake up an hour early due to sheer excitement and kiss Matt bye. It’s Election Day! Start smiling.

7:30 AM -- Finish writing two blogs that would usually take me an entire cup of coffee to complete. Spend some time chatting in Etsy forums and checking out blogs to network with some really fine people. Do not stop smiling even though it is first thing in the morning.

9:00 AM -- Grab my cell phone to text Matt “I am counting the hours until tonight!”. Receive text back “Tick tock the bush has been cut down”. Smile even bigger than before.

11:00 AM -- Make an amazing blueberry and raspberry smoothie, put on iTunes and begin cutting fabric for some new clutches. Dance around my apartment singing and smiling. Pop outside for a cigarette and notice not only is it in the mid sixties but there is no wind although the leaves are rustling, the sky is crystal clear blue and the yellow leaves have a different glow than usual. Realize that the positive energy is not only in my own apartment but is taking shape everywhere. Smile knowing that in about twelve short hours Obama will become President-elect.

3:00 PM -- Wrap up sewing and get ready for Matt to get home. Consider taking up nail biting as a hobby but realize getting my fingernail into my mouth means I would have to stop smiling.

4:22 PM -- Matt gets home and I stick two fingers in the air like I scored the winning touchdown proclaiming “Its time to go vote!”. Of course my smile is growing into an open mouth emoticon at this point.

4:52 PM -- Pick up my Mom and carpool to the school we all vote at. Begin to get nervous that I have no idea what I am doing since it has been so long but I give my name and street address, take my voting ballot sheet, step into the corner of a booth sectioned for four people and pick up the felt tipped marker approved for coloring in the blobs.

4:53 PM -- Get so excited to see Obama’s name on the ballot I actually save it for last.

4:54 PM -- Meet Mom back out in the parking lot and actually do leaps back to the car that I thought were pretty graceful but likely looked like a cracked out ballerina to everyone else. Do not care about how it looks because I finally completed the reason for my ten and a half hour smile and I am feeling the love. Ask Mom why she is not leaping and notice Matt humors me with one try at a leap. Gotta love him.

5:07 PM -- Arrive home and feel I have got to rid myself of some of this energy or I will burst so I play about an hour of Rock Band while Mom either plays solitaire or knits and Matt gets the chicken ready to bake for our burritos tonight. Finally score 100% on Celebrity Skin on Medium (as if I needed another reason to smile).

6:14 PM -- Matt and I combine efforts to start making guacamole, heating up refried beans, grating cheese and getting the other ingredients out for our yummy burritos.

6:30 PM -- Turn on the television to watch the Super Bowl of politics. Have one brief pang of sadness missing the presence of Tim Russert. Chat over burritos and projection by Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw.

8:00 PM -- Already cheering for so many blue states and chatting with my sister (who is stuck in traffic in Tucson -- the city with the widest roads possible -- on her way home from work, she mailed in her ballot). We hang up when her friend arrives and plan to chat later in the evening.

8:50 PM -- Pretty much doing a square dancing routine in my own head while the dudes spray paint more blue on the Rockefeller Ice Rink map. Matt continues to refresh his live updates from Yahoo and I take Mom home.

9:07 PM - 11:00 PM is pretty much a blur because I was pretty much just jumping around laughing and frolicking through my tears of joy. I think I wrote a blog for Green Leaf Reviewer on our Massachusetts Questions results though. Check it out if you like.

11:15-ish -- Watch John McCain give one of the most eloquent concession speeches I have ever witnessed. Nod in agreement that he is still a very cool guy and smile at his ability to be polite, honest and firm with his supporters. I was especially moved when he looked concerned and pleaded “please” with the crowd several times for booing both his loss and Obama becoming the next President. He certainly flipped the script on that with his very articulate, unwavering support for the President-elect.

11:30-ish -- My sister calls back and we both are watching the same network so we can tandem watch Obama’s acceptance speech. When he takes the stage she remarks on the irony “how about all of them being in red huh?” My eyes immediately begin to well up and everything in both of our houses goes silent. At one point during the speech I quickly utter to her “you ever heard over a million people chanting ‘Yes We Can’ in unison before?” and upon the close of his speech she, Matt and I all breath the sigh of relief that the entire country will hopefully be breathing today as we finally begin making progress toward a brighter future.

Midnight-ish -- Actually utter the unthinkable words “I can’t wait for January” just before Matt packs it in for the night. Clearly that sentiment has nothing to do with the weather. There is no way I will be sleeping as I am far too wired and want to watch more results pour in (like North Carolina and Indiana that closed hours prior but have still yet to report).

1:00 AM Wednesday November 5, 2008 -- Finally admit my exhaustion and send I love yous back and forth with my sister so I can go to bed. Spend about another half hour wide awake in bed smiling while I replay the day in my mind.

7:30 AM -- Wake up and immediately get on YouTube to locate and re-watch Barack Obama’s Presidential acceptance speech. Get misty again, start writing and know that for the first time in a very long time, everything will truly be alright.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes, We Will

“After decades of broken politics in Washington, eight years of failed policies from George Bush, and twenty-one months of a campaign that has taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are one week away from change in America.

In one week, you can turn the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street.

In one week, you can choose policies that invest in our middle-class, create new jobs, and grow this economy from the bottom-up so that everyone has a chance to succeed; from the CEO to the secretary and the janitor; from the factory owner to the men and women who work on its floor.

In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope.

In one week, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change we need.”

The above is an excerpt from a speech given by Barack Obama on October 27, 2008 in Canton, Ohio. Every time I hear him speak or read the speeches he has made I am so overcome with optimistic happiness I actually want to cry tears of joy. I could get used to feeling bliss for the next eight years.

Wow, what an amazing thought -- feeling hope, inspiration, happiness and joy for eight solid years!

Need a little help with the concept? Check out this post written last Saturday by Jason. Very much what I have been thinking for weeks. Very much what we all need to do throughout the day today.

I support Obama. I know he will be our next President because I plan to get out there and cast my ballot for him tonight. I strongly urge and encourage all of you to do the same.

We will vote for change tonight. We will realize a positive future for this great nation.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Is This A Trick?

To give a little background into my weird world, I was always kind of a twisted child; when I won some library contest in grammar school we had a choice of posters and I chose the one with Dracula on it. It was really cool with fog and Dracula was sort of shrouded in shadows at the edge of the forest. I hung it on the back of our bedroom door, so proud for having won it. Many months after hanging it I had a nightmare one night that I was being chased by some weird creature all the way to the edge of a cliff which I fell over. The edge turned out to be the one and only time I actually fell off the top bunk and I landed flat on my face. The poster came down the next day. Although waking up on my face in the middle of the night rattled me, it was not the scariest thing I faced during those years.

When I was a young kid we were babysat after school most days and sometimes our babysitter would travel a couple blocks away, over the old train tracks, to her friend’s house. When we were dragged with her we could hang out with some kids we normally did not have a chance to hang out with after school so it was always a fun time. As kids there were always strange stories circulating and it was just a matter of what urban legend each of us chose to believe in that resulted in what freaked us out; when I was in sixth grade there was no such thing as the internet to verify our information so some of the stories became pretty fantastical. Over on that side of town is where a couple rumors, legends, or perhaps stories based on actual events originated. Many of us will never know.

One day we were hanging out on that side of town and playing some kind of game in the middle of the dead end street. A skunk suddenly appeared and wandered straight down the middle of the street; it was huge and we all stayed clear, thinking we could get sprayed. Since the game was taking a break we started talking and one of the neighborhood kids started telling us this story about The Clowns. She shared the very important information that right there in our own town bad guys dressed up as clowns were riding around in an ice cream truck, handing out poisoned candy to kids. All of us from my grade or younger were completely freaked out and suddenly we were on the lookout for every ice cream truck in the neighborhood. We all wanted to make sure The Clowns were caught and of course sent to jail.

Since that day I have never been able to look at clowns the same way again, I always feel like they must be hiding something. I wonder -- is that clown the one that gave the poisoned sweet tarts to my friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s friend? Since we never heard if they were caught we all had to assume that they remained free to wander suburban neighborhoods, handing out poison laced candies to unsuspecting little kids. I wonder if they will make an appearance tonight?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Its Blast Off Time

Since I started writing Green Leaf Reviewer about two weeks ago I have been questioning a lot of the things I do and how focused I really am on the environment. Not to say that the planet as a whole is not a priority for me because it definitely is -- I recycle, upcycle, drive a fuel efficient car, barely drive anywhere, turn lights and electronics off, yada, yada, yada -- but when it comes to taking care of me, I question if I have lost complete focus. One of the things I said in the welcome message over there is that the environment is everything around us so truthfully, that means my own body as well.

I have been inspired lately with all these great healthy recipes I have been reading about and this past week Matt had to have a tooth pulled.

How do those things relate some of you may wonder? Well fear not for in my ability to weave seemingly random and unrelated topics into one roller coaster ride of a blog post I would love to share it with you.

A couple weeks ago Matt had such a bad toothache that he actually sat in his chair one Friday night and cried from the pain. He had already made an appointment for the following Tuesday but I suggested to just go there in the morning instead and explain the situation so perhaps they could squeeze him in as an emergency appointment. Luckily they did and he came home with a temporary filling. He was feeling much better and booked an appointment for this past Thursday to have the wisdom tooth extracted.

He went in for a three o’clock appointment on Thursday and while he was having an impacted tooth yanked out I was briskly walking the bike path with my friend S, the twins and her Mom. We have decided to try to walk together at least once a week and knowing that I will finally be doing even a little exercise is a great feeling. Matt called to say he was done and drooling so I picked him up and we headed home where he could nap off his pint of blood loss and I could get some sewing done.

For the following few days he was allowed to eat only soft foods and since he was feeling a bit more energy, and a need for a walk himself, he headed down to the supermarket to pick up something edible that would help fill him up. Just as a quick reference point here my Grampa used to tell me I must have a hollow leg with the amount of food I could pack away without gaining any weight. Well if I had one hollow leg Matt surely has two so eating broth for three days was not going to cut it. I gave him a small list and he came home with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, vanilla flavored Carnation Instant Breakfast, milk and Cream of Wheat.

After making the pesto last week I had some leftover cilantro and was no longer nervous that my (very underutilized) blender was going to explode so I pulled it back out and decided to try my hand at some smoothies that might fill up Matt. I am a lover of fruits and veggies but have frequently said it would be beneficial to own a juicer because I am never going to be the person who just grabs for fruit to snack on but if I were to blend them all together and have a yummy drink well that I could do all day!

I took a handful of blueberries, raspberries, four strawberries, a third of a Macintosh apple, a few chopped sprigs of the cilantro, two packets of the vanilla Carnation instant breakfast and eight ounces of milk and blended it until it was pancake batter consistency. I hesitantly handed it over to him waiting to hear “blech!” but to my surprise he loved it! I loved it too but what we both really loved most was the way we felt about an hour after drinking it.

Those of you who know me are fully aware that I am a proponent of marijuana, but I will tell you something, never in all the years I smoked did I ever feel a high like that. It was like my brain and body were on this complete cloud of clarity; like a sugar high without the jitters. I had energy I could not burn off no matter how I tried and instantly began looking for the permanent placement for the blender on the counter because this was definitely going to happen again.

Today we had another for breakfast but this time I also added a bit of carrot, more apple and reduced the cilantro and strawberry (too many seeds). I can not even express how great I feel and how much I am looking forward to experimenting with alternate fruits and veggies to make this even healthier. Although I made this with cow milk it could easily be exchanged with soy and I am sure there are vegetarian/vegan alternative protein powders to add instead of the vanilla Carnation Instant Breakfast so I will begin my search for those.

Even though some situations may seem bad at the time they are happening, they can certainly prove to be great in the end. If it were not for Matt’s toothache and subsequent extraction I do not think that either of us would have gone walking or started eating healthier just yet. Timing is a wondrous thing.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oh What A Night

When I went to bed last night I felt that I had done something to make a difference in the world for the entire day. Yesterday was filled with blogging, sewing, creating from new recipes, community activism and great conversation. I felt as if I took a giant leap forward toward a happier and healthier life and want to keep that train a-rolling for sure!

Working from home has become a more regular occurrence as I gear up for the craft fair in November. I have been running the sewing machine (not my car) pretty much non stop. I have a feeling that running the machine is definitely less of an energy sucker than my car would be though. So some of the adorableness of this week includes:

Have I mentioned that the pattern for the clutches is one I created myself a handful of years ago? I have been improving on the design and making changes over the past couple years like adding the Velcro instead of a button, making sure my company tag is sewn in there and generally just lining up the seams and notions better. Everything gets easier with time I guess!

Because Murphy’s Law is something all of us Irish folk are fully in touch with, I know this purse will sell at the fair. So far it is the one I love the most and would keep in a New York minute if given the opportunity (like it not selling at the fair and I get to just take it home for example).

So for Ginger and Karen I would just like to let you know that I did finally create the recipes you both shared that I have been dying to try all month. I combined the two together for a yummy feast last night for mom, Matt and myself before we headed out to the town meeting. On this plate are the salmon patties Karen suggested trying and the ribbon zucchini with pesto Ginger posted. Y-U-M!!

Good. Now that takes care of our minds and bodies, but we should do something good for mankind or the planet for a couple of hours. -- Cher, Clueless

After also devouring some of my mom’s delicious oatmeal chip cookies we took off to hear about all the awesomeness our town is doing in the way of sustainable efforts. There were two guest speakers, one from the Chamber of Commerce, the other from the Committee for Secure Green Future. Both were excellent speakers with quite a wealth of knowledge to share. There were eleven of us in total including the three of us newbies. Everyone was so welcoming and excited to have new members attend! One of the members is also the webmaster and when he found out that I write an environmental blog he asked if I would be interested to let them grab my RSS feed as well as possibly write articles for the soon to be newly revamped website. How could I ever say no?! I am really looking forward to getting more involved with these folks because their reach in the community is so positive.

With that said, today I begin research on my town and the efforts already in place for a better environment here such as waste removal, recycling, energy savings, litter clean up and a slew of other topics that will become extremely fun topics to do a write up on for the website. Of course I plan to finish up this little baby tonight.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Randomness Goes On Forever

It happened again, the dreaded tag. It has gotten to the point where I do not think it is possible to share anything else random about myself without revealing way too much information. Although, that has never stopped me in the past so why should it stop me now?

Because it was my Mom who tagged me it would be impossible for me to blow this one off and hope they did not notice I never completed it. I know my Mom and six months from now I would get a comment reading something like “Hey why did you never do that blog tag I tagged you for here?”

Instead of waiting around for that comment, here are the required seven random facts about myself. As per usual however I will not outright tag anyone else but open it up to say that anyone reading can feel free to play along if they so choose.

1. Only very rarely do I ever eat breakfast, generally I don’t eat anything until about eleven. (Have I shared this before? Déjà vu?)
2. Speaking of…I love déjà vu. There is something so mysteriously excellent about not being able to explain the feeling that something happened before but there is no real recollection that it did.
3. Since I finally got my first cleaning in ages this past July, I now floss every day.
4. Shoes and socks make my feet ache for summer. I like to be barefoot as much as possible.
5. When I handwrite anything it is in all caps and never in blue ink, I am a fine tip, black ink kind of gal.
6. If I were independently wealthy and had time on my hands I would spend a couple weeks at my sister’s house this November and take her to this show. I am quite sure she would fall in love instantly as so many of us do. Sigh.
7. After just coming out of my weirdness phase I am now at a place where I feel like I can accomplish anything -- write, blog, sew and paint all in one day and still have time to watch the Sox trounce the Rays last night.

So now that I got that out of the way here are some recent projects I have completed.

I was commissioned by one of my Mom’s friends, M to create a bag. Her grand daughter (who I happened to go to High School with, man this town is way too small) is having a baby shower in November and M wanted to give her a really nice handmade diaper bag as her gift. She is taking underwater birthing classes and is a diver so the request was made for something watery and with enough pockets for all required baby related items. This was created from a pattern, the first I had ever completed. Also the first zipper I ever installed. That is why my Mom did the zipper and I just swore a lot.

M picked up the bag this week and she was thrilled! That of course made me so happy because it took well over two weeks from purchase of fabric to completed bag. I learned so much though and will be applying those techniques to other bags in the future; hopefully even braving a zipper install all on my own. I have named it Labor of Love.

I booked a table at the First United Methodist Church Craft Fair in Melrose on November 15. This is my first fair and I am a little nervous but just pouring my positive energy into all of the items I am creating for it! I will only be showcasing fabric items like bags, placemats, coasters, etc. Here are a few recently completed items that will make their way to my table. If you are in the Massachusetts area and want to stop by to say hi feel free, I would love to see you! The info - 645 Main St Melrose, MA, Saturday November 15 from 9:00 – 1:00.

Tonight Jason is playing at The Orpheum in Boston but instead of going to see him Matt and I will be enjoying a lovely pasta dinner, then playing a nail biting game of Monopoly, with my Dad and Evil Step Mom*. It will be a bummer to know he is only seven miles away singing his little avocado off and I will not be there but in this past year I have had the opportunity to see him live twice, both times about twenty feet from the edge of the stage and both times meeting people I had never met and now call friends. I should not be so selfish in wanting that ticket and just be glad that maybe someone else (that may have not been able to go if I had) will now get the opportunity to realize how fan-freaking-tastic he is live. I will call this my passive way of sharing the love.

So whoever you are that got that ticket have the most amazing time at the show and I will say to you both congratulations and I’m sorry -- congratulations for discovering the most kick ass, talented, Hottie McHotterson making music today and I’m sorry because once you feel the Jason love there is no turning back. Enjoy the ride.

* The disclaimer for those of you new readers out there, this is what she calls herself and it is totally in jest. She is awesome, fun and not actually even married to my Dad. Although after eleven years together they might as well be, I guess its one of those “if it ain’t broke” type situations.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where is the Re-boot Button for the Brain?

Sometimes I become so consumed with things going on around me that I forget to take it down a notch; suddenly my mind is in overdrive but shut down simultaneously. It is hard to explain other than to say I want to do everything and nothing at the same time. I used to suffer from panic attacks and this is generally when they would pop up, once I even had one spring up at work and ended up spending the day at the hospital hyperventilating from a reaction to, well, literally nothing in particular. Kind of scary but at least now I recognize the symptoms in advance so I can do something about keeping them at bay.

During times like this I tend to get really bad sleep, break out a lot and become completely disorganized both in my head and in my house. It used to really bother me because I am generally so organized that to have my mind in upheaval really throws me off. Now I tend to take these times as a sign that my brain was going to implode so it had to go into some kind of hibernation to protect itself. And I let it.

I find myself listening to a lot of music and really paying attention to the lyrics. Anything that captures that moment in time, the quick flash of explaining what it all means, really speaks to me. This time around I am listening to a lot of Incubus & Foo Fighters. Drive, Stellar and Make Yourself are favorites on Make Yourself by Incubus (sadly the only album I currently own by them), Learn to Fly and Everlong are two of the hits the Foos had that I will never get sick of hearing.

Pardon Me
By Incubus

A decade ago, I never thought I would be,
At twenty three, on the verge of spontaneous combustion.
But I guess that it comes with the territory,
An ominous landscape of never-ending calamity.
I need you to hear, I need you to see
That I have had all I can take and
Exploding seems like a definite possibility to me.

So pardon me while I burst into flames.
I've had enough of this world and it's people's mindless games.
So pardon me while I burn and rise above the flame.
Pardon me, pardon me.
I'll never be the same.

Not two days ago, I was having a look in a book
And I saw a picture of a guy fried up above his knees.
I said, "I can relate," cause lately I've been thinking of combustication
As a welcomed vacation from the burdens of the planet Earth.
Like gravity, hypocrisy, and the perils of being in 3-D
And thinking so much differently.

So pardon me while I burst into flames.
I've had enough of this world and it's people's mindless games.
So pardon me while I burn and rise above the flame.
Pardon me, pardon me
I'll never be the same.

Never be the same, yeah

Pardon me, pardon me, pardon me

So pardon me while I burst into flames.
I've had enough of this world and it's people's mindless games.
So pardon me while I burn and rise above the flame.
Pardon me, pardon me
I'll never be the same.

The Pretender
By Foo Fighters

Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend
Keep you in the dark
And so it all began

Send in your skeletons
Sing as their bones go marching in again
The need you buried deep
The secrets that you keep are ever ready

Are you ready?
I'm finished making sense
Done pleading ignorance
That whole defense

Spinning infinity boy
The wheel is spinning me
It's never-ending, never-ending
Same old story

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

In time or so I'm told
I'm just another soul for sale, oh, well
The page is out of print
We are not permanent
We're temporary, temporary
Same old story

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

I'm the voice inside your head
You refuse to hear
I'm the face that you have to face
Mirrored in your stare
I'm what's left, I'm what's right
I'm the enemy
I'm the hand that will take you down
Bring you to your knees

So who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?

Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
(Keep you in the dark)
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
(You know they all... pretend)
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

What if I say I'm not like the others?
(Keep you in the dark)
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
(You know they all... pretend)
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?

So who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?

And, breathe.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

‘I’m Just the Hired Help Here’

The words that, in my opinion, are forever immortalized by my new favorite reporter, Tom Brokaw. Last night during the town meeting style Presidential debate Tom showed his humor to the world, and although the candidates both did amazing jobs of sharing their policies and feelings, Tom was the clear cut winner with that one sentence alone. He had to remind both men of the style of debate their campaigns agreed upon -- questions asked and directly answered with no chance for rebuttal -- and that each response was limited to one minute. When Obama and McCain attempted to follow up on points made by the other Tom threw his hands up on national television basically admitting he was just a guy being paid to sit there. After his comment (yes it is true that both men still maintained lengthy responses to the questions) they both attempted to reign it in somewhat and begin to answer the questions asked of them.

There were a few things I was personally concerned with hearing responses for last night so I grabbed a notebook and pen and began taking notes as each man spoke. It was interesting to hear how both men responded to questions of another Cold War with Russia ruled by Putin, response to Iran and the possible nuclear threat, support for Israel, and how we should locate and remove bin Laden from Pakistan, but those are not the most pressing issues this country faces in my mind. Foreign policy and diplomacy are certainly important as we work to clean up our image around the world but without first taking care of our own people, it will be impossible for us to care about what happens overseas. There were three areas discussed last night which I took great interest in. First, how they prioritize healthcare, energy and social security. Next, anything related to sustainable/renewable energy or efforts to move away from foreign oil sources was another hot topic for me. Finally what they propose occurs with the current issues of overextended credit and debt and what they would do to clean it up.

On the question of prioritizing social security reform, energy and healthcare as President, McCain responded by placing those topics in the order I have listed here although he did indicate we could tackle all three at once (which I find extremely unrealistic). As a person in their mid thirties I am certainly concerned with the state of social security and its future availability but my biggest concern is that I have somewhere to live in the next thirty years before I would need it. If all three issues are put to be discussed and resolved at once I truly believe that energy discussions will fall off the back end in a McCain Presidency. Obama listed his priorities clearly although not once was social security mentioned. He listed energy, healthcare and education as his priorities as President. Obama indicated a desire to invest fifteen billion dollars over the course of ten years toward alternate sources of energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The one thing that did not sit especially well with me there is he is focused on investing in the mythical clean coal technology. Coal is not clean, could never be clean and again is a potentially non-renewable resource.

When asked what each man would do over the course of the next two years to better the environment and create green jobs both responded eloquently but only Obama actually stated how many jobs he would look to create. Although Obama is a supporter of clean coal he also discussed solar, wind, geo-thermal and nuclear (in that order) as potential ways to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and create innovative technologies. He indicated that if a national investment in alternative energy is given attention it could create upwards of five million jobs. McCain briefly referenced the need for more hybrid cars and potential use of hydro power (water) but his main areas of interest were nuclear and off shore drilling. He maintains that nuclear power is safe and clean and he did indicate it will help create jobs but never said how many he would look to open up to the American people.

In response to my final hot button issue of cleaning up the credit debt the people of this country have found themselves in I will be honest, if I had not felt a stronger pull toward one candidate previously this is the question that put my decision over the edge, although he never fully answered the question. McCain discussed a spending freeze, the fact that new jobs should be created, a $5,000 health tax credit, buy back of the loans at the realistic figures they should be at (ie you bought the house at 200K, it is worth 100K, Joe Taxpayer gets to foot the bill for each 100K bad debt as an “investment in the country”) and slammed Obama for talking about raising taxes. Then he uttered unthinkable words; he would reduce people’s tax rate based on the number of children they have. My jaw dropped. I understand that children do bring a tax benefit but as a family who has no children, and no plans of having them, I was completely put off by essentially being told that procreation was one of the only ways to get a break in this country. Will that $500 break pay for a year worth of what is needed to raise a child? I think not. Obama strongly indicated that Washington must lead by example. I paraphrase but he basically said ‘hey, we have a multi-trillion dollar deficit in this country right now, how do you think the American people feel about that?’ He does not want to outright freeze spending but cut it instead and did not mention if he plans to raise taxes as McCain indicated.

Although there are still plenty of topics I do not agree with Obama on fully, I did not feel less of a person for not having children, I feel his investment in the planet will be greater and I truly feel as if he and his wife, Michelle, are far more concerned with helping the people of our country first before jumping into fixing problems of other nations because without the support of the American people the President has nothing to lead but his own agenda. We all see where that has gotten us in just eight short years.

The one thing that pleases me to hear is that both major candidates agree on one fact: this country needs to change.

Please watch the next debate on Wednesday October 15 and see if both men give Dan Vogt a reason to be as funny as Tom Brokaw was last night.

Yes we can.