Words….Witticisms…Whimsy…Whatever!

Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

2013, you were all right

A year ago it seemed that the idea of a “blessings jar” was circulating all over Facebook. It’s simple enough. Write down the special moments in your life as they occur, put them in a jar, and review them at the end of the year. I’m not really good at resolutions, goals, and the like, but this was something I could get on board with. Of course, I didn’t have a jar handy so I used a vase (which was a present from my dad and created by my artist friend Kristi Jo Beber, so it was already all kinds of good stuff) but for the purpose of this post we’ll just keep calling it a jar. (Aside: Kristy Jo’s stuff makes great gifts. Keep that in mind that for next Christmas or anything between now and then!)  I didn’t always remember to tend to the jar, but by the end of the year it was full.  I wrote on post-it notes and scraps of paper. I scribbled just a few words and once wrote a page & a half about a particularly interesting day. Many of the notes had happy faces and/or hearts drawn on them, because I use emoticons even when jotting messages to myself apparently.  Most of the time I remembered to date them, but not always. And because I was doing it my way, I put other things in, too. Concert tickets. Notes from friends. A fortune from a cookie. An envelope that made me laugh. A series of postcards from my friend Greg. And then last week on New Year’s Day I sat down and read through everything.

Here’s the summary version: I’m a very fortunate person.

I appreciated little things. I appreciated big things. I reconnected with people from the past. I made new friends. I put aside old hurts. I paid off some debts AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, bitchez! I reveled in my family. I took trips. I was reminded of a moment when I was able to use the blessings jar to make myself find a positive spin in a situation that was making me cranky. The overriding theme was contentment, and how can you beat that? Reading through them reminded me of small moments that would have been long forgotten and made me laugh a second time over funnies and sillies.

And because I took my own liberties with the game, next to the vase was a bowl. And in the bowl I put all the birthday cards I received, and more recently all the holiday cards that came in the mail. And I reread all of those too.

Now I’m going to take all of the scraps of paper and notes and cards and package them neatly in some sort of cute container and label it “2013”. Because the vase already has the first piece of paper for 2014 in it. I hope I do this for every year from now until the end of Wonkaternity. (I’ve decided 2014 is going to be a banner year for making up my own words for the wonktionary. Earlier I coined “napportunity”; I intend to seize every napportunity that crosses my path this year!)

I won’t share all the paper scraps with you, because some are too personal and some would bore you and there are really quite a lot, but here are a sampling for the reading.

  • 3/18: The world has the Mondays, but I feel awesome. 🙂
  • 1/17: I had both blueberries AND grapes on my Rice Chex this morning.
  • 3/6: Awesome snow day! Shoveled like a badass. Made a snow Ruby with Dan. Lots o’ fun!
  • 2/13: I tried something new – tap lessons – and I loved it!
  • May: I went on a fun, relaxing vacation with some of my favorite people AND I was happy to come home. 🙂
  • 8/10: Mourtney’s b-day at the lake was a super fun day.
  • August: I can afford to have the work done to bat-proof the house. (This was the one where I was trying super hard to see the positive in the boatload of cash I dropped to prevent any more good bat stories for y’all. Oh, and the rabies.)
  • 6/8-9: Super fun weekend in A2 with Klondike and the Laheys. 🙂
  • First weekend in June: I felt a satisfaction with doing everything I wanted to do with my weekend. And the new purple curtains made me feel happy every time I walked into the living room. I love my house! 🙂
  • 9/7-8: Such a wonderful weekend in Ann Arbor! All day Saturday bumming around w/Caryn, victory over ND, and ton of fun and excitement at the game! Sunday morning w/Brannie, then loading up on food goodies before coming home. Top down all weekend. Happy heart! J
  • I can take advantage of being self-employed to go for a bike ride in the middle of a Tuesday with my dad. 🙂
  • 9/23: 1:09 cake  [IT WORKED!!!] (Did I tell you that story??)
  • 7/23: Ruby finally healed from her incision! 🙂
  • 10/31: A WHOLE BUNCH OF PUMPKINS appeared on my porch! 🙂 Someone stole mine & now I have LOTS! And tap was canceled (kind of) so I’ll be home for Halloweenie!!!! 🙂  (two happy faces on one piece of paper)
  • I love my green sheets! 🙂
  • The day I wrote the long missive, I’d been to a funeral then out for lunch with my dad and grandma. One of the highlights was Grandma telling Dad and me that she had used up a pen, and when we asked what kind she said, “A pencil.” Which caused us to laugh and laugh, and if you’ve ever experienced my grandma laughing uncontrollably, you know it’s noteworthy. And also something a restaurant might not appreciate. And lest you be concerned about her answer, it’s a pen that looks like a pencil; she hasn’t lost her mind. 😉
  • And then there was this one, the most important one of. (Dad, I’ll stop talking about it soon, I promise.) dad survivedI draw a sucky heart, but you get the idea. And the little words surrounding it, which you probably can’t read, are the people who made it possible and helped us greatly: Doctors, Nurses, Friends, Family, Rachel, the Huffs.

 

Happy New Year, my friends! I look forward to your help filling my blessings jar!

 

Advertisements

Let there be light! Or…color. Or…contrast. Or…something!

Guess what I did today?

I changed the light bulb in my TV!

Yes, I did. All by myself.

I used tools and everything.

Well…a screwdriver. Which is a tool. One tool. Ooh, and I used a box cutter to open the box, so we’ll stick with tools, plural.

And it was quite difficult, you should be very impressed.

Actually, it was super easy, but you should still be impressed, because you didn’t even know TVs had light bulbs, did you?

Well, they do. Ok, some do. Including mine.

Many years ago (let’s say 8 or 9 but probably not 10), my then husband and I bought a BIG, HUGE, SHINY NEW TV. And we got a DLP (which stands for Digital Light Processing, which is interesting, because I thought it was Digital Light Projector so we see how much I know, which is almost nothing) TV. One of the reasons we chose DLP instead of a flat screen is because they told us the TV could last forever, theoretically, and would just need to have the bulb inside replaced from time to time.

And apparently “from time to time” is a really long time, because this is the first time I’ve replaced the bulb since we separated five and a half years ago. The ex & I. The TV and I have a solid relationship. Together forever. (I wish I could draw a heart around that.)

And I was pretty sure I would be able to change it by myself because Mike (my ex) did it at one point back when he still lived with the TV, which is not a knock on him at all, just that I remember him saying it was ridiculously easy.

Recently it seemed that the TV was getting dim. Nothing drastic, but I’ve been binge watching The West Wing again (omigod it’s. so. good.) and I realized that all of the episodes looked like they were full of secret meetings in the middle of the night in dark locations. And I sort of remembered that was a warning sign before the bulb went out the first time, many years ago.

Almost six years seemed like a good long time, and that it was time to be proactive and replace it. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to find one easily, and I expected any store I went into to try to sell me a new TV. The bulb is not inexpensive. TVs have come way down in price.  Mine is no longer huge by today’s standards. However, my living room is cozy (we don’t want to offend it by calling it small) and frankly a bigger TV would look ridiculous in here. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with it. I like it. It’s HD, widescreen, I know how it works, and it works just fine. I don’t like that the world is disposable and that when what I really need is a new battery for my phone the system is designed just to replace the phone. So I was prepared to dig in my heels and insist on just a new bulb. Imagine my delight when I walked into the store where I bought the TV lo those many years ago and the guy in the TV department said nothing at all about “upgrading” but just walked me over to the service department so they could get the replacement bulb for me.

The store, in fact, is adorably charming. (Stucky Brothers, for you locals.) They still had me in the computer system from when I bought the TV and they took the time to update my address and phone number. They printed the receipt on a dot matrix printer. Apparently they’re like me: why replace it when it still works? The bulb cost almost double what I could’ve gotten it online for, but I like them, and their service, and that they’re a local, family-owned business. (My clients can buy the same things they get from me for less money online as well, and I try to practice what I preach.  Buy local when you can, people. Also, service matters.)

So I got the bulb, I sat down with the manual (perhaps the most astonishing part of this episode was that I found the manual so easily, although unbeknownst to me the bulb included instructions), and I changed that bulb. My favorite part was that it instructed me to wear clean, lint-free, soft gloves. Which led to a discovery of a pair of really cute purple gloves that I think might have been a present from someone, possibly my grandmother, possibly someone else.  They were soft and clean and lint-free, so I put them on when I put the bulb in the TV. Well done, gloves! And now I will start wearing you for real, too, sorry I forgot about you!

I almost forgot an important step in the bulb-changing process: plug the TV back in when finished. That would have been crushing, for the TV not to come back on. But I remembered, and it DID, and good gravy, it’s bright and colorful and beautiful! And I can see the faces of the people on The West Wing again – woo hoo!

Speaking of The West Wing (again), it is so much better than anything on TV right now, including The Newsroom which is Aaron Sorkin’s current show on HBO. But we can talk about it more when I’m finished. Don’t hold your breath for that. Staycation will be over soon and I won’t be able to watch TV all day long. But I will be done with season three by Monday, because that’s when the DVD needs to be back at the library.

And now, I will go back to enjoying my glorious, vibrant picture.

Oh, and see, aren’t these gloves pretty?

gloves

Interlude and Deliciousness

Once again I’m struggling with bloggy guilt. It’s been too long, but I’m busy and tired and did I mention that I’m tired? Oh, and also, tired. It’s our crazy season at work, but every year it seems to surprise me anyway. And life has been interfering with pretty much everything lately, and we’ll talk about that, but not tonight because I’m not ready yet.  And of course it’s the holiday season so there are three times as many things happening and all at the same time, and there’s shopping to be done and gifts to make and Halloween decorations to put away. (What? I said I was busy.) And tired. The Tide and Drano and soda and toilet paper (read: all the nonperishable items) I bought recently stayed in the trunk of the car for about two weeks because unloading them seemed to be too much effort. (Thank you, Klondike, for unloading all my crap last weekend.)

Aside regarding the Halloween decorations: I put them away, in the attic, all by myself, like a normal human. This is pretty much the first time I’ve gone into the attic for more than a thirty-second dash since the first bat episode almost four years ago. Yay me!

Every year we shut down the “office” (air quotes now since we work from home and the office is virtual) between Christmas and New Year and given the way the holidays fall this year, I’m trying to figure out how many bonus days I can tag on. Two weeks sounds pretty awesome, not gonna lie. 🙂 I’m counting down. Wendy Staycation 2013 is going to be a blissful slugfest!

——————————————————————

Updated….I totally neglected to include the part where I’m not sounding lame! I had tap class tonight – woo hoo! I was TIRED (perhaps I’ve mentioned this) and it’s cold out and I really wasn’t feeling like going to class. But every week, even when I feel less than motivated, I leave class feeling happy and lively and in a supremely good mood. I love spending time with my friend Jon, and it’s great to have a standing weekly time to catch up with him. And the class is FUN. It’s challenging and Miss Donna is really pushing us now to learn more and do more and there still is not going to be a recital so stop asking. 😉  I love it, even when I feel clumsy and like I’m never going to get the hang of something. So YAY, it definitely helped me shake off my slump today.

Ok, now, back to where we were before I remembered that I forgot. 😀

——————————————————————-

And because I sound of like a downer, let’s move on to something better, like DESSERT! A few of my Facebook friends asked for the recipe for the pear, cranberry & gingersnap crumble I made for Thanksgiving. It’s SOOOOOOOO delicious, and super-duper easy to make, I promise. And it’s fruit, so come on, it’s like health food. The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, but I’ll share it here too, because I hate blogs that just tell you to click through to other things.

Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons packed dark or light brown sugar (I like dark)
1 cup gingersnap crumbs (About 16-18 store-bought cookies, smashed to bits. You could use a food processor to make really nice, even crumbs, but then you would have to wash it, which is why I never use my food processor for anything. I put them in a large Ziploc bag and pound the hell out of them with a rolling pin.)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Pinch of white pepper, especially if your gingersnaps aren’t particularly snappish
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling
4-5 large ripe pears (about 2 pounds) (The original recipe suggests Anjou, but I’ve used whatever nice pears I’ve been able to find in the store) peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick (Peeling the pears is the only part of this that sucks – they’re slippery. Enlist someone else to help, then delegate pear peeling while you do all the “hard” work – thank you, Klondike.) (There are a lot of parentheses in this step!)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.

In a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish, mix the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together then toss it with the fruit mixture in the pan. Sure, you could do this in a bowl but then you’d also have to wash that bowl and hooray for fewer dishes. (Thank you Smitten Kitchen.)  (I think I’ve also made this in a 9×13 baking dish before, too. There is plenty of crumble to cover a larger surface area, not to worry.)

Sprinkle the gingersnap crumble over the fruit. Set the crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet (in a 2 quart dish, mine didn’t come close to bubbling over but I see no reason to risk it) and bake it for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs. See how long you can wait before digging in.

Did I mention that it’s delicious? Because it IS! And it’s so pretty! Look! Pretty!

pears & cranberries, pre-crumble

Pre-crumble topping

Just out of the oven - yum!

Just out of the oven – yum!

Ooh, and I should mention that the Lovely Lettie is the one who put me onto this recipe in the first place, a few years ago when I was doing my annual plea for new dessert recipes for the holidays. 🙂

Check THIS out!

scarf

I MADE THAT!

Just like I said I would.

And actually, it’s been done for weeks; I just didn’t have time to brag about it.

This is the first time I’ve ever followed a pattern all on my own and made something without my former Crochet Guru coaching me through the entire process. Sure, it was supposed to be a pair of socks, but details, schmetails. (Spellcheck isn’t convinced that “schmetails” is a word. Curious.)

I was feeling proud of it to begin with, but yesterday I was wearing it when I saw Mourtney, and almost the first thing she said was, “Hey, nice scarf!” And if you know Mourtney like I know Mourtney, you know that she does not compliment your accessories and accoutrements just to be polite. The girl is a fashion maven who takes her shoes very seriously, so the comment was the icing on the cake.

And it did provide that nice, “I’m not just watching TV like a bump on a log, I’m being productive” feeling that I like, so we’ll see what transpires next. Don’t hold your breath for anything that isn’t some kind of rectangle: scarf, afghan, granny square.

And now it isn’t quite so sad that it’s cold out, because hi, new accessory. 😀