Monday, December 26, 2011

Morning After Christmas

It's December 26 and I'm sitting at our computer desk with a hot minty drink.

I'm not playing Christmas music anymore, because frankly I'm a little saturated with everything (yes, even you, Charlie Brown).

I'm not eating Christmas cookies for breakfast like I have for about a week. Doesn't seem right. I'm also afraid to step on the scale.

Interesting how the novelty and magic of Christmas just fades away. I'm glad for it. If we celebrated Christmas all year I fear it would become a chore. Looking at my Lindsay stocking made of felt and yarn would make me shrug instead of making me smile. (These are stockings my mom made several decades ago for all the family members. Each one is designed with a little doll with hair and uniquely colored dresses. I always thought mine was the best because the dress is red and white and goes perfectly with the Kelly green color of the stocking. )

While I'm glad that Christmas is gone this year, it occurred to me that I should write down a few highlights so I can look back in future years and remember a few things that might be easy to forget.

  • Baking cookies has become a tradition for me. It allows me to give handmade gifts to my friends and spend a little time in the kitchen. This year, the treat boxes featured chocolate chip cookies, orange cranberry cookies, candy cane cookies, peanut butter cups and chocolate-covered marshmallows.

  • I gave a duffel bag to my brother, who is commuting to San Diego for work these days. He loves it but sometimes I miss him.

  • We also gave a duffel bag to T's sister, who will be spending several weeks in Mexico this spring. She is excited; her mom and boyfriend are not so much.

  • We gave a new bedspread to my sister and her new husband. They were just married a few weeks ago and they are doing new couple things like buying King-sized beds and moving into a house just for the two of them. They are wildly cute and I like how newlyweddy they are.

  • These newlyweds have also brought a little joy to our family in the form of a Pomeranian puppy. Pippy is tiny, fluffy and endlessly adorable. She wears little dresses and shirts that say, "Meet me under the mistletoe." Lots of entertainment for the whole family.

  • I received so many gifts that I loved I almost don't know where to start. My mother-in-law made me a denim apron that ties at the waist, a crocheted scarf that is just the right color of red and a skirt with a little flower on the front. So much time spent on these gifts; I can tell they were made with love. I received a number of cooking and sewing accessories -- I guess I can report that I have some actual hobbies now. I'm excited to try out my new toys.

  • T and I...well.....we got each other the same thing. And not just the same CD that we both like. But a custom-made plush toy representing a character in the book that we are writing together. We both worked on it secretly for weeks, hoping to surprise the other with such a unique and unexpected gift. But when you share a brain you tend to come up with the same ideas. I love that we now have two of these, and a story to boot.
So now our house is filled with gifts, random plates of cookies and treats, and wrapping paper shards. I plan to clean it all up today. The decorations won't come down just yet, but soon we'll be putting all this stuff in the attic. Can't wait until next year.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Good morning zebra!

I'm trying a new recipe today: Zebra Cakes. To create a zebra cake, you alternate between scoops of devil's food and vanilla cake mix to create a stripey look when it's baked. (More on that later.)

I was so excited to do this, I woke up at 7 a.m. And I didn't hit the snooze button once. In the last two hours, I have made four zebra cakes and a pan of brownies. I have also swept and vacuumed the floor. And started a load of laundry. I am a maniac.

Yesterday it was all I could do to get out of bed before 8 a.m. And that's just to get to work on time -- not even to do something honorable like work out.

Lately I've been wondering how I would do if I didn't have a job and just stayed home all the time. Optimistically, every day would be like today: shooting out of bed to achieve my goals with tornado-like enthusiasm. Realistically, that kind of fervor would last for three days. Then I would probably turn into Borezy, the lazy bore.

But I'm not at any risk of having that life for now. So I'll just be happy for the days that I get to be a little busy bee in my own house, rare though they may be.

As for the zebra cakes, I believe I made one fatal mistake. I substituted apple sauce for most of the oil in the cake mixes. As a result, the batter was a little thick, and did not spread too evenly. So maybe my zebras are a little dizzy. Or maybe I'll change the name to "Zany Cakes (which bear no resemblance to Zebra Cakes but are in fact a little crazy)".

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Italy - three days later

Well, we're back. Very little Internet opportunities abroad, so I was not able to blog.

I want to spend the next hour outlining all the little details, telling you funny stories, expressing my love for this country and the best week of my life.

But frankly, I am too. effing. tired.

I thought I really had this jet lag thing beat. We had few problems when we got there -- full days and fairly restful nights. And when we got back, we were so exhausted we slept overnight and were awake the next morning. See? Beat. We sleep at night and are up during the day.

But the long arm of the law (of gravity? of the theory of relativity?) has finally caught up with us. The past few days have been somewhat of a blur....waking up at 2:45 a.m. one morning (went back to sleep), and waking up at 4 a.m. the next (did not go back to sleep).

And now we are so tired we are watching the clock until we feel we are allowed to go to bed. You see, we don't want to go to bed too early for fear of waking up too early again. Make sense? Oh and also, we both slept from about 6 to 8 p.m. tonight. Little nap to tide us over.

So....Italy was beyond my wildest dreams. Swimming in the Mediterranean made me want to be a better person. It was that beautiful. But right now, so is the Bed of Sleep and Dreams. So I'm not in a good state to judge.

Italy - the night before

It's the night before we leave for Italy. Conan's on. Beverly's meowing at the door. Things are pretty typical.

We packed up our fancy new backpacks tonight. We totally look like real backpackers. Surprisingly roomy, those things! Can't wait to heave those around the Mediterranean.

For some reason, I feel nervous about this trip. We've traveled before: New York, Boston, Chicago, Key West. Just not to a foreign country. I honestly don't know what to expect. Maybe I don't have enough imagination, but the only thing I think of when I think of Italy is the shape of the boot.

We are preparing for the worst. If you only looked at our packs, you might think we were traveling to a remote jungle. We have a first aid kit, extra garbage bag, toilet paper, spork, flushable wet wipes, disposable tooth brushes, and a little roll of duct tape. Seriously, if we get caught unawares on this trip, it will be because we did not pack for a zombie attack.

I know I'm being paranoid. I'm sure we will learn our own travel tricks and can probably leave the global phone at home next time. I just want everything to go well, avoid spending thousands of dollars on fancy amenities like flip flops.

I was asked which monument or museum I look forward to most. My response: Uhh, does food count? Honestly, I can't wait for all the cheese, pasta and gelato I can stomach. Then I suppose I'll go get me some Sistine or David or somefink.

I will try to blog as we promises. I am happy we are going. Trips just seem a little unreal until I'm actually on the plane. With my all-weather poncho at the ready.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

You're so vanity

There's not a lot I can remodel, repaint or replace in my house. The kitchen cabinets are not worth the time, and the master bathroom requires a professional. And possibly some professional grade explosives.

So I do what I can. And this past week, I repainted the bathroom vanity in the guest bath. Step by step for those who like that kind of thing. If you don't, skip ahead to the photo:

  1. Take everything apart. Knobs, hinges, etc.
  2. Sand lightly. Fill in any unwanted holes with wood filler.
  3. Prime with oil-based primer. One coat will do ya.
  4. Paint. You can use a combo of roller and brush, but I learned that the folks at Young House Love were right: skip the foam roller and go with a cotton or fabric roller. Foam rollers = bubbles.

    4a. I chose Dark Granite by Olympic. Don't let the patronizing paint guy at Lowe's talk you out of this color. Specifically his words were, "Now, are you looking for BLACK or ALMOST BLACK?" in a "do you know your colors, little girl?" kind of way. He also pointed out to me that I had picked the wrong paint to tint. I would put money on the bet that he is single.

    4b. I ended up with kitchen/bathroom acrylic latex, semi gloss, base 5. I also ended up with an entire freaking gallon of it, thanks to the advice of the aforementioned patronizer. You will probably need only a quart.
  5. Wait 48 hours. Visit often to admire your nearly finished project. Do not let the doors dry while sitting on the bathroom rug. Trust me.
  6. Add adorable, overpriced knobs. I recommend Anthropologie.
  7. Attach hinges. I bought new ones. Then I bought more new ones that were actually the right kind.
And once again, I have spent two weeks on a painting project and I am vowing never to do one again. But I do love it, so I'll probably be back in a month.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Magnolia Experiments

Thanks to a lovely gift from my bud Sarah B., I have been experimenting with recipes from the Magnolia Bakery. This book is AMAZING. Everything tastes better, from chocolate chip cookies to buttercream frosting.

After a few successful tries with the more traditional outings, I mustered up the courage to try a few new things. For instance, the cookies below. In the book, these are called Chocolate Covered Logs. Frankly, I'm not a big fan of the name. So I renamed them Lindsayfingers. And boy are they delicious! The cookies are kind of a shortbread with orange zest, dipped in chocolate and rolled in hazelnuts. Never made anything like them before, but they were DELISH!

Another recent experiment were mini Key Lime pies. I used the Magnolia recipe for Lime Tart and added it to these Nabisco/Keebler/whatever mini graham cracker crusts. I added a generous glob of homemade whipped cream and brought them to a pool party. They were a huge hit! Only mistake I made was adding the whipped cream before the pies were cool (so it all melted and got messy, but I added more when it cooled off and no one was the wiser ;).

As I get more courageous, I'll keep you posted on the other experiments. Absolutely recommend the cook book for an average baker who is looking to add some OO! to your cOOkie sheet.

Groovy Curtains 1 and 2

When we first moved into our house, we discovered a few, uh, peculiarities left by the previous owner. These included a bathtub on a pedestal (read slipping/falling hazard), a few duct tape interventions and these:

Notice the sheen on the pure poly curtains. On one hand, it's way more disco than I prefer. On the other hand, it makes it harder to see all the oil stains.

So I finally picked out a new fabric and replaced those suckas. I also discovered the Ikea fabric corner, which is separated by color, has funky patterns and totally satisfies my need for organized and limited options (no offense to you SAS-lovers out there; I just can't handle pawing through mounds of fabrics to find what I want!).

I dragged out my little Hello Kitty sewing machine and busted these out in an afternoon:

I'm pretty proud of them. I only stitched up ONE opening, and the seams aren't straight (stop looking at my seams, you Neurotic Nelly!) so overall, pretty sweet.

And I get to cross off an item that has been on my to-do list since we moved in, 2 1/2 years ago. Yay!

Harry Potter treats

Over the summer we got to watch the final Harry Potter movie with our two nephews. To commemorate the occasion, and prove to the boys that their aunt is a hopeless nerd, I made some Harry Potter theme treats.

Pumpkin Pasties:

Assembled with pre-made pie crust (thank you Marie Callender's) and a number of fillings, but mostly pumpkin (made with canned pumpkin and evaporated milk and stuff). Later we added cinnamon apples, fresh apricot, Snickers, Nutella, and ham and cheese. We went a little crazy with the fillings.

I also made these Black Bottom cupcakes (from the Magnolia cookbook) and added chocolate licorice to fashion some Cauldron Cakes:

They were both cute and delicious.

I'm not sure the cuteness really resonated with my super cool nephews, but hey, it made me inordinately happy. Riddikulus!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Losin' It

This time I'm not losing my mind...I'm losing my body!

One of my goals for post-school life was to lose weight. I am about a month out of school and happy to report I've lost about 8 pounds. I'm way excited, but the battle has just begun.

So I thought I would post some of the things that have worked for me. These tips are not meant as a how-to for anyone else...actually it's really just for me so I have something to look at later. Like when I'm thinking of going out for pizza at 11 p.m. and I need a little inspiration.


  • I try to keep track of what I eat. I do much better when I write it down. Makes it more obvious when I cheat or tell myself "well you didn't really eat much today," when it turns out I did!

  • Plants. We buy way more fruits and veggies now, and try to add a little something to every meal. I also bring Pink Lady apples to work as a wonderful, crisp snack. Quite filling, too.

  • Pasta. I basically don't eat pasta anymore. Sad but true. (Don't worry, I plan on breaking this little rule when we visit Italy.)

  • Less. This is a follow up to keeping track of what I eat. I find that I can eat less and still be full and happy.

  • Plan. I do so much better when I pack a lunch for work or plan out some meals for dinner. The worst situation I find myself in is starving and unprepared.


  • We joined a gym. It helps us to exercise together.

  • Spin. I have a spin bike at home to use when the gym is inconvenient.

  • Heart rate. I bought a heart rate moniter. This thing is a game-changer! It's amazing the number of times I have been completely out of breath, sure I was ready to pass out, and my heart rate was at a piddly 150. It also helps me realize when I should probably stop (180).

  • Time. 30 minutes is a joke. I honestly think I have to work out at least 45 minutes a pop to see results. Right now it's all about cardio and sweat (sorry to be offensive, but yes, sweating buckets is part of the plan). I'm hoping once I reach my goal I can focus more on muscle building/toning, but not there yet!


  • If you want to splurge, splurge. We all have birthdays. And in my case, it's usually a birth-week. Just don't use it as an excuse to fall off the wagon.

  • Take your time. If you just ate but are still feeling hungry, give it the Tummy Ten. Or Tummy Twenty if ten seems short.

  • Be aware of boredom. If the gym gets boring, take an interesting class. I took Zumba, where I realized I suck at Zumba. But I might take it again.

Now for anyone who feels compelled to say something nice like tell me I am on the verge of an eating disorder, save it. I want to be healthier and look better. If in a few months I start telling you about my new friend "Anna" or giving advice on how to make yourself throw up, we'll talk.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's all happening again

School is just days away from being over. I only have a few assignments left, and the stress level is at a minimum.

So what do I do? The same thing I did right after my wedding. I find ways to fill the stress gap. This morning I woke up early to worry about my parents' anniversary party today. And I sprinkled that anxiety with a dash of stress about an upcoming event at work.

Neither of these issues are inherently nerve-wracking for me. But it's the next best thing so my mind automatically clutches on to it.

I suppose that part will die down as it did two years ago. Until I find my next big life-changing crisis. :)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Totally Bitchin' Chicken

I stole this from a Weight Watchers recipe book, but did it way lazier than they wanted me to:

- Cook 2 chicken breasts on the stove in light olive oil, garlic salt and pepper
- add cut up veggies such as red and green bell peppers and onions
- in a separate dish, mix up 1/2 cup of light sour cream, 1tsp garam masala and 1tsp cumin.

When the veggies are nearly done, pour the creamy mixture into the pan until all pieces are evenly coated. Add cumin to taste.

T and I just ate this without any rice, but I bet some brown rice or quinoa would have been pretty good, too. Oh, and the recipe actually called for fresh mint and a dash of honey, yadda yadda yadda.

This was delicious and totally bitchin just the way it is!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

It's May Day!

No, that isn't a cry for help. That is a celebratory greeting that means, in short, "Thank goodness April is over because I was ready to collapse!"

April was all things sad and tired: work + school = 7 days a week with no break.

May is all things bright and wonderful: anniversary dinner, housewarming party for our friends, graduation, graduation parties, and a trip to California!

I told myself I just had to get through April and everything would be OK. Well we are about 10 hours into May and I feel like I just barely made it. But I did make it.

No I'm not out of the woods yet. The next few weeks will be very busy, and I still have a class to finish in the month of June before I'm a fully fledged couch potato again.

But I'll be smiling all the way!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Seems like I can't take 20 minutes for myself these days.

Can't wait until May 13th: Graduation and the start of a two-week break from school.

Hope I can make it til then.

Between work and school I have exactly one weekend day to myself in the next MONTH. And that's Easter Sunday. Which will be busy.

Meanwhile my stress eating is giving me a lovely spare tire and fat arms.


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Creativity: Who's Who

Assignment: Take each decade of your life, 0 to 100, and picture what you're doing.

0-10: Trying to find my identity as the fifth of five girls and the older sister of an attention-seeking baby brother. I find success with my quick wit, which is sometimes mistaken for a sassy mouth. I spend a lot of time trying to be like my older sisters but spending the majority of my time with my younger brother.

10-20: I discover boys and have a string of little relationships. I excel in school and music. I make friends with the nice kids in the honors class and usually do not get along with the popular girls. I care less and less about this fact. I start dating a guy named Tony.

20-30: I attend college, move out for the first time and move to Florida for a summer to test my independence. It goes pretty well, but I move home to be close to friends and family. I get my first job as a newspaper reporter and spend my days barking at people on the phone. I enter my second career in public relations. I marry Tony. I get my master's degree.

30-40: Tony and I start a family, either by having kids of our own or adopting. We go through the joys and pains of parenthood. We move to California so Tony can pursue his movie-writing career. I continue to work as I enjoy the interaction of an office and co-workers. I miss my family in Arizona, but we visit often. We visit Paris for the first time. I love it.

40-50: Tony makes it big in his career and I don't need to work anymore. I spend my days working on my book, "The Force of Personality," and continuing to raise kids. This might include carting them around to various activities like horseback riding, piano lessons and French lessons. We take our family to a different exotic locale each year to give them the joy of traveling and the education of culture. Our parents are aging. We feel obligated to move back to Arizona to be closer to family.

50-60: With kids in college or near-adulthood, Tony and I spend our days looking for new projects in which to invest our money and creativity. We spend time with friends and take long weekends up the coast. We still travel, but spend more time in our favorite places rather than trying new ones. We buy a boat and learn how to navigate the shores of the Pacific Coast.

60-70: We become grandparents and discover a new world. We surrender our own free time to spend it all with them, hoping to become the ideal grandparents. Tony takes them on tours of the library and his studio, introducing them to little treasures and wonders he has collected over the years. I teach the kids to bake and dance in the kitchen. We play board games with the family and offer to host slumber parties.

70-80: Age begins to catch up with us, and we decide to slow our pace a little. We move to a smaller home, allowing one of our children or grandchildren to manage our larger place. We make friends in our neighborhood and try to stay in good health with long walks and bike rides. We still enjoy visits from family.

80-90: Tony and I spend most of our time together alone. We reminisce about old times, wish our families would call and talk about what life will be like in the future. I spend time reading a journaling, hoping my posterity would want to read about my life or know something about me. We hire someone to cook and clean for us. Tony hates the intrusion.

90-100: Technology has surpassed our wildest dreams, and we read the news each day on a gadget that hasn't even been imagined at this moment. We wonder at all the new things that come about. We look for pictures of our great-grandchildren in the mail. Or e-mail. Or whatever it is in 2080. We talk about what it would be like to die. We tell each other "I'll miss you." We are happy.

Creativity: Something unpleasant

Something unpleasant I have to do: mop the floor

Three ways to make it enjoyable:
- Turn on a different genre of music for each room. Country for the bathroom. Rock for the living room. Britney for the kitchen.

- Set a timer for 10 minutes. When it rings, take a break and do something fun.

- Buy a new mop or bucket, or try a new technique to make it novel.

I tried the first method. Danced my heart out. Didn't even notice that the floor happened to get clean at the same time.

My Creativity Journal

The following posts are from a journal I've been expected to keep for my creativity class. I sort of use my blog as a journal, so I figured I would just post them and not worry that other people are reading (or worry that no one is reading this blog!).

Creativity Journal Entry 6: The joy

The joy of baking.

So one of the activities that has suffered since I've been in school is baking on the weekends. I love to look up new recipes or buy new cookbooks and experiment with the results.

Luckily, I've been able to sneak in a few items between classes or homework, including mini peach pies, chocolate hazelnut cupcakes, lemon curd cake, pumpkin trifle, sour cream apple pie, chorizo stuffing and mocha brownies.

The nice thing about my kitchen is that I can't watch TV when I bake. I usually just turn on NPR's Saturday radio shows and start mixing it up.

Other things I like about baking is that I use my hands. I'm not very skilled at building things, and I'm not much of an artist, so homespun projects don't always turn out so well. But baking seems to go pretty well most of the time, thanks to the clear instructions of the recipe I'm following.

Baking also gives me immediate results. I get to taste everything along the way, and I get to try it as soon as it's done. I don't always get everything right, but this is one of the few activities I do where I don't really mind if I fail.

And finally, the wonderful thing about baking as a hobby is that you have something fun to share with your friends. My coworkers are more than willing to try the extras (because I always make too much) and my family is always impressed by the final product.

Baking for me is a creative activity. I love that it allows me to try new things, get outside of my head or my email for a while, and spread a little cheer to my friends.

Once school is out, I really look forward to taking some actual classes to refine my skills. My first choice will be cake decorating :)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Creativity: Things I love to do

Actvitiy Last year Last week To do in next week
Read x x
Sleep x x
Shop x

Movies x
Camp x

Rocky Point trip

Spin x
Download songs x x
Go out to breakfast x
See nieces and nephews x

Watch Dexter x

Bake x
Repaint furniture x

Plan DIY projects x

Drive in the car x x x
Attend Sunday dinner with my family x
Paint my toenails x

Sit by the pool

Play on Facebook x x
Financial planning x

Dance party x

Friday, April 01, 2011

Creativity Journal Entry 5: Pink bubbles

Surrendering to sleep

One of the major inhibitors to my creativity, and energy for life in general, is not getting enough sleep. And for me, enough sleep means at least 7 hours a night. I relish my sleep like it's going out of style. And I get extremely crabby if it gets disrupted.

Usually I have something or someone to blame when I don't get enough sleep. But if I'm honest with myself, I am usually the reason for my problem.

When I can't sleep, it's usually because my mind won't turn off. I start thinking about a project at school or work. I start to get really worried about it, like I'm going to forget to do it. Like if I don't think and stress and kill myself over it right at that second, something terrible is going to happen.

So one night, when my mind was cruising at 80 mph, I was reminded of the phrase we learned from The National Geographic video: "When I weave, I weave." It was a directive to live in the moment and stop multitasking. I realized that trying to think and trying to sleep was not only multitasking, but it was impossible to do both at the same time.

So I started to use "When I sleep, I sleep" as a mantra. I repeated it to myself over and over, and tried to use it as a barrier to any rogue thoughts that threatened to interrupt. I thought it worked pretty well.

Another tactic I have used to shoo away stressful thoughts is to imagine these worries as bubbles. Every errant thought is placed inside a bubble, and I watch it float away. And once it's gone, it doesn't come back. Sometimes the bubbles are gray. Or pink. But they all float away once I fill them with my distractions.

Creativity Journal Entry 4: Surrender

Maybe I shouldn't have surrendered so soon.

When I was leaving work the other day, I was rear-ended by a doctor who works at the same hospital. We were both trying to exit the parking lot, and there was a long line of people trying to leave behind us.

At first I was shocked. It felt strange, like I didn't know what really happened. When I got out of the car, I met him at my bumper. He was still on the phone. He was starting to look at my bumper, and I could hear him muttering to himself about how there probably wasn't too much damage. He mumbled something to me about "leaving insurance out of this" and "I'll just take care of this myself."

In a hurry to get home, I did everything wrong. I thought it would be easier if I left the cops/security guards out of this one, and since he didn't want to involve insurance, I just agreed to take his business card and get on my way home. I thought I was just surrendering. Going with the flow. Stopping all the mental striving.

As it turns out, that was a bad idea. I should have gotten the name of a witness. I should have demanded his insurance information. I should have at least called security. Because when I tried to call and get his insurance information later, he was completely rude and refused to give me the information I needed. I was going to have to do everything his way.

It perturbs me when I can see people taking advantage of me. He was trying to intimidate me, and it was working. And as much as my years as a reporter might have prepared me to work with difficult people, I still don't respond well to nasty people. It was basically the reason I stopped being a reporter. But I didn't think I had lost my edge so quickly.

What this experience did was teach me that surrendering doesn't necessarily mean surrendering your rights. When I thought I was being agreeable, I was actually being a pushover. It made me want to explore ways for me to be more assertive. The bad part is that I thought I was assertive.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creativity Journal Entry 3: The race

Race ya to the next bite

During my trip to Baltimore, I got the chance to spend a few days with my sister, mother of three boys. Her middle child is 5, and he expends as much energy being cute as he does creating mischief.

Being around children of this age is not something I normally do. Ironic as it is considering I work at a children's hospital, I don't really spend a lot of time with kids. And since I don't have kids, I certainly don't spend any concentrated amount of time with children if and when I come into contact with them.

But I did happen to pick something up at work, which is that boys around age 5 love to be TIMED. So whether it's a race up the stairs ("I'm gonna beat you!") or a request to be timed doing a certain activity, they want to know who did it the fastest.

I was able to put this principle into play when I noticed that my nephew spends most of his mealtime playing, and very little of it actually eating. He will bug his brother, jump up from his chair or even bust out into spontaneous dancing and singing...essentially anything to avoid eating his food.

So when dinner had already been dragging on without any food leaving his plate, I tried an experiment: I told him that he only had 10 seconds to take his next bite, and I started counting down from 10. He perked up. To add drama, I stared at my wrist as I counted. Note that I did not have on a watch, but it seemed like I did and it made the countdown that much more intense. He started to get nervous. As I approached counting down to the number 1, he quickly took a bite. I acted very relieved. And 2 minutes later, I did it again.

This turned out to be a regular routine at mealtime. While his parents would plead with him to "just sit down and eat," the only thing that truly motivated him was the countdown. Now I'm not claiming to be a parenting expert. Perhaps the novelty would have worn off eventually and he'd go back to avoiding his food. But I think that experiences like these are sort of the essence of creativity. You try something that you are not sure will work, or even if it does, how long it will work. But it doesn't seem to hurt to try, and short-term success is still considered a success. And so is a clean plate.

Creativity Journal Entry 2: Land, Sea and Air

Getting from BWI to the Baltimore Marriott via cab and water taxi

I needed a creative idea. When I landed at the Baltimore airport, I knew there would be difficulties in traveling to my hotel. The children's hospital conference organizers informed all the attendees that a St. Patrick's Day might add a delay to our journey. I figured that meant some slower traffic. I was wrong.

It turns out that the parade, which was being held the Sunday before Thursday's holiday, was a traffic nightmare. It blocked the main road that provided access to the hotel, and its participants would be celebrating until 5 p.m. I had arrived at the airport at 1:30 p.m. And I needed to have my display ready to go before 5 p.m. I was in a pickle.

I approached the Super Shuttle service provided from the airport. The informed me that it would be IMPOSSIBLE for them to take me to my hotel. IMPOSSIBLE. As in, no roads would ever take me to this hotel...until 5 p.m. Not being familiar with the area, I took them at their word.

So I needed another route to the hotel. I noticed another woman asking similar questions to mine. It turns out she was going to the same conference as me, so I asked her if she wanted to team up and find a creative solution. After much plotting and questioning of the information desk volunteer, we decided to take a cab to the inner harbor of Baltimore, and take a watertaxi to our destination.

So, luggage in tow, we took a cab to one side of the harbor with little problem. Taking a watertaxi was a different story. This wasn't just any watertaxi. Passengers could not just stand at the shore and hail the next boat that drove by. This was a sightseeing taxi, and it had several stops around the harbor before it came anywhere near our hotel. However, it did come, we did board, and we did make it to our hotel, with about 30 minutes before I had to be ready for my presentation.

In hindsight, I probably could have chartered a taxi and just paid the driver to take the long way around the parade. Being from Arizona, water travel is not my usual means of transportation. But it sounded, well, a little romantic. Very "Italian Job." And I loved the idea that I could tell people that I traveled by land, air and sea just to make it to the conference.

I liked this creative solution that arose by collaborating with people I didn't know, and rejecting the narrow-minded solution provided by the airport shuttle folks, who should have been better informed.

Who knows? It may have taken just as long and maybe less money to take a regular cab ride, but the new experience was definitely worth the wait.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Creativity Journal Entry 1: Ash Wednesday

Today I tried something new. I attended Ash Wednesday services with my co-worker, who is Catholic. I have attended Catholic Mass before as a visitor, but never to watch the ceremonies associated with certain holidays, such as Ash Wednesday.

We got there a little late, but found a seat with an excellent view of the proceedings. The first feeling I had was that of respect. Here is a religion that is centuries old, governed by sacred rites and rituals that have their roots in Biblical times. This is a religion that is home to millions of followers. And I was watching one of their most basic rituals.

I marveled as I watched the throngs of people line up in front of the ministers to have the ashes of burned palm fronds wiped on their foreheads, for all to see. Each person, including very small children, were told to turn away from sin. Then they returned to their seats, the mark clearly upon their heads, the ponder about the implications of the day. I researched later and found that the mark on the forehead was to remind the believers to be humble, that the mark itself might remind them of their insignificance and spiritual debt.

The sermon that followed focused on the ensuing 40-day Lent, where believers choose a personal habit or sin to give up for 40 days. The priest encouraged the crowd to eschew gossip and passing judgment on other people. I thought this extremely appropriate as I pondered this week's "Live With" rule to silence the voice of judgment.

It occurred to me that when we are spending time criticizing others or ourselves, we are losing time to develop new ideas or solutions. Adding to this lost time is the death spiral that can occur when you beat yourself up over an idea or an event. Negativity begets negativity, which leaves the mind barren and scorched...hardly a fertile ground for creativity.

So perhaps I should give something up for Lent, even though I'm not Catholic. Maybe I will take the priest's advice to let go of judgment. And allow this unique experience to make some room in my thoughts for positive idea creation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Top 10 Things I'd Rather Be Doing

I have a couple days off school this week, which has led me to reflect on my life before school. Dinner. Sleep. TV. These are all little relics I sometimes think about.

Now don't get me wrong. I like school and it was definitely the right choice. But these little doses of freedom just get me thinking about things I wish I could do if I had time. And things I may just accomplish once school is over.

So here goes...Top 10 Things I'd Rather Be Doing:

10. Finishing my Craigslist desk. Still needs a fancier bulletin board and new knobs.
9. Sewing curtains for the guest bathroom.
8. Planning our video submission to HGTV.
7. Taking a cake decorating class.
6. Working out. I do it in the mornings sometimes but I am not good at getting up in the morning.
5. Seeing family and friends. Right now I often miss parties or dinner invites, and I would love to reconnect with some of these people. Husband included!
4. Buying and hanging cabinets in the laundry room. Never done cabinets before so I figure just a few couldn't be so hard, right?
3. Vacuuming my car. I guess I could go to the car wash and have them do it. But when?
2. Going on a taste-cation. I love a good theme. Why not apply a theme to the next vacation? I would even combine a stay-cation with a taste-cation and try new restaurants in the city. Ta-stay-cation?
1. Sleeping. I went to bed at 9:30 the other night and it was so blissful.

I guess blogging would be number 11. I've noticed that I blog about twice a month. Kinda pathetic, but hey at least you know what I'm doing when I'm not blogging, right?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Desk it Yourself

Another great Craigslist purchase has finally made it indoors. If you look very hard, you can tell that this desk was sort of a Southwesty beige color. Not sure why it's Southwest, but it felt that way, and it looked pretty ugmo.

Note the little drawing left by the previous owner, a 7-year-old girl. :) We hauled this thing away for $100, which wasn't bad considering it has a light and a hutch. Perfect for my guest room and my Hello Kitty sewing machine. Please pardon the junk already piled beneath it. I sorta suck at taking blog pictures.

But now the dilemma is what to do with that cork board. Much as I love the little drawings, I painted without tape and with the plan to cover the cork with something. Paint? Fabric? Metal? I've had a few good suggestions from friends. This is what I've fashioned using the free image software called, no kidding, GIMP:

Slate blue. I have other blue accents in the room. This is probably not my favorite idea.

Argyle? I stole this image from Google without looking closely at the pattern, which has little skulls. Not sure I would find this at Jo Ann's, but I might be able to find a less skullish argyle pattern.

This is probably my favorite idea. I like the swirlies. Definitely looking for more ideas! And now that I have a space to work on more sewing projects, I could even sew this mutha. Very excited to finally have this addition to my space. I had been searching for the right one for months, and then had to take the required time to prime, paint and cure. And wipe off the little paw prints left by the numskulls known as Beverly and Merriweather!

Monday, January 31, 2011

The REAL city of lights

First day back from a weekend trip to Las Vegas. Doesn't it seem like the day after vacation always sucks? I'm spilling liquids on myself in the car, I hate my outfit, I can't tune the radio to my favorite station...the list of atrocities goes on. Maybe this week seems so terrible because the weekend was so very fantastic.

I always like to blog about our trips not so much because anything significant happened but because I will likely forget it in 6 months if I don't write this stuff down.
So the following is a list of highlights and lowlights from Vegas 2011:

  • Hotel room was nice; hotel (Excalibur) itself a little ghetto. But the price was crazy low so I guess I can't complain.

  • Weather was beautiful. Sunny and warm during the day, little chilly at night.

  • We saw two Vegas shows, which we never do (probably because we're super cheap and prefer free shows). We saw Zumanity by Cirque du Soleil and Penn & Teller. Both were amazing in their own ways. The first had a lot more nudity than the second, which is probably best.
    - extra highlight from Zumanity: the midget who flew around the room holding on to a curtain.

  • We ate at First Food and Bar, which is pricey but very tasty. We also ate at Bouchon, which is pricey and completely overrated. It sounds like it should be amazing, but I was even disappointed by the chocolate croissant. Seriously, how can a French restaurant screw that up?
    - extra highlight from Bouchon: the middle-aged couple seated next to us kept staring at us and listening to our conversation. The wife finally made up a reason to talk to us and proceeded to point out the "celebrity" at the next table, who was nobody famous and she was a little delusional.

  • We hit the buffet at the Rio and the Bellagio. Bellagio won, hands down. We tested the limits of human consumption and loved every minute of it.

  • We saw The King's Speech. Amazing. Highly recommend.

  • The worst part of the trip was our car trouble, wherein my Honda would not get into gear while we were driving down the Strip...MEGA scary. But even that wasn't a huge crisis. We drove to an auto parts store (entirely in second gear) and bought some brake fluid, which provided a temporary fix and meant that we were headache-free for the rest of the trip!
I'm facing several weeks of intense school and work commitments, so I'm very grateful we had this opportunity to get away. I'd love to make this an annual trip if possible; midgets will be optional.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Love Letter to Love Letters

The other day I came home in a huge funk. To cheer me up, Tony showed me something I wrote in his high school year book: a page-long love letter that was so VERY deep and serious. It also contained impeccable grammar. Guess I had the hots for him.

So I pulled out my ceramic turtle from Rocky Point that Tony got me several years ago. It holds a small collection of notes that Tony wrote to me in high school and college. Most of them are on "On-Star Auto Glass" stationery, and make references to finding his way around ASU campus, weird people in his drawing class and how much he missed me.

We would write these letters in school and give them to each other at the end of the day or between breaks. We don't do that now; it's mostly phone calls and text messages.

At the risk of sounding like a total curmudgeon, is this a lost art? Can't imagine any teenagers feel the need to write messages on ther Five Star notebooks when they can just send a text. I guess e-mail is a little more permanent, and for a long time we both saved our early e-mails to each other from our Hotmail accounts. Then Hotmail deleted them before we could print them out.

It was so fun to sit next to Tony, laughing at these notes and remembering how much I liked him, even then. Now, 12 years later, they are just as meaningful. Inspires me to start writing these letters again. I might need another ceramic turtle.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Home Remedies

I had the unfortunate honor of being sick over the holidays. It started on Christmas Eve and kept going for 12 DAYS. So it's sort of like the 12 days of Christmas from HELL. The sad part is that I always pride myself on never getting sick and never taking sick days at work. Well this one threw me for a loop. It had it all: coughing, sore throat, the never-ending headache, low energy...the works!

Throughout all of this, I began seeking home remedies. I found some pretty interesting stuff. No guarantees on whether any of it works, but worth a read I think:

Kickapoo Joy Juice: A favorite of my brother Dally. Drink 8 oz of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a dash of lemon juice and some honey to sweeten. Repeat way more than you can stomach. (Not exactly clear on the amounts in this recipe FYI.)

Salt Water: The New York Times recently posted a story about a study looking at the effects of gargling with salt water. The conclusion was that it prevented colds and made other colds shorter. I tried it a few times but had a hard time controlling my gag reflex.

Netti Pot: There is a cult-like following for this nasty business. Essentially, you pour a salt water mixture through one side of your nose and watch it cascade gracefully from the other. I did not buy a real one, but sort of jerry-rigged one that only kind of worked. It DID clear up my sinuses, and I've heard good things from people who use it regularly. My husband refused to be in the room while I did it; I think it preserved our marriage to keep this private. I might try it again if I got really sick.

Vicks on the feet: Rub Vicks Vapo-Rub on your feet and put on socks right before bed to cut down on nighttime coughing. I don't know how much this helped but I was already putting Vicks on my neck and face so why not the feet, right?

Definitely still open to ideas. I'm hoping that I am excused, jury-duty style, from another nasty cold like this. If not, I will totally Kickapoo.