Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brownies and Bunco

Joe was out of town all last weekend giving me one of those two day chunks of time that are rare and oddly delightful.  Having lived with someone for the last twelve years, nearly ten of marriage and two as my mother would say "living in sin," I relish the occasional stretches of time by myself. I like it. Forty eight hours that I don't have to compromise or discuss or finagle plans with someone else, someone else whom I love and deeply enjoy finagling with, but I can be selfish and eat dip for dinner while standing in the kitchen in my underwear, which I certainly wouldn't claim that I did or didn't do this weekend. Certainly not. But it also flies by incredibly quickly, especially if you fill it up with plans, which I promptly did.

Blackberry Cream Cheese Brownies

Friday night I ran a ton of errands and hit the grocery store for supplies, and then came home to an entirely empty house which I promptly filled with the smell of baking brownies and possibly the messiest kitchen I've ever created from cooking just one item. The recipe for Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies, made special for my Bunco Girls Night on Saturday, were crazy delicious but I found myself using more utensils, bowls and tools than I normally even think about needing. Part of this was the fact that I was tired and slightly off my game, but mostly there were just a lot ingredients and a lot of required layers. I subbed out the raspberry jam for blackberry jam since that's what I had on hand, but they were rich and decadent and more like cake than brownie. Next time I might increase the cream cheese to brownie ratio, because who doesn't need more cream cheese?

Saturday I slept in a bit and then lounged around and read a new book that I get to write a review for on Blogher sometime in April. I had to finish reading it quickly so that I could write the review by Tuesday, so it was fun to have a bit of a deadline again, like a school assignment. I nerded out and underlined passages and beautiful quotes, took notes and sketched out my thoughts as I read the novel. God, it was fun. (Thanks for editing, Kristen!) Then the rest of the day was spent doing general house cleaning and prep for the ladies. Because 7 o'clock rolled around and the women began to arrive!

Bunco Ladies

With appetizers and easy money in hand, my ten friends appeared, ready to duel it out for that glorious airbrushed Bunco Babe title or actual cold hard cash. Bunco is the silliest, easiest dice game in the world. It's simply an excuse to get together and hang out with each other, snack and trash talk, drink and try to win each other's money.  We really should make sure it happens more than once or twice a year. But busy schedules and kids and work usually keep that from happening. We twelve women sit around the tables and gamble and laugh and mock each other and ring the bell and it's a blast.

Bunco Aftermath

I might have lost my money, but the delicious lime rum daiquiris and the time to catch up with friends I haven't seen in months was totally worth the cash. I then proceeded to stay up until almost two in the morning, watching Pretty Woman for the 1,000th time, reading and catching up on 7 Days photo commenting.  Sunday morning came early and it was time to help my mother with some house projects, including cleaning out her closet. I'll be discreet, but it was an undertaking. We went through her very large, very full, very cluttered closet and after almost five hours it was nearly empty. That was a good feeling. I was happy to help her and left with a sense of accomplishment and a serious desire to clean out my own closet. So my free and easy weekend was filled with cream cheese, girl friends, rum, books, dice, Julia Roberts and a little closet charity. Not bad. What'd you do?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Good Night and Until We Meet Again

Final 7 Days shot for Spring 2011. Shot with Joe's Nikon D-90 and turned black and white with the iPad Camera Bag app.

I'm tired today. I stayed up way too late reading last night. It's the good kind of tired really. When I realized it was after midnight, I grabbed the camera, and hopped back in bed. This is what every evening looks like in our house. Reading before bed, like so many of my fellow book aficionados/7 Dayers is a requirement. I like to drift off with stories filling my dreams and leaving me to wonder "what's going to happen next?" This book is particularly cool because it's an unpublished galley copy that I get to review for another website. Can you say book nerd nirvana? Must finish by Tuesday so I know what I'm doing for a good chunk of the weekend.

Hope you have a lovely rest of your Friday, get enough sleep to function properly and I'll be waiting right here reading until 7 Days comes back in June! Bye!

7 Days:7 Alternate
7 Days Alternate shot, I liked the warm colors.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Making Sparklies - 7 Days: Day 6

making sparklies - day 6

Tonight after a late meeting, I came home, changed into my pjs, scarfed down a little dinner and settled in to do something creative and relaxing. I owed a couple of friends/coworkers some earrings to match other pieces that they had already purchased from my little side business. So I pulled out the multitude of bead boxes and got down to it. I love the peaceful and relaxing task of sorting through and matching shiny, jewel colored beads, twisting and turning silver and making something sparkly and dangly out of basic materials.  I made a big mess. Beads all scattered about, bits and pieces of old earrings, clipped wire, head pins, clasps and flat, creamy pearl discs. I like how both pairs of earrings turned out, I hope the ladies do too. I have two more pairs to make, a necklace to shorten and then maybe I'll start making a few new pieces and get that etsy shopping going. I keep saying that, but maybe I can actually make it happen. It is on my life list after all. Just don't hold your breath waiting.



Can I Sit With You?

I received an incredibly flattering email in February. The best kind of an email that a little blog writer can receive actually. It was from Jennifer Byde Myers. Now who is Jennifer Byde Myers you ask? I asked the same thing actually when I received her email. Turns out she's the fabulous lady who runs the website, Can I Sit With You? , along with her friend and co-founder, Shannon Des Roches Rosas. In case you haven't heard about Can I Sit With You?, let me fill you in.

Can I Sit With You? is a website that compiles true stories, written by regular people, describing the social stresses and often traumatic tales of middle and high school kids. It's kind of like an It Gets Better Project for everyone. Can I Sit With You? publishes these personal, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking stories to help kids understand that everyone deals with the same struggles, fears and concerns and that we all can survive it. They post these stories to their blog and then annually compile them into a book. 100% of proceeds from the sales of the book go to help children with disabilities in Redwood City, CA schools. While the fund raising cause may be very specific, I think the purpose and impact of this website can be universal. That sense of feeling alone and isolated can be so uncomfortable and painful for kids, and these stories can help alleviate that sense of being outside, looking in.

So back to that email that made me squeal a bit more than I'd like to admit, I was honored that Jennifer  asked if they could publish a couple of my blog posts over on their site. She posted the first one today, in which I reveal my not so secret theater nerd history. So take a minute when you have a chance, and go read some of the other great posts over at Can I Sit With You? If you have a preteen or teenager in your house, send them over too. They might find a story that speaks to them and helps to make them feel normal. Because feeling normal can be hard to come by in high school!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Day Sunny Side Up

5:45am- Dragging myself forcibly out of bed. I am pissy about this fact and this is just silly. I need something bright to wear to fix this attitude. YELLOW!

7:00am - At the office early, first iced coffee of the spring sucked down, power brooch in place like Madeline Albright, prepping for a meeting, agenda writing, researching and document wrap up. A little hectic but the office is empty which is good.

10:00am- Meeting ended, receive lovely compliment that I really needed after an unpleasant end to yesterday's work day. I like work.

10:15am- Second meeting, frustrating situation finds resolution with minimal blood shed and peppered laughter. My tone of voice might have been a little harsh, eh, scaring people is good on occasion.

11:00am- Third meeting so far, give fifteen minute Excel lesson to seventy five year old board member. She couldn't figure out how to print. How frustrating for such a simple thing to trip you up. She was very sweet and very frustrated. She was also wearing one of those awesome windbreaker outfits in bright 80's colors. I love her.

11:30am- Bonus lunch with the delightful Kristen! Highlight of the day so far. (Chicken havarti bagel thin sandwich from Einstein Brothers: highly. recommend. it.)

12:45 to 5:00pm- A shockingly meeting free afternoon so I'm tackling projects, knocking down database imports, grant writing, phone calls and donor reports.

5:15pm- 7pm - Coffee with Tara, Caroline and baby Madeline (not Madeline Albright,) and a toffee nut cookie. Conversation filled with talk of career paths, job hunting war stories, babies, romantic anniversary trips, Bunco and fashion. Yeah girl friends!

7:20pm- Home, comfy clothes, kiss husband, heat up leftovers, and decide that I have too many good photos from the day and now I must collage because one photo is just not enough today and I need to get to commenting!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lunch Break Face

I had about thirty minutes between meetings today to run out and grab lunch and breathe. For me, the most restorative lunches often involve grabbing something easy (chicken nuggets, side salad, diet coke today,) finding a quiet place to park my car, on good days rolling the windows down (like today) and reading. Today I was reading You Know When the Men are Gone, a short story collection about army and military families written by Siobhan Fallon. It is beautiful and meticulous and took my mind off of work. I nearly lost track of time.

My alternate photo was the default collage, which I tend to choose: 1. Because I'm not that great on the technical side of photography yet and apps tend to jazz up boring photos as we all know. And 2. I like to tell stories and the collage always lets me cram more in a small space. But since I collaged yesterday, I went simple today. The look on my face when I'm reading something I love. Something I'm sure my fellow 7 Dayers totally understand

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sushi? Fo Sho!

7 Days: 3- Edamame Monday

My 7 days shot including perfect Monday broken chopsticks.

It's Monday. I should applaud the arrival of a new week. I'm breathing, and employed. My skin is relatively clear. I don't want to smack my husband. I have a nightstand full of books to chose from. The weather was pretty damn spectacular today. But it is still Monday. My least favorite day of the week. I know you feel the same way. In order to counteract the devastatingly dull effects of another Monday, Joe and I met for sushi right after work.

My alternate shot that I frankly don't remember taking, but I'm a bit shiny. It was warm and I'm dewy (read oily.)

We have two favorite sushi restaurants in Kansas City. They serve two distinct and dynamite purposes. Haru is our going out for sushi and a movie restaurant. It's across town, but right by a really big movie theater. And they serve the best spicy crab salad, in the history of spicy crab salads (that I've eaten, so like three.) It's filled with sirimi crab, mango, panko cripsy bread crumbs, julienned cucumber and spicy mayo. For a perfect date night, movie and Haru it is. Their sushi is quite good as well, always very fresh and creative. But on a regular week night, just running to do take out or for a quick sushi fix, we hit Kokoro Maki House.

They know us at Kokoro. A friendly, casual family restaurant, Mom and Dad make the sushi, both Sons alternate between studying and running the register. The family is from Korea and evidently Kokoro also serves some of the best Korean food in town, though we do not know this from personal experience. As Joe just said, "Damned if I've eaten Korean when I can have sushi!"  And they always know Joe when he walks in the door.  This is Joe's happy sushi face. I believe he just popped a New York Roll into his mouth. New York Roll or the Big Apple Roll is made with smoked salmon, crispy apple and cream cheese. It makes smiles magically appear. We also had some salty edamame, the Yum Yum roll, Philly, and Sunday Morning. A nice medley of probably quite Americanized hand rolls but they are perfect. And enough for leftover late night snacking while commenting on 7 Days photos. At least for one of us, I'll let you guess which one.

I like having a local neighborhood restaurant. I like meeting my husband after work and sitting quietly and decompressing after a hectic day. We found ourselves taking silly photos, popping edamame beans in our mouths, and then just sitting there looking at each other. It was one of those nights were we didn't talk much. Neither one of us was chatty tonight. And that's one of the wonderful things about being in a long term relationship. We sat comfortably in silence off and on throughout dinner and it was perfect. Sitting together, enjoying being together and not having to say a word. Just using chop sticks, and enjoying the cool, light and spicy flavors, and coming home together.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

7 Days: Day 2 - Heading Back Down

Red Rock Steps

We've had a lovely weekend in Omaha, but now it's time to go. I'm running down the stairs to load up our suitcases and head back down to Kansas City.  And this certainly fits nicely in the 7 Days theme today which is "down."
Joe's parents have a beautiful log home that faces a small lake. it's relaxing and all naturey. When they first bought the house a few years ago it had these rickety and tilting red rocks in place as stairs. Omaha gets quite a bit of snow, so uneven red rocks don't make for the best stairs, especially to walk up a rather steep hill to their front door.


Shortly after moving in, they replaced the rocks with these lovely curving steps, bright green metal railings and these gorgeous staggered multi level flower beds surrounded by red rocks. Some of the rocks even have dark gray leaf fossil impressions in them. Its all very organic and natural and ties into the house perfectly. I love sitting here and watching fireworks in the summer, or the gazing at the lake, or waving hi to neighbors walking their dogs or riding around the neighborhood on bikes. But it's a beautiful place to spend some time. I particularly love these stairs in the summer when all the flowers are in bloom and fill their yard with life.  Not quite there yet, but you can see those crocus are just the first sign.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's Baaaaack! 7 Days: Day 1

How do I know that it's the middle of March? Because 7 Days is back!
We are up in Omaha for the weekend and thought we would kick off this 7 Days round with a little group shot. The lovely Bethany and her daughters are visiting from D.C. so we got together at our favorite breakfast spot, Wheatfields. It was loud and filled with tie dyed shirt wearing waitresses and lots of rowdy families. The gang of us crammed into a slightly too small booth with Joe's mom, Bethany's mom, niece Aurora, Joe, me and of course Annalie and Elliora (who is even cuter in person if that's possible.) We talked, stuffed our faces, built elaborate towers out of creamer containers and promptly knocked them over. And then we needed some outdoor time to run around, I mean the kids did, ok we did too. But what had been a sunny mild day had turned gray and windy. We headed over to Cancer Survivor's Park and ran around, picked up leaves, spun babies around, took pictures and generally tried to stay warm. Can't wait to see what Joe and Bethany's look like, I'll post links once they post them, but here's mine. And now I've got to get back to Flickr and get to commenting. See you tomorrow!

Breezy Brunch with Bethany and her brood

Friday, March 18, 2011

Playing Tourist

Two weeks ago Joe's parents, Sherry and John came to visit us and ironically I'll end up posting this while we are driving up to visit them in Omaha! (Sorry, I'm behind a bit on posting about our weekend festivities.) We don't normally cram visits this closely together but out of town friends are in Omaha this weekend, so the timing worked out well. But anyway, I digress. Back to two weeks ago, we got to play tourists!

Joe and I have lived in Kansas City together for almost 11 years. And I've lived here since I was three, with a brief five year stint in Lawrence and a year in Philadelphia. But this is home. I feel like I know this city. Know it pretty well in fact. But I'm still constantly surprised by all the things we miss out on experiencing. Lack of time, our routine, weekend laziness, we get stuck out in the burbs sometimes. But we try to take advantage of the great art, museums, architecture and other amenities in our city as often as we can. (That life list helps me keep all this fun crap in my mind though, thank god, planetarium/Union Station post coming soon.) It especially helps us get out and mix it up in the city when we have out of town company staying with us.

Rozzelle Court

In all the time we've lived here and in the multiple visits that Joe's parents have made, we've shockingly never taken them to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. The Nelson is one of my all time favorite places in the whole wide world. I've come here countless times, on school field trips as a fifth grader, where we sat down in a long row in front of this enormous Asian screen covered in dragons and had to sketch our own dragons and then write a dragon themed story. Wandering around as a high school student absorbing all the Impressionist art that I adored, trying to comprehend the modern art that was way over my head at the time. Taking guided tours with Joe, spending hours just quietly looking and thinking. Most importantly, that restaurant right above and below, Rozzelle Court, is where Joe and I got engaged. Of course we headed right there first on Saturday when Joe's parent's arrived. Time for lunch and a little touring and reminiscing. Did I mention the key lime pie?

Sherry and John lunchin'

The Wuppers and Shuttlecocks

Shuttle cocks

We visited the whimsical and playful shuttle cocks that make the Nelson sculpture garden look like one enormous badminton court. They used to be controversial, which I thought was ridiculous, but I think 99% of visitors adore them now. I do. We wandered around outside on that bright, cool spring day and then headed back inside to wait in line to take a look at the original rules of basketball from one James Naismith. Though everyone knows I'm not a huge sports fan, as a KU girl I can't help but feel a little giddy at the chance to peer down at this little slice of typed history. Peppered with tiny hand written corrections and notes, it was fascinating to picture young men shooting hoops into peach baskets while wearing woolen uniforms. In stark comparison to the modern televised March Madness, bracket highlighting, intensive game watching, followed by ensuing bracket chaos at our house this week.

Outside Nelson


We didn't visit every collection in the entire museum. We didn't want to kill Joe's parents. Taking about three hours, including lunch, we hit the highlights. The ridiculously gorgeous and extensive Asian collection, with full rooms of reconstructed temples and statues right out of India and China, rooms where you stand in revered silence, admiring the detail and colors that have lasted through centuries.

Asian Temple

Curvaceous Indian gods and goddess saved from the walls of temples, though carved from stone, so fleshy and lifelike I would swear their body temperature is 98.6. You want to rest your hand against their smooth rounded bodies. Don't, you'll get reprimanded.

After wandering around Asia, we headed over to the Native American exhibit which is wonderful, newly redone, and laid out in a geographical pattern, letting you wander through the collection in groupings from the plains to the Northwest to Alaska. I could spend hours here. Examining small figural calendars, baskets woven with tiny quail feathers and bits of shell, graphic black, white and red masks, sculptural figures like this guy below, who was actually in my dream a few night ago, laughing and taunting some school children. Odd, but compelling. Then to the new building, which isn't really that new anymore.

We hit my favorite, the African art section. While fairly small, they have some really spectacular pieces, particularly some masks and large beaded stools like the one below. Not Joe, the blue, red, white entirely blanketed in tiny seed beads guy behind him. Yes, all that color is from beads. It's amazing, intricate and I can only imagine how much time it took to create it.

Sherry and the guard

Sherry and Roy, the wax guard who has been watching over the modern art collections since the late 1970's, and used to terrify me as a kid. Uniforms have changed, Roy stays the same. Not even needing a haircut.


We toured the immaculate photography exhibit of Ray Metzker, whose stark use of light in his black and white photographs from Philadelphia and Chicago in the 1950's to 1970's capture the city life of everyday people, in highlighted brilliance. After all these varied collections, you can't ignore the Block building itself. Sweeping white curves, smooth planes, quiet sunlit corners. It is a relaxing, informal and welcoming space, in perfect modern balance to the original museum structure.

Modern Nelson

I think Sherry and John enjoyed the afternoon. I know I did. Having the opportunity to take some of my favorite people to spend the day at one of my all time favorite places made for a pretty stellar Saturday. Just call me next time you're in the area, I'll take you too.

That evening we headed out to dinner at our local Mexican restaurant, Guadalajara Cafe, which I've blogged about numerous times, it's that good. Sherry specifically requested that we take her there after all the talk. We dined, margarita-ed and tried some delicious authentic fare selected for us by our waiter. Sunday morning we had some friends over for brunch, including a friend of Sherry's who lives in Kansas City, my mother who gets along with Sherry so well that it's a little scary, and Tara, Mike and Maddie. Because every brunch needs an adorable baby! Otherwise what's there to take pictures of? Breakfast casserole? Bagels? Sleepy people drinking coffee?

Maddie and Mom

Maddie and Dad

Sherry, Judy and John

Though it was a bit of a whirlwind 24 hour visit, I'm thrilled that Sherry and John took the time to swing down to Kansas City. We got to hang out, take in the sights and share some of the reasons I'm proud to call myself a Kansas Citian. And now I need to go pack for our trip to Omaha!

Photos by Joe Sands, a couple of the art piece shots were from me. But mostly Joe, of course.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It Smells All Like India Up in Here

I ventured into unknown culinary territory this week. And it was spicy, tangy and quite tasty. And much less difficult than I anticipated. I was sick earlier in the week and decided that throwing together a big old slow cooker meal would be the easiest way to feed us both for several days, with minimal effort.

I stumbled upon this recipe for Crockpot Chicken Vindaloo in an article about slow cooker meals and it looked delicious. I've never dabbled in cooking Indian food before. One of my dear friends, Neha, is Indian-American and her mother is an amazing cook, whose food I've gotten to try a few times. Joe and I like Indian food: tandoris, lamb korma, chicken tikka masala, mango chicken, all the rich, delectable vegetable side dishes. And of course garlic naan, plain naan, any naan, frankly. But I have zero experience cooking any of these types of dishes. I love the spices: cumin, curry, peppers, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. For my first Indian attempt, I went with easy.

Crockpot Chicken Vindaloo

The sauce started with a mix of just those spices, delicious spices, plus some hot pepper and garlic blended together with canned tomatoes, since I didn't have any tomato sauce on hand like the recipe called for. I added a little chicken stock since the sauce was very thick and I was worried that it wouldn't cover the chicken and keep it moist while cooking. Then some chopped onion, mustard seeds and those quartered chicken breasts, the lid smacked down on the top, and we're cooking.

The sauce itself was delicious and tasted similar to a dish we've had at Masala. Sadly, the chicken was a touch overcooked and a bit dry. Odd how that happens in a Crockpot sometimes. I only cooked it for about three and a half hours since the times on these recipes always seem too long to me. But still overcooked.  I'd probably swap out chicken thighs instead of breasts next time. But after shredding up the chicken and mixing it in the sauce, it was perfect. The sauce needed a little doctoring first though. I added a little brown sugar to cut the strong vinegar flavor, a shot or two of Siracha to increase the heat and more salt to balance out the flavors. It was yummy, the sweetness of the clove and cinnamon mixed with the mustard seed and vinegary tomato flavors was perfect. When Joe got home from work he walked up the stairs and said "It smells all like India up in here." And it did, the house was filled with the aromatic smells of an Indian spice market.

We both loved the meal, served over kasmati rice, it was a nice change of pace. And as soon as Trader Joe's opens here I'm stocking up on some of their frozen naan. Because to make this meal perfect, all we needed was a little naan. I want to get more adventurous and try something more daring next time and I think I know just who to ask for some recipe ideas! Neha?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Small, Delightful Acts of Kindness

I've had a lot on my mind lately. My brain is full with long term planning decisions, chewing on my petty jealousies and thinking too much of the unfairness of life. (Earthquakes, devastation, violent political revolutions, union busting, and of course my own personal shit.) I tend to get sucked into the vortex of my own over-thinking and general ennui on occasion. I've had a nasty sinus thing since Sunday night, felt bedraggled and achy and lethargic and from there it's a quick slide into the mopes. These are short term mopes but still, the mopes taste bland and gray and interminable. And then this thing landed in my lap to snap me out of it today.

I was catching up on my Google Reader feed and stumbled upon this wonderful post from a baker, Amanda Rettke, whose blog I love to read. Amanda had put up a contest offering to bake two dozen cookies for a few people who really needed the pick me up. She opened up her comments to choose the lucky recipients from stories that people posted and then was inundated with hundreds of deserving people wanting a little sugar love. She felt overwhelmed and unable to accommodate all the needs. And so she asked her readers to help. She asked people to volunteer to make cookies for a stranger. Take the time and money to make and ship cookies off into the world to someone you've never met. And I signed up to do it. For purely selfish reasons, because I like to bake, I like putting a smile on someone's face, and it made me feel good immediately. The mere idea of participating in this project made me feel better than I've felt in days. And I firmly believe we should do things that make us feel good. I broke out into a huge toothy grin just reading all the comments from people agreeing to help. Is this an enormous life changing commitment to bake cookies for some family in need? Nope. But it is a small delight just for someone else. 

It got me thinking. What other small delightful projects are out there that I can participate in to help other people? I'm not volunteering anywhere right now and I miss that. But I think I can find a good way to help other people with my own skills while taking a tiny small burden off of someone else's shoulders for a moment, just with a homemade treat, or new earrings, or a donated book or an offer to babysit, or an extra quarter in their meter.

I've been reading How to Be Good by Nick Hornby (it's funny and awkward and deeply good.) And while the extreme ends that this family in the story are going to to help people in their community, radical and kooky ends, it also has gotten me thinking: what else can I do? I've been incredibly blessed with good health, friends, family, job and all of that. Yes, Joe and I donate financially to causes that we support. I've volunteered regularly throughout my life and I work for a nonprofit. But how much of that is actually about helping and thinking about other people's needs, in tangible, immediate ways?

I'm on the look out for those tiny delightful opportunities. I've got a few people in mind that I think I'm going to give some attention. But I would love any recommendations about people you think are deserving of a little pick me up. Just email me or post a comment if you think I could help. Now I'm starting to think about what cookies I need to bake for my stranger next week!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One Whole Year of Action

Why, hello there! Do you know what today is? It's the year anniversary of my Bravely Obey in Action List! Yeah, I didn't know either until I was fixing some broken links on it last night and realized, hey, it's been a whole year since I whipped that little list up. In honor of those 46 items, I thought it might be the perfect time to check in, see what I've crossed off and see what's up next. Frankly, I seem to have included a lot of long term, step-by-step items so that means lots of baby steps and not a lot of crossing off. But baby steps are adorable if stumbly, so I'm ok with that.


12. Design a garden with plantings for each season. - When my mother-in-law Sherry was in town last weekend (another blog post I still need to write) we had a great discussion about the gardening project. She generously offered to come down to KC sometime in late April/early May to help me design, shop, select and then the dirty part, actually plant our new perennials and annuals. Now our yard will look more beautiful and less mulchy. And since Joe hates to actually do the planting, it will be fun to work on the project with someone who really loves getting dirt under their fingernails.

 From the very cool San Fran postcard collecting club (Click on the postcard to visit the site,)
this one from the collection of Lew Baer.

17. Take an international vacation for our 10th wedding anniversary. - Instead of an international vacation, which just isn't in our budget right now, we have opted for the cosmopolitan and delightful San Francisco Bay area! It's a part of the country that Joe and I have both visited in the past and adore. We are spending about five days in San Francisco and then heading over to Monterrey and Santa Cruz, visiting some friends, attending Joe's cousin's college graduation and seeing some family. A long ten day trip in June and I can't wait. Sour dough bread, fog, curvy, twisty streets lined with tall pastel houses, shopping, sea air, art, and romance. Should be a lovely getaway to celebrate ten lovely years of marriage to my best friend. Yeah, we're nauseatingly happy sometimes, sorry.


5. Buy some fantastic antique brooches and wear them more often. - This was the easiest and cheapest goal on the list. A grand total of $20 was spent on the brooches you see here. All vintage, all in pristine condition. Sparkly and quirky and I'm trying to wear them a lot more. I'm going to keep adding to the collection. Because what outfit isn't jazzed up with a glittery peacock on the lapel?
13. Create new jewelry designs with materials I haven't used before. -This is an ongoing project that I'm still working out the kinks on. I bought a lot of vintage jewelry pieces, some rich dark purple upholstery cord, and three colors of organza ribbon.  I've got three pieces made so far, but I've gotten a bit stuck. I'm working on weaving the cord within some silver chain, but I'm not sure yet. I'll just keep trying until I end up with something I actually like.

8. Write a book, possibly fiction, possibly nonfiction, I don't know yet. - Totally started this one with the November NaNoWriMo project and made a significant dent in it! I'm proud and excited and yet I still haven't cracked it open and started editing what I wrote in November. The same group that runs NaNoWriMo also hosts the April Script Frenzy which focuses on play, movie or graphic novel writing. Instead I'm going to make April Edit Frenzy and actually start rewriting that damn novel I started. I will. I promise I will, even if I have to drink a little Scotch to make it happen.

41. Consider next steps for career advancement: MPA, CFRE, UMKC fund development certificate, Centurions Kansas City. - UMKC Fund Development certificate owned!! Others not sure about yet. I'm thinking. I'm a slow thinker.

19. Travel to each of the 50 states, I've got North Dakota,Washington, Montana, Oregon, South and North Carolina, Alaska and Hawaii left. - I've hit 43 states and I can never honestly remember if I've driven through Montana. Several of these only count as airport visits, but that's still part of the state, right?
I'm hoping to get the chance to visit Washington and Oregon in the next couple of years but the rest of these states are probably going to have to wait awhile. We'll see.

Bravely Obey In Action Anniversary

27. Take more photos. - This blog and 7 Days have both encouraged me to take more photos.  Photos make blog posts more interesting and engaging. And 7 Days is just sheer joy. I've made new internet friends and I might actually be developing into a slightly better photographer, though it could be Joe's camera equipment that deserves the credit. Either way 7 Days is back March 19 - 25 so be prepared for too many photos of this mug.

Next UP:

24. Pack a picnic lunch and relax outside all day. - Almost warm enough, almost.

44. Attend a show at a local planetarium. - Saturday Joe and I are headed down to Union Station for this fabulous show, possibly the Princess Diana exhibit and a little photo exploration.

37. Have someone teach me how to make tortillas from scratch. (Then have tasty fiesta!) - I still need to find someone to teach me, it might have to be Rick Bayless online. I'm hoping to make this one happen in June. I've got the menu half planned. I know carne asada and a tres leches cake are both on the menu. Ole!

43. Constantly add to and update this list. - Thinking about these, any suggestions?

I think I need to give some credit to this list and this blog for making the last year one of the most fun of my life. This list has been motivational, has kept my goals and desires and whims at the forefront of my mind. The drive to have good blog post material has sometimes made me try things or attend events that I might not have otherwise. So thanks for reading and thanks for cheering me on as I work the list! Have you made your own yet or is it tucked safely away inside your own head?