much wow, 2015.

i’ve had some great years (hi, 2007!) and not-so-great years (howdy, 2009!). but never have i had such a bi-polar year as 2015. whew.

home improvements

  • january/february: i painted my bedroom and made it nice and homey! my bedroom in st joe was so blah, so when nate and i were ready to buy a new mattress, i said screw it, let’s make our bedroom look halfway decent. 
  • july: i made an entryway bench from scratch! go me!
  • october: nate and charlie and i painted the garage white and put up shelving along the sides. for some reason, we still have a bunch of crap on the floor. 
  • november: i also installed a ceiling fan! 

work/work-related

  • may: i did event tweeting at commencement and it was a great time and successful! 
  • october: i had an (unsuccessful) job interview at st. ben’s, but i got back up to central mn and hung out with lake sag for a bit and saw grandma. worth it.

garden

  • spring/summer: i did a community garden through st. charles, and i had a LOT of garden space. it was amazing. a lot of work, but it was really fun. it was also a great year for gardening: it was wet when it needed to be and dry when it needed to be. i will be doing the garden space again and am already planning next year’s. 
  • august: as such, i canned a ton of pickles!! awesome! also green beans and tomato sauce. 
  • spring: i bought two trees for the yard and three lilac bushes for the side of the house. landscaping, here i come!

fangirl time

  • may: wizardworld!!! it was super fun. karl urban, kevin sorbo, and brent spiner were all there. i would be stoked if next year bruce campbell showed up. or lucy lawless. even without the special guests, it’s a lot of fun. liz and i dressed up xena-esque, jane bought a pirate hat, and canada dave came down for the fun of it. 
  • june: i got a random text from caitlin about a friend who needed a photographer…for a cosplay calendar!! i got to work with models and take photos and then design a calendar. SUPER SUPER fun. <3 it turned out great.
  • october: jane and i went to nerdcon: stories and got really excited about writing and telling stories. it was over two days, and it was a great time. we are officially in love with pat rothfuss and want to stalk him. next year’s con will also be in the cities, so that’ll be nice and handy once again.

trips

  • june: nate and i went to the BLACK HILLS on vacay. it was the first real vacay he and i have been on, just him and me. besides the fact that we both got sick, it was a fun time. nate’s talking about doing it again already, and he’s planning on taking emergenC three weeks in advance. i love the black hills. 
  • july: LAKE TIME. liz and i went to tasha’s bachelorette party in spicer and spent some time in lake george, which was awesome because…
  • july II: our derry reunion was really windy and annoying and we didn’t get to go swimming because of the wind. stupid wind. but still, we had a reunion this year, which is more to be said than last year! and i got to sit by a lake and look it it, which is more to be said than living in SE minnesota. -_-

self

  • june: i got a tomato tattoo in honor of my uncle squire. it’s pretty. i love it. every time i see it i smile.

…………………………….

we were doing so well. and then 2015 took the nose-diviest nose dive ever. 

october 31, charlie was hit by a drunk driver and had brain damage. he was in a coma for a week, the rock-bottom bottom of the year. it was a week of waiting, hoping for his brain to come back to us, for him to come back to us. 

…………………………….

and he did. november was the longest month of my life, and even now at the end of the year, i wonder where exactly the month went. charlie’s back to us and has his skull placement schedule for mid-january, at which point he will ditch the helmet. after wondering if he would even live, charlie’s up and walking and being his same old self (with tongue issues and synapses not quite synapsing at the same speed yet). 2015 came back. 

…………………………….

my sister said she was having a huge NYE party to kick 2015 to the curb. i don’t know. 

2015 was pretty good up until october 31, and the week that we held our breath was just that – a week – though it felt like a lifetime. 

and the progress since that week has been phenomenal. i can’t discredit 2015.

Resolution Review

 

it’s that time of year! time to review my resolutions from last year and see how i did.

1. repeat of my oldie but goodie: take more pics! i will continue from last year!

2. DECK. let’s do this.

3. do something about my basement? maybe? start on it? i’m more focused on a deck at this point.

4. do something about my GARDEN. gah. not sure how that’s going to work out. :/

5. VACATION. ok, this is not a resolution because the reservations are already made, but it might change up before we go, so i’ll stick it on there.

6. do i want to do something about my photography? advertise? make money from it? hmmmm

7. HALF MARATHON??? possibly???

8. gotta do something with running/eating. i glimpsed sub-200 last year and then frittered it away with christmas. i’m going to start going to yoga classes, and that along with maybe half marathon, and hopefully healthier eating, might get me under that again. 

9. HIKING. make a plan with liz about hiking the lake superior trail in the next few years. this requires a lot of gear, but i’m hoping between craigslist and other secondhand stuff, we’ll be able to outfit ourselves on the cheap. 

10. last year i made plans to spend time in whitewater park. never happened. this year i’m hoping to actually make good on that. also, if i want to hike the LST, gotta start training!

 

  1. ok i failed pretty hard on this one. i DID actually do some pro photowork, but just heading out and taking more pics was not something i did well this year. granted, i did take pics, just not as much as i’d like.
  2. no deck 🙁
  3. well, sort of? i got a toilet and a vanity for the bathroom. 
  4. GARDEN. CHECK. holy cats, a giant check.
  5. VACATION. CHECK!!!! even though we were sick, it was fun!
  6. well, i did make some money from my photography! it sort of fell into my lap, but it was fun!
  7. half a check? i ran 8.5 miles in one go last summer. liz and i signed up for a half marathon in may. here we go!
  8. so that didn’t go well at all. but with the half marathon on the horizon, i know that losing weight will help with time and actually finishing, so i have to work on my eating habits.
  9. i thought about this. i don’t know when it will happen, if it will happen, but i’ve been sort of looking for gear and keeping it in the back of my mind.
  10. i went to whitewater quite a bit! charlie and i went hiking a couple times, and i went for a run once out there. bought a state park sticker and actually used it!

overall, not too shabby! time to start thinking about next year’s resolutions. 

a modest christmas proposal

i really enjoy giving christmas presents. all year it’s like a treasure hunt, finding the combination of likes (or funny dislikes) that present themselves in present form (heh). 

when jane suggested drawing for names for presents, i was like “boring!” 

then i was listening to the latest “this american life” on christmas and how the mystery of christmas is what we try to recreate every year, and we just … miss. our gift lists, the same thing every year. there’s really no mystery besides what exactly is under the wrapping paper.

now, believe me, i am BIG on tradition. no doubt. i love it. and i love giving gifts. but i realizes that when it came down to it, i miss the magic and hope of christmas more than i would miss finding the right gift, or even the tradition of christmas. 

so i’m listening to TAL via podcast and my mind is just going over and over – how do you recreate the magic and hope of christmas as an adult? TAL did it as an improv show, since there are no real plans for improv. but i was struck by a different thought. 

ChristmasMagic_Book_Spread_two1what if, every year, my siblings and i pooled the money we would spend on christmas and placed our collective trust in one sibling that christmas to come up with a surprise present. it could be a physical present; it could be a trip to somewhere; maybe it’s a jaunt to the cities for the holiday parade stuff they have going on; a night in a hotel and dinner at a fancy restaurant; going to chicago for a holiday thing; driving up north for snow when there isn’t any down here; or maybe it’s traveling to the fancy-pants part of rochester or st paul to view the christmas lights. maybe there would be a cap – $100 per person (nate and i would be two people; charlie one) or what you can afford. more if you so choose. it would require some planning on one person’s part, but it would be once every 4 (or 6?) years that you’d have to think about it. possibly something big could come out of it – two people go in together to plan for a two-christmas present.

and it would ideally happen as close to christmas as possible. it would be the best on christmas day itself. the only thing the gifter would need to tell people is when this is and how long (in case work days are needed off). 

this needs some fine tuning, and it would be a big paradigm shift, but the thought of it is exciting. maybe the magic could come back.

book review and beef: searching for sunday

i just finished a book called “searching for sunday” by rachel held evans. in it she describes her search for the right fit of a church/religion. overall, i liked the book and could relate to it more often than not, even though she was pretty adamant in her beliefs 99% of the time  and was just having problems finding the right place to celebrate them.

however, i had a problem with exactly one sentence during her section on “communion”. (she titled her sections after the sacraments.)

Certainly nonbelievers can care for one another and make one another food. But it is Christians who recognize this act as sacrament, as holy.

that’s quite a presumptuous statement, ms. held-evans. 

even nonbelievers can recognize the importance of food. food is a universal, a common thread among all people, no matter religion, race, or creed. it is the very stuff of life, quite literally, and for anyone to not understand that food, whether created for others out of need or care or for yourself to stave off hunger for another six hours, is a necessary and fundamental part of life and one to celebrate, is pretty ludicrous.

when i make food for others, i know that i’m participating in creating a building block of life – and those who receive it and eat it are receiving it with thanks and gratitude. a great thing; a wonderful thing; a meaningful thing. 

one definition of sacrament is “a thing of mysterious and sacred significance.” i think everyone can agree that giving food to others in times of need is a thing of significance, and as a person who just went through a pretty weird tragedy, can be a thing of mystery. does “sacred” necessarily need to be a part of it? sacred is 100% tied to religion, but things of mystery and significance can hold dear spots in people’s hearts without being tied to a religion or specific god. 

holy’s definition is pretty straightforward: “dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose.” take out the god and religion, and we have “dedicated or consecrated to a purpose.” what better way to describe preparing food for others? especially when preparing food for others during extreme times – times of joy, sadness, hopelessness, hunger. 

rachel can believe what she wants to about food as a thing of mystery and significance – a thing dedicated or consecrated to a purpose. but i’ll tell youthis: nonbelievers and believers alike can understand the importance of food and how it’s tied to emotion. i’ll sit at the table, pull up a chair, and share my food with those who need it, even if they believe I can’t see the importance of what i’m doing. 

expectations

i never fail to feel like a disappointment to my parents. even though they raised their children to be open minded, perpetually curious, and self sufficient, they are seemingly surprised when these traits actually take hold in their children. 

i know some people go to christmas church just because it’s the thing that they do, even if they don’t necessarily want to go to church. i feel like it’s a farce if i go to church on christmas; i haven’t gone any other time of the year, and i’ve never been a fan of church anyway. i enjoyed going in new london, but now it’s just st. charles, and i have no emotional ties. so why go? carols alone do not compel.

however, when i ask about church expectations, i get a mixed response all over the emotional scale. if i got a simple, non-sarcastic or angry “your relationship with a higher being is your business. christmas church is your decision,” i would stop concerning myself with church at christmas. as it is, simplicity is not in the cards.

so i’m not going to go to church. whatever backlash happens will happen. i’m old enough that this should be a non-issue. being a disappointment, however, has no age. 

cookie time is here!

the little-known song in charlie brown christmas, of course, is “cookietime is here”. 

this weekend was cookie baking time! i actually started last weekend with my macarons (they’re better aged) and baked a couple batches of cookies throughout the week. charlie came this weekend and hung out, and helped out with a couple of the cookies (like the double-batch of molasses ginger that he requested).

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IMG_1438i tried something new this year (well a couple things). instead of using my boring, dry peanut butter batter for my blossoms that i always do, i looked up with america’s test kitchen had to say on peanut butter cookies. it looked a little more fancy than my other recipe, so i decided to give it a go.

i made the ATK peanut butter cookie recipe and stuck a chocolate star in the cookies and called it good. i don’t mind it, and it’s decent! i’m not a huge fan of just peanut butter cookies, so this is good news. sorta point, ATK??

also during the week i made my eggnog snickerdoodle cookies, which, along with the molasses ginger, are my favorite cookie of the season. 

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and of course i had to make these dumb, tedious things because not only are they my dad’s favorite cookie, but they’re nate’s as well. good grief.

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they’re pretty to look at, but man they take a lot of time.

new this year! i decided to try making spritzes. i needed a cookie press for this, so i managed to get to tjmaxx friday on my way home from work and pick on up. on the plus side, i can also use it for piping frosting, and the container is a lot bigger than my other frosting piping apparatus. after a couple failed attempts at the press, i had to sit down and watch a youtube tutorial on how to use it. huzzah! who knew i needed to click it twice to get it to stick. 

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and i tried to make rosettes again this year. i don’t know if it’s my irons, the batter recipe, or what, but i do not like the way they turn out. they’re still good; you can’t go wrong with deep-friend batter covered in powdered sugar. they just look weird, and i wonder what i’m doing wrong. 

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mmmmmm balls of deliciousness….

i also made some chocolate candies in silicon molds and some covered nuts and my peanut butter krispy balls. every year i try to make fewer cookies, and it seems like every year i add more cookies on. might be time to do a culling. at least i give a lot of them away. there’s something to be said for at least not eating all of them by myself like i used to!

thoughts on church

i’ve never enjoyed going to church. ever.

i’ve tried to think of any instance where i 100% enjoyed the entire service i was attending, and i can’t think of one. oh sure, there were instances where i enjoyed parts. attending the entire triduum (thursday, friday, and saturday of easter) in austin was a testament to tradition; the saturday evening service was probably the best of the three days, but it definitely got long and tedious for me.

for some people, church is a refuge – a place to feel welcomed and whole, wrapped in religion and love of god. to step away from the concrete and put faith in the unseen is what is comforting and makes them whole.

i don’t find that in a church or a religion; i find that refuge in the people i spend time with. i find it in the trees and the outdoors, the lakes and the springtime dirt. the energy of focused thought and action. 

i’ve often thought that people create god in their images, not vice versa. why else would everyone have different versions of god and thoughts of what constitutes sin? when i hear the wind rustle leaves and see flowers bloom every spring, when i spend time with my family and friends – whether these havens are results of god or happily not-so-coincidences, there is no building or dogma to contain them. their stability and thoroughness are all i need. 

pathetic

after blogging every day in november, december has been a real crapshoot. i think i’ll resolved to blog on a regular basis again next year. it forces me to write something, and my page isn’t pathetic.

i’ve started christmas cookies, and there will be more to make this weekend. i’ll be posting pics soon!

Review: Redshirts

Redshirts
Redshirts by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

this is the third scalzi book i’ve started and second i’ve finished. something about his dialogue style throws me for a loop when i first start reading his books, but once i get in the groove, i’m ok.

i’m a huge trek fan, so the premise of this book got me from the start (especially that it was dedicated to wil wheaton). i’m not going to go into a ton of detail, but let’s just say if you’re a fan of trek, you’ll probably like this. it’s really a niche book.

THAT said, the END had me rolling on the floor (the first ending; there are some codas). it was worth the read for the last two paragraphs.

View all my reviews