Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in review... because I'm out of ideas, basically

Ah, another year has gone by. And you know, it's actually been a pretty good one. I like to take stock when things come to a close. Perspective! And now I know how the stories all end.

Yay endings!

Let's wrap this year up, shall we?

Look at this artistic photo I took of our Christmas Tree!

In January, I continued with my Project 333 and minimalist mania, and The Care Package Project commenced. Not too shabby of a start.

February brought me waging a losing battle in a quest for a free lunch, a CPP failure and landslides. February sucked, now that I think about it.

In March, I let relationships go and experimented with saying yes. My grandpa's kidneys failed and he almost died. But he didn't. And update: He's still here. Every time I talk with him (like last night), it's a gift.

April! I wrote 13 straight days of posts for my mother's birthday, but then she was in Longview a lot dealing with the aforementioned kidney failure and all that entailed, so I'm not sure she even got to read any of them. Who cares, Grandpa is alive! Oh, yeah, and I gave up processed food for Lent and got shat upon by a bird. What the hell, April?

And then, in May, I won a huge gift basket that put my minimalist leanings to the test. Not really. I just gave a bunch of stuff away, which was fun. Update: We still have gift certificates to use. Oh, and we got to spend a day with family that we hadn't thought possible just a couple months before.

June kind of put us through the wringer a bit, what with Johanna's jerky stomach and the dude that went batshit crazy on me for misspelling a word in an article. But hey! It also brought us the church rummage sale, aka The Yearly Event In Which We Unload All Our Crap. So that was a win, at least.

July is always a favorite of mine because it's my birthday. Even though I'm old and shriveled now, I can't help but get excited when July rolls around. I didn't really post about it (because it was too good to be true), but this month began my new extended hours in the newsroom. Update: I even have more hours to write now, which again, seems too good to be true, and yet, here we are. I'm ridiculously happy.

Cranky Steve retired at the beginning of the month, and I was positive we'd never see him again, but Update Again: He stops by all the time. He's much happier, I think--he seems much more relaxed now. I'm glad.

And! We took our Very Washington Vacation (posts here, here, here and here). It was awesome. Even Port Angeles, which I hated every minute of, because now I have a new town to complain about. That's always fun.

Which brings us to August. More Washington State exploration (with my parents this time), a dash of saving the entire world, and a dollop of rage against the machine. I don't know. It was fine.

September! Back to school, lots of backseat driving with Abby, and not being able to hide the fact that my hair now is really, really gray. Update: It's even grayer now. We're SO CLOSE to no more dyed ends. That will be a good day. Update Too: Sometimes when I remember what 42 looks like, I rethink the wisdom of this plan. Let's all just be grateful that Eric seems to think I'm pretty anyway. Or is smart enough to fake it.

It's unfortunate I'm getting tired of writing this when we still have three months to cover. I did not think this through.

October is the tenth month, but "oct" means eight. We can all contemplate that one for a minute. In the Walker household, we did the usual fall stuff, I guess, but yadda yadda yadda, here's some pictures of Skilly enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest weather.

November! So close to being done! Eric and I are a power couple, in case you missed that newsflash. I should probably not be allowed unsupervised in the grocery store. Mom, Abby and I do good deeds.  The end.

Aaaaand December. Whew, are you still even with me at this point? I'm beginning to feel narcissistic with all this linking et al. Ah, well. I bogged down the internet with my Bonus Tuesdays. We had a minimalist Christmas, which was awesome, and a whole bunch of holiday related anxiety, which was not awesome, but those are posts for another time. Looking back on this month, since it's still so fresh in my mind, I just feel relief that it's over. My precious baby might have been born in December, but this is not necessarily a month I relish.

You know... it's interesting looking through old posts, for me, at least. Years are short, but days are long. I have no idea who said that first, but they were right.

More Updates: Lots of books books books, I am still in love with Project 333 and minimalism and... I don't know. We're together. That's the war right there.

See you in 2015.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bonus Tuesday: Embracing mediocrity

Trisha's Note: Because I enjoy writing but am also easily sidetracked, I have a lot of unfinished posts just wallowing around in sad incompletion on my Blogger dash. I've decided to finish them because A) I like a challenge and 2) I don't want to party like it's 1999. Or 2014. I just want to stay home.

So that's what Bonus Tuesday is all about: a bonus post, written who knows when and about who knows what, that may or may not really deserve the light of day. (You're totally sold on the concept, aren't you?) I started working on this post early October, apparently. I just couldn't figure out how to get the words right. I still haven't, but hey, Bonus Tuesday waits for no one.

Source

I've been writing and rewriting this post for, no kidding, two weeks now*, and I've come to the conclusion that I have to just SAY IT or else this is never going to go live. Maybe the fates are trying to tell me something? Unfortunately, I'm kind of deaf from blasting New Kids on the Block on my walkman circa 1986.

Side note: My mother did warn me this would happen, but I didn't listen. Because the volume was up too high.

Anyway, about the time of my blogging break, a woman came into the office for an interview and she said something that kind of intrigued me, but not in the way she meant it to. I want to preface this by saying that she is an incredibly kind soul, and I appreciate so much what she was trying to do and the faith she has in me.

Here's what went down:

She's a teacher, and she was talking about what had been and what could have been in her own life, and how we should live with no regrets. In between answering my questions, she would ask me questions, and seemed to take to heart what I was saying, particularly about the teachers who saw my writing talent and nurtured that in me. So I'm telling her about good ol' Mrs. Smith in fifth grade, who believed in my stories so much she made copies of a collection I'd written and sent them off to various publishers, and then, since this woman also grew up here and we know mutual people, I added that my friend Mara really is being published.

At this she nods sagely, like she's just put together a puzzle, and asks me when I'm going to publish my story. I want to be the first to come into this office and have you autograph it, she adds.

And I'm like, well... but I was a child, and I'm okay with what I'm doing now. To which she's all, no, don't just be okay! Never settle! 

As I said, I really appreciate her faith in me, like I could just sit down and crank out a novel. She's nice. But instead of making me want to write a novel, it's just made me go round and round with myself on the line between success and settling: There's this idea that we constantly have to be reaching for more, have our sights on the next big thing, in order to be "successful." We're never able to just stop and be grateful for what we already have and what we've already accomplished because that's considered "settling."

But I am grateful. I'm happy, even. What does it says about me that I'm willing to settle? That I don't think I am? Am I taking a stand for minimalism or am I just being a brat? Or worse, lazy?

I don't know, you guys. I just don't.

*Try almost three months at this point.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Project 333 Fall cycle month three round-up

It's hard to believe that another Project 333 cycle is already over. That was fast. I'm not really planning to make any changes to my current wardrobe, even though technically I can on January 1 for the next three months. There's just nothing I really feel the need to mess with at this point. Not that THAT will stop me from writing about it in a few days. Because minimalism! Is fun!

And a girl can always change her mind. ;)

To recap, here's what I started out with... and what I'm ending with. The bottom list is much shorter. When will I get it through my thick skull that the more I cull from my closet, the better it gets? I can never seem to remember that at the start of a new season.

Oct. 1
Pants: Jeans, black, grey, beige
Skirts: Grey, denim, beige, multi-colored t-shirt
Tank tops: Navy, blue multi, orange multi, black/white
Blouses: Grey, black/white, teal, white
Long-sleeve t-shirts: Black, navy, nicer navy
Sweaters: Teal cardigan, grey turtleneck, grey cardigan, black cardigan, navy cardigan, blue pullover, black turtleneck pullover, grey sweatshirt, plum cardigan
Jackets: Denim, beige
Scarves: Red, navy and grey, navy and teal, orange
Shoes: Boots, ankle boots, Danskos, Cobb Hill cuties, future Cobb Hill flats, Converse All-Stars
Outerwear: Coat, gloves and hat

Dec. 29
Pants: Jeans, black, grey, dark beige
Skirts: Grey, denim, beige, multi-colored t-shirt
Tank tops: Black/white
Blouses: Black/white, white
Long-sleeve t-shirts: Black, navy, light blue
Sweaters: Teal cardigan, grey turtleneck, grey cardigan, black cardigan, navy cardigan, blue pullover, grey sweatshirt, plum cardigan, grey stripped pullover, purple zip-up, brick pullover
Scarves: Red, navy and grey, black
Shoes: Boots, ankle boots, Cobb Hill flats
Outerwear: Coat, gloves and hat


This month, I said goodbye to my teal button-down blouse (love the color, hate the button-down part) and retired a few of my scarves (they're more suited for spring and summer). Plus one new scarf ended up being a complete waste of a purchase: it's too big and bulky and makes me feel like a sumo wrestler when I wear it, which is probably why I don't.

And the surprise of the month? How did I never noticed how awesome my white button-down blouse looks underneath my pullover sweaters?! (I guess blouses don't bother me when they're hidden. And neutral.) It's been the workhorse of December.

Abby took my denim jacket out of retirement this month for her own use, and I was happy to be able to loan it to her. It stretched her wardrobe and seemed to work well enough, despite her being a size smaller than I am. I don't think that counts in my total, though, since I wasn't the one wearing it. :)

The end, I guess. See you next season.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas past

Once upon a time, like Christmas 1994, Eric and I were up in his room exchanging gifts. We weren't engaged yet (that would come two months later, on Valentines Day), but he would throw out little phrases like when we're married, or when we have kids. Not that I was expecting a ring or anything--I thought he'd give me some concrete evidence if THAT were the case--but I certainly was expecting something a little better than a troll doll.

Yes, you read that correctly. A troll doll. These things:

I have never understood the allure.

I had just given Eric his gift, which was, I'll admit, not much better than a troll doll: A pair of loose fitting pajama pants that were all the rage in the early '90s and a sort of matching t-shirt. Hey, that's what he'd wanted. Kind of. The pants, at least.

So I'm sitting there already feeling embarrassed by my lameness. He's being very cool about the whole thing. And then he flips me a shoe-box sized package.

Inside the tissue paper is a troll doll, bright pink hair to offset its red Christmas pajamas. This thing is huge. This thing is awful.

As I sat there, staring into the box, I wondered if I'd ever given him the idea that I liked troll dolls. I wondered why he thought this would be a good thing to give me. I wondered if maybe I was being a brat. I wondered how on earth I was going to pretend to like the damn thing.

He let me stew for about 15 seconds before he started giggling--the sound of Eric's giggle is the best sound in the world--and told me he was just kidding. He had gotten it in his office's White Elephant gift exchange and he thought it would be a funny prank. The look on my face when I opened it was hilarious. He was ever so proud of himself.

Hardy har har.

And also: THANK YOU, JESUS.

Then he hands me another box, clearly from the jewelers. (More lame feelings on my part over the pajama pants.) And inside is lovely, tiny, understated heart charm on a delicate little chain.

Well, damn. It's absolutely perfect.

So he's putting it on me and casually telling me how the girl behind the counter helping him kept offering to try the necklaces on for him "to give him an idea of how they'd look on a person," and how he thought that was annoying but finally let her, and I'm all, um, it's because you're so cute. She liked you. And he was all, really? I don't think so. And I was like, trust me. You're adorable.

And then I was all, I don't really have to keep the doll, right?

Nope. He gave it to one of his nieces instead. (Deepest apologies to whomever ended up with it. Really.)

The end.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bonus Tuesday: The Abby Texts: Schooled

Trisha's Note: Because I enjoy writing but am also easily sidetracked, I have a lot of unfinished posts just wallowing around in sad incompletion on my Blogger dash. I've decided to finish them because A) I like a challenge and 2) I really don't want to wrap any last-minute Christmas gifts. Fun fact: There ARE no last minute Christmas gifts because everyone just gets homemade jam.

So that's what Bonus Tuesday is all about: a bonus post, written who knows when and about who knows what, that may or may not really deserve the light of day. (You're totally sold on the concept, aren't you?) I think I originally axed this one because it makes Abby look like a brat, when really it's just that she likes words. She always has. One of her favorite activities as a toddler was just yelling out words. "You're summer squash! You're basil!" Anyway, her calling me dummy is no worse than me calling her poopie, really.

Abby: Duuuuuuuude, are you picking me up or what?

Me: Probs. Will see. I like to keep an hora of mystery.

Abby: *Aura dummy. You stink but you're also pretty and you should pick me up.

Me: You just dissed so nope.

Abby: Please.

Me: Okay. I will. You owe me chocolate.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday "Art," the real meaning of Christmas edition

The Nativity... on a trampoline.

This might be the greatest thing I've ever seen. P.S. During our last wind and rain storm, the Holy Family was blown off the trampoline and into a heap, but I'm happy to report the family to whom this belongs has it all set up again... only with Mary and Joseph switching places.

You know what, you guys? You do what you can. This scene never fails to cheer me up every single time I drive past.

Merry almost Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Care Package Project: December

The Care Package Project Revolution of 2014 is coming to a close, and I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I'm kind of glad. You'd think sending fun packages wouldn't be stressful, but it kind of is, thanks to my self-imposed deadlines and the fact that 1/4 of our packages had difficulty in transit. (I'm still bummed Nicole never got hers.) But on the other, it was really fun. I like putting together packages. I think I'd just like putting together packages more without a deadline.

But as I've said before, no one said the Revolution was going to be easy.

This month, our CPP recipients are two girls whose names we picked from our church's giving tree. We always pick girls because--hello--we have girls. I don't know, that's my logic, and I'm aware it's completely unfair to the fellas, but them's the breaks.

Our girls are ages 11 and 5. Hey, that's close to our own age gap!

For the 11-year-old: Craft kits, chocolate Santas, a hat and gloves.

For the 5-year-old, a singing Dora,
chocolate Santas... and a hat and gloves!
P.S. I really should have straightened my bedspread
before taking this. It looks terrible.

The Dora was the easy part--I just went to the toy aisle and paid attention to what the little girls were playing with. :) The rest of it was harder. I almost went for straight up art supplies, because that's what my girls would have wanted, but in the end settled for craft kits. The chocolate is for obvious reasons, and I figured everyone can use a new hat and a pair of gloves.

All wrapped and ready to go!

Skilly is mildly concerned about the tree in our living room.

Upside: Since we deliver the packages ourselves (or, I should say, Eric and Abby generally do), we'll know they actually arrive as scheduled... this weekend. Yay us! Going out on a win!

So I can't say that we will regularly have Care Package Projects in 2015, but I also can't say the CPP is going away forever because we still have people on our list. Who knows? Maybe I'll miss it so much that it will end up being 2015's revolution, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bonus Tuesday: Home is where the heart is

Trisha's Note: Because I enjoy writing but am also easily sidetracked, I have a lot of unfinished posts just wallowing around in sad incompletion on my Blogger dash. I've decided to finish them because A) I like a challenge and 2) I really don't want to deal with my children just now.

So that's what Bonus Tuesday is all about: a bonus post, written who knows when and about who knows what, that may or may not really deserve the light of day. (You're totally sold on the concept, aren't you?) Actually, this is one I originally dismissed as being too pathetic. And yet, I march on.

Wyoming, early November.

Could there be any cliche more cliche than home is where the heart is? I kind of doubt it. I mean, they embroider that shit onto pillows, for crying out loud. You can't tell me that's not a red flag.

Imagine my chagrin, then, when that phrase kept racing through my mind all during the first week of November. Home is where the heart is, home is where the heart is, home is where the heart is. It got very old.

Because my heart was in Wyoming, hunting defenseless forest creatures.

Let's just get this out there right now: I am a homebody. I like routine and I like tradition. (That's probably why I make such a great Catholic.) I do not like surprises. I do not like trying new things. When something happens that is not what I had originally expected, it takes me an embarrassingly long time to regroup.

Which makes things hard for me sometimes, frankly, because life is not static. When Eric goes away on his yearly hunting trip, which generally last from a week to 10 days, it throws me way off.

On the surface, I am fine with him leaving. Actually, deeper than the surface, even. He goes with his dad and his brothers, and they have a great time together. It's good for him to have that time.

But deep down? Hate hate hate it.

I try really hard not to punish him for going. I used to, I won't lie, because I was so pissed at being left and I was trying to make him feel as badly as I felt. (Um, no, it didn't work, but thanks for asking.) So now, I make it a point to just let him go.

(What's interesting about all of this is that, even though I try so hard on so many levels, I still slip into anxiety mode. The closer he gets to leaving, the more anxiety I feel. By the time he leaves, it's just all anxiety all the time, which is about as much fun as you'd expect.)

I try to make the week as fun as possible for the girls and myself when he's gone. We joke that we are lawless in the house with no adult supervision, and who knows what might happen? We can have ice cream for dinner if we want. SO THERE.

What made it slightly better this year is that we now have cell phones that don't suck, so Eric was able to call and text frequently. I appreciated that. Being able to talk to him made my day seem a little more normal. And having a job also helps. I had too many other things to think about to allow much time for wallowing.

I'm not really sure what the point of this is. That I miss my husband when he leaves me? That I suck at being alone? That my need for normalcy is intrinsic and not... I don't know, a lifestyle choice? That I am not a modern woman? That I need to up my meds? I don't know. Maybe all of the above.

The end.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cookie Joy: Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

Happy Monday, you guys! I've got a recipe to share with you that I'm kind of excited about. Once upon a time, when all was right in the world and Everyday Food magazine was still in circulation, I made these lovely cinnamon sugar cookies for the fam. I had every intention of decorating them, but alas and alack, they were gobbled up before I had the chance.

I call that a win.

This year, as in yesterday, Abby decided what she REALLY wanted to do more than ANYTHING in the world was make cutout cookies. Excellent. Hey, guess what, though? In my minimalistic frenzy, I got rid of all my Christmas cookie cutters. Oops. No worries, I just called my Mommy, who let me borrow hers. 

So I swung by my parents' house to pick up the cookie cutters on my way to the grocery store (I had all the ingredients on hand, but it was my day to go), and by the time I got back, Abby was "really into this math homework." Lo, I say unto you: Whose kid is this? I seriously wonder sometimes, vivid birth memories be damned. Shockingly, after the cookies started rolling out of the oven, she deemed it time for a study break.

I had hoped to show them decorated. It was not meant to be.

I used a couple of cutters I vividly remember from my youth, so that was fun. Thanks, Mom. Also: This is the first time in almost three years I've looked for something I needed and couldn't find it. I told the girls we could just make round "ornament" cookies with a drinking glass (Johanna was all, yeah!, and Abby was all, lame!), but I like this borrowing thing even better because traditions!

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies
Link: Everyday Food, Dec. 2006

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
decorating sugar and candies, such as nonpareils and red cinnamon dots (optional) 
confectioners sugar, for decorating (optional)

Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; form into two 3/4-inch-thick disks. Wrap each in plastic; refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. (TRISHA'S NOTE: This is a lot of work. I just beat the butter and sugar together, add the egg and vanilla, then add the flour et al. Also, forget wrapping the disks in plastic and refrigerating; I just go for it then and there. You guys, I got stuff to do.)

    Roll out and freeze: Place one disk between two sheets of floured parchment paper; roll out to an 1/8-inch thickness, lightly dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters; if dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes. (To bake right away, follow directions in step 3.) Using a metal spatula with a thin blade, transfer cut-out shapes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Re-roll scraps; cut more shapes. Repeat with remaining disk. Place baking sheet in freezer; once frozen, transfer shapes to a resealable plastic bag. Freeze up to 1 month. (
    TRISHA'S NOTE: Huh. Never tried this.)

    Bake: Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment; bake until edges are golden, 10 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through--this time range applies whether dough is frozen or not. Cool cookies 1 minute on sheets, and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. (
    TRISHA'S NOTE: Wait, you're supposed to rotate halfway through? Oops.)

    Friday, December 12, 2014

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    Trisha's terrible, awful, no good, very bad day

    Source.
    Thanks, Science!

    Have you ever had one of those days where the universe is just out to get you? That's me today. And by "today," I mean "Monday," because that's when I wrote this. Over lunch. With my sick kiddo in the other room. Feels weird to refer to myself in the past tense since Wednesday is technically still the future where I'm siting, but that, my internet friends, is the price you pay when you schedule posts.

    Here's the thing: Johanna is sick today. I mean, she was sick on Monday. She had a Very Processed Food Weekend, which isn't really something her stomach can readily handle. I should know this. My stomach can't either. WHY AM I SUCH A SLOW LEARNER? I'm shouting because I'm pissed. At myself.

    I kind of saw this coming, but I waited until morning before making phone calls and trying to figure out where to put her during the workday. I learned that it's my in-laws' day to work at the food bank, and my father coaches middle school girls basketball and had an out-of-town game that both of my parents were to attend. I had roughly two and a half hours of babysitting available. Better than nothing.*

    Okay, then, get myself ready, get Johanna in the car and take her to my parents'. Just tossing a kid in a car isn't as easy as you'd think, so I was running late. So of course I got behind a big ol' Chevy whose driver believed in going a good 10 to 15 miles below the speed limit at all times. Even when the roads are clear and it's posted 55. Cool, whatever, drive drive drive, get to my parents, of course Johanna does not have shoes on to walk across the wet drive way, why would she?, there's another five minutes getting her squared away, finally off to the office.

    Get behind another slow truck, a smaller one this time, whatever, he turns off and I speed up, YELLOW LIGHT! AWESOME!, wait for the light to change, if I hurry I'll only be three minutes late, THE ROAD IS CLOSED FOR CONSTRUCTION! WONDERFUL!, take the detour, five minutes late isn't that bad, right?

    Get out of the car, drop my lunchbox on the wet gross pavement, whatever, someone's yelling at me, it's Eric! Hooray! He's out on his mid-morning break. He likes to walk. Vent about the universe. He's properly sympathetic. He's a good man.

    Finally at work, so much to do in so little time, hit the ground running with a high-maintenance phone call that makes me late for my 10 o'clock phone interview. It's cool, she's an Episcopalian priest, right?, so she's patient. Good chat. My B section feature is ready, I just need cutlines, can I call to confirm names in the pictures? Look for a phone number I've had for two months (um, because I've been working on this story for two months), can't find it, nice Esther looks it up for me in circulation, except when I call it's a wrong number.

    Organization is overrated anyway. Write general cutlines, remember I haven't gotten the event calendar updated, do a little editing, save some press releases, WHY IS EVERYTHING SO HARD TODAY?, and why does my stomach hurt?, oh yeah, I had bad Chinese and pizza too. Well, whatever. Go ask the office manager if I can leave early and work from home, and bless Chelsea, 'cause she understands when the universe is out to get you. Save some work to my USB drive, email myself an email address I'll most certainly need before the day is over, grab a stack of papers to format at home and I'm outta there at 12:45 on the nose.

    Wait, not yet, have to sing Happy Birthday to Stacey, yay Stacey!, okay, now I'm off, road still closed, late to my parents', Dad has already left, poor Mom will hopefully make her bus, Johanna is a chatterbox in the backseat, which is a nice change of pace from the absolute silence two and a half hours earlier, we get her home, she grabs the iPad and she's laying down in her bedroom. Now she's on the couch in the living room. Demanding food. This is what you call The Turning Point when it comes to Johanna's Weird Stomach. It's all going to be great from here.

    [FUTURE SELF UPDATE: Nope. False alarm. She's worse. My hope is to get her into the doctor's today.]

    Oh, except she's pretty sure she's NEVER EVER going to feel better and even when she's a skeleton, her stomach will hurt. Huh. That's depressing.

    Ahem. Anyway, it got to the point--about at that yellow light on the way to work--that I just had to laugh. I have no idea what I did to piss off the universe, but clearly there was some offense on my part. No matter what I did, I was just not destined to succeed. Maybe I should have just called it a day and stayed home to begin with. Maybe I should have kept up the good fight and tried harder. Maybe I should go start that story for this Saturday's paper.

    *I am not insinuating in any way, shape or form that my favorite parents and favorite in-laws should not have had plans. They are both so good about helping us out, always. They would have if they could have. This was just one of those times when schedules collided.

    Tuesday, December 9, 2014

    Bonus Tuesday: Haiku!

    Trisha's Note: Because I enjoy writing but am also easily sidetracked, I have a lot of unfinished posts just wallowing around in sad incompletion on my Blogger dash. I've decided to finish them because A) I like a challenge and 2) I really don't want to mop my kitchen floor.

    So that's what Bonus Tuesday is all about: a bonus post, written who knows when and about who knows what, that may or may not really deserve the light of day. (You're totally sold on the concept, aren't you?)

    Daily Create for Nov. 4, 2014:
    Write a Smart Alec Haiku

    Assignment is to
    create smart alec haiku
    well, that was fun, yo.

    Actually, no, I
    can do way better than that.
    I am a master.

    Only it's kind of
    a lot of pressure, so you
    know what? Maybe not.

    Monday, December 8, 2014

    How to be an introvert

    Source? No idea...

    For whatever reason, this past weekend has been just filled to the brim with people and activities, and while I like people and activities, I don't like either as much as I like just being in my house alone.

    The world is too much with us--Wordsworth knew what he was talking about--and yet... there's really no choice but to venture forth into it, whether I want to or not. 

    Ah, well. There are probably worse problems. (Give me a minute and I'll think of one... maybe.)

    Friday:
    After a full week of work, with all the talking and people et al. that involves, we had a party to go to that evening that we really couldn't get out of, as Eric's boss was retiring and his office was the one putting on the event. We'd driven in to work together, so I was kind of stuck in town until the party started, which was fine because the office really clears out Friday afternoon and I had plenty to do, but eventually I realized that I just needed to get the hell out of there. My eyes hurt from looking at the computer screen all day, and my soul was tired. With a breath and a sigh, I headed to Eric's office, where I chatted with his coworkers (who are all very nice), and then, finally, we were in the car heading to Party HQ.

    I really did not want to be there. But the moment we walked in the door, we were surrounded by people who seemed genuinely happy to see us there. I spent the whole night talking. It was actually kind of nice (one lady had brought her daughter and the kid actually wanted to meet me on purpose just because I write for the newspaper, so we spent some time chatting about writing and goals and stuff. I felt kind of like a poser, but what to the ever. I don't have to fool myself, just everyone else, right?). I met Eric's new co-worker, had a nice conversation with my favorite of his old coworkers, ate cold Chinese and drank a rather iffy glass of ginger-peach cider (too much ginger, dudes). Eric's speech and toast were lovely, we had a high-profile party crasher, and we among the last to leave.

    How to be an introvert:
    Go directly home. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.* Eat cereal for dinner. Hole up in bedroom reading. Maybe do some journaling. Go to bed early.

    ***

    Saturday:
    The day started promising. I actually made a list of chores I had had HAD to complete (um, Christmas card picture ordered, form letter draft completed, house cleaned, Johanna's sleepover slumber party invites for next weekend sent, hard copies of Mara's books ordered), so when the clock chimed 2 and Cinderella was forced to leave the house again, this time with Abby in tow, I felt pretty good about the general state of affairs I was leaving behind.

    Deliver some oranges (Abby's basketball fundraiser), hit the store for poker party munchies (more on that in a second), then off to a salon (oooooh, fancy!) run by one of my (very young, too much energy, clearly extroverted based on the number of parties she's invited me to in the 6 months she's worked at the paper) coworkers for a Jamberry nail party. (Fun fact: I actually do not do anything to my fingernails, not really even file them. I've kind of missed the boat on that girlie ordeal. I'm not sorry.) For a minute it looked like Abby, me, the two hosts and the consultant were going to be the bulk of this party, but as it turned out, we were not, so whew. Because Abby was there, it was easier, plus these are my coworkers, and I like them all a lot, so there you go. We put on our wraps, painted a fingernail and were outta there by 4:50 because we were on to Plan B.

    The varsity girls basketball team was playing and Abby, being on the JV squad, was required to be there to cheer them on. Awesome. Instead of watching, I kind of just farmed** until the second half started (um, third quarter?) when wow, suddenly we had a game and it was awesome and GO GO GO GO!

    We had to leave a little early to get Eric and Johanna from Mass because Eric was having his annual birthday poker party and we needed to get home. As per tradition, I did not go down and chat with anyone as the guests began to arrive. But then, these are Eric's friends and it's kind of a boy zone down there, so I didn't feel obligated. They probably appreciated the fact that the girls and I stayed hidden, now that I think about it. You're welcome, poker guys.

    So that meant some reading time by the fire. And then bed. I was not sad about that.

    How to be an introvert:
    Stay home all day. Hole up in living room reading. Maybe do some journaling. Oh, crap, Vigil Mass at 5:30 p.m. Maybe a pizza for dinner. Go to bed early.

    ***

    Sunday:
    No Mass last night = Abby and I were out the door at 9:30 a.m. She drove and was quite proud of her parking job. (We're still working on parking. I find this less harrowing, though, than, say, making left turns.) Church was PACKED. We generally go Saturday night, when families have their own pews and there are plenty to pick from. People just kept coming in. What the hell? (Wait, talking about church, make that "heck.") We have a group of Jesuit volunteers in town, and five of the six were at Mass, which was fun--I invited them out for pastries and coffee at our cute little local bakery, and then laughed at myself because apparently I'd forgotten I was all people-d out. But it was really great, getting to catch up on their volunteer jobs and what they'd been up to and the experiences they'd been having since we last visited. (Plus, as all introverts know, groups are much different than crowds.)

    Afterwards, Abby and I were forced to face the throng at the grocery store (you always know it's going to be a super fun trip when there are three carts left in the entry), and we survived. That's all I feel like saying about that.

    Home again, was going to get all awesome and make two dinners (meals are hard on weekdays), then came to my senses and took a nap instead.

    How to be an introvert:
    Stay home all day. Hole up in bedroom reading. Maybe do some journaling. Oh, crap, we need groceries. Go to store. It's exhausting. Take a nap. Go to bed early.

    P.S. What is up with all the "Understanding Your Introvert" posts and cartoons and the like that are floating around the internets these days? It's kind of weird. We're not mythical creatures. We just want to be left alone. :)

    *Monopoly. Anyone?

    **I might be addicted to Hay Day. There are worse things. And my farm is adorable.

    Friday, December 5, 2014

    Friday "Art," emo rain edition

    The dust on my dash adds to the poetry. ;)
    P.S. Abby says I don't know what emo means. Pretty sure I do.

    Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    Zero Waste Wednesday: Spice rack

    So with my inaugural Zero Waste Wednesday a terrible failure, I thought we'd do something this time around that is nothing but success. (I can't decide if that's pride or vanity.) Behold, I give you my spice rack:

    Dammit, family! How many times do I have to tell you that the cumin and
    chili powder have to be together because they're deeply in love?!

    I won't lie, I photoshopped out all the dust and grime from my cupboard. I will tell you that, but I will not show you that. Take the lesson from that as you will.

    Our little town might be tiny and a tourist trap, but we do have a great market with a fairly decent bulk aisle. I mean, you can't get cocoa powder like you can at Mara's Market of Choice, but you can get about any herb or spice you can think of (even marshmallow root), so we're calling that a win. They sell reusable jars at the store, but I like these little four-ouncers from Ball:

    Source

    ...And these reusable (plastic, blerg) lids:

    Source

    I've given many a lesson (okay, like two) to people who are curious about my jars. Both times, they thought that you had to pay not only for what's in the jar, but for the weight of the jar too boot. Nah, that's why God gave us tare. You take it to the customer service desk, they weigh it up (I let them write on my lids because I don't care about pristine white expanses) and boom! You are all ready for bulk action.

    That blue number? Is the tare.
    The black number is the bin number.

    It doesn't cost very much to fill a jar; usually it's less than 50 cents. I was thinking of telling you exactly which herbs and spices are in my cupboard, but really, isn't that a matter of personal taste? So never mind.

    Pros:
    Zero waste!
    Fresh and fresh!
    I can buy just as much or as little as I want!
    My spice cupboard is adorable!
    Weekly poser opportunities!

    Cons:
    None. I mean, unless you're skittish about the bulk aisle, I guess.

    Tuesday, December 2, 2014

    Bonus Tuesday: Just another day at work

    Trisha's Note: Because I enjoy writing but am also easily sidetracked, I have a lot of unfinished posts just wallowing around in sad incompletion on my Blogger dash. I've decided to finish them because A) I like a challenge and 2) I really don't want to do any laundry right now.

    So that's what Bonus Tuesday is all about: a bonus post, written who knows when and about who knows what, that may or may not really deserve the light of day. (You're totally sold on the concept, aren't you?)


    Lincoln City, NOT the Pacific. This will all  make sense in a minute.

    I get a lot of interesting phone calls at work (well, the office does, I guess, and I am just lucky enough to be the one on the front lines picking up) that range from questions ("What's the number to the Oregon Department of Labor? You guys have that, right?" Fun fact: No) to robotic solicitations ("This is Amanda reminding you that you have not yet completed your Google business profile") to actual people wanting to sell us stuff ("Who's in charge of buying your supplies?" Fun fact #2: Unfortunately, me).

    And then, of course, there are the story ideas. Usually they boarder on the slanderous (I mean, yes, it's frustrating when you get crappy service, but it's not really something we can base an investigative report on) or the weird (we had a dude come in with pictures on his cell of a UFO not too long ago), or the boring (I'm sure your event is awesome, but, um, we can't send anyone so... do you want to take a picture and just send it to us? 'Cause that would be great).

    That's probably too much to say to introduce a phone call I got while manning the phones last Thursday,* from a woman very excited to tell me about an event taking place in Lincoln City with NATIONAL, PATRIOTIC significance over the weekend, and yet, I just did.

    So you guys, I was only half paying attention because she lost me at Lincoln City. We are seated three hours from that coastal town, and as we only cover news in our immediate area, no one from our office was going to travel there to cover this event. We just won't. If there's no local connection, it ain't on.

    But from what I gathered (and I actually tried to go on the Lincoln City newspaper site to see if there was any info on this to jog my memory, but there isn't. For some reason, I'm starting to doubt the NATIONAL, PATRIOTIC significance), some guy -- maybe a veteran? -- was traveling across the state -- maybe country? -- on foot -- possibly? -- to raise awareness -- or maybe money? -- and ending the journey in Lincoln City. On the beach, I hope, because that would be dramatic as hell. You can't go any farther than the Pacific.

    I could tell she was elderly, and I didn't want to crush her dreams because she was so damn excited about this, but I had to. So I was like, We're a local newspaper and we only cover events in our area, and she was all, NATIONAL, PATRIOTIC SIGNIFICANCE!, and I was like, Yeah... still no, but she was not going to give up. So she told me that her sister and nephew live in town, and that she was 65, except she was really 91 and she just said she was 65 because when she was younger she had... blood poisoning or something?... and she was not expected to survive but Jesus broke the bonds of death and here she is!

    And then she launched into her event info again.

    You know what, people? I am not that brave and not that strong to go up against a 91-year-old on good terms with Jesus, so I did the only thing I could think of to get her off the phone: I gave her the company email address and the editor's name. And then she wanted my name ("Tricia?" Fun fact #3: Not even. I'm not a Patricia. I'm a Trisha. I get very cranky about this, actually), which I gave to her kind of against my better judgement, but hey, what could happen, right?

    Still, I felt it in everyone's best interest to try one last time to not get her hopes up, but this time she was like, Where there's a will, there's a way, and you COULD cover this event. She was so excited to finally have contact info that she repeated everything three times, then told me to have a blessed day.

    So that was nice.

    Needless to say, that event has come and gone and not a single member of our staff was there to witness the NATIONAL, PATRIOTIC significance.  But I do kind of wonder what happened, not with the guy walking or whatever, but with my new friend. Did she make it there? Was she disappointed we didn't? Does she think she should have tried harder to convince me?

    I will never know.

    *Not last Thursday. This was in September, maybe? October? This summer?

    Monday, December 1, 2014

    Happy birthday, Eric!

    Thanksgiving. That's my brother Tim giving him the bunny ears.

    My one true love turned 44 yesterday. He celebrated by cleaning the garage, making the girls and I breakfast, and watching a lot of football. He picked oatmeal cake for dessert--the birthday boy always gets to choose--and tacos for dinner. Which ended up a little different than he'd planned because I accidentally defrosted pork chops instead of ground pork. Oops. We had fajitas. Sometimes you just gotta roll with what you've been given.

    Eric and I don't exchange gifts. We stopped doing that after about two years into our relationship. You'd think that would point to our minimalistic tendencies before we were minimalists, but mostly it's that he's very particular about what he buys, so it's easier to just make a nice dinner and let him worry about his own gift, if he feels a need. :)

    But the girls made him very thoughtful cards, and Johanna added a plate of her special pretzels-peanut butter-chocolate chip confections, which were generally well received by everyone.

    Eric is my heart for so many reasons. He's kind, he's hilarious, and the sound of his giggle is my favorite thing. He's a great father, he loves me even though I am a brat, and he never leaves projects unfinished. He lets me be myself. He's a very easy person to live with.

    And that makes him sound perfect, I know this, and he's not, but you know what? He kind of is.

    Happy birthday, love.

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

    Thursday "Art," Happy Thanksgiving, Internet! edition

    Oh, just a little something Abby whipped up on a snow day last week.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    The Care Package Project: November

    We did something a little different for our November Care Package Project, because when an opportunity presents itself, you may as well go for it, right?

    I did a story not too long ago for the newspaper about Operation Christmas Child, and while I could tell you all sorts of things about the organization, let's keep it simple: People fill shoe boxes with small gifts for a child in need in... I can't remember how many different countries. A lot. 

    And P.S., "need" can mean anything from "living in a war torn country" to "suffering from some terrible disease" to "living in extreme poverty" to "dealing with natural disasters" to "homeless" to "orphans. Plus all of the above." It's kind of disheartening, really, because many countries don't have the safety nets we have here in the US--in our small town, we have food banks, an emergency voucher program, safe houses for battered women, a foster care system, mentoring programs, and a warming shelter for the homeless. That doesn't include Christmastime food and gift projects. Not that people don't still slip through the cracks... just that there are many avenues available for help. I (naively, I guess) thought every country had such programs. Apparently, not so.

    And one more thing: most of the time, the kids receiving these gifts have never received a present before. In their entire lives. According to the woman I interviewed, giving gifts (especially to children) is unheard of in many parts of the world. It's hard to wrap my mind around that in the very consumer- and child-driven culture I live in.

    Well, anyway. Because we have girls, we chose to fill a box for a girl between the ages of 10 and 14. Easy enough, since I have girls who are 9 and 15; I just went for things they'd both enjoy (namely: art supplies). Our Christmas Child program coordinators also provided a list of ideas, which was great--I'd never have thought to include personal hygiene or a sewing kit on my own.

    WHY did I not take a photo of Johanna with our little offerings spread around her as she packed them into the box? I was distracted with putting away groceries, that's why. Totally missed an opportunity. But I can show you this:

    Figure 1: The top layer. :)

    Here's what we packed:
    3 pairs of colorful socks
    3 sparkly hairbands
    Small notebook
    Pencil pouch
    Pencils
    Colored Pencils
    Pencil sharpener
    Watercolor paint set
    2 glue sticks
    3 colorful erasers
    Solar powered calculator
    Small sewing kit
    Washcloth
    Bar of soap
    Toothbrush
    Toothpaste
    Lip balm (in Mickey and Minnie Mouse tubes. Well, why not?)
    ...And $7 for shipping

    Figure 2: All packed up and ready to go.

    I didn't have to send it (which always seems to be the downfall of any of our CPPs), but I did have to get it to the drop-off site, one of our local churches, by a certain date. Whew! Made it!

    So that's November. Our December CPP will also be a little different... but that's another post for another time. I'm kind of trying to decide if we're going to continue the CPP Revolution in 2015; it's super-fun, but stressful. :) Too bad I only look like I'm organized...

    Monday, November 24, 2014

    Project 333 month two round-up

    Oh, that's just my closet.

    Again, I say to you: It's way easier to dress with less in the summer months. I mean, I'm totally dressing with less now that winter has blown in with a vengeance (we went from the 60ºs to the 20ºs in two days, from beautiful blue sky and russet leaves to 7-inches of snow and... well, still russet leaves, which is a nice contrast, I think), but it's different. I'm editing my wardrobe weekly, it seems, because there are things that just do not make sense to hang onto now.

    I'm a big fan of decluttering.

    Like tank tops. What the hell am I supposed to do with a tank top in the snow? If our office had a heating system worth anything, maybe I could pull it off, but right now I'm wearing fleece-lined tights and long sleeve t-shirts under everything for extra warmth. I feel like a sumo wrestler.

    Whatever, I guess.

    Here's my original list; October additions are underlined, items ushered to my standing wardrobe to await warmer climes are crossed out, and those now languishing in my Goodwill donate bag are blue, crossed out and italicized. (Overkill?)

    Pants: Jeans, black, grey, beige, dark beige
    Skirts: Grey, denim, beige, multi-colored t-shirt
    Tank tops: Navy, blue multi, orange multi, black/white
    Blouses: Grey, black/white, teal, white
    Long-sleeve t-shirts: Black, navy, nicer navy, light blue
    Sweaters: Teal cardigan, grey turtleneck, grey cardigan, black cardigan, navy cardigan, blue pullover, black turtleneck pullover, grey sweatshirt, plum cardigan, grey stripped pullover, purple zip-up, brick pullover
    Jackets: Denim, beige
    Scarves: Red, navy and grey, navy and teal, orange, blue/black flowered, black
    Shoes: Boots, ankle boots, Danskos, Cobb Hill cuties,Converse All-Stars, Cobb Hill flats
    Outerwear: Coat, gloves and hat

    So what, you might be asking yourself, is up with the bolded, underlined items?

    Ahem. Well, I went shopping.

    I know, I know. Look, when Eric went hunting for a week, I was sad, and I used it a an excuse. On the upside, my very black/grey/navy wardrobe has more color. I don't know what else to say about that. I'm not sorry, but I feel bad. Um, because I should be sorry, and I'm not.

    I'm not sure where that leaves us, friends.

    Moving RIGHT along. This month, I let go of my grey button-down blouse (which I am sad about because this thing is awesome, but the last time I wore it, I felt so uncomfortable and constricted. I just don't like button-down blouses) and my beige pants (which are actually fairly new, but they've shrunk so much that they're almost high waters, and I said goodbye to that era of my life circa 1993, when styles finally began to change for the longer).

    Before I saw the list, I thought I'd gotten rid of so much more than I apparently have. Huh. Well, between the idea and the reality, as ol' T.S. and I are fond of saying. Maybe it just feels like more because I've taken out 10 things, except only half are gone forever.

    So that's the State of My Closet. The end, I guess.

    P.S. I know this looks like 39 items, but technically only 26 count, since I like to group scarves, shoes and outerwear together. Because I can, yo.

    Friday, November 21, 2014

    Grocery fun time

    Last weekend, the Walker Four took on the grocery store together, which now I'm remembering why I generally go alone, i.e. we spent a crap load of money because everyone kept throwing things into the cart. Well, and it didn't help that the organic section was having a sale. I overbought, I won't lie.

    Anyway. Not the point. The point is that while Eric was looking in the beer section (he ended up with Sierra Nevada Celebration and Deschutes Inversion--we've been to both breweries and even eaten inside, who cares if we're posers?), which is near said organic section, so the girls and I amused ourselves by looking at the teas while Eric made his selections.

    And we saw THIS:

    On sale!

    Now, look, it's true that Abby was a little grossed out by all three of these, but I am not opposed to drinking something that will help my menstrual cycle not suck (looking at you, cramps), and I can see why someone might want help with lactation (although thankfully, those days are way behind me). But the Smooth Move--chocolate flavor!--had me rolling on the floor.

    And then this guy we go to church with happened to be right there on that very aisle, looking at us funny, and I'm all, Smooth Mooooove!, and he's like, um, do you know what that's for?, and I was like, sure, but look! Chocolate flavor! and that was all I could get out because obviously, that is some funny shit.

    HA HA HA. That tea is really the gift that keeps on giving. Best shopping trip EVER.

    P.S. So what's a tea that doesn't suck? I'm almost out of my cinnamon vanilla tea, and I'm wanting to try something else. Preferably coffee flavored.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    Random Act of Kindness-ed

    Source

    Let's set the scene: It's late Monday afternoon, it's freaking FREEZING in the newsroom, and things are fairly quiet as we work on our various components for the upcoming issue.

    And then Stacey and Kelly (who is the new Deb in Reception, not to be confused with Deb in sales, except both Debs are gone now, so boooooooo) come back with two trays of Dutch Bros. coffees.

    The big ones. With flavors.

    And we're like, uh, what? because Stacey and Kelly are grinning and asking us what we'd like. It took a minute to figure out why they were giving us coffees. Turns out the Boy Scout troop brought coffee as a "random act of kindness." And Stacey was all, they're just asking you pay it forward.

    So here are these delicious foo-foo coffees, just waiting for us to drink them, and Baby Ben is actually sitting there, trying to decide if a Caramelizer is worth having to do something nice later. And I'm like, are you KIDDING ME? It's COFFEE.

    Stacey handed me a White Chocolate Mocha and was all, you have to take one of these little cards, too.


    That made me laugh. I thought a random act of kindness was something you just did; passing out a card afterwards seems a little off the point to me, but hey, I'm not going to question the Boy Scouts. I married an Eagle, which is probably why we're always prepared. ;)

    And, you know: COFFEE.

    I felt compelled to announce that this unexpected delivery was the best thing that had ever happened to me, and Ben was like, really? You're life sucks! And I was all, well, you know, besides the birth of my children and marrying Eric, but it's definitely up there.

    It didn't take long for the newsroom as a whole to hit a sugar high, so we went from quietly working to bouncing off the walls. It was awesome.

    But now that the coffee is gone and the sugar rush has faded, I'm left pondering what I've gotten myself into. Do I really need to keep this card and pass it on? Can I just do something nice anonymously? Will I be letting down the Boy Scouts if I do? Why did I think I could drink a White Chocolate Mocha at 4 p.m. without any repercussions? Also, how in the world did I miss Dutch Bros. $1 coffee day? Those Boy Scouts are tapped in.

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Hamming it up

    Sunday was our church's annual Ham Dinner and holiday bazaar--holiday because we somehow meld Thanksgiving and Christmas together into one big feast/baked goods and craps crafts sale.* This thing has been going on for years and years. Mom and I used to take a shift serving dinner (from the time I was in fourth grade through college), but then she was a genius and took over the baked goods table, and yes, while this means 10 hours in the church basement instead of three, yeah, still easier than serving people.

    I guess maybe I should mention I at least got out twice, once to go get a sandwich at my favorite little bakery and another to take Abby on an errand of mercy. Abby was only in the basement for seven hours, the amateur, although she did spend about two of those serving, which is like seven months in dog years.**

    Anyway, the whole ordeal is really kind of terrible, but also sort of great. Mom and I got to catch up, and solve a few of the world's problems (we're SO SMART), and laugh a lot, and chat with people we don't always have the time to talk to. So that's fun. And then Abby livened things up quite a bit, especially when she decided we needed Christmas music and started serenading us with traditional carol/rap hybrid mixes. Complete with air guitar.

    Johanna was with us for the last hour and a half, and in that time, she joined in on the Christmas Rap with  Abby, wrote a song about our booth to the tune of Frosty the Snowman, got mistaken as a dinner server, drank eight cups of water, fetched more water for a coughing gentleman, and completed several rounds of self-taught Irish Step Dancing.

    By the time we got out of there at 6:30 p.m., I was beyond done and I won't lie, I kind of ditched my mother. I was like, see ya, Nance, I'm out, and I have a sneaking suspicion she had to clean up all by herself. Oh, she'll forgive me, but I still feel kind of bad. I was just hungry is all. I can't eat ham dinners with boxed mashed potatoes and gravy, that's why. (Allergies! Are super fun!)

    Huh. I'd hoped to end this with myself not looking like a jerk, but I see that is not in the cards. Damn words! They're so unforgiving.

    *Abby used to call crafts "craps" when she was a toddler. I think she was on to something, honestly.

    **Approximately.