December 19, 2011 § 1 Comment
Patrick’s birthday was over a month earlier and I still had neglected to get him a present. So on Day Two Hundred Thirty I pulled out my credit card and bought him the newly released iPhone
5 4s. And for good measure, I bought myself one too.
It would be three weeks before the back-ordered equipment would even ship, but just making the purchase was enough to lift my mood. I would be joining the ranks of thousands before me to rush out and purchase the latest coolest smartphone.
In less than a month I would see the reward of my two hundred dollar purchases and like the commercials, I too could ask Siri for directions. I couldn’t wait.
December 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
Patrick hates Halloween. He says he’s jaded by working in a bar where people think because they have a mask on it’s ok to misbehave. Or something like that. Until this year, he has refused to dress up in a Halloween costume. He refused this year too, but I had decided I was going to make a couples costume and needed an “other half.” On Day Two Hundred Twenty-Nine I made Halloween costumes for Patrick and myself.
They aren’t anything fancy. I had looked through various costume websites and found the least expensive couples version was a shiny fork and spoon, where the person’s head goes through the fattest part of the utensil. I contemplated buying the set, but figured it would be easy enough to make it. So I spent my money on a few yards of shiny silver fabric, poster board, and batting.
I was originally planning on sewing all my pieces together (it looked perfect in my mind), but resorted to the glue gun pretty quickly. The glue gun doesn’t get clogged with thread like the sewing machine. I laid everything out and cut out haphazard spoon and fork shapes in the poster board. I used it as a template for my fabric and batting, cutting with extra material to fold over and glue down. I made a tail-looking piece to represent the handle of the utensils. I wasn’t being super precise. It was homemade, after all.
Next came the gluing part of the costume-making. I managed it ok, only burning my fingertips a few times. The head opening turned out to be too wide for my head (I used Patrick’s face as a template), and too short for Patrick’s. But you get the idea.
This year for Halloween we are a
toilet seat and a castle turret spoon and a fork.
December 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
I had been simultaneously dreading and looking forward to Day Two Hundred Twenty-Eight, the day I would run my first 5K. Actually, I had probably leaned a little more toward dread in the weeks leading up to it. I hadn’t been whole-heartedly embracing my Couch to 5K plan and by the the time the Run Like Hell Halloween-themed race came around, I was only at about week five (out of eight). Maybe even day one, week five, which is basically week four.
So race day loomed and I was barely running for more than five minutes at a time. Regardless, Patrick was super supportive and my friend Kallen was running as well, so we could be a trio of champions. I had originally (like six weeks earlier when I signed up for the 5K) set my time goal at under forty minutes. As each day passed I added a little more to that figure. On the actual day of the race I was just hoping I would finish before my play list ended. I mean, I could probably speed walk 3.1 miles in an hour, right?
It turns out, running a 5K wasn’t actually as difficult as I imagined. At the beginning the runners bottlenecked through the starting line so I did a strange jog/walk/stop for the first couple minutes until I could really let loose. My play list reverted to shuffle as soon as I moved my arms at all, so all my careful song planning went out the window. I ran at least the first mile nonstop, until I hit a hill and practically tripped over a woman bending over to tie her shoe in the middle of the race. The rest was a run/walk combo for me. I ran when an older woman in a poofy tutu came close to passing me (no way was I letting her beat me) and walked when I knew my face was redder than a beet (which was pretty much constantly).
The race ended in the cemetery, after jogging around what felt like dozens of different curves. I would speed up, thinking I was almost done only to round a corner and be confronted by yet another path lined by gravestones. That was kind of cruel of the race planners, I thought.
After what seemed like forever I caught sight of the finish line and struggled to plow through. I imagined myself tripping over a paving stone right at the end and failing to finish. That would be beyond embarrassing. More embarrassing than how red my race turned after so much exercise.
My official time was 39:12, but since we didn’t really get to the starting line until 2:00 minutes after the clock began, I completely believe that my real time is around 37:00. Which is pretty damn good for my first race. Kallen and I wrote down our “clock times” (as opposed to “real times”) and ended up in 423rd and 424th place. At least we weren’t last. Patrick, however, earned a respectable 121st place in the race. I think. You see, his handwriting is so terrible that when I looked up the results, based on his finish time and name and age, I could only assume the officials misread his surname. Or he’s living a lie. What do you think, Mr. Hu??
December 14, 2011 § 2 Comments
I was T minus one day from the culmination of my Couch to 5K program. In less than twenty-four hours I would be meeting a thousand others at Oakland Cemetery to participate in the “Run Like Hell” Halloween-themed 5K race. I wasn’t totally pumped about the upcoming experience, and I hadn’t even made it to the point where I was consistently running more than ten minutes at a time. In fact, I had actually only been jogging a couple times in the previous two weeks. Mostly because I was busy working, but also in part to an underlying element of laziness. If I failed to finish, I could always fall back on my lack of experience as an excuse. I needed to get pumped up for the next day’s activity. So I made a 5K playlist on Day Two Hundred Twenty-Seven.
Here it is.
- The New One for Reals – Matthew Reveles
- Animal – Miike Snow
- Ce jeu – Yelle
- Lahaha – Shugo Tokumaru
- Katey vs. Nobby – Galactic
- Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
- Atlas – Battles
- Daylight – Matt & Kim
- Tighten Up -The Black Keys
- Kids – MGMT
- Mile End – Pulp
- Parantheses – The Blow
- Rich Girls – The Virgins
- Psychic City – YACHT
- Zebra – Beach House
I figured it would be a good warm up – pump up – cool down transition. And it was long enough so that if running a 5K actually took me the hour plus that the music lasted, I would still be in good shape. Well, except for the fact that I could have probably walked a 5K in the same amount of time.
December 14, 2011 § 1 Comment
I bought a canning kit off the internet awhile ago, figuring it was certainly something new and different that I could try. After my luck with beets the day before, I looked online for easy canning recipes, something that didn’t warrant a trip to the farmer’s market. I googled, “beginning easy canning recipe” and pumpkin butter came up at the top of the list. Seasonal and made with few ingredients, most of which I had in the cupboard. It didn’t require a whole pumpkin, just canned pumpkin puree, which was certainly a tip in its favor. It seemed weird to take something from a can, add some spices, and stick it in a jar, but on a cold October evening in Georgia, it seemed like a golden idea.
Of course, I had chosen a recipe that didn’t actually require boiling the jars for which the kit was made. I was not to be deterred. I mixed the pumpkin solution and microwaved as instructed, and then scooped the concoction into one of the jars. I removed the air bubbles, screwed the lid on “finger tight,” and wiped the side of the glass. I set the lone jar into the plastic basket that was to go into the pot of simmering water and grabbed the green plastic holder that fit around the basket.
Except that the holder was warped from the box it came in. So I followed the instructions to return the plastic to its original shape by setting in simmering water for a minute.
It didn’t fit in my pot. I put half in for a few seconds and then the other side, trying to shape the warm plastic. I squeezed too hard and the ring that allows you to lift and lower the plastic basket snapped.
I swore at the device, riling up my dog and boyfriend in the process. I needed to be alone to figure out this simple task. I had sudden flashbacks to sewing an easy skirt. I breathed deeply, calming myself down. I would improvise.
I tried to squeeze the broken plastic ring around the basket and lower it and the lone jar sitting inside down into the scalding water, but the pot was too small. I forced it all in, realizing in the process there was no way the water would come above the jar an entire inch. At best the levels of the lid and boiling water would be even. I swore some more.
While I hopefully/ hopelessly left the jar in its water bath, I scooped the remaining pumpkin butter into two smaller jars I had saved for just such an occasion. At least I would get something out of the evening. I put one in the fridge and one in the freezer (for a longer shelf life) and returned to my Ball canning jar.
Removing the thing was even more difficult, and necessitated Patrick lifting the green plastic basket with two outward facing forks until I could grab the top of the jar with an oven mitt. It worked, sort of, except for the fact that the jar was never properly sealed (or so I thought). The button in the middle did not pop down until half an hour later as the contents within cooled. I questioned whether or not it would be safe for a long period of time in the pantry, and vowed to consume the sweet spread long before anything bad could happen (like botulism).
Anyone want pumpkin butter?
December 13, 2011 § 2 Comments
I have really been into beets lately. My mom ate pickled beets and something (I can’t remember what) sandwiches as I was growing up and I remember looking at her over my own concoction of kraft singles and ketchup on bread and thinking how weird she was. I mean, beets look like some bloody piece of perfectly round meat. I may have even lumped the root vegetable into the meat category at a young age. Mince meat and beets joined chicken and beef in the middle of the food pyramid.
It all changed about a year ago, when I tried a roasted beet at the Bookhouse one random evening. And it was pretty tasty. Earthy, red, and tender, with a sweetness to it. I was intrigued.
Since that first tasting, I have had beets sparingly, maybe offered on a salad or as a small side, a handful of times at most. Until Day Two Hundred Twenty-Five, when I decided that I would use a canning kit I had bought a few months earlier and pickle my own beets. Surely it would be easy enough, and would be a brilliant progression from the less ambitious activity of eating pickled okra.
But I stumbled. Patrick and I went grocery shopping, me whole-heartedly intending to buy beets and pickling salt and anything else my pickled beets recipe called for. The problem was that the beets at the store were expensive. And there were nowhere near the 5lbs I needed for my recipe. Plus, they looked really strange, with long onion stalks. What do you do with those?? I guess I had never seen a real live beet before, or at least noticed how one looked.
I still bought the pickling salt and any other items I may have needed, but I left the beets in their wilted grocery-shelf state. Instead I bought a jar of pickled beets. It was much more affordable and a lot less work. I thought about other activities I might accomplish once I got home with my jar of pickled beets, but instead I stood leaning gainst the counter, a fork in hand, plucking pieces of the earthy red vegetable out of its jar and popping them into my mouth.
I gave Patrick a forkful too. He had a mixed reaction to the flavor, and then two minutes later came back for more. Maybe that’s part of the appeal. Beets seem to taste strange at first, but like anything good in life, you soon have a taste for more. Or it could just be the saltiness of the pickling solution mixed with the sweetness of the root makes for a yummy combination. Either way, I may have been beeten by the vegetable.