My Birthday Present to Myself (363rd new thing).

January 22, 2013 § 2 Comments

My thirtieth birthday grew nearer and I decided to reward myself for both aging and finishing the grand project of trying something new everyday. I bought myself a birthday present, something I’ve never done before. On Day Three Hundred Sixty-Three I bought a new DSLR camera: the Canon 60D.

I had been wanting to upgrade from my Rebel Xti for awhile, but couldn’t justify spending hundreds of dollars on a new camera body. So I also bought a new lens, a Sigma 17-50mm which fit into my budget once I applied for a no-interest credit card (now paid off).

Although I haven’t used my camera as much as I should (the camera on my phone is so readily available at all times), I’m definitely happy with my splurge. And now my goal for 2013 can be to make an effort for more photography. Maybe on my thirty-first birthday I’ll begin a photo-a-day blog.

If I’ve finished writing this one.

A Lady who Lunches (362nd new thing).

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Earlier in the Turning Thirty project I purchased a couple of half off deals to a massage parlor near my parents’ house. Since I was in town on Day Three Hundred Sixty-Two my mom joined me in a day of pampering with my first deep tissue massage followed by (gasp) my first ever mani/pedi. I felt like I was going to be a Lady who Lunched.

You may assume I have been depraved to not have experienced the relaxing female ritual of getting a manicure/pedicure combination. I have had one or the other at points in my youth, the former mainly when I had to fill in as a hand model and acrylic talons were glued to my fingers. I snapped them off within hours of finishing work. The last professional pedicure I’ve had was probably close to ten years ago. I have very ticklish feet and the idea of someone scrubbing away at my sensitive insoles makes me cringe.

As for the massage, I’ve also had massages before, a handful of times. Well, three times. And I thought I had experienced a deep tissue version of the rub down. At least, they advertised it as deep tissue. However, after informing my masseuse that she could be brutal, obliterating all the knots in my back, she still just generally massaged my limbs until I was in a mild hypnotic state.

Day 362’s masseuse Amber demonstrated what a real deep tissue rub actually felt like. I gave her the “knots in my back” spiel and she set to work with surprisingly strong fingers. I could hear and feel the nodules of stiff muscle move across my back as she kneaded and rubbed. It was painful, but the kind of pain that you know will become a relief later. Or so I thought. Turns out it may have been a bit too aggressive and I was sore for days afterward.

Feet are weird.

Feet are weird.

Post rub, my mom and I headed to the nail salon across the street. We walked in shortly after it was opened by a frazzled looking middle aged Asian woman. She drew foot baths in front of two of the massage chairs lining one wall of the shop and instructed us to sit down. She set to work on my mother’s toes while I let my own feet soak in the bubbles. A few minutes later two young girls dashed in from the back door to a string of chastisement from my mom’s pedicurist. None of it in English. My mom swears the agitated woman was mocking her rough heels, but I lean more towards the idea that she just generally carried a sour disposition.

My own attendant was super young and not very talkative, which was fine for me. I had picked a dark maroon color for my feet and a gray for my fingers. I got through the foot process unscathed apart from one of two moments of ticklish tensing. Then I lost the little bottle of nail polish that was intended for my hands. I picked out another and patiently sat through the fumes of chemicals as my unadorned tips became medium gray.

Once we were all painted the shop had filled so that each massage chair was occupied. Apparently weekend mornings are busy in Nail Town. I shuffled back out the store with my feet encased in those disposable foam flip flops and admired my sultry toes. Too bad it was March and peep toed kicks were a month away.

I fet like I had spent the morning pretending to be an idle lady of leisure. I could get used to that type of time-filling activity, for about a week. I don’t think I’m cut out to be a lady who lunches. Especially since we skipped the lunching out part.

Crowder’s Mountain (361st new thing).

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

I almost hiked up Crowder’s Mountain just outside Charlotte, NC on Day 111, but opted to smoke a salmon instead. However, when Day Three Hundred Sixty-One came around, my mom and I bundled all our doodles (two labradoodles and a schnoodle) into the car and made the hike fo’ realz.

I couldn’t remember where we had briefly parked to ascend the mountain earlier in this project, so we ended up on a whole new path. There were two ways up the slope: a treacherous woodland path riddled with gnarled tree roots waiting to trip us and the gravel road that seemed gentle enough for a nice stroll. We opted for the gravel path.

Deceptively sloping

Deceptively sloping

The path turned out to be a long uphill march. Apparently I wasn’t as fit as I thought. If the gravel road was tiring, how would we have fared on the narrow twisted slope?

A view from the side of the mountain.

A view from the side of the mountain.

After thirty minutes or so at a good pace, we neared the summit of the mountain. We walked through a twisted path as one of the dogs strained toward a family with their own pup just ahead. We branched off to the edge of a rock and rested while taking in a few spectacular views.

Panorama from the top.

Panorama from the top.

The requisite "selfie" to mark our place and time.

The requisite “selfie” to mark our place and time.

Once the heights became worrisome and the dogs restless, we decided to explore the are a little more and followed a path to the other side of the peak where other hikers lounged along the rocks and clearings. I took more pictures.

Another panorama from the other side of the mountain.

Another panorama from the other side of the mountain.

A gnarled path of treachery. Also quite pretty.

A gnarled path of treachery. Also quite pretty.

We debated making our way back down via the triple black diamond path, but instead opted for the known road of gravel, just in case someone’s knees might go out on the way down. Easier access for the ambulance and all. We made it down without any broken limbs or minor injuries, although my legs were slightly jellied from the bracing against a pulling pooch.

Next visit I may have to try another path up Crowder’s Mountain.


At Home Extractions (360th new thing).

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

When I had a facial back on Day 198, the aesthetician used some painful methods and tools for my “extractions.” That’s a fancy word for popping zits and getting blackhead gunk out of your pores. I was kind of fascinated with the process, so I went ahead and purchased my own “blackhead extraction tool” at a local drug store. I checked reviews and people raved about this device. Apparently I’m not the only one who may sometimes revert to a disgusting fourteen year old obsessed with her skin. On Day Three Hundred Sixty I used said tool.

It seemed like the perfect time to use and abuse my face. I had just opened the super magnifying mirror my mom had given me for Christmas. I had waited a good amount of time, not really wanting to see my gigantic pores projected as gaping craters. But I got curious. So with mirror and weird loop tool in hand, I followed the directions in the packet and guided by some online experts (or thirteen year old girls who do this activity regularly and post about it), I set to work.

I started by opening my pores with a hot shower then pressing the tool against my skin and slowly dragging it downward over the high blackhead area. Wouldn’t you know, through the giant magnifying mirror I could see stuff happening. It was beautifully disgusting. I found engorged craters invisible to the naked eye. I could see the appeal of being a facialist.

I poked and prodded myself for a good half hour before I stepped back and overviewed the damage I had done. My face was as red as a tomato with strange imprints from pressing with the tool. I followed my internet guidelines and washed my face, exfoliated, and followed that with toner. I looked marginally better.

Really, though, the experience was worth it just to calm some strange human desire of picking. It was a highly stress-relieving process. Next time I’ll follow up with an egg white face mask.

Hefeweizen (359th new thing).

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

One of the pitfalls of brewing beer in your house is the aromatic infiltration of hops…to everything. After an evening spent making wort the house smells as if a brewery exploded in the kitchen, and it’s not necessarily a positive experience. The first batch of beer I brewed wasn’t too bad, but the pale ale stunk up the house for days. On Day Three Hundred Fifty-Nine for the first time I tried my hand at a wheat beer, and it turns out with the small amount of hops used, the house smelled more like baking bread than a beer factory.

The process went like before: Seep the grains, add the malt extract, add the hops, boil, maybe add more hops (not for this one), dump in a bucket, sprinkle some yeast, and let sit for two weeks.

The first sign that this wasn’t the beer I thought it was came when I poured the liquid into the primary fermenter (aka the big bucket). It was darker than a typical hefeweizen and not cloudy at all. I figured that might all resolve itself after fermentation and put it out of my mind.

When it came time for bottling the brew was still a dark amber color and relatively transparent. But beer is beer, so I finished the process and hoped it would all turn out well. I did seep the grains for longer in the boiling stage.

In the end, the beer turned out highly drinkable, but didn’t really have the qualities I associate with a wheat beer. No cloudiness (unless you dumped all the sediment at the bottom of the bottle) and no golden color. I figured next time I could go back to pale ale that I liked so much before, and air out the house really well.

Crafting with Canvas (358th new thing).

January 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Day Three Hundred Fifty-Eight’s activity was suggested by my coworker Jeremiah. Apparently he had been browsing his Pinterest Board that morning and figured I could make this photo to canvas thing as a new experience. So I did.


Basically the idea is to print an image on tissue paper and then Modge Podge it to canvas. Sounds easy enough, right? Try printing on tissue paper. My printer jammed about seven times before I managed to scotch tape every edge of the thin paper to a piece of regular old copy paper. Even then it was a bit of a stop-and-go process.


Once  I had my photo images successfully inked onto the tissue paper (I chose two from my HDR photography day), I carefully placed them on the glue covered small rectangles of pre-formed canvas. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully let the ink dry and managed to smudge the sky on one. Barely noticeable.

I added more of the clear drying goop over the top of the image to smooth down the paper and set it aside to dry.


It didn’t turn out as awesome as those photos printed on canvas, but it was a cool project nonetheless. If you squint you can pretend it’s a realistic painting.

Green Eyed Monster (357th new thing).

January 15, 2013 § Leave a comment


I don’t wear glasses, but I’ve always wanted to. Way back in second grade I even attempted to “fake” the eye exam in order to earn my own pair of lenses. I think they caught on when I described a “C” as “could be an O or a G…definitely a G.” My line of thinking was that I only wanted light lenses, something I could get used to. They told me I had perfectly acceptable vision and sent me on my way.

In sixth grade my enthrallment with visionary aids turned toward contacts. The cool kids were coming in with tiger stripes in their eyes and I just thought it was the neatest thing. I imagined turning my own indiscriminate blue-gray irises into something far more exotic. I could have brown eyes! Wouldn’t that be awesome?!

Even at the ripe old age of thirty, I still need neither glasses nor contacts. I have a couple of fake pairs of glasses, but they are pushed out of sight in the back of a random drawer. As for contacts, the novelty of leopard print eyeballs went away awhile ago. Until Day three Hundred Fifty-Seven, when I changed my eye color to green.

My friend Asif’s wife works at a Lens Crafters and managed to snag me a couple sample colored contact lenses and some cleaning solution. I was going to wait until I got home to try out the change, but my coworkers encouraged me so I dragged myself to the sink in the women’s restroom and tried to put in a contact lens.

It’s beyond tedious to put in contact lenses for the first time.

I continuously went back and forth from the production booth to the sink to try again and again. There’s something highly unsettling about touching your own eyeball, much less putting something against this sensitive organ. I even enlisted Jeremiah and Asif to try to put in the contact. You think touching your own eyeball is strange, try having someone else do it. By the way, copious amounts of hand sanitizer were used.

Finally, I managed to insert one green contact. I was halfway there. The second one was in place shortly after, the conclusion of an eerie burst of determination not to only do something half-assed.

The sensation of wearing contacts was really peculiar. I felt as though I were looking through a transparent shield, and the edges of my vision were vaguely obstructed. I blinked increasingly more and more as my hour of the contact wore on. I had the impression that my eyeballs were being smothered a little bit and other senses began to take on this almost claustrophobic feeling. My nose seemed stuffy and I was hearing everything through a tunnel. I was going through a real psychosomatic experience.

Fortunately, it was time for me to head home and I decided to leave the contacts in until I made it to my own bathroom. The green eyes didn’t last long once I was back at my house. I took a couple pictures, and went through the process of removing the slivers of plastic. It wasn’t nearly as bad as putting them in, but it was no cup of tea either.

Once they were out I felt like my eyes could breathe again. I could see all around, with no strange colored obstruction. I figured when my sight eventually deteriorates, I’ll go for the glasses over the contacts.


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