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.

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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.

 

Adding Mom as a Friend (295th new thing).

February 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

I never thought the day would come. It had been threatened, but I never believed it would actually happen. And then my mom went to England to visit family and my sixteen year-old cousin set her up with her very own Facebook account. I accepted her friend request on Day Two Hundred Ninety-Five.

I was my mom’s fourth ever friend, behind my aunt and two cousins. I had mixed feeling about what would happen once this social media connection was forged. I imagined the onslaught of posts to my wall.

Hi Lucy how are you I didn’t hear from you last week give me a call I hope everything is ok are you feeling better from that upset stomach you had last time we talked call me I saw you posted a blog I love you love, mom xxoo

My mom calls me Lucy sometimes, a sort of nickname (which is kind of strange since it is actually a real name). She also finds punctuation superfluous, although perhaps not intentionally. I often get worried calls should I forget to phone on our (loosely) scheduled Sunday catch-ups. So I could certainly imagine her expanding the contact to check up on me via FB. But it could also be kind of cool. I mean, I don’t ever post anything inappropriate or negative towards others (I hope). Besides, she probably wouldn’t be on it that much, right?

I can’t wait until she starts posting embarrassing baby pictures to get back at me for making this a new activity.

**Note: Since befriending my mom, nothing inappropriate or embarrassing has been posted. Usually she sees a post and then calls me as a follow up. It’s actually quite nice. I suggest everyone friend their parents.

Painting the Backyard Orange (292nd new thing).

February 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

My Christmastime at home with the family was turning into a bonding weekend with my little brother. First he had taught me to longboard, then he built a balance board with me. On Day Two Hundred Ninety-Two Brad pulled out his paintball gun and for the first time, I fired it.

The recoil was nothing compared to my time at the shooting range. I shot off several balls of orange paint-filled balls in a row, aiming at the center of a wooden slab leaned against a tree in the backyard.

After my brother and I had a go, my parents each took a turn. My mom seemed a little too into it. Her face scrunched up in intent and her lips formed a solid line of concentration. By the time we had exhausted ourselves with paint balling, the wooden board and much of the flower bed around it was scattered with orange blobs.

I’ve never had a desire to play paintball on an actual course, but the ease of firing the gun sure did pique my interest. Add another new activity to my to-do list.

Being Betty Crocker (287th new thing).

February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

My mom has often made giant plates of holiday goodies around Christmas time. Mince pies, sausage rolls, sugar cookies, shortbread, and white chocolate dipped oreos have been included in these giant trays of deliciousness. She’ll give some to neighbors or friends and the family gets to eat the rest. On Day Two Hundred Eighty-Seven, I decided to try my own hand at baking. I made home made shortbread, peppermint bark, and the old standby, chocolate chip cookies.

I researched some sweet tooth recipes online before narrowing down my selection to items that should be easy enough to make in an evening. While I have indeed made chocolate chip cookies from scratch before, it had been long enough for me to question my baking abilities. Usually my method of making cookies involves scooping out the dough from a store bought tube.

I began with the shortbread, using the easiest recipe I could find (with the most positive reviews). I whipped together the sugar (both brown and white to merge a few different recipes), butter, and flour then rolled out the dough thickly. Too thickly. After they came out of the oven, golden brown and ready for sugar to be sprinkled on top, the pieces kind of looked like small bricks, three times the size of the traditional Walker’s Shortbread. At least they tasted good.

Next I moved onto the peppermint bark. I gathered my ingredients: milk chocolate, white chocolate, peppermint oil leftover from Patrick’s birthday Grasshopper Pie, and crushed candy canes from last year’s tree. The chips melted easily in the microwave. I mixed in some peppermint oil and then layered the gooey mess over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. First the milk chocolate, then the white chocolate on top (after first popping the beginning layer in the freezer to set). I sprinkled in some peppermint pieces and returned the concoction back to the cold recesses of our ice box. Once it had set I clumsily broke apart the chocolate into jagged pieces. Another success.

Finally it was chocolate chip cookie time. I had bought Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips and chose to simply follow the recipe on the back of the bag, adding walnuts as a personal preference. By the time these staples came out of the oven I had gorged myself on enough dessert to have me set for the entire holiday season, but there is always room for chocolate chip cookies. The still melted chocolate stuck to my lip as I greedily wolfed down a few bites cookies. They were really good.

Once I had finished my baking experiments, I looked around the kitchen and figured I had too many sweets in the house. I gathered my mom’s old Santa plate from the previous year and piled a little bit of everything onto it. I would take a page out of her book and bring some to share with my coworkers the next day. The rest I felt sure Patrick and I could take care of.

Mardi Gras Christmas (284th new thing).

February 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Every holiday season, my mom and her best friend, Cindy, alternate who hosts the pre-Christmas get together. Aunt Cin lives in North Georgia, and my parents in North Carolina, so it’s always a bit of trek for someone, especially since Nicole and Ryan live in Alabama and I live in Atlanta. The ladies also like to theme each gathering with an international flair. Last year was Buon Natale where we drank a lot of Italian Chianti and ate lasagna. The previous holiday was Feliz Navidad where copious amounts of margaritas were consumed along with some enchiladas. This year, we stuck stateside and had a Mardi Gras Christmas, my first, on Day Two Hundred Eighty-Four.

Donning our masks for a group portrait

A festive table

All in the details

Six year old Claire struggles with her mask

Patrick decided to bring the ingredients to make Sazerac, a New Orleans Old Fashion. Rye whiskey, simple syrup, bitters. Lack of the absinthe-like ingredient changed the drink a bit.

Drinking the Sazerac. Not my favorite, but certainly sippable.

My family is really loud. Murphy takes precautions.

King Cake. I didn

My cousin Claire is quite the ham. One of the most memorable parts of Mardi Gras Christmas was her version of classic Beatles’ songs and a few modern tunes. There was a mirror behind me (and my camera), and like I did in my youth, she sang passionately to her reflection. Here’s some blackmail material for her teenage years.

Face Time (247th new thing).

January 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

I had skyped with my mom before via my phone, but never had I used the rear-facing camera. So on Day Two Hundred Forty-Seven I decided to test out Face Time, a new feature found on the iPhone 4 (and also on my 4s).

I began with my coworker Joel, who was sitting in the next room over. Our conversation went something like, “Hi Joel! Look, we’re Face-Timing!.” “Yup. Cool.” “Yeah. See ya in a sec.” “Alright. Bye.”

I was hooked.

Next I called my mom, via Skype, and this time using the second camera instead of having to turn my phone around so she could see me. We chatted for a few minutes until I had to get back to working.

Finally I called Patrick, who was lounging on the couch at home. He showed me our dog Murphy, who was kind of perturbed by the idea of seeing my face talking to him on a phone screen. I was able to catch him mid-growl.

I don’t think I have used the Face Time feature since, but I can definitely see how useful it could be. As long as both parties were in Wi Fi range, of course.

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