Saturday, January 28, 2012

Don't Give Up

Gretchen gives up easily. She puts forth a little effort, then when it looks like it's going to take a lot of work, or it's not going the way she wants it to, she throws in the towel. Or tries to get someone else to do the work for her.

She was trying to make one of those black crayon pictures-- you know, the kind you color in random shapes and colors with crayons, then color over in heavy black crayon, then place a paper over and draw on top. When you pick up the paper, the black came off where you drew and left pretty rainbow colored pictures.  Anyway, the heavy black crayon coloring part can wear a little hand out.  She kept asking me to take over for her, and I kept saying no. She'd pout, sit and stare at her project, scribble a little more, then ask me again to finish it for her. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

This was not going well.  She came to me one last time and when I said no, she crumpled it up, threw it on the floor, then stomped out. I called her back, gave her a little speech, but I could tell it was just bouncing off her little ears-- like talking to a brick wall. I tried another tactic-- my own picture.

Exhibit A, part 1: top

Exhibit A, part 2: middle

Exhibit A, part 3: bottom

I've been working on this poster for 20 years. Yup, 20. At least. I got this when I was around 18 or so, and worked on it little by little, coloring it in when I got inspiration. One summer at the beach I worked on this nearly every day at the bar. The most perfect spot to color: the height of the bar and the stools and the light coming in from the windows = bliss.

I collected my color pencils one at a time, slowly buying them as I needed a certain color. That dark blue sky used up 2 whole pencils! I couldn't afford the whole set all at once, so I settled for one or two pencils at a time, whenever I was close to an art store.

Then I got married and I only worked on it a little bit here and there. Then the kids came along and I think the last time I worked on this was when Evelyn was a baby, napping. It's been sitting in the same box as all the rolls of wrapping paper, and every time I need wrapping paper, my hand brushes over it and I'm reminded of it. I want to finish it. But it's so large. So overwhelming. There's a lot left to do! Then I remind myself-- One color at a time. One pencil at a time. Do one small picture at a time.

My latest addition: the gold ornamental doorway and the planet behind it.

This handsome Griffin was done three days ago.

Snake boy was finished four days ago.

If I had given up, I wouldn't have gotten this far. It may be another 20 years before I finish it, but I *will* finish it.

I showed this to Gretchen. You know what she said? "I'll help you finish it!"

She finally finished her picture. It took some tears and quite a bit of time, but she did finish it.
All by herself.

This one is going to go in the memory box.

Don't give up, Gretchen, good things come to those who keep going towards their goals.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Not that I made a resolution or anything, but I did make an attempt to try and post more often, and as soon as I thought this, the laptop goes kablooey on me. I'm not computer savvy enough to figure it out, so off it went back to the place where we got it-- still under warranty, luckily.  They fixed it, good as new, or so I thought, but a few days later, it went all kablooey again.

Took it back again, but they swear that's it's fine, it's the internet program that keeps messing it up. My laptop is no longer a joy to be on anymore.  I dread getting on to check my emails or anything else I usually do online. Going to try and take it back one more time, hopefully third time's the charm. Insist they find the root of the problem or replace it. What good is paying for a warranty if they cannot fix it or replace it?

Sure makes me wish I took up all those computer lessons back in my school days!

Planned a double birthday party for this past Saturday. Weather has been mild and not a bit of snow since Halloween, so of course, we get snow and sleet and have to cancel the party.  Well, at least my house is cleaned and the kids understand why the party was cancelled.  I love this age they're at, no tantrums and they realize that not everything revolves around them, as much as they would like.

Life is the same old same old around here. So I'll stop and hope this ornery laptop behaves as it does with me in front of the people that fix computers.  Nothing worse than something that doesn't work right but behaves itself in front of others!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Life Is What You Make It

It's a  new year and I feel like I need to say something witty and clever and mention resolutions and express gratitude on new beginnings and blah, blah.. But truth is, new year's day is just another day to me.  It's a brand new year, yes, but the day is just the same as the day before and after it.  Andrew had to work, so it's not like we could go out and par-tay. We don't drink like we used to in the old days. Too many memories of drunken stupors and hangovers the next day. Who wants to go through that again?

When I was younger, I remember going with my parents to a party on December 31st, and I must have been 12, or 13 maybe.  I knew it was something exciting because my parents were drinking. Like real drinking. I'd never seen them drink before! But I was stuck with older kids who seemed to be all aware of adult activities and I felt pretty left out and thought the whole party was kind of boring-- could we please hurry up and go home now?

When I was 21, I could legally drink, as if age ever stopped me before, but at least now I wouldn't get in trouble. A real good friend of mine, her older brother was hosting a party in the basement of their parent's house and it was some party!  I actually liked the champagne! It was dark and there were strobe lights, the music was bass heavy and pounding. People were dancing and I imagine kissing, too, though I had no one to kiss.  You want to know where I was at that party?  Hanging with the DJ, who happened to be a good friend of mine, and helping with the music.

For as long as I can remember, if there was a party and I was there, somehow I always ended up helping in some way-- helping with the music; helping dispense the beer from the kegs; refilling chips and dips in the kitchen; picking up empty cups and helping to clean up. Even if I was the guest!  I never felt like a social butterfly, flitting around and making small talk or going from group to group and being the life of the party.  I've always felt a bit like a wall-flower and I would get tongue-tied at conversations- what do I say, what can I talk about, what if he comes up to me and says something?!? So I kept myself busy, it was easier to say "hey, how ya doing!" then have an excuse to leave by saying, "I'm helping out, gotta go!"

I do better in small groups, when the conversations turn deep or there's actual substance in what we talk about. Where I can learn more about the few people there and make connections and maybe, become closer friends with. Living out here in the country is easy for me, I have an automatic excuse not to go to big social events by saying I live too far.

And New Year's Resolutions? I don't make them anymore. I'm sure there are people who faithfully make them and follow them, but I bet there are more that only last a week and then go back to old habits. I'm pretty happy with myself and my life, I don't see that there are a lot of changes I want or need to make about myself.  I'm comfortable in my skin and it's taken me a long time to get to this point in my life. Resolutions, to me, are about making improvements in your life and I feel like anytime is the time to make improvements, not just that one day a year.

Though I am happy with myself, I am always trying to improve things around me. That's a daily struggle-- keeping the house clutter-free, feeding my family healthy meals, doing my part to live greener and improve my corner of the world. Teaching my children to be good people and loving them. Making sure Andrew knows that he is appreciated and I am thankful for all he does for us. Remembering to count my blessings and be grateful for what I do and don't have.

Here's to a new year, I hope you're as happy with your life as I am. You have every day this year to make changes so if you fail your new year's day resolution, make another one. Who says you have to wait until new year's day?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Eggnog Spice Bundt Cake

Still have leftover eggnog in the fridge?
Here's a yummy recipe to help use it up:
Eggnog Spice Bundt Cake

It's a really moist, yummy cake, and what cake doesn't look good when you cook it in a Bundt pan?
You could sprinkle some powdered sugar on this, or make a light glaze if you want, but this tastes good as is.
My kids love this and so do I!

Don't you just love my covered cake stand?
I love pulling this out and using it, it makes the cake extra special!

The recipe uses a spice cake mix.  I've made this twice now and I'm curious how this would taste with a regular cake mix-- if it would taste more eggnoggy and add in a bit of nutmeg as well. I still have plenty of eggnog left and family is coming over in a few days. I may use them as guinea pigs and have them try it out for me!

Here ya go!

Eggnog Spice Bundt Cake

1- box spice cake mix
1- box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 C vanilla yogurt
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 C eggnog
3 eggs
1 1/3 C toasted, chopped pecans (I omitted the nuts in mine)
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350*. Coat Bundt pan with grease and flour (those baking sprays make this a cinch!).

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and mix until creamy. Stir in pecans.  Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. (the first time I made this, it came out undercooked, the next time, I ended up cooking it for almost an hour and it came out perfect, so keep an eye on this and use that toothpick!)

When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve and enjoy!