Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Something New

I've noticed that I have an odd habit of offering to do things for people that I think I can do--even if I have absolutely no experience--because it sounds like a fun challenge.

For example, a friend was talking about her small company holiday party, which she's helping plan with the company owner. She was complaining about how they over-ordered food last year, and most of it wasn't very good. I gave her advice on how to figure out the appropriate number of attendees to tell the caterer, and some caterer recommendations. She told me how it cost their company $27/person last year, which prompted me to say "Are you kidding? That's outrageous! I'll cater your company party for half that."

Ummm, WHAT? She jumped on the idea, and I told her I'd think about it--think about a menu, cost and other logistics like where I plan to make and store catering for 40. I did think about it more, though, and decided (to put the crack pipe down) that I couldn't logically cater a party for 40. But maybe I could provide the desserts. I'm good at desserts. In fact, just a few days before this conversation, I had dinner with an out of town friend and another friend of hers I don't know well, and the other friend asked what I would be if I could be anything. I told her I would want to own a cupcake shop. Except I don't want to be the person getting up at 5am to bake the cupcakes, and I don't want to be stuck working the register all the time. I just wanted to make sure people got delicious pretty cupcakes, occasionally baked by me. I may have been on a sugar high when I answered this question, but I guess it stuck with me, because here I was delving into professional dessertery just a few days later.

I called my friend back and told her I couldn't really cater the entire event, but would be willing to put together a menu of dessert options for the owner of her company to consider. So I went through my recipes and picked out my best options. I included some boring options (she thought the owner would insist on cookies, so I included those), and made a spreadsheet of ingredients I'd need. I went to the grocery store and priced every ingredient, then I went through each recipe on the list and figured out the cost per bar/cookie/truffle. Then I doubled the cost for my price list. Easy enough, right? Oh yeah, I also tried out a small sample batch of a recipe I put together on my own (just combining two things I already had recipes for--I'm not getting crazy, here!) to make sure it was delicious and easy. I made a batch of White Chocolate Raspberry Bars, too. I sent half to work with K and delivered a small plate to my friend to share with her boss when I dropped off my price list.

Yesterday, she called to tell me that I was hired! Her boss does want a fancy chocolate cake (cakes are not on my list, though cupcakes were), so they'll get that from Central Market. Otherwise, she's going to leave the final decision of what to make to me, so I can submit a bid and probably some sort of contract. K offered his services as in-house graphic designer, in case I needed business cards or anything else. He started offering up name options. (Hello, obviously I would want a name that makes me giggle, and maybe include a pun.) Umm, suddenly I have a baked goods catering business? Nooo! But I did happen upon some eye candy on the internet, and have been inspired to bake delicious things, make them pretty, and see what happens.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Quick Update

So my daily good thing bit the dust pretty quickly, eh? (sigh) I'm going to get back to that soon--I'm in a much better mood when I'm thinking about what's good each day instead of getting stressed or cranky.

Since my last visit, I've finished another book: In The Woods, by Tana French. I reviewed it on goodreads, but I will quickly summarize and say that I liked it, but I was hoping for more of a resolution to one of the main (old) mysteries introduced. I think the author has written another book with at least one of the same main characters, though, so I'm going to track that down and add it to my (extensive) "to read" list. (ETA: Found it!)

I am proud to report that I wrote thank you notes (#32) for a few gifts friends/family sent me for my birthday, and being able to use pretty cards did encourage me to get those finished. (Although they were sent nearly a month after my birthday. Bad!) Now I just need to continue to work through my stash of pretty cards, instead of hoarding them because they're pretty.

We're meeting with a realtor next week, and I'm excited but wary. Our mortgage guy recommended her, but I don't know if she's the right person for us based on the listings I've seen on her website. K really wants to stick with her because of the recommendation, but I may try to convince him to interview at least a couple of other people. I don't know. . .I'm trying to reserve judgement until I actually meet her in person. And having that meeting time set has helped kick the house projects into gear. We really do work best under a deadline.

Now back to cruising listings on austinhomesearch.com. More updates later!

Monday, November 10, 2008

#31 Reading

I finished reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down this weekend, almost in time for my book club meeting. I already left a brief review on goodreads, but I'll just add here that I am on a break from non-fiction for now. Luckily, my book club agrees and I think only one of our next six book choices is non-fiction. . .instead of five!

Good Things for. . .
Saturday: Book club meeting with girlfriends.
Sunday: K comes home, hooray!
Monday: Christmas at Caswell lunch with mom. The dessert was pumpkin creme brulee. I don't usually like pumpkin pie, but this was deeelicious. This is either the third or fourth year we've gone together--it's a fun tradition.

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Good Things


Yesterday was our fourth anniversary, awww!

K surprised me with flowers in the morning--apparently, he'd hidden them away after secretly buying them the night before. He always gives me the best cards for our anniversary, too.

The Office was hilarious. One of my favorite parts: when Pam yells out "That's what she said! That's what she said! That's what she said!"

Kitty and I had an adventure with The Roach Who I Thought Crawled Into The Master Bedroom. K wasn't home yet, and we had to deal with it ourselves. I may have screamed a little bit. When I was reporting the story to K, I laughed so hard I snorted.


After I got to work, I MacGuyver-d a paper clip into a hair restraining device for some rogue bangs that weren't quite long enough to reach my hair clip.

K left me a sweet little note, since I was coming home to an empty house.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vitamins, Reading, Good Things

Hooray, I finally have been able to cross #50 (Take a vitamin daily for 30 days straight) off the list! I take my vitamin in the evening, and I have such trouble remembering it that I finally started using one of those daily pill organizers. Nothing else I do makes me feel more like a senior citizen, either. But I'll be the first to admit that it's worked for me--I haven't missed a daily vitamin in the last 30 days, and now I'm going to see how far I can get. I'm glad I was able to reach this goal before holiday travel; being away from home makes it easier for me to forget my vitamin.

I recently finished reading The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane. I briefly reviewed the book on goodreads, so I'll only mention here that Dennis Lehane is one of my favorite authors. But, I hope he returns to mysteries and/or thrillers soon. I liked the book, but I didn't love it--and I was expecting to love it. I think his last book prior to The Given Day was Shutter Island, soon to be a major motion picture. I'm looking forward to seeing that movie; I hope it is as well done as the book was well-written. Lehane is the author of two other books that have been made into movies: Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone.
Wednesday Good Thing:
* Saw a guy in my building at work who looked like 70's Elvis--chops and shades included; white jumpsuit presumably left at home. He had just arrived to deliver a package. Could not help but giggle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday Good Thing


How strange--I had an entry here about Tuesday's good thing, and now it has been eaten by the internet. Hmpf.

Anyway, Tuesday night, kitty was extra snuggly and wanted to sit on my lap any time I sat down. I just love that little orange fella!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Updates Again: Almost Done!

52. Visit a Texas winery. I just now realized I have TWO number 52s. haha! K and I have been talking about doing a wine tour sometime soon, now I just have to figure out a good place to visit that's close.

53. Learn to use food processor & use more than just the chopping attachment. Watch video that came w/ processor. I used my food processor all the time, but still haven't figured out how to do more than just chop.

54. Do something nice for next door neighbors, even if it is just a holiday card or treat. I don't like one of our neighbors, but maybe I'll do something nice for the others before we move. Or perhaps I'll just bake some treats for our new neighbors to introduce ourselves once we move.

55. Shred junk mail weekly. So far, this is a big fat FAIL. The pile next to the shredder just grows until I'm cleaning the area.

56. Donate to charity yearly. The charity my aunt was running closed its doors this summer, so even though I've donated already to a couple of things, I don't have a favorite new charity yet.

57. Email or call S in MN at least monthly. I am emailing her every couple of months, but I am so bad about calling. Hoping to see her in a couple of weeks.

58. Buy last two silverware place settings. Yep, need to do this. I think I have a Crate & Barrel coupon, too.

59. Use wedding gifts that have never been used, like turkey pan and margarita glasses/pitcher. The turkey pan is really a roasting pan that I've just never used. Time to figure out what I can make in there!

60. Organize & centralize all address & birthday information for family & friends. I've still got info spread out all over the place. . .but most of it is in google contacts. Maybe when we move, I'll send out cards with our new info, and that will inspire me to get organized. Ahh, when we move is going to be such a magically productive time. ;o)

61. Make an extra mortgage payment once a year. (1/2) Our mortgage guy even confirmed that this is a good financial choice!

62. Own diamond earrings. Might buy these as a gift for myself for my next birthday.

63. Get kitty's teeth cleaned. I hate taking kitty to the vet. Probably almost as much as he hates going. I just worry about him being scared and what they're going to do to him, and (since they give him anesthesia for teeth cleaning) if he'll be okay. The doc always reminds us that he needs it when we visit, though, so I need to just get over myself and get it done.

65. Clean & organize desk area and files. Files are fairly organized, desk area is not. This is actually on my (very long) to do list for this weekend.

66. Use new printer at least once a month to prevent cartridges from clogging/drying out. I'm printing like a champ since K got me the wireless thing that allows me to print from my laptop anywhere.

67. Dispose of empty shampoo & conditioner bottles promptly. If it's in the shower with an inch of product at the bottom for more than a week, it should be thrown away. Doing really well with this one, but I think it's a lame goal. Why don't I just throw the almost-empties away when I clean the shower? Who knows.

68. Review personal budget to increase savings. Haven't done a big review yet, but am being more aware of how I'm spending money.

69. Finish MN photo album by end of 6/08. Didn't happen. Maybe I'll finish it before 2009.

70. Develop & implement a better housekeeping plan. Yeah, getting behind and spending a most of the day on a weekend cleaning is not my idea of fun times.

71. Learn enough about native plants and gardening to spruce up landscaping before March 2008. I have been doing a lot of gardening research, but I haven't spruced up the landscaping yet. (Once again, part of the Great House Sale Project of 2008.) I'm partially there. . .I've bought the pots. Right now, I'm waiting to K to remove the roots of some bushes we took out. Then, I can move forward with planting.

72. Get measured & properly fitted for a bra yearly, or after significant weight loss. I did get measured a couple of months ago, and bought a couple of new bras accordingly. Turns out I hadn't changed sizes, so I was really just replacing some old bras.

73. Have makeup professionally done yearly to find products I love & make me feel fabulous. Throw out old blush, eyeshadow, lipstick, etc. that has expired or doesn't really work. I'm almost out of blush, so I'm planning a consult for new stuff soon. After that, I'm weeding out my old stuff. . .especially what seems like hundreds of lipsticks I can't stop myself from buying.

Finally, the huge update is finished! On to smaller--but probably equally boring--updates soon.

Good Thing for Monday:
*I got a library card and checked out a book! I haven't done that since college. I like to buy books that I really want (at Half Price Books or elsewhere), so I can keep them when I really like them. But I realized that more often than not, I'm pretty lukewarm about books I'm reading for my book club. So the library is a perfect solution! I'm reading a library book club book now, and kicking myself for not getting my library card a year ago.

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Updates: Getting Closer

36. Perform 10 random acts of kindness for strangers. I'm normally pretty good about doing little things like letting someone with just a couple of groceries go ahead of me in line, but I feel like I want to do more for these 10 random acts. I need to think about it some more.

37. Sincerely thank or compliment someone daily. I'm doing pretty good on this one. I fall into a habit of not being as complimentary (at work and home), so I'm keeping and eye on this item.

38. Plan a party for big birthday. I'll be doing this to celebrate 10/19/09. I need to start brainstorming!

39. Help someone complete an item on their 101 in 1000 list. Anyone need any help? I need to start reading other people's lists more closely!

40. Blog after each item on list is accomplished. Ongoing, and going well.

41. Drink at least 1L of water daily. I am kicking #41's ass. I'm up to drinking at least 50 fl ounces daily (the size of my water bottle)--at a minimum. I can definitely feel a difference when I start to get behind in my water intake. How did I ever NOT drink this much water?

43. Finish home improvement list before Spring 2008. Now I'm hoping to finish the list in the next few weeks to get our house on the market. I'm getting close, although we've had a couple of items added to the list, which isn't helping me finish any sooner.

44. Empty dishwasher before sink fills with dishes, always. (sigh) I'm getting better, but I'm still not where I want to be. I realized my sink is always cleanest when my ILs are in town, because apparently I like to kindof hide out in the kitchen and cleaning out the sink gives me something to do. Growing up, I was taught to leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher. K was taught to leave dirty dishes in the sink. Since we married, he's been pulling me to the dark side, so I'm trying to break BOTH of us of this habit.

45. Take a picture every day for a month. Still planning to do this, still considering getting a better camera--although I do really like my point & shoot.

46. Clean out purse once a month. (3/24) Right, this isn't going to happen. And I've realized I don't need to clean out my purse monthly to feel organized. If I do it every few months, or even every six months, that's fine. I am flagging this item to revise it.

47. Keep car maintenance up to date (inspection, registration, regular maintenance.) I've been doing well on this item, although I need to get my inspection update by the end of this month and my oil changed.

48. Accept compliments gracefully. Upon receiving a compliment, my natural tendency is to say "thank you" but then start rambling on to deflect the compliment. Like if someone tells me "That's a great necklace!" I would say something like "Oh, thanks! It's so old, I barely wear it any more." I am doing a lot better (though still needing improvement) on just saying "thank you" and shutting up.

49. Clean out junk drawers yearly. So far, this hasn't happened. Instead, I think our junk drawers are multiplying.

50. Take a vitamin daily for 30 days straight. I've gotten SOOO close, only to forget and have to re-start the 30 day count. I think I'm on day 28 or 29 of my current count, so this might be it!

52. Find and maintain a good photo back-up system. K bought me an, uh, exterior hard drive thing (? obviously the technical term) and I've backed my pics up once using it. After I back my pics up again, and make sure I know how to access them, I'm crossing this one off the list.

At this rate, maybe I'll finish going through the list by 11/19. . .my thirteenth month anniversary of starting this list. ha! I'm already thinking of ways to revise the two items I'm tossing out, but I want to have some options that will make a positive change in my life, not just another "to do."

Sunday Good Things

*Iced grande non-fat chai. Mmmm.

*Baking goodies for folks who need some cheer. I made orange cranberry muffins and chocolate chip banana bread, and the house smelled wonderful.

*Ordering K's anniversary gift, after I couldn't find it in the store. I hope it arrives before Thursday!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday Good Thing

K was out running errands, and he picked up lunch. He brought home a little surprise treat--an oatmeal raisin cookie!

Saturday, November 1, 2008