Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wine & Canvas

Sometimes, you just need to go hang out with a friend. Last Friday, I grabbed a college pal, and we headed to Indy for a Wine & Canvas event, which is exactly what it sounds like. There's wine. There are canvases. You drink wine. You paint on the canvases. Whoever thought of this idea is really a genius. So much fun!!

The premise is that a bunch of adults (mostly female it turns out, not surprisingly) get together at a place that serves wine (or other drinks for that matter), and everyone (who follows directions) paints the same scene by following the instructor. So much fun just to sit and do something that had nothing to do with school, homework, cleaning, school, or homework. Crystal and I picked the event ahead of time that had the painting we wanted to do, which is an added bonus. Not surprisingly, neither of our paintings were particularly good though the techniques consisted of nothing more than slathering on the background color and then adding lines and circles. But, still fun!!

Crystal getting ready to paint. By the way, we shared an appetizer called shrimp cigars and they...were...divine. That alone made the drive to Indy worthwhile.

I say that everyone was supposed to have painted the same picture because of this. Notice the lady on the left. She sat directly to the right of me, and wouldn't stop talking about saving for retirement and for college while the instructor was trying to give directions. She worked ahead without waiting to find out what to do, decided she didn't like what she had done, covered over the whole thing with white, and then painted some random abstract grass/sky scene out of greens and yellows. I really took this picture just so I could get her canvas in the shot so that I had proof.

The lady to the left of Crystal was very nervous before we started painting. Her canvas turned out just fine, but I'm not sure she had that much fun. We did, though! When we got to the part doing the circles, I realized we had essentially stopped talking because we were both so engrossed in painting. Crystal is rinsing her paint brush in the water cup provided for that task. Before we started, we were warned about rinsing our brushes in our wine glasses. Being the goober that I am, I accidentally rinsed my paint brush in the small container of dip that came with the shrimp cigars. Still delicious.

This is my finished canvas. What do I do with it now?

Monday, October 11, 2010

the saga

What happens when you work full-time, have a baby, and try to finish your masters degree at the same time? Chaos. Mayhem. Actually, even without Abby both of these words apply. I'm in my fourth (!!!) year trying to finish up what would be a two-year degree if I were working on it, solely, full-time. I expected it to take three. But then it got pushed back to 3 1/2. And now it's four. Years. 36 educational months. Seriously, am I mental?

No, just incredibly stubborn. I don't need a masters in English literature to continue teaching. I could do a mail-order 18-month job or stay up-to-date one "class" at a time in the summer when 1-week classes are prevalent. I could...but really, that's simply not my thing. To me, that doesn't benefit me and especially not my students.

So the saga continues, the 40-hour work week as well as an average of 18-24 hours devoted to grad work as well as frantic grading whenever I can. And this doesn't even account for grading that I can't get done at school. For the first time ever, I was on the verge of tears at school because of the grading. Am I nutters?!? Who does this? On purpose??!??

But I'm almost done, and that thought alone is so wonderful and so disheartening. I'm almost done, and yet there's so much to do yet. So I extended the torture just a little longer in lieu of some amount of sanity now. Next spring, I promise, I'm graduating. What purpose this whole exercise in seeming futility will have served remains to be seen. Let's hope for good things.

I look forward to reading for fun, to not driving to campus anymore, and to doing nothing constructive on Sunday afternoons. How will I celebrate? Any suggestions? Anyone want to donate to my Amy-just-finished-her-Masters-degree-and-now-feels-that-a-vacation-to-Hawaii-is-completely-and-utterly-warranted fund???

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I just really love sports. I just do.

I remember when Ben and I first hooked up, it was really important to me that he like, love, or tolerate sports cause I just loooove my sports. Thankfully, he does. This is vital as this is practically all that we watch on tv. It's always on. Neither of us watches any "normal" tv shows (with one exception), and my V-Day present a couple of years ago was a subscription to MLB Extra Innings. I just really really love sports. We scheduled a long layover in Atlanta on our honeymoon so that we could catch a game at Turner Field. When we go on vacation, we tour ballparks and check who is playing whom so that we can see our boys play. The first time we left Abby after she was born to do something by ourselves was to see the Colts. Serious love here.

It also irks me greatly when I have to prove my sports knowledge to any male, when my opinion is devalued simply because I'm a female. It happens, a lot. C'mon boys, let me play too.

But right now, the Braves are just breaking my heart. Someone hand me some tissues. My soul needs to be soothed.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Organic living, 3rd quarter

It's October. That means that the year-o-organic living has almost come to an end. But why not admit it first thing...this is a lifestyle for us now. I don't see us going back to the way we were anymore than I will ever eat a Snickers bar with no guilt ever again. (By the way, thanks to whomever stuck a Snickers in my mailbox today!) I know, crazy as it may seem, spending a touch more money doesn't really bother me if it means that I know I'm buying better food for my family. I'm convinced, organic food is worth it. But that's just me.

Here's what we've learned lately:

*It takes 2 trips to the grocery store each week to *save* money. Here's how that works. Much produce just doesn't last that well (regardless of whether it's organic or not, I might add) by the time it's journeyed to my grocery store and sat there until I buy it. I'm so tired of buying a snazzy little box of raspberries and then having them mold on me before Abby can eat them all (e.g. 2 days). These little gems always cost a good bit considering the amount you get, but they're so good for you and Abby eats them pretty well (hence, worth the cost to me). But if I can't use them, then they're worthless. So I buy less and with more purpose on my Sunday trip to the store and one of us, usually Ben since it's really not out of his way, stops on Thursday and picks up some more bananas or whatever. It's a good thing that bananas are cheap regardless or organic or not; they disappear in our house. And lest you shake your head disapprovingly, Ben is impervious to impulse shopping. It's uncanny. He really is. So it works out b-utifully for him to make a quick run in for x, y, and z items.

*If you want to talk expensive, let's talk farmer's market. Worth it? It's uber fresh. And I really really dig having the ability to buy directly from the producer. As a surprise revelation for us this year, we've also taken an interest in buying as locally as possible, which means that I generally don't begrudge an extra buck for some super fresh broccoli.

*I've learned that the cheapest organic juice, bar none, is at Target. And, they also have cheaper organic snacks. But Abby seriously loves the organic cheesy ducks from Meijer, so there's a splurge once in a while.

*We've made up the investment cost of the gDiapers. From here on Kinda. And we're lucky; our babysitters have been great about working with us about these.

*The composter and recycling really reduces the amount of trash that we put out each week. It's not unusual for us to have no trash to put out on any given week. (By the way, did you know that there are trash bags made from recycled material? And compostable bags? And some made by corn products--biodegradable?? Yep. Also biodegradable/compostable muffin liners, which are much fun to be able to toss in the compost bin.) Recycling is super-duper fantastic in this city. The one thing I'll miss when we move on some day?

*I don't like Meijer brand natural/green detergent to clean cloth only complaint with anything so far.

*We're oddballs in my family with this greener lifestyle.

That's about it right now. I think we've reached a plateau at which we're comfortable, but most importantly, we're always conscious of looking for better choices that we can make. We like it. So far, I guess that makes our New Year's resolution a success.