Published on February 13, 2013, by

I swear I will get something about Disneyland up soon.  In the meantime, I’ve finished another book:

Confederacy of Dunces

Book number three of three hundred – 1% of goal completed! – was A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  It’s about the havoc caused in New Orleans by the antagonistic protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly.  In his 30’s, the highly educated and profoundly paranoid Reilly has no job and lives with his mother.  When she forces him to look for work, shenanigans follow, creating a ripple effect that creates drama in the lives of many colorful characters.

Does that make the book sound like a fun romp?  A wacky comedy of errors?  That’s what I thought it would be, especially because I had heard this is one of the funniest books ever written.  I didn’t find it especially funny, fun, or wacky.  But I didn’t think it was terrible either.  I’m very conflicted – just choosing a star rating on Good Reads was difficult.

The Good:

  • It’s extremely well written.  The author skillfully creates interesting, well-rounded characters, with their own identifiable vernacular and mannerisms.  The main cast has so many facets and seem so real, they’re practically non-fiction.  It’s easy to imagine them doing their thing in 1960’s New Orleans.
  • The dialects represented in the book are really fun to read.  Apparently Dunces is considered one of the most accurate depictions of the regional dialects, especially Yat.  It adds to the realism of the characters and makes the book more interesting.  Though it slowed me down because I had to do a lot of sub-vocalization, I still enjoyed it.
  • I love books about New Orleans.  I’m kind of in love with that city, especially as a literary location.  There’s no place like it, and the setting lends a sense of believability to the action.
  • The author did a wonderful job subverting stereotypes in his characters.  Burma Jones, Gus Levy, and Dorian Greene are set up to be archetypes – of the lower class black man, of the greedy business man, of the gay partier – but they all come through as something so much more.  Particularly Jones, who was my favorite character in the book.

The Bad:

  • Oh my god, I hated Ignatius.  Hate hate hate.  He is awful, disgusting, lazy, paranoid, pompous, judgmental, perverted, and again, disgusting.  I realize that was the point, you’re not supposed to like him, but I guess I had too much empathy for the characters that he mistreated.  I just couldn’t stand reading about such a terrible human being.  The comparisons to Don Quixote baffle me.
  • Because I didn’t like Ignatius, his antics seemed cruel and horrible, which took all the ‘funny’ out of it.  I didn’t find any of it amusing, much less laugh inducing.
  • The book spent too much time on Ignatius’s writing, which was so boring.  If the book made me fall asleep, it was always during the ‘journal’ parts.

The Interesting:

  • The book came very close to never making it to print.  Despite some interest, John Kennedy Toole didn’t manage to get Dunces published, which caused him to become depressed and commit suicide at 31.  After his death, his mother spent years trying to get someone to publish the book.  Eventually she got the attention of author and NOLA local Walker Percy by barging into his office and demanding that he read the manuscript.  Percy loved it, became a champion for it, got it published and even contributed a lovely foreword.
  • The film version of the book is considered ‘cursed’ because a few of the people lined up to star have died young, including John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley.  It also seems that no one wants to finance the film – though a more recent version was planned with Will Ferrell in the lead, it’s stalled out.  Which is way unfortunate because I would LOVE to see Mos Def as Burma Jones.

*** UPDATE!  Talk about timing.  Just after I published this review, Cracked.com (my favorite place to learn random useless crap) posted an article called 5 Hilarious Reasons Publishers Rejected Classic Best Sellers and Dunces is the #2 example!  It’s a good summary of the book’s interesting path to publication. Please note that they say it’s considered “the funniest goddamn book ever written,” to which I respectfully disagree.***

Would I recommend it?  Yes.  Sort of.  Maybe.  It is very well written, but I just couldn’t stand the main character, which made it hard for me to read.  If you don’t have a bad case of AEPS (Acute Embarrassment Proximity Syndrome, where the embarrassment of other people, even fictional characters, causes you physical pain), definitely read it!  But if you do, skip it and save yourself some agony.

What book is next?  I’ve already started Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.  Which is good, because I’m a bit behind for the book club.  Hope I can finish in two weeks!

 
Published on February 11, 2013, by

Oh no!  I’m already falling a bit behind on my post schedule.  I meant to write an update about our trip to the land of Disney, but I did a lot of lazing around this weekend instead.  I’m trying to hoard my lazy time before our move happens, I guess.  I will get to it later this week!  In the meantime, I want to share these links before they get stale.  Here’s the stuff I really enjoyed reading last week:

– This post about the emotional impact of fostering an elephant made me misty-eyed, and then it gave me a great idea.  You see, I was supposed to participate in a big group gift exchange but I had no idea what to get the guy I’d been assigned, so I left it til the last minute.  One of the few things I knew about him was that he liked elephants…  I think you see where this is going.  Yep, I fostered an elephant through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, mentioned in the article.  The author’s experience and by the fact that foster parents are allowed to spend time with their ‘babies’ if they visit the sanctuary won me over.  I bet my giftee had no idea he was about to become a Dad via gift exchange!

Check the article out, read more about the perils that elephant’s face, and help if you can!

– A lot of posts were written about women traveling solo last week, sparked by the death of Sarai Sierra, a woman going it alone in Turkey.  Of all the posts I read, Christine’s from Almost Fearless was my favorite.  She acknowledges that there are hazards but makes the excellent point that you’re in more risk if you stay home.  It also reiterates a fact that I think should be screamed from the rooftops: YOU ARE FAR MORE LIKELY TO BE RAPED BY SOMEONE YOU KNOW THAN A STRANGER!  It’s like our collective culture forgets this fact whenever the topic comes up, but there’s the awful truth of it.  Fear of rape and murder shouldn’t keep any lady from seeing the world (or anything else, for that matter).

– Since I’m already on my feminist soap box, I have to share this letter written by Sarah Grimke, an abolitionist and sufferagist, in the 1830’s.  It’s quite long, but worth the time – there are so many messages in it that are still true in America today.  For example: “Fashionable women regard themselves, and are regarded by men, as pretty toys or as mere instruments of pleasure; and the vacuity of mind, the heartlessness, the frivolity, which is the necessary result of this false and debasing estimate of women, can only be fully understood by those who have mingled in the folly and wickedness of fashionable life…”  Reality TV culture, anyone?  It’s interesting to see where our society still holds on to pre-1900’s attitudes about women and minorities.

– I love Maui!  I can’t say enough good things about that little island, and Spencer from the Traveling Philosopher does a nice job explaining why it can’t be over hyped.

This is why I’m terrified of crows.

 
Published on February 5, 2013, by

In honor of our trip to Disneyland (which was great, by the way – post to come later), I decided that I’d read the childhood classic, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I also read the follow-up, Through the Looking Glass, but I’m counting them as one book since they’re fairly short.

Alice in Wonderland

What a beautiful story!

This was my first time reading Alice, so the thing that surprised me the most is how different they are from the adaptations I’ve seen.  Disney’s Alice in Wonderland pulled from both stories to create their adventure, so when I got through the first book, I was left wondering what happened to the sassy flowers.  Once I got over my expectations about what the story should be, I had a lot of fun reading both tales.

The Good:

  • On one level, the stories are childish nonsense, which is very enjoyable to read.  I almost wished I were reading it out loud to a kid so that I could throw some funny voices in (without Tim looking at me funny).
  • On another level, it’s an intriguing story about how the adult world looks and feels to a child.  How crazy the manners and traditions of adulthood must seem!  Especially in Carroll’s time, when things were more structured than they are now.  The Mad Hatter observes tea time all the time because his clock has stopped… which is just a bit crazier than deciding that an arbitrary time would be reserved for tea, from an outsider perspective.  That’s how I interpreted it, anyway.
  • My favorite part of both stories were the poems.  They were lyrical and silly, impish but lovely.  I really enjoyed them, especially “Jabberwocky” and “You Are Old, Father William.”

The Bad:

  • Hmmm… hard to come up with something bad.  I suppose they were both much shorter than I expected.

The Interesting:

  • The life of the author is extremely interesting.  Lewis Carroll is a pen name that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson used to keep his children’s stories and academic writing separate.  And though he was a master with words, his career revolved around mathematics and he was a member of the Anglican clergy.

Would I recommend it?  Yes!  If you have kids, read it with them.  If you don’t, read it anyway!

What book is next?  I’ve already started Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, then I’ll move on to the next book club pick.

 
Published on January 29, 2013, by
How many times in a row do you have to do something before it’s considered a tradition?  Is two years enough?  I hope so, because tradition is totally the justification for our upcoming mini-vacation.
You see, Tim and I have back-to-back birthdays – his is literally the day after mine.  Because they’re so close to Christmas and so close to each other, gift giving gets pretty difficult.  The only thing either of us ever seems to want is time – to relax, to have fun, to not think about work for a while.  So every year (by that I mean, the two years we’ve been together) we gift each other a trip to Disneyland.
The guys who take these photos always pose us all weird.  Tim does not usually put his hands on his hips in a jaunty fashion.

The guys who take these photos always pose us all weird. Tim does not usually put his hands on his hips in a jaunty fashion.

Why Disneyland?  I don’t have kids, after all, so I don’t NEED to go places like that.  If you’re a travel snob, you might even turn your nose up at the thought of paying to stand in lines and see ‘lands’ based on real places you could actually visit without the touristy craziness.  To some, I’m sure Disneyland seems like a nightmare or a waste of money, but it’s the perfect birthday vacation spot for us:
  • It’s close – we don’t have to take many days off and blow our vacation time at the beginning of the year.
  • It’s easy – we don’t have to think or plan too much in advance.
  • It’s really fun – we get to laugh, run around, act like kids, and eat churros.  And most importantly, we hardly have the time or energy to think about work.
  • It’s affordable – we don’t have to pay for airfare and can skimp on the hotel, so our only splurge is the entry fee and we generally save money there by using a discount service.
Sleeping in?  FUN.  Eating churros?  FUN.  Rides?  FUN.  Hearing the instructions for the Chew Chew train in Spanish as read by someone with a thick German accent?  WAY BEYOND FUN.

Sleeping in? FUN. Eating churros? FUN. Rides? FUN. Hearing the instructions for the Chew Chew train in Spanish as read by someone with a thick German accent? WAY BEYOND FUN.

This year, we’re changing it up just a bit – Tim’s brother Ted is joining us, and we’re going to fit in Six Flags as well.  That theme park wouldn’t be my first choice because I don’t like rollercoasters (the whole fear of falling thing) but I’m happy to tag along and watch the stuff while the guys do their thing.  My feet will probably be bloody stumps by then anyway.  We’re also going to splurge on the hotel and stay at the Disneyland Resort because, holy crepes, I am THIRTY!  This is an extra special one.
Our collective favorite - waiting in line for Indiana Jones.

Our collective favorite – waiting in line for Indiana Jones.

Speaking of being 30, you might be wondering Disneyland is as fun as an adult as it was when you were a kid.  To that, I’d have to say – I have no idea.  I was one of those children who grew up without ever visiting DL or any other major theme park.  My mom isn’t into that kind of travel, so we did a lot of camping and went to places like Old Keno Bay instead.  I’m not knocking my childhood by any means – those vacations are probably why I have wanderlust today.  But the result was that I first visited the Disney theme park when I was 21 years old.  I’ve been 7 times since then (which I did not realize until I added it up just now, wow) and each time has been a blast… with the noted exception of New Year’s Eve.
The holidays at Disneyland are beautiful.  But are they worth it?

The holidays at Disneyland are beautiful. But check out the crowd… is it worth it?

Do NOT go to Disneyland on New Year’s Eve, y’all.  Terrible idea.  It was a nightmare I could have prevented if I’d just done more research.  So if you’re looking to plan a trip to Disneyland, I highly recommend you check out these sites:
  • MouseSavers.com has good info about discounts on all things Disney and tips on how to save money in the park.  The best tip I got is to avoid table service meals – all the food at DL is pretty good, so table service doesn’t matter unless you’re super sick of standing.  If I’d checked the FAQ of this site first, we wouldn’t have gone on NYE.
  • Picky Palate, one of my favorite food bloggers, does round-up posts of the places she and her family have eaten at Disneyland.  She’s got pictures, menus, and prices – awesome!  It’s how I found out about the Mint Juleps (how I had missed those on the first 6 visits, I have no idea), for which I owe Picky Palate a big thank you.
Tim drinks a mint julep outside the 30 club.

Tim drinks a mint julep outside the ‘secret’ entrance to Club 33.

  • Camels and Chocolate, another favorite blog of mine, has a fun comparison of Disneyworld and Disneyland with some great highlights.
  • Hiddenmickeyguy.com is a good place to start if you want to find the Mickey shaped that imagineers hid all over the park.
  • This Cracked article will show you the creepy side of Disneyland.
  • Just for fun, check out http://disneybound.tumblr.com/ for some Disney-inspired outfits you could wear on your trip.
Also, if you’re looking for discount admission tickets, check out LAFunTickets.com or BestTicketsHere.com.  We’ve used both and they work the same way – they pay a discounted rate for bulk 6-day+ tickets and rent them out.  You pick up the tickets from them, use them for the days you booked, and then return them when you’re done.  Is this against Disney’s terms of service?  Honestly, I have no idea.  But we’ve never been stopped and, though the offices look shady, we’ve had only good experiences with both companies.
We’re off tomorrow morning!  In fact, I should probably be packing…
 
Published on January 26, 2013, by

I’ve always thought of glassblowing as a kind of ancient magic.  Heating sand to thousand of degrees and then blowing into it with your mouth… it’s amazing when you think about it.  How did we humans ever figure out how to do that?  Did the first guy to ever blow into a wad of molten hot glass really understand the physics behind viscosity that make it possible to create an even layered bowl?  Now we understand the properties of liquid glass on an atomic level, but in the first century BCE, I like to imagine it was just some guy who said, “I wonder what happens if I blow into this thing.”

Boat from Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Gardens

A Chihuly installation at the Desert Botanical Gardens.

I’ve been fascinated by glass since I visited a hot shop as a little kid.  I’ve always wanted to learn, but until recently, I couldn’t figure out how to go about it without leaving the state.  Glassblowing classes are not easy to find if you don’t live in a city with a number of larger shops.  Luckily, in the last few years, a couple of classes have popped up.

Mesa Arts Center

Mesa Arts Center

The Mesa Arts Center is a cool little complex in downtown Mesa that has a theatre, a museum, a shop, and a complex of classrooms.  It was built in 2005 and kicked off a revival in the old town area by hosting festivals and bringing plays, art exhibits, and tourist dollars to the area.

MAC offers a very wide range of classes, from playwriting for children to printmaking for adults, as well as workshops and day camps for the kiddos.  How cool is that?  (For more info on classes, please go to http://www.mesaartscenter.com/index.php/classes/search)  There are a ton of different crafts I’ve love to learn at MAC, but glassblowing is my highest priority.

Glass: Beginning Glassblowing (Hot Shop) is a 3 to 8 week course that teaches the Italian style of glass blowing while working in teams.  Classes run from $212 to $428 depending on what time/date you choose and all the supplies are included.  After that class is complete, I could move on the Intermediate Glassblowing class and hone my skills.

The hot shop at Circle 6

Circle 6 Studios

The only other place to learn glass art is at Circle 6 Studios.  It’s a small hotshop behind a house in downtown Phoenix, run by experienced glass artist John Longo.  Most of the classes offered at Circle 6 are one-day workshops where they walk the student through a particular project, like glass flowers and paperweights.  I really like that concept because it makes glasswork more accessible to people who are interested in it without requiring them to sink a ton of money and time into the hobby.

Glass Blowing at Circle 6

Tim works the glory hole, I do the blowing. You heard me.

Tim and I attended their Pumpkins workshop last October and it was a wonderful introduction into glassblowing.  The teachers did all the ‘hard’ work – we just picked out the colors, blew into the pipe, and jacked the piece a bit.  That was a nice way to start because I didn’t have to be worried about messing anything up (and I got a cute pumpkin at the end), but I definitely want to learn how to do all the steps on my own.

My Glass Pumpkin

Circle 6 offers beginning classes for serious glassblowers, too.  You have to start with one 3 hour course just on glass gathering (picking up the hot glass on the end of the tube) and practice that until you master it, then you follow up with a class on jacking and marvering, which helps you learn how to use some of the different tools.  Each course is $150 and should be taken multiple times before you can move on… though I’m not sure what you move on to because no other advanced classes have been listed on their site yet.

Here’s a comparison of the two programs:

Mesa Arts Center Circle 6 Studios
$480 $600
Work In Teams Work Alone
Overview of Several Skills Focus on One Skill
Many Dates/Times Available Few Sessions Available
Biking Distance 25 Minute Commute

So what will I be taking?  Honestly, it’s likely I will do both.  I’m going to start with the classes at MAC to get an overview of the skills I need and to see if I actually like doing it, then I’ll do the workshops at Circle 6 to get more practice and hands on experience.  I’ll be signing up for classes when I’ve got my budget all figured out and hopefully attend a course in March!  I can’t wait!

 
Published on January 25, 2013, by

I finished the first book of my 30’s!

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I chose Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed because it was the first book in the Almost Fearless book club.  Christine is one of my favorite travel bloggers so I signed up for Goodreads as soon as I heard she had a reading goal, too.  This is not a book I would have picked up on my own, which is the fun part of a book club – who knows what gem you’ll be turned on to that you wouldn’t have read otherwise?

Wild is an autobiographical account of Strayed’s hike along the PCT when she was in her 20’s.  She started the trek relatively unprepared and in the midst of emotional turmoil, having lost her mother to cancer and her husband to her own infidelities.  It’s a redemption tale more that a hiking memoir.

This was not exactly a gem, but it wasn’t a bad read either.  I have really mixed feelings about it – part of it made me roll my eyes, and some of it got bogged down in boring day-to-day details, but I could also sympathize with Strayed’s love for her mother and her desperate attempt to save her future self.

The Good:

  • Strayed describes emotion in honest and relatable detail.  She’s very good at writing about how she feels.  The parts about missing her mother resonated with me, and the part where she comes close to being raped made me feel a bit shaken.
  • The friends and helping hands Strayed met along the way help restore some faith in humanity.
  • It was a quick read – it took me only 6 nights – so if you don’t care for it, you won’t be reading it for long.
  • Despite the descriptions of physical hardship, it made me really excited to hike the Camino in 2015.

The Bad:

  • I felt like there were entire sections that were written to tell the reader how attractive Strayed was at the time.  Almost every man is described as handsome and every handsome guy seems to have some sexual interest in her.  Puke.
  • She included personal details that didn’t move the story along, so it felt like a ‘What I Did This Summer’ essay at times.
  • I didn’t get a feel for the scenery – she doesn’t describe the environment very well.
  • There wasn’t much to tie the minutia of the story to a larger theme.  She wraps up by saying what happened after the story ends (gets married, has kids, blah blah blah), but she doesn’t delve into how the walk changed her as a person.  After all the “I was a screw up” stories, I was expecting an examination of her redemption.

The Interesting:

  • I thought long and hard about how gender politics influenced my opinion of this book and it’s author.  Strayed admits to having sex with near-strangers and lusts after nearly every man she meets, which did bother me.  But I don’t think it’s because the author was female – I see that kind of lust as predatory regardless of gender because it involves using a person you don’t care about to fill a need you don’t understand.  That’s bad no matter who you are or what need you’re filling.  It did get me thinking, though.  I’d recommend checking out the book club’s thread for more on the gender politics of this novel.

Would I Recommend It?  Not really.  It wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t get anything out of it and the prose was mediocre.

What book is next?  The February pick for the Almost Fearless book club is “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo, another book I’ve never heard of before.  I’ve got a few days before February starts and a long car ride coming up, so I’ll probably read something else in the meantime – not sure what yet!

 
Published on January 23, 2013, by

Aren’t birthdays the best? I know I might not always feel that way, but mine really rocked this year. It’s extra fun having a birthday that’s always close to a long weekend – Tim and I managed to stretch ours out from Thursday to Monday, thanks to the MLK holiday.

We kicked it off with an amazing meal at Cork. One of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, and that is saying something. We had Pan Seared Foie Gras, Roasted Beet and Fried Goat Cheese salad, Seared Yellowfin Tuna with Hamachi, Butter Poached Steak with Marscarpone Risotto, Lamb with Gruyere Custard Potatoes, and a classic Creme Brulee.

Dishes at Cork

All of the food was fantastic, the service was friendly, and they even put ‘Happy 29th Birthday, Tim’ on the menus! We will definitely be going back.

KT and Tim at Cork

If you’re in the area and want to check it out, keep in mind that it’s a little on the spendy side (over $100 for two people) and you might need a reservation because it’s a small place, but you can find them on OpenTable, which is a plus. It is in a strip mall, but don’t let that deter you – it’s understated classy on the inside. And check out this wine selection:

Cork's Wine Wall

Later in the weekend, I had a party to celebrate my birthday. I wanted to do something easy this year, so I went back to my childhood parties. We had it in a park, there was a theme, a craft table, decorations, rides, and lots and lots of food.

The theme? PORTLANDIA! I love the show and it actually lent itself pretty well to a party theme. My guests really got in the spirit!

They dressed like it was the 90’s again:

Jon and Becky go full 90s

Note the flannel and the chain necklaces.

They rode their bikes:

Bike Parking

The bike parking system got a little crazy. Where’s the bike valet?

They put birds on things:

Put A Bird On It!

Put. A. Bird. On. It!

They rode an olde tyme surrey:

Ridin' Old School

You there! Good day to you, sir!

They failed to fly kites:

Dineen Flies a Kite... sort of

This is as close as we got to flying our .99 kite.

We also ate, chatted, ate, played Frisbee  and ate some more. And there was still food left over! The reason? About half the people who were going to come had to cancel due to the flu, and some people left early because they weren’t feeling well. Stupid worst-flu-season-in-a-decade. I might have to have a re-do when everyone is well.

Regardless, the party was awesome, I had a great time, and I went home feeling lucky and loved. My 30’s started on such a high note! Thank you to everyone who came and made the day so fab.

Speaking of fab, I’ve read a couple blog posts that really hit home with me and I thought I’d share:

Push, Quit and Craft by Rachel Wilkerson on A Practical Wedding is all about setting goals using simple verbs. It helped me re-frame what I want from this year, and from this project, in a simple and elegant way. This is why I still read APW even though I’m out of the wedding industry.

Beating Imposter Syndrome by Katy on Offbeat Home made me realize how I often credit my success (and friendships) to luck instead of effort. Am I giving myself enough credit? It’s an interesting question.

How To Explore Brussels in 24 Hours by Agness on eTramping got me excited to… well, see Brussels, obviously. Mostly the part about all the chocolate. We’re planning to bike through Belgium next year and now I’m leaning towards a detour to Brussels.

Look, I finally mentioned one of my Things!  More on the actual 30 Things List and how I’m planning to cross something off of it in the next post.  Until then…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVmq9dq6Nsg

 
Published on January 17, 2013, by

Y’all, I am THIRTY! This is the face of a 30-year-old adult person:

KT at 30
The day is finally here. And damn, I feel amazing! I’m both very grateful for what I have in the present and very excited for the things to come. There are two themes to this birthday:

LUCKY!

I’ve been in a great mood all day, even though I spent it at work. Or maybe because I spent it at work. It was a good reminder that I’m lucky to work with such wonderful people. Co-workers decorated my desk, passed around a card, and even got me a cake.

Birthday Cake

It’s got circus animal crackers on it. So cute!

My job, which is currently not optimal (is there an award for biggest understatement ever?), is consistently redeemed by the people who do it with me. I’m so lucky to have wonderful people with whom to share the craziness.

While I was working, a bunch of friends sent texts and left messages on Facebook to wish me a good day – I’m so lucky to have a bunch of thoughtful, wonderful, loving people in my life.

Liberty Market Steak

The flank steak at Liberty Market comes with some kick ass mashed potatoes and a chimichurri sauce.

After work, we went out to dinner with my parents.  I picked the place – Liberty Market in Gilbert, where you get $10 off on your birthday.  We ate, laughed, and had a great time hanging out.  It’s really nice that I can sit and joke with my parents – I’m so lucky to have a good relationship with them.  I also got a beautiful (REAL!) pearl necklace from my mom.  Classic and classy, because now I’m a lady.

Ice Cream Sandwich

This is me, totally being a LADY, thankyouverymuch.

Now I’m home, looking forward to the best part of every day – cuddles with Tim.  I’m so lucky to have a guy in my life that keeps me laughing, makes me feel special, and supports me through thick and thin.  He’s the absolute best.  And guess what?!  It’s his birthday tomorrow!!  Love this guy!

Tim on his Birthday Eve

It’s Tim’s Birthday Eve!

So, I am extremely grateful to have the life I have today.  But it’s only going to get better…

HOPEFUL!

I feel like I’m on the precipice of my best years ever. The main reason, of course, is the 30 Things list! I’m already set to learn to blow glass this year (details coming soon), and I know I’ll be biking in Europe next year (much much more on that to come), plus there are all the other great Things I just don’t have a timeline on yet. I never know when the opportunity to cross a Thing off could come up – which makes it even more exciting.

I’ve got a lot of travel to look forward to this year! We’re going some place special for our birthdays and we’ll be taking a trip to Seattle and Portland in the spring. If we can manage it, we might to the Caribbean in the early fall, as well. We have to plan around vacation time, since we need to save up a whole month for our Euro trip next year, but I’d like to squeeze in some long weekend trips to places like the Grand Canyon, too.

Pearls

And I’ve got a lot to look forward to at home… in that, I get to look forward to a new home! Tim and I are taking a big leap and buying a house together! We’ve made an offer and signed some papers, and now it’s just a matter of days before we know if it’s a done deal. Once we’ve got the house, we’ll have a whole bunch of projects to work on. Flooring! Painting! Redoing kitchen cabinets! Remodeling two bathrooms! Building a functional craft room! That’s going to take a lot of time and energy at the beginning of the year, but we’ll end up with a space that is all ours. SO EXCITING!

I’ve got my list, I’ve updated the counter in my sidebar to countdown to 40, and I’m ready to get started. I can’t wait to share all the ups and downs, the adventures, classes, projects and travels, my moments of inspiration and my bouts of laziness, and everything in between. Yep, my 30’s are shaping up to be pretty sweet.

 
Published on January 16, 2013, by
Birthday 2012

On my 29th birthday. Little did I know what a hell of a year it would turn out to be.

As I write this, the clock in my sidebar is counting down. Four hours, forty-seven minutes, twenty-two seconds… twenty-one seconds… twenty seconds…

Counting down to the end of my 20’s.

My final hours of being 29 were pretty typical.  I woke up early to give the dog his insulin shot, went to work, came home, made dinner, watched Downton Abbey and now I’m in my PJs, ready for bed.  Nothing notable or significant happened.  No excitement, but no depression either.  I’m not sad to see my 20’s go, not the way I thought I would have been.

For a while, I was scared to turn thirty because I thought I wasn’t qualified.  To be in your thirties, don’t you need a career?  A clean house?  Wet wipes in your purse?  After all, “adults” seem so capable, so prepared.  Thirty is most undeniably adulthood, so I thought I would need to have it all figured out by now.

But the more I talk to people, the more it seems like no one has it figured out, regardless of age.  Sure, some people might be settled into careers at this age, or manage to do dishes and laundry more than once a week.  Some might even have purses equipped for any emergency (I think most of those people are mothers).  But that doesn’t mean they’re not still learning or searching for something else.  Most of those ‘adults’ I know who seem calm and capable and prepared are winging it just as much as I am.

So, I’m not scared of it.  I’m ready.  I’m even excited.  It’ll be a relief to put my 20’s behind me and see what’s next.  It’s got to be better – there’s already a lot to look forward to, the details of which I’ll reveal after my birthday.  My 30’s are going to kick some serious ass, so I’m proud to say I’ll never be the girl that celebrates her 29th birthday every year. In fact, I’d like to make it official:

FUCK OFF 20’S!  Especially you, 25 and 29, you were the worst of them all!  I’ll be glad to be done with all of you.  Take your bad choices and your awkwardness and your stupid selflessness and especially your acne, and GTFO.  In just a few hours – 4 hours, 27 minutes, 36 seconds to be precise – I get to start a new phase in my life.

And it’s going to be awesome.  (I am still allowed to use the word awesome, right?  Good.)

 
Published on January 12, 2013, by

The 30 Things list is all a bunch of really big stuff.  Well, big to me.  Big enough that I haven’t been able to do those things yet, even when it just involves submitting some paperwork (like #26).  There are a lot of little adventures I’d like to have, too.

Dia de los Muertos Festival

Getting my face painted at the Dia de los Muertos festival in Mesa.

Local events  – While not a wonderland of culture, Phoenix does have some good stuff going on.  Because the weather is usually decent, especially in fall and spring, we have a LOT of festivals.  Food fests, culture fests, music fests, art fests!  Sure, some of them are lame, but in general I love eating food from a booth, listening to music, looking at crafts, and people watching.

New Orleans

Tim and I, hanging out in the French Quarter on our last trip to NOLA. (I swear the self-taken photo style won’t be too common on this blog.)

Short trips – Disneyland, Six Flags, the Grand Canyon, Portland, Seattle, Washington DC, Austin, Boston, New York, Maine – all places I plan to travel to in the next few years, as long weekend trips or to visit family/friends.  Not really list-worthy because I’d be doing these things anyway, but they’re still adventures!  And perhaps posting about them will help me focus on the memories and live in the moment a bit more.

Tim had a gourmet take on traditional Hawaiian foods when we went to Mama's Fish House on Maui.

Tim had a gourmet take on traditional Hawaiian foods when we went to Mama’s Fish House on Maui.

Food – Oh, the food pictures you’ll see.  I’m a foodie, I eat out a lot, and I love to try new things – dining can be a grand adventure unto itself.  When I think about travel, it is always tied a little bit to food.  I’m excited to travel more in part because I’ll get to try the culinary specialties of each region – hopefully I’ll remember to take pictures before I chow down.

Sleepy Grif Dog

My favorite Instagram pic to date – me, with a sleepy Grif in my lap.

Social Sharing – I read a LOT of blogs and I use Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest (all under the username Corgisaurus), so I’ll be sharing the posts, tweets, pictures, and pins that I think are interesting or commentary worthy.  I’ve found a lot of great stuff through the links other bloggers share, which makes me want to do the same.

I might include some general lifestyle stuff or reviews, too.  I’m totally in awe of the bloggers who post regularly, especially when there’s nothing in particular going on.  And even though I should find the minutia of a stranger’s life boring, I almost never do.  Here’s to keeping it interesting!