C+C Blog Factory

For Claire and Colin

Who told me to write more.

Tonight’s post is brought to you by the letter W for Wishcraft (a book by Barbara Sher) and wine (the perfect 2 glass sass amount).

Best Bar in town.  It has books.  And cats.

Best Bar in town. It has books. And cats.

And the letter M for the amazing moon out tonight.

I just got home from dinner a bit ago.  I ended up taking a wrong turn in the neighborhood I was in and got turned around quite a bit.  I found this little nook of a subdivision that was incredibly charming.  I have a feeling that if I ever looked for it again in the daylight I wouldn’t find it.  It’s like Brigadoon.

I didn’t feel quite like coming home tonight, so it was nice to drive around a bit more.  Even when I got back to roads I recognized I still ended up taking a longer way home.  I had the moonroof open, the radio blaring and could have driven around for a while – odd for me.

I thought about stopping somewhere.  Calling Rex to see if he was still awake and wanted to get a drink.  Stopping at 16 Bit to play pinball and drink a Hell or High Watermelon beer.  Picking up ice cream.  I did none of these things.  I decided to go to the best bar in town – my patio.

Now I have another glass of wine in hand, a laptop in lap, and Spotify with my favorite playlist next to me.  All the elements are here for sheer stream of consciousness writing.  W for watch out, too.

I started reading Wishcraft a few weeks ago.  And then July got insane busy what with the former English teachers in town, the restaurant weeks, the dates, the friends here for the weekend, the home for a weekend, etc.  Yes, another kind of hokey self-improvement book, but this one came highly recommended… by whom I cannot remember.

The opening line really gets you: Who do you think you are?

The author postulates that we would answer with characteristics like, I’m Sarah, 35, change management consultant, etc. Author calls bullshit on that kind of description.  WHO do you think you ARE??

  • I believe in magic but hate magicians
  • I’m powered by inertia, even though…

It is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical will live the relation to another as something alive.”  Rilke

  • I think the next song on the radio is the universe trying to send me a message
  • I’m regularly surprised that I’m not surprised by things
  • I think if I really put attention to it I could have been a writer

I saw a post about a Flash Fiction writing contest this weekend.  Some silly thing that reminded me a bit of the 48 hour film festival.  You get some parameters and come up with a short story.  I like that idea – I like parameters and writing prompts.  I like boundaries.  There is freedom in boundaries.

I got a bit of news that came like a punch in the stomach at work yesterday.  It’s not that it’s terrible news, it was just hard to hear.  It makes me anxious.  I think it’s a good thing, people keep telling me it’s a good thing, I’m not sure I’m there yet.  I need to apply some of my change management skills to me.  Seriously.   On top of that I haven’t slept great this week – not all related to stress.  But I always say I’m no good tired.  That’s me at my emotional worst is when I’m tired.  Once I finally got back on the path traveled and headed toward home tonight, exhaustion set in.  Then this song came up on my Spotify list:

And in that moment I was done.  Which is exactly the state of mind you want to be in when you decide to write and post things to the world wide web.

I have no plans for this weekend.

None.

Except to go to Orangetheory Saturday and Sunday morning.  Even those are plans for me.  It’s been a minute since I’ve had this kind of weekend.  A weekend of my own design.

Someone asked me to go to the OH State Fair.  This year there is a butter sculpture of Urban Meyer, the coach of the OSU Buckeye football team.  There is something hilarious about this to me, but I dare not speak that out loud here in the O-H-I-O.

I tried rewatching a couple episodes of Newsroom. I still don’t think it’s Sorkin’s best work. I’m trying to give it a second chance, but outside that last episode of the second season, I generally think, “meh”.

I probably only grant it a break because of this song.  Man, I love good cover music.  And this is excellent cover music.

Okay.  I shall wrap this up here before the combination of wine, moonlight and being soooooo tired make me really do some damage here.

Buenos noches.  (Spanish lessons are really working)

It’s Never Too Late for Now

One of the best 30 Rock episodes is in the 5th season, the title is the same as the title of this post: It’s Never Too Late for Now.  In the episode, the 30 Rock gang decides Liz needs to have a little fling after another failed relationship and they orchestrate the perfect one night stand for her.  They create a location, prep a guy and set up events that would drive tentative Liz right into a good time, saving her from a life of being a cat lady.

Without getting into too much detail, I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to, and it reminds me of this episode.  It feels like things have been going so well that secretly my friends are architecting social events in my life.

I suppose the biggest one is the end of 365 Single Days.  (The number ended up being 428 Single Days, not that anyone here was counting…)  I’m not going to get into a lot of details, mostly because I’m a lady.  (And for those of you with evidence to the contrary, how about you keep that to yourself…)  I took to the internet, and the internet provided.  Online dating and the modern world.  I was ready to bail on it after about 2 weeks, encouraged to stick it out by some friends and I’m glad I did.  I went on several first dates…second dates were harder to come by.  Mostly because I think new people are exhausting to get to know. I use a lot of energy to be a good date, and if I don’t get energy back from a person pretty quickly, then it’s over before it began. Moral of the story: It’s nice to be back in the land of the living.  Kissing is fun. Flirting is fun. Getting butterflies in your stomach is fun.  Drinking so much because you’re a little nervous on a date and then acting a fool is a little less fun, but I’m going to work through that.

Another social aspect that finally started working out is, well, me working out!  Ever since moving to Ohio I’ve been whining about finding the right gym or workout.  I loved my St. Louis routine so much and have just been grumpy something as perfect has not presented itself yet.  Until now… Have you heard about Orangetheory Fitness?  It’s amazeballs.  It is exactly the workout I need.  It’s an hour, it’s fast paced, someone is giving me direction every minute so I don’t have to think about the workout I can just do it, and it includes weights!  AND there are data points! (Nerds need to work out too).  They strongly encourage the use of a heart rate monitor during the class and they have tv screens on the wall with your heart rate and calorie burn.  I get an email with the report out after each class.  Data points and a workout where someone is bossing me around?!?!  I’m so in.  I’ve been going for just over 2 weeks and even though it’s as far from me as humanly possible and still in Columbus, I’m averaging 4 times a week there.

I called to tell my sister about an outing friends’ and I did a couple weeks ago and her response was, “I’m just really glad you found your people, Sarah. Because I think that sounds like the weirdest thing ever.”  I did find my people, and the thing my people and I did was a Room Escape.  Apparently these are popping up all over.  You and 10 of your closest friends are locked in a room and given an hour to get out.  There are clues, puzzles, riddles, etc that you have to solve in order to get keys or more clues.  My friends are kind of intense puzzle players (some of the same who went to the full weekend Murder Mystery Event) and we got out in 22 minutes.  I have almost no idea how we pulled that off because it was a fairly frantic race to the finish.  Mostly I stood against a wall creeped out when I found out the guys who run this game, went online and searched our names after we registered, printed up photos of us, and then cut out our eyes or put X’s through our face.  Finding those completely freaked me out.  It was a great touch.

My Claire came to the Cbus for a visit and got to meet most of my inner circle of friends.  Even she could see that I had found my people.  My family is in St. Louis, and I love them, but most of my friends there were getting married and having kids and moving to suburbs.  My peeps here are like me.  And it’s the group I’ve been looking for for a long time.  The friend who was worried she was scheduling too much for us to do (impossible), the friend that cried laughing when I told him what kind of drunk fool I was on a date, the friends that run prison themed races with you just because.

I document plenty of the bad days, it’s important to document the good stuff too, yes?  And I’ll want to look back at this time right now and remember that every day was fun.

The tale of Innovate-y McShea

In 2008 I first attempted to make caramel.  It was part of a caramel swirl ice cream I was hoping to make.  The caramel sauce attempt was sheer disaster.  I’m sure it’s documented somewhere here.  I spent hours trying to turn sugar and water into amber deliciousness and every attempt turned out the same: evaporated water and recrystallized sugar.  Caramel has been my Everest.  I’ve tried a few times since then, always with similar results.  It’s become enough of a thing that I added it to my List of Things to do before I’m Dead.

Several weeks ago I made this mudslide cake:

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Mudslide cake had a caramel like drizzle, as you can see in the photo.  It wasn’t exactly a caramel sauce, but it was caramel sauce adjacent.

For some reason, as I was frying bacon yesterday morning, that caramel adjacent sauce came back to me.  Had a whole list of things to do yesterday, but I decided to do some tweaking and see if I could make caramel.

Spoiler Alert: I totally did.

Here’s what was finally different – completely different ingredients.  Yes.  I’ve always tried with water and sugar (like every recipe starts with).  This time it was butter and brown sugar and a bit of cream.  I let the brown sugar and butter bubble away for a while, pulled it off the heat and added a splash of cream, and then stirred vigorously. I also threw a pinch of salt in it.

And now I have made caramel!

And now I have made caramel!

As I eat breakfast I think about what i’m going to do with the caramel.  (Keep in mind I have maybe half a cup with which to work here).  My initial thought is brownies with a salted caramel swirl.  That would require me leave the house to get either eggs or a brownie mix.  Leaving the house was not an option.  What can I do with what I have on hand?  Tart shell!  The plan is coming together.  I have a bush full of raspberries outside, I have caramel, I can make a tart shell.

I halve the recipe for my go to pie crust recipe.  I decide this effort doesn’t require me getting out the full rolling pin.  I use a mug.

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Then I have to think about what kind of pan to make these in.

I had a few options...

I had a few options…

My actual first thought was that I was surprised I don’t have individual tart pans.  All the kitchen stuff I have and no mini tart pans?  So I start rummaging.  I could make tiny tarts in the mini muffin pan.  I could use ramekins.  I had some mini loaf pans left over from the zucchini bread adventure of last summer.  In the end I decided to try a few tiny tarts in the mini muffin pan and a rectangle tart shell in the mini loaf pan.

Next thing to solve for was pie weights.  In my last apartment in STL I had a stash of dried beans I used for pie weights.  I did not pack and move them to Ohio.  And I have no dried beans in the house.  I did have almonds!  Figured that would work AND I would have some toasted almonds when it was all said and done!  Genius.

While tart shells are baking I run outside, in what is basically a scene out of Noah, to pick more raspberries.

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I baked up all the tart shells and at that point realized that using almond flour in the tart crust would have been amazing.  Next time.

3 of 4 tiny tarts made it

3 of 4 tiny tarts made it

Finally – assembly!

The little rectangle one turned out so cute!

The little rectangle one turned out so cute!

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The little ones did not last long...

The little ones did not last long…

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I’m funny in that when I decide I want to make a pastry, I find a way.  Where is that persistence when I decide I need to organize the basement?

Anyway – time to cross making caramel off the list!

Gotta make change to get change

I have this story, that I may or may not have told on this blog but I’m too lazy to go back and check, about the week I gave up sugar changing my life.  It was August 2011 and I was stagnant.  Relationship I knew I needed to end, boss that made me crazy, job that wasn’t going anywhere and just generally stuck.  I needed something to be different at the end of that week.  So, I gave up sugar.  I would have a tangible thing I could say I did differently that week.  Well, at the end of that week I got fired, which led to applying to grad school, which led to the amazing grad school experience, which led to the job here…  Yes, I attribute it all to making one little change.

I’ve been in that place lately.  I demanded of my therapist a couple weeks ago that we had to do something different because I feel like I’m the same.  I tend to be very aware of time passing and of me not getting anywhere – regardless of if that’s true or not.  Therapist and I came up with some ideas.

One is that I tried acupuncture.  It’s been on my list to try regardless of feeling stuck, and this seemed like the right time to do it.  I’ve been three times now.  The first two times I had a really positive reaction to it.  It might be psychosomatic or a placebo effect, but whatever makes me feel awesome.  This past Saturday I felt more agitated the whole time.  So either my aura is dealing with something or I just didn’t respond as well to the different acupuncture person.  Other new thing was joining a Columbus running club.  I was at the kick off session last Saturday with 600 other people!  I wasn’t expecting such a huge group.  By the time the pace groups break out it’s more manageable.  In keeping with the theme last Friday night I also went to two new to me places.  I had what might be my favorite local beer at Lineage Brewing.  They have a cream ale, that is the beer equivalent of cream soda.  It was light and smooth.  So good.  Then we walked down the block to Harvest Pizzeria which has been recommended to me for a long time.  It was de-lic-ious.  Rex and I split each of our meals and every bite I put in my mouth was amazing.

I’m still not quite feeling the momentum I’m longing for.  Perhaps I didn’t feel it back in August of 2011 either, yet when I look back I see how it all fit together.  Maybe it’s time to give up sugar again.

You’ve got a friend in me.

Guys.  My cup runneth over lately.

I mentioned to my pal Meg that I thought about going to Richmond to see her over Memorial Day weekend.  She responded that she would rather come here and see me and my new town and my house.  THEN she talked our friend Ang from St. Louis to come out too.  Wooo!!!  Together again!

Love, love, love these two!

Love, love, love these two!

These ladies were part of Sarah’s Supper Club back in St. Louis, so I planned our first night to just hang out and catch up with each other while we made dinner and drinks.  Old times!  Also, Meg always appreciates learning something new.

Started with little cucumber canapes.  So easy, greek yogurt with some dill and lemon juice mixed in.  Smoked salmon and chives.

Started with little cucumber canapes. So easy, greek yogurt with some dill and lemon juice mixed in. Smoked salmon and chives.

The girls laughed at me for arranging an appetizer.  It took less than 5 minutes to put together.  It’s more of assembly than cooking.  We sat out on the patio drinking delicious cocktails and eating these and telling stories about being a newlywed (Meg), a mom (Ang), and, well, a me.

Grapefruit rosemary cocktails - so good. And rosemary from the herb garden!

Grapefruit rosemary cocktails – so good. And rosemary from the herb garden!

Dinner - my favorite burger!  Lamb burgers with goat cheese, arugula and peach preserves.  Served with a greek salad and sweet potato fries.

Dinner – my favorite burger! Lamb burgers with goat cheese, arugula and peach preserves. Served with a greek salad and sweet potato fries.

We had dinner on the patio with a bottle of wine and it was so lovely to be with these two again.  The next day we had an easy morning, we made lemon ricotta pancakes with a blueberry compote and bacon on the side.  We took a short walk through the Short North and then met my friends for lunch.  I was so happy to introduce four of my favorite Columbus friends to these two. There was a moment where I looked around the table at my Columbus friends and just knew I had found my people. So happy.  We had a great lunch over tacos and margaritas and then 5 of us headed to see Pitch Perfect 2.

The rest of the weekend flew by and when the girls were both gone I only missed them for a minute when I got an invite out to a movie and dinner with friends.

This past weekend was just as amazing with all different friends.  Our friend Peter has been planning a birthday bash to put all others to shame for months now.  It did not disappoint.  Karaoke, photo booth, ice cream sundae bar, dancing, drinks and getting a little dressed up.

With the man of the hour.

With the man of the hour.

We were rocking the accessories table.

We were rocking the accessories table.

Glow in the dark everything.

Glow in the dark everything.

I climbed into bed at 3am.  It was a great night.

I paid for super fun Friday night by what can only be called an all day hangover on Saturday.  I crawled out of bed at 10:05am only because I needed a McGriddle as hangover breakfast and they stop serving them at 10:30am.  I came home to go straight back to the couch for a few more hours.  I did catch up on Orphan Black – which is awesome.

I got an amazing surprise when my friend Amy said they were driving through Columbus for a last minute trip back to St. Louis and would I like to get dinner?!  Only, hell yes.  Amy is who I refer to as my “original favorite”.  She was this incredibly bright and dedicated woman we hired into my corporate training job a decade ago.  I loved her from the minute I met her.  She married a wonderful man who is in the Air Force and she eventually moved to Germany, then Hawaii, then back to Rhode Island and now DC.  We’ve always stayed in touch and she has inspired me so much along the way.  She and her husband recently had a baby and it was a long road for them to get there, so seeing them with their baby boy made me so happy.  I have never been so excited to meet a baby.  He is just so lucky – he has the greatest parents.

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Sunday I had odd plans to drive to Indianapolis to see a movie and eat tacos with Ex Hubs.  He’s about to take a long term assignment in a land far, far away.  I wasn’t going to be able to get back to STL before he left and we both have a deep appreciation for natural disaster movies… so we devised a plan to meet in the middle, watch San Andreas, eat tacos and then return to our respective cities.  San Andreas was great fun.  It’s not quite as amazing as Day After Tomorrow, but it was lots of fun and had enough junk science and general destruction to be worth it.

The hits will keep coming this Friday when I meet my friend Alex in Cincinnati for the afternoon.  Alex lives in Boston, but in Cincy for a music conference.  I’m dragging him to the Sign Museum (yes, it’s a thing) and we’ll get dinner.  I haven’t seen him in almost 3 years so this is awesome that he’ll be so close.

I haven’t seen this many different friends in such a short period of time since all of these people lived in St. Louis.

My people.

Two Years!

It snuck up on me. Two years ago today was my first day on the job in Columbus.  I drove up on a Saturday and moved into a friend’s basement until I figured out where to live.  Started work Monday.  Man, it all happened so fast.

Two years later…

Today: I started the day by working on a really big project at work. I had two of my favorite co-workers instant message me with funny pictures and to catch up. I had lunch with this very fun group of ladies that formed a book club that mostly reads young adult books (like Fault in our Stars or Sisters Red) but sometimes reads grown up books like this month’s Girl on a Train (which I loved!  The main character is so flawed. And let’s face it, I am one bad day away from day drinking, lying about my job, making up stories about strangers and stalking my ex.  I just got her.).  I had to leave work at 3:15 to get uptown where the local ACMP chapter steering committee was meeting to begin drafting our bylaws.  This is the group I assembled to create our local chapter.  We worked for over 90 minutes on what we want this Central Ohio change community group to be.  It dawned on me as I was walking back to my car that I was just steps away from the apartment I lived in when I first moved here.  And then it dawned on me that it was 2 years ago.

I smiled as I climbed into my car.  This is my town now.  I live here.  I drove to my favorite grocery store which is on that side of town.  I came home to my house and to my cats and to my garden where I had three radishes ready for harvest.  Two years.

Most days I think I am wasting time, that I’m not doing enough, being enough, moving fast enough.  I’m so aware of time passing.  Today, thinking about how much has happened in the last two years – I feel that while I could have done more (always could do more) I have done some stuff.  Enough to have fulfilling work, lots of friends who read the books I love, and enough contacts to stand up a local chapter of a global organization.

Not so shabby.

Happy Anniversary to me.

365 Single Days

It’s been said you should live alone for at least a year so you figure out who you are, what you like, etc.  I’ve done that.  In fact, I’ve probably now spent more years living on my own than I spent living with Ex Hubs.  Living alone is not the same as 365 single days.  While living alone I was still dating, or entertaining a gentleman caller, or something like that, during that time.  I just had my own place.  You do learn a lot by having your own place and I would join those who recommend it.

365 Single Days.  No dating.  No flings.  No walks of shame.  No kicking someone out of bed. No relationship drama.  No sex.

I learned a whole different set of things about myself in this kind of alone year.

This isn’t about woe is me, I’m single.  What I learned about 2/3 of the way through the year is that I had decided to be single.  I had friends who assured me that if I wanted a date, or to bring some guy home, I could make that happen.  Once I believed that, my perspective on the 365 days started to shift.  I don’t think I needed to use this time to “get to know me,” but it was helpful to have this time to get to know it’s okay to be alone.

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I don’t know about you, but this is the longest stretch of single-ness since I turned 18.  There’s always been a guy, and all the drama, reflection, attention, collaboration, compromise, etc.. that they come with.

So, I can do it.  I can be alone.  Turns out I still shave my legs regularly, cook elaborate meals for just me, can figure out how to use a tile saw, and be just fine.

That doesn’t mean I prefer it.

I have super friends and family and they’re around for sharing news, hanging out, trying a new experience, seeing a movie, etc.  I can call and text and FaceTime them with all the weird and random things that happen throughout the day.  But there’s no one to help carry in the groceries.  Or help me put a bracelet on in the morning.  Or celebrate with me when I finally nailed the best 3 point turn path to get into my garage.  seuss quote 2

When I have done the 30 day stints with no sugar, dairy, etc you learn just how much you depend or count on foods that have little value to you.  It’s habit, or emotionally motivated, or sabotage.  365 single days leads to similar outcomes.  I tracked when I had my phone in my hand to dial old numbers out of habit, emotional states, or sabotage.  I learned new coping mechanisms.

There might be something about valuing myself more.  After eating “clean” for a long time, people are less inclined to start putting junk food back in their body.  After 365 single days, I’m less inclined to put junk people in my life.  Someone once told me they were ready to settle down, but not at all ready to settle.  That’s how I feel.  I spent all this time man detoxing, the next thing I put in better be good (take that how you want it – I didn’t intend it to be dirty – but I haven’t had sex in a year, so….)

Just for funsies, a friend and I went to “Wine and Psychic” night at a local wine bar two nights ago.  It was my first experience with a palm reader.  It was all in good fun, and yes, I understand that most people (especially single girls at wine and psychic night) want to hear that they’ll have success, happiness and love.  All she has to do is validate those are on their way and she’d make 90% of the people happy.  I know.  Regardless, she said some things that worked for me.  The one related to me and all the single days is that she told me I am a completely competent single person.  I got this.  I don’t need anyone to take care of me.  I don’t need your help.  I don’t want your money.  She said the next guy is on his way (she was pretty sure in the next 6 months the BIG ONE is going to be on my doorstep) and when he gets here I’m going to have to back off those tendencies.  I can do it, I can be alone and thrive.  To have successful relationship, I’m going to have to take care of me a little.  I know that I’m not so good at that.  I go out of the way to make sure people know I’m not taking advantage of them, or using them, or want something from them that I don’t think I deserve.  Maybe it’s not always my decision about what people want to give to me.

Not that this little unintentional experiment is over, time to make room in my life for whatever is next.