29 November 2008

#5: Order Christmas Cards & Labels

Well, not only have I ordered the cards and labels, but I have signed the cards, addressed and sealed the envelopes, and mailed the overseas cards. Jason helped, and it is always a fun part of the holiday season. I'm just waiting on a few more addresses, and then we need to buy a bunch of stamps. I love this time of year! Now if only my other four "Top Five" would go this quickly...

For my new number 5, I think I'm going to have something about the living nativity I'm putting together for my church. It's due to open in two weeks (as of tonight!), and I'm terrified and excited all at the same time. And when I say that I'm putting it together, I mean it. I'm doing everything except costumes, which another church member agreed to be in charge of. EVERYTHING else is me. Please pray!

Old #5: Order Christmas cards & labels - CHECK!

New #5: Successfully present two evenings of a living nativity at my church.

25 October 2008

Catching Up

It's been over 4 months since I last posted. Not surprisingly, in that amount of time I've completed three more of my next five. Unfortunately, I don't have photos for all of them, but I can supply one for interest's sake.

The ones I've completed are:

#2: Try mushrooms in 3 new recipes. I did, and I didn't like them in any of the three. Which is unfortunate, but it's the truth. Now I can truly say I've given the awful fungi a fair shot, and I don't have to like them.

#3: Make plans and reservations for our New England vacation this fall. Well, it IS this fall, and our trip was over a month ago. I actually had the entire vacation planned as far as routes and hotels, including a couple of coupons for restaurants. Everything was neatly printed, hole-punched, and organized in a binder, with a cover page for our road trip around New England. I had maps with directions between destinations, our reservation confirmations, the restaurant discount coupons, and our flight information. I was so proud of myself!

#5: Give a lesson to someone in how to play steel drums. This happened a VERY long time ago...I think shortly after I posted that blog in June. I did have a picture of this taken, but it wasn't on my camera, and I never managed to secure a copy. I gave an hour-long lesson to my friend Bridget, who has always wanted to play the steel drums, but has never been given the opportunity. I promised I'd give her another lesson when she returns from South America where she is currently serving as a student missionary. She did well, by the way.

Below is a photo from our trip to New England.

That's Jason and I at Fenway Park in Boston (home of the Red Sox). We're standing on the famous Green Monster on our $12 tour of the stadium, which was well worth it.

So, since I've used 3 of my next five, I need three new ones. Here we go:

Old #2: Try mushrooms in 3 new recipes. CHECK!

New #2: Get our garden boxes built.

Old #3:Make plans/reservations for our NE vacation. CHECK!

New #3: Replace at least 2 windows in our house.

Old #5: Give someone a lesson on steel drums. CHECK!

New #5: Order Christmas cards and address labels for mailing them.

03 June 2008

A Big Day!

I have completed three of my next five, and now have the challenge of coming up with three new ones. Here's what I've accomplished:

#2: Create an exercise and better eating plan and stick with it for two weeks. Today marks two weeks since I began my exercise plan at Curves for Women. I've also been avoiding desserts (except one on the weekend as a treat), eating less dairy, and trying to limit my portions. I've also been attempting to include more fruit and vegetables in my diet and fewer sodium-rich products. So far, I think I'm doing well - not perfect, but well. I feel so much better about myself already, and I'm looking forward to the 15th of June, which is my next measuring day after my initial startup at Curves. (Scary, but exciting!)

#4: No ice cream until June 1. I did it! It was SOOOO hard, because ice cream is my favourite dessert, but I did it. My most challenging moments were when I visited my parents over Memorial Day weekend (they stocked up on ice cream while we were there), and then when Jason and I had a French fry craving and satisfied it at Dairy Queen. Oh I longed for a Blizzard! But I was strong. And to celebrate, on June 1 I DID go to DQ and ordered a small Blizzard. Strangely enough, it didn't taste as amazing as I expected it to.

#5: Research freelance writing and copy editing. This I have done. And, to make this post even more incredible than it already is, I already have my first freelance job! I am writing an article for Amistad International for their 2008 newsletter. I might also be doing some copy editing for them. Secondly, a librarian I know (no, it's not my husband) is in chairing a committee that is producing an instructional book on how to set up a library, and I have put in a bid for copy editing it. Unfortunately, it has to be written before it can be edited, so it may be a while in coming to me. That's fine; I will wait. So recently I met with a communications professor who has been doing freelance editing for quite a while, and she gave me some great tips on getting started and reporting income for tax purposes, and how to charge clients, etc. It was very helpful, and I think I finally have my foot in the door for freelancing. Now to get the rest of me through the door...

So...numbers 2, 4, and 5 - exercise and eat better, no ice cream until June 1, and researching freelance work: CHECK!

New #2: Try mushrooms in 3 different recipes. (Note: I notoriously hate mushrooms. But I'm trying to branch out and be adventurous.)

New #4: Get in contact with at least 2 classmates I haven't heard from in several years.

New #5: Give someone a lesson in how to play steel drums.

14 May 2008

#2: Figure Out Where to Plant a Garden

Well, we've finally scoped out a spot and made some plans for a garden. NOW is the time to be planting, but that's not happening because...there's a 40-foot pine tree in the middle of our future garden.

I've called a local tree company for an estimate, but have yet to receive a reply. (My first request was left in a pocket and discovered a week later in the employee's dryer.) So I'm patiently waiting for the estimate...but probably only "patiently" because I have so many other things to do.

Anyway, I'd post a photo of the spot, but my camera is (still) in the shop...another call for which I wait patiently.

The point is that we now know where our garden is going to go, and we just have to get it started. I'll post photos as soon as I get my camera back.

Old #2: Figure out where to plant a garden - CHECK!
New #2: Create an exercise and better eating plan and stick with it for two weeks. (Baby steps, ya know!)

09 May 2008

#3: Class of 2001 Newsletter

It's done! Finally, after 8 months of collecting information and waiting for people to seem interested in staying in touch with friends they had in high school, I have completed the third of my Next Five.

I did, however, alter the format from the 2007 edition of the newsletter. Last year it was an email sent with a pdf attachment - no photos. This year, it is its own blog, complete with photos for those who sent them, contact information made available, and a notice about our 10-year reunion in 2011. I am SO proud of myself I pulled a muscle patting myself on the back.

Unfortunately, Blogger found something suspicious about my lengthy blog entry (with over 25 class members, what do you expect?), and locked my blog for review for possible spam. Fortunately, they realized I was indeed a real person and my post was indeed a real blog. So now everything is good to go.

So, with that finally out of the way and in a format that's easier to update and locate, I can now remove this aspiration from my Next Five and add a new #3.

Old #3: Succeed in Producing the Second Annual GSA Class of 2001 Newsletter - CHECK!

New #3: Make plans and reservations for our New England vacation this fall.

25 April 2008

A Slight Modification

I've tried going completely vegan for a week several times and it just never works, for some reason or another. A couple of weeks ago I vowed to not eat ice cream until the end of May, simply because I was doing too much of it. And so far, I've made good on that.

Due to my inability to go completely vegan for a week, I've decided to cut almost all dairy from my diet until June 1. No ice cream, no "real" eggs, no dairy milk, no butter (unless someone else cooked with it and I had no say), etc. The only thing I cannot give up completely is cheese. I will try to not eat very much of it, but I cannot substitute it.

Hence, my alteration of the old #4: Go vegan for a(nother) week. So far, so good!

24 April 2008

#2: Read, "Eat Love Pray" by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is a fantastic book. I can't praise it enough. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone - all ages, nationalities, religions, whatever. If you've ever found yourself wondering what the point of life and/or religion is/was, this is the book for you. And if you can read and aren't ADD to the point where you can't sit still long enough to read, this is the book for you. In short, read the book!

The book is about the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, after she goes through a harrowing, traumatizing divorce. She takes a year of her life and decides to spend it looking for meaning and searching for God. She spends 4 months each in Italy, India, and Indonesia, and finds more than she bargains for.

A journey of self-discovery is one every human makes; Gilbert simply made a much more obvious one than most of us get the opportunity to make. Simply fascinating. I can't say that enough. Definitely a book worth buying.

#2: Read, "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. CHECK!

New #2: Figure out where to plant a garden.

31 March 2008

#5: No Coffee Until March 27

Well I did it! I went an entire month without a drop of coffee. For all of you addicts out there, know that it IS possible to survive without the dark drink of death.

I have to say, though, that when I did finally have a coffee (Sunday, March 30), it was one of the most delicious coffees I've ever had: A Black Forest Mocha from a little local place near the ocean in Seaside, Ore. I'll definitely go there again next time I'm in Seaside.

I also have to admit I'm rather proud of myself. My goal was to avoid coffee until March 27, and I actually went 3 days longer. In addition, I had maybe 6 sips out of the entire cup. I did much better than I thought I was going to.

The point of this goal was to determine if there was any connection between my increasing lack of good sleep and my increasing intake of coffee. Though my research was not quite purely scientific, I have decided that yes, coffee does affect my sleep, even decaf, and even when I drink it in the morning.

This finding will not keep me from drinking coffee in the future, but I plan to drink much less than I was a month ago. As much as I like the stuff, I do know that anything in excess is bad. And it's much easier to get an excess of coffee than it is to get an excess of, say, water.

Old #5: Check.

New #5: Do some research on freelance copy editing. I really want to get into that, so I might as well start it now, before I have kids and run out of time to do the research.

A Slight Modification

Well, I pulled a Petra and slightly modified one of my "Next Five." Jason and I have been doing a lot of talking about our kitchen (especially after we tried to fix the drawers and they practically fell apart), and we have decided that we may just go ahead and have new cupboards and counters installed altogether. None of this trying to fix what the last person did wrong. No way!

So we're leaning more toward brand new instead of simply painting the cupboards, and I have modified the #1 in my Top Five. I'll keep you posted on what happens on this front. Hopefully there will be some news soon...

03 March 2008

#5: Get in Touch With the WWV Chamber

Finally, Mr. Warkentin of the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce replied to my inquiries regarding the Event Planner position at the Chamber. Apparently although the person previously in the position had quit only a week or two before, they had already filled the position. They're fast.

So there's no application for a fun new job for me...but my email of interest is in their files. You never know when something like that could come back to help ya!

Now for a new #5. Ah, yes: No coffee (or other forms of caffeine) until our Spring Break vacation (March 27-30). This is in an attempt to conduct an experiment with my body. (Sounds gross, but bear with me.)

Over the last month or so, I have been suffering from whatever it is doctors call it when you get to sleep but then wake up several times and wake up in the morning feeling just as tired as when you went to bed the night before. It's not really insomnia, because I do sleep, it's just constantly interrupted. And I can't explain it.

I finally made a connection between when I started going to the new local coffee shop more frequently (3 times a week on average) and when I started having sleep issues. So even though I can get decaf coffee (which still has caffeine in it anyway), I'm shooting for no coffee at all, just to be safe.

I don't know if coffee is the culprit or not, but I'm conducting a nearly month-long experiment to find out. I'll let you know how it goes.

#5: Get in touch with the WWV Chamber of Commerce about the Event Planner position there. CHECK!

New #5: No coffee until March 27

27 February 2008

#5: Take Music Lessons Again

Well, I FINALLY did it! I've completed another item on my Next Five. It took me a while, but I hope this is just a one-time thing and the rest will come more quickly.

Two weeks ago I began taking voice lessons for the first time since graduation in June 2005. I meet with the chair of the WWU Department of Music every Friday afternoon to go over the mezzo solos in the Mozart Requiem, as I will be performing with WWU's choir and orchestra (along with 3 other soloists) on Alumni Weekend in April.

The lessons are actually quite fun, though they have been draining, as I have not been practicing as much as I should for the last 2 1/2 years. I learned a lot even on the first day, as Dr. James has MUCH expertise to impart.

I have never taken lessons from him before, but he is very honest, experienced, and entertaining. During my warm-ups, his facial expressions force me to look away so as to not burst out laughing in the middle of "ee-oh-ee-oh-ee." He's only trying to get me to open my my mouth (and consequently my throat and diaphragm), but the expressions he makes doing that rival any clown.

His lesson techniques are absolutely fabulous. He makes it a point never to criticize the first attempt at a certain warm-up. He may criticize the second, but never the first. He also manages to tell me I did something VERY wrong without making me feel as stupid as I most likely sounded.

Dr. James has also been singing for many, many years. Longer than I've been alive, actually. His solo "resume" includes playing Don Giovanni at a large opera house in Rome. He can speak Italian and understands Latin. He also knows how to sing in practically any language anyone has ever written in. This makes learning pronunciation easy, yet incredibly frustrating at times.

So now that I have accomplished #5: Take music lessons again, what will I add to my list? How about something I'm sure I'll be able to accomplish relatively soon? Here we go - my NEWEST Next Five addition:

#5: Get in touch with the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce regarding their open Event Planner position and learn more about it.