Photo: Ursa Minor on the playground today. At a playground that might actually make me like playgrounds!
It’s Friday, dear reader! It’s the last Friday of April! Time to assess what I’ve done with my time.
There were plenty of events to bemoan this month, and I’m sure that I chronicled them nicely enough, but I’d like to put some victories down for the record. I read through my 2014 task list and I’m really pleased with the progress that I’ve made in some categories and surprised about how others have been neglected (25 books this year? What was I smoking??). I’ve plenty of time…it’s only the second quarter! (No, seriously. That isn’t gonna happen.)
Here’s what I can say I’ve accomplished this month:
1. Not only can I knit, but I can read a pattern! Behold my first completed knitting creation:
I found a pattern for a little drawstring “gift bag” and decided to go for it. It was the only pattern that I could find that didn’t require knitting in the round (haven’t learned that yet) or double-pointed needles (don’t have any of those yet). You can see that I screwed up the pattern at one point (boo), but otherwise have a pretty consistent knit going on here! It didn’t take me that long, either… maybe 2 weeks? Which seems like a long time, but I have other stuff going on. I’m proud of myself because I actually learned how to read a pattern and work it through. It got tricky at the ruffly top, where I had to decrease and increase for the first time… but I made it happen! Yeaaah! I’ve bought the pattern for my next knitting project, but I have to complete something else first.
2. I’m going back to my first love to create something for preschool (sorta). Behold, the thing that is currently keeping my hands busy:
I’m hand embroidering a farm-themed playmat for the school auction next month. This little patch of seedlings was completed yesterday and I’m now on to the pumpkin patch… which will take forever. I’m not excited about the school auction at all, and probably won’t even attend. Who wants to be the poorest person in the room at a silent auction? Another post for another time. Anyway, I haven’t done needlework in a while, so it’s nice to sit down with the floss and the hoop and get to work. Lord, it takes forever, but it’s beautiful when it’s done.
3. I am a baker like whoa! I learned how to make two different new breads, and each have funny stories. The first is banana bread, which my husband has been screaming for. You need super-ripe bananas to make it happen, and usually the boys eat them all before they get gross enough for bread. The recipe I learned calls for at least 6 bananas, so basically the boys have to choose to hate bananas for over a week to make this work. Well, twice this month, it has happened, so I’ve been able to make it. The funny thing about it is that I hate bananas in most circumstances, and so I am usually holding my nose during the process of baking this!
The second bread that I learned how to bake came from my sister-in-law. She came up in here with a “starter” for “Amish Friendship Bread” during Ursa Minor’s birthday party. She brought a loaf that she’d baked and then brought a starter for both me and my mother-in-law, along with instructions on what to do with it and ultimately the recipe for the bread. “Don’t lose the starter after you bake it. Only the Amish know how to start it, so if you lose it, you’ve gotta wait for someone to give it to you.” Mmmmmkay. I read the recipe and it called for a box of instant pudding which was, first, ewww and second, totally not Amish. So, you know… Anyway, The Internet says that it’s got nothing to do with the Amish, everything to do with just a “pleasant” chain-letter kind of thing, and probably a little to do with a genius author who wants to sell books and make people feel good and bake bread. So there. But I didn’t tell my sister-in-law this because I didn’t want to break up the Disney-style way that she views the world she walks in (don’t wake a sleepwalker, right?).
Anyway. I severely modified the recipe (made my own pudding instead of the instant stuff, used butter instead of oil, cut the sugar almost in half) and baked two pretty good loaves of bread. They are great for breakfast and fantastic accompaniment to coffee. So, it’s a keeper.
I also revived a favorite Jacques Pepin recipe that I loved but had forgotten: Split roasted mustard-crusted chicken. It’s fancy sounding but super easy and delicious. Make it this weekend. You can dress it up for company or swing it on a Wednesday night. Seriously. (and yes, you can make it with chicken parts instead of splitting a whole chicken. But it’s cheaper for you to butcher your own, you know… just sayin’.)
4. Is that positive feedback? I had a great month of writing, though I wrote fewer words this month than I did last month. I made myself a little Excel document to track my writing habits (fiction and blogging) just to see where my efforts have been going. I wrote very few words of fiction this month because I wasn’t feeling the long-project that I outlined (which is a huge problem) and I was waiting for feedback on a serial story that I started last month and was waiting to write the second installment for. Well, according to Excel, I wrote a total of 19,801 words this month, 13,863 of them being for this blog. That’s a little ridiculous. As you can tell, that doesn’t leave a high number for fiction… gonna try to boost that next month.
It shouldn’t be too hard to work on that fiction count next month because I feel like all of the feedback on my short-fiction work came rushing in this week and it was majority positive. Really positive. Crazy positive! There are, of course, issues. Issues that can be resolved in the editing process, but I’ve been encouraged by all involved to write the next installment. So, that’s what May is going to be all about. I’m not going to say that this is putting my “worth challenge” completely back on track, but I’m saying that I’m feeling really good. It looks like all of the practice is starting to turn into something here…
And speaking of “here,” I am really grateful for the positive feedback that I received from my last two “Quiet Thoughts” posts. Thank you for your compliments and encouragement! I don’t know why I turned Friday into these deeper posts, but I’ve tried to turn Friday into the thoughtful, reflective day of my week. I hope that I haven’t written myself into a corner or set myself up for non-awesomeness in the future, because as I told The Modern Idiot last week, I don’t really have any more stories to tell! So… uh… yeah… don’t read anymore of my Friday posts. Just…uh… ignore those.
5. New relationships are emerging. We did a few social events this month within our preschool community, and I’ve made a connection with at least two other moms who I really respect and like. There were birthday parties and egg hunts, there was also a mom’s knitting night out that was fun, and even a few email exchanges. I still feel like the new girl, and certainly at the bottom of the totem pole, but I don’t feel like an outcast, so that’s good. I’ve already written about my awesome next-door neighbors, who we seem to see every day. Establishment takes time. We seem to be moving in the right direction.
6. I might have actually found a playground that I like! What? This came today! There is a fantastic little recreation area in my town complete with a pavilion for concerts and playing fields. There is a new fenced-in play area where I was very happy to find children of many different colors playing happily! And there was no fighting about toys. No snotty looks. No nothing! So much better than the stuffy playgrounds in the next town over! Could I learn to love the playground after all??
Best of all though, this month is the month where the snow thawed, we got outside, and we started to renew our appreciation for this house and its potential. A lot of work got done, and we’ve been the most active that we’ve been in a long while. I actually feel healthy, and maybe a little thinner? Certainly stronger. And I have a little tan going on. My hair feels stronger and softer, too!
I hope that you are feeling accomplished on this Friday, dear reader. I hope that you can look back on your month and know that you did at least one thing that you’re proud of and one thing that is propelling you closer to your goals. This weekend, I wish you the satisfaction of at least one job well done. I wish you the fragrance of a flowering bush during a pretty walk to your favorite spot, and the friendly greeting of the person who knows exactly what you need when you walk in the door. I wish you a time to people-watch from a bench in a park, or the corner chair by the window of your favorite coffee shop, watching as we all emerge from our dens and wander the newly-colored world around us. I wish you fingernails caked with dirt and an aching back after a time turning the soil and planting something beautiful or edible (or both!). I wish you the wisdom of knowing that with each frustrating stretch, each day of set backs, there are opportunities and victories that push you ever forward. I wish you joy this weekend, because you deserve it.
Until Monday, take care.