Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Success

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

 Okay, this is the last time I’ll mention Monster Haiku (Maybe. Probably. …ish?)

A Short Recap

The books arrived from the printer at the beginning of April and we spent several nights after work signing and numbering them (and checking and rechecking to make sure everyone’s name was in there). Making the packaging special was really important to us, so we lovingly wrapped each one with butcher paper and a belly band that Josh screen-printed with “HERE BE MONSTERS”. Each belly band also had little bite marks in it; I might have giggled maniacally when chomping each of those with the die-cutter.

Mailing everything was a learning experience, and despite doing some research before-hand, we were wrong wrong wrong; and so instead of printing some sweet labels at home and then having a margarita, we spent 2 1/2 hours at the post-office kiosk doing each package individually.  And THEN had a margarita.

Then we held our breath for three days, hoping everything went to the right place. Thankfully, we only had one package that went to an old address, and it was easily rectified. Whew!

And I’d like to say right now that I love the internet! I have met some of the most amazing people through these tubes, and it was downright magical watching friends, family, and people I didn’t even know make enthusiastic comments and post photos of their packages on Twitter and Facebook.

Then, when all of that died down, we had an April 13th art show at Lawrenceville’s Wildcard. If you are in Pittsburgh and you’ve never been there, you are missing out — they have everything you need in the realm of sweet art and handmade goods. My personal favorites are the crass cross-stitching kits and the wonderful wall of greeting cards. The art show was a mad success in both attendance and sales — and we had cupcakes out the wazoo.

The End!

A LOT of people helped make this project a success and I am so grateful for all the love given to us before, during, and after the project.  And, once it was all said and done, we donated more than $3,000 to March of Dimes.

This Monster Haiku project has been the most rewarding creative project I’ve ever worked on. Here’s hoping we’ll be able to swing a Monster Haiku 2 in the future…

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Monster Haiku - Final Countdown

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Monster Haiku pre-orders are in full swing. YOU GUYS, there’s only a week left to order!

Current calculations put the amount we’ll be able to donate to March of Dimes somewhere around… well, I don’t want to speak too soon. But there is a comma involved, so that’s a mad success if you ask me.

Dang, this has been an educational experience. Of course, we’re nowhere near finished. In fact, I daresay we haven’t even really started: people have given us money, but we have yet to deliver anything in exchange. Once the project ends on March 4, then the REAL work begins… getting things printed, packaging, mailing. Then, about the time we get all the pre-ordered items released into the wild, we’ll begin feverishly preparing for a show at WildCard in Lawrenceville featuring Monster Haiku. That’s going to be a blast.

Through the course of all this, we’ve learned so much, met some AMAZING people, and developed better relationships with people we don’t hang out with enough.

And at root of it is creativity and helping kids. Is there anything better?

Getting It Done

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Getting all those little things done really is important.

Josh and I are working feverishly on a project* that will be revealed later this month, and knocking out all those small successes is a vital part of keeping us moving forward with enthusiasm and purpose.

I love lists. I learned a long time ago to break tasks down into smaller steps or I will find the big projects too overwhelming… then the dreaded task paralysis sets in and BOOM: I just watched all three Jurassic Park movies instead of doing anything I set out to do that day.

So now, for instance, knowing I have to do three loads of laundry, I will add this to the To Do List as:

  • Laundry
  • Laundry
  • Laundry

…and then cross out each one as a load is completed. Sometimes I’ll add something to the list that I already did and immediately cross it off, just so I give myself the mental credit for it when I consult that list in the future.

It’s not cheating because it gets me more excited to forge ahead and kill another item.

What are your tricks for keeping out from under the never-ending To Do Monster?

*omgomgomg I cannot even tell you everything that is happening right now but it is mega exciting and let’s just say I cannot WAIT for February 1st.

When I am Old I Shall Wear Purple

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Two recent discoveries are giving me pause lately.

One, a rediscovery, is Jenny Joseph’s poem Warning:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

And the other revelation-worthy discovery is a line I heard from Bob Parsons, who says,

“They can’t eat you.”

I like Joseph’s poem for the joyful anticipation she expresses of getting older and acting a little crazy; and that, by the end, she’s realized that now’s as good as any to start. Why put it off?

And Parsons’s quote of “They can’t eat you” is damn liberating. I’ve been replaying various life mishaps — dashing onto stage before my cue in a production of Paquita when I was sixteen, getting confrontational and mouthy with some strangers at an Old Country Buffet in 2001, and half a dozen of those say-something-embarrassing-when-the-room-suddenly becomes quiet instances — with never-yielding levels of  shame for years. Hearing Parsons’s words for the first time instantly washed away half the anxiety I still carry about those events.

And now, looking forward, I better understand that being afraid that you’re not doing it right — whatever “it” is — is silly because the older I get the more I understand most of us are just winging “it” anyway. And if things don’t go right? Whatever: they didn’t eat you. You’re still here.

Worrying about your failures (past, present, and future) is exhausting.

Therefore, I hereby declare the following. I will no longer be afraid of:

…Failing to know. If I don’t understand something or want to know more, I will ask. Even if I think I should already know it, and even if I feel dumb asking. It ultimately doesn’t matter how you acquire new knowledge, just that you get it in your brain.

…Failing to blend. Most of the time I’d like to be invisible. However, there are things I want to do in the upcoming year or so that might mean I have to stick out a little. Even though every internal alarm I have disagrees, sticking out can be valuable and even, dare I say, fun. (Probably.)

…Failing the first time, or the second, third, and so on. Between you and me, there are so many projects I don’t start because I know they won’t meet a certain expectation level in the beginning. If I don’t think it will get at least a B- grade, I usually don’t even try it. The reality is that the first website I build, real pillow I sew, or painting I watercolor are all probably going to be disasters. But putting the time and money into something you know isn’t going to turn out the first time isn’t a waste — it is an investment in your growth and education.

…I’m also trying to use the word “fail” more, because overusing a word you’re sensitive to takes away some of its power, right?

Trying to get into this mind frame won’t be easy or comfortable, but I think it will be a valuable exercise.

And anyway, “They can’t eat you.”

Here’s hoping you try something that scares the crap out of you.

Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love it more than Christmas, more than my birthday. I love to cook, and the group we gather — whatever the size — is always special and full of good feelings. And wine. Lots and lots of wine.

Anyhow, here’s some of the dishes we prepared to general acclaim this year. I wanted to share these on the basis that a) you can try them and b) I won’t have to regoogle them next year.

Baked Mac & Cheese

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Turkey Brine:
Homemade vegetable broth

1/2 Cup Brown sugar
1 Cup of Salt
1/4 peppercorns
2 Tbs all spice
Some fat sprigs of rosemary
Some fat sprigs of thyme
Some leaves of sage

We broke down the turkey and brined it in pieces overnight. There wasn’t any room in the fridge, so it did all its business on the porch (at approximately 40 degrees) while my friend Alethea bravely guarded it from raiding racoons. Out of the brine and into a gentle olive oil massage, then into the oven, breasts first.

There were also croissants and an apple tart from Jean-Marc’s in Millvale, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, some excellent gravy, a delicious pumpkin pie, homemade cranberry sauce… and about a case of wine. The food was great, even if it wasn’t all that fancy — and the company was even better.

The weekend and leftovers meant a big pot of turkey soup and turkey stock; and there were muffins and pie and tart for breakfast every morning.

Thanksgiving is best day of year. I think that’s what I want for my birthday — another Thanksgiving in May. Watch for it.

It’s True

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

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You can’t argue with science.

Steel Anthem Poster Show

Friday, May 21st, 2010

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This is the product of some brainstorming via the blog and twitter regarding the lessons we learn during our journey through life. My brother graduates from high school in June, and I wanted to impart a little wisdom into his brain.

Mundania Horvath over at Steeltown Anthem is curating a show at  <C> Space Collective on June 4th called Steeltown Stock, and I’ve got a few pieces in the show. I hope you’ll check it out — this sneak peak looks like it is going to be awesome!

For Alexis

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

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Not all curls are created equal, sister. You have beautiful hair!

Magically Creepilicious

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Despite Pittsburgh being named America’s Most Livable City (again), I must make the point that it would be even MORE livable if we could get around. I know traffic times aren’t that bad when compared to other metropolises, but dang if it didn’t take me an hour to get less than 6 miles on Saturday afternoon.

Pennsylvania’s state flower is the construction cone, and Pittsburgh is the capital. Apologies to Harrisburg.

But this story isn’t actually about the traffic.

During the crawl through the West End Circle over the weekend, as I sat chillin’ under a railroad trestle waiting for a green light, SOMETHING FELL ON ME through the sunroof. A train rumbled above, so I assumed a tiny piece of concrete or rust had shaken itself loose.

No, I thought, not a bug.

The not-a-bug fell down my shirt, against my back.

Surely not a bug, I thought more fervently, cringeing now.

Down my back it tumbled, and — yes, you guessed it — past the waist of my pants, into my pants.

At this point I was CONCERNED. I sat there, still as a statue, waiting for movement from the unknown object, which would be my cue for a Freak Out. Nothing came.

I continued to wait. Still nothing. The light turned green and I finally made some progress on the road. My eyes were on the road, but my brain was in my pants. Still nothing.

I relaxed. It was gravel, then. Or rust, a random bit of the trestle. No problem. Whew. 

And so what: even if it was a bug? Whatever. I’m a pretty tough chick, right? Right.

This illusion was shattered minutes later when whatever-it-was bit me on the ass, and I sailed across the Duquesne Bridge while punching myself on the top of left butt cheek. I must have killed it, but not before it got three good chomps in.

So in summary, while getting rid of the endless construction would make Pittsburgh even more livable, I propose getting rid of nefarious creatures with more than four legs would make it even more awesome. Dear Mayor Ravenblah…

The Next Best Thing

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

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Josh and I spent a (very) long weekend in AZ, visiting his grandparents and friends.

We had a great time listening to old stories and genealogy, and having some drinks with friends we haven’t seen for too long. I recorded some of the tales from Grandma and Grandpa Sager, even if I didn’t get the best parts (I thought of it too late). While Sager lineage won’t interest you guys, allow me to introduce a different Sager legacy. Behold:

The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford
(name courtesy of Mrs. Shirley Sager… but you can pick they sex symbol of your choice)

Layer 1:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter softened (or margarine)
2 cups finely chopped pecans

Layer 2:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 9 oz. containers Cool Whip thawed

Layer 3:
1 large package Vanilla instant pudding
1 large package Chocolate instant pudding
3 cups milk

Mix the ingredients of Layer 1 with a fork, then spread on the bottom of a 9×12 pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

For Layer 2, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a separate bowl. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread mixture over cooled crust.

Mix Layer 3 ingredients together and spread over Layer 2, cover with any remaining Cool Whip and pecans.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

You’re welcome.