Posted by: raesalley | April 12, 2015

Weekend Workings

Yesterday, I baked a cake. Today, I helped my girl make a kaleidoscope. Such is the crafty work of a mom on a weekend.

I got a phone call from one of my cousins early on Thursday, asking if they could stop by on Saturday. We turned that into an impromptu birthday party. I owed my girl a cake, since her mid-week birthday kinda didn’t allow for it. This also meant that we really did have to clean our downstairs, a task we had planned on doing but hadn’t really committed to doing because “eh, we’ll get there.” Amazingly, the cake was finished frosting (barely) and the house was clean before folks showed up. Granted, it wasn’t SFZ level clean, but I don’t think that will happen until I can get a housekeeper, kids to stop making messes at every chance or the kids to actually help with the cleanup. It was presentable if not perfect, everyone was outside for most of it anyway and the kids had a great time.

I remembered that I hadn’t done a write up. I had done one in my head (and taken the picture) on Friday, but needed to get that posted.

Today’s project was a little more fun, and a bit belated and a bit overdue. My parent’s bought Gummi Bear a kaleidoscope kit when they were at the Northern shore. After being babied by the Kiwi Crate kits that contain everything you may need, I forgot I might need things to put this together. It took a few attempts to remember to get out the glue before Buddy Roo had his nap, but once we did, it was easy peasy to put it together. The finished result was fantastic and now a precious little thing for the girl. I forgot how fun kaleidoscopes were to make. The last time I made one was in high school, for my geometry class. It was a last minute mess, but it was fun. I still have mine in my craft closet.

The spring being sprung has been lovely for feeling creative and getting back to basics. Last weekend we planted seeds in pots and now there are small pumpkin sprouts and bean sprouts peeking out of the dirt. Soon tomatoes, peas, carrots and peppers will follow. Small measures of home, like the cleaning downstairs and friends being over, provide a nice foundation for the future.

A few more little things to hang and a few more dead plants to remove and we’ll be in a good foundation for what comes next.

Posted by: raesalley | April 10, 2015

Grubb’s Diner

Few know the full story of why I have a small mug from a place called Grubb’s Diner. The story involves a snow storm, a bunch of insanity and an early test of adult independence.

Back when I was young and believed the world was generally going to go my way, I switched my major from very safe chemical engineering to completely insane and fly-by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants theater. I had no idea how I was going to live after college, I just knew that I had to stop doing engineering before I lost my mind. Everything I was doing in engineering made no sense and followed rules in a game I couldn’t comprehend. In the theater, I was the one in control. It was like being able to breathe after getting pulled in the undertow – you knew the surface was right there and you should be able to save yourself, but it just wasn’t going to happen.

Being on the tech/production side of the theater meant that if I wanted to go, I could attend the theater conference for our district with all the others in the group. I just had to get there and pay for my own food while I was in town. That year, it was being hosted at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA. This was about a four hour drive from my parents’ home or a five hour drive from school. I was going to meet up with everyone from home and then drive from the conference back to school. Then the snow came.

My drive was going to be mainly on interstates, and fairly easy if there was no snow. I got off of I99 right before they closed the road. The last twenty minutes of the drive probably took about twice that as I was being careful and some of the signs weren’t quite clear on where I was going. Not to mention, all this predated GPS and cell phones in everyone’s vehicles. But I made it to the hotel we were staying at, found my group of people and spend the next several days and nights with my classmates.

Every morning we had breakfast at Grubb’s Diner. It was one of the few places that was open in the storm and one of the few places we could all walk to without falling on our butts too often. By the third day, the waitresses knew what to bring most of our group when we walked in – coffees, milk, eggs over easy and I got the hot chocolate. This was pretty phenomenal hot chocolate – done just right with the amount of heavy whipping cream on top. When we had our last morning, I asked if I could buy one of the mugs to take with me. The waitress didn’t even blink before telling me $5 and she’d put it on my bill. I got a couple of funny looks from the guys, but I didn’t care.

What most people didn’t fully hear about was the huge fight I had with my mom before I left for the conference. Most didn’t know that she threatened (still don’t know if she did) to remove me from the car insurance if I left because she didn’t like the weather. Most don’t know that part of the fight was her not understanding why I wanted to go and why I was doing theater at all. I was one semester into the program, halfway through my junior year and finally working on things I understood. It wasn’t because of the boy I was dating (as we broke up less than a month later) or the thrill of disobeying. It was the fact that I wanted to be around people working in the art form that I found joy in making as well. And that’s why I have a mug.

Posted by: raesalley | April 9, 2015

The 100 Day Project – launch!

#100DaysofRA!

One of my dearest friends from my theater days posted the idea of doing a 100 day project. The post that started it all is over at The Great Discontent, and the idea is to go be creative. Just try it. For 100 days.

It being Gummi Bear’s fifth birthday (what? no way! I know!) and 100 days would put me just past Buddy Roo’s birthday (7/17)…I had a thought of trying this concept. So then the question is…what would I focus on?

And then I realized, that’s the problem.

BK (Before kids) I did theater. I made cards for friends & family. I made silly cross-stich things like the one hanging in my cube. Let’s not get started discussing the photo albums hiding in the closet, either.

Then kids happened. AK. I still occasionally do Christmas cards with breaking out the stamps. The closest I get now to feeling creative is working with Gummi Bear on one of her projects. And if you are a creative-type and you’ve ever worked with kids (and just happen to have a few control issues about how things should be done), you know that isn’t so much being creative as much as making sure the house doesn’t burn down or the kid has a melt down.

So I think I’m going to start small. Let’s see if I can post here for 100 days…it’ll be like an extended BlogHer thing but instead of just posting nonsense, I’ll post about what I’m trying to do. It might be finishing my crochet square that I started in Kentucky to learn how to do such things (it’s in a bag, a month later). Or you might hear about the awesome cake that will be made on Saturday to celebrate someone hitting her 5th trip around the sun. Or maybe, just maybe, the photos will be sorted into sensible things and I’ll have a new book on the shelf showing the day I swore to be with a guy forever, only nine years after it happened. At the same time, you might get something really crazy because there’s creativity in my work place as well…it just however might be the awesome spreadsheet…not nearly as sexy, but a girl’s gotta do such things from time to time.

Posted by: raesalley | March 31, 2015

Two Weeks goes too fast

Woodford ReserveMy husband, the Bald One, has a small love of bourbon. In my opinion, most of them could double as cough medicine. Many years ago (pre-kid) we took a trip to Kentucky and had a grand time visiting a few distilleries. Then, I told him to go back for his 40th. They had a blast while I played with our girl at home before she lost all “only kid” rights and they still decided that a few days and all the stamps weren’t enough. So we all decided to go back, this time bigger and more awesome.

LSF&MWhat this meant is we took about 18months to discuss and about six weeks to actually plan a trip for the two of us, our two kids and eight other adults to take over a house and do the state’s bourbon industry justice. Two people did the regular trail, two more did the craft train and the rest of us just went wherever we wanted to go. There was an epic amount of food, a whole bunch of fun and a couple of side trips. I think, all told, we averaged about two distilleries a day plus some crazy stops in between. It broke down like this:

M: Willet & Barton’s – where we discovered Bourbon Ball Cream (to appear later on ice cream & in coffee)

T: Four Roses & Wild Turkey – which has a beautiful visitor’s center that caused our architect in training to go have a fun side visit the next day

W: Woodford Reserve, then checking on some Lexington stops (Arcadium was a let down)

Th: Bulleit, lunch at Against the Grain (brewery)  & a ghost tour of Buffalo Trace after hitting Louisville stops

F: Town Branch/Alltech & Breweries in Lexington (Country Boy, West 6th)
We went home with enough bourbon to last a few years, or as the Bald One likes to think “until our next restock trip”.
haul photo 
After all that, we spent a day packing up and driving home because I stupidly booked myself insane Sunday. It started out simple enough: go to WizardCon and get to have a photo with David Tennant. I then proceeded to drop a bunch of money (for me) in stylized prints that I must have in my house and at work (once frames are acquired it will be awesome!) Get home, prep for class that starts on Monday and panic because I suddenly realized the Best Friend of Elanova was supposed to be in town…and we were going to have dinner! Panic! Clean all the things! Get food! socialize an almost-4yo with a 2.5 yo and her brother (21mon) and a baby! get caught up on all the things! And then, wind down small people because class starts at 8am sharp.

Class, by the way, was a week long prep for certification. I forgot how draining school can be. It sucks even more when it is 9.5 hours of class time plus about 2 hours of homework for three straight days followed by a four hour exam. There’s a PTSD-like part of my brain that would never like to talk about this again. There’s another part of it that things it was great because guess what? I passed! So now I have letters after my name. Yippy!

So what’s the point of this? I missed my March TBR challenge posting date. I hope to get up something for April and I’ll also explain the other reason I have nothing to say for March. (it was totally a DNF – sigh).

Posted by: raesalley | February 18, 2015

TBR Challenge 2015: February!

It’s time for the monthly update via TBR Challenge. If you want to participate, it isn’t too late for you to join in the fun…head over to Wendy the Super Librarian’s post and see what trouble you can get into with us. This month, we are trying for the Recommended Read (A book recommended to you by another reader/blogger etc). For me, Sarah Morgan fills this role and courtesy of Paperbackswap deciding to start charging people for things (sigh), I acquired A Night of No Return during my credit spend blitz. This recommendation actually comes via SuperWendy herself, but via blog — I’m not cool enough to have met her in person.

This book actually manages to lamp-shade itself. The heroine blatantly says (towards the end of the book) that she doesn’t want to fall in love with her boss because her mom did that and stayed there trying to win him over even after having a kid. The hero is the product of a woman having an affair with her rich boss. And here, the two repeat the mistakes, despite best intentions.

Being a Harlequin Presents, it goes pretty darn quick. A snowstorm makes roads impossible. A boss forgets important papers for gala event and meetings related. A dedicated personal assistant delivers them, delaying her personal life. Weather locks them in, they both try to get past it in the morning only to purposely avoid getting past it. Why? reasons.

There are things that happen in this novel that are not items I prefer in my romance. The boss is a bit of a alphahole at points. He decides that his PA is going to travel with him now and delay the start of her vacation principally because he no longer has a date and he wants to force proximity with her (just to torture them both?). When she brings up legitimate reasons why not to go with him, he just brushes them all away. When she has legitimate concerns over wardrobe, travel arrangements and inconveniencing others he brushes them away with money and bluster. When she tries, repeatedly, to resign based on their experience together he refuses to accept – despite knowing he could quite easily help her find a new position and remove all awkwardness. Then, she conspires to fix him. Granted, it is hand-waved that it really is his buddy’s idea and she just needs to stay out of the way. And then, once she sees that he is on his way to be fixed, she finally is allowed to resign, to resume her life and go home to her shrewish sister and her beloved baby brother.

Being HP, I can buy in to the fluffy quick fix…but it would be nice to see these characters a few years down. And I would have loved to see more meat to her relationship with her sister. This tells me I am not really the key market for HP, since I want more book than is present here. Overall, a nice read for a ice & snowbound day.

Posted by: raesalley | January 28, 2015

TBR Challenge 2015: January reads

Here’s my much-belated first entry into the 2015 TBR Challenge. The official theme for the month is  We Love Short Shorts! (category romance, novellas, short stories) but instead I knocked out the books I had via Kindle Unlimited before my subscription ended. There were two that needed to be finished: Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom (1/10/2015) and Reluctantly Lycan (1/18/2015). This resulted in a 50/50 split in how I felt for the month.

Starting with the “meh” book of the month: Reluctantly Lycan. Meh is about as strong as I can muster for this novel. We start off with an excellent image of a single mother on a fire escape sneaking her cigarette and wine to keep the inner wolf at bay as the full moon rises. If you’re familiar with PNR, you’ve probably seen some variation of this before as the lycan tries to pass for human and has to drown under vices the inner animal that wants to break free. We continue to build tension as we see said single mother scraping a living together for herself and her almost-teenage son. There’s the diner where she works very hard. There’s the son who is working hard in school to get ahead in the world. There’s the customer at the diner who looks forward to seeing her every day. Then, the customer becomes a pushy bastid and insists on a date. Things go well, and then out of nowhere the baby-daddy shows up. Who happens to be her destined mate and generally peeved that there’s another guy honing in on his territory. Growling ensues, a bit of quick make-up sex and suddenly all is right with the world because baby-daddy leaves behind some money and tells her to come home whenever she wants. We then have teenage girl behavior of our reluctant lycan mom wanting her guy back, but still mad about an incident years ago that she never has confronted him on the details. We also then have a drastic character shift in darn near everyone: Mom becomes okay with going back home, Son is suddenly accepting of having a wolf as a parent, Dad wants them home even though all heck is breaking loose and he wants them safe, Skeevy Customer gets even more stalker-ish by following everyone back (and trying to pick up an almost-18yo girl). From there, everything rolls downhill quickly. Mom & Dad make up, Son totally accepts being in this new culture and blowing off school he’s been working hard at because vinyl records solve all problems, Skeevy Customer turns out to be a good guy with just very questionable methods on dating. And the mystery aspect of it all? Such a letdown on everything. It was an entertaining little side trip, but really didn’t do anything for me.

The other book, Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom, actually gave me happy moments. Witty dialogue! Nobility in seemingly sketchy characters! A hidden baby (that is not actually anyone’s immediate responsibility!) A mother found! and yet…I feel like I was missing something. Part of the problem is that this is a book #2 in a series, which means that some of the characters and their motivations are things that I had to dust off from reading the first novel back in April and some of the remaining issues won’t be resolved until the fourth book. While I enjoyed the book to pass the time of a fun, lovely historical it didn’t really make me want to sigh in good book noise.

So of the two books we have one that falls into the “meh” bad side and one that fell into the “eh” good side. Luckily I had Courtney Milan’s Trade Me to cheer me up.

Posted by: raesalley | January 14, 2015

2015 TBR Challenge

I recently opened my Kindle only to discover I had 46 pages of titles in my reader. The predominant listing, however, is that I keep sending samples to myself to look at the different books and then either add to my TBR pile or I just feel guilt free about investing only 15 minutes of my time to decide I didn’t like the author’s voice or the characters after all (despite whatever review made me think I might).

This was kind of a little scary. Then I went to my Amazon WishList that’s my hidden TBR and was even more shocked…there’s 86 books there. And this is after I nuked everything a few years back to my Shelfari list of TBRs. When I moved that to GoodReads, it didn’t import correctly. So I’m seriously giving thought to nuking that as well for anything prior to January of 2014 and starting over slowly. It’s a scary thought process, but do I really want to see what’s on my TBR from three years ago?

To help chip away at the chaos, I bit the bullet and decided to start reading a single sample a day to get rid of the backlog. To help put a dent in the TBR pile, I’ve decided to try Wendy the Super Librarian’s TBR Challenge. Added bonus? at least once a month I’ll remember to blog! Go me!

Posted by: raesalley | November 12, 2014

D12: Split personality

In my morning surfing, I came across this post from a theater colleague and good friend. Her daughter is a few years older than mine, and one of my earliest memories of working with her was not the production we were on together but the juggling done by her to arrange cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday during opening weekend where she was both prop mistress and house manager. I got to go celebrate the then two year old with the family and other close friends. In that simple act, my friend highlighted it is possible – hard, but possible – to be a good parent and a good theater artist. It all depends on the concessions you’re willing to make.

I miss theater. I miss working on a show, getting the timing just right, heck – even line notes. I don’t miss coming home after bathtime, handoffs in the parking lot as the Bald One goes to work or not hearing about that day’s adventures over dinner. I tell (lie?) to myself about the fact that I’ll be back. After Gummi Bear was born, it was slightly easier. For the first year or so of her life, the Bald One was full time dad and job searcher. After he went back to work, we started juggling. I didn’t do as many full productions and there were nights where Gummi Bear was handed off in her pajamas in a parking lot. Once Buddy Roo came into the picture, combined with my changing role at the day job, things got more difficult to carve time for theater work. It doesn’t help that my chosen path in the theater is one that requires more hands-on scheduled time* than any of the other disciplines.

All that being said…I’m happy making trade offs. I tell myself that the project management I do in my day job is close enough to the work I was doing in the theater that I feel like I’m getting what I want on a daily basis. I get to travel, I get paid decently, I get to work with a variety of people in numerous disciplines to produce products and just like in theater when things go well nobody knows what I do. I get to have dinner with my family. I put my kids to bed. I bought a new car this year. But there are days, where I sit in yet another meeting filled with marketing speak and big ideas without action that I wonder if I would have been happier fighting my way through salad days to sit in the back of a room and press buttons hoping everything goes right so that nobody knows I’m even there.

Read More…

Posted by: raesalley | November 5, 2014

D5: Eat, drink & be Merry

For tomorrow, we have meetings.

One of the nice things about traveling to new places is getting to discover new foods. After discovering the hole-in-the-wall via recommendation, I’m pleased to report that the pre-selected restaurants have also been fabulous. For our whole team dinner, we went to Antoines to enjoy a bit of culture and baked Alaska

This evening were the regional team dinners. The first manager to ask me had his team at Olivier’s Creole Restaurant. We had the entire upstairs to ourselves, which was probably a good thing given the range of topics covered throughout our dining experience

I’ve also been out to experience Pat O’Brien’s famous hurricanes and dueling piano bar and tonight called for Gordon Biersch’s root beer. And while I was only drinking root beer, I’m the one who managed to turn around into our waitress and breaking a full glass on the floor. I rock.

One more day, then one more night and then home.

Posted by: raesalley | November 4, 2014

D4: Tech Support

It’s our first official day for the national meeting…and I’m spending the day doing tech support until I present in the afternoon.

I’m the tool manager for a certain software package. Said software package is a pain in the butt at times. There was a software upgrade that was released that I told folks what to do with it. Then, just to be on the safe side, I sent an email out three weeks ago asking people to double check that they had done the update and if not here’s the three steps to do.

First three systems I booted up did not have the updated software. My fault, I didn’t remind them *smh* Overall result for the day, 64% managed to have the software already installed. Wonder if I’ll have better odds tomorrow.

My presentation went well, I think. My boss approved it anyway and that’s what matters. I have follow up items and will have email to distribute, but another thing on the list crossed off that generates more things on the list.

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