2015 Ornament

When I was a kid my parents always added an ornament to our Christmas tree for each year. Sometimes it was a home made ornament, sometimes it was from a trip, or sometimes it was for an event like the Red Sox winning the World Series for the first time in forever. I assume they still do it, but I’m not there to put up the tree anymore so I don’t know.

I liked that idea, so I started doing it myself when I got married. For the most part aside from the very first one which is a first Christmas together ornament, all the rest are ornaments from trips. I find that ornaments are great souvenirs as well since I’ll actually get use out of them again and every year when I put the tree up I get to remember all the fun places I’ve been.

This past year it seems like we didn’t travel as much at least not to places outside of our normal goings like to Arizona, New York, and Rhode Island to visit family. We did go to California together, but because that was a trip to visit my husband’s parents and me going to a conference in San Francisco where we also stayed with friends it really didn’t cross my mind to pick up an ornament while we were there.

The one trip we did go on was to South Carolina. We took a beach trip to Isle of Palms, which is outside of Charleston. I did pick up an ornament at a Christmas shop in Charleston. If possible I try to get something hand made locally and not just something made in China. I found this little grass ornament made there, but it’s obviously not something that either had the year already on it or something I could add the year too. Good luck in ten years remembering that was my 2015 ornament without the year written on it.

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While we were in Isle of Palms I managed to collect a ton of sand dollars. I found more sand dollars on that trip than I have in the rest of 37 years on this planet. I decided in order to have an ornament with the year on it I could make one of them into a Christmas ornament. Our trip was in May, but I finally just finished making it last night.

Most if it was procrastination. Obviously I had many months to work on this before December hit, but I didn’t and then there were a lot of steps that involved doing a little bit of something and then not being able to proceed until the next day so it took about a week.

First I had to bleach it. I never did get it as white as I wanted, but I also didn’t want it to disintegrate into dust, which I heard can happen if it is bleached too long. Then I had to wait for it to dry. Then I used a glue water mixture to harden it. That took two days because I had to do one side each day and let it dry in between. Ditto for the glitter glue I painted it with. Then finally I was able to put the writing on it. Then I waited a day and glued a hook on the back. Then finally this morning I tied the ribbon on it and hung it on the tree. None of the steps took that long themselves, there was just a lot of waiting involved. Now it can hang on my tree for the three days before I take it down.

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This is My Jam

No literally this is my jam. My local Giant briefly carried it, and I fell in love with it. I’ve tried many other brands of cherry jam and none of them compare. Of course like everything that is my favorite the Giant stopped carrying it years ago to never have it return. I’ve determined that people in my neighborhood and I must not share the same taste in food because this happens all the time.

At least in this case unlike with some other products this jam still exists in the world. I just have to work a little harder to get it. There’s a Harris Teeter not too far away from where I go to church in Federal Hill that carries it so when I’m running low I’ll swing over there and buy up whatever they have in stock.

This worked well until a couple of weeks ago when I went over there to stock up on jam and they didn’t have it anymore either. Sigh. They must have just recently stopped carrying it because the Smucker’s website still lists it as a location where you can purchase the jam.

The two other closest places to buy the jam are the Harris Teeter or Target (of course the Mondawmin Target which is the closest to my house doesn’t carry it either)  in Canton Crossing. I had to go to Target and Michaels today and since both of those reside in Canton Crossing I decided to make the trek through the city over there so I could hit them both in one location. As a bonus I realized I would also be able to stock up on jam while I was there.

I bought the 4 jars that Target had in stock. If I had been smarter I probably should have hopped into the Harris Teeter and bought up their stock too, but I didn’t. This will have to do me for awhile.

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Snow Day Redux

You will recall my recent post on the weekend snow day that I got. I had pretty much given up on getting a snow day that got me off of work at this late date in the season. It’s not unheard of to get snow this late in Baltimore, but a snow storm in March big enough for work to close is rare. I was happy to get a day off of work where I didn’t have to think about going anywhere or doing anything. I actually have a staycation planned for next week to use up some vacation time and the week is already pretty full (including actually going to work for a meeting, boo!), so a day where I’m obligated to just stay home is always welcome.

It was also a great day for neighborliness. Before we got a chance to get out and shovel our sidewalk this morning our neighbor 2 doors up did it in conjunction with the neighbor between us and the two rental houses she owns on the other side of us. I returned the favor a couple of hours later. Then our next door neighbor shoveled. My husband got the next round. Then we never had to shovel the walk again. The next two times I was literally all suited up to go out and shovel the 2 neighbors were each outside shoveling our sidewalk when I opened the door to go out. Although we’re friendly enough to say hi if we see them and know their names, we’re not friends with our neighbors so it was a nice little moment.

Now that I’ve had my snow day I’m definitely ready for spring to get here fast. The record low temperature of 8 degrees does not make me hopeful that winter is on its way out though.

Simple Pleasures

I don’t have anything big to write about at the moment, but the stress of the new fall semester demands that I focus on some happy things going on in my life. Thus I decided to do one of my periodic roundups of little things going on that are making me happy.

1. God bless the person who made cat medicine that is chewable and tasty enough that my cat thinks she’s getting treats every time we give it to her. It makes giving pills so much easier at least on most days. The days she completely refuses to eat make that a challenge, but given that one of the three pills she’s taking right now we actually have to shove down her throat I’m super glad we don’t have to do it three times. She’s already become a master of making me think she’s swallowed the pill and then walking away and spitting it out.

2. Speaking of the sick cat, the steroids and new appetite stimulants are so far working really well. She’s eating a ton and has much more energy. I’m still guessing we’re just extending her life for a little while and not curing her of anything at this point, but I’ll be happy to have her around for awhile longer as long as her quality of life seems good.

3. For the first time since I moved into a professional librarian position after getting my Masters in Library Science I am no longer regularly working a night shift. For the past 8 years I’ve worked on our reference desk at least one night per week, usually Thursday night. Due to some staffing changes and adjustments to the way we’re staffing the reference desk I am being shifted to day time hours and will no longer regularly being working at night. I’m sure I’ll be called in to work every once in awhile when people are on vacation or something, but for the most part I’m done. It will be really nice to be able to do things on Thursday nights again without having to worry about whether it’s worth it to try and take off work that night or switch shifts with someone if the monthly schedule is already out. I’ve already seen a concert I want to go to that’s on a Thursday in October that I was excited to realize that I could just go to without thinking twice about it.

4. You’ll hear more about these in depth when they happen, but I’m also excitedly anticipating some upcoming trips. In a couple of weeks we’ll be traveling to Pittsburgh for our friend Darra’s wedding. I’ve also made plans to meet up with a Twitter friend in person while we’re there. I always enjoy getting to meet online friends in real life. Then in October I have plans to go up to NYC for a weekend. Another Twitter friend, who I have already met in person responded to one of my tweets about having so many Broadway shows I want to see by saying I should come to New York the weekend she’s going to be there for New York Comic Con and we could go to a show. It worked out with my schedule so I’m going up. It will be fun to catch up with her again in person as well as see Aladdin. If Bolt Bus ever puts tickets on sale for that weekend I’ll figure out exactly when I’m going up on Saturday and returning on Sunday to figure out what else I might get up to while I’m in town.

Saving Myself from Myself

Yesterday I almost had a horrible professional moment. A professor had asked me to come to her class to help out her students with an in-class project. It’s something I have helped this professor out with several times before. One of the schools I work for has two satellite graduate campuses, one north of Baltimore and the other south of Baltimore. Every other semester I have worked with this class it has been held at the northern campus, so I just spaced when the professor said in her email that it was at the southern campus. I think I just registered satellite campus, and it’s that class and zoomed right on along in the email assuming it was where I had always gone before.

Thankfully God was looking out for me and gave me a little tap on the shoulder to double check that right before I left the library to drive to the class yesterday. I was totally sitting at my desk whiling away the last few minutes before I planned to leave, and thought to myself I should check the room location in our registration system since the professor wasn’t positive what it was when she emailed me. That way I’ll know for sure when I get there and won’t have to search it out. Cue moment of panic when I look up the class and it tells me that it’s at the other campus. I then double check the email the professor sent me and sure enough she clearly said the southern campus not the northern one. Since to be there by 12:15 when she asked I should have left at least 15 minutes ago at that point I raced out the door and got myself down to where I was actually supposed to be. I was a few minutes late, but so were they as the students were still rolling back in from their lunch break when I arrived. Phew!

I am so, so glad something prompted me to look up the class location. If I hadn’t I totally would have gone to the wrong place and missed the class since the two campuses are over an hour apart. That would have been bad and super unprofessional of me. In the future I will definitely triple check classroom locations when I’m asked to leave the library and work with a class wherever they are meeting.

An Unexpected Good Day

Yesterday I had to work for 12 hours, and I admit I was very whiny about it going in. I know some of you have jobs where working that many hours is par for the course. I am happy I don’t have your jobs. I usually put in my 8 hours and am out. I like it that way. Anyway as per my normal Thursday night schedule on the reference desk I had to work until 9:30 last night, but that usually means that I don’t come in to work until 1:30. However, a committee I’m on scheduled a meeting from 10-1 yesterday morning pretty last minute so there was no way for me to get out of my Thursday night shift. I was really not looking forward to the day and was annoyed by the whole thing. However, the day turned out better than I ever could have expected and didn’t feel that long at all. I’ve certainly had much shorter work days that felt like they dragged on way longer than this one.

My morning meeting went very well. I think we got a lot of accomplished and I’m happy with what we came up with. I also got a nice surprise at that meeting when they provided us lunch. No one said anything about us having lunch, so that was a very pleasant surprise that meant I didn’t have to scrounge for lunch somewhere on my drive between the meeting and my library. When I got to the library I was also really happy that there was an actual parking spot for me to park in. I was worried because we suspend our pay parking during finals, which means students immediately start parking in every legal and semi-legal spot. Thus when I don’t come in to work until the afternoon on the day I work the evening shift during finals week it is often extremely difficult to find a space to park. It sort of stresses me out every semester, but yesterday was no problem shockingly.

I also got to turn in a big report that I’ve been working on with an internal library committee, so it was nice to get that off my plate at least for the time being. And I got asked if I would accept a 3 year appointment to a committee for the Association of College and Research Libraries, so that was nice little ego boost as well and something I’m happy to do. During finals it’s usually not that busy on the reference desk. There may be lots of students in the library, but generally they are studying or working on papers they’ve already done the research for. People must be slacking this semester because last night was by far the busiest night I’ve ever had on the reference desk during finals. I had lots of research questions, so it helped the time pass quickly at the end of the day and made me feel like there was a point to being there.

And really given my previous comments this is going to make it sound like I obsess over parking a lot, which I really don’t but I was happy to get home last night and get a spot on the street right in front of my house. Usually when I come home at 9:45 on Thursday nights I have to park a couple blocks away from my house. It’s not a big deal, but I won’t lie that I always love the rare occasions when I can snag a spot right by my house.

And now today I got to leave work at noon since I worked long yesterday. It’s a gorgeous day out and it’s Friday, so all in all yesterday was a great day that lead to a happy day today.

Simple Pleasures

The recent weather from this winter that won’t go away has been making me extra grumpy lately. That coupled with lots to do both at work and at home hasn’t left me much time or will to sit down and write anything here. I haven’t written about music here nearly as much as I once used to, and there are lots of songs/artists that I have thought about writing about but haven’t yet. Thus I’m declaring next week music week here on this blog. The two people who bother to read my music posts, my mother and my friend Erin, can enjoy it. The rest of you can take a break for a week.

To tide you over until then here are a few simple pleasures in my life at the moment.

1. It’s the first day of spring and for a change it’s not freezing cold out. The forecast calls for a return to the cold next week, but I will enjoy the next few days and the fact that winter is now officially over at least in words if not deeds.

2. Related to number 1 I was listening to WXPN and they are playing songs in celebration of spring and the first song they spun up was Amos Lee’s “Windows are Rolled Down”. This is why this radio station is my favorite because we are so sympatico. That is totally my springtime song.

3. It’s the first day of NCAA basketball tournament. Wake Forest of course isn’t in it because they are still stuck in their downward spiral, but I still enjoy the tournament and playing in the pool I’ve been involved in for many years. Hopefully this year I will do better than last year when I was pretty much out of contention on the first weekend.

4. It was raining yesterday which gave me a chance to enjoy the new wind shield wipers my husband put on my car for me. Talk about your simple pleasures there.

5. The fact that I have now programmed my friends and family to post adorable polar bear things for me to Facebook and Twitter. It means that adorable things show up for me, and I don’t even have to seek them out.

6. Finally settling on a vacation for May. I’ve been bugging my husband for months about planning something. Now that I’ve finished my quest to go to all 50 states it’s much harder to figure out what to do. Before it was pretty easy in that I just picked a state(s) I hadn’t been to before. Now the whole wide world is open to me. It would be nice to go abroad again, but since I couldn’t get my husband to commit to anything or even offer a single opinion (he’s so annoying sometimes) I just let time tick away and then it felt too close to plan a big overseas trip. So with zero input from husband I decided on Key West. I have no idea if he has any interest in going there. Beach vacations aren’t necessarily his first choice, but he was smart enough at this point to not say anything about it if he doesn’t want to go there. Now I have a nice, hopefully sunny beach vacation to look forward to. I can’t wait.

Simple Pleasures

I haven’t had a whole lot going on recently or I guess anything that has inspired me to write an entire blog post about it, but I don’t like my little blog to be neglected for too long. So here a few simple pleasures from my life recently.

1. We have now reached the point of the year that there is still the faintest sliver of light left in the sky when I leave the gym after work. It’s not truly light yet, it gives me hope. Daylight savings time starts in a few weeks. I know a lot of people including my husband hate it, but I say bring it.

2. The beautiful weather from this past weekend of course must be acknowledged. It’s been such a miserable winter that the springlike weather over the weekend was a wonderful reprieve. Not to mention the fact that it helped melt all but the biggest snow piles leftover from the snowstorm the week before.

3. Despite the fact that it was snowing most of the day it somehow really didn’t stick. At this point if it has to snow that is the kind of snow I can get behind.

4. We wound up ordering Chinese food for dinner tonight. It’s been a long time since I’ve had General Tso’s chicken. Not that any Chinese food is really healthy, but in my mind General Tso’s has to be one of the least healthy dishes for you so don’t get it very often anymore. I decided to splurge tonight. I’m sure the one tiny piece of broccoli that I hate totally balanced out all that fried chicken covered in sugary sauce.

5. I didn’t start watching it in the fall when it premiered so it didn’t make my fall TV diary, but I’m really enjoying The Fosters on ABC Family a lot. Some of the things I heard about it after it started made me think it was a show I would enjoy. The first half of the season was actually posted on Netflix prior to the second half of the season premiering, so I caught up with it over my Christmas break. I did in fact enjoy it and have been watching it when it’s on ever since then. Take note other television outlets. This is the way to do it. See how I started watching episodes of show when they air like you want me to because ABC Family let me catch up. Amazing that.

6. Friends that take care of each other. One of my friends is apparently down and out with food poisoning today, so all day long my email inbox was getting filled with amusing videos a group of people were sending around to cheer him up while he was feeling ill.

Wind Map

I am insanely fascinated by this online Wind Map of the country. I can’t remember when I first became aware of it. Probably around the time of Hurricane Sandy because that is the first time I can remember looking at it and watching how such a powerful storm just seemed to draw all the wind from the entire country into it. It’s not something I look at every day or anything, but definitely when there’s any big weather systems going on anywhere I like to pull it up and see what’s going on. It’s really cool to watch major storm systems move and to see the vortex where all the wind is spinning around when something like that happens. It’s not quite as interesting on days when nothing major is going on. Then it looks kind of haphazard across the country. Obviously today with this nor’easter going up the coast it’s a good day to look at it.

It’s interesting as well that it was done as a sort of art project. It’s not any kind of official weather site. Someone is just using data to create a graphical representation of the wind. I kind of like that the idea behind is something more than here’s the weather. Check it out if you  haven’t and take another peek even if you have.

New Driver’ Side Mirror

Sometimes there are things in life you just take for granted and never really think about so you don’t have feelings about them one way or the other. I would say for most people the driver’s side mirror on your car would fall in that category. Today though I am very happy to have a functioning mirror back on my car.

On New Year’s Day I got woken up at 5:30 in the morning by a crashing noise, which I now suspect was someone driving home still drunk and hitting the mirror on the side of my car. They of course didn’t leave a note. The housing for the mirror was cracked though it wasn’t super noticeable. I probably would have just lived with it like that but the actual mirror no longer worked for me. I mean I don’t go out of my way keep my car super pristine. It’s a fool’s errand living in a city and parking on the street. I drove my last car for years with a dent in the front bumper where I hit something, and with dents in the side of it where a deer literally ran into the side of my car while I was driving on I-95. I would have driven my car around with a broken mirror housing for the next 10 years if the mirror was still functional.

Although the mirror itself wasn’t actually broken, something damaged the motor or whatever it is that allows the mirror to be repositioned. The mirror got stuck in a position that didn’t actually allow me to use it for its intended purpose. Trust me trying to parallel park, which I do every day, is not something you can easily do without a driver’s side mirror. I am super excited to finally be able to park while using my mirror again.

This was a $250 lesson in actually using the functionality of my mirror folding in so that no one hits and breaks it.