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If At First You Don’t Succeed

8 Jun

Morning, readers! Today is all updates leading up to a couple more posts this week so hang with me while I talk about doubt and trying again…and again…and sometimes again.

First, last week this blog broke 1,000 views! Hooray! It’s not a tremendous amount of readership but it’s a personal best. I can’t think of anything else I’ve written having that many reads so pause with me while I soak in that, admittedly unimpressive, accomplishment.

Kay! So this week has been a bit busier than usual– you know, by my unemployed-home-for-seventy-five-percent-of-the-day standards. Hubs and I visited my family this weekend where I got to break from Southern Pines-world and meet with an old friend from my hometown. At times it’s jarring to me that I don’t share the same closeness with some of my friends as before married life. Not that I would say we’ve drifted apart, but that it’s hard for me to describe what I do in my new life. If I say I went for tea, I describe the cafe because we no longer share the same coffee shops. If I say I’ve been meeting new friends at church, I feel the need to talk about the place and our choices and what those people are like because we don’t run in the same circles. It’s not a bad thing and sometimes it makes a friendship more interesting. You get to be completely surprised when you share a similar experience in totally separate ways.

But then there are people that I’ve truly lost touch with and suddenly wish that I hadn’t. I remember past moments when I told myself I wanted to be friends with him/her forever and I feel a pang of loss that I have to stop and mourn. Some of those losses are okay or even good and some make me feel like I’ve really messed up and my life will be less full because of it.

Anyway, then we came home and I spent most of Monday doing a deep clean that I’ve slipped into doing twice a week. Usually on Mondays and Fridays, I turn everything upside-down so I won’t have to take any of the quality time from our weekend to clean. That night I picked up some steaks to grill and we had a tiny date night while we finished watching some movies I rented on Sunday. Then at 9:50 we raced to the Blockbuster drop-off to avoid a late fee and slipped them in with two minutes to spare. Fun!

But the real news is that I’m officially trying my hand at growing vegetables again. It’s a little late for the ones we planted outside but since we have a handy-dandy sunroom, we decided it was still a good time to plant tomatoes in pots. My parents graciously donated the materials so we have some completely free food growing in our laundry room.

See?

Those are the cherry tomatoes. Aren’t they cute? We also have Roma tomatoes and a couple other, bigger species. I’ll probably have to stake the smaller ones and the bigger ones are already in cages but will need to be staked soon too.

And while I was shopping for potting mix, I decided to shop for ingredients for homemade dog treats. I snatched a simple recipe from the net that only needed oatmeal, whole wheat flour, water, vegetable oil, fresh mint and parsley, and garlic. No one had fresh parsley but I finally found the mint in Fresh Market and everything else was readily available. Got some cute cookie cutters from Wal-mart and a rolling pin.

What I forgot about this recipe is that it would be more like making bread than mixing brownies so I would say I was…pleasantly annoyed when I remembered that I would have to knead and roll the dough. Looking around, I decided that the dining table was the only suitable surface in the house so I cleared and washed it and then dragged out the memories of mom and grandma making breads and desserts to learn how to knead. At the end of the day, I had twenty treats and some dough left over which I froze. (I think you can do that.) They feel and break a lot like a sugar cookie–kinda hard but soft in the middle.

Presh?

The parsley and mint in this recipe help with breath and also upset tummies while the garlic aids in flea prevention. Pretty nifty right? Since the materials were really cheap and will last for a few batches, a bag of twenty cookies only winds up costing me around $2-3 a batch. I give the dogs one after each meal so this bunch will only last around 5 days. I’ll probably make a few batches this week while the mint is still fresh and freeze the rest.

Flowers for my girl and stars for my boy. See the mint and parsley?

Oh, yeah. And the dogs love them!

Dead Vegetables and More

26 May

I have been super lazy, haven’t I? For a little over a week now, I’ve taken a break from blogging to enjoy what I call a mental vacation. After a few months of semi-continuous posting, I was running out things I felt were worth of writing about and to be honest, I’m still in a bit of an inspiration slump. It doesn’t help that I have a bit of an emotional depression to match but today I’m peeling myself off the couch to start up again.

So to start with: dead vegetables.

Pitiful.

Let’s take a moment of silence in honor of the little plants that just couldn’t.

And now I will go on to say that I have no idea why they died. I suspect that hubs didn’t water them while I was away one weekend but otherwise, I don’t have any leads. They were looking promising for about one week and then this. Oh well!

Sometimes bad things happen and you have no idea what you did. I think often there’s no reason at all but I trust that their little plant souls are in soil heaven. We’ll try again next year.

Some happier news? I finished the rough draft of a memoir piece I’ve wanted to write for about a year and it’s now going through the peer review period where I take advice from some other writers about what things need to be tweaked. Some people hate critique but I love it.

My first semester studying creative writing was very hard on me. I couldn’t settle on what story to write, I wasn’t even sure if I had what it takes to interest someone in my writing. Every time I would start something, I’d inevitably go back and delete the entire thing, starting something else. Confidence as a writer can be a hard thing to stumble across. Of all art forms, I would say that writing enjoys the smallest audience so when you get commentary, you have to take it very seriously–both praise and criticism–because the reviewer could make up a significant portion of your readership. My biggest rookie mistake was being too attached to a story going into a workshop. I adored my first short story and when I went into class to discuss it with my peers, I thought it was my best work yet. The reactions from other writers in the room didn’t say the same and it took me awhile to really recover. In that class, we were asked to take the critiques we received and revise the story for our final grade. When I got alone with my story again, though, it was hard for me to see why I should continue with it. Other people’s opinions had completely changed my perspective on my work and instead of taking it with a grain of salt, I was just crushed.

Lots of other artists probably have a similar story, at least the ones who made it past the original mourning stage because some people quit right there. What usually happens after the crying and moping is a hardening process. You learn to love your story all through its creation and then separate yourself emotionally from the work before others see it. You create a balance in your mind between being self-critical and confident. You start to tell yourself that all great things start as small and unworthy and then you let it be molded and shaped by the firm hand of critique. When it’s refined and ready, you send it out again to be judged by the world and expect that plenty of people won’t understand it. Then, every once in a while, you get to see your work find a home and fans who love it. My instructors often compared the feeling to parenthood and I can see it.

Not everything that I start or even finish will turn out to be wonderful and praiseworthy. Some things will dry up for seemingly no reason at all. Still, I come back and try again because I know the next thing will be better because of my failure.

More tomorrow. 🙂

Pretty, Pretty Veggies

5 May

I’ve actually had a pretty productive week that is somehow boring to describe. Here’s what’s gone down in exciting bullet form!

  • I made good on my goal of spending more time in church/Christian activity by  having devotional time on Monday, going to church on Wednesday, and attending a day of prayer in the park today.
  • Finally watched The Green Hornet.
  • Started a book club today.
  • Bumped up my time committed to reading and writing.
  • Watched two fascinating documentaries on art/architecture.

And that’s pretty much how I define fun. Haha…okay, I’m a nerd.

Oh! But I finally planted my vegetables too! I know you’ve been dying to see them so here they are:

I planted a row of little green bellpepper plants along the front of the bed. Aren’t they cute?

And this is my red bellpepper plant planted on the side. In the back you can see another row of zucchini and cucumbers.

The zucchini need to climb as they grow so planting them by the fence was perfect. I can just tie them to the posts…and hopefully the ivy doesn’t mind neighbors.

This was all planted outside our fence becaauuusee

Marco is a flower bed monster who smells and occasionally eats things that look good to him. Including sticks and pebbles. Goomba.

There’s still a pretty good amount of space in the middle of the bed for summer veggies, too, and I’m really hoping to start some tomato plants. Last week, I didn’t pay attention to the price of tomatoes in Harris Teeter and only noticed at the register that 3 were costing me $10! Insane!