Tuesday, January 27, 2015

the difference a zero makes

Oh zero, you rapscallion, you changer of value, you metaphysical quandary.
You are so tiny, yet so mighty.
Years ago, Rob read a book to me about the history of zero, which is complicated and fascinating.
I was reminded of the complex power of that tiny circle this morning when i was updating my 101 progress. 
Goal #94 said Earn 200 gold stars.
Hmm-mm... thought I. That seems awfully easy; wasn't that supposed to be 2000 gold stars?
Yes, yes it was.
I am not sure how that transcription error happened, but i think it is hilarious that it took me almost a month to catch it.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

up to something? what makes you think i am up to something?

credit: llama sanctutary
Just a hard-working llama, working hard on llama things.
Not working on any crazy projects or cockamamie schemes.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

driving into the past

We can all agree, i would think, that falling gas prices bring smiles to our collective faces.
Before leaving for Ohio on Christmas Eve i filled up at my local station and was pleased as punch to pay $2.64; i mean, it is not only below $3, but almost half-way to $2.
Prices were consistent through Maryland and West Virginia with a small increase (5-10 cents) in Pennsylvania, which is normal.
Then i crossed the Ohio River and gas was suddenly $2.09.
When was the last time that was the price of gas - 2002?
How in the world did the price drop 60 cents in 60 miles?
Then i got into central Ohio and my mom's local station was $1.98.
What...? How...? Where...?
Isn't that what i paid in the early 90's?
The gas prices between home and mom's are normally within 20 cents of each other.
Is there some sort of time vortex in Ohio?
So all week i tried to drive  down my tank as low as possible to fill up the maximum amount at this below $2 price.
My sister Kris and I were out shopping and she told me that the lowest price was on Rt 13 in Utica, which conveniently enough i pass on the way to the highway.
Which is how in the first week of January 2015 i paid the same amount for gas as i did in 1995.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

i found it!

My missing pink camera card reader has been located.
The culprit was not evil gnomes as suspected or even the increasingly bold mouse that tap dances in my kitchen nightly.
No, indeed.
It was a beloved companion whom i never even suspected: Squeaky Monkey.
I don't know why it was hidden, tucked away at the back of the passenger seat of my car under Squeaky Monkey's feet and he was mum on the subject.
Let's do a quick run down of last month now that we have photos, shall we?

Erin and I (along with baby Caleb) attended the Festival of the Wreaths at the Carroll County Arts Council, which is in a cool converted Art Deco theater. There were over 150 wreaths decorated in every style and theme. Erin had created a fun one out of craft supplies with her friend Amy of One Artsy Mama dot com. In fact, Erin is now working with Amy on the blog.
And now a gratuitous adorable baby shot.

I like to really get utility from things.
It is important to me to not be wasteful.

But mayhaps it is time to get a new laundry basket.

There was one of those you-can-steal-a-present gift exchanges at a Christmas party that i  attended and a designed a ReWearables necklace as my offering. Good news: it turned out well and several people liked it. Bad news: there was almost a fist fight when one woman took it away from another. I was rather conflicted: great for my ego, bad for the Christmas Spirit.
At the same exchange i came away with a cement hedgehog.

The drive to Ohio on Christmas Eve was again fraught with questionable weather. Why can't it ever just be cold, but sunny?
The fog in the mountains was awesome and i mean it in the definition of inspiring an overwhelming feeling of fear.
Here is the visibility in the valleys, on the ascents/descents and on the mountain tops.

I got the best ho socks ever for Christmas,

and an Elf on the Shelf.

But not some ordinary Elf on the Shelf.

Oh, no.

Mine is full of candy, has a fan and LIGHTS UP.
I also have an interesting story about driving back in time, but that will have to wait because i need to go pick up the shawarma.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

101 update

I am back from the holidays in the Mid-West and saw in the comments that my brilliant assistant (and by assistant i mean me) forgot to put the category codes on the master 101 page.
It really is hard to find good help these days.
My goals break down into 9 categories: work (W), home (H), creative (C), fun (F), relationships (R), self (S), culture/learning (L), blog (B), service (P), and food/eating (E).
Anyhoo, the page has been updated to include a listing of all 101 goals by category.
Again, you can find that page at the top of the homepage or simply click here.

Also, in response to Diane: yes, i have a TON of sea glass and sea pottery that i have collected over the years that is taking up almost 2 whole shelves in the studio. I need to reclaim some of that real estate. Why? Would you like some?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome 2015 - i have some goals for you

It is a well known fact that i love, love, love New Year's resolutions.
I haven't made any for the last couple of years as i haven't felt much like myself so now to make up for time lost i am setting making resolutions and  goals with a vengeance.
101 goals, in fact.
Rea finished her first 101 Goals in 1001 Days in November and decided to start another one today.
And i am gonna play along with her.
The idea is to set goals that are doable, but make you stretch or grow in some way: quantifiable goals that span different facets of your life.
My categories are home, work, fun, blog, creative, charity/service, relationships, culture/learning, food/eating, and self.
You have 1001 days to accomplish everything, which is 2.75 years, 33 months or 143 weeks.
It will run January 1, 2015 to September 27, 2017.
To keep myself honest and have some accountability, I (and by i, i mean Rea) created a second page on The Nikiverse for my 101.
You can access it anytime by clicking on 101 in 1001 right under the header, but you can also get to it now right here.
I will update my progress every few weeks.
Wish me luck and leave your own resolutions in the comments..

Thursday, December 18, 2014

so close, so faraway

Some of you may have noticed that i re-implemented the Gold Stars For Grown-ups program a little while back.
I didn't point it out at the time, just added it to the side as a carrot for me to get back on track doing the things that need done.
Things that i really don't want to do.
Like laundry.
Or taking out the trash.
Or ab crunches.
Mostly i am happy with how it is going, but when i just updated the ticker i realized that i am ONE star short of earning a reward.
Really? One star?
Almost as exasperating as looking for my camera doo-hickey or discovering that the mouse snacked on a jar candle.

Come on now, Niki.
Massage is waiting for you.
Do the @#$%^ laundry!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

i think evil gnomes took it

I can't find the USB converter for my camera's memory card.
Can't pull pictures from my camera.
There are time sensitive photos an there people.
Things that should have been blogged already.
I always have my converter with me.
I had it; then it was gone.
I keep holding out hope that i will find it, but those gnomes are wily.
sigh... i don't want to go to an electronics store a week before Christmas...

Where could it have gone?
I need to get my pictures.
My blog is empty.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pearl Harbor

73 years ago the Japanese Imperial Navy launched an attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, on the island of Oahu.
Battleships, cruisers, destroyers and aircrafts were beached, destroyed or sunk.
Over 2,400 died with more than 1,000 of the bodies lost to a watery grave.
The next day, the US declared war on Japan and vice versa.
Three days later Germany and Italy declared war on America.
Less then 150 hours after the attack, the US was fully engaged in the Second World War after spending years trying to avoid it.

Those dry facts can be found in any history book or on any WWII website, but they mean little to modern generations for whom that war might as well have been as long ago as the Civil War.

I think that is why Pearl Harbor is one of the most visited sites in Hawaii. We all know in the back of our collective consciousness that we should remember it, but it is tucked so far back that it is not until we stand in the actual location that we are moved to care.

Driving west from Honolulu, I knew i had to be getting close when missiles starting peeking over the fence.

I was shocked to see that the Pacific Command is still housed here.
Logically it isn't surprising, but somehow i'd always assumed that it was moved after being all bombed to heck.
Guess not.
The Pearl Harbor location is home not only to the Arizona, but also the USS Missouri, where the Japanese formally surrendered, the USS Bowfin submarine, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

The USS Arizona Memorial can only be reached by boat shuttle as it straddles the remaining wreckage of the battleship right where she sank. 
2,000 free tickets are given out each day to visitors; with the visitor center opening at 7am, the tix are often gone by mid-morning.
Come early!
NOTE: pictures are from October 2010

The short boat ride gives you time to appreciate the stark beauty of the white bridge, bowed in the middle to represent the depression in the spirit of America after the attack and its resilience to rise again as you approach from the left, getting closer and closer.

Here are some pictures to illustrate locations for you:

For me it was one thing to know that the monument was over a sunken ship, but a very different experience to stand looking at rusting pieces jutting out of the water, sea life claiming the underwater metal as its own and oil slicks continuous on the water.


To lend perspective to the size of the ships attacked and the enormity of sinking or beaching eight of them, you walk by one of the Arizona's three anchors next to the launch pier.

Today i pause to remember and acknowledge your sacrifice

It was one of the most beautiful and affecting places i have ever visited.

Monday, December 1, 2014

balancing living at home and working at home

My house is a mess.
Not dirty, mind you; there is just stuff everywhere.
No, not like hoarders, either: it is useful stuff that gets used on a daily basis.
Consider that it is my apartment and a full papercraft studio and a full jewelry studio.
It is not uncommon to have the dining room table set up for beading, a card table up in the living room for card making, Makes it tough to have people in for a visit.
Plus, i hate my tiny kitchen.
Over the summer, Amy and I were going to get together for tea and i decided that by jiminey i was going to host it, mess or no mess, crappy small kitchen and all.

STEP 1: consolidate in-progress jewelry projects into containers; stack them neatly to the side of the room

STEP 2: consolidate in-progress paper craft projects onto the dining room table; cover gently with a table cloth; add a pretty teapot to keep with the theme
STEP 3: cover wretchedly small, mismatched counter tops with a matching tablecloth to create the illusion of a buffet; lay out food that was prepared well in advance so that the kitchen did not need to be utilized that day, except to boil water
(from left: chips with Rea's homemade peach salsa; toast fingers with Rea's homemade black raspberry jelly; trail mix customized to my specifications (fruit and nuts have to be a 1:1 ratio, people); cantaloupe and grapes; black and white cookies (made by the grocery store because i don't really bake); 2 versions of toasted party ryes {cream cheese herbed with basil and garlic, topped with tiny tomatoes & cream cheese herbed with garlic and oregano, topped with prosciutto}; zucchini rounds with either plain or chipotle hummus; and green olives)
STEP 4: eat, drink, be merry

Tea turned out so well that i've decided more entertaining needs to happen in Chez Nicole.
Lydia and I were supposed to have a Friday adventure, but i had to cancel at the last minute so i invited her over for home cooking instead.
One of the house specialties is Nik'obo Stew: a seasonally variable stew that is loosely based on jambalaya and a bbq hobo stew a friend made for me 20 years ago.
It always has sausage and/or chicken, a sweet element balanced against a savory element and a grain of some type.

This Autumnal version was kielbasa, black beans, chili beans, sauteed onions and corn cooked in a tomato base with bay leaves as the savory half mixed with the sweet half of eggplant, butternut squash, chopped onions and whole garlic cloves roasted with nutmeg and ground cloves. 
I think it is okay to serve on tv trays as long as you have pretty napkins folded into flatware pockets, right?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Throwback Thanksgiving

Look at that black and white suit dress.
mmmmm... 1989
For my whole life, Thanksgiving was at my Grandma Hord's in  Ohio. 
It was always my favorite time of the year: food, family and guaranteed BFF time. 
Rea and I could tell you at any time of the year how many days there were until Thanksgiving; it was OUR holiday.
Going to college in Florida meant that i would miss it for the first time. 
I couldn't even imagine what Thanksgiving could be without all of my traditions.
Luckily, my other grandparents were at their winter place just a little over an hour away.
My Grandma Craig knew i was having a tough time and gave me the cutest Thanksgiving pin: a cartoon turkey and monk advises us to Count Your Blessings. 
It made me smile and somehow everything was okay.
I have worn it every Thanksgiving since then, putting it on today for the 25th time.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

he's almost100 for goodness' sake

Welcome to another tale from The Suburban Jungle Book by Nikyard Hipling.
The average lifespan of a golden retriever is 11 years.

Max is 14.


He has passed puppy, juvenile, dog and senior citizen, but he is still friendly and alert.
And not above trying to steal some of his sister's food.
Unbelievably, he is also still pretty spry.
Well. okay, spry might be reaching, but still pretty darn mobile for a nonagenarian.

Max has plenty of energy to continue practicing his hobbies of napping, pawing the carpet, napping, licking any exposed human skin he can find and napping.
Max in his favorite bed on the left and his other favorite bed on the right
Though not a big fan of steps, he can still get up and down them by himself. It might take a try or two so i always make sure that he has made it off of the porch before i close the backdoor.
One nice weather day i stayed outside to enjoy some fresh air and make a little vitamin D myself when i heard a crazy rustling sound.

Max was stretched out in the yard, paws in the air, rolling around like a puppy.
He squiggled and turned every which way with obvious joy.
There was pawwing and flailing and growling -the happy kind- and some quiet barks that were the closest things to a yip that a dog that size can make.
Sure, he flopped over tired and panting every once and a while, but he'd lay still for a few seconds, resting, sniffing the ground and then launch his paws back into the air for another round.

I have sat Max and his sister Zoe many times, but i will never forget the first time he completely shocked me with his energetic love of the outside.
Since then i have seen him shamble through the kitchen and stumble down the stairs only to run strong and graceful around the yard.
I guess no matter how old you are or how weak or tired, there is still joy to be found in the simple pleasure of rolling around in the sunshine.