Week Five of Summer

June is over! I can hardly believe it. Summer is a third of the way gone and boy is it flying fast. I’ve completed 23.5% of my summer to-do list (although, if you take into consideration I realistically only thought I’d get half my list completed, I’m 47% done).

Urban Exploration

This week started with an impromptu romp around Gilbert. Gilbert is a tiny town in the middle of Iowa. I went to primary school there and have since become a resident. After my mother and I did some basement work on Monday I decided to walk around the town. It was half-past nine so nothing too terribly interesting was happening while I ‘explored’. I did have fun doing a lap around the track. Yup, I actually put ‘fun’, ‘track’ and ‘lap’ in the same sentence. Granted, I did the lap barefoot. Sure running barefoot may not be brilliant, but running in Toms would not have been a good idea either. Also, it’s just so squishy. Any who, my favorite part of the walk was when I was a block away from my house and I realized this random pine tree had lit Christmas lights on it. I don’t know who did it, because it is right by the co-op, but I like them.

Christmas in JunePerhaps the decorator was just getting ready for ‘Christmas in June’ a couple days early? I argue this only because I drove past a couple days ago and the tree wasn’t lit. I didn’t necessarily see any lights on it either, but it was dark. We celebrated at my office by listening to Christmas music all day. Although we all agree that it’s too bad we can’t listen to Christmas music more often, after the eight hour binge, we decided we are all set for awhile.

Sand VolleyballBetween scheduling and rain outs I hadn’t made it to any of our sand volleyball games. That all changed last Thursday. The lemons, again united, had a blast losing all three games. That isn’t sass. We did have fun. It’s hard not to have fun at sand volleyball. It is innately so much more chill than regular volleyball. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season! We had one more player that wasn’t there but this Thursday, I think, we’ll all be truly united again. Unless I’m forgetting something, which is likely.

Foreign MusicA fun part about being office DJ is that my coworkers get to enjoy my musical whims as well. For instance, this summer we have replaced ‘Free Choice Friday’ (where I would ask a coworker what they want to listen to and inevitably they say “oh I don’t care”) with Foreign Friday. Yup. We’ve gone international. Last week we listened to the spotify mix Entro to Hungarian Pop which introduced us to a whole slew of new artists. Certainly more than the three we had started the summer with. Our mix of Sigur Ros (Icelandic Rock), Julieta Venegas (American-born Mexican singer) and Toe (Japanese group) has grown considerably. You can never have too much music, right?

Weekly SketchesThe thing about summer is, no matter how much you have during the week, weekends are also packed. This weekend was no exception. Enjoyably we went up to my sister’s in Minnesota to celebrate my nephew’s third (three and a half actually) birthday. Although getting there was tricky with roads closed for flooding, once we got there it was perfect. Breezy so the humidity wasn’t terrible, and the rain stayed away until after the party. It came down by the boat load as we drove home, but at least we weren’t washed away while eating cake. Then, before I knew it, Sunday passed in a wink. With the storms in Central Iowa taking most of yesterday’s attention, we are already to Tuesday (and subsequently July). With July brings a new endevor. Now that I’ve been able to keep up my daily sketching, we’ll see if I can add writing to the mix. However, since I don’t have many interesting things to say, it will come in the form of responding to creative writing prompts. I decided to create a separate blog for that (qfreewriting.wordpress.com). That’s it really. Let the summer march on!

Until next time

Summer Series: Intro | Week One | Week Two | Week Three | Week Four

Summer 2014

  1. Nap in a Hammock
  2. Have a Bonfire
  3. Play Sand Volleyball
  4. Visit an Iowa Winery
  5. Go to the Zoo
  6. Eat Sushi
  7. Go Stargazing
  8. Christmas in June
  9. Rainy Day Picnic
  10. Make a Summer Soundtrack
  11. Visit a Bed & Breakfast
  12. Ride a Carousel
  13. Go Camping
  14. Watch a Baseball Game
  15. Harry Potter Non-Stop Movie Marathon
  16. Radio Silence (no music, tv, computer or phone for 24 hours)
  17. Watch a Movie Outside
  18. Go Roller Blading
  19. Go to a Concert
  20. Go Wading
  21. Go Bowling
  22. Make Caramel Apples
  23. Meal Over a Fire
  24. Launch a Firecracker
  25. Urban Exploration
  26. Have a BBQ
  27. Make a Quilt
  28. Blow Bubbles on the Porch
  29. Play Bocce Ball
  30. Go People Watching
  31. Fill the Tank & Drive
  32. Make Wind Chimes
  33. Draw a Landscape
  34. Go Berry Picking
  35. Take a Weekend Trip Alone
  36. Paint a Canvas
  37. Do Yoga
  38. Make a Meal using only Farmer’s Market Food
  39. Spend the Afternoon on a Riverbank
  40. Watch a Sunrise
  41. Attend a Street Market
  42. Listen to Rock Music (from a different country)
  43. Picnic in the Park
  44. Start a Wish Tree
  45. See a Drive-In Movie
  46. Make Sangria
  47. Go for a Hike
  48. Go to a Fair
  49. Make a Banana Split
  50. Sketch Everyday
  51. Give to Others (donate old clothes to charity)

35 Days of Celebration: 07 & 08

35 Days7

Have you ever noticed that everything seems wonderful at Christmas?! ― Ghost of Christmas Present

Last night/tonight’s movie was Jim Hansen’s Muppet Christmas Carol. I had never seen this one before and was quite delighted. Sure there were a few extra characters (the Marley brothers) but the more the merrier I say. For whatever reason I was particularity amused by the Fred actor in this rendition. He was quite quick with the quips, I like that. Also, how can you deny the awesome lyrics that are always present in Muppet movies?

Even the vegetables don’t like him

However one of the bests moments was when, after hiding Scrooge’s face for most of the opening song, you discover it’s Michael Cane. Ah, Christmas came early with that realization. I’ve always enjoyed him and was not disappointed. It took me two nights to watch this because, well I was busy. Last night I was painting boards for the basement and tonight I was socializing with some of my coworkers…fine my manager had a Pampered Chef party. Whatever.

As I watched the movie tonight, though, I started working on a paper collage. I’m going to be layering 5 master sheets on top of one another to make a nativity scene. For the background of the sky I decided to rip up pieces of paper and mod-podge them on. Not sure if I like the effect. I didn’t want to do teeny tiny pieces but I think that’s what I’ll have to do to get the look ‘right’. We’ll see though. I’ll keep at it with the other sheets using various media (paint, watercolor, and perhaps even oil crayon) and maybe revisit that piece of paper. It’s nowhere near completion, but the next two days are fairly open, just decorating the house and a nativity scene will definitely be part of the decoration.

Until next time

~ Q

35 Days of Celebration
01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06

35 Days of Celebration: 05

35 Days of Celebration: Day 05I’ve decided rather than buying an ornament for this year I would decorate one that would represent this year. This year I, somewhat randomly, decided to move out of my apartment and buy I house. From committing to the decision in April it took less than a month until I made an offer on a house. Six weeks later I closed. Two months later I moved in. All the while there has been a lot of work happening. Whether it be packing my stuff, moving my stuff or working on refinishing the house it has certainly been a major moment this year. Naturally I let it be reflected in my ornament.

Ornament 2013Painted Red and gold (like the house), a key, the house number (111), and a snake. Why the snake? My yard was a bit overrun. Apparently four years of in-habitation makes for prime real estate to these reptiles. They have since mended their thinking, or perished. Cheery right? But it wouldn’t be Slytherin house without a few snakes. Granted the coloring is more representative of Gryffindor. I myself tend to reflect the values of Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff though, so really it’s just Hogwarts (Or I just wish it was). However I digress, the real point is that now I have an ornament that will forever reflect my 2013.

Until next time
~ Q

35 Days of Celebration
01 | 02 | 03 | 04

35 Days of Celebration: 03

35 Days of Celebration: Day 03This is going to be a mix in progress. I do love spotify, it makes making mixes so easy. A little too easy though, my mix is forever long. However I have all month to narrow it down! I’m also quite excited because my mother has been going through some old boxes and found a bunch of records. Now I also have something to play on the record player for the season including Bing Crosby Christmas, Alvin and the Chipmunks (volume one and two), and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer to name a few. Between the records and my digital mix I will not run short on options. By the end of the month I’ll also have heard a lot of new songs. For now though I have a long digital mix, and although it is really long now (and has quite a few duplicates) by the end of the month it will be widdled and full of my favorites. If you’re interested here is a link to the spotify mix: Christmas 2013. Now I’m all set for Christmas music throughout the month of December.

Until next time
~ Q

35 Days of Celebration
01 | 02

The holidays are coming and I’m getting excited!

35 Days of CelebrationIntroducing my plan for the 35 Days of Celebration! Last year I almost made it through blogging about my 41 Days of Celebration, but towards the end got a little too preoccupied. Last year (which can be found here, here, here or here) I did a LOT of cooking with a classic, baking, & watching Doctor Who (which is NOT a bad way to spend the season). This year will be slightly different, but still some of the same. Now since I didn’t quite get all of the days posted last year I’ll see if I can make it through this time around. Once again have a LOT planned. Something everyday from Thanksgiving (November 28) through New Year’s Day. This is merely an introductory post, so if you are looking for a list of Holiday ideas (like I was) I hope this serves as a good reference and generates some fun ideas. Here are the days they I’ve compiled from various blogs and sites as I have them planned out right now. Granted these are as if I were to live a simple hermit life, which, as a lack of posts over the last six months implies, I don’t quite live anymore.

The list:

  1. Go Christmas Tree Hunting & Thanksgiving
  2. Atkins Thanksgiving (extended family)
  3. Create a Christmas Music Mix (to be listening to for the month)
  4. Holiday Movie Night #1
  5. Wrap Christmas Presents
  6. Make a Gingerbread (or Graham Cracker) House
  7. Holiday Movie Night #2 & Make paper chains/snowflakes
  8. Make Homemade Ornaments
  9. Decorate Christmas Tree
  10. Decorate House
  11. French Toast & Hot Chocolate for Dinner
  12. Design Paper Nativity Scene
  13. Holiday Movie Night #3
  14. Design & Mail Out Christmas Cards
  15. Bake Christmas Cookies
  16. Decorate Christmas Cookies
  17. Make a Fort & Holiday Movie Night #4
  18. Red & Green Food Day
  19. Go Ice Skating
  20. Make a Snow globe
  21. Make Stocking Stuffers
  22. Cook Christmas Fudge
  23. Holiday Movie Night #5 & Sleepover Under the Christmas Tree
  24. Candlelight Fancy Dinner
  25. Make Dipped Pretzels
  26. Holiday Movie Night #6 (I have a lot of holiday movies thanks to my family)
  27. Read the Christmas Story
  28. Christmas Day with the Family
  29. Chestnuts Over an Open Fire (Marshmallows too!!)
  30. Hot Chocolate & Candy Canes
  31. Make Hot Chocolate Balls
  32. Holiday Movie Night #7
  33. Make Homemade Mulled Wine
  34. Holiday Movie Night #8 & Make New Year’s Resolution
  35. Take Down Decorations While Having a Christmas Music Dance Party

That’s the plan, but I’m sure that my friends and family will alter and enhance the plan. In fact I know of a work tradition (going on the tour of homes) that is missing. Oh well, looks like I’ll double up more.

Until next time
~ Q

41 days of Celebration: Days 23-36

Day 23: Friday, December 14: WHO Friday
I know, I know, not as good of a ring as “WHO Wednesday” but I realized I had forgotten an Christmas episode when I looked at how many there were vs how many Wednesdays there were during this season of celebration. I always forget this episode exists because it falls in that grey area of after a season but before the specials so it really is just a trick. Anyway instead of watching a movie Friday night I watched The Next Doctor episode. Only it was a lie! He wasn’t the next doctor (hence no Matt Smith) but 10’s hair was once again fabulous. Seriously, sign me up for that job.

Day 24: Saturday, December 15: War Horse/Tree Decorating
IMG_2910 Nothing says Christmas like carnage right? That’s what I found when I went to War Horse. That play is phenomenal. Who ever developed that deserves a gold star. I was shocked at how they were able to portray even a slight degree of the genuine terribleness (bad word, sorry) of war. *Spoiler* There was this scene where the horses were going into battle. There were the two main horses at the front of the stage and then a handful of others lined up next/behind them (they were standing parallel to the front of the stage charging the other side). As they are charging machine fire starts and bombs start to fly. All of a sudden you see the torso of a man fly off one of the horses. Very blunt, it put things in sharp focus and it was only a puppet. Only during intermission was my mind able to process that the back horses had never had actors on them, but it was too late. The die had been cast and the impression made. Spoiler over. Anyway, I really enjoyed the play although I don’t know if I could go through that emotional rollar coster again. It was quite tasking in that way, I cried twice, so exhausting.

IMG_2908Afterwards, once we returned home my sister and I set about decorating the Christmas tree. This was the first year we got a blue spruce (usually go with a fir of some sort) and it was fun getting something new. Although we did have to wear gloves to decorate it, the needles were pretty spiky, but the end result was quite lovely and new.

Day 25: Sunday, December 16: Cooking/Classic (Little Women)
IMG_3126It was a fabulous day of cooking, although I should have read the instructions more clearly. Then I would have known I was making five dozen sugar cookies. Ah well, the more the merrier, right? I also made Ninja bread men and bark. Two kinds of bark, one would have done, but peppermint and M&M were made and enjoyed. Later that day, after the cookies had been rolled and cooled I popped in Little Women which is always bittersweet. I enjoy the movie so much, but it is so very sad, bits of it anyway. This viewing of it was just the same in that regards.

Day 26: Monday, December 17: Mail out Christmas Cards
Christmas LettersI finally met my goal of getting my cards out on Monday!! Yes, later than I expected, but done…and before Christmas to boot. So that was a good ‘Christmas’ task done. The picture is a bit rough, decided to use the digital file for showing the inside and the lighting in my apartment is special so that’s why they don’t quite match up – color wise.

Day 27: Tuesday, December 18: Wrap family presents
PresentsLast year we tried to implement everyone wrapping with a different color, why I can’t recall. Since we all live apart that was pretty easy to do. I have been on a green kick (if the Christmas cards weren’t a clue) so I continued that onto the wrapping I did for my family. (Which worked out because only one other family member did green and she chose dark green.) I even decided to print out some special cards at work. I figured eventually my nephew will be in charge or handing out so I designed the tags to have both faces and names (since he wont really be able to read at first). Now if I can only remember where the files are next year…

Day 28: Wednesday, December 19: WHO Wednesday
Ah, one of the saddest Christmas Specials to date, A Christmas Carol. Well, both of Eleven’s are pretty sad (or make me cry at least). I really quite enjoy this one, it may be my favorite. Actually, I’m pretty sure it is, and I quite enjoy how it parallels The Christmas Carol (hence it being titled the same) but has it’s own twists (Like Amy Pond/Williams being the ghost of Christmas present). Anyway, continuing with the WHO Wednesday was the first of Matt Smith’s Christmas specials and he does it justice, of course.

Day 29: Thursday, December 20: Finish presents for my pals
IMG_3130I decided to get my gal pals gifts that could only be gotten (bad grammar I know, but not sure which other word to use, acquired?) in Story City. Oh what fun that was. I had already picked out little figurines for them but made them notepads at work to go with them as well. Finally finished the notepads and was able to wrap them too (it was a bit of a shoty job though, it’s hard to wrap hippos and pigs, and don’t get me started on eagles).

Day 30: Friday, December 21: CLEAN / photo booth props
I was hosting a holiday party so I needed to get things cleaned up. I had the food done (since I’ve been baking sweets all month) but did need to get the apartment ready. I also quickly cut out some photo props, although they pretty much went on used except one photo (below) since I had them out of sight behind the photo curtain, out of sight out of mind and unused. Brilliant Jamie, just brilliant.

Day 31: Saturday, December 22: Holiday PHoliday Propsarty
As stated above I had a party. My mom commented that she wasn’t sure where my oldest sister and I got these ideas about having Christmas party, but to me it comes to no surprise. My mom is the great instigator of bringing family together, especially around the holidays (hence we usually have 20+ grown adults at our house for a long Thanksgiving weekend. People on top of people for three days, but it’s family so you let it pass). And since friends are the family we choose why wouldn’t I want to bring them together. Okay stepping off my box now, I had a mini reunion with all of my friends (many from high school) and it was nice to be together and catch up for the evening. Shenanigans were had and memories were made, the best byproducts of any gathering, right?

Day 32: Sunday, December 23: Finish presents / ‘Cooking’ but no classic
Some how I still had last minute presents. It’s not like Christmas was a surprise or anything but I spent most of the day inefficiently finishing the design on some personalized planners for my mom and dad. Dad asked for a calendar, I did one further and decided to do a weekly calendar. Then I decided if I had all the work done it wouldn’t be that hard to then replace all the photos for my mom to have her own version. Took forever, granted I had the television on in the background which I’m sure ups my time by 50% or so..so there’s that. But it was worth it in the end because they loved them (I think, they certainly seemed to).

Bath CrayonsOh, I also realized that I had a TON of goodies. I guess I didn’t really keep count of just how many tupperwares I was filling while I’ve been baking over the last month. However that didn’t keep me out of the kitchen, oh no, I just didn’t make the Bon-bons and other miscellaneous things I was going to try. Instead I tried making home made bath crayons for my nephew. I HATE melting stuff in the microwave but it felt weird to put soap on the stove to melt so I tried it. I’m pretty sure these will crumble as soon as they hit the water but hopefully he can get one use out of them.

Day 33: Monday, December 24: Last minute wrapping / journey to my parents
I worked a half day and then headed home. It was a bit of a surprise that my eldest sister’s family wouldn’t get there until right before bed but that was no big deal, the rest of us had a mini-cribbage tournament. I did fairly well for never playing before, I got second (out of four) so that was fun. I didn’t do as well the following day in our six-person tournament. But that’s fine, I’m now a bit addicted to playing cribbage though, whoops.

Day 34: Tuesday, December 25: CHRISTMAS DAY IS FINALLY HERE!!!!
Typical Christmas:

  • Wake up semi-early (this year to a screaming/excited two year old)
  • Marathon unwrapping of presents
    (complete with the enjoyment that comes from surprising others)
  • Enjoy gifts
  • Take naps
  • Enjoy fabulous Christmas Dinner
  • Family movie (we watched Star Wars Episode 4 this year, that’s why my family is awesome)
  • Cribbage tournament

Day 35: Wednesday, December 26: WHO Wednesday
Although there was a new WHO episode premiered on Christmas Day (I believe) I didn’t watch that one, nope. I finished up with the old ones. (Not entirely sure if the new one is available in the states or not.) This week it was the The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe. Par for Doctor Who it was magical, simple (yet epic), dangerous and done in time for Christmas.

Day 36: Thursday, December 27: Christmas Vacation
Compliments of my sister, I know have a handful of Holiday movies. I decided I couldn’t wait until next year and cracked open Christmas Vacation. I haven’t seen this movie in forever and it certainly made me laugh. Good grief Griswolds, nothing ever goes right.

High time for gratitude and giving


When I read the prompt this morning I was filled with curiosity to know what I would be doing/thinking about at noon today. As I sat around the dinner table with all of my immediate family surrounding me I was nothing but grateful. Getting to spend the season of celebrating Jesus’s birth with the people I love most in this world is the greatest gift I could ever receive. Although we did spend the morning exchanging the gifts we got one another. I’m very excited about the gift of time will be spending including a cribbage match that we will be playing this afternoon, I’ve never played cribbage before last night and I’m sure it’s going to be a super fun. We always play board games when we get together and although it may not be the same as murder train I’m sure the evening will play filled with laughs. So at this high noon I am filled with thoughts of love and gratitude for my amazing family.