The Neville we all love.

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Week #4: Anybody seen a toad?

Luna: ‘And I don’t know who you are.’ ‘I’m nobody,’ said Neville hurriedly. – Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

I’m a geek. Most people may know or at least suspect that I’m a geek, but they don’t know the level of geek-ness that I have achieved. The geek card I’m laying down is not a +5 Supreme Knowledge or +4 Epic Costumes (though I have dressed up for the last 2 Ren Fests), but a +11 Spazzoid Mega-Love card.

Nothing turns my day around, bursts out a smile, makes me jump up & down, run a marathon with bunnies, bounce on clouds of marshmallow & marzipan, fly with the moon on my wings—well, I think you get the idea—more than an encounter with these objects of my geek girl heart. The worlds of Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Princess Bride, Firefly & Harry Potter do this for me.

One of the things that I think allows me to enjoy these stories is that I really get into them. I mean, I really get into them. I yell out warnings about every bad guy waiting in the shadows; I hold my breath through every watery tunnel as moral support. I’m swallowed up by the roller coaster of victories & defeats. But nothing really gets to me quite as much as the underdog. The Neville Longbottoms of the world who live as nobody, who struggle, win & lose on the sidelines. I wish I could be in the story, if only to include & encourage him.

Neville’s transformation from “Neville, the boy who kept losing his toad…” (HP & the Sorcerer’s Stone) to “ ‘I’ll join you when Hell freezes over.’ said Neville” (HP & the Deathly Hallows) while our eyes were on Harry. His story went on whether or not it was witnessed, just like in real life. The sword-wielding champion is epic, but his many flubs & foibles were a part of him, part of the reason that I love him, root for him, & cheer for him.

So I realized, if I can love something so eternally trivial as a fictional character from Harry Potter because of his goofiness & faults, why can’t I love the spastic, funny, drooly, kind person that God enables me to be? He laid +Infinity Spazzoid Mega-Love card down on me; His love should be what defines me. Therefore, my project for this week is not to say or think anything unkind to/about myself. This is going to be hard because if I mess up, it’ll be second nature to say/think something discouraging & thus continue the cycle. But I’m going to do my best & proceed with grace. If you hear me slip, please remind me. I’m only Neville after all 😉

Week #3: Put the brakes on

Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill. – Christopher Parker

Time management is not my forte (you may have figured that out by the timing of this post). Minutes tend to be so small in my mind until I realize I’m buried under how many of them have gone by (like this, if you need a visual). I can have the best of intentions, but things just tend to get away from me.

Which is why all of the rubber wore off my brake rotors. & so I had to get new ones. & it cost a few hundred dollars. (I know those sentences look weird, but I just love ampersands (&)) Fortunately, this led me to my first project for this week—getting a credit card.

I’ve never had a credit card of any kind before (debit/check cards don’t count), which I didn’t realize was awfully strange until my friend of several years gave me that, Are sure you’re from this planet? look when I told her. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve got debt from school loans that I’m in the process of paying off. But that is pure-grown, Financial Aid office produce.

Credit gets a sort of preferential stigma, like if you’re going to have to have pimples, at least have the sparkly ones. I’ve never really been a big spender, so my financial face has been pretty clear (alright, dropping that analogy). Plus,  growing up in a community where independence is highly valued, I think some of it might have rubbed off.

Thinking back, I felt like I could have asked more questions, understood more before I signed up, but I checked my bases. No fee for early payment, no interest for the first six months (within which it will be paid off), & a discount on my final bill for using the card 🙂 All that to say, I’ve got a credit card now and the world’s not over. I’ve got new brakes, so I won’t die, which is a plus. I’m blessed to have a job that enables me to pay  it off quickly, double plus. & I’ve got my new thing for this week in a way that requires only one post in a busy week, triple plus FTW!

Week #2 Report: The Rise & Fall

 

 

“The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.” – Vince Lombardi

Whew, so actually doing the projects that are the point of this blog is kind of hard. At the beginning of the week, (once the project was picked) I felt good. I planned to take the week to find recipes & then purchase & assemble  the soufflés on Saturday when I had time & $. Part A was simple enough, though I almost picked a French recipe (my new rule is never to use a recipe that requires ‘4 deciliters of very good milk’). I had my eye on that soufflé in the sky.

On Saturday, I wanted to use some of the free time I had to hang with a good friend, so when she was ready that afternoon, we went to pick up groceries. I felt pretty good as we returned to her house & then it was time to start baking.

But then her family was cooking lunch, so I figured I’d wait until they were done. Then there were visitors, then I changed my mind about recipes, then I got distracted working on a Pinterest for work (honestly, it was for work). Basically, a Saturday happened. When I finally started in, it was later in the evening & I began to feel that old collegiate sense of impending doom.

Just like in college, it all came down to rolling up my sleeves, donning an apron (I actually did for Screenprinting 101) & just doing it. The whole process was a series of triumphs—figuring out exactly how the mixer worked, getting my roux (a white sauce that’s actually yellow) to thicken, & discovering that mixing chocolate & egg yolks is pretty cool—& failures—sugaring the dish intended for my cheese soufflé & almost squishing an egg I put in my pocket. Finally & despite all my best efforts, I put forth 5 somewhat decent & moist soufflés. Who knew? I can bake soufflés!

So, project 2 conquered, whew! You can peruse pictures here. If you’re interested in giving the puffy pastry a whirl, here are my recipes for the cheese soufflé and for the chocolate soufflé. Let me know if you have any ideas for week 3!

Week #2: I cook, therefore, I yam.

“When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste.”– Laiko Bahrs

I can’t tell the difference between Kool-Aid & jello.

I understand that one is a liquid & the other a somewhat indecisive solid, that one splats & the other splits. But in my mind’s eye, they are one in the same. This fact contributed to one of my most infamous culinary exploits*, but it also revealed how my mind’s eye rules my cook’s hands.

That’s a fancy way of saying I’m a visual cook. If I’ve seen or imagined something & have the basics of a recipe, I can usually figure out how to prepare it decently. If something needs to taste richer, add red. Sweeter? Try gold-colored things. I don’t know quite why or how my brain does this, but it works for me.

Hence (ooh, never used that word in a real sentence before, huzzah for me!), trying to figure out baking is like trying to follow a badly written tele-novella. Where does the flour go?! How come the eggs don’t end up scrambled-looking?! What purpose does baking powder serve?!?! No comprendo hornear y no me gusta. (+ points if you read that last sentence in Ricky Ricardo’s voice. If not, give it a try.)

The suggestion (thanks, Amelia!) that I bake a soufflé for an AN52 project, then, came as an inadvertently strenuous (thanks, Amelia!) challenge. I balked, I gawked, I sulked & then I realized I had no idea what else to do for this week. So, in the spirit of AN52, it shall be undertaken & chronicled with gusto. If I can’t do it right, I can do it enthusiastically 🙂 Check back at the end of the week for the hopefully un-sunk results!

*My mind has filed Jello & Kool-Aid as clear, red substances. So I accidentally applied the ‘goes-well-with-fruit’ rule, not to Jello, but to its twin. Unfortunately, inundating a jug of Kool-Aid with diced bananas & other fruit resulted in a Franken-juice that no one (including myself) would touch.

Week #1: Commence with the running & screaming…

“Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running & screaming.” – Ian Malcolm,The Lost World: Jurassic Park

I have never been a blogger before now. Which I guess is kind of the point.

A New 52 will be my first step in a year-long experiment. For this coming year, I will endeavor to accomplish & document one new life experience each week for a grand total of 52 new life experiences.

Doing this through a blog serves several purposes.

  1. I’ll get to take & post shiny pictures with my new Christmas gift.
  2. By posting this online, I hope not only to let you take this journey along with me, but to gain inspiration from your ideas as well. I have to do 52 epically new things this year, folks. Feel free to share suggestions.
  3. It’s too easy not to do something, especially if you’re the only one who knows about it.

Now for the new things. Despite the above quote, I hope to get through this with only minimal running & screaming. While I know that every week’s project can’t be big and interesting (especially not by the Serenity definition), I have a couple of ideas in play (learning to light a fire at least 5 different ways, spending a week wearing the same outfit, saying no more than 1,000 words for the week). Further ideas could involve:

  • Mud, music, climbing, cultures, Etsy, eating, the number ten, failed alliterative patterns, art, freezing, blue, blues, Bluth, jumping, fairy tales, & Gary Larson

Really anything goes, as long as it pleases God & doesn’t antagonize the government (sorry, folks, I’ve never been arrested, but that won’t be one of my new 52).Epic newness is the goal & I’ll never get there if I don’t challenge myself.

Weeks will officially start on Sunday (since the year thoughtfully started on a Sunday) & will end on Saturday. Each week will begin with a post describing what that week’s project will be & ending with a post chronicling the adventure. When the awesomeness needs a visual component (or if I get an itchy trigger finger), pictures & video will be included.

So it’s time for this adventure to unfold. Let’s see what’s new!

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