Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cake-tastic

I love Cake Wrecks.
It's just a phenomenal blog- it's basically a realization of a cake-fanatic's craziest dreams and/or nightmares.
And I also love Threadless.
So I found the series of posts about the Threadcakes competition completely sublime.


And then I found these incredible time lapse videos detailing the creation of a couple of the Threadcakes entries. Definitely mind-blowing.






Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Countin' Up the Minutes

The Art to Living Well is to enjoy all the random little beautiful happenstances that break up the monotony of quotidian life. We accomplish this in two simple steps:
A) taking the time to notice the little beauties. And then
B) celebrating them.
For example:
  • The bag of bagels that I picked up for my dad looked like the Sorting Hat.
  • Walking by the mailbox, I looked down and saw at the base of the box a little Star Wars action figure vehicle. My sources (Wookiepedia-love it.) tell me it's an A5 Juggernaut. Cool. You lean something new everyday, I guess. (???????)
  • Boated on the Mississippi last night, and watching the rippling whirlpools and the swirling eddies formed by the current was so amazing. Water is phenomenal stuff.
  • I was driving my mom to the doctor's office, and said on a whim I: "I think I'd like to be a large cat-like a lioness." Not even missing a beat, my mom responded: "I'd be an eagle." Then we continued to discuss the benefits or drawbacks of being an animal that could fly. My mom is awesome.
  • I dropped some books off for a friend yesterday, and her mother and her mom's mother were sitting outside the house, just chatting away, sipping coffee and enjoying the beautiful summer morning. As I drove up, I realized that I can't wait for the day when my mom and I sit out on my front porch and just sit there visiting, gossiping, and drinking our coffee in teacups. le sigh
  • The look that babies give you when they're deciding whether to smile at you or not. They have this moment of hesitation when they have to process what they see. And then they decide what to do about it. And then their ecstatic little toothless grin lights up their face like the dawn. Polar ice caps would melt at such a sight.
  • Looking up Juicy Couture baby strollers with co-workers. Let me repeat that: Juicy Couture. Baby stroller. It's a steal! It can be yours for only $490.00!! (Please note: fur footmuff sold separately) This is why I desperately love working at the mall. Because I somehow find myself at Pishposhbaby.com looking up the price of a Juicy Couture stroller. Oh, and if your parents were too cheap to splurge on a Juicy Couture stroller for you, I hope they at least bought you a Boon Flair Pedestal High Chair with Pneumatic Lift. I mean there are necessities, and then there are necessities, folks.
  • And then, there's this. It's been consistently making my day one day at a time this week. :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Follow Thou Me

"Thou who are at home deep in my heart, help me to join you deep in my heart." --The Talmud

So I'm feeling happy. Really, really happy. There could be several reasons for this.

Tonight, in a fit of nostalgia, I demanded that we watch Swiss Family Robinson. I love that movie. It's just the best thing that ever happened to mankind. Watching it was like reliving my childhood-a childhood I spent happily recreating scenes from that movie (especially the infamous and beloved dance scene) and quoting every other line.

So maybe that's why.

My mom suggested: "Hey! Why don't you guys go on a quick family bike ride before dinner!" [Notice how she included herself out of this fun family outing. She's a smart woman.] I think she was trying to ease us into a fun, stress-free little family bonding experience.
Unfortunately, our family doesn't really know how to do those.
The bike ride starts off with Newly-Minted Teenage Sister in a blue funk. She's a consistent creature: once she's in a foul mood, she refuses to be budged. So she was moping along at the rear of the bicycle caravan in a state of high dudgeon.
Furthermore, Eight-Year-Old Brother doesn't know how to a) hit the brakes on his bike in a timely manner or b) look both ways before crossing the street. Start imagining all the fun scenarios that that exciting combination will produce. Good times, right?
And finally, Sassy-Lil'- Thing Sister hit a loose retaining wall stone with her front tire and was thrown from her bike. She belly-flopped onto the cement and scraped up her knee and her elbow in a bad way. On top of all that she popped the bike's tire on the stone. So for the last mile of our bike ride, my dad and I ended up walking her bike back home.

Family Bike Rides: Making memories, one near-fatal injury at a time.

So there's that.

Or maybe it's because God keeps reminding me that He's in charge, and that He's got me on a wonderfully wild ride. And He keeps calling me to trust. Trust that everything's gonna be all right. And trust Him, so that I don't have to trust my own faulty judgement. And I'm so excited for my classes in the fall, and I'm excited to explore different majors, and I'm excited for my new life plan which is to go to Hawaii to work at this children's theatre there and take up surfing. And I'm excited to go to India and work at Mother Teresa's house, and I'm excited to study abroad in London (must get good grades this semester) and I'm excited to perform Pride and Prejudice in a park, and I'm excited to go to Italy over spring break, and I'm excited for the myriad possibilities that present themselves for fall break, and I'm scared out of my wits and sooooo excited to be directing the Importance of Being Earnest. And I'm just happy.
I like these moments. I have acne on my chin, I have clothes strewn around my bedroom that need to be put away, and I have a to-do list a mile long and a to-read stack a mile high. But everything's gonna be okay.




Thank you, Ingrid.

In fact, everything is PEACHY.

"Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see/The distant scene- one step enough for me./ I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on./ I loved to chose and see my path; but now, Lead Thou me on!"
--Lead Kindly Light, John Cardinal Newman

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Toad"ally Terrifying

Story: Once upon a time, I went for an hour-long walk at 11:00 at night. Why? Because I was feeling immensely sorry for myself and stuck in the brattiest mood possible. And there's nothing you can do when you feel that way except one of two things: either bang pots and pans in a noisy pretence at cleaning up, or go on a nice long walk.

Nothing could shake me of this hormone-driven glumness. Not even the beautiful moon. Not even the fluffy night-clouds. Not even the cool night breeze. Not even the dark alleyways I frolicked through that I was positive had nasty things lurking on either side of the pathway.

Finally, I was walking up the driveway to my front door, and I saw a large toad on the side of the sidewalk. Before I could stop myself, I screamed and bolted into the house. A concerned-looking Papa rushed to the front door. I told him what happened and we both burst into a fit of laughter and merriment. (Although, in my defense, toads look a *lot* creepier in the dark. For cereals. Trust me on this one.)
Moral of the story: I feel much better now. That toad was just what I needed to snap me out of my Mood.
God's sense of humor is wickedly delicious.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What is this Feeling?

Today, I was productive.
Let me repeat, folks: I. Was. Productive.
I was actually productive. In fact, I think this was the most productive I've been for the past few weeks (make that months?) Maybe it's a sad fact of Summer that you just can't function at the same level of productivity as you do during the school year. Or maybe I was just being exceptionally lazy.
There was one point last week as I was swamped by in the morass of my own infernal inefficiency and inertia I realized that what I'd accomplished in the last week was roughly approximate to what I could accomplish in about 5 seconds at school.

Granted, there's this ringer of a cold that I couldn't seem to shake. And granted, I had to tend to my younger brother who was plagued with bronchitis (have you ever taken a eight-year-old hypochondriac with bronchitis to the pediatrician? Don't.) And granted, it was hot. (How anyone accomplishes anything in the tropics boggles my mind. Those people who dug the Panama Canal must have been somewhat like superheroes.)
There. Those are my excuses. Rather pathetic, but now they're out on the table.

Longingly, I thought of those days where I would set up three meetings, go to classes, get work done, run four errands before lunch, fill out boggles of paperwork, attend two meetings, hit up Mass, volunteer at the retired nuns' convent, go to rehearsal, write a paper, attend a study session, and do homework all in the space of 24 hours.
What happened to you? I wondered.
And then I didn't care.
And I continued watching Hugh Grant be bumbling and charming in Notting Hill.
And I didn't care some more.
Not caring felt gooood.
Except it didn't. It felt like I ate a whole French silk pie in one sitting. Which is a lovely feeling while you're eating the pie, but right after you finish you kind of feel like Stonehenge is in your stomach.
And that's just not fun.
So, I decided to be productive. That meant getting rid of Hugh Grant, turning on *all* the fans I could find, and hunkering down and responding to all of the e-mails that I was ignoring. And I hemmed my father's pants (putting those costuming classes to good use!); and I went to work, made some money, you know; and I took my little siblings to the library; and I memorized Notre Dame facts for tour guiding (Did you know that Bond Hall [the architecture building] used to be the university library? ); and I read to my little sisters, and got dinner on the table, and I realized that I (might) be more on top of things than I think I am. That's a good feeling.
We'll see how long this burst of activity sticks.
(knocks on wood)

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Magic of Laughter and Sushi


Sometimes all you need to transform your regular, ordinary week into an amazing, out-of-the-ordinary week is a little bit of Annie, a little bit of sushi, and some ice cream.
And then you throw in some reminiscing with dear friends, visiting old haunts, discovering new ones, a good day at work and a sketchtastic summer night.

Sprinkle all that with a heaping portion of laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. I love those days when you laugh a lot-especially love those fits of laughter when you can't stop and you end up tearing up/crumpling over with laughter. Those fits of laughter that appear suddenly and turn you and the people you're laughing with into friends. I think that's why I can't help staying up so late: people tend to get gigglier and gigglier as the night turns into morning. It's a certain sort of magic you only find when the sun goes down.
And breaking down into giant fit of laughter at work? Priceless.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Like Life, Only More So

I have a big family.

Actually, it's not all that big- I only have five siblings. I know people who have upwards of seven. That -to me- seems big; it's all about what you're used to, I s'pose.
Our family is a comfortable, cozy size. It's not too big, not too small.
But I'll admit that having eight people live under one roof is- well... it's an Experience (one of those Experiences that your parents always told you is Good For You because it Builds Character). It's something like life, only more so. Living with a large family is this:
Situation: Your younger sibling(s) clean your bathroom for you!
There are two possible outcomes:
A) Your younger brother (a mere baby of seven!) cleans your bathroom all by himself! You are sincerely shocked and rightly impressed; and being the kind-hearted older sister (also bent on instilling a strict sense of proper manners and etiquette into the younger members of the brood) that you are, you thank him profusely for cleaning your bathroom(Lesson to be gleaned: someone does something nice for you; you thank them.). The answer you get? "You're welcome. Try not to let it get messy again." And then you slink away, properly reprimanded and put in your place by the seven-year-old, with the eerily familiar words echoing in your ears. How many times have I said something like that to him? Better not think about it...
B) You swear that it's messier now than before they cleaned it. (This happened today. I'm positive the floor had less dust on it before than it did after the aspiring housewives' mini-rampage of cleaning.)
~

The secret to surviving a large household's organized chaos is to recognize that it will always be just that: loosely-held-together-semblance-of-organization-with-a-storm-brewing-underneath. Imagine that a hurricane and a tornado had a baby, fed it caffeine and equipped it with a vacuum cleaner and a lawn mower and then let it loose within our home. That's what "ordinary life" looks like. There's more than enough chaos, car-juggling, and carousing to go around. Making it through a family dinner without someone overturning a tumbler of milk is a cause for rejoicing. Family Dinner. Ah, that sacred, chaotic institution. Family Dinners are hilarious, sometimes conflict-ridden, noisy, and often an occasion to engage in "footsie" with your sibling across the table (but not near Father. "Stop! Are you playing footsie?! No footsie at the dinner table.")

And Family Dinner is always a garden of fresh 'n' spicy quotes.
Choice selections:
"Well, there goes your opportunity to be in a freakshow."-Dad

"My croutons have personality."-Sassy Salad Eater, age 9

"We're going to say an after-dinner prayer for those of us who are winners and not losers."-Dad

"When I grow up, I'm gonna take my kids to Noodles for lunch and Coldstone Creamery for dinner."-Young Dreamer, age 7

"Did you have the Common App when you were applying?"-Sincere Questioner
"Yes. But we had to send them around to all the different colleges on stegosauruses."-Sarcastic Father.

"We're the laughingstock of the neighborhood."-Astute Daughter, age 12

~

Large Families have really stellar communication skills. Example: Invalid and Recovering Mother needs Powerade. She tells Papa: "Sweetie, could you buy me some Powerade? Any flavor but grape." Papa sends Responsible(?) Teenage Son to buy the Powerade. Responsible (?) Teenage Son returns with a six-pack of grape Powerade.
How did this happen?
We'll never know.
Like I said, stellar communication skills.
Imagine a constant game of telephone being played amongst eight people. What starts as: "Will you take out the trash please, honey?" could end as "There's chocolate ice cream in the freezer. Help yourself to a bowl or two and when you're finished go and play some computer games for several hours. Bedtime doesn't exist anymore, so stay up all night if you want!" It's all about what you want to hear.

~

Once upon a time, the mini-kids went off on a play date. Being an awesome older sister, I packed them up with sunscreen, swimsuits, towels, and hats; and I prepared them two Tupperwares: one stuffed with watermelon, one full of brownies. Delicious, gooey, iced chocolate brownies. I stuck the Tupperwares in the fridge to keep them cool until time for the kids to depart. Their ride arrived, I grabbed the two Tupperwares, stuffed them in one of their tote bags, and sent them off with pride and accomplishment ringing in my ears. Who says I can't run this household? I'm the Best Older Sister EVER. Watermelon and brownies. I'm good. Oh I am goooood. Excuse me a few moments while I rest on these laurels. The next morning, I asked Newly-Minted Teen Sister if they brought the Tupperware home. “Oh yeah, we forgot one, but we brought one back.” Okay cool. And where are they? “We cleaned one. But Dad threw the potatoes out.” Ooookaaayyy non sequitur, much? I don’t know where the potato comment came from. ignore comment. Then, somehow in the ensuing conversation, the potatoes got mentioned again. And then I took pause. “Wait. Wait, Newly-Minted Teen Sister. The Tupperware you took was filled with potatoes?” “Yeah,” she responded matter-of-factly.
I packed them potatoes?
I packed them potatoes.
“I packed you POTATOES?!” “Yeah,” responded Newly-Minted Teen Sister, a little taken aback by my reaction, “we didn’t really know why you packed them. But we ate a lot of them. [Friend] really liked them.”
I’d packed them potatoes.
The potatoes in question were chopped and seasoned roasted potatoes family friends had given us two nights ago with a pot roast. And instead of packing the medium-sized circular Tupperware with the blue lid filled with brownies, I’d packed them the medium-sized circular Tupperware with the blue lid filled with potatoes.
And they ate them.
I couldn't stop laughing. “Whaaaat?” asked a puzzled Newly-Minted Teen. I explained that I meant to pack them the brownies, and she started laughing, too. And didn't stop. Was she laughing with me or at me? Debatable. Was I laughing with me or at me? Couldn't tell.
There I was, was feeling sooo goood about myself, too: Model Mother, Superwoman, Housekeeper Supreme, etc., etc. I had self-anointed myself all those titles and more.
And then I packed them potatoes.
Who does that in real life?
Bonus Question:
And what was more ridiculous: that I'd accidentally packed the kids potatoes or that they didn't question the fact that I'd packed them potatoes?

Welcome to my world. Hashtag winning.