Thursday, September 22, 2011

When Life Gives You the Lemons...

Make Passion Tea Lemonade!

I made this delicious treat daily this summer when it was so hot, but it has proven to be just as refreshing even with the cool down that we’ve been having.

You can get it at Starbucks, but it’s a little tough on the budget as often as I crave it, so I make it at home.  They sell the tea bags at Starbucks or at your local grocery store.**

Passion Tea Lemonade:
4 Tazo Passion Teabags in 2 ½ cups boiling water (let steep)
One packet Crystal Lite Lemonade (enough to make 2 quarts)

I have found that I like the tea/lemonade ratio best when I add the tea in first, then make the lemonade in my 2 quart pitcher (meaning I make the lemonade with 2 ½ cups less water because of the tea, it’s slightly stronger that way, or I should say it’s just right once it’s weakened by the ice).  But, play around with your own ratio until you find exactly how you like it yourself.  Plus, then you can say “ratio” a lot, which is one of my favorite words.

Pour over ice and enjoy!

*I finally met my neighbors to the north of me and two doors to the south when I saw them out working in their yards and brought them some of this in red solo cups.  I am their new favorite!

**A special shout out to Elizabeth for giving me the idea to make it at home!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My cute, girly, finished-for-now entryway!

I am slowly working on getting some stuff done around the house.

I have pulled a typical “Noel,” meaning, I hauled ass to get 90% done and then decided that I had worked so hard, I should take a break for, oh, I don’t know, a couple of years.

I still have boxes stacked up against my back windows, but I don’t want to unpack them because then I have to solve my curtains issues there.

I still have boxes in my den because I don’t really use that room and once I get rid of the boxes in there it will be glaringly obvious how bad I need furniture in that room.  Plus, it was so stinkin’ hot in the whole downstairs all summer that I didn’t want to be anywhere down there anyway.  I pretty much just hung out in my bedroom that had a window AC unit.

I did just finish my entryway project recently.  I still would like to find a coat rack/hall tree to hang my purse and Arthur’s vest and leash on.  Plus, I would like a cuter basket to sit on top of the table for holding keys (I’m hoping that will solve my problems of looking for 15 minutes every time I need to leave the house), and I bought a different drawer pull for the table, but it turns out it doesn’t have a screw, so it’s going to require someone helping me get the old one off and drilling a hole for the new one.  So really, I’m not finished at all.  But it looks much better than it did before, and not like it’s still in the process of being worked on.

Here are some photos:

On the little table:

Top basket:  for keys, and Arthur’s vest and leash, to keep me organized so that these items have a place where they belong and I can find them easily every time I need to leave the house.

In the drawer:  Let’s face it, this is my “man drawer.”  But it’s supposed to contain:  stamps, pens, and Arthur’s travel water bowl.

First shelf:  Liberty of London box contains mail that needs to be dealt with.  This way I can come in and immediately put it in that box rather than letting it pile up on the kitchen table, kitchen counter, dining room table, stairs, in the bathtub, you get the idea.  Mail in my house has a tendency to fall in love and have babies before I ever get a chance to deal with it.

Bottom shelf:  My new Missoni for Target box is for recycle (This and a picture frame were the only Missoni items left in my Target one day after the collection hit stores.  Seriously?).  This way all the junk mail can be put immediately into this box and I don’t end up having to touch it twice.  Smart, right?

This wall art is something I’m very proud of.  I don’t like to brag, but I thought of this all by myself.  Ok, I totally like to brag.  I had done something similar in my Pearl Street rental on a smaller scale.  This is a great way to cover a lot of space with lots of color and not that much money.  I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 for this project.  I used a level because, well, I’m anal retentive, so it took a little time, but I love the result.  It’s just pieces of scrapbook paper, and this time I used masking tape to put them up (last time I used thumb tacks but it didn’t work that well and it took forever, plus I knew I’d be painting the entryway sooner than later and didn’t want to have to putty up all the holes just to have to do it again after painting).  I went ahead and bought the flashiest colored masking tape I could find so that it looked intentional.  I figured, own it.  I think it worked.

This is the view from the living room...
So that’s my story, yo.  Now I only have about 374 projects to go!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Widow Care Package

I get hits from Google regularly about “Widow Care Package.”  I’ve gotten enough that I thought I should address it.  I have sent a care package, with items that I remembered being a comfort in the beginning, and then I also keep a running list in my head of what I wish I would have put in there, too.  Here are some ideas:

A gift card to her favorite clothing store.  I didn’t want to wear or even see anything that had any memory attached to it.  I wanted to completely start over with my clothes.

Panties.  See above.  Especially underwear.

Mercy Me ’10.’ It’s the only “safe” CD that I could listen to for a good year and a half.  Track 10 is called “Homesick” and is the best song for widows I’ve ever heard.

Small packs of Puffs facial tissue.  I can only find them at Walgreens.  They’re better than the Kleenex kind, which are rougher, and I always have them in my purse.  I’m always “packin’.”

A hot water bottle.  My feet get cold at night.  I used to put them on Sawan to warm them up, and he always let me.  Using the hot water bottle eases the pain a little bit.  I’ve heard other widows say this same thing.

Dare to Repair.  This book has great info for women on how to fix just about anything in a house!

I also think that in the first month I only consumed a total of about 1000 calories a week.  I just wasn’t interested in eating.  So, maybe some snacks?  Like nuts?

As far as books on grieving to put in your care package, I’m afraid I can’t be of much help, I tried pretty hard, but didn’t really like any of them (or get through them, actually), except Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies,” which isn’t even really about grief, it just has some short stories about grief added in there.

This is just what I could think of.  What other suggestions would you have?

Friday, September 16, 2011

One down, an unknown number to go...

I went on my first date as a widow this week. 

I decided to give eHarmoy another try, and, it’s been…well, interesting.

I learned in my brief on-line dating stint in my twenties that you have to remember two things:  you have to have a thick skin, and you have to kiss a lot of frogs.

So Monday night was an on-line date.  We had talked on the phone before, and had agreed to go to coffee, at my insistence.  (I also remember that you should always keep the first date short so that a: it keeps them wanting more and b: you can get the hell out of there quickly if you need to, no waiting on food to arrive).  I hung up and immediately started crying, then soul searching.   My thought was, I can’t believe I’m doing this again.  I can’t believe this is my life. Then I immediately started trying to I decide if my tears were meaning that I wasn’t ready, and I realized that there have been men that I’ve been interested in “in real life” (not that I’ve met on-line) that haven’t asked me out, but if they had, I would be stoked, and so it wasn’t that at all.  Just the unknown.

The thing that’s different about this on-line dating experience and the last time is that now it’s ten years later and well, I’m a completely different person.  I often say that everything pre-widowhood feels like a different life altogether. 

On eHarmony you fill out a profile.  It’s sometimes hard to even know how to answer the questions.  “Who, besides your parents, has been the most influential in your life?”  Well, no one that I’m going to be dating wants to hear about my previous husband.  So that one’s hard to answer.  “What, besides your appearance, is the first thing people notice about you?”  Ummm, the fact that I have a service dog?  But isn’t this kind of like on-line shopping?  I’m likely to get “archived” for not liking camping.  So if I admit in my profile that I’m messed up enough to have a service dog, aint nobody gonna respond to me.

With this guy, I waited until the phase where we were talking on the phone to find out if me being a widow with a service dog was a deal breaker.  Remarkably, he was more concerned with his story than with mine.  Actually, when I think about the human condition and how self obsessed we all are, this shouldn’t be that remarkable.

I called no less than six girlfriends to tell them what time I was going and where.  “If you don’t hear from me by this evening, I want you to know where I was and come looking for me.”  That may be a bit extreme.

So I went.  And it was…Holy cow.  Awkward.  I felt like I came off as a spoiled-brat-daddy’s-girl.  One of the six girlfriends warned me to “Watch the internal dialogue.” Meaning that I have a tendency to keep the dialogue to myself and not say the things that I’m thinking out-loud.  So I really tried.  But I felt like I was working my butt off.  There were definitely points where there were…well, crickets.  There was just no chemistry.  I won’t say how he came off because I don’t “kiss and tell” so to speak (and believe me, there was no kissing). 

I won’t be seeing him again, but I feel so SO good to have the first one under my belt. 

You know, I guess the way I’ve been feeling lately is that my life seems like a movie.  And not one of those pathetic, sad, melodramatic kinds, but a fun movie.  One where it starts off with something sad happening but then things turn around for the heroine and there’s Katy Perry music and a costume montage.  I feel like I’ve turned a bit of a corner, and this date was just a funny scene added in there.  Things are looking up for me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I met the Governor!

On Friday night, I got to go to an event that was a fundraiser for Teach for America. 

Remember my friend Brad from Dispatch?  One of the really cool things about Dispatch is that they do things to raise money for social causes when they tour.  So this summer they picked education as their cause, and did a book drive, and then chose lots of different non-profits, all having to do with education (there was one that had a farm that raised organic produce for school lunches…it was cool).  Anyway, as part of that, Brad did this event for Teach for America, and I got to go.  It was super-fun.  They had 80s cover bands and then Brad emceed and played a couple of songs.  A big group of my friends went, and it was just a great party.

After the main show, there was a VIP event, where Brad played a full set.  Even though I had to work so early the next day, I decided to go.  I was having so much fun that I didn’t want to quit.  So I went to the VIP event, and just as Brad got up to go onstage, the Governor walked in.

The governor of Colorado was formerly the mayor of Denver.  When he became the mayor, back in the early 2000’s, I was obsessed with cutting his hair.  He has remarkably bad hair.  I had talked about it a lot, with friends, clients, anyone who would listen.  Some of my male clients talked about how they used to see him at their barber at the Brown Palace.

I was sitting there listening to Brad play, and the Governor moved to where he was standing just to my right.  I decided that now was my chance.  I had had just enough beer that I felt very brave, but not enough that I was the annoying drunk chick.  I grabbed a card from my purse, and stood up and introduced myself.

I told him that I had been waiting for this chance since he had become mayor, and that I had been a hairstylist for 12 years and an American Crew Educator for five.  I told him that I could do a great job with his hair and that I would cut it for free.  He immediately responded by saying that it would break his current barber’s heart.  I told him, “Yeah, I have several clients that used to go to him, at the Brown Palace.” (So I had obviously done my research, which he appreciated.)  This changed the way the conversation went.  It ended with him complimenting me on my business building skills (something that meant a lot to me coming from this man, who is well-known as an amazing businessman and entrepreneur), and him telling me that he is always looking for a good deal (I told him that you can’t beat free), so it went from him giving me a definite “no” to a “maybe.”  I’ll keep you posted if he decides to book an appointment.

Altogether, it was a pretty exciting Friday night!

*What’s funny is that the other thing I’m constantly complaining about with him is that part of his platform for running for Mayor 10 years ago was that he was going to fix parking meters in Denver.  When I got to the VIP event I was complaining about having to put money in my parking meter after 10pm and that he should really fix it.  When I saw Brad later he asked what I was talking to him about because he was sure that I was giving him a hard time about the parking meters. (Mr. Governor, you owe me $1.25.)  I’ll just wait until he’s sitting in my chair for that.

Friday, September 9, 2011

How Arthur joined our family

Labor Day weekend, 2008, is when Sawan finally gave in and let me get a dog.  Actually, that weekend when we finally decided, it was him that brought it up, I hadn’t been begging for a while.

We searched the paper and the internet and found a couple of places in Colorado that had Westies.  We decided that we would go and look at puppies, and not make a decision on the day that we went to look at them, but, if we were looking at a litter of puppies, “our” puppy would be the one that came to me and wanted to play with me.  We would let the dog choose us.

It ended up that there were very few Westies being offered at the time.  We went and looked at one dog here in Denver, but he was skittish and had a weird sore on his back, plus the whole operation seemed sketchy, and we left the place feeling very sorry for the little guy but knowing that he wasn’t our dog.  The only other place that had a puppy was in Burlington, Colorado and they only had one left.  So, it was a pretty big investment to go all the way out there and look at him (It’s about a three hour drive).  So we had to re-think our decision-making process.  It was a breeder with a good reputation, and we didn’t want to wait any longer.  We would probably just take him.  But we couldn’t pick him up until Thursday.  I told Sawan when he left that morning that if he got there and it didn’t feel right, to leave him there.

Sawan went out to get him, got to view the whole operation, loved the people that ran the kennel, and fell in love with the little guy.  He drove home and made several calls to the shop that day (I had to work and couldn’t go) updating me on what the puppy was doing.  It was so sweet.  He mostly slept on a towel on the seat in the truck the whole way home.

Sawan drove into town about a half hour after I finished work, so I just waited for him at the shop.  When he showed up with the puppy, he put him down on the ground, about four feet from me, and the puppy wouldn’t come to me.  He stayed right where he was, looking around, and Sawan and I looked at each other, fear in both of our eyes, like “Oh, no, we had agreed that we would let the dog choose me.  This dog is not coming to me.  What if we’ve gone to all this trouble and the dog isn’t supposed to be mine?”  So I went over and picked him up.  He was so tiny and cute.  He had the biggest ears I’ve ever seen.  When I picked him up, he immediately snuggled right into that space between my shoulder and my neck and laid his head down, like a baby.  He was so my dog.

We named him Arthur.

The day we got him.  Arthur and I waited outside Target while Sawan went in to get supplies.  Are those not the biggest ears you've ever seen on a puppy?
Now I’ve had him for three years.  He was what truly made us feel like a family.  He is my constant companion.  He is a hilarious little party animal.  He’s such a comfort.  I’m just so thankful for this little guy.

Friday, September 2, 2011

September, Thanks for coming!

I woke up yesterday morning, threw the covers back and leapt out of bed.  It’s September, folks.  I have put August behind me.  August can suck it!

There’s a slight crispness to the mornings, even though we’re still experiencing 90 degrees here in D-town during the days.  That’s ok, though, my parents just bought me a “house-cooling” present: a window AC unit big enough to cool my whole downstairs.  I walk in my house, bracing myself for the 84 degrees that it’s been all summer, and immediately start grinning because it’s now only 72.  Hooray!  I feel like I can actually live here, now.  I can do things like take a shower in the middle of the day, I can do a load of laundry when it’s not raining outside (before, that was my stipulation:  if it cooled down enough outside where I could open the windows, then I could justify turning on the dryer), I can run my dishwasher.  It’s delightful.  I’m sleeping better, too.  It no longer looks like a hoarder lives in my bedroom, with laundry piles going to the ceiling.

I have a fun weekend planned, with movies and house projects and haircuts (for myself this time…this is a big event- I never get to get my own haircut!). 

I feel like I can breathe again for the first time in several weeks.  Yay for September!