Shirtless James Stewart and Fences

So I got into a really weird conversation last night, and I was warned not to go into the details because it would embarrass this other person.  It was a discussion about the evolution of body types that led me to do Google searches on a shirtless James Stewart.  I’m not going to lie, it’s not the most embarrassing thing on my browser history.  Also, there are not a lot of pictures of him shirtless, by the way.  Now you have a glimpse into the glamorous and exciting conversations I have on a daily basis.  Not as exciting as eating cake in the shower, but pretty close.

Weekend plans?  I’m going to be helping out with yard stuff.  Thanks to my husband’s parents, we will be able to finish the fence this month!  So between this weekend and next, I am hoping it’ll get finished.  We still have to finish cleaning up the yard, and right now, we’re having a logistics issue with it.  The weeds and grass are almost 50/50 and completely mixed.  And we have a huge yard.  Zach wants me to just pull the weeds, and I pretty much put my foot down because it would take me months to do.  I think in the end, we are going to just till and seed in sections until it’s done.  A little more expensive, but then I keep my fingers.  Trade-off.  I really would like to just fast-forward to when this is done.

I’m getting kind of a late start to my Friday.  Although I did manage to get up before everyone else, so I got to make the coffee how I like it and got the first cup.  Yay!  That’s better than yesterday.

Now where was I?  Oh yes, I was on another tab watching a YouTube video…

 

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How to Make Cake Toast

Ugh, mornings.  This morning in particular is rough because I’m trying to eat breakfast right now and when I needed a napkin and we were out of paper towels and napkins, I was too lazy to get more downstairs so I’m using a tissue.  And I got the bottom of the coffee pot.  Yep.  It’s that kind of morning.

I’m still in recovery-mode over the last week or so.  In case it’s not totally obvious, I’m painfully introverted.  So having a week in which I attend a concert, meetings, dinner parties, family time, and do a race with 50,000 other people all in a row, my nerves are on fire, to put it lightly.  All I want to do is revert back home and play with my dogs and listen to music and read.  I generally can’t even handle a movie at this point.

I don’t know about you, but days like this make me want to eat cake for breakfast.  What if you don’t have any cake lying around (it happens)?

Cake toast.

What?

Delicious, delicious cake toast.  Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients
Bread slices
Nutella, or something comparable 
Butter
Sprinkles (NOT optional)

Instructions
Toast your bread slices in a toaster, or toaster oven.  Before the toast cools, butter it.  Spread the Nutella evenly (or if you like it clumpy, please leave in clumps).  Sprinkle the top generously.  Not just for breakfast.  Use as a substitute anytime cake is needed.

Mmmmm... Nutella.
Mmmmm… Nutella.
I'm really bad a food pictures.  Do you like my Star Trek mug?  Totally artsy.
I’m really bad at food pictures. Do you like my Star Trek mug? Totally artsy.

So there you are.  I’m sure there are other posts with this “recipe.”  I can’t be the only person to think the Nutella/butter combination is like heaven in your mouth.  By the way, butter underneath peanut butter on toast also is amazing.  Put butter on all things!

Now that I’ve had my balanced breakfast (see orange juice in picture above) I’m off to the thrift stores to find a pair of shorts because pants are unforgiving in the heat.

My (Brief) Thoughts on Maya Angelou

Needless to say I was a bit heartbroken to hear of Maya Angelou’s passing this morning.  Her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings affected me unlike any other book I had ever read when I was young.  It was the first book to bring me to tears.  It was the first book I had read in which the ending wasn’t wrapped in a neat little package, but at the same time, gave me more hope than any other book.

I didn’t completely understand the book when I first read it, which was in middle school. But it always stuck with me.

This book was important for me, in so so many ways.  Angelou was important to me.  She still is important to me.  She is a woman that managed to reinvent herself so many times and became this incredible force of nature that continued to blow us away, even in her 80s.

I don’t only look up to her as a great writer.  She rose up out of an abused past, and was above her shame.  Nothing is more toxic to anyone than shame.  She talked about it.  She wrote about it.  She overcame it.  She was powerful and successful.  She became a voice for so many people (which, if you know her bio, is such a wonderful, fateful thing).  This is something I still strive for, and I can’t think of a better inspiration than her.

Unfortunately, this post wasn’t of my best writing, because I have a hard time gushing publicly about other people, and I’ve over edited this because sometimes it can be hard to open up.  But please note: I am definitely gushing over Angelou.

Thank you for the words you left us.  You will be missed.

 “I have no modesty. Modesty is a learned behavior. But I do pray for humility, because humility comes from the inside out.” – Maya Angelou

Mission to Mars: Or How NASA Rejected My Astronaut Application

OK let me just start off by saying that I’ve never applied to NASA, or anywhere else to be an astronaut or anything close.  You actually have to be a rocket scientist to do those things, and I fall quite short of the requirements.

This morning, I told my husband I took a silly online quiz about what my “real” profession should be, and I got astronaut.  His response was, “How would you handle your fear of heights?”  I replied that I wasn’t sure (and perhaps it’s so high and without gravity it’ll be different?  I don’t know).  The quiz said because I was logical and also because I like to be alone I should be a space cowgirl.

Our discussion quickly turned over to Mars and how they are going to send four people on a one way rocket ticket to start colonization.  Some people plan on leaving their families if they are picked – like, their children and spouses!

Zach said he could never commit to never seeing Earth again no matter what, but I think I could.  If I wasn’t married, didn’t have dogs, and got to see all the places on Earth I wanted to, I could totally do it.

That’s because the whole outer space thing fascinates me.  To me, Mars is the TARDIS and I am my own Doctor, doing something no one else is able to do.  I will apologize for the serious nerd vomit I just committed.

Fortunately, I have things in my life that DO keep me grounded (to Earth).  I love all those things.  And honestly, I’d rather just write science fiction than live it.

But I’ll be watching those four in wide-eyed wonder.

“It’s Complicated:” What it’s Like for My Husband to be Married to a Fangirl

This morning my husband was berated with texts messages from me as he rode the bus to work.  Most of them were spewing names of people from Star Trek and B movies that I love and they all ended with a million exclamation points.  This is because Denver Comic Con is in a month and they are having a Next Generation reunion, emceed by William Shatner.

It’s not just Star Trek either.  There’s going to be a lot of awesome people that I totally admire that will be there.  This is basically torture for me because we will not be able to go this year.  As adults, we have responsibilities blah blah blah.  If I had the choice, I’d be going to several of these every year all over the world.  Dressed up.

Geek culture has been my world for my entire life.  I’m actually a little surprised I married a real person.

Eventually though, there came a time where I crossed over from the purely “fan” side to the “creator” side.  I love creating my own geek world.  This is what this year is all about.  Creation of art.  Hopefully, if I’m lucky enough, people will like my stuff, and be inspired by it like I am by others.

But right now, this post is about a boy and his fangirl.  People like lists, right?  I see Buzzfeed has every list ever.  So what’s one more?  This list is how I imagine life is for my husband living with me:

1.  Watching me play video games.  This initially started when I first started playing.  I didn’t really know how, so my husband taught me.  Then I made him stay with me during the scary games.  Now, I have no idea why.  Also, he doesn’t understand why I won’t start a new game before finishing a preceding one in the series, even if the stories are unrelated.

2. Lusting after everything.  I’m not even exaggerating.  My husband watches me fall in love with fictional characters all the time.  What’s worse, my taste in fictional men is unhealthy (I like dark, distant, cold, bad guys).  I’m a staunch feminist, but when it comes to my fictional love, I’m appalled at myself, and quite embarrassed.  The exception is the Doctor.  And Zach knows I’m always ready to run away in the TARDIS.

3.  Spending extra money on books and toys.  Remember when I said we were adults with responsibilities?  Well, this point right here is where we have problems.  I’d much rather spend extra money on my favorite hobbies and collectibles and at the book store than buying myself clothes, or even going out to dinner on a date.  This is why most of my clothes are second-hand.  This is why, until I got married, all the socks I owned I found somewhere or someone bought them for me, and I never bought socks.  After learning this, Zach was horrified and bought me several pairs.

4.  Nerd shrines.  This isn’t an issue right now because we’re still setting up our house.  But so god help me, this will be an issue soon.  My LOTR action figures can’t stay in storage forever.

5.  Deep depression after a character or series ends.  I’m not just sad, I need to stay in bed and mourn for days.  This also applies to having to wait for a new season – see: Sherlock.

6.  All our vacations revolve/involve some sort of fandom.  The other night we watched A Midnight in Paris and I told him I really only cared about going to Pere Lachaise in Paris because a lot of the artists buried there completely influenced my own art.  Morbid, yes, but arguably sweet.  I also really want to visit the park named after Jamie Farr in Toledo.  I will go great lengths to see very mundane things, people!

 

So there you have it.  This list is not exhaustive though, but I don’t have hours to spend making a list with 300+ points.  In all seriousness, Zach generally has fun with (some of) this stuff, and he has his own things he is “geeky” about.

I just take it to an uncomfortable new level.

Racing Through the Summer

OK so summer isn’t officially here yet.  In fact, it’s actually snowing here.  A lot.  Like, I shoveled my driveway and sidewalk.  Gotta love the effects of climate change!

I’m excited for summer though.  So excited, that my husband and I planned out at least a 5k a month through to December.  Some, like the BolderBoulder, will be a little more (10k).  Now, to seasoned runners, this may not seem like a big deal.  But it is a huge deal to me!  I have never been a runner.  Honestly, I’m not really a runner now, I’m so slow.  With the exception of recreational dancing, I just didn’t really care about or even consider fitness.

Ever since I had my accident where I got hit by a taxi while walking in NYC, I became hyper-aware of my body.  I never really knew how much my body did until, for instance, I couldn’t lift up my left leg on its own.  Or even crawl around on the floor.  It was frustrating.  I eventually became so discouraged and depressed I convinced myself I just couldn’t do anything anymore and resigned myself to being limited.

That’s when I started gaining weight.

For the first time ever, I became technically overweight.  It wasn’t this dramatic thing, but to me, it consumed my entire world.  I hated myself.  I was resentful of myself.  It was this weird hate cycle that never ended.

And by the way, hating the fact I was gaining weight never actually amounted to any weight loss.  Neither did restricting my calories.  That only led to temporary weight loss and even more resentment.

So after throwing my back out and being bed ridden for the billionth time, I decided to seek physical therapy and chiropractic care.

It actually pisses me off a little how fast that it all worked, because I should have done that from the get-go.  But my doctors said I wouldn’t need it.  Pssh, doctors.

Basically, after two months, I felt better than I had ever felt in my entire life.  I started strengthening muscles I’m pretty sure I never used, I became flexible enough to touch the ground again and I didn’t feel pain for the first time in years.  Holy crap.  Even though I’m not at my “ideal” weight right now, I am physically more able to do things, and have more energy to do them, than I did at 16 years old.

This whole experience has made me readjust how I see myself.  Sure, I would like to have my body look a certain way.  But I am WAY more focused in being strong and healthy and happy.  Eat lots of veggies.  Strength train.

Run.

 

How to Stay Encouraged in a Discouraging Situation

This is kind of a “part two” or follow-up post on my first gardening post.  But I didn’t want to label them all the same for fear of boring myself and readers.  Also, certain things have fallen at the wayside, and… well, I’ll get to that in a bit.

This week has been rainy.  Despite that, I managed to get some things done in our yards, though not anywhere near what I had originally wanted.  The flip-side to having to stay indoors half of the week is that I finally got to catch up on my classwork (which is going well, and I’m further convinced I’ve made the right choice in doing so).  I’m in a bit over my head with all these projects, and naturally, some of them don’t end up coming to fruition (for now at least).

So what projects aren’t making the cut?

Cosplay.  I have my outfit designed, everything thought out.  But unfortunately, I just don’t have the time, money or resources to get it together this year.  I’m actually very doubtful I’ll even be able to afford to attend Denver Comic Con either.  Luckily, there is next, and I’m already ready.

Acting classes.  There still might be a chance at the end of the year to enroll in winter sessions, but I’m just going to have to give up on this one.  Again, it’s a cash-flow problem.  I did, however, fulfill by resolution to act in a film, and I was in five, so I consider that a success.  But I would love to pursue it further.

The garden.  Yup, this isn’t making the cut this year.  Again.  While I’m incredibly disappointed with putting off the other projects, this one breaks my heart.  I’ve been dreaming of my garden for a good part of 3 years.  Unfortunately, other things take precedence.  For instance, the number one goal I listed in the previous post – safety.  We need to make the yard safe.  The more we clean up the more we see how important it’s safe (we found a pipe in our front yard).  And then there’s the fence – it’s more expensive than we were expecting, so it’ll take us longer to complete it.  We’ve already drained our savings into it!

On top of it all, we are doing all the labor ourselves.  I’m so thankful my dad is around to help me with things like… pick-axing and chopping things… because my husband works a lot so I’m left with quite a bit of dirty work to do.

It’s a big project, and it’ll take time.  But it’ll get done.

I know this post is a little bit of a downer, and that’s probably because I’m writing from a place of frustration and stress.  But I know, eventually, this will all get done.  And we will feel great because we did all the work ourselves.  There’s a lot to say to that.

But I swear to god if the furnace breaks I’m burning the place to the ground.

Kidding.  I love my house.  And it generally loves me back.  It just needs a whole lot of love.

So this may be the last of my “big” project gardening posts for a while, because I don’t want to be boring with reno pictures.  But I will update at the end of the summer with a “cleaned up” outdoor space.

Until then, here are a couple before and after pictures:

Here's the before
Here’s the before
After.  I pulled all the grass and weeds by hand!
After. I pulled all the grass and weeds by hand!
My dad taking down the dog-run fence.  We will re-purpose it elsewhere in the yard.
My dad taking down the dog-run fence. We will re-purpose it elsewhere in the yard.
Trying to chop out the bases.
Trying to chop out the bases.
This is where we are keeping our junk to throw away.
This is where we are keeping our junk to throw away.

Planting a Garden: Part One

This weekend we embarked on one of our biggest adventures yet: building our garden.

Let me clarify.  Not so much garden, as gardenS in both the front and back yards and also putting up a new fence.  It is a daunting task, and we’ve only nicked off the tip of the iceberg.  This weekend we came up with some plans, got supplies, and starting taking down the enormous bush in our front yard.  Before we can do anything, we have to clean out everything.

We have three main goals for this project:
1) Make the yard safe.  Right now, we are dealing with several years of neglect from previous owners.  Cigarette butts littered about, trash, sharp object ranging from… everything, and lots and lots of cat poop from the neighbor’s cat.  The fence is also a complete mess on one side (pictures next week), enabling our dogs to be able to jump over.  On the other side, the fence has nails sticking out everywhere.  This is not only not safe for our dogs, but also not ideal for kids.
2) Make the yard functional.  Right now, there’s not a whole lot you can do in either yard.  The back has a tiny place to sit, but there’s not much else to do.  The back gardens will be dedicated to food production, and the front will be dedicated to Colorado friendly flowers and plant-life, so as to not kill our water bill.
3) Make the yard aesthetically pleasing.  I have a feeling this will fall into place as number one and two are accomplished.  Yes, curb appeal is important, especially for the front.  For the back, it’s nice for when we have company over.

We didn’t originally plan on taking out the bush this weekend.  It just sort of happened.  We had planned on going for a hike with the dogs, but instead woke up, made a huge yummy breakfast for everyone, and just sort of wandered outside and started working.  We wheeled everything to the back yard, because next week, we are getting a huge dumpster (or two) to removed all the crap in both yards.

The beginning of the project was easy:

photo 1
This is my dad chopping up the bush.
photo 2
Even Layla was bored at how easy it was going.

But then we got to the base of the trunks and roots.  My dad and husband took turns chopping at it.  It took a few hours.

My husband and dad trying to shovel a spot to hit the trunk.
My husband and dad trying to shovel a spot to hit the trunk.
Husband mid-swing.
Husband mid-swing.

Eventually we got it out, and now we have a clear space.  Apparently our neighbor was none too happy, but that is probably because they were able to hide their garbage and store other things under our bushes…

The bare spot.  Now we need some dirt and mulch and clear out some rocks!
The bare spot. Now we need some dirt and mulch and clear out some rocks!

I also found out I was incredibly allergic to this bush.  I could barely breath after helping move it to the back and any place that it had contact with my skin I developed a huge rash (still have a bit of a rash left over).  So I’m even more glad it’s gone.  I can literally breath easier.

Here’s a couple pics of the bush in the mulch pit in the back:

It takes up almost half of our giant mulch pit!
It takes up almost half of our giant mulch pit!
Close up.
Close up.

You will also note all the debris from when we got rid of our shed last weekend.  Boy, what a project!

Next weekend will be fun though.  We will have some friends over and have a dumpster party, grilling and all!

Coding and Software Programming: The Language of Tech

Woah, Meg.  That title sounds awfully dry for an artist’s blog.

I swear this blog post isn’t going to as dry as the title would suggest.  In fact, during this short blog, I’m going to try and make it sound interesting, and make the case of why everyone with a computer should make the effort to familiarize themselves with basic coding and a programming language.  Because, why not?  Why can’t this blog be about cooking and gardening and cosplay and computers and travel?  Huh?  Tell me why?? Oh, hard to categorize?  Oh well…

Don’t worry, next week I’ll be back to gardening adventures.

So let’s start from the beginning.  Let’s take a trip to childhood…

Some of you may be aware (or even remember!) that computers didn’t come with an easy-to-use operating system like the ones we use today.  I remember playing on my older sister’s computer, some gorilla/king kong type game that was completely played through keyboard commands and coming up with angle degrees in order to move him around the city buildings (bonus internet points to whoever knows the name to that game).  It was basic.  Black screen.  The graphics were pixelated green.  I had to remember the command to even start the game.  The screen kind of looked like this bad boy:

FreeDOS_Beta_9_pre-release5_(command_line_interface)_on_Bochs_sshot20040912

That was about the extent of my computer experience.  I didn’t have computer classes in my schools until high school (I went to some pretty poor elementary schools).  And the classes in high school were just how to use Excel and Word, nothing fun.  And it was all related to whatever science class I was in.  I think there were “computer science” classes, but they weren’t on the regular curriculum, and I definitely was not aware of them.

After high school, I bought my first computer – a Dell desktop.  I didn’t know how to use it, and I had my boyfriend at the time hook it up because apparently matching the colored wires in the back was just too daunting for me… I actually don’t think I used that thing for anything other than AIM chat, writing papers, and… yeah that was it.  I still used CDs…  I’m pretty sure I contracted a virus every week because I didn’t understand ANYTHING.  Within 4 years that thing wouldn’t even turn on.

In college, I bought my second computer, a monster HP laptop that weighed 400lbs and was the love of my life.  This is when I started getting better at computers.  It was also the first time I successfully removed TWO worms I accidentally downloaded and started paying attention to the security of my computer.  I took some tech classes because I realized I didn’t really know anything about something I used on an daily hourly basis.

Now I’m 28 years old, and I’m taking courses in computer science and teaching myself how to code.

Why, oh why am I going on this rant?

Because I strongly believe that owning and using technology without really understanding it, is not a whole lot different than a pilot flying a plane without really understanding how that works.  Yeah, I suppose you can get by, but if something goes awry, how can you troubleshoot?  Sure, any time your computer is on the fritz, I suppose you can take it to the Geek Squad or the Geniuses and spend stupid amounts of cash to fix a problem you more than likely can (and should) take care of yourself (granted, there ARE some problems better left to professionals).

As for code?  Well, familiarizing yourself with basic coding language is like learning a language in a foreign country – it’s a lot easier to get by.  Language is culture.

I’m not saying everyone needs to be able to put up an interactive website at a moment’s notice or personalize their operating system.  But it’s not that hard to become familiar.  It actually can be a little fun even.  I’m not a math whiz, and like I tried to make clear, was not really exposed to computers early in life.  I like gardening and cooking and making weird art projects.

So if anyone wants to take the leap, check out CodeAcademy.  It’s free, it’s interactive, and customizable.  Learn as little or as much as you want.

Next week on travelin’ home – raised garden beds and Julian Assange: how the right plant soil protects your source seeds.

****Just FYI, I am not in any way endorsed by or affiliated with CodeAcademy.  I just love them so much.****