Sunday, December 30, 2012

I am the Captain of My To-Do List

It is time once again.  Time for a New Year's Accounting. 

Another year in the can?  How can this be?  

This year more than ever before I face the coming turnover with a greater measure of anxiety than in the past.
"ohh, I'm too blue for work... oh wait, I don't work, I'm a dog."

I know that a small life is nothing to be ashamed of.  And yet I feel like this past year has been filled with more disappointments than happy accidents.  More missed opportunities than bridges built.  

Still, I think this past year I have planted seeds.

I have broken down obstacles, and I have swept away the dust.

Each year I try to say I will do something I've never done.  
  • I got a new job.
  • I volunteered with the elderly (once only, I admit)
  • Went to a Reds game (twice)
at least the weather was nice
  •  Took D to a soccer match (twice)
Columbus Crew: Rentariaaaaa!
  •  Went to a Seahawks game (in Detroit)
Nailbiter game
  •  (Finally) went to Shakespeare in the park
Taking the dog seems like a good idea: it is not.

Each year I try to go somewhere I've never been.

And I try to accomplish something.

Completed Home Improvement Projects: 
  • Planted the front garden. 
  • Built a small plot where once there had been a vine orgy and assorted buried bricks and trash and a laundry pole.
  • Built and installed closet shelves for office.  
  • New external doors to replace some really crappy doors in pretty poor shape.
  • Massively de-junked and reorganized the basement storage (thank youuu holiday vacation)
And what do I want for 2013?

  • Help the front garden survive and thrive.  
  • Replant (the poppies didn't make it.  dunno why...) (and the irises never flowered...)
  • Hopefully the lilac survives, and it should, since we murdered the honeysuckle that was choking it.  If it does,we will finally prune the lilac in the spring after it blossoms.  Because as of now, it still looks like an unholy mess. Albeit slightly less unholy now that the honeysuckle is gone.
  • Plan and plant the veg garden.  (we are weighing options to keep the groundhogs at bay...)
  • Replace the gutters. 
  • Paint the basement floor (it's gross)
And other than this?  This, which is really just a home improvement To-Do list?  Isn't there more?  
Of course.  I have things I want and the means to walk the road to get them.   

I am still and always a work in progress.  

I have some regrets, but here at the end of the year I want to lay them down, in the hopes that they create a more fertile ground.  So that next year is better.  Braver.  Stronger.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

(Invictus, William Earnest Henley) 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fall Preparations. Of the Raking and the Baking.

A few weekends back was the 25th annual Prepare Affair.

This year Cincinnati's non-profit construction company People Working Cooperatively coordinated around 3,000 volunteers providing assistance to low income elderly and disabled people.  This year volunteers raked leaves and cleaned gutters and helped out at 1,000 homes in the Cincinnati area.

A charitable endeavor, and more about what you can do with your own hands than how much money you can give.  It was quite stressful playing coordinator for an army of Good-Deed-Doers.  But our good deed was done by noon, with plenty of time to enjoy the gorgeous day we were blessed with.  

Ye, this is how we did procrastinate away from our own leafy mess

Then there came the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving.  In years past we have gone hither and yon, to D's parents and to my parents, which are both hours away and hours apart.  This year my parents (and my aunt) made the drive down to us... and then slept for a goodly portion of the visit.  I'd like to call "Do-Over!" .... But (sadly) I'm pretty sure this was a one-time Thanksgiving at Casa de O-Town.   

We prepared a dinner of turkey chili and turkey soup for my parents, and a cookie plate.  But the cookies were the real stars, and no mistake.  

punkin cookies and backup tollhouse cookies
The first to disappear were the drool-inducing Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies stuffed with Nutella by AmbitiousKitchen.  I did not add sea salt per her awesome recipe, and only used dark chocolate and milk chocolate chips.  No semi-sweets were added.  These cookies suffered no detriment from my subtractions.  "Enjoy," Monique says, and we did.  There were no survivors. 

By no means do I wish to deter you from making these.  They are my new favorite cookie.  They would have been a knockout without the nutella.  Here I mean to caution you.  When you are trying to delicately ball up chocolate chip cookie dough around nutella, you may suffer a Rage Embollism.  I so nearly did.  D got so enraged that he shook off his hands and stomped out of the kitchen.  The cookies are not pictured in the photo above.  (Those are the Safety Measure Tollhouse cookies that D bought just in case we were Recipe-Betrayed by the internet. ) 

Au contraire.  These cookies were perhaps the best I've ever made.

I took no photos because I was exhausted after handcrafting these Holy OmNom Grenades. (There is Recipe and CookiePorn to be found at AmbitiousKitchen's blogsite) I may not add the nutella next time I make them, but the chocolate chip cookie dough itself is strong enough to stand alone.  But as a Share-Type cookie, these nutella babies will wow your friends and enemies alike.  

The second batch, only slightly less awesome but also a new O-Town Tradition are the Iced Pumpkin Cookies from AllRecipes.  The dough is pictured above.  

These are crazy easy, and gratifying.  They smell and taste fantastic.  We will be making these again too, they are perfect for fall or whenever you want a bit more spice along with your sweet.  
We added cardamom, because we put it in everything we can conceivably put it in.  

Happy Cookie Season!