helen

I’ve written and deleted a whole lot here, but I just don’t really know what to say. My grandma passed away a couple weeks ago. It was not sudden, but it is still sad. Mostly I just wanted to write down some memories, so instead of coming up with a good segue I’m just going to start a list:

Grandma was an amazing cook, as grandmas often are. She made the best and prettiest lemon meringue pie in the entire world.

Taco Tuesday used to happen every week at the restaurant where she worked, so when Kyle and I would visit in the summer we would always pick up tacos for dinner.

Before I got too old, I would often share a bed with her. Every night, no matter the time of year, she would recite The Night before Christmas, which I totally forgot is actually called “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

Grandma was in charge of walking the dog whenever they had one (Beagles. First there was Clancy, then a little while after he died they got Corkey). We took many, many long walks around the tiny village of Bagley, WI with those dogs.

There used to always be kittens living in the shed out back of the restaurant and she always let us hang out back there and play with them while she worked.

Only grandma could get the perfect ratio of Hershey’s Syrup to milk every time. Related: it was always her idea to make chocolate malts.

She had gold flatware before it was trendy.

She didn’t teach me to crochet, but she was the only person in my family who actively crocheted. We all have so many afghans. She and I both made blankets for Kyle & Jenna’s baby.

Love, you, Grandma. xoxo

gramma

statement hair

As evidenced by my 30 by 30 list, I have been wanting to dye my hair again for quite some time. I think the last time I did was in college. I’d been considering it off and on since then, but was never able to make a decision. Also I didn’t want to go to a salon because $$$. I’m all about the box color, y’all.

Um. Anyway, I read about eSalon on a message board, and saved it in the ol’ memory file. The gist is that you answer some questions about your hair, choose your color, and their stylists customize it for you based on your answers.

Here’s the ridiculous photo I uploaded to eSalon during the questionnaire:

hair before

I also had it cut recently, and got rid of the asymmetrical swoopy thing I had going on.

The color that I ended up choosing was “Darkest Brown Red Mahogany.”

via eSalon

via eSalon

Yes. So dark, so interesting. Spoiler alert: this isn’t quite how mine tuned out!

My order arrived yesterday and, instead of waiting for the weekend like I’d originally planned, I dove in. If you’ve ever dyed your own hair before, the process is the same. Thanks to my short hair, it was extra simple- minus the rinsing process, which still took forever and made my bathtub look like a crime scene.

Wee! Here’s the result:

bande 2

The difference is much greater in person, I think. Depending on the light it might look purpley, reddish, or nearly black. I’m kind of obsessed. Mission accomplished!

PS, if you decide to try eSalon, your first order is only $10 plus shipping. And if you use my link, I get a little deal too. Everybody wins.

a cozy sweater for cold days

During one of this winter’s extra-cold days, I decided it was time to crochet something warm. I poked around Ravelry for a while, and decided this tunic was the one. It wasn’t terribly difficult, although I did have to start over after having made a lot of progress because I realized it wasn’t going to fit. I also lost inexplicably lost count of my stitches while working on the front, so it’s a little narrower than the back… fortunately you can’t tell.

I’m pretty satisfied with how it turned out. I took a risk with the sleeves, not knowing how the style would look on me, but at the end of the day I was just looking for something cozy that I could wear in my cold, cold apartment (when it’s -30 outside, nothing keeps this place truly warm), and that’s what I achieved.

This post is late-coming. I finished the sweater over a month ago, but I have yet to take any pictures. I’ll edit this post to add them once they exist.

ETA: Here are some pictures, finally. The quality is not great, which is the norm for photos taken in my apartment.

Goofy pose #1

Goofy pose #1

Goofy pose #2. The back does lay normally, I assure you.

Goofy pose #2. The back does lay normally, I assure you.

The Baxter California Adventure

I never thought it would happen, but Darren and I just got back from a sunny, warm trip to California. It is unusual for us to do something so extravagant, but a good-sized tax return and some friends willing to house us – savings us a few hundred bucks, which we did end up accidentally spending but I’ll get to that later – provided us with the perfect opportunity.

This idea was actually born the night before Christmas Eve, when some of Darren’s internet pals came over for drinks. Paul and Aleecia are from Eagan, but moved to Orange County last year after Paul got a sweeeet new job. Come out and visit us and we’ll go to Disneyland, they said. And so we did.

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don’t be fooled: this post is not about television.

There are a handful of shows on TV these days that I watch regularly. Most of the time I do that on the weekends via Hulu. Tonight I watched the most recent episodes of Parenthood on NBC (the second-to-last episode of the series!), and Mom on CBS. I also watched the final episode of the unfortunately canceled NBC show A to Z, but this post is happening because of the previous two.

On Parenthood, the family patriarch, Zeek, is  – to make a long story short – dying. He has a heart condition and although they don’t know how much time he has left, it is what it is. Meanwhile, his eldest daughter just got engaged. She’s in her early 40s and has adult children and she’s finally found love. But her dad is sick. She and her fiance Hank have been talking about fancy wedding plans, but with everything going on with her dad Sarah sits down with Hank and explains that she wants to get married locally, and soon, like next week (aka the last episode of the series), because “I just want to make sure that my dad is there.”

And suddenly almost 23 years of FEELINGS came pouring out of my face. There haven’t been many instances in the past couple decades where I’m anything other than matter-of-fact about my father being gone, but apparently I have a trigger. The last time I was overwhelmed with this particular emotion was sometime in the fall probably, when I thought about Kyle and Jenna’s baby-to-be and how dad won’t be here to meet his first/likely only grandchild. So I guess my trigger is Important Life Events That Dads Should Be There For, like weddings and babies.

Anyway, later in the evening I watched CBS’s Mom, and Christy’s dad Alvin, who only recently came back into her and her mom Bonnie’s life, dies suddenly (in the middle of bangin’ Bonnie). Christy spends the episode trying to keep it together for the sake of her kids and Bonnie, but at the very end she’s crying alone in her bedroom. Bonnie comes in to comfort her and at one point Christy says something about how she had so little time with him. Well I was still all fragile after Parenthood so I went ahead and lost it again.

Listen, my brother and I have an awesome stepfather (he and mom will be celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary this summer) who we both have been calling our dad for so long that I don’t remember ever calling him anything else. We’re not lacking in the father department. But shit, man, it sure would be nice to have both of them, y’know?

50 things that made my year

I got this idea from Tim, who was inspired by another blogger. They both went to 100, but I found 50 to be… well, easier.

In no particular order, fifty things that made my year in 2014:

  1. ringing in 2014 in Fort Kickass
  2. yoga
  3. headstands and the other cool stuff I’m learning to do with my body. That sounds dirty.
  4. construction of the Green Line finally finished and now I get to take the train to work
  5. my resolutions for the year: eat more cheese and eat more burritos. Massive successes.
  6. that time the White House had a real-life Big Block of Cheese Day
  7. that genius burrito Kickstarter campaign
  8. the even more amazing Reading Rainbow campaign
  9. we got rid of our janky old car
  10. I learned to knit
  11. PuppyCam happened again
  12. that time Enli and I encountered a squirrel in the yard carrying an entire egg roll in its mouth.
  13. RiffTrax Live was perhaps a life-changing experience.
  14. Clay Aiken ran for Congress, his opponent died, and he still lost.
  15. Finally took Darren to the original motherland of Bagley, WI. It was kind of sad, but I’m glad we made it there anyway.
  16. So many office happy hours.
  17. Peanut Butter Oreos
  18. I started making my own BBQ sauce and life may never be the same.
  19. The horrible upstairs neighbors broke up and moved out.
  20. that time I saw Derek Jeter in real life and spent the rest of the day singing Derek Jeter’s Taco Hole.
  21. Sharknado 2 and the existence of the Sharknado theme song
  22. the day of my oldest brother’s wedding, I learned that my Twinkle is gonna be a dad (in like 2 1/2 months, whaaaat!)
  23. So, yeah: Cody got married, Tyler got engaged, Kyle and Jenna are having a baby. I’m piggybacking off my brothers and their Big Life Events.
  24. that time a bunch of us only worked until noon and then went to a baseball game
  25. playing Goldeneye for the first time in probably 15 years
  26. midterm elections happened and I got to experience the joy of not voting for Mike McFadden.
  27. we went to a hunting-themed wedding where the groom wore a camouflage tuxedo jacket and it made my life.
  28. I watched so much good TV, thanks in large part to Netflix. Psych, Twin Peaks, all of Gilmore Girls, yet another West Wing rewatch… to name a few.
  29. the OMG Literally Dead Instagram account
  30. spending a day swimming and bar-hopping with Brenna, and more friends joining in
  31. lunch on the “patio” at the Blue Door with Kate, in the rain
  32. so many birthday cupcakes!
  33. I finally read The Princess Bride
  34. Other “made my year” books I read: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Hyperbole and a Half, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  35. mom gave us copies of her pregnancy notes so I scanned ’em.
  36. watching Enli and Winston wrestle
  37. I saw a very impressive Beatles tribute show
  38. I made cheese
  39. yet another excellent day at the State Fair
  40. we put in new seats at the Orpheum and it was crazytown.
  41. I crocheted several adorable things for Fetus Johnston.
  42. these ladies
  43. this guy
  44. these little monsters
  45. air plants and my ability to actually keep them alive
  46. when Kelsey’s question for Nick Offerman ended up on the Tonight Show.
  47. this picture of me and my dad
  48. all the things that made (and continue to make) me laugh really hard, like this gif.
  49. meeting a bunch of new friends
  50. many, many excellent cups of coffee.

we like, we like to party

I’m all sick and stuff, which happens every friggin’ year during my holiday break, and Darren very well may be headed down the same street. So thanks mostly to that but also in part to laziness and the bitter cold, we’re staying in for New Year’s Eve. He had to work, but while he was gone I put together an epic holiday feast. A few little milestones happen in 2015 (we both turn 30, plus our 5th wedding anniversary), so we might as well go into it well-fed. Bonus: cooking a multi-course meal is on my 30-by-30 list.

So! Our New Year’s Eve dinner:

  • bread (I used this recipe) with seasoned olive oil for dipping
  • salad
  • potato soup
  • steak seasoned with kona rub from the Capital Grille, and roasted potatoes – we had a bag of potatoes that needed to be used, okay?
  • peach pie – Darren’s favorite. Not homemade, but constructed using refrigerated crusts and canned filling with some extra seasoning.

Yum.

I was hoping to go to a New Year’s Day yoga class in the morning, but the state of my sinuses seems to be working against me there.

Tonight when the clock hits 12, I’ll be watching Roseanne on Netflix, working on one more 2014-centric blog  post, and eating a slice of pie. And possibly also sneezing. Happy New Year!