30 May 2010

grid project - week 1

What? A title that actually has something to do with the topic of the post? Jessie, that's BANANAS!

Meh, I just figure that with something like the Grid Project, it'll be easier to keep track of (and you can call me out/harass me if I skip a week or something, haha).

So let's get on with it, shall we? I am currently five days into the Project and going strong. Here's a look at my exciting week:

Tuesday, May 25: Began the Grid Project.
I figure I can put this as a legitimate activity, because I had to make a giant grid to put on my wall...and I've really never done anything like that before, so I figure that making the decision to start the Project can count. :)

Wednesday, May 26: Planted some flowers in a pot and put them in my window.
Pansies! I bought them at a local farmers market and then went and got myself a pot and some organic dirt...err, potting soil? Either way, the end result is the same: they're in a pot, in some dirt. I did have a bit of a bug problem when I first got them, but I think that's pretty much under control. What I love about pansies is how they communicate. I mean, I've never had flowers before (only green plants), so I don't know if this is a general flower-thing, or a pansy-thing, OR just a these-particular-flowers-thing...but they definitely get reeeeeally droopy when they're thirsty. The first day after I potted them, I woke up to find them basically flopped over on their side going, "Waaaaaa...ter..." in a raspy, I'm-in-the-desert-and-will-certainly-perish kind of way. But then I watered them and an hour later they were all like, "HOORAY! Let's be ALIVE!" So there you go.

Thursday, May 27: Ate Lebanese food.
If I were being honest, I'd tell you that I actually ate Lebanese food on Wednesday while I was on what I didn't know was a terribly awkward and horrible blind date until we were about to leave, but I'm just...not going there. Anyway, I did have leftovers on Thursday, so I figure it's close enough. I had an exciting shish kabob pita roll at a place called Aladdin's Eatery, and it was really intense. I mean, it had turnip in it. Turnips are purple, and kind of look like purple lettuce when you cut them up. For anyone who knows me fairly well, you may or may not know that I am very prejudiced against purple lettuce...I always pick it out of my salad, even the smallest little bits. I don't know why, but I've been doing it ever since I can remember. It's kind of a complex, I guess. But I did not pick out any of the purple turnip in my pita roll (well, except one, and then I decided not to do it anymore, for the sake of my personal growth and development).

Friday, May 28: Made homemade cookie cutters.
This one's pretty self-explanatory, I think. And you can make some too...here's how! I made some pretty cool shapes, based on the recommendations of some lovely folks on Facebook: a star, a tree, a turtle, and a hat.

Saturday, May 29: Went shopping at Trader Joe's for the first time.
I've heard about this lovely store that has lots of good things...lots of naturals and organics and whatnot. And I know for a fact that they have excellent dark chocolate covered cranberries, because my friend Christa sent them to me once (and my life will never be the same)! I feel like Trader Joe's is a good place if you need something extra fancy (or special...like gluten-free stuff), but there's no way that I could ever shop there on a regular basis. Everything there is...kinda expensive. I also bought some quinoa (it's pronounced keen-wa), and I'm hoping to make some chicken quinoa soup for the Grid Project in the near future.

Okay, I'll post another GP update next Sunday. For now...I think I'm going to try a baguette recipe.

24 May 2010

you should try pringles and cottage cheese together sometime

I've been thinking a lot recently about the last year of my life, and all the crazy sh...tuff that has occurred.

One year ago, my mom was recovering from surgery after being diagnosed with breast cancer. My sister and I were both back in Minnesota. I didn't have any real plans other than to "find a job." And now, my mom is healthy. I'm sitting in an apartment--my apartment--in Pennsylvania of all places. I have a job doing what I love. It's nuts to think about all the challenges and the blessings that I've experienced.

And today, I came across a reflection/article. It got me thinking, and it gave me an idea.

I'm going to recreate the grid from that article and put it on my wall. Each day, I will do one new/exciting/fulfilling/exceptionally awesome thing and write it in the square for that day. And I'm going to do that for a full year. I'll try really hard not to repeat anything (though it might happen, depending on the nature of the activity). I'm calling it my 2010-11 "Grid Project."

So I will do my best to give you a Grid Project update once a week. We'll say...oh, I don't know. How about Sundays? I'll figure it out. Either way, I hope you enjoy the Project as much as I do!

Now, I'm sure you probably have a couple good ideas of things I can do. Leave it in the comments or call me and tell me about it or something! Love you, miss you, blah blah blah...

21 May 2010

orange soda floats

Sorry it's been a while. Life is fun like that.

I have an ant problem in my kitchen. Big time. I know where they're coming from--there's a gap behind the stove, and they crawl up from there onto the countertop and crawl along the edge to the sink. They only go that far for a reason, though. Like cookie dough. Man oh man, do they love cookie dough...especially if it's the last little bit in the bowl soaking in the sink. Trust me, I make cookies enough to notice the corresponding behavioral patterns of ants. Most of the time, I'm pretty good about cleaning up after myself...but the ants usually come out if I make a late night batch and forget to wash up my dishes before I head to bed.

BUT! I have found a solution. I can't remember where I read/heard it, but ants hate cinnamon. Like, HATE it. They also really don't like lemon juice. So I put cinnamon and lemon juice all around the area where they normally come out. I know I'm treating the symptoms instead of the cause, but I tried those little poison houses and they really just didn't work...plus all those chemicals kind of freak me out. At least with the cinnamon and lemon juice, I don't see them nearly as often. So that is something interesting happening in my life right now.

My friend Erika (from high school!) came to visit overnight last weekend! She came here with two of her aunts--one of them was here for a physical therapy conference or something, and the other was with us on Saturday. It was super exciting to see Erika and show her around Pittsburgh...even though we took detours the entire time because I still can't quite figure out how to get from one place to another in this ridiculous city. We went to the Pittsburgh Zoo and the Carnegie Science Center (which was awesome), caught the view from Mt. Washington, and of course made a stop at Primanti Bros. in the Strip District before bidding Erika and her aunt farewell. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday in the Burgh!

Other than that, things have been pretty normal. I can't believe how fast these last few months have gone by! It legitimately kind of freaks me out.

Okay, well...I'm going down to South Side for St. Teresa's annual women's retreat. The Passionist Fathers at St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center put it on every year, and one of my "moms" offered to pay my way, for which I am super grateful! So I guess I'll catch you on the flip side! I'll try to appease my loyal followers (coughcoughSARAcoughcough) and write more often upon my return.

PS: I am VERY excited about farmers market season in the Burgh! It's finally here!!!

07 May 2010

grapefruit is delicious!

I uploaded a quick video on the 'Tube a little bit ago, so I just wanted to let you know! It's kind of random, but I want to do a few random videos every once in a while just so you know I'm still alive and that I LOVE YOU! So...yeah! You can check out my YouTube channel or watch it below.

I'm heading off to Virginia to see Miss Pasutti today...should be a good little weekend trip! Springtime in this area is gorgeous, so I'm looking forward to the drive as well.

Okay, well...have a wonderful weekend! Love you, miss you, blah blah blahhhhh...

04 May 2010

run joey run!

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Jessie.

(I will forego telling this story in the third person, because it will be exceedingly difficult and quite annoying.)

So in March, I go to Target to buy a TV...because we all know how much I love Target. So if you work at Target, when you see a guest that you haven't seen before, you are supposed to ask them, "Can I help you find something?" And the answer is usually, "No, I'm just looking" and the underlying message is, "Bugger off, I'm in a hurry." WELL, on this fateful day, I go to Target, and I have lots of questions because clearly a purchase this big should be an informed one. So when the electronics team member, a guy about 1-2 years younger than I, approaches me and asks me if he can help me find something, I say, "Actually, yes!" and I proceed to ask questions and blah blah blah. Again, I have a lot of questions. Well, I think somehow this team member (who, by the way, I did not find attractive in any way...not to say he was particularly UN-attractive, but definitely not my cup of tea at all) must have thought that I was flirting with him or something...because apparently asking questions about the number of pixels in a television just screams "Heyyyyy there, fella!" So he starts talking to me about other things. Lots of other things. A full hour's worth of other things. Of course I'm too nice to just say, "Give me my TV and let me LEAVE, ya creep!" so he just keeps rambling on. And of COURSE in the midst of all his jabbering I still have lingering questions about my television purchase, so I can't just walk away anyhow. But in addition to telling me stories about this and that, he randomly throws in things like, "You seem like a really awesome girl, so..." (RULE #1: Never call me a girl. Ugh.)

If you want to know the kinds of things he talks about, here are two examples:
1. "So you're from Minnesota? South Dakota's near there, right? I drove through South Dakota once with a bunch of my buddies while we were following this band on tour, and one night, we were at a hotel and I saw a dude commit suicide by jumping out the third story window." (YEAH.)
2. Me: "I hate the saxophone a lot." (EDIT: Someone came up with a Dave Matthews Band CD and he asked if I liked DMB, and I said that I would except I hate the saxophone a lot.)
Creepy Dude: "Okay, so hypothetically...and this is just for the sake of the story...let's say it's a few years down the road. We're married (what?), got a couple of kids (WHAT?!), and one day, you come home from work and catch me playing the saxophone. What do you do?"
Me: "Instant divorce. Oh crap, I'm late for choir practice." (Not even kidding on that...I really was late.)

And to top it all off, even though the TV is actually very light and the box has very accessible handles, and even though I said, "It's okay, I've got it," he decides that he needs to call someone from another department over to watch the electronics boat while he carries the thing out to my car, claiming that "it's all part of the Target experience." Trust me, I know about the elements of the Target experience, and having one's TV carried to one's car by a creeper is not a part of that equation.

After that, I vowed never to return to that Target store ever again.

Fast-forward to Sunday, May 2. Before I go any further, you should know that there are two Target stores within my general vicinity...in fact, it takes exactly the same amount of time to get from my apartment to both of them. So if I ever need to go to Target, I always go to the one that does not contain the creeper. But next door to the Creeper Target, there is a Sam's Club where I go sometimes to buy youth ministry stuff. For Sunday's youth group meeting, I needed to get some juice boxes, shaving cream, two hula hoops, a bouncy ball, and some play-doh, so I headed up to Sam's. However...Sam's does not have toys. I was already running a bit short on time, so...I had no choice but to go to the Creeper Target (though believe me, I considered driving fifteen minutes in the opposite direction to avoid it). I walked into the store, already freaking out because the toy section is right across the aisle from the electronics boat and AHHHHH what if he's there and he tries to talk to me and blah blah blah?!?! I generally overthink things anyhow, so I was feeling a bit paranoid about the whole thing. Clearly.

I walked to the back side of the toy section, and I was literally peeking around every aisle (like a ninja) to see if he was there. After sneaking around for a little bit, I saw the hula hoops and got really excited! But before I could take a closer look, I saw...him...and freaked out. I immediately turned around and walked away really quickly to get my head together, and to get the shaving cream on the other side of the store. I actually contemplated changing the activities for youth group so I wouldn't have to go back to the toy section, but I knew I couldn't completely give up because the things we were doing were SUPER FUN.

And then...I got a brilliant idea. So I confidently walked back to the toy section, ready to put my genius plan into action. When I rounded the corner, I got out my phone, and just as I approached the hula hoops for the second time, I "answered" it. As you may or may not know, I am really good at engaging in fake telephone conversations...so that's what I did for ten minutes as I looked for the play-doh and bouncy balls. I figured the plan would work on multiple levels:
1. No stranger would ever interrupt a telephone conversation unless absolutely necessary.
2. Why would I even think to look over at the electronics section if I were so engrossed in conversation? That's right, no possibility of eye contact.
3. I really like engaging in fake telephone conversations.

And that is the story of how I avoided a creeper. Looking back, I wonder why I didn't actually call someone...I guess #3 above may have something to do with it...

So what about you? Any fun creeper stories to tell?

Love you, miss you, blah blah blah...

01 May 2010

hey...this coffee table wasn't here before!

I know I said that I would try and get the video of the focaccia bread up when I got back, but SCREW THAT because I got frustrated and I'm a loser who gives up at the first sign of a challenge. And by that I mean I tried for a couple of HOURS to get it to work and it just didn't. So. No focaccia bread video for you! But for what it's worth...it was absolutely lovely.

So you may recall that I was away on retreat from Tuesday to Friday. I went up to Erie and spent some time with the Benedictine Sisters there, and it was exactly what I needed. The Sisters are wonderful and gracious, and they're so good at the whole Benedictine hospitality thing (which makes sense, I suppose). I stayed in a hermitage out in the woods, which has a nice little living room, a full kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, and is about a five minute walk from the main building. "The Mount," as they call it, houses their chapel, library, and dining room, in addition to their living space, offices, and guest rooms. It was an awesome four days that I will surely look back on with fondness...especially on those days when I want to throw in the towel and give up my ministry forever (because everyone has those days every once in a while)! I was able to read a couple of really good books, color a picture with some crayons, and do a lot of journaling.

I wanted to share a bit of what I wrote on Wednesday:
Back in January, I heard this quote by St. Francis when I was on the youth ministers' retreat, and it really stuck with me: "Who we are before God is all we are, and nothing more." I think I've grown from that so much--just the fact that I could acknowledge my brokenness before God was (and continues to be) an important part of experiencing God's boundless love. Because that's just it: God's love doesn't stop when I'm angry with God, or when I don't pray, or when I sin, or when my trust in the Church is shattered. The love of God is always true, always present, always boundless.

Of course, this isn't an excuse for me to slack off spiritually or turn my back on the Church altogether. That's where the whole faith thing comes in. But it's good to be reminded that God's love is bigger than all the drama and the flaws...and that's the biggest thing that I got out of my retreat. It seems so simple, doesn't it?

And I definitely learned a lot of other things about myself and God and all that jazz...but I'm sure you'll understand if I don't write out all my ultra-personal journal entries here. :)

For what it's worth, the books I read were The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser and The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. They're both excellent books that I would highly recommend!

I'm so drawn to the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. Their community has so much life, and you can just feel the Holy Spirit running around the place like crazy! So...I've decided that I'm going to start the process to become an oblate with them. Basically, an oblate is a layperson (not a nun, Mom--DON'T WORRY, haha) who has a job and a family and all that, but who makes a formal commitment to the Benedictine way of life, especially to prayer (Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist) and the Benedictine values. Oblates commit to a particular religious community--in my case, to the Benedictine Sisters in Erie--to their ministries and to financial support of the community if able.

So that's what I'm doing! And now, I'm going to bed. My system is still a little off...I went to prayers with the Sisters at 6:30 each morning, so I had to be in bed pretty early. Also, last night I went to bed at 7:45 because I had a killer headache...and I woke up this morning at 9:00. Dang.

Okie dokie, that's all! Love you, miss you, blah blah blah...