Sunday, October 18, 2020

Books, Books, Books

#268 do a different physical activity for 12 straight months (7 done)- Primal Misfits daily challenge
I was pretty consistent exercising during the first chunk of quarantine, but this challenge came along at a good time as things dragged on. Someone would pick a different challenge each day (burpees, step ups, etc.) that you would do on the hour from 8am-5pm. Most days you would add on each hour as well (for example do 8 at 8am then 9 at 9am or some days do 10 at 8am, 15 at 9am, and so on). It was a great way for me to stay active, challenged, and connected to the others who were participating.

#51 read Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin
I watched the movie first and then saw there was a book it was based on. The ballet in the movie was beautiful to watch. The book focuses a lot more on his childhood in China before moving on to his experiences in the U.S. It really does make you appreciate how different your life is compared to so many others in the world.
#53 read Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn
It took me a little while to get accustomed to her writing style because it is very much how she was in real life- very choppy and excitable, scattered and jumping from topic to topic. She is one of my favorite actresses and it was so interesting learning more about her life and experiences in Hollywood. She was a brash, quirky, strong woman and if you haven't seen her in anything I'd say that you should start with The Philadelphia Story then follow that with Bringing Up Baby, The African Queen, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

#256 make homemade cheese
I decided this would be easier to do if I just purchased a kit with all of the equipment so I only had to buy the milk. The one I bought was from Standing Stone Farms
I settled on trying to make mozzarella for my first attempt. I read the instructions through so I'd hopefully have the process pretty well down in my head instead of just jumping in. I was ready! Or so I thought. I dumped the milk in the pot, stirred in the citric acid, and got ready to heat it to 88 degrees. Well it turns out that my thermometer didn't go below 120 degrees. Hmmm. I tried googling whether or not I could stop the process at this point and restart it once I bought a new thermometer in the next day or two. I couldn't really find an answer so I got on the website to look there. No answers there either, but they had a number you could call. They said it was a working farm so they might not answer, but I called and actually spoke to one of the owners. She was super helpful and talked me through how to do it without having an accurate temperature reading. She assured me this would not be my best attempt (not that I expected my first one would be), but that it would be edible at least.
Next you add calcium chloride and rennet, heat some more, and remove the curds from the whey. You sprinkle with salt and then microwave the curds. After draining more whey you gently turn the cheese, salt it, and microwave again. You gently fold it with the back of a spoon and continue to microwave it until it looks life taffy. The whole draining, microwaving, and getting it to look like taffy did not go quite as hoped. 
My cheese never really got to the gooey mozzarella consistency. You're supposed to form it into a ball to let it cool and then drop it into salt water to chill and retain its shape. But I couldn't get it to really make a ball so after messing around with it for a bit I got distracted by what I was doing and ended up putting it in the water without letting it cool first. 
So it ended up being more like a log of goat cheese in terms of appearance and texture. The flavor really wasn't too bad (probably could have used more salt but I didn't want to overdo it the first time).
I grabbed some bread, basil pesto, and tomatoes to bake with my cheese. The cheese only softened and didn't really melt, but overall it was pretty tasty for my first attempt.
#52 read The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp
I didn't know what to expect when I was only a third of the way through the book and the movie was already over. : ) It was a beautiful story of family and faith as it shared so much that went on after they came to the U.S. and toured around the country performing.

#268 do a different physical activity for 12 straight months (8 done)- splits stretching
I am not flexible at all, but I was inspired by my friend Carolyn and how she trained herself to do the splits. Here are my before pictures at the beginning of June. Now I probably could have gotten a little deeper stretch (I later purchased yoga blocks to help), but I set the timer on my camera and I didn't have enough time to really ease into my stretches.
The goal was initially to take pictures every month to show my progress, especially since the progress is so great at the beginning. But I didn't. Sorry. I mixed it up occasionally, but mainly did this 10 minute stretching routine by Rachel DeMita every evening. This lasted for a couple of months, but once I was doing some PT exercises too I got away from it more. The progress will be much slower moving forward, but I'm thinking about adding "do the splits" to my 40s list since it wouldn't hurt to continue to work on my flexibility as I get older.

#15 read Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff & James Norman Hall
#16 read Men Against the Sea by Nordhoff & Hall
#17 read Pitcairn's Island by Nordhoff & Hall
I really enjoyed this trilogy and I was even more amazed when I learned that it was inspired by true events. I also like that the second book follows the survival of Captain Bligh and his crew after they are set adrift and the third book follows the story of the mutineers. I currently have a few versions of the movie to watch as well.
 #268 do a different physical activity for 12 straight months (9 done)- Run317 
The Run317 races that we've done the last several years were virtual ones for me this year. Aaron, Carolyn, and I did it together and we set a blazing time. I ran the first mile in a decent pace, but then we just leisurely strolled the rest of the way (except for our traditional sprint to the finish for the last tenth of a mile or so) and I finished with a stellar 61 minute 3.17 miles. Haha that's my kind of running.

#296 be someone's secret admirer
Shhh. I don't know if she reads my blog or not. This started as having these cute little coloring cards that had Psalms on them that came with felt tip pens. I had a friend that I wanted to give them too, but then it morphed into a basket of things. Some of them I couldn't decide if they were cheesy or not, but the coloring items and Starbucks card were really the main presents. She has been an absolute rock star and inspiration as she continues her fight against cancer.

#106 read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Another book where you're just struck by how lucky we are to have been born where we are. It's so heartbreaking to read about his childhood when you know so many other kids around the world have also grown up in such terrible situations.

#268 do a different physical activity for 12 straight months (10 done)- physical therapy & climbing
By July I was back to climbing pretty regularly again. It was definitely a challenge adjusting to climbing in a mask, as well as trying to get my strength and endurance built back up after three months off. Climb Time has done a great job of making it where I feel comfortable being there even though I'm not doing a lot of indoor stuff still. I think this is a picture of us gathered at the gym for Gary's birthday. 
I also finally went to PT to get an injury checked out that happened last year (felt terrible when it first happened but was much improved within a couple of weeks) but was still lingering. I was thinking about going at the beginning of the year since I kept getting emails from ATI saying to come in for a complimentary injury consultation (it's as if they knew I'd probably have injured myself again by now!), but then quarantine happened. Turns out I have a rib injury that's also bothering my rotator cuff, lat, pec, biceps tendon...who knows what else. Apparently there's scar tissue, everything is super tight, and nothing rotates well. Basically in my entire body. Haha this is not really a surprise to me, but I'm glad that Adam & John are taking good care of me and trying to get me back to (better than?) normal.

#39 read The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush & Larry Sloman
This book was absolutely fascinating. Obviously he was a very famous illusionist and escape artist, but there was so much more to him. He was also involved in espionage and a crusade to expose false mediums. Harry's career was filled with a desire to build and protect his brand, but also to entertain others in a way that would immortalize him.
#97 read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
This was a quick, fun read that had a Clue or Knives Out feel to it.

#110 read The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
#119 read The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
With all of the catching up I had to do on books, especially with so many long biographies, it was necessary to have some easier reading on my list. These were still reasonably long, but I finished them over Labor Day weekend. They were a fun read about the future king of England and the girl he falls in love with (a very Harry/Megan feel to it). Thanks for letting me borrow them, Miranda!

#159 complete the StrengthsFinder assessment
This was a Christmas gift several years ago, but I never got around to taking the assessment. And no, I am not making Holly still provide me with a consultation. Here's a summary of my top 5 strengths and a brief description of them:
They look for consensus
They don't enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement
They have certain core values that are unchanging
Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their lives
They take psychological ownership of what they say they will do
They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty

They accept others
They show awareness of those who feel left out and make an effort to include them
They recognize and cultivate the potential in others
They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from evidence of progress
#268 do a different physical activity for 12 straight months (11 done)- Run317 
Race #2 we stopped midway through to take Zuko with us but still shaved 8 minutes off our time. Haha 53 minutes isn't ridiculous still at all, right?

#288 find the right hat 
In case you needed a reminder of some past attempts...
Ok so not a lot of great efforts, I admit. I was hanging out with a few friends who thought it was ridiculous I hadn't done this yet so they literally brought a pile for me to try on one after another. There was one type of ball cap that looked decent.
 And of course Cookie Monster looks awesome,
but this is the one the group voted for:

 Whew. Done! 

#289 do 10 activities that are new or intimidating (8 done)- give Ashleyne a haircut
One of my favorite parts of working on my list over the last 9 years is how friends have jumped in to help me get things crossed off when I start to get bogged down. Like throwing a pile of hats at my feet and making me try them on. Or offering to let me cut their hair if it will help me out. Luckily I had Shilah keeping a watchful eye to make sure I didn't screw anything up too badly or take off an ear. At least Ash is a good sport and since she didn't tell me otherwise, I'm just going to pretend that it was a perfectly wonderful haircut. : )
#140 go to 10 Pacers games (9 done)
#142 go to 10 Indians games (9 done)
I am claiming COVID rules on both of these. We're calling both of these good since I did 9 out of 10.

Ok! There's a big update as we get close to the finish. In case you're wanting the official count, I have 37 things left to do (but only 5 books!) in 25 weeks. Yes, that sounds horrible and overwhelming. No, I'm not completely stressed out by it yet. I have several things that are in process and should be completed in the next couple of weeks. Plus I still have 3 freebies to use and we have created another COVID rule where if I push something to my 40s list I can cross off two things instead of just one for each freebie. I'll hopefully get one more update done in a few months and then it will just be the final one. Eek!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Final Countdown- One Year Left!

Well it's time for another update since we are under a year left. Yikes! I also feel like I should be getting a big chunk of books knocked off the list while being quarantined...we'll see.

#55 read A Kind of Grace: The Autobiography of the World's Greatest Female Athlete by Jackie Joyner-Kersee
It was great to learn more about her background and how she became such an amazing Olympian. It definitely got me excited about the Olympics, even if we have to wait an extra year now.

#40 read Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson
Out of all the books I have read for my list so far, this one is definitely up there in terms of must-reads. For such a justice-oriented person, this was definitely hard to read at times. But it was also challenging in the best of ways as it continued to help me become more aware of the ways others have to deal with things in life that I have absolutely no concept of as a suburban, privileged, white woman.

#268 do a different physical activity for 12 straight months (4 done)...Virtual 465 Challenge
Holly, my cousin Jillian, and I all participated in the inaugural Virtual 465 Challenge. 465 is 53 miles long so we had to log 53 miles over the course of January and February. It could be walking, running, biking, skipping, whatever. There were definitely some miserable days that I had to make myself go out, but I guess that was the whole point. It made me get up and move on days that I would have liked to just stay inside where it was warm.

#294 learn to do something well left-handed
I don't even know how this came about to try it, but it turns out I'm naturally gifted at using my mouse with my left hand. So there you go.

#289 do 10 activities that are new or intimidating (6 done)...partner climb
Climb Time did a fun partner climb for Valentine's Day this year. Holly always sends me videos of cool partner climbs so we were super excited that they created this. Here is a video of my friend Jordan completing it with me. Definitely doesn't hurt to have a partner who is a beast (along with climbing she does CrossFit and Spartan races) and can jump well, but at least I was able to give a nice foot assist at the end.

#221 host a theme party
Hospitality is not one of my spiritual gifts, so I definitely had to take a breath at one point to remind myself that no matter how this turned out I just wanted everyone to have fun. And it was a blast! I hosted a Titanic murder mystery party for my climbing friends.

We were dining at the captain's table so I tried to go all-out with linens, glass dishes & goblets, napkin rings, flowers, etc. We dressed up (it was a relief that I could mostly breathe in my dress all night and miraculously managed a cute hairstyle in 30 seconds before everyone arrived) and even those that didn't have actual characters could take notes and ask questions to try and figure out who the murderer was.

There were also awards for categories like best character and costume. Gary was very impressive with his beard and captain's outfit- he even sewed the gold braid and buttons on his jacket. It was a night filled with fun and laughter.

#28 read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I am still unsure how I feel about this book. I spent most of the book trying to decide if the main character was a sympathetic figure or not. I think I've also determined that when it comes to books and movies, they can cause angst or make me cry in the middle, but I generally want to feel happy or settled at the end. It probably has something to with my faith-oriented outlook on life- life is difficult and full of challenges, but ultimately ends in joy.

#120 read Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy & Jane, and The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay
After reading Crime and Punishment I was definitely in the mood for something a little more light-hearted. While these three books were not without depth, they were definitely more enjoyable. Spoiler alert: if you've read Daddy-Long-Legs, you will figure out Dear Mr. Knightley pretty easily.

#268 do a different physical activity for 12 straight months (5 done)...One Mile March

The month of March brought the One Mile March at Climb Time. This was a fun challenge that I was really happy to get knocked out before the gym was shut down. To reach a mile we had to complete 220 routes. The majority of these routes were ladder routes- ones that are basic straight up and down routes (hence the name). It's a great opportunity to work on endurance and technique as you climb the same route 5-10 times in a row.

#14 read The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
I liked the parts they incorporated into the movie (referring to the Disney cartoon version, obviously). I also just liked the movie better in general because it's a much happier ending for the majority of the characters. Haha these book reviews are thrilling, aren't they?

#283 watch all 7 seasons of Parks & Rec
It's a little ridiculous how long it took me to finally watch this show, but I'm so glad I finally did. There were so many hilarious, endearing characters. It was also fun to see the Colts and Pacers players from back then, especially Roy Hibbert. When my niece Lily was little she decided that "Big Roy" was her favorite player, so it made me smile to see him on there. Here's a sweet flashback to when she was five and I took her to her first Pacers game.

#289 do 10 activities that are new of intimidating (7 done) distancing
Since my list is definitely going to suffer some from everything going on with the pandemic, it's only fair that I can use it for my list as well. While there's a lot that could be said about this experience as a whole, I thought I'd just highlight some of the highs and lows.

~March and April were extremely busy and over-scheduled. Between housesitting multiple times for my parents, staying with Kelli and the kids while Travis was out of town, and going on vacation, I was going to be gone more nights than I was going to be home in my own bed. My weekends were super booked too, so this time of being quarantined has allowed me to have time to rest & recharge.
~Getting to wear comfy clothes alllll the time. I've worked from home about half of every week and even when I'm at the office it's still been a t-shirt and jeans. 
~Bonus high: I can get so much more work done when I'm at the office while it's closed and the phones are turned off. : )

~Not climbing for two months has been really hard, especially since my mother has been baking bread and desserts like crazy! I've really missed being around my community there although we've tried to keep updated on what's going on with each other still. And some of them had some lovely flowers delivered to my house for my birthday.
~It's been hard to do all of our church activities remotely and not get to spend time with everyone. At least youth group games have gone reasonably well despite the difficulties of playing by Zoom.
~This kind of goes along with the first two. Because I haven't been around my church and climbing communities or my family, and I've tried to be really good about social distancing since I'm doing errands for my parents, I've only had two hugs in the last two months. The first couple of weeks were really hard, but then I spent some time in prayer about my attitude as I realized how much harder so many people have it right now. I also determined that it's easier to just not be around anyone when I can't hug them. Kyle gave me a couple of big strong hugs when I saw him one day and I almost burst into tears afterwards. So no more hugs until I can have them all the time!

#22 read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Hooray for another classic crossed off the list. And it was 800+ pages!

#268 do a different physical activity for 12 straight months (6 done)...Wii Fit
So this was kind of fun to bust out the Wii for the time in a couple of years. I consistently used it throughout the month so that I made sure I was getting up and moving since I was sitting a lot more while working from home.

#111 read Good Grammar is the Life of the Party by Curtis Honeycutt
My friend Curtis wrote a book and I highly recommend it! It's super informative and gives great grammar tips, while at the same time showing off his quirky humor. I am hesitant to write anything else as it would only provide more opportunities to make grammatical errors. : )

The grand total with 11 months to go: 104/120 books read and 247/300 total. Well that's slightly more frightening to see that there are 53 items left. But several of the "do 10" of something are mostly done and I only have to average 1.5 books per month, so that's not too bad. I also still have 3 freebies left to do and I have put forth a "pandemic proposal" to the List Master in order to help get some more items crossed off. Here's to a productive last year in my 30s!