End of 2008 Questionnaire

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
Tutored AP BC Calculus. Holy moly.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t make them, because then I can’t break them. I try to resolve to do things on a random Tuesday because I find I’m more likely to keep to it than if I attach resolutions to a particular day or event.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
RaRa did. 🙂

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Jerry’s dad. 🙁

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
A functional knee.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 24 – Lasik surgery.
October 11-18 – Trip to Disney World.
November 24 – FIL died.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I finished more quilts than I started.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Gaining so much weight after knee surgery.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Again with the knee.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Photoshop CS3 and a MacBook. Two things.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Helen performed in a dance recital and didn’t freak out about it. I was gleeful that my shy little child doesn’t appear to have stage fright.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Mine. I lost my patience with my children more times that I would have liked. I’m trying very hard to be better, and it’s improving. But I was very, very unhappy with myself for most of the year.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Lasik, Disney, and the IRS for the stupid estimated taxes based on LAST year’s income, even though I made less than half as much tutoring this year. OUCH.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Digital Scrapbooking and Disney World!

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
“Umbrella” by Rihanna. Because I was a devotee of “Step it Up and Dance” on Bravo! and they did a performance to this song in one of the challenges and it was AMAZING.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? sadder, mostly because of the recent death of FIL.
b) thinner or fatter? fatter, dammit.
c) richer or poorer? poorer, because of Disney, Lasik, and taxes.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercising, even though I don’t really enjoy it. But I couldn’t have done it anyway.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Eating junk.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family. 🙂

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

22. What was your favorite TV program?
CSI, I guess.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Sarah Palin. Hate’s a strong word, though. I just don’t like her.

24. What was the best book you read?
“The Time Traveler’s Wife”

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
…. this is going to sound weird, but music is a very private experience to me. So I don’t tend to talk about it much. But I have new music that I really like, and that’s all that’s important here, right?

26. What did you want and get?
Lasik, a MacBook and Photoshop CS3. 🙂

27. What did you want and not get?

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Considering I really only get to see children’s movies, I’m going to have to say “Enchanted.” If that wasn’t this year, then I’ll say, “Bedtime Stories.” I can’t remember the last grown-up movie I saw in the theatre.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We told the girls that we were going to be going to Disney World with 60% of their grandparents, three cousins, and their aunt and uncle. I was 35. GREAT birthday. 🙂

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Besides the obvious answer of keeping FIL alive and well, I’d have to say not having hurt my knee. Definitely. Because we’d have more money that wasn’t spent on Physical Therapy or medications, I wouldn’t have gained this much weight, and I wouldn’t have gotten depressed by the pain, money, weight, or lack of exercise.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Fat. Clothes.

32. What kept you sane?
Quilting and digital scrapbooking.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Pretty interested to see what Barack Obama does in office.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Uhhhh…. Not a particular single thing, but I was just very horrified by the actions of extreme supporters on both sides of this election. People were appalling.

35. Who did you miss?

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Sioux! I finally got to meet her!! 🙂

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Life is short, and we do not have much time. So make haste to love and be quick to be kind to those on the journey with us. …. This is something that our Associate Interim Rector says at the end of our church services on Sunday. I think it’s lovely. I may not have it exactly, but I’m trying to memorize it before his tenure with us is done.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Here it goes, here it goes, Here it goes again.”

Picture of the girls from Christmas Eve

Yes, we went to Five Guys Burgers & Fries for dinner on the way home from church. 🙂

(If you like these outfits, I am licensed by the pattern company to make and sell them. Email me if you’re interested in discussing it further.)

Edited to add closeups of the outfits:

jacket front

I covered the raw edge of the facing with the bias trim for a more finished look.
inside facing of jacket with bias edge

jacket back

skirt front with bias-piped pockets

Skirt back has a kickpleat! So cute!
skirt back with kickpleat

Thai Coconut Soup

Jerry doesn’t much care for Asian food because he gets hungry 30 minutes later, but he loves Mexican food. Elaine has occasional heartburn with Mexican food so she avoids jalapenos, but she loves Asian food.

Thai: the compromise.

There’s a restaurant very close to our house, Surin of Thailand, that has an incredibly delicious soup that they serve at lunchtime. Tonight I made a Weight Watchers recipe that is very, very similar in flavor.

Thai Coconut-Chicken Soup, from the “In No Time” cookbook, page 99.
Serves 4, 6 WW Points per serving.

2 stalks fresh lemongrass, minced (I used 3/4 tsp of the lemongrass spice blend I found in a tube in the produce department at Publix)
2 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced (I used 1 heaping tsp of jarred minced garlic)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (I crushed it in my hand with my thumb first to release the oils)
1/2 pound ground skinless chicken breast (I used cooked shredded chicken that I poached today… Next time I’ll probably go with firm tofu instead since that’s what’s in the soup at Surin)
2 14.5-oz cans of reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 14-oz can light (reduced-fat) coconut milk (Surin probably uses the full-fat kind, because their soup is a bit heavier/richer)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp Asian fish sauce (nam pla)
4 oz rice sticks (mai fun) (I’ll probably leave these out next time, just because they’re not in the Surin version, and truly, they made it kind of hard to eat. May require further experimentation)
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (I probably used a bit more, since I don’t really bother to measure herbs much, and Jerry loves cilantro so I knew it wasn’t a risk.)
Next time I will probably add half of an 8-oz. carton of white mushrooms, thinly sliced. But that’s not in the original recipe.

1. Trim away the tops of the lemongrass, about 4 inches from the root end; trim away the root. Crush the 4-inch pieces with the side of a knife and mince the tender white inner stalk. Discard the outer stalk. (I just squeezed 3/4 tsp out of the tube and called it done. Ha!)

2. Heat the oil in a nonstick Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the minced lemongrass, garlic, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 3 minutes. (With my cooked shredded chicken, I only cooked it until heated through before the next step. Next time I’ll brown the tofu at this step. I’m not sure I’d like it as much with ground chicken.)

3. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, lime juice, and fish sauce; bring to a boil. Add the rice sticks and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.

Servings are 1 1/2 cups each.

You’ll thank me later. 🙂

Here’s the monster quilt I’ve been working on…

FIL died a month ago today.

The week he died, I distracted myself by working really hard on the more mindless and tedious aspects of making the quilt pictured below. One of the best ways to grieve, for me, is to create, because it allows me to shut my brain off and express emotion through fabric or paper or music or whatever the medium of choice is. Grieving for FIL, I finished quilting one quilt (photos to come later after I’ve finished embellishing it), and did a HUGE amount of work on this quilt, all in a period of about 5 days.

Yesterday, I decided I needed one more stripset to cut blocks out of, so I made it — this consists of sewing together 56 1.5″-wide strips of fabric, and then cutting out the half-clamshell blocks with an acrylic template. I’m still short, but not by much; I think I’ll be able to get all of the blocks done in the next day or so, and then I can start assembling the quilt top. Yay! All curved seams left, though. Oy.

quilt top as of Christmas Eve

This is the center part of a quilt for our bed — it’ll be about 7′ square when done. I’ll layer and quilt that, and then I’ll add borders to it (layered and quilted separately). My machine isn’t big enough to quilt it all in one piece, and even 7′ square is pushing it a bit. The largest thing I’ve quilted under this machine has been 6′ square, and that wasn’t easy.

I’m excited, though. This is going to be lovely. I’ve been collecting these fabrics for almost 3 years, so it’s a lot of fun to see it coming together finally.