Day 174: Archery

Posted July 24, 2011 by Sarah Sullivan
Categories: Sports/ Activities, Uncategorized

I had my first lesson in archery today! I think Robin Hood would be proud. I was born to shoot things with arrows. It’s too bad that I don’t have my own male version of Miriam to protect and fight for.

Again, this lesson was one of L.L. Bean’s ODS programs, and because I was the only one to sign up for the particular time slot, I had a private lesson!

My favorite part was definitely getting to wear these cool leather protection pieces. I wore one on my right hand, which pulled back the arrow, and on my left arm, which held the bow. Then I got to wear a little bag on my waste to put my arrows in! If only I had had these things when I was little and playing adventure in my backyard all by myself. I felt like a warrior from Braveheart or Lord of the Rings. Too bad Legolas wasn’t my teacher, though. Now that would have been awesome.

It took me a couple of shots before I even hit the foam block that the target was centered on, and then it took me a couple more to actually hit the target. It was harder than I thought it would be! I wasn’t expecting the bow to be so heavy and the string to be so hard to pull back! My arms were tired after the first round… and one of my rounds was only 3 shots! (Half of a normal round.)

By the end of the lesson, all my arrows were hitting the target, and I even got one bullseye! I felt like a warrior princess of the woods. Just call me Saraphina.

Now, my instructor said her husband hunts with a bow and that the tips on those arrows are a lot different. She started going into detail, and I felt like I wanted to throw up. I will admit, though, I would love to get an amateur’s bow and arrow and have target practice on the squirrels in my backyard. But I know if I hit one that I would probably cry.

I’ll just stick to shooting foam blocks with colored targets that remind me of rainbows and puppies and butterflies, and all things beautiful and happy.

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Day 173: Fly Casting

Posted July 24, 2011 by Sarah Sullivan
Categories: Sports/ Activities, Uncategorized

Being the girl that I am, I’ve always had a draw towards pretty things… like ribbons and such. So I guess it’s no surprise that I’ve always wanted learn fly fishing, which is kind of like fishing with a ribbon. Kind of.

I participated in one of L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School programs, and was one of only 2 participants in my group. Of course, with my luck, the other guy was declared a “natural” by our instructor, and was supposedly even better than some guys who have done it all their lives.

I could’ve taken this as a bad thing, you know having to try to look half decent next to the king, however, I chose to use it to my benefit. Not only did it take a lot of attention of my less-than-perfect casts, but It also gave me a chance to see a beautiful form to which I could only hope to imitate.

But, I was told that I was a quick learner, and because I knew what I was doing wrong  and when I was doing it, I was able to progress nicely as the lesson went on. By the time I left, I actually “threw out” (no idea if this is proper terminology) a couple of beautiful casts.

Did I catch anything? No. Not unless you count my own hair.

I did learn one valuable lesson, though. When I learned that you could catch shark with a fly rod, I was shocked and asked the one instructor if he did. His reply was, “Well, you can, but I don’t. I have a rule about that.” (Humoring the guy, I took his bait -pun- and asked what his rule was.)

“It’s simple,” he said. “If can eat me, I don’t catch it.”

Day 172: Camping in the backyard

Posted July 23, 2011 by Sarah Sullivan
Categories: Sports/ Activities

I feel like I missed out on a very important childhood experience: camping out in my backyard. I remember trying to do it once, but I think I chickened out. If not, I must have blocked it from my memory because it was so awful. I’m 23 years old now and if I can’t even make it through a night in my backyard, then what can I do? I’m doing it.

Despite the Excessive Heat Advisory that we’re under right now, tonight is a great night to camp out, because my family currently has house guests that are using my bed. So I might as well sleep upon the grass God gave us.

I recently went out to check on my tent and found a bug sitting on my sheet. I decided right then to always keep my tent zippered shut. Nothing is getting in my tent but me. Well, and the extension cord that is providing power for me fan. Yes, I brought out a fan. Don’t judge me, it’s hot!

I will be keeping you posted with how the night goes.

***

So, it is currently 12:27 a.m., and I am in a tent in my backyard listening to creepy bug sounds and trying not to sweat. Accuweather is telling me that it is currently 85 degrees with a real feel of 97. Those numbers should have easily driven me inside long ago, however it feels surprisingly cool in my tent, as if the real feel is only 90. :)

No, the heat can’t drive me away from this experience. But I’ll tell you what can, and just might: the creepiness. I am kind of freaking out. And with every new noise, my fear level rises. At any second, a robber or murderer could be walking by, see my computer screen light through the tent, and come attack me. And what’s worse is that my glasses’ prescription isn’t up to date, so I won’t be able to get a good look at his face to describe him to the police! (If I would even live long enough to get the police!)

-Oh gosh, the weird bug noise stopped. The only time I heard it stop before was when I walked from my tent to the house… which means it stops when people are moving nearby. Which means that someone is nearby. Oh my gosh. Oh wait- it started again. Thank goodness.I’m trying to continue writing so that my mind is kept occupied until I’m ready to fall asleep. And I’m hoping that the typing noise will scare any animals away. Annd I also want to be prepared to immediately describe the scene if someone was to attack me all of the sudden. Wow, I am really thinking too much.

OK, so I’m going to try to sleep now, and hopefully I won’t melt into a puddle or get abducted, and can finish and post this blog tomorrow. This is ridiculous. I mean- I love this! Camping in the backyard is fun! I want to do this every night!

But seriously, morning can’t come fast enough.

***

I’M ALIVE! It’s 7:30 a.m. and the sun is up, the shadow of night gone. Thank you, Lord, for getting me through! Once I fell asleep (which took like an hour after I put my computer down), the night turned out to be pretty decent and uneventful. I did wake up 2 or 3 times, took in the moon-lit outdoors with my foggy brain, and rolled over to sleep again. Surprisingly I got so chilled that I covered up with my sheet before falling asleep, and then added a blanket halfway through the night! Not bad for a night in the middle of a heat wave. Oh, the power of plastic fan blades spinning in a circle powered by electricity.

Having survived the camping “trip”, I can now say it was adventurous and somewhat fun. However, if you asked me to do it again by myself, I might have a very different opinion.

And did I mention yet how great it is to hear birds singing in the morning? It is probably the nicest thing my ears have heard. This said after a night of terror.

I will most likely not be the fun Aunt Sarah that takes her nephew camping out back. Camping out on the family room floor? Yes, please.

Day 171: Getting a facial!

Posted July 21, 2011 by Sarah Sullivan
Categories: Sports/ Activities

I’m sitting here with glowing, baby-soft skin and thinking that I could totally live out my days at a spa. Why have I never gotten a facial before? They are fabulous! Also fabulous is my wonderful friend, Lexi, who is a student at Empire Beauty School and works wonders on your skin. She was the one who gave me the facial.

The whole process only took about 20 minutes or so, but it was 20 minutes of luxury. I felt like I had just done shots of sleepy time tea. The room was dark, relaxing music was playing the background, and I had two hands massaging oils and scrubs onto my face. I was just about gone when Lexi put the mask on my face and had to step away for a few minutes. I slowly sat up in the chair, took a look around me and had to laugh. There were about 6 white zombies looking at me. I shook the dreams from my mind, but nope, they were still there. OK, so maybe they weren’t really zombies. They were actually the other students’ clients that already had their facial masks on. Which meant that I must have looked like a zombie as well.

Not caring a thing about what I looked like, I laid my head back again and waited for Lexi’s return. I was very excited when she came back with a hot towel, which she laid across my face. Yes, it did just get better.

Once the mask was wiped off, more oil was massaged in, my skin now feeling like butter. A minute later, when she took off the hair cap and the apron, my heart sank. It was over. I wanted to throw a tantrum like my nephew, Jake, does when he doesn’t get his way, because I sure wasn’t getting mine! I never wanted that facial to end.

All it was missing was some cucumber slices and a cute guy bringing me iced tea.

 

Day 170: Learning the Accordion

Posted July 20, 2011 by Sarah Sullivan
Categories: Hobbies/ Skills

(While you read this post I want you to listen to this in the background. It’s very… well, I don’t know what it is, but I like it and it’s inspiring. And I have pretty much been listening to it on repeat while writing the last half of this post. Are you listening to it now? Good. It truly makes this post that much better.)

The accordion is making a come back! While you might be thinking that that is one ridiculous statement, you might actually be listening to the accordion more often than you think (and I got you to right now, didn’t I?). Panic At  The Disco uses one, Mumford & Sons use one, Edward Maya uses one… and the list goes on and on. It doesn’t really surprise me, though. The accordion can create a really beautiful, unique and fresh sound. Something that music these days could really use more of. (And in fact, between that last sentence and this one, I was just on YouTube for like 10 minutes captivated by all these sweet accordion covers of “Stereo Love” which led me to find this lovely song you’re (hopefully still) listening to right now!)

But anyways, growing up I remember my sister chasing our dog around the house while making noise on the accordion, but for some reason, I never remember hearing anyone actually play it in my house. I thought that should change. But after getting the accordion out, putting it on, and realizing how crazy heavy and awkward it was, I decided that I wasn’t going to be the person to play it and put it back in its case.

Just kidding. I mean, it truly was heavy and awkward- that thing is a beast- but I was determined to play it. My mom was kind enough to try to understand it with me and gave me some pointers and suggestions, most of which didn’t really help me, seeing as how my arms and hands were barely big enough to hold the thing, let alone make something pleasant come from it. I finally found that if I stood with one leg bent up- like a flamingo- I could support the beast better and actually use the bellows (the big part that opens and closes). While I was able to actually make sounds now, I only made it more awkward to hold.

After a lot of fumbling, my mom suddenly remembered to tell me we had a smaller one. Thanks.  At this point I had given up trying to learn this instrument, but decided I needed to try to stick it out. (And honestly, even the nonsensical sounds I was executing from the beast were fun and exciting, so I didn’t really mind!)

The smaller one was much easier to manage and with it came an accordion beginner book! I handed the beast over to my mom and we started to play some duets. I mean… we played sounds from our accordions at the same time and called them duets. It was great. Until the beast got the best of her and she decided to go water plants.

This was now my time to shine. I opened the accordion book to page 1 and thus began my first self-taught lesson. It was so fun! I learned about the chord and bass rows, and I even learned how to read some basic accordion music!

This is the first song I played on the accordion. It’s called ‘Batter’s Up’. My friend, Nate Shorb, would be proud.

I am most definitely going to continue learning this wonderful instrument. Who knows, maybe I’ll be playing in the background of a Coldplay song one day.

169: Pottery Painting

Posted July 19, 2011 by Sarah Sullivan
Categories: Crafts/ Home-made objects, Sports/ Activities

Today I went to Color Me Mine. It’s one of those studios where you get to pick a piece of pottery, paint it, and then have it fired in a kiln. I don’t quite know what “firing it in a kiln” means or how it works, but I do know that you end up with a shiny, bright and beautiful piece of artwork.

My sister, Liz, once made me a big, personalized ice cream bowl at one such studio, and I have been determined ever since to get to one. Tonight, the queen pottery painter herself (Liz) joined me on my adventure to paint the perfect pottery piece. (I feel like I should continue this post from here on out using a lot of “p” words. But I’ll spare us all, and not.)

I knew that picking out my pottery and choosing my colors and design was going to be the hardest part, and yes, it was just that. I couldn’t decide between a regular mug, a travel mug, or a vase that was in the shape of a princess dress. I finally decided on the travel mug for three reasons. First of all, the last thing my parents’ kitchen needs is a mug. We can barely close the cabinet doors on our mug shelf as it is. Secondly, I would never even know what color to paint my dress vase, because you want it to compliment all flower colors and styles, and that would just be impossible and would drive me crazy. And lastly, all the travel mugs I have ever personally owned either got melted in the microwave (oops), lost at someone’s house, or thrown away due to the disgusting state it was in when finally found in the back of my car after months of being MIA. So, I figured the travel mug was the most practical option of the three and would be the most used.

Now it was off to paint and design. Talk about misery. One thing I absolutely hate is standing in front of multiple products in different colors and/or styles and having to make a decision when I like everything. Examples are: picking out shoes, clothes or accessories or deciding on a menu item or ice cream flavor; and now added to the list: choosing artwork designs.

Because my travel mug had a somewhat striped texture to it, I envisioned blended stripes in bright, sunny colors that would make me happy. I then decided to put a Bible verse on it, because bright happy art always makes me think of creation and joy through God. And while it was great that I had finally settled on a design, I still had the tough job of picking colors and a verse.

Finally, I was sitting at the table, my palette filled, my brush poised, thinking to myself how much I hate this. Not painting or creating art, but knowing that I only have one chance to make something so perfectly created in my mind. That always ends up happening with my artwork, and that is the reason why I don’t paint as much as I want to. What a let down. And while I was aware of the fact that  I was setting myself up for failure, and not enjoying the process or the moment, I still couldn’t help but think that I would soon be turning my unwanted mug over to the local thrift store. (Although that would never happen, because my mom always insists on keeping things her children have made- even if they are crappy- exhibit A: my home-made clock from Day 57)

I pushed aside my fears and got to painting. Thankfully Liz was with me, for she told me all the tricks, and gave me a lot of tips for getting the results you want. She also expertly scraped of the paint when I accidently wrote “105” instead of “150”. What a heroine!

In the end, I can say that I like my travel mug. Maybe, once the colors are bright and bold and shiny- and not pastel, I hate pastel- I will love it, but right now, I only like it. And honestly, liking it is enough for me. If after it’s “fired”, I still don’t love it, then that’s OK. Worse comes to worse, I can always pass it on to a friend as a birthday present. Preferably one who I know doesn’t read my blog. It wouldn’t be such a great birthday gift if they knew I was giving them my trash. (But you know what they say- “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”) Oh and if you can’t see it in the pictures, the verse I picked is Psalms 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” It will be a good reminder every time I put the mug to my lips.

Now after thinking about it… I really should’ve made a plate. At least then the design would get covered up by food every time it’s used.

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Day 168: Making Pesto!

Posted July 19, 2011 by Sarah Sullivan
Categories: Cooking/ Food

When I lived in Italy, one of my favorite things to do was get fresh food from the central market. There was a woman there who had the best fresh, homemade pesto (and gnocchi and ravioli!). For the 3 months following my return to the States, I dreamed about it every night. It was much better than the pesto I had first been introduced to at the hospital I worked at (even if they were ranked top 10 for food!), and it was much better than anything I’ve ever bought from a store here. So when I saw a pesto recipe on my favorite food blog, The Purple Foodie, my mouth started watering and I knew I had to make it.

The process is super easy, the ingredients simple, and the recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s. How could this pesto fail? How could I mess up?

Now, I won’t hold you in suspense and I’ll skip right to the results- the pesto turned out mouth-wateringly incredible.  However, I did run into some bumps on the road of making it, as only I can.

About 2 minutes in, I found myself in my backyard,  with prickers in my feet, searching my mom’s gardens. I was on a mission to find basil. She had said she had some, and I was going to find it. The only problem was that I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for. Now, before you laugh at me, I’ll have you know that I have used fresh basil multiple times before and I had visions in my mind of what it looked like, but it’s just that those visions were blurred. I finally picked a clump of greens that I thought could be it, smelled them, and then took them inside to my sister to see if she could determine for me if it was, in fact, basil.

She didn’t know either. So we googled it, compared it, and smelled it some more… and then I threw it out, whatever it is. Feeling ridiculous and disappointed (I just wanted pesto!), I resigned myself to waiting until my mom came home.

An hour later, I was well on my way to becoming the world’s greatest gourmet chef. I put dollops of my perfected pesto onto triscuits and walked into the room where my mom and 2 sisters were, the smell of Italian heaven following me. They loved it. Deb promptly told me to go back to the kitchen and bring the rest in for them. Seeing that The Bachelorette had come back on the TV, I declined her request and sat down. So they got up and went into the kitchen.

5 minutes later, when the next commercial came on, I skipped into the kitchen to have some more pesss…. what?! They ate all my pesto! I held up the glass container that had previously been full of green liquid gold and eyed the last small clumps that remained. Before anyone could even blink, I took a cracker and scooped up the rest, claiming the last bit as my own.

I mean, I knew they liked it, but I didn’t think I’d have to hide it in my bedroom to get some! Oh well…. you know what this means. I’ll just have to make some more tomorrow.