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CoMo Cookie Monster

A couple months ago when Coast Modern announced their 2018 Spring Tour was going to be themed Haunted House party, they put out a request for fans to bring their talents and lights to the show.  Both were going to be highlighted and produce a more interactive experience.  Having no talent I could parade on stage, I started to think about what kind of lamp would best represent me.

Bringing any old light doesn’t seem to capture the creative genius behind this idea.  From the first day, I was excited to see what light-art fans would create throughout the country.  It’s a little taste of people from all over.  It seemed the best way to rep my Oregon #CoMo love was to give it my all.  I mean how else can I convince them to take a chance on So. Oregon?

My first thought was a strand of lights in the shape of cookies.  A quick Amazon search and I came up bust.  I did find cookie cutter light strings.  It was cute and charming, but didn’t have the real pop I wanted.  One thing about me is I like there to be real thought and effort if you’re going to create something.  Art is a piece of your heart.  If you’re gonna do it, you better show it.

I threw around the idea in my head of making a cookie lantern.  Build it together like a gingerbread house, even though I’ve never done one.  I wanted to use my sugar dough recipe instead of stale gingerbread just in case someone wanted to eat the thing. I hoped the royal icing would give a firm and more stable shell to the soft sugar dough.  Maybe it could work?

The weekend before the show, I got down to business.  Go big or go home, right?  I wanted something substantial to hold its own next to the other lights on the stage.  I cut out the side panels 6 inches wide and 9.5 inches tall. I cut a top and a base before cutting out the decorative pieces.  I knew I was going to make a stained glass look with crushed sugar candies.  I was feeling pretty confident this lantern was going to be awesome.  (Narrator: This is the foreshadowing that it did not go awesome.)

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I iced all the panels and let them dry solid before thinking about starting the build.

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I thought about how I could support that panels when piecing together.  With the first two walls done, I was still feeling pretty confident. (Narrator: She shouldn’t have been confident.)

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It was when I went to put on the third panel and the edging from the first two cracked at the seam, I knew I was going to have some problems.  Then it got worse.  I edged up the 3rd panel and I hit me like a ton of bricks — cookies spread when they bake and these lines are not square.  So I loaded up the thick, firm frosting and started spackling the thing together.  While it wasn’t looking pretty, I still had hope I might have structure at the end.

When I had the four sides pieced together I went to set it on the base only to find out these no square edges and frosting filled gaps had made the thing too big to sit on the base.  Back to the oven I went and baked a larger base.  The top however was a different story.  I filled in the cracks with more frosting, tried to smooth it out, and hoped this wasn’t going to fall apart on the five hour car ride to Portland.

Once I had the whole structure together, I hated it.  It looked nothing like how I imagined.  My visions of smooth sides seamlessly blending into the other instead had spatula streaks and sharp frosting edges.  After a day of drying, some of the candies started to leak down the side.  These are the moments when I start thinking about chucking the whole thing in the trash.  Bestie and Hubs did their best to be reassuring that I was being much too critical.  All I saw were the flaws.  How could I give this to one of my fave bands as a representation of me?

I decided to cover the flaws with edible pictures of them and their single covers. Even that didn’t go smoothly!  The papers bubbled up and pulled away.  My imagination wanted it to look like those buses wrapped in pictures.  Instead, the cookie lantern looked like an elementary school art project.

It was done and no matter what, I was taking it.  Bestie and I checked it every stop on our way up.  We coddled it until it was safely resting in our hotel room in one piece.  She continuously reassured me it was cool.  “It’s a lamp made out of cookie! Most people don’t even know how to bake.  Who’s not going to love it?”

Show time came and we walked through those doors with giant cookie lantern in hand.  It happened to be we saw Luke of Coast Modern at the entrance too.  I presented it with pride. (That’s a Pogs and Slammers song lyric. Buy their album here if you haven’t already. SO good.)  “It’s a lamp all made out of cookie,” I said.  I held my tongue from following up with “Don’t look too close. I know it’s a mess” and just watched Luke look over the monstrous cookie art.  He smiled and said something nice about how that was cool.  He walked downstairs with us and let me put the lights in it so we could see the thing in it’s full glory.  In that moment, the cookie monster was exactly what it needed to be.  And I was happy.

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It’ll only got better with great positioning on the stage in front of the drums and even a super special shout out during the show.  (Thanks to Bestie for catching some of it on video because I think I’m turning the beginning into my ring tone.)  I am forever grateful for their fan appreciation and remind everyone again THIS is why I love them so much.  They are nice people.  Genuine and kind. Thoughtful and considerate.

So what happened to the monster cookie you ask?  This did:

Before you get all upset, this is what I asked them to do.  And they did it perfect.  I even got to watch it happen, which was an even bigger thrill.  I’ve had several people gasp and ask how could I watch that many hours of work be destroyed.  Easy…they made something even better with it.  They were so thoughtful in setting up the shot, taking a great picture of it beforehand and really taking their time to make sure they captured the moment Luke stomped his foot on it.

In the end, I have to admit the monster cookie was a very good representation of me.  It had odd sides to deal with, needed a little more support than originally thought , and maybe became a little more than what I bargained for.  It also was made completely with love to show my appreciation for a hard working band who has shown me kindness. I wanted to bring my best effort as a thank you for them always bringing theirs.  I think it did exactly that.

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Of course I was gonna throw in a cookie selfie. Are you crazy?

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Out in the Universe

The other day, a co-worker said into the hushed air, “If anyone wants to bring in some cupcakes, that would be okay with me.”  Everyone paused from their duties for a moment and looked at her to try to find the reason.  She didn’t say another word, and so everyone went back to work as if nothing had happened at all.  A moment later, the woman sitting next to her said “If not cupcakes, I’d sure like bagels.”

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For a couple of seconds, I thought about making cupcakes even though I had a lot of other work to do that night.  Different cake flavors cycled through my mind and I considered what would be the quickest to fit into my busy schedule.  After resigning I couldn’t get it done, I moved onto “why did she say it in the first place?”

“I guess you’re putting that out in the universe to see if it comes back to you?” I asked.

“I’m just sayin’,” she said.

“Good to know.”

The next day, no cupcakes arrived.  Bagels either.  There was slight disappointment, but co-worker still wore a smile on her face.  “It’s okay, I’m getting Chinese food for lunch so that makes up for no cupcakes,” she said.

When lunchtime rolled around I came back to my desk expecting to smell some Orange Chicken in the air.  Instead, she was flustered.

“The universe is against me,” she said. “Not only did no cupcakes show up, but now the Chinese restaurant’s phone is broken so I don’t get that either.”  Her disappointment caught me.  The situation felt more important with the weight of the universe on that lunch order.  I couldn’t let it stand with such disappointment heavy on her heart.

“How about I’ll drop off your order on my way to lunch?” I said.

“You’re going that way?” she said.

“No, but I will for you.”

<Insert collective “awwww” from everyone in a four cubicle radius.>

Since that day I’ve thought about this putting things out in the universe to see if they’ll come back.  Why don’t we do that more?  Maybe because it feels kinda silly saying your wants into the open air?  Is it a sense of vulnerability  that you will be judged in wanting such a thing?  Or is there a guilt at the thought you are somehow asking those around you to supply it?

The interesting part was my co-worker felt none of that. There was nothing self-conscious about her request.  She moved along with her merry day as quickly as she stopped to say her piece.  She didn’t expect anyone to fill it and didn’t look disappointed when no one jumped up to cater to her needs.  She simply stated a simple fact of what she wanted.  It was in this fearlessness that something good did come back her way.  If she had kept all that to herself, I wouldn’t have been swayed when she couldn’t get the lunch she’d waited for all week.  Speaking her mind about her wants resulted in the universe answering it.

I’ve decided to try this out.  I’m going to put out positive vibes, thoughts, and sometimes wishes into the world.  Not only telling people the things I want, but sharing the great things I see in them.  With this we’ll see what kind of things the universe brings back.  It could be a sweet smile from a friend, a thank you for helping someone in need, or maybe even the contest win for those Matt and Kim concert tickets they’re giving away that I really want.  Whatever it may be, I’m ready to keep my eyes open and live a little more fearless so we can all be in a better place.

And in case you were wondering, the other co-worker got her bagels a few days later.  Bestie heard the story and brought in a batch to brighten my day and theirs. Sometimes the universe doesn’t work in mysterious ways, it works in fantastic ones because it’s filled with some pretty damn great people.

Resolutions Reboot!

At the end of 2016, I was cocky.  Or grumpy.  I’m not totally sure.  Either way, I decided I’d done resolutions long enough.  Years of making goals and reporting back to the world about how well I’d done seemed passé.  Who needed that shit?  Um….yeah, in 2017 I realized I do.

So, I’m back!  I have to admit, I’m really excited about it.  There’s a bit of a theme this year — it’s a reboot.  Those are popular nowadays, aren’t they?  They did it with Jumanji and it seemed to be a hit, so why not me?  (Really…who thought they would remake Jumanji?)

I realized with such big changes last year, I need to get back to some basics.  You know, get my bearings straight with some of the goals I’ve made in the past.  I’m a different person now and I’m eager to see what these older ideas will look like when I revisit them.

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Even in one of my last selfies of the year, I look a little suspicious. Really it was the hat. I wasn’t sure about the dunce cap hat.

1.)  Write 15 minutes a day. Every day

Fifteen minutes sounds so easy, I know it does.  But damn, this one scares me the most.  I can’t put this off.  No excuses, no delays, not “I’ll do it tomorrow.”  Nope, this is an every day task.  Like exercise, I need to get myself in writing shape and this only comes with consistency.  I want to be that writer who has to write because it’s part of what makes me happy.  The best part, the most exciting part, is that I have no rules about what this fifteen minutes looks like.  I can do any kind of free write that enters my head.  If I want to write a whole dialogue about making out with some hottie lead singer, I get to enjoy every last heavy breath of it. (Phew, fan me off.) Let’s move to the next one.

2.)  Host Delish Open Houses

A couple years ago I had this one down on paper, but at the last minute I modified it with “try new ideas.”  Then I never did this.  Since big changes in 2017 when I became the sole Delish owner, I wanted to add some structure on growing the sales.  Each month, I’m going to host an open house where I showcase a particular item I offer on the menu.  There will be some samples for people who want to check out my goods before committing.  Hopefully, my regulars will show up and bring a few newbies.  This will be a timid toe-dipping in the idea of a store front and getting some customer feedback. I couldn’t be more excited.

3.)  Query

Yep, that’s right.  I’m pulling the trigger this year.  Finally time to finish some projects and get out there in the query game.  I feel like my heart is ready for the rejection that’s bound to come.  More importantly, I’m ready to complete a book.  My process has been stuck in molasses for far too long.  I need some action and the commitment to query before the end of the year is just the thing to do it.

4.)  Read a book each month

Excuses, excuses, excuses.  How did I get to a place where I barely read?  It doesn’t really matter how because I’m here.  Where I challenged myself to read 25 in a year before, I’m going a little more conservative this round.  Hopefully, I’ll be so inspired there might even be a Baked Book actually published.  (I hate to admit how many I’ve baked and not published.)

5.)  Recover quickly

I’ve saved the most important for last.  I tried this a few years ago and singing “recover quickly” became my mantra anytime I felt my skin rush red.  I’ve lost my way from this for a little too long.  When I lost some friends last year, I let things get under my skin and fester in so many terrible emotions.  The worst part was I was the only one losing any energy over it.  They moved along just fine without looking back to see me still looking for answers.  It reminded me sometimes it’s more important to recover and keep moving versus trying to figure out someone’s motives.  This year I am dedicated to recovering quickly and continuing to move forward.

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Saw this sign and made the joke it would be a great tattoo for me. I think using it here is a wiser, long-term decision.

Although these are resolutions I’ve had before, it doesn’t make them any easier.  In some ways, they’re even tougher.  (Didn’t you compare which Ghostbusters you liked better?)  Resolutions always come with the same questions — What if I don’t get them done?  What if they’re too hard?  What if at the end of the year I can’t check off a single one?  Then I remind myself it’s all in my control.  I make these resolutions because these are important things.  Writing them down is only a symbol of the commitment my heart is ready to make.

Good luck on yours!

My Little Voice

Usually at this time of year, you might expect to see a blog about how I’m spiraling into my annual depression. That bit where I haven’t done all the things I wanted and I feel like I’m wasting my life. Sure, I try to write some upbeat piece about my attempts to combat it, but I’m usually pretty deep in the “you should haves.”  It starts in November with my birthday and continues to grow with the new year looming right around the corner.  Through the holiday obligations, and as the clock ticks closer to midnight on December 31st, I reflect on what little I accomplished in the previous 365 days in comparison to what I should have done.  Lucky for me this year, I’m not facing this issue.  Unlucky for me, it’s because this entire year has been a constant “What the fuck?”

There’s something absolutely insane when you’re entire life that took decades to build feels like it’s been put into a blender.  Rapid swirling, loud noise, and a small blade cutting through anything you ever thought was solid.  Your whole world turned into a mushy mess, the consistency of baby food, in one not-so-simple year.  It seemed the harder I fought to keep my shit together, the more it oozed through my fingers.

I’ve always believed things happen for a reason.  This isn’t only for when something great blesses me and I think it must be some reward for clean living.  (Ha!  When did I ever live clean?)  Even in tough times, I tell myself there are no coincidences.  You have to look hard for clues to figure out what lessons you’re supposed to learn.  This is a little harder to swallow when you start to feel like nothing is going the way it should.  It’s easy to fall into “Can’t I catch a fucking break somewhere?”  However, that’s when this thinking is really tested, right?  So as I kept choking down this garbage year, I told myself some reason will explain why my life is falling apart.

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Is this what clean living looks like? Wings out your neck?

When my birthday passed and no anxiety came with it about wasting my life, I assumed it was still on its way but was fashionably late.  When I went through Thanksgiving and I still wasn’t over analyzing my to do list, I realized something was different.  Why the silence?  Is it because I’ve done everything I ever wanted this year?  Ha!  This isn’t a fairy tale, people.  In fact, I haven’t really done shit.  There’s been time to write, but I haven’t.  I’ve had the opportunity to bake more and I didn’t.  Why haven’t I done a damn thing?  And since I hadn’t, why wasn’t I beating myself up about it?

Throughout the year when I looked at doing nothing with my time, I pulled out the easiest excuse — “This year has been so haaaaard.” (Totally said in a whiny voice.)  People accepted it.  Hell, they even encouraged it with a sympathetic “you’ve had the worst year.”  I reveled in their pity.  And guess what?  Still nothing got accomplished.

Then on a cold morning at the beginning of December, during my morning walk I thought about why there were no voices.  I went “real talk” with myself and admitted I hadn’t done more in 2017.  I’ve had the choice to do the things I want.  No obligations weighing me down, no time constraints to blame, no compromise to resent. All things that had been go-to reasons in the past when I told myself I should have done more.  In that moment, I had to face a hard reality.  The fact I didn’t do them rides 100% on my shoulders with the answer “because I chose not to.”

You might be thinking this is a sad discovery, to admit you’ve let yourself down.  It’s actually quite the opposite.  I learned something every important.  There’s an empowerment in holding yourself accountable.  You realize you are the one who gets to make the decisions that are right for you.  With this accountability comes a discovery it’s your own personal responsibility to make yourself happy.

First thing I did was tell myself it was okay.  This year was about transition and learning.  Things changed and I had to understand how to accept it.  That takes time and is still a work in progress.  Even more important, I’m forgiving myself more. Trying to work on not avoiding risks of falling down, but focusing on making the recovery time faster.  Jumping back up and continuing to take small steps in the direction I want to go.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  In fact, right now it’s the hardest thing in the world.  There’s lots of work to be done.  The falls still hurt.  Sometimes I stare at the scabs longer than I should and cry over the scars that will never go away.  In those moments, the little voice has changed from a berating  “you should have” to a soothing song of “It’s okay. You’re going to get there. Some day.”  And as I take a deep breath to get back up again, I think I might have found the most important lesson of all.

 

 

Planting The Idea

I keep waiting for inspiration to jump start my writing.  Anything to bring back the passion for something I love to do.  Anyone who writes knows waiting for a muse is the death to a successful writing regimen.  Words don’t just “show up” in your head and force you to write them. (Contrary to what some writers say.) Writing takes persistence.  Hard work.  Dedication.  It doesn’t take long before you’re out of practice, sitting around waiting for it to happen, and letting your writing dreams die a slow death.

When Hubs and I moved into the home we built 14 years ago, we had to plant a tree in the middle of the yard.  It was part of the CCAs and being new to the home owning world, we thought we had to abide.  I was seven months pregnant when I shoveled a dump truck size load of dirt into the yard and we planted our tree.  We stared at it with smiles and glory as we talked about how it would grow with our first child.  It’s regal size would be a constant reminder of how precious time is and how strength can carry you even through the toughest storm.

We killed the tree within a year.

It could’ve been that I didn’t water it enough.  Or maybe I over watered it.  It could have been our tree selection choice, except neighbors seemed to have no problem with their trees that looked to be the same species.  Either way, our nine month old son played in the grass next to a wilted tree with no leaves.

We planted again.  Dug out that dud of a tree we bought the first time and carved out more space for the root ball for the second one.  We consulted with the nursery to make sure this was a hearty tree that could withstand people who had killed their first one.  The nursery people acted like it was a no-brainer.  You put the tree in the ground, water it occasionally and voila!  You have a booming tree to take you into your golden years.

Our second child was two when we had to admit out second tree was a goner.  It no longer produced any leaves and we were pretty sure it had stopped growing a few months before.  What the hell?  We fed it with food.  We watered it, but not too much this time since we learned over-watering was a thing.  The soil must be tainted.  There was lots of clay when we dug down.  How could all of our neighbors produce such fruitful trees when we continued to kill ours?

“Fuck this tree thing,” I said.  No more fantasies about it shading our house or building into the street’s charm by having it lined with mature trees like the older neighborhoods.

“It’s required,” Hubs said.

“Do we even really have a CCA?  I’ve never even seen anyone who acts like they check these things,” I said.

And we left our dead tree in the yard until I couldn’t take the eyesore reminder any more.

I suggested we fill it in with grass.  Hubs considered it briefly before buckling down and driving me back to the nursery with young children in tow.  They ran around on crushed gravel paths in a plant maze while I told the nursery worker I needed an un-kill-able tree.

She pointed to the first one we brought home.  “Nope. Killed it,” I said.  She took us to the pine trees and I grimaced at not wanting to make our front yard look like something on a Christmas tree lot.  She finally made her way to a smallish thing with no leaves.  “Fall is a great time to plant.  The leaves will show up next spring.”  Perfect, I thought.  At least I wouldn’t have to admit it was dead and deal with it until the next year.

We planted and gave it the same care we did our other trees.  In the spring it produced leaves.  We rejoiced.  Sang.  Possibly even danced around the small trunk no bigger than a PVC pipe.  Five years passed and we felt like we’d finally gotten past our curse of tree murders.

Then the top leaves stopped growing.  The trunk looked sickly and we knew what was coming.  It would travel down until no leaves stayed on the limbs.  I hated looking at it.  I had no idea how to fix it and each leaf that fell reminded me of failure.  This tree didn’t even represent anything like that first tree had.  That one was supposed to be a symbol of life and I killed it.  What did I care what happened with this tree? I started to resolve I would never have a beautiful tree casting over our home and blazing the sky with gorgeous fall leaves.

Hubs read up and asked a few people.  The nursery people said the culprit might be the sprinklers hitting the trunk.  The same thing we needed to keep our yard alive was poisoning the main staple in it.  They recommended we wrap it with a plastic pipe covering and we did.

We left that thing on well beyond what it needed.  Kind of like finishing a prescription well beyond when the infection is gone.  For fear if you abandon too fast, the illness will come back with a vengeance.  That wrap stayed on it until the trunk became so large it broke out of the protective shell we created.

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This fall I stood in the front driveway and stared at that tree.  I enjoyed every single shade in each leaf, even the dead ones scattering the ground.  I didn’t compare it to the cherry tree in our neighbor’s yard that never had an issue growing large while we went through our problems.  I didn’t beat myself up for the two other trees I had to chop down and dig out.  Nor did I start to worry if this tree too would one day die.

Instead, I stare in silence and appreciate the quiet inspiration it shared. The wind whistled through its branches reminding me the truly great things take time, energy, and persistence.  The strong trunk reminiscent of how I could have chosen to leave in the skinny dead stick, or grassed over the hole like a grave.  Its whole being represented even though this wasn’t the original idea I had when I planted that first tree, I still got to a pretty damn good place.  All those things telling me that it only happened because I kept trying.

So here you have another blog.  A small attempt at growing something better.  A writing sapling planted in the ground waiting to see what will become of it.

 

 

Coast Modern’s debut album was even better than #CoMosapiens could have hoped for!  The album’s terrific vibe has pretty much stayed on repeat since Thursday night at 9pm.

To celebrate the release, I knew those Coast Modern gents needed a special cookie to pay homage to all their hard work in the last year and a half.  And I hoped this hit the mark.

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It’s the icing on the top when they like what I’ve created in their honor.  It’s this wonderful thing where art inspires other’s art.  Which is exactly what happened in the contest where you showed off your #CoMoLove on Twitter and Instagram.  All the participants were put into a random drawing.

So let’s get down to the winner.

Congratulations
Natalie T!

You have won a Coast Modern inspired cookie box.  Along with SIX album covers of your own you will also receive the special Coast Modern eyeball inspired blackberry thumbprint.

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Thank you all for showing your Coast Modern love and I hope to see you at a show.

If it’s not clear, I’m pretty fucking excited about the Coast Modern album release on July 28th.  Once an official date was set, I pre-ordered the album, started chatting people up to do the same, and began planning how I would celebrate the day.  It started with something simple like wearing their swag, maybe playing with the dolls a bit, but now I’ve decided to throw an all out Coast Modern themed party at the office.

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Like any good party, the fun is in the details, especially with themed parties.  The care you put in the planning will pay off in spades on the official day.  Each piece needs to hold true to the theme to make sure your guests aren’t wondering if it’s a party or just a few people getting together.  Here’s a quick guide in case you want to throw your own Coast Modern party.

The Menu:

Every great party starts with the food and a theme party gives even more opportunity to amp it up with catchy puns.

  • Grilled Toast Modern – A Californian vibed grilled cheese sandwich. It’s provolone and cheddar cheese melted over arugula, bacon, and horseradish sauce on garlic Parmesan bread.
  • “Dive” into dip and chips.
  • “Now I’m Cool” Cucumber Salad.
  • Drinks will be made with “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” and each served with “Tiny Umbrellas” to pay homage to one of my favorite songs on the album.

Wardrobe:

Attendants have been asked to wear their Coast Modern gear.  If they don’t have a concert tee shirt, they can sport:

  • Dad shirts
  • Converse or Vans
  • Anything with a Californian vibe

Games:

Since my party will take place at my day job, I have to keep the activities on the up and up.  They’re even geared toward employee appreciation and positivity.  I’m not saying you still can’t use them, but I felt like I needed to explain why there’s no alcohol.

  • “Pockets Full of Knowledge” – I have little trivia game with random Coast Modern facts.  My staff love surfing on the Intenet for random info, so why not have them focus on a particular topic?
  • “The Way it Was” – Each person will write down a habit they want to change going forward to increase positivity in their life.  They’ll focus daily on something to make sure they keep moving forward and never go back to “the way it was.”

As you can see, I’ve stayed true to the  Coast Modern spirit by punning off their song titles and I’m pretty fucking proud of what I’ve come up.  It’s right up there with “You gotta be kitten me right meow” and “I don’t wanna taco bout it.”

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Invite all your friends to enjoy on the festivities!

Hopefully these little tips will help you gather friends to enjoy the band’s release day or solve the problem of your next birthday party theme. Whatever you decide to do, the most important part is to have a good time.  And listen to Coast Modern.