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The saga of the fair fish

One of my greatest childhood memories is the time my parents spent at least $50 on ping pong balls at the Columbia County Fair.

Those little bouncing balls were the ticket to winning goldfish. All you had to do was get out of land in the mini goldfish balls of colored water – something my brother was really good at and I felt like I was good at just because I was with him. And for some reason, this one year and this one year only, my parents caved, and bought us what seemed like an endless supply of ping pong balls.

We one something like 20 goldfish that year.

I have a hazy memory of the shouts of job every time we got a ball in bowls, but what I remember most clearly is the true comedy of trying to find a place to put 20 something unexpected goldfish.

There was a tank that was only a little leaky – that was good for at least three goldfish. Another tank that had been for the gobies that didn’t live to make it under the Christmas tree – another three.  A glass goldfish bowl good for at least two. And then the trifle bowl. And then a set of class canisters meant for flour and sugar, but just fine for goldfish in a pinch.

Everywhere you looked, there were goldfish.

With the memory in mind, there was only one game I really, really wanted to play when Eryn and I went to the fair. And it was the only game she didn’t really want to play.

“You aren’t really going to win a goldfish are you? What about a lizard? Or a hermit crab? Go for the hermit crab?”

Sparing her the stories of the hermit crab graveyard in my backyard, when it came time though Eryn surprised me bought the 100 ping balls for $10, instead of the 40 for $5. And boom, I was right back at the Columbia County fair. This was everything.

Eryn was not as good as my brother at this game (something I suspect might be intentional) and was insistent on trying to win the lizard. Ball after ball, bounced away defeated. Five-year-olds were easily out performing us.

But then, on the very last ball, on my very last throw, right when Eryn thought she was safe, it landed in a red goldfish bowl.

 

Mission accomplished.

For the next hour or two, Eryn kept asking, are you really going to keep that fish? Why don’t you give to a child? Isn’t it a little inhumane? What about the cats?

But when the time came to leave, the fair fish was in the car with us.

 

 

Fair fish though are the most problematic of all fish (except maybe birthday party favor fish, which I have heard of). You are not ready. You are never ready for a fair fish.

Such was the case, for this fair fish. The fish bowl had a plant in it, and coming home at 10 p.m. I was not dealing with that. So instead, the fish into a mason jar – with its weirdly dyed blue water – and up onto the mantle.

It was about 9 a.m. when I realized how right Eryn was, when I walked in the front door to this.

Note the fish’s horrified expression.

Mama cat was beyond obsessed. I’d take her down. She’d go back up. I’d take her down again. She’d find a new way up. And so on, and so on.

The fish was moved to the kitchen on the oven, not a place Mama cat usually goes. Then, I got it a real bowl.

But alas, the stress of the whole ordeal from fair to cat was too much for fair fish. And like so many of the fair fish from the glorious day in Columbia County, by the time I got back with fish food (instead of the crackers crumbs I’d been tossing in), fair fish was dead.

As my mother texted me “best not to get too attached to fair fish.”

Even so, they continue to make the best stories. Rest in peace fair fish. It was a lot.

 

 

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DIY wooden diamond planter

I was scrolling through Pinterest when I picture of this planter by Deuce Cities Hen House stopped me in my tracks. I loved the lines of it and the look of the raw wood so I figured I would try to make a version of it myself.

Like a lot of people who DIY, I wanted to modify to use mostly things I had on hand or that would fit my budget.

As is often the case when I tackle projects like this, one of the things I missed the most was my Dad’s workshop. I don’t have any fancy saws – just a cheap jig saw – and since I don’t have space for things like a workbench I end up standing outside in the flowers working off the side of my deck because it is just the right height, and sawdust friendly.

This is what you do in your 20s, right?

Either way, I really liked the results.

The wood I used is a little flimsier and the cuts aren’t quite as crisp so you can see I made a few modifications. Instead of the ring for the planter, I made a flat shelf because there was no way I was going to get the ring cut with the jigsaw. I then used a bit of strong to help balance the planter.

But overall, I really like the look of it and what’s the point of DIY if not to find ways to make things work for you?

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This week I am…

Okay, so by this week what I really mean is these past two weeks because life happens. But that just makes this post all the more interesting so here we go.

Adventuring to

The Seacrest Wolf Preserve where you can pet pure bred wolves! I am pretty sure they are the only place in the county that allow that and they just happen to be about an hour from Panama City. Eryn and I have been meaning to go for over a year.

They have a strange rule that you can only bring disposable cameras in so CVS has informed me it will be up to 14 days before I have pictures. But in the mean time, here is one of me and Buttercup the skunk. I did not realize skunks had such cute faces.

Getting Fancy For

All the girls in the office went out for a Ladies Night cocktail party last weekend, which of course triggered the “what the heck do I wear for this” question. I went shopping, nothing spoke to me so I ended up wearing a dress I wear to work all the time. But I made it “fancy” with a fake pearl headband I stole from my sister at least a decade ago. This headband – with an elastic band so stretched out it has to be bobby pinned in – is my go to fancy trick. You can see it documented in photos of several other events like this one, but IT WORKS. People always compliment despite the fact I am pretty sure it came from Claires.

The doll cannot be explained.

Cooking

Argentinian Food! Eryn and I attended a cooking class and learned how to make some very cheesy crepes. They were very good and so rich. And because Eryn is drawn like a moth to light by any sort of product placement, she spent the whole time making a list of kitchen gadgets to stuff my place with.

Reading

I’m late to the party on his one, but Hillbilly Elegy. So if you haven’t heard this from 500 people yet, it’s a great read. I learned so much not only about Hillbilly culture, but also about my parents. And while I will always be a true blue democrat, I have a far better appreciation for the Republican mantra of personal responsibility and how that has to be a part of the dialogue.

Binge watching

Queer Eye. I never watched the originals but guys this show is the best. It’s basically feminism for men. Like this show is all the proof you need the men need feminism as much as women do because all these men need to turn their lives around is a small dose of things usually thought of as “female.” Rock that face mask. Care about your clothing. Spend some time designing your house. Have heart to heart conversations. It’s A+.

It has also inspired Eryn to start her own Amazon wishlist of Queer Eye product placement. If anyone wants to send us a $300 Roomba, let me know.

Heading outside to

Kayak! Still inspired by Pocahontas, Eryn and I had a blast kayaking and looking for shells last week at Camp Helen State Park.

We’ve gotten much better at using our two person inflatable kayak, though we still get a lot of strange looks.

And now it’s off to the next round of adventures.

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DIY Clay Wall Hangings

With Pinterest seemingly becoming less and less relevant (is anyone else having an issue where no matter who you follow or what you do your feed feels like it is all ads and no good crafts?) I have taken to scrolling Urban Outfitters apartment section when I need a dose of inspiration.

It’s perfect because it’s always too expensive to consider buying no matter how much I like (#journalismpay) but usually capable of being DIY-ed with a little bit of thought.

I have this beautiful set of French doors into my dining room, and I needed something to flank either side of them. I had some antlers but really they were too small, and I wanted something different (and cheaper to make) than a weaving.

That’s when I spotted these guys.

I love them. They’re textural but not fuzzy, so they won’t collect dirt the way a macrame I made seems too. I haven’t seen them everywhere yet. And they are just beautiful.

The second one I deemed too hard to DIY well.

The first one however was perfect. The Urban version uses metal, clay and and stone, but I used sculpey oven bake clay, gold foil, chain and a dowel. This is how it came out.

Here’s the step by step.

1. A rolled out the sculpey clay using a marble rolling pin, I like because it’s heavy and then used a cup as a cutter to cut out the circles. They’re about three inches across. I made three “flesh colored circles, 4 white colored ones, 4 all while half circles and three ‘marbled’ half circles.

2. I used a toothpick to cut out the holes and then on the “flesh” colored ones, I used a popsicle stick to add a bit of texture.

3. Bake per package instructions.

4. While baking, screw in eyelets to the dowel. Two on top for the chin it will hang from, and three off the bottom for the different strand to hang from.

5. Cut the chain. To make sure everything hangs evenly, the chain has to be cut pretty precisely. I counted links, but essentially I did 2 in, 2in, 2 1/2in, 1 1/2 in and 1 in for the two sides and  and 2in, 2in, 1 1/2 in, 1 1/2 in and 2in for the middle strand.

4. When the clay gets out of the oven and cools, gold foil the four white circles to add a bit of interest.

5. Lay them out in the pattern seen above. Attached a jump ring to each hole and use that to attach the chain to the disks.

6. String them all together, attach the chain across the top and hang them up.

I love how they turned out. It fills the space and it cost me under $20 to make the pair.

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This week I have been

Working. So much. But that’s not really what anyone wants to hear about so here’s else I have been up to:

Reading

I have speed read through not one, or two but three Harry Potter books this week. It’s just so relaxing and throughly distracting to revisit Hogwarts, even if it marred by Voldemort’s insistence on returning.

I have Hillbilly Elegy sitting next to my bed, and I’ve been meaning to read it, but I just haven’t felt like I had the brain power at the end of the day. Maybe next week.

Looking for

Shells. I used to collect buckets full of lady slippers when I was a kid at the beach. I brought every single one home with my that didn’t have a hole in it, which seemed to be most of them.

These days I’m not much better. I’ve been bringing home bags full of shells from the beach, and I still don’t know for sure what to do with them. I’ve stashed some in flower gardens, andI have a small bowl sitting on my coffee tables as I find them soothing to look at. I love how there is no reason for them to be pretty, but they are. I consider it a small sign of the goodness in the universe.

A fun surprise this week was finding some shells I hadn’t seen before inside of a sea urchin.

Watching

On Netflix, I’m watching One Day at a Time. It’s so funny and really brilliant at showing a lot of different perspectives without making anyone out to be the bad guy.

And then of course, I have been watching so much Olympics. It’s extra motivating during gym workouts, especially all the people who have come back from injuries.

Relaxing with

Essential oils and face masks.

I had an issue with week where my ear was so full of wax I had to go to the clinic and get professional help to hear again. It made me very crabby.

But I finally broke down about two weeks ago and got an essential oil diffuser. It’s magic when it come to relaxing, especially when you pair it with a facemask.

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This week I…

Actually, a more accurate title would be these past two weeks, but that doesn’t sound as good. But here’s what I’ve been up to.

Daytripping to: 

Wakulla Springs and Apalachicola on one day and then out to 30A to ride bikes on another. It’s been nice cool weather to get outside and do a little exploring/visiting of some favorite haunts outside of Panama City.

That’s a baby gator on the alligator’s tail. Apparently the mom will protect the little gators for the first two years and in the next picture get ready to see a baby manateee. As Eryn says the Wakulla boat tour is the best $8 you can spend.

 

Then 30A is the best place to ride to bikes. As Eryn says (again) you are punished for having a car. Also the window shopping is great a.k.a. Expensive and tempting.

Eating

Eryn and I are really trying to eat healthier, which means I have mostly reverted back to a diet of avocados. But, we did cheat when we were at 30A and had the best donuts of our lives. I had the Emerald Coast, which was a coconut donut that managed to not be too sweet (a feat when you consider how much sugar seems to go into all Southern baking) and Eryn had a raspberry cheesecake donut. Look how cute it was.

Buying

I’ve been really, really stressed out at work for a lot of reasons. Some my fault, some not so much. But as part of the all important effort to calm the fuck down, I’ve bought myself some new books and a couple (well kind of a lot) of plants).

Watching

The Olympics, of course. I love hearing the athletes back stories and I root for literally everyone.

I also binge watched Grace and Frankie the other week, because I adore how they portray getting old. Sure, there are real issues, but it’s not the end of the world.

And Eryn and I are slowly watching One Day at a Time. They did such a good job casting a diverse group, and the writers do an excellent job of showing differing viewpoints without making anyone a jerk.

Note, I pretty much exclusively watch shows where I think everyone is trying to be a good person. It’s a dealbreaker for me.

Excited about

I ran 5 miles on the elliptical the other day and lasted a little over 40 minutes. I’m training to do a 5K in a month so I need to build up my endurance.

 

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DIY facial oils for oily skin

For literally as long as I can remember, I have had acne. I am pretty sure I got my first zit in second grade.

My skin is OILY. The kind of oil where there is residue on the screen after I talk on the phone or where if I touch my face and then a polished desk I leave perfect oil fingerprints. Clearly, a career as a thief is not in my future.

But anyways, recently I feel like I have been hearing about the magic of facial oils on the time. Bloggers rave about them. They sell them in such pretty bottles at the store. And the prevailing belief seems to be even if you have oily skin adding more oils is a good idea. It seems that by adding oil, you can get your own oil glands to stop making so much oil. Plus, some of the other oils in the serum, tea tree and frankincense most notably, will serve as acne fighting machines.

Admittedly, I’m skeptical. Skeptical enough I don’t want to pay $80 for a tiny bottle of oil. But not so skeptical, I won’t pay $30 to make my own version to try.

Here’s what you need:

1. A brown jar (helps preserves the oils better) with a dropper

2. Jojoba Oil – a dryer carrier oil and therefore better for oily skin

3. Tea tree oil – An acne fighting machine as he helps dry it out and is antibacterial

3. Frankincense oil – decreases pore size; helps with scarring

4.  Lavender oil – antibacterial; helps soothe skin

5. Lemongrass oil  – antibacterial; astringent

Note: There are many other essential oils out there that people (and some studies) say are good for acne, such as juniper berry or clary sage. These are just the ones I went with.

Directions:

Pour all the jojoba oil in the bottle. Then I added about 20 drops to tea tree, 40 drops of frankincense (because my oil was diluted with jojoba oil to keep the cost down), 10 drops of lavender and 10 drops of lemongrass. Shake it and use one to two drops on our face after showering.

I’ve been using it for about a week, so not long enough to know if it’s working or not. But it does smell good in the mornings and it can’t hurt to try.

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Doing the Right Thing

Note: I wrote this one year ago, but decided to delay publishing in case anyone from work read it. I figured one year is enough time to make this post not gossipy but old news, and maybe someone else will learn something from this. 

Doing the right thing is really hard. Take this example from work.

A couple months ago, our social media editor quit in a fit of a rage. It was very dramatic, and more importantly to this story it left his position open in a time where an entire other department was being laid off.

Our editor ended up with two choices – an inside candidate and an outside candidate. I was fortunate enough to be looped in on the interviews for the outside candidate, and was told afterwards they were looking to hire her.

But then, the inside candidate — who was basically in a I need to get this job or an unemployment check position — was training next to me all day for days. And she didn’t know the other candidate was being so seriously considered, but everyone else did. It felt like she was being blind sided, and it felt wrong. I wasn’t the only person that thought so.

So I told her about the other candidate. I said “nothing’s definite, but  I think you should know they are talking pay with the other candidate.” It really seemed like the right thing to do and other people told me it was the right thing to do.

But then, one week later the pay negotiations were falling apart with the outside candidate, and I get looped in on that. Turns out, it seems more like the inside candidate is going to get the job.

So now, I’ve given the inside candidate bad information. I feel awful about that, so then I have to go back and tell her “hey looks like things are changing, so I wanted to set the record straight and tell you that.” And I think it was the right thing to do to tell her that, but now I just feel like a gossip. But if I hadn’t told her in the first place, I would have felt complicit in stringing her along.

Basically, I have no idea what the “right thing” to do is, and I’m just trying the best I can. What would you have done? Am I just meddlesome?

 

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Bucket Lists

I recently found a bucket list I had written out about four years ago. It was funny seeing how much I had done, but also how much I had forgotten about.

For example, item 31 was see a solar eclipse. Good news, 21-year-old Katie, I’ll be checking that off next week.

In that spirit, here is my lasted bucket list:

1. Complete a Warrior Dash without crying (slated for March 10)

2. Zipline in a rainforest

3.  Skydiving

4. Get a PhD

5. Learn to throw pottery

6. See the Big Sur

7. Actually lots of traveling

8. Hike the Presidentials in New Hampshire

9. Have a go to drink at a bar (so elusive)

10. Do a house renovation (including learning the basics of plumbing, electric, Sheetrock and framing)

11. Win Pulitzer
And some more checked off items from that original list:

1. Swim with manatees

2. Become certified scuba diver

3. Go to Yellowstone

4. Do a road trip

5. Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans

6. See Monet’s waterlillies

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Big goals for August

I’m crabby.

Recently, this none-too-pleased look Daisy is demonstrating so well has become my go-to resting bitch face. I’m crabby about work (looonngggg list of reasons there). I’m crabby about my weight. I’m crabby about money (where does it all go??). I’m crabby about vacations not taken.

Basically, I’m a crab monster. And as fun as that has been for everyone who dares to cross my path, I suppose it’s time to be an adult, recongize my power in my own happiness and make some changes (<— God, that sounds horrendously cliche).

So armed with a notebook, some financial apps, pinterest and some common sense, here are the changes hopefully coming to a theatre near me.

  1.  $50 of extra spending a week. Based on my calculations, if I hit that number my Bank of America app will stop yelling at me. Eventually.
  2. Put $80 a month into my retirement account, because if I do that I can’t stop working one day.
  3. With the exception of all the cool stories I get to work on and cool things I like implementing, it’s time to stop talking about work outside of a work. There has to be other things out there in the world to talk about.
  4. And actually while at work stop talking so much about work, more importantly coworkers. You do not need to know who said what about who or failed to do what part of their job. More importantly, you don’t need to tell other people who said what or who didn’t do what. You really, really don’t.
  5. Go exerise. Whining about your weight does not count as exercise, go walk. Maybe you can become one of those annoying work people who talk about fitness all the time.
  6. Take one trip a season. I’m thinking somewhere with a pool for summer, somewhere with some mountains for fall, a cool city in the winter and if we are lucky (/dedicated to the $50 a week rule) a cool tropical vacation for Belize.
  7. Go volunteer more. If you have the free time to be crabby, you have the free time to volunteer.
  8. Start making some cool stuff again. You need some cool shelves in the kitchen, a neat beach cover up and some soap. Get to it.
  9. While you are at it, clean up your house a little better. While poor Eryn makes dinner, seems like a good time for you to contribute.
  10. While we are on the topic of good habits, let’s establish a good nightly skin care routine, a morning workout, blogging (do I say this every time I actually post something?) and maybe go to bed and wake up at reasonable times.

What habits do you have to help keep you from being a monster?

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