Weekend Coffee Share: Life is Looking Up

If we were having coffee, it means I’m emerging from another hermit stage.  In all the changes over the past month, I’ve become a recluse, hardly seeing or reaching out to anyone besides my parents.  I’ve definitely been tossing my blogging schedule out the window, but I just didn’t have the will to sit and write.  Plus, I didn’t want my readers to drown in my negative attitude.  So, although I continued writing in private, my posts have been limited.

Thankfully, things are looking up.  I’m here again in the metaphysical coffee shop with you, ready to talk.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that orchard season is finally over!  Yesterday was our last day.  In many ways, it was a wonderful season.  All our records were smashed–we had the biggest crowds, biggest harvest, biggest sales.  My family is really thankful for all the people who came out this year, but oh boy…  We are exhausted.  It’s been a long haul, working six days a week for the past three months.  I’m really looking forward to having normal weekends and a manageable schedule again.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my birthday on Tuesday was an absolute blast.  Although I spent the first half working, I took the afternoon off.  My mom and I went shopping at the Mall of America, where we both spent WAY too much money.  It was good, though.  I got new pants, a sweater, and some really pretty scarves.  We had dinner at a fancy restaurant, where they gave me free cake.  At home, I unwrapped gifts, which included a vintage typewriter!  The ribbon is very faint, so I can’t use it at the moment, but what a perfect gift for a blossoming writer.  I’m excited to put it to good use.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about how my new job as Interim Director of my local Chamber of Commerce is going well and there is an end in sight.  I finally have the day-to-day tasks figured out and the chronic anxiety is ebbing.  We had a Board of Directors meeting last week, where everyone was really kind and encouraging.  Despite feeling under-qualified and constantly stressed, I seem to be doing a good job.

That being said, we’ve been interviewing candidates for the Executive Director position and I think we’ve found the perfect one.  If all goes well in the hiring process, I will pass the torch over to her in December.  Which means there is light at the end of the tunnel on my end!

If we were having coffee, you’d learn a secret: My next big adventure might be just around the corner.  No decisions have been finalized, but I’ve been exploring international possibilities.  If things go well (and people actually return my emails), returning to Europe might be closer than I ever dreamed was possible.  I’ll give more details as plans become solidified.

In the meantime, it feels so good to have a sense of direction again!

Now it’s time to pass things over to you.  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of a link-up at Part Time Monster

Twenty Three Years and Counting

Twenty three years ago, I entered the world.

I’m torn between feeling very old and very young.  On the one hand, I’m not a student anymore, which means adulthood is here to stay.  On the other, I frequently get mistaken for a high schooler when out in public.  Which is both annoying and flattering.

But hey, twenty three!  Two years past being able to legally drink, two years until I can rent a car.

My brothers were home the other night to celebrate.  We had family dinner, opened gifts, ate cake, and watched Inside Out.  I got a new sweater and scarf, two free passes to my local ski hill, and Howl’s Moving Castle on DVD.

As far as birthdays go, this year isn’t exactly dramatic or exciting.  I mean, last year there was a blizzard.  Two years ago, I was in England.  Today, I’ve got a board meeting and a long slog of office hours.  When work is done, Mom and I are heading to the cities to do something fun, which will keep me going through the bore of work .

I’m excited to not be twenty-two.  It was definitely a tough year, filled with rocky friendship moments, endings, and transitons.  I’m looking forward to a year that is bigger, brighter, and filled with possibilities.

Twenty three years and counting, here I come!

Lilly and the Unicorn Magic

In the midst of cleaning, I’ve discovered many of my early attempts at writing.  Did you know that I wrote a fifty page story about fairies when I was in fifth grade?  Yeah.  Neither did I.

I also discovered the following story that I penned at the age of ten.  I found it to be wonderfully awful, so I present to you:

Lilly and the Unicorn Magic

One lovely day, Princess Lilly of the Fairies was out in the castle gardens with her best friend, Violet.

“Mmm,” said Lilly while sniffing a rose.

“You have such a beautiful garden, Lilly. How do you manage it?” asked Violet.

“Well, we use fairy magic,” replied Lilly.

“Oh yes! Fairy magic! How can I be so stupid?” asked Violet.

“Sorry Violet, Mother is calling me! I’ll meet you at the Daisy Slide this afternoon!”

Lilly rushed into the Rose Palace.

“There you are!” Queen Rose exclaimed. “Didn’t you hear me calling?”

“Mother, I’m fifteen now. You don’t need to worry about me as much,” complained Lilly.

“I know you’re fifteen, but that doesn’t keep a fifteen year old from coming when she’s told”

“Yes, mother,” sighed Lilly.

“Now go up to your room and get changed out of that filthy dress!” Queen Rose ordered.

As Lilly fluttered up to her room, she wondered what it would be like to live a life where there were no rules, no one to boss you around, to be free! Lily chose out a fancy dress and took off her old one. Then she dashed through some corridors, sped into the ballroom, slid down the banister, and hurried into the throne room.

“What took you so long, dear?” Queen Rose asked.

Lilly didn’t answer. She was too fascinated with what she saw. A beautiful princess was standing on a flying carpet with a gift in her hand.

“I am Dawning, the Gypsy princess. I have noticed it is your daughter’s birthday today,” she said.

“I completely forgot!” gasped Queen Rose.

“Me too!” Lilly added.

“Well, at least I remembered!” laughed Dawning. The gypsy handed the present to Lilly. “Open it later,” she said.

Dawning then flew out of the room. An old lady in tattered clothes came in. “I am the unicorn herder, Madiline. Here is my gift to Princess Lilly.” The old lady left the room. She reentered leading a baby unicorn. It was midnight blue with a silver mane and a transparent horn on its head. Its hooves were black as coal and had eyes like the stars in the sky.

“This is Starlight. His mother Moonbeam wanted me to present him as a birthday gift,” Madiline said. Bowing, she left the room. Madiline was a close friend of the queen and always gave Lilly a baby unicorn for her birthday. Lilly received her first one when she was ten. She now has unicorns named Rosebud, Vica Violet, Morning Glory, and Kingstoil. Lilly loved unicorns. Rosebud was due to have a baby!

“Thank you, Maddi! I love him!” said Lily while stroking the mystical animal.

As Madiline left, a fat dwarf came waddling in. “Hullo! I’m Stubbs! Lilly, you’ve grown a lot! Here, in addition to all your emeralds, sapphires, rubies, topazes, amethysts, gold, and silver, I give you a chest of aquamarines!” said the dwarf, who always gave Lilly a chest of gems.

“Thank you again, Stubbs,” said Queen Rose.

From Apple the pixie, Lily got seeds for golden woods. From Melinda the mermaid, Lilly got five beautiful fish. Last, but not least, her fairy godmother Stacivia gave her a magic book.

After a grand feast with her guests, Lilly met Violet at the Daisy Slide.

“Happy birthday!” Violet said and handed a not so neatly wrapped gift to Lilly. Lilly opened it. Inside was s tiny white kitten with a pink nose and blue eyes.

“Wildcat’s kitten!” exclaimed Lilly. “Oh Violet, this is my favorite present of all! What is her name?”

“You can name her,” said Violet.

“Oh wow, I can? Hmm… I dub thee… Snowball!” Lilly petted the kitten. Snowball purred. “Want to see my presents?”

“Sure,” said Violet.

The two girls went to Lilly’s stables. Violet marveled at Starlight’s beauty saying, “Wow, he’s beautiful!” Lilly was feeding Morning Glory a bleakburn berry when she noticed something strange. Rosebud was lying on her back. Her mouth was open and music was coming out of it.

“Violet, quick! It’s Rosebud!” Lilly yelled. They ran to Rosebud.

A few minutes went by. Suddenly, there was a flash of light. Lying next to Rosebud was a baby unicorn. Rosebud neighed.

“His name is Bristlethorn,” said Lilly.

“How do you know?” asked Violet.

“Rosebud told me.”

That night, Lilly told her mother all about Rosebud’s baby. “His name is Bristlethorn!” said Lily.

“Bristlethorn? You should have named him better,” said Queen Rose.

“I can’t name him, Mother. I told you, Rosebud named him and told me,” said Lilly.

“Well, your horse doesn’t have good taste then,” replied the Queen.

“Unicorn,” corrected Lilly.

“Whatever. Off to bed now. You have your ball tomorrow,” said Queen Rose.

Lilly flew up to her room. She put on her nightgown and crawled into her very large bed. She dreamed of unicorns all night.

The next morning, Lilly looked at her calendar. It was the first day of a new month. Each month had twenty-five days. It was the first day of Jewly. The day of Lilly’s ball came. Princesses from all over came. Lilly was only a child, but being a princess she had a ball every year. Fairies live until they’re about three hundred, so you are not of age until you are one hundred. Lilly was stuck inside all day getting her make up on. She had a marvelous dress to wear.

At six o’clock, the guests arrived. All the snobby dukes and princesses came. To Lilly’s surprise, her older brother was there. He had run away ten years earlier. Lilly ran up to him and gave him a big hug.

“Cornflower! What are you doing here?” Lilly asked him.

“I have come home to live,” he said, “and I have brought something with me.”

“What is it?” Lilly asked in excitement.

Cornflower motioned to a lady. The woman stepped forward. She was tall, had flowing honey brown hair, and amber eyes.

“This is Primrose, my wife and your new sister. Primrose, this is Lilly my sister,” said Cornflower.

“Hello, Lilly. I am so excited about getting to know you. You can call me Aunt Rosie,” said Primrose.

“But you’re my sister,” stated Lilly.

“Well, call me Rosie,” said Primrose.

After the ball was over, Primrose didn’t act as sweet anymore. She interrupted the Queen and called her mom. She was always muttering, “When I am queen…” Under her breath.

Months went by. Lilly’s birthday came again. She got many presents. Her new unicorn was named Firespin and he was blazing orange. Rosebud had another baby. She was silver. Her name was Silvermane. Mazy Daisy had a baby. She was sky blue and was named Skylight. Lucky Clover’s baby was black. Her name was Duskfall. Morning Glory’s baby was a she and was white as snow and was named Snowmane. Vica Violet had a golden baby and he was named MorningSun. Now Lilly had fourteen unicorns.

Primrose had a baby boy named Snapdragon. She cooed over her little boy. He was the heir to the throne. Queen Rose got very ill. Lily rushed to her room. She stood at her mother’s side.

“I love you, Lilly. Primrose is an ugly gift. I love you, Lilly,” with that, the queen fell unconscious.

Right then, Primrose rushed into the room. “Lilly! What have you done? Oh my god, she’s dead!” she screeched. She pushed Lilly from the room. So passed Rose, Queen of the fairies, daughter of Elenore. Lilly ran to her room and bawled. Primroe didn’t allow her to see her mother’s funeral. Lilly had managed to keep her unicorns secret from Primrose and Cornflower. One day she was followed by little Snapdragon to the unicorns. Snapdragon ran to toll his mommy about the unicorns. Primrose followed her angel to the stables.

“Lilly! What are you doing! Those are dangerous beasts!” Primrose yelled. Lilly jumped. “Now let’s cut off their horns and be all-powerful!” Primrose said, her eyes glinting.

She grabbed a scythe from the wall and was about to swing it at Starlight when Lilly rushed to block the blow. Lilly thought it was the end. A light blocked the blow and saved Lilly. Primrose fled in fear.

Lilly had trained her unicorns to come when she whistled. “When I whistle, come. Goodbye!” Lilly flew up to her room. The year Lilly turned sixteen she got a box that holds any amount of things inside from Dawning. It could grow or shrink to the size needed. Lilly packed her things into the box, shrunk it so it would fit in her pocket, and went to her garden. She collected all the seeds from the flowers and put them into separate pouches. Lilly grew expensive flowers and gave them to Violet. Violet’s mother was a servant in the castle so Violet was Lilly’s only friend. After Lilly collected the flower seeds, she set the unicorns free. Then she ran to the hut Violet and her family lived in. Lilly knocked on the door. Violet opened it.

“Lilly, what are you doing here?” asked Violet.

“Primrose found the unicorns. I set them free and am running away. Do you know where I can stay?” asked Lilly.

“Yeah, see that open lot next to our house? Build a house there,” answered Violet.

Lilly went to the lot and poured lots of fairy dust on it. A large hut magically grew there. Lilly went to the hut and opened the door. It was empty with a dirt floor. Lilly unpacked her things. She had a long day and was exhausted. She crawled into her bed and went to sleep.

She woke up hungry. She had breakfast and went to Violet’s house. Violet came out carrying a leaf bag full of books.

“Time to go to school,” she said. They walked to the schoolhouse. There, a group of girls were chatting. “Hi girls, this is Lilly. She will be joining our group. So introduce yourselves,” said Violet.

A girl with honey colored hair and brown eyes stepped forward. “I’m Iris. Pleased to meet you,” she said.

A girl with blonde hair and blue eyes said, “I’m Buttercup. How do you do?”

“I’m Chicory,” said a blonde curly-haired girl with blue eyes.

“I am Columbine,” said a girl with brown eyes and short brown hair.

“Hi Lilly! I’m Thrift!” said a girl with short, curly red hair and green eyes.

A girl with long gold-brown hair said, “I’m Yarrow.”

Last , a girl with curly dark brown hair and brown eyes said, “Hello, my name is Ladysmock. You can call me Lady.”

THIS IS AS FAR AS I GOT.

Here are my thoughts:

  • At beginning, it says she takes her dress off, but never says she puts the new one on. So basically Lilly goes through her entire birthday celebration naked.
  • How do you forget your birthday when there’s all these people giving you gifts?
  • Lilly never actually opened the gift from Dawning the Gypsy Princess
  • If fairies live to be 300 and she gets gifts like this every year, where will she put it all?
  • The unicorn birthing scene was pretty magical.  I mean… music comes out of their mouth, there’s a flash of light… and voila!  Hello, baby unicorn!
  • Lilly’s mom is SUPER unsupportive.  Woah.
  • The passage of time is really weird
  • Cornflower??? What was I thinking???  What kind of name is that?
  • All of a sudden all the unicorns start having lots of babies and I’m torn between being disgusted by their awfully written descriptions and the desire to own a unicorn army of my own.
  • Why was I so obsessed with flower names?
  • The queen’s death is the most dramatic, masterful death ever created in all of literature.  Also, her last words… what.
  • DUDE, Primrose… chopping off the unicorn’s horns?  That got dark fast.
  • You really ran far from home, Lilly. You really think Primrose won’t be able to find you in a hut on the castle grounds?  Nice work.
  • How many people in this story have honey-brown hair?  And seriously… how many friends are there at school?

All I know from finding this story is that I was a very special child.

What do you think, readers?  What’s the weirdest part of the story?  What’s your favorite part?  If you could re-write it, what would you change and why?

Surprise

 

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived at my apartment after my last class only to be ushered swiftly into my bedroom, where I was forced to stay for half an hour.  I could hear commotion in the main room, but was not allowed out.

Turns out, my roommates planned and threw me a surprise birthday party!  There were decorations, snacks, pizza, gifts, games, and laughter.  It was a fantastic evening and I’m so thankful to be surrounded by such lovely people!

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Have you ever been surprised on your birthday?  What happened?  Tell me your stories in the comments!

Twenty Two

I might as well come right out and say it… today is my birthday.

Slogging through six inches of snow was not how I imagined spending my first day of being twenty-two.  But this is Minnesota, and Minnesota does what it wants.

On this day last year, I was in Oxford, England.  How many people can say they spent their twenty-first birthday in Oxford?  (British people aside, that is.)  It was one of the best days I’ve ever had.  I splurged on shopping, toured some of the colleges, and had my first drink at the Eagle and Child pub.  It was quite the adventure, and you can hear all about it (and see pictures!) on my old study abroad blog.

My twenty-second birthday is definitely not as epic, but still has been incredibly special.  My mom came to visit yesterday.  We drove up the road to Alexandria and went antique shopping, wandered around town, and had a special dinner at an expensive restaurant.  We sat eating for several hours, enjoying each other’s company and opening cards and gifts.  The day ended relaxing in her hotel, where we did some online shopping.

I spent the night in the hotel and had the joy of commuting to campus in five inches of snow.  The local school district cancelled everything today, but the University never closes.  I keep telling myself that God just wanted to drop LOTS of natural confetti to celebrate my special day… it’s a nice thought, but not super effective.

Outside of the normal Monday routine, do I have anything special birthday plans?  Not really.  All my normal Monday night events were cancelled due to the ghastly weather.  So it looks like I’ll be staying in and watching movies with the roommates.  It’ll be nice.  I’ll wear comfy clothes, eating goodies, and avoiding homework because…

I’ll also be rocking out to the following song in my head, even though I absolutely loathe it.  But it’s my birthday.  I’m twenty-two.  I’m going to break all my rules.  (Then go back to loathing it tomorrow.)

Keeping my chin up

Stress levels continue to run high in College Land.  No, not to the extent where the raging College Monster attacks, but I’m definitely burning out and doing so fast.  However, I have compiled a list of things to help keep my chin up.

1. It is Thursday.

Tomorrow is Friday.  Which means it’s the weekend.  Lots of homework, but no class!

2. Rewatching The Office

I’ve seen the first few seasons more times than I can count, but they never cease to be absolutely wonderful.

3. Mother is Coming

On Sunday, my mom is making the 3.5 hour drive to visit me in Morris.  We have a fun day out planned, including shopping, exploring Alexandria, and a nice dinner.  It’ll be good to spend time with her and get out of this tiny town.

4. My Birthday

It’s on Monday, which is exciting!

5. The new Into the Woods trailer

Not going to lie, I’m a bit skeptical about this one. As fabulous as Meryl Streep is, she’s no Bernadette Peters.  But it looks absolutely beautiful!

6. Pudding.

Am I going to eat pudding in the near future?  Probably not.  But the thought of it always makes me feel better.

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Baking disasters

Baking requires lots of ingredients.

Mix from a box plus water plus oil plus eggs equals a lovely yellow cake.

But, I learned the other day, that it takes more than simply mixing all the ingredients in a bowl and tossing the dough in the oven.

Other ingredients include patience, gentleness, and an acute sense of timing.

As you can see from the below picture, my roommate (and fellow blogger) Adi and I possessed the first set of ingredients, but lacked the second.

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Patience?  Nope.  We didn’t let the cake cool long enough before decorating.

Gentleness?  Nope.  We butchered the thing while attempting frosting.

Acute sense of timing?  Well, we partially had that one.  The cake itself tasted great!

Yes, we more than kind of failed at our baking attempt.  But the important thing is that Katie, our roommate whose birthday we were celebrating, loved it.  The weirdness, as she told us later, made it so much better.

Have you ever had any baking disasters?  What were you making and what happened?