Wednesday, August 21, 2013

30 by 30 Update

It's been about a month since I committed to accomplishing 30 special things before I hit my 30th birthday, and I think it's time for an update. I'm happy with my progress so far, and thrilled that I already have something to show you!

Having a 30 by 30 list has really helped me direct life a little. I love making lists, so this sort of thing just naturally appeals to me, but it's so much more motivating than say, the 101 in 1001 list. Having only a year to complete all of these things keeps me thinking about them often, and I chose realistic things that I am really excited to accomplish. This idea is really suiting me well!

So here's how I've done so far.

3. Make 10 different "works of art" (okay, decorative crafts) to hang in the house. (6/10)

I already had a handful of these accomplished (I'll post pictures of them all when I totally cross this one off my list!), so while it may seem like I've been doing nothing but playing artist lately, I really just added one more to the list. I really wanted a picture of our Charlotte house to be displayed somehow, but a photo of it just felt kind of...cheesy. A painting felt more personal and invested, and I was really excited for the challenge!

Matt and I both really loved our Charlotte house. It was our first home together (aside from our apartment, but it was our first mutually owned home). We spent the start of our marriage here, and brought our first baby home to this house. It holds a lot of great memories for us, and as happy as we are to be back in Buffalo, we often talk about how great our house was and how much we miss it. Paying tribute to it in our current home felt right. Though I am no practiced painter, I woke up one Saturday morning, and decided to just give it a shot! I looked around for the right image to base my drawing on and ended up picking some screen shots from google maps. It made me giddy to see that their current picture was still from when we owned it - our Sabres flag was still flying on the porch and everything! It wasn't a great picture by any means, but I wanted a sort of 2D view that I could make look kitschy and homemade. Besides, I'm just not skilled enough to attempt painting dimensions and shadows.

When it was full size on my computer screen, I used a ruler to measure the biggest shapes and used that as a scale for my drawing. I drew on acrylic paper with pencil and a really good polymer eraser. I sketched in details the best I could, but I got a little lazy with the trees. Truthfully, the idea of painting trees scared me, so I just kind of slapped them on there!

The scariest part was putting the actual paint on the paper. I kind of liked the pencil sketch the way it was, in a...I don't know, shabby kind of way. But I really wanted something worthy of framing and displaying in our house, so I went for it! I painted the main house parts first, and let me tell you....color mixing is NO JOKE! I should have taken a picture of my little paint blobs to show you how many colors I went through! Every time I thought I had the perfect color, I'd start putting it on the paper and it would look totally different. So I'd mix up another shade and paint over it. It was a long process, but I was determined to get the colors as close as I could - at least on the house itself. After a very late night, I had all of the paint on the paper!

The next morning, I used a very fine tip Sharpie to outline the windows - I felt like they needed a little more definition, but I wasn't about to trust myself with a tiny brush on lines that minuscule. And that's it! I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I'm so excited to frame it and find it's home on the walls of our new home! I'm actually a little worried that the paper is too big for a typical frame (I was thinking it was 8x10 for some reason, but it's slightly bigger), and I'll have to trim the edges...which will give me a heart attack. It was such a relaxing and rewarding experience, though, that I want to do it again! I'm thinking about painting our current house as well (and hanging them together), as well as painting someone's house for a gift (can't say, in case they read this!). It's not perfect, but it's exactly what I wanted!

Four more "works of art" to go on this list item, and I already have 3 of them planned and the supplies purchased! This is a really fun task to work on! :)

6. Make our family cookbook.

I'm really excited to get this one finished. I've only done planning so far, but it's a process that I'm really enjoying, and I'm so excited to have this for the future. I always worry that as a mom of boys, they won't care about having these sort of keepsakes (scrapbooks, cookbooks, baby books), but I'm hopeful that Lukas will at least appreciate this particular memento. He is SO very into cooking, and I hope that when he's older, he'll enjoy seeing what we used to have for family dinners and be able to make them himself! My game plan is to write down everything we have often, categorize them, then either type them up or write them out (I want them to look neat and span the ages, so typing seems like a good idea, but it would be even more of a keepsake to document them in my own handwriting), then compile them in our family cookbook in a pretty way. The great thing is that I'll be able to get use out of it now, as well as have something to pass onto my kids. I already have this great cookbook scrapbook kit my mom gave me, and I'm thinking about altering it a bit with modpodge and washi tape to fit my taste a little better.

So far, my progress has been to collect all of my recipes, and it's been a challenge. I have an index card box full of random recipes, a small recipe book with more scribbled on recipe cards, plus a bunch of cook books I pull out from time to time. I've been deciding which category each recipe fits into, and in the cases where they fit into more than one, I'm including a list of other options and which category they'll be found in. This is SO my sort of thing, I'm loving it so far!

13. Finish my movie to do list.

It's a pretty sprawling list that would crowd up this entry too much to share, but there are 55 movies on the list right now (I could potentially add more before the end!) and I've finished 5 of them so far. Slow start, but it's something!

16. Try food from misc countries/cultures that we've never tried before, take out or make at home. Include Indian, Japanese, Thai, Korean. (2/4)

Matt and I decided to start having a weekly date night in which we feed the kids, get them to bed early, and then eat dinner ourselves in the evening. I don't know why it took us so long to try this, but the idea of a hot meal shared between the two of us where we can have a conversation that isn't interrupted by a hundred requests and complaints about how they "hate broccoli" is kind of incredible. I really just thought those days were done for a while, but...we were just going about it the wrong way! The cool thing about this is that we can order take out from my #16 goals and not have to worry about the kids complaining that it's too gross.

The reason why this item made it to my list is that it's probably ridiculous that I haven't tried any of it before (unless you count vegetarian sushi from Wegman's take out cafe). I mean, how sheltered is that? I didn't want to make it to 30 and have to say that I've never tried any of them! So we used one of our date nights to get started, and we went with Indian food first. I was the most excited for this one for whatever reason, but when we went to order - I realized I had NO IDEA what I was doing! I ended up finding a local restaurant with an incredibly detailed menu, complete with pictures and descriptions of everything they had, and based on that, I was able to make my choices. I wanted us to get a bunch of things so we could kind of sample our way through typical Indian food, so that's what we did!

We got a Vegetable Platter appetizer which had Vegetable Samosas, Aloo Kababs, and Pakoras. They came with coriander and tamarind chutneys for dipping. I think the Samosas were my favorite of the three, and the tamarind chutney reminded me a lot of teriyaki sauce. The coriander was outrageously spicy and not really my thing, but it was Matt's favorite thing of our entire meal!

We also got their fresh hummus and naan, and these were probably my favorite part of the whole meal. They were both so incredibly delicious - I could have eaten a meal's worth!

For dinner, we went with Chicken Tikka Masala (if I haven't mentioned this before, I haven't been eating Vegetarian since about a month into this pregnancy - the anemia & cravings became too much to bear, I guess baby likes meat!). We'd heard this was a very typical Indian dish, and it sounded good to both of us. The only downside is that we had no idea it would be SO SPICY! We already figured out through the appetizer portion of our meal that spice seems to be a typical theme in Indian food, but we didn't realize how ridiculous it would really be. I can't imagine what it would have been like if we'd requested it HOT (which was an option when we called)! Our mouths were ON FIRE! Matt likes heat that is nearly unbearable, so he was all for it, but while I enjoy a little heat - I still like to taste my food, and my tongue was going numb! It came with basmati rice, and thank goodness for that and the Naan (and my multiple glasses of ice water), otherwise it wouldn't have been bearable! The chicken itself was really good, however, and I liked the yogurty flavor (that I could sort of taste beneath all that heat!).

For dessert, we ordered Kheer. Neither of us really knew what to expect, but their menu said that it won best dessert at The Taste of Buffalo a few years ago, so we decided to give it a try. Once we went through all of that spice, I was really thankful to have something cool and creamy to wash it down with! I was really happy with the Kheer - it was sweet, but not overly so - creamy, and it didn't feel like you were eating something terrible for you. I would definitely eat this again, and maybe even make it myself!

The verdict? I don't know that Indian is something I'd jump to suggest when we're looking for take out, but there were things about it I really enjoyed. So given the invitation to go to an Indian place, or when I'm looking for something interesting to cook at home myself, I'd do it! And we had a lot of fun tasting everything and experimenting with combinations. I love doing this sort of thing with my love, so I'm really excited to give the other ones a try!

Next up was Japanese! Once again, I was completely clueless about how to order. Since Wegmans Cafe was my only experience with sushi, I was very confused about how you order it, what the different types were, and how take out places charge for it. I was almost intimidated away from ordering because I was so lost! But that would defeat the purpose, right? So I ended up Googling around some more (what did people do before Google?!) and asking a friend for some details, and we finally figured it out. We wanted to sample some different things again, but I was a little limited due to being pregnant and all. I can't eat raw fish at the moment, so I had to pick things that were either vegetarian or cooked, and I also need to make sure I include protein at every meal, so it was a tricky little puzzle to put together, but we managed. We may have also picked some American influenced Japanese, because Chicken Teriyaki seems so very typical as a Japanese choice, but oh well! We ended up getting a good mix of sushi and typical Japanese meat dishes.

So for the main meal, we picked Grilled Chicken Teriyaki with Miso Soup as the side, and Beef Negimaki to split. The beef was really good - mostly the way it was seasoned - Matt commented that it tasted like a Steakum! haha The Chicken scared me a little, honestly. It wasn't what I thought it would be (I suspect it was a little more traditional than the Americanized version I expected). The hardest part for me to get around was the fact that it was dark meat. I'm just not a big meat fan in general (see: year-long vegetarianism!), so when it's all dark meaty and weird looking, I have an extra hard time. However, the veggies that came with it were really fresh and delicious! I enjoyed those a lot. We both thought the Miso soup was "okay"...but neither of us really loved it.

Then we both picked our own sushi to try - I went with an AAC roll (Avocado, Asparagus, and Cucumber) and a Vegetable Roll (Cucumber, Avocado, Lettuce & Oshinko). Matt went with the Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll & a Snow Crab Roll. I absolutely loved my sushi. I mean, LOVED! It was so fresh and delicious - I think the Vegetable Roll was my favorite. I've never had Oshinko before - it's like Japenese pickled veggies - and I really enjoyed it. I realize that this wasn't the most diverse sushi I could have tried, but I was limited and their menu wasn't very clear about their cooked options. Still, I learned a lot about ordering it - like what Maki vs Hand Roll means, and that we both prefer Maki! I would absolutely order this again, and possibly get even more diverse with the types I try once I'm no longer pregnant!

This was also another successful date night - though totally unplanned! We were going to grill chicken and veggies, but when we opened the chicken to marinate it, it smelled rotten! So being behind on time, we fed the kids their own dinner so we could get them to bed on time and then ordered our dinner afterwards. I'm really LOVING these nights!

25. Visit every park in Amherst with a playground and/or walking trail. (6/17)

Who knew there were so many parks? The crazy thing is, there are lots more than the ones I added to my list, but without a playground or walking trail, there isn't a lot of value in it for our family at this time. I don't want my family to feel inconvenienced by my list - I want them to be in on it, and this is an item that makes everyone happy! Our most recent park accomplishment was Island Park in Williamsville, and I can't believe we've never been there before! There's a ton for the kids to do there, and Ellicott Creek (that leads to Glen Falls just across the street) runs through it. They have lots of benches set along the creek bed so you can just sit and enjoy nature if that's more your speed. While we were there, a very friendly duck (in search of a snack) came up to us, and my kids were in awe! Henry loves ducks, so he was particularly excited about it. We took a bunch of cute pictures and videos of Henry following the duck around like a lost puppy. We didn't stay too long because there was rain looming and there was a group setting up for a big walk that evening and we didn't want to be in the way, but it was a great trip to the park, and the kids loved it!

26. Go to 5 new restaurants - preferably non-chain, local places. (2/5)

I love that there are so many things on my list that can cross something off multiple items, and here's one of those instances! The place where we ordered our Indian food from is a local restaurant (not a franchise) called Kabab & Curry. And it was certainly new to us! Our experience? We were very happy with it. The man we ordered from was very friendly and helpful, and while I wasn't there when Matt picked up our take out, he said it looked really nice in there and I've heard good things from others that have dined there. Their prices seemed reasonable compared to other nearby options, and despite being a bit overwhelmed by the spice - everything was really great quality! I think I could include the Japanese place we went, too - Koi Sushi. But I'm not 100% sure if it's non-franchise or not. So I'm not crossing it off for now. We also went to a new place for our anniversary dinner called Creekview. The food was really good, but the atmosphere wasn't very date-like - it was loud and crowded, and we had a hard time talking. They also have great views of Ellicott Creek, but we weren't seated in that area (which would have made the experience better, I think). Creekview is actually just across the creek from the Island Park we visited above!

15. Have a fancy-shmancy romantic candle lit dinner with Matt, at home after the kids are in bed.

Okay, I'm not crossing this one off, but I'm throwing it out there. We did this on our Indian & Japanese date nights, complete with the candles and everything, but when I made this task I envisioned creating a nice menu, planning out the whole experience, and cooking it myself. Indian & Japanese nights weren't exactly "fancy-shmancy", either, so I still want to do this one the way I intended. I'm not sure when I'll do it...maybe for his birthday, or even just when the mood strikes!

Not too bad for month number 1!

So far, the item I'm the most worried about is #2. I usually read about 30-35 books a year, and this task would require me to get through 53. I haven't been reading many books lately - I've been busy with so many other things (summer is just crazy for us as it is), and I'm not sure if I can keep up in the middle of all the other things I'm doing! So we'll see. I might end up altering that task to hitting 225 books instead of 250. I can absolutely get 28 done.

So, until next month! :)

1 comment:

  1. I have a 60x60 list and I am scratching things off like crazy! This week we went zip lining! I am very impressed with your list...a family cookbook? Wow! My mom actually did that last year and gave them to us for Christmas, with antidotes, stories and such. She asked different family members to contribute recipes with stories. She even added photos. Love the book. And your old house? Oh my, such work. Great post!