Jenyfer Matthews
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January 29th, 2015
Kicking (My) Butt

Just before the new year, one of my co-workers was saying that she really wanted to get back into working out. I flippantly suggested that she should try kick-boxing. She did a quick search and found a class at a gym in town and said she’d do it – if I did it too. The first two classes were free so I thought what the heck, it might be fun.

There are a lot of ways to describe the class, but “fun” is perhaps not the word that would spring to mind first.

Looking back, I realize I had very little idea of what a kick-boxing class would actually entail. I knew it would include kicking and hitting things, but what else? It turns out that it is an hour of hard cardio – jogging in place, jumping jacks, push-ups, and sprinting. Pretty much nonstop for an hour.

And then there is the boxing and the kicking. The second half of the first class involved breaking into teams and doing relay-type circuits with suicide sprints and then a series of boxing on a big (hard) bag on a stand – and cycling through that three times. I made it through the class but felt as if my heart might burst at times – clearly I need the cardio workout! The second class we focused more on hitting and kicking pads our partner was holding and seemed slightly easier – and “easier” is clearly only relative.

I did my third class this week and we were back to hitting the big bag. I had bruised my knuckles the first week but only on one hand so I thought that perhaps I needed to pay more attention to my form or not be quite so enthusiastic. I bruised it again this week and wasn’t hitting nearly so hard because that bag is hard and my hand hurt. This is what it looked like after class:

0126152052

I suppose I am going to have to get myself some gloves if I plan to keep going to this class.

My hand looks painful but in fact it was my legs and butt that were feeling class #3 the most – we did lots of sprinting as well as relays that involved running to the bag and then kicking it 10x, 20x, 30x. I did it but was on the low end of the “impressive display” scale. That’s okay however – I’m also on the upper end of the age scale for those in attendance and those young-uns have probably never ruptured a disk in their back.

At this point I plan to continue attending the class. I do so love a challenge…

January 23rd, 2015
Running Away from Home

Once again I find myself apologizing for not writing more. It has been very quiet at work – so quiet I bring my kindle to work and read much of the day (discreetly) – so it isn’t as if I don’t have the time to write. My mind is just a bit of a blank at present.

Things are about to get busy however.

The second semester of school is about to begin. I am happy to say that my daughter and I got through her first semester of (home)high school with pretty good results. She never got too terribly behind on work (though there were some long days on the weekends) and her grades are decent. She was anxious about how the end of semester tests would be, but now that she’s taken them I hope that she’ll not only feel more confident the next time around but also that she can adjust her approach to her work through the coming semester so she is more prepared next time. (I’m an optimist)

Our local tennis club hosts a professional level women’s tennis tournament every February and we have hosted the same player for the last two years. This year our player asked if we could also host her doubles partner… who is a vegetarian. Ok… The vegetarian thing isn’t really that big a deal because I cooked that way for years of course, however I will need to do some serious menu planning to make sure that I am cooking enough food for six people – two competitive athletes – for up to 10 days. I asked our “pet” pro if she and her doubles partner would be willing to play a practice match with my daughter and her doubles partner and they agreed with enthusiasm. Should be fun. The tennis that is – I’ll reserve judgment on the cooking!

I am sad to say that the local gallery where I had some of my jewelry for sale has gone out of business. They had a great selection of unique items but sadly, most people prefer to shop in malls for inexpensive, generic items. If I had a dollar for every time someone complimented me on my earrings or a handmade clothing item that I got in a gallery but then followed the compliment with “I could never wear that…” I’d be rich. It hasn’t put me off making things entirely however – I need to photograph the items I took back from the gallery so I can add them to my etsy shop and also go ahead an make those quilted purses. Oh yes – and then find a way to drive traffic my way…

Work is still in a bit of a lull which is good and bad. I don’t necessarily like being slammed and working 60 hours a week just to barely keep up, but having something to do is nice as well. We have a number of projects starting so this is likely a “be careful what you wish for” scenario.

But since work is currently quiet and my daughter won’t have any homework this weekend or a tennis tournament, I decided to make a run for it and take this opportunity to go and see a friend of mine in Ohio for the weekend. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it – from listening to my own choice of music for the 4 hour drive down to sleeping in her fantastic guest room and hopefully making a trip to the best thrift store ever. It will be a quick trip since I’ll be coming back on Sunday afternoon, but if you do it right, even a short trip can feel like a long time.

January 13th, 2015
Radio Silence

I only wish I had something interesting to talk about in a well thought out and coherent post. Instead I think I’ll probably just ramble.

As it turns out, I can’t work on that step stool project at present. The stripper I tried to use on the spray paint that was applied to the chrome bits was inadequate to the job. The stuff I really need to use not only requires ventilation but also probably shouldn’t be sprayed near my (gas) water heater and (gas) furnace. So I will wait until summer when I can work outside in my driveway.

I have lots of ideas for making awesome quilted cross-body purses with some vintage fabric pieces I found at a Goodwill (in a fabric sample book) but as yet have had no actual gumption for actually sitting down and constructing them.

Ditto for all the story ideas that are tucked into the corners of my brain and come out and agitate me once in a while.

I had no good reason to be BORED over the two week holiday “break” because I had plenty I could have been doing, obviously.

Today I got into a conversation with a lady at work about writing checks to pay bills versus online payments. I split the difference – some I pay online and some I still write check (and use stamps!) I don’t like anyone to have “automatic” access unless it is for deposits; I still like to be the one to say “go” when it comes to sending my money places.

And that is all I’ve got at present. Pitiful isn’t it?

January 2nd, 2015
New Year, New Projects

When we first got our house and I saw that there was real hardwood floor in the foyer and formal living room (now our dining room) I had hope that I’d find more of the same under the white carpet in the living room. Alas, no hardwood there…

But I’ve been looking at the transition from our upstairs hallway into the master bedroom for a while now and wondering why it was that it isn’t level… I’ve checked our bedroom and there isn’t wood there either… but suddenly it dawned on me that the stairs were wood under carpet so maybe the hallway was too…

Yep.

Not only is the upstairs hallway blonde parquet flooring, but so are both the children’s bedrooms and the office as well. Best Christmas present ever!

Why would anyone want to put white carpet over that?? I know that parquet flooring isn’t exactly all the rage right now, but come on… Am I the only one hates wall to wall carpet? Did I mention that it is white carpet too – I think it was clean for about half an hour after we moved in.

The fact that the flooring is there is a wonderful surprise, however I will likely leave it under the carpet for a while longer. I learned my lesson on the stairs – these floors will likely need some attention and this time I’m going to leave that to the professionals. But it also probably means that I’m going to have to rethink the stairs as well. I stained them very dark and not only have I decided that was a mistake (the dark color shows dust like crazy) but they won’t match the floors upstairs.

Oh well – the stairs need to be redone anyway…

December 26th, 2014
The World Needs More of This

I saw this on Facebook and I just loved it… because I think we all need to remember that in spite of all of the bad, awful, truly heartbreaking news that we hear day after day there are still things like this that go on … and still good people out there …

December 24th, 2014
Merry Christmas to Me

A friend of mine moved this week and as part of her packing process she purged a bunch of useful items in my direction – which, me being me, loved. She texted me as they were leaving that she’d left a box of cleaning supplies and some other odds and ends on her porch if I wanted them. But of course!

This treasure is what I found when I went over to her house:

stepstool

I needs some TLC – some genius spray painted over the chrome parts for instance – but I can fix that. Not surprisingly they didn’t sand the old chipped paint before they painted it white either. I can fix that too. We’ll see if I can get the paint off the foot rests (which should be black rubber) From the looks of it, this chair was once red.

I think it will be red again.

So I will take it down to the basement and work on cleaning it up so it is ready to be painted when it is warm enough to take it outside next summer.

My friend was very pleased that her cast off stepstool (which she said she found on the side of the road many years ago) made me so happy. Merry Christmas to me!

December 17th, 2014
Christmas Past

I have a distinct lack of holiday spirit this year. If not for the children, I’d probably have skipped putting up a tree. Though I might still have put up some Christmas lights. I do like Christmas lights.

I am trying to make Christmas nice for my children, because though I lack enthusiasm this year myself (more on that another time) I do remember how exciting this time of year was when I myself was still a kid. I can remember the magic of waking up before the crack of dawn to creep downstairs and see what Santa had brought while I was sleeping. My sister and I would take turns sneaking out of bed and peeking and then going back to bed again until about 6AM at which point we would just go downstairs and turn on the lights and start investigating for real. My sister would even start the coffee pot for our parents so that there would be that much less delay in the main event: Opening the presents.

There is one particular Christmas and one particular present that really stands out in my memory, though I couldn’t really explain why. I was probably about ten years old because of the house we lived in and I got a cassette player for Christmas – one of those old rectangular kind that played tapes and ran either on a cord or with a few huge batteries. (Am I dating myself??) How I loved that cassette player! And my first real “album” on tape – which happened to be the soundtrack from the movie Hair. I listened to that tape endlessly and could probably still sing along, lyric for lyric. At some point I branched out and used to make my own music tapes by setting my clock radio over the input for the cassette player and recording music off of the radio. Sound quality was no doubt lacking but I only remember being pretty pleased with my results.

Here’s hoping that cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and Chinese food for dinner become traditions that they look back on fondly one day.

December 11th, 2014
Something to Talk About

If only I had something, I’d have something to say here….

It’s been a weird time for me lately… work was crazy for a while and now it’s not. We’re in a lull before another busy period comes up next year. I wish there was something between total boredom and full-out crazy but that just seems to be the way it goes where I am, which is okay for now. I’m pretty well settled in and feeling pretty good about where I landed.

The majority of my Christmas shopping is done. I forced myself to wrap some presents last night and tried to remind myself that there was a time I used to like to wrap presents so much that I would offer to wrap presents for my mother – which she gladly let me do. Now I get it because it feels like just one more chore for me to do at the end of a long day.

As I was wrapping presents last night I realized that there were some parallels to my Christmas ornaments in my wrapping supplies. I am just thrifty by nature so there are gift bags and boxes that get used from year to year… to year. Kind of funny to think about how many time some of the boxes have been used as I taped the corners back together! I might have to suck it up and go buy some new boxes… in the after Christmas sales…

I delivered the wedding quilt to the recipients… and it was never acknowledged so that did not give me the warm fuzzies. I had been regretting making the offer in the first place as it was. I’m just hoping that they are enjoying it even if they didn’t express their gratitude to me. My sister and my daughter have both asked me to make them the same quilt so I will probably go ahead and get started on another quilt soon. And I’m playing with making more bottle cap earrings in the evenings. It’s something to do with my time while I have it.

No snow to speak of on the ground here in mid-Michigan. I wonder how long that will last? I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, on many fronts…

December 1st, 2014
Tis the Season

I dragged our Christmas tree out last night. It’s artificial and comes in three sections with pre-strung lights, and every year that I manage to assemble and figure out how to plug all the various cords together to get all the lights to work – and that lights do actually work – I feel very accomplished.

I let the children take the lead on decorating – they are much more enthusiastic about it – and I just come along behind and redistribute things a bit as needed.

Some people have very decorated trees – all red ornaments or all silver. Everything matches and is just so. Ours is much more homey. There are some standard glass balls and while many were bought in sets, none were necessarily bought to match any of the others. I buy what I like, when I see it, and things have just collected over time.

Looking at the ornaments is a bit like walking down memory lane. There are the sequin and pin ornaments my grandmother made when I was younger than my son is now. There are Santa ornaments that I remember hanging on the handlebars of a bike I got when I was younger still. There are some blown glass ornaments I bought in Egypt and some others that I bought when I went to Germany at Christmastime in 2010. I have some pretty glass balls that I bought at estate sales. There are some ornaments that no longer get put on the tree, but I keep them for sentimental reasons.

All of my grandparents are gone now, as is my mother. Our family is small and pretty spread out so our holiday celebrations are very modest. I no longer feel the wonder of the holiday that I once did, but I try to fake it for the sake of my children.

November 23rd, 2014
Just in Time

The happy couple got married back in August, but perhaps my delay in finishing their quilt isn’t such a big deal since it is definitely quilt weather now.

And it’s also really gorgeous:
(click image to enlarge)

ocean currents 1

I called this quilt Ocean Currents (in my mind anyway) because of the colors but now that it is done, it reminds me more of Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night.

ocean currents 2

I think it is all the swirls.

I created a serious fabric stockpile when I was living in the United Arab Emirates and could buy fabric for about $1.50/yard and I still had enough big chunks to put a pretty backing fabric on this quilt too:

ocean currents 3

It isn’t always easy to put so much time into something and then just give it away, but it helps if you start the project with the mindset that you aren’t keeping it. And it is nice to know that NO ONE will be duplicating this gift. I’d be lying if I said I waver a few times while this one was in process – it’s so pretty! And I’ve already had two requests from family members to make them one just like this. Um…. okay – I’ll get right on that!

I might as well… it looks like it may be a long winter!