Saturday, February 27, 2016

Week 8 - My Birthday!

Yesterday was my birthday and so I decided to host a theme party. It turns out that February 26th is World Pistachio Day which is a perfect theme for a nutty person like me! I love the creativity involved in trying to come up with decorations, food, costumes, crafts, words, and games related to a theme. Pistachios turned out to be an excellent theme for this time of year because there's a lot of green stuff out in party stores for St. Patrick's Day and kind of that Pistachio-green pastel colored Easter eggs that do resemble pistachio nuts! I even found these great plastic green egg containers at Dollar Tree (my favorite party store!) that were excellent for serving nuts or other party food.

There are also recipes, both savory and sweet, that feature pistachio nuts. Thanks to Pinterest it was easy to get plenty of ideas both in the food and craft department.  The easiest cake to make was something I didn't even have a recipe for, and I'm proud of myself for coming up with it.  I just made a white cake using a cake mix, but kept about a 3rd of the batter out and added some pistachio pudding mix.  Then I folded that into the cake and frosting to give it a little bit of that marbleized affect and pistachio flavor.

I also hid little packets of pistachio nuts around the house for an easy decorating idea and something guests could find and bring home at the end of the night..  Yeah, maybe more appropriate for a kid party, but I have to admit, I still enjoy kid games like that, despite my ever-increasing age.

One of the favorite parts of having a theme party for me is when my friends creatively participate.

Chris, an Ohio State Buckeye's Fan, was dressed creatively in pistachio green, along with a green beard, and buckeyes liberally placed on his costume.  His motto was,  "Pistachio's are cool, but Buckeyes rule." He also made some of the peanut-butter chocolate buckeye treats to share, some laced with chopped pistachios.

Heather came prepared in her pistachio-green attire (she researched to make sure she was wearing the exact right shade of green) with a mustachio and plenty of mustachio props for the "peanut gallery" to play along. (I stole the "peanut gallery" pun from party guest, Chip!)

Friends brought all kinds of pistachio-adorned dishes to share. Many of the cards I received were so perfect for pistachio-day.  I even got some remote participants, including the picture I included on this post from my sister.

Pistachio parties are perfect for a "roast" and I had planned to do some kind of "reverse roast," telling a story about each guest, but I settled on a kind of a party game that really had nothing to do with nuts.  I had a list of things that I'd done with friends like "Played ping-pong with this person," "Ran through mud with this person," etc. and the idea was to match up the list with party guests. As it turns out, I made it too difficult because all the guests had done multiple things with me, so I'm going to refine that game for my next party.

Though I'm usually stressed about hosting a party - I'm worried about people not showing up or having a bad time or thinking my little activities are childish - I have come away from this party recognizing a lot of things..

* I have a lot of friends who I'm so grateful for. Whether they want to "play" at my theme parties or not, they accept my silliness. And, luckily, enough play along that I'm having fun, which is really more important than having everyone participate.

* I'm so lucky to have a talented daughter who lives nearby and is my theme party hero! She's so talented with food art, creativity, and decorating, and she's always a big help and support to me, no matter what I try. I love that, despite her youth compared to all the other party-goers, she brings her family and participates in my games when she can.

* I'm grateful for all the people who helped both before and after the party, brought food and wine, flowers, cards, gifts, and themselves.  I'm especially grateful for Sue, who, despite recent surgery, came early on party day to help me with preparations.

* There are a lot of friends who can't come to my parties for a lot of other reasons - It has nothing to do with how much they "like" me.  I'm planning to get together with many of them one-on-one in the coming weeks which is often even better than a party because I get to spend quality time with them.

* Though I always consider my parties "open" if everyone showed up, I wouldn't have nearly enough room. It's fine and makes me happy to have all the birthday greetings on Facebook and that makes for a fun virtual party.

All-in-all, I realize, once again, on this day-after-my-birthday how blessed I am for all the love I have in my life.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Week 7: Valentines

Last week I sort of "cheated" on my resolution of blogging a "happiness blog post" every week. It was easy to just post a video of the Superbowl win and think I'd go back later and describe that happy moment..

This week, again, I'm posting a video of a happy moment. My grandchildren are really being extremely silly in this video... though not their normal super-adorable selves, I love that they're comfortable being so nonsensical and playful with me.

Valentine's Day isn't normally such a fun day for singles... it can be a reminder that we don't have any romantic love in our life. But on the years, like this year, that I'm not in a romantic relationship, I enjoy spending time with friends and family (like my grandchildren) and I'm reminded of how lucky I am for all the love I have in my life.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Week 5: Awesome Week in Sacramento

One of the many blogs I read having to do with happy stuff is: 1000 Awesome Things.  The author of this blog, Neil Pasricha also wrote several books including "The Book of Awesome" and hosted a TED talk. I especially like the quotidian entries which are written so articulately that I can often conjure up happy feelings by reading about these every day occurrences..  and those, of course, remind me of how many quotidian experiences I enjoy myself each day. (By the way, I also really like the word, "quotidian" which I learned when reading a review for "The Book of Awesome.")

When I started reading this blog, my first thought, of course, was that I wanted to write my own book of awesome. Not only does it tie right into the popular "gratitude exercise" of finding things to be grateful for each day, but it also presents a writing prompt. I feel much more confident about my writing skills than I feel about my photography skills, so a blog post a day about one awesome thing should have much more substance than a photo a day, I reasoned.  However, I've discovered that it's pretty hard for me to do anything every single day unless it's something like "brush my teeth." (I have to admit, as much as I thought "floss" every day shouldn't be much more of a stretch, I can't even manage to do that every single day.. But I'm getting better.)

I've settled on this weekly blog post, but, of course, if I'm doing this "Book of Awesome" style, I have to choose one happiness event, and that's hard for me! If I pick just one moment or experience for the week, I feel like I'm neglecting all the other happy moments that I don't write about.  So, more often, I've been writing about an experience that's spanned over days.  For this past week, this has been for me, my trip to Sacramento.

I've lived in Colorado for 22 years now - longer than I've lived in Sacramento which is where my family moved when I was 12. But my Mom still lives in that house we moved into in 1972 and I go back at least once a year, so that place holds a lot of memories for me.

Last week, I was especially lucky because I got a teaching gig right in Sacramento. How cool is it that I was able to get paid to teach a class in practically right in my old neighborhood? And I got to miss a snowstorm back in Colorado!

Here are some of the Happy Memories I have from Sacramento this past week:

* The special meals Mom made for me including chicken crepes and lemon cake
* Dancing with my brother at a Rock-a-billy band
* Visiting with friends from my past
* Working from his office and remembering Dad
* Teaching an Agile Boot Camp class to a fun and engaged group of people