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Well, I didn’t make the entire 52, but 42 adventures is about 38 more than I would have enjoyed without this personal challenge and put-it-out-there accountability factor.  I am grateful both for the initial inspiration provided by the author of “The Year of 52 Adventures” blog and for the encouragement of, and participation by, friends and family.  What a fun year this has been.

 Some of my favorite adventures:

 #5        Standing on the glass shelves at the top of Willis (Sears) Tower and enjoying the panoramic view of my favorite city.

#7        Watching the sunrise on the lakefront in winter with my Daisy girl. 

#8        Attending a Quaker service.

#19      Our weekend long, California wine tasting tour.

#28      Going to the drive-in movies in Jim’s new old Mustang convertible. 

#34      Flying a WWII plane with my dad. 

Adventures I enjoyed and will continue into 2011:

#2        Attending a writing workshop and continue writing.

#3        Yoga

#28      Learning and playing the piano

#9, 15, 39, and 40:      All forms of pampering MUST continue.

Adventures I absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, will NEVER do again:

#4        Trapezing

#22      Skydiving

Adventures I missed in 2010 but will accomplish in 2011:

Riding in a hot air balloon

Ice skating at Millennium Park

A new biking experience

Plus many, many more

Best wishes for a wonderful 2011!

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It is the end of the year and, yes, I’m stretching to get myself just a liiiiiiiiiiiitle bit closer to that number 52.  I have been thinking back on the year and thought, even though I had already attended the Oprah show for my first time in 2009 (many thanks to Liz!), I should still count my visit this year.  After all, this is Oprah’s 25th and Very Last Season with The Oprah Winfrey Show!  That IS a big deal, especially considering the hoops that my friend Shawn jumped through in the way of e-mail communications, telephone interviews, and photo submissions just to get those two golden tickets.  This should really be called “Shawn’s Adventure” after all of the work she put into it.

It was a great day in September when we visited Oprah and watched her interview and create bloody marys and grilled cheese sandwiches with Martha Stewart.  I tried to make some of those sandwiches later.  Bad move.  See cooking conclusion reached with Adventure #37.  Martha was beautiful, gracious, and seemed totally at ease in her skin.  Lucky woman has her own room in her home just for cutting and arranging flowers!  And a person (several people evidently) to do the cutting!  Oprah did not seem as comfortable and managed to get in a few unnecessary digs.  After watching the show air, we realized that those ended up on the cutting room floor.  Smart move, Oprah, and we still love ya!  We walked away with full bags of Martha Steward creative tools and products from Michaels.  Actually, I gave mine to Shawn.  See Adventure #36. 

We were both so impressed with Martha’s products and business acumen that Shawn and I bought stock in Martha Stewart Omnimedia (MSO) after the show.  Let’s just say that MSO hasn’t had a stellar performance since September so this has actually turned into one of the more expensive adventures of the year.  Oh well.   We Were On Oprah for Her Last Season!!!!

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Two more checked off of the original list!   An hour and ½ of pure bliss enjoying a facial and a hand reflexology treatment in a warm and cozy spa in the middle of a cold winter day.   I need many more “adventures” like this one in 2011.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

Chicago friends – head straight over to Soothe Your Senses Day Spa and see Katie!  www.sootheyoursenses.com

Update:  The peanut gallery (Frank) has already complained that these should be considered only one adventure rather than two.   As they were listed as two “adventures” from the beginning  (see Connie’s Quest tab under the section titled “It’s all about the Pampering”) and, as this is my blog, not his, I will keep them listed as two.  😛    I will, however, take into serious consideration Frank’s other suggestion that I just “go in during the next 4 days and get 12 more treatments” to make my 52.  Thanks partner!

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Halleluia – Finally an adventure that wasn’t a complete disaster! 

I received a digital piano for Christmas last year and was determined to learn how to play.  Re-learn is technically more like it, as I had taken years of lessons as a child and gave it up around 12, just after my parents bought the piano they had been renting.  Yes, they’re still holding that against me.

It’s been a bit slow going.  I initially tried to self teach myself using a book and DVD bought online.  That worked OK for a few months, until I reached a stumbling point I couldn’t get past on my own.  Through a friend I found a piano teacher, Michele, who teaches kids at the local grade school.  She’s a riot and the lessons have been fun.  I’ve been a bit inconsistent, taking a month (or two) off here and there, but I made it through two instruction books and learned about 50 songs culminating in Billy Joel’s super long – Piano Man.

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Yes, 45 years old and have never made Christmas cookies.  I’ve decorated plenty but never made them before.  Now I know why.

A long-time LU Rambler fan makes the most wonderful Christmas cookies called Mini Snowballs and hands them out every year at the last home game before Christmas.  I asked her for the recipe last year.  When I pulled it out this year, I thought – wow, this seems really easy.  Only a few ingredients, 10 minutes prep, 10 minutes baking, and no decorating required.  I can handle that!

Working with an electric hand mixer made shortly after electricity was invented and handed down through generations of non-baking mothers to non-baking daughters, at first I thought this piece of equipment was the culprit.  Dough all stuck to the blades and none in the bowl, a cord that would disconnect itself every 15 seconds, flour flying onto the walls, and trying to keep the dogs from eating the mini chocolate morsels that flew to the floor – What Fun!!   Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!    Is it too late to ask for a new hand mixer for Christmas??

10 minute prep, my a**.  A full 40 minutes later, I was finally forming small dough balls and placing them onto the cookie sheets. 

The instructions said to bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  After 10 minutes, they were still raw.  After 12 – the same.  After 14 – when will these things turn the golden brown they are supposed to?  At 16 – what’s that burning smell?  More Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  The piano music playing softly in the background was doing nothing to soothe. 

 

The pan closest to the bottom of the stove was filled with pale balls with burned bottoms.  The cookies in the higher pan seemed OK though.  Out of the oven, sifting lots of powdered sugar, cooling on the racks.  At least half may be salvageable. 

 

The final outcome – yuck . These mini snowballs tasted absolutely nothing like the yummy ones we’d received from our friend.  Forget the hand mixer – that’s not the problem.  It’s time for me to finally acknowledge that cooking and baking are not, and will never be, my “thing”.   (I’m still not giving up on the candle-making, though :D)

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#36: Adventures in Candle Making

I love soy candles but have always winced at their prices.  They may last twice as long but at twice the price, is it worth it?  After seeing someone at a local craft fair selling her container candles made with various glass and ceramic containers she found at garage sales and antique stores, I thought – I Can Do That!  Christmas presents!  Candles throughout my home!  My own line of candles to sell! 

After much Internet research on candle making, off to Michael’s I went for some basic ingredients – soy wax, fragrance, wicks, and votive containers.   First batch seemed pretty easy.  I melted the wax in a fondue pot, stirred in the fragrance, poured the melted wax into the container where I had preset the wick – voila!  How easy!  Until an hour or two went by and I realized a white film seemed to have formed on what looked like the outside of the container, yet I couldn’t touch it or remove it.

Long story short – I spent the next month and a half trying to solve the problem that I later learned was called “frosting”.   I delved into the mysterious world of double pot melting, various soy wax types, temperature gauges, multiple wick types and sizes, essential oils, and a heating/cooling process with intricate notes that made me feel like a mad scientist.  By the end, I must have spent a couple of hundred dollars in equipment and countless hours of research and experimentation.  But – by gum – I solved the frosting issue and had developed a wonderful soft lavender/eucalyptus scent!  Unfortunately, I now had wax discoloration and wick size issues as well as drawers filled with various scented experimental candles. 

I hate to say it but I give up.  Someday, I’ll come back and figure out these last mysteries as I now have all of the equipment I’ll ever need to make the Super Soy Candle, but for now I’m done.  No Christmas gift candles and no candles to sell, but dozens of oddly shaped and scented ones to enjoy in my own home and, certainly, a new-found appreciation for those candle makers who have figured out the soy candle making secrets. 

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BWAAAHAHAHAHA!!!  Finally, a visit to this legendary place for freaky scare upon scare. The website alone creeps me out – http://www.statesville.org

My fellow Halloween-loving friends, Jean and Laura, and I (we missed you this year, Carrie) make an annual trek to the best haunted Chicagoland places and this one, located way out in the SW suburbs, has been on my radar since days of Jim working just down the road from the real Statesville prison in Joliet.  Thanks to Laura’s prompting (and it being on my original list of 52 adventures) – we finally made it this year for some good sanity-shaking terrors and screams.  The room filled with girls with stringy, long, black hair – just like the one in The Ring – gave me serious chills. It’s expensive ($40 for VIP tickets to avoid the never-ending $30 ticket line) but, at almost an hour in length, worth the price.

For me though, no haunted house yet compares to the now-closed Haunted Sanitarium at the Theatre on the Lake. Now those were some true “Where are the Depends?!” moments.

The music from the Statesville prison website is freaking me out, so I’m signing off to plan the next not-so-bloody adventure . . . .

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