Monday, February 3, 2014

Trying Something New - February

My quest to try something new every day in 2014 continues. Here is my list of new things to try this month (with updates regarding the result):

  1. See B wrestle. This is his second year on the team, but until today I'd never actually seen him wrestle. Last year he was injured for most of the season. This year he started the season on the DL and didn't want me to come to a meet until he really felt good about how he was doing (I think he was afraid I'd run onto the mat and try to stop the match if his opponent was beating him too badly--I'm not as overprotective as he thinks, though). The wait was worth it: he placed third in the tournament, winning 2/3 of his matches.
  2. Bet big on the SuperBowl. For most of my life, I've watched the SuperBowl only for the ads. At SuperBowl parties, I've always been one of the ones far away from the TV, chatting away and ignoring the game. Even when the Giants played, I wasn't particularly concerned about the results. So to spice things up this year, I made a bet with K that the Broncos would win. I was expecting Manning to dominate the field and thought I'd easily win relief from some household chores. Boy was I wrong! And I'll be taking the dog for walks for weeks as a result!
  3. Challenge myself with the brain games at Lumosity. I read about this site in a women's health magazine, and since I'm concerned with preserving my memory (especially now that my mom is losing hers), I decided to give it a whirl. I went through the assessment tests without issue, but only then did I realize that the free option that I had read about has been eliminated from the site. I just don't see that this is worth paying for when there are so many other options out there for using my brain (including Wii Fit, which also has exercises for balance, another crucial issue as I age).
  4. Judge an online short story contest. I was asked some time ago if I was interested in helping judge a contest that I had signed up for, but hadn't entered. So I spent a pleasant afternoon reading stories. Some were good and quite polished, some not so much, but all in all, I enjoyed the experience. And the thought that I was just one of many on the judging panel made it easier to choose one over the others.
  5. Try a new recipe. I think I might have found a recipe that we all like: Thai chicken and rice. Perhaps next time I'll increase the garlic or add some more spice since it was on the bland side. And the boys would have liked larger portions. 
  6. Learn about the Penn/Wharton Public Policy Initiative. In the past I would have pooh-poohed a chance to listen to a professor how his school is marshaling its resources to shape public policy in a non-partisan way. But this year, I am opening my mind to many new things and so I set aside two hours for cocktails and a lecture. And you know what? I met some interesting people and enjoyed the professor's passion for his topic.
  7. Pay a compliment to everyone I talk to. Perhaps I should have taken more care in choosing the day for this "new thing." I didn't really see that many people - my family (who barely noticed), the dry cleaner (who I was talking into a "do-over" for a pleated silk scarf), the building staff and my neighbors (all of whom are terrific anyway).
  8. Watch a fashion show. Years ago I was a dresser at a local fashion show, helping the owner of the small women's clothing boutique where I worked part-time. She and I had written the notes for each outfit together. It was all very exciting. But despite my continuing interest in fashion and several years working for a major NYC department store, I never got any closer to attending Fashion Week than that in the years since. Today I made a step in the right direction, watching the Rebecca Taylor show online. It was so fun that I might try to catch the Diane von Furstenberg show tomorrow.
  9. Survive a fire in our apartment. This "new thing" was totally unplanned and something I hope never to experience again. I do a ton of laundry; it's routine and I rarely even think about it. I throw in a load to the washer or dryer here and there throughout the day almost every day. Sometimes I go to bed or out the door with one (or both) of the machines running. But never again. I was putting a load into the dryer, which I had run earlier in the day with no incident, and it felt unusually hot to me. I called D over for a look and right away we called someone from the building to check it out. The handyman came up within minutes, but by that time there were wisps of smoke. D got out the fire extinguisher, but a few blasts seemed to make the smoke even more intense. I dialed 911 and then we left the apartment, alerting all of our neighbors on the floor that there was a fire before heading down to the lobby. Firefighters arrived in no time and put out the fire immediately. We were lucky: both kids and the dog were out of the apartment when it happened and although the dryer and washer were destroyed and the firefighters made a hole in the wall and mangled a window frame, the damage was minimal, compared to what could have happened. No one was hurt. No one was left homeless. We have insurance. And all things considered, we are actually quite lucky.
  10. Bag up 300 lbs of laundry. After the fire, our family decamped to a hotel across the street for the night: the smell of smoke was just too intense for us to stay in our apartment. The next day, after the kids went off to school, D and I returned to the apartment to survey the damage. Nothing but the dryer had actually burned, and the building staff had actually moved the appliance carcasses down to the basement for us, but the horrid smell of smoke remained. Our insurance company had recommended that we get everything cleaned, so we bagged up clothing, towels, curtains, bed linens and the like to take to the cleaners - more than 300 pounds in all - and that didn't even count items in closed closets or drawers since they didn't seem to be affected. It was a huge amount of stuff - more than 30 trash bags worth - and more than filled the back of our SUV.
  11. Supervise ceiling-to-floor cleaning crew. In addition to advising that we get all of our fabric items professionally cleaned, Allstate recommended that we get our apartment a professional cleaning as well. The number one hit from a Google search was for Servepro, which Allstate uses so much in these situations that they agreed to pay them directly. And these folks were wonderful! The team of seven spread out and worked methodically from top to bottom to get every smoke smudge out of our apartment. Just amazing!
  12. Have furniture cleaned with portable dry-cleaner. We sent our living room rug out to be cleaned, but what to do with the couch, chairs and mattresses? Servepro had the answer! They brought in a portable cleaner that rid the upholstered furniture of its smokey smell, leaving a sort of cinnamon gum scent in its place.
  13. Refuse to send my child to school. I was one of the angry parents who refused to go along with Bill De Blasio's and Carmen Farina's ridiculous call for children to brave the bad weather and attend classes in the midst of a blizzard. I am usually reluctant to do this sort of thing, but I was especially annoyed that the decision was made the night before (why not wait to see whether it really does snow instead of just hoping it won't?).
  14. Count my blessings. When I awoke this morning, back in my own bed at last, I couldn't help thinking that despite all the hassles associated with the fire, we are extraordinarily lucky considering how everything turned out. No one was hurt. The damage was minimal - sure our washer and dryer were destroyed and our entire apartment still smells a bit like smoke - but other than tossing cleaning supplies, food, curtains, and a few other items, we didn't really lose much. The insurance company has agreed to pay for expenses associated with the fire, including our hotel for the nights we couldn't stay in our apartment, for the cleaning crew, for our laundry, for a new washer/dryer, for repainting most of the apartment. And our neighbors have been wonderful! We are truly blessed!
  15. Teach J. a new trick. Our pup is smart and endless entertaining. Both aspects of his personality came together in the new trick he and I worked on today: catching bits of food in his mouth as they are thrown in the air to him, using the command "catch." My thought is that we'll expand this to other things, including the Frisbee that D. wants him to catch when warm weather finally arrives again.
  16. Break out the fancy china for a regular meal. I've long been wanting to do this - not just once, but on a fairly regular basis. I never want my family to feel that they are never worthy of the really good stuff - because they are! Tonight we used my grandmother's Bavarian china set, since I had it out to clean all the smoke residue off it anyway.
  17. Buy a washer and dryer. We've replaced both the washer and dryer before - but never at the same time before. So choosing a set was a first for us!
  18. Go to the Home Depot in mid-town Manhattan. I've been vaguely aware that all of the big box stores have a presence at least somewhere in NYC. But it was still a little weird to walk into the Home Depot in the midst of mid-town. Granted, the merchandise stocked is slightly different than the store we frequent in PA (no aisles of lumber, for example), and the bulk of the store is underground, so you don't get a sense of how enormous it is from street level.
  19. I failed to chose something new today - just too much else going on!
  20. Make a salad nicoise. I've had this (and loved it) many times in restaurants, but despite the simplicity of the dish, I never made it myself - even in the summer when it is especially nice. So I assembled the salad on a nice big platter - and had enough for leftovers the next day. Yum!
  21. Organize a boys' only weekend. Now that our sons are in two separate school systems, their vacations schedules are different, so we no longer take family vacations in February or April. B generally gets to go away for at least part of his break, since his baseball team does pre-season practice in FL. But K doesn't have that option. I hate the thought of his vacations being just day after day at home, so I suggested that D take K and some of his friends to our place in PA. They all accepted - and so tonight they are off until Sunday. Took a fair amount of emails and food shopping/prep to get it all together, but I'm confident it will work out well.
  22. Use the men's room. Many times I have waited in a long line for the ladies' room, frustrated as men breeze in and out of the restroom with nary a second in a queue. Tonight wasn't the first time women around me suggested that we go ahead and use the empty men's room. But it was the first time I've actually acted on it. It wasn't like I was in a desperate situation. Still, I had been waiting quite a while - -- so when a man coming out of the restroom looked at the number of women in line and recommended that we take over the empty restroom, I was all for it. Unfortunately, I was the last of the ladies in, and by the time I was done, guys had started to come back in to use the urinals. I've gotta say that they were pretty cool about the whole thing though.
  23. Learn a new swear. I'm not going to say which Italian word I chose, but I will say I was amazed by the plethora of web sites devoted to swears in foreign languages!
  24. Survive a burst pipe. We had a bit of a flood in our apartment many years ago, when the washing machine went on the fritz. But that was nothing like today's disaster: as the contractor was about to patch up the wall where the firefighters broke through looking for residual burning, he noticed some dampness. The building staff agreed that a pipe was leaking and called in a plumber, who broke the pipe before the waterline was turned off. The result was as if there was a fire hose spraying our living room with hundreds of gallons of cold, dirty water. Such a bummer, since we were just getting things back to normal. The living room carpet must be sent out for cleaning again; the side chair upholstered with my grandmother's crewelwork is ruined, and the papers in my desk are thoroughly soaked. This probably did more permanent damage than the fire! But as before, I suppose it could have been worse: our bedrooms remained dry, for example.
  25. Nurture an orchid. After yesterday's fiasco, what a pleasure to receive a beautiful orchid as a thank-you for hosing a friend of B's over the weekend! I resolve to take care of this one and have it for a long, long time!
  26. Finish a NY Times crossword puzzle. Ok, like Sudoku, I tried, but I just don't seem to have it in me. Worked out quite a bit of it, yes; finished it correctly, no.
  27. Create a new website, perhaps on I didn't find this site as intuitive as I had hoped. I made my homepage - a placeholder - but changing the background and adding links seemed more complicated than I would have liked. I may go back to it, but I may not - I wasn't crazy about the experience and I do have other outlets for the content I had planned to post on the new site.
  28. Outline a story book series. I'd love to publish a series of children's books about J and sketched out a few ideas for 5 books.
Want to see the list of new things I tried in January? Click here.


Cameron Von St James said...

Hi there! My name is Cameron and I was wondering if you'd be willing to answer a quick question I have about your blog. Thanks so much! I am looking forward to hearing from you. :)

Insider Travel Guides said...

Sure, happy to answer your question!