this is denver

In most circles, talking about the weather is considered lame. It's what you talk about when you can't come up with anything more interesting. I mean, come on. It's weather.

Not so in Denver, where the weather is pretty much the topic of a year-long, ongoing conversation. It changes. A lot.

For example, this month. October started out fine enough - a little too warm for me, but I don't get much say in the matter. We had snow toward the beginning of the month - just a dusting really, but SNOW! There was a frost somewhere in the first week or two, and then another frost last week, I think. Overall it's been in the 70s mostly, with a few days in the 60s and some fantastically "crisp October nights" that I wished for but never really experienced in NC.

Yesterday, Oct. 24, we set a record high of 80 degrees. I got sunburned on my arms while sitting in a parking lot. And tomorrow's forecast is predicting 3-6 inches of snow.

See? Weather is interesting out here!


two fails and a win

Wouldn't you know, I would finally start feeling better here in the third trimester, just in time for swelling, sleeplessness, and general fat-ness to start making life a little more difficult?

There are some things I've been meaning to get to for months... maybe years... that I've finally taken on. As encouraging it is to get some stuff done and have a little fun while doing it, I am not really feeling the Winning At Life. What's funny is, the thing I thought would be easiest ended up being a total failure, and the thing I thought would be the hardest has been surprisingly, upliftingly, easy.

Thing 1 To Do: make jam. I have wanted to start canning and preserving for a while now, but for some reason I have been too intimidated to try it. I've read a billion recipes and how-tos and essentials, but it wasn't until I found some cheap strawberries that I worked up the nerve. And guess what: it is REALLY TART. Like really tart. And a little runny, which I was expecting because I used honey instead of sugar. Mostly it's the TART that makes this a fail. I will have to open my 12 little jars, dump it all back into the pot, add some more sweetener, boil it a while, TASTE TEST THIS TIME, and re-jar and re-process the whole batch. Not the worst thing in the world, but...ug. I already made this jam, and I am not really stoked about making it again. Verdict: FAIL

Thing 2 To Do: make soap. Making soap is another of those things I've wanted to do for a while, but I was (somewhat more reasonably) intimidated. My brother even made me a soap mold for Christmas last year, but it's now mid-October and I have just worked up the nerve. Except... something went horribly wrong with what was supposed to be a fool-proof method. My soap, it is not hardening (that is, I can't get it to trace). I've got another hour of attempting to trace, but if it doesn't thicken up I'm going to have to toss the whole thing and go cry in a corner regroup. (And buy more olive oil.) This is really, really disappointing. I had such high hopes for soap-making, and because I don't know where I went wrong, I don't know how to fix it for next time. Verdict: FAIL

Thing 3 To Do: take down the wallpaper border. The room that will be our nursery was a nursery a few years ago, too. The walls are the only non-[sorta]white walls in the house, and there was a "darling" wallpaper border across the top. I mean, it was cute, but not anything I would ever pick. And not boy-appropriate (in my book). So it needed to come down. I was also planning to repaint the room white, to make it easier to decorate (I am all about easy. Easy totally dominates over cute, in my book) for The Babe of Unknown Gender. But repainting it white meant buying the stuff, painting the walls, painting the trim, and painting the ceiling so that there weren't 3 shades of white in one room (not that there aren't 3 shades of "white" in all the other rooms of the house). So this was kind of a Big Thing that I was Really Not Looking Forward To. First step: taking the wallpaper down. Because I am cheap, I started with the cheapest method - a bucket of hot water and a rag. Not even a scraper or a scorer or special chemicals. And guess what! It worked! I'm only about 1/8 done, but it's coming down pretty quickly. Really stoked about this, especially because when the border disappears and you look around in the regular daylight, the wall color itself is really not that bad! So I'm going to leave it. There goes the major hassle, not to mention the fact that my "total room makeover" is going to cost me pennies. The drawback: I will only work on it while Brian is home, as a safety precaution. I'm standing on a big, sturdy bed (and pushing it around the room as I need to), but I'm still standing on something.


aurora borealis

Maybe it's because I'm pregnant, or maybe it's because there's a record high temperature on tab for today (it's OCTOBER, enough with temps in the 80s already!), but I can't get enough of this video:

Aurora Borealis in Finnish Lapland 2011 from Flatlight Films on Vimeo.

Hat tip to the Denver Egotist

I don't have a bucket list, but if I did, seeing the northern lights would be on there. That's a trip I've wanted to take for as long as I've been aware of the northern lights. So who's up for a trip to Siberia?

NOTE: My lifelong affinity for the Aurora Borealis had nothing (or at least not much) to do with the dog's name.


What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Well folks, it's been an eventful year, with the past 6 months playing host to some major developments. So what did I do with my summer vacation from the blog? A lot.

1. Brian and I traveled! In the 3.5 years we'd been married, we'd been on one big trip together. I grew up traveling, and Brian has a perpetual travel itch, so it's something that we both would really like to do more of but have never been in much of a position to make happen. Until this year! We took two international trips this summer, and Brian has a third lined up for later this year. There's something so... cool ... about having a new stamp in the passport. We went to Israel with a group from church (and Brian stayed for another 2 weeks to do some backpacking and general man-venturing). It was life-changing, and totally awesome, and I will maybe share some snippets from that at some point. Our other international trip was to Costa Rica for the destination wedding of a friend of ours. Israel was awesome, but it was definitely NOT a vacation. Costa Rica was allllll vacation, and it was glorious. We'd like to go back, and for more than 3 days. We'll need the money to start rolling in for that to happen. Which brings me to the next thing I did on my summer vacation....

2. I overhauled my freelance business! With a new website, some legit government registrations, and even official swanky contracts, Ashley Daoust Editorial Services is better than ever. Well, or at least better than it was last year. Wahoo! If you need a freelance editor, copywriter, proofreader, transcriptionist, ESL translator, or grantwriter, I'd suggest you check out my professional site and see if you think we might be a good match. And I'm working up some literature for a new service I'm offering. More on that as it develops. And speaking of developing (I am on a segue roll here!)....

3. I grew a human! Well, sorta, because it's not done yet. We found out in late April that I'm having a baby! I spent part of April, all of May, most of June, and a good portion of July feeling decidedly not-good, so my productivity went waaaaay down as I restricted myself to doing only those things that were absolutely necessary for survival and sanity. I am sending up daily (and sometimes hourly) prayers that this baby will arrive BEFORE Christmas Eve. (I am also hoarding old wives' info on things to do get your baby to come out. Also: two different acupuncturists' numbers are stored in my phone...they both have great track records with their acupuncture inductions.) The due date is Dec. 22, and if I hear one more person say "well that was poor planning" I might have to go on a third trimester pregnant lady rampage. But threats of rampaging aside, we are so excited and maybe a little nervous about the little guy or gal. I'm now far enough along that I go see the doctor every two weeks, and the baby is head-down which means that I get regular kicks to the ribs and innards, while my bladder experiences near-constant pressure. The good news is that it's actually kind of cool, and not a pain in the butt (or diaphragm, as it were). Ah, the miracle of life. And I think the office pools for gender and arrival date are getting started soon, so let me know if you want in on that. I'll be honest, I am not one of those women who thrives on being pregnant. Expecting a baby is awesome... dealing with the physical aspect of it is not so awesome. If I could just stop bumping into things (and spraining things, and tearing nails off, and hitting my funny bone, and feeling barfy at the sight and smell of chicken) I'd be really down with the whole glowing-pregnancy bit. But being pregnant is no joke... it really does a number on you. I don't even recognize my own body, most days. At least my face hasn't swollen up (yet)... so there's that.

So there you have it! Any questions?