dose of hope

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Creativity, chaos, and a messy bowl of cheesecake.  An interesting trio brought together by a steady steam of failures.  Did you read my post about The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?  If so, be warned that today was nothing like that.  Sure I attempted and failed at two (count um’ up!) new things, but I really didn’t mind when everything went bust.Image
I recently started a ‘doodle a day’ project, and I wanted my first design to incorporate the words ‘some,’ ‘more,’ and ‘summer.’  After an hour of doodling, I stepped back and realized the words were out of order (it said something like ‘sum more som mer’.)  Oops.  I ditched my doodle and made all the graphics in this post.Image
A short while later,  I decided to attempt one of the many popsicle recipes trending on Pinterest.  My selection?  Strawberry cheesecake pops.  Bad choice: the pops froze over like Minneapolis in February, and getting to the creamy goodness was impossible (frozen cream cheese is not delicious).  Still craving sugar, I decided to use all the ingredients to make actual cheesecake.  The end result?  The only non-fail (actually an absolute win) of the day:Image
The recipe was Top Chef worthy, and it also turned me into an abstract artist.  See the colorful swirls of berries?  That’s what I call food art.  
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The drawings and the popsicles were unsuccessful, but the word “great” came to mind when my sister asked about my day. Thing is, I enjoy creating things (all things, really), and a failed product doesn’t ruin the joy of the effort.  
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Have you heard that saying “time you enjoy wasting isn’t wasted” ?  That’s kind of how I felt about today.  And, in retrospect, the failures inspired projects that succeeded, so perhaps the missteps were part of the process?  

2 dollars for 1 smile

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What could be more wonderful than stumbling upon friendship?  I studied abroad in Rome my junior year of college, and oops, silly me, I didn’t take an Italian language class before I moved there.  Typical American girl just got too excited about streets of gold, palaces of art, and endless gelato.  Best decision ever.

The school arranged for a representative to meet me at the airport and take me to my apartment.  Luckily, that representative forgot to show up, and I ended up walking to-and-fro in the Fiucimo Airport wondering how to get a cab.  I made a few inquiries, and within a couple minutes, I was swarmed with people claiming to be taxi drivers and promising the lowest price in Rome.

And then!

Like a dream come true, a pretty brunette grabbed my hand and asked if I was American.  I nodded my head yes, and she told me to come with her.   I followed her through the airport, and she explained about the importance of only using certified cab services, avoiding people without uniform, and always knowing the appropriate price beforehand.

We shared a cab to the university, and the 30 minute drive was filled with more jokes than a comedy show at Second City.  The two of us decided to meet up again the following weekend in Dublin.  Three weeks later we  found ourselves in Prague, six months later in Berlin, two years later in Chicago, and five years later (as in this past weekend) in Minneapolis.

Dear Clare, you’re the greatest friend in the world, and I’m so grateful that you came to visit.  I was going to post about making you a handmade Thank You card, but I just ended up writing all about you (couldn’t help myself).  Your card is included at the bottom of this post.  LOVE YOU.

Clare and Jen circa 2008:
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At my 2013 wedding:
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I made Clare’s thank you card by making sketches on paper, uploading the drawings onto my computer, and then arranging them into fun designs:
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sweet strawberry surprise

Jon’s been spending more time than usual at the office, and yesterday he brought a bag of snacks to keep in his desk for early mornings, late nights, and unexpected weekends. His snack bag included gas station favorites like pretzels, beef-jerkey, and cheese-sticks. No doubt perfect for road-trips, but I instantly thought about how his stash could be improved.

Images of his favorite foods raced through my mind – a dazzling mirage of caramels, cotton candy, and ice cream— and I started googling recipes to see what would keep well in his office. The answer seemed obvious when I stumbled upon strawberry shortcake in a jar: it’s berry season, Jon love anything with cake, and the jars are perfect for storing in the office kitchen.

I whipped the cream&sugar, diced the angel food cake, and headed into the office to see my sweetheart.
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If you love the recipe as much as I do, check out the artist Benedicte Caillat for similarly-artsy recipes.