Wednesday, November 25, 2009

50 Things I'm Thankful For

I have a zillion things to be thankful for and here are fifty of them.
  1. The Internet. The single greatest invention of our time, I say.
  2. My pit-bull mix, Jeely. For teaching me that saying "never" most of the time doesn't work.
  3. My circle of friends. You people rock.
  4. Being alive. When asked what the most surprising thing about my heart transplant experience was, I always respond "that I made it out alive." No joke. It was tough. I am incredibly grateful, even now, to be alive.
  5. iTunes. How did I organize my music before? And talk about instant gratification.
  6. Really good design
  7. Noise cancelling headphones
  8. My new-to-me car and the friends that sold it to me.
  9. The fact that I can dispose of my old dead car easily and free just by donating it.
  10. Adobe products - most especially Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop
  11. A fantabulous husband who is also my best friend
  12. My crackberry (I'd be lying if it wasn't there!)
  13. Having a challenging and fulfilling job
  14. Legend of Zelda series and Rock Band for keeping me off the streets
  15. My mom and dad for being my inspirations
  16. Caramel macchiato lattes
  17. An affordable warm house
  18. My former low sodium diet for getting me off my butt and into the kitchen
  19. Facebook
  20. Digital cameras
  21. Almost everything that comes off a pig
  22. Sleeping
  23. Food that is so good you want to cry
  24. That I can leave my job at work so I have plenty of time for playing
  25. Treadmills (and that I can use them at ridiculously high inclines)
  26. Movies that make me laugh and that have no blood splatters
  27. People demonstrating kindness
  28. Google. Oh Google and your assorted and sundry products, I love thee.
  29. Wireless internet and the fact that I can get wireless internet/VoIP on my crackberry
  30. My incredible sister
  31. Color
  32. Living on the plains but only 20 minutes from spectacular mountains
  33. The possibility that a public option might actually happen (no more pre-existing conditions! no more lifetime cap!)
  34. A husband who is a computer genius
  35. Sweatpants
  36. Blogs
  37. My cats even though they never leave the laundry room any more
  38. A husband who makes wonderful lattes so we can occasionally save a couple of bucks
  39. Ready to assemble furniture until such time we decide that's where we want to spend our money
  40. Danskos
  41. Digital cameras for giving me something to scrapbook
  42. Art museums
  43. The Lord of the Rings books and movies
  44. Tivo. How did we live without this?
  45. Hulu. For when I forget to set my Tivo.
  46. Dishwashers
  47. My choirs for giving me a voice and not just for singing
  48. My night-owl genes because I love being the keeper of this legacy
  49. My new(ish) heart and the individual who said yes to being a donor
  50. God
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ummm, yeah

So I will admit to being a bit absent here on this blog. I say at least once a week..."I need to update my blog!" and then going about working on my crafts, cooking, singing, working...and it's two weeks later and then two months later!I am back, yet again. With no major goals to update regularly, which is probably good because I don't think I have many readers (hi mom!) but I think I do need to get my write on. Just a bit maybe.

The haps around here? Oh, so much. Besides the crazy that is my job which I don't discuss here anyway, I've been wildly practicing with my two groups getting ready for our two early fall shows! Early fall shows means summer practices but Christmas off - so it all balances out in the end. I would encourage everyone (hi, again Mom!) to come check out our performances. We have new directors for both groups and a new freshness and energy.
  • Modern Broadway by the Northland Chorale on 10/23, 10/24 and 10/25. Click here for more info and to buy tickets.
  • To Touch a Hundred Flowers by Sine Nomine on 11/21 and 11/22. Click here for more info and to buy tickets.
We've also got a new member of the family. Introducing the very sweet and eminently lovely Jeely.

And my beloved mean green Taurus (aka Taurai) finally bit the dust at 199,685 miles. I have a wonderful new car but every time I see the Taurus sitting out in the front, I still think I would've liked to have gotten those last 315 miles! We are going to give it away and if anyone has a suggestion of a good charity, I would appreciate any ideas!

And lastly, I've been a crafting fool. My new house means a new scrapbooking/craft area - just for me! And nothing helps fuel a passion like a space to do it in. Even a tiny space. I've also discovered online classes. For a mere $20 (or so) per class, I can be challenged and learn new ideas. Happily, one of my all time favorite scrappy inspirations is hosting an online class on making a very cool minibook. A link to the class shop can be found here. Here is are a few examples of the patterned paper lusciousness that came with the class kit.

Seriously nom.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Colorado Rocks!

Can you believe that THIS is only about 80 minutes away from my house? Actually, I can find this 20 minutes from my house, but who wants to camp that close to home?

For many years, I didn't go up into the mountains very often. Anything above Denver's 5,280 ft was difficult. Camping had to be done at lakes (although very enjoyable) and hiking was completely out of the question.

Now is a different story. Now...

We hike. (Nine miles on the Colorado Trail at Little Scraggy)

We eat.

We watch CavemanTV.

We live in tents.

No showers. No laptops. It could not be more fun.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back to Earth

Oh yeah, I have a blog!

Holy crap, I've been busy. Even for me...between two choirs and work, a week hasn't gone by since February where I haven't been out of the house. And now tonight, on a lovely rainy June Friday, I've had a chance to sit, veg out on the Internet and do nothing.

Okay, I will admit that I did do a deep cleaning of the Camelbacks (in preparation for hiking to start sometime SOON - weather, did you hear that?), made a homemade dinner, baked up a batch of granola and did some writing. BUT STILL. It was done all at home with Chris happily programming downstairs and the dog always within about 5 feet of me.

And I did veg out on the Internet. A highly enjoyable pastime if not a total waste of time. But that is why we love it, do we not?

And for lack of anything else more interesting to post about - as befitting this evening of relaxing - here is my "recipe" (technique, really) for my killer homemade granola. The best part of this recipe is that if you don't have one of these ingredients, just sub it out for something else. No butter? Use oil. No Grape Nuts? Use Cheerios. The only thing that stays the same for me is the oats.

Mighty Nom Granola

(Exact amounts are to taste)
- 3 cups regular rolled oats
- Grape Nuts (or the generic version that neither of us like and we're trying to use up)
- Roughly chopped mixed unsalted nuts (cashews, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts)
- Raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup or combo
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Cooking spray
- Dried fruit
- Toasted coconut

First, mix all the dry, raw ingredients together (oats through pepitas) in a big bowl. In a saucepan, melt the butter then add the applesauce, honey, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and brown sugar. Cook for just a minute. Pour over the oat mixture.

Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray and spread the mixture on the pan in an even layer. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 3 ten minute intervals, stirring at each break. When golden brown, take out of the oven and cool in the pan on a rack. Don't worry if everything seems soft. It will crisp as it cools.

Once cool, stir in the fruit and the coconut and try to stop eating it long enough to put in an airtight container. Use as a topping for yogurt or ice cream. Or just eat it as a snack.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This Song, Again?

The prompt: Three songs that are overplayed but you love anyway. 

This one was easy - I listen to the radio almost exclusively in my car (before I make my practice CDs for choir, that is) and my station is the king of the Repetitive Playlist. So, here are my picks.

Feels Like Tonight by Daughtry

Every time I drive somewhere in my car, I hear a Daughtry song. I've tested this. I could be driving from home to the grocery store and hear "Home" and then on the return trip, I will hear "Over You." To my own repetitive shame, I never change the channel on "Feels Like Tonight." There is something about the way the middle of the chorus goes up that feels sooo good in the vocal cords and for one minute, I'm a total rock star.

Pocket Full of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield

I don't even know what half the words are because every time I hear this song, all I can do is imagine how I could create a slammin' womens choral arrangement for it. I'm telling you, it would so rock.

Jack and Diane by John Mellencamp

All John Mellencamp reminds me of my Uncle Kevin, my fabulous late-uncle whose stories of bustin' a move at John Mellencamp concerts still stand out in my mind. I think of Uncle Kevin every time I hear a Mellencamp song, but this one, with the clapping rhythm and great lyrics gets me every time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Curious George Goes to the Hospital

A hospital is a big scary place for a 3-year old girl. I remember very little from those days of hair loss, travel, and chemo, but I do remember the bright yellow hat. And the little grinning monkey eating the puzzle piece.

There was comfort to be found in those pages. Even though I don't remember getting half as much ice cream as Curious George got.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This Week in Blogs

It's been a tough week in my particular blogosphere. Two of my favorite bloggers have lost aunts - one of them being my own great aunt. Still two others have sick babies. Not just colds and flus, but real serious illnesses. Like stay-in-the-hospital for months illnesses. Still more are moving and others are simply not blogging because real life takes over and blots out the writing.

I am one of those blog readers who isn't ashamed that I get emotionally attached to the blogs I follow. My favorite blogger, the incomparable Heather Armstrong just realized every bloggers dream. She's written a book based on her life - a life carved out of this new medium and now on paper.

Ms. Armstrong's blog is pretty typical of the blogs I follow. Most, but not all, are about moms raising any number of kids. Single atheist moms raising only children, married non-believing couples raising only children with more on the way, blended families with kids from adults to infants, Christian families raising many small children - you get the picture.

I can identify with at least something with each of the blogs I read. As most know, I don't have kids - and although each of those above blogs is about motherhood, all are about making a connection with the reader regardless of child status, marital status, gender preference or even belief. And most importantly, all the blogs I read - whether I am looking for an art fix or fun food reviews/recipes - have one thing in common:

All these bloggers are incredible writers.

Because of this, I find as much satisfaction reading Michael Ruhlman's highly opinionated food blog as I do Tara Whitney's Just Be Blogged or Carol Blymire's opus - The French Laundry at Home.

And see, in my fast paced, busy world where reading one book can take months, I find my writing inspiration here in the tiny whizzing packets on the Internet. All those beautiful writers you knew in high school? The ones that should be making millions as authors but instead are raising families, taking pictures, working at their jobs? They are now (or should be) blogging.

Bloggers don't write for themselves. Well, we do, but we are the journalers who could never get into journaling because ultimately, we want people to read what we write. If you find out your friend blogs, I urge you to find a reader you like and subscribe. Read what your friends write - we want to share our lives with you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

...And We're Back!

A busy month of packing, moving, traveling, unpacking and then a cold has put me out of commission for a while. But now I'm back.

For those curious about our trip to is a press release detailing why we went. It even includes me!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Voice of God

The first few hours coming out of a major surgery rank up there as the some of the worst hours of life. I don't think this is common to just open-heart surgery patients. It seems the longer and more intense the surgery, the harder the journey is back to your brain.

You who have had this experience are already nodding. It's like those old anti-drug commercials depicting a smashed up egg as your brain on drugs. When I first started coming back - after a 9-hour surgery, thirteen hours and 34 units of blood later, I was barely alive. I would open heavy eyes enough to see myself bend my arm and wiggle my fingers. It was fascinating to me to watch my pale arm weave through the air for a brief second. Duuuuuuude.

I couldn't speak. I was on a ventilator. The pain sat right outside of my mind's reach. My body burned from behind the drug mask and pain seeped out through my closed eyes in silent fat tears. The cocktail dripping into my veins hid the pain then, but not from my memories now.

Throughout those early hours were the constants in my journey. My sister rubbing my feet. My husband kissing my forehead. My dad sitting quietly in the dark. And, of course, my mother's voice. I recall nothing of what was said, only those brief images and sounds coming from the room and the recesses of my numbed mind.

As the edges of the world began to form, I turned my head to the side. Where I later learned there was a counter, sink and a wall, at that time I saw a curtain over a sliding glass door. The door was partially open and the curtain pulled back. The British nurse was barking, her accent coarse, something about me. The cult. She was reaching over the other nurses at the workstation - she was telling them that I hadn't been initiated yet.

I panicked, my eyes widening. I was trapped in this bed. In this cursed body, by the central line out my neck, by the hot blankets. My waving hand lost its magic. There was a yellowish light from above me - was that the lamp by my bed at my parents home that I used only as an adult? My cheeks were wet. I could still hear that harsh British voice urging the nurses to hurry.

At that moment, my mother came into the room. I called out to her. "Help me!" I was crying harder now. "They're going to hurt me! Put me into a cult!"

My mom brushed my cheek with her hand. She told me that everything was going to be okay. That she would pray with me. I looked at her and she held my hot hands in her cool ones. "God is in this room, Sarah," she said. I could see her face and her hair silloutted against the yellow light. "Just remember that God is in this room."

I closed my eyes. Reassured by her voice and her prayer.

A long time later, when I was out of the hospital, when I heard about a family friend having a hard time post-surgery, I asked my mom if she remembered when she came in and helped me through my hallucinations. She said no. She never did anything like that. I pressed her. Was she sure?

That's when I knew. God had been in the room with me. God had been there all the time. A shrewd move - when a voice and visage were too powerful to come to a girl fresh from the shock of survival, instead came as one of his humble servants. In the voice and visage of the one I trusted more than any other, He came to remind me that I wasn't alone.

I'm so fortunate to have the mother that I do. She's been there through marriages, moves, surgeries, graduations and Super Bowls. Nearly every momentous occasion in my life, has a corresponding memory of my mother. I look up to her as I look up to few people. Maybe anyone, actually.

On this, her birthday (three days late notwithstanding), I wish her an amazing year full of growth, love and life anew.

I love you, Mom!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Beautiful Heart

Wow. Two years, two months and two days - an amazing gift.

I had my annual tests on Monday. Everything went well except for the insane amount of sedative. It was probably totally normal for folks accustomed to the juice, but for me, dude, I was toast for a couple of days. Anyway, on to the good stuff!

- Grade zero biopsy – no rejection

- Heart is pumping like a champ – 4.6 liters. Compare that to the 1.5 liters from my pre-transplant days.

- My VO2 max has improved from last year and vastly from years before. I am at 96% of my age potential. Most transplants, due to the physical differences in our cardiovascular anatomy, hover around 75% of age potential.

- My heart is clear of any blockages. I think I could auction my total cholesterol number if I wanted, but to be honest, that's all thanks to Zocor.

After my clinic visit in March, I'm not due back for a year. A YEAR. More on this in a later blog post. In the meantime, here is my Thumper. You can see the outline of the heart and the beautiful clear left coronary arteries. The weird circular things are actually the wires around my sternum.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Double Life

Apparently many of us are living double lives. Profoundly exciting and so secret that only a Google search can discover what we've been up to.

I've seen this Internet meme floating around on a couple of the vlogs I follow on YouTube. An internet meme, I had to look it up, is defined on Wikipedia as "a neologism [a recently coined word] used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet, much like an inside joke."

So, the Google Verb Meme - take your name and a verb and Google it to find out what you are up to. Try it for yourself! Here is mine.

Sarah Needs
Sarah needs a cold shower, self-esteem. [Wow. Who knew?]

Sarah Looks Like
Sarah looks like Nicole Ritchie. [Well I guess I am pretty thin.]

Sarah Says
Sarah says "Let's just say that I knew this meeting wasn't to promote me to office person of the century." [More than you know...more than you know.]

Sarah Wants
Sarah wants us to know that she’ll help expand that hole. [I am not happy that I share a name with Sarah Palin.]

Sarah Does
Sarah does not eat humans. [You can all rest easy. I prefer pork.]

Sarah Hates
Sarah hates you. [Oh dear. Not really.]

Sarah Asks
Sarah asks "what's this New Year's thing?" [Um...]

Sarah Likes
Sarah likes to smell Colleen's armpits. [I guess.]

Sarah Eats
Sarah eats cake. [I can guarantee you that it isn't human cake.]

Sarah Wears
Sarah wears a bra and shoes sometimes. [But only sometimes...]

Sarah Was Arrested For
Sarah was arrested for cutting buckets of water that would put out the fire. [Hence why I'm not allowed to fireteam. So sad this habit of mine.]

Sarah Loves
Sarah loves pop culture. [Really? I guess I sort of do.]

So now that you have all this misinformation about me, tell me about your double life...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Little Things

Today my boss asked me to run over to Great Harvest and pick up some sandwiches. It's not a bad part of my job - getting sandwiches for them always means one for me. Great Harvest always gives you a slice of their soft, salty bread when you purchase anything. As I stood there debating on what slice I would chose (their hearty sunflower slathered with soft butter), I became suddenly grateful for the bustling shop, the hungry guys waiting for me at work, the smell of the warm bakery and the taste of that bread. I am alive. My heart is beating. Two years and nearly two months of warm, soft yummy goodness. You can't beat that.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Some Odds and Ends

Welcome to all the new readers of my blog! I've noticed an increase in traffic over the last few days and I am honored to be a part of your day in even a small way!

In lieu of a real blog entry today (more to come as the week progresses) here are a few odds and ends:

- For all those who prayed for Liz, thank you. Everything is back to normal (which for her, is consistently good) and she is scheduled for release tomorrow.

- We are smitten. We are in love. I can't say any more even though I am nearly bursting at the seams. Hopefully more good news to report as the weeks progress.

- Try beef stroganoff made with buffalo sirloin sometime. You will not be disappointed and it's better for you anyway.

- It's always the best when you hear stories about someone you've known all your life that you've never heard before. In this case, it is my dad. Check out his blog if you get a moment.

- And lastly, as a present to all of you who have ever hung out on YouTube and shudder at the horrible comments. These girls have it going on.

Thank you again to all the new readers! Hope to see you again soon!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

View from Celestial Seasonings 12:15 am

From Fire

From Fire

From Fire

Click on the pictures to view larger images.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Testing the Changeover

I am changing over all my Google accounts and this is a test post to make sure it all worked alright!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Resolution Kept

The only resolution that I can remember making in 2008 was to read at least one book per month. And you know what? I did it! Yay me!

I love to read, but had stopped reading during the time before I really got sick. Back in the day when books were read less for pleasure but more as a survival technique to get through the Bataan Death March also known as night. I cranked through tons of books trying to sleep but tossed them aside, erroneously attributing my insomnia to the stimulation from the books.  

So this year I picked up books again in earnest, making time for a spot of reading before bed nearly every night.  Here is a sampling of some of the good, bad and the awesome books from 2008.

Oh, and I slept just fine this year. 

The Most Awesome
- The Two Towers, JRR Tolkien:  Oh, the choices. So many wonderful books! But the old classic topped the list. A spectacular read starting with the intense search for the missing hobbits and climaxing at the impressive battle of Helm's Deep. And just when you thought you could breathe again, the story picks up with Frodo and Sam's journey with Gollum with the ring to Mordor. I literally couldn't put it down, making the Two Towers the first book I could actually concentrate on while waiting for a biopsy and clinic visits.

The Almost Winner
- Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather: A gentle book of one priest's life as an unlikely appointee as the Archbishop of Sante Fe in the mid-1800s. A gripping story of faith and redemption written with grace and respect to the decisions of priests in a troubled and tempting land.

Honorable Mentions:  Wicked by Gregory MacGuire, Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick (more muscle and heart than Bladerunner which was inspired by the book.)

The Best Memoir
- If You Could Hear What I See, Kathy Buckley:  One day when I was on the VADs, I had the pleasure of being visited by Kathy Buckley, billed as America's first hearing impaired comedienne. I was shy and tired and hardly remember any of the visit other than we laughed a lot. She left her book and once I picked it up after the shameful delay of 18 months, I couldn't put it down. What an amazing survivor - and the hearing loss is the easy part. On top of that, she is an incredible human being. Shortly after reading the book, I was scheduled to give my heart transplant talk to some 7th grade students. Knowing she had experience with kids and speaking, out of the blue I emailed her for some advice. Within 1o minutes, we were chatting like old friends on the phone. Great lady. Great book.

Honorable Mentions: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (loved it!) and No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs  (Viesturs climbed the world's 14 highest peaks without oxygen - however, Viesturs's conservative climbing style works for survival but makes for a boring retelling even of this astounding achievement. By far, the most gripping part of the novel is the retelling of the 1996 Everest disaster.)

Best "Self Help" Book
- The Dance of Anger, Harriet Goldhor Lerner. A transformative look at the role of anger in the life of women and what we can do to learn from it and make changes. My most recommended book this year.

Honorable Mention: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman (Quality Time, in case you were wondering)

Worst Book
- Bridge to Forever, Richard Bachman. I so loved Jonathan Livingtston Seagull. But this was pure dreck. I couldn't even finish the novel about the author searching for his True Love and confounded by not finding her. Um, dude, maybe it is because you are a  self-obsessed, ultra-picky (but slutty) jerk?  Gack.

Other Notables
- Mere Christianity by CS Lewis: If you ever question why Christians believe what we do and you don't want to pick up the bible, try this instead.
- Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster: A delightful fantasy for the nerd in all of us.

There you have it, the best and worst of 2008. Anything you would like to add from your own reading list last year?