“40 before 41” project done

By Wednesday, April 22, 2015 0 , Permalink

Deadlines, Walt Disney, credit Kirsten Akens April 2015

One day before my birthday. Which means my “40 before 41” journey ends at midnight.

I didn’t check everything off the list, and I’m totally OK with that.

I challenged myself to do a whole lot of things I never would have done if I hadn’t brought this kind of attention to them. I learned more about what I’m really interested in, and what I’m not. What I wanted to make time for, and what I didn’t. What I do regret having not completed — and that just because this particular timeline ends tonight, doesn’t mean the pursuit has to end.

Thanks to all of you who have been along for the journey. Your comments have been a joy to read, and I love that I encouraged some of you to make your own lists.

Tomorrow, a new day. A new perspective. And a new list. Join me?

• 40 Before 41 • 

  1. Develop a new website for my blog
  2. Have a tarot reading done
  3. Find more opportunities to dance
  4. Visit a hot springs in Colorado
  5. See my byline in a national magazine
  6. Climb Pikes Peak
  7. Take a trip with a girlfriend
  8. Skinny dip
  9. Learn to make ginger beer
  10. Plant and grow something edible outside
  11. Intentionally play music in the house every day
  12. Continue to reduce my wardrobe, a la Project 333
  13. Take French language lessons — still in progress
  14. Invest in a week’s worth of matching bras and panties (foundations matter!)
  15. Visit Ojo Caliente
  16. Find the perfect red lipstick (and wear it)
  17. Get make-up tips from a pro
  18. Read at least 52 books
  19. Blog at least twice a week — still in progress
  20. Yoga and meditation, daily — still in progress
  21. Send a snail mail letter/card/postcard/gift once a month — hit most months
  22. Play paintball
  23. Facilitate and participate in at least one improv writing session a month — hit most months
  24. Build a terrarium
  25. Learn to bake French macarons 
  26. Plan my next trip to France
  27. Make new connections with at least three bloggers I respect
  28. Figure out my signature style — still in progress
  29. Take classes on how to use all the buttons on my DSLR
  30. Have at least one item of clothing tailored to fit
  31. Get will and living will in order — still in progress
  32. Take performance driving lessons — still in progress
  33. Give generously what I want to receive — always in progress
  34. Show up (my 2014 “one-word” soul mantra)
  35. Add a piece of original art to my collection
  36. Stay up once all night until sunrise
  37. Perform at a poetry slam/open mic  
  38. Attend the Santa Fe Opera
  39. Journal at least weekly
  40. Participate in a stage show (play, musical, etc.) as cast or crew

The “Miscellaneous Stuff I Did that Wasn’t on the List” List

I got on a skateboard for the first time. Fished for the first time, while visiting the Florida Keys, also for the first time. Learned how to clicker train a cat. Chopped 10 inches off my hair. Fostered two pups. Saw Reba perform. Started my Relax and Renew teaching certificate with Judith Hanson Lasater. Participated in three month-long Instagram challenges. Kept my #newrecipeaweek process going. Stopped struggling with making my bed. Started writing for a couple different websites. Interviewed some brilliant folks. 

I made my own ginger beer. You can too.

By Monday, April 13, 2015 0 , , Permalink

Ginger Beer Cooking, credit Kirsten Akens 2015

I love all things ginger, but I’m a particular sucker for ginger beer. As a part of my “40 before 41” journey, I wanted to learn to make what seemed to be a fairly easy non-alcoholic drink.

A friend of mine who concocts the ginger beer (of which I’m quite fond) for a local bar agreed to show me the ropes (and pass along his basic recipe), and so last fall I spent a morning helping him with a fresh batch — which mostly meant chopping and squeezing a whole lotta citrus, and watching him stir a humongous vat of the stuff.

A few weeks ago I finally got around to making a gallon of my own. It was an easy process and so I’m here to share the details of what I did with those of you who might also be aspiring ginger-beer-makers.


Ginger Beer

Basic Ingredients

325 grams of ginger juice, or 1.5 lbs whole ginger

1 lb. raw or white cane sugar

1/4 lb. of honey

3 limes

Champagne yeast (I used Red Star Pasteur Champagne Active Dry Wine Yeast, purchased at a local homebrew shop for about $1.50)

Bottles: Reusable flip-top cap style — I used four 34 oz. ones from IKEA, but eight 16 oz. ones would work too

Instructions

1. Juice your ginger, or peel and chop the whole pieces.

2. Boil ginger, sugar, honey and lime with a 1/2 gallon of water (for an hour if ginger pieces, 5 minutes if ginger juice).

3. Fine strain liquid, add water up to 1 gallon and shake to mix.

4. Fill each bottle, making sure to leave some room at the top. For each 16 oz. of liquid, add about 25 granules of champagne yeast.

5. Seal securely, shake well, and store in a warm, dark place for 48 hours.

6. After 48 hours have passed, refrigerate immediately to stop the carbonation process.

Drink, and smile. Or mix 4 ounces of ginger beer with 1.5 ounces of rum, pour over some ice, garnish with lime, and smile even more through your first housemade Dark ‘N’ Stormy.

A few additional notes:

• I used a juice extractor to juice my ginger. I’m not sure whether the bother of the machine was more or less work than peeling, chopping and then using cheesecloth to fine strain would have been, but I’d probably stick with the juicing process if I did it again.

• My bottles did not explode, but I hear that they can, so store your bottles carefully with this potential in mind.

• My ginger beer had quite the kick to it. At times, so much so, it made me cough. There are all sorts of possible reasons for that — from the ginger itself, to the type of honey, to things I’m sure I know nothing about. Next time, I’ll probably try lowering the amount of ginger just a wee bit, and maybe play with limes and lemons, but it is a bit of a crapshoot.

One month to go on “40 before 41.” Ack.

By Monday, March 23, 2015 0 Permalink

Falcon Trail, photo credit Kirsten Akens 2014

One month. 30 days. (Ish.)

Does not seem possible.

But it is.

And I’ll keep it short and sweet. Find updates below. And in the meantime I need to start planning a party — and my list for next year!

(For those new, you can find my original list here, and below you’ll find sections labeling what I’ve completed, what’s in progress and what’s still to come. With notes.) Best!

• 40 Before 41 • 

Done!

• Develop a new website for my blog — Do you like? Of course, I’m already rethinking another design. • Have a tarot reading done — A friend read the cards for me on my birthday. They indicated a lot of challenge over the next year, but lots of potential success too. She offered to read my cards again for my half birthday, and then she had to take her daughter to urgent care to have a bead removed from her nose. The things you never consider when you don’t have kids! We’ll do another birthday reading come April. (Right, Ann?) • Find more opportunities to dance — Not getting over for tap dancing at Ormao much now that I’m teaching yoga two nights a week, but I am still line dancing every Sunday. • Visit a hot springs in Colorado — I visited Mount Princeton Hot Springs in Buena Vista, Colorado, with my dear friend Jessica. It rained as we sat in the pools and it was a lovely, sensory experience. • See my byline in a national magazine — Woot! This happened! I’ve got a story in the Sept./Oct. 2014 issue of Spirituality & Health magazine. Find it here. I’m also working with ZOZI.com on some travel pieces which is super exciting. Find those here• Climb Pikes Peak — My #CouchTo14er is complete. This was the biggie on my list. • Take a trip with a girlfriend — Not only did Amber climb Pikes Peak with me, but she and I travelled to Breckenridge for a training hike weekend, which was loads of fun. AND my best friend and I visited Nashville together for a girls’ weekend. It was fantastic! • Skinny dip — Ahem. Done. And I have photos to prove it. Whether or not anyone else will get to them remains to be seen. Lol. • Learn to make ginger beer — Haven’t tried it on my own yet. This is something I will do before my birthday. • Plant and grow something edible outside — One tomato plant, chard, basil, baby lettuce and mint made it into the pots. I feel like the herbs succeeded, the rest, not so much. • Intentionally play music in the house every day — This has been awesome actually. Somehow it makes the house feel more like a home. • Continue to reduce my wardrobe, a la Project 333 — This was my biggie for October. I joined in on the #33in33 challenge, and you can read more about my journey here, here and here• Take French language lessons — Attended the French MeetUp group this month with a friend! Left after an hour because we were both exhausted. Otherwise it was good and we hope to keep going and/or start a small group of our own. • Invest in a week’s worth of matching bras and panties (foundations matter!) — Done! Lots of lace. I’m learning how much I like lace in all of my wardrobe, though I don’t have a lot. • Visit Ojo Caliente — Went for our anniversary. And it was amazing. Highly recommended. • Find the perfect red lipstick (and wear it) AND Get make-up tips from a pro — Thanks to my dear friend Joy, this happened! • Read at least 52 books — Did it! Fifty-six books down! Of course, I’m still reading. Seven in progress. • Blog at least twice a week — Slow start, but on average I think I did hit this. Some weeks I’ve written every day. Some weeks, two to three times. At least once a week for a long while now. Feels good.

In Progress

• Yoga and meditation, daily — Proud of this change. I’m getting to my mat more and more. • Send a snail mail letter/card/postcard/gift once a month — On track.  • Play paintball — I recruited friends. Bought tickets … and then the facility went out of business. Sigh. I think we’re going to all go play Dart Wars instead. • Facilitate and participate in at least one improv writing session a month — This has trailed off… Hoping to get back on track soon. • Build a terrarium — Haven’t built a full terrarium, but I do now have a mini hanging terrarium with rocks and an air plant. • Learn to bake French macarons — Looking for classes, have one potential option. • Plan my next trip to France — I’ve been chit-chatting and plotting and planning with my British friend Tamsin, owner of the Little French Retreat, about this … • Make new connections with at least three bloggers I respect — In progress! Figure out my signature style — This is happening as part of #Project333 and thanks to Pinterest. • Take classes on how to use all the buttons on my DSLR — I’ve worked out a trade agreement with a photographer friend. I’m going to do some editing work for him and he’s going to train me in my camera. Looking to make this a bigger part of my life in 2015. • Have at least one item of clothing tailored to fit — I’ve decided on jeans. And I’m currently saving to buy a premium pair. • Get will and living will in order — I’ve found a lawyer. Now, to make the call. • Take performance driving lessons — Super duper excited because I might be able to pitch this as a story and make it happen in early 2015. • Give generously what I want to receive — I’m learning that this means to others and to myself. I have to treat myself well for optimum functioning, physically and mentally. It’s a life-long WIP, really. • Show up (my 2014 “one-word” soul mantra) — I kinda think all of this is about showing up. Right?

Ahead of Me Still

• Add a piece of original art to my collection • Stay up once all night until sunrise • Perform at a poetry slam/open mic  

And … the Not Gonna Happen This Year List

• Attend the Santa Fe Opera — Unfortunately, I didn’t jump on this, and it looks like I won’t be able to attend until next summer, after my birthday. Kinda sad about that, but perhaps if I ask for tickets FOR my birthday that will count? • Journal at least weekly — This is so not happening. I think I like the idea of journalling more than the act itself. • Participate in a stage show (play, musical, etc.) as cast or crew — I was supposed to model for a runway show, and I got sick! So this is going on the next year list.

The “Miscellaneous Stuff I Did that Wasn’t on the List” List

I got on a skateboard for the first time. Fished for the first time, while visiting the Florida Keys, also for the first time. Learned how to clicker train a cat. Chopped 10 inches off my hair. Fostered two pups. Saw Reba perform. Started my Relax and Renew teaching certificate with Judith Hanson Lasater. Kept my #newrecipeaweek process going. Stopped struggling with making my bed. Started writing for a couple different websites. Interviewed some brilliant folks. 

What have you been up to lately? Let me know in the comments!