Typing It In

So I missed yesterday…just didn’t have anything to say.  Today I started on a “real” post and hoped to get it done but I need pictures which I can’t take in the dark.

“Jessica,” you say, “I do not see a huge improvement in your photography when it is light.”  And you are correct.  But it is the ONE THING besides taking a lens cap off I know about photography.  Plus, I wish to photograph ugly and I think we agree given enough light even I can capture that.

Here I am phoning it in, so to speak, until I have proper time and attention and lighting to do otherwise.

So what happened yesterday?

I showed up a cable technician on assigning static IP.  Slightly sweet because hello, tech skillz, I haz them.  Slightly sour because our hardware/firmware were (are) still causing issues.  I will be very happy when I stop lugging my laptop around.

Tanya at the farmer’s market said she’d had enough greens to bring in two bags this week and in another few weeks will have enough to save me some.  GREENS.  There is a dim light (all the better for me to photograph with!) at the end of this wintry tunnel.

I sent the email basically firing my old property manager for the condo.  That felt good.  We are resigned to the fact that cutting ties with him probably means no hope of pursuing further payment from the delinquent ex-tenant.  We will chalk that up to an expensive lesson and we definitely know better what to ask for and expect this next time around.

I hurried to post an unwanted book on paperbackswap.com so that it would be requested ASAP.  By the time I got to work, it was. I mailed it right away using PBS to print my postage which meant I received 1 free swap credit instantly under their new swapping policies. Then I was able to request a book from my wishlist that I was notified of availability roughly 2 hours prior without having to pay a swapping fee.  This whole process made me extremely happy.  You’d think I’d hacked into a bank and arranged for fractions of pennies to be deposited into my account.

Today?  Today I lugged my laptop to work.

Tomorrow is Friday.  Can I get an Amen?

Satisfied Question Mark

An early start to the day because of dog poop.

Which meant a leisurely morning with all chores done and time to read a book.

An easy fulfilling day working at The Hiker Box.

Except for the chill in the air when two ladies opened the door, said, “Looks expensive” and left without setting foot inside.

A nice hot meal when I came home.

That was supposed to be a recreation of a dish I had over the holidays but missed its mark and now I’m obsessed.

Too tired to blog or do evening chores.

But the bed is waiting for me as soon as I’m done.

 

A Three Hour Tour

That is what I took today of my office’s network hardware and firmware.  The cut over is done, but of course not finished.  This is a dedicated line that should see much better speeds.  The hypothesis is the cabling is poor quality.  I am lucky that my boss will start this investigation since he knows the guy who cabled it in the first place.  I will jump in once he decides a course of action.

It also took about three hours for me to drive to Rhinelander, shop at three stores, drive to Three Lakes, shop at one store, then drive home.  We (I) are (am) trying to minimize the amount we spend at WalMart this year.  It’s always been a goal, but now we are at the point of just buying things we can’t buy elsewhere.  Unfortunately, our other avenues for purchasing our corn-cob cat litter have dried up.

So I went there, then to Aldi, then to my favorite grocery store, Golden Harvest.  All natural, organic, local…whatever buzzword you want to add to your grocery list, they have it.  And they mean it.  They also have great prices – I’ve learned to stop thinking, “Oh, I’m not going to buy X there, it will be too expensive” because I always find X for only 23 cents cheaper at the other store.

In Three Lakes I stopped at a small organic store, Tree Huggers.  They carry some good bulk items and I am out of Nutritional Yeast to put on popcorn.

Once home, I continued on the “three” kick by hauling that many number of sleds full of firewood from the pile outside to the “staging/melting” area inside the porch.  It will sit in one of those square tubs you put under a washing machine until toted to the pretty wood stand by the stove.

Three will continue to be the theme for the weekend as tomorrow’s high incorporates it.  With a negative sign.

Guess how many times I plan to leave the house?  And my PJs?

Busy Busy Everywhere But Not A Drop To Drink

My “other job”, that part-time one that puts a few pennies in our account every month, has been increasingly demanding as the week goes on.

It’s funny in some ways, because all the bosses are out of town.  One is out of state for a few months until WI has less snow and more bugs.  The other two are a few hours south managing a big acquisition.

The big acquisition hasn’t caused more work for me, and with no one but the other admin assistant around you’d think work would be pretty low-key.  But somehow stuff piles up.  And when the two brothers remember to keep a finger on our pulse here, the emails fly with requests.

Tomorrow I will be doing the last big tech project I’ve had on my list – doing a cut over in Internet service that will require mucking about within Cisco switches and routers and firewalls and thank goodness I decided to write about this mundane shit because it made me remember to put “Pack laptop for work” on my list.  As I know nothing about Cisco inner-workings, I will rely on a 3rd party remote IT person to guide me.  How awesome would it be if he said, “First, plug into the router.” and I said, “With what?”  I think I may say that anyhow.  Just to start his day off right.  (No sexist stereotyping there – I’ve already been told the tech assigned is Michael.)

Hopefully all will go right and I will have a bit more brain matter to dedicate to this space going forward.

Today

Today I am sleepy.  Not tired because that conveys a lack of sleep and a negative quality around what I’m feeling.  No, I am sleepy.  I look forward to going to bed.

Today I am also frustrated.  I had three other paragraphs written, but my wrists drooped to my touch pad which inevitably deletes some or all of my writing.

One of those other paragraphs was about how I seem to be missing connections and unable to follow through on anything today.  The sale hadn’t started at the store, all the eggs were gone by the time I made it to the farmer’s market, and then when I stopped donate items in my trunk I forgot a small bag so now I have to ride around with it until I have another donation pile or make a separate trip just for that.

Then poof!  Gone!  And that made me wonder WHY IS MY TOUCH PAD EVEN ON?  It’s been doing this to me for months now.  I’m pretty sure I had disabled it at some point.  An update must have changed that.

But why?  Why I have been living with that for so long?  When the solution is a mere search and three clicks away?

Today I don’t have cheap groceries, or eggs, or an empty car.  But I can go to bed and try again tomorrow.  And tomorrow?  My touch pad won’t work.  Because I fixed that.  Today.

Grateful

Inspired by Cass McCory’s Bullet Journal, I stole her idea of keeping a Gratitude journal as part of my daily pages. Down at the bottom each day, I give myself three lines to jot down three things I’m grateful for.

I only started last week. Part of that “bettering” kick I seem to be on. And what isn’t better than being grateful? It is particularly apt for me these days as I feel the weight of some big, negative, but vague issues. Those issues mostly directly correspond to decisions and chances I had the privilege to chose. I vacillate between, “This is so hard and unfair” and “I got to decide this hard and perhaps unfair path and I’m lucky to have the option to play this out.” It’s a somewhat stressful place to hang out, and at the worst it makes me feel like whiney bitch who doesn’t appreciate what she has right in front of her. Gratitude journaling seems like a good, small effort I can take to move away from that sort of thinking.

Gratitude journaling is harder than I thought it would be. Right now it feels like one more thing to do. I’m pretty sure the idea is not to sit there impatiently tapping pen to paper grumbling, “What the fuck am I grateful about so I can cross this off my list.”

Several of my gratitude entries feel like generic cope-outs – avocados, lazy day at work. These are things that everyone is grateful for every day.

But then sometimes an entry will hit me, and it will even be a generic “everyone/everyday grateful”, but at the moment I will feel an instant, visceral, gratefulness.

Two days ago, it was hot water.

I also am still going strong with my “no pain medication” detox. I have seen no tangible benefit thus far. No sudden weight loss now that my liver has hours and hours free. No change in my blood pressure (I’m wondering if the stress of pain could be elevating my BP?). The only thing I’ve noticed is that after the initial few days, it is getting easier for me to fall asleep at night. And I can’t be doing myself harm, right? So pill-less I go.

But painless, I’m not. And I have come to embrace the alternative pain management of heat therapy, standing under our shower with my left shoulder stuck in the spray and the cold tap turned off for as long as I can stand. Two nights ago I was there and physically struck – head jerked up, eyes opened – with how grateful I am for that hot water.

I take that as a win.  Is there anything you are particularly grateful for?

Little Blog, Big Flake

Soooo tired.  For the first time since we opened The Hiker Box, I convinced Tom to close early so we could go hike together.

Except instead of hiking, we went snow shoeing.  Very fun, but exhausting.

In case you have not figured it out by now, I am participating in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) for February.  I have qualms about calling it that (NaBloPoMo) because I believe the to do so would mean it is THE month, like how February is Black History Month.  Or November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  And that’s not the case for NaBloPoMo.  Blogher creates prompts and blogrolls for EVERY month to be someone’s personal NaBloPoMo.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s great that a community promotes daily writing and provides resources.  But I think it should be called something else.

And yes, I picked February in part because it is the shortest month.

I also picked it because my hope is getting a jump on writing this year will inspire me to do this again a few more months before 2016.  And lastly, I seem to be on a bit of a “bettering myself” kick and I have always considered “writing more” as “bettering”.

I had a small bet with myself for how long I would daily blog without mentioning I was doing this specifically for NaBloPoMo (PeDaPoMo?  Personal Daily Posting Month?).  I thought it would be cool to breeze through the entire month posting la-di-da without acting as if I had outside influence.

But I have wanted to go to bed since 6:38pm so here you go, cop out post #1!  Gotta love the letter of the law.  Daily blog post?  Yes.  Blog post with any discernible theme or structure?  No.  I did however, even in my sleepy haze, edit out three “justs”, a few commas, and at least one “and”.  In case you were feeling slighted and unloved.

Because I Don’t Use Instagram

Today I spent about four hours on meal preparation.  It was longer than usual because of new recipes and roasting a chicken.  So I wrote about it during breaks.  I took a lot of breaks.  If our food choices don’t interest you, please come back later!

I always wanted to be a meal planner. I became one over this summer. And I haven’t looked back.

Four things that have made meal planning successful for me:

  • I write it out on pen and paper. I use my Bullet Journal and then I have past meal plans to look back on.
  • I use my taste buds and our current pantry, not the ads, to plan. If it’s a really great sale, I buy it and incorporate it next week or freeze it. Planning foods I want and making sure nothing we already purchased goes to waste are my priorities.
  • I do a bulk cook and prep session one day of the weekend. This helps me not forget meals during the week or omit them if I get busy.
  • My husband is on board and pitches in with the extra dish load.

I don’t plan every day, just in general 7 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with snacks and sides.

This week’s Menu:

 Breakfast

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-Groats. (Think steel cut oats without the steel cut.) We have these every other week. I make a big batch with a little less than twice the water recommended, boil them for 10-15 minutes, then add a tablespoon of vanilla extract and put them in the fridge. They finish soaking up the water overnight. I like to add cinnamon, raisins, pumpkin puree, and grated carrot to mine. Tom likes raisins, brown sugar, and nuts.

-Eggs with vegetables. Sometimes I make a quiche or frittata. But that can get tough throughout the week. Tom loves to cook scrambled eggs so this is sautéed mushroom, onion, and zucchini to add to them. It adds some nutrients, some heft, and most important for me, some flavor.

-Not pictured “Go To” fill-in ideas – Sprouted Grain Bread for French toast or toasted peanut butter sandwiches, Hormone-free Organic bacon, and Non-Hormone-free Non-Organic turkey sausage. These will round our breakfasts depending on time and tastes. (We usually eat only one meat a week for breakfast.)

Oh, and I eat a small salad with breakfast every day. Tom declines.

Smoothies

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I make a green smoothie for myself daily. On the weekend, I prep everything and re-use produce bags so I can dump it in my blender and go every morning.

I will use 2-3 kinds of greens, 2 kinds of fruit, and usually some cucumber and/or celery. I often add frozen blueberries or strawberries as I like, and chia seeds or hemp seeds when I remember.

This week all smoothies have parsley and spinach as the greens. Then I made four with ½ an apple and ¼ cucumber. The other three have a stalk of celery and a banana will get added when made.

Lunches

Lunches are a combination of: leftovers from dinner, freezer meals leftover from other weeks, eating out once, and one day of tuna salad made with avocado instead of mayo. That ensures I eat fish at least once a week.

This week I am going to thaw a batch of vegan chickpea and lentil curry from a few weeks ago to add to other leftovers.

Dinner

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-BBQ Chicken. Skinless thighs for me, regular drumsticks for Tom. This was to use up a bottle of sauce that turned out to be quite watery. I may have to find another sauce for slathering and dipping the day we eat.

-Chicken Stew with Dumplings. This is a new recipe for me based off of Tom’s request for chicken and dumplings. I have taken a lot of liberties with the ingredients based on what we already had in the freezer. (A bag of EAT YOUR PEAS is in there.)

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-Chicken Pesto. This is a variation I created from a Rachel Ray “30 Minute Meals” show. The basics are a rotisserie chicken, roasted red peppers, olives, and pesto. I add mushrooms for “umph”. And I take significantly longer than 30 minutes by roasting the chicken and the peppers myself. I wish I had the resources to make the pesto from scratch but it is hard to find mass amounts of good basil in northern Wisconsin in February. No, really.

Once the chicken is chopped up, this meal will come together in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

Not pictured: hamburgers and fish. The hamburgers will either be ground turkey breast or a local source of ground round. The fish will be tilapia. I dislike lots of fish.

Snacks/Sides

I lump snacks and sides together because I mix and match a lot for my lunch. This is more than we will probably eat in one week. I like to have lots of options so I don’t buy junk.

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-Fruit. Tangerines & Bananas. And apples for Tom. My TMJ makes it hard for me to eat them. That’s why I have them in smoothies a lot.

-Trail Mix. This is walnuts, roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds, and raisins.

-Muffins.  This week I created a new recipe for almond flour cranberry muffins because I have cranberries to use up. I used all apple sauce instead of butter or oil and they came out almost too moist. But very delicious. Less sauce, a little spice and I may have a new favorite.

Not pictured: Wild rice, yogurt and zucchini. Another vegetable you say? How about a bag of EAT YOUR PEAS?

(I have a bag and a half of green beans which will probably last the week. Otherwise I have some canned beets.)

We also might have some Baked Beans? This would be Tom’s contribution. He has a crockpot recipe for them he likes to make.

Dessert

Nothing special planned this week. Those muffins are my big treat. I am trying to cut down on refined sugar. There is some vanilla ice cream in the freezer if we get desperate.

And that’s it!  Now all I have to do is not eat it all before Tom gets home!

Eat Your Peas

I can’t remember exactly when, but soon-ish (before last spring?) after we moved here Tom became obsessed with finding us a full-sized freezer.

He found one for free on Craigslist and it works almost great.  Between being older and the wonderful slant of our floor (fingers crossed our Power Ball ticket is a winner and we can afford a basement this year!  Otherwise Tom will jack parts of the house up.  How is it that living in a historic cabin feels more redneck than when I lived in a double-wide?), the door doesn’t shut with just a push.  You have to physically merge the door to the frame, then hold it there while the gasket considers the merits of creating a seal versus creating Frozen Part II, an Ice Cube’s Revenge.

Several times in the past year we have not been as attentive to the door as the gasket would like and found the freezer looking like Hoth.  We de-iced it a few times but the final straw was when we lost power while in Albuquerque.  It was cold enough in the house to not worry about food spoilage but at some point you cut your losses.

And thus I requested that Tom refrain from hording for a while and that we eat up items we knew had been there before December 25th.

Here’s where his stocking tendencies start to annoy me.

Tom loves to buy frozen vegetables.  And that’s fine.

Tom loves to buy frozen peas and frozen corn.  Which are vegetables I don’t typically eat as they fall in that too-starchy-while-also-not-protein-y category that lots of good tasting food falls into it.

And that’s fine too.  If he wants his apocalypse bunker to be only Tom-friendly, that’s his prerogative.  I should buy my own rations or suck it up and eat peas.

EXCEPT THAT HE DOESN’T EAT THE PEAS EITHER.

We’ve been on this clean-out-the-freezer meal plan for three weeks now.  I have eaten two and 1/2 bags of frozen green beans, used a bag of onion with parsley in a stew, used two bags of “vegetable medley” (THAT INCLUDES PEAS.  AND CORN.) in stews and casseroles, AND EATEN A BAG OF PEAS.

How many bags has Tom eaten?  Zero.

(I cook or bring a vegetable as part of my lunch every day.  I’ve been bringing a bag for the work freezer and nuking appropriate portions each day.  I try not to have too many other carbs with the peas.)

The problem is that Tom only wants to cook one thing for a meal.  He likes to bring big portions of leftovers and call it good.  If it doesn’t bring anything?  He makes himself peanut butter sandwiches.

This only dawned on me this week when I asked if he’d eaten the peas I’d sent with him earlier.

“No.  I don’t have a bowl!”

“What about the blue bowls?”

“They aren’t big enough!”

“You can just cook one bowl’s worth of peas at a time!”

“Blasphemy!”

Evidently if I want Tom to eat his peas, I’m going to have to stop cooking and offer no other choice.