A New Year of Happy

I didn’t really do resolutions last year.  I privately decided I would try to minimize the amount of trips I made to a certain Mart.  This worked in the sense that I only went there twice in the year.  This did not work in the sense that I sent my husband there instead (they are the only store in the area that carries our 100% recycled brand of toilet paper and paper towels, and the only one that consistently carries our type of cat litter) and also placed an online order for enough cat litter to get free shipping and have the FedEx guy hate me.

It also did not work because the 2nd trip was this past month when I had such a huge shopping to do and I was HAPPY to be shopping there.  I had CHOICES.  And some things were certainly cheaper.  It also is two blocks from my favorite grocery store for bargains (Aldi) and 1/4 mile from my favorite Whole-Foods-Like store (Golden Harvest) so going there to finish up a grocery list means I can be done in one big trip versus one big trip and several smaller trips to closer-to-home (but still chains and therefore not a “better” use of my money) stores.

So I guess what I’m saying is one of my (a little less) private 2016 resolutions will be to NOT minimize the amount of trips I make to WalMart.  I will continue to not plan out trips specifically around the store and possibly do more online ordering when we really, truly only need those 3 essentials so I am not tempted by bargains.  But I will also not walk out of Aldi missing 4 ingredients for a recipe and trying to figure out when I can squeeze in another grocery trip that week.

Other random things I have decided to call resolutions for 2016:

  1. Get my teeth whitened.  I will start with a home-whitening kit but if that fails and finances allow, I will pursue it further with my dentist.  My teeth have never been very white.  It’s a side effect of having those old-fashioned braces with full bands cemented onto my teeth.  But since moving here, it has Gotten Worse.  At first I blamed our well water.  Then I blamed my smoothie, which I had changed from breakfast to snack and therefore wasn’t brushing right after.  So my hygienist scraped and scraped and SCRAPED OUCH and I started brushing my teeth midday and things were OK for awhile.  But I moved my smoothie back to breakfast and stopped that midday brushing and things have gone a bit grey again.  So I guess either it is our well water or I really need that 3rd cleaning to keep stains at bay.  I don’t really care if my teeth are white as pearls (which, um, they are whiter than some pearls I’ve seen so…?) but there are a few spots that noticeably stain to the point you might be distracted by it when talking to me up close.
  2. Become a vegetarian and lean more towards vegan.  I’ve been a vegetarian before, and never ate a ton of meat anyway, but it definitely has been a staple in our lives since Tom and I met.  In the past I’ve thought that moving away from meat, at least chicken, would be bad for me because I tend to not feel good if I don’t eat A LOT of protein and I have concerns about eating soy.  But the reality is I haven’t felt great for over a year now anyway – soy free – so why not give it a try?  It’s been over two weeks since I made the switch and so far so good.  (Although I still haven’t eaten much soy.)
  3. Use my Bullet Journal consistently and effectively and messily.  By “consistently” I mean, “Take some time at least every morning and evening to update to-dos, calendars, and other lists.”  A Bullet Journal is very helpful for me when I use it.  When I slip away from daily use it is not because I’m using something else – it’s because I feel too busy to take the time to write stuff down.  Which is exactly the time I need to use it the most.  “Effectively” and “Messily” actually go together although I know that doesn’t make sense.  By “effectively” I mean that I need to tailor lists and pages to suit me better.  And by “messily” I mean that if to use it effectively I need to change format half way through a book, I should do that.  I also mean that I should have more fun with writing and doodling in general in my Bullet Journal and fight the urge to keep it some pristine, regimented style.  It is a place for my thoughts, and they are definitely not either.
  4. Go for a Hike.  Capitalized to emphasize a long hike.  Ideally, I will take 3 weeks and hike the Superior Hiking Trail.  I have been pseudo planing this for some time now and my job is aware and supportive of the idea.  But there are a lot of possible obstacles so I won’t beat myself up if this doesn’t happen AND I will also hold myself accountable to find some other, shorter but still multi-day, trip.  HIKING MUST HAPPEN.
  5. Care less about who reads here.  I wrote two posts recently that I marked “private” and can only be seen by me.  While I do think one of them should remain that way out of courtesy to someone else (my ex-husband), the other is private because my family, close friends, and in-laws have become semi-regularly readers since we blogged our Appalachian Trail hike in 2013.  I LIKE that they read (hello people who know me in real life!), but I DON’T LIKE how my readership has censored me to the point that when I wish to complain that my husband is being an asshole (it happens, people) I end up spending 4/5 of the post trying to explain 1) I know he’s not an asshole all the time 2) this doesn’t mean anything significant in our marriage – we’re not divorcing or In Trouble 3) I’m aware I can be an asshole to at times.  While all 3 of those concepts may be true, they detract from the purpose of the post – MY HUSBAND IS BEING AN ASSHOLE AND I MUST COMPLAIN MIGHTILY THIS IS WHY THE INTERWEBS WERE CREATED.  (I will also take an ironic moment here to point out my husband is not – currently – being an asshole.  He’s actually at home getting chores done and later on today we have plans for our first(!!) movie at a real theater in years.  He also wasn’t an asshole yesterday.  BUT THE DAY BEFORE THAT MAYBE AND I DON’T CARE HOW MANY WEIRD FAMILY TEXTS THIS SHOCKING REVELATION CAUSES.)
  6. Use caps lock less.

 

Merry Cheesecake!

Merry Christmas!

For Christmas so far I have:

  1. Emptied, cleaned, replaced the cat litters.
  2. Washed dishes.  Thrice.
  3. Washed my “delicates”.  (I’m thinking once you get to a certain band size and  a certain cup size, they are no longer “delicate”.  Check and double check.)

But it’s not all fun and games here.  I DID open Christmas packages, go on a very long walk in snow-covered majestic-ness, and cook all sorts of tempting goodies which meant my very long walk should have been a very, very long walk but whatever.  It’s Christmas.

One item I made for myself for this holiday season was a cheesecake.  It came out wonderfully.  I’ve had three pieces now (breakfast, lunch, dinner…what?) and each time I marvel at how genius it was to make the crust out of  spekulatius (German spice cookies) because nothing says “awesome dessert” the way step 1 of a recipe calls for, “Take a complete dessert in its own right (cookies) and mash it with 6 tablespoons of melted butter.”

 

Some More Things

  1. No, I don’t know when I’ll feel like I have the time and inspiration to write something other than a list.
  2. We needed a huge shopping this week and I mustered up the fortitude to go to THREE stores to get the best deals/favorite brands (or favorite generics).  And I STILL decided to buy a few of the wrong things at the wrong store for the best price.
  3. Those things I purchased incorrectly are things that a) we don’t need often and b) I feel angry about the need for them AT ALL.  For example, one was special laundry detergent for hand washing my delicates.  I opted to not buy it at store #2 because CERTAINLY IT SHOULD NOT COST THAT MUCH.  But alas, it was $1.00 more at store #3.  Then I considered whether I could just use regular detergent (no, because we keep it at the shop since we do regular laundry at the laundromat in town and if I bring it home we’ll forget to bring it back) or just use hand soap (no, because we like foaming hand soap which is ALSO EXPENSIVE and maybe we should just get regular hand soap except that I never feel like I can rinse my hands soap-less in our well water so I’d probably just stop washing my hands) or just use dish soap (no, because for the same reason we use EXPENSIVE foaming hand soap we use EXPENSIVE specific-name-brand-specific-extra-power-style dish soap to clean our dishes in well water) so I bought the BIGGER, MORE EXPENSIVE special laundry detergent so at least cost per ounce went down and now that I’ve written this all out I think using our dish soap would have been fine.
  4.  I also still have things on my shopping list because we did not absolutely need them and I was trying to save (or space out spending) money.  But now I wish I had bought them and never had to shop again.  Ever.
  5. Another reason for a huge shopping list is that Tom is leaving on Wednesday to spend Christmas with his family.  I think I’ve mentioned that before?  But maybe not.  At any rate, I will not go into my office job from Wednesday through next Tuesday (although I will work for them remotely) and keep our shop open.  Since no one will be around to help with other chores, I tried to plan out meals and shopping through next Wednesday.  We’ll see how well I did and if I can find time to get everything cooked.
  6. I am not sad to spend Christmas by myself.  I am happy it means Tom gets a vacation and to see his family.  I have a special meal of all vegetarian appetizers planned and a book a friend sent me that will come down off my “to be read” shelf.  I will probably buy a little wine even though that means going back to a grocery store.
  7. I held off on buying wine because right before Thanksgiving I bought enough (6) bottles to get a huge ($18) rebate.  There is a similar rebate for a similar amount of bottles available right now (different brand), but I was really hoping to actually get the rebate check in the mail first so that it could cancel out some of the up-front cost of this next purchase.  But time is ticking and my “emergency” whiskey got used when I found a small skin infection (AGAIN?!) yesterday during my shower.
  8. To end on a positive note: a) the infection looked MUCH BETTER this morning and I’m 99% sure I won’t need an oral antibiotic or to curtail my exercise routine b) the emergency whiskey tasted awesome.

Some Things

  1. The nice thing about starting a more hectic schedule at this time of year is that you know IT WILL GET BETTER.  Of course it will get better because ALL (most?) schedule changes get better.  You adjust.  You tweak.  You compromise.   But having a schedule change occur during the darkest part of the year means that while it is awful right now, there is (literally!) light at the end of the tunnel and in a few months one of the tweaks you make is to not fall asleep at 6pm.
  2. Getting on a different schedule with less free time means all of a sudden I feel compelled to fit ALL THE THINGS into that free time.  I seriously do not think I have meditated or done yoga in 3 months and while it is a worthy endeavor to find time and space, it is NOT a worthy endeavor to beat myself up over it.  Also, since I DO want to fall asleep at 6pm these days, I’m basically trying to cram a bunch of self-improvement stuff into the 5am – 8:30am time slot which includes an hour wait time between taking my thyroid meds and when I’m allowed to drink coffee.  Insane.
  3. One thing I HAVE been religious about since the roads got icy and the sun went away is using my elliptical in the morning.  I find it very boring, but a month or so ago I finally broke down and got an iPhone 6 which is just a big enough screen to watch romantic comedies on.  That makes it bearable and sometimes I can trick myself into working out a little longer if I get to a good part.
  4. Although if time and weather cooperate on the weekends, I still prefer a walk outdoors.  After a few weeks of icy temperatures, things have warmed up here and there is pretty much no snow on the ground and today it rained.  RAINED.  I love it of course but it is weird and also making me anxious.  Like I’m waiting for the other, ice-storm-power-out-for-days, boot to drop.

Pizza, Pizza

Tom:  I’ll need your help when we get home.

Me:  OK, but we have to cook dinner.

Tom:  I thought we were having pizza?

Me:  That was LAST night.

Good news/bad news:

Good news!  Even in the midst of a schedule change and bare pantry we won’t eat pizza two days in a row!

Bad news!  One pizza = one meal.

Thanksgiving Menu Addition – Brought to you by Merlot

I meant to surf somewhere else, but google decided to auto-complete with my WordPress admin page so here we are.

I have a pie crust blind baking in the oven.  And I’m going to go ahead and guess that 5 minutes into the oven is the wrong time to realize you didn’t fork-prick that crust to death.

I am using Deb’s All Butter Pie Crust (follow the link at the end for rolling instructions.  First time I followed them and first time in forever I haven’t had to piece-meal a crust back together in the pie tin!) and blind baking it to make a French Silk Pie (following Martha Stewart’s recommendation which seems very similar to Pioneer Woman’s version just less volume).

Tom is in charge of the turkey.

I will make Paul Deen’s Corn Casserole (less butter, more cheese possibly) and back to SmittenKitchen for Green Bean Casserole (although I’m using pre-fried onions.  Ingredient list is basically the same and maybe ONE pot will remain clean tomorrow).

There will be some willy-nilly sweet potatoes, possibly roasted in disks or just plain baked.

And I made Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip bread from Betty Rocker’s latest email because I had some pumpkin puree left over from oatmeal and what’s Thanksgiving without pumpkin?

TBD if tomorrow will include Merlot.  Depends a lot on the blind baking outcome.

A very happy to you and yours.

Get Your Anti-Oxidants Right Here

It seems Tom and I have a slightly different approach to sussing out the important flavors in a recipe…

Me:  What do you want to eat this week?

Tom: Oh, I don’t know…um….what about that stew?

Me:  What stew?

Tom:  It has spinach* in it?

Me:  You mean the one with red wine?

Guess what I get to drink during dinner prep!

*It’s not spinach, it’s arugula.  And it’s not arugula in the original recipe, it’s kale. Which is what I’m using tonight as it is not exactly arugula season.  But I’m still drinking the wine.  And wondering how Tom managed to evolve from someone with a chest freezer full of perogies and fish sticks to someone suggesting spinach stew.

Giving Thanks A Little Early This Year

After over a month of negotiation (which really just meant we were never in the same city long enough to sit down and hash things out after my initial request), I have received both a raise and an hour increase at my part-time job.

First off, I am thankful for a job period.  Then I am also thankful for a job that I like.  Lastly, I am thankful for a job where I am valued and that translates into things like more money.  I did not request the increase in hours; that was brought up by my bosses.  After trying to budget our spending based on our income (instead of dipping into our savings), it was clear I should agree to any and all options that boosted my paycheck.

It will a be a little weird at first.  There will be some growing pains at the shop.  The increase in amount of hours I work for them means a decrease in hours I can work for myself.  I am sad over the idea of not being a part of the day-to-day at our store.  The dream was (and still is) for us to run the shop as our sole source of revenue.  But it’s just not there yet.  Changing my priority from the shop to this “full-time”* position gives us some breathing room in our budget to grow the shop without worrying (quite so much) about where the next meal is coming from.

*I still won’t be working 40 hours/week so it is not like I will 100% step away from our business.  But as it stood before, we both worked for our store almost every day and pretty much wore every hat together, working on any part of the business as needed that day.  Now I foresee a more divide and conquer with each of us having set tasks dependent upon our availability.

I do have many other things to be thankful for this year.  Our (relative) good health.  Finding ways to connect with friends even though we are far apart.  A renter for the condo who pays rent and a property manager who ensures that payment arrive consistently.  Many agreed upon Values and Important Things with my husband that make tough times not so tough.  Friends and family who respect and support our decision to move a million miles away from them.

A job isn’t everything.  But it is something, especially having one you like.  And I do.  So I am thankful.

Weather To Be Wary

I am in one of those FitBit weekday competitions so I am trying to not sit still period this week.  That, plus hosting commitments (SOMEONE has to introduce Mom to Boardwalk Empire), have kept me from writing much.

I will save general “I got a FitBit” details for another post (I have it already started!  Twice!) but for those that don’t know – a FitBit is an activity device, specifically one to measure the steps you take in a day.  And if you have friends through their software, you can compete against each other.  I have some that have been competing weekly.

This was all well and good a few weeks ago when some people were new and still gearing up.  I got first place twice without even trying.  Then I skipped last week because I felt like it would be “cheating” what with our 42-mile hike.

I should not have skipped.

All of a sudden people are pulling crazy numbers.  And some are friends-of-friends whose personal life I know nothing about but I’m thinking NONE OF THEM have two jobs, one which requires me to sit at a desk.  (Maybe I shouldn’t ask for a raise this year, but a treadmill desk instead?)  I am now just roaming rooms in circles and pacing like crazy in some hope of generating enough steps that the tracker can keep me on the same graph as them without resorting to using exponential tick marks.

And the weather is not cooperating.

Yesterday it was rain.  A misty, delicate rain most of the day.  Then we needed to go to the post office, three blocks away, and I volunteered to dash out.  The rain will make me go faster!

Not only did it choose black 1.5 to have a downpour, but the wind picked up with a vengeance.  I was soaked and had to pretty much go straight home to change.

Today, it is snow.  Specifically, a snow as hard and windy as yesterday’s rain that hit me on my morning walk and I wondered for a few minutes if I’d get to see anything in front of me until I got back inside.

Now it’s snowing worse and I’m stuck doing laps at the shop.  I’m beginning to wish I had looked for a used treadmill instead of an elliptical machine.  I loved the elliptical machine at my old gym because I could do High Intensity Interval Training while saving my knees.  But it is HARD to get the FitBit to count steps on the elliptical.  Even though I sweat more during the workout, I’ll log about 1/3 less steps than if I’d just hoofed it down the road for the same amount of time.

So when I get hit by snow plow this winter, and they finally uncover my body in the thaw, please remember to sync my FitBit one last time.