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.

Something To Show For It

I don’t know what that title means.  But WordPress has already made the Permalink so…

We’re back!

Technically, we’ve been home since Thursday evening! And I’ve been busy with random chores such as grocery shopping and all-day canning extravaganzas!

Anyone remember that I can? Anyone? Bueller?* I have a feeling I haven’t written about it much since the first few times I broke out the supplies here in 2013.

Last year, the first year the shop was open during peak produce harvests, I ended up freezing things when I could and then live tweeted a day of canning that included two jams, a conserve, a salsa, and bruchetta in a jar. I could barely move afterwards and anytime I thought of canning for the next few months I sort of shivered then had to lay down to recuperate.

This year I managed to do three small one-batch canning sessions during the summer, then blasted out three more recipes yesterday with my mother’s help.  It was so much more relaxing to be able to take shifts at standing at the stove and stirring.

The hike was great, by the way.  I will try to write about it more later.  (I WILL write about it more later, but the first priority when it comes to hiking writing is not here anymore.)  But I did not get sick, I did not get a skin infection, we made the miles we wanted including a 20-mile-day, we tested some great food and OK equipment, and I packed the car with a great “after hike bag” that included more fresh water, extreme peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, oat bran sesame sticks (my personal weakness), and fresh clothes to change into.

So we got home, I did some chores on Friday, and then we heard about the attacks in Paris.  I don’t have anything to say about it, really.  I’m not a political blogger or a social justice blogger.  But I also feel like I need to SAY it.  I need to mention it happened.  I’m not sure why I feel that way; many other things have happened (other happened in past 48 hours in other countries) that I haven’t said.  But here I am.  Mentioning Paris.  Because to not mention Paris feels wrong.

Saturday my mother and I canned.  And today I am the store by myself and it is marvelous.  Not marvelous that I have (almost) no customers, but marvelous that I can putter around the store without need for rhyme or reason and get 6 things done in my weird 1-step-forward-2-steps-towards-the-recycling-4-skips-to-reorganizing-the-front-display-shelf-3-parkours-into-the-billing.  It’s not multi-tasking, exactly.  But there is a joy I get in the freedom of letting my mind, feet, and hands all wander in sync to the tune of “Let’s Get Stuff Done.”

Blog?  Check!

*I wrote this and then went back through the site to link to a canning post.  The second one I found also had a Bueller? reference.  Good to know I stay relevant in my un-funniness.

 

What Goes Down Must Come Up

I’ve had a touchy stomach the past few days.  It’s very odd because I usually do not succumb to ailments below the throat.  (Internal ailments that is.  Ankles and knees, I am not speaking about you.)

My cast-iron status quo is somewhat confounding if you knew how much IBS and other digestion-related diseases run in my family.  It is less confounding if you knew how my father melded exotic foods with a laissez-faire attitude towards expiration dates and food spoilage.

Even when things do get on an uneven keel below the neck, I tend to roll the punches pretty well.  So I was surprised yesterday morning by how persistent a stomachache I had.  I drank water, ate a little food, and went to the bathroom.  I had done my part, but my stomach refused to stop complaining.

I figured it was a combination of stress (we have left much trip planning for this hike to the last minute) and non-sleep.  I muddled through the rest of the day, did indeed feel dead tired by 6:15pm, and went to bed at 7:30pm.  For a while it seemed my stomach might keep me up, protesting the blandest of dinners (roast chicken), but things settled down and I felt very refreshed this morning.

I was still careful about my coffee and breakfast.  But returning from my usual morning walk without any unusual morning twinges, I decided I was still hungry and made myself my usual breakfast green smoothie.

And promptly threw up a small amount of it.

That was, while unpleasant, educational.  Because it was very evident that what my body was trying to expel was not the smoothie, but gobs and gobs of phlegm/snot that had made it to my tummy.

Evidently my sinus issues, which I have SO frequently I barely notice until I can’t breath or have an elephant sitting on my right eye, are a little worse than I realized.  And my just-to-combat-the-dry-air nettie pot session first thing in the morning helped move things along.

While it’s not fun to feel under the weather before planning a rugged and athletic vacation, at least I know I will be getting plenty of fresh air in the next few days.  And not be making green smoothies.  That trend may continue a few days more.  Because as much as I have come to love the taste of pureed spinach, Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, and even kale on its way down, the taste on the way back up leaves a lot to be desired.

Warning: Thoughts Ahead

It’s 11:20am on Saturday as I type this.  I technically already wrote something today.  I emailed my brother, SIL, and SIL’s sister some pictures and updates to the cabin.  I would share them here except I have no before photos.  Only the afters.  I am counting on those three to have the befores etched into their brains from the 57 years the cabin has been in the family.

Side note: For about 5-10 years or so there was a stretch where I did not visit the cabin very much and they did.  I was working, volunteering, and first-marriaging in Florida.  (The first marriage mention fits because his family was in FL, giving me even less reason to leave the state.)  My grandparents were also in Florida, with the rest of my family in Chicago.  George, Francesca, her family and lots of their friends would take advantage of the cabin several weekends out of the summer.  They made minor changes, mostly linen and small appliance additions, during that time.  I’m sure my brother wished to do more, but I have always been a little…sensitive…about things around the cabin changing too much.  And when I say “around”, I mean I was upset for over a week about a new traffic light on our drive into town.  God forbid someone move the sofa.  Now I have moved here (with his blessing) and there are many things about living here full-time as two adults with cats that is very different from being a summer residence of grandparents and grandchildren.  So I have changed a great many things.  Even thrown out a few things.  And I sometimes wonder at what his emotional response over these changes.  Is he a little sad to see the yellow curtain that separated his childhood summer bed from the dining area finally be removed?  In some way did he not like change but did not have to be quite so vocal about it since I was more than willing to pick up his slack?  Or is he in New Mexico frustrated thinking,  “NOW she makes all these changes when I am a bazillion miles away and working and cannot enjoy them?!”

Anyway, the latest changes are to accommodate another living arrangement – three adults with cats.  My mother is coming to stay for a few weeks.  I think at least two but you never know with her these days.  (HI MOM!)  She has very much embraced the fluidity of retirement.  I have asked her to stay for Thanksgiving but she thinks a friend might visit.  Who knows.  Maybe that will fall through or maybe a more enticing offer than a re-organized bedroom without a ginormous TV lurking in the corner will come up in 3 days and she’ll be on her way.

But the assumption is two weeks.  Maybe longer.  So we moved our computers out of the room she likes to stay in and put the TV in the living room where it covers up almost half of the main windows and I can’t stand it but we’re hardly home when it is light out anymore so who cares?  The TV, by the way, is only ginormous to me.  I also have never had cable except when living with roommates or husbands.  An in-home entertainment center to me is built-in bookshelves.

I have also taken a week off from my part-time job, and while my mother is here to cat-sit (we have a terribly emotional Maine Coon who needs daily meds, sometimes AM and PM, and constant consoling anytime Tom is out of his sight) Tom and I will go backpacking.  Imagine that!  People who run a hiking store going to hike!

This is very exciting but also nerve wracking.  It will be our first multi-day trip since we left the Appalachian Trail in 2013.  I still have not reached a point where I don’t get skin infections, but I do have some better understanding of how to prevent and treat them.  And it is only three days so I am not too concerned except that it might be uncomfortable.  But it is only three days and we plan to hike over 15 miles a day to cover the trail we chose.  I am optimistic given how the weather has held and how much walking I do on a regular sit-at-the-computer day (about 5 miles) and the fact that it won’t be up and down mountains.  But I do want to have fun and being on a tight mileage schedule can sometimes not be fun.

So!  I will probably not be writing much this next week!  Because my mother is scheduled to get here….now?  It’s now 12:47pm.  It has not taken me over an hour to put together such a jumble of words.  I also showered and made nachos.