Thursday, January 30, 2020

Is It Seriously STILL January?

Is it just me, or, has this been the longest January on record? I mean, it feels like it has gone on for forevvvver...

...I imagine I am only feeling this way because I have been anxiously awaiting the beginning of my new job in February, but, still, go away January! Bring on a new month! New challenges! New opportunities! New reasons to celebrate, and new experiences to enjoy!

And, February? I know that I have always treated you like the bastard stepchild of the winter, but, this year? This year I intend to show you the respect you are due, and, not just because January has stolen the mantle of Longest Month of the Year from you (although, it totally has).

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

What's Up Wednesday, January 2020 Edition

It's the first What's Up Wednesday of the new year! And, what a great start we are off to! I'm linking up with Sheaffer and Shay again this year, because, when I go back over posts from previous years, it's always fun to see how I answered these questions. So!

What We're Eating

I have been in low-motivation mode when it comes to cooking. I am intentionally addressing that, but, the month has definitely featured a lot of cobbled-together meals and more eating out than we would ordinarily do. This includes a Mexican feast that we consumed just prior to the Man-Cub's return to school following the holiday break.

In defense of my culinary activity, I have recently started baking my own bread again, so, I'm not being a total slacker (LIES!).

What I'm Reminiscing About

Monday night, I lost one of my dearest childhood friends. She was a force to be reckoned with and, along the majority of our classmates (small town small school, tight bonds), I am shocked and saddened at her passing. I've been remembering our time together, from swinging on the monkey bars in elementary school, to learning how to drive together, to cheering side-by-side on the high school cheer squad, to celebrating each other's marriages and the births of our children. It's hard to imagine a world without her in it, but I am so grateful for those amazing memories.

What I'm Loving

I've been burning through Sand + Fog candles pretty regularly lately. The seasonal scents are on point, and, I've gotten all of the candles at a discount at our local Marshalls. Currently, I'm burning this Mango & Tangerine scent.

The smaller candle is also by Sand + Fog and is in the scent Crisp White, which is a dead ringer for Clean Cotton, by Yankee Candles. I used to spend a lot on Yankee Candles, but, have found that the Sand + Fog line burns a lot longer and far more evenly, so, buh-bye, Yankee!

What We've Been Up To

Well, Hugh finally retired from his career in law enforcement, following twenty-eight years of dedicated service. There was a super-emotional final sign-off on the radio, a ceremony recognizing his service, and a cake. Not a bad way to go out!

Not long after his retirement, I announced my resignation from Day Job, following almost eight years of employment. While I wish I could say I was retiring, I am, instead, starting a new job at the beginning of February. Leaving Day Job was bittersweet, but, I have to admit that it felt good to look over my shoulder as the office door closed on that particular job.

Buh-bye shared office space; your lack of natural light was soul sucking

As I said earlier; this month, the Man-Cub returned to Hawaii for the second semester of his Junior year. I am so proud of how well he is doing! And, yes, it's really hard to let him go every time, but, he's rocking this tropical island thing, so, I know it's not at all hard for him. And I totally (mostly) forgive him for that.

This past weekend, I got to spend a day with Queen B. We had lunch and did some shopping, finding the perfect mug for her kitchen along the way...

...I love that kid, and, always enjoy hanging out with her.

What I'm Dreading

I don't really have dread...stress, I got, dread, not so much.

What I'm Working On

I've been slowly working on weeding out my closets and drawers. I have quite a few articles of clothing that I no longer wear, and, I am hoping to host a Naked Lady Party at some point this spring (when the weather is finally nice enough to host on the porch). What is a Naked Lady Party, you may ask. It's a get-together wherein a group of people-generally women, although, not naked-get together to swap items of clothing that they no longer want. Items can include accessories, jewelry, shoes, etc., so, it's a total closet clean-out if done right. I've never actually hosted one, or, attended one for that matter, but, I think I can figure it out. Stay tuned.

What I'm Excited About

I'm pretty excited about starting my new job. I'm also a wee bit terrified. I think that's normal, given the situation. Anyhoodle, I'm going to make the very best of it, do my best, and, expect the best from the people I will be supervising. I'm also kind of excited to put my personal touch on my new office; it's in a sad state currently, but, I have a vision!

 Coming soon: new paint, new rug, new chairs, new furniture...

What I'm Watching

My Love/Hate relationship with Netflix continues. This month, I love it, mainly because they released the first season of The Witcher, but, also because they have already announced the next two seasons.

This show combines three of my favorite elements: fantasy/action/Henry Cavill.


Because, yum.

I also really enjoyed the first season of Spinning Out.

At first glance, you might think that it's yet another retelling of the standard bitchy female figure skater meets bad boy former hockey player turned figure skater story, ala The Cutting Edge (One or Two). But, you would be wrong. Instead, it focuses less on the skating and romance (although, there's that) and more on the struggle that the main character encounters in dealing with the daily struggle of bi-polar disorder. So, it's love and mental illness on ice. And it's good.

I also binge-watched the first two seasons of Lost in Space. I was late to this party, mostly because I have fond memories of the original (super low-budget and totally cheesy) series playing in reruns on my television set each morning as I got ready for college classes. I have to say, though, the re-imagining of the original content is super well done. Looking forward to season three, for sure.

Netflix isn't the only outlet that has delivered recently; I'm also enjoying our local PBS station, particularly for its retelling of Jane Austen's Sanditon.

The novel itself was unfinished by Ms. Austen; she completed only twelve chapters before succumbing to the illness that would eventually claim her life (Addison's Disease or Hodgekin's Lymphoma, depending on which historical scholar you believe). So, it will be interesting to see where the producers take the story once the original material is exhausted. Austen is one of my favorite authors, so, my expectations are high. Hope I'm not disappointed.

What I'm Reading

I haven't had a lot of time for reading, what with the whole blowing up my life with change journey that I have been on, but, the two books I did manage to read were both really, really enjoyable. In totally different ways.

Up first: The Bad Mother's Book Club.

From Amazon: Meet Emma, the new Mum on the block. Since moving to the Liverpudlian seaside after her husband's career change, her life consists of the following: long walks on the beach (with the dog), early nights (with the kids) and Netflix (no chill).
Bored and lonely, when Emma is cordially invited to the exclusive cool school-mums' book club, she thinks her luck may finally be about to change. But she soon finds the women of the club aren't quite what they seem - and after an unfortunate incident involving red wine and a white carpet, she finds herself unceremoniously kicked out.
The answer? Start her own book club - for bad mothers who just want to drink wine and share stories. But will this town let two book clubs exist? Or is there only room for one queen of the school gates...?

Followed by The Last Thing She Ever Did.

From Amazon: The community along Oregon’s Deschutes River is one of successful careers and perfect families. For years, up-and-comers Liz and Owen have admired their good friends and neighbors, Carole and David. They appear to have it all—security, happiness, and a beautiful young son, Charlie.
Then Charlie vanishes without a trace, and all that seemed safe is shattered by a tragedy that is incomprehensible—except to Liz.
It took one fleeting moment for her to change the lives of everyone she loves—a heartrending accident that can’t be undone. Neither can the second-worst mistake of her life: concealing it. As two marriages crack and buckle in grief and fear, Liz retreats into her own dark place of guilt, escalating paranoia—and betrayals even she can’t imagine. Because there’s another good neighbor who has his own secrets, his own pain, and his own reasons for watching Liz’s every move.
And only he knows that the mystery of the missing boy on the Deschutes River is far from over.

What I'm Listening To

Not to be all melodramatic or anything, but I'm currently focusing on listening to the voice inside my head that is most attuned to positive-speak. Positive affirmations are going to be my jam going into this new job.

What I'm Wearing

Fat pants. Still rockin' the fat pants (post holiday diet and exercise plan is clearly on point).

What I'm Doing This Weekend

With any luck, I will be painting my new office, but, if that doesn't pan out, I'll be soaking up the last possible minute of rest and relaxation and savoring the calm before the storm.***

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

Is it pathetic to say that I am looking forward to it being one month closer to spring? Because, that's totally what I'm looking forward to.

What Else Is New

I think I've just about covered it. For now, anyway; I did say that my word for 2020 is Transformation, though, so....

stay tuned.

***Sad edit to this post: The funeral for my childhood friend has been scheduled for Saturday, so, I will travel to Mayberry on Friday. And that's how I'll be spending this weekend.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Realllly Trying to Take Advantage of Unemployment Here

I'm in a weird no-man's land between jobs currently, and, while most people would be taking full advantage of this gift of free time by resting, relaxing, and enjoying the downtime; I am squandering it on stress, worry, and dread. Go, me.

In my defense, I only quit one of my jobs; I'm still expected to show up for my duties at the hardware store. That alone is fueling at least 70% of the stress, right there. The other 30% comes courtesy of the new information that I am slowly accumulating about New Job, specifically about the shit that I  am required to clean up prior to even starting. I'll manage it, and, at some point in the distant future, I believe I will be rocking it, but, in this moment, angst. Lots and lots of angst.

Add to this the usual low-grade, always in the background, totally manageable and normal undercurrent of daily stress, and, yes; recipe for disaster. If I give in.

I'm...not willing to surrender.

Instead, I'll put my head down, take a deep, centering breath, and focus on one thing at a time. Because, that is the best that I can do.

On a much brighter note, I got to spend the day with Queen B yesterday! We did some shopping, meandered about in a huge antique store for a bit, enjoyed a good meal together, and, talked about our expectations for the trip that we are planning to take to Greece later in the year. It was a good way to spend the day, and, it must be noted that I did 99% less stressing, worrying, or, allowing dread to seep into my heart while we were together.

Clearly, I need to schedule more leisure time into this week of "leisure".

Queen Bee mug for the Queen B!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Recipes From the Porch: 5 Grain Bread

It's been a hot minute since I posted a recipe. Actually, it's been a hot minute since I spent much time in the kitchen at all; the stress of job change, life change, THE Change, etc., have smothered any motivation I have had to cook or bake. I'm working on improving that shituation (and, no, that is not a misspelling; it's been a shituation for sure).

So, today, I bring you a recipe for a hearty bread, made in a bread machine. Remember bread machines? They were all the rage back in the nineties. It just so happens that I still own one, and, there was only a quarter inch or so of dust on it when I retrieved it from the inner-most recesses of my cabinet a few weeks ago.

The recipe for the bread originated on Pinterest, but, it took a few tries and some tweaking before it worked in my machine, at my altitude, with my ingredients, etc., so, if you try it and it doesn't work out (mine would rise, and then collapse during baking. It was still really tasty, just not at all pretty); make sure your yeast is alive, then, try tweaking the amount of liquid. Anyhoodle, on to the recipe!

The ingredients:

1 1/4 cup water, at room temperature
2 Tbsp oil (I used regular old vegetable oil)
1/4 cup honey (local is best!)
1 1/2 Cup bread flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup 5 grain hot cereal (I used Bob's Red Mill, which I found in our local organic market)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp yeast (I use the yeast made specifically for bread machines, and, a tip: if you've refrigerated an open jar, bring the yeast to room temperature before using)

Place the ingredients in your machine, according to the recommendations of the manufacturer (located in the manual that came with your machine. You know, assuming you kept it, and, can actually locate it. If not, Google search is about to become your best friend).

My machine requires the liquids to be added first, followed by the dry ingredients, with the yeast being the final component added. My machine also recommends that I use a rubber spatula to smooth the dry ingredients completely over the liquids, spreading all the way to the sides of the pan, all the way around.

For baking the bread, again, follow the recommendations for your specific machine. Mine allows me to choose a wheat bread option and to control the darkness of the crust.

Once the bread machine has completed its cycle, remove the bread and allow it to cool.

Just kidding! Slice into that bad boy and enjoy a nice, warm slab with a generous smear of sweet cream butter. If that's your jam. Or, hey! Use jam! If that's your jam.

And, there it is! Easy peasy,lemon breezy!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Bestest Friday Favorites, EVER

Favorite view of the day...

...that would be the office at Day Job, minus me.

At 11:59 am today, I walked out the door for the last time. Well, probably not the last, last time, since I'll possibly be returning to attend community meetings in my new role at some point, but, definitely for the last time as an employee of the organization.

At 12:02 pm, I walked into New Day Job, where I saw my office for the first time. It...has potential.

Hugh has already volunteered to paint, and, I have plenty of decorative items that I can use in the space (including chairs far cuter than the atrocities currently in residence), so; it should come together in no time. I do have some concerns about the current desk situation, but, have been assured that I am free to purchase whatever office furniture I need, so, a shopping trip for a new desk is high on my list of priorities, once I officially begin my duties (February 3rd!).

All in all, not a bad way to end the week (I'll be ending the day with wine, but, that goes without saying, I mean, am I right? I'm right).

Thursday, January 23, 2020

You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me

I've been a loyal FabFitFun customer for several years now, and, I'd rather walk on my own tongue than speak unkindly about a company whose service I enjoy, but, today I feel the need to throw just the teensy-tiniest bit of shade.

If you know FabFitFun, you know that they offer add-ons in addition to the regular merchandise that is included in each box; add-ons are purchased separately and ship earlier than the seasonal boxes.

When the opportunity to purchase add-ons came around this season, I took advantage of the sale prices and purchased one item; the package arrived today and...well...

I mean, on the one hand, good for them for recycling and reusing old boxes. On the other hand...

What the actual fuck, FabFitFun?

I almost feel like I should send the box back with nothing but a sternly worded letter, but, then I would just be contributing to the madness, and, we can't have that.

On the bright side, the brush is cool.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Even Good Change is Hard, Y'all

I spent the majority of this past week tidying up loose ends at Day Job; this included telling partners, co-workers, and corporate staff that I was leaving. The news elicited mixed reactions, ranging from genuine excitement for me to barely contained anger. The angry people don't affect me; they are high on the list of reasons why I accepted my new position in the first place, and, the people who are happy for me are, in a lot of cases, people that I will continue to interact with in my new job. The reactions, across the board, are further proof that it was well past time for me to reach higher.

This week, I am planning to tie up the more mundane, yet necessary, items on my list, including the insurance paperwork that will need to be in place in order for my family to avoid even a short period without coverage. I am debating making an appointment under my current coverage for yet another thyroid test, as things are off, and, the last two times I have experienced the same symptoms, I was in need of a medication adjustment. Of course, the heightened anxiety could be something as simple as the stress of this transition, but, I'd rather know for sure.

There are other areas in my life that are overdue for an overhaul, and, I'm putting a lot of thought into what that needs to look like, but, for now, I think I'm handling just about as much as I can.

In other news, Hugh's retirement was officially recognized by the Petticoat Junction Town Board last week. He got a cake, a new badge (which will allow him to continue to carry a concealed weapon), a standing ovation, and a framed certificate. It was a very nice send-off.

Further proof that, while change is hard, it can also be quite sweet.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

New Year, New Decade, New Job

I quit my job yesterday.

Whew. That feels really good to say out loud.

I have accepted a new position with an organization in Hooterville, and, will begin my new duties at the beginning of February. I am equal parts excited, relieved, and terrified, which, is a pretty potent combination, but, one that I can live with.

I'll miss certain aspects of Day Job (soon to be known as OLD Day Job), and I'll certainly miss a lot of my coworkers and community partners, but, overall, New Day Job is going to be a much better fit for where I am in my life at this point in time.

So, more to follow, once I have a moment to fully wrap my head around all the change that is to follow.

Hey, I said my word for 2020 was Transformation, and, that means change, so....yeah. Onward and upward!

Monday, January 13, 2020

What's a Little White Lie Between Friends

Saturday evening, Jana joined me on the couch for a little catching up, because, although we had seen each other at the beginning of the week, it's always hard to get fully caught up when we're trying to also have conversations with the other people around us.

So, an evening together called for wine, a small charcuterie board, comfy clothing, and a cheesy 80's movie playing in the background.

On that charcuterie board was a new type of cheese that I really enjoy and was hoping to sell Jana on. Unfortunately, it was a goat cheese, which, Jana typically despises. So, being the awesome friend that I am, I simply left out that part when espousing the merits of a cheese that tastes like caramel. Seriously! It's a mild goat cheese the exact same color as caramel, with the flavor to match! It's ridiculously good with slices of sharp apple, and, I was certain that she would love it.

Spoiler: She did not love it.

But! She didn't hate it, so, progress!

Of course, she'll probably never trust me to hand her a piece of new cheese again, but, I'm 99.99% positive that we can eventually rebuild that trust. In time.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Week That Was

I officially made it through the first full work week since last year! That deserves a celebration, and, it just may include wine.

Of course, it wasn't all work; I had my share of fun, too, including  framily dinner with Chris, Jana, Oscar, and Emily on Tuesday night. Everyone wanted a chance to see the Cub one last time before he departed for Hawaii, and, a Mexican feast seemed like just the ticket.

The Cub order the seafood molcajete, the size of which, took him by surprise when it arrived. He didn't come anywhere near finishing it, but the doggy bag was totally worth the look on his face when he saw it for the first time.

The rest of us ordered more reasonable portions, but, even then, there was more than enough food to satisfy, including the awesome chicken fajitas that I had.

Wednesday night, Hugh, the Cub, and I went to see Jumanji 2 as our last activity together before the Cub returned to school, which, he did; flying out Thursday morning. It never gets easier to watch him walk through those security gates, but, I am so, so proud of how well he is doing at school.

I'm planning to spend the weekend catching up on household chores, as well as on year-end work at the hardware store. I'm also going to be napping at some point, because, this week has done kicked my ass.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Mutual of Omaha Presents...

The past few years, around this time, a hawk has visited my backyard. Queen B was the first to spot him two years ago, and, the Man-Cub spied him while home on Christmas break last year, so, when I pulled out of the garage yesterday, I wasn't terribly surprised to see him on the driveway.

Since I managed to catch photos of him each of his previous visits, I figured I better do so again this year, so, I rolled down my window, inched a bit closer, and, started shooting with my phone.

As I got closer, I realized that he was pecking at something on the ground, and, I assumed it was something pretty good since he didn't fly off.

Oh, it was good, all right.

When I got close enough to identify it, I realized that the hawk was pecking at what was left of one of my resident mourning doves.

That rat bastard ATE one of my doves. One of my sweet, cooing, never-hurt-anyone feathered friends. What kind of monster does that (if you just answered "A bird of prey, Chelle", you are dead to me. Dead.)?!

If I'd wanted to watch an episode of Wild Kingdom, I'd jump in my time machine and flash back to a Sunday night in 1976, grab a TV tray and a Swansons chicken dinner and have at it. But, even then, I'd just be killing time until The Wonderful World of Disney came on, I mean, honestly! I don't like watching the food chain in action, never have, never will, and; I certainly didn't need to see it play out with one of my imaginary pets as the victim.

I'm scarred, y'all. Scarred.

Please ignore the serial-killeresque quality of the handwriting in the above picture; 
I was distracted by my trauma

Monday, January 06, 2020

So Far This Year...

...yes, the year is a whopping five days old, but, here's what we've been up to...

 I got started on the de-Christmasing of the house on the 1st, managing to get all of the indoor decorations boxed up and ready for storage in the attic (they are, however, currently sitting in the living room upstairs because lazy).

Yesterday, we got the outdoor decorations taken down and boxed up and they, too, are awaiting a trip up a ladder (see above: Lazy); we are, therefore, 100% undecorated.

While Hugh and I were slaving over the decorations, the Man-Cub was living his best life-skiing in Aspen with the rest of the Fearsome Foursome, who, haven't all been together since graduation. This makes my momma heart very happy and he was totally forgiven for abandoning us to our toil.

Once the house was put back in order, I got right down to relaxing and enjoying the less cluttered atmosphere; I wasn't alone...

...the relaxation led to the best night of sleep that I have had all year (all five days of it...); I hope it's a taste of more to come.

What else is new? How about an new engagement? Kaley's young man put a ring on it! They are planning a winter wedding either late this year or early next year and I have already put dibs on throwing her bridal shower. I'm so excited!

Also, these two kids got to spend a little time together, which is awesome and also warms my momma heart.

The Cub returns to Hawaii later this week, and I am trying not to think about it. And, that's about it so far in 2020...all five days of it.