Wednesday, January 27, 2021

What's Up Wednesday: January 2021 Edition


It's the first What's Up Wednesday of the new year, which, means I that am again linking up with Sheaffer and Shay for a quick peek into the goings on in these parts.

What I'm Eating

Happily, I can say that I am eating 50% less sugar than last month. Sadly, I am eating 50% less sugar because my Christmas cookie supply has been almost completely depleted. Take heart; Girl Scout Cookie Season will soon be upon us!

What I'm Reminiscing About

I'm not really reminiscing about anything, currently.

What I'm Loving

I  have officially become a crazy cat lady; I offer the following as evidence:

I can't help it! He's so freaking cute.

What I've Been Up To

Hugh and I finally managed to get the outside Christmas decorations taken down and stowed away for another another ten months or so. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is the absolute longest that our decorations have ever been allowed to linger following the holidays. I'm also not exaggerating when I say that this is a fact that distressed me not in the slightest.

What I'm Working On

January has been a nose to the grindstone kind of month for me. I have been busy with grant reports at New Job, QuickBook entry for the hardware store, editing the pictures from Kaley's wedding, and trying to keep up with my goal of practicing self care. Spoiler: I have sucked at the self care. Maybe next month.

Anyhoodle, the reports were all submitted on time, The Year That Shall Not Be Named is on QuickBooks, and the photos are some of my best work.

What I'm Dreading

Just when I think this season of my life can't get any more uncomfortable, I come across this:

I'm no fan of these God-awful hot flashes, but, what comes after them would appear to be even less desirable. Menopause is fun! Said no woman, ever.

What I'm Excited About

The Man-Cub submitted his official Petition to Graduate. Graduation is still two semesters away, but, at least I can look forward to a trip to Hawaii for the ceremony.

Also, Queen B is officially moving to the great state of Texas. I'm going to miss her like a limb, but, I am so excited for her to discover what life has in store for her next. I have great faith that it will be an amazing adventure for her. And, she won't be alone; the Rodeo Princess is moving with her. 

Texas isn't going to know what hit it.

What I'm Watching

After binge watching Bridgerton twice since December, I decided to try another historical series based on a series of novels, and, I'm not mad about it. The series in question is Poldark, and I am enjoying it quite a bit. I am currently on Season 3 and expect to finish all 5 seasons in record time.

I am also watching the second season of A Discovery of Witches, and, while it isn't technically a period piece, this season does feature a historical twist.

It's ironic that the last series that I am watching is also based on a book; the latest iteration of Stephen King's The Stand, which, is perhaps better than the earlier screen adaptation, although, I do miss Molly Ringwald.

What I'm Reading

In a surprising reversal of my usual habit of watching a show after I have read the books; I am now reading the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn . They are light, easy to read, ridiculously vapid and I am enjoying them very much. If I am being honest, the fact that I am reading is of more importance to me than the actual content of the books.

What I'm Listening To

The Eagles Greatest Hits Volume 2, on vinyl. Gotta love the classics.

What I'm Wearing

I have adopted an evening/weekend uniform consisting of fleece-lined leggings, tank top, cozy cardigan, and fuzzy socks. Life would be perfect if only I could wear it to work as well. 

What I'm Doing This Weekend

My life is so exciting; sleeping in has become the most pleasurable of my activities. But I'm not kidding when I say that I am really looking forward to the rest.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

I'm planning to spend as much time with Queen B as I can before she departs for Texas. It is also the month that she turns 25, so a celebration  must be planned. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Sit Rep

 That's shorthand for situation report, in case you don't have a healthy dose of military speak in your vocabulary. I don't, either, actually, but, sit rep I understand.

Anyhoodle, it's been over a week since my last post. I really had better expectations of myself this year, but, 2021 is proving no less fraught than it's predecessor, so, I may have to reevaluate my capacity here.

What has transpired in the past week? Quite a bit, actually; commence bullet list, now.

- Queen B and the Rodeo Princess have officially started the process of relocating to the great state of Texas. They have an apartment lease that starts in March. Queen B is in the process of selling her excess possessions and Hugh and I are listing the house in Neighboring City. 

-The Man-Cub is back in classes. One of his courses takes place on the research vessel owned by the school. In order to be on the vessel for his classes, the Cub has to test for Covid weekly. He is as thrilled as you might imagine.

-I have manged to get the first six months of The Year That Shall Not be Named onto QuickBooks. It's going fairly well, but it is exhausting and time consuming.

-I finally got the Christmas boxes into the attic, with the exception of the largest, heaviest box; Hugh can deal with that at his leisure (so, next year sometime, I presume). The outdoor decorations are still partially up, so that will be a chore for this weekend.

Thus endeth this report.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

We Pushing!

 Sunday afternoon, I got called into New Job for yet another emergency. When I left the house, I noted that Lola was low on gas, and, I had every intention of filling her tank when I finished up at work. Once I was finished dealing with the incident that called me out, I was apparently too distracted to remember to pull into the gas station, so, yesterday morning, I reminded myself to get gas at lunch.

Thanks to a particularly stressful day, I once again forgot about the gas situation, until, Lola reminded me as I was sitting in the drive-through at the bank.

Unfortunately, her warning came too late and, as I pulled onto the highway to head to my usual gas station, she completely gave up the ghost and stalled. Not gonna lie, I panicked.

Luckily, there is a gas station right next to my bank, so I was at least pointed in the right direction, so, I threw Lola into neutral and tried to both push and steer, which, as you may imagine, was not exactly easy given Lola's size and my relative weakness.

Almost immediately, however, a large, burly man came to my aid, running to the back of the Tahoe to push. Not a second later, another gentleman came over from the pumps to help. Then, a lovely woman came out of the gas station and said "We pushing!" before jumping right in.

It wasn't a question. It was a statement of fact, delivered in the cheeriest voice that I heard all day.

My trio of saviors got me pushed up to the pumps and disappeared just as quickly as they had arrived and I was left with the knowledge that there are still such good people in the world. People who are willing to help a stranger without question. 

It was a badly needed realization and I was, and am, grateful for it.

Also noted: Lola is a prissy bitch who clearly requires immediate attention when she demands it.

Good to know.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Recipes From the Porch: Butternut Squash Veggie Lasagna

 I love all things butternut, and, when I discovered this butternut pasta sauce at the market in Hooterville this fall, I knew I had a new favorite. 

Unfortunately, I've since discovered that it is only infrequently stocked, so, I have had to grab as many jars as I can afford when I am able. Of course, the other unfortunate things is the price of the sauce; it's hella pricey. So, I am determined to recreate it at home some day. In the meantime, when I do have the sauce on hand, I am making this lasagna as often as I can.

It. Is. Amazing.

The Ingredients:

1 jar Dave's Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce (you can buy it online for even more $$$$)

1 large zucchini 

kosher salt and cracked pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

8 oz. white mushrooms, chopped

1 package no boil lasagna noodles

1 lb. ground turkey

2 tbsp. fresh sage, minced

15 oz. ricotta cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup bread crumbs


Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Lay on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and allow zucchini to "sweat". Blot liquid off with paper towels, flip over, repeat on second side.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pot, add mushrooms, onions, and garlic, cook until tender. Remove and set aside.

In the same pot, brown turkey, adding salt and pepper to taste. When meat is done browning, add pasta sauce and chopped sage. Heat through.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray and assemble lasagna: meat sauce, ricotta, lasagna noodles, zucchini slices, veggie mix, repeat.

Top final layer with mozzarella cheese and breadcrumbs, cover tightly with foil. bake for 45 minutes, remove foil, bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, until mozzarella cheese is slightly caramelized.

Slice and enjoy. I like to pair mine with white wine, either Pinot Grigio or a nice buttery Chardonnay.

It's delicious and actually fairly healthy, which, is a priority for me this year considering the damage that was done to my waistline in The Year That Shall Not Be Named.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

2021 Status Report

 We've got the first week of 2021 under our belt. How did it play out? Let's see..

On a personal level, I accomplished each of my daily goals at New Job, including the submission of four out of seven grant reports. I managed to make it to the gym five days out of the week. I quit the sugar and never totally fell off the wagon (I may have dangled a foot over the edge, not gonna lie). I've managed to have a good attitude and positive outlook 90% of the time.

All good things.

On a national level, we continued to witness people behaving badly, bullshit-level hypocrisy, and incidents that provided further evidence of an irretrievably broken political process and the death of true journalism, despite what the paid spokespeople in the media continue to tell us.

So, basically 2021 told 2020 to hold its beer. 

Now, I don't have a lot of goals for 2021, but, being more positive happens to be one of them, so; moving on.

What's been positive so far in 2021?

I've spent time with the Man-Cub, so, while he will be flying back to Hawaii tomorrow morning; I'll have many great memories to tide us over until I have him home again.

Last night, we went out for his going-away dinner and he ordered a drink based on the picture on the menu.

The drink looked significantly different in reality, but, was tasty, nonetheless.

In other good news; I scored these Beco choir singers on Mercari and they are just too precious. They will join the three other choir members that Hugh found for me this year in storage and I will look forward to seeing them all again next Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, I have yet to take down my decorations. This is the absolute longest period of time that my decorations have been on display and I'm not mad about it. However, with a little luck and a lot of motivation, they will be coming down today.

Actually, I should probably get started on that.

Thus endeth this report.

Monday, January 04, 2021

First Day Back at Work and I Didn't Fall Off the Wagon

 I returned to New Job today, following a week away, with blessedly little contact; cheers to being on call during the holidays and not getting dragged in for an emergency! I needed the break, and, when I went back today I felt slightly less stressed; I'm giving the credit to my return to selfish endeavors, thankyouverymuch.

Speaking of those selfish endeavors; I have been to the gym three times this year, and, I haven't missed  my goal of taking 10,000 steps once. I've eaten healthy meals, avoided sugar, downed water like it's my job, and I scheduled an appointment with the dermatologist for a consult on my face. The Girls keep telling me that photofacials are the way to go, but I figured I should confirm that with a professional before I started booking expensive treatments.


That whole Self Care/Self-Care thing is going pretty well, so far.

Also going well is the editing of the 2,000-some photos that the Man-Cub and I took of the wedding. These are some of my favorite shots thus far:

I have only completed a fraction of the editing, but, am hopeful that I will have a gallery ready for delivery before the month is out. 

Other duties taking up my time currently include installing QuickBooks on the computer at the hardware store and attempting to get all of 2020 entered, also by the end of the month, thankyouverymuch, CYMA crash of 2020.

Once all of the pictures are delivered, the bookwork is complete, I finally manage to take down all of my Christmas decorations, and I successfully submit approximately ten grant reports at New Job, I am totally scheduling a personal day.

Rocking my goals!

Sunday, January 03, 2021

2021:Day Three and, So Far, I Don't Hate You

 When last we spoke, I shared my Word of the Year, and, as you may recall, that word is Self Care. And, yes, I realize that is two words.


There. Better?

Anyhoodle, in recognition of that word, or words, if you fail to recognize the transformative power of the hyphen; on Friday, I gave up sugar. And, so far this year, I have met my goal of taking 10,000 steps a day. Clearly, I am on my way.

On an equally positive note, I got the majority of Friday's 10,000 steps while in the company of good friends, doing something I love; I spent the day photographing Kaley's wedding.

It was a beautiful day for it and, in addition to capturing some truly amazing photos for the happy couple; I captured moments between lifelong friends who have been there for each other through thick and thin.

When Kaley threw her bouquet, it got caught in the lights strung over the dance floor, resulting in a loud electrical pop as bulbs shattered and the strand swung between Kaley and the single ladies. The bouquet landed on the ground, so Queen B picked it up. Kaley was so excited to see her with it and then laughed hysterically when Queen B said "No way in hell! You're doing this over!" Which, she did, resulting in the seven year old flower girl making the official catch. I hope she takes her time finding her Mr. Right.

At one point in the evening, Jana gave me a long, tight hug. When we pulled apart, we didn't have to say a single thing; twenty-two years of friendship speaks in volumes. And, isn't my friend beautiful?

At the end of the evening, Queen B, the Man-Cub, Hugh and I were the last few people at the venue, helping Chris, Jana, and Granny to clean the reception hall and chapel. Granny kept thanking us over and over again, which, was completely unnecessary; we have spent New Year's Day together for the better part of the past two decades. No way we were going to miss it this year and a wedding is a damn good way to celebrate.

So, 2021, you are, thus far, not the worst. I may just have to raise the bar on my expectations of you.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Hello 2021; I am Giving You the Side Eye, So You Best Behave

I've only chosen a word of the year a handful of times over the last decade and; I wasn't very good at observing them for an entire year when I did.

This year, I am determined to change that. Not only am I choosing a word, I'm choosing two. And, I fully intend to live by them for the entire year.

Those words?

Self Care.

I have been the absolute worst to myself for the past twelve months (probably even longer than that, truth be told). I have eaten poorly, chosen not to exercise, denied myself  things that bring me pleasure, and, frankly; leaned heavily into the negative, rather than searching out the positive.

My body tells the tale of those choices. I am in pain. My joints are inflamed, I have had more migraine headaches this year than in any year past, I have gained a ridiculous amount of weight. I lack balance and flexibility, have no stamina, sleep poorly, and my hair is both dry and thinning.

My mental health has likewise tanked. I feel bad about myself, am constantly anxious, frequently hopeless, and more easily irritated than I am accustomed to being.

I believe that I can get a grip on all of these issues, but, it's going to require a concerted, dedicated, and intentional effort in order to do so and that begins with showing myself some love.

So. Self Care. What does that look like?

Better diet, starting with a cold-turkey approach to giving up sugar again.

More exercise. Back to daily walking, stretching, yoga, etc.

Mindfulness, including meditation, relaxation, and positive self-talk.

Pampering, massages, facials, long baths, pedicures, etc.

It's selfish, I know, but; I am no use to anyone when I am this damaged. It's time to pull myself together so that I can be better for myself and for the people I love.

So, 2021, what do you say? Can you spare me the space to take care of myself? Whether you can or not, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

And this girl's gotta focus on herself.