Monday, January 30, 2023

Let's Get Baked (No, Not Like THAT)

This weekend, I really only had two goals: bake heart-shaped sugar cookies for Valentines Day, and bake a couple of loaves of bread. I succeeded in both regards, despite having a killer sinus headache. So, my weekend was a win.

I also got to eat the green chili mac 'n' cheese that I've been craving, along with a Chicken Bacon Ranch sandwich. Unfortunately, the wicked sinus headache must have interfered with my tastebuds, because neither item tasted nearly as good to me as they did the first time I had them at this particular restaurant. I'll definitely have to give it another go once I am recovered.   

The cookies I made were from my go-to sugar cookie recipe and, while I'm not one to sample the dough before it is baked; I am told that it was delicious. Who told me, you ask? The Man-Cub, who made  a beeline for the house as soon as he heard I was baking them. The child has always loved to be by my side as I roll out the dough and cut the cookies and it does my heart good to know that this habit has not changed with adulthood.

I am on my second attempt at sourdough starter, having tossed the original batch when I noticed mold forming on the surface. The second batch is actually doing quite well (fingers crossed that I didn't just jinx myself), but it wasn't quite ready to bake with yet, so I went with a recipe that called for yeast, instead.

I think it turned out pretty well. It probably could have used a wee bit more time in the oven, for a darker, crispier crust, but, overall, it was a winner.

I practiced my scoring technique on the bread and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Once I get a good loaf of sourdough proofed and ready to bake, I will be less intimidated by my new lame.

I am still nursing the sinus headache today, but am at work. I don't know if I'll make it through the whole day, but, if I don't; I've got bread and honey to look forward to. I can think of worse things.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What's Up Wednesday, January 2023 Edition


It's the first What's Up Wednesday of 2023. Thanks to Sheaffer and Shay for bringing us this fun link-up, otherwise who knows when I would manage another post? Empty Nesting: Not for those who love excitement, apparently.

And, on to the prompts!

What I'm Eating
This week, I have been dining on a lovely smorgasboard of random items, cobbled together from the contents of my pantry and freezer in an attempt to winnow down the ridiculous amount of crap contained in each. It's been an adventure! Also, it's amazing what one can do with a couple of cans of cream soup, canned chicken, egg noodles, and a dump-and-go recipe from Facebook.

What I'm Reminiscing About

I am several months into my gray hair journey. It's not as awful as I feared, but that doesn't mean that I don't fondly recall my days as a brunette. I do. Those were the days.

What I'm Loving

I recently purchased a sauna package at a local spa and I am really loving the time I spend in the heat. The package includes access to a cold plunge tub, and, while I haven't quite gotten up the courage to try it, I am intrigued. Maybe this week.

The sauna goes a long way in helping me to forget that we are in the deepest, darkest, coldest days of winter; these faux tulips that I picked up at Marshall's go a long way in creating the illusion of an early Spring.

Oh! Included in the  picture above is another set of four  Kate Spade champagne glasses; this brings my collection of the polka-dotted glasses to twelve, which completes my set. It's the little things in life that bring me pleasure.

What I've Been Up To

I attempted to start my own sourdough starter and have so far failed, miserably. I don't know why it is so hard for me to master such a simple concept, but, apparently, the universe does not intend for me to bake fresh sourdough. I'll soldier on because I'm no quitter.

What I'm Working On

I've been working toward my goal of household organization and have thus far cleaned and organized the kitchen junk drawer, fridge, freezer, and pantry (see above: recipes cobbled together with canned items juuuuuust shy of their expiration dates).

What I'm Dreading

I'm not currently allowing myself to dread a single thing. It's a mindset that I've adopted and I'm actually shocked that it's working.

What I'm Excited About

Queen B got a new job! Her new position will not require that she work nights or weekends, which means she will finally have some time for herself. I'm very excited for her!

What I'm Watching

When I got the free trial of HBO Max in December, my intention was to cancel after watching the Christmas Story sequel, but, then I got sucked into the dark world of Euphoria, and, then, I binge-watched The White Lotus.  Now I'm thinking that I just need to suck it up and keep paying the $5.00 a month just in case there's something else that I shouldn't miss. Also, if you haven't watched The White Lotus, you're missing out. It'll give you a whole new appreciation for Stifler's mom.

What I'm Reading/Listening To

Since I've been sitting in the sauna for thirty minutes every Friday evening, I have started reading Magic Lessons, by Alice Hoffman. This is the first book in a three-part series that are a prequel to her Practical Magic series, which I read several years ago. So far, I am enjoying it.

What I'm Wearing

I'm making an effort to break my habit of wearing neutrals, black, and white. I used to wear a lot more color, patterns, and textures and I've been missing that. Unfortunately, my closet is overflowing with neutrals, black, and white, which means that I may need to do some shopping soon. This goes completely counter to my goal of downsizing, decluttering, and simplifying. It's a conundrum.

What I'm Doing This Weekend

Well, if my sourdough starter finally decides to get with the program, I hope to be baking bread. I'm also planning to take the Newlyweds out to lunch, to celebrate Erin's recent birthday. We are going to a restaurant in Pixler that serves the most mouthwatering green chili mac'n'cheese. My mouth literally watered, just typing that. Not even kidding.

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month

Queen B will be flying home for a long weekend to celebrate her God daughter's second birthday. She'll arrive the day after her own birthday, which means that we will get to celebrate her, as well. 

Favorite Amazon Find

I recently ordered Limoncello Wallflower refills and two new Wallflowers (three, if you count the one that I put in Queen B's latest care package). The Wallflowers are adorable and I love the Limoncello scent, but the packaging is what really threw the order into a totally new stratosphere, I mean, this box! Can you even?


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Three Days Later...

The long weekend was just what I needed. and I am ready to tackle the next four days at Not So New Job; it's already scheduled with back-to-back interviews, meetings, Zoom calls, and other crap, so it will be a busy one. I'll definitely be looking back on the weekend and pushing forward toward the next.

As an aside, I read a quote recently that said something along the lines of using your weekends to build the life you want, rather than using it to escape from the life you have, and that resonated with me. I don't enjoy my weekends nearly enough. Of course, my typical weekend consists of just one day in which I can make plans for anything relaxing or entertaining, thanks to the hardware store duties, so that creates a challenge.

Anyhoodle, back to what I did with the gift of an extra day this past weekend.

Saturday morning, I had planned to sleep in but was awakened by a text message from Hugh, who was out of town at a wrestling tournament; he was sharing a Ring camera video of Boomer dog in our mudroom attempting to eat the cat food overnight. Joke was on him, because the dish was empty and he got busted for nothing. Also, I could have done without the early wakeup call over said nothing.

Since there was no chance of falling back to sleep, I got up and got busy. If you recall, one of my goals for the new year is to purge and organize my house. I decided to tackle the fridge and kitchen pantry, doing a deep cleaning of both as I went along.

I'm pretty happy with the results. I'm also happy that I only discovered a handful of expired items.

The kitchen project took several hours, after which I ran into Hooterville to pick up a few groceries. The state recently passed a law taxing businesses on both paper and plastic bags. Naturally, the businesses have passed the cost along to the consumer, so I am making a more concerted effort to take my own reusable bags with me when I shop.

I have no issue with doing things that are better for our environment, but I am starting to get a bit salty with the state of Colorado and all of the recent bullshit, money grabbing, taxes and fees that are being imposed on small businesses.

On my way home from Hooterville, I swung by Oscar and Emily's to pick up some paperwork for the hardware store and to drop off a bag of chocolate pizzelle cookies, leftover from Christmas. This was the first time I've attempted chocolate pizzelles and the results were unanimously cheered by my family, including Emily, who barely eats sugar at all.

Before I did that, though, I ran Lola through the carwash to rinse the mag-chloride off the undercarriage. That's a frequent chore in this neck of the woods, where the dirt roads get sprayed down with the chemical in between snow storms. If left unchecked, mag-chloride will eat the metal down, leaving pits in the finish. Hugh would kill me if I let Lola be so blemished.

Back at home, I started a bowl of sourdough starter, because I am determined to bake my own sourdough bread. The closest I have ever come to this was the time I received a starter for Amish Friendship Bread. That experiment ended in failure and tears, but I'm not going to let that deter me.

On Sunday, I spent the majority of the day at the hardware store, finishing up some year-end paperwork, before joining Hugh, the Man-Cub, and Shanti at Mom's house for dinner.

Monday was the bonus day of the weekend and I took advantage of it by visiting a massage therapist for an hour-long reflexology massage. I may be unique in this, but; there is nothing that relaxes me like a good foot massage. 

And, that was it for my long weekend. I think it was mostly time well spent. The fact that the next weekend is only four days away is also something to get excited about, even if I do only get one day.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Friday Favorites

This week was a busy one, and I am looking forward to slowing a down a bit over the next three days. That being said, the first favorite of this post is definitely long holiday weekends, thank you very much, federal government and Dr. King.

My plans for the weekend include sleeping in, resting, relaxing, making a sourdough starter, and generally being a home bound slacker. I might go to the gym, but then again, I might not. Time will tell.

In the meantime, here are a few favorites from the week.

1. Hugh got me this pearl necklace and bracelet for Christmas and I love them.

2. One of my team members got me these tulips for my office and they brightened up the room, considerably.

3. I recently purchased a sauna package at the local spa and tonight was my first time to use it. The sauna is infrared, which is supposed to be good for pain. I don't know about that, but it sure did feel relaxing.

I made an appointment to go back again next Friday after work; I could easily see this becoming the gateway to my weekends, which, by the way, did I mention this is going to be a long one?


Friday, January 06, 2023

They Followed the Star

Today is the Epiphany, which marks the day that the three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem to meet the baby Jesus. A lot of people (my Mom included) wait until after January 6th to take down their Christmas decorations for this reason.

I didn't wait to take mine down, with the exception of these three... Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthasar, otherwise known as the Magi, the Three Kings, and/or the Three Wise Men.

These decorations were made from a mail-order kit by my Mom when I was around eight or nine years old. I have a core memory of climbing down into the empty ditch that ran in front of the local golf course to collect the sand that fills the empty dish detergent bottles that comprise the bodies of each King. We were never allowed to go into the ditch when it wasn't running (it was an irrigation ditch that served local agriculture, so it only ran at certain times during the year), so the mission to gather the sand was a Big Deal.

I also vividly recall Mom hand painting the faces and arms of each King, as well as sewing the garments that each would wear. The materials seemed so luxurious to me, despite being scraps leftover from other projects that Mom had scrounged up.

The jewels on the robes of the Kings were pieces of costume jewelry from Mom's old jewelry box, and the trimming is all scrap pieces of inexpensive rickrack also scavenged from Mom's sewing scraps.

I was in awe of the finished project and looked forward to seeing them come out of their box each Christmas, joining Mom's nativity set on top of my Grandmother's old piano. I loved them so much, Mom gave them to me when we pared down her holiday decorations for her move in October.

This year, they were front and center in my holiday decor and I will cherish them, and the memories they evoke, always.


Tuesday, January 03, 2023

When Is a Resolution Not a Resolution?

When it's a goal, of course!

I am much better at achieving goals than I am at sticking to resolutions, and, this year, I am setting realistic goals to even further improve my chance of success.

Goal #1: De-clutter and organize my home. That's the over-arching goal; to achieve it, I have broken the goal into smaller tasks.

Task #1:  Clean out one room at a time. Trash, sell, or donate items I no longer use, can't fit into, don't absolutely love, etc. I started this already with my Christmas decorations, culling out unused items and organizing the rest into logical order. Future Me is going to be so thankful to Current Me for labeling the contents of each box and bin.

Task #2: Hold a yard sale once the weather warms up.

Task #3: Stop buying needless shit.

Goal #2: Organize my office and workspace at Not So New Job. I actually got a start on this today and I already feel better about the space.

Goal #3: Take better care of my physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This one also requires a set of smaller tasks.

Task #1: Eat better.

Task #2: Move more.

Task #3: Schedule frequent massages.

Task #4: Learn how to mediate. 

Task #5: Practice gratitude.

Task #6: Spend more time with the people who remind me that this life is good.

This list seems like a lot, but, I have an entire year to accomplish everything on it. I believe I can do it.

Ah, there's that word again.

I knew it was the right one.

Monday, January 02, 2023

Better Believe It

I thought long and hard about my word for the year 2023 and I kept coming back to Believe.

I believe that 2023 is going to be a good year.

I believe that the good Lord will give me whatever tools I need to handle whatever comes my way.

I believe that good fortune will smile on us.

I believe in the good in others and I believe that everyone is doing the very best they can.

I believe my children will find happiness and that they will be fully capable of embracing it.

I believe in myself and in my ability to chart my own course.

I believe that it's going to be a good year at Not So New Job and that I will be the leader that I need to be in order to make that so.

I'm sure there will be many, many more examples as the year plays out. It's the right word and the right mindset for a year that ends in my lucky number.

I believe in you, 2023. Let's do this.

Sunday, January 01, 2023

Looks Like We Made It!

For the first time in I don't know how long, Hugh and I made it to midnight on New Year's Eve! I'm taking that as a great sign of things to come in 2023.

We didn't do it on our own; Erin and Miss Ree joined us for an evening of cheese fondue and fun (Kristi was in Florida, visiting her mom and grandmother). The fondue was amazing and I'm calling it right now: fondue will be the charcuterie board of 2023. You heard it here, first.

Anyhoodle, we had originally expected to hang out for just a couple of hours before calling it an early night, but, time really slipped away from us, and the next thing we knew, the ball was dropping. So, we grabbed our noisemakers and confetti poppers and headed out to the back porch, where we welcomed in the New Year as loudly and gleefully as we could manage (to chase away the evil spirits).

Then, just to assure good fortune through the next twelve months; I opened the back door to let the old year out and then opened the front door to welcome the new year in (Irish custom).

This evening, Hugh and I joined Shanti and the Man-Cub and Oscar and Emily at Mom's house, where we ate Mom's traditional New Year's day meal of cheesy potato soup and black eyed peas cooked with bacon. Everyone knows that you have to eat black eyed peas on new year's day, if you are to have good luck throughout the year. I ate an extra hefty portion, because I'm determined to have a good year.

I'm also planning to pour a salt circle around both my house and Not So New Job, because every little bit of customary gesture that ensures good fortune is highly, highly welcome.

Happy New Year, y'all!