Saturday, September 22, 2018

Another Day, Another Care Package

Tomorrow is the Man-Cub's 20th birthday.




This means I will officially have no more teenagers in my care. I am...well, I am equal parts proud of my parenting accomplishment and bummed at the speed in which my children matured. I'm fairly confident that this is the appropriate emotional dichotomy for a parent to find oneself in at this point in life, so, I'm rolling with it.

Anyhoodle, a birthday means a birthday celebration, and, since we can't be there with the Cub (oh, but don't I wish), I took some time to put together a birthday celebration box that he should (fingers crossed) receive today.

In the box:

Oreo Cookies: Birthday Cake Flavor
Fiber One Bars: Birthday Cake Flavor
Little Debbie Birthday Cakes
Cookie Crisp Cereal: Birthday Cake Flavor (are you sensing a theme here?)
Funfetti Cake Mix
Funfetti Frosting
2 Square cake pans (gotta have something to bake that cake in)
Birthday Candles
*Not pictured: Awesome musical birthday cards and a little bit of birthday cash.

I sprinkled the box liberally (and, by liberally, I mean EXCESSIVELY) with birthday confetti and tucked a birthday pop-up centerpiece into the box, so, it should be quite an explosive celebration when he opens it.

This makes three boxes so far this month (I'm relatively confident that I am the only one counting), which, could give the appearance of me favoring the Cub, but, I feel like I spoil Queen B equally, given her close proximity to me and the fact that she can go grocery shopping in my pantry and freezer anytime she's home.

And, speaking of Queen B, I am off to Neighboring City to join her and Katie on a Girl's Day Out. We have pedicures and barn sales and wineries on the agenda and I can't wait!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Favorites: Welcome Fall Edition

The official start of fall is right around the corner and I am more than ready for it! I love, love, love the autumn season! I love the slightly cooler temperatures, the colors, the mellowing of the light (best time of the year for photos, y'all!), the scent of wood smoke in the air during my evening walks, the crunch of leaves under my feet, the promise of pumpkins, butternut squash, and apples at the peak of flavor, not to mention; fall is the harbinger of Halloween.

Fall is my jam.

With the change of seasons comes a general shift in attitude as well. I'm less hurried, more likely to be content with being... still (I don't usually do still very well). I'm also more creative and more focused on tasks that make my home cozy. I'm sure that's probably some deeply ingrained urge, forged from my pioneer ancestors or some such scientific-y thing (not a word, I get it, SpellCheck), but, I embrace it, nonetheless.

Speaking of being creative, earlier this week, I attended a Fun Club event at Day Job; we went to the local ceramics place to paint pottery. This is one of my favorite annual events and, this year, I splurged on two items rather than one...

noodle bowls for the win!

I had a great time with some of my favorite co-workers and I can't wait to see how my his-and-hers bowls turn out once they are fired.

For the record, the symbols on the bowls are the Chinese characters for noodles. You know, according to the internet, and, the internet never lies, right?

While we are on the topic of my creativity, I also changed out my kitchen chalkboard ...

it's not exactly a fall design, but, I like it, anyway.

This weekend, I am planning to do some fun fall-related activities with Queen B and Katie, as well as attending a birthday party for Mama Jill's grandson. I haven't seen Mama Jill in a coon's age and I am really looking forward to our reunion.

In the meantime, I need to get to work, and, later today, Hugh and I are going car shopping. This is not a favorite, but, maybe I will be singing a different tune once I have a new ride? Fingers crossed. One thing I do know; whatever vehicle I end up purchasing has better have a cargo area big enough to haul a load of pumpkins, because, fall starts tomorrow and mama needs to get her jack-o-lanterns on!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

You Know It's Bad When HUGH tells ME Not to Panic

It's a well known fact that, of the two of us, I am the one less likely to freak out when faced with one of life's little challenges. I am the optimist, the one who looks on the bright side and the one who stays calm in the face of adversity, so, when Hugh actually used the phrase "Don't panic" to me earlier today when we dropped my car off at the mechanic, it was quite the role reversal.

As it turns out, it was also poor advice given the fact that my car was basically declared dead on arrival at the shop.



He's a goner.

Ok, maybe not a total goner, but, on his last legs to be certain. Which, if I am being fair, is not exactly unexpected, considering he is twelve years old, has just shy of 200,000 miles on his engine, and has been rode hard and, often, put away wet.

Bless his heart.

Still. This sucks. We are now in the market for his replacement, and, I am not looking forward to the headache. I have thoroughly enjoyed not having a car payment for years now; just the thought of having one gives me the anxiety hives. Plus, what if we can't find something that fits my lifestyle as well as James did?

What? Who's James? My car! Have you not been paying attention, here?

What? You don't name your inanimate objects? Wow. You're weird.

And, I digress.

So, yes, it's time to put James out to pasture and to bring in the rookie, whatever that ends up looking like, and, I'm not supposed to panic.

Ha! As if!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Meanwhile, Back on the Ranch...

I spent the last three days traveling back and forth to Denver for a meeting for Day Job. Wait, I'm home now, so I guess that would be forth and back? Right? No matter; I'm home now.

While I was gone, the garden went into serious bug mode, and, I arrived home to find an aphid invasion on the Brussels sprouts from which I am not certain we will recover. I dosed the plants liberally with neem oil, and now we'll wait and see; it certainly would be a bummer to lose the sprouts this close to harvest.

Speaking of harvest, it's time again to cut more sunflowers and to pick ripe tomatoes; I intend to get to that later today. I also need to do a deep cleaning of the house, which means I need to brave the unwashed masses at the Hellmouth to purchase a new vacuum cleaner. I have noticed that the introduction of a dog (and his hair) back into the household has presented somewhat of a challenge to Rosie Jetson and Alice Nelson (the downstairs and upstairs maids, respectively; and, by maids, I mean the Roombas), and our old vacuum was never quite the same after I used it to vacuum the porch, so, a replacement is required if I am to assist in the eradication of The Hair (yes, I just capitalized that; trust me, it is warranted. So. MUCH. Hair.).

I do intend to retain the old vacuum specifically for use on the porch, however (I literally just felt Hugh roll his eyes).

Also on tap for today:

Decorating the house for fall. I meant to get to this last week, after I transitioned the porch decor, but, I got busy editing the Rodeo Princess's wedding pictures (still not done! THOUSANDS of pictures to work through, y'all!). I did manage to change one of my chalkboards though, and, I'm ridiculously proud of the finished product.

Washing and storing all six of my hummingbird feeders-the birds have flown south for the winter and it's time to replace the feeders with seed feeders for the next migration of birds (Side note: yep, still the crazy neighborhood Bird Lady).

Grocery shopping; we are out of almost everything of importance (coffee, cat food, dog know, the essentials).

Take Boomer to the park.

Hit the treadmill for a run; I had the best of intentions regarding my exercise during my business trip; I packed my running shoes and made sure to book a room at a hotel with a fitness center, but, the siren call of a hotel room all to myself was too hard to resist and instead of running, I spent two nights noshing on snacks while watching Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime. I suck a little. #sorrynotsorry.

Make a triple batch of cheddar zucchini biscuits for freezing (yep, my cup still runneth over with the freaking yellow zucchini).

And, that's it for today. Tomorrow, I need to spend the majority of the day at the hardware store, catching up on all of my bookkeeping duties. My life, it is so exciting! Do try not to be jealous (I totally just felt you rolling your eyes at that).

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September Care Package(es)

I may have gotten a bit carried away with this month's package for the Cub, like, so carried away that it required two boxes. In my defense, the largest fixed-cost shipping box that the USPS offers is woefully inadequate for even the most conservative college care package.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, the contents of the box(es) followed a breakfast theme, because, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

-Pop Tarts, three varieties
-Hostess Coffee Cakes
-Entenman'sPowdered Sugar Donut Holes
-Little Debbie's Chocolate Donuts
-Coffee grounds
-Coffee Filters-French Vanilla Coffee Creamer
-Cereal, assorted flavors in individual packages
-Pre-Cooked, shelf-stable bacon*
-Pancake Mix
-Log Cabin Syrup
-Smoked Bacon flavored Maple Syrup**
-Hostess Fruit Pies, apple flavor
-Kodiak Power Cake***
-Starbucks and Safeway Gift Cards
-Fall scented candles

The Cub and his roommates got the packages yesterday and they wasted no time in opening them and sampling the goods, during which they updated me via both Snapchat and Facetime. It's always good to see them in the virtual flesh and I am confident that they are neither starving nor living in filth.

Thank goodness for modern technology.

*The Cub actually called me a third time to ask if I was sure that the bacon was ok to eat, since it had traveled in the mail for two days. It took me a solid five minutes to assure him that the pre-cooked, vacuum packed bacon would not poison him. Because, yes, son; I require that you send me daily Proof of Life, but, would encourage you to eat something that will cause you to die of ptomaine poisoning.

**This syrup was an experiment-I've never tried it but thought that it looked interesting. Results were mixed: the Cub said it was disgusting, one roommate liked it, and the third wasn't home to try it, which, makes her the tie-breaker. I anxiously await her review.

***The microwavable "pancake on the go" was also an experiment, and, according to the Cub, it was easy enough to make and tasted "ok". Not great, but, good enough to grab and eat on the way to school, which, was my intention, so, win!

Sunday, September 09, 2018

It Started With a Hike

As you may imagine, during the Man-Cub’s final year of high school, there were a lot of events that required my presence, and, unfortunately, a lot of the time, that entailed me posing for pictures. Now, I have always been awkward in front of the camera-my Happy Place is behind the lens-but, I couldn’t very well refuse to be photographed with my kid (I mean, come on), which, is how I ended up with a lot of really unflattering photographs of myself in 2017.

In late August, once the Man-Cub was safely ensconced in his dorm room, and when I’d had a couple of days to get over the travel fatigue from flying to Hawaii and back, I took a really good look at some of those photos and decided, pretty much immediately, that something had to change. My weight was at an all-time high (162), I lacked strength, endurance, and flexibility, and, while my energy level was rebounding (thanks to a dosage increase my doctor made to my thyroid meds earlier in the month), I just felt…shitty.

And, let’s be honest; I looked shitty.

I mentioned in a previous post that, while we were in Hawaii, I had made the decision to stop eating sugar and drinking Diet soda, still; it was pretty clear that a cleaner diet alone was not going to be enough to get me to where I wanted to be, which was, well…healthier. Not skinnier, necessarily, but, healthier, and, happier in my own skin.

So, in addition to cutting out the crap and focusing on a healthier diet (expect a “Day in the Life: Diet Edition” post coming soon), I decided to start exercising again, but, slowly, and, gently. Like, easing myself into it, you know? Which, is why I agreed to go on an “easy” hike with co-worker Kristi on August 29th.

What’s that, you ask? How can I remember the exact date? Well, you let someone try to kill you and we’ll see if you remember the day it happens, because, people? On August 27, 2017, I wanted to die. That “easy” hike was the hardest thing I have ever done, and, I gave birth without drugs! TWICE!

I wanted to puke. I thought I might pass out. I hurt in every fiber of every muscle in my entire body.
But, I completed the hike.

And, in the year since, I have exercised almost every day, in some way, shape, or form. I started taking really long walks in the local park, and, when the weather got too cold, I joined the gym and started running on the treadmill. I became a slave to my Fitbit, and I'm not even ashamed to admit that.

I’ve lost thirty-five pounds, gained muscle tone and definition, increased my endurance and flexibility, and, arrived at a better place in my mental well-being. I feel great. The fact that I look better in photos is a bonus (notice I said better, so, still awkward, but, healthier awkward!).

Today, Ex Co-Worker Kristi, new co-worker Erin, and I repeated that same hike; I am pleased to announce that there was 98% less bitching about me wanting to die (I reserved the right to complain 2% of the time). I felt good the entire way; I could breathe, my legs didn't shake or cramp up, and, at no point in the hike did I entertain the thought of ejecting the contents of my stomach-projectile style.

It's amazing how far I have come in just a year, and, I'm really looking forward to seeing how much farther I can go: marathon, maybe? Triathlon?

Ha, I'm just fucking with you; I'm healthier, not crazier.

I wouldn't, however, say that a yoga retreat is out of the question, maybe one on a tropical island; I've been wanting to try my hand at paddle board yoga since I saw it being done in the lagoon at the Hawaiian Hilton Village when we visited in June 2017. I think I actually have the strength and balance to do it, now.

And, it all started with a hike.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Do Your Heads Hang Low?

This morning, I ventured into the garden with the intention of harvesting a couple of sunflowers; I ended up cutting more than I had anticipated, due to the advanced stage of droopage that I encountered.

SpellCheck would have you believe that droopage is not a word, but, I beg to differ; droopage is the perfect word to describe this...

...wouldn't you agree?

Droopage (as defined by Chellesters Dictionary), is a natural part of the growth cycle of the sunflower; once the sunflower seeds form and mature within the head, the weight causes the head to bow; the more seeds, the heavier the head, the heavier the head, the deeper the bow. Clearly, I have a lot of seeds in the garden this year, as evidenced by the sunflowers bent almost to the ground, despite the support of the old wooden tripods that we propped them up with earlier in the season.

Since I plan to brine and roast the seeds, once they are fully mature, I needed to prevent them from falling out of the heads, or, of being stolen by birds, mice, ants, and other garden critters; in order to achieve that, I wrapped the heads with cheesecloth, turban-style, before hanging them in one of our empty dog kennels to dry.

I'm not sure how long it will take until the seeds are ready to pull from the heads, but, since they are each in a different stage of readiness, I will be checking them daily. The "youngest" seeds are still pretty green...

...while the largest of the heads ( shown next to Boomer's large feeding dish, for size reference) is the most far advanced, as far as ripeness goes...

These heads represent about a third of the flowers in the garden, which means that I will be repeating this process again at least once-if not twice-more. I figure I'll have ample opportunity to practice my awesome knot-tying skills, and, droopage will no longer be an issue in the garden.