Join me for a cup of coffee?

2020-04-24_02-15-38
My glasses aren’t really that tilted.
At least I don’t think they are?
Anyway, I needed this cup to remind myself that I can do hard things.
Especially now.

Thanks for meeting me today! Since I can’t even pretend we’re meeting in person, how is it where you are?

It’s cold and dreary here so there’s nothing like a warm beverage to feel a little cozy. And a space heater.

Days like these make me long for an overstuffed chair with a book, a cozy blanket, and a hot mug of something.

Today it’s coffee. Lately it’s been all coffee, all day with water mixed in for good measure.

Right now, I have some regular coffee in my cup with some almond creamer, but if I make another one I might have some tea. We’ll see how the day goes. 

How have you been? Really. This whole situation is so messed up, but we’re still making the best of it.

Day by day. Sometimes hour by hour.

Nik has finished the chicken coop which he built in the old barn. Hopefully the kids will paint it this weekend so it can be hosed down when needed. I’m thinking of making labels for the chickens’ roosts. Even if they don’t use them, I think it’ll be cute . They’re going to be moved in there soon. They’re getting so big.

(I still don’t want much to do with them, but they’re sort of cute, I guess.)

Mazzy is a love. A total jerk sometimes, but a love mostly. For her 6 month birthday, we got to have x-rays done of her digestive track because she got ahold of my pin cushion. (She was fine.) Then Sunday night she got ahold of something that made her sick for hours on Monday. So much doggie vomit. Poor girl didn’t know what was going on with her and she was so confused. Eventually, she fell asleep on my lap watching Criminal Minds. (She’s been fine since.)

And the kids are doing well. They’ve adjusted mostly to the new normal of half the week at their moms, half the week here during the day. We have a schedule that’s working for us in our home and we’re all learning a lot. (Academically and otherwise!)

So far, I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that I was absolutely correct in my choice not to be a primary school teacher, but middle school is alright. Also, that I do better working from home many days than I thought I would.

What have you learned lately?

This is a little all over the place, but I’m more all over the place than normal.

ExhaustedNo, that’s not a black eye there, that’s allergies and mental exhaustion. Yay super pale skin that shows everything.

Who’s with me on the mental exhaustion? I thought I was doing pretty well with everything, considered, but I was talking to my super fabulous coworker about how messed up my dreams are and how it’s jacking up my sleep in weird ways.

I mean I had one the other night about how someone gave me a horse with a broken hoof and I wasn’t allowed to give the horse away to someone who knew what they were doing. I had to take care of it and heal it. I kept misplacing the horse, which made it worse. I felt like a terrible person the whole time because not only did I not really want the horse, I couldn’t even take care of it. I didn’t even know the person who gave it to me either!

I’m sure there’s all sorts of symbolism to unpack in that little gem, but I’m not particularly in the mood to figure it out right now.

After getting a chuckle about my dream about the horse, my super fabulous coworker asked if I was feeling stressed. No, not more than usual actually. But then I realized that while I might be okay awake or THINK I’m okay awake, clearly my subconscious has other ideas.

Jerk subconscious.

I have a few dreams like that many nights. They’re not the kind of nightmares you wake up screaming from, but the kind that sit with you for a long time and make you feel bad, sad, confused, or hurt. When they don’t make you feel icky, they leave you with a feeling of “What the hell just happened?”

Anyway, I’m working on the mental exhaustion and underlying stress, feeling trapped at home, and all the other less than wonderful feelings right now. I’m doing my part so the front line has a smidge of an easier time with theirs. I’m trying to focus on the stuff I need to get done, but focus is even harder than usual.

I’ve done some etsy shopping to support others, bid on a piece of art a friend was selling (and it’s coming to live with me), watched some online music shows from friends, walk a lot with Mazzy, bake, and am trying to do creative things.

I’ve been trying to keep in touch with friends, and other things I’m told are good for me – like squats and planks. Sometimes I do interpretive dance to the song playing. 
Chicks

Some days are better than others, but I just keep reminding myself that I’m doing my part. I’m doing my part. I’m doing my part.

I know I’m incredibly lucky to be working where I am, to have some reserves, talent, and outlets.

I also have some things in the works which will make me smile more. A surprise flower bed for E. (Rainbow gladiolas that likely won’t be in ROYGBV order, but I think she’ll like them. I’m going to love them.) We’re working on getting the garden started and the chicken coop painted with names for the chickens. We have to start some new seedlings for some of the plants, it’s been cold and they aren’t doing as well. Frankly, some of them are kaput.

(By the way, I’ve made some super cute markers for the garden! I can’t wait for my laminator to get here to put them out. I do a post about the things I’ve been making soon.)

Hopefully, we’ll be getting a swing for the front porch and the flowers will come in, the chicks will produce eggs, and the garden will be bountiful giving me lots of other things to focus on.

If I have to work and be home all summer, it’s going to be as lovely, peaceful, and happy as I can make it. Damn it.

How are you doing? Any crazy dreams? How are your stress levels? What are you doing to stay sane?

 

Checking in.

Chickens
Oh, we got chickens too. G-d help me.

Well. Hi there.

Life is different now. I think you know that though? I’ll do a recap of March in the next few days, so let’s skip the recap part.

I know it’s late, but I haven’t felt like putting fingers to keys lately.

‘Rona, you’ve done us dirty.

Historically it seems like it’s time for something like this to happen, but we know better about these things so we should do better.

It would be helpful if people would do what they’re supposed to and stay home (for the most part) I get that it’s not fully realistic, but unless you HAVE to go somewhere? Please don’t!

The ironic part about my plea? I’m pretty sure anyone reading this is abiding by the “April distance brings May existence” motto.

(Thanks dude from fb who posted it first.)

You’re not the ones who need to hear it the most.

How much distance is needed though? There was a fb post about people not going for drives. But being on nature trails is okay? Go for the drive. Stay in the car.

I think the bigger problem is the hording, the government using human lives for political gain etc. That’s just yucky. Then again, it’s always felt yucky.

But I see a lot of good too. People helping, sharing, and making what needs to be made.

Maybe that’s why I’m okay. Or I was when I started this post 10 days ago. Stuff has changed in 10 days. I’m still okay, but it’s a weird okay.

Yesterday was harder than today, but today was more lonely. Some days are really hard. Some days less so.  But hey, that’s my usual, right? It just seems lower on the lows lately. Different (sometimes odd) things are triggering.

The loneliness is real.

I’m glad most of my friends are location independent, but it’s just not the same. There’s no hugs, no impromptu dinner with friends you run into at the pizza place – there’s barely a pizza place. There’s no scheduling dinner dates to sit and chat for hours. Yoga is closed and may not reopen at all…but I’m healthy and working so that’s good.

Most days I just feel like I’m going a little batty not being able to pop out to the store or meet friends for sushi, but we’ll have our time. Hopefully.

I’ve been working from home for 5 weeks now and it’s going decently well. I like it and I’m not as distracted as I thought I’d be. I also have the added bonus of better snacks and music than at the office and roughly three hours of my life back every day most days.

That part has been really nice.

I’m incredibly blessed in the job department currently. I got home from FL, went to the office, helped a couple of people get their remote stuff set up, and haven’t been back since. That was March 18th. Tomorrow is a full month that I’ve been home. There have been some bumps in that road, but over all, it’s been good.

I don’t know where I was going with this post other than to say that I’m okay. I’m keeping my world as normal as I can, helping with the kids half of the week, getting showered and dressed every day (you can see my outfits and coffee mug of the day in my Instagram Stories), and driving Nik nuts.

See? Pretty normal other than having to wear a mask when I leave the house and not going anywhere, ever.

Read it: 5 Library Books

I’m on vacation and hopefully have been reading my big eyes out on the couch or by the pool. 

One random day in January, I decided I needed to get a library card. Why I needed to have access to more books? I have no idea. But luck would have it, the local library had evening hours that night.

Over the course of January and February, I listened to or read the following books. I took out more than that, but returned them if I wasn’t interested in reading them.

Evie Drake Starts Over: A Novel (Linda Holmes)

Tl;dr: Former pro baseball player meets slightly odd fixer widow; romance ensues, they fix each other.

I liked the characters, even if there wasn’t much dimension. Then, you don’t always need depth to tell the story. It was funny, sarcastic, and decently written, but there wasn’t any braining going on on my part. It was cute if predictable, but what I needed to read after Mine.

Big Girl Panties (Stephanie Evanovich)

Tl;dr: Woman meets trainer; training; they fall in love. She’s not his type. They’re over it.

I’ve read this book before but still like it. Sure, it’s the ugly duckling meets romance novel trope, but with some funny writing and (mostly) likable characters. It irked me that the timeline didn’t mesh with The Sweet Spot, but meh. Also, hot guys can dig big chicks. It’s allowed.

Some of them I listened to in the car instead of podcasts.

Curious Minds (Janet Evanovich, Pheof Sutton)

Tl;dr: Finance chick assigned to quirky rich dude; adventure ensues. They get out of trouble and save the day.

The story was quite likable and funny. I’d have preferred to have read it, not listened to it. In my mind, the characters had specific voices which the narrator did not portray. However, the characters are quirky, fun, and I’m hoping they have many more adventures to take us on.

Dangerous Minds (Janet Evanovich)

Tl;dr:Finance chick assigned to quirky rich dude; adventure ensues. They get out of trouble and save the day.

Like Curious Minds, this was likable and funny. It introduced some new characters but let you get to know the rest better. It was more far fetched than the first one, but why not? There’s a budding unlikely romance brewing in a slightly more than cozy mystery kind of way.

The Sweet Spot (Stephanie Evanovich)

Tl;dr: Baseball player meets restaurant owner; she makes him work for dates; romance and scandal ensue.

Oh Amanda and Chase. I wanted to like this book more, but I didn’t love it. The whole thing was about games. His games, her games, their games. I liked how it took a kind of kink and normalized it so that maybe other good girls could get theirs too.

Using today’s Amazon prices for the above, my library card saved me $65.19 and lots of space on the shelf.

Made it Monday: Spicy Honey Lime Shrimp

2020-03-09_01-30-30I have so many of these Made It Monday posts to catch up on! And some of them are SO good. And you know I will share (eventually) because I believe in sharing good food with the people I (probably) like.

This was a recent dinner and shouldn’t be posted for weeks if I’m working chronologically. However, I’m really excited to eat these left overs for lunch tomorrow so I’m going to share this one now. It’s sweet and spicy, buttery and gingery with some umami.

Besides, I do what I want.

I’m really trying to be more mindful of the meat I eat. I’m getting more plant based protein, but it’s still tough to get enough without being able to rely on wheat based items. I do like fish and shellfish, so I decided to get some of that in the rotation.

Can I tell you how much I love shrimp. It was a long decade when they thought I was allergic to shellfish. (When they actually tested me for it after 10 years of keeping away from it, I wasn’t allergic to it. Was I ever? Who knows.)

Anyway.

I went onto Pinterest for inspiration and found this recipe. Oh dear that looks good.

Darn it, I was out of some of the ingredients, tired, and didn’t feel like braving the storm that is the grocery store after work. Besides, I couldn’t get behind using a few others on shrimp (cinnamon? nutmeg?) so I did what I do and used it as a suggestion.

The original recipe was for 1/2 a KG (about a pound) but it was just me eating it so I only defrosted about half a pound. I cheat when I buy shrimp and by the frozen ones that are already been de-veined and peeled.

These things happen. Also, they were on sale.

You’re going to need:

– 1/2 lb of shrimp
– 4 (big) cloves of garlic (it was closer to a quarter of a cup)
– 1/2 heaping teaspoon of ginger paste
– 1/4 scant TSP of chili flakes
– 1/2 a TSP of black pepper
– 2 heaping TBSP of honey
– 1 TBSP of soy sauce
– 1 TBSP of olive oil
– 3 TBSP Lime Juice
– 3 TBSP butter
– 1 bag frozen stir fry veggies

Thaw shrimp. Mince your garlic and put in a small glass bowl. Add the ginger, chili flakes, pepper, honey, soy sauce, and olive oil. Mix until well combined. Put shrimp in bowl and cover it with the marinade mix. Let sit for 40-60 minutes. (You could probably use this much marinade for a full pound of shrimp.)

Add lime juice, stir well, and let sit for 10-15 minutes more.

Right after you put the lime juice in the marinade, put butter in large frying/saute pan.

Let it melt on medium, then add bag of stir fry veggies. You don’t even have to defrost them. Move them around the pan a bunch so nothing is over cooked. When they start to soften, move all of the veggies to make an outside ring.

Now. Place the shrimp and the garlic etc in the middle of the pan. I used a fork to get the pieces out of the marinade, but not too much of the liquid. When the shrimp are turning mostly pink, mix everything back together. Finish cooking. Serve over rice if you want, but I don’t bother making it just for me.

I couldn’t believe how wonderful this was. It was sweet and spicy. It was garlicky and citrusy. I hadn’t even finished my first few bites when I had already decided I was making it again.

Now, Nik won’t eat this in the shrimp version, but I’ll try it as a chicken dish and see what he says.

Do you believe recipes are gospel and need to be followed to the letter? Or are you more of a “recipes are inspiration” kind of person?

Court’s 2020: Chapter 2, February

ColdI used to do The Good Stuff posts because I believe in sharing the good things big and small, but I also think being more transparent about the low-lights reel is possibly more important. One of my virtual friends posted about her Chapter 1 of 2020 on her Instagram and it resonated with me in a big way, so here we are.

Oh February, you were cold! You were also filled with warmth, love, fun, proud moments and good food.

I know I dropped balls left and right and am sure there were crappy times too, but as I sit here to type this, it feels like it was more good than bad, which is lovely.

I can only think of a few icky things that happened off the top of my head. I don’t think I need to think or dig deeper than that just to come up with negativity. I’ll keep the lessons learned and carry the good times forward.

Thank you February. The tl;dr version would say something like, “Grace and hugs were  given, punches were rolled with, and we laughed.”

If you’d like to read more, please keep reading…

I started taking a bit of time for myself – even if it was folding laundry alone while Nik did something with the kids or I put Mazzy in her kennel for a couple of hours so I could get something done at home. I started playing with my Cricut and worked at getting the desk organized.  (I’m still working on that part, but I’ve made progress!)

I did attack the massive pile of mending which has just been growing for the past [insert more months than I care to admit here] months. But hey, other than one pair of pants which I need to find the thread for, it’s done! (For now, until the kids show up with a tear in their pant or ask me to fix a hole in a favorite sock, or I find a hem that needs repair.)

And we had the following really great moments:

  • Valentine’s Day decorating
  • Pancakes
  • Mazzy learning the “rules” and “tricks”
  • Surprising the girls with different things (movies, special lunches, etc)
  • A good cry clearing out the sinuses
  • Cutting myself some slack, giving myself permission to not finish something I didn’t like, and putting some of my needs at the top of the list.
  • Laughs, oh the laughs. There were so many laughs this month.
  • Softball clinics for the kids on Sunday. I love my softball friends!

Mazzy is getting so big! We had to get her weighed to know what dose of heart worm meds to get her. In a little under two months with us, she’s doubled her weight. The vet moved her estimated full size up another 10 lbs.  Mazzy has learned a lot, but we’re also learning a lot from her. She’s a love, filled with sass, loves to cuddle (on her terms), and mostly wants to make us happy. Mostly. Sometimes she’s a flat out jerk.

Other than that, I’ve read a lot more, spent time with the kiddos during the school break, watched basketball games and softball clinics, caught up on Criminal Minds, and have just been trying to be my best self and reminding myself that 100% some days might not be quite as much as 100% other days. Turns out I’m human and there’s an ebb and flow to my abilities.

Along with the books I’ve read, I’ve read a lot of articles too. Here are a few of my favorites I wanted to share.

Work is work and it’s there. I do my best so most of my people are happy. There’s a different thing to focus on every day and I recently completed a huge update to some of our work due to a massive law change surrounding student data privacy. We have a new executive director at the office and many of us are seeing how it goes before we decide if we’re sticking around or not.

I’ve been doing more work in the crafting stuff: custom quick designs, cake toppers, t-shirts. It’s tempting to take them to a craft show, but I don’t love craft shows. Maybe I’ll see about a new Etsy shop or online otherwise. Or maybe (more likely) I’ll keep it to custom work and stay able to say “yes” or “no” as I can do it.

Some of the crafting has or will soon be in house updates. Nik made me a mail sorter for my desk and a plant table! Photos to follow soon, once I get another couple of projects done.

Thank you February 2020, for the lessons, the love, the memories, and the smiles. I’m ready to take what I need to know or to have learned from it and move on.

How about you? How was your second chapter of 2020?

Read it! The Inheritance Murders

 The Inheritance Murders by E.L Johnson was provided for me at no cost through my partnership with NetGalley. The thoughts are my own. You can see other books I’ve reviewed here.

I was going through my NetGalley and a little overwhelmed with the number of books left to review. Rather than freak out and take a nap. I just decided to pick one and read the damn thing.

I’ve started doing this thing where I actually allow myself to put books down at the 51% mark if they don’t hold my interest. What? Yes. I’m sorry authors who put their time into the books, not every book is for every person!

I had read some reviews that this one wasn’t very good and was hard to follow. I figured since I’ve read some M.J. Rose books and others with difficult plots or story lines, I’d give it a whirl.

I wasn’t disappointed. Heads up, this isn’t a cozy mystery. There are some very steamy parts.

From Amazon:

Crystal works as a personal assistant, but when her boss turns up sick, it is up to her to go to a rich client’s house and support him as his family prepares for his uncle’s passing. Finding her boss’ sex-filled emails makes Crystal determined to stay professional at all costs…until she meets the client’s brother, who is exactly her type of sexy. When the uncle dies under suspicious circumstances, Crystal takes on more duties than your average PA: funeral tasks, investigating multiple deaths, searching a haunted house and becoming a sexual playmate. But, someone doesn’t want her around, and they’re willing to kill to keep their inheritance. Too bad for them that Crystal’s got a few tricks of her own. In this tale of sex, murder and ghosts, sometimes the hired help is a bit more than average, and sometimes bodies just won’t stay dead..

This book was better than the questionable reviews merited. While there wasn’t a whole lot of depth to the characters, they were likable enough (or not) as they should have been for the plot and it worked for this book. The plot was certainly the focus. While you had to keep parts straight, it was like a puzzle coming together. There were a few small twists, but you could sort of see them coming.

I think this would make a fun movie, like Clue. The ending left an opening for Crystal to have another book and I’d read that too.

Lent and the recovering Catholic

LentEven though we went to church almost every week as kids (and if we were home during college), Lent wasn’t something we did.

I think the first time I participated in it was post college with a guy I was casually dating. By the end of Lent, I had given him up, but I finished out the 40 days.

While Lent (for my non-Christian readers who haven’t asked or googled it) is a reflection of what Jesus gave up for his followers sins. (Incoming blasphemous statement! I don’t believe he did that per se, but that’s a topic for another day.)

My complicated relationship with religion aside, I see validity in some practices. Lent is one of them.

“Ash Wednesday, and the whole season of Lent, invites us to turn away from what doesn’t matter and turn toward what does matter.”

(From here– you might read it, there’s a lot of stuff to think about in it.)

By the way, it isn’t lost on me that the 40 days takes us through the start of Spring, when nature starts over, too.

So I’m participating in Lent this year. A secular version, but participating none the less. It won’t be like the year I gave up meat or another when I gave up peanut butter. (GAH!)

While there is some “giving up” on my list, it’s more of a giving up distractions than actual or actions. Some of it will be to “cleanse” my home (mental/physical/actual) and reset. Some will be to refocus. Some will be for my heart.

I’ve already taken my social media apps off my phone, tablet, and off my homescreen on my computer itself. It’s weird not checking in, but I want to see just how much I miss some of the “give-ups” at the end of the time.  Much like the guy I was seeing all those years ago, but unlike the peanut butter, I suspect I won’t miss them all that much.

Are you participating in Lent?

 

Read it! MINE

MINE by Courtney Cole was provided for me at no cost through my partnership with NetGalley. The thoughts are my own. You can see other books I’ve reviewed here.

I had actually read this one year or so ago, but when I realized I hadn’t reviewed it, I had to re-read it.

No biggie, it’s a decently quick read and mostly enjoyable in a twisted sort of way.

From Amazon:

When Tessa Taylor unlocked her husband Ethan’s iPad to discover nude photos from a twenty-six-year-old bombshell named Lindsey, her seemingly perfect life came to a screeching halt.

With a hurricane barreling toward Florida and Ethan stuck on a business trip, Tessa finds herself imprisoned in her own home with a choice to make: Does she ride out the storm until she can confront Ethan in person, or does she take matters into her own hands?

Increasingly restless and desperate for revenge, Tessa resolves to act. And when she lures Lindsey over a few hours later, there’s no turning back.

What ensues is a battle of wills between two well-matched opponents, blinded by love for the same man but driven by demons of their own. Like storm-ravaged Florida, neither woman will be the same when the skies clear.

He’s mine. Both wife and mistress would stake their lives on it. But only one of them can be right.

I’m not sure it was a Thriller, but it had a whole lot of psychology going on. Tess and Lindsey are both kind of crazy, but in different ways.

I wanted to love Tess and feel bad for her that she’s in this situation, but the more you find out about Lindsey, I hate to say it, the less I disliked her then more, then less. She shouldn’t have done what she did, but really Ethan is the bad guy here.

There’s a bunch of psychotic and stalking behavior in this book. If that will bother you, don’t read it.

Is this the sort of book you’d like to read?

 

Throwback Thirsty Thursday

Fotor_156254983049744 This is an old pic from the rental house. I miss the bamboo privacy fence and the log bench in front of the fire pit he built me for Mother’s Day. 

It had been muggy and hot for days on end. Everything felt gross, but the flora was thriving. It was almost like I lived in a jungle but with groundhogs and deer.

The particular day was a sticky, hot, and there was a storm coming in fsat. Both Nik and I were out dealing with the lawn and what not so we could get it done before it started to pour, leaving us really living in a jungle!

We finished with less than an hour to spare so the hurried sweat added to our gross. While Nik got cleaned up, I was sitting on the log, waiting to do the same.

But before I went out to be a bump on a log, I thought I’d pour a drink. I was already a little dizzy from the heat and sweating, so I decided a mocktail would be better than a tall glass of iced wine.

I found a bag of blueberries in the freezer and plunked them in the glass with some ice sticks on top. Blueberry Lemon seltzer went over that.

It wasn’t fancy, but it was light and refreshing with the blueberries creating little ice capsules to crunch on while I waited for the rain to start.

When it did start, boy did it come down. I sat on my log sipping my drink as the warm water fell hard on and around me.

It didn’t help with the heat or humidity, but the bamboo did get taller that day.

In full disclosure, Tuesday night after a crap ton of bs, when I poured the wine into the pan for dinner, I poured half a glass for myself and filled it with ice. I’m not totally in the mocktail life, but I’m drinking a lot less than I was…and that’s a lot less calories too!