Read it! Murder, She Encountered

 Murder, She Encountered by Pam Cochran 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’m an old school Murder, She Wrote fan. Mom and I watched it together when I was little mystery fan and it factors into several prominent memories from my childhood. I’m pretty sure I saw every episode, but when I found it online, I binged it just to make sure.

I can’t decide if Jessica’s friends were lucky she was always there when something happened or if she was bad luck.

Anyway, the title of this one snagged my interest and the blurb looked interesting so I requested it.

From Amazon:

New York City, 1939. A rising star at the Daily Trumpet, Elizabeth “Biz” Adams has been sent to the World’s Fair—billed as the “World of Tomorrow,” a look toward a brighter future even as the drumbeats of war grow louder—to cover a robbery. What she stumbles upon instead is a dead woman, dumped into the Aquacade’s pool with a nylon stocking wrapped around her neck.

Elizabeth snaps a photo as the police arrest Joey Dorman, a gentle young hot dog vendor who made no secret of his obsession with the murder victim. Even though she’s thrilled that her photo makes the front page, the fear and confusion evident on Joey’s face are haunting. So Elizabeth vows to prove his innocence—or his guilt—with her partner at the Daily Trumpet, Ralph Kaminsky. Meanwhile, her romance with Detective Sal Marino is heating up, and Elizabeth is more determined than ever to follow her heart.

But when Kaminsky’s efforts to expose the real killer land him in the hospital, Elizabeth is forced to continue the investigation on her own. And as she tries to narrow down the long list of suspects, she discovers a dark secret running through the Fair—a secret some would kill to protect.

I didn’t realize that it was part of a series until after I read it. It’s nice that you don’t need to read the others for this one to work, but I might go back and read them anyway

I liked the story, even if it was slow in parts and somewhat predictable. It was a good blend of cozy mystery and some historical fiction.

The characters were likable if a little flat. Biz is likable and smart, Kaminzky is painted as your typical cantankerous news man of the 30s.

Bonus: Every time Kaminzky spoke, I heard Jack Webb’s voice.

Do you love a cozy mystery? Is this something you’d like to read?

Join me for a cup of coffee?

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This love is 3 months old today!

Hey there! Thanks so much for meeting me today. I’m having an extra big cup of coffee today because it’s been a LONG week of multiple wake ups each night and early mornings each day.

How was your week? What’s in your cup? Right now my cup has regular old coffee with vanilla almond creamer. I think next will be some sugar cookie coffee with almond creamer. (Do I really need more coffee? Maybe. There’s a lot of laundry to do tonight.)

Oh, I had a couple of messages about my switch to almond and/or coconut creamer and why I made such a switch?

While I’m not classically allergic to milk and milk products, they’ve never made me feel good. Creamers and the like make me feel really icky sometimes and drinking milk usually has pretty awful results.

I switched over when Trader Joe started selling coconut creamer. I like coconut, why not try it? Other places had it, but it was really expensive. TJ was a feasible option.

While I can’t say it’s better for everyone, I definitely feel better when I drink it and not dairy creamers.

Anyway. TL;DR I’m not being pretentious or becoming vegan, I just feel better when I drink it.

So how is your new year going? I’m settling down into the new routine but it’s going to need some tweeks. Like do I need to lay down on the couch and close my eyes after I take Mazzy out and then feed her? Not every day.

I’m also making some progress on what I want to work towards this year. A friend of mine posted his goals and the format is great! When I get mine together, I’ll share the format and some of the goals. Some aren’t for public consumption.

One BIG one is that I want to get the finished craft stuff out of the house. I just have to figure out the best way. (I mean other than just donating it all…which I’m open to, it’s just not my first choice.) I’m going to have another cup of coffee while I think about that!

I’ll see you later? If you’re in the storm and frigid temps stay safe this weekend! Oh and if you have a three day weekend? Enjoy your day off.

Do you have to have Dreams?

I’ve been reading Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be here and there for the last several weeks. I tried to read it before, but I wasn’t in the right head space to get anything out of it. I also found Rachel Hollis’s “voice” to be annoying. This time is better.

I’m not sure why I picked it up now, perhaps a friend’s comment about Chapter 7 coming back to me coupled with something Nik said? I’m not sure, but I took it out of a box I was unpacking and thought I’d give it a whirl. While parts have indeed made me think, I’m not sure I’m the audience Rachel had in mind when she wrote it.

Are you familiar with the premise of the book? She’s giving you a “how-to” on how to live your life better and achieve your goals, BUT dispelling the lies you tell yourself. (Insert Court’s skeptical voice, “But what if they’re not lies?”)

In one chapter, Rachel was talking about how your Dreams are yours alone and no one will care about them more than you. I agree that there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Then it dawned on me that I don’t really have any Dreams. Sure, I dream when I sleep, but I don’t have (nor do I ever know if I have had) a Dream (with a capital D) to go after.

At first it was a weird realization. My inner voice and my me voice had a heated conversation.

Inner voice: What do you mean, you don’t have Dreams? The one who was/is capable of almost anything doesn’t have a big D Dream?

My voice: No, I don’t really know if I do. I get ideas – I’m an idea person for sure.

(Variations of that went back and forth for longer than I’d like to admit.)

My voice also reminded inner me that I’m also pretty terrible at making those ideas happen. If you need an idea? I’m totally your girl. I know this about myself.

It’s not a lie I tell myself, it’s my truth.

There are also things I think I’d like to do, but nothing resonates with me with any of the passion she speaks of in the text. Maybe I haven’t found it yet? Maybe I’m not wired that way? Maybe I’m too distracted to hear my calling. Maybe my “calling” isn’t big, but little impacts all over the place…

I don’t know. I do know that when I have an idea I really like, I can make it happen – often. Well, that is if I don’t find something better or more interesting first. I just don’t know if any of them qualify as Dreams.

I think that’s enough thought to put in to that for today. I’m curious if you have Dreams or just get ideas and make them happen. (Often.)

I was going through this site looking for a post I thought I had done and came across this one about going to see Made for More  I’m sort of convinced that the little things I do ARE my BIG impact on the world…

Sweet and Spicy ‘Shrooms

81815682_10104284008399782_4412166478082605056_o With Mazzy and a general not wanting to go out of my house for New Years Eve feeling, we told our friends to come on over to eat food, hang out, and imbibe a few beverages. While we hadn’t planned on doing anything, we had a crap ton of food in the fridge/freezer to feed people with.

The plan was grilled chicken bacon and Swiss baked sammiches with sides of scallop scampi, and potato salad. I also made some guac and people brought other munchies like buffalo chicken dip. OMG it’s so good.

We didn’t even get to the sammiches or the potato salad. There was SO much food.

Originally, I was going to make stuffed mushrooms for Nik’s dad but I got distracted with Mazzy and forgot. Instead of letting the beautiful crimini mushrooms I had go to waste, I whipped up some of my Step Daddy-Bill’s bits of delight to add to the table.

These things are great. I’ve put them on pizza, salads, in pasta, just in my mouth. You get the idea? I thought so.

You need about a pound of crimini mushrooms. (They’re also called baby bellas.) I’ve used button mushrooms (white ones) and cut up portabellas too. So far, they’ve all worked.

I put 4-5 cloves of garlic in the butter. I’m part Italian so I mince garlic until my heart says, “That’s enough.” You can use less if you want. Or more. Your call. You’ll want at least 2 cloves in there though if I do say so myself.

You’ll want a nice dry red wine. I used Dark Horse Pinot Nior because it was open. You need a cup or so. Then I poured a glass for me. You can do this, or not. Your call.

You’ll need a stick of butter and red pepper flakes. I use a healthy pinch of them. If you’re into measurements, it’s about a rounded 1/4 of a teaspoon.

So now for what you do.

Wash and rough chop the mushrooms including the stems. Mince the garlic. Pour the wine. Have a sip.

Put the stick of butter in the pan on medium and when it starts to melt, put the garlic in the puddle. When it’s totally melted, put in the chopped mushrooms. Cook that until fragrant. Get those mushrooms nice and butter coated.

Pour in the cup or so of wine. Not the one you’re drinking out of, silly.

Bring all of that to a low simmer and sprinkle in the red pepper flakes. Cook until reduced by half or more. You’ll have a really nice sauce going on. If it doesn’t thickly coat the back of a spoon, reduce some more.

Taste one. If you want it to be sweeter, mix an unpacked tablespoon of brown sugar in about half a cup of water until mostly dissolved. Add to pan and re-reduce. If you want it to be spicier, add a few more pepper flakes. Stir well. Enjoy.

Patience for this dish is key. It takes a bit to reduce without scorching the sugars in the garlic and the wine. Your patience will be well rewarded.

sweet and spicy mushrooms(2)
Print as a 4×6

Friday Five

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That double rainbow followed me all the way down 88 this morning

(If you’re one of my new visitors (Hi), I’m sharing five current “things” with you: Recent challenges, triumphs, funnies, OMG, and a question. If you’re a long time reader, please know I appreciate you to no end, hope you like this feature, and you are looking fantastic!)

How’s it going? I’m easing into the New Year and being mindful of keeping things manageable.

It’s challenging though because my default is to say yes to as much as possible. To experience everything I can, to help or participate in everything I’m invited to do.

But it’s not sustainable for me currently. Maybe down the road it’ll be, but not right now.

I’ve had small success in saying, “Thank you, but I can’t commit to that right now.” and “I would love to do that, but I have a bunch going on that day and it’ll be too tight of a schedule, can you let me know when you do that next time?” Because you know what? I do want to do the things, I just don’t want to race around like a mad woman all the time.

I’m also having a hard time mentally wrapping my head around the number on the scale and its resistance to budging. Admittedly, I’ve only taken small steps towards fixing it such as being more mindful of what I’m eating, prepping my food to take to work, and walking with Mazzy, it’s annoying that it seems stuck.

While I realize numbers do not actually define me, a lot of years of telling me differently is hard to shake. Also, I feel frumpy, gross, and not all that great about myself. I’m going to have to fake the confidence until I find it again! Then again, perhaps the itty bitty it has moved is result of the itty bitty steps. I’m going to keep at it.

Oh gosh, I have to share this! Although I’ve had fewer migraines in the last several years, sometimes I still get them. Now when I get them, they’re doozies. Blinding pain, brain melting out of my ears, sobbing for it to stop until I throw up, have vision trouble for a couple of days after kind of bullshit. (The vision symptom is new, but my eye doctor told me it’s because I’m getting older.)

Then I read an article that my Pocket recommended for me recently from NPR about green light and pain relief. While the focus was on migraines, the research has indicated green light can be potentially useful in other types of pain treatment.

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OMG isn’t she cute? She was hiding from the leash which is odd because she LOVES going outside.

As someone who has had migraines since my brother’s 5th birthday party, I find this interesting. We spend so much time in harsh white and blue screen light, I wonder if they’re onto something for photo sensitive people, or anyone in general.

I’m ordering a pair of green glasses from Amazon. They’re like $12 and we can all be honest that I’ve spent more money on less potentially useful Amazon purchases…

What’s the most frivolous thing you’ve purchased on Amazon? Would you try something as simple as green glasses for pain management?

What challenges, triumphs, laughs, and OMG moments have you had lately? Do you have any questions for me?

The new year…

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2020 I’m tentatively (and skeptically) looking at you

From my fb post (lightly edited): I’m not sure what to say about 2019. It was hard, but not hard in the way friends and family fought cancer, months of unemployment or otherwise profoundly tragic events experienced. It was challenging, but not in the same way as for some. It had truly joyful times, but not with big news of happy as it was for some.

I hope 2020 has purely wonderful moments for us all, love, laughter, time with family, good health, good fortune, good friends, and good food. Thanks for the good times 2019 but also the bad times for the lessons and comparison to the good.

2020, let’s make it a good one.

I’d be a real shit head to think 2019 was awful. It wasn’t at all. Let me say that again for the people in the back. 2019 wasn’t bad. We had many beautiful moments, fortunate events, and formed some great memories. We found out Tex was on the way, we celebrated, we laughed, and loved.

We also bought a house, are turning it into a home, and got a puppy. The girls, Nik and I are doing well, are generally happy, and healthy. Nik and I are not only gainfully employed, but doing well at our jobs. We don’t love everything day to day, but we’re in good places. We have an amazing support system I am incredibly thankful for on a near daily basis. I know how damn lucky we are.

All those wonderful things that happened and we made happen? 2019 was still really hard though. I was challenged in new ways I didn’t think I would be – sometimes out of left field being blindsided and slapped across the face or kicked in the ass. I was stretched thin or in directions I didn’t know was possible.

But it was. And I was. And I did it. Like Aunt Patty likes to say, “I’ve survived 100% of my bad days so far.”

And I worked harder this year than I think I ever have in my life. Design work, work work, I traveled more days than I have since I started this job, personal growth at home and in my relationships. I came close to biting my tongue right off some days, was tempted to tear out my hair, throw things, and scream. There was stress, anxiety, a lot of anger, fear, and more anxiety.

But there was also a ton of grace, both from others and from within. I was forgiven and forgave. I learned a lot, taught a lot, was a safe space for others and found new safe places for myself. I put myself out there and made new friends. I went back to therapy for awhile when I was overwhelmed, scared, stressed out, and sinking into a bad place.

There were tears and sobbing, anger, and fear, but also laughter and light, love and trust.

I can’t say for sure that I know what I want 2020 to bring me or what I’d like to get done. I haven’t made any resolutions or sketched out any goals. That doesn’t mean I won’t set any, I just haven’t yet.

I jokingly told one of the basket ball mom’s who I’ve become friendly with that I think I want to get the stuff done THIS year that I wanted to get done LAST year but never made it to the top of the list. Which some of was from the year before.

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From fb, I don’t know who posted it now.

 

I think what I want most is to do better, drop less balls, be more patient, show up more, take better care of myself and those around me. I want to keep working on letting go – of things, of negativity, of all that doesn’t serve me anymore.

Nik and I have this idea that we’re building a life we don’t need a vacation from. A break here and there from driving to work or a trip to see something new, but not a vacation or escape.

That’s what I want for this year.

What do you want for this year? Do you have any set goals or targets yet

PS. It’s take me a few days to write this and in that time, I realized what I want for myself this year. I want to work towards making my life, home, and work “manageable”. It might look different on different days, but my goal is to keep things from overwhelming me, or stressing me out to the point where I’m in a bad place. I don’t make good decisions from bad places. While I absolutely want to do it all, I’m learning that I can’t.

While I fully understand life will throw things at me to stress me out or overwhelm me, my goal is to be in a place mentally, physically, and in my heart where there is room for these instances. And to not do it to myself.

Mission Move More: Meet Mazzy!

Fotor_157711572975016About a week before Christmas Nik looked at me and said, “We need to talk about something.”

Shit. I’m usually in trouble about something when he says that. I braced myself and reminded him it’s a bitch to get out of a mortgage in NY. (Aren’t I helpful?)

Instead, he asked me what I thought about getting a puppy for Christmas instead of the pots and pans we’d talked about.

Um, okay! I had the website of the group I wanted to work with up and on my phone before he could finish his statement.

The first challenge was that he wanted a German Shepard and I wanted a Lab…You know what? There’s more to this part of the story, but I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that on a warmish Sunday between bouts of me barfing, we went to pick out a pup from one of the East Coast Adoption foster centers.

We came home with this little pupski. She didn’t have a name for the first day and a half, I’d call her “baby girl” or “pupski”. Nik called her “little shit” or “poops mcgee”. Since she was the pup Nik wanted, I got to name her. (I wasn’t allowed to name her Fenway though. Anything but that.)

Monday, he went back to work and I started house training and looking for a name. While we were outside walking up and down the driveway, around the yard, etc I’d call out random names I liked. ANNA! (nothing) OPTIMUS PRIME! (nothing), GRETA! (nope) ZELDA? (not even a flinch) among others.

Then when she was trying to eat another nugget of bunny poop, I yelled “No! MAZZY! Get over here!” and she stopped in her tracks. Then she looked at me and begrudgingly trotted over.

Mazzy Ryan B* it is.

She’s sweet, loves us even when she gets yelled at, a super good cuddler, and smart-ish. She hasn’t met a person or dog she hasn’t liked (yet), is learning to be good with the girls and not to pee inside. She likes carrots, strawberries, dog cookies, fake bacon pieces, and ice. She’s killed 2 squeekers, her first rawhide is almost gone, and is getting better about nipping/chewing us. She’s lived with us for 2 weeks and it feels like I’ve known her forever.

So about that Move More. I’ve walked more in the last 2 weeks than I did in the last months. Maybe not, but we’ve covered miles in the driveway and loops around the lawn, walked almost all the way to the fire hall, practiced a little running, and play chase a bit. I’ve also cut back drastically on the crap and the mindless eating because I can’t share with her. I suspect that as she gets a little bigger, we’ll hike in the woods, learn to play fetch in the yard, and when it’s warmer, cool off in the creek.

She’s a great little buddy and hopefully she loves us as much as we love her.

She’s totally better than new pots and pans.

Mazzy

Made it Monday: Cheatin’ Guac

2019-12-16_11-45-08My brother texted me Saturday night to see what was up. I sent him this picture as a reply with a caption, “shoving this in my face”.

He approved. I’m not sure if it was the guac or the feeding my inner fat kid. Could be both.

That guac? It’s good stuff. I know because I make it a lot. I prefer to use Lime Tostitos as a vehicle to eat it, but anything works, really.  Even veggies if you want to be healthy.

I made it a couple of times like for Margarita Night and Chicken Fajita night with Nik’s cousin’s family. Nik’s cousin’s wife asked for the recipe because she wanted to make it to take to feed someone else. I laughed and told her it’s more of a “put some stuff in a bowl and mix” than an actual recipe.

But, I shared it with her and I’m going to share with you.

See, I believe good food should be shared. I’m not one to keep food secrets to myself (not that this is top secret) because food is love. Now, there are times I don’t share everything I do when I cook or bake. It’s mostly because I listen to my heart when it comes to food and sometimes am winging it. I often forget something I threw something in a particular mix. Please understand it isn’t that I can’t tell you, it’s not because I don’t want you to know.

Now, I often get my ingredients at Walmart because that’s the main option out in the country. The actual grocery store is pretty crappy most of the time. If you have somewhere else to source the following, by all means, please go there.

You need to get a thing of HOT Oh, and a lime if you like extra lime.

Now are you ready for the magic? Put the whole container of Pico in a bowl. Add the pre-made guac. Add the same amount of avocado puree. Squeeze half the lime into it, but you don’t need to go nuts. Anyway. Put it in the bowl, fold it all together, you can chill if you want or you can eat it then.

You are totally welcome to make this all from scratch if you want – it’s not hard, but let’s face it, everyone is busy, it’s a pain to get some of the ingredients in some stores, and I always cut myself when I’m cutting hot peppers.

Pico it is. Enjoy.

 

 

Would You Rather

(This is a post I wrote awhile back and didn’t post. The weather lately of snow and mud has prompted it’s publishing.)

It’s been awhile since we’ve played some Would You Rather around here because we’ve been working on 20 Questions in the car instead, but E had one for me awhile back and it led to a fun discussion!

We were having an adventure day heading from Target to the most wonderful gluten free bakery when I hear

Courtahney? Would you rather play in the snow or the mud?

Hmm, E. I have to think about that! Mud is messy but it’s warmer. Snow is fun, but cold! And it’s fun to have snowball fights.

I asked her which she would rather do.

She told me she’d rather play in the mud because it was squishier but the snow wasn’t as dirty and you can’t eat dirty snow, right Courthahney? And we don’t throw mud at people.

That’s right, kiddo. Don’t eat the dirty snow or throw mud.

It’s always fun to see the thought process of the little ones, where the path leads, and how they’re making sense of the world.

So, what would you rather do? Play in the warm squishy mud or the cold clean snow?

The Christmas tree skirt, a snowmobile, and feeling lighter

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My Christmas tree skirt is fancy.

If you know Nik and me at all, you know that we’re very different people. For instance, I could rather easily become a vegetarian. He prefers to get his veggies through the meat he eats. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to borrow the Christmas tree skirt to wear as a wrap. He thinks this is a terrible idea. (For the record, the tree skirt is just a piece of fun fabric we threw on the floor last year.)

I think we should consider digging a pond in the back yard to deal with the “water feature” issue. He thinks we should dig a ditch around the area and redirect the water to the existing creek.

His solution, however, does nothing to further my quest to have a spot for the six foot long mermaid skeleton I have my eye on for Halloween. If you’re wondering, the conversation has been tabled until the spring.

Sadly, I didn’t wear the tree skirt to the event I attended Saturday night. I did wear some fetching red lipstick, blew dry my hair all fancy like, and managed some good eye makeup!

The event was a retirement party for our executive director. It was lovely for him and not the worst party I’ve ever attended. Actually, it was a pretty good time. Afterwards, I went home and hung out on the couch with Nik with some Hard Chard (19 Crimes) and some Apple Pie moonshine in front of the fire place chatting, laughing, eating some dessert, and more laughs. It was a nice night.

It would have been nicer if I hadn’t woken up at 630am the next morning for no good reason. Ugh. The day I can sleep in and I’m wide awake! Ready to go! Eventually I woke Nik up to go ride snowmobiles until it was time to go Christmas shopping.

Christmas shopping was productive. Dare I say with the exception of the gifts the kids have to pick out and making some gifts, I think we’re done! That would be super if it is true. We also had a lovely lunch at one of my old haunts. The food wasn’t amazing, but it was a nice hour or so at a little table by the fire, laughing.

But back to the snowmobiling.Fotor_157591498406076

It turns out that my lack of grace extends to the snowmobile. I think I’ll be okay with some practice, but there were between 2-4 falls. (I’m fine!) It’s just not something that comes naturally for me. I got some cool pictures of the frost covered trees and some laughs as I tipped over off the sled. It was pretty okay – even fun.

Laugh at yourself sometimes, it takes the pressure off!

Let’s talk about self imposed pressure, shall we? I’m pretty terrible to myself about the “shoulds” and it means that the things that matter sometimes don’t get done.

Don’t get me wrong, the things I get done do matter, but maybe not as much as other things.

I’ve been trying so hard at everything for so long that I kinda got to a breaking point a couple of weeks ago. If you want to have a mental picture of what that looks like, it was me sobbing asking Nik to please help me decide what was for dinner that week because I couldn’t make one more decision or be responsible for one more thing. I’m entirely certain that whoremones and lack of sleep played a huge role in that moment, but so did type A in me that I just can’t turn off sometimes.

Recently, I’ve started asking Nik for help. Not in the “can you help me do the dishes/bring in the groceries/get that off the high shelf” type of things, he’s great at that kind of thing. I’m talking real help with things I struggle most with – reminding me that I wanted to go to bed early because I am exhausted and laundry (or whatever I think I HAVE to finish right then) can wait. I tell him when I am fried and can’t make a decision. I ask him to help me turn my brain off when it’s doing the channel surf thing, or to tell me something good and hug me tight when the negative self talk won’t subside with the usual tricks. (That one is hit or miss, but we try.)

We might be different and sometimes clash, but he’s helping me be a better me and balances me out often. Maybe I can give up the mermaid skeleton vision, but if I have an outfit that needs the Christmas tree skirt shrug again, all bets are off.