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!
I 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.
A big part of me thinks the title of this chapter otherwise known as January should be “The longest Meh” because that’s how I felt most of the time and goodness this was a long month. However, doing so would be disregarding the great things that went down and we can’t have that.
How about “Meh, My Loves, and Mazzy’s Mayhem”
The tl;dr version would say something like, “It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but it wasn’t all bad.”
If you’d like to read more, please keep reading…
There was a lot of basketball, coffee, walks with Mazzy, playing, crafting, Minecraft for the kiddos, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning up or taking something away from Mazzy, mocktails, reading on the Kindle app in the dark, and the following really great moments:
Sweet Mazzy’s greeting when I get home from work
Grabbing the picture just as N takes a shot and makes it
Apricot Mustard Marinade on Tuna
Nik reaching for me in the middle of the night.
Hugs from the kids as we go our separate ways in the morning.
I got a library card, but was seriously dismayed that due to scheduling, I can’t be part of the library board.
We also had a lot of not listening, attitude, and not cooperating from everyone (kids, adults, and pup alike). There was a lot of frustration and even tears.
The most challenging I think was Mazzy. She can be a little shit and difficult. We’re still working on the nipping. It’s hard. She also sometimes (maybe when she’s mad at us?) pees inside, most recently on the donation pile on the floor and on our bed. (Laundry has been washed.) She knows better so we’re not sure why she does it. (She also does it more when we’re home with her for the day than when we’re at work.)
We also came dreadfully close to running out of oil. That was super uncomfortable. We have electric heater back up and the fireplace, but it just felt bad in my head. We’re grown-ups this isn’t something that we’re supposed to let happen. (We have a plan in place now and are looking into getting a hot water heater that isn’t part of the furnace.)
It all works out, though. We learn, forgive, move on, and love even more. There are more pics over on my Instagram.
I’ve been reading more. Along with the Kindle books I’m working though to review, I read a lot of articles. Most were recommended by my pocket. Here’s some of the better ones.
The Myth of Self Control. “The paper stumbled on a paradox: The people who were the best at self-control — the ones who most readily agreed to survey questions like “I am good at resisting temptations” — reported fewer temptations throughout the study period.
To put it more simply: The people who said they excel at self-control were hardly using it at all.”
Hm. This is something to think about…
Another thing to think about…How ‘Namaste’ Flew Away From Us. This is an interesting look at language appropriation and getting it wrong. While I got rid of my “Namasty” shirt because I couldn’t get the gym smell out and it was so faded, but I’m going to be much more conscious of this going forward.
I haven’t been listening to as many podcasts. Instead of stories of murder and hurt, I have been borrowing audio books from the library. While I tend to choose mysteries, most of the story isn’t about the crime itself, it’s about solving the puzzle which isn’t as hard on my heart and brain.
The first I borrowed was The Recipe for a Perfect Housewife by Karma Brown. The current one is Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton. While I’m enjoying the listen, I don’t know if I like the perfectly polished voices of the people reading them. This is especially true for books where the characters are described in a particular way so you think they should have a particular sound to their voices. I’ll get into this more when I review them.
There isn’t much going on on the work front other than me getting stuff done. I’m not involved in this year’s workshop and have opted out of pitching a program for convention. This is just fine by me. Last year was really overwhelming. I managed everything alright, but I’m ready to focus on other things at my desk.
I think that’s about all I have to say about January 2020, 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 first chapter of 2020?
I also haven’t had a glass of wine in 12 days (at the time of writing this). Before that, it was probably a week or two.
No, that doesn’t seem like much, but for someone who would have a glass or two of wine every evening, grab a gf beer from the fridge, or splash some vodka in my seltzer on a regular basis, it feels like a long time.
I didn’t feel like I was overdoing it. Really, it felt like a friend holding my hand while I processed my day, settled into the evening, and blowing off some steam sometimes.
It wasn’t a conscious decision at first, I just didn’t feel like drinking. I mean sure, the holiday season had a lot of tasty boozy beverages, but Mazzy had me up so damn early every day I didn’t really feel like having more than a glass of wine or a beer at the end of the day. I was far too tired to enjoy it. Sometimes even too tired to finish it.
Regardless of if I want to drink it, I shouldn’t waste it.
About a week into the new year, I realized I didn’t even feel like that anymore. I was drinking seltzer with some lemonade or just water over lots of ice. I’d have half a glass of wine here and there filled with ice. (I like it as close to a slushy as possible.)
Then Nik and I had a date night at home with delicious dinner, dessert, and movies. I had a few too many glasses of wine.
Holy crap I felt like garbage. Worse than I had felt in years.
It was a lovely, happy, loving, and filled with laughter. It turned less lovely when I woke up in a start, sweating, and shaking because my sugar was bottoming out around 3 am. That’s generally not a good time.
Other than a desire here and there for brief moments, I haven’t wanted wine, beer, or a cocktail. (Although the other day – after having a DAY – it was hella tempting to put a splash of vodka in my cranberry/seltzer mix. I didn’t have any that would go well.)
Will this change tonight? Maybe? Tomorrow night? Who knows. I might consciously do a month and see how I feel after that. I haven’t decided.
So what was I drinking above?
Glass filled with ice, about half a cup of cran-grape juice, which was topped off with grapefruit bubly. (I didn’t get paid to mention any of these, it’s just what I had on hand.)
It was too sweet at first, so I sucked out a bunch of the juice and put more seltzer in. That was much better.
I’ve lost a few pounds, my skin looks better, and it’s certainly been easier to get up in the morning with Mazzy than it was before.
It could very well be I’m just adjusting to the new schedule, but it could also be that my body isn’t spending energy processing alcohol and extra sugar so it can really rest. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m still tired, it’s just easier to get out of bed.)
I think I’ll keep this up and see where it goes. I don’t have to not drink, but right now it’s what I’m choosing.
I’m going to keep sharing the more interesting mocktails I make. You can add wine or whatever of your choice to them (no judgement here) or not. Your call. Besides, some of them are really pretty so if nothing else, it’ll add a splash of color to your glass-er day.
You know when yoga instructors tell you to clear your head? I’ve never been very good at that. (Go figure.) I thought I was failing at part of my practice because I couldn’t get the mental aspect.
But one day, Ashley (my favorite instructor ever), told me if it was stressing me out to try to clear my head, not to try.
She said, “Acknowledge the thought you’re having and tell it you’ll come back later if it’s still there. ”
You’d be surprised how many aren’t there after 45 minutes of focused movement and breathing. And sweat. I did a lot of hot yoga.
Since that day, I walk into every practice experience ready to hear what my brain and heart need to tell me, but I don’t dwell on anything. If it’s important enough to my brain after we breathe and stretch, I’ll deal with it then.
I encourage my students to do the same.
Before teaching Sunday, I was hanging from the sling when it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, I was depressed. Actually, I heard a little voice whisper, “You’re depressed, dummy”.
I had been feeling off – detached, exhausted, restless, unable to focus, forgetful, going through the motions of life, and a little moody for at least a week, maybe two (maybe longer, it’s hard to pinpoint). At first I thought I was just tired. I haven’t been sleeping well. Nightmares have been back and bad, vivid enough to visit me during the day. I thought maybe I needed more uplifting less murdery podcasts to listen to, so I added some different ones into the mix. I tried to do something creative. I set a couple of small goals.
I know what I need to do to “fix” me. This isn’t my first rodeo.
After a couple more days of feeling like this, I examined my diet for any possible gluten contamination and was really careful about what I was eating. I made sure I was drinking water, and with Mazzy, I’m getting more activity than ever…but I still kicked it up a notch when we walked.
Before I set off to teach Sunday, I was almost ready to call my doctor to ask for blood work to see what levels were fucocked. Other times it’s my vitamin B, D or Thyroid. It’s not a big deal, we fix it and move on. Except I’ve been super good about taking my vitamins and even more careful about taking my other meds correctly.
I don’t talk about being depressed as much as the anxiety because my depression comes and goes. It doesn’t stick around for all that long usually and there’s almost always a defining cause I can point to. Once I identify it for what it is, I have a whole host of tricks up my sleeve to do until it passes or I shake myself out of it.
The trick is to identify it. Depression can be a tricky leopard and change it’s spots.
This last bout, that I’m still working through even as I type this, hasn’t been the usual sadness, random sobbing, over/lack of eating, feeling worthless, with anxiety dialed up to 11 that I usually face when I’m depressed. These symptoms have been different. (And they are starting to ease up.)
I’m starting to feel more like myself.
I’m lucky that it comes and goes.
I’m lucky that I was able to spend some time in therapy to address things and to have tools to work through things. I’m also willing (and able) to go back.
Not everyone is that lucky. I understand that more than many may.
I don’t write this for any particular reason other than to share in case someone else is struggling but doesn’t know why. I was doing everything as right as I can and it still hit me. I know it’s temporary and this will pass, but it was a good reminder that there isn’t always a rhyme or reason, causes can be as nebulous as the fog you’re in.
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.
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?
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.
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…
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.
(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.
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?
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.
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.