May 26, 2021

Seasonal Foods - Juniper News - A New to Us App

Buckle up buttercups - this is going to be a ping-pong kind of post where we jump from random topic to random topic...or, in other words, pretty much how every conversation (in real life) with me can sometimes go...

***

The high today was in the mid-80's.  But The Husband was in the kitchen concocting a soup.

This is a topic that we have disagreed on for all the years we've been married.  In my mind soups, stews, chilis, etc. are hearty dishes that are "cool weather" dishes. He disagrees and thinks that anything goes any time of the year - the weirdo.

My thoughts on seasonal foods extend into desserts.  To me, I would group praline cake and any other "heavier" type of dessert into a "cool weather" dish.  And a lemon pound cake or coconut cake - these are all "warm weather" desserts...much to Man Child's consternation - as the praline cake is one of his favorites and I am loathe to make it in the summer months.  In his mind, any dessert is free from my seasonal no-no list - it's obvious he gets this insanity from his father, the weirdo.

***

MOST OF THE JUNIPER IS OUT!  Granted, we've still got the hot mess going on up next to the house (I'll deal with that another day), but the main vermin and weed infested eyesore is GONE.


I never claimed to be a photographer...

As of yesterday, the grass seed is spread and we are crossing our fingers and hoping that grass actually comes in.  But, honestly, at this point of the game I'd rather look at dirt than at that damn juniper.

But still - let's take a moment to bow our heads and pray for the grass to grow...

***

As we all know, I am not the "chef" in this house - hence the need for me to show up at the grocery store is rare - unless it involves wine or baking supplies.  I am lucky - I admit it.  I also REALLY appreciate it - it's one of the many reasons I keep him around despite him being a weirdo that wants soup in the middle of summer.

At any rate, all of that to say - I just heard about grocery store apps.  I'm sure the majority of you know about these little miracles - so I am here to talk to those of you that don't.  Somewhere in my internet travels, I happened upon something that mentioned them - normally, I would have skimmed right over that knowledge and never thought of it again - but this time it caught my attention because The Husband had JUST returned from the grocery store and had forgotten a much needed item AGAIN - which, in the whole scheme of things isn't a disaster usually, as he will probably be back at the grocery store before I can blink - I swear, I think the grocery store people see him more than I do.

At any rate, I did some research (have you met me?  Of course, I did!) and downloaded the Our Groceries app onto both of our phones.  I then showed The Husband how it all worked.  With this app, we can add items to the grocery list that updates in real time on both of our phones.  I cautioned him that we would both need to remember to check it...figuring he would promptly forget all about the app.

I was wrong.

Last night, I was playing with the app - trying to figure out all the ins and outs and added some things to the list - meaning to delete them.  What can I say - I forgot.  The next thing I know, The Husband comes walking in the door with all of the items from the list.  Luckily for me, it was all staples so nothing will go to waste.

At any rate, this app is - so far - a keeper for us - as long as we both keep remembering to check it.

So what say you, friends?  Is soup, chili, etc. a "cool weather" food or do you follow The Husband's devil-may-care attitude when it comes to seasons and food?

May 19, 2021

Priorities...his, mine and ours

 Swistle's most recent post got me to thinking...well, actually I have been thinking this for a while but that post made me want to articulate what I've been thinking.

As we all know, there are MANY projects that I would love to have done around here - including that stupid front door that STILL isn't done.  In fact, there has been absolutely NO progress on this front.

Yes, I should probably step in and start making phone calls...but, here's the thing...he knows more about this kind of thing than I do and has connections that I don't.  

BUT - The Husband, who has been dithering over whether or not to fix or replace the shed for the last year or so finally made a decision.  And *just like that* the shed has been fixed and re-painted - and from the time it took for him to make the decision to completion was just two weeks.  Imagine.

But yet, here we are THREE years later and that front door?  Apparently, not a priority in his book...despite the fact that he *just* remarked how dreary the house is when it's overcast. *sigh*

Now, I'm not going to lie...having the shed usable is great, as the garage doesn't need to house EVERY.SINGLE.THING! and I am reaping the benefits of it.  But, I'm a tad resentful, as that seems to have had a higher priority to the one, little thing that I desire.

All this tells me that, sometimes it seems that my priorities seem to take a backseat to his priorities.  And we need to have a conversation about that.

But then, sometimes our priorities happen to align...aka The Juniper.  

This is only a portion of it - it spans the entire front yard,
including the other side of the driveway.

We both agree it is an eyesore - infested with weeds and snakes.  And, the majority of it should be removed next week.  Hopefully.  

After the door debacle, as you might imagine, I have my doubts...but *fingers crossed*

Next on the list?  That damn front door.

May 2, 2021

It's that time of year again...

...when it's time to begin the annual battle with weeds and that damn blackberry bush.  As a side note, I have just realized I've been battling with that blackberry bush since 2016!  You would have thought by now it would have just given up.

It's almost as bullheaded as I am...but as I told each and every one of those sprigs I pulled up yesterday, it should just go ahead and give up because I will yank each and every one out until the day I die, because I will not concede!

I am going to try to follow the strategy of getting out there at least once a week to yank out any of the blackberry bush or other unwelcome weeds.  That was my plan last year and I don't remember it being too onerous; once the initial purge was done.

Today found me gathering all my courage and heading out to tackle the front beds...that are filled with juniper...which critters just LOVE.  Again, I avoided the bed of juniper on the slope near the road because I know for a fact that at least one snake lives in there.  I planned to tackle the beds up near the house, where I have told myself that snakes wouldn't want to live.  Yes, I lie to myself all the time when necessary...don't try to talk me out of it.  Otherwise, these beds would NEVER be weeded.

But, come to think of it, if I let the weeds take over would it actually choke out and kill the juniper?  Hmmm....something to ponder.  Particularly since I now hate the juniper as much as, if not more, than that damn blackberry bush.  Would the weeds kill it before it came to the homeowner's association's notice?  Doubtful.

We have a guy coming tomorrow to give us a quote on removing the snake infested juniper on the slope.  The Husband asked me what I would be willing to spend on this project.  I told him that everything we had seemed reasonable.  

His concern is that we wouldn't be able to grow grass on that slope and would have to spend big money on putting in a long retaining wall.  I'm thinking if we sod the area, it would be okay.  The neighbors on either side of us have the same slope, minus the juniper and they have grass.  So, I'm crossing my fingers that the price is right and my sod solution works.  And, as I told The Husband, even if it doesn't work and everything washes away that would still be preferable to having that snake infested mess in the front yard.

April 6, 2021

Shall we talk about eyebrows for a minute?

Yes, after a slightly introspective post, we are back to the inane.  (As an aside, if you want a deeper, more introspective post regarding returning to "Normal" you just need to click this link.)

So, I called you all here to talk about the exciting topic of eyebrows.  Riveting, I know.

Here's the deal, up until December I had never really given any thought to my eyebrows.  Other than knowing that I was not a fan of the thick, overly defined, square eyebrows that was a recent fad (I think this fad is over, I hope).


This version is not as extreme as some I witnessed.

Years from now younger women everywhere will cringe at the fact that this particular fad is all over the internet for eternity.  Whereas, the ridiculous fads those of us who are older dabbled in as teens will only show up on the internet if we post them.  That's one perk for us Gen Xers.

At any rate, back to the eyebrows in question...mine.  I have never given mine much thought.  I will tweeze them to keep them from becoming quite unruly.  But I've never been an over zealous tweezer.

My mother, on the other hand, used to tweeze ALL of her brows, leaving only a "starting point" from which she would then draw on her brows every single day.  This practice seemed overtly tedious to me from the time I began to worry about such things.  I figured I had brows so there was no reason to pluck them off and start over - besides my drawing skills aren't the best.

As a result, for the majority of my life, when applying my "face" for the day my brows were either ignored or, at most, might get "brushed," if I was feeling extra fancy.  Although, in truth...why was that ever a thing?  Your brows grow the way they grow.  You either tweeze out the unruly ones or not.  I might be wrong but it seems brushing them really does nothing for them.

Anyway, sometime back in November or December I was watching an Instagram Live after the fact and the woman doing the Live was answering questions as she waited for whoever to join and someone in the comments said something about how nice her brows looked.  And I was like, "Wait...what?  She does something with her brows?"  Because honestly, I would have never guessed she penciled in her brows. 

You should note - this Instagram Live had absolutely NOTHING to do with eyebrows. 

So I paused the video and examined her brows closely...as one does.  And then I compared a still shot where her brows were NOT done with the shot where they WERE done (yes, I realize after typing that out I sound completely crazy.  And you aren't completely wrong.) and there was a difference - it was subtle but it was there.

Shortly after that I began to notice other people talking about eyebrows and hearing at least two people say something along the lines of you don't HAVE to do your brows but they are kinda important and make a difference (neither of these people have the exaggerated brows visualized above).

One day, as I was putting on my make-up, I took a hard look at my eyebrows (because, obsessed much?) and determined they were okay BUT I did notice a few white hairs - which couldn't/shouldn't be removed because of placement - were making my brows look "patchy." (Also, as an aside, white eyebrows and eyelashes?  Really?  Like dying my hair isn't enough maintenance?  Not to mention the blow to my dignity?)  I then ordered an eyebrow pencil immediately.

What have I learned from this experiment?  Those ladies were right - you don't NEED to do your eyebrows but if you do it you WILL see a difference.

So - have you studiously ignored your brows all these years?  Or has this been a thing that I have obviously been oblivious to for all of my make-up wearing life?  Dish in the comments.



March 28, 2021

Contemplating the return to "normal"

This past year has slowed down our lives quite a bit, hasn't it?

Yesterday, I went to the empty office, as I usually do every Saturday since this whole pandemic began to change our way of life, to handle those pesky tasks that can't be handled from home.

As I walked through the empty halls, I reflected.  I remembered the recent tweets about missing the children who where back in school, the same people who complained while they where stuck at home with entire families for a year.  I get it.  Having the people under your feet while you try to work and having to home school at the same time; must be extraordinarily difficult; luckily this has not been a problem for me.  But that time spent together was also a boon, as parents don't usually get this intimate look into their children's lives spent at school - and I think some people are realizing that as we edge ever closer to returning to "normal."

Yes, there was a whole year lost.  BUT what did we gain/learn?

We leaned in hard to our immediate family.  We remembered how precious our little families are.  And, how VERY precious those who weren't in our immediate households were...you know, those that aren't exactly family...but yet, they are.

I also learned that the "go, go!" pace of life is stifling; much more stifling than living a more quiet, slow life.  I learned that slowing down to watch the peony bloom and then die back in our backyard is pretty amazing.

I learned that life doesn't necessarily need to be lived primarily in an office.  In fact, when I went into the empty office yesterday, I was only there for forty minutes.  Yep, less than an hour.  Which tells me, but most likely NOT HR, that I can do the majority of my job with minimal time in the office.

I understand that I am not the majority of most of the people I know.  Many of my co-workers are very social and are pining to go back to the office.  But, I imagine, that most of them are also dreading having to wake up at 4:45 am (that's what time I used to get up in order to read the paper, have my coffee and get dressed) and head into the office at the crack of dawn.

I DO miss being able to go out to eat with my friends and colleagues.  I DO miss browsing in a store for no good reason.  Shockingly enough, I don't miss it nearly as much as I thought I would though.  I DO miss going to the movies, plays, concerts, etc. I miss hugging my friends, I miss visiting with them minus the masks.  I miss seeing Man-Child more often...but to be honest, now that he has a new girlfriend, even if everything went back to normal tomorrow, I probably still won't see him as much as I would like.  I would dearly love to have someone cut my hair.  My last cut was in December 2019 where I, famous last words?, said, "Oh the length is fine, I just need a few layers up top." I miss my shoes and some of my clothes - even though we went business casual a couple of years ago and business wear was frowned upon (you weren't embracing the new company "culture" if you insisted on wearing business wear) but I'd sneak in a few of my favorites now and then.  I miss all of those things.

But, when things do go back to normal - I believe our office is hoping to open up at the end of April - I will miss going out to check on the peony's progress as it begins to bud during the day.  I will miss witnessing it open up in an explosion of blooms and going out every other day or so to snip one or two to keep me company as I work.

I will miss being so very productive, work-wise.  When I'm in the office, there are SO many interruptions...phones ringing that need to be answered, random people stopping by to chat or, perhaps, they have something they need to have handled interrupting whatever I am currently working on, pointless (mostly) meetings, dealing with the very few people who made my work life a living hell on a day to day basis (this may have been the best part of the last year; next to zero contact with those people) etc.

I cannot lie, I will also miss having the ability to get a few things done around the house without having to cram it all into the weekend.  Have a minute?  Throw in a load of laundry.  Have another minute or three?  Dust or vacuum the living room.

As crazy as he sometimes makes me, I will miss having lunch with The Husband just about every day (we work too far apart for this happen during a "normal" work week).

Both The Husband and I received our first round of vaccination last week - so when things DO open up completely, we should be safe.  But, as we have both discussed, after all this time neither of us is in a rush to do everything all at once - our routine has been altered and we are seeing some benefit in this un-asked for altering.

As a matter of fact, I have tickets for a concert that was re-scheduled from last year to next month (honestly, I think it will either be re-scheduled or cancelled soon) and even with being vaccinated, if it's not cancelled/re-scheduled, I do not think I will feel comfortable attending...despite the fact that I absolutely love this artist.  If I have to kiss that money spent good-bye, so be it.

So yes, I am looking forward to life returning to "normal" (will it though?  Or have we been changed forever?  These are questions that have not yet been answered.) and will also mourn some of the blessings we had during this past, very trying, year.

March 16, 2021

A mystery...

 On Sunday, The Husband decided to make a large pot of black-eyed peas for the convalescent neighbor two doors down.  And then suggested that I should make some cornbread to accompany his offering. I agreed; particularly since cornbread is a no-brainer recipe.

I pulled out the cookbook - despite the recipe being a no-brainer, it is NOT one that I have memorized, unfortunately.  As I turned to the page where this recipe resides I was met with a surprise.

The entire page was gone.

GONE.

How?  Where?

This book is at least thirty years old and is coming apart at the seams.  Literally.  So, I pulled everything out of the cabinet where the book resides hoping that the page had somehow fallen out and landed behind something.

Nope.

I then rifled through the cookbook itself, thinking maybe the page had fallen out and I had mindlessly shoved it back in randomly without remembering it.

Nope.

Then I remembered, Bonus Daughter had asked that I send her a copy of the recipe about a month or so ago and that page was in the book then.  So I was able to find that email and re-create the recipe; but the question still remains...where is that elusive page?  It's not a random piece of paper with ingredients listed that might have been tossed without a thought.  It's obviously part of a book with multiple recipes on both sides.

Having recovered the recipe, I set the question of where that page might be aside for a moment while I set about making said recipe.  The recipe which I planned on doubling, knowing how many people are in that household.

Which then had me looking around for the second cast iron skillet.  A skillet that is rarely used but was one that I KNEW we had.  As a side note, yes.  A cast iron skillet is perfect for making cornbread.  Of course, you can use any kind of pan; but I prefer to use a cast iron skillet for cornbread.

As I was relaying the news of the missing page to The Husband I was rummaging around looking for that second skillet when he asked, "What are you looking for now?"  I told him and he responded that he had no idea where that skillet might be.

I stopped rummaging around, looked at him and said, "So, you are telling that what we have here is that someone came into this house with the express purpose of stealing that page from the cookbook AND a skillet? "

Mr. Smarty-Pants responded that maybe they were looking to open a cornbread store.

HaHa.

I still have not located that page but The Husband finally admitted that he may have tossed that skillet for some ridiculous reason (HIM, the one who NEVER throws/gives away ANYTHING) - but, it is important to note, he blamed it on ME.  Saying that I'm always saying that we should get rid of things we don't use.  Which, is true, but I don't toss unless it's actual trash.  Otherwise, it gets sent to Goodwill.  And I DO use that pan.  Now, where on earth is that page?!  It's a mystery that will plague me until either I die or find it.

March 7, 2021

Notes from the bunker...

 As you might imagine, life around here has been very quiet - which is welcome after our last brush of excitement, after all that I figure I need to embrace the boring existence.

We have had the tree service out for an estimate and are still reeling from the sticker shock.  I mean, we KNEW it was going to be high...but not quite that high.  But, seeing as this particular company has the equipment to pick up all the trees, feed them into a chipper and drive all the remnants away in one day - well, when you look at it from that angle the estimate seems accurate.

We are hopeful that they can get us on the books for later this week.  Because between you and me?  I'm tired of being flabbergasted all over again when I open the blinds each morning.

My friend's husband was scheduled for shoulder surgery last Friday.  I used this as an opportunity to finally break down and try The Lazy Genius' Absolute Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I have shied away from this recipe for several reasons.  One, because I'm pretty happy with my own recipe.  Two, the dough needs to chill for at least 48 hours.  And three, and this is the big one, the recipe calls for browned butter.  I have never even HEARD of browned butter prior to this recipe.  And it sounds intimidating since, apparently, it can go from browned to burnt fairly quickly.

Now, with all these reasons to NOT make these cookies, why did I choose to go for it?  Mainly, because I kept hearing how amazing these cookies are and I'm trying to move beyond my comfort zone in the baking arena.

So I started the dough last Wednesday afternoon.  And I cannot tell you how much I stressed while browning the butter.  I certainly did not burn it (YAY!) but I have a sneaking suspicion that I didn't brown it enough.  But I powered through and put the cookies in the extra fridge to rest for 48 hours.  

Friday afternoon, I pulled the dough out and started baking.  I cooled the first batch and did a taste test.  Well, that really isn't a fair taste test because ANY chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven is ALWAYS good.  

The true taste test came on Saturday when I had a cookie with my coffee as a treat.  The taste of the cookie IS awesome and I cannot dispute that it is a good cookie.  But...I prefer my chocolate chip cookies to be a little crispier - she prefers a chewier cookie...to each their own.  I think next time, I may make my usual recipe and add the browned butter and see what happens.

At any rate, I sent a big batch down the street to the convalescent and his family and left the remainder at the office for the few people who still go in on a daily basis.

The Husband spent this morning making some food to send down, as my friend is in the trenches, keeping her husband (who has to keep his arm immobile for the next six weeks before he can even think about rehab) comfortable and keeping three children alive.

When I called to let her know we had some food for them, she informed me that all the cookies are already gone.

Once the older two boys showed up at the doorstep to retrieve said food I was told, "Mom ate all the cookies*.  She** wonders if there might be more?"

Unfortunately, there is not.  But I may have promised some treats soon as, obviously, these were a hit two doors down.

I had mentioned my stress over the browned butter on Twitter and friend responded with the news that browned butter in peanut butter cookies is amazing.  After this experience, I can see how that would be outstanding and will be trying that soon.


*I know for a fact she did not.

**I think the "she" in this instance may, in fact, be the boys.

February 25, 2021

Because....of course that's how it would go.

 As we last discussed, I gussied myself up for a dental appointment...only to show up three days early.

Last night, as I prepped for bed, I reminded The Husband that I needed to be up and ready to go this morning.  Accordingly, he set his alarm for his usual time - which would give me PLENTY of time to get ready to be "public" ready.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

This morning, I woke, stretched, looked at the clock and jumped out of bed asking, "Aren't you going to work today?!"

This lead to him jumping out of bed, cursing...because apparently he had an early meeting starting in twenty minutes.  Which meant that my preening would have to wait.  It appears he set his alarm for 6:00 pm and not 6:00 AM.

The difference between the two is...to put it mildly, HUGE.  

He made his meeting.  I made my appointment.  But there was no time for preening.  I showed up with minimal makeup, hair thrown up into a pony tail, of sorts and in a sore need for caffeine.

Am I surprised?

At this point, no.  I am no longer surprised by anything.

So the whole day has been out of whack...which is the way of the world when your day starts off with you running behind.  

Here's hoping tomorrow will be smoother sailing.

February 22, 2021

Monday...the pandemic edition

 I noticed an alarm from my calendar early on Sunday evening.  It informed me that I had a dentist appointment this morning.

Well!  THAT was an exciting adventure to start my Monday!  This morning, after The Husband left for work, I began to get dressed...what?  I was GOING SOMEWHERE to see OTHER PEOPLE.

I washed my hair, did my makeup (more so than I usually do since the pandemic began), I added jewelry AND perfume...something I normally skip these days.  Yes, I still wash my hair, shower and add minimal makeup...but the jewelry and perfume usually, these days, sit on the dresser; unused.

Timing my arrival to the tee, I drove into town.  I was practically giddy...to get my teeth cleaned.

This is where we are now...I accept it.

While driving in, I wondered why I hadn't received an email, text or phone call confirming my appointment.  I swatted that worrying thought away from my brain...despite the fact that I have ALWAYS received a notification at least one business day prior to my appointment.

I pulled into a parking spot, dialed the number, and informed the receptionist that I was here for my appointment.

Whereupon, she informed me that my appointment is actually scheduled for Thursday.  🤦

Because of course it is!

Between you and me, I'm beginning to wonder about my state of mind.

So this is where I am now...

February 15, 2021

My life is either really, really boring or it's NOT - apparently there is no in between.

 Isn't THAT the truth!  If you've been around here for any amount of time, you are nodding along in agreement.

About two years ago, we had a winter "event" that was pretty significant - but apparently, not significant enough to post a follow up.

So, long story short, that event took months to rectify.  Mainly, because The Husband kept insisting he could deal with it.  The pictures, as bad as they were, do not capture just HOW bad it was.

Eventually, he caved and called a company to come deal with the damage.  It was amazing how quickly they dealt with it.  It was also pretty damaging to the wallet.  Talk about un-sexy spending.

At any rate, it was a "once in a lifetime event," correct?

No.

Friday night we plunged into the the freezing range - complete with rain/ice.  So, we weren't too terribly surprised to wake up to no power on Saturday and notice that all the trees were coated with ice.  Thick ice.

But when the tops of the pines, laden with ice, started snapping in the backyard, we started to get nervous.

The first tree to fall is in the foreground.  Those in the
back and on top of the shed came later.

And the snapping noises continued...constantly throughout the day.

Which added to the tension
every time we heard one fall

And then there was a GIANT BOOM!

This tree fell mere feet from the house.


This was just how close to our bedroom.  Thank God it fell the
way it did.

This caused us to gather every single thing we might need from our bedroom/bathroom and move it to the other side of the house - where there aren't any menacing trees - because there was no way we were sleeping in there until danger had passed.

Surveying the damage


Yesterday, he asked that we create a video...which will NOT post no matter how much I beg the internet gods.

But trust me when I say, the damage that the pictures (and video that you can't see) show does not even BEGIN to relate to just HOW bad it is.

The Husband had just made the decision to fix up the shed rather than replace it - now?  Who knows.  From where we stand, we can't see any major damage.  That shed must have some kind of magic spell saving it - with all the trees from the last event and this one and the darn thing is STILL standing.

When we were out there Saturday, we feared that the septic field was damaged - based on the smell.  However, yesterday when we were videoing, the smell was gone - so hopefully we were spared on that front.

Luckily the house was spared and we are safe; so we are counting our blessings.