Hello. It’s Been A While. (A Ten Things of Thankful Post)

It’s a good thing I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to post here more.

Somehow I got out of the habit of delivering any finished product to this page. It’s not for lack of ideas or inspiration; I have a ton of things drafted and scribbled in my notebooks. They somehow just don’t make it to the page. If a messy desk is a sign of genius, I should be producing a whole lot more brilliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s probably more that I got distracted (not that distraction is new for me). It goes without saying that the headlines of late have been pretty overwhelming and that has definitely affected my state of mind. I had to back way off of the Internet and social media. So if I seem absent…I am. On purpose. Let’s call it self-care.

I’ve also been distracted by my physical state lately. There is no question that for the last week I have been in the throes of an active RA flare with a whopper of an eczema flare thrown in for good measure. A result of stress associated with the news? Maybe. Hard to say. At any rate, I’ve been trying to focus on what my mind and body need to be more at peace. It’s only fair to say here how thankful I am that my Hub and Zilla have been more than understanding, even though I’ve been pretty horrid.

So what else has been going on…?

Well, I guess my biggest news is probably that I entered a writing competition. Yup, I did it. I just put up a post about that experience if you want to check that out. If not, then keep moving along…

I actually have been doing a bunch of writing, but so far most of it has been for my eyes only. What will become of these efforts is yet undetermined. But the writing feels good. I have started a ton of things to join my semi-usual link-ups – Six Sentence Stories, Finish the Sentence Friday, and Ten Things of Thankful. But despite those efforts, I haven’t managed to join. I plan to remedy that moving forward.

I’ve also been reading a lot more lately than I have in recent months. More self-care, I suppose. That feels amazing. I read three of Bradbury’s books in a row – Dandelion Wine (a re-read), Farewell Summer (stunning), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (completely creepy in an awesome way). Right now I’m working on finishing The Martian by Andy Weir (loved the movie – book is even better) and I have about five things queued up to hit next.

Absorbing others’ words has been good for my mind and my soul. I’ve joined a couple of writing challenges for 2017 and choosing books for those has been fun and also helped me continue to take advantage of the offerings at my public library. I’m doing a handful of reads for folks I know who have published their books and I’m thinking maybe I’ll review those here on the blog and introduce you to to their work. Stay tuned.

What else?

Thanks in part to the accountability factor provided by the Graviteers, I’ve managed to hit a weight loss goal (again) so I think it’s safe to say that I am steadily working toward my weight loss and health goals. I’ve been walking more regularly and upping my number of steps each day (insert eye roll). That feels good. Next stop: The Bowflex machine. I’m laughing just thinking about it, but sure enough one has joined the team in our basement next to the treadmill and I’m planning to get on there regularly. Weight-bearing exercise is important for women, especially as middle age creeps closer on the horizon. So I’m pretty excited about that.

Kidzilla is kicking butt and taking names with her school work and all related sub-topics. That little girl works so hard and loves learning so much. I love that she sees hard work has tangible rewards. And speaking of school, the Hub is back in school working on a new degree – one more step in this journey of career change that was forced upon us. He’s also doing a fantastic job and just a few weeks in is already ahead of his projected timeline for this term. I am so proud of both of them. Shameless gushing. <3

I’m happy to report I’ve found my groove again in the kitchen. I don’t know what happened, but I feel like I pulled away from cooking anything decent at home and we resorted to bring-home or go-to options far too often over the last several weeks. Granted, the holidays are a strange time and then we were all so sick during and right after Christmas and into January, so maybe that’s just it. But even with my flares lately I’ve been happily tossing pots and pans around in the kitchen again. We’ve tried some new things and I’ve gotten back in my habit of rolling leftover parts of one meal into the next.

We’ve had pinto bean tacos with cabbage slaw, oven-baked lime butter cod served with the leftover slaw, some awesome Mexican street corn as a side – that was delicious. We tried mujadara – lentils and brown rice with caramelized onions – which is a new favorite here. Red beans and rice are always warming and satisfying, Salisbury meatballs were a hit for my meatball-lover daughter. Up tonight is a basic roast chicken because I’m out of chicken broth and need to make some. So I’m out to get that little bugger in the oven. Besides, I think I’ve rambled on here quite long enough.

I haven’t counted or numbered, but I’m certain I have at least ten things in here. For these and for so many more…I am thankful.

I’ve missed chatting with all of you here. What’s new and exciting in your life? What have you been doing the last few weeks? How are your self care habits? Talk to me…

 

Two Days of Rest – #10Thankful

Sunday evening again. My least favorite time to write a TToT post.

Why, then, does it seem that I’m always doing mine on Sunday evening?

I thought I might skip this week because I have been sick. The yearly mandatory bout with bronchitis. I tried not to let it get away from me. But it did. It always does. I think I just have to concede that I have a chronic bronchitis thing and be done with it.

But let’s commence with the thankfulness because, honestly, I have too big a headache to give this much of my energy. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.

So first off, I’m thankful that I’m writing this at all. There, I said it.

Frozen homemade spaghetti sauce with cleaned and prepped fresh broccoli, all courtesy of our wonderful CSA membership. This means my family got a good dinner and I didn’t have to do much work (or cough all over it) to get the job done.

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I’m thankful that I didn’t tell off someone who really irritated me this weekend. Considering my level of crankiness due to being sick, that’s not bad. And I’m so very grateful for my mom’s friendship and guidance in that situation and in all others, always.

I have not made much tangible progress with my NaNoWriMo projects this week once we got past day one. But. I’ve been planning and plotting and doing some reading and research so as soon as I kick this germ out of me once and for all – or at least enough that I can concentrate on writing – I’ll forge ahead and hopefully catch up. And hey, I didn’t go bonkers and decide I’m a failed writer because I got behind the eight ball, like instantly. OK, maybe once. A little. But I moved on.

Here’s a little convoluted hypo-gratitude for you: I’m thankful that I’ve had bronchitis enough times to know exactly what my doctor would tell me to do and that I had all supplies and treatments on hand already. I caved and started the antibiotic this afternoon, but it was clear that we had reached that point. And I’m glad I had some at the ready in the medicine cupboard.

For hot tea and the Hub’s amazing coffee and all other manner of warm drinks to soothe my body and soul, I am grateful. For a pile of good books to plow through curled up in bed or on a chair or on a couch. For enjoying a beautiful autumn day (twice) from just inside the sliding glass doors while plowing through books. For my Hub and Zilla for being perfectly happy to have an at-home weekend while I’m sick and for the fact that we were planning that anyway since last week was crammed full. For the best snuggles ever with my Zilla. For tissues.

I am thankful.

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Hidden Richness – A Soup of the Week Post

I used to hate eggplant.

I think it has something to do with an overcooked eggplant Parmesan somewhere in my youth. But eggplant being much like anything else, once we have a bad experience, we tend to forever loathe and avoid the offending situation – or vegetable, as the case may be.

Since joining our local CSA a couple of years ago, I’ve rediscovered eggplant. When vegetables show up in the farm share each week, I feel morally obligated to like them, or at least find a way to live with them. And so I’ve experimented with ways to enjoy eggplant, most of them successful. I even made an eggplant Parm that wasn’t too bad.

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Last week, my husband brought home two aubergine beauties from the farm (not the ones in the photo – this week’s were much darker) and I immediately planned to make eggplant Parmesan for my mom. Life got in the way and it didn’t happen. If you know anything about eggplants, you know that you need to use those babies within a day or two or you end up with a very unattractive not-so-aubergine mass on your counter or in your fridge.

Since they were still perfectly edible but just this side of too soft for eggplant parm, I searched for another way to make that eggplant disappear. And I had to feed it to my Hub and Kidzilla – both professed non-eggplanters, despite many efforts to convert them.

Sigh.

As luck would have it, I found this recipe for Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup with Fresh Herbs over at Sumptuous Spoonfuls. (Via Pinterest, of course, because where else do you go to figure out what to do with soft eggplant?) The post promised the eggplant would disappear into the soup, leaving behind only a delightful buttery finish, not the taste of eggplant.

Sold!

And so I made it. And the Hub and Zilla ate it. Twice. They genuinely liked it. As I was dishing up the leftover soup the following night, I got to thinking about soup and life…because that’s what I do.

Sometimes life hands us the beautiful and everything goes as planned. We get the job we hoped for, complete the project, or lose that ten pounds. And other times we are left with slightly soft eggplant. It’s usable, but perhaps not desirable. Rather than toss those declining eggplants, perhaps we can find a way to repurpose and transform them into something delicious. (Can you tell I watched Chopped last night?)

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The eggplant did indeed disappear into the soup. You could tell it wasn’t straight-up conventional tomato soup, but it was delicious. It turned out sort of buttery and elegant, with a hidden richness that tomatoes alone would not provide.

Maybe life is like that, too – not quite what we expect or plan and not quite perfect, but with an underlying richness that comes from embracing all of the imperfections we encounter along the way.

Serve this soup with a fresh green salad and some rustic crusty bread for a light and satisfying dinner. And the next time life hands you some not-so-perfect eggplant, consider what richness you can create with what you have been given.

Mangiare bene vivere felici!

Eat well and live happy!

 

#10Thankful – Another Year Older

So my blog and I both had birthdays this week.

My blog is four years old. Imagine that. And me? Well, I’m four and then some. Birthdays have a way of prompting retrospection, don’t they. At least for me. I often find myself reflective around birthdays – take time to consider where I’ve been, where I’m going…just think.

So for starters, I’m thankful for another year of life and one that has brought many changes and surprises. It’s been a year of progress (my One Word, as I recall) and that is always a good thing. I spent time on my birthday with the people closest and most dear to me. I received many thoughtful cards and messages and gifts – all of which really touched me in so many ways. And the Hub started the day off by leaving me several little birthday notes in places he knew I’d find them. Too cute.

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I am thankful for CSA produce! I know I put that on here every week lately, but it really is awesome. I love having the fresh produce straight off our local organic farm fields. And it makes meal prep kind of easy, too. The ingredients are supplied; I just have to put my creativity to use and figure out how to use them.

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This week we had another round of the sugar snap pea pasta we had last week. It was delicious. Again.

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The new carpet on the stairs remains (knock wood) unspoiled by Rotten Cat deposits. We are very happy for that. And the dark color keeps the stairs from looking filthy the minute one of the Rottens drops even one black hair on it. I suppose the down side to that is that it’s easier to forget to vacuum…but we’re working on that not being the case.

I am thankful for things like Shark Week and Hallmark’s Keepsake Ornament week during which they show Christmas movies on TV in July and fireworks and summer theatre excursions…all the things we enjoy together as a family that help maintain and strengthen the bonds we already share.

We’ve accomplished a few more small projects around the house this week and have plans in place for many more as the summer unfolds. Maybe it’s a throwback to my years as a teacher or just to having time off from school in the summer as a kid, but to me summer is the time to work on projects and improvements. I’m not much of a spring cleaner, but summer gets me going.

I am very glad to be tackling at least one of my writing projects this month. Yup, I signed up for the CampNaNoWriMo thing during July and have committed to getting a few of the books I want for my kids’ book series written, edited, and illustrated before summer is over. My goal is to start shopping for some readers and (hopefully) a publisher come fall.

I’ve also been doing a tremendous amount of reading just for pleasure, something I used to do quite voraciously and over time due to college and work and marriage and work and buying a house and having a kid and grad school and just all the things I fell out of the habit. I have a huge list and pile of things I want to read and I’m so very happy to be working my way through.

I am always thankful for Kidzilla and the Hub. They are my loves, my life, and they make every day beautiful.

And now I am thankful to finish this list and get on to other things. I didn’t do so well at getting around to read other posts last week (sorry!) so I hope to do a better job in that department this time around. It won’t be until after the long holiday weekend, though, for sure. We’ll be off doing…

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Your turn – what are you thankful for this week? What are your favorite summer activities and habits? You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the posts in the link-up by clicking that blue button down there.

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TToT – On the Mend

I was really prepared this week.

I had my TToT drafted and pretty much ready to go on Friday morning already. FRIDAY MORNING, people! That never happens.

I said to myself, “Self, you can post this quick later tonight. You need to grab your keys and get your butt out of here.” And then…stuff started happening. We got busy doing things. Which I suppose can be my first item on the list, right? I can be thankful that my life is full and busy and happy to the point that I forget to get on the computer.

 

Gina's Coffee and Books

 

And I guess item number two can be that I am finally starting to feel better after nearly three weeks of this respiratory nonsense I’ve had going on. I ended up miserable and coughing and sneezing AGAIN all week this week. Good grief.

But let’s get to the list that I had prepared and ready to go, shall we? Continue reading “TToT – On the Mend”

TToT – The Never-Ending Cold

I still have a cold.

I think this must be the cold from hell, brought on by the unbelievably inconsistent weather here – unseasonably mild, then sub-zero wind chills, then up into the 30s, then down to the teens, then up to nearly 60 degrees, then a plummet to the 20s. No wonder my head is a mess.

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I’ve done all the home remedies – sick tea, my new favorite sick soup. Nothing is working so far – unless it’s all keeping it from getting worse, which I suppose can be Thankful #1 this week. How’s that for a silver lining?

Spring can come any time. Continue reading “TToT – The Never-Ending Cold”

TToT – The Stuff of Distraction

Sometimes I get distracted.

Last weekend, I intended to post a second TToT because I had all the things to be thankful for. Then I forgot where I wrote them.

I found a draft in my drafts folder. It may or may not be the intended second TToT. Either way, I’m going to snag the couple of items here, add to it, and call it a day.

Thankful number one is a lovely photo of our CSA farm’s flower garden…how lovely is this place? Immediately behind the flower section are the vegetable sections. Part of our benefit there is we can pick our own from different sections each week. Can’t say any of us love the part where there are bugs around, but we do OK for a bunch of bug-o-phobes. And while I’d love to tell you we bring home bouquets of these gorgeous blooms each week, the truth is that we do not. Our allergies are just too bad and they make us miserable. So we enjoy them where they grow.

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Continue reading “TToT – The Stuff of Distraction”

TToT – The Week of Summer Insanity

This has been a crazy week.

And this TToT is going to be the fastest, shortest, latest, and most dependent upon the graces of the SGV that I’ve ever posted.

Zilla had a full week of activities, which means that I did as well. Here’s what life looked like… (hold onto your hats because it’s a pretty wild ride) Continue reading “TToT – The Week of Summer Insanity”

TToT – Birthdays and Life, Part 2

It’s birthday time again!

Well, it was. Tuesday was my birthday and it was quite possibly the most absurd one I’ve had in a while – maybe ever.

The day started off fine and quite as usual with a Happy Birthday text from Super Sister at 12:01 AM. Always. I love it. I am thankful for that little ping on my phone in the middle of the night every year. Later in the day, I got to see my Mom for a while. It always feels kind of right to spend some time with the person who is responsible for getting you here. I’m thankful for my Mom for so many reasons.

We still have balloons left from Zilla’s birthday celebration a couple of weeks ago. Yay. It’s been kind of birthday central here all month, so that was cool. I can be thankful for decorations that were already in place and make the house feel fun and festive!

20150612_122128[1] Continue reading “TToT – Birthdays and Life, Part 2”

TToT – Simple Practicality

There is nothing quite so satisfying as practical wisdom.

While I suppose it’s presumptuous to call myself “wise,” I can at least admit honestly that I found several occasions this week that called for some practical application of knowledge and somehow I got it right!

And in the spirit of being practical, I need to be quick about this because I’m late to publish and I have a list of things to do yet after this post. So let’s be about the business of thankfulness, shall we? Continue reading “TToT – Simple Practicality”