Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Combining two recipes to make one tasty dinner!

I'm not a hugely creative cook.

I'm getting better these days, though. When I first started out, I was terrified to make any substitutions. If I didn't follow exactly what the recipe said, my dish was doomed to fail, I was sure, and I would be left dinnerless and sobbing on the kitchen floor, a ruined mess of a defeated cook, never to attempt even the most basic recipe ever again.

Well, something close to that, anyway. I really don't like screwing up.

But over the years, I've learned when I can deviate from a recipe, what goes well together and what I can switch out for something else, fortunately without a lot of epic fails. Books like Kathleen Flinn's The Kitchen Counter Cooking School helped me realize that cooking is an art, and it helped me find my confidence as more of a wing-it home cook. (Truly, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's a delightful read, mixing both cooking information with the wonder of students discovering true cooking for the first time. I absolutely loved every page and was sad when the book ended. Five shiny gold stars for this inspirational book!) I'm still not great at creating recipes entirely from scratch, although I've definitely improved on that front.

So this week, I was throwing together a list of what I could make out of what I had on hand and what I'd be picking up at the grocery store, and one recipe that came to mind was The Prudent Homemaker's Chicken Fried Steak (which isn't steak at all, and we referred to as 'fake'. It's perfect for us, as I'm vegetarian). I'd never made this before, but it's been on my Pinterest for ages, so hey, why not tackle it and see how it turns out? I read through the recipe and paused when I got to the part about cream of mushroom soup.

Now, I'm not a picky eater whatsoever. I love trying new things, provided they fit in my dietary guidelines, but cream of mushroom soup, for me, is a hard no. Hmph. So I pondered over this, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit it took me a few days to come up with a decent substitute. I thought about making a white sauce and adding some sautéed mushrooms and garlic but was worried it wouldn't be thick or hearty enough, and then I thought about the recipe again and realized it probably needed a little more protein to make us feel full. And in the car, on the way from picking my son up from a friend's house, I got it.

White Bean Gravy! YES!!!!!!!

White Bean Gravy has been a family favorite for ages. I usually season it with rosemary, sage, thyme (no parsley, though; my apologies to Simon and Garfunkel), fennel, and pepper, and if I have mushrooms on hand, I'll sautée them and toss them in too. I usually serve it all over chunks of homemade bread, and it's wonderful and carby and comforting and delicious. White Bean Gravy would go perfectly in this, and I even had mushrooms.



I got the White Bean Gravy going first; it's super easy and comes together quickly, and then I got working on the chicken-fried 'fakes.' The mixture was a little wet and I needed to add a few extra handfuls of oatmeal, but they smelled and tasted wonderful once they came out of the frying pan (I had to try a few pieces, right?).



Since salad was on sale at Aldi this week, we had two bags of salad in the fridge, so I chopped up some veggies to toss in, and whipped up a lovely Italian dressing (The Kitchen Counter Cooking School absolutely convinced me that homemade salad dressing is the way to go. I've since stopped buying all bottled dressings. It saves money and as an added bonus, there are no preservatives or food colorings). After I picked my husband up, I threw everything together, and...



Pretty? Absolutely not! I'm about the worst food photographer (and regular photographer) ever to wield a cell phone camera, but it was delicious, it was made with ingredients I had on hand (no last minute trips to the store!), I figured out a solution to make the recipe work for me, and I've added a new recipe to my repertoire. I call that an all-around win!

Are you a genius in the kitchen? Or are you more timid like I used to be, and still am to an extent?



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Monday, July 16, 2018

Weekly recap 7/16/2018: Spending time in Door County, Wisconsin

I'm back! What. A. Week!!!! Are you ready for a LOT of vacation pictures???

As I mentioned last time, this week was a little different. Almost every summer, my mother takes my children and me on a trip. In the past, we've visited Indiana Beach in Monticello, Indiana; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Traverse City, Michigan. This year, she called me up and said, "Hey, what do you have going on next week? Wanna go to Door County in Wisconsin?" Of course we did! So we packed up, and Monday morning we hit the road.

Of course I made good use of my time in the car:




On the ride up, at around lunch time, we were reminiscing about last year's trip to Traverse City, and how we stopped at a restaurant called Pizza Ranch on the way there. We'd never heard of Pizza Ranch before and assumed it was just kind of a local thing. When my daughter announced she was hungry right outside of Sheboygan, we began scrutinizing the signs for a place to stop. (I'm vegetarian, so some places are better than others for me to eat at.) We passed by one sign and the choices didn't impress me, so we drove on. The next sign, I began reading off the options. "Subway, McDonald's...OMG PIZZA RANCH!!!!" My son, who absolutely loved Pizza Ranch, was like, "WHAT?????????"

We had no idea it was a chain!


It was indeed Pizza Ranch, and a tasty lunch was had by all. After that, back on the road again!

We arrived in Door County in the afternoon and checked into our hotel, then drove around Sturgeon Bay and picked up a few things Target and Walmart (who knew swim floaties could be so hard to find?). We had a fantastic dinner at a local Mexican restaurant: 

My daughter and I shared, and we still had leftovers. This was sooooooo good.


And then my son and daughter went swimming in our hotel's outdoor pool. BRRRRRRR!!!! My mother and I stayed along the edges. WAY too cold for us.

The next day, we visited a cute store with great food (lots of delicious samples to try) and Door County gifts. The giant apple outside was adorable!



The store also had a Little Free Library! These things are all over Door County; quite a few of the hotels had their own. How awesome is that? Made my reader heart very happy. :)

After that, we headed into Fish Creek. They have an adorable downtown with a lot of kitschy little shops, all local. We visited quite a few of them, and then took in some local history by visiting the Alexander Noble house


The elderly gentleman docent was incredibly knowledgeable about the home, the history, and the area. Their current exhibit here is "A House in Mourning," and it's set up to show the mourning customs of the Victorian area. Very, very interesting, and the family who originally lived there produced some really innovative women for the times- one was a pharmacist, another was a doctor and pilot. Go Nobles! And I had to take a picture of the kitchen. Check out this stove: 

I can't even imagine cooking on this thing.


Afterwards, we went mini golfing. 

An unconventional putting stance, but it worked for her!


Have you ever seen a mini golf course without tadpoles? Me neither.

Hey there, little buddy!


We found some interesting lawn sculptures:




And then we headed into Death's Door Maritime Museum.


I had no idea of the history of this area- I'd never even heard of Death's Door before- and it's truly fascinating. So many shipwrecks, lives lost and fortunes destroyed. I'm definitely going to look into reading more about Door County's history, because I found it unbelievably interesting (if anyone has any suggestions for further reading and learning, I'm all ears! I thought a lot about Loreen Niewenhuis's A 1000 Mile Walk on the Beach during our time here). A few pics of some of the interesting info from the museum:





That evening was our last night in Sturgeon Bay, so we took a walk down by the water near our hotel. Lovely view!



There was also a mama duck with a flock of babies. One quack from her and the baby that was charging off on its own would hurry back. I need to take lessons from her!



Wednesday was our beach day! My daughter was thrilled, she loves the beach. My son hates sand, but went along anyway. On the recommendation of a hotel employee, we headed to Peninsula State Park, and it was wonderful.

Ahhhhhhh. So relaxing! Let's not talk about my sunburn.


Last year in Traverse City, we watched people paddleboarding. I'd never seen it before and was intrigued. I didn't try it at the time; I was worried it would be too hard on my back, but this year, after my mom and son went hydrobiking, I leaped at the chance to try paddleboarding with my son.

It was a little weird at first. My first thoughts were along the lines of, "WHO INVENTED THIS AND WHY??? AND HOW DOES EVERYONE ELSE LOOK SO STEADY???" A yacht drove by us and the water got wavy enough that I sat down and paddled like that for a while (and my son stayed down the rest of the time). After the water calmed, though, I thought, "You know, I may not ever be able to do this again, so I might as well go for the full experience." Up I stood, and I stood the rest of the time! It felt a lot more steady, and I found it soooooooo relaxing. If I lived in a place where I could paddleboard regularly, I'd be out there every night.


C'est moi! :)

I'm so, so glad I got to have this experience! If you get the chance, try it, it's really a lot of fun and seriously relaxing.

On the way back, we drove by Al Johnson's Swedish restaurant, more commonly known as the restaurant with the goats on the roof. No goats out when we were there, but it was still neat to see.

It was pretty hot when we were here, so hopefully the goats were cool inside.


The next day was rainy. We were hoping to take a boat tour of Death's Door's shipwrecks, and fortunately, the rain paused long enough that we could indeed go out. This. Was. Crazy. So, one of the reasons that the water there is so very dangerous is that the area is part of the Niagara Escarpment, which goes all the way from Wisconsin to New York (isn't this fascinating???). And those cliffs that are at the edge of the water are also UNDER Lake Michigan!!! I had no idea. So as we were bobbing along out in the lake, I was watching the depth changes on the screen that measured it. At one point, it went from 143 feet deep to 24 feet deep!!!! I gasped out loud, and the tour guide was like, "Yup, it changes in an instant out here." The captain pointed out a buoy that marked a dangerous spot: on one side of the buoy was a depth of 20 feet; on the other, 4 feet. A lot of ships wrecked at that point. The last commercial shipwreck happened in the late 80's, but the currents are so wild out there (again, because of those sudden depth changes!) that the guide said they lose unsuspecting kayakers out there every year.

We were fortunate enough to be able to tour Plum Island, one of the small uninhabited islands off the tip of the peninsula. 

The boat house.


There's an old building on the island where victims of shipwrecks used to be taken and held until the water had calmed enough to get them back to the mainland. It's being restored now, and when we were there, the roof was being fixed. 



And a few pictures of the water and waves. The weather was gray and ugly, but the island and lake were still gorgeous.





The boat ride there and back was extremely bumpy. I would've liked to have taken pictures of that, but I was hanging onto my daughter with one arm and clutching the side of the boat with the other so we didn't fling out! My daughter, ever adventurous, loved every second of it...until she fell asleep on the way back. Too much vacation! :)

We had a quiet night in the hotel that night, and the next morning, we had breakfast at Fika. Their cardamom rolls are fantastic, if you're ever there. YUM.

'A watched kettle never boils,' it says in Swedish. So cute!


 And that was it! We headed home after that, to the land of three loads of vacation laundry and unpacking the bathroom bag (all of which was accomplished immediately; I hate vacation stuff sitting around). 

Saturday was a rough day. The car trip home was a lot longer than going, and I don't know if I was sitting in a different position or what, but my back was absolutely terrible. I was having a hard time walking, and at one point, I wasn't actually sure I could get my left leg into bed. Fun times! I spent most of the day icing and heating my back. Sunday, I still woke up in pain, but it got better as the day went on.

And hey, remember when I said I made good use of my time in the car on our vacation to Door County?

I wasn't joking!


Twelve! Twelve dishcloths! Ah ah ah! /Count von Count voice. My mom was the driver for the trip, so every time the car was in motion, so were my needles. I've got one more solid colored dishcloth on my needles, and then I'll use the scraps to make one or more multicolored cloths. Any remaining scraps will go into other scrap projects. Not a bad start on some gifts, although I obviously still need to finish ends. I also knocked a book off of my Goodreads To Read list, so yay for that!

And there we go! That was my exciting week in Door County, Wisconsin. Have you been there? I'd love to hear your experiences. I adored it and wouldn't mind visiting again someday. :)


Monday, July 9, 2018

Weekly update: 7/9/2018

When a holiday falls smack in the middle of the week, it makes for an odd week, doesn't it? I had a strange mixture of extremely productive...and, well, not as productive. Let's take a look back at my week, shall we?

MONDAY

This was a pretty good day! It started out with a drop-off trip to the thrift store, where I unloaded a whole trunk full of outgrown clothing and toys. SO nice to get all that junk out of my house and hopefully into the hands of someone else who can use it. My daughter and I followed that up with a quick trip to Costco, where we bought such exciting things as toilet paper and bulk garlic (I'm nothing if not relentlessly practical!). When we returned home, I cleaned, did a little bit of writing (226 words), and read a book from my Goodreads To Read list before getting a text from a friend, wondering if we wanted to have an impromptu park playdate. We sure did, so I threw dinner together (a homemade pizza, using some of that spaghetti sauce from last week, and the food processor dough recipe from The Complete Tightwad Gazette) and then we were off. My daughter played with a friend, and I hung out with the friend's mom. It was a super fun way to spend an afternoon. After dinner, I read and did some editing.

TUESDAY

OOF. 

The stupidest thing about chronic pain conditions is that one day can be great, and the next day you can feel like you were run over by a semi. There's just no rhyme or reason to any of it, and this was one of those days. My daughter and I ran a bank errand, and by the time we got home, I. Was. Hurting. I spent the day icing and heating my back, reading a book from my To Read list while my daughter played around me. The icing and heating (and Celebrex) helped, fortunately, and I was able to go to the day-early Independence Day parade and fireworks with my husband and daughter.

 You'd never know we're a suburb of a major city.


"No, really, guys, we farm here! Totally!"
I'll spare you pictures of the horse poop that lay right in front of us. Hurray, not-really-small-town-farm-life!




Wednesday
Time for a family get-together! We had a lovely meal with relatives, and while our children played together and the adults visited, I worked on my stripey blanket. I save up all the scraps from other knitting projects and turn them into a massive knitted blanket. For this particular blanket (my third), I'm doubling up scrap yarn with some very thin peach yarn I bought at a thrift store. I have a TON of it and it's not great for much else, so into the blanket it goes. 

So stripey!

Once the blanket is longer than I am tall, I'll bind off. It's great mindless knitting, perfect for taking places where I'm chatting with others but don't need to concentrate much on what I'm doing. During my daughter's naptime, I finished one GoodReads book and started another, and then started a list of potential Christmas gifts for family members. It's early, but I like to make gifts, so it's never too early to start that!

THURSDAY

Despite starting off on the wrong foot (ANT INVASION IN THE KITCHEN!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO. MANY. ANTS), this turned out to be a great day. I took my son to the doctor, ran errands, did Reading and Geography lessons with my daughter, and then I practiced the piano. During her nap, I prepared Slow Cooker Red Lentil Stew with Chickpeas and Orzo, but since it was already 2 pm, I tossed it all in the Instant Pot and cooked it on Manual for about 16 minutes. Do you have an Instant Pot? This thing has saved my butt so many times when it comes to dinner. Instead of picking up a five dollar pizza from Aldi or grabbing something frozen (or worse, going out to eat!), I just chop stuff up, toss it in, poke a few buttons, and dinner is ready to go without much fuss. We got ours on Black Friday two years ago or so, and it's absolutely been worth every single penny. The stew was fabulous, and I added some spinach that needed to be used up. 10/10, my daughter loved it, and I'll definitely make it again.

After I finished throwing dinner together, I did some writing (1000 words, woohoo!), and then we had a MASSIVE storm that both scared the crap out of me and knocked our internet out, so I read a book from my To Read list (which I later finished, hurray!). After dinner, I ran to the library to pick up a book from interlibrary loan, read a little bit of another To Read book, and started knitting a Christmas gift dishcloth.

Whooooaaaaa, we're halfway there...


FRIDAY

Yard sales this week were a dud- they usually are on holiday weeks- so my daughter and I came home and did Reading and Geography lessons, and I practiced piano. During her naptime, I whipped up dinner (lentil loaf and roasted cauliflower. I used the rest of that homemade spaghetti sauce and it worked perfectly in this recipe! This is a fantastic recipe, by the way, and it's awesome on sandwiches the next day, with ketchup). After dinner, I mowed the lawn, where I discovered our newest little veggie friends, and then watched TV with my husband after my daughter went to bed. 


SATURDAY

Ahoy matey! Husband and daughter and I went canoeing at a local forest preserve. I was the back-of-the-canoe steering paddler, which was...interesting...at first. I got the hang of it quickly, though, and we had a great time. My daughter wasn't so thrilled with it, but hopefully she'll enjoy it more as she gets bigger. My best friend had her wedding reception that evening, so my mother came to babysit, and my husband and I got to get dressed up and have conversations that weren't interrupted every three seconds with demands to play Thomas the Tank Engine, so that was fantastic.

Plus we got to walk by this famous sign in person!



SUNDAY

A day of cleaning, laundry, ferrying my son places, and packing. This upcoming week, I'll be traveling with my mother and children, so getting things done will look a little different, but hopefully I'll have some pretty pictures to show you when I get back.


Goodreads To Read List: 167 books
Writing: ~1226 words, give or take a bit
I hope your week is fantastic! How have you gotten it done this week?



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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Produce for nothing, and your kicks for free.

It's rare in life that we get something for nothing.

Two years ago, my son was out mowing the lawn. I was also out in the backyard playing with my daughter, and when the mower stopped, I figured it had run out of gas. But there was a brief pause before my son called, "Mom? Am I supposed to mow over these things?"

 Well then.

I joined him by the side of the compost bin, where he stood staring at the ground, and was shocked to find two cantaloupes tucked away in the unmowed, overgrown grass. Seeds scattered from the composted remains of an on-sale cantaloupe must've made their way outside the compost bin and taken root in the fertile ground there. Since my son wasn't exactly an enthusiastic lawn mower, the melons had grown, undisturbed and unnoticed, for quite some time. They weren't ready to be eaten quite yet, but I answered my son's questions with an resounding, "NO! Holy crap, we're growing compostaloupes!"

We ended up with four surprise compostaloupes, juicy and sweet and kind of amazing for something we didn't plant, didn't water, didn't tend to in any way. As I'm not a huge cantaloupe fan, my husband and children enjoyed them, while I enjoyed that they were nourished by something that appeared out of nowhere. Hurray for free food!

So.

You know where this is going, right?

Two nights ago, I was mowing the lawn. (I've since taken over the job; the last time my son mowed, it set his allergies off in a bad way, and as it turns out, I'm really great at mowing. Our lawn looks fantastic!) It was a pleasant evening, cool and sunny, and I'd been enjoying the task at hand. I had finally begun the home stretch, circling the mower back by the compost pile, when I began reminiscing about those compostaloupes from two years ago. 'Haha,' I thought to myself as I pushed the mower closer to the compost bin. 'Remember those compostaloupes? That was so funny. Wouldn't it be funny if we were growing something agai-'

Well then. Again.

And there we were, yet again. 

Not compostaloupes this year.

Compostomatoes.

Two of them, in fact, and each plant already has several flowers.

I continued to mow, careful not to disturb my new little friends, laughing the whole time. 

It's not often that we get something for nothing. Sometimes, we don't even get something for something; often, hard work goes unnoticed and unappreciated. But on occasion, every once in a while, we get a gift that we didn't have to work for, a tiny reminder of the goodness of life, small and green and perfect.

May your day be full of compostaloupes and compostomatoes. 


Friday, July 6, 2018

Things I Love: The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn

Have you ever had the course of your life completely altered by a book?


This was that book for me.

I was 19 or 20 the first time I read it. I'd always been frugal, saving my money for things that I really wanted and frequenting thrift stores and yard sales, but as an adult, I was surprised to learn that there were whole online communities of people out there like me. Entire online forums devoted to the practice of saving money? Sign. Me. Up. And then someone mentioned The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. They referred to this book as the bible of frugality, and of course, my penny-pinching brain was intrigued. Off to the library I trotted, and I came home with the hefty book tucked proudly under my arm.

My mind was blown by this book. Here was a woman who knew how to Get Things Done. She cooked from scratch (even when the pantry looked bare), sewed her six children Halloween costumes (out of a surplus of black fabric, so they could be whatever they wanted as long as it was something black), threw a party decorated with what was basically scraps from the trash and recycling bin... The list went on and on and I'd never been so impressed with anything in my life. I wanted to be just like Amy, and I set about incorporating her ways and ideals into my life.

And over the past *coughcoughletsnottalkaboutnumbers* years, I've done my best to live up to those ideals. I cook, bake, craft from cheap or free materials, decorate with what I have on hand and what I can scavenge inexpensively. I use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without, and so much of what I've learned has come from this wonderful book. It has a place of honor with my cookbooks and I pull it out several times a week to reference a recipe or thumb through for a tip on some topic or the other. Usually once every year, I'll sit down and page through the entire thing for frugality inspiration, to get myself back in the mindset of doing it myself.

Several of the recipes (the food processor pizza dough, Create-A-Muffin recipe, Real Tightwads Eat Quiche, Tuna Cheddar Chowder) have become staples around here. I learned to always compare unit pricing thanks to Amy, I got in the habit of creating my kids' Halloween and dress up costumes because of her, and I've used countless tips and hints throughout the book to make my home and daily life run easier. The Complete Tightwad Gazette absolutely made me the homemaker that I am.

This book is frugality inspiration between two covers. Has the book aged over the years? Of course. Some of the articles- healthcare, long distance plans, if you really need the internet at home- aren't exactly relevant these days, but the vast majority of the book has held up surprisingly well. Frugality is a mindset, and while you might not need to sew Halloween costumes out of leftover black fabric or find a use for your baby's old crib, it's still ridiculously inspiring to read about how Amy did those things, and it puts the reader in the mindset of, "What can I use up around here? How can I improve my quality of life using only the things I already own?"

If you've never checked this book out before, RUN, don't walk, to your local library. I suggest that first, but if you're anything like me, you're going to want your own copy (I'm on my THIRD. Yes, THIRD copy of this book. That's how useful it's been to me!). Amy Dacyczyn is a Woman Who Gets It Done, and I'm proud to say that she taught me how to Get It Done, too.







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Monday, July 2, 2018

Weekly recap 7/2/2018

Hoo boy.

Did you ever have a period of time in your life where you just wish for a regular week?

That's about where I am right now.

Let's get down to business on Stephanie's weekly recap! *cue confetti and balloons* (What can I say, I grew up on 80's/90's game shows.)

MONDAY
I took my son to his second-to-last day of school, then ran home to reschedule the vaccine appointment he was supposed to go to (which I originally scheduled before I knew his summer school schedule). They allowed me to reschedule even though the appointment was in two hours, so that was good (no one was there for me to reschedule over the weekend). I washed and hung the laundry out to dry, ran the dishwasher, then did Reading and Geography lessons with my daughter. I finished reading a novel from my shelves (meh) and also finished reading Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers!!! Excitement!!! That night, I sat down to write and finished with 370 words. A pretty productive day!

TUESDAY
I dropped my son off at school for his last day, then did Reading and Geography lessons with the girl. I practiced the piano while she played, and then we headed to the library. And then...

Backtrack time. I have degenerative disc disease. The discs in my back are jerks and like to break down faster than everyone else's discs. They slip, slide, herniate, cause nerve pain that runs down my legs, it's generally a miserable experience all around. Some days are close to normal; other days, I'm considering taking a chainsaw and liberating my body below the ribcage, the pain is so bad.

Tuesday was one of those days. I was a little painy before we left the house, but by the time we were getting ready to leave the library to pick up my son, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it out to the car. Not a good thing to worry about when you've got a four year-old and a heavy bag of books. I did make it, and my son was kind enough to get my daughter out of the car and carry the books inside. I spent my daughter's nap time icing my back and watching Love Between the Covers on Netflix (a documentary about romance novels and some of the authors who write them). Highly recommended! Despite my pain, I had to pick up another interlibrary loan book from the library that night before dropping my son off at a friend's house, but when I came home, I sat down to write and pounded out 751 words. Score!

WEDNESDAY
UGH. The pain was bad, bad, bad that day, and I skipped grocery shopping because of it. I did Reading and Geography lessons with the girl and spent the rest of the day reading a book from my Goodreads list.

THURSDAY
I woke up early and added the French vocab from the final chapter of Harry Potter into my Anki app. We got the grocery shopping done, slowly, then I carefully cleaned the house of the mess that had built up the past two days. We stopped by the library, I cooked dinner (including making the homemade sandwich rolls that I'd forgotten to grab at the store, for the roasted eggplant-tomato-basil sandwiches I was making for dinner. YUM). After dinner, I sat down to write and came out with less than 100 words. I. Was. Exhausted. The thing with chronic pain is that you forget that you're already starting quite a ways before the start line. It takes a lot more effort to do things on painy days than it would if I weren't already struggling, and so on days when I'm not feeling well, I really wear down. I fell asleep in my chair when my husband and daughter were watching My Little Pony and barely had the energy to hold my book open after that.

FRIDAY
My daughter and I visited some local yard sales in the morning. I found a rug to place underneath my piano bench for a dollar, so that made me happy. I studied and completed the French vocabulary from Harry Potter using the Anki app, and in the afternoon, we went to the library, where we ran into some friends (one from France, the other married to a man from France). That night, I picked up a basic French grammar book and began reviewing.

SATURDAY
Kid gymnastics day! I cleaned and read, drove my son and his friends places, made a huge pot of spaghetti sauce using the veggies lurking around the fridge, and practiced the piano.

SUNDAY
Lazy day. I finished a library book, practiced the piano, and studied my French grammar book. It's been a long time since I've done a grammar review, so I think I'll really benefit from this. Even in the early chapters, I'm already noticing things I've forgotten.

Book Update
Books Read This Year: 82
Books On My To-Read List: 169

And there we have it! Not exactly the most productive week, but such is life. Crossing my fingers that next week will be better! How did you do this week?



Monday, June 25, 2018

Weekly recap 6/25/18

Hooooooooooooooooooo boy, has it been a week, amiright???

I'm going to start this new feature on the blog, tracking my week and accounting for my time. I'm hoping it'll keep me accountable for all the things I do, need to do, and want to do, and it'll give you a glimpse into my days.

This week has been unusual, for so many reasons, least of all, it was my son's birthday week (16!!! I'm not sure how that's possible because I just graduated high school myself like ten seconds ago, so there must be some timewarp nonsense going on around here), so a lot of my normal activities were subverted by that. But let's start, shall we?

MONDAY
I started out the day with errands and birthday shopping, only to receive a text from my mother, inviting us over after my son finished with his summer school class. RECORD SCRATCH. So off we went to spend the rest of the day with her. We had a wonderful time, and while my daughter splashed in my mom's blow-up pool, I spent three hours working on my grandmother's cross-stitch table runner. :)

TUESDAY
Birthday shopping. I'm usually much more ahead of the game than I was this year, but we've had a lot going on, so it fell to the wayside. I did go to the town to the south of us to visit a gaming store for my son, who has gotten into Dungeons and Dragons with his friends, so that was an adventure! By the time we got home, it was time to start dinner. Long day there!

WEDNESDAY
I spent the day emailing my Congresscritter (twice!) and arguing with people online that it's not difficult to treat human beings with dignity and kindness (apparently, this is very, very difficult and treating others like garbage is exactly what Jesus taught? I must have missed that one in the years upon years of religious education I had growing up). I don't usually spend as much time online as I did this day, but there was so much going on that I felt the responsibility to pay attention. I did finish by memorizing the last bits of French vocabulary from Chapter 16 of the first Harry Potter with my Anki app, so there's that.

THURSDAY
We went for groceries (three stores! Two or three is normal for me. They're all within about five miles of each other, so the savings we get from visiting so many stores is worth it). When we got to store #2, an employee said, "Oh, you're here too early! Curious George won't be here until 10!" Say what now??? Turns out people from our local PBS station, along with Curious George, were making an appearance at that store; I'd had no idea. So we hit up store #3, then came back to #2 for...


this guy! My daughter wasn't hugely excited by it, to be honest. When she saw him, she shrieked (loudly), "That thing is REAL!!!" She begrudgingly agreed to the photo op, but just barely. She was a lot happier with the wife-and-husband musical duo that performed prior to George. I emailed my Congresscritter again, made dinner, and spent the evening finishing a book from my Goodreads list.

FRIDAY
My daughter and I started off the day with a trip to Target, from which we almost didn't return home due to nearly every street leading to our house was flooded due to a massive downpour and the sewers that just couldn't keep up. What should have taken 10 minutes ended up taking about 40, and then I had to put towels down in the basement where we get water every time it rains like that. UGH. I wrapped all my son's birthday gifts and then spent most of the rest of the day with him and got a little writing done that night.

SATURDAY
Daughter's gymnastics class meets on Saturday mornings, so in between watching her, I read a book from my shelves (I'm not loving it, but I'm almost done, so I'll finish). I got more writing done- between Friday and Saturday, I hit nearly a thousand words, which is a pretty great re-entry into writing after not being able to (due to my computer having died back in the winter) for so long. I cleaned for the party, which included washing those waterlogged towels in the basement, baked two cakes, and practice the piano for a bit (FINALLY!).

SUNDAY
This was a DAY. I ran to two stores picking up things for the party (seriously, sending a vegetarian to pick out burgers and hot dogs for a barbecue is a terrible idea! Where is this stuff? What do I buy? I was laughing hysterically at my incompetence in this area and had the cashier laughing with/at me as well), then came home and frosted the cakes.

I mean...not well. Pinterest-worthy, they are not, but they were eaten all the same!

After that, I mowed our lawn. It was HOT, and I had to stop twice to rest and cool off, because I was starting to feel like passing out. 

But look what I discovered when I was mowing! TOMATO BABIES!!!

After showering and eating a small lunch, I finished cleaning and doing party prep, and then it was time for my son's birthday party. We had a house full of family and teenage friends, and it was a great day. :)

So here's to hoping that next week will be more productive! How did your week go?