It has not been a good week. Let me be clear – my problems are mostly what we laughingly call “first world problems”. But they are MY problems and they are dispiriting and draining. None of them are insoluble, just very very annoying and frustrating. I know it will all get better. But for today, I’m so glad that I can at least shove all the work-week issues aside and concentrate on more fun problems: my son coming home for the weekend, throwing a Super Bowl party for 30-40 people, seeing my niece and grand-niece, seeing all my friends, going to hear some fantastic live music, and taking Monday as a vacation day.
But it’s gray and dismal again this morning, my back is hurting, I’m tired, and I still have meetings to attend. At times like this, it helps to remember what is truly important. WC will tell you that HER life is always very difficult, no matter the day of the week. You can see that for yourself.
GC will tell you that as long as there is food, there is no problem. BC will tell you “SHE had a bad week??? What about ME??? She took me to the VET!!!!” A beautiful thing about BC is that she does NOT hold grudges. She needed a LOT of cuddling yesterday to recover from the vet trauma. (She is healthy and perfect – it was her yearly checkup.)
My husband loves to cook. He loves watching cooking shows, reading cookbooks, and creating marvelous yummy entrees. I like to cook MUCH more now than I did prior to renovating the kitchen (it’s so EASY and fun to cook in the new kitchen) but I consider myself more of a baker than a cook. Naturally our son both cooks and bakes. He will often send me photos of his meal or of some treat he’s baked. His specialty seems to be baking for his coworkers. I think it began innocently enough. A good friend there had a birthday. This friend apparently loved the movie (Mean Girls) from whence we get “On Wednesday we wear pink!”. My son baked a birthday sheet cake and frosted it with pink icing. His coworkers devoured it. I think the next birthday was someone who likes bread, so my son baked a gorgeous challah. Also devoured. His office has pot luck meals at holiday times so my son has brought in potato latkes (devoured) and challah (devoured). I know he’s brought cookies and biscuits as well. Hope they all have memberships at a gym. This week’s office birthday treat was Oreo Cheesecake bars. They were apparently a big hit – devoured. 🙂 Now if I can only teach my son to take food photos as great as his baking!
I WAS going to title this something like “My Husband Loves Me” or “My Husband Knows Me Well”, but after the HORRIBLE experience I had when I first started blogging, and innocently titled a post “Seducing My Sister”, which was about how I got her to join Second Life, I decided to play it safe. There are such … different … people out there. Anyway, my husband DOES love me and DOES know me well. A package came the other day, addressed to him. He brought it to me and told me that it was really for me, an early Valentine’s Day prezzie. Of course I had no intention of waiting until February 14th – he DID say EARLY present. 🙂 He has done this for me in the past – bought me designer chocolate. Apparently he has no problem spending crazy amounts of $$$ on chocolate for me. This time he bought me Amedei, two Toscano Black bars. Oh. Em. Gee. They are superlative. (Of course they are. I don’t think I’ve ever had ANYTHING from Tuscany that wasn’t fantastic.) Texture and taste are out of this world. I don’t know what else is in this, despite reading the ingredients, because there is a divine after-taste. That lingering after-taste makes me want to wolf down the entire bar right then and there. But you’ll be impressed to learn that I am very, very controlled about my Toscano Black chocolates. Only 2 squares at a time, and no more than 4 squares in a day, and ONLY if it was a very very very bad day that NEEDS 4 squares. 🙂 I am savoring this early Valentine’s Day present!
This weekend my husband announced on Saturday that he would be making flatbread for dinner on Sunday. I wasn’t really sure what that meant but I’ve learned over the years that if my husband is cooking, I’m enjoying (okay, there was that one time over 30 years ago when he made fried rice and none of us could feel the inside of our mouths for the next 2 weeks). I was given instructions to pick up fresh yeast (not dried yeast) and some more mushrooms. We had, according to the chef, sufficient plum tomatoes and onions and tahini and parmesan cheese. He likes to talk to me to tell me what he is going to concoct. I don’t always listen in detail because these conversations often occur when I am in the middle of doing something else. 🙂 I listen for the “do we have any” and the “can you pick up” phrases. I went about doing a zillion errands and chores on Sunday – dusted his office (no wonder why he is always coughing up there), cleaned the bathroom, did the laundry, grocery shopping, got books from the library, and emptied garbage cans. I figured after that day I was entitled to sit back and let someone else make dinner. It was, of course, totally delicious. Other than what I mentioned above, I have no idea how he made it or what was in it. But now it’s in us and our tummies are oh so very happy!
Yesterday was hard, very hard. I was soooo tired physically, afraid that I might be relapsing with this dratted PND syndrome. I wasn’t handling work stress well either, I’m sure because of the fatigue and fear. The day ended well, however, with my friend/coworker giving me a much desired and needed 90-minute coaching session while he drove home (a 5.5 hour trip for him). My husband heated up the leftover game hens for dinner, and I had a glass of wine. We watched the next Mrs. Maisel episode (we’re in Season 3, but we only watch one or two episodes a week). I was in bed by 10:30 pm and had no trouble falling asleep.
This morning the cats gave me a present and let me sleep until 9:00 am. Not a single meow or mrrrrp or head butt. It was delightful not to be nudged. 🙂 I had great plans for today. Well, great is a matter of interpretation. I PLANNED to get a lot of cleaning done. Next week is our big Super Bowl party and I have GOT to get started on cleaning that has been ignored for far too long.
Unfortunately I seem to be a child of the weather. It was pouring rain. It was gray. It was VERY difficult to motivate myself to start cleaning. At moments like these, playing cards on the computer seems to be the best way to spend my time. As I lost game after game of solitaire (my way of both zoning out and waking up) I thought about what I might want to eat for breakfast or brunch. I decided I was in the mood for a scone. I thought at first cranberry scones, but when I read the recipe I decided it required too much effort. I’m not sure what about it was too much effort, but I guess it just didn’t sound good enough today for any effort. 🙂
I have a very simple cheese scone recipe and I make it often, without the cheese, just throwing in cinnamon. I decided to look for an actual cinnamon scone recipe and found one that seemed perfect: Cinnamon Scones (with cinnamon chips) on the JoyFoodSunshine.com website. I mean – the website name alone was cheerful. They were easy, quick and totally scrumptious when they were done. I brought one to my husband as he was reading the paper. When I wandered through the kitchen a short while after that, I noticed that another scone seemed to have vanished. *grin* He confirmed that they were fantastic scones and he’d gotten himself another. 🙂 Now THAT’S the way to wake up and get motivated!
I really hate having to deal with a snow-covered car in the winter. It’s bad enough having to get up on a schedule (instead of sleeping until whenever I wake up), bad enough having to pack everything that I will need for my too hot/cold, no coffee, no decent snacks, no decent cafeteria day in the office, but to then spend time cleaning the car off makes me long for a different life. I have yet to clear a snow-covered car without wearing half of the snow myself or knocking it onto the driver’s seat when I open the door. Removing snow is NOT my super power. So that’s why I insist on being able to garage my car during the winter months. I keep one half of my ostensible 2-car garage cleared for a car. I pay attention to the weather reports and will make sure the car IS in the garage when precipitation is expected. It’s not that easy to get the car into the garage, however. If I pull the car in front first, I can’t get out of the car – the driver’s door is up against the wall. I back the car in, tucking it as far to the left and rear as possible, so that there is plenty of room to open my door and the back door on the driver’s side to remove any packages. Last night when I got home from yoga I was soooo tired. Although I do seem to be back to full health, I don’t have much yet in the way of reserves. I considered backing the car down the LONG driveway and into the garage and decided against it. No snow or rain in the forecast for today. Even though I knew I’d be heading into the office in the morning I figured there wouldn’t be any problem. As you can see by the photos, I was wrong. 😦 The good news is that most of that frost came right off – it wasn’t really ice. The other news is that I am backing that car into the garage tonight!!!!!
Yesterday was NOT a good day. There are some ‘things’ that are making me less than happy at work. I expect those to clear up, but in the meantime I’m not enjoying the state of things. I can tell that I really am fully healthy again because I have the energy to be grumpy. I’m aware of all the things that NEED TO GET DONE and all the things about myself that are not satisfactory. Gee, almost makes me wonder if being sick DOES have an upside. 🙂 I know – be VERY careful what you wish for.
To top it off I went out at lunch to try to find paint for several of the rooms in the house that still need finishing after taking apart the house for the new electrical wiring in the renovated kitchen. The paint is annoying for a few reasons. First, I can’t believe it’s been over a year and I still haven’t done anything about it. Well, that’s not fair. I DID engage someone to do the painting but he never got to it before I had to tell him to cancel the request. But I HAD picked out paint colors. I thought I’d run over to the big box stores and see if I could pick up the paint myself. Maybe my husband and I would be inspired and tackle one of the walls. I cannot find the colors I selected off of the contractor’s color wheel. I remember the numbers and some of the names. They were NOT at the first big box store I checked. I grabbed a multitude of color samples but none of them look right. I went to the other big box store yesterday to see their colors. While I was standing there the screen over the lights fell on my face. Yes, that is correct – on my face, cutting my nose and hitting my lip as well. I was very taken aback. It is indicative of my mood at that point that I wanted to cry. 😦 When I went to Customer Support to get the cut cleaned and bandaged and some ice for what felt like it might be a swelling lip, they were completely nonplussed. It was if no one had EVER been injured in that store before nor had they personally ever seen a bleeding cut. Really????? Anyway, the woman got me a wipe from the entry way (the kind you use to sanitize your shopping cart handle) and the man ultimately found me some ice, which he delivered in a napkin. And HE was the manager. Honestly, what passes for training these days? You can see why THAT errand left me grumpy and frustrated.
I came home early, resolved to bake or cook or something to beat the blues. I was expecting my husband home around 5:30. I knew he had an appointment far away and almost called him around 5:00 to ask where he was so I could judge arrival time. Imagine my surprise when he called a little after 5 to tell me he had only just left and wouldn’t be home until maybe 7:30. Ouch. That’s a bit late for me to eat. 😦 Good thing I had NOT called when I thought of it, as he would have still been in the meeting.
I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to read and think. That all led to me feeling more relaxed and positive about cooking. I decided to try a lentil recipe that I’d found months ago when I was looking for dishes to serve for Sukkot. I wanted something with flavor and texture but uncomplicated because I wasn’t in a mood to fuss. I went with the Pasta e Lenticche recipe. I liked that it cooked in one pot. I hate doing dishes. *grin* I had nearly all the ingredients. I only had green lentils, not brown lentils (note to self: buy brown lentils) and I didn’t have the suggested pasta – I had rotelle, not any tubular pasta, and only dried bay leaf, not fresh. But I did have fresh thyme because that is one of my porch pots that is still producing. 🙂
The dish was very easy to make and very tasty. I had to add much more liquid due to the use of green lentils, but it was easy to judge how much to add. The use of rotelle seemed not to make a difference. I had to add salt to my dish but that is always the case as my husband watches his salt intake. Just as I finished the dish and began to move it to the smallest burner to keep it hot, my husband came through the door. Perfect timing! I’d even had time to put together a fresh salad. Delicious dinner, recipe well worth keeping and repeating, and I was no longer so grumpy. Food, wine and thinking creative thoughts beat the blues yet again!
We have a small kitchen in our office. Maybe it’s not that small, but I’m comparing it to the one in my former office, which also had tables and a lot more counter space. We have a snack vending machine, a drink vending machine, a refrigerator, 2 microwaves, a Keurig coffee maker, a sink, and a water cooler. I think that is a fairly respectable work kitchen. The big issue is over the Keurig coffee maker. Let me take that back. For ME, the big issue is that so many people are (1) slobs, (2) can’t follow directions and (3) are selfish. Three issues. (“Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…“) Our company does NOT provide coffee for us (do NOT go there) so I like to surprise my office mates by bringing in coffee, cream and pastries on occasion. Usually on a Monday, or on a day when the weather is awful. If I’ve done the grocery shopping that weekend and thought ahead I’ve tossed in “office goodies”. Often I stop on my way to work to pick up something for snacks or lunch and that’s most often when I’ll also treat the office. I did so on January 6, the unofficial “everyone back to work after the holidays” Monday.
We have what is known as a mobile office. That means that many workers are allocated to this office but they are mobile workers, going out on sales and/or service calls, or visits to client sites. So they don’t have assigned desks and there are always people coming and going. There were 2 people in the office that day that I’d not seen before. I filled up the K-cup dispenser with coffee, and put out a box of non-refrigerated cream pods. I noticed one of these ‘new’ people taking more than just one K-cup. Because I was standing there and watching, she walked out without taking the extras. I’ve seen this before. I’ll fill the dispenser, I’ll notice how many are there, go by a few minutes later and see that it has been depleted. I believe this is due to people “hoarding” the coffee. There aren’t used K-cups in the garbage and there wasn’t an influx of people so if several K-cups “vanish” in the matter of minutes, it means someone walked off with them for their own personal supply. I’m sure they think it’s no big deal – the company will put out more. But it IS a big deal because there ISN’T any more and they are depriving their coworkers of the enjoyment of a free cup of tasty coffee. It infuriates me. Well, that Monday seeing that ‘new’ person lining up an extra K-cup (and using THREE dairy pods in her coffee – that is NOT coffee, sweetie, that’s milk with some flavoring), I lost my temper a little bit. I made a sign and put it out on the counter explaining that it was a coworker supplying the goodies, and the other coworkers being deprived by people hoarding. Two weeks before someone had walked off with a completely full jar of honey that had been supplied by another coworker. Once my note was out another person wrote that one and half full bundles of paper towels had disappeared from the cabinets, as well as most of the paper in the printer. We are past hoarding here, and into STEALING. It’s disgusting.
Some of us treat our coworkers from the goodness of our hearts (that would be me *grin*) and some of us treat our coworkers because of dietary preferences. One of my friends here keeps kosher. Yesterday 4 Swiss Miss hot cocoa K-cups appeared in the dispenser. Swiss Miss cocoa is NOT kosher. That means if someone uses a Swiss Miss K-cup in the machine, my friend will need to re-kasher the Keurig so that he can make coffee and tea. *grin* (It’s not that hard to re-kasher but it is annoying and if that’s what he needs to do to feel comfortable, it’s his effort). This morning he came in with tea k-cups and coffee k-cups and filled up the dispenser with those (I’d already added my 6 coffee K-cups). He hid the offending hot cocoa pods in the back of the drawer. *grin* I said to him that people might still be using non-kosher pods and he sighed, shrugged and said yes, but I think people tend to use whatever is in front of them. *laughing* So true!!! So we had a full dispenser of interesting beverages. We also had cream because *I* got tired of people stealing my half-and-half from the refrigerator, and tired of them hoarding the little pods, and I brought in a large container of the powdered non-dairy creamer. I also am the person responsible for straightening out the different sugar substitutes. *laughing* It was making me crazy to see everything all mixed up and messy. I started aligning sugars back in the fall. Someone had left a lot of hot cocoa mix packages on the counter so I found a way to make them neat as well. (Too bad this obsession with order and cleanliness does NOT extend to my house.) It’s now 1pm and it appears that no one is hoarding today, and the caramel vanilla coffee my friend brought in has been a big hit! (I have to say – it smells wonderful.) Peace reigns in the kitchen, at least today.
I’m not sure anymore what “healthy” feels like. Are you allowed to have a little bit of sniffles and still be healthy? This weekend I had more energy than I’ve had in weeks. My sister and her husband were coming to dinner on Saturday. I gave myself the luxury of sleeping late (or as late as BC allowed). When I got up, I fed the cats, put away the dry clean dishes from the day before, made coffee and made up a batch of biscuits!!! I haven’t really felt like baking in WEEKS!
Have I mentioned here what I’ve been doing with my coffee these days? I’ve been adding chili powder and cayenne pepper to the grounds before brewing. I sometimes add cinnamon as well. I find the heat really helps to clear my sinuses and cut through any PND syndrome that is present. I learned that I liked the chili/cayenne/cinnamon combination added to chocolate so I figured that it might work well with coffee as well. I think it was on one of Jinjer’s posts that I ended up in a discussion about those flavors, and the fantastic designer chocolate that introduced me to the combination – Chuao Spicy Maya dark chocolate. I love their website as well. How can you resist the slogan: “For when wine just isn’t cutting it“? They sure have me pegged. 🙂
Anyway, once I had my coffee, I was a fountain of energy. I had the energy to have a text conversation with my niece, I cleaned all the counters, wiped down the white cabinets, swept the floors, damp mopped the floors, and cleaned off the dining room table. I then took an hour to relax and make sure I hadn’t pushed beyond my reserves. Then I started baking the spice cake for dessert, and preparing the vegetables to go along with my husband’s cornish game hens. He was also making potatoes au gratin. Dinner WAS delicious. Apologies that I did not take a picture of the cooked hens & potatoes – you will have to trust me that not only where they delicious but they were beautiful as well. My brother-in-law made TWO delicious loaves of bread – a grainy bread with pine nuts and seeds. Also fantastic and we’ve been enjoying the bread since then. 🙂 They left BOTH loaves with us.
I did send the spice cake home with them. The menfolk told me that they loved the spice cake (made using Tagatesse and Sukrin Gold sugar substitutes) but neither of them much care for cream cheese frosting (in general – it was not a comment on the frosting recipe, which I found tasty). If I’d known THAT, I’d have skipped it and just served the spice cake with whipped cream. 🙂 I’ll know for next time. I have to agree with them. That spice cake recipe made a tasty moist cake that really doesn’t even need frosting. It would be perfect with coffee in the morning.
So the thing that is totally frustrating me at this point is that it is becoming impossible to obtain Tagatesse in this country. I don’t even mind paying the outrageous price Amazon demanded – $18/1 pound box. (You do realize that white sugar sells for around $1.50-$1.99 for FOUR pounds???) I need to make friends with someone in Europe (NOT the UK)and/or find someone heading over to Europe. Damhert does not ship to the United States. I only have one more box of Tagatesse. 😦