Monday, August 31, 2020

Eye Opening Weekend Recap

Hello again Monday.  Meh.


I don't mind wondering where the weekend went when we are busy but when it's not much more than couch time, I feel like a do over.  Of course, most of it from Friday night through a good majority of Saturday was watching the Eco Challenge on Amazon Prime.  We used to watch that all the time when relatively unknown Mark Burnett began televising them on the Discovery Channel.  A long, arduous trek through some part of the world you're never likely to visit on your own.  We've seen some cringeworthy stuff on those too.  I'm talking leeches crawling in penises and dude getting it extracted screaming in labor pains then being like "yes, I can still hike 96 miles and repel down that cliff side."  Or the person with foot rot so bad they can't wait and are like "no worries, I'll army crawl the last 100 miles."  It was a test in strength, endurance mentally and physically as well as a dick measuring contest in the adventure racing world.  It was one of those things you wished you had the fortitude to test yourself on but glad you didn't.   The current version stays true to all of that sans leechy peens.  (Ooh, I'm going to use that as a new phrase for feeling like crap.  "How are you today?"  "Leechy peen, jellybean!")

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Friday the Mr got his refurbished EnChroma sunglasses.  He has the red/green colorblindness and you never realize just how skewed the world is to people who can see all colors.  I can't count how many times a checkout person says "swipe your card and press the green button."  Well, he can't see the green button, tell him what the button SAYS!  Or what about color graphs for work?  Nope.  When he was a kid, he would color his leaves brown and the trunk green.  He is still getting used to his new world but no viral video worthy reaction or tears about how his life has changed.  Literally the thing he was most impressed with was how red our cooler for delivery people was and that our petunias had actual contrast from front to back instead of being one muted tone.   They sent all of these balloons for him to finally see for the first time but he could name all of the colors before putting on the sunglasses.  If you're getting them for the colorblind person in your life, go in with lowish expectations and not a viral video reaction like my friend kept pinning her hopes on.  I don't think he told her yet but her expectations are waaaay too high for the feedback she'll receive.  But he likes them and will keep them.  You've got 60 days to try them out to see if they're worth it.  I'm looking forward to him seeing Fall for the first time.

For a visual representation...

(Source  The Mr's vision on the left without the glasses.  He sees a green wagon, not red even though he classifies it as red when he sees it.  I know, hard to describe or comprehend.)

Saturday, we ran some errands and grabbed lunch.   Later we had my single layer birthday cake which we later both confessed was the worst cake we've ever gotten from that place.  They've been doing our birthday cakes for over 20 years and about two years ago they stopped baking on site.  We're pretty sure they freeze the cake layers for God knows how long then decorate on site.  The icing was pretty tasteless as well so the only thing we could taste was the ice cream with it.  I guess they're off the list.  Why should birthday cakes not kinda suck this year too?   Thanks 2020.  I opened the Mr's presents as well as a friend of mine's gifts then just pepper in episodes of Eco Challenge until like midnight or something.  Ah, a scintillating pandemic birthday celebration.


Sunday the Mr woke up with some phlegm (sorry!) so I made some hot tea.  Regular and a dose of green tea with turmeric and ginger tea and that seemed to exorcise the demon for now.  I got three solid signs from Grandma my presence was requested at her "condo" so instead of going to visit on my birthday, we went yesterday.  It was time to change out her pretties and give her the four fall bouquets I was holding onto since last year.  I think she liked them.  Her flag has been faded by the intense sunlight so I ordered a new one.  Everyone mentions how when they do go there, it helps to have her face to talk to.  Plus it acknowledges she was a loving mother and grandma since her husband didn't bother to correct her when they purchased her headstone after her diagnosis.  Definitely one of those things I know we as a family would change if given the chance.  Since it was almost 80 and the humidity wasn't too gross, I decided we should walk the cemetery a bit.  We haven't done it at that one before.  I really wish she wasn't buried there.  It's close to a freeway and off a very busy street so there is zero chance for 'eternal rest.'  I know, she's not there, but it does make it hard to feel any peace when visiting her, even less walking the perimeter but it did give us a new perspective of the place.

We came home and after a while we went down and did our Sunday workout.   If y'all need some new blood for your workouts, here's our schedule for the week.

We did a small grocery pick up in which they gave me almost no usable bananas for the week and an expired item so yeah, that went well.  We had turkey tacos and Brussels for dinner and finished watching Valley Girl.  The Mr is reading the book I finished and we had a good chat about that for an hour before he headed up for bed.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, August 28, 2020

What I'm Reading This Week #35

Happy Friday to you all!  I hope you've had a nice week and are ready to rest and relaxate and such.  

Last night was our final meal to cook together for the week and it was dang good.

(Scallion chicken with lemon rice and a side salad with homemade vinaigrette.)

We're celebrating my birthday this weekend since it falls in the middle of the week so that'll be nice.  I'm super glad it's the last weekend of August because I'm praying a little let up in temps will be on the horizon at some point next month.

Now let's celebrate...

How To Create a Cozy Home in Case There's a Second Wave of Coronavirus  "Pay special attention to clothing...Be honest about items that no longer fit."  aka Do you look like a busted can of biscuits in your pre-pandemic jeans?  Light a candle and toss 'em.

How to Lose Weight Faster, But Safely  (I need to get this pandemic weight OFF)

5 Powerful Mindset Shifts to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think  (Tell 'em to eff off.  Whoops...I typed that.)

Can't Remember Your Dreams? We Asked Experts Why & What You Can Do  (Are you ever in the middle of a good dream, have to pee, go, then come back and desperately try to pick up where you left off because you want to see where it goes?)

18 Signs Your Spouse Needs More Attention From You   (They flick you repeatedly in the forehead and say "are you done now?  How about now?  Maybe now?")

30 Showstopping Thanksgiving Sides That'll Steal the Turkey's Thunder  (Yep, already going  there.  Bookmark 'em Dano!)

30 Romantic Fall Date Ideas That Go Beyond the Pumpkin Patch  (But pumpkin patches are good too especially if they're most sincere.)

The History Behind 8 Famous Tongue Twisters (Suzy Sells Seashells By the Seashooooore.  Literally one other person will get that reference.)

I'm presuming breaking out some Fall decor is in my future because I'm READY.  NOW.  Other than that, birthday cake and schtuff.

Got any plans this last weekend of August?

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

A Good Start

I have to yell you guys, it's been a pretty great week.  We are working on some of our relationship goals (not the lame hashtag kind on 'the gram') and it's made quite the difference.  The Mr and I are usually on separate couches so we can both stretch out if we want but this week, he's been sitting next to me which has been nice.  It sounds like an easy thing that shouldn't make a difference but when you're staring at the back of someone's head, connecting doesn't exactly happen.  

We've also committed to cleaning 10-15 minutes per night if we haven't done it during the day so we can relax in the evening.  It is much nicer coming down to a clean kitchen and little piles getting put away in their places.  It's not all cleaned, mind you. but when we get to a place where it is, it will be much easier to keep up with.

(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  If you buy through them, I may receive a few cents commission toward blog expenses at no cost to you.)

One of the other things we committed to at our marriage retreat was cooking a meal together once a week.  Monday is the day we chose to do that to kick off our week right and also because if we're doing a random recipe we haven't tried before, it's likely higher calorie/sodium and not the night before a weigh in.  Not only have we cooked one but multiple meals together this week!  I was a little excited and got the ingredients for all of the meal delivery recipes they botched not thinking everything wouldn't stretch out into the following week.  But the Mr has seemed to enjoy it and is even getting a sense of pride in putting together key pieces.  I even treated myself to this garlic press that was at the rental for the retreat.  I will buy garlic and then it goes bad because my garlic press made a mushy mess and I didn't feel like mincing most nights.  That thing is DEEP and you just plop the garlic and BLAM, instantly minced!

Monday was a sweet chili pork bowl:

We both liked it but agreed the ground pork isn't what we'd use in the future.  Thinly sliced pork chops (or chicken/shrimp) would fare much better in this dish and cut the calories considerably.  It seemed to take forever but we didn't know that until we looked at the clock.  I opened a glass of wine from our cabin in VT last Christmas and while neither of us liked it (Chardonnay), I finished mine because mama wanted to relax!  I believe my quote after mine was "I'm super chillin' dude" or something like that.  We used the time after dinner to listen to the vintage 1965 vinyl the Mr surprised me with of my favorite Christmas album.  I lit pine incense and candles and we just sat there blissed out in hygge-licious vibes and then put on my Marlon Williams Make Way For Love vinyl we hadn't listened to yet.  That was an awesome night of relaxation and certainly not our typical Monday.

Tuesday night was a Spicy Penne Parmesan dish:

It came together much faster and had a nice heat to it that I don't typically add to Italian dishes because he's not usually a big fan of that.  But this had a nice flavor and a good reminder to bulk up pasta dishes with onions, zucchini and other veggies.  We really practiced eating slower and taking a drink of water after every bite which has gone by the wayside in past years.  Then we settled in to watch The King of Staten Island that came out that day for rent.

Wednesday was a Poblano Bean and Cheese Quesadilla with asparagus andshallots.

I've made stuff similar to that in the past but not quite as many ingredients so it was nice to amp it up a little.  It was good and filling which was appreciated since we had our rumps handed to us in an upper body strength workout just before.

Tonight we'll be making Lemon Chive Chicken and Rice with a side salad.

Another good thing that came out of just sitting together was on Monday I said it had been a week since our return from retreat, how were things going.  He said good and I told him I felt like we fell right back into the same routine when we came back which was a little disheartening.  Not that you come back all pumped up and dive right in but the longer you take to make those changes, the less likely you are to get that momentum back.  But as we talked, we went over previous routines that have been with us for over a decade or two.  One of those was the Mr's need to "unwind" after work.  He liked to do that since he was a kid after Catholic school (wouldn't you if you had unchecked nuns?) and then his career has always been high stress.  With his new job, he is not required to put out the fires, just notify others of them and he's out of it.  He realized that by sticking with the old routine of coming downstairs and "decompressing" by reading email or scrolling crap, which he can do anytime of day now since his job is proactive and not reactive, he was still stuck in old stress relief habits.  So even if he didn't have a stressful day, perpetuating that habit of 'needing to unwind' when there's literally nothing to unwind from created a residual stress response in him as if he'd actually had a stressful day and he'd take a nap.  Then maybe he wouldn't sleep as well at bedtime or other effects.  It was quite a revelation for him and one that he's seeing the benefits from skipping already this week.  That wouldn't have happened if we weren't sitting next to each other and checking in.

I won't be so over eager with the ingredients next week since we basically cooked all of the meals we committed to in a month in one week but I look forward to continuing to cook with him and watch his confidence grow.  He has always been hands off in that department because he doesn't know how to time things out and it would overwhelm him and he didn't appreciate the meal as much.  I mean he knew it was good but since he didn't have a hand in it, there was less true appreciation and pride than he has now that he's helping.   Now, he smiles when he puts together a spice mix or cuts veggies just like the pictures and it's nice to see him feel accomplished at something I tend to take for granted.  I don't have much patience for people in my small kitchen space but we're finding ways to make it work.  It's also nice to not have to juggle everything myself.   I'm grateful for the change in routine and hope to keep it up!

Do you and your spouse/significant other cook together?  Check in with each other about your relationship?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Hump Day Poll: BTS

This was always the week that I started back to school as a kid.  Obviously, back to school is going to look quite different for millions of kids around the world given the pandemic.  It's created an impossible situation for teachers, parents and children and all I can do is pray for all involved.

That got me thinking about what would happen if this pandemic hit when I was in school.  Let's say 5th grade so mid 80's.  No computers so online learning wouldn't have been possible.  My mom was a single mom who relied on every dollar so there's no way she could take off work like parents are doing now.  Dad couldn't be counted on so I'm sure any solution on his end would've fallen on deaf ears or a shrug of the shoulders.  I was already a latchkey kid at that age (since 3rd grade) so I was used to being alone.  I had trouble getting my homework done and turned in on time to the  point for a semester or two, my teacher would write in a notebook what my assignments were, I had to take it home that night and show my mom and that they were complete and she'd initial it and I'd have to show the teacher in the morning.  (Thanks Ms. Leegrave for caring enough to do that!  I know you didn't have to.)  So that makes me wonder how I would've done with on my own administered learning.

I think the school would've had to have some kind of system where parents could drive to the school once a week and pick up lesson plans and "dittos" for the next week (or two) for us kids to do then turn them in in bulk when we did our next pick up for the following week's lesson plans.  I truly don't know how else they could've done it given the situation.  I also don't know how they would've handled kids who were falling behind or needed help.  Maybe have some be willing to be in classrooms alone and have a phone for students to call for help with questions because I know my mom wouldn't have been able to help me with some stuff just as many parents today get irritated with how kids are taught now.  (I will NEVER do common core math.  Makes ZERO sense and takes 3x as long from stuff I've seen.)

How do you think your school would've handled a pandemic when you were growing up to make sure you got your education?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Marriage Retreat 2020

We booked our retreat for this year about the same time last year.  Obviously, we couldn't foresee that we'd be swimming in a pandemic stew so we did consider whether we should cancel or not about a month before.  Bottom line, it was in-state so we wouldn't be spreading our potential cooties to another state, the county is actually safer than our own, and we desperately needed a change of scenery.  We would be in a secluded cabin with minimum runs for takeout just like we do now.  

If you read about our previous retreat, you can see that we had a problem with sticking with our relationship agreement.  This year was no different and that sucks because we literally had the time to stick to every single thing with ease if we were making US a priority.  I felt the weight of the pandemic crushing my soul.  Anyone will tell you that spending 24/7 together isn't natural.  I think when he goes to work, he gets that interaction he needs and I get that time to myself that I need as well.  He's literally above my head all day long, not that he's loud but it's a constant presence I'm not used to.  You all living through it with your spouses both working from home can probably relate to what I'm getting at but can't articulate.  You put that on top of seeing how many couples are like "screw you, I'm not spending another pandemic filled day with you" and getting divorced was kind of scary.  You throw in the reno, his new job, and months of studying for a certification he needed to keep his new job and I felt like they were all potential powder keg situations if I pointed out our failures on the agreement front.  So I did exactly what I shouldn't have done which was made myself small in a corner where I could bother no one.

But back to the retreat.  We agreed a thorough cleaning plan needed to be executed before bringing our stuff in and every surface would need to be cleaned regardless of what the owners claimed their cleaning people were doing.  (After getting there, I knew that was the right call as you could write your name in dust on the blinds and some less used surfaces.)

(Came prepared, yo.)

Before we were able to check in, we drove by an antique store that was totally empty of people and got to wander around alone.  It was the first time we felt "normal" in months.

(Pic 2:  Rude)

We drove around a bit, grabbed some takeout for lunch and had several hours to kill with nowhere else we were really comfortable going to.  We found a park and took a nap for a bit.  We got a half baked pizza from a shop that got good reviews and after our cleaning spree was done, we baked it up.  Here's a bit of the cabin.

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We dipped our legs into a WAY too hot hot tub and explored the grounds a little before then napping again and looking at the stars before bed after a long day.

I brought two books with us.  One I already read but gave to the Mr to read so we could do the exercises together and the other I was reading while he read the first one.  The first book was a little hard for me to follow because I like my books in a certain order as far as exercises to reinforce what I just read in the chapter instead of waiting until the end.  I also had trouble feeling like it was the Mr's job to fix my unfinished business from childhood and vice versa.  The more I read of my emotionally immature parent book, the more defeated I felt on being able to have what I always thought a "normal" relationship with my mom would look like and I realized my dad just leveled me emotionally.  I always knew this but I also thought my mom and I were incredibly close but we were bonding over things that were not emotionally appropriate at that age and I also felt I needed to step up to be the strong one since she wasn't back then.  (Now she's gone to the other end of the spectrum to "not be a doormat.")   When the Mr finished the first book, he too came to some realizations, like everyone in his family was in competition for his dad's affection including his mother.  This was something that changed his perception of things tremendously.  

Before moving on to the exercises in the book, we needed to take a little mental break.  There was a nice yard there so we played cornhole with a set they had in the garage.  We also brought some old school Jarts.  The good kind with METAL on the end that people with common sense could use without impaling themselves.

We started our foray into the land of food delivery service and while that didn't work out for many reasons as a long term solution, it was perfect for us to have something to bond over.  I am the meal prepper in the house and sometimes it's draining because as soon as we come up from 45-60 minutes of working out, I go directly to making dinner while he watches YouTube or reads.  I think he now understands just how much work can go into taking that on especially when I'm just as tired as he is after a workout.  We've committed to cooking one meal together each week.  I'm hoping we keep that deal.

The next two days were going to be the meat of the work for us by doing the exercises in the back of the Getting the Love You Want book.   I'm not going to lie, there were tears shed but also laughter, lots of good talks and acknowledgement of areas we suck at like consistency.  Obviously, acknowledging it is one thing, actually changing it is another.

It was all pretty mentally draining and sometimes we had to take a break for a nap 

or get in a coloring session before regrouping.

This year is profoundly different for all of us and I think we all went into the pandemic with some pretty lofty goals.  Some of them we did and others we intend to do but don't have the energy.  I would say I could cut myself some slack on that front given those circumstances but that's a big fat excuse.  If our relationship is important, we will do what is necessary.  I don't care if I have to set up reminders on email until we get into a consistent rhythm where we don't need them.  Whatever it takes.  After a shaky few days upon our return, we have already done a few things on our priority list including making a meal once a week together.  I am hopeful for the future.

I know things are a bit off but I need the distraction.  Just before we left, I got a horrible rash from tearing down morning glory Gossamer out front and having poison ivy like blisters and itching from face to knees doesn't make one want to cuddle up.  But I also know, the more we let any kind of meaningful intentions slide, the harder it will be to get any of them back.  The fact is, doing these retreats puts you in a whole other frame of mind because you're not in your home and you're more receptive.  Sounds crazy but it's true.  But when you come back and the house still looks like shit and you're both still scrolling ignoring each other, it starts to feel like "well, that was a waste."  Change is HARD.  Marriage is WORK and anyone who tells you different is lying or in denial.  It takes work on both people's parts and a lot of old habits and mindsets are right there to make you feel like true change isn't possible.  That's when you need to dig in harder and tell all of you and your partner's baggage to eff off.  Even the people with the most idyllic childhoods will find there are behaviors and learned coping mechanisms that are not serving them or their marriages.

We've already booked our spot for next year.  The lady is super nice and funny and has made it her mission to make sure we have 'dance naked in the yard' privacy.  (Did I mention at this year's cabin there were tenants that shared a driveway with us that was not mentioned on the website??  Nothing like doing s'mores in front of their porch.  Yeah.)  

I'm looking forward to it but I'm more looking forward to being able to truly say "damn, we made a LOT of progress this year, didn't we?"  

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Decor Snag and Nugget Check In Weekend Recap


Monday...we meet again.

It was a pretty low key weekend here.  Friday afternoon we headed to my favorite local home decor place because she had some fall stuff out.  I knew it would be less crazy than Saturday so we darted in, I got some pumpkin stuff and off we went.  She's only open 3 days a week so gotta get in there when I can but she also lets me buy stuff online and pick it up so I don't have to be without my fix of seasonal goodies.  Saturday we pretty much just did take out from a steakhouse then that made me sleepy so we "napped" for 2 hours.  Unfortunately, the Mr slept wrong and it gave him a bad headache.  We went on a little drive to get out of the house and later we had a charcuterie board for dinner with some ingredients we didn't use the previous weekend and rented Fantasy Island for a buck on Redbox.  Glad it was only a dollar.  I grabbed our recipe cards for the stuff we were supposed to get with our Hello Fresh box originally and placed a grocery order so we have the stuff on hand.  It is nice to know that if there are special spice packets out there, you can search and find what's in them so you can make them on your own.  

Sunday was laundry day so we got that moving.  I was glad I checked my email because these Christmas pictures I've been waiting to be notified about were back in stock but almost sold out.


They will fit perfectly between the gap on the vintage ski's I hang up.  So much for getting notified when they're back in stock, it was a fluke I saw them and they were sold out less than an hour later.  That made me do a happy dance and felt like I was meant to have them.

I made lunch and we puttered around on the 'puters a bit.  I didn't tell you guys last week because I didn't want to say anything until I had a chance to check in with him but my favorite nugget (cousin) has Covid.  He works at a nursing home so we've been worried about this possibility for months and it was a kick in the gut to have our worst fears come true.  His mom apparently put something out on social media which I heard about halfway through his quarantine and she said he was asymptomatic.  After checking in with him yesterday, he was NOT asymptomatic, but had the fatigue, was lightheaded and tightness in the chest so it seems at least a milder form of it than some of the horror stories you read.  So I don't know if she was downplaying it or he downplayed it to her (we're guessing the latter).  I did urge him to get a stress test/heart test when it's safer so he can make sure he didn't have any residual heart stuff as have been reported.  When he's on his exercise kicks, he can do very intense workouts and I don't want him keeling from a heart condition he didn't know he had.  So that had been weighing heavily on my heart especially since we can't see him or give him a hug.  His hugs are literally the best, we as a family have voted on it many times.  I had some Marvel coloring books delivered to him to finish out quarantine.   He's 35.  

We got our workout in early and it handed us our butts.  We grabbed our showers then it was time to head over to the grocery for our pickup.  Literally, it was the hardest order I've put in since March and I'll be damned if they didn't have everything but one item!  It was almost like I was taunting them to not have stuff and they were like "nope, we good."  Since the Mr recently discovered he likes roasted broccoli, I got what I thought would be five small crowns and they gave me five of the biggest crowns of broccoli I've seen ever.  Cruciferous doth snickerous.  It was weird having everything done by 5:45pm!   We're going to make some changes this week so our weeks could start looking like that most of the time which will be weird.

We're bummed the final episode of Renovation Island aired last night.  That's kind of been our second half quarantine show.  Sigh.

What did you guys get into this weekend?

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Friday, August 21, 2020

What I'm Reading This Week #34

Good Friday to you all!  I hope you had a great week and are ready for the weekend.  We've got a month until Fall which you all know I'm down with in a major way but basically less than two weeks until my house turns into hygge central.  I'll be in my "let's get cozy" sweatshirt and fuzzy socks with hot tea for my birthday, sweating like a mofo trying to project the change of seasons.  

Let's change into...

(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  If you buy through them, I may receive a few cents commission toward keeping the blog lights on.)

Your 'Doomscrolling' Breeds Anxiety. Here's How To Stop The Cycle  (Yes it does and we both NEED to stop!  Do you?)

We Need to Talk About Ventilation  (It's also helpful to upgrade your furnace filter which we did at the beginning of this.  We use this filter and as a person who suffers with year round allergies, I've only had TWO allergy sneeze attacks since March and I would have them daily, sometimes multiple times.  You can get them for $18 but the link is to show you it needs to be 2200 and MERV 13 rated for Coronavirus.)

You’re sitting wrong — and your back knows it. Here’s how to sit instead  (Damn straight my back knows it because it's not very damn straight anymore!)

Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training: Vigorous Breaths Boost Heart, Brain  (I have something very similar that we got in case either of us got da Rona.  But I do need to do this to expand my crappy lung capacity anyway so this is just another bonus.)

8 activities that are as good for your mental health as meditation   (Sign me up!)

A Little Affection Can Go a Long Way for Your Relationship  (Absolutely, so hold your honey's hand or smooch them on the forehead just for the heck of it!)

Six Napkin Folds to Make An Ordinary Dinner Feel Special  (I am all about presentation!  Well, when my table is cleared off.)

Why is the Red Barn So Iconic?  (I don't know but it gives me the squishies every time I see one!)

24 photos Generation Z will never understand (I actually feel bad for them!  This stuff taught us patience and gave us attention spans.  I HATE how short my attention span is now thanks to 'instant gratification!')

My Comics Are Inspired By My Dog And Most Dog Owners Will Relate To Them  (Forgot I bookmarked this one.  Too cute not to share.)

While Being Horrible And Hilarious At The Same Time, These 20 Reviews Of Haribo Gummy Bears On Amazon Are Leaving People In Tears Of Laughter (WHY does this make me want to try them!?!?!?)

Since we had a road trip and retreat the past two weekends, I don't know if anything is truly on tap for this one or not.  We'll have to see how the weather shakes out or if the whites of our eyes start to liquefy from boredom.

Anything planned for the weekend or winging it?

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

My Experience with a Food Delivery Service

Last week, we went on an extended weekend getaway.  I thought I would make it easy for us to prepare healthier meals to balance our treats so I decided to finally bite the bullet on a home delivery food service.  This wasn't something I wanted long term.  I wanted to use our getaway as an opportunity to try it and only if we were SUPER impressed would we occasionally get it in the future.  I carefully researched and we went with Hello Fresh.  

(Please note:  This is a non-sponsored review of Hello Fresh.  I paid for this on my own because I saw a promo that made it appealing to my cheap self on the first box.)

Two weeks prior to our leaving, I carefully picked out our dishes from their low cal plan.

I was super excited once I finally decided on something because honestly, just over half of their selections didn't sound good to me.  I wanted to make sure we had a typically "American" dish and then ones with international flair.  The day finally arrived which was two days before we left and FedEx dropped off the box.  I couldn't wait to dig in and see how this all worked!

Squee!  My recipe cards for all of the dishes I chose!
Each one has detailed instructions on the ingredients you'll need, most of which are included but some like butter, oil and salt and pepper are not, as well as how to prepare them.  I thought this would be fun for the Mr and I since we don't cook together.
They come in paper bags on huge ice packs with the meat being directly on the packs and some ingredients underneath of the ice packs.  Lots of padding on all sides to keep things safe.  Side note:  This is a big problem for a lot of people because between the bags, huge ice packs, unwieldy padding and the packing the actual food and sauces there is a lot of waste.  This comes with every single box so if you have a problem contributing to landfills (we do), then a food service might not be the way to go for you.  

The bags are labeled on the outside and if there's one that needs to be made first, it will say so on the label.

Now, let's dig into the bags!

Ahh, Sweet Heat Shrimp Temp...huh?

I didn't order that.

Mushroom ravioli!?!?!?!??
Can I tell you how much I hate mushrooms with a flaming passion?

That's right.  



I mean really.  What does it take it check the recipe cards you're putting in against the bags in the box!?!?!  The paper people obviously didn't look to see what box they had and do you think any of these things are from the low cal menu?  No.  There's enough sodium in some of these to float me down a street in a parade for days. I purposely had these delivered with a full day in between because something told me not to trust it and there you go.  I immediately get on chat to see if they can overnight the right items to us since it's their mistake.  Sorry, but we'll give you a full refund and you can keep the food.  

Oh, you mean the food for which I have no instructions to make the dishes?  The fungus ravioli with kale and walnuts that if that were the only thing left to eat after I'd been crawling through the desert for three days, I still wouldn't eat or at minimum slam it with a huge water chaser without chewing just so I didn't die?  Thanks.  

I had a rather mentally draining evening the night before and the thought of now having to plan an entire new menu, go out to the grocery to find everything and portion it out was just not in my mental wheelhouse.  A quick search revealed a thread on Reddit talking about how they have quite a few issues getting boxes right and many people said they don't report issues with moldy veggies or missing items because they're afraid to.  Uh, you're paying for a service and if there are inconsistencies on a regular(ish) basis, with any of these food delivery services, that's more than I care to put up with personally.  I went in and cancelled the plan because again, I only decided to try it for that getaway because without the promo, it would only get more expensive.  I know this may not be the norm but it's more than I want to deal with on a regular day much less counting on it when I'm trying not to go to the grocery store for the week.

So now what to do with the food.  She said to do what I wanted with it or I could donate it.  I had way too much to do to try to come up with another plan.  I wondered if this was a sign since some of the reason for the getaway was to work on my mental struggles.  I began a search for the recipes of the food they sent us and I'll just say, they're out there should this happen to you as well.  I printed them out so we'd have them to go off of and I begrudgingly agreed to take them with us.  I brought an extra dinner from home because I knew if that fungus was going to be on the menu, I needed a "tappin' out" dish.

We decided to get the ravioli out of the way first.  I just wanted to not have it looming so we got out our ingredients.

(Not pictured: Ravioli.  It was in the fridge.  Whoops.)

It came together relatively quick and before we knew it, our meal was ready.

We both agreed, this was our least favorite dish and funnily enough, not for the reasons you may think.  Mr Mushroom over there looked like he was going to retch a few times as he took a chaser after every bite.  He said the ravioli were "way too mushroomy."  (We later saw there were three kinds in it!)   I didn't mind it.  I was not happy with the kale even though it was well seasoned.  You add these two together and it was "earthy" on the polite scale and like eating dirt on the less appealing one.  Definitely NOT a dish we'll ever make again.

The next day, lunch was the Southwest Sausage Rice stuff.  Out come the ingredients:

It came together pretty quick as well once all of the prepping was done and we got cookin'.

Our final product:

It was a good dish and one we'll likely make again if I can find loose chicken sausage.  

For dinner that night, it was time for the Butter Basted Chicken:

They gave us the wrong potatoes.  😫

There were supposed to be sweet potatoes not yukons or whatever they slipped us.  Luckily for us, I brought two extras in case they gave us skimpy sweet potatoes and it's a good thing I did!  The Mr got to mashing which was apparently the first time he'd done such a thing.

We got the meal together and plated up.

The demi-glace was good but I didn't think it was necessary.  I ended up using more of it to flavor the sweet potatoes than anything.  The Brussels were definitely under cooked and I side eyed their roast time on those but followed the directions anyway.  Next time I will go with my instinct because they were still pretty crunchy and I would've microwaved them for 1 minute prior to roasting.  Also, their bacon was gross even with brown sugar on it.  I wouldn't be psyched for any dish using their bacon and would use my own.

Our final meal was the one they suggested we make first because I'm a rebel like that.  The Sweet Heat Shrimp Tempura.  

We skipped making homemade pickles because neither of us like cucumber and we knew it would end up tasting more like that than a pickle so we tossed it.  I didn't bring oil because I didn't need it tipping over while we traveled but I did bring some cooking spray which worked fine for the shrimp.  Then we put our creation in a bowl.

The Mr seemed really impressed with this one!  I brought along a few cloves of garlic and broke off a stem of ginger because something told me we'd need them and I was right.  He said his favorite part of the rice was the garlic and the ginger I added to the sauce made it.  I have to say I agree.  

So despite them screwing the pooch on the first box, we ended up getting to try it anyway on their dime.  There was certainly a dud from our view with the Mushroom Ravioli and it didn't help matters one of the recipes had the wrong ingredient to make the dish.  That colossal fail is enough for both of us to pass on any regular subscription with them.   In addition, The Mr and I found the instructions for the recipes really scattered.  We felt like they didn't flow very well and ended up stressing us out with a lot of back and forth, ill-timed steps.  They still came together okay but with a lot more babysitting than I'm used to when I cook because some components weren't timed properly.

It wasn't all bad though.  If nothing else, this opened our eyes on portion sizes and what can fill us up so we will take that forward.  We also feel that cooking together was one of the most fun activities of our retreat.  Only time will tell if I give any meal box a try again for the next retreat or if we pick out a few recipes sharing some similar ingredients (lemons, seasonings, scallions, shallots, etc) and then make our own little bags to bring.  Heck, we could even surprise the other person with a mystery meal we put together for each other.  Hmm!

Bottom line:  

Yes, they messed stuff up for our first and probably last order but I do see the value in this for some people, especially right now.  There is so much going on and we're all under so much stress, it might be nice to treat yourself to someone else grabbing all of the ingredients.  But then you have to circle back to the fact, you might not get the food you ordered or you might go to prepare your meal and they've given you the wrong ingredient which could be the last straw before you do something the neighbors will want to record as you run down the street screaming.  If you're a roll with it kind of person, that won't be an issue for you.  There are plenty of plans out there and Hello Fresh were the most affordable which was nice after a promo code but the prices go up the deeper in you get.  I know if I just bit the bullet, I could put recipes together for a few bucks less per serving even with the cheapest box but I realize the whole point is likely convenience when looking at something like this.  I wouldn't steer anyone away from trying it.  I think you should do one at least once to see if it's something you'd want to continue or you're one and done.  The Mr was glad we did so that makes me happy but our order just had too many issues for me as well as a TON of packaging waste for me personally to risk the irritation.  

While I did get our refund quickly, customer service was not responsive in my chat.  I asked several times about what I needed to do to cancel the account and she refused to answer.  I don't know if they're instructed to deflect or what if asked that question.  Instead, she countered back by asking about what I was doing this weekend to which I should've responded, "apparently cooking food I didn't order, Marlene."  So even though the refund was prompt, the lack of answering a simple question asked multiple times also put the proverbial nail in the coffin on my end.

Have you tried food subscription services?  Did you do them before or try them because of the pandemic?  How was your experience?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Hump Day Poll: I Don't Care What People Say

Every decade has it's cringy stuff to the majority.  Things that teens are into right now will be panned by them in 10-20 years going "what was I thinking?!!?"  At least most of them.  Then there are some things that people will universally dog on that they will continue to love and never regret having been a part of even if the masses make fun of them for it.

Most of my childhood happened in the 80's.  Everyone likes to rag on every single facet of the 80's except the music and movies.  I liked those aspects obviously but there was one thing I will never regret...

The hair and fashion.

Yes, I was probably responsible for a hole in the ozone layer but my hair looked pretty similar to Louise from Teen Witch up there and I loved every second of it.  (Except when I had to brush the Aqua Net out at the end of the day.  Ouch!)  I loved the lace gloves, the gaudy patterns and colors, the jean jackets full of snarky buttons and the hair as high as it would go.  Anything went and you could express yourself however you wanted because there were no rules and there was a freedom in that.

When people see my high school pics and try to make big hair jokes, I look at them 1) until they realize they made a mistake or 2) I say "I'm not embarrassed I had big hair, and I can still get my hair that high if properly motivated."

What trend during your teen years do you look back on with zero regrets?

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Monday, August 17, 2020

Reno Beat Down

Thanks so much for the comments and messages I received about our kitchen reno.  Renovations under normal circumstances are irritating at best.  The end result is almost always worth it but getting there can be quite trying on your mental health.  As revealed last week, we started our kitchen reno back in February and it wasn't done for five months.  Before that bit of detail, it was hard enough just getting what we needed to even start it.  Then you put whatever bad star the Mr and I joke we were born under and it's that much worse.  Lest you think I'm being dramatic, here's the list of the things that went wrong that should've had no problem going right.

The wood for the ceiling was supposed to be a light-ish to medium color based on what the reclaimed lumber place had.  We picked out our beams (3) which were taped together in front of us.  We specifically asked for certain pieces and specifically asked for others not to be included.  We were told they would match up the board from the supplier based on what was chosen.  What we got was dark wood, two beams, not three and the pieces we asked for weren't there and the pieces we didn't want, were.  We had to go back on our own and switch out two hideous water damaged boards they gave us (because water damage isn't the look one goes for in their kitchen) and get the two pieces we built the whole project around and grab the third beam they shorted us.  (Despite me not getting the color I originally wanted, we do like it since it matches the color of the floor.  But still, don't tell me I'll be getting one thing then have an order of something else completely dropped off with no way for us to take it back.)

I ordered a brushed gold curtain rod and I got one...with a bracket welded off center.  I asked for a replacement and the one they sent me after I already sent the other one back had the same problem (after it cut me.)  I ordered one that I didn't like as much from Houzz (Urban Nest) and they sent me an ugly olive/bronze color that was labeled gold.  I sent that back and ordered a black one from Amazon Basics that I used in the basement and mother effer if it wasn't scratched...deep.  FIVE FRIGGIN' RODS and they all had issues.  I said screw it, kept it and decided to spray paint it because I was done.

I ordered the twelve cabinet pulls I needed...nine of them were chipped.  NINE.  Do you know how long it takes a type A to find cabinet pulls?  I got a refund on those (they didn't want them back) and found the same ones from Home Depot online and hoped for the best.  Two of the twelve were nicked.  Luckily I still had the three good ones from Wayfair so we took the two damaged ones back to Home Depot.

I ordered $200 in switch plates for the kitchen, great room and two for the bathroom.  The two for the bathroom came and the others were delayed and it would be "a week or two."  Two weeks passed and nothing.  Their customer service people were a joke.  I tried three other places to get the style I wanted and there was always enough of one but not another that was back ordered.  Three days of back and forth with this place until I told them to cancel the order.  I pieced an order together from Amazon with a similar design from another company.  Based on how crappy they were packed, we didn't hold out hope on the shape they would be in but amazingly only one was nicked.  I gave it to God and said that one was going behind the couch while waving my middle fingers in the air.

I ordered samples from a reclaimed brick place of the blend I liked.  We both thought they were gorgeous and I ordered two boxes of them praying they would all arrive in one piece because I was told they don't cover anything if they break.  Thankfully, they arrived in one piece but many of them were a deep, terra cotta orange which I hated and were not remotely close to what was represented in the original sample.  I understand they come from other buildings but ask if there is a color I don't want if it's going to vary that wildly from the sample you send.  I felt like they gave us the ones they didn't like.  We went through every one looking for damage then taking out the ones we didn't like.  We kept the ones that had some whitewash, fire damage or a little more fading going on like we wanted and I kept the ugly ones back in a different box so they didn't use them by accident.

The woman who sent me the handmade valance from another country sent it in a box so flimsy (think a box you get from Kohls to gift a sweater) and beat up it was a miracle it made it here undamaged.   Then we opened the box and both had heart attacks when it looked like she shipped me the wrong valance.  Thankfully it was just a bag used to cover it but it still put a few more grays on our heads so it counts even if it worked out okay in the end.  😜

That stuff was all before it was even officially started.  (The ceiling was done but nothing else at the time all of that happened and it didn't end there but that's another post because we were unknowingly racing against Covid.)

It's like literally every single thing that was our responsibility to find/purchase, had some issue going on.  I wanted to scream and a few times I did.  I wanted to do this reno so that we didn't have some big project that was going to suck up our summer like last year did with the basement.  I'm not complaining being down in the cool, comfy basement but we started on the 4th of July and before we knew it, it was mid-September with no road trips or socializing all summer.  (Little did we know...)

So even when you hire out good people to make your vision a reality, you have to remember all of the "jewelry" that completes everything is your responsibility.  Just finding things that you want can be hard if you're particular and I am.  I have always been visual and what I want is in my head and I don't stop until I get just that.   I know the Mr doesn't like reno's but he benefits from me grabbing on like a rabid dog for the things that will make our home a nicer space to live.

I've always been detail-oriented and that does bring on extra stress for me but in the end, it's worth it even if it's not so fun going through it.

I think.

The Mr does not agree.

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Friday, August 14, 2020

What I'm Reading This Week #33

Howdy do all!  Happy Friday!  Can you believe we're cruising into mid-August?  My Fall sensor is starting to kick in.  I'm hoping the La Nina they're leaning toward kicks in a little early because I'm ready for the sweat box weather to kick off for the year.

Now let's kick around...

This Is Your Brain on Exercise  (Better than your brain on drugs...cue over easy eggs.  High five for those who got the reference.)

What Really Happens to Your Body When You're Dehydrated   (All the things and they're not good.)

Obesity not defined by weight, says new Canada guideline  (As usual, our friends up north get it.)

A Secret Tip for Anger Management Success  (Tie your hands behind your back so you don't end up on YouTube?)

How to set up your bedroom for the best possible night’s sleep  (And if you still can't sleep...have the dude from Donkey Kong hit you with that sledgehammer.  Never mind, I don't think you're supposed to sleep with a concussion.)

8 Powerful Evening Habits That Will Prepare You For a Better Tomorrow  (Feed your unicorn high fiber so he'll be ready to ride in the morning.  Sorry, still feeling the effects of the sledgehammer theory above.)

How He or She Responds to a Boundary Is Telling  (Yes, it is.)

The 9 Most Important Things I Learned in Cooking School  (All good tips!)

36 S'mores Dessert Recipes for the Sweetest Summer/Fall Ever  (Don't mind if we do!)

This Couple Built an Entire English Pub in Their Friends' Backyard  (Now THIS is what every home needs!  Amazing!!)

The world's most beautiful small towns  (We've been to a few of these.  There's still a month of summer left, get out and safely explore!)

Be a Pen Pal to a Senior  (This campaign went viral about a month ago but I imagine letters are winding down.  If you'd like to make the day of a senior in a nursing home during this difficult time of isolation, click on their page and the address/info is in the caption of their picture.  Don't forget to check back around the holidays!  You can also do this locally by calling up and asking admins if they're willing to participate.)

We are tapping out online for the next few days which will be VERY nice.  I'm quite tired of looking at my screen and looking at him looking at his screens.  My eyes will be thankful for the break as well.

What's on tap for you guys this weekend?

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Thursday, August 13, 2020

Shows I Watched During Lockdown (part 1)

I'm not going to say show's WE watched because there are some I knew the Mr wouldn't care about either way and I needed something on in the background to drown out a-hole neighbors who were grating on my nerves more than usual in the beginning of it all.  So I've been keeping this running list in case you need some content because, like us, you feel like you've watched all the TV there is to watch.  There are some shows that I thought I'd eventually get to (Kominsky) and others I thought "I'd have to be locked in my house and desperate to watch that" (Girls) so there was no time like the present.

Barry (HBO) - Thank goodness for HBO throwing a bone on some free shows early on.  (Sorry Mr, I know you were hoping for Westworld.)  I've heard rave reviews about Barry and I love Henry Winkler and the chance to see Bill Hader in something other than a comedy.  Whoever plays Sally ruined it so hard for the both of us, it was irritating to watch and we almost abandoned it after three episodes.  Then something compelling happened and we had to ignore her to finish it.  Hader did a badass job the mid to late half of the second season especially when he snapped and went bat shit.  We liked it but not liked it enough to purchase HBO once a new season is out.  While I'd like to see Stephen Root's character get what's coming to him, I also have to balance the 60% of the show I have to tolerate to get to the good stuff.  Winkler is gold though.

Big Little Lies  (HBO)  With an all-star cast like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and the second season, Meryl Streep, I always wanted to see this show even though I had no clue what it was about.  Basically, like Melrose Place but with snooty, imperfect mommies trying to keep up appearances because of their high falootin' town.  I won't lie, I loved seeing Monterrey and Carmel by the Sea, California since we vacationed there so that was a big draw for me.  The Mr thought it was slow so he checked out but I hung in.  It was an interesting watch but I think they aren't filming a season three and I hate when a series ends where you have to guess how five lives turned out after facing some consequences.  Glad I saw it but I'm not pining for more.

Girls (kinda)  (Amazon Prime) - I had to stop watching this, not that I was paying too close attention anyway.  Vapid, self-centered wenches and as if I thought Adam Driver couldn't get more annoying, he was at his pinnacle in this show.  I don't care how it ends.  I don't care if any of them grow out of their crappy personalities or their journey to self-discovery because even with weeks of time to go on it with them, not worth my time.

The Kominsky Method (Netflix)  Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin make a surprisingly funny team in this dramedy.  Lots of stuff that sucks especially about getting old.  I'm not gonna lie that it stinks seeing the man I lusted after in Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile lookin' a little frail sometimes.  Regardless, he can still deliver and I'm looking forward to the next season should they decide to do one.   (They should...that would be a pretty lackluster way to end a series much less that season.  Do it up, Netflix!)

The Stranger (Netflix) - British thriller series that had a good trailer.  A stranger comes in and tells this dude his wife faked her pregnancy and gives him the tools to find out the truth.  He confronts the wife and all hell breaks loose as all is not what it seems.  A subplot with some kids too but in the end, it wasn't necessary and took away from the meat of the story.  A pretty good watch, especially since British shows, don't do the typical 13 episode season so you could binge it on a weekend or over a week with an episode or two a night.

Everything Sucks (Netflix)-  This is a coming of age show set in the late '90s.  The acting by the two leads Luke and Kate are seriously amazing and can't wait to see where their careers take them.  There are also some adult sub-plots thrown in for good measure that are really sweet.  It brings back all of the highs and lows of high school in a much more innocent time that unfortunately our kids and grandkids will never experience.  I was super bummed to find out that they did not renew so that cliffhanger will never be resolved.

Unbelievable (Netflix)- A teen girl is sexually assaulted then forced to rescind her report.  A female cop duo investigates similar assaults after stumbling on the similarities by accident.  They suspect it's someone with intimate knowledge of how to get away with such a crime.  A good series and worth a watch if you need something to get into.

The Society (Netflix) Probably not the best thing to watch on lockdown.  The world changed when high school kids come back from a failed field trip to discover the world has been turned upside down and no families are to be found.  They must govern themselves and things, of course, turn ugly.  The episodes could've been 30ish minutes over 50-60 minutes and there's a season two at the end of the year which means it's a long watch without a whole lot of payoff on the finale.  Not sure I'd recommend it unless you've watched everything else there is to watch.

Dead to Me (Netflix) We'd been chomping at the bit for season two of this show since we loved season one so much.  This season didn't disappoint even if there were some moments of suspension of disbelief involved.  It was an emotional roller coaster the whole season.  There's quite the twist in the last two episodes, especially the end which sets up season three.

Workin' Moms (Netflix)- This is one of those ones that I inadvertently got hooked on, blew through on a binge over a few weeks like a year ago and then I had to wait for the promise of a new season.  Thankfully, once I finished all of YouTube, a new season was only two weeks away.  I wish this season would've been better.  It just felt very thrown together and not quite as interesting.  If they do another season of this show, I don't think I'd need to see it until I get desperate for content.

The Tiger King (Netflix) -  That was a joke.  I will never watch that, ever.

What are some of the streaming shows you watched the past few months?

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