Friday, January 17, 2020

Thrifting: Putting the Sunny in Sunny Side Up

While I was visiting my kids a couple weeks ago, I watched as they cooked with their stainless steel Cuisinart pans and flew away with a desire to have my own stainless steel pans. Since we moved to this house in Arizona, I have not been happy with the pans that were left behind for using on the glass top stove. First, I don’t love the stove but there is nothing wrong with it and I cannot justify changing it. When it does finally bite the dust, DUDE, I’M GOING WITH A GAS STOVE. It’s not that I cook all that much anymore but when I do, I prefer natural gas. Secondly, I have never trusted non-stick coated pans as far as what that teflon is doing to our brains. I'm not here to argue that point, you can Google it. Plus, you have to be so careful to use certain utensils so you don’t scratch them. Once they are scratched, I trust them even less. Who knows what is leaching from the material they use to make them. Full disclosure: I have been using them because they are here but I think about these things every time I put them out on the stove to cook. The non-stick pan will be going into the donation box today
 
I brought my cast iron skillets with me even though I can’t use them on the glass top. Someone recently told me they use their cast iron on glass top but I can’t stand the thought of scratching it up and having to live with that. I can, however, use cast iron in the oven. I often bake cornbread and oven-fried potatoes. Cast iron skillets are great for baking cakes and brownies. Pretty much anything you can bake in a pan can be baked in a skillet. I’ll never give them up, and who knows, I may end up with a gas stove someday

 
Yesterday, I found a beautiful American-made stainless steel frying pan with a glass lid at the thrift store I visit often. I paid $10.99 for it and felt like I was stealing! It is 3-ply, which means it is heavy and the heat is distributed evenly. The real test came this morning when I made pancakes and sunny-side up eggs for the hubs. I think I heard angels sing when I placed my spatula in to pick up the eggs. They didn’t stick a bit and he felt like he was getting an $8 breakfast (minus the bacon). This was not happening with the non-stick pans I have been using. After doing some research, I learned that the pan was priced fairly but the real tipping point for buying it was that it came with a glass lid. Nothing I’ve found online shows this particular brand sold with a glass lid, so I suppose it is possible the lid belonged to another brand. Don’t care. I wanna see those sunny side up eggs turning opaque so I know the exact moment to pull them up and get them married to a stack of cakes, ya know what I mean? Not everyone can cook perfect eggs but I'm working towards that end goal.
 
I get excited about the silliest things. How about you? 

love, susan

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Currently

I intended to get this written yesterday but the day came and went in a flash. There was a movie and lunch with a friend, but before that I had to stop at the bank and then the tire store to put air in all 4 tires on my Mini Cooper. It had been sitting for about a month and I suspect the cold mornings sucked the air from each tire. Without further ado, here is what is happening Currently.

WEATHER!  The numbers this week are 71, 71, 73, 69, 68, 71 and 75! Next week they will be in the mid 70’s all week. It’s a little chilly in the mornings here but I’m not gonna whine too much. My friends I left behind in eastern Washington will not put up with my whining. 

FAVORITE MOMENTS I got to Facetime with my son and grandson on Saturday. The little guy is really developing a personality and I am thrilled to get to see his face “live”. I wish I could convey to my kids how quickly the time is going to go by ... but they’ll find out for themselves. When I was holding him a couple of weeks ago, I closed my eyes and tried to recall holding my own son 30+ years ago. There’s nothing quite like holding a baby.

MOVIES I’ve been watching a few things on Netflix. Grace and Frankie has a new season out tomorrow so you’ll know where to find me. 

  • The Irishman (loved it)
  • Up in the Air (watched this many times, still love it)
  • Dolemite is My Name (OMG Eddie Murphy! Lots of profanity.)
  • Burlesque (loved the costumes and music)
PODCASTS I’ve had Ronan Farrow’s “The Catch and Kill” podcast on my roll for a long time but had not listened to it until last week. It’s about the Harvey Weinstein story. I then listened to an interview that Dax Shepard (Armchair Expert) did with Ronan Farrow and I’m now a fan. Smart dude, that Ronan. I’ve been turning on podcasts first thing in the morning while the coffee is brewing. The hubs seems to be enjoying this brand of talk radio and I’m secretly hoping it will broaden his horizons from the normal political b.s. he listens to. I recently added another podcast called Bulletproof Radio that an old work friend suggested. It is a medical/health related podcast that is a bit meatier than I tend to listen to. BUT, I keep all these suggestions for later when I might be open to hearing them.

BOOKS I just finished listening to The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer. I am reading/listening to Maybe You Should See a Therapist by Lori Gottlieb. Other books I’ve read since I last blogged are Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. All good books!

QUOTE From “Little Women” 

“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”

Well, that’s about it for Currently. I need to close and get myself moving today. Hope you have your best day ever! Love, susan

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Relax

We’re only a couple Sundays into the new year and I think I got this relaxing thing down. Today, I took two naps. I’m serious about this “taking it easy on Sundays” thing. Every time I had a slight thought that was about to guilt me into doing some chore I didn’t want to do, I reminded myself “Hey, it’s Sunday”.  

The weather has been colder than usual here and it kind of takes it out of me. I had ice on my window one morning last week. Imagine my surprise. I only got out to walk Remi once last week. As I write this, I am going to resolve to do better this coming week. I do have a pair of thin gloves I could dust off for morning walks. No excuses.

Tomorrow, I have a date with a friend to go see “Little Women” and then lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant. We go back to the oral surgeon on Wednesday for a recheck. And, I have plenty of things to do this week that will make time fly by.

In the meantime, I’m going to savor how it felt to do nothing today. I’m really late to the party when it comes to down time. I have to admit I relish the idea of getting some books read this year, taking time to brush my dogs, and maybe make a new recipe on Sundays. Or, not.

I’m going to try to get back to posting “Currently” on Mondays. I’ll write a little about the books I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, and whatever else I’ve been doing.

Thanks for dropping in. Did you get a nap this weekend?

Love, susan

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Green Eggs and Skip the Ham

Since I’ve been at my kids’ place for the better part of 14 days, I have been eating well. They recently came home with a newborn and are in the process of adoption. I didn’t come here today to talk about him though. I’m here to talk about home cooking and what a joy it has been to be here while my kids get through the busy days of parenthood. I had forgotten how much the world revolves around little people when they first come home. Holy cow.

My son and his wife have always enjoyed cooking at home but since baby has arrived, I have been surprised by their continued commitment to cook all meals from scratch and keep it creative. We have been eating 3 beautiful meals a day. My job is to fill/unload the dishwasher. We eat so much that we run the dishwasher twice a day! Everything is made with fresh food and all the dishes lean heavily on the vegan side. My daughter-in-law is severely lactose intolerant so there is rarely any dairy in the fridge whatsoever. Hardly a day has gone by that we haven’t had something that wasn’t made better by adding a slice of avocado or a dollop of guacamole.

Typically, my kids sit down on Sunday and write out a dinner menu and then make a shopping list from that. They both have an app they each have access to so when one or the other thinks of something to add to the list, they can both see it. I’ve been invited to go shopping a couple of times and I jump at the chance to go along. It has been interesting and I’ve learned a few things that I’ll be incorporating into my own shopping sprees.
  • Only buy what I’m going to use this week.
  • I don’t need to put every vegetable in a plastic bag at the store.
  • Sprouts has a nice bulk section in Denver so I’ll bet they do in Yuma also.
  • You can take your own clean containers to fill up in bulk section and the cashier will subtract the weight of the container (called “taring”). (They use Weck glass containers, which are quite heavy)
  • Last night’s dinner can usually be worked over into something fabulous for breakfast if you keep an open mind.
  • Freeze leftovers for those days I just don’t want to cook.
Some of my favorite meals have been burrito bowls, Spanish rice, tacos filled with various food items from previous dinners, avocado toast with a fried egg, hash made with potatoes and beans, onions, peppers. We’ve had gnocchi twice now with a lovely homemade marinara. Nothing they have made has been difficult. I believe it is a matter of having the right tools and the right ingredients on hand. And, a really good cook book.  I’ve never been one to use a cookbook but I think I may invest in one good book to start with.

For the month of January, my kids are going meatless. This, for me, is an easy one. I love all things beans and could live on eggs, peanut butter, and hummus. I will only be here a couple more days but I’m already looking forward to seeing what’s on my plate for breakfast tomorrow.

Do you cook a lot from scratch? What is your favorite go-to meal to make?

Love, susan

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Relax!

Well, this is a first. I'm going to attempt posting from my phone. I'm in Denver for the week and by the time I get home, New Year's will be old news.

Last night I attended my first ever yoga session. It went pretty well. I enjoyed the peacefulness of the beautiful space it was held in, the dim lighting, the calming voice of the instructor, the music, and most of all that I didn't make a fool of myself while doing basic stretch poses. Read: I didn't fart!

I've been thinking about my 'word' for 2020 and it was so obvious to me about a month ago that I started practicing it by declaring Sundays as a day of rest. Yeah, I know, it's not a new idea.

                           R•E•L•A•X

Many reading this may not have trouble relaxing but it has been an ongoing challenge for me. I wasted time in my earlier years. An astronomical amount of time. Relaxing has not been a word in my vocabulary all that long. When I finally woke up (circa 2001) to the reality of where my life choices had taken me, I was set on a path to start really living vs. being a feather in the wind. There was no time to waste.

I'm just now learning that relaxing is not wasted time. Being a self-admitted slow learner, I'm here to say it is my mission this year to slow my roll and relax a bit.

    . . . . .

We moved to Arizona in October. We have neighbors on both sides of us. My 87 year old aunt to the right, and a sweet older couple from Montana on the left. I have recently become a student of growing older and these people are teachers to me, and they don't even know it.

Aunt G starts her days early, often going to exercise class, then she sometimes drives seniors to doctor appointments or to the store for groceries. She squeezes in some golf dates, and in between she tends a few flowers and enjoys sitting outside (weather permitting) at 4pm daily. She seems to always be in motion but it seems to be at a relaxed pace.

I often spot my Montana neighbor sitting in his easy chair while reading a book. I've taken note that he sits for hours reading what must be riveting words. I marvel at his tenacity in holding down that chair. I want whatever he has for chair glue. I sit down to read and I am distracted in 100 ways. Can you relate to this?

I've given a lot of thought to ways I can practice relaxing. Writing, reading, walking, cooking, a little cleaning, napping, phone calls to loved ones. Rinse & repeat.

The main thing is I need to not fill my calendar with too many things. And, I need to quit thinking of "relax" as a dirty word. Ya know? I have some extremely deep seated ideas that have been hard to overcome. No blame here, just the facts.

What about you? Do you have a word for 2020? Tell me!

love, susan



Friday, December 13, 2019

Listening

 

My aunt turned 87 this week and we celebrated yesterday with dinner at a mutual friends' house. I have been working on my listening skills. It came in handy last night as there were 8 people at the party and 4 conversations going on all at once for about 3 hours. That's a lot of numbers in one paragraph, huh.
 
This last year I have been challenged after being diagnosed with presbylarynx. Google says this about it: "Presbylarynx is a condition in which age-related atrophy of the soft tissues of the larynx results in weak voice and restricted vocal range and stamina. In other words, it is the loss of vocal fold tone and elasticity due to aging which affects voice quality."
 
Old lady voice. Let's be real. It doesn't hurt but it is irritating. When I'm in a room full of talking people, I can't really respond if I have to project my voice over other noises. It makes it difficult to call my dogs in. If I had to yell right now to save my life, this would be my last blog post. I went to see a speech therapist last year and she gave me a lot of great advice for living with this condition. Developing the habits I need to keep my voice from getting worse is a challenge. Basically, I'd rather just not talk. So, I listen. It doesn't make the condition go away but the point is that I don't want it to get worse. Plus, I learn so much when I listen.
 
Back to last night. We heard some great stories from everyone in the room. My cousin and her hubs made a trip to Phoenix recently and there was a great story about trying to catch an old fashioned taxi cab to and from a basketball game (Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona State). Their dilemma was only made worse by them having to see the Oregon Ducks lose a game while being seated in an Arizona State fan club area. If you know any Ducks fans, you'd know they dress in a fashion so that no one can make any mistake who they are rooting for. Can you imagine having to sit with the rival team fans? Me neither. LOL! Later, my cousin's hubs told a story about going out for a walk here in Yuma the first time he visited, not knowing how awful dark it gets and the fact that we don't have street lights out in our neighborhood ... well ... he got lost and ended up sitting at the closed grocery store ALL NIGHT until the sun came up. (I should add here that laughing hysterically also causes me problems with my vocal chords, so I have to keep my laughter in check. Not easy with this crowd.)
 
We also learned that my aunt's family moved to Oregon from Nebraska due to the great depression. We had a nice discussion about wringer washers, outhouses, and life without electricity. These are the things that stuck with me. There was so much more but lately I am able to hold on to only a certain number of memories.
 
Well, now I've come to the end of my post. One of my fellow bloggers wrote a nice post this week and it prompted me to sit still long enough to write this. I'm having a terrible time getting back to writing but I am terribly grateful for the times like last night that give me a whole lot of things to think about.
 
I'll close this with a question: Can you listen to 3 or 4 conversations at the same time?
 
love, susan
 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

December: This and That

Hello friends. Just checking in and making sure I still know how to type. I have been a slacker in all things lately, writing most of all. Journaling has gone to the wayside, photography has been minimal. For no particular reason, I've been like a ship with no rudder since we moved to Arizona. At least, it feels that way.
 
We've been here 6 weeks now. Those first couple of weeks were filled with too many things to do. Besides getting the water and electricity switched over, there was getting our medical records transferred, dental appointments for the hubs, property business, finding a new hairdresser, etc. Every day I've had things to do. I got my library card renewed, found some new thrift stores, signed up to volunteer at Helping Hands, and developed a walking route with my youngest dog.
 
Remi and Missy
This last week, our old girl, Missy, has gone downhill in health. She's not eating and is moving very slowly. I suspect she is in the process of dying. The best we can figure, she is about 14 years old. She is still drinking water and holding her bowels but last night she threw up at 2am. She is preferring to lay outside by herself these days. I have been remembering an old German shepherd we had when I lived in Fairbanks. He was a great family dog who never strayed from home but when it was time to die, he took off. We never found him. I remember my parents saying that sometimes dogs do that, they go somewhere quiet to die. I'd like to think Missy just wants some quiet time to think about her life and die in peace. Is it awful that I wish for her to simply slip over to the Rainbow Bridge in her sleep? I have bouts of sadness thinking about life without her but I also know this is part of the deal.
 
This week I have two volunteer transports for Helping Hands. I pick up elderly people and take them to doctor appointments. I am also helping set up a huge yard sale for Helping Hands ... 1,250 tables of stuff. It takes a week to set up this giant fundraiser. They put me in "knickknacks" to help. I'm pretty sure I'm the youngest volunteer there, which is inspiring. Old people helping old people. It's pretty cool! The best part of this organization is that they have a singleness of purpose and they are very good at what they do. I'll write more about that in a post this month.
 
Well, that's about it for now. I am 13 days away from going to meet my new grandbaby in Denver. Can I just tell you how hard it has been to not be a future tripper? I am not able to share photos just yet because the adoption process is not complete. I can tell you that LP (little person) is thriving and just may be the cutest baby on the planet!
 
And, oh, the house in Washington sold and we closed early last week. What a relief to check that off the "to do" list.
 
Final thought before I close ... I've been trying to reel in my thoughts but it hasn't worked so far. I'm glad to be back in the land of warmer weather and blue skies. I am amazed at how busy I have stayed since moving here. I spend a lot of time outdoors watching the hummingbirds come and go. It's all good.
 
love, susan

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Downsizing: Halfway to a Tiny Home

💗 We are almost one month at our new space and I finally have a few minutes to write. One of my friends has been asking for pictures of our new home so I thought I'd put them here for my journal's sake. 💗 First of all, if you have not followed me before, let me catch you up. We recently moved back to Yuma, Arizona after having been away for 11 years. Moving back, we cut our living space in half (908 sq ft). 💗 I truly don't have a desire to live in a tiny home but I can see how some could enjoy it if they were outdoor people or working opposite shifts. This house we're in now has plenty of places to get away from a nagging spouse. Me. I'm the nagging spouse. 💗 There is a casita behind the house and an outdoor space for the hubs to keep his table saw along with three small sheds for tools and whatnots.  There is what the previous owners called the outdoor living room which has a table and chairs for outdoor activities like eating and reading the newspaper. The casita has proven to be a great place for me to hide away for an afternoon nap. My dogs love the floor in there and I can watch TV in between snores. It has a bathroom and makes a very nice guest room. They are not pictured here. 💗 The story with this house is that my Uncle Milt and his second wife, Peggy, owned it until my uncle died. Peggy remarried and her new hubs already had a place about 20 miles from here so they sold this place to the nicest people, who recently sold it to us. It was a turnkey property so we didn't have to bring one piece of furniture with us. As a matter of fact, there was more furniture and "stuff" here than I cared to have so I have been paring it down as time allows. One of the local charities  has pickup service and they've already picked up 14+ boxes of stuff the owner left behind. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't love dust collectors so they have gone on to be loved by someone else, and the dollars will go to a great  organization.💗 My favorite thing about this house besides the reduced size is the open ceilings. I hope you can see from the photos the open ceilings are throughout (except for the bathroom) this small home, which makes air flow like you would not believe! The other thing I love more than life itself is the tiled floors and the Pergo flooring in the living room. Vacuuming and mopping the entire house takes less than 30 minutes. Another nice feature is the propane fireplace. Believe it or not, it does get cold enough in December, January, February that people turn the heat on at night. 💗 My dogs have adjusted better than I anticipated. They bark far less than in our previous digs. It occurs to me as I write this that because of the open fencing, they can see people walking by rather than only hearing them. They love to find a nice spot either in the shade near me or in the back corner of the lot to lay and watch the property. Two of my fur kids are cattle dogs and in my mind there are imaginary cows to watch. Instinct is strong. 💗 I will write another post soon to include the outdoor living space and casita. I spend a great deal of time outdoors, which is exactly what I pictured before we moved. Loving this space! More about Yuma to come.   love, susan

Living room/Gene's computer space
Hallway from living room to dining/kitchen

Dining room/my computer space

bedroom

bathroom

kitchen
 
open air ceiling

this space in bedroom was cut out to allow more air flow

on the other side of this wall is the bedroom

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Back in the Day: Lukewarm Coffee

 
This week I had a fun interaction with my daughter-in-law that led me down a rabbit hole for a while. She and my son are new parents. It's been a long time since I was responsible for a tiny new life and things have changed so much in 35 years. One great invention that is often overlooked (I'm sure) is the thermal coffee cup. Back in the day, when I was a young mother, I had to learn to drink my coffee lukewarm. It never failed that I would sit down to enjoy my first cup and my son would have needs. Babies are so high maintenance. Back in the day, we didn't have insulated, metal coffee mugs. I sat here wondering why such a great idea took so long to develop. I'm always thinking that all a person needs to become a multi-millionaire is one great idea. Right? Whoever invented these was a genius and my personal hero.
 
There are so many other new great inventions. The kids made a wish list on Amazon and I chose to buy them a very high-tech electronic baby swing. It's the same one baby is accustomed to at the hospital and I want them to have anything that's going to make life easier. Of course, it has an app. They can program a whole bunch of stuff to customize it to exactly what baby loves, including music. Back in the day, we struggled to find the sweet spot in every situation. These new fandangle pieces of equipment take the guess work out. Back in the day, we had to get up out of our comfortable napping spot and wind the swing again if we were to have any peace at all. I'm not sure if new parents realize how much they are missing out on the click click click of those old wind up swings. I now wonder if the sudden ceasing of that now-not-so-soothing noise is what caused baby to wake up out of a dead sleep. Why? Why? Why did it take so long for technology?
 
I'm excited to go visit before the new year not only to see my new grandbaby but to check out how millennials are doing parenting these days. I can hardly wait! But in the meantime, I'll be thinking about all the great things we have nowadays that make life a little easier for parents. 
 
love, susan


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Saturday Upsides: A Simpler Life

Last night we said so long to the old Honda Silver Wing. I said good riddance under my breath. My hubs has had this bike for a very long time and it has been sitting in the corner of the garage ever since I met him 18 years ago. I went for a ride twice on it before something went wrong that never got repaired. Earlier in the week, I thought I had another home for it, but the guy who was going to trade landscaping services flaked out on me. I fired him. That's a first for me. The upside is that today I have the ability to recognize bullshit when I see it and I called it. The hubs was happier with this deal because he got a little jingle in his pocket.
 
Later this week, I hired a neighbor's girlfriend to help me with the landscaping. She's a freakin' work horse and together we're getting it done. With every rock I move, and every hot shower to wash the dirt off, I am convinced we are heading in the right direction. We are moving to almost exactly half the living space we have now. No garage. No lawn to mow. Low, low, low maintenance.
 
I have been longing for a simpler life. It's complicated and physically challenging right now as move towards it but as I was telling a friend last night, we have experiences that we tuck under our belt so that when things get hard, we can say we've been through worse. I've been through much worse than this move, trust me on that.
 
What are you moving towards? What experience do you pull from to get you through current hard spots?  Tell me.
 
love, susan

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Currently

WHAT'S THE FORECAST ... numbers this week are 94, 99, 93, 96, 97. I love this time of year. It's cool in the mornings and it takes all day to get to the high temp. Fall is in the leaves already.
 
MY FAVORITE MOMENT FROM LAST WEEK ... We drove to Yuma to look at the house we are buying. It was a quick trip but I really enjoyed the afternoon with my aunt, and the next day I got to spend time with my cousin in her pool. I think time in the pool during the summer is my favorite thing to do. I also took an overnight trip over to Portland and spent a little time with the grandkids. Dinner at Carl's Jr. with the youngest was treasured time.
 
WHAT'S RIGHT IN THE WORLD ... Well, we're getting things cleaned out and some stuff has gone to the thrift store, a bunch of camping gear went to a good friend who has 3 kids, one motorcycle should be rehomed tomorrow.
 
WHAT I'M RESISTING ... Quite frankly, I have to resist blowing my top every day while we are in this transition period of moving. I've been through many moves before so I know it is stressful and I just need to remember to do what is right in front of me. I am resisting future tripping. It's all going to be okay.
 
WHAT I'M THINKING ... I have had a lot of race brain lately. Lots of appointments on my schedule. A lot to think about. I have started saying no to social engagements because my time to get stuff done is dwindling. I always hate missing out on fun things so I won't say no to everything but will be selective in how I use my time from now until we move. I am amazed at how busy I have been since my last day of work.
 
Yuma, AZ sunset
WHAT'S ON MY CAMERA ... I went out early (6:00am) to photograph a friend and her family. She had a great idea for props and posing. It was fun and I was glad to do it for her. Tomorrow I am doing some puppy photos for the animal rescue team. It will be my last shoot for them.
 
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS ...  I'm not sad we won't be spending another winter here. I look forward to warmer, sunnier weather on a daily basis. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Winter visitors. Old friends. Zero seasonal affective disorder.
 
IF THIS IS MY LAST DAY, MY FINAL THOUGHT IS ... I am going to try to be nicer  today. I have been on edge a lot and it's not how I want to be. I wouldn't want my last day to be like it has been lately ... me yelling at my hubs over stupid shit. Life should be enjoyed every day. I'm glad I'm writing this now so I can change my attitude before the day gets rolling.

love, susan

Thrifting: Putting the Sunny in Sunny Side Up

While I was visiting my kids a couple weeks ago, I watched as they cooked with their stainless steel Cuisinart pans and flew away with a de...