June 30, 2020

RECIPE: Keema


I feel like every time I post a recipe, I say that it's my favorite food ever. But this dish is truly on my top five list. I have no idea what "Keema" really is, but I found a similar recipe years ago on SparkPeople and it sounded interesting, so I gave it a try. (The original uses beef, but my family prefers ground turkey instead.)

It is SO GOOD. It sounds a bit odd when looking at the ingredients, but I promise it's worth trying. I never would have thought to put these ingredients together. I'm so glad I tried it, though! It's very simple but it tastes amazing.

Here is a printer-friendly version!


Keema

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1-2 large peeled diced potatoes (about 10-12 oz) (the potato in the photo looks yellow because of the curry powder--but I just use regular russet potatoes)
1 cup frozen peas
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 Tbsp curry powder
Cooked white rice for serving

Directions:

Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add the onion and ground turkey. Cook until the turkey is browned. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, cinnamon, ginger, and curry powder.

Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the peas halfway through cooking time. (Add water if it becomes too thick. It should have the consistency of chili).

Serve over rice. Makes 4 generous servings.



June 29, 2020

My Aching Muscles!

Today has been an exhausting day--my body hasn't ached this much in a long time!

Since we got the garage set up yesterday to make it easier for me to work on the drywall, I decided to start on it first thing this morning. I went out to the garage at 8:00 and got right to work taping and mudding the drywall.

Being Monday, a couple of my favorite podcasts released their weekly episodes, so I was excited to listen to them. I also downloaded a couple of new podcasts to listen to as well, and I really like one that I listened to today. It's a true crime podcast called Going West.

At around 10:00, my parents came over with Luke and Riley (my nephew and niece). The kids had stayed the night at my parents' house and my mom wondered if they could come over and swim in our neighbor's pool. I checked with him last night to make sure it was okay (he put up the pool a couple of months ago and told us we could use it any time--we hadn't taken advantage of that until today).

I don't like to swim, but I stopped working on the garage so I could go watch Luke and Riley swim. They are so cute! I cannot believe how fast they're growing. My mom and Eli got in the pool with the kids.



When they were getting ready to go back to my parents' house, Luke asked if he could come inside to see the kittens, so I brought him in the house. When he was leaving, we was waving bye to everyone, including the pets. As he was walking out the door, he called out, "Bye! If you need anything, just give us a call!"

I was dying laughing. I'm assuming that he's heard Brian and Becky say that as they leave people's houses. It was so cute! Kids really do pay attention to every little thing that we do and say, that's for sure.

After they left, I went right back into the garage to work. Jerry took Eli fishing and I wanted to get as much done as possible while they were gone to hopefully surprise Jerry with my progress. I couldn't believe how much faster it went now that we made more space in the garage!

I was able to finish taping about 90% of the garage. I stayed out there all afternoon, and finally came inside at around 4:00. My legs felt like I'd been doing squats all day (when I'm on the ladder, my legs are constantly flexed while I keep my balance). It's a tough workout.

I took a cold shower and then just plopped myself on the couch and didn't move. My muscles were dead. It was nice to just chill and play Best Fiends on my phone while Jerry made dinner. Tomorrow, I'm going to see if I can get a second coat of mud on everything that I taped today! If I can even get out of bed--right now I feel super stiff, haha.

June 28, 2020

Garage Progress

Today was a much better day than yesterday. With the quarantine letting up here in Michigan, more and more things are opening and happening, and I just feel overwhelmed. We have doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, etc, and it's back to reality.

Yesterday, I drove Eli to Jerry's sister's house to do some work for her in the yard. He's trying to earn money to buy a new fishing reel, so he asked some family members if they have any work for him. He pulled weeds and replaced mulch, and did some stuff with the landscaping for Laura (Jerry's sister). I'm glad he took the initiative to earn his own money!

Jerry was off work today, and there are going to be some big changes with his schedule. He's going to start working nights again! We are both very excited about that. The night shift works better for all of us, and he sleeps much better on nights. He'll still work a swing shift (meaning his shifts during the week will change days, but it'll still be the night shift).

When he switched to working day shift, it was SO HARD to adjust. I was looking back at my weight log, and I noticed that he'd started working straight days just before I started gaining weight. I felt so overwhelmed and stressed out, and I was eating to try to ease my stress.

I really hope that now that his shift has changed, I'll feel less stressed out and I'll be able to finally focus on taking better care of myself. Jerry is happy about it, too--he always slept better on nights and he'll be able to spend some time alone once in a while.

On days, he NEVER gets "alone time" to do whatever he wants to do (watch wrestling, play video games, etc). When he works nights, and he it's his day off, he still stays up all night. So, he'll use that time at night to catch up on "his" shows, play the Xbox, and stuff like that--uninterrupted.

I know exactly how important that "alone time" is. If I didn't have time to myself regularly, I would be a total nightmare to live with.

Today, we spent time working on the garage. First, he took Eli to a couple of grocery stores to return cans and bottles (for deposits). No stores were accepting them since the quarantine started (and only a few stores accept them now), so they just built up and were taking up so much space in the garage. Also, after Eli worked for Laura, she gave him seven bags of cans/bottles in addition to paying him for his work! (It ended up being nearly $50 worth of deposits. He was thrilled.)

While they were gone, I worked on some more taping/mudding the drywall in the garage. When Jerry got home, he and I worked on moving all of our "stuff" to the side of the garage that is already done (as far as the taping and mudding). I sanded the mud on that side as well, so it's ready for primer and paint! I am SO EXCITED to be able to prime and paint everything.

Here is what one corner looked like before and now (in progress). Keep in mind that the walls and ceiling still need to be painted, so it doesn't look good right now. But it's progress!



I still have about two-thirds of the garage to finish with the taping and mudding. Still, we got rid of a lot of stuff while we were moving things around today and now I have a lot of space in the rest of the garage. I think I'll be able to get the taping and mudding done in 4-5 days.

Now that I'm done with that one side of the garage (not "done" done, but just ready for paint), we moved almost all of our stuff to that one side. That made a ton of room on the other side of the garage so that I can freely move around to tape and mud the ceiling and finish the walls.

This is where we moved all of our stuff...



And this is the space where I have to work! Once I get to the far wall, we'll move that other stuff. For now, I can finish the ceiling and the walls that aren't obstructed. The seams only have 1-2 coats of mud on them now.



Jerry has the next couple of days off, so we're hoping to pull out a couple of enormous bushes--I don't know what they are called, but they look like this (this photo is not of mine--I just have one of these bushes on each front corner of my house). And mine are HUGE--they are taller than the house!


When we had Tim come out and spray our house to keep the spiders away, he said that those bushes are the biggest attraction for spiders. They also just look way too tall for the house. Since we're going to be replacing the porch, we need to work on the landscaping anyways. So, I'm happy to get rid of them.

Cutting them down and pulling out the roots is going to be a challenge, but I hope we'll be able to tackle it while Jerry is off work. I'm excited to see what the house will look like without them! I know nothing about landscaping, but Nathan's girlfriend, Alex, is into it. I asked her to help me out when I'm ready to work on it.

Anyway, it's been fun seeing the changes as we progress. I'm thrilled with how the garage is looking--even thought it's not finished, it already looks so much better. (And I have to admit, I'm pretty proud that I've done all of the drywall by myself.) Thankfully, I remembered to take "before" photos, so I will post everything once it's done!

June 27, 2020

Just Not Feeling It Today

Today was a really bad day, and I just don't feel like writing. Nothing terrible happened--it's just one of those days where nothing seems to go right and I feel extremely overwhelmed. I wrote yesterday how I was super tired and I went to bed a couple of hours early--but I didn't end up falling asleep until after 1:30!

So, I'll just share a funny photo I took yesterday. Eli was making a sandwich and the kittens smelled the ham. They went nuts for it!

Duck is vocal when he wants something, so he was sitting at Eli's feet meowing. And then Chick is the climber/balancer. He literally climbed up Eli's leg to get to the ham! Once Duck saw Chick do that, he tried to do it, too, but he wasn't as good at it.

Chick looks like a squirrel when they come get nuts from us. If I'm sitting down on the deck, they'll crawl up my leg to grab a walnut.

Anyway, I thought this picture was funny!


June 26, 2020

Lost Mail (Where does it go?!)

It's only 10:50 PM as I start to write this, but I'm so ready to go to bed now. I usually stay up until 1:30 or 2:00 AM (way too late, I know, but I just don't get tired until then). I'm going to keep this post short so I can get some sleep while my body is actually looking forward to it.

I've been working on two projects the past few days. First, I've been making more face masks. About 20 of the people I sent them to never received them... ugh!

Where does lost mail go, anyway? Is there some warehouse somewhere that just has mountains of "lost" mail? I had a return label on all of them and I took them to the post office to make sure the postage was correct. I just find it so crazy that 20 pieces of mail can get lost like that! There were people in California and even Alaska that received theirs; but a couple of women who live less than an hour away from me have not.

Anyway, I've been making more masks for the people that didn't receive theirs, and I finished those this morning. I love the new fabric! I also bought some nose pieces from Amazon so I don't have to use the pipe cleaners anymore. Not sure if these will feel any different, but I was worried that the pipe cleaners will eventually rust--and these nose pieces are supposed to be anti-rust.

Hopefully they will reach their destinations this time!


I've also been working on taping and mudding the garage. I have about one third of it done. (Yes, it's taking forever.) If I didn't have to work around all of the stuff in the garage and if I didn't have to go up and down the ladder eight million times, it would have been done ages ago.

(We have a zero turn lawn mower that takes up SO MUCH SPACE and it's not something that can be easily picked up and set aside. We also have a super heavy set of shelves, my various power tools, tables, a couple of couches and other big things that need some time to move around. Very inconvenient!)

Instead of doing the first layer of mud on the entire garage, and then the second layer on the entire garage, etc., I've been working in sections (so I don't have to move all of our "stuff" each day). I basically divided the garage into sixths and I'm working on each section (walls and ceiling) at a time.

I'll put the first coat of mud on, let it dry 24 hours. Second coat, 24 hours. Final coat, 24 hours.

Once I get a full section done, I use that spot to move all of our stuff and then I'll have room to do another section. I've caught up on all of my true crime podcasts, and I had been using those as a motivator to go work. I need to try out some new ones.

Anyway, I'm off to bed! I'll try to get some progress pictures of the garage tomorrow. (It just looks ugly, so it's not really worth showing--it'll look much better when the whole thing is done!)

June 25, 2020

Everything Sucks!


If you were born circa 1980-1984-ish, then you MUST watch the show on Netflix called "Everything Sucks".

Jerry and I watched several episodes over the past couple of days and it makes for some serious nostalgia and laughs in general. The storyline is kind of corny, but I love seeing all of the references to the late-90's--things that were popular when I was in school.

I very rarely buy music (maybe 1-2 songs per year) but I bought about 8 songs from the soundtrack of this show! Hahaha.

I was born in 1982 and graduated high school in 2000 (Jerry was born in 1980 and graduated in 1999). This TV show takes place in high school in 1996 in a city called Boring, Oregon. Boring is actually a real place! I was so excited when I saw it on the show because my friend Thomas runs a half-marathon there pretty much every year (the "Boring" half marathon").

The show caught my attention right away with the song by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "The Impression That I Get". Once I heard that, I couldn't stop watching. And I was spotting all sorts of 90's references!

Here are several that I noted:

- pagers (no cell phones). This is the one that I had! (It was my mom's but she made me bring it with me when I went out with friends):

- Song: The Freshmen, The Verve Pipe
- Song: Wonderwall, Oasis
- Song: Two Princes, Spin Doctors
- TV stands for classrooms


- Dennis Rodman (just a reference to his looks)
- hair styles--buns, twists (I was a fan of the mini buns, as evidenced below, haha)



- Song: Ace of Base (after Amy Grant, this was the second CD I would buy!)
- choker necklaces
- a LOT of music videos montaged into a parody (this is the BEST! It's in episode 2, if you just want to watch that--totally worth it.)
- Song: Lovefool, The Cardigans
- Slang: "cool beans"
- dial-up internet and waiting for a graphic to download
- Food: Surge


- slap bracelets
- wearing socks with sandals
- Slang: "phat"
- hair with a middle-part (both guys and girls)
- collared shirts with a t-shirt underneath
- scribbling with a pen until it was burning hot and then touching someone with it (hahaha! This is horrible, and I didn't remember it until seeing it, but... well, it happened).
- Discman (this is the one I had... it was actually my older brother's, but I borrowed it for the one or two CD's I owned!)


- Food: Zima (This photo is from when I took "before" photos from my brother's bathroom--there was a random bottle of Zima next to the shower! Apparently, Zima was "back" for a time recently... I don't know if it still is...?)


- Slang: "Holy Schnikes!"
- Song: A whole conversation about "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette
- Food: Fruitopia
- Food: Pizzerias chips


- Slang: "...all that and a bag of chips"
- Food: Ring Pops
- JTT (Jonathan Taylor Thomas!)

There are so many more than I'm forgetting, but if you're a late-90's high schooler, you need to watch this just for the nostalgia! It's a fun show. And even though it has a corny storyline, it's cute to watch :)

The show ended with a cliffhanger and I don't know if it was canceled or what. The first season was from 2018, so I don't know if we'll ever see another season. I hope so!

June 24, 2020

Nearly Eight Weeks!

We adopted the kittens almost eight weeks ago(!), so I thought I'd write a post about what we've learned about them and how they're fitting in.

After I wrote yesterday's post, I asked Jerry if he could try to get a picture of Duck sleeping on my head. When he got up for work this morning, he took this photo:


Isn't Duck so funny?! I used to hate that he was constantly trying to sit on my head, and I couldn't sleep at ALL. But now I think his warm little body and his loud purring are comforting. He has such a fun personality!

The kittens have grown so much since we got them. I didn't realize just how much they've grown until I was looking at some older photos of them.

Here is an old picture of Duck:



And an old picture of Chick:



This is what they looked like shortly after we adopted them--see how they both fit on this little cat bed?



And here is a picture of just Chick on the same bed, taken just now. See how much they've grown?




As far as their personalities...

Duck (the short-haired one) is extremely smart. He also loves food more than anything in the world and will stop at nothing to try to get at whatever you're eating. We have a jar with cat treats in it and whenever I shake the jar, Duck bolts to the cat tree faster than a bullet. He will literally climb up my pants trying to get to the jar.

He likes to play fetch. He's actually better at it than Joey is! He'll bring me a toy mouse that squeaks when you shake it, and then I throw it for him. He'll run after it, pick it up in his mouth, and bring it back to me. Over and over again.

It's funny, he seems to know when his toys are getting close to a spot where he won't be able to get at them (under the couch, under the stove, etc). When he gets close to a spot like that, he'll pick up his toy in his mouth and carry it somewhere else, and then set it down and start batting it around again. I've never seen a cat do this before!

His favorite toy is actually a plastic bobbin spool from my sewing machine. I have several, and he got a hold of an empty one. It's been his favorite toy every since!

Duck makes a little half-purr, half-meow noise that sounds like a question when he sees one of us walking toward him. Estelle does this too, and it's funny how much the two of them remind me of each other. Duck has the same "tortitude" as Estelle, only he's not a tortie.

Interestingly, I noticed that Duck has a tiny patch of hair on his right side that is a reddish-brown color. He's solid black other than that. I wonder how it will look as he grows! I'll see if I can get a good picture of it later.

Duck loves to sleep either draped over my head, or if I'm just not in the mood for that, he'll poke his way under the covers and sleep curled up as close to me as he can. For the first few weeks that we had the kittens, I was so scared I was going to crush one of them in the bed! They were so tiny.

Duck is super curious about everything--another thing that reminds me of Estelle. He has to be the first to check out every "new" item he comes across. Yesterday, I had a video "office visit" with my psychiatrist, and Duck kept jumping up on the table to try to play with the cords to my earbuds!

Here, he is trying to see what the heck Joey is eating--and he's definitely looking for a spot where he can poke his head in and eat it, too...



Duck is extremely playful, too--he's faster than Chick, so whenever I throw a toy, he "wins" the race to get to it first. However, Chick has his own talents, which I'll describe below.

Chick's personality is definitely different from Duck's. Chick cracks me up because he loves to balance on small things. We have a small scratching post/toy and Chick climbs to the top and then balances all four paws on the slippery plastic top. Earlier today, he was balanced on the back of a barstool--no wider than a butter knife!


Chick has a little tuft of hair that sticks out behind each ear that makes me laugh more and more as it grows longer. His fur is black, too, but it almost looks white sometimes--the undercoat is so light in color that it just depends on the angle that you're looking at him.

I took this picture just now--see the little tuft of hair behind his ear? It's so funny to see from behind!


Chick is extremely curious. He never looks directly at me--he's always noticing all the things around me. If anything moves, even a fraction of a millimeter, he notices and it draws his attention immediately. His reaction time isn't as fast as Duck's, however, so he always loses a race against his brother.

Chick is also a little "slow" compared to Duck. He usually looks for his brother's cue to figure out what's going on. If Duck races to the cat tree to get treats, then Chick is right on his heels.

While it's pretty clear that I am Duck's favorite person, Chick doesn't seem to have a favorite. He goes to anyone who will give him whatever attention he's craving at the moment--food, playtime, cuddles, etc. He typically sleeps at the head of the bed by Jerry, but he'll leave for several hours and sleep on Eli's bed (right by Eli's head). (Noah sleeps with his door closed to all pets.)

Chick is extremely bold when it comes to checking out Phoebe or Estelle (or even Joey). He loves to chase after Phoebe (who despises Chick) only to get hissed and swiped at. I think that maybe he thinks Phoebe is just playing with him? She's clearly NOT. She wants to burn this house down with all of us in it right now, hahaha.

Together, the kittens are so adorable--they love being together and they take naps together (curled in a little heap). When they play, they are constantly wrestling with each other and chasing each other all over the house. It sounds like a herd of wild animals when they run through the house.

Whenever I go near the back door where the cat tree and pet feeding station are, the kittens race in there to see if I'm going to give out treats. Their excitement causes Phoebe, Estelle, and Joey to come running in as well. This happens several times a day! Hahaha.

As far as how the other pets are getting along with them...

Joey is super jealous. Whenever we talk to the kittens, he gets up in our faces (usually bringing a toy) so that we play with him instead. I give him and the other cats a lot of attention, but he wants ALL of the attention. The kittens aren't scared of him and they'll even try to curl up with him for a nap. Joey usually looks very uncomfortable and unsure of what to do!

I was lucky to get this photo below before Joey left and slept on his own bed ;)


Estelle is warming up a little. She'll tolerate the kittens as long as they stay more than six inches or so away from her. I can tell she's very curious about them, though. When she thinks I'm not looking, she'll sniff them out.

Phoebe, like I said, wants just burn the world. She hates the kittens! She's always hated Estelle, but seems to have a bond with Joey. I try to give her space and I make sure that the kittens don't try to take her treats or preferred sleeping spot or anything like that. I give her as much attention as she lets me. Sometimes she's fine with it, but other times she growl and swipe at me.

Anyway, this is a long "update", but as we get to know the kittens more and more, they are just so much fun. I love to see their personalities unfold!

June 23, 2020

My "Early Bird" Walk (that wasn't exactly fun)


First, look who is sitting on my lap! Estelle has FINALLY stopped hating me for adopting the kittens. I was writing my blog post on the couch with a blanket on my lap, and Estelle came and sat on my legs just how she used to every single day of my life.

I was thrilled. Even though I had to pee and my legs were totally cramped up, I didn't want to move. I was just so happy that Estelle was sitting there. She's warming up--finally! ;)

The solstice walk that I did on Saturday kicked off the "Cookies Summer Challenge". I don't have a schedule set up that I plan to do, although I probably should. I just figured I'd pick an item on the list fairly frequently to complete them all before the end of summer.

I did not sleep well last night. I rarely do, these days! Duck loves to sleep on my head--literally, directly on my head--while I'm in bed. At first, it drove me crazy. I couldn't sleep at all! He purrs right in my ear.

However, once I got used to it, it's kind of soothing. It's almost like listening to a noise machine because it's so constant. Eventually, I started to like having him sleep there--it's comforting in a way.

This morning, however, Duck was all about grooming himself while he sat on my head. I was much less cool with that!

I kept setting him on the floor, but he'd jump right back up on the bed and then go sit on my head and start grooming himself. It was driving me crazy! I looked at the clock at one point and saw that it was 5:40.

My back was hurting by this point and I started thinking I might as well get up for the day, but I immediately thought about how the "early bird run/walk" on my Cookies Summer Challenge was to start your run or walk before 6:00 AM. After debating whether I'd have time to get changed and start walking before six, I decided I could do it, so I jumped out of bed.

After throwing on some clothes, I leashed up Joey so that he could go with me. He was thrilled, of course. We finally started our walk just before 6:00. Immediately, I realized that I wasn't going to enjoy it....

There were fish flies EVERYWHERE. On my walk a couple of days ago, I saw a lot of fish flies, but they were in the neighborhood next to us. Apparently, they hatched last night in my neighborhood and they were about two inches deep in certain places! (They tend to gather underneath lights so under street lamps are the WORST.)


I almost turned around a minute or so into the walk because it was just so gross, but since I had gotten up, ready, and out the door by 6:00, I wanted to at least get in a short walk to count it toward my list. I walked Joey around a few blocks, and it wasn't fun. There were SO many fish flies!

While I didn't walk very far, and it was definitely more of a "stroll" than a walk, but  I felt really good that I had gotten up and out of bed so early to go for a walk. I had hoped for a nicer walk, but it still felt good to move a bit. (My back hurts a lot when I lie down all night).


Even though I didn't walk far, I am counting it toward my Cookies Summer Challenge checklist. I'm definitely going to have to use the treadmill until these fish flies are gone, though!

Later in the morning, I had an appointment with my psychiatrist. My last appointment was postponed because of the COVID-19 quarantine. I didn't know this until yesterday, but today's appointment was scheduled as a "telehealth" appointment. I was supposed to click a link on my computer at my appointment time and chat with my doctor via video chat.

It was so odd! I was super nervous about it. However, once we started talking, it felt just like being in the office. I told him about what's been going on with me. I mentioned the depression, but that I felt like I was good on the meds I'm on now. I didn't want to make any major changes, because I really do feel like the depression has a lot to do with my eating/exercise routine.

We ended up keeping the same meds, just adjusting the dose of one of them very slightly. So hopefully it'll help a bit! Meanwhile, I'm also hoping that walking (per the Summer Challenge schedule) will help, too.

I also mentioned that I know I need more sleep, so I need to get off my computer and get into bed! I hope everyone is have a good summer so far.

June 22, 2020

Super Busy Father's Day!



A funny photo of Chick ;) He was jumping up to get the tissue paper from Jerry's gift.

I had a crazy-busy day today (yesterday, by the time this post goes live), so I'm not going to write much.

This morning, I had several things to return to various stores and I *had* to go grocery shopping (I probably should have gone a week ago!). I also had plans to go see Sarah (my friend from Arizona, whose grandpa just died) at 2:00 PM.

Since it was Father's Day, I wanted to bake my dad his usual pecan pie. I also wanted to do something for Jerry.

First, I decided to take back my "returns" to a few different stores. Then I bought a couple of Father's Day cards for Jerry. The kids wanted to get him a Star Wars hoodie, but I couldn't fine one; so, I had them pick one out on Amazon and we printed a photo of it to show that it would be coming in the mail.

Meanwhile, I had gotten him a few pairs of jeans (so boring, I know!). He is ALWAYS asking me to patch his jeans because he loves the ones he has. I've patched them so many times that they are pretty much more patches than they are original jeans. I bought him three pairs of the same brand that he loves, so hopefully he'll let go of the ones he has.

"The kids" also got him some Friends-themed socks to open while he waits for his hoodie to arrive.

Anyway, I was out all morning running errands, and then I had to grocery shop. You know I hate grocery shopping, but I made a list before I went and I tried to just fly through the list without thinking.

It worked pretty well! I just went up and down each aisle grabbing the things on my list, and it didn't take as much time as I thought. When I got home, I hurriedly made a pecan pie for my dad. Eli wanted to help, so I had him work on the crust while I made the filling.

The crust calls for 1-1/3 cups of flour, and I told Eli that means "four scoops" of the 1/3 cup measuring cup. Well, I put the first one in to show him how to measure it; and then Eli put four MORE in, for a total of five. I took me a while to figure it out. I couldn't understand why the crust seemed so dry! So we scrapped the first crust and started over.

After I threw the pie in the oven, I left to meet Sarah at her mom's house. It was fun catching up with her--it'd been a long time! We chatted for a couple of hours and then I headed home to get dinner ready for Jerry.

When I got home, I quickly got to work on Jerry's Father's Day dinner... his favorite meatball soup. I'll post the recipe for that, too. It turned out SO GOOD. I love this soup!


I want to get caught up on Facebook posts and emails, which I promise to do ASAP. It's been a busy few days, so hopefully I'll catch up tomorrow!


June 21, 2020

RECIPE: Jerry's Favorite Meatball Soup


Jerry absolutely LOVES this soup! I just made it for him for Father's Day today. He requests it all the time (and sadly, I rarely make it). It's very filling, healthy, and good comfort food.

Here is a printer-friendly version!


Jerry's Favorite Meatball Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
4 cups beef broth
4 cups chicken broth
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz. pasta (my family loves orecchiette)
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 egg
¼ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. ground sage


Directions:

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Chop and add the onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook until onion and carrots are soft, reducing heat if needed (to avoid burning the garlic). Add the broth (both kinds) and bring to a boil.

While you're waiting for the boil, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, egg, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and sage. When broth is boiling, add the pasta and beans, then roll the meat mixture into bite-size meatballs and drop into the boiling soup. (I use a small ice creaam scoop to just scoop up the meat mixture and drop it into the broth.)

Once all the meatballs are in, reduce the heat a to med-low and cook until the pasta is tender and the meat is cooked through.

**Instead of rolling all the meatballs, what I do is use a mini spring-loaded ice cream scoop--It holds one tablespoon. I just scoop up some meat mixture, squeeze the handle, and it drops into the soup. It's much faster than rolling them, and your hands don't get messy. It works great for cookies, too!



June 20, 2020

Happy Summer Solstice Day!


I can't thank you enough for the kind and empathetic comments on my last post. I was miserable yesterday and just felt full of self-hatred. I can't say that I'm feeling much better today, but at least I don't have to try on clothes.

I was able to squeeze into a pair of size 12 black pants this morning for the funeral. I wore a very loose top so it would hide my muffin top!

At the funeral, I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone. First, to backtrack...

Eli is a very shy, introverted empath. He's the sweetest kid ever, but unless you get to know him, it's hard to see that. The problem is, he doesn't put himself out there or try to make friends. I was so happy when he joined his baseball team because I hoped he'd make some close friends. Instead, he still seems more like an outsider.

I talked to his coach about it, and his coach said that his son is the same way, so he understood. Still, I told Eli that I would love for him to start talking to the kids on the team. He knows that I'll let him invite friends over anytime he wants, but he says it would feel awkward because he doesn't know them well.

Anyway, I told him that if he would do something out of his comfort zone (like starting a conversation with someone on his team), that I would do something that makes ME very uncomfortable as well. I gave him some suggestions, and he didn't do them that day, unfortunately. But that brings me to today...

I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone. As the similar shy, introverted empath that I am, I absolutely HATE public speaking. I hate having the spotlight on me in any way. However, there was a story that I wanted to share about Grandpa Frank at the funeral, so I was debating with myself whether I could do it.

The room was full of people I don't know (I knew a few, but most of them I did not). When the pastor asked if anyone else had something they'd like to share about Frank, I waited in the silence until the last possible second, and then I stood up and said that I would like to share.

I went up to the podium, and speaking into a microphone(!) I told the story about my last memory of Grandpa Frank (I explained it on yesterday's post). I was shaking as I spoke (and trying not to cry because funerals are sad and I felt sad telling the story), but I managed to get through it. And later, several of Frank's family members came up to me to thank me and say that they loved the story.

I'm really glad I was able to shove aside my terror reservations about speaking to a room full of people so that I could tell the story of Grandpa Frank. And as a bonus, I can now tell Eli that I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone so now he owes me ;)



Anyway, as of 5:43 PM today, it's officially summer! Summer is my least favorite season of the year due to the weather (I'm not a fan of the heat, humidity, or sun), but I do like the freedom of not having to drive the kids to and from school. It gives me so much more time!

As I've mentioned several times over the last couple of weeks, today was also the first day of my annual Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge (details are on this post). Today's item on the checklist was to run or walk from spring into summer--starting before 5:43 PM (ET) and ending afterward.

Yesterday, I said that I was going to do a run. Well, today I changed my mind and did a walk instead. Since I'm feeling so bad about the shape my body is in right now, I thought that if I went for a run, it would feel extremely difficult and suck all the fun out of it. I realized that I was dreading the solstice run/walk because I was planning to run it; but when I thought about going for a walk, I was looking forward to it.

Selfishly, I did not take Joey with me. I wanted to walk at my own pace and not have to be pulled along by Joey. I just wanted some peaceful time to myself.

I started my walk at 5:15. It was 90℉! I listened to the latest Morbid podcast while I walked. I had planned to take a photo of my Garmin at exactly 5:43 PM to show that I'd walked from spring to summer. However, I got distracted and saw that it was 5:46 before I got the photo. Oh well!

When I got home, I'd walked 2.27 miles in 41:19 (an 18:13/mi pace).


Normally I enjoy walking more than running because it doesn't get you all sweaty and make you have to shower afterward. However, with the heat today, I got very sweaty.

I came inside to take a shower, and when I took of the brand new hot pink sports bra I'd worn, I actually put it in the sink to soak and hopefully get some of the dye out of the fabric. I did this because of what happened the last time I wore a brand new pink bra when I went for a run...



Haha! Still, I won't be wearing a lighter colored shirt over this bra. That was embarrassing. You can't really tell from the picture, but the water definitely turned pink.



I'm probably going to be doing several treadmill walks or runs over the next couple of weeks because it's "fish fly" season. We don't have my in our neighborhood, so I was surprised when I went out to the point of the peninsula, they were AWFUL. Look at this spot on the road... all fish flies!


So gross. But, we deal with them every year for a couple of weeks, so we can manage. I just hope they don't come inside the garage when I work out there (I always open the garage doors for airflow).

I'm sure I'll do another item on the list tomorrow. I haven't planned my checklist calendar out yet, but I really want to complete the list this year!

June 19, 2020

Disgusted With Myself (a downer post, sorry)


Today was a big slap in the face with reality, and it couldn't have come at at worse time.

My long time best friend, Sarah (who lives in Arizona) is in town right now because her grandpa died a couple of days ago. He was 91 years old, but it was still unexpected. When I was growing up, I was fairly close with Sarah's grandparents. I called them "Grandpa Frank" and "Grandma Sally".

I will never forget the last time I saw them together. At my wedding, instead of doing a "garter dance" and bouquet toss, I decided to do something a little classier to give away my bouquet. The DJ called all married couples to the dance floor, and then began to excuse couples based on how long they'd been married... "If you've been married less than a year, please step off..." "...less than five years, please step off..." etc.

At the end, it was just Jerry and I dancing next to Sally and Frank. They'd been married the longest of any other couple there!

I gave Grandma Sally my bouquet, and she felt terrible taking it (I didn't mind--as you know, I'm not into flowers--so I insisted). I later learned that she had decided to get it preserved for me! However, that didn't happen...

Two days after my wedding, Grandma Sally died unexpectedly.

I only saw Grandpa Frank a few times after that. I wasn't living on the same street anymore and Sarah had moved to Arizona.

Grandpa Frank and Grandma Sally were fantastic! I didn't have a grandpa growing up, so it was fun to see the dynamic between them and Sarah. I loved going over to their house.

I've always eaten "tomato juice and noodles" since I was a kid (literally the only two ingredients) but I remember that Grandma Sally used to take it to another level by adding (probably way too much) butter. It was delicious! To this day, I still add a pat of butter to my tomato juice and noodles, and I think of Grandma Sally every time.

Anyway, Grandpa Frank's funeral is tomorrow. There was a visitation at the funeral home today and then tomorrow there is a one-hour visitation before the funeral itself.

It didn't occur to me until last night that I need something nice to wear. Since this quarantine, I've only worn yoga pants and occasionally my size 10 jeans. I tried on my largest pair of dress pants (size 8) last night, and they weren't even close to buttoning. Not that I was expecting them to. My jeans have been fitting, but getting tighter by the day. (Also, they are "stretchy" jeans, so...)

Today, I worked in the garage all morning, taping and mudding drywall. Then I had to drive Noah to the beach to hang out with his friends. While I was out, I went to Salvation Army to get some decent clothes for a funeral.

Judging by the way my clothes were fitting, I figured I'd need a size 12. I went through all of the black dress pants and pulled out several. The stores aren't allowing people to use the fitting rooms right now due to COVID, so I chose a few favorites. I also picked out a few shirts that were size large, hoping they would fit. I honestly have no clue what size I am right now!

I bought the clothes and went home. I tried them on as soon as I got home.

Nothing fit.

Literally NOTHING. I was able to button and zip one pair of size 12 black pants, but they were super uncomfortable and unflattering. I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to sit down in them.

I was just so... disgusted. Three years ago, I was wearing a size 4 (and the year before that, a size 2). Somehow, in two years' time, I went from size 4 to size 12/14. I know I wrote a post about how I gained 45 pounds in two years, but until trying on clothes, I didn't realize just what a huge difference that would make in my size. The weight really creeps up on you and then scares the bejeezus out of you when you try on clothes.

I know that so many of you tell me not to be so hard on myself, but today was just a day where I couldn't be anything BUT hard on myself. Gaining this much weight isn't "normal". Quitting drinking for 2019 was a big game-changer for me, but now I just don't know how to go back to being "normal" again. (Quitting drinking made me want to eat more in its place.)

This is, by far, the heaviest I've been in 10 years. And I'm very unhappy with myself. I know what I need to do to change, but I haven't done it. I just can't figure out what's "missing" in my life that I fill with food. And why I can't get exercising to be a habit again.

Right now, I'm going through a depressive phase of bipolar. I've been crying over the stupidest things and I just can't get motivated to do much of anything. Working on the garage today was the first real progress I'd made since I'd finished hanging the drywall.

Trying on all those clothes was a low point for me. I can't believe how much bigger I've gotten, but also how much my body shape has changed. For the first time, I have saddle bags. And love handles. After my skin removal surgery, I don't gain weight underneath my scar. So my body looks very misshapen. And it's hard to focus on anything else when I see myself in the mirror. I actually avoid the mirror as much as I avoid the scale.

I know it's vain. Really, I do. Out of all the problems in the world, this is minuscule in comparison.

But this feels deeper than that to me. I want to know what is going on inside of me that makes me so self-destructive. I may need to find a new therapist (I haven't been seeing my previous therapist for a long time, because we butted heads about a particular subject). I don't know. I see my psychiatrist next week, so I'll ask if he has suggestions.

As of right now, though, I feel full of self-hatred. And I know that tomorrow I'm going to regret posting this. I just don't know what else to write--it's the truth. I have been out of control lately and I need to find that control again.

Tomorrow starts the beginning of my annual Cookies Summer Challenge, and I feel determined to run from spring into summer tomorrow evening. I hope that doing this challenge will make me feel better about myself--regardless of weight.

If I can lose weight, awesome--but I've been saying that for SO LONG now that I just don't believe in myself anymore.

As I write this, I know I need to go back to the store to buy some more clothes--hopefully something that fits--so I can go to the funeral. I honestly don't care about the numbers on the scale or the size on the tag in my clothes... I just want to feel better about my appearance AND about how I feel physically. Right now, I'm feeling how I did when I was 253 pounds.

Sorry for such a downer of a post. This is probably the most vulnerable post I've ever written. But I just feel like I'm in "fuck it" mode, where I don't care about who thinks what about me. I hope that I'll have more positive things to write soon, but I obviously can't make any promises.

Tomorrow, I'll write about how my run goes. I do plan on running during the actual solstice, and I can't imagine it's going to feel good. But it's a start. And running always makes me feel better about myself.

I'm also going to try to work on the garage some more. Even though that has nothing to do with my weight, I like feeling like I'm making progress on SOMETHING. I'm about 1/4 of the way done with taping and mudding.

For those of you who are starting the challenge tomorrow, good luck! I hope to see your posts on Facebook--it will be sure to motivate me. I always found the Summer Challenge posts to be inspiring :)

June 18, 2020

2020 Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge: Final Details and Checklists

Runs for Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge 2020

I cannot believe the summer solstice is only three days away! That will mark the beginning of my annual Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge, and the challenge will end at the end of summer--the fall equinox.

If you're new to the challenge, it's very basic. It's basically just a way to make running or walking for exercise more fun through the summer! I created a checklist of runs/walks to try to complete throughout the summer. Here are a few as an example:



I've implemented a points system this year, which is really just meant for added motivation. I was going to try to do prizes for people with the most points, but it would be really hard to keep track of and verify them. Instead, you can use the points system in a couple of different ways:

- At the beginning of summer, decide how many points you want to aim for and try to hit that (or exceed it). Since there are 56 items on the list, the maximum number of points you can earn is 112.

- Use the points to have a competition with friends. Keep track of your own points and then see which of you can earn the most.

- Ask if anyone in the Facebook group wants to work on a particular goal and make a challenge with them. (The Facebook group is private, which means that nobody outside of the group can see the posts.)

- Make a leaderboard with friends to motivate each other.


General “Official” Rules and Notes

Obviously, you can make this challenge all your own and do it however you’d like! But if you’re interested in tracking your own points, here are my suggestions for “rules”:

1.   You may not count a single run/walk toward multiple items on the list. Each item on the list must be its own run/walk. For example, if you run in a park over a bridge with your dog on the fall equinox, that can only be counted toward one item of your choosing—not four.

2.   You can run or walk each item, regardless of which checklist you’re following. They are nearly identical, so you can choose whether you run or walk them.

3.   Unless it's specified on the checklist, the distance that you run/walk is totally up to you.

4.   Don’t overthink it. It’s up to you whether the run/walk “counts” or not! This is just for fun and motivation to get moving this summer.

I've made the printable checklist as well as a calendar so you can plan out your runs/walks (with so many items on the list, it can be hard to keep track, so the calendar is helpful). Just click the photos below to access them. There is a "running" checklist and a "walking" checklist. They are nearly identical; I just changed the wording.

Here is the running checklist and calendar:

Cookies Summer Challenge Running Checklist      Cookies Summer Challenge Running Calendar

In case those don't work, here are the written links:
      
And here is the walking checklist and calendar:

Cookies Summer Challenge Walking Checklist      Cookies Summer Challenge Walking Calendar

And the written links:



I believe that is all the information you need to know! If you have questions please ask (you can post them in the Facebook group or ask here in a comment).

The link to the Facebook group for this 2020 Challenge is here: Runs for Cookies Summer Challenge 2020. (Remember, you get an extra point per item if you post a photo with some sort of detail of your run/walk on the Facebook group page.) Don't forget, the Facebook group is private, so nobody outside of the group will be able to see your posts.

Also, I may add some ways to earn a bonus point on certain runs, which I'll post on the Facebook group.

Okay, that said... I hope that lots of you will join in this summer! It was super fun to see all the posts last year (and very inspiring!). As always, my goal is to complete the list--whether running or walking, I'd really like to be able to finish it this year. I've never even completed half of it!

Finally, if you share this challenge with anyone, I'd appreciate the link to this page rather than just the checklist. This explains it better and has the links to each style of checklist.

One last thing: If you happen to notice any errors on the list or calendar, PLEASE let me know. I spent about eight hours working on this stuff, and my mind is ready for a nap. I won't be surprised if I mixed up a date or two. I'll change it as soon as possible.

Just two more days until the solstice! I'll be running from spring into summer :)

June 17, 2020

One more day...

Today, I spent some time working on the post for the Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge, but I had a very busy day, so I wasn't able to get it finished like I wanted. So, I'm going to post it tomorrow--even though we're down to the wire.

I spent so much time in the car today (three hours) driving the kids around that it felt like the school year. I'd forgotten just how much I hate driving here and there all day.

I'm tired and I want to read some of my book before I go to bed, so I'm going to call it a night without a "real" post. I promise that I will finish up the final details of the challenge and get them posted tomorrow. I just need one more day--summer snuck up on me this year.

Meanwhile, I have zero photos for this post! So I'll just share a pic of the socks Jerry bought me. Instead of flowers or something like that (I hate getting flowers) he started buying me socks as an "I'm thinking of you" gift. These ones were fun! He thought of them after I shared the Super Mario Bros. video on my blog.


Anyway, I'll post more tomorrow!

June 16, 2020

Mid-Month Update on my June "To-Do" List

We're halfway through June, so I thought I'd post an update on my "To Do" list for June. I'm actually further along on the list than I thought I'd be!

Here is the original post from my "to do" list.

Finish hanging the drywall - I actually accomplished this already! I finished hanging the drywall, and now I just have to tape and mud it. I really shouldn't use the word "just"... taping and mudding is the worst! I'm super happy to have completed the drywalling part, though--I can finally sell the drywall hoist (that's the red contraption in the photo below--we already found someone to buy it) and get rid of the excess drywall and insulation!



Dye my hair - Yes! I did cut and color my hair (dye my hair? I don't know which is the "right" thing to say these days). I cut my hair (way too short!) and finally colored it to cover my grays. I can't say I'm thrilled with the results, but at least I did it.


Spring clean the house - I am about halfway done with this. I worked on it quite a bit today, but I still have to do the "tough stuff" like replacing the caulk and really washing the windows. Today, I used a broom to go around the exterior of the house and get rid of the spider webs (now that we got our house sprayed for spiders!) but I didn't wash the windows. Tim (who sprayed the house) said that we should power wash the house before he comes rather than after, or else it will negate the "poison" he sprays on the house.

Read one book - I've actually been reading "The Happy Runner" (Amazon affiliate link) and I'm about halfway through the book. I'll plan on finishing it before the end of June. I wanted to read it to hopefully make me inspired for the "Cookies Summer Running" Challenge. It's a great book so far! I'll post a review once I'm done.

Use up all the meat we have in the freezer - This is something we really need work on. I think we've used one or two things, but we have several seafood items (shrimp, salmon, mahi-mahi) that need to be used. So, I need to make sure we use these things up as soon as possible.

Open the box with my new serger and actually try it out - I finally opened the box today! When I took it out of the box, I literally debated on which was more intimidating... the serger or taping/mudding the seams in the garage.

I took out the serger and did a couple of practice seams with the thread that was already in there. I took photos so that I would know what each color thread would do. That way, when I decide to rethread the machine, I'll know what color I'd like to go in which position.

I only had a few minutes to mess with it before Jerry told me that our friend Joe would be coming over this evening. Then I decided to clean the entire house, ugh. Joe hasn't been here in forever, so I wanted the house to look good when he saw all the work I did on it!


Clean out the kitchen cupboards - Haven't even started this, but I thought about it today when I was putting dishes away. I really need to work on it!

Start the annual Runs for Cookies Challenge - I plan to start this on the Summer Solstice, as promised. I will post the final details ASAP (hopefully tomorrow) before everyone starts on the 20th!

Clear out my inbox - I haven't worked on this at all, either. I really need to pick a night and work on it. I've had extra emails because of sending out the face masks, so it's been difficult.


I'm surprised that I'm actually doing really well with my "to do" list! My biggest task now is to finish the drywall by taping and mudding the seams. It's so hard with so many things in there, cluttering up the space. But we have nowhere else to put it, so I just have to work around it. 

I'm excited about the serger... it was fun playing with it today (even if it was only for a few minutes). I can't wait to make an actual project with it!

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