September 22, 2023

Friday Night Photos #130

I don't have a ton of photos today, but I do have a "Good Lord!!" moment to write about. As I've written way too much, we've had a tough year--bad luck and mini catastrophes, one after another. And each time, I say, "Well, what else could possibly happen?" 

Nothing major has happened since the flood, so I finally decided to say it out loud to Jerry: "Our luck has turned around! What else could possibly happen?" Then Jerry started laughing, and said, "Really?! Really. Okay. Here, HOLD MY BEER!" Hahaha.

Over the weekend, I was working on a new sewing project--basically combining two pairs of pants into one--and each pair had a drawstring. I was only going to be using one drawstring for the finished pair. I am METICULOUS about picking up any piece of thread or string or anything like that because of what happened to Duck in 2021.

(If you're not aware, Chick and Duck ate some yarn. Chick threw it up, but Duck did not, and he got very sick. I took him to the vet as soon as I noticed what had happened, but he needed emergency surgery. He developed a high fever and spent several days at the vet. It was horrible. And it cost $3,000! Lesson learned: DO NOT LET CATS PLAY WITH YARN OR STRING OF ANY KIND.)

Sewing is kind of a scary hobby for me to have after what happened with Duck--but that's why I am extra careful about keeping all thread cleaned up. I even cut the tails into tiny pieces just in case one should fall on the floor. It drives Duck crazy that I don't let him play with it. Anyway...

Duck was attacking the drawstring while I was pulling it out of one pair of pants. Since it was so large, I decided it was okay for him to play with it. Jerry and I played with the cats (all four of them were having a blast) and when we were done, I looped the drawstring around a dining room chair.

The next day, Jerry and I decided to play with the cats again, but we couldn't find the drawstring. (You see where this is going.) I really wanted to get the cats playing again, but I couldn't find the string. Chick likes to take his toys into my room and hide them under my bed, so I figured that's what he did. I didn't bother looking; again, since the drawstring was so big I wasn't worried about the cats eating it.


The next morning, Duck was sitting on my lap and I heard the god-awful noise of (who I thought was Phoebe) retching like she was going to throw up. I felt bad disturbing Duck, but I knew I'd have to clean up cat puke, so I got up to clean it. Then I noticed it was Chick and not Phoebe. Chick very rarely throws up, and the few times he has, it's just been a hairball (well, except for the yarn of course).

I noticed something hanging out of his mouth just a couple of inches, but I reflexively grabbed it (he was trying to swallow it back down). And then it was like one of those clowns pulling scarves out of their sleeve--it just kept coming.

The entire thing came out. And it was the ENTIRE DRAWSTRING. You can see just how long it is--about as tall as me!

The look on my face is actually a moment between my retching (that drawstring was the most foul-smelling thing I've ever caught whiff of) and Jerry laughing at me. I literally almost threw up while I held it up for a picture to show how long it is.

I was completely stunned by the whole thing. I am SO SO SO glad that he threw it up instead of it making its way into his intestines. He is so lucky.

And so are we! Can you even imagine if he'd needed surgery? That would be the cherry on top of the shitshow that has been the last year.

So, please don't ever assume that just because a string is huge means that it's safe for cats to play with. I will never, ever make that assumption again.

Anyway, after all of that, the rest of my pictures aren't exactly exciting. But here is what I've got...

Jerry sneaks (the most unflattering) photos of me all the time and then I come across them on my phone later; this is when I was making seitan. We love seitan and because it's so versatile, it's super fun to try new recipes for it. (I almost always have some form of seitan in the fridge for lunch or snacking.)

This week, I made a recipe for a "vegan deli sliced turkey breast" and it was SO AMAZING--Jerry and I both immediately agreed that it was our new favorite. This picture is before glazing and baking, but we couldn't help slicing and eating it--next time, maybe we'll end up getting to the glaze part, haha. The herbs reminded me of Thanksgiving (and this is definitely what I'll be making this year).

I liked the "turkey" so much that I looked up more recipes from the same site and decided to try making vegan pepperoni. Well, as soon as we tasted this, we declared it was our NEW favorite--just a couple of days after we said the "turkey" was our favorite. I honestly believe that this tastes so much like pepperoni, if it was on your pizza you'd never know that it was vegan. I think that's the only time I've claimed that seitan could fool someone into thinking it was meat. (I love seitan for what it is, and I don't try to make it look and taste just like meat--I just don't think that's possible--but this pepperoni is as close as it gets.)

I always rely on my kids to tell me honestly what they think, and neither of them eats seitan. However, they both said that this "tastes just like turkey pepperoni" (they have always preferred turkey pepperoni because it's not as greasy). The fact that they BOTH like this made me feel giddy, haha. This is perfect for snacking (and it's super healthy). Now, if I could just find an amazing vegan cheese recipe for homemade pizza... (I've tried so many. There is one that we like, but it's not what I would call "amazing". If you have one that is knock-your-socks-off good, please share!)

Speaking of pizza, Eli decided he was going to ask his girlfriend to homecoming by making a pizza at work with "HOCO" spelled out in pepperoni--hahaha! (They are going to homecoming tomorrow; it's Eli's last one, so it's bittersweet.)

When he told me about the pizza idea, I remembered that I have a picture of Jerry from when we were dating, and he worked at a pizza place. One day, he knew I was going in there to see him, and he made this crust with "I <3 U" cut out. Eli totally one-upped that, haha. 

This was a great week for Eli because he also bought his first car! It's a 2008 Volvo, and my parents' neighbor sold it to him for $500. (Luckily, he'd started saving up for a car in the summer and had the money.) It's in fantastic condition--and naturally, he's thrilled. After what happened to him with the Patriot, he deserves this.

And that's all I've got. Have a great weekend! xo

September 21, 2023

Three Things Thursday: Dad

I almost skipped writing today because I just couldn't come up with anything to write about! "Three things" is such a broad category that you would think I'd have no problem coming up with a topic, but I was struggling.

Today is my dad's birthday, and it just occurred to me that I could write about him! So, here are three things that I love about my dad...

1. He's a hard worker.

This sounds like a cliché line, but my dad is probably the hardest worker that I know. Starting when he was a kid! When he was 16 years old, his family moved to Florida but he wanted to stay here in Michigan. He was 100% independent and had to work just to support himself--while he was still in high school.

Lately, I've asked his advice a few times about what to do with my kids as far as finances go. I couldn't remember what my parents still paid for when I was a teen (car insurance? gas? entertainment with friends?). My kids have been very spoiled and I wish I'd done things a little differently, but knowing what my dad went through as a teen has made me feel confident about being a little tougher with my kids (making them work harder for what they have/want).

My parents were 18 and 19 when they got married, and my dad continued to work hard to support us (four kids!). He's been an auto mechanic in some form for his entire life, which is not easy money--it's a lot of tough, physical work. Countless people have trusted him to work on their cars for decades, knowing that they'll never get that kind of quality service at a shop.

When he taught me how to change the oil in my car

2. He taught himself to paint.

This talent seemed to come out of nowhere at all; in fact, of any talents that may run in my family, art is definitely not one of them. Once in a while, my dad would catch Bob Ross on TV and I can remember watching with him. We would both be amazed at Bob's work, and then gasp, "Oh no!" when Bob would decide at the last minute to just paint one huge black line down the center of his painting--only to turn it into the most lifelike tree and make the painting even more mind-blowing.

My dad actually learned how to paint by watching Bob Ross.

We may have gone overboard with Bob Ross novelty gifts that year. The painting he'd just finished was of a bridge that we used to go fishing on when I was a kid.

And seeing the evolution of his paintings is unbelievable. I don't have pictures of any of his recent ones, unfortunately, but this one below is one of my favorites. It's hanging in my living room now.

We still have a couple of his first paintings and it's stunning to see how far his work has come. That he taught himself to paint like this is unbelievable.

3. He's very resourceful. 

You've seen on my blog when I've made projects out of wood or fabric or things like that, and I use up every last scrap of materials that I can. I save all of my wood cuts offs and find a way to use the small pieces to build things. I sew things without having to buy fabric (I like to use old clothes or bedding or whatever I have on hand). Rather than buying new furniture, I use leftover paint that I already have and refinish old furniture.

All of that comes from seeing my dad do it all these years. For him, it was about money; when he was younger, he didn't have any choice but to make do with what he had. Even as an adult, he continues to use and repurpose things, because why spend money on something new when you can use what you already have? (There have even been a couple of times where I've given him a gift and had to tell him I got it super cheap or that I got it for me and just wasn't going to use it, otherwise he wouldn't accept it, haha.)

I will say, though, despite the fact that he doesn't like to buy things unless absolutely needed, he's extremely generous. If you tell him you like something, you just may come home to find it on your porch. He likes to do things that he knows will make people happy.

I could list several more things that I love about my dad, but these were the first ones to pop into my head. He turned 72 years old today! I made him his favorite pecan pie, which has become a tradition (I make one for Father's Day and one for his birthday).

This was from a couple of years ago. I wish I'd taken a picture of the one I made today, because it was probably the best looking one I've ever made!

I'll end this post with a little essay I wrote--I don't know what my age was, but I'm guessing about 10 or 11? I wrote it at church to nominate him for Father of the Year, haha. My mom came across it a few weeks ago and gave it to me. It's a little cringey, but cute! ;)

September 20, 2023

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week 121

I can't remember if I posted about this hoodie, but it's another item of clothing that I altered. It was actually a bathrobe! Haha. It was a wrap-around robe but I was missing the belt so I only wore it like a cardigan. I really wish I took a good before photo of it; this is the only one I could find, and you really can't see it well. (This is a horrible picture of me and I have no idea why Jerry took it!)

I really like the colors (and the fabric, which is a stretchy knit fabric, thicker than a t-shirt but thinner than a fleece sweatshirt) so I decided to see if I could turn it into a zip-up hoodie. It was kind of asymmetrical in order to wrap it, so I had to cut it to shape before adding a zipper. I also had to cut some of the length off, obviously. The cuffs had been kind of short, so I made long ones with the leftover fabric and added thumbholes. I also sewed in the pockets. I like how it turned out!

Anyway, I feel like these Wednesday Weigh-In posts are becoming kind of redundant. I'm not really sure what to write when it's been an uneventful week (as far as my weight is concerned, anyway). This morning's weigh-in:

I was at 130.6, which I think is up a little over a pound from last week. Like I said, though, my weight has been between 128 and 131 for six weeks now, so I'm happy with it! I've been doing really well with my eating habits.

Speaking of habits, I keep meaning to write a post about the "Atomic Habits" I've been working on. I'm kind of amazed at how much of a difference they've made--mostly in my attitude, but also in making a good routine for myself. I think it's helped my mental health as well. I will write a whole post about it this weekend, because I can't believe how well the suggestions in the Atomic Habits book have worked.

I think a combination of taking time off from the blog and focusing more on my daily routine and self-care have helped reduce my anxiety quite a bit, and that has helped me to not eat for emotional reasons. I've stopped thinking so negatively about all of the bad luck my family has had over the last year and I've started seeing the humor in it.

I've been cooking a lot more new recipes lately and I think that has helped with keeping my weight pretty steady as well. I had gotten to the point where I hated cooking and would do the least amount of work possible in the kitchen, so we had a lot of the same (simple) meals. Now that I have more energy and a better attitude, I look forward to trying new recipes.

Over the last couple of weeks, I actually went through the binder of all of my recipes (hundreds) and vegan-ized them. I haven't tested the vegan versions, but I plan to do that; I'd like to get back to cooking one new recipe each week like I used to.

Speaking of cooking, I've got to go make dinner so Jerry has something to take to work! For this upcoming week, I'd like to just continue with the habits I've been working on. Hoping for another good week :)

September 19, 2023

Deep Thoughts With Jerry #24

I'm a little pressed for time. Katie is in the kitchen making all sorts of seitan and I totally forgot to write this post until the last minute. If Katie was typing this post it would take her minutes but because it's me and I type like a four year old, it takes me forever.

What's something new you've learned about yourself in the last couple of months?

I'm getting older. I've also been put on notice by my family that I've been acting older with the dad jokes and dad-like actions I perform on a daily basis. 

Here are several examples:

1. I stand outside and check out the weather when I read it's supposed to rain soon. It's like I fact-check the weather app. (GUILTY)

2. When I hear loud noises outside I stand at the window and scope out the neighborhood for the source of the noise. (GUILTY)

3. I laugh at my own jokes, always. (GUILTY)

4. I use old phrases that used to be cool with the kids but I use them in such a way to try to sound like I'm being cheesy. They don't know if I'm joking or not. (GUILTY)

5. I rub my bare toes together when I have my feet up. (GUILTY)

6. When driving, I always look around outside instead of on the road. (GUILTY) 

Overall, I am older. I am a dad. And that's just the way the cookie crumbles. 

How would you spend your time if you had unlimited time and resources? 

Being out with my friends a couple weeks ago up north, in the sticks of Michigan, made me want to live sort of off the grid. There was hardly any sort of cell signal and we were content with fun animated conversations, and played yard games and disc golf. So, if money wasn't an object and I had all sorts of time, I would be in the sticks within a reasonable distance from grocery and gas where I'm able to live in peace. 

What smell or sound triggers nostalgia for you?

Smell: It would be Katie's body spray, Love Spell from Victoria's Secret. She used to wear it when we were in the late stages of our dating phase and into our marriage. The smell drives me crazy, in a great way. It gets my juices flowing in nether regions. 😍

Sound: Music always makes me feel something. No matter how I'm feeling, the song 'Fade into you' by Mazzy Star pulls me back into the 90's when life was simpler. 

Question for the readers: What are your triggers?

What's your guilty pleasure right now?

Pretzels and mustard. I could use just regular yellow mustard but lately I've been using this garlic mustard from Boardwalk Kitchen. I found it a couple weeks ago at Detroit's Eastern Market and it's just phenomenal. I love having hummus with pretzels as well, but hummus can be so expensive to buy. Maybe I'll try to make some on my own.

If you were at trivia night, what category would you know the most about?

I've never done a trivia night but I think I know a lot about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the MCU. I wrote some time ago about how I've seen each of the movies at least 20 times. I know them inside and out. Trivia night would be fun. I'll have to see if I can find one around here.

What TV show are you currently watching?

I just started Big Bang Theory. It used to be a big deal and I just never watched it. I think it's because we didn't have cable. I never knew what it was about and it was sort of recommended to me. So, I'm already on the 3rd season and I'm laughing my ass off every episode.

I'm going to cut this a little short. I would really like to have some questions from you guys. I'm an open book so fire away and I will answer!

September 18, 2023

Looking Up

I hope this doesn't jinx anything, but our bad luck finally made a turn yesterday. Eli bought a car!

He only started saving money for one a few months ago (even though I'd been pushing him to for a couple of years now!) so he didn't have a lot of money saved. My parents' neighbor/friend asked my dad if he would want to buy his Volvo--he didn't want to bother with Facebook Marketplace or anything (I despise selling things via Marketplace--it's much more hassle than it's worth, most of the time).

The neighbor said he'd give my dad a super good deal on it. It's old--2008--but only two years older than our Patriot that was totaled in May. And it's in perfect condition! It even has brand new tires, which probably cost more than the $500 Eli paid for the car. My dad, being an auto mechanic, checked it out and told Eli that it's the deal of a lifetime. Eli jumped on it, and having saved up his money, was able to buy it.

I always rely on my dad for advice on anything car-related, and my biggest concern is always going to be whether it's safe. He assured me that it's very safe for Eli to drive, so I'm excited for Eli. He's thrilled!

AND, now that Eli has his own car, we don't have to worry about rushing to get another vehicle. We're STILL waiting on the check from the insurance company (from the Renegade), and we'd been planning to use that toward a truck for Jerry. I don't *need* a car, and Jerry can continue driving the Edge, so I'd rather just save the insurance check for later. I'd like Jerry to get his truck, but at least now we don't feel like we have to rush. When he finds a good deal on one that he likes, we'll be able to make a huge down payment with the insurance check.

This car couldn't have come at a better time, and it feels like such a blessing. I'm trying to stay cautious about getting too excited, though, because of how the entire past year has been for us ;)

I'm going to cut this short. I have a killer headache and nothing is helping!

September 15, 2023

Friday Night Photos: Summer

I only have a few photos on my camera roll this week, so I'll just save them for next week. Yesterday morning, I posted on Instagram, so I'll share something similar here. I rarely post on social media, but I was thinking about summer and decided to look through my pictures from the last few months. I chose a bunch that kind of represented summer (mostly the good parts; who takes pictures of the bad parts?).

I tried to think of a good adjective when I captioned, "It's been a _____ summer." But I can't come up with a word that describes everything. We've had such bad luck and so much stress. There were definitely good moments (as I'll show with most of the pictures below) but basically, the only way I can describe it is this: It's been a summer.

Watching Jerry and Eli play softball on Monday nights

Celebrating 20 years of marriage

Baking a vegan chocolate cake for Noah's birthday

Finding solitude to feel many emotions... in the bathtub. More than once.

Helping Luke and Riley try to win a prize for "crazy hair day"

Cutting the grass while Jerry was gone for two weeks

Jerry and I dueling at Dr. Mario on a rainy day

The first flood we've ever had at our house in 20 years

Jeanie teaching me American football

Taking golf pictures of Eli. My first time being on a golf course.

Celebrating Noah's last teenage birthday

Totaling two out of three cars in just three months

Jerry forgetting to use a blade guard. For the third time.

Perhaps my most favorite picture of this entire year

Joey losing about 10 pounds of fur

Knitting a Shrek hat for Noah

Sucking at mini-golf

Taking the boys to see The Meg while Jerry was away

Playing Trouble with my nieces and nephew

Breaking a three-and-a-half-year daily blogging streak to get away from the negativity

Making do with the candles Jeanie had on hand. 1 and 2+7

Getting a second piercing in my nose

My "fun" project this summer

Watching fireworks with Renee

Making sad toast on the stove when the power was out for three days

Getting to see one of my very favorite cousins

Getting my skin checked for suspicious spots

"Helping" Shawn steer the tractor he was towing

Washing my hair in the river and nearly floating away

Tubing with Jeanie, Shawn, Jerry, Noah, Eli, and Ava

Summer isn't officially over for eight more days, but I'm ready to be done with it and bring in fall! My family has felt all of the emotions this summer, tenfold. So... let's just say that it's been a summer. :)

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