Today's topic is Ten Things You Are Thankful For Right Now. Rather than generic things like health, I'm going to try to be more specific and talk about things that I am thankful for since last year at this time.
1. I'm so pleased that we had a foster failure with our first foster dog. I wasn't entirely convinced we needed a third dog (and we might not), but she's really been the social glue that holds all the dogs together and she's been super welcoming to our new foster dog. She's the baby of the bunch, but she is in charge of the four legged family.
2. I'm happy that the princess was admitted into the high school that she has wanted to attend since she was in fifth grade, and that she made honor roll for her first quarter at school.
3. I'm thankful that my father-in-law is still alive. Last year, El Esposo was in Guatemala visiting his dad, who we thought was going to die any minute.
4. I'm thankful that my middle stepson graduated from high school and has a full-time job.
5. I'm thankful that my youngest has really blossomed since starting trumpet lessons last fall. Music is his thing. He's now playing piano and flute as well, and he's going to be ringing bells in his school's spring musical, too. He wasn't unhappy before, but it's amazing to see the joy that music brings him.
6. I'm happy that El Esposo quit his old job and found a job he really likes, with better pay and benefits. He's much happier and he has a better commute now, too.
7. I'm thankful that my uncle is feeling better. While it's unlikely that he is ever going to be cancer-free, it's fantastic that he's feeling better and that he has this time to see his grandchildren grow.
8. I'm feeling thankful about my new boss. She is a breath of fresh air compared to my old boss, who retired.
9. I'm feeling blessed to have my side jobs. It's not so much the money, it's the satisfaction I get from doing things I enjoy more than my regular job.
10. I'm thankful that the princess quit dance (except for ballet) so we don't have to spend as much time with toxic dance moms and their daughters.
If there is one thing that all of these things have in common, it's that they represent a positive step forward. I'm looking forward to the future on this path that we have set.
Another Sunday, another trip to the vet with our foster dog. It looks like he lost some weight over the past week, likely due to being on some pretty serious de-wormers. He had more blood drawn, and that's being sent out for more testing to see if that will help diagnose what's going on with him.
After we got back from the vet's office, I started making beef stew with some of this month's meat share. It was ready just in time for lunch, and it was delicious.
It was delicious. I'm used to beef stew where the carrots and other veggies were in pretty big chunks, so this was a little different because everything but the meat and the potatoes was chopped/minced. It made for a really thick sauce, which I prefer. So, this recipe is a winner. It's another Melissa Joulwan recipe, but it's not in her books. You can find it on her website here. This is a paleo recipe, and it's also Whole30 compliant. It was the perfect thing for a rainy Sunday afternoon in November.
The youngest had an art workshop in Lawrence today, so when we went to pick him up, we had a little wander by the movie set to see what was up. The second unit of the Ben Affleck directed movie Live By Night (based on the novel by Dennis Lehane) was shooting with stuntmen today, no big stars on site. They were moving a lot of cars around and the scenes had gunfire in them.
We turned this into an educational opportunity. When the youngest asked why they picked Lawrence for the movie, I asked him to look around at everything they did to make the 1920's movie set. They didn't have to change too much, mostly just cosmetics and staging.
You can see the building on the right has modern windows on the second floor, where the building on the left has new windows fitting into the original architecture. You'd never guess what the Lawrence General Store is in real life. . . Dunkin Donuts!
See the extras on the left, crew on the right. This is a pedestrian mall now, anchored by City Hall and the courthouse up at the other end. The cobblestones were not put there for the movie. They hosed them down, so I asked the little one if he knew why they were hosing the cobblestones down. I thought he might have remembered after having sat through Light, Motors, Action! at Disney Studios umpteen times, but he did not. It's to prevent any sparks from the gunfight from causing a fire.
As a side note, I have a photo of my great-grandfather and his brothers, dressed very much like the man closest to the middle of the photo. They were working on one brother's farm, and there is a wagon of similar size as the one on the left of the photo, only it has much heavier wheels, as it was used for farm work and needed to be sturdy enough to haul through mud, unlike the "street" wagon here.
This car was parked across the street, out of the way, on a street that was not used in filming. But you can see how very little would need to be done to make that street look like it might have 90 years ago.
I love the juxtaposition of the old and new cars. The mill in the background is the Everett Mill. I learned something today about a business in the Everett Mill - there is a business that has been around for over 75 years, but was bought about 15 years ago by some former Disney employees. It's a bit of a specialty business, making fabric out of furry and hairy materials, and also making costumes. They made the fabric for the Chewbacca costume in Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith, for Cousin Itt of The Addams Family, the Duracell bunny, the Tumblemonkeys at the Lion King show at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the Kia hamsters, and for the new Muppets in Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow. I had no idea this business was around. I'm learning something new every day.
I'm hitting the wall. I've barely had time to post this week, never mind read other blog posts. I keep reading posts on Facebook that say something about how we all have the same number of hours in a day that Einstein and Mother Teresa and other important people had. I know those posts are telling us to make the most of the time that we have, but in my current frame of mind, they just make me think things about how Einstein, Mother Teresa, et al didn't have to do the nonsense things that I have to do. No matter how much I try to say no and cut out things that aren't really important, more things keep creeping in, and they need to be dealt with, even if only to say no.
One realization that I've made this week has been that I have not been taking care of myself as well as I should. I'm thinking a little about that, and there will probably be a blog post about it in the near future, to come up with plan to take back my life in a healthy way.
I did take one step today to try something new that might be a great experience for me, or could be another time suck that I don't need. I went for a job interview today (for a job that I didn't apply for) and I walked out with a job offer. Starting in January, I'm going to be an adjunct professor at a local college. My thought on this is that it will appeal to my desire to do something new and different, it will be good experience that could lead to other good experiences, and the little bit of money that I make will not make me rich but it will be a nice thing since my employer ceased giving raises and bonuses.
My dad sent me an email today that sounded a little like he was feeling homesick (after permanently moving to Florida, as you may recall), so I called him to chat. He sounded a little down, but didn't want to talk about it. I thought I would cheer him up by telling him that I am now an adjunct professor. His response was to tell me that adjunct professors don't make very much money. No congratulations, nothing positive, he just let me know that he felt that I was doing something not worthwhile because the compensation in that field isn't high. I'm sure he would have insulted the school that hired me, but for the fact that my brother graduated from there.
I'm too tired and it's too late to figure out a move forward point from here, but I am definitely going to be doing that so I can stay sane and healthy as we head into the insanity of the next six weeks.
I will be back tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, ready to get back on track!
I saw this the other day and I have to admit, I was a little puzzled. The weather the sign was referring to was rain. Somehow, it just doesn't seem right that an event honoring veterans would be cancelled due to rain. After all, veterans withstood a lot more than rain for us. However, I also wouldn't want to force veterans to march in a parade in the rain. Might it have been possible to reschedule?
This next one doesn't make me wonder, because this is the kind of thing that I see pretty regularly. The other night, when the youngest and I came home from his piano lesson, this is what we found in the kitchen:
Without missing a beat, he said it was a bed and breakfast for the dog whose bowl is in the photo. I've got a funny kid. That dog bed gets moved all around the house. One of the dogs drags it over by the back door and windows in our kitchen to catch the last rays of sun at the end of the day. Apparently, he doesn't like to lie on the cold, hard floor when he has his afternoon nap. I'm sure he's the one who moved the bed to this spot, but I haven't a clue as to why.
Finally, look at my yummy lunch:
It's the new spinach pies being served by a pizza place near my office. I don't think they make them there, but that's okay. They are delicious and healthier than most options in the neighborhood. What I love about them is the different construction. Rather than layers of spinach and cheese and phyllo dough, the filling is lined up on a sheet of dough, then the dough is rolled up to form a filled tube, then the tube is curled up on itself like a cinnamon roll. I eat it by uncoiling it, as does the pizza shop owner. I wanted to share it because it's such an ingenious idea, I'd love to try it with this or some other food.
And that's that for today!
It's that time of year. This week I am observing the anniversaries of the deaths of both of my grandfathers. I lost the first 34 years ago and the second 27 years ago. We've had some kind of crappy Thanksgivings in my family. Also, one of my grandfathers, his brother, and my aunt who died last year all had birthdays near/on Thanksgiving, so this is the second year that we are not going to be having any sort of birthday celebration at all at Thanksgiving.
This is a quiet time of introspection for me. This year, I will be hosting Thanksgiving for the first time ever, so I've got some plans to make it my own. When I was a teenager, I used to tell my mother that when I started hosting Thanksgiving, we were going to have lasagna because I love it, I can make it, and it's just as authentic as the turkey dinner nonsense that Americans have been shoveling in their faces each November. I'm not going to be making lasagna, though. I am going to be getting a pie from Community Servings this year, one way to make the day brighter for my family and for others.
If you live in Massachusetts (Worcester and eastern Mass.), you can order a Community Servings pie from my friend Jessica and you will get a lovely pie made by a local restaurant or bakery (It will be a surprise.) and folks who can't cook for themselves will get food, too. Pie pickup locations are all over eastern Massachusetts, for pickup on Wednesday, November 25th. There are four flavors of pie available - pumpkin, pecan, apple, and sweet potato. You have three days left to order - click on this link to check out the pies and pickup locations.
This is a really tough one, because there's so little hanging out that gets done any more. But, here are the ten places that I spend most of my hanging out time (other than work).
1. Home, of course.
2. In my car in a parking lot, where the princess and I wait each morning for the bus that takes her to school. We've made this fun. I bring the sock I'm knitting, we have nicknames for the other kids and their parents, and there's even a little song about waiting for the bus.
3. At the music studio while the little one has his piano lesson. Again, I bring the sock. I also bring my headphones because usually I end up listening to a knitting podcast while I knit during his piano lesson.
4. At the high school gym while the little guy has basketball practice. This is good - they have an indoor walking track so I get an hour of walking in while he practices. This will end in another month or so, as the high school will start playing basketball and the younger kids will get moved to smaller gyms with no walking tracks. In that case, I will be hanging out at another school, knitting or reading.
5. Burger King. I've got one kid addicted the Buffalo Chicken Fries and another to the Coke Icee, so it seems like I go to BK a couple times a week lately. That's usually on one of the two days when our schedules are so crazy that we wouldn't be able to sit down for a family meat at home until after 9:00 pm.
6. Veterinarian's office. I am taking the foster dog all the time, and next week one of our own dogs has his annual appointment.
7. At the pizza place down the street from where I work. The owner died earlier this year and now his wife works there. I enjoy going even more than I used to, as she has added healthier fare to the menu, and instead of phoning my order in, I go and wait. She talks and talks while I wait, and I enjoy listening to her.
8. Dunkin Donuts - Mostly due to my iced tea addiction, but I had my first cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee yesterday. Yes, my first ever! And it did not taste at all like coffee. To add insult to injury, my daughter told me that when the Patriots win, Dunks gives out free coffee. My coffee was not free.
9. The post office. I go every day they are open, usually, to mail stuff for my side hustle.
10. The bookstore. We hit up the local independent store and/or Barnes & Noble at least every other week, if not more frequently. What can I say? We are readers and the only time we have for getting books is Sunday, when the library is closed and the bookstores are open.
As I said yesterday, we didn't eat those jalapeño cream cheese rolls during yesterday's football game. The Patriots game started at 4:25 pm, so I had dinner planned for halftime, and the football gods were with us. Not only did halftime happen exactly when dinner was ready, the Patriots won a really exciting game.
We had pork roast and roasted red potatoes. This is our first month with meat delivery. Last week, we received a delivery of humanely raised meat from Walden Farm. One of the things we received was a two pound pork tenderloin roast.
This is the roast after I defrosted it. I decided to use Melissa Joulwan's Slow Cooker Italian Pork Roast recipe. The recipe can be found on her blog or in her cook book Well Fed. (Link to the book is on the page for the recipe link above.)
Here's the pork roast after I prepped it for cooking:
I put it in before I went to bed on Saturday night, and here's what it looked like Sunday late afternoon:
Yum, right? The roast was so tender that it fell apart when I was taking it out of the crock pot. And it was delicious, delicious, delicious!
There's my dinner, pork with roasted rosemary red potatoes.
I have to heartily recommend Melissa Joulwan's blog and books. They are chock full of delicious recipes, and most recipes are paleo and Whole30 compliant, if that's your thing. El Esposo doesn't do paleo or Whole30 and he loves this pork, which is saying something.
This is the first try with meat from Walden Farm - you can expect to see more cooking with this fantastic local meat.
Today has been a long day, and it's not even 4:00 yet. El Esposo had an early morning soccer game that was over an hour away, and I had a 90 minute drive to take the foster dog to a vet that works with the rescue organization that has him. It ended up being a five hour trip for me, and I might need to go back again. But, we're back at home, as is El Esposo, and the Patriots game starts in less than an hour.
I thought I'd share one of our favorite football snacks:
These are easy and quick, so they are great for football season. All you need is a tube of Pillsbury Cresent Roll dough, 8 ounces of cream cheese, and a can of jalapeños. Philadelphia makes cream cheese with jalapeños now, and that works, too. If you use plain cream cheese, there are several brands that sell small cans of diced jalapeños, which saves on some work.
Here's what to do:
I've seen versions of this where they suggest adding a tablespoon of sugar to the cream cheese, but that's entirely up to you.
Also, we haven't tried it yet, but Philadelphia makes other whipped cream cheeses - chives, garden vegetable, etc... so you could try a different flavor. You could also try a different brand of cream cheese, but I don't know of any, so that's why I didn't mention any.
We won't be enjoying this snack during today's game because I've got something else planned, more on that in a later post.