25 November 2022

A Thanksgiving Miracle

 Because the universe and 2022 have conspired to just mess with me, I am "making" Thanksgiving dinner this year.  People who know me in real life just gasped/guffawed right out loud.  If you don't know me in reals, picture Phoebe from Friends being asked to sub in for Monica cooking the holiday meal.

What had happened was Kevin phoned me about 8:30 Wednesday morning, waking me because it was my DAY OFF and I can have No Peace, to let me know that the siblings-in-law are sick.  Meaning that they were not cooking or hosting dinner on Thanksgiving.

The plan was already set for Kevin and I to eat with the parents so they weren't left alone for the holiday.  Now I just had to figure out how or what to feed them. And us.

Now remember, I am Chandler Bing when it comes to this holiday.  It rates second to Mother's Day. Sure, I enjoy spending time with the kids and the food but the process to get there is exhausting.  Also, for years Kevin and I had two dinners that day because both families required our attendance.  As a kid it was one of those pretend we're a happy family holidays and it never included grandparents, aunts & uncles or cousins.

Anyway.  Not a fan.

I got up and flipped into combat mode.

A panicked search on the interwebs seem to generate a laugh, being as it was less than 24-hours until the actual holiday.  While the grocery store was out of fully-prepared dinners, they did have turkey dinners available in the deli.  FOUR OF THOSE PLEASE. STAT.

The universe must have felt badly for me because this particular store recently began having grocery pick-up.  I registered and added those dinners to the cart.  

Then, I had to sit there and literally imagine what we eat on holidays.  I never ever cook for these days so it's just not in the realm of my knowledge.  I made a generalized list then realized: so many people are going to be shopping today. 

I tried to guess what items were likely to be sold out first.  I decided rolls and pies and quickly added those to the cart.  Anything else, I can make do or we just didn't need it.

Oh, the dinners include slabs of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and what I believe are green beans.  (could be asparagus)  After I had purchased them, I spotted the tiny detail that they are Dinners For FOUR.  I ordered enough for sixteen people.  Well done me. This could also be karma for my sass about the whole mother-in-law's $600 worth of socks order.

Then I realized that this would now provide dinner for the sick siblings and now I am a winner again.

I phoned Kevin and let him know that I had a plan and we had at least the basics for dinner. I was headed into town in a few minutes.  This is where he reminded me that he was taking my new truck for some suspension work; meaning that I would have to take the old truck.  This is totally fine, a little disappointing but fine BUT I couldn't take Lucy for walkies.  Sigh.

To the store I go.  It was very busy, no surprise, which just added to the urgency of the adventure.  I had a list on my phone of what else was needed: salad, stuff to make ambrosia, extra gravy, olives, pickles, butter.  It took two tries to get everything for the ambrosia and I also picked up a set of bowls that I "needed". (meaning: I've wanted them but had no justification for buying. Until now.)

Right before I went to check out, I spotted platter sized, Thanksgiving themed paper plates and thanked the universe for that little cosmic nudge.  Tossed them in the cart and then did a quick review of what I could possibly need.  But I was at the point of being done.  Too many people, feeling way out of my depth, and an impatient dog at home who just suffered being left behind TWICE as Kevin had already returned home to take my truck and had to leave her as well.

When I got home, the parents were gone. I momentarily worried that they were also going to the grocery store but decided that I just can't worry about it. I took everything and unpacked it.  If nothing else, I had overbought.  Again, this is just a good thing. 

Kevin returned home and to his credit, looked impressed at what I had pulled off in just a few hours.  We have had a long running joke about A Thanksgiving Miracle and he mentioned just that. (story not worth telling: a long missing, beloved sweatshirt reappeared)

The only salad, beyond green or garden salad, that I can make is ambrosia.  However, it's been years since I have had to make it.  I did remember that it's best to make it the day before so I began to do just that.  

This salad is something that every family makes differently.  Kevin's mom makes the inexpensive version with whipped cream and fruit cocktail.  She also puts bananas in it but always makes a small bowl for me because I hate bananas.  

Side note: one year she made it was chopped up SNICKERS CANDY BARS because her sister made it that way and claimed it was the best thing ever.  I am here to tell you: IT WAS NOT.  It was as horrifying as you just imagined.

Oh, and I make it with sour cream, mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, and mini-marshmallows. I used to make it with coconut but Kevin wasn't a fan.

After all that, I called it a day.  I wasn't going back into town for anything at this point. We would just do without.  

Today, this morning, Kevin let me sleep in; much like he does on Mother's Day.  Other than dinner, I had no plans other than watching Friends Thanksgiving episodes, which has been my tradition since I spent Thanksgiving on the couch with bronchitis pre-Pandemic.

Then Kevin came in the house, looking  like he'd rather pull his own teeth than ask me for help.  His plan was to put up the Christmas lights as a surprise for me but he needed help.  I suited up and went outside to help him. This is a good way to spend the day.

By the time that was finished, it was show time.  Time to cook dinner and get everything ready.  It was all relatively easy: put the dinners in the oven, warm up the rolls, soften the butter, heat the gravy and put the sides into bowls.

Oh wait, this has always been a household of TWO.  We don't have parties. I don't have a gravy bowl, divided dishes, or any dishes that would be considered special holiday dishes.  The gravy was easily handled, it was just going to be in a pyrex measuring cup.  The bowls I bought the day before were for the rolls and the ambrosia.

Then I remembered that I had kept some of the bowls that the m-i-l had given me.  They were in the hard to reach cupboard above the refrigerator.  I got out the stool and began to rummage around; finding a crystal bowl, an antique candy dish, one of those crystal salad bowls from the 90's that I believe everyone has at least one of, and a second-hand bowl that I used for a bird bath/water dish during this summer.  

So that problem was solved, everything was dished and ready.  Now how to get it all next door all the while keeping it hot and unspilled.  Everything was covered in either plastic wrap or tinfoil.  Luckily, I had just taken a flat out of my old truck that I used to transport plants. I put a towel across it and now we're in business.  I took out two cookie trays, loaded them up with towels, stacked them, and two trips later: dinner was served.

The parents were like little kids they were so excited for dinner.  Not only a holiday dinner but one that was prepared by the daughter-in-law who pulled off this magical dinner out of nothing. (their perception, not mine)  Also, visits in their tiny house are rare so just having company was a treat. 

All in all, I had fun. I enjoyed the holiday for once. It turns out the key to a happy Thanksgiving for me is Total Control.  

21 November 2022

Math in Cups

I've mentioned that this has been an expensive year. I have reached the point of I Can't Think About It because mydawg.  It's not dire and it's "fine" and people have it worse, for sure.  It just feels like a giant step backward to me.  I had a 5-year plan that is now a We'll See About 6-years plan.

So, with all that.  Here's a story chock full of privilege:

When the roof came in significantly over the bid due to unforeseen damage, I immediately went into Cut All Frivolousness Mode.  Cut our cable channels, cut our data plan, unsubscribed from subscription boxes and magazines I don't read anymore, etc.  It's amazing how things just add up over time and a person doesn't notice.

Then Lucy needed surgeries and I really started to look at things. I had already budgeted (*hork* hate that word) so there wasn't a lot to be done. I did reschedule some payment dates and then kind of shrugged and resigned to my fate.  We skipped Friday Night Dinner a few times, I skipped buying flowers Every Friday.  We were fine.

Then Kevin...oh, Kevin.  He's going to be the death of me.  He did math. Math is never my friend.  Math continually does me wrong.

He had thought about the coffee stand.  We see our friends at the coffee stand A LOT.  A lot A LOT.  He did the math and extrapolated it out to the annual cost.  I am Team Coffee Stand.  I am Treats Before Tasks.  Team Support our friends/ Local Businesses.  He is, apparently, Team Buzz Kill.  Literally.

But I admit, even I goggled at the cost.  I mean, we should be embarrassed.  We are, a little, but then we think about treats and it fades a little.  I can use coupons at the grocery store, lolsigh.

Then Kevin spoke with The Nephew and somehow the topic arose.  He said "Oh, we make ours at home, It's easy."  Nephew, you used to be my favorite.  (he totally still is but you know, not in this instance)

Kevin mentioned - in a way that I know this isn't going to end well for me -  "The next time you go into town..."  

There is a restaurant supply store near the actual grocery store.  This is where you can buy the flavored syrups and accessories for the drinks.  Oh, and hey, hi, I'm talking about Lotus Drinks, and not coffee drinks.  But coffee supplies too and but, times two the sequel: I haven't been able to make a non-coffee-tasting, coffee drink that Kevin doesn't hate. 

And Lotus Drinks are organic energy drinks, btw.  

Well, first off, I had to figure out the flavors that are in our favorite drinks.  I was able to do this when it was one of my least favorite baristas.  I asked about a drink and she handed me the master list with all the drinks and all the flavors.  Casually, I took a cell photo of it then printed it once I got home.

Of course Kevin and I drink different drinks.  I tend toward strong, and he tends toward sweet.  Looking at my purloined list, I discovered that each drink has three flavors and none of them are the same.  So, that's six bottles of syrup.  Plus seltzer water.  This is not feeling very save-y, Kevin.

Now to buy the Lotus potion.  Yeah, only available online.  And it's expensive.  Well, not when you do the per serving cost but that initial large purchase cost. (MATH) Plus the pumps and the shipping.  (sigh) At this point I'm not feeling like I'm saving ANY MONEY.

But again, Kevin-with-the-math explains that in just seven days, we will have Paid For the stuff to make the drinks for almost three weeks.

But wait, there's more!  Kevin likes the seltzer water in the one-litre bottles.  I like the seltzer in cans. Neither of us enjoyed the recycling piling up much faster than usual.  And the refrigerator being full of said bottles and cans.  

This is where I have become one of those people.  I went to my shmamazon account and bought a soda stream.  Again, this doesn't feel very save-y but in the long run, it will save me time and frustration.

Now that's the financial "fun" of this project.  I also have to find space for all of this stuff.  As I've mentioned before, I hate clutter.  I hate stuff on the countertops.  I have resented the blender sitting on the counter since I bought it a year ago.  #matureadult  Now I have all this stuff and a water machine that doesn't fit under the cupboard.

So I decided the other weekend that I was going to figure this out.  All the home shows have coffee station, wine bar, etc. features.  I am not inventing the wheel here.  Big projects are my jam when I'm feeling overwhelmed so this is perfect timing.  

Oh, wait. Tiny detail.  When this began, I thankfully had not taken recycling away just yet.  Cut to me fishing out lids and cups from the recycle bin, hand washing them, then hoarding them.

Everything came out of the cupboard and off of the counter and onto the island.  Then I stood back to make a plan.  Feeling frustrated, I sent a photo to a friend who Unknowing that I was Spiraling, and they mentioned adding a shelf.  Sometimes it is the most obvious solution that is the most difficult to realize.

Kevin came in the house and I'm all "So, we need to go to town before I can finish."  With a sigh, he asked "What are you taking apart NOW."  Then we went to town.

We bought two extra shelves and I happily returned home to finish this project.  I had already repurposed my in-box from my old office to corral the bottles, cups, lids, and straws.  But I didn't have enough room to accommodate the tall bottles of flavors AND the to-go cups of various shapes, sizes and materials.

Also, I had to relocate my coffee cups and drinking glasses to the cupboard where...wait for it...the coffee is kept, above the coffee pot.  I know, right?  Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious.  And this required the additional shelf. Zippy twist, right?

The notes are recipes because if I hear "How do I make the green drink?" 
one more time, there may be hostage taking.

$10 shelf can make a big difference

 Now in one area is everything we need: the cups, the lids, the straws.  A glass for getting ice and a stir spoon. (although I really want one of those twisty ones but there's that math again) in that repurposed tray.  The soda machine handle fits under the cupboard and that's as good as it's going to get. The flavors are all stored by category/flavor on the shelf and the other to-go cups are on the tops shelf.  (yeti's not featured. What I thought was a meh gift has turned out to be great)

With the new shelf, it caused me to cull through cups and glasses again.  There's just two of us and I don't need six of each.  It also made me reorganize the cupboard that I really never cared about because it was all cooking stuff.  It's still a work in progress as I'm short and can barely reach the top shelf.

As it stands, I estimate that next year we will begin officially saving money.  This is hyperbole, as we already are. It just feels like Not right now.

And Lucy and I still go to the treat stand sometimes. Ssshhhh.

Then we bought a truck...........

20 November 2022

Everything's Fine, Everyone's Fine. Just Fine


We will be returning to regular programming THIS WEEK.  Apologies for the lack of posts.  

03 November 2022

Every Light In The House Is On

 Right now every light in the house is on.  (that's an old country song)  I slept in this morning and now I'm stuck in If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. Thus all the lights on.  (Kevin is outside otherwise he'd be having none of this)

What had happened was...

Lucy was sick in the middle of the night, multiple times.  Kevin took her out three time and let me sleep and I took her out twice and let him sleep.  We think she ate the in-laws "organic" dog food. (I have the quotes because I believe they saw it on television and that's why they bought it. It's refrigerated but they mix it with cheap canned and then let it sit out for the dog to "eat when she wants"...that was a longer explanation than I intended)

Well, I got up to go take a shower, Lucy was nosing around the bed. I peeked under the bed skirt and she had gotten sick just under the bed.   Kevin offered to help clean it and I wish I'd let him but he's not as thorough as I am. Or OCD but whatever, I'm doing it.

I've now showered, eaten, tidied the house, restarted a load of laundry, cleaned Rose the Robot, and have wandered back to my office to answer the Best Question from my BFF.  

I still have to deal with the dog sick, I have to dry my hair but I want to leave it wet and out of my face while I clean the dog sick. Yes, there is such a thing as hair ties, I know.  I went to get a rag for cleaning and found myself refilling bathroom supplies.  Then I remembered that I wanted to wash Lucy's blankets in my office and here I am...at the computer.  Like you do.

My hair is almost dry.  I don't have the rag yet. Lucy's blankets remain on her pillow.  The dog sick is still there but a few more minutes isn't going to change anything.  I will use my new shiny carpet cleaner.

Kevin came in to get something.  Stopped mid-sentence, cocked his head and listened then asked "What in the hell is that?"  


He shook his head

"So...you'd like me to turn it up?"

He went back outside.

Despite the above, Lucy has been mostly back to normal.  She tires easily and she still occasionally fusses her bum but mostly we're through this.  She has the occasional poo issue but that will fully resolve. So thank you sweet tiny 8 lb 6 oz baby jesus for that little tour through hell to be finished.

I just realized I don't know where my phone is.  This is the second time I've lost it today in this house.  The first time it was buried in the blankets from taking out Lucy at 3:30 this morning.  I suspect that it is in approximately the same location again because mixed in with all the above, I also thought it was a good time to strip the bed.

The dryer just dinged. I still have to mop the floors, and then help Kevin.  My hair is now dry and no, I haven't dealt with the dog sick.  

It's now a full two weeks later and not much else has changed.  EXCEPT Lucy is 98%.  I don't know that we'll achieve a full 100 percent because she is, after all that, still ten years old.  No more poo accidents so that is a win that was feeling like would never happen.

Today's adventures included walkies in the rain, two trips into town, helping the in-laws with their insurance, and the ever present work.  My hair is still damp but that's because once it began raining here in the PNW, it has not stopped.

And still, every light in the house is on.