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  • A Feast

    If you have an Audible subscription, every month they let you choose two free titles from a handful of their Audible Originals. One of the titles I picked this month was "Twain's Feast" - they took a list of food that Mark Twain wanted at a feast of his, foods that he missed when he traveled, and broke down what those foods would have meant to him, and what they looked like culturally. 

    It's also narrated in part by Nick Offerman, which didn't hurt. He's got a voice that I would be okay with narrating a phone book. 

    If you have the change to listen to Twain's Feast, I do recommend it. Even as someone who isn't obsessed with Mark Twain, I thought the whole thing was really interesting, and is the jumping point for the rest of this post.

    Last time Matt and I went up to New York, we picked up a couple loaves of Felix Roma bread. I hadn't had it in a really long time, but all I remembered was that it was very good italian bread. Later, when Matt said that he wanted to drive back up to NY for more bread, I felt vindicated. It wasn't just my memory that made the bread good, it must be legitimately good!

    So between that and Twain's Feast, I got to thinking: What would my ultimate feast look like? What are foods that I not only like, but have some significance?

    I thought I'd start with foods that I associate with states I've lived in:

    Spiedies from New York
    Sopapillas from Colorado, and the long defunct El Matador restaurant
    Cheesesteaks and Gelatis from New Jersey, as well as a cheese pizza from Wing King in Maple Shade - I literally have dreams periodically about being in NJ and being able to get a pizza from there. Oh, and bread from DelBuono's bakery. Oh! And a carmine pizza from Bertucci's. It's not on the menu anymore, but it had carmelized onions and fresh mozzarella over a roasted tomato sauce. Fresh mozzarella is my jam. I wouldn't be upset if there was a soft pretzel there either. 

    Foods that I associate with people include:

    My Mom's Mac and Cheese with peaches. Yes, peaches. 
    Chocolate chip cookies using a recipe from my Aunt Sally, and Sugar cookies from my Grandma Judy's recipe.
    We'll make fruit salad from my great Aunt Margaret's recipe - it's fruit salad in the most flexible definition ... but delicious. 

    Just because I plain like them, there'd need to be mashed potatoescorned beef, and manicotti

    This is all just off the top of my head, so I'm sure there are things I've forgotten. But if I had the stomach for all of it, I would enjoy the living daylights out of this meal. 

    That being said, I was hungry when I started this, and now I'm even more hungry. So I'm going to go scrounge up some supper - I don't think it'll be nearly as good as anything on this list though. 

  • Not Much to Say

    Nothing groundbreaking going on. 

    The cats are all doing well at the moment. I went on a girls' trip this weekend and picked up some cat-safe bubbles. They've had some amusing reactions. Aeris likes to sit and stare at them from afar - Cuppie will laser focus and follow a few around, but she doesn't really like to touch them. Vizzi waits until they land and then will carefully slink up to one or two, then panic when it pops. 

    The weather is getting colder, as it does, but I'm never particularly thrilled. If I could live in a place that never really dropped below the low 50's for highs, I'd be happy. I've lived in the south long enough that the current highs in Michigan are horrifying. (Mid 30's and low 40's) If I start busting out the full winter coat when it's in the high 50's though, I'll need an intervention. 

    Matt and I are going up to Michigan for Thanksgiving - two birds, one stone. I'm sure his family will be happy to see us, and we'll be even happier to meet our new niece, Aryana. Other than that, I need to stay put for the winter. We've made at least one trip out of state every month since August, and I need to be done for a while.

    On the bright side, we now know that Aery has good company in the kittos. She hasn't had any of her super clingy meowy frantic behavior after any of our trips, and that's really impressive. It seems that she and Cuppie have bonded, and it's really adorable to see Aery have friends. 

    We've been moving some furniture around. We got a murphy bed this summer, so after sleeping on the floor for almost four years, we're finally high and dry. Despite initial speculation that the bed would never be folded up, we actually put it up 99% of the time. The cats love the extra room, and it makes things feel a lot more spacious. We also got a new tv stand this week, with a faux fireplace (but actual) heater in it. It's super swanky and makes everything feel very cozy. I moved the old tv stand into my office, and I've been chipping away at moving some of my Arbonne stuff into it. 
    Next up, I'd like to see us replace our couch and chair, but we haven't decided what configuration we want yet. Currently, we have a loveseat + chair. It'd be more practical to just have a full size couch, but I have to admit ... I kind of like having my own piece of furniture. I don't think we could fit a full sized couch and chair in the room. We'll see. No rush here, because the sooner we replace it, the sooner we have to play "no no, don't scratch that". 

    I've been keeping busy with friends, book clubs, DnD, spas, and a little bit of volunteering. It seems to come in spurts, where I have one super busy week, and then almost nothing the next. It's fine with me, because I'm content to crash on the off weeks. 

    I'll have to remember to take pictures of art stuff as I work on it. I haven't done a lot in that area, but I muddle through stuff here and there. That's partially why I'm looking forward to NOT traveling for a while - I'm in need of routine. 

    That's all for now. I'll try and check in soon with a more exciting update. :)

  • Dos anos

    Dos anos

    There aren't enough words for how much I miss this girl. It's been two years, and it feels both like a blip and a lifetime. 

  • Live From New York

    Okay, so where were we?

    We went up to Michigan in early August for my sister in law’s baby shower. Then my aunt died. Then Matt’s grandma died the same week. So then we made another trip to Michigan and a trip to New York.

    I got sick after we got home from NY and coughed up my lungs forever. I’ve been catching up on Book Club reads and doing Arbonne spas and otherwise life.

    As I write this (on my phone, not optimal), I’m in New York again because one of my cousins got married. I’m really glad that I got to come. Next month we’re going back up to Michigan to meet our niece and see Matt’s family. Then I’m going to try and stay put until spring.

    -

    So, Gwen is a good candidate for radiation. We want to get that done sooner than later - relatively. It’s fairly expensive, we have to block out a few days to drive multiple hours to and from the place, and then there’s the after care. I’ll talk about that more another time. Basically, we need at least 45 days to have things be a pain in the butt. 

    As of last month, we’d gotten a whole tenth of a pound on her. We tried a wet food that she really liked at first but then wanted to go back to her broth. But I FEEL like she’s gained weight since. But I don’t have a good way to weigh her at present.

    -

    Okay, yeah. We’ll put a pin in things here. Phone typing is not conducive to writing much. ❤️

  • Make it Stick

    So, we're trying to help Gwen gain some weight, or at least keep what little she has on, while we sort out her thyroid. It's not the easiest task, given that Gwen eats like a little bird, has no teeth, and is relatively picky.

    When we were trying to figure out what wet food she'd like after her teeth were removed, we went through so many different cat foods. I couldn't really find a theme like a flavor or meat texture. After a while, she seemed to enjoy licking things, but not so much the chewing. (Which makes her choice of kibble as her primary food ... odd.) The only constant was the fancy feast broth packets. Sometimes she'll eat some of the chunks of meat. Most of the time, she doesn't, and those chunks of meat get poached by two furballs who shall remain nameless.

    I wanted something more dense. A friend of mine recommended these delectables packets. The one Gwen is currently enjoying is a bisque with tuna and chicken. It's very soupy, with no discernable chunks of meat to work around. Plus, this one is formulated for cats over 10, so it has extra vitamins. So far, so good. Gwen hasn't turned it away yet, and she's eaten all of it each time. I'd love it if I could get her to eat -more-, but she seems to have very strong opinions on the subject. Trying to give her food - even beloved broth packets - is turned away. She'll take a few dry treats from me, but nothing substantial.

    I kinda wish I had a little produce scale to weigh Gwen on and track her progress, but I guess we'll have to wait until mid-September to find out whether it's done any good.

  • A girl has a cranky thyroid

    A girl has a cranky thyroid

    So, we had Gwen's thyroid check this week. I can't say the results were too surprising.

    Her thyroid is still too high, and she's lost more weight. Poor sass is down to 5.7lbs, which is very close, if not exactly, what she weighed when we adopted her. I can't stand how extra fragile she feels.

    We're officially on 3 clicks of medicine, 2x a day. I have to say, since increasing her dose, she seems to have come around pretty quickly. She's certainly more friendly and active, and *KNOCK ON WOOD* hasn't had any pee problems in 5 days.

    We asked our doctor about radiation, and she's looking into it for us. She confirmed what I suspected, that Gwen is likely a good candidate because of her lack of other health problems. Radiation would probably just be another nuisance on Gwen's list.

    At this point, she's basically a feline Arya Stark.

    Teeth.
    Thyroid.
    Aeris.
    People.
    Pate.
    Pills.

    So, we'll see. We're hanging in there for now. I'm looking into stuff that I can give to Gwen in order to help her gain back some of her weight, or at least slow it down until we get her stabilized.

  • Love Always

    It's been a rough week in our household.

    My aunt died on Tuesday, after living with MS for 24 years. Friday night, Matt's grandmother died.

    I can't say that either death was unexpected - certainly, we had been warned that his grandmother only had days left - but it's a loss all the same. We saw both relatives just last week when we were up in Michigan.

    All this brings to mind something that is pretty cliche, but still true: Tell your loved ones how you feel. Cherish the time with them. Don't hold grudges. Make the best of the time you have.

    You won't regret the love you pour out on someone, but you will regret what you kept to yourself.

  • Go, Go Gwenzilla

    I write this having gotten back from Michigan 28 hours ago. (Give or take) It was the first time we'd left the Fluffs for an extended period, as well as the first time with Gwen on ear gel. She had been so cooperative with the ear gel for me that I wasn't too worried about my parents being able to get it on her, but I had my dad come down to see the process anyway.

    Well, Gwen decided that under no circumstances was she going to let these lesser-known humans medicate her. Not only was she against being medicated, she was violently opposed. I was surprised, because I honestly can't tell you the last time Gwen lashed out at us. She has her opinions, but generally seems to understand that she's not going to get away with it.

    Being as Gwen's thyroid is already out of whack, going a week without medication seemed bad. After talking with our vet, they had my parents bring her in a couple days to medicate her - just enough to keep her going while we were gone.

    When we got home yesterday, Gwen was obviously happy to see us, but I could tell by her body language that she wasn't feeling too great.

    She has a vet appointment in 3 days to recheck her bloodwork. Between not having medicine reliably for several days and my very strong suspicion that her dose was still too low, I took it upon myself to up her dose to three clicks, rather than two. Now, I don't recommend that you fiddle with your cat's medication. But her thyroid was SO HIGH last time, and with the intermittent meds last week, that the extra click can't hurt. I know that the vet would rather see her thyroid a little too low than as high as it was.

    After a couple of doses, she seems to be feeling a little better. I'm hoping for more improvement over the next few days, fingers crossed.

    We're going to have to talk to the vet about whether she's a good candidate for radiation. It was a step I didn't want to have to take, but if Gwen won't allow anyone other than Matt and I to medicate her, it's something we have to seriously consider. The longest she's "okay" going without meds is apparently 2 days. That's just enough time to get up to Michigan, sleep, and then go back home. It's either this, or we board her at the vet in our absence. I think a one time traumatic radiation process may be better for her than constantly traumatizing her when we leave. We'll see how the vet thinks.

    I have to say though, this was the first time we came back from Michigan and Aeris wasn't SUPER DUPER needy, following us around and meowing constantly for several days. Apparently she hung out with Cuppie a lot while we were gone, and it seems to have done the trick for not feeling lonely! I feel bad that it took this long to figure it out, but it seems that we finally found a workable vacation buddy for Aery.

    Vizzi, who is utterly terrified of visitors, played hide and seek the entire time we were gone. Turns out, he's honed his skills quite well. However, within a half an hour of getting home, he was acting more or less normal. Right now, he's sleeping on my desk, keeping my mouse pinned under his paw.

    So, that's all for now. Everyone is alive and well (more or less), and I'll take what I can get.

  • Turning Points and Growth

    The week we lost Mikenna is seared into my mind as one of the worst weeks of my life. When we got back to the house without her, having survived on minimum food and sleep for the past four days, I broke down. Full out body gutteral sobs from the bottom of my soul. It sounds dramatic, but it really was.

    What do I do with my life?

    I'll be deeply honest here, I've done many things over the years, but never committed to them to the point where, when things got challenging, I stuck with them. Maybe it was just that it required a skillset that I didn't yet possess. Or I'd have to sacrifice something that I didn't want to. A lot of it was depression and anxiety.

    When Mikenna got sick, I threw myself into caring for her, full force. I was prepared to put everything on hold for her for the next two years, if that's what it meant to get that much time with her. In the back of my mind, I knew that when it was all over, I was going to have to face everything that I'd shoved aside. But I thought I had two years to prepare for that, not four and a half months.

    This isn't about that, though. This is about everything that has come after.

    Two days later, I went to a friend's house for an Arbonne spa. I didn't really want to go, but because I am an upholder, I had said I would go, so I had to go. Besides, I knew that the sooner I forced myself out into the world, the better off I'd be.

    I was drawn to Arbonne because the products were amazing (I'd tried the mascara a couple years prior and had loved it), I loved that the company had super strict policies not only on how they make their products, but how they get their ingredients - and the idea of meeting people and having my own business was something that had appealed to me for years. I did my research and decided that Arbonne really did seem like a solid company, and makeup and skincare is totally up my inner girly-girl alley. Worst case scenario, I ended up with some products I liked.

    Funny thing though, it didn't go exactly how I had planned. They made it sound so easy! Call up your friends, ask them to host a spa as a favor to you, to introduce you to people, and next thing you know: business! Well, I didn't know a lot of people in the area to begin with, and only a couple of them were willing to host a spa for me. Then one of those spas fell off the calendar when illness swept through the family, and I never got that rebooked.

    This is the point where I quit, where I lick my wounds and say, "Well, I tried. It wasn't meant to be."

    Just like the wedding photography.

    Jewelry.

    Graphic design.

    Every time, when I hit a wall, I checked out. I was so tired of it. I felt like I had failed at everything I had ever tried, and it ate at me.

    There's a lot to unpack there, and I'm not going to say that I've got it all figured out, because I don't. But I knew in my gut that no matter what I tried, it was going to be hard. That's life. So I could keep running from one thing to the next looking for the 'easy' thing, or I could swallow my pride and actually figure out where I was lacking and do something about it.

    Maybe I'll extrapolate on that sometime, but not today.

    I wish I could give you the fairytale ending where I learned my lesson and suddenly everything was easy and there were talking squirrels and a white mercedes. That's not where I'm at yet. I pulled back from trying to book spas and hit the books. I forced myself to start being more social, and meeting new people. I stopped waiting for people to contact me and started contacting them.

    Several months later, I feel like I'm in a much better place as a person. I acknowledge that some things may never come naturally to me, but that doesn't mean that I can't do them. It's perfectly okay to be a little awkward and to own it. Here's what's funny - I do perfectly well with a script. I loved acting, and I can talk in front of people no problem. Stage fright isn't really in my vocabulary. But small talk kills me. Ask me what I've been up to and the past month will fall out the back of my brain and I can't remember a thing. Hand to my heart, I have to think about simple questions people ask and what I can say in response. I feel incredibly dumb, but I do it anyway. I rehearse what to say on the phone, and often have things written down in front of me so that I don't forget things when they say something I wasn't expecting.

    I don't have anything tangible to show you as far as success goes, but I feel like a million bucks. Something challenged me, and I wrestled with it rather than walking away. Arbonne? This is the thing I do and I am proud of it. I love the company, the products, and the community.

    It's simple, but it's not easy. Things worth having rarely are.

  • 1037ef634b9f5180-37208219_10154759212567706_535319286344843264_n.jpg

    I can tell that Gwen is starting to feel a lot better. She's decided that she likes hunkering down in my closet again, which I don't love, but she's coming out frequently, and is very social when she's out.

    I'd prefer that she just slept on the couch or in Matt's chair, but if privacy is what she wants, at least I can keep an eye on her in my closet.

    It can be easy to overlook just how chatty Gwen is when she's happy and feeling good. She goes out of her way to trill hello, and often adds a headbutt to the arm, just for added enthusiasm. It's so nice to see.

    Gwen's also been feeling super bossy about the door. She wants to look out so bad, as it really is the best seat in the house for the cats. But the weather hasn't been great for it, so I've been trying to just open the door in the evening. But when she runs over, headbutts my arm, then runs to the door and meows sweetly, it's hard to say no.

    I believe this means her thyroid is going in the right direction. Time will tell if it's going down far enough. Fingers crossed for little sasspants.