This is (kinda) my first full month with a Silk & Sonder planner. I say “kinda” because it arrived a week into the month.
But I realized today, that even if some of my prompts are empty, and even if I stare at the same exercise day after day, that I am still performing the reflection actively and being present for/in myself.
The new July planner is, according to a tracking email I got this morning, out for delivery today. This is very exciting as I feel like now I can perhaps slowly ease into the upcoming them and actually use the planner as a planner.
I’ve experimented with various ways to log what’s important to me and honestly I still struggle with “what should be where.” I can’t determine what should be on my monthly habit tracker versus my weekly goal tracker.
I have quasi-decided that my monthly habit tracker reinforces habits I have established and the weekly goal tracker helps me tackle specific projects or establishing/renewing habits.
The other “problem” I have is using the weekly health planner— it’s been blank each planner I have received. I don’t meditate, never have and don’t intend to. I haven’t reliably reconnected with flossing. I haven’t lifted a dumbbell in months. Once upon a time I did yoga…
But that also brings up the idea of how many times can you list something as a goal and/or put it on the tracker and not do it at all.
As volunteers with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, the teenager and I have met some wonderful crazy cat people.
My daughter now pet sits for our cat foster godmother — an endeavor that involves the usual house sitting details (bring in the mail, water the flowers, feed the fish in the pond, clean the pool filter, take care of the two dogs, two indoor cats and two outdoor cats) and the animals rescue ones (17 cats in one special area of the house and several more in the garage). It takes a special teenager to handle that kind of responsibility.
One of our fellow foster moms— a specialist in the unsocialized “hissy spitty” feral kitties—met the teenager at our foster cat godmother’s house when Parker and Extra Crunchy (the two surviving distemper kittens) were getting their shots. Hissy spitty mommy has a vacation planned in July, but, like all of us in this game, has too many animals for any simple care solution. So she asked my teen if she could house sit. Hissy spitty mommy has about eight kittens, one foster cat, two house cats, one Senegal parrot (26 years old), two dogs (one of whom is a kinda-dog-aggressive geriatric German shepherd).
We agreed to meet them after taking care of things at our foster cat godmother’s house. I usually don’t accompany the teenager on this job, but to make less driving around I came.
The teenager invited me to come see the little cat who always hides behind the litter box. So I did.
“She’s terrified,” the teen said.
I crouched down. I offered her my fingers. She sniffed and came right out of hiding. When I tried to pull away, she leapt in my lap.
And of course the teenager suggests this one belongs with me. And foster godmother tells me I can take her home. But we are going to visit the Hissy Spitties. The teenager and I agree that I will return to visit Khloe and if she rushes to me again that we will take her home.
Foster godmother, not missing an opportunity, tells us her former owners used to take her kittens away then throw her outside and kick her if she tried to get in the house. At least, that’s what the teenager said.
We then went to the Hissy Spitty Sunporch and toured their lovely herb garden, met their pets and even received a handmade bar of soap.
“Mom,” the teenager said, “I think you found your person.”
Then we stopped at Sheetz for a very unhealthy dinner and went back to see Khloe. She came to me even faster this time.
And despite never coming out of hiding for our cat foster godmother, she couldn’t seem to get close enough to me here in my room. I got five large brush fulls of hair from her.
I have spent most of my life loving the morning, popping out of bed at 7 a.m., and falling asleep by 10. I did my best work as a “morning person” and loved the rhythms of the sun.
I don’t think that has changed. But in my current job working for fashion subscription service Stitch Fix at their Bizzy Hizzy warehouse.
I had a choice of day or evenings, but the prospect of waking up before 5 a.m. every day did not appeal to me.
Even though I traditionally considering myself a morning person.
Now I get my mornings to wake up without an alarm clock, enjoy the sun, make appointments and merely use my favorite part of the day for myself.
And if I come home from work exhausted and sore, I can collapse in bed.
I have come to appreciate a beauty in the middle of the night— the stillness of what is normally busy and crowded, the darkness of businesses and houses. There’s a hush that falls over the world.
I received a phone call from my daughter while she was at her pet sitting job last night. She asked if we could go for a drive. She wanted to listen to music and try my car’s sport mode. She wanted to explore country roads and laugh together.
I took the dog out one last time as both the dog and my daughter relieved themselves (though my daughter was indoors). The dog and I sat in the hammock and waited for her.
And cuddling with an almost 60-lb pit bull/mastiff/black lab mix in a hammock is both riotously funny and dangerous.
I even tried to take some photos.
It didn’t work.
So we left at 10:30 p.m. and with gas more than $3 a gallon we drove for an hour. We even left the state. And when we got closer to home, I spotted a generic “food mart” at a Shell station with all the lights still on at 11:45 p.m.
The teenager loves a good gas station mini mart.
In character for us, we pulled a u-turn and visited a mini-mart stocked with a wide variety of characters, where I think I was being eyed suspiciously because we were wearing masks.
We picked out some snacks: Lipton Pure Leaf tea was on sale for 2/$3.33, an Oreo brownie, and some 7-layer burrito flavored Combos. The bill came to almost $10.
I had the cherry hibiscus iced tea and it was amazing. The Combos tasted like eating tacos.
Driving through some more questionable neighborhoods, we saw police interviewing some women in cheap flip flops and got passed by an SUV with Florida license plates.
I made my daughter laugh by imagining her picking a fight with somebody twice her size, and then almost made her pee herself laughing when she asked the psycho princess cat Touch of Grey sit for a Combo.
“Are you teaching her tricks?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Since she’s crazy, instead of getting her to cuddle and be sweet, are we rehabilitating her for a career in the circus?”
We both cackled.
“What’s next? A little pink tu-tu to match her collar? Teaching her to dance and spin?”
The teenager curled into the fetal position laughing.
These are the memories I will cherish. Simple, poignant moments in the middle of the night. The ones that chronicle who we are.
Earlier this week we got our third Hello Fresh meal delivery. The teenager (I have reason to believe teenager #2 will be moving this week; as she has only been home a few hours in the last week, I hereby formally declare that teenager #1 is now, once again, the teenager) asked to try one of the discount offers provided in another of our subscription services.
They are certainly clever marketers. Box one comes at something like 50% off, then they scale back the discount until delivery four is eight percent off.
And box five, for four people, once you include the shipping, is about $40 per meal.
Now, as I have mentioned, I am a good home chef and a very thrifty shopper. For the cost of one of these meals I bet I could replicate at least three of their recipes.
But that’s not the real point of one of these services, at least in my opinion.
Renew people’s interest in being in the kitchen.
Teach people to cook without the risk of randomly googling a meal on the internet, buying the wrong ingredients or admitting you don’t have any skill in the kitchen.
Offer the convenience of avoiding the shopping experience or running out of or forgetting a key ingredient.
Provide better choice and healthier options than restaurants.
Help people meal plan and stick to that plan which can reduce the chance of poor food-related decisions.
And my favorite, expose people to new recipes and new uses to standard ingredients, expanding a person’s cooking repertoire. That, in my opinion, is worth the investment and why, after next week, I will be converting to a two-meal, once-a-month plan.
Now for the “cons” of specifically Hello Fresh:
I am freaked out by the idea that my raw meat spends 24-36 hours in transit, and by the amount of ice packs in that box. The waste generated upsets me. I noticed that our cat foster godmother reuses the boxes as cat huts.
The ingredients sometimes disappoint. I bought their “chicken protein pack” and their chicken strips were tiny chunks— like popcorn chicken. I ordered an extra bag of Brussel sprouts and they were either $3.50 or $3.99, which is the going rate for fresh Brussels. Now they are my favorite and I thought Hello Fresh might have access to special sprouts. Maybe organic or a unique source. Nope. Green Giant.
Our schedules in this house are chaotic and finding the time and energy to commit to preparing several meals a week like this is more stressful than I anticipated.
The recipes assume you have a certain efficiency in the kitchen. I think we, on average, require one hour at least for a meal that should take 10 minutes prep time and 30 to cook.
There’s a lot of rice.
I’m not sure these meals fill me up for more than two hours.
There are cheaper meal delivery services available. One friend recommended trying Every Plate.
So what have we tried so far?
Pork with Apple Dijon Pan Sauce over farro and wilted kale. (Photos above) I liked it. Teen found the pork scrumptious and well-seasoned but does not care for neither farro nor kale.
Thai Ginger Curry with creamy coconut veggies, peanuts and lime rice. I loved their creative use of red peppers and green beans for the vegetables. They provided a fantastic, full-fat coconut milk. Teen did not care for it. She likes my curries, but this curry was not her thing.
Tuscan Garlic Butter Chicken with creamy kale and paprika carrots. Amazing. All around. The Tuscan heat spice blend excites me. Teen still hates kale.
Paprika Chicken in a Lemony Sauce with pistachio rice and roasted carrots. Not the rich Hungarian dish I was hoping for but very yummy. We both agreed. The pistachios in the rice seemed so decadent.
Thai Shrimp with candied peanuts over sesame cabbage and arugula. I bombed this one. I loved the salad portion and the peanuts, but I’m not a fan of shrimp. The teen loves shrimp but is not fond of purple cabbage and discovered that she detests arugula. So I ate salad for three days until I got sick of it and she ate a lot of shrimp.
Meatloaves with creamy mushroom sauce plus garlic mashed potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts. The teen and I might agree this was our favorite. But I didn’t eat my mushrooms.
Creamy Cilantro Steak Bowls with garlic lime rice and charred poblano. I enjoyed this one but they were so generous with the steak portions that I got three meals out of what was listed as two servings. This was spicy. And that was good, but the vegetable was onions and neither the teen nor I wanted to chomp on a serving of cooked onions.
We have one meal left this week— apricot ginger chicken— and one more box coming this week. Hello Fresh offered a refresh of our taste buds, but hits hard on the wallet.
Now, by saying that I don’t mean a bad week, or even an unhappy week. But reality is life is rarely easy nor does it often stay the same.
And I took a fall down the stairs on Sunday resulting in a lot of bruises and perhaps more shaken pride.
On Tuesday, the entire Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse received news that not only had Stitch Fix’s stock soared twenty percent the previous day but that the company was restructuring the pay scale and putting it into effect with the next pay check.
This meant the entire company got a raise— the starting wage for the Bizzy is now $16.50 and warehouse associates will receive 50 cent-an-hour increases every six months until the three year mark.
On Wednesday I did most of my shift in QC, moving to pick at 9:30. I had completed 93 fixes despite a roster meeting that night which put my metrics at 108%.
On Thursday morning, my daughter and I went for our first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. (I later found out Rite Aid had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And the hospital literally 500 steps away had been giving it the previous week.) We went to another campus of the hospital network near our house and noticed they had a very smooth operation able to accommodate more than a dozen people at a time.
And I literally had my choice of any time I wanted for my first vaccine. But somehow, when I went to schedule my follow up and they only offered the second dose on two days in July, during two evenings— July 7 and July 14. And the July 7 window was 4 to 8 p.m. Those times conflict with my shift. So I politely asked if there would any other times available. I was told no.
Thousands of choices for the first dose. Only a couple for the second.
Had I been able to find Johnson & Johnson I would be officially mask free by the end of June. Ironic that it won’t be until August now even though I am probably naturally immune. For now. Maybe for life.
The good news is we had our Friday night Bizzy Hizzy dance party on Thursday as one of our supervisors was going to be out Friday and didn’t want to miss it.
But between the heat, the humidity, achy muscles from the shot, lingering effects from my fall down the stairs and maybe even some joint pain from changes in barometric pressure… I only got 113 fixes folded and shipped out. That’s 90%. People noticed too. That made me sad.
Speaking of sad, our favorite nurse is leaving the Bizzy Hizzy for a position in hospice. The nursing staff is only temporary due to Covid and she thought it might be time to transition back to a permanent position.
Teenager #1 and I had fun gathering some gag gifts for her: Band-aids, ibuprofen, muscle pain relief cream, etc., with a Lebanon bologna/horseradish cheddar hoagie from Park Avenue Market. She loved it.
Stitch Fix circulated a giant card that we all signed and had cupcakes for her at our 10 p.m. break.
This was followed by the regular Friday night dance party. And I hit 124 fixes. That’s 95%.
My daughter often stops at Grocery Outlet in part because of their “rainbow Coke program” where you can rummage through lose cans of soda and mix and match flavors for 25 cents each. They have weird food, good deals, and allow us to try things on which we wouldn’t usually splurge.
Tonight we made the Cheetos Jalapeño Macaroni and Cheese. Now, hands down, without question, my absolute favorite ultra-processed boxed macaroni and cheese product is Wegmans house brand Spirals and Cheese dinner, which I often used to get on sale for 33 cents a box.
This hard larger than average noodles that once prepared very quickly absorbed all the sauce. It tasted exactly like jalapeño cheetos. Except you didn’t have to chew so much. I ate a bowl, and the spice developed on the roof of my mouth versus my tongue. I added a can of tuna and had another bowl. A two-serving box was 79 cents.
Other Random Products
Fried Oreos: finally tried them at Sheetz. Gooey in the middle. Enjoyed them but was disappointed by the end product because I never realized how much of the allure of Oreos was in the crunch factor.
Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Hershey Kisses: very smooth strawberry flavor and I didn’t expect the crunchy bits. Honestly, between 20 flavors of Oreos and constantly rotating flavors of Hershey Kisses, my taste buds are getting burnt out. How many different flavors of potato chips and Mountain Dew do Americans really need?
Tropical Swedish Fish: like the iconic red flavor of Swedish Fish that vaguely resembles cherry, these tropical Swedish fish vaguely resemble something familiar but the flavors listed on the box aren’t even all flavors (passion fruit, pina colada, beachy punch and tropical island). They are weird and the colors are muted and off-putting.
Dunkin’s Peach Lemonade Refresher: possible one of the most over sweetened items I have ever tasted. Even teenager #1 who likes sweet things couldn’t drink it. So I suggested she blend it with some diet ginger ale we had in the house. That she loved.
And as promised— a brief update on Hello Fresh.
Meals, for four servings, cost about $35 each, when including shipping. The meals are amazingly curated and the recipes amazing. This week I tried to pick things my daughter would like but that I wouldn’t normally buy or don’t often take the time to make.
The Turkey meat loaves with mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts and mushroom sauce were a hit. But the shrimp Thai salad bombed. I don’t care for shrimp, poor teenager #1 struggled to eat it all. And didn’t. And it turned out I didn’t notice when I ordered it that the based of the salad was arugula. And the teen hates arugula. So I ate massive vegetarian salads for dinner for three days. They were scrumptious but I don’t want to eat arugula again for a while.
We downsized our box from three meals to two as it is Sunday, another box ships tomorrow and we still have steak from last week to make.
So while we are eating better, we are spending a whole lot of money, struggling to find time to be in the kitchen and then stressing over getting the meals prepared before they go bad or another box shows up.
My new Silk & Sonder planning arrived today (no wait, yesterday) after some mishaps with the postal service. To read more about that, Silk & Sonder’s marvelous customer service and my previous experience with the product, allow me to direct you here: Silk & Sonder posts.
I already did the boring stuff— the data transfer of dates already scheduled and associated what not like what Hello Fresh meals we still have coming. Now I will sit with the book for a while and interact with it while blogging my feelings. I received the May journal late in the month and used the time to experiment and test how I wanted to use the book so I feel ready to commit more fully.
So let’s open the book.
1. I find the space “if lost return to” a tad silly and makes me feel five. As in five years old.
2. Table of contents.
3. Editor’s letter. Let’s actually read it this month. Meha, the author of the letter, does a really great job articulating why June is a great month for this theme of “play.” She also has a great thought that addresses my fear of play. “Play can be nurtured in seemingly ordinary ways, but it’s up to us on how willing we are to open ourselves up to new characters, stories, and settings in the midst of our chaotic schedules.”
Play can be nurtured in seemingly ordinary ways, but it’s up to us on how willing we are to open ourselves.
Meha, Silk & Sonder creator
4. May reflections: wins, hiccups, favorite moments, hard moments, changing habits… I feel like I can answer these now and my answers will help frame the month ahead.
And coupled with this… on the same two page spread is space for June intentions.
So let me fill this out and I’ll be pausing there for right now. Until next time…
Greetings my readers — apologies for the lackadaisical level of blogging but in addition to mandatory overtime at the Bizzy Hizzy my life has been a tad repetitive.
I ended a beautiful work week with hitting my QC quota not once but twice, learning that my favorite nurse is leaving to take a job in hospice, introducing my daughter to some of my Stitch Fix colleagues, finding out I have to get the Covid vaccine* and wear a special sticker in the warehouse if I want to work without a mask this summer, and binging on fried food and a Swedish fish milkshake at Sheetz.
The new Swedish Fish milkshake at Sheetz (my favorite junk food spot in the middle of the night — scrumptious jalapeño poppers and Wisconsin-style cheese curds) topped off my night although I was a little “drunk” on sugar when I got home and slept like garbage because of it. But the sweet flavor and the tiny gooey chunks were a lot of fun.
And to make life exciting, my replacement Silk & Sonder June journal arrived. The excellent customer service made right for the difficulties incurred by the postal service. My original June journal has been sitting in the regional post office 8 miles away for two weeks and at one point did arrive in my local post office two miles away only somehow to be rediscovered at the regional post office yesterday. The post office claims it will be delivered today.
If I end up with two I will give one to my friend Gayle who is often my partner in crime. She’s a graphic designer, a college professor and, in my opinion, a professional and talented doodler. So if we use this “self-care” journal together, it could lead to some interesting feedback.
Another random side note, teenager #1 is considering returning to therapy. She has struggled to find a good match as she is a teen but an unusually mature teen with more adult than teen problems. I have reached out to a friend of a friend (we all went to college together) about the prospect of her professionally seeing my daughter and I was suddenly struck by the notion that I am now old enough that my friends have such fully developed skills and careers that we are, well, the grown-ups in the room.
Anyway, back to Silk & Sonder, the June 2021 theme is “play.” I am numb with fear. My mother and estranged husband all insist I don’t know how to play. I had carved away this small block of time before dinner to explore more of my June Silk & Sonder planner…
I transferred the June-related notes from my May planner. The basic layout is the same but I see they do try to change up the mood tracker and some of the pages. I didn’t try last month’s recipe or complete all of the “creativity” exercises.
But I was surprised at how distressed I became when I no longer had it. I’m a little behind on all my hopes for today so as I start working with it more there will be another post. Or many.
* Now, please don’t lambast me for not wanting to get the Covid vaccine. I am very glad there are products available for those who need it or would feel safer with it. But the research on this virus is still happening, the current products on the market are not approved by the FDA and the mRNA vaccines are new technology (using the same techniques developed by crispr to genetically modify mosquitoes so they can’t carry disease and the same technology was used by a Chinese scientist to modify a female baby so she can’t catch HIV) that is not a vaccine at all.
I had an appointment to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as that is a more traditional (do they call it viral vector?) product. My appointment was on the same morning the FDA called for the pause, so it was canceled, not by my choice. I don’t understand the fuss about blood clots when plenty of women get blood clots all the time from hormonal birth control pills.
And if that wasn’t enough to make me think twice, the new guidance from the CDC suggests that natural immunity generated by the body after contracting and recovering from Covid, which I had in December 2020, should last for at least a year if not for life.
So I probably don’t need an experimental vaccine product, not yet.
And, I have anecdotal reports from a friend who works in Washington DC as a medical technologist who has attended events at the CDC regarding this virus, that the next round of vaccine products, boosters as it were, may allow those who have not been vaccinated to receive only one shot instead of two.
And, I think finally, I am concerned that since I had Covid, the vaccine may cause a reaction on the first dose and since I had Covid once, I’m not ready to volunteer to repeat any of that experience. In addition, vaccinated people often test positive on Covid tests when they don’t have Covid and this can cause unnecessary quarantine and prevent travel and delay necessarymedical procedures as one friend can attest.
Item one: Mama Periwinkle “Wink” Budgie Bird died probably June 3, in the wee hours of the night. She appears to have died peacefully in her sleep. Teenager #1, with her witchy energy powers, agrees.
Item two: Teenager #2 graduates from high school tomorrow.
Item three: the overtime at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy has caught up with my body. Last night, the combination of work and the subsiding hormones of my menstrual cycle made my discomfort so intense my knees were shaking as my body tried to compensate for the pain in my lower back. Which, I survived thanks to fun messages from one of my neighbors and photos like this one of my daughter’s dog:
Item four: My supervisor and the person who hired me surprised me with an observation last night. I told her I wasn’t feeling my best but would gladly see what I could do. I scored 144%. I think we were both astounded. She did the observation early as she was taking the rest of the week off for her birthday.
Item five: and somehow, on her birthday, despite still having pain (but now the kind of pain that follows the chiropractor not my everyday pain), I met my QC metrics for the first time ever. That means I folded clothes and prepared 130 different boxes (fixes) for the Stitch Fix clients.
Item six: I think foster cat Louise is part giraffe.
Earlier this week it was 90 degrees and sunny. Yesterday was 60 and cloudy and prone to dramatic cloudbursts of dramatic rain.
Today, the high was around 45.
My knees ache and my ankles keep giving out. I collapsed on the floor at one point, scraped my knee and tore my fancy, super soft and cozy joggers I bought at Stitch Fix’s Bizzy Hizzy employee pop-up store.
So I’m currently in bed with my electric blanket and two three-legged cats.
Tomorrow I will finish my May edition of the Silk & Sonder wellness/self-care planner. Even though June starts on Tuesday, apparently Silk & Sonder starts all of its planners on Monday, so Monday May 31 is part of the June planner.
The June planner shipped in mid May, with an anticipated delivery date of May 24. According to the tracking information, it arrived at our regional post office about 10 miles away in the early afternoon on May 18, but didn’t arrive at our local post office 2 miles away until 4 days later on May 22.
It has languished there for a week.
Now, in the great scheme of life, this planner is not vital. But it is rather pricey, and I find a weird emotional sensation in stressing over planning my mental wellness strategies because my calendar is lost in the mail.
Receiving a calendar that suggests you plan for the future with reflection and mindfulness AFTER the month starts defeats some of the purpose.
And if there are problems with the United States Postal Service, shouldn’t the merchant find a new method of delivery? The product is time sensitive.
Honestly, I find it difficult to evaluate if the planner has allowed me to plot a calmer and more mindful future/existence because I’m too busy freaking out that tomorrow is Sunday, that I have to not only work Monday but work day shift, and I can’t even fill out my to do lists, meal plans and other Silk & Sonder pages.