The Rocking Chair

When I was a girl, our house had a fairly plain rocking chair in the living room.

As a girl, I never really thought about it.

And then, when I got pregnant with the now teenager, my friend gave me a rocking chair that was the same basic rocking chair.

I was tickled.

My mother-in-law made cushions for it to match the enchanted forest-themed nursery. (The teenager has never painted over the mural.)

Gradually, when breastfeeding and rocking a grumpy baby was no longer a thing, the rocking chair went down stairs.

The cats like it.

And as the house seems to get smaller, now the chair is on the enclosed sun porch.

Do you know how hairy this chair gets with four cats?

I finally realized today that I could remove the cushions, not just vacuum them. After all, my mother-in-law made the cushions so we could be comfortable with the baby.

The baby just turned 16.

I removed the cushions. I’ll wash the covers and maybe I’ll put them back, maybe I won’t.

How many of us cling to habits or things because we just haven’t realized that we don’t need them or that they don’t serve a purpose?

The rocking chair looks good bare. More appropriate for the porch.

Sometimes we need to stop for a minute and learn to recognize when we are functioning on auto-pilot and not in response to our current environment or situation.

CVS magic

I am not an “extreme couponer” and I hate the whole concept of “extreme couponing.” Life experience has taught me to be frugal, but *living* life has taught me that reading 5 newspapers to get a few extra bottles of Tide raises the question of how much is my time and my happiness worth?

When stores first starting using loyalty cards, I hated the concept. I still hate cards. But customer loyalty apps are different. I already have my phone. These apps also allow me to shop and plan my shopping trips. Target Circle, like many others, combines their coupons, payment options (even when in the store), circulars, and stock all in one place. I can scan items to see if there’s a deal while in the store and, of course, they customize offers to cater to my shopping habits.

The Lidl app allows me to make a shopping list (as does Target but I like Lidl’s list organization system better) and rewards me based on how much money I spend. Last month I earned a 30% off sliced cheese coupon! So I bought extra cheese. We might be living on toasted cheese sandwiches with my upcoming job loss.

I sign up for the emails and while a lot of them get annoying, some of them alert me to major deals on my household staples.

And that is what happened with CVS. They sent me a coupon for the gallon bottle of Arizona iced tea for $1.66 cents. The teenager has a weakness for Arizona iced tea so I let her buy some as an occasional treat.

I texted her the offer, and asked her if she wanted to walk to CVS to redeem it. She declined.

CVS sent a 40% off one item coupon. I loaded it to my card because you never know when you’ll end up in CVS for a health emergency.

The teenager also loves Cinnamon Toast Crunch and had a craving for Honey Nut Cheerios. Now I view cereal as an occasional emergency snack, not as breakfast. But the teen is a convert to the cereal-to-start-the-day camp.

Now I know CVS regularly has regular cereal sales.

Yesterday they sent me a coupon. “One day only! General Mills Cereal! $1.99!”

And the photo featured Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios.

I texted the teenager.

She came downstairs. When I told her that I would buy both cereals, she volunteered to walk to CVS. I handed her my debit card. She refused it. “Mom, it’s $4.”

I asked her if there was anything else she needed. She said no, but she might buy iced tea. I thought, “drats. We missed that iced tea offer.” I told her she could use the 40% off coupon if the iced tea was full price.

She came home with the gallon of iced tea, the two boxes of cereal, and a bag of Doritos. I asked her how much she spent.

“$7,” she said, “but that doesn’t make sense. This is $14 worth of stuff. At least.”

Apparently I also had a snacks/drink coupon I forgot about that also saved us 85 cents.

So we talked about it, and I asked her if she was starting to get my system. She said no. Not at all.

As far as she understood, she merely said she wanted to go to CVS, I looked at the app and put coupons on, she randomly grabbed what she wanted, and told the clerk at the register to use all the coupons.

Magic.

Friday Adventure: Slateford Creek Falls

One of the women I went to school with took her kids to Slateford Creek Falls, a place about 5-6 miles from my childhood home. I have never been there. Her pictures left me captivated.

How could something so beautiful exist so close to my former home?

Gayle joined the teenager and I for a morning walk. We did a little web research— apparently not enough.

Gayle drove and I took her on a scenic detour to my childhood home between Tuscarora Inn and Driftstone Campground in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

We arrived at the main parking lot on National Park Drive in one of the first parks that make up Delaware Water Gap.

And we knew from our research that the falls weren’t by the main parking lot but we decided to follow the main trail anyway. Maybe we thought the falls would move just for us.

We were rewarded for our adventurous spirit by seeing two very large woodpeckers with vivid red heads.

Arrow Island Trail Head

Someone gave us helpful directions that the falls were across the street and by the “pull off” between the guard rails. I remembered seeing the pull off on the way in, and I was sure it wasn’t that far.

I was wrong. We followed the road, on foot, down the steep, windy road. And we almost made it, but we weren’t sure how far it was and wasn’t sure we could walk to the falls AND make it up the hill.

Gayle offered to get the car, which didn’t make much sense because Gayle doesn’t do well on hills. Her knees have aged faster than she has.

The teenager volunteered me to go get the car. I asked if she was coming too— she said no, that I would only slow her down. Apparently, the now-16-year-old can’t keep up with me on hills. And I have cerebral palsy!

So I hauled my butt up that hill, huffing and puffing. Gayle and The Teenager almost made it, too!

I didn’t move Gayle’s seat so I was sitting on the edge barely reaching the pedals and then I couldn’t get the doors to unlock but Gayle took over and saved the day.

And when we found the trail, it was intimidatingly vertical. I’ll let Gayle’s blog entry cover the specifics of the trail:

Click here for Gayle’s blog entry .

My Photos

The teenager got to play in the falls, and Gayle and I didn’t end up on the wrong side of gravity although Gayle did bump her head on that tree.

It occurred to me— as the teenager and I gathered slate for future spiritual purposes, climbed among the rocks and fallen trees in the middle of the creek, and enjoyed the peace of the rumbling water—that this moment was full of freedom, nature and life giving resources.

The stats on this hike weren’t accurately counted. The teen got 4 miles, I got 2.5 and Gayle’s numbers were different from those. I got credit for 3 flights of stairs, Gayle got 14.

And perhaps it was no coincidence that I had received notice that I am losing my job with the full moon and “Independence Day” approaching.

With this in mind, I arrived home in time to meet up with our favorite little dog, Sobaka, who is hanging out with us while her “mom” is at a picnic.

Sobaka laid at my feet while I did some public relations work for upcoming events hosted by Aspire to Autonomy, Inc.

I am constantly blessed to work with such a wide range of people with different outlooks and different strengths. I learn something from everyone of them— admiring one person’s brilliance, another’s kind heart, and yet another’s passion and willingness for boots-on-the-ground work.

It’s a lot to think about.

Maybe I’ll get out my tarot cards tomorrow.

Drumstick Blizzard

This is a review of the new drumstick blizzard.

But at the end of the post, there will be a bit of bad news explaining why I had said blizzard. But let’s focus on the good. Because that’s how I roll.

The teenager and I skipped breakfast and went to Dairy Queen for lunch with Nala, the Goffin’s Cockatoo.

The Drumstick Blizzard

The latest blizzard creation from Dairy Queen is the drumstick blizzard with chunks of deep fried chicken in ice cream. Just kidding.

In reality…

They crushed up bits of Drumstick ice cream cones and peanuts! So good. Very similar to a Snickers Blizzard but not as chewy. The ice cream cone pieces were crunchy and tasty.

And Nala enjoyed her French fries.

So now I have 503 reward points at DQ which is enough for a free 4 piece chicken strip basket.

What I struggle to understand is what is this super bendy straw for?

So, now the bad news… I was informed today that my last day with the non-profit agency where I work will be July 10. That’s why I had a Blizzard.

Here’s to the next chapter. I had a great time learning a lot of new skills in a field that was brand new to me. I had a lot of good experiences and made a lot of new friends and new connections. I look forward to finishing out next week with the team, and I wish the agency the best in the future.

Early Fitness Wins

The teenager has committed herself to her fitness goals at the same time that I have to use some serious discipline on my own behalf.

As the woman in her mid-forties with lower body cerebral palsy and a history of anemia, I have to join her.

The stress of my job has impacted my sleep and my blood pressure and the exhaustion that comes everything—from turning to various comfort eating techniques, drinking too much coffee and working too hard—leads to me not getting enough steps and not doing cardio or weight training.

That makes me look different, feel different and act different.

I like being a strong, fit woman, even if my body isn’t athletic.

My daughter informed me that she can’t work out with me. She doesn’t want her success or failure to have anything to do with anything other than herself. I respect that heartily, but I hope soon we can at least go to the gym together.

She downloaded the Instafitness app onto her phone. I purchased this app for $5 six years ago and it helped me make my body sleek and lean. I went all the way from 142 pounds to 110. That was too thin.

By the way, today I’m 142 pounds.

But why we like Instafitness— it divides workouts several ways:

  • By body group
  • By difficulty
  • By equipment (body weight exercises, dumbbells, and resistance band)
  • Some are labeled as weight loss

Each work out ranges from 10-20 minutes so you can mix and match to build a routine.

Today I tried an arm workout on FitOn. It was a 10-minute burnout session for upper body. I liked how complete it was, but man, I was not prepared for ten minutes of non-stop high intensity dumbbell pounding.

So far, and the reality of our need to get in shape has only really hit us this week:

  • We have made smarter food choices.
  • We have eaten most of the remaining “junk” in the house.
  • I have eaten less refined white carbs.
  • I have eaten more fruits and veggies.
  • My steps were averaging a sedentary 2,000 to 4,000 a day; now I am in the neighborhood of 6,000 to 8,000.
  • I lifted today. Briefly.
  • The teenager is killing it— yesterday was chest, abs & lower body. She repeated chest & abs today.
  • I might even try to get up early tomorrow and do yoga. Maybe.

Vegan food experiments

There are several reasons why I love vegan cooking, but there are also several reasons why I won’t go vegan.

Why I love vegan cooking:

  1. It’s simple.
  2. When done correctly, it usually features fresh, whole foods.
  3. Gaz Oakley, the avant garde vegan. Look him up on YouTube.
  4. It’s a great way to empty the fridge.
  5. It’s healthy.
  6. It reduces the impact of seasonal allergies by lowering the body’s production of phlegm.

Why I won’t go vegan:

  1. I have a high metabolism and I require an unusual blend of macros higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrates than a lot of my peers. To reach those macro goals via veganism requires a large amount of food.
  2. I can’t drink my coffee black.

I was vegetarian for eight years, which ended when I was diagnosed was gestational diabetes at the beginning of my second trimester of pregnancy. I remained primarily vegetarian until my daughter was about 18 months old. At that point, I started craving bacon cheeseburgers even though I hadn’t eaten red meat in a decade and I hated bacon.

Why I went vegetarian:

  1. I hate touching meat.
  2. I hate modern factory farming practices (luckily I live in the middle of some great family farms and can buy milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, honey and meat from them if I want to be ethical).
  3. It’s so healthy, when you’re not living on refined white carbohydrates— which I was.

Why I stopped being vegetarian:

  1. The teenager is a huge carnivore. As a preschooler she told my mom she had to go shoot a bear so she could eat the ham out of him.
  2. A French cookbook. A friend brought me a cookbook in French, from France. I had to cook the recipes.
  3. The onset of anemia, which is when I started craving bacon cheeseburgers.

Today I experimented with some vegan cooking. Do not try this at home until you read this whole post.

Pumpkin Tacos

A few weeks ago, I made vegan tacos with sweet potato in the filling. They were so good! (Recipe here) So I wondered if pumpkin tacos would be similar. The answer is NO!

I heated some corn tortillas— 3 — because you know what’s worse than a vegan pumpkin taco, three vegan pumpkin tacos. It reminded me of the vegan hot dog recipe that recommended steaming and sautéing a whole carrot and placing it in a bun and eating it like a hot dog.

Don’t do it.

Then I filled each tortilla with some canned pumpkin, organic black beans from the Grocery Outlet, and lots of lettuce that I got on clearance for 50 cents at Lidl, 10 days ago.

And I sprinkled each with fresh lime juice.

I ate them. But never again.

My second vegan experiment today involved making my own creamy, tangy hot sauce.

Now this, my lovelies, I encourage you to try.

Vegan black bean hot sauce—
upper left, 11 o’clock

Vegan Black Bean Citrus Hot Sauce

In the Nutri Ninja (or high powered blender or smoothie mixer) combine:

  • Hot peppers to taste— mine were from my mother’s garden and may have included habanero. I used about the equivalent of one cup.
  • 1/2 can organic black beans, rinsed—mine came from the Grocery Outlet
  • About 1/2 clove diced garlic
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • A few tablespoons water
  • Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil—I like the cold-pressed imported from Lebanon that I buy at Forks Mediterranean Deli

If you try it, let me know what you think.

Nala approved, she kept sticking her head in the dirty Ninja cup.

Flecks of hot sauce on the bird

The mundane realities: some fitness babble and praise for the Grocery Outlet

So, after such an action packed four days yesterday seemed no only boring but exhausting. This post will be on the rather ordinary side but I think it may set the tone for adventures to come.

The teenager and I have been pretty consistent with our attempts to join the spiritual walks and reflections championed by our friends celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

Tonight we took a 5,000 step walk in the gentle but steady summer rain, walking the neighbor’s dog.

I loved the colors on this

The teenager and I discussed fitness goals as she needs to lose weight and I need to reclaim my previous fitness levels so I stop falling down. The two goals compliment each other well as we both need exercise, good food and hopefully some weight training. I love a good weight training session. If I had more discipline I would be a body builder.

I typically handle public relations and social media for the non-profit agency where I work and today one of my favorite grocery stores gave us a donation— Grocery Outlet! I love Grocery Outlet so much they have their own tag here on my blog. Check it out!!!

So I know I’m jumping all over the place but before I tell you about the donation I need to tell you what we had for supper because some of it coincidentally came from the Grocery Outlet.

Tonight’s meal featured:

  • Thin pork chops from the Grocery Outlet topped with my homemade sweet apple glaze
  • Canned peaches (cooked in the sauce with the pork)
  • Riced broccoli, cauliflower and carrots from the freezer section at Grocery Outlet
  • Unsalted cashews
  • Sesame sticks (from the Carmelcorn Shop in downtown Easton)

So delicious.

This morning— I put on my pandemic finest and headed to The Grocery Outlet for the donation.

There I met owner Josh Bartholomew and met up with the rest of our team who were loading the truck.

It has been about 13 hours since I made the Facebook post and it’s been viewed more than 2500 times— it was fun to see that number climb all day.

Finally, in case you don’t care about food like I do; here is a cat photo of our Oz.

Today’s walk

Walking takes on significance— as a journey to health, a method of transporting oneself from place to place, a time for reflection, an active meditation.

My friend, Tiff, the beautiful, otherworldly matriarch of La Familia whom we visited Friday night, (Blood Donation, KFC, and our favorite Familia) is celebrating her 25th Wedding Anniversary this summer.

Life threw a variety of curve balls their way, so the pilgrimage to Spain they had planned has now been reduced to a spiritual Facebook group who discuss their walks and their reflections.

I invited the teenager, my friend Gayle and my new friend from Georgia to join in the discussions and activities.

Today the teen wanted to explore Emmaus, and Gayle needed to walk as part of the virtual fundraiser for the Koman Foundation.

Because of the heat, the teen opted to walk in the woods— so we went to Alpine Street Park and took the Alpine Street Trail and walked about 6,000 steps and the equivalent of 15 flights of stairs.

The teenager gathered rocks from the creek. I think rocks are an important part of her spirituality and help ground her.

Gayle’s post on our walk: More Than Pink Hike

After the walk, the teen and I returned to Into the Myst in Downtown Bethlehem where she purchased her amulet.

I think the amethyst with calm her and the sterling silver moon and pentacle will protect her.

Living with a teenager can be exhausting, but seeing her now interpret the world in her own view is amazing.

What a lovely Saturday morning should be

I slept in today— until 8:15 a.m.—which is both good (I needed the rest) and bad (I made plans to meet a work colleague and fellow cat lover at Easton Farmer’s Market at 10 a.m.

The cockatoo completely ate the rest of my cork board (see Cockatoo Mischief) while we visited our favorite familia yesterday (see Visit with La Familia).

And a mysterious feline decided to deposit a hair ball on the couch on the sun porch. So I tried my best to clean everything up and I took down the cork boards only to also remove great portions of the paint. The teenager assured me we have the paint to touch it up.

Somehow we made it downtown on time— and met our friends. The teenager spent her birthday money on a strawberry plant and some pickles and stuffed olives.

I bought her breakfast at Pie + Tart (apple turnover for her and mini strawberry rhubarb pie for me) and beverages from Fieldstone Coffee Roasters (mango black tea for her and bubble tea for me— which the server gave me a yellow straw to match my yellow pants).

After saying goodbye to our friends, we strolled the downtown so the teenager could visit The Loving Peace. They did not have any supplies she needs.

The teenager then directed my attention to The Carmelcorn Shop. She let me have anything I wanted!

In this video we review our haul from The Carmelcorn Shop. The biggest surprise was, as the clerk recommended, the tootsie roll balls were amazing. I don’t even like tootsie rolls! Review of Candy Haul

Life is certainly sweet!

Friday Fluidity

So, I emailed Chewy about the bird seed explosion in my package and they are mailing me a replacement. See today’s earlier entry for details. (Cockatoo Mischief)

The teenager and I had made special plans as she just turned 16 years old and she was excited to donate blood.

My pulse clocked in at 102, and the cut-off to donate is 100. So I was disqualified.

Then they couldn’t find a vein on the teenager.

We were both very disappointed.

And, as the final culinary stop of her birthday tour, she asked for KFC.

And then we went to Into the Myst in downtown Bethlehem, where the teenager stocked up on her incense and is seriously debating a silver pentacle pendant adorned with amethyst. I think it would be a good protection amulet for her.

Then for dinner we visited our favorite familia—and on the way to their house the teenager and I discussed our ideas about what happens after death.

Our favorite familia features my charming writer friend with her Judeo-Catholic French-Celtic California roots and her also charming Puerto Rican husband and their crazy animals and now 90% adult children who have grown into impressively beautiful adults with wicked intellects.

Over grilled chicken and various types of potatoes, diverse conversation on employment, dog training, travels, the NSA, Sartre, customizing shoes, Russian Blue Cats, Russia, philosophy… flowed effortlessly with sprinkles of laughter.

The teenager remarked that she always admires how we don’t catch up with them for years, but the energy always feels like we’re best friends.

And they have a big dog.

And then we had cake and coffee.