We were supposed to receive our Hello Fresh box on Tuesday, but it arrived Monday. Despite having an extra day to implement our meal plan, here it is Friday and we just got to preparing our second meal.
Teenager #1 wanted to do the majority of the cooking and utilize me in the helper role.
Today was garlic butter chicken with paprika roasted carrots and creamy kale.
Like I did, teenager #1 had a few foibles. I appreciated the roasted carrots as I am not a big carrot fan. Luckily the chicken cutlet was indeed a cutlet and did not disappoint me like the strips.
And it was delicious.
Our last meal for this week is the paprika chicken.
Hello Fresh advertises that they save you money on your grocery bill. But the full price of three dinners for four people is $89.99 plus $8.99 shipping. My entire monthly grocery bill is about $300 a month.
So we invest in Hello Fresh right now to find new recipes and renew our efforts in the kitchen and keep real food in the house while I am working all this overtime.
Inspired by my mother’s 8-tracks and records in the corner of the old farm house’s dining room, where the floor slanted down and where my dad once stored his motorcycle— the only non-Harley he ever had, a black Kawasaki.
Thanks to Spotify, I’ve listened to many albums that I used to borrow from my mother. At least half of these I think I know every word on the album. (1, 3, 5, 8)
We made the honey-ricotta crisps for breakfast yesterday. Here are the videos for that:Part one and Part two.
My only criticism is that what they call a “baguette” is what I call a roll. Maybe Italian but not French. Folks, if your baguette is soft on the outside it is not a true French style bread. It should be crispy outside and soft inside.
Today I started cooking. For real.
Before continuing, please note: my spirit animal is a cat. As a consequence, I don’t like being told what to do and I tend to be flexible with directions. If you’re a strict, play-by-the-book sort, you might have a stroke reading this.
Because we just make pork with rice and stir fry vegetables on Monday, I didn’t want rice. Two of my meals include rice. (Teenager #1 cooked the pork, teenager #2 said it was delicious. I am eating mine at work tonight.)
I decided to make the vegetarian curry, but swap the rice for the creamy kale from the Tuscan chicken dinner.
I ordered extra chicken, just to try some of their other products. Let me say, even as I make some criticisms, everything was delicious. And having a food service, retail background and commercial kitchen experience, I know some of the challenges Hello Fresh faces when combining food with a subscription service.
But this chicken is not “strips.” The package says strips, but it is chunks. And wow is whatever that packaging juice is slimy. Some of these chunks were too small to even cook. I fed them to the dog.
I made the chicken with everything else because I usually have breakfast at 1 and dinner at 7:30 so I wanted to make it a little heartier.
The curry included fresh lime, fresh cilantro, and an amazing full fat coconut milk. It included green beans and red pepper as the base of the meal which wouldn’t be my normal pick. Turns out it’s a great mix. And the recipe forced me to work with shallots. Have never done that.
I hate onions, but I know they cook down in a recipe like this.
The secret to the creamy kale was Tuscan heat spice and sour cream. Kale and sour cream go so well together… I wonder how it would be with herbs de Provence instead of Tuscan heat…
Finally, let me at that the meal is supposed to take 45 minutes, prep & cooking. Mine took more than an hour, in part because I didn’t stick to one meal but mixed and matched.
We still have two more meals and I did schedule a box for next week.
With mandatory overtime ongoing at work, it’s an easy way to make sure I eat real food.
As my followers may know, I have been working mandatory overtime in the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. I’ve been working 3:30 pm to 2 am— primarily in QC folding fixes but also in women’s inbound processing.
I have had two observations in QC by the supervisor that hired me. Both of them were 102% even though over the course of an entire shift I still haven’t achieved more than 93%.
The observations state that I take great pride in my work and I worked very hard to make my fixes aesthetically pleasing for the client.
Your folds are very neat and fit perfectly in the paper They are very visually pleasing and almost too perfect. You can tell you take pride in the presentation of your fixes and keep the client in mind while preparing the fix.
Anyway, my birthday was Thursday and my friend Joan brought me a carefully and randomly selected craft six pack of beer from Wegmans.
Atwater Brewery Java Vanilla Porter: This was the first beer I tried. I’m a big fan of chocolate beers— Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout is my all time favorite. So since I am also a huge van of most things vanilla. Well, maybe not everything. But a coffee vanilla beer sounded like a fun birthday beer.
It was too heavy. I couldn’t separate the flavor notes. It just felt “in my face.”
Tonight, with a slice of my new favorite coconut custard pie from Tic Toc Diner that one of teenager #1’s work colleague bought me in honor of my birthday, I opened the Sierra Nevada Wanderland Nectarine Ale.
As soon as I sipped it my tastebuds danced in perplexed wonder. It’s light and fruity but not nectarine-like, in my opinion. The teens helped me label the flavors as floral, and maybe they were right. Now I feel like I am floating in a rose bush.
My subscription was due to start in June, but as tomorrow is my birthday I thought it would be fun to request the May book. I ordered it Saturday night. It was scheduled to arrive Friday, May 7. My mandatory overtime at work began May 10, so this would be the perfect way to organize my mental health.
Except it arrived Monday, May 17.
Regardless of this, and what feels like a very hefty price tag for an aesthetically pleasing but, in my opinion, cheaply manufactured spiral bound book (it’s not cheap, but I struggle to find the right words— the paper is not thin, but it’s also not as heavy as I would expect for the price).
For instance, it’s flimsy. You can’t write on your lap. You have to have it on a hard surface. For $20 a month, the cover at least should be a cardboard consistency to ensure it will withstand travel and daily use.
The interior is lovely. Ninety percent contains elements I already do in my journal, financial book, and/or on my phone: sleep tracker, expense tracker, habit tracker, mood tracker, meal planner, to do list, etc.
There is a weather tracker, goal lists, coloring pages, thought/writing prompts, and poetry and inspirational quotes.
My journal should contain what I have done and my Silk & Sonder should foster my goals, I suppose.
I’m definitely going to experiment with May and then decide on a system for June, which the company has already shipped.
It’s been eight days since I last posted, in part because of the mandatory overtime at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I had some scheduling difficulties regarding the commitment and had scheduled 13 hours of OT this week and 5 next week to meet my minimum commitment of 16 hours. I was told last night that I had misunderstood the communication and we had to work 8 hours each week.
So now I will be working 10 hour days and 9 hour days for the upcoming week of my birthday.
My Silk & Sonder planner which was due to arrive May 7 is still not here with no update to the tracking information. I will probably receive the June volume before the May one. They warned this might happen, but I really really hoped to have it for my birthday. It seems like the right time.
I bought some new gel pens at the Grocery Outlet and it’s been fun experimenting with colors.
Working so much overtime reminds me of the simple pleasures in life—
When you’re working mandatory overtime, it’s okay to buy coffee out. Even better if you find good deals.
Teenager #1 ordered us food from Tic Toc Diner for after her shift and my shift. We had a picnic in the backyard.
I have missed having my nails done. Having them done (currently I have birthday unicorns) bring me joy.
There was a new season of Hoarders on Netflix. That show is mesmerizing and terrifying at the same time. I once went into a hoarded house. I have huge admiration for the people who work with those who suffer from hoarding disorder. That one experience was enough for me.
Teenager #1 introduced my blind friend Nan to Spotify. Hearing Nancy’s enthusiasm and seeing my daughter’s altruism really cheered me.
I had an observation at work where I scored 101%.
Fresca is a fun soda.
I ordered a new pair of jeans. Button fly. Because I love button fly. I hope they fit. I bought myself some things at Rainbeau and Stitch Fix and am slowly transitioning to a casual versus professional wardrobe.
Teenager #2 gave me socks for Mothers’ Day. And even hand-selected every design on them!
For those of you who follow the craziness of my menagerie and my exploits with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, today’s post will be a cat update. (Though I am frustrated to report that Nala the Naughty Goffin’s Cockatoo has resumed plucking and barbering her wings.)
The two remaining guys from the ten littlekittens litters did indeed survive distemper, more evidence now shows. So we are cut off for the month of May— no more cats until our quarantine period is over.
We got a magnificent message from Hermes’ new family:
“The same cat that was afraid of hands now licks my hand and loves when I scratch his face. He’s improved SO much. We’re so happy 😊.”
I expected this change would come but I thought it would take at least another month. He literally sits in the window and watches for his people to come home.
Louise the Tripod has also made huge strides. She eats out in the open and snuggles in my bed with me. She even lingered a bit on the “cat throne” (the ottoman by the window) when teenager #1 came in the room.
And finally, Touch of Grey. TOG is a very sweet cat but has triggers that will turn her violent. For instance, you can’t approach her with a blanket. You also can’t touch certain body parts. Once she feels threatened, she will not hesitate to follow and attack you. But so far, despite her mood swings, she has not drawn blood on anyone in my house.
Today my Silk & Sonder journal is scheduled for delivery. It’s a mindfulness journal subscription and knowing myself as I do, I will probably make it a stressful commitment instead of a mindful exercise. Oh! I literally see the mailman now.
He didn’t bring my package. This is when tracking information breeds disappointment.
A check to the USPS web site says it is now arriving late.
Yesterday I wore teenager #1’s “Cactus makes perfect” t-shirt, lacy ruffle socks and my glittery Doc Marten style boots to work. I like feeling playful.
I have been striving to hit my metrics in QC at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I consistently hit 80%, but for some reason when I bring a Bang energy drink to work I easily hit 90. Coffee, sugar and even being well-rested don’t do it. But this is the third time in my life I had a Bang (and the first time I tasted “magical unicorn” flavor — not a fan) and for the third time I hit a personal best.
My fixes averaged 3 to 3.1 minutes each, but we had a safety meeting so I was still only on track to make 110. And then I got this massive fix… at 11:30 pm.
But meanwhile at home, teenager #1 finally made my weird oatmeal cookies I wanted to use up the keto friendly trail mix my neighbor didn’t like. Amazing.
She also packed me a wonderful tilapia dinner.
Mandatory overtime starts on Monday. We’ll be working at least 48 hours per week— from Mothers’ Day through my birthday.
If you have pets, you know how vital a good vet can be. Early in my adult life, I had a series of vets I liked at Wright’s Veterinary Medical Center in Bethlehem Township (Pa.) but one by one they all left the practice.
The practice, as I understand it from my Pennsylvania Dutch mother-in-law, started with an old no-nonsense farm vet. His son continued the family tradition and stayed in the practice. From the get-go, I never liked the bedside manner of the younger Dr. Wright but they always had specialists— doctors who handled reptiles or birds, for example—and I always managed to find the “vet who loved cats.”
And truth be told they saved the life of our “Big Boy” Oz when he couldn’t pass urinary crystals circa 2014 and I couldn’t afford the $1,000 proposed treatment. I had agreed to have my daughter’s 3-year-old cat put down and they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse— 75% off an even more expensive procedure (removing his penis and widening the opening for his urethra) so he could pass stones easier. A young vet would do the procedure (for the first time) under the watchful eye of an experienced vet. So I did it, and Oz is still with us today.
But when my Opie got cancer, it took me weeks to get it diagnosed because the vet I used to go to had left the practice, I didn’t have a new one yet and Opie couldn’t walk and was intense pain so I took the first available appointment.
And that vet gave Opie antibiotics and said to come back if it got worse. It got worse. He then wanted to charge me several hundred dollars to knock Opie out so they could take an X-ray. A nurse alerted me that that vet didn’t like cats and said I needed an appointment with another vet in the practice.
She took the x-ray with him conscious and diagnosed suspected rare bone cancer via that x-ray.
She was right.
And then she told us to go elsewhere for the surgery because that particular practice was too overpriced.
My daughter contacted No Kill Lehigh Valley, a local nonprofit who specializes in helping people with seriously ill pets. They asked us how much money we had and found a vet who could do the surgery (and it turned out more) for that price. But they were more than an hour away in Tamaqua so we couldn’t keep going there.
And now we are involved with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. Many local vets, animal shelters and other rescue groups work with each other to benefit domestic animals and their owners in the Lehigh Valley.
When the Norse Pride had ringworm, we took them to Canyon River Veterinary Clinic in the Phillipsburg (N.J.) area.
I wanted to support a local vet who also supported the rescue efforts of FURR. So we gave them a try, having them update Opie’s shots and look at a mass on his neck.
Every staff member was not only pleasant but personable, and they all seemed interested in relationship building— not just in-and-out money making vet care.
Today, Opie had his mass removed. The vet at Canyon River was confident his mass was just a dermal growth and we removed it so it wouldn’t pop and cause problems. I declined pre-anesthesia bloodwork, because with Opie’s history, I don’t want to worry about what else he may have. (I know that might not make sense.)
I also told them to send out the mass for the $160 biopsy only if it looked suspicious upon removal. They did not.
We also brought Bean for her first puppy exam and shots and got her microchipped, opted for the cream for the cyst on her lip, and decided to get the optional Lyme vaccine.
AND Fog & Misty went in to get the rest of their shots (it’s looking more and more definitive that Parker, Extra Crunchy and their litter mates did have distemper) and their microchips. And Misty needs to lose weight.
All of these animals. All of these, shots, exams and services and my bill was $848. I thought that amazing.
And Amanda and I swapped cockatoo stories for a good ten minutes.
I felt respected, heard, and empowered to make good decisions for my pets.