Feeling the love

The work stress hit me hard this morning so I did something I don’t normally do— I admitted that I needed some emotional support on Facebook.

It is my birthday after all.

At least four of my former bosses sent words of encouragement and one brought some edible arrangements fruit to my house.

Several neighbors sent well-wishes, one of whom got me not one but TWO drinks from Dunkin’. Which, now that I have had three of the matcha lattes, I have decided that Dunkin doesn’t make their matcha strong and chunky the way I like it.

One colleague FaceTimed with me on a coffee break and most of them sent email greetings as Mr. Accordion had no doubt alerted them to my advancing years. Or levels.

The teenager and her father are off to pick up the popcorn fundraiser. Her father offered to bring me dinner.

I will be finishing my G journal if not tonight then tomorrow— and I believe a fresh journal means a new chapter.

For more on my birthday adventures:

Kicking off my birthday

Pre-Birthday Magic

Pre-Birthday Magic

Many years ago I bought a silk slip on clearance in a beautiful teal blue color that matches my current bedroom. Because it’s a full slip, and such a strange and rich color, I never found a dress I could wear with it.

Last night I decided to wear it as a nightgown. I felt so fancy.

I was so cozy in my silk slip I didn’t want to get dressed. I thought a good way to compromise would be to wear a dress. And I got a new dress from The Attic that I haven’t worn.

I did my make-up and everything.

Now to make things more interesting I managed to convince my dad that we should have a socially-distanced picnic to celebrate my birthday and my step-mom’s birthday which are both tomorrow. I really want to cook these on the grill, and I don’t have any charcoal for mine.

And I had to order these. They sound so good! And when I ordered them from Tucker Silk Mill, I ordered fresh dill, fresh ginger, fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, golden beets, cauliflower, and purple peppercorns. The Vietnamese purple peppercorns were a birthday splurge.

And I never had golden beets, but I don’t really note any difference between those and regular beets.

I hung a load of wash outside and noticed so many lily of the valleys. At the front of the house my roses are finally blooming. I can’t wait to bring bouquets into the house.

At work today we still didn’t come to any agreement on when I can take my vacation.

I was working on my laptop on the sun porch when two women starting taking photos of my flowers. I heard them comment how beautiful my roses and irises are. I said thank you and started them as they hadn’t seen me.

They had been worried someone would yell at them for being in my yard. I laughed. No, I said, you are welcome. They took photos!

The teenager arrived home with the lemon cardamom cake she baked at my request for my birthday.

Recipe from Spice TrainLemon cardamom cake (click photo for recipe) On my 30-minute lunch break, the teenager and I ran down to Tucker to get my impulse buy of vegetables and then headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for my free birthday coffee which they completely screwed up. The teenager got some more of her special Dunkin stones from the side of the drive through.

(For more on the teenager’s fascination with the magical uses of these particular stones… it started here: Thank You Tucker Provisions with our last visit to Tucker. Apparently each time we go to Tucker, I let my daughter pick up random rocks at Dunkin.)

But she has always valued the power in rocks.

And honestly, I’m glad they screwed up my coffee and gave me a smaller weaker drink because I submitted four grants to my executive director today so my nerves were shot. I had just enough time to bring these goodies into the house before I had to clock back in!
My provisions from Tucker

The kittens and big old Oz gathered around me while I worked. My mother-in-law gave me a birthday card with money in it and my dad sent a really cute cupcake card with a check.

Then the teenager and I walked down to CVS to get my prescription and my neighbor who owns Sobaka, the Maltese yorkie mix, joined us. This gave the teenager a chance to try the new dog training clicker I bought her from Petco.

And I got my free nail polish from CVS for my birthday.

I came home and roasted vegetables, are cake and watched Star Trek The Next Generation with my daughter.

The postman never brought laundry yesterday

Please friends— promise me you will embrace the silliness. The restrictions of pandemic life can be hard, but they also can free you to enjoy those small moments you may be too busy to see in “normal”life.

Though either my iron is dropping (don’t worry, I took my supplement) or I am losing my mind because I told the teenager that the postman didn’t bring any laundry.

I hope that made you smile.

On Monday night, the teen and I went to the Grocery Outlet to do our first shopping in two weeks. We found these fish nuggets and we prepared them with cheesy cauliflower rice for a hot lunch.

Fun Fish Nuggets

On children’s plates.

Mine is in French.

Today I embraced the sun, opened the sun roof and took the teenager to Dunkin’ for “free donut Friday” and hash browns. Except I forgot the donut. And the hash browns. So we went through the drive through twice. This is becoming a habit. (See Nothing Just Happens: Pandemic Shenanigans .)

Me and my stufferReview (video on YouTube)

We ended up with one chicken bacon croissant stuffer (which we both liked), one donut, two orders of hash browns, one small raspberry cold brew, one medium butter pecan cold brew.

And the teen loved her first cold brew.

Friday morning musings

Once I finish this, I will be logging into work. I don’t expect it to be an easy day, but I expect it to be decent. And it’s Friday. I have a meeting tonight with… let’s just say a freelance “client” about some editing I am doing on a key project. A good project. A project that could have a positive impact on my community.

I know my posts lately have been lists and animal updates. I’ve been musing a lot about what parts of life really bring personal contentment— and how that has to mesh with corporate America’s expectation that we are the worker bees. We are judged by our productivity, which is defined not by the benefit to the greater good but as money pocketed by those fortunate enough to stand among the elite.

Coupled with these thoughts of critical theory against the capitalistic machine, I find myself musing over pleasure versus good and its contribution to wellness. Let me explain, if I can.

Yesterday, I had some work stress that I had anticipated. So I ordered a pizza to provide some feel-good endorphins to keep my focus away from the computer screen and the universe that exists there now. I had dressed for the office, thinking that would give me confidence in this stressful time.

Dressing up at the home office

It worked— but I was so cold I soon had to change.

By the end of the day, ALL of the food choices I had made had no real nutritional value.

  • Breakfast: coffee and chocolate chip muffin
  • Lunch: half a Little Caesars Pepperoni Cheeser Cheeser and Coke Zero
  • Dinner: regular size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a Yuengling
Yes, I’m wearing footy pajamas in May

And now my weight is up. I’m about five pounds above my ideal weight now. But I look in the mirror and I see me. I don’t see five extra pounds.

They don’t lessen who I am.

But if I allow the cycle to continue, the pattern will negatively impact my health. So I need to chose.

Meanwhile today is warmer, but cloudy. I put on one of my favorite summer dresses and a cute cropped quasi-sweatshirt. I finished up the half and half so no more hot coffee. It’s free donut Friday at Dunkin if I leave the house. And the teenager has a fundraiser due today.

We need to clean this weekend, and the kittens gutted my one shelf in my closet (but they are so cute and give good cuddles so all is forgiven).

Maybe I have given you something to ponder. Happy Friday.

Nothing Just Happens

My daughter and I have developed a fascination with The Attic Clothes in Bethlehem as they have been hosting online sales on Instagram and Facebook.

We’ve been supporting small local business and indulging in one of the great teen girl sports of all time— consignment store shopping.

I’m going to switch up the chronology of this piece since right now the teenager, my blind friend, Nan, and I are among several other cars in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot.

Troublemakers

This experience can be summed up as— as my daughter put it— Nothing Just Happens.

So, Nan, being blind and a little strange, decided to wear her mask over her eyes.

We invited her along to pick up our consignment items. We stopped at the teenager’s grandmother’s to drop off a stepladder we borrowed. And her grandfather bought her the new Cats movie on DVD, like seeing it three times in the theatre wasn’t enough.

We had promised to take Nan for a car ride and stop at Dunkin for coffee and snackin’ bacon. And we all shared a matcha since Nan had never had any.

It was starting to look like the perfect day for the teen.

Until she discovered I messed up her coffee and she didn’t like it. So we went through the drive through a second time. This time we were going to order Munchkins too!

The teen wanted the 50 count bucket that looked like it came out of Kentucky Fried Chicken. But since we’re all gaining weight— the only way we were getting 50 munchkins is if Nan were taking 45 of them home to share with all her neighbors.

But they said they were out of munchkins. And they were paid for. So I told the poor guy to throw anything in the bag. He asked if I would accept a donut or two. I said sure. I think he was uneasy that I made him choose but he gave us a chocolate cake donut, which Nan and I split, and a chocolate iced donut with sprinkles which we gave to the teen.

That and her blue raspberry coolatta will have her high as a kite by the time we get home.

We were cleaning the garage earlier and removed about 150 gallons of garbage— she’ll have the energy to go home and finish the job, hoisting furniture over her head like a she-hulk.

So while the teen is trying on clothes in the backseat (skills learned in marching band), quasi-modeling her purchases, there are people wondering what the hell is up with us.

And Nan says it makes me look like the normal one.

Now that is scary.

Dunkin’s new matcha latte

I finally tried the new Dunkin’ Matcha Latte.

I have been waiting since the day it debuted but I’ve been waiting for the right combination of circumstances— for a true moment of desire and need for comfort and, perhaps more importantly, enough points to earn a free drink.

I prefer my matcha iced, because hot it dissolved into the milk and the flavor is too mellow.

And an iced matcha latte is a few scoops of matcha powder in milk with some ice.

And I don’t pay $5 for flavored milk.

Just like I don’t buy $5 cups of coffee.

Today I stopped for a large iced matcha latte at my neighborhood Dunkin, the one we always prefer because they are usually empty so they have a better selection of donuts, but they are empty because even with “order on the go” where you type your exact order, they get the drink wrong.

So I order on the go on the way back to the office from CVS, thinking I’ll use the drink to take my new medicine.

Large iced matcha latte, less ice, skim milk, no whipped cream.

Easy, right?

Apparently not.

When I arrived, they haven’t pulled the slip from the machine. Three employees banter over “who wants to make this.” I’m thinking: step 1, ice. Step 2, powder. Step 3, milk. Give it a swish, swish and done.

One girl obviously loses and must prepare my drink. She starts with a medium cup. I look to confirm that my name is on the cup. It is, but she’s already put the matcha in. So I ask:

Are the sizes for matcha different than coffee? Because that looks like a medium.

Me

It takes two of them to review the sticker, confirm I got a large, and the original person grabs a large cup and starts over.

As I’m thinking it, the other employee beside her points out that she could have poured the old drink into the larger cup and added more matcha and milk.

But now we have a medium iced matcha latte and a large half filled cup of ice and milk.

So the employee gets another large cup, and pours the medium drink into it and adds matcha.

The other employee reminds her to stir it well and I tell her it’s not necessary for me because I like the matcha sludge.

At which point, a supervisor chastises her for doing it wrong.

He insists that he will do it and he starts another one in the blender. I beg the girl to let me have the lumpy one.

The supervisor looks at me like I’m nuts.

Please, I plead, I appreciate your effort to make it nice and smooth but I like the lumps. I don’t like it in the blender.

I got my lumpy latte.

And do you know what—

It tasted just like the Starbucks Matcha!

My delicious lumpy matcha latte

These are a few of my favorite teas

(You have to ‘hear’ that as a line from The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things.)

I started this post at 5 p.m. as I drank a 21-ounce mug of 2-parts Simply Balanced* Unwind Tea and 1-part Traditional Medicinals Nettle tea.

It’s 8 p.m. and I’m trying again.

Some favorite teas

When I was in Djibouti the first time, I ordered a cup of tea. The waitress said, “Le Lipton?” and I thought, “Really, I’ve flown half way around the world to the Horn of Africa and the best you can do is Lipton?”

If you have no idea where Djibouti is and want to learn more about my African travels, this is a good start: Sunday in Djibouti

So I thought I might tell you about some of my favorite teas. First off, know I do not add milk, sugar or honey to my tea. Black. I don’t even enjoy sweetened iced tea.

When we were on our road trip to Georgia, we stopped at Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina where I got some first flush. So good! I make it in the French press. That has a robust kick.

Staples in my home include some form of strong black tea. Currently my favorite is Tazo vanilla macaroon. I have a box of Tazo organic earl grey in my desk at work. I keep chai on hand for my friend Nancy and the teenager. The Tazo Caramel Vanilla Chai is my favorite, but the Bigelow Vanilla Chai is almost as good but much cheaper.

I love, love, love herbal teas. But I hate chamomile. Yogi has a lavender honey stress relief tea that is a favorite. Tazo has a juniper mint honey that might be my new afternoon go to.

Simply Balanced Voice Tamer is a great one for when you want something that is fairly strong but decaffeinated. It is actually a rooibos tea, which, according to our friends at the Charleston Tea Plantation isn’t a tea at all but a random plant from South Africa.

If you want to read my post about South Carolina, check this out: Memories of South Carolina

The teenager likes orange tea, Tazo Sweet Orange. I don’t do fruity tea often, and when I do I prefer Simply Balanced Raspberry Hibiscus. Tazo’s Glazed Lemon Loaf is a delightful treat.

Nettle tea is supposed to be high in iron, but the Traditional Medicinals one does not discuss that on the box so I wonder if they process it out. Good to fight anemia.

And lastly, I want to touch on matcha. I got into matcha before it was cool. Before it hit the Starbucks menu. I love Starbucks iced matcha latte with skim milk, but I won’t pay their prices. I also discovered why theirs tastes so good. They sweeten the matcha blend.

I really like the Tazo Matcha Mate Grapefruit. It has just the right amount of puckery, clean grapefruit flavor to make it an awesome breakfast tea.

But I’m not conniving to taste Dunkin Donuts new matcha.

But for bedtime, nothing relaxes the body like a strong glass of Traditional Medicinal Nighty Night Valerian.

And to store my teas, I use pencil trays from the dollar store: one for herbal, one for caffeinated, and one for medicinal.

* Target has recently rebranded what was their Simply Balanced line as Good & Gather. Some of these teas may have been relaunched in the new line, but some may have been discontinued.