Sunday morning babbling

Nala is chattering away on my chest as I recline in bed with a cup of coffee at 7:30 a.m. The wind howls and rain patters sporadically. It’s freakishly warm for an East Coast winter morning. The budgies fly and play freely as Saturday and Sunday are free bird days.

We got up at 6:30. Nala once again plucked a feather and squealed when I didn’t come get her as soon as I woke. I don’t know if it’s out of fear, hearing a rustle in the dark and not knowing if it is me, a cat or an unknown predator or if she’s a brat and wants my immediate attention.

Life with birds. Speaking of life with birds, I notice that people with larger birds often have a bird room and bedtime rituals so the birds can sleep undisturbed. I wonder if I will eventually move Nala so she can get her rest undisturbed. I need to start putting her to bed around 6:30 since I’m an early riser. My evening routines need to change.

This morning, I had planned on opening Nala’s cage and going down to make coffee and feed the cats. Nala jumped on my hand and decided to come for the ride. I didn’t even offer.

But she’s a moody little Goffin and refused to do anything but sit on my shoulder and bite at me if I tried to move her. (I was offering her her morning tea which she wanted, but she wanted to drink it from my shoulder. I tried to ignore her, and leave her on my shoulder but then she would fly off my shoulder and stand in front of the cat. Luckily, she did this with Oz who has no idea what she is and merely sees her as something over which he displays jealousy versus Opie who clearly sees her as dinner.)

I was trying to be patient but then she starting picking apart the shoulder seam of one of my favorite work-appropriate dresses so I put her back in her cage. She didn’t like that. I have tiny bloody beak nips on my fingers now, but once she saw I was putting her in her cage she settled.

Five minutes later I came back to my room with my coffee and fresh romaine and fruit for everyone. I opened Nala’s cage door, put her fruit in, and let her hang out on her cage while I gave the budgies their romaine.

Then she rejoined me. Much less moody now. And she said two more phrases this morning. One almost sounded like a greeting and another that seemed like “hi, Nala.” She said it when I slipped out of the room to use the bathroom. If my attempt at reading the context is correct, it seemed like she was requesting to come with me.

Nala met some new people yesterday. She met my neighbor, mother of the Maltese/Yorky mix who visits here and spends her vacations with me. Nala didn’t know what to make of such a strange dog but she did like my neighbor’s very pretty nails and jewelry. I hope Nala learns to trust my neighbor as she is one potential caretaker should Nala need a sitter.

Then Nala met my dad and stepmom. Nala jumped right on my dad’s shoulder. Immediate connection. She refused to come down. My stepmom reached out and asked Nala to step up but Nala wasn’t interested. My stepmom had a cockatoo thirty years ago so I wondered how she would react to them. I have never seen an animal or a person not take to my dad.

I also bought Nala a new toy and treats. She liked neither.

On a personal level, I did a five-minute workout yesterday three sets of 10, shoulder press, with a 15-pound dumbbell on each arm. I’m still lazy but at least I did something.

My weight though is up three pounds but I know that is because my only meal was at Applebee’s. I invited my dad and his wife to join the teenager and I at Applebee’s because I received this email:

I love food. I love real food. I love fancy food. I love plain food. But I also love junk food. And for some reason I kept dreaming of boneless wings all week. And the teenager loves shrimp.

And while Applebee’s is not fine dining… I wanted company and I hadn’t seen my dad since Christmas. We all got the all-you-can-eat. Here’s the part I didn’t know; it’s mix-and-match. So you can get either boneless wings OR double crunch shrimp OR riblets AND get a different one every time.

I ate two plates of wings. So there’s soooooooooooo much sodium in my body right now.

I’ve spent an hour drafting this. I need to sort out laundry, wash the floors and hopefully get to the gym today. I did some grocery shopping last night. Spent $40 at the Grocery Outlet and hope to do my meal plan for this week.

It’s going to be another stressful one.

O Tannenbaum

It’s a few days overdue but I finally have a moment to share our adventures with getting a tree.

I wish I could remember how it came up at home but I realized we’d never had a real tree at home in my adult life.

I also realized I had a teenager very adept with a saw.

So why not? Why not get a real tree?

The teenager thought it was a fabulous idea.

And then my friend Gayle suggested we somehow tie the tree to the roof of my 2015 Jetta. Now my Jetta May be a used car, but she’s my baby and I’ve had her less than 13 months.

I am not shoving a tree in her.

But my dad came through and on a rainy 50-degree December day we headed to the tree farm. I believe it was AJ’s Landscaping.

My daughter and my stepmom perused the samples.

They opted for a Frasier Fir and into the field we went. In the rain.

We find what seems to be the perfect size, width, height, shape for us and the teenager asks, “how do I cut it?”

“You get down on the ground and cut,” I tell her.

Cutting it Down

She does a magnificent job. We pay the cashier $37.10 for this 5′ tree.

And they bail it. This excites her.

The Joy of Bailing

We take it home. And set it up… part 2 to come.

Coming Home

Not only was it Monday.

But a Monday after a holiday.

During a winter storm.

And I don’t have proper winter shoes.

I’m in a new position at work, one I’ve held for three months, in an area where I have no experience. I’m trying to learn everything I can, but sometimes, or most of the time, I’m at a rodeo holding onto the bull and sometimes I’m getting my teeth knocked out.

I came home today with a pile of file folders in case the weather gets worse.

My teen daughter had painted more of the living room, did a bunch of chores of the variety I know she doesn’t like, and then, knowing my spirits were crushed, she made me dinner.

And asked her father to bring me a bottle of whiskey.

We had Pillsbury cinnamon buns and Jim Beam Honey for dessert.

I felt like it was 1952 and I was coming home from my fancy career. My daughter was my cute little 1950s housewife pouring me a drink.

Of course if I were keeping up with the analogy, we’d need two kids, a picket fence and a dog.

If you know my daughter, you know the thing she wants most in the world is a dog.

She’s so close and yet so far.

Fire Up the Ninja

While I was recovering from my minor winter ailment, somehow I stumbled upon Gaz Oakley, the Avant Garde Vegan on YouTube. I’m not even sure how or why, but something mesmerized me.

I spent eight years as a vegetarian before my daughter was born and went vegan for six months back in my twenties. I never was a big fan of meat and I hated touching it. I also disapproved of factory farming practices and the use of hormones and antibiotics in our meat. Basically, I never had a problem with eating meat, but I did have a problem with the big business of food production and the amount of processed foods and chemicals in the standard American diet.

When my daughter was young, I made 90% of her baby food, most of our bread products and bought a lot of our food from local farms. Not the Farmer’s Market but the actual farms. I also gardened and preserved our food in the almost-lost art of canning.

As life got busier, I lost some of my good food habits. And I burned out a few food processors making homemade nut butters, blending dates for use in snacks and grinding my own flours. Oh and I made ridiculous amounts of hummus.

Something about Gaz and the way his cooking style incorporated the types of foods I like had me hooked. It was his high protein meal prep that truly mesmerized me and made me want to eat it all. I needed to cook again. Really cook.

And he did the things I used to do when I destroyed my blender.

So what did HE use?

A Ninja.

I read all the comments on his videos about the blender system and its comparison to a Vitamix. Now frankly, I don’t want a Vitamix. It’s a blender. I have a nice Black and Decker blender with a glass pitcher that suits me. I need a food processor.

Then I saw it at Target. The Ninja Professional. $199.

I wanted it so bad. So I made a Facebook comment. Suddenly, my family is offering to buy me a Ninja.

I had no choice.

I bought a Ninja. And started cooking again.

I have cooked for four days straight. My husband teases that I can’t make a meal without firing up the Ninja.

I am in love.

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Gaz’s Sriracha Meatballs and my spinach yogurt sauce

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Gaz’s Sriracha Meatball Mix

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Salad in the Ninja

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Breakfast smoothie

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Gaz’s Falafel, Hummus & Flatbreads

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Hummus Mix

Coffee and St. Basil’s

It is so wet in Moscow today.

We have been drenched to the bone several times already. Sigh.

So after our morning adventure, we decided on a cup of coffee and found a delightful shop with good looking pastry and the word that we recognized as Russian for coffee.

We speak a total of five words of Russian yet someone managed to order coffee and juice and cookies and a delicious poppyseed loaf. And a chocolate muffin cupcake thing.

After that it was more struggling with the rain… And dear daughter losing the hotel room key and the 500 rubles spending money I gave her.

IMG_3968Of course, I took a picture of her in the Moscow streets with her inside out umbrella.

And St. Basil’s was delightful. Gorgeous architecture. Art students drawing in the halls. Ancient coins and tools. Great music. Various examples of metal work and religious art.

 

 

Gettysburg Road Trip

I work retail. This means I rarely get predictable patterns in my schedule, several days off in a row or a regular weekend off with my family. My husband works at a local college. He never has an easy time with vacations in the summer or January because there’s always a new semester around the corner.

My daughter has reached her preteen years and we only have a certain amount of time before she won’t want to spend time with her parents.

After our very successfully trip to Barnegat solo Monday, I thought a family road trip could be a great way to spend this weekend as it may be the only weekend left in the summer where no one in the family has commitments.

We ended up in Gettysburg, using TripAdvisor to book our hotel at more or less the last minute.

The drive went smoothly. We arrived at the Gettysburg YWCA around 1 pm and (after using the restroom) retrieved the directions for the local Volkssport walks. Gettysburg has 3. We took directions for all three. Even signed up for one of the award patches since daughter has decided she would like to collect them.

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We immediately embarked upon Walk 1. We knew we needed to find lunch. We walked to the armory, through a residential neighborhood and into town. Gettysburg was having a town wide yard sale today so that made the initial walk very colorful.

My friend Gayle had recommended eating at the blue building in the center of town. We departed from the 5k directions to view our dining options (especially since “the blue building” had a twenty minute wait at 2 in the afternoon). We had narrowed it down to Eddie’s Texas Lunch or Thai. The family agreed on Thai, Thai Classic IV to be precise.

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Very tasty food. Child had cashew chicken. I had panang curry. Darrell had something with noodles and broccoli. And very delicious shrimp cakes and dumplings to share.

We also picked through the merchandise at the army goods store. We followed a military convoy on the way down and enjoyed seeing the various trucks and equipment in various camo patterns. At one point, child said, “there are a lot of hot guys in those trucks.”

Yup. That’s my girl.

By the end of our meal, child was very anxious to see the hotel. She’d only every stayed in a hotel once before with her girl scout troop. So, armed with cupcakes from Jimmy Cuomo’s we finished our first 5k of the weekend.

My husband and I decided to share our cupcakes, one caramel latte and one Boston creme pie. Similar to the people walking around in Civil War costume, we had our own reenactment. We repeated a scene from our wedding. But I look so much more “badass” now.

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My daughter can’t believe the luxury here at our two-star America’s Best Value Inn. A hairdryer. A bathtub. A closet. Extra pillows. An ice machine. A pool. She thinks this is the best place ever.

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As soon as I can extract her from the pool, we have a candlelight ghost tour scheduled for tonight.