Matcha Quark

So when I still worked retail, and walked more than 10,000 steps a day and put away about 1,000 pounds of frozen food in addition to other physical stuff, I ate a big breakfast. Eggs, avocado, toast, fruit, vegetables.

For that decade, I worked hard and often didn’t know when I’d have time to eat. Big meals were a must.

But now I’m sedentary (and losing my will to go to the gym) and I’m just not as hungry. And I’m back to my bad habit of not having a proper breakfast.

Luckily, there are a lot of hearty yogurts out there and protein granola bars for a particularly rough start. Trouble is, I bore of food easily.

So when I see a new intriguing, protein-dense breakfast product I try it.

And the Grocery Outlet allows our household to try such things very inexpensively. That’s how I ended up with vanilla Farmer’s Cheese. Now, that was gross. But if I were hungry enough, I could have eaten it.

I also ate it a few days past the expiration but from what I knew about Farmer’s Cheese it is a cross between yogurt and cottage cheese so doesn’t that mean it’s already rotten? It certain had that exact texture.

Next I saw Quark.

Now, it was grass-fed Matcha Quark.

I have no idea what Quark is.

To me, Quark is the software I learned graphic design on nearly 25 years ago.

But I’ve loved matcha since before it was trendy.

Today I saw I had left it in the work fridge. This was good.

It stirred like yogurt, but pulled out of the cup like soft serve. No butter, acidic tang like yogurt. No bits or weird texture like the Farmer’s Cheese.

Organic Black Bean Pasta

It’s certainly not pretty, but it tastes better than it looks. It looks like a pile of slip.

I bought this gluten free black bean spaghetti at Marshall’s. I don’t usually shop there as my soon to be ex-husband worked at Marshall’s and I didn’t approve of their practices as employers or their merchandise.

But I am always looking for trendy forms of protein.

I got inspired (I blame too many episodes of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares) to make Asian-inspired glazed chicken meatballs with pineapple and the black bean pasta with a cheater method peanut sauce.

The sauce is an easy 30-minute meal starter, and vegan. See the recipe on my old cooking blog where I chronicled every meal for about seven years: Peanut Butter (Thai) Noodles

The chicken meatballs turned to mush in the pan. It’s my own fault as some of the ground chicken was still frozen. I don’t know why I thought I could work around that.

Flavor was fine, but texture was like scrambled eggs.

As for the pasta, I liked it. The teenager didn’t like the texture of it, but I did. If anything I would call it a tad sticky. The teen referred to it as gummy.

Turkeys and Trophies

The title and format of this post is homage to our local daily newspaper, The Express-Times, and their weekly column on the op-ed pages celebrating the best and the worst of the community that week.

Trophies

    I did three workouts this week.
    I packed several smart lunches.
    I went to the grocery store.
    My daughter and I worked well together trying to keep the house clean.
    I started the week eating fresh fruit. (I’m not a fan of much fruit.)

Turkeys

    I wanted to attend the book club last night at our local independent bookstore, Book and Puppet Company, but I didn’t read the book. And it was Zazie in the Metro so I really intended to join the group.
    Those workouts were five to ten minutes each.
    I ordered Dominoes twice and ate a ridiculous amount of pizza and two doughnuts.
    The fruit is languishing in the fridge.
    I watched way too many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares.

It must be January

The gym is really crowded.

The teenager asked to go to the gym and I didn’t want to go but I went. All I did was 10 minutes on the bike. But I came and that is something.

That’s enough for me right now.

As a parent, I told the teenager I would never say no if she wanted to drag me to the gym.

My yellow budgie, Peek-a-Boo (whom we nicknamed Boo-Boo), had an episode of night fright last night and woke me up at 4:30. I had gone to bed shortly after nine, so I had trouble falling back to sleep.

I ended up doing some writing for work. When the house is still and your mind is fresh, it’s amazing how easily ideas flow. Even if it is 5 a.m.

I packed my yogurt, fruit and granola parfait for lunch, substituting some chocolate Fontina brand Christmas cookies for breakfast. Lunch didn’t happen until 1:45 so that didn’t help my fatigue.

NALA

But I got some amusing text messages when my daughter got home from school. I had set Nala up with her new toys, fresh fruit and romaine and Hulu set to hours of Sesame Street.

My daughter went to check on her, which says a lot about how far their bond has come as a week ago my teenager was afraid of Nala and vice versa.

Today I got a text that the teenager planned on offering Nala tea. This photo followed:

And it looks like Nala did not pluck today. Now Nala was also glad to see me when I got home, though we had a disagreement about where Nala was going to sit while I ate dinner.

I think Nala thought my plate was her plate. So I ended up with a pretty pointed beak stab in the middle of my middle finger.

DINNER

The teenager says she’d like to lean toward vegetarianism. So we’ve reduced the amount of meat we buy.

Last night’s dinner was homemade mozzarella that my neighbor received as a Christmas gift, spinach, a Pillsbury flaky buttermilk biscuit, two poached eggs and imitation bacon bits.

Tonight’s dinner was “Greek Night.” I made that up. It’s a mess of stuff from the cupboards. But it doesn’t qualify as vegetarian, only pescatarian.

I made a green salad of chopped romaine lettuce, two kinds of olives, the mozzarella again, and avocado. I added two prepared Greek Salads from Lidl: one a giant white bean salad and the second a tomato-based lentil salad. I also served “calamari fries” from Lidl, which are basically thick chunks of potato somehow mixed with calamari.

The teenager had her salad with light ranch dressing. I had mine with a Whole 30 approved balsamic vinaigrette. I made a salad for lunch tomorrow (but didn’t include the calamari). That’s the featured photo for this entry.

Well, now for the amazing part of this entry.

BEDTIME

Last night I tried to put Nala to bed at 6:30 and sit downstairs so she could sleep. Just like a baby, she screamed for Mommy. I returned to my room, and watched TV on my iPad in the dark just load enough so she knew I was here.

Tonight I put her to bed at 6:30, left my pink night light on, covered her and went to the gym.

When I came back an hour later, she didn’t even rustle. I’m tiptoeing around my room as not to wake her.

Goodnight, Nala.

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.

Christmas Eve 2019

I started my Christmas Eve morning trying to make the house presentable for my mother’s Christmas visit, but I also treasured the silence and stillness of the house.

The teen got up early and finished her advent calendar…

The final window

My mom came down around 10, and the teen and I had made Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and some fancy break-and-bake cookies.

We exchanged presents and my mom left after about 45 minutes and took the teen to her father’s apartment. Apparently, he had intended to have my mom over for a tour and despite the fact that we’ve been separated six months she still hasn’t visited.

My day was pretty quiet. I did some laundry and loaded the dishwasher and tried to unclog the bathtub drain. At 2 pm, I realized I hadn’t really eaten so I ordered Dominoes.

I hung out with my three budgies (they do love to fly around my head) and watched two episodes of Jonathan Maberry’s graphic novel, now a series on Netflix: V Wars. I took a writing workshop with Jonathan more than a decade ago when he had just published his first (maybe two) novel(s).

The teenager just read my signed copy of Ghost Road Blues for her independent reading in English. She didn’t enjoy it. She then purchased his later book, Rot and Ruin, and devoured the whole tome in two days.

VWars definitely held my interest for the episodes I watched but I think I need to turn to something more uplifting for holiday viewing.

The teenager is with her dad and paternal grandparents.

She should be home soon. She wore her new dogs and cats in Christmas hats sweatshirt, complete with blinking lights. We opened that gift on Saturday when my friend and very talented nail tech Beth came over to see my tree and have some wine and cookies.

The teen’s ugly Christmas sweater

Holidays often bring a lot of anxiety for me, and this year has had its moments. But sometimes you just have to remember to be kind to yourself and do what seems right for you and your family.

To stop and view the moon

Life is seldom perfect.

But tonight, stuck in traffic, eating too much of a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips, I had a near perfect moment.

The clouded over full moon turned the wintery night sky gold. For a moment, amid my sea of break lights, I basked in peace.

And then I got home and a cat had puked on the new couch.

But let me start at the beginning…

Two more weeks before the holidays. By January first, I have two grants due, one report due, a third grant and a second report that I would prefer done. I got the annual appeal to the printer yesterday, two or three weeks late depending on your perspective (but WOW did I learn so much about our FundEZ donor and accounting database. Now I have to review the volunteer graphic designer’s sketches for the annual report.

I have more than 20 years experience in communications, and a whole lot of confidence and creativity, but this nonprofit development stuff is a roller coaster! I love it, especially since I adore the agency’s mission and my coworkers but it’s been a few months of trail by fire.

So that was work.

I laugh a lot at work, or at least I try. Sometimes we all get a little too tense and afraid of making mistakes.

As the type of person who has no issue asking forgiveness instead of permission, I don’t have trouble admitting I did something wrong.

I tell my colleagues, don’t worry I don’t throw people under the bus.

I step right out in front of it.

After work I came home and took my daughter for sandwiches before I drove her to her interior design class at the local community college.

Park Avenue Market

The marching band, the local library, and probably every other fundraising entity around sell hoagie coupons for Park Avenue Market. They have _the best_ sandwiches.

Tonight I got Santa Fe turkey and bacon ranch cheddar. The teen got Lebanon bologna.

But then she saw the A-Treat display.

Everything from pumpkin to sasparilla to cranberry ginger ale. She got “Big Blue.” I got diet orange creamsicle.

We started to eat them in the car, which is why the photos are so dark. And I unwrapped my sandwich upside down and spilled it all over my lap. And a tomato shot right out of my sandwich into the crack between my seat and my console.

“This is why we don’t eat in the car,” I said.

“No,” she said.

“This is why you don’t eat in the car.”