Recent food and random Monday silliness

Today was hard—one of those days where I thought I had all my ducks in a row only to be asked why the sheep were still out to pasture.

A goofy image, but how I feel.

The teenager and I have been eating well. My neighbor has been sharing some of her Hungryroot deliveries. If she doesn’t like it, she sends it to my house.

That’s how I discovered that I like polenta.

So this weekend, I made spaghetti with Hungryroot’s Spicy Thai peanut sauce and sautéed fresh radishes and frozen stir fry vegetables in sesame oil and Bragg’s liquid aminos.

For breakfast that morning we’d had scrambled eggs in homemade crepes with turkey bacon, Gouda and a pickle.

Today for breakfast, the teenager had the last of the Thai peanut sauce and bacon on a bagel.

For lunch today we had leftover spaghetti, vegetable dumplings and Green Giant Steamfresh superfood edamame mix. So yummy.

Dinner was salad with sesame dressing and Hungryroot lemongrass tofu.

And yesterday the teenager baked me the most amazing dark chocolate cookies with dark chocolate chips and piles of fresh coconut.

My dear friend and traveling companion M got to meet Nala over FaceTime today and commented how she was more cuddly and quiet than he expected.

She’s been very tired lately, but she’s been waking often in the night.

Nana sleeping on my chest

And for one last burst of cheer, here’s a pile of kittens:

And the teen and I did some taste-testing:

Strawberry Twinkies

Lemon Hostess Cupcakes

A random Coronavirus list after 7 days of working at home

1. Pets can really brighten your day. And steal your earrings. And make you laugh. And make a mess. And sleep next to you in the sun. I think every dog in my neighborhood loves having everyone home.

2. Thanks to my office colleagues and teenager I can now make a FaceTime call with multiple people.

3. I eat less when at home. I realize how big of a stress eating problem I have. When I’m home and calmer, I eat smaller meals so even though I am exercising less, I am losing weight.

4. I don’t miss my bra, but I have to wear real pants even in my home office. For some reason I can’t focus in my pajama pants or comfy pants. It makes me want to be lazy instead of productive.

5. I love lists, but they are a reaction to stress. The more I am distanced from the rat race mentality of our typical American lifestyle, the less I make lists. My to-do lists are created out of a frantic need to prove my productivity to my family, myself and my colleagues. I find myself more in control and less driven to make lists as my lifestyle gets quieter.

6. There is no such thing as free lunch. I’ve been watching the news coverage on the stimulus package and average Americans— the barely middle class ones like myself and those struggling—need to understand that this appears to be an advance on your 2020 refund.

That makes me uncomfortable. It’s an election year, so who knows what will be happening to our tax structure in the future and this bill is enormous. We will have to pay it back somehow or it will damage our economy in the long run.

Plus, for many of us, our jobs and income are unstable right now. And even if we do have good jobs, we might not be seeing raises. And how will this all impact inflation?

I understand it’s a measure to help us survive right now. But I hope this situation helps more people understand that we need to spend less and save more.

7. I’m eating my vegetables. And taking my vitamins. And tracking my moods—because I had been having issues with my blood pressure and no doctor, no matter how much he cares, is going to check my blood pressure right now.

I was talking to a colleague that I last went to Wegmans more than 2 weeks ago. She asked how I have any produce. I taught her my trick. I bought apples, oranges and green bananas. I bought fresh Brussel sprouts, potatoes, spaghetti squash, radishes and a giant cabbage.

Root vegetables for the win!

8. Sunshine saves the day. Working, via extension cord because I have the old laptop with no battery power, on the enclosed porch beats the dining room table.

If you want more info on the tax bill:

From Forbes.com

From Yahoo money

Silly things that made me happy today, dedicated to Covid-19

I have truly enjoyed working at home, alone, just me and the menagerie. It gives me a little bit of emotional distance from my office and keeps my stress levels lower.

My house has a lovely enclosed from porch. It’s an old house, so it’s nothing fancy but it’s picturesque and sunny even on cold winter days.

When we first bought the house, my husband would tease me because I spent so much time on my porch— he said my superpowers would fade if I stayed away too long.

So today I had several really nice bright spots on my day.

1. Nala, my naughty Goffin’s cockatoo, was cuddly.

2. I put on real clothes. No bra, but a real outfit. Like office attire.

3. I found two generic knock-offs of dark chocolate Petit Écolier cookies in my cupboard and they weren’t even stale. They were breakfast.

4. Nala finally started ripping apart her huge paper toy. I was starting to think she didn’t like it

5. I have only left the house 4 times in the last 8 days and 3 of them were for work. Today, the mailman in my neighborhood was late and I had a very important grant application with proper postage and everything. I decided to go to the post office.

The experience ended up being a really good one— they verified the amount of postage, didn’t mock my packaging skills, added a tracking number and estimated the package’s arrival time.

Here’s where my isolation shows.

The postal worker looked at me and asked if I needed anything else like stamps, blah, blah, blah.

I got ridiculously excited.

You know, I am down to my last stamp at home. I would love a book of stamps.

Me, being a dork at the post office

“Are the orchids okay?” she asks.

“Yes,” I reply. “Orchids would be perfect.”

I was giddy over stamps.

Nala learns new tricks

This is a brief entry about my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo with an attitude, Nala. She adores me, but tends to be a tad, um, bitchy with anyone else.

I’ve been very impressed with how she’s adapted both to a new life and a new routine in my crazy menagerie/train station of a house.

I brought her home in early January and have no experience with parrots and barely any experience with birds.

During the last few days I’ve noticed a change in her vocabulary. She already knew what sounds like “Mommy” when I got her—said only when leave the room.

She also learned very quickly to return my kisses with her only little kissy noises.

But now she seems to have learned “step up.” It sounds like what I can only describe as a bird hiccough in two syllables mimicking the phrase. But she says it when she wants me or after I ask her to step up and she’s not sure if she wants to.

So this is an exciting development.

Nala and Misty

She can also hold her own very well against our once feral kittens.

Through tired eyes

I. Am. Exhausted.

March was shaping up to be an exhausting month at work before it even started because of all the grants I had to finish— I forget how many so we’ll round to ten. And a couple needed reports.

Then we added a couple last minute important government opportunities and dealt with some EITC issues… if you don’t know what EITC is don’t worry about it, it’s a Pennsylvania tax program for corporations that benefits education.

And then we hit the state emergency of Corona virus/COVID-19 shutdown.

My employer has the largest full-choice food pantry in the County and we serve hundreds of households every month. We educated about a hundred people daily in our classrooms. We serve students in the schools. Provide assistance to walk-ins, existing clients and referrals.

So this has changed everything. The CEO is scrambling. Meetings are going virtual. Our educators are looking at distance learning. Our food pantry staff and volunteers are bagging food instead of letting clients shop.

And now we need to design a schedule and a work plan to use our homes as offices.

Ideally, we no more than 3 people in our admin building at a time. (There are only six of us.)

Tomorrow I have to take the old MacBook Air into the office and hope I can get it to connect to the remote server. Otherwise, I am not allowed to work from home.

And I forgot my journal on my desk, and my planner, but my planner I can survive without. But my journal? Noooooooo!

Every morning, I get up, pour a cup of mostly decaf coffee and write in my journal while the cats eat. Not having this ritual will be upsetting.

To lighten the mood, here is a cat photo from the freshly cleaned room of the teenager:

And an unboxing of this months treats— a Universal Yums box from Brazil (featuring Nala, my naughty Goffin’s cockatoo):

Universal Yums March 2020

Sunday update in the midst of the Pandemic

These are indeed interesting times.

My mom and I went to Grocery Outlet because I wanted some fresh produce. Got blood oranges, spaghetti squash, cabbage, potatoes, radishes, and fresh Brussel sprouts. I was looking for items that would store nicely if something does confine us with COVID-19.

When I got home, the teenager helped me dig a splinter out of my foot and treat it with betadine.

We did two loads of laundry and the teen taught the budgies to hand feed.

We stripped and made both our beds— which ended up with some Oz antics.

And I made two delicious meals for myself prior to my fasting bloodwork tomorrow: leftover sesame chicken with pan-seared Brussel sprouts seasoned with four color peppercorns and tofu burger on whole grain wheat with avocado, sautéed radish and dill havarti cheese.

Of course, the afternoon led to some discussions among my neighbors of whether or not Coronavirus is worse than the normal flu. Does it matter? Flu outbreaks have killed people at fairly regular intervals. I’m not concerned that I will die from it, but I am concerned that I could help spread it if I’m not careful.

The neighbor we went to dinner last night spent the evening playing Yahtzee with another neighbor whose son just came home from college. The son woke up with a 102 degree fever today coughing. And his lab partner just got home from Germany.

And there’s a presumptive positive case in the next town over where my in-laws live. So it’s coming.

And I’m not an alarmist or panic-stricken but I agree that we all should be limiting our interactions. The more careful we are now, hopefully we can minimize the impact on our community and our economy.

And here’s some animal photos:

Just another Saturday

I woke up this morning worried about things I can’t control, and to a cat coughing up a hairball somewhere in the darkness of my room. It was 4 a.m. and to get myself back to sleep, I keep imagining a cleansing white light.

I imagined the white light getting brighter and brighter. It filled my house, came up my stairs and saturated my room. It brought me calm and helped me get to sleep.

I finally gave up on sleep around 7 a.m. but laid in bed until 7:30. I got up, fed the cats, started a load of laundry and cared for the birds.

Then I finished the first season of Hell’s Kitchen while folding clean laundry and hanging wet wash.

I had a piece of toast, put dishes away, washed the pots and pans, and scrubbed the kitchen counter (even the trivet and the toaster— have to periodically get those crumbs out of the toaster.)

And I found what could be very handy if COVID-19 ends up in my neighborhood: a bottle of Hibiclens the doctor told the teenager to use in the shower before her surgery in November.

My college professor neighbor and I had coffee on her porch, while I was clad in my African dress that I bought in Djibouti for my trip to Somalia.

I vacuumed the sun porch. Did some necessary paperwork. Gave Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, a shower. Scrubbed the tub, but not as well as I would have liked.

But I didn’t strip my bed or play with my new make up.

This evening my other neighbor took us to dinner at La Bella’s as a thank you for watching her dog.

Amazing Bread

The teenager decided to compliment our server every time she came to the table. I had chicken penne vodka. The child had seafood spaghetti vodka. The portions were ginormous and the seafood seemed good. I’m not a seafood fan.

See those bumpy calamari?

I think I’ll have enough leftovers for TWO lunches. As with the teen. And my neighbor. And then my neighbor took us to Owwowcow for ice cream. I got cinnamon bourbon.

The food was scrumptious but made me sad because I’m still having mild dental issues. My neighbor is looking at a root canal so we’re a good pair.

And now we’re home. Roomba is vacuuming my bedroom.

The teen is trying cone incense for the first time. She tried to pick natural varieties that wouldn’t burn my eyes and sinuses. She asked me what to burn, so we went for the cleansing sandalwood— vanilla sandalwood to be exact.

I used to use sandalwood soap to bathe before I practiced rituals and vanilla is a very pure, comforting flavor and scent to me.

I asked the teen, who now has her own altar with her own selected candles on it, why do you burn incense?

She answered, “because it clears my sinuses and helps me focus.”

Good girl, I thought.