Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thursday Thoughts - And I see losing love is like a window in your heart

1. My Mom Mom crocheted this scarf for me over 30 years ago. My favorite color has always been purple. I love and wear it still. It's warm as hell and nothing store bought even comes close. It's like getting a hug from her.
2. Midway through the month and my desire and need to clamp down on spending is going well. I don't want anything and haven't considered purchasing anything. I've been unsubscribing from emails like a mad woman. I truly do not need any more shit at this time. I don't care how good the sale is. I've got my typical birthday wishlist going (without fail each year I want books, sneakers, nail polish) but that's about it.

3. I haven't done much at night this week aside from read. I finished book 14 of the year last night. January chill, you know. Three times in the past two weeks I've started a book at 11:35 pm. Not advisable.

4. I've started scheduling out shore work for when we reopen the house. This spring's main projects are: paint ceiling on first floor, replace bathroom vanity, install programmable door locks, power wash outside and attempt to salvage cushions, and move wall art around. If March could be more spring, less winter unlike the last two years, that would be great.

5. I got to see Sara from Journey of Doing yesterday as she is in Philly for a conference. She also got me the cutest pug ornament!
6. Hamberder Turdburglar wall tantruming toddler. This is my bottom line right now. Fuck, man.

7. I'm sticking boots up the asses of men in some way upset or offended by the Gillette commercial about toxic masculinity, or being like "I'm fine with it but not all men." Shut up. Also ladies yes, I know, Gillette is guilty of the pink tax and hopefully they asked before using #metoo instead of co-opting it from a black woman but all in all call the message of the ad a win. The patriarchy is not smashed in a day. The nuts of the offended people might be though. Have you ever noticed the people who are always bitching about how people are so offended about everything these days are the ones who are always offended?

8. I'm pumped to head to DC tomorrow for a weekend with my ladies.Saturday we go to the Women's March. I refuse to throw the movement out this time. Every time women have been on the cusp of cresting, together, the movement has been torn down from inside or out. It has been white feminism excluding BIPOC, right now it's the association of two national leaders with Louis Farrakhan. A movement powered by millions allowed to die because of problems of some with two? Nope. Also, are we really asking women to answer for the words of a man they know? Have we all had to answer for our racist uncles? Should we have to? Fuck no. I'm not moving away from the movement because of the problems that exist within it now and always will because we're humans and we're flawed and we bring problems to all situations. Women have to learn to sit together in uncomfortable spaces and solve problems. We need to bring our own in line in terms of being inclusive. We need people working from inside to improve. The Steering Committee they've convened for this year is quite a good start and takes the focus off of the four co-chairs since 2017, so let that excuse for not showing up just go now. Every piece of the patriarchy (and the patriarchy's best friend and co-ruler, white supremacy) is hoping that we will not ever stick together enough through everything to raise each other up and do this. I say fuck the patriarchy and white supremacy. I'm doing this.

9.  Reminder:

10. Ecards. Working from home today. To be fair I do say this about my commute from the job I had before this one...10 years ago.

What appears after the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts is a song lyric to whatever I'm listening to when I start to write the post. This week is Graceland by Paul Simon

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla pudding cool whip icing

Do they look pretty? No. How do they taste? Pretty fucking good.

I wanted to bake something last Saturday. Baking is not my natural habitat, cooking is. All of these recipes I was looking at seemed complicated and I was like I'm going to go back out and get a box mix or something pre-made. Hold the phone, I came upon these cupcakes from Sugar Spun Run. One bowl? SOLD. I mostly followed the directions, then rooted through my pantry to find things I could assemble icing from and honestly these turned out fucking amazing. The cupcakes were moist and rich and the icing was not too over the top sweet. I'll never use a box mix again, and that's why they're appearing here, so I don't have to hunt down the original recipe and try to remember how I made the frosting.

 2 cups sugar
1.75 cups + 2 TBS flour
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup 2% milk
2 eggs lightly beaten (they were supposed to be room temp, mine were not quite there)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee (this deepens the flavor, I seriously suggest you use this. If you don't have it, use hot water)

Preheat oven to 350. Line two 12 each cupcake pans with liners.

Add all dry ingredients to bowl (if you have a bowl with a spout to pour, use that) and whisk together well. Add oil and milk, stirring until combined. Add eggs, stirring until combined. Stir in vanilla extract. Add the coffee and stir well - batter will separate at first and is very thin (hence the bowl with a spout to pour).

Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way full (I always overfill and fuck this up but I scrape them off and they're fine) and bake for 18-23 minutes depending on your oven. Mine is a little on the fritz and again, I overfilled, so 23 minutes. Allow to cool fully and remove from pan.

1 tub cool whip, thawed
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar

While the cupcakes are going, combine pudding mix, powdered sugar, and milk and whisk for two minutes. Fold in Cool Whip and refrigerate until ready to use. Do not ice those cupcakes or anything baked until it's fully cooled, you got it? Unless the recipe indicates otherwise, of course, and calls for melty shit. Because that's what it'll do, it'll melt in and look disgusting. Ask me how I know this. Never mind, don't.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

My Meal Prep Tips for an Easier Life

Meal prepping, or weekly food prep as I typically refer to it, is a fantastic way to prepare for the week ahead and make sure you have tasty and nutritious food ready. Instead of being too tired to cook anything healthy during the week, you know you already have your meals ready to go. I love using my spare time at the weekend to prepare my breakfasts and lunches, as well as some dinners. I know the thought of meal prepping can be intimidating, especially if cooking just one meal feels like a lot of effort. But there are things that you can do to make it easier.

Get Your Groceries Delivered

If you've decided that you want to start meal prepping, you need to get good at making shopping lists and checking what food you already have in the house. One way to make this easier is to shop online and get your groceries delivered. It means you can easily double check if you already have something that you need, and you get a clear idea of how much you're spending before you reach the checkout. You can even find specialist places to shop like Crab Dynasty so you can get super fresh ingredients. With the ingredients you need coming to your door, there's less to stress about. Almost everyone is in the grocery delivery game these days. I've personally used Peapod (Giant - this link is a personal referral code), ShopRite, Whole Foods via Instacart, Target via Shipt, and AmazonFresh when it was available in my area (still not over that loss). If you have any questions, hit me up. I lived by this but now only do it on occasion, doing most of my grocery shopping in person at Aldi, Redner's, or Target depending on what I need and what I'll be closest to during the week to maximize my efficiency.

Choose a Meal Prep Day

Meal prepping saves you time throughout the week, but you have to be willing and able to give up some of your time elsewhere. Fortunately, if you're preparing your meals at home, you can usually get other stuff done at the same time - you're not just tied to the kitchen. You can pick up the living room, remove your nail polish, cycle laundry, read a book, etc. So pick a day for meal prepping, or maybe two days where you do a couple of batches. Sunday is obviously perfect because you can get ready for the week ahead, but you don't have to choose Sunday. Whenever you have a couple of spare hours can work for you. When the shore house is closed, Sunday is my day. When the shore house is open, it is not. I grab an hour or two on Monday or Tuesday night instead.

Get Good Containers

Once you've prepared your food, you'll want to be able to freeze or refrigerate it to keep it fresh. You can use pretty much any containers for this, but if you're like me and a) don't like your food to touch and b) travel with food to work and want to cut down on the number of containers you have to carry, to have some that will allow you to make up separate portions for each meal. I use glass containers like these that are sectioned up, so there's space for something different in each section. With glass containers, you can easily see what's in them, and you don't have to worry about plastic containing BPA or any other nasty chemicals.

Make a Balanced Selection of Food

If you're not sure what to make or you think you might get bored of eating the same things, think about making something that hits the important food groups. You can make yourself some protein, veggies, and a grain or carbohydrate. This will help you to put meals together and also allow you to mix and match if you want to make sure you get to eat something slightly different every day. I can eat the same thing day in and day out but I know not everyone likes doing that.

Meal prepping doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, it's pretty easy if you know how to make the most of your time. And the more you do it, the easier it gets. I promise.

Are you a weekly food prepper?

Monday, January 14, 2019

TWTW - the one in the kitchen

Friday The 41 year old Friday night special: put laundry away that you ignored all week and paint your nails (Insta-Dri Re-Teal Therapy, this is the only Insta-Dri that chips on me almost immediately and pisses me off). I was up late reading. 
Saturday I was at the grocery store early and the dogs jackassed around all day. I spent much of the afternoon in the kitchen making shit from scratch. I find it relaxing.
MFD hosted an Organizing for Bernie party. I'm not at the 2020 primary yet. Hell, I'm barely over the last year of campaigning. What I am about right now is local and judicial elections, the primary is in May in Pennsylvania. I'm all about putting judges on the benches who are human beings. JUDGES MATTER. Local election-wise, Melissa Robbins was over and spoke - she's running for City Council At-Large in Philly and if you have some dollars to spare, she could use your support via a donation on her website. If you don't have dollars to spare, Instagram, twitter, or FB follows and amplification via shares will help. We need smart, progressive, strong, community-focused black women who believe in all people thriving and in speaking truth to power in all levels of office all around this country because black women lead and representation matters. Melissa is one of those women and she is extremely qualified for the position. Philly friends, make sure you follow her and see what she’s about. You will not regret casting your vote for Melissa. Friends outside the area who support worthy candidates monetarily, please check her out as well. Bender had his first political meeting experience and loved it. He was right in the thick of things. 
Sunday I woke up late after getting 9.5 hours of much needed sleep, finished a book, did some food prep, showered and did a face mask, and read another book while sort of watching movies MFD had on - Mars Attacks and Beautiful Boy. Sunday was also my sister-in-law Aubrey's birthday. Happy birthday Aub! Love you!
Weekly food prep: For Saturday I made veggie soup, homemade bread, and fucking amazing chocolate cupcakes from scratch with vanilla pudding cool whip frosting (trying to locate the recipes as i looked at a million, will probably share in its own post). This week's food is savory oatmeal cooked in beef stock with a fruit side for breakfast; lunch is buffalo chicken thighs on a bed of spinach with a side of cucumber and a hard boiled egg; Sunday dinner was baked chicken drums with steamed cauliflower. Other dinners this week will be Korean beef over rice and I'm not sure what else. I did well cooking from my freezer and pantry this weekend. 

Next weekend I will be in DC, so quite a few less dog pics than the past two weekends. 

How was yours? 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Four Things to Plan Ahead for This Year

Now that we're in the full swing of the new year, our attentions are hopefully not be solely on resolutions that we don’t plan on sticking to, and more on where the next 12 months will take us. If you've read here for any amount of time, you know I prefer planning over spontaneity in general, but especially in situations where I want some more control-of timing, expenses, all of the above... planning helps me make the most of my time. Here are four of the things to plan ahead for to help you get started with making this year count.

Plan ahead for potential issues

We can’t predict when things are going to go wrong, but we can plan ahead for the potential problems we know may occur. For example, summer will be here soon enough, and if you have an old air conditioning unit like me, you can bring someone in HVAC in to check it before summer starts because an engineer may be able predict when you may need an air condition repair, or service it right there. I don't know about you, but the last thing I want is for the AC not to work on the hottest day of the year. You can also plan ahead for  to check your heating system in advance of winter, get your appliances serviced if they give any indication they might need it so that you're not without a fridge, freezer, or washing machine. While these things may still break even if they are checked over, if you do what you can to avoid it, at least you tried. 

Plan your vacations and time off

You know what I love doing? Looking at the whole year as a blank canvas. It gets filled with work days, of course. After that, what to do with it? It gets filled with days with your family and friends, weekend plans and such, so the best time to set aside time for vacation is EARLY. This gives you a chance to book things properly (our shore house always starts booking the fall before for the next year, so I am not alone in this thinking) and make some real memories with the ones that matter. Booking vacations in advance gives you the chance to budget and plan for the spending that may occur. Not to mention having something to look forward to. We all need that, right?

Plan for birthdays and festivities

I know that we're still recovering from the festive season but there's no harm in starting to put plans in place for next Christmas and Thanksgiving that will be coming our way faster than we know it. Maybe this will be the year you plan to buy gifts throughout the year instead of leaving it to the last minute. You might still pick up bargains now in terms of decorations for next year. Birthday-wise, you can plan to buy cards in advance, have gifts stored and ready, and just be ahead of the game with it. You might take some stress off of yourself. 

Plan your day to day routine 

I am a huge proponent of planning your day. I do a weekly meal plan so I know what's to eat that day. I'm also a fan of a cleaning schedule to help me stay on track of house upkeep, the most important part of that being the Daily Dos. A great way to plan your day is to write a list each day of the things you want to do - I typically start that the day before and right now I'm keeping running daily lists separated by day on Google Keep. Planning helps me be more productive and efficient - despite planning being largely about to dos, it actually helps the most in ensuring that I have downtime and time to do what I want.  

I hope these tips help you to plan ahead for your year!

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