Thursday, January 24, 2019

Thursday Thoughts - Mister blue sky please tell us why you had to hide away for so long

1. Raise your hand if you get excited to recycle. All of these things had to be thrown out yesterday but none of them went in the trash and I loved it. 10 out of 10 get a life Y/N

2. Wednesday was my work from home day this week, and with the two hour savings on commute and ability to get things done at lunch as well as the lack of office distractions, I am by far the most productive on my work from home days. I got a big work writing project done yesterday, made it to the post office and the library, and did what felt like endless laundry that is now all clean but is not all put away. You know how that goes, right? About that library trip - super pumped for this stack.

3. Yesterday was National Pie Day so I made pecan pie muffins, recipe from my friend Kim, instead of going out and buying one. I used what I had and felt thrifty and smug. I'm putting this here so I can reference it: 1/2 cup flour + 1 cup light brown sugar + 1 cup chopped pecans, mixed. 2 eggs beaten + 2/3 cup butter softened and beaten together. Add wet to dry, mix well. Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way full and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes. I took mine out at 22. Degoddamnlicious and I reheated them later and added vanilla ice cream.

4. Have you seen the Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix? Hooo-leee shit. I am going to have to reactivate Hulu for a minute to watch that one too. I'm glad to see people stepped in to help Maryann via her gofundme. I hope they did for other locals as well. It is fucking terrible to do that to people. I feel for the people who didn't get what they paid for, sure, but the makes me sick.

5. All the nail colors this week (Essie No Place Like Chrome, You Me & the Sea, Penny Talk.
6. Bruce is infatuated with the ice but cries and jumps off when it cracks while he's standing on it. Repeat 573 times every time he goes out and there's ice.

7. Summary of feminist thoughts this week:

8. Summary of white supremacy thoughts this week:

9.  Reminder:

10. Ecards...well, that's what this woman means.

Toodleoo now. 

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 Mr. Blue Sky by ELO

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

14 Current Random Obsessions

1. Paper plates.  I see so many photos of food on paper plates. Am I in the minority using actual plates and washing them instead of using plates and throwing them out? 

2. Being thrifty. I intendto spend the year watching my expenditures and evaluating what is really necessary when something runs out. I didn’t expect to enjoy the thrift and the parsing down so much.

3. Using all the food. Pantry and freezer clean out are happening and I'm actively searching for what to make each week instead of buying more. 

4. Kiwi. I eat it constantly. I had no idea how many people don’t eat it. It's been a topic in my office.

5. The Great British Baking Show. I think I covered this yesterday but isn't it so comforting? The people are so kind to each other and really just come as you are, not overly made up insanity.

6. Requesting books. I’m maxed out on my hold requests at the library. I request books all the time but have been a hungry book ogre recently.

7. Avoiding facebook. I'm so much happier when I log on, post my blog post, and check out. Scrolling is not good for me at this time.

8. Reading about making soap. I’ve read a zillion articles and blog posts about it over the years. This obsession is cyclical and I’m back in it.

9. Water. I can't get enough and can't refill my humidifiers enough. I hate having the heat on.

10. Countdown to spring. I'm ready to go back to the shore.

11. Hibernating. Home, rest, live slow. I’m going to make the most of the indoor months instead of inventing things to do. 

12. Candles. I’m burning through them like wildfire.

13. Mint tea. With a spoon full of sugar.

14. Brienne of Tarth. What an intelligent badass.

Thanks to my friend Heather for this post idea - she does her 14 lists on a lot of Fridays. Check her out!

Your current obsessions?

Monday, January 21, 2019

TWTW - the one with women and the baking

Friday half day and driving to DC with Melissa. Gwen and Gena were already there with Mimi and it's been too many years since I've them. Debbie arrived later. Mimi fed us well as always and we took care of sign making business but were completely captivated by The Great British Baking Show. Like, involved. Like these people are our family and competing. Cheering loudly involved.
Saturday Mimi's muffins made by Mimi herself, packing up, and lots of discussions about Depends. Hashtag we're older now. Then it was off to the Women's March. We heard no speakers. Markedly less people than two years ago in DC, and much more tiring. We're all tired at this point if we feel the need to show up for this, yes? But we were there and it was good to be there together.
Did you see that Kavanaugh sweater though?

Meem, Gwen, Gena, and I have known each other since I was 22 or 23. Debbie I met in my late 20s, Melissa in my early 30s. I love when my friends from different eras of my life enjoy each other's company and become friends themselves. It says something about the character of all of these awesome women. It was so great to just be with all of them this weekend. Bake offs, food, naps, and Depends talk suit us better than the bars these days and we are all good with that. After a lingery lunch at Alta Strada, we retired back for showers, more baking, grazing, naps, etc. Oh...and sheet masks as is the ritual of Debbie and I on Saturday nights. Mask photos forever. Never not funny. We look like The Sheet Mask Great British Baking Show Zombie Mafia.

Sunday I slept shitty and only for about 4.5 hours due to the youth encounter with the Native Elder. I can't and the lengths gone to to excuse or explain are Make Nathan Phillips a white vet and the kids any other color and then what happens? Not a lot of in defense of kids Fox News talking points in that scenario. Yes, I saw the whole video. Yes, there was a lot going on. No, the disrespect and clowning of a Native Elder are not excusable from the crowd wearing MAGA hats. The March for Life was on the Mall. The Indigenous People's March was permitted at Lincoln Memorial. Those kids were quite far from where they were supposed to be and if they had a chaperone the chaperone sucks. Let's not get into the fact that the kids who don't know any better were bussed in specifically to stand against the bodily autonomy of women. Do they know about that? ANYWAY Melissa and I were on the road by 7:15. MFD's niece and two nephews were at my house and I got them into the British Baking Show too. Hurrah. That's basically what I did for the remainder of the day.
Weekly food prep from the food that photographs poorly but tastes good kitchen: Breakfast is breakfast burritos from the freezer. Lunch is PB&J and fruit. Dinners are turkey soup from scratch (made the stock Sunday from my Thanksgiving carcass) and spaghetti squash buffalo chicken (chicken from a picked rotisserie in the freezer). I'm not sure what else yet. 

MLK day. Friends, I believe love will conquer hate, but love is justice spoken out loud so if we continue to stay silent or whatabout each other, hate does not go away. We can't ignore it and we can’t love it out of here in silence. Hate for those that are “other”, disrespect, and intolerance are TAUGHT, allowed, and encouraged. Not only by parents and teachers, but by coaches and family members and adult friends and community members and religious leaders and yes, by politicians, by the very systems in place - racism is systemic. Speak justice out loud, even if that is considered radical in your circles. In his time, Dr. King was a radical, 75% of white people did not approve of his ways or messages: not many white people would have shared anything written or said by him then. Instead of sharing a quote today in a world still rife with racial issues, try a little living out loud of what he was about: be a little radical too in spaces where you might not normally be. Even if that space is in your own mind examining your attitudes surrounding race, and if you’re white, white fragility (check out White Fragility the book!). And if you have the money, patronize a black owned business, become a patron of a black woman sharing her ideas and writing on Patreon (I have suggestions if you are interested), or contribute to an organization that benefits the black community or works to get black women elected like Higher Heights

Let’s each do something good and just for the world today.  Consistent small acts of good in pursuit of justice and equality can change our landscape.

Happy happy birthday to AEB today! xoxo

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!

Friday, January 11, 2019

About Face

Friday is the day:
Mood lighter, weekend in sight.
Remove stick from ass.

It's been a while since I've done a haiku, and also a while since I talked about my face regimen so I decided to combine those things today.

It has not been a while since I was glad it was Friday, and surprise! I'm glad it's Friday today. The day started with Gus falling out of bed at 5:41, Bender escaping the yard into the street where my neighbor was thankfully standing at 7:59, and telling the train conductor to have a good night at 8:47 (the man behind me repeated me then we all laughed).

I never talk about any facial product unless I've been using it for at least a month, but preferably three. All of these are over the three month mark unless noted. Nothing pisses me off more than people who use facial products for five minutes and are like omg life changing use this. No.

For reference, my skin is a combo of normal to dry and very sensitive. My skin changed when I turned 38 or 39 and I spent a while adapting to that. Product-wise, I like to keep the price low where I can, but after a few hellish incidents I stepped away from a lot of cheaper products I was using, started doing my research and am much happier with calm, mostly behaving skin to boot. The extra money is worth it to not be kvetching about my face all the time and most of my products last a long time. Amazon links are affiliate links.

Cleanser: I typically just rub my face with water in the shower but if I was a lazy a-hole who did not wash the night before I get some SkinLab Micellar Cleansing Water out.

Serum: Kleem Organics Vitamin C Serum for Face. I love this. Like, love love never gonna give you up 10 out of 10 would marry love. It's great on my skin and in warmer months I sometimes skip a heavier moisturizer in the morning and am fine with just this. For around $20, that is great.

Eye: Kleem Organics Anti Aging Eye Cream. I love this except for how it comes out. You have to practice control and I'm not always careful so there’s user error. If you are not a wild animal like me, you should be fine if you buy it.

Moisturizer: MAC Complete Comfort Creme. Throughout my life my most troubling skin care component to figure out has always been moisturizer. This feels great, does not clog my pores, does its job keeping my skin flake and dry patch free, and does not make me break out. I did a lot of research before I found this and bought it. If you're like me, when this shit costs like $30 for moisturizer you have to scour the ends of the earth before investing and be ruthless in returning what does not work.

Sunscreen: After moisturizer, all year, every day regardless of forecast. I change my sunscreen up a lot. Right now it's Clarins. Regardless of the brand it's SPF 30 or 40. My face does not respond well to 50.


Eye makeup remover: Camomile Gentle from The Body Shop if necessary, otherwise micellar water. My eyes are super sensitive and most eye makeup removers are not good for me.

Cleanser: The Body Shop Drops of Youth Gentle Foam Wash. Not drying, does the job.

Toner: The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Toner. Once upon a time I was obsessively toning my skin and stripped off its outer layer. What an idiot. This is effective and gentle.

Anti-aging serum: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. This is cheap as hell. I was using a Kleem Organics Retinoid cream which I also liked but I swapped it out for this. I love it.

Eye: Kleem Organics Anti Aging Eye Cream. Love story as seen above.

Moisturizer: MAC Complete Comfort Creme.

Exfoliate: Either belif Pore Cleanser Bubble Foam or The Body Shop Drops of Youth Liquid Peel, 2x a week, usually at night

Mask: Once a week. I'm into Saturday night sheet masks lately but they are not the best for the environment so I should wean myself off of these.

Jade roller: I used Debbie's that she got in her FabFitFun box (Sherrie Matthews Acupuncture) then bought the same one for half price on Poshmark. I love it but I was not paying $45 for it. If you want one, check Poshmark or Ebay. I’ve only been using this for about three weeks.


I have a set of flannel cloths from Etsy (those of you who can do these things could make them at home, I ordered mine on Etsy here) that I use for eye makeup remover, micellar water, toner, etc., so I'm not using and tossing facial wipes or cotton balls. I love them, they just go in the wash with my towels and not into landfills.

This concludes my Not a Beautician, Only Doing What Works For Me and Always Interested in What Works For Others Also Use Less Single Use Items TED Talk.

Have a great weekend!

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