Wednesday, June 1, 2022

May 2022



This month ended on one of the saddest notes ever. Please consider supporting Everytown - I have lots to say/opinions, but it all comes down to please support causes that protect and will continue to protect our schools and kids.

For May, I read a lot, listened (to music) a lot, and watched a lot!

Also, my mom had knee replacement surgery. I've witnessed it many times before with other friends and family - no fun when you're on the receiving end! I hate that she had to do a replacement, but I'm so excited that she's getting (eventual) relief and quality of life back. 

And, we had high school graduations - woo - hoo! I am sooo old - my nieces and nephews are flying through HS, and one is about to finish college. It's crazy!

A dear family friend flew in from Colorado for one of the graduations. She was here five years ago for another graduation, so we attempted to recreate this photo:



It took me many tries, and there was a lot of laughter :-)


Reading:

Florida, by Lauren Groff. A selection of short stories that take place in or out of - you guessed it, Florida. The Sunshine State is complicated (at least for me as someone born and raised there), and she does a great job describing that complexity: beauty, danger, heat (and more heat). Most of these stories are dark, so if you are looking for a feel-good beach read, I don't think this is it.  

I needed something lighter, so I then read The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. It's a series, and I read the second one first (The Proposal) a few years ago (oops, but it didn't matter). These are fun for summer.

Untamed. So freaking amazing! I've followed Glennon Doyle for a long time, but this is the first book of hers I've read - it's got so many beautiful insights. I can't recommend it enough, and now I want everyone on the planet to read it.

Streaming:

Under the Banner of Heaven. Dark, quiet and creepy (as intended).

Barry - Season 3. A fave around here.

Grace and Frankie - final season. Loved this series. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are such badasses. The last episode has an appropriately fun cameo too.

The Power of the Dog - I liked this film and did not expect to. It's not the feel-good film of the year; it's complicated and very well crafted.

Hacks - Season 2. Such a great, funny series!

This Is US - series finale! Cue all the tears! Ugh! I will miss this show so much (me and pretty much everybody else). I was so happy throughout the series when I saw Ken Olin's name in the credits (he's a producer and director on the show). As a late teen, I loved thirtysomething (still do!) and value his continued contribution to great TV family dramas.

We don't have an Apple TV subscription, but I am about to cave as I really want to watch CODA (amongst other things). So much streaming!!!

Random:

We went to the movies!!! Everything Everywhere All At Once. This is a crazy ride, but one worth taking! It's creative, confusing, heart-warming, and, oh, did I mention crazy? :-) Overall, it's incredible, and you really have to see it to get it and even then, you may not get it.

Also, I am super excited about The Bob's Burgers Movie! After King of the Hill, it's my fave adult animation show. Yay and yay! My husband texted me this pic one day - so funny! :-)


Duran Duran made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - woo hoo! I may or may not have submitted a fan vote... ;-) 

My mom and sister told me about Tru Fru snacks, and I'm in love! If you haven't tried these, check them out. They are on the pricier side, but I think they are 100% worth it. I also love GoodPop pops- they have fun flavors (mango chile!!!) - give me all the frozen snacks this summer!!!

This is random, but I finally found a stevia-free electrolyte powder. I drink a lot of water but sometimes struggle to stay hydrated. Stevia usually triggers migraines for me, so I steer clear. Anyway, after a billion searches, I landed on this one. It's stevia free as it's unflavored, which works for me. It does have a mineral-like taste, so I often mix it with True Lemon or Lime packets (or some fresh fruit squeezed in). If you fall into the same boat as me and have wanted to try a hydration booster, this might be a good solution. 

And speaking of migraines, I lost a day to one in May. Luckily, it seems like this happens less and less, but every six months or so, one just knocks me out, and I pretty much sleep/can't do anything all day - it's the worst. It usually goes like this:

  • 3:30 AM, wake up with pain and take rescue med
  • 4:30 AM, wake up with pain and realize the rescue med did nothing - take another dose
  • 5:30 AM, wake with pain and take an over the counter med (as you can't exceed the rescue meds over 24 hours)
  • 7:30 AM, wake up with pain and realize you didn't sleep well all night and the rescue meds make you super drowsy (it's never a good idea to drive after you've taken these meds) - call into work/or plan to work from home (some times I can wing it).
  • Go back to sleep (or try to) and drink as much water/fluids as possible. Use ice packs, and keep any scent, noise and light down. 
  • Eat or order some food in the afternoon because you are now exhausted and hungry. Eat, drink more fluids, and go back to sleep because you feel like you've been run over.
  • Go to bed early and hope for the best. 

Ugh - if you know, you know. 

I am also fortunate to work from home or a hybrid version for the past five years. Again, relief often means you should not drive - the meds are helpful but can still destroy your day. 

On to better things...

I stumbled across this video. I first heard "Silent All These Years" when I was 20, and my mind was blown, and the world shifted in the best possible way. Shortly after, I was standing outside of a Publix (I think - it must have been some kind of Ticketmaster location) to get tickets for the Little Earthquakes tour. I also remember another woman in line asking me who Tori Amos was (she was getting tix to another show); I waxed poetic, and I'm sure she thought I was being overly dramatic. Lol, anyway, it's been 30 years, and the album is still perfect. I've seen her in concert two or three times, and her talent never ceases to amaze me.

If you've made it this far - thanks!! Last but not least, we got a puzzle table. It's such a great analogue/put down your phone activity. These tables are great because you can fold down and stow them away.


Cheers!




Tuesday, May 3, 2022

April 2022


Whew! Always happy to see the end of April because it means taxes are done! ;-) 

The weather was beautiful (sometimes a little chilly), and I love the sweet spot when the pollen dissipates and no AC is needed - it's a short run in ATL, but worth it.

How I feel after taxes:


We got back from Florida at the very beginning of April, and it felt like it took me the whole rest of the month to catch up.  We need to get our travel legs again, I guess!

Reading

The Patron Saint of Liars.  This is so well written (as is anything by Ann Patchett), but the main character is hard to take.  It's the point of the story, hence the title!

The Last House Guest.  My fave from April - if you love mysteries, give this one a go.  

The Infinite Pieces of Us.  A young adult novel from the perspective of a teen whose family moves from Ohio to New Mexico - along the way, we find out why.  It's a heartbreaker with lots of wisdom and insight.

Streaming

Better Things aired its series finale, and it was perfect! I'm so sad the show ended, but I think going out on a high note is the best. I'm already plotting to rewatch soon, and it was one of the bright spots of the pandemic for me (as usual, I was late to the game).  It's not for everyone, but it has a huge heart. It's never too sentimental (it will smack you right back to reality - ha!); it often made me cry in the best possible way. Brava to Pamela Adlon (aka Bobby Hill - yes!!!)! I'm so grateful you made this show - you made the world a better place.

The Home Edit - Season 2.  Fun fact: I met Clea and Joanna at a book signing in Atlanta back in 2019 - I fangirled hard! Clea told me she liked my earrings, and it made my year.  Here's me (and them) with an incredibly squinty/cheesy face, lol:  


And said earrings :-)



Random

Each year, we deck out our deck with herbs, tomatoes, and flowers.  Here's a portion of this year's cast of characters:


I can't wait to eat the tomatoes! I also love the way tomato vines smell (it's the best!!!). 

After a sparse year last year, we have tons of hummingbirds at our feeder! They are always so much fun to watch.

We have Irises in our front yard and they took off as well:



Couch to 5K.  I'm back at it! The weather has been so lovely that it's been fun to jog outside.  I've done this program a few times, and what I love the most is that you can start over anytime you need to or repeat days/weeks that work best for you. I also call it Running for Dummies because that's what I always need! I am the least qualified person to give exercise advice, but if I can do it... The key to jogging/running is to go SLOW.  You need to be able to hold a conversation without gasping for air. I probably walk faster than I run, but I don't care - it still counts. (Yesterday morning, an older gentleman ran right past me while I was jogging - that about sums it up. I was rooting for him!)

Cheers!







Wednesday, April 27, 2022

March 2022




Ah, Spring! 

It's hard to see, but the oak tree was starting to bud out and seeing how April is almost over, I'd better get to this post!

March kinda came in like a lion as we had a backyard tree fall. Leaning tree + lots of wind = :-(. Luckily, there was no damage; we noticed it leaning and already had a tree service out to get a quote. Mother Nature beat us to it! Ugh!

It feels like life is getting back to "normal", and it felt great to get out and do more things and see more people.

My sister invited us to join her office for box seats at an Atlanta Hawk's game.  They won too!


We ate at Skips! If you know, you know. No, it's not a big deal, but eating inside a restaurant is right now. It was a blast to sit in a booth, listen to fun music, and dive into a Chicago Dog!

We took a road trip to visit my sister-in-law (and some other friends and family) in FL.  We stayed about an hour from my hometown, and I had not been home in a super-long time, so we packed a lot in!



Smoked fish for the win! :-)

Reading

I didn't read anything that smacked me in the face this month :-), but I did enjoy:

Ten Thousand Doors of January. Beautifully written and a fantastic adventure.

Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life. I'm a fan of Sutton Foster, and this was a fun read.

Maid. This was turned into a series on Netflix (I haven't watched it yet).


Streaming

Emily in Paris - wrapped up the second season.  Such a guilty pleasure and oh, the fashion - so fun!

Finally finished the first season of Bridgerton (just in time for the second one to start).

Somebody Somewhere - LOVED!!! It reminded my husband of Schitt's Creek, and I can see that - definitely worth checking out.


Random

I love shoes. I especially love Birks, sneakers, loafers, and stacked-heel sandals...basically all things you wear on your feet. Lately, I love these Nike Waffle Racer 2X sneaks. The colorways!!! Unfortunately, I was late to the party and they are no longer on the Nike site, but pretty easy to find on the interwebs (Poshmark, eBay).  They are so comfortable and fun. I highly recommend them if you need/want some cute sneakers.

And when not in sneakers, after a loooong hiatus, I painted my fingers and toes. :-) Hello, Spring! 



We had some pretty pink-hued sunsets.  



After years of issues (grr!), we had our basement waterproofed.  The timing was ideal as we had lots of storms after, and it felt like a true luxury not to vac up water.  The basement did have a sump pump, but the elevation and placement were not effective.  Here's the new one; I know it's not pretty, but it's a vast improvement:



My grandmother was known for her cooking. One of her signature dishes was tomato gravy with homemade biscuits.  Have you ever had a tomato gravy?  I've never seen it on a menu (even a southern one) or mentioned out in the wild. My brother is also a great cook and makes an outstanding version of it.  I made it this past month but kept it super simple. It was delicious.  

Here's my version:

  • In a skillet/whatever you have, heat four tablespoons of butter (salted or unsalted) and whisk in four tablespoons of flour (make a roux).
  • Add in one 16oz can of diced tomatoes (really, any kind of canned tomatoes will work here - fresh too!).
  • Whisk in a half-cup to one cup (eyeball it) of milk or cream (half and half would be fine too - I used oat milk) and salt and pepper. Stir until combined; add more liquid if you feel it's too thick.  Serve hot.

That's basically it! This is not health food - ha - but it's a treat, and the tomatoes' tangy acid cuts through the roux's heaviness. My grandmother used to grow and can tomatoes every year, and I'm guessing that was a significant factor in her making this - maybe she grew up eating it too?  I'm not sure, but I know it's rich and delicious to add to a brunch menu. I love it over biscuits, but I also think it would be amazing on meatloaf or chops.

I hope the weather is lovely wherever you are - cheers!



Monday, February 28, 2022

February 2022

Posting this seems so small compared to what's happening in the world right now (and it is!). Please consider donating to an aid organization - especially one that supports children. We are all connected, and taking action towards peace, no matter how small, helps the world become better.


So the big news in our world in February was that I turned 50! 

Due to COVID (I know, everyone is tired of reading that..), it was relatively low-key, and I was happy with that as I got to have parties when I turned 30 and 40. Low-key and casual is perfect! I want to go on a trip with my husband sometime this year, but I need to figure out where I'd like to go and when it may be safer. It looks like things are heading in a healthier direction, and here's to it staying that way. Fingers crossed!

But until the said trip, I was much loved on - my parents visited us (my husband's bday is also around the same time as mine) and came bearing cake, flowers, gifts, and got us all delivery from a fave Italian place.


My mom makes the prettiest gift bows; this photo does not do it justice. I always keep them and often reuse them. :-)



We were treated to dinner at Le Colonial with some dear friends (also bearing gifts and even a champagne toast!). I should have taken a few photos, but we were having fun and enjoying all the delicious food and company - it was fantastic!

My sister sent me cute mini cupcakes! If you haven't tried Baked By Melissa, they make a fun gift.


We also had a post bday/valentine's dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants - basically, it was a month-long celebration with lots of great food, friends, + family. I am all for it and so thankful! :-) 

Reading

American Dirt was the best thing I read. It's heartbreaking and important. While reading it, I would often think - I have no problems, none. And while, of course, I do, it puts the world in a very different perspective. It's also very topical; the details are not the same, but it sheds light on refugees. Highly recommend!

Streaming

Better Things came back the very last day of Feb - yay!

Duran Duran was featured on Austin City Limits! This technically hit in January, but I waited and watched it around my birthday. Cue all the smiles!.

If you need a fun, girlfriend-centric show, check out Dollface on Hulu. 

Random

I made no-knead bread. I read this cute book (Sourdough: A Novel) and was inspired. I've been making this recipe for years (but there are many similar ones if you Google it), and it never fails. I'm tempted to start a sourdough starter, too...we'll see. Anyway, some bread turned into grilled cheese (yes!). A treat for sure!



I won a contest on Instagram! 

Flower Beauty (one of my faves!!! I've bought many of their products) held a Valentine's Day contest, and I was one of two winners. They contacted me on the 2/22/22 :-) and a box was on my doorstep the next morning - crazy, generous, and so lovely!  


Anyway, I love stuff like this, and it's a reminder to always take a shot. Thank you, Flower Beauty + Drew Barrymore!

We also had many days of "fake Spring" - no complaints!


This dude had his annual check-up and got put on a diet (doh!) - he's not happy about it, but clocked in at 42 lbs and really should be around 35. !!! He's not keen on walking. If you have tips on how to get a beagle-basset to walk, hit me up, please!

Here's to peace and health!

Cheers,

S



Wednesday, February 2, 2022

January 2022

I really enjoy watching this old oak in our backyard change with the seasons each month. January always makes me long for spring!

So maybe if I attempt to recap each month, it will help me commit to writing more?

Spoiler alert - probably not, but I am willing to give it a try!

My goal for this blog has always been to have an outlet, but I don't think I have the most remarkable memory. I enjoy going back to see what was happening. I have friends who can recall specific years/dates/what they were doing, etc., and I am in awe of them; I will never be that person. :-)

So here's what was happening in January 2022!

Reading

I wrapped up 41 books in 2021 (not bad and hoping to beat that in '22!), and my fave this month was The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I've been a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert since I heard her do an interview years ago on NPR. She was promoting her book Eat, Pray, Love (ever heard of it? :-), and I was hooked (and then, of course, read it!). Last year I read her book City of Girls and enjoyed it too, and I think Big Magic should be on everyone's bookshelf or digital bookshelf.

And for the record, I think an unknown or up-and-coming actress should have been cast in the movie version of EPL - the book is SO much better!

Streaming

Speaking of books - Station Eleven! My husband and I read this when it came out (we both loved it), and HBO has done a fantastic job recreating it into a series. It's worth watching whether you're familiar with the book or not.  

The Tender Bar. Ben Affleck stars, and George Clooney directs, so you do the math. Loved this, and it's one of those films you'll remember and think about (in a good way). The soundtrack is so much fun too.

And Just Like That...  How could I not check this out? I don't think it's as good as SATC (I think it's trying too hard to be a lot of things), but I looked forward to watching it every week.

Love Life. I watched the second season this month and loved it as much as I did the first. William Jackson Harper is great, and I love that it brings in Anna Kenrick's character (in a small way).

Queer Eye. It's always a fave; it never disappoints but oh, the tears!

And in my sitcom universe, I've been enjoying Abbott Elementry, American Auto, Call Me Kate, and reruns of 3rd Rock from the Sun - a fun sitcom always balances things out.

Random

No Screen Wednesdays

If you think there's a lot of TV/movie watching in our home, you're right! But we're also guilty of being on our phones way too much. Starting in January, we limited TV (off!) and screen access once a week. Kindles are OK, but phones or iPads are not. It's weird how quiet the house feels, which is probably a colossal sign we needed to cut back. I don't know if we'll do this every week going forward, but it will help us both knock out more books (or go for more walks), and I do think it's a worthwhile goal.

We got a new washing machine! It's a shame because ours was not that old (eight years), but the damn thing would constantly get off balance, which in turn would waste a lot of time, water, and energy. We tried different load sizes, different settings, YouTube hacks - the fact that there are YouTube hacks is never a good sign - but eventually, we just gave up. Eight years is a long time to get something to work, and so far, I am thrilled with the new machine. It's already saved us so much time because it just works as it's supposed to. Go fig?!? File this under signs you are getting old! :-)

And speaking of getting old, it's my last whole month in my 40's! So crazy, but I'm so lucky too! If I'm supposed to be wiser, I'm not sure that's the case, but here are some random "words of wisdom" - (asked no one ever :-).

  • Use sunscreen every day - rain/shine.
  • Nerds age well/better. :-)
  • Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself often. This goes for others too, but it has to start with you.
  • Don't take yourself or many, many things in life too seriously. Being able to laugh at yourself and all the stupid things you do (and continue to do) is essential. I'm not advocating stupidity/not caring about important things by any means, but we're human and yep...
  • Just start whatever you want to do and learn as you go."Perfect is the enemy of good" (Voltaire?) is one of my favorite quotes.
  • Read! Listen to podcasts, do what works for you but keep learning.
  • And if someone ever leaves you a voicemail - an actual dinosaur of a voicemail! (ha!) without detail (such as "this is John at xxx-xxx-xxxx, give me a call."), it's never good news - test this theory; most people who have good/positive/neutral information tell you something. I know it's random, but it almost always rings true for me.   :-) 

I made these cookies (brown sugar maple ginger) in January, too - will make them again for sure. They were gone within a couple of days!

I also made this Lemon Chai Cake - so bright and delicious!

And, the biggest thing that happened in January was SNOW! Yea-hah! LOOK at all that snow - ha!



We did get more, and it was so pretty, but even a little in the South is a big deal. :-)

This is not a great pic, but these blackbirds hit our yard in the hundreds every year as they migrate South. It's always crazy/is the world ending? to see them, and it's so impressive how they all fly up and out simultaneously. I think they are yellow-winged blackbirds (and a bit of snow left a few days later).


Hope you are staying safe and warm (it's currently 34 degrees F here as I finish up this post - yowza!!!), and happy 2022!