Oooh, 2019.

2019. Jeez oh man. I realize that the way us humans divide time doesn’t really mean anything, and if you’re having a bad year, the year ending certainly doesn’t mean you actually get to start fresh, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to…well, start fresh.

I’m sure I’m being a bit melodramatic, but 2019 was the worst year I can remember in a long time. I’ve said many times before that at least since moving to Delaware, each year has been better than the last, and that’s been true…until 2019. This last year was a real stinker.

A quick note – I’m writing this strictly for my own records, as kind of a year-end journaling activity. The state of the world is by no means lost on me – things are scary, bleak, and incredibly upsetting. That said, I’m only focusing on my own little world here – but I do not in any way intend to imply that my problems even come close to the problems the world is facing as a whole.

I know it’s not fair to claim that the ENTIRE YEAR was bad. There were plenty of good – no, great – moments. We went on an amazing cruise! I finally got a new job – the position I’d considered to be “my dream job” for several years! I got to visit my family multiple times, and stayed in a gorgeous new hotel on the lake each time! We learned A LOT. There was plenty of good folded in to what felt like a heavy, stressful bummer of a year.

It started in January – I had been told towards the end of 2018 that a new position was being created for me at work. This was a long time coming – I had been kind of stagnant in my role for at least a couple of years, and had been told multiple times by multiple people that I was working above my level, but was essentially told to sit tight because “something good was coming.” So I sat tight, was told point blank that I was being given a new role that was being created specifically for me…and then that role was given to someone else. So that was disappointing. I was told that it had nothing to do with me and was all due to office politics, but this started a several month cycle of roles (mostly ones that I didn’t really want, if I’m being honest) being dangled in front of me, and then snatched away. When I’d ask for feedback for what I could do better to succeed in the future, I was given nothing but positive lip-service, and claims that my rejection had nothing to do with me.

Finally, around springtime, a role that I had applied for in the summer of 2018 and hadn’t gotten opened up again, and the hiring manager sought me out to tell me it was more or less mine if I wanted it. This was amazing news – this role was in Marketing, where I had wanted to move for years, so I jumped at the opportunity. And it’s an amazing gig with even more amazing flexibility. The people I work with are great, leadership is great, there’s tons of room for advancement, and I’m learning so, so much. But it’s also a VERY STRESSFUL ROLE, particularly the specific project I’m working on (it’s a longterm project, with no end in sight), and I’ve been experiencing crushing imposter syndrome since I’ve started. My accomplishments feel amazing, but are almost immediately followed by various setbacks – some avoidable, some not. Training was very minimal, and I have zero experience. I constantly feel like I’m on the precipice of failing. I’m hoping this will get better over time, but I’m living in an almost constant state of panic. So that’s the career-related part of what made 2019 rough.

On to the various…I was going to say disasters, but that’s definitely melodramatic. Let’s just say “incidents.” In February (Valentine’s day, actually), right smack in the middle of my rejection cycle at work, I had a very scary warning light come on in my car. It was one of those bright red “GO TO THE DEALERSHIP IMMEDIATELY DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT $200” lights. So I go to the dealership, and they don’t know what’s wrong. Of course I drive a VW, and of course it’s the dealership, so of course they need to run multiple diagnostic tests and order parts that my car may or may not need, which cost a fortune. I have absolutely no doubt that they did their best – I don’t feel like I was bamboozled or that they were being shady in order to charge me more – but after just under $1K in tests and unnecessary parts (most of the bill was for tests, which is bonkers), they discovered that the only issue was that, during my last oil change, an off-brand oil filter had been used, and it was all mangled up and needed replaced. I JUST NEEDED AN OIL CHANGE.  Now, in the grand scheme of things, ~$1K isn’t that big of a deal, and it’s not lost on me how fortunate I am to be able to say that. However, I was already not in a great mental place at the time, so I had a bit of a breakdown (especially during the time where I didn’t know what was wrong, and was picturing a $10K repair or something).

So then, the house. Our downstairs toilet had had a relatively minor leak for a while – the floor would often be wet, but it was nothing that felt like an emergency. Sometime during the year (probably around March), it had started to get worse, so we decided to take action. I don’t remember the order of events, but long story short, we found out that there was massive damage to our floors including a buttload of mold, and when we had an insurance adjuster come out, he (very regretfully – seriously, I thought the guy was going to cry) told us that ZERO PERCENT of the damage was covered by insurance, because it was “slow damage.” Basically, we suck at life and should’ve fixed it right away, but because we didn’t, we were now solely responsible for what would probably end up ACTUALLY being $10K in repairs. The mold ended up not being toxic THANK GOD, and we were able to stop the spread of it using industrial fans and dehumidifiers for several weeks, but we ended up needing to replace the toilet (which wasn’t a big deal, it needed to be replaced anyway), and will need to completely rip out and replace that bathroom’s floor at some point before we sell the house. So that wasn’t great, AND it was 100% our own fault, which felt very shitty. I guess at least it was a learning experience.

And then there was the OTHER water leak. I’m still not totally clear on how this happened, but in I think February, our water bill was $500. It’s normally like $30. I alerted Jeff, and we found out that our outdoor faucet had been running since…I don’t know, a long time. We think that the lines had frozen at some point during the winter, but then we had a warm snap and they unfroze, causing a huge leak. This was easily fixed by turning the water off, but it ended up costing us two months of $500 water bills. Another financial loss caused by being big stupid idiot home owners.

I realize that everything so far (other than my career stuff) has relatively minor financial setbacks caused by our own stupidity, and that our privilege is glaringly obvious in that we were able to deal with all of this stuff without issue. And that’s totally valid, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t stressful to deal with, and it felt like issue after issue after issue. Just please know that I do recognize how fortunate I am, and I definitely realize that so many people have it so much worse.

Anyway, moving on to what was actually the worst part of what was already an exhausting year…poor Jeffrey’s health. Around mid-year, Jeff decided to follow up on a few (what he thought were) minor health issues (as a sidebar, this is the exact reason I’m terrified of going to the doctor – you go in for something you think isn’t a big deal, and pandora’s box opens and suddenly you’re on death’s door. Not that Jeff is or was on death’s door, and I know this is an idiotic fear…moving on). So Jeff goes to his GP for what was initially ongoing stomach issues – he’s had various gastrointestinal issues since I’ve met him, and they’ve never been able to figure out what’s wrong. And that part didn’t change – after exhaustive testing (including two endoscopies, and various ultrasounds and CT scans), they still haven’t found anything wrong with him, but he’s continued to have symptoms (mostly bloating/discomfort) on and off for over 10 years. He was on Accutane as a teenager, and I blame that.

So he had to have a ton of tests done on his stomach which was unpleasant and stressful (mostly to me, being the basket case that I am), but on that first appointment, he also casually mentioned to his GP that his hip had kinda been hurting for a couple weeks. Now, we were almost 100% convinced that this was due to his sleeping situation – we had switched out our mattress with the guest room’s crappy memory foam mattress over a year ago (don’t ask me why). Also, our bed had broken several months prior and we couldn’t be bothered to buy a new one, so we had jankily fixed it, and it had been crooked/sagging in the center since it had broken. His GP agreed that it was likely due to poor sleeping conditions, but ordered a x-ray just to be safe. In the meantime, we also finally replaced our bed.

So then the x-ray came back (by this time, it was mid-summerish and his hip hadn’t stopped hurting despite the new bed), and the results were more or less “you’re probably fine, but there’s a tiny chance you could have this condition called avascular necrosis (or AVN), so we’re sending you for an MRI.”

So he gets the MRI, and low and behold…he does, in fact, have AVN. AVN is a rare condition in which the blood flow to the hip is cut off, causing the bone to die. It causes pain that progresses with varying speed which causes mobility problems, and can eventually lead to your leg completely giving out, potentially causing your femur to break. They don’t know what causes it, and there’s no cure – it eventually requires a full hip replacement. He was diagnosed with this condition in both hips, and they initially tried to wait it out (he was told to use crutches for a few months, and when that didn’t help they recommended him to take it easy to see if his inflammation reduced), but his pain got worse instead of better, and he decided to have his right hip replaced before the end of the year (his left hip is still holding strong for now, fingers crossed).

So, on top of everything else that had already occurred/was already occurring, this whole ordeal with Jeff’s hip was, of course, extremely upsetting. He felt awful because he felt broken – he couldn’t walk long distances, and when he did walk, he had a severe limp. I just wanted him to feel better, but was also terrified about the surgery – even though his surgeon is extremely talented and did a lot to assuage our fears, it’s major surgery and that’s scary. But the surgery went perfectly, and now, almost exactly a month post-op, Jeff is well on his way to complete recovery. He’s still limping, but he doesn’t even need a cane anymore – the recovery time has been shockingly quick. Of course, this also cost thousands of dollars…by fitting the surgery in before the end of the year, the cost was much less than it would’ve been otherwise (due to the ridiculous amount of tests/scans he had throughout the year, Jeff ended up hitting his out of pocket max), but all in all it ended up being a pretty expensive year. Of course it was all worth it to have Jeff healthy and confident there’s nothing lurking below the surface.

So! 2019 was a year. Although I know the idea is in and of itself pretty dumb, I’m still confident that 2020 will be better. I’m doing everything I can to lessen my stress at work (although if I’m being completely honest, I think a lot of that is unavoidable), and I’m planning on starting therapy to manage the stress I do have better. Jeff is, fingers crossed, healthy, and the surgery is behind us. (Although there’s still another one at an unknown point in the future…but hopefully it won’t be this year. And even so, at least we know what to expect now.)

I do have a few minor resolutions: although I’ve tried and failed before, I want to regulate my sleep schedule and start waking up earlier. I’d like to go to bed and wake up at a relatively similar time throughout the whole week including weekends, give or take an hour or so at night and a half hour in the morning. This is the year I’ll make it happen! I’d like to reduce impulse purchases, and spend more money on experiences and less on things. And, on a related note, I’d like to learn to stress less about money. We’re comfortable and extremely fortunate to earn what we do, and I stress way more than is necessary about the amount of money we have or do not have in the bank. We have enough to cover emergencies and are regularly saving, so I want to worry less about the state of our finances, give back more, and be less materialistic. Having grown up without a lot of money I struggle with scarcity mindset, and I’d like to try to correct that way of thinking.

That’s about all I have to say for now – I write these (particularly this year’s post) not to dwell on the negatives of the year (or brag about the positives), but so that I’ll be able to look back and remember (and laugh!) I’m excited to see what 2020 holds!

 

 

2018 Recap/Thoughts

I’m sure it’s just hormones (or something along those lines), but I’m feeling very emotional…I’m having a particularly difficult time letting the holiday season go this year. It could also be due to the fact that Christmas was so different for the first time in ten (!!) years – instead of traveling to see my family, we hosted Christmas. Don’t get me wrong: it was lovely, and I look forward to continuing this tradition (and making new ones!) for years to come…but, as with any new tradition, it felt different, and the end of the year really seemed to sneak up on me. Plus, for whatever reason, this is the first year my holiday decor hasn’t felt like a hodgepodge mess, and I’m going to be really sad to take it all down.

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Anyway…moving forward! 2018 wasn’t incredibly monumental for my little family, but at the same time, it feels like things took a shift in the overall sense. We decided to officially begin trying to start a family (which doesn’t feel like a major step since we’ve been discussing it for so long, but in actuality is, of course, HUGE). We took a look at our finances, and made headway in saving more and leaning on credit less. We finally made progress with our landscaping, and (FINALLY) completed step one in fixing up Jeff’s office space (which will eventually become the nursery if everything goes as planned, and in the meantime can finally be used functionally as work space/a second place for guests to stay). While no major changes were made to our everyday life (well, mine – Jeff started a new job), 2018 was about setting ourselves up for the future.

We traveled to Florida, Cape Cod, and the Poconos, and took several day/overnight trips to Philly. Speaking of Philly, Jeff started at a new company in the city, and was introduced to commuter life. I had a couple of different opportunities within my own career fall through, but learned a lot in the process (and will be transitioning into a new position – along with a promotion – within the first quarter of the new year…hooray!) I conquered some pretty major fears, and put myself in the position to be more proactive about my health going forward. I took a solo road trip to my hometown to visit family. I feel like I accomplished a lot of personal growth in 2018…I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty proud of myself.

I went into 2018 with some pretty major goals, and I’m happy to say I conquered (or at least made progress with) most of them. I feel I made major progress with my most daunting resolution (prioritizing my health) – for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a paralyzing fear of doctors/anything medical, and I actually went through with several health screenings in 2018. Once I ripped the bandaid off, it became much easier to face minor medical issues, and I actually sought treatment for multiple (again, minor) illnesses throughout the year. I realize this sounds a little ridiculous for an adult to be proud of, but it was a pretty momentous accomplishment for me (and it’s what allowed us to confidently start trying for a baby).

My other goals included bringing less stuff into our home/purging unwanted items, getting our finances in order, exercising consistently to manage stress, taking care of my possessions, and being kinder to myself, and I feel I at least somewhat made headway with each item. I did great with purchasing less for the first half of the year, and while I do still need to do a major purge of unwanted household items, I cleaned out my closet and started selling clothes and shoes on Poshmark, and got rid of a lot of junk (and started setting aside unused stuff that’s still in good shape for a yard sale next year). I exercised relatively regularly…I hope to be even better about it this year, but I wouldn’t call last year a total fail. The only goal I didn’t really accomplish was “taking care of my possessions,” but in interest of my last goal “being kinder to myself,” I’m going to call 2018 an overall win, and continue working on everything on last year’s list going into the new year.

We’ve set 2019 up to potentially be a pretty huge year – we have some big plans for our house (we’re starting to get into “let’s make sure our house is ready to sell, should the opportunity arise” mode, although I personally am in no hurry to move), including finally rebuilding our huge wrap-around porch this summer along with our neighbors. I have some pretty major career changes coming, and plan to work on some long-overdue professional development. I’d like to travel as much as possible (possibly including a solo trip overseas). And of course, we hope for 2019 to be the year we welcome our first child – or at least create him or her (ha)! I also have the usual minor resolutions – be more consistent with physical activity (again, still), work to regulate my sleep schedule, be kinder to my hair (specifically, I want to learn how to air-dry without looking like a disaster, and keep heat-styling to a maximum of a few times a week).

Overall, 2018 was pretty darn good to us. I hope for more of the same for 2019, and once I get over this weird hormone slump (or whatever it is), I’ll be ready to take the new year on! Whatcha got for us, 2019?

Happy 2018

Happy New Year, friends – I hope your holidays were joyful, restful, and restorative.

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I just went to look back at my “resolutions” post from last year, and found that…well, there wasn’t one. So that makes my job easier today – no goals from last year to review progress (or lack thereof) on. Last year was a weird one…it felt very eventful, but I don’t feel like anything of much substance occurred in my personal life. Or maybe it just feels that way, since the previous few years were chock-full of milestones (engagement, wedding, new job, first trip abroad, etc. etc.) So, instead of reflecting on the past year, I’ll just move right along to what I’d like to accomplish in 2018.

I’m actually setting resolutions this year, which isn’t something I generally do. But this January, I’m feeling a little mentally cluttered and unfulfilled, and I know there are specific things I can do to remedy this…so I’m going to do my best to. I do want to note that I’m only going to include more personal types of resolutions – so, for example, I’m not going to include, say, re-doing our porch, even though that is one of my goals. These resolutions will be more about keeping myself happy, healthy, and sane, rather than little things I’d like to fix with my home (which will need to also involve Jeff).

So, without further adieu, here are my resolutions for 2018:

  1. Bring less stuff into my home/live with less/use what I have. Over the past few years, I’ve slowly developed a pretty hardcore online shopping addiction. It started somewhat out of necessity – I was truly lacking a lot of practical things that I needed – but devolved into buying all the things, just because they were on sale and/or pretty. Not only is this financially unwise, it’s created a lot of clutter in my life, and it’s starting to make me a little crazy. This was really hammered home after Christmas this year – Jeff and I went all out on gifts for each other (we figure it might be our last Christmas without any little ones to buy for), and while nice, it ended up feeling a bit self-indulgent, and I’m feeling overwhelmed with stuff. So, I’ve decided that this year, I’m only going to buy things that I really, truly need, and instead of shopping sales like a fiending crackhead, I’m going to invest in quality items that will last me years. This applies to not only clothes and accessories, but also home decor – I tend to buy lots of small scale things because they’re more inexpensive or seem like “great deals” in the moment, but buying a ton of tiny things just makes my house look cluttered and cheap. Instead of buying every little pretty thing I see, I’ll wait to purchase larger scale items that I really love and will complement the rest of my decor.
  2. Purge unwanted items. On a related note, it’s time to go through my storage, weed out things that I no longer need or use, and donate them (or throw away anything that’s not fit to donate). At this point, we’ve been living in our house for over 4 years, and there are still tons of things I’ve held onto since we were in our apartment “in case I need them someday.” At this point in my life, I’m lucky enough to be able to let things go, and if I really need them in the future, I’ll be able to replace them with upgraded versions that I’ll actually use. Examples include, but aren’t limited to: old, plastic picture frames from the dollar store, cheap square glass candle holders, undersized, mismatched throw blankets, cheap, outdated “placeholder” decor, damaged Ikea furniture, and the list goes on. Along with the purge will come a reorganization – somewhere along the way, I started throwing things anywhere they’d be out of sight, and I no longer have a dedicated place for everything. This is going to change in the coming months.
  3. Get our finances in order. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the old Raum finances are kind of all over the place. We’re comfortable in the overall sense and aren’t struggling by any means, but we also don’t have a budget (at all – zip, zero, zilch), overuse credit cards, and never know exactly how much money we have at any given time (due to said overuse of credit cards). We could also definitely be saving more efficiently. I’d like to prioritize paying off any outstanding credit card debt and go back to paying cash for most things (only putting large purchases on credit cards for cash back/points, and paying the balance off right away), and working to combine our finances – with Jeff now making double my income, it no longer makes sense to keep everything separate (plus, we haven’t really functioned as though our finances were separate for years).
  4. Exercise consistently for stress relief. I’ve set fitness goals in the past, but this is different, and possibly my most important resolution: I NEED to exercise consistently (meaning at least 4-5 days every week) to manage my anxiety and keep my mental health in check. This isn’t about training for a marathon, or losing weight, or even being in shape (although that is important to me), this is purely for the purposes of mental health. This means, at the very least, moderate cardio – it has to be in addition to any strength training or core classes I take, and it has to be non negotiable. At this point I can confidently say that the vast majority of my anxiety and depression stems from periods of being sedentary, and I can’t deny it any longer – I need to stay active for my mental health. My end goal is to get over the hump where running is painful to the point where it becomes enjoyable, and then maintain it – I’ve been able to get there in the past, but I always trick myself into thinking I can let it slide for a bit and then I fall into a vicious cycle of not wanting to start up again. No more.
  5. Prioritize my health. It’s not that I’m NOT healthy, per se (I rarely get sick, knock on wood); this is more about maintaining my health with preventative care. I’m famously terrified of anything medical and NEVER go to the doctor, and if we’re going to start a family, this needs to end. I increased my medical coverage for the year, so now is the time to take advantage and start actually getting routine health screenings.
  6. Take care of my stuff. Just like I need to prioritize maintaining my own health, I need to start prioritizing maintaining my material possessions. I’m terrible about letting the condition of my things deteriorate until I simply re-buy it (for example, I bought outdoor furniture covers for our brand new patio furniture this year, but have yet to put it on after countless rainstorms and a handful of snow storms), but I’m 33 freaking years old and I need to cut that shit out. No more being wasteful – I’m going to start putting the work in this year.
  7. Be kinder to myself. As is everyone, I’m my own worst critic (can you tell? Ha!) – this fuels my social anxiety, since I feel like everyone is judging me just as hard as I’m judging myself (even though I know this isn’t logical or true). I need to start accepting myself for who I am and learning to recognize the awesome parts of myself as well as embrace my flaws. I also really want to get to a point where I feel comfortable sharing my true self with others, rather than trying to force myself to be a different version of myself depending on who I’m around. I know this is always everyone’s resolution, but man…self love can be tough, can’t it?

And there you have it…I have a lot to work on in 2018, but I’m excited for a fresh start. Cheers to what’s ahead!

Happy Holidays!

I know, I know – I’ve been totally slacking on the blogging front for the past few weeks. Holiday life took me by storm, and I have been B-U-S-Y! I probably won’t get the chance to pop in before Christmas, so I wanted to drop a quick holiday greeting before the big day. Can’t wait to catch up, and I hope your holidays are happy, cozy, and spent with loved ones.

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Happy Friday!

Plus some pics from the past few weeks.

Happy December! I’m kicking the month off with a three-day weekend (starting today), and I’m pumped to start decorating for Christmas. Aside from decorating, I have tentative plans to see Lady Bird with a few of my Lady Friends, and I’m looking forward to starting the yearly Raum tradition of cramming as many cheesy Hallmark holiday movies into the month as humanly possible. Have a holly jolly weekend, and here are a few pics I’ve snapped recently:

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Loving these little berry branches combined with a spring or two of eucalyptus

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The best old fashioned at one of our new (to us) favorite spots

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Thanksgiving tablescape

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Kicking turkey day off with a little cheese and boozy punch

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Thanksgiving spread (minus mashed potatoes, which were keeping warm in the slow cooker)

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Getting festive with some (very) boozy ‘nog

 

Leftover Love

If you’re like me, you’re probably getting a liiiiiiittle sick of Thanksgiving leftovers by now. I could probably eat pie for the rest of my life, but I’m starting to feel a little weighed down by all the butter I’ve been consuming, and one can only eat turkey and green bean casserole for so long before turning the color of said beans.

Quick side note: not to toot my own horn or anything, but I make the best leftover turkey sandwiches on EARTH. My secret? Mashed potatoes. COLD mashed potatoes. Also, I keep things simple. I grab a leftover dinner roll (I never have sandwich bread in my house, and dinner rolls work just as well, if not better), split it, spread COLD mashed potatoes on that sucker, and top with cold turkey and a sprinkle of kosher salt. That’s it. I ditch the stuffing (I don’t like it…plus, why put bread on bread? I love me some bread, but that’s weird, right?) and I’ll occasionally add some cranberry sauce, but it’s perfection with just the turkey and taters. Yummmm.

Anyway…I hate to waste food, but Thanksgiving leftovers in their original form have a hard stop after about 3 days for me. After that, I need to get a little creative. My favorite way to use up leftover turkey? Turkey Tikka Masala. The warm, creamy, spicy sauce works just as well with turkey as with chicken, and I serve it over – you guessed it – mashed potatoes in place of rice. It’s delicious, it uses up a good chunk of all that turkey, and it tastes COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than Thanksgiving dinner! Not the lightest dish in the whole world, but I figure it’s better than loading my plate with scoops of mac & cheese and marshmallow covered, butter loaded sweet potato casserole night after night.

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Turkey Tikka Masala

Ingredients

3 Cups leftover turkey (I like to use white meat, but I’m sure dark meat would work just as well or better if you like it)

3 Tbsp butter

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (I love Trader Joe’s ready to use ginger paste – it comes in a tube)

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

Salt & black pepper, to taste

1 cup whole-fat coconut milk (you can also use heavy cream)

Leftover mashed potatoes, or cooked basmati rice

Cilantro, chopped – to garnish

Instructions

Melt the butter in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened; 5-7 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and continue cooking until fragrant; 1-2 minutes. Add sugar, spices, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes; add coconut milk and turkey and simmer until warmed through. Serve over mashed potatoes (or rice, but mashed potatoes are SO GOOD and you probably still have some sitting around, yes?) and garnish with cilantro.

 

 

 

A Black Friday Exchange

Jeff: Want anything from Dunkin?

Me: No thanks.

Jeff: You sure? Coffee, breakfast, hot cocoa…anything?

Me: Nah, I’m going to eat pie for breakfast.

Jeff: Did you say you’re going to eat pie for breakfast?

Me: Yeah.

Jeff: That’s sexy.

 

Ahh, the holidays. Let’s get this party started.

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Oh…and happy shopping! I’d do a recap of the best sales, but it’s way too late and also every other blog on earth did that. Google it, you’ll see!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The world is essentially a garbage fire in 2017, and yet, I am thankful. I’m thankful for my home, I’m thankful for my friends and family, I’m thankful for my livelihood, I’m thankful for husband who always keeps my smiling, and I’m thankful for my fluffy white little nightmare of a pup. I’m thankful for the enormous privilege that allows me to have it pretty damn good, despite everything going on around us.

“I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.”

Is it in poor taste to quote a Kevin Spacey monologue at this present time? Eesh. Anyway, I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving, and don’t forget to actually, y’know, be thankful. Because even though things may suck, they probably suck a whole lot worse for someone else. ❤ ❤ ❤

Official Thanksgiving 2017 Menu

Happy Monday, friends! I may be a bit on the absent side this week – lots of shopping, cleaning, pie baking, and cooking to be done around here. I figured I’d at least pop in to share my finalized Thanksgiving menu, though (with links to recipes, when applicable) – and then if I get a few free minutes, I may just drop in with a few other little things. So, without further ado, here it is: our 2017 Thanksgiving Menu.

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Simple Roast Turkey (NY Times – I’ve used this dry-brine recipe every year I’ve hosted, and it’s by far the best turkey I’ve ever had)

Mashed Potatoes (I’ve never previously used a recipe, but I’m going to try this method from The Kitchn this year)

Turkey Gravy (No recipe here – I just work from what my mom taught me)

French Onion Zoodle Bake (Climbing Grier Mountain)

Macaroni & Cheese (No recipe here, either – I tend to combine about 5 different recipes to taste.)

Green Bean Casserole (I’ve used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe every year until now, but I saw Ree Drummond make her recipe on this kitchen this year, and, well…she uses bacon. And cheese.)

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows and Pecan Streusal (I’ve tried fancier sweet potato/squash dishes, but everyone prefers the good old sweet stuff – who am I to argue with tradition? I’ll be putting in a couple little spins to elevate things a bit, though – orange zest and fresh ginger, to start.)

Cranberry Sauce (No recipe – I just throw in whatever sounds good at the moment.)

Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing (Stuffing’s difficult for me, because I don’t like it -*GASP* – and Jeff’s mom makes him his favorite stuffing each year. I always feel like I should make stuffing for everyone else though, because Jeff’s is a pretty specific recipe and it’s not for everyone…I’ve tried a few different recipes, but I figure I’ll just stick with this basic recipe from Averie Cooks this year. Can I say recipe again? Recipe.)

Rolls (Keeping it real – I usually use frozen parker house rolls and brush them with butter, herbs, and sea salt before serving. I’ve thought about making them from scratch, but…just, why?)

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo and Sherry Vinegar (Serious Eats)

Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie (Smitten Kitchen – this recipe is a bit more laborious than other pumpkin pie recipes, but it’s so good that it’s the only recipe I ever use.)

Chocolate Pudding Pie (Dinner a Love Story – I may or may not spread a layer of peanut butter over the crust before adding the pudding. Shhhh!)

And that’s it! Well, minus one additional pie that’s yet-to-be-determined-but-needs-to-be-decided-on-within-the-hour-because-that’s-when-I’m-leaving-to-do-my-grocery-haul. I’m thinking some kind of apple crisp/pie/cheesecake combo. Also, I feel I should mention that this menu is to feed FOUR PEOPLE. I repeat, this menu featuring a 16 pound turkey, 10 side dishes, and 3 pies will be feeding FOUR PEOPLE as of right now – my parents may make a hail-Mary drop in, but even then it’ll only bring the count to six. God help us.

Off to buy all the groceries – if we don’t speak, have a happy, cozy, and delicious Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Friday!

And a great one it is! Today is my last day of work until next Friday, and I’m pumped to kick off the holiday season. This weekend will be spent mostly preparing for the holiday rush – deep cleaning and shopping and such – and I also hope to enjoy bit of relaxation before the craziness sets in.

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A couple friends & I went to Joe Biden’s book tour in Philly this week, and celebrated with cereal-flavored ice cream and cocktails.

I’ve also decided that instead of ditching the gym from Thanksgiving until Christmas like I usually do (which would be impossible, since I haven’t gone to the gym in months…oops), I’m going to make an attempt to head off the 15 pounds of cookies (and eggnog, and wine…) I’ll consume over the next 2 months by hitting the gym THROUGHOUT the holiday season. Maybe I’ll also try to get a few hikes/outdoor runs in before it gets too frigid. I figure this might set me up for success throughout the rest of the year, and maybe chase the seasonal depression monster away. Wish me luck (I’ll need it)!