The year without


It was one year ago today that my beloved Mr. Bob left us. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about him or miss him deeply. And while my life as been filled with so much excitement and joy this year (graduation! wedding! new kitten! new job!) there have been more than a few nights where I’ve cried myself to sleep missing him.

His preferred spot in the bed.

His preferred spot in the bed.

The grieving process is an interesting one. For weeks I blamed myself. I admit, sometimes I still do, until I remind myself I did the best I could. Then, the sweet and sad memories come. And then, finally, the truly happy ones. Like the many post-workout naps he shared with Eric in the sun.

Post-ride, post-lunch afternoon nap in the sun.

Post-ride, post-lunch afternoon nap in the sun.

I knew it was true love when Bob and Eric became buddies. I used to joke that Bob loved Eric more than me. I know that’s not really true, but it warmed my heart to see the two of them together. Among my favorite memories are those of the evenings I’d come home from a long day at work and commuting and find Eric in the kitchen cooking with Bob perfectly perched on his shoulder.

But this is his most favorite spot: my lap.

But this is his most favorite spot: my lap.

And of the many hours I’d spend sitting, watching TV and working, with my laptop precariously perched on my knees to make room for this adorableness. Choosing which photo of this pose to share was actually difficult, as I’d apparently taken dozens.

Mr. Bob enjoying some afternoon sunshine in "Grandpa's chair."

Mr. Bob enjoying some afternoon sunshine in “Grandpa’s chair.”

The hardest moments are those that sneak up on me. When I come downstairs and see the light hitting the chair just so and half expect to see him curled up there. Or when I wake in the middle of the night to the jolt of a cat jumping on the bed, but it’s not him.

I was blessed to have spent nearly 16 years with my beloved. I would give just about anything to have more time with him.

I miss you, my sweet boy.

Veggies!


Another week of beautiful vegetables, all from my farmer friends at Tierra Vegetables!

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Here’s the main haul: cabbage, carrots, parsley, acorn squash, an enormous celery, strawberries, potatoes, and cauliflower. So much food I couldn’t fit it all in my canvas bag! Such a bounty of beauty!

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So, I bought more stuff! More kale, basil, garlic, serano peppers, and persimmons.

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Oh, and more tomatoes! Although I didn’t really buy these as much as barter for them. But still… YUM! So many vegetables I’m feeling almost a bit overwhelmed by what to do with them all. But I have a few ideas.

This Week
Pot Roast. Still on the list. Our dinner with friends got pushed back again, but seem pretty definite for next week. Regardless, I will be cooking pot Roast next week, even if it’s just for me and Eric. Using the potatoes, some carrots, and the fennel left over from last week.

Cabbage Soup. Eric has yet to have the time to make his famous cabbage soup, although I suspect it will happen tonight. If it doesn’t use up this third head of cabbage, then I’ll have to come up with a back-up plan. Probably something to do with sautéing and using for breakfast. Or another type of soup. Fortunately, cabbage keeps for a long while in the fridge.

Tomato Soup. Yes. More. This will be my fourth batch. I’m hesitant to call it the last, because this warm autumn is keeping the tomatoes coming, and once it’s canned, it’ll keep for a long time! Right now I have something like 12 quarts put away. That’s one quart a month until next year’s tomato canning season!

Roasted Cauliflower.We’ve got a whole lot of cauliflower and broccoli (and zucchini) in the freezer for use in the winter when the weekly boxes turn into bi-weekly boxes. I’m tempted to use this cauliflower to make some kind of garlic, cheesy cauliflower thing that’s roasted and then puréed and topped with cheese. Oh! Maybe served over some seasoned ground beef! I’ll keep you posted!

Sautéed Kale. With onion, garlic, and mushrooms. And eaten with breakfast. Yum!

The celery is the sticking point, really. While I’m tempted to do up some really yummy cream of celery soup, I’ll probably just chop it up and add it to the celery in the freezer for use in soups later this winter. Boring, I know. But there’s only so much fresh-cooked food two people can make and eat in a week!

The acorn squash is going to be stored for later. Maybe for stuffing. 

The parsley is being dried in the kitchen window and will be added to my currently-running-low jar in the cupboard. The basil will be chopped and frozen in an ice cube tray with olive oil (my favorite way to save basil).

The strawberries are being eaten one by one every time we walk through the kitchen. And the persimmons are being sliced and eaten with breakfast.

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Last Week
Despite the lingering funk I’ve been experiencing, it’s been a pretty productive week. I got through quite a few things on the list from last week. I made the cream of broccoli soup, my third batch of tomato soup, roasted beets, and Eric made a huge batch of delicious salsa!

It’s fun to get back in to the kitchen again after taking so much time off for school. I still cooked, of course, but it wasn’t often that I had time to do anything more than just cook and eat the same go-to meals I seemed to rely on for years: pasta and sautéed veggies, happy bowl soup, and “clean out the fridge” frittata.

I fell in a hole


I fell in a hole. Again.

I guess the good thing is that I’m familiar with the sensation and can kind of brace myself when falling, and then keep myself calm while I’m down there looking for the way out.

I don’t know exactly what triggered it, but I suspect it had a lot to do with a combination of biochemistry (I have been struggling with anemia for several months now), and the stress of having to go to the dentist and have a root canal on a tooth that had already had one years ago, and the waning sunshine and returning rains. I just ran out out of the ability to navigate around the hole and resist the pull.

Anyway, I’m slowly pulling myself out of this one. After spending a couple of days of sleeping as much as possible and not much else, I knew I was on the way out Sunday night when I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited about my cooking project for today (cream of broccoli soup — recipe coming, I promise!). I don’t doubt that the brief return on sunshine on Sunday helped as well.

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Another factor is that I have so many ideas, I feel a bit overwhelmed when I sit down and try to get stuff done. I am having some trouble finding a way to streamline much of my blogging work. I always feel like I’m just barely making my self-imposed deadlines and sometimes even missing them. When I’m tired or stressed (or tired AND stressed), it’s harder to stay positive in the face of what can sometimes feel like failure. The failure to keep up with the schedule that I created to support my goals. The failure to find the easy way around the tedious parts of the work. The failure to instantly be a super star blogger.

“The deepest fear we have, ‘the fear beneath all fears,’ is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of judgment. It’s this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life.” Tullian Tchividjian

I know (today) that I will eventually will sort it out. It’s like a kind of puzzle, and I love puzzles. And one of my greatest work-related skills is the ability to do more in a day than others because I’ve created a streamlined process. So, I just have to keep reminding myself that I will eventually find the right system for this new career.

I also know that I will find my way out of this hole, just like I’ve done in the past. And I know that I will fall into another hole in the future. And another. And probably another. But, with each hole I exit, I gain more confidence in myself. Which, for me, is quite comforting when I need it most.

Veggies!


First, a quick check in on last week’s veggie plan. It went great! Frittata? Check! Tomato sauce? Check! Sautéed kale? Bean salad? Salsa? Check. Check. Check!

We didn’t make a roast chicken or a pot roast, as our dinner plans with a friend was postponed. But carrots and potatoes store well, and now that we have some fennel, that’ll make a perfect pot roast!

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Friday Faves


Swedish Corningware

It’s no secret I have an obsession with serving dishes and cookware. We host parties and game nights at least once a month, and sometimes more often, and I’m always looking for more plates and bowls to serve snacks in.

But I don’t just use these fun pieces for parties. Nope. Most of them also get daily use for my own snacks, or storage for fruits and veggies.

One of my all-time favorite finds is this 1975 Country Festival Corning Ware dish. It didn’t have the lid, but that’s OK. It’s not going in the oven. I found it at the local Sutter Care at Home Thrift Store, which isn’t a place I visit very often. But every time I do, I find something I love.

I just adore these little birds and flowers. They bring me a kind of simple joy that I cannot really describe. I’m not kidding. Even in my darkest funk, I get a little glow of happiness when I see them on the counter.

Do you have any favorite dishes? Is this a silly thing to get excited about?

Veggie Day


OK, so normally Tuesday is Veggie Day, but I wasn’t feeling very well on Tuesday, so I pushed it off until today.

First, let’s check in on how things went veggie-wise last week. No new or exciting kitchen creations. Oh well. We were out of town for a long weekend, so there weren’t many dinners at home last week.

Pretty much everything went into the freezer (celery & broccoli), pantry (onions), fridge storage (beets), or put on display (pumpkins).

Or got eaten (tomatoes). Nothing fancy. The green tomatoes were made into a jar of salsa. The orange cherry tomatoes were washed. Both were taken on our trip to Redding and enjoyed there with Eric’s mother and step-dad.

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This week’s haul:

  • potatoes
  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini
  • green onions
  • kale
  • shelling beans

It’s definitely starting to feel like autumn here, but we’re still enjoying the end-of-summer produce, as you can see from this photo.

In addition to the huge bag of veggies, I also bought more tomatoes! Tomato season is drawing to a close, and I don’t feel like I have enough jars of tomato sauce on the shelves for winter. These’ll get roasted and canned tomorrow. I’ll even take photos and share them here once it’s all done.

End of summer tomatoes
 
And, because I have some cash in my account again, I also splurged and bought some more of these little cuties. These little orange cherry tomatoes are my all-time favorites. So sweet and delicious. Like eating candy.

Orange cherry tomatoes
 
This week’s veggie plan:

Frittata: We’ve got some great wild caught salmon in the freezer, and I love cooking it up in a frittata with baby potatoes, a diced carrot, and whatever else is on hand. I think this one will have some sautéed kale, zucchini, and topped with little orange cherry tomatoes and finely chopped green onions. Stay tuned for the recipe!

Tomato Sauce: Years ago, a friend shared this fabulous SmittenKitchen recipe for roasted tomato soup, and ever since, I’ve made a point to cook up and can as much of this soup recipe as possible, to enjoy over the winter. I don’t always use to make the soup, though. It also makes a wonderful pasta sauce. I just love having several jars of it on hand to use for quick winter dinners. So far, I have six jars. This weekend I’ll be making six more.

Sautéed Kale: We like including greens with our breakfast of black beans and eggs. It’s a great way to get some extra vitamins in, and they’re delicious. I just rinse and chop the kale and add it to a pan with some bacon fat, chopped onions and garlic, and sauté until softened. Yum!

Bean Salad: I’ve seen some intriguing recipes for bean salads, and plan to try one of them out with these shelling beans. They’re black coco beans, so I think they’ll make a pretty dish with the orange or yellow tomatoes and green onions.

Salsa: Any tomatoes that don’t get eaten with breakfast or snacked on during the day, or made into sauce, will be made into Eric’s fantastic salsa fresca. Probably one of the last batches of the year. Which means it will be enjoyed with much pomp and circumstance.

Pot Roast OR Roast Chicken: While the daytime temps are still in the mid-70s, the evenings are cool and that makes me start thinking about using my oven again. I have both a pork butt and a whole chicken in the freezer. Which one I decide to roast up will probably be determined by how I feel on the day I go pull one or the other from the freezer to thaw. I’m leaning toward the pot roast so I can use up these cute little potatoes and a couple of carrots. But, you never know.

Zucchini: Honestly, we’re about done with summer squash. I’ve been freezing it to include in pasta dishes and soup all winter. If there’s anything left from these, they’ll get added to that stash.

R/W/L/P


Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.

Accidental City
 
Reading
The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans, by Lawrence N. Powell. I’m reading this book very slowly. I want to cherish each and every chapter section. Every page is chock full of great characterizations, story-telling, and amazing details. I try to read a couple of pages every night, and at least once every 10 minutes, I catch myself stopping to really envision a scene Powell is describing. I highly recommend it if you’re at all interested in New Orleans or Louisiana history. Or even if you’re just a history nerd like me who enjoys watching a master historian perform his craft.

Last Tango In Halifax
 
Watching
Last Tango in Halifax. The main premise is that Celia and Alan (center), were sweet on each other at 16 but were separated by a move and a other circumstances, and now, 60 years later, they have reconnected via Facebook. They agree to meet and their old passion is rekindled. Merging their two families together, though, is not nearly as easy. Which is why this show is so fantastic!

Every character is a whole and perfectly flawed person. How they go through the trials of life — and there are many — reveals their own growth (or lack thereof). Watching them sometimes feels like a kind of therapy. I can say that on at least three different occasions, interactions between characters has given me some new insight into things I’ve experienced in the past.

Plus, you know, yay for a realistic romance between old characters! Heck, even the 45 year old daughters Caroline and Gillian get to have realistic love lives.

Listening
Stevie Wonder. Wandered back into the archives, and have been enjoying the pure funkiness of his early-70s work. Something about the social unrest in my timelines is making me faux-nostalgic for the 70s. All those songs I listened to as a naive child have been making more and more sense the older I get and the more I witness the latest incarnation of the same old struggles.

Hohokum
 
Playing
Hohokum, among other things! I just love this game. I love the puzzles. I love the wild and strange landscape. I even love (ok, maybe that’s a bit strong) the music. It’s soothing and so easy to get sucked into exploring every corner and trying to figure out what needs to be done and how to do it. Honestly, I have to limit myself to only playing it once or twice a week. Otherwise, I’d never get anything else done.

What you you reading, watching, listening to, or playing these days? Anything fun?