Holidays

Happy 4th of July!!!

Well, tomorrow.

Look, there’s some shit going on in America right now. We haven’t made it anywhere close to the ideals the Founding Fathers had in mind, which is disappointing since it’s been 200something years. I mean, it’s better – widespread slavery isn’t a thing, women and minorities get to vote, and so forth – but we have a lot of work to do. Inequality is sort of our thing at the moment.

Still, I like being American. I think we could take lessons from a lot of other countries, but I think we have potential. If we can get out of this shit show.

Either way – I’m going to go grill something meaty and drink an adult beverage and celebrate that we began our journey to freedom on this day so long ago. So there’s that.

Sarah

photography

My Favorite Pictures From June

There haven’t been many picture-taking opportunities in June because, you know, we haven’t gone anywhere. Actually, I should have taken pictures of our new grill. Maybe in July.

  1. Tau enjoys getting a belly rub on the concrete of the back porch.
  2. Tau explores the griddle we’ve been storing on the back porch.
  3. Tau views his domain.

4. The one place we’ve been since the pandemic started – a restaurant called Old Town Crepes. We’ve gone exactly once since all this started. We get the khachapuri (Georgian cheese and egg bread) every single time we do get to go. God, it’s delicious.
5. The note that came with the chocolate covered strawberries Shane sent me.
6. One of my all-time favorites, Tau is curled up with my stuffed animals on the bed. I sleep with either Ruff (the dog) or Buspar (the sock monkey) every night.

Planner Talk

Planner Talk Vol. 1

Even though 2020 is keeping me inside, I actually have several things to keep track of, so I got myself a planner. I’ve had a planner off and on for years, but actually haven’t really used one in the past year or so. My new one isn’t one of the popular ones – Erin Condren, Passion Planner, Hobonichi, or a bullet journal – it’s just a $17 planner from Target I got because I thought it was cute.

Beginning my blog again, owning a house, & trying to get more involved in the community means that I actually have things going on. We’re also trying to clear out the freezers (in case of hurricane power loss) through making dinners, so I’m planning menus out as well. I need a lot of space for lists, too, since that’s kind of my deal.

This is what I settled on. The entire week on one page, and I don’t know if you can see it well, but the days are set up in 3 columns with a very faint line between them. It’s an 8x11in planner, so there’s a lot of room to write. The other page is set up in convenient little boxes, but they also have titles which is annoying. I don’t love that.

I’m not a huge planner decorator, but the pineapple tape over the titles is a winner. I might even be a little extra next week and whiteout the titles as well. Living on the wild side. Anyway, I’m using the first column for personal stuff like days off, when Shane works, church, appointments, etc. Obviously, it’s a little sparse at the moment. Skipping around a bit, the third column is what blogs are being posted this week. Not sure why I put “write” in there.

The second column is housework. This is the first week I’m using this, so I’m not sure how the system will change over time. Every day I’ve put a room (or two) to tidy/clean, along with “laundry” every day. However, I won’t have laundry every day, it’s just to remind me to check to see if I do. Kitchen is cleaned daily. Saturdays/Sundays are for chores that will rotate. I haven’t decided what those will be this weekend. Cat duties means changing all the litter in the litter box, I clean it out every day.

That second page is super helpful for making lists. Things I need to do but not on a specific day, the week’s menu (well, the recipes that might get made this week), and I’m sure I’ll fill in the other parts.

I even like the habit tracker – I’ve been wanting to start morning & evening routines and it’s an easy way to track if I cleaned the kitchen every day.

I’m interested in how my system changes over time, or if I keep using the planner at all, so I’m going one of these Planner Talks every month. That’ll be cool, especially as more time goes by and I don’t have this planner anymore.

Sarah

Life & Family

In Which I Talk About My Mom

Next Wednesday marks a year since my mom died. Super positive way to start a post, eh? But it’s what I’m thinking about right now. What complicates matters is that my cat died the day after my birthday (back in March) and thinking about my mom makes me also think about him and it’s a vicious cycle. The other cat is acting sketch (aloof, grumpy, etc) so he’s not helpful. Shane is my rock, as per usual. Today 4 years since his dad died, so we’re not a super fun/happy household. Anyway, in honor of my mom, here’s a couple of stories about her.

When I was learning the state capitals, I made my mom help. I laid on my parents’ bed and she sat on the side to quiz me. I will never forget her gleefully calling out “Idaho, Boise!” because it was slightly off-color sounding. She loved a good kind of dirty joke. She had the best laugh.

You know what else she loved? Phallic vegetables. I got many texts of a phallic veggie or several.

When Shane moved in while we were still in college, people told my mom to cut me off financially. Because Jesus, I guess. I didn’t rely on my parents for much, anyway. Insurance, I think. We lived in a house my parents owned so Mom told them 2 things: she’s over 18, she’s an adult and that she’d rather have Shane paying her rent than living there unofficially for free.

Which doesn’t mean she approved of Shane/our relationship right away. I was too young to be so involved with a guy, I should live my life a little first. He wasn’t a warm person (in her eyes), and so forth. She came around, though, and eventually loved Shane.

We went to New Orleans together once, where she saw her first Pride Parade. She loved it. We also walked down Bourbon St, she saw dancers with just mechanical tape over their nips and exclaimed that she wanted to take a picture for my dad – who was in Afghanistan at that point. Every night we went out to dinner and I’d get coffee and she’d get dessert (or the other way around) and it was so nice.

We had a complicated relationship, which is pretty normal for mothers & daughters, but I can say without hesitation that she was my best friend. It’s painful every single day, but it’s so much worse right now. Luckily, I know she’d want me happy so I don’t feel guilt for enjoying life.

I know this isn’t a post many will read, if anyone. It’s kind of depressing, honestly. But I had to get it out. Thanks, Internet, for letting me ramble.

Oh, the image up there is one of the last texts she sent me – I had told her someone told me I was too quiet.

Sarah

Reading

Summer Time Reading List

Summer starts on Saturday! I wasn’t going to post this until Friday, but I’m more interested in this than whatever else I was going to write this week.

I am a huge mood reader, so reading lists are generally not very useful for me. However, I love making them. Right now, I’m really into space fiction (I’m calling it that instead of sci-fi because I want it in space), the apocalypse, and fantasy so that’s what I’ve loaded this one up with. That’s no guarantee that I’ll still be into that next month though – I’ve been reading historical romance for most of this year.

Since I got a Kindle for Christmas, I’ve been reading a lot more ebooks than physical books, so I made sure I picked 5 physical books from my actual bookcase.

An Audiobook & What I’m Currently Reading

(Audiobook) SpecOps (Expeditionary Force #2) – Craig Alanson ~ I finished the first one in the series recently and seriously loved it. If you enjoy space-based fiction, aliens, alien invasions, physics that may or may not be real, and humor this is a series you should read.
Outbreak: A Post Apocalyptic Survival Thriller (Surviving the Virus Book 1) – Ryan Casey ~ Yes, I’m currently reading a book about an apocalypse caused by a virus during a pandemic. Don’t judge me.
A Year Without the Grocery Story – Karen Morris ~ Okay, not going to lie, the instability of the world has hit me. The Wendy’s down the road doesn’t even have hamburgers right now. While I think we’re good on food, I want to learn more so in the future

5 Physical Books

All The Weyrs of Pern – Anne McCaffrey (my favorite author OF ALL TIME) ~ I haven’t read Anne McCaffrey in so so long. My favorite series actually isn’t on Pern, it’s the Freedom series, but I want to reread all the books I used to love and this is on the list. It’s a definite comfort read.
Revenger (Revenger #1) – Alastair Reynolds ~ I’ve kind of put off reading his works since hard sci-fi has never been my favorite genre. I care that there’s artificial gravity, not how fast the habitat has to spin. I recently read a hard sci-fi book by Neal Stephenson (Seveneves) that I managed to really love even if I did have to re-read part of the book repeatedly to grasp the science, so I decided to try more hard sci-fi.
Altered Starscape & Darkness Falling (Andromedan Dark #1 & #2) – Ian Douglas ~ I’ve actually read Altered Starscape already, but it was long enough ago that only remember bits and pieces. It’s one of my favorite genres – a generation ship.
Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood – William J. Mann ~ I’m a huge true crime nerd, especially historical murders. William Desmond Taylor’s murder in the 1920s is generally regarded as unsolved and I think this book tries to lay out a solution, so I’m intrigued.

5 Ebooks

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon ~ Did I already start this book and then stop for literally no reason? Yes. It’s supposed to be amazing, and the part I read was super good, so I’m stoked to pick it back up.
The Pioneer (The Pioneer #1) – Bridget Tyler ~ I love a good “humanity leaves Earth for the stars” novel, and I do enjoy a good YA book once in awhile, so this has made the list. I think this’ll be a good book to read while laying out in the backyard.
Children of Time (Children of Time #1) – Adrian Tchaikovsky ~ Another “humanity leaves Earth for the stars” story. Apparently when I decided I was back into sci-fi I went hard on those. In the description the phrase “mankind’s worst nightmare” so I’m even more into that.
Broken Lines – James Hunt ~ This is more of a novella, but I thought it would be fun to read a not-virus-related end of society story this summer. I don’t know much except for it’s about an EMP & the main character is separated from their family. These are incredibly hit or miss.
Spirit of the Bayonet (Ōkami Forward Trilogy, #1) – Ted Russ ~ This would be the military sci-fi entry for the summer. These are also hit or miss, because if the story skews too far military instead of science-fiction I stop being interested. Depending on the characters/character development though, I can take more of the military though, so we’ll see.

I’ll update at the end of the summer (if I remember, and if the world is still a thing) to let you know if I read any of these, and what else I read – if anything.

~Sarah

Reviews

My Favorite Podcasts

This is in *no way* a full list of podcasts that I love – not even close. I wouldn’t even say this is a full list of my favorite podcasts. These are just the 10 that came to mind. I did keep them evenly split, so a lot of Paranormal/True Crime podcasts were left out since I didn’t want to tip the scales too much.

Everything Except Paranormal/True Crime

The Dollop – This is the podcast that got me into podcasts. I love history and The Dollop is an amazing source of little-known American history. I have learned so much about the weird (and frequently awful) history of my country while laughing almost constantly.
Sawbones – Another history comedy podcast, but this time focused on medical history. The wife is a family doctor and the husband is a comedian and the whole thing is hilarious. You learn some gross stuff though, just be aware.
Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – I almost put this under paranormal/true crime because of the conspiracy theories, but I think it deals with enough true not-crime that it can go in this section. Some of the episodes are hit or miss, but it’s a quality listen.
Stuff You Missed in History Class – I love history (obviously), and this is another podcast that dovetails into that interest. They try to focus on lesser known parts of history, like The Dollop, but aren’t restricted to American history and the hosts aren’t comedians. They *are* passionate about what they’re talking about and are delightful to listen to.
The Dream – Another one that could go under ‘true crime’, but is more of a study into why people fall for pyramid schemes and how they take advantage of people. It’s a really interesting insight into human nature and I wish there were more episodes.

Paranormal/True Crime

Wife of Crime – Russ is a New Yorker with very little interest in true crime, Jess is his wife who has quite a lot of interest in true crime. Somehow Jess convinced Russ that he should let her tell him true crime stories on a podcasts, thankfully. I’ll be 100% truthful – Russ reminds me so much of Shane that I can’t not love the podcast. They think very similarly and I can relate *so hard* to Jess’ annoyance at the stuff Russ says, but also her clear love for him. #VoteForRuss
The Missionary – You could argue that this isn’t a ‘true crime’ podcast, but an investigation of some sad happenings. I would argue that a sting of deaths at an unlicensed medical facility run by a Christian missionary counts as true crime. The podcast also has a really interesting exploration of ‘white saviors’ and performative missionary work that’s really interesting.
And That’s Why We Drink – Paranormal + True Crime = my favorite. I get to hear ghost stories and true crime stories in the same podcast, and the hosts are pretty awesome, so that doesn’t hurt. I seriously love their relationship and their personalities.
Two Girls, One Ghost – Similar to the one above, but only paranormal stories. I don’t know what it is about two friends hanging out talking about creepy things but I’m here for it.
Real Life Ghost Stories – She loves ghost stories, he hates them, they both have fabulous accents, and they do a horror movie review every week so I don’t have to watch them. I really enjoy hearing both of their thoughts on the stories they tell.

I’m sure I’ll make more podcast-related lists if I hang around long enough. I wonder if there are good food podcasts…I’ll have to check that out.

-Sarah

Bucket List

My (Coronavirus) Summertime Bucket List

Why do I love bucket lists so much? I’m sure I put a few of these on here in the past. Let’s see what I can do during a pandemic-filled summer.

  • Make ice cream. I love homemade banana ice cream, and I can’t wait to break out the KitchenAid ice cream maker and make my own. Maybe some strawberry ice cream too.
  • Have a (non-beach day related) picnic with my snazzy new mint cooler.
  • Go 24 hours without internet or tv. I think I can do this one pretty easily, but who knows.
  • Get a fire pit setup in the backyard and have s’mores with Shane. S’mores are the best thing ever, by the way.
  • Finish a puzzle! We already started one (Shane and his mom helped me out), so hopefully this one is an easy one to mark off the list.
  • Make a drip sand castle – apparently I missed out on the vital part of childhood that was making drip sand castles at the beach.
  • Three words: breakfast for dinner. And I don’t mean a piece of toast eaten standing at the counter. I mean chocolate chip pancakes and bacon next to some french toast or something like that. Decadent breakfast for dinner, if you will.
  • Be a beach bum! I want to spend plenty of time being lazy on the beach while staying far away from other people. Why else live at the beach, right?
  • Make some Southern staples – fried green tomatoes is the only one coming to mind. Maybe corn bread the way Shane likes (hard as a rock and fried). To be determined.
  • Finally, my biggest goal this summer is to enjoy myself. The pressure, drama, and intensity of the world outside of myself is too much for me to make lofty goals and be disappointed when I don’t meet them.

I’ll see you back here in September to see how I did.

Sarah

Cooking · Life & Family

Remembering My Mom Through Food

I think about my mom a lot, sometimes I imagine the conversations we would have about whatever’s going on in my life. I’m lucky in that while memories hurt, I enjoy thinking about her. I still like to poke fun at her, to be honest.

A lot of memories associated with my mom center on food. Dinners growing up, holidays, special occasions – and the random gourmet level recipes she made with my brother. But even more than that there are specific dishes that are tied so tightly to her in my memory that even considering making them makes me feel closer to her.

She made a specific potato salad – one with Russian dressing – that wasn’t in the recipe box I got after her death. I found a close-enough version online and while it needs some tweaks, it immediately made me fall into a well of (happy) memories. “Brown Rice” aka stick of butter rice that would be fought over by everyone. It was the best side to another Mom memory – soy sauce marinaded flank steak with horseradish.

I’m realizing that the rest of these are pretty standard family holiday foods – mashed potatoes with “too much” garlic, green bean casserole, crescent rolls from a can, specific types of cookies, fudge, etc. The sight of a little dish with tiny gherkins and both green and black olives. There have to be both types of olives, it’s the law. Even the process of canning or making fresh pasta makes me think of my mom. I want to learn to can things because my mom did and I want to share that with her.

She also passed down an interest in grocery stores in other places. I think it comes from growing up/living in a small town – we had to drive 2 hours away to get a lot of the ingredients my mom and brother needed. Standing in a fancy grocery store buying things that my childhood home’s stores would have never carried is imprinted in my mind. And getting the mini coffee at Fresh Market feeling very grown up.

We went to New Orleans once, just the two of us, and we hit up the grocery stores as soon as we could. Regional differences in food and the way grocery store are made are a real thing. Shane has indulged my need to check out grocery stores in the cities we visit for years now.

There were so many long, loud dinners and those memories really carry me through some of my worst times.

Sorry if this is rambling and doesn’t make much sense. I just wanted to get this “down on paper”.

Sarah

House · Life & Family

New House Love

We bought a house! I’m not sure if I ever thought we’d buy one, to be honest. We have a ton of student loan debt which makes a purchase like this more intimidating, but renting a decent place wasn’t actually that much cheaper. On top of that, Shane was always fairly anti-being-a-house-owner for a really long time, but it all came together and now we own a house.

We’ve been in it for about 2 months and we’re still settling in – though I’d say we’re more settled than not. We have space for everything we need/want, we just have to figure out the best way to organize it.

Our kitchen is *so* much bigger than any kitchen we’ve ever had, and it’s honestly one of the reasons we bought this house. There still isn’t enough cabinet room for all the gadgets and gizmos we own, so a few things have migrated to an upstairs storage closet. I definitely want to find a space for all of it downstairs.

It’s been really fun to watch Shane turn into a homeowner. That’s a man who loves his new lawn – he has sprinklers, hoses, fertilizer (and a fertilizer spreader), a new lawnmower & trimmer, and so forth. He’s always doing something in the yard. I really enjoy going out there too, but definitely not as much as he does.

I’ve been trying to figure out how you’re supposed to take care of a house. Shane’s not a huge planner. I know if I don’t write down all the things we’re supposed to do when we’re supposed to do them, neither of us will remember and then our air filters won’t get changed for a year. But how do you know what to do, when, and how often? I’m still working on figuring all that out.

Every so often, we’ll look at each other and just go “we *own* this house”. It’s truly mind-blowing that we own a whole entire house. We’re actual adults now. I guess we were before, but there’s something different about owning a house. It’s kind of old fashioned, but I guess owning a house signals ‘adulthood’ to me.

Sarah

Life & Family

2020 so far…

I’m not sure there has been a year crazier than 2020 in a very very long time. This year really has had it all – death in my family (expected and unexpected), a pandemic & a quarantine, murder hornets, a new house, new hobbies, Australia was on fire, WWIII almost happened, there’s a general uprising going on, and on and on.

I debated whether I wanted to go over the world happenings here, but oh my God I really don’t. Maybe if I do a 2020 recap in December I’ll cover all of that – maybe in a timeline format. I’m going to assume that everyone knows what a trash fire the first 5 months of 2020 were.

Against the backdrop of the entire world falling apart, Shane and I bought a new house. We actually moved on March 30th and the announcement that SC was going to start shutting down was made on March 31st. I’ve been incredibly privileged during the pandemic in that I was able to transition to working from home and Shane is working normally, but it’s still been a really weird time. Before moving I just kept saying “if we have to quarantine, I want to quarantine in my own house, not an apartment”. We actually moved the date forward from April 6th so that we had a better chance of beating the quarantine. We were already social distancing, so there weren’t any handshakes, and everything got wiped down and disinfected after the movers left. Over the past 2 months, we’ve been making the house into our home. Which sounds cheesy, but it’s true. We’ve unpacked pretty much everything, hung art, bought a guest bed, and Tau has barfed on the carpet. It’s a new build, so we’re waiting to paint until our 11th month warranty fixes are made next year.

We planted a little, tiny, garden in some pots and I’m in love with them. We planted 2 cherry tomatoes, a squash, a zucchini, a regular tomato, and a habanero plant. I also got a ton of herb plants (6?) from my mother in law. An herb garden is something I’ve always wanted, so it was really special to make cuttings and plant them with her. Tomato plants are something my mom always had while I was growing up and are one of the things that mean ‘homeownership’ to me.

In January, my aunt passed away. I got to know that part of my family a little bit better, and I really can’t wait to get together with them and spend some time just hanging out with them. Hopefully sometime this summer the pandemic will chill out and we can meet up. Then in March my love Laurie died. It’s hit me so hard – I know he was “just a cat” but he was something special and I will always miss him. I think about him & my mom multiple times a day.

Since moving into the house, and being in quarantine, we’ve started cooking so often! Way more often than we ever have before, for sure. It’s honestly brought happiness to me for a lot different reasons, but mostly I love eating something I (or Shane) made. I think I’m more into it than Shane, which is a reversal. He used to be all about trying new recipes and now I’m the one pushing for cooking things. I think it’s because my interest is skyrocketing because it’s so much easier to cook now so I want to do it all the time and he sees it as a special activity to not do all the time. Huge fan.

I have so much to talk about that there’s no way for me to fit it all into this post. I really hope 2020 calms down over the next few months, but every time I think we’ve turned a corner something else bananas happens so I’ll just take whatever comes.

Sarah