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

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

Life & Family

My Return to Blogging

It’s been a year since I wrote a blog post.

Shortly after my last post, my mom died. It was sudden and devastating. I lost my best friend in addition to my mom. I can’t describe to you the depths I’ve been in for the past year. I like to think I cover it well, but I haven’t been myself for most of the past 12 months. My soul hurt. That’s the only way I can explain it. And honestly, it still does, even though I’m becoming more and more myself.

Another sudden and devastating death happened on March 11th – the day after my birthday. Laurie, the light of my life, died gasping for breath by my side. It was horrific.

So, along with a worldwide pandemic, the death of my aunt, and Tau struggling to find stability, it’s been a rough year. Also, Shane’s snake keeps trying to eat itself. And I keep finding it when it’s trying to eat itself. We think we have it under control now, so here’s hoping. (See below)

Which isn’t to say nothing good has happened – we bought a new house, I have a new niece, Tau has adjusted to the move better than we expected, we planted a garden (kinda), I was able to move easily to working from home during quarantine, and so on and so forth. The bad just looms large in my memory.

Recently, I started thinking about how nice it would be to sit down on nights that Shane’s in bed early and just do some blogging. I have some pen-pals to write, and a journal, but there’s something different about this format. Even if people don’t read it, it still feels different.

I’m not going to remove any of my old posts, but I’m not going to read them again either. They can just live on.

Here’s to blogging once again. 🙂

Sarah

PS – Before I get any comments on the health of Sarge the Snake – he’s over 15 (life expectancy is 10-20), his new environment is consistently much warmer than he’s used to so he gets hungrier a lot faster than he used to (which in turn was a lot faster than we were used to), he got super stressed when we moved, & honestly California King Snakes are really really dumb so sometimes they happen to think their own tails belong to other snakes (they’re snake eaters). He’s old, hot, hungry, and dumb so he munches on his tail sometimes. We dumped some ice on him and threw him a thawed mouse and all was good. Obviously, it’s not a good thing and I would rather it never happen again, but he’s done himself no permanent damage and we figured out how to keep it from happening (much more frequent feedings) so there’s that. Also, I check on him *constantly* throughout the day to head any weirdness off at the pass.

Life & Family

Spring Happenings

I’m writing this 3 months to the day after I published my last post. I wasn’t sure I was going to start blogging again, to be honest. Not for any really specific reason – I just have a lot going on and I’m always incredibly tired after work. Almost every day, though, I think about a blog post idea or think about writing something, so here we are. Anyway, on to what’s happened in the past 3 months.

I got a new job! I won’t talk about it too much, except to say that I love it and I’m SO MUCH HAPPIER. I was definitely burnt out and working in a toxic environment so now that I’m in a different environment doing different work it’s like a breath of fresh air. It’s definitely a very tough job though – I’m a project manager now in a brand new industry and I have a lot to learn. I’m having difficulty with parts of it, but nothing that’s insurmountable. I really enjoy the challenge of it all. I’m also loving working in an office….though I definitely miss hanging out with the cats sometimes. Laurie will forever be my favorite office mate and that will never change. Really the only downside is that I’m still (I’ve been there about a month and a half) so exhausted when I get home I don’t do anything productive. I keep waiting for that to wear off, but it hasn’t yet.

Shane and I have been spending a lot of time doing stuff on the weekends – local festivals, going to the beach, we went to Charleston for a friend’s birthday, visiting friends & family, and so on. I used to not want to leave the house on the weekends, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’m hoping to keep that going all summer and beyond.

Overall, life has been getting better. Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping in touch with my pen-pals and it’s now at the point where I get really bad anxiety thinking about it. I’m working through it, though.

I need to try to get some stuff done before I try to squeeze in an episode of Handmaid’s Tale before bed.

~Sarah~

Life & Family · Monthly Recaps

January Wrap-up

What I Read

  1. Duchess by Deception ~ Marie Force {ARC from Goodreads}
  2. Alaskan Holiday ~ Debbie Macomber {ARC from Goodreads}
  3. Avalon ~ Mindee Arnett
  4. The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House ~ Stephanie Lam {begun, not finished yet}
  5. An Impartial Witness (Bess Crawford, 2) ~ Charles Todd {begun, not finished yet}

What I Watched

Movies:

TV Shows:

What I Cooked/Ate

  1. Hummus wraps with veggies and {a fairly mild} hot sauce. They also have cucumbers, onions, mushrooms, and banana peppers.
  2. Sweet potato hash with chorizo and eggs.
  3. Eggs Bennies, of course. We’ve been cutting back but it still happens.
  4. The traditional Steak n Shake monthly meal.
  5. We also had pizza twice and got Chinese take-out once. I’m trying to not eat out, but it was a rough month. This was not the total amount of fast food I ate in January.

What I Did

Image of a sunrise at the beach with a bird in the foreground

Sat on the beach with Shane as the sun rose on New Years Day. A super hopeful beginning to the year.

Visited Huntington Beach State Park with Shane and his mom. We went to see Atalaya again, since she’s never seen it. I love that park.

I also spent a weekend at my parents’ place. I stopped by on my way home from campus on Friday and left on Sunday morning. Shane even came and spent the night with me on Saturday night. This is big because my parents’ dog has a habit of biting at Shane.

I can’t talk abut a lot of stuff that happened this month, but basically it’s been a really rough month and I spent *a lot* of time sitting on the couch playing Solitaire on my phone.

Used a couple bath bombs from Christmas and they made the water look like Kool-Aid. Big fan.

Finally found a doctor down here. The appointment was rescheduled twice but 3rd times the charm. I really like my doctor and she’s super responsive.

~S~

Life & Family

Bullet Journal – 1 Month Update

I definitely bit off more than I could chew…again. It’s not super surprising, considering that’s kind of my thing, but I’ve changed it up for February so it should go a bit better.

What Worked

Almost nothing, honestly. That’s not entirely true – while I really only used one of the month-specific spreads (and only made a single weekly layout), I actually did use some of the longer-term Collections.

The monthly spread I did use was the Read/Watched spread that I used to make in my journal. It’s literally just a list of stuff I read and stuff I watched over the month. Books in the top, movies in the middle, and tv shows at the bottom.

January was a slow month in terms of things I needed to track, so the only spreads I really used were the lists of tv shows and movies to watch and the next books to read (aka a list of books I already own) to mark stuff off of.

The best use of my bullet journal was list making, which makes sense. It’s kind of soothing to write my lists in there, for whatever reason. I also looked at my Winter Bucket List and 2019 Resolutions spreads a few times as well.

What Didn’t

Roughly everything, obviously. Mostly the trackers, actually. I didn’t use my letter tracker or my library tracker at all and my Thankful For tracker and Spending Log fizzled out super quickly. Habit trackers didn’t catch on either. I have a planner, so the weekly spreads felt redundant – why am I redrawing something I already have?

I also had a rough month in real life, so that may have something to do with it. I know that’s why I didn’t do any meal planning in there, I didn’t eat in a way that made any sense for most of the month.

The Plan

So for February I’m going back to basics. I’m pretty much just going to do Read/Watch spread and weekly to-do lists without any daily separation. I’m also going to set up a meal planning spread, because that’s actually something I would really like to start doing.

Anyway, there’s the update. Hope your January went well!

~Sarah~

Life & Family

20 Random Things About Me

As a child of the MySpace era, I did lists like this all the time as a teenager. I haven’t done one in so long, so this is pretty nostalgic for me. Maybe I should break out the 5000 Question Survey from LiveJournal – I was in college when that came out so I never actually did it, but I was aware of it. Okay, I won’t really do that – I have things to do in my spare time.

  1. The best day of my life was the day I picked Laurie up from getting all his teeth removed and he laid on my chest for about 30 minutes. He’s never done that before or since. Laurie is one of my cats, if you’re new here.
  2. My first job was as a maintenance worker with the Youth Conservation Corps at a Revolutionary War site. We did things like pull VW buses out of the woods, broke apart house foundations, spread mulch, and moved enormous piles of bricks by tossing them brick by brick at each other. I loved that job.
  3. My grandfather asked my mom to give her last baby his family name since his son wasn’t having children. My parents threw the name I was supposed to have (Victoria Elizabeth) out the window & let my oldest brother pick my new first name.
  4. I love archaeology/anthropology/history/anything old & follow a bunch of specialty news sites to keep up with developments. I wish it was a feasible career for me, but it isn’t for a variety of reasons.
  5. I’m really interested in the first half of the 1900s at the moment (especially the period between the World Wars), but will also happily read about any time period other than my own.
  6. I read/watch a lot of British media, and I’m not sure why. I think it’s because they do a lot more that’s set in the past, which lines up with my interests.
  7. I’m also obsessed with the future & space.
  8. I did not mean to become a web developer and am frequently surprised by how easily I slipped into the role. I never thought I’d work a desk job.
  9. As a kid, the first thing I can remember wanting to be when I grew up was a farmer.
  10. I spent the first 6 years of my life in Germany & the Netherlands and the only reminders of my time overseas are my intense love of Brie, a small Delft collection, and a plethora of pictures.
  11. The local German registrar rejected my middle name and my parents had to appeal to get it approved. Even though I’m not German and my name technically followed the German naming laws.
  12. I want to write at least a few novels, but I get so worried about being terrible at it that I never get past writing basic scenes or background information. One day.
  13. I have always wanted to do a 101 in 1001 project, but it’s never worked out with my life. I’ve been thinking about trying again starting on my 32nd birthday in March, because life is never going to settle down so I might as well try again now.
  14. I am a dog person who happens to also be a cat person. People talk about how unfriendly cats are, but I appreciate the sass as much as I appreciate a dog’s pureness.
  15. I’m using DuoLingo to start learning German. At different times in my life I’ve tried to learn French, German, Spanish, and Welsh. I decided to focus on one, and somehow German won. I think it’s mostly because it’s a fun language to speak. Welsh is like speaking in poems, so I’ll probably do that next. Neither of these languages will probably ever come in handy.
  16. I started Bullet Journaling this month, but haven’t really kept up with the actual planning part of it. It’s fun for brainstorming and making lists, keeping track of movies, books, etc, but I don’t really touch the weekly situation. I think I started too ambitious.
  17. We have moved every 9-12 months for the past 5ish years and I’m ready to stay in this apartment for another year.
  18. I love a good hot beverage – hot chocolate, tea, coffee – and generally have at least one cup of hot chocolate or tea in the afternoon/evening. Coffee every morning.
  19. My favorite genres are science fiction, fantasy, historical, and suspense/mystery. Both reading and watching. I love watching sci-fi as much as reading it
  20. I would love to travel all over the country and world, and I have a list of places I want to see. Mostly I want to go back to Maine, though.

~Sarah~

Beach · Life & Family

New Year’s Day 2019

Shane had to work on New Year’s Day, but was done at 5am, so he came and woke me up (as well as made me breakfast). He was called back in, but was able to get done and back to the apartment before 7, so I just hopped into his car and we headed to the beach. It’s the first time we’ve gone to see the sunrise at the beach and it was lovely. It really was the perfect start to 2019.

I figured out how to optimize the camera for sunrise after I started shooting, so some pictures are much nicer than others.

These were taken directly before the sun began to rise – we really had the beach mostly to ourselves. A lady in a beach chair, a few people scattered down the beach, and a man with a metal detector (he showed up later) were really all there were. It started out really foggy, but cleared up really nicely.

We ended up in front of a bunch of seagulls and they were really fun to photograph. Apparently I love to take pictures of birds. Which is weird, since I hate birds in general.

Shane brought the drone he got for Christmas and took some great pictures. My favorite one is above – a stylized panoramic view of the beach that his drone’s software compiled.

Here’s to 2019.