What’s In My Cup?

What’s In My Cup?

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I’m sitting in my armchair. It’s early Sunday morning, the sky is unsure of whether to be overcast or to yield to sunshine, an ancient grey kitty snoozes on the sofa, and the ticking of the clock is the only sound disturbing a peaceful silence.

It has been a while since I’ve written anything upbeat, mostly because the death of Anthony Bourdain really hit me like a ton of bricks, and I’ve been feeling quite fragile about it. My tribute to him (while written in one sitting the day-of) took a lot out of me emotionally and it just hasn’t felt right to return to mindless chatter. I wanted to sit in silence for a bit, to mourn him.

But early grey mornings demand spiced tea, and I knew I had to share mine with you– today a loose-leaf masala chai by Mighty Leaf (another tin we got for free when Husband worked at Peet’s). I’m sweetening it with sugar and coconut creamer, but going easy on them because yesterday I officially reached my half-way mark for weight loss! Yay! That’s a journey that has been transformative (literally) and I’m looking forward to writing more about it in the coming months.

Husband comes back today from a four-day camping trip in the high Sierras with his best friend. We haven’t spoken in three days because they’re beyond service range. Usually I’m a big worrier in times like these, but this time around I focused on deep cleaning our apartment and lots of self-care, and I have to say it has been a lovely, quiet weekend with Puffy. I adore these kinds of weekends. I’m so, so grateful to have them. They give me my sanity back after the worries and stressors of the week. Not specifically Husband being away. Just weekends with no obligations except to myself– to tidy, to cook, to read, to putter, as dear Mama-In-Law says. All souls need puttering!

This morning I picked up Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime memoir, and only three pages in I’m already enjoying it very much! As it’s almost true summer, I’m attempting to read more non-fiction, and less re-reads of all types. This seems like a great one!

Hoping you have a blessed Sunday. What’s in your cup this morning?

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Pools, Pies and Other Happy Things

Pools, Pies and Other Happy Things

Hi guys! Hope you had a lovely weekend. It sure did feel summery for the first time in my neck of the woods. It was hot enough to take a dip in the pool for the first time, but I contented myself with reading by the pool yesterday evening instead, lounging luxuriously in a chaise, a bag of new library books at my side.

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I want to share what I’ve been up to lately, which isn’t terribly much, but even so makes me feel like life is moving a light-speed these days! It’s nuts. I remember the heavy, dragging, almost hopeless feeling of slogging through the winter months (reflected in many of my January, February and March posts), feeling like they would simply NEVER end. Now, the days are flying by and I’m trying to keep up with it all!

The main item on our plates at the moment is health and weight (I know, SNORE). I have good news on this score, finally! I know you have patiently read through many posts of mine where I complain about food, cooking, wanting to get fit and lose weight, and all kinds of thoughts on that topic. As it turns out, I’ve finally developed a food routine that works for me, and I’ve lost nine pounds in the last five weeks, just from altering my eating habits. Husband and I are both adding in regular exercise starting this week (expensive gym membership is cancelled and use of the free gym in our complex is being embraced!). This is a fun and gratifying journey, and I hope to continue until I hit my goal. I’ll share more about what I’ve been doing food-wise in a future post. 🙂

As you know, I have a weakness for things from the 1970s. I also have a weakness for embroidery, which I used to do often for fun while watching T.V. with Grandma, or listening to an audiobook. I’ve been wanting to start embroidering again, and happened to stumble upon the greatest find ever while browsing e-Bay last week: Jiffy Stitchery Crewel Embroidery Kits from the 1970s, unopened, listed by the hundreds online for delighted embroiderers/mid-century fanatics like me to purchase!

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Some designs are more complicated than others, some are PAINFULLY iconic of the ’70s vibe (brown and orange owls, anyone?) and most are just adorable. Because they’re very small designs (they all end up fitting into a 5”x7” frame when completed), they can be done in an evening or two. I ordered myself one for around $8 and completed it over two evenings:

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Oh! It makes me so happy! I can’t justify buying up a whole bunch of these at once, but as they’re inexpensive, I’m definitely going to be getting more here and there to do in the evenings. It’s so nice to have a fun craft to do while watching a movie or listening to music. It makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something while relaxing at the same time!

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After all those months of saying I was going to make a pie, I FINALLY did! I made the strawberry balsamic pie from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds cookbook. Husband generously said it was the best pie he’s ever eaten. As all I did was copy a recipe, I can’t take credit for that but it WAS unbelievably scrumptious and even amid this weight loss journey, I was happy to make room in my daily calories for a few pieces.

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Saturday I made homemade Thai iced tea with coconut milk, and visited two different libraries for all kinds of wonderful books and DVDs. While my stack of books is too huge to share in its entirety, these are two books I’m really looking forward to. I began The First Muslim this weekend and am finding it fascinating. I picked it up because I realized that I know almost nothing about Muhammad or the history of Islam, so I think it’ll make me a more educated person. So far, it’s beautifully written. I haven’t started The Year Without A Purchase yet, but it looks so promising!

The next four weekends are filled with get-togethers, camping trips (for Husband), friends, and summery activities of all sorts and I’m reveling in it. I feel more invigorated and motivated than I have in a long time, and so thankful for that. Husband and I have many other things going on behind-the-scenes that are strengthening our relationship, and it feels good to be in the midst of what feels like a renewal, of sorts.

What do you have going on these days? What are some things currently bringing you joy? Take care, all! ❤

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St. Patrick’s Day Greetings

St. Patrick’s Day Greetings

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Look at the extreme rainstorm that was predicted for today! Just look at all that gloom and doom! That’s the San Francisco Bay Area for you. 🙂 At first when I awoke to sun streaming in through the blinds this morning, when I had been expecting a cozy, rain-filled day, I was disappointed…but after a day of cleaning house and cooking, it is SO nice to open the sliding glass doors to the deck and let the fresh spring air into the house. Could it be a lovelier day?!

This is just a little mid-month hello. My last post was decidedly bleak. I mean, it was always bound to be. As much as I love doing daily life/bookish/tea/cozy posts, I started this blog as a way to work through my grief for Grandma. I’ve gained a few more followers here in the last few months (hello followers!!) and for those of you who don’t know me in real life, it might sound unnecessarily maudlin to have such intense grief over…well, a grandmother whose death was predicable, and natural. Grief is different for everyone, but again, for those who don’t know and couldn’t discern from my (absolutely maudlin) grief posts, Gram was truly my best friend and soul-twin. We were as close as two people could really be, I suppose. So, with that in mind, I’m definitely going to still be posting my thoughts on grief, even if they’re pretty heavy. They’re at least TRUE, and I’m getting a lot out of giving voice to my current truth. Thanks for bearing with me, and being such loving supporters, even if only by reading. 🙂

BUT MOVING ON…happy St. Patrick’s Day!! In honor of the occasion, I made the best vegan Shepard’s Pie:

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Holy ding-dongs, did it come out good! The filling is a rich tomato-y mix of diced onion, garlic, carrot, celery and lentils with lots of rich seasonings like smoked paprika and tamari and the mash is made of Yukon Gold potatoes and rice milk.

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I am loving eating mostly-vegan these days. It’s very simple, very plant-based, very low fat and packed with nutrition (at least, the interpretation that I am following) and guess what?!?!

I’ve lost five pounds!! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!! That’s 1/4 of the way to my goal for 2018! It really was only lost in the last two or so weeks because three weeks ago I was really in dire straits– I had been consuming wholesome but extremely high calorie food and eating way too much of it and I actually tipped the scales to hit a new high. Wow. Way to start of my year of weight loss. But I am now five pounds down, and I’m very happy. It is so much easier to stick to things when you actually begin to see progress!

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Last weekend I cleaned off the piles of dead leaves from our little deck, threw away a lot of accumulated trash and dead plants that were out there and just tidied it up. It now looks like this, and as I sit in my living room, door open to the delicious breeze blowing through, piles of clean laundry on my rug, just having finished an hour-long conversation with oldest friend M, I am just so happy to be where I am. The days go by and they turn into weeks, and plans come to fruition and new plans are made. Life goes on, and even with its sorrow and pain and confusion, it’s wonderful.

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This is another view from my deck. I think I’m going to put on my walking shoes and take a long walk over to the grocery store to pick up sushi rice for making mango-avocado rolls for lunch tomorrow.

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And here’s my little alien kitty, Puffy (or Miss Puff, or Poof, or Poo-Bear, or Poof Ball, or just plain Poo…all semi-unfortunate but adorable nicknames that we’ve bestowed upon her) staring into the wilds of the deck. She is just as blind as a bat these days, poor thing, but she doesn’t really seem to mind. I catch her sitting in odd places, like in the hallway staring at the wall just a few inches from her nose, that she’d never be if she was still sighted. But she’s a kitty, and she’s doing just fine.

How is your week going? Hope everyone is having a great St. Pat’s and a great March!