Viking Chicken (April A~Z Challenge)

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I was on-line wandering around Pinterest a few weeks ago, looking for Bullet Journal inspiration. A new month was coming up, and I was planning to change a few things. I’m finally very pleased with my habit tracker. Though I’m still fine tuning the list of habits that I track (remove “strength training,” as I haven’t done it in 2 months; add “sweep” to see if it makes me more diligent about doing it regularly…), the layout is working for me. I like the sleep tracker I’ve been using, too, and I feel like my sleep patterns have actually improved since I’ve been keeping track.

I was thinking, though of switching to a weekly format for my daily pages. I clearly don’t need one whole page per day. For a while, I was giving each day whatever space it needed, but then I had to wait for one day to be finished before I set up the next day. I like to get my month’s worth of daily pages laid out at the beginning of the month, so I can fill in appointments, work schedule, et cetera. Most recently, two days shared a page, four days in a two-page spread. Still, I have often had extra room where I can scribble in a little drawing, or add a quotation.

It would be nice, I thought, to have a whole week on one two-page spread. The problem being that there are SEVEN days in a week. Not six. Not eight, no. That would be too easy. Seven. Which does not divide evenly by two. So, I was looking on Pinterest to get some ideas of how others have made the ungainly odd number work. I got some good ideas, too. But not before I veered far off track. Pinterest, you know.

Anyway, as I breezed through day beds and studio spaces, encaustic art and weight loss plans, I was intrigued by a recipe titled Medieval Roast Chicken. I could see two ingredients (apple cider vinegar, 4-5 lb. chicken)in the photo, but the recipe wasn’t offered. So I went to Google to see what I could come up with. The Food Network had a recipe with that title, but the ingredients were different (no apple cider vinegar). But, down the list a ways, there was a recipe for Viking Chicken…so I had a look at that.

Viking Chicken is simply a chicken seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika, cooked in a hot oven over a bed of fruits and vegetables. They suggested many fruits that would work, including lemon, apples, grapefruit, tangerines and mangoes. I had apples, and they were just starting to get a little wrinkly, so I was happy to have a use for them. The vegetables I used were the same ones they recommended: onion, carrot, and celery.

I baked it all in an uncovered roaster at 400 degrees for about an hour and a half. The chicken was moist and good, with a crispy skin. The onions hadn’t softened as much as I’d have liked, but the carrots and celery were done. I hadn’t expected to like the apples cooked in this way…but it doesn’t hurt to try something new, right? It turns out, I loved them! The salt from the chicken toned down their sweetness, and they weren’t mushy at all, but a nice flavor with the meat. I sauteed a mound of kale to fill out the plate, and was pleased with the whole meal.

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Uniforms

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I’ve had jobs through my life that required a uniform. Working as a student nurse-aide when I was in high school, I wore a yellow-and-white striped dress with a name tag. Clear stockings and white serviceable shoes completed the ensemble. Later, as a full-fledged nurse aide, I wore a similar uniform in plain white.

As a waitress at the Shamrock Bar & Restaurant on Beaver Island, my first uniforms were ugly polyester green and white seersucker pantsuits. Next, they went to even uglier long green jumpers. Finally, Shamrock T-shirts with my own slacks or shorts became the best solution. Having worked there for more than twenty years, I had quite a collection of vintage Shamrock T-shirts! I did a short stint of serving at the Big Boy, whose uniform – at that time – was a rust brown polyester dress with a gold striped neckerchief, clear stockings and brown shoes. The other restaurants I’ve worked at – the Pretzel Bell, the Old Rectory and the Beaver Island Lodge – have had simple uniforms consisting of black slacks and white blouses.

When I got divorced, knowing that my budget did not allow for much spending on my wardrobe, I implemented something of a uniform for myself. I assessed my clothing, and made a plan. I figured that if I only purchased items in back, white and denim, everything I owned would coordinate. My mother, who hated to see me dressed all in black, could be counted on to brighten my wardrobe with Christmas gifts of bright sweaters. I have maintained this “uniform” now for more than thirty years.

Lately, I’ve been reading about the capsule wardrobe, and the benefits of living with less. I could certainly use to pare down the amount of clothing I own! After a certain age, I settled into a style of dressing that suits me, and stuck with it; there is little change to keep up with current trends.

I try to maintain my size, with no more than a little change up or down through the year.  I find that I rarely wear things out any more, so the items I have last a long time.  So, even with a minimal clothing budget, over the years I have accumulated a large wardrobe. As I look to paring down, I’m happy to have settled into dressing in  a “uniform” of sorts. It makes all decisions for what to buy, what to keep, and what to give away much simpler. And, it takes the decision-making out of getting dressed in the morning!

Tommy (April A~Z Challenge)

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I have five wonderful grandchildren. Tommy is one of them.

He’s not the only boy; I have four grandsons: Mikey, Brandon, Tommy and Patrick. His sister, Madeline, has the distinction of being my only granddaughter.

Tommy is not the oldest; that would be his big brother, Mikey.

Tommy is not the youngest; that’s his cousin, Patrick. He is the youngest in his immediate family, though.

He is also known for his kindness, generosity of spirit and exceptional sense of humor. When he was still a baby, his mother noted that Tommy was finding his place in her large family by being the most sweet-natured of all of them. He almost always has a welcoming smile on his face. When he visited me on Beaver Island two years ago, he made new friends every day. Being shy myself, I was continually impressed with his easy conversational abilities. He is a very special young man.

Still, he’s one of five. So, why is Tommy showing up on my blog today? Well, conveniently, his name begins with the letter T. More importantly, though, tomorrow is Tommy’s 16th birthday. That earns him a spot in my April A~Z challenge.

Happy Birthday, Tommy!

The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #17

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List the movies, books and TV shows that make you feel happy:

  • I just finished reading What my Mother Gave Me, with contributions by various authors. The book was a gift, which always seems to make the content extra special. The theme was a good one, and all the different perspectives were a joy to read.
  • The Poems of Emily Dickinson. Always a pleasure!
  • Anything written by E.B. White makes me happy. I’ve recently started reading a collection of his writings on dogs, and it keeps me smiling.
  • Though I never watched Sex and the City when it was on the air, I watch it sometimes on Netflix, and it entertains me.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed watching the first season of  The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
  • I did a little Meryl Streep movie marathon during a long weekend in my studio. It’s Complicated, Julie and Julia and Mama Mia are all happy films.
  • Billy Elliot makes me feel good.
  • So does The Fisher King.
  • I truly enjoy reading cookbooks. Some of my favorites are Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, The Little Paris Kitchen, Let’s Get Together, and An Everlasting Meal.

 

Stress (April A~Z Challenge)

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I’m away from home this week, and through the end of the month, visiting family, taking care of some finances and bookkeeping, and traveling to Florida for a week-long vacation with my sisters. It is wonderful to get away…but travel always comes with some level of tension, too.

First, the packing. I have spent some part of every day over the last two months worrying over what I could pack for this trip. Downstate in Michigan at the end of April can be an entirely different climate than Beaver Island, Michigan. Then there is Florida. Land of bathing suits and shorts and sleeveless dresses. And me with all of my winter’s fat to contend with…you can see where the stress is coming from.

Beyond clothes, which had to be divided between the Florida suitcase and the Michigan suitcase, there are all of the papers I need in order to get my taxes filed. Forms, receipts, bank statements and business records necessitated their own brief case. The computer, another. Because my daughters and I were unable to get together over Christmas, we are planning a late celebration of that holiday. So, gifts had to be wrapped and packed for travel, too.

Reading material is another whole category of anxiety. What books shall I pack? If they are too good, I’ll finish them too quickly and be left without anything to read. What if I don’t like them? Should I start them first, to make sure they’ll hold my attention? To complicate matters, my  eight-year-old electronic reader – which was my back-up source – quit working last week. And, books are heavy, when freight is paid for by the pound!

The dogs are a major source of stress before I leave home. I’m sure they are fine in the kennel. I know all their needs are met. I probably miss them more than they miss me. Still, before I leave them, I am practically overwhelmed by guilt and worry.

Finally, there is the trip itself. Two hundred and fifty miles can seem like a huge distance when I am alone in the car. Especially if the road conditions are not good…or if traffic is heavy…or if I encounter detours…or mechanical problems.

Let me be clear: I love to get away from home. I also think that “stress” is a far over-used word lately. However, when I’m preparing for a trip, there is no word more definitive!

Reading Material(April A~Z Challenge)

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When packing for my trip off the island, I had plenty of things to consider. Reading material should have been the least of my worries. For the bus that would take me from Charlevoix to Flint, Michigan, I was allowed one 50 pound bag, plus one small carry-on. For the trip by plane from Bishop Airport in Flint to Orlando International Airport, I was allowed one 40 pound bag to be checked. No carry-on.

Beaver Island was in the middle of a snowstorm, with ice and freezing temperatures. That storm had already gone through the Flint area. Still, it was April; what the weather would be like tomorrow, or the next day, was anybody’s guess. Do I add a winter coat? What will that do to my weight capacity? Because part of my plans for this trip were also to solicit my sister’s help in filing my taxes, I had to also allow room for several folders of receipts and forms.

When I checked the long-term forecast for the area of Florida we’d be in, it showed cooler temperatures and thunderstorms for three of the seven days we’d be there. Who could tell if that prediction would hold? On top of that, all Florida clothing had to travel well, be versatile, and promise to hide my fat. I know, I was asking a lot.

With so much to consider, I had fallen into procrastination mode until there was no longer any time to waste. I was becoming more tense in every day that went by. The time for making lists and considering options was past; it was time for action! Finally, on the day before I was scheduled to leave, I had two revelations:

  1. I would leave my computer at home. In this day and age, there are computers out there to use, in a pinch. I could check my mail, post my blog and be done with it. No temptation to waste time on social media or in playing internet Scrabble. What a relief to not have to worry about where and how to carry my laptop computer, and all of the cords and accessories that accompany it. How nice to have one less thing to weigh, and carry! What a good time to practice going technology free!
  2. I would weigh my books first!! Because my electronic reader had recently given up the ghost, I had three books set aside to take with me on vacation. Peony in Love by Lisa See, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, and We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter: paperback books that each sounded like they would grab and hold my attention on a plane, on a rainy day inside, on the beach, or before falling asleep at night. Stoking the Creative Fires by Phil Cousineau was the one technical book I allowed myself. A Morning Cup of Yoga  by Jane Goad Trechsel would keep me up on my daily practice. Then, of course, I had to have my journal for writing “morning pages,” my sketchbook to document my trip in pictures, and my bullet journal for keeping track of everything else.

Whew! That did it! Once I made the decision to prioritize reading material, everything else fell into place. Logically, I can say that it shouldn’t have played such a major roll in my decision-making, with all of the other things I had to consider. In the end, though, it seems that having my books with me made all other decisions easier.

 

Quiet (the April A~Z Challenge)

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I like the quiet.  Too much noise makes me tense.

I think I was always like that. Growing up in a large, raucous family, I would search for places to be alone. I’d take a flashlight and a book, and crawl to the very back of the attic, alone. I would pick a mound of fresh peas and sit – hidden from view – on the far side of the black shed, while I shucked and ate them. I made a little hideaway by clearing the deep top shelf in our bedroom. I’d sit up there for hours, above the fray.

As an adult, I don’t need the radio playing or the TV on. My nerves get jangled when there are too many people speaking at once. Or when people are shouting or arguing. Or when the road truck causes my dogs to burst into a tirade of loud, sharp barking. I like things peaceful. I like it quiet.

Still, there must be another side of me that I am less aware of. I know there is a sharpness to my tone of voice that, over the years, people have interpreted as anger, sarcasm or nastiness even when it was not intended. I know I can sometimes be a “long talker,” beating a subject to death, almost. My husband thought I was bossy.  My youngest daughter would often offer to take the time-out, grounding, or whatever punishment was at hand, if I would, “JUST DON’T LECTURE!!!”

And when my dear mother, who was an only child and often seemed a bit overwhelmed by all the noise and activity in our household, begged,  “please just let me have a little peace and quiet…” I was often one of the people she was speaking to! Now, I would happily comply. I love the quiet!