Rising Above

Whisper whisper whisper whisper……..

This is a common sound in my office.  The whispering of gossip and spit-talking emanates from just about every office.  You can get sucked in by it all, which is dangerous business.  The person providing you with the low-down on what is being said about you is just as likely to turn and spill their guts about anything you’ve shared in confidence with them.  Or, you can rise above and ignore it all.  By doing so, you alienate yourself and appear to be stuck up or bitter.  It’s a lose-lose situation.  For years, I fed into the negativity.  Lately, I have chosen the latter option.  I now have only one true friend at work, and that is okay.  Every morning I pray to God for the strength to have a good day, to stay positive, and to not backslide into everyone’s messiness.  And every day I both succeed and fail to some degree.  But, I truly am putting forth the effort.  It is downright exhausting.  I come home every day feeling like I have gone through battle.  Every day I endure scathing looks and the whisper whisper whispering when I leave a room.  Though it may seem unlikely, choosing the role of office outcast is rewarding.  I feel less like a lowlife slug than I used to.  Not having to keep up with who said what to who is very freeing.  And, not giving a hoot whether or not you’re liked is also liberating.

I know I should get away from this place altogether.  I hear it all the time.  But, I do have a decade and a half invested in this place, and it pays the bills.  So, there you have it.  Who knew that bullying wasn’t just for playgrounds?

Three cheers to all my fellows who grind away in soul-sucking environments and manage to rise above!!

Peace and filing cabinet grease!

Song of the day:

Stolen Dance by Milky Chance.  I find this song all-consuming.  I can be having a conversation with someone and stop in mid-sentence to start tapping my toes when I hear it come on.

Recipe of the day:

Grandma B’s Buffalo Chip Cookies

(gross name.  delicious results.)

Cream together:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 lb. butter

Add:

  • 2 cups Post Toasties
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 tsps. vanilla
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 2 tsps. baking soda
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup nuts, pecans
  • 1 pkg. 12 oz. chocolate chips
  • 1 pkg. 6 oz. butterscotch chips
  • 4 cups flour

Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes.

Can be frozen.

Book of the day:

Image result for stars above meyer

Stars Above:  A Lunar Chronicles Collection by Marissa Meyer

Have you read any of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer?  There are four main books, all of which are futuristic retellings of classic fairy tales.  There is Cinder (Cinderella), Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), and Winter (Snow White).  I was truly surprised by how much I liked these books.  There are other volumes, too, including Stars Above, that tell the minor characters’ stories.  Give them a chance, if you’re looking for something new to read!

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A Small Taste of Fall

Finally.  Finally!  It FINALLY feels like fall today.  That may be a bit melodramatic since it hasn’t even technically been fall for a week yet.  But, if you have ever survived a Texas summer, then perhaps you understand my joy.  I’m sure this won’t last, but that’s okay.  As soon as I get home this evening, I am putting on some warm & fuzzy pjs and am going to cook something warm & delicious & comforting for dinner.

The cooler air and the beautiful rain has lightened my mood.  Is that strange?  I think rain notoriously brings other people down.  I am bolstered by it.  Depression is a funny thing.  That was a funny sentence.  Sigh…..

What does fall bring to your mind?  I think of the State Fair, sweaters, boots, soups, snuggles, road trips, and weekends around the fire pit with The Hubs.  I cannot wait until these cool days are common. The past couple of years have really been awful overall.  Fall signifies change and an opportunity to shed all of the negativity in your life and start fresh.  I am very much looking forward to doing just that.

So, three cheers to fall, y’all!

Peace and heating oil grease.

Song of the day:

Live and Let Die by 2Cellos and Lang Lang.  If you are not familiar with 2Cellos, I highly recommend you give them a listen.  I had the pleasure of attending their concert in Austin in February 2015.  It was the BEST concert I have ever been to, and I was highly disappointed that they did not make it to my neck of the woods in 2016.  I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that they come back in 2017 close enough for me to go.  I will be there if they do!

 

Recipe of the day:

In honor of soup weather:

Gnocchi, Saugage, and Spinach Soup from Cinnamon and Spice and Everything Nice.  (This stuff is insanely delicious.)

http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/

INGREDIENTS:

1 yellow onion, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
olive oil, for sauteing
sea or Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 pound Italian sausage, ground or removed from casings, hot or sweet
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed between fingers
32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound potato gnocchi
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, rough chopped
3/4 cup half & half or heavy cream (light is ok)
1 heaping tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
fresh grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large sauce pan or soup pot saute onion and red pepper in a couple of tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat until tender. Season well with salt and pepper. In a separate, large skillet brown the sausage, breaking it apart as it cooks. Add garlic to onion mixture and saute until fragrant.
  2. Drain sausage and add to onion mixture along with the basil and chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper, simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add gnocchi and spinach, bring to a simmer and cook until gnocchi puff up and start to float (check package for cooking time). Add half & half and fresh basil, bring to a simmer for three or four minutes. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Book of the day:

Image result for sweetness at the bottom of the pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.  This is the first of the Flavia de Luce series, which tells the tale of an 11-year-old girl in 1950s England.  Flavia is brilliant, quirky, and is just a wee bit obsessed with poison.  Her mom died when she was little, and her dad, a war veteran, has never recovered from losing her.  They are very well written and intriguing books.  Bradley wrote the first book in his 70s!

WEET

Just Stoppin’ By to Say Howdy

I don’t have anything riveting to write about this evening. This partially wonderful, partially wretched weekend is winding to a close with the Dallas Cowboys game. I would call myself a default fan. Maybe an in-law fan. When I married The Hubs, I also inherited my role as a Cowboys fan. It’s an okay job to have. Their team colors are very wearable. Watch parties with The Hubs and his friends often involve screaming and sometimes throwing stuff at the TV. It isn’t rare to see someone pleading on their knees. There is always someone you know that hates the Cowboys just as passionately as the most devout fan loves them, and crap-talk can get ridiculous. I personally prefer fantasy football. We have played on a league for about ten years now. Yes. My name is on the trophy. It’s probably the only trophy in existence with my name on it….

I hope you all have a pleasant, productive Monday. I’d wish you a “great” or “fabulous” Monday, but let’s be reasonable.

Peace and football players’ face grease. (I’m certain that stuff has an actual name, but this has a nice ring to it. Don’t you think?)

Recipe of the day:

My mom’s pimiento cheese (gloriously unhealthy comfort food):

  1. 8 oz softened cream cheese
  2. 1/2 cup mayo
  3. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  4. 1/4 tsp onion powder
  5. 1 jalapeño, deseeded
  6. 4 oz diced pimientos, drained
  7. Salt & pepper, to taste
  8. 2 cups sharp cheddar, freshly shredded

Mix everything except the cheddar in a medium bowl. Add cheddar and mix again. Store in fridge in a covered container. Eat your weight’s worth on Fritos. Just go ahead and make a double batch.

Book of the day:

Image result for the language of flowers

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This book was recommended to me by a cousin, and I have been recommending it in turn since I listened to the last word of it. (I’m an audiobookphile, in case ya didn’t know.)  There are two interwoven parts to this book.  The story itself is beautiful and tugs at your heart-strings.  The other aspect of the book is the language of flowers.  I had no idea that every flower that you give to someone actually means something specific.  I found the whole thing fascinating.

Song of the day:

Dustbowl Dance by Mumford & Sons

(I LOVE this song.)

Daily Prompt: Jump

via Daily Prompt: Jump

 

Jump.  Run.  Climb.  Walk.  Anything.

That’s what I need to be doing.  This time last year, I was in the best shape of my life.  The Hubs and I had joined a gym and had been working out faithfully all year.  We were less than two months from a 5K mud run, which wasn’t why we joined the gym–but seemed not so daunting since we were in shape.

A year later, I am soft and squishy and chronically lazy in general.  And, now I am 3 weeks away from this year’s 5K.  I am worried about my survival.  Last year was brutal even though I was prepared.  The information provided on the run promises that emergency medical help will be on standby for anyone needing it.  I fear that I will be that “anyone”.  If I complete the race on a stretcher carried by a couple of buff paramedics, does that count?

I have to keep reminding myself that this 5K is for charity–and a charity that I have personal ties to, no less.  It’s for charity.  It’s for charity.  That’s my mantra.  Prepared or not, in just a couple of weeks I will be jumping off of platforms into pits of muddy water, climbing up hills so slippery with mud they might was well be covered in plastic sheeting and cooking oil, pulling myself up unsteady rope ladders, and the like.

Last year, my team was lapped by the two heats that started after us.  🙂  To be fair, we were probably one of the teams with the oldest average age.  The race is known as MuckFest MS, which benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  This year, the backs of our shirts will say “We’re old.  Go the MUCK around us.” in order to give a heads-up to the spry teenagers behind us that are easily making their way through the obstacles like troops of adolescent monkeys.

If this diatribe is making you feel an ounce of pity, please consider donating to our team!  http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/MudSweatCheers

Peace and MuckFest grease

Song of the day:

Stuck in the Middle With You by Stealers Wheel.  One of my all time faves that always puts me in a good mood and gets my toes to tappin’ and my head to bobbin’.

 

Book of the day:

Image result for the last anniversary moriarty

I just started The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty this morning.  So far, so good.  I really enjoyed the last book of hers that I read, Big Little Lies.

Recipe of the day:

Blueberry Slump

This is always a hit when I make it for company.  (Funny I should put this recipe on a how-out-of-shape-I-am post.)  Recipe by Saveur.

http://www.saveur.com/

Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 34 cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
4 12 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 14 cups milk
1 12 lb. blueberries
1 cup fresh orange juice
14 cup fresh lemon juice
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Instructions

Whisk together flour, 14 cup sugar, baking powder, and 12 tsp. salt in a large bowl; add butter, and using your fingers, rub butter into flour until pea-size crumbles form. Add milk, and stir just until a moist dough forms; cover and refrigerate dough until ready to use.
Heat oven to 400°. Bring remaining sugar and salt along with blueberries and citrus juices to a boil in a 12″ cast-iron or enamelware skillet over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove pan from heat, and using two tablespoons, portion and form chilled dough into 2-3″ oval dumplings, and drop them evenly on top of the blueberry mixture. Sprinkle dough dumplings with sugar, and transfer skillet to oven; bake until biscuits are cooked through and blueberry mixture is reduced, about 25 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla bean ice cream.
Devour.

Loose as a Goose

Do you ever get home from work and immediately shuck all of your uncomfortable clothing and do ballet jumps through the air while naked because if feels so wonderful to break free from the chains from adult life (at least for a moment)? No? Oh. Me either. I’m not sure why I even asked that…..

To add to the joy of getting out of that dress and heels, I came home on my lunch break and started dinner in the crockpot. Soooo….no cooking duties tonight! Woot! That only leaves laundry and the freedom to paint rocks.

Yes. You read that correctly. Paint rocks. Apparently there is a fledgling fad on the Great Facebook (sarcasm font) that is trying to take hold. It’s like that awful Pokemon obsession but much much less lame. (Shut up. Yes it is.) What you do is gather some rocks (hopefully legally) and paint super cute, silly, and/or inspirational things on them and then hide them in random places in your area. (Be sure to paint the name of your local rock painting site on the bottom!) You do this in the hopes that someone will find it, be delighted, notice the page name on the bottom, and report their find online. Then, hopefully, they will rehide it elsewhere and be inspired to rush out and paint and hide their own rocks. I have no idea what the long-term goal of this is, but I enjoy it. I feel kinda like a gift fairy flitting around hiding miniature pieces of art for others to find.

Don’t judge. Just try it! You may even find the whole process therapeutic.

Peace and oil paint grease.

Song of the day:

I chose Asleep at the Wheel by The Bloodhound Gang because knowing that song helped me solve Final Jeopardy last night.

Book of the day:

Image result for swiss family robinson

My book challenge dictates that I read a book published before 1900, so I am reading Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. Who the heck has that much practical survival knowledge in their noggin? The characters obviously didn’t live in the digital age, in which we know a whole lot of nothing because why should we? If you don’t know something, Google it.

Recipe of the day:

Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing

I have no idea where this recipe originated or who to give credit to.

1 lb chicken

1 box herb stuffing

1 can cream of whatever (you pick)

1 can’s worth of milk

A few slices of Swiss cheese

A few pats of butter

Salt, pepper, other seasonings
Put a crockpot condom (er….liner) in your crockpot. Place chicken (frozen or thawed…it matters not) in there. Season. Top with slices of Swiss cheese. Mix the cream of and the milk and pour over chicken. Top with entire box of stuffing mix. Dot with pats of butter. Cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Make a veggie to go with it for diminished guilt level.

You vs. The Written Word

Do you participate in any reading challenges?  I discovered my first reading challenge with Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge, and I was hooked.  For 2016, I started my own Facebook reading challenge page.  Several friends are participating with me, and I have 7 selections to go between the two lists.  I love how reading challenges force you to pick books you would not normally choose.  The best books that I have read this year are:

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (mentioned in my last postImage result for the magic strings of frankie presto

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty Image result for big little lies moriarty

Humans of New York:  Stories by Brandon Stanton Image result for humans of new york: stories

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven Image result for all the bright places

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton Image result for the strange and beautiful sorrows of ava

Picking Cotton:  Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Canino, Ronald Cotton, and Erin Torneo Image result for picking cotton our memoir

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion Image result for the rosie project

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro Image result for the perfume collector

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom Image result for tuesdays with morrie

These have earned the distinction of “best” because I rated them 5 stars on Goodreads.  I know these ratings are subjective.  I often look back on ratings and wonder why I gave a book the number of stars that I did.  Mood seems to have a lot to do with it.  Regardless, I recommend all of the above to anyone searching for their next read.

I have always wanted to be an author.  I enjoyed writing as a child and was quite good at it.  God preserves gifts used for His glory, which is why my writing skills have declined over the years.  They say it’s never too late to pursue your dreams, so maybe one day I’ll shock everyone and publish something.  I used to joke with my friends that my first book would be a collection of things you hear parents say.  The one that sticks out most prominently in my mind is “Don’t drink the bath water, Gage!”  I’m not sure if this is because it is so cringe-worthy or if it is because it brings to mind very clearly the memory of what bath water tastes like from my own curious childhood.  I’m very disappointed in myself for not keeping up with these gems in a notebook.  Another parental admonition that comes to mind is “Why are you chewing your toenails?”  This one comes from my own mother and was directed at me.  Yeah.  I was a weird one.

I am working on the 2017 Reading Challenge for my page.  I will share it on here and hope that you will join me!  Happy reading!

Peace and bacon grease.

Song of the Day:

Down the Burning Ropes by James Vincent McMorrow

 

Recipe of the Day:

Chorizo and Jalapeno Breakfast Pizza

by The Homesick Texan

http://www.homesicktexan.com

Ingredients for the crust:
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp cold butter
6 Tbsp half and half or whole milk

Ingredients for the pizza:
2 oz Mexican chorizo, removed from its casing
4 lg eggs
2 Tbsp half and half or whole milk
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Pinch kosher salt
1 jalapeño, seeded, stemmed, and diced
1/4 sm red onion, finely diced
1 c (4 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Cilantro leaves, Pico de gallo, avocado slices, and/or crumbled Cotija, for garnishing

Instructions:
Heat the oven to 425°F.  Lightly grease a 9″ skillet.

For the crust, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the cold butter into cubes and then add to the flour. Working quickly with your hands, work the butter into the dough until the dough is crumbly. Pour in the half and half and stir until everything has come together and a shaggy dough is formed.

Pat the dough out evenly into the skillet.  Don’t work the dough up the sides—leave it just on the bottom.  Poke the dough with a fork about 4-5 times, and place the dough into the oven. Cook it uncovered for 5 minutes then remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium-low heat. Add the chorizo and while occasionally stirring, cook for 5 minutes or until it changes from a bright red to a more brownish red. Leaving on the skillet, remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and place it in a bowl. (It’s okay if there is some chorizo grease in the skillet, as this adds flavor. If there is an excess of grease, however, feel free to drain and discard it.)

Add to the skillet the butter. Whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt, and pepper. When the butter has melted, pour in the eggs. Let them sit for 1 minute then add the chorizo back into the skillet and gently stir until they are loosely set. Taste the eggs with the chorizo and add a pinch of salt if you think it needs it.

Turn off the heat and then spoon the eggs out of the skillet and spread evenly onto the partially baked pizza crust.

Top the eggs evenly with the cheese, then top the cheese evenly with the onions and jalapeños. Return the pizza to the oven and cook uncovered for 8 to 10 more minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is lightly browned.

Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle fresh cilantro leaves over the baked pizza. If you like, serve each slice topped with pico de gallo, avocado slices, and/or crumbled Cotija cheese.

Book of the day:

Back of Beyond by CJ Box

Image result for back of beyond cj box

I just finished this one this morning.  It is the first of the Cody Hoyt series.  It was okay.  It’s the typical rogue cop story–bad ass who doesn’t follow the rules, is hated by just about everyone, and who saves the day just in the nick of time.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love this type of book.  But, it only earned 3 stars on Goodreads.  Good, but not to-die-for good.  I will probably read more Cody Hoyt books in the future.

Empty arms. Empty heart.

Hello.  My name is Leone Kvetched.  I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a crazy aunt, a cousin, a friend.  I am old enough to ache and groan and complain about youngsters.  I am young enough to not be aching and groaning and complaining about youngsters.  I am a disgruntled office worker whose work environment is toxic and unhealthy, yet here I stay.  I am an avid reader, an appreciator of good music, an obsessed foodie, and a wannabe traveler.  I am a neglectful Christian. Mostly, I am a cynic whose rose-colored glasses got ran over and broken several years ago.  I have freakishly realistic yet bizarre dreams almost every night.  Aaaaaand, that’s about all you need to know in this little introduction paragraph.  If you stick with me, you’ll learn all this and more.  Lucky you!

The thing that weighs most heavily on my mind these days does not exist.  That would be our children.  The Hubs and I have tried for years and years and years to have children.  But alas, they do not seem to be part of God’s plan for our lives.  I try to tell myself that there is a reason and purpose for this, but it is easy to get swaddled in depression.  See what I did there?  Swaddled?  Anywho.  People don’t think.  I cannot tell you how often we are told ‘y’all need kids’.  ‘When are y’all going to have some kids?’  ‘What you need in your life is about a dozen children.’  Etc.  Etc.  Yes yes.  Thank you for your insight.  Now stand there quietly while I mentally slap you around.  Sorry.  That was rude.  I know people don’t mean to be hurtful.  We haven’t spoken with many folks about our struggles to have children, so they don’t know.  But seriously.  Sheesh.

While I once had to quietly stand by and plaster a smile on my face and congratulate my friends on the births of their children, I am now doing the same for these people and their new grandbabies.  I truly am happy for everyone.  Truly.  But, I am also jealous.  I can’t help it.  I was reading a fabulous book this past week called The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom.  There was a line in there along the lines of….there comes a time when your life is all about what you are leaving for your children.  I know this is true for the masses.  But, what then for people like us?  What becomes the meaning of our already barren-seeming lives?

I swear not all of my posts will be so depressing.  Hopefully, you’ll even find some of them funny.  I have been known to cause a chuckle here and there.  I’d really like to use this blog to share with you the books I’ve read, the food I’ve eaten, experiences I’ve had, stories about people I want to choke, etc.  But, today my mind is on my sadness and the feelings of inadequacy not having children brings.  Go ahead.  Tell me to cheer up.  I know I need to.

Peace and chicken grease.

Recipe of the day:

Now & Later Baked Ziti by my momma

2 lbs ground beef

1 onion

salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you wanna throw in there

1 16 oz. box ziti

1 4 lb jug pasta sauce

3 cups mozzarella cheese

freshly shaved Parmesan

1 cup heavy cream (sort of)

Cook the beef with the onion and seasonings.  Drain off the fat.  While you’re doing that, cook the ziti according to package directions.  Mix the meat mixture, noodles, pasta sauce, and half of the mozzarella all together.  Divide it up into two disposable cake tins and name them “now” and “later”.  Top with Parmesan and remaining mozzarella.  Pour 1/2 cup of heavy cream over the “now” pan.  Cook it at 350 for 30 minutes.

Wrap “later” up tightly and stick it in your freezer for a night you would rather run out in traffic than cook dinner.  When you’re ready to use it, thaw it.  Cook it at 350 for 15 minutes.  Pour 1/2 cup of heavy cream on top.  Cook for 30 more minutes.  Easy peasy.

Song of the day:

Don’t Bring That Trouble by NEEDTOBREATH

Book of the day:

Image result for the magic strings of frankie presto

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

I’ve already mentioned that I loved this book.  I cannot express how much.  Mitch Albom is an extremely talented story-teller.  This is the fourth book of his that I have read and is absolutely my favorite (which is saying something.  Have you read The Five People You Meet in Heaven?)    5 stars on Goodreads.  I would give it more if they’d let me.