Proof that God has a sense of humor:

1. A few weeks ago as everyone was starting to think about Thanksgiving, those of us attending the local gathering got to talking about dishes to include. “So and so should bring her cranberry salad. “I’ve got mashed potatoes covered!” “Who will bring rolls?”

In the course of the conversation, someone innocently said, “Maybe Elizabeth could bring olives.” In reality, there were probably two reasons for this: first of all, I’ve been pretty busy and had to drive a little way, so trying to make something too elaborate would be tough, and they were trying to be nice. Secondly, my side of the family has a track record of taking olives at Thanksgiving very, very seriously. There MUST be olives, preferably both green and black, or you might as well not have turkey, either, because it just can’t be a real Thanksgiving dinner.

But me, with my aggravating tendency to be thin-skinned, partly took it as “you probably can’t be depended on to bring anything more.” And I felt all huffy about it, even though I knew it was silly and not real. I decided I was gonna knock everyone’s socks off, make at LEAST two things, and at least one fairly involved dish: pumpkin cheesecake, and not a simple recipe, either.

Fast forward to this week. Work has been wearing me out, so I get home and hole up. Which meant I procrastinated on getting cheesecake ingredients until it was really too late, especially since I lost most of my baking pans in the move, and would have had to go in search of those as well as ingredients, and I didn’t want to face the crowds.

So instead, I decided I was going to make individual pecan tarts: I found a recipe for which I had all ingredients, and which used a muffin tin–one of the only pans I still had on hand. It did involve using my new food processor, which a friend gave me as a house warming gift and which I’ve stared at nervously for a month without quite daring to use. I stalled until Thanksgiving morning before I actually dug it out.

Well, folks, I could not get the darned thing to turn on. I took it off the base. I put it back on. I took the lid off. I put it back on. I tried different electrical outlets. No dice. And since the tart ingredients were too thick for a blender and impossible to smooth out by hand since it included dried fruit, I had to give it up.

Guess who brought nothing but olives to the Thanksgiving feast after all?

2. I have a tendency to slide into bad Internet habits. I’ll sit at the computer with about three sites up (social media and news, mostly), and just keep cycling between them hitting refresh, even though not much changes and even though I would be much better off just checking a few times a day and spending more spare time reading and writing and, you know, cleaning the house.

Saturday I did a little journal writing in the morning, goal setting. I told myself that, especially during Advent, I’m going to spend less time staring at screens, more time reading and thinking. And then I set my journal down and went right back to it.

But then friends picked me up to return the food processor* and to do some Christmas shopping and then play some music. As I was leaving the house with my instruments, I set the phone down to shift some things around, and then forgot it. So I spent the whole day without Internet access.

Cold turkey.

Very funny, God.

*In case anyone cares, the food processor is fine. It was…ahem…user error. That said, three users made the same error, including one user who owns the same model, so at least there’s that.


Good Things, Random Thanksgiving Week Edition

1. I don’t do well in crowds. Never have. Trying to shop when there are lots of people around is an exercise in frustration as well as anxiety–if I feel like I can’t move, I get more and more panicky, and list or no, I forget to buy stuff, or buy stuff that makes no sense. For example, one fine day years ago, I went into a Wal-mart in search of some sort of groceries, and came out with nothing but a flamingo pink fleece hat that matches nothing I own, because somehow it made sense at the time. (I admit, it’s grown on me, and I love that stupid hat. But I digress…)

So I’m thankful that it occurred to me on Wednesday to go to Jay’s Farmstand for the onions and other vegetables and groceries I needed. At eight o’clock in the morning, I was one of only two shoppers, and shopping was a peaceful affair.

For the next month, if there’s anything I can’t get at Jay’s or the feed store or via Amazon, I don’t need it. I hope.

2. On the way home from work on Wednesday, while I was once again avoiding crowds, I took a route home that gave me a momentary but spectacular view of the nearly-full moon rising through the sunset: a gorgeous orange red ball in a darkening sky. It was brief, but fulfilling.

3. We had Thanksgiving at my siblings’ restaurant (Arista in Puyallup, WA–check it out if you live nearby!), which was cool. A highlight for me, aside from the great food, was getting to play music with my sister for a few minutes, she on fiddle and me on mandolin. There was a certain amount of “what do we both know?” as it’s been awhile since we spent much time playing together, but still…so good, though bittersweet in that it really made me miss other siblings back east. Someday, we’ll have to get the band back together, if only for a few minutes…

4. I’m thankful for warm fireplaces and warm cats on cold days, and the ability to obtain library books from the comfort of the couch.

5. One final good thing: I spent some time today doing a bit of polishing on a sort of historical fiction short story that was rejected this spring. This is the closest I’ve come to “real” writing in awhile, and I actually feel pretty OK about the story at this point. I need to find a new home for it.

Three Good Things, 11/7/15

Probably won’t do this sorta thing daily, but a few times a week is helpful.

Today I struggled and didn’t get out as much as I’d planned or accomplish as much as I hoped, so this is a good exercise.

  1. I bought some quart jars to make more pickles/lacto-fermented vegetable things. I don’t think I rambled on here like I did on Facebook, but over the last few weeks, I successfully made my first batch of sauerkraut. This could be a blog post in itself. Suffice it to say, I’m excited by the possibilities, but don’t necessarily need pickled carrots by the gallon jar. The quart size guys should be enough to experiment with, and they weren’t terribly expensive. Woot!
  2. As a result of the above purchase, I was able to start some curried garlic cauliflower, which sounds potentially wonderful and should hopefully be done in a few weeks. And if it fails…well, at least it was a small batch.
  3. I finally checked out a neat little spice shop in downtown Olympia, WA: Buck’s Fifth Avenue, which I’ve heard about for awhile but had never visited, primarily due to my phobia of driving and parking downtown. It’s a small shop, but LOADED with shelf after shelf filled with jar after jar of every spice and salt and herb you can imagine. It’s like an old time apothecary for cooks. Magical. Everyone there was super nice, including the other customers, and everyone talking about cooking and baking and preserving. My kind of folks. They also had beautiful glass picking jars, the sort with a moat to keep air out of the pickles. I bought some juniper berries–my favorite sauerkraut in Germany included them, so–and also some Princess Grey tea (basically Early Grey with rose petals and lavender–pretty!) and some cumin. The cumin is perhaps the most intense cumin I have ever encountered. My whole house smells like a Mexican restaurant. I guess I’m OK with it.

Three Good Things, 11/5/15 Edition

I need to get back into doing my “three good things from my day” exercise in the evenings again. It may seem ridiculously Pollyanna, but it really does help me focus a bit more on the positive instead of wallowing in the negative, which comes more naturally to me.

So, here are three good things from this day:

1. For no reason, I spent the morning craving Brie cheese to the point where I could barely think. A co-worker was so worn down by my whining…er…was kind enough to get me some while he was picking up lunch at the grocery. Oh, I love Brie!

2. I am not doing spectacularly with NaNoWriMo this year. In fact, I kind of want to quit. Therefore even though I didn’t do a TON today, I’ll count it as a good thing that I got words added, and I’m out of the nowhere-to-go-next ditch I’d dumped myself into at the end of the day yesterday.

3. Even though I got home rather late, I still had time to make a pot roast with mushrooms and carrots and assorted other vegetables in the Instant Pot. I am seriously in love with that thing. If it was a person, I would marry it. Bonus good thing: sour cream atop pot roast with vegetables is a mahvelous thing.