Friday Favorites — 02092018

Hi friends, I hope you’ve had an awesome week!

I’ve decided to try out a “Friday Favorites” feature here on my blog this year. It’ll be a short list of things I’ve enjoyed throughout the week or in the recent past.

I figure this will not only allow me to share a little more about my day-to-day life, it will also work as a sort of gratitude exercise for me, helping me to stay focused on positive things.

I think my personality naturally leans toward the gloomier side (I’ve mentioned before, how depressed I was when I was younger), and while I’ve become a lot more cheerful over the years, it’s much easier for me to stay upbeat when I focus on the good.

And maybe some of the things I post about will be useful for you, too! 🙂

So, here we go, in no particular order:

1) A clean pantry, freezer, and fridge

Last week I decided to clean out my freezer, fridge and pantry. None of these areas ever gets too bad, honestly, because I try to keep on top of such things, but still…I knew both could use a bit of straightening and cleaning, and there were a few older items lurking in each that needed to come out.

fridge

I felt so much better after doing this! Especially since it reminded me of some of the dry and frozen goods I have squirreled away…which in turn helped spur some ideas for upcoming dinners – always useful when it comes time to write up the meal plan for the week!

2) Awaken with JP

I learned about this YouTube channel by listening to The Minimalists’ podcast. They had JP Sears on as a guest at one of their live events. I’d never heard of him before. Because I live under a rock. But now I’ve watched/listened to a bunch of his videos and think they’re all pretty funny.

Btw, I personally think gift cards are awesome, both to give and to receive. But the video still made me lol :).

3) Thank you notes

Steve and I spent some time over the weekend writing thank you notes for everyone who donated to our recent fundraising efforts on behalf of the Houston Food Bank (unless I didn’t have your physical address, in which case I messaged you! :)) Writing thank you notes is something I often put off, but after I do it I’m always glad I did. It reminds me to be grateful to have people in my life who care about me and support what I’m doing. So I guess you could say I’m grateful to have something to be grateful for!

4) Digital comics

I never really read too many comics growing up, just stuff like Richie Rich and Archie when I was little. A few years after we got married, though, Steve got me into reading more grown up things…like superhero titles ;).

I’m so glad, too, because I love comics, now!

Deadpool WG vol 9

As a writer, I feel I can learn a lot from how tightly these stories are paced, and how efficiently they are told, with as few words as possible. Plus, they are just plain fun to read. And now with the advent of digital comics, it’s easier than ever to collect a whole bunch of titles without needing an extra closet (or two) in which to store all those long-boxes!

long box_1

 

I like to read my comics on the Comixology or Kindle apps, using my Amazon Kindle Fire. These past few months a lot of Marvel titles have gone on sale on Amazon, and I’ve been tearing through them. Particularly the Deadpool catalog. So funny!

5) Target runs w/Steve

I only go to Target every once in a while, when there’s something specific I need from there, so it always feels like kind of a special occasion to me. I like to wait until Steve’s off work so we can go together. It’s just more fun that way. Probably because after we’re done shopping we usually sit and have a snack and some conversation in the little concessions area up front.

pexels-photo-264529.jpeg

(Stock photo from Pexels)

 

This last time we went, I was pleased that a couple of the things I needed were on clearance, and that I remembered to use a $5 gift card. My bill ended up being only $27. This isn’t so unusual these days, but there was definitely a time when I would have spent waaay more than that, and probably on things I didn’t need at all. It still surprises me sometimes, how much my attitude toward shopping has changed, but I like love it, and so does my bank account. #ThanksMinimalism!

6) Jessica Smith TV

Jessica Smith is another YouTube discovery. I’m not even sure how I first heard of her; probably YouTube recommended one of her clips. All I know is, I quickly became hooked on her workouts. They’re so simple, yet not necessarily easy. There are no complicated moves and usually no jumping involved, yet somehow she always makes me “sparkle” (her nice word for sweat) like crazy. But I also always have fun! These are a great way to break up the week’s workouts, on those days when I don’t run.

You can watch a ton of Jessica’s content for free on YouTube, but she also has a digital store with a mind-boggling array of professionally-produced discs and digital downloads available for purchase.

walk on

This one includes my favorite routine, the “Boogie Down Mile.” Yes, it’s as fun as it sounds!

Oh, and I didn’t even mention the cute pup, Peanut, who cameos in most of Jessica’s videos. This may just be what other work out videos have always been missing: an adorable French bulldog. ‘Cause how can you go wrong with one of those? Answer: you can’t.

7) Dune

Steve and I and a friend of ours are doing a group-read of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic, Dune.

It’s one of my all-time favorite books, and I’ve read it twice before, but it’s been a long time. I’m loving it all over again! Not to mention it’s bringing back lots of memories.

In some ways, I really hate thinking about my younger years (because, again, I was often in a dark place back then), but Dune is a pretty good memory for me. I was probably thirteen the first time I read it and back then, the story completely captured my imagination in a way nothing else ever had before. I remember being blown away by the realization that someone could a write a book like this, with such a detailed background, its own language and history, etc…it definitely inspired me to want to make up my own fantasy/sci-fi world, too!

Maybe someday I still will ;).

Also, how awesome is this retro cover?! I love it.

Dune

8) Pretzel buns

I know pretzel bread was sort of everywhere a few years ago now, and now…not so much. But just because they’re not trendy anymore doesn’t mean they aren’t still delicious! Steve and I had some this week, with homemade veggie burgers.

pretzel sandwich

A left-over. Went deliciously the following day with some Tofurky slices.

These buns were store-bought, but maybe sometime I’ll try to make my own.

There was that one time Steve and I made pretzels and they turned out alright, so this is not completely outside the realm of possibility!

Okay, y’all, I think that’s it for now. What have you been loving lately? I hope you’ve had a wonderful week, and that you enjoy your weekend! Love,

signature-350x126

My Thanksgiving re-cap and plan

Place settingI hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving :).

Ours was nice. My father-in-law came to visit us for a few days. On the morning of the holiday, S and I participated in a 5-mile Turkey Trot and then afterward, I finished preparing dinner. Here’s what we ate:

Ultimate Dinner Rolls

This year, I only made one pie instead of two and I started making preparations two days ahead of time instead of only one. I suppose these changes made a difference, because this was probably the “easiest” time I’ve ever had cooking the T-Day meal! I felt far less rushed than usual and I loved that. So I’m going to record the “plan” I used here, so I won’t forget it and can hopefully recreate it in the future :).

Tuesday, I —

  • baked a pan of cornbread for the dressing
  • made pie crust dough and refrigerated it
  • got out all my serving dishes, utensils, etc. and made sure everything was clean and ready to go

Serving dishes and utensils

Wednesday, I —

  • transferred the Tofurky Roasts (I make two because they’re so small and I like leftovers) from the freezer to the fridge to thaw
  • made the pumpkin pie filling, rolled out my pie crust, and baked the pie (and for the first time ever, instead of using pieces of foil, I used this doohickey* I recently bought to prevent the crust from burning; it worked perfectly and I was very pleased with the results)
  • made the dough for my rolls, shaped them, covered them with plastic, and put them into the fridge
  • opened a can of cranberry sauce and put it in its serving dish in the fridge
  • crumbled the cornbread and mixed it with the rest of my dry dressing ingredients. I stored this in my largest Pyrex mixing bowl and covered it with its matching lid so it was all ready to go the next day.

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Thursday, I —

  • peeled and cut potatoes, put them in water and stored them in the fridge in another covered Pyrex mixing bowl (side note:  I’m not a Pyrex rep or anything. It’s just that I got these bowls as a birthday gift last year and I love them. I use them for everything, ALL the time!)
  • washed and cut broccoli, put it in casserole dishes, and topped it with the olive oil and seasonings; stored it in the fridge
  • put the Tofurky Roasts in a roasting pan, basted them, and put them into the oven to cook
  • took the rolls out of the fridge and let them rise on the counter; brushed them with butter
  • cooked onion and celery and mixed them with the other wet ingredients for the dressing, added them to the dry ingredients and put the dressing into baking dishes
  • put the dressing into the oven when the Tofurky was partway done
  • put the broccoli into the oven
  • boiled and mashed the potatoes
  • heated the gravy on the stove
  • cooked the carrots and baked the rolls (since these both only took 15 minutes)

And voila! That was it. Probably the only thing I would do differently is cut the broccoli, and possibly the potatoes, on Wednesday instead of Thursday.

Like I said, though, this was overall the easiest Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever made and I feel like the pre-planning I did helped. I literally wrote out all the steps I needed to take ahead of time and then checked them off as I went. So even though on Thanksgiving Day, my garbage disposal decided to back up and spray gunk several feet into the air (and my husband very kindly came in and fixed it for me), it didn’t throw a huge wrench into my day or anything ;).

However, what I apparently didn’t remember to do, was take photos of most of the food! We didn’t get any of the Tofurky or the pie before it was cut :(. S did manage a shot of one slice with his phone before it disappeared, though…

IMG_2805

Now I suppose the Christmas planning can begin…? 🙂

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.