Apple Pie Cookies and Spiced Pear Muffins

Since I had a plan this week, baking has been happening. The girls were so excited to help out and this recipe is really easy to let them. It takes a bit of doing, so they lost interest after a while, but it was fun while it lasted.

They made for a wonderful bedtime snack with some apples and cheese. And the girls enjoyed them for a snack at school. I changed the recipe quite a bit, so this version has dried apples, golden raisins, sunflower seeds, honey, vanilla extract, oats, oat flower, cinnamon, almond butter, and some other baking basics. I’m so happy the kids like them.

Then I made some spiced pear muffins. This time I wanted to bake alone and was halfway through when my munchkin wanted to help. I refused to let her and it was a bit upsetting, but we snuggled and she felt better. Later, she remarked, while eating muffins, that she had no idea I could bake such good food. I laughed and realized how long it has been since I’ve really baked from scratch. I spent years perfecting a lot of these recipes and it’s about time I start using them again.

Getting in the Mood for Fall

It doesn’t usually take this much effort to get me into the fall mood. Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say it’s taking more effort than usual to get me to do fall things. I thought a good sheet pan meal would be the place to start.

Diced red potatoes and baby carrots on one sheet, and broccoli and caulIflower with the beef sausage on another. I shook the potatoes in a covered bowl with oil and some mild spices before laying them on the sheet. The baby carrots I laid on top of them after they had baked for a while. I shook the broccoli in what was left in the bowl and put them in the oven at the same time as the carrots. It all took about 40 minutes. It was delicious.

For a snack I had a pumpkin bagel with cream cheese and honey. It has been a long time since I’ve added the honey and it takes me back to when I was really little.

I always love how the honey causes the cream cheese to crack. I have vivid memories of enjoying this experiment. Even the sight of it brings me joy.

And I just realized I’m out of nutmeg, so I’ll pick some of that up because I feel the Fall Baking Spirit beginning to take hold.

It Just Goes On and On and …

Apparently, once you have a kidney stone, you are bound to have another and they usually only get worse. The samples I gave them were too small to analyze and we have no answer as to how I developed these. The most common causes are dehydration and too much oxalate. So I’m drinking a lot more water and have a new handy list of all the foods I can no longer enjoy.

I have been cutting back on coffee and chocolate anyways, but the spinach and sweet potatoes being off the table for me is really sad. I absolutely love sweet potatoes and spinach. Strawberries and blueberries are some of my favorites too. However, the fear of going through this again and it possibly being worse each time has me getting serious about what I’m eating.

I know everyone is probably tired of hearing about kidney stones. I know I am, but I will be having regular check ups with X-rays forever now. It is incredible. I really thought this would be the end of it. I’m in my 30’s and the list of what I can eat keeps shrinking. No shellfish, kiwi, or pineapple due to allergies. No dairy because of digestion issues. Now no more all kinds of other stuff. Oh well. So I’m sharing this list with anyone who might want to take a gander. Too much oxalate in your diet can cause it to collect in your kidneys and create stones.

Here’s to hoping I can keep my diet in check and stay well hydrated. I’m also drinking more lemonade in the hopes of dissolving any crystals that are still there. May we all take care of our health and listen to your back pain.

Post Apocalyptic Red Riding Hood

I finally finished this one and it did not disappoint. This was the kind of adventure that kept me reading on, trying to figure out the pieces. I admit to taking breaks. These end of the world stories often sweep me up and, considering the world’s and this country’s current condition, it could be a little too much for me to bear. Then my curiosity would take over and I would pick the book back up.

I was definitely kept guessing and could not really predict what would happen next. I sped through the last bit and do not regret the rush. Never before has that happened. I’m usually sad and forlorn to have finished up so quickly, but the journey was so satisfying that the end was not a let down.

Christina Henry’s writing plants you right there with the character and firmly in the world she is creating. Moving back and forth from ’after’, where we meet Red, and to ’before’, where we learn how she got to ’after’ lent itself to the guessing game. Each time she shifted from one to the other, I was hungry for more reasons, more illustrations of Red’s development into a survivor.

This is another one for the ’highly recommend’ list and has a reserved spot on my shelf. Some day in the future I will read it again. Now that I know the whole tale, the adventure will be all the more thrilling the second time around.

Sometimes You Can’t Keep the Peace

I was hoping to make a bit more progress than this today. The finished mitt is the rough draft I made a couple days ago. The unfinished one only needed a few more rows. Sadly, my mother-in-law took up most of my energy this morning.

We have been having an increasingly strained relationship over the years, to put it mildly. I have put up with a lot from her and so has my husband. Every communication with her is a delicate voyage. My husband and I have very different ideas of what is and is not appropriate for our kids than she does. She has been badgering us for years to let the kids sleep over and I could list all the reasons we have said no, but it’s long and not worth the type space.

Recently, she learned that we let them stay in Buffalo with my mom and that has sent her off the deep end. She is so green with envy and red with rage that she doesn’t even realize our youngest didn’t go. So the text messages came in every couple of days. My anxiety built with each one. Today was my breaking point. I told her to fuck off. And it felt good. She has had it coming. I shared all of the lengthy messages with friends of mine who have watched me struggle with her and watched me agonize over how this all effects my husband. They are proud of me. And so am I. I am proud of my husband too. He stood his ground as well.

We’ll see how long we can keep this silence with her up. I really hope she gets help. I don’t see a way forward with her until she does. So all the cleaning and knitting and relaxing I had planned did not get done, but something else did and I’m ok with that.

Sometimes our shadow journey is kidney stones

I’m no stranger to difficult times. My life has been one challenge after another with enough sunshine and rainbows to get me through. I wouldn’t change it. Often in retrospect, those struggles were some of the best times of my life. These kidney stones, and especially the stent, is not one of those times.

The physical pain and the worry of being down for the count for my kids and my job (our only income) left me a balled up knot of a person. I cut myself off from everything. I knit through the nausea, the spins, the pain. It kept me grounded, but not connected. This went on for weeks. Weeks of waiting my turn for ‘sound’ surgery and weeks of working in a haze of bladder relaxers and pain relievers. Weeks of clawing through the day so I could ball up at home.

Finally, I called a friend. I had been holding my phone in my hand for days debating on calling. Text messages started and deleted. I’m good with messy. I’m not good with feeling broken. I was broken. So I called the one person who could snap me out of it and wake me up to just how cut off I really was. I had to open back up to start healing and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. All I could manage was a little opening where I could let the world slowly filter back in.

It helped a lot. I was still in pain, still angry, still ‘wintering’, but when I remembered to be open I felt better. I worked at finding the right amount of open I could handle, adjusting to each environment. I laugh to myself to see how easy as breathing this all is when I’m working. When I’m one on one with another person as their guide, it all just flows effortlessly. I mean, there was effort put in through all of this, but it was easy. The same could not be said while I was home, but I tried.

The day to remove my stent came. I have some childhood trauma that I have only begun to deal with that makes these sort of things even harder. I was eager to be done and very afraid it was all a lie. That I would be forced to cope for yet another week. I read while waiting for my X-ray. I knit while waiting for the urologist. Everyone seemed to know it was simply coming out today, so I relaxed just a bit. He told me I still have a 4mm one, and I held my breath. Then he proceeded to explain what he was about to do. It was weird, but painless. The stent was out and I waited for the relief.

Instead I felt tired, worn out, and ready for a nap. I was sluggish the rest on the day. Thankfully I had the next day off and the kids were in school. I allowed myself rest and that included just existing. I drank a lot of water and made sure to eat. By the day after that I felt like I had emerged from a cocoon. The despair of being a ghost of myself was gone and I felt joy.

Everything is still hard. The craziness of our new home is only beginning. But I feel like we’ve all come through this storm more together. Which is good, because we’re not done yet.

“No. It’s perfect.”

This was my littlest goofball’s response when I asked if I should make the sleeves longer or add some sort of hem. I had to laugh. It’s nice to be done.

It cracks me up that I refuse to make anything with seams, but will gladly sit here and sew a hundred patches of yarn together. When I’m in the mood for granny squares, they are one of the most zen projects I make. Each stage with its own comfortable rhythm.

First Day of School

They were ready to walk out the door an hour before we needed to. That is definitely a first. The excitement of a new school.

I made them chocolate chip waffles and they had to have it the way Oma makes them. It’s the same way I make them- with powdered sugar. They were gone before I could get a picture.

And so begins the massive amount of paperwork! I hope everyone can have a safe, happy, and just the right amount of exhausting fall season and school year.

It Started with a Dishcloth

Our sponges are getting gross and I can’t seem to remember to put them on any grocery list, or that we even need them. I’m almost never happy with whatever I find anyways, so I decided to make several dishcloths with all the cotton yarn I have for such a purpose. It really is quite satisfying to make three or four of these in an hour.

If only there was an end weaving fairy who would take gifts of honey (or the scrap yarn from the ends!) in exchange for weaving them all in. I keep trying to convince my kids it’s a fun activity, but they see right through me. I’ll get to it soon. I’m just distracted by the granny square sweaters I’m suddenly in the mood to work on. My youngest’s is almost done, and thankfully I had not seamed the sides. She was very excited to try it on and I was able to see how many more squares I need to make. She was a lot smaller when I started making this for her!

Another Book Done

I’m making my way through those three books I have been reading and finished Life and Death by Stephanie Meyers the other day. This version of the Twilight tale was much more in line with the vampire novels I grew up reading. There was the gut wrenching reality of dying in order to be reborn. The loss of so much to gain this new life. The choice being made long before it happens. Bella definitely had an amazing adventure, but I really enjoyed Beau. And Edward is great, but Edythe was wonderful.

It’s a much shorter ride, but I absolutely loved the way this version played out. There was a sense of Meyers having had enough time to really flush out each character’s story and create a richer world with less words. Life and Death is such a satisfying twist. I’m so tickled by the nostalgia I felt as I finished it. I have read so many variations of vampire stories. Horror, romance, action-adventure, mystery, comedy, you name it, I’ve read it and this one definitely ranks with the best of them.

I do find it interesting that when there is a type of story that is predominantly loved by women, especially romance stories, there is a need to dissect and explain why it’s ridiculous and that any self respecting woman wouldn’t like these flat and unimaginative works of fiction. I love the Twilight novels. And so do many other intelligent, emotionally aware females of all ages. There is a lot more to this tale than a sparkling, ‘vegan’ vampire. And why can’t we have stories that are just for fun? Why does everything we do have to have some bigger agenda?

I have one more novel in this world sitting on my shelf. Midnight Sun, Edward’s version of things. As the weather and length of daylight shift quickly towards Autumn, I feel I may be in the mood to read it sooner rather than later. At the moment I am focused on finishing The Girl in Red, by Christina Henry. Still an eerie read for having been published in 2019. More on that to come.

Happy reading, everyone.