Got Through My Day with the Help of Some Trees

It was depression’s turn to take the lead today. I woke up feeling weighted down. I wanted nothing more than to stay home and relax with my kids. It was a physical ache to leave them.

I have come to use my drive as a time to let myself ride whatever I’m feeling. To give myself the space to fall apart-emotionally. I take back roads where I can take it easy and enjoy the views. Farms, trees, streams, cows, horses, goats, and all kinds of Nature to help soothe my soul. As I get closer to town and work, I begin to calm and focus on preparing for what I will be doing that day. I shift my focus to the task ahead. It’s been helpful.

I had been getting myself ready for a long day with a sinking, sucking, pit feeling in my gut, tensing and stiffening my muscles. I made it through my first appointment (every client always gets my best every time, no matter what’s going on with me. If I don’t think I can do that, I reschedule) and looked to see that my next appointment had canceled. I took that opportunity to check out this park nearby that I have been meaning to scope out for a while. It was exactly what I needed. I stood by the stream and walked up and down the path next to it while knitting a hat. It was wonderful.

I do my very best to make time to take care of my mental health on a regular basis. It almost isn’t even a second thought. I’ve built rituals and habits into my daily life that help me keep myself on track. But even with all that effort, these episodes will sneak up. And sometimes life sees that struggle, despite all my best efforts, and cuts me a break. Gives me some time to breathe in the trees, feel my hands creating something from nothing, and just be.

By the time I got back to work I was ready for the rest of my day and my return home was that much sweeter.

Fall Wall Decor

I finished them! I actually spent the entire day that I started working on them to finish them. I get a bit single minded when I start these kinds of projects. They are all patterns I have found for free online. The purple/red ones are from memory. I’ve made a lot of leaves over the years.

The apple is another free one online. Just search for ‘crochet apple coaster’. The acorn and the pear I made up myself. The pear kept me up for hours. I refused to quit until I got it right and it took several tries. These hang on either side of the leaves, so I have two of each.

And I put my Halloween wreath up. The girls have been pestering me to put up more decorations, so it’s going to start looking a lot like Halloween around here.

More Kitchen Witchery

I’ve been in need of an apron and what better time to get one than the season that brings out the Kitchen Witch in me. Of course I had to get oven mitts to match.

Belle really is turning into quite the little helper. She was great at making the salad with me. I heated up some canned chicken and dumpling soup with some added canned chicken and toasted some seedy bread to make a complete meal. Definitely another favorite in this house!

This was my first time making acorn squash. I’m so glad my mom told me to bake them for a bit to make it easier to cut them in half. I cooked the ground beef while the squash baked. I used one of my usual spice blends and added some fresh basil from my new plant I’ve managed to keep alive for a few weeks now. (We’ll see how long it survives in my care.) Once the ground beef was done I sautéed some yellow squash, zucchini, and frozen corn. When the squash was ready, I filled them with layers of veggies and ground beef and topped them with shredded cheddar cheese. It was amazing. The kids, however, were a little less thrilled about it. Maybe they’ll like it better next time.

I also made dessert/bedtime snack while making dinner. I used the Jiffy mix and added ground flax seed and apple butter. There was enough left for them to have one in their school lunches. These, unlike the squash, were a hit.

One of my favorite meals, meatloaf. This is mini turkey meat loaves with roasted carrots, radishes, and purple sweet potato.

I put the vegetables in to roast with olive oil and spices. The ground turkey was mixed with oats, an egg, spices, and more of that basil plant (which is currently thriving, yay!). I also mixed in some BBQ sauce. I love all the different colors with the vegetables. And while the meatloaf is ugly in the mini-loaf tray, it was pretty on the plate where I let them rest for a minute.

Granny Squares for Daughter Number Three

I decided to start working on my youngest’s granny squares. I’m having fun with these colors too and decided to make six centers of every color as I came to them. I also started balling up each color as I needed, so I could get to the next shade. I’m thinking hoodies.

It really is so much fun to switch up which round I’m doing and figure out how best to mix up the colors. It’s also nice to be crocheting again. With all the knitting I’ve been doing lately, it definitely helps keep my muscles loose and my creative drive going.

The plan is to get a few more of these squares done and then switch back to the ones for my oldest. Hopefully I can finish them up and keep them tucked away for Christmas. I often get too excited to save what I’ve made them.

Search for Inspiration

It started with my husband getting the news that he’s ever so slightly pre-diabetic amongst a few other health concerns. (This was when he was in the hospital for two TIA strokes a month or so ago). Things that could be eased or managed with a better diet. I’m the main cook in the house, kind of by design. James is an amazing cook, but I really enjoy the whole process of researching nutrition and recipes. I love trying new foods and creating meal plans. I feel most grounded while cooking. I also tend to make healthier meals than my husband.

While I have never had much success as a vegetarian, I have spent most of my life on a more plant based diet. My mom tried to have a a few meatless nights a week when we were growing up. A few that we thought were meat, were probably tofu or some other substitute. She was good at sneaking it in without us knowing and sometimes telling us later. So I picked up this Plant-Based Meals magazine for some inspiration.

Then I found these two and have already made variations of what I’ve found in them. I’m excited to try some of the breakfast recipes. Making batches of stuff to freeze and reheat later in the week. I’m great at making breakfast, for lunch or dinner, but trying to make anything beyond scrambled eggs or cereal most mornings is not my strong suit. I have made sheet pan egg bake before and cut it up for breakfast sandwiches, I’m looking forward to making it for the girls.

Then there is my love for Fall cooking. I had to work at getting excited about it this year, though. My mom coming down and setting the house to a little more order was a huge help in getting me back into my rhythm. Hopefully I can keep with it. So, to help get some inspiration, I found these. I’m really excited for a lot of the apple recipes. I try to focus on apples and pears in early Fall and pumpkins more towards the end. Although, this year, it’s been a lot of pumpkin already. And now that I like pumpkin spice coffee from a few select places…

Time with Oma

It’s always a bit sad on Oma’s last morning with us. We have such a limited circle these days that it is even more of a highlight to have her visit. Belle helped her scramble up the eggs and cook them. She absolutely loves being a kitchen helper. Oma served them up with reheated blueberry pancakes she had made the other morning for them. Food has always been a language of love for us. Wholesome, healthy meals made to nourish those you care about.

My husband and I took a few hours for ourselves one night, my mom and I took an afternoon for some mother-daughter time, and having my mom here means we don’t have to do all the parenting or entertaining. It’s a wonderful reprieve. It’s also wonderful to have another like-minded adult around. I love the conversations and debates my husband and I get into, but I often forget what it’s like to have such a fluid conversation about hot topics. I mean, she did raise me.

So now that the house is more orderly again (my mom is amazing at keeping up on those daily tasks that pile up when you skip a day or two), I should be able to maintain this for about a week or so. With the girls help of course. I really love my mom’s visits for the time my kids get with her. They become these amazing people around her. They can also be absolute terrors too, but I try to focus on the positive. They’re still figuring it all out. I expect them to get frustrated and overwhelmed a lot.

As usual, it was a pretty brief visit, but we cherished every moment and look forward to her next one. Even my husband.

Trying to do Some Fall Cooking

Now that the weather is turning cooler, my cooking mojo is beginning to return. We had BBQ pulled pork with steamed asparagus the other night. I neglected to take pictures. It was quite delicious though.

Then, grilled cheese with bacon and tomato bisque. I bake bacon in the oven to avoid a lot of mess and grease splatter burns. Then I made the grilled cheese on the stovetop. I usually use a grilled cheese press, so I’m a little rusty with a pan and burned a few. I ate them anyway, and they were still good. I just use the tomato bisque as a dip, hence the tiny cup of it. This is definitely one of my favorite chilly/cold weather meals.

I love having frozen ravioli on hand and I’ve taken to stocking up on chicken tenders, so we had ricotta and spinach stuffed mini ravioli and chicken tenders. It always makes me happy. The kids usually like it too, but they didn’t seem very excited this time. And it was another missed picture.

My mom and I have been a great tag team on dinner while she’s been here visiting. I tend to have a plan and get started while she finishes it up. I had plans for rotisserie chicken with roasted potatoes and vegetables. I picked up the chicken on my way home from work while my youngest helped Oma pick out what to roast. We have mixed baby potatoes (red, butter, and purple), broccoli, baby carrot, and apples in this version. It was delicious!

And another sheet pan meal. Sausage with purple sweet potatoes, peppers, cherry tomatoes, and green beans. Another hit! I’m really enjoying this cooking meals thing again.

Rest is Important Too

Some days you just have to take it easy. The last two days have been those sort of days. I have gotten a few things done around the house. The girls and I have actually packed their lunches the night before two nights now and have had their clothes ready for in the morning. In a little bit, I will get my things ready for work tomorrow and the morning should be fairly smooth sailing. Now, just to get myself to bed early enough to wake early. That would be perfect.

The last two days I have been focused on my yarn work. It’s been really relaxing and just what I need before another busy week. The kids have been extra needy, which is kind of to be expected with all that is expected of them these days. Masks in school. Keeping their distance. Washing their hands a lot more. School days not running like they use to. It’s a lot to handle. I have been trying to keep life fairly low-key at home because of it.

Like tonight. The girls have collected enough change to turn it in and buy themselves something fun. About once or twice a year, their coin jars become full enough with our spare change and change that they collect and we make an outing of it. Tonight was not as successful as usual, but they all came home with somethings that they like and I picked up a few shirts and cooking magazines myself. I’m really searching for some inspirations.

The down side of taking it easy is all the housework that piles up. While I have been keeping up on a few things, a family of five creates a lot to keep up with. Now that I’ve had some good rest, I feel a wind brewing. Soon I’ll have everything all organized again.

Seasonal Wall Decor

It happened again. I can’t find the crochet decorations for the main wall in our living room. A winter or two ago, I couldn’t find the Solstice/Christmas crochet snowflakes. I worked up a batch of new ones, which actually made me really happy. When I found the old ones, I just found new places to put them. Guess that’s what I’m doing for end of Summer/early Autumn this year too.

So here is the start of this year’s side project. I’m pretty pleased so far. I’m going to be making a few more of the green leaves and maybe some maple leaves. On each side of the posts I hang this stuff as well, so I’m going to make apples and acorns for that. Maybe put the maple leaves on the sides. I’ve got some ideas for Halloween ones too. Maybe if I have a set for each phase of Autumn (early, Halloween, and Thanksgiving), I won’t keep misplacing stuff every year.

I also found a pumpkin spice coffee I like. I’m not really sure why I have been so determined to find one, but I do enjoy it at the end of a cool day. And I couldn’t pass up this rich pumpkin roll cake as a treat for the family.

A perfect pairing. I’m looking forward to a slow paced, cozy Fall. The girls seem to be needing the down time too. In another week or two, I’ll have this place looking ready for the harvest season!

Anxiety is Fun

I had a small twinge of it when I woke up this morning. That’s not all that unusual and my morning rituals typically take it down a few notches. It gnawed at me while I drove to work. Today’s version was wondering what I was forgetting to be anxious about. I paid rent, so that’s not it. Bills aren’t due yet, that’s not it. Did I have plans today? Yes, but that’s not making me anxious. Do I have an appointment I’m forgetting about? No. Breathe. Deep breaths, music, relaxing drive to work.

Maybe I forgot to say something to someone. No, nothing that would cue my anxiety. Maybe I said the wrong thing to someone. Again, nothing more embarrassing than usual. The process of getting ready and setup at work took the edge off, but every time I stopped moving my anxiety sat there nibbling, itching, worrying at me. At this point, it was still a bit like white noise.

Part of what I love about massage therapy, is that- for the most part- it keeps my anxiety at bay. I ground myself each time and suspend myself for a while. Sounds strange now that I say it, but it makes sense if you really think about it. Anyway, I become focused on listening to someone else for a while. To the slightest signal from their muscles, their connective tissue, their interstitial fluid. I work my way through the puzzle of created pathways and learned responses. It amazes me every day. The story of a person’s life mapped out in their body.

My first massage of the day was wonderfully anxiety free (I always have a sliver of anxiety, a little critter sitting somewhere never letting me forget to worry about nothing). Then I caved and made a run to the craft store to look for a particular yarn and they’re out, just like the other one is. I haven’t come across it in a couple weeks and it’s making me anxious. I can’t find a decent substitute either. This began a spiral of me looking for it online and not being able to find it that way either.

This is also when it began to dawn on me that I actually was having what I call a high anxiety day. My next two massages were great, but keeping my anxiety at bay was an effort. I had to talk myself through cleaning up and making sure I was set to leave. Even changing my clothes to go home (yet another ritual of mine) was a chore I had to talk myself through. Lots of calming breaths. I picture all of it leaving me and my body feeling relaxed because of it.

As I drove home I realized just how many people are back in town. I work in a college town and we have been without college students for so long, I had forgotten what it was like to have them everywhere. The buzz and the thrum. It’s a lot of noise. Especially on a Saturday. Once I got home, put on my ‘house clothes’, and sat back, I began to feel better. So, long story short, as people begin going back to normal (even with masks) I have to remember to prepare for it. Here’s to relearning how to manage my anxiety again. Yay!