Friday, December 20, 2013

three hundred and fifty-eight

Friday Quick Tip # 27: Have a musty dishwasher? Don't waste money on dishwasher cleaner. Instead, run an empty load on the hottest cycle possible with unsweetened lemon drink mix as your "detergent" to clear away any gunk and odors. Your nose and now-sanitary dishes will thank you!


Menu Plan: December 20 - 26, 2013

This week is a bit random, as I explained the other day. Lots of easily interchangeable food, save for the prime rib as a congratulations to Mr N. We'll be visiting inlaws at least one day this week, and we're not really sure what else will be going on. Regardless, we'll have food in the cupboards so we won't exactly go hungry!

  • Breakfast – waffles
  • Lunch – leftover cottage pie
  • Dinner – turkey sandwiches with veggies

  • Breakfast – bagels and cream cheese
  • Lunch – out of town
  • Dinner – out of town

  • Breakfast – toast, eggs, and bacon
  • Lunch – leftover turkey sandwiches
  • Dinner – roasted red pepper and spinach lasagna

  • Breakfast – bagels and cream cheese
  • Lunch – BLT sandwiches
  • Dinner – prime rib roast with creamed spinach and potatoes

  • Breakfast – waffles
  • Lunch – leftover lasagna
  • Dinner – French dip sandwiches

  • Breakfast – N/A
  • Lunch – nachos and margaritas
  • Dinner – Chinese takeaway

  • Breakfast – toast, eggs, and bacon
  • Lunch – turkey sandwiches
  • Dinner – leftovers
Total Meal Cost - food isn't here yet :(
Week Total - wow, such lack of data.

three hundred and fifty-seven

Humorously enough, this Forgetful Thursday post was written yesterday. Double the forgetfulness, double the fun, right?

Soon after I got married, I found a collection of removable wall decal picture frames on clearance. I snatched them up and used the set to display a few 4x6" wedding photos in the living room. I later moved the pictures to a corner in the bedroom where I proceeded to replace fallen pictures every two weeks or so. I chose not to search for a more long term replacement for the flimsy sticker frames after learning of our impending move, but Black Friday led to me getting a lovely collage frame for free.

The frame arrived with a crack that needed repairing and life was being crazy--as seems to be usual these say--so I propped the frame up in the closet to set the glue. Fast forward to two weeks later when I ripped 3/4 of the decals off the wall, then skip an additional week to December 19. I was sick of seeing the frame resting against the closet wall, I was even more sick of seeing the random words scattered in the corner, and I was most sick of not completing such a simple task.

I laid out the pictures; I aligned the frame; I used the only two not finishing nails that lived in the tool box. In less than five minutes, I had classed up my bedroom with a picture frame that cost me absolutely nothing.

I suppose that's what Forgetful Thursday is all about, isn't it? And, hey, look! It even matches the frame around our wedding invitation.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

three hundred and fifty-six

Well, the menu plan I promised never happened because it was never written.

This Saturday, the phone rang. Mr N's father was on the other end; Mr N's already weak paternal grandfather (Pop Pop) had another heart attack and was in the ICU. We immediately made plans to head out of town, but when I started the car on Sunday morning, it was misfiring because cylinders two, five and six absolutely hate moist weather. (We've replaced them numerous times at a thousand bucks per service appointment and nothing has come of it...) We stopped for breakfast at a diner, turned around, and decided to try again on Monday.

Come Monday, all went well. We ate at another diner--one that, coincidentally, was across the street from the store where I bought my wedding dress--in hopes of finding not-too-hammy eggs benedict, we visited Pop Pop in hospice, I ate an eighth of a sandwich that I still want to go back in time and finish, then we turned around to head home to ride out more snow (and spend more money on delivery food). Mr N is finally back at work and I'm finally back to cooking, but I haven't been to the store or placed a grocery order. Tonight's dinner will be cottage pie using ingredients I have on hand (yay freezer beef!!) and tomorrow will be... something, I'm sure, and after that, we're on to next week's menu!

Unfortunately, we don't quite know what the following weeks will bring. We're expecting to go out of town for Pop Pop's funeral, but we don't exactly have a date yet, given the fact that he's still in hospice. I'm hoping for the next week's menu to be easily changeable, easily saveable, and, well, easy. I'm planning it now and will write/schedule Friday's post so that it will show up regardless of whatever craziness life decides to throw at me.

Until then, I'm processing my grief. I've never known someone who was dying; death has always a sudden occurrence for me. Honestly, I don't know how to feel. Should I be happy that I was given the privilege of experiencing the feeling of having a grandfather who loves me unconditionally? Should I be sad that he isn't done living his life yet? Should I feel lucky for having the privilege of knowing a man who, on his death bed, was still flirting with the young nurses--while simultaneously remaining respectful of the nuns?

I suppose death, whether impending or sudden, is a mixed bag of emotions. The problem is, I can't really figure out which emotion is "correct" or "proper". I've never known impending death, and I can't help but feel like I'm doing it wrong. So, instead of focusing on the sadness, the frustration, the sense of loss, I'm going to be a true Newell and argue about who Pop Pop loves more. And, let's face it: Despite my status as an "outlaw" (the name given to us loudmouthed, outspoken Newell wives), I've at least tied with the genetic Newells.

How do I know? Elementary, dear readers! As we all took turns giving the Old Man a hug goodbye, I leaned in and pecked him on the cheek. Exhausted from the joy of spending the day with those he loved, his eyes fluttered. He visibly contemplated his situation and chuckled, "Well, at least I got a kiss out of it." Swallowing my emotions, the only thing I could do was walk to the other side of his bed and kiss his other cheek.

"Well, let's make it two."

Friday, December 13, 2013

three hundred and fifty-five

I don't have my menu planned for this week yet! I'll update this post tomorrow after I figure out what's going on with the weather this weekend. See you then!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

three hundred and fifty-four

As promised yesterday, here is my twist on New Year's resolutions 2014 bucket list! But before we get to the meat of it, I figured I'd take a minute to post the abridged 2014 Bucket List Terms and Conditions of Use. The list items (hereby referred to as "items") may be completed in any desired order. A maximum of 2 (two) items may be completed per month. Should a list item become unavailable due to uncontrollable extenuating circumstances, an equal or better item may be substituted. The list's fourteen items shall be completed in full by December 31, 2014. Failure to complete the Bucket List may result in excessive boredom, hair loss, depression, dropsy, weight gain, feelings of uncoolness, hypertension, weight loss, and decreased attention span.

Bucket List 2014

  1. Cook my way through the Milk Bar Cookbook.
  2. Visit Amish country; convince (AKA pay) someone to give me a buggy ride.
  3. Wander around NYC like a tourist; see at least one iconic landmark.
  4. Wander around DC like a tourist; see as many national monuments as possible.
  5. Learn to knit; make a scarf and a hat.
  6. Learn to make my own ricotta and mozzarella cheese.
  7. Grow a container garden; don't let black thumb help this time.
  8. Learn to bake brown bread that I actually want to eat.
  9. Go on vacation with just Mr N (for, like, the first time ever).
  10. Replay every Zelda game with 100% completion.
  11. Set up an etsy shop; sell geeky hats and/or aprons.
  12. Go ice skating in Bryant Park.
  13. Learn to bake a perfect New York style cheesecake.
  14. Finally finish decorating my first "grown up" living room.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

three hundred and fifty-three

It seems that every year the holidays come sooner and sooner. Halloween decorations appear once school is back in session, and we wake up to turkeys alongside candy canes on October 1. Moreover, based on what other bloggers are posting, New Years resolutions are to be completed and notarized by... eleven days ago. Oops!

In general, I don't understand resolutions. I can't get behind planning on starting to change my life or to be a better person because, seriously, if my ADHD self did that, nothing would ever change for the positive. Because of my inability to resolve to change in the future, I usually choose to forgo the whole resolution thing and just greet the new year with a kiss, a cheer, and a toast--and the next day, I wake up and keep on keeping on with my everyday life.

This year is different. I had expected to ring in 2014 in the DC metro area rather than just outside of NYC. I had planned on seeing my friends, taking in the District as a real! live! grown person!, and maybe picking up some takeaway from our old favorite Indian restaurant next to the Asian market. I was so looking forward to a new beginning in a familiar environment that I didn't even consider the possibility of plans changing. And, as you may know, I don't do change well...

...Unless I make a game of it, of course. So, instead of following the crowd and making a list of resolutions for 2014, I'm going to make a pre-2015 bucket list. I'm going to force myself to spend a little cash to enjoy the sights and sounds of the great city of New York. I'm going to travel more, and when we get there finally explore DC. I'm going to spend quality time with my favorite people. Forget changing the things I don't like about me; this next year is about focusing on everything that I love.

After a difficult 2013, I invite you all to join me in turning New Year's resolutions on their head. Together, we can plan on making 2014 the best year ever, warts and all. Tomorrow, I'll post next year's bucket list--and I'd love if you would do the same, either in the comments, via email, or in your own blog post! Start with one big thing for the year, then add one little thing per month (plus something just for you!) for a total of 14 things to cross off your bucket list in 2014.

I know it's a little unorthodox, but what isn't these days?

Monday, December 9, 2013

three hundred and fifty-two

For the past six or seven years, I have made an effort to make a different treat to give to friends and family. My first year's gift consisted of homemade marshmallows and stuff for hot cocoa in a mug, another year featured a trio of flavored shortbread. There have been truffles and butter cookies and biscotti, oh my! This year, I was looking forward to taking a break from being creative and focus on moving, but then the whole "you're not moving yet!" thing happened.

Now I'm back at square one with only a couple of weeks to think of a unique food gift, make said food, package it, and throw it in the mail with some hand written holiday cards. Oy. I'm at the point where I'm considering buying some bags of flour, sugar, and baking soda and labeling them as "cookie starter". Or, while we're talking starters, maybe I can be an evil little elf and give everyone some of the never ending Amish friendship bread starter?

Well, according to NJ Transit, it looks like Mr N will be working from home tomorrow which means I'll probably spend the whole day poring over old magazines and, if I dare, perusing a bit of Pinterest for non-chevron patterned, glutenous, actually homemade, gift-worthy treats for Festivus. Here's to hoping that I find something that meets those qualifications while remaining budget friendly! Otherwise, at least I have the cookie starter to fall back on. And, now that I think about it, flour is on sale this week...