This post is largely inspired by a great blog post penned by Caitlin Kelly who has a wonderful way with words. I came up with my own title because I didn’t want to be too much of a copy-cat.
Now that the mid-term elections are over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief (if only because for the time being we have a respite from political ads on t.v. and all of that godforsaken political junk mail), I think it’s time to reflect inwards a bit.
Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, with Christmas shortly behind. I’m just not quite ready to start all the planning and shopping yet. Let’s take a minute or two to relax and consider those things in life which we may take for granted that give us pleasure. Those things that soothe us. Those things that give us a sense of contentment. Those things that simply delight us.
Here’s but a few of mine:
The feel of my favorite fuzzy socks on my bare feet.
Peering out the window of our warm, cozy townhome at the magical, silent, slow-falling snow.
A solid cup of coffee with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top.
A heart to heart conversation via phone or in person with a good friend.
The mouth-watering aroma of a home-cooked meal in my crockpot at the end of a long work day. And the sense of self-satisfaction I feel for having the good sense to put it together in the morning before work.
Waking up naturally, without hearing that silly alarm coming from my cell phone. Ahhh…weekends!
Sipping a complex glass of merlot. Savoring the hints of dark cherry, chocolate, and spice.
A good, long, luxurious shower. The way those hot, wet, pellets of water feel on my tense shoulders.
Interacting with dogs in public. Petting and scratching them, telling them they are a “good girl” or “good boy”. Listening to their human parent or parents telling me about their breed, their adoption stories, their personality quirks.
At work: sharing a laugh or two with a senior client over the phone.
When just the right song comes on my Sirius XM, while I’m tooling around in my CRV. Like the Pina Colada song song (don’t judge me, I realize the couple in the song has a completely f’d up relationship as both are willing to cheat on each other and escape to an exotic island with someone they just met at a bar called O’Malley’s). It’s just such a chilled out, easy-breezy, sing-a-long song though, right? Let’s not overthink this.
How a November day in Colorado reminds me of one of those sweet February days in Wisconsin when the sky is bright blue, dotted with a few fluffy clouds, the snow is melting on the pavement, the air is chilly but mild and there is no wind to speak of.
Glorious pictures of the sunrise in the foothills, taken by Hubs, when the moment strikes, upon his arrival at work.
Please share in the comments what delights you, my delightful blogging community!
Fall has arrived here in Colorado. It seemed to happen almost overnight. Or maybe I’m just not as observant as I could be. The temps are now pretty steady in the 50’s at this point so the days of wearing sandals on the regular are gone, at least until March or April anyway. The leaves are changing and as I’m driving around I’m treated to the sights of beautiful maples with rich hues of burgundy, gold, and orange.
Here’s what I am loving about this particular fall season:
Waking up to those dark mornings. I know, it sounds a little weird, but there’s a coziness I feel when I’m padding down the stairs in pursuit of a cup of hot coffee, of course, in the wee hours after a good night’s slumber and the house is shrouded in the quiet darkness. It’s peaceful and comforting. Though some mornings as a result I have to put up a pretty good internal argument against crawling back under those covers.
Cooking hearty meals and delectable, soul warming desserts. Recently, I made a recipe I’ve had forever and came up with a way to make it even more scrumptious. I will share that recipe at the end of this post. I also made my blogger friend CJ’s apple cake on Sunday and it was seriously the bomb! I highly recommend it! I got a lot of compliments from my co-workers when I brought it to work yesterday. It’s the perfect go-to for fall potlucks.
Bringing out the fall wardrobe. I was smart over the summer and picked up a few pieces while thrift store shopping to add to what I already had. My girly-girl side came out as I tried on different combinations of things to wear to work and when simply being out and about this fall.
Speaking of fall wardrobes, another thing I’m getting pretty psyched about is Halloween costumes. As I mentioned in my fall themed blog post last year, being empty-nesters has allowed us to re-claim this holiday for ourselves. I am currently pondering what costumes we will be donning this Halloween. Contenders are me as a good witch and Hubs as Johnny Cash (my version of super heroes for these times we are in) or “Blue Waves” (which we fervently hope come via our ballot boxes next month). Here’s us in our costumes last year…
Voting season: oh, so many reasons to be happy about this. Like perhaps there will be a surge in the number of Americans casting their ballots. Perhaps sane, rational, not geriatric and not all male candidates will be elected this time. Also that it-namely, the constant political ads and political junk mail-will be over on 11/7.
Now for that promised recipe:
French Dip Sandwiches
Disclaimer: I wrote down this recipe eons ago on a recipe card, and if I could credit the cook who I got it from I would, but I have no earthly idea who that would be.
3 lbs. beef chuck roast
2 Cups water
1/2 cup Soy Sauce (I always use the low sodium kind)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 bay leaf
3 whole peppercorns
Put the beef in the crockpot. Mix up all the other ingredients (minus the french bread of course) in a bowl. Pour it over the beef. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8 hours + if you like. Shred or slice (depending on the level of tenderness) the beef and put between two slices of crusty french bread.
My attempt at morphing the leftovers (which I froze last week and am thawing as I write this) into something even better is this: Slice yellow onions and saute them in butter. Drain the liquid from the beef and cook it in a saucepan, possibly adding additional water and beef bouillon. Heat up the slices of beef in the microwave. Put the broth in soup bowls and add the onions, then the beef. Top with shredded mozzarella. Cut up chunks of the french bread and toss it into the soup bowls. Voila! French onion soup, my way.
I recently read a blog post, written by one of my most favorite bloggers, that turned my approach to writing on it’s head. For the longest time, I’ve been tied to the notion that I needed to focus on quality over quantity with my blogging. This has led to many hours of starting and stopping blog posts, editing and re-editing, and not a small amount of anxiety. Because in my mind, it will be the “high quality” (according to me, and why am I only considering my opinion anyway? Good question) blog posts that will launch my writing into infamy.
Thankfully, CJ set me straight. She explained so clearly in her post how writing more, producing actual crap, and then writing even more leads to improvement as a writer. Quantity begets quality, if you will.
The lesson of the students in the ceramics class being split into two, with one group being tasked to produce one “perfect” pot and the other group tasked to produce as many pots as they possibly could within a set time frame was spot on. When I began reading this post, I made the assumption (you know, making an “ass” out of “you and me”) that the group that was tasked with making the “perfect” pots were going to “win” in the end. Because they were going to be taking their time. Visualizing what the end result was going to look like. Focusing their creativity on one simple “perfect” thing.
I was so wrong.
Of course, the students that made multiple pots were the winners in this scenario. They learned from their mistakes as they created pot after pot. They no doubt tried different techniques and let their creativity flow, being untethered to the idea of creating just one perfect pot. And I’m sure they had way more fun than the other group.
That’s what I’m starting to do with my blogging. I think it could also be referred to as “Spitballing”, a term of which I am especially fond. As in, writing like a madwoman on random topics or just random thoughts about random things and putting them out there on my blog (or not). Seeing what sticks. Being okay with those posts that end up not sticking.
Onto the next topic, which is slightly related. But maybe not.
There are cases, of course, where quality should trump quantity. For instance, my t.v. watching habits. Because while I enjoy getting all comfy at night and gorging on the boob tube, my time is precious. I don’t necessarily need to thoroughly analyze each and every television show I enjoy and weigh their merits, but I think it behooves me to be a little thoughtful about it.
I figure I’ve got roughly 14 hours per week (is that high or low? I have no way to judge this) of time to watch television. There are several shows I enjoy watching. Some with Hubs. Some all by my lonesome. This 14 hours per week is not counting the approximate 1.5 hours daily of news/political programming Hubs and I always watch together (local news, MSNBC, and of course Full Frontal with Samantha Bee).
Perhaps I am watching too much t.v.
Anyhoo, here’s my list of quality television, according to me-don’t judge, that I will resume watching this fall:
The Good Place
This is Life with Lisa Ling
Dancing with the Stars
This is Us
So there is some room there for new programming. Approximately 4 hours per week (perhaps more if I skip to the end on that second, mostly unnecessary second episode of DWTS, to learn who’s dancing abilities sucked enough that they are booted from the show) left. This is where my radar for quality television needs to be employed. I’ve been semi paying attention to the new crop of shows coming out this season, and so far the only one I’m certain to check out is “Murphy Brown”. I watched that back in the day and always found it smart, funny, and entertaining. The re-boot of this show is featuring the same four actors playing the same four characters but in current times, aka “The Trump Era”, which particularly piques my interest.
The only other show I can fathom adding to my list, based on my personal standards of quality is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. I watched the first episode when it initially came out and really enjoyed it. I suppose the only reason why I haven’t picked it up again is because it was too “chick flick-y” for Hubs. So clearly this is one to watch all by myself, on those odd days when I’m home alone or the nights when Hubs goes to bed extra early.
Time will tell if there will be other shows I check out.
Tell me, fellow bloggers, what is your take on “quantity vs. quality” or vice versa, in relation to writing and/or t.v. watching? This curious mind wants to know 🙂
Pumpkin desserts…mmmm. I have collected a good number of recipes for delectable pumpkin treats over the years. Like pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin pie cake, and pumpkin ice cream dessert. The one I’ll be making this week, in honor of my sister and brother in law coming to visit us in Colorado for the first time ever, is Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt cake. I’m more than happy to share any or all of these recipes. All you have to do is ask!
Beautiful fall colors outside. The colors of the changing leaves this season to me are breathtaking. I imagine when Hubs and I are old and gray grayer we will be one of those couples who takes a vacay out East to marvel at the spectacular fall foliage there.
Premieres of my favorite t.v. shows. After a summer of ho-hum t.v. viewing, I embrace the fall t.v. season. This is Us premieres tonight (btw, am so happy that Sterling K. Brown won the best actor emmy. His character is the heart of this show). The Good Place, Hubs and my favorite new show from last fall, has already premiered and it continues to be the most awesome show since like, ever. Then there’s Scandal, which sadly is on its last season. I can’t wait to see how Olivia Pope is going to behave sans white hat. You gladiators know what I’m talking about. And good old Grey’s Anatomy, one of my all time favorites. I sure hope the writers finally wind up the love story between Alex and Jo once and for all.
Halloween!!! After approximately 18 years of having a kid-focused Halloween (aka going back and forth ad nauseum with our spawn about what freaking costume they want and hiding candy that I bought too early that was always found and mostly consumed before the big day), Hubs and I have re-claimed this holiday for ourselves. Last year, we dressed up as Walter White and Jesse from Breaking Bad. Picture will not be made available. Complete with fake blue crystal meth (Hubs, being a scientist, relished the opportunity to create this product). This year, I’m thinking either Samantha and Darren from Bewitched because I tend to have witchy tendencies and he is a great straight man of course. Or Peg and Al Bundy from Married With Children though I’m not sure I can pull off spandex pants in public.
The cool air in the house as I’m sleeping. Nothing says “Nighty Night, Sleep Tight” to me than breathing in the cool air from our bedroom window while spooning with Hubs under soft, freshly laundered bedding.
Nesting. The cool chill in the air makes me go inward. As in, I crave the creature comforts of home right now more than any other time of year. I tend to come up with totally awesome home improvement/decorating ideas this time of year, often to the chagrin of Hubs. I get a huge kick out of going through boxes of fall themed home decor items which Hubs lovingly refers to as either crap or junk, depending on his mood. I am pleased to report, however, that last weekend he and I started a kitchen pantry re-organizing project which has weirdly filled me with glee.
Talk show Halloween hijinks or pranks. I discovered these on You Tube a couple of years ago. Here’s a sample:
Vikings football. Until about 3 years ago, I could not have cared less about football. While Hubs has been a huge Vikings fan all his lifelong life, I essentially focused on making and/or eating football fare like chips and dip, little smokies, and pumpkin bars instead of trying to follow what I believed to be a hopelessly confusing and complicated sport. After a couple of seasons of focus and patience, I now have a good rudimentary understanding of the game. I even found that it is possible, heck even enjoyable, to cheer on our home state’s team while simultaneously snacking my heart out.
Fall clothes. Oh, comfy, cozy, soft sweaters. And fleece! Lovely colors to wear like plum, burgundy, gray, and the always flattering black. With the temps rapidly falling here in Colorado, I’ll be bringing my fall pieces out in no time.
Getting company. For several years now, fall has signaled a flurry of guests coming to visit us, whether we lived here or in Wisconsin. My sister and three of her best girlfriends would come to Wisconsin for a 2 day girls trip during which we would stay in a hotel in downtown La Crosse, and get our fill of shopping at the local boutiques and shops during the day and slurp down our favorite adult beverages while scarfing down appetizers at nearby restaurant/bars in the evenings. Friends or other family often come to visit during the fall as well, to celebrate Oktoberfest (which is a La Crosse, Wisconsin annual several day long party, complete with lederhosen and plenty of beer infused revelry).