November is a special month for me. It’s been that way for me for years now but I’m only now starting to appreciate it.
First off, it’s the month both my mom and sister were born. So I have people I love to celebrate and honor.
Then there’s the crisp fall air and pretty blue skies here in Colorado mixed in with the golden and rust hues of the trees. There’s gaining an extra hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time.
And the new clothes. Cozy sweaters and leggings. Fun boots to wear.
And Thanksgiving this year is right at the end of the month. The perfect holiday, in my opinion. No expectation of gifts or the shopping for them that stresses me out. I’ve always enjoyed my Thanksgivings, though none of them end up being the same.
There was the Thanksgiving when Hubs and I were new parents living in Lubbock, Texas. We did not have the funds to travel to Minnesota to be with our families, so we made the best of it by hosting a lasagna dinner (I had yet to make a Thanksgiving feast on my own at that time in my life) for new friends Hubs made in grad school.
There was last year, when we opted to stay put in Colorado and got invited to church friends home for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner that included the bonus of lively conversations.
This year, Hubs and I are flying our two adult spawn and one grandchild out to Colorado to spend an extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend with us. I will massively enjoy the planning aspect of it (as a medium recently told me, I’m a “chip off the old block” because my mom was a compulsive yet very talented planner Of. All. The. Events.).
For my small and beloved family, I will be making homemade comfort food (in addition to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. Yes, I said Friday-because I think Black Friday should suck it). I will be choosing an array of family oriented “feel good” movies for us to enjoy. I will be determining games we can play together that interest all ages, from 5 to 52. I will be reserving tickets to a movie or live show that we can all enjoy together.
Note to self: I will keep it together if any of these plans go kaflooey on me. Appreciating that we are all together in one place for this specific and relatively short period of time will be my focus. Like Clark Griswold taught me.
This song will be shared. Because it’s the song that I imagine will play at the end of the movie of my life (yes, I have a rich fantasy life). Accompanied of course with images of my beautiful family, which will have expanded by that time in probably unexpected ways. The setting will be our dream home/cabin in the woods on a lake in Wisconsin with plenty of windows, a stone fireplace, and a couple of happy canines.
Like everyone and their brother (and sister, and second cousin twice removed and ex-mother in law and all their old high school friends), I ventured out for a Target run on Saturday morning.
I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I picked up the cutest summer tank top; navy blue with little pineapples sprinkled all over it. It was $9 on the clearance rack. I couldn’t resist.
I waltzed through the aisles, enjoying some “me” time, congratulating myself in my head over the smart purchases I was making.
Then, as I was about to open up the freezer door to procure the Cool Whip needed to make what Hubs refers to as my “Boob Cake” (explanation and recipe will be found at the end of this post), which was to be shared at a BBQ with church members that evening, I was approached by a bespectacled woman with jet black hair in her 60’s who announced that she and her friend were with the “Church of God”. I told her curtly that I had my own church, thankyouverymuch. That shut her up right quick.
In retrospect, I should have retorted that I in fact was a member of the “Church of Satan”. You know, just to see the look on her face.
As I proceeded to gather the rest of the items on my shopping list, I found myself seething about this interaction. I went from ” I ought to notify Target management that these church people are accosting random shoppers” to “this is precisely what turns people off to church/religion”, to “how condescending that this woman would presume that I am not an upstanding church member and Christian”?
So there went my Target shopping buzz.
Once all my items were in my cart, I moseyed over to one of the checkout lines. I’m thinking to myself “it feels so oddly quiet and still. And why are the lines so freaking long?”. I was informed by the woman in front of me that there had just been an announcement that all of the registers were down. Uggh.
So while processing this information and determining what choices I could/should make in this situation, my eye catches a cool looking Led Zeppelin t-shirt worn by a slightly disheveled looking middle aged guy with glasses. He then turns his back to me.
You know how in public sometimes, you happen upon men (and sometimes women, to be fair) who have chosen to wear ill-fitting pants? Like saggy-ass pants hung low enough to see a little crack?
Well, this guy went above and beyond in the saggy-ass category. His entire, bare, mind you-as in Full Commando, skinny ass was on full display. And it appeared to have a rash on it. He didn’t pull up his drawers for a full 3 seconds, so that is how I was able to ascertain that he is in need of some diaper rash ointment. Perhaps that is what he had in his bucket.
Wow. Just wow. Right?
Then a young female Target employee notified all of us that complimentary Starbucks was available for the taking and that they would save our filled shopping carts for up to two days. I opted to abandon my cart and head to the Starbucks inside the store. The line, of course, was far too long to justify a free Chocoloco latte chai frappe cappucino, so I headed out and purchased my grocery items at the Sprouts next door.
Now that the sheer horror of the downed registers has passed, I will be making a quick trip to Target in the next couple of days.
God, I hope that damn pineapple shirt is there waiting for me.
Strawberry Banana Marquise (aka Boob cake):
Quick story about this, my favorite favorite summer dessert: I found the recipe online eons ago and printed it out. First time I made it, I marveled at how pretty it looked, what with the fluffy white Cool Whip covering the mound of angel food cake/vanilla pudding/bananas combo with a whole strawberry perched on top of it. Hubs advised me it looked like a big white boob. Hardy Har har.
Here’s the recipe:
Keep in mind the whole process, start to finish, takes about 4 1/2 hours!
1 12-16 oz. prepared angel food cake
2 cups sliced strawberries (plus 9 whole strawberries for garnish)
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
1 3.4 oz. package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/4 cup skim milk
2 ripe bananas
1 12 oz. container Cool Whip
Line a 3 qt. bowl with plastic wrap. Slice the cake into 20 pieces. In a small bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with the strawberry preserves and set aside.
In a medium bowl, prepare the pudding according to package directions-but only use 1 1/4 cup milk, stirring until the pudding thickens. Fold in 2 cups of the Cool Whip; refrigerate the rest.
Slice the bananas into the strawberry mixture and stir well to coat them.
Cover the bottom of the lined bowl with 4-5 cake slices. Cover with half of the strawberry-banana mixture and spread evenly. Cover with half of the pudding mixture and spread that evenly. Add a layer of cake slices (maybe 7), pressing lightly. Repeat layers of strawberry-banana mixture and pudding mixture. Finish with a last layer of about 8 cake slices, pressing lightly. Wrap bowl in plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Just before serving, remove outer plastic wrap and cover bowl with serving plate and invert. Remove bowl and plastic wrap. Frost with remaining Cool Ship. Slice the remaining strawberries in half lengthwise and space evenly around the bottom of the finished marquise. Slice to serve.
So I’ve got a gazillion pictures on my cell phone of food with no place to go. Yes, I am one of those people.
I tend to not post these pics on social media because, well…they are not necessarily well received. People find it silly. Annoying. Pointless.
Truth be told, they are probably right.
But the thing is, I have a blog. And I am a foodie. And I love to cook. Well, most days anyway. When I’m not feeling the cooking mojo, I like to eat out. Try new foods, new places. And on top of it all, a large chunk of my job is running a food bank.
Thankfully, my dear Hubs is also a foodie (though he isn’t necessarily a fan of this particular term-don’t ask me why). He and I quite enjoy partnering up in our cozy (aka small) townhome kitchen and whipping up tasty meals on a pretty regular basis.
What makes it, um..interesting, is that I have a tendency to want to follow recipes to a “T” and he is a little more free-wheeling. He tells me that cooking this way indulges his creative side, which as an IT professional during the daylight hours, is a beneficial exercise. So, for the most part, I go with it. We decide which tasks each of us will do and we carry on with it.
Now for my food pictures.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include this pic of the nachos we made, which were loosely based on Chrissy Tiegen’s recipe in her new “Hungry for More” cookbook.
Pay no mind to my naked foot and focus on this beautiful plate of nachos. I never said that I was particularly skilled at taking pictures of food, people. They were scrumptious! Fresh mushrooms on nachos was a revelation for us. As I recall, the primary difference in our version of this recipe was we added chunks of pre-cooked chicken breasts. It was a meal unto itself.
Below I present you with Food pic #2. It’s a chicken breast sauteed in olive oil, slathered with homemade pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese with brown rice and succulent mushrooms on the side. Super simple to make, healthy, and delicious! This is actually on the menu for tonight.
Then there’s this gorgeous plate of authentic hummus I enjoyed with warm, fresh pita bread at a middle eastern restaurant in Kansas City when we visited friends there in February.
I recently made a pineapple upside down cake and brought it to work. I couldn’t resist snapping this pic below of the jar of maraschino cherries used in this recipe. “Real Cherries * May Contain Pits”. Quite the metaphor for life, don’t ya think?
Come on, fellow foodies-share your food pics in the comments!
Here’s the truth, folks: I am approximately 10 lbs. 15 lbs. heavier than I should be, according to the last height/weight/BMI chart I glanced at. If I don’t start losing at least some weight, I will find myself having no choice but to purchase size 14 pants. I really don’t want to do that. I’m accepting of my status as a size 12. It’s okay with me that I’ve got some curves. I don’t feel a need to get down to a size 8 or even a size 10 at all.
I think the two things that need to happen to lose any weight is 1) start an aerobic exercise routine and 2) decrease the portions on my plate. It’s simple really.
Every Monday morning at the food bank I run, a kindly older gentleman delivers a large box of desserts, donated by local grocery store bakeries. As experience has taught me, there is zero chance that each and every one of these goodies will be snapped up by our senior clients by Friday. Turns out, by and large, seniors are actually pretty darn health-conscious. And I very much dislike tossing out perfectly delicious items such as these below.
To top it off, we often pick up even more sugary delights from the Food Bank of the Rockies. I’m talking pies, cakes, donuts, cupcakes…you get the gist.
My mind-set fluctuates between “YOLO” and “Don’t put that shit in your body, dummy!” when it comes to my appetite for all things sweet.
Perhaps I just need to greatly increase my exercise to combat this, which would provide the extra bonus of lessening the guilt surrounding my consumption of treats. But then, I would risk injuring myself by over-doing it. Like I could twist my ankle and end up having to keep it elevated on the couch for weeks on end. Then I’d have no choice but to put a stop to my over-indulgence of sugar unless I decided I actually wanted to gain weight. That would be crazy.
This is quite the conundrum for me. I suspect it will continue to be.
Resistance, in this case, may indeed be futile.
Thank the good Lord that both tunic tops and leggings are all the rage in women’s fashion these days. As a slave to fashion who carries some extra weight, this is much appreciated.
Anyhoo…let me finish this post off with a recipe. It’s simple (aka not exactly from scratch) and sweet and you absolutely should not make them if you don’t intend to scarf them all down in less than 24 hours. They are addictive.
1 package fudge brownie mix (13 X 9 inch pan size)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, of course)
1 cup milk chocolate frosting
Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Fold the sour cream chocolate chips, and walnuts into batter. Pour into the greased baking pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Once completely cooled (I know, this takes much patience), frost. Cut into squares (or ovals, or hexagons, or triangles) and enjoy!
Clearly, I flat out suck at coming up with titles for my blog posts. Any suggestions you may have to address this particular shortcoming of mine are appreciated.
Though the title I chose is better than the original : “To all the Blogs I’ve loved before”. That might have sounded just a tad creepy, right?
My objective in this particular post is to lift up those blogs and bloggers that I have been following ever since I started my own blog (and a couple of these I discovered prior to starting this blog).
I’ve been very fortunate to have discovered each of these blogs and I think if you haven’t yet discovered them yourself, you’d be doing yourself a favor by checking them out now.
You see, these are the blogs that I feel I actually get something out of. Whether that be inspiration for my next blog post, a kick ass recipe, a new way of thinking about something, or a few hearty belly laughs, these are my “go-to’s”.
I find Elly and her blog to be creative, talented, inspirational, hilarious, smart, and entertaining. And she plays a mean ukulele! If I had an opportunity to write with her, I’d take it in a hot second. Elly also wrote a hilarious book, complete with awesome illustrations, thanks to her cohort Joan Reilly, about a middle aged, liberal, educated, cat owning but not child owning (not like one owns their children of course), married couple traipsing across the country in an RV in an effort to make sense of what has become of our country in the wake of the Trump era.
She started her book as a regular feature in McSweeney’s. It’s titled “Amongst the Liberal Elite” and of course you can buy it on Amazon, like I did, or find it in your local bookstore.
CJ @ https://feedingonfolly.com/: She is a fantastic storyteller. A giver of wonderful recipes. She is smart, funny, and kind. She’s inspired and encouraged me throughout my blogging journey.
Lorna @ https://ginlemonade.com/ Lorna is a very talented writer. Her tone is straightforward and her writing, through the lens of a mom/wife/American living in Scotland who gets around on wheels due to CP, is insightful. She is very hardworking and sincere in her writing. She also runs a great blogging group on Facebook which has been a pleasure for me to be a part of.
Then there’s Christine @ https://imsickandsoareyou.com/. She is the blogger who recommended Lorna’s blogging group on Facebook. She blogs from the viewpoint of a woman who was very sick for a good long time, due to a desmoid tumor, who has fairly recently regained her health. She is terribly witty, thoughtful, raw, and honest with her writing. She is imaginative and alternates between being laugh-out-loud funny with her writing and deeply personal and thoughtful.
Annie at https://givememeatloaf.com/ is a blogger I’ve been following I believe since before I started my own blog. She writes primarily about food and travel. She is a “living doll” as my mom used to say. She’s cute as a button and has a way of drawing you in with her beautiful pictures of delectable food (some she makes herself and some from dining out) and travel destinations. There is a sense of fun and adventure in all of her posts. And I owe her a thank you in advance for a recent post on her trip to Puerto Rico with her husband (aka Sir Dave). It helped me to talk Hubs into taking me to Puerto Rico for our next tropical vacation (ha ha! as if this is really a thing for us). But alas, we shall go there! Our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in 2020, after all.
Now, there are of course several other blogs I regularly follow that I ought to mention. Because I respect your time, I will keep it simple-ish and drop links to a few of those.
https://butismileanyway.com/: Ritu writes, among other things, a regular feature “Chai and a Chat” in which she expresses her sweet, positive, effervescent personality. It’s a delight. Reading this always makes me wish I was sitting across from her, gabbing the day away in person.
Fatty McCupcakes (you’ll have to google it as I’m not much of a techie and couldn’t get the link to copy here) : Just trust me when I say that Katie is a great comedic writer. She tells the funniest stories and is very relatable.
Remarkable. That is the word I would use to describe my 2018.
In 2018, my Dad passed away. My brother in law did as well. My mom’s health declined. Our oldest spawn went through a hellish year with her possibly soon to be ex and we did our best to provide her the support she needed. Our grandson celebrated his 4th birthday here with us in Colorado, and started Pre-K in September.
He gifted us with this original creation, which Hubs and I found in our half-bath upon coming home from driving them to the airport to fly back to Wisconsin after our wonderful visit.
Our youngest spawn continued on their quest for self-improvement. Continued using their artistic gifts. Deeply contemplated their spirituality and became more emotionally intelligent and mature. I’m very proud of both our spawn. As 2018 comes to a close, I am cautiously optimistic about their futures.
In 2018, Hubs and I had lots of company and did a good bit of travel ourselves. We continued to engage in our church life and participated in community activities. In 2018, Colorado began to truly feel like home to us, and not just an extended pit stop on our journey as married empty-nesters.
While Hubs continued to practice regularly on his yukelele, his one and only New Year’s resolution (Yay for Hubs!), I continued to blog. Some experiences I wrote about on my blog, and some I didn’t (see note above about the spawn). For better or worse.
2018 was my first full calendar year as a blogger. I published 49 posts in that 12 month span of time. During this magic week between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ve had the time and energy to read and contemplate every single one of them. I thought it’d be a worthwhile exercise for me; a way to gather some insight into how things went on the whole for my blog this year. To start plotting my blogging path for 2019, make some decisions about topics I should continue writing about and topics that may not need to be covered going forward.
This blogging thing continues to be a work in progress, just like me.
Below, in no particular order whatsoever, is my subjective reflection on the top 10 published posts on Pollyanna’s Path in 2018. Meaning this isn’t entirely based on the number of likes, views, or comments each post had. It’s also based on 1) if I thought it was brave, 2) if I thought it was cohesive, and 3) if it revealed my heart.
This post was me essentially whining about my struggles as a blogger. Surprisingly, it got the most likes of all the posts I penned in 2018. I think perhaps I struck a chord with my fellow bloggers with this one. I also made mention of the new Facebook blogger’s group I had just joined and got gutsy and asked for comments, for which I was (gratefully) rewarded. I think the take-away here is that I need to do a better job of compelling readers to comment in 2019. I am open to suggestions on how to do that, fellow bloggers!
I think that this wacky post was the one I enjoyed writing the very most this year. I had such an interesting experience that day at the “Metaphysical Fair” and I wanted to take a shot at telling a true-to-life humorous story. And now that I’ve reviewed this post, I know that in 2019 I simply must have a session with a medium (not necessarily involving Tarot cards this time).
My most emotionally vulnerable post this year was written by my heart. I was so raw and struggling to make sense of my feelings and what our family had just gone through as I wrote that. However, the process of sharing tidbits about my Dad, the things that made him who he was to me, was cathartic.
Once in a while, because I am truly a “foodie”, I am compelled to share a recipe along with personal anecdotes about my relationship with the food I love, as I did here. Going into this process of evaluating my posts from 2018, I thought it likely that one of the topics I would cease to write about on this blog going forward into the new year, would be food. However, I have changed my mind. Cooking, eating, and sharing recipes is part of who I am in my real life, and having a platform to write about all things food (when the mood strikes of course) is just too hard to say no to.
A few times in 2018 I got brave, like I did here. I have yet to see this movie, truth be told. Now that it’s available on Netflix (or is it Amazon Prime?), I will surely see it before long. I like the creativity of this post but more importantly, I like that it was both a bit ballsy and 100% honest.
Speaking of being honest, I did not follow through on any of the activities mentioned in this post. I am such a slacker. Nevertheless, it garnered a decent amount of likes and it felt good (not in a comfy way by any stretch, mind you) to actually for the first time, make mention of fictional characters I intend to write about some day in 2019. I’m crossing my fingers that this blogging community will hold me accountable on this one!
My sweet, loving, hard-working, honest-to-the-core, and greatly missed Dad inspired this post. My intention when publishing this one was to inspire my readers to quit being so darn hard on themselves. And this funky retro sign with this simple but so important sentiment hangs on the wall in our office, right underneath my vision board (note to self: update this thing in 2019).
This post is one of my personal favorites. I was thrilled when I realized that it actually was well-received enough that another blogger included it in one of their posts! That is something I get a kick out of with this blogging thing-putting out a message, in a humorous way, that encourages people to do something positive! Like donating good, non-or-not-too-expired-and certainly unopened food to those in need.
I don’t think I realized until now, as I’m winding down my “Top 10” blog posts for 2018, just how much my Dad meant to me, how much he inspired me. This post is another tribute to him, and one of the favorite posts I have ever penned.
It’s important to me as a blogger, and an almost 52 year old woman, to have a good attitude about aging. To be real about it and embrace it. To not let your age put limits on life’s pursuits, whether it be re: your career, your hobbies, your sex life, the way you dress, whatever it is. That’s why I wrote this post about the women I know who inspire me on the daily.
My personal hope for 2019 is that I will grow my blog, make new blogging friends, and surprise myself (and the world?!) with my ability to tell a good story.
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.