How my mind works…

And I succeeded in capturing my thoughts this time.

I just figured out why our government spends so much money and has mountains of debt.

It’s all hush money to keep those that know about the fake moon landing, the contrails that are poisoning us, the fact that Obama is a Muslim, that 911 was an inside job, that JFK was an inside job, the existence of Area 51, the cure for cancer that the government is hiding, that secret societies rule the world….

……all of the conspiracy theories you can google require hush money.

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Musings

  
1. ARE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My first name is my paternal grandpa’s aunt’s (sorta, she was Jennie. I was supposed to be Sarah but we had a dog with that name, the family lore says my dad balked at naming me after an English Springer), my middle name is misspelled as Ellen and was supposed to be Elin after my maternal great grandfather’s middle name. 
2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? I cry watching the news, the Olympics, when my kids are kind. Really cried? I don’t remember. A good sign. Probably last summer after my PEs. 
3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? It depends on the pen I am using. 
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Salami!
5. DO YOU HAVE ANY KIDS? 2
6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Yes. And I’d be nicer to me than me. 
7. DO YOU USE SARCASM? Fluent.
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Nope 
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? For $5M
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? They don’t make it anymore: Post Fortified Oat Flakes. Their Oatmeal Crisp is close. 
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Nope. Not when I take them off or put them on. Confounds my husband. My kids do it too. 😂
12. DO YOU THINK YOU’RE STRONG? No. Despite evidence to the contrary. 
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Coffee
14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Smile
15. RED OR PINK? Red
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF? I am very mean to myself. 
17. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING RIGHT NOW? Cropped jeans. Barefoot. 
18. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Pork potstickers from Trader Joes. 
19. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? ❤️husband loading dishwasher❤️
20. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Peacock blue
21. FAVORITE SMELLS? My mom. Horses. Neither of which I smell often 💔 My husband <— and that is really weird. LOL
22. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? One of my besties : Christina
23. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? Nada
24. HAIR COLOR REAL? Not since 2001
25. EYE COLOR? green. I am the 3%
26. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? nope
27. FAVORITE FOOD? Maine lobster roll
28. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy Endings
29. LAST MOVIE WATCHED? The Words
30. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Floral
31. SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter
32. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs
33. FAVORITE DESSERT? Tiramisu 
34. What book are you reading right now? It’s about writer’s block and I cannot remember the name. 
35. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I don’t use a mouse.
36. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? The Olympics
37. FAVORITE SOUND? My kids laughter and my husband’s contented sigh. 
38. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles
39. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Tuscany ❤️❤️❤️
40. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I can write, but since I currently have writers block and think I suck, I’m going with “no” for now.
41. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Danvers, MA
Your turn! Entertain me. 

A Needed Getaway….

I have been out of work for nearly seven months now. I have applied for nearly 500 jobs in various ways and gotten little traction. I’ve gotten advice, redone my resume three times, talked to headhunters, got my LinkedIn redone twice. I created an online portfolio. 

Nothing.

I look at the same walls all day. I try not to go anywhere or spend money. My moods fluctuate wildly between depressed, frantic, and restless.

I am running low on savings and entertaining applying at Starbucks.  

Is this my new reality?

Thankfully, my husband squirreled away some vacation money and insisted we “get out of here” for a few days.  It helped a ton with my attitude and outlook.

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My husband and I do suffer from analysis paralysis when planning a vacation. After all, we are spending our hard-earned money. We want to try to ensure (haha) we will have the best time possible.  (Well, at least stack the odds in our favor.) So yes we research and research and research.  Then we narrow things down.  And choosing a B&B in Paso Robles (wine country!) was no different.  All the locations had pluses and minuses. We knew what was a deal breaker: The place had to have a private bath (with a big tub since we don’t have one at home); it had to have a full breakfast: Not a “muffin and coffee grab and go”; and it had to be reasonably close enough to wineries, but not noisy and in town.

We narrowed it down to two: Seven Quails and The Winemaker’s Porch.   I read on the latter’s website “Your stay includes beautiful accommodations, a complimentary bottle of wine… and a gourmet breakfast each morning.”  But the deciding factor, the one that threw us over the edge, was the last name of the owners: Evenson.  Why? My mom’s maiden name is Evansen. I was pretty sure, looking  on ancestry.com at all my cousins in North Dakota, that these people were somehow relatives.  That last name has so many different spellings (my mom told me that those fickle Norwegians changed it on a whim and then sometimes even changed it back): there were seven Evensons in my family tree. I couldn’t wait to talk about possible people in common when I met the folks.

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Getting there:  Oil fields of CA. Tiny Towns.
The drive was supposed to take 4-5 hours and thanks to LA traffic was seven. We did take a “OMYGODDWHERETHEHELLAREWE” two lane road that was a blast navigate. Coming down the hill we were behind a dump truck with a trailer and that driver knew the limits of his truck and was right at them.  I recorded us rounding corners at 58MPH behind him.  For entertainment value alone, this route was a riot. Add in the diverse scenery (caution: take a reliable car full of gas because there are NO TOWNS on Route 33 and no cell service) and you had a winner when you’re in a car that loves corners!

We thought we would be there by four and I called to tell the B&B owners it would more likely be six.  Waze (our trusty traffic app) told us about traffic, but there wasn’t much we could do about it: half the population of CA was obviously going the same way we were.

Are We There Yet?!
The last stretch: a sign “Pavement Ends”.

What? Indeed. It was an unpaved road that crossed over a paved one.

Next right and we were at the gate to the place.  It was 6:10PM.

WinemakersPorchDriveway
Photo from the website

The estate house is stunning and there’s one B&B bedroom located on the first floor in it. But we had reserved the largest room with its own huge bath (soaking tub! Yay!) in the unattached large “barn”.  Don’t let that word fool you: hidden inside is a charming oasis.

I got out of the car and stretched a bit, and noticed the evening wind had picked up: I’d find out over the next four days that this happened every night about 5 or 6 and the temperature dropped from 103 to 50 pretty quickly as well.

Who Are You?
I rang the estate doorbell and was greeted by a couple in their sixties who didn’t look anything like the Evensons/owners on the web site.  They introduced themselves as Denise and Jim and offered us cold water and a chat. It turned out that Marlowe and Corrine Evenson (the owners) were on vacation that week.  My husband and I tried to hide our disappointment.  The owner’s name had been the deciding factor, after all.  There’d be no “how are we related” discussion.  If we had known they were going to be gone, I can’t say we would have still picked this place. But we were tired and ready to shake off the drive and get acquainted with our home for the next four nights.  Denise and Jim offered to have the included wine tasting ready that night: Frances James Vineyards only sells their labeled wines to people who stay at the B&B. We agreed that it was a good night for it. The last thing we wanted was to get back in the car!

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In The “Barn”

The downstairs Barrel Room was charming: a full-sized kitchen with a small living area off it (Jim said we should feel free to store any items needing refrigeration here as the fridge in our room was small).  This kitchen had just been done as the owners were thinking about opening up the barn to AIRBnB type leases: renting the entire place to a larger group.  The stairs up to our room were steep and narrow but well-lit.

image (2)At the top of the stairs we opened a door on the right and entered peace, quiet, and a spa- like scented large room with a canopy bed, an electric fireplace with a remote (it was forecast to be 102 the next day, but nice touch), a kitchenette (small fridge, sink with disposal, and a microwave), a round table with four chairs, two sitting chairs, and a bathroom with a large soaking tub, shower, and a sink.  Oh yes. This would work.   Our hosts left us to get settled and said they’d meet us on the back patio at 7:30.

The little touches in this place were classy: a container in the kitchenette with three different teas and cups, wine glasses, chilled water in the fridge, tons of pillows, very soft sheets, enough towels for eight people,  Gilchrest and Soames soaps and shampoos, a container with cotton, cotton swabs, bath salts and fizzy tabs, and two logo’d soft robes.  Just lovely.  My favorite touch was the choice of books on the nightstand: all “feel good” titles to help with the transition from “normal life” to “relax awhile and think about how lucky you are.”  There were at least two “guestbooks” with reviews/comments people had written about our room and their stay in general. The owners have been doing this for a few years and you can really tell.

Taste and Talk
At 7:30 we headed out to the estate patio, connected to the barn by a paved walkway. Even in the dim-but-adequate-light, I could see planters full of flowers everywhere and the wind had really picked up.  We sat down at a large glass table where there was already a plate of crackers, cheese and salami, bread, two small bowls of olive oil, and four wine glasses.  The seats were padded and overlooked the expansive, green lawn. There was a fountain with a giant ball in it next to us, its water sounds soothing.  Jim explained the wines we’d be tasting and we settled in to relax and get to know them.  They were great people and our disappointment at not meeting the Evensons abated slightly  By 9:30 we were passing a yawn around and realized that after some wonderful wine (try the Petit Verdot!) and a filling snack, we didn’t need or want dinner that night.  Denise told us we were the only ones staying there that night so we could have our morning coffee (delivered to the table outside our room door) anytime we liked.  We settled on 8AM and breakfast at 9:30 and headed up to our suite.

image (3)Amazing (and a lot of) Food
The next morning, (the AC unit turning on kept waking me, but we figured out how to fix that the next night), my husband fetched the coffee and we enjoyed it as we got ready for breakfast.  It was more like brunch: fresh fruit and yogurt and then a large egg dish. Denise is an amazing cook!  We decided that we wouldn’t need lunch that day as we perused the map with our hosts and they helped us figure out where to go and what to do that day. We explored the grounds just a bit, noticing lots of fragrant lavender, flowers of every color, and woodpeckers, finches and hummingbirds who were quite busy.

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Crazy, gorgeous sunsets featuring my new favorite tree.

The next few nights we enjoyed: Peaceful digs and great sleeping (we recommend you open the windows after 7PM and turn the AC on fan only. You get the white noise if you need it and the fresh cool night air), three soakings in the tub, interaction with the four cats on the property (Molly is very friendly), amazing food (enough so we skipped lunch entirely those days!), great hosts/conversations, wandering around the grounds (they have a swing), watching the birds and bees drink from the fountain, drinking wine on the front patio in the dark, seeing owls and bats, and feeling grounded, refreshed and relaxed.

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Pluses:

  • No ambient light makes for great stargazing out front
  • Night winds and coolness
  • Location- by Sculpterra Winery
  • Large room with private attached bath.
  • Amazing large breakfasts (they can accommodate any dietary restrictions)
  • Lovely location
  • Great wine tasting
  • Great substitute hosts
  • Great recommendations for where to go and what to see

Minuses

  • Didn’t get to meet the Evensons
  • No balcony
  • Hot tub would be a serious bonus

We would love to go back and meet the owners next time! (Budget permitting)

I judge a getaway by the “reentry”.  Can I conjure up the feeling of being there after I have left?

Yes. 

(I will get to the wineries and olive oil on a later post!)

 

Ginger Lemon Scones

At World Market I buy this scone mix whenever I can, it is really easy, comes in a bunch of flavors and they even have a gluten free version I got for a friend once, but it’s a bit pricey.

So when I woke up Saturday with a seriously Jonesing for a scone (Jonesing – a much maligned expression for craving) I wondered about making them from scratch.  I had the candied ginger on hand, so I saved the recipe that seemed the most interesting and easy to my phone and got the rest of the ingredients that day. (My Jonesing would have to wait a day).

Sunday morning I got to work. These were worth the wait. I subbed whole wheat flour for half the flour. Very easy. Delish.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/ginger_scones/

 

Human Life

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about life and being a human being.

(Stop reading now if you’re not in a thoughtful mood.)

I look at people who commit crimes and I wonder about mental illness and chemical or structural issues in the brain that can cause depression and schizophrenia, etc. if this is true, then what if a chemical imbalance is discovered that eliminates the understanding of consequences and empathy? This would sure explain a lot when it comes to inexplicable, horrific crimes that are committed against human beings by another human being. The lack of empathy and the non-existent connection of actions and consequences.  The poor impulse control.

And then I go down the road of it being proven that being gay is a genetic mutation.

I’m wondering if being transgender is also a genetic mutation.

Which means that all the religious people who say transgender people and gay people are sick and “choosing” to do “horrible things” don’t understand the science behind this. So science goes out the window when you are religious?

Why on earth would a person choose to be gay or transgender and deal with all of the biases and hatred generated towards them? Who on earth would CHOOSE to be hated so much? None of my gay friends say it’s a choice. They were born this way.

Normal is a setting on a washing machine.

The implications that serial killers and rapists are suffering from a “curable” mental condition means we, as a society must re-examine our judicial and penal systems. And that won’t happen if religion keeps saying these actions are “the devil incarnate”.

Back to the Bible: Jesus preached tolerance and acceptance, and in fact, most religions are mainly about not being a jerk to each other, and lately in all types of religious communities I see nothing but hatred and intolerance. I am really starting to believe religion is the cause of a lot of conflict in the world.

Breaks my heart and shatters my too empathetic soul to see how we treat one another.

All in the name of whatever God we profess to believe in.

(End of philosophical ramble.)

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Cats die everyday…

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Not her. Not yet.
Not StellaLuna.

Not my Luna
My LunaBug
My Poof

Why do we chose to love someone or something (is an animal a “thing” or a “one”?) when it hurts so much when their time on earth ends?

She was a…

  • Five-year-old polydactyl torbie cat
  • Who sat like a ballet dancer (toes in front) and crossed her front legs when she walked
  • “Meow”  No. Luna’s voice was a sweet Guinea pig squeak
  • She loved drinking very cold water (ice cube freak)
  • She only ate kitten chow. I called it Crack. “Want some crack?” Squeak!
  • A brush in your hand – she’d follow you around with her tail up.
  • Terrified of my stepson (too loud and too fast -she hid under the bed)
  • Picked on by Mocha (a year older, not related)

Do cats have souls? Is there an afterlife for them? Is it with humans? Did my dad greet her?

What animals have souls? My sons (14 and 17) both gave this answer. “Maybe it has to do with love.”

Cats die everyday. This one mattered. This one hurts. I feel her absence after only 5 years.

I will miss you, Luna bug. I am glad you are no longer suffering. 

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Weird Food at a Discount!?

I have a cool store near me called Grocery Outlet. I can get $3 bacon, and three pounds of Mexican blend grated cheese for $7 (don’t laugh we use one a month in this house O’teens), a goat cheese log for $2, balled mozz for under $5, Dave’s Killer Bread at a discount, cereal silly cheap (even Kashi) and…. drum roll:

Heavily discounted premium ice cream!
Brands like Tillamook, Three Twins, Steve’s, Hagen Daaz, Ben and Jerry’s, Snoqualmie… you get the picture. They are $5-7 a pint at Safeway. Here they run $1.99-2.99.

 

13138740_10208571694230459_4516199527920613400_nI file this one under: “This is really weird, but I am not sure if I like it, so I will keep eating it until I figure it out.”

I seem to do that with ice cream.  There’s a Three Twins cardamom flavored one (hmmm), (I have tried the coffee milk, Mexican chocolate, chocolate malt, Madagascar vanilla and strawberry and liked all except the last one) and Snoqualmie makes a lavender flavored one that evokes the same reaction:
“Hmm. This stuff is weird.”
Take another bite. “Yeah, really weird.”
Take another bite. “The weirdest.”
Well crap, now half the pint is gone.

Teenager-approved?

I had the privilege of living with a graduate of Johnson & Wales in the 90s. We lived in a four bedroom, 1.5 bath farmhouse owned by a church and paid a mere $450 a month in rent.  Frankly, even with no garage in Virginia, it rocked. Whenever she cooked I was in awe. And her baking… it’s a wonder I am not 300#.

Anyway, we’ve kept in touch over the years somehow. She lives in Baltimore while I’m way over in California.  The cool thing is SHE STILL COOKS AND BAKES a TON. LOL.  Even with teenagers!

So she sent me this. “I changed a few things and it was great!”

Roast Turkey Panini with Pesto, Roasted Red Peppers and Fontina Cheese

Her Ingredients:

  • Prima Della Turkey
  • She subbed Provolone for Fontina (Prima Della)
  • Market Side Ciabatta rolls
  • Rana, basil pesto  (I make my own pesto in the summer – stay tuned!)
  • Classico Sun dried tomato pesto (Her note: “an excellent alternative to pesto, I used both on mine.”)
  • Mezzetta  Roasted Red Peppers  (If you don’t know about Jet.com, check it out here!)She used a Pampered Chef Grill pan and press.

    Result:
    Teenager approved! Quote from her 16 year old..” Its like eating at Panera!”

    Her photo is a riot…. The one on the recipe page is clearer. 🙂

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