On the Other Side of the Pandemic

To be clear, we aren’t on the other side of the pandemic yet, despite all the employers and elected officials who think otherwise. With a year of pandemic living behind us though, many of us are realizing two very important things:

  1. We are not the people we were back in February 2020. There have been significant changes in how we live, how we act, what we believe, and what we prioritize. We’ve found out who looks out for us and who does not, on every level of leadership. We’ve reassessed the value of everything in our lives, from family to possessions to our health to our future. We’ve let go of some ideas of what it means to be successful. We’ve either worked too much or not enough, and it gives us a better idea of what we will demand going forward. We’ve thought about social inequality more than ever before and for many people, their eyes have been opened to it for the first time – you can’t ignore every instance of voter suppression, white crime going unpunished, lack of resources in lower socioeconomic regions, access to vaccines, wage disparity, and on and on and on…
  2. Some people are planning to return us to an outdated version of “normal”. That’s a mistake, and I won’t have it. We didn’t go through all this work, all this heartache, all this discovery and exploration of who we are and what we can do under extraordinary circumstances just to go back to some obsolete Old World Order. Don’t let that happen.

Don’t forget everything you learned – both about yourself and about the world. We are upgraded models of ourselves now. If you found positive things in Pandemic World, fight to hold on to them as irresponsible fools try to drag us back to The Before. On many levels, The Before completely sucked, and some much of that is because we let it. Let’s rant about an obvious aspect of your life – your job. Can we dismantle everything that’s wrong and recreate it in a way that makes sense? Not all at once, and not alone, but if you have even the least amount of responsibility in your organization, it’s time to flex.

In March 2020, organizations decided what kind of pandemic employers they wanted to be and that is their legacy. Those choices will not be forgotten by their employees. Moving forward, it’s important to make your voice heard, because now it’s time for organizations to decide what kind of post-pandemic employers they are willing to be. Many organizations (depending on your field) have seen record numbers of people quitting – not just being downsized or furloughed. More employees than ever are deciding that the Old World Order in their work life just isn’t working for them anymore. They are moving to a fresh start where they know up front what they want and what they are worth. Hearing people say “you should be grateful to have a job” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Talk to your people. Find out what their fears are moving forward. Find out what they will no longer tolerate. Find out the same about yourself.

Make your voice heard.

Make your voice heard.

Make your voice heard.

Go forth, and demand to be who you have become.

Posted in covid, Health, Life, Residence Life, Student Affairs, Uncategorized, work | 3 Comments

The Mardi Gras Guide Mission is Complete!

It looks like all I’ve been doing lately is cooking, judging by all the recipe posts here. Truthfully, I have been doing more cooking than usual due to hiding from COVID/holiday season/pecan harvest/working from home. But I’ve also been doing a bit of writing.

Long-time readers may know that I’ve been visiting New Orleans for years, specifically for Mardi Gras (usually), and after I went on a few Mardi Gras trips I began posting a “packing and survival guide” here to help people like me who didn’t know what to expect. This was @15 years ago at this point, and I refined it yearly to make sure it was still relevant and added other linked posts over time regarding various aspects of the Carnival experience. As my Mardi Gras family grew, we would refer newbies to the posts to get them started on planning. I finally decided to put them all in one place and create a short book, which I finished on Christmas!

I was torn between leaving all the posts up forever or making them a book and finally decided a short and inexpensive book is what I would do. At first, just an e-book because I wasn’t sure it would be long enough to be printable, but it ended up possible to make a 93-page print version so I made an inexpensive one of those too. (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it was cool to have books on my shelf that I wrote.) The newest Kindle Create program is much more helpful than what I used just a few months ago for “If It’s Wet and Not Yours, Don’t Touch It”, and if you have a project you want to publish but don’t want to go the traditional route, I recommend you read more about it at https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/ .

That doesn’t mean I won’t still talk about Mardi Gras here, but sadly, I won’t have new stories for a while. I made the decision to sit out 2021 for safety, as most of my non-local MG family have decided to do. We have been monitoring and debating for some time but even with vaccines slowly rolling out, it seems prudent to wait for 2022. That won’t stop Mardi Gras from happening, of course, even without things like parades and balls, and I can’t wait to see it from a distance.

Posted in holidays, Life, Mardi Gras, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FOOD: Southern Fatty’s Candied Pecans

If you know me through Facebook or Instagram, you know that hurricane Zeta just took down all the local pecans for me to collect. And shell – ugh. But free pecans that I have to shell is always better than what shelled ones cost in the store. Obviously, I’ll make pecan pie for Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas, and some pecan cookies, but then what? The most delicious options are the thing I screw up most in the kitchen – candy.

…and two more bowls besides this so far!

It is so rare for a batch of pralines to come out right that I’ve stopped trying because I can’t stand to waste all that butter, sugar, and pecans. Even just coating the nuts in something sweet or spicy has never worked out for me. The spices fall off or the coating (usually using egg) puffs up and falls off. Then I’m left with dry, sad pecans and more wasted ingredients.

UNTIL…I found Southern Fatty! I’m linking you to his home page because I am in love with all of these recipes and you should be too, but a quick search will bring you to the one I’m going to share with you today. German Roasted Candied Pecans. I was skeptical as I always am when candy making is involved, but the ingredient list didn’t have eggs or butter, and only used 3 cups of nuts so I decided to give it a go. Here’s what you need…

  • 3c. pecan halves, shelled
  • 1c. brown sugar
  • 1/2c. white sugar
  • 1/3c. water
  • 1tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4c. white sugar for final glaze
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup for final glaze (the SF recipe calls for corn syrup but I don’t keep that on hand).

You’re going to end this event by baking the coated pecans so throw down some parchment paper on a large baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350F.

Your ideal cooking vessel would be a copper pot for even heating, but most people don’t have an actual all-copper pot so don’t be ashamed to use a sauté pan with high sides or in my case, an enamel-coated large cast iron Dutch oven.

In your pot/pan on medium heat, bring to a boil the sugars (not the final glaze sugar), water, cinnamon, and salt. Make sure you are stirring – cooking sugar can be a disaster!

Once boiling, add pecans and vanilla and stir continuously until all that amazing liquid has coated the nuts and looks dry. I used my favorite curved silicone spatula for this so I could scrape the pot sides without scratching it and also I thought it would help me not break too many nuts.

Now, here’s what I couldn’t get right (but everything still turned out great). Reduce your heat slightly and keep stirring the nuts and you are supposed to see the sugar start to remelt. I don’t know where I went wrong but after stirring another 10 minutes I never saw that happen. So I added the final glaze sugar and maple syrup and stirred for a bit more to coat everything.

You can turn all that out onto your prepared pan, but I used a slotted spoon to transfer the nuts so I wouldn’t get all the extra leftover sugar on the pan. I was afraid it would burn and few things are worse than an apartment full of burning sugar smoke. I didn’t need to worry – what was there did not create a burnt mess.

Try to spread it all out into a single layer and bake 10 minutes. No stirring, just leave it alone. Remove and allow to cool completely before packaging.

Posted in Food, Life, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

FOOD: Candied Jalapenos

As someone who grew up eating Buffalo wings, it causes me great sadness (and great pain) to say that I can’t eat a lot of hot food anymore. That said, I do still like the occasional hot thing, especially if there is some sweet mixed in with it. I’ve had this recipe for a while but it’s a very 2020 recipe because it is highly recommended that you wear a good mask while working with the ingredients. Some eye protection wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

Jalapeno rings ready for cooking.

Jalapenos aren’t the hottest peppers by far, and this recipe would work with others, but I like a neat stack of cleaned pepper rings to throw into a boiling sugar solution. You do you.

  • 3/4 lb. peppers
  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2c. water
  • 2/3c. white vinegar

I’ll say it again: put on a mask. Do it now. Make sure you have wiped your eyes and scratched every itch before you begin. You need to empty the peppers of their seeds and slice into rings. Then wash your hands really well.

In a medium pot (with a pour spout is ideal), cook water, sugar, and vinegar over medium heat until it boils. Make sure you keep stirring until the sugar dissolves. If you didn’t think you needed to wear the mask until you throw the peppers in, this is where you find out you are wrong. You’ve been breathing pepper oil while chopping that might just now be starting to set your nose on fire. Once you put your mask on all that fire is being exhaled into your mask and setting your face on fire.

Turn on your overhead fan and if you haven’t already, put some glasses on. The mask should (still) be on, and put the peppers in your sugar solution. Don’t stand over the pot! At this point if they haven’t already, family members will be peeking into the kitchen and wondering what the hell you are up to because of the smell.

Wait for everything to boil again and then turn off the heat after @30 seconds. You can cook several minutes longer if you want to reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove peppers to a clean jar, @12 ounces so they are packed tightly. The jar I used is larger than that but it was the closest I could find to the right size. Pour in the syrup and let cool briefly before refrigerating. I recommend trying to wait a few days before opening for the best flavor.

Ideally, these would be packed tighter but you make do with what you have.

These are a good topping on pizza, sandwiches, and salads but I prefer them on top of cream cheese and a Triscuit. I think they also make a good gift if you are invited to a holiday party.

Just trust me on the mask.

Posted in Food, holidays, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

FOOD: Air Fryer Bacon Wrapped Avocado Wedges with a Side of Radiation

I apologize for the blasphemous use of turkey bacon.

Last week I had the poor sense to look in the free section of Craigslist and saw an air fryer up for grabs. I briefly entertained the idea of another bulky kitchen appliance in our overcrowded kitchen. People seem to love these things, although when I asked my Facebook peanut gallery, I heard how often they used it, but not a compelling reason why. When I asked what they cooked in it I most often heard chicken wings. Look, as a Buffalo Girl, I love wings just as much as anyone, but I don’t ever want to cook them myself. I leave that kind of thing to the professionals. I also saw all the online recipe photos of fried chicken and chicken tenders and they honestly look dry and terrible so I wasn’t really understanding the devotion of the air fryer gang.

Later that same day I was at a friend’s house talking about her decluttering goals and she asked if I wanted her ex’s air fryer that had been sitting on the shelf for years. The coincidence was too strong to say no. Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what the hubbub is about but I don’t get it. I made hard boiled eggs – I could also do that in a pot of water just as easily. I made sweet potato fries – they were meh. Then I heard about wrapping avocado wedges in bacon. That was actually a success if you can overlook the fact that I only had my husband’s turkey bacon in the house. That and how the heat sensor (part of the building fire alarm) in my kitchen went off when I opened the fryer drawer. Luckily it didn’t set off the building alarm or that would have an automatic yeet into the Dumpster for the fryer.

Anyway, you aren’t here for the commentary, you want the recipe. Keep in mind I am using an average sized ZENY fryer that is several years old, I think the wattage is @1500, and I really have no idea how to use it.

  • Preheat however you do that (I’m pretty sure I don’t do that correctly)
  • You’ll be cooking at 400 degrees F and depending on the type of bacon you use, the time could be anywhere from 5 minutes (turkey) to 8 minutes (pork).
  • Yes, you could totally do this in the oven but I would bump the temperature up to 425 and leave the wedges in for longer – probably 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven.

I used one average avocado and 8 slices of turkey bacon, much to my husband’s disapproval. He thought I was just going to waste the bacon by making something inedible. I almost did chuck everything in the trash because after cutting my 8 wedges of avocado, I discovered they had no intention of going quietly into that bacon. They didn’t want to be wrapped and kept sliding out of their little bacon sleeping bags. Nevertheless, I persisted.

  • I made these in two batches of four chunks each.
  • I didn’t want to use tongs because I was trying to keep my bacon from unrolling. That was a terrible mistake that caused a nice burn to my pinkie. Use fucking tongs.
  • If you are looking at the picture and thinking the bacon doesn’t look cooked, that’s partly because it is weird, disgusting turkey bacon and partly because I was afraid to burn the building down. I don’t fully trust this appliance.

In the end, these really did taste pretty good and weren’t hard to clean up after. I think it helped that I had a packet of Chick-fil-a avocado ranch dressing that I used as dipping sauce and you can’t go wrong with any kind of ranch for dipping. I even plated them all fancy using some of my antique uranium glass (yes, you can use it and no, you are not going to be poisoned). My husband is not one for compliments but they did seem to meet his approval. I mentioned to him that one downside to the air fryer is that I had to make this small amount of snacks in two batches, so it’s kind of inconvenient if you are cooking for more than one. I told him this could be great if he’s a widower someday however, he responded “Me Man. Me grill.” so I guess this will be up for grabs when I go, unless I chuck it before then.

Posted in Food, Health, Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

FOOD: Orange Cranberry Cakes for Mabon!

Mabon celebrates the autumnal equinox, when day and night are equal, and this year in the northern hemisphere it starts on September 21st, ending September 29. That’s the extent of witchy knowledge dropping for you today because my practice can best be described as Lazy AF. While orange and cranberry aren’t necessarily second harvest foods like squash or apples, making this always helps me feel like fall is near, even though it’s still way too hot outside. This is a pretty versatile recipe and can be made in a loaf pan or muffin tin. Because I’m me, I like any excuse to use my NordicWare skull cakelet pan.

This pan makes six big-ass mini cakes. It’s awesome.

There are three parts to this and two are optional, depending on how you want your cake. It’s a coffee cake consistency, in between a bread and a light dessert cake. First of all, grease whatever pan you’ve chosen to use and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

The first part is optional but why would you not: Streusel topping! You need a small-medium bowl large enough to cut butter into the dry ingredients.

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter

You don’t need a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients; you can slice in opposite directions with a butter knife in each hand until it all looks nice and crumbly. Put the bowl in the fridge while you take care of the next part.

The second part is not optional (it’s your batter!) but you can still customize some things to your liking. Use a large mixing bowl for the dry ingredients and a medium bowl for the wet ingredients. I know, you are pulling out ALL the bowls from the cupboard. First the dry bowl…

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (no, baking powder is not the same thing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped cranberries

Look here, cooked fruit haters! I am one of you! If you want to leave them out and just make an orangey coffee cake you can totally do that. But I actually find chopping up the cranberries nice and small gives a tart little flavor surprise. I don’t hate it. But they have to be chopped up small, you savages – no one wants a big burst of squishy cranberry. Today, I only used @1/2 cup because that’s what I happened to have in the freezer. I usually buy 2-3 bags around Thanksgiving when they are on sale and freeze them for whatever during the year. Usually smoothies or this cake. So don’t fear the cranberries. I suppose if you have Craisins in the house you could chop some of those up instead. You do you. Now the wet bowl…

  • 1 egg (seriously, don’t ask me what size, just get a damn egg)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or because no one really keeps buttermilk around, use almost one cup of milk with about a teaspoon of lemon juice and let it sit @10 minutes so some curdling happens)
  • 1/3 cup of oil (I use canola)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (you could also use orange extract or orange juice – I use a mix of Penzeys orange extract and dried orange peel because I love Penzeys)

You are first going to whisk the egg and two sugars together, then you can add the rest of the wet stuff. Pour the wet bowl into the dry bowl and mix gently to get the major lumps out, but don’t over-mix. As if I would even know what that means, because I can’t figure out how I can get lumps out without over-mixing. Do the best you can, and if you want to infuse your cooking with good intentions (love, good health, prosperity), stir in a clockwise motion. I probably should have started out telling you that, but I’m going to believe no one is going to try a recipe without reading it all the way through first. That’s a cooking tip from a Kitchen Witch (of which I am not one; I already told you I’m a Lazy Witch).

Depending on what type of pan you are using, you are going to place your streusel topping from the fridge in first or your batter in first. If you are using a loaf or cake pan, batter in first. If you are using some weirdo muffin or cakelet pan where the cool design in on the bottom (which will eventually be the top), you are going to put the streusel topping in first.

Cooking time also varies based on your pan and your oven. A loaf pan can be 45-60 minutes, depending on how deep your pan is. I would set a timer for 40 minutes to start with and keep checking after that so you don’t burn it. My skull cakelet pan took only 25 minutes. If you have the topping on top, try to cover the top loosely with aluminum foil halfway through so you don’t burn the good stuff. If you are going to glaze the finished product, be sure to let your cake cool completely first. This is especially important if you are going to remove your cake from the pan before glazing.

Successful cooled skulls with streusel topping that was placed on the bottom.

Glazing your cakes is another optional thing, and there are a ton of simple recipes to do this, but today I just used a mix of milk and powdered sugar, with a hit of vanilla. You could also use one cup of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Simple glazes abound on the Interwebz if you do a quick search but the two above work just as well. I like to glaze by placing my cakes over a wire rack which has a lined pan underneath, but you could also just dip the tops in the bowl of glaze as well. Enjoy!

Fresh skulls waiting for their glaze to dry, if they last that long.

Posted in Craftiness, Food, holidays, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Then I Birthed a Book

I actually met a life goal during Coronacation. I’m a published author! Okay, self-published. So far only the Kindle version. It might not even be very good. Hard to tell after looking at it so much. Wait, is this Imposter Syndrome or am I just being realistic? No idea right now.

In between giant bowls of Cap’n Crunch and binge-watching Shameless on Netflix, I finally got out of my head what I wanted to say about the weird world of living where you work. I keep thinking I should have said more on some topics and less on others, but oh well. It’s done. As soon as I figure out the Amazon manuscript template, the print version will be done as well but the bottom line is I DID IT. I am relieved that I could do something during the pandemic besides stress eat, internally scream during Teams meetings, and walk the dog.

I’m not very good at promoting my side hustles but this exists for Kindle at the moment, should you imagine that it is a thing that might interest you. If you have ever “lived the residence life” you might relate.

Posted in college, higher education, Humor, Life, Residence Life, Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When We Were Small

I grew up in the not great part of town.  There wasn’t a bad part, just parts that were better than others, and mine was less than.  Or so I’m told – I have always thought that my neighborhood was the best in the city.  All other places were boring or full of fancy snooty kids who lived on streets shaped like circles and got to shop at The Limited and Benetton instead of Goodwill. My part of town had the Erie Canal, and railroad tracks, and lots of wild places to build forts, and a giant expanse of athletic fields and park space that took up about half of my side of the tracks. In my part of town, we had government cheese and hand me downs and I didn’t know that was anything other than it should be. We wanted for nothing, even if our parents may have wanted more for us.

Back then, the canal was filthy and full of old shopping carts and fishing bobbers, and all sorts of other things that kids wanted to play with.  It wasn’t what it looks like now thanks to invasive zebra mussels clearing up the water. We would try tying together pieces of driftwood and random junk to build makeshift rafts that never floated and work on go-carts that had little to no go, always propelled by the youngest sibling in the group.

The woods around the railroad tracks and the tracks themselves were appealing in their danger. Although we rarely saw another person, the adults we did see occasionally looked pretty shady and we steered clear, running down onto one of the dead-end side streets where most of us lived. I was the odd man out, living on the main street, canal as my view out the bedroom window where I could watch the rain fall on the water and see the barges and tugboats go by. The tracks were good for hiking on because there was so much brush everywhere else and the older we got, the farther we would walk across one of the two train bridges that spanned the canal and connected the Tonawandas. It was a major victory once you were brave enough to make that shortcut but until then, the tracks gave us a great sledding hill, plenty of places to see rabbits and snakes, and hidden strawberry patches.

At what we considered the edge of the world, there was more wooded messy brush to play in and a ramshackle fort we would decorate by picking things out of the neighbor’s trash.  We moved in an upholstered chair once, thinking we were really fancy, only to find ourselves covered in flea bites.  We tried to hang curtains from the trees which angered the neighbor across the street and she came over and pulled them all down, so we learned to keep our kingdom hidden. We made trails and pretended we were on safaris, hunting for dangerous animals, although all we ever found was mosquito larvae in the industrial runoff stream nearby. I’m pretty sure we were trespassing on land belonging to the manufacturing plant on that side of the street, but no one ever bothered us besides that neighbor. We wouldn’t have understood anyway – if something wasn’t fenced in, how could it not be ours to play in?  As we got older, the edge of the world expanded a few blocks further to include a giant, flat hill that we would trek across because we knew (somehow) that there was a swampy pond where we could watch turtles lounge in the rainbow oil-slick water. The hill was a landfill, although we didn’t know it at the time.  We just knew no one was around to bother us and sometimes you found cool junk sitting on the ground.  And the turtles.

The baseball field fences at the park were easily climbed, the poison ivy was usually avoided, and we picked cherries and climbed the crabapple trees.  On summer nights, the snack shed was open for candy and pop while junior football practice or games went on in the back fields. Closer to the street was the wooden jungle gym that was a marvel of engineering to those of us who saw it being built.  Connected by beams and platforms it was new and fresh and irresistible (and full of splinters) and we completely ignored the warnings of the men who told us no one was allowed to play on it for days so the glue could cure.  Surely there was more than glue holding it together and we couldn’t see how this great castle could fall.  I don’t think it ever did, but it’s been replaced now anyway.  So many hours were spent walking on beams and jumping from platform to platform in an attempt to make it all the way around the structure without touching the ground.  It was the star of the park, especially once the blue concrete wading pool was no longer filled. I remember how exciting it was on a hot morning to watch the playground lady dig the wrench out of the wooden supply box so she could turn on the water to fill the pool.  The box held unlimited treasures, the best of which was boondoggle and multicolored wires for making whatever we wanted, and those loom-looper potholders.  The box was always locked and chained to the shelter that covered the sandbox unless you got a playground lady who didn’t really care if we plundered the supplies.  The good stuff came in on art days anyway, when the craft lady drove up with magical projects like plaster hand molds. We gave the playground ladies (rarely guys) no peace and were always there until the city’s whistle blew at noon and we went home for lunch until 1 when we could go back.

The city whistle also blew at 9p.m. and it’s how we knew to go home.  Now that I know what a “sundown town” is, I’m fairly confident that it told others to go home as well, although you won’t get anyone to admit it today, and newer residents wouldn’t even know what you’re talking about.  Growing up it was extremely rare to find families of color in the twin cities, even though there was a healthy population to the south and to the north of us.  It’s still pretty white. When we were small, race was a non-issue because we didn’t see anyone who didn’t look like us.

Those woods where we went on safari are gone now, as green lawns and newer, more aesthetic industrial buildings have taken over. One line of railroad tracks and the bridge we walked was taken out and the sledding hill was bulldozed back hundreds of feet to make a lawn and parking lot. The other set with the ominous jackknife bridge remains to loom over the new restaurants and upscale lofts, as kayaking tourists glide beneath it. I don’t know if the kids have found new wild places to play, but I hope they do.

bridge
Posted in Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Peace and Quarantine

I haven’t put gas in my car since March 13 and until yesterday when a guy bought my old bedframe off Craigslist, I hadn’t touched actual banknotes (aka cash) either.  It’s been a relief to live and work in the same apartment although I realize I’m in the minority about that.  I feel that quiet time is quickly coming to a close because the university is planning full speed ahead for fall, against any health expert’s recommendations and then my anxiety will ramp up again as I try to stay safe among people who don’t care about COVID-19.

I do have to leave several times a day to walk a dog, so it’s not like I’m a hermit. I’m getting plenty of sunshine and exercise.  I just don’t have to come in close contact with people besides my husband.  I have fears about how that may change in August.  I don’t have to share an office (or maybe I can continue to work at home, which is still on campus).  Either way, I don’t plan to have face to face conversations with people unless we are outside and an appropriate distance apart – preferably with one or both of us in masks.  Email, phone calls, and Zoom/Teams/Messenger are working fine for me right now and I don’t see why they shouldn’t continue into the future.  How my employer sees that is an unknown but for now, the only people working on campus are those who cannot do their work remotely.

Working remotely has plusses and minuses, as anyone who does this regularly already knows. It’s been interesting to see when I am most productive and how much MORE I actually work when I’m here instead of keeping standard office hours.  I used to be a real stickler about leaving the office on time because it’s hard to manage time when you live where you work.  Now the office is always RIGHT HERE and I’m checking email or working on projects more often.  It doesn’t help that my “office” is also my bedroom since it was the only place I could find room for the work computer I was allowed to check out. No, I don’t own a laptop or desktop – I have an old Samsung tablet, even older iPad mini, a kindle, and a phone – all of which seem to be at their limits for storage or updates. I’m also trying to manage work and personal projects together which is easier to do when everything is all in one place.  But harder to get any one of them done!  Currently, I’m working through a khan academy course on banking basics, virtually house shopping, decluttering by putting things on Craigslist and Poshmark (and then forgetting to check my email for inquiries or sales), and finally writing my book.  I’ll tell you I have the forward and first 2 chapters done, which sounds impressive until I also tell you that the chapters are each @5 Word document pages long.  I think that’s about 17 book pages total so…

But at least I’m writing again, even though it is slowly and probably not very well.  I’m spending less money too since I’m only ordering what I need and not just wandering aimlessly through stores as a pastime.  I wish I had gotten out of this habit years ago so I could have saved more and been in a better position now for house hunting. I’ve backed up my CDs, learned some random things from incident command centers to hospitality basics, to how employers treat their essential employees.  I wouldn’t mind things remaining as they are for some time, to give me time to do more home projects.  I would love to really clean out some major crap but I live with someone who feels accomplished by possessions. I’m guilty of that to a certain point (marbles, boots, hooded cashmere sweaters) but I also can let go of things that are no longer useful. To that end, I’ve felt really good when I use up an item and decide it doesn’t need to be replaced. Or something that had been largely decorative that I manage to find a good use for at last because it’s either that or chuck it.  I’ve had a lot of honest conversations about what purpose some things serve and if they are really ever going to serve MY life. That kitchen tool that helps you scrape citrus to get lemon zest?  Don’t know why I have that. I can’t remember a time I’ve ever used it and I’m sure I could accomplish the task with a plain old paring knife if I ever really had to, which I won’t. And books.  I know this is a sin to many book lovers, but I read books and move them on. I hate that most of the Little Libraries around here are currently closed or broken and open to the elements because that’s where I move most of them to. I keep very few. And health and beauty products, holy shit, so MANY bottles and jars of things that I just don’t really like that much, but there they all sit, taking up space from the few things that are actually good products.  One project right now is to use up the junk and stick with my simple favorites.  All those scented lotions can go.  The Bio-Oil that smells weird and is made from petroleum can go. Use up those little trials size things, except the good stuff for travel.  That facial sunscreen that makes me break out can go. All I need is some cold process unscented soap (my favorite is Sisters Soaps out of Washington state) deodorant crystal, witch hazel, jojoba oil, Aquaphor, and cheap vitamin E sticks from Wal-Mart.  Turns out that’s pretty much it.  If I want to be fancy I also like a nice calming mask and some black soap with peppermint. Notice I didn’t mention any hair stuff. I didn’t forget.

I think I’ve gotten off topic but it’s time to walk the dog and then heat up dinner, so I can watch Netflix and neglect my book this evening.  A girl could get used to this.

Posted in college, Craftiness, Humor, Life, Residence Life, Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Emergency Spam

Someone at work mentioned yesterday that SPAM was making a comeback.  We’re not talking about junk e-mails, we’re talking about Hormel’s canned cooked pork, launched in 1937, and grossing people out ever since.  I didn’t think it had ever really gone away because I’ve had a can of it in my cupboard since @1991.  The same can actually, until my husband ate it one day and I freaked out and bought a replacement that he now knows he is forbidden to touch.

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SPAM #2, hiding but ever-present in my top cupboard.

Memories are hazy but my mom gave me the original can when (I think) I went off to college. Either that or my first apartment 4 years later but I’m pretty sure it was freshman year.  The gist of this weird gift was that it was emergency food, and I’d never go hungry if I had it. I should keep it “just in case”.

Never being that desperate I didn’t open the can, but it became a weird lucky charm over the years that always moved with me from place to place. As I told the story to my co-worker, I started to wonder if I really still had the can, it had been so long since I’d noticed it.  But yup, there it was last night, in the back of the top shelf behind the green tea bags and panko bread crumbs. And now you know.

Posted in college, Food, Humor, Life | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments