Tag Archives: family

Here we go…

2 Aug

In October 2010, I moved back with my parents. Partially to help them out as they got their house ready to sell, and partially to save money. You see, I had a plan of how to reach some financial goals in terms of debt and retirement. So I had to spend as little as possible. But I needed to keep dancing. Yes, needed. I can’t imagine my life without it. So for four years, I lived on a cash-only basis, I didn’t go out much, I didn’t buy a lot of clothes, I ate out less, I put my stuff in storage and stayed with friends paying cheap rent. My target date, if all went according to plan, was July 1, 2014.

And you know what? I MADE IT. I’m now debt-free, I’ve looked at my retirement and savings and am track, and I have a habit of operating with cash only, no credit.

When I moved four years ago, I knew where I wanted to live when I was out on my own again. And I found an apartment in that complex. The rent is a little higher than I was planning on. But I readjusted my budget and just know that things will be a bit tighter for a short while. It’s worth, though, to live in a grown-up place in a neighborhood I love.

July was crazy. I moved. And after moving so many times (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and now 2014 – yikes), I know that moving is the most stressful thing I can do to myself. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of practice over the last few years in how to cope with it. Rule number one: Have professionals do the actual moving. Rule number two: Unpack as quickly as possible. I moved on a Wednesday morning and had the last things done on Saturday. BOOM.

And while money is tighter, it’s not horribly tight. I can still go out with friends, I can buy some clothes, and most importantly, I can still afford all my dancing. And I’m excited to live my life again! I’m in my own apartment, which hasn’t happened since 2010. I just feel like it’s all starting over, I get to be a grown-up again and not crash with friends. I really can’t describe how excited I am. I’ve been inspired to cook and bake again, and I’ve started going to the gym every day before work. (OK, it’s literally a two-minute walk door-to-door, so how can I not? But still…I’m there every morning!)

And I love my apartment! It’s got enough space but not so much that cleaning’s a pain. All my stuff fits in nicely, and there’s great storage too. The kitchen is fantastic, although I haven’t cooked with an electric stove and oven in years. But I’m adjusting to that.

I owe my parents and my friends a lot for letting me live with them and pay cheap rent. I can never describe to any of them what that support and help means to me. Without them, I would have had to stop dancing. And can you imagine me without dancing? That’d be one sad Cathy. Let’s not go back there, shall we?

I wish I was a better writer so I could convey just how energized I am now to do THINGS. I’m knitting again, I’m baking, I’m reading, I’m RUNNING again (right? yeah it’s been a while)…I am HAPPY. So very happy.

happy-dance

The family chili

3 Nov

It’s a beautiful fall day here in Minnesota…sunny and a high of 54. I love fall, as I’ve mentioned before. And colder weather means CHILI! So I’ve got a crockpot going of it right now.

My chili is super basic. It’s actually my ex-husband’s family recipe. When we were married, we made it each Christmas Eve for the family gathering. I still love it, so I kept the recipe when we divorced. I like it because it’s basic and you can make it as spicy as you want. I usually make it in a crockpot, but in a pinch I’ve made it on the stove in about an hour.

Tom’s Chili

1lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 family-sized can of tomato soup
1 large can (28oz I think?) of diced tomatoes
3 cans of dark red kidney beans (drain two cans, leave one can undrained)
Chili powder and cumin

Brown ground beef and onions. While they’re browning, in a crockpot mix the tomato soup, diced tomatoes, and beans. Add chili powder and cumin and whatever spices you want. When beef and onions are done, mix them in with the tomato/bean mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Set crockpot to low and cook about 8 hours.

chili

Adventures in dogsitting

6 May

So a month ago, I dogsat for my friend WH. Now, normally dogsitting is not that big of a deal right? The difference here is that she has two dogs who HATE each other. They cannot be in the same room with each other at all, or a big fight will start. So there’s a whole system of babygates and closed doors to keep them apart. But if they got together without anyone there to break it up, they would probably kill each other.

No pressure right?

Needless to say, I was a bit nervous about this. Every time I left that weekend, I was worried I had missed a door or a gate, and I’d come home to find a dead dog. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Individually, they are both sweet dogs. One of them is silly and goofy (despite being almost 13)…

bailey

and the other is super cuddly…

meg

Besides hanging out with the dogs, it was so nice to have a place to myself for so long. Plus, she has cable! So I got to watch a lot of bad TV – all in the name of hanging out with the dogs, right?

Apparently my friend thought it went well on her end too, because she asked me to do it again for a weekend in June. Of course, I said yes. I can’t wait. Plus, I don’t think I’ll have the anxiety every time I leave this time. So it should be good. Especially if my foot is better by then.

Weekly roundup

2 Apr

In the last two (sheesh, I’m behind) weeks, I…

*FINALLY shared some of the amazing recipes I’ve made lately, including a super one for homemade peanut cups.

IMG_0675

My friend LG read about them and tried them the very next day and loved them.

*Had a book club meeting where we finished “The Count of Monte Cristo”. It was a loonnnnggg book, and I had the abridged version (by mistake.) I’d like to go back and read the full version someday because I do feel like I missed some details. Someday.

*Went for coffee with my niece LB who was home from college for spring break. So fun to see her!

*Enjoyed a very lovely day off, including a long run outside. Well, long for me…about 2 miles. Slow (about 10:45 per mile), but still, I ran them all!

*Was all fancy and had dinner with my friend SH at a private club in St Paul. So posh.

*Saw the hand surgeon about my wrist. Surgery is scheduled for the end of May.

*Had dinner with my friend SP. And we tried a fantastic place for dessert. SO GOOD. And I could feel the diabetes setting in just walking in the door.

*Practiced at the studio. I do dance homework at home, but some things you just need the studio space for. But I hate practicing at the studio. Which is silly and ridiculous but true. My friend SH feels the exact same way, except I don’t think she practices at home. So we made a pact to meet at the studio once a week to practice. We did it last week for the first time, and it was great. Like having a workout buddy but with dance.

*Caught up with the fabulous KB over coffee. Alas, it was way too short – we didn’t cover everything!

*Took a knitting class with DF. It was great because she had never knit, and I learned some basic things (cough cough cast-on) that I never really learned properly.

*Had Easter dinner with the family.

Weekly roundup

26 Nov

Last week, I…

*Tried a kale smoothie.

And LOVED it.

*Went to the Thanksgiving potluck at the dance studio. So much good food! Oof. It’s like having a whole second Thanksgiving dinner.

*Put on my cranky pants and felt like I was failing at everything. Which meant emotional eating.

*Ran the Turkey Day 5K. And ran it in 36 minutes! My goal was to do it in under 40 and to not walk any part of it. Met both goals!

*Had a fantastically relaxing long weekend. Got lots of stuff done around the house (including putting plastic wrap on the windows) and made huge progress on my knitting projects. And read a lot.

*Ate Thanksgiving dinner with the family. And made the traditional tea-ring.

*Finally remembered to tell you about my jewelry holders.

*Watched “Paranormal Activity 3”. If you haven’t seen these movies, go watch them. They’re totally psychological – no blood and gore – but really good. Can’t wait to see 4 and see how the story continues.

*Thought about what happy people do differently. Well, the universe put that thought in front of me. Still, I paid attention.

Granny’s recipes: Spice cake

18 Oct

So you know my parents recently downsized. In going through their stuff prior to their move, they cleaned out a lot of stuff. A LOT. My dad found a packet of papers that turned out to be a whole bunch of recipes his mother had typed out. For who, we’re not sure. But it was such a treasure trove. She died when I was two, so I never really knew her. But my dad was super close to her, and apparently she was an awesome baker. So I was excited to get a copy of her recipes.

You know I like to bake, so I’ve decided to go through the book and try some. A lot of them are not well written, so it’ll be interesting to see how this goes.

To start, I chose a spice cake. The directions were mostly there, so I figured it was an easy one to start with. Some things were weird in the directions though…like dissolve the baking soda in the milk before adding to the batter and adding the milk after the flour. Still, I figured she knew what she was doing, so I just went on faith. When it was cool, I frosted it with a frosting recipe from her stack as well. And then I tried it. I thought it was amazing, the most flavorful spice cake I’ve ever made.

So I’m excited to try more of her recipes. Stay tuned…I’ll be sure to post them here!

***
Spice Cake
4 tbsp shortening (I used butter)
1.5 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 tbsp molasses
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg
1.5 cups sour milk or buttermilk
1.5 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan. Cream shortening and sugar together. Add eggs and beat good with a mixing spoon. (I used my trusty stand mixer for the whole recipe.) Add molasses and mix well. Add flour and spices and mix well. Add baking soda to milk and dissolve; add milk mixture to batter and mix well. Stir in raisins and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 35 minutes or until done. (The recipe calls for baking it for 45 minutes, but that’s before ovens became powerful. I baked it for about 40 and the edges were overdone. So I’d start checking it at 25 minutes.)

Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1.75-2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter and brown sugar together over low heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes while stirring constantly. Add milk and stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Cool until lukewarm. Add powdered sugar and mix well. If it gets too hard, add a few drops of hot water.

Weekly roundup

24 Sep

Last week, I…

*Had an awesome birthday…with homemade cake!

*Determined that I’m doing really well and am in pretty good mental health.

*Had lunch with a friend from college that I haven’t seen in probably 15 years. It was so much fun catching up. I’m amazed at the woman she’s become.

*Did not go to the gym. Fail.

*Made another great cocktail.

*Had round two of birthday dessert.

Because why not?

*Enjoyed dancing again this week. So glad I’m remembering to have fun with that.

*Went to try a new church. I drove up about 5 minutes before the service, and there were literally 4 cars parked there. No one was walking in. It felt a little deserted, so I didn’t go in. To be honest, it felt a bit creepy. Oh well. The search for a church continues.

*Had brunch with my parents at one of my favorite places.

Wrenches and chocolate chip cookies

1 Apr

This weekend had many wrenches thrown in it.

As you know, my siblings and I met at my parents’ house to sort out furniture and stuff. My mom was planning on serving lunch first, but she forgot to tell any of us that except one of my sisters. So she made this big lunch, which was awesome, but it threw our schedule off.

Going through the stuff took a bit longer than I thought, mainly because there were too many jokes along the way. Lots of Monty Python quotes thrown in. We actually had a really good time, and there weren’t any arguments about it. Actually there weren’t any. We were all pretty good about if more than one of us wanted something, people kinda naturally backed down. I got a few things the TV stand I wanted, as well as some books and stuff that were my grandparents’.

But that all took a lot longer than I thought, so I had to run (not literally, don’t worry) to my dance lesson. My teacher was running late, so that made me late to run an errand and then go watch movies at NA’s house.

Friday night when I got home, I found out that the floor guy was coming to do some touch-up and a second coat on the kitchen floor. He was coming Sunday morning, which meant I had to do all my cooking on Saturday instead of Sunday. So that was another wrench and something to try and squeeze in before lunch on Saturday. Then we realized that the last time the floor guy was here, we weren’t supposed to run the dryer or the oven afterwards. We thought that had to do with the staining and not the polyurethane, but I figured I’d be safe rather than sorry and do my laundry on Saturday instead of Sunday. Yet another wrench.

And because I needed to destress a bit in the middle of all this, I made cookies on Saturday. (Because trying to squeeze in one more activity would be less stressful?) I was planning on making a regular Toll House chocolate chip cookie (well, actually more than one), but I found a recipe on Joy the Baker that sounded yummy. I didn’t want to add the sesame seeds, just because I wanted a basic cookie, but it still turned out great! It’s a little saltier than my traditional chocolate chip cookie, which makes it FANTASTIC in my book. It may be my new go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Courtesy of Joy the Baker

***
Sesame and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies  from Joy the Baker

Ingredients
2.25 cups flour (I only had 2 cups of regular flour, so I substituted almond flour for the rest)
1 teaspoon baking salt
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon soy sauce (I KNOW!)
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (I left these out)
1 cup dark chocolate chips
about 1/4 cup black sesame seeds for rolling (I left these out)
Sea salt for topping (I did NOT leave this out!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the egg and the egg yolk and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and soy sauce. Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients all at once. Beat on low speed until just combined. Stop the mixer, and fold in the sesame seeds and chocolate chips with a spatula until well combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop cookie dough by the heaping tablespoonfuls into your hand. Roll in a ball, and toss around in the black sesame seeds. The dough balls don’t need to be completely covered in seeds, just coated well. Place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12-14 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven, allow to cool on baking sheets about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in airtight container. Cookies will last for a day or two because the oils in the seeds tend to go rancid. (The other reason I left the seeds out – the cookies should last longer!)

Sorting out the family heirlooms

31 Mar

Well, not the heirlooms really. We don’t really have any heirlooms. But today, my parents, my siblings, and I are gathering to determine who wants what furniture of the furniture my parents aren’t taking with them when they move.

This could be interesting.

I really only want one thing. And it’s not even a valuable piece of furniture – it’s just a nice TV stand, which I’ll need when I move. But I’m certainly not tied to it, so I won’t fight too much.

I’m curious how my siblings will be with this process. Will we all be adults and negotiate and concede? Or will we be like we were when we were little and argue about things?

Luckily, I have a dance lesson this afternoon, so I have an automatic out. “Oh sorry, gotta run!”

Then it’s pizza, drinks, and movies with NA at her place. Which will be a great way to destress, if that’s what’s needed after the furniture sorting.

Mantra for today: Breathe and hang in there.

Weekly roundup

26 Mar

Last week, I…

*Worked a bunch of hours. A BUNCH.

*Helped my parents move a crapload of furniture to the garage in preparation of selling their house. No need to go to the gym that day – my biceps were sore the next day.

*Had dinner at my sister AK’s house and hung out with her family. It was actually nice. Good to reconnect with those kids again.

*Brunch at the fabulous Zumbro Cafe with JK. Words can’t describe the food or the company – both were awesome.

*Wondered in what way I’m special.

*Work party for my part-time job at Pinz. Found out I still suck at bowling, but it was fun.

*Birthday party for my niece/goddaughter. She’s one of the sweetest kids ever. I forgot her present though at home – epic fail on my part.

*Had so much crap scheduled this weekend, I had to take today off to get things done like laundry and cleaning. Nothing makes you feel like an adult like using vacation time to do laundry and pay bills.

*Made a pear-chocolate cake – info on that soon.

*Read “Hunger Games” and the sequel. Both were good, although not the be-all, end-all people have been making them out to be, in my opinion.

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