Feel Good Friday 77
Happy Friday, my friend. This week was full of surprises at every turn. My parents arrived for a visit on Tuesday – just in time for our state to practically run out of gas. That evening, Wilder looked at me funny and then proceeded to vomit. (Grateful for my machine washable dining room rug!) Why do kids always get sick when you have company? Aside from the gas shortage and vomit surplus, there were some lovely surprises as well, like spying my favorite flowers on a walk, an audiobook I’ve been wanting to check out became available and I had a lovely Mother’s Day. It may sound funny to lump that last statement into a “surprise,” but Chris has never been one to make a big deal of the day. This year was better. And I needed it. I hope your week was only filled with happy surprises. But if it was anything like mine, know that you are not alone. I see you and raise you one crusty puke crib sheet. Eew. Enough about that. Let’s talk good stuff!
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Farm Fresh Recipes
It feels wrong following that paragraph up with food, but here we are. On the weekends, I’ve been visiting a beautiful family-run and Black-owned organic farm about 30 minutes away. I ride with two neighborhood friends and we enjoy good conversation there and back. Or maybe it’s mostly me talking their ears off, but they’re nice about it. 😉 Last Saturday, there were lots of new offerings, including a favorite of mine, fennel. I brought some home and used this recipe to roast it and replaced the parmesan with my vegan version. It was absolutely delicious and so easy to make.
On the plate with our fennel, we served mahi-mahi (which Chris cooked with onions – mama loves charred onions!) and a salad with farmers market strawberries and spinach, goat cheese and pecans. I used this citrus vinaigrette and it was the perfect complement – not too sweet and the dijon was a great touch. The next evening I made us a salad and Chris asked if I was using the leftover dressing because he’d really enjoyed it. Sorry, Chris, but I used it at lunch. Oops.
A funny but relatable audiobook
A few weeks ago, I shared a book I had really enjoyed: Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby. The author had praised Shrill by Lindy West (yes, the book that the hulu show is based on), so I added it to my list as one to listen to. It became available through my Libby app this week and I started it Monday afternoon on my walk. It’s a shorter book, about 6 hours of listening time (as compared to the 13.5 hour book I just finished- that was long!). I love when authors, especially those of non-fiction works, read their own writing because they can convey so much more the real emotion in their words. Shrill is about learning to embrace yourself for who you are. I am always here for those kinds of stories, especially when they’re told in a self-deprecatingly humorous manner. West writes in a way that has opened my eyes and made me much more aware of the implicit bias I don’t realize I am practicing sometimes.
Another McMahon Creepy Mystery
Over the years I’ve read several books by Jennifer McMahon. They most often tick so many boxes for me: Some sort of supernatural ghost story, quaint New England setting, interwoven female family bonds. All of those elements generally come together to create a story that grabs me. I recently shared her latest book, The Drowning Kind, and someone mentioned this one to me. I realized I hadn’t yet read it so immediately hopped to my library to check out The Invited. It’s the story of a couple building a home on property that is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who was hung after being accused of being a witch in the early 1900s. This one mixes more realistic murder-mystery with supernatural. I won’t tell you what happens, but if you like those creepy ghost stories mixed with family tales, I highly recommend this one.
A Small Appliance Savior
I recently read about this $20 hand-held steamer and decided to purchase it. We’re terrible about taking items out of the dryer in time to hang them so that they’re wrinkle-free. And we’re just as terrible about actually using an iron. It feels like so much work to set up the ironing board, fill the iron with water, move the shirt/skirt/dress all over to try to press every section. I need a nap just thinking about it. We, instead, have opted for hoping no one notices how wrinkled we are. Faces or clothes. Well, this steamer is a total breeze to use, and it’s actually on sale right now for $15 – less than I paid! I’ve used it several times already and now I can go out in the world wrinkle-free in under just a few minutes! Hallelujah! Forget about the air fryer. This is the small appliance your house needs.
Marriage: A True Story
Once there was a couple who loved each other very much and were raising three kids together in a cozy little ranch. A pandemic hit and times were stressful, so they made a schedule that carved out one night a week for them to reconnect, talk, take time for one another. For many months, life went on like this and, despite the state of the world around them, they were happy. A simple at-home date night once a week playing Scrabble or enjoying wine and a charcuterie board was all they needed. 2020 rolled into 2021 and suddenly the husband was away often for work, the wife was working more, the kids’ schools started opening, soccer practice took over three nights a week with games on weekends and their time together was the first thing to be sacrificed. After a few months of this new schedule, the wife started fantasizing about divorce simply because she craved time alone and quiet. She finally confessed her feelings to her husband and, although they argued, they decided to reinstate time together once a week. They knew that while their children were most important to them, their own relationship was the foundation. And we all know that everything comes tumbling down when the foundation upon which it’s built isn’t strong enough.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, that is our story. I’ve been struggling this year to juggle it all while Chris is away, feeling worn out physically and mentally, seeing no end in sight. Every time the light would appear at the end of the tunnel, it would be taken away. I told Chris I felt like I was chasing a cookie on a string that I would never actually get to eat. Every time I got close, it would be yanked farther away. We made time for our kids with movie night and game night each week, but we gave up date night. I was also frustrated because I felt like date night only happened when I made it happen, and I didn’t want that burden to be mine anymore. I told him he needed to start taking a lead as well. So we’ve started making time for each other again to talk, eat and reconnect. I am telling you all of this because I don’t want you to see that photo and think, “Oh, good for them. Another date night.” Because what you can’t see in that photo is all of the work that is happening to make those smiles genuine. Marriage is hard and I’ve seen a few come apart at the seams this past year. On the soccer sidelines a couple of weeks ago, Chris quietly pointed out all of the couples that had separated – at least three sets of Sawyer’s teammates’ parents. Neither of us want that and we still love each other so we are putting in the work and we will get through it. We’ve been here before and have made it through each time. If you’re going through a rough patch, too, know that you are not alone. Also, know that it’s OK however you make it out – together or apart. Just do what is best for you. For once and for all, you will get that cookie on a string and it will be worth all of the work.
Mother’s Day Loveliness
As I mentioned, Chris made a bigger deal of Mother’s Day this year and now you know why. He wanted me to know that I was appreciated and that he was listening. He gave me several bigger gifts – things we’d talked about but I hadn’t want to pull the trigger on yet, as well as a couple of dresses from one of my go-to shops since I need clothes I can use for work these days. We had a quiet day and I got to do what I wanted: I slept a little extra, walked the dogs, read, watched an episode of a show with Emmy and had that delicious meal I featured. My neighbor sent over berry-frosted cupcakes. Chris cleaned up the patio for me, which is exactly what I’d asked for. Wilder presented me with a gift he made at school, a silver painted impression of his sweet little hand. All in all, it was a perfect day.
Here’s a little run down of everything else I got, in case you’re curious. (As I mentioned, Chris went above and beyond and I realize that this list is overly generous. One thing would have sufficed, but I feel loved.)
- This dress is long and super comfortable. Chris, who picked it out, loved it on me and Emmy told me I looked like a door. I wore it to work Monday and received compliments, so at least it’s a lovely door. We joked about getting me a big wreath for Halloween. Or a door knocker.
- This dress is one that I had been looking at and I believe he saw it over my shoulder. It’s a comfortable and flirty fit and the color is a warm rose (even though it’s called oak). It’s been cool this week, but I can’t wait to wear it when the temperatures climb again. Which they will, here in NC, just like our gas prices recently.
- AirPods: With all of the running and walking and cleaning I do with my headphones in, I’ve gone through every pair of wired apple headphones we have in this house over the last couple of years. And I won’t even tell you how many times I’ve accidentally yanked them out of my ears with the vacuum cleaner or a knee! It was time. I always balk at the price, so I just hadn’t brought myself to do it yet. I suppose I was waiting for my last pair of headphones to go kaput on me. Well, I’ve only owned these for a week, but they’ve been life changing! Now, when I play my workout on my computer, I can leave them in and not disrupt the family with the sounds of “Just 10 more, you’re doing great!” They still have to listen to me huff and puff while trying not to die though.
- Solo Stove: We’ve talked about getting a fire pit and had heard great things about this one. We will be setting it up this weekend and I’m looking forward to breaking it in and will try not to get melty marshmallow stuck to its shiny new exterior. No promises though.
- Wilder’s hand print. I have them all over my windows and my furniture and my heart. Now I have one to remember him like this forever.
Gifts from Mother Nature
I know I’ve shared before that there’s a trail I can walk at Sawyer’s soccer practice field. This past week, I headed out, listening to my book and just enjoying time alone. There’s one area where there’s a clearing of trees and I came across my favorite flowers growing plentifully – daisies. I snapped a photo because they just felt like a little God-wink. The path may not always be clear and it may challenge you, but keep moving forward and be sure to enjoy the path itself. There are precious moments for you along the way if you just keep your eyes up – or down-ish, in this case!
Well, friend, here’s hoping there’s a full tank of gas in your future, metaphorically and literally.