5 Things to Early Spring Clean

The post holiday season always puts me in the mindset for early spring cleaning. Typically I make a huge list of everything that needs a deep clean, refresh, or good purging. Completing the list is a huge endeavor and going into this new year I seem to be busier than I expected. So I narrowed it down to my top five efforts. Much of this is done and the post probably would have been more significant two weeks ago, but don’t judge – just enjoy.

I might be projecting a bit but – Clean out your nasty fridge! At this point, I have either adopted a healthier new year’s lifestyle resolution or forfeited back to sweatpants. There is either kale languishing in the crisper or freezer burnt ice cream next to the corn. Either way, it likely could use a good cleaning. I take everything out of the fridge, wipe down all the surfaces and reorganize it. Compost anything that has left the building and recycle empty containers.

Winter clothes. As I sit here clutching hot tea and wondering if the heat is gonna shut off anytime soon, it seems like the wrong time of year to get rid of winter clothes. It’s not, and here are two reasons why. First; by now I know if I’m going to wear something. My rule is, knowing how it fits now and looks would I buy it again. If the answer is no – out it goes. Second; Consignment shops are still taking cool weather items. Sell that lovely sweater that hugs the muffin top a little wrong.

The makeup horde drawer. There was no reason I made this an early spring cleaning priority other than it needed to be done. Much like the fridge I took everything out, wiped all the surfaces clean, and organized my stash, tossing old stuff or colors I didn’t care for. I also found an interesting deposit of a pink shimmery gold powder in the corner of the drawer that I have no idea where it came from.

Ceiling fan. This is another one of those for no reason other than it really needs to be done. We use our ceiling fans in the main part of the house year-round. I think when I’m not looking the dog floats up there and lives his fluff on them. So so so gross. Vacuuming the dust helps with my allergies so I try to tackle the fans before hay fever season (okay so I guess I do have a reason to do them for early spring cleaning).

The last thing I tackled – digital storage. Even with the pandemic minimizing events and gatherings I still seemed to take a ton of pictures this last year. (that’s code for my dog is cute). I also have a terrible habit of taking screenshots to remind me of something, forgetting anyway and not deleting the screenshot. Deleted unwanted useless screenshots, memes, and blurry photos. Then I make a copy (or move depends on my mood) everything over to my external drive after making sure they have made it to the googly cloud.

So that’s it. That’s my master plan to take over the world by dusting one ceiling fan at a time.

Picture of the dog for attention and to demonstrate the truth behind how I mange to fill my phone up so quick.

Spoiler Alert – I’m a terrible introvert.

North Carolina has moved to Phase 2. This means, for those of us that are ready, self isolation can start coming to an end gently making way for social activities. Before self isolation I thought I was a perfectly good introvert. I was going to clean closets, detail my car, learn the accordion, brush up on my very remedial Japanese, make fancy dinners and the list went on. Being someone that worked from home and didn’t tend to go ‘out and about’ it felt like an introvert paradise.

Spoiler alert – I’m a terrible introvert.

It was novel at first. I straightened up a closet, tackled a yard project even started that book languishing on my night stand. Then work slowed down so I lost some structure there, the husband was home everyday continuing to blur the lines between days. Meal planning brought no joy because the stores were struggling to keep their supplies consistent. My muscle memory wasn’t capable of assimilating anything new so the accordion became confusing. Things that brought me joy just didn’t, not anymore.

I sat down at my sewing machine on a Saturday, one of my most favorite things to do; play in my fabric stash and create something new. We needed fabric masks, I found a pattern that I liked, spent time selecting and cutting fabric. I was gonna make something and it was gonna be awesome, surely this would cheer me up and add purpose to my day. I finished, proudly looked at my new fabric masks in polka dots, stripes and peacock feathers – I felt worse, so much worse. I was frustrated I didn’t feel better, frustrated I had to spend time sewing for a pandemic. I didn’t want to sew because of a pandemic, I wanted to sew because I wanted to sew. I was devastated and felt lost.

I don’t even know how to explain the weeks that followed, I was just kinda going through the motions feeling like a terrible introvert. I’m very thankful for the relationship with my therapist. We talked about integrating the new normal, being okay with going with the flow and (what turned out to be most important) being kind with myself. I jokingly called it being mindful to be mindful. Mostly just oodles of conscience reminders that I’m resilient, flexible and can do hard things (cause this is hard).

I’ve not perfected it, and I’m sure I’ll wreck it a few more times – otherwise it wouldn’t be a process. I’ve been enjoying time with the neighbor ladies, we sit outside keeping a social distance appreciating each others company. Giggled myself into hysterics over some really strange but informative scientific research about bats. Amused myself with puzzles, new cookbooks from different regions and reading my first graphic novel.

For the first time in a while I feel content.

Bow ties, chicken thighs and a tradition dies.

This dog! Who would have thought he would look so cute in his bow tie. Okay so I never doubted it. He needs a red plaid one for Christmas.

Newest revelation in the kitchen; chicken thighs. No seriously, I’ve never been a fan until recently. Now I’m nearly obsessed with them and finding the perfect way to cook them. I have done BBQ sauce on the grill, lemon buttery BBQ baked, skillet sweet and sour, and a few other disasters, I mean experiments. So far my favorite is cooking them in a skillet with a honey lime sauce. It’s sweet, tangy and juicy. Totally perfect. Once I feel like I’ve nailed it, I’m gonna share!

Speaking of changing things up and trying something new, we have always done a Thanksgiving dinner at our house. In recent years this has become more difficult to coordinate and, if we are being honest, personal reasons to much to endure. This year we are joining a local church body to deliver Thanksgiving meals rather than eating one! Not looking for any validation just encouraging others that’s it’s okay to break tradition once in a while, they can always be revisited later.

Weirdness, Gishness and DragonCon

I had a terrific and busy summer filled with exceptional friends and big adventure. I wish I had blogged as the summer went but, I guess I was so excited to be in the moment that I forgot in a weird way.

Speaking of weird I went to Charlotte with my friend Jennifer to see Weird Al Yankovic’s Strings Attached show. The word phenomenal isn’t even enough. He is tremendous, a complete showman with costume changes, running through the audience, sitting in some ladies lap, he even rode a segway across the stage. All of this while being backed by a 40 some piece orchestra and his band. I had fun can you tell.

Shortly after that it was time for the annual GISH scavenger hunt. If you’ve paid attention in the past then you know it’s always chaos coupled with merriment to yield some pretty strange scavenger hunt ‘finds’. I think my favorite item this year was fishing for a compliment, mostly cause I liked the cheesy pick up like we used. “If you were a box of crayons you’d be the giant name-brand one with the buily in sharpener”. Oh man! HA!

Once I finally got my house back in order (a week long scavenger hunt takes it’s toll) it was time to get ready for DragonCon. This was my second time attending and I had a blast. My husband and I stayed in a host hotel putting us in the thick of the excitement and rabble-rousing. Favorite panel; gosh it’s hard to pick but i think the Farscape one. I fan girled so hard over – not Ben Browder – but Brain Henson. Cosplay is always fun, I worked really hard on my RamboBrite outfit, and probably harder painting a nerf gun gold and red glittery. Although I’m probably most proud of the last min 80s prom costumes I put together, even bleached those jeans!

Binge Cleaning, Doggy Noses, and Satisfied Cravings

I love a successful task master cleaning sessions. We are expecting company in a few days and what’s the best way to get ready; make sure they don’t have to look at my filth! Well as long as they don’t look on top of the fridge or in the garage. So yep – that was how I spent the weekend.

However, the one thing I can’t seem to get ahead of is dog hair. Boomer has been doing nothing but shedding the past few weeks, and I do mean nothing. He is adorably lazy just like a pupper should be. He also likes to insert himself in all activities, here I am trying to take a picture of the new run to send to my husband, but wait – dog nose.

Time and again I’ve said I want to take a foodie tour of Wilmington exclusively eating shrimp tacos. It’s shrimp and it’s tacos, how can this ever be a bad thing. My current favorite is Fish Bite’s blackened shrimp tacos with a side of their Thai sauce. Here I even indulged in zucchini fries.

Buggos, Doggos, and Avocados

It’s been a pleasant week so far here in SE NC. Not too warm and the breeze is pleasantly swift most afternoons. So much so that teeny tiny praying mantis have been blowing out of the trees and onto the deck. I’ve found them on my clothes, the dog and in the planters. Isn’t it just adorable.

Speaking of critters; our new pup Boomer is curious about everything. We decided a trip the Carolina Beach marina might be fun for him. The marina has walking trails, a campground, and a little strip of “beach” which is where we went. I don’t know how he managed to muster up the volume, but he tinkled on everything. Every blade of grass, a random stump, some rocks, dead crabs, a rouge seashell or two …. all of it. I think he liked it.

Food post! I’m always reluctant to partake in a fad, it’s not that I’m a rebel with a cause don’t follow the masses person, I guess I’m just hesitant to change my routine for something new and unknown. Like avocado toast… it just kinda sounded gross to me especially since having only recently deciding I liked the “dragon eggs”. Sure enough, it’s tasty! Mashed up avocado, slathered on toasted sourdough bread, itty bitty tomatoes and a generous sprinkling of everything bagel seasoning. Drool.

Hot temps, Sunset Jeep Rides, and Food

Well, here in the south the heat has been about as relentless as a dog when you have a bag of potato chips. All up in your face with stinky, sticky hot breath. The grass is turning brown earlier than usual and my hair is set to maximum frizz. It’s hot and gross y’all, but that ain’t stopping us.

Husband finally got the jeep back and just in time too. The weather has been perfect for sunset rides. Our favorite stretch of River Road was gorgeous the other night. We were starting to cool off too, it was only 96 when we took this ride.

Food, I think it’s always on my mind in some capacity. This time it’s all in the meal planning, grilled chicken salad with a mango dressing, grilled pork tenderloin with something sweet and mustardy happening, and when it cools off to the upper 80s chocolate chip cookies. So come back next week and hopefully I’ll have a good recipe to share.

Beach Music, Dog Hair and (more) Tacos

I’ve been reminding myself to say yes more often. Selectively of course, not yes because I feel obligated but yes because I see a favorable opportunity.

Insert text message from friend “hey do you like beach music, wanna go to the festival with me this weekend?” Honestly I’m indifferent to beach music (or I was at the time) but – try something new, spend the day with a great friend – can’t go wrong. Especially when it’s the kind of friend that one minute can have a thought provoking conversation and the next have me in tears laughing.

It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day in SE North Carolina. We started with brunch and bellinis cause – brunch and bellinis am I right? Full bellies and happy hearts we waited in line for our seats at the Greenfield Lake Ampatheater. Which is a great venue boasting views of the lake, cypress trees covered in Spanish moss and for our concert a nice breeze. We saw three groups, Band of Oz, The Embers and Chairman of the Board. The latter being my friend’s favorite, and they didn’t disappoint. I loved their funky sound and equally funky matching blazers. (Sorry no photos, I was busy enjoying myself) After the show we went for dinner and continued our visit. Good times, worth saying yes.

`In contrast, some experiences merit saying yes to but are grueling to get there. We, my husband and myself, spent many wonderful years with our two pups – Kalie and Strider. The years were worth every moment, but saying yes again, getting to that point, it took a great deal of effort. It had been nearly 8 months since we had been dog-less. My mindset was evolving from I miss my dogs to I just miss having a dog. More uncertainty and mental processing…. Then I saw that squishy face and read the phrase “loves belly rubs”. The rest is dog hair on the floor. Meet Boomer.

With summer approaching and and a dog to trip over in the kitchen, it’s taco time. I wanted something sweet, smokey and kinda funky. Once I work out all the kinks I’ll post the recipe, but for now lets just talk about the marinade. Maple syrup and smoked paprika – that gives it the sweet and smokey, and now for the funky; red curry paste. Lime juice and some other mess, oh talk about a great flavor clash. So say yes to the funky taco, the dog hair and a new experience. That’s all I got for now.

Orchids, Bonsai and Tacos

Plants, plants, and food. Yep sounds like the perfect date, which is exactly what it was. So the last Friday I was in Pennsylvania dad and I decided we needed to do something touristy. We already knew we were meeting friends ‘in the city’ for dinner so the Phipps Conservatory seemed like the right idea. Thus – into Pittsburgh we went.

Built in 1983 the Phipps is constantly in the state of evolution and – quite literally – growth. Showing off the glass they installed last summer, that gorgeous Victorian greenhouse was just shimmering. “Look me, I’m so pretty.” The main room, receiving the most restoration, had a delightful crisp proud feel about it.

In the middle of the Pittsburgh winter is the annual Phipps orchid and bonsai show. There were orchids everywhere, beautifully arranged in towering planters, delightful hanging arrangements, and tucked into the crooks of trees – truly everywhere. Even the Orchid Room seemed brighter than usual, if that’s possible.

Then, in a room all to themselves, were the bonsai – each perched on their own pedestals demonstrating just how special and cultivated they were. I learned something interesting about the bonsai on display; during the warmer months there is a bonsai garden outside, however these trees were not part of that collection. In fact, the only time they were on display was for this specific show. They spend the rest of their time squirreled away in the greenhouse, getting fussed on by the in house horticulturists.

From there we headed over to Union Grill to meet friends, enjoy some local brews and have the biggest fish taco I’ve ever eaten. It was just this mammoth piece of fish, on a flour tortilla, with this overflow of taco goodness; corn salsa, cheese, spicy something and this citrus cilantro creme sauce that just put it over the top. I’m not a food photo person so you will just have to trust me, and full disclosure I ate all of it.

So with an overly stuffed belly I was all – hey friends we are going back to the Phipps to walk(waddle) around during the special after dark hours, wanna come with? I was thrilled they said yes.

On we all went to waddle through the exhibits, spending time enthralled with the giant train set. That’s when my friend Chelsea, with what I can only explain as the exuberance of a child, proclaimed herself queen of the diorama.

So that about sums up our day in the city. Plants, plants, tacos, royalty and more plants. Till next time!

Snowflakes, Waterfalls and a Fritatta

Snowflakes, waterfalls and a fritatta; That pretty much sums up this past week visiting with my dad in Pennsylvania.
It has snowed and snowed and snowed, I didn’t think it was gonna stop. The sun was bright and beautiful Tuesday and that was about it. It’s pretty to look at but I will be happy to hop off that plane in NC, take in the ocean breeze and not see another flake! Sorry western PA peeps.

In between snow showers we went for an icy slip and slide hike at McConnells Mill State Park. The Mill is on the Slippery Rock Creek, the park boasts miles of hiking trails with views of the creek, the old mill and covered bridges. We actually saw kayakers making their was through the, I can only assume, frigid rapids. According the parks and rec site, the rapids are class II but can be up to IV depending on the water level, icy cold washing machine – no thanks, y’all have fun with that. Noticeable along the trail were old millstones, visible (kinda dead middle in the photo) was the hole in the center the stone and grooves where the grain was ground.

We also stopped long enough to take photos at scenic overlooks and my favorite spot on the trail, Kildoo falls. So many icicles.

Then came the eggy cheesy goodness of a frittata, traditionally a Spanish dish it’s like a crustless quiche. I filled mine with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, ham and finished it off with sharp cheddar cheese. Warm, fluffy and just delightful when served with a fresh green salad.

So that’s it, slight divergence from my typical five things Friday posts but still in keeping with the idea that there are always little things that make my week. I hope your week was filled with family, fond memories and food. Cheers.