Using up

I woke up this morning and thought about how odd it was to have only a two day weekend. Despite the fact that it is still all-furlough-Fridays-all-the-time at work, I went into the office yesterday. We had a few major projects that needed finishing, and they had to be done by end of week, and with my boss being out of town and everything else on both our plates, there was no other option. So instead I will have an extra-short week this week, or if this furlough thing continues through February maybe I will just gather a few of those furlough days together and just take an entire week off.

I got up and made coffee and I sat at the computer for a while, catching up on blogs and various discussion boards, and then I decided it was high time to deal with the slowly accumulating pile of butternut squash in the refrigerator. I absolutely cannot STAND squash – even the smell is revolting – but they’ve been coming in the CSA boxes for the past several weeks, and I hate the idea of just throwing the stupid things away. So we hacked them in half and then I tossed them into the oven for an hour or so and then scooped all the roasted squash into the food processor, and pureed it, and now it is in bags in the freezer, because butternut squash can be used interchangeably with pumpkin for baking (and according to popular wisdom, canned pumpkin you buy in stores is more often not pumpkin, but some kind of similar winter squash), and if I use enough sugar and spice it will be fine.

We had sandwiches for lunch on the homemade kaiser rolls (Richard may laugh at the fact that I made so many last weekend, but every time I bite into one I am reminded all over again why all that work was so incredibly worth it) and then we headed off to the mall. The insurance company that Richard’s company uses has this yearly program where if you go in and take a short survey about your health, they will send you a rather hefty gift certificate to a store of your choice. Last year we chose Amazon, and used the gift certificates (along with a few others I’d been saving) to pay for the new sink for our gorgeous new kitchen. This year we picked Sears, since we are both in need of some new clothes and shoes, and it was really the only clothing store we were interested in going to.

I would just like to note, by the way, that it infuriates me that when a man goes to buy clothes, no matter what his size, he just goes to ONE department. The styles are the same in every size, from tiny to huge. All a man ever has to do is just goes straight to the rack or the shelf, and pulls his size out from a stack of items all identical except for the numbers on the tag. There is no difference in material used, or style. I find it just mind boggling that fashion designers can seem to handle all the differences in male body types and still provide them with exactly the same styles, but when it comes to women, suddenly it’s just too hard. Last time I looked, men come in a wide range of shapes and sizes too.

Anyway. Deep breath. Stepping carefully away from that soapbox now. We both got some of the stuff that we needed, and thanks to the gift certificates it was all free, so despite the inevitable bout of self-loathing that comes from trying on clothes, the shopping trip was a success. Tonight was an encore performance of a concert the women’s ensemble did last year, so I went off to sing. The venue was different than the one we usually use, and it was odd to perform there, because there is a lot of carpet and it felt (to us, at least) as if the sound was just being sucked up and we could barely even hear ourselves. But this is not the first time we’ve sung in a place where the acoustics for the audience were great, but the acoustics for the singers stank, and everyone seemed to like it, so apparently it worked out fine.

Morning rise

This morning was one of those mornings where my brain was wide awake by about 4:30. I tried to make it go back to sleep. I lay there for several hours, eyes tight shut, willing my brain to shut the hell up already, but…no such luck.

So instead I finally gave up and got out of bed and came upstairs, and started on a batch of bread. I made a batch of this Oatmeal Toasting Bread last weekend and it turned out absolutely wonderfully, so I am making it again, in the hopes that the first time was not a fluke. It is the sort of bread that holds together well enough in a slice to go into the toaster as well as in a sandwich, which is exactly what I have been trying to figure out how to do for a while now. It’s got oats and oat bran so it’s a nice, hearty bread, but it doesn’t *taste* healthy, which is one of the major flaws of most whole grain breads. I don’t mind that sort of thing for toasting, but in a sandwich I want my bread to take a back seat to whatever is inside it.

This recipe makes three loaves, which means it requires the use of my largest mixing bowl, and because it won’t fit in the bowl of my KitchenAid, it also means I have to knead it by hand. I am not normally a fan of that, since it tends to make a giant mess of flour everywhere, but this morning it was actually rather nice, to be standing there in a quiet kitchen, working dough with my bare hands.


A belated Happy Blogiversary to me! Ten years ago, on January 15th, 2000, I wrote the very first entry in this little corner of the internet.

Last day of vacation

What we did on our last day of vacation:

  • Ate leftover birthday cake and ice cream for breakfast.
  • Charged wildly around the house for several hours and then crashed on the couch the rest of the day (okay, that was only the kittens)

    (Rosie, Azzie, Ingrid (in back), Rupert)

  • Knit
  • Baked bread

    (White bread, variation 1, Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

  • Watched Iron Chef, Worst Chefs in America, and Moon of the Wolf (not as bad as you might have expected)
  • Read

    (Bits of the Dead)

Tis the season for Holidailies.

Chocolatey good

We slept in late again this morning, and when we finally did get up, there was the usual dithering about what to have for breakfast, until I decided to make experimental chocolate crepes with cream cheese filling (I did the crepes, while Richard was responsible for the filling). They turned out absolutely delicious, which would be a bonus except for the fact that neither of us bothered to write down any sort of measurements, so who knows if we’ll be able to replicate them at some point in the future. Ah well.

After breakfast (or rather, brunch, considering how late in the morning it was before we dragged ourselves out of bed), we opened all the doors and windows upstairs to take advantage of the lovely (albeit chilly) weather outside, and then gave the house (or at least the upstairs half) a much-needed cleaning. We’re both feeling a lot better, but it’s frustrating to get worn out so quickly, just from doing simple chores.

Richard’s parents and youngest sister arrived this evening, bearing birthday presents for Richard. About two hours before they were to arrive, I suddenly remembered that I needed to bake a cake, so I dashed off to the store to get all the necessary ingredients, then came home and whipped up Richard’s (belated) birthday cake (spice cake with chocolate frosting, which is his favorite). I figure this is a distinct improvement over last year, since this year at least I left it with enough time for the cake to cool sufficiently so I could frost it before they arrived.

We all went out for dinner at our favorite local place, and then returned to the house to open presents and eat cake and ice cream and play with kittens (wrapping paper and ribbon are awesome things to kittens. And then after they had headed back toward home, Richard and I collapsed on the couch (see above about still getting worn out too easily) and watched two movies from the collection of science fiction movies I’d gotten him for Christmas. And I have to admit, I really do love those things. The old black and white science fiction movies were all so wonderfully earnest about themselves, with their dire predictions of what the world could eventually be.

Tis the season for Holidailies.

Carry on

Hurrah, the corner, it has been turned. Of course, this means that while the rest of me is finally starting to feel better, the sinuses belatedly decided to join in on the fun, so I might have more energy, but I can’t really breathe enough to make use of it. Fun times!

Nevertheless, I was starting to get a little stir-crazy from being stuck inside these last few days so, unlike yesterday, when we spent the entire day in our pajamas, today I actually showered and got dressed and left the house. The regular First Friday craft night, hosted by my knitting mom, happened to fall on New Year’s Day this month, so instead of having it in the evening, she stretched it out to encompass most of the day, figuring (rightly) that this particular group wasn’t the sort that was in any danger of suffering from the ill effects of over-excess the night before. So I pulled a loaf of pumpkin bread out of the freezer and sliced that up once it was thawed, and I drove off to pick up my mom and all the remaining cookies from the Christmas gathering, and we headed off to hang out with a bunch of other women and work on our various crafts. I have a baby blanket I need to make in a fairly short period of time, so that I can pack it up and send it off to the nice people at KnitPicks who have agreed to publish the pattern, so that they can have a photographer who actually knows what s/he is doing (unlike, say, *me*) take some shots of it. The last few days I haven’t had energy for much of anything, so it was nice to have a few hours to just sit and do some mindless garter stitching and get back into the rhythm of things.

Of course, the problem with only being on the recovery side of an illness is that I still wear out quicker than I’d prefer, so the rest of the day was spent doing not very much of note. We played a new-to-us Zombie game (Richard got two Zombie-themed games for Christmas this year and we have now played them both and are looking forward to inflicti…er..playing them with larger groups of our friends, one of these days), and we ate leftover pizza fondue, and at some point Richard discovered that the SciFi (oh, excuse me, “SyFy” whatever the heck that’s supposed to mean, don’t mind the excessive eye-rolling over here) channel was having a Twilight Zone marathon and so I suspect the rest of the night will be spent watching old episodes of that until we’re falling asleep in our Snuggies. The future, it is here, and boy do we know how to party.

Tis the season for Holidailes.

Happy New Yearzzzzz

In fifteen minutes (or at least, when I started writing this there were only 15 minutes left) 2009 will be over and 2010 will officially begin. I should probably not be still awake, all things considered, but I have been napping on and off all day, so that simply means that despite the fact that I am still exhausted from being sick, I am now wide awake, waiting for a new calendar year to start. Whee.

Today’s Richard’s birthday, but I’m afraid it won’t likely go down as one of his best. He’s still sick too, although he’s finally starting to feel better, but between the two of us we’ve perfected a truly lovely dry, hacking cough, which is the sort of thing that is on absolutely no one’s list of favorite ways to spend a birthday.

So it’s been kind of a low key sort of day. I got up at the normal time because I had thought last night I could deal with going into the office, but this morning, waking up feeling worse than the day before, I realized that just wasn’t happening. Since he had the day off anyway, we decided to kick off the birthday celebration by crawling blearily back into bed and sleeping for another few hours, or at least until the coughing woke us up.

We had reservations for dinner tonight, to go out and celebrate both his birthday and the New Year, but we ended up canceling, since we’re both still doing too much coughing, and plus, it seems kind of pointless to go out and spend money on a dinner that you won’t even be able to taste (a little side effect of being so stuffed up). So this afternoon I made some baguettes, since the nice thing about making bread is that it’s very short periods of work, interspersed with long periods of inactivity, and thus just about the only sort of thing I could manage to accomplish today. For dinner we pooled together all the random, leftover cheese from the refrigerator, and tossed it into the fondue pot with a jar of pizza sauce, and Richard cubed and toasted one loaf of bread, and we had pizza fondue for dinner. We camped out in front of his computer and watched The Gamers: Dorkness Rising after dinner, which if you are a tabletop role play gamer, you should go track down and watch immediately (it’s low budget, but it’s hysterically awesome). And since we still have some apple pies in the freezer from our last trip to Apple Hill, that’s what we had for dessert.

So..that’s it for 2009. For a year that’s been so eventful for most everyone I know, it seems a bit amusing to have it go out with a coughing, wheezy, whimper. Or maybe that’s just the most appropriate way to see it go. Happy New Year, everyone. I think it’s time to go to bed.

Tis the season for Holidailies.


I woke up this morning and it took all my energy just to get out of bed and climb the stairs, plus the coughing is now so bad that I double over from the force of it, and there are times when it feels as if I am going to throw up. So…in other words, today I stayed home from work. Even if I had any energy, I am sure my coworkers appreciated not having to listen to me hacking up a lung all day.

The frustrating thing with this whatever-it-is that Richard and I have is that while physically I have no energy, mentally I am wide awake. So going back to bed really hasn’t been very useful, each time I’ve attempted it. Instead, I have been mainly curled up in front of the computer, because that, at least, doesn’t take any energy. I did a lot of laundry today, mainly because it was something that didn’t take a whole lot of effort, and it was a good reason to get up at least once an hour and feel as if I wasn’t wasting an entire day just because I’m sick.

I suppose I ought to be glad that at least I did not get this last week, when I’d have therefore missed out on seeing family during Christmas, but just once, it would have been nice to make it through the whole holiday season without either one of us getting sick.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.


Richard has been coughing since Sunday afternoon, and it sounds like one of my brothers-in-law also is sick. I was hoping I’d be able to avoid this, but alas, the coughing started today, and by the afternoon, I was popping ibuprofin every few hours to try to keep things at bay. Oh joy.


We watched 28 Weeks Later tonight. We’d both really liked the first one – 28 Days Later – and I guess maybe neither of us actually read any of the reviews for this one before we put it on the Netflix queue, but wow, 28 Weeks Later is just really, really bad. About a third of the way through, I looked at Richard and said that I didn’t have any need to finish watching it if he wanted to stop it, but by that point, it was so much of a trainwreck that we both decided we had to finish. I hear rumors that there may be more of these, and at one point I might have been excited about that prospect, but after watching that movie, I really hope they just don’t bother.


Now that Rupert has conquered the Christmas tree, and has encouraged Ingrid to do the same, he has moved on to bigger and better things. Like, for example, the plate rack over the window in the office. We’ve been in this house over two years now and not once have any of the cats ever attempted this before, but, well, we are talking Rupert here – the kitten with no concept of self-preservation – so I am not sure why either of us found this a surprise.

The best we can now do is just hope that this is one of those instances when Ingrid *doesn’t* feel the need to follow her brother. Goofy little cats.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.


Back to work today. I admit I’ve been dreading this a bit, because there was a large project that was scheduled to take place this week, and I was to be responsible for the bulk of the work. However, upon returning, I discovered, through conversations with several of the other players, that all the pieces did not fall into place as planned, so (through no fault of anyone, really), the final deadline of the project is being delayed. Phew.

So instead it was a fairly quiet day at work. Not to say, of course, that I wasn’t heads-down busy all day, because a delayed deadline still means the work has to get done eventually, and I’d much rather get it done sooner than later, since this is the sort of project that is prone to last minute changes of the type that will likely involve significant hair-pulling and under-the-breath swearing on my part (oh, Sharepoint, how very much I do love you. Or…uh…not). But at least we’ve all now got more than four days to it, and I know I’m not the only one who’s more than a bit relieved.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.


After the last few days, it was so very lovely to be able to sleep in this morning, knowing we didn’t have anywhere we had to be right away. The cats were certainly appreciative of having their humans around longer for the morning, and I have to admit I took advantage of that and lounged in front of the computer longer than I should have, just because they were being extra friendly.

Today held one last visit with family. We headed back to my parents’ house to meet everyone for lunch, and then stayed for a little while afterwards to chat. But Richard’s been slowly coming down with a cold, and my brother-in-law is as well, so we eventually headed back home, hugging our goodbyes to my younger sister and brother-in-law and niece, since this is the last we’ll see of them for a while.

The rest of the day has, for the most part, been all about trying to recover from the holiday. I made more pizza dough for dinner, and we did a little cleaning and decluttering and putting away of gifts, but mostly we just sat and read books and pet cats and tried to enjoy our last moment of freedom before the real world (aka work) comes crashing back in on us far too early tomorrow morning.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Still life with cats: the story of me