So here’s how my “Kinda, Sorta New Year’s Resolutions” are going

I didn’t expect to weigh in on my “Kinda, Sorta New Year’s Resolutions” this soon but I’ve made progress and I feel like writing about it. These ” resolutions ” tie in with a renewed effort on focusing where I put my attention. I became more conscious about how much of my attention and mental energy I was permitting to go to less-than-worthy sources. I said it felt like my life was this huge ship whose direction needed slight correcting. I felt the creaking and heaving of the effort. Here’s what I’m thinking. The older you are and/or the longer you’ve been doing things certain ways, the more it takes to change course. So even if the changes you might wish to undertake aren’t HUGE or even a PARTICULARLY BIG DEAL – as is the case with me – it still takes more effort to get things going (as with even a slight turn on a big, ole ship).

Let me jump in on my specific goals. In 2018 I want to read 20 books, make 10 visits to our local lake, and make 10 new recipes. None of these are monumental but they were all things I considered worthwhile that I was not doing or not doing much. (Yet I seemed to have time for less worthy endeavors or things that just weren’t terribly satisfying.) There is something motivating about getting to make a new entry of my goals list.

I’ve made 13 new recipes! Standouts include Jessica Seinfeld’s Potato, Cauliflower, and Carrot cream soup and Easy, healthy Walnut, Date, Coconut Treats. Not-so-successful recipes were an oatmeal whole wheat bread and gumbo (I never realized gumbo was okra and tomatoes – I love both okra and tomatoes, how could it miss? It missed.) I feel more excited about cooking again, putting in the time and effort to make new things, not just “sure things.”

This year I’ve cut back on cheese – there are actual days when I eat no cheese – and kicked up my vegetable eating. I had to rethink vegetables, to prioritize them, because although I eat HUGE salads and like certain vegetables A LOT, normally they aren’t the first thing I think of and they definitely haven’t been my emphasis.

I’ve visited the local lake six times already. To be honest, my community has added a clothing dropoff box adjacent to the lake area so I’ve used the opportunity to drop off clothes I no longer want as an incentive to head to the lake. Once there, I walk around and such. Accomplishing a small task in the deal makes it easier for me to plan to go there.

Books. I have read six books. My pace here isn’t stellar though because two of the books were short. Also, I have started but not finished three books – I made myself a deal that I wouldn’t force myself to read anything. I got halfway through both Chris Kyle’s American Sniper and Stephen King’s The Dead Zone before quitting. I just didn’t want to devote more time to either. I also started Alice Sebold’s Almost Moon (having really liked The Lovely Bones and Lucky) but realized I’d either started it or read it before and wasn’t so wild about it.

I feel almost ashamed by how far “behind” I let myself get reading-wise. I have much catching up to do but the real point is I am making reading more of a priority again, recouping my ability to sit down and stay put with a book. They aren’t all going to be great but I know by keeping at it, I’ll find ones that are.

So not only have I made a point to do these good things, I’ve cut back on things I felt wasted my time or made me feel not right. There are a couple TV shows I have not watched at all this year, shows that weren’t really adding much to my life. I also stopped reading a community Facebook page, one that often aggravated me with the content and regular vitriol by some of its partipants. I checked back in this week and among the more normal posts – lost cats, community events, etc – was a lengthy “conversation” on hot-button topics that got ugly. I felt myself getting upset. I guess maybe I needed confirmation that staying away is best for me. See, my fear is I’ll miss out (FOMO) on something important. What that “something” is I don’t really know. The reality is my life has gone on, been better even, since staying away. I remind myself I had a life before social media.

I started doing crossword puzzles again this winter, another thing I used to do. As my attention became scattery from time spent online, I found I lacked the stick-to-it-ness required to do a puzzle. It would get hard and I’d quit. I began making myself stick with it and get more done. The more I did the sharper I felt. I found this little book of 88 puzzles at Dollar Tree. I love it! They are all written by different puzzle makers. They challenge me but don’t make me feel like I’m way out of my depth.
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When I get a clue answer I feel a little endorphin surge, especially those I struggled with or took awhile to guess. I find that I have a broader body of knowledge than I (consciously) realize and at the same time the puzzles force me to accesss different ways of thinking. My initial thoughts aren’t always right and I need to approach the clue from a different angle. For examples: the answer to the clue House calls? was “votes”, Back biter? was ” molar”, Singer who’s an actress was “Lori”, my mind went a number of places before it went the right way. I need this kind of intellectual challenge; my life doesn’t automatically provide it.

I have not yet checked out The New York Times puzzles which I understand are considered the best. I watched a DVD of Wordplay, the 2006 documentary on the Times puzzle and its followers, who have an annual competition, and it did make me curious. I always figured I’d find their puzzles kind of dry and boring but maybe I’m wrong.

From 2015-2017 I lost a lot of my energy to an ongoing problem in my life. I spent a lot of energy fighting it and, for a time, trying to get the people who SHOULD help, to actually help. I had a sea change in attitude starting last summer. In a way, I gave up, which doesn’t necessarily seem like the ideal or right course, but it has helped me. Instead I am focusing on those actions and responses within my control. I stopped focusing so much on the problem and as I’ve been saying, started putting my energy back into me. It is too easy for me at to get overly caught up in problems, be they mine or someone else’s. I totally get that there is a choice in this and I can choose otherwise. The ship is turning.

NOTE: Please forgive a delay in responding to comments; I do want to hear them!

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Short Thought 202 (appearances)

If you see me walking along staring at the ground I am not shy or depressed. I am looking for money.

Short Thought 201

There are people I have sympathy for who also irritate me. I think this feeling should be called empannoyance. Let’s use it in a sentence! “I feel bad that she’s sick but she’s being so demanding. She’s empannoying me.” Or: “They’re a small, struggling business that I’d like to help but it’s so empannoying that their customer service stinks.”

Mini pizzas

I make pizza for myself just about very week. I posted “Grandma’s pizza”, a new deep-dish one I tried, about two weeks ago. That was from a recipe but I was experimenting when I decided to try making these mni pizzas.

I make my own dough with a mix of whole wheat and white flours (slightly more whole wheat) and it is SO GOOD if I may say so. Maybe sometime I’ll try to post instructions but the thing is, I’ve made hundreds – no hyperbole – of pizza doughs and some of what I do might be lost in writing. But we’ll see! I sure wish there was a magic way to give you a sample to eat through the internet.

Anyway… I made my dough (you could buy dough if you don’t want to make it) and after it had risen I divided it into 6 portions on a cookie sheet. Note the spankin’  new, shiny, baking sheet; the other week I treated myself to this “Master Chef” brand sheet ($6 from Ross). So far I like it.

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Using my fingers I spread each one out thinly.

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Usually if I open a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes for something, in this case a big pot of beans, vegetables, and rice I made earlier in the week, I leave a little behind for a pizza. I never buy pizza sauce from the store; it’s too full of junk including salt and sugar. I prefer the flavor of straight tomatoes (ALSO I don’t get super thirsty since my pizza doesn’t have all that dehydrating salt the way restaurant and takeout pizza does).

To the doughs I added a bit of canned crushed tomatoes, a tiny bit more than one square slice of mozzarella cheese divided among the circles, (I add cheese conservatively and not that I’ve ever been to Italy but I understand they go easy on it there too) ,  a lot of dried Basil, and drizzles of olive oil.

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I baked them around 12 minutes at around (the oven gauge doesn’t work right) 425°.

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SO GOOD!!! Two of these & a bowl of soup or a big salad, you got a meal

 

NOTE: I’ve been posting a lot this past week because I’ve had unfettered internet access – in case you wondered. I’ve very much enjoyed it but this pace won’t last – in case you wondered again.

How this adult wears saddle shoes without looking like it’s a costume

This is a clothing post I’ve wanted to put up for awhile. Last year I bought a pair of saddle shoes from Amazon for less than $10. I saw them and was like oh yeah those are for me. They’re not particularly well-made so I’m not sure how long they’ll last but since I won’t likely be wearing them A LOT that will help their longevity. I bought them however, without thinking too much about how I might wear them.

The key, I quickly realized, is to make sure the rest of the outfit doesn’t scream “five year old wannabe”.  I am not trying to dress like a toddler nor would that particular look suit my personality or body type!
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The shoes are paired with a charcoal, second hand Merona sweater (Target brand), and white New York & Co jeans bought new from Ross last year ($13 marked down).

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The soft 3/4 sleeve sweater has lovely detail on top

 

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The day I wore this I got a couple compliments on the shoes , including from a stranger who literally stopped her car in the middle of the road on seeing me walking. I promptly struck a pose for her benefit. I think I had an extra kick in my step shod in these!

Amazon has gotten it into their head that since I bought saddle shoes I must also want costume clothes since for awhile after my purchase they kept showing me poodle skirts and other 50′ style fare like you’d wear to a Halloween or retro party. Um, no. Just the shoes thanks.

Easy Vegetables with Rice Noodles

In January I tried a dairy-free week. I didn’t mention it then but I didn’t have high cholesterol or anything – tested in the fall at a health fair – but dairy was just something on my mind. (Somewhat after the fact I heard there was a “sugar-free month” afoot in January but honestly, I cut back on sugar long ago and that really wasn’t where I needed/wanted to focus.) As a result, I’ve since cut back noticeably on cheese, oh love of my life.

Another resultant, although not exactly predictable change was that I started eating MORE vegetables. I needed to tweak my thinking to embrace or at least accept the idea that you really can’t over eat vegetables. I.was in no danger anyway. Mostly I think vegetables are too much trouble for the end result (HALF disappears on cooking for one point) so the easier they are to fix, the better the chance I’ll eat ’em.

This dish, made of ingredients on hand, was easy and very tasty. In the past I don’t think it would have occurred to me to combine fresh and frozen (or even CANNED) vegetables but now I think why not? I sauteed onions, fresh red pepper, frozen green beans, frozen diced green peppers, and a handful of unsalted peanuts in canola oil.
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I need FLAVOR to entice me, not just plain vegetables. To season I added a splash of lime juice, a tad of sesame oil (a recent splurge cuz that ain’t cheap, Sally) and a little bit of Liquid Aminos. Liquid Aminos are a healthier alternative to soy sauce with less sodium and actual nutrients in the form of Amino Acids. Do I really know what amino acids are and how they’ll add to my life? No but who cares. The taste is similar not identical to soy sauce. Initially it takes a little getting used to, but I figure it’s worth it.
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If I only ate vegetables, I’d be starving in no time. I need some carbs to round out a vegetable dish but in this kind of entree I try now to have at least as much vegetables as carbs. I LOVE noodles. Rice noodles, if you don’t know them, are just rice and water.


Here is the combined ingredients.
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A couple thoughts as the Olympics wind down

On whole I have really enjoyed the 2018 Olympics.. I missed Bob Costas and Scott Hamilton and only saw one Mary Carillo piece. (Did I just miss them somehow?? Despite watching a lot of Olympics – not all – I learned almost nothing about South Korea. There seemed to be far fewer “human interest” pieces.)

One thing I find a little disconcerting throughout – the way a child often does on encountering adults dressed up in costumes with animal heads at amusement parks or other venues – is the visual effect of the uniforms now worn in the various sports. It makes everyone look like they are visitors from another planet or possibly from the future. Have you seen the headgear on the snowboarders? Only figure skaters wear no protective gear when performing – if they crack their head on the ice or their partner accidentally slices their skin with a skating blade, oh well. It’s the only sport that is fully about creating an illusion, safety be damned. (If you have any interest here’s a recent article with old photos on changes in US winter uniforms over the years; apparently the snowboarder/astronaut look is inentional!)

In both winter and summer Olympics the TV viewer is sometimes shown a projected visual “line” onscreen in sports like speed skating and swimming indicating where the curreent leader or record holder was in their race. Watching these moving lines, which are so cool, made me think that if the actual race participants could see them TOO, like a carrot on a stick, I bet they’d move faster.
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