“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
It's stating the obvious that after a rough 2020, 2021 isn't off to the best start. I never want to be too political here, and try to use this creative outlet to be positive and share a little joy. So, when thinking of what to write to start off the new year my mind kept focusing on the good. What can we do to spread positivity and try to counteract the hate and negativity? Little things cannot solve everything, but what if every person did one little thing to help someone else? Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing with lasting effect? I'm optimistic enough to think so.
Many people are struggling right now and cannot give back financially. But, there are still ways to support our local communities and help those who are even worse shape than we are. Or for those in the worst shape, ways that they can still give back, spread joy and feel connected and tied to a larger cause. I brainstormed some ways to show some love right in your own community without any financial obligation. Interspersed are some of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr., who we remember and honor on this day. Let his words sink in, and let's all show a little love this year.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
1. Clean out your closet and donate clothes to a local organization. When I moved back in with my parents back in October, I was putting things away in the front closet and found a few winter jackets of mine from when I was in high school. Obviously, they have not been worn in more than a decade, but they are still in good shape. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has old clothes or coats hanging around. January is the coldest month on the calendar; I know there are people right here in my own community who would appreciate a warm winter coat right about now. An easy way to give back and help yourself get cleaned and organized, too.
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
2. Make cards/write letters and send to local nursing home. I know there may be at least one crafter reading this. Pull out your construction paper! Get the kids involved! My heart aches for the elderly community in long-term care facilities that can't receive visits from their loved ones during this pandemic. Even in normal times, there are many that never receive visitors at all. Why not brighten someone's day with a homemade card? No craft supplies? Pull out an old-fashioned pen and paper and jot down a quick message. Tell them who you are, what you do, what your hobbies are. Have your kids do the same and tell what they are learning in school. Bring a smile to someone's face.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
3. Volunteer at local food distributions or soup kitchens. I am in awe every time I see pictures of the cars lined up for the food distributions we have held in my town. The other day on the way to work I saw it first-hand. So many people are in need right now to simply put food on their families' table. I know in my town they are always looking for volunteers to help sort and load the food on these days. Soup kitchens may not be able to operate quite like normal due to COVID-19, but when I've volunteered before I've worked behind the scenes in the stock rooms unpacking and sorting donations. With what is likely an increase in donations during the recent holidays, soup kitchens may be able to have volunteers behind the scenes helping in these areas. A simple phone call could get you that information.
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
4. Volunteer at the local animal shelter. Our furry friends need love, too! There are many ways to help at shelters where there is limited contact with others. Help clean out kennels. Take a shelter dog for a walk. Spend some time petting cats and getting them better acclimated to new humans. Again, a simple phone call to your local shelter will tell you what you can and cannot do and what kind of help they need. Many also appreciate donations of towels, blankets and comforters. So while you're cleaning out your clothes and coat closets, check your linen closet, too.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
5. Donate blood / Join Be The Match / Sign up to be an organ donor. There are things we can do today that can significantly help someone else down the road. With the hospitals crowded, blood donations are still vital to keep patients alive and healthy. Years ago one of the teams I worked with introduced me to the organization Be The Match. It registers people to be possible bone marrow transplants. If I remember correctly, you spit in a tube or swab your mouth or something just as easy, and then they enter you into the system and contact you down the road if you ever show up as a potential match for someone who needs a bone marrow transplant. I was just speaking with someone the other day who's husband has been battling cancer; they were left without many options, but then this organization found a match and the husband had a successful treatment this past week. It really works! I was so proud to tell her that I was involved in the organization. If you're uneasy about donating blood or bone marrow, sign up to be an organ donor. Or check that you are. It's amazing how we can help others stay alive after our time has gone.
“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.
After 14 years, 16-ish baseball seasons and eight years as a DI SID, I’ve said goodbye. For a few years now I’ve felt that athletics communications isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I finally came to the point that I needed to get out for my own well-being. The decision wasn’t easy. In fact, it was terrifying. Who quits their job as an assistant athletic director at a rising department in the middle of a global pandemic?! Me. I did.
When I first started out working in baseball, it was an amazing experience working for different teams and organizations and moving to different states. When I made the move to college, traveling and working closely with the student-athletes and coaches was inspiring. But the endless travel, lack of weekends, late nights after late nights and being away from family and friends begins to take its toll after a certain point. I’m well past that point.
I’ve lost count of the weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, showers, etc., that I’ve missed over the last decade or so. My life and my time has not been my own; it has belonged to my job. SIDs don’t often have the option to miss games and events and road trips for personal functions. Especially when you have to travel hours away to be at those functions. Your teams’ schedules define where you are and what you’re doing. Your free time comes fleetingly and not necessarily when you choose it to. I came to a point where I wanted to take my life and my time back into my hands and my control.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. It’s been three weeks and is finally starting to set in. I miss my student-athletes. I miss being at the forefront of sporting events. I miss working with amazing coaches and staff. I miss being a part of teams, or really, families. I miss Cincinnati and city life and my dear friends there. But my friends will always be there. Places aren’t going anywhere, either.
I made a decision to do what was best for me and I moved on. I needed a change of pace. I needed to be back home with my family and loved ones close by. For the first time, I put myself and my happiness first. As scary as it was to send in my resignation letter, it was absolutely the right thing for me to do. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I know I have control of it. Life has slowed down and given me time to realize what’s most important and what it takes to make me happy.
Happiness. That's all I'm striving for in my life, no matter what it looks like. I have no job, everything I own is locked up in a storage unit, but I'm the happiest I've been in a long time.
Most of my fellow bibliophiles know that September 1 is the first day classes start at the greatest school of witchcraft and wizardry, Hogwarts. I completed reading my recent stack extremely quickly, so I decided to go back and reread the entire HP series to save some cash on buying more books. At least it will save me a week or two. I started book one the morning of the first and am already starting book two tonight. I was thinking about why I seem so connected to my books and reading lately, and I think it's truly for escape. Books are how I escape everything going on in the world and my life right now. These last few weeks have been rough, especially this past month, so I think I am reading nonstop to escape from all the negativity around me. It's a place I can go with different people and different events and a world entirely separate. Perhaps this makes immersing myself at Hogwarts the next week or two so appealing. What's a better place to escape to?!
My most recent completed stack started off deep. Both How to be an Antiracist and I'm Still Here were extremely relevant during this time in American society. While I wasn't a huge fan of how Kendi wrote his book and preferred the writing style of Channing Brown, I enjoyed that both took personal experiences to frame how we need to think about our racial differences and systemic racism. I encourage everyone to take in both.
Normal People was given to my by my friend Heather. Not at all what I expected but very good. I'm curious how the show on Hulu is. If you've seen it let me know! I followed that with two books based on real events: The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Before We Were Yours. The former is another horrific retelling of life in one of the worst times in world history, while the other informed me of something I knew nothing about and was also terrifying. Both were sad and depressing, not going to lie. I still recommend reading both, but keep in mind I would not consider either light reading or a good, mindless beach read.
The last four were all good but none were ones that particularly stood out. If you want a historical fiction tale of multiple lives and storylines weaving into one, read The Paris Hours. If you want a fictional look at how our society views skin color, in a captivating story of family, read The Vanishing Half. If you want a current, twisting tale of murder and mystery that will keep you guessing and in the end say, "You go, girls!," read The Guest List. And if you want another historical fiction pick with spies and secrets and a touch of true-life literary history, read The Secrets We Kept.
Now, I leave you to return back to my beloved Harry Potter. Be well. And continue to love above all else.
Yesterday I came across vitriol spewed on social media toward strangers by an acquaintance. (We’ll stick to acquaintance for all intents and purposes). It disgusted me. It made me question how someone who grew up with the same background as me could think so differently and have such misconstrued thoughts they believed were built on facts. Here are my facts. Here are my beliefs. It’s hard for me to be silent when I feel so strongly.
I fully understand how videos can be edited, how they can have selected start and stop points, how they can come from different angles. I have a degree in broadcast journalism. I get it. I fully understand how news stories are biased, how journalism is politicized and how statements can be skewed as facts. I nearly completed an advanced degree in public relations. I get it.
The treatment of blacks in the United States has become a politicized issue, but it is a human issue. It is not red and blue; it is black and white. If you aren’t afraid of being assaulted when pulled over for a minor traffic issue, or mistaken for a criminal when out for a run, or apprehended strictly for the color of your skin, do not judge the feelings of those that do (here’s looking at you, privileged white people!) Racial inequality and systemic racism are real. If you don’t believe it, look around you. Read up on this country’s history. Not the history you learned in cookie-cutter WASP grade schools, but the true history told by the people who lived it.
Did Anthony Diaz deserve to die for hitting a car with a football and resisting arrest? Did Amadou Diiallo deserve to get shot at 41 times for being mistaken for a rapist and running to his apartment door, reaching for his wallet while in the vestibule? Did Abner Louima deserve to be beaten and sodomized for interfering in a fight? Did Sean Bell deserve to be shot to death after 50 rounds were fired for driving away from an undercover cop? Did Oscar Grant deserve to be held to the ground and shot in the back for being involved in a fight and resisting arrest? Did Walter Scott deserve to be shot and killed for having a break light out and running away from an officer after a physical altercation? Did Laquan MacDonald deserve to be shot 16 times for not dropping a knife, while walking away from officers, and after dropping to the ground after the first shot? Did Terence Crutcher deserve to be shot and killed for his car breaking down and reaching into the vehicle, where there was no weapon?
How many more names could I mention? Far, far too many more. Stories we’re all familiar with. I wonder what it takes for a person’s first instinct to be to draw a gun and fire to kill. Not to stop or to injure, but to kill. I am a hunter. I understand very well the different placement of a kill shot and a shot to injure. All police officers should as well. And they should have to go through more rigorous training. If they have the ability to hold someone’s life in their hands, they need to be ready for that circumstance. Doctors have to. Pilots have to. Teachers even have to. Police officers should have to go through training and education that is thorough enough that if they are faced with a difficult situation, their first instinct is not to pull a trigger because they are fearful. Unless someone is firing at them, an officer should never fire their weapon. Unless you are absolutely certain your life is at stake, how dare someone fire to take someone else’s life? And 16 shots? 41 shots? That one I need explained because I will never understand.
I whole-heartedly support the men and women who put on the badge every day and head to work to serve and protect us. It is a dangerous job. One I don’t think I would ever want to do. However, they made the conscious choice to enter that occupation. They joined the force knowing their life could be in peril. Their bravery every day is applauded. But they do not have the right to take a life. Just as no one should fire at them, they should also not fire at another human being. If a criminal gets away because the police can’t apprehend him, fine. There’ll be another chance to catch the person. Criminals are dumb. But that criminal does not deserve to die for all the petty theft, or because they look suspicious or because they reached for some unknown object. And no one deserves to be brutalized because of the color of their skin.
My great-grandparents grew up in the time of Jim Crow. My parents grew up in the time of desegregation. I grew up in the time of Rodney King. Today’s children are growing up in the time of Black Lives Matter. What do we need to do make sure the next generation doesn’t go through their own version of this? How do I assure the 18 to 22 year-old students I spoke to this week that they matter? How can I assure my friends that their beautiful three-year-olds and baby-to-be won’t have to go through this mistreatment?
We judge people based on their appearances. We make instant assumptions based on what others look like. Sadly, it’s human nature. But you know what’s also an innate human trait? And perhaps the strongest of all? LOVE. Let’s strip away our differences and recognize that at our core we are all human. Black, white, red, yellow, purple, green, it doesn’t matter. 160 IQ or 61, it doesn’t matter. Work in a plush corner office or unemployed using drugs to cope, it doesn’t matter. Has never even uttered a swear word or has a long past of wrongdoing, it doesn’t matter. People don’t deserve to die. It is not our role as humans to take another life. It is not natural, it is not right, it is not just.
I only wish we all could understand this. I’m at a loss of what to do. So, I write because it’s my therapy, and I pray because I believe in a higher power. And most of all, I love because I am human.
We've all become at-home chefs during quarantine, right?! That's one thing I have enjoyed out of the crummy circumstances the coronavirus pandemic has put us in; I've been cooking and baking much more because I'm home and not traveling. The. pandemic hit right around my birthday. Actually, my birthday was a 10-ish hour work day on a bus, at a ball field and on a bus, and then it hit. So, pretty horrible birthday week. Once everything was shut down, I wanted to treat myself with a birthday treat, so I made a confetti custard pie, stuck a candle in it and enjoyed a tiny bit of birthday fun.
For dinners, I tried two recipes from Half Baked Harvest that I am obsessed with! The first was 20 Minute Orzo Carbonara with Crispy Prosciutto and Burrata. This truly only takes about 20 minutes and it's amazingly good. If I ever get dining room chairs and have folks over for dinner, this is absolutely what I'm making. I've never had prosciutto like this, and honestly, I like it more than bacon! So delicious, so easy. And it was great for me because I can make a bit and heat it up for a day or two.
The other Half Baked Harvest dinner recipe that has become my favorite is Crockpot Carne Asada Tacos. I did not make the sauce and did not use steak. I rarely buy beef. I usually always eat venison because it's free, lean and delicious. So, for this recipe I replaced the steak with a venison roast. I usually have small roasts that are perfect size for me and those worked perfect. It was from my deer I got this past Thanksgiving, and there's just something about enjoying your own game! Usually I can't get venison to hold flavor too well, but this is easily the best venison I have ever had. I also modified the recipe by putting this on nachos and adding some homemade guacamole. I plan on making it again this weekend as tacos with some feta cheese.
I did eat beef a little bit when I picked up some steak and paired it with sweet potatoes, HBH's 5 Ingredient Beer Bread, salad and some red wine. What a perfect meal.
I've been baking, too. When the quarantine first started, I baked funfetti cupcakes with custard filling and chocolate frosting and delivered them around to co-workers as a pick-me-up. I had cute little treat boxes and everything. That was my little way to bring some joy during a very stressful, lonely time. I think everyone was very appreciative and liked the moment I was there to see a familiar face and have a quick chat. At Easter I also made cupcakes, almond with dark chocolate ganache filling and raspberry buttercream. I didn't have my piping tools, so the frosting wasn't the prettiest, but they still tasted great! For my friend's birthday, we wanted to get together and picnic at a local park. Everyone brought snacks, chairs, and we just relaxed and had a very nice, low-key celebration. For that, I let the birthday girl pick her dessert and it was just what I wanted to make! I baked a vanilla layer cake with a mixed berry compote and lemon buttercream. Oh. My. Goodness. Was that the perfect summer cake or what?! I forgot to restock my piping bags, so couldn't coat the whole cake, hence the "naked" look. It was light and refreshing. I will definitely make that one again down the road. And I loved the simple decoration of frosted berries on top.
My favorite type of cookies are French macarons, which can be tough to make. The first time I made them they came out okay, but the second time was not so good. I had some cream cheese buttercream left over from a red velvet layer cake that I made for a friend, so I needed something to use it up. Macaron filling was perfect. I made chocolate macarons with the cream cheese buttercream and they came out great! The flavor and texture was amazing. Some tops weren't as smooth as they should be, but I was very happy with my accomplishment!
I had another friend who was planning on a birthday parade for her cutest-ever twins three-year-olds, and she wanted an easy treat to hand out to everyone who came. I gladly offered to help and she came up with the idea of Rice Krispie treats in the shape of 3's dipped in rainbow sprinkles. Easy! Rice Krispie treats are the quickest, easiest thing to make, so I had a lot of fun creating these and sharing. I know she was so appreciative and everyone enjoyed them and thought it was a cute idea. It was really, really hot the day of the party, so these treats were ideal. I'm always willing and glad to bake treats when occasions arise!
Since I finally finished my presidential reading quest, I've been able to read whatever I want! Yay! I've been devouring books. Most have taken me an average of 2-3 days. I do take some days off here and there in-between, so I'd say I'm averaging 7-8 books a month right now - and I'm loving every minute of it!
At first I had a lot of catching up to do on titles I was dying to read that came out in the midst of my biographies but wouldn't allow myself. Here's my initial post-biography binge list:
Most on the list above were historical fiction, my favorite genre. If you enjoy those too, check out 4, 5, 10 and 11. Number 1 was a favorite on everyone's list, it seemed, and although it was very good, it wasn't the best thing I've ever read. I also didn't care too greatly for 9. If you love crime, check out 6. It's the latest in a whole series by a fantastic writer, the one and only J.K. Rowling. She writes this crime series under a pseudonym and all have been great reads.
On to the next stack! Here's what I have read most recently:
Anyway, I was really hesitant to read Untamed. I saw a ton of posts about it and a lot of conversations. Without knowing much about it, my thoughts were, "I'm a single woman living by herself during a global lockdown. I don't need any self help or lessons in life right now. I'm vulnerable enough as it is." However, man-oh-man was I so wrong! It was wonderful, all it was billed to be. I highly recommend all women to give it a read - single, married, divorced, straight, gay, questioning, whatever! Read it.
I've always loved Erik Larson. His research is immaculate. He makes non-fiction read like fiction more than anyone I've ever found. If you love non-fiction and history, check out all of his works on a diverse range of topics.
Jojo Moyes took a real event and wrote a novel surround it and I totally enjoyed The Giver of Stars. Another big recommend for those looking for a good story surrounding strong women. The Night Tiger was just as good of a story! In these times, there is a lot of awareness of what media we are digesting and who we are learning and hearing from. I was entranced by the Asian culture and lovable characters. The Jetsetters was okay. I label those types of books fluff reading. Set in current times with current problems (alcoholism, coming out, infidelity, divorce, etc.), it would make a great beach read. Nothing too deep there. Fluff books are always good to throw in now and again to give your mind a break!
I'm switching gears to tackle more deep content, taking a chance to learn about my inherent white privilege and what I can do to help abolish systematic racism. The next three books in my current stack are non-fiction, self-discovery reads. I will report back again when I'm done!
In the meantime, feel free to ask for any more info about the books listed above. And feel free to throw out any titles you think I should read! Drop a comment below.
Now that I've finished reading a biography of every American President in chronological order from Washington to Reagan, I've received two common questions:
After the first presidents, I really love Ulysses S. Grant. Everything about him. His wholesome beginnings, what a fearless, admired general he was, and the fact that he wasn't a true politician. I don't think he ever became a true politician, despite holding the highest title. It's unfortunate that corruption marred his later years in office, but I believe that came from his cabinet members working around him and some naivety from not being so personally immersed in political ways and means.
Teddy Roosevelt - obvious choice! His life is so incredibly fascinating. I have to admit, when I was nearly done with his 700+ page biography, I realized it was the first of a three-volume set. I did not make myself read the other two, but I certainly will at some point because they were very well-written, and as stated, he was such an incredible character.
The one that surprised me the most was Truman. I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would, and I finished it admiring him far more than I ever thought I would, Honestly, I didn't know too much about him before reading, so learning so much was perhaps part of the pull, but he won me over.
Why did I do this? I thought of the idea way back during the 2016 election and started in January 2017. With all the political turmoil and non-stop bipartisan spats, I wanted a good, true way to understand the American political system. Not just to understand what it means to be Republican and what means to be Democratic, but how the parties formed, what their beliefs are based in, how they have evolved and how they shape the US today. It also gave me a great understanding of our national history overall and why decisions that effected the world at large were made.
Now that I'm done with the Presidents, I can read whatever I want! Some great books have come out the past few years and I've been dying to dive back into some fiction. Here's a look at my stack, not including Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Where the Crawdads Sing was excellent, but not my favorite of all time, like so many have said. Kate Morton's (my favorite author's) most recent book absolutely gutted me! I had to wait a whole day before I could pick up another book, and I was still hesitant then because I knew nothing would compare! If you're a fan of historical fiction and hate not knowing answers and go crazy to want to find out what really happened, read Kate Morton. I love every one of her books so, so much. I read Anita Shreve's The Stars Are Fire today in one day, and am really sad I won't be reading anymore of her work since she unfortunately died of cancer a few years ago. I started back on fiction on April 12, so have read seven books in the past three weeks.
What better time than a global pandemic to get back to writing?! Also, I am reading a fictional novel on two real-life writers, so that also has given me some motivation (more on my reading later). I've really been trying to focus on perspective and positivity during these trying times. But I'm not going to lie, it's been tough. The first week we were shut down was spring break, so I took it as a break for myself and was really lazy. I binged all the TV shows I needed to catch up on and watched movies and lived on my couch. The next week was rough, I hit a funk and had some days were I struggled to drag myself out of bed. I had no motivation to work and was angry at the world - angry at being single, angry at not having Lola, angry at not having family, angry at a job that wasn't fulfilling. I'm usually closeted with my emotions, but I opened up to some friends and realized I was not alone. First of all, it was huge just putting the words out there that I wasn't doing well. That alone lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Then hearing that my friends were right there with me, having good days and having bad days, reminded me that I had a great network of support.
After that, I began scheduling my days and work weeks out. Having that structure really helped get me into the work-from-home groove. I don't always adhere to the schedule, but having some sort of plan gave me the structure I think I was desperately missing.
Although I've been doing better, I realize that part of my struggle was my faith. I normally lean on my faith in hard times, and with everything shut down, I felt shut out. Lent is my favorite time of the year, yet I couldn't get to mass. I couldn't attend a stations of the cross, or Sunday worship, or pick up a church fish fry. I couldn't go get my palms, receive communion and join my fellow worshipers in the most holy time of the year, Easter was rough. I went home and visited my family in NY and questioned my decision to travel nearly every day. My grandpa went back into the hospital Easter morning (he's ok) and some other little things culminated in a horrible attitude and morose mood. Luckily, the weather was warm. I put on my boots, took Lola for a walk around my parents' property and visited my boys, the hounds, and that helped.
I've hosted a few Zoom trivia nights, which I think have been great for everyone to see each other and have some fun. A local company that does bar trivia has posted games on their website, making it easy for me to host. I've even gone so far as to make playlists with songs relating to the questions! It's been a lot of fun. The last two I've hosted I've had a $10 fee with the winner and runner-up getting money back and the rest donated to a COVID-19-worthy cause. It's nice to have fun and give back at the same time.
For the first time, my spare room is finally somewhat livable. I had to clean off my desk in there so that turned into organizing that room. I've also cleaned out my kitchen cupboard and put a box together of items to donate and have cleaned out under my bathroom sinks. Amazing what you can accomplish when you're stuck home with nowhere to go and nothing to do!
The last notable thing I've been doing during quarantine is going on a lot of walks. I've checked out many area parks - some I've visited before, some for the first time. My steps have definitely gone up despite being told to stay home! But rest assured, social distancing is being maintained and I'm taking the precautions to stay safe.
Here I am again, which means I've been partially successful in keeping up with my blog. I've also completed all five of my monthly resolution items for the month of January. However, I can't be too proud because January is the easiest month - let's see where I am come fall!
Task 3: Have at least one culturally-enriching experience was checked off a few weeks ago at the Taft Museum of Art. The museum does monthly "house parties" with different themes each time for some adult fun. I checked out January's house party with three coworkers to see what it was all about and we were not disappointed! The theme was 90's game night. There were tons of board games available to play, a trivia night, DJ playing 90's hits and adult hot cocoa (yum!). There was also a food truck, but by the time we got out there they were closed. The event was free so being able to see the main gallery and special exhibit for no charge was a pretty nice perk. My favorite part of the night was that the museum challenged people to a "What Do You Meme" game. We drew a card and had to match the saying with a piece of art that best expressed it. Participants posted their memes on Instagram with a specific hashtag and one entry was picked as the winner. We did not win, but we enjoyed playing. Check out our selection and a selfie with former lady-of-the-house, Anna Stinton!
Task 5: Read 200 pages or watch a thought-provoking movie or documentary was accomplished, and then some. Not long after my initial post of this year, I went back and watched the first season of True Detective on HBO. WOW. I had watched the second season live and was getting excited for season three with one of my favorites, Mahershala Ali, but I realized I had never gone back and watched season one. It was amazing. Completely worthy of all the praise it received when it originally came out. In addition, I also watched Won't You Be My Neighbor?, the documentary on Mister Rogers and Struggle: The Life and Art of Szukalski. Both were great. I especially loved learning about the eccentric Szukalski and his increasingly complex life.
When it comes to Task 4: Bake something from scratch, I took a little bit of liberty. A tiny bit. Instead of a dessert, I made pierogi , two kinds! One half was potato, bacon, cheddar, green onion, and the other was potato and herb goat cheese. I brought back a bunch of homemade kielbasa, so I can't wait to pull both out of the freezer one of these nights for a delicious, from scratch, Radzinski-made, Polish dinner.
When it comes to Task 2: Spend at least 30 minutes doing something for myself, I think I did this in a few ways. One night I took the time to soak in a hot bath with some aromatherapy. Along those same lines, I have spent a lot of time relaxing. My free time at home is going to disappear soon, so I have made sure I have taken advantage of being able to be home with no plans. I've watched some shows (some noted above), read through some magazines and overall, not cared or felt guilty about just taking time to turn off my brain and work and be a couch potato for a little bit. It helped that we had some snowy weather on the weekends, so the view looking out was lovely and the birds visiting on my porch were fun to watch.
This past three-day weekend, my friend came to visit so I got to explore a new coffee shop and then we splurged on some sweet potato dumpling with pork shoulder that was almost too pretty to eat!
This post has been long enough, so, even though the Oscar nominees were announced today, I'll save that until later - maybe this weekend!
Clearly, I'm not the greatest at this whole blogging thing. But, it's a new year and there is no better time to give it a go. Writing has always been a bit cathartic and relaxing for me, so if nothing else, it gives me a reason to jot down some original thought.
Anyway, resolutions are always hard to remember and stick to for 12 months. Who honestly can keep a resolution from January 1 through December 31?! So, I've picked five items that I wish to accomplish each month during the year of 2019. They are:
1. Eat an unforgettable meal
I love food, for the first is an easy one and a way to make sure I treat myself every once in a while. The second is an obvious. The third is an attempt to ensure I get out to museums, parks, monuments, etc., to learn and to enjoy. The fourth is something I do fairly regularly. I love to create sweet treats, so I want to be sure I don't skip this in any month. The fifth is something I try to do naturally anyway, so this will be a good way to keep track. Most of these will be pretty attainable in January, but the reason for doing monthly tasks is so once my schedule gets extremely hectic February-May, I want to be sure I am still taking time for myself - for personal enjoyment and learning.
January's meal has already been checked off the list. Once the holidays were over, I swung through my old stopping grounds of Kent, Ohio, for a great visit with friends. We went to dinner at an old favorite, Bistro on Main, and I had sweet potato gnocchi with spinach and pulled pork. It did not disappoint! I had pumpkin gnocchi at a place in Cincinnati in December that were an amazing. I think that started a current obsession. The sweet potato gnocchi came with a sriracha maple syrup that I got on the side because it was a little too hot for my weak taste buds, but it had great flavor and was a great compliment to the dish.
Once I got back to Cincinnati I kicked butt taking care of things. In a 24-hour period, I cleaned out my fridge, went grocery shopping, stopped at a few other stores for some items, did two loads of laundry, dusted, swept and mopped floors, put away Christmas decorations, worked out and meal prepped. Whew! It felt great to get a lot accomplished. There are still a few things I want to do, but I hopefully can knock those off this coming weekend. On top of all the productivity, I read one of the stack of magazines I have wanted to get through. For task No. 5 I wanted the entire first season of True Detective on HBO - and when I say watch I mean binged. I watched the second season live and cannot wait for the third, but I realized I had never seen the initial season. I'm so glad I finally watched it. It was as amazing as I had always heard it was.
Saturday night had had another fantastic meal, this time checking out a new local place: Agave and Rye in Covington, Ky. Let me just say - wow! Every taco is huge and they are hard shells wrapped in a soft shell. They also can put deliciousness like queso, salsa and beans in between the two shells. I got a No. 15 The Plain Jane which was ground beef, lettuce, cheddar, tomato and sour cream with queso between the shells. Then I got the No. 5 The Rima D which has braised short rib, garlic mashed potatoes, crispy onions and natural jus. At most places three tacos is standard. At Agave and Rye, one could be a meal and two will make you so full! Highly recommend stopping by for anyone looking for good tacos in the Cincinnati area. There are unique choices and something for everyone. They are also well-known for their tequila and bourbon, for those who like to imbibe, as well.