Holy Forking Shirtballs.

Well wasn't this week interesting!

Last week I mentioned interviewing for a higher-level position at my workplace.
My interview was on Tuesday and lasted about 45 minutes. I was told I'd hear the results within a few days/a week.
24 hours later and I've been offered the job!

It's basically a management position, instead of captioning I'll be supervising captioners, monitoring their speed/accuracy and attendance, and handling problems on the call floor as they come up. I really enjoyed captioning because it's so laid back and relaxing, and a fun test of personal skill. Being a manager will be much more work and much less relaxing. But honestly, I needed a confidence boost. I've needed once since 2017. I've needed to be needed in the work force. And I want to learn, and do a good job. Oh and of course I could really use the money!

So I am excited for this change, and hope that it will be a good one.

I start training right away on Monday. This means that my work schedule is suddenly changing, so I had to inform my stenography teacher right away. To my surprise, in addition to being perfectly OK with me doing some self-study for the next two weeks, she also told me she's nominating me for a $5000 scholarship opportunity! I will have to work extra hard and learn some specific stenography things faster than usual. But if I can do it, that could mean literally half off my tuition. And even if I don't get the scholarship, the accelerated learning would put me way ahead in my studies and make it more possible for me to graduate on time.

Both of these things happened on the same day. CRAZY. WEIRD.

So those are the main unexpected excitements.
The other thing is, my garden is doing spectacularly well.
The herbs especially seem very happy to be alive. The parsley is shooting all over the place and the basil has grown an additional 1/3rd of its original size. I'm going to have to trim all of the herbs back this week! The tomato plant has doubled in size and will need support soon. It has one flower, so I'm hoping to get a few tomatoes at some point. I was also surprised to find two strawberries hiding under one of the strawberry plants! Somehow I didn't actually expect things to bear fruit haha.



Lastly, the radishes and carrots that I planted from seed are coming up quickly and with a lot of energy :) The radishes literally appeared 48 hours after planting! I love that enthusiasm!


Since my schedule is being shifted around for training, I now have the whole weekend off.
I'm hoping to use one of those days to prepare the soil around the house for planting. It would be nice if I could move the decorative plants to the "yard", and maybe some of the herbs as well.

In other house news, Jameson got new blinds installed! They are SO nice. The old blinds were extremely loud and clunky, half-broken, and made this place feel like a rental. These new blinds change the lighting and make it feel a lot more like a home in here. Love them.




Our housewarming party was Thursday night. four of Jameson's friends came over to have fun with us.
I spent the day mostly cleaning and prepping for their arrival. I did a little prep work for the food, like seasoning the wings and getting them in the oven and making a chimichurri sauce for the flank steak. But Jameson did 99% of the meal planning and cooking this time, and he did an amazing job! I was especially impressed with the sweet and hot sticky wings, and the chicken carrot taquitos, both of which were recipes from The Dude Diet.




For my contribution I bought a lot of booze haha. And I made a mundane salad, and a pretty tasty "berry dump" cobbler with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, bourbon, oats, vanilla, and brown sugar. Topped with vanilla ice cream and homemade whipped cream, it was pretty awfully good! No leftovers for this one!


After the meal we played Quiplash and a few other Steam games. I didn't win :P but it was still lots of fun!
Some of the answers you can get in that game definitely make you look at your friends in a different light, lol.
As far as I could tell everyone had a good time. I think our first attempt at hosting was a great success!

The next day we got up a bit late, not surprisingly. It was glorious to step out into a clean living room and kitchen.
Man, I wish people would come over more often so I'd be forced to keep the house this clean all the time!!
We could have gone to the gym but said screw it, and just relaxed for most of the day.

I really needed some quiet time to process my life haha. I practiced my stenography and experimented with screen recordings so that I can send my teacher evidence that I'm actually working while not attending class over the next two weeks. When I got to a point where I needed a break from steno, I enjoyed some party leftovers and went to the garden to give my tomato plant a stake for support (good day for it too, as it was pretty windy.) While Jameson played Luigi's Mansion I read The Dragon Reborn and chatted with my sister via text. It was really nice to chill, and I need to enjoy it now before my life gets a whole lot more crazy in two days.

Jameson has a gig tonight, so I'm continuing my chill solo as I type this.
I have tomorrow and Sunday off, and begin my training on Monday.
Wish me luck!

First week of 2020

This week was full of surprises.

Jameson invited some friends over to the house for next week. I'm really excited! It's just an evening hang, no special occasion, but this is the first time we've had people over to the house. I've never really been a host before because frankly I've never had a space of my own to host with haha. I'm gonna clean up the house and we'll both prepare some nice food. We already have a great game collection. Yay!

I've also received an opportunity to interview for a higher position at my workplace. Yay! Who knows what will come of it, but I'm very happy for the opportunity to interview and glad to have a workplace that responds to applications. A pretty rare thing, I've learned.

And I've started court reporting classes. So far it's just going over the syllabus, but I'm sure things will pick up next week. It's so odd to be doing classes online. But hopefully it will be worth it. I've got a lot of hope invested in this choice, and not a lot of promise of reward. But there's only one life to live, and I've go to try. I owe it to myself and the people I love.

What else! My plants continue to do well, it's only been about a week so there's not been much change. A few of the lobelias bloomed and the herbs seem to be thriving.



On Thursday I made a soup mix that my Aunt had got for me the last time we visited. It's got lentils and rice, and you add broth, a variety of veggies, and meat of your choice and simmer it for about two hours. I made some chicken and turkey meatballs with parsley from my little garden. It turned out great, although a little spicy because I overdid the cayenne pepper.


I also made some "energy bars" using the base recipe from The Joy of Cooking.
There are only four ingredients: dates, almonds, cocoa powder, and a little salt.
Put them in a blender and shape them into bars or balls. Tadaaaaa.
These were super simple and they're very tasty. Alton Brown has a recipe for these in his cookbook as well, it's a bit more complicated and involves a lot more ingredients (coconut, flax seeds, pepitas, etc), so once these are consumed I'll be trying to make his next.


I was going to make salmon skewers with farro salad for dinner on Friday, but instead we decided to go to Seasons 52 for a little something special. No occasion, my parents got us a gift card and we thought it'd be nice to use it :)

I got a lovely piece of tuna on a bed of mint tabouli with tomatoes, and lemon hummus on the side. It was REALLY good, especially with a glass of red wine and an espresso dessert shot afterward!



As I type this we're chilling, digesting, watching some gaming speed runs on GDQ.
It's been a nice week. I hope 2020 will continue to be kind to us.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Before I forget or get distracted, here is what I've been waiting to "announce".

In about a week I am going back to school.
I will be attending Atlantic Technical College 100% online, studying stenography/court reporting.
It is a two year program, after which I will need to pass some tests to become certified.

There it is. Said it out loud, so it's really happening.

Part of the reason I waited so long to say anything was because there was a possibility of going out on tour with Networks Presentations.
They were supposed to do a year-long run of Chicago. The money would have been really good.
Sadly, the tour was cancelled. I was just notified a few days ago.

This is why, you guys.

The deadline to pay for the first semester was mid-December.

If I had relied on the tour happening as advertised, I'd be up shit creek right now.

But instead I paid for school and went ahead as though nothing was happening.

And as it turns out, nothing IS happening.

Music was never reliable to begin with. But I do feel like there used to be a lot more opportunity, and a lot less chance of shows closing a week after they're announced. I think it's really sad, and every day I feel sad about the things I've dreamed of doing, that I'll never get to do. But that's life, isn't it. And there are other things in life that I've always wanted to do, like have a garden and learn to cook well and travel to various countries. And the only way I'm going to be able to accomplish that is to move on to something else.

So I'm going to school. I'm very nervous about it...while this field is in demand, it's also difficult to get certified, with only 10% of applicants actually making it through certification. The school I'm attending has a 50% dropout rate. Who knows what will happen. But I've got to do something. I can't just keep applying for gigs and music-based jobs and getting nothing but silence in return. If I'm not wanted, I need to make myself useful elsewhere.

All of that said, I am the tiniest bit excited to learn something new. I hope that I'll really come to enjoy this work.


Alright, that's done. In other news, like everyone else we've entered the post-holiday phase. We had a really nice New Year's celebration at one of Jameson's friend's house, and despite only getting a few hours of sleep afterward the fun we had was totally worth being tired the next day! Jameson and I KILLED at the trivia games we played. Maybe we should sign up for a game show :P

Jameson took down the Christmas lights, and I'll probably get the tree down once I've Skype-Christmased with my family this coming Sunday. Everyone was busy this year so we ended up putting off gifts until we could all "be together". It's weird to still have gifts to open!

On Thursday I got some much-needed sleep, then after a nice chill morning Jameson took me to Lowe's to get dirt and plants for my planter!! I was so excited to pick out the plants, although I felt a little scatterbrained...I really have NO idea what I'm doing! But I think I got a good start and a nice variety that will allow me to learn, possibly without killing everything I touch. Goals!

Back at home Jameson filled the planter for me, then I got to work planting! It was very fun, and when I was finished I was pretty happy with how it looked :)



Now before any of you experienced gardeners freak out, I've since been informed what I've done wrong and spent a little time on Friday correcting my errors. I've given the lettuce and strawberries more space, and removed the crotons to their own pot. Once my carrot and radish seeds arrive and germinate I'll likely remove all the decorative flowers. It's still probably not quite right, but the whole point of this is to learn as I go. I do not have time to research as much as I should, so there will be mistakes. But hopefully over time I will learn enough to have a good garden. Over time y'all, not this very minute :P

Anyway, Jameson had a gig in the evening so I spent my night relaxing and doing a little organizing in parts of the house.
On Friday after fixing my little garden, Jameson and I went to the gym. I picked up a reserved book from the library. We went to Lowe's for a few things: a storage box for the pool area, a hose coil, a tiller, and some planters. We got ingredients for a nice dinner, cooked and ate it, and just hung out for the rest of the night.

From Dude Diet Dinnertime: coconut chicken patties with mango tomato salsa and quinoa rice on the side.


So let's see. On Sunday I've got Late Christmas with my family. On Wednesday I've got my first day of online class. And I've got my usual work. I hope it'll be a good week. I hope 2020 will be ok.

Christmas for Days

It turned out to be a busy yet fun Christmas for us :)

I worked my normal schedule and also played three Christmas services for St. James Cathedral.
This is my third year playing with them, and it's a pleasure every time. People are really welcoming, the services are nice, and the musicians they gather together are usually fun and professional people.

One of my favorite things about playing at this church is getting to hear Adam Brakel play. He's just SO DANG GOOD.



This year I was surprised when he offered to have me record his performance. I've been kind of sneaking footage of him over the years, because some people don't like to be recorded and I was pretty much too shy to ask him outright. I think he found one of my videos online, and figured that I was too shy to ask. I can't be the first.

Anyway, the services were nice and it was good to have a gig. I am woefully out of practice, but with a buttload of reverb and a massive organ it's hard to tell. I didn't ruin Christmas with my playing anyway :P

Before and after these services I was working at CapTel. There seemed to be fewer calls coming in, but each call was a lot longer, relatives catching up and stuff like that. I wish I could have had Christmas off, but it also felt nice to help people communicate with their family and friends over the holidays.

On Christmas Day, Jameson made us a beautiful beef tenderloin roast with asparagus and a horseradish sauce.



We ate and watched Emmet Otter while opening Christmas presents. I can't open the ones from my parents yet because we're all waiting until January 5th to open them together via Skype! Too many of us had to work or travel on actual Christmas Day this year it seems.

So, presents! I got Jameson a Freddie Mercury vinyl box set, a The Office-Themed game of CLUE, and a gift card for Banana Republic so he can get himself some new undies! His parents sent him some cool art for the wall above his piano, and a Nintendo Switch!! He received a few other things from his parents and his brothers, like gift cards and a new floatie for the pool.

Jameson's parents got me a shirt from Ivory Ella, some elephant-themed socks, and a beautiful framed artistically-rendered photo of my niece Elliotte and I. They also got us the latest Half-Baked Harvest cookbook that I'm super excited about, it features easy and quick recipes that you can pre-make or freeze or make in under 30 minutes! Just what we need!

I was honestly amazed by what Jameson got me this year. None of it was on my wishlists, and yet all of it was stuff I definitely wished I could have! He noticed that I like Nathan Pyle's Strange Planet comics, so he got me some of the shirts! He also got me a big case of flavored teas, knowing that I love to bring hot tea with me to work :) The tea he gets me, I call it "boyfriend tea" and I keep it in a special place in the kitchen <3

You guys, he got me a burrito blanket!! I mean come ON. This is exactly the type of thing that I want in my life!



Finally, there was this HUGE box sitting next to the tree. I opened it and was thrilled to find a planter! An elevated gardening planter, big enough to house tons of plants, deep enough to grow root vegetables. This is something that I've wanted for a long time, but always had to say "someday" because there wasn't enough space or time or a safe place for plants to grow. But now...we are in a house, and the pool deck is big and sunny.


I was really, really touched by this gift. It means a lot to have a place...you know? A safe place to be, and to grow things over time. That just means a lot more than words can say. I'm very excited to start growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers :)

The day after Christmas I woke up a bit early and made us some breakfast. Some Kodiak pancakes, bacon from Lucky's Market, leftover deviled eggs, and buttermilk biscuits! I've made them several times by now and thought they'd be good with some of the local blueberry preserves and some homemade whipped cream. Mmmmm!



After that I researched plants and vegetables while Jameson set up his Switch. After a while I went to the gym, where I had my last one-on-one session with a trainer. I was surprised to find that my resting heart rate has gone down by ten beats since joining the gym! Not sure if I was just more relaxed or if it has to do with actually working out. Either way, all of my other measurements were exactly the same so it was nice that the one change was a good one!

On the way home I stopped by Lowe's to look at the plants in the garden section. They had some really nice veggies and herbs...I was tempted to buy some right away! But I gotta exercise patience because it's not really planting season yet! And I need to get the planter ready to go first. So I looked and drooled over the possibilities, then came home to eat lunch and chill :)

Later on we watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and I made us some hot cocoa from scratch. My mom always insisted on making her hot chocolate on the stove rather than from a premixed pouch, and since I had all the ingredients on hand I figured why not! It was very easy and way better than instant! Cocoa powder, sugar, salt, milk, vanilla. Marshmallows, chocolate chips, whipped cream, cinnamon, candy cane. Perfect.



Once again I'm going to procrastinate on sharing my upcoming life changes. The thing is, there are multiple ways things could go and I don't know what's going to happen. I have to wait a little longer and see which path opens up.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy Hanukkah (or start to Hanukkah).

Cookies & Covers

I made cookies y'all!


The stained glass cookies I made last week as you know...they're probably kinda stale but that's the point, they're more a decoration than a food. The others are chewy ginger cookies; Santa faces made with lemon-zested dough and royal icing; chocolate teddy bears (that came out looking nothing like the example picture, argh); and peanut butter blossoms.

It's been a long time since I had the time to make Christmas cookies. It was really nice. The Santa cookies especially made me think of my Mom. I made up little boxes for the neighbors, who have been so kind and helpful toward us this year. I hope they enjoy them!

We went to see Trans Siberian Orchestra last Saturday and they were amazing! If you like rock and you like Christmas music, plus a good heartwarming story, this is the show for you. I won't spam you with clips but here are a few just because it was so amazing this year. They had a Tesla coil that had somehow been rigged to "play" along with the band!! I mean COME ON!!

https://instagram.com/p/B6FJs7xgkXP
We had floor seats fairly far back and weren't expecting anything magical, but to our surprise Angus Clark came down at one point and strolled around pretty close to us! That was fun!!
https://instagram.com/p/B6FJPgBAFv8
It was a good time :)

The rest of the week was pretty straightforward. Presents have been arriving from family and from each other, piling up under the tree. It definitely feels more festive around here.

Over my "weekend", we watched Krampus and found a place that makes real British traditional foods! Jameson got a steak and ale pie, while I enjoyed a Cornish pasty. It was a small deli- or cafe-like place, nothing fancy, but the food was delicious and we're both hoping to go there again after the new year when they've got beef Wellingtons back in stock!

Back at home, we watched a no-longer-live live stream from Outside Xtra, which is a companion channel to Outside Xbox, featuring gaming culture. They are also currently running a charity drive for Mind, an organization dedicated to mental health. A while ago Outside Xtra put out a request for covers for their song Literally Everyone Else in the World. Jameson sent in a submission...so we were watching half-hoping they'd feature his music.

And they did!! Wow!! It was so cool to hear Jameson's music while the Outside Xtra cast danced along and enjoyed it. There were hundreds of submissions and they only played about 15 of them during the live stream, so I think it says something that Jameson's was one of the works selected. I'm very proud of him and hope he's proud of himself!!



In case the timestamp doesn't work, Jameson's piece starts at 30:56.

That's pretty much our excitement for the week. Next week is of course Christmas, so I can't make any promises about getting a post out on time. I have to work extra, playing in church. Extra work but I love it :)

I had promised an announcement about something that'll be happening in my life next year, but I'm going to put that off again until next week just because there's a lot going on right now and I need time to express things for that post. Thanks for understanding and have a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, whatever you do or don't celebrate, may you find peace.

Pre-Christmas

About 2.5 weeks after my accident, I'm feeling pretty good.
Almost all of the soreness is gone, and I have all the motion back in my hands and arms.

I'm enjoying the new car. There's a lot to get used to!
This is the "Sport" trim Corolla, which I find kind of amusing because Corolla to me just does not scream "sporty".
While tooling down the road I found two weird pedals/flaps behind the steering wheel with + - symbols on them.
"What's this?" I thought, and promptly squeezed the "-".
And my poor car shifted into 2nd gear. Yeeeeek!

So apparently part of being "sporty" is having the ability to go manual. Either by squeezing the wheel pedals or using a special extension on the stick shift. Great, awesome! Two things I will never ever be using!

Another "sporty" feature is a very stiff suspension. The first time I ran over a reflector tab on the road it felt like running over a boulder. You can definitely "feel the road", and I'll bet that doesn't appeal to a lot of people. While car shopping I was driving a 2020 Corolla L, and it was a very smooth ride. But honestly, I almost never have a passenger so it doesn't really matter to me.

I also need to remember that I now have a backup camera, I don't need to contort myself to make sure there's no shopping cart behind my car or whatever.

Like all Corollas, this one hates to accelerate quickly despite being a "sport" model. But I do notice that once you get going the car is much more responsive than my last Corolla. It hugs the road better and it doesn't feel reluctant to accelerate. The steering is much more tight/stiff than my last car, and MUCH stiffer than the 2020 Corolla I was renting. I am a one-hand driver, and being able to control the car by just holding the wheel at 6 o'clock or 11 o'clock and twitch my wrist to get instant response is pretty nice, something I didn't even enjoy in my previous car.

One thing I hated about the 2020 was the lane assist, which actually twitched the steering wheel away from the dividing road lines any time I drifted over to pass, merge, etc without a signal. Not that I do that without signaling, but when I'm in the left lane I do like to ride the left line, especially on I-4 where trucks are trying to navigate twists and turns created by construction. And I don't appreciate my car telling me how to drive it. Some Corolla reviews complain about the "lack of safety features" such as lane assist, or the equally annoying "take a break" notifications that my rental Kia gave me over Thanksgiving when I was apparently blinking too much. Frankly, I don't care if not having those features makes my car "less safe". I've gone 35 years of my life without an accident up until now, and it wasn't because my car was twitching the wheel out of my hands or yelling at me to pull over every twenty miles.

Anyway, the other thing I'm getting used to is tinted windows. In the summer I'm going to love them, no question, but right now they make me a bit nervous because I'm afraid I'm not seeing other cars as well. But again, I think I'll get used to it and trust it a bit more after a while.

I'm REALLY liking the climate control! I set it just like a thermostat and forget about it. No more messing with the fan and AC to try and figure out how to get cool.

It's a great car so far. I hope it stays that way.

This week it was nice to go back to work and have some normalcy.
I am grateful I didn't have to lose more than a day of work.

On my days off this week, Jameson and I decided to pick up a Christmas tree!
This is my first time ever actually getting a tree, as opposed to my parents getting one for our family. I feel like a true adult haha.
Getting it home was a bit stressful, it was raining and the tree slid around on the roof quite a bit! We had to stop twice to adjust it.
But we survived and the tree looks great. While Jameson got it set up I cooked us a quick beef stir fry dinner. After we ate we decorated using a bunch of ornaments Jameson had in storage, and lights of course. It turned out really nice! I love the smell of a real tree, too :)



I added a few of my mom's "magic window cookies" to the tree as well. These are kind of a basic bland cookie dough recipe, then you cut out the center of the cookie and fill it with shards of candy. It melts, creating a stained glass look. We used to decorate the tree with them when I was a kid. They look pretty good!


Making these cookies and setting up the tree made me realize just how close to Christmas it is!
I spent the rest of the night finishing up some Christmas packages for my family, since I won't get to come home for Christmas.
The next day I mailed them off at a little shipping place near our house. It was a good thing I picked a small place; from what I heard, the UPS store and USPS nearby were both packed! Saturday is the last ground shipping day, after all.

That done, Jameson and I ate lunch and went to the gym. After a little rest I took myself to the store for cookie and eggnog ingredients. Yeah, I'm making homemade eggnog!



This is another Alton Brown recipe, so of course it can't be simple :P
First I separated the egg yolks and whites. The yolks went into the mixer with some sugar for a bit before cream, milk, bourbon, rum, and nutmeg were added. When it was well-blended I poured it into a pitcher.




Next was whipping the egg whites into "soft peaks". No indication of how long this would take or what constitutes "soft peaks". Guess you're supposed to know that already. When things started looking pretty fluffy I added a tablespoon of sugar and waited for "stiff peaks" to form. Again, no idea what constitutes "stiff peaks" when not actually making a meringue. Soooo I may have over-whipped the egg whites. Because then I was supposed to fold them into the yolk mixture, and it was like trying to fold an actual pillow into a beverage.



But, I mean, it tastes pretty dang good. I don't even like eggnog at all, and I thought this was way better than storebought.
If you've got ten minutes and the 6-7 ingredients, give it a shot.

So that was essentially my week. I have one other thing to report, but since this was a pretty long post I figured I'd wait until next week for the big reveal. (It's not actually a big deal.) Happy Holidays everyone.

Well That Was Unexpected

For those who didn't hear, I was in a car accident on Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

I was coming home on my normal commute, taking toll roads this time because traffic was crazy and avoiding tolls would have taken an extra half hour. I picked up dinner for Jameson and I on the way.

As my exit came up I got over to the right and slowed down as I could see the line of cars taking the ramp was backed up onto the highway. This was not unusual during rush hour, plus the rightmost lane was right after a toll station so traffic was typically forced to slow down at this spot. I got in line to exit, coming to a stop.

I happened to glance in the rearview and saw the chrome grill of a truck coming at me way, way too fast.

In retrospect, I think I had about two seconds to react. A part of my brain was screaming, "HIT THE GAS!" and another part whispered, "It's too late." If I could have done anything it doesn't matter now because I hesitated for one second, and that was too long.

The impact was insane. I didn't hear any squealing brakes beforehand, just a horrible silence before this incredibly loud boom. My mouth was open but I don't know if I was screaming. My eyes were open too, because I saw the airbag deploy in front of me and the side airbags come down in my peripheral vision. Everything was chaos.

After what seemed like forever everything stopped. My ears were ringing and I couldn't hear anything for a few moments as I looked around in shock. I registered that the back windshield was shattered, then I slowly felt myself all over to try and tell if I was hurt. Finding that I could move my arms and neck, and there was no blood, I frantically searched for my phone. It had ended up under the gas pedal so it was lucky I wasn't hurt because I had to contort myself to get it.

I immediately called Jameson to tell him what happened. He calmed me down and told me to call 911 and then my insurance, and let me know he would be there right after the police and ambulance showed up. I tried to get out of the car and eventually succeeded after kicking my passenger door open. I immediately called 911 while taking stock of the other vehicles involved to see who might be injured. Fortunately it looked like everyone was shaken but ok, so the dispatcher sent highway patrol.

The truck that hit me had four kids in it, one of whom was the driver. I'm talking kids, like I'm guessing the driver hadn't been on the road for a year yet. I asked if they were ok, and when the answer was yes I asked for insurance information, which they did not have. The other two vehicles involved were a Jeep that had been in front of me, and a silver Honda that had been in front of him. Both had minor vehicle damage and seemed completely fine. My car, on the other hand, was totaled.





The truck that hit me. A GMC Sierra with a lifted body and chrome grill.



There's no point describing all that happened after that. We waited, exchanged information, got tow trucks. The dad of the driver of the red truck was the only one cited as they had clearly caused the accident. I grabbed as much stuff out of my car as possible, leaving useless things like old paperwork and tissue boxes and things I couldn't reach because they were smashed into the trunk or riddled with glass. Eventually everyone left, and the highway patrol officer gave me a lift to the nearest public parking lot right off the exit so Jameson could safely come get me.

I was really shaken up and upset, of course, but shockingly unharmed. My arms got it the worst, I could barely close my hands and from the elbows down I was stiff and lacking sensation. Since I remember seeing the airbag go off right in front of my face without hitting it I think I must have braced incredibly hard against the steering wheel. A few days later I felt a little sore at the base of my skull, near my tailbone, and on my right side near my ribs. But otherwise I really sustained very little damage. As I'm typing this more than a week later my arms are 90% back to normal, just some painful twinges in my right arm when I try to lift something and forget that it's still healing.

During all this I was very, very grateful that Jameson was there. It was good to have someone to look out for me and make sure I was ok. Although the night of the accident I felt really bad for him because both of us were worried about injuries we couldn't see, like internal bleeding or concussions, so we both barely slept at all. At one point I woke up and his face was right next to mine, like he was staying as close as possible to make sure I was still breathing. Sweet, but I hate to make him worry!!!

Anyway, after all that I was able to go home for Thanksgiving. It felt like a miracle. And it was also extremely tiring...less than 48 hours after a horrible car accident, getting on a plane and then driving two hours to get home at 2am. I was pretty well wrecked. But it was amazing, because for once almost my entire family was present. That almost never happens any more. I got to catch up so much (still not enough!) and we all took tons of photos that I can't WAIT to see. I'm so, so grateful that I could see everyone after such a horrible experience. It really helped me to feel better, and to feel loved.

When I came back from Thanksgiving there was a lot of work to do. In a weird twist of fate, weeks before this accident I had randomly called out from work for December 5th through 8th to try and use some PTO. This allowed me four full days to look for a new car. VERY grateful to whatever gods or fates made that happen!

My poor car was declared a total loss by my insurance, and I was given a rental car through the 8th.
I did a whole bunch of research, then drove around to five different dealerships looking at and test driving used cars.
I had forgotten how awful buying a car can be especially as a solo woman. Ugh.
At one dealership they wasted nearly an hour of my time trying to push me into buying a new car because they had nothing in their lot for me. Another dealership had sold the cars I was interested in days ago and had never taken them off the site.
One dealership was especially disappointing as they had a huge selection of Corollas, but every single one had an accident on the CARFAX.

Exhausted and annoyed, I made a final stop at a Chrysler dealership that had two lonely used Corollas sitting in their lot. The newer model had very low mileage and an unusually low price, so of course it had two major accidents on the CARFAX. The slightly older model turned out to be the best used car I'd looked at all day. The interior was clean; every other Corolla I'd tried had stains or cigarette burns or reeked of smoke/weed/dog. It started on the first try, unlike one 2018 from another dealership that took the salesperson three tries to start. It handled nicely and no indicator lights came on. It felt comfortable, and clean, and good. It felt right.

I took it.




The CARFAX had no accidents. It was once a fleet car, just like my first Corolla. To me, a good sign.
So far I'm very happy with it...the only flaw I've found is that there's a random soft knocking coming from somewhere. It doesn't seem to be mechanical, just sounds like something dangling or loose somewhere, so I will wait until my first oil change to address it. But really, to me it is a very nice car.

Some would criticize that I'm sticking with the same brand and model of car, and that it's a bland boring Corolla.
Those people are welcome to send me several thousand more dollars so I can get something more fun. Please do!
Consider that my first Corolla lasted ten years and was well on its way to breaking the 200k mark when it's life came to a premature end. And consider that it may very well have not only saved my life, but prevented me from getting any serious injuries in a very serious car accident.

So yes, damn right I'm going to get another Corolla. I'm open to Hondas and Mazdas too, but they are consistently out of my price range :P

A lot happened this past week. I'm just grateful to get through the bad parts, and to have people in my life who are there when things like this happen. I realize that not everyone is so lucky, and I may not always be either.

Christmas Shopping Begins

Not a lot to report again this week, except that I decided to take care of as much Christmas shopping as possible before Thanksgiving.

It's really rare for me to get my act together with gift-buying this early.
Then again, it's easier to do it because I'm not in a different city every week having valuable gifts forwarded through eight mailrooms to hopefully end up wherever I am on any given day.
The little joys of stationary life.

But seriously, I'm really glad to be able to do this. I feel like it's been ages since I've been able to actually assemble gifts for people, like thoughtfully and completely. I even sent advent calendars to all of my siblings this week, just for fun and nostalgia. And I hope they'll enjoy their presents too!

Jameson had his usual work, but also did a special event for Disney that sounded really amazing! I can't share any details because it was a private event for a family, but it looked like a lot of fun and I'm glad he got to do it. He even had to wear a tux! Oooooooh I love a man in a suit, let me tell you! I begged him to let me see him in it after his performance. WOOOOOO!!!



He's taken ladies ;)

Anyway, nothing spectacular happened this week for me, just work as usual and starting to think about Thanksgiving. Next week already! Good grief!

On Thursday I did as many in-person actual-physical Christmas shopping errands as I could. I sent off the advent calendars, rerouted a lost package, visited the Florida Mall for two gifts, Premium Outlets for some stocking stuffers, and Disney Springs for a little something for Elliotte. Back home I unpacked and ate lunch, hit the gym, returned a library book and got a new one, and picked up some groceries. I vacuumed and dusted and cleaned the bathrooms, then finally flopped down to enjoy a little Me Time before Jameson got home.

On Friday we had someone come in to give us an estimate for new blinds for the house! Jameson picked out some honeycomb blinds that will look really nice and hopefully block out enough light to help us sleep better and reduce glare on the TV. After that we went to the gym (even though we are both sore!) and had lunch.

After that I hit my big project for the week: cleaning the pool enclosure screens!
The screens collect pollen, mildew, dead bugs, etc over time. I've been wanting to clean them since first moving in, but didn't have the right equipment. Finally I've gathered all the brushes and stuff I need, so it was time to hit it. It took I think an hour and a half, but I think next time it'll be quicker because I'll know what I'm doing. It was very satisfying to watch all the green slime wash away. Can you see a difference?




After that I was pretty awfully tired, so took a little break before starting on dinner. This week I chose a "Sloppy Jose's" recipe from Dude Diet with a side of oven-roasted green beans in a red wine mustard glaze. I didn't take pictures because I was just too tired and just wanted to cook and eat. it's sloppy joe's, you've seen 'em before. The only difference with these was a bit of a Mexican bent to the seasonings and the inclusion of pinto beans, hence "Sloppy Jose's" instead of "Joe's".

Anyway, they turned out pretty good. We ate and I cleaned up while Jameson relaxed before his gig.
He's just left and I'm here typing this up and getting ready for the start of my work week tomorrow.
I can't believe Thanksgiving is so soon. I hope I remember everything I need for it!!

Note, I will probably not post next week due to the holiday.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! There's a lot to be thankful for.

Jameson's Birfday :)

Week got off to a good start.

On Saturday I was able to swing by se7enbites to get Jameson and I some treats! It's been a while since we've hit their bakery now that we live farther away. I got us each a "ding dong", a "Charlie Brown" for him (chocolate cookie with peanut butter filling) and an Earl Grey scone for me. I was surprised at how much I could taste the tea in my scone!

I had a nice gym morning on Sunday before work. I incorporated the suggestions my one-on-one coach gave (less cardio, more weights) and enjoyed a protein shake. After work we had a chill night at home. Jameson has a lot of gigs this week and is recovering from his own body being a d*ckhead so it was good to just chill out.

Monday through Wednesday were pretty standard stuff, I worked and came home and spent time with Jameson, doing a few little chores here and there.

Thursday was Jameson's birthday!! He didn't really feel like celebrating, but I was hoping to make the day a little special for him, so got him some gifts! Two books that had been on his wishlist, and a customized birthday card featuring him drawn into the cast of The Office! He seemed to really like them :) His parents also facetimed to say hello and watch him open his gift from them, a set of outdoor string lights! We put them up over the pool. They're solar-powered so they're a bit dim currently, it will take a little while before we see them fully lit. Can't wait!



And yes, we do need two more strings haha. We've ordered them and they're on the way!
In the evening we went to see Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining. Before going we watched The Shining (embarrassed to say I've never seen it before!) and that turned out to be a good idea because there were tons of references. We both enjoyed the movie a lot!

Friday, Jameson had rehearsal for a special Disney event in the afternoon and evening. I went to the gym and visited Lowe's for some pool deck cleaning equipment, including an outdoor hose and nozzle. I'd wanted to get a push broom and soft bristle brush for cleaning the screen enclosure, but Lowe's had a surprisingly poor selection so I'll have to wait until Saturday when I'm near a Home Depot to get what I need.

So instead of scrubbing the pool area, I decided to do a little cooking for the week. Nothing fancy, just food to have in the fridge since we're both leading busy lives. I boiled some eggs and separated a pomegranate, then made what I call "Jameson's Epic Chicken Salad". It's chicken breast, pasta, mayo, mustard, celery, edamame, and spices. Makes a great meal during the week when we don't have time to cook.

After a little hesitation I also decided to try making chicken piccata using Alton Brown's Everyday Cook cookbook (one of the books I got Jameson for his birthday.) Hesitant because despite being a fairly straightforward recipe, the actual cooking instructions were very precise and a little intimidating. But it turned out all right :)

I dredged each chicken thigh in flour and pounded them flat, then flash-fried them with oil and butter. Then the mushrooms and capers went into the pan for a bit. Then the chicken came back into the pan with some white wine and broth, simmered low for about 10 minutes. I think it turned out very flavorful, although personally I like when my chicken piccata has a little crisp to it and simmering it detracted from that. Still though! Yum!




After that it was finally time to chill out for a bit. I watched some random cartoons online, ran the dishwasher, and packed my lunch for tomorrow.

This week Jameson will be busy most nights with this Disney event, so I'll probably be chilling and doing chores at night.
You know, sometimes I am still sad that I'm not getting to "be a musician". But I also have to admit that having some time to figure out my next steps while learning to be a little more domestic is actually really nice. I'm enjoying it now, because come 2020 there will be a lot of change in store.

Getting Old Sucks

The first week of November.

Nothing to report.

Jameson was feeling under the weather this week. There seems to be not a whole lot I can do for him, so I just try to be here and be helpful around the house. He has a medical condition that every once in a while rears its head. When that happens I want to be here and be as supportive as I can.

On a positive note, one thing we are looking forward to is going to see Sara Bareilles at the end of the month. She is so awesome.
We've also got tickets for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in December.
I love going to concerts with Jameson, so I'm really looking forward to both of these!

I recently found out that I've got some serious Paid Time Off (PTO) accrued at work, almost a week's worth!
But the question is what to do with it. It needs to be used up before the end of the year as it can't be paid out and won't roll over.
Jameson's schedule looks pretty inflexible, so I'm not sure we'd be able to plan a trip over the holidays.
The only thing I've found to do with it so far is maybe take December 8th off. It's a Sunday and there's the Orlando Farmers Market plus the Winter Park Christkindl! It would be a nice day for me to follow the little hippie voice my mother installed in me as a child. She always loved farmers markets and thrift stores and handmade crafts. While on tour I felt I had a serious knack for finding these things in just about any city. I called it my "hippie sense".

Anyway, this week went by as weeks do. Jameson has some gigs coming up this month and has started rehearsing for them now.
I am just kind of holding down the fort, trying to enjoy the last of 2019 because in 2020 there are a lot of changes in store for me.

Let's skip right to my days off.
On Thursday Jameson had a morning rehearsal, so I had a quiet breakfast before going to the gym.
After coming home and getting cleaned up I hit the grocery for some ingredients to make tuna melts today and breakfast Friday. I ate lunch and spent several hours doing household chores.

The tuna melt recipe was from Dude Diet again, it's a really good recipe book so you're going to see a lot of that here.
Mayo was replaced by avocado, and chopped turkey bacon was included for texture and flavor.
I mixed those plus dijon mustard, chopped sweet pickles, shallots, lemon juice, and spices in a bowl with the tuna, then spooned it onto six whole wheat English muffin halves. I topped each melt with a slice of tomato and some grated cheddar. Into the broiler for about 10 minutes (the recipe said 3 but I like my cheese a little browned on top) and they were done! It's not the most beautiful meal but it was very tasty.



Thursday evening was spent just taking it easy, Jameson finishing up God of War and me finishing up Eye of the World.

On Friday we made the pancakes!
These are oat-based, so they're more dense and textured than the fluffy buttermilk pancakes you'd get at a restaurant.
Another Dude Diet recipe, so again the whole point is to provide a healthy alternative to foods we crave.
The batter was made from ground oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, almond milk, an egg, some maple syrup, and some lemon zest. Whisked it together and got it going on the stove.




We had them topped with the blueberry preserves we bought from Lake Catherine Blueberry farm, as well as fresh blueberries and whipped cream. They were pretty dang good!


I made some extra and am looking forward to having them as leftovers.

After that I cleaned up and did some more chores, scrubbing the shower and swiffering the tile portions of the floor. I also went to the gym for a bit.
Because Jameson is not already in enough pain today his body decided to throw out his back, so he spent the day trying to lie still and having online meetings with some of his students. After the gym I joined him, watching tv and reading my book. Resting is great and I love it.

At night Jameson had a gig. I was worried about him moving his gear with his back and all, but he felt he should still go. Blargh. I packed my lunch and enjoyed a little solo tv time with a glass of wine.

Tomorrow is Saturday and the start of another work week for me.
I'm glad to start it off with a clean house and a full fridge.