"Internal Capitalism". Google It.

My workplace is still the same, hanging in limbo.
We can now use our computers, but only to monitor captionists and not much else. No email, no internet, no payroll. We all wonder how long this can go on. How much work we'll have to catch up on when we get back to "normal". Some people want a job where they don't have to do anything. I find it stressful. The days drag, and I'm constantly wondering whether I need to worry about how things will turn out.

Nothing to be done about it now.

Jameson's birthday went pretty well. Considering that his gifts didn't show up and the ice cream cake I custom-ordered for him was the wrong flavor, I guess at least we had cake. At least we had a tracking number.

His gift was an Indow. They're a special kind of window insert that blocks sound. We have one in the bedroom to help block noise from the vacationers partying in the rental house next door. Jameson's studio is on that same side of the house, so I thought it would be a nice surprise to get him an Indow for his studio. His parents went in on it with me too.

Although it ended up showing up late, I have to say that the crew at Indow managed to singlehandedly salvage the birthday celebration.
Check out this adorable video they sent!

What company does something thoughtful like this?? We were amazed and humbled. Thank you Indow, for making a great product and for being empathetic human beings in a sea of poor work ethic and entitlement.

Anyway, I thought it was a nice birthday. I wish we could have had his friends over, or gone out to eat. But it is what it is. Yes, I'm disappointed that so many aspects didn't go the way *I* wanted them to. But we still got to celebrate Jameson, and in the end that's what matters.

When the cookies did arrive a few days later, they were beautiful and incredibly delicious!
They did get a little smeared during the journey, but you can still see how exceptionally detailed they are. I was especially amazed by the strings on each guitar, and the little "Bethlehem star" too. They were very fresh and tasted like they had just been made yesterday! If you look carefully at the guitars you can see that they were made using a unicorn cookie cutter. Lol! Made by @crafts_by_tyler on Instagram if you're interested in ordering.

I was relieved when the work week was over. It feels like there's so much going on and I'm barely hanging on. Everything going wrong for Jameson's birthday, and then this weird purgatory at work, and now there is this covid-related Thanksgiving awkwardness looming on the horizon. Everyone is tiptoeing around, trying to be considerate of people who wear masks or who don't or who is comfortable with what. Like a lot of people this year, we're not going anywhere. With cases climbing back up it's just too risky. Plus a lot of companies are making their employees quarantine if they go somewhere out of state. I can't afford that and wouldn't want anyone else to have to consider it either. Easier to just ride out 2020 the best we can, and have a zoom chat on the holidays.

My parents were going to visit my sister in California, but it seems like peoples' politics and "values" are getting in the way of their desire to spend time with each other. My parents live in a very rural, very red part of Pennsylvania. Neither of them seem to take covid that seriously on a personal-threat level. Which, fine, in your own house do what you want. But in my opinion, when your pregnant daughter asks you to get a rapid test and/or wear a mask in the weeks leading up to your visit to her family including her 1.5 year old child, it seems to me that if you have even the smallest love for your family, you will wear the stupid mask and take a few small precautions. But from what I've heard through the family grapevine this is somehow a contentious issue.

I'm biting back so much on this right now that I may bite through my tongue before we even hit turkey day. For context, my pregnant sister is a grade school teacher who has seen the effects of covid on her students and their parents. My younger sister is an OR nurse in PA, and she has literally spent hours putting on PPE in order to treat covid patients. She has even intubated a few patients who could not breathe. And I work for a company that captions live phonecalls for the hearing impaired, many of whom are elderly. So while I can't disclose what I hear, you can probably imagine a lot of funeral arrangements, emotionally crushing final zoom conversations with loved ones dying of covid, and people calling each other to find out who has died of covid this week.

What I'm trying to say is, my sisters and I know firsthand that covid is not a f*cking joke. It's not a conspiracy by anyone. It's a reak f*cking disease that is really f*cking killing people. And if you are so selfish, and so ignorant, that you can't understand this by now, you deserve whatever comes to you as a result.

All of that said, I still love my family. Even the parts of it that are, uh, less than ideal. So I'll try to zoom chat with them on Thanksgiving, and we'll see how it goes. But if things start getting nasty, I'm out. I'm so over all of the uncalled-for political posturing this year. There's enough drama already without having to rip our family apart over whether or not you wear a piece of t-shirt on your face for a few days (just wear it, good God).

Anyway, it's only Jameson and I here for Thanksgiving, but I'd still like to make it special.
My plan is to make a traditional American Thanksgiving meal, just sized down for two people.
Since this is my first attempt I'm not doing anything too crazy (no whole birds for example) but I will be making some things I've never made before. Here's the menu so far:

  • Cocktail shrimp (appetizer while we wait for the main course. Idk about you guys but on Thanksgiving I only eat one giant meal in the middle of the day!)

  • Turkey breasts (one for each of us) OR one breast and one leg, slow-cooked in a crock pot with apple sage french bread stuffing

  • Chef John's perfect mashed potatoes (Allrecipes)

  • Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and pecans

  • Green bean casserole

  • Candied carrots

  • Cranberry sauce (Jameson LOVES jellied cranberry)

  • Crescent rolls (from a can)

  • Paula Deen's pumpkin pie

  • Apple bourbon turnovers

  • Vanilla ice cream and homemade whipped cream

...I think that's it. With only two of us I'm going to be cutting a lot of these recipes in half or even in quarters. But it's fun to have some leftovers! I'm excited to see how everything turns out. Making all of these things in one day is definitely going to be a challenge!

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What a Week

What a week.

My workplace encountered some sort of catastrophic system failure. I'm not sure of the details, but it seems like possibly a cyberattack. Whatever caused it, our entire system has been down all week. I can't check email, monitor captionists, process timeclock punches, or do basically any aspect of my work that involves a computer. Heck, we're not even allowed to turn the computers ON.

The good news is that since our captioning stations aren't running on the same system, they are still operational. So captionists can still work. But we supervisors have no way to monitor them or help them if they need to be taken off a call. The only thing we can do is physically walk down the aisles at the call center every 5-10 minutes to see if anyone needs help.

So I've been getting a lot more cardio at work, which is nice. But what would be nicer is being able to do my job :(
It's really nerve-wracking, at a time when we are all already stressed out.
My biggest concern is how long it will take to get things back up and running. It's already been a week and we've had no indication that we'll be able to resume operations yet. I don't know how severe the problem is or whether it could affect our employment. It's just...stressful.

Again, trying to focus on the positives, we are at least getting paid this week although it'll be based on whatever we were paid last week so there are bound to be lots of inaccuracies. And since there's very little we can do at work I've had time to caption more, and to work on my stenography between calls, which is nice.

Anyway. I'm trying not to freak out, there's been no indication that this will affect anyone's jobs, but there's also been no indication that the problem is even close to being fixed. Good vibes, good thoughts, deep breaths.

As it happens, I took an extra day off this week for Jameson's birthday. I couldn't get his actual birthday off but did get the day before. Now that work is crazy I'm really grateful for the extra day.
But I'm also really stressed because none of the plans I made for Jameson's birthday are working out. I ordered his present more than a month in advance, knowing it was a custom item that might take a while to make, and we are three days away and I still haven't gotten a shipping notice. It's not going to be here on time. So I've had to scramble to make a card describing what it will be. Which I find really embarrassing.

I also had some custom desserts made for him by a friend who makes these beautiful cookies. Neither of us realized that the planned ship date, 11/11, was a federal holiday until it was too late. So those will likely be late as well.

Then I tried to order him a cake, just a small premade one, but with a few custom elements that I thought would be nice. And thus far I've had no order confirmation or indication that my cusomizations were done. I'm supposed to pick it up on Friday...I guess all I can do is hope it will be there.

If nothing else, I'm cooking him dinner on his birthday. But I always cook dinner on my days off, it's not special.

I'm just really disappointed and frustrated right now. With the cookies it's not really anyone's fault, just unfortunate timing I guess. But with the gift and the cake, I feel like why did I bother struggling to take care of them in advance? I may as well have just half-assed this whole thing and there would be no difference in the result. At this point there's nothing I can do but wait for things to show up.

Anyway, all of this has weighed on me all week. His birthday is Saturday and I've been dreading it...some birthday, with no gifts to open and "maybe" a cake! I just wanted to do something nice for the person I care about, guess that's far too much to ask in 2020. It's all I can do right now not to scream or cry. This may be the thing that finally cracks me for 2020.

Whatever, I guess I'm being a spoiled brat. Just truly thought it was a small ask.

On Wednesday I had a lot to do, starting with making blueberry scones in the air fryer. Jameson had shown interest in trying this so I figured it was a good week to give it a shot. He's got depression, you see, so part of the reason you see me making caramel from scratch and cooking elaborate meals and cleaning and doing chores and trying to grow fresh food and spending half my damn day in front of a stove is so that I can even slightly cheer him up, maybe get one small smile or one split second of eye contact. It's why it was so important to me to give him something special on his birthday. He's going to be one step closer to 40, and his depression has only gotten worse with covid and all of his Disney friends losing their jobs and two of his friends dying last week. I thought the least, the VERY LEAST I could do was make his birthday special.

Ok ok, you don't want to hear it, sorry. Scones. I made mini blueberry scones with orange zest. They were good, but they were not actually scones. They had a weird light fluffy texture...scones are supposed to be pretty dense and dry. The recipe had a lot of baking powder and baking soda in it, I think if I make these again I'll halve those ingredients. No reason for them to be so fluffy! Still, they did taste good and I'm glad I tried making them.

After that I had a few minutes to eat breakfast before driving 30 minutes to Whole Paycheck to pick up ingredients for dinner Thursday and wings for dinner Wednesday. Then I had to hit FedEx to pick up the slapdash card I'd made for Jameson's not-going-to-show-up gift. Then I drove another 20 minutes to Total Wine to find some of his favorite beers (he doesn't drink often and Total Wine is one of few places where you can buy single beers). Of course they didn't have what I needed--of course! Because this is what's going to happen when I put in an effort to make someone's day special, every single thing has to go wrong!--so I picked out two beers that I at least know he will drink. Then I drove aaaaaall the way to the nearest Publix for a six pack of Yuengling Hershey Porter because he mentioned wanting to try it but it's limited edition and selling out fast. I did at least manage to get that.

I made it home just in time to unload the groceries before tropical storm Eta dumped another zillion gallons of rain (it's been raining all week). It took me two hours to do all of this, leaving me with very little time for anything else but to start prepping for dinner. I made wings in the air fryer and ordered us a cheeseburger pizza from Domino's, another food Jameson was interested in trying. It was actually pretty good, by "good" I definitely don't mean healthy, but it did taste a lot like a cheeseburger!

After dinner I started writing a letter to my grandparents, but after seeing the time I had to stop halfway through to practice steno before bed. For a day off it felt like all I did was run around frantically. Not very relaxing, not helping my blood pressure any.

Thursday, kind of more of the same. I didn't have to go anywhere but I started my day with some homework and answering some questions for another steno student. When that was done I prepped some things for dinner while doing laundry. While Jameson was out getting groceries and running a few errands I assembled his birthday card and pulled weeds around the front and sides of the house. Back inside I dusted and cleaned up and ate lunch. Jameson came back with his groceries and some weights so he can work out at home. We both miss our gym memberships and while our weight hasn't fluxuated that much, personally I know my muscle mass is garbage right now. I'll probably pick up some weights too.

I made us some shrimp po' boys and fried green tomatoes for dinner. I've made the po' boys before, but haven't gotten it quite right. The first time I followed the recipe to a tee and was disappointed to end up with greasy, flavorless shrimp and baguettes that were so hard all the filling squashed out. The second time the rolls were too soft and got soggy inside, and the shrimp were overcooked. This time, instead of doing the "butter sauce" that the recipe calls for, I cooked the shrimp on the stove in some of the marinade and poured the marinade reduction over the shrimp after they were done. I got rolls that were crusty-but-not-hard and toasted them briefly in the oven. And I made the remoulade well in advance so the flavors would have time to permeate the mayo. The results were pretty excellent.

The green tomatoes were dipped in flour and spices, buttermilk and eggs, and panko and cornmeal, then air fried. They were awesome.

After dinner we tried to do some exercises...Jameson subscribed to a home workout program and we wanted to try it out. Um...after dinner is not a good time to work out :p For whatever reason this program started with burpees. I thought Jameson was gonna barf. He switched to yoga for a bit, then we quit early. I'm ashamed at being out of shape but also know it could be a lot worse. If I don't have to buy new clothes, I'm not doing all that bad.

Friday, it felt really weird to be home. But I'm so, so grateful for the extra sleep and the shorter work week. Although I've been stressed, I really am glad to have extra time to get things done this week.

My garden is doing well for the most part although the bugs are ravaging all of my plants much more than they did in the spring. I picked five armyworms off my tomatoes Friday morning. I picked my largest jalapeno, it's about four inches long! Not sure what to do with it but right now I'm thinking pico de gallo. The other jalapenos are growing in twos and threes, so I'll use them for larger projects like jalapeno cornbread, or I'll just pickle them. I've also started to get bunches of cherry tomatoes and three large tomatoes.

I was excited to see a zebra longwing butterfly in my pollinator garden this week! These are very spazzy butterflies and I've never had much luck getting footage of them.


After she left I was inspecting my passion vine when I noticed these tiny little eggs. She laid eggs! I didn't know that the passion vine was a host plant for both the gulf fritillary AND the zebra longwing...very cool! I will try to look out for her eggs as best I can.

The cranberry hibiscus has been blooming all week, and I've been cutting off the spent blossoms. Supposedly you can make a nice tea out of the flower petals (you can use the whole bud but it has some thorny parts and I'd rather not risk it) so I've been washing the buds, removing the stamens and calyxes, and laying the petals on paper towels on the counter to dry. When they've dried like that for 24 hours I put them on a sheet pan and cook them on low heat in the oven for 5-10 minutes to make them crispy. Since I'm paranoid about food safety I've been occasionally eating a petal here and there, dried or fresh, because I'm thinking of making teabags for gifts and don't want to poison anyone with mold or something! So far so good. When the hibiscus has stopped blooming I'll brew myself a cup and see how it tastes and decide what to do from there.

After that I once again spent most of my day in the kitchen, meal prepping for the week and prepping the enchiladas for Jameson's birthday dinner and prepping the filling for stuffed shells and packing my lunch for work. When that was done I had to clean up, that took forever. Jameson got some new games for himself for his birthday and spent some time enjoying those, and also doing a workout with his new set of weights. It looked fun, maybe I can join him next time.

In the afternoon I ran errands, picking up a few things at Target and picking up Jameson's ice cream cake. It looked fine, I shouldn't have worried, but not getting some sort of confirmation always freaks me out.

Back home I had a little time to chill before it was time to start making dinner. I actually made two dinners at once: the stuffed shells for tonight, and the enchiladas for tomorrow. While the shells cooked in the oven I made the enchilada filling and stuffed the tortillas, leaving the sauce off until tomorrow. This way when I get home from work they can go right in the oven, and all I'll have to do is prepare the garnishes (cut an avocado and some cilantro basically). The stuffed shells turned out awesome, creamy and delicious. I've made these before and this time they were much better (last time I overdid the nutmeg).

After dinner I got a huge surprise. A few days ago I had emailed the company that made Jameson's custom gift, begging for a tracking number, explaining that none of his gifts were going to show up on time and it would really help to at least be able to tell him when he could expect his gift. I felt bad to demand attention when it's clear that shipping was delayed due to covid-related reasons, but having had my plans for Jameson's birthday ruined from every direction I was feeling extremely frustrated and upset. I didn't want to hand him an empty card and a cheap cake. I had tried so hard to make his birthday more special than that, and nothing worked out. At the very least, a tracking number would be "something".

The company's response was completely unexpected. They sent a video that they made themselves, in which all of the employees wish Jameson a happy birthday! And they're sending an edible arrangement that will arrive ON his birthday!! This was just...I was shocked speechless. My first thought was that I must have made them feel REALLY bad! I didn't mean to do that, it's just truly the situation I was in where a tracking number was all I'd have to give him. I guess that upset someone over there just as much as it upset me. And while I feel guilty for making someone else feel that, their response has truly restored some of my faith in humanity.

Jameson and I both have gotten used to paying for a service, or scheduling a meeting, or sending an email, and having people back out or ghost or simply never respond. We have learned to grin and bear it when paying for expedited shipping, because we know that 90% of the time we're just throwing money away and the thing is still going to get here late. We know that when we write letters to our loved ones, or call them to see how they're doing, the majority of the time they're not going to respond. We know that scheduling an appointment or meeting means wasting that portion of the day waiting for the other party to never show up. So when I wrote to this company, although I was upset and tried to express how important Jameson's birthday was to me, and how much it would mean to get a tracking number for his late gift, I never actually expected a response. For them to not only respond, but to take time out of their day to basically singlehandedly make Jameson's birthday special, is something I cannot repay and will never forget.

I will at minimum send a thank you card. Maybe I can arrange for some cookies to be dropped off too, idk. I've got to repay them somehow.

So, that was my week. It's been a wild one.
Tomorrow is Jameson's birthday, and thanks to this company, I know there will be some truly special elements to the day. And now it's something I can look forward to. Extremely thankful.

Loads of Food Pics

How's everyone doing with this election BS?
Don't want to talk about it? Very cool.

I'm going to just start with how my week went.

This was my all-onsite work week. It's always a bummer because I lose sleep and daylight hours to the commute, but one week out of every month still isn't so bad. I did my best not to fall asleep or lose my mind.

My training sessions have been going well. I think soon most people will have been trained, so my groups will get smaller and smaller.
In stenography/court reporting, I've started speedbuilding. Supposedly I should see an improvement in speed of 20wpm every eight weeks or so. It's hard to imagine but I've made it this far!

On Halloween night I had planned to make caramel apples and roasted pumpkin seeds, but there just wasn't enough time.
Carving our pumpkins took over an hour, plus the cleanup, so by the time I got the seeds cleaned and boiled it was almost 10pm. I laid them out to dry and put our pumpkins outside for others to enjoy :) This year we have a little bone-colored Jack Skellington, A Jason mask (Jameson's design), and my little toothy guy with Pokemon-like eyeballs.

They stood guard over our socially-distanced pre-assembled candy bags. We put everything in front of the Ring so we could see any trick-or-treaters and give compliments on costumes.

Sadly we didn't get any trick-or-treaters this year, but that wasn't surprising. We live in a vacation rental neighborhood, so last year we didn't get any either. More candy for us! How sad! :p

We did get some visitors though! Some of Jameson's friends came by to say hello and steal some of our goods!
They brought their dog so imo they can have as much candy as they want!

We stood in the doorway and chatted for a bit. Socializing really feels like a special event now.
It was cool of them to drop by, made our Halloween!

We watched M. Night Shyamalan's "Devil", which was pretty good! Then we went to bed. Happy Halloween to us.

After work the next day the seeds were nice and dry, so I seasoned them with butter, garlic salt, and pepper and roasted them in the air fryer. They turned out excellent.

A while ago Jameson ordered us some "magic puzzles", and they finally arrived!
This was a kickstarter so I'm not sure if they're available in stores yet, but they will be at some point.
We got three puzzles, 1000 pieces each. Each puzzle has distinct artwork and they all look beautiful.

I won't be posting many pics of our progress because I don't want to spoil the "magic", whatever that will be, for anyone. But I can tell you that putting these together is an intriguing and fun experience. These are definitely not your standard puzzles. Each piece has beautiful details and miniature art within art. The pieces range drastically in shape and size too. Can't wait to see how the finished piece turns out!

It seemed like a long week, but I made it to Tuesday and the start of my work-from-home shifts again. Yay! I've felt very tired again this week, maybe from physical inactivity, or from the extroverted energy required to put on presentations. Or maybe because Jameson has been really down lately. His friends lost their jobs last week, and this week two of his friends passed away. Plus this election. And then he thought he had a good gig to look forward to in coming months, but it's turning out to be a fail because some members of the band are unprofessional and disorganized. As a musician, I can't even begin to describe how frustrating it is when a paying gig is ruined due to the people in your band acting like children. Jameson is already struggling with so much, and this experience just makes him not want to be involved in music any more. I hate to say it but I can relate. Part of the reason I stopped being a musician is because I couldn't stand how other musicians behaved...either jaded, or immature, or unprofessional, or all three. It's not sustainable, and now with the whole live music industry grinding to a very serious halt you would think that musicians would buckle down and do their best on every gig. Sadly, I guess not.

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End of October already!


People keep saying, "I can't wait for this year to be over!" as if the social construct of "this year" matters at in the scheme of all things coronavirus. We're still screwed on January 1st 2021.

Although, I wonder if the election will change anything. Probably not. There are still too many of a certain generation around to continue sucking the life out of their children.

Aaaaaanyway. I had a busy week at work. I'm one of the people training captionists in our new software, so every day this week I had a presentation/training session to give. I was nervous for the first one, but actually they all went really well. My biggest concern wasn't public speaking, but rather my ability to operate the equipment needed for the presentations and training sessions. I'd hate to have a session delayed just because I can't get some speakers to work, or something.

Fortunately it all went well, just a few little hiccups that didn't really affect everyone's ability to complete training. I'm surprised that so far, no one in my training groups has asked for additional training time. All of them seem comfortable enough to use the software in a live setting. That makes me feel good, like I'm conveying the information in a digestible manner. And I kind of enjoy giving the presentation, answering questions, and helping people. It's kind of nice.

As a little treat for myself after my first successful training session, I decided to visit a local plant nursery specializing in succulents and carnivorous plants. I was looking for a pitcher plant for the house, to help catch some of the gnats and fruit flies that are following us inside this time of year. The owner didn't have any trumpet pitchers, which is what I was looking for, but she did have flytraps and the hanging-type of pitchers. I didn't buy anything but she promised to have some trumpet pitchers by Friday so I will check back in to see. She was very nice and all her plants looked wonderfully healthy :)

Although that trip didn't work out, I had already secretly ordered myself some more plants! No, I don't have a plant problem! Why would you say that???

The neat thing about carnivorous plants is that if you're buying them as rhizomes/seedlings, they're usually pretty cheap. These plants are notoriously tempermental and difficult to keep alive, which is part of why buying a large one can be very expensive (some pitcher plants go for THOUSANDS of dollars!).

It was easy for me to find a flytrap and a sundew in Florida. Sundews grow here naturally so they're fairly easy to come across, and flytraps can be found in almost any hardware store. I got mine from a local farmstead. The other two plants I ordered are from Ohio of all places! One was just a regular trumpet pitcher, which like I said I want because they do well indoors. But these are SUPER tiny, I'm talking the size of a quarter, so it will be a good long while before they're catching anything. For that reason they can stay outside in a pot.

The other plant is one I've been pining after ever since I saw it online. It's called a butterwort, and actually these grow natively in Florida as well. There are many kinds of butterwort, but I was especially captivated by the Mexican butterworts and their cultivars. Florida-native butterworts are green with long, floppy leaves. The Mexican butterworts look very similar to a succulent, growing in tight rosettes and having a beautiful white-and-pink coloring. Not only that, they are carnivorous plants after all, and at certain times of year they develop pupillae similar to a sundew.
Here is a sample picture from the interwebs:

I just had to have one. They're not expensive, and they're beautiful. You know? Why not. Here is the one that arrived in the mail. It's a "pinguicula Florian". It's super tiny, but absolutely beautiful. It will be a while before it develops digestive fluid or anything but for now I'm just happy it looks healthy.

So now I have all four carnivorous plants together. I really hope I can keep them alive through the winter...it's going to be a challenge. Wish me luck!

I was relieved when Tuesday finally arrived. I had a nice big glass of wine and Jameson and I watched the last episode of Bly Manor together. It was...intense. Still digesting that. If you haven't seen Haunting of Hill House or Haunting of Bly Manor, I highly recommend both.

On Wednesday I was feeling a little stressed, so tried to distract myself with chores and cooking. As usual.
I wiped down all the counters and cabinet doors in the kitchen. After Jameson got up I vacuumed, then went out to the garden to see how things are growing. It's still hot here so some of my less heat-resistant plants look pretty terrible. Most of the carrots are small and wilted (again), but one of them looks ok. I hope it makes it.

The jalapeno has actually produced a pretty big pepper! And there are lots more flowers, so I'm hoping we'll get a good crop from it.

The tomatoes are all sprawling and gangly thanks to the heat, with very little fruit. But at least they DO have some fruit. The cherry cutting has about eight tomatoes, while the "best boy" has only one but it looks to be growing well.

The cranberry hibiscus is now taller than me (when I planted it just a few months ago it was like a foot tall) and covered in buds. I'm excited to see it bloom!

Too soon it was time for lunch. I ate quickly, then got to work on dinner because there was a lot of prep work involved.
First I made green aji verde sauce (mayo, greek yogurt, cilantro, jalapeno, parmesan cheese, lime juice, garlic). The jalapeno I got from the store was a dud, so I ended up adding sriracha as well.

Next I cooked some chicken breasts for the filling, then shredded it with a fork.
When that was done I carmelized some onions and garlic on the stove, added the chicken and some spices and chicken broth, and let that simmer for about 30 minutes.

By the time that was done it was nearly 3pm. Jameson put on Pee-Wee's Big Adventure for us to watch, brought back a lot of nostalgia as I used to watch Pee-Wee's Playhouse as a kid.

Around dinnertime I began filling the empanadas. I rolled out some premade pie crusts and cut circles in them with a large cup, then dropped a few tablespoons of filling in each circle and crimped it closed with a fork. I poked air holes in the top, then brushed each empanada with a little egg and milk.

They came out delicious, although way too delicate because of the pastry crust. Next time I'll use pizza dough, it'll probably be a lot sturdier. Still it was a good meal!

I also made a few "pumpkin pie" empanadas! Canned pumpkin is so super cheap, and all you have to do is add everyday spices and a bit of sugar to make an awesome dessert. I topped mine with a little vanilla ice cream and homemade whipped cream. Yum!

After dinner I had class. I wasn't really in the mood but I did get to work with some new steno software so that was fun at least.

Thursday, it was very windy outside. After breakfast I meal prepped for the week and watched some tutorials on my steno software. Jameson had a busy day of starting a new term, answering student questions, grading, and course design, so I tried to leave him alone. We had planned to go get carving pumpkins today, but since he was so busy I just got them myself (I used to get them for us on the circus too). It was surprisingly hard to find pumpkins just a few days before Halloween, but I guess Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year. At Lowe's there were only a few sad pumpkins left, and they didn't look very good, so I tried Walmart and no luck. Finally I found some at Publix, but they were very big. I guess we'll just have a lot of seeds this year! I'll post pics of them when we start carving Friday or Saturday :)

Back home I decided to roast the kabocha squash I'd gotten myself earlier in the week. If you've never had kabocha squash (also called Japanese pumpkin), you should definitely give it a try! I had it for the first time while working on the cruise ship and was hooked. It roasts up similarly to sweet potato fries, but it's got a creamier, sweeter, and drier texture. Not to mention it's very nutritious, and you can eat the skin! You can go sweet or savory with it, I prefer savory so decorated mine with garlic salt, pepper, and a little cardamom. 8 minutes in the air fryer and I had perfect crispy delicious kabocha fries.

I also decided to make some more granola. My goal in making granola every month is to cut down on the amount of processed cereal and other snacks that I would normally buy. Granola is a food I could eat forever, I never seem to get tired of it. And when it's made at home it's cheaper and healthier than most cereals and chips/crackers. There you have it.

This time I made cherry almond dark chocolate granola! I had some leftover almond slivers from an Asian dish I'd made a while ago, and some leftover pepitas too. The dried cherries were a bit expensive but they're SO delicious, I wanted to splurge on them just this once. I used those plus all the usual ingredients from the original recipe: oats, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The last time I made granola it didn't clump, so this time I took extra steps to hopefully get the clumping effect I was looking for. I added a tablespoon of egg whites (if you're doing a whole recipe use 1 egg white, I was halving it) which is supposed to act as a binder. I was also careful to mix all the wet ingredients together before adding them to the dry. I kept a close eye on the granola during cooking and took care not to leave it in too long. When the granola was done cooking I left it on the counter for an hour and a half/until it was completely cooled.

And it STILL didn't clump. DAMMIT!

I don't know what on earth I'm doing wrong. All I can think to do is add more egg whites next time, or just give up on forcing clumps to happen entirely.

As I was getting ready for bed, an idea struck. I went back to the stove and dumped the granola into a saucepan, and put it on low heat. The dark chocolate chips began to melt...and coat the granola. I spread it on a sheet pan and waited for it to cool and harden.
After about an hour it STILL wasn't hardening. In a panic, I threw it in the fridge.

About 30 minutes later...we've got clumps people!

This doesn't fix my overall issue with getting clumping, but it at least helps for this batch. I suspect I'll need to use a different sweetener that will have a stronger binding ability, like maybe brown sugar. We'll see.

I worked on steno for about an hour while Jameson taught a class, then watched him play some spooky-themed games: Carrion and Man of Medan. Tomorrow we'll carve pumpkins, and hopefully I'll have enough time to roast some of the seeds. I want to make caramel apples too but really doubt I'll have time for both activities.

That's my week. Hope you all have a nice end of October and a Happy Halloween!

The Days Fly By

Friday, I worked from home.

Saturday, I worked onsite. I had my first "new software" training session and I was nervous about it, but it went well. I'm really glad I took the time to find and test all the equipment I'd need (it was all just regular computers and monitors and such but I needed to access several different machines, so it was good to know what was where in advance).

I felt like everything went very smoothly, and no one felt they needed additional training time after I was finished. Great!

Next week I definitely have another session and possibly two depending on scheduling. They're back to back...I may lose my voice haha.

Although I was nervous I found I was enjoying giving the presentation. Hopefully future sessions will also go well!

On the way home I picked up candy corn gummies for Jameson and I. If you've never had candy corn gummies, they taste shockingly good. You should try 'em.

Sunday was my random mid-month day off. I woke up nice and late at 10am. Trying to catch up on needed sleep I guess.
I checked on my plants and found that one of the peppers had fallen off, but the other is twice as big. Well...at least we'll have one jalapeno? Maybe we can split it...

After a chill breakfast I repotted one of my strawberry plants into a hanging basket, they seem to like dangling.
After some consideration I also decided to repot my carnivorous plants. They are very small now, but the thing is their roots grow straight down so they need a deep pot. Also the sundew started producing a flower, and I'd like it to have room for that and for any seeds that may fall. And both plants do need to acclimate to the outdoors, staying inside in the air conditioning isn't feasable for them unless I get a terrarium which I'm unwilling to do right now. For all these reasons they're in a nice blue pot and sleeping outside tonight. Hopefully the change in climate won't shock them too badly.

Do you know, I've never seen the movie BeetleJuice? Jameson was offended by this and insisted that we watch it!
I can't believe that movie was rated PG! Holy hell! The 80s were a wild and wonderful time.

The rest of my day was very chill, which honestly I probably needed. It seems like whether I realize it or not, my body or mind or both are tired and are trying to tell me so. Even on days off I have trouble sitting still...I always feel like I HAVE to be cleaning, or cooking, or doing something productive. I feel guilty if I'm not doing things at all times. Sometimes, though, we really do need to just sit still.

Monday I went in to work, and it was fine. I tried to prepare as much as possible for the training sessions next Saturday since this was my last day on-site for the next four days.

Jameson had a photoshoot for the Christmas single he and his band are putting together. He got a haircut and put on a suit, WOO WOOOO!! Heehee. He's so handsome ;)

He got out of the session late so I did some grocery shopping on my way home from work, picking up ingredients for this weekend's dinner. I ate a light dinner because for dessert I wanted to have a Quarantine Dessert Company cookie with some ice cream :p We watched Food Network and chilled.

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You Know the Drill

Another week down.
It got hot again, dangit.

My pepper plant keeps dropping flowers, I assume due to the heat. But this week two are hanging on after the petals fell off. Here's hoping there are some jalapenos in the works.

Most of my week was straightforward. There are some pretty big changes happening at work, like big enough to probably change our job descriptions after a few months. I'm going to be helping to train people in those changes, and frankly I'm a little nervous about it. So I went around on Monday and visited the training rooms in the office, and made sure I knew how to access all of the equipment I'd be using. Doing this got me some weird looks from my coworkers, which honestly kind of perturbed me a bit. I mean, if you were giving a presentation on something fairly new in a room you'd only been in once and using equipment and files you'd never touched before, wouldn't you want to at least give everything a once-over beforehand?

All I did was go into the training rooms, ensure that I knew where the programs were that I would need to access, and login to each computer (when logging in to a new computer at work it can take a while for your profile to be uploaded so doing it in advance saves like 3 minutes). Then I went back to the call floor stations and ran through some demo scripts that I'll be using for the presentations. That's it you guys! Nothing weird! Sheesh. Doesn't anyone prepare for stuff in advance any more?

That was my big excitement for the week, the rest was normal. I am sneakily preparing some of my boyfriend's gifts as his birthday is coming up. No details here because I'm not sure if he still reads this ;)

On Tuesday after I finished work we moved all the deck furniture off the pool patio, because on Wednesday someone is coming to power wash it for us. I moved all of my plants to the side of the house, but left the large planter because we decided it's too difficult to move.

After that we ordered a pizza and I made wings in the air fryer. Love those air fryer wings! Zero oil required, I just toss them lightly in the sauce, cook for 20 minutes, then coat in the sauce and cook for another 5. They come out perfect every time, crispy skins just the way we like 'em! We also enjoyed some beer from a local Tampa brewing company. One of Jameson's friends introduced us to this beer last Fall, so we've been looking forward to it's arrival. I was finally able to find some last week. I don't drink beer often at all but this beer is worth it: it tastes like coffee and chocolate and pumpkin spices and it's just fabulous. Cheers!

We watched an episode of Haunting of Bly Manor before Jameson had a Call of Duty hang with his friends. Although it's not cooling off here in Florida yet, watching scary movies and shows puts us in the mood for the season :)

On Wednesday the deck guy came around 10am and got to work. It took several hours because he had to wait for the power wash to dry and then the layers of sealant. In between layers I drove to the grocery for dinner ingredients, and mostly just hung around the house for the day. Jameson also didn't have much to do so he played Doom and did some work in his studio.

When the deck was finally done it looked awesome, super clean. I forgot to take a "before" picture, bummer!

Doing this is very expensive, like to the point where I question affordability. But for now I think it's worth gritting my teeth and getting it done. It keeps weeds from coming up between the bricks, and prevents ants from making nests in there too. Gets rid of a lot of mildew and things that build up over the course of the year. Florida humidity breeds tons of nasty stuff no matter what we do to prevent it.

Anyway, with that done I got started on dinner. Last week I discovered that Cooking Comically recipes are now available on WebToons, and there are many recipes featured there that are not in the cookbook. I found one for salmon in a lemon honey butter garlic glaze and decided to try it out. The recipe calls for baked salmon but years ago, after my first bite of sous vide salmon, I swore I'd never bake salmon again. So I sous vide the salmon with some herbs and the lemon/honey/garlic, then when it was done I seared it hard and coated it in the remaining glaze. For a side I made a mushroom, pea and mint farro recipe from The Mediterranian Dish, we've paired it with salmon before and the earthy flavors of the farro and mushroom match nicely to the flaky citrus-coated fish. It was pretty delicious if I do say so.

Later on we watched more Bly Manor, then Jameson played Call of Duty with his friends while I had a fight with my computer (the audio jack is dying).

Thursday I woke up way later than usual. I've been extra tired all week, maybe some things are catching up with me!
After a nice breakfast I meal prepped and de-boned some chicken breasts for tonight's dinner (the grocery gave me bone-in breasts for some reason, I think the dude was new and I wasn't watching him bag it). In the middle of that the doorbell rang. It was one of Jameson's friends, dropping off the cookies he'd ordered from Quarantine Dessert Company! This is a startup run by two ladies who've lost their jobs with Disney and are trying to earn some income. Fortunately they are wonderfully talented bakers, so they've been getting a lot of orders! They usually sell out within a few hours of opening for orders.

Jameson got us six pumpkin spice cookies, and six salted chocolate chip cookies. Man are they delicious. I can tell they use a butter-based recipe because the cookies are fairly flat, soft and chewy. Mmmmm.

These cookies are really big so I usually cut them in half and eat half at a time. Since there are so many I'll probably throw some in the freezer after a few days to help preserve them.

The rest of the day was pretty chill.  I cleaned the shower and did a few resistance band exercises and watched anime. Jameson played some games and watched concerts on YouTube and helped his students when they needed it. In the afternoon we went for a walk and talked about various things, like we do. Then we came home and got showers, and while he worked with a student I started on dinner.

It turns out that the air fryer makes some excellent chicken parm! I gave the chicken the ol' flour-egg-crumb dip, preheated the air fryer to 360, and cooked two pieces of chicken at a time for 6 minutes. Flipped them, added a dollop of basil marinara and mozzarella, then back in the air fryer for another 6 minutes. They turned out absolutely perfect, crispy on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside. I boiled some whole wheat penne and made a salad and garlic knots for the side (the garlic knots were store bought).

After dinner we cleaned up and watched a little TV together: The Final Table, which is kind of an international version of Iron Chef + Chopped, and some more Bly Manor. Man that show is getting intriguing! Then we had cookies for dessert, and while Jameson played Call of Duty I wrote this blog post and chased a fly around the kitchen, hoping to feed it to my venus flytrap or sundew. I did catch the fly and put it in a bag with the carnivorous plants, but I think the sundew was too small to hold such a big bug and the flytrap wasn't hungry. I came back a few hours later to find the fly drowned in the water at the bottom of the bag. I suspect it got tangled in the sundew's sticky goo and fell down there, couldn't get out, and drowned. Lame.

On the other hand, my sundew is making goo! I've been worried about it because for the first few days after I got it home it was looking pretty dry. It's too hot for these plants outside and too dry for them in the house, so the best I can do for now is to stick them in a ziploc bag with the top open and leave them in the window to get some sun. The bag helps to replicate the humidity they're used to in a greenhouse. Hopefully once it starts cooling off I'll be able to put them comfortably outside. The fact that the sundew has started producing digestive juices again is a good sign that it's comfortable for now. yay! And it looks so pretty <3

It's been another week of the usual.
Tomorrow I work from home, and we'll start putting furniture back on the deck.
Saturday I have my first presentation at work, wish me luck.
Sunday is my "extra day off" for the month of October, no plans so far.
Monday, work in person. Tuesday, work from home. And then another weekend.
Pretty soon Halloween will come, so I'm looking into places to get pumpkins and researching how to make the best seeds.
We also want to make caramel apples, and I want to roast some Japanese pumpkin in the air fryer.

What should I make for dinner next week?

Plants and Food are Life Now

I didn't feel good at the start of the week.
No, it's not covid. It's probably the coconut milk in that curry to be honest :p

Or maybe it's stress built up over time. That's a thing.

I still got through my day all right. There are some changes happening at work that seem kind of...unexpected. I can't say anything about it, confidentiality and all, just that the nature of the work is going to be different. I hope it'll still be enjoyable. Nuff said.

Is it weird that I already know what I want to make for dinners over the weekend?
One day blends into another, and even at the start of my work week it feels like time is short.

I woke up on Friday to the news about Trump & wife finally catching the covies.
I'm not a person who can wish a complete stranger dead, and I won't wish that on Trump & fam.
However I think that when you tempt fate, quite often karma is right there to give you a swift kick in the ass.
Posturing and bravado only make one look like a fool in the end.
Death comes for us all. There's no reason to pretend otherwise.

But what do I know.

We'll see what happens. A lot of people seem to think he's faking it, but Trump's administration aside I don't think the hospital would go along with someone faking an illness. And if they do it's time to look at Canadian citizenship.

On Saturday night Jameson and I watched a YouTube video of people making Taiwanese peanut candy. It looked SO GOOD. I felt stupid, I forgot how much Jameson likes peanut brittle (his favorite candy bar is PayDay!)
Not only that, I have seen these candies before! Of course they won't be as fresh and soft as they would be freshly made like in the video, but it's the next best thing. The Asian grocery is on my route home and I knew exactly where to look.

These are for him, but we both tried a piece of the powdered peanut biscuit. It was crunchy but also light and sweet, very very tasty! I had the pleasure of watching my bf's eyes roll back in his head as he took his first bite haha. It's the little things. We can't travel and explore right now, but we can experience new foods and cultures at least. Very grateful for the Asian grocery!

In fact, we had another surprise experiment later in the week. A little less "cultural".
Not sure if y'all have heard, but Brach's has released a "turkey dinner" candy corn.

Yes, EEW. Definitely gross. And yet. The urge to try it was so strong.
En route to and from work I stopped at every Walgreens along the way (Walgreens is the only store carrying it) and was unable to find it. Everywhere I went it was sold out. After checking online I realized that only one Walgreens in Orlando had it in stock, and it was on I-drive, a notoriously touristy area of the city.

Well, whatever! I was there the very next day when they opened the doors at 7am. And they only had two bags left!! Sheesh!
After work I drove home and we cracked them open.

Flavors clockwise from top are: green beans, ginger glazed carrot, stuffing, sweet potato pie, roasted turkey, and cranberry sauce.
Sweet potato pie was the only one that could be called “good”.
The cranberry was the most disappointing, it was like an artificial and overripe raspberry flavor, no tartness at all. Jameson’s favorite Thanksgiving food and he was not impressed 👎🏻
Most accurate award goes to the stuffing, we could not BELIEVE how disgustingly accurate it was! I could taste the gravy! 🤮
Runner up for accuracy was ginger carrot, it really did have carrot flavor (you can get freaking stuffing and carrot flavors into a candy corn but not cranberry, really Brach's? Lol!)
The green bean was just odd, we agreed that it tasted neither like green beans nor like anything else we could think of.
And the turkey was by far the most disgusting, it somehow did have a “roasted meat” taste! 🤮
Yeah it was mostly gross and weird...but also fun and amusing 😁

That same day I welcomed two new plants into my little "garden".
While checking messages during a short break at work, I saw that someone was having a plant sale not ten minutes from my work!
I used my lunch break to rush over and check it out. They had a lot of exotic plants, most of which I wasn't familiar with. But they also had a nice selection of carnivorous plants, which if you were following me in my circus days you know that I propagated venus flytraps for several years while traveling the country. They died when I moved to Florida, because I underestimated how hot Florida is in the summer.

Anyway, I couldn't resist picking up a beautiful little flytrap with deep red coloring in the "mouths".
And they had sundews as well! Not the Florida-native pink sundew, which I would have loved to have but it's illegal to sell them.
These were some common green type, but still super adorable and must-have. I bought them and raced back to work just in time.

Since it's October these plants will go into dormancy soon, so maybe it was stupid to buy them. But, too bad. It's stupid to buy everything I've bought this week. Life is short y'all.

The rest of my week was fairly normal. I had some leftover mango from the curry I made last week, and some bananas that were just coming ripe, so I bought a can of pineapple and threw them all in the blender. I added a little ginger for warmth and brightness, and a chocolate mint leaf from my garden just for decoration. Tada! Banana mango pineapple popsicles! They're probably my final popsicle creations of the summer.

Here are all the popsicles I've made this year: mint mojito, strawberry watermelon, peaches n' cream, key lime pie, honeydew lemongrass coconut, matcha fudgesicle, and banana mango pineapple. I'm excited to try more flavor experiments next year!

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Welcome to October

Holy wow, it's October.

This week started off pretty busy.
I had work-from-home on Friday, and during my down time and breaks I cleaned up the house as best I could in preparation for Jameson's friends. I managed to get the bathrooms done and the tile floors mopped before my workday was over. There's no way I could have gotten so much done if I hadn't been working at home. Very grateful.

After work I finished cleaning by dusting and vacuuming, then went to Publix to grab us some dinner and the ingredients for the "fruit dump" for Jameson's friends. Back home I made a batch of whipped cream (only takes a few minutes, a cup of cream and two tablespoons of sugar!). I also blended most of the ingredients for the filling: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and a small apple, all tossed in brown sugar, bourbon, and vanilla extract. The berries will marinate in that overnight, and when I get home from work tomorrow I should be able to just dump the filling into a pan, top with crumble, and bake. It's too bad I couldn't make the crumble in advance but it's not hard to do anyway.

Partway through the evening we got a package, a soundproofing window insert for our bedroom! Jameson found it somewhere online and got it for us. Since this is a vacation rental neighborhood we sometimes have very inconsiderate guests staying in the house next door, blasting music and getting wasted late into the night. We get that it's a vacation for them but for Jameson and his insomnia and me with my 5am wakeup time, it ain't fun. This is hopefully a solution the next time loud obnoxious people are staying next door.

Right before bed Jameson's friends cancelled on us. What to do! Well, the house was nice and clean and we had the berry cobbler already started...so what the heck. After work on Saturday I picked up some wings, and we had wings and berry cobbler for dinner!

I screwed up the "crumble" part of the cobbler, I doubled the recipe but completely forgot to double the butter. I was really irritated with myself, but Jameson reassured me that it would still be very tasty. And it was! Could have been better, obviously, but with bourbon-soaked berries and homemade whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, it was 90% delicious!

Sometimes it's fun to be bad for a night :p

The rest of my week was uneventful. This is my work-at-the-office-only week, so I will not get to work from home on my usual two days per week. I'm a little bummed but not nearly as bummed as I'd be if it were taken away entirely.

The bumming out continued when one of my dear friends posted that her cat, Lyra, had passed away.
She got Lyra while we were in college, best friends renting a house together with four other musicians.
I remember bringing her home as a kitten, shaking and terrified of everything, farting like mad haha.
As she grew older she got a lot less nervous. She was a beautiful, aloof, independent yet strangely affectionate cat.
After college she lived with my friend as she traveled across the country to find work, eventually settling down in New Mexico.
There she lived to the ripe old age of 16.

In a small way, she was my cat too. I cared very much about her. It hurt to hear that she's gone from the world.
I made sure to send a small memento to my friend. This year has not been kind.

On Wednesday I got up and went outside to check on my plants. It rained very hard these past two days so I expected a little damage, but everything seems pretty good. The lemons are getting more and more yellow. For comparison, here is a photo taken in July vs one taken today:

They'll be ready soon!
What should I make with them?
Lemon bars? Meringue pie? Lemon ricotta pancakes? The possibilities...

Wednesday was the first day it was actually cool outside. It was wonderful. Very breezy, and although it was still close to 80 degrees that's way cooler than it's been. I can't wait for fall.

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Asian Adventures, and Gardening Finally

My cooking fun began a little early with an extra day off on Sunday.

A while ago Jameson mentioned making ribs in the air fryer, specifically "char siu" Chinese spare ribs. Considering how crispy the wings turned out, I thought this was an excellent idea and very doable!

After work on Saturday I went to Whole Paycheck for a rack of St. Louis-style ribs, from which spare ribs are derived.
I used THIS recipe to make the marinade. The ribs marinated all night. I wondered how they'd turn out.

But there was all day Sunday before I'd get to find out. In addition to the ribs Jameson had also mentioned crab rangoon, so I figured why not try those as well. And recently we've been watching some youtube videos of people sampling Asian snacks, all of which has really gotten me in the mood for a trip to iFresh, our local Asian grocery!

Now, I know we're all supposed to be social distancing and limiting our trips to the grocery. So I feel somewhat guilty about doing this. But frankly, at this point, I'm just willing to take the risk even though it's selfish. I still have to go to work in person three days a week, with people who have contracted and gotten through covid. I haven't gotten sick myself, and if I were a carrier I think we'd know by now because a lot more of the people in direct contact with me would have gotten it by now. I have a mask, sanitizer, wipes, and will take every precaution including leaving if others aren't being responsible. I don't know what else I can defensibly say about it. If I don't do something, one thing, outside of this house, I will lose my mind.

Speaking of doing things outside the house, Jameson got to have a rehearsal with his bandmates this past weekend. Everyone was responsible and social distancing, but they won't get to rehearse again after this for safety's sake. It seemed like he had an awesome time and they got some great recordings that will now be edited and further developed for a little Christmas project they're doing. Stay tuned.

Anyway, my point is we all have to use our judgement, and try our best to be considerate and safe while still living life.
I'm going to the dang Asian grocery.

Ok, here we are.

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Well, another week down.

Some slight changes at work. A lot of supervisors applied to work from home, but not all of them have gotten to yet. And if they let any more supervisors work from home there won't be enough coverage at the office. So the solution they've come up with is to start a weekly rotation. They've assigned all of us to four groups (A B C and D) and each week one group will work entirely at the office, while the other three will continue their 2 home/3 on-site work schedules. Basically for one week per month I'm going to have a week where I don't get to work at home.

I think this is really fair, and I'm glad they chose to do a rotation rather than taking work-from-home away from some and giving it to others, or taking it away from all of us. This way we all get to enjoy it. I'm sad to have one week per month that I'm going to kinda dread, but I'm sure it won't be bad at all.

It was a really speedy work week for me...for whatever reason my tasks seemed to go very quickly.
Steno school is going all right, I'm on Chapter 31 which is words ending in -ly or -ty or -kly, etc, you get the idea. Sometimes I can't tell how well I'm doing but I just do my best and my teacher seems ok with that.

I'm taking it easy on cooking this week just to give myself a little break, but also because since I have Sunday off I have extra cooking plans coming up. We're still finding out what the air fryer is good for, so since I'll be hitting an Asian grocery on my extra day off I'm planning to make air fryer crab rangoon and Chinese-style spare ribs (you know those bright red, super chewy ribs you can get as an appetizer? Those). I'm not sure how it will got but wish me luck!

Although I'm not gardening, there's a lot going on in my little garden without my help.
The meyer lemons are really starting to turn yellow now. It's very interesting to see! They're changing color in a blotchy sort of way. Having lived most of my life in the northeast US, I have zero experience with growing citrus so I find this fascinating!

The vanilla orchid is absolutely insane. It has been raining every single day for about two weeks, and while some of my plants (like my poor thyme) are suffering from it, the vanilla is like YES PLEASE and has absolutely taken OFF. It is somewhere up in the treetops wraping itself around a branch. There are aerial roots appearing all over the place. I'm glad it's looking nice and strong now, because alhtough winters in Florida are mild one good freeze could kill this plant. Let's hope that doesn't happen. I would love to try for flowers next year.

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