Halloween 2019

Did you have a good Halloween?

My week was normal, just work and the usual stuff.
At work I am getting more comfortable with the added role of coaching. It breaks up my day and allows for some interaction with other humans. Plus theoretically I'm helping someone to be better at the job. Kinda neat.

By the time Halloween rolled around, we had four pumpkins. Sheesh! We each had a big one for carving, then I got a little white one to be Jack Skellington's face (Jameson's mom got us that decoration), and then we added a small orange pumpkin to be the "test pumpkin" for the types of carving we want to do!

Before all of that though, in the morning I had my first one-on-one consultation at the gym.
It was pretty much just taking my measurements and finding out what my goals are in working out.
I made the mistake of wearing an oversized t-shirt, and when the associate took my measurements she didn't even touch my waist, just the shirt. So now I have a recorded waist size of 36 (actual is 26. Sigh.)

But whatever. I'm not here for the numbers. I did a light elliptical workout and went back home to get started on the pumpkins!



First Jameson put on The Nightmare Before Christmas. Priorities! Then we got to work gutting and carving the pumpkins. We set the seeds aside for later roasting.



When the pumpkins were ready we began carving. When our Halloween movies ended we'd put on another one, The Great Pumpkin or Simpsons Halloween and whatnot. Jameson finished before me, having used a stencil. His turned out pretty creepy-looking!


Mine took more time, as usual because I chose to do something complicated and ridiculous haha.
I wanted to make my pumpkin look like it had boils or zits. So I shaved the skin off of its lumps and thinned them out from behind so light could shine through.



I had planned to also drizzle yellow and white wax over the lumps to give an oozing appearance, but spent too much time shaving lumps and ran out of time. The white pumpkin made a great Jack Skellington head.


Jameson's gym consultation was at 4:30, and while he was there I cleaned up our mess, ordered dinner, and went out to get more votive lights and some pumpkin beer. Not a single store had Pumpkinhead or Basic B*tch left in stock, so this took longer than expected, but finally I found "a" pumpkin beer and brought it home.

Back at home Jameson got a shower, I hurriedly set out some candy for trick-or-treaters, and we ate our pizza like ravenous wolves.
When it got dark we dropped LED candles into our pumpkins and took them outside. I was pleasantly surprised by how gross the boils on my pumpkin looked :)



As we waited for trick-or-treaters we watched The Haunting of Hill House. Oh my gosh, this show is so good. Scary and dark on a deeply emotional level that many people can relate to. You should watch it.

We only got two trick-or-treaters the whole night! Argh, now we have WAY too much candy! What a tragedy :P



I also roasted up our pumpkin seeds with some salt, pepper, chili powder, onion powder, and olive oil. Our seeds were rather large so I boiled them first to help break down the shells. They turned out really good, and we snacked on them as we watched our show.


Overall it was a pretty successful Halloween! With all this candy it's good that we've got a gym membership, haha.
We were hoping for more trick-or-treaters, but we live in sort of a vacation home area so it's not surprising that we got so few.
Well, now we know for next year!

Our Friday was spent mostly chilling out, we both needed it. We went to the gym in the morning and the grocery in the afternoon, then both of us had a nap. Around dinnertime I started making zucchini fries and Reubens using recipes from The Dude Diet: Dinnertime sent to us recently by Jameson's mom. Jameson has a salt intolerance and has to watch his sodium intake, and Reubens are one food that he misses. We were hoping this recipe would be a good replacement (and I think it was!)



This Reuben involved ground turkey seasoned with dill and kraut mixed in with the patty meat to give it a "corned" flavor. Then you top it with Swiss, more kraut and homemade Russian dressing on rye bread, and press it in the pan using a heavy skillet. The zucchini fries were breaded in panko and cornmeal, then roasted in the oven. Turned out really good! We're excited to make more recipes from this book.

Jameson has some free time this week, I'm going to enjoy seeing him every night for once!
I don't have a lot lined up this month, just a trip to PA for Thanksgiving.
Just waiting for the temperature to get below 80 at this point...

Spooky Prep

Another week!

I started a new role at work this week. Coaching new hires as they complete training. It's a little weird because I feel like I was just in training like yesterday! And I'm not sure how much wisdom I've got to impart, ya know? But I'm just trying to emulate the good coaching I received during training. Giving positive feedback, answering questions, etc. Hopefully I can help someone to start this job on the right foot.

Jameson wound up his Week Of Endless Gigs with a performance at Boxi Park, a newish location that isn't all that far from our house. Since it was a family event it was earlier in the evening and I was able to attend! We had some good food, and the band sounded great!

Nothing especially thrilling happened for the rest of the week, except we both took advantage of our new gym membership. It's definitely a step up from Planet Fitness; I didn't think a fancier gym (higher price) would make a difference, but it really does. I can look forward to equipment that actually works, and a space that is clean, and some one-on-one coaching. It's really very nice, and I'm glad Jameson brought me on board :) On top of that we've both tried the Swiig smoothies sold at the gym, and they're pretty darned good!

Lately all I seem to post about is food. Well, I have no gigs to practice for, and I have a while before I start school or take on anything new, so hopefully it's a good use of time to cook. Why am I getting defensive about this, omg.

Thursday Jameson had to work at the office, so I did my usual cook-and-clean. Around lunchtime I went to the gym, then hit Target to finally stock up on some Halloween candy! I tried to get good stuff, assuming we have trick-or-treaters (and if we don't then we'll have awesome candy haha)
The food I cooked for dinner wasn't worth photographing, it was just a preseasoned pork roast from Trader Joe's with some mashed potatoes and peas :P
After dinner we watched a few episodes of The Haunting of Hill House and enjoyed a quiet evening together.

On Friday we made plans to go to a haunted maze and forest area at Lake Catherine Blueberries, a local farm.
But before that, I had cooking to do!

For dinner I made red curry coconut chicken meatballs, recipe from Half-Baked Harvest. It's supposed to be a quick 30-minute meal, but it always takes me forever to prep :/ One of the reasons I used to hate cooking is because I was forever getting yelled at for being so slow. Well, I don't have knife skills, so if I want even cuts I have to go slowly. Thankfully Jameson could care less about my prep skills so I don't have to worry about that any more.

Anyway, I chopped peppers, shallots, garlic, and cilantro, then measured out coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, and red curry.
I made the meatballs by hand and cooked them in the oven while the veggies simmered on the stove, then brought them together over white basmati rice with a mango jalapeno lime chutney. It's a really good recipe and I enjoyed making it :)



But the showstopper this week was dessert! I decided to try an apple crumble (or crisp, if you like.)
Originally I had wanted to make it in the cast iron skillet, but the recipe I wanted wouldn't fit. Maybe next time!
I used Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples, peeling about 2/3's of them and leaving the others with their skins on.



I soaked the sliced apples overnight in bourbon, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. In the morning they were looking pretty dang good!!


I covered them with the crumble, which was flour, oats, pecans, brown sugar, salt, and butter. After an hour in the oven the house was smelling fantastic indeed.


We decided to put off dessert until after the haunted maze as it was getting close to that time.
We drove out to the farm, which like many farms was in the middle of nowhere. More creepy that way ;)

First we visited the pumpkin patch to find carving pumpkins for Halloween! There were many beautiful pumpkins to choose from.



Jameson found one of the most perfect pumpkins ever, with a smooth face and excellent shape for carving.
I found...well...let's just say I turned a corner, saw it sitting there, and it was love at first sight!!
I knew it was the right pumpkin because as soon as I picked it up the vendor exclaimed, "Wow, that's one ugly pumpkin!" and a random kid walking by said "Eew, look at it!" Yep. This is the one.



We happily loaded our finds into the car, then went to the country shop to look around. We found honey and blueberry jam both made right at the farm, and blueberry lemonade! Awesome!

After loading THOSE in the car, we did our first maze, a scavenger hunt in a hemp field!



It started off pretty easy, but as dusk fell it became harder and harder to see and more and more creepy!
At one point we almost gave up because it started to rain. But determined, we forged onward and found the last two items! Yay!!
We took our completed punchcards back to the country store and received a free blueberry lemonade! Yay!

Around back there was a bar. Jameson got a bloody Mary and I just had them dump a shot into my lemonade. We sipped our drinks and enjoyed the fresh air and some nice live music.

Soon it was time for the haunted maze. We took a hayride out to the maze, where we were accosted by clowns, chainsaw-weilding freaks, and Children of the Corn! This maze was staffed mostly by children...Jameson's friend told us that they start out as scarers, then get to move up to other roles as they grow older. Really cool! We had a few surprises and scares and had a great time!

My favorite part was when one ghoul whispered in my ear, "Will you be my friend? Be my best friend. That means you die first." NICE LINE!!!

After that, we did the haunted forest! That was REALLY cool. It had rained so it was kinda muddy, but tarps had been put down so we could still get through the maze. At one point we almost got separated because two creatures locked us in a cage with a dirty mattress, then one chased Jameson out while the other locked me in! Yeek!

The woods were just naturally creepy at night, and a lot of the effects used were really good. It was a lot of fun! It's been a while since we've gotten to do a good haunted "house" experience!

We drove home through the creepy burbs, and waiting for us on the counter was the apple crumble and some vanilla ice cream. Oh my goodness, after an evening of fall scares, it was SO GOOD.



Now it's Saturday and I'm getting ready to go to work. Halloween is coming...I hope we are ready!

Parbaking and Parboiling and Parthinking

My big excitement this week was getting to have dinner one night at The Stubborn Mule with Matt, a former Ringling clown and current Imagineer. It was good to catch up over some delicious fish sammys!

The other cool thing was going to see Encore's production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee!
Jameson is playing in the pit, which was totally visible from the audience so I enjoyed watching the musicians play and watching their reactions to the comedy onstage. I've never seen Spelling Bee before and was surprised at how hilarious it is! And lots of opportunities for improvisation. It's a very cool show and I had a great time, especially with Jameson doing his magic in the pit :)

At work, I got my 6-month review. Wow, I've worked somewhere for six months!
I got a little raise, and some nice feedback from my supervisor, plus a printout of my average accuracy, speed, and monitored scores throughout my time at CapTel. I'm doing pretty good, which is great. One thing I like about this job is that feedback is 100% based on and scored by your work. There's no confusion over what's expected, or what determines your value as an employee. It's really black and white here. And I really like that. I need it. Because a lot of other areas of my life are not so cut-and-dry. It's nice to have one place that is.

Anyway, so then we got to Thursday and Friday which are my glorious days off. I've finished my online course, and now begins the process of deciding, once again, if the field I'm looking into is the right one for me. I've got to pick something. It's just stressful when you've got to ask yourself, "Will I like this? Is this the right path?"

The fact that I have not had to ask "Will I like this" about my career choice before makes me a very lucky person.
There are many people who never find a job that they like, much less a dream job.
So I'm trying to stay objective, and patient, and remember that even if I pick the wrong thing oh God what if I pick the wrong thing and get trapped in some job I hate and have no other choice and--

Hahaha. Yeah...it's not easy to think positive!

But the fact remains I've got to do something, I've got to evolve. I can still play music. Maybe I can learn to enjoy it again like I used to. But in the meantime I've got to be flexible, and take risks, and try my best. And stay positive.

One hugely positive thing is that I'm with Jameson. He's incredibly supportive. He's dealt with all of my midlife crisis crap, even while struggling with his own demons. He's probably the only reason I'll be able to do this (whatever "this" ends up being). And I don't know how to repay something as big as that.

Um. Anyway.

I was feeling somewhat lazy this time around, so I only cleaned the shower and vacuumed. I didn't feel like cooking as much, and since we had capers and cream cheese left over from previous recipes I thought it'd be nice to grab some sesame bagels, lox, cucumbers and tomatoes and make lox sandwiches! It's been a while since I had one and it was very good.




On Friday we had a relaxing morning, and then Jameson decided it was time to get a new gym membership. I agreed. We've both been making our excuses about it...for me, I keep telling myself I'll start after Thanksgiving when I've got my bike from my parent's house, or I should wait until next year so my cancellation fee will be less with Planet Fitness. I don't know what Jameson's excuses were, but we both decided to stop making 'em! The new gym is close to the house and has a lot of nice amenities. I'm especially excited about the free one-on-one consultations you can get before you start. I'm hoping some insight from a professional will make a difference in how I exercise.

Satisfied with our new membership, we went back home, had lunch, and relaxed a bit.
Oh and I beat Castlevania! WHOOOOOOOT

Later on I decided to try out the pizza stone we've recently obtained to make a basic margherita pizza!
Stretching the dough was easy. I parbaked it a little so it wouldn't be soggy, then let it cook for about ten minutes.
The crust ended up crunchy, I suspect because
A) The oven wasn't hot enough,
B) I overworked the dough, and
C) The dough had been sitting in the fridge for two days and may have dried out.
Still, it was perfectly edible and a good first attempt.




What's a pizza without wings? I also made Alton Brown's recipe for oven-baked buffalo wings.
They turned out pretty good, although not crispy (his recipe calls for you to parboil them to render the fat and make them crispier, it didn't seem to work). I think next time I will try broiling them for the second half of cooking. I'll also get a different buffalo sauce recipe, because this one was basically butter with a little hot sauce and it was too much grease and not enough flavor for me personally. But again, a solid first attempt and definitely good enough to eat!



I feel like I'm learning a lot of new cooking techniques (new to me anyway) and it's kind of exciting to think that I could make pizza, and use what I learn there to make stromboli later! Or these wings, and use that to make my own jerky! I used to hate cooking and now that it's a no-pressure situation, it's becoming a lot more fun!

Now it's nighttime and Jameson is at a gig. It's raining hard, there's a tropical system moving through.
Next week it looks like Jameson will have some more free time. We're hoping to squeeze in some Halloween activities!

October Contemplation

I had my last two Evita shows, and they were fun.

Although there was some awkwardness with the contracting for this show, I'm very glad I ended up doing it because I got to meet some really great human beings. Josh, who had to step up to the plate at the last minute to music direct AND play keys, was amazing all around. Sam was, well, a trumpet player, so that says everything doesn't it? ;P Ciara is the goofy friend I didn't know I needed. And the rest of you...well what can I say. Y'all crazy. And I love it :)

So that was that, and Clayton (the actual trombonist for this show) paid me my bread, and all was well with the world.
Who knows when I'll get to perform again. Christmas? 2020? We'll see.

Jameson is working hard. He doesn't have a single night off this week. He does get to sleep in, but his evenings are not his own.
Lately he's been thinking over a lot of things, which I think everyone has to do at some point, but I can't help but worry that he's OK.
Everyone's battles are their own and I don't want to get pushy or interfere, so I'm just trying to be here for whatever life brings him and whatever decisions he makes. Lord knows he's already done this for me over the past two years.

Anyway, the weather this week was surprisingly fall-like. It was rainy and a little windy, and while it was still over 80 degrees it was at least cooler than it's been all summer. Wednesday was the 18-year anniversary of my mom's death, so I found the weather comforting and appropriate. Sometimes her anniversary passes and I feel the same as I always do. Other times I really "feel it". I don't get to choose when I feel sad or not, it just happens. This time I felt it...but it's good to have those feelings, and it's good to remember.

To help mitigate those feelings, I took a trip to an asian grocery and bought some ingredients to make simmered kabocha.
I had been worried about being able to find a kabocha pumpkin, but they were immediately apparent in the produce aisle, a big mound of them stacked next to the turnips and sweet potatoes and such. Screaming "pick me, pick me!"



My asian cooking experience is essentially stir fry, and as someone with actual asian blood I'm starting to think that's kinda pitiful.
Thinking about my mom this week, I wanted to try making a traditional Japanese dish in a traditional Japanese way.
Even if it's just a side dish. Even if it's just basically boiling a pumpkin.

And even though my Obaa-chan despised pumpkins. I can hear her soul rising up to tisk and curse and be horrified :P

I found this site that's entirely traditional Japanese cooking for beginners, called Just One Cookbook, and used their recipe for simmered kabocha.



Following the recipe, I used bonito flakes to make a broth and then chopped the kabocha and lined the bottom of a pot with the pieces. I mixed sake, sugar, salt, and soy sauce together and it all went in the pot with the pumpkin. I then made a sort of DIY "drop lid" since I hadn't been able to find one at the asian grocery. Drop lids are supposed to help temperature distribute evenly and reduce large bubbles from boiling.




As you can see, the pumpkin looked pretty lovely when it was finished. Unfortunately I do think I overcooked it, because the texture was somewhat crumbly. Still, the flavor is interesting and I won't throw it out. Pumpkin is pretty good for you! And it was fun cooking something in the nimono style. I learned something new :)

If you clicked on the nimono recipe link above, you might have noticed that it only calls for half a kabocha pumpkin. What to do with the other half?

While working for Princess Cruises at the beginning of the year, there was one night in the crew mess where roasted pumpkin was served. It was so delicious, I immediately noted it down as something to try making at home! And lo and behold, when I look back on that pumpkin's appearance, I realize that it was definitely a roasted kabocha!

So I took the other half of the kabocha, this time slicing it thin and laying it out on a sheet pan.



Having never done this before, I wasn't sure of the seasoning so did one quarter pumpkin sweet with cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar, and the other savory with salt and pepper. They went in the oven just like you'd roast vegetables or french fries or whatever. Now these, I liked! Jameson enjoyed them as well. he preferred the sweet seasoning, I liked the savory. They had a texture more like sweet potato fries.



This was a fun little experiment and didn't take a lot of time or effort on my part. The pumpkin was only a dollar, and I had almost all of the seasonings and equipment at home. The only thing I needed to buy extra was the sake (and I ain't complaining!)
Sidenote: The plate that I put the pumpkin on belonged to my Obaachan. Love you Grandma :)

In addition to the pumpkin adventure, I made two pretty simple meals this week.
The first was salmon with a teriyaki glaze. I let it marinate in the glaze and cooked it in the sous vide for about 30 minutes. The rice was precooked, the salad took two seconds to throw together. Easy peasy.



The second was a Harvest Chicken Skillet recipe from Well Plated. This one was prep-heavy, but after everything was chopped you pretty much just threw it in the skillet and waited. I chose this recipe because it had a lot of interesting ingredients--chicken, bacon, brussels sprouts, sweet potato, and Granny Smith apples--and each serving is under 500 calories!

Plus, let's be real. I'm jonesing for fall real bad. Maybe if I do enough fall junk it'll BE fall. Yeah?

Nah.

Anyway. Harvest chicken skillet. You chop all the ingredients. You cook the chicken with salt and pepper. You render some bacon fat and use that to cook the veggies. Add the apples and spices last, then throw the meat back in to integrate. Jameson described it as a "Thanksgiving skillet" and I think he's not wrong.







After dinner Jameson had to get to his gig. Busy man. I feel bad that I'm not working just as much. But that's why we're a team. I do other things that he doesn't have time for. And eventually, I'll be working more too. Guaranteed!!

Tomorrow is Saturday. I've got work, and Jameson will have another gig at night. After work I get to grab dinner with a circus friend...and at a place where another circus friend works as a chef!! Pretty excited about that!

And Then There Was Cooking

I've really got nothing to report this week overall.

I played two more Evita shows, they went well.
Jameson has been working through some things, so it's been a little quiet on his end. But sometimes we all need a little time to work ourselves through...look at our internal maps, and try to find the thin little thread of happiness that tends to get lost in the dark.

Buuut anyway, he will be very busy next week, so it's good that he's got a little down time now.
Personally, I was thrilled to once again have Thursday and Friday off.
I've never had the inclination to cook, but I gotta admit that's changed a bit. I'm excited to try making things that Jameson will enjoy eating!

This week's big excitement in cooking: Cacio e Pepe and sous vide cheesecake, both recipes from Alton Brown's Good Eats!


I made slow-roasted herb chicken breasts to go with the pasta, and a caprese salad.
The pasta was actually more complicated than it looked, and I made some mistakes that kind of resulted in an overpeppered, broken sauce. But hey, I tried and it was certainly edible! I think next time I will spend more time stirring the sauce as directed, and use less pepper.






The cheesecakes were the star of the show. Cream cheese and sugar whipped in a mixer, then you add some sour cream, eggs, and lemon juice/zest. Fill some 4oz canning jars with the results and immerse in the sous vide for 45 minutes. While that was happening I crushed some graham crackers, sugar, salt and butter, dumped it onto a sheet pan, and cooked it in the oven for 20 minutes to make a crumble to go on top. I was amazed at how well they turned out! Incredibly light and silky smooth. The "crust" crumble was wonderful. Next time I'd like to try making a key lime version!




After dinner we watched The Haunting of Hill House, the first two episodes. It's getting to be spooky season y'all!

On Friday I continued my cooking streak with buttermilk biscuits. The last time I made them with Jameson's mom, so I was a little nervous about going it alone. But they turned out fine! Remembering a sandwich I'd had while on tour with the circus, I layered my biscuit with ham, brie, and apple cider jam. It was AWESOME.




After that was done I worked on my online class and enjoyed a little chill out time while Jameson had student meetings and played some video games. Later on he went to a friend's house to help her move some things, and then they went to Haunted Horror Nights at Universal. While he was out I washed our sheets, cooked some chicken, did my laundry, and vacuumed. When all that was done, I finally felt it was time to crash. I poured myself a drink and watched the first episode of the new Dark Crystal series, then played a few rounds of Castlevania. I'm so close to beating that game! But it's so hard!! Argh!!

It was a nice week, clearly I kept myself busy. Next week Jameson starts a bunch of rehearsals and gigs, so I'm glad there's at least some leftovers in the fridge for both of us to dip into as we go about life. Today (Saturday) I have my last two shows with Orlando Shakes. I'm grateful that I got to perform on this show, but if I'm being honest, there was some weirdness during the hiring process that both Jameson and I were questioning (he was supposed to play it as well but, weirdness. I'll explain after I talk to someone at the theater about it.) Anyway, it's a good show with good people and I'm looking forward to two more shows with them :)

Next week I've just got work and extra work to make up for the time I had to take off for the shows this weekend. I still expect to have Thursday and Friday free again, so maybe I'll come up with something else exciting to cook!

Little Things

Let's see, Sunday I worked and then played the Orlando Shakes fundraising gala.
It was fun and interesting...lots of money in that room. Which was great, because you know, fundraising.
Anyway, it was a very fancy affair and I felt underdressed even though I wore a suit jacket. No matter, I still made sure to get some fancy hors d'oeuvres!

I would have also liked to have played better, but sightreading a piano/vocal chart has never been my strong suit.

Anyway, on Monday I went to work and after work hit the library. I'm still speeding through the Wings of Fire series and am actually kinda sad to realize I'm beginning the last arc of it. Soon it'll be time to find another series to follow...

They didn't have the next book in the Wings of Fire series, so I tried Endling by Katherine Applegate instead. She's better known for the Animorphs series and a big long list of teen romance novels. I swear I'll go back to grown-up books eventually y'all.

Tuesday and Wednesday, not a lot to report. I worked, I ran errands, I came home. I'm about halfway through my online course and it's going pretty well so far. Jameson has had a few days to rest up from his mom's visit and all the work he's been putting in lately, but come October he gets pretty busy again with gigs and such. He's got a lot on his mind lately. I mean, it's been a crazy year.

Thursday was finally, finally, a real whole day off. Woohoo!
But there's so much to do! I wanted to at least get caught up on the cleaning, and cook some nice food for Jameson and I. There are so many recipes I want to try. And I've definitely got Fall on the brain...I'm already thinking about carving pumpkins, and roasting seeds, and whether or not trick-or-treaters will come to our house. I think Fall in this house would be amazing :) We'll see!

But for today, just getting caught up is enough. I vacuumed and dusted and cleaned the bathrooms. I worked on my online course, and revisited the library because they got the book I wanted (that was quick!). I drove aaaaalll the way out to Trader Joe's for their Cabernet Pot Roast, which I've made for us many times before but wanted to try in the sous vide to see if it would make it more digestible (it's a poor cut of meat, a benefit of sous vide is it can tenderize cheaper cuts.) Sadly I didn't have enough time to try sous vide after all of the running around, so ended up just cooking it in the oven as usual and roasting some asparagus to go on the side. It was "just ok". I need more practice!

After Jameson and I ate, we just chilled. How nice it is to do nothing, to just relax and enjoy relaxing.

Friday was much the same. I spent time on my online class, Jameson played Red Dead Redemption and took a nap. We hung a new piece of art in the guest bedroom. In the evening I thought I'd try making something new for dinner: shrimp po'boys! They're very simple to make, I mean it's just marinated shrimp on a roll haha. But they were very good, and I'll definitely be bookmarking this recipe!




There are a few small changes I would make next time, such as marinate the shrimp before sticking them on skewers to ensure full coverage, adding some dry spices during or after grilling, and using a bread that's less hard than baguette. But still, very enjoyable.

Today is Saturday, and I'm not at work. It's weird. That's because I took the day off to do two Evita shows for Orlando Shakes.
I'll have to make up my work hours in order to stay full time, so I've got longer days this week. Oh well..at least I like my job!

September Going Fast

Sunday was more work for me, and an Epcot visit for Jameson and his mom!
We enjoyed BLTs in the evening :)

Monday, more work for me and Jameson's mom made coconut curry and chicken meatballs!
We watched the Cubs game and I did my online course and prepped for work.

Tuesday, I worked and a guest bedroom set was delivered to the house! Jameson's mom was responsible for this awesome gift. I mean, if she's gonna visit, she needs somewhere to sleep, right?? It's awesome. I can't get over how generous this is.




This was his mom's last night at the house, so we celebrated with dinner at Sette! The food was delicious as always.

Mussels entree:



Mrs. Boyce's fish of the day:


Jameson's clam linguini:


My lasagna (it's ugly but it was SO good!):


Mrs. Boyce has cooked, cleaned, and bought household things for us all week (and she got to relax and enjoy the pool too!).
I'm glad we got to treat her to a nice dinner tonight :)

The next morning we were all up early, me for work and them for the trip to the airport.
We said our goodbyes and went on our way. Work was fine, and afterward I audited Evita with Orlando Shakes for the second time. Hopefully I'll do a good job when it's time for me to play.



While I was doing that Jameson was at Universal Horror Nights getting scared with some friends!
I'm looking forward to going to this too in October when I've got a little more free time.

Thursday was my first free day in a while! Magical!
I spent a great deal of time working on my online course and dealing with the joys of requesting transcripts.
I did a small amount of cleaning, and practiced a bit. I'm a little nervous about playing Evita tomorrow, but I will do my best.
Jameson had school work and programming to do, and later on he watched the Cubs game and played Borderlands while I did laundry
We had BLTs again for dinner, and ice cream for dessert. I finished reading Darkstalker just so that I have an excuse to get more books as soon as possible :)

Friday, I got up early for the morning Evita show. I was nervous, but I did OK.

It could have been better if I had practiced more. It's been almost six months since I've practiced seriously. You retain some skills but a lot of control and sound quality go right out the window. Anyway, it was "acceptable" to me.
Between shows I came back to the house and ate lunch, did my online class, and chilled a bit. I wanted to go to the library but forgot they close early on Fridays :p Got back to the theatre in plenty of time for the second show, which went better for me than the first in a lot of ways but in other was wasn't so great...I stepped in a hole and had to lay out for some parts because I just couldn't figure where the entrances were. Sigh. Sam (the awesome trumpeter) saw that I was getting down on myself and reminded me that I haven't had a single rehearsal with the group to get the cues I need, and that it's only my second show. Deep breath. I just wanna do a good job you guys! Maybe next time will be better.

Now it's Saturday and I'm up typing this before work. After work I've got to hit Toyota for some basic service, then should have the rest of the evening pretty free. It's been a busy week. I'm hoping I'll have more free time in the evenings again soon, to practice cooking and spend time with Jameson and enjoy the little things around this awesome house :)

Good Gravy

Another week where I was too busy to write!

Well, we went to see Shin Lim and Colin Cloud, courtesy Jameson's friend Terrance!
If you don't know, they're magicians and they're both AMAZING.



We got to chat a bit with Terrence during intermission, and it sounds like he's doing well. Tour life keeping him busy and all that. Very cool! It was a really fun night. I love our little adventures together :)

The rest of the week kind of flew by in a blur because I was working and Jameson's mom came to visit! She's getting to enjoy the pool and all the fun things about our new house, but I also feel bad because she's doing a lot of cooking and cleaning. I know she likes it (you guys, she really does, I'm not kidding) but a lot of what she's cleaning are things that I've not had time to do because I foolishly took this second job. So I kinda feel guilty, you know? But I am helping where I can, and at least the things are getting done! Also Friday is my last day at Music and Arts, so after that I'll have evenings to tear it up around here!!

My weekdays were pretty normal, just work followed by work and more work. I was pretty exhausted by the time we hit Thursday! After breakfast Jameson's mom and I went shopping for various things for the house, then she showed me how to make buttermilk biscuits! Oh my gosh, they were so easy and good! They look a little pale in this picture, but they really were just right. We had them with butter, and later while I was at work she made some chicken to go along with them. Awesome! There are literally only four ingredients, I can't believe how easy they were to make (recipe HERE).



On Thursday night I drove over to Orlando Shakes to audit the show Evita. I was originally supposed to play the whole run, and would have loved to, but contracts were sent out too late for me to make schedule changes at work. So I ended up only able to sub in for a few days. Still, I'm glad for the opportunity and enjoyed following along with the trombone part last night. There are definitely some bits I'm going to have to work on before performing the show!

On Friday while Jameson's mom painted our door I typed most of this up and weeded some of the bushes out front. Later on I worked on my online course, then went to work. My last day at Music and Arts! I was only there for about a month, but it was worthwhile in several ways. I was glad for the extra money, and the new friends made :) But I will also be glad to have that time back, to work on Future Things.

And now it's already Saturday again, another week swept past, and I'm getting ready for work while typing this. I got an email recently about the all-girl cruise ship band getting back together for a contract in April/May/June, and I don't know how to feel about it. As I mentioned in a past post, I'm trying to move away from music a bit because the opportunities are drying up, and I need to think about the future. This gig would be nice, and it might enable me to see some interesting parts of the country/other countries. But I'll need to consider how it could interfere with recertification and things. For now it's only just been brought up, so we'll see what happens as details emerge.

Work Week

Let's see. On Saturday I went to work, and it was fine. On the drive home I made sure to stop for gas as many stations are out because of the hurricane frenzy. Even though they're saying it may not hit us directly any more.

Back at home, the dishwasher had been installed! Yay!!! I'm still bummed that once again, we find ourselves having to hire a third party (happened with the dryer, and also with the dishwasher in the apartment) which is more expensive. But hey, at least now we've got all of our new appliances! They look beautiful and are working great so far. I'm very grateful to have the money saved to be able to get these things.



Jameson wasn't feeling great that evening, so we just stayed home and relaxed.

Sunday, more of the same. Dorian is rocketing along at 3MPH soooo...whatever I guess!
CapTel will be open (pretty sure they're required to be as their services could be lifesaving) but Music & Arts will be closed on Tuesday in anticipation of stormy conditions. We'll see what happens. In the meantime I picked up some pizza on the way home, we ate it, and chilled. It's nice to have a little time to chill lately.

Monday, more CapTel for me and more chill time for Jameson. Dorian still wasn't here yet, so my day at work was rather slow; they overscheduled thinking people might call out. After work we got a few things at Target and had dinner, then I had planned to chill but my stomach had other ideas. Something I ate.

Tuesday and Wednesday, not much to report. This was when Dorian was supposed to either come ashore or not, and it ended up being "not". So we got a little rain, a windy day, and about 50% of all businesses and schools closed. Oh, and suspended tolls, that was nice! Lol. It was nice to have time to relax in the evenings. I did some cleaning and watched Jameson play video games.

Thursday was supposed to be a day off, but my schedule got shifted around due to the hurricane. Before work I did a little of my online course, then went out to enjoy the pool with Jameson. It seems like lately we're never home at the same time, so it was really nice to enjoy the pool together :)



After that, work was work, I did it and came home.
The next morning we got to enjoy breakfast at Keke's with LaRena, a former Ringling clown who currently works with Feld Entertainment in a production capacity. She was in town for a vacation that she'd been planning for months...and then Dorian came and ruined it :( But at the very least we got to enjoy a meal together, and get caught up a little over stuffed French toast and giant pancakes, and that was wonderful. She seems to be doing really well. I'm still amazed every day at how all of us former circus people are getting by.

There's a heaviness in my heart as I type that, because this week we lost Ian, one of our Pie Car chefs. He died unexpectedly in a car crash that's still under investigation. Everyone, please be careful. Please. I don't know what else can be said or done...it can happen to any of us at any time.

After a great morning with LaRena, we went back home where Jameson practiced some audition materials and I worked on my online course, then headed out to work. I forgot my phone -_- so the day went a little slowly, but I was able to help some customers and also practice some materials for my course, which was nice. At night I came home and finished the coursework and headed to bed.

Today is Saturday and I'm about to head out to CapTel. I'm finishing the final Harry Potter book and am starting Deathstalker, so pretty excited about that (at CapTel you're allowed to read a book between calls). I know this is middle school material but it's ideal for my work situation, where interruptions are frequent. Tonight after work Jameson and I are going to see Shin Lim!

A Storm of Appliances

This week being a little less bonkers, I made time to really actually try to write this time instead of slapdashing from memory later on.

Over the weekend Jameson had gigs with Barfly, and I had CapTel during the day and my evenings blissfully free. I cleaned the house--like thoroughly cleaned it--for the first time on Saturday. Vaccuming, dusting, mopping, bathrooms, etc. It took about two hours. A lot more ground to cover here. Jameson also organized and swept the garage and put 90% of the artwork up on the walls. It's lookin' good around here.

On principle we went to see the Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark movie. The book is so great...well, the book art is so great. The movie, unfortunately, was a pretty big disappointment. A poor and unnecessary storyline, a massive number of plot holes. But most of all, they completely ruined the story of Harold the scarecrow. That story is so disturbing, it could have easily been the highlight of the movie. But no, they had to work it into their halfhearted plot, so it ended up totally different and extremely watered down. Read the original story HERE.



To sum it up, it would have been much better as a retelling of the actual tales in the book. I hope someone would consider making a movie or series like that in the future.

Anyway, I spent the week working both my jobs and eagerly awaiting Thursday, my first full day off in a while!

Finally Thursday came. yay!
I got up earlier than I should have but later than usual, so there.
Had a nice breakfast and explored a free online course that I'm taking...an attempt at deciding a new career path.

Music has been awesome. And I'm still planning to play when/where I can. But the thing is, I just gotta move on from it. A gig like the circus is never going to happen again. It's no longer possible for a trombonist to tour on Broadway. I'm not nor will I ever be good enough for a major symphony (that's not a put-down, it's just a true fact learned over time.) Most of the gigs that can be pieced together with any regularity for the trombone are jazz-oriented, which was never a genre I enjoyed. I learned last year that cruise ships are not for me. It's still possible to do theatre gigs, or community bands, holiday/one-time events, etc., which I will be happy to do when the opportunity presents. If any openings start appearing at the theme parks again, I'd be glad to audition for those too. But you guys, that's not enough to live on. To base a future on.

I'm at a point where my enjoyment of playing music is running dry because the money factor is in the way...and that's a bad thing. If I have to look at every gig and make a decision based on money, rather than how much I'd love to do it, is it really any different than any other job? I went into music because I loved it, and if I find myself approaching it grudgingly or with dollar signs on the brain, it's really just not right.

Over the past two years of feeling the stages of grief in relation to music, I've finally accepted that it's time to put it down and pick up something else. It was hard to admit, it's going to be hard to do. But here's the thing. We now live in this nice house that Jameson has bought, and we have a chance to start our lives here. I want to be a part of that. I want to find something that will make me happy AND pay the bills. And yeah I know I said all this last year when attempting to become a vet tech. Things don't come together on the first try for everyone, so I hope I can be excused. It's taken a long time for me to understand and work things through and come to acceptance. At some point I will find a fulfilling career, and if that means I have to keep looking then I keep looking.

Oooook, so back to Thursday, I did laundry and checked out the online course and printed some things off for it. Then I went to the library and got some groceries. Jameson made our first meal in the new house on Wednesday night, our usual chicken and roasted brussels sprouts! I wanted to follow that up with enchiladas, since Jameson has to work all day it'll be nice for him to come home to an awesome meal! I also picked up some minor "hurricane supplies": a case of water (which we like to have around anyway), a loaf of bread for Jameson, and some peanut butter for both of us. I see no reason to buy a zillion loaves of bread or all the batteries in the world.

Later that evening I made the enchiladas, which were finished just as Jameson walked in the door.
Ok, it's more like a burrito. Because I got the wrong size tortillas. Oh well...still tasty.



We caught each other up on our respective days, had dinner, and chilled out. Jameson sat by the pool to read and watch the Cubs game. I got another set of transcripts ready to send, and prepped the kitchen a bit. Because on Friday....

NEW APPLIANCES!!!

About a week ago I purchased an appliance package from Home Depot, including a fridge, oven, dishwasher, and microwave. Our appliances that came with the house are nice, but they are a bit dated. Since I couldn't contribute to the actual house-buying process, I wanted to do my part in other ways, hence this appliance package. The stainless steel definitely makes this feel less like a vacation rental, and more like a home.



Unfortunately we have the wrong water attachment for the dishwasher, so I had to hire a plumber to come out and install the dishwasher tomorrow. Hopefully that'll work out all right. But hey, 3 out of 4 ain't so bad!

We spent some time fussing with the fridge...it's so big! It has an ice machine and dispenser! I'm gonna pack that freezer with stuff! :D
I don't currently make a lot of money. But I save money very carefully. And it makes me happy to be able to help make this house amazing for BOTH of us.

Later in the evening I went to work, and Jameson went to a friend's birthday party.
Work was slow as most people are prioritizing preparing for Hurricane Dorian.

Today (Saturday) we've got a plumber coming to install the dishwasher, I work at CapTel, and we may go to Rock n' Brews.