What’s for Dinner?

What are we having for dinner? Oh, how I hate this question! Ever since I’ve been a grown-up, where I’ve had to decide for myself – or my family – I’ve dreaded the evening mealtime.

I’m not a good cook. I can follow a recipe, no problem, but I don’t love being in the kitchen. My sister got all of that talent (and she’s really good at it)!

I don’t remember how we figured out dinner, those five years before we had children. I do recall making menus when the kids were little, and basing my grocery shopping off of the dinner menus for the week. Usually, I’d plan the main dish – the protein – and “wing it” for the vegetable – canned green beans or frozen corn or salad from a bag. It used to drive my husband crazy! He’d ask, “What’s for dinner!” and I’d tell him, say, hamburgers. And he’d want to know what else, which I never had planned! We’d both feel frustrated at figuring out our dinner routine.

We tried multiple approaches: daily menus in detail, general weekly shopping basics, a cartful of veggies with a bag of frozen chicken breasts. Nothing ever really worked, and dinner always felt a little hodge-podged.

And if my hubby was traveling, all options were open. Popcorn, with sides of grapes and sugar-snap peas? Sure, we can have that for dinner! Or cereal. Or mac-n-cheese. Maybe carrots to round out the veggies, or at least to look like I tried!

The best we’ve done, I think, is since it’s back to the two of us. The kids are grown and gone – they have to figure out their own meals! And now my husband and I eat frozen pizza or carry-out sushi or take-out Chinese (tonight). In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been to the local pub for delicious “‘merican burgers,” and we finish eating before the live (loud) band starts playing! Or we grocery shop together, often with a few recipes we find, the ingredients on the grocery list. Then my husband will cook, and I assist and do clean-up. It works!

Recently, we started receiving Hello Fresh. We signed up for the vegetarian menu, as a way to force vegetables on us. And it’s a cinch! I clean the veggies, he chops and cooks, we eat delicious food, and I clean up the dishes. There are almost never any left-overs; they have the recipe designed for perfect serving sizes. That’s only a bummer when it’s a “keeper” recipe – one of the most delicious ones. But they send the full recipe, not just the needed ingredients, so we can duplicate the meal in the future.

I’m still not great at eating vegetables. I’ll grab fruit regularly; veggies are tough for me. But this meal delivery system has helped.

And while we’re still trying to figure out how to plan meals for two, I’m getting better at reaching for veggies in the produce section.

What’s for dinner? Sweet potatoes and broiled broccoli florets!

Trapped with Insomnia

For many weeks now, I’ve had occasional bouts of insomnia. I’m not alone in this, by any means. Many women I know are awake for some hours during the night. Comes with age, I suspect, or hormones changing. Maybe that’s the same thing!

Anyway, it’s usually no big deal. I quietly put on my bathrobe and slippers, and the cats and I leave the bedroom, gently closing the door behind me, and head to the kitchen, where I make a cup of chamomile tea and fill their food bowls if necessary. Then we all perch in our places in the living room – the little boy on the couch with me, the female cat often on the pet climber where she can survey the room. I grab the throw blanket and put it on my lap – it’s very snuggly. Then, I sip my tea as it cools, and I read or write or sometimes knit. I often find myself blogging at this hour – seems like a typical time for me to write. The tea makes me a little sleepy, so I’m usually only awake for one or two hours. I’m very cozy and sometimes I fall asleep on the couch instead of going back through the cold house to the bedroom.

For the next few days, I’m trapped. We’re staying in an AirBnB, and there’s someone sleeping on the couch in the living room. So tonight I’m awake with no place to go! It’s too noisy to make a cup of tea in the kitchen. And the light there will shine brightly into the living room. Plus, where will I sit?

So I’m trapped, awake, in our bedroom. I have my phone screen on nighttime mode, and pointed away from my husband in bed, so as not to wake him, if possible. It seems like writing my blog on my phone is an option! Should I try to read my Kindle on my iPad – can I adjust that intensity to nighttime lumens? But what do I do with myself without my chamomile? I really want that cup of soothing tea and my cozy blanket!

It’s uncomfortable to just lay here. I might try sitting up in bed, but there aren’t really enough pillows to prop me up and support my back like a chair would. The room is tight, with space to get around the bed but none additional – no room to bring in a chair.

I guess I’ll stay in bed and read until I get sleepy again. Maybe I’ll have tea for breakfast!

What time is it?

My husband has a predictable morning routine.

The alarm goes off at six. It’s a gentle sound, but it wakes me up briefly. He gets up – no snooze button! – and heads to the kitchen to make breakfast, closing the bedroom door behind him. He often feeds the cats – they join him as he meanders through his morning – and pours himself a glass of bubbly water while his coffee is dripping from the Keurig. He might make eggs and toast, or toast and granola cereal, or peanut butter on toast. “Yeah, toast,” he probably says to himself.

Sometimes, he’ll eat his breakfast at the kitchen counter. He used to eat at the table, but I’ve noticed the bar stool pulled back many mornings lately.

If the house is really cold, he might take his breakfast with him as he heads to the bathroom. There, he likes to sit on the floor with a towel around his shoulders – catching the heat from the vent and funneling it to his upper body. (He’s done this for years!) He’ll read headlines and news articles from his phone until it’s time to hop in the shower. After that, he gets dressed, pours himself a bottle of bubbly water for the road, and comes back into the bedroom to kiss me goodbye. By now, it’s around 7:10am. Then off to work he goes.

On the Monday after daylight savings time, the plan changed slightly.

The alarm went off, and I heard myself groan aloud, “No!” He sat up and silenced the sound, and then remained on the edge of the bed for a moment, like he was trying to clear the sound-sleeping from his head. Then he and the cats left the bedroom, with him quietly closing the door behind him.

For whatever reason, I woke up a little later. The sky was still pitch-black, and I wondered why there wasn’t at least a glint of sun in the clouds. I pulled my phone off the nightstand to check the time, then bolted upright. That can’t be!

I left the bedroom. The kitchen was dark. I walked toward the bathroom, and could see the sliver of light from under the door. But I didn’t hear the shower running, so I knew to look for him on the floor. I opened the door and stepped into the bathroom, and sat on the edge of the jacuzzi tub in front of him.

“Do you know what time it is?” I asked. “Have you looked at your clock?”

He clicked the button to check the time. “Uh, whaat?” He was confused, as I knew he would be.

“It’s 12:53,” I said. Repeat: “It’s only 12:53.”

“Huh?” he asked incrediously. “What the heck?” He kept staring at his phone, then looked up at the round wooden clock on the bathroom wall.

“It’s 12:53,” I said again.

“But my alarm went off!”

“I know. But it’s only just past midnight!”

He followed me back to bed, and we crawled under the covers. And began to giggle, then laugh ’til our sides hurt.

“Why did my alarm go off?” Giggle.

“I have no idea!” I’m laughing hard now.

“But I’ve had my coffee! I’ve eaten my breakfast!”

Laugh again.

“Why did my alarm go off?” He laughs some more. “I was surprised that I’d slept so soundly! I don’t think I’d even moved!”

“You probably didn’t. We’ve only been in bed a couple of hours.” Now I’m crying from the laughter.

As we begin to settle back into bed, one or the other of us chortles, which sends off another round of laughter. But slowly, the giggles subside. And soon I hear his deepening-sleep breathing. I smile and close my eyes.

The alarm goes off at six, and we both wake up and smile.

“Are you having more coffee?” I ask. He says yes, then takes the cats out as he closes the door behind him to let me sleep until 7:10am.

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear (or something like that)!

I’ve been watching lots of “how to” videos on applying make up. How to cover up dark circles. Which moisturizer is best for mature skin. The best eye cream. What’s with the creepiness? Do I use my finger or a beauty blender? Which brushes do I really need? How much is that foundation?!

I’ve purchased some recommended products, without breaking the bank. I tend to Google “best drugstore product for…”. I’m not spending a fortune – no way. So which products are worth a slight investment?

I’ve tried some of the techniques I’ve learned on YouTube. I’m using a color corrector now. I have a different night-time moisturizer. I’ve invested in “shape tape.”

And I’ve learned a couple of tricks that work for me, like applying my mascara before I do my under eye concealer, just in case I blink when putting it on! That way, I avoid having to do my under eye area twice. I also invested in an inexpensive eyelash comb, which helps me get rid of mascara clumps. I still haven’t mastered eye liner, and I rarely wear eye shadow. Mascara is enough of a task!

I have a magnifying mirror – it’s a regular mirror on one side and I think it’s 10x magnification when I flip it over. All I can say is “Yikes!” No one should look at their eye bags that closely – I look ancient! With wrinkles and crinkles and shadows. You’d think that none of these new techniques are working, to see my face so close!

Today, I looked in the magnification mirror and could only see the wrinkles and dark circles. But when I looked in the regular mirror, my make up looked pretty natural.

I guess I should use “up close” with caution.

Ooh and Ahh

My husband and I have a long-standing joke. It’s “ooh and ahh.”

It started many years ago, when he built a shelving unit in our first garage. It was a big piece, 2x4s for the ends, big sheets of plywood for the shelves – stacked three or four high.

When he finished building them, he asked me to come look, and to “ooh and ahh.” For the next week or so, every time we were in the garage, or backing the car out into the driveway, I’d say “Ooh! Ahh!” Like the crowd response to fireworks.

The game stuck, and whenever he would build shelves (I figure he’s built this design five or six times), I’d “ooh and ahh” for a week or so. He’d plant a garden, and I’d “ooh and ahh” when I was in the yard. He’d paint a room, and I’d “ooh and ahh” every time I came into the space. He’d install self-made organizers in a closet, and I’d “ooh and ahh” when I’d organize my craft supplies onto the shelves.

This past Saturday, he built shelves in the spare room closet. “Ooh. Ahh.”

 

On Sunday, he built the garage shelves again. “Ooh. Ahh.” He organized the stuff from the garage walls onto the shelves. “Ooh. Ahh.”

 

 

 

Yesterday, I unpacked all the books and photo albums we’ve had in boxes for the past couple of years. I organized them on the bedroom closet shelves.

When hubby got home in the evening, I asked him to come check out my handiwork.

His response? “Ooh. Ahh.”

Good answer!