Sometimes We All Need a Do-Over

I reset and I am feeling way less cranky and annoyed with myself. I took 30 minutes to lie in bed and listen to some soothing music. And then I got up and went out. I didn’t end up buying a whole chicken, because seriously, I have SO MUCH FOOD HERE! I did pick up a couple things so I can make fajitas for dinner. Mmm…tortillas, guacamole, peppers, monterey jack cheese. I’ll use some chicken strips I already have here. Dinner will be ready around 6pm. ūüėČ

I did buy myself a present though. As much as I’m living on a tight budget, I’ve learned that I do need to reward myself for getting out of the apartment. Because I will confess, I almost didn’t go out again today. And with the sun shining, staying in would have been really silly. Anyway, when I walked into Giant Tiger, I saw these cute little mini gardens in glass bowls. And when I saw this one, I couldn’t stop smiling, and I knew I had to have it.

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A Little Piece of the Beach in my Home

According to the instructions, I need to soak the seeds overnight so I will get my beach planted tomorrow. And I’m going to add some shells that I’ve brought back from Barbados over the years.

So when you’re feeling cranky, don’t be afraid to reset and start over. It can really save the day.

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Feeling Out of Sorts

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel so out of sorts that you are annoying even to yourself? I am having one of those days. Grumpy

 

I am coming down with a cold AND dealing with allergies, so my sinuses HURT and I feel like I’ve been punched in the face. My head hurts and nothing is helping the pain. I’m hungry, but I don’t know what I want to eat. And I don’t feel like making anything anyway. I’m waiting for my new phone to arrive, only to find out today that it hasn’t even been SHIPPED yet! With my luck it’ll ship today and delivery will be attempted tomorrow or Wednesday (I have appointments both days and will be in and out). I’m sick and tired of my own company. But it’s not like I’d be good company for anyone else, if I even had someone to talk to.

I know. I’m whining. I just feel so cranky and blah today. I am going to try resetting my day by taking a short nap (which will hopefully help get rid of the headache) and then I’m going to walk to the grocery store and see if I can get a whole chicken to roast for dinner.

 

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Not My Recipe: Mushroom Egg Drop Soup

For those of you wondering, I had a much better day today. I accomplished a couple things and even managed to leave the apartment. I needed (ok…wanted) egg rolls to go with my soup.

I made my chicken broth from scratch: I tossed the bones from a couple of chicken breasts into a pot, along with an onion, 3 cloves of garlic, a carrot, 2 stalks of celery, a few sprigs of thyme. I covered it all with 6 or so cups of water, and let it all simmer for a couple of hours. To make the soup, I strained the broth into another pot and then followed the recipe.

I will admit, I’ve tried making Egg Drop soup before and I always felt it was missing something. So I decided to ask my good friend Google. And I came across this beauty:¬†Garrett McCord’s Easy Egg Drop Soup. I simply combined my chicken broth, some mushrooms, chopped green onions, a bit of ginger and soya sauce in a pot, thickened it all with a bit of cornstarch and then slowly drizzled in my beaten eggs. It was delicious! And super fast. Not counting the time it took to make the broth, I had my soup ready in 15 minutes. Any of you wanting quick and easy Chinese food (of the kind that reminds you of eating in a North American Chinese food restaurant), then I highly recommend that you try out¬†Garrett McCord’s Easy Egg Drop Soup.

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Mushroom Egg Drop Soup

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Soul-Crushing Exhaustion

I know I have alluded to it before, in my post Wrestling the Black Beast of Depression and Anxiety, but the exhaustion and fatigue I experience can be just as crippling as the mental anguish.

Today was not a very good day. After yesterday’s successes of getting social assistance lined up, I had hoped that today would be good. However, I have spent most of the day in bed, simply because I was so soul-crushing, bone-deep, exhausted. I’m not talking the kind of tired that a nap will help. I am talking the kind of exhaustion that takes all of your energy just to get up and go to the bathroom. So fatigued that making breakfast for myself meant I had to eat and then sleep for 2 hours. Have you ever been THAT tired?

Tonight, at 7pm, I crawled back into bed. Because simply holding my head up was more than I could handle. How sad is that? What’s even sadder is that I just lay there and cried. I cried because as much as I miss Grandma, I’m glad she’s not around to see me like this. And then I cried because I miss her. I cried because I feel like a nobody. A big, fat, nobody.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I want nothing more than to wake up one morning and find that my energy levels are back to normal. That I am my usual perky, optimistic self. That I can function like a normal human being, and have a job and leave the apartment.

But until that day arrives, I have to remember to be kind to myself. ¬†To tell myself it’s ok to have good days and bad days. That eventually the good days WILL outnumber the bad.

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On the Road to Recovery

Taking those First Steps

This morning I met with a caseworker for Ontario Works. Part of me felt like such a failure for having to ask for this help. And I was bracing myself for a humiliating, demeaning experience (my previous experience with this program was NOT a good one). However, today was so different, and I walked out of there feeling like I was actually getting a good start on the help I need.

I was approved for the maximum level of financial support, and while it’s not tons, it does cover my rent every month. I was also given an application for a Renfrew County Housing program, that if I qualify, will see me get a $275/month subsidy for my rent. And, I was also granted access to Arnprior’s Seniors at Home Transport service. Because I don’t drive, and my doctor is out of town, I can use their service to get to my medical appointments. Which means I no longer have to always make sure I have the $40 for the commuter bus.

Being Given some Time

My caseworker was also very understanding of the mental health issues I am currently experiencing. And she graciously granted me a 6 month deferment (as part of the program, I am required to participate in job search activities) so I can focus on me and my mental health, without worrying about the deadlines of finding a job.

As much as I didn’t want to get to this point, I am so grateful for the help. And the compassion I was shown today.

Mahogany Trees in Barbados

I know that at the end of this road lies my true self

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Recipe: Cocoa Brownies with Brown Butter Icing

Today I wanted brownies. Specifically, I wanted my cocoa brownies with brown butter icing. Except I didn’t have icing sugar. And I didn’t want to go out to buy any (I’m having a high anxiety day and I already have to go out tomorrow to meet a caseworker about my Ontario Works application). So, I decided to make my own. It’s really quite simple.

Icing sugar is simply granulated sugar processed into a fine powder. Store-bought icing sugar typically contains cornstarch to keep it from clumping. When you make your own, you can leave the cornstarch out if you’re going to use the sugar right away. Anyway, I put 1 cup of white granulated sugar into the food processor attachment of my immersion blender and whizzed until powdery.

I will confess, I didn’t grind the sugar up fine enough so my icing was a bit grainy. But I fixed it up by adding a bit of whipping cream and using my immersion blender. And now for the recipe.

Recipe: Cocoa Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Icing Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsps butter (NOT margarine)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1.5 tbsps milk (I used whipping cream)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F (Note: I set my oven to 325F as I find it bakes a bit hot. Plus I was using a glass pan). Line 9 inch square baking pan with foil; grease foil.
2. In a small bowl with wire whisk, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
3. In 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Stir in eggs, one at a time, until well blended; add vanilla. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in nuts, if using. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
4. Bake until toothpick inserted 2 inches from center comes out almost clean, about 25 minutes. Since I was using a glass pan, my brownies were done in 18 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
5. Once the brownies are cool, prepare your icing. In a small saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat until lightly browned (about 5 or 6 minutes). The butter will start to smell slightly nutty. Remove from heat and stir in icing sugar, milk, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.
5. Spread the icing evenly over the  brownie and then lift foil, with brownie, out of pan; peel foil away from sides. Cut into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 4 pieces.
Cocoa Brownie with Brown Butter Icing

Brownie Heaven: Cocoa Brownie with Brown Butter Icing

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My Plants make me Smile

After my post on Friday, I’ve been trying really hard to find, and do, things that make me smile. It’s not always easy (ok, it’s REALLY hard), but I’m trying.

Today is grey and rainy, but I did find something to smile about. And I want to share it with you. After Grandma died, her sister inherited Grandma’s Christmas cactus. Well, one of them at least. I’m not sure where the big one ended up. But Audrey got the small one. Back in the fall, I took a couple of cuttings from it, got them to root and I plunked them into a pot. Of course, I’ve been obsessively watching it ever since, hoping to see signs of well, life. This morning I noticed that two new leaves are appearing! I practically danced for joy!

New growth on my Christmas cactus

Look! Tiny new leaves have appeared!

I am really excited about these little leaves. Because they basically appeared overnight! I know they weren’t there yesterday.

My avocado plants are also doing well. I have two of them. The first one got really tall and scraggly, so I cut it back down to only a few inches. I’m hoping that will force growth from the bottom, so I get a bushier plant, rather than a tall tree. Well, it has growth too!

A new branch growing from the main stalk of an avocado plant

A new branch is starting to emerge!

I apologize for the blurriness of the photo. Weird light, not a photographer, all that jazz. But yay! New growth!

Lastly, here’s my second avocado plant. This one I pruned before it ever got leaves on the main stalk. So of course I worried that I’d killed it. But no! It lives!

New branch growth on an avocado plant

Is that a branch or are you just happy to see me?

And my spider plants in the background are just ticking along, happy as can be. My aloe is also doing well. My Purple Shamrock..well, it’s not dead. But it’s not really doing anything either. I keep hoping it will spread in the pot, but so far I just have the one piece, and it opens every morning and closes every night. Unfortunately my seeds didn’t survive. I’m really not good at starting things from seed. I may or may not try again.

 

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