confessions of a coffee junkie

There was a time when I would go through the coffee shop drive through every day on my way to work and get a mocha. Sometimes I would also go to the coffee shop on campus in the afternoon and get another mocha. I had a $200/month coffee habit and thought nothing of it. I didn’t have the equipment to make what I wanted, or any knowledge of how to make it, so I happily forked out a sizeable amount of money to have someone else do it for me.

My daily habit finally came to a halt when my finances dried up some and there wasn’t near as much money in my budget for frivolous things like fancy coffee. But I didn’t want to give it up entirely. I mean honestly, coffee is like the nectar of the gods, I was not about to cut that out of the picture entirely.

I started experimenting with what I had on hand which amounted to pretty standard ground coffee from the grocery store, a traditional drip-style coffee pot, and various coffee creamer type things. Since I prefer cold coffee I tried different ways of chilling it, sweetening it, how much dairy stuff to add… You get the picture. But all of this in the name of saving some money, a noble cause indeed.

And then I realized something. By not having fancy coffee shop coffee every day it became an actual treat when I did have it.

I’ve continued to experiment and my current coffee routine involves making a large batch of cold brewed coffee using a Rumble Jar. I almost always use a flavored ground coffee and sweeten the whole batch with Splenda. I add 4C of unsweetened coconut milk and mix it all in a 2 gallon container. When I prepare the coffee to drink I typically add a shot of half & half.

These days I limit myself to the fancy coffee only once a week. But I try to really make it count. I’ve been getting different drinks to try to branch out a bit, and I have a new way of counting this in my budget. Coffee is actually much more expensive than when I was getting it every day, but only one drink a week is easier to absorb. It also makes it easier to tip the baristas. I always plan to spend $10 on my drink, so any change I get goes right into the tip jar.

no sympathy

I very clearly remember when the pandemic really hit my part of the world. We got enough warning at the university to help get the faculty ready to abruptly shift everything to be taught online and then that was it. The last day I actually got to work in my own office was March 20, 2020. I remember because that was the day before my birthday and it was the day everything shut down.

Lancelot and I both got the vaccine as soon as we were able to, more than a year after the bottom fell out of the world. I felt very fortunate to be able to do my part to protect not only myself but also those around me. We also both got booster shots as soon as we were able to, again happy to do so.

In our eyes this is nothing more “wicked” than a flu shot and we get those every year. I understand that a vaccine like this isn’t guaranteed protection, but they’ve proven time and time again that they help keep you out of the hospital if you do get COVID.

This week I’ve had two coworkers test positive, both are vaccinated and both had mild symptoms that are much like a nasty cold, but definitely not serious enough to be in the hospital. I feel bad that they’re sick, but I know they’ll get better.

By contrast I have a close friend who’s sister and brother in law believe the pandemic is a hoax and the vaccine is some government conspiracy, so they’re not vaccinated. They’re also both being transferred to the ICU this morning. I can’t bring myself to feel bad and at this point, their odds for leaving the hospital healthy are not great.

The moral of my story is that each of us has the ability to help end this pandemic. It’s taken a toll on our economies, our mental health, and our physical health. Damn near everything has changed and I truly don’t believe we’ll do the whole “return to normal” bullshit. That version of normal was kind of awful. But we get to start fresh with some stuff, make it better.

But we have to start by getting rid of The Rona.

Get the vaccine, get the booster, get your kids vaccinated, wash your hands, use that sanitizer stuff, wear a damn mask. And for fuck sake, if you’re sick just STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE.

Because here’s how this works – if you aren’t vaccinated and you die, I will have no sympathy for you at all. Seems to me like you brought that on yourself.

sometimes it’s just not worth trying to make sense of the nonsense in my brain

I’m generally a fairly organized person and I don’t have too much trouble staying on top of necessary tasks. It’s possible that the dental work plus the holiday last week has thrown me off. It’s possible that being on my feet too much and then having a cyst rupture has thrown me off. It’s possible that the 500lb bull I was trying to hold on to for 8 seconds has thrown me off. Wait…

Some days I just have more difficulty staying between the lines, so to speak. Today it appears that I have categorically denied the existence of the lines at all. And there you have it.

We had an amazing Thanksgiving with our friends. Good food and even better company is just a perfect combination. We all had so much fun that Lancelot and I decided that we’re hosting Christmas.

We actually got to have two Thanksgivings because the plans my mom and R had basically fell through, so I hosted the four of us here last night for a mostly traditional dinner. Again, good food and excellent company. The critters even mostly behaved.

We are not Black Friday shoppers, at least not the type that go out in public. I’m so against crowds anymore that we decided to have our groceries delivered. The only other shopping I did was also online and to support a friend of ours who does silversmithing. Her jewelry is amazing.

Even though Black Friday isn’t a thing for us, Small Business Saturday definitely is. We went to a local shop that sells local honey and my favorite local yarn shop. As a bonus, the yarn shop shares space with an art gallery so I managed to pick up a brass dragonfly in addition to yarn for a project I had picked out ahead of time.

We’ve also decided that we aren’t exchanging gifts this year, but we’ll give the money we would have spent to our local food bank. We certainly aren’t wealthy, but we’ve got more than many people do and I feel it’s vital to help since we’re able to.

Dog Blossom is not keen on having her picture taken, especially when L’s beard smells of turkey

I would take a little boredom right now, thanks…

Yesterday I had a root canal, the starting work of a crown for that tooth, and I think maybe a filling, I’m honestly not sure. I truly hate having dental work done and so about the only way to get me to tolerate it is to sedate the hell out of me. And that’s what they did.

I was in the chair all told about 5 hours. I remember sort of waking up at the end because my body ached, not my mouth. I kept trying to remove something from my face and my right arm was really sore. At any rate, I don’t really remember much of anything yesterday. My mom and Lancelot did a great job taking care of me.

And now here we are at the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow. One of my dear friends has offered to host so we’re bringing side dishes. I think every family has their own food traditions that go with the holidays. For my family we always had turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was always served with sausage dressing (same as stuffing but not cooked inside the bird), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, a cranberry Jell-o salad, and dill pickles stuffed with cream cheese.

Don’t ask cuz I don’t know.

What I do know is I could easily eat my body weight in that dressing. Last year I made extra and wrapped it up really good in an aluminum pan and tucked in the freezer. We ate it last week and it was still as good as the day I put it together.

This is not the recipe for the best dressing in the world, I’d have to look that up. This is a sort of recipe for the smoothie we’ve been drinking a lot lately. You’ll need 2 bananas, unsweetened coconut milk, and pineapple juice (the no sugar added kind). For that many bananas I typically use 1 1/2 C of the coconut milk and juice, but you can adjust to taste; just go for equal parts. Either blend all of that with ice or blend and pour over ice, depending on how big your blender is.

update on projects in the works, OR, when Erin comes clean about the many many things she’s trying to do

I would like to think that I’m better at reining in the number of projects I’m working on at one time, but let’s be honest, I am 100% not good at that at all. I typically love the projects but sometimes they bore me to tears and I feel like I need to get something new going like right this second. Having new yarn arrive the other day did nothing to help the situation. So here goes, a full accounting of what I’m working on…

Kitty amigurumi – this is for our new niece who should be born in January. It’s probably at least half done and it’s such a small project that I’m not sure why I just can’t get it finished.

Skewed shawl – I bought this cake of mohair yarn on an absolute whim and then could find just ONE pattern that uses it. And I’m not super excited about it.

Lace scarf – this is fine, but it’s boring. The yarn is soft, does this rainbow color block thing that’s lovely, but the pattern is just a two row repeat and the yarn is sock weight. It’s taking absolutely forever. But this is the project I take with me for things like doc visits when I know I’ll be spending some time waiting. It’s also good TV knitting.

Lotus cowl – sock weight yarn, lace, and beads, need I say more? I’m about 1/3 of the way done with this but unlike that lace scarf this is one that has to be done with plenty of solitude and quietness. Assuming I ever actually finish it this will be stunning.

Holiday gift – I’m not sure who all reads this blog so I’m going to play this safe and be super vague. The yarn is great, the pattern is great, but it’s a bit fussy. I would say I’m probably at least 1/3 of the way done and should have no trouble finishing by Christmas.

Rectangulum – this is the new kid. I had the pattern saved in my Ravelry library but didn’t have enough of any one sock yarn to make this the way I wanted to, at least not until that latest batch of yarn arrived. I’ll be making this with two balls of Louisa Harding’s Pittura in the “Sleeping Venus” colorway. This pattern also requires buttons and thanks to Mom I have a whole jar full. I found several colors I’ll be using and it’ll be perfect.

I’ve also got a jewelry project that I started ages ago that really should get finished, plus several more kits for jewelry, oh and some felting kits as well. Truly, I have enough project fodder to last at least the next year, probably longer. But I like to stay busy and I hate being bored.

Today I love… new knitting projects, I love overnight oats and how that means less fussing in the morning, I love that Dino (my friend’s kitty; I’m critter sitting this week) hung out with me yesterday for a bit, I love that Lancelot only has 2 shifts left, and I love that being hyper-organized really does work for me

Super basic knit cowl made with a single ball of Queensland Collection Perth yarn in the Tasmanian Bay colorway (rich jeweltones)

let it be

I’m still very excited about Lancelot only having FOUR MORE SHIFTS to work. Not that anyone would notice or anything. I’ve been trying to behave myself, I promise. And in that vein, my last order of yarn for the year arrived yesterday. It took everything I had not to just start a new project right then and there, especially since the one yarn came with a free pattern that looks lovely.

At any rate, I’m still knitting diligently on the last holiday gift that needs to be finished. There’s two other small-ish things I want to do, but if they don’t get done it’s not the end of the world. The gifts I had ordered have all been delivered so I’m not worried about that either. The only thing left to “ship” will be cards, assuming I decide to mail any. I suspect many of them will be delivered in person.

Had a bit of a conversation this morning with a friend at work about the upcoming holidays. She already has her trees up and decorated, and another friend has already turned on her holiday lights. I say good for them. We haven’t gotten that far yet, and I prefer to not turn anything on until the day after Thanksgiving, but I’m also of the opinion that if it makes my friends happy to have their stuff up and lit already then who am I to judge.

Garth will judge everyone and everything from his nap perch in a basket of clean, warm towels on top the dryer

so there I was, hip deep in yarn bands contemplating the virtues of bamboo needles versus metal when suddenly…

WTF?? This is most certainly not what I want

Garth is of the opinion, like most cats, that anywhere he plops down for a nap is his bed, and good luck telling him otherwise. He doesn’t share. He also has a tendency to find where Eric is napping and steal that spot from him by just being obnoxious until Eric gets up and leaves.

As I was sitting in my chair knitting on a relatively boring cowl, drinking my tea and watching the news this morning I realized that all of “this” – my morning routine – is likely going to change when Lancelot is working from home. But then, maybe it won’t. It got me thinking about routines and that maybe this is a perfect opportunity for me to re-evaluate some of mine to see if they really are still beneficial. I see the difference between “routine” and “rut” as pretty damn subtle, though highly significant.

It’s still going to be important for me to have consistent “go to bed / wake up” times because sleep is so crucial in managing my Bipolar. I feel like it’s also going to be important to have some time in the mornings to do a little knitting and enjoy my cup of tea. That’s almost more of a ritual at this point, and I feel that it does serve me exceptionally well.

Some of the things I do that feel sort of standard like menu planning and getting my outfits together for the week will certainly stay, though I’m hoping to be able to get L more involved with the menu because I think it would be great to get him more involved with cooking. (he has expressed an interest in this, so yay) I also anticipate some of the household chores will either stay the same or at least be pretty similar.

I honestly think the biggest difference will be with my nighttime routines. For a while I had been trying to shut down all of my electronics at 7pm and then pick up a book and read until 8pm when I went to bed. That lasted until I finished the book I was reading and sadly I have yet to get into a new book. I’m hoping that I can shift my bedtime until 9pm (since I won’t need to get up quite so early anymore) and then come up to my office at 8pm and read. I anticipate that time would allow L a little extra time in the evening to wind down how he prefers so that we both get better sleep. I hope anyway.

Today I love… hot tea with honey and cream, I love that there are no external meetings today so I can be a little extra casual, I love that today is chicken noodle soup day, I love that the cowl is coming out beautiful and I’m glad I decided to go with a non-pattern to let the beauty of the yarn shine through

time for a change

Change is easily one of the most nerve-wracking things in the entire universe. But when things aren’t right, or going well, it’s sometimes necessary. And sometimes the universe takes the choice out of your hands by tossing you in the middle of something like, oh I don’t know, a global fucking pandemic.

I would like to think that I handle changes fairly well. (maybe I don’t) I know that some situations are easier because the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” can be seen and determined to not be an oncoming freight train. But maybe it’s just because my mental illnesses have taught me that rolling with it is sometimes less of a challenge than fighting it.

Regardless, there are times when change is necessary and it has to be you who initiates it.

If you never ask the question, the answer will always be no.

Lancelot has worked at the same place, doing the same thing essentially, for 22 years. It’s finally gotten to him (I’ll spare you the gory details) and he’s put in his notice. This is scary for him but he told me yesterday that the time had come.

He’s worked an overnight shift the entire time we’ve known each other. We haven’t ever had more than 9 days in a row on the same schedule. I am beyond excited to finally get to spend more time with my husband.

More importantly, I’m excited for him to have the opportunity to have better sleep. I truly believe that sleep is the foundation of good health regardless of what’s going on with your mental health, and working the shift he has makes sleep trickier than usual. All I want is for him to be happy and healthy, and I feel that this is a huge step in that direction.

Today I love… changing things up, I love that the veggie curry and tofu I made for Meatless Monday turned out phenomenal, I love that the cowl I’m working on is striping in a delightful way, I love that I’m doing a workshop this afternoon and I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed doing those, and I love that waking up to critter snuggles will soon include waking up to my husband

spin it ’til you win it

I feel incredibly fortunate that since the pandemic started Lancelot and I have only had to be tested twice. The first time was prior to the full vaccine roll-out and that was because I had some other unpleasant virus that was not The Rona. The second time was on Friday because one of L’s coworkers, who is also fully vaccinated at this point and very careful, tested positive. We felt that the responsible thing to do, particularly given that both of us are fighting some kind of upper respiratory yuck, was to go for testing.

I don’t mind doing the responsible grown up thing at all, especially in a situation like this. We went for the tests and then went home, neither of us leaving the house until… well, we actually still haven’t – just give me a minute here.

We had seriously stocked up on groceries the weekend before so all we needed were a few bits for the week, figuring that if we did have The Rona we would be staying isolated for at least 7 days. Everything we needed could be ordered online and then delivered to the house that afternoon for a small fee that we agreed was worth it. So we settled in to wait.

Mitts!

Lancelot worked on a massive LEGO project he’s got going and I knit. A lot. I started those mitts on 11/3 and finished them on 11/6. It’s a pattern that I modified the hell out of and done with leftover yarn from a shawl. Good stuff. I also got some work done on a holiday gift, a lace scarf I’m making for me, and I started a very basic cowl.

We cooked together, we watched goofy TV together, and just kind of had a delightful extended weekend together. It was marred only by neither of us feeling particularly grand. But on Sunday we got the results and neither of us actually has The Rona, just nasty colds or something. L was scheduled to go back to work last night but there was some kind of fuck up with them needing the test results and he still kind of feels like shit so he stayed home (yay!).

And that is why we still haven’t left the house. I am 100% fine with that. Can’t say as I am super thrilled to be back to working today, but it is what it is. At least I look fabulous.

Edgar

It’s getting significantly cooler here now so I’ve decided it’s high time I start adding knit accessories back into my wardrobe. This is my version of the Edgar scarf made with much smaller needles and using Lang’s Mille Colori Baby. I only had the one skein of yarn and had purchased it just because the colors are appealing, so it was the perfect fit. I would recommend both the pattern and the yarn.

Right now I am sitting with my full-spectrum lamp trying to stay ahead of my seasonal affective disorder. The colder, darker months are hard for many of us and this is the best way I’ve found to help. My psychiatrist recommended this in part because you really can’t overdo it. I love that she combines the best of modern medicine with “remedies” that are based in science.

Today I love… not being seriously sick, I love that I finished a pair of fingerless mitts yesterday (that were started on Wednesday), I love that time in “quarantine” has meant a lot of knitting time for me, I love that last night’s dinner had 5 ingredients and required minimal effort and tasted phenomenal, and I love that the weather is getting cool enough to wear handknits more often

live it

The pressure cooker did not cooperate. It took SIX FUCKING TRIES to get it to work. I do think I finally figured it out and I will be making damn sure it doesn’t happen again. But then putting the leftovers away for Lancelot I misjudged the size of container I should have had and ended up with a Butter Chicken lava flow all over the counter. We shall not speak of this again.

This morning I got up, got my tea made, and picked up one of the previously set-aside projects and got a moderate amount of progress made. That felt really good. I’m debating between working on that again tonight and starting something new. I really think that part of what I need is a little knitting success, like a small-ish project I can finish in a few days. I think a pair of fingerless mitts with a simple cable up the back might do the trick.

I did manage to have some successes with work today. I didn’t manage to wipe out my to-do list for the day, but I got some significant pieces done and that felt good. There’s still plenty left to do, but again, I was in desperate need of some sense of accomplishment.

Have I mentioned how much I love making soup? Because I really fucking love making soup. Only once have I had it not come out very good, and that was my own damn fault. But I rarely use a recipe anymore, I just toss things in the pot and let them simmer. This is veggie beef soup that has onions, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnips, bell peppers, zucchini, and stew meat simmering in a bath of beef broth. And because I took the time to put it all together this morning and let it hang out all day, my dinner is already DONE!!!

Truly, what’s not to love?

Garth decided that Lancelot would make a fine napping spot earlier today. He’s very rarely a “lap kitty” so L did his very best not to move and disturb the little guy.

Find happiness where you can, and write it down so you can revisit it. I’ve been keeping a Gratitude Journal in a word processing file and trying to add to it every day. I manage to write something most days, which is good. I’ve long found this to be a solid addition to my regular routine, though the format has changed. When I was on Facebook I would post my entry every day as just a “post” so now that I’ve basically given up on that platform I keep it to myself. It’s still helpful for me to do, so I’ll keep doing it.