Friday, October 30, 2015

Fresh start

In reference to the blog title, Cathy has NOT been Showing Up. Sometimes life just gets in the way and derails any and/or all good intentions. This is especially true when you have depression and anxiety issues, but things seem to be evening out now, thanks to time and prescription refills. (Remember that old Dow commercial: "Better living through chemistry"?) While I'm not thrilled that my personality is dependent on pharmaceuticals, at least there are drugs to help. Mental health is not the easiest subject to write about, but the last few weeks have been the inspiration for some good angst-ridden calligraphy. Along with meditation and exercise, calligraphy is calming to me. Me and Vincent, just two tortured artists. (Seriously Cathy, get over yourself.)

I could write pages about what's been going on in my head (scary thought), but if your brain chemistry has ever been out of balance, you know what I'm talking about. And you are not alone. If you're lucky enough to NOT have this happen to you, let me assure you that you know someone who is suffering.

If you are interested in reading about these issues by an insanely (see what I did there?) gifted author, run, don't walk, and pick up this book. You can also read her blog, The Bloggess.

you will literally lol, cry, and nod your head in understanding

look for it
I was thinking of the Harry Chapin song, "Dance Band on the Titanic" when I wrote this
a quote by one of my favorite authors, sent by my sweet DIL as a reminder that we are all in this together
this helps
So this weekend will be busy as I'm driving up to Minneapolis tomorrow to help Emmy move into her new apartment. Gail and Dan were so kind to open their home when she needed a sanctuary, but it's time to leave. I have the feeling that most of the boxes will be books - darn English teacher.

I get home on Tuesday, and then our Michigan kids show up on Thursday. We get to watch the little boys while their parents head over to Des Moines to talk about potential employment. The position is not until summer of 2017, and while I'm trying to not get my hopes up I would love for everyone to be in the same time zone. In the meantime, Nana and Papa will be wrangling a toddler and an almost-five-month-old. We are beyond lucky - and I totally mean that.

I'll be back next week, hopefully back on track. Get ready for boring pictures of toast and fruit or oatmeal for breakfasts.

Monday, September 7, 2015

What I did last summer, part 2

I guess I shouldn't write at night. When I posted yesterday, I forgot two major highlights of the summer! It turns out that turning 60 really isn't that bad.

Okay, a little background here: Dwight's birthday is in May, as is Mother's Day and our anniversary. My birthday and Father's Day is in June. Our poor kids - those are expensive months for them. So this year, we were asked to give them a few dates in May to keep open. We didn't know why. They chose May 17, and the only hint given us was that further instructions would arrive at noon. So my imagination was running wild. I knew the pregnant girl wouldn't be traveling that close to her due date, but I thought maybe a party? Like when they threw us a surprise 25th anniversary party and I didn't show up due to a little heat exhaustion. There were other even crazier thoughts running through my head - poor Dwight. He'll attest. Anyway, I woke up early, put on makeup, got dressed, and waited. Shortly before noon we got an email thanking us for being such good parents and grandparents (okay, maybe I cried when I read the email), and treating us to a lovely dinner downtown. And they encouraged us to have cocktails since a night at the Embassy Suites (walking distance from the restaurant) was included as well. Seriously, do we have the best kids ever or what? Thank you thank you thank you to Emily, Alex, Aly, Erin, and Tim.

it started with a little patio drinking in the Old Market

our dinner total

this was waiting for us in our hotel room when we got back from dinner

Then for surprise #2: about a month after that, Dwight asked if I'd like to go out for breakfast on Saturday. We actually do that fairly often in the winter (yes, we're THOSE people), but never in the summer because golf. They he suggested Summer Kitchen, a restaurant we like but don't go to for breakfast hardly ever anymore. I STILL wasn't suspicious. Tell me anything. I'll believe it. 

He was kind of poking around in the morning, and I - being the person who eats right away when I get up - was hungry. Finally he was ready to leave. Now we have going-out-for-breakfast guidelines: because we usually go so early, it's no makeup, no contacts, and really casual. Not jammy pants casual, but close. That day it was the shorts and t-shirt I had worn the day before, because I figured I'd be coming home, cleaning house and working in the garden, and then showering before our neighbors would be coming over for dinner. And we're really not alone in our casualness; as a matter of fact, I remarked to Dwight that very morning that if you brush your teeth, you're ahead of the breakfast game. 

We sat down, ordered, and while waiting for our food to arrive I was looking out the window at some people walking up and thought, "That guy looks like Tom" (our brother-in-law). Then I saw who he was with and realized that guy WAS Tom! Right then I'm pretty sure Dwight thought I was having a stroke because I literally could not talk - just stare and point. Tom and Jeanie from Chicago, and Gail from Minneapolis were walking into the restaurant! They had driven to Omaha the night before to surprise me for my birthday! They had stayed at a hotel right by the restaurant and had planned the whole thing with Dwight. Not only were Amy and Dennis coming over for dinner, but a few other friends as well. Dwight had bought all the liquor and snacks and hidden them from me, being glad that I never look in the basement fridge. So an impromptu (for me!) party happened! Jeanie's 60th is in a few years, so Gail and I have some time to plan.

LOVE these girls!!!!

 I'll close on a sad note, to say good-bye to our Ernie. We got him and his brother, Pete, in March of 2000 from the Humane Society. When I took them to the vet for their initial check-up, he figured they were around 3 months old, so we chose January 1, 2000 as their birthday. Our millennial kitties

Poor sweet Ernie had renal insufficiency and inflammatory bowel disease, and after several months we knew it was time. As hard as the decision was, I am so glad we can do that for our pets. It was a really peaceful end to a good kitty. We've had to do this before so we knew we would be with him at the end, but I saw this on PostSecret and it cemented that decision:

always stay

RIP, sweet Ernie
 That's it for now.

post signature

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I have a blog???

I have a blog? Well, not really, apparently, since it's been over seven months since I've posted. So here I am, dropping in, promising to write more regularly.

This year has really flown by, and I really have been writing all along - in my head. In case your ESP skills are a bit rusty, here are some highlights:

We have a new grandson, Sawyer Drake, born June 8th! He joins big brother Brody and dog Ella. We were so fortunate to be in Grand Rapids when the little peanut was born, and we got to meet Sawyer when he was only three hours old. The last baby I held who was that new was our youngest, Erin, in 1988! Sawyer is a beautiful blue-eyed redhead (like his Auntie Erin), and THIS redhead doesn't mind another one in the family. There is red hair on Aly's side of the family also, but I'm pretending it came from me.

three hours old 

stolen from Aly's instagram so you can see Sawyer's red hair
 A funny story on the day Sawyer was born: we were staying at the house taking care of Brody, and Alex texted us right away with a picture, which we showed to Brody. Dwight said, "Here's your baby brother," and Brody said, "Uh oh". No kidding. It's like he knew! He actually says "uh oh" quite a bit, but the timing was impeccable here!

uh oh
Brody and Papa - two buddies
In addition to our Michigan kids, we also got to see our Iowa kids several times, as Erin and Tim used us as a way-station to and from Colorado where they had a much-needed vacation. Our hotel is always open!

After ten years in Des Moines (fourteen if you count college), Emily is no longer one of our Iowa kids, as she moved to St. Paul this summer. Erin and I helped her clean her old apartment, for which she got a whopping $59 of her deposit back. For as long and as hard as we all worked, well, let's just say that a few choice words were spoken. 

So we've been traveling: a few trips to Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota. We've had bunches of company, played some golf (one of us more than the other, but the other is totally okay with that!), and I've been practicing calligraphy pretty much every day.

I was looking back at previous posts, and last June 4 I made a list of personal goals: 

1) Learn camera, take pictures. Let's just say that's a work in progress, but I'm having fun.

2) Finish Erin's and Tim's wedding album. Take my word for it - all done!

3) Practice calligraphy:

Practicing capital letters

Dixie Chicks song lyrics

for my favorite little boys
I love it when I can check things off my list! If you are on Instagram, follow me (cathyboll) if you're interested in more calligraphy. I have been learning so much from the calligraphy community there! I won't post a lot here. Maybe.

4) Blog regularly. Oops. Maybe this will be the start.

That's it for now. Talk to you later!

post signature

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

You can thank me later...

Seriously. No, srsly.

I can never pass up a chance to use this guy

Just pin these two tips right now to your "I can do it" Pinterest board.

Okay, #1:  I consider myself a pretty good cook - not gourmet by any means, but being a chemist, I can find my way around the kitchen. Except for one very basic technique: hard boiling eggs. Basic, easy-peasy, simple - right? Well, no. Mine used to be okay when I did it my mom's way, which was boiling them to death for 20 minutes. They peeled okay most of the time, but they were too hard and rubbery and had a green rim around the yolks. So then I started experimenting. For years. Big mistake. I used everyone's Never Fail Hard Boiled Egg recipe that I could find, and they all failed. I used salt in the water, baking soda in the water, putting the eggs in the water then starting to boil, putting the eggs in boiling water, ice water, timing differences, using old eggs - basically every permutation possible. And they all peeled horribly and looked like the surface of the moon:

So finally I quit following recipes and pulled bits and pieces from everything I learned and came up with my fool-proof (really!) recipe. And my eggs look like this every. single. time.


I bought these yesterday, so old eggs are not necessary. I use a bulletin board push pin to poke a hole in the wide end of the egg. Not sure if this is really necessary, but it's kind of fun and my motto is if it's not broke, don't fix it. Okay, use a large enough pot to hold the number of eggs you want to boil. I always make 11 eggs (they fit into my mason jar), and a 4.5 qt (I think) pot. A big one. Bring a bunch of water to a seriously rolling boil, sprinkle in some salt, and lower the cold eggs in using a slotted spoon. Start your timer for 13 minutes, then lower heat to about medium-low. You want a few bubbles, so maybe it's a high simmer? In the meantime, put a bunch of ice cubes in a large bowl and fill with water. You want a cold, cold, cold ice bath. After 13 minutes, use the slotted spoon and put the eggs in the ice bath to cool. When they are cold, crack and peel. And this is how I store them so we have a go-to snack:


Okay, hint #2. Totally unrelated as it has to do with plumbing, but maybe it will save you a service call. You know how when you start your disposal and it just grinds and grinds and water starts rising in the other side of the sink and you think oh shit? Well, this tip is from an actual plumber, who made a trip to our house years ago but didn't charge us because he was in the neighborhood anyway and I think felt sorry for me. I wrote it down then and taped it inside the cupboard below the sink. I've had to use it a few times since, and I had to use it the other week so thought I'd pass it on. The plumber said it creates more force than plunging.

Fill garbage disposal side with water.

Plug other side and hold down tight. The stopper will want to push up. Seriously, lean on it!

Turn on disposal.

And that's it!

You are welcome.
post signature

EDITED: I forgot to add that I sprinkle some salt in the water when I put it on to boil. Half a teaspoon or so. Again, not sure if it's necessary, but it works for me. Look at those beautiful hard boiled eggs!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Meal ideas - stop now if you're easily bored

Okay, this is a dull post, but I really need to clean up my photo albums on my phone, so here are all the meals I had in the past week. I took pictures of literally everything (well, almost everything) in order to post them on the TwoGrand app. I missed some wine, a gin and tonic or two, dinner at friends' house, lunch at Panera - that kind of stuff. But I did enter everything into My Fitness Pal, and while there might not be photographic evidence, I put them in TwoGrand also. 


PB gluten-free toast, apple, OJ/club soda

oatmeal with berries, almond/coconut milk, and I'm pretty sure there is some PB hiding in there

gluten-free Udi's, berries, OJ/club soda

regular PB toast, berries, HB egg, OJ/club soda

mmm...bacon, eggs, toast

scrambled eggs and mushrooms with sriracha, berries
Kashi Go-Lean Crunch with almond/coconut milk

 Some lunches:

big salad with all kinds of goodies (but not enough protein; I was starving by 2:30)

leftover turkey breast, snap peas, avocado

leftover chicken, leek and wild rice soup, avocado toast

Skinnytaste's oven "fried" pork chop, brusssels sprouts salad (same amount of food - size does matter!)
These were the two recipes I was excited about in my last post, and if you click the title, it will take you to the recipe. The pork chops were really good - like a fake shake-n-bake. They were even good left over the next day. (Several days later, not so much). The shredded brussels sprouts salad was quick and easy, and while Dwight liked it, it was a little too high-FODMAP-ey for my tummy, if you know what I mean... I can eat them cooked (small amount), but as I found out, not raw. 

beef stir-fry with spinach. I found this recipe in the latest Costco magazine - it may be a Weight Watcher recipe because the points are listed. It's basically a stir-fry, but served over lightly wilted spinach instead of rice. And it was really, really good!

soup from a mix my sister-in-law sent. it was really beyond delicious

pierogis with a dollop of greek yogurt, sauerkraut, roasted peppers

leftover pork chop, brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon (or, pork with a side of pork!)


banana split smoothie
comfort tea

this should technically be under "lunch" since it was what I had yesterday between breakfast and dinner. what can I say; I was in a baking mood

Now as a reward for reading all the way to the end, here is a screenshot of the current weather from one of my favorite apps, Authentic Weather. I even paid 99 cents for it because it makes me smile every. single. time.

I'm pretty sure it will be warmer next time I write. TTFN!
post signature