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Weekending With Auburnchick

Y’all, this head thing is putting a crimp in my style as far as weekend fun goes.

Because I’m still having headaches, I’m being forced to lay low, which means NO beach, NO pool, and NOTHING that’s too loud.  When you live fifteen minutes from the beach, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

True to form, I’m making the most of my downtime.

Friday, I found myself without a headache; however, the trade off was that I’d gotten NO sleep the night before.

Nada.

None.

Bet that you can’t tell from the selfie, below.  I’m a girl who pulls up her big girl pants and does life anyway.

Thursday night, I’d taken one of my new pain pills – the one with codeine (to help me sleep) – but it also had caffeine in it (to ward off the headache).  Guess which ingredient my body took to like a flea on a dog?

Yep.

I was super relaxed, though, so at least I wasn’t exactly suffering all night.

It was strange, though, because I wasn’t really tired when I got up.  I took the dogs for a ride to get them out since I can’t walk them right now.

At first, they were suspicious, but when I didn’t make the usual turn for Petsmart, they relaxed.

Gambit’s face though 😀

I was down for the count by 2pm, though, and slept a hefty two and a half hours – in bed.  The dogs were more than happy to oblige me.

I felt a little better when I got up, so I got busy in the kitchen, preparing a few things I’d been wanting to try.

First up was 5-Ingredient Vegan Peanut Butter Pudding, a recipe by Minimalist Baker.

I had prepared the pudding the day before and had it chilling in the refrigerator for twenty four hours, as directed.  It was time to put the finishing touches on it.

First of all, I learned that waxed paper is the best way to go as opposed to using saran wrap when trying to prevent a film from forming on the top of puddings and custards.  I’ll remember that for next time.

I’d gone back and forth about the topping.  Although chocolate ganache strongly appealed to me, I wanted to try something new, so I pulled out the can of coconut cream I’d put in the refrigerator a few days before and got to work on a whipped topping (the recipe is linked in with the recipe above).

I’d purchased several cans of this at Trader Joe’s over Christmas break because we don’t have this store, and I had read that to successfully make whipped cream, you have to buy cans that don’t have guar gum, which is used as a stabilizer and prevents cream from being whipped up.

I’ve tried, in the past, to make this and never gotten it right.  I guess Friday was the day!

It was light and tasty.  Yum!

I added it to my pudding.

I showed restraint by putting it in the fridge because y’all, I hadn’t eaten dinner yet!

The next dish I prepared was really a “recipe.”  I’ll admit that I cheated a little.

I wanted to warm up the jackfruit I’d purchased earlier in the week.

I’ve been very intrigued by this newly-popular food item, and although I’ve found it sold in cans online, I haven’t been able to locate it in my local stores.

Prep was fairly easy, except for the pulling-apart thing (akin to pulling apart pork when making barbecue).

Although it’s a fruit, the texture is similar to pork.  I think it would be a great food for people who are making the transition to becoming vegetarians.

I added 1/8 of a cup to each slice of pizza I had leftover from the day before.

It was delicious!  I wound up ordering a pack of six cans of jackfruit (from Amazon) so I can make stuff like this from scratch and eliminate some of the unhealthy ingredients that’s in prepackaged food.  Oh yeah, and don’t be judging me, because I know the pizza wasn’t healthy either.  It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, so cut me some slack.  🙂

Because of my nap, I wasn’t tired that night.  Gambit was not impressed.

I slept in rather late on Saturday and quickly got dressed.  Chicky was on her way for a very brief stop enroute to see her guy.  She needed to drop a few things off.

I got to see her fur baby, Cali, who is always excited to visit us.  She’s never forgotten us after the summer that she and Chicky spent here when Chicky was still in college.

We put her in the backyard because we didn’t want to risk a less-than-friendly reception by our dogs.

Ahem.

We sent Chicky on her way with my rice cooker, a couple of homemade energy bars, and a bowl of peanut butter pudding (just so you know that I’m not a complete pig).

After she left, I made lunch for the Mr. – chicken fingers – his favorite.

Thank goodness for being a blogger who takes a lot of pictures because my memory is giving me tiny fits right now.  I blocked a project I’d finished in the wee hours of the morning.  I’ll have photos of that soon.

I didn’t go to bed too late, if you consider midnight acceptable.  It is still summer, after all.

I skipped church on Sunday because I was worried that the loud music would make my headache worse.  Although the headaches are less intense, they are constantly present, brewing beneath the surface.  I did get up, showered, dressed in street clothes, and adorned with makeup.

Go me.

Good thing too, because the Mr. called and asked if I wanted to go to Newk’s with some of our friends from church.  He picked me up, and we had a lovely time with two other couples.

Then, it was home again for the day where I rested, knit a LOT on a new project, listened to RHAP’s Big Brother updates (don’t be judging), and binged on Bosch, my latest Amazon Prime go-to show.

The Mr. and I watched the latest episode of Sharp Objects.  What a dark show; it’s so depressing!

While we watched, the Mr. tried, unsuccessfully, to ignore Pele as he ate a leftover hamburger patty.

Although I’m spending a lot of time at home these days, it’s been good for me and the dogs.

They love that they’re getting extra treats and lots of time in the yard.

We are getting so much quality time together, which is difficult during the school year.

Did you do anything exciting?  Can I live vicariously through you for a little while?  🙂

Lazy Day

Because I’d been up late Wednesday night, I slept in a bit on Thursday.

My heart was still hurting from the book I’d finished.

I took my time getting out of bed and hung out with the dogs all morning.  It was a beautiful day, and I should have gone to the pool, but mentally, I wasn’t into it.  I needed a bit of solitude.

I took a nap in my chair even though I’d slept late.  I was so tired.

Being sad will do that for you.

When I woke up, it was early afternoon.  The dogs were eager to get some fresh air.

I had been procrastinating my workout but was not about to give in and not do it, so I got dressed.

Just as I was about to get started, my phone rang.  A guy I’d called yesterday was on his way to take a look at my house.  We want to fix our gutters and get a door for our screened in porch.

The workout did not want to happen, y’all.

I persevered, though, and got it in after he left.

Day 72 – Done!

Then, I began preparing dinner for the hubby.  This is one of his new favorite dishes.

It’s a bit of a pain to put together, which is why I don’t make it that often.

The rest of my evening was chill as I blogged and watched television.

Sometimes, you just need a lazy day.

In my case, it’s been a summer of lazy days, but who’s judging (it better not be you!). 🙂

When a Book Makes You Cry

Do you remember the first book that made you cry?

I do.

It was Message in a Bottle, by Nicholas Sparks.  I read it when my family lived in Coral Springs.  My children were in elementary school, and I remember sitting up late one night in our front living room.  I was the only one awake.  The rest of the house was dark except for the small corner of the room where I’d set up shop for the evening.

Y’all, I had, to that point, read hundreds of books.  I was a voracious reader in my youth; the stories took me away from the angst of teenage-dom.

Up to that point, I’d been quite stoic.

Well, maybe the reason why I hadn’t cried was because I’d never met a writer who could break my heart the way that Sparks did with that book.

Oh, how I sobbed when I read the ending, quietly of course because keeping the kids asleep was kind of important.

I’m just going to be honest with you.

I don’t like watching movies or reading books that make me cry.  I don’t like the headache I get afterward, but I especially don’t like having my feelings trod upon.

That’s why I don’t watch movies or read books about animals . . . especially dogs (except that I did see Benji when I was a kid and whew, what an emotional roller coaster ride that was!).

A few years ago, I happened upon The Honest Truth, by Dan Gemeinhart.  I read it during summer break and cried as I sat at my kitchen table with that book in my hand.  I loved it so much that I read it aloud to my classes that year . . . and the year after . . . and the year after.

Every single time I read it to a class, I cried in exactly the same places even though I knew what was going to happen.

That’s a lot of crying.

Dan has such a way with words; his characters’ voices are childlike but so easy to connect with no matter the age of the reader.

I’m a member of Pernille Ripp’s Facebook group, where someone recently mentioned something about another book Dan had written, Good Dog.

He’s actually written four books (how have I not known this?).  Good Dog is his most recent novel.

I read a summary of the book on Amazon, and I had a little chat with myself.

“Don’t you dare buy this book.  You know you’re gonna cry.”

“Be quiet.  I need to read this so I can tell my students about it.”

“You don’t need this book in your classroom.  You already have books that your students love.”  (I think this may have been the Mr.’s voice arguing with me.  Ha!)

“But I don’t have this book, written by this author.  I know it’s gonna be good.”

“That may be true, but you don’t have to be in the know about every book.  Stop trying to be tough.”

“La la la la la.  I no hear you.”

Add to cart.

Purchase.

Done.

I couldn’t take my own advice.

The Mr. receives emails of all of the purchases on our Prime account, and he walked in from work saying, “What in the world are you doing?”

He knows me so well.

The book arrived a few days later.

Aubie and Molly’s collars in the background

Good Dog is the story of Brodie, a dog who has just died and is stuck between death and Forever.

Yeah.  That should have been enough to make me tuck my own tail and run.

Even that picture on the cover.

Sigh.

I prepared myself mentally, armed myself with Kleenex, and sat down to begin reading . .

The first two sentences made me cry.

I knew it was going to be a hard, hard read.

I read about Brodie getting used to where he wakes up, acquiring words in the process – words that, as a living dog, he did not possess.

Although it was told in short, simple sentences, this part of the book – the opening chapter – held me captive.

Brodie meets other dogs who explain what’s happened to him.  He can’t remember anything at first; memories come back to him very slowly.  However, what becomes clear fairly quickly is that he has to return to Before, where he was alive and with his boy.

Oh my gosh.  His boy.  Y’all, this part made me think of Rooster and his connection with Gambit.

Gambit never left Rooster’s side when Rooster lived at home.  Rooster was his person.  Fortunately, we still have Gambit with us, so that’s where the similarity to the story ends.

Mostly, what I thought of Molly, who you know I’m still grieving for.

This book, and the story of Brodie going back to find his boy, who he senses is in danger, made me smile in some parts, because Dan was wise enough to know that his readers would need some comedic relief to balance out the heavy stuff, and it made me hold my breath in other places.

It’s a book that made me root so hard for Brodie and the fur babies helping him, feel sorry for the bad dogs trying to stop him, and hope for some sort of happy ending that I knew wouldn’t be there because y’all, Brodie is dead.

Sigh.

I stayed up really late Wednesday night to finish the book because I knew that I would need a few hours of sleep afterward – the emotional price too steep for this tender heart.

The last chapter of the book completely broke my heart, and I tried really hard to cry quietly so I wouldn’t wake the Mr., who was sleeping in the other room.

I thought of Molly, and how I wish I could hug her one more time.  I wondered if she, like Brodie, had a hard time letting go of her person.

Now, don’t be thinking that I’m all emo and need medication.  I’m fine.  Really.  I just have my moments when remembering is so very hard and the missing is so very painful.

You can’t go almost eleven years with a breathing soul and not feel something when that bundle of happy is wrenched away.

Herein is the power of books – even books that make you cry.

Yes, there’s hurting and a whole lot of tears and big, puffy eyes.

There’s anger at the unfair twists and turns and the ugly parts where the bad is happening.

There’s even disappointment when things don’t turn out like you want them to.

A good book, one that makes you cry, should imitate life.  It should get you in your feelings and hurt you where you’re vulnerable.

That’s when the healing can happen.  Sometimes, when we can’t find the right words to match our sadness, a book comes along that does exactly that.

That is why I made myself read this book, even though I knew I’d be doing the ugly cry the entire way through . . .

Until the wee hours of the morning . . .

With a certain fur baby on my mind.

I love you Molly.  You were a good dog (most of the time), and I will never forget you.

“You.  Me.  Together.  Always.”

One Year Later

July 5, 2017 was a day I’d rather forget.

It was the day when I lost my beloved fur baby, Molly.

One year later, the pain is almost as unbearable as it was that tragic day.

One year later, I’m still wiping tears from my face as my thoughts frequently turn to her.

Some people might think it’s dumb to grieve so deeply over a dog, but she was so much more than that to me.

She was a member of my family – my little shadow – the neck that I hugged after a bad day.

There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think about her . . . when I don’t miss her, even with all of the quirks that she had.

Every time I lift my wrist to check the time, I see one of my favorite pictures of the two of us, taken in healthier and happier times.

Last night, as I began to hear firecrackers popping in the sky, I cried.  I couldn’t help but remember the way that Molly, so scared of loud noises, slept through them last year, another sign that her life was ebbing away.

One year later, my heart is still shattered over the loss of my best furry friend.

When Mischief is Afoot

My Pele . . . such a chill dog . . .

Yeah, rightttttt.

I think I’ve finally figured him out.

You see, he spends an awful lot of time sleeping.  I mean, it is a dog’s life, right?

But see, here’s what’s actually happening.

He’s plotting.

All kinds of evil.

Well, doggy evil, that is.

Take, for instance, Thursday afternoon.

Mondays and Thursdays are my long days because I go straight from school to physical therapy.  I usually don’t get home until 5:45 or so.

The Mr.’s schedule is usually flexible enough that he can come home during lunch to let the dogs out.

Pele has been staying in his crate during the day because he’s regressed to his puppy chewing days; however, we’d recently begun to leave him out because he had not been chewing things the times we’d accidentally left him out.

Now I can see that this was part of Pele’s grand plan.

We always said that he wasn’t the smartest cookie of the batch.

Boy has he had us fooled.

So, back to Thursday.

I got home around 6 and was greeted by a happy dog.

And this . . .

The Mr. had beat me home but had left this for me to find because, as you can see, it was quite unbelievable.

My 80-pound dog had somehow dragged the toilet paper holder across the house to his bed – no easy feat, I’m sure, and one I wish I had a video of.

Not only that, but he’d chewed up some very pretty cruise photos the Mr. and I had taken during our last trip.

Pele had to have climbed on my baker’s rack to get to the pictures.

Sigh.

The Mr. said that if he’d remembered that it was my long day, he would have put Pele in his crate at lunch.  Pele tends to get antsy / lonely in the afternoons.

Or should I say that he gets hungry.

Lesson learned.

Again.

Because we’re getting old, forgetful, or soft.

Fast forward to Sunday.

Rooster Facetimed us in what has become our weekly call.  I had him pulled up on my computer, and we were all about our boy.

That’s when Pele decided to implement Part B of his evil plan.

He knew we were distracted, so he eased into the kitchen.

Then, I heard something.

That something was the sound of his claws . . .

On my counter . . .

Snagging something from the cooling rack . . .

I had made the Mr. ten donuts.

He had eaten two.

That should have left seven.

Go ahead and count the ones you see in the picture.

Yep.  Seven.

Pele had smelled the peanut butter and honey and decided he needed deserved one for being such a good boy.

Ahem.

Meanwhile, we were yelling at Pele, and Rooster was asking, “What’s happening?”

He had a good laugh when we told him.

Do you think Pele felt remorse?

Not exactly.

Now, don’t go passing judgment, and don’t you dare try to tell me that he needs more attention.

This boy gets more than his fair share, that’s for sure.

He’s spoiled rotten.

Just like a toddler, that doesn’t seem to be enough.

While I’d like to think that we’ve managed his mischief, I think the opposite is true.  He’s managing to create mischief when we least expect it.

I highly suspect that he has more plans for us; he seems to be getting more impish with each passing year.

Heaven help us.

Catching Up 3.0

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve got some catching up to do, eh?  These past two weeks . . . if I could erase them, I would, but since I can’t, I guess I’ll go forth.

Despite my world being turned upside down, life has had to continue, albeit at a different pace.  Grief has a way of slowing a person down, to the point where some days, you’re doing good to put one foot in front of the other.  Thank heavens for friends who continue to check in with me to see how I’m doing.  I received a card and Amazon gift card from my precious friend, Kris.

She and I have done numerous online Bible studies together.  She has a heart of gold. ❤

So, back to the blogging . . .

To help me gauge where I last left off as far as blogging goes, I’m digging into my Flickr account.

Ugh.  Loads and loads of pictures, because that is something I’ve managed to keep up with . . . photographing and uploading tons of pictures so I can remember every moment of every day.

I can be extra that way.

I have been doing a crap-ton of reading . . .

Poolside and in the pool as well . . .

I must have read the second book right after.  Alas, but I didn’t take a picture.

I started on the Throne of Glass series (shout-out to Megan, who’s dying for me to get to the last book so we can discuss the characters).  I will not get to Once and for All until I finish this series.

Y’all, Throne of Glass is every bit as good as Megan promised.  I flew through the first book.

While I waited for the rest of the books in the series to arrive from Amazon, I started on the third book of the Storm Siren series . . .

I loved this series!  I have discovered that I like books that delve into magic powers.  Perhaps one day, I’ll finish the Game of Thrones series.  I’m in the middle of the second book and refuse to watch the series until I either finish or ever (I’ve heard it’s a bit graphic).

Meanwhile, my new books arrived . . .

All Photos-547

I do believe I hear angels sing when the Man in the Brown Truck delivers Amazon packages.

In the middle of reading all of the aforementioned books, I also participated in a Proverbs 31 online Bible study . . .

This book needs to be read by every single person.  We all tell ourselves lies that, gasp, we actually believe.  Jennifer’s wise words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and her gentle leading to scripture passages, help readers learn strategies to combat the negative crap that goes into our thought closets.  I’m going to be keeping this book close at hand to refer to.

I haven’t just been reading; I’ve also been working out.  The only day I missed was the one in which Molly passed away.  I couldn’t even pick up my arms that day.

I did my workout the next day . . . and cried throughout the entire program.

I have been keeping at it, though, and I’m starting to see results.

I’m currently doing Body Beast, another Beach Body program.  It’s a weight training video series, my favorite!

I really, really like it.  It’s definitely challenging, but the payoff has been worth it.

There are even weights incorporated into the cardio and ab workouts!!!!

Yesterday, when I was brushing my teeth, I randomly looked up and saw a little bit of arm muscle action going on.  The vain part of me was a teensy bit happy.

Please ignore the pink thing around my waist. It’s my Flip Belt, which I wear when I’m walking. It holds my phone and kleenex. I love it, but it’s not very fashionable.

Pele and Gambit have been sticking close to me since Molly passed away.  They don’t stray far even during my workouts.

I’m trying to walk at least three days a week.  I spread my walks out around leg day because my ankle still cannot handle too much at one time.

My pace isn’t great, but whatever.  My only competition is my brain and my bum ankle, both of which come out battered some days . . .

This was my ankle after a day of only doing a shoulder workout . . . no walk that day.

I keep trying to put into practice the lessons I learned during my Bible study . . . I am not defined by my circumstances.

The last person to finish a race is still a finisher, same as the person who came in first.

The fact that I’m getting out in the heat and humidity means I’m trying . . .

I read the following quote in my Bible study book:

I’m going to print this, laminate it, and display it prominently in my classroom as a reminder to my students and to myself.

One small snafu in my workout plans happened when the new ear buds the Mr. gave me for Christmas stopped working the DAY we left for his surgery.  I was not very happy; monkey wrenches and I do not get along.

I called the company because they were still under warranty, and the representative I talked to was extremely helpful as he explained the return policy.  After emailing him a copy of my receipt, he confirmed that my pair was still covered.  He then sent me a pre-paid mailing label to print out with detailed instructions on how to package them up.  I had them in the mail the day we got home from the hubby’s non-surgery.  I got a new pair in the mail on Monday . . .

I absolutely love these ear buds.  Even though I’d purchased an Apple watch a few weeks ago, it doesn’t do a good job tracking my heart rate when I lift weights.  I had done some research about this and discovered that the reason is that your blood vessels constrict when you work out, so it’s hard to keep a consistent and accurate heart rate on the watch.  The ear buds check your pulse through your ears.

Now, I will say that the power cut out on me three times yesterday when I was walking / working out, which was not good at all.  I’m going to track the issues and, if necessary, return them again.  Ugh.

One thing I learned while I didn’t have my ear buds was that I could still use the Record app, which is done by Under Armour.  My Apple watch connects to it via Bluetooth, so I can start workouts from either my phone or my watch (the app also installs on the watch) and track things there.  MyFitnessPal (my food app) receives the workout information from the Record app.  This has led me to believe that you can use the Record app with any Bluetooth enabled tracker.  Interesting, eh?  Oh, and I used my regular iPhone ear buds while I waited for the Under Armour ones to arrive, and I still got updates about my progress (calories and distance) from the Record app.  So cool!

One other thing I’ve been doing over here in the land of Auburnchick has been eating out with the Mr.

One day, he texted and asked about dinner.  Here’s what I sent him . . .

He wanted to know if I wanted to meet one of the guys he works with.  He even mentioned Mexican food, my favorite.

Thirty minutes later, the transformation was complete . . .

Forget the Today Show makeover.  All I needed was a straightener and my own makeup.

Last week, we visited an one of our favorite restaurants, Bonefish Grill.  We had not been there since I was in my boot . . . way back in January.  I wore a new shirt, which the Mr. had ordered for me.  Bonefish Grill has the kind of ambience you’d wear it to . . .

The back just makes this shirt . . .

What a lovely dinner too . . .

Don’t be hatin’

Edamame and the House Salad for me.  I can’t exactly remember what the Mr. got, but he was very happy.

There’s still more I could update you on, but this post is way too long already.  I’ll have to save the rest for another post (or two or three).

I Have This Hope

I was doing really good today and thought I was starting to turn a corner in the grieving process.

Then, I got in the car and headed out to run a couple of errands, turning on the radio as I left.

That’s when I heard this song . . .

And just like that, the floodgates opened up, with my tears keeping pace with the rain that started to come down outside.  (Coincidence or not?)

As I listened to the lyrics, I felt as though my heart was talking to God . . . the words echoing the thoughts and feelings I’ve had since last week.

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I’ve been a Christian since I was a teenager, and I’ve been through some hard times, so I know, with certainty, that there is a purpose for everything, and that my tears are never in vain.

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go.

Isn’t it hard not to live in fear when you experience one setback after another?  The Mr. and I have talked about this . . . how we dread losing another pet because of the pain we’ve been through with Aubie and, most recently, Molly’s passings.

Then, I heard the next verse . . .

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here?

As I heard the words, “Will you catch every tear,” I had a picture in my mind of a scene in the final Harry Potter movie.  In that scene, Snape has been dealt a fatal blow by Voldemort, and as he lay dying, Harry approaches him.  Snape and Harry had been at odds for years, and Snape had killed Dumbledore, so he was very much hated.  Yet, he tells Harry to get something to catch one of his tears.

Harry obeys, and he rushes to Dumbledore’s office, drops the tear into the Pensieve (a basin used for this purpose), and discovers a side of Snape that he didn’t know about before.

That scene takes a toll on my heartstrings on a regular day.  This afternoon, well, yeah.  It was brutal.  There is just so much wrapped into these four-plus minutes.

Think about the number of memories attached to each one of our tears.  Our tears tell the story of our lives.  If this story was painted, I envision it being done in watercolor.

Sometimes, there are happy tears, and we rejoice; other times we are sad, so we grieve.

Ultimately, when we examine the reasons for our tears, and if we are open to it, we can see purpose in the events that led to the tears.

Of course, if events have recently transpired, then we won’t necessarily understand the purpose.  That’s where faith comes in.

When Harry Potter sees Snape’s memories, he realizes that everything that Snape went through was because of his love for Harry’s mother and, ultimately, his love for Harry himself.

So it is that I imagine that the Lord is catching all of my tears and guarding them closely, aware that it is through them that my deepest joys and sorrows are expressed . . . especially when words fail me.

My tears are not in vain, and there is a purpose for my pain.  I don’t fully understand the reason, but I praise God that He knows, and that He will not let anything go to waste in my life.

This week, #findingjoyinthejourney has been tough, but I press on, thankful that God is my strength.

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