It’s been a minute..

So, it’s been a bit since I have been here. It took me a while and the use of resources to feel in a better place. Last time I wrote, I talked about my overwhelming anxiety. I have to be honest, it got sort of bad – I was managing but not well. I was doing what I needed to but it was extremely difficult. So, I reached out. I reached out to family, to friends. And finally, to an online therapist and psychiatrist, which has helped me a great deal. I highly recommend looking into this option if you are struggling – I have found that there are free resources online for those who need it. And I needed it. I have learned some new coping techniques, and I also have started a low dose medication as well. Between all of these methods, I am functioning much better. I still have low key anxiety, simmering below the surface like a dormant volcano, but it is not all the time all consuming. I have even been able to read again, and do some different projects at home.

Things we have been up to:

Wyatt had received a butterfly kit for his birthday with live caterpillars – so we now have some butterflies! It is too cold to release them still so we are caring for them until we can let them go. They are a bright spot in our days.

We made butter! We ran out and did not want to go to the store just for one item – but I had heavy whipping cream so, we made our own until we could get some from the store.

We have been taking our daily government sanctioned walks, and noticing all the springtime changes in our neighborhood.

I have been giving baby sourdough starters to a few people who have wanted them, from my own big guy, Yukon Cornelius. The one I gave my sister-in-law has gotten big and she has used Baby Yukon to make so many delicious looking baked goods!!

I have even started making some sort of daily routine and lesson plan – I have always dreamed of homeschooling and I guess I am getting my chance. So, I am trying to get organized! Nothing like being thrown right in though.

We planted seeds, and even planted a little surprise for my mom, or Grandma Bird as Wyatt calls her. My mom’s birthday may be spent in quarantine, and she is quarantining alone. We can’t see her because my husband’s job is essential and he still has to go out a few days a week – so we are planting her a surprise gift. We will have a video chat breakfast with her on Easter Sunday as well.

Speaking of video chats, we have been video chatting friends and family. What a great use of technology. I know it brings a smile to my little guy’s face.

Watching When Calls the Heart on Netflix. It is perfect for my frame of mind right now.

And that’s where we are right now. Little bit by little bit, day by day. Minute by minute sometimes. And thinking about all of you too, during this time!

Poking my head out

Hey all. I am going to be honest, I have been having a very difficult time lately with my anxiety. Like, really bad. I have had to cut myself off from social media and the news, and my husband and brother have been telling me what I need to know. But, last night something happened. I made dinner, then we watched an hour of television, then took Wyatt to our room where he has been sleeping with us (he has been having some episodes lately that could be seizures) and we watched another episode of Doc Martin while Wyatt slept. When the show was over, Billy got up to do some stuff before coming to bed. As I lay there though, I began to think I smelled gas. And sure enough, Billy checked and somehow the burner had been nudged over and had been releasing gas into the house probably since dinner. After an hour of airing out the house, with Wyatt wrapped up in blankets, we finally were rid of it, and Wyatt and I went back to bed, while Billy closed up again. As I lay there in bed this time, I realized that I was so anxious about what was happening in the world that I had failed to notice something very dangerous in my own home. Billy has a cold (no fever) and is congested and couldn’t smell it. Wyatt couldn’t tell me if he did notice. It was all up to me, and with my nerves, I somehow didn’t notice. Thank God that I did notice before we went to sleep. It really put things into a different perspective for me, that I need to slow down. It was a wake up call for sure.

I don’t know what I will be posting here in the coming weeks, or how often. I think I might post inspirational photos or quotes or poems for a while, with some of our life interposed.

I don’t want to talk about the thing that is happening, here though. I need to keep this a safe space for me. 🙂

Know that I am thinking of all of you who I talk to here as well.

Book Review: Girl Can’t Help It by Max Allan Collins

Goodreads Summary:

 A rock band’s reunion is looking more like a farewell tour in a captivating mystery by New York Times bestselling and award-winning crime master Max Allan Collins.

No sooner do Hot Rod and the Pistons reunite for their induction into the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, than two band members take a final bow. Both alleged suicides. A tragic way to go out. A bum way for one-hit wonders to be remembered. But it’s Labor Day weekend. The show must go on.

With replacements at the ready, the Pistons are back on home turf to headline the first ever Rock and Country Music Fest. Police Chief Krista Larson and her father, Keith, are there listening. And watching. Because they suspect there may be more to the band members’ untimely deaths than anyone else can see.

As Krista and Keith navigate the investigation, a dark picture of the band’s rocky history begins to take center stage. As betrayal, revenge, and blackmail start playing out in the present, the father-daughter team fear that this encore may be the band’s finale. 

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book!! I had another book that I was supposed to be reading, but kept gravitating back to this one instead. I felt like I was cheating on my other book, so I decided to let that one go to concentrate on this one. I was hooked and needed to know what was going to happen next!

Hot Rod and the Pistons are a local band that made it big, had its heyday, then faded away. They may have been gone but the certainly were not forgotten, as they had still had groupies and fans, as their induction into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert proved. The band hit the the stage with the same attitude and vigor as in their youth, and the crowd ate it up! This was the kick-off to their reunion tour, but unfortunately, two band members were not going to make it.

Krista Larson, chief of police in Galena, Iowa where the second death occurs, follows her suspicions with the help of her father, retired detective Keith Larson, who has consulted on high-profile cases before. Something seems off to them, not quite right. Keith had only just been with the second band member shortly before he died, and things are not adding up.

Their investigation navigates many obstacles, but behind the scenes there are.so.many.secrets! Blackmail, revenge, just general ugliness rearing its head. And the final conclusion – wow!

I enjoyed all the rock and roll references and scene in this book, and I loved the relationship between Keith and Krista, and their own personal landmines they had to navigate as well! This was a thrilling read that had me hooked from the start!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My Lumberjack’s Birthday Party

So… after a week of birthday celebrations, we finally had Wyatt’s big family party! I have been looking forward to this for a while now, and while it always seems like a great deal of coordinating, we pulled it off! We had some help though from our family, which was a wonderful help!

Wyatt loves to be outside in the woods, and he also loves pancakes – so I thought that a lumberjack party would be fun! With a March birthday too, it works with the maple sugaring season as well! We planned with our local metropark (where we spend quite a bit of time, and have for over 16 years we learned recently!) to have Wyatt’s birthday party there, and one of their interpreters would do a maple sugaring demonstration for the kids as part of the party. Maple syrup, pancake cake, woods and nature – the perfect recipe for my kiddo’s party!

The metropark did such a great job, seriously. Before we even got there, they had the tables arranged, coloring sheets that were lumberjack and maple syrup themed, and little trees set to mimic the woods outside. They even had a stump (that I think was lacquered in the 70s) set up with dry erase markers to wish Wyatt happy birthday on!

However, the weather was beautiful and sunny and 60 degrees! Last year on Wyatt’s birthday, we all drove around in a blizzard. This year, a gorgeous spring day. Not that we were complaining! But we did change the plan – Kevin the interpreter suggested a nature hike with the kids instead, and we quickly agreed! The sap wasn’t running for him despite great effort, so it made sense for us to take advantage of the weather. And the kids and adults both had a great time!! We learned about skunks, birds, beavers, trees, maple syrup, and even spotted a fairy door in the tree.

By the time we were done, everyone was hungry! For our lumberjack meal, we served chili, rice (my husband’s family always eats chili over rice – I never had it like that until I met him and it is GOOD), cornbread, and macaroni and cheese for the kids. We kept it simple but hearty, because the cake was the food star of the event…

It was more golden brown in person, and it was delicious!!! It was deliciously vanilla and the perfect texture.

Everyone ate their fill and talked and caught up with each other, and the kids played and played. The sun was shining, and it was just such a great couple of hours. My lumberjack had a fantastic time and by the time we got home needed a nap, the sign of a great day when you are five.

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Last week was such a great week – we went on a mini-vacation to Holland, MI for Wyatt’s fifth birthday, and we really needed the time away. It was pretty perfect! We had some good food, visited some new trails and nature center, and did some shopping. If only vacations could last longer right?

Read Last Week:

So I received Girl Can’t Help It from the author and started it last week – and I am loving it!! I hope to finish it up soon.

I can’t get into The Starless Sea – I have tried and failed and when you start avoiding reading because you really aren’t interested in the book you have, then you know it is time to quit. I am not going to quit forever on this book though – I am going to try again in the fall. Sometimes I do better with books depending on the season. So – I am just putting this on hold for a bit.

Reading This Week:

I’m going to finish up Girl Can’t Help It, then I have a few books on my nightstand and Kindle calling my name. I will probably start at least two of these three this week.

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library – I love a book that has offbeat and quirky characters!

Booked for Trouble – I enjoyed By Book or by Crook so much I need to keep reading! (Amazon..)

Wild Thoughts from Wild Places – I am doing pretty good reading nonfiction. I am slow but sure! Lol.

Posted Last Week:

Our Family UK Dinner

A Family Mini-Trip

Currently… March

Watching:

We are still watching Doc Martin. We finished up Locke and Key, which for me was a slow start but then I ended up loving it. We are also watching Frankie Drake and Hometown.

Our Family UK Dinner

A few months ago, my brother and his wife (Devin and Chrissy) had the great idea of having a big family get together, where we would all bring dishes that are themed around the UK. So, where did this idea start? When Chrissy made a figgy pudding for Christmas then realized too late that it needed a million years to cook, and wouldn’t be ready in time for dinner!

Like many Americans, our family loves to talk about our ancestry. I am second and third generation on my mother’s side, and their foodways have been kept pretty tightly in our family. My ancestry is all huddled up in a little corner of the world apparently.

Broken down, I am 48% Irish and Scottish, 33% English, Welsh, and Northwestern European, 10% French, 7% Italian, and 2% Norwegian. My ancestors didn’t seem to stray that far from home. Homebodies I guess, like me.

Anyway, back to dinner! We were all really excited about this get together. The winter is so long and this gave us something to really look forward to. And we had so many different dishes to try! We all ate so darn much! I have to apologize for a lack of photos, I took really poor food photos – I guess it is not my forte. I did take a few humorous ones….

Chrissy and Devin really put a lot of work into this gathering! They made Rumbledthumps, which was absolutely delicious and my very favorite dish of the day! They also made potato stovies, and yes, that figgy pudding!

Chrissy’s sister made Corned Beef and Cabbage, and her mother made a vegetarian Irish Stew. My cousin worked hard on Yorkshire Pudding, which was a huge undertaking in our family, as my grandmother was the only one to really make it for almost our whole lives, and none of us have been able to replicate it since. He also made Irish Soda Bread, his signature bake. Chrissy’s father made an Irish Lentil soup, and my Uncle Art made meat pies. My mom chimed in with butter tarts and a custard pie, and Billy and I? Well ours failed. We were the weakest link! I had planned on making Cullen Skink, but could not find smoked haddock anywhere! I wasn’t sure if I could substitute another type of smoked fish, so I was scrambling at the end to find a different dish. I thought of Colcannon, but that is way too similar to rumbledthumps (which has the better name to be sure!). I thought of a beef stew, but felt like there were already a lot of stews and then the corned beef as well. So we ended up making Scottish macaroni pies – are these really a thing? I decided on them eventually because I thought maybe the kids would eat them.

We looked at old photos, and listened to bagpipe music – a fixture in our family, as my mom and aunt were Highland Dancers and my uncle was the drum major in St. Andrew’s Band in Detroit.

We had some drinks and some laughs and all in all, it was a wonderful way to spend a February evening, close together as a family, enjoying food, and reminiscing. I am looking forward to next year – and planning my dish now!

A Family Mini-Trip

Way back in December, I spur of the moment booked a mini-trip to celebrate Wyatt’s fifth birthday. We always go hiking for his birthday and visit a new nature center, it is a tradition – so for number 5 we decided to take the tradition out on the road. We head out west, to the west side of the state, at least once a year and so that is where we chose to roam this time.

We left early Sunday morning, and pulled into Saugatuck Brewery right around lunchtime, which was perfect timing. We had planned to eat lunch then hit the antique store that was right there as well, before heading to our airbnb. My brother has been telling me to eat at the Saugatuck Brewery for years and I finally made it, and now all I can think about is the macaroni and cheese I had! It was so good, rich and creamy and cheesy! I will dream about that macaroni until I get there again. Mr. Big Shot also loved his lunch, and ate like a machine! Billy and I also enjoyed two of their brews while we were at it; I had the Kolsch, he had the IPA, and we both thought they were pretty darn good!

After eating we explored the antique store, where I found a bunch of things I wanted but that would not fit into our car this time around – a vintage oak filing cabinet, a drafting table from 1953… but I had to leave them behind for someone else. I also found a great copy of Little House in the Big Woods but didn’t pick it up. By the time we were done prowling the store, it was time to check in to our house!

I had booked the most charming house in Holland, and I was so excited to get there and see it in person! We stayed at Cobblestone Cottage and it was a great experience! So clean, my number one requirement for staying anywhere! It was adorable and the kitchen was a dream. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about staying in the area. We bummed around a little, letting Wyatt get some energy out, including playing the piano which he loved, then just did a little exploring the neighborhood.

The next morning was Wyatt’s birthday and we were really looking forward to getting outside together. The day was so perfect, sunny and warm, but first – presents! He loved all of his new things, but really loved the board game we gave to him, and wanted to play it immediately – Hoot Owl Hoot! It is so cute and teaches cooperation as there are no winners or losers, you play as a team. I thought it was a great game for a first board game!

After a quick round we headed off to find doughnuts and then to hit the trails at the Outdoor Discovery Center. Which was amazing!! They had so many different trails to wander along, and really great learning experiences and stops along the way – a Birds of Prey Center, a replication of an Anishinaabe Summer Camp, two great play areas, and the Nature Center itself. You could easily spend hours there with your child. And we did spend quite a bit of time there!

By the time we left Wyatt was exhausted so we headed back to our house for a bit. We lunched on pepperoni rolls that we picked up from the best bakery ever and watched a little tv, relaxing while Wyatt napped. When he got up, we shopped around downtown and had ice cream for dinner. Because I am that kind of mom.

We were leaving pretty early Tuesday morning, planning on getting in another hike closer to home, but still hit the bakery, drove to the beach and looked at Lake Michigan, and then did some additional shopping before leaving. And I even bought myself a few things! A boy scout mug and an old field guide for trees, that had a beautiful inscription in it.

It was the perfect low-key kind of trip we all needed. One to reconnect, disconnect, and just relax and be together. We loved the area, and even half-joked about moving out that way – I mean, we already have a punch card for the bakery, so we might as well! I am so glad that we went on this trip – the only thing that would have made it more perfect would have been to stay longer!