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I recently agreed to guest post a holiday craft post for Abby, and it went live late yesterday. If you have any interest in a recipe for chewy molasses-spice cookies, check it out!

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1. I gave John the recipe for dutch babies, and thus he made me breakfast. Delicious, and he gets all the credit! Chivalry is alive and well!

2. Purchased and/or planned out the last of our Christmas presents. Including an incredible wallet on Etsy for Cara that should match her purse. Can’t wait to see if she likes it. Also, I’m thinking Etsy is going to be a very, very slippery slope.

3. Used the turkey carcass that Mark gave us (Elizabeth, being vegetarian, was uninterested in keeping any turkey leftovers) to make an amazing Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Soup. I found the recipe on allrecipes.com, and let me tell you: it’s DELICIOUS! No extra salt or pepper or anything needed. Perfect as is. Though we did add some minced garlic. We’re already trying to figure out how to make it into a chicken curry soup. I’m thinking substitute chicken for turkey, half of the half-and-half for coconut milk, and add some curry powder and fish sauce. Should hopefully be equally amazing.

4. Made gallons of chili, also, and portioned out both soups into manageable portions. Enough for two meals for us, and several meals for Nate and Shelly, too, since we’ll take them half of each tomorrow. No sense in them having to worry about cooking meals when they have a new baby to occupy them! (Thanks again for the tip, Brat!)

5. Combed through all my recipes to come up with other things that make large portions so next weekend I can make them. I’m thinking chicken pot pie and enchiladas are next on the “bake and take” list.

Really, it was a productive yet fairly lazy Saturday. Just about perfect, especially when combined with wins by the Sharks hockey team and Stanford football team. Sadly, Arizona’s basketball team lost. Can’t have it all, I suppose.

Hope you’re having a great long weekend too!

John: Tell you what, I’ll make you a dutch baby for breakfast in the morning. Would that make you feel better?

Me: Yeah.

John: Or, even better, you could make it and we could pretend I did! They’re always better when you make them.

The chex mix is in the oven, the spiced nuts are ready to follow as soon as the chex mix is done, and the plans for tomorrow are set for stuffing and green beans and heading over to Elizabeth and Mark’s house for a grand Thanksgiving dinner.

Sadly (sort of), Nate and Shelly will not be joining us.

Because it looks like they’re going to be busy having a baby!!!!!! HUZZAH!!!!!!

I’m going to be a surrogate-auntie!!!!

I just planned out the next six-ish weeks at work, and it includes working about four of those six weekends. Including Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. Including Thursday this week. Not for long, but still.

I feel like I’ve been focusing so much on finishing up at the current job, and spending my free time either exercising or sleeping, that I haven’t had much time for myself lately. Probably why I’m also throwing posts together before collapsing in bed.

But here are some things I want to do, little things, when I have time time:

1. Finally write up my trip stories about Papua New Guinea, as well as Ecuador and the Galapagos.

2. Make an indentation on the stack of unread books on my bedside table. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of John’s comic books because the (a) don’t take brain power, and (b) I can read a few pages and put it down instead of getting sucked in and reading all night.

3. Work on some of the recipes that I’ve been reading and drooling over in the Fine Cooking that my parents send John for his birthday. They all look so fabulous and tasty, but the last thing I want to do when I get home at 7:45, sweaty from the gym and exhausted from the day, is start in on a big meal.

4. Find some new running routes, either by poking around online or by driving to some different locales and then just running. I know this kind of falls into exercising, but I’m thinking more in terms of the long, casual runs on the weekends. The ones that are about time and distance rather than speed, that are about getting out and enjoying the day rather than making it through a workout before the gym closes. Same goes for bike routes, though it’s getting cold so those are maybe a bit limited by weather, seeing as how they’re longer than a run.

5. This sounds silly, but catch up to where John is on a couple video games. He has a bunch, and I play a few of them, and it would be nice to, say, finish editions I and II so I can start on III, which looks awesome.

6. Declutter my house. It needs it and I need it. But then again, we’re looking to move in the next six months, so maybe I leave the decluttering for the packing and unpacking process? But I feel like I need some change in my living environment.

7. Spend some quality one-on-one time with various friends. For example, Cara. We see each other fairly often, but mostly with John and James in tow. It’d be nice to get in a girl’s night. Throw in Shelly and subtract one-third of the alcohol (she’s pregnant) and it’d be a pretty awesome time.

8. Go scuba dive for fun. I haven’t done this in Monterey in forever. It’s all been classes, which have their own rewards, but are not about me, underwater, blowing bubbles and making friends with fish.

9. Watch more hockey and college basketball. I’ve got to soak it all in for the next however many months before the summer drought (and baseball) settle in.

That’s it, off the top of my head, but I’m thinking I need to make some time to do some of this. Even if it maybe means a few less workouts. Or a few days longer at the current job. My mental health could probably use some or all of the above, just to make me feel happier and more centered and more grounded in my life.

Brat wrote about having soft boiled eggs for breakfast today, and it got me thinking about comfort foods.

I think of comfort foods as ones that make you nostalgic, bring back memories. Things that just make you feel better regardless of your day. Generally, easy things to make. Warm things.

Because that is definitely one of mine. Soft boil the eggs. Make toast with butter. Chop the toast up into little squares. Scoop the egg, runny yolk and all, over the eggs. Mix, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy. We actually do this for dinner far more often than we do it for breakfast. At the end of the day, that’s when it’s a comfort food. And it’s something that my family used to make every once in awhile, so it’s both nostalgic and feel-good.

Another one, and probably a general one, is chicken noodle soup. John would argue for tomato, but he can get his own blog if he wants to win that argument. Something about the savory and salt and warm. Throw in some biscuits or some crescent rolls or some bread that is warm and flaky and bread, and it’s perfect. Definitely a good meal on a cold night.

Arguably, when I’m sick, 99% of the time the only thing I want to eat is toast, lightly buttered. So maybe that’s another one.

Gingerbread, or ginger cookies. Holidays and home and spice. I have the best recipe for Molasses Spice cookies. We call them Mole Ass cookies. Delicious, and perfect for the holidays.

Applesauce, slightly heated, with cinnamon on top. Tastes good, smells good, makes me think of childhood.

Gooey, melty grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum. Always a feel good favorite.

Any others?

1. My cat, who was the biggest Mama’s Boy until a couple days ago, suddenly wants nothing more than to cuddle with John. Instead of me. In someways it’s a relief from his constant neediness the moment I sit down, but it’s also a bit sad. My baby doesn’t love me anymore!

2. Work is making me so angry these days, mostly because I’m spending a ton of time correcting/working on some stuff that theoretically the person I asked for help should have done. And they’re the sort of person who you can’t yell at, or even tell them you’re angry, because they’ll take it personally and take retribution. And they’re in a position to take retribution.

3. Brussel sprouts baked in a bit of olive oil, some pepper and some salt are delicious.

4. My grandmother-in-law is back in the hospital, but doing much better, and they aren’t going to send her anywhere for awhile. Glad they’re keeping an eye on her!

5. John is going to Las Vegas for the day Saturday. I’m going to see family. We both win, in very different ways.

6. I need a good savory stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving. My mom makes the best stuffing, but she says uses a different recipe every year. They all seem the same to me, and are so good.

7. I’ve been reading the comic Fable (highly recommended as a great comic story for adults), mixed in with the writings of Malcom Gladwell (interesting guy, great at getting a point across). Both a commentary on society in their own way. Both very good.

8. Tina Fey is really funny. Really, really, really funny.

9. In all the years I’ve bought running shoes, I’ve always bought them in some form of blue. My new ones are tangeriny-pinkish. I’m loving them.

10. (Geez, c’mon, I can get to 10, can’t I?) (Ummmmm…..) Peach tea is yummy.

11. Oh! Wait! Today officially opened the Stanford men’s basketball season, and Arizona opens tomorrow. Hockey and basketball are both back in my life–I love this time of year.

A husband, who last night, jokingly referred to the line from Shrek:

“And in the morning, I’m making waffles!”

And then this morning, as we enjoyed our first sips of fresh-made coffee (mmmm, Trader Joe’s coffeee!), turned to me and asked, perfectly seriously:

“Do you want blueberries in your waffles?”

Ahh, true love!

I know I haven’t been posting much, and sort of trivial things, but it’s because I’ve been figuring out how to deal with what I’ve been feeling–I figured working through it in my head was a lot better than rambling on forever here.

Also, I’ve been working on a paper a lot lately, so I’ve kind of not felt like writing anything else.

So, the truth is, I felt for awhile there like I was two people, one very happy and one not so happy.

I was given some advice awhile back–that I could choose to dwell and be unhappy and let things get to me, or I could move on and get over them and be happy with the way things were. Difficult advice to follow, to be sure, but I decided it was worth a shot.

So that is what I’ve been working on for the last month. I’ve really begun to feel like I can just be happy with myself and my life and my family and my friends and everything recently. But I also felt like if I tried to blog about it before I was ready, it’d come out all negative, which would defeat the purpose.

Now, though, I think I’m ready to go back to writing. And definitely ready to go back to being happy and self-confident and self-loving!

So here are some of the happy moments in the last month or so:

I got to help with an Advanced scuba class awhile back that Sydney took, and it was great to work with our staff and her. Plus, we had some cool dives. On our night dive, an otter came and hunted by the light of our lights. Sydney also found an octopus, which I’m hoping the otter did NOT find! I also saw my first eel, a monkey-faced eel, down in Carmel on the boat dive, which was pretty cool.

I threw myself a kick-ass enchilada birthday party, somewhat delayed to make room for the advanced class, and the weekend Sydney had her birthday party, and stuff going on at John’s work. We heated our little apartment up to toasty levels with three burners and the stove going, but it was an awesome evening.

I did a big presentation for my department, and it went well. I made it through the talk, answered all the questions fully (I hope), and was told afterwards by people that it was clear and concise and I did a good job.

I got to spend part of the past weekend with the lovely Julie and her adorable girl Ella, and even got a smile and a hug from her by the end of the day. (Specifically Ella, but Julie did smile and hug me, too!) There’s nothing quite like a baby’s smile to make all right with the world. Plus, it was great to hang out with Julie and her family! Now to just wait for the third member of her family to come visit…

And last, there’s a hummingbird nest in the bushes by our front door. The poor thing keeps dive bombing us whenever we come or go, and if we had another door, we’d use it. But in the meantime, it’s pretty cool to watch her, and I can’t wait for little hummingbird babies!

See, now how can life be dark and dreary when I’ve got all that going on?

No jinxing things, okay?

So, what else to mention…

Well, I’m still working on writing my paper, which is great fun, let me tell you! Despite not providing too many comments on my writing, my boss commented to me on Wednesday that if I’ve got a committee meeting coming up, I should try to have a final draft of my paper by this weekend. Yeeeaaahhh. I’m working on it. And progressing, theoretically.

Hrm, fun things to talk about…

Oh, my shoulder/neck is getting better! I was pain-free for nearly a week leading up to my appointment a week ago, then made the faulty decision to do some cardio kickboxing with minimal punching moves on Monday. And then proceeded to have mild neck pain for the rest of the week. Apparently there’s a difference between feeling fine and being fine!

And here I was, about to make diving plans with Sydney and whoever else was interested. D’oh! Maybe I can convince people to carry my gear into the water for me, so I don’t have to carry the weight.

But at my last doctor’s appointment on Friday, she said that despite the pain, I was less tense, or whatever she’s feeling in my back/neck/shoulder, than I had been, so things are progressing towards being okay despite my bad decision.

And John has been absolutely wonderful. He told me I was going to my club meeting Wednesday night, despite whether I wanted to or not. It was actually a great decision, and I met someone who might help me with finding a job in the next year or so, as well as someone who had some good information on finding a new place to live! Productive night! Then I went to dinner with Nate and Shelly and Rae and Aaron, who were great and distracting company.

Then, Thursday, John took me to see the Sharks game. Just so I wouldn’t be sitting at home worrying. Lovely boy, eh? The Sharks won, which was also good. And I reconnected with three old friends over the course of the day.

And yesterday, when a headache came out of nowhere and blindsided me, probably a result of the stress and worry of the week, he made me a lovely dinner and helped me relax.

Now I’m sitting at home, on the couch, drinking coffee and watching the Sharks game and theoretically working on my paper. Clearly that’s going well, as I’m writing this and not it! But I’m feeling good, and things (all of them) are well. That’s what counts, right?

Plus, I think there’s a chocolate banana cake recipe calling my name. Anyone want to come by for a taste???

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