Things to be Thankful For

As we wrap up the Thanksgiving festivities and rev up for the holiday season, I think it’s important to spend some time reflecting on friends and family.  In an unfortunate turn of events, my Dad’s whole family had to gather together and bury my Grandpa.  Maybe he had it all planned out that way, because traditionally we wouldn’t all be together as a family for Thanksgiving, especially since everyone has gotten older and most of the grandkids have started families of their own.

We have always been fortunate to be able to take family vacations.  We’ve been to Alaska, Europe, Disney World, and San Francisco.  However, one vacation destination that has always been the go to has been Williamsburg Virginia.  I’m not sure why we ever started going there, I just know that now when we “need” to go on vacation, if no where else is decided, Williamsburg is really the answer.

In celebration of Thanksgiving, and being thankful for family, and because Williamsburg always feels particularly festive….I present to you:

Williamsburg Through the Decades

There are no photos of infant Mishappenings enjoying the colonial capital of 18th century Virginia.  The camera or the film didn’t cooperate and all the pictures came out black.  My very first vacation, and there’s no evidence I was even there!

These photos were from a trip we made in 1992.  There are still plenty of overly friendly and carefree squirrels and gingerbread cookies to be had, and it’s good to know that sometimes things don’t change.  Somethings, like traveling with our baby blankets, have changed.  Also, luckily for me, my fashion choices have changed….some…..

 

1997 was the trip of hats and bonnets.  When enjoying the capital city, it’s important to be fashionable and on trend.

 

2000:  Someone was still trying to embrace colonial fashions, I had maybe outgrown that need by now.

img_7380

 

We went in December of 2004 shortly after my birthday and were there for the start of the Christmas season.  I had just been given this sweater for my birthday and as you can see I was quite please with it.  This was also my phase where I was pretty convinced that my green hi-top Converse All-Stars went perfectly with any and all outfits!

Sadly, the gentlemen in the photo passed away a few years ago, but he had been a familiar presence on all our previous trips.

 

2009 was the last time we all travelled to the colonial city as a whole family.  I believe it was in the spring.  It was the first time that I had to fly separately and meet my family there because I was away at college.  I also recall that I had to fly with several text books in my suitcase because lab reports don’t stop being due because you’re on vacation!

 

 

2016: Our first big family trip without Dad.  We decided that something familiar might be nice, so we headed back to Williamsburg.

 

Other things that never change are my love of the apothecary shop, and the need for my parents to take slightly posed photos of me in the shop.  I present to you the difference that 16 years can make!  I think it’s important to note that that jacket still fits me….so I’ve been basically this same size my entire life!

 

Another change is they now have beer….and I’m old enough to have it!  

Colonial Williamsburg now offers a selection of beers that you can purchase throughout the historic area.  We also tried out a modern restaurant right on the edge of the Historic District that had one of the largest beer menus I’ve ever seen!  If you’re ever in town I would recommend the DoG Street Pub.  It’s loud but the building is a nice blend of colonial and modern, and the food was delicious and huge in portion.  Easy to find right on the corner of Duke of Gloucester street between the Historic District and the campus of William and Mary.

If you aren’t into beer and American fare, then Sal’s by Victor needs to by on your to do list.  Again, I’m not sure how we ever found it, but it was a favorite of Daddy Mishappenings and we ate there often.  In fact, we ate there twice on our most recent trip….because why mess with a good thing!?

img_7094

Yes….I ate the whole thing……TWICE….on our trip!

 

We don’t always get along, but when we do…we take snapchat pictures and embarrass my mother in public.  The face swap photo is probably hands down the worst picture of both of us that has ever….and probably will ever exist!

 

 

These are just some pictures of my favorite places and spaces around the Historic District for your viewing pleasure.

img_7137

Slicing and Dicing the Blues

I like cooking.  I might even love cooking, but it’s sometimes a hard thing to wrangle when you’re single.  Yes, I could come home from work every night and whip myself up something yummy, and yes I would probably be happier for it in the long run.  But, a single person doesn’t need to have a fridge that’s over flowing with food all the time.  This is why I’ve rather come to enjoy hosting parties and holidays at my house.  It gives me the ability to go to town in the kitchen without having to deal with all the fruits of my labor.

In an attempt to combat the huge quantities of food I sometimes manage to create, but mostly because Lil Sis had a 50% off coupon….I decided to give Blue Apron a whirl.  If you aren’t familiar, they are a food delivery company where you select the meals you’d like every week and they ship all the ingredients to you in a single box.

 

I HATED IT!

Okay, hate is maybe a strong way to put it….but I didn’t really enjoy the process or understand the point.  Yes, it was nice that they shipped only two portions of each meal, yes it was nice to try some new recipes with spices you wouldn’t normally purchase, yes all the meals are sent with very specific instructions to assist even the worst at home chefs, but overall the meals weren’t all that great and the whole process left quite a bit to be desired.

The way I see it, part of the cooking process is going to the store and picking ingredients.  I know that Blue Apron is shipping out thousands and thousands of boxes each week so they don’t have time or the ability to pick through all the veggies and check everything, but that’s the perk of being able to go pick your own.  I received wilted green beans, zucchini with a big, mushy portion, and herbs that were looking slightly past their peak.

Speaking of herbs, I love using fresh herbs, garlic, and ginger….but all are much more convenient to purchase in pre-minced varieties.  I might love to cook, but I don’t enjoy mincing garlic and peeling ginger.  Although, there is something satisfying about whacking cloves with your knife for easier peeling…….I’m not sure that people who aren’t familiar with cooking often would have an easy or quick time of making up any of these recipes.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we…..Week 1 meals

 

img_6979

I’m not sure that my salmon really ended up crispy….although I mean a filet of salmon is always delicious.  The major issue I had with this dish was the orzo salad.  Now….I generally like everything that went into the salad:

  • Orzo
  • Green Beans….which arrived wilted and sad 😦
  • Garlic
  • Cucumber
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Lemon
  • Sour Cream

However, as you’ll notice, my salad ended up much…creamier….than the salad they have pictured.  The first few bites of the salad seemed okay, but the longer it sat the worse and worse it got.  I actually didn’t even eat the second portion of the salad.  I’m not sure if something happened to the sour cream during shipping….or if the addition of the lemon juice caused it it curdle….I just know it became essentially inedible.  Needless to say, I wasn’t off to a great start.

 

img_7016

These tacos….specifically the spices used on the meat…where quite tasty.  Sour cream was included to top the tacos, and I skipped it to avoid the same disaster as the first meal.  I might make a variation of these in the crock pot sometime using like a pork roast instead of the sausage.  The sausage was a bit greasy…as sausage is, but I think a pulled pork style taco would be delicious!  Also, the quick slaw was easy and had good flavor.  Overall, this wasn’t a bad recipe which could be improved on and added to my standard rotation of cooking.

 

img_7001

A perfectly fine dish.  Wasn’t amazing….wasn’t bad….could have probably used more spice and zip, but I used all the ancho chile powder that had been shipped.  Again, I’m not sure that getting corn off of the cob is something that everyone knows how to accomplish….so I’m not sure that “Cut the corn kernels off the cob; discard the cob” is really going to be enough of an instruction for anyone trying to use Blue Apron to learn how to cook at home.  Even for those of us who know how to accomplish the task….it’s messy!  Again, I made the lime crema…..but didn’t use it on the dish.  I might whip this up again, I might not……but it’s good to have recipe options laying around for when you need to spice up the routine.

I didn’t mean to receive an additional week of meals…especially at full price….which is quite a price honestly, $60!!  

But, I didn’t get it cancelled in time, so….on to Week 2 meals!

img_7040

img_7053

I don’t love mushrooms…..I don’t mind the flavor, it’s the texture that really gets to me.  A bit like eating rubber bands if I’m honest.  Luckily, the large slices were easy to pick out and around.  Again, this was a nice little dish that I might try again, maybe using a different style of noodle.  The main perk I got from Blue Apron was the ability to try spices like togarashi without having to commit to buying a huge quantity of it.  We’ve all done that…..found a recipe that sounds good and bought a dozen random ingredients only to discover that we hate it.  Then the spices just sit around, and we know we will probably never use again.  The quick pickles were crunchy and well spiced.  I’m also a huge fan of cooked celery and radishes, so that didn’t hurt this recipe at all either!

img_7064

Sorry for the less than fancy picture…I made this late one night and just split it into portions for lunches.  It’s just a fancy version of breaded, fried chicken and a warm potato salad.  This potato salad I might make again.  Actually, these were the first brussels sprouts I think I’d ever had!!  Again, it had celery which I do really enjoy.

Much like the blackened chicken with corn salsa…..it was good, not great.  I will probably keep it around just to add some variety to my life.  I was briefly debating adding this potato salad to my Thanksgiving spread, but I’m not hosting this year due to some family shuffling around.

img_7081

My cousin and I made these sandwiches as part of our booze and crafting weekend.  The idea of a turnip sandwich was good, but I’m not sure they worked out all that well.  Again, we skipped the crema, because by now I’ve just realized there’s something always a bit off with the creams they send.  Therefore, there was no goo keeping the sandwiches together, so when we flipped them in the pan everything just sorta exploded out.  The slaw was basically just dressed in oil and lime juice.  It was light and fresh, but there wasn’t much to it.  We both ended up adding some shredded cheese onto the sandwiches which added the creamy, gooey-ness we both thought they were missing.  I’m not sure I’d make these again, but if I saw it on a menu I might order it.  It was sorta a bland ending to what was a disappointing food weekend of crafting, bitching, and booze with my cousin!

The other thing I find particularly annoying about Blue Apron is the inability to select any 3 of the 6 meals that they offer each week.  There are usually 3 meat options and 3 vegetarian options.  However, you can’t mix and match any of the recipes, which as someone who eats both vegetarian and non vegetarian food, I find annoying.

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-10-56-23-am

The two combinations you can’t see are Beef and Potato Latkes and Harissa Chicken Skewers.  I just find it annoying the I couldn’t have latkes and burgers.  I’m not sure why that is.  There is actually an option to select that you eat strictly vegetarian and then I’m sure they adjust the given recipes accordingly.  Frankly, any omnivore, the meal plan I selected, who wants to try a veggie burger isn’t going to care if the veggies get shipped along with the meat to make the latkes.

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-10-56-57-am

Enter a caption

Heaven forbid you would want to have spicy shrimp linguine and squash curry in the same week!!!  

It’s just stupid little things like this that annoy me, but when the options are either paying $60 a week to have limited options, or going to the store, probably spending less money, and being able to eat anything in any combination that I want…..the answer seems pretty clear to me.  It’s especially easy because the major grocery store here now offers online shopping.  You can either schedule a time to go collect your preselected food from the store, or they also offer delivery options which can be free if your total bill is large enough.  I don’t use these services as I don’t at all mind grocery shopping and I have plenty of time to be doing it, but they are offered and basically serve as a DIY Blue Apron for those who use them.

Maybe Everyone Just Needs to Laugh a Little

It seems to me that everyone has been very on edge lately…..

I’m not going to get into the election, politics are not at all my jam as those who know me best are well acquainted with.  I will say that I think it’s incredibly sad to know that I live in a country that is so divided on so many issues.  I don’t know how we’ve come to reach such a low point, but I do know that this isn’t the America I grew up in, and it hopefully isn’t the America which will continue.

Remembering the Golden Rule would go a long way in repairing relationships.  Just treat everyone with the respect and dignity you’d like to be treated with, regardless of creed, ethnicity, or opinions.

Anyway……enough about all that.  I decided that this week I might just compile pictures, videos,….things that make me giggle.  I think we could all use a break from serious things, and even if it’s just for a few minutes, hopefully these things make you smile.  They aren’t intended to be anything else other than a good laugh.  I’m aware that some of the people have made political videos which you may or may not agree with, but just maybe ignore them for today and instead appreciate them for their abilities to make us laugh and smile.

Giggles never hurt anyone after all!!

“I’ll say it right to his face in cursive, cuz he knows if he comes over I’ll scissor kick his gizzard and break his karate artery!”

—IDK what this means, but it might be my favorite quote ever!

img_7338

There’s nothing else to say really!

Apologies……this next one is a little heavy on the swearing, and slightly inappropriate….but I find it hilarious…..mostly because of the Tim McGraw section….but you need the rest to have that make sense.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FUpchurchThaRedneck%2Fvideos%2F1801994426685868%2F&show_text=0&width=560

“Don’t….call me Bearclaw…..”

The prayer that every good Catholic child knows….but with a twist….and maybe a stalk of celery!

Please do yourself a huge favor, go to Netflix, and watch all of Ali Wong’s special Baby Cobra!  I could probably watch it everyday and not get sick of it honestly!  I had sorta a tricky time finding a good clip of her that wasn’t blatantly pirated off someone’s TV….but just trust me, you need her in your life!

In honor of Veteran’s Day being last week, I thought I would add a little military flare to the post.  Dogs walking in new boots is never not hilarious to me, and it’s important that we remember and honor all those who work to keep us safe and secure, not just the two legged ones!

If none of these have made you laugh, then IDK there is nothing I can probably do for you to make you smile.  If I haven’t made you smile….then I’ll just leave you with this…..

img_7331

THE DOCTOR IS ALWAYS RIGHT!

Choose Your Own Series of Unfortunate Events

Several events recently have forced me to wonder how much say we actually have in our own lives.  I know that everyone always says, “You’re in charge of what happens to you!” and “Your future is always in your own hands!”……but is it really?!  Lately, it feels like lots of things get decided for me, and I just have to react to them.  That isn’t to mean I don’t have a choice, it just seems like the choices we’re given in life are usually slightly unfavorable.

For example…..health insurance……any way you slice it, it’s expensive and frankly not that great.  Either you have to pay a million dollars a month in premiums, or pay a million dollar fine if you choose not to carry coverage.  Technically, you have a choice, but the options aren’t great.  It can be even worse if your insurance dictates what doctors you can and can’t see.  That’s what happened in my state because the two large hospitals are in charge of the insurance.  They decided they couldn’t find a “favorable” choice with each other, so they decided to pass the crappiness on to the general population.  But!!!  A big wig at one of the hospitals was interviewed by a news channel and was quick to remind us that we have several amazing choices!

  • We can switch doctors so that we can pay in-network amounts……
  • We can pay out of network prices to keep our physicians who used to be covered under the insurance plans……..OR and the “option we obviously don’t prefer”
  • We can try and find insurance through someone else

I get that these are technically all options, and that I do have a choice….but someone needs to explain to me how any of these are good options for me, because I’m just not seeing it.  I was so excited this year to not have to tinker with my insurance, but that’s all gone down the drain now!

img_7314

When you feel like you’re finally starting to get a handle on life.  You can hold your head up, you’re styling, and your ducks are finally in a row….

img_7315

….and suddenly things go drastically downhill, you no longer have any idea what’s happening to you, and your ducks start wandering around in confused circles of crazy.

These are baby pictures of me…..illustrating that some of us get on the struggle bus sooner than others, but I think once you’re there you can’t get off.  It’s a bit like the Hotel California that way I suppose, “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave!”  I made it 12.5 weeks before I got on the bus, still riding strong today!

Another example……my HOA dues…..  If the board doesn’t receive a unanimous YES vote to changing the by-laws, dues will have to skyrocket.  It’s a bit involved so I won’t bore you with the details, but my ability to comfortably afford to continue living in my house now rests in the hands of the 142 other votes the board needs for approval.  What election in the history of ever has had 100% voter turnout…..and then that 100% turnout all voting the same way?!?!  The odds don’t feel like they are running much in my favor.  Again thought, I suppose I have options……sell my house and move, or drastically adjust the way I live my life.

Why are all the options we are given as adults crappy?!?

Although, to be fair, little kids have there share of crappy options too…..we as a adults just have a hard time rationalizing then as shitty.

Case in point, last night we had a large, extended family pizza party.  My cousin’s little toddler of a son was slightly annoyed cuz he had been too busy to nap…..option 1.  He was given the chance to nap, but why nap and miss out on things when you can stay up and maybe just be a lil bit annoyed.

At some point previously he had bitten his cheek which was only being aggravated by the pizza sauce, you know that feeling…..it’s unpleasant at best!  When given the option of ice cream instead of pizza, he got quite upset because he didn’t want the ice cream….he wanted pizza.  Now, as an adult….pizza or ice cream (frankly both) would be equally acceptable dinner time options.  The tiny nugget however, didn’t realize that ice cream was a perfectly acceptable dinner time selection and instead insisted on trying to suffer through pizza.  He had options, he just didn’t view any of them as great and had to suffer through what in his little mind was the better choice…..even if that meant extreme mouth owies with every bite.

Maybe when you boil it down and get right down to the nitty gritty, life is just a choose your own adventure book, only that the adventure usually is a series of unfortunate events.  Sure the events change and morph as we get older, and your unfortunate event might be someone else’s dream…I get all that.  But, unfortunate events are in the eye of the beholder, so I guess we will all just keep having to making choices, flipping ahead to the assigned page, and fingers crossed that we don’t regret our decisions.