Good morning! Here I am starting a new blogging adventure! I used to blog frequently when my children were small but as they have grown we have gotten busier and I have spent quite a bit of time driving places and not writing.
I am Karen. Mid forties, mom to two, wife to one, 3 pets, a Diet Coke habit, and a messy house. Most of the time I don’t ask to talk to the manager unless it is really necessary. And c’mon, if you are not asking for the manager are you really living?
Over the years I have thought a lot about what I would like to do with my life. I have taught college classes for 10 years but the college I was teaching at closed in Tennessee. I have been subbing for 5 years…always an adventure and I have just started my third year as an instructional coordinator for a non profit. I love to travel and to share my finds with my friends, friends who have said I should either be a tour guide or open a bakery. Well, my daughter thinks I should open a bakery. So here I am sharing our adventuring with you!
I am hoping to just basically share life with you. My family is in the Nashville area so many of the things I post will be about the general area. It is the “It City” at the moment. However, we do love to travel so I will share the weird and fun things we find along the way.
I hope you will enjoy adventuring along with me!
One of the ways I have been trying to keep sane over the last few months is by trying to keep myself active. In August I signed up for the Rock and Roll Music City 32 mile challenge. It gave me a goal to reach while trudging along step after step. As I completed that challenge my sister asked if I would join her on the Oregon Trail Challenge. If you are a child of the 80’s you definitely played The Oregon Trail on your Apple IIgs and were always disappointed when you died of dysentery. This challenge requires 2000 miles before May 15th and you can run, walk, bike, crawl, or convert your miles from things like water aerobics or Krav Maga. The beauty is you don’t have to do it alone. So we recruited a couple of active friends and started heading our wagon west. So far we have made it 946 miles and through four of the virtual checkpoints. Since August I have walked almost 200 miles.
Yesterday, I was so excited to push our wagon over the next checkpoint so I took off for my morning walk. About ten minutes in a dog came running off a porch and bit me! This wasn’t a small dog, this was a dog that looked like Marmaduke or Scooby Doo. Thankfully I wore a jacket so when it grabbed me it got a mouthful of jacket and only bruised my back. As it grabbed me I yelled “NO”! It lunged while snarling and ran off behind the house. If I had been thinking I would have gone up to the house and pounded on the door. However, I wanted to get away as quick as I could so I stopped again in about ten minutes to fill out a dog bite form and a vicious dog form. Later on in the morning I got a call back from Animal Control who said they wouldn’t file either report because the dog didn’t break the skin.
A little history with me and dogs. We had a dog, when I was a kid, that was supposed to be a lab I think but it was clearly more Doberman. It was dopey and big and if anyone came to the door it sounded like it was going to rip their head off. One day I was walking her and she pulled me down a drain pipe where I smashed into a bar that had spikes on it. I have a scar on my leg that never bled. It just gave me an indent. When I was ten I was delivering girl scout cookies when an insane dog that was chained in the carport attacked me and bit my leg. It bit me through my jeans so I had scratches and a bruise the size of grapefruit. The next week I was chased by a German Shepard while riding my bike. That dog got kicked in the face. My neighbor’s Rottweiler knocked me down and thankfully just slobbered on me. Needless to say, there is a history and a reason I am not much of a dog person. Weirdly, my friends dog’s all seem to sense that and want me to be their best friend as soon as I sit down in their house.
We got our dog when the kids were little and she died in August. I loved that dog but I definitely prefer cats. They are just easier. Our dog was a garbage disposal that ate everything but she as not a mean dog. She barked like fool at our neighbor’s dogs but she was never allowed to run the neighborhood, we always took her out on a leash, and we always cleaned up after her on our walks.
Yesterday’s experience reminded me of why I am not much of a dog person and why I need to carry a big stick when I walk. It also made me think about social media and how I post in different groups.
In my neighborhood watch group I was shaken when I posted but was firm in saying whoever owned the dog better come get it. I was thankful it was me and not a kid. On my own page it was an ode to 2020. In my Oregon Trail group it was a silly in character post.
I need to go out and walk today but I am a little nervous that the dog is out again today. If it is out there and comes at me again at least I didn’t die of dysentery!
I know it feels like 2020 has lasted way more than a year for probably everyone. The official start of the Covid pandemic was March 11, 2020. Which for us in Tennessee was preceded a week earlier by a devastating tornado. As all of that hit spring was just beginning and new growth was peeking out of the earth. I am always hopeful in the spring as I see new leaves starting to form out my window.
As everything shut down it didn’t feel like a new beginning. It felt foreboding and scary. While wildlife and the great outdoors continued I felt us retreat. I have to say I am thankful for the time my family has had to spend together over the previous months. While the end of senior year was pretty stinky for my daughter, we got to cherish many moments with her before she went to college in the fall.
As spring waned and the temperature rose we had many things to look forward to. Obviously blogging was not one of them. I was reading a ton but didn’t post my books. And then I just stopped reading. I guess I go in spurts where I read a lot but then dry spells where the thought of picking up a book bores me to tears.
Throughout the summer I started walking. Of course it was a billion degrees and the humidity was the worst but it took my mind off of other things. We fished, we camped, we hiked, and explored the great outdoors. I think many people did the same. There was a shortage on bicycles. We finally got one for my son in August.
As summer carried on a season in our home changed again as we took our first born to college. It wasn’t long until the weather followed suit and changed as well. Fall came and leaves have changed.
As the seasons have changed the pandemic has continued. There are still restrictions and as we head into winter friends in other states have said their restaurants are closing again. Some places are having difficulty getting toilet paper and paper towels. As we dive headlong into winter I hope that people will be safe, will be thoughtful, and will reach out if they need help. I hope this will be a short winter with an end in sight for the pandemic.
This year has been quite a doozy. I was looking at some of the different things that have happened over the year and thought I would post them here. This is really just a big long list for me to remember the good, bad, and, ugly of 2020.
How long has it been since we saw Hamilton and rang in the new year with friends? 314 days
How long has it been since my dog was attacked? 307 days
How long has it been since my husband lost his grandma? 306 days
How long has it been since I met up with my Spam and Anchovies cooking club? 298 days
How long has it been since our date night to McNamaras? 292 days
How long has it been since seeing Blind Eyes Open at a movie theater? 291 days
How long has it been since our homeschool science fair in which many people were around? 286 days
How long has it been since our friends got together for a Superbowl party? 281 days
How long has it been since the first inclement weather day for Metro Schools, a girls lunch at Chef’s Market, and a ladies night at church? 276 days
How long has it been since we attempted to fix our shower cartridge? 270 days
How long has it been since Valentine’s Day? 269 days
How long has it been since the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery? 260 days
How long has it been since we replaced our bathroom vanity? 258 days
How long has it been since my daughter’s last Girl Scout cookie booth? 254 days
How long has it been since we bought a senior prom dress at Macy’s? 252 days
How long has it been since the Tornado devastated Nashville? 252-251 Days
How long has it been since my daughter helped out with tornado relief? 248 days
How long has it been since my daughter’s last physical day of high school? 243 days
How long has it been since people were hoarding toilet paper and Clorox wipes? 241 days
How long has it been since my kiddos published their first (and only so far) tiny cooking show? 233 days
How long has it been since the Mayor issued the “Safer at Home” order? 231 days
How long has it been since our district officially closed for the rest of the school year? 230 days
How long has it been since we binge watched Tiger King, my daughter attended virtual prom, and our quarantine porch photo? 226 days
How long has it been since whipped coffee was a thing? 223 days
How long has it been since our Zoom Easter dinner? 211 days
How long has it been since my daughter started early class selection for college? 207 days
How long has it been since my son fell in the lake catching a big bass? 203 days
How long has it been since my son’s last day of freshman year? 199 days
How long has it been since the government confirmed UFOs? 195 days
How long has it been since we lost my husband’s uncle and his dad had to quarantine after flying?
How long has it been since our family fishing trip and day out? 191 days
How long has it been since dinner theme nights? (Outlander, Harry Potter, Duck Dynasty) 181 days
How long has it been since my hubs fell down the stairs injuring his knee? 178 days
How long has it been since my niece graduated from college? 177 days
How long has it been since drive through graduation? 173 days
How long has it been since the death of George Floyd? 168 days
How long has it been since socially distanced graduation porch party? 163 days
How long has it been since my son turned 16 and had his first fishing tournament of the season? 156 days
How long has it been since our dog was diagnosed with lymphoma? 152 days
How long has it been since we went camping? 148 days
How long has it been since our house was painted? 143 days
How long has it been since my parents moved to Tennessee? 136 days
How long has it been since coffee on the patio with a friend? 131 days
How long has it been since we celebrated Disorders of the Corpus Callosum day? 130 days
How long has it been since we met up with the Ramsey fam and the Woelber fam at Dragon Park? 129 days
How long has it been since 4th of July and blowing stuff up? 128 days
How long has it been since I sent my kids into the dentist by themselves for the first time? 123 days
How long has it been since we celebrated my 18 year old with lunch at PF Changs? 122 days
How long has it been since I got a steroid shot in my shoulder? 118 days
How long has it been since my kids each got a filling? 108 days
How long has it been since hiking at Old Stone Fort? 107 days
How long has it been since park prom? 102 days
How long has it been since we voted in the primaries with our daughter? 95 days
How long has it been since my son made cookies for his sister before she went to college? 91 days
How long has it been since first day of school pictures? 89 days
How long has it been since we dropped our daughter off at college? 87 days
How long has it been since our first official day of school for the year? 84
How long has it been since Northern California fires? 82 days
How long has it been since lunch at Chicken Salad Chick with 2 lovely friends? 81 days
How long has it been since my kiddo taught fishing for the TWRA for the first time? 79 days
How long has it been since we said goodbye to our faithful pup? 77 days
How long has it been since I finished the Rock and Roll 32 mile challenge/? 75 days
How long has it been since fishing, hiking, and cinnamon rolls in Hendersonville? 63 days
How long has it been since the Mission Discovery event? 58 days
How long has it been since tubing down the Ocoee? 57 days
How long has it been since hiking with my mom? 50 days
How long has it been since a quick breakfast date with one of my friends to Just Love Coffee downtown? 45 days
How long has it been since I got my new pots and pans? 41 days
How long has it been since the Ostomy Awareness 5k? 37 days
How long has it been since I drove 3 hours with my parents and son to visit my daughter at college and attend a fundraiser dinner? 32 days
How long has it been since my son’s fishing tournament where he caught a 3.84 pond bass? 30 days
How long has it been since a quick trip to Texas? 28 days
How long has it been since my first day as a poll official for early voting? 26 days
How long has it been since a quick trip to Gatlinburg? 8 days
How long has it been since I was a poll official for the General Election? 6 days
How long has it been since I completed the Nashville Sounds Postseason 5k? 3 days
How long has it been since my son’s school Harvest Party? 2 days
How long will it be until my next book club? 8 days
How long will it be until Thanksgiving? 17 days
How long will it be until my daughter gets her wisdom teeth out? 21 days
How long will it be until my niece comes to visit? 27 days
How long will it be until my next anniversary? 34 days
How long will it be until the election is certified in Tennessee? 39 days
How long will it be until Christmas? 45 days
How long will it be until New Year’s Eve and where we show 2020 the door? 51 days
This week was another week of choosing what we wanted to cook or bake from Dorie Greenspan’s “Everyday Dorie”. Since I am so far behind I chose two options from the list of already completed recipes. For dinner I made Salmon Burgers p.174. For dessert Apple Custard Crisp p.276
I didn’t actually tell anyone what I was making until my hubs walked in the kitchen and said “what is that smell….in a good way?” ” What are you doing to that beautiful piece of salmon?”
The recipe said to put the salmon in a food processor and pulse a few times. My food processor has been on the fritz for quite some time so I sliced and diced the salmon and then chopped it with my Pampered Chef chopper. It worked out well for what I needed. I tossed in all of the ingredients, mixed them up and put the salmon mixture in the fridge to let the flavors meld.
While that was resting I made the streusel for the apple crisp and also put that in the fridge to rest while I chopped all of the apples and mixed up the ingredients for the crisp.
When I pulled the salmon out of the fridge to shape into patties I also pulled out the streusel, topped the apples, and put the crisp in the oven. The salmon patties came together really well. I did add bread crumbs and cooked a little longer than suggested but otherwise stuck pretty close to the recipe. To my surprise my family really liked these salmon burgers! I was also surprised that I liked them. I didn’t have high hopes but ended up thinking they were quite tasty. I made these small so I ended up with eight sliders.
We waited for the crisp to cool just a bit before digging into it. We opted for cool whip as the only ice cream in the freezer was a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Netflix and Chilled…which none of us like very much, hence it actually still being in the freezer. The cool whip was perfect though and everyone declared that they would one hundred percent eat the apple crisp again! Overall another excellent week of cooking through Everyday Dorie!
If you would like to see what everyone else cooked this week check out this link!
You can also cook along with us by purchasing Everyday Dorie. Check it out!
When I was in college I took “World Lit to the Renaissance” with Diana Glyer. She had recently moved from Michigan to teach at Azusa Pacific in Southern California and was shocked that the hills got greener as we headed into winter instead of brown. If you live in California you know those crushed brown velvet hills go emerald with the rainy season. It has been awhile since I was in college but this is one of the classes that stands out in my mind. Professor Glyer had an absolute joy and enthusiasm for the class she was teaching and she absolutely passed that passion on to us as students.
Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings was released in 2016. I think I actually purchased it about two years ago and it has been on my shelf for awhile. I love to read but definitely go in spurts with what I am reading. I have read quite a few books from Reese’s Book Club lately and while some of them have been great others have not been my cup of tea.I have read Diana Gabaldon’s entire Outlander series twice, I have read all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, and I have read the first two books in the Name of the Wind series by Patrick Rothfuss (waiting on the third). We have been visiting colleges this over this last school year and a couple of the Christian colleges we visited basically have a C.S. Lewis shrine set up in their libraries. Devin Brown (a prolific C.S. Lewis writer and professor) at Asbury spoke at the academic scholarship competition and had a book signing. My daughter and I picked up one of his books but it was relegated at the time to the same shelf just because the busyness of prepandemic life got in the way. I have had quite a bit of time to read this last month and decided it was time to dig into Dr. Glyer’s book.
The first page opens with two quotes:
“You see a minute goes by so fearfully quick. You might as well try to stop a Bandersnatch”Lewis Carroll (in Through the Looking Glass 1871
“No-One ever influenced Tolkien – you might as well try to influence a bandersnatch.”C.S. Lewis (in a letter to a reader 1959
On those two quotes alone I was hooked. When I think of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis I think of their books and what their writing process must have been like but I really hadn’t thought about them sharing their work with others. Dr. Glyer’s book explores the collaboration between C.S. Lewis, Tolkien and their group The Inklings. Her information is from years of researching primary documents, diaries, rough drafts, letters, etc. Her words paint the picture of what collaboration with others can do. As I read I thought about the friends and mentors that have influenced me over the years and what kinds of groups I should be involved in to grow in my pursuits. Is that writing? Photography? Teaching? Whatever I am working on I should be surrounding myself with experts that can draw me up to their level and in turn sharing my passions with others.
As I was nearing the end of the book in a section titled “Exchange” a familiar name popped up. This section is about how everyone influences the whole. Dr. Glyer mentions Michael Lee and his take on jazz and exchange. “Jazz happens when individuals gather together.Jazz happens when the voice of the group becomes more than the sum of its parts. Jazz happens when the music starts to play the musicians.” When I think of Michael Lee I think of the rebellious piano player that saved the day at my wedding when our piano player did not show up. His influence in music has changed over 22 years but continues to influence the whole as a professor, mentor, and friend. You can see that Dr. Glyer has continued to be a friend, mentor and influence throughout her career just as the people she writes about.
In the Epilogue of Bandersnatch titled “Doing What the Inklings Did” to me one of the most important points was: Criticize but don’t silence. Understanding in your mind the difference between something you don’t like and something that is going no where is imperative to keeping a group alive. Dr. Glyer talks about Dyson who kind of shut down the Inklings by making it a hostile place for new ideas. He didn’t like certain things and didn’t seem to be able to understand why others might like those things. Remembering that in future groups would be helpful for me make sure if I have critiques that they are given in a way that doesn’t shut the person down in the long run.
Often, especially with popular fiction I read fast and enjoy the story but sometimes have to go back and reread to remind myself of the content. This is not fiction and not one of those books to just read. I wanted to sit with this one and ruminate on the relationships between the authors that have shaped so many others. I want to join the Cretaceous Perambulators on a hike. I want to join in at the Eagle and the Child for a raucous discussion. I want to take this to my book club and lead a discussion on it! You should pick up this book today!
This week for Cook the Books Friday our moderators had us choose what we wanted to make and post instead of voting and making the same thing since grocery shopping could be hit or miss. I chose Sweet and Smokey Roasted Carrots (pg. 214) and Miso Glazed Salmon (p. 179). They probably should have been made on separate occasions but I had most of the items on hand for both recipes. I was missing miso for the salmon but subbed extra soy sauce. I did look for miso at the grocery store yesterday but still have not been able to find it. Perhaps I will find it soon though for other recipes.
The secret ingredient for the carrots is smoked paprika. So good! I did a survey a couple of years ago with a research firm about spices. I got paid so much to go in and talk about spices and I got a little extra if I picked the spices up early and actually made something with them. One of the spices was smoked paprika. Up until that point I had only used regular paprika. Since then I haven’t looked back!
I think I would like to try the miso salmon again at some point with the actual miso sauce even though my family really liked it with just the soy sauce. For salmon I typically use a lot of butter, garlic and lemon but it was agreed that this was a good option as well.
Overall my family liked both dishes and would eat them again if I made them. Both of these recipes are catch up recipes since I have been terrible at cooking along with anything over the last year.
If you would like to cook along check out EveryDay Dorie. She has wonderful recipes and amazing cookbooks! If you would like to see what others made check out the Leave Your Link Post at Cook the Books Fridays. There is everything from Banana Bundt Cake and Salmon Burgers to Lettuce Soup, Pimento Cheese, Butter Poached Corn and Grilled Dry Rubbed RibEye Steaks and Citrus Marinated Halibut to Cauliflower Tabbouleh.
Just checking in to see how you are doing these days. Are you dressing up in costumes to take the trash out and hanging out in your PJs? Are you getting up everyday and getting ready like you are going to see the world? Are you helping your kids learn from home while working your full time job? Are you essential and hitting the streets everyday so the rest of us can stay well?
I’m sure everyone’s days look a little bit different. I have a ninth grader that we were already homeschooling so his days aren’t looking too much different aside from tutorial classes on Zoom. He is making his breakfast each day. This morning scrambled eggs and toast.
My senior though. Things look much much different for her. No prom, no wind ensemble or jazz band concerts, etc. We are still scheduled to go back to school at the end of this month so we wait in limbo to see if she will have a graduation ceremony or not.
For both my kiddos it is likely their church camp will be cancelled this summer. But we wait to see to see if that will be the case.
My hubs is working from home and we are very thankful that he is able to do that. I did ask if he needed to commute home the other day by taking a walk around the block. Aside from almost falling through a wall we just had drywalled he is doing pretty good with being home. His department had actually started working from home two days a week I think at the beginning of the year.
As for me, both of my jobs as a substitute teacher and as an instructional coordinator are tied to the schools so I am out of work for the moment. I am getting a lot of reading done. I have cooked a lot. Note to self…laying off white flour and sugar for lent during an apocalypse is a terrible idea. I’m not hoarding bacon people!
We have a friend who lost both parents to this virus and our hearts are breaking for his family.
I know this is such a weird time for all of us. Stay safe and healthy and wash your hands!
Way back when I completed my freshman year of college I went and lived in Yosemite for the summer. I was a roomskeeper at the Wawona Hotel and worked with A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP). While being a roomskeeper was not my favorite thing, hiking and exploring definitely were my favorite things. I worked Tuesday through Saturday and had Sunday and Monday off. My ministry partners and I would spend Sunday leading services in the campgrounds and Monday hiking various trails. Some of my favorites were Cathedral Lake, Clouds Rest, Mount Dana, and of course Half Dome. There is something about Yosemite. It digs into your soul and does not let go in the very best way possible.
Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett is set in Yosemite in the late 1920’s. Olivia, our protagonist, is hired to create watercolor scenes of Yosemite which is the last place in the world she wants to go. Something happened concerning a family member and Yosemite Falls. This story line in the book was the most frustrating for me. There was not really an explanation of what actually happened and when the family member reenters the picture there is no resolution.
Aside from that I really loved this book. There was love, intrigue, and beautiful scenery I could see in my head. One place that is described in the book is the Glacier Point Hotel. This hotel actually burned down but you can still find photos of it on the internet.
Where the Fire Falls includes the camp workers pushing burning flames off of the falls and the calling between Curry Village and the top of the falls. What a spectacle that must have been! You can still see this wonder at Horsetail Falls in February. Of course, last year people destroyed vegetation and left trash everywhere. You can see a video here of the Firefall.
In the valley there is a little chapel. Karen Barnett describes it in great detail and it is a lovely little church. Our group got together several times with the pastor and his wife. I remember her telling me specifically that there was something about the water in the park that would make your hair grow like crazy. Apparently, when they first moved to the valley her hair was short and had very tight curls. Her hair was still curly but had grown so much and was so healthy. Imagine a little chapel and the backdrop is Half Dome. The majesty of the park is staggering.
I have read many popular books that use profanity as a plot device. Is was a nice change to read a sweet story, set in an incredible place, that also included some characters looking for God’s lead in their lives. I highly recommend this book and will definitely check out other books in her “Vintage National Park” series.
Way back in 2010 my friend Melissa asked several of us ladies to be part of a cooking club. We started the Spam and Anchovies cooking club with a ginger themed night. At the beginning the host would create the menu and each person would bring ingredients so we could cook together and learn new techniques. After awhile we decided to switch to a potluck style where the host still chose the menu and each person brought dishes from the selected recipes. Eventually our cooking club morphed into a going out to dinner club which was fine but can get expensive. Unfortunately our little group got busier and busier as life does and we rarely get to meet up anymore.
In January we had one of those rare kismet nights were the stars aligned and we got to get together. My friend Anne opened her home and welcomed us for a lovely dinner. Melissa brought a squash soup, Anne had several delicious appetizers, Kenna brought some amazing cheese and I took Last of the Bunch Banana Bundt cake. I had actually been planning to take that to our church small group but I am glad I didn’t as several people despise coconut.
I kind of love bundt cakes because they are not that difficult to put together and they come out looking so pretty because of the pans. This cake was no exception. I rounded up my lovely cake taker and schelpped it over to Anne’s. One of the reasons we don’t get to meet as much anymore is because we all live fairly far apart and with the increase in Nashville traffic it makes it more difficult to get places around dinner time. As you can see my frosting was a little bit runny but it was still tasty.
If you despise coconut like Tallahassee in Zombieland (it’s not the taste, it’s the consistancy) you might not be a fan of this cake.
But, if like Columbus, you like a good SnoBall, you might want to dig right in. I for one loved this and my Spam and Anchovies ladies liked it as well. I did leave some for Anne’s son and made sure to bring some home for my crew. They loved it but I have to admit my family has a bit of a sweet tooth.
If you would like to make this you can find it on page 251 of Everyday Dorie. And if you would like to see how the other bakers in Cook the Book Fridays did you can click here. Since we are stuck at home and you probably have a few bananas hanging out ready for baking anyway give it a shot! 🙂
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