I’ve been in a funny place for the past few weeks. Funny, and a little unfamiliar, and I almost don’t even know what to do with it. I’m feeling kind of …carefree? And generally good about life? Like everything might actually be ok for once and the world doesn’t feel like it may crash down around my head …any second…any second now?
This is such an alien state of being for me. And what makes it worse (what makes good…worse? Ah, Sarah.) is that so many people I know are struggling and suffering and just really having a rough go of it at the moment. I feel awfully guilty for feeling as great as I do.
I feel so great, in fact, that every day for the last three and a half weeks I have launched myself out of bed at five a.m. sometimes, at 4:59, before the alarm has even gone off. I’m immediately out the front door–in my pajamas, no less–to take in the world while everything is dark and quiet and still. I used to walk in the early mornings for exercise; it was a slog, and I hated it, and more often than not I would find reasons to avoid it and lay in bed for another few hours. Now I have begun to think of it as a gentle stroll to stretch my toes and wake myself up, and I’m finding that it’s become a really vital part of my morning. (I still get the stupid, sloggy exercise at night, though. Bah.) It may sound as if I’ve contracted some sort of passing mania, but I have kept this practice up for nearly a month now, even on weekends, and as it turns out, I don’t really need more than 5-6 hours of sleep a night. Which doesn’t quite sound right, does it? But I feel loads better than when I was getting 7-8 hours a night? And anything over 8 makes me feel awful, anyway.
I’m attributing this change to a handful of things:
-In late summer we finally wrapped up this interminable business with my grandparent’s estate, so after nearly three years, that particular dread is no longer weighing on my shoulders. My grandfather passed in 2015, and my grandmother’s decline was long and slow (she passed in 2017) so between caring for them before their deaths and dealing with the aftermath and the house and the paperwork and finances, it finally feels like I can let go and properly say goodbye. Goodbye, Mawga and Boppa. Until we meet again!
-I submitted some of the final stuff for a project I’ve been working on, and even though it’s not even close to being done, I think the most challenging aspect of it has been taken care of, and even if nothing ever comes from it, or if it all falls through… at least I will know that I was able to commit to writing 12 chapters of something. Yes, I am writing a book. Yes, this is what I have been obliquely alluding to since March earlier this year. Nope, still not really ready to talk about it yet. But I will say this: be careful what you put out into the universe because sometimes you just might end up eating your words.
-I had a difficult conversation with my boss that I was scared to have, and it turned out ok…it didn’t kill me at all. Now I finally feel good about plans to eventually move to the West Coast, and hopefully sooner rather than later. Portland, here we come!
-Another thing I am loathe to talk about for myriad reasons is that I have lost almost 25 lbs. I’m actively working on just feeling better in general, and unfortunately, weight loss is a part of the process. I just want to be able to squat comfortably again, man. And I don’t even mean for exercise, I mean for when I want to squat down and look at a tiny roly-poly on the sidewalk or something. And maybe wear one particular dress I bought four years ago, but which didn’t even fit me at the time.
-And finally, I am fixing my teeth, a thing I’m terribly self-conscious about.
But listen: I may be in a better mood and I may have nicer teeth–but I’m still not smiling for anyone. No way, no how!
Oh, and another great thing is that I found a Heart record for $8 at a boba shop, of all places.
So, let me tell you about this sandwich. First, slice up a shallot and quick pickle it in a little bit of vinegar and sugar. Set that aside. Crumble half a block of tofu and saute it with some garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, nutritional yeast, turmeric, and a bit of black salt (it’s sulfurous and will make it taste eggy.) While that’s cooking, toast a few slices of sourdough bread, and when they are ready, mush up some avocado slices on them, top with a few spoonfuls of the tofu scramble and garnish with the pickled shallots. This was something I threw together last weekend, and it was pretty tasty.
Next, allow me to bring your attention to this pumpkin bread. I have been making it since 2002, using ingredients and directions from allrecipes.com, but which I have slowly been tweaking and changing over the years. I use half brown sugar/half white sugar, mostly applesauce in place of oil, and for the remainder of the oil I use olive oil, twice as much cinnamon, omit the nutmeg, add cardamom and black pepper, and sub in fresh ginger for the powder. I reckon it’s a whole new recipe by now!
Finally, this is a pumpkin curry I improvised when I realized I’d bought more pumpkin than I was ever going to eat in my oatmeal. (I always think pumpkin oatmeal is a great idea for like, the first week in October. And then I’m over it.) First, whiz up one medium onion, 5-6 cloves of garlic, one serrano pepper, and a knob of ginger in your food processor. Or, you could mince it all by hand, whatever’s easiest. Cook in the instant pot using the “saute” function for about five minutes. (I might do a few minutes more.) Add to the pot a can of chickpeas, or if you thought ahead to cook up some dried chickpeas, add about a can’s worth, about 15 oz or so; a 15 oz can of coconut milk, a 15 oz can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) and a cubed sweet potato. To this add 2 tbsp curry powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and fenugreek leaves. Or whatever you generally like to add in terms of curry spices! I just sort of threw in whatever sounded good. Stir it together, close the pot, and cook for 10 minutes, with a natural release.
I served this curry with short grain brown rice because that’s what we had on hand, and which was also cooked in the instant pot. Our formula for rice–whatever kind of rice– is to rinse it in cool water 2-3 times, drain and use a 1:1 rice to water ratio, minus about a tbsp of whatever (to account for whatever liquid is still left in the rice after the rinsing). Cook on high for 6 minutes and then do a natural release. Most of the time this makes for perfect rice. I also roasted some cauliflower that had been tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, garam masala, and a pinch of turmeric.
For something that I did not consult a recipe for, it was really quite good!
This is a shawl that I knit last month. I think it broke me. It was the most epically tedious thing I have ever created. I was warned, going into it, that I was probably going to be bored with the pattern, and man, I sure was. The funny thing is, it seems to be a pretty beloved pattern among most knitters (it’s the Find Your Fade shawl.)
I don’t mean this as a criticism to the designer, but I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who enjoys the challenge of a more intricate pattern. Which I normally do! But sometimes I like to rest my eyes a little and not stress out so much about something that’s meant to be an enjoyable pastime. If you need something a little mindless for a netflix binge, this is perfect!
…but be certain that there’s at least 6-7 seasons of it because this knit is interminable.
In blocking this I noticed A LOT of dropped stitches. I think I got so bored with it that I just totally tuned out and mindlessly sped through it, without even noticing. I performed some surgery after blocking, so I think it’s okay. (Here’s a good video on how to pick up dropped stitches on a finished piece of work.)
So just an FYI: don’t daydream your way through this project. Check every few rows for some dropped or wonky stitches so that you’re not surprised by them after you have already finished!
Two movies and a cocktail: I did not do my thirty-one days of horror films this year; however, I did watch one movie at the beginning of October and one at the end, and I highly recommend them both.
Cooties was kinda funny and kinda dumb and a whole lot of fun, and I’ve been meaning to watch it for years now, ever since I saw that sonic creepster extraordinaire, Kreng, was involved in the soundtrack. It’s more or less about zombie children, and, Frodo, who plays the part of a failed writer who has to move back in with his mom in the town where he grew up, and is a substitute teacher at the school where the kids start getting freaky and bitey and gross one day.
Knife + Heart was a beautiful and brutal homage to the giallo film, almost entirely populated by queer characters, and I don’t know what I was expecting but I sure wasn’t expecting what I got–a dreamy, kitschy, sleazy, thriller, the likes of which I have never seen before. This one also has a pretty great soundtrack.
This is not a themed cocktail, but I suggest you pair either of these films with the rum Old Fashioned that this guy shares on his youtube channel (skip to 5:35 for the specific recipe). We crafted a few this past weekend, and I’m fairly certain that I liked it even more than a regular Old Fashioned!
Ok, so that’s it. You can all go home now. Oh, but wait! I got a fancy new mattress, too. Which is kind of hilarious, considering I don’t spend all that much time sleeping anymore.