These are the days

My precious

You know those mornings when you awaken from a dead sleep to find you are spooning with a snoring dog that smells like stale corn chips but you are just happy to have something to snuggle because the evening before you attended a fantastic dinner on the most humid night of the summer where you drank chilled white wine like someone told you Jesus turned it back into water while trying not to sweat to the point you looked like you accepted the ALS ice bucket challenge?

You know those mornings?

You know those days when you really have so much to do — like hit up the farmer’s market before all the organic cheese and the best sweet corn is gone, somehow try to burn off the gazillion calories you consumed the night before because you have job-interview clothes to squeeze into on Monday and steam mop the floor because apparently 12 muddy paws held a Zumba class on your dark hardwood last night while you were getting your drink on and hoping that the sweat between your thighs didn’t leave a puddle on the chair and everyone would assume you need Depends?

You know those days?

If not this post probably meant nothing to you.

If you do, will you be my BFF? Come over later and we’ll have some cheese made from happy, grass-fed cows, open yet another bottle of wine and I (might) even share the parting gift from last night’s soiree.

False advertising! There are not 1782 sea salt caramels in this box. There are only 10. OK, seven now. Stop judging me!

 

 

Days go by

For an unemployed person, I am crazy busy.

Lately there has been short trips for a book signing and for a concert.  We’ve made new friends. We’ve bought new furniture.

I have been concentrating on exercise in a big way and dropped a couple of the pounds I put back on while rehabbing my leg. I still see the wound care doctor every other week.

I also give my elderly cat with hyperthyroidism two oral doses of meth every day. The fun? It just never ends.

My days are busy and they fly by. I am still actively looking for work, but I am being very picky to make sure the job is a good fit for me and my family.

I have also been cooking. Since I consider myself a food writer, I should be blogging about it, but since it’s summer, the food I’ve been making has been very simple.

Grilled fish. Fresh salads. Roasted new potatoes. All delicious and nutritious, but not really recipe-type food.

Last night, however, I took on a big challenge for me: turkey burgers. I’ve made them before and been less than impressed with my results.

Turkey is lean, so the lack of fat tends not to make it bind easily for burger patties. It is also not big on flavor without putting some serious seasoning into it.

I am not usually one to add veggies to the burger mix — for beef burgers I prefer veggies as toppings — but for turkey I thought that veggies would add moisture and flavor. So the first thing I mixed in the pound of ground turkey was minced onions and bell peppers.

Then I liberally seasoned the meat with garlic powder (not salt — that’s coming later) steakhouse seasoning and curry powder. Then I added a couple of drops of stir-fry sauce (seriously , just a dash.)

The salt (turkey needs some salt) came from low-sodium soy sauce, which I used to marinade some chopped mushrooms. I let the mushrooms absorb the soy sauce for a couple of hours before I mixed the pieces in the meat.

I like to make my beef patties thin, but my husband — the grillmaster — said turkey needs to be a little plumper to make them hold together. He’s absolutely right.

While he grilled the burgers, I sauteed the rest of the mushrooms with some yellow onion (I prefer shallots but I didn’t have any) as a topping for the burgers.

Healthy tip: Back in the day I would use about a stick of butter to sauté mushrooms. Now I use a non-stick skillet, less than a tablespoon of olive oil and a generous shake of Worcestershire sauce. The ‘shrooms are just as good and a fraction of the unhealthy fat and calories.

The end result: The best turkey burger EVER. The patties didn’t fall apart, they were juicy and the seasonings added layers of flavor to turkey’s blank canvas.

Next time instead of mushrooms as a topping, I think I will try an avocado slice.

We served it with roasted new potatoes (an easy side and a very low-cal alternative to fries.) The big calorie indulgence was King’s Hawaiian hamburger buns. Because, damn, those soft, eggy buns are worth every carb and calorie.

Every. Single. One.

Of course you can always cut the bun calories in half by eating it open faced. If you can do that, you are a stronger person than I am.

Recipe bonus:

Here’s a link to a recipe that I am anxious to try. I met this blogger in Miami, he’s terrific and this dish looks amazing.

Human

I came back to the house from a walk last night when my husband told me Robin Williams died. I gasped.

He followed that with the suspected cause of death: suicide. Then I felt a little part of my soul retreat, looking for a safe place to hide.

Robin Williams, beloved actor, comedian, and genius, died from depression.

It hits you hard when you know you walk around every day with an illness that, while treatable, could eventually be fatal. It hits you hard when it claims yet another victim.

I’ve done as much as I can to document my struggle with depression and its BFF anxiety on this blog because it is an illness, just like cancer, and the stigma attached to it has to stop.

Depression, being the sneaky liar that it is, would love to remain shrouded in shame so that it can go unabated.

Like cancer, depression is an invading organism that disrupts body chemistry and causes physical symptoms. Like cancer, it lives inside the host and wreaks havoc on the healthy cells.

For my part, I suffer more from anxiety than depression, but all that worry just adds kindle to the fire of depression. So the little bastards are co-conspirators.

As far as I know, there is no cure for depression or anxiety. There are plenty of treatments for the symptoms, but nothing that makes it all better. When you suffer from depression, you will never be able to take a test that shows you are now depression-free.

I’ve tried everything. Talk therapy? Check. Books? Check. Prescription drugs? Double check.

And I’ve self-medicated most of my life. Food was my drug of choice. And abuse of that perfectly legal, socially acceptable drug led to obesity, which is the kind of sick joke that depression enjoys, because that made things even worse. Just to add another smack down, obesity not only made me more depressed and anxious, it led to potentially fatal health problems.

Depression and anxiety are sinister assholes.

The best treatment for depression, in my case anyway, is emotional support, positive self-talk and medication. I don’t know if Williams had any of that. Being a celebrity, it might be hard to know who really wants to help you because they care about your well-being or who wants to help you because they need something from you.

I’m sure his family loved him and tried to help and my heart goes out to them. Sometimes the hole is just too deep for anyone’s love to reach.

I have a rock of support in my life. I can’t rely solely on him for my survival, but it helps to know that when I want to retreat, when I forget to tell depression “Fuck off, you liar!”, he’s there to remind me and he doesn’t judge. He has helped keep me from going too far down the hole more times than he knows.

One of my favorite Robin Williams movies — it’s hard to choose just one — is “Good Will Hunting.” In his role as Sean, a psychiatrist treating Will, a troubled genius (ponder that irony for a moment) he told a story about his late wife.

The fact that it came directly from Williams — according to IMDB it was unscripted — makes it all the more profound to me:

“Sean: My wife used to fart when she was nervous. She had all sorts of wonderful little idiosyncrasies. She used to fart in her sleep. I thought I’d share that with you. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and went ‘ah was that you?’ And I didn’t have the heart to tell her. Oh!

Will: She woke herself up?

Sean: Ah…! But Will, she’s been dead for 2 years, and that’s the shit I remember: wonderful stuff you know? Little things like that. Those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I know about: that’s what made her my wife. Oh she had the goods on me too, she knew all my little peccadilloes. People call these things imperfections, but they’re not. Ah, that’s the good stuff.

It lacks the eloquence of quotes from “Dead Poets Society” or even “Mrs. Doubtfire”, but for me it demonstrates real love. I am so lucky I have someone on my side who knows all my flaws and loves me anyway.

No matter what depression tries to tell me, I hold on to that love, and then I know I will be OK.

We both fart in bed and blame it on the dog. That’s the good stuff.

Borderline

My obsession with Tex-Mex flavors this summer is making me nervous.

Nobody wants to be Guy Fieri. Except maybe Guy Fieri. He seems pretty happy to be him.

Now I’m questioning the blond highlights I got a couple of weeks ago. If I start describing things as “money!” feel free to throat punch me.

The thing is that there is so much flavor in Southwestern-inspired cuisine and when you are trying to cut back on calories, you need savory and spicy to keep your palate from protesting in boredom and send you into uncontrollable cake craving.

Truth.

During the day I am sticking to protein smoothies, protein bars and raw veggies. The only real meal I have each day is dinner. And I keep going back to the same flavor profiles when I plan the weekly meals.

Last week we had fish tacos with mango salsa and jicama slaw. We had chopped salads with extra cilantro and cilantro dressing. We had grilled cumin-crusted sea bass, with lime, which I am adding to every beverage I drink except my coffee.

Last night we had chicken fajitas. While I was chopping the veggies for that meal, I did the prep work for tonight’s dinner: barbecue chicken pizza.

(Hint: Use Flatout Bread as a crust and it’s thin, crispy and amazingly low in carbs and calories. And it tastes great. Be careful to evenly distribute the toppings and you may need to eat it with a fork.)

I was trying to think of something different to make while at the grocery store yesterday and all I could think of was ceviche. Sigh.

I need some international inspiration for food. So excuse me now while I check the price on flights to Thailand and Italy.

Any suggestions that are low-cal, low-carb and NOT Southwestern/Mexican flavors would be much appreciated.

BTW: Tickets to the Thailand and Italy are hella expensive.

 

Running on empty

Wandering my way back to a cleaner, healthier way of living is not as easy as it sounds.

You know what’s easy? Eating and drinking whatever you want and hunkering down for hours of “Property Brothers” and “Real Housewives” is pretty damn easy.

This morning I wanted to stay in bed. I was comfy, cozy and so content. I walked a 5K yesterday on the the treadmill just to prove to myself I could still do it. Phil and I are walking a 5K tomorrow and I don’t want to die on the streets of Columbus.

Death at a gym in the suburbs seems infinitely more dignified.

Walking the 5K (3.1 miles for us Americans) on the hamster wheel was actually not too difficult. I propped up my iPad and read a few chapters of a book and the miles went by without any trauma.

Then I ran errands and ended up walking 10K before the day was done and still stayed within my calorie goal for the day, hitting all my nutritional marks according to MyFitnessPal.

I was depleted of energy when I went to bed and slept like a rock. I sooooo wanted to stay in bed.

But while my physical tank was on “E”, I also know my emotional tank was gliding on fumes as well. And the best way to fill it up — without shopping or eating cheese or drinking wine which is my normal road to inner contentedness — is fresh air.

So I walked another 5K this morning, this time on the sunny sidewalks of my suburban ‘hood. I figured the chance of death from 5K-walking dropped dramatically since yesterday but I could be wrong since I’m terrible at math and really suck at statistics.

Those 5 kilometers made me appreciate what a lovely area it is that we call home now and did wonders for my mood.

Not gonna lie, when I was done walking my feet were burning, my arthritic left knee was screaming “What the actual fuck, lady?!?” and sweat was dripping down my back creating a lake in my waistband.

But my heart was pumping and my lungs felt full of whatever it is in unfiltered, barely polluted air that makes humans glad to be alive (oxygen, I think?) and, after some yoga stretches in my living room, I feel confident that I can do it again tomorrow morning and not require an ambulance. Or a mortuary.

I didn’t eat breakfast before I walked, so I was one hangry hag by the time I got back to the house. I didn’t even taste the protein bar I gobbled, but I did try to savor every drop of my iced coffee with ultra-skim protein milk.

Lunch will be a protein shake (I love smoothies so much I have a Pinterest board dedicated to recipes) and dinner will be grilled Chilean sea bass with roasted new potatoes.

Meal planning is important at this stage of active-life-re-entry because I need to keep nutrition on track with high-protein, low-carb, energy-sustaining food and not chocolate and martinis.

Um…chocolate martinis…(read that in Homer Simpson’s voice, because that’s what I heard when I typed it.)

This healthy lifestyle shit is some damn hard work, yo.

Worth it, but hard.

The boxer

We moved to Columbus in April and I really love this city. Click right here and you can read about all the wonderful things this area has to offer.

And yet, if I let myself dwell on the negative — and depression encourages that mental activity — I would be convinced this city doesn’t love me back.

In fact, it feels a little like it junk punches me at every opportunity.

Finding suitable employment has been an issue. I took a temp accounting job in a factory that was OK, but the environment wasn’t pleasant and the commute sucked.

Working at that job, with people who barely spoke to me and a boss that gave almost no positive feedback, made me miss my loving, supportive work family at Saint Francis Service Dogs in Roanoke so much my soul ached.

Today I got a call from a staffing agency for an accounting job in a factory that would include a monthly inventory and thus would require wearing a steel-toed boots and a uniform.

Ugh.

Since I swore off uniforms when I left the fast-food industry as a teenager in the 80s and steel-toed boots don’t look cute on anyone, I declined the interview. I’ve learned accepting just any job is not the answer. It has to be the right job.

I’m a household manager/freelance writer for now — the perks are great and the working environment is outstanding — but being a stay-at-home mom to three lazy dogs and one surly cat who has to be medicated twice a day is a little lonely, and then there’s the money.

That would be the lack of money, to be exact. Shopping, after all, is part of my cardio routine.

The traffic accident in June hasn’t helped. My car is still in the shop and I know it sounds materialistic and superficial but I miss my car.

The injury from the accident has been super ouchy and inconvenient to say the least. I have an appointment today to see the wound care specialist, who re-injures my leg every time I go there.

I know it’s necessary for the healing process, but it feels counterintuitive to see a wound doctor who willfully wounds you. Maybe he takes the job title too literally?

I miss my friends. We’ve had an active social life since we’ve been here, but my close pals are in Indy, Nashville and Roanoke. I keep hoping that the right job will come along and I will find a Buckeye BFF.

Then there’s the weight gain, mostly due to emotional eating and too many hours spent on “House Hunters” marathons while my leg healed. Hopefully exercise and healthy food choices will make the endorphins in my brain kick in and tell the depression to STFU.

Progress is being made in that challenge. I took Body Pump class last night and I could actually move today AND I passed all four phases of my insurance health screening this morning.

I might have missed the BMI phase due to the weight gain but my waist circumference saved me. Click here for the best shapewear in America that whittled about an inch off my middle section. Holla!

My husband and I are participating in a 5K charity walk this Saturday. It’s a cause we support and it gets both of us moving, with a chance to meet other people who love pets as much as we do.

I feel like I’ve been struggling since the move — with emotions, injury and frustration. Honestly, I’ve spent most of my 50 years on this earth struggling to hold it together. I’m battle weary.

Then I heard an old Simon and Garfunkel song on the radio this morning and it reminded me that, as much as I’d like to run away, I can’t throw in the towel.

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade and he carries the reminders of every glove that’s laid him down and cut him ’til he cried out in his anger and his shame, ‘I am leaving, I am leaving.’ But the fighter still remains.”

There’s still a lot of fight left in this tired boxer.

And Columbus? I’m not going anywhere. I think once you get to know me, we’ll get along just fine.

Just like starting over

I had an appointment this morning that required dressing like a grown-up, professional-type adult instead of the yoga pants and/or sundress wearing hippie look I’ve been happily rocking all summer long.

As I pulled out a pair of great slacks that I bought at the Loft before we moved to Columbus, I was feeling pretty confident.

When those pants didn’t come ANYWHERE CLOSE to zipping, I realized that yoga pants and sundresses hide indulgences in fried pies and martinis and disguise all the time I didn’t spend at the gym while rehabbing my injured leg.

OK, I said to myself, don’t panic. I searched the closet for a black skirt that I almost donated to Goodwill because it was so loose in the spring. Awfully glad I didn’t donate it because it fit like a glove.

OK, I said to myself, crisis averted. I dressed up like a grown-up — albeit one that is a size larger than she was in March — and handled my business like a boss.

Then I went to Kroger and made good choices — fish, veggies, fruit — and spent the afternoon preparing healthy snacks and meals because THIS CANNOT STAND. I invested way too much time, blood and sweat to get fit and I will not go back. I just can’t — I won’t — do that to myself.

It’s time to step away from the wine glass and the cheese board and head back to the gym.

I actually started working out at the gym last week after my wound doctor said it was OK, but I didn’t follow up with healthier food choices and restraint on liquid calories.

Here’s the thing about having a tiny tummy — you can eat anything in small quantities. That’s great, unless you eat and drink high-calorie food and beverages in small quantities ALL DAY LONG.

I’ve said it many times before: Bariatric surgery is a tool, not a cure, for obesity. While I firmly believe people should love themselves at any size, I know I have to control my weight to maintain my health. I have a left knee I’d like to keep and I find normal blood pressure to be a pleasant feeling.

So catching myself sliding up the scale a single size is a good thing. And having my fall wardrobe as a motivator gives me the incentive to make the right choices for the rest of the summer because I really like those clothes and boots.

It’s not starting from point zero like I did in 2013, but it is starting over on a healthy track. I want to feel strong and confident again. I want to go back to being a gym rat. I want to make sure I stay within my calorie goal each day.

I want to wear yoga pants to exercise, not because they are my only wardrobe choice.

And I want those damn pants to zip.

Every little thing

Lately I’ve been very grumpy. I’ve been so grumpy I make this overused cat meme look positively joyful.

Not making excuses, but there are reasons at the root of my grumpy. I can check off damn near every box on the life stress list during the last six months.

Biggest stressor lately is the car accident in June, which led to the injury, which became a hematoma, which has been more ouchy than I wanted to let anyone know, which has led to an ER visit and three visits to a wound specialist.

The mother of all bruises is healing, but it left a hole in my leg that will not require a skin graft but will leave a scar.

This will be the first summer in my life I won’t be able to get in a pool. Because no one wants a weeping wound in their pool. Understandably.

And I still don’t have my car back. And the insurer — it rhymes with Miberty Lutual — hasn’t paid a dime toward the thousands of dollars of medical bills I’m racking up and won’t return my calls.

I left my temp job because the hour-long commute each way was sucking the life out of my soul and might have been causing a little PTSD.

My two oldest pets now have chronic illnesses. Emotionally I am preparing for the possibility we may lose them both this year.

Yeah, lots of fodder for the grumpy mill. Actually, I passed grumpy and wandered into downright irritable while on vacation, which *should* be the time when run from stress straight into the loving arms of fun.

Adding to the downward spiral, I haven’t been able to exercise since my injury. Without the exercise endorphins, my emotions have been craving all kinds of calories — taking “eating my feelings” to an unprecedented level.

Overeating because you can’t exercise is kind of like treating a gunshot wound by stabbing it with a dirty knife.

In other words, depression and anxiety has totally trashed my summer.

But I have to remember depression is a dirty rotten nasty lying son-of-a-bitch. It whispers all kinds of negative shit into my brain. And the best way I can tell depression to STFU is with positive self-talk.

Plenty of people think that talking to yourself is in itself a sign of mental illness, but I’ve always maintained that if YOU don’t like talking to yourself, how can you expect anyone else to enjoy your conversation?

Plus, depression is already a mental illness, so for me there’s no shame in adding another layer of flavor to my emotionally fucked-up mental soup.

So this week I’ve been reminding myself of all the good things I have going on in my life and, while not denying that there’s some serious shit going on up in here, I remind myself that Bob Marley eloquently sang, “Every little thing’s gonna be alright.”

How can you argue with Bob Marley?

My leg will heal. It will take as long as it takes, but I’m getting excellent care and eventually it will get better.

My car will eventually find its way home, probably before my leg completely heals.

I will find a job that is emotionally satisfying, blends well with my family time and makes the best use of my talents and skills. Eventually.

We have an elderly dog and an elderly cat who are both facing some health challenges. We will do the best we can for them. We will not let them suffer for even one minute. They both enjoy happy lives with lots of love and, with the right meds and food, they may have a few more good years.

Every little thing really will be all right.

*In a twist of irony, just as I was about to hit “publish” on this post about positivity in the wake of a crash, my blog crashed. Fate has a harsh sense of humor. 

Boom!

You know how one minute you are stopped on the interstate in heavy morning traffic and the next minute you hear a loud BOOM followed by a crunching sound and you feel your car being pushed out of your lane into another innocent vehicle?

No?

Well, consider yourself very fortunate because that happened to me yesterday and it was ZERO fun.

My first thought was, OH SHIT…am I OK? and the answer was yes, I think I am. Seatbelt on, air bag undeployed, my left leg was a little hurty but no blood had been shed. The next thought was, “OH SHIT, this just ruined my day.”

After that, the thoughts kind of become a bit spinny.

I pulled my car to the shoulder. I called my husband.  I wanted to call work, but I didn’t know my new boss’ extension. The word “shit” kept coming in and out of my thought process.

I got out of my car. My leg was a little more hurty. I pulled up my pant leg and saw a bruise. Bad sign since I am really slooooooow to bruise. I looked back and saw three other vehicles that were more smashed than mine — including the truck at the back of the line that started this chain reaction — and the lady driver behind me whose leg was bleeding. The dude behind her couldn’t open his car door.

Surreal. Blurry. Weird. Left leg was inching its way up on the achy scale.

Cops were on the scene super fast. They got the trapped dude out of his car. EMTs tended to the lady’s leg. They asked about me and I said I was bruised but otherwise OK that I was aware of.

One of the cops told me to get back in my car — glad to oblige — as I started dialing the main number for my new employer and kept getting the voicemail. Boss’ number not in the directory. Co-workers? Not in the directory. SHIT.

As I mentioned, the slang term for fecal material was a recurring theme.

Police asked me for my licence, registration and insurance. Handed over all of it. Another cop told me to call Triple A if I had coverage. I did, so I called. While I was on the phone with AAA, the cop told me to tell the dispatcher that the most disabled car had to get towed first. Wait, what? Um, OK. I told the AAA agent and she paused and said, “Um, OK” in a way that bonded us in our confusion at that order.

I finally found the HR director from my new job in the phone directory got her voicemail and though I was tempted to say, “SHIT, someone wrecked my car this morning and I won’t be in and can you tell my boss, please” I think I said something similar but more professional and polite. I think.

People were snapping photos of the wreck as they drove by. What the what? Who does that?

The day I rolled it off the lot. Sigh.

In my spinny, blurry thought process, it didn’t occur to me to take photos of the damage to both ends of my car. My beloved Ford C-Max Hybrid (BTW, Ford, your marketing SUCKS since no one has ever heard of this make of car, including Triple A and the tow driver) was seriously damaged. Inside things were outside. Things were dangling. Things were shattered.

A cop told me to get back in my car. I got told that often. Sometimes I just needed air. Sometimes I liked the comfort of my car. Once I remember thinking this may be the last time I sit in this car that I was so thrilled to buy just a year ago.

All the while, the pain in my leg was increasing. A noticeable bulge was now protruding through my pants (and not in the way that would make a pervy dude proud.) I winced and whined a bit. I tried not to cry and for once, I succeeded. HOLD IT TOGETHER GIRL.

Cop in charge gave me back my registration with a report number and his name and badge number on it.  He told me when my tow truck arrived I could go. I called my husband again, who was already in the area because he’s kind of a hero that way, and asked him to meet me at the closest body shop.

By the time the tow truck came, it was difficult to put weight on my left leg. Pain came in waves, wincing turned to breathtaking, stabby kind of twinges. The driver helped me up into the tow truck. By then, I’m considering self-amputating my leg with my house key.

As the truck pulled away, a piece of my bumper fell off on the interstate. It apparently self-amputated, too.

Husband was waiting for me at the body shop. He handled everything while I sat in his Explorer to search my purse for something sharper than a house key. An emery board would never work.

He took me to an urgent care near our home. I slid off my pants and I had a purplish-blueish-whiteish baseball-size bump on my lower left leg, which from the knee down was roughly 50 percent bigger than the right leg. Insert crass synonym for CRAP here. The skinny-legged pants were not going back on.

Tylenol talked me down from my amputation plan.

An X-ray didn’t show any fractures, just a really nasty hematoma. Right is a picture at the doc-in-the-box office, left is this morning.

Besides a prescription for Lortab, I was told to follow the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation) for the the next few days. Advice I am happy to follow. I waddled out of the urgent car on crutches, pants stuffed in my purse, wearing a hospital gown with my backside exposed.

Can I get an amen for black granny panties that fit like tankini bottoms?

Did I mention Lortab? God’s gift to the sore and achy and hurty people of the world.

Someone on social media suggested I wash my chemical romance down with a some wine. Hey, I love a good glass of wine as much as the next girl, but I’m not a fan of comas or death (looking at your Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger and Amy Winehouse) so I’ll just pair water and/or cranberry juice (hold the vodka) with my dose of narcotics, thankyouverymuch.

Yeah, I’m sad about my car. But no one was seriously hurt (that I know of, anyway) and that’s what’s most important. And I have enjoyed two days of binge-watching HGTV, Food Network and Bravo between making endless phone calls to insurance companies.

Moral of the story:

  • Always pay attention in heavy rush hour traffic.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Always do what the cop says, even if it’s weird.
  • Always follow doctor’s orders.
  • Always remember that cars can be fixed and replaced — people cannot.
  • Always take Lortab with food and no booze.
  • Always be thankful that long summer dresses can hide hematomas and swollen legs.

Weekends

It’s been a while since I enjoyed a weekend after a long, hard week at an office job.

I already miss those days when I didn’t have to wait for a weekend to feel free to do stuff I like/want/need to do. But hey, a girl has to pay her MasterCard and Macy’s account.

So, this weekend featured a trip to German Village here in Columbus, a road trip to Cincinnati, retail therapy with a side of meatballs, baseball with great friends, wearing a stupid hat while twerking with Spider Man and cooking a Mexican fiesta.

I am so not ready for Monday.

Here’s a shot of the German food we had Friday night. What German food lacks in color (it’s as beige as my 1986 Ford Fiesta) it makes up for in flavor. You have to trust on me on this.

The next morning we drove to Cincinnati, where my husband and I had our first experience shopping in an IKEA. It’s a little overwhelming, especially with the meatball crack dealers handing out “samples” of the Swedish delicacy that must make you want to buy everything in the store. We scored some fantastic buys in vibrant summer colors to brighten up the house and a cool storage cabinet for the bathroom that my husband and daughter assembled this afternoon without any sweary words. That I know of.

Saturday afternoon we met some friends from Virginia who came up from visiting family in Lexington to go to a Reds game. My husband and I are Cubs fans, Craig (front left in the sunglasses) was cheering for the Phillies — the opposing team — and Meghan (front right, also in sunglasses) had never been to an MLB game before. So the Reds won, Craig tried Ohio’s signature Skyline chili and asked why it tastes like ginger cookies, and we all had a great time at the Great American Ballpark.

Tired and thirsty after the game, we walked over the Ohio River (using a bridge, not anything biblical) and stopped at a bar called Dick’s Last Resort. A friend of mine used to work for Dick’s way back in the day when the chain first expanded and trained staff all over the country as new stores opened. But I digress.

At Dick’s they make a lot of dirty jokes, make you wear humiliating hats, scream that they don’t care if it’s your birthday, and take almost an hour to get an appetizer platter to your table. Still, I twerked with a waiter dressed as Spider Man, so I got that going for me.

And now it’s Sunday night. I just cooked a Mexican feast because Kroger is celebrating a Taste of Mexico and I may or may not have built an entire meal based on a chunk of chipotle gouda cheese. I am exhausted and I have to get up earlier to go to work tomorrow.

Mondays deserve all the snarky jokes that people make. Mondays suck.

But weekends with great food, dear friends and twerking with a superhero? Totally make Mondays worth it.

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