Saturday, October 31, 2020

Furlough Part II

Day 4: Made some calls to a couple places to request quotes on fixing our basement (remember our first fall when we discovered water leaking in? We got the external drainage issues fixed pretty quickly (we think...), but are pretty sure there's mold in the wall and it's taken us until now to be ready to fix that). Hopefully we'll hear back soon and be able to move forward on that work. It'll be so nice to have the full basement useable without worrying about what horrors may be growing in the wall.

Also did some more baking, with some cinnamon star bread. This is one I've been wanting to try out for a while. Turned out to be quite easy, but looks and tastes amazing. Our house isn't exactly warm, so my proving times definitely took longer than called for in the recipe, but that's okay.

Day 5: Honey Popcorn. Several years ago we planned to make this a Halloween tradition and then..didn't. Guess we got busy with other things. But since we aren't doing costumes or trick or treating this year, decided we should bring this back. 

Halloween: Headed to Emily and Daniel's place to sit distanced around the firepit, enjoy our popcorn, and roast some marshmallows. Mal declared it the "best night ever". Uncle Daniel introduced the kids to roasting Starbursts, which they both loved. All in all, a great weekend evening and one we'll have to repeat soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Furlough Part I

I have to take two weeks of furlough over the next few months and was able to get this week as my first one - which, after the past few weeks, turned out to be even better timing than I had anticipated.

Day 1: House cleaners came, so we hung out outside for a couple hours. Unfortunately, it was quite cold here earlier this week, so this wasn't so pleasant. Once the kids hit a school break, I placed our bagel order and had everyone get in the car while I picked up the bagels. Then we decided we should keep ourselves warm a bit longer by driving by Daniel and Emily's house. Ryan was the only one who had seen it up close before, so that was a good excuse to drive by. 

But the big afternoon activity was the exciting one - I hung up the artwork! Huge thanks to my mom and sister for their long-distance assistance in thinking through where and how to hang these. Ryan and I had thought about spreading them out through various rooms and I was a bit worried about having them all in the living room (would it make the whole room feel like it has a "theme"?). Partly because we have so many walls and so little to go on them. And even when thinking about the living room I was thinking they'd have to be spread all throughout the room. Then realized they work so much better all together here, which prevents the room from feeling like is themed around this one thing, but also tells the story so much better than they would spread all over. Having some art on those walls also helps this little corner feel less disjointed from the rest of the room. This is why I have my mom and sister help with this stuff - I'm terrible at visualizing things like this and they're not.

Day 2: Let the kids skip school. They were supposed to have their annual doctor visit, but their doctor was sick, so we just got flu shots instead. Mal amused us all by stating that the flu shot "felt kind of satisfying". After we got home from that, we played some Star Dew Valley together and baked a spider bundt cake. We definitely had some slight stickage issues with the cake (I think our pan must've been a larger size than called for, but dumb pans don't list their size on them so I had no easy way of telling; looks like a typical size bundt pan to me, but maybe not). Once we got the cake out and cooled, the decoration was super easy.

Day 3: More chill. I'm gradually getting old childhood silver fillings replaced as my dentist determines they're needed, so spent an hour on that this morning. Spent the rest of the morning comparing healthcare plans for open enrollment (so fun) and then will take Ryan downtown later to collect his belongings from his old office before his last day next week. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Early Fall

Well, had a nice roll of fairly consistent posting there until September hit. September meant the start of school and ramping up preparations for an organizational go-live at work (we changed our electronic health record, a process that's been in the works for over 2 years). I was a superuser for that, which meant I had to assist others in our department before, during, and after go-live. Basically, worked many 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week for the past few weeks. But got to be on-site again, which I've missed so much! I've also moved into the ketogenic/biochemical genetics cohort at least through the end of the year, which means at the same time as go-live I was also training in keto (ugh, no you shouldn't do keto to lose weight, it is only evidence-based for intractable epilepsy and is actually quite dangerous if not monitored carefully). It's been stressful, but I'm really enjoying being in a stable place.

Our weekend baking has dropped off considerably with all this. But I did make up some mini donuts one day! And had serious issues making the glaze. Not really sure why. The chocolate chips I had on hand were Nestle; not sure if they changed something in their formulation recently, but every time I tried to melt them they just became a semi-melted, semi-solid gloopy separated mess! Never had that happen before. I finally just pulled out some baking chocolate squares and that worked immediately. So bizarre, but enough of an issue that I'll likely stick to Ghirardelli chocolate chips in future. Had recently had those and melted them without issue. Donuts were oven-baked and just from a KAB mix and were delicious. It's tempting to get a couple regular-size donut pans, but we don't really have room for them so we won't.

Ryan splurged and purchased a new microphone for himself. He's been wanting this one for a long while and has been very excited for how much better his sound quality is on his meetings and calls now. I'm gradually realizing we need a bigger house for his audio hobby as he acquires more microphones and various equipment. While I was in the middle of go-live, he was doing some job interviews (our poor kids those couple weeks!). He'll be starting a new job at the end of November, which should provide some good challenges and growth.

Anyone else's grocery stores start using these short bags?? I'm not sure if they're just using them for grocery pickup or what. With COVID, they stopped letting people re-use bags. Not sure what they're doing in-store now, but for the past few weeks we've just been getting these when we pick up groceries. I've been sending all our excess paper bags to the school for the lunch/food programs to use, so hopefully these ones will work just as well as the regular size ones!

We finally got Ryan's album artwork back from the framer! They did such a nice job - worth the 8 month wait. Now we just need to decide where to hang them all. Hopefully before tomorrow because house cleaners are coming tomorrow so would be nice not to have these hanging out on the floor still.

We voted! I love our vote by mail system here. No waiting in lines or having to rush to a polling station during lunch or after work. And that I can track my ballot as well as see my voting history online. If vote by mail isn't the default in your state, I highly recommend you work toward it. (Assuming this isn't the last election we have. *nervous laugh*) I think it took several years to implement here, but was in place by the time we arrived. Voting here is so much easier and I'm way more informed about the issues and candidates that I'm voting for than anywhere else I've ever lived (some places don't send out any voter information at all, so finding out who candidates are can be really difficult). Basically, WA voting makes all other states I've voted in look super regressive. Lest you think WA is too perfect, we have one of the most regressive tax systems and likely an impossible battle to move toward anything more progressive on that front, sadly.

And we tried some new teas! We needed to replenish our MarketSpice (cinnamon orange) tea anyway, so also grabbed some Princess Grey while I was at it. Got a very small amount of their Egg Nog as well. Ryan was not a fan of the egg nog tea; I didn't mind it, but definitely not one I'll sit and drink a lot of. Princess Grey, on the other hand, is delicious. I enjoy Earl Grey typically and also enjoy a good London Fog now and then (if I get it at Starbucks I request they use waaay less sweetener than they typically put in - they make both their chai latte and their London Fog super syrupy and cloying - yuck). This has some of those London Fog flavors (lavender), but without the sweetener. I think we're rapidly approaching the need to clear out and dedicate a whole cupboard shelf to our tea supply.

Isn't that gorgeous? Earl Grey + rose + lavender

And that brings us up to the present. We're spending the weekend watching some Halloween movies (Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, Evil Dead - only with Gareth on that one!). I'm on furlough this week, so planning some fun Halloween activities to do with the kids since we won't be trick-or-treating.