What’s Your Sign?

I’m double dipping in the writing prompts at Mama Kat’s this week because I went and got intrigued by both of them and I’m bad at making choices. But the two are completely unrelated so they each get their own post. Yay?

So let’s talk about Zodiac Signs. Being a Capricorn, I honestly am skeptical about Zodiac signs in general (see what I did there?). No, but seriously, just like fortune cookies, I think horoscopes in general can be made to sound right to anyone. And yet…

I have to be honest, the Capricorn Zodiac does line up pretty well for me. Let’s break it down.

Starting with the image above: I am definitely cautious, almost to a fault. I don’t consider myself very ambitious, but I am practical and practically speaking, being relatively successful is important. That said, I’m not all about them dollar bills and I don’t care about titles. I’m almost anti-ambitious. Having to worry about commissions and shit will make me want to leave a company.

I am definitely responsible and reliable. This could also be attributed to being a first born, raised an only child, or just you know how I was raised. I care about being on time, I take my responsibilities seriously, I have more alarms on my cell phone than most people would probably consider healthy.

But to be honest, my tendency to hyper schedule and organize my life stems from the fact that I’d be useless without those tools. If my phone didn’t chirp every day to tell me to pick my kids up from school, I probably wouldn’t show up.

I do consider myself an introvert. My husband disagrees. He is definitely more introverted than me, but I still think I lean towards introversion. I’m not shy, but I definitely prefer small groups and spending time with myself and my thoughts.

I think I am both caring and open-hearted. I consider taking care of my family and friends monumentally important. I get really wrapped up in the emotional well being of fictional characters. I cry during yogurt commercials. That stuff.

I don’t know that I’d call myself nosey, but I guess I probably am just as nosey as most people. I spend a fair amount of time worrying about John Mayer’s love life or wondering when a cousin will get married.

According to this post, I don’t get overly tempted by purchases, and have a gift for investing and saving. Yeah that’s not true. It sounds a little bit like my husband but not me.

They also think my home looks like it belongs on HGTV and that I never lose things – both of which are FALSEGTV. My husband and I are both “pile people” and our clutter reflects that. I definitely feel calmer when the house is cleaner but apparently I don’t know what’s good for me. And I can lose car keys that are literally in my hand, so…

Some Classic (Famous) Capricorns include:
John Legend, Bradley Cooper, Kate Middleton, Liam Hemsworth, Michelle Obama, Ellen Degeneres

I adore basically all of these people so if that means that I’m similar to them and we could all be BFFs, then I might be willing to lie about the whereabouts of my car keys.

Cosmopolitan says that I love gardening and DIY at home. Apparently I love being at home and doing useful, practical things. That news is hilarious to me. I am notorious for looking for ways to leave the house, I have the opposite of a green thumb (I’ve killed a cactus), and I am less than handy when it comes to most DIY. I do have a pretty impressive garden in Animal Crossing though.

Now Cosmo, also says that Capricorns have a big desire for instant gratification and I think that definitely applies to me. I tend to get discouraged when dieting because I want results yesterday and when I see a donut commercial on tv, I am mentally halfway to the car, en route to Dunkin Donuts.

Astrostyle has a fun list of faves and dislikes for Capricorns.

Favorite Things: Business cards, goals, official titles, being in charge, exclusive clubs, “leg sports” like soccer or track, motorcycles, leather
What You Hate: Quitting, shouting in public, careless mistakes, traveling without an itinerary, doing things “just for the heck of it”

Okay so I do love making business cards but I get really frustrated with them because every time I’ve printed a pack, some important info on the card becomes obsolete. Also I’m a homemaker and have little business printing business cards.

I have zero interest in “leg sports” or exclusive clubs.

I will agree that traveling without an itinerary drives me a little south of bananas. I’ve been known to make a binder or two for vacations. I’m not very spontaneous and I’d definitely prefer not to shout in public, though as a teenager I didn’t have that problem at all.


What’s your Zodiac sign? Do you think it describes you well? Go to comments section to tell me all about it.

MY WORD FOR THE YEAR: BLOOM

Truthfully, I find the whole “word of the year” thing a little hokey. New Years Resolutions are made to be broken – a whole year is too long to commit to in normal times, nevermind in the middle of a never-ending pandemic. I’m going to change 800 times between now and next December, as will my priorities.

But sometimes I like to do things even when they are hokey and I love contradicting myself. Also I love words. I like that a word that can be reinterpreted and encompass several goals, ideas, and values.

This year the word BLOOM really jumped out at me. I read through a list of word suggestions and thought about what I wanted from this year and what I thought would be worth focusing on. After the doozy that was 2020, I wanted to think small and focus on myself and my family.

  1. I want to continue learning to be patient in the present, to bloom where I’m planted instead of my tendency to only think about the future and consider new changes that might fix everything or just distract me from now.
  2. Like most years, I want to eat healthier and move more. To nurture my body and make the best choices I can in a given moment.
  3. I also want to be tender with myself, to be forgiving and give myself downtime when I need it and indulgence when necessary.
  4. I want to find beauty when the world feels ugly. To focus on the bright little moments, the dandelions in the pavement.
  5. To celebrate everything and everyone. I want to lift others up, and lift myself up, too.
  6. I want to continue eliminating the unnecessary and focusing on what brings me and my family joy. I’ve really enjoyed how simple a lot of aspects of our life have become after being forced to scale our routines back. I want more of that weeding out process.
  7. I want to grow mentally, too. To continue learning alongside my daughter, to try new things, and be creative whenever possible. I want to literally paint flowers and to learn everything.

I could go on, but you get the idea. All these ideas and goals all feel like the word BLOOM to me, so I’m running with it. Even if it’s cliché, if it helps me to focus on these things that feel important, then it’s worthwhile.

The past year has made decision making incredibly tiring and difficult – the pros and cons of simple things like buying milk today and sad choices like cancelling vacations or not seeing grandparents. So this year I’m walking into January knowing that things aren’t going to get better right away but that I’ve proven I can handle what’s thrown at me and that I can thrive and bloom where I am planted.


Do you have a word of the year or a new years resolution? Tell me all about it in the comments section!

You know I’m linking up (late) with Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop. Today I answered the prompt: Write a list of 7 ideas to make this your best year yet. Head to her blog for more prompts and participants.

6 Keto Recipes Rocking my January.

I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s World Famous Writer’s Workshop this week. All the cool kids are doing it. Head to her blog to see more posts about the following topics this week:

1. Share a favorite recipe you’ve been loving lately.
2. Write about what helps you stay motivated during these unprecedented times?
3.  Write a blog post about something that made you smile this week.
4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: enough
5. Write about the last argument you witnessed (could be a silly one)…did you take a side?
6. Share a memory about something you did as a child that made a family member angry.


Dan and I both agreed halfway through the month of December that we needed to jump start our diets in the new year. We’d both been living that 2020 Slump Life and eating like a couple of unguarded six year olds at an ice cream buffet for basically a whole year and being actual probably grown ups we knew we couldn’t do it indefinitely. Since quarantine life continues whether we like it or not, it was time to stop acting like life has no rules anymore.

Dan has had tremendous luck with Keto in the past so it was no surprise that he chose to jump back on the well working wagon. And after a couple of years of cooking for his diet, I felt capable this time around of joining him, for at least a month.

There are different types of Keto lifestyles, I’d say ours falls somewhere in the Lazy Keto / Dirty Keto corner. He’s much stricter about his carb levels than I am, but I’ve still managed to do enough in the last two weeks to keep myself from cracking and to keep my sugar level at a much more manageable state. I’m shocked at how few calories I’m consuming when I stick to it and keep enough fat and protein in my diet. So far so good. Here are some of the newer recipes and old favorites that are making this whole thing work for us.


THE BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE

I decided early on that I wanted to find a way to make a breakfast smoothie that was Keto friendly because like 48 hours before starting the diet I had one of the best smoothies of my entire existence at a local coffee shop and I was heartbroken that I wouldn’t be able to drink it again anytime soon. True story, I’m a real piece of work. So I started with this recipe at thebigmansworld.com and tooled around with different flavors and combinations and eventually settled on the following stupidly simple recipe:

Jen’s Keto Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter or almond butter if that’s your bag
  • 1 cup of Quest chocolate protein powder (it has a less carbs than other powders I looked at. I’ve used Olly, too and only used a half serving to cut down on carbs)
  • cinnamon to taste

Directions

  1. Add half the almond milk to your blending device of choice and then the remainder of the ingredients. Then add in the rest of the almond milk.
  2. Blend until all ingredients are well mixed in and it’s the desired consistency.

Sometimes I add powdered instant coffee, too.


EGGS AND BACON Y’ALL

Thanks to my terrific husband working from home, most days he makes me some variety of bacon, eggs, and cheese. Sometimes he scrambles, sometimes they are fried. I am seriously digging this breakfast for lunch life and it’s an easy Keto friendly meal.


KETO ZUPPA TOSCANA

I’ve been making this slow cooker Keto take on zuppa toscana for ages now and I honestly prefer it over the potato version. This recipe subs in cauliflower instead and the result is very tasty. Multiple members of the family have informed me that it’s one of their favorite meals. You can use fresh or frozen veggies and whatever level hotness you like in a sausage. Seriously I make this even when nobody is dieting.


TACO PIE

I was perusing this article on Good Morning America last week and was super intrigued by the Taco Pie recipe. We usually just throw our taco meat on a salad and enjoy our quick taco nights but I felt like trying something new but relatively easy and this was just the ticket. The whole family dug into it and my husband and I immediately started dreaming about how to reimagine other meals in this quichey pie dream world. Tonight I’m going to turn another family favorite, hamburger casserole from Cast Iron Keto, into a Hamburger Pie.


KETO NO BAKE CHEESECAKE

But what about dessert, asks every sweet tooth in the room. I said a lot of big talk early on about how I wasn’t going to succumb to silly fake desserts while doing Keto this month and I made it about one day under that notion. We have found a few Keto ice cream bars and pints that hit the spot, but this no bake cheesecake recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen was lick the beaters good. Like where have you been all my life let’s get married and live in creamy, cheesecakey bliss forever good. And it was so stupidly easy to make that it kind of felt like maybe things will be okay after all. This one still definitely qualifies as a sometimes treat, but what a treat it was.


KETO CHEESE CRACKERS

I’m also still loving this awesome keto cheese cracker hat trick. I found the recipe at kaseytrenum.com and it’s so simple guys. I just cooked up a huge batch today. Each “cracker” is one slice of cracker barrel sized cheese, so three crackers is equal to 1 ounce of cheese. That’s it. This time I sprinkled half with her quasi spicy spice blend and the other half I used garlic powder, basil, and a little parmesan cheese for good measure.


Anyone else living that Keto life? I’d love to hear about your favorite go to recipes in the comments section!

6 Things I Want to Accomplish This Fall

Kat @ Mama Kat’s Losin It wants to know 6 things I’m hoping to accomplish this fall (it’s one of 6 prompts for her pretty much world famous Writer’s Workshop. It feels weird to make plans or goals in a year that has been notoriously filled with uncertainty and change – but let’s see if we can come up with 6 goals for a season known for change anyway.

  1. I want to make pumpkin bars this year. I’ve never done it before but I’ve eaten a lot of them and it feels like it’s probably in my wheel house. Have a favorite recipe? Throw it in the comments section below. Don’t throw actual pumpkin bars because it will just land on your monitor or phone screen and I don’t want to be responsible for that.
  2. I want to start a nature journal with my 6th grader. This one might be cheating because I’ve literally already gotten a book from the library about how to start a nature journal and dug up some sketch books in the basement and even started pressing a couple of leaves and a flower from a recent “field trip” to a local park. But if Fall ends and we haven’t put anything in our sketch books, I’d be disappointed. So I’m throwing it out into the universe for accountability.
  3. I want to try making homemade biscuits again now that I have biscuit cutters and stuff. It’s tough when most of my goals are carb based and supposedly we’re trying to eat healthy? The conflict is pretty crystal clear.
  4. I want to watch a bunch of Halloween themed movies with the family in October. I actually looked up a bunch that are streaming and ones that I owned and put a handful on my Google Calendar to try and make this actually happen. Cross your fingers.
  5. I want to drink a warm tasty beverage while cuddled under a cozy blanket and watch The Great British Baking Show or reading a cozy mystery. We’ll pretend that I haven’t been doing that all year anyway.
  6. I want to find an extra room in my house that I can escape to when my teenagers are being exceptionally loud playing video games online with friends or watching cartoons. Like I’m glad they are happy and being entertained but my house is basically never quiet and it’s starting to get too cold outside to hide on my front porch so we’re going to need to figure something out before I start shouting that children should be seen and not heard.

That’s my list – what would be on yours for this season?

The Difference A Year Makes.

One of Mama Kat’s prompts for this week’s Writer’s Workshop is to look back on a blog posts from this time last year and compare how things are different now…

I know, right?

I don’t think 2019 Jen could even fathom 2020 Jen’s life and that’s okay because I wouldn’t wish it on my worst alternate reality self. But if we can’t giggle about it and pretend it doesn’t hurt then the Rona Gremlins win. So here’s a post I wrote back in August of 2019 just before school was about to start.

I was giddy with anticipation about the kids going back to school soon because as much as I love my kids, being with them every day all day for a whole summer can be tough.

Here are some of the things I was looking forward to doing:

I can’t wait to go to the coffee shop and just get something for myself and only spend like $5. Which I still do sometimes during the summer but it earns me a stink eye from the Offspring.

I mean, I’d still love to go to the coffee shop by myself but I would love it even more if I could go inside without putting on a mask, applying hand sanitizer and spritzing myself with holy water.

It goes without saying that I can’t wait to go to Target alone, right?

God guys, remember when going to Target was fun? I want to pretend I enjoy my trips there now but it’s not easy when people are standing too close to me, I feel guilty for wanting to peruse the dollar bins and I can’t drink a pumpkin spice frapuccino through my mask while shopping.

Though I’ll admit, shopping for office supplies still kind of feels like this.

I have these grand ambitions to start exercising again.

Siggggghhhh that would be awesome if I wasn’t still recovering from this sprained ankle situation. I have grand ambitions now to walk without limping. Besides I’ve always been terrible at exercise. So at least 2020 Jen won’t be lying to herself.

I am pretty stoked to spend a significantly smaller portion of my day listening to my children bicker about whatever video game they have ambitions to play together.”

Oh, I might actually get this one – once we’re all back on a school schedule there will be much less time for video games and arguing about video games. Huzzah!

I have not watched much in the way of grownup movies or television in months.

Man, same 2019 Jen, same.


So I guess the moral of the story is the more things change, the more they stay the same.

or…

The grass is greener on the vaccinated non-quarantined side.

or…

Wash your hands, kids!

or…

I can’t think about that right now, I’ll think about it tomorrow…

Writer’s Workshop: Homeschooling, Week One

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It’s Thursday so it’s time to link up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. How has your week been?

Here are the different prompts to choose from this week:

1. Attempt a craft or recipe you saw on Pinterest, how did it turn out?
2. Write about how you keep busy during a “quarantine.” Is your daily schedule affected much at all?
3. Show us a place you love to visit.
4. List 5 frivolous things you don’t want to live without.
5. Write a blog post inspired by the word: new


I figured I’d take this time to update you guys on how our “quarantine” is going because that’s all we’re talking about anyway.

This is week two of Hiding at Home for us and Week One in homeschooling with the kids. Our school is doing a trial run of their virtual learning plan starting today but the past few days we’ve been making up our own home learning plan.

In the mornings we have art class which meant doodling with authors Mo Willems and Jarrett J Krosoczka, both are local artists and authors from Massachusetts aka our old hometown and both are probably responsible for some of your kids favorite books. I’m grateful to them for taking this weird scary time and making something fun for kids and parents to look forward to. The kids draw along while I drink a cup of coffee and work on becoming human enough to home school.

Next the kids work on English which has so far involved them each working on a creative writing story. My ten year old is working on a short story about a girl who moves to a new school where students are disappearing when they go to the bathroom?? My thirteen year old is writing a story about a guy in space who has lost his memory and there appears to be an evil computer involved maybe?

For reading they are reading independently and writing me book reviews about the chapters or books they are finishing. They’ve been reading The Descendants Junior novelization, Emily of New Moon, Ban This Book and some Minecraft book. I’ve been explaining to my thirteen year old the difference between a book report and a book review and spoiler etiquette.

Math has been on Khan Academy and these Disney multiplication printables from Artsy Fartsy Mama for my ten year old.

Science and social studies have been more hands on for my part. After lunch we have watched educational YouTube videos and documentaries on Disney Plus. I highly recommend Crash Course for middle school and high school and Sci Show Kids for elementary. We also love National Geographic Kids. Some topics we learned about include astronomy, climate challenges for animals and the Westward expansion of the US.

I also signed both kids up with Duolingo so they can learn Spanish and French from home. Now all four members of the family are using this to learn a foreign language and I have to say we all love it. That’s not an ad or sponsored thing, I’m just letting you know that I recommend it. I have been learning German and brushing up on my French with Duolingo for awhile now and it’s the easiest learning a language has ever been for me.

Meanwhile my hubby has been working from home since Monday which involves a lot of typing and meetings and saying, “Shhhh!” and drinking coffee. I think it’s been going okay – you can’t beat the commute at least.

Overall, we continue to be in a pretty good place. We’re healthy and have enough food and the worst I can say is that it’s hard to get time to yourself when we’re all here all day. That and I’m tired of cooking dinner but I’m trying to reserve takeout for desperate times.

How are things going where you are?