Jennifer Lyon
Monday, December 4th, 2023
Weekend Roundup

So…this weekend happened. I can’t remember the exact order, but it went something like this:

— File boxes arrive. We’d ordered one set of four, and two of them came without latches. Sigh…but stuff happens, so we exchanged them and the company sent us a new set of four with NO latches. I’m done with them. One time is irritating but also understandable. But twice? Nope.

— In positive news: We got our Christmas tree up, I made sourdough bread, went for a hike in my new hiking boots and went to lunch with my friend which was awesome. I also got more shopping done, Christmas cards ordered, and I set up a wrapping station in one of our bedrooms to make it easier for Wizard and me.

–Two of my kids are in a “Who has the best outdoor Christmas Decorations” and is sending pics to our family test loop. I’m waiting to see what Middle Son does, he may ignore it or he’ll light up his entire city with decorations to win. It could go either way with him!

–Lastly here is Maggie (on her new blanket!) helping me open delivery boxes of Christmas gifts.

She loves tearing paper for about 15 seconds, then she’s done. She spits out all the paper out in a little pile. I never claimed she was normal!

But interspaced in all this we got some less than great news about a few people we love. One I think will be fine once the the cause is figured out, but it’s a little scary; one is worrisome but could still turn out okay; and the last was the mom of Wizard’s friend passing away. We’ll be going to that funeral on Wednesday.

That said, I’m grateful for all the good things in the weekend! I’m also grateful for the dairy-free chocolate I may or may not be stress eating, LOL!

How was your weekend?

Friday, December 1st, 2023
Friday Five

TGIF!! Is time going faster? This week just blew by! Okay time to share five random things about out week. Here’s mine:

  1. I have a chunk of Christmas shopping done! I still have one major person to buy for, and odds and ends. It’s a good start. However my brain is nagging the crap out of me to get it all done. I need to plan what holiday baking I can manage. I still haven’t found the magic elixir for energy I want to do.
  2. My walking app recorded over 49 miles for dedicated walking this month. That does not include six days when I either forgot to turn the app on, or we were traveling. Even if I do dedicated walks while traveling, I don’t turn on the app. So I’m happy with those numbers as long as my joints are tolerating it.
  3. For Cyber Monday, I bought Maggie a new uber fluffy sherpa blanket. She loves it! I really wanted to get a picture but this week has been a whirlwind. But it was so cool to see her so happy. Now if I could just get time to wash it and tame the fuzzies coming off it.
  4. Our neighbor brought us over some lemons off his lemon tree. They are the first crop from the trees he planted last Spring so it’s really cool. I made some gluten and dairy free lemon cookies I’m happy with using those lemons! Oh and I roll them in lemon sugar before baking (I made it using white sugar and fresh lemon zest pulsed it in my blender.). I like the effect though next time I’ll use less of the lemon sugar, I think I piled it on a bit thick :-)
  5. Yesterday I saw my sister for coffee and some shopping (I got some Christmas plates I’m using for gifts), and Sunday I’m finally seeing a friend for lunch. Both my friend and I had to cancel for illnesses and then deaths in the family a few times now, so fingers crossed this lunch happens!

That’s my five, now I’d love to hear yours! I hope everyone has a great weekend and isn’t too overwhelmed by the looming holiday and the crazy expectations we sometimes put on ourselves!

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023
Some Christmas Questions

If you celebrate Christmas, I have questions! I’ll ask the question in bold, then write my answer next to it. You can answer as you like!

Do you put up a tree? Yes. We did real trees for decades and now have a fake tree. We need a new one, but every time I price them, I like my old one just fine.

Do you send out holiday cards? Usually. I’m less motivated each year, mainly because both my RA and neck issues make it a painful process.

Do you watch Christmas movies? Love them, hate them or don’t care? I watch some. Love a few, including Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation and Christmas With The Kranks.  A lot of the Hallmark Christmas Movies bore me. Sorry to all of you who love them!

Listen to Christmas Music? Yes but sparingly. The one that made me laugh the hardest is “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” because the first time I heard it, the kids were young and we were all packed in our van on our way to my mom’s house on Christmas Eve. I thought it was hilarious but I have a weird sense of humor. Overall, I don’t know what my favorite song is, I like many of them. By the way, I found out I can’t sing in grade school when I sang “Silver Bells” in a tryout for the choir! They put me in somewhere in the back, then build a sound proof room around me to protect the audience, LOL. I’m only exaggerating a little, I truly can’t sing. I have just enough of an ear to hear how bad I am but can’t figure out how to fix it. It’s pretty funny!

Do you bake cookies or treats? Um…have you met me? LOLOL! Yes. Cookies and cakes. I’ll make a pie if someone requests it, but generally find pies boring. My kids grew up with me baking, and we always had Christmas cookies. We would let them decorate sugar cookies and they had a blast. They loved it.

Do you have a special Christmas Meal? Not really. When I married Wizard, I learned that tamales for Christmas was a real thing. I had no idea, and now we often do that. This year, my daughter-in-law is making a stuffed flank steak with prosciutto and blue cheese (I think — she told me but I can’t find the message) that I’m excited to try! We vary it every year. But we love it when my gourmet daughter-in-law is cooking! As far as food traditions with me personally, the two things I get asked the most to make is deviled eggs or sour cream/cream cheese potatoes — which some of my nieces and nephews call “Aunt Jennifer’s Potatoes.”

Okay that’s enough questions. Feel free to ask your own if you like! Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 27th, 2023
Weekend +Thanksgiving Roundup

Hi! Man I’m tired on Sunday night as I’m writing this, but it’s been a fun Thanksgiving and weekend! So let’s see if I can do this in short form rather than writing a novel :-)

First Thanksgiving: It was wonderful! So it was Middle son, daughter in law, and us. And then they were camping with friends that consisted of a family of parents, two kids and one set of grandparents. The campsite was truly in the middle of the desert. Not a campground, but a desert on public lands. All they need to camp there is offroad permits for their vehicles, so there’s no pads and hookups. We loved it, the weather was mostly perfect, slightly warm during the sunny hours and cold at night. But the winds kicked up Thanksgiving afternoon. No worries, we moved it into Middle Son’s trailer. This is a huge 5th wheel, and we were able to seat 10 people at a long table setup in the toy hauler section of the fifth wheel (which has it’s own bathroom and TV, as well as couches that can convert into queen bed) and a porch. For 10 people, we had two turkeys, a ham, tons of amazing side dishes and desserts. No one went hungry! And there were leftovers for everyone to enjoy. It was lovely, and we really enjoyed it. Another daughter in law asked me if we’d do it again — we said absolutely. But if we can get all the family together by keeping it at home, then we’d choose that first. So depending on the circumstances, YES we would.

Maggie stuff: Maggie loved camping! Because this is isolated, she was off leash and loving the freedom of camping life! At first she was a bit worried about the bigger dogs here:

That’s Charger on the left, a 160 pound Great Dane who is a sweetheart, and then Middles son’s two dogs, Jett (in the middle, he’s also big but looks smallish next to Charger) and Hazel on the right. They were all great with Maggie. And soon she was fine with them. She especially likes to run with Hazel on walks. She doesn’t play with her in a rough way like the other dogs, but trusts her enough to follow her and likes being with her. Overall she did great. Here I am at night with a roaring fire and two dogs at my feet. Jett stole Maggie’s blanket, but she found another one and made herself comfortable.

All the talking and the smoke from the fire haven’t been great for my throat, but I didn’t care :-) Also I’m not sure you can tell, but that fire is safe.  It’s a pit, with several layers of rock stacked around it. The fire was completely out when the winds came (they check the weather, and prepare — in the desert like this, conditions can turn dangerous on a dime.) By that evening, the winds were gone.

Maggie was fine at the hotel too. This is what surprised us. Far as we could tell, when we left her in the hotel room to get breakfast downstairs or run to a store, she never barked or cried. And while she was happy when we returned, she didn’t seem overly stressed. She was really interested in the elevator (we were on the third floor), especially when it beeped at each floor,making her do that funny head tilt dogs do. I don’t recall her going on an elevator in the years we’ve had her, but she goes where I go without any hesitation so she was fine. She also went potty outside in the rocks around the hotel without any problems. Other guests evidently were having trouble with that, but Maggie’s used to being outdoors on leash with me, so it probably seemed normal to her. My shy and timid dog has turned into a social butterfly, but she had pretty good manners overall, and I was very proud of her.

And the fun moments — the amazing dinner, spending time with my daughter-in-law while she cooked (I helped clean up, and I brought cookies and sourdough bread), and going in my son’s offroad vehicle with him. He went really fast, but I trust him so it doesn’t bother me. Plus I’m wearing a special helmet with communication system so I could tell him if I was scared, and I know my son upgraded and installed the harness and rollbars. Accidents do happen and those vehicles can roll, and if it happens, there are ways to keep as safe as possible. I listen carefully when they tell me. And son and daughter in law check my work every time I put on the helmet or harness. And while I’m the mom and part of me thinks this is funny, I keep my mouth shut and listen to them, because they reality is they know more than I do about their equipment and safety. But the amazing thing for me was riding along and seeing my middle son living the life he wanted so much from the time he was very small. And he works hard for it. So does my daughter in law. They have earned this dream and I love it for them. I also love that they want to share it with us (and our two other sons).

We left Friday morning, got home early enough to unload and do tons on laundry. Saturday we cleaned house and I prep cooked some things for me. Sunday I had more things to do, then we went out to see Turbo and family. That was so nice. It was a beautiful day and we took the Mustang (it’s all fixed! or we hope so anyway). We visited for a couple house, then came home and I played with a slightly creamy lemon shrimp noodle recipe I had been working on in my head. I used gluten free noodles that exceeded our expectations. Even better, I mentioned to Wizard that I didn’t have any white wine to deglaze the pan and reduce as the base for a lemon sauce and planned to use chicken broth for that. Wizard jumped up and opened a “good” bottle of white. That is not something we normally do. We guard our good wine for special occasions, but Wizard wanted to help me play with this recipe. Man that wine elevated the sauce! Once I cooked that down a bit with the seasoning I had from cooking the shrimp and tomatoes, I added lemon juice, lemon zest, a bit of coconut cream from a can of coconut milk, then added the noodles and finished with parmesan cheese. We loved it! It’s the first gluten and dairy free (aside from the parm, which I can eat as long as it’s aged) that I truly enjoyed! Plus I was making it up as I went along, something I like to do now and again. I’ve had some spectacular fails that way, LOL. And when I have recipes I like, I usually forget to write down what I did so replicating them is dicey :-)

Okay it looks like I did write a novel! If you made it this far, I’d love to hear about your weekend and whatever else you’d like to share! Happy Monday!

Friday, November 24th, 2023
Friday Five!

TGIF! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I’m sure we did too, but since I’m writing this post early in the week since we’re traveling, I can’t tell you about it :-). But I should be able to answer this Friday evening or Saturday. Here’s my 5:

  1. Packing is a pain, and I never know what I’m going to need or want. Also I never wake up young, slim and beautiful with an amazing wardrobe in my closet, which is always a bit disappointing. To compensate, I overpacked and probably still took all the wrong things. In the end, none of it will matter and we’ll have fun. I’m excited to see how Maggie does too. It’ll be a whole new experience for her.
  2. I bought some very inexpensive outdoor/hiking boots. I’m not sure my wonky ankle can handle the boots because I have a permanently swollen joint that can get prickly when anything presses on it wrong. When that joint gets mad, it’s painful and looks uglier than usual. So these are my test pair. If I can break them in around my ankle and use them more than two or three times a year, then I’ll consider investing into a better pair. But I’m excited to try! I won’t use them for daily walking, but for going on offroad trails where I need more protection and stability than running shoes.
  3. I made taquitos in my air fryer last night, and Wizard loved them. They are still a multi-step pain to make, but much less greasy in the air fryer and I enjoy making them. I like my air fryer. It’s fun and useful at times, but I still believe it’s not an essential tool like I consider my crock pot to be.
  4. And talking about cooking reminds me, we had a guy out to finally align a few cabinets in the kitchen ( more than a year after we moved in!). To do that, he was opening the cabinets and drawers. When he came to my spice drawer, he looked up. “So you’re a chef.” That cracked me up. I’m so not even close. I’m an average cook on my best day, and I’m not being modest. I know I can bake — see not modest there! But I have more time to try things now, and I enjoy being in the kitchen. That spice drawer really brings me joy, and I was jazzed that someone noticed it.
  5. The Mustang is at the dealer. Wizard has suspected something was off with the fuel tanks (the Mustang has two fuel tanks), and his suspicion was confirmed when he ran out of gas not even a block from the gas station. He called Triple A because our policy with them includes bringing us gas if we run out. The driver was at that very gas station filling up, and could actually see Wizard. Talk about weird and funny coincidence! The problem with the Mustang has been diagnosed and will be fixed. But dang, I didn’t realize how protective the two of us are about that car. Both of us are uneasy when it’s not in our sight or secured in our garage. That will get better with time, of course. But we’re kind of laughing at ourselves over it.

So that’s my five and now I really want to hear yours! I will answer Friday evening or Saturday. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2023
Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish everyone celebrating in the U.S. A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I hope you are enjoying the day with people (and critters!) you love.  As always, I’m thankful for all my friends out there. Although I’m not writing at the moment, I am also deeply thankful and grateful for all the readers I’ve had over the years. Readers made my job fun, and at times, gave it meaning. Whenever a reader told me one of my books touched their heart, or helped them through a tough time, it meant the world to me.

We’re off to our Thanksgiving adventure, which I’ll share with you all next Monday if anything interesting happens. I’m also hoping to get a Friday Five post up, although mine five will be a shortened week version as I will need to write it on Tuesday :-)

Enjoy the holiday and stay safe!

Monday, November 20th, 2023
Weekend Roundup

The weekend was good and we got a lot done, although I overdid it a bit. That’s all fine though, things got done, including baking a heck of a lot of cookies and freezing some, making two loaves of sourdough bread, unpacking some of the office boxes and doing some arranging, cleaning bathrooms and washing floors.

But the biggest win was figuring out a way to give Maggie her pills. She normally pretty good about taking medication, but she hates the one she needs to assist her bladder control. Plus they are huge. To make a really long story short, I cut the pills in half, and grind each half into powder, then mix it with her canned dog food to make meatballs. So now at her breakfast and dinner, instead of mixing canned dog food into her dry kibble, I give her dry kibble and one specially made meatball. She loves it and eats it first then happily eats her kibble. I guess the medicine can’t touch her kibble? I don’t know. I tried cheese, peanut butter, pill pockets, mixing it with all her food, and nope. But this works so it’s a win!

We’re really looking forward to our Campsgiving (Thanksgiving at a campsite). We’ll be at the campsite during the day and staying in a hotel at night :-) Totally my style. Okay it’s just a Best Western, but it gives us a little downtime and that is something we like. We are just happy the kids want us around. Oh and there’s a huge Great Dane there named Charger. I’ll try to get a picture this time. I’m pretty sure Maggie will be fine him as he’s very chill.

My one gripe right now is that the gray is showing in my hair, and I haven’t had time to go take care of that. I think I need to learn to color my own hair, it just grows too fast. But I’m leery of what disaster I might create!

Oh and youngest son stopped by this weekend. He wants his dad to paint a model car for him, which I thought was pretty cool. Wizard has really developed some skills in building and painting models over the last few years. In fact, he’s been teaching me to use my airbrush when I get the opportunity. But getting back to youngest, he brought up going back to Cambria again. So we discussed it — no plans, it was really just chatter. But we love that he wants to do it again!

That was my weekend, how was yours?