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Kelsi and I hung out last Sunday for a fun-filled fall day celebrating the spooky season. We exchanged gifts, carved pumpkins, baked cookies, popped popcorn, and watched two much-anticipated horror movies (My Best Friend’s Exorcism and Terrifier 2). The highlight of our day was carving pumpkins because Kelsi has NEVER carved one, which is surprising since her family loves all things Halloween. We vlogged our spook-tacular day together which she included in her Halloweekend Readathon Weekend #2 Vlog. Unfortunately, because we live in “hot ass Louisiana” as Kelsi loves to say, our pumpkins no longer look as cute as they did the day we carved them. Mine has become moldy on the inside and has started to collapse, so it will be placed on top of my compost pile shortly. The good news is we both plan to carve another pumpkin closer to Halloween. I think Kelsi has caught the pumpkin carving bug.

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This past week, I battled yucky, alien-looking bugs that came out of nowhere to attacked my beloved satsuma tree, but I fought back. My satsuma tree does not yield fruit every year, but this year I could glean about 60 satsumas which is a bumper crop for my little fruit tree. First, I sprayed water on them with a hose. They flew away in various directions, but returned two hours later. I sprayed them with the hose once more, and they flew away once more. Unfortunately, these vile creatures were relentless and returned yet again to attack my satsumas.

As I glared at them, they stared back, mocking me. Fortunately, my hubby had a solution, a soapy water solution. I mixed dish soap with warm water and sprayed those pests. The battle with those leaffooted bugs (Leptoglossus phyllopus) went on for two days until I wiped them out completely. Thankfully, they have not returned, and my satsumas have been saved. Since the attack of the citrus suckers, I have happily eaten three satsumas, and they were all splendidly sweet.

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Painting by Tweety

When my boys were younger, I decorated our house all the time, mainly for Halloween and Christmas. However, as they grew older, decorating for the holidays fell by the wayside. Last year, I planned to decorate, but our decorations were limited to my nightstand and a bookcase in my bedroom and the front porch because of Hurricane Ida. This year, Kelsi and I went Fall/Halloween decor shopping early, plus I shopped plenty more throughout September. I decorated my guest bathroom at the beginning of October. I finally got around to putting up the rest of my Halloween decorations this past week. Halloween birds are perched on bookcases while the rest of my spooky decor is displayed on the mantle above the fireplace in our living room.

Every time I look at my Halloween decorations, I get a happiness boost. I found so many wonderful items this year. Except for the Hocus Pocus pumpkin, the books, and the two crystal pieces holding potpourri and the dried flowers, everything on the mantle was purchased this year. I am thrilled with how it turned out. At the center of the mantle is a perfect pumpkin portrait painted by my talented friend Tweety. Since I love reading, I incorporated spooky books in my holiday display which adds a pleasant touch.

I absolutely adore the mini wooden coffin shelf that I purchased from Target. My hubby painted it for me. I want to find some small, vintage-looking books to put on the bottom shelf. Since I am a patreon supporter of It’s A Charming Life, Lindsay and Jonas sent me a Sleepy Hollow postcard, featuring Jonas’s artwork, and a tiny, white doily this month. I put the doily on the top shelf of the coffin and set a jack-o’-lantern on top of it. I am excited I could include both items as part of my decorations.

Well, it is time for me to skedaddle, dear reader. I still have plenty left on today’s to-do list. I must finish my Halloween cards TODAY, so I can mail them out tomorrow. I promised my guys I would make a batch of Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos. Thankfully, the chicken and bacon have already been cooked. I have a few chapters to read in Needful Things. Then, I have to get myself organized for the upcoming week before heading out to Metairie where I will be performing tonight with my classmates in our first improv showcase. Happiness!

My poor jack-o’-lantern after one week in hot ass Louisiana.

β€œJack-o’-lantern, Jack-o’-lantern. You are such a funny sight.” ~ Jack-o’-lantern Halloween Song

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Cheers to October! While autumn is my favorite season of the year, October happens to be my favorite month of the year. Spooky season is officially upon us, so I spent yesterday morning decorating one of my bathrooms with Halloween decor. It is a spooktacular happiness boost!

We have been experiencing some beautifully cool weather lately in Louisiana which makes me want to be outside enjoying it.

Yesterday, Gnarly Barley, a local brewery in Hammond, was hosting their first Oktoberfest. They featured four German beers and had a food truck (Fine Thyme Catering) providing German foodstuffs. The brewery is a family and dog friendly establishment, so we opted to bring Luna with us to work on her socializing skills. She is not a fan of riding in a vehicle, so this also gave her an opportunity to become more familiar with being in a vehicle.

We are proud of our Luna Belle. She trembled some on the way to the brewery, but on the way home, she seemed much more comfortable being in Barry’s truck. No trembling! I took a selfie of Luna and me on the way home, and she looks like she is smiling.

Luna did wonderfully on her first outing. She was a little excitable when she first got out of the truck, so Barry walked her for about 10 minutes, and she settled down. There were tons of people, lots of dogs and children, and strange new smells to give her a terrific socializing experience.

My friends, Shelly and Helen, met us at Gnarly Barley to enjoy the beautiful weather. We are now known as the cackling hens. Apparently, this is the title of Helen’s FB album where she puts pictures of us. I am guessing we earned the name (thanks, Shelly) because we do a great deal of cackling when we are together. Shelly and I became best friends when we met in the 3rd grade at St. Matthew the Apostle School in River Ridge. We lived down the street from each other growing up and now live down the street from each other as adults. Helen joined our friend group in high school and moved to Hammond in February after living in Colorado for many years.

Ironically, not one of us drank a German beer or ate German food (line too long). HA! I ordered Party Punch, a Berliner Weisse, which is “a luscious sour beer teeming with Cranberry and Pomegranate flavors.” Beer is not my favorite alcoholic beverage; however, this beer was tasty and tart, and it looked as if a foamy ghost was in my cup. Barry ordered a Imperial Peanut Butter Korova. The other two cackling hens did not order any beer as they had errands to run before coming to my house later that evening to watch Hocus Pocus 2.

Yesterday, I planned to watch Hocus Pocus 2 for the first movie on my Halloween Movie Marathon list. It is currently streaming on Disney+. I thought it would be fun to invite the cackling hens and Shelly’s husband Kerry to join Barry and me for a movie night, especially since it was not a scary movie. Most of my friends do NOT share my love of horror movies. Shelly’s daughter Claire also joined us after her shift ended at work.

We ate hotdogs with homemade chili (yum) and Bag of Bones Cheetos (yum). Barry mixed Hocus Pocus cocktails (delish) for us to enjoy during the movie. It only required four ingredients (2 Tbsp each): white grape juice, Melon liqueur, Sour Apple liqueur, and Vodka. We chose purple sugar to rim our glasses. The movie was witchy and wonderful, and we all enjoyed it. What a fang-tastic evening hanging out with friends!

Barry and I like to watch movies together; however, from time to time, we will pick a television series to watch together. Recently, he and I started watching an FX television show streaming on HULU called What We Do in the Shadows. We generally watch a couple of episodes on Friday evenings. It is a mockumentary comedy horror series, following the lives of four vampires living together on Staten Island in New York. Barry and I think it is hilarious. My favorite character is Guillermo de la Cruz, Nandor’s familiar, played by the actor Harvey GuillΓ©n. He has been employed for 10 years as a familiar and desperately wants Nandor to turn him into a vampire. Barry and I are currently on Season 2, and Guillermo has not been turned into a vampire, yet.

Time for me to do some more Halloween decorating. I want to tackle the mantle above my fireplace. So far, the fall season is off to a superb start. Oh, and to make it even more magnificent, The Walking Dead is back tonight for the 3rd part of its 11th season. I have to savor every episode since this is the last season. What were your plans for the first weekend of the spooky season, dear reader? Happiness!

β€œI’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

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Thanksgiving this year looked a little different from years past. We were missing a couple of people around the table, and the hubster and I went with a nontraditional Thanksgiving meal. We were striving for simple. Normally, Barry fries a turkey, and it is usually joined by cranberry sauce, a green veggie, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and a pecan or pumpkin pie. Since it would only be the four of us gathered around the table on Thursday, our menu consisted of turkey burgers, broccoli casserole, spinach artichoke dip, and cheesecake for dessert (courtesy of Rouse’s). Thankfully, I married a man who likes to cook. Everything on my plate was delicious. Of course, Mrs. Billie baked cookies. Chocolate chip cookies to be exact. My Daddy and Son #1 spent Thanksgiving in Atlanta with my sister Rachel, my brother-in-law Lee, and my beautiful niece Emma. According to my Daddy, their menu consisted of “ham, green bean casserole, and of course, dessert.”

On Friday evening, Barry and I joined Shelly and Kerry to attend Friendsgiving at my friend Wendy’s house. Shelly and I graduated from Riverdale High School with Wendy. This was my very first Friendsgiving event and Wendy’s first time hosting one. There were about 15 of us, mostly Riverdale graduates. What an absolutely awesome evening! Fantastic food, terrific conversation, and lots of laughter, especially when Wendy, Sharon, and Kristie performed their award-winning dance moves to the song “Heartbeat-It’s a Lovebeat” by the DeFranco Family, a Canadian pop music group from the 70s. Back in the 6th grade, they won the overall prize at their school’s talent show with this performance. Everyone had a wonderful time, so Wendy is planning to make Friendsgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, an annual event. Happiness Boost!

High School Friends: Shannon, Chris, Kat, Jeff, Kristie, Sharon, Michelle, Shelly, Stacey, Kim, Steve, Eddie, and Wendy (holding Millie)

The weekend kept on giving with last night’s Drink Nightsgiving (just made this up to even out the “giving” theme in the title of this post-HA!). Barry and I drove over to the Cyrus’s house to partake in libations with Shelly, Kerry, Mrs. Carol (Shelly’s mom), and Mr. Mike (Shelly’s bonus dad and my Godson). Drink Nights with the Cyruses originated because of COVID restrictions. I am not a big drinker; however, I like trying fancy cocktails. Kerry, who is our official bartender and enjoys mixing fancy cocktails, served us Black Cherry Chocolate Martinis last night. This yummy adult beverage is his very own concoction. To make one marvelous martini, you will need the following ingredients: 1 ounce chocolate vodka; 1 ounce cherry vodka; 2-3 ounces of Just Black Cherry Juice (Knudsen); Hershey’s dark chocolate syrup to taste. According to Kerry, “you can increase vodka amounts if you want it a bit stronger. Or, decrease vodka amounts if it’s too strong.” In addition to our martinis, we nibbled on snacks which included a cheese dip that Mrs. Carol made (shaped like a turkey), a crab rangoon dip that Shelly made, chocolate, and Cape Cod potato chips (provided by me). Another enjoyable evening spent with fabulous friends.

It’s now Sunday, the last day of my vacation. Although it was shortened this year because of Hurricane Ida, I am grateful for the much-needed break from my day job and for spending quality time with my family and friends. Family relationships and friendships are super important to me, and I have been blessed with many wonderful humans who bring so much joy to my life. And, you are also counted among those humans that enrich my life, dear reader. Thank you for being you and reading my content. If you participated in a “giving” activity or have a suggestion for a fancy cocktail, please share in the comments or email me at katloyacano@gmail.com. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend. Happiness!

β€œGratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. It is savoring, it is not taking things for granted, it is present-oriented.” ~ Sonja Lyubomirsky

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Autumn officially commenced on Tuesday and brought cooler temperatures with it. While the summer of 2020 was not how I originally envisioned spending my break, thanks to COVID-19, it turned out to be fairly pleasant. Back in June, I created a list of acceptable activities I could participate in while following the constraints mandated as a result of the pandemic. With the exception of planting new flowers in my garden (still weeded and watered existing plants), I participated in all of the activities on my list and added some additional ones.Β 

Bushwacker

Bushwacker

Social distancing limits socializing with people “in person” which is difficult for me because I greatly enjoy socializing with people in person; however, I did get to spend some “in person” time with my parents and a few friends. My hubby and I had a couple of drink nights with Shelly, her hubby, and additional guests (her mom, Mr. Mike, and our friend Karen). In June, we drank bushwackers (not a new cocktail for me, but new for my hubby) which are super yummy because they contain ice cream.

Jaguar Juice

Jaguar Juice

In August, we had two drink nights which featured two new cocktails, a Strawberry Cream Martini and Jaguar Juice. In addition to in person hangouts, I attended quite a few virtual improv hangouts this summer. And, thanks to my friend Brian, our improv group recently had two celebrity guests attend our hangout for Q and A sessions. One Tuesday night, Greg Proops hung out with us. The next evening, Jonathan Mangum joined us. Both have appeared on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and shared so much terrific information and encouragement with us.Β Β 

I scrapbooked a fair amount this summer on Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook. I have some journaling to complete on a few of his Ireland pages as well as his Wales pages, and then I can move on to his adventures in London.

Rock of Cashel

As I wrote in my last post, I enjoyed my “Summer of Poe.” Even though I didn’t get to read Poe’s entire body of work this summer, I plan to read the remainder of it in the near future.Β 

Chicken TaquitosChicken QuesidillasI did try my hand at some cooking this summer. I made chicken quesadillas, baked chicken bacon ranch taquitos, cranberry pecan chicken salad, crispy air fryer chicken tenders, and meatloaf with brown gravy. Yes, I know…lots of chicken. The recipes that I tried are basic (not many ingredients) because I don’t really enjoy cooking. Also, whatever I cook needs to also appeal to Andrew’s taste buds. Thankfully, he is not as picky as he used to be as a youngling. Out of everything I tried, he did not like the chicken salad which Barry and I absolutely loved. Since the summer is over, I have no desire to try any new recipes for the remainder of the year.Β 

Chicken Salad

As for exercising, I stuck with walking all summer. Rain or shine, I have not missed one day since I started back in March and hope to continue my streak. As for my weight loss journey, I wound up not taking it, even after all the preparation to start on June 1st and attempting to recommit in July. I also haven’t done much running. I dropped the ball, and I have had to reconcile myself with the fact that it may not happen this year. I’ve felt fragmented since all this COVID stuff has started, and I haven’t been able to focus on any one area for any length of time. I have too many irons in the fire, and I know I need to schedule my time better in order to get to everything I want to accomplish both personally and professionally. But, we all know, dear reader, that time management is my kryptonite. In fact, instead of taking items off of my plate and putting them on the back burner for a little bit, I have added more items which requires more time.Β  In addition, I’m not doing so hot on my 20 for 2020 list. Although, I still have a glimmer of hope that I can knock a few items off of my list in the remaining quarter of this year. We’ll see what the next three months have to offer.Β 

Despite not seeing friends I usually see, not doing activities I normally do, or not meeting goals I generally meet, I am grateful that I still had a summer break. My summer was different, dear reader, but much of it was also restorative, relaxed, and simple. And, sometimes, that is the blessing. Happiness!

“When summer gathers up her robes of glory, and, like a dream, glides away.”Β  Β  Β ~ Sarah Helen Whitman

Kentucky

at my Uncle Manuel’s home in Nicholasville, Kentucky

Β 

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Today’s post centers around reflection. When allowed a moment for contemplation, circumstances that appeared daunting and overwhelming lose its seriousness in the dawn of a new day. Revelations blossom from the stressful experiences providing armor for the next wave of challenges that will surely be faced in the future.

The last few weeks have been physically uncomfortable for me. I had my back bottom tooth on the left side of my mouth extracted on 22 July because it had a fracture and caused pain every time I ate a meal. It was replaced with bone and barrier with the intention of getting an implant in a few months. I’m experiencing pain daily from the barrier which will not be removed until 17 August. I’m not a fan of prescription pain medicine, so I have resorted to taking Ibuprofen when I’ve had enough discomfort. Then on 31 July, while making my way to turn off my alarm clock at 5:30 in the morning, I tripped over Sophie (it was dark and she was not sleeping on her bed) and fell hard on both elbows and my left knee. Needless to say, I could never be a stuntwoman because I cried like a baby for about 10 minutes and prayed that nothing was broken. Thankfully, Sophie was not hurt, and I did not break anything; however, I still have bruised elbows.

Prior to this (7 July), my BFF Shelly was rushed to the emergency room in Florida because she could not breathe. She had a pleural effusion on her left lung which had to be drained and biopsied. Now, she is on the path to determine the culprit, cancer or her heart which was damaged by radiation received when she had Hodgkin’s at 16 years old. This is weighing heavily on my mind. Although, each test that she has is leaning more in the direction of the heart, the results are not conclusive. And, there are more tests to be run and information to gather in the next few weeks. Concern is playing on the periphery of my mind like background music.

Sophie 8-4Mix in a wound on Sophie’s tail that turned out to be a growth that needed to be removed because it wouldn’t heal on its own. She is 12 years old. The procedure to remove the growth was performed on 30 July. She did well, and came home that afternoon. Unfortunately, she made it difficult to clean her surgical site (even though she is sweet, she can be ornery), and the decision to bring her back to the vet on 05 August was made on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, 05 August, I dealt with Sophie on top of worry for my friend, my own physical pain, and going back to work in the midst of a pandemic. School looks extremely different this year. One of my duties is morning carpool. I now take students’ temperatures before they get out of their car. My first morning carpool duty was Wednesday which happened to be the first day of school. My husband left to go out of town on Monday, so I had no truck to transport Sophie to the vet. My BFF offered her vehicle, but she could not drive because she had an angiogram the day before and was unable to drive for 48 hours. I had to drive. More stress added because driving her vehicle is like driving a bus. Andrew had to go to SLU at 10:00 that morning, and I needed him to help lift Sophie (she weighs 72 pounds) inside her kennel into the vehicle. Therefore, I had to leave work immediately after carpool duty, drive to Shelly’s house to pick up Shelly and her vehicle, drive to my house to pick up Sophie, drive to the vet and drop Sophie off for an extended stay, drive back home to drop off the kennel, drive back to Shelly’s house to drop her off with her vehicle, and then drive back to school to work for the remainder of the day. Oh, and I failed to mention that after work, I had to drive to Metairie to see my dentist so he could remove the stitches in my mouth.

Wednesday was an extremely stressful day for me due to the number of events that was happening that day and the logistics surrounding them. I’m no Superwoman; however, I made it through the day and accomplished everything that needed to get done. That evening, I cracked open a can of Bad Seed (fruited gose) and ruminated on the day.

Revelations:

  • I am responsible for my anxiety. Don’t catastrophize.
  • Although rather slowly, I can drive Shelly’s vehicle. It was not as scary as I thought.
  • I survived the day despite all that unnecessary anxiety because I allowed myself to lean on others and trust instead of thinking I had to do it all myself.
  • Gratitude trumps stress and anxiety. I’m grateful to Shelly, Andrew, Julia (my co-worker), Dr. Davis (our vet), and Terri (my administrator and friend) for helping me get through Wednesday.

As I’m writing this post today, dear reader, I feel silly that I worried so much. I’ve marked this day in my calendar so that the next time there is a day in my life that seems insurmountable, I can remind myself that I’m not expected to be Superwoman. I’m blessed to have people in my life who are always willing to help me. I just have to ask. Happiness!

“If we could remember the miracles God has done in our past, we would not so easily fall into worry and fear when we have new challenges to face.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Bad Seed

 

 

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Greetings, dear reader! We have made it through the second week of social distancing and staying home in an attempt to keep everyone safe and stop the spread of the Coronavirus. And, while all seems to be going relatively well for my family and friends in our little bubble of the world, there are other parts of our world, country, state, and local community where our neighbors are not faring so well. It’s unfathomable at times that we are experiencing this horrible situation which, if I’m not careful, leaves me feeling raw emotions and vulnerable. I’ve gotten to where I only check the stats on the Louisiana Department of Health. I don’t listen to the news and read very few articles related to the virus. It’s not that I don’t care, because I care a great deal; I cannot mentally handle the negativity. Instead, I choose to pray, work, and maintain a routine of normalcy. I’m trying to rely on my faith instead of focusing on the invisible, silent monster that is lurking in our world ready to claim any one of us as its next victim. I feel as if we are living in an episode of the Twilight Zone where at any minute little Timmy will banish us into the cornfield.

 

What have I been doing to cope with living in the Twilight Zone?

Purple Flowers

Flowers spotted on one of my daily walks.

Walking with Levar Burton: I think I have begun a streak. I have walked at least one mile every day this past week. I pair my walk with listening to the podcast Levar Burton Reads. Most of the stories that Burton reads are fantasy, speculative fiction, or science fiction. This week I listened to episodes #33-#36 and three live performances (interviews with the author are included after the story). Good stuff! I enjoyed all seven stories; however, “Singing on a Star” and “Asymmetry” were my favorites.

  • #33 “The Cell Phones” by Karen E. Bender
  • #34 “Singing on a Star” by Ellen Klages
  • #35 “Yiwu” by Lavie Tidhar
  • #36 “Morning Child” by Gardner Dozois
  • LIVE! in Brooklyn: “Playing Nice with God’s Bowling Ball” by N.K. Jemisin
  • LIVE! in Austin: “Asymmetry” by Kendra Fortmeyer
  • LIVE! in Atlanta: “The Vishakanya’s Choice” by Roshani Chokski

Instagram Live: Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Kraft have been hosting a live chat each afternoon (Monday-Friday) called “Coping with COVID-19 Conversation.” Enjoyable distraction.

Listening to Podcasts: I listen to podcasts every day. They are part of my daily routine, and I pair them with completing certain tasks. Some of my podcasts have daily episodes while others have weekly episodes.

  • Before Breakfast with Laura Vanderkam (time management)
  • Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau (side hustle stories and advice)
  • Happier With Gretchen Rubin (happiness/productivity tips)
  • Happier in Hollywood (happiness/productivity tips)
  • Office Ladies (companion to the hit television series The Office)
  • The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos (science of happiness)
  • Fueled: Wellness + Nutrition with Molly Kimball (wellness and nutrition)
  • Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations (spirituality and inspiration)
  • Talking Like Normal People (acting)
  • Twenty Thousand Hertz (stories about the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds)

Connecting with Family and Friends: Every day, I am reaching out to family members or friends through phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media. It has been comforting to me to stay in contact with my peeps. Admittedly, I have been spending more than my usual amount of time on Facebook. I’m having fun cutting up with my friends and taking silly surveys, posting pictures of beaches and my fur babies, watching scrapbook layout videos and videos of animals at various zoos, and wishing friends and family happy birthday blessings.

Reading/Scrapbooking: I LOVE to read, as well as scrapbook. However, it has been kind of hard for me to focus for very long on either activity. Strange, I know. I did start reading a book of short stories by Joe Hill. The book is titled Full Throttle. I have read the introduction to the collection and a story called “Throttle” which he wrote with his famous dad Stephen King. As for scrapbooking, not too much going on there. I have trimmed some photos, ordered some specialty paper, and talked about it with my BFF Shelly.

Turtle

This little guy greeted me Saturday morning when I let the dogs out.

As you can see, dear reader, I am trying to participate in activities that are positive and uplifting. I leave the house only when necessary because it does cause me anxiety to go out. I feel like I need to take a decontamination shower before entering my home. This upcoming week I want to continue walking, meditate using Hope in Uncertain Times, and work on completing some of the items on my 20 for 2020 list. Even though we are facing uncertainty right now, we do still have much to be grateful for in our lives. How are you coping through this trying time, dear reader? Please connect with me if you want to share your tips for coping with COVID-19 or if you just want to chat. Happiness!

β€œStay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm, and genuine people.” Β  Β  ~ Tena Desae

 

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It has been a little over a week since I went on my adventure to Pho NOLA with my awesome friend Michelle. She is quite adventurous when it comes to trying new restaurants and new foods, which usually entails a good bit of ethnic food. In addition to American fare, we have eaten Korean, Cuban, and Mexican together. Because of distance, we do not get to hang out together as much as I would like, so when an opportunity presents itself, I take it. I can always count on Michelle to suggest somewhere terrific for us to enjoy a fantastic meal and a wonderful conversation.

Meatball Pho

Meatball Pho

When deciding where to eat lunch, I shared with her that one of my 20 for 2020 (#11) was to try 20 new restaurants this year. Since I had never eaten Vietnamese food, she suggested Pho NOLA in Metairie. I relied totally on Michelle to help me order because I had no clue. Of course, on my first visit, I had to try the pho (pronounced fu).

Brisket Pho

Brisket Pho

For those of you not familiar with pho, it is a popular Vietnamese soup traditionally found on the streets of Vietnam that is served in restaurants globally. It consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. The key ingredient in the soup is the broth which simmers for many hours. A variety of meats can be used, including chicken and shrimp.

Trying PhoI ordered a combo meal: meatball pho with a grilled shrimp Banh Mi, a Vietnamese PoBoy (sandwich). Michelle opted for the same, but ordered brisket pho. The bread used to make the sandwich comes from a well-known Vietnamese bakery in New Orleans East called Dong Phuong Bakery. The bakery is famous for their king cakes. I have not been fortunate enough to try one of their king cakes; however, the bread that was used to make my Banh Mi was delicious.

SmoothieMy first experience eating Vietnamese at Pho NOLA was gratifying. My food was scrumptious. The meatball pho was heavenly and a perfect choice for the cold day (warm with a perfect blend of seasonings). A basket was brought to the table with basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, and scallions to garnish the pho. I chose only to add bean sprouts and cilantro. My sandwich tasted fresh and flavorful with the right combination of grilled shrimp dressed with aioli (light mayo mixture), pickled carrots and daikon (radish), cucumber, and cilantro. YUMMO! We topped off lunch by ordering BOBA Smoothies with tapioca pearls. I requested a mango and pineapple smoothie (delicious), and Michelle requested an avocado one (equally delicious). She was sweet enough to let me taste her avocado smoothie. Now, I dream about these delightful concoctions. What a wonderful treat with my AMAZING friend! Pho NOLA was a hit and a perfect place to start trying twenty new restaurants this year.

Pho NOLAHaving lunch and spending time with Michelle is always a happiness boost. Trying a new restaurant AND a new cuisine with her was a joyful adventure. I will definitely eat Vietnamese cuisine again, and I look forward to trying the different types of pho. Dear reader, I highly recommend having an adventure eating a cuisine that you have never tried before or visiting a new restaurant. You can even be adventurous at a restaurant that you frequent often by trying something new. I’d loved to know what new foods or new restaurants that you have tried recently. Please share your adventures with me because I have 19 more new restaurants to try before the end of 2020.

“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

 

 

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Michelle & Kat

Michelle’s Birthday Lunch @ Gogi Korean

Ah, the last day of July and what I consider, the last day of summer break. July has been another fabulous month this summer which has been super good to me, so I will not lament that it has come to an end. I’ve enjoyed plenty of awesome experiences this month which included a Kagan Coaching Conference in Orlando, Florida. Attending this conference allowed me to bring my boys to Disney World, and we spent some time at the Disney parks. Animal Kingdom was our favorite.

I also celebrated good times with my fabulous friend Michelle who happens to be a July baby. Korean FoodWe enjoyed Korean food for her birthday lunch followed by rolled ice cream from RoulΓ© for dessert. Other highlights of July were going to the movies (The Incredibles 2, Ant-Man and the Wasp, The Equalizer 2), a museum visit, a concert, a scrapbooking evening with my BFF Shelly, and a lunch date with my friend Kelly Parker LeGrand. This was the first time Kelly and I had seen each other in over 20 years. We talked for hours. My only regret was that we didn’t take any pictures together. Hopefully, it won’t be another 20 years before we have lunch together again.

IMG_1561While I enjoyed much happiness this month, there was also some sadness. My extended family in Utah said good-bye to my sweet Uncle Charles. I feel blessed to have known him and grateful for plenty of fond memories of times spent with him. I can bet he is well established in heaven telling stories and jokes. Rest in peace, Uncle Charles!

IMG_1573

Tower of Terror

I am semi-officially back at work this week meeting with teachers in my new role as an Instructional/Curriculum Coach. I had my first PLC meeting today with the lovely fourth grade teachers. I felt it was successful. Tomorrow is August 1st and Andrew’s 17th birthday, so he and I will celebrate his birth in the evening with dinner at Chili’s. We will officially celebrate him as a family later in the month of August. Until next time, dear reader, stay positive, focused on your dreams, and grateful for all of your blessings. Happiness!

 

β€œGet your dance on today…move some energy around…visualize everything as you want it to be…Fullness, Completeness…You!”  ~ Sereda Aleta Dailey, The Oracle of Poetic Wisdom

 

 

 

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Sonic 6-2018

Sonic

For educators, Fridays during the summer months have a remarkably different vibe than Fridays during the rest of the year. In fact, I almost forgot today was Friday. Tooty (aka Comet) woke me up at 6:20 this morning. I lazily rolled out of bed, fed my fur babies, made some tea, got back in bed, and proceeded to finish The Dante Club. Ah, how I love these mornings during the summer! And, nowhere to go until this evening when my family and I have dinner at my mother-in-law’s house. Andrew drove himself to his dermatology appointment. Barry, Jr. stopped by for a visit. Today was a day similar to quite a few days for me this week. My days were not heavily scheduled which allowed me plenty of time during the week to read, watch television, relax, and fiddle faddle in my scrapbook room.

 

Laser Die CutOn Tuesday, I ordered a few more scrapbook supplies. I pulled some pictures from Andrew’s trip to Ireland, set up my Scrap’n Easel, assembled a laser die cut, and semi-laid out the page. Now that my room is set up specifically for scrapbooking, I can leave everything out and leisurely work on my pages. After lunch, I met a friend of mine, that I had not seen in a few years, for coffee. It was a nice couple of hours catching up with Angie. Visiting with her made me realize that I want to carve out more time this summer to connect with my friends that I do not get to see on a regular basis. Friendships bring an enormous richness of joy to one’s life; however, they need to be cultivated in order to flourish.

Early Wednesday morning, Andrew and I headed to North Cypress Fitness Center to play tennis. Andrew played tennis for the first time this spring, and he really enjoyed it. He has been after me the last couple of months to get a tennis racket, so we can play together. With no exaggeration, I have not played tennis in the last 20 years. I had no expectations for myself but hoped I could manage to get the ball over the net. We played a total of eight games, and I won two. Woo-Hoo! However, I must definitely work on my serve. After playing tennis, we stopped at Home Deport to get a few more plants for our front garden. My BFF Shelly had given me some white impatiens last week, so I planted those along with my new plants as soon as I got home.

 

Sonic with Toy

Sonic is always ready to play.

On Thursday, I attended a professional development workshop at HGCS. It was informative and a nice opportunity to see my school friends. In the afternoon, my hubby and I drove to Mandeville with Sonic to see his dermatologist for a follow-up. Last June, Sonic was diagnosed with perianal fistulas and was put on an extensive and expensive treatment plan. At Sonic’s April visit, his doctor dropped his medication down to twice a week. Thankfully, the affected area looks terrific. Sonic will remain on the medication twice a week and continue his current diet with a recheck in six months. This was exactly the news we wanted to hear.

 

While listening to an episode of the podcast, Side Hustle School, a speech pathologist shared with Chris Guillebeau something her mother always told her:Β  “you should have something to look forward to every day.” Liz Martin’s mom gave her daughter some awesome advice that we can all take to heart. Basically, many of us work all week looking forward to the special experiences we will be engaging in on the weekend. TGIF does not have to be our mantra. Every day this week, I had at least one “something” or more to look forward to every single day that brought me joy. It really is up to us, dear reader, to pay attention to any moment, big or small, that may make our DAY more enjoyable without having to wait for the weekend to experience it. With that being said, and while I’m mentioning the weekend, I do hope you have wonderful plans in the works for your weekend. I’m spending mine in New Orleans with my hubby. Happiness!

β€œJoy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” ~ Marianne Williamson

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TAC Shirt

Friends + Photos + Scrapbook Supplies + Snacks = A Fun-filled Weekend Preserving Memories.Β My friends and I spent 31 May – 03 June at The Acadiana Croppers’ (TAC) annual scrapbooking event at the Hilton’s New Orleans Airport in Kenner, Louisiana. It was a wonderful few days to catch up with my scrapbooking buddies while exploring my creativity with no interruptions from the outside world.

 

Crew at TAC

Heather, Donna, Carol, Kat, Shelly, and Courtney

This year TAC was scheduled earlier than in past years. Since it was earlier, I knew my time planning for the event would be limited. Therefore, I decided to spend the long weekend scrapping Andrew’s trip to Ireland, Wales, and London. I only completed three double layouts which is largely due to the fact that I was not very organized. I needed more time to talk to Andrew about the pictures he took on the trip. As you can see from the two layouts on Wales, I still have journaling to complete on both. I need some details from Andrew about the significance of the pictures and a fact or two about the places.

 

Wales

Beaumaris CastleAnother tidbit about me, the scrapbooker, is I am as slow as a snail when it comes to scrapbooking. Depending on the project, it takes me some time to think about the layout. If the project has an overwhelming amount of photos, choosing the best ones can slow me down. I act as if I am preparing a layout for a prestigious magazine, and my career depends on the finished product instead of making a memory keepsake for the members of my family. HA! Even though I did not get as many layouts completed as I had hoped, I still had a terrific time with my friends, and I learned some new techniques using supplies (embossing enamel, antique brilliance wax, rust effect paste, and gel pens) to make my scrapbooks more interesting. I have all summer to finish working on this project for Andrew. I will have more time to make decisions about the layouts, the photos, and what I want to say or rather what Andrew wants to say about his recent adventure in Europe.

Cliffs of MoherIn addition, my scrapbooking weekend has inspired me to get better organized in my scrapbooking room. Yesterday, I cleared everything not related to scrapbooking out of my room with the exception of a file cabinet. Then, I vacuumed, dusted, and mopped. My goal now is to organize all of my supplies. I bought a new sticker binder, while at the event, to house ALL of my stickers. My old binder can barely zip, and I have stickers in various places. I want them all in one central location divided by category. I also need to reorganize my paper by color/pattern and clear out old page kits of completed layouts. This will allow me to create new page kits with all of the necessary supplies, so the next time I want to attend a crop, I can grab and go. Getting organized will take awhile; however, in the end, the time spent will be well worth it. The organization will create time and space for me to actually scrapbook…hopefully, more than once a year.

Kat & Shelly TAC

Well, dear reader, it is time for me to bid you adieu. After all, I must get back to organizing my scrapbooking room since I have gained momentum. Have a glorious week meeting whatever goals you are trying to reach. Happiness!

“Scrapbooking isn’t about scraps of paper and photos. Scrapbooking is about scraps of life – yours and those special to you.” ~Rebecca Sower

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