Blarg.

Between work and some social engagements I was going, going, going, this week until I dropped last night at 6pm. Since my drywall/plaster repair/painting folks arrive tomorrow morning, I had to get up bright and early today, too, to start boxing and bagging up my things. As a result, my external surroundings now mirror my internal chaos. Either physically or metaphorically,  everywhere I look lately I see something like this:

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Blarg! Back to work on all fronts…

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Cozy

It is a dreary day. The weather is 34 degrees and it is raining. Yesterday it was equally cold (but no rain) and I made Carbonade Flamande, a beef stew made with dark Belgian beer. It takes ages to cook and the final result is ugly but incredibly delicious, and goes perfectly with the weather. I was looking forward to the Carbonade so much Рand having Mark over for dinner to partake with me Рthat this morning when it was all over, stew eaten and Mark gone home, I felt quite bereft.

So I filled the void by making bread. A ridiculously rich bread that for me used up the leftover cream from last night’s chocolate mousse topping. I’ve made it before, and baker beware that this bread is way too delicious, but otherwise I recommend it. I just popped one loaf in the oven, while the other half of the dough has been shaped and frozen for future consumption.

Otherwise, all is well in my little world. Last weekend’s adventure to Ann Arbor for tango festival was restorative and soothed my soul, and rekindled my love of dancing over a bit of winter hiatus. This weekend all I’ve wanted to do is hibernate, which I have done with great success. I’ve been feeling lazy and day-dreamy and cozy, watching murder mysteries, finishing a book, thinking of Italy and wishing for home while I putter and bake. I feel unmotivated but utterly content. Some weekends are like that.

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Busy Bee

For those of you curious what I’m doing with my day off, I’m knocking items off my to-do list, including: finally taking my warm weather clothes out of my drawers so that they aren’t bursting at the seams, calling someone about fixing the holes in my ceiling leftover from my AC debacle, and sorting through my pile of mail to deal with “later.”

It hasn’t been all chores – I did make myself buckwheat pancakes for breakfast, and finished reading My Antonia by Willa Cather. I’ve also spent slightly longer than I should have googling around about Italy, for an increasingly real trip that will take place in October with Mark!

That’s all I’ve got for you right now, I’m afraid. I need to run and buy a floor lamp, before moving onto the next five million things.

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Bread

I read somewhere lately that people are most likely to run marathons when their age ends in a 9, such as 29, 39, 49 or so on, the idea being that major round numbered years are markers in people’s lives that they use like landmarks. Now that I’m in year 29, I too have been feeling the urge to DO something before I hit 30. For me that thing is applying for grad school.

I suppose I bring this up because, although my birthday was over four months ago, it is also now a new year. I am filled with determination. Plus, now that the hubbub of fall is out of the way, I have no more excuses – I am officially really truly, going to take the GRE this summer before I turn 30, and I will apply for grad school before the year is out.

Whether or not I actually go is another question, but I’ve been talking about taking the GRE and mayyybe going to grad school for so long that I myself am sick of it. Sick. of. it. Apologies for those who have had to listen to me dither about it for the last decade. So this is the year that I will just buckle down and take the blasted test, and fill out those silly applications. If I get in, I get in, and if I don’t, I don’t, I can move on in life.

To be honest I’m not really scared of the application or graduate school – what has always terrified me from the very beginning is the math portion of the GRE. I wish I could chop it up to testing anxiety, but the reality is that I have math anxiety. Math has always made me feel dumb. This means that while I haven’t thought about math for over a decade, merely brushing up my skills won’t do it. I actually need to sit down and re-learn a boatload of information.

But I’m tired of my math-phobia keeping me back. It’s just simple math, nothing fancy – others have learned it, so I can too.

To make the process a little more bearable, today I made bread while studying. Everything about making bread is relaxing. Kneading the bread, the leisurely rising process, the soothing aroma as it bakes…Even my algebra anxiety doesn’t stand a chance. But if this bread baking becomes a habit, maybe next year I won’t have a choice – I’ll have to tackle that marathon to compensate.

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R&R

This weekend I am taking a break from my global tour to clean my bathroom, which has reached peak levels of grossness after being neglected for about a month, (ew ew ew but I was out of town!) and do other terribly adult things, like deal with bills, sign up for a new 2018 neighborhood parking pass for Mark, and properly grocery shop at last.

Yes, my trip to Europe was lovely. I flew into the Friday before Thanksgiving to Copenhagen, spending a little time there on each end of my journey, and enjoyed the rest of my week in Slovenia. Slovenia was still comfortingly and wonderfully itself, but the real highlight of my time there was simply seeing old friends. (This also made it inadvertently a rather budget-friendly adventure, since I didn’t have to pay for lodging, hardly was allowed to spend anything on food or travel inside the country, and didn’t have any expensive museums to get into or fancy things to shop for.)

Far more interesting to me was Copenhagen. It was rainy off and on, chilly, and the constant high gusts of wind drove the cold through me like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I was astounded by how the Danes calmly sauntered through their city in a minimum of warm clothes, while I was layered up to the max and constantly had duck into shops to encourage my feet to remember what blood flow is. It was also so dark – the sun set around 3:30 pm.

All that said, I loved Copenhagen. I arrived just in time for all the Christmas decorations to go up, and together with the locals I stood around outside, freezing my toes off while drinking boozy mulled wine and downing grilled sausages. The city is small enough to wrap your head around, it oozes old Northern European charm, and everyone, of course, speaks better English than me. I wish I had a reason to ever return.

Many pictures below:

Yum –

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Sage wisdom:

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Christmas decor!

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Before:

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After (different vantage point):

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Boats! Lovely Copenhagen!

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The home of Wasa crackers is certainly nearby – I counted at least fifteen types of Wasa crackers at a local corner store.

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And a few Slovenia pictures to round things out –

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Roasted chestnuts over an open fire. You can’t make this stuff up.

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Much travel is still to come. Next weekend Mark and I are meeting up with some friends in Annapolis, the week after that we’ll be in the best place on earth, i.e. Portland, and now it looks like at the end of January I’ll be in Ann Arbor, because who doesn’t want to go to Michigan at the end of January? (It’s for a tango festival.) At least the airplane tickets should be dirt cheap.

Whew.

Quick Tree Break

Although I’m sad that both my dad and the fall have come and gone, I’m glad that I was able to spend some time with both. (While I have to wait another three seasons for fall to come back around, at least I get to see my dad again in just a few weeks.)

Next stop: Copenhagen!

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Hello, Goodbye, November

This could be the last that you hear from me until mid-December, since I am either entertaining a special guest or out of town every weekend from here to December 9th. Already I shudder to think about the layer of dust and grime that will accumulate over the next few weeks. Yikes. And for those keeping track, I still have not fixed the holes in my ceiling from the AC replacement debacle, so I’m guessing that won’t be resolved until December at the earliest, either.

I’m trying not to freak out overly much, but I am so excited for just about everything. (Except work, I suppose, but work is work.) Next Wednesday my dad arrives for a visit! The Wednesday after that is Mark’s birthday and we’re going to a swanky restaurant! The Friday that same week I’m leaving for a week long trip to EUROPE! Then the weekend after I get back Mark’s and my friends are going to Shenandoah the weekend to hike! Woohoo!

In the meantime, I have much to do. Today is my last solid chance to thoroughly clean my apartment before my dad’s arrival, I am determined to study for the GRE, and I want to finally upgrade from my 2013 16 GB iPhone to an iPhone SE. So ta ta for now! Gotta run.

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