“The Bread”

When you tell your husband what you have planned for dinner that night, and he says, “And The Bread, right?” you better” know what The Bread” is. In our house, “The Bread” is a loaf of French cut into half inch rounds covered in marscapone cheese and my Oma’s plum jam. That is then baked in the oven for about 5 minutes at 250 degrees.

Sadly, we used up the last bit of jam the last time we ate this wonderful little dessert/side dish and now are at a loss of how to consume the rest of the cheese. Tonight we are going to try it with whatever jams and jelly we have in the house.

I suggested that we buy Oma some plums so that she can make more jam. Hubs suggested that I help her and steal her recipe. That’s probably a better idea.

Roasted Duck Breast

Today’s adventure in cooking was a roasted duck breast. Back in October, Hubs and I went to the Philly Food Fest (which was amazing and filling and eye opening) where I had duck breast for the first time. The sample was so gosh-darn good that we bought the last duck breast they had on the spot. It kept very well in the freezer this whole time.

I didn’t want to do to much to the duck breast, so I followed the instructions of a UK specialty poultry outfit, Gressingham Duck. Best decision I could have made. Image

Starting with a duck breast, I salted and seared the fatty side in a pan until it was lightly browned. Gressingham didn’t specify whether or not I should sear the other side, so I salted and seared it just to be on the safe side. WORTH. IT. After that I was able to put it in the oven on a raised rack for the remaining fat to drain off.

I am nothing if not resourceful. Because I used my other baking pans for the brussel sprouts and dessert, you’ll notice I had to rig a cooling rack to a cake pan. Worked like a charm. Image

Ten minutes in the oven at 400 degrees, and then five or more minutes to rest after cooking created the most moist, tender looking duck breast I have ever seen.  I was a little worried by the amount of blood that oozed out when I cut it, but after tasting it, I couldn’t care less.  The duck breast was cooked all the way through and had a beautiful dark pink hue.

Hubs was impressed. That is a major benchmark for whether or not any given food product will get a second chance in this household. This recipe was easy and quick enough that I would be able to make this on short notice provided that the duck was thawed.

Duck breast has a naturally soft texture, like a rare steak. It melts in your mouth and the seared fatty bits added the most delectable crispy crunch. To finish the meal, I created a mac and cheese of my own creation, and citrus-honey brussel sprouts based on a recipe from Two Peas and Their PodIMG_5682

I am very excited to try some more recipes to share with you all!

Back To It

I am so bad at this.  I plan on blogging again.  Now that I am unemployed, I have ample time.  However, I seem to spend that time playing Candy Crush than doing anything productive like cleaning or organizing the mess I left in the office.  

Yesterday I painted my nails. I know. Thrilling. Over the past few days I have stained and varnished a couch table. That’s a little more productive. I have made some fairly impressive meals, some of which my husband ate, some of which were only appreciated by my palate.  

In addition to doing daily yoga and going to gym more frequently (okay, at all), I want to blog more about the things I do with my puppies and some of the things I cook.  Hubs got me a Canon Eos T5i DSLR for Christmas so you can probably expect some food porn pics up and about as well. 

My Weakness

Labor Day weekend I stumbled across two little, black-ish kittens who were just hanging out in the woods by my house. It’s not uncommon to see cats there as there is actually a pretty significant feral population. How to deal with that on a large scale is a totally separate issue.

Tonight, I stumbled across what appeared to be one of the same kittens from before stuck in a nearby tree, mewing sadly. Because I was out with the dogs, I took them back inside, put on some grungy clothes, and prepared myself to climb this tree to rescue said kitten. On the way back to the tree I saw a momma cat with 3 or 4 other kittens and assumed that he was left behind or separated from the bunch. I called for her to do a head count and come get her missing baby, but that was silly. She doesn’t speak human.

I got over there with my flashlight app. I foolishly mewed to the kitten and pleaded with it to come down, but of course that was no use because I’m a large predator in the eyes of a small kitten. I found of decent footing in the dim light and got about 4 feet into the tree. I was just about eye to eye with the kitten and was able to reach out and grab him. However, in my attempt to not Lenny squeeze him into submission, I didn’t hang on tight enough and he squirmed his way farther out onto the branch. It was likely not going to hold my weight so I went no further.

I thought about stealing borrowing a ladder from a nearby utility truck and using that to grab the kitten. I decided against it because, let’s face it, a person with a ladder outside of an apartment complex in the middle of the night is a bit creepy, no matter who you are or why you need it.

So I walked back to my building, dejected and kitten-less. I do want to make it clear that I would not have brought the kitten inside. I would have set it on the ground and directed it back to the woods or near to its mother so they could be together again. However, I am toying with the notion of calling the local Humane or SPCA to come get them. Winter is coming and I don’t want them to suffer the elements. Feral life is not easy. After what happened last winter to the white cat, I don’t know if I can take much more death of innocent animals.

Here is where it all comes back to social work. As I came back into the house, Monty and Lola were very excited to see me. They get confused when we come home, then turn around and leave again. I then realized that I just made one of the serious mistakes of a social worker. I neglected my own family to try to fix someone else’s. I cried at my mistake. I hugged Monty and Lola so hard. They had no idea why I was crying, but they scooted close to me and licked my face anyways.

When Ben called on his break to say goodnight I told him this story and cried almost the whole time. He promised to drive by the tree and check to see if the kitten is still there on his way home. He’s so wonderful the way he understands me.

We see things that need to be done but we don’t always know how to correct them on our own. That’s one of the beautiful things of social service positions is that you don’t have to go it alone; you just have to find the right resource to help with what you need. I’m really glad to have made that connection between my personal and professional life so I can be more aware of it in the future.

Babies

Two of my best friends from college, who are still best friends with each other, gave birth to their first children within days of each other this week. What was that?! That’s the sound of my ovaries giving up all hope.

I really hope that it happens right away when we are ready, because this waiting because of school thing is really hard. Also, I hope that the stress on my body isn’t doing irreparable damage to my prospects.

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Prep for Thailand!

I leave for Thailand in about 8 weeks.  This is coming up faster than I thought it would.  I have started a list of things that I should consider taking.  This list will probably be whittled down after a while, but this is what I am planning to take so far.  If you can volunteer any other items that I have forgotten so far, I’d be glad to add them to the list.  

On the plane:
Inflatable pillow

Meds:
Birth control
Contacts
Glasses
Anti nausea
Multivitamin
Aspirin
Imodium
Antacids
Suntan lotion ✔
Insect repellent
Hydrocortisone
Woolite
Gatorade packs/gels
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Floss
Antibacterial wipes

Clothing:
Light weight jacket
Tshirts
Long shorts
Sweater to cover shoulders (at temple)
Dresses
Long skirts
Swimsuit
Hat
Sunglasses
Sarong, scarves to cover up
Lightweight walking shoes
Bras
Comb
Mascara
Febreeze

Misc:
Passport
Power converter
Camera
Camera charger
Phone
Phone charger
Pen(s)
Dictionary
Hand towel
Water bottle
Bag or backpack for shopping
Nail clipper
Souvenirs to give out?
Ziplocks?
Energy bars?

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Ending Therapy

For the last half of this semester I choose to seek therapy for some pervasive and obnoxious thoughts. It’s all good now and she really helped to normalize what I was doing and realize that I have have control over things in my life.

Sometimes I wonder what higher education does to a person. I used to be happy. I say that like I’m totally miserable all the time, but that’s not the case. Promise. I can still find the silver lining in just about any situation, and my prac cohort has really given me some awesome reasons to smile on a regular basis. Not to mention having Hubs here is a thrill all in its own.

My point is: I overthink things. A LOT. If I don’t force myself to be “in the moment” I am frequently outside myself thinking of things in the past that I said or did or what the reaction was of the other person and how I could have done things differently and how that would have caused them to react and then it just goes on and on and on. If its not the past, it’s the future and I think about what my actions would do to those around me and how I would handle it, and what if I did it differently and how the reaction would be then or based off of previous experience how they might or might not say to me and on and on and on. Even as I was writing those sentences my mind was wandering to work and next semester and my childhood and having babies. My brain is busy. All the time. And I can’t figure out a way to turn it off or slow it down.

Some might say that it is a good thing that my mind is always on. It’s good because I can usually come up with an answer at a moments notice. It’s bad, because I can’t hardly stay for used on one thing for long enough to actually see it get done the first time. Luckily, it hasn’t affected my sleep yet. Once that happens, I don’t know what I would do.

Again, back to the main point of all this: I loved therapy. I loved my therapist. She called me “high-functioning” which is like, the HIGHEST compliment you can get in therapy. At the end of our sessions, she wanted me to reflect on what I go out of therapy that can help me in the real world. Because I am the way I am, I tried to give some highbrow, intellectual answer. She was kind when she told me it was complete crap. This program has damaged the way I think as a normal, non-student person.

Once she called me out on it, I stumbled to think of something personal that I landed for myself. We hugged, we parted ways. Of course, again, because I am the way I am, I then started to over think the answer I gave. I was able to better quiet my mind, but I still think about it a little and I’ve come up with this:
1. It’s okay for me to be happy. Ecstatic even. Happiness is not a flaw.
2. It’s okay for me to smile. Other emotions are okay to express, too.
3. It’s okay to be in the moment. I can take time for myself and enjoy life.
4. It’s okay to plan, but not forever. I should focus on the most likely scenario. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Isn’t that strange? Something that most children know without hesitation has been so “beaten” out of me during my time at the university that I have to tell myself to enjoy life? But I’m not going to spend any more time on it today. That’s progress.

Squeaky Wheels

The majority if my prac cohort is unhappy with what is expected of them. By they are not making any effort to make the changes they want to see. I listen to them complain every day about how we were never told from the beginning about what would be expected of us.

The grant that was given to our team was reduced and therefore had to be changed quite a bit by the time we got there. Because of the restructuring, there was a large chunk of time at the beginning of semester that we didn’t know what we were supposed to do with the kids and how it would apply to our social work schedule.

I feel like I have been able to make the most of my time spent at the school. Right away I was able to identify a child who was being an issue in the classroom and have been working one on one with him in class in order to get the practice that I think I need. I have heard some of my cohorts explain that there are no problem kids in their class, or they don’t get enough time with the kids, or the teacher doesn’t let them participate fully in the class.

To me, all of those seem like obstacles that can be worked around. We get one-on-one time with our supervisors and have time each week to talk about these problems we run into. Granted, I’m not a part of their supervisor meetings, but when they are done, they complain that the supervisor only talked with them for 15 or 30 mins when they are allotted an hour. To me, this says that they are not bringing up their concerns or ideas on their own and not offering solutions to their problems.

To hear these same concerns every day makes me even more determined to make my voice heard. We had our problems with prac early on, but I feel that we have to move past this and do what we can to make this experience the best we can.

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