In A Word…

Musings from the West Coast and the Midwest

Simple Baked Potato Soup

This recipe was passed on to me by a family member, so I more or less cook it from memory now. I don’t post recipies here a lot, but this feels worth sharing for the holidays. 

Original ingredients:

  • Chicken and/or vegetable broth (1 can for every lb of potatoes)
  • Salt and pepper
  • (Seasoning salt and chives if you’d prefer)
  • Potatoes – Brown if you want to peel them, red or yellow if you don’t. We NEVER peel them.
  • 16 oz of cream cheese for a 5lb bag of red potatoes
  1. Cut potatoes into eighths or manageable chunks.
  2. Cover with broth
  3. Add salt and pepper
  4. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours
  5. Leave the cream cheese out to soften, then cube and add sometime during/after you’re done cooking (original recipe said “add within the last hour of cooking” – so if it was high for six hours, you add it at the 5 hour mark)
  6. Simmer for an hour or until it melts.

Garnish with cheddar cheese, cheddarjack jeese, or Pepperjack cheese (I used to have trouble with pepperjack because I’d shred it and my family would get nervous:  THOSE ARE PEPPERS!!!). You can also fry up bacon for “baked potato” soup

Modifications to mine, this month:

  • Almost an entire 3lb bag of red potatoes
  • Two small/med heads of Broccoli and about ½ a slice of red onion, chopped
  • 8 oz cream cheese & 2 cans chicken broth
  • About ½ cup of chardonnay (Cheap box wine, last of my box)
  • About ½ cup of alfredo sauce (to thicken it up, you don’t need as much broth if you use broccoli)
  • About ½ bag of Italian shredded cheese and Colby jack cheese, also to thicken it up, because it wasn’t going to HURT anything at that point


Happy Cooking!

Trivial thoughts for Winter

Depression is not inextricably linked to winter for me. I have a lot of love and joy attached to Christmas, my family, my son, New Year’s Eve celebrations, my sister’s birthday, and so many other things. Three of my favorite holidays (Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day) fall into this part of the year. I love the glisten of holiday lights, the magical float of snow in the air, the crisp in my lungs and breathing the hot air out like a dragon’s smoke.

I know the above paragraph sounds really sugary and imaginary, like I’m discounting pain, hardship, or other things that happened in my past over the holidays. Working on Christmas or Thanksgiving, my mother’s death, days away from Christmas, other little petty dramas (and a few big ones) linked to this magical season. Dwelling on the darkness gives it power, acknowledging that they happened and moving on is forgiveness, or healing – or both.  Knowing that some things cannot be fixed is half the path to moving on.

Working on the holidays isn’t so bad, it’s time and a half.  I have a Christmas book with notes on how to prepare for the holidays, hand-written by my mom.  (I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by, is it really November? Pinch me. Please.) This is the perfect time of year to ignore whatever petty anxieties have been sneaking into the blood, and shake them loose. Good luck with yours. I’ll take all the luck I can get with mine.

I may never be perfect, but at least I feel like I’m going to be okay. Maybe eventually.  I hope.

Unless I post something else before the holidays really kick into gear, this is my seasonal wish to you:

Wherever the hell you are, whatever you celebrate, don’t be afraid to let the sparkle wash over you once in a while. It’s not a bad thing to drink it all in, catch a snowflake on your tounge, hum along to a familiar seasonal melody, and share a coffee with a friend.  Blessings. (VBT)

Actual Update: September 2017

In June, my rent outstripped my income.  I missed a payment. I was nearly evicted.  I put in my notice.

I also took part in my first art show since moving out to Seattle.  It was amazing.  As an aside: I didn’t actually sell anything, but my brother pretty much insisted to take it as an experience (and report back).  What I learned: Bring prints with you if you do an art show.  Come hell or high water, bring prints.  Stand near your stuff.  Get Critique from other artists before you go and during the show.

In July, I moved over the course of two days out of one apartment (barely) and into a new one.

I also reminded myself that I am not alone, visited at least three restaurants I had never been to before, and decided that I’m probably going to have a LONG time before I can mentally handle dating again.

In August, I finally cleaned my mom’s china cabinet and found a home for it.  It is now a bookshelf.  This is after it has been sitting in storage room after storage room, waiting for me to add two panes of glass.  No panes necessary now, just easy book access.

I also saw the end of a long-running commitment to an elderly member of my son’s family, as she moved into a group home.  Arguably the hardest decision my mother-in-law has had to make since moving out to Seattle with all of us, which was likely equally as hard.

In September, I bought a key at an antiques shop that magically fits the cabinet.

I can’t wait to see what unlocks next.

A Quick Update

I’m a little bit short on internet and long on bills right now, so I’ve fallen behind on both this blog and AnimeBinge in favor of making sure that I don’t miss work and that I don’t miss opportunities to get my son involved with something for the Summer.

My professional twitter will likely slow its updates for a time as well.

On the flip side, I just had my birthday, and it was LOVELY.  My birthday falls right around Mother’s Day every year, so it makes me reflective of my mom, but this year I have been much more aware of all of the other moms around me than I think I’ve ever been.  I know it’s not easy to be a single mom (or single dad) and even those who are in real, but strained, relationships go through tons of daily challenges.

One last thought – I’ve been prepping a follow-up post to all of my Herald articles, because I’ve just hit article number six! (Yay!)

A Little Valentines’ Day Self-Care

Last year I had my first “single” Valentine’s day in almost 16 years.  I must have pulled myself completely off social media for it.  No tweets, no facebook posts, not even an Instagram photo from that week.  No blog post.  I was avoiding all of the hearts I came across like the plague they were.

It wasn’t always this way.

This year’s a year later, I wanted to find ways to worry less about why this Hallmark Holiday should bother me, and more about why I should enjoy it.  So here’s some silly memoir-esque snippets about the holiday.img_20170209_092239

  • The real reason why I’m so fond of the holiday is because of my Mom and Dad.  They always tried to celebrate for us kids.
    • My mom borrowed a short film from a local Christian bookstore: she was a Sunday School teacher and was likely going to show it to the confirmation class.  I don’t remember whether she did or not, but since it was at the house she allowed me to watch it, too.
    • The story, like St. Nicholas being evolved by Coca Cola, was evolved by Hallmark and other card/candy companies to include more commercialism and the flood of hearts that we think of now.
  • Hilariously, my first character from high school was named “Valentina”.  When digging through boxes this year, I found a copy of the draft.  It’s lighthearted, and silly, and everything you would expect from a teenager trying to write about something that they don’t have a lot of knowledge about.
    • It was a fable about the abdication of a king, started by a vocabulary lesson where I was too lazy to write the same word ten times, instead opting to write a paragraph using each vocabulary word in it.
    • You write what you know, so there were characters for my brother, and my best friend.  I ended up changing Valentina’s name to something more greek in my second pass of the draft, but I wonder if switching it back wouldn’t be the right call.
  • The year after I started college, I remember a particularly crisp February that included visiting Cravings in Webster Groves for Apple Galette (a flat apple pie pastry), buying chocolates: Dove promises (which were NOT romantic in nature, but also little self-care fortune cookies at the time) to share with others, carrying around a ginormous fake rose, and generally trying not to think about my choice to more or less opt out of dating.
    • The team at Cravings allowed me to give my compliments directly to the chef, which was really sweet. (It was a great cream of broccoli soup.)
  • Once upon a time, I worked at a florist shop – just an ordinary shopgirl.  Valentine’s day is not just a holiday there – it’s the busiest season of the year.
    • Watching a florist build a rose bouquet – their first or last for the day, is almost a science. Where to place the flower? What height?  How many places should the ferns or baby’s breath sprout from? How full? How light?
    • One other thing about flowers: Not all flowers have a scent but many do – and they can be powerful, light varied, syrupy, sweet, or just plant-like warmth.
  • I am a ridiculous fan of haunting the half-price Valentine’s Day sales after the fact, like post-Halloween sales.  Aside from the candy, there’s also some really adorable nonsense that goes up for sale on Valentine’s day.  I think my favorite was a pillow that said “#LOVE”.
    • Let me say with my most wicked grin, “This year will be interesting, because the day after Valentines’ falls on a payday.”
    • While I don’t plan on buying anything, looking is always half the fun.

While this year is going to be a little more tense than usual, I keep rededicating myself to other things that are important to me:  My child, my job, my mental health, my myriad hobbies and my writing… and maybe one day, I’ll be able to appropriately balance all of them.  Until then, though… Happy Valentine’s!


(What do you like to do for Valentine’s Day?  Do you have any suggestions for me?  Things to read? Things to avoid?  Speaking of writing: On Anime Binge, I reviewed the Princess Ai series, which is a really #throwbackthursday moment for the blog.   Check it out!)

A note on writing…

Although I blog intermittently on here, I wanted to take a second to share a new facet to my life… Freelancing.

Something stuck when I pitched to the Everett Herald in October, and I’m extremely blessed to have had three articles approved for publication.  The page to access my articles on Heraldnet is live, and can be found here.

Two are live to correlate with the second run of the articles in the paper copy of The Daily Herald. The original run is in The Herald Business Journal, free to the public and available at the top of the month at various locations such as the Everett Public Library, the Sno-isle library locations, even at QFC.  

My next article is a visit with a brick-and-mortar Franchisee with an Expedia subsidiary: and more to come.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been pretty amazing.

Have a great month, and may amazing things happen to you, too, wherever you are.

A poem: And I, >_<;

And I, >_<;
scared of my own voice
breathe :0 😮 :O 😮
in deep hollows my

constricted x:
silence my

soft >_>whispered doubts gain sound

untyped 0_o
save for emojis