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Janice DePeel

Sleep Deprivation

Have you noticed how irritable people have seemed since we’ve started coming out of COVID isolation?  It’s almost as if people have forgotten that, as humans, we need social interaction to function well.  That it’s important to make eye contact with other people, smile, and even on occasion make personal contact by shaking hands (do we do that anymore?) or putting a hand on an arm or shoulder so as not to startle someone when approaching them from behind.  Perhaps we don’t appreciate how much a hug or kind gesture can mean unless we live alone.  People seem very short tempered as of late, especially out in public.  I think there could be a contributing factor to the moodiness some people exhibit towards one another … not getting enough sleep.

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Indoor Gardening Challenges

It seems like we had just enough time to put our outdoor gardens to rest before the snow fell.  This is another year where my intentions and my limitations collided but I managed to harvest a few tomatoes, thanks to a good friend.  And I’m dreaming of what my garden of 2023 will look like already. Despite not having a big outdoor garden, I have been setting challenges for myself with indoor gardening.  In particular, I’ve been motivated to grow an avocado (or two) and some mandarin oranges.  I plan to try a lemon tree as well but people keep telling me how difficult they are, and I’ve let that intimidate me.  Well, not any longer!  I figure it can’t be any more frustrating to grow a lemon tree than it is to grow plants with a three year old “helper” who insists on assisting me in everything I do.  To be fair, he’s learning and some of the best learning any of us do is when we make mistakes.  Whether he’s learned from this mistake remains to be seen.  I, for one, HAVE learned from my mistake - no more watching TikTok gardening videos with my son!

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You Are What?

Have you ever heard the saying, “you are what you eat?”  I’ve heard those words repeating themselves in my head an awful lot lately.  Part of the reason this phrase is reverberating in my skull is that I’ve been eating things I normally wouldn’t grab.  Things like microwave dinners, pizza pops and instant soup rather than the made from scratch foods I normally prepare.  And my skin is definitely upset with me as red, angry bumps mount protest at the way I’m abusing myself.  I don’t use the word ‘abusing’ lightly either - have you read the list of ingredients and the calorie/fat/salt content found in processed food lately?  There is so much “stuff” in the convenience foods we eat and yet, when I need it, I have these little boxes of toxins waiting in my freezer to throw in the microwave.  My excuse this week is that I have the flu.  But I still feel guilty for my food consumption irresponsibility.  And at this point I seriously just want to make a big bowl of mashed potatoes to reheat as needed because they are the most versatile dish I have in my repertoire.  Monday night: mashed potatoes and gravy; Tuesday night: home made tator tots; Wednesday night: potato soup; Thursday night: Shepherd’s Pie (made with ground lamb); Friday night: twice baked potato; Saturday night: Potato Stuffed Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Sunday night: Lazy Pierogies (it’s a casserole similar to lasagna but I use a mushroom/dill sauce and my choice of potato and whatever filling. Kolbasa coins and onions are the meat filling of choice but sometimes onions and bacon are just as satisfying. Topped with shredded marble cheese, it’s a complete meal served with a garden salad).  See? Mashed potatoes for a week and never a repeat serving.  The twice baked potatoes help top up the left overs as they run low too so that’s a handy convenience to help stretch the potatoes throughout the remainder of the week.  

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Stories We Live By

I recently saw a disclaimer that read, “This whole story is completely true.  Except for the parts that are completely made up.”  To me, these two sentences are both provocative and brilliant, at the same time.  The lines come from a Netflix series called “Inventing Anna” which details the rise and fall of an alleged con artist who was imprisoned for separating a lot of wealthy people from their money.   I began following Anna’s story long before there was a movie made about her, and I continue to read about her as her former friend attempts to sue Netflix for the way she was personally portrayed in the series, and also as Anna has been released from prison and encounters further challenges that potentially will lead to her being extradited from the United States and back to her home country, wherever that might be.  Despite everything documented about Anna Delvey, she is a mystery that intrigues me, due in part to the fact she is so complicated - yet so simple - both at the same time.  And, I think she is relatable to many people because she is motivated by something each of us can understand from a basic human level … greed.

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Comfort Comes In Many Forms

I’ve heard a lot about “comfort food” and have even declared a few decadent recipes fill that niche for me … they are both satisfying and comforting at the same time.  On a cold, rainy day as we transition from summer to chilly days of fall, I enjoy making a hearty beef and root vegetable soup that hits the spot at the end of a long day.  And any time I need to think and just work through the emotions of a difficult decision,  making fresh homemade bread is the order for the day as I work through my internal thoughts.  There’s something so satisfying about throwing sticking dough onto a flour covered surface and watching the two come together until kneading produces a smooth and elastic mound that only needs to rise long enough to be abused and punched down again.  After one more rising once the dough has been moulded and shaped into a pleasing form and placed in a prepared baking pan, like my thoughts, the dough really takes the heat… from a warm place to rise, the bread is lovingly placed into the fire.  Before long, the scent of baking bread fills the air and the thoughts that inspired its creation fall to the wayside as the loaves are removed from pans, cooled, sliced, buttered and enjoyed with jam and fresh tea.  There is just something incredibly satisfying about the process.

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Wednesday March 13, 2024