Cashing Out

I grew up in tiny Sandpoint, Idaho. I had one of those storybook childhoods that most people dream of for their children. I learned to ride a horse before my training wheels were removed from the bike that would have tethered me to paved roads. My best friend was raised by her grandparents so we had ample adventures and limited supervision. I’m eternally grateful that I grew up before Facebook because we were very good at finding trouble to get into. Premarital sex, underage drinking and grand theft. We got away with it all…and there are only a handful of bad pictures.

I wanted to drive away from my small hometown the minute graduation was over without a second glance over my shoulder. I’ve never liked small town life and when you live where other folks vacation, people think you’re crazy for admitting that you actually hate what they covet.

I moved in with my boyfriend in the middle of my sophomore year of highschool and got pregnant…like so many small town girls with big city dreams, do. I was 16 and had an abortion. It was awful, though I’ve always been grateful and would do it again if I had the chance to choose differently. I was scared to death of a penis after that though- and my boyfriend and I were terrified of getting pregnant. Things declined and we eventually broke up and I moved home for my senior year. Counting the seconds until my last drive across the iconic long bridge.

 

Life and living beyond my maturity had left me pretty isolated and removed from any friendships I’d had before, so I poured myself into school and graduated with honors. My focus was clear again and I was excited to leave my small town and all the sad memories, behind.

I ran into that same ex boyfriend on my 18th birthday… and we got pregnant with our son. I turned 19 with a newborn in my arms, having only made it about a ten minute drive from my mother’s house. We did the best we could with what we had and worked hard to have a happy home. I’d just never hoped to call a single-wide with mushrooms growing on the ceiling, home-sweet-home. I had always wanted to be a mother though, and fell in love with raising babies instead of chasing dreams. I packed away my big city dreams with my high heels and started sewing cloth diapers.

When our son turned 3 and I wanted another baby… we bought our house. When that second baby turned 3, we got divorced and that house became my home.

Queen of my own castle, ruler of my domain.

That sounds far more incredible than the reality.

I’ve been through foreclosure twice, my property taxes have crippled me a few times and don’t even get me started on the maintenance of 2 acres OR the $10,000 water leak. I’ve hung on to this house by the smallest possible margin and I’ve grown to love it like it’s my fourth child.

The worms in my garden are some of my closest friends. I’ve spent a lot of time alone in trying to keep up with my sanctuary, and I’m still constantly behind the 8 ball.

Corona virus decimated my company and all but 3 employees have been permanently laid off. I’m one of those “lucky” ones who makes more on unemployment than I did working full time. I’ve been cleaning and painting and treasuring these endless weeks at home to catch up on the gazillion things that have fallen by the wayside as a result of being gone 40 hours a week and single parenting full time.

I bought myself a Roomba and wake up to clean floors every day. Holy Christ on the cross, if you don’t have one, buy it… I don’t know how or why I ever lived without her. A clean house makes me so happy and happiness clears my head. I bought a big beautiful wool rug for my enormous living room, and sat in the middle of it with my knitting, smiling all by myself.

Happy.

So happy I’m done settling for sad.

I sat in the silence of my big empty castle and decided to leap like I’ve always wanted.

To take that last drive across the bridge I’m supposed to love, but don’t.

The only thing keeping me from going is my best friend in the whole wide world. My red haired security blanket. The first person to tell me to go because she knows how much I’ve always wanted to. She helped me narrow down the field of candidates and I pulled the trigger.

I listed the house and my beautiful garden for sale.

I want that last drive to be THE last drive.

I picked the nicest realtor who came highly recommended from my favorite people. She got me all signed up and ready to go, then blew my mind a little.

$900,000.00 with a stipulation that I get to harvest my garden. How do you like them apples?

The nest egg I’ve nearly killed myself to hang onto, has grown to the point that my dreams can come true…

ANYWHERE else.

 


Peace & Dinner Rolls

Ahhhhhh….. sweet relief.

I fucking love quarantine and unemployment doesn’t suck, either. Losing my health insurance in the midst of a global pandemic isn’t very exciting, but there are far greater problems in the world and it was the first time I’d ever had it- so c’est la vie.

The Dumpling and I have settled into an easy routine. Our days begin around 9 when she climbs into my bed to cuddle. The favorite cat; Dazzle, loves to snuggle in the mornings and you can hear her purr her way from the living room to the tiny space between us. Gone are the stress-filled mornings of me yelling “WE HAVE TO GET IN THE CAR, NOW!” and in its place is a lovely bunch of peace.

Life has calmed the hell down and I’m living for it.

It turns out, two cups of coffee is what I need to get shit done and a few bites of scrambled eggs each morning are helping me overcome the aversion to the little chicken embryos. I still prefer them as a light coating on a veggie stir-fry, but I’m trying.

img_8270My seeds have started to sprout in the greenhouse and I had a lovely chartreuse pop of baby blue curled kale peeking up at me this morning. The shallots are doing their usual crazy root explosion and my gardenia is setting three buds instead of one on each branch. Spring is still coming, in the midst of all this chaos. img_8268

I could have sworn today was Tuesday, but no! I just went to check how much longer my bread needs to rise and it’s Wednesday! Surprise! I can’t remember the last time I lost track of the days of the week, not to mention spent a few in a row in my pajamas. All my clothes are clean and every last bra is washed and hung- with no intention of putting one on. This is bliss, y’all. Pure, unadulterated BLISS.

Since I’ve realized I’m on the wrong day of my domestic plan, I have a snoozy little afternoon full of folding linens, changing sheets and watching the Tiger King live his best life.

I’ve perfected my dinner rolls and finally remembered to write down amounts and take pictures, so here you go! Wash your hands, bake some bread, enjoy your jammies and STAY THE FUCK AT HOME. β™₯

img_8271

Jenni’s Bomb Dinner Rolls (or bread if you like slices)

  • 2 cups of water ( fairly hot- I like about 110*F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast
  • 1 1/2 salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cups of flour. I prefer half bread flour and half unbleached wheat flour but play around and find your favorite.

Combine the hot water, sugar and honey. Stir to combine and add the yeast. Let it sit for 10 minutes. img_8232

In the bowl of your mixer, combine 1 cup of flour, salt and olive oil. Mix thoroughly and add the liquids. Add one cup of flour at a time until it is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on medium speed in the mixer for 5 minutes or do it the hard way (by hand) for about 10 minutes, it’s up to you.

I am obsessed with my Instant Pot for how well it proofs dough. If you don’t have one, go buy one right now. You genuinely need it. img_8235

Spray the inside of your Instant Pot with non-stick spray and plop your dough in there. Set it to Yogurt setting on low, and set the time to 60 minutes.

Prepare to be amazed. Also clean up your mess- you’ll be lazily eating rolls soon and you won’t want to do it after the gluten coma hits. img_8239

After an hour, open your magical countertop time machine and fall in love with it all over again. Punch that beautiful dough down and dump it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about a minute, then shape into two loaves or two dozen rolls.

60697291656__b97711e7-0dfd-4cf4-ba39-14798444e351Let rise for about a half hour or until doubled in size. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes!

Mmmm…. They’re delicious! Enjoy! img_8242

 

 

 

 


Day 28: What’s in your purse?

Uh… that’s awfully private… but here goes. I can honestly admit that I have no idea. πŸ™‚

  1. My knitting. Always. I’m currently knitting a tiny pink dress for the animal I haven’t knit yet for my new baby niece, Eliza. I’ve worked so much in the last few years that every project I’ve started is half finished and lingering in the basket. I’m determined to use this time to finish some things (hopefully before she starts kindergarten).
  2. My very favorite! Carmex Comfort Care lip balm. I can’t encourage you enough toΒ carmex watermelon oatmeal lip balmtry it. I have one in every purse, in my car, in my desk and in the bathroom. It’s silky smooth perfection and makes your lips feel like heaven.
  3. Condoms, because safe sex isn’t optional, it’s necessary. Sidenote: I’ve never used one from my purse but have saved many a friends’ night by having one to give them.
  4. Hair ties. I recently cut 4″ off my hair, but I live in a ponytail/messy bun.
  5. A hair brush: This is for my darling child who hates to brush her extremely long hair. It’s one of those magical wet hair brushes that doesn’t summon screams right away when I try to make her presentable in a few wild swipes in the midst of school drop off. She hates the purse brush and it roams around the insides of my purse purely to provide motivation for her to remember to brush her hair in the morning.
  6. Hand sanitizer, because everybody is poisonous these days and I’m the token shopper for my family of quarantined loved ones.
  7. Travel wipes, for the Dumpling who forgets to wipe her milk moustache off, and now to wipe the corona virus off everything before we get out of the car.
  8. Anti-anxiety meds: These are new! I wish I’d asked for help a loooooong time ago because I finally feel like I can truly breathe again. I’m stunned that a simple antihistamine could give me so much relief from dissolving into a weepy mess. Vistaril saved me from hyperemesis gravidarum with my second pregnancy and now it’s putting the kibosh on my panic attacks. I’m a card carrying believer. Get some!
  9. A Nerf gun that makes my heart so sad I threw it away after I realized it was in there. It’s a remnant of the worst time in my life and anything that reminds me of him has to go.
  10. My checkbook, debit card, credit card and insurance card. My insurance is good for three more days and I only just used it for the first time. It’s a sad feeling to know that benefits really didn’t benefit me until I lost them, but oh well.
  11. Altoids, wintergreen to be specific. I love them.
  12. Loteria, the human body edition. This is Mexican bingo- the best damn drinking game ever… but my beautiful mother found a new version for us to play, made up of the human body. It’s the coolest and I meant to laminate it before I left work, but forgot. Too bad we’re stuck social distancing, because this game is a blasty blast.
  13. A plastic fork in the wrapper… because motherhood.
  14. An eyelash brush, allergy eye drops and a nail file zipped into a little bag.
  15. Cadbury mini eggs
  16. Wireless headphones and a phone charger.

No wonder my back hurts. I’ve got everything but the kitchen sink.


Day 27: Your views on drugs and alcohol.

gin-recipe-georgian-bay-gimlet

My grandmother was a legendary alcoholic. As in… hit a train, drove the wrong way on the interstate, crossed the divider and drug the fence home… she set the tone for abusing substances without smudging her lipstick.

She’s why I don’t drink vodka. I don’t know what it is, but vodka and I are a deadly combination. I ride bulls in dresses, dance handsome strangers into agreeing to things they know they shouldn’t… you name it. Vodka removes all my filters, inhibitions and sense. Grey Goose is like napalm. Noooooo more goose. Never, ever.

I spent a few years serving and bartending, so I can make most drinks and really enjoy the art of mixology. I love a gin gimlet and make a mean margarita.

But champagne is my real favorite. My Fancy best and I have flooded the problems out with a few hundred bubbles, and this Corona Virus is seriously cramping my coping style, because I’d love to be sitting on the couch with her, mimosa in hand (and by mimosa I mean morning/afternoon champagne, please don’t junk up my prosecco with orange juice.) We toast to happy days and cry into our bubbles on the sad ones. We celebrate and grieve just the same… with a bubbly glass of it’s-going-to-be-ok.

I sat across from her a month ago, hot tears rolling down my cheeks as my whole universe imploded. She’d talked me through a million times of being jerked around by the opportunist I’d let crawl under my skin and take residence. I’ve cried about him for over a year and she’s loved me through going back when I knew I should run the opposite direction. Having cried into too many glasses of delicious bubbles, I apologized for the millionth time as the server walked up with a worried look on her face. Tears fell faster, as sympathy only rubber stamps my heart knowing it’s ok to break. She filled my glass to the top and patted my arm. My bright and beautiful best was grinning at me from across the table. I’d made the decision to leave and that included leaving her. Although months away, my heart broke at the thought that this was one of the last bubbly lunches.

F- Cheers! This is GOOD!!! It’s almost over!

J- I hate him so much.

F- That’s good too. I’ll drink to that.

Alcohol has always been celebratory until I got my soul ripped out through my heart. I learned what it meant to numb those feelings and ended up with a fat ass and a hangover. Medicating depression with a depressant is about as masochistic as you can get, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and my relationship with alcohol in the past 2 years. I reach for a cup of tea and my knitting these days, where I was drinking instead of fostering hobbies that have always soothed me.

One bad man can make your social drinking turn serious. I gave up vodka… then gin… then wine… and settled in to face all those awful feelings, sober.

It’s really the only way to deal with the worst shit.

Seeing him walk in hung over most mornings, becoming accustomed to the endless parade of energy drinks and Powerade that accompanied him… I saw exactly what I didn’t want to become, in the man I wanted so much to love. It was confusing, and it took me a long time to see that I was only wasting my time, compromising my health and ending up with wrinkles and bleeding ulcers as a result.

Alcohol had never been a pacifier. I had to change how I drink, how I feel about drinking, and check in with myself about why I was pouring one. If there’s one silver lining to enduring all that bullshit with him, it’s that.

Drugs have never been a thing for me. I did cocaine once and hated it. I ended up at home alone at 3 am… running on my damn elliptical machine until I had to get ready for work. Worst. Day. Ever. I seriously thought I was going to die by the time the dinner rush was done at the restaurant I was working in. Never again.

Pills make me puke, the scary stuff doesn’t tempt me enough to roll those dice and I’m sexual enough without ecstasy.

Marijuana is my jam. I can clean the whole damn house, bake an entire 8 course meal AND sew a dozen easter bunnies. I get shit done when I’m high. I also eat. A lot. I love the light ease of breezing through a long, hard day with a little ganja…. but I’m not trying to be 400 pounds, and I could get there quick with a stoner habit. So it’s a limited love affair that I don’t regularly indulge. I have too much shit to do and although it’s pleasant to have your head in a cloud for a bit… reality doesn’t wait for the fog to clear and I like to be in control of my life at all times.

I’d try mushrooms though. I’ve heard a lot of hilarious stories about them and life is too short not to experiment a little.

Just don’t unpack and live there… nobody likes a strung out junkie.


Day 26: What are your beliefs?

  1. I believe in the goodness of people. Even when I’d distanced myself from all but one of my friends, even when I stopped answering calls or returning messages… my friends refused to go away.
  2. I believe in washing my hands. I’m a little obsessive about it so the fact that this Corona Virus pandemic is teaching everyone to wash their damn hands, is pure bliss for me. I love hand soap and foam, love gardenia scented bars of triple milled goats milk soap… I love being clean and smelling good. Wash, wash, wash.
  3. I believe that Tide washes your clothes better than hippie detergent. Sorry. It’s true. My mother buys the earth safe detergent and uses dryer balls. I love Tide detergent and Snuggle fabric softener. She tried… πŸ™‚
  4. I believe that dirt fixes everything. Sad, worried, stressed, heartbroken… none of those bad times stand a chance when you’re planting shallots. Each one of these little treasures is going to turn into 10 more! shallots
  5. I’m learning to ask for help… because I absolutely believe the strongest thing you can do is admit you need it. I’ve dealt with major depression this year and can’t believe a little antihistamine would stop all my panic attacks. God bless you, Vistaril… I am humbly grateful.
  6. I believe in love, more than anything. The kind of love that sews your favorite childhood toys, the love that holds doors and offers the last of the ice cream to the little person who’d been craving it. Unconditional love is my superpower and I believe it can change anything.
  7. I believe in the magic of plastic surgery and can’t wait to remodel a little more. I’m having a tummy tuck and breast lift this spring and I. Can’t. Wait.
  8. I believe in apologizing when I fuck up. I accept genuine apologies just as easily as I offer them.
  9. I believe that bubbles with your best friend can solve the world’s problems better than anything else on earth.
  10. I believe in the power of thread count, and wish I could give each of you a set of my favorite sheets.
  11. I believe in the magic of intention. My darling Dick Appointment crawled out of the jungle twice in the last week to call me from a satellite phone. He can email me, so I teased him a little until he told me the sound of my laughter made his day. I’m probably not going to see him again, but he sure is making a trip to Africa sound better and better lately…
  12. I believe in dish towels, not paper towels. I don’t understand the mass hysteria for paper towels.. those are a luxury item in my house and an easily eliminated expense.
  13. I believe in the magic of mass on Sunday, even if I reject 2/3 of the beliefs held in the cathedral. I love being Catholic… even if I’m the most atheist version around.
  14. I believe in karma most of all. That karma fairy leaves scars on the most deserving and if I know one thing… it’s that there’s a cold dark hole in hell for the guy who named my puppy after his new girlfriend. I pity him for that. That’s gonna sting. I rehomed the puppy.
  15. I believe in thanking people for everything… even the bad stuff.

believe

Basically, I believe in myself and my ability to change the things that no longer serve me. I believe that bad days only amount to a bad time, not a bad life… and the good days are so common that I know the bad ones don’t count for much.

What do you believe in?