Stopping Short

Somewhere a little past Bay City, a serious fog rolled in. Jeff was napping. I was driving. As it became thicker, I woke him up.

“Hey,” I said. “I have no idea where we are and it’s getting hard to see the road.”

“Well, geez.” Jeff said. “Why didn’t you wake me up and tell me?”

“I just did!” I replied. “Besides, you were sleeping.”

“Of course, I was sleeping,” Jeff reasoned. “Otherwise you couldn’t have woken me up.”

“Jeff…..”

“Ok,” Mr. Calm continued. “I’ll just keep an eye on the yellow line over here on my side. Take the next exit and we’ll switch. I’ll drive.”

The next one came up quickly. The sign read ‘Pinconning.” We took the ramp, pulled into a closed restaurant lot, switched seats and sat there. It’d gotten much worse by then.

“Hmm.” Now, in the driver’s seat, Jeff sat stroking his beard. “The exit sign said lodging that way.” He pointed down the almost unseen road.

“We can’t really see,” I said.

“We can’t sit here all night,” he answered.

We didn’t have to go very far. About two miles on, a lit-up lighthouse replica blinked “Open.”  Happily, there was a room for us. We happily took it. We wouldn’t be happy for long, though.

The non-smoking room smelled thickly of smoke and stale beer. The bed was bare of linens and there were no towels. Jeff was adverse to making waves of any kind, but in this case, it was necessary. He trudged back to the front desk, leaving me to guard the room in case there weren’t any others available.

Jeff returned with another set of key cards. We moved down the hall to a new overnight space. This one was clean, and we set about settling in.

I don’t know what it is about men and not closing doors when they pee, but status-quo, that’s what happened. By the time he was finished, I had already changed into my flannel pajamas. Not very romantic, I know, but it was October in Michigan and we were headed north.

When it was my turn, I washed my face, and brushed my teeth.

I don’t know what it is about women, but we do like to close the door when we’re engaged in disengaging. I started to close the door, but stopped short and yelled, “Oh, My God!”

Quote for the Week:

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Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Fog: How to Fog

Fibro-Fog: Dealing With It

Fog: PhotographyS

The Honeymoon Hustle: Purple Pyrex

The day after the day after our wedding, we embarked on an adventure.

Our honeymoon wasn’t exactly planned. At least, in my opinion, it wasn’t planned.

That’s not to say Jeff didn’t have a plan. He did, but he didn’t do any actual planning. He opted for an outline and a map, certain  there were plenty of road signs which would lead us where we would go.

Jeff envisioned a tour of the Michigan of his childhood, taking me to the places that brought him happy memories and making newer ones with me.  He wanted to do this and his enthusiasm was so contagious we set off knowing that we’d play it by ear as we went along.

We ended up traveling sort of up the east side and over to the middle of Michigan, down the west side, and back through the center.

First: Frankemuth

We pulled off the highway and pulled into A&W to grab a quick lunch and a glass jug of A&W Root Beer to take along on our journey.

We shopped the outlet mall for Calphalon and cookware, and found a great sale on Pyrex. It was a ridiculous bargain in a ridiculous color: purple.

Jeff pointed out that it would be a  lot easier to determine which item we would take home from family potlucks, as no one else would likely have that hue.  I nodded along. I’d already been to quite a few of those, and didn’t remember anyone having purple Pyrex.

It didn’t bother me at all that our new pie rounds, lidded casseroles, mixing bowls, and storage bowls were going to be violet. I secretly really liked the quirkiness, and the price was more than right. We paid for our purchases and giggled with happiness, because, well… we just bought purple Pyrex.

We spent some our dollar-dance money on clothing for both of us, had to stop at the tool shop, and spent some time in a sport memorabilia and trading card store.

Our dinner destination was wonderful, fun and delicious. I found a chicken platter in the gift shop that found its way into the Neon’s little trunk along with some cheese straws and our other treasures.

We had been to Zehnders together before. We’d been to Bronner’s as well, but we revisited there, too. It’s easy to get lost in the wonder of aisles and aisles of Christmas, wandering down every one. Time sort of flew by us, and before we knew it, we were getting back on the road much later than we meant to.

We set out to cut away from the east coast and stop somewhere around Clare for the evening. In the morning we would go through Roscommon State Forrest and continue on to Houghton Lake.

For reasons beyond our control, that’s not at all what happened.  Our first night’s lodging ended up being even more unplanned than our casually unplanned plan.

Quote for the Week:

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Enjoy This Weeks Discovery Links

A&W: Root Beer

Birch Run: More than Just Great Outlets

Zehnder’s: More than Just Amazing Chicken

Bronner’s: More than Just Christmas

Mugged and Gone

Still thinking about how I want to go.

Honeymoon? Snippets? Yeah, I’m gonna need a minute.

In the meantime: Cake

I don’t make cake.

I don’t make cake, because I’ll eat cake. Whole cakes. I don’t usually frost them, but a eating a whole unfrosted cake is still not a good idea. Even if it takes me 3 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner with not much else.

Don’t start with the cupcake theory. Cupcakes only make it seem like you’re eating less. Mostly because I sit down and eat one, decide I need another, and count off 25 steps to and from the couch. 50 steps round trip on my Fitbit. At least that burns a calorie or two, right?

Don’t even mention freezing suggestions. I’ve packaged cake slices to be frozen. It turns out I’m not averse to eating a slice of frozen cake. Directly from the freezer. No frosting, no defrosting, at all.

I’ve frozen unsliced cake remnants, since the slice thing was still too accessible. Guess what? Frozen cake isn’t that hard to slice. Just takes some heavy leaning on the knife. Tests my balance, too, so I must be strengthening my core.

A recent thunderous Saturday evening, I craved… cake.

I had almost everything I needed to bake a cake. Except butter. Or rather, I didn’t have enough butter: none in the freezer and half a stick in the fridge.

I googled cake or cookies without butter. The most popular substitution offered was vegetable oil. I don’t stock vegetable oil in my cupboard. I do stock olive oil and I’ve even heard of Olive Oil Cake. I’ve heard they taste of olive oil.

I also have a jug of sometime solidified / sometimes liquefied coconut oil. I just didn’t like the idea of a cake tasting  too faintly like coconut.

A cake should either be totally coconut or not. I did have ½ a bag of unsweetened flaked coconut. In the freezer. Which would require defrosting and then toasting. Last time I toasted coconut was a disaster.

I let it go a little too long and ended up having to take my fairly new, now black smoke spewing toaster oven outside. I left it on a garden table long enough to let it cool down enough to open the door and remove the charcoal contents. I wasn’t quite in the mood for that much work.

This got me thinking about single serve cake. Mug cakes. Cake in a cup. Cake for one. Whatever it’s called, most required only one tablespoon of butter.

Chocolate mug cake calls for cocoa. Of course. Without any, I was momentarily thwarted, until I saw the sidebar listing variations.

Banana cake! I could do that! Even better, the recipe seemed reasonably healthy… for cake.

I altered the ingredients slightly. Not just for the sake of tweaking, but because 3 tablespoons of brown sugar seemed like a lot for one serving of cake. I only used one tablespoon.  Maybe next time, I’ll cut that down to ½.

I used water instead of milk. I had milk. Just call me a calorie cutting aficionado.

I didn’t mix it or make it in a mug. I used my Pyrex measuring cup. I wasn’t sure about the microwavibility of my rag-tag promotional mugs. As it turns out, I think a 12 ounce cup would have overflowed and make a monstrous mess of my microwave.

Since I was still thinking about chocolate, I threw on 8 semi-sweet chips. Yes, I counted them. Why, I don’t know.

Cooking time was listed as 1 minute, adding 10 seconds until it seemed done. One minute went by: nope. Add 10 seconds. Nope, not even close. Add 1 minute. Yep!

It was good, and so super hot that it needed more than a minute and some major fork hole poking, to convince me I could try again.

The beautiful thing was, when it was gone, it was gone.

I’d have to go through the whole process again to make another one. My counter was filled with just as many containers as it would have been if I had baked a true cake. I was just using minuscule amount of each. I really didn’t need another one, anyway.

I’ll unhumbly admit I had another brilliant thought. Why not pre-measure and create little packets of the dry ingredients to make it easier? So next time I craved cake, I’d already be halfway there.

I thought better of that. A little reaching and grabbing and transporting ingredients meant I’d be moving, And I’d be making it way too easy. Cake shouldn’t be a daily affair.

PS. I truly believe it could serve 2 easily. It’s dense and moist and yummy and just a few bites can satisfy the craving. And then, it’s gone!

Knabbled Cake in a Cup:

1 mashed banana

1 egg

3 tbsp flour

1 tbsp melted butter

1 tbsp water

½ tbsp brown sugar

½ tsp baking powder

8 semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, of course.)

Original Recipe: Banana Bread Mug Cake

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Picture This, Again…

I found them. I found them in the last place I looked, which would have been amusing like the long-standing joke, except I wasn’t amused. I was done.

During my weeks of frantic searching, I found myself revisiting the same places.  When I didn’t find what I’d been looking for in any of the obvious places, I logically made a firm list, of course.

I won’t bore you with all the details, although there were some things that bear mentioning. I rediscovered reams of specialty papers, printable stickers, printable window clings, printable fabric, printable shrink-dinks, printable business cards and a complicated foldy-card thing that I’m not even sure I would ever attempt again.

As exciting as all that was, once I’d been through my list, re-searched all the places I’d searched before and more, I set it aside and let my eyes leak a little. Not just once, either, but when there’s nothing you can do, there’s nothing you can do.

Early Saturday morning, I took myself on a 3-mile walk. I came home exhausted, weepy and probably a little low in the sugar department.  Chomping a nectarine, I headed for a shower and fell apart.

The pictures had become a hangnail part of my life I just couldn’t properly trim off.

To be honest, writing this blog has been hard. I’d been avoiding truly crying for weeks; the overwhelmed, sobbing kind. But, the time had come and I gave in, voicing aloud what I’d been thinking so long.

“God, I need help.’ I choked. “I don’t want it to be ten years. I don’t want it to be any years!”

It took a bit to get myself together and decide I was being stupid. I figured I might as well seal this episode up and do what I had to do.

I needed to move some things from one location to another, so I did.

Halfway through that, there they were.

I didn’t recognize what it was at first. Randomly fanning/flipping through a few pages, I finally focused enough to figure it out.

I had been looking for a mailing envelope or one of those green marbley-looking cheap sleeves they used to give way back when you ordered actual picture prints by standing at a counter and filling out awkward envelopes.

Chronically arranged, in a sleeved booklet I had apparently decided need to be fancied up with scrapbook paper, was my lost capsule.

I wonder at the timing, wonder how I could not remember what I did.

Wondering. Just wondering.

Joyously sharing them with you now.

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Thanks for helping me through this year of memories.