St. Paddy’s Dinner, Winter Hike and Discovering Vintage Red Wines

We ended our staycation with a bunch of little things mixed with a whole lot of nothing.

Just the way I like it!

Friday night, we had my family over for some Irish Stew. To be honest, I am not a fan of stew. Or soup. On the occasion, I do enjoy a cup of soup as an appetizer, but unlike my husband or daughter, I don’t enjoy it as the main entree. My favorite for the evening was the beef bone marrow. We only had a small spoonful each but it was simply delicious!

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Beef shank bone marrow

And no, we did not use the new Ikea dishes – I’m still saving those for Easter. However, my mother did find the hand-me -down plates with the side-rust stains in a box we were ready to dispose of. She hoarded all of them. ALL OF THEM! I tried to explain to her there was rust on the side (not that she couldn’t see herself – you can’t miss it after all!) But she insisted she needed them.

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Frozen ponds are beautiful!

Being the last weekend before going back to work, I needed to make every moment count.

I did this with: a) a walk/hike; and b) red wine. Both we managed to squeeze in. In fact, we were able to go on a hike three times during our week off. I’m very happy with that. There’s something said about winter hikes – the chill in the air is refreshing, the frozen pond is still and beautiful and that feeling of warmth when you’re back indoors is just a wonderful feeling.

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SAVED Red Wine from California

The red wine was pretty much consistent every night while we were off. Our last night, we opened a new vintage find called SAVED. Very full-body and dry with a whopping 15% alcohol level. Just my type! And while they say to never judge a book by it’s cover, I totally judged a book by it’s cover. I’m glad I did – this was delicious!

 

Random Confessions No. 12

My husband and I have been living together as a married couple in the same house we currently reside in for over 13 years. And when we first came together, like many families starting their first home together, we brought forth a shit load of hand-me-downs. And I mean a shit load! I’m thinking back to everything we owned. There was an old TV which Doug acquired on his own after moving out of his home town and into the big city. And with it came some really cheap furniture – a TV stand, a cabinet, an old box spring and mattress. Most have been tossed now.

Minus the lovely crystal wine glass set and some silverware we received as wedding presents, everything else was a hand-me down.

We finally had to buy a new dining table set. Only because our cheap kitchen table, which was starting to wobble, had to go. And the then dining room table was the hand-me down of my parents’ kitchen table. It’s now where it belongs, in our kitchen. It is also peach. An ugly peach. PEACH!!! Can you imagine? For several years that was our dining table. Where we would host dinner parties. We used a peach kitchen table for our dinner parties! I pathetically tried to cover it with a table cloth but there was no way to hide the matching peach chairs.

These past two to three years, we’ve been bad hostesses to our friends. We’ve hosted my family over a fair bit. But family is different. They, especially my parents, are nothing but thrilled to see their hand-me-downs put to good use. And if you have a typical Asian mother like I do, it avoids any argument of, “What was wrong with your old table and chair? Why spend money? That table and chair was still working!” That’s what we had to go through the first day they came over to have Easter dinner with our new dining set.

This past Saturday, we had a couple of our best friends over for dinner. And I was just mortified with the dishes we had available. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we had very ugly collections (that’s plural) of dishes. One was this ‘Asian’ set I bought to use as our temporary ‘good dishes’ to replace the embarrassing hand-me-downs – which were a mix-match of incomplete sets because over the years, our families had broken a plate here or a bowl there. Of course, these ‘temporary’ dishes lasted the next decade.

The hand-me-downs were something. One set, from my husband’s side, were brown plates. Brown. Not cool, earthy brown. But like a very, very off-white sort of brown. Imagine serving food to guests on very, very off-white sort of brown plates? And the other full set was from my aunt. They are white with flowers. Not pretty at all but what was worse, the side looked like it got burnt some how. I don’t know if she had a pile of it stacked near an open flame but that’s the best way I can describe it. Burnt. Though Doug says it might be stained with rust. Which is even worse. Serving food to guests on plates that have rust stains on the side. How appetizing.

Anyway – the whole point of this post was just a chance to show-off our new Ikea dinnerware. I decided to purchase from Ikea because I have come to realize I do not have the energy to go looking for clean designs where I can create that purposely matched eclectic look without trying too hard. Ikea has it planned already for me to do just that.

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Ikea dinnerware mix and match

And yes, just like that Easter dinner we had several years ago where we unveiled our new dining table to my family, the first time my mom will see these dishes is at this year’s Easter dinner we are yet again hosting.

No doubt there will be a comment or two typically pointing out how we spend our money. After all, the rust stain from my aunt’s old set was on the side of the plate, no where near touching any food. Believe me, I am grateful for all the help our families gave us to start out when we were making less money and our focus then was to save and save and save.

I hope for her sake, she will one day understand her daughter has worked very hard and deserves some nice things.

As for me, I am happy with my new plates! It’s the little things that help me move from day to day. But the new plates signifies something greater than just having new, pretty things. It’s not in spite of my mom, either. I mean, I like to poke fun at my mom since I can not change her attitude, I can certainly be entertained by her attitude. It shows how I’m letting go of some of my fears and worries. I think part of the real reason why I hadn’t replaced those dishes in all these years was simply because I felt I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t deserve good things.

Break-up with Joel

In my previous post, I had linked to a past blog which I can not edit anymore (so it remains private for those not logged in). I’ve copied and pasted this post below:

i sat there waiting in his living room, wondering how i was ever going to make it through the evening.

he glanced over at me uneasily, and asked, “what? is something wrong?”

“no…” i replied, trying to mask any nervousness from seeping through, “i’m fine. everything’s fine.”

“something’s… different.”

“like what?”

“i don’t know… just something.”

i climbed into the passenger side and waited for him to turn on the ignition. with the engine running and the radio on, i felt, at least, we could close the silent gap.

i wanted to speak as little as possible, in fear of giving my secret away.

for tonight was the night that i decided to leave him. it hadn’t been a very long plan in the works. in fact, i had only decided a couple of nights ago. when i found myself announcing it to my friends.

are you sure this is what you want? they asked.

yes. positive.

and i meant it.

dinner was quiet. i sat there, eating my food, hardly making even an ounce of effort to the casualist of conversations. he sat there across from me, avoiding eye contact. and feeling incredibly uncomfortable.

he knew.

we had finished dinner 20 minutes earlier then his mother’s church concert. she was singing in the choir and the last thing i wanted to do was end things before the performance.

yet…

he asked me once more, “i know something is wrong so just spill it!”

“okay,” i said, “i don’t want to be in this relationship anymore.”

“i knew it.”

********

and with that, you sat there and accepted what i wanted. without a fight, without any questions, you sat there and found your glum corners of the world.

i knew it. that was what you said. it hadn’t occured to me, now years later, that those three little words meant more then just that night.

you knew for awhile, that you didn’t deserve me. you knew for awhile that the way you treated me was less then par. you were immature, selfish and insecure.

for a long time now, i had regretted not taking the chance to seek the proper closure i deserved. there were many angry nights where i hated myself for wasting so much time with you. i wanted to tell you everything you did wrong. all the malnipulation… all the bullshit i had to put up with!

and then, one day, i woke up. and realized that you’ve known all along.

i was too good for you. and your game on trying to convince me otherwise, had failed.

you once said to me, “you and i both know we’re a good catch!” deep down inside, i didn’t think this. but i didn’t want to hurt your feelings. i didn’t want to tell you how many men had tried to ask me out while we were together… nor how some of my friends expressed that i could do better.

i just want you to know…

i never stomped on your heart.

just your ego.

Oh! What a tangle web we weave…

It all started with a very large flat screen TV, one in which my father had for a little over a  year, was replaced by the newest technology of flat screens – something about a 4K. The size was way too large for our small townhouse. But he did have another flat screen that would be the maximum width for our basement wall waiting for us for a couple of years now. Since Doug found a suitor for the too-big-screen-for-us, his co-worker, a fellow firefighter, the deal was this:

“Sean, take my father-in-law’s TV and while you are there, help me load the other one into the van. Then come and help me carry it in to our basement.” Doug arranged for a date when they were going off shift.

Sean asked, “Doesn’t your FIL want anything for his TV?”

“Well, you can offer him something but he really just wants to get rid of it. And it’s a 2 person job – he doesn’t want to do any of the heavy lifting.”

And both of the flat screens were very heavy. When Sean’s wife came home her reaction was, “Whoa! That’s big. Bigger than I thought!”

To which happy and ecstatic Sean replied, “I KNOW! ISN’T IT AWESOME!!!”

The thing is Doug and I will have to make some adjustments to our basement before we can mount our new-used flat screen up on our wall. And my family is always so concerned about him getting injured. Believe me, I am too. We may need to bride a friend or two to come over to help for exchange of a really nice dinner and very good alcohol. (Now that we are at this stage of life, pizza and beer doesn’t seem to be that great of an exchange anymore.)

My family, however, are relentless. And if they think for one minute Doug has no one to help him they will harp and harp and harp on us to the boundaries of one’s sanity. So to eliminate the process of harping which was, on Friday night, on the edge of happening, Doug said, “Sean’s coming over Sunday on the way home from our shift to help out.”

The problem with this white lie – I had no idea this was a white lie. There wasn’t any game plan between Doug and I to plan this lie. It was just a lie – an on the spot lie.

I said, in front of my family, “Really? Sean’s coming over. Huh. And when were you going to tell me this? I would have been romping around in my PJ’s when you guys come home!”

So this morning, I woke up early. I normally wake up 7:30 AM and wait for Doug to come home from his shift. But today, I woke up around 6:30 AM. So I could make sure our powder room was clean enough for guests. So I could do my hair, take a shower, put on some decent clothes. So I could touch my face up with light make-up, take Hobbes outside and put away the dishes from the dishwasher which was turned on before going to bed. After all, we needed clean dishes in case Sean stays for breakfast. I was about to grind and press some fresh coffee, too, so the boys could have a nice mug of hot java when they come in. I did a lot of things I normally would not do on a Sunday morning between 6:30 am and 7:30 am.

Then Doug came home.

Alone.

I asked, “Where’s Sean?”

His response, “Oh, he’s not coming.”

“What – tough shift? Too tired?”

“No.”

“Is he coming over another day?”

“No. I just told your family he was coming so they didn’t worry about me doing the heavy work on my own.”

“Oh. Wait… what? He never was going to come and help?”

“No. Oh – Sorry. I forgot to text you yesterday.”

“Doug. I woke up early and did a lot of unnecessary things on my Sunday morning thinking we were going to have a guest over.”

“Well, at least now you’re up and awake and got some stuff done!”

I don’t think that was really an apology. But I do admit it was nice to be up early and have the whole day ahead of me!