Settling In

This past week we worked on settling in at home after being gone for 8 months. We found that our little printer that we have used as a workhorse for about 10 years would not connect to the internet. Dad always used Brother printers as well as the Brother P-Touch for his business and I have too. I have found the products to be reliable and long-lasting and the technical support is great. Switching to the P-Touch has been a game-changer for the jewelry I sell which is on cards like earrings, pins and pendants. It looks so professional, is easy to read and does not fade over time like the handwritten dumbbells.

Kuochun found an updated printer model at Walmart with one remaining at Mount Prospect Plaza so we picked it up. One of the main tasks for the secondary printer is to print the price stickers for estate sales and unfortunately the new printer is not lining up the document properly. Since we do not need the internet to print stickers, I would like to set it up in the basement office with the laptop and we should be good to go. We also had to replace the drum in the main printer and Kuochun found that after he installed it, we were still receiving messages saying the drum needed to be replaced. I was able to figure this out by looking it up on Brother's support section. Starting about a month before we left, the printer in Scottsdale kept saying we needed to replace the toner and that printer is only about 2 years old. I replaced the toner twice and we will deal with that when we get back. But it was definitely a lot of unexpected printer expense this past month!

While at Walmart, I grabbed a few simple things to eat in order to get by before doing more major shopping like Lean Cuisine and pre-made salads. I cannot recommend the pre-made salads from Walmart, good thing I only bought two. The lettuce on the first one was only about half edible and the other was not edible at all. I ended up mixing the other ingredients together (chicken caesar salad) and eating it without lettuce. It has been a while but the similar salads from Mariano's are much better. Since I have the opportunity to start from scratch with an empty refrigerator, I am going to attempt some meal planning and prep next week when I should have more time. Overall I really enjoyed the healthy meal service I subscribed to last year but the major drawback is I cannot select my favorite meals. I ended up with a lot of meals with items I do not care for like cooked vegetables and beans. I am going to take inspiration from my favorites there and make some of my own. They have the most amazing yogurt, I do not know where it comes from but wow is it good. I never like to eat cottage cheese but I liked theirs because it was not runny. I am not sure where to find that, or if I just need to drain the liquid off regular cottage cheese. Growing up Mother made us healthy pancakes with cottage cheese for an occasional dinner. I remember them being very thin but not bad tasting. Of course being from Wisconsin she put butter and sugar on them which I guess canceled out the healthiness. Recipes on my mind to work on to start are no mayo chicken salad (because I do not care for mayo,) the fresh fruit and cottage cheese plate, granola and flatbread pizza. It will take dedication and effort but I would like to eat clean as much as possible. I have heard an 80/20 rule is good to follow for clean eating but I would like to strive for 90/10.

The reason is because Kuochun loves to eat out! Well of course I enjoy it too, it is really our only entertainment. On Tuesday we went to the new Joe Donut in Mount Prospect where Frankie's used to be. I was excited to try it because when we left it was still under construction. They have a full breakfast and lunch menu as well as donuts. We went at lunchtime but had breakfast food. I chose the "Gimme My Regular" which is a breakfast biscuit. I selected the chicken sausage which was amazing, it tasted just about as good as pork sausage. The biscuit was kind of dry so I probably would not get a biscuit again. Kuochun went with the Cowboy Breakfast which is a classic 2x2x2 - eggs your way, breakfast potatoes and pancakes. The pancakes are really for me - I tried half the order because they really do taste best on the spot and they were delicious with homemade butter and syrup. I have never seen breakfast potatoes like the ones at Joe Donut, they have elements of tater tots and formed hash browns but without the chopped up pieces molded together. We learned that one serving would have been more than enough for the two of us to share. I had ordered mine as an extra. Unfortunately Kuochun did not love them and threw them out without telling me. Since we have the Brava at home the reheat function makes leftover restaurant food taste pretty good the second time around. I did make another meal out of my leftovers and the rest of the pancakes though. We did not get donuts because I was afraid they would be stale picking them up in the afternoon closer to closing time. This happened to us when we went to the Glenview location a few years ago. They are definitely on my list to try sometime soon though.

Mother and I have been on a waiting list to get in for a dental cleaning with our longtime dentist in Park Ridge. We all had appointments scheduled for May 1 but we had to cancel them and get on a waiting list because we needed to stay in AZ longer. They actually called several times but the timing has not worked out until a Wednesday appointment at 8:00 AM came up. Mother signed up for it originally but when the time came, she was not keen on going. I missed my October 31 appointment last year as well so I decided to take the opening. I am glad I did because my report was not as good as usual since it had been more than a year since my last cleaning. I've had my teeth cleaned like clockwork every 6 months at this office my entire adult life. I was really glad to have taken the appointment and gotten my teeth back into shape.

I had a colonoscopy scheduled for Thursday and was supposed to go on a liquid diet Wednesday so I figured it was a good time to have my teeth cleaned since I could not eat anyway. My last colonoscopy was five years ago, I was supposed to have one after three years because I had three polyps, one at 10mm which is pretty large. But the pandemic squashed those plans. Nothing on the liquid diet appealed to me so I just went with water on Wednesday. That evening at 5:00 PM the prep started. This time was definitely more challenging that I remember the last time to be. It was not easy but I got all the prep taken care of about 45 minutes later than it was supposed to be. But that was more than fine because my procedure was about an hour and 15 minutes late. The main nurse was awesome, so kind to me. I never get IVs so it took three different staff members to finally get it installed in my hand. Two polyps were found, 5mm and 3mm and they were removed. I believe I woke up early from the procedure (and Kuochun told me the staff told him I did) and have been feeling kind of queasy ever since. I am sure this will resolve itself in time. I am waiting for the test results and to see when the next colonoscopy will be. It is an unpleasant experience but very necessary in the prevention of colon cancer. I know two people who got colon cancer who had to have large portions of their colons removed and now have to wear a urine bag the rest of their lives.

After the procedure was over, I was ready to eat. I used to love the vodka rigatoni at Barnelli's (Portillo's across the street from Lutheran General) so that is where we went. I do not eat it anymore because it is so caloric but I figured I had not eaten for two days so this meal was way less than my daily allowance for this period of time. The bread that comes with it is very good as well. I ended up eating about 3/4 of the pasta and had the rest at another time. Kuochun chose the half slab of ribs which he always used to get when I would order the pasta. I still highly recommend the pasta, the sauce is the best! Better than any other restaurants and I have tried many. If you are not concerned about calories go for it!

The next day we needed to make a trip to Sam's Club to pick up thank you bags for the estate sales. Kuochun wanted to stock up at the Chinese grocery store in Morton Grove as well, Richwell Market. We were just commenting on how much more polite the drivers are in Chicago when a lady zoomed in front of us across several lanes of traffic and into the parking lot at Richwell Market. It just goes to show that there are bad drivers everywhere, not just Phoenix.

After our errands, I wanted one more treat post procedure. I had never tried Crumbl Cookies and had seen more than once on the internet by the weekly tasters that this was the best week for Crumbl cookie flavors ever! I thought it was the perfect time to try them. We selected a 6-pack with one of each weekly special flavor. Starting clockwise from the upper left - Double Chocolate Chip, Classic Krispies Bar, Classic Pink Sugar, Brownie Batter, Confetti Milkshake and Peanut Butter Cup. I am a horrible cookie monster so I have tried them all! I still think Chandler AZ has the very best gourmet cookies but I thought these were all good. They are soft which I like but some of them were very undercooked which I am sure would bother some people. I was alright with it because they tasted like cookie dough. However I think I would enjoyed them more had they been baked longer. There was no "bad" cookie in the bunch. It was a great mix of flavors and included some chocolate but was not chocolate overkill. I think they were pricey at more than $30, I believe about twice the price of the cookies in Chandler so I probably will not in a hurry to get them again. I am glad for the experience so far though!

The combination of recovery from the procedure and the need to complete four estate sale packages by Sunday rounded out the rest of the week. It was really hard work but I completed the last package by 11:45 PM. The great news is I am now up to the holiday week when we had no sales so I have officially started my paperwork break. The hope is to get back to jewelry! I did not have time to work on jewelry this past week except to unpack the six boxes I sent home from AZ. I probably sent too much home but the goal is to get the estate sterling and costume jewelry fully priced and into the caravan and put the remaining pieces (which is the bulk of it) online. There are so many amazing Tucson Gem Show finds which I am excited to share. My first priority will be to get the rest of the Federico collection posted as it is the most valuable and it is the least amount to do. After that will come pieces from Bali, Mexico and the new Native American collection from this year and prior.

I ordered adorable Western-Mexican inspired T-shirts from an online boutique and I am ready to take cute photos on my mannequin with them. They should lend themselves well to the Native American, Mexican and Southwest Style jewelry I will be listing online. Even if it is only a mannequin, it helps people get an idea of scale to display necklaces or pins on a model. An additional bonus is this boutique sells rhinestone jewelry and this is a great combo. I have sold many from my stash of Czech rhinestone pieces over the years but still have many more to go. My first order was several shirts at 20% off but then later they had a live sale with $10 bargains so I got five more shirts and a camo skirt at only $10 each. It sure helps that the mannequin is a small size because the larger sizes always go first.

That is all the news for this week, see you next time!