Menu Monday Week 50: The Year Is Winding Down

OK, y’all, I’m going to get real for a moment. If you want to get to this week’s menu, you’re probably going to want to scroll a bit. I’m going to talk about stuff that might be a little bit tough, as it relates to mental health. I try to be transparent about this as I want to help destigmatize dealing with mental health issues.

COVID-19 has caused 2020 to be an especially rough year for me. For those of you who have been around a long time, you know that back in 2013, I went through a bit of medical trauma with my sister’s death.

I’ve been pretty open with the fact that I deal with anxiety and depression under normal circumstances. This year, the non-stop threat of a disease that could, even if the chance is low put one of my family members in the ICU on a respirator, brings back those memories on a very deep level. As this surge has increased and people in my area dismiss the virus as a non-issue, I’ve had an increasingly difficult time.

Add in that parents in our area are fighting to open our schools full-time and reduce social distancing in our schools to three feet as positivity levels pass 20% and no mitigation efforts are being put in place. (I completely understand that closing schools introduces a slew of other societal issues and that we need to deal with those, too.)

My rational brain knows that the chances of my immediate family suffering greatly from COVID-19 are low. My trauma brain doesn’t do rational; it just doesn’t work that way, and over the past few months, all of this has been quietly, sneakily building up. It’s been tough balancing my needs with our four teens’ emotional and mental health needs. We’ve continued social distancing, despite others in our circles acting as if nothing has changed. Then, of course, we have two very young children who are just exhausting in their own right. After my panic attacks became a daily occurrence, I broke down and contacted my doctor. I’m back in therapy and trying to get through the day-to-day. I hope that all of you are taking care of yourselves as best as you can through this. Give each other grace because while the cause may not have been a virus, some of us do know exactly what the end of that one percent experience feels like.

So that’s why the posts have been a little more sporadic and a little more prone to errors.

Hey, scrollers!

Welcome back.

Ok so on the good news front, today the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered to some of our healthcare workers and this is the very beginning of the end!

It is a good day.

This post is late because I ended up working later than I planned and then family life took over. In fact, I’m cooking Monday night’s dinner as I type. The pasta is boiling and the soup is simmering.

So what will you be having this week? Do you need a printable to help plan? Here you go.

Here’s what we’re having:

  • Monday – Not quite Pasta e Fagioli -it’s a riff on what they serve at Olive Garden. Eventually, I’ll get it posted. I meant to photograph it tonight, but… c’est la vie. We do the best we can. Today’s best is: There’s food. Eat it.
  • Tuesday – Ground Pork and Cabbage Skillet – we’re shaking it up a bit and adding a little ginger and soy sauce, skipping the bay leaves. We’ll serve it ramen noodles.
  • Wednesday – Smash burgers, steamed broccoli
  • Thursday – Clean Out Refrigerator Night
  • Friday – Cottage Pie (Some of you may know it as shepherd’s pie, but we don’t have access to ground lamb around here) I’ll use this ground beef and gravy as a base, with a little tomato paste. I’ll add some carrots, corn, and peas to the base and then top with mashed potatoes and bake until there’s a little bit of a golden crust. If I’ve got the energy, I’ll photograph it and record it for the site. If not, well, we’ll still have a good dinner.
  • Saturday – Chicken thighs, probably tossed in the slow cooker with some salsa and then shredded. I’ll serve it with rice, pinto beans, and other condiments for burrito bowls.
  • Sunday – Smokin’ Sunday – we are revisiting pulled pork. I’m smoking two this time and starting MUCH earlier in the day and splitting the second between neighbors and a good friend. I figure if I’m running the smoker, I might as well fill it, right? I may document the process over on Instagram stories, so keep your eyes peeled. (@heathersolos) I’m trying to get more camera comfortable, but no guarantees. It always depends on the kind of day I’m having.

So here’s my ask. If you like and have learned anything from it. Please pass it along to one friend. It’s truly appreciated and is how we grow.

If you have any questions for the mailbag, go ahead and send them in, we’re actually pretty caught up for once, so some new ones would be great. Send those to I don’t know why I keep saying we…it’s just me.

I hope you have a great week. We’ve got this.

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