Picking up the pieces of 2023

Not a recap

Picking up the pieces of 2023

📝 Notes from Jenn:

A short letter today, as I think everyone has inbox fatigue.

Source request: Looking to talk to someone who can quickly answer a few questions on baking with different types of coffee (for example, cold brew vs espresso powder). Someone backed out, and it’s the holidays, and I’m extra stressed.

🛠 Current project: Teaching Zoey how to open a door by hanging a rope toy on the knob. She has done it four times!

🔏 Last week, paid subscribers received a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to put together my Long COVID article.

🍩 What I ate/drank/snacked on: Visited SPRO Coffee Lab in SF and ordered two of their specialty drinks.

Sangria: cold-brew, peach bitters, raspberry gum syrup, frozen berries, served on the rocks. Smoke & Mirrors: smoked agave, rose petal simple syrup, SPRO, edible gold dust

Picking up the pieces of 2023

I don’t know anyone who isn’t exhausted, stressed, drained, burnt out, and/or insert some other variation of tired here. If you are not any of this, I am in awe and I hope this remains true for you for a long time.

Congrats: we’ve almost made it through the year. I’m hoping that the end of 2024 (not a typo) will not be like the previous end-of-year times.

Lately, I have ordered takeout more often than usual, skipped washing dishes on some nights, and stared despairingly at the increasing piles of boxes and things accumulating everywhere. Too exhausted to sort through it all, but not too exhausted to ignore worrying about it.

I picked up a new puzzle from The Magic Puzzle Company. This will be my third jigsaw puzzle from them, and I know it’ll be a lot of fun.

The photo below was supposed to show my meticulous sorting from Day 1. But alas, I stored the puzzle container upright—like how it’s supposed to be able to do—and now the top-left section that was all edge pieces1 has been invaded by the neighboring green and assorted color sections’ pieces. This is really an apt summary for my year: optimistically planned, but unexpectedly and significantly altered by unforeseen, out-of-my-control things.

One of the big highlights of 2023 was getting on an anti-anxiety medication that actually worked. The transition was not fun; however, I didn’t know what I was missing until the med showed me. I really thought that I had to go through the rest of my life with a constant barrage of what-if thoughts and ruminations. I mean, I already lived over three decades with this, so this was my normal. My new normal is much quieter in my head. It didn’t erase my anxiety; it’s just easier to live with now.

Next week is my rest week. I hope to work on the puzzle, sort through some household piles, and god, rest.

purple bracket, full-width, facing up

👀 interesting reads

In the 1850s, the development of centrifugal technology made producing white sugar easier; thanks to its association with royalty and European tastes, it was widely considered superior. “People got used to consuming white sugar, and having white sugar became a matter of prestige,” says Bosma. By the 1930s, a fully industrialized sugar industry made sugar more affordable, at least for the urban elite.
Since they can't raise prices too much, foodmakers have to find other ways to stay profitable. This usually means cutting costs, which includes modifying their products to use cheaper ingredients.
The strange thing is that it wasn’t a specific variety of garlic or the way it was being cooked that grabbed me; it was the context. The fragrance produced something less Proustian and more like déjà vu. It felt like I’d experienced smelling garlic that exact same way before.
artful leaf outlines on left, "plant update" immediately to the right
The philodendron violin: I got this from the plant swap a few months back. It was originally attached higher to the shape, but as you can see, that part died off. I’ve been watering it and giving it light and am now rewarded with a fresh full leaf, another small one forming, and a third coming from a different node! The rarer the plant variety, the longer it takes for them to adjust to their new environment. Sometimes, I feel silly watering what looks like a dead stick, but then I’m rewarded with growth, and there’s some life lesson in this, I’m sure.

  1. These puzzles have more edges than usual, because there are also lines in the middle of it! And fun shapes: I found rabbit and cat shapes already.