Monday, January 26, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
- opened and used a can of black beans and then looked a the label only to discover that it contained sugar. I like to think I'm a pretty consistent label reader but this one caught me totally off guard. Why is sugar added to beans?
- foraging after a party at the parents' house this weekend and took a big old bite of flank steak only to realize within seconds that it had been marinated in soy sauce (contains wheat); that didn't stop me from taking 3 or 4 more bites; it took me that long to wrestle myself away from it.
- could not eat my smoked paprika chicken without what I call special sauce (mayo, ketchup, dijon mustard) and said a fond farewell to ketchup (contains sugar) as a part of that mix; know that I will be experimenting with making my own ketchup just so I can keep making the special sauce.
from Elana at elanaspantry.com2 tablespoons olive oil2 cloves garlic3 cups raw almonds2 teaspoons smoked paprika1 teaspoon celtic sea salt1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat2. Add garlic to the skillet and saute for 3-5 minutes, until the garlic is almost brown3. Add smoked paprika and salt and stir to make a paste4. Add the almonds and stir constantly until they are thoroughly coated5. Continue toasting almonds in the skillet until they are fragrant, about 5 minutes6. Remove from heat and allow the nuts to cool in the pan7. Serve
They actually made me think of popcorn too. There was this delicious, toasty smell wafting through my house the rest of the night and I ate more almonds than should likely be consumed in one four-hour period.
Monday, January 19, 2009
I lost my camera month ago when I took my sister and my niece to The Nutcracker. We had one of those fun, fancy outings where we went to lunch and went to the ballet and participated in the Sugar Plum party afterwards. It was a great day. Except that the camera has not been seen since that day.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Meg was my first sister. She showed up when I was five years old. I woke up one cold, snowy Sunday morning to find Grandmother in the living room with my four brothers. She told me that Mom had gone to the hospital to have her baby and Dad went with her. I was hoping they would come back with a baby sister for me.
We had early church that day so we got dressed and Ric did my hair. He made a valiant attempt--he was 10 years old and had never wielded a brush to do a little girl's hair before--and I at least went to church with my hair combed. I had never gone out the door without a ribbon, a bow, a ponytail or curls and this new look of my hair parted in the middle and brushed straight down was new and a bit bothersome. I was mostly afraid that it made me ugly.
Granddad took us to church and afterwards we went to home with him where we met up with Dad. Dad told us we had a new sibling but didn't want to tell us if the baby was a boy or girl until Mom was on the phone and could tell us herself. So, we crowded into the breakfast room at Grandmother's house and Dad called Mom at the hospital. After he reached her, he had to prolong the suspense a bit more by asking each one of us: "Do you want a boy or a girl?" Ric (10) said a girl, Rus (8) said a girl, Adam (6) said a girl too, and, of course, I shouted that I wanted a girl. Even Matt, who was 3 1/2 years old said he wanted a girl too. Once we cast our votes, Dad said "It's a girl!" and we started jumping up and down and yelling with excitement. A girl! A baby sister! A little wee one who wears pink! We had the baby girl we all wanted to join our family.
That is most of us wanted. Matt didn't join our excitement. He didn't jump up and down or shout his joy. He just stood there silently. When Dad asked him what was wrong, he said, "Shucks, I wanted a boy." Turns out little Matt assumed that babies came equipped with motor skills like he had and Matt had to do one daily job with his motor skills: feed the dog. Matt was hunting a replacement and figured a boy would fit the bill perfectly.
Meg has since won him over to her side.
She tends to do that with people. Win them over to her side. She does it quietly and with a smile but she does it.
She certainly won me over from that day in Grandmother's breakfast room when I first heard I had a sister. I couldn't have asked for a better one.
Lots of love today, Blondie, Jamie Jr., Princess and Sugar. You deserve every last drop of it.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Really, I'm much more of the type to go out and buy a bacon double cheeseburger. So, I was shocked to find this recipe hit the "burger button" spot in a big way for me without a problem.
This is a simple, easy, hearty, healthy recipe. When I discovered it a couple of months ago it was an immediate hit. Often I'm underwhelmed by a recipe or overwhelmed by the intricacies of the instructions, but this recipe is straightforward and simple. I love those kind of recipes.
Typically, I find myself at the grocery store stocking up for the week and unless I have my menus for the week mapped out I will return home having forgotten one essential ingredient for some recipe. This recipe is so easy though, I doubt I will forget anything.
My version is a variation on this recipe from SparksPeople.com. Mostly, I cut the feta cheese and replaced the frozen spinach with fresh spinach. I think the fresh spinach is much yummier.
Spinach Turkey Burger
- 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, 1 turn of the pan
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 box or bag, 5 ounces, fresh spinach
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, lightly crushed in the palm
- 8-10 thin slices mozzarella cheese (I use almond mozzarella)
- 1 1/3 pounds ground turkey breast,
- 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Salt-Free Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. To one side, add a little grapeseed oil, add the chopped garlic and chopped red onion and cook 5 minutes. Transfer the onions and garlic to a bowl to cool. Return pan to heat. Add grapeseed oil to pan and then add fresh spinach without stems. Cook over medium heat until spinach wilts about 3-5 minutes. Add the spinach to the bowl with cool onions and garlic and season with 1 teaspoon of oregano. Add in ground turkey, grill seasoning and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Mix and form into 8 small to medium patties, 1-inch thick. Raise heat on pan to medium-high. Add patties and cook 6 min on each side. Or you can grill on an indoor grill for 5 minutes. Add mozzarella slices to top of patties and melt them for 1-2 minutes.
Makes 8 small burgers or 4 large burgers.
Note: The original recipe said to cook the onions and garlic in extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat, but extra-virgin olive oil is not made for sauteeing things at high heat, so I use grapeseed oil to sautee the onions, garlic and spinach. Still adds a great flavor but grapeseed oil can withstand the higher temperatures. You could use an olive oil made for high heat temperatures, but you might want to try grapeseed oil and see if you like it too.
Friday, January 9, 2009
CJane's latest entry about her sister NieNie. If you've been following this story, like me, you will know that CJane (Courtney) took over her sister's blog, the NieNie Dialogues, this past summer when NieNie and her husband were severely injured in a plane crash. Before that Courtney had been writing about her struggles with infertility. She's gained quite a readership in the process of both of these stories. In this latest entry she addresses the evolution of her blog and how she began writing for her sister when NieNie was so badly injured. Then Courtney shares the exciting news that her sister is ready to take over her own blog again next week and begin telling her story now after the accident. I think it is a sweet, tender piece about the love between sisters and how no matter the cost, we do whatever we can when someone we love is hurting.
DietGirl's guest post on Refuse to Regain. Shauna Reid from Diet Girl started an extraordinary journey in 2001 when she began to lose weight. Over the period of four or five years, Shauna chronicled that journey on her blog as she proceeded to lose over half her body weight or a total of 175 pounds. She was one of the first famous weight loss bloggers and she ended up writing a book about her story. She's an Aussie girl living in Scotland and I love her use of terms like "knackered" and "mucking" and "wobbly bits." And while I enjoy Shauna's writing, this guest post about the reality of maintenance has got to be one of the most valuable pieces I've ever read. So many people out there are writing about the process of losing weight, but very few of them are dealing with the harsh realities once the euphoria of the weight loss wore off. Shauna addresses the realities. This is exactly the kind of stuff I've been wanting to read. I lost a bunch of weight three years ago and then a year later I regained all of it. I've been a bit gun-shy since then because I don't want to repeat the emotional fall-out I experienced on that journey. Shauna is the first sensible voice I've heard with regards to the long-term journey.
Science Friday podcast on how to stick to New Year's resolutions. They interview psychologist John Norcross who talks about how to succeed with New Year's resolutions. I think the podcast is excellent alone for the tidbit that 71% of people will succeed with their resolution if they report at least three times to a friend or family member regarding their goal. Dr. Norcross has other ideas and insights about how to really attain your resolutions this year.
Just a little inspiration for your Friday. I know they all lent me some insight.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
And so has my stress level.
The euphoria of the new year has dissipated. It's cold outside. The bank balance is much lower after Christmas. And I haven't been given any more magic pills from work.
It's time to buckle down, return all those DVDs to my intern, put my head down and go to work.
Wish me luck.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I LOVE my car.
Admittedly, I say this often, but I really, really love my 4WD on days like today. I even do donuts in the snow--every time I get behind the wheel in weather like this.
I had a great day at work!
Miracle, indeed. Despite 14 headache-inducing problems and long, long to-do list, I was completely energized by everything today. Please, could someone feed me this kind of magic pill every day?
I need to make him/her cinnamon rolls.
I don't make cinnamon rolls. But my mother does. I think I said this in her presence hoping she would do it for me so I could offer it to two very nice people who earned a bit of sainthood today.
- The first is some unknown neighbor who cleared two feet of snow off the very big, very wide driveway in front of my house. We now have snow mounds the size of small mountains on each side of the driveway. You, whoever you are, are a prince among men (or a princess among women). If I were your fairy godmother I would grant you 100 wishes instead of just a measly little three. You deserve every one of them. Bless you, you good-hearted, hard-working, too-thoughtful person.
- The second is for my intern at work. She and I had a cozy chat yesterday as we cleared out some boxes in my office. And in the midst of that little chat, I discovered someone who loves my current obsession more than me. She owns all five seasons. And then loaned me all five. God bless America. And give my intern anything she wants. FOREVER. She just made my day, my week, my month. I think she needs a raise.
This day was definitely a keeper.
P.S. Plus, I got to celebrate this cutie's birthday. It was the frosting on the cake of my day.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
This year has had its ups and downs and several highlights. For me those highlights include the family trip to Denmark, a friend's wedding and another friend's long, summer visit, starting school again, re-organizing my house, getting furniture restored or adding new pieces to my collection, and celebrating birthdays, holidays and every day with good friends and family. And really, one of my favorite parts of the whole year has been the chance to write so much and interact with friends and readers on the Internet. It has been my favorite hobby this whole year. I've always written in journals and notebooks and in little asides that litter my hard drive and my bookshelves but the immediacy of writing and actually having someone or anyone read that writing is like the ambrosia of the gods. Too yummy.
I've put together a list of my favorite posts this year. Thank you, readers and lurkers and bloggers alike who've read, perused and inspired me this year to catalog, define, and elucidate the hills and valleys that have charted my course these past months. You've made this ride amazing.
Call Me Miss Potter, If You Please
". . . The character of Miss Beatrix Potter. A quiet, somewhat homely, refined woman who has been under the tight scrutiny of her mismanaging mother for all of her adult life, but who lives an active artistic life with her painting and writing. I want to be Miss Potter. I don't want the mother, or the strict Victorian society, but I do want the countryside of the Lake District, the constant drawing of nature, and the writing of books. If anything embodies my secret desires this is it--to live the artistic life."
Hold My Hand, Forever
"My mother came here as a bride at 21, a California girl used to sand clutching her flat belly. They settled on a little farm where she learned how to irrigate, drive a tractor, and chase stray bulls from the garden on a Sunday afternoon in her heels. She birthed six babies through sixteen years on that dusty acreage west of town. All because one Saturday afternoon while watching a football game and drinking root beers, a dark-haired, earnest cowboy named Ralph held her hand and she never wanted him to let go."
The Born Business
"I think that birth is such a mind-altering and perspective-changing experience that we need to give women every opportunity, every advantage, and every option available to them to make their birthing experiences positive and empowering. And that is where I think a movie like The Business of Being Born is a great introduction to the discussion."
The After-Easter Sale
"How much chocolate is too much chocolate? I mean, really. Two bags? Four? Eight? I'm even burping chocolate. (Note to self: marshmallow bunnies don't taste better the second time around.)"
Isn't that Nice?
"It was soon my turn to have my purchases rung up. The cashier started by apologizing. He was so sweet and so young and I was so wicked and impatient. And then, that trick of my mother’s kicked in: Despite my anger and my impatience, I plastered my oh-so-sincere smile across my face and turned on the sweet.
'Oh, that’s okay. I’m sure it was frustrating for you too. You were so kind to help her out like that. I’m afraid I wouldn’t have been so accommodating.' More like I would have turned cashier-kamikaze and head butted her out of my line after scanning her items three extra times."
"You see the people of the world can be divided into two very important categories: Those Who Love Icing and Those Who Hate Icing. And I am a long-time, card-carrying member of the first group. I've always judged a cake by its icing. . . . And this cake, this cake of Sam's? It has the best frosting I have ever tasted in my life. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I might do illegal acts if this frosting were the pay off."
What I Miss About Having Company
"And of course, the talking. The discussions that ranged over five days. The particular question that my friend asked me about an old, old problem and I didn't have an answer, which made me see the issue in an entirely new light. The airing of opinions and refining of tastes that occurred as we shared and explored an array of topics. The great long conversation of our friendship that has stretched across many years, many states, and many emotions."
Denmark Day 1
"The gate agent had just taken my bag and Spencer's bag because there was no room left in the overhead compartments of the very full plane. That look of concern on Spencer's face reads something like this: "Why did that NORTHWEST gate agent not give me a claim ticket for my bag? Why do they insist that they CAN'T gate check my bag? How is my bag supposed to arrive in Copenhagen when the gate agent (read: wing nut) ripped the bags out of my hands without so much as asking my name? Why don't I have a claim ticket again?" (read: someone didn't do HIS job. Same someone who will insist 14 days later that it was EVERYONE else's fault but his that our luggage takes nearly 10 days to be located. Same someone who will not answer our very expensive international calls until we have called him a total of 23 times. Yep, just remember. Don't ever let a NORTHWEST gate agent take your bags from you. They will fall into a dark abyss that only said wing nut will be able to locate. Because he is the ONLY ONE in the UNIVERSE who knows the claim ticket number. And no airline, airport, or lost luggage agent will begin to assist you without first asking, "What is your claim ticket number?" You mean the one I NEVER RECEIVED?)"
Denmark Day 3
"The sign at the pier on Gammel Strand where we exited our harbor tour [says Havenerundfart]. You see the last four letters on that sign? Well, that one tiny little word in Danish means "speed" or "momentum" or "rate" or "velocity" and is on many, many signs throughout the country. (And yes, the Danish meaning only added emphasis to the English meaning.) Let's just say that one little word inspired hours and hours and hours of hilarity on this trip. Especially when Rus would do things like mispronounce the sign below to say something the equivalent of "Have you a fun f**t?"
Denmark Day 4: Part 2
"But one chair went unoccupied. The boys weren't about to take it from one of the girls and the girls thought they would be more comfortable on the floor than one of the bigger boys. Julie was the closest girl to the unoccupied chair and she was protesting and desisting from claiming it with great good humor. That is until the mother ship, Jamie, decided the matter by barking the order, 'Julie, get up in that chair.' To which Julie's body responded with a frightening speed, while her face registered total shock."
The Not-So Secret
"I stink at secrets. Always have and likely always will. At least secrets about myself. From the time I was three years old and experienced the horror of having the longest-calf-needle-in-America plunged into my backside by my seven-year-old brother who was chasing me and laughing wickedly at my terror of said needle."
Tagged: Joys and Fears in My Life
"I'm easily startled. This has something to do with my ability to get quickly absorbed by whatever is in front of me. Please never, never walk up behind me (or beside me, or really, even in front of me) without sounding some kind of alarm or notice or warning. Fog horns work best. If you do walk up without warning me, be prepared to defend yourself. I've been known to utter a shriek so high-pitched your ear drums will split. Then I will begin to flail wildly in your direction and I take no prisoners. (Think Jackie Chan meets Baloo the Bear and you will have the right idea of what a terrifying spectacle you will behold). I nearly took my boss out a few months ago when he approached my desk suddenly and with a booming voice. The black eye was with him for about three weeks."
How Do You Do It?
"Then the pressure starts to build and either more balls get thrown in the rotation or I have to increase the speed that I throw the balls in order to get everything done. Then it starts to get ugly. I start dropping balls everywhere, throwing them wildly, and looking like a crazy person as I try to keep things under control until eventually I can't track any of the balls or the direction they are flying and I put my hands down in defeat and drop everything. Then I curl up in a corner and wish I could die."
Back to Life, Back to Reality
"The native landscape here can be strong and vibrant with rich browns, bold oranges, and startling shots of green. But today it seems parched and withering after the green softness of coastal Denmark. Today I'm seeing with new eyes an old place that I love. And that place isn't winning."
Here's the Dish
"Maybe that is why I've been avoiding, delaying, and running from the implications. I've been really unsure for a long time where I am, if I'm settled and what my life looks like. I've been in a giant holding pattern waiting for the next big thing to come along: my fabulous life as a writer in New York, my adventurous life as deep sea diver in Alaska, my neo-spiritual life as hiking guide in the mountains of New Mexico. Something or anything different than the job I work, the body I have, and the indecision that continues to mount in my life."
Love to Order
"Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy? My order would go something like this: tall, dark and handsome; spiritual, but hold the fanatical; funny, but hold the flatulence jokes; intelligent, but hold the ego; with a side order of will-take-me-to-any-show-ballet-or-theater-without-gritting-his-teeth."
The Buggy Ride
"And that high-pitched shriek, she'd been shrieking in the back of her throat? Well, it turned in to a full-blown panic attack when we hit the Great Cloud. Still keeping her mouth shut and her sunglasses on, and still managing to keep the Polaris on the road, Amy began a frantic tango of survival, the likes of which I have never been privy to witness in this life and hope to never see in the next."
The Lawn Chronicles
"Truly I began to wonder what he was thinking. Until this morning that is, when I realized that Mr. Twenty-Two wasn't lazy, ineffecient, too busy, or lacking in a responsibility gene. He was making a fashion statement. For what our lawn is now sporting is a mullet. We are business in the front, and party in the back."
"I think this year has been especially hard for me because I keep expecting that I'm going to make a trip up to Burley to see them and she will have chili on the stove when I arrive and we will sit on the blue "divan" in the living room and catch up on the news. Then I will go to sleep in the pink bedroom upstairs and wake up in the morning to the smell of popping bacon and sit in the little breakfast room and eat Apple Jacks with half and half."
Why Chocolate Doesn't Do the Trick During a Week Like This
"I must thrive on anxiety for as much as I milk it and coax it and welcome it into my home and heart. It is like a lover who courts and woos me with the constant plying of attention and devotion and proclamations of undying commitment. I can't let go of it. And it certainly seems enamored with me. It is not a mutually agreeable relationship but it is the most long-term relationship I've been in to date. And sometimes misery as your only company must satisfy as company indeed."