Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chili Recipe

Here is a chili recipe I made up! I had never made chili in my life, but was compelled to do so. Why? Because at my Master Gardener class, someone had brought in a basket of (presumably home-grown) mysterious hot-looking peppers on the snack table. I decided to take one of each and make a large quantity of food that could handle whatever spicy level came forth from the peppers. Hence, chili! After gleaning some ideas from several cookbooks, I cobbled together my first chili.

And it rocks!!! Arvonn was duly impressed, and I was pleasantly surprised that this chili tasted so magically delicious. So I just had to share -- if you feel so inclined, I wholeheartedly recommend trying it for yourself!

1. Get out a huge pot (with lid). This makes a LOT, but that's what freezers are for!
2. Brown ~2.5 lbs hamburger in said pot. Take it out when done, set aside.
3. Chop/dice a medium onion and throw it in the pot (still on medium heat).
4. Add ~3 Tbsp. chopped garlic and cook till onions start getting clear.
5. Add ~4 Tbsp. EACH of cumin, chili powder, paprika.
6. Add ~0.5 tsp. black pepper
7. Add ~1 tsp. celery seed
8. Now, I added half of each of my mystery peppers (one of which I think was a Scotch Bonnet), but in retrospect I think the proper heat could be obtained by using one whole habanero pepper, diced as small as possible, no seeds. Yes, the little red pepper of DOOM! I suppose you could adjust to taste if you are a wimp. Don't worry, I used to be a spicy food wimp myself, but now I am bold and brassy!
**SAFETY NOTE: Be sure to wear gloves when cutting Peppers of Doom, and wash cutting surfaces and knifes thoroughly, and don't touch your eyes, etc.!!**
9. So this stuff is all cooking away, now deglaze the pot with 0.5 cup of white wine (or beer, which I wanted to use but didn't have). Stir.
10. Add back the beef!
11. Add a capful of Liquid Smoke, the flavor enhancer of the gods.
12. Add 3 (~16 oz.) cans of kidney beans, 1 (~15 oz.) can of diced tomato and
13. 32 oz. of medium salsa. I bought a huge 64-oz. jar at Costco for just this purpose, and had lots leftover for chip-dippy fun. I guess any salsa would do!
14. Add ~4 Tbsp. honey AND ~4 Tbsp. molasses.
15. Stir, heat through, and let simmer for, I dunno, at least a couple hours, with the lid ajar. I had it going all afternoon. Do not worry about the spice level as you sample it; it will come out perfectly!
16. I let it sit off the heat for an hour for flavor melding and thickening and all that. DONE!

Enjoy with big hunks of bread (yes, I was crazy and simultaneously made a random loaf of brown Finnish bread from scratch) and/or tortilla chips. Eat while watching Babylon 5. Drink milk. Enjoy your surprisingly-full belly from only 1 bowl. Sneak a bit more if you want. Pat yourself on the back for having a supertasty snack/meal on your hands and a freezerful for another time!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A seemingly very Northwest thing to be doing

I'm going to go outside now in the overcast weather with my big cup o' coffee, and do some weeding. Hah!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

quick rundown

Yoga goals: out the window (oh well)
Apple pie making party: in 2 hours
Master Gardener homework: must be done NOW
Further blogging: irrelevant (today)
till next time . . .

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Let me tell you about my goal.

OK, as you may have noticed, I haven't done yoga since last Wednesday. As the days went by without the yoga, I said to myself, "Self, you are pathetic. You can't even do this yoga thing 40 days in a row? Where's your WILLPOWER? Hmm, it's not around today. OK, I'll make it up at the end." After awhile this changed to, "So why aren't you doing yoga? Don't you want to feel relaxed? No, wait, I feel plenty relaxed without the yoga, and in fact, the yoga is starting to stress me out!
Stress you out? Self, what are you talking about?
Well, the yoga has gone from something I want to do and feel good about doing, producing restful results, to something I'm pretty much dreading every day.
Why would you dread it??
Well, the pressure to just accomplish it every day, in the framework of my stated goal, was more at the forefront of my mind when doing it, than actually enjoying it. Sort of doing it and being glad it was over so I could check it off. And not being that relaxed about it, really. A sort of panic to not slip up.
So let's see, have you felt irritable and impatient during all these days you've been slacking off on the goal?
No! No, in fact, I feel more relaxed about, well, abandoning the goal and not having that pressure every day.
But quitters never win! That's not you! You can't just abandon your goal!
You're right, I would feel COMPLETELY LAME if I totally gave it up. I'm thinking that I'll only feel, maybe, 60% lame for finishing out this week's break from my goal before starting again! Then I can complete the last 12 days in a row, call it even, and let myself stop.
But your goal is all about reaping the benefits of continuity! You've totally failed already!
Yes, but aren't I supposed to be learning from this yoga? Feeling like a failure accomplishes nothing! It's not relaxing! I realize now that my expectation of 40 days of straight yoga, the same program, over and over and over again, was unrealistic! I need a freakin' break! And the break is letting me realize I don't want to abandon everything, I'll do 12 more days of the program, but I'm also not going to keep adding days at the end and making myself crazy! C'mon, this is what I'm trying to avoid in the first place: anxiety, pressure, perfectionism!
But you're not perfect! You are a chumpus who fails and flakes out!
Well yes, Self, we went over this. I guess I am weak, a little bit. But at least I'm not giving up completely!
But you weren't perfect and you have to feel bad now!
No!
But . . . perfect!
But . . . NO! I'm tired of this discussion, we've had it so often over the past 15ish years, I'm just admitting once again that I have flaws like everybody does! Can you please get that through your thick skull?
Well, it's your thick skull, too; you're talking to yourself.
Oh, right. I know. I just . . . stupid yoga goal, maybe it was more trouble than it was worth. Setting myself up to fail and all that.
.....
No, I think it's been very informative. 12 more days, starting tomorrow, forget about this week, and then you can do any yoga program, anytime you want.
Good, I like the basic stretch program!
Really? Me, too!
Yoga is fun, but I need some variety, some flexibility, and some self-acceptance.
Indeed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yoga 14

I did my yoga Tuesday night, but I fell asleep for 75% of it! So I must have been REALLY relaxed! Ha!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall

All of a sudden it's Fall here! The past couple days it's been rainy (with at least one overnight downpour), and leaves are dropping here and there, and it's cooler. This morning as I headed out for my walk with Anita and Joleen, it was only 48 degrees! Hooray, I love Fall!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yoga 20

Another yoga done! This is halfway, people!!

Yoga 21

Another yoga done! I kept getting distracted, though -- bringing the cat in from outside, rescuing roasting red peppers from the broiler, etc. etc. oh well, I did it!

Monday, September 15, 2008

busy-ness

I've been feeling like life is really busy and full lately, which is good I guess! Not even that much is going on, but it feels like a lot! Last week I made up two recipes I'd like to put on the blog for YOU to try; I canned peaches with Anita -- first time canning, it was fun; I made food for the neighborhood BBQ yesterday; I got a haircut; I planted more plants; cleaned the house fo' real; took pets to the vet; made baby steps toward the prep of selling old comix online (oh you know you want them!); even wrote a bunch of ideas for my novel thingie; and survived movie night last night with rambunctious dogs and a creepy scary movie.

Today I'm cooking a pork roast, a peach pie, and zucchini bread as I try my experiment of lumping all my household chores into one day (when all I worry about is chores, thus freeing the rest of the week for creative pursuits).

This week jogging moves to Tuesdays as I start my Master Gardener class on Wednesdays!! I'm very excited about this class, and I aim to take good notes, do my homework, and become an expert! The first homework assignment is to bring in a soil sample from my yard! :)

Also planning out our heat pump situation which involves moving a huge rose bush; fixing up the guest room; painting the 2nd bathroom (finally!); looking towards Thanksgiving when my family will visit; planning some much-needed vacation time; and walking the dog at increasingly long intervals (15 mins . . . 20 . . . 30 . . . several times a day) as she grows. So I just feel busy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yoga 34

Fresh to the computer from more yoga. This time I experienced:

a) an overwhelming desire to take an autumnal walk in Schenley Park, and subsequent sadness that it's thousands of miles away, as are a handful of friends, the place I got married, and the house I grew up in. Weird.
b) Moxie coming over and nosing my hand while I lay on the floor, presumably to make sure I was still alive. This was so cute!! I petted her, smiled, and said nothing.
c) During the final meditation I got all panicky about past things, like paths not taken in life and what-if's and crap like that. Stuff that I'm pondering for this book I want to write. So it was a combined panic about the future, too, i.e. writing the book. I had to work really hard to stay sitting there and not give up!
d) Around this point I also came to notice that my feet were freezing, my back was hurting, and I was super hungry. I admit, I looked at my watch (such a yoga no-no, I'm sure), and just felt desperate to be done. Thankfully, 10 seconds later, the meditation wrapped up and I got to do the deep relaxation in triumph that I did yoga again!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yoga 35

Ah, fresh from the latest round of yoga. I think I can feel my lung capacity increasing, and my impatience during the final 11-minute meditation is lessening. I was still wondering how much longer there was to go, but to drown out this fidgety anticipation, I thought about irregular past tense German verbs instead!

Friday, August 29, 2008

I have a GOAL

Yesterday I was all stressed out for no reason. Stressing out for no reason, or what I like to call "vague anxiety", happens to me a little too frequently for what I would like to be my style. So I did the "meditation for calm" routine on my beloved yoga DVDs (vol. 6, program 11), and felt great afterwards.

While watching, I noticed that the guru guy recommends doing this exercise/meditation set for 40 days in a row. That it has countless benefits of mind and body and after 40 days, leaves you a non-stressing, patient, relaxed individual. Or at least gives you easy techniques to get to this state when you're all worked up from things like driving down the Fred Meyer parking lot rows in the wrong direction (I always ignore the arrows . . . whoops), or finagling a polarized plug into a socket you can't quite reach behind some furniture (death and destruction, I hate polarized plugs!), or watching your dog lick its chops after dining in the cat's litterbox (kill me now), or still being a week and a half into potential barbecue plans that may or may not happen tomorrow (keep remembering: I'm on the west coast, I'm on the west coast, these people can't help it but HOLY CRAP can a decision be made puh-leeze??) You know, the assorted small annoyances of life that, well, most people can just miraculously overlook.

I also want to overlook and let go, or at least not have the tiny things get me in a rage, or the unplanned things make me feel like I've had a dozen espressos. The cumulative effect of many future things to do (like we're talking over days, weeks, months) sometimes hits me all at once, everything feels immediate and imminent, and I freak out. I want to simply look forward to fun things in a carefree manner instead of mentally running through every step of events in the next 2-3 weeks, down to fuelling up the car and locking the house. Yes, I was stressing about fuelling up the car a week from now. And this seemed normal to me until A. told me to cut it out!

With that said, I am going to do that yoga routine for the next 40 days! And anyone who reads this will get all the excitement of me posting about it right here! I thought I'd check off the days on the blog as a way to be held accountable, or something like that. Obviously (obviously) I'm also making a wee little calendar that will afford me the pleasure of filling in boxes in lovely black ink every day.

So, wish me luck! If I skip a day, boy will I be pissed at myself, so yeah, hopefully I can do this! Starting yesterday, natch. One day down, I'm not going to not count it!! Today is Day 2, so expect a post later (I'm aiming for 4:00ish yoga). <--See the "ish"? It must be working already.

Friday, August 8, 2008

yays

This was going to be a list of yays and boos, but I'm feeling rather positive right now, so it'll just be yays! Yay to:

* chill music on Groove Salad
* starting Master Gardener training in Sept. (go, me!)
* sun tea sweetened with backyard stevia (everyone should try growing this plant, it is SO sweet! Chop the leaves into your tea for a sweet surprise here and there, calorie-free!)
* Tung oil on my writing table (will apply second coat in about 10 mins!)
* My perky happy awesome kitten (now named "Muesli", FYI)
* Book inspiration via the web and memories . . .
* Samurai Jack (Netflixed first season and need more!)
* upcoming ladies' tea party
* return of the hummingbirds to the yard
* the weekend!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Who would have thought?

Let's pretend it's not quite 4 years ago. I'm still at my last job, I'm burned out, I'm quite cynical, and all I want to do is move to Pittsburgh to be with my boyfriend (Arvonn!), get my comic book idea on paper (Ev and Art!), and never have to size another jpeg for a Powerpoint, or type up another meeting minute, ever again.

If I had told my past self that I'd be doing the following 4 years later, I would have been quite amused and amazed:

1. Going out to pick blueberries and raspberries, in Oregon, with my bebabied neighbors (neighbors with babies), on a Tuesday morning.

2. Going out jogging, in Washington State, with my bebabied neighbors, and my dog, the next day.

Life is full of surprises!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Story of Salad and Bread Mastery

I'm a relative newcomer to the "making and eating salad at home" phenomenon, and a total newcomer to making my own salad dressing. Blue cheese dressing has always been the way to go! But this dressing I came up with yesterday is SO GOOD, that everyone has to try it. You will not be disappointed! If you try it and are disappointed, I will send you a bottle of blue cheese dressing as a consolation prize.*

I know that people have been making their own dressing for centuries so my "discovery" may be totally lame, but it is a BREAKTHROUGH in eating more salad for me. Honestly I just threw together a bunch of herbs from my yard . . . and you can, too!

How to Make a Great Salad (very similar to "The Salad" for those of you in the know)
Throw some leafy lettuce in a bowl. Just a clump o' health you picked up at the farmers' market.
Throw grape tomatoes in there, too.
Add a heaping dollop of farmer cheese, because it is the same thing as goat cheese for crying out loud and it is way cheaper!!!!!!
How about some cucumber?
Or dried cranberries?
Whatever. To me, this is now salad. Even just lettuce + tomatoes is "salad".

The Best (non-bluecheese) Dressing Ever and if You Don't Try it You are Missing Out, I Swear!
Mix together in a jar or something with a lid, in proportions you find pleasing upon experimental sampling:
- olive oil
- seasoned rice vinegar (I used Nakano Red Pepper flavor, which yes has HFCS in it, but it's coating a big bowl of HEALTH so who the hell cares in this case)
- cilantro (chopped)
- basil (ditto)
- chives (chop 'em)
- mint (chop, mince, dice, you know . . . these herbs should be itty bitty)
- salt
- pepper

Shake it and glop some on your salad and EAT. Isn't it so herby and plant-y and good?

* Provided that I know you, and like you, and you're not lying because there is no way this could disappoint you, especially since I left the proportions up to you so quit your whining!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

weather

I truly enjoy how we've hit a cloudy/drizzly spot in the weather, and I'm going around slightly chilly. Cozy cups of tea, long sleeves, multiple blankets at bedtime, fires in the fireplace . . . it's been practically autumnal this week! And it's June. Last year it was way warmer around this time. We had some bouts of shorts and tank tops a few weeks ago, but as I look out the window it's steadily raining and my fingers are kind of cold typing. Mmm, summer days in the 50's-60's . . . I'll take it!

Speaking of the fireplace, I love that thing! Irrationally, I want to light fires in it all the time!! I've never had a (working) fireplace before and it's great to get that smoky woodsy smell all through the living room and be COZY. Well, it doesn't really add much by way of heating the place (hmm, secret desire to get a wood stove insert thingie someday), but it is really fun for me. We've got all this LUMBER that came from chopping down the enormous hedge! This means I'm burning mostly hollow, not-so-dry arborvitae TIMBERS, but that's OK. I'll be buying marshmallows soon if this fall weather keeps up! Again, like my bread enthusiasm, A. thinks I'm a bit weird. Endearingly weird, I'm sure. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

light bulb goes on

Wow, today I finally figured out what the hell a podcast really is, and what RSS is. Thank you, BBC website! It takes my need for Doctor Who commentaries for me to care about current technology. And I might add, no place else ever explained these things either a) at all; or b) in a way I could understand. sheesh! (BTW I do not really appreciate the Doctor's daughter -- shes' too perky and sassy and not-a-good-actress, but maybe I'll have to re-watch. Too much emoting going on for me to focus, aiee!)

I'm always late on these things, but now OVER a year ago at this time (it was May 7), I arrived here in Vancouver and started living in the old apartment! So freshman year of the west coast can now be checked off. We've also been in this house now for nearly 6 months, which is crazy! It's really flown by. Do I like it all, am I glad I moved, is the Northwest an acceptable place to live? I think so, maybe . . . . mostly I think:

a) Leaving Pittsburgh is a very very good idea, it is necessary refreshment of, like, your will to live;
b) Meeting new people is very very good, can help a transition to any area, and results in, you know, new friends! :)
c) Clean air is very very nice, and tall coniferous trees are fun! However, they produce a bizarre longing for round, puffy deciduous trees;
d) Owning a house is great!
e) Spring and all its greenery is really is not that exciting, nor appreciated, unless you go through winter first. :(

I'm sure there are more insights, but I need coffee. Mostly I guess a, b, and d are independent of the Northwest; they'd probably be true no matter where we'd moved. Now I need my clean air, though (thanks, NW)! The lack of winter, while a novelty, may get old. I really really do like winter! (and puffy deciduous trees!) Being this far from family is pretty crappy, too. And still, nothing is old here, and the ranch houses are weird, and even though I love my house (yes, a mod mod ranch!) I still dream of living in a Victorian, or any big old house with second-and-third floor perches, double entry doors, bay windows, a turret, a porch swing, stained glass, you know, stuff like that. (Why'd I leave Pgh again? No, wait, there is way more to quality of life than your house's architecture!)

Well, it's sophomore year here, I guess . . .

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Watch this!

I had heard of the BBC movie "Learners" (starring David Tennant, of course, hee hee), and finally watched it yesterday. I must share it, and everyone must watch it, it's great!! It's in 9 parts, but adds up to about an hour and a half. "David Tennant Driving School" Doctor Who fans will recognize 2 other familiar faces! Actually, the main actress wrote the script, I believe.

Also, there are owls. I really really like this film. Comment if you agree! :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

nonstop everything

Watching The Princess Bride on the big screen along with a hundred other movie geeks, cheering and saying lines and being generally merry = inconceivable! Oh wait, I mean, unbelievable! Unbelievably cool, that is.

I'm having various guests visit over the next few weeks, so that means getting a futon (check!), cleaning up a bit (check!), and vacuuming (ugh, the check that is still in the mail . . . as in, I haven't done this, but I will . . . sometime . . .)

Tuesday afternoon, I went with my neighbor to her friend's house to dig up plants! This friend wanted to divide allll kinds of plants and give them to us, so last evening I frantically planted the following all over my yard:

Acanthus
Asiatic lilies
Aster (3 types)
Astilbe (4 types)
Bluebells (2 types)
Columbine
Coral bells
Daylilies (8 types)
Delphinium
Geranium (5? types)
Lady's Mantle (2 types)
Liatrus
Lobelia
Lungwort
Sedum (2 types)

. . . while A. made a delicious fake-Moussaka type of thing, which we then ate while watching The Fellowship of The Ring, just because. And then it rained all night, so I didn't have to water any of the plants!

Maybe I should vacuum now, instead of blogging. hmm.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Continuing the Spring theme, I found the Sunset Western Garden Book at a used bookstore (in a totally dull plaza in middle Vancouver -- who would have thought that a huge, great bookstore is hidden there??). Anyway, I am TOTALLY into it!!! I'm voraciously reading up on plants plants plants with an interest that has not been seen since, oh, fifth grade and Greek Myths? Thanks to Maggie for telling me of the book's awesomnicity. My garden shall rule the world!!

I beat the TG16 game Cratermaze (60 levels!?) on our every-game-in-one arcade rolly pet of fun from Willy! Willy, the only name that has stuck for this device is Magical Pony. I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry. (Dr. Who voice) If you dub it something cooler, I will call it that, promise!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What I did this FEBRUARY weekend

(note how it is FEBRUARY)

* Dug a big garden bed
* Got strawberry plants from a neighbor
* Planted strawberry plants, and various bulbs
* Put up a third hummingbird feeder to keep up with demand (!!!)
* Drove with the windows down
* to the garden center
* and bought more plants
* to plant tomorrow!
* still February!

People, the ground never froze here. And it's been a bright, sunny weekend and everyone's out doing yard care and taking walks and being cheery. I can totally live with this!!