Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Much-Maligned Bradford Pear

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
They are gorgeous. For the week they are in bloom. Then they just turn into a dumb ole non-specific tree. Contractors like to plant them in new neighborhoods because they grow fast and are showy when they bloom. And they bloom in early spring, when lot of folks are out shopping for houses.

But the trees are not very strong. After they are full grown they can be easily blown over in a bad storm, particularly ice storms. And then you've lost a mature tree and you have to get it taken out and start all over.

But they sure are pretty right now.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chasing Sunsets

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
You really have to chase to get good sunset shots here in Indian Land. Ones that don't have power lines in them. I took this on at the high school. It was a bit late by the time I found the spot to shoot from.

Yesterday I ate chicken pot pie for supper. eh. I made it for the guys and then went to a library board meeting. By time I got back it was late and I was hungry enough to just grab. I think as chicken pot pies go it was probably pretty good. But I didn't enjoy burping up chicken after that. Maybe I am becoming a dyed-in-the-wool vegetarian. At any rate, I'm sure it will be while before I try poultry again. And just the smell of beef kind of puts me off. Too heavy.

Tonight I had a massage after school and then dinner with my jazzerfriend Terri. Long, long conversations. Good for the soul but now I'm tired.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

The March to Geezer-dom

Since January, when I became a vegetarian, I've been taking a multi-vitamin that was recommended by my massage therapist. I do feel great these days and I don't know if it's the vitamins, the veggie diet, the yoga, meditation, or whatever. But I do not want to change anything and risk going back to be a tired old hag. So I bought another bottle of vitamins yesterday at Earth Fare.

"Hey Liz! These senior vitamins are $7 less than the other ones and they are for 50 and older!"

"Hey Liz! Read these two bottles, will ya, and see if there is any real difference. It's way to much info for me to take in."

"Gee Liz, you'd think they'd make the print bigger on the senior bottle."

After studying the bottles, she announced that the senior vitamins seem to have more Vit D and the herbal ingredients are a little different but seem to be after about the same results. So why not?

No. I did not get an AARP discount. I didn't ask and it wouldn't have done any good anyway, since my AARP SPOUSE MEMBER CARD WAS STOLEN WITH MY WALLET! argh.

We finished the afternoon baking two batches of vegan cupcakes...carrot and chocolate. Both extremely delicious. We did have one minor snafu with the carrot cake ones. We had overfilled the muffin cups, so they adhered to the tops of the cups in the pan and had to be cut out. This made some of the tops pretty loose. We'd been dipping the chocolate ones in the glaze and, without thinking, scooped up a carrot one and tried to dip it. The entire lid came off in the bowl of frosting and we had to fish it out!

But all was not lost. We just got it out and mounded it on top with the frosting. I think it actually looked like on of the best ones.
This recipe was on a website Liz found. It's essentially all vegan cupcakes, all the time. It think it's this one.


Monday, March 15, 2010

It's a Vision Thing NOT!

"Thing is," I told Mensa Boy, "I can see just fine."

"'parently not," he said. And then went on to point out that I can just get the eyes enhanced fairly inexpensively with the Ophthalmologist that did the Lasik and then just move on.

"Thing is, I can see just fine." I repeated.

And that's what the optometrist said too. "I don't know...your eyes are 20/20," he said. Could be a problem with the machine, a problem with the operator. No ideas.

Back to the DMV. My 6-minute wait of last Friday was just a pipe dream today. I waited almost an hour before it was my turn.

But now I have a license again. I can be identified. I. Am BONAFIDE!


Friday, March 12, 2010

It's a Vision Thing

"I've got real problems, don't I?" I said to the lady at the DMV this morning.

"I'm afraid so," she said.

She sounded cautious, as most people are who deal with the public when they have to give bad news. I recognize the sound because I sound that way sometimes in my line of work.

My wallet was stolen on Monday. I haven't really wanted to say much about it because it was stolen at school. From my office, from my purse, that was in my tote bag, that lives on the floor next to my desk wedged between the wall and side of the desk. Was it stupid for me to leave it there? Well yes. But I still haven't wanted to say much because I still want to protect the image of our school as safe place. But of course any public place...any high school...any school at all for that going to have this kind of thing happen.

I noticed it missing Monday around lunchtime but didn't report it until Tuesday because I wanted to make sure it wasn't home or in the car or wherever. But I finally reported it, the School Resource Officer made a report, MB and I cancelled my two check cards and one credit card Monday night. No harm done. Except for the missing $40, his movie gift certificate the youth at church had given him, my Olive Garden certificate from my boss...nothing else had any value. Well, the wallet itself had some value to me. It was a $32 Vera Bradley wallet.

I know my friends can't believe I'd ever have something as fem-my as a VB wallet, but it was black & brown. As un-fem-my as I could get. But it had GREAT FEATURES! It was just the right size, had just the right crevices. Everything.

Oh. So the DMV.

I had to get a new driver's license. I couldn't renew mine online because I had a CDL...commercial driver's license. So I went to the DMV and told them I wanted to surrender the CDL and just get the basic license again. My physical certificate had expired a couple of years ago and I never intend to drive those kinds of vehicles again, so why not? This was the first gingerly-spoken bit by the lady:

"Well ma'am, that means you'll have to pay $25 because we'll have to surrender this and start with a new license."
"And take an eye test."

And now we are at the beginning of this story. Yup. Couldn't pass it. It's the left eye. Did I not notice this coming on? No, not really. Sure, my eyes have seemed a tiny bit blurry in the past little bit. But they always do this time of year when stuff starts blooming. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis. Get some Patanol eye drops from the doc, I'm all fixed up.


Well, I have an appointment for Monday at noon at the guys' optometrist. (Mine is not available until March 25.) It seemed like I shouldn't wait that long. And he'll probably have to give me a contact or something for the time being. Then I'll go to the guy who did my Lasik in 2004 or whenever and see about having and enhancement done. Sheesh!

I also bought a new Vera Bradley wallet while I was out putting Charlotte drivers in mortal danger. I found the same design, but the fabric is nowhere near what I'd like. All bright, shiny colors with flowers and crap. A bit too fem-my.

So that's how I've spent my furlough day. A day in which I did not work at my job, did not get paid for the time off, and moreover shelled out and will shell out more money.


Morning Stretch

I began the day with Kundalini, my favorite energizing yoga style. On a good week (by that I mean a week where I get up early enough), I'll do kundalini 4-5 times. I have a recorded set I follow in the early hours, mainly because my brain is not turned on enough to read directions. We're talking 4:30 a.m. folks.

But today is FURLOUGH DAY! So I got up at 7 and started in on a practice that I picked out from my book. After a series of spinal warm-ups, I decided to follow a kriya that is supposed to "awaken the ten bodies." I don't have time, so I won't go into what all that means.

But the first pose, which I've done a few times in the past, just about sent me back to bed to hide under the covers. It's this one depicted above (I stole the photo from the Anmolmehta website. Thank you Anmolemehta!). The Stretch Pose. Looks simple doesn't it? WELL! IT'S NOT! And this fella doesn't seem to be doing Breath of Fire either, which my book instructed me to do. You're supposed to hold it 2 to 3 minutes while doing Breath of Fire. I'll explain that in another post sometime too. I ended up doing just one leg at a time and then held both legs up for about 10 seconds. I think I should maybe try to do this every day for a while so I can see if I can build up some strength.

So that's what I did. And a few other poses. And then I reset the security on our wireless router, cleaned up my desk, and now I'm going to get my new driver's license (which, of course, was in the wallet that was stolen on Monday...sheesh!), meet buddy Nannette for lunch, and shop for a new wallet (to replace the one I loved. I think I'm just going to go back to the same place and see if I can get another just like it).

And that's my day. Yours?


Sunday, March 07, 2010

One Day, Two Creepy Movies

I don't actually watch these kinds of movies very often, so it's even more odd that I managed to watch two in one day. Joshua is about this little boy who is older than his 9 years, and whose parents have a new baby, Lily. Joshua is a gifted pianist and is very close to his maternal uncle.

Remember that Twilight Zone episode with the little boy Anthony, who could control an entire town with his thoughts? "It's a Good Life" was the name of the episode. This movie reminds me of that.

People around Joshua are going insane and animals...well...animals are experiencing something a little more permanent.

Good movie.

Then I watched "Knowing." This one has Nick Cage in it and it's pretty good. I'm glad I didn't pay to watch it in a theatre, though. It reminded me of "Sixth Sense" a bit. Little boy Caleb hears whispers and it turns out that a little girl at his same elementary school heard those whispers too 50 years ago. But these are whispers of truth and that little girl is hearing of events that will happen over the course of the the next 50 years. Caleb's dad is a professor at MIT and figures out what is happening. And of course is going to try to stop some of those things from happening.

It's a pretty good movie. A bit predictable, though.


Spring is Springing!

It's about noon on Sunday and I'm sitting on my patio grilling turkey burgers for my guys. Even though we've lived here over 7 years, I still can scarce believe it when I can do such a thing in March. It's a gloriously sunny day and should hit the low 60s. I'd like to go on a jaunt this afternoon. We'll see. We've had a very long run of nasty weather lately. Just five days ago we had snow piling up.

We are going to start the garden planning in earnest in the next couple of days. Our plan is to crew up with YogiLiz and garden on her property. Because...she HAS property! We don't really have a good situation for gardening here. Liz likes to garden but it's too much for just one person. MensaBoy offered his services as slave so why not? He'll prep the soil for us, with the able assistance of Riley and Taylor, and we hope to plant a big enough garden to sustain both families and put up some things, like tomatoes, for winter.

However, MB has a caveat. He wants us to plan moringa plants. And he's ordered the seeds already. Apparently this plant is a miracle. You can read about it here. Could be interesting. At the very least it looks like a pretty plant! I guess it's actually a tree but you can prune it to more plant-like. Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are actually called "Only-Kids-Need-Apply Muffins" in my muffin cookbook, "Gloria's Glorious Muffins."

But frankly, I wouldn't waste these on kids. I used my $5-a-bag grain-sweetened chocolate chips in them. And my all-natural peanut butter. I doubt those galutes would appreciate the commitment I made to these!

We had a 2-hour school delay this morning so it seemed like the perfect time to bake.

1 C whole-wheat pastry flour (I used white because that's what I have right now)
1 C whole-wheat flour
1/2 C unbleached white flour
1/4 C toasted wheat germ
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Sift together those together in a big bowl. Toss in
1 1/4 C carob chips (my grain-sweetened choc chips. and I only had one cup)

Set aside.

1 C hot water
1/2 C chunky peanut butter (I used smooth)
1 C soy or cow's milk (I used vanilla soy)
1/4 C canola oil
1/4 C honey, warmed slightly

Blend those together in a smaller bowl. I used my immersion blender.

Pour wet into dry, mix just until longer than that!
Spoon into muffin cups or tins. You're supposed to get 12, but I got 14.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Cool in baking tins for another 10 minutes.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tostadas with Homemade Refritos

It was a decadent meal last night. That's what it all boiled down to. It just was further proof that a vegetarian diet holds many delights that you never thought of before.

It began Saturday afternoon when I soaked the pintos. I intended to make the refried beans and do tostadas Sunday but got sidetracked and made this DELICIOUS Hungarian Mushroom Soup instead. I wanted to get those mushes out of the fridge and into the pot.

Back to the refritos: Yesterday I came home from work to change before going for a massage. I put the beans on to simmer while I was gone. (leaving Taylor with instructions to turn them off then the timer went off)When I got home the beans were cooked to a fairly good tender stage. If I'd been here I would have given them a little time, but I felt they were done enough to avoid any gastronomic upset. I sauteed onion, garlic, a little red bell pepper, cumin and salt in a big frying pan and then dropped in the beans. I then mashed the whole shooting match with my potato masher.

And here's the really decadent part: I fried fresh corn tortillas. I remember when we were kids Mom used to do that. At that time pre-fried or baked and shaped taco shells weren't on the market yet. Oh man! Nothing does it like freshly-fried tortillas.

And so I fried, and the three of us built, and we had a fantastic meal.

The refrito recipes is from the New Moosewood Cookbook, of course. I really enjoy Mollie Katzen's tips on how to eat a tostada:

"Take a crisp tortilla and place it on your place. add a spoonful of refritos, and spread them imaginatively in place. sprinkle on some grated cheese, followed by an elaborate mound of assorted accessories, the height of which considers the dimensions of your mouth. Ladle on a little sauce, or spoon on some salsa. Now you are ready to make a noble attempt to eat it daintily. Keep your plate under your chin to catch what falls or drips."

Given my guys and their addiction to all things sandwiche, they just used two tortillas and made sandwich tostadas. And then we ate them with forks for the most part.