I hope you have the opportunity today to soak up a bit of sunshine, or listen to the birds, or catch a hint of color from a flower, whether it's a glorious red rose, a simple little daisy, or even a dandelion! I'm enjoying all of the above; it's a beautiful day.
I do have the obligatory chores that I must tackle today as well - a few loads of laundry, cleaning a bathroom, maybe running the vacuum. I have a couple of candles lit, some soothing music playing (Diane Arkenstone - thanks Pooh for introducing me to her!). I've spent a couple of hours in the kitchen already, which, honestly, I didn't feel like doing when I started. But it didn't take long to realize how much I've missed it the last few weeks.
I did some experimenting this week too, mostly out of necessity, but with some great results. Since starting a vegetarian diet in late January, I've made an effort to cook as many meals as I can in two batches - with meat and without - so that my husband isn't forced into going meatless if he doesn't want to. I had the makings for some really quick enchiladas for him - frozen rolled tacos topped with a can of enchilada sauce, grated cheese, and sliced olives. Easy! But I didn't have any meatless rolled tacos that I could eat. I did have corn tortillas, though, and knew I could come up with something to fill them. I had several pouches of Uncle Ben's and Seeds of Change brands ready-to-serve rice dishes in the pantry. One of them was a Santa Fe version and included black beans, corn, brown rice, red and white wheat, tomatoes, peppers, and spices. I warmed my corn tortillas in just a few drops of oil in a small skillet, put a couple spoonfuls of rice down the center of each one, and rolled them up. I used a 9" x 13" pan and filled it with half of the frozen rolled tacos, half of my rice filled rolled tacos, topped it all with enchilada sauce and sliced black olives. I used regular grated colby jack cheese on my husband's half, and vegan cheddar flavored grated cheese on my half. I was expecting them to be a little bland and not thoroughly enjoyable, but I was wrong. They were great!
Frozen meatballs are another one of my favorite time savers. I've found turkey meatballs and Veggie Patch brand meatless meatballs. Naturally, they're great in spaghetti, and the leftovers make great meatball sandwiches. Today I got out a recipe for Albondigas, a Mexican meatball soup. It calls for chicken broth, but I use vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, chopped celery and onion, and a sliced zucchini and chopped cilantro. I didn't have the zucchini or cilantro, but I did have carrots and kale. I also added a little bit of orzo. Because the kale cooks pretty quickly, I added it last. When it had wilted just a little bit, I removed half of the soup to another pan, and added turkey meatballs to one, and meatless meatballs to the other. Instead of albondigas, I made more of an Italian wedding soup. It satisfied my craving and is delish!
I'd had a whole bunch of kale in the fridge, but only used half of it in the soup. I usually chop it (after removing the stems) and cook it with a little garlic and onion. I soften the garlic and onion in just a smidgen of oil in a large skillet. I add the kale all at once, and sprinkle it with a few drops of aminos and a drizzle of vinegar, usually apple cider vinegar. Today I only had red onion, so into the pan it went. I softened it with the garlic and added the kale. I sprinkled it with a few drops of aminos, just a splash of ume vinegar and a smattering of rice vinegar. I gave it a little taste and immediately thought of the couple of pineapple spears sitting in my fridge. I chopped them up and added them to the pan. Yummy! A perfect blend of just a little salty and just a little sweet.
I've also cooked a pan of brown rice which I'll just put in a container and stick in the fridge. I can put it in a bowl with some kale and that can be either breakfast or lunch for me. Midway through the week, we'll want a quick and easy dinner. I'll get out the rice, the wok, chop up whatever veggies I have in the fridge that need to be used - broccoli, leeks, celery, green onions, carrots, bok choy - whatever I have. I'll grab the aminos or soy sauce and whatever vinegar happens to sound good at the moment, and we'll enjoy a wonderful fried rice. (I knew I should have grabbed that box of fortune cookies at the store the other day!)
I'm done in the kitchen for the day now. I'm sipping my second or third cup of tea as well as my water bottle with a couple of cucumber slices in it. I'm going to put in my last load of laundry, do a few minutes of yoga, and then have a bowl of soup. I think I might even brew a couple bags of chamomile tea, put it in a big bowl and enjoy a facial steam, perhaps followed by a nap.
Poor, poor me. I actually worked five full days in a row this week! Between the holidays, the time we've been required to furlough, and having every other Friday off as my normal work schedule, I haven't worked a full five day work week in months. But I managed; I am a professional, after all.
Granddaughter k was sick this week, running a fever off and on during the day, but spiking during the night. I talked to her on the phone one afternoon - oh, it was so dramatic! - and offered to pick up her meds and drop them off after work. What kind of a grandma shows up with only yucky medicine? Not Grandma J. I love those dollar bins (and now some 2 for $5 bins) up front at Target. k got some monkey slippers and a blanket; a soft, furry, stuffed monkey just waiting to cuddle; a box of cheese crackers; a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book and a box of crayons. Seemed like the perfect prescription to me. She's all better now.
I returned to work at 9:00 Thursday night to attend the final briefing and retirement celebration for our senior Sergeant. Sam 1, as he's been known around the Department for what seems like an eternity, retired after 36 years, 5 months, and 2 weeks on the job. An unimaginable accomplishment! And I have to say, it was something to see him get emotional and tear up. He has the reputation of an extremely tough guy and hard boss, but when you get right down to it, he's a softie and has feelings too. It's obvious how much his career meant to him.
Today marks one month that I've been vegetarian. I feel good, and it even feels good to say it. :) My next goal is to meditate every (or almost every) morning. I've tried this before and always managed it for a short while, but never for the long haul. This week I made my first attempts to start again. It means giving up reading e-mail in the morning, which actually is the perfect trade. Instead of sitting in front of the computer pouring all those new thoughts into my head, many of them useless, how much nicer is it to sit, instead, and work on emptying out all the unnecessary clutter?
With the goal of daily meditation in mind, I found a pattern for a prayer shawl that I liked and decided to crochet one for myself. There's not much to the pattern, really; it should be relatively easy to make - almost meditative itself really. But the yarn that I had and wanted to use is a little tricky to work with. It might also be a test of my patience.
While on-line a couple nights ago, I ran across the book, "Tranquilista, Mastering the Art of Enlightened Work and Mindful Play" by Kimberly Wilson. The title hooked me right away, and I was on a quest to find out how I could become a Tranquilista. Kimberly's previous book "Hip Tranquil Chick," sounds like fun, too. There's even a quiz you can take to find out if you are a Hip Tranquil Chick! Her blog is also a delight - Tranquility du Jour. Now I need to update my profile - I can add that I'm a vegetarian AND a Hip Tranquil Chick!
I bought some millet this week and tried a new recipe with it. I have tomatoes in my garden out back, and the cherry tomatoes are ripe already. It was so, so satisfying to walk out to my backyard this morning with a colander and pick a couple handfuls of tomatoes. It rained a little bit yesterday so everything seemed just a little bit fresher. The tomatoes way down on the bottom had little specks of sand all over them from where the rain hit the dirt and splashed back up on them. I'll make this recipe again; it's good!
While I was cooking this morning, I opened up my kitchen window so I could hear the birds singing. They are delighted that the sun is shining after the rain yesterday. Every once in a while the breeze picked up the scent of alyssum that's come up everywhere out back. It's one of my very favorite smells. Which reminds me that the freesia out front are blooming too - another of my favorite smells.
It hit me last weekend. I was at the grocery store in the check out line. I had all sorts of veggies, brown rice, lentils, soy milk, soy ice cream. The clerk was looking at my groceries and commented on how healthy I eat. And then she said, "That must be why you look the way you do. Are you a vegetarian?" And I realized, "Yes! I am." She asked, "For how long? A year?" "Not quite a year," I said.
This week is my fourth week experimenting with The Kind Diet. On the 28th of February, I will have been a vegetarian for one month. (So my "not quite a year" was a bit of a stretch. wink, wink.) And I have been eating almost vegan for most of the past few weeks. It's not been nearly as difficult, or as much of a sacrifice, as I thought it would be. I didn't eat that much meat to begin with. But I love cheese, and eggs, and ice cream and yogurt. I've found, however, vegan replacements for almost all of those things and they are, for the most part, surprisingly good! I can't say that I've really missed anything. Except sugar, which is a whole different story. But I'm getting used to that too. I have not yet even tried to give up coffee. Maybe some day, but not today for sure.
My husband, the Great White Hunter, gets it now. He's not giving up meat, and that's okay too. A few nights ago, he grilled venison burgers for him, and a couple of veggie burgers for me. After we ate, he asked me if it was okay to put them all in the same container in the refrigerator. What a guy! Although just a few nights before that, his hunting buddy came over so they could fill out their forms to mail in to get permits to hunt deer later this year. They were looking over everything else they could hunt for, and I heard him say, "Janet used to always want to shoot her own turkey. Hey, Janet! We're going to put you in to hunt turkey. Okay?" Um, hello!?!? I'm not eating meat. Why on earth would I want to kill something?! Sigh . . .
My inbox, once again, has grown to monumental capacity. It's become almost overwhelming. I've developed something of a plan to prevent this from happening, but if you don't get to your inbox everyday, even a great plan won't work. So yesterday I began weeding out the uninteresting and apparent unimportant e-mails. And this morning my finger even hovered over the "delete all" button. But there were a few that the little voice inside my head urged me to keep and read. That little voice is brilliant sometimes.
One e-mail I kept to read was a very recent edition of Christine Kane's "Live Creative" e-zine. The featured article, How to Create a Powerful Morning Ritual, included some great suggestions. (Part of my fondness for Christine's e-zine is that her featured article is always done as a list. Yay for lists!) One in particular lit a little light bulb up in the space where my little voice resides. "Be Prepared: Create a Not-to-Do List." Christine's suggestion here is specifically aimed at your morning ritual, but I loved the idea of a Not-to-Do List on a grander scale. So, for example, my list for today . . .
Not To Do:
Let the rainy afternoon go by without spending a while on the glider on the patio.
Give in and eat meat because I feel guilty that the hubby cooked it.
(I haven't eaten meat for over a week and want to continue that way. I've bought
and prepared foods for both of us - with meat for him and without for me.)
Leave the laundry for one more day. It will bug me more tomorrow.
Lion Brand Jiffy Thick & Quick yarn. I only learned how to crochet in December. My daughter-in-law taught me while they were here visiting. To begin, I bought a couple cheap balls of yarn just to practice my stitches. But soon I wanted to actually make something. I found this yarn at the local Joann store, and bought it in the Adirondacks color (not the one in the picture below). I made a scarf - it was so fast because the yarn is so thick! I loved it so much (the color looked great in my living room!), I went back and bought all the yarn they had at the store. Then, while out of town in the "big city," I bought all they had at a Joann store there, and I made a small throw for watching tv or reading on the couch.
For Christmas, one of the gifts I gave my husband was a water bottle I found at Gaiam.com. (It has trout on it. A manly water bottle!) I have a couple, too, but it's difficult to clean them. Today I found a brush especially for cleaning aluminum water bottles at Target. It's made by Sigg and works great. Speaking of water bottles, Papaya has the most beautiful water bottles, tote bags, cards and envelopes ever! I have a couple of their legal pads in my shopping cart right now. I may have to go to work everyday, but there's no reason I can't use beautiful things while I'm there. And one of these gorgeous bottles may wind up in my shopping cart too.
I am a bit obsessive about order and organization. I can't believe I didn't have one already, but I just purchased a Dymo label maker. I recently reorganized my pantry. I love cooking and baking, but sometimes my urge to bake was quashed by the fact that I had to make multiple trips back and forth to the pantry to get everything I needed - the mixer, the flour and sugar and ingredients, the mixing bowls, etc. So I purchased a nice kitchen cart that I can roll in and out of the pantry to use in the kitchen. My mixer sits on top, along with a cookbook stand, my timer, etc. There is a drawer that holds my measuring spoons and cups, a few spatulas, a rolling pin, a silicone mat, a few spices that I use almost exclusively for baking, and a few other things. There is a shelf where my mixing bowls and big canisters for flour and sugar go, and storage space down below behind two doors where I keep a few baking pans, special flours, baking powder, baking soda, etc. I have Tupperware containers in a couple different sizes that stack very nicely, and all the various flours and other dry necessities are stored there. So everything needed to be labeled.
And just for fun - these brown canisters are also Tupperware. I got them when my son was a baby and he'll be 29 in March! Originally there was one more - a larger one - that cracked. But Tupperware replaced it at no cost to me, just from a different set because this set was no longer being made.
I am also loving this book. There is so much information - a lot of it new to me - and it's presented in an upbeat and entertaining way. I've already tried a couple of the recipes, and so far I can highly recommend the Cheesy, Oozy Guacamole Bean Dip. It was delish hot from the oven, but was even really good cold the next day. I may do another post on this book later.
I am a seeker of beauty. And peace. And compasssion. I often feel the need to escape the craziness of this world. This is my soothing space.
I am a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend.
I am a reader, a gardener, a cook, a vegetarian, a writer, a poet, a crafter, a scrapbooker, a traveler, a neat freak, a hip tranquil chick, a romantic.
I am discovering new things about myself and this experience of life all the time, and I never tire of it.
In this blog, Are We There Yet, the terms "bastard" and "bitch" are (almost always) used as terms of endearment. Sometimes in a fit of jealousy.
This is your life. There are no do-overs. Just remember that.
Updates, Follow-Up, Very Short Posts, and Other Blah, Blah, Blah
however, if my husband ever leaves me, I'm going to marry Little Debbie and move into a Pottery Barn catalog. ------------------------------------------------ since my daughter saw the treats I have for the kitties on my desk, she's worried that some day if I'm ever alone, I'll be one of those "crazy old cat ladies." :) ------------------------------------------------- cotton candy clouds
a mix of pink and blue
"I have no special talents. I am passionately curious." -- Albert Einstein
Experiments in watercolor
"What if you slept, and what if, in your sleep you dreamed? And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? What then?" -- Deepak Chopra