Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Terror of Creativity...

I'm psyching myself out...

A day ago I was proclaiming my ingenious idea to complete the first draft of my novel during the month of November... You know... "Novel November"... It has kind of a ring to it... (plus there ARE crazies who do complete an entire novel during National Novel Writing Month)

But I'm tentative. I'm fearful. Can I actually write a full length novel? I have the outline. I know all the characters. I even have 2 chapters written... But write an entire novel? ME?

I've recently been inspired by a bunch of crazy go-getters who have been blogging about achieving their dreams (check out SpireSpire). One has the goal of writing and publishing a bestseller within a year's time-frame. It seriously got me thinking - why don't I go after my goals with the same amount of gusto?

I know this - I don't want to be on my deathbed and not have attempted to write a full-length book.

I don't want to think "What if....?"

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Met Eliza Doolittle and I Want a Goat For Christmas...


Yesterday I went through the express checkout lane at Target. I had 2 cans of tomato basil soup (a staple), 1 can of condensed cream of celery soup (for boca pot pie - my husband drools over it... only change is that I make my own crust), cinnamon raisin granola, and rice milk. I resisted the urge to buy couscous and a box of white tea... Beggers must be choosers.

So I'm in the checkout lane and the checkout lady is very short... (which is really irrelevant to my story, except for the fact that it makes me imagine that her uncle was a dwarf and that makes me squeal).

And the little checkout lady says "'Ello, madame" in what was unmistakably a subtle cockney accent (which, apparently, can be taught - this guy is awesome).

I enjoyed my little moment while she bagged my food, took my cash, and gave me my change. And then she said "'Ave a nice day, madame!" And I took my groceries and left, thinking "WHO ARE YOU?!?!? WHERE ARE YOU FROM?!?!!?". So. Cool.

In keeping with my appreciation of different cultures (really... was she from England, or just making up an accent to make her Target-day job more exciting? She's my hero), I am enamored with goat-giving this Christmas...

A goat for Christmas? Yes.

Samaritan's Purse has an online Christmas gift catalog where you can shop for gifts. You can buy a fishing boat, fruit trees, water filter, mosquito net, honey bees, goats, and much more!

And you're probably thinking "Huh... I'm not sure I really want a mosquito net for Christmas..." Yeah, me neither. But for someone in a third-world country that mosquito net can be life-saving (mosquito bites spread malaria which kills over a million people each year). So this year, when you're doing your Christmas shopping, PLEASE consider the following:

  • Does your Aunt Mildred REALLY need that $35 cashmere scarf? (Hint: NO)
  • Does $35 feed a family in a third-world country for a month? (Hint: YES)

I really don't want want a goat in my nice little suburban house (or my nice little suburban back-yard). But I do want one that can provide milk for a starving family in Uganda.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Let Your Crackers Go Naked!

Dip Recipes, Both Tried and  New...

I'm glad my readers put up with my eclectic taste in blog posts! (Is this a recipe blog? A writing blog? A journal blog?)

Because I was asked, here are two recipes that make my mouth water. One that I've made many times and and one that is brand new.

The Spinach / Artichoke Dip That Everyone Loves 
(Adapted from Hot Recipes in Cool Dishes)

Preheat Oven to 400

Mix together the following (I always use my KitchenAide, but a bowl with a hand mixer works just fine, too. And this photo is from the cookbook - lame, I know.)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (approx. 1 cup) Note: If you're out of artichoke you can make this dip with just spinach - just add extra spinach to the recipe.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I sometimes do pre-grated Parmesan, but grating fresh block cheese tastes best. I also sometimes throw in a handful of shredded mozzarella to make the dip gooier)
  • 1 cup sour cream, regular or reduced fat
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped spinach (the original recipe calls for fresh, but I usually use frozen and it works great! Keep a bag of frozen chopped spinach on hand and then just throw in 1 1/2 cups frozen.)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic  (feel free to add extra garlic if you love garlic... My husband always asks for more...)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until dip is bubbling and top is lightly brown.
(Note: This dip tastes just as good IF NOT BETTER reheated the next day!!!)

Newly Invented Hummus Dip
(Invented as of today... You'll need a blender for this one.)
Add the following to a blender or food processor:
  • 1 can garbonzo beans / chickpeas (Note #1:  Keep the broth from the can, you'll need it later. Note #2: It took me FOREVER to realize that garbonzo beans and chickpeas were the same thing... Brilliant,  huh?)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini / sesame seed paste (Okay, confession:  I didn't have that. So I ground up 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds.... Worked just fine!)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (depending on how much you love garlic)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pinch paprika (what's a pinch? Hmm... I just dashed some in...)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Blend together. Add extra broth from the canned chickpeas to thin out the mixture if it gets too thick. This tastes AWESOME with veggies like baby carrots or broccoli. (If you hate veggies and are looking for something healthier than veggie dip then you gotta try this!).

 What's the best outfit your crackers ever wore? Let me know! :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cheapskate & Beans

One of the tragedies of my adult life: Money does not grow on trees.

(Side-bar and TRUE story: I was an evil big sister. When I was about 8 I convinced my 4 year old brother that his Halloween candy corn would grow into a candy corn tree if he planted it. So he did. And I dug it up later...)


Anyways. So right now Mint (handy little budgeting website! check it) hates me and continuously sends me texts to inform me of what I already know - I have no money. It's nothing new and I'm combatting it as best I can (need a content writer or English tutor? I'm your gal!), but nevertheless it is disheartening. I'm becoming a bit of a cheapskate (except for my fantasies about puppies) and doing whatever it takes to stay debt-free. Thankfully, my husband views it all as a game  ("Level One of the Frugality Force 2010!!!"). Thankfully, my husband also doesn't feel the need for cable TV, enjoys walking instead of driving, and likes the taste of beans.

Poor beans, they get a bad rap. But they are my new best friend! Here's why:
  • They are one of the cheapest food sources.
  • They are one of the healthiest food sources - high in fiber, protein, antioxidants, and vitamins; low in fat and sugar. Go ahead, compare beans and red meat. Amazing!
  • Beans need not make you smell. Use the following method when cooking beans:  
    • Cover in a pot with cool water
    • Bring to a boil for 3 minutes
    • Remove from heat and let soak for 6-8 hours
This method reduces the amount of gas in beans. I tried it! It worked!

So, PLEASE let me know if you have any fabulous bean recipes. Or if you have one that's horrendous (that way I know not to try it!). We just finished a pot of Trader Joe's 17 Bean & Barley Soup. It was deeeeelish!

Comment below to let me know your money and/or bean advice! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Raw, Puppy, Future Tech

(Please note the commas in the title, otherwise it sounds incredibly weird...)

This blog is a bit eclectic and has three main points.

The hubs and I are slowly shifting our food intake towards more of a raw food diet. We are trying to eat at least one meal a day that is made up of ONLY raw fruits, veggies, nuts, and grains. No animal products and no cooked food. (Why uncooked? Cooking food destroys many of the natural healthy enzymes and vitamins). Call us crazies, but we both agree - our bodies FEEL SO GOOD after downing a huge spinach-avocado salad with baby carrots and hummus on the side. We both are die-hard dairy fans and looove warm cooked food.... But the difference we feel is amazing. Has anyone else out there done a raw-food diet?

I have puppy-fever. A week doesn't go by that I don't loudly vocalize my pooch-love. My husband and I went to Petland today and fell in love. We would totally get a dog tonight, but we are a little strapped for cash. AND we have many specific desires for our dog. It must be small (5-10 lbs); sweet tempered and good with humans, other animals, and kids; non-shedding and hypoallergenic. Any suggestions?!?!?

I'm writing a story. My question for all of you is: What do you think technology will look like in the next 10, 20, 50 years??? Help me imagine! :)

Yikes...... Kiiiiind of creepy....