Always, Always, Always back up.

I am a user of the Pomodoro method. I think I do will another post about my Pomodoro routine. Planning how long things will take has always been difficult for me. I have trouble getting and staying focused and often underestimate the time a task will take (especially if I do not include the time it will take to get focused.) So, when my laptop would not charge earlier this year and then again earlier this summer, I was very grateful for my studious backing up of things. That is, until I realized that, in July, when my laptop was replaced, that one file was not backed up at all. So, now I find myself calculating how much time to recreate the file that has gone missing.

If you put something in a spreadsheet and have to properly format it, that can take a long time. Getting the details right is important. Problems in a spreadsheet can have pretty big consequences. Maybe not world-changing consequences as a linguist, but certainly we-have-to-redo-all-this-work consequences. And, nothing is more frustrating than spending an entire day to redo work you have already completed.

So, ladies and gentlemen. Always, always, always back up.

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Whoa.

I guess I am a pretty bad blogger. But, part of that is undoubtedly that I do not and have not have an explicit topic for this blog, so it makes it hard to focus time to something that is so unfocused. I have periodically fancied this a food blog and have posted about recipes I have tried and things that I liked or didn’t like.

I have a confession to make. I do not really like cooking. I like eating, for sure. And, I do not like the emotional roller coaster that I end up on when I do not eat. So, I cook. I will probably continue to talk about recipes that I like and have tried, especially things that worked well as leftovers.

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Election Feels

I think, like most people, I am ready for this election to be over. I am tired of hearing about and seeing the candidates. I am tired of having the same unproductive conversations. I am ready to focus on the next challenge (which will depend entirely on who is elected).

But, of all the things that have come up this election cycle the thing that bothers me the most is people I know and trust posting articles to facebook that contain dubious information. This past week I have clicked on a lot of links only to get to another website, read a few sentences, and then google whatever the subject of the article it is to find no other information on the same topic. It is disappointing.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t posted things to facebook with obvious bias or that I haven’t read. I have. I am guilty of this behavior, too. But, I’ve decided to make a pledge to stop doing this. You can save articles now if you can’t read them now but want to read them later. So, I pledge to only post things that I have read. I also pledge to point out what I like about the article and what could be better about it.

It is time to raise the level of public discourse. The election will be over soon, a new government will be elected, and we are all going to have to learn how to work together.

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Recipes I’ve Tried 5

It had been my plan to make macaroni and cheese. I had this recipe from Cleverly Simple. I was going to make Mac and Cheese and I was finally going to stuff peppers. I started by making rice, which I made in abundance. That was fine; I have a lot of peppers. I also have everything for a kitchen sink type casserole. So, I stuffed peppers and put them in crock pot. I used the leftover rice, leftover green beans, a leek, a pepper, some cheese and a packet of sour cream and onion chips and a made a casserole.

And, then, because they were on sale and I can’t help myself sometimes, I bought pumpkin gnocchi and instead of making macaroni and cheese I made gnocchi and cheese with leeks and broccoli.

And, after last week I want nothing more than to eat salad. Oh man, too much rich food. That being said, though, that mac and cheese recipe is pretty great and I will absolutely be making it again.

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Recipes I’ve tried 4

It was my intention this week to make broccoli cheese soup, deconstructed stuffed pepper salad, dilly beans and pepper jam. But, the week started off poorly. I left one of the bags of groceries at the grocery store and somehow didn’t notice until two days later when I was making the broccoli soup. Two key ingredients (the onion and the evaporated milk) were both missing. But, since I had already started making the soup so I decided to wing it. I added some rice milk to it and an extra cup of broth and then a can of cream of mushroom soup. It turned out pretty good. It had a lot of broccoli in it but that is how I like my broccoli cheese soup.

The deconstructed pepper salad was supposed to go something like this: packaged mushroom and herb quinoa, chopped bell pepper, black beans, cheese, onion and garlic and corn. Somehow it ended up just being packaged mushroom and herb quinoa. Luckily, the peppers kept so I will get the stuffed peppers this next week (the filling is all prepped and ready to go into the crockpot tomorrow.

The dilly beans went exactly as planned. I used the recipe off the fresh preserving website. I added two dried chilies to the vinegar bath while I was heating it up. This made the vinegar and salt quite spicy. I had enough beans to make 5 pint and a half jars of dilly beans. The good news is I was able to give one away the night I gave them. The other good news is that I love dilly beans as a snack.

As I’m writing this, I still haven’t made the pepper jam yet but I have it in the plans for the evening. I’m sure it’ll go the way pepper jams always go. It will make the kitchen smell spicy but it will all be worth it when I’m having pepper jam and cheese sandwiches in the dead of winter.

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Autumn is here

There is a chill in the breeze. It is has been mostly overcast today. I have hot tea and apple cider. I am listening to the last regular season baseball game.

Autumn is officially here.

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What’s going on in there?

One of the things that I have found with my meditation practice is that it helps me when I’m feeling restless. Last week I had a lot of phone trouble. This meant that in the space of four days, I had to reset my phone three times. Making sure everything was backed up, signing out, resetting, and then reloading everything meant that I didn’t have access to a lot of the little apps that keep me on track and from imploding into a little fire ball of nervous energy.

And, of course, every one of these resets happened at the end of the day so that I was waiting for things to finish setting up so I can re-download apps while I was sleeping. The third time this happened, I was so overtired by the time I made it to bed that I tossed and turned for awhile. Then, I was frustrated because I’ve dealt with this in the past by doing a guided meditation (but of course none of those apps had re-downloaded yet to my phone.) That’s when it occurred to me that I could find a guided meditation on YouTube.

Meditation is about focus, awareness and presence (at least, that’s what I think it’s about. I could be wrong. I am so not an expert). So, at the end of your meditation, you should be awake. Obviously, if you get carried off into sleep that is okay. It happens sometimes. But, it shouldn’t be your goal. And, that sort of seems counter-intuitive. Why should I do something that I should be awake when I’m trying to fall asleep? I suppose the answer to that is I should do it because it helps me deal with my overtired, cranky restlessness. So, I googled guided meditations and settled on the link below. I really like body scans. There is something about focusing on your body and checking in with how you feel that is really grounding and calming. It worked. I may have been a little agitated towards the end of the half hour but I made it to the end, awake, aware and mostly calm. Afterwards, I had no trouble falling to sleep.

 

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Recipes I’ve tried 3

I’m back to using the crockpot. And, boy, does that feel right. Or, it felt right on Sunday morning when I made something that was half eggplant lasagna and half crockpot spaghetti. I was not into it the following morning when subbed rice for oats in this banana bread overnight oatmeal (turns out I was out of oats) and didn’t properly adjust liquids and cooking times for the rice and ended up with burnt, crusty, banana rice.

 

You win some, you lose some.

 

I also made so much of the eggplant spaghetti that between that and my regular lettuce wrap sandwiches that I take for lunch some days I didn’t have to cook everything else. The good news is the everything else I had intended to cook kept and I’ll be able to make it next week. The bad news of this is that while I was super into that eggplant casserole on Sunday, by Friday the sight of it made me want to cry. Variety is really the spice of life, people.

 

I’m choosing to focus on the positive, though. This next week I’m going to be getting a bunch of things that I’m going to can which means having a meal already planned and ready to go is a win for me. Most of this week’s share is peppers and green beans so it is produce is headed for storage in the form of pepper jelly, more pepper chutney (not pineapple this time, though. Maybe peach) and dilly beans. I am also getting more beets and some broccoli. I am planning on making a new beet salad (or maybe a roasted vegetable sandwich spread) and some curry that I’m going to toss the broccoli in. Broccoli might not be a traditional curry vegetable but you cook what you have.

 

I am so excited about the dilly beans.

 

P

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Crickets

This morning I got up about an hour and a half before my alarm. I was awake and the cats knew I was awake so there was no point in faking it. So, I went about my business and did my morning stuff.

I am still doing the loving-kindness meditation. So, I focused on my breath, I let thoughts go when they popped into my head. But, one thought kept coming back. Crickets. Crickets. Crickets. I was like Arthur Dent with the word ‘yellow’ floating around his head looking for something to attach to. Crickets. It is autumn now. Crickets. Isn’t it nice to hear one last summer song. Crickets. Crickets. Crickets. Crickets.

Then, I noticed that there was a glitch in the cricket song. Like an abrupt reset in the middle of the chirp. So, I breathed and I breathed out and listened for it. It happened again. This is when I remembered that my new morning alarm on my phone is the sound of crickets. No one last summer songs for me. I get a summer song every morning!

Sometimes, even when you are trying to be present and aware you still contextualize things. I brought a story to those crickets and that story was wrong.

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Recipes I’ve Tried 2

This week, I foolishly tried a whole bunch of recipes that didn’t involve my slow cooker.

 

That was a mistake.

 

But, I did have a revelation because of this and I’m going to carry it forward: I get bored eating the same stuff over and over again so I should never double a recipe. Ever.

 

This week we got more peppers (joy of joys), beets with their greens, leeks and kale. I still had asparagus from the previous week and a small cantaloupe. So, I decided to make pork chops with leek sauce to be served with rice and asparagus (and green beans because sometimes I just can’t help myself when I’m grocery shopping), leek, bacon and swiss quiche, creamy kale and sausage soup, beet and feta salad and fruit salad.

 

The fruit salad was an inspired choice. I ate it with pretty much every meal until it was gone. (The last serving of it I dumped into a smoothie with some extra kale). And, the beet salad was great! I used this recipe from the Scrambled Chefs. I left out the parsley because they didn’t have it at Aldi (and I wasn’t going to make another stop just for parsley) and I substituted lime for lemon in the vinaigrette because I already had limes in the house. I will definitely make this salad again. It was delicious and stupid easy.

 

For the creamy kale and sausage soup, I used this recipe from diethood. I used a turkey kielbasa, which was probably a mistake. It didn’t have as much flavor as I wanted it to have. And, the soy milk didn’t stand up well to the boiling. I should have added it later. But, I’d probably make this again. In the slow cooker. And, not on the stove.

I made this quiche earlier in the summer for my parents and it was delicious. I didn’t want to make my own pie crust (especially when baking a blank shell for even a little while meant having to have my oven turned on longer than I wanted it to be on), so I went crustless. And, they didn’t have Gruyere or swiss at the Aldi (and if I wasn’t stopping for parsley, I certainly wasn’t stopping for swiss) so I used cheddar jack. I had all those beautiful beet greens, so I tossed them in as well with the leeks. That was a good call; the outcome was pretty delicious.

 

Which brings me to the last thing I cooked this week. I didn’t get around to making these until Wednesday, which is less than ideal. Wednesday is a long day (and I really should have been working on an abstract that was due on Friday instead of messing about in the kitchen). But, man, these pork chops were freaking delicious. I didn’t even get to the making rice or steaming asparagus and green beans. I just ate them with the fruit salad and the beet salad. I used honey mustard, pineapple sage, and a subbed in bourbon for brandy and Greek yogurt for sour cream. (I only have fruit brandy in the house for making sangria and that didn’t seem like a good call in the recipe). The substitutions were good and I would definitely make these again.

 

Finally, this week I put up some pineapple chutney. I didn’t have the red peppers the recipe called for, but I have my fair share and then some of hungarian peppers, so it ended up being sweet and spicy. I think I might use it next week as part of my liquid for some carnitas.

 

The weather has been terrible for farmers this summer, so I’m not getting the usual bounty of zucchinis and summer squashes this year. But, I’m enjoying what I’m getting. Although, next week we will be getting more peppers, so I’m going to have to get super creative so I don’t start drowning in them.

 

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