the gregarious homebody


Sunday, December 1, 2013

5 Things I Learned in Mexico



  1. I stood out more because I was wearing a (shudder) swim dress than I would have if I had been wearing a bikini.
  2. No one cares what anyone else looks like (see #1).
  3. My kids are awesome travelers.
  4. *Steve is replaced by Esteban as soon as he hits Mexican soil.
  5. It doesn't have to be a romantic trip to feel the love.


*This is invaluable and must be tested on other soils.  Does it work in Spain? Stefan in Germany?  Stefano in Italy?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sweet are the Uses of Adversity

When I was young, maybe in middle school, I entered a writing contest sponsored by Penn State.  The prompt was the quote from Shakespeare's As You Like It and we were supposed to talk about what it meant to us.  I have no bloody idea what I wrote specifically, but I do know the quote has stayed with me ever since.  (For the record, I got an honorable mention and got to go to main campus for a very glamorous luncheon and received a handshake from the chair of the English department and a certificate.  It was cool.)

Anyway, while packing for a trip tomorrow, a trip unlike any my little family has ever been able to take (like, a fancy trip), the quote came to me again.  And it couldn't be more appropriate for how I feel about taking this trip at this time of year.  I'm not being dramatic when I say that last year at this time was the start of a  pretty horrific year for us and if someone had told me that our family would be happily taking this trip a mere 8 months later I would not have believed it.  So, in short, this trip is even more precious than it would normally be.  And though I am not ready to say (and will never be) that having Last Year happen was worth it because of how precious this feels, it does put things into a pretty wonderful perspective.  And I am grateful.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolute

Every year I make the same resolutions everyone else does---exercise more, lose weight, save money.  Blah blah blah.  This year I'm trying something new.  New because it used to come easy to me but has become really really hard.  

This year, I will try to be positive.  Positive not only in my professional life (easy) but also in my personal one (hard as of late).  I will decide to not react to some things and to react in a different, more positive way to others.  I will be kinder to myself and not immediately assume fault.  I will look to the many wonderful things in my life when others seem not-so-great. I will try not to think of those that I love as assholes even when they are acting like one. 

I will try.

Friday, August 31, 2012

French Indian Enchiladas for Dinner

I had no idea these were going to turn out so good which is why I took no pictures until after we'd eaten them.  Notice the sawed-off ends "to make them fit."  Just go with it.

This recipe's inception began like so many of mine do--from the purchase of an esoteric ingredient I thought I needed for another recipe and an overwhelming desire to not leave my house.

We went out to dinner last week to the wonderful new-to-us little Indian joint which lives at the back of an Indian grocery store.  This is my favorite kind of place--you can eat the food they make for you and then buy the ingredients to try to recreate what you just ate at home.  

This is my idea of fun.  

So we had our wonderful food and decided to walk around the store afterwards.  I wanted to buy something.  Anything!  Everything looked so interesting!  But I've been trying to curb my impulse buying so I wanted something I needed.  And then I saw it--the chickpea flour that I needed to make the yummy-sounding flat breads Sue made on one of my favorite blogs.  Score!  A justifiable purchase as making one's own flatbreads instead of purchasing them was surely a money-saving idea, right? So home we go with our little bag of flour that costs more than a large bag of regular all-purpose  or wheat that I can make ANYTHING with.  But I was going to make these flat breads.

So I look them up on Sue's blog and....they are made with what Sue calls "plain" flour or, wait for it...................... whole wheat flour. Which I have.  In many forms (high gluten, pastry, cake, and even whole wheat pastry).  Crap.

So it sat on my counter for exactly one week, taunting me.

Until tonight, when I was slated to make chicken enchiladas for dinner because they are a) a guaranteed crowd-pleaser; b) use up the rest of the roasted chicken I made earlier in the week; and c) dead easy to make with other past-their-former-glory refrigerated leftovers and vegies.
See?  They really were slated.  (Pay no attention to the insane arrows or the fact that today is Friday, not Thursday. It was a tough week).

I'd  realized last night that I didn't have tortillas, which, hello! you need to make said enchiladas. Which there was no way in hell I was going to want to go buy after work today because I would immediately go home and my bra would be off once I had one foot in the door.

It was that kind of week.  

So I'm needing these tortillas (because I was going to make enchiladas, damn it) and wondering what I was going to do (I briefly considered a *shiver* no-carb version with lettuce leaves but then realized I also had no lettuce).  

Which is when I saw the chickpea flour flirting with me.  So I made crepes.  

And tortillas can now kiss the chickpeas' butts because wow were they good.
----------------------------------------------------------
Chickpea Crepe Enchiladas (which makes no sense, I know) 
  • Chickpea flour crepes  *recipe, prepared and cooled 
 Filling:
  • 1/2 a leftover roasted chicken, diced 
  • one small onion that you slowly sauteed in 1tablespoon of oil (I did mine in **coconut oil which added a subtle and wonderful coconut flavor) until brown and delicious) sprinkled with some salt
  • 1/2 cup (or more to your liking) peach mango salsa (I used Wegmans brand which is way too sweet for anything else and was another impulse purchase)
  • A couple tablespoons of lime juice because the salsa was too damn sweet 
  • 4 oz. of feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the filling ingredients and taste often to make sure it's just right (and seasoned with enough salt and pepper).

Coat a long casserole with oil or nonstick spray (again, I used coconut oil.  It is so good).  Lay out your crepes and get rolling.  Place in pan, sprinkle with a teensy bit of cheddar cheese (or a lot--your call) and cover with foil.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes until heated through.

Enjoy!!

*I doubled the crepe recipe and made 7 (annoying number!) crepes with the above filling amount and had 6 crepes left over which I wrapped and froze.  Recipes for crepes never make the amount they say they will, in my experience.  It could be my ineptness but for once I don't think so.  If you've never made crepes before, don't fret when the first one (or the second) turn out terribly.  Eat it and move on.  Once I get a rhythm I find crepe-making oddly soothing.

**This shit is expensive but worth it. I recently found out that Trader Joe's has it much cheaper than Wegmans.  I have to travel almost an hour to buy it but that makes perfect sense, doesn't it, because I save $4 if I go to Trader Joe's.  Right???  DON'T get anything but the virgin or extra virgin or it will have no discernible coconut flavor.  Don't fear the flavor--it is subtle but delicious.
 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Still Here

Halfway into our 4-mile REALLY HARD hike, this is what we saw

I'm not sure anyone is reading this blog (other than Audrey...hi Aud!!) but I'm coming back to it, slowly but surely.  It's been an incredibly stressful summer, starting back in May, and I made the decision to not share that because, ew...  if I don't want to read my own whining who else would want to?! So, since things are on the upswing (crossing fingers!), I feel ready to be here again.  Even if it's just me and Audrey.

We finally got away for the weekend!  Woo-hoo!  Last year's week-long trip was not to be repeated because we have a goal as a family to go to England next year and want to try very very hard to save for that.  But not getting away at all is not healthy.  So we packed up the van and went to World's End State Park.

It was beautiful. 
Using the excuse that I was photographing beautiful fungi to catch my breath on a deadly hike

I know a lot of people (some of them my very good friends) do not enjoy camping.  Some see it as work.  And it can be (putting up a tent, cooking outside without a lot of conveniences, etc.).  But the homebody in me sees it as another opportunity to set up a very relaxed home.  I feel a weird satisfaction in spreading out my vinyl-covered tablecloth on the picnic table, setting up the cooler and 32-year-old Coleman stove.  I like making it cozy.  And food tastes better outside.  
There was also a lot of this

But what I like most is that the kids talk.  Those of you with small children might see this as a deterrent because small children never shut up.  But a lot of teenagers (especially insular ones like ours) just don't make conversation once they reach 12 3/4 years old.  Unless they're camping, where the only technology is an iPod (if you remember to charge it).  

Suddenly, your 16 year old is talking about things he's interested in like light years and string theory.  Speaking in full sentences!!  And though I didn't understand half of what he said (I am severely right-brained), I could have listened for another week to him talking.
Do not be fooled by this studiousness.  This is someone who waited until the week before school to read and write about two novels.

And it was positively glorious to see the other teenager act silly and joke (with us! not just with her friend!).  I can't express how wonderful it was just to see her so uncomplicatedly happy.

Going into the water in all your clothes and shoes. Even if it's 60 degrees.  Why not?

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