Saturday, September 11, 2010
Just in case you're thinking to yourself "No point trying to win that prize. I can't even draw stick figures, so I'll never be able to make a to-do list with pictures!", just remember - my very first to-do list, posted less than two years ago, was pitiful! (blushing to even show it to you again) I promise, the more you practice, the better you get. Go for it! You know you wanna.
In honor of the lives that were lost on this day, I have a special request for you: Celebrate the life you have! How? Well, I've been asking myself that very same question. Seasonality will be turning three years old in a few days (how is that possible?!), and I wanted to mark the occasion with a special give-away, but what? What kind of prize could possibly epitomize all that Seasonality is about? What could I give away that would be a constant reminder to:
- make the most of every day
- savor the small things
- use common sense
- keep it simple
- enjoy crafting with your own two hands instead of paying someone else to do everything for you
- shed the things that are cluttering up your life
- try growing one tiny thing and enjoy that thing for all it's worth
- discover the real you and find out what makes him or her truly happy
- connect with friends, family and community
- eat real food that is in season, try new things, and learn to cook from scratch
- explore new places, meet interesting people, and celebrate whatever it is that makes them unique
- read great books
Just leave a comment any time between now and 10:00 PM CDST on Tuesday, September 14th (Seasonality's Birthday!) saying that you wish to be entered, and your name will be dropped into the hat. Link to this post on your own blog, then leave another comment with your name and blog address, and your name will be entered twice. Good luck!
P.S. For those of you who are in the habit of leaving your comments on facebook, I will try to collect any of those I come across, but just to be safe (and permanent) it would be best to leave them here on the blog itself.
Friday, September 10, 2010
No rain for 36 hours, so even though I can still hear the roar of the waterfalls from way up here, I'm fairly certain I will be able to make it into town to exercise today. One thing good about being forced to stay home for a couple of days? You sure get a lot done! I've knitted up a storm, almost finished a great (but uber thick) book, and you wouldn't believe how clean (and empty) my fridge is! In fact, my entire house has undergone a bit of a transformation in recent days. The dining room table is set with candles and flowers, rather than piled with
all the projects I dabble in now and then. Three trash sacks and one laundry basket full of "stuff" that sat on my bedroom floor for weeks have finally been dealt with. Best of all, I wake up to a shiny sink every morning, instead of one filled with dishes and the occasional scorpion.
Now, if any of you have ever visited FlyLady.net, I'm sure those two little words - "shiny sink" - just gave away my secret. No, the extra time at home this week wasn't really responsible for the magic in my house, though it certainly didn't hurt. It was having my own personal house fairy that finally did the trick!
As it turns out, I am a person who requires a certain amount of accountability. I have never been able to exercise at home, alone. I must have walking buddies, an aerobics class, or friends at the gym who will give me grief if I don't show up. I have been going to Weight Watchers off and on for most of my life. I know all of their materials by heart. So why can't I just save a bunch of money and do the program on my own? Why is it that, if I really want to lose weight, I must go through the ritual of weekly weigh-ins? Accountability!
Soooo, I guess it kinda makes sense that after years of making all kinds of to-do lists and cleaning schedules for myself that I never could stick to, things didn't click into place until I finally got my own personal (house-cleaning) trainer to hold me accountable. She visits me daily on-line, teaching me to take baby steps that eventually become habits I don't even have to think about. She gives me pep talks, helps me get rid of clutter, assigns me my mission for the day, reminds me how important my bedtime routine is, and best of all, she somehow makes it kinda fun. Why, I actually enjoyed cleaning out that refrigerator. Go figure?
I wasn't sure if it would really work for me until last weekend. Usually towards the end of the week I suddenly find myself thinking "Crap! It's Thursday already? I've got to get all my messes picked up before John gets here!" That's exactly what I thought last week, but then I looked around and realized, there were no messes. Not even a pile of books and magazines beside my chair. Well, I'll be darned!
Of course, you shoulda seen it a couple of hours after John and Lex showed up...
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Welcome to Niagara Falls! I just moseyed down to the creek, to see what's what. After 17 hours with no rain, I expected things to be back to normal. Boy, was I disappointed. No taco today for Becky.
See that second photo there? That's what we call crossing #2. If the creek is running, crossing #1 usually has some water trickling across it, but not #2. #2 is not at creek level, it's raised up, with big galvanized culverts beneath it for the water to pass through. I've only seen it with water going over it one time before, at the peak of a big storm - not 17 hrs. after the storm had passed. And see all that grassy stuff wrapped around the tree in the next photo? That tree sits even with this crossing, so that shows you how many feet higher the water was yesterday.
The fourth photo was taken as I stood at the top of the creekside cliff right in front of our house. See how far away the water looks now? (even though it's still much higher than its usual level) Well, yesterday, it was pretty dang close to where my toes would be in that photo.
Last but not least is a photo I just this minute received in an email from our H.O.A. secretary. That, my friends, is crossing #1, which I didn't see this morning since I wasn't willing to wade through #2 to get there (pun intended - you do not want to go into that water right after a flood!). Apparently the flood stripped a huge chunk of asphalt off of it. She said she took the liberty of contacting the local contractor about repairs, but who knows how far down his waiting list we will be, or when he will get around to us. Hope it's soon. This girl can only go so long without a trip to Mima's!
Oh yeah! Back to the kitchen. Yesterday afternoon, before I got distracted by the flash flood that came swooshing through my yard, I was in the middle of cooking and photographing a Tunisian dish that I wanted to share with you. It's just the kind of simple weeknight meal that I love: easy, delicious, and nutritious, all rolled into one. It's also a great way to use up those late summer tomatoes. Prepare to be dazzled by the aromas in your kitchen!
Paprika Tomatoes with Poached Eggs (Shakshouka)(don't try to save calories by eliminating the oil altogether, since that's what helps you to absorb the lycopene)
from Sunset Magazine, Sept. '09
from Sunset Magazine, Sept. '09
Serves 2 (4 if you serve it with a salad or another veggie)1 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds (or maybe 1/2 tsp. ground coriander?)
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 1/2 Tbsp. hot or sweet Spanish or Hungarian paprika
About 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 large poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 to 2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 lbs. Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 large eggs
freshly ground pepper
1. Put coriander, cumin, paprika, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a mortar and pound until crushed; or seal in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add garlic and pound into a paste. Set aside. (I used the plastic bag method, then spent most of the meal picking the coriander seed shells out of my teeth, which is why I will probably substitute a smaller amount of ground coriander next time)
2. In a 10-in. frying pan over medium heat, cook chopped poblano in 1 Tbsp. oil, stirring often, until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add spice mixture and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 3/4 cup water, then tomatoes. Cook, turning tomatoes occasionally, until softened, 10 to 20 minutes; add more water, 1/4 cup at a time, if mixture starts to get dry (you should see juices around the tomatoes).
3. With a wooden spoon, make 4 depressions in tomato mixture and crack an egg into each. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until eggs are set but yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes.
4. If you like, drizzle the shakshouka with 1 Tbsp. oil, then scoop onto plates and serve with crusty bread.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The strangest thing happened while I was cooking dinner tonight. We had a heck of a storm last night, bringing us up to 8 1/2 inches of rain in 24 hours, but then it cleared up and turned into a pretty nice day. Round about 5:00 the skies fell again, dumping another 2 1/2 inches here at our house, and as much as 6 inches in other parts of town - all in less than 90 minutes. Then it cleared up again.
So, like I said, I was in the kitchen, cooking my dinner, when I happened to glance out the window and saw a big line of cars pulled off to the side of the road up on the highway. I figured there must be a wreck or something, so I stepped out onto the porch to get a closer look. The minute I opened the door, I heard the roar - the roar of a raging river, right in my front yard!
Of course, if you've never been to my house, these pictures probably don't seem all that dramatic. What you have to keep in mind is that you normally can't see the creek at all from up here on my porch. Those trees beside the road that runs in front of my house are on top of a cliff, and the water is usually just a trickle, hidden from sight about 20 ft. down below.
I started to call this post "And the Rains Came", but then realized I had already used that one. Same with "Splish Splash", and several others. Odd that I've written so many posts about heavy rains, when you consider how dry it usually is around here. Why, just last week our creek was well on its way towards dead empty, and the "Burn Ban" signs were back in place! But that's the Hill Country weather for you - persistent drought with intermittent flooding.
We must have got at least eight inches of rain in the last twenty four hours, thanks to tropical storm Hermine. Hard to know for sure, since Hubby's little weather station resets itself each night at midnight. We had enough wind to flatten a few plants, including my pretty castor bean with the star-shaped leaves, but that's OK. She was getting way too big for her britches, and removing her will give me that much more space for fall veggies. On the plus side, the roof stayed put this time, no patio furniture went whizzing around or got plopped onto vehicles, and since we recently had our big oak professionally pruned, there were no dead limbs just waiting to become missiles. Best of all, despite that deafening boom that jolted me out of bed at 2:30 am, thinking surely we had been struck by lightening, we still have power. Not only that, we've still got internet. I'm one happy camper.
The jury is still out regarding access and egress from the neighborhood. I've seen a couple of vehicles make it over the low-water crossings and up to the highway, but I've also seen a couple back up and turn around. Don't think I'll be risking it in my little Mini anytime soon. After all, it's still raining.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
For the first time ever, our home has been invaded by carpenter ants. Ants on steroids. These suckers are easily ten times bigger than the little sugar ants we get every once in a while. The good news is that they don't seem to be quite as intent on causing us bodily harm as those fire ants I'm forever butting heads with in the garden. However, they do like to crawl into bed with us at night, which is rather disconcerting. I suspect recent rains may have something to do with this invasion, for the more rain we get, the more ants appear in the house. We've had over half an inch already this morning, and it's just now getting really cranked up. It's turning into a regular stomp fest around here.
Why am I stomping on these guys, who aren't even biting me, when I'm willing to let the spiders have free run of my house? Well, that's the bad news. Apparently, like termites, they can weaken the structure of your house with all their tunneling and nest building, and those nice little not-too-toxic-to-humans ant baits that I set out for the sugar ants won't phase them in the least. According to one article I read, you need to stay up all night with your flashlight, luring them with drops of honey, so you can then follow them back to their various nests. Then you must drill a bunch of holes in the wall around each (being careful to avoid pipes and wiring) and puff boric acid into each and every hole.
Anyone got a better idea?
P.S. Many thanks to nobuggy.com for the above image
Monday, September 6, 2010
Do any of you know anyone who has ever tried growing quinoa (pronounced keen'-wah)? It happens to be one of my favorite new foods - a tasty, nutty-flavored grain with more protein than any other, which you cook just like rice, only in less time - but it never occurred to me to try growing it until I came across this packet of seeds the other day. Just look at those colors!
From what I could discover on-line, it's not all that difficult to harvest, thresh (beat it around in a bucket) and winnow it by hand, but I'm not sure about climate and space requirements. One of the articles I read said it wouldn't like our heat, but the packet says that in warmer climates, you can plant it in late summer or early fall for a late fall or winter bloom. I guess the real problem is space. How many square feet would I have to plant, to get one little bowl of that fabulous quinoa salad like they serve over at Linda's Fine Foods - the one that's chock full of things like pistachios, dried cherries, feta cheese and apricots, all tossed together in a yummy vinaigrette dressing. If I only get about a tablespoon of grain from each plant, it would hardly be worth the space. Still... just look at those colors!