Thursday, September 30, 2010

Well, poo!

If you don't give a flying leap about squash, you may want to skip this post...tried to upload some squash eye candy, but Blogger ain't cooperating this morning.

Sometime last autumn, I roasted a butternut squash. Peeled that sucker, cut it into chunks, a little EVOO, salt, and tasted fine, but didn't blow my skirt up (apparently my new catchphrase...please just go with it). I remember a tinge of disappointment, because I loveloveLOVE all things autumn, and squash, in all its incarnations, certainly falls into that category. And zucchini and pumpkin are practically the only ones I love...I'm open to yellow squash, but my inlaws made a squash casserole once that was so rich, I literally have been turned off to the vegetable ever since...and that was like, 10 years ago. Gotta love that Southern cooking...sticks to your ribs and your memory.

I've had an acorn squash laying around for weeks, and since the buttercup squash looks so similar in layout, figured the flavors would be similar, so I roasted them both last night with apple chunks, then scooped 'em out and threw everything in the food processor. Added a little spice, a little brown sugar, gave it a little simmer time.

I can't get past the consistency or the odor : (

Lesson #1: if it doesn't sound hollow, it ain't ready. Well, Lesson #1 probably oughta be puree longer, but Les's headaches have been epic this week with the weather doing its overcast thing, so I didn't process it as long as I should have. But the hollow thing...I use that gauge for melons, squash, and the like, and it's solid...the acorn, after 4 weeks on my cabinet, was perfectly ripe, but the buttercup was not. Could tell by the scent and the seeds once I got it open. But I forged ahead apparently because I like wasting food. No, of course, that's not it...but when you look at a picture of a recipe and it resembles pureed sweet potatoes, and you think, I can do that, and it ends up tasting meh, which is only a step up from tasting like ass, the disappointment turns to frustration. I'm looking for recipes that my dentally challenged husband can eat, but I need to learn more about flavors and using spice in cooking before I can be competent at experimenting. And TPTB in charge of vegetables forget to tell you that many squash don't have that exciting a flavor to begin with. I find it funny that you have to hunt to find an acorn squash recipe that doesn't involve brown sugar, apples, and's like they've given up getting anything else to match that weird void where the flavor is. Meantime, I'm stuck with a bowl of soup-like substance that looks like baby barf.

I'm being too critical...Les will try it later to be nice, and for all I know, he'll like it...he grew up with a lot of different flavors than I did. My parents, gods bless them, NEVER pushed vegetables on us much, because they'd both come from families of eat-everything-on-your-plate-no-matter-how-much-it-makes-you-gag. It wasn't until I was an adult that I started s...l...o...w...l...y...opening my mind to different vegetables beyond potatoes and corn. Now years later, I know how to make vegetables taste terrific by piling things on them that lack nutritional value, but my latest lifestyle changes have me wanting to clean up my act. Obviously, it's a work in progress.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Taking Stock

She may be long, but she's got character :)

Outside: 2 days of overcast and rain...temps aren't low enough to blow my skirt up yet...

Inside: iCarly in the background (no, we don't have tweens, why do you ask?), white noise in the back-background...oven clicking...

Wearing: today was a fashion FAIL...had to do biz casual for work, but should've worn highwaters...wore slacks and realized while heading out the door that I looked like a grandma and didn't have time to go back and change : ( Will be SO glad when this exercise thing actually lets me drop a couple of sizes...I'm probably already there, but don't want to invest in anything until the weight's actually dropping too...

Creating: Autumn soup from Hannah's Harvest recipe

Reading: The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle (good book!), and about a dozen books about management skills

Going:  to the Y every other day faithfully, and sneaking yoga in on the off days : )

Hoping: hopinghopinghoping...for what, I'm not sure. I have one interview scheduled and I'm hoping for another, but if they lead nowhere, I'll be happy with that too. That said, I felt a terrific energy today showing some potential work partners how QC rolls, and the material I grabbed at the library is reminding me how very much attitude plays a role in work...

The weekend will be spent studying, and creating questions and answers...with some baking and Where the Wild Things Are thrown in for sanity.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mental wanderings and a new weekend

As a writer, I get jealous of writers who make me want to stop, slow down my reading, and curl up on a favorite chair with a mug of hot chocolate and a warm sweater while I carefully devour their words and allow myself pauses while they sink into my brain.

I'm reading Eat Pray Love...saw the movie first, and it helps a bit, to imagine different scenes with Julia Roberts rather than Elizabeth Gilbert. Eat Pray Love is first and foremost a memoir with an adventure attached, and translating that into a movie required them to embellish just a touch, so now, reading the real deal, I'm struck by the difference of accompanying Elizabeth Gilbert on the journey as opposed to Julia Roberts. I'm experiencing the journey with Elizabeth Gilbert. EPL the movie was certainly warm, fuzzy, well-acted....I have no qualms with Roberts' acting, love her characters...but something didn't translate for me on the screen that is now making itself evident on the pages. For that, I'm grateful. I blew through Italy with Liz, enjoying the sensual experiences and descriptions, but now, only a page and a half into India, the experience has been turned on its ear and I find myself looking for a sweater and a mug.

This could certainly stem from my continuing search for my own faith, where my spirituality fits in amidst Reclaiming witchcraft, Buddhism, the Gospel of St. Thomas/Gnosticism, and others...whatever, I'm looking forward to the India section, and the quiet thinking time it will initiate.

So glad it's Friday...nothing huge planned, the usual mix of cleaning, baking, etc. with some Y time thrown in for good measure. Enjoy your weekend, folks!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Taking Stock

Outside: supposedly a decent Harvest moon tonight...may have to venture out to check later.

Inside: NickToons in the background, typing in the foreground, HEPA filter creating white noise in the back-background...

Wearing: big honkin' tie-dye Pooh T-shirt

Creating: opportunities for myself

Going: to go veg in front of tube soon with knitting

Reading: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Hoping: I get a first call for an interview for the HR Manager position and a 2nd call for the QC Manager position. That's what Kelly Clarkson's lyrics were finally realizing that I certainly can't improve my sitch by doing nothing...that being happy where you're at isn't enough sometimes...I have the necessary skills for both those jobs, so it's becoming a case of doing right by me.

I ache for Autumn and it eludes us here. I bought those squash the other day because I just couldn't help myself (note to self: scour Internet for recipes!), and there was nary a good apple to be found yet at the store...going to hit Native Sun this weekend. Today I wore interview clothes, so tomorrow I'll wear the outfit I wanted to wear short-sleeve sweater top, beige slacks, and my large beautiful necklace (a Jewelry by Christy original) with the resined maple leaf as the centerpiece...hopefully piccies forthcoming...for now, you just get the squash /;)

Long Shot

"It's a long shot, but I say why not
If I say forget it, I know that I'll regret it
It's a long shot just to beat these odds
The chance is we won't make it
But I know if I don't take it, there's no chance..."
~ Kelly Clarkson

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Good Weekend

Glimpses from the weekend:

Crud, forgot the ladybug photo...

In these precious 2-day weekends, it's important to recognize early what's realistic on the ole to-do lists. I had 2 events, so to speak, that would take me out of the apartment this weekend, so I let myself off the hook and determined that digging into boxes wasn't going to occur. Recognizing this early on allowed me to accomplish other things with a clearer head.

Saturday morning-into-afternoon was spent budgeting and paying bills, as well as goofing off on Facebook. I started thinking about a grocery list, and Les went to Costco for a few items. Midday I realized I could nap or I could go work out, so I put on my suit and hit the pool at the Y (those steps in the right direction still mean so much to me). Got back, relaxed a bit, showered, and then jaunted downtown to catch some friends in concert at our local Pagan Pride day. Kicked myself later for not dragging Mom along...I think she would've enjoyed the music and not felt out of place at all. It felt SO good to see some old friends again, and I left the park feeling relaxed and happy. Got home, made dinner, and relaxed with Eat Pray Love, which Les had been good enough to grab for me for a steal at Costco earlier that day.

Sunday, I got up on a mission, it seemed. I knew I wanted to polish off the laundry that day, rather than stall and have to blow off working out Monday night to get it done. I knew I wanted to bake a little something and clean the kitchen beforehand. So after cinnamon rolls and Internet play, I started the laundry and then tackled the kitchen and the refrigerator. Took out trash, consolidated recycling, was a domestic day. Mid-afternoon, the cookie dough was in the fridge and the kitchen was in good shape. I grabbed a shower and a ride from Mom, and we went to Lil Bro's to celebrate my nephew H's birthday early. H is turning 10 at the end of the month, and Lil Bro recently eloped with A, so there was plenty of reason to celebrate. A made a delicious dinner, Mom and I played Uno with H, and I just marveled at how much he's changed. I haven't seen him, I think, since last Thanksgiving...Lil Bro works basically 7 days a week, gets H every other weekend, and I'm not on speaking terms with the ex, so it's pretty catch-as-catch-can where get-togethers are concerned. H is autistic, but has the distinction of being the most high-functioning student at Jericho, so mainstreaming him into public school next year should be a success, provided they shop around for the best program here (a daunting task I don't envy his folks for, as I can't stand the public school system here in Jax).

Sidebar: how sad is it that I work for a website design company and my Flash on my computer is so outdated, I can't even see the Jericho website from here...?

I was in awe. I call him my blond stringbean, and it's an accurate moniker: he's up to my chest already, all arms and legs. Listening to him engage in conversation without prompting, spontaneous bits of discussion, and watching his glee over his big birthday present (a computer printer he's been bugging Lil Bro for, for the better part of this last year)...he was like any other kid, with just a bit of social awkwardness and a penchant for looking down at times. His human pinball tendencies are markedly reduced, and he's still delightfully tactile for an autistic, giving hugs willingly and snuggling with A on the couch. Mom and I left with full bellies and warm hearts.

This week, I'm recognizing that I need to scale down my dreams of stocking up on food, because it requires money we don't have. I'm working out every other day. There's new TV on to distract me, which I hope will get me knitting again. Autumn comes on Wednesday. It may not come to our neck of the woods until December, but I'm determined to continue my efforts to live in an autumn manner, heat be damned.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Taking Stock

Sans pics, as usual...I captured a ladybug the other day, but she hasn't been downloaded yet...

Outside: The slightest (and I do mean slightest) shift in the humidity made it almost (and I do mean almost) cool this morning...not enough to blow my skirt up (oh, wait, don't wear skirts...), but I'll take whatever change nature throws at us at this point...July and August were damn long here...

Inside: Started the day with no AC in the office, but luckily that was remedied shortly after my arrival. Too bad...had one coworker threatening to remove an article of clothing for every hour it was down...could've made work more interesting!

Wearing: Adorable highwaters with little lemons embroidered all over them, yellow T, white definitely softer from new treatment, but not cooperating too well today...

Creating: Muscles and not much else...lots of ideas in the ole brainpan, but my evenings are still being spent in front of a media outlet after working out, which I've got to break myself of...besides, I think I'm noticing the very beginnings of arthritis traveling to my hands, which makes me want to knit more than ever, as well as perform hand exercises...want to catch it early, slow it down, not be crippled by it like my poor mom...

Going: plans of travel in the near future...until Mom's procedures are scheduled, can't plan any escapes north...besides, money's an issue, even with a bonus due...we need to invest in car maintenance, so I need to recognize that I may not make it up to Charlotte without Lil Sis's help this autumn...patience...

Reading: A Can of Peas by Traci Depree in my continued effort to farm vicariously through blogs and fiction; it's a sweet read...also, got The Pioneer Woman Cooks from DH for my birthday, so that sucker's getting broken in this coming weekend! Let the baking begin!

Hoping: for cooler weather, the strength to pull off better time management, and that my bonus lands on this next check...

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Autumnal mental wanderings

Snitched from the University of Illinois Urban Extension...

10 days til autumn.....I can feel it stirring in my belly somewhere, the desire to try canning food and making applesauce in the crockpot, the desire to purge crap from the house, batten down the hatches, so-to-speak, for winter prep...I want to get baking again. I wish there was firewood to chop. I wish it was cool enough for longer sleeves. Ah well, Jenna's posts keep me happy and dreaming...I farm vicariously through her.

That leaf was from the crape myrtles in front of the building. I'm surprised to find they're changing color this year, and it makes me smile, even when the heat index still threatens to suck my energy dry...damn index was above 100F both days this weekend, so I didn't even bother to go outside on Sunday. I hate that, especially when the outdoors opens me up like a flower, makes me feel more alive...and besides, the porch needs a good cleaning...

I haven't been taking pictures still (obviously) apartment is a pit with very little to show off, so I have to search for worthy subjects. I mean, how many shots can I take of my purses, my knitting, and an aloof black cat? Going to make more of an effort...

The weekend slipped away from me as usual, but I did start one very important project: budgeting. It's opened my eyes to how our money gets pissed away (FINALLY!), and some changes are on the horizon.

In spite of the heat, the tiny inklings of autumn begin to sneak in down here...the shock and happiness when our team (Jacksonville Jags) actually won their home opener, for example :) Also, we discovered when they updated our digital cable recently, that we now receive the NFL All-Access's pretty sweet, and we were both flipping back and forth to it yesterday to see how the first week of the season played out.

My boss flew the coop, and the team manager job will be posted again soon. I'm thinking of trying for it just for the experience...I know I'm not exactly what they're looking for, but I want the experience of trying for marketing interview was a disaster, and I could use another shot at selling myself.

Meantime, I hope to steer clear of the computer in the evenings, get some more organizing started around the house, get knitting again, and be good to myself. Not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Taking Stock

So apparently I'm going through a phase where I only post on Wednesdays...

That leaf greeted me as I walked into the office this morning. For leaves to change color down here before like, November, is rare. It sits on my desk now, a reminder of what I want to move toward.

Life hasn't been that much busier. Well, I hit the Y a couple of times a week after work, am going through another knitting drought, and spent last weekend cleaning, doing laundry, shaking off the other words, the usual.

Labor Day weekend was uneventful...Mom went to Charlotte to visit Lil Sis, we cleaned her apartment and car for birthday money and transported her to and from the airport.

How the hell is it my birthday tomorrow? I know it's stupid to obsess about a number, but I'm not crazy about the age I'm turning, so it's hard to get excited about it. I'm taking tomorrow off work, hoping to hit the arboretum...

Mom's gained some needed focus this week...the visit to Charlotte was good for her, and yesterday's doc appointment gave us (Lil Bro and I accompanied her for support and education, and I'm so glad we both were there) the information and perspective we needed to OK pain management for her back, rather than major surgery. It's still hard to accept, because I'm a fixer...and the idea of not being able to do anything to slow down or fix the degeneration of her disks is a little scary. But she has a goal now, of moving out of Florida in April 2011, and her actions are starting to be dictated by her desire to reach that goal.

I'm recognizing that the same thing needs to happen here. I look at Crystal and Jenna and SouleMama, women like me, same types of dreams, only they're walking the talk, finding their little patches of land. Granted, our situations are all different...Crystal, gods bless her, is being shoved onto hers by circumstance; Jenna lives alone and is able to spend her income on herself (though I'm sure she'd scoff at that and say, yeah, take a look at my mortgage, lady!); and SoulePapa must make an OK living to support 4 small peeps and allow Amanda to write and raise them...I get that since we're still a one-income household, I'm going to have to work incredibly hard to even get up to NC, never mind finding a place to truly call home a year or more later...but you have to start somewhere, and I've been spending way too many weekends adrift, not working toward that goal, letting myself think I have time. Time for what? To dream and wish and feel sorry for myself? Bullshit.

Outside: the slightest shift in temperatures continues, but it's still too bloody hot out if you're outside for long...

Inside: I really wish someone would tell my chatty coworkers to shut the f*ck up...I can't do it, because that's the only way I can think to communicate how I feel about it...

Wearing: delightfully noisy pink paisley highwaters with a green down, trying to enjoy the natural waves that are presenting themselves since I got it trimmed on Saturday...

Creating: starting a work apron for projects, and I HAVE to get back on the MIL NOT want that sucker taunting me throughout autumn...also making roast chicken tonight and frying up some round steak to eat off of the next couple of days...

Going: well, like I said, to the arboretum tomorrow to hike the trails...Les wants to come with, I can tell...he was asking me about how undercover it is. I'd love him to come, but I'm afraid it'll knock his ass out the rest of the day afterward...

Reading: discovered the Lumby series by Gail Fraser and a couple of other farm/small town novels at the library, trying to get into the Harmony series by Phillip Gulley too...

Hoping: I have a nice birthday tomorrow (I think there may need to be cake!) and a productive weekend. It's all up to me, right? :)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Taking stock and catching up

So I usually update this at work, cuz it's just easier, but I never remember to download pics beforehand, so today you get a pic of my dream kitchen, which I snuck from one of the real estate's the remodeled kitchen of my old house in Warren, which is still on the market, I think...I'd probably do something a little different with the cabinet doors, but the layout speaks to my desire for more counterspace and a window...

Nothing mind-blowing occurred in the last week to cause the pause in posts...just regular life and a little hormonal depression. I caught Eat Pray Love at the flicks with Mom on Saturday...nice movie, a little predictable. Been inside my head a bit these days, but not enough for me to realize I need to snap out of it.

Outside: Gorgeous. Was overcast all last week with steady rains that still weren't enough to bring up the retention ponds to their erosion points. This week's sunny, temps have dropped a's imperceptable unless you're looking for it, and if you are, like me, you breathe a small sigh of relief and think about autumn. I'm determined to start living autumn, regardless of the heat. Made chili this week...tomato sauce and applesauce aren't far behind, and I'm looking forward to baking bread again.

Inside: Meh. Work ebbs more than it flows, and I've been copywriting to fill the space. It makes the days go by faster, but also gets old, writing the same type of persuasive language over and over again. I'll never really be comfortable writing advertising copy...give me proper grammar and an Oxford comma any day.

Wearing: Heh...almost same as last week...that beautiful green and blue paisley with my black highwaters. SO nice to have a decent wardrobe to choose from, and helps me see when other areas of my image need improving (that's not a body dig...I need a haircut and some serious color, getting trimmed this weekend).

Creating: Spending time in my head means less time with my sticks and string...found some novels at the library that are barely holding my interest...need to get back on MIL sock, don't want completion of that stretching out...need to start thinking about xmas...

Going: to Mom's to clean her apartment while she's in Charlotte this laundry while I'm there. Otherwise getting a jump on to-do lists, budgeting, purging at home...the usual weekend dream.

Reading: Dandelions in a Jelly Jar by Traci Depree...and realizing that my faith is a mix of different pantheons and that it's time to really read Evolutionary Witchcraft and Earth Path, because those trains of thought continue to speak to me more than the Eastern faiths...

Hoping: I can get some things accomplished this weekend, develop a better attitude about my birthday next week, and continue to be kind to myself when not enough "stuff" gets accomplished to my satisfaction.