Thursday, August 26, 2010

I have a boring life sometimes.


This is a fountain in downtown Greenville.

I don't have anything terribly interesting to say. I work, I sleep, I have a precious couple of hours to speak to and be around my husband, I work, I sleep, I talk to Jason, repeat.

So on and so forth.

I just wish I worked a day job; then I'd be home every evening to hang out with him before he has to work... or that he worked a day job, because we at least would get to be around each other more. Nonetheless, the jobs we have are a gift, really. Something to be deeply grateful for.

And I am.

Believe me, I am.


Most of the time.

But there are times like right now, you see. Where I've been hanging out with him for a couple of hours since I got off work, but it has really begun to sink in that he is about to leave for work... and I won't see him with both of us conscious until Saturday afternoon because I am working afternoon-to-night tomorrow night. He will come home tomorrow morning and go to sleep. I will wake up, hang out for a few hours, maybe get to say hi to him as he wakes up, then go to work. I will come home an hour after he has left. He will come home when I am sleeping. I will wake up and be awake for a while.

He will wake up, and we will get to see each other.

For about an hour or so more?

I'm going to give myself leave to be whiny about it.


Then I will remind myself that this is a gift. My job is a gift. His job is a gift. Our whole relocation and how it has worked for us so far has been a gift. The kindness of our friends, willing to drive me home from work on nights when I get out after Jason has already left, is an incredible gift.

I still would like to get to relax with Jason without  mourning the counting hours until he has to go.

I give thanks for all the opportunities which have come our way.

Or rather, I will. In another hour or so.

When I stop feeling whiny about it.


... This is a duck.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A kind of egg salad

I just made this, and it is delicious, and so I will share it with you.

This is Jason's recipe, really; he made it last night to go on bread to eat at work. It's a kind of egg salad. This morning when I got up I realized I really wanted to eat what I had seen him make last night, so I made my own.

Now Jason hates mayonnaise. Loathes it. We don't eat a lot of the traditional "salads"; chicken salad, potato salad, egg salad, etc and so forth, because of the mayo that is usually way overdone in them.

So Jason made an egg salad last night; no mayo, just a few simple ingredients a little shake of black pepper, and yum.

So, here is how to make it! I suppose you could toss in a touch of mayo if you wanted it to bind a little better or you really like the taste. If we ever kept mayo in the house, I'm sure I would.

This recipe made about a bowl-sized serving for me. I would quadruple it if you've got a family that really likes egg salad. It made enough spread for two sandwiches for Jason. So I'm going to call it 2 servings.

Kinda Egg Salad





What You Need:
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 spears Kosher dill pickles
About a 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 smallish stalks celery, or one large one
1 green onion

And... Creation!

This is incredibly easy.

Cut up your hard-boiled eggs, add to bowl.
Cut up pickles, celery, green onion, add to bowl.
Add parmesan cheese.
Add pepper to taste. 
You don't need salt; there's plenty of salt-taste in the pickles and parmesan cheese.
Mix together.
Done!

You can spread it on bread or a tortilla or eat it straight out of the bowl, like I'm doing. 




Seriously? Yum.


And now I return to my morning coffee and learning what all happened in the world while I was sleeping. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In parts.

Because I'm not going to have the most exciting time of my life for the next couple of days (work, sleep, have a passing conversation with Jason while either on my way to work or his way to sleep or vice versa, repeat), I'm just going to talk a bit about downtown Greenville on Tuesday, in parts.

Saturday Jason and I, along with his best friend Justin, are going to hit up downtown again, and maybe this time not run into the massive problem Jason and I ran into today.

Namely, this;

Jason works overnights. He gets home at 7:15-ish, I think, in the morning. He collapses into the bed, I roll over to mumble a greeting and then myself head right back to sleep. I wake up around 10 or 11. Jason wakes up sometime between 2-4 pm.

He woke up a little earlier than that today, in part because I was antsy and kind of moving around loudly and, er, I woke him up.

When we made it downtown, after a quick trip to the bank, it was a bit after 4:30. We were hungry and decided to eat first. Once we had eaten, we walked through the park to walk it off. By the time we were really good to kind of start shopping, it was nearing 6 pm.

Turns out basically everything closes at 6 pm. So we got to look at a lot of very nice storefronts, and admire what we could see from outside.

I was quite disappointed. I will be rectifying this on Saturday. Especially since the very first place I will be dragging my erstwhile male companions is to Mast's General Store, my Number 1 favorite place downtown that is not full of waterfalls.

I wasn't too disappointed. I still ate delicious food.

Oh, will Justin regret agreeing to go hang out downtown with Jason and his wife. His wife who has not window shopped in a long, long time.

Er.

In any case, we ate food that was so delicious I kind of feel compelled to tell you about it.



We decided to eat at Barley's, a place Jason had eaten at once and really enjoyed, but an entirely new place to me.

It being 4:30 in the afternoon, it was just us, the staff, and a single couple finishing up their pizza. Our waitress turned out to be someone Jason had known when he went to Greenville Tech and they bonded for a moment over Jason having put vaseline on her foot for a plaster casting.

I have a story about the time I was forced to allow another student to make a plaster cast of my face. Remind me to tell that story sometime. Keep in mind that straws stuck up my nose and something I can only call "the shakes" are involved.

So. Anyway. Delicious foods.


Appetizer! An artichoke-and-garlic dip that was basically swimming in delicious, delicious garlic. It comes baked in a bowl and you scoop it out and laid it out on the nice crunchy-crispy garlic-striped bread it comes with. Jason sprinkled red pepper flakes on his; I did eventually, too, and I liked the spicy added to it. But man, let me tell you.

I now regret having not thought to just eat lunch and take my brother here when he was visiting. But he will visit again. And we will go to Barley's. This is a promise.

Barley's thing, as a pub, is its impressive beer collection, and it did not disappoint. Jason got Old Chub, which was nice and thick and full of malt and hops; it was definitely a dinner beer. I was kind of feeling like something very light, so I ended up getting a Woodchuck Pear Cider.


Nice and light and crisp. Good cider like this has kind of a bite to the taste; I don't know how to explain it. But it's incredibly refreshing on a humid summer day.






Jason's Garden Burger. Hilarity; when he ordered this he was imagining an actual meat burger with lots of vegetables on top. What he got was, you know, what a Garden Burger is... a veggie burger. It was nonetheless delicious.


With pasta salad on the side.

I had the Jerk Chicken Salad, with ranch dressing. Pineapples, mushrooms, green peppers, spinach leaves... many things were involved in this salad.





I don't even like raw tomatoes; I liked them on this.

It was probably the best dinner out I've had in Greenville yet, and that counts the awesome Indian place we went to. This was quality food, simple but well-done, good with beer and we could watch people walk by on the street as we ate.

That's all I have for tonight, really.

Jason has gone for work and I am currently working on a new project. I'd like to change up my fashion and my clothing. What I own now I cannot honestly refer to as fashion; it's a closet full of oversized T-shirts, plain things, things that don't so much go together as they are clothes that I own, things I can put on, and leave the house quite quickly. I would like to have some new clothes, and I like a lot of the things showing up in my magazines for fall.

So I'm cutting up pictures of clothes I want and sort of pasting them together into outfits in one of my unused sketchbooks.

Is that what being girly is like?

My tomboy heart feels quite uneasy with this. But the rest of me really wants to have colors that coordinate.

I fear for my soul.

Also I would like to own more than two pairs of decent shoes.

Somewhere I can hear my husband replying with, "But why would you ever need more than two pairs? One casual, one dressy, right?"

I can only shake my head.

Good night!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sneeze. Sniffle. Cough. Sigh.

Good news: my sore throat faded away after Saturday. Bad news: the sickness rotated up into my nose and my sinuses and my eyes, which, while less miserable, is kind of more noticeable to others.

This is what happens when you stay home for a while and step right back into a job where you deal with a lot of people and their money and food and drinks all day long.

Oh well.

I haven't written much lately because I've mostly been too miserable and did not want to subject you, my loyal and deeply understanding readers who are largely tolerant of my rantings and ramblings, to what happens when I am truly and deeply sick.

Namely; I am Mrs. Crankypants. I used to be Ms. Crankypants when I got sick, but then I got married, so now I am Mrs. Crankypants. Nyah.

Saturday night I actually ended up going to my in-laws' house with Justin and Jason, wherein my mother-in-law made this amazing potato soup that was perfect and gentle and wonderful for someone still fighting a nasty angry throat and let me tell you, that was some seriously delicious potato soup. And bread. And coconut pie thing that was just amazing. Basically, what I'm trying to tell you is that I have awesome in-laws.

Sunday, I woke up with my head-cold still in its happy little place, after a night of not much sleep, and tried to convince myself to put on a happy face. It wasn't hard to do; my big brother was coming to see me! Bryan had a business trip to nearby Atlanta, GA (only about two hours away from us!) when he usually lives out in Texas, so this was definitely a lot closer than I have been to him in a long time! So he finagled some time on the weekend to drive up to Greenville! We took him downtown, to see Falls Park and all the little shops and fun stuff down there.

Of course, seeing as i hadn't had my caffeine yet that day, one of the first things we did was get me a gingerbread latte from Coffee Underground, a beautiful basement-level coffee shop that exists, appropriately enough, on Coffee Street downtown. If we hadn't had kind of a packed schedule I would have suggested we hang out there for a bit; CU is full of big cozy chairs and fun stuff to look at and talk about.

In any case, I was sufficiently caffeinated, so it was time to look at some of the sights.

We took Bryan past a lot of the little waterfalls and fountains downtown, pointed out the tiny bronze mice (which I forgot to take photos of, but I will get some tomorrow, I promise! And show at least a couple to you here and explain WHY there are tiny bronze mice all over the place... but not until tomorrow! Wow this parenthesis got long), wandered around and through, up and down the beautiful downtown park.


Past this gorgeous old mill space, hollowed out, a beautiful place to have high school proms or wedding ceremonies.





Look how pretty the color of those bricks is...

The old mill is next to a mostly slow-moving river, a place that geese and ducks adore and basically just completely cover is random feathers. It's kind of amusing to watch little clouds of white feathers float down the river while the geese and ducks clean themselves.

They're actually basically standing on the bottom... that water is not quite as dirty as it seems.

Although it is pretty dirty.

I wouldn't dunk my beak or feathers in it, is all I'm sayin'.

And across to the other side, beside the falls that I've put photos of up before, in previous entries. Tomorrow when Jason and I head downtown I'll try to get some really interesting close-up shots; I understand my camera a lot better than I did the last time I tried close-ups downtown, in January.

We were definitely having a great time. We had brunch at the Overlook Grill, a fun little place right next to the biggest part of the falls, where Bryan and I had shrimp 'n grits (with cheese! and bacon! and cream sauce! did I mention cheese and bacon?) and Jason had the Overlook club wrap, and all were happy.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to time things well enough to really just wander all over and into shops or anything. We hung out at our apartment for another hour or so, and then Jason had to get to game with some of his friends and I had to work last night, where I alternately sneezed, coughed, and rapidly blinked my way through the evening.

Next time Bryan comes, we'll paint the town a little more, I promise you this. Unless of course I am sick again. In which case... we probably won't.

Stupid being sick.

Oh well.

I'm going to go curl on the couch with my husband now; I just got out of work and I would deeply like to curl up, read a magazine, and groan to Jason about how I don't feel so good and get the appropriate sympathetic responses from him.


I wish a happy day to everyone.

Sneeze.

Sniffle.

Cough.

Zzzzz...

Love,

Mrs. Crankypants

Saturday, August 21, 2010

This house is a house of sickness

I have been getting sick for a couple of days now.

Yesterday, the sore throat I went to bed with was still there when I woke up, only it was much worse and frankly quite angry with me for ignoring it before. I was okay through most of the day, but went into work already feeling telltale signs; my heads in a fog, I can't breathe through my nose very well, and my sore throat felt like someone was just scratching up the inside of it every time I had to speak.

I warned my manager about it, and she understood, and for closing shift it was me and a coworker, we'll call him A.

It was a bad night.

A and I held things up pretty well, but I'm not exactly an expert yet, so when I was on drinks it took me three times as long to do it as it might take someone who was used to it, which meant that when it got very busy, if I was the only one making drinks things got backed up very quickly. Luckily it wasn't very busy hardly at all.

However, I did the following things;

1. I managed to somehow place something wrong so instead of going into the thermos like it's supposed to, the coffee-brewing stuff ended up all over the floor. This happened while A was on break and a manager had to come help me, mopping while I kept helping customers. It was a mess so big it had to be mopped. I was so embarrassed I was about to pass out. I don't know what I did; no one is very sure how it happened.

But I know it happened. This is about the point I realized I was running a fever, albeit a small one.

2. I managed to put a box of soymilk back in the fridge without closing it properly, which spilled soymilk everywhere, while A and I were making drinks. I cleaned out the fridge and the floor got mopped for the second time that night.

These are both painfully embarrassing things to me, because I had such a good first couple of weeks! Which, well. Such is the truth of life; if I am very lucky to start with, eventually something like this will happen. Oh well. At least I got it out of the way?

The rest of the night was mostly uneventful, other than me being increasingly frazzled by the basic aspects of the job, which hasn't happened before, which I'm sure is entirely because I wasn't in my right frame of mind.

When we left, I drove him in kind of a haze; I knew where to turn, and I did so, but I wasn't really consciously thinking about it, or anything at all.

I got a bottle of Sprite at a nearby gas station, curled up with Jason, and then eventually went to bed.

Woke up this morning feeling worse. I've called in for the day, I can't go stand up for seven hours feeling like this, it will not end well. I don't want to repeat yesterday. I don't have a fever at this point or anything, but ugh. I can barely think straight; I wouldn't trust myself to drive.

Usually, when I get sick, there is a secret to treatment; stay home, don't make myself do much, go to sleep whenever I desire it. And I don't stay sick for long.

So let's see what happens.

I'm going to go curl up with Jason again.

That seems to help.

Bad nights are no fun.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Butterfly Fly


This is a butterfly alighting on some beautiful flowers outside my in-laws' house.

Not much to say right now, so I thought instead I'd leave a photo for you.

Also, this older photo I messed with but ended up not posting:


Jason is working overnights now, at least temporarily, so he is still asleep. I ended up going out to get coffee because I didn't want to wake him with the coffee grinder sound. I suppose I'll need to remind myself to grind the coffee tonight in advance.

I need to work on my house today; there are too many boxes all willy-nilly. If I can just get the boxes mostly organized into a single part of the house, I will call it progress.

For the moment, however, I am going to curl up with my hazelnut latte, full of breakfast sandwich-y goodness, and read Everyday With Rachael Ray. Because somehow, at 12:36 in the afternoon, I am still sleepy.

Well, that might actually have more to do with not getting to sleep until almost 3 AM last night and being up before 10 AM today.

Hmmn.

I'm sorry. I'd stay some more but that hazelnut flavor is just calling my name.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Whiplash

My cousin Josh and his wife Beth Ann were expecting. She was six and a half months pregnant and had only just found out the sex of her baby. Yesterday, the baby died and she had to go to the hospital to await, overnight, being induced to give birth to her stillborn child.

This is indeed the summer of fire for the people I love.

This is when twelve hours away is an impossible distance, when I cannot possibly just hop in my car to be there, when I stew in my own choice to go so far.

I ask everyone to say a prayer, light a candle, send whatever compassionate vibes you feel you can their way. This is heartbreak, this is hurt. This is the epitome of the phrase But it's not fair. Because it isn't, and I don't know how to reconcile good news and bad so well.

Which brings up to the reason this post is titled 'whiplash'.

Jason got a call today to go fill out some stuff with a temp agency, which means he's got employment for at least a couple of weeks and if he does really well, there's a chance this could turn into something longer. He's off filling out the paperwork now. This is so good for us; we need two incomes to really pull this off. The downside is that it's a third shift thing, which means we won't see each other (awake) quite so often as we'd like, and we're still a one car household, which means more attempts to balance who goes where when.

So far today has been somewhat of a crazy balance of being happy for our job situation looking up, or at least our financial situation looking decidedly up, and then thinking of Beth Ann and this horrible day.

What a terrible couple of days.

What a terrible few months for my family.

What a terrible distance.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I probably shouldn't have written this

So, it rained yesterday.

And the day before that.

This isn't rain like in the movies; gentle and constant or even heavy but still somehow magically the sort of thing you can see through, which turns the lead actors' skin into a dewy glow or whatever kind of cliche thing they're going for in the movies.

This wasn't even a kind of rain I immediately recognized, aside from perhaps half-hour, maybe an hour tops, moments in thunderstorms where the driving rain becomes a road hazard.

In Illinois, we had a few rainstorms where the roads would flood, or one memorable storm where the crossing into town down the road from us flooded up to about knee-height so they had to close the road.

This is not the kind of rain I am talking about; that was slow and steady, days and days of rain, enough to accumulate over time. Something I could expect, could plan for.

The kind of rain I am talking about now is not that kind of rain.

I got a pretty good crash-course in how to drive in this rain on my way to work yesterday.

Of course, a picture taken from inside my car doesn't really give you the best look at it. You'll have to take my word for it; this was like there were angry people in heaven overturning huge buckets full of water directly on top of Greenville. These were very angry sky-people indeed; they weren't just overturning those buckets, they were throwing that water down on us. It just kept going.

It started raining like that almost five hours before I left for work, and it didn't stop. It slowed down a couple of times to the kind of rain I would have called 'pouring rain' before I moved here.

The rain I would once have considered heavy rain I will now call "Eh, that's not so bad," because I can compare it to the rain I drove through yesterday on my way to work.

It was a harrowing and dangerous journey I was undertaking. A moving truck drove past me, flinging up enough backsplash in his wake to force me to drive completely blind from the sheer amount of water on my windshield, even with my wipers going their fastest, until he was able to pass me far enough ahead for it to die down.

It is a very interesting moment in your life when you realize the moving truck that decided to park himself just ahead and to the left of you chose to do so less than 200 feet from a very sharp turn which you now cannot see because thanks to his backsplash you have absolutely no vision at all beyond the inside of your car. It's a moment in which you go over every bad or good thing you have ever done and try to figure out which side of the scale is going to weigh more.

Well, in any case, I clearly made it.

Then I was presented with a new problem.

I had to leave my car and walk around the corner of the building to get into work.

I ended up getting to work about ten minutes early. This gave me some time to sit and contemplate the space between me and my job.


That doesn't look so far, right? I mean, I am looking directly into the area of the building I work in. Although the picture didn't capture it, I could see my boss making a latte right then and there. I was watching her work, both of us in our respective dry locations.

But I had to plan this carefully.

I had to make a run for it.

There is a special kind of ridiculousness reserved for people dressed all in classy cafe black holding their glasses so they won't get coated in rain running hellbent around the corner for a door, wearing the plaid pink and green spring jacket they sort of accidentally stole from their mother a year and a half ago- and sort of accidentally keep forgetting to give back- who run directly into a small tree branch.

This is the only time all day I gave thanks to that rain, because no one saw me run directly into a small tree branch.

I ran into that branch with my head.

Specifically, with the right side of my head.

I had five more minutes to collect myself, and that was a good thing, or I would have started my workday giggling like a crazy woman and being completely unwilling to explain my sudden bout of hysterical laughter to my coworkers at all.

Because I am not admitting in public that I ran into a tree branch with my head. The only tree branch. The one I should have seen from a long way away, but didn't, because I was too busy being worried about how I wasn't wearing my glasses and wouldn't be able to see anything.

Oh wait.

I just admitted to doing that in public, didn't I?

Well...

Let's just call it our secret.

Pinkie swear?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Workin' Out

I have not, previously, been much of an "exercise" person. When I say this, I don't mean that I work out every week, but not all that hard, or once a month, or anything like that. When I say this, I mean that my work-outs are so sporadic as to take place every few months or so, and I am miserable afterwards, and I lack the motivation and willpower to keep going.

Every so often I promise myself this time will be different. I buy a video, or a yoga mat, or promise myself I'll go to the gym, or something like that. It never pans out; working out is just so exhausting and painful the next day there's never been a part of me willing to deal with that quite long enough.

Well, the end result of such an attitude is that the shape I am, which is definitely a shape, is not the shape I want to be.

I don't look at the scale. In high school I let myself care about numbers and pounds and what happened was that I became pretty disordered in the way I ate and looked at food and I don't think it's healthy to be that person. At this point, we don't even own a scale. I hate them; I get obsessed with the numbers too quickly, too easily. I try to think about the food I eat in terms of what it gives me; how much calcium is in a glass of milk, not how many calories. How much protein is in my scrambled eggs at breakfast, not how much cholesterol.

It's too easy to make that my entire relationship with food, and it's not really fair to myself.

The truth is that I've always mostly just needed to exercise. But it has been a Herculean task convincing myself to really just buckle down and do so.

This apartment complex we've moved into has a fitness center. It's a medium-sized room, with two treadmills, a stair-stepper, a kind of weird hiking-skiing looking thing, and a bunch of weight machines.

What I have done for the past three days is make myself spend at least 40 minutes attempting to exercise there. I have managed it, every day, for three days.

It is a testament to my sad lack of exercise that this is actually an accomplishment for me.

The first day was sweaty and awful and my legs hurt afterwards and I kind of curled up and was a bit of a whiner about it. The second day i took Jason and we mostly focused on weight-training, because Jason can help me with that. Today I was by myself again, and I can feel a loose discomfort in my legs. They're going to hurt when I'm at work tonight.

But then I thought, if I keep this up, maybe I can lift more weight in two weeks than I can today. Maybe if I keep this up, I can run for longer periods of time before I collapse in a thoroughly unattractive mess on the floor. Maybe I can climb higher, hike longer, have more energy, feel less guilty on days I am mostly lazy.

I am attempting the power of positive thinking, and trying to keep in mind that there are people, people I know even, who do this because they enjoy it. Because it's fun for them. Because it's a stress relief. Somehow, they got to a place where the way their legs feel about doing a mile on that skiing-hiking thing isn't a torture that would induce them to confess to witchcraft if the Spanish Inquisition got curious about it but an actual positive experience for them.

I am told the secret is to just keep doing it. Just keep going, just keep working, just keep your heart rate up, just keep on keepin' on.

They tell me this.

I suspect they are telling me this so I will keep it up in search of some mythical land of endorphins and strength I may never reach.

I am told day three is the hardest, when you are just coming out of having basically not worked out at all beyond the simple walking and occasional hiking you like to do. They tell me this.

I suspect I am being lied to, and that several of the days ahead will constitute the "hardest" in my mind.

Nonetheless, I have a goal in mind, and I plan to reach it. Right now, it is to work out for seven days straight. After that, it will be to manage to work out for two weeks straight. So on and so forth. Bit by bit, week by week.

I want to be stronger than I am, I want to run farther than I can, I want to stand the humidity with tempered steel instead of turning into a wilting, sweating blade of grass.

I am told exercise eventually becomes an enjoyable pastime. I will regard this advice with skepticism until such a time exists for me; for now, it's a long, slow slog towards my goal.

Still.

I'll be really proud of myself if I can accomplish it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ow.


This is our apartment complex's little manmade pond. It's a retention pond, but they've dressed it up to look very pretty indeed with that fountain in the middle and a little deck seating area. There are benches all around under the trees and a small group of ducks (what do you call a group of ducks, anyway? A flock?) that make their semi-permanent home there. I've even seen geese.

I am tremendously out of shape and I am still working on getting back into a shape I like. Today I spent an hour in the apartment complex's complimentary fitness center, although I would only call about 45 minutes of that hour anything remotely resembling exercise.

Now I am waiting for my husband to feed me! I feel like this is becoming a theme. I promise I cook for him, too, it's just that I'm a whole lot more excited about stuff he makes than the stuff I make.

My legs hurt. Do you know how much my legs hurt? I don't think you do.

A lot.

That's how much my legs hurt.

Now to go back and do more cardio again tomorrow.

I have the least exciting life ever, I'm sorry. Tomorrow promises excitement; dinner with the in-laws and Jason's cousin Monica is in town! And his little sister Hunter is about to make her big foray into college and (semi) independent living. I remember how worked up I was leading up to my move-in date, so I imagine there will be a lot of excitement tomorrow night.

We're going to see Eat, Pray, Love as well.

I will now rest these aching legs of mine in the time-honored tradition of curling up with a book. In this case, I think the book that will gain the honor will be one of my old favorites, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

Ow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Homestead Feelings

Last night, we got a little domestic and 'creative'. I wanted Irish Soda Bread and accidentally made too big of a batch, so we split it into two smallish batches; one traditional (above), and one... a little more interesting.

Onion in the dough, garlic sprinkled on top to roast and dehydrate and become little pops of flavor.

Hot out of the oven, slathered in butter, proof indeed that sometimes I can cook.

The best part about soda bread is its simplicity; to make traditional soda bread, all you need is buttermilk, whole-wheat flour, a little salt, and baking soda.

Delicious.

Add in some Teavana's Spice of Life blend (a gift from my family, who have great taste in teas) with a little half-and-half, quite a bit of milk, and honey for sweetness...

It was the most deliciously simple late-night supper I've yet had.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gainfully employed


This is my new doormat, a present from my husband's aunt. You can tell I Have Arrived, as they say. I feel like a giddy tourist. I suppose I still am a giddy tourist.

I like that word.

Giddy.

Today was also my first day of gainful employment in some months. I am going to be making coffee drinks and serving food to people. Today I mostly just filled out forms and watched an incredibly enthusiastic DVD about my job. It was... cheerful.

I am very tired, and not feeling particularly detailed when it comes to describing anything at all. You'll have to forgive me this lapse in my usual overly rambling self. Also my lapse in the book questions. It's been a bit hectic the past couple of days, and my brain's been a bit frazzled. I'm going to do two days' worth later tonight.

I've got a piece of writing in my mind sort of begging to be released, so I might get to work on that. You know what I would love? To be a writer.

Ah, daydreams.

This is what color the soil is here. Reddish, sandy, clay-like in some places. It's still a bit of a surprise to me to see huge patches of this rusty red gleaming at me from hillsides where nothing is currently growing.

That, and the kudzu. I'll have to get used to both of those things.

Red dirt, kudzu, and the way the roads aren't really even remotely flat anymore.


Hills, as far the eye can see. Well, the eye certainly can't see nearly as far as I was used to, since there are those hills...

I am now going to gratefully allow my husband to feed me and veg out in front of the TV.

The TV with cable.

I shall now do the dance of Food is Done!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Downtime & Delicious

My cat in her new favorite home behind the blinds and I bid you good morning.

I'm not going to do the question for the 30 Days of Books today because it's not a question I found I could give any real answer to. The question was "Your favorite scene?" and honestly, that's just begging for a two-hundred-way-tie and I'm not sure I can pull off that much descriptive effort.

Let's just pretend I did day 9, okay? If we all pretend, it's like I really did. In any case, I'll pick back up with Day 10 tomorrow.

In any case, I have two things for you today; good news and a good recipe.

The good news is that I am officially gainfully employed here in Greenville! It's a part-time job, so I'll be keeping my eyes out for a second one, but I'm really excited to be already starting work on Monday. I've been here a week and I've got a job! So, you know. I'm dancin' around when it comes to that.

Now we just have to work on finalizing stuff with Jason and we're both set to be settled here.

In other good news, I have a new welcome mat! My husband's aunt Hope stopped by with her girls to give us a housewarming present, and it's a welcome mat with the palmetto and crescent moon South Carolina thing on it. I feel like such a thrilled tourist, but I really like it.

Yes, I feel the welcome mat is important enough to mention.

Don't judge my happiness.

I said I had a good recipe, and I certainly meant it.

And so!

Basil Chicken on Rice


What You Need :
3 cloves of garlic
3 green onions
2 jalapenos
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 package of chicken, breast or tenderloin
Roughly 4 cups of white or brown rice
4 or 5 leaves of fresh basil
1 tablespoon or more, to taste, of fish sauce
About 1/2 cup of water, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste

On to Creation!

First, take a small saucepan and fill it roughly just under halfway with water. Set this on to boil. While you're doing that, dice your garlic and green onions. Dice your jalapenos (Jason removed all the seeds and our dish really wasn't very spicy at all; next time we'll leave some seeds in) and set those to the side. Slice your basil into long, thin strips and set those aside as well.

Pour your olive oil and chili oil into a medium-sized saucepan and heat up. When the oil is a good temperature for cooking, put in your garlic and green onions. Cook for a minute or two, until the green onions have gone a little translucent in their white parts and the garlic is especially fragrant. 

When your small saucepan boils, take the lid off and add in enough rice that it just sits above the water when you pour it in. Stir, then set on to simmer and replace the lid.

Add in your chicken and begin to get it cooking. Now I was wanting to make a sauce that would go over my rice as well, so once the chicken had really begun to cook, I added about half a cup of water into the pan. Add your fish sauce and stir around. The air will smell quite fishy at first, but I promise, it goes away and it really makes this dish amazing.

Stir your rice. Replace lid. The rice will need to simmer for ten minutes or so to really fluff up.
Once the chicken looks white (but not done just yet), add in your jalapenos and continue to cook. Once the chicken and jalapeno and everything are nice and cooked in together, and your water has created a 'sauce' at the bottom of the pan, turn off your heat, put on a lid, and allow to sit until your rice is finished.

Once your rice is suitably finished, take your strips of basil and add them to the chicken, along with salt and pepper at this time. Stir around until the basil is thoroughly wilted.
Add rice to your bowl, put chicken (and a little sauce) on top, and enjoy!


Oh man. So good.
I think it would easily serve about four, since we definitely had leftovers for the two of us. 

Man, now I want to make it again because I'm thinking about it.

Today's plans involve lurking around the house while Jason is off at the lake with his dad and working on getting our bedroom a little less... explosion-like. Possibly braving the coffeehouses of the great outdoors just to see if I can drive there on my own and back without Jason giving me directions. 

We'll see.

If I don't come back, avenge my death.

Friday, August 6, 2010

30 Days of Books, Day Eight

Day 08 - A book everyone should read at least once

This answer, to be terribly honest, will be incredibly United States-centric, because I think both of these books should be read in every single United States history class being taught in this nation.

One of the issues with history is that we are rarely given straight facts; we're usually given a few facts in every story and then an incredible dancing interpretation based on the current ruling politics in the nation or the textbook industry. This means that schoolchildren in this country learn so many completely untrue things about history that the first year of any history major's college career is spent breaking down all those lies and teaching them that, first and foremost, about 75% of their history textbook is either a lie or an elaborate fabricated interpretation of a truth.

DISCLAIMER: Some people may consider a discussion on the faults of the textbook industry in America overly political on my part, since I run this blog almost entirely as a non-political thing. I am making this small exemption here because I feel these books are just that important. For your comfort, however, I will provide a jump.

Click 'Read More' to see my answer.

It's like progress

Getting to know your new area a little better by going out to eat with a friend counts as progress, right?

I'm marking it down as progress.

Just try and stop me.

We wandered past the water thundering down, and little kids running through the jets of water coming out of the floor, a kind of incredible wading pool. Some of the kids were in swimsuits, this joy planned and executed, but most of the kids were just in their clothes, with parents standing nearby who looked alternately pleased with their kids' happiness and concerned as they tried to remember if they had a towel or something for their kiddos to sit on.


I stood on a bridge by the falls, which I always note as a little accomplishment; my incredible fear of heights means that I can usually manage it for about a minute or less.

But the falls are so pretty!

I tend to just ride the adrenaline rush and then walk very quickly off the bridge again.

At a little restaurant just off the falls, Jenn and I ate fried green tomatoes; a southern delicacy I must admit I have never had, especially not with pimento cheese sauce on top. The batter was perfect and crispy and while I'm not the biggest fan of tomatoes, these were delicious.

For supper Jenn had a burger and fried while I had a crab cake sandwich and fried; gettin' all my southern stuff in, as Jenn said. I don't have any pictures of it, because I was so ready to scarf it down I didn't remember to take any, but trust me; quite tasty.

Then to O-CHA for bubble teas! In Carbondale, there was a little hole-in-the-wall bubble tea place run by really nice Taiwanese folks that made the best bubble tea I'd ever had; in fact, QQ Bubble Tea is what introduced me to the concept. It was a year or so after I got to college that I discovered bubble tea stores were popping up all over the place.

I had 'Thai milk series' flavor with tapioca bubbles, which tastes a little like Thai traditional tea, but a little more fruity than that. Very sweet and fresh-tasting.

That is Jenn's adorable little South Carolina purse; that's the state's "image", the palmetto tree plus crescent moon.

Now I contemplate coffee and breakfast, but I keep thinking about those fried green tomatoes.

And the cat keeps trying to think of a way to get outside and eat the birds that landed momentarily on our deck.

She has a lot of dreams, this cat of mine.

What is everyone else doing this morning? What are your plans for today or for the weekend?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

30 Days of Books, Day Seven

Day 07 - Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise

Lying as "romantic" and driven by love.

There are rather a lot of books I liked otherwise who employ this tactic. One of my friends who is doing this meme had much the same response and it's kind of gratifying to have read it. This drives me up the wall, and sometimes is basically an excuse for lazy writing.

Even when it's not, it's annoying and mostly pointless. 9 out of 10 of these books, honesty would have gotten the same thing done and more believably, too, without sacrificing the overarching plot and storyline of the book.

Instead, they lie. They lie up and down and sideways and backwards and eventually it all comes to light, as lies are wont to do, and after some little tiff, all is forgiven, and it's a sign of just how much that person loves the other one, they were willing to lie to them for their own good!

Blegh, no.

Although it's not a plot device, another thing that drives me crazy is the excusing of borderline or outright abusive behavior in men in a lot of young adult as well as adult books. It is not normal for your boyfriend to take apart your car's engine so you can't go see your male best friend because he is jealous. It is not normal and it is not attractive or "a sign of his love" for him to be calling fifteen times a day to check on you. That stuff is scary.

And I'm seeing it in a LOT of YA books right now.

I'm guessing it's the Stephanie Meyer effect; Twilight got so big people are aping everything she did hoping to have the same success.

This worries me, though. Normalizing that kind of behavior is not a good thing.

So, yup. Day Seven.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Can't take the country out of the woman

Even if you transplant her into this pretty, sprawling city.

I've been driving a lot; most of where we've needed to go has been up and down Woodruff Road, one of the main roads around here and an incredibly busy one. I've driven to a bookstore, Wal-mart, gas stations, all kinds of fun stuff. We turned the truck back in slightly ahead of time, it's all going fairly well so far.

Our apartment is still a mess, so we're working on that. But we've made some progress!

Well, we went out and bought bookshelves, as our previous college-kid particle-board bookshelves simply could not make the move without being absolutely wrecked.

We do not miss them.

So now we have pretty brown bookshelves, and I managed to get about half our books onto them (we have so many books, let me tell you this. So. Many.). We have some wall shelves we'll put up soon and then I can hopefully get the rest of the books on those and get all these boxes taken care of.

We still have to figure out which box the canned goods are in! We've been so busy we haven't really looked hard enough.

So! Progress looks like this:


 See? Pretty pretty cherry-style wood. And yes, sigh, those are Longaberger baskets. I'm not even done: I have three more I need to find places for. And I've been eyeing a few on the website.

Proof positive that I am turning into my mother. I'm actually okay with that. My mom has awesome baskets.


Another view, in which you can see all the empty boxes the books were in! Also on the TV is a painting my little niece did for me. I think it shows some clear Modernist talent. Give her time; she'll be a sensation.


Anthony Bourdain, zombie books, Simpsons books, and two books on plague: one specifically on the Black Death and one just about how epidemics have affected history. These are some of my favorite things.

Yes, there is clearly something wrong with me. But they're next to the cookbooks! That's normal, right?



Cookbooks, some of our favorite books, baskets, and my tigers.

More books! The vase with flowers in it is from my wedding: my mother still has a bunch and my mother-in-law has some, too. I like to keep them out where I can look at them and remember just how hot it was and how good a glass of cold wine felt at the reception.

A box of shells, rocks, and assorted little fiddly bits. The shells are almost entirely from my first trip to Garden City Beach with Jason when we started dating, the marbles are from a jar of marbles my late grandmother gave to me, that little flower-box in the back is from my Great-Grandma Bicknell, up front is a red-and-black petrified wood piece that my childhood best friend gave to me after her visit out West when we were kids (see, Rikki? Still have it). The geode that little black bear is sitting in is from a trip to Turkey Run, Indiana with my best friends when I was a young teenager in which we discovered geode rocks and had a great time breaking them apart... and giving me a hideous red sunburn on my back.

Seriously, it goes like that for a while. I keep a lot of things because they have stories attached to them.

Flower from the vase, close-up.

Charles de Lint and Gone With the Wind, on the top of the bookshelf next to Jason's James Bond books.

Some of my kids' books on this shelf. I have quite a few Madeline L'Engle books, obviously The Neverending Story and the Giver are big ones, my exactly one Lloyd Alexander book (I'm working on it!), and the Momo book my friend Tea from NYC got me because she is wonderful.

My North America's Forgotten Past collection. It's about half a shelf, and about to take up more if I buy the hardcover of the new book today. Which I just might.

Might.

If I'm very, very good.

So this is our progress, or at least some of it, thus far.

Today I've got an interview (wish me luck!), we need to go talk to some people about Jason's job prospect, and then I plan to come back here, relax, and do a bit more unpacking.

This morning, I "slept in" for the first time in over a week. And by "slept in", I mean, "did not wake up to an alarm". I still woke up at 8 AM like usual, but I woke up on my own. It was pretty much lovely.

Tomorrow, I plan to do that exact same thing again.

Oh, what lofty ambitions I have.

Back on the 30 Days of Books Horse: Day Six

Yeah, we're settled enough that I feel comfortable starting this up (and hopefully finishing it this time) again! Also most of our books are now visible to me and not packed in boxes, so I can wander over and look if I can't decide what the name of something I'm interested in was.

Day 06 - Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time

Because we already answered the 'your favorite book' question, I'm going to go with 'your favorite book of your favorite series'.

I've already discussed my mad love for the Gears and their North America's Forgotten Past series. Indeed, today I may be buying their newest book since I realized the Greenville Barnes & Noble has it in, when our Carbondale store didn't.

Just remembered that the Greenville stores are our stores now.

Hee.

It's pretty hands-down my favorite series. So, my favorite book of this series...



People of the Fire.

The story starts off about a boy, Little Dancer, whose world is torn apart by essentially a mix of fate and the malicious, disease-like influence of his tribe's Dreamer (essentially, priest/shaman), who is a hollow man who uses his power over the people of the village to hold them in an iron fist, all while the famine grows deeper, the drought steals all the water, and the People are dying.

After a terrible tragedy befalls his mother at the hands of the Dreamer, the boy is given a choice: to right the wrongs the Dreamer has created (and become a man called Fire Dancer) or turn his back on Power and live in a more comfortable ignorance, but at least know he could have all those things he has always dreamed of: stability, a wife, perhaps children, a life not rent by constant acts of Power.

Of the whole series, I maintain that two of their earliest books are their best. This one, and People of the Wolf, the first book in the series, are still my favorites. People of the Fire is some of their best writing; the drama and worry and anxiety crackles in the pages, the people are fully fleshed out human beings, even the evil Dreamer Heavy Beaver has motivations and plans beyond actual evil, a fleshed-out history, and the sense that his story really did begin before the events of the book.

Little Dancer is a great main character, and we see him grow from boy to man in a wholly believable way. His character is deftly written. Tanager, a girl from a nearby tribe who also becomes very important, is one of my favorite characters of the series as well: defiant and fiery, she is known for her speed and ferocity in battle and is an incredible warrior. We see her grow from girl to woman in a way that made me want to cheer her on.

So, in a shorter entry than the last few (hey, I'll get back into my stride!), but at least I am getting this set up again!

Back in the saddle, as they say. The saddle of literature.

They...

they don't really say "back in the saddle of literature". I made it up.

I kind of want to call my collection of books "the saddle of literature" now, though.