Saturday, May 31, 2008

Quick and Dirty Dinner

Another Saturday night. Another what-on-earth-will-I-feed-them. . . I'm not a big fan of the meat, as most of you know. They love chicken legs and thighs, but with grocery prices doing what they're doing, I'm adhering to an even more plant-based diet than before. That, of course, makes the meal planning a little more of a challenge. So I cheated a bit tonight and treated tofu as if it were meat. A quick marinade of soy sauce, sake, peanut oil, ginger, garlic and five-spice and we were off and running. Some edamame on the side and the kids should be set for their protein fix for several days. It's just that dinner tends to sneak up on me. Every single day.

A Fond Farewell

Several months ago, I alerted you that my beloved Halfy's Thrift Boutique would be closing its doors. My dear friend Carmen had overextended herself and her time and couldn't bear to give up the next three years of her weekends in order to keep the place up and running. So she cut her losses and broke the lease. I'd been a regular customer there since its original incarnation at the now defunct Mission Mall when it was Second Hand Spot. Shortly before it closed its doors there, I made a promise to Carmen that I'd work in the new store while her mother recovered from treatment for breast cancer (she's well and fine today, thankyouverymuch). So in April of 2006, I began working a couple of weeknight evenings and Saturday mornings. That job brought me more joy than I'd ever experienced at a place of work. And not just because I was swimming in second-hand goodies. The customers were sweet (for the most part) and like me, were shopping for the sport of the hunt -- as opposed to my Williams-Sonoma customers who were generally old-money snoots who demanded their wants and needs be met without pause. We thrifty folk are a patient lot, knowing that any treasure we truly need will most certainly find its way to us in due time.

So for more than two years, I spent my Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and my Saturday mornings at a happy place. It was my escape. My solace. My refuge. I established wonderful friendships with my regular customers. I'll most certainly keep in close touch with volunteer Katrina, co-worker Syd and owner Carmen. All in all, Halfy's brought me joy in a time when my life was taking tumultuous twists and turns. And I am eternally grateful for that.

But today I said good-bye. The store will live on in a different location under a different owner. . .and with a different soul. I will continue my Saturday mornings there until I secure full-time employment (more on that very soon), and I will see my dear regulars. But it will not be my first love, my original Halfy's, my safe haven. And that is alright. Because as we've seen in the last few years. . .I'm pretty good at rolling with the punches.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Traditional Memorial Day Indian Feast

By karmic happenstance, I have discovered and now adore a food blog. It came into my life for a reason, and I don't know quite why yet, but for now it will suffice as a great resource for new recipes. It is 101 Cookbooks. And today I made my first meal from it. Garam Masala Tofu Scramble. One-pan simple. Visually stunning. Truly delicious.

And seeing how simple it would be, I was inspired to make a full Indian lunch today. Red lentil dal, whole wheat chapatis and saffron rice. They all came together in less than an hour and I happily have leftovers to get me through much of the week.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Spatial Relations

Another week has passed and my life seems sillier, more complicated, less sensible and kinda fun. I'm okay with all of these things. It's all part of the reinvention of Jennifer that will carry me quite nicely into my next life.

So I don't know that I've expressed here on Mountain of Laundry that Martin and I agreed to date others way back in March. It was when I realized that he wasn't going to move out in April (or ever, for that matter), that I stated my desire to seek out the attentions of others to fill a massive void in my life.

And within just a few days my friend Katherine and I were out on the town and I was kissing boys. And that led to a date. And not much more from him. Then a bit later, I updated my MySpace page and that got me a whole lotta attention that I didn't know was out there (I swear, I had no idea it was a pick-up joint). The comments and conversations ranged from the sweet to the obscene and I thrived on the newfound attention. I made a coffee date with one gentleman after a few weeks of chat. Nice enough guy. Then a none-too-short meeting with a too-young-for-me guy. And now I'm enjoying the online conversations with yet another man. We met a couple weeks ago for lunch and had a lovely visit. And again on Friday we met for more lunch. He is charming and has a marital history similar to mine -- many years of marriage, adores his kids -- seems we have a lot to talk about. Of course, he doesn't actually live with his ex- and already has a bad post-separation relationship under his belt.

And that got me to realizing that a freshly separated or divorced person is somewhat undesirable to most experienced singles. We apparently bring extra-fresh super-stinky baggage with us, whether we think we do or not.

So what's a girl to do? Go have an intentionally crappy mini-relationship so that she can move on to enjoying dating? Oh, I know what a girl is to do. . .she's to get a job, move out, get a divorce, and then do that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Luck o' the Irish

I have a dear friend who has developed a strong reaction to yeast and sugar. She's a tiny little thing and has lost 10 pounds in the last several months because her diet is so restricted. So I'll be seeing her tomorrow and I wanted to make her some bread. No yeast of course. No sugar either. I knew I'd seen a recipe for Irish Soda Bread in my Eating Well cookbook. I pulled it out to make a trial run. It had added sugar and some currants. I made a batch this morning and it was alright, but not fabulous.

So not to be defeated, I went to my trusty internet for answers. I found a website dedicated to the preservation of the integrity of soda bread. And this is what I found. And this is what I made. And it was ridiculously simple. And ridiculously amazing.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Kicking Myself

So I forgot to tell you that I made a flippin' fool of myself a couple of mornings ago. I headed to the gym after a blowout with Martin about how much I go to the gym. I was just going to run and lift weights. But I checked the class schedule and saw that in just a few minutes, a "Turbo Kick" class was going to start. I'd always thought I'd enjoy kickboxing. So I signed in and hoped for the best. I figured I'd do pretty well. It's just fun aerobics, right?

Let's just say I'm a big fan of cycling class for many reasons. It's not necessary to follow any fancy choreography. The chance of knocking down a fellow exerciser is slim. The giant mirror doesn't magnify each angle of the body without forgiveness. And the likelyhood of falling is sharply minimized. I'll stick to spinning, thankyouverymuch.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Recipe for Success

I had the most fun morning! Far more enjoyable than I'd anticipated. A few weeks ago, I shared with Audrey's kindergarten teacher that I was a crazy bread lady. We agreed that we'd squeeze in a bread making session before the school year ended. So this morning, I loaded up the little red wagon with half of my kitchen (yes, the grain mill took the ride too) and I had more baking helpers than ever. What an amazing class of delightful children! They were politely excited to help and waited patiently for their turns to measure, pour and mix. They all helped knead and we're thrilled to be part of the recipe. When the bread was done and the teacher passed out slices, they quickly devoured the healthy bread and they all took a second slice -- some a third. Then out of the silence, I heard a sweet little voice say, "You make the best bread, Mrs. Diggs." My heart melted. I corrected him, saying, "No, you make the best bread." Then as they were lining up to leave, I received about eight loving hugs from children who I barely know. I felt so appreciated.

Maybe I don't need to have silly crushes on ridiculous boys to get that warm fuzzy feeling after all.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Holiday Blues

Just in case you were wondering, I have similar feelings about Mother's Day as I do Valentine's Day. I just don't understand what it is that makes it special to be herded out to brunch, to be given grocery store flowers and mediocre chocolates just like every other mother. Manufactured gratitude is just that. Kinda like making your kid say he's sorry when he really isn't. It's a nice gesture and all, but fairly meaningless.

And thus ends my holiday rant. I don't have any particularly scarring Mother's Day stories like my V-Day one, but it seems the same nonetheless. Just wait until Christmas. . .

Friday, May 9, 2008

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

I realized that I haven't been blogging much lately about my escapades in exercise. I want to assure you that the addiction is as strong as ever. It just seems a little less out of character for me to be working out, as it was, say, a year ago. So it seems less worthy of my rants.

Spinning remains my drug of choice. The Wednesday 6:00 a.m. class is trying to get the Y to add a Monday morning class. I'd love to get most of my workouts in before the kids rise. That will make for an easier transition when I become a working bloke.

I'm still trying to learn to love to run. It's not going particularly well. A few mornings ago, I did alright for the first few songs. I think music is the key here. I need some hard-pumping I'm-leaving-you-because-you're-a-louse music. I have several songs that have become my anthems of sort, but I just need to compile them into a file on my mp3 player. Surely then I will adore running.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What a Tart!

A couple of weeks ago, I was not being oh-so-very conscientious at the grocery store and didn't realize that I purchased two three-pound bags of apples. Now, usually, that would only mean that I would have four days before I needed to buy more apples, but these weren't big sellers at Casa Diggs.
So today as I tossed a funky apple, the others gazed at me as if to say, "Is that to be our destiny as well?" Naturally, a pie needed to be made. Then I remembered seeing a recipe for a free form tart that looked so amazing. I did utilize a tin, but it still has a very rustic feel. I'll be sharing it with Neighbor Teri and the kids. I'll let you know if it was tasty, but I'll likely keep my lips buttoned if it turns out lousy.
PostScript: It was a delightful dessert. And ridiculously simple -- basically apples, butter and sugar plus a basic crust -- and I think I prefer it over a gooey cinnamon-y apple pie. You should make one. Today!

Happy Anniversary!

If I'm not mistaken, today is a very special anniversary for me. I'm pretty sure that it was a year ago today that I boarded an airplane -- all by myself -- and headed to beautiful Portland, Oregon to finally meet, after more than 10 years of correspondence, my dear friend Alex. It was a life-changing trip in many ways. I knew from the moment I flew over Mt. Hood that I needed to live there. And then I met the most amazing woman and her incredible family. I can't wait for another opportunity to visit and share and shop Trader Joe's.

And yesterday I got the most wonderful news from her. She has finished a book (she's an astounding artist) and it's being published by Blurb. So I present to you Little Deiter's Alphabet Reader. Shop early and shop often. I've already ordered my copy. Maybe I can coerce the illustrator to sign it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Recipe Swap

I haven't hit the grocery store in awhile, so as I realized my sister wasn't going to make it into town in time to take the kids and me to dinner, I had to come up with something out of nothing. I checked the deep freeze and there wasn't much. But the shelled edamame caught my eye. I'd picked it up for a particular recipe. And I knew I had most of the other ingredients. So I was off and running. Again, from Eating Well. Warm Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Tarragon. Didn't have fresh tarragon so I subbed basil which I'm growing. Added onion of course. The big kids ate peanut butter and jelly. Audrey and I enjoyed my salad. Maybe next time I'll add jalepenos.

Friday, May 2, 2008

My Sincerest Apologies. . .

I did it again. It's been crazy and I've gotten wrapped up in jobs and job hunts and little crushes and dinner and laundry and entertainment and shoe tying. So for all of my dear friends who are worried about me, well, your fears might be justified, but all in all, I think I'm doing pretty well.

Job Hunt: still doing it. Looking into temp agencies. Have a couple of tests tomorrow for state jobs in Missouri with SRS. Have a pretty good line on something with United HealthCare (probably cubicle work). Trying to not consider going back into waitressing.

Crushes: naaah. It's just stupid and a distraction. And I keep trying to not be distracted. So I'll pretend I don't have any crushes and you pretend to believe me.

Dinner: somewhere in my job description it says that I have to feed the little ones every day. So I usually do.

Laundry: you know the drill.

Entertainment: Martin bought me a pair of tickets to the Alicia Keys concert that was last night. I never would have spent that money, and we actually had a fight about it (I guess he's mad I bought him socks for his 40th birthday) but I took my good friend Katrina and we had a nice time.

Shoe tying: Audrey tackled it. So now all of my kids can ride bikes and all of my kids can tie shoes. My work here is done.