Simple Meals

I love to cook, but sometimes it does get to be a chore… all the prep work, the actual cooking, and then the cleanup. So I was delighted to find this list the other day…

101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less

Some of the ideas are great and I can’t wait to try them. I’m thinking these will be good for lunches, too. Often I just take a quick break in the middle of the day to have a bite to eat. One of my favorite quick lunches is “Cheesy Rice Stuff”. I heat some coconut oil in a pan and throw in a bit of garlic and onion. When that’s soft, I add some brown rice and a handful of mozzarella cheese and stir it until the cheese melts. Drop in some chopped parsley, roasted red pepper and salt, and it’s lunch! Mmmmm.

The Bathroom Diaries

I love to travel, and found this site which could be very useful on the road… The Bathroom Diaries. They have a great database of bathrooms around the world – rated for cleanliness, safety, and handicap access. This would be great on a cell phone (if I had one hehe) but also nice if you’re able to plan ahead. They even list the bathrooms in Antarctica!

Let’s Have Another Tea Party

Happy Independence Day! Today is the day we celebrate our independence from Britain and her king. I propose we get rid of another King George. But we shouldn’t wait until December… we should do it now. I could go on and on about the illegal and just plain strange things our king has done but I won’t in this post. It’s a day to appreciate our great country – it’s the best in the world! I’m lucky to live here and I show my appreciation by paying my taxes and especially by voting. Voting is a very important civic duty every citizen should fulfill. I think things would be different, and better, if citizens paid more attention to what our leaders are doing. Anyways, Happy 4th of July!! Hope you had a wonderful day. 🙂

Pucker Up, Baby!

Mamoncillo fruitTo keep life interesting, I like to try all kinds of food. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t! 🙂 This week’s adventure is a package of Mamoncillo fruit from the produce department. As I was checking out, the cashier asked me, “What is that? I never heard of that before.” I shrugged and said I didn’t know, but I was dying to find out. So right there at the checkout, I poked a hole in the saran wrap, took one out and tore open the skin to reveal what looked like a lychee fruit (it turns out they are related). I popped it in my mouth to have a taste, which I would describe as very mild and kind of like an orange. There’s not much pulp in there – it’s mostly seed.

I did some research to see what I could do with them, and found that most people eat the pulp and then toast the seeds, like sunflower or pumpkin seeds. So I’ve been diligently sucking the pulp off, scraping off every last bit with my teeth and fingernails, and saving them so I can toast a batch to see what that part tastes like. I tasted a raw seed and it was mealy and kind of woody. Here’s my seed collection so far (I’m about halfway through):

Mamoncillo seed collection

Also in the picture is my rock collection and a picture taken of Trav and I a few months after we got together. Anyways, I’ll report on the toasted seeds when I make them.

Oh and the subject of this post is due to the legend that girls in the Caribbean learn to kiss by eating this fruit! hehehe

Latest project completed

Aunt Susie's Jewelry BoxRecently I finished another embroidery project… a jewelry box for Aunt Susie. I made it as a “welcome home” gift and it was supposed to be done by the time she got out of the hospital but as usual, it took more time than I thought so I just gave it to her last weekend. Just in time, too, because she left for Michigan this past Wednesday. This project was a bit of a challenge, getting the different items placed just right inside their assigned squares (apparently my math skills aren’t what they used to be!), but that’s the great thing about making your own designs… even if you mess up you can adjust things so it turns out good anyway. In this case, I was left with a bit too much space under the top row, so I filled it in with the ivy stuff. And wouldn’t you just know it, that was the part Aunt Susie liked best! Each item in the design was chosen for a specific reason… the duck is for all of the birds and other critters she has loved. The gingerbread man is for all of the delicious goodies she likes to bake, and the candy cane is for her favorite holiday (she goes nuts for Christmas!). The flowers are for the beautiful gardens she creates (her flower gardens here were the talk of the neighborhood – people would route their walks past her house just to see the pretty flowers), and the bear is for all of the crafts she likes to do (she’s always knitting, sewing or making something).

Inside Aunt Susie's Jewelry BoxHere’s the inside – the cloth was folded over to hide the back (I’m not good at making the backside nice yet) and included a little message with the date and everything. For this project, I experimented a bit with natural dyes… the purple heart was made from white floss dyed with blueberry skins, and the light brown part of the bear was made with onion skin dye. I really liked that part, though I did discover that yellow floss and blueberry skins do not make green floss. 🙂

South of the Border

At the beginning of June, we traveled to Virginia for Bleys’ graduation. It was a fun trip and we’re very proud of Bleys for doing so well in school.

South of the BorderOn the way back, we stopped in South Carolina at a place called South of the Border. They have all kinds of crazy billboards for quite a ways out, so by the time you get there, you just have to stop and see… on I-95 just south of the North Carolina border. It’s a huge complex of stores, with a hotel, several restaurants, goony golf and I’m sure lots of other things we didn’t see. I got the impression you could buy pretty much anything you wanted there! Plus there’s a giant sombrero which serves as a lookout tower (next time I stop there I want to go up in it).

We got out to stretch our legs and look around a bit, and found the store “Hats of the World”. What a fun place! They had these great tye-dye hats but my darn head was just a little too big to get one on (that actually happens more often than I would like hehe). But anyways, we had a good time trying on various hats. I think Trav would be a very good actor – he was able to take on each hat’s persona the moment he put it on. Below you’ll see Senor Trav preparing for his siesta!

Senor TravWe also ate lunch at a dumpy little fast food place. The food was OK (I had a corn dog, yum!) but the ambiance definitely left something to be desired. After that we shopped a little more, bought some candy, and hit the road again. Oh and I got a rolled penny, my favorite souvenir!

The rest of the ride home was mostly uneventful, except for a crazy lady at a gas station where we stopped. She got out of her car asking for help because she was lost, and then she started screaming and crying and carrying on about people dying and all kinds of babble. A guy there was trying to help her, but I think he was only just a little bit more sane than she was. Scary.

Scary, but also interesting. I’ve been reading a book called Social Intelligence, and one of the main points of the book is that emotions are contagious. Being within range of that raving lady’s emotions definitely had an affect on me… not a lot, but enough to notice. The book also says it’s instinctual to want to help someone in need, so I asked Trav if he was compelled to help her, and he said yes, up until the moment she started screaming. Then he just wanted to get away from her (like we all did!). Smart to want to get away from something that could be catchy, like a cold.

The book also goes into great detail about the brain’s chemical and structural changes during and after interactions between people. Apparently our brains are pretty flexible in the connections built by neurons, and they are constantly being reshaped by our experiences. And the more positive interactions we have with other people, the better our brains and bodies age. There’s lots of other good stuff in there, I’ll write more as I read and digest.

Natural Hazards

Here we go with maps again! Here’s a really neat site which shows pictures of recent natural events around the world, like fires, drought, volcano eruptions, stuff like that. When those big fires in Georgia were happening, we got smoke from them for a few days, with one of them having smoke so thick it was like walking around in fog all day.

Currently I’m reading a book named “The Secret Life of Dust” and it’s extremely interesting. Dust holds many answers to the past, such as what the climate was like at a particular time. The author attempts to estimate just how much dust is in our atmosphere, and the suggested answer is just amazing… 20 to 30 billion tons of dust swirling around the planet at any given time. And it doesn’t stay just in one area – dust from the Sahara can be found on every continent. The west coast gets polluted dust from China and the east coast gets it from Europe. It’s just one more example of how we’re all connected and that all of us need to pitch in to take care of the planet.

Kitchen Gadgets

I love to cook, and I love to buy things to make cooking more fun, easier, and better. I was talking with my mom about our quest for the perfect spice rack, and she told me about a really neat site – This site sells just about anything you could want in the kitchen! They also have great information about what all those gadgets do, which is a good thing, because sometimes I look at stuff on there and go “What the f#@% is that for?” And they very helpfully explain that a Cazuelas is a glazed terracotta cooking dish that gets better the more you use it. Who knew?

We’re looking for a new spice rack because our spices are getting totally out of control. The spice cupboard is full, and so is the area next to the stove. I counted 31 different spices between the two areas, so we need a 32-jar system. Whew! Someday we’ll get it all fixed up. For now, I’m just happy we’ve expanded our repertoire of recipes. We’ve been working on our recipe site a little bit, too. The other day, Trav created a supper dish that has become one of my top three meal choices! It’s Taco Mac and Cheese and it has all of the yummy taste of tacos but without the mess. Mmmmmm!

Turtles Galore!

Today we did a little survey of the back yard, before mowing for the first time this year, and found we have 7 active gopher tortoise holes… 2 really big ones, 4 medium size ones, and 1 small one. I had seen the small hole the other day but because it had grown over a bit, I didn’t think it was being used. But when Sadie brought us a little female turtle, we took her to the small hole and in she went! We think we have a total of three turtles living in our yard. Really neat! Here’s a picture of one of the holes we had a few years back.

Gopher Tortoise hole The tracks going out of it are from the turtle dragging its stubby little legs along. They can actually move pretty quickly when they want to… but mostly they just plod around the yard, munching grass.

The sand pile in front of the hole is called the apron, and female turtles lay their eggs in there, just a few inches under the sand. The little turtle we found today is female – males have a dent in their plastron (the shell underneath) – hers was smooth.

Sunlight Map

I just love maps. Maps for driving, maps for finding fun places to go, maps of the world. Old maps, new maps, all are interesting. Recently Trav’s brother gave us a hurricane tracking map (thanks, Mike!) but I hope that’s one gift we don’t get much use out of. Anyway, I found this really neat web page – World Sunlight Map. It shows the parts of the earth currently in shadow, in near-real time. Neat!

Go, Bunny!!

Trav found a really neat video today! It’s so true how bunnies are sproingy. And it goes to show how you can never be sure of the outcome of a fight… just like Matt Serra taking the belt from Georges St. Pierre… and Randy Couture taking the belt from Tim Sylvia. I’m definitely hooked on the UFC… can you tell? 🙂

Surprise Visitors!!

Last night Trav’s brother called and said he would be down for the weekend because he had work in Tampa on Monday morning. Yay!! They’re staying with us. Today we went to Howard Beach in Tarpon Springs. I’m pretty sure I got sunburned, I feel kinda crispy. Here’s the entrance to the beach:

Howard Park Beach

This is a good beach for kids… not too many waves and nice, soft sand. There’s grass just a ways out into the water, which I don’t like to put my feet in… it feels all mucky and nasty between my toes in that mud. Plus who knows what’s lurking in there. I got to use my snorkel mask to explore a bit today – it was nice because the water wasn’t crowded. I saw some snook and other little fish, plus a few crabs and this really strange ropy snakelike slimy thing. I hope I can figure out what that was – I just got some books about seashore life so maybe it’s in there.

While I was exploring, everybody else was busy building a sand castle which got stomped down before we left!

Storming the Castle

After the beach we had a wonderful dinner at Carrabba’s – thanks Mike and Tiff! I had one of the daily special dishes – a giant bowl of pasta with Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, sauce and caprino cheese. It was tasty which is a good thing because I brought quite a bit of it home. Trav had some of his Chicken Bryan left, too. Doh!! I just realized I didn’t collect the bread. I don’t like anything to go to waste if I can help it. Recycling at its finest!

So that was a nice day. Tomorrow everybody is coming over here for rotisserie chicken dinner with tiramisu for dessert. Mmmmmm!

Grappling can be fun!

Lately, Trav and I have gotten into watching Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts, and it made us want to take Jiu Jitsu classes. I found what looks to be a great place nearby called Gracie Tampa. Hopefully the classes won’t be too expensive. If we get to take them, I’ll be sure to report back!!

When I wuz young, har har har!

I thought this was pretty funny – thanks for sending it to me, Dani! Best for people who participated in the 1980s.

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were when they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning…. uphill BOTH ways… yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it!

But now that… I’m over the ripe old age of thirty, I can’t help but look around and notice the youth of today. You’ve got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia! And I hate to say it but you kids today you don’t know how good you’ve got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn’t have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter … with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take like a week to get there!

There were no MP3’s or Napsters! You wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself! Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ’d usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!

And talk of about hardship? You couldn’t just download porn! You had to steal it from your brother or bribe some homeless dude to buy you a copy of “Hustler” at the 7-11! Those were your options!

We didn’t have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal, that’s it! We didn’t have fancy Caller ID Boxes either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just don’t know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn’t have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari Super Pong! With games like Space Invaders” and “Asteroids” and the graphics sucked! Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen forever!

And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

When you went to the movie theater there no such thing as stadium seating! All the seats were the same height! If a tall guy or some old broad with a hat sat in front of you and you couldn’t see, you were just screwed!

Sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 15 channels and there was no onscreen menu and no remote control! You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on!

You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel and there was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning.

Do you hear what I’m saying!?! We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

And we didn’t have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up. we had to use the stove or go build a frigging fire…imagine that!

If we wanted popcorn, we had to use that stupid JiffyPop thing and shake it over the stove forever like an idiot.

That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled.

You guys wouldn’t have lasted five minutes back in 1980!

The Over-30 Crowd


🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Unpleasant but necessary to say

I had an experience today that made me think about my wishes in the case of permanent, irreversible damage to my brain. If I’m not “me” anymore – can’t talk, can’t communicate or take care of myself, please let me go. Don’t place the burden of decision on my caregivers – it’s MY choice to exit gracefully when there’s no hope of recovery.

OK? Thank you.


Finally made it up to Crystal River!

Crystal River State Archaeological SiteAunt Susie and I took a trip up to the Crystal River area to check out the Archaeological Site and Fort Island beach. The Indian site was very interesting, I would like to go back there and explore the entire thing — who wants to go with me? 🙂 The picture to the left is the way to the top of the ceremonial mound which is built entirely of shells. It’s quite steep and pretty tall (that’s a guy standing at the top of the stairs). It’s fun to think about how the Indians lived and wonder why did they do this or that and to notice the similarities as well. Even then, people liked to be buried with their favorite stuff.

The second stop of the day was lunch. We ended up at Applebee’s after picking a random place called Oyster’s. When we walked in to the first place, it smelled of seafood really bad and now that I think back on it, the people at the tables didn’t really look very happy. We looked at the menu and decided it was too expensive and smelly, so we shucked on outta Oyster’s and found Applebee’s instead. Aunt Susie says they have the best raspberry lemonade of anywhere. I’m glad we went there because we had a delicious lunch of shrimp & spinach salad and half a turkey sandwich on ciabatta bread. It was yummy!! Both dishes had bacon, mmmmmm :p~

Next stop was the beach, where there was not one good shell to be found. So instead of picking up shells, I picked up two loads of trash! It’s an OK beach if you just want to lay in the sun or something boring. You have to go south of where we live to have a good beach. Next week, Honeymoon Island!

On the way home, we stopped at a bargain outlet mall place that we’ve been meaning to check out. That was a really good part of the day! Aunt Susie found some nice yarn for cheap, and I found a place to buy a guitar when I’m ready. Plus the guy can get my flute repadded, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I like to get out the flute and play along with my favorite songs, hey it’s instrumental karaoke! hehe

Then we took the extra scenic route home, via Aripeka… Aunt Susie noticed how it’s like stepping back in time when you pass through. It’s just a sleepy little town on the shore with tiny houses tucked amid sawgrass marshes, with lots of sabal palms and bear crossing signs. It’s not a shortcut home, but it sure is a lot prettier than strip malls and endless traffic.

So we had a good day of exploration, can’t wait for next week’s trip!

Yankee or Dixie?

Here’s a fun little test you can take to see what your influences have been, dialect-wise. I scored 42, which means I’m pretty close to the middle of the scale… 0 being Yankee, 100 being Dixie. Neat!

Yankee or Dixie quiz

Thanks again, Trav (who scored 31), for a fun way to spend a few minutes! Love ya.