Thursday, January 31, 2013

State of the Biz
 winter 2013

knocked him over with a feather

Ironically Domozuna, who in life would have the most stable base of support, is the least stable of the dominions, and has been knocked over with a feather. I filed his feet with a nail file, now he stands up a little bit better.

Who wants to be a personal trainer, c.f., who wants to be a millionaire? Ha ha, I do not think that I will be a millionaire in my lifetime. But, but, I feeeeel like a million bucks.

Let us take a moment to remember barfing stars.

Barfing stars is clamspeak for that moment when you take a leap of faith into the terrifying, sparkling unknown. Clamspeak is spoken by me and my shoalmates Biggie and Shanna; clams are introverts who clam up under stress, which is to say, at parties. There is another kind of introvert, squids, who squirt ink. Extraverts are not represented in this schema, extraverts can represent themselves. I say that both defiantly and tenderly, my wifey Helliot is an extravert. Talking to her is like talking to the Rosetta Stone; but that is off the subject, though who am I kidding, so far I have not been on the subject yet.

So anyway just about two years ago I plonked down the money for my personal trainer study materials, then right around this time last year plotzed myself with the realization that I had frittered away nine months making fruitless flashcards and had twelve weeks to cover the remaining eighty percent of the material. I do not recommend this as a study plan. Though I do still refer to my muscles and movement series now and again, though I would like to revise it a bit at this point, because now I know I was right about wanting to teach exercises for movements, and not so much exercises for muscles, and by "right" I mean that's how I do.

Oh then, I passed the test. I took it in record time. Not that anybody was recording the time, so not a record. One thing I do way better now than when I took tests a lot more is use the Force, trust that you know what you know.

Then I thought, I will get a job in a gym, I will fold towels to break into the business. I certainly did not think that I would start my own personal training business, in fact the book said not to. But nobody wanted to hire me to fold towels, I auditioned for a couple cardio kick and boot camp instructor spots and interviewed at a big box gym for a personal trainer position. Which I think I put paid to by answering the question What would you tell a client whose goal was to lose twenty pounds by August instantly with "I'm not really big on weight loss as a goal," which is also how I do. I like to train for, in order, 1) movement, 2) strength, 3) power, 4) body composition, i.e., fat loss, and distantly 5) weight loss. I know people want to lose weight, and weight loss is big business. I want you to want something better than weight loss, that's what I want to work with you on and the whole reason that I barfed up those stars was so that I could build a business based on what I want to work on. Also let me tell you something about fat or weight loss, there be dragons by which I mean you will have to tackle diet and I do mean you. As in, not me. Only you can start forest fires. Ask me about that if you're interested. So anyway I'm still working at my office job two or now I'm thinking three days a week, and at the moment I have a personal client, a partner client, and a group fitness class, and now and again I have a couple of coaching clients, which I didn't even know was, you know, a thing that people would think to pay me for.

Knock me over with a feather, I have a personal training business.

Gah I have so many things in my head about barfing stars, and clams and squids, and the Force, and work-life, and how my five clients fell out of the sky like five Coke bottles, or actually eleven Coke bottles if you count by the body, and it's coming out all crazy and I'm babbling about Coke bottles. But that is why I put this on my list to write about every quarter along with the state of the blog and it's a start, and also is pretty much how it is right now. Not perfectly planned, I mean. Not all under my control. Like organic, but don't be fooled for a second: organic is organized. Have you ever looked at a leaf? I feel like what I'm saying, and which I may say more about, is that so far this isn't so much like forging ahead to make a tree from your idea of a tree, only God can make a tree, but more like forging your idea of a tree from an actual tree...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quinoa with Green Onions, Roasted Parsnips and Mushrooms

quinoa with green onion and roasted parsnips and mushrooms

a bunch of 3-5 parsnips
half a bunch of green onions
olive oil
8 oz button mushrooms
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Scrub and dice the parsnips, wipe and quarter the mushrooms, and toss them together in a baking pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and any herb you want, if you want. Roast until nicely browned, about twenty-five minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it stand. Trim and slice the green onions. When the vegetables are roasted, add the quinoa and green onions right to the baking pan and stir it all together.

Serve with half a roasted sweet potato and a little pat of butter, if you want.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Preserved Lemon and Fennel Slow Chicken

slow preserved lemon and fennel chicken

The aromatic in this slow chicken is preserved lemon, and the feature is fennel though truthfully the lemon pretty much overpowers the fennel. The preserved lemon pretty much fills both the lemon and olive slots from the original Slow Lemon and Olive Chicken recipe, which is very good and I suggest if you don't happen to have preserved lemon on hand.

4-5 chicken thighs
1 preserved lemon
1 fennel bulb

Skin or don't skin the chicken thighs.

Rinse and finely chop the lemon and dice the fennel. If the fennel fronds are fresh, definitely put them in too. Layer the lemon and fennel in the cooker with the chicken: bottom layer of veggies, layer of chicken, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, another layer of veggies, another layer of chicken, and another sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Set the slow cooker on low, and then go away for four hours. When the chicken is done, take it out of the cooker, and at this point you can turn the cooker up to high to reduce the vegetables a bit, and the chicken can cool in a bowl. Take the meat off the bones if you want and portion out the chicken and sauce between your containers.

To eat later: steam frozen vegetables on the stove, reheat chicken in the microwave, and plate them together. Or cook veggies in a casserole in the microwave on high for four minutes, add the chicken, and finish cooking the veggies with the chicken for another 3-4 minutes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

You See Dimensions In Two

m: are you having popcorn for lunch?

p: no, i'm having popcorn for my blog.

p: i had to photograph the popcorn.

p: therefore, i had to make the popcorn.

p: therefore, i had to eat the popcorn.

m: you wouldn't want it to go to waste.

p: yeah, i feel like i have to watch a movie now.

Eggs in Carrot Puree

eggs in carrot puree

Carrot is the other frozen vegetable that works very well for eggs in puree. Corn and peas too starchy, broccoli and spinach too green, and green beans too weird pureed.

two bags of frozen carrot
2 cups almond milk
4 tbsp butter

Put carrot, almond milk, and butter in a large saucepan, bring to a simmer over high heat, and then simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Puree in the pan with a stick blender.

Ladle out three containers for later and put them in the refrigerator.

To serve
two eggs

Crack the eggs right into the last quarter of the puree in the pan and blend it all together with the stick blender. Salt and pepper to taste.

To eat later at home, reheat the puree in the microwave and serve with fried eggs on top.

To eat later at work, reheat the puree in the microwave for 3-4 minutes on high. Then put the eggs in the puree in a bowl and microwave them together for another 90 seconds on high, then whisk it all together with a fork.

Baked Eggs in Carrot Puree

baked eggs in carrot puree

carrot puree
two eggs
Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Spoon carrot puree into a small baking dish, make a hole and crack in two eggs, then top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for twenty-five minutes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bout Day Breakfast
 Charity Round Robin Tournament

bout day breakfast

Broiled grapefruit, bacon, coconut scrambled eggs, pineapple-chipotle guacamole, and OJ

More bout day breakfasts!

Friday, January 25, 2013

She's Got A Busy Mind
  just don't know what you're gonna find

p: oh damn.

p: i should wear brown tights with this.

p: the tights are under pants.

p: they're not going to show at all.

p: nooo, stop muuunt.

p: stop taking off your pannnts.

p: this is sooo unnecessary.

p: omg.

p: tell me i did not toss the brown tights.

p: i will hit myself in the face with a shovel.

p: look in the craft dresser.

p: augh all these drawers are full of sawdust.

p: drawers should be shut before you saw.

p: oh wait.

p: i know where i put them.

Egressions #15-18

So you know I have assigned each meal its protein (will be writing about this in upcoming months), and greek yogurt is my post-workout protein...

15. So many yums. Via Edible Perspective.
16. Or for that matter. Via Girl Gone Country.
17. Jam is a good idea, Sarge sent me this. Via The Kitchn.
18. I might need an ice cream maker. Via Heather's Dish.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cookie Jar

cookie jar


Tea latte is all well and good, but just a cup of tea with milk is a lot simpler. If I want a quick break between washing all the dishes and sorting the laundry, it's too much to drag out the saucepan and stick blender. So instead I just put the kettle on for tea and get a couple cookies out of the cookie jar, as you know, it's also too much for me to bake. I like bought cookies, Biscoff cookies are my new favorites.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bathroom Slate

So I discovered by accident that Pinterest—the main source of the human traffic I get for this blog— couldn't find images on my site, which turned out in the end to be some permissions that I had to switch in Flickr, but in the haphazard course of trying to figure out things technical, I signed up for a Pinterest account. Which you know, uh oh. Anyway I was looking at tattoos on Pinterest and this one woman turned her parents' handwriting into tattoos, and now I totally know I'm getting for my my next tattoo, haha Mom, guess what's going to forever be on my foot.

I say all this because this is a story about my mom. Ha ha.

And I say Ha ha because this is a really awful story about my mom. Most of my awful stories are about my dad, because except for forever on your record my dad was the Ahab and my mom was the ballast of our house. And really, forever on your record is an expression of ballast. She did pull ahead in awful stories, though, after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, four months after my sister was diagnosed with the same one in a million lung cancer. I mean I'm no good at math but I can count, two in five. And also the ballast of the house has cancer, how fucking scary is that and now you know how it is that hardly anything scares me anymore.

So Mom is directing everything from her hospital bed, assigning jobs. My sister is in charge of the hospital bills and health insurance, my not yet ex-husband is in charge of the mutual funds. So then it's my turn, I sit next to her bed and wait for my assigment.

She says, "You should keep your bathroom cleaner."

"Maaa," I bleat. "Are you trying to scar me for life?

My bathroom proceeds to be pretty bad for, oh, seven or eight more years.

So then I have this idea that if I clean one area of the bathroom once a week, say, Saturday before I shower—so like, sink, tub, toilet, shelves—in a month, the whole bathroom gets cleaned, and is being continually cleaned, but it's not a big production.

p: i need a picture frame.
p: i would paint the glass with chalkboard paint.
p: then i would write SINK, TUB, TOILET, SHELVES with white paint marker.
p: then every week i could cross off what got cleaned with chalk.
p: then every month i could erase the board and start over.
m: ...
p: what.
m: i just don't want the bathroom to look like a gas station bathroom.

You know, the sweetie man moved into this apartment five or six years ago, and I think in that time has expressed one opinion about home decor, this opinion.

I hate painting, anyway. I hate waiting for things to dry. I only like the idea of chalkboard paint. Truth be told I only like the idea of chalkboards, too dusty actually. I think what happens next is hexaflexagons, I want to make hexaflexagons and I have this pretty art nouveau paper that I have never touched, so I make art nouveau hexaflexagons, and then I want to make art nouveau everything, and then I think, dry erase marker writes on glass and erases. So then my idea turns into put art nouveau paper where the picture goes in a picture frame, every week write what got cleaned on the glass with a dry erase marker, and every month erase the glass and start over.

Ta da!

bathroom slate

You may be thinking, Isn't that a little bit busy to be able to read what you wrote? Yes, it barely shows up! I mean, you can see what you wrote if you look closely. Otherwise it just looks like an objet d'art, gas station bathrooms do not have objets d'art. Everybody happy!

Even though this is the easiest of projects, I was delayed for a few more weeks thinking that I needed to thrift a picture frame, and then I remembered that I've had my mom's framed artist's bio stored away that I didn't want to throw out but didn't know what to do with. So I climbed up to the crawl space and brought it down, and was happily fitting the paper to the glass thinking the bio could just stay underneath, and then I remembered what room this objet was going in. And if there were such things as magical objects—I was watching Warehouse 13 at the time—this little treasure would be a magical object that would manifest my mom... in the bathroom... which you know, I'm trying, but it's still not that good.

So that's why I stuck the mustache on. So Mom would think, oh, mustache, men's room.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Using Preserved Lemon

preserved lemon

Hooray, my lemons are ready! It worked out fine to cut the lemons all the way through into sixths. How they turn out is the rinds are a bit soft and the pulp is jellyish. Not gelled, I guess a less nice description is mushy.

To use, I fished out six pieces, i.e., a lemon. Most directions I read said to rinse off the lemon, but I always have to find things out myself—yeah, should have rinsed. I made a slow chicken with preserved lemon and fennel, it wasn't over the edge of too salty but it was right at the edge; it could stand to be pulled back a bit. So rinse the pieces, most directions also say to discard the pulp but that it can be used; so I use that. For slow chicken, I chopped the lemon finely and used it for the aromatic. It's very flavorful, salty and lemony. I am going to try it minced for the slow salmon I'm working on.

I put up a jar of preserved oranges, too! They should be ready by Groundhog Day.

Monday, January 21, 2013

16 Ways to Master Your Derby-Life Balance
 what's your derby-life story

This is fascinating advice:

“Whether I spend 80 hours a week working on business or I’m on vacation and give 100 percent of myself to my reflection and refueling, my experience of both are pretty much the same. I make it my priority to narrate the story of what I’m doing, how I’m feeling, and how I’m spending my time in a way that makes me feel good and balanced. The story I tell myself is what keeps me thriving.” -Alexia Vernon, Catalyst for Action
You see how this applies, right? You might be practicing five days a week, or you might not have skated for almost four weeks because you're healing a hip pointer injury. I think it helps to talk yourself through these things. I mean, obviously, hinc illa blog.

The hugest thing to understand is that no stories are absolutely true, therefore all stories are relatively true. I think the thing that trips up most people is thinking that their stories are true, and truth just is. But it isn't, and you can do something about it. If you make up a story for yourself, do you think that makes it not true? That you made it up? Tch, start thinking that you can make up truth. Then look at the stories you tell yourself, and ask yourself if these stories are working for you. And if not, tell yourself a story that works.

I mean, do you get that? It's not about whether your story is true or not, we took care of that; it's true enough. It's about whether your story works or not.

(I am excluding outright pathological lies, like the dude I worked with in the coffee shop who told me that he was a Romanov; that was no skin off my nose, but he also said that he knew how to bake. I came in and the case was filled with beautiful scones, and then I tapped one of them, they were all frozen solid. To this day the picture in my head next to the definition of insanity is that case filled with beautiful frozen scones.)

I honestly don't have access to a complainy story about having to practice too much, I like practice. It's the other thing I have a problem with, not enough. This blog might actually go back to the time, right after I was drafted, when I bruised my rib and didn't want to miss my first team practices and prolonged those bruised ribs for six months. Whereas before break last month I bruised my hipbone, on a Monday, I almost said to myself that I'd see how I felt Wednesday to decide if I would scrimmage Thursday, and like it was so bad that I took off my skates at Monday's practice because I didn't think I could control my leg enough to safely stand in my skates. Instead I said to myself, what world in the universe ends if you don't scrimmage on Thursday? Does your carriage turn into a pumpkin? Do you forget how to play roller derby if you miss one week out of two hundred and eight weeks of practice? Which of those things happen, none of them happen. What happens is, you give your hip the time it needs to heal. Which is the only thing it needs, it will heal if it gets that. And won't if it doesn't. I actually took two weeks off practice and scrimmage, and that led right into league break—so just about four weeks off, the longest break I have taken since I started skating in 2007. Results? First of all, I have a kind of Munchauseny fascination with how the body heals; it's amazing to witness when you let it happen. And when I got back, was I totally out of shape? Nope! I was full of energy, felt better than ever.

And the point of this is not even that it's true that taking some time off will do you a world of good. Because how do you think I would have been if I had been telling myself that I was getting fat and slow for four weeks. Man, I spent that time telling myself that I have some kind of luck of the Irish to get the best bang for my healing buck: buy two and get two free! In fact I highly recommend that story, that you're a lucky duck. I don't think it changes your luck at all, but it changes how you see your luck. Or rather it changes you, so that you can see all the luck in your life. I'm just saying, you go through the world differently when you think of yourself as a lucky person. Objectively you can see that your leg does not work going down stairs and you almost pass out laughing, coughing, or sneezing, and then you get a cold, and you're still thinking, perfect timing!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Winter Pastime Outerwear
 outerwear conclusion

winter pastime outerwear

Here's the blue hat with my dickies jacket! It's a lot better than my WCR hat with this jacket, right? And my orange infinity scarf for when it's really cold, it's hugely thick. For when it's not as cold, I wear my orange Fury scarf that Viral's grandmother knitted for the whole team. Also I don't know if you've seen these, I got blue knit gloves. They're two gloves, blue/black fingerless gloves over blue gloves so I can layer them as needed.

So I'm set for outerwear for the forseeable future:

black leather jacket
mushroom fleece coat
red knit hat black pinstriped scarf
purple infinity scarf
skinny green scarf
maroon armies
red knit gloves
camo and convict hoodies black jersey hats - black jersey armwarmers
Fury track jacket
- black Buffy hoody
- black Spock hoody / black hoody
- black WCR track jacket
black WCR hat black fleece neckwarmerblack fingerless gloves
black knit gloves
orange fleece paws
black WCR dickies jacket blue slouch hat orange infinity scarf
orange Fury scarf
blue/black fingerless gloves
blue knit gloves

Great Scott, Buffy hoody has gone missing. I must have left it somewhere (:[ this apartment just isn't that big, I would have found it by now. Pooh. Oh well, I still have one black hoody too many.

Work Outerwear
Black leather jacket, black pinstriped scarf, and maroon armies
Black leather jacket, red hat, black pinstriped scarf, and red gloves
Mushroom coat, red hat, purple infinity scarf, and red gloves
Black leather jacket, skinny green scarf, and maroon armies

Hobby Indoor Outerwear
Camo or convict hoody, black hat, and black armwarmers

Play Outerwear
Fury track jacket, black hoody, track jacket, and fingerless gloves
Fury track jacket, black hoody, track jacket, WCR hat, gloves, and orange paws

Pastime Outerwear
WCR dickies jacket, blue slouch instead of WCR hat, and blue/black fingerless gloves
WCR dickies jacket, blue slouch instead of WCR hat, orange scarf, and blue gloves

I also have a brown barn jacket that I could wear for fall or spring, and a brown chenille long coat for winter. I almost never wear the barn jacket, but I do wear the long coat with long dresses on occasion. Not too much need for a long or warm coat because I don't leave the house that much to be honest, and when I do I'm only outside for ten seconds between inside and the train and then the train and inside. Or I'm on my bike and riding a bike warms you up, and also snowsuit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quinoa with Roasted Beets, Onions, and Lima Beans

quinoa with roasted beets, onions, and lima beans

I'm revamping my quinoa recipes just a little bit, mostly replacing nuts with legumes. Because I kept not watching and burning the nuts, well Poppy, could you them? No, they are fired and being replaced with things that don't need to be watched.

a bunch of 3-5 beets
an onion
olive oil
a bag of frozen lima beans
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Trim the beet greens and save them for later, or saute them to serve on the side. Or if you've left them in the fridge and they've turned into Grandpa Simpson, throw them out. Scrub and dice the beets, peel and dice the onion, and toss them together with the lima beans in a baking pan with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little bit of thyme. Roast until nicely browned, about twenty-five minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it stand. When the vegetables are roasted, add the quinoa right to the baking pan and stir it all together.

The really new thing this season, actually, is that I like to make up a bowl with half a roasted sweet potato and half quinoa and reheat them together in the microwave with a little slice of butter in the sweet potato. Then I sort of mash it together a little to eat, perfect little bowl of fuel.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Slow Chicken Cacciatore redux

slow chicken cacciatore and green beans

The aromatic in this slow chicken is garlic, a whole head, and the feature is tomatoes. But, sundried. Fresh tomatoes like in the the original Slow Chicken Cacciatore recipe give off too much water in the slow cooker, and actually mushrooms do too. I suppose you could throw some dried mushrooms in here. It's a lot of flavor as is, though.

4-5 chicken thighs
1 head of garlic
1 package of sundried tomatoes

Skin or don't skin the chicken thighs.

Smash, peel, and roughly chop the garlic and slice the sundried tomatoes. Layer the garlic and tomatoes in the cooker with the chicken: bottom layer of veggies, layer of chicken, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, another layer of veggies, another layer of chicken, and another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Whenever you use dried veggies in the slow cooker—I have some dried fruit recipes coming up— you especially want to get them in the path of some meat juices.

Set the slow cooker on low, and then go away for four hours. When the chicken is done, take it out of the cooker, and at this point you can turn the cooker up to high to reduce the vegetables a bit, and the chicken can cool in a bowl. This might be thick enough as is, though. Take the meat off the bones if you want and portion out the chicken and sauce between your containers, minus anything that you eat on the spot.

To eat later steam frozen vegetables on the stove, reheat chicken in the microwave, and plate them together. Or cook veggies in a casserole in the microwave on high for four minutes, add the chicken, and finish cooking the veggies with the chicken for another 3-4 minutes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Eggs in Cauliflower Puree

eggs in caulifower puree

The starting point of this recipe was Salt & Fat's cauliflower puree, which I wanted to sub for the oatmeal in last winter's Oatmeal with Poached Eggs. Pro: half a pound of vegetable for breakfast, what. Con: Kind of a lot of butter, I halved his amount in my version and now it's not too bad. Probably a wash and honestly you know how some sushi is marked CHALLENGING, this might be an acquired taste like that. Though I like it a lot.

two bags of frozen cauliflower
2 cups almond milk
4 tbsp butter

Put cauliflower, almond milk, and butter in a large saucepan, bring to a simmer over high heat, and then simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Puree in the pan with a stick blender.

This makes four servings of puree, I ladle out three containers for later and put them in the refrigerator.

To serve
two eggs

The first bowl is hands down the best, crack the eggs right into the last quarter of the puree in the pan and blend it all together with the stick blender. The residual heat and the blender make a perfectly thick avgolemono-like egg porridge, I guess. Salt and pepper to taste.

To eat later, at home, I reheat the puree in the microwave and serve with fried eggs on top. Also very good.

fried eggs and cauliflower puree

It's trickiest at work using the microwave, I originally wanted to poach my eggs but couldn't get them poach as nicely as they did with the oatmeal. Which is how I ended up with this eggs in puree execution, actually. But anyway, I reheat the puree in the microwave for 3-4 minutes on high, then put the eggs in the puree in a bowl and microwave them together for another 90 seconds on high, and then whisk it all together with a fork. Which is not as perfect as with the stick blender, but still good.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tea Latte

tea latte

I got this idea for this from Meg Gravesdale, hers was called a London Fog and was Earl Grey + 1 Tbsp maple syrup + almond milk I think. It was almost too sweet, she said. I only like a hint of sweetness, and just use a drop of honey myself.

But my main innovation was how to froth the milk, do those stovetop steamers really work? I sort of doubt it, so then I looked at milk frothers and here I already have this stick blender. Well, "innovation," by which I mean I belatedly figured out how everybody else has been doing it.

I mostly don't eat snack snacks, just a post-workout snack that's a meal of its own. For better or for worse though, food gives me pause and sometimes a pause is what I really need—this is for that. I guess this is a drink for when I think, I need a drink. When you just want to stop the world for a second, it doesn't have to be a drink drink. I kind of think that's what I used to snack for. Now I think I know what I'm really after, I can think of better ways to get there.

almond milk
black tea

Measure out half a mug of almond milk, put in a small saucepan with honey to your taste and a pinch of nutmeg, and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile heat water in a kettle and make half a mug of tea.

Froth the milk in the pan with a stick blender, and pour the milk over the tea.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Paper Owls

art nouveau owls

Eeeee look, I made these paper owls from El hada de papel. These were my Xmas tree ornaments, you know that I put that tree up for the past three years with nothing on it all.

Anyway these couldn't be easier to make, they had to be or I would not have made them. You just save up a bunch of toilet paper tubes, I cut mine crosswise in half with an x-acto—wow, is that really how you spell x-acto? I guess so—knife to make cute short owls. Measure and mark halfway all around with a pencil and then follow your markings with the x-acto (so weird) knife. Funnily enough I decided to try these owls on the same night that I decided to try buttered rum, the sweetie man thought maybe that wasn't such a good idea. Of course I thought it was a great idea, he watched me like a hawk and I only nicked myself once.

I've also had this art nouveau gift wrap paper for years, untouched, I've never even used it to wrap gifts. The poppy tattoo I have on my back, though, this is where I got that design, it's William Morris. Anyway I've started to use it to cover my notebooks and other stuff, so I made an owl out of each different paper. I cut strips with my rotary cutter (also drunk, haha) and glued them all around each tube, folding and gluing it under at the bottom. Not at the top though, I just lined the edge of the paper up to the top edge of the tube so as not to add any extra bulk.

Then you just smush the tops of the tube in to make the ears.

I cut the eyes out of white office labels, I have a circle template that I traced the circles with. I stuck them on and outlined them and did the eyeballs with a gold sharpie paint marker.

The wings I made a template out of a business card, a teardrop shape, and cut a bunch of wings out of scrap gift paper. They didn't show as well as I wanted, so I outlined them and did the beaks in silver sharpie.

And that's it, I sat them right on the tree branches. Next year I'm going to make a snowy owl out of an oval kleenex box to rule them all—i.e., for the tree topper. Also I think it's funny that I'm going in for owls just now, it's like being Frodo at the time when all the elves are fucking off to the west.

I put them away in a really pretty glittery silver box that Shanna sent me Xmas cookies (ginjabreads!) in. Until next Winterval! I think next year I will put up the tree on Winterval Advent, where it will greenly stand until I get around to decorations. There will be twenty-three owls plus the snowy owl topper, so maybe I can put one owl on the tree every day starting the first of December until Xmas and that can serve as my Advent calendar?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Slow Chicken Paprikash redux

slow chicken paprikash with cauliflower

I learned a few things about cooking slow chicken from last winter, mainly that IMO the slow cooker isn't for cooking vegetables. It's for cooking meat, or in any case it isn't really for cooking meat and vegetables together. Because meat and vegetables have different cooking times, right? What you get with that is dried out chicken and watery vegetables, it doesn't have to be like that.

So the thing to do is to think about your slow cooker cooking your chicken in this conveniently vegetable-shaped vegetable broth, the veggies are just to sauce the chicken and for the most part you want to stick with veggies with a lower water content. Then you cook other vegetables separately for the actual vegetable portion of your plate, it's as easy as steaming frozen vegetables on the stove or in the microwave and you don't even have to season them—you have chicken and sauce to season them with.

Every slow chicken recipe uses chicken thighs, an aromatic vegetable (onion, garlic, shallot, or leek), and a feature vegetable like bell pepper that works well in a slow cooker. I didn't change this recipe too much from the original Slow Chicken Paprikash recipe, except I added a couple of Hungarian hot peppers because paprikash and the little kick you get is really good.

4-5 chicken thighs
1 onion
1 red bell pepper
2 Hungarian hot peppers

First, you can take the skin off the chicken thighs; the skin is where the fat is, and chicken thighs slow cooked in fat is nom. But, fat. Chicken thighs slow cooked without the skin is still pretty nom, it's up to you.

Slice up the onions and peppers and layer them in the cooker with the chicken, I do a bottom layer of veggies, a layer of chicken, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, another layer of veggies, another layer of chicken, and another sprinkle of salt and pepper. You can also throw in a couple of bay leaves in the veggie layers.

Set the slow cooker on low, and then go away for four hours. Yeah, I know, it's too bad you can't leave it for eight hours so you can cook while you sleep or work. Eight hours is too long, though. So maybe you can start this right after work and it'll be done before you go to bed? And just to get you thinking outside the box, you don't have to eat what you cook that night. You can come home with a burrito, put on your slow chicken, and eat your burrito on cooking night. Just saying.

But anyway when the chicken is done, take it out of the cooker, and at this point you can turn the cooker up to high to reduce the vegetables a bit, and the chicken can cool in a bowl. Or you can just skip that part and just think of your flavoring liquid for what it is, really delicious chicken broth. If you let the chicken cool though, you can take the meat off the bones for easier eating later. But whatever, portion out a chicken thigh per container—I use mason jars now— and divide your sauce or broth between the containers, and voila you have four or five chicken meals for the week, minus anything that you eat on the spot. I actually hardly ever eat slow chicken on the spot, the timing never works out like that; it gets cooked and put into jars in the fridge to grab later.

To eat later, I make up a bag of frozen vegetables. At home I have a really underpowered microwave, it's just as easy to throw them in a steamer on the stove and meanwhile reheat the chicken right in the mason jar in the microwave. Take off the lid, right? Then I plate the chicken and veggies together. I put away a half a bag of veggies per meal, your mileage may vary. At work I cook half a bag of veggies in a casserole in the microwave on high for four minutes, add a jar of chicken and finish cooking the veggies with the chicken for another 3-4 minutes.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Start the Day with Green Tea and Lemon

So this year I'm going to be "hacking" twelve habits per The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg via Unlocking the Science of Habits: How to Hack the Habit Loop & Become the Man You Want to Be by The Art of Manliness, to wit:

You just need to design a cue-routine-reward loop and work through it until a craving is created that drives the loop. It may take some tinkering and experimentation, but with enough patience and diligence, you’ll strike on something that works.
Kind of creepy, you're basically addicting yourself to good behaviors. I don't know whether to say "addiction, but good behaviors!" or "good behaviors, but addiction!" One does not like to think of oneself enthralled, except that I do like to be enthralled. Hello, flow. That speck of the myth of control is just a little fly in the ointment, let me get that ::flick:: you're so much more than just your conscious mind, share the loooad.

start the day with green tea and lemon

The Cue

Our manly friend says that cues for habits fall into five categories: location, time, emotional state, other people, and immediately-preceding action. So that's where you're supposed to look if you don't know what's cueing your habit, say if you're trying to break a bad habit. If you're just trying to set a good habit, you can just pick a cue and see if it works. Which for this habit is easy enough, waking up, and why don't we look at what's associated with that:

  • location: bed
  • time: around 8:00am
  • emotional state: happy
  • other people: sweetie man
  • immediately-preceding action: sleep
I actually am happy when I wake up. I love being in bed, I love being with the sweetie man. Getting out of bed under those conditions is the challenging part, so obviously what has to happen is that he has to get out of bed.

And make me tea!

Ahahaha I know, I am spoiled.

The Routine

After he gets out of bed, I prop myself up on all the pillows and wait for my tea like a princess. Then I drink my tea and publish the day's blog post (and depending, read my reader and feed my feed, er), and then I get up.

Anyway I can see how this little ritual could lose a little of its efficacy and charm if you have to make your own tea, or maybe you are not a princess and feel perfectly empowered to make your own tea. Or if green tea and lemon is too fiddly, maybe just green tea, or just water with lemon, or just water. But basically every habit is formed of an intention ("I am going to start every day with green tea and lemon" or whatever) and then instructions for how you're going to do that, including a list of what you need to make this happen. In my case it was 1) willing boyfriend. I mean, I know some of the things he uses. He has a stock of black, green, mint, and ginger teas on a little shelf insert that he built on a pantry shelf. He keeps the lemon in a tiny mason jar that I got a sample of pumpkin cauliflower puree from Mimi in. Then try it out and tweak what doesn't work like juggling a cup of hot tea and a laptop in bed. That's why I have to do the pillows, so I can put the laptop on my lap and the tea can be put on the stand.

Let me just say in my defense that I could too make my own tea. You know, I used to be able to go out to the living room and drink my tea and write my morning pages on the couch when I used to have the apartment to myself. I could make my own Japanese tea room with tatami mats and incense in the room that I used to use for a closet that now is being used, even in this actually radically feminist household, in the grand tradition of the man having a room of his own. I get the bedroom after he gets out of bed, and that room comes with tea service damn straight.

The Reward

Did you know that you always wake up a little dehydrated? Because you exhale a little bit of moisture with each breath, and presumably you've been breathing all night. So it's not a bad thing to rehydrate a little bit for all the reasons that it's good to hydrate, it wakes up your system, just generally, and specifically your digestive system that you want to be, you know, regular. You get that, right? That waste is what your body doesn't need and wants to get rid of? Just saying, regularity isn't an abstract virtue. But anyway that's why water, and antioxidants is why green tea and also why lemon.

And then mentally or possibly even spiritually, it's this nice pause. Stephen Covey talks about the gap between stimulus and response, and that's where the self is. This green tea moment is like starting the day in that gap where the self is, between when you're asleep and when you're up and going.

So basically, drinking the green tea and lemon makes me feel healthy and calm, and hey, loved. Consider this craving created, Miss Daisy is in the car and going to the store...

Status: ACTIVE

ETA 1/17/13: I'm super sensitive to unwittingly setting unrealistic expectations, kind of related to what the lady says in this post from You Look Fab, which is probably my favorite fashion blog, even though I think she would be aghast if she saw how I dressed; but I do think we think the same, just about different things. Anyway, clearly, the fashion part of this blog is not driven by needing to show you a new outfit every, er, ever, but by actually actively wanting to show me wearing the same damn clothes year after year. REAL TALK.

So I didn't want to leave you with the impression that I start every morning like a perfect Zen princess. "Start the day with green tea and lemon" is the idea, but then I don't try to beat reality into the perfect shape of the idea. Reality takes its own shape, though still connected to the idea. And the nature of an idea is not to take a beating, as Lillian Gish says in The Night of the Hunter, they abide and endure. So ideas tend to be more visible, I would like reality too and its connection to the ideal to be seen. Reality is that I get to be a Zen princess on Monday and Wednesday, but on Tuesday and Thursday squeezing green tea and lemon in the minute between when I wake up and when I have to get in the shower doesn't do it for me, so I just have a swallow of water and hop into the shower, and on Friday and Saturday I'm frazzled and get coffee with milk, and on Sunday we get right up and go to breakfast at Hollywood Grill.

Status, still: ACTIVE

ETA 3/16/13: Replaced this with Start the day with lemon water.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

In Chapter Three Remember
 The Meaning Of Romance

p: do you know what i want?

m: what.

p: i want to make...

m: ...


p: a winterval grimoire.

p: sigh.

m: what.

p: you what what would have been perfect.

m: what.

p: that really fancy sketchbook that i threw out.

p: i thought i was never going to use it.

m: you mean the one in the pile of books that i was supposed to take to the ark?

p: yes.

p: oh well.

p: wait, what?

m: i saved it.

p: you have it?

p: c-c-can i have it b-b-back?

m: well, that's why i'm telling you.

leather bound sketchbook that i am going to make into a winterval grimoire


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Winter Work Outerwear
 mushroom coat and purple infinity scarf

winter work outerwear

From top to bottom:

  1. I'm sticking with my red hat and gloves for work outerwear, which means red and purple color combo. I like it, did I tell you I read this thing about how many colors you can put in one outfit? I love rules, you can put three. Black and white count as half. As somebody who has mostly clung to black + color, this is an exciting step into full traffic.
  2. Eeee, can you see my new hair? This one is called a graduated round, I think I like this one the best so far. I think I get one or two shorter and then Biggie will be done, then what. Back to braids, haha. I kid. I don't know.
  3. Hey oh, I finally lost my sunglasses. I only ever get the cheapest sunglasses because I always lose them, but that was a good run. I decided to go with these ridiculous huge ones from Target. I wasn't paying attention to the price, but it turns out they were four dollars. [ETA: Oh whoop, I found the old ones in my dickies jacket pocket! Now I have two sunglasses.]
  4. I love this scarf, it's so warm and soft.
  5. This is such an old, old coat, the lining is mended on the inside with long underwear. I love it even more this year because it kind of looks like the coat that monkey was wearing in the Ikea.

Directions for purple infinity scarf

two skeins Misti Alpaca Chunky or similar yarn
size 13ish needles

Cast on about thirty stitches and knit in a moss stitch:

row 1: k1, p1
row 2: knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have just a couple feet of yarn left, then cast off stitches. If you can work it out, you might like to end so that both tails are on the same edge of your knitting.

Fold the scarf over itself and flip one end 180 degrees to form a Moebius strip. So now your tails are on opposite edges of the seam, if you did that. It doesn't really matter, though. Using a crochet hook and the tails, join the two edges together so that the tails overlap in the middle if you're coming from opposite ends. Or whatever. Weave in remaining tails, if anyway.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Balance and Core Strength 1
 hourly exercise breaks

workout skeleton 01

PDF version here.

I'm still working out how to write about fitness for this blog in a way that seems meaningful to me. Seems to me, I mean. Well also, meaningful to me. It's not even that it's so much harder to write about process, it's just so much better to teach process in person when you can look and listen and lay hands on folks. I feel like obviously you'd get the most from working with me in person, oh and, I finally put together my services page, then I think next best is videos, MBodyStrength is my favorite for that, and then next best is photos, but you have to start somewhere, so for now I have these workout skeletons. I would like to at least back these up with photos, at the moment you can find photos of all of the above movements in my muscles and movement series.

I said before that whether or not you work out at all, you should take breaks from sitting throughout the day and that hourly, one-minute breaks are as good a starting point as any, so let's pick up from there.

  1. Say to yourself, "I'm going to get up on the hour for exercise breaks." Like, out loud.
  2. Set something to poke yourself on the hour. I set myself reminders on a separate Google calendar, so I can switch it on and off as needed.
  3. The above skeleton is For Form—i.e., you do a set number of reps, i.e., ten, at your own pace with your focus on perfect form. You could also do these For Time, so then you would want to set a timer and do each set of exercises for a minute. I use Timer, but it's less fiddly just to count reps for a short break like this.
  4. But before you make a single move, check your posture! If prolonged sitting has tightened your chest and weakened your upper back, and weakened your abs and tightened your lower back, take a moment to stretch your chest and engage your upper back, and engage your abs and relax your lower back. Keep your upper back and abs engaged through each set.
  5. Just do one set of one exercise on the hour, though you'll do L and R sets for the hip exercises. Through the day that will take you through all the major movements at the shoulder and hip, so you will be exercising b) range of motion at these two major joints, and for the hip exercises c) balance, and remember that all balance relies on d) core strength, and don't forget a) good posture throughout.
  6. And when you sit back down, try not to shlump!

If you're a skater, here are two extras for you. One you can do waiting for the bus or train on the way to work, and the other you can do waiting for the bus or train on the way home.

In between, i.e., on the bus or train, just for fun, try riding hands free! It's easier on the train than the bus, I will tell you that. Be considerate, okay? Don't knock down any grannies. But basically you keep your balance exactly the same, by starting with good posture and strategically engaging your core to keep yourself upright.

You do pretty much want to break up every day that you spend mostly sitting down, and after an initial period of consciously doing this, ideally it'll become second nature and you'll do it without thinking. Because it's a lot to think about every day, and you don't want to burn out your brain on this; the exercises themselves are low-intensity enough that you can do them every day, though. And if you do, you'll be amazed at how quickly you improve. Like I used to not be able to stand on one leg to put on tights, like it didn't even occur to me to be able to do that, and now I'm a total showoff about it, standing on one leg forever like I'm making sure that everything is straight.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

12 Habits

So I liked going through the 12 things happy people do differently, even though I was a bitch about some of them, and maybe it wasn't the best idea to be going through 16 ways to master your derby-life balance, which argh is still going on, at the same time. Only go through lists of twelve things, Munt, one deep thought per month is nice and enough.

So then I thought for this year I would go through the 12 things successful people do differently, because I think I was the most bitchy about conflating happiness and success. If I believe in anything, it's that happiness and success are independent, no really, not connected at all. You don't get one with the other and if you want them both, you have two separate projects on your hands. And I do actually want to succeed, albeit perhaps in the context of a unique definition of success; but success should be uniquely defined, if you ask me.

But then again, I don't want to talk in abstractions. I want to talk nuts and bolts, and maybe apply some of those ideas to actual examples of stuff that I'm trying to be successful at. Because right at the top of the list is Specific:

A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a related specific goal would be, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week for the next 52 weeks.” A specific goal has a far greater chance of being accomplished because it has defined parameters and constraints.
So obviously, "be successful" is a generic beautiful vision, but for me is built from hundreds or possibly thousands of specific action statements, some up and running, some still on the drawing board, and some just a twinkle in my eye.

But I said just twelve. So let's start with twelve this year.

Even better, let's start with one this month.

But let's start that next week, because I feel like this topic needs a little introduction. About how you turn action statements into actual action. To wit, action takes will and willpower is an exercisable and exhaustible resource. Just like your body, you know? You can strengthen your willpower by using it, and that's just how you strengthen your body too, by using it. I hope that seems obvious to you, it's so odd when you come across people who seem to think about training their bodies as separate from using them. Three sets of ten lunges at the gym and three flights of stairs from the subway to the street are functionally identical, right? But also training your body tires you out, and then you need to rest and recover. Or else you'll have a breakdown, you know this.

Another great way to overtrain is to chase after strength and endurance at the expense of form! Are you wobbling all over the place trying to lift a weight that's too heavy for you, or way too many reps than are good for anybody? Dial it back for the love of good movement. Good movement is basically the most efficient way that your body was designed to work, how it naturally worked when you pulled yourself up on your own two feet and toddled your first steps. It's good form, but don't get stuck on static good form. If you practice with good dynamic form, first of all, you can lift more weight for longer, and you can think of this as improving the strength and endurance of all the right muscles or you can think of this as improving the strength and endurance of that movement. Conversely if you practice with bad form, you're setting bad movements. And you're unbalancing your muscles so that some are tight and some are weak, and most of all you're doing more work to get less work done. And you can exhaust your will to train doing that, that's what overtraining is. And you know, that can make you quit. Which is not success, as loosely defined as that is around these parts.

I mean, I can't not say that sometimes the thing to do is quit. Success isn't everything, perseverance isn't everything, nothing is everything. E.M. Forster says in Howards End that there are people who see things steadily and people who see things whole, I will try just in this context to keep a steady eye on success. But I'm just saying, I'm still keeping tabs on all that other stuff with my other senses. So there.

But anyway, lifting weights and getting things done tee em are best accomplished by figuring out and learning the easiest way to lift or do them, and then practicing that until muscle memory or whatever the will equivalent to muscle memory is takes over, and then it's even easier. Which is totally okay if you ask me, I know my goal isn't to make my life harder. I guess I'd say that my goal is flow, and grinding your teeth to get through something is the opposite of that. In addition to not being that into doing very hard things, I'm also not that into doing very big things. You will laugh when you see how small, but small things that you actually do are what add up.

So now we're finally getting to the dragon. Says the girl who was unaware that The Hobbit would be in three parts until the last minute of the first part, augh. Here be dragon: the will equivalent to muscle memory is habit. If you think it's a great idea to host a Hobbit marathon on Xmas Day and a LOTR marathon on NY Day three years from now, here's some more to read and I'll be back on Monday with this month's habit.


happy new year