Sunday, September 29, 2013

A game of shelves

New apartment photos – furnished.


Scroll down for photos of the apartment furnished. The couch needs some batting removed from the back cushions as they're too full, and I need to wash those cases and the rest of the couch (w/ upholstery cleaner to get the smoke smell out), but the bottom cushion covers have been washed.

SONY DSC

I think the poster over the couch needs to be bolder. We need something new for that. That poster might be better suited for the bedroom. I think an ornate mirror would look great, but not sure if that's weird. I know there isn't really a color scheme in the living room. It bothers me a little, but I'm not good at matching stuff & I'm not about to replace furniture because it doesn't match! It's functional, it's comfortable, and it was all free. The only furniture we have bought: the beds & the dressers (bought before we moved in together, not for the apartment). Please disregard the ghetto curtain, it was my husband's idea and a great one.

I want to find something to put by Hulky's computer (on a wall you can't see in these photos). He's really indifferent to artwork, but I’m sure I can find something he’ll like. I put my favorite poster next to my desk.

The front bedroom (with the bed frame) needs some personality. Some shelves for the sewing supplies will help with the clutter and a hat rack is sorely needed. I don’t even wear hats often, but I love them and have managed to accumulate a lot over the years. Please buy me more, but don’t, because they will just collect dust and look pretty.

Moving in was easy (and moving was not that bad, albeit stressful) since I already knew where everything was going. The old apartment’s layout was pretty much the same. This place is slightly larger and the sunroom is awesome. I’m really happy to have the computers separated from everything else. If only the french doors were soundproof.

Since mostly everything is put away (except the box of Christmas decorations, which you can really see in the photo of the front bedroom), I’m focusing on cleaning now. I wiped down the blinds in the sunroom today…that was disgusting. Time for some more cleaning supplies.

And dear lord, we REALLY need some shelves in the hall closet.

I think shelving is kind of the theme of this place. It is desperately needed. We don’t really have more books to place, but I think it would look great. It’s a lot easier for me to envision changes here than it was in the other place, not sure why.

And a bookcase would look really sexy in the back bedroom, right where I put the cat poster.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My awesometastic chicken soup


So, like all good bloggers, this is really just someone else's recipe accompanied with my own quips. The name clearly needs work. I thought "Blitzed Chicken Soup" sounded good, but we're talking about blending, not bombing, so maybe not. It just sounded right. Suggestions are welcome.

The why:
I'm currently following a kind of elimination diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (read about it here). This recipe is one of the very first recipes you are supposed to be eating, EXCLUSIVELY. Okay, meat is fine, but the point is to be very specific with your vegetables. Well, initially, you cook it all with the celery & onions, but then remove those & blend the carrots solo (then mix it back with the broth & chicken). The reason is that it's highly digestible for anyone with gut disorders. Carrots are magical, let me tell you, and PUREED carrots are a godsend. You add the other veggies back in, one at a time, over a week or a few days, to try them out and see how your body reacts. I'm lazy and still not sure about onions, but eating them anyway. So brilliant.

The what:

  • a whole chicken (I go with the 4-5 lb range, trying to pick the air-chilled free-range chix at Whole Foods, but anything is good, really)
  • 1 lb of carrots (I tend to get Trader Joe's organic)
  • 1 bag (probably a lb) of celery hearts (again, TJ's organic)
  • 1 medium-large onion (I usually get yellow)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Garlic would probably be good, but I haven't added it myself
  • A splash of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is awesome and you should use it if you have it)
  • A good stock pot that will fit everything, plus tongs, some large mixing bowls, and probably a slotted spoon
  • Water to cover chicken & veg once they're in the pot
The how:
  1. Prep your veggies. You can peel your carrots if you like, but in the end, they should be chopped up (don't obsess, appearance is not a factor here) and in the stock pot. I buy the organic veggies so I don't have to bother with rinsing, though I probably still should.
  2. Unpack your chicken & get it in the pot. If there's a giblet bag in the chicken, you could totally put the innards into a little baggy made of cheesecloth & twine to get the nutrients from the offal (guts), but it's not required. I chop up the liver, heart, and kidneys (or whatever else is in there) and feed it to my cat. 'Cause she's my fat little predator. I can't get her to nibble on the neck bones, though that would be very good for her teeth.
  3. Add water, add salt, add pepper, splash your vinegar into the pot. This is really easy. You can do it. I believe in you. Just get enough water to cover everything. If your chicken floats (I am cursed by this as well, or is it very common?), just push it down so you know the water WOULD cover it and then leave it. I totally eyeball the spice amounts. If I get a kind of light layer over the whole surface of the water w/ the pepper, I figure that's good. I just pour the salt, really no idea how much I add. If you get it wrong, it's really right, so don't worry about it. I love salt.
  4. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to let it simmer for 4 hours. If you're swift, unlike me, you can get this going when you get home from work and probably finish it before bedtime. I go to bed relatively early because I'm old people, so I either do this on a weekend or stay up a little later to get this all done. The thing about simmering is it may take a bit of tweaking & hearing your stovetop hiss and you running in to rescue your soup a few times to get the temperature/heat/flame/whatever right. When I first started cooking, I had a hard time with this. Do I turn it up to 11*? On my awful, awful ceramic stovetop, I can turn the burner down to 3 or 4 after it heats up and that might even be too high for the total cooking period. I had it on "low", which is not even a number, by the last hour the last time I made this soup.
  5. Okay, I told you this was easy, but I partially lied. Now you need to segregate your soup parts. You can use bowls, and colanders, or tongs or whatever works for you to get the chicken separated from the veggies. If you're not using all the veggies, the unused ones go straight in the trash. If you are, get them moving into your blender or food processor with the broth. It might take a few batches to blend it all. After blending, move that to your final containers for storage (or a bit in a bowl for eating now, whatever you are doing). You can use a food processor for the veggies and leave out the broth, but my Ninja blender works really well w/ the liquid & veggies so I do that. Be careful, it's hot.
  6. The chicken is also a pain, but since it's been cooked so thoroughly, it's super easy to disassemble. Peel off the skin & make a game out of trying to get really big pieces, but throw it out. Yes, we're throwing the skin out. I find that it makes the soup too fatty, and while I love animal fat like it's my job and don't think it's bad for you, it just doesn't work in soup for me. The bones also get discarded, and that takes a bit in my experience because there are too many tiny bones. The vinegar breaks down the bones a bit to get lots of nutrients out of them and into the soup, so if you do run into some bone while eating, you shouldn't acquire any damage unless your teeth are very, very soft. I found a vertebra in my soup for lunch today and contemplating chewing & eating it. With the chicken meat, use your tongs or forks or whatever and shred it. Like it's your job. (There are a lot of jobs in this recipe.) Distribute the shredded chicken meat into your blended broth & veggies. Voila, it's done, it's perfect, it's thick, and DELICIOUS. Eat up!
If you are an obsessive keeper-of-glass-jars like I am, you can freeze this soup for future use. Just make sure to leave some room at the top for the liquid to expand once frozen (less than an inch, if we're talking 16 oz jars from almond butter or coconut oil, but probably more than 1/2 an inch).

This makes a very large bowl of soup. I don't know how big my mixing bowls are, but you'll have to trust me. I eat a bit for lunch basically every day and it lasts about a week, I think. But then I had my husband taste it, so it'll probably last for a few days now.

*My stovetop does not go up to 11. Does yours? Badass.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Link love

  • A delicious, delicious link – Goat’s milk sits better with me, so I’ll probably just make it with that. I will lessen the amounts of everything to make it a single serving and try it tonight! I’ve been sleeping poorly lately, so maybe this will help.
  • A comic by a deaf guy – Before you think I’m insensitive, look at the name of the webcomic. It’s pretty funny (and informative).
  • MMA is cool and you can totally do it paleo – Uh, I mean the food stuff. I don’t know what caveman wrestling would look like. I love paleo athletes, they come across as so chill to me.
  • Movies & TV have a lot of power – As an avid movie goer and viewer, this is something I need to keep in mind more often. I don’t think it’s always the movies themselves, but more how the movies are presented to us (the hype, the propaganda, the trailers). Analyze those trailers. Watch the news. There’s a lot of similarities in what they give us to digest. I’m still kind of on media blackout since the marathon bombings in April because I can’t stand seeing all that manipulative drivel.

But I totally gathered up supplies to be like Harriet the Spy after the movie came out. Turns out my neighborhood is pretty boring and I don’t want to break into people’s houses.

And jury duty showed me that real trials are not like TV shows. It’s a lot scarier when you’re knowingly sharing the room with a convicted rapist of a child.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Summer’s end

My summer has been crazy busy and yet awesome and I felt it was worthy of a recap.

I just looked up that word. Ah, “to recapitulate”. I thought that might be the root word, but I couldn’t remember for a moment. What a weird looking term. I feel like more than one use of the word “word” in a paragraph looks INCREDIBLY awkward. Don’t read it aloud.

May:
May totally counts for my purposes. I started cycling to work. I don’t think I got to do very much initially because of the PERSISTANT RAIN. Seriously, that was an incredibly rainy late-Spring around here. Is it usually like that? I never remember seasons from year to year. Except winter. That’s easy. Did it snow a lot? Y/N.

June:

So many reasons to love June! #1 would be that my husband (then-fiancĂ©) threw me a SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY. I have never been part of a surprise party before nor had one thrown for me, so this was an awesome experience! He took me to the zoo that morning under the pretense of “lecturing about biology”, but I think he was so nervous about getting everyone at the apartment before we got back that he didn’t have much to say. I had a good time anyway. Did you know that flamingos smell awful? Anyway, the party was excellent and I totally cried when I saw my grandmother & friend from CT hiding in the hallway. It really hit me deeply that they travelled to celebrate my birthday with me. We served breakfast to the friends that stayed overnight, which is my favorite way to end a party.

July:

I got freaking married, guys. I surprised EVERYONE (except my godfather, Hulky’s brother, and Hulky’s dad, who figured it out a few days prior when he overheard us talking about vows on the phone) and got married at my engagement party. His mom cried. My sister said, “What the hell?!” My grandmother just smiled. I think my dad went into shock. Hulky recently recalled to a friend, “We got drunk and went swimming at our wedding reception.” That was our wedding reception. It was perfect. We got to see some of the photos recently that we had our friend take with his nice camera and they are excellent. I can’t wait to get some printed for family & to put together a book. I should probably edit some of the phone camera photos I have from everyone else.

August:
Sneak peek of the new place.
My new husband departed for a 3-week course for marine biology in Very Northern Maine. He got eaten alive by mosquitoes while I finalized us moving, got the apartment packed up, and tried to be an extrovert. It was tiring, it was difficult, and I accomplished everything I intended to do. I also implemented some new diet tweaks to help my slow, stupid gut and they helped quite a lot. I am now not the one stinking up the room, thank you, you can look elsewhere for the culprit.

And so begins September, aka. it’s already fall, you’re just in denial. Everybody is talking about the weather lately. I love talking about the weather, honestly, it’s my favorite small talk. I get nostalgic for the start of school around this time of year. I remember walking to school, picking what to wear/bring for the cold mornings and warm afternoons. I remember what my university campus looks like covered in orange leaves. And now I have a new home to enjoy with my favorite season.