What've You Been Doing?

I was talking on the phone to my sister the other day and she asked me, "so what've you been doing?" Hmmm...good question. I've just been, you know, doing my thing, I guess.

The architecture gig has been getting me down lately. Not really the whole gig, just this one particular job I'm working on. And not even the job in particular (it's a harmless little MRI suite build-out), but the co-worker I'm working with on it. Yeah, he's bringing me down. And the thing is... Here's the thing: He's not an asshole. Not by a long shot. He's a really nice, quiet, friendly, benign man. He's just...flakey. And wishy-washy. And IT. DRIVES. ME. CRAZY. He is not a "Big Picture" personality. It's a clear case of not being able to see the forest through the trees. Only he gets hopelessly lost in the trees for days and then I have to send in a search party.

In addition to the woes of working with Tree Man, I've been feeling oddly disconnected from my work lately. I'm not sure what that's all about but it's kind of concerning. I'm also not really sure what to do to fix it because I'm not really sure where it's coming from.

On the Getting-Out-To-Make-Friends front, Daniel and I attended a dinner at a local restaurant hosted by the Nashville Secular Life group. Remember I told you about them? Well, we finally went to one of their events and, surprisingly, had a great time and met some really interesting people. One couple we connected with were originally from Cleveland and knew a former Hiram College president (not G. Ben - the one before him). The male half of the formerly-of-Cleveland couple is a construction industry attorney, (I wonder if he knows my former Hiram employer who was also a construction attorney?) and his wife works as some kind of healthcare rep. So the four of us got along really well and it turned out to be a fun social evening.

Volunteering more has also been a priority in not only our effort to meet more people, but simply to offer community support. Thus, I recently contacted the Martha O'Bryan Center. It's a facility located in our neighborhood that helps fight cyclical poverty and assists the poor. They offer really great programs for both adults and children. Here's their website if you're interested in their mission or more information. I contacted them about getting involved with their volunteer program and right now they need help with the meals on wheels service they provide. So, starting March 5th, Daniel and I will help deliver meals to our neighbors. It seems like a good way for us to help out our community and meet more people.

Of course, the house still occupies a good deal of our time. The dining room is finally complete and functional once more as a place to dine. I was ecstatic to eat our first meal there - at a TABLE, instead of perched on the couch or hunched over the coffee table in the living room. It's awesome. We also FINALLY got switchplates for the kitchen. I don't know what the hell we were waiting for! I guess I just thought it was a little detail that wouldn't make much difference, so I kept forgetting about it. But, OMG, it makes a huge difference. It just feels so FINISHED now. And that is a good feeling.

Here are some before and after photos of the dining room:

BEFORE: Be sure to take note of the lovely wallpaper with not one, but two borders. Also absorb the spectacularly dreadful chandelier. And don't forget about the lovely white, institutional, aluminum mini blinds gracing the windows.

And AFTER: Wallpaper - GONE. Mini Blinds - GONE. Chandelier - GONE. Yay!

Clearly, Gwennie is enamoured with the transformation as well.

Obviously, we still have lots of bare walls...and the cabinets still need pulls...and we could maybe use a tablecloth and some seat cushions...but, it's a helluva lot better than it was and it makes me happy!

The next space in the house we're focusing on is the walk-out basement. Since ripping out the nasty disgusting carpet nearly 10 months ago, it's just become more and more disgusting and a catch-all for anything we don't know what to do with. I won't tell you what the plan is exactly but I will promise to post before and after pictures once the transformation is complete.

Okay, I realize this post is throwing a lot at you, but here's the other little thing I've been "doing": Like everyone and their brother, I committed to cutting out concentrated refined sugars in my diet for Lent (not for any religious reason, just as a place to start). And while this little thing may sound like it doesn't take much effort, I ate A LOT of sugar and sugar is apparently in EVERYTHING. So, I'm reading and researching about sugar, grocery shopping takes twice as long because I have to read every fucking label, I'm cooking a lot more so I know exactly what ingredients I'm ingesting. And all of that takes time. Maybe I'll go into more of the nitty gritty details in another post, but just know that simply eliminating sugar from one's diet when previously one ate a shit-load of sugar takes a lot of planning.

Daniel is occupying some of his time by taking a class at Middle Tennessee State University. Some advanced financial markets seminar that is WAY beyond my Geek Meter, but whatever floats his boat, right?

So, other than all of the above, I'm not doing much else except watching tv once in a while (LOST is SO awesome this season...yes, even awesomer than before if you can imagine!), doing laundry, cleaning the house...you know, the stuff people do.


Snuggle Kitteh

It's been really fucking cold here lately. Not only cold, but snowy and icy too. The South, my ass! While a dusting of snow once (maybe twice) a year makes me happy, more than that just makes me cranky. Nashville parents are getting irritated as well with all the Snow Days they've been having to navigate around. It's gone from being charming to being a huge pain in the ass.

It's not just the snow making folks cranky, it's the cold. The cold has settled into our bones.

We typically keep the thermostat set at 67 degrees at our house. Lately we've gone as high as 70. I know! Crazy. Even though the structure of our house is very nicely and efficiently insulated, our windows and doors are old, old, old and terribly drafty. Sweaters and blankets have helped keep us warm during this unusual cold spell, but it still just saps a person's energy and motivation.

The fuzz-butts, being fuzz-butts, have adjusted to the cold quite admirably with a little assistance from their servants (me and Daniel). Several new cozy beds have been purchased and strategically located throughout the house. The prime position though, recently claimed by Gwendolyn, is the kitchen drawer situated directly above a heat vent. Once we realized how toasty warm this particular drawer was keeping our kitchen appliances, Daniel immediately cleared out the drawer and put a snuffly soft bed in there. It didn't take long before the kittehs discovered this little bit o'heaven. We now leave the drawer open all the time for their convenience and comfort. Gwennie only vacates her haven when absolutely necessary.

Addie tends to nest in the blanket on the green velvet chair in the living room. Except when Daniel is home. And then he wastes no time in taking up his most favorite spot in the whole wide world.

They're being such troopers in the face of our crappy-ass cold spell, doncha think?

I've become one of those people who blogs about her cats. I may need an intervention.


You Say Keen-oh-wah, I Say Keen-wah

Up until recently, the only recipe I ever made that included the trendy quinoa grain was this scrumdiddly-umptious dish that I found on Allrecipes.com. It's SO good. Make it immediately if not sooner.

Quinoa is one of those ancient grains that, I guess, fell out of favor in this country (except in the hippie circles maybe) for one reason or another along with grains like spelt, millet, and bulgur. I had never even heard of quinoa until a couple of years ago and now it seems like it's everywhere.

Quinoa is a pseudograin from South America that's uber-healthy.

From the Wiki: "Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights."

So I found the following recipe a while ago and just hadn't gotten around to making it until recently. Not only does it have the superfood quinoa in it, but also kale and sweet potato. It's kind of like a Justice League Superfriends recipe. Lots of heavy-hitters, nutritionally speaking. Plus it has onion and a bit of bacon. Mmmmm...bacon. But if you don't do bacon, this recipe could be easily modified and still be very delicious.


2 to 4 slices of bacon, diced
1/4 of a large onion, sliced thin
1 cup of quinoa
1 1/2 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt, divided
1 medium sweet potato (about 10 oz.), cut into 1/4" cubes
1 small bunch of kale (about 8 oz.), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.

2. In a medium saucepan with a tight fitting lid, cook the bacon over medium heat until extra super crispy - about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon (you want to retain the bacon grease in the pan) and set aside.

3. Drop the onions into the hot bacon fat (obviously if you want to skip the bacon portion of this recipe, you could just heat up a tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil), and saute, stirring occasionally until the onions soften - about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and toss until coated with the fat and slightly toasted - about 2 minutes. Add the water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil, stir once, cover, reduce heat to low and let cook undisturbed until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender - about 15 minutes.

4. While the quinoa is cooking, toss the sweet potatoes and kale with the olive oil and the remaining salt and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until the potatoes and kale begin to brown in places and the potatoes are tender - about 15minutes. (Watch this step closely because I had some seriously burned portions of kale that I ended up tossing.)

Then just mix it all up in a bowl and dig in!

In retrospect, I would not mix in all of the bacon unless the entire recipe was going to be consumed immediately. When we ate the leftovers over the next couple of days, the bacon got soggy (and kinda gross). So maybe I'd just sprinkle on the bacon bits per portion.


We're All A Bunch of Whiners

Do you enjoy a helping of humorous sarcasm with your dose of reality? If so, you really should take 5 minutes and read THIS ARTICLE. Good stuff.