Homebrew blitz week(end)

>> Saturday, August 30, 2008

My father works for Habitat for Humanity. A couple times a year they have "Blitz Week" when they gather up as many volunteers as possible - church groups like to do this - and try to build xteen houses in one area in a week. It's insane!

Well, my parents will arrive this afternoon around 1:00, and we're having our very own crazy blitzy house-project weekend. We have two long lists of things to do... everything from pressure-washing the house, balancing the AC, and repairing torn porch screen, to gardening, rearranging furniture and hanging curtains. They'll be here until Monday morning, so hopefully we'll get a lot done.

They also are bringing their super deluxe carpet (and floor) scrubber machine. In preparation, we started moving furniture around to get the carpet clear. We decided since we had loads of dead space in the bedroom but didn't want to sacrifice having a master bath (turning the large room into a den), we're using the extra space for our library. I'm still torn as to whether I'll sleep worse this way because I'm surrounded by adventures I want to have, or whether I'll sleep a lot better in the security of being surrounded by friends. It took Lanse and me about two hours to move three 6 ft bookcases (and books) from the office to the bedroom, having moved furniture around to fit it and cleaned the hardwoods before moving them in. We have great plans for the rest of the room, but way too much junk that we feel we could feasibly do without, but may need in the future. Extra pieces of furniture we don't need now but will when we talk about furnishing a kid's room and haven't any extra money to start from scratch.

So we will make decisions today and go shopping and get to work and see what our home feels like by Monday afternoon. Hopefully much warmer and more cohesive.

I love looking at floor plans, so here's one I tossed together in Paint of our house. The weird cross-hatchy things are windows, the stairs go up to a loft, but I drew the garage that's on the ground floor under the loft. There's so much work I want to do on this in the future, like adding windows and possibly pushing out the two back bedrooms a couple of feet, but that's all really major in the cost department so probably won't happen. That's okay.

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Meatloaf Cupcakes

>> Thursday, August 28, 2008

All righty! I've made meatloaf, but got a bit jazzy and put them in cupcake shapes! Here's the digs:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a bowl beat up an egg with some milk (probably about 1/4 c., I dunno, I splashed it in). Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a few dribblings of ketchup. I also added fresh rosemary from the garden, kosher salt, and a bit of paprika because I realized I haven't any black pepper.

Put three saltine crackers in a zip lock bag and smash the crap out of them.

Finely dice 1/4 of a green bell pepper (unless they're dinky, then add more) and 1/3 a steak tomato.

Mix everything together (veggies, cracker crumbs, beat egg/milk/spice mix) with 1 lb. ground beef. Don't mix it too much or something weird will happen. I don't remember what, but I remember the warning from others.

Put liners in a cupcake tin. This mix made 8 cupcakes in my 12 cupcake tin, so if you do the same, be sure they're spaced evenly so they'll cook evenly. I probably should have checkerboarded them now that I think about it, but I put them in rows down each side with the middle empty.

Scoop mix into cupcake tin. Meat doesn't rise, so if you want a nice round cupcake top, form it now. Slather ("frost"?) the tops of the cupcakes with ketchup.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

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Guac for two

I'm feeling inspired to do stuff in the kitchen. I just made guacamole!

1 avocado, ripe: chop into chunks
1 small tomato from my garden: chop into chunks

Alton Brown says to use cilantro, cumin, cayenne, garlic, onion, S&P. However, I haven't got cilantro, cumin, garlic or onion. Instead I:

Ground up whole coriander (cumin sub.) in a makeshift mortar & pestle. Added parsley (cilantro sub.) and cayenne. Eliminated salt simply because I added garlic salt and celery salt (cilantro sub.), but it seems to need more salt which I shall add shortly.

Throw it all into a bowl; I like it chunky, so I did just two or three mooshes with a potato masher. Alton says to let it sit out for an hour and then eat it, but I like it cold... so it's in the fridge for dinner. No idea what we'll have with it, but I'm willing to bed that Mojitos will be involved.

Yum!

Next I'm considering meatloaf, quiche, mupcakes, or all three. Quiche might wait though, because we're out of shredded mexican cheese.

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Official Travel Report

I was quite concerned about the trip that we took to Ohio for Kaylee's dedication. Here's how it all played out:

  • The drive to Charlotte. No big deal! Sure we got some rain, but the new car has windshield wipers that actually work, and it didn't bother us. We took off from here around 4:00, 4:15 maybe, stopped for KFC half way, and arrived at my folks' house around 7:00. We had quite a lovely evening; mom and I discussed Bible Study resources and she set aside a bunch of books for me to borrow on the return trip. We shared pictures of Kaylee and all was well with the world.
  • The drive from Charlotte to OH. Strangely enough, the trip seemed to go really quickly and yet a lot longer than expected. My father made a lovely representation for Man by failing to read the directions before beginning the drive, and we took the scenic route both at the beginning and at the end of the trip. 100+ miles on 35-50mph country roads actually turned out to be kind of interesting, if not long. But upon further map reflection, it seemed to be the best way to go. The drive went really well.
  • Rachel's family. They were fantabulous! We didn't actually see any of them until Sunday morning at the church, but we spent the day with everyone at the lake, having food and games and swimming and things. The lake was actually quite nasty, and we didn't go in it... some of the little cousins did. There was a sailing regatta going on, which was interesting. We ate good food and played cornhole and talked and, above all, passed the baby around all day. Yay! Kaylee has four older cousins on that side, that were present anyway; the family's rather... complex... and I'm still not sure that I'm sure about them all!
  • Kaylee. My brother and family walked into the hotel, and Kaylee saw me and grinned. *hee!* I held her and played with her a few times, but with so many people there, no one really got enough time. I love my baby girl, and yay! she loves me! I took a lot of pictures, some of which I've put on flickr.
  • The dedication was... interesting. It was a United Methodist church, though Rachel's mom calls it "Methocostal". It was the pastor's third Sunday preaching there, and he messed up names and prayed for my brother's safe travels to Iraq (surprise trip? CR knew nothing about it!) but he was quite jovial and realized he was screwing up, and we all felt bad for him. Rachel's sister Netta and her fiance stood up there with them as church member sponsors, and I think they're kind of like godparents to Kaylee. Everyone was dressed up nice and pretty, and the service was okay. It reminded me a lot of the service at Grace Covenant where I used to work in N.Y.
  • Leaving the cats. Yeah, they were fine. The neighbors stopped in a few times and Fay kept on heading west, and all was right in kittendom; though they were extra needy when we got home, which is normal.
  • The drive back. It was much more difficult than the drive there; we were all tired and off schedule, irritable and sad from saying goodbye. I took a lot of pictures out the window, very few of which actually turned out but it gave me something to do. Lanse shared his music. I got really on edge with my folks. The drive to Charlotte ended up being 8 hours, and Lanse and I took a pit stop and then hopped in our car and drove the final three home. It was a very, very long day.
  • Paying for it all. I'm choosing to get over it. Dad said so. *heh*
I'm glad we went. I desperately wish my brother lived closer; I want to watch Kaylee growing up! But I guess pictures will have to do until/if/when they get reassigned or are done with their service terms.

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Kaylee giggles

>> Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Please enjoy this low-quality video of my niece and my dad.




I also just put a great number of photos up on Flickr.com. See the link in the sidebar, over there -->

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End of the Journey

>> Monday, August 25, 2008

We have arrived home again after the weekend in Ohio. We left home Friday afternoon and stayed over at my folks' house in Charlotte, and then we all carpooled out to Wilmington, just outside of Cincinnati. Kaylee was beautiful and happy, Rachel's family was fun, my mother and I didn't kill each other, and I slept mostly well in the hotel. Overall it was a great success.

I took a lot of pictures; I'll be posting some somewhere soon, and maybe add a little more detail in another post later. We've been in a car for 11 hours today, the last three of which I drove through off and on torrential rain, so I'm beat.

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On the Road Again

>> Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tomorrow we're heading up to Ohio for the dedication of my niece, Kaylee. She was born in February, Leap Day to be precise, but since my brother and s-i-l live in Washington state and all the rest of the family are East of the Mississippi, they waited to do the dedication at Rachel's church back home in Ohio. So we're off! Which is fantastic; given the distance, I doubt there'll be many times we'll get to be with Kaylee as she's growing up. It's still quite a ways from here to Ohio, but it's definitely better than Washington.

However, I find that I'm really freaking out about the trip. Here's why:

  • The drive to Charlotte. We make this trip frequently, and know the route, but we also know from experience that it's flat out terrifying to be driving in blinding rain at 35mph on the interstate with flashers going and a semi truck behind you. We are currently experiencing sudden torrential downpours related to TS Fay.
  • The drive from Charlotte to OH. For financial reasons, we're car pooling with my parents. For six and a half hours. I love my parents dearly, but sometimes the only reason we get along is because of the distance. And I'm not talking about two to four feet, which is what we'll be getting. Lanse has a Zen, so he can totally zone out on the drive; I have no music player, and no headphones, and reading in the car makes me carsick. It will be a very. Very. long drive.
  • Rachel's family. I'm sure they're wonderful people, I've just never met them. Since we'll be relying on them for many things, this makes me worry. I suffer an overabundance of shortness, which also comes with other odd physical things, and you just never know when someone new will turn out to be a Stupid Person. (More on that in other post, maybe.) I know I shouldn't worry what other people think, but being new family, they do kinda matter.
  • Kaylee. I was able to fly out to WA when she was a week old, and we hung out for a couple of weeks giving her mom and dad some rest. I love her dearly. However, she is now six months old, which is much different than six days old. I know she won't remember me. Children's reactions to me are very specific; either they know immediately I'm there to play, they are completely indifferent, or they're terrified because they know I'm not like everyone else. I am completely freaking out that Kaylee will be scared of me. I'm praying that somehow my two weeks of helping care for her as a newborn will make her know me, kinda like how animals can remember smells of people for years after the fact.
  • Leaving the cats. I know that they're cats and all, and can handle three days alone just fine... but Kira's not been using the box, and Colin throws up all the time, and I don't want the house to be swarming with bugs. Plus, if something happens and TS Fay turns Northwards somehow, we won't be here to get them out. This is NOT predicted at all, but my mind is trying to come up with things to worry about, I think.
  • The drive back. We didn't take two days off, so we'll be driving from OH to Charlotte with my folks, changing cars, and driving the rest of the way here. It'll be a total of 9.5 hours on the road, which makes for a very long day.
  • Paying for it all. The hotel stay is covered for us by my folks, and as grateful as I am, I really hate feeling in debt to family. They paid for my crap for 20 years, it's not their job anymore. But there's still other stuff we have to cover, and I'm nervous about the bottom line.
I really hope that I'm doing that whole thing with molehills that people are so fond of. I wish someone could convince me that it's all really no big deal; I'm tired of feeling nauseated when I should be really excited.

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Dish 'o the Week

Cooking is one of those things that I do well, when I bother to get around to it. Since it's just Lanse and me, we eat very little, and my favorite things to cook feed a multitude, I rarely cook. But on the occasion I do, we agree to suffer days of leftovers, or we will actually have company. This week, we went for the 'leftovers' plan, which is good because we had a lot of stuff to eat up before we leave for the weekend.

I'll be posting recipes I make, partly to keep track of what we've eaten, and partly... well, just because I like to share.

Mom's African Curry
My mother ate some version of this while growing up in Nigeria, but it's morphed over the years and I don't think that even her sibling's families make it the way we do anymore. So here's what I do:

1 lb ground beef: brown it. If there's a lot of grease, drain it.
Add: 3T curry powder, some chili powder, all-spice, garlic salt, pepper, or paprika to taste
Add: 2/3 c. water; stir everything together; let simmer until sauce thickens.

While simmering, make 2 servings of Minute Rice. We've moved from white to wild, just for fun, but we've also made this with Couscous, which is much more traditional.

Dice up a multitude of fruit. This week we had cantaloupe, honeydew melon, tomato, red grapefruit, bananas, and peaches; other times we've done mandarin oranges, pineapple, guava, mango, papaya, kiwi... anything tropical is lovely. Also add chopped nuts and coconut. Note: if adding banana, wait until you're at the table to slice it, or it'll go brown on you.

You can layer everything neatly on the plate, or mix it all up. If you layer, it goes: Rice, Meat, Fruit, Nuts.

This one-pound version was enough food for both of us for two dinners, and lunch for me two days as well. It doesn't sound like much, but it fills you up fast.

Enjoy!

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Travels, Friends, and Hurricane Dreams

Anyone who's been around me for very long knows that I have very interesting and vibrant dreams. I call them my Hollywood Dreams, because they usually have solid plot lines and old school Technicolor. I quite enjoy them.

Last night, I dreamed that Lanse and I were renting a ground-floor flat in London, which was surprisingly like the house we own, except for being very narrow and two-story with only one bedroom. It was an end unit on a central square, lovely tall brownstone building. In the center of the square was a green park with benches and trees with little shops and old buildings all around. It was very gray and damp, much like London should be.

I woke up early and met a man in the lobby who traveled there in our group, and he led me around the square to the flat where the Pierce family lived above their store. I couldn't tell what they were selling, since it had started raining and was early enough to make the whole scene rather dim. Christopher and Moira met me at the door, and Kit came down the back stairs with baby Joseph. There were greetings and hugs all around, and I headed back to get Lanse.

As I waited for him to get ready, I stood in the kitchen with a cup of coffee looking out across the wide backyard to the ocean. The wind and rain were picking up and swirling things around, and the waves were getting higher and higher and crashing against the beach. People were scurrying around trying to get out of the storm. As Lanse came down into the dining room, I looked out to see a large passenger ship going up the coast, shiny white and red with great round porthole windows. A massive wave crashed over the top and pulled it under, and I could see it go down and up and down again into the water, which I could see through quite clearly. It was headed forward (and out of sight) very quickly; I had the idea it came up again, but I shouted out, "The ship is sinking!" and Lanse yanked open the back door and ran down to the beach.

Suddenly the world turned gray out the window, rain plastering against the house, and the trees in the yard next to us bent all the way over and the tops were stripped of leaves, and I couldn't see Lanse on the beach anymore. I went to the door and screamed over and over for him, and then the wind calmed down and he walked towards me.... and I woke up.

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Beginnings

I made my first blog post on Livejournal in 2004. As I have now begun a new chapter of life, I thought I might try something new. We'll see how it goes.

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About This Blog

Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.
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