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This recipe doubles as hand care. How many recipes can you say that about?

It’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping!

coconutkale

Notes about the ingredients

If you’re as last minute as me, the big gigantic bag of prewashed, precut kale is awesome. Don’t worry, once you try this (and its olive oil/shredded parmesan counterpart), you’ll use up the bag of kale pretty quickly. Also, if you want to save money, get the coconut oil at Aldi, where the same jar that’s $7.99 at Kroger or Giant Eagle is only $4.99.

Ingredients

  • Kale
  • Coconut oil
  • Shredded coconut
  • Sea salt
  • Ginger powder

Steps

Preheat oven to 325° F.

  1. On a cookie sheet, spread out a generous amount of kale. It won’t lay flat, but keep it to a single layer so it can all get crispy.
  2. Scoop out a cherry-sized spoonful of coconut oil into your clean hands.
  3. Warm the coconut oil by rubbing it between your hands, then massage the kale with it. (I heard that massaging the kale removes bitterness.)
  4. Bonus: This is the step that doubles as hand care! Rub excess coconut oil into your skin. It smells great and makes your skin soft!
  5. Sprinkle with shredded coconut to taste.
  6. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste, and add tiny dashes of ginger powder.
  7. Bake at 325° F for 10 minutes, turning the pan around partway in case there are hot spots.

It’s done when at least half the kale feels crispy to the touch. It looks like a lot, but the crispy parts melt in your mouth, so it can disappear fast!

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I was trying to duplicate the house salad at J. Liu (minus the bacon) and didn’t like the store-bought dressings I found at all. J. Liu calls theirs “sweet and sour vinaigrette,” and none of the varieties I’ve tried from the store can match it. So I was experimenting, and since I had opened a can of coconut milk for something else, thought I’d try that. Turns out it’s YUM! So here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I ran out and used some canola, too)
  • 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar (maybe less would do–it’s pretty strong)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce (Kikkoman or other real soy–not la Choy)

Shake all ingredients in a bottle or jar with a good lid. It seems to emulsify pretty well and not separate like oil and vinegar. I think that’s a balsamic thing. Ah, no, Google reveals that it’s the honey. (Mustard also works.) Another interesting thing is that it’s not the vinegar that wilts the lettuce in your leftover salad–it’s the oil! If you’re interested, you can check it out here: The Food Lab.

Salad Ingredients

  • Mixed baby greens
  • Strawberries
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Candied pecans

I like to use a bowl with a lid (I found a cool melamine one at the Asian market that was pretty cheap) that I can shake the whole salad in. Oh man, it’s every bit as yum as the one at J. Liu, with an added hint of coconut flavor!

Yay! Thanks to this Graham Mayor guy on a PCReview forum, even though the features are missing from Office 2007 onward, I can still make my MS Word text really, really obnoxious! Just like in the old days, when I centered everything on my web page and tried to use loudly patterned background images, many animated gifs, and blinking text for highlight!

Yay! In case you too want to relive the joys of multicolored, flashing, blinking, sparkling, shimmering, mummafummin’ marching text, here’s how you can do it!

  1. In Word, at the top left corner, click the Office button, and at the bottom of the menu that appears, click Word Options.
  2. In the dialog that appears, on the Popular tab, select the checkbox to Show Developer tab in the Ribbon, and click OK.
  3. Click the Developer ribbon, and in the Code section, click the Record Macro button.
  4. In the Record Macro dialog that appears, enter the Macro name: animatedFonts, and select Assign macro to Button.
  5. In the Word options dialog that appears, double-click the macro Normal.NewMacros.animatedFonts to add it to the Quick Access toolbar to the right, and click OK.
  6. Enter any text on the page, and in the Developer toolbar Code section, click Stop Recording.
  7. In the toolbar Code section click Macros, and in the dialog that appears, select animatedFonts and click Edit.
  8. In the Microsoft Visual Basic window that appears, delete all of the code in the Normal window and paste in the following:
    Sub animatedFonts()
        '
        ' animatedFonts Macro
        '
        Dim sAnimation As String
        If Len(Selection.Range) = 0 Then
            MsgBox "Select text first!", vbCritical, "No Text Selected"
            Exit Sub
        End If
        sAnimation = InputBox("Which animation? Enter the number: " & vbCr & _
        " 1. Blinking Background" & vbCr & _
        " 2. Las Vegas Lights" & vbCr & _
        " 3. Marching Black Ants" & vbCr & _
        " 4. Marching Red Ants" & vbCr & _
        " 5. Shimmer" & vbCr & _
        " 6. Sparkle Text" & vbCr & _
        " 0. None", "Font animation")
        Select Case sAnimation
            Case 1: Selection.Font.Animation = wdAnimationBlinkingBackground
            Case 2: Selection.Font.Animation = wdAnimationLasVegasLights
            Case 3: Selection.Font.Animation = wdAnimationMarchingBlackAnts
            Case 4: Selection.Font.Animation = wdAnimationMarchingRedAnts
            Case 5: Selection.Font.Animation = wdAnimationShimmer
            Case 6: Selection.Font.Animation = wdAnimationSparkleText
            Case 0: Selection.Font.Animation = wdAnimationNone
            Case Else:
        End Select
    End Sub
  9. Save and close the Microsoft Visual Studio window, and a new button is added to your Quick Start in Word (top left).
  10. Now highlight some text and click the new button. Enter a number from 1 to 6 and click OK!

Woo hoo!!!

Just a quick note for people thinking of trying Chantix. I realize that it doesn’t work for everyone, but it really worked for me. I didn’t even want to quit smoking, and figured I never would. I was a hardcore smoker, but after a couple of weeks of taking Chantix and not even trying to quit smoking, I actually started forgetting to smoke. Forgetting! It was huge!

When I went to work without cigarettes for the first time, it was a little scary, but then I realized how FREE I was! I didn’t have to worry about carrying them around, buying them, finding a place to smoke them, finding a way to get rid of the smell of them (nothing works, by the way).

Over three and a half years later, I am thrilled that I grabbed the opportunity to hold onto that freedom by never allowing myself to ever again “just have one.”

I’m so grateful that it worked for me!

What music makes me unable to sit still in my seat and type this? Even when my nose is raw from blowing through two packets of Kleenex today? Trey Anastasio, doing Burlap Sack and Pumps. (This link pops open Media Player.)

Speaking of Trey, we’re going to see Phish! At Bonnaroo! This June! Woo hoo!!!! We usually make the All Good Festival our summer vacation, but Phish!!!! TWO SHOWS!!!! This so totally makes up for me not being able to get tickets to their Virginia show!

Okay, this is something I have to share. I’ve been smoking for 30 years. Yeah, 30. More years than I lived without smoking, which would be 13. And I was a rabid smoker. Just let anyone try to get between me and my habit! Ask Cabana Boy. He’s endured me on flights to California a few times. Not fun for anyone. I was the kind of smoker who would have panic attacks just knowing I was out of cigarettes, even though I just had one. I couldn’t walk into the office without cigarettes in my purse, even though I couldn’t smoke in there.

So Linda, a coworker at Honda, told me that her friend had smoked for 40 years, and quit with no problems using Chantix, a prescription drug. I never dreamed, when I was a rebellious 13-year-old, that I would still be smoking 30 years later, and my kids have been on me to quit, and I really do want to see my grandchildren someday, so I did my usual thing. I googled. I read the scary New Yorker blog written by the guy who developed a serious depressive (possibly psychotic?) episode on Chantix. I read medical accounts. And I read tons of comments on a doctor’s blog. I decided it was worth trying if it could break this habit.

I told Cabana Boy to watch me closely for signs of depression. (Unfortunately, he knows what to look for from 10 years ago.) I went for it, prepared for nausea, but hoping to avoid it by always taking Chantix with food, and prepared for some killer psychedelic dreams. Alas, no dreams, but awesomely, no other side effects either. Well, I was a little tingly and floaty the first day, but no nausea.

Chantix works by blocking the receptors in your brain that nicotine usually fills. Normally, that would make a person like me go into insane withdrawal. But the thing is, when you smoke, and the nicotine gets into those receptors, you get this little reward called dopamine. So Chantix gives you the dopamine. 

It takes a while to build up in your system (they start you off slowly to avoid nausea), so you don’t try to quit as soon as you start taking it. In fact, I didn’t actually try to quit at all. As the drug builds up in your system over the first week or two, the association between that good feeling (dopamine) and the cigarettes starts to break down. On the third day, for the first time in nearly 30 years, I actually forgot to smoke after dinner. I kept smoking after that though, but just didn’t feel as urgent about it.

After about a week on Chantix, I felt pretty ambivalent about cigarettes. They had always smelled bad, but I used to think they tasted good anyway. It turns out that without the dopamine enticement, they really don’t taste all that good. I think it was a week or 10 days into it that I took the big plunge and went to work without cigarettes. I mean, it’s one thing not to smoke them knowing that I could if I wanted to. It’s an entirely different thing to set out without cigarettes in the cold dark of ungodly early morning on an hour-long commute to Planet Honda, where everyone wears white and you cannot leave for eight and a half hours, and then it’s another 15 or 20 minutes’ of the drive homeward before you reenter the real world. So for me, the prospect of 10 hours with no prospect of smoking was a true test of my mettle. (And yes, I could have bummed a cigarette from someone, but none of my coworkers smokes, and I’d been smoking in my car. So I would have had to bum one from a complete stranger.) I was fine, and went several hours at a time without even thinking about it. And it was awesome to sit with my friends during break instead of freezing my ass off outside.

You may be thinking that this sounds too easy, and that there must be a catch. Well, there are several:

  1. Chantix costs about the same as smoking a pack a day, so until you quit, you’re paying out double unless you’re lucky enough to have insurance that will actually pay for it. Mine only got me a $25 discount. Oh yeah, and they come in four-week packages, so prepare to lay out $115 (or $140 if you don’t have insurance).
  2. It doesn’t work for everyone. Cabana Boy started taking mine two weeks ago and says it’s not doing it for him. (It might just be taking longer to build up for him though, so I hope it will still work.) But there are some people who develop mental problems or can’t get past the nausea. So there’s the risk that you’ll invest all that money in a month’s worth of pills that don’t work for you.
  3. You’re still stuck with figuring out what to do with yourself as a non-smoker. If you’re skinny and have always wanted to gain weight, well this is your chance! If you’re like me, you’ve got to find a way to get out of the self-indulgent mindset and quit overeating. It’s easy to get discouraged at this point (like three weeks into it for me).

Linda suggested knitting to keep my hands occupied. Turns out she was right again! When you’re knitting, you want your hands clean so the thing you’re knitting doesn’t get dirty. This means you don’t want to go snacking while you do it. Also, it’s kind of addictive (just let me finish this row!) and soothing, and with a little practice, I don’t suck at it nearly as much as I did last time Mom tried to teach me. It’s satisfying to have a dishcloth to show for your time instead of an overflowing ashtray. And now I’m embarking on my first baby afghan.

I think I’m about a month into it (maybe a little more), and I’m feeling great! That gunk that I was coughing up for the past 25 years is gone. I don’t get that alarming whistle in my chest any more. I can smell again. (Egads! How long did my tennis shoes smell like that? And nobody told me!) I don’t go around reeking. I’m mostly past the “Oh God what do I do with myself now?” phase. I think the wrinkles around my lips from having them puckered for what amounted to a couple of hours a day are starting to ease. I’ll probably live longer. And I finally found my mindset to get the weight off. My new mantra is “Which would be more fun? Eating this junk or dancing to Phish at Bonnaroo without worrying about flabbering out all over the place?”

I highly recommend Chantix. Even if it doesn’t work for everyone, it’s worth a shot in case it works for you as well as it has for me. I’ll put an update on here when I quit taking it, and let you know how that goes. My doctor said that I should stay on it for six months, since I smoked so much and for so long. I hope this helps a fellow googler!

Okay, this one was enough to break my blogger silence.

So it’s our anniversary (11 years of Cabana Boy marriage, 13 years since our first date) and we’re all riding home from an evening of brews and wings with the family in the back of my dad’s minivan. I had just finished eliciting promises from the girls that, at least through Sunday, they would not do to each other any of the things that make their sister go “STOP!”

I thought that my little 5 year old nephew was contributing to my cause with his new name for Sierra: “Little Miss Pit Stop.” But as his next sentence revealed, I was oh, so wrong.

“Yeah Siewwa! You’we Little Miss Pit Stop because you always pissed off Aja!”

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