We have been getting beautiful, fresh, Florida grapefruits from our farm share - so we mixed them with booze, of course. This is a Salty Dog, which is a Greyhound with a salt rim. One part vodka, two parts juice, one dash citrus bitters.
I DID IT! I got my kitchen mojo back, finally, with this Chicken Enchilada soup. This was a Pantry Raid, and a very successful one at that.
This did not take a lot of time…and frankly even if you don’t want to chop anything, you can buy all those ingredients pre-chopped.
- 2 c cubed raw chicken
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 head of garlic, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 12 oz can diced tomatoes in sauce
- 1 bottle of enchilada sauce (I like Trader Joe’s)
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (you can also get this in a tube or in frozen cubes. I like the latter, if you can find them. The brand name is Dorot)
- 1 4 oz can chopped roasted green chiles
- ½ c white wine
- 1 T smoked salt
- fresh ground pepper
- juice and zest of 1 lime
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 c frozen or fresh corn (Trader Joe’s does a frozen roasted corn that is bueno)
- 6-8 c chicken broth
- 8 corn tortillas, sliced in half, then into ½” strips
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced
shredded cheese, avocadoes, sour cream for garnish, if desired
Okay, okay, that seems like a lot of ingredients. Bear with me.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven on high heat. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with pepper and half the salt. Brown chicken in ½ c oil.
- Add onions, garlic, and tomatoes to the chicken. Saute’ until soft and slightly sticking to the pot. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon.
- Add beans, corn, tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, green chiles, and chicken broth. Stir and let simmer for about an hour.
- Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro, scallions, lime zest and juice. Lightly stir in the tortilla strips. Contact with the hot soup will soften the tortilla strips and they will be kind of like noodles.
- Ladle into bowls, add toppings of choice, and enjoy!
If you are not planning to eat the whole batch of soup in one sitting, the tortilla strips can be added bowl by bowl so that they don’t get soggy and disintegrate (which is actually fine, it still tastes great).
I started this hat last……spring (maybe?) and kind of forgot about it until I was looking for a certain set of needles and whaddya know, they were in this unfinished hat. The owl cable is a lot of fun. I like cables because they keep me from zoning out too much and I like weird cables because I like a challenge. I used Universal Yarn’s Classic Worsted Tweed in Leaf Green and it is so soft and pretty (and machine washable!).
The pattern is for a newborn, but I actually can’t remember what math I used to size it up for Liza’s big ol’ teen head.When I picked it up out of the basket the other day, I just counted the stitches and then used an online calculator to figure out how to do a basic rounding.
I have also made the matching sleep sacks - but for babies, not teens.
Now I’m working on a plain old watch cap for Cammy, by request, and then I think I’m going to try crochet. Exciting times in the Rowland house, guys.
I have been going to town on the carbs lately and it has left me feeling, like I told my friend, “like the Michelin man, but bagels”.
I lightened it up today and made these lettuce wraps for lunch. I like my tuna salad with mayo, celery, dill, and lots of cracked black pepper. Sometimes if I’m feeling motivated, I’ll throw in some lemon zest. Wrap it in a lettuce leaf with tomato and avocado and boom - a healthy lunch that guarantees that all your cats hang out under the table and hope you drop some.
Seriously, this is kind of freaking me out. Stop staring at me, cats.
Plus, it packs well - no bread to get all soggy in your lunch bag!
It snowed. A lot.
How did I do on my goals for the week, you ask? Ehhhhhh….okay.
I went to yoga, once. I did not do cardio. My mistake was not factoring in the extra hour of driving that I had to do every school day this week, because Eliza has after school stuff now. So… there went my evening gym time. Now I know, and can figure something else out for the coming week.
I hope to start Gone Girl today. I dicked around online a little bit, but a little bit is apparently good for you? My To Do List got half-nuked. Some items require other people to do things, and some, like “return curtains to Lowes”, meant me going totally out of my way when I can shuffle that to Monday - when I have to take the cat to the vet and will be right by Lowes. It’s all about multitasking.
We are trapped at home, since there is a travel ban, we can’t get out of our garage anyway, and we don’t live within walking distance of anything. Note to self: get sled dogs for next winter. I caught up on laundry and Downton Abbey, made chili, and showed incredible self restraint by not locking the kids outside until they stopped fighting (I reaaaaaalllly wanted to).
I also signed up for Whimseybox - for fifteen dollars a month, you get an adorable craft project delivered to your door. Super cute! I love that their slogan is “Stop Pinning, Start Making”. Good advice for us all.
Today I mean to come up with a recipe worth sharing, start Gone Girl, and take a shower. It’s Saturday, guys. I aim low on Saturdays.
- Go to yoga
- Do cardio twice
- Make breakfast cookies
- Nuke my To-Do list
- Not waste any time online
- Start reading Gone Girl
These are all things that are good for me; exercise, reading, breakfast, finishing things that I start. I spent many hours with my face in my laptop this week (80% work, 20% I-can’t-work-anymore-I-will-just-watch-Supernatural-to-clear-my-head) and the rest of the time driving kids around. Fuck this week.
I started writing a post about scheduling, and realized as I was writing that I need to seriously re-work my schedule. We are going to have a Family Meeting tomorrow about time management. This should be great, considering that I think we have had maybe two Family Meetings, ever, and one of them was about how we thought the kids were spending too much time on Facebook so we blocked it from the house. Hahaha, parents are dicks.
At our meeting tomorrow, I hope to get us all more organized and motivated. I also hope that unicorns are real and that I will win a Grammy someday.
The internet lets us put out the very best representation of ourselves. As far as Facebook is concerned, my life is whirlwind of exciting adventures and fabulous parties. I fly first class and my makeup always looks amazing. As far as Tumblr is concerned, I am incredibly put-together and organized. I awake fresh each day, use my time wisely, and cook my family a nutritious and delicious meal each and every night. I don’t have to tell the internet that I have winter dandruff, or that I drive my kids to school wearing pajamas, or that I have a wine stain on my sheets because I fell asleep and spilled my glass.
This is what I want you to think of me.
This is me IRL.
All that aside, I get shit done. Organization and time management are skills that we learn, not talents that we are born with (though I do think that it comes more easily to some people than to others). I am not from successful, organized people so, not having role models, I have had to work hard to become successful and organized. I have been thinking about how to distill years of trial and error into simple advice and I came up with a two-step program:
STEP 1: LISTS
I am a hard core list maker. To-Do lists, shopping lists, lists of books that I want to read and movies that I mean to see, lists of house projects and knitting projects and recipes. I used to carry around notebooks so that I could jot things down as they came to me, but now I have TECHNOLOGY. There are some excellent apps out there to help you get organized.
I can’t stop recommending TeuxDeux to anyone who will listen. TeuxDeux, and it’s smartphone app Tehda, have been a lifesaver. I don’t like fiddly apps, and TeuxDeux is simple and clean and incredibly easy to use. You simply type in the item under which day you need to do it and hit return. On completion, one tap crosses the item off your list. You can also drag and drop items from day to day, to reorganize your time. If you don’t complete an item, it rolls over to the next day - and will continue to do so until you cross it off. I no longer have to write a fresh list every day, and I no longer “lose” items in the transfer. Also, you want to get stuff done so that it doesn’t roll into the next day and fuck up your flow. My husband used to have a to-do list in Word that was so long and overwhelming that he would basically have a panic attack every time he looked at it. Now he gets a lot more of the details done, because he can organize his week into manageable chunks and look at it all at one glance. TeuxDeux and Tehda automatically synch up, so I always have my list in front of me.
Here is the start of my week. Some of those things were added this morning, and some of them rolled over from the weekend. I have more things to add and I have to break it up into multiple days because there’s no way in hell that’s all getting done today, especially when I cross-reference it with my Google Calendar (more on that, later).
TeuxDeux also has “Someday” lists. I love this because I don’t want to put things that I intend to do, eventually, when I get around to it, on the same list as actual important things that I need to do like NOW.
I just recently started using Out Of Milk for my shopping lists and I really like it so far! I haven’t yet explored all of it’s features, one of which is the ability to fill in your “pantry” and make a list of all the items that you already have. This would be pretty handy for me because I am always convinced that I am out of things like rice noodles and black beans, and we have them in the house nine times out of ten. I like that you can keep separate lists for different stores, and that you can build a library of items and their prices - when I have time to sit down and plug those things in, I will. That way I’ll know how much I’ll be spending without having to do the math every fucking time. (Oh hey, did you see my earlier post on money management?) You can easily move items from one list to another - so like if Trader Joe’s is out of string cheese, I can move it to my “Groceries” list (“I Guess I Have To Go To Stop & Shop Because Trader Joe’s Is Out Of String Cheese” was too long of a title).
These two things have helped me tremendously. As long as I remember to slap it on one of these lists, I will remember to do it/buy it. Having both of these on my phone is key. Even if I’m in the car and one of the kids is like, “I need a thing” or “I need you to do a thing”, I hand them my phone and tell them to plug it in. Remember, having list isn’t enough! You have to actively curate the list. Make it one of your priorities to take minute in the morning and/or at night to take stock of what you need to do, and what you have already accomplished. It is SO satisfying to scratch an item off your list! You will soon become addicted to Doing Stuff, just to earn that scratch.
NEXT TIME: SCHEDULING
I’m going to be up front with you. I am seriously off my game, and it’s been worse since we got back from our vacation. I haven’t cooked anything worth a damn, with the exception of a pretty good meatloaf the other night (I’m tinkering with that one before I post it). I’m working, but I’m not going to blog about sending emails and ordering merchandise. I briefly considered posting about the way I organized my kitchen cabinets but frankly I’m not re-inventing the wheel here, I just put all the tea in one spot and dedicated a whole shelf to Asian ingredients.
I’ve attempted a couple things that just did not come out the way I wanted them to, one being lamb carnitas. I misjudged how long to leave it in the oven and it dried the heck out. We ate it anyway. It was……fine. Since I am incapable of throwing food away, I halfheartedly packed up the leftovers then took to bed in disgrace.
Today I put that slightly dried lamb in a quesadilla, and you know what? It was really frigging good. Taco cheese + goat cheese + lamb + fresh spinach + whole grain tortilla = REDEMPTION.
Let us all say a prayer that the curse on my kitchen may be lifted, and that tonight’s steak be juicy and delicious. That reminds me, I need to marinate those suckers.
Also! Check the adorable old-school Anchor Hocking pitcher that I got at Target for six bucks! I got a second one with a tangerine lid, and they match my kitchen. I like to keep infused water in the fridge and these are a perfect size. I think my grandmother or maybe my aunt had something like this when I was a little kid.
Go right from the inspiration — the vision — to actually making it. Don’t think it through. Don’t talk about it. Don’t plan it. Dive in and start making it happen. If you do that — if you can start rocking — you’ll get some momentum, and when you have some momentum then the project has a chance, because now you’re into it. It’s going somewhere, it’s tangible. Sure, you’ll still run up against problems to solve and decisions to make, but you’ll approach these in the moment and solve them in the moment. You’ll solve them so you can keep moving.
Today I intended to post about enchiladas, but I forgot to set the timer on them and I was drinking wine with my friend and I, um, overcooked them. The moral of the story is always set a timer even if you are sitting five feet away from your oven and especially if you are drinking wine.
Instead, I am going to link to a bunch of stuff that I like, and that you should read, on the subject of money. I was poor, and now I’m not-poor, and I am grateful for that. However, I suffer from Poor Kid Syndrome. Symptoms include but are not limited to; the feeling that this is all a huge fluke and that any minute now someone is going to knock on your door and be like, “Yeah, no.” and send you back to where you came from, and constant, chest-tightening panic that causes you to check your ban account several times per day. I am not great with money, but I am not terrible either. To be “great” with money you’re supposed to budget and shit, and the thought of setting a budget freaks me out for some reason. Besides, Suze Orman says that budgets are like fad diets and they just set you up for failure. Suze seems to know what she’s talking about, so I’m going with her on that one.
Jeffrey and I were both poor kids, so grown up money is scary and kind of confusing. We recently got a financial planner (Mind you, we are in our late thirties and we own stuff. Financial planners are obviously not for everyone, nor were they for us until like, last year.) and she pointed us towards mint.com to keep track of our stuff. Mint is like an easier version of Quickbooks, kind of. It’s free to enroll and it has a handy app that syncs with the site. It makes it easy to figure out where your money is at, and where it goes. You can sync it with your bank accounts and credit cards, and it keeps track of your spending by category. So say you go to the Piggly Wiggly and use your debit card. It recognizes that the Piggly Wiggly is a grocery store, and records the money that you spend there as have been spent on groceries. If you buy groceries on Amazon, you can go in and manually change that transaction and put it in the grocery category. You can also set budgets (I ballparked mine just for the sake of keeping track) and set savings goals. That is really cool. Say I want to save for a weekend in New York City. I itemize each cost of the trip (train, hotel, food, shopping money, admission to the Guggenheim) and set the total as my goal. You can have multiple goals going at once, and every time you log in it shows you how far along you are in achieving them. One drawback that I found was that it doesn’t know when it’s Christmas, for example, so I kept getting panicky messages about “Unusual Spending”. I wasn’t about to set an Etsy budget, so I just ignored them. It also freaks out when I go to Costco - like “WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING WITH ALL THOSE GROCERIES” - or make a big purchase, so I have to play with it a little.
I love it. This is an accessible, feasible savings plan for anyone with a steady paycheck.
I also really enjoy The Billfold for good, solid, real financial advice. I wish it had been around back when I was struggling, since most financial writing out there is aimed at people who actually have money and not people who need to know how to make the most out of what little they have. It’s easy to get discouraged and jealous and angry when you’re reading about people refinancing their fucking boats or summer homes or whatever so that their kid can go to private school, when you’ve got a $275 paycheck for 40 hours of exhausting work and you have to make it stretch 25 ways for a family of four. There’s a lot out there on how to get rich, and not a lot about how to live poor.
The one awesome bit of advice that I picked up along the way that I still do today, and I don’t even remember where it came from, is to keep a bill calendar. Use whatever calendar/planner you would normally use, so that it’s something you look at every day (I use Google Calendar). In a different color ink or type, write down what days bills are due and how much is due.
I’m using February as an example. The only things I have on there so far are my recurring payments, but you get the idea. I know that my YMCA membership goes through on the same day every month, so I have it plugged in as a recurring event. Same with my MaxFun donation and my cell phone bill. My cell phone bill amount varies from month to month, so I edit it in when I get the bill. When it’s laid out in front of you on a calendar, it feels so much more manageable than a stack of bills. I can go, “Ok, I need this much this week, this much next week, and I have a big payment coming up so I need to make sure that I have enough funds for that”. Also, if you have any automatic payments set up through your bank’s online bill pay, you can remind yourself of them.
Like I said, I’m no expert! I just thought I’d pass along some things of interest. Money is scary, y’all, and it’s nice to be able to breathe easier knowing that you’ve got a handle on your funds.
For bonus reading, I love these two articles from Cracked. Funny and true.