26 February 2011

Project 365 - Week 9 (February 20-26, 2011)

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com


I tried making bread again.  Swedish rye this time.


This is Munchkin under our bed where she is NOT supposed to be.  The bedroom tends to be the warmest place in the apartment so I will often leave the door open while I do my hair and makeup.  Normally, she is very good about staying out but lately she has been skulking in and diving under the bed before I can grab her.  Today, I decided to go with the flow and grab some pictures.

Papa-Papa-Paparazzi!!  In order to get her out of the bedroom after this picture was taken, I got her to do something embarrassingly Pavlovian for a feline:  I grabbed a bag of Nana's kitty treats and shook them.  The cat shot out of there faster than a greased pig :).


This is the Spousal Unit playing Farmscape.  Avoidance tendencies.  I has them.  I pass them on :).


Yay!  New episodes!


Really?  What's the point?


The Spousal Unit is away at the men's retreat this weekend.  Anyone wanna guess what I'm doing?


...and a semblance of order is restored.  Please ignore the freaking footprints on the coffee table.  I'd just cleaned that before leaving to return the vacuum I'd borrowed and apparently the furry feline creature to the right felt it was her task, nay her duty to mark it up again.

22 February 2011

To The Cats

Dear Felines,

If you could manage to time the, er, occasional re-visitation of your morning meal a little better, it would be greatly appreciated.  See, when you do it after the Spousal Unit leaves?  That means I’m stuck dealing with it and you both know Mommy’s gag reflex is on high alert at times like that.  Not to mention you both choose while I’m on my knees blotting up the Resolve Pet Stain to come around and rub up all over me as if “See, Mommy, we’re sorry!  We really love you!  Kisses!” is honestly going to help at that point.  Besides, I think the meaning loses a little something when you go over the coffee table and express your deep, undying devotion to it next.  Consider that a small hint for you.  So while you’re off telling the coffee table, the couch, and the DVD player how much you love them too, just know that Mommy is fantasizing about kitty throw rugs.

If you do it before Daddy heads out the door, he will clean up the mess which is good for Mommy.  Also, you know better than to try and tell him how much you love him right then.  You both have the good sense to wait until he is done moaning, calling you names and threatening you with an introduction to the food chain before you try and butter him up with the big eyes and the pink noses that promise never to commit such an atrocity again (hah!).

We don’t ask for much.  Neither of you have ever had to work a day in your life.  Indolence is your credo.  Yes, we shaved you both once (and it was really funny) but we’re the ones that keep you in water and kibble.  Truth be told, when we go shopping and I pick up a bag of your food, Daddy is the one that asks if we have to keep feeding you.

So, please, think of Mommy.  Remember, she has the kitty treats and you have no thumbs.

19 February 2011

Project 365 - Week Eight (February 13-19, 2011)

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com

I seemed to be greatly food-oriented this week


I was the sub for dinner in our Life Group tonight.  I made Chocolate Stout Chili and a new bread recipe - Confetti Fiesta bread.  It looked like the picture in the magazine (whew!) and from all accounts, it seemed to go over pretty well.


For your pixelated pleasure :).  This week, I started the last round of Proving This Medication Doesn't Work.  Unfortunately, that means taking the maximum dose and dealing with the maximum side effects which include (but are not limited to) nausea, fatigue, somnolence, numbness, and painful, sharp tingling in my hands and feet.  I mean, really, if I'm going to have Spidey sense, can't I at least shoot nifty webs or something?


My newest granddaughter, Emery, modeling what my daughter calls "the latest in baby old man pants" :).


What I made for dinner tonight:  Adobo Beef Tacos with Pickled Onions and Queso Fresco.


Another dinner post :).  Chicken Drumettes with Momofuku Vinaigrette.  Recipe on blog.


My dad would have been 72 today.


This is an avatar-like thing I've had on my desk for several years.  Today, she is supposed to be encouraging me to work on the story residing on my jump drive.  What you can't see is she is actually glaring at me because instead of the story, I currently have a game of Farmscape open on my computer.

Avoidance tendencies.  I has them :P.

17 February 2011

Recipe - Chicken Wings with Momofuku Octo Vinaigrette

(recipe courtesy of David Chang via Steamy Kitchen)

This is the recipe title that proves my husband is a twelve-year-old :P.


2 tablespoons finely choopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped, peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chili pepper*

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil**
Freshly ground black pepper**

*A word about the peppers.  Per the recipe, you can use any type of chili pepper you want from jalapeno to serrano to the Thai brid's eye chili.  If you don't like your food particularly spicy, just remember to split the pepper in half and remove the ribs and seeds.  The easiest way I've found to do that is to use a spoon to scrape them out.  Just remember to either wear gloves while doing this or else wash your hands directly afterwards and do NOT touch your face or eyes.  The pain level is about on par with touching your eyes with Ben-Gay residue on your hands.

Don't ask how I know that.  Just go with it...

**not pictured.


3 lbs chicken wings or drumettes

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper or spray the pan with cooking spray.  Place the chicken on the pan in a single layer.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the wings or drumettes over halfway through the cooking process.

While the chicken is baking, make the vinaigrette.  Combine the ingredients in a bowl large enough to fit all of the chicken. 

When the chicken is finished, toss the wings or drumettes in the vinaigrette to coat.

This was pretty good.  The vinaigrette itself has some tart and sweet flavors and the ginger comes through quite nicely as well.  I didn't have too much spice without the ribs and seeds of the peppers which I tend to cut down on as a general rule since the SU has this thing about seeing through time (thank you, Simpsons) due to the heat quotient of foods thanks to his gastric bypass.  The recipe does suggest adding cilantro which I did, and that upped the heat nicely without taking it into awe-inspiring levels.

The only thing I did differently than the recipe was I tossed the drumettes in the vinaigrette and then put them back in the oven for a few minutes for the sauce to cook slightly and the sugars to carmelize just a bit.  Then I took them out and tossed them in the remaining vinaigrette once more.

Final product:

15 February 2011

Yes! (also known as Praying Like Mad)

When we left Tennessee, we left a house that had not yet sold along with the business that we had to close down.  We paid on the house as long as we could but finally had to tell the bank that we could not pay on it any longer and the house went into foreclosure.  It's been sitting empty since May of last year and we've been dealing with the bank on foreclosure and potential short-sell issues.  We've had people looking at the house, we've gotten great feedback on it, but nobody had made an offer.

Just got off the phone with the Spousal Unit who had gotten a call from the realtor.  We have an offer on the house for very close to what we were asking.  It's the first offer we've had since the house went up for sale last year.  This would leave us only a minimal amount the bank would need to hand wave away as a short-sell.  If they approve it, the bank would get money, there would be no foreclosure, and there would be people in the house paying the bank on a new mortgage.  Both sets of realtors are writing up offers to submit to the bank.

We're praying.  If anyone else wants to join in, feel free.  The more, the merrier :).  Even in the midst of the desert of these past couple years, God has been doing some amazing things in the lives of the Cyber Hermit and the Spousal Unit.  Sometimes it's been in hindsight and sometimes it's been right under our noses but He's been faithful and will continue to be.

14 February 2011

Random Playlist #3 - The Gladiator Waltz (Hans Zimmer, More Music from Gladiator)

God has rarely ever spoken to me in a voice that I can audibly hear.  He's used other ways and other people including a method that is remarkably like when my dad used to thump me on the head with his thumb and ring finger when I'd complain about what my mom cooked for dinner.  But, audibly?  Not so much.

I'd already had this soundtrack in rotation on my iPod.  It made great running music for those early Saturday morning five-mile training runs ("Come on, if Maximus can battle lion, tigers, and Nubians, oh my!  Then you can certainly get your tuchus maximus out of bed and hit the asphalt" is kinda how the self-talk went).

A wee bit of background:  I had been training in muay thai/boxing/MMA four years by this point (we were a combo church/gym - our pastor was a former fighter).  Although I had participated in smokers and sparring, I had yet to actually get to step in the cage and that was all I really wanted.  I'd told God all I wanted was one fight - just one - and they kept getting set up and then cancelled or called off for any number of reasons which, as you might imagine, was a little frustrating.

What I had also been dealing with during those four years was a rather intensive lesson from God in self-worth.  In my gym, I was also the oldest female and the only heavyweight female.  Having been big or overweight the majority of my life, I had taken to being sarcastic or self-deprecating about it.  Hey, if I get there first, nobody else can say anything, right?

What I didn’t realize as I continued to work and sweat was that I was earning the respect of the other people in the gym – fighters and non-fighters, men and women. People would use me as an example to new folk coming into the gym. I was told multiple times that nobody worked as hard as I did. I had a cross that would drop a cow. And I missed all of this because I was still so wrapped up in being “fat” and feeling like I continually had to prove myself because I *wasn’t* a size six with bouncy hair and slender thighs.  I was too sure that I must have been made wrong.  Getting the fight became THE thing that would prove my worth to myself and everyone around me.  Never mind what people were saying about me.  Never mind that people were telling me to my face (guy fighters, too, which still knocks me out to this day) "You're my inspiration" or "you're my hero".  I had my self-worth so twisted up that all I heard in my head was "Yeah, you're an okay fighter/person for a fat chick."  

Ah, the stupidity which your mind assures you must be true :P.

In November 2008, I had a(nother) fight scheduled.  When you get news that a match has been made for you, that's when you steadily start ramping up your workouts, working to a point where you are at your maximum peak just before the fight but not working so much that you overtrain and are exhausted.  I was at less than two weeks out from the match before - you guessed it - my opponent cancelled on me.  To say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly.

To his everlasting credit, the Spousal Unit sat me down and reminded me that as a fighter and instructor at the gym, I had a lot of people looking up to me; ergo, I had two choices.  One, I could whine and cry and moan about how unfair it all was and how I got screwed out of yet another fight, and how the fat chick was never going to get her shot or I could go for what was behind the second door, Monty.  I could suck it up in front of those people who were looking up to me and admit that, yeah, it sucked but, hey, that's what happens sometimes and now it was just time to buckle down and prepare for the next opportunity.

And, sweetie, remember that guy named Job?  Remember when God said if you know so much better, why don't you go give it a shot?  Every time you're saying stuff about how your body is this or that, you're saying God didn't know what He was doing when in fact He'd make you the same way all over again.  Why?  Because you're the only one who can do what He wants you do to.  All those people who look up to you don't care about your looks.  It's your character they gravitate to.

Cue the clue-by-four whacking me upside the head as the message finally started to sink in.

So I went out for my training run the Saturday after the fight cancellation.  While I was running, a couple specific songs came on my iPod and I felt like God was giving me a heads up that He wanted my attention for some reason.  This song - The Gladiator Waltz - was one of them.  This version contains Maximus' speech to his men just before they attack the Germanic tribes and, at the end of the speech just before the music starts, he says, "What we do in life echoes in eternity".  The music itself lasts about eight or nine minutes and I kept running on my route all through it.  Right after this song finished, I very clearly heard God say "Continue to appreciate the journey."

By that, I understood that I had to let go of (1) the need to fight as a way of somehow proving myself and (2) getting rid of the "fat chick" mentality.  I had already proved myself - just been too blind to see it - and, really, how often do you get to be somebody's hero?  I also had to drop the idea that I was "made wrong" because I wasn't.  I was made the way I was supposed to be because there is a purpose in how I was made.  I have a purpose now with the body I have and the skills I have and not when I reach some mythical idea of perfection that I've created.  That doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't diet but I can't allow my weight to take over and become what defines me.  I can strive to reach a goal but I can't let it consume me to the point where it affects my self-worth to the point where I "live or die" by whether or not I reach it.

What I was doing in the gym through training and teaching and spending time with the women there had a greater and far-reaching effect than just me showing them how to throw a kick or a proper left hook.  I was there to minister as well and, sad to say, there were times I got so wrapped up in my issues that I probably missed some opportunities.  Once I received my clue-by-four, my perspective widened and, looking back, I can see where my opportunities to minister grew as well.  I realized the choices I make and how I live them out not only affect the people around me, they may also impact people I may never even be aware of.

In March 2009, I finally got my fight.  I knew it was the one God had for me now that my perspective was where it should be.  (I won - woohoo!).  Since then, I can't say I haven't still had some bad days where my hair does anything but bounce or behave, and days where I'd like to donate my body fat to medical science (no, really, you can keep it!); however, on those days, I try to remind myself that God took the time to speak to me about continuing to appreciate the journey.

I also figured that since God used one of my primary sources (music) to get my attention, I would give myself a permanent reminder so I had Maximus' speech tattooed on me in Latin:

May I always do my best to live by it.

12 February 2011

Project 365 - Week 7 (February 6-12, 2011)

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com


Instead of watching the Superbowl, the Spousal Unit and I made a big bowl of popcorn and watched the last episode of the first series of the BBC's new retelling of Sherlock Holmes.  It's quite good -  updated for the 21st century while remaining very true to the source material.


My granddaughter, Rylie, exhibiting her unique fashion sense.


Nineteen years ago today, Sergeant Pepper didn't teach the band to play...but we did get married.


Work was closed today due to the Snowpocalypse so I spent some more time than usual reading my devotional book.


The main ingredients from tonight's dinner:  Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.


Momma Frans is too kind - I think I must be a nerd because I am ridiculously excited about the fact that since we now have AT&T/U-verse (and that it comes with a DVR), I can now program my DVR from my iPhone.  Did I mention "ridiculously excited"?


We went hiking along the Isabella Jo trail down at Big Dam Bridge today.  As you can see, I'm still futzing with the I-wanna-be-Photoshop program with the 3rd and 5th pictures :).

11 February 2011

Reading recs, anyone? Bueller?

I read, like, a lot and none of my favorite authors are coming out with new books until the April-June timeline or later (curse you, UK authors!  *shakes fist*).  So I'm hoping somebody might have some ideas for authors they might like to share.  I have a Kindle so they don't necessarily have to be hard copy only books.  I read mostly fantasy, sci-fi and mystery (Brit and historical) with some nonfiction (Tudor history, Vietnam) and social science thrown in.  I also read some Christian non-fiction but tend to steer clear of Christian fiction as what I've tested is stuff I've found to not be very well-written and kinda formulaic - but I am willing to have my mind changed.

The one book I probably give away time and time again is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  That book is MADE of awesome.

Some of the authors I have read are:

Fantasy - Robin Hobb, George R. R. Martin, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Stephen Deas, Alex Bledsoe, M.K. Hobson, Chris Wooding, Libba Bray
Science Fiction - Mary Doria Russell
Mystery - Elizabeth George, C.J. Sansom, Mark Billingham, G.J. Moffat, Stephen Booth
Christian non-fiction - Philip Yancey, Beth Moore, Brennan Manning 
Non-fiction - Antonia Fraser, Alison Weir
Fiction - Mary Doria Russell, Alison Weir

I am probably going to go home, look at my shelves and think "Oh yeah, how could I forget so-and-so!" but this is probably a representative sampling so, please, help a bookworm out?

05 February 2011

Project 365: Week Six (January 30 - February 5, 2011)

Project 365 button designed by http://richgift.blogspot.com



This is my promo picture from when I was fighting.  I know it wasn't a picture I specifically took today but it felt appropriate for what's been going on in my life physically and spiritually as a reminder to keep fighting and not to give up.  The tattoo is in Thai and reads "strong/fighter" and "divine grace."


Earlier in the month, y'all were introduced to my replacement iPod.  I initially named him Frank but it just didn't seem to fit.  His permanent name has now suggested itself so I would like to (re)introduce you to Vlad which stands for Very Little Audio Device.  Long may he reign :).


This is the unexpected present my husband brought home to me.  It's a dough cutter/bench scraper.  It was especially nice because it came at the end of what had started out to be not such a great day and his gift was really lovely; what was needed without him even knowing it.

If you're asking why not real flowers, well, besides the cost, it's the fact the cats eat 'em.  We can't leave anything plant-like, leafy, green or flowery unattended or it will be chewed, gnawed, snacked, nibbled, licked, tasted or any other assortment of eating verbs - all of which leads to one or both of us throwing something at one or both cats and yelling, "Hey!  Not for you, D'Amato!"

(And I've now realized what a complete NERD I am.  So far in P365, I have managed to quote or reference Firefly, X-Files, Fringe, Princess Bride and now Star Trek.  Oy vey...).


Making flour tortillas for chicken chimichangas (recipe for both on blog).


I am the cat's footstool.


Driving home during the rumored Snowmageddon.


Dried ancho chiles.  These are the start to the sauce for spicy short rib tacos.