Biked 25 miles today

I was suppose to bike with my brothers but both of em flaked. My back-up is a guy who goes by the name Zeke. Not his real name. He is an interesting character. I don’t think he realizes how cute he is, as this is the only reason why I listen to his ridiculous rants.

New Jersey is not a great place to grow up for people in certain economic situations. Zeke grew up poor. So did I. I was never subjected to drugs at an early age. I didn’t drink in high school. I never did hard drugs, or spent time in jail for that.

Zeke has. It seems like his whole life is involved with staying out of jail. Yet, he remains positive and humorous all the time. He is a very funny guy, and says the oddest things. Mostly concerning murdering large groups of people, but in a dry funny way. He really cracks me up. Apparently most people take him too seriously or just don’t get his humor. I do.

His stories start with, “one time when I was smoking crack..” Or, “when I was high on 14 doses of heroine..”. I just find someone who has survived this long a small miracle. And he’s funny. He doesn’t look down on himself or bemoan his lot in life. I laugh because his truck is broken, and this straight kid who is maybe 22 has to come around and open the truck door for me says “chivalry isn’t dead”. It cracks me up! I tell him sometimes it feels like we are dating. He knows I am gay, but we never talk about it and his conversations are gender neutral unless he is talking about his ex girlfriends. He is very refreshing to me. I just wish he had a slightly easier life.

African Violet Addicts – On Facebook

So, my continued obsession with African Violets has turned into a small page on Facebook with over 350 members. WOW!! Thanks everyone! 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/185442758301954/

I think we have over 300 photos now. Which is a LOT! My personal collection is doing fine. Had a lot of losses this winter. Tweaking a few soil and water issues, hoping for better results. Things are looking up! 

If you like African Violets, and you are an ADDICT or think you might enjoy being addicted to something “so harmless”, please.. check us out! It seems like Google has completely blanked out our page – I don’t know what to do about this. There is another group AVAddictions – which only has 15 members. It is odd they would come up and my page does not – EVER? 

If anyone knows what to do about this, please let me know. I am not trying to be a publicity hog or anything, just think that when people look for my page.. it comes up? 

Also, there are some amazing people on there who are all willing to help with questions and information. So please feel free to join and ask away! :) Now, let’s see if this works.. I haven’t posted anything in forever!

 

Verizon – What the Hell??!!

I have a pre-paid Verizon phone. It used to tell me by text when my bill was due. Now it just shuts off and I have to call and pay over the phone. Phone shuts off today. I call, automated system tells me my next due bill is on the 30th NEXT MONTH. Okay, I have tried 10 different ways to contact a live person and 5 times to use the automated system to pay my bill. NOTHING works. I can’t reach anyone, even by hitting 0 – it just hangs up on on.

Remember my woes with ATT after 15 years? I WAS so happy with
Verizon. Now, I am very skeptical! If this does not get resolved in the next 24 hours, I will have to once again change my number and join a new service. Any suggestions? I am going to be SO SAD if I have to give up my flip phone!

Boo! Hiss! ANY company that makes you jump through hoops to reach them, is a company to avoid!

Experimenting with Tofu

Yesterday Vaughn and I picked up some locally made tofu. Not having a clue what to do with it, I remembered the only thing in this world that ever made me crave ketchup – the Chicken Fried Tofu from Whole Foods.

I am no great chef, and I could never deduce such a complicated process so I wooed one of the chefs back in the day, and gained their secret (which I will not share), but it lead me to come up with this process.

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First I drained and pressed the tofu.

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Then I proceeded to cut it up into small chunks. It is amazing that this used only fifty cents worth of tofu. It made two servings once fried up.

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I was craving something for lunch but wanted “healthy”. This isn’t exactly healthy, but it is better than a hamburger… maybe?

After cutting up the tofu I seasoned the first half with Adobe, and the second half with Sason Tropical flavor. Then fork scrambled one egg and separately dipped both parts into it first, and then the first batch into corn starch, the second half into regular flower. The Adobe I fried in olive oil until brown as possible without burning. The second batch I fried in sunflower oil.

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After all this, I have to say the first batch was slightly better, but the flavor of both was pretty amazing. I at it all with much gusto. The only thing I did not have was WFM 365 organic ketchup (the best in the world).

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Over all, I was very satisfied and will make my next batch using the Adobe with cornstarch and olive oil to fry. YUM! Not a perfect reproduction, but nice enough to make me happy!

Never trust the Weather people!

Vaughn and I have been shopping around picking up fun things for the house. Every now and again we come across some really great deals. Recently we picked up two things from Overstock. A pair of chairs that you put together (which seems to be the norm these days) and a “poof” – which is suppose to act as a footstool, but it is really too short.

The footstool we really like, especially since we found the exact same one for three times as much in a local store. Though it is short, it is still usable and perfect for the space.

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The chair you see behind it, is nice over all and a fantastic price. The problem was putting it together. I have put together lots of furniture. I even put together an IKEA wardrobe that took 8 hours to achieve, but was perfect when done. THESE chairs had wonky screw holes. Three in each chair just wouldn’t line up correctly.

We did the best we could with brute force and extra tools but were left with a gap in the same side on both chairs. If you look really hard you can see it. It is not entirely apparent, but it is annoying once you know it is there. Also, the fabric kinda puckers around the bottom edges. These will probably go somewhere else, as Vaughn is now on the hunt for the perfect “say something” chairs.

Here is a little terrarium project I did for the coffee table. It turned out super cute, and the primrose were 99 cents at ShopRite. The bowl was 7.00 at HomeGoods. I had to cut the root balls in half to make them fit, but seem to be doing just fine, and when it warms up and they stop blooming, I will plant them outside. My Grandma Carter had primrose growing along a dark concrete wall and they were so cute in the spring!

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It snowed last night. Not the 12 inches we were warned about. It didn’t come down all at once, but kinda piddled all night. The birds are really hitting the feeder this morning, but I can’t get a good shot of them as it is attached to the window and whenever I get near they scamper.

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This was the piece of furniture that started the style direction we are taking The Den:

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I said we needed something behind the love seat for people to put their drinks on, Vaughn spotted this at HomeGoods. It had a broken hinge so it was ten percent off. Easy fix. We love the look and style, we added a Capiz light:

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This is actually a Capiz from Pier 1, we cut off the extra length and I mounted this above the light fixture I switched out. What a pain in the butt that was, but it looks great! For 50.00 and some labor.. it fills this weird little hallway with a high ceiling with some character.

One the same day, we found this at Pier1 as well. I had been looking at Morrocan lamps online, when we found this in a store, it was too big for the bone console (which we had to spray down with lemon oil so Penzi would not chew it). It is now our permanently lit night light, and really gives the room a warm glow. Especially at night when I come down for some warm milk and honey, when there might be bears on the deck or I have watched too many Korean horror movies. The downstairs feels a little less scary.

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It’s a work in progress. The next project is finding the perfect carpet, something Turkish red. I guess that is enough boring details of whats going on in my life. Oh wait, I should go down and take some photos of my studio and art projects for you..

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I am a very messy painter and put up all the canvas and drop cloths to contain a bit of that. I really like the space. Need a few more supplies but mostly up and running. These new paintings look better in the photos than they do in person, weird. It is usually the other way around!

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Mostly just my tools and background work. The last one is finished and already sold so I have money to continue, Yay! Thank you Vaughn!

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There you go. Hopefully this will give everyone some clues as to what is going on and why I have not been blogging in a while. Also, I finally figured out how to use this new iPad and the WordPress App, in order to take photos and post them as I write. Its pretty amazing how that all works!

Today, I might make some cookies and or granola, finally.

A whole lotta cooking going on!

Some days are more prolific than others. I don’t know if it is the energy in the air. The fact that I have been sick a couple of days and now am coming into my own, or the oncoming storm (so they say).

It seems like we get a lot of really big storms hitting this area. I blame the Gulf disaster. Whatever we did in the gulf after the oil disaster did something to the Gulf Stream and changed the ocean pattern which controls the weather patterns. Thats my conspiracy theory anyway.

More snow and cold. Darnit. I just just turned off the heated birdbath and put away the cords! Heck if I am going to drag them back out! Birds should do some sleeping, like I will probably do? Doubt it. Snow energizes me! I don’t know if it is all the reflected light in the air or what, but it seems to give me energy!

Trying WordPress’s app for iPad. Not sure I like any program that translates to iPad with less features. It drives me nuts! How do I post my photos? Pooh! By the way, “Pooh” is my favorite new word. I think it is much more sillier and slightly more disturbing than the S word. LOL. Cuss words hardly mean anything anymore. They are just a bunch of filler for people who can’t think of an intelligent argument. If you really want to shock someone, say something completely unexpected. Pooh!

I made the worlds best oatmeal cookies. How did this happen? I took a recipe and tweaked it. This gamble paid off. I ate half of them straight out of the oven. Each cookie felt like a meal. Add milk and I didn’t feel like eating for a week. Well, that’s what my head told me.

Said recipe goes like this:
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces, or 115 grams) butter, softened
1 cup (125 grams) brown sugar lightly packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon French sea salt
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) rolled oats
1 package of Very Berry Fruit Mix (actually 7 ounces) golden raisins, currants, cranberries, dark raisins, blueberries, tart and bing cherries or you can just use 1 cup of raisins.
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (65 grams)

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and sunflower seeds.

Heat oven to 350°F (175°C) before you scoop the cookies, so that it’s fully heated when you’re ready to put them in. Cookies are done when you can smell them and they are no longer “soft”. Mine took 25 minutes. I went with the original 12 minutes but the cookies were so darn thick, they took a long time (or maybe it’s my oven). They came out perfect is all I have to say. This made 15 cookies for me or a large cookie sheet. You can make smaller or larger. Honestly, these were so hearty that my normally ravenous appetite was satisfied with just a few.

You might want to make two batches. One to eat, and one to freeze for later. After I made the cookies the local Girl Scout delivered our four boxes… Vaughn took one bite of their cookies, and one bite of my cookies and told me to throw the box cookies out. We normally eat a box each, but three cookies each was enough to fill both our cravings.

I should have taken photos during the whole process. My hands were SO sticky with the dough it was impossible. It is not like regular cookie dough. They don’t scoop well, and they tend to fall apart. Be patient and do you best, they are worth it! The berry mix costs 2.99 from ShopRite.

I might make these again tonight and take some photos to post later. Hopefully, I remembered this recipe correctly. I always change things as I go.

Tonight I plan on baking salmon, cooking sweet potatoes and winter squash in the crock pot, baking cauliflower and making eggplant chips. I need an assistant to take photos as I do all this.

Sent away for some orchid cactus cuttings and plant. After one false shipping, I finally got two leaves. I thought they were coming UPS. Unfortunately since I was sick and didn’t want to go out, Penzi didn’t get her normal long walks and I didn’t make it down to the mailbox. My leaves were sitting in the freezing temps over night. Who knows. They might live. If you know anything about Orchid Cactus, they are mildly hearty, and put up with a lot. Beautiful plant! Can’t wait to get mine going and see if I can keep them going for years to come.

A friend of mine used to grow a Night Blooming Cereus (or something of that spelling). He would throw a cocktail party one of the nights, during the one week it would bloom in the year. They are similar to Christmas cactus, but they only bloom one week instead of a whole month (or so). Usually pleasantly scented, they are really an unusual beauty to behold!

The two varieties I got are Dolly Madison and Norma Cantifo – one is yellow, the other orange. We will see if they survive at all. I am suppose to dry them out until they are almost dead before planting. And not water them, just mist them. Very tricky!

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Sorry I haven’t written for a while, and Caramel Sauce.

I have been doing so much lately. I have been remiss on writing. Sorry about that. Too much to go into detail before I run out of the house to the gym in order to avoid the dog walker. We had a mix up of late and our favorite dog walker is no longer available. There isn’t anything really wrong with this one, but I don’t want to be trapped with conversation. Sad, huh? She is really good with Penzi, our Rhodesian Ridgeback. I am just not in the mood for one sided conversations early in the morning, and would rather hit the eliptical – even though I am not loosing any weight. My problem is I build muscle really fast, and though my body is becoming healthier, I stay the same weight for at least two weeks after starting a new work out routine. Very demotivational, I may add. Hard to keep it up, but I am trying.

Been sick for a couple of days, I swear it is pnemonia again, but lets wait a couple of months before I actually do anything about it. Thats the way I am.

Been experimenting with cooking again, and found this amazing NO CORN SYRUP recipe: 1/4 c. butter
1/8 c. (I used half and half because it is what I had on hand)
1/2 c. brown sugar
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pot and cook at medium heat, constantly stirring. Once it starts to boil, set your timer for two minutes and continue to stir. At two minutes, take it off the heat and use immediately or you can store for up to a week in the fridge (so I have been told). A fantastic substitute for that yucky store crap – use for dipping apples or drizzling on ice cream (if you have a diabetic death wish).

I made popcorn and drizzled it on. I wanted sweet popcorn, and this was perfect. It was sticky to eat. Maybe if I put it on a cookie sheet and baked it, it would have dried out and been more like caramel corn, I will try that next time. I only ate half a batch (the amount my hot air popcorn popper makes). Left the rest in a bowl with a paper towel on top overnight, and it dried perfectly by morning. YAY! I can now just bag it up into “single servings” and try to restrain myself from eating it all at once.

Okay, have to get ready for the gym and hope the dog lady is done before I get back. She tried to fake me out last time and walked the dog for an hour instead of 30 minutes. Ha ha, I went shopping at Lowe’s after the gym and that ALWAYS takes an hour to mentally make my list of things I need. I am sure the employees think I am either a shopplifter or a Secret Shopper. I look at lot!

When I get back – the BEST oatmeal cookie recipe I just came up with!!! OMG they were SO good!

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Little Falls Ny, Dinner and Ghosts.

Waking up at 11:30 when the alcohol wears off, I realize suddenly why dinner was so expensive. When the waiter tells you there is a small up-charge for ordering outside the menu included in the price of our room, being dismissive will only land you with a 179.00 up charge.

Yes, I ordered the bunny. Yes, I ate 179.00 dollars worth of somebodies bunny that they loved and cherished and eventually developed an allergy to, leaving it at a pet shelter to be cooked in a fairly nice French restaurant that did nothing to improve its taste. I should have had the salmon.

Drinks were amazing. Appetizers was an amazing cheese and artichoke dish with the best scallops I have ever had. EVER!!!

If you told me the scallops were almost 200 dollars I would have believed it. This is all my fault, I blame myself and not the two STRONG white Russians I had. It was just a bit of a shock when the bill came, but more so now I am awake and my mind is clear and rational with aftershock. I am also awake due to many strange noises.

Our suite is large. Heck, the bathroom is larger than my bedroom at Kyle’s. Given the generous size of the bedroom, you would think the bed would at the very least be a queen. Vaughn and I have slept on a twin bed together (that was more comfortable). We have slept on sleep number beds, air mattresses, futons and floors. We have never slept in such a large room with a double bed before. So much wasted space. It reminds me of the bedroom I stayed in Savannah Georgia, where the previous tenant had hung himself in the closet where the light would go on all by itself. (that’s another story).

Everything is dated but nice. It is decorated like staying at your widowed grandfather’s apartment. Old flowery wallpaper compliments the antique glass fixtures and newish modern pieces.

There a small bar downstairs, the murmuring has finally stopped. I would not exchange this experience for the world. It is times like these – living and staying in challenging places that make life rich!

The snow plow has just now stopped at 12:03. It was LOUD. The 1″ of dust that fell really needed all that noise, also we are right by some very active train tracks.

Maybe the temps will drop even more and there will be deadly black ice to contend with. I had to turn the heat up, the windows are 100 years old and have never seen a drop of insulation in their lives. Original single panes you can feel the air come in around. Across the street from a bar, I can hear every door slam, every tire crunching on the ice and even the motors running on the street below. The floors and walls are just as thin, there are people going up and down the stairs, which were built in what looks like the alley between buildings in a very clever way to unify these rooms into apartments and hotel rooms.

Every time the floor board radiators start up, it sounds like a very large dog drinking water noisily. The ghost in the bathroom violently wrenched the door almost out of my hand when I went to open it. Sure, the frame is crooked and has been painted 100 times making it very difficult to close – perhaps creating some dynamic tension making it bounce on opening. No, it didn’t do it for Vaughn. Definitely a ghost. Damn, I am really awake now.

We are hunting African Violets. This whole trip is to populate two more shelves on my bakers rack in the kitchen window. Two nurseries to visit, and a list of prizes we hope to obtain. It is already tomorrow and the radiator is licking itself. Maybe I can go back to sleep.

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Stingy with photos of late.

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have not been stingy on purpose. My IPhoto no longer works. In my infinite wisdom, I deleted a bunch of files 370,000 of them. They were bogging down my computer and somehow IPhoto was in there. It took a lot of work to track down those files, and now my start up discs are misplaced. Boo!

Once I find them, and get it back up and working I will be able to upload photos and get them posted online.

On another note, I have been painting more. I need to paint a whole lot more, get cards made, come up with a website and focus on what I enjoy doing, and am good at. Anyone want to help me with this? I am at a loss for how to get started. Apple keeps changing everything, so the tools I used to use don’t seem to be available anymore. Oh well, life is weird. See my previous post, found this as I was looking up something on myself. I’m going to go sulk some more now..

Howl’s Moving Castle and Life-long Love: 8 Years with Wesley Brad Carter – Remark on the World

Howl’s Moving Castle and Life-long Love: 8 Years with Wesley Brad Carter – Remark on the World.

This just about sums it all up. I just found this by accident, and wanted to share it will all.