Murray and his bed, plus my own likes and dislikes

I hope you all had a pleasant Independence Day holiday. Lots of people have the opportunity to take a day or two off around the holiday so maybe your days off are still going on!

I had some kind of stomach virus or more likely, food poisoning, sadly. I was down for the count from 1:30 on the holiday until now, and still not feeling good.

I mentioned the other day that my kitty Murray loves to sleep away the day under the bed covers. He loves something on his head, even my hand, which is cute. But his favorite is to sleep under the covers. He has a patented Murray head butt and gets his head under the sheet, leaps up, scrunches down like an army guy under the barbed wire, and makes his way toward the back upper corner where the pillow is.

Until I make the bed, he sleeps in the bedroom on the leather chair. The moment I come in, he gets excited and waits under the bed until I finish making it. Then he scoots in and goes under.

Today, it wasn’t any later than usual but I guess Murray did not want to wait. He found a way to go up under the fitted sheet, lol. He really likes his bed.

murray under fitted sheet.jpg
Here are a few things you might not know about me:

I have a weakness for Office Products, pens, paper, paper clips, shiny desk things, more shiny things, and especially Post-its in all shapes and sizes but especially the transparent arrow ones.

I also love writing little tiny notes on little scraps of paper or Post-its. I have a tin box on my table where I put them after I scribble blog ideas or verses to look up further. The box got full so today I took out all the little papers and I’m going through them to cull and keep. In sifting through, I notice that I needs to be a little more specific. The note where I’d hastily scribbled “Go back and re-listen to the podcast at 10:43” isn’t very helpful unless I put a name and a date to it, lol.

papers

I do not like monograms.

I love taking photos of dilapidated barns and sheds. I think they’re cool.

I am not too find of cities but I love taking photos of city-scapes. So it’s a struggle because I’m never in a city but I’d love to walk around one in the cool October air taking lots of photos. Sipping a latte. With an artfully tied handmade knit scarf around my neck, lol. Look at this photo posted on Unsplash (a free-to-use photo repository). THIS is the kind of city photo I would LOVE to take! It’s stunning.

bridge

Meanwhile back in my rural town in tiny apartment, I guess tomorrow I’ll make sure to make the bed earlier than ever, for Murray.

 

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How to cut an avocado

By Elizabeth Prata

Happy Fourth of July, you guys!

If you happen to be making guacamole today, or just want a fresh avocado on top of your salad, here is how to cut one. You guys probably know this already, but I have three avocado pics waiting to be used, so, here goes!

Slice the avocado from north pole to south pole, all around. Press your knife into the flesh until it reaches the pit. If it’s ripe, you can easily pry the two halves apart. You know it’s ripe if the exterior is not a fresh green but brownish, and soft to the touch.

Pry the pit out of the half it’s in.

Pick up one of the halves and with a sharp knife gently score it from side to side in even lines. Then score it from top to bottom in even lines. Do the same with the other half. The more lines you make the smaller the resulting chunks will be. Make sure you score it down to the skin, but oops, not so hard that the knife pokes through into your hand!

avocado 1

Take a teaspoon, or a tablespoon if the avocado is larger, and press it between the skin and the avocado flesh. Scoop as if you’re scooping ice cream. Pry out the chunks.

avocado 2

And that’s it! You now have even pieces of avocado to pop onto your sandwich or on your salad. If you’re making guacamole, I like to make smaller chunks because they are easier to mash in the bowl with the fork.

avocado 3

Enjoy your holiday, whether avocado is featured in it or not. 🙂

But I hope it is 😉

Results of my cooking today

I cooked today. My commitment to fresh food with no preservatives means I have to cook anything I want to eat. I can’t just yank open the fridge door or the cupboard and grab something in a bag. Needing to be gluten free, I can’t slap together a sandwich either.

Come with me on a tour through my kitchen.

I made for breakfast gluten free pancakes with strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. I also drizzled a light amount of honey. No syrup. I don’t favor a lot of sweetness at once. The Namaste Perfect Flour blend makes light and fluffy pancakes, so they didn’t really need a lot extra on top.

my day 1

I had to turn on the oven. Ugh I hate to do it during the summer, but what are you going to do? I need to make food. I had bought dried chick peas, hoping they would be less expensive than canned and devoid of the usual preservatives that are usually in cans. I cooked them in the crock pot for two hours in high. I drained and rinsed them in cold water, then after dumping them out onto a large cookie sheet, I patted them dry, removing any of the paper shells that came off. I poured about 2 tablespoons of oil over them and a slight bit of salt. I swished the sheet around so the chick peas got covered, and popped into the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. I added more salt and spices at the end. Adding them at the beginning tends to burn the spice onto the chick pea. My preference is curry powder, but you can add any spice to it.

my day 2.jpg

I cut up some broccoli and put it back into the plastic bag and added a bit of oil. Hold the top of the bag closed, and shake so the broccoli is covered in oil. Spread in a baking dish and add salt to taste. I repeated with the zucchini, and didn’t want to dirty another pan so I put them together. When the edges of the broccoli are crisply they are done.

my day 3

Eggplants: friends gave me some eggplants from their garden. I cut them into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. I used to remove the skin but I don’t d that any more. This dish is labor intensive to I skip the peeling now. I usually dredge them in milk-egg mixture but this time just the milk. Then dredge n gluten free flour. I cook on baking sheets at 400, turning once when they are brown and crisply, usually about 7 or 8 minutes. Skipping the egg this time was a mistake I think. The flour didn’t stay attached that well to the eggplant. Maybe it was the fact it was gluten free flour this time. I don’t know. They still came out yummy. When you put them into the fridge, they soften but a couple of minutes n my hot griddle crisps them right up again.

my day 4.jpg

I ate a green salad for lunch with sliced radishes and olives (anything fermented is supposed to be a good probiotic). I had several of the eggplant rounds on the side.

my day 5

The purple drink was another experiment. It was my snack today. Silken tofu was on way markdown so I bought it. I know it’s supposed to be good for puddings and smoothies and the like. I looked for a recipe but for some reason they all had cocoa as an ingredient. I don’t want cocoa, I don’t have cocoa, and I did not want to go buy cocoa. I made up my own recipe.

I cut up a plum and and a nectarine, added some tofu and a glug of plain yogurt. I topped it with a bit of whipped cream and some crushed almonds. It was delicious.

my day 6

I ended the day with dinner of sauted shrimp atop quinoa and green beans, and half of a seared potato. I’d cooked the potatoes in the crock pot earlier this morning. They come out pillowy soft, I love crockpot potatoes. Just wash the whole potato, put it in the crock, add about an inch of water, cover and cook on high. That’s it. No need even to poke holes in the potato. I make a bunch and put them in the fridge to make home fries with, or add cubed to soup, or potato salad, any old way.

my day 7

The shrimp were, of course, on waaaaay markdown. $3.15 for 16 mid-sized, deveined shrimp.I brought them home and cooked them immediately. I eat five at a time, so that will be three meals. If I can have a protein for $1 per serving or less, that is good. Tomorrow I’m going to have some of the shrimp in a pad Thai with rice noodles and the rest of the green beans. When I cook, I cook more than I need for that serving so as to save electricity and have some kind of ready-made food around. Or to use in leftovers.

I didn’t end up boiling the red lentils, I’ll do that tomorrow and make a kale-red lentil salad. I have to say, I have not had any gut issues since Friday when I went shopping.

So that will keep me a good while. I’ve got spinach and kale in the fridge, along with some cherries, plums, and strawberries, and a few more radishes and celery rolling around. I’m trying to go two weeks between grocery shopping forays. We’ll see.

Cooking day, and what a summer sky!

I had an absolutely terrific time at church yesterday, and then it was one of the every-other-Sundays for small group at one of the leaders’ houses where I also had a terrific time.

The sky on the drive between church and small group was amazing! Lots of dramatic clouds against slate grey skies or pure azure skies, and sometimes both. Take a look

 

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It’s so wonderful how the Word refreshes. I always feel so good on Monday. We are going through the Book of John and yesterday we happened to be at John 3:16-21. Our elder Scott did a fantastic job preaching it. It was thrilling to hear the old, old story again. The music was piercing in a good way, bringing many to tears (“Amazing Grace” will do that) and the Confessional time our other Elder Allen taught was also a time of refreshing, too.

Then after talking a while in the aisles when the service was done we departed for small groups at various homes. Despite being on the threshold of the holiday vacation week a good many people came for hot dogs and hamburgers. We spoke of His glories and shared insights from the sermon, eventually departing in the summer gloaming with His love and these precious truths buried in our hearts and minds.

Today I’ve scheduled a cooking day. When you choose not to eat any processed food, and are a vegetarian, and are trying different foods to reduce gut inflammation, it takes work and effort to ensure there is actually food in the fridge to eat. You can’t just open the cupboard or the fridge and yank out something, it has to be made by me first.

A friend with a large garden gave me some eggplants (yay friend! Thank you!) I will cut those into rounds, dredge them in some gluten-free flour and milk, and bake. I’ll also bake/roast chick peas. I need to boil up some red lentils. Red lentils cook quickly so that’s good. Also will put some potatoes in the crock pot and cut up some radishes and carrots and celery for snack.

I’d bought one ready made food on Friday: roasted crunchy green peas. I gobbled them, they were so good! I roast everything, including chick peas, so I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of peas. The Kroger label showed only a few ingredients; peas, palm oil, salt and unfortunately, food coloring. I enjoyed them very much. My weakness is salty-crunchy foods. Nuts are very expensive, potato chips and other processed snacks don’t agree with me, so I try other things like chick peas and now green peas.

Speaking of chick peas, I found them dry in a 1-pound bag. I’m going to cook them in the crock pot after the potatoes are done. This is the first time I’ll have done that. Then I’ll roast them. I had been buying them in the can, which is convenient. All you have to do is rinse them and pat them dry, then scatter on a cookie sheet and roast. Occasionally shake the pan to ensure even roasting. Add spices and salt near the end. (Adding spices at the beginning only ensures that it will burn onto the chick pea.)

However, I am not a fan of canned food with all the salt and preservatives. Rinsing them well does take care of all that, but still. It’s more expensive to buy cans also. I’m going to try the dry and see how it works.

I’d made a red lentil/quinoa salad last week that was terrific, so I will definitely repeat that. It sure is a challenge when you can’t have bread and all you want in the summer is a sandwich. It’s fast, filling, and easy to make a sandwich and there are so many healthy sandwiches to make. But no more. I’ve been eating green salads at lunch filled with lots of goodies instead, so that is OK.

There was some silken tofu for sale which I scooped up. I am going to try a silken tofu and chia seed ‘pudding,’ but all the recipes I’ve seen so far call for cocoa powder. I don’t want a chocolate based dessert. I’ll try it without cocoa powder. Or I might try a smoothie with the tofu and chia seeds, milk, and strawberries.

I’ve got a packed day planned, and I’m not even leaving the house, lol. Cooking, listening to music, reading, need to vacuum :(, writing a difficult essay for the other blog on hypocrisy (these kind of essays are sad and tearful), working with yesterday’s photos and more!

I’m still reading Moby Dick. I savor it. It is also challenging, hence the slow going. But the language! I love it. Like this:

Like some poor devils ashore that happen to know an irascible great man, they make distant unobtrusive salutations to him in the street, lest if they pursued the acquaintance further, they might receive a summary thump for their presumption.

It’s so beautiful! I love language like Melville writes. Now you can see why I like to savor it.

Time to get dressed and going. I hope you all have a marvelous day.

My little office

This might not look like much, but it’s both a victory and a pleasure. Let me explain.

bookcase.jpg

I live in a 425 sf apartment, essentially, 2 rooms plus bath. Every item brought in has to fulfill a need, be beautiful, and/or have a spot to land. I spend the bulk of my time in the apartment at the table, reading, writing, and surfing the internet, which doubles as entertainment with my various streaming services. Therefore, the dining table doubles as a desk, and this area in the kitchen as an office. But how not to have clutter? How to have everything handy, within arm’s reach? I do not want it to look messy but I want it to be functional.

If you think about all the accouterments one needs to have a viable office, it’s a lot. I have:

Printer (old, the driver is going on it…still works though )
Scanner (old driver, it’s going…still works though)
Personal Laminator
printer paper
notebooks
reference books
Bibles
notepads
prayer journal
books I’m reading now
Pens, scissors, paper clips
Post-its
Post-it Arrow Tabs
Cat Nail Clippers, comb
USB chargers
Cellphone
Speakers
Tissues
Table fan
coaster for water/tea/coffee
Lamp (good light is a must!)

All must be within hand. So I created a space where, voila, it is within reach of where I sit. It’s organized, and not-unpleasant looking. As an organizer person, that is why I call it a victory. This is what you see from different vantage points in the living room, where guests might be. Everything is on or inside the bookcase:

kitchen 1

kitchen 2

We have a mini-store at school where a salesman comes once a month to set up a display of school-related items teachers might want to buy. In May there was a darling looking little notebook I could not resist. That’s my weakness, paper and notebooks.

It’s hardcover, and inside on one cover is a lined full size pad, and on the other inside cover is another array if post-it sized pads, sticky tabs, a smaller lined pad, and an envelope to contain scraps and notes and stuff. I wasn’t sure how I’d use it, but I decided I wanted it anyway. I don’t usually gravitate to girly things, but I do like it. Maybe there’s frilly hope for me yet.

It since has become my prayer journal, and I sure do love it.

notebook1

notebook

I watched The Karate Kid again on Amazon Prime the other day. I say ‘again’ because I saw it when it first came out, 34 years ago! Hard to believe how fast time flies. It has held up very well. Everyone needs a Mr Miyagi in their life, someone to be patient, kind, and take an interest. To just be there for you.

Bert and Murray

murray in kitty bed.jpg

 

My Murray the kitty is so cute. He has so much personality. People who don’t like cats think cats are boring with no charm, but this is far from the reality. Every cat I’ve had has been different with their own unique and identifiable personalities.

Murray likes to be active at night, as most cats do. If it’s cool enough out, I open the windows before bed. After the windows have been down all day with the AC on, Murray finds an open window joyful. All night as I sleep, he races around from window to window to observe all the night life outside. He smells the smells. He watches the fireflies. No matter that my bed might be between two windows, he just leaps and skitters right over me. Plonk! Leapfrogs right on my stomach. Oomph, right over my head. I sleep with a pillow on my stomach to minimize the oomph-factor. Let him smell the great outdoors all night. It’s OK.

When I awake he follows me into the bathroom, he knows this is where I keep his food. He looks at me with big eyes as I open the container and measure out his portion. Bert’s too. Dry food only. Then he rushes over to his bowl and sits down, waiting for me to shake out Bert’s in his bowl and then do his. Chomp chomp he eats with gusto.

After that he enjoys laying on the table where I type and read. A small kitty bed is ready for him there and he lays down in it and looks at me with his eyes wide again. Soon enough he is drowsy and snoozes. After a while he jumps down and heads to the bedroom.

Murray likes to lay under the covers of the bed. He uses his patented head butt to get his head under the fringe and the layers of bedding, then scoots up under. A big lump moves under he covers like you see in the cartoons, as he makes his way to the far corner and curls up next to the pillow. Strangely, he won’t go on the bed when it’s unmade. Not any part of it. He sleeps in the leather chair if the bed isn’t made.

Always, immediately when I make the bed, he will climb up in there and nestle down He loves the bed (when it’s made) so much that sometimes I feel bad for not making it sooner.

Bert just sleeps in the kitty bed that is on the floor. He does not like to be high up but he does like to be close to me. If I move his kitty bed from near the coffee table to the kitchen table by my feet, he will always follow it and sleep as close to my feet as he can.

Cats are funny in their preferences.

 

bert

Pulled string painting and altered books

They made it look so easy…

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Finished pulled string art from some other, more talented artist

So I tried it…

 

Um, nope. Let me try thicker string.

 

Well that was a #fail. Let me try less paint, and pull quickly and more smoothly. Also less pressing down.

 

Ah! Getting there! That one looks more like the ones I saw in all the videos. Let me try again, still less paint, less pressure.

Voila! Now I have the trick! I still find it harder than it looks, but then again, I find all art harder than it looks.

I persevere though. Now for my altered art.

Fifteen years ago I learned about making Altered Books. You take a discarded book, preferably one that has a vintage cover, and glue together bunches of pages, and of the remaining pages you collage or pant over the words, leaving exposed the words you want to highlight. Each page can then tell your own story, or be a poem. Here is the title page and preface of my altered book. It’s the story of my journey toward salvation.

 

I had a hard time gluing the bunches of pages together and the book came out bulky. I also had a hard time because it was a big project. My talent is small and so my projects must be small. I kept my completed book but abandoned the process, hesitant to try again.

Recently I figured out that you can alter just ONE page. Duh. So I did a few pages last night . They look childish because I used childish materials, colored pencil and crayon, but it’s a start. It is harder than it looks, too. Writing poetry is difficult. Even looking over a series of words that already exist to patch together a poem is hard. But it’s relaxing and sometimes the stuff comes out pretty, and it’s fun, so that’s all that matters. Who doesn’t like coloring?

 

More books! The Special Store sells hardbacks for $1 and paperbacks for fifty cents. I got the Sherlock Holmes, Unbroken and Huddle of Sheep, plus the McEwan paperback there. I got the Puritan Paperback The Doctrine of Repentance for 2 cents from Amazon. Yes, 2 cents, the rest was paid for by Amazon points I’d accumulated. Score!

 

Summertime is time for trying new things, being leisurely, meditating on different things I’m learning, reading, and just relaxing. I hope that even if you don’t have vacation time coming, that you can find some time to gather your thoughts, have a cup of coffee straight through, or take a nap. It’s the little things.