Thursday, July 18, 2013

Taking and giving and giving back

I've been asking some ridiculous things lately. Making outrageous requests, if you will. My thoughts on asking are that when you ask, you don't have an expected answer. Maybe a hopeful one, but not expected, so it doesn't hurt to ask, worst case you're in the same spot that you started in, and at least you won't wonder what if you had asked. I partially credit this TED talk that, among other points, encourages making use of your weak ties.

Everyone has been so awesome lately, and pretty much everything I've been asking for I've gotten in some degree. (Numerous helpers with my basement flooding including getting the water out and offering me hot showers while the water heater was out of commission, being offered places to stay out of town (with excessive hospitality), dog sitting while I was gone, borrowing of equipment, giving/sending me excellent mixes, and so on.)

So it's my turn.
In the past week I've signed up for a couple volunteering opportunities at upcoming events, one this weekend and one in August. I'm really excited to be a little part of a bigger machine and give back a bit to lots of people at once, even though it's really just little stuff in the big picture. I'm not exactly saving the world by passing out water to runners or pouring beer for festival-goers, but if I can put a smile on their faces, that works for me.

I've also had this big Gratitude Postcard project on my mind's back burner for literally years (I'm pretty sure I discussed it with Katie soon after meeting her at The Fest 9), and I think this is my push to start it going. It's going to be different than originally thought (current lack of letterpress access and all), but I think it'll be better this way, a lot more personal. I also think I'm not going to figure it out completely ahead of time. Start anywhere, right?

Friday, July 5, 2013

When I dip, you dip, we dip

I was invited to a barbecue and fireworks party by friends, and I asked if I could bring anything. The consensus was that something pre-meal would be best, as the main & dessert were pretty well covered. Chips, dips, whatever. So I snagged a party size bag of tortilla chips, and figured I'd make some guac. But alas, looking for avocados the day I needed them left that option out (ripe ones nowhere to be found).  I had one ripe avocado at home already, and had snagged a bunch of produce at the Public Market over the weekend, fully intending to make some gazpacho (as I had fully been intending to do for maybe at least a month running). Yeah, that still hasn't happened.

What I did make, however, was two chip-dippables, that both went over well: Black Bean Avocado Hummus, and Mango Basil Nectarine Salsa. The hummus was G-O-N-E before fireworks, and there was just a small bit of salsa left at the end of the night. I'm recording these vague recipes here for future prosperity, especially as I'd like to make the salsa again. They're both pretty food-processor intensive, but could probably happen with whatever blending apparatus you have handy. Disclaimer: I'm not a usual recipe-writer, so I apologize that this is more past-tense, first-person narrative than recipes tend to be, but I think you'll get the idea. And, of course please let me know if you have any questions or feel there could be some clarification in any of the below. And the photos, I'm sorry. I didn't think they were going to go anywhere other than Instagram.

Black Bean Avocado Hummus

Not enough avocados for guacamole, but not letting that stop me. 

  • 1 Can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can Wegmans Caribbean Black Beans, mostly drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut in to some pieces
  • ~1tsp-1Tbs minced /~1 clove Garlic, to taste
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice
Basically, blend all that in your food processor until desired consistency. I didn't have any tahini on hand so I skipped it, but I'm sure you could add it in and it would be good! I considered adding some sesame oil instead, and then forgot.

I started with the garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in the food processor, then added the black beans slowly as I wasn't sure how much black bean I'd want in there. It ended up being the whole can. After I'd gotten the bean mixture to a pretty smooth texture, I added in the avocado pieces, and processed some more. This came out super tasty. I would even consider perhaps adding more avocado, but I was out. Next round I'll give it a try. I scooped out this hummus, put it in a container, and stuck it in the freezer to cool it down quickly. Not that it was hot, but most of the components were at room temperature at the start.


Mango Basil Nectarine Salsa

I really wanted to get some basil + nectarine flavors together. 

And I also had most produce needed for salsa.
  • 1 med-large sweet (vidalia, mayan, etc) onion (mostly processed but maybe 1/4 of it left chunky)
  • 2 jalepeño peppers, processed to oblivion
  • 4 tomatoes (2.5 diced-ish, 1.5 processed to oblivion, too)
  • ~1tsp-1Tbs minced /~1 clove Garlic, to taste
  • 2 nectarines (sliced thin, or diced)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, pulsed
  • 1 mango, diced
I started this one out quartering the onion, and throwing 3 of those quarters in to the food processor. Processed until pretty small, but not quite pureed. The last quarter diced by hand, and all of this thrown in to a bowl after done with. Next up, I cut off the tops of the jalepeños, removed the seeds, and processed them until they were pretty small as well, then transferred the now pepper sludge to the bowl as well. Tomatoes next, diced up about 2.5 medium tomatoes, and the last 1.5 I thew in to the food processor and processed until it was saucy. I think at this point, I put the spoonful of diced garlic into my receiving bowl, stirred that all up, gave it a taste test, and moved forward. 
For the nectarines, I cut them in to wedges, changed the processor to have the slicing blade, and fed the slices through the chute at the top to get dainty slices. I suppose you could just dice up the nectarines as well. Next, I put the usual processing blade back in, grabbed a handful of fresh basil, processed that until small, and added to the bowl again. I gave the mixed up bowl a taste test, and (of course) decided it could use more sweet, as it was leaning towards very spicy. Thankfully, I had a couple mangos on hand, diced up one mango, added it to the bowl, stirred, and was quite pleased with the balance of flavors at that point. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Half way there. This is my year, for sure.

This year I'll try to only listen to myself. (Start this going as your blog-reading soundtrack, ok? Ok, good talk.)

So suddenly it's July, and 2013 which has only recently become habit is halfway over (you know, writing down '13 on things instead of '12). I started this year off with some sort of ambitious game plan to be a bit more purposeful in my moments. I put together a list which turned in to a spreadsheet of goals or resolutions, and I was inputting updates to that chart for the first three months of the year. I took April off from a lot of things that were becoming time sucks for me, and I guess one casualty was updating this blog, as well as updating that list/chart. It's still there. I did take a look the other week and update where I'd gotten with some things. The real goal wasn't to do everything 100% of the time, but to do pieces when they made sense and not get let down by breaking a streak and then knowing I'd never be at 100%. I have formed some habits, and made some real progress in some places. Some things are laughable. You can do anything but you can't do everything. I certainly can't do everything.

Back in Orientation Assistant training (2004? 2005?), we had one big session that was focused on our strengths, the thinking being that if everyone played up what they were awesome at, we wouldn't need to worry about where we might fall short and how to make up for that. I'm usually intrigued and amused by any sort of personality test, and this one seemed somewhat more legit than most, or at least appeared that way. It spit back my five main strengths, which I'd agree make sense for me for sure (perhaps some change in almost ten years?).

My five themes were as follows: Includer, Strategic, Input, Woo (Winning Others Over), & Connectedness. I've got the write-ups & descriptions of these all handy if anyone wants to read further. The perhaps more interesting part of this training, however, was when we discussed these themes, about ourselves and the interplay of these themes. How, me with a big Strategic badge could approach a situation incredibly different than one of the others in the room, though we both were championing strategy. It was eye opening in little ways, I found myself getting thoroughly upset (about how others would approach situations I guess?), and then realizing that that's what this was about, really digging in and feeling out the different approaches and seeing that there's no one best way.

Back to goals. Some have gone well. Like these.
  • cook 3+ dinners/week [Well, maybe not three every week but certainly not going out three nights per week for dinner. Sometimes it's cooking and remixing, or just lots of planning.]
  • run semi-regularly [been going 4x per week since February, that totally counts]
  • run a 5k [I've ran 2! April 28 at 31:23 & June 8 at 28:54. Longer races coming up soon soon too. I'm hooked.]
  • lose about 15 more pounds [I'm at about 10 less than January now, works for me]
  • KEEP OFF the above 15 lbs and the 20 lbs lost in 2012. [Doin' it.]
  • stay more hydrated [Totally have been. Strategy!]
  • Gauge my ears bigger (0?) [I'm at a 4 now, I might just stick here but it's a step up from the 6!]
  • Open a ‘hidden’ emergency account that I really do not touch [Yup, did it.]
  • explore! try new stores, new routes, etc. [All over the place. Less ruts, more explore.]
  • install CS6 (what have I been waiting for? :I ) [Did it. Love it.]
  • learn more about letters (general) [This has been more practicing and observing rather than traditional study, but I think it counts since I've been thinking about letters a lot]
  • organize my twitter in to lists to be more useful (friends/design/ROC/etc.) [Yeah I made some lists! Those of you who I bother most often are probably on one of them. Still in progress sorting further though]
  • be more social (at least 1 purely social encounter per week, whether over beer/coffee, or phone/skype/hangouts) [Maybe not every week, but I've had some great ones lately]
  • Visit Nashville - and sister&bro-in-law&pups [Did it!]
  • Cleveland visit [Did it very slightly on the way back from Nashville, so that counts a bit. Planning to be back for WMC fest in August]
  • paint my dining room [Done in February, much thanks to my folks for coming up for a couple days to help get that done!]
  • SAVE things less -- use as soon as makes sense to, and replenish when needed [Yes, totally. Been especially better at working through my cabinets eating weird things that I bought once, or just kind of making dinner happen out of whatever is there]

And then there's all those others that maybe I'm doing ok with, or maybe I'm not doing anything at all with. It's ok. I've got the above to show for the first half of 2013, and I can't wait to see what's next. Focusing on the strengths, you know?

I feel like I used a lot of qualifying language in this post. Yup.

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