Tag Archives: Bastille

India

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Dear Hubby,

I know you’ve only been gone 36 hours, but I thought you’d want to know how we’re doing since you boarded that plane for Delhi yesterday morning.  The pictures you posted on Facebook were actually a bit disappointing; I thought it would all look more “foreign.”  I’m sure once you reach Bangalore you will see so many new things, and I hope you’ll take lots of pictures.

So here is a short report of some stuff you missed:

Ruby the Wonder Spaniel keeps barking out the front window at your car parked in the driveway.  We have visited your car five times in the last hour.  She has sniffed it thoroughly, we’ve gone back inside, and ten minutes later, she begins to bark again as if you are home. There has bee a lot of “woo-wooing” for you.  If this goes on for many more days, I will be buying her a muzzle, or perhaps a strong sedative.

I still have not mopped the spills from our big graduation party on Saturday.  Maybe soon? I hate to mop.  The party was grand, and thanks for all of your help, especially when you knew you were going on this important international work trip early the next morning.  I keep smiling thinking of how many wonderful family and friends attended our event to help us celebrate William and his friends.  We are so very blessed!

I was happy to get back to school today to see my favorite Kindergartners.  The only downside was the song chosen for morning meeting:  “Tooti Ta.”  OMG, I hate that song with a red-hot passion.  The bad news: it’s still stuck in my head.  The good news:  one of our girls scratched a mosquito bite on her leg and was bleeding, so OH DARN, I had to take her to get a band aid and missed most of the song.

I had the most lovely dream this morning that I was roller skating with Dan and Kyle from Bastille.  The three of us were alone in a lush, amazingly beautiful park filled with fragrant flowers and dense trees. We skated on a smooth path and were skating so fast, it felt like we were flying. Afterwards we rested on a grassy knoll, and in a moment of happiness, I leaned over and kissed Dan on the cheek. He didn’t seem to mind too much.  (I know I’m weird and totally embarrassing and too old to be a fan girl–so sorry.)

Eve says she is totally prepared for her big EMT certification test on Wednesday.  She stopped by last night to check on me and the pets.  William has not been around much. Between working and friends he is very busy, but always so good to tell me where he is when I ask.  I stopped by Patrick and Samantha’s and met their five rescue kittens who were tumbling all over each other. They were totally adorable, though extremely stanky after a ringworm treatment at the vet’s.

I watched two wretched movies on Amazon Prime yesterday:  A Walk in the Woods and School of Life.  I finished the first one because the scenery was beautiful (even though the pace was painful), but I only made it through 20 minutes of the next angsty show about a dying teacher at a private school. Egad!  It got four stars! The plot, the cast, and the story line were all total poop!  Who watches these dreadful things???

You’d better sit down for this last bit of news:  After work today, I went to the gym.  That’s right. I swear it’s true.  It was worse than usual since the gym was filled with awkward middle-aged men (some without shirts on–is that even allowed?), but I stuck it out and currently have 15693 steps on my Vivofit step counter.

That’s it for my news.  Please don’t forget to take those malaria pills . . . and be so careful about the water.  Do not buy me a knock-off designer purse because I do not know or care about designers. (Remember the smelly woven leather shirt you brought me from Mexico that one time?)  Get the work done so you don’t have to go back . . . because we miss you.

Love,

Mary

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A Little Kitchen Dancing

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Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. When last we spoke, I was nursing what I thought was a broken knee. The x-rays were read by a Team of Experts and all concurred on this diagnosis: I had a huge case of wussiness, but no broken bones. I limped about school at the beginning of the week and on the first day appreciated the tilted heads accompanied by frowns and this sound: “Awwwww.” But by Tuesday it was getting pretty old. I was embarrassed! I found myself limiting my trips down the long hallway and on Wednesday almost wet my pants. But today I am walking almost normally and in fact, a few minutes ago was doing a little kitchen dancing to Bastille’s new song while whipping up a batch of Hog Heaven Chili, recipe here. I am eternally grateful that I am not in a cast or a boot, and haven’t had to leave my job, etc. THANK YOU, UNIVERSE!!!! I promise I will be more careful while taking my dog out in the future!

Today after school I was able to get to all of the errands I’d had to put off earlier in the week. Grocery store–check! Dry cleaners—check! Haircut—check! Library—check! (Would someone please explain to me why it is all of the books I place on hold come in at once??)

At my haircut this afternoon, Cami and I chit-chatted hard since I had not seen her since Christmas. We both agreed all went quite smoothly at the holidays, and both of us attended super fun parties. I told her about the event at my brother’s the day after Christmas and how we danced to 90’s rap (I heart the Beastie Boys!), and she unexpectedly yelled, “YES!” Kind of scared, I said, “Ummm, what?” She explained that she’d just been talking to a client about this strange phenomenon: Why is it expected for us to stop having fun when we hit a certain age? I agree with Cami—I don’t care what people think. Dance like nobody is watching, right? Friends: THIS IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL!!! You only live once. Work hard, play hard! And please, have fun! You are never to old to break into spontaneous dance when you hear a song you love!

Speaking of working hard, I have been working hard! As you may recall, this year is my first foray into working in a Kindergarten class; my previous experience is in preschools. Spring is tough, man! It’s “make it or break it,” if you will. Our students have less free time, and we are working hard on reading and math skills. We want to make sure every student is well prepared for first grade. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to watch the light bulbs go off in these kids’ heads—they are reading, telling time, and adding and subtracting. Not to mention the wonderful social skills we’re teaching them, of course. I love my job so much and am still pinching myself at my good fortune. I’ so lucky to have found a job that I love to do, where I am appreciated, and where I’ve met so many cool people.

I hope my good luck extends to our orange Siamese cat, Cosmo, who is 11 years old. For the first half of his life, he was an inside cat. Suddenly he began darting out the door and meowing at the closed door in such an annoying way that we acquiesced. I have recent “intel” that there are coyotes in our ‘hood. This is NOT good news for our adventurous outside cat (we always bring him in at bedtime). While I love any type of wildness in my extremely urban neighborhood, coyotes are dangerous, especially to pets. A neighborhood news email reports coyotes roaming in pairs just a ten-minute walk north of us, and then a neighbor just six houses north saw a coyote hop into their back yard at 6am yesterday. GADZOOKS. I gave Cosmo a stern talking to about the Dangers of Coyotes, however, he continues to yowl at the back door. Eve put a sign at the bottom pane of glass which reads, “No Meowing.” This confused him for a full day, but now he is back to being a pest. We are not letting him out after dark, no matter how much he yowls. I have taken to calling him “CB,” which stands for “Coyote Bait.”

Thanks a million for all of the well wishes I had from my local peeps when I thought I was broken and down for the count. I swear to you that it hurt like a mutha’ but again, I’m pretty sure if you look up “weenie” in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of me.

Cheers,
Mary

Saying a Proper Goodbye to 2015

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Seriously, I can’t believe it’s already 2016.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I hate how quickly time passes.  The days of my life blow quickly by, just like in  old movies where the passage of time is depicted with calendar pages being blown into the wind.  Yep, that’s my life.

Now is the time where you would expect me to share my New Year’s resolutions for 2016. I’m keeping it simple by making the same resolution I’ve made for the past ten years: EAT MORE PIE. Pie is delicious and makes me happy. If it is a fruit pie (my favorite), then it’s a healthy choice. If it’s an apple pie, it will keep the doctor away (according to that old adage).

New Year’s resolutions are for amateurs.  Instead of making a stupid list of stuff everyone knows you’ll give up by mid-January, this is my proposition:  How about we  look back on the past year and make a list of what we’ve learned? If you are a sentient human being, you will no doubt have a) made mistakes b) made note to do things differently next time and c) likely did some cool stuff that you didn’t expect to do. Instead of examining our psyches and making a list of flaw with vows to make radical changes, how about look back at the A, B, and C (which I just listed). We can call them the Mistakes, Changes, and What Went Well.  And then (if you feel like it) you can add a list of things you are working on. We can call that list “Guilty Pleasures.”

Here’s some stuff I jotted down:

Mistakes:

  • Decided working at Pier One would be fun (a ridiculous waste of time where I spent paycheck on pretty things).
  • Decided writing and self-publishing a book would be fun and profitable.
  • Chose to eat two lunches and two dinners each day and not exercise.

Changes:

  • Worked hard to find a meaningful job (Yay, Awakening Seed School!).
  • Persisted while learning the very difficult computer program to publish my book about Mexico which nobody bought.
  • Chose to eat in a more healthful way and am still trying to lose the weight gained last year.

What Went Well This Year:

  • I found a job in a stimulating environment where I am able to use the skills unique to my person and which makes me very happy.
  • I self-published a book called Beach Dreams about my vacations in Rocky Point, Mexico. It has a beautiful photo on  the cover which I took myself, I’ve had great reviews from the very few people who have read it, and it is available on Amazon.
  • I’m enjoying my first year of owning a plot at the community garden where I’ve grown yummy veggies.
  • I have four pets who are entertaining and adorable.
  • My children are generally happy and nice to spend time with.
  • My writing hobby gives me pleasure (and saves me in therapist bills since I work it all out on the page.)
  • I’ve had many adventures in hiking with friends on new and different trails in the Phoenix area (Cacti, Coyotes, and Gila Monsters . . . Oh My!)
  • I’m extremely fortunate to have a nurturing group of friends and family who make me feel loved.

Guilty Pleasures (areas of improvement and notes to self):

  • Words with Friends is probably good for your brain . . . but probably not healthy if you play it two hours each day.
  • More novels—less Facebook.  Oh how I love looking at posts from friends!  The photos!  The sharing of adventures!  If it makes me happy, is it wrong?
  • Which leads me to this: Tequila is clearly not the answer . . . what was the question???
  • Reminder:  Food you eat whilst standing up in the classroom, or while driving in the car, or while prepping a meal REALLY DOES HAVE CALORIES. Don’t give up on your figure–you can be fit.
  • Stop expressing your love for certain bands and talking about music so much. People think it’s weird (even though it’s your passion–it’s okay to keep some stuff to yourself).
  • Stop being so preachy on your blog—people liked you better when you talked about recipes and art.

Wishing a Happy New Year to All, and remember for health and happiness,  eat more pie!

Cheers,

Mary

Rubber Chicken

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I absolutely love my new job, however, between the physical demands of standing and walking 10K steps during the course of the day combined with 1.5 hours on playground duty in the Arizona desert heat, by the time I get home each day, I feel pretty much like a rubber chicken. My bones feel like they have melted, my beak is red from the mid-day sun, and my feet are scaly from hours standing in the dust and sand of the playground.

Since I’ve been too tired to participate in my usual shenanigans, I will share with you a few interesting things I found on the interwebs this week.

1) You must watch this video of little Johanna in her pink tutu dancing to Aretha Franklin’s Respect. If it doesn’t make you laugh out loud, you should immediately seek medical attention. I’ve watched it an embarrassing amount of times.

2) This list of 22 Food Hits from the 1990’s. I was embarrassed to see some of my favorite meals on this list (Chicken Ceaser Salad, I will love you til the end of time! Ditto Buttermilk Ranch in a jar and Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes.)

3) This list of browser history cracked me up and reminded me of my brief foray into writing at Starbuck’s. It was always so awkward! What does one do when one needs to use the loo? Ask a kind-looking stranger to watch your laptop and risk having it stolen? Check out one woman’s attempt at scaring off potential laptop thieves by leaving her screen open to her recent Google searches.

4) I worked out with this arm exercise video called Get Madonna Arms in Ten Minutes and basically had almost near upper arm paralysis for two days afterwards. OUCH! I plan to write a letter of complaint to the producer because after ten minutes, my arms still looked like they belong on a 75-year-old, 300-pound Norwegian woman. Let’s just say they are NOT my best feature.

5) This week’s ear worm is called The Draw , and here is a nice live version of the boys singing it. You know I’m crazy/obsessed/hyperfocused on Dan Smith (who writes all of the music and produces) and his cute British band members.

I have a muffin recipe for you, however, I am way too pooped to write it all down here for you today. I’m planning to mix a strong cocktail and retire to the couch with my feet up, where I will play an hour of Words With Friends (the same thing I did last night).

Cheers,
Mary

Chile Cheese Breakfast Strata

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What a whirlwind of a weekend!

Friday morning I skipped art lecture so that I would still be awake at 10:30pm to enjoy the long-awaited Bastille concert at Tempe Beach Park. Also my house was badly in need of cleaning since my sister and her family were staying with us over the weekend. It is Shedding Season; now that our weather has turned warm, the trees are shedding their dead leaves and the pets are shedding unwanted hair. I love the trees. I love my pets. But this time of year is challenging, especially for someone who does not like to clean. I absolutely know that my sister would not have cared at all if the floors of my home had an inch of pet hair mixed with Sissoo leaves—but I cared.

The Bastille concert was amazing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this band so much. This show was the first on the tour, and they told the crowd they were happy to out of the studio and back out performing. The guys were full of energy and put on a great show. I tried ten times to get a good photo, but they were so animated, I never did get a good shot. To anyone who will look, I show them the blurry photos on my phone, just to show off how close to the stage we were. I was so in the moment, pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t really dreaming. Yes, we were some of the oldest people there, but I danced like nobody was watching. I’m so lucky to never have lost my passion for music, as so many of my friends have! The bass thumped so loudly, I could feel it vibrating throughout my body. I haven’t felt that alive for a long time. I would say the biggest downside were $9 beers, but that’s okay because the other downside was dirty portapotties with wet seats (blech). No beer = not having to use those hideous stalls.

Imagine my chagrin to look at Bastille’s twitter feed the next day and saw photos taken outside of the museum. MY MUSEUM. OMG. Were they in the museum??? If I’d gone on Friday morning, would I have seen them casually strolling through the Great Hall? Might they have let me give them a tour? I will never know. I do plan, however, to ask the gallery guards I am friendly with if they saw a group of four young British men in the museum one morning last week!

Saturday we had a lovely visit with my sister and her family. While they were at an afternoon party, Hubby and I ventured far into Gilbert to watch Eve perform with her flag and rifle group, Fenix Guard. The girls put on a fabulous show! Hubby and I scratch our heads and wonder how it is that Eve is such a good dancer. Hubby and I are the worst ever, so I will have to ask the grandparents if any of them used to have “the moves.” We also stopped by Eve’s place to pet her new kitten, a teeny tiny gray cat with white paws. Maisie Kitten was a stray in the ‘hood who needed a home. Eve says they are soulmates.

I made a yummy thing for breakfast Saturday. My sister and I tend to look at recipes and think, hmmmm, could I add green chiles to this? Green chiles always add a delicious layer of flavor and color to egg dishes. I looked at a few recipes and combined aspects from each. This took about ten minutes to put together the night before, but takes almost an hour to bake in the morning. It was soooo good, and the four of us almost ate the entire thing.

Green Chile Breakfast Strata

6 slices white bread, buttered on one side and cut into cubes
1 26 oz. can roasted and peeled green chiles
3 cups grated cheese (I used 4-Cheese Mexican blend)
5 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Put green chiles in a colander placed in the sink and let drain for about 15 minutes. When they are drained, you will make sure they are pulled apart to be flat. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Put eggs, milk, and cumin into a medium bowl and beat well, then gently stir in the bread and two cups grated cheese until well combined.

Pour egg-milk mixture into greased casserole. Over that layer the green chile strips, then sprinkle the remaining one cup of cheese on top.  I rarely use the pre-grated cheese, but it was a real time saver. I’m suspicious of this product since I’ve seen with my own eyes that it takes about four months to get even a little bit moldy (from the back of our refrigerator at the preschool). Cover the whole thing with foil and put in the fridge for at least three hours before baking. You want the bread to soak up all that eggy goodness.

Preheat oven to 350, then bake with foil on top for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until mixture is bubbling and cheese on top is lightly browned, about another 15 minutes.

Cheers,
Mary

Sigh No More Part II

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Tonight as I made dinner, I sang my little heart out to Sigh No More by the fabulous Mumford and Sons. I have been SO COMPLETELY AND SPASTICALLY ADDICTED to Bastille for over a year now, and once in awhile question my sanity and force myself to listen to Other Music. Besides, I think I heard the kids planning an intervention when they were here for dinner the other night. Over the whir of the mixer as I mashed potatoes, I’m pretty sure I heard the words “smash all of them . . . if she plays Oblivion one more time my head will explode.” Gasp!

I first blogged about Sigh No More back in May 2010 when nobody had yet heard of the now-popular band and Eve was dissing it, calling it “Country.” You can read about it here: https://cheersd.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/sigh-no-more/ On that blog entry there is a delicious recipe I’d completely forgotten about called Red Pepper Shrimp, which I’d created for a Sunset Magazine contest. I was so certain I’d win, thus becoming a local celebrity, then being offered the job of hosting a cooking show (probably on Channel 3), but quickly thereafter being fired for swearing too much while I cooked. C’est la Vie.

Anyway.

I loved Mumford and Sons. Having been brought up on bluegrass, I loved the banjo. The brass instruments were so unusual; the lyrics thoughtful and poetic.

I used to take pride in being the first to know about great bands. Back in the day, I’d greet friends with music tapes, telling them what they should be listening to now. I found Mumford because a friend posted their first whimsical video, The Cave, on Facebook https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMO4xdOS5jY. I had to order the cd from Amazon because even Zia Records didn’t have it. The same thing happened with The Lumineers. We were listening to them long before anyone else . . . and were quite shocked and disappointed to arrive at their concert at The Marquee to huge crowds. Who knew? Huge YOUNG crowds. We were the oldest by 20 years! I remembering texting my kids, “Awash in a Sea of Hipsters. Blurgh.” We proceeded to be squashed and squeezed and spilled on for several hours, pressed body-to-body in a steaming room.

When we finally saw Mumford and Sons live in 2011, it was a supremely miserable experience. Again, who knew this would be such a big effing deal? None of MY friends liked them—where did all these fans come from? I had not yet heard of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and remember really digging the music, but wtf? They were wearing pajamas and were clearly in an altered state. I smile now thinking of the many times I’ve sung along with Home since that night. Here is my account of that dreadful night, which I DEFINITELY sugar coated for the blog. https://cheersd.wordpress.com/?s=revival

And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for. The recipe. I found this simple recipe way Back in the Day when the Arizona Republic used to publish homey recipes each Wednesday. It’s not difficult. You don’t need a recipe. I call this type of recipe a “Cleaning Out the Fridge” recipe since you can pretty much put in any veggie and it will taste good. I am happy to be rid of those big peppers that were hogging all the space in the vegetable drawers. I did not eat vegetables when Hubby and I were first married so he called those drawers, “The Place You Don’t Know Exists.” Hubby has been a good influence on me since now I can eat all my veggies, excepting acorn squash which everyone knows is mushy and disgusting. It’s not my fault I was brought up by Midwestern parents who only fed us canned corn, peas, and Iceberg lettuce.

Clean Out Your Fridge Chicken and Pasta

2 T Oil
1 pound chicken tenders
1 cup mushrooms (optional)
4 red and yellow peppers, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
3 T garlic, minced
16 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes if you’re feeling spicy
Cooked pasta of your choice
Garnish: Shaved Parmesan and Snipped Fresh Basil

In a large saute pan, pour in the oil and add chicken. Cook chicken until almost finished. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the next five ingredients and heat until they are cooked and have a bit of brown on the veggies.

Heat water for pasta. Cook pasta until al dente.

To the saute pan, add the canned tomatoes, wine, and reserved chicken. LOWER HEAT. At this point I would suggest you taste it. Are you feeling spicy? Add some cayenne! Are you feeling herbish? Add some fresh oregano. Simmer on the stove to allow flavors to combine for about 10 minutes, then serve over pasta.

Cheers,
Mary