Monday, January 30, 2017

Celestial Events for March


Good afternoon! I bet you thought I wasn't going to post today. Well, I am. I had a sick kid this weekend, and I wasn't feeling the greatest myself, so I just slept and relaxed a lot this weekend. This was great for the sick part of me, but not so great for the busy part of me. I digress however, as it's Monday, the start of a new week, and I don't have time to worry. *wink* 

Anyway, I've been thinking about some sky-watching here lately, so I figured it was time for a post about it. Here, then, is a list of sky events for the next few months.

1. Wednesday, February 11th: Comet 45P/HMP. This comet will reach close proximity to Earth on this day, before heading back to the outer solar system. You will be treated to a view of a small, bright, fuzzy ball in the wee hours of the morning. Look for it around dawn.

2.  Tuesday/Wednesday, February 10th/11th: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. Although this is easily mistaken for a regular Full Moon, this will be visible as a slight darkening of the Moon.

3. Thursday, February 26th: New Moon. The Moon will be on the same side of the Earth as the Sun during this time period. What does this mean for sky viewing? Well, without the Moon's light interfering, one can see objects in the sky that are typically unable to be seen, such as galaxies and star clusters. 

4. Sunday, March 12th: Full Moon. Tonight, the face of the Moon will be completely illuminated. The weather should be warming up a little as well, so wear a few layers and get outside to check out this impressive sight.

5. Monday, March 20th: Vernal Equinox. Today, on the first day of Spring, the Sun will shine right on the Equator. This means that there will be equal parts day and night all over the world. 

6. Saturday, March 28th: New Moon. If you missed the other new moon, here's your chance to see it again, or shall we say the lack of it? Without the moonlight interfering with sky vision, it's much easier to see faint celestial objects.



So there you have it! Some celestial events happening over the next couple of months. Of course, this year is the big solar eclipse. This will happen in August, and I'll dedicate a whole post to it. For now, this should tide you all over! Have a great week. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January's LVJ Subscription

Happy Saturday from the Midwest! We have snow on the ground, but the weather is going to warm up today. This means I can get out and about, and particularly get outside. I'm ready! So, as I promised yesterday, here's my subscription post. Yep, this month's Louisville Vegan Jerky sub came in, and it's back to the normal sub since the holidays are now over. Anyway, let's take a look, shall we?




Here's this month's box and card. The card, which always doubles as a postcard, appears to be of an old diner turned store. It's called ear X-tacy, and I wonder if it's a record shop in Louisville. Something for us google sleuths to look up!





First up, Enid's Sriracha Maple. Always a good flavor. Yum.





Next is Tod's Smoke Chipotle. It's one of my favorite flavors out of the regular line. I have to admit though, that I'm really anxious to get another bag of Smokey Carolina BBQ! In fact, they could send me a bag of that each month, and then once a year, send me three bags. It's my absolute favorite flavor, and I won't share it with jack!





Last, but not least, is this month's test flavor: Jamaican Jerk. Ooooo! I love jerk seasoning and so I'm looking forward, like usual, to trying it out. I'll keep you posted.

And there you have it, this month's LVJ subscription. It's always fun to get this in the mail, and quite affordable. If you don't eat meat and would like to learn more about this sub, head over to their website.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Ramblings



Good morning! This isn't exactly Coffee Talk, but I do have a cup of coffee with me. This is a good thing, trust me, as I ran out of coffee a few days ago and yesterday, I was feeling it. In fact, I had a bit of a headache yesterday afternoon and I was a bit grumpy. I attribute it to my lack of caffeine. I did buy some coffee yesterday though when I was out and about, and, man, coffee hasn't tasted this good in a long time!

The picture up there was from the Turin Prairie dedication I went to with my daughter, husband, and dad back in September. I was thinking about that this morning as I peeked outside at the snow. We finally got a decent snow fall that stuck, and, while it's a good thing, I miss the green months. Don't get me wrong, Winter is beautiful in it's own right, and I don't mind snow. It's the frigid temps we receive at times that can get me down. And, while I can hike in the Winter if I truly wanted to, there's nothing like hiking during dry, nicer weather. Truth be told, I have a bit of cabin fever, but not for getting out in general but rather for getting out in nature. 

I've had a busy week, probably busier than I wanted. I work full-time, and taking my total commute into consideration, I'm gone for 11 hours a day. On top of that, I am busy with my writing career (which is truly a part-time job for me, and consumes a good chunk of time); I run a weekly Skypecast with my husband; I have a busy personal life; and I'm getting more involved with causes I feel strongly about. I'm not complaining, I'm really not. It's the life I've chosen for myself, and I wouldn't want it any other way, but there are times when I feel overwhelmed.

These feelings usually happen when routine is broken because of some kind of "tragedy". This week, The Teen came down with influenza, so I had to take some time off from work to take care of him and things surrounding sickness. Since I was actually home during the weekday, I was able to get some household business taken care of: appointments for dentists; checking over the bills; and getting things organized. I'm glad I have a job that allows me enough sick time to take care of myself and my family. I'm also glad that I was able to take care of some much-needed things, but it's just more things piled on top of my already growing list of things to do.

Of course, they're out of the way now, and I can refocus myself back on my regular routine. Do you ever notice how going off the routine rails can be unsettling sometimes? Fortunately, a dear friend of mine texted me yesterday, late afternoon, asking if I wanted to get out for a bite and a drink. We hadn't seen each other in awhile, so she picked me up and I had a much appreciated break from life for a couple of hours. It's amazing how much a few hours can do for you when you start feeling overwhelmed.

Typically, I would take a bit of time and go for a hike, but with the weather the way it is, my options are limited. I've surmised a few things from this week, then: 1. I need to remember to give myself a personal break when I feel a bit overwhelmed, and 2. I really need to get myself a proper coat for hiking in cold weather. 

It's Friday though, and I couldn't be happier about this. I'm going to, if nothing else, hit up a few boardwalk trails and take some pictures with my camera. I also want to check out the museum as we were unable to last weekend. I hope your weekend is grand, and I'll be here tomorrow with a subscription post!  

-H.A.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Recipe of the Week: Roasted Cashew & Sun-dried Tomato Cheese

One thing I used to miss terribly from my omnivore days was cheese & crackers. To me, there was nothing more satisfying than a good cheese placed liberally on a quality cracker. After going vegan, finding a good cheese to pair with crackers proved difficult. 

There are plenty of vegan cheeses that work great for cooking/baking, but not much in the way of snacking cheese. I eventually found a few vegan cheeses that are awesome for cheese and crackers, but they can be spendy. Then, awhile back, I discovered how good cashew cheese is, and have been experimenting with my own, trying to make the perfect one for crackers. I have finally perfected it, and am ready to share it with you. So, get yourself some nice crackers, and good bottle of red wine, and prepare yourselves for the best homemade cashew cheese evah!





Roasted Cashew & Sun-dried Tomato Cheese


Ingredients:

1 c. (generous) of roasted, unsalted cashews soaked for at least one hour, but up to 12, drained and rinsed
3-4 sun-dried tomatos, soaked in warm water for at least two hours, but up to 12, drained
3 T nooch 
2 T lemon juice
3 T miso paste
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 c water


Instructions:

1. Put all the ingredients in a high-powered blender, except for the water, and pulse a few times to get it going.

2. At this point you will need to add water, so add in a 1/4 c at a time, then blending on medium-high speed until smoooth.

3. Scrape down the sides as needed. I find myself having to do this about four times.

4. Don't add more than 1/2 c of water if you can help it, but if you feel that you need to add more after this, add it in at a scant tablespoon at a time. You want cashew cheese, not cashew creme.

5. Blend it all until nice and smoooth. Scrape out into a covered container and refrigerate until firm.

6. Enjoy with crackers, and wine if you'd like. Should last at least a week or two in the fridge.


Notes:

*Soak your tomatoes and cashews the night before you want to use them. Twelve hours is the perfect amount of time to soak both for the perfect cheese texture.

* Red wine that is slightly sweet, is the perfect pairing for this.

*Nooch means nutritional yeast.



Monday, January 23, 2017

A Lovely Winter's Day

Hello everyone. I hope your weekend was grand! Mine was good. I finally got outside, which warmed my heart. The thing I hate the most about winter, besides the cold, is not being able to walk around in the forest. Saturday, while the ground was wet from all the rain we've been getting, the weather was in the 50s. I resolved to get outside somehow, and ended up choosing Fontanelle Forest down in Bellevue, NE. 





We've been here many times over the years, but when the ground is just too muddy to navigate I choose it specifically. The reason for this is their long, lovely boardwalk. So, I grabbed my new camera and we headed out.





The weather was fantastic, and I relished being out among my beloved nature. It was the first time I'd gotten out into nature with my new camera as well, and I'm reminded of how nice it is to have a good camera.





One of the trails that leads off from the boardwalk. While I sure wished I could have walked on the trail, I was more than happy to be on the boardwalk.





The sun was so radiant and warm.





A close-up shot I got of some fungus on a tree.





One of the neat things about Fontanelle Forest, is that there's an area where you can see the Omaha skyline off in the distance. Of course, having a fancy new camera, I really wanted to test my telescopic lens and see how clear of a close-up picture I could get. Here you can see the Woodmen tower, First National tower, and three buildings from the Henry Doorly Zoo, including the Desert Dome. To put it in perspective, it's nine miles from where I was standing to First National Tower.





Some of the trees are clinging on to their Fall leaves. The sunlight was streaming through some of them, making for a cool photo.





I love the spindly, spiny tree fingers of winter.



Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Traveler's Mind


Not too long ago, I was drinking out of this coffee mug. Not for any particular reason, but because it just happened to be the mug I grabbed out of the cupboard. It's a mug we purchased at Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas when I took the kids there -- back in March of 2015 -- when they were on Spring Break. My mom lives there for her job, and since I hadn't seen her in awhile, it seemed like something to do. 

Now, I had never envisioned Arkansas as being a vast place of beauty and wondrous nature, but I sure found out otherwise when I was there.




A shot of the Ozark Mountains at the entrance to Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas.

The Ozark Mountains stretch primarily through southern Missouri, Arkansas, and into Oklahoma. While not as massive in scale as the Rocky Mountains, they are still impressive nonetheless. I didn't realize that Arkansas was covered in so much mountains and forests! It's no secret that I love nature and hiking, so being here was like a dream come true. Petit Jean itself is not only home to mountains and forest, but to a cave and a large waterfall as well. 




My kids as they ran to a viewing rock at the main visitor's lodge at Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas.

Just look at that view! We spent our whole trip immersed in the stunning nature that surrounded us, and came home with a sense of renewal and peace. There was so much more of the area that we never did see, that I vowed we would return one day for a full vacation where we could do more of what I love best.

It was this wonderful remembrance, while drinking from my coffee mug, that got the wheels set in motion. My husband and I had finally taken the kids (in June of 2016) on a real family vacation to Colorado, but it was only four days. Much too short! We had already planned on taking the kids for a second, longer, family trip for their Spring break this year, which falls in April, so I mentioned Arkansas to my husband. After perusing the internet, and seeing pictures of places that I haven't been to yet, even, we decided to all go to the Ozarks this year. 




The wonderful vacation travel package I ordered from Arkansas.

I talked to Mom, who is more than excited to have us come visit. We're going to stay with her too, which gives us time to visit and have a place to stay. We're trying to pay off a few things this year (money was going to be tight) so we had feared we might just have to make the best of a staycation. Being able to stay with my mom and pack all of our own food makes this a perfect solution!

 After we made the decision, I ordered a travel guide from Arkansas which arrived in the mail this week. They sent us a whole set of books for us to use to plan the perfect outdoor vacation...so much more than a travel guide. We're definitely excited to go back to the mountains and spend oodles of time outdoors! Don't worry, you'll definitely get to see the end results.

Now, it's time to get this weekend going. I hope yours in fantastic, and that, you yourself, are planning a fun trip for this year. 

-H.A.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Preparing for an Emergency

Last week, the weather forecast called for a massive ice storm in my area, beginning on Monday, Martin Luther King Day. By Friday, the start date got bumped up to Sunday, late afternoon. Predictions called for a 1/2 inch of ice or more, and warnings that the city might go without power because of it were issued. The mayor even got the city trucks out putting brine on the streets 72 hours ahead of the storm while issuing a warning of her own. 

I have a prepping attitude that I've carried with me--since my youngest years--while growing up with my dad. My dad always believed in being well-prepared for any event, and, to this day, I stay or go overly-prepared for nearly everything. I believe that being over-prepared beats being under-prepared any day. So, Saturday then, I decided we better get ourselves prepared for a few days of being iced-in with no power. 

I thought I'd share with you the most basic of items one should (keep) stock(ed), if not at all times, at least a day or two ahead of any potential emergency situation.




First, and foremost, water. Having a water supply for drinking and cooking is essential. A person can live without food for three weeks, maximum, but can only live about three days without water. I bought two cases of bottled water for drinking, and two jugs of water for cooking. I also have a three gallon jug of tap water in my refrigerator that I filled up beforehand, as well as the water bottles we all own.





We are outdoor people who love to go camping. I have this basic, two-burner camp stove as part of my camping equipment. We do most of our cooking over an open fire when we camp, but having a little stove like this is super-handy. This is especially true for camp coffee, which is much quicker and easier to do with this as opposed to a fire pit. I also bought this to have for an emergency at home. If you have no power, how do you cook food? This little stove uses propane to cook, and works well. Just make sure you have assembled it ahead of time.





I made sure, then, to purchase a couple of one pound propane tanks for the camp stove. These can be purchased for around $5 a tank, and will last quite some time. I can make around 10 meals or so per tank--but can be more--depending on how much fuel I use per meal.





I don't typically keep too many canned goods around, but when you're preparing for an emergency, having a canned goods supply on hand is essential. You need food that will not spoil easily--also referred to as non-perishables





Keeping in that vein, boxed and dried goods are also non-perishables, and good to have on hand. This time of the year, it's just as cold outside as it is inside my refrigerator, so, in our case, we have a cooler right outside our back door (in our mud room) where we can put perishables, such as milk, eggs, cheese, butter, etc., in case we lose power. You can keep a cooler outside as well, no problem, just make sure it's protected from animals. We have a deep freezer in our garage as well, so we won't open that at all, while we would make sure to open our refrigerator only as necessary. Tip: Do not stock up on refrigerator items! If your power goes out, so does your fridge, and if the weather is warm, forget storing cold items outside.





Another basic item to have around are light sources. I have a total of five flashlights, two head lamps, and two portable lanterns. All of them run on batteries, so make sure you have plenty of extra batteries as well. While I have a nice supply of them now, I purchased another large pack to get us by. If you use rechargeable batteries, make sure all of them are fully charged and ready to go. Check that your flashlights and lanterns are in good working order beforehand, then purchase new, or replace, batteries as needed.





Candles are another good light source to have on hand. I always have three big candles around, as well as some small ones, so I bought new ones and gathered up the rest. Not only are candles a good light source, but they also put off some heat as well. With that, make sure you have plenty of matches around. See those two large boxes of wooden matches in my picture? Matches are a necessity, not only for lighting candles, but for lighting fires (which are good for food prep and heat). My camp stove requires matches (or a lighter) to start, so bear that in mind. I also have a couple of lighters around. There's never too much of a fire starter.


Other items that are basic necessities for an emergency are:

*Warm clothes. Dressing in layers during a power outage in cold weather is always a good idea.

*Blankets, lots of blankets. Blankets can be used to cover up windows and doorways, and, of course, to bundle up in.


Some items that are somewhere between necessary and not necessary:

*A non-electric battery charging brick. We have these for our smartphones, and they are great for times when you don't have power but want to have phone service. Make sure you charge them up first.

*A battery-operated radio. These are also great for keeping in touch with what's going on in the rest of the world, but as long as your phones are charged--and a charging brick is at your disposal--you can use it to check your local news and weather. I would suggest turning it off, or on airplane mode, as much as possible to conserve battery power.


Some additional items to be considered, but are not as necessary are:

*A portable heat source. Propane-powered portable heaters are a great item to have should the power go out during the cold months. 

*Candy and snack items can be a nice treat during rough times, and provide a good energy source.

*Games and other forms of entertainment. Being unable to leave the house can be very boring, so having something to do is nice.


Make sure you have some disposable dishware on hand as well (paper plates, paper bowls, plastic or paper cups, disposable silverware, and paper towels). If you don't have a water source, how are you going to wash dishes? Speaking of dishes, make sure you wash all your dishes beforehand, clean your house, and wash all your dirty clothes. This not only ensures you won't have to figure out how to clean things with no water or power, but also that you have everything you need at the ready.

The last thing I'd like to address is heat. Having no power, especially for a longer stretch of time, means no heat source (unless you have a wood-burning stove). Designate an area of your home to be the common area in an emergency, then close it off from the rest of the house. Seal up the cracks under doors with towels (save your blankets), and line the walls as best you can with cushions and pillows. Dress warmly in layers, and huddle up together under blankets. Candles will raise the temperature of your sealed-off room slightly as well.

 I've seen some little candle heaters that can be made with some clay pots, washers, and a large screw. It takes heat from candles and distributes it efficiently. I've never made one myself but will strive to do so one day soon. Here are some instructions for making one. It seems like a cheap, compact, and easy way to get warm. Let me know if you decide to make one, or, if you have made one, how well it works.


There you have it, the basic necessities to get through a few days in case of an emergency. If you are expecting the storm of the century or a much more serious emergency, I would definitely buy larger supplies of all of these items. In this case, I would also invest in a portable heater or two, and quite possibly a generator, if you want to invest the money

As for us--while we did get some ice, nasty roads, and plenty of people who had no power--we were never without power or water as our storm didn't end up being much. Does that mean I regret preparing well? No, never. Best case scenario is always that the worst never happens, and I have items that I will use at some point anyway. Preparing well for an emergency, whether it materializes or not, is never a bad idea.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Coffee Talk: The Latest from The Write Life


Good morning! Have you got your cup of coffee at the ready? I do, and it's sitting right here looking all warm and snug in a big ceramic mug. Since we're both here, and we both have a cup of coffee, I think it's time for a coffee chat. I have some updates from The Write Life, so let me dive right in.

I have been a fount of ideas since late last year. After my writing drought last year (and I know, I've mentioned all this before, but bear with me), it was refreshing to be writing and coming up with material. That feeling really struck gold during the holidays when I had an a-ha! moment. I finally hit my stride with The Box, and it's moving along at a nice pace. Let me backtrack for just a moment here, before I get wrapped up in The Box.

When my creative drive kicked back into gear, I started working on another short story that I had originally hoped to parlay into a submission for a contest. This isn't my first rodeo trying to do just that, but I still have yet to finish one of my short stories for any submission. *laugh* I've discovered that writing short stories are more challenging than longer ones. I think I will, someday, compile my short stories into an anthology book, but for now, they are shelved.

Whenever I start writing a new book, I usually come up with a rough idea and a book cover for the next book. I know, I know...it seems strange, but that's just how I write. For me, having my next project tucked safely into the recesses of my mind is comforting, and gives me something to look forward to. When I started The Box, I made the cover for, and came up with the basic premise of, the book that would follow. I even, during my creative blitz, wrote the first page of the story while I had an a-ha! moment for it as well. Now, that project will also be shelved.

I had anticipated finishing Lola and the Machine when I was done with The Box, but, now, it is also shelved. The reason? Well, my a-ha! moment with The Box proved so fruitful, that I now have been earnestly working on a series spawned by one of the characters in that story. It's going to be a whole mythos I create, but is yet somewhat familiar. I've already done more research and planning into it than I generally do for my other books.

I've always been a stream-of-consciousness writer, but this will definitely be more of a carefully planned and outlined project. Sometime after I finish and release The Box, I will start to share details on this next, massive project. I'm quite passionate about it, so keep an eye on my website....the future is coming! 

I'm still excited about The Box as well. It's my best work to date, I believe, and I am excited to share it with you as well. A new excerpt, the last before publication, will be coming soon!



Monday, January 16, 2017

Ipsy's January Glam Bag

Good morning and Happy Monday. I've got my coffee and I'm raring to go. I recently received my latest Ipsy Glam Bag in the mail, so let's check it out!




This month's theme is Metropolis, which means it's all about the City Life baby! I can dig it because I may have grown up in a small town, but I'm a city girl at heart (which is why I live in one).





Here's the bag and it's contents.





First up is a pair of Rose Gold slanted tweezers from The Vintage Cosmetic Company. Since tweezers don't last forever, having an extra or two around isn't always a bad idea. Besides, this pair is so pretty!





This is a tube of Natural Healing Cream by N'vive. It claims to heal cracked skin and calm itching redness. I tried some of this last night and it's rich. A little goes a long way, and it seems to be enriched with peppermint, or some other mint.





Here we have, I believe, the third (and different) product from Trust Fund Beauty. This time it's Lipgasm lip gloss in the color Method to the Madness. It's a light, rosy color.





Here we have some fingernail polish by Pretty Woman in the color I Can't Deal. It's a grey color, similar to another I received awhile back, and it appears to be a matte. I really need to do my nails, so I guess this would be as good of a time as any.





Last up, Camera Ready BB Cream by Smashbox. This is a colored primer cream. I have a few of these, and I really like them. I put colored primers on when I need more coverage, or add it to my foundation, which I then use less of, to get a more natural look.


There it is. Another month of Ipsy selected just for me, and I love it. Like always, it's worth the $10 price tag, and I recommend it for anyone who would like to try cool makeup samples.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Latest Libations: 3rd Edition

It's Saturday, woo hoo! What better day to talk about beer? This is actually part two of the brews I drank over my long holiday stretch, so let's get started.




I love me a good cider, and this one did not disappoint. Made by Smith & Forge, it was light, crisp, not overly sweet, and didn't have that harsh alcohol aftertaste that afflicts some ciders.





I picked up a 12-pack of mixed beers made by Trouble Brewing Co., and this one, Red Flag, is an amber ale, which I always enjoy. This beer, though, was not very strong...or maybe I should say that it didn't have a lot of body. While it did taste good, it just didn't have the oomph that other amber ales have.





Another one out of the Trouble 12-pack, this one is the After Party Pale Ale. I haven't always been a huge fan of pale ales--I will never be a fan of IPAs--but I've grown to like them. This one, like the Red Flag, was tasty, but weak without a lot of body.





The last one from Trouble Brewing, Round Midnight Belgian White, was light and refreshing. Even though, yet again, it was weaker with not a lot of body, it worked better on the Belgian White, which is typically a lighter brew anyway. If you are a beer connoisseur like myself, you won't be a fan of Trouble Brewing Co. However, I think these are the perfect beers for beer drinkers who are expanding their palate from generally poor and weak beers. These are good "gateway" beers to get a taste for proper beers.





Zip Line is a local brewery that typically churns out good beers. I picked up this Winter Ale in a "Mix-a-Six" and it's got the winter spices flavor you expect from a seasonal ale. It's the perfect sipping beer for a cold, winter's night.





Last, but not least, it New Belgium's Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale. I got this from another mixed 12-pack, this one from (obviously) New Belgium Brewing Co. I actually bought the 12-pack just to try this beer. I had heard about it, but hadn't had a chance to try it. I was definitely curious, so I had to pique it. Well, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised! It tasted like a good ale, but also like chocolate chip cookie dough. I wasn't sure that would work, but it surely did. I would drink this beer anytime. Loved it!  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Recipe of the Week: Quinoa-Seitan Fritters


Hey everyone, Happy Friday! Sorry I'm posting this later than usual today, but I had a busy morning. Anyway, recently I ran across a recipe that I had wanted to try before: quinoa-seitan fritters. Unfortunately, it wasn't actually quinoa-seitan fritters, my mind just thought it was. While the recipe still looked good, I had it in my mind to make quinoa-seitan fritters. I did a search on the internet and came up empty-handed. Ultimately, I did what any good cook would do....make my own!

I had a ton of good veggies lying around as well, so roasted veggies were made. I roasted a combination of cauliflower, broccoli, aspargus, and brussel sprouts. Don't they look pretty? Roasted veggies are good anytime.





Here are the beautiful veggies sitting alongside the Quinoa-Seitan fritters I ended up making. They came out great! I might try and make them into 'meatballs' next time.





Quinoa-Seitan Fritters


Ingredients:

1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed
1 c. vegetable stock

3/4 c. vital wheat gluten
3/4 c. breadcrumbs
1 1/4 c. vegetable stock
1 T. each of olive oil, nooch, parsley, and chives
1 t. each of gran. onion, gran. garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and Old Bay
oil for frying


Instructions:

1. Bring one cup of vegetable stock to a boil, then add the quinoa. Bring it to boiling, reduce heat, and simmer until all the stock has been absorbed. Remove from heat.

2. When the quinoa has cooled down, put it in a large mixing bowl, then add the remaining ingredients. Mix until well incorporated and strings are starting to form.

3. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes, then form into small patties (or fritters if you will) and fry on each side over medium-high heat until crispy. Cook time can vary depending on the stove.

4. Enjoy!


Notes:

*I used Chipotle Mayo and Awesomesauce--both made by Hampton Creek--to dip my fritters in, and they were both delicious choices.

*If you want to make the same veggies, here's how it's done: Take any veggie(s) you like, and to it add a mixture of 1/4 c. olive oil, 1 t. gran. garlic (or fresh), and 3 T. of miso paste. Stir until well-coated, then bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or so. Cook times can vary, but generally you want a vegetable that is tender but still ever-so-slightly crisp.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Coffee Talk: Writing, Photography, and Resolutions



Good morning, and welcome to another installment of Coffee Talk. I have my cup of coffee, so let's get started.


After my long writing drought, of which you are all well aware, I've been busy making The Box into the tale I want it to be. After having my ah-ha! moment, I've been putting in a storyline that has fascinated me so much, that I've been jotting down notes to turn it into it's own set of stories. I've had a real plethora of writing ideas, almost too much, really, so I've set about trying to put together notes for an idea and then setting them aside for now. If I don't stay focused on one task, I'll never get anything finished! We all know how true that is. Anyway, you can definitely expect many new things from me in the coming year.


As I mentioned the other day, I finally got my new camera! Amateur photography has really become one of my favorite hobbies, and I use photographs constantly here on my blog. Up until I got my new camera, I'd been taking pictures with either my smartphone, or my little pocket-sized Panasonic digital camera. While they've worked well enough, they don't take the good quality pictures I've been desiring for quite some time now. So, I'm now the proud new owner of a Nikon Coolpix L340, and, so far, I love it. I mean, look at this moon picture I took!





I've never taken a picture of the moon that didn't look like some bright, blurry, round blob in the sky. In this picture, you can even see the surface of the thing! I'm just so excited to have an awesome camera that I feel like a kid on Christmas...which is kinda what this is.


Now that 2017 has been upon us for a little while, (Wait, what? nearly half of January is over already?!) I've really had some time to think about what I want to happen in this new year. I know, I know, we're supposed to make our New Year's resolutions on January 1st. Well, I don't. I do see the new year as a fresh beginning every year, even though some people scoff at that. It's not like we can't make resolutions any other time of the year, I get that, but there's something about ringing in the new that gets us in a "new" mood, I myself included. 

For this year then, I think I've decided to ramp up my own path towards healthiness. I was steady last year, but didn't make much new progress. My biggest resolution is to write, baby, write! After my drought last year, it's been refreshing to come into this new year raring to go. I have ideas seeping out of my mind, and I can't wait to share them with the world. My last resolution then, is to find a new routine to help facilitate all these ideas into a neat, organized, structure. Wish me luck!


Well, my coffee is done, and it's time to get ready for my day. I hope yours is a great one.

-H.A.







Monday, January 9, 2017

Recent Pictures

Hi there! Well, it's Monday and back to the grind. I have some random photography from lately, just bits and pieces into some of the things I've done or seen. 



A view from inside the Desert Dome at the Henry Doorly Zoo.

Holiday week, I took my kids to the Henry Doorly Zoo. As it was cold, we mainly stuck to the indoor buildings, one of them being the Desert Dome. The structure is impressive.




The trees in my neighborhood look very dark and grim.

I shot this one with my Samsung phone. 




The morning sky recently. It looked so serene and beautiful.

Right before the holidays, I dropped my daughter off to school one morning and was greeted with this sky.


Now, here's where things get cool--for me at least! Remember how I talked about getting a new camera? Well, I got my camera! Nature Girl and I got out this weekend, braving the cold, to test it out, and, man, does it take great photographs.




The only thing that remains of this famous Omaha restaurant is it's sign.



A view of State Street coming off 72nd Street, Omaha, NE.



A view of the Missouri River from NP Dodge Park. The floating circles of ice/snow look like frozen lily pads.



The Moon during mid-afternoon.

The moon was perfectly visible when we were out and about, so I figured it would be a great way to test my new camera. I have to say, it's pretty exciting to see such a good quality photograph!




A large leaf rests gently on top of a light snow layer.


 
A set of stairs linking one area of Hummel Park to another.


I cannot wait to take lots of photographs with my new Nikon Coolpix L340. In case you're wondering (haha), that's the exact camera I picked out. I also purchased an accessory kit to go with it, so I have a cheap tripod to practice my amateur photography with.

I hope your day is grand! 

-H.A.