Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Birding From The Couch

Ed took this photo of a bird hiding in the bush in our yard.  I'm home so often now that bird-watching from my living room has become a thing for me.

I now have two regular bird feeders and a hummingbird feeder.  So I can watch the birds flit around while the rabbits and ground squirrels nibble at the seed that falls to the ground.

And several times a week I see a small pack of coyotes traipse through the yard.

I just love it.




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: 
Resting Up Down South

2015: Looking For Our Container
2014: Bringing Sexy Back
2013: The Veteran And The Rookie
2012: Spring Has Arrived In Culpeper
2011: Food. Essential.
2010: Sometimes It Takes A Libra Two Weeks To Make A Decision
2009: What The Hell Is This?
2008: What It’s Like To Bee Watched By More Than Twelve Million Eyes
2007: My Man Is Ripped!
2006: Take Two Caramel Lattes And Call Me In The Morning
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Better Than A Picnic Lunch

Every week when we go on the road, I made a few different meals to have on the run so we don't have to a) stop for a long period of time and b) eat fast food.

Most of the time, the food is for Ed.  He doesn't like to do frozen meals, he won't eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and he often doesn't consider it a meal unless there's meat involved.  I can eat a bowl of cereal and be happy.

Anyway...this is usually what I pack for the two-and-a-half days we're gone.  In addition to real food, I bring snacks - oranges, apples, celery, carrots, pudding, sometimes cookies - to pass the many miles.

The day before we leave I usually I spend the entire day cooking and then I label everything with the date because my mind is seriously failing and four days later if this food is still in the fridge, I'll wind up throwing it away because I can't remember when I made it.

The containers in the photo are from last week.  This week I made steak and couscous, pork lettuce wraps (ground pork sautéed with onions, red peppers, water chestnuts, garlic, ginger), roasted vegetables (peppers, onions, carrots, cauliflower), spaghetti and meatballs (so cliché), boneless pork ribs, grilled chicken breasts, and spinach.

We are living the life and eating well while doing it!



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: 
Squeezed By Guilt

2015: Get Excited!
2014: They're Not Just For Babies Anymore
2013: Winding Down For The Weekend
2012: Towering Peach
2011: Trucks, Friends, Life On The Road, And A New Throne For My Queen Sized Ass
2010: Changing It Up
2009: They Gots Lots Of Soul
2008: Eddie Calculates Everything Friday
2007: Working On It
2006: The Bird On The Hill
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Just The Facts

I live in Southern Arizona, so for the last 30-plus years, I've been around a high number of Mexicans.  That's my immigrant population.  But I'm originally from New York, which has a whole different group of immigrants - Cubans, Dominicans, Jamaicans, Chinese, etc.  And I also lived in Alexandria, Virginia where we had a very large Ethiopian population.  I love the diversity of our country.  I love meeting people from different backgrounds and learning about their lives.

I've met many immigrants and am always impressed with their drive and desire to make their lives here.  Now maybe I've just been lucky, but at 49 years old, I've lived in seven different states and have traveled to all of them, and I have to say my luck must be outstanding because I've never met the immigrants I hear certain news organizations, or other people, talking about.  I guess I must only attract the good ones.


I'm always perplexed when I hear people talking about Mexicans taking their jobs, or wondering aloud why "illegals" can go to the hospital and get care "for free" (an assumption) when they can't, and making statements about how their kid can't get financial aid for school because they make too much money but a person with the last name of Rodriguez can get all the financial aid they want.  I usually always refute what they say but it's exhausting.  And infuriating.  They just refuse to believe actual facts, data collected by non-partisan organizations with the intention to document and educate.

If you're one of the people who like to spew comments about immigrants because you're just "so sure" what you're saying is true, you might want to educate yourself about what's really happening in the country, what immigrants offer us as a society, and what actually is true.  And if you're a person who acts in the name of a religion, I'm pretty sure the main tenet of that religion is some form of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

Try it.


I know this'll be a shocker for those who live in a fact-free universe (sadly, I know several of these people), but let's have a little fun with facts about immigrants.

Here we go...



No human being is illegal. (I wrote about this in 2010)

  • Phrases such as “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” replace complex legal circumstances with an assumption of guilt. They effectively criminalize the personhood of migrants, instead of describing the legality of their actions.

  • It is not a crime for an undocumented person to remain in the United States. “As a general rule, it is not a crime for a movable alien to remain in the United States.”
    Source: Justice Anthony Kennedy, Arizona v. United States, 2012

  • It is a violation of federal immigration law to remain in the country without legal authorization, but this violation is punishable by civil penalties, not criminal.
    Source: U.S.C. § 1325 : US Code - Section 1325: Improper entry by alien
Immigration is not one size fits all.
Most undocumented immigrants cannot simply "get legal" and "be a citizen" by filling out paperwork of paying a fee.  The right way to immigrate was at one time to simply show up.  Processing at Ellis Island involved health inspections and naturalization.

  • Many of our ancestors would not have qualified under today's immigration laws.
  • Many European immigrants benefited from "amnesty," such as the 1929 Registry Act.
    Source:  American Immigrant Council
A border wall would be an ineffective immigration restriction.
Immigrants commit less crime than the native-born population.

Immigrants are less likely than the native-born to be behind bars.
Source:  U.S. Census and American Community Survey

Higher immigration is associated with lower crime rates.
  • Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population increased from 7.9 percent to 13.1 percent and the number of unauthorized immigrants increased from 3.5 million to 11.2 million.

  • During the same period, the violent crime rate declined 48 percent - which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder.  The property crime rate fell 41 percent, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.
Source:  Federal Bureau of Investigation

Annually, undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.64 billion in state and local taxes, and pay $13 billion to Social Security.
Source:  Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy Social Security Administration

Immigrants start businesses and grow the economy.

The information for this post came from the Define American website.  There is a LOT of information left out of the immigration debates - where you get your information matters. Because #FactsMatter. 

If you want to know what's missing, and you want actual facts, delve into their site.  You can start HERE to get more detailed information on what I wrote about in this post. 

And remember to show up for immigrants, because documented or undocumented, they show up for us.  



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: Blue And Crabby
2015: Drive Less, Make More
2014: While You Were Sleeping
2013: Between Brattleboro And Bennington
2012: Man At Work
2011: Under A Rock
2010: Practicing For Retirement
2009: Truckers Are So Sensitive
2008: Light Sweet Crude
2007: A Antiquing Conundrum
2006: How Can You Not Love This Face?
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, March 17, 2017

When You Think Of Tuscany

A street in Cortona, Italy, the town where Frances Mayes, the author of "Under The Tuscan Sun", lives.

Frances Mayes put this place on the map for most Americans.  No matter how over-saturated we've become with all things Tuscan, I still want a villa like Bramasole.




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2016: Hitching A Ride
2015: Ocean To Ocean
2014: Where We Go To Squeeze Melons
2013: Yet We're The Ones With All The Rules
2012: There Is No Problem Here
2011: If This Is What Being A Loser Means, Count Me In
2010: The Only Thing It Extends Is The Humiliation Of Having A Small Johnson
2009: Wishing You All A Happy Lá Fhéile Pádraig
2008: There Should Be Some Sort Of Award For This
2007: Table Talk
2006: Cats And Grandchildren Make Great Indentured Servants
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Oh, The Horror I've Seen

Ed took this photo in Pompeii, Italy.  This ancient town was one of the most fascinating places I've ever visited.  A definite must see.  



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: 
Barbed Badlands

2015: Exotic Tropicals
2014: Eggs, Milk, Bread, And Good Blood Pressure
2013: Clowns Looking For A Place To Live
2012: My Early Version Of Google
2011: Food With Integrity That Fuels Creativity
2010: If Only It Were Dollars Instead Of Miles
2009: The Last Bit Of Winter
2008: Eddie Fr-Eye-Day
2007: Authorized Personnel Only
2006: Stolen Zillow
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Little To The Right

A friend of mine recently told me she was planning a trip to Italy and asked about the places we went when we visited.  I don't have any expert advice for her but I did send her everything I thought would be useful.

While looking through my folders, I came across photos.  I'm going to post a few of them this week.

This first one was taken by Ed.  It should be pretty obvious that it's the Leaning Tower of Pisa.




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: 
Around Town In 80 Days

2015: The Gold On The Hill
2014: Be Happy You Don't Have A Bolt In Your Head
2013:  Seriously Up To Our Ass In Alligators
2012: Such A Fragrant Sprig!
2011: Coast To Coast
2010: The Joke’s On Us
2009: Eddie Monsignor Starbucks Friday
2008: All The Better To Smell You With, My Dear
2007: Neon Railroad
2006: I Left My Heart…
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Atomic Appetizer

Ed made his first appetizer in his pellet smoker.  He found the recipe in his new book, The Wood Pellet Smoker & Grill Cookbook.  Now, the name of the recipe is ridiculous - Atomic Buffalo Turds - and had I known that's what they were called when he made them, I probably wouldn't have eaten them.  But I did, and they were pretty good.

If you're not a fan of jalapeños, know that they get milder as you cook them.  If you're still afraid of the spice, use baby bell peppers.

ATOMIC BUFFALO TURDS

SERVES:  6-10

PREP TIME:  30 to 45 minutes

COOK TIME:  1.5 to 2 hours

REST TIME:  5 minutes

RECOMMENDED PELLETS:  Hickory, Blend

INGREDIENTS:
10 medium jalapeño peppers
8 ounces regular cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese blend (optional)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
20 Lit'l Smokies sausages
10 thinly sliced bacon strips, cut in half

PREPPING FOR THE GRILL
1.  Put your food service gloves on, if using.  Wash and slice the jalapeño peppers lengthwise.  using a spoon or paring knife, carefully remove the seeds and veins and discard them.  Place the jalapeños on a vegetable grilling tray and set aside.  


2.  In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, shredded cheese, if using, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes, until fully incorporated.

3.  Fill the hollowed jalapeño pepper halves with the cream cheese mixture.  

4.  Place a Lit'l Smokies sausage on top of each filled jalapeño pepper half.

5.  Wrap half a slice of thin bacon around each jalapeño pepper half.

6.  Use a toothpick to secure the bacon to the sausage, making sure not to pierce the pepper.  Place the ABTs on a grilling tray or pan.

ON THE WOOD PELLET SMOKER-GRILL
1.  Configure your wood pellet smoker-grill for indirect cooking and preheat to 250°F using hickory pellets or a blend.


2.  Smoke the jalapeño peppers at 250° for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, until the bacon is cooked and crispy.  

3.  Remove the ABTs from the grill and let rest for five minutes before serving as an hors d'oeuvre.

Ed pulled this appetizer off all by himself.  I was very impressed with his following the recipe, prepping the food, and cooking it.  He methodically filled each jalapeño, skillfully wrapped them in bacon, and gently speared them with a toothpick.

In addition to not knowing the name of them before I tried them, I'm also glad I didn't know they contained a Lit'l Smokie sausage.  I don't eat that kind of stuff.  No jerky, no weenies in a can, no Lit'l Smokies.  I'll eat a Twinkie that can survive the apocolypse, but I draw the line at weird little sausages.

That said, it was a pretty decent appetizer.  Lots of flavor, definite heat spice-wise, and something very different than what we usually have.  I think these can probably be made on the grill, too, since we've used the grilling pan for vegetables in the past.

If you try these - on a smoker or a grill - leave me a message and let me know how they came out.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: 
There's Always Time For The World Wide Web

2015: There's Always A Church
2014: The Parking Problems For A Big Rig Never End
2013: Need I Say More?
2012: Despite The Name, This Might Not Be Your Place If You’re Truly Bashful
2011: Then Someone Lit The Flame And Plain Rode Away On Lion’s Mane
2010: It Once Had A Life
2009: Life’s A Planet Beach
2008: I Wasn’t Even Fishing, But I Certainly Got A Great Catch
2007: Royal Air Force Typhoon Blows Into Nellis
2006: This Dandelion Needs Rogaine
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Water That Saved The Life Of A Princess

My mother recently bought a new fridge.  You'd think she has five people living with her for all the bitching she does about the size of her current one.

"It's just too small," she said.

"Too small for what, Mom?  You're one person," I said.

"Well, I just can't get in there.  I have to move things around too much to find anything."

If you've ever seen the inside of my mother's refrigerator, you'd smack your forehead. She's got enough lettuce to feed all the rabbits in North America, flavored water, loaves (as in more than one) of bread, leftovers, eggs, fruit, yogurt.  My grandmother used to buy the little half-dozen container of eggs for her and my grandfather.  My mother buys 18 eggs at a time.  What the hell??

She just wouldn't hear of "making do" with the fridge she had so we made a trip to Sears and she bought a new one.  Side-by-side doors, vegetable crisper, water and ice on the door.  She loves it.  LOVES.  Like, actually talks about how in love she is with her fridge.  


Weird.

Anyway, she was deciding on what to do with the old fridge when my brother piped up and said he wanted it.

And, as usual, he turned it into something amazing.  
In true Carpenter Avenue Classics style, he added a little handcrafting and a smidge of automotive art to what was once a plain 'ol Kenmore, making it a unique place for chilling.

In addition to the car door, which includes a window and the handle to get into the fridge, the vintage sign used for the front of the fridge depicts a Mexican brand of sparkling mineral water called Topo Chico.

I'd never heard of Topo Chico before my brother made this fridge.  Topo Chico ("Little Mole") is a brand of sparkling mineral water sourced and bottled in Monterrey, Mexico.  The product has been bottled since 1895 and is sold in Northern Mexico and all of the United States.

Apparently, it's pretty legendary.  Topo Chico has been written about in Thrillist, The Kitchn and The New York Times.

According to the Topo Chico website:

There was a beautiful Aztec princess who suffered a terrible disease, so strange that none of her father’s doctors, Moctezuma I Ilhuicamina, successor in 1440 of the King Itzcoatl had been able to cure.
Desperate, the King turned to the older priests in the kingdom to find a cure for his beautiful daughter. They told him that according to the timeless stories of travelers, in a far away northern land, there were strange and hidden waters which flowed at high temperatures, waters in which one only needed to bathe in or drink from to regain vigor, joy, strength, and refreshmennt.
Encouraged by this news, Moctezuma I ordered an immediate expedition to take his daughter to this amazing place. After traveling long and rugged roads, the expedition and the Princess reached a fertile valley flanked by mountains. To the east, they saw a mountain with the form of woman’s face (now “Cerro de la Silla”) and also found a mole-shaped hill, from whose slopes flowed the prodigal waters.
After spending some time there, taking baths and drinking from the water, the daughter of Moctezuma I, his priests and chiefs returned to the Anahuac lands optimistic, strong, happy and refreshed. The news about the recovery of the Princess spread throughout the kingdom and has passed from generation to generation up until modern times.
Water from a mystical spring?  I'm going to need to try this stuff.

In the meantime, if you're interested in buying this refrigerator to store your Topo Chico in, let me know.

I've got a connection at Carpenter Avenue Classics.  Wink-wink.



2012: Looking For A Coffee Fix
2011: Container Port, You Are No Friend Of Mine
2010: Encased In Plastic
2009: No Lifeguard On Duty
2008: Palm Sketches
2007: You Know Who You Are
2006: I Fear The Family
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

A Spicy Little Secret

My job was to cut the jalapeños in half and take the seeds out.  Ed was taking it from there.  Stop back to see what these spicy little pepper canoes eventually turned into



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: 
It's Uphill From Here

2015: A Place Of Rare Beauty
2014: Thumbs Up For A Real Bronx Tale
2013: A Mountain City Fit For A Queen
2012: Sprinkle Of Seaweed, Anyone?
2011: Shopping To The Maxx
2010: Ed Unloads An Oil Platform
2009: You Never Know When You Might Need It
2008: Eddie Climbs A Wall Friday
2007: What Showing Off For Your Kids Looks Like
2006: What’s It All About?
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, March 06, 2017

Spicy Rubs In Bulk

Yesterday we made a trip to Costco.  We only went to look at meat and came home with a bit more than we planned.

A lot of people think buying in bulk is automatically cheaper.  But that's not always true. You have to know your prices.

Today you can whip out your cell phone and check prices at other stores to see if you're getting a good deal, and most of the stores today make it easy by posting the per unit or per ounce price.  That's really the best way to know what you're paying for.  Sometimes people think if you buy the larger package (in bulk stores or even regular stores) you're getting the best deal.  But often if you check the per ounce price buying two smaller packages gives you a better deal and if you're lucky, more product.

I've been shopping like this since I was 13 years old.  My step-father Frank was doing unit pricing before it was a thing for the average shopper and taught me how to do it.  I learned the best prices for the available sizes of peanut butter, rice, toothpaste, oatmeal, strolling up and down the aisles with my little calculator making my choices.  Today I use my iPhone, knowing Frank is watching and nodding with approval.

As you can see, in addition to some of our household staples (oatmeal, nuts, coffee) we got steaks (ribeyes!), pork ribs, bacon and tons of spices for Ed's spice rubs.  Ever since Ed bought his smoker and this book, he's been going crazy with experimenting.

I'll share one of his recipes soon, so check back in!



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: 
Tiny Life

2015: Where The Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains Meet The Pacific
2014: A Spontaneous Slumber Party And An Italian Feast To Go
2013: Bright Spot On The Mountain
2012: Thinking About Adding A Few More Wheels To The Rig
2011: Cooled By The Ocean
2010: Oh, Mother!
2009: Eddie Adds Culture To His Day
2008: One Armed Bandit
2007: 614
2006: Having A Good Reason
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Rockin' It

I shoveled rocks.

Like a prisoner in a chain gang.

In the sun, in 80-degree weather.

OK, so it wasn't just me doing the shoveling.  Me, Ed, and my friend Kim - who I can't believe is still my friend after all the stuff she's gotten roped into - shoveled a ton of decorative rocks into paver-lined beds on the side of our house.

It's another attempt to spruce up the woefully neglected "landscaping" around our house. I plan to add a few plants and some color in the coming weeks.  

It's amazing what $50 and a little sweat equity can do.
I've never been a fan of physical labor and really, that hasn't changed.  I like it even less now that I'm getting older.  My plan wasn't to be shoveling rocks at almost 50 years old. Although my ideal scenario is to hire someone to do this stuff, I'm not a millionaire yet so I suppose there's going to be a few things that we'll have to take on ourselves.

I do feel good seeing how nice it looks and even though it's not perfect, it's a start.

And I'll take that.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: 
Former Trees

2015: Birthday At The Blowhole
2014: Dreaming Of Blue Skies And Swaying Palms
2013: They Never Ask If You Have Invisible Ink
2012: I Didn’t Break A Leg, So I Guess I Can’t Regret Doing It
2011: Why Couldn’t It Have Been The Canola??
2010: I Like To Call Him The Kite Master
2009: Talk About Making Good Use Of Your Time
2008: Don’t Three Feet Equal One Yard?
2007: New And Improved
2006: Maybe I Don’t Need To Know Everything
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Gravitating Toward Good Tunes


I listen to a lot of music when I drive and sometimes I come across something I haven't heard in a while.  I discovered Sara Bareilles in 2007 when I picked up a Starbucks Pick of the Week card - they used to give away individual songs via an iTunes code on the back of a little business card.

The name of the album was "Little Voice" and I wound up downloading the entire thing.

Most of you are probably familiar with "Love Song" since they played the hell out of it, but there are plenty of other great songs on the album, and "Gravity" is one of them.



2014: Award-Winning Plan
2013: Watch Closely Now
2012: Mission Of The Sacred Heart
2011: Vintage Photo And Clothing
2010: Just How I Like It…Cold And Colder
2009: Snagged
2008: The Writing Is On The Wall
2007: Eddie Waits For A Ride
2006: Truckers And Travelers Know Good Food
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!