Let’s chat.

Have you ever seen those “coffee-date”-format blog posts, where you and the blogger are seated across a virtual table sipping on respective caffeinated drinks, and supposedly you’re talking to each other but really the blogger is just droning on and on about their lives while you stare at pictures of said drinks?

Well, aren’t you in for a treat.

Have a lovely, classy, monochrome cappuccino.  It tastes wonderful; warm, smooth, and a bit bitter–and you’ve got a brownie to wash down too, it’s just been cropped due to Instagram’s weird photo shaping lens.

Firstly, I want to say, thanks for the responses to my last post!  I really feel like I’ve been welcomed back with open arms.  Muchas gracias!! (As a side note, though: wth are you people doing commenting at 6:30 AM?? Sleep, sleep, my children.  We are on winter break!  Am I the only proper teenager here?  I myself only slithered out of bed at 10 this morning because I needed to get food in me and make sure that last post published.  I’m quite sure I could sleep all day if I didn’t get hungry.)

And obviously, since I’ve been gone for so long, there’s things that have happened since my last post that I need to fill y’all in on.  Not anything big or scary, just a bunch of mildly exciting pit stops on the road of everyday life.

  1. I performed my poem ‘The Professional Aimless Wanderer’ two months ago at the Washington State Poet Laureate’s reading.  The last word you all received on this endeavor was that I was having a hell of a time trying to write something.  I never succeeded, instead digging into my poem backlogs to scrounge up something suitable.  It went over quite well, though, and it was fun and a good experience.  Mother Dearest took a video…but due to her technological ineptitude, it’s mainly a video of the back of someone’s head with me off to the side, perched like a poetic shoulder-angel.  It’s also sideways.  😀  You guys want to watch it anyways?  Anyone know how to rotate it, at least..?
  2. Just 2 days ago we returned from a trip to see the extended fam in Klamath Falls, Oregon.  At Crater Lake we got a very detailed and lovely shot of a bird’s butt:IMG_0100
  3. IMG_0046 as well as this striking fisheye-effect shot of yours truly.  🙂  (NOTE, FOR CLARIFICATION: THIS IS NOT MY ACTUAL FACE.) We toured Captain Jack’s Stronghold (in Northern California), attempted to ice skate, and ate more hash browns than could possibly be healthy. Life was good.
  4. I got a new computer!  DSCN4325Its name is Cecil, he’s my birthday and Christmas present and probably blackmail material for this year and next, and he is just…the sexiest thing. Seriously.  So sleek and shiny and light and fast…I think I’m in love. Many thanks to the parental units.DSCN4327
  5. In way more recent news, today we took a day trip to Portland, Oregon, and visited the famous CITY OF BOOKS!!  Is it a bit drastic to proclaim that, post-high-school sometime, I really want to live in Portland, just for the sake of Powell’s?  Maybe I could work there as a supplement to the writing thing…I just really, really love this place, you guys.  For some reason it’s extremely comforting to wander around alone inside a huge building filled with books–like being swathed in stories.  Plus there was a cafe, with scones and chai lattes.  DSCN4328(Upon bringing out the camera to snap a picture of the lemon-blueberry scone, Daddio exclaimed from across the table, “You must be back to blogging!”) 😉DSCN4330

My haul.  Hyperbole and a Half is the…the greatest thing ever, you guys.  I cannot even begin to express my love for this comic.  If y’all aren’t reading her blog, get on it, stat.  Her dog-themed comics are the only thing that will guarantee me a 10-minute, laugh-so-hard-I-cry session, no matter how bad of a day I’m having.  I’m usually guffawing so loudly Citrus joins in (he knows how to mimic my laugh), and there’s no way my day can continue to go downhill from there.  Hyperbole and a Half, guys.  Seriously.

And now I hold the awesome concentrated humor in tangible, dead-tree form.  Nothing could be better.

Also…

DSCN4339

ohmigod I might be really dangerous with this book. 😉

Have a lovely day, y’all.  I don’t know why I’ve slipped into saying “y’all” within this post.  I don’t say it in real life.  It’s pretty fun to type, though.  I hope your coffee was enjoyable, and the brownie too!  We should really do this again sometime.

DSCN3111(Citrus says hi, btw.  He’s missed his adoring people.)

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MIMM: Hatchday, Pretty Light, Knees, and Insane Decisions

Hey everyone!  How’s your Monday going?

DSCN3124 DSCN3127 DSCN3137 DSCN3143 DSCN3160 DSCN3159Mine’s been pretty…pretty, to say the least.  As a Washingtonian, such flagrant displays of sunshine are something of a rarity, and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ve been taking full advantage of these picture-perfect summer days by frolicking about, soaking up the Vitamin D.

I’ve never really been one of those people who need an extra boost on Mondays to get through the week, even when school/activities are in session–I’ve just never hit the “Monday wall” that I guess so many people run into.  I’ve already confessed my nerdship to you guys–Monday is basically my favorite day of the week!  Not only is it usually pretty light on homework because teachers don’t like to take the time to concoct elaborate assignments over the weekends, school STARTS UP AGAIN and I know it’s going to be the beginning of a (potentially gruelingly) glorious week!

Still, it never hurts to get a little extra boost, even if your biggest worry right now is that the hammock that’s callin’ your name is gonna get lonely.

DSCN3140

The weekend was pretty enjoyable marvelous.  I hosted Citrus’ third hatchday party–I made sad-looking but still (IMO) cute cockatiel cookies and we bopped around outside.  There was a sleepover and we all got very slap-happy.  We were tired in the morning but there were muffins (with both lemon and seeds–perfect for a bird named Citrus!) made by me and a frittata made by Mother Dearest (with potatoes inside–tasted like hashbrowns!!).  I do so love hashbrowns.

Alas, we did not have a circular cookie cutter, so I had to shape the sugar cookie dough (nomnomnom) with a beer-can chicken prop-thing.  (My culinary vocabulary falters when it comes to meat…)

To make the cookies, I used the Savvy Vegetarian cookie dough recipe, this recipe for coconut whip as a frosting (tinted yellow with food coloring), Craisins for eyes, chopped up Watermelon Laffy Taffy for the beaks, and mangled “orange slices” candies for the orange cheek circles.DSCN3042 DSCN3052

This totally didn't happen what are you talking about.  Not straight from the beater, never.

This totally didn’t happen what are you talking about. Not straight from the beater, never.

I wouldn't recommend using A Taste of Thai coconut milk (pretty popular brand) for the whip--it has some sort of stabilizer added that prevents it from working too nicely.  I used...whatever this brand is.

I wouldn’t recommend using A Taste of Thai coconut milk (pretty popular brand) for the whip–it has some sort of stabilizer added that prevents it from working too nicely. I used…whatever this brand is.

DSCN3103

Beaks!  Haha

Beaks! Haha

Aaaaand the final result.  Bit homely, but that’s okay! 🙂

Citrus approves.

Citrus approves.

Other marvelous things today…

Can we talk patella bracing for a sec?  I’m in love.  I don’t think that’s hyperbole.  Anything that was enough to lift me out of the forced 8-month running break thanks to these dang knees is virtually a Messiah in my eyes.  (I think it was probably the braces in adjunct with my rest, stretching, physical therapy, orthotics, supportive shoes, and therapeutic ultrasounds, but hey, whatever works…)  To my surprise, I haven’t lost all of my (nonexistent to begin with) running prowess, and the braces allowed me to attend my first *OFFICIAL* XC practice last Friday!  I hope to attend two more this week!  We’ll see how that goes…alas, my mileage maximum right now is approximately 3.  (Maybe four on the hamster wheel?)  By the end of the summer we’re supposed to be easily running 8…

This brings me to my first INSANE DECISION OF THE DAY!  This one is way less insane than my other one, but it’s still a big thrill for me.  I signed up for another 5k!!  This one’s on August 24th, and, while running in the heat ain’t exactly my cup of tea, I’m beyond stoked!  If I can even get close to my time on my first-and-only 5k, then it will be a huge reassurance for me that, though my knees doth plague me, I can get my kickassery and (somewhat) speed back with enough motivation.  (To any “serious” runners out there reading this:  I know a 5k is not a huge distance.  It’s kind of a menial race.  But, alas, my body is NOT DESIGNED FOR RUNNING WHATSOEVER [sitting and blogging is more my speed, how ’bout you?] and a 5k is a big deal to me!)

Sweet Potato Chocolate Pancakes 009(Throwback to the morning of my first 5k, waiting in the starting line.  Pay no attention to the ominous disembodied hand on my shoulder; someone else is cropped out.  And notice the fear hiding behind the forced smile–the glazed eyes, the overall absent disposition.  I was convinced I was going to die that day.)

Incidentally, you know what’s harder than running a 5k?

………………………..Biking two hundred and two miles.

DSCN3158

Yeah, it’s insane.  We’ve covered this.  And it will require buying a new bike, and/or some road tires for my current trusty steed mountain bike.  But recently (yesterday-recently), la madre de una de mis amigas (I’m not sure why I phased into Spanish here, but I couldn’t think how to word it in English) participated in the Cascade Bicycle Club/Group Health Seattle-to-Portland bike ride, a one- or two-day event that spans a total of 202-point-something miles.  Which gave me a sudden and intense burst of inspiration.  It’s a recreational ride, not a race, but from my extensive Googling of the thing last night it looks. epic.  And everyone says you need to dream big and set high goals to keep your morale buoyed, right?  So.  I’ve got a year to train.  I post this to the internet so I can’t back down–next year, Daddio and I will be participating in the 2014 Seattle-to-Portland ride.  And we will rock that epic $#*@.

Much moreso than for running, my body (and quads) like biking.  While the farthest ride I’ve ever taken to date was just 40 miles with lots of hills, and I died afterwards–I’ve got a year.  Best get on this.

Ahh.  The inevitable foot selfie.  (For some reason I just tried to spell “foot” as “fut”…)  Daddio and I went on a short (10 mile?) ride today, and I plan to get some running on the hamster wheel done as well.  Fitness, here I come!

****************************************************************************************************

And arrachgha, yes, I need to do a poemography post today, since I’ve skipped out on that for, what, three weeks?!  Problem is, I only have one line to work with… #poetictrialsandtribulations

“Rather than people who shine–

I like people who glow

is the line, but I’m not sure how to weave that into a poem.  Would it be all right if poemography was extended to flash fiction?  I know I made the rules, but you guys can change them.  I’ll luv ya forever 😉

To The Newcomers

(Am I allowed to post Shel Silverstein poetry on the internet if I give him credit?  I’m pretty sure it’s violating some sort of copyright law…regardless, what follows is pretty widely known, so I am going to play the naive-teenage-girl-just-reblogging-awesome-things-here card:)

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!
— Invitation, by Shel Silverstein

🙂

So recently, I’ve just gained…so many more followers.  I really have no idea what happened here.  Maybe I posted something magic or something.  Anyway, it’s, like, the baby boom of followers.  0_o A lot of these people are people I actually know “irl”, which is kind of freaking me out–specifically adults that I know in real life; friends of parents, teachers, things of that nature.

I shouldn’t be freaked out, because I fully realize that by choosing to maintain a public blog in which I share a big portion of my life, I have made myself indexable, searchable, totally and completely public–I’ve built a whole internet persona for myself.  This has UNLIMITED benefits; I can connect with people all around the globe now, more people have heard of me and my little ramblings/writings, and I get a fantabulous almost-free creative outlet that I can choose to immerse myself in or neglect in favor of academic pursuits, whichever suits my fancy.  I wield the power of a globally-accessible writer, (occasionally photographer), editor, and publisher at once, all while seated in front of my laptop–I can broadcast my thoughts to the world with the entering of a password and a click of a mouse.  Andheckyeahthat’sawesome.  I totally want more people to partake in this.  So, welcome, people-who-actually-know-me-offline.  I’ve decided not to be creeped out by you. 😉

But I must introduce myself!  We’ve only just began our tender internet relationship here, you know; there are clarifications to be made, introductions to be hastily delivered, virtual handshakes and howdeedoto be extended.

About the Blog

Well, read my About page, if you haven’t already.  I explain and ramble a lot there.  In addition…

category cloud 5-17-2013

Just by checking out my category cloud, you can see that I ramble.  Probably a bit more than is optimal.  Most blogs have a set genre–travel blog, food blog, design blog, fashion blog, photography blog, bird blog, etc.

InfographicUm, yeah.

As you can surmise from “food”‘s largesse on my category cloud, and probably from reading my last post, I talk about that a lot here.  Man, does this girl love her some food.  Sometimes I take pretty pictures and sometimes I dabble in recipe developing, but mostly I’m just a food fangirl–Pinning and blogging and nomming on awesome stuff and gushing about it to everyone.  Oh, yeah, I’m a total teenage health nut too.  I love enjoy exercise and my current fitness goal is to increase my bufftitude, of which I have little.  On a daily basis, I down things like chia seeds, hemp protein powder, green smoothies, sweet potatoes swimming in almond butter, etc.  LOTS of veggies!  I also really like weirding out my friends at school by seeing just how repulsive-looking I can make my smoothies 😉

This is actually a kind of pretty one :)

This is actually a kind of pretty one 🙂

To see my philosophies on food and nutrition, click here!

In addition to food fangirl extraordinaire, I am an avid writer with big aspirations and some big successes already.  Over summer vacation, I really live out my dream because I can write, run, eat, and blog all day–I really hope my adult life can at least be similar to this. 😉  I write novels I was writing a novel that got much too long, so it’s on the backburner now while I try my hand at a different genre entirely.

My ultimate goal is to be a published novelist with a blog on the side…and then see how far I can go from there!  I don’t write for the purpose of maybe becoming famous, though; I write because I need to write.  I need literary abandon like oxygen, because if I don’t then I get the voices in my head (the good kind…the ones of angry characters urging you to bring them to life).  I write because it’s the only thing that’s been a lifelong passion for me, and because I hope I can, someday, touch people’s lives with words, give them a sense of belonging, or simply entertain them.  Other people’s works have done all that and more for me, and I really want to repay the favor to society.  Where would we be without creative writing?

My posts about writing are more sporadic, though I do foresee their increase in the future…I post about achievements, obviously, but occasionally I’ll embark on a little self-challenge or share a piece of work I’m proud of.  About a month ago I started a (supposedly) weekly writing segment which I not-so-creatively titled Poemography.  These posts are always prefaced by a shorter, descriptive post, and the Poemography segments themselves are hybrids of my writing and photography.  You can check out the archives here.

What else do you need to know?

Oh, yeah; photography!  I am not an artsy person in the SLIGHTEST, and because of the massive avalanche of work that is finals season currently, I’m not putting much effort into my photos as of late–but I’m a dabbler in the photographic realm as well.  Mainly food. 🙂  (Are you at all surprised here?)

Lastly…

DSCN0680Meet Citrus.

My best-ever non-human friend, my daily source of inspiration and absurdity, I’ve owned this cockatiel for three years now (celebrating each hatchday with a party dutifully, dontcha worry), and we’re both just getting better with age.  I don’t blog about him maybe as much as a good bird owner should, but that’s mainly because then we’d REALLY get into rambling, too-many-topics-on-this-blog territory–also, he prefers to maintain sheltered anonymity.  He’s into artistic mystique like that.  But he’s a big part of my life, I love him like an annoying child, he’s my profile pic on a lot of social media sites–I can’t fathom what my life would be like without him.  We’re a duo, yo.

So…that’s that.  Hope you enjoy your stay here at TGITO!

Novelties in Life

Hola, members of the blogosphere!  This post comes to you LIVE from Thanksgiving Break, as I stand in the kitchen with my laptop making garlic rolls, musing about everything at once and nothing in particular, and trying to remind myself to stop eating the garlic bread before it can make it to the feast tomorrow.  Bon appetit!

So, yes, I have a day of break all to myself today, because my school lets you off for vacation THE DAY BEFORE Thanksgiving,  but Little Bro’s does not.  😉  Ah, sweet revenge!  (Not revenge for anything in particular, mind you–just general customary sibling rivalry.)

I know during Thanksgiving most people are taking the time to sit around and think about the huge, awesome blessings they have in life and realize where they would be without them.  Which is good; very good.  But I’ve already kind of done this, and I don’t want my posts to start turning too sentimental–so I think “the little things in life” deserve their chance in the “what I’m grateful for” spotlight too, dontcha think?

Things that somehow just tickle you to death, even though they have no significant impact on your quality of life.

Things like the fact that you can now make pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse.

Things like the fact that we have a milkman who delivers two gallons of white, a quart of chocolate, and a dozen eggs every week.  There’s something so delightfully old-timey about that.

Things like sweet, carby breakfasts.

Lately I’m all about pancakes, overnight oats, and baked oatmeal!  I had never had baked oatmeal before, but after trying Vanilla Pecan Baked Oatmeal from Peanut Butter Fingers, I think you can consider me an addict.  (If you’re interested in making this, the best toppings are homemade almond butter and banana, followed closely by a “glaze” or swirling of vanilla greek yogurt.  Just FYI.  It’s also mind-blowing plain!!)

(Also, you guys, I just realized how grotesque the pancakes I posted pictures of in my last post looked.  Lol! 🙂  Totally did NOT consider that normal pancakes aren’t completely covered in air bubbles, nor do they usually have big unidentifiable brown splotches in the middle of them [it’s chocolate peanut butter!].  When I plate pancakes, though, I flip them to their non-pretty underside just to check that they’re done, and didn’t even think of how weird it would make photos look!)

Um…

Things like the fact that I have a mild puncture wound in the middle of my nose due to one ill-place “scritch” on my cockatiel’s head.  Oh, he’s big on revenge.  Thank goodness no one’s started calling me Rudolph.

Things like the fact that, when it isn’t pouring rain, we’ve actually been having some decent weather here.  Having grown up in the thick of the midwest, snow was usually blanketing the world by Halloween.  I miss it.  I really, really do.  But I’m also fairly certain that I wouldn’t be able to even think about running in it.

Things like the fact that, um, hello, I shaped garlic bread into knots today!  Tee-hee.

Are you feeling knotty or nice? 😉

Things like the fact that, now that a literary agency visit is on the horizon, I have an excuse to write all day long.  Never mind that I haven’t exactly done that.  Thanksgiving prep for a foodie=serious business!

Things like hot soup and warm oats and tea.

Novelties.

Not to be confused with my ‘noveling tea’. Completely different idea. 😉
A splash of milk takes Sleepytime Vanilla tea to a sublime level, plus I feel all sophisticated, like I’m drinking a latte.

Here I’m just about to go to sleep on Thanksgiving Eve, but Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in different time zones!  It feels like the East Coast is where the majority of bloggers are. 🙂

Bird Nanny

I mentioned in my previous post that I had two reasons for its belatedness: the fact that my laptop died, and something more serious.  Now the post detailing my serious issue itself is belated, but this, thankfully, is the result of pop quizzes and night-owlness and just a general overload of stuff that must get done.

You know it’s bad when you’re measuring your homework load in inches.

So, here’s my story.

On Friday night, we took our birds to an avian veterinarian.  Citrus got his wings and toenails clipped and some blood drawn; mainly just for precaution, but also because he’s underweight and not gaining muscle mass as he should be.  On the way home we remained in a pouting sort of state (they got him in a TOWEL, my goodness!) and kept up his diva tantrum for the rest of the night.  I did’t really think anything of it; he’s got some serious attitude (though he’s very sweet normally) and it was totally within his capability to hold a grudge for a day and a half.

Then the next day he barely moved from his perch.  He didn’t eat.  He wasn’t chirping, whistling, making any sort of noise at all.

If you’re not familiar with birds, let me tell you that when they get sick, they get really sick.  They are a prey species, so their natural instinct when they are not feeling well is to disguise it so no predators will view them as easy pickings.  They don’t really get “colds”, like humans.  In my experience, if your bird gets sick the best thing you can do is just try to make their final few days comfortable.  It’s stressful and agonizing.  I was bawling my eyes out the entire day, utterly terrified for my bird’s life, trying to do anything I could to help him.  The fact that Citrus wasn’t eating, coupled with our other parrot’s sudden demise, had me in breakdowns, the most stressed I’ve been in months.  Things were looking very grim.

And Citrus probably wouldn’t be with us now, if it had not been for mash.

What is mash, you ask?  The delightful, heaven-sent combination of toast, hard-boiled eggs, brown rice, sweet potato, and peas.

Blended together and served warm.

Out of my mouth.

Yes, I fed Citrus out of my mouth.  Mash actually doesn’t taste that awful–sort of like some sort of tuna or chickpea salad.  Or maybe my taste receptors were totally influenced by the ecstasy I was feeling inside when Citrus actually ate mash from my mouth!  At that point, I would have done anything to get some calories in him, which was what he really needed.  Birds in the wild feed each other from their mouths, so this was (somewhat) a comfortable, natural behavior for Citrus.  At any rate, he ate mash from my mouth when he wouldn’t eat anything else.  I really do think that mash, the glorious soft food, saved his life.

Even after mash, though, Citrus still wasn’t better.  The most striking change was the fact that he wasn’t whistling–only when my bird was silent did I realize just how much pleasure I get from listening to him serenade the day.  My baby was fading from us fast.  According to our vet, some birds are prone to “exaggerated reactions” to blood draws.  This was understating it.

This went on for three more days–three days of my emotions toyed with at the end of a string, hand-feeding my bird every two hours, a heat lamp pumping out infrared light day and night and turning my room into a complete desert.  I slept in a little sleeping bag near the foot of my bird’s cage so I could check on him during the night by the light of the lamp.  I’m overstating this, but, yes–I was in a state of utter panic.

And then–miraculously–on Tuesday, Citrus just…blossomed.  He was back to chirping, whistling, dancing, spasmodically zooming around his cage and flying to the curtain rod.  Now my tears were of happiness.  I am so thankful that Citrus is staying with us longer; as I said on Tuesday, “the show must go on”.  It would be tragic if Citrus’ show ended at two years of wonderful life.  Praise the Lord, hallelujah!!!  My homework and the rest of my life is on hold, but my bird is okay.  I’m an emotional wreck, but I’m also on cloud nine.

So, yes, my Recap post this week was belated–because I was playing bird nanny. 🙂

September 2012 Recap

I apologize for the unexpected belatedness of this recap; rest assured, I do have my reasons!  (I know it was keeping you up at night, worrying about whether I was all right, since my recap was late, am I right?)  My first, less serious excuse reason is the fact that on Friday night my laptop inexplicably DIED and would not come back to life…thankfully the magic men at the computer shop were able to fix ‘er up though.  (All my writings and pictures are on my laptop.  Of course, I have my novel backed up elsewhere, but all my other random scrivenings?  Not so.)  Moral of the story: back up all your important shtuffs right now!  You never know when it could happen to you.

My other, more serious reason?  More on that tomorrow.  Hopefully.

Let me just say that September certainly flew by MUCH faster than August.  I kept a videolog for myself in August and pretty much every day I complained of the “long, drawling summer days”.  Now that they are over, I wish I’d appreciated the leisure a bit more.  No one in their right mind would classify my days now as drawling.

Also, despite my ominous predictions, it most certainly did not rain much this month!  This is good for my running and my endorphin levels but bad for the random fields and forests that are spontaneously combusting all over the Northwest.  My heart goes out to those people whose homes have been engulfed in the devastating fires in Eastern Washington.

Over the course of September, I hit 80,000 words, baked and frosted cupcakes for an entire grade at my school, ran 35 minutes without walking, improved my mile time by 30 seconds, went to a camp that I really was too sick to go to (but had some fun anyway), made sweet potato pie for the first time (Mother Dearest’s birthday), sent one bird to heaven, actually managed to find time to blog, apologized profusely for awful morning photography, cooked, ate, stressed, laughed, slept.  Now that school’s up and running I think sleep is one of my favorite hobbies.  Maybe I should give it its own tab up at the top of this blog.

One month of The Girl in the Orange in terms of…

…photography:

What’s with me and waaay zoomed in chocolate photos, I ask you?  Maybe I just wanna face plant into the bowl.

Breakfast, all of it.  I think I’m kind of OCD about breakfast.  I freaking love it to death.  Breakfast is the one meal where you can technically consume chocolate and “dessert oatmeal” like carrot cake, sweet potato pie, or Creamsicle flavors, and still be considered within the bounds of sanity.  You are also not obligated to consume any vegetable matter (though I do quite often).  Other people daydream about finding a million dollars or getting asked to the school dance without dropping a million “subtle” hints…I daydream about what I’m going to make for breakfast.  Lest you think I have no life, let me assure you that sometimes I daydream about different things as well!  Like how I’m going to set up said breakfast for the perfect photo. #nerdalert

My ghost bird.

I discovered earlier this month that I absolutely cannot get an in-focus photo of my bird, regardless of shutter speed.  He’s just  incredibly busy a spaz.  A spaz I love with all my heart and then some.

…food:

Um, well, hehe, funny stories here.  I have actually burned more foodstuffs in the last month than in pretty much my entire culinary life.  One especially infamous one was when I was baking bread.  I had preheated the oven and was coming back to check on it only to discover thick, black smoke piping out of it like train chimney.  Turns out, I had left a roasting pan in the oven that was caked with the syrupy drippings of figs I had dried in the oven a few days earlier.  I was crying and burning my hands and I almost ruined the roasting pan, not to mention my birds’ air sacs.  Luckily the error was caught just in time.

Additionally, one time while making Savory Rhubarb Lentil Curry from Scissors and Spice, (highly recommended) I THOUGHT I had turned the burner off once my lentils were done cooking…when in fact I, well, hadn’t.  Let me assure you, people, burning lentils is something you do NOT want to smell, much less eat.  I did though; I couldn’t bring myself to throw away that much food.  With the help of a certain Google, I discovered that stirring in a few spoonfuls of peanut butter will get the burnt taste out of dishes.  I tried this and it worked, to some extent…my curry just tasted like peanut butter.  Not that I’m complaining.  It did look quite…interesting…though.

Happily, though, this month I got on the stick and actually fiddled around with some recipes for the blog!  If you’re new to the wonderful world of The Girl in the Orange (a happy place to be, I assure you, even if  my background of the most awesome color in the world tends to clash with most everything on here), check them out here and here.  Yes, they are both breakfast recipes.  They also both happen to incorporate oatmeal…my calling.  It sounds creepy when I say it like that; but, yes, oatmeal is kinda “my thing” and I could eat it all day. Can I get another #nerdalert?

And, one last thing that it would be criminal not to mention: have any of you guys ever tried a peanut butter and carrot sandwich?  I’ve been chowing down on the deliciousness more and more frequently this month and am loving them to death.  Baby carrots work best, and they’re awesome grated very fine.  This is the fourth strange-but-mind-blowing sandwich recipe that I am positively in love with!!  So far, I have tried it on molasses brown bread, pita, and regular ol’ whole wheat (all homemade).  Dare I suggest…you eat it between two pancakes?

Yes, I do.  I dare.  Eat it on pancakes.  Savor.  Realize just how much you love life.

The peanut butter and carrot sandwich is certainly delicious, but for me, it represents something important too.  For a while last year, food was…well, to put it bluntly, not fun for me.  I obsessed about what I ate, when I ate, how I ate it, planning out weeks’ worth of menus in advance and making sure I only ate what I deemed “healthy”.  If I for some reason deviated from my menu plan, I would have a major panic attack, crying and doing everything I possibly could to try to maintain my rigid order.  I think this was my way of coping with stress–food was something I could definitely control, my one constant in life.  But, now I’ve wised up and realized how awesome food can be.  Peanut-butter-carrot-pancake sandwiches are such random, spontaneous meal choices–and it delights me.  It delights me that I now have the ability to just decide ‘screw planning, I’ma make me a PB and C’…and enjoy it!

…things that made me smile:

1: Eating a plum way-back-when on September 1st (don’t even try to tell me that’s not way-back-when; it’s before school started!  Therefore, it is obviously eons away.), I was amused by the little raccoon (I think) footprint impressed into it!

Don’t even try to tell me that that’s not just the darling-est thing you’ve ever seen.

2: People being so, so kind and tolerant of me when I went on a school-wide camping trip while puking my guts out.  A nurse practitioner stayed with me in my cabin, swiped me herbal tea, made me all better.  I was a horrible, mucus-filled burden and I’m sorry; but everyone was just so nice to me.  (: ❤

3: Having been isolated from my this-side-of-the-US friends for three months, I cannot conclude a September Recap with just thanking them for how they remained their glorious selves.  They’re willing to commiserate the massive homework load with me, compliment me on my pixie cut (which I still am rocking and totally in love with), make me smile at all the right moments, support me, love me.  You wouldn’t believe my reaction at a school potluck earlier this month when two of my friends told me they read my blog!  If I do remember correctly, I hugged them.  It means so much to me that people are actually willing to take time out of their spilling-over-with-stress lives to read the musings of a certain Girl in the Orange.  I would like to extend this thank you to my subscribers (I was going to say ‘my followers’, but that sounds creepy) as well!  At present, there is only twenty three of you, but twenty three is a lot.  Blogging makes me happy and it makes me happy when my blog makes other people happy. 🙂

On the Universal Appeal of Birds

Two days ago, one of our beloved companion parrots, Java, left us forever.  (The picture is not of Java–that’s Citrus, my cockatiel.)

Java was a Derbyan parrot who took utter delight in destroying toys and swinging the day away.  He loved pistachios and toast and pizza as an occasional treat.  He spoke exactly two phrases–“Java bird”, and “Tres-er-racer” (which was what we called our third dog, whose real name was Tres), but somehow he was very well-articulated.  He gazed around his world in wonder and he spoke with his expressions rather than his beak.  Java was the picture of what humans should strive for more often–recognizing the world around you for the sheer wonder and awesomeness of it and living every day to the fullest.

We lost him from liver failure.  All you bird owners out there, please don’t worry that we were irresponsible–Java was on a very good diet consisting of mainly pellets and vegetables with nuts, seeds, and bits of “human food” as treats.  But when he was younger, he suffered an unfortunate bite wound from one of our bird-hunting dogs from which we didn’t think he would recover.  He did pull through though, and we got to experience several more joyful years with his cheerful demeanor.  The condition of his liver had been steadily declining, however, and this week it shut down completely.

We all miss him sorely.  The tragic loss of Java got me thinking, though–what is it that makes humans so drawn to birds?  As far back as ancient China and Egypt, you can unearth proverbs mentioning birds or see intricate hieroglyphs depicting breathtaking “bird gods”.  Birds manage to make an appearance in quite a bit of prolific American and English poetry.  They are wonderfully metaphoric.  A rooster is a constant in hectic life, a crow can be an omen or a source of delight, a hummingbird’s tiny body suspended in midair in front of a nectar feeder is stunning in the way it can defy nature.  It doesn’t seem like it should be possible to have something so small and so beautiful.  Birds are the picture of contradiction.  Fierce yet light on their feet, elegant yet goofy and charming.  My cockatiel is beautiful in the most divine sense of the term, from the swooping fringed crest feathers on top of his head to the careful pearling on his back.  His orange cheek patches are beacons of the rising Australian sun.  (Not that I live in Australia, but that’s where cockatiels hail from.)  And yet, he isn’t “elegant” in behavior.  I love to laugh with him as he falls off his perches, gets busy trying to make a nest in my hair, or (sniff sniff) drops his Nutri-berries through the grate of his cage.

My pet birds have a love for me that is overwhelming.  While they will sometimes sass me (yes, birds can have attitude issues), they absolutely adore me; they are the only beings on this earth that have never judged or belittled me, and will love me unconditionally no matter what I do.  It’s just…incredible.  Why can’t people be more like that?  I realize that there are some people who love me unconditionally as well, but, let’s face it, they’ve judged me, whether for the good or the bad.  Citrus couldn’t care less whether I was a health-nut vegetarian or a full-on steak-and-potatoes cowgirl.  He doesn’t notice (or politely declines to comment) when my hair looks like I just spent an hour in front of a wind turbine, or when my face is blotchy or my shirt has a gaping hole in the armpit.  He looks through all those things and only sees…me.

This is why I believe pet birds are so popular.  Wild birds have a different sort of grace, a beautiful untamability about them.  They are so lovely, wild and free, that everyone knows the metaphor “like a caged bird”.  It seems like a crime more profound than murder to lock up something with that beautiful of a soul.  They are nature’s greatest work–singers, quarrelers, chortlers, berry-munchers, worm-feeders, feather-preeners, flying up, up, up and away, just out of our grasp no matter how hard we try to emulate them.

Java, you were amazing.  You were amazing because you were a bird and because you were Java.  I hope you enjoyed your stay with us here on Earth.  May you have a swing in heaven. ❤

Sun to Snacks

Hola, all you Girl in the Orange readers!  I happen to be in a very Mexican mood at the moment, owing largely to the fact that it is currently 97 degrees and humid.  Read: sweltering hot.  While I did get out and about for a run early this morning, for the good portion of the day I’ve been shut up in my room with the curtains closed to prevent the house from becoming one giant thermos, trying to mow through my latest exceedingly large order of library books (I bit off quite a bit more than I could chew.  But it’s a happy dilemma!)  My bird, Citrus, has officially declared it ‘Sleep-All-Day Day’ since the curtains are staying closed, which is usually his signal to GO TO SLEEP.  😉

(Citrus says hello.)

But, the magical thing about all this heat is that (much to my excitement when I found this out earlier this week) we can dry food with it.  You were probably enlightened to our current plight of being up to our elbows in plums in my first Wordless Wednesday post.  Again, a happy dilemma.  But clearly, something needed to be done!  I think there’s an inner OCD-sufferer inside me whose greatest ambition is to rid the world completely of food waste–sometimes I plan my meals centered around what’s about to expire in the fridge.  True story.

So we couldn’t let these plums go to waste!  Believe me when I say, there were plums coming out of our eye sockets.  Even after several pounds of the golden beauties had been unloaded onto unsuspecting parent coworkers, we still had buckets full.  We made three batches of jam and froze about three pounds, and we’re still swimming in them.  As I type, we’ve got two very large bowls of them unassumingly waiting for their death sentence on our counter.

Our solution to the excess of the fruits was, naturally, to make jam.  My brother dislikes all sorts of preserves save homemade plum jelly (the kid hardly eats ANYTHING).  So we knew someone was going to eat it.

But if you’ve ever made jam or jelly before, you know that after you strain out your juice and pulp, you are left with this:


Which most people chuck.  Which is sad.  We threw away our first batch, composted the second, and finally I hit upon an idea.

Well, to be fair, it wasn’t really my idea.  I’m a chronic Googler, and I did my fair share of poking around on other people’s blogs before I had my epiphany–which, again, wasn’t so much an epiphany at all as it was marveling over how smart other people can be.

What I eventually surmised from my “research” was that you could take this leftover pulp, puree it, spread it out on a baking sheet, cover it with some sort of bug-proofer, and leave it out in the sun for two days.  And then you would have fruit leather.

As a wee young sprite, I thought fruit leather was pretty much the neatest thing since sliced cheese (which is pretty neat).  If you want insight as to what my, erm, colorful thought process was like back then, I can tell you that when I ate fruit leather, I used to pretend that I lived on a magical planet where EVERYTHING was made of fruit and I was on a horseback ride.  And then I got lost and had to eat my saddle and boots, which were made of leather.  Another true story.

(Man, what’s with me and the confessions/reminiscences/digressions today?)

The idea that I could make my own fruit leather was practically mind-bending for me.  I had always assumed that its making was a carefully guarded secret, and that you had to work at Stretch Island to know how to do it.  Not anymore, mis amigos!

All you have to do is blend the stuff until it becomes a lovely solid yellow (sorry for the clutter in the background! 😉 )…

add a few nice gobs of honey until sweetened to your liking…

smoosh it all out on a baking sheet coated with plastic wrap, and cover with cheesecloth…

and let bake in the sun for 8-15 hours (mine took two full “sun days”–about 10:00 to 5:00) somewhere high where your dogs cannot reach them.  In this case, on top of a (currently) unused birdcage.

Once our loyal friend the sun has worked his (her? its?) magic, you must peel your leather from the sheet.  And, incidentally, the cheesecloth.  Note to all who would like to replicate my doings: I would NOT recommend laying a cheesecloth in the wet leather!!!  Use a baking sheet with sides if you have one, and rubber band the cloth around the edges or something.  As it was, it just dried in the leather and made for a fuzzy treat. 😉

After this, you can either roll the leather up into one big roll-up and slice it into little segments, or slice it into segments first and then roll up.  Either way, you have your own completely homemade, eco-friendly, and pretty durn healthy “fruit roll-ups”!

If you reuse the plastic wrap it dehydrated on, you can cut little wrappers from it and wrap up your roll-ups.  Thus resulting in a totally portable and chewy snack for anywhere!  I’m thinking sack lunches, future cross-country meets, those brother-has-a-boy-scout-meeting-and-I-must-go moments…everywhere. 😉

And then you decide that you actually need a somewhat aesthetically pleasing picture on this post.

Somewhat.  Somewhat aesthetically pleasing.  (I’m signing up for a photography course ASAP, schedule allowing).

If you want to check out this technique elsewhere, I can’t point you to every site I searched on, but here’s one post from My Happy Homestead that actually convinced me I could make my own fruit leather, and got me raking other sites.

Did you know you could make your own fruit leather in the sun?  How are you taking advantage of the summer heat (if you’ve got it)?