Share Your World #16

What are your favorite spices?

Ooh, I love so many.  Right now I’m obsessed with the banana oatcakes I’ve been making, to which I add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and orange peel.  LOVE that combo!

English: Cloves. Español: Clavos de olor, syzy...

English: Cloves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What object do you always have with you when traveling and why?

My toiletry bag.  Really it’s many objects.  I got tired of trying to remember all the toiletries years ago and so I keep a toiletry bag packed with duplicates of things I use all the time.  I make note when something is running low while I’m on a trip and replace things before I travel again.

Sometimes I just pour shampoo or whatever into a travel bottle, sometimes I buy a travel size.  Toothpaste, I occasionally stop using a tube half way through and shove the remaining half in the toiletry bag.  I love being able to just grab that bag and know it’s all in there.

What is one thing you love about being an adult?

Setting my own schedule.  Which I also like about working for myself.  I’ve always been a night owl (my mother says from birth) and the “normal” hours the school and business worlds keep have never suited me.  I also do better with five or six hours and then a nap later and I relish having the freedom to keep that crazy schedule.  Nobody tells me when I should or shouldn’t be asleep!

What item, that you don’t have already, would you most like to own?

I mostly feel I have too much stuff, so I don’t have a big wishlist beyond replacing various electronics as they wear out.  BUT, I’ve really been jonesing for a Chevy Volt.  With a 38 mile scope for running on electric, most of my driving could be done in electric mode.  And the mileage when it’s running on gas is quite good, 38-40 mpg.

Although I do already have a car, I don’t have a gas/electric hybrid and I would so like to have this one.  Plus, my Dad is a retired General Motors man, I grew up in Buick Town (Flint, MI) and I still can use his employee discount so I like the idea of a Chevy.  Even though I don’t think any of the GM employees in Flint are working on Volts…

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I had an amazing healing session last week and another at the beginning of this.  The kind of major healing that unfolds for weeks to come — so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

See Share Your World to check out other folks’ Shares.

Weekly Small Pleasures: Coffee and healing

The main source of pleasure this week came from a great appointment with a healer but I’ve posted about it on the other blog already:  Past Lives and Ancestors, Imprints Gone, and Update.  I’ll be continuing to update there as the process unfolds.

La Coppa

So the source of pleasure for today is coffee.  I’d been meaning to order more from La Coppa,  where I get the best coffee I’ve found outside of France and Italy, but just kept not doing it.  For once procrastination paid off as I received an e-mail this week offering free shipping for two pounds or more.  I jumped on the deal and ordered three pounds –which came to not much more than two pounds plus shipping.

It arrived a couple of days later.  Although I have a bit left from the last batch, I’ve been more often having less expensive local stuff.  I’ve been indulging in a special cup of the good stuff each morning and will for a day or two more before I return to alternating the pricey and the less pricey.

For Weekly Small Pleasures

*Last batch they sent whole bean.

Kindle Scout – A New Program from Amazon


More good info for writers

Originally posted on Authors Supporting Authors:

Listen to this!     Have you heard about Kindle Scout?

This could prove to be another option for Indie Authors publishing on Amazon.  Here is some basic information about the program:

“Customers who have shown an interest in books about publishing might want to know about Kindle Scout, a new reader-powered publishing program where readers help discover the next great books.
Submit your book to Kindle Scout and be considered for a publishing contract with Kindle Press in 45 days or less. We welcome submissions for English-language books in the following genres: romance, mystery & thriller, science fiction & fantasy, and literature & fiction.
If chosen for publication, you receive:

  • Guaranteed advance & competitive royalties: A $1,500 advance and 50% eBook royalty rate.
  • Focused formats: We acquire worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages. You retain all other rights, including print.
  • 5-year renewable terms, $25,000 in royalties: If your…

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Thunderclap Hooooo!


Help a fellow author/blogger — and check out Thunderclap for your own stuff

Originally posted on Rebirth of Lisa:

This story will have you cheering for

Yesterday I had a chat with someone who has become dear to me over the past few months. The thing is I have never met her in person, but she and I are building a “BLOGSHIP”. I know that’s not a word, but there is not a word for a relationship via a blog, so I made-up my own. Colleen Chesebro from the Silver Threading blog has been a great source of support with the launching of my debut novel, The Mistreatment of Zora Langston. Well Colleen suggested I start a Thunderclap campaign to help get the word out.

As an indie author I am all about finding unique and effective ways to market my book, not to mention FREE! I decided to check out their website and found it very interesting indeed. Thunderclap is an online forum for people to spread the word about their causes. You’ll find campaigns…

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Streamlining food prep

English: lamb stew with leeks, lentils, yellow...

English: lamb stew (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As mentioned in a recent post, I have issues about standing too long so cooking my favorites, which generally have lots of ingredients and steps, is often a challenge.  Since I figured out that you can usually pick and choose among various methods I have been making my way through my go-to recipes and streamlining.

I figured out in cases where you want some veggies cut or sliced but not in a pulp, the food processor gives you mostly uniform slices quickly and easily.  So for lots of soups and stews, I figure out an order for which items will need to saute the longest and work the slicing backwards.

So, for instance, I often grate or slice an onion (or more) in the processor while the EVOO is heating.  Then while the onion sautes, I might next slice broccoli and add it, then run some leafy greens through the slicer and add those.  Instead of having to stand and chop for 30-45 minutes before I even start cooking anything*, this method often gets me to soup simmering or frittata baking or stew cooking in 20-30 minutes total.

As I streamline recipes I’ll post them with instructions.  I have the ingredients for ribollita, so a step-by-step re-tweaked version will appear soon.  If you look at the tabs up top you’ll see that I’ve also added a page for recipes where you can find all that I have posted.

* My fingers and knives don’t have a great history so anything like the speed with which chefs chop isn’t happening for me.  Even assuming I could go that fast if I wanted to.

Weekly Small Pleasures: visitors and road trip

Photo: Leigh Gaitskill

Photo: Leigh Gaitskill

1.  More than a small pleasure really…  My dear friend Sue lives in San Jose and we just don’t see one another often enough.  Her husband, Pete, has had family business to attend to in Knoxville several times in recent years and we’ve developed a tradition of meeting somewhere in between for lunch.

A couple of years ago I introduced them to Berea, a charming town in the foothills of Appalachia, which features lots of shops full of beautiful craft items from the mountains, a historic hotel/restaurant and a lovely tuition-free college originally founded in 1866 as an interracial college.  On that occasion we had lunch in the lovely dining room at the hotel, Boone Tavern

On this occasion they chose a nearby restaurant.  It was ok.  The great thing was the company.  I never remember to take pictures when I eat with good friends — too busy enjoying the people to even think about electronics…  Sadly on this occasion that extended to forgetting to take pictures of them…

We shopped around at some of the lovely craft places after lunch.  I’ve been collecting mugs for something like 35 years though I’ve been slowing down in recent years in part due to space issues.  However, I found one of the prettiest mugs I’ve seen in a while (see top photo) and couldn’t resist–especially since I’ll remember my lovely visit with Sue and Pete every time I sip coffee from it.

2.  We haven’t been making it to our favorite Indian restaurant, Masala, as often as usual.  So last night’s Saag Lamb brought great pleasure!

3.  This is our second sunny day in a row, which doesn’t seem to happen much here.  I lived in the Pacific Northwest (Portland then Seattle) during six years between droughts–which included extra rain from Mt. St. Helen’s aftermath and El Nino–when it was grey/misty/rainy something like 28 days a month from September to the middle of July the following year.  This area is the only other place I’ve ever lived that sometimes seems poised to rival that…  So two sunny days in a row is definitely a pleasure!

For This Week’s Small Pleasures #44

Cooking: pick your preference

Shrimp and chicken stock and the cajun trinity...

Shrimp and chicken stock and the cajun trinity (bell pepper, onion, celery) for gumbo. Garlic and parsley are also on hand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve learned a lot over the years from watching my favorite chefs on Food Network (many of whom no longer have shows…).  It took me a while to register how frequently all the chefs contradict themselves about the best way to do something.

I’ve seen one grab a box of store-bought chicken stock and tell us we really don’t need to make it from scratch since very good ones are now available in the store.  In other episodes I’ve seen the same woman make stock from scratch while telling us there’s nothing like stock from scratch…

I’ve seen most of them process aromatics (onion, garlic, celery, etc.) in to a pulp, then saute.  I’ve seen the same ones hand dice them while insisting that you must wield a knife and try to get it all the same size, then saute.  I’ve seen the same ones use the grater or slicer on a food processor and discuss the uniformity, then saute.

Eventually I realized the taste as the base of flavor is pretty much the same regardless of which method you use.  I have an odd blood pressure condition wherein it goes down instead of up when I stand; I get more and more light-headed the longer I stand.  So for me the pulse in food process method works well because it’s fast and tastes great and I don’t have to lie down after I do it…

I’ve seen chefs make pasta from scratch and tell us there’s no substitute.  And then the same chefs make lasagna with the no cook variety of noodles and tell us they come out so well there’s no need to make your own.  Same for spaghetti or …  you name the pasta.  Again, the method that involves the shortest amount of time standing works best for me.  And the meals are always good.

Many insist you MUST use a whisk to beat eggs for an omelet or frittata but really a hand mixer — manual or electric — adds the froth you need just as well in far less time and with far less wear and tear on your arm.

When it finally sank in I realized that cooking is so much more malleable than chefs sometimes make it sound.  They have a tendency to discuss whichever method they’re using with a voice of authority and an implication it won’t turn out well if you don’t do it that way.  But since I watch every episode for my faves, I couldn’t miss the many contradictions from one time to another.

I meet a lot of people who are frightened of cooking in part because of those authoritative statements about specific techniques.  The reality is –outside of baking, where some more precision IS often required–for most cooking there are several potential methods and the only thing that really matters is what do you prefer both in terms of ease of preparation and final taste.

There may be some modicum of difference to the taste in one method over another, but let’s be real, most of us aren’t that nuanced in our taste.  I’m looking for rich, layered flavors when I cook, not the most perfect version of the dish I can achieve.  I don’t want to feel like somebody deflated me after I’ve prepared a meal.  So I use whatever method is easier and faster and involves the least time standing as long as the taste comes out good.


Weekly Small Pleasures #13

Since I’m having a behind sort of week, I’m glad this is a weekly challenge so I can still do the post, a couple of days later than usual…

What was your favorite subject in school?

I always enjoyed history and majored in it in college.  But I think I loved English more.  Not the diagram a sentence, learn how to use adverbs stuff, but English lit.

At Northwestern there were a lot of requirements for an English major that were of no interest to me so I chose history and just settled for taking as many English lit electives as history classes…

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away” (George Carlin). When have you had such a moment?

I’m easily moved to awe, so there have been many.  The ones that pop to mind right away:

  • When I lived in Evanston, IL, every time I drove down Sheridan Rd. and onto Lake Shore Drive, that view of the city looming far down the road never ceased to take my breath away.  Actually when I visit that’s the way I head out of town (to the Skyway) and it still does.  I couldn’t find a free photo of precisely that but this view from the lake in Lincoln Park is the same basic angle from closer to the Loop
  • There’s a walk I take in my old neighborhood in Marin County where you climb a hill in a county park and suddenly you’re looking at the skyline of San Francisco.  I always have to stop if only for a breath or two to gaze at that view.  It’s turned out to be hazy the only times I’ve bothered to haul a camera along but this gives you the idea
  • The first time we visited Italy our guide took us on a two day visit to Elba.  The second day was gorgeous and sunny, the island stunning and Roberto introduced us to Andrea Bocelli by playing his first album as we drove around, stopping for lunch at a little village place where we ate salad that came from their garden and fish they caught that morning…  One of the most magical days I ever spent

What’s your choice: jigsaw, crossword, or numeric puzzles?

I can’t even understand the instructions for numeric puzzles so that’s never a choice.  When I was a kid we used to do jigsaws and I loved them but I haven’t done them as an adult very often, in part because I’ve rarely had a space to leave one while taking my time to do it.  So crossword puzzles win, I still do them.  Although if they’re hard I cheat…

If you found an obviously abandoned car with $50,000 in the back seat, what would you do?

Make discreet inquiries about the car, see if I could find the owner and figure out whether I should be handing it to the authorities or giving it to the owner.  If I couldn’t find out who it belonged to, I’d thank the Universe for sending me a gift and take it to the Bank.  In under $10,000 increments over time so as not to trigger a federal investigation :-)

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Yesterday I finally had a cancelled and long-postponed make up cranio sacral appointment which quieted down the crazy muscle thing.  And, while the appointment is week after next she gave me a referral to another practitioner (several modalities) she thinks may be able to solve the riddle of this ongoing problem, so I’m looking forward to that already!


See Share Your World

Weekly Small Pleasures: Smoothies, etc.

1.  A couple of the smoothies I made this week were particularly yummy.  See post for recipe.  I call it Tropical Smoothie because the tropical flavors wind up being the dominant tastes–for me, anyway–even though there are many non-tropical items in it.

Tropical Smoothie

2. Before the temperature shot down again, we had a day so warm the windows were open for hours.

3.  Cedar plank salmon at a favorite restaurant, The Ketch.

4.  An epiphany has me planning a new vision board; having fun looking at pictures and deciding what to put on it.

For Weekly Small Pleasures.

My tropical smoothie

Long ago I posted my two main smoothie recipes here, but I’ve slowly played with it and come up with another recipe which I’ve been stuck on for quite a while.

Leigh’s Tropical Smoothie

  • 1-3/4 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh apple cider
  • 1-2 fistfuls shredded carrots
  • 1 fresh (peeled and quartered) or 1 fistful frozen sliced beet
  • 1 fistful pineapple
  • 1 fistful cranberries
  • 1 fistful mango
  • 7-10 strawberries (depending on size and taste) or fistful blueberries
  • 2 bananas
  • if you don’t have issues with raw greens and thyroid (I do) add a fistful of spinach, kale or other leafy greens
  • optional:  add milk of your choice (I use unsweetened almond) to thin it as needed or to taste

Put it all in blender and liquefy.  I put everything but the milk first and liquefy, then add milk (or if needed pour a bit out and add milk to thin the rest) and blend.  This makes about 48 oz and I use half one day and the other half the next.

If you’re missing one or two items you can obviously make do with just the rest.  I do variations, like replacing strawberries with blackberries, adding flax seeds, using yogurt instead of bananas if I’m out, or switching the cider/orange juice amounts, etc.

I quit putting raw greens in after I realized they tend to suppress thyroid, which is already a problem for me.  They’re okay cooked, so I use them copiously in soups and frittatas, etc. instead.  The main idea, as mentioned in the previous post, is to use the eat a rainbow theory for the smoothie.

It sounds like a hodgepodge, but it really tastes yummy.  Even my mother– whose main rule of eating is, I’m pretty sure, “nothing nutritious shall pass my lips”–loves them.