Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pineapple and Black-Eyed Pea Salad

There was a recipe I'd been wanting to try for ages now.  When I had plans to cook for a friend who is eating gluten-free, it gave me an excuse to finally make it.  The website where I found the recipe is now offline so I'll provide you with it....

Pineapple and Red Pepper Salad with Black-Eyed Peas
adapted from Bon Appétit. serves 6 (as a main course) - 12 as a side dish

4 c black-eyed peas, rinsed well and soaked overnight
4 c fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and diced (1 large pineapple)
2 roasted red peppers, chopped (or 1 12-oz jar)
1 c celery, chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped
3 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 c Dijon mustard
2 T cider vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
2 t salt
black pepper

In a large pot, place black-eyed peas and fill with water 3" over the peas. Bring to a boil and cook on high 25-30 minutes, until softened.

In large serving bowl, combine cooked peas, pineapple, roasted red peppers, celery, red onion, cilantro and jalapeños. In a small bowl, whisk Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.  Pour over vegetable/fruit/bean mixture.   Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

There's another salad I make from this same (now dead) website...and I like the other salad a lot more.  I had high hopes for this one - pineapple is my very favorite fruit! - but something about it didn't mesh with me.  Mr. Higgins likes it more than I each has their own tastes.  Maybe the black-eyed peas do it in for me (I've never been a fan).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In the Sand

I don't have a lot of stress at work.  I'm lucky in this and I know it.  But I have a different kind of stress: I can barely make myself go to work these days.

I've talked about my work woes before.  Not a lot has changed.  I'm learning Greek because I was ordered to do so.  I like Greek; I like learning.  I do not, however, relish the prospect of translating Greek for the rest of my life.  I would really like to do other things.  

Work is work.  We get through it, we come home, and hopefully we're not too tired to have a nice evening with our spouses, animals, kids, etc.  But sometimes work beats you down.  When there's no end in sight to a crappy situation, it's just depressing.  I can bury my head in the sand with the best of them, but I'm also a realist.  I know my current job is a dead end.  
I've grappled with this since I first took this job.  But I never imagined I would still be in it after almost seven (!) years.  This is not for lack of looking, mind you, but I have awful luck.  Just awful, as evidence by my tenure as a Research Assistant!  

In times like these, I try to remember that God has a plan and that I'm not privy to it, just yet.  I'll keep trudging on, hoping, always, for something better. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

An Afternoon of Cards

A few weekends ago, I spent an afternoon making cards.  It had been quite a while since I'd made any - probably since Christmas.  It was so much fun! 

It's hard having so many crafts to keep up with.  But it's fun when you can take time, without any pressure, to make some cute things. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Habemus Papam

I haven't said anything about the pope, mostly because I've been learning about him.  All in all, I think the bishops made a good choice in Francis I.  Why?

- He's not Italian - or European! 
- He's a humble man and one who cares deeply for the poor.  A true Christian.
- He's a Jesuit. He's taken the vows of a monk.
- He's the exact opposite of Ratzinger.
- He's conservative.

He's no John Paul II and part of me thinks that is what the Church really needs right now.  But those popes come around once in hundreds of years, unfortunately.  Francis I will be a nice change from the last pope and that will suffice.

The Jesuits were created very late in the game, so to speak - in the 1500s - by Ignatius of Loyola.  They became very powerful in the Church but Francis I is the first Jesuit pope.  As of now, the Jesuits - brothers and clergy - are the largest religious order in the Church.  

I do not think this pope will allow for female priests, gay marriage, or the marriage of priests.  It's hard for a Catholic to explain why this just won't happen...  But, as a Catholic, I know none of it will.  

I look forward to seeing how Francis I does as the Vicar of Christ. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DIY Project

This is not a crafty thing, per se, but it is a DIY project.  

My parents came up over the weekend and we built this - a box valance!  I bought the fabric and my mom sewed the two pieces together.  She, my dad, and I (but mostly the two of them) built the box.  Mom and I put the fabric on....and dad and I hung it up.  

Mr. Higgins has been bugging me to do something about the windows in our living room and I'm super happy this project is finally done.  It only took two years to make it happen!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Traveling Kitteh

For a bit of comic relief, I just had to post this

While packing for a trip to see my parents, Sidious decided she wanted to go, too.  Mind you, this is the cat who hates me for stealing her dad.  So why get into my bag?!  Ha!

I love the cats!  The world is such a better place with these furry ones around!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Banana Bread with a Twist

I tried a new recipe last week and it was delicious: Skinny Chocolate-Caramel Banana Bread.

Oh, boy, is it good!  I knew Mr. Higgins liked anything with banana and he loved this!  In fact, he said this was one of his favorite desserts that I've ever made.  (I've made a lot of desserts!)  Wow!  I loved it because it had chocolate in it.  Ha!

I found the Skinny Cow Dreamy Clusters on the candy aisle...and I'll have to go buy more ASAP so I can make this bread whenever I have ripe bananas around.  

Lately, I've been looking for low-fat dessert options.  I gained a bit of weight in December and I've been anxious to get it off and keep it off.  Thanks to a calorie-counter app (Lose It!) and crazy-insane workouts, I've lost the weight.  Now I just have to keep it off!  

Let me know if you come across any tasty desserts that are around 100 calories! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Filling in the Gaps

Recently, I took a day and devoted it to my writing.  

Every since I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago (or more - eek!), I've had some holes in my novel.  You see, for NaNoWriMo, I worked on part two of my novel.....after having not quite finished part one.  This may not have been the best of strategies but it got me a lot of good written material, so I'm not complaining. 

I've obviously worked on the novel since then.  But I still had holes.  Over the past year, I've worked on filling those gaps and, as of this week, they're done.  Yay!!

Now comes the hard part: the conclusion.  

Ironically, for someone so OCD and organized as myself, I rarely follow an outline when writing.  I usually begin with one but the characters have a say in the story....and they take me on tangents I cannot anticipate.  It's great when it happens.....not so great when I forget the outline. With the best of intentions, I'm working on an outline for the conclusion.  

I have to get this done.  I have the name of an agent who will look at it.  I have to finish.  I have to!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March Page

I can't believe it's March!!  Here is the page I did for my Creative Memories frame.  I love the birds from the Graphic 45 month line.  So cute!  

Amazingly, I've already done the page for April!  How's that for being proactive!  Ha!  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Battlestar Galactica

In graduate school, I started hearing my friends talk of this show, "Battlestar Galactica" - or, BSG.  They kept saying how great it was, how it was Rome in outer space (and, as a historian, I would love it).  I'm no stranger to sci-fi but I had little interest in this show.

Fast forward seven (!!!?!) years and Mr. Higgins told me it was the best written drama he had ever seen.  I argued that "West Wing" was TV's best drama ever(....well, this is not counting HBO, Showtime, etc, shows).  To Mr. Higgins' credit, he watched all seven seasons of "West Wing" and he mostly enjoyed it.

When we finished with that, he insisted we watch BSG.  The only reason I went along - besides the fact that I mostly trust his taste - is that he compared it to one of our favorite little shows of all time, "Firefly." 

So, off we went with BSG.  And...I was hooked in the first episode.  I was so hooked that we watched the first season in a week.  I was so hooked that Mr. Higgins had to insist we not watch it just so I had to suffer as he did, when it originally aired.  Ha!

"Wow," is all I can say about this show.  It's sci-fi but not really.  There are no aliens, no creepy critters lurking in outer space, and the technology is completely believable.  It's like we suddenly started building space ships because we can....but we haven't got everything figured out.  Make no mistake, this is no "Star Trek."  This is a sophisticated "Firefly" that will blow your mind.  

I had no idea there was a BSG that originally aired in the late '70s.  I was appalled to hear that Starbuck and Boomer were originally men.  Ugh!  This BSG is much better.  

As for comparing it to "West Wing"....  Well, no one beats Aaron Sorkin in dialogue.  But BSG, the pure nature of it, leads to more drama.....and that drama is executed in a way that TV had never seen at that time: brilliantly.  

(And...if you're into soundtracks like me and Mr. Higgins....  BSG has some of the best written music ever written for TV.)

I highly recommend it.  Actually, just go buy the Blu-Ray.  You won't regret it.