Words Escape Me

laundry line

Sometimes,

I feel like working in silence.

Kneading bread dough,

painting walls,

pulling weeds with the sunshine on my back.

fence

Here are some images from a walk around the block in historic Richmond on a quiet afternoon.

 

wringer

Richmond oaks

Beyond Ramen: Students Abroad Seeking Inspiration!

Ramen

You’re far from home, renting a room and dealing with limited resources and unfamiliar ingredients.  It’s the middle of winter and the schedule is busy but you’ve got to eat and stay healthy.  You can’t eat out every day but don’t want to eat leftovers all week.  What’s a student to do?

Here’s the challenge!  Find a few recipes that are:

  • quick and fairly easy – prep shortcuts welcome
  • nutritious, including several food groups and some variety
  • inexpensive, with limited ingredients and waste
  • made with readily-available ingredients (anywhere in the world)
  • vegetarian or fish
  • made on the stove (no oven available)

I’ve been cooking for the multitudes since I was 15 and have a walk-in pantry and more than enough gear – so cooking for one on a hotplate is a distant memory.  Daughter and I are both doing some research, but I know that all of you are a great resource!  Please comment with your best tips.

Saturday Morning Nostalgia

It’s a gray and damp Saturday morning and I felt like exploring a nearby historic district.  What I was looking for, I’m not exactly sure.  Beautiful imperfection.  Years of use and loving memories.  I’ll just show you.

Welcome to Rosenberg

Bike

CocaCola

Elevator

Fan

kitchenware

Mexican Pottery

Victrola

Pots

Holy Cow! I forgot to get a social life!

besties

A friend moved to a new city recently, and we discussed the importance of getting a social life – in the real life, physical world sense.  And it suddenly occurred to me that I think I’ve lost mine and I’m not exactly sure how to get it back again.

Like many, I work remotely with interaction consisting of e-mails, phone and conference calls.  I do have nice short chats on Facebook or blogs, but these are fleeting and limited.  My extended family is a diaspora scattered across the country, and my children presently live on three continents.  Work takes up most of my waking hours and the time that’s left is spent with family.  As the nest slowly empties I think it might be worthwhile to rediscover the art and pleasure of friendship.

As I often do with life’s great puzzles, I turned to Google for help and searched for “how to get a social life.”

One article gave a rundown beginning with “1.  Find some potential friends” and suggested that I start with work or school.  Strike one.

Another started with the real basics:  “Stand up straight, smile an authentic smile, avoid looking cold and unapproachable, and take care of your hygiene.”  Now we’re getting somewhere!  I can do this!  But I have a feeling that if I do all of the above at my local mall, shoppers will nervously avoid me like the kiosk vendors selling styling products.

eHow.com was more helpful, and right up my alley.  I appreciate a practical approach.  “1.  Work out in a gym.  2.  Participate in a class.  3.  Join a new church.  4.  Be social with co-workers.  5.  Go to the library.”  Actually, I question #5.  Libraries tend to be very quiet and solitary places, and the last time someone approached me in the stacks….  Oh, that’s another story and we won’t get into the details on this post.

One article had a simple suggestion that actually seemed like a pretty good place to start.  “Believe you’re worthy.”

So it sounds fairly simple to me.  Adjust the attitude, believe you’re worthy, get out and do something interesting and just start interacting with others.

What are your best tips for getting a social life?

(*and no, that’s not me and my besties in the photo above.)

Around the World #7: Moroccan-Inspired Vegetable Stew & Couscous

Moroccan Market

Creative Commons: Adam Greig

I dream of someday exploring the markets or souks of Marrakesh.  I see a clash of colors, with slippers of every hue piled high, stacks of pottery, piles of beads and textiles draped across the ceilings.  The sounds of music playing, vendors shouting and people talking are overwhelming and spicy scents fill the air…

Wait – that is just the lingering aroma of our Moroccan-inspired dinner!

This post is dedicated to my father-in-law, a Spaniard born in Morocco, and my daughter, a student and explorer of North African cultures.

Moroccan Vegetables

Moroccan-Spiced Sweet Potato Medley

Serves 6

(this recipe was borrowed and adapated from Good Housekeeping’s Simply Vegan!)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, pressed

1½ teaspoons curry powder

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 can (14½ oz.) diced or crushed tomatoes

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 large sweet potato, cut into ¾” cubes

2 small zucchini, cut into ¾” pieces

¼ cup frozen peas

1 cup couscous (prepare as directed)

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add onion and cook until tender and golden, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in garlic and spices and cook 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes, garbanzos and sweet potato; cover and heat to boiling over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in zucchini and peas, cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package directions.

Serve stew over couscous.

Good with warm naan or pita bread and a salad.

Embracing Twitter

This week, as an experiment, I’ve embraced the bird.  I’ve joined the flock and tweeted a few times a day – random thoughts, helpful hints and interesting articles.  I’m following 84 people I admire, causes I care about, companies I do business with and I have a grand total of 18 followers at last count.

There’s no doubt that Twitter promotes interactive communication and is a great way to quickly share thoughts, interact with others, find jobs and reach customers.  But blogging it isn’t.  It has a frenetic, hyperactive and addictive feel.

How do you feel about this technology?  Are you a fan or a Twitterphobe?