Monday, May 30, 2016

The hubster and I were watching a movie recently and the daughter in the movie told her elderly father that she was going to make that Cha Cha Chicken that he liked so much.  I quickly wrote down “Cha Cha Chicken” as I had never heard of the dish.

I looked up the recipe on the internet and came up with some restaurant in California that serves Jamaican jerk kind of food.  Okay, cha cha chicken was getting me hooked.  I finally realized I was reading about a restaurant and not the recipe for the ccc.  I went back to my search and plussed the word “recipe”.

The first recipe I came across was from Campbell Soup Company and I quickly nixed that puppy.  I want real food not processed GMO crap, salt and chemicals, please!

I went to the next recipe but it was from something like and I went to the next and the next until I found a site I hadn’t heard of before called Recipe Lion.  I clicked that and truly fell in love with ccc.    I read another recipe at a different site and it added lime to the previous recipe.  The recipe calls for chicken, onion, pineapple, salsa, cilantro, freshly grated ginger root, lime and a couple of other things I don’t recall right now.  I’m making this for dinner tonight.

BTW have you noticed how many pop up things are going on with the internet right now and they are hiding the close button.  I got scammed into upgrading to Windows 10 because they made the little “x” at the top right an “okay” button.  I’m getting pretty fed up with these shenanigans, how about you?  I guess we will have to quit taking for granted and read this stuff.

Back to the ccc…I have half a pineapple in the fridge, new little cilantro growing in the herb garden, half jar of Pace Picante Sauce, and a lime in the fruit basket.  I do have to run into Durand and hope they have a fresh knob of ginger as I used all of mine this week making stir fry.

If you haven’t tried fresh ginger, you really should.  It is so much different from that grated stuff in the jar.  Just peel the knob and put it in an airtight container in your freezer.  Whenever you need some ginger just get out your micro plane grater and add some life to your recipe.  (BTW, meatloaf is really, really good when you add fresh grated ginger and green peppers.)

I thawed three boneless chicken breasts and gathered up the stuff for my dinner of Cha Cha Chicken.   Durand had ginger knobs and I was so relieved.  I chopped up a tablespoon of it.  The little cilantro plants in the garden were barely enough to do the recipe but I am sure after I fertilize tomorrow with fish emulsion, they will perk right up.

I made my rice and put my chicken together.  When the rice was cooked I put the chicken into the oven.  In about 15 minutes the aroma hit the room.  The hubster walked over to the oven and opened it.  “It smells pretty good,” he exclaimed.

Silly me, I forgot to take pictures of my lovely plated ccc but the hubster remembered and I took a photo of the bowl of ccc, my sort of eaten plate of ccc and then a really bad photo of his lovely plated plate.  Oh well.  It is a good recipe and I highly recommend it.

PS  I did add lime juice to the recipe as I feel most any recipe or dish is enhanced with a little citrus.  See I told you it was a really bad picture.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

I had an extremely satisfying yoga session this morning.  I woke up at about 2:30 which was okay since I went to bed around 8:30 last night.  Saturday night on a long holiday weekend and I was asleep by 9:00.  Such is the life of a retired lady.

The air conditioning is on in the house but the upstairs stays pretty warm.  I just close all of the upstairs doors and the downstairs is comfy cool.  The yoga room was probably a good 75 degrees or more and by the time I got to the Sun Salutation I had a pretty good sweat going.  I found my hair clip and got my bangs out of my way (Note to self:  it is time for a haircut.)

I was really into my plank and downward dog and held them for longer than usual.  I count to twenty and then just take long breaths as long as I can hold it.  I concentrate on a bit of thread on the carpet to keep my attention fixed.  I also sew in this room and that is why there is a loose thread to keep my attention focused.

I don’t do a lot of one foot balancing poses because I have this horrific bunion on my left foot, and the right foot that had bunion surgery has a neuroma that I have had removed twice and I think it is growing again.  I have had the thought of shooting my foot with a shotgun and getting over this bad foot thing but with karma as it is, I think I am better off just getting past the discomfort of my stupid right foot.

During my shoulder stand I realized that it is hard to breathe correctly.  I got into my plough and since I haven’t been practicing very much lately, due to a lazy streak the size of Texas, I reached back to see if I could still grab my toes.  Sure enough I could but I really couldn’t breathe in that position.  I slowly let my legs drop to the floor and grabbed a couple of liter sized gulps of oxygen.

Then I was off to legs up the wall but in my case it is legs up the closet door since I don’t have a spare wall in the yoga room.  I reiterated my positive thoughts and my mind drifted off.

I recently met an artist who draws cows.  I gave her a copy of my children’s book The Cow Who ate a Hippopotamus.  She likes the story and is going to draw one drawing to show as an example of what we could do with the story.  I now have to find an agent who is interested in publishing my book.

Back to yoga and I was feeling pretty mellow.  I grabbed my sit-upon and my beads and sat down to Zazen.  I read this book about meditation recently and decided I liked the idea of prayer beads.  I sit and contemplate about 40 breaths and then I pick up the beads.  I say words like, serenity, peace, peace on Earth, power, self-confidence, positive, and contentment.  I then think of my friends and family and wish them health and serenity.  I repeat my words over and over again and then drop the beads and go back to counting my breath.

(Oh and by the way, my prayer beads are those cheap “show us your tits” kind of beads.)  If I get into this perhaps I will buy myself a real strand of prayer beads.  They say there is one kind made out of cedar and you can smell the cedar as you meditate.  (I just typed medicate and had to correct the word.)  Freudian slip typo?

I was up and into my Qi Gong.  If you don’t know Qi Gong is all about breathing.  You do certain movements with the breathing but it is mainly about the breath.  I do a Lotus which is raising your arms to the heavens while inhaling and then exhaling as you fold the lotus into the night.

The next movement I call lifting globes into the great unknown.  This is my favorite position and the one I truly use all of my breath as it should be used.  You lift your globes in front of you and open them to the sky while inhaling, then you bring the globes back to yourself and to the horizon.  It is quite the lovely dance and I really should make a video of it to share.  I get right into the zone of the thing.

My next movement on the other hand is not my favorite.  I call it Arc of the Diver because in the second half of the thing you have to make a leap into the floor, chest first.  Actually, you are just bending at the waist.  I don’t get the breathing of this exercise and only do a few of these.

The next exercise is another of my favorites.  I call it pendulum and you hold your hands above your head as you exhale and lean to the right.  Then begin moving back to over your head and breath in.  Back and forth and back and forth and this really gives not only your lungs a workout but also your waist.  I find I do this exercise during the day when my back is feeling tight.

Next exercise I call the dragon.  You center yourself and cradle a globe.  Breathe in and then you exhale and push the globe to the right and away from and across your body.  Breathing back in you pull the globe back to your center and reverse this and go to the left side.  I love this movement but it does not love me.  I tend to keep leaning too far into myself and need to keep reminding myself to straighten up.  At this point I lose count of where I am in this exercise and just do one more.  You are supposed to do nine of each exercise but I invariable lose track of what number I am on.

The last exercise I call the Archer.  You inhale and lift your arms and sweep them very slowly across the sky.  Then you exhale while pulling back your bow arm and loosen your arrow.  I cannot say how lovely this movement makes me feel.  I feel like Katniss Everdean in Hunger Games.  I lose myself terribly in this exercise also but I am at peace and don’t really care if I have done it forty-six times or not.

My body feels pretty good this morning.  My lungs feel pretty clear and I have just finished my breakfast of a grapefruit, (I covered my keyboard this time) smoked turkey, cheddar cheese, Mrs. Fisher’s potato chips and some mustard.

Life is good!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Distinctive Gardens

Yesterday I went to Forreston and met my Master Gardeners’ Book Club members and we went to Dixon.  I was listening to Jethro Tull’s Benefit album on the way and arrived singing at the top if my lungs.

We first ate at Touch of Thai on First Street.  I had Panang Curry and it was one of the best things I have ever eaten.  I shared a bite of the sauce with my fellow bookworms and they all liked it too.  We discussed what kind of herbs and spices were used in Thai cooking.  (Note to self:  look this up.)

We then travelled to Distinctive Gardens after battling with a GPS system that kept hanging up on us.  (I don’t have one of these things and I really don’t want one.  I will continue to get lost and call for help on my phone, thank you very much.)

The garden is very beautiful but not as big as I had pictured it.  They specialize in rare plants.  I had my list in my pocket of the plants that I was looking for.  My search for list included:  mugwort, dittany of Crete, Zinnia linearis and torenia.  I found the torenia but it was not the purple flower that I had hoped for.  I will have to search for the other plants on the internet, I guess.

I do have a package of the Zinnia seeds but they didn’t come up and I must plant them again and take special care of them.  Perhaps I should do this inside by the kitchen sink so I can check on them every moment of the day and night.

The plants on my purchase list included:  Jethro Tull Tickseed Coreopsis (I felt I was destined to purchase it since I had been singing Tull for the past hour), Catalina Pink Torenia, Heuchera x villesa Carnival Limeade Coral Bells, and a Black and Blue Salvia.  The girl at the register warned me that the salvia had aphids and pointed one out that I smashed between my fingers.  I sprayed them all with alcohol water when I got home.

The coreopsis will go out in my flower bed in front of my garden which is a combination of yellow and orange flowers with a bit of pink here and there.  The others will go out into my Fairy Garden which is mostly in shade and has purple and white flowers and lime green plants, here and there.  I will take photos when they are in full bloom.

The garden surrounding the nursery had many lovely displays.  There was a Volkswagon in one bed.  There was a fairy garden on a table.  I loved the brick wall they had created out of a variety of old and used bricks.  In the ceiling of one of their pavilions were white Chinese lanterns and lots of twigs painted white and it was quite lovely.  On the top of one of their little trees a dove had made a nest and ignored all of us coming over and staring.

If you haven’t made the trip to Forreston, you really should go.  It is a lovely drive through Illinois countryside and the villages along the way are quaint and charming.  Do try the Thai.  It still baffles me that in the middle of flat land Illinois there is a Thai restaurant.  It was pretty busy for a Wednesday also.

Oscar’s Garden Fair

On Friday I gave my herb presentation at Oscar’s Garden Fair in Freeport, Il.  The Historical Society’s garden is quite lovely.  A beautiful old home surrounded by gardens of all kinds.  I actually volunteered to help the lady in charge of the herb garden to help her clean it up and get it ready for the growing season.  I’m excited about that.

My presentation was given to only seven attendees.  I was anxious about it because I had no audio visual aids except my herbs that I had cut yesterday.  I took a few herb books to put on display.

I only faltered once or twice but just took a deep breath and continued where I was in my notes.  My talk lasted about twenty minutes.  I had questions and comments from the audience and felt quite comfortable with the group.  I think I talked a few into trying to grow herbs and my recipes.

I walked through the grounds with an old friend, Margaret, who was my daughters’ teacher in elementary school.  She pointed out the butterfly garden that she had helped plant several years before.  Then she showed me where the herb garden was located.  It was badly in need of weeding and tending.  That’s when I decided to try to volunteer to help out with it.

I perused the vendor booths and found the loveliest fairy stepping stone for my fairy garden.  It was a steal for only $3.00.  I purchased an Abraham Lincoln tomato plant and some basket of gold or gold alyssum for my garden on the hill.  I had seen it growing over a block wall behind the house and thought it would be perfect to grow on my hill.

I had a nice chat with some of my Master Gardening friends and decided I was hungry.  I went into Freeport and ate some French Onion soup at the “This is It CafĂ©” downtown.  If you haven’t tried it, you should.

Another splendid day in the life of Smother.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I had told myself that I would write a blog about my mother for Mothers’ Day.  I didn’t.  So now I have to make up for it.

My mother was one of the most loving, caring people on Earth.  But she didn’t take care of herself.  That is one lesson she taught me.  Take care of you first and then others.  My mom never had nice clothes or shoes.  She had the worst feet I’ve ever encountered.  We Libra girls in this family all have really bad feet.  My grandma lost one of her feet the week before she died.  My mom had callouses an inch thick and she got an ulcer on one of them that took a whole year to heal up.

She took care of others and ignored herself.  She was overweight but fed anyone who came near the house.  We all had nice Easter and Christmas outfits but she wore the plain dresses that she always wore.  I bought her an expensive suit once and she looked so lovely.  We had to take one of the shoulder pads out and put it on the other side to make her look straight.  I wish I still had a photo of her in that suit.

My mom could also say the funniest things in the world without knowing it.  Once when my friend, George, was visiting and probably eating, we were discussing my going out with him that evening.  I told him I didn’t have anything to wear.  My mom asked George, “George, have you ever seen Wilma naked?”

I thought George would die.  He turned so red in the face.  I think I did go out with him but only once.  He was funny and a joy to be with but not my type romantically.

Mother loved to sew and she made me a white skirt and was so very proud of it.  Being the worse tomboy in the world, I slid into home the first time I wore it and ruined it completely.  I apologized to my mom after I had my own children and they destroyed their brand new clothes.

My mom learned to drive a car at the same time that my brother did.  For some out of the blue reason she wanted to get her driver’s license.  I believe she failed a couple of times because she got so “nervous” with the teacher in the passenger seat.  She did eventually get her license.

Another time in my life I had to put my beloved dog to sleep.  I had the worst week of my life.  And with two babies I was losing it fast.  My mother took me aside and told me, “You made your decision about the dog.  He is gone but your children are here and they need you.  Just don’t think about it.  Think about them.”

I dreamed about that dog for thirty years until I got another dog.  Now of I dream of them both.

I was overwhelmed by the crowd at my mother’s funeral and visitation.  People I hadn’t seen in years came up to me to tell me how much they loved my mom.

In her next life, I hope she is a princess because she deserves it.

This is a poem I wrote for my mother.

Pretty Arms
"You have pretty arms," she told me once.
She had always been overweight, so her arms were not.
There was strength in her arms and in her soul.
I was a gardener.  Hoeing and shoveling make your arms pretty.
Sunshine -- a little tan doesn't hurt, does it?
Melanoma on that pretty arm.

She is gone now.
I remember the last time these pretty arms held her.
She cried because I was leaving and going far away back to my home.
I was crying because for the first time in my life, I saw her as OLD.
My pretty arms did not want to let go.
But they had to.
And now it is over and these pretty arms will never hold her again.