Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

I still have about six hours until it is 2012 here but I thought I would drop by to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year!  2011 had it’s moments, but overall I look at it for the positives: I made significant steps towards being who I want to be, I wrote more than a few sentences for the first time in years, my relationships with many people became stronger and I can’t wait to hang out with everyone more, and I finished my AA!

For 2012, I have set a few guidelines for myself.  I want to be less shy, I want to have the courage to say hi to people and let them know I would like to get to know them and not worry about the social significance of it all.  I want to keep on moving towards having a healthier lifestyle with better food and more activity, if I loose some more pounds-great, but not necessary.  I will write (and blog).  I want to always have a book that I am reading on my nightstand.  I want to experience more, rather than get more.  I know, I’m so boring-but really those are the only things I know I will not compromise on in the coming year.

Take care everyone, talk to you in the New Year!

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Chipotle Pepper and Chicken Soup

This recipe was requested of me, but to be honest I have not mastered it yet so please procede at your own risk.  Last night I made this and I wasn’t able to make a dent in it because it was too spicy for my Northern European taste buds. It was very tasty but the heat gets to you and makes it difficult to eat.  To be honest I did use more chipotle peppers than specified and a few spoonfuls of the adobo sauce, because I notice the recipes in this book tend to be bland.  Next time I will make the recipe by the book.

Photo courtesy of Octana

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped onion (large)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp live oil or cooking oil

12oz skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces

1 14oz can chicken broth

2 tsp chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 cps chopped tomatoes (2 large) or one 14.5 oz can low-sodium dices tomatoes, undrained

1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro

Directions:

1. In a dutch oven cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat about 4 minutes or until tender.

2. Add chicken: cook and stir for 2 minutes more.  Stir in broth, chipotle peppers, sugar, & salt.

3. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to a simmer, leaved uncovered for 15 minutes.

4. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes and cilantro.

I serve this with a side of cut up cucumber, to temper the heat (or at least to attempt to reduce the heat).

 

Enjoy!

Converting

“We are what we pretend to be so we must be careful what we pretend to be”

During the semester I had commitment issues to books.  For my “free” reading I had this bad habit of choosing a novel, being excited for it, and then casting it aside to start another.  I chose usually thick, highly regarded, and somewhat depressing subject matter.  That could have been my problem, or it could have been the idea that popped in my head that I was cheating on my textbooks when I read these “for fun” books.

In the last week I have finished two smallish books, Mother Night and Storm Front from the Harry Dresden series.  Mother Night was not as depressing as I thought it would be.  This could be because of my history heavy semester that made me numb or Kurt Vonnegut’s approach in style.  So it goes.  It did have some interesting morals which are stated at the beginning of the book, one of them is the quote I put above.  I think most of us in all areas of life pretend to varying levels of something we are not.

On a lighter book choice I decided to finally read a Harry Dresden book, it was good fun and a welcome break from history books/ historical novels.  Now I understand Red’s comment about me being a warlock, I have issues with electronics, a 30+ lb cat, and I like to have skulls around me.  Once again I think it was the approach of the author that made the story what is.  Because really when you think about it there is blood, death, the occult, orgies, possession, and monsters in the story; but Butcher’s humor in it made me laugh, not scream.

Both of these I read on Honey’s Kindle. I attempted once before to read on a Kindle and to be honest I didn’t enjoy it.  I felt like I was still connected to the world, instead of escaping into the novel I was reading.  I had that issue again when I read the last two, but it wasn’t as predominant.  I wonder if you just get use to it after a while…  I liked not having to hold open a book while battling for lap space from Bailey, it is also convenient when you do read a thick book that keeps trying to shut itself when you’re in the middle of it.  Also I think the challenge of seeing the percentage of completeness propelled me more to finish the stories.  I’ll read to 40% and then go to bed, okay maybe 50%, and before I knew it I was heading into the homestretch of the end of the book.  I like devouring books last week, it made my brain function on a lighter and more precise manor. I need to do that more often.

With that being said, I think I am converting to being a Kindle reader. Please don’t judge me, I know I have betrayed the paper enthusiasts.  Though the non-tangible nature does have some humorous hiccups, one afternoon I searched the house for ten minutes trying to find my book.  My brain did not associate the Kindle as containing the book I was reading, but rather the book I read before…Hmm, so much for that “thinking in a more precise manor” theory, I better go read another book.

Grades Are In

For the first time ever, I got straight A’s.

That is two A’s in PE (also a first) and two A’s in my history classes.  To be honest I thought I was going to get two A’s and two B’s. Since now my grades are posted I feel like I can open up a bit about my experience in these classes. I hesitated about posting about it during the semester because of some paranoid delusion that somehow my teachers would find this thing-I’m odd, you should have realized that by now.

One of the classes that I though I would get a B in was my Step class, half of my final grade was based off of absences. Up to two absences put you in the A range…I was absent three times.  Once was the time after I twisted my ankle doing the mile and a half in the other PE class, once was on Halloween because I wanted to pass out candy to the neighborhood kids, and once was the day before Thanksgiving.  The last absence has a story.  I did show up for the class, I had every intention of working out that day and burning some calories before I gorged myself on some turkey goodness-but I had occasion to leave.  When I walked into the gym and found my teacher setting up an obstacle course (something she had never done before) I began to worry.  She walked around to the twelve stations and explained we must do each exercise for two minutes straight (things like plank, jumping rope, pull-up etc) and then do a lap around the gym in between each exercise, I said to myslef… HELL no.

And this is why….

First I thought of the practicality, I knew these exercises were going to make me sore-I couldn’t be sore like that while we cooked for Thanksgiving.  Then I thought of the betrayal, we were being “punished” (in a way) for showing up to class.  My other teachers that day had light schedules and had even let us leave class early so we could get home to our families.  That particular class was made up of 40 women, and one man-most of us were over 20, a lot of the class was middle-aged.  The teacher was weakening the chefs of Thanksgiving!  I had really wanted to work out that day, I felt tricked.  Also something the teacher had said the previous class popped in my mind: she usually called in “sick” the day before Thanksgiving, but she was out of sick days so she couldn’t.  I realized with having an obstacle course she did not have to work out.  I quietly walked out of the class, I didn’t make scene I just left.  I ended up ditching the other PE class too (it was immediately following the Step class) because I was worried what she had in store for us too.  I found out later she gave a particularly rough class of circuit training.  I went home pissed and expecting to get some crap from John about ditching, but I didn’t.  He said he was proud of me for saying no and listening to what I wanted, which was a happy painless Thanksgiving.  And somehow I still got an A.

In my other PE class, which was more running and weight lifting, I achieved an A by my progress and willingness to do homework.  That’s right, we had homework in PE class.  Every week we had to do a third day of exercise and log it. Between that and the paper I had to write in the other PE class, there were about two weeks where I felt like I was writing down everything I ate and did.   Also every couple of weeks she would post a 20 question assignment that would take around 20-30 minutes to complete.  No big deal, but it always seem to be due the same day as my history papers.  To be honest I dreaded taking this class, and there were days where I just didn’t feel up to it, but the teacher was wonderful.  She was understanding and supportive and didn’t treat you like a 2nd class citizen for not being in shape.  I did make some progress in her class.  I dropped 3 minutes off of our timed mile and a half run and all of the weights I could lift, doubled by the end of the semester (like now I can press 103lbs with my legs-pretty cool, huh?).  Though I will not miss running in the 40 degree night air, I will miss the endorphin rush I got from that class.

Now onto the History classes.  Early Western Civ was better than I thought it would be.  I learned a lot more than I planned and it wasn’t all boring, in fact it gave me an interesting prospective on religion (not God, religion).  The only thing I didn’t like about the class was my teacher’s inconsistencies.  For example she change the test format on the second test without telling us and in some papers she would look more heavily at some aspects and then ignored them in the next paper.  I had to use a different citation style than I have before and I would occasionally ask her questions. I would write the papers under what she said to do, and then she would knock off points because she said it wasn’t right when I followed her instructions.  Ah well, I got an A and learned something I feel good about it.

My  American History class was different than I expected.  I unfortunately don’t feel like I learned as much as I wanted to.  I think the condition of state school system was most apparent in that class.  For most of the semester I didn’t know what my grade was.  I wrote two papers for that class and never saw them again, two days before the final I saw my scores on them.  The class was filled with a bunch of rude, just out of high school Republicans compared to the cultured, middle-aged Democrat teacher.  I think when the teacher discovered he could not have the type of intellectual debate between the students that he wanted, he took less interest in us.  There was this one guy in the class that drove me nuts (and the teacher too I think).  He was parroting what he heard on FoxNews and when someone (teacher or student) would ask him to explore it a little further he would shut down and call the occupiers lazy idiots who just wanted a handout.  I felt particular pleasure when he attempted a bigoted joke about Canada and then messed it up because he couldn’t spell Canada! After that he shut up a little more in class. Every so often I would speak up in class as a counter to that particular student, but only if I was truly brave.  The guy scared me a little physically (he was very tall and a fitness trainer), he sat right next to me (joy), he could barely fit in the desk, and stepped on my backpack every couple of days.  When I moved a few seats away I got a little more gutsy in raising my hand.

Anyway, it’s done.  I’m glad I stuck with it and earned my first ever 4.0 GPA for a semester.

Emerging from Under the Pile of Non-Refundable History Textbooks

And I’m back.

Finals ended for me yesterday and it is my hope that a good portion of my sanity will return to me before the weekend starts, but we shall see.  I put a lot of effort into the last few weeks of class so I could maintain my unusually good grades.  In some classes the last test was around 30% of my grade, to me this seems a bit much-but maybe that’s why school and I never got along.  My grades are required to be in by next Tuesday, but that hasn’t stopped me from obsessively checking the board online.

In other news, Christmas is upon us.  A few weeks back John and I offered to host a Christmas Eve potluck for our families (well his mom and my 12 local relatives).  During finals I really tried not to think about so I could just focus on school, but now I have no excuse-I have to think about it.  I am going to have around 15 people at our house in 9 days….Thank Gods it’s Potlock. I will admit I have let the cleanliness of the house slack a little bit for the last few weeks, nothing gross just not nearly as tidy as I would like.  Also the yard is insisting on some attention.  We got a little bit of rain in the last few few weeks and it makes all of my heat-stroked weeds make astounding comebacks.  On the plus sign the lower yard now has the appearance of having a green lawn (but really it is just cut weeds).  Tomorrow my war begins with the weeds.

It has also been consistently cold here in San Diego, relatively tame to the rest of the world-lows in the 30s and 40s, but to us SoCal wimps it feels like a frost giant has us in a bear hug.  While studying I was getting too cold form being stationary (and still having an unusable heater) so I would grab both animals and the space heater and retreat to my office.  It brought on a slight truce between Bailey and Kate, but there are still acts of dominance.  Bailey also started a new thing, he jumps up on my lap when I am at the computer.  Bailey is a sweet cat but he has not been much of a lap cat away from the couch and a comfy blanket.  He is also still a 25+lb cat, so the fact he insists on cuddling on my lap and staying there for more than 30 minutes, indicates to me that the house is colder than usual.  Either that or he is just that needy now, which going by the yowls that I hear from the yard when I just go to water is completely possible.

But now it’s time for bed, nighty-night all.

Talk to you soon.