You Know I like My Chicken Fried

We’ve decided to buy a full refrigerator, or a freezer-less refrigerator if you like that better. Our not-quite-full-size one can no longer handle the amount of produce we’re buying. I’d show you but it’s way out there and I’m way in here, and you really should have asked before I sat down. You’ll just have to trust me. As a kid, I abhorred folding and putting away my clothes. So I’d shove them into any drawer that wasn’t clogged, making it so when you pulled the drawer out later, clothes would spring up like a jack-in-the-box. That’s almost how our fridge is at the moment. We have reached maximum capacity.

Actually, that point has come and gone.

On top of needing more space for the produce, we also need room to prepare things for the week. Surprisingly, though we eat far less food, I spend way more time in the kitchen. Making breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, using almost exclusively whole foods, takes a lot of time and effort. I find myself wanting to reach for a bag of cookies rather than spend forty minutes making something for myself. I’ve started spending a couple days preparing easy to grab items to help alleviate some of the work, things like yogurt parfaits, fruit cups, chicken salad for sandwiches and salads, mason jars full of carrots and celery sticks, etc. It’s been extremely helpful and cluttering. Our already maxed refridge went bulgy.

There has even been talk of getting rid of condiments, and I just cannot allow that to happen. Bubbie’s Bread & Butter Chips have to stay, and there’s no way I’m getting rid of the Golden Mountain Sauce. I want to be healthier, but there are limits.

Note: The rooster here is Bento. He doesn’t know that’s his name. No one does. He wouldn’t understand even if I told him. He responds only to morning light, afternoon wind, grasshoppers, his harem, thirty second intervals, leaves, someone talking about cheesecake, trucks, pebbles clanging together, and the letter five. Don’t worry about him, he’s not going in the fridge.

Title From:
Chicken Fried
by Zac Brown Band

Sunshine Beating on the Good Times

It was early May when I first noticed a scrawny grey cat hobbling around with an injured back leg. He could barely make his way across the yard, each step clearly causing him a lot of pain. There was no way he’d be able to escape if one of the neighboring ranch’s dogs went after him, and they’ve killed a number of their own cats, or if a coyote or wolf caught sight of him. So, I did what anyone who’s me would do; I suggested we trap him. Brian bought a raccoon trap, we baited it with a couple cans of wet cat food, and we waited. That evening it started to hail. We checked the trap on the off chance something may have been tempted by the food and found it had tripped. Assuming the hail had set it off, Brian went out to set it back up, only to find the injured cat fearfully crouching in the corner. There are a lot of cats here. Muggabee hasn’t been back for nearly a year, and although I saw him yesterday, Foosball is a rare sight since we put the pasture fence up, but there is still a gang-load of them. So it was a surprise to have caught the correct animal on the first go.

May was cold. Leaving him out there, unable to get to shelter, would have been cruel. We don’t have the room or the setup for a cat, but we had to bring him inside. The only place for him was the bathtub. He spent a few hours in the cage, in the tub, with his cans of cat food and a night light, as Brian drove to Wal-Mart to buy a giant dog crate, cat bed, litter box, and litter. The next morning he took him to one of the vets in town where we took Wicket when she broke her foot into forty-seven pieces, or so you’d have thought based on her cries (nothing was wrong with her other than she’s a tiny humongous baby), where he could be dropped off and picked up before and after work. It turns out, thankfully, his leg was okay. He had infected puncture wounds though, so something had gotten ahold of him. He was given some antibiotics, a rabies shot, his wounds were cleaned, and he was returned to us to be set free into the wild yet again.

We didn’t think it would make sense to release him while his leg was still obviously hindering his ability to get away from predators. For a few days, he lived in the dog crate on our front porch. It was covered with a heavy drop cloth to block the outrageous winds we have here, and a tarp to keep the rain off the drop cloth. However, we couldn’t keep him in such a confined space for a long period of time. So, we set up one of the tents we used in the summer of 2014, set his cage in the tent, and opened the door. He had a bit more freedom but was still safe from wandering teeth. He stayed there for about thirty minutes. I went out to check on him and found he’d ripped a clean cut right where the flooring met the wall. Well, at least we tried.

He disappeared for a bit, but it was only a few weeks later when I saw who I thought was him walking not too shabbily across the field. It wasn’t long after that when I saw him coming toward the back porch where I keep the cat raccoon magpie squirrel dog animal food. Naturally, I ran out flailing my arms, stomping my feet as though my life depended on trampling every speck of dirt between my clompy shoes and the porch boards, screaming maniacally about puffins while shaking a can full of pennies, which caused him to run a little. Not a lot of a little, just a little. I guess he was hungry enough to withstand my very menacing presence. He returned the next day and the day after that. He let me pet him as he ate within a handful of days.

He’s calling himself Nickajack, or Jack for short. Hopefully, he sticks around. It’s been a little empty out there without Pickwick and Muggabee.

Title From:
Sleeping On The Blacktop
by Colter Wall

Yes, We Have No Bananas

Note 1: This is not a sponsored or affiliate post.

Note 2: There will be a lot of links, follow them if you wish, don’t if you’d rather not. You have the power here.

Note 3: This is another iPhone picture. I haven’t touched my actual camera in forty years.

Note 4: Nothing in said photo is from Thrive, but I’m using it because it’s food, and who’s going to stop me?

We have joined Thrive Market.

Sure, it’s just a place to do grocery shopping, but you don’t have to leave your house, which I find especially nice, and almost everything is cheaper than retail, even compared to our local store, which has pretty good deals. I was hesitant to join them at first because I worried about fragile items arriving broken, which may still be an issue in winter, though it would be no fault of Thrive’s. I ordered a couple bottles (glass) of lotion from Bath & Body Works a few years ago, and they had exploded from freezing before they got to us. Nevermind, we’ll cross that bridge later. The bottles of vinaigrettes we ordered came so well wrapped there will never be a concern of anything being damaged from shipping. Not only did they wrap everything very well, they put all the liquid-filled items into their own baggies and taped shut anything that had the potential to open, such as the Bragg Nutritional Yeast, Soap for Men – Cedar & Citrus, and the Alaffia Coconut & Neem Face Wash. Almost all of their packaging is made from recycled material, sans plastic bags for leak-likely items, so that’s a bonus too.

On top of finding one more way to avoid leaving home, offering a huge variety of healthy goods, and packaging things like I’d package them myself, they offer a free membership to a low-income family with every subscription membership ($59.95 annually) sold. Their prices make buying healthier items a lot more affordable even if you aren’t one of the families to receive a free membership. With our first order, we saved $53.51 and with our second order, another $73.06. That’s a savings of $126.57. Even subtracting the 2 of 3 initial $20 discounts, we’ve saved $26.62 over the cost of the subscription. That’s not only a deal on items, it’s a savings of time we didn’t have to spend at the grocery store.

Note 5: The following code doesn’t benefit me in any way. I’m just being helpful, gosh.

If you’d like to try Thrive Market yourself, you can use the code BD20X3 for a free 30-day trial and $20 off your first three orders. Plus, everyone gets free shipping on orders over $49, which is really easy to reach since they have so many interesting items. I mean, right now I have 20+ things in my cart, ranging from Grandpa Soap Co. Pine Tar Bar Soap and Yogi Skin Detox tea to Maine Coast Sea Vegetables – Dulse and Upton’s Naturals Chili Lime Jackfruit Carnitas.

I’m now addicted to shopping for groceries, and I don’t have to wait in line, touch any germ-laden carts, or hear the pleasant sound of the screaming child who seems to be in every single store. Give it a try, if you want. You’ll like it. I don’t know you or what you like, but I can say that because that’s what people say.

Note 6: The salad pictured was made with organic girl SUPERGREENS!, strawberries, hemp hearts, chopped pecans, and a balsamic vinaigrette I threw together and can’t remember, so I’ll never be able to recreate it, as usual. It had balsamic vinegar, olive oil, some sort of mustard…I want to say dijon, a little honey, and black pepper. There were probably other things as well. Who knows? You’d think I would, but alas…

Title From:
Yes, We Have No Bananas
by Pee Wee Hunt

I Am the Color of Boom

A few weeks ago we bought a new picnic table. I started staining it the following weekend; I managed to get through all the legs and supports before I had to stop and let everything dry. We haven’t had many consecutive days without rain since, for which I am thankful. The grass has been soft and green, the wind is one of my favorite weathers, and who doesn’t like the pattering of rain on a metal roof? However, it’s made for some difficulty when it comes to staining. We don’t have a covered area for working on things, so I was stuck on a tiny tarp in the back yard, at the mercy of an unpredictable Montana spring. This week, for the moment, promises to be one of much grass-killing sunshine, which is plenty of time for everything to dry nicely, so today I spent about four hours in the blazing sun getting the benches and tabletop finished.

I have burned easily all my life. I once spent an entire summer in the shade of a huge pine tree because a doctor said I was allergic to the sun. Apparently, I was only seasonally allergic because I was able to walk to the bus stop and go out for recess just fine when the new school year started. It must have done the trick, I suppose, since I’ve never been allergic again. Nevertheless, I burn when the sun suggests it might be shining on something that’s next to something that’s possibly able to reflect an iota of sunlight onto my skin.

Around the time of last year’s eclipse, I saw someone ask if a picture of the event could hurt their eyes. If a picture of the sun could hurt someone, I would be that someone. Naturally, being “allergic” to the sun, the best thing to do is spend hours outside without sunblock while standing directly to the left of the shade offered by a beautiful blooming black locust tree.

I was wearing a long-sleeve Carhartt shirt, which is one of the most comfortable shirts I’ve ever owned, and a pair of lovely pink latex-free disposable gloves. Not wanting to get the sleeves stained with the stain I was using to stain, I had them pushed/rolled up to a 3/4 sleeve length. Now, if you close your eyes, you won’t be able to read what I’m telling you to picture, so don’t do that. With your eyes open, imagine the fashionable gloves and the 3/4 sleeve Carhartt shirt, and imagine the gap of skin between those two items. That’s where my very obvious burn is located. Fan. Tastic. Oh well. There’s nothing to be done about it now. At least the table is finished, and we can finally start enjoying some outdoor dinners with the bumble bees and horse poop.

Title From:
Polaroid
by Imagine Dragons

A Chocolate Eclair About as Big as Your Head

At the beginning of this year, after spending nearly all of 2017 immobilized, I tore off my cumbrous fracture boot, went back to normal footwear, and vowed to kick off our plan to eat healthier and workout more, which had been delayed because my body broke mid-March of last year. My foot was still damaged, but when I put the boot on one morning and saw a spider scurry across the top of my foot, that was the end of that. I am not scared of spiders, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy them crawling on me.

After months of wearing a boot that completely restricts foot and ankle movements, I found walking difficult. I wasn’t able to properly bend my foot, so my gait was stiff and flat. I encountered the same issue a few weeks later when I attempted to use the elliptical. Without my foot bending, I couldn’t properly cycle through the motions. Afraid of potentially hurting yet another part of my body, I decided to wait on exercising. However, nothing was stopping me from changing my diet.

We had, prior to my injuries, always eaten fairly well. We didn’t consume many highly-processed foods, we made a lot of our own things, and we only had takeout once a week. After my legs were hurt, that all changed. Brian was responsible for everything and with work, shopping, the dogs, and cleaning up around the house, he didn’t really have time to make dinner as well. There was a lot of bad food consumed, which my body began to reject. For instance, I can no longer tolerate the smell of fries; actually, I cannot consume any significant amount of potatoes at all. Other than chicken and seafood, I couldn’t stomach a lot of meat; in fact, even the word or a picture of bacon made me queasy for a long time.

There’s really no other motivational kick in the pants like involuntarily vomiting your dinners. That’s where my focus has been. Not only have we switched back to healthy foods, we’ve increased our fruit and raw vegetable intake, reduced the number of cooked meals, and significantly reduced our portion sizes. I keep meaning to do a “What I Eat in a Day” post, but I’m constantly forgetting to photograph my food. Sore-ee. In the spirit of that though, here’s a written version of an average day.

Note: Links included here are not sponsored products or even affiliate links, I’m simply sharing in case you’d like to look them up or try something specific yourself. Items that aren’t linked are likely local bulk items or items that don’t have an obvious brand, such as cantaloupes or grapes.

Breakfast: …is often Cascadian Farm Organic cereal (my favorite is Ancient Grains Granola) or Kashi’s Whole Wheat Biscuits in Organic Autumn Wheat. There is also a banana and/or strawberries and/or blueberries and/or whatever other fruit I feel like grabbing. There are times when it’s just fruit as well.

Lunch: …is usually a yogurt bowl: Noosa (my favorites are honey, coconut, and lemon), Wallaby (in Vanilla Bean) or, recently, Smári (no particular favorite just yet), with more fruit, sometimes fresh, sometimes dried, sometimes both, the type varies depending on the flavor of yogurt, and Back to Nature granola in Classic. One of my favorite combinations recently has been lemon Noosa, sunflower seeds, dried blueberries, and granola. If I’m not in the mood for yogurt, I will sometimes have fresh fruit and a piece of Franz bread, though I love Rudi’s too, it’s just not available around here anymore, topped with a smear of Dubliner cheese and Crofter’s fruit spread (currently on hand: Superfruit and Seedless Raspberry).

Dinner: …will vary. Regardless of whatever we’re having, salad usually accompanies the main dish. If we’re eating on a plate, about half the plate will be covered with a salad, leaving very little room for whatever else is being served, helping to keep the portion sizes of anything “bad” to a minimum. An example of a dinner item would be smoked fish, grilled chicken (thighs), zucchini lasagna, tofu curry, or crawfish/alligator/shrimp jambalaya (on the menu for this week, actually). Our salads also vary. Our go-tos are organic girl baby spring mix with Farm Hand Organic Simply Beets, pecans, sunflower seeds, Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts, and a parmesan vinaigrette whose brand escapes me, or a more standard salad of organic girl romaine heart leaves with English cucumbers, sweet peppers, baby heirloom tomatoes, spicy alfalfa-radish sprouts, sugar snap peas, and naturSource Organic Salad Topper Smart Life, topped with whatever dressing is in the refrigerator. We’ve also started making our own dressing using tahini, coconut aminos, garlic powder, black pepper, honey, and ginger, which is fantastic.

These are not rigid menu plans. I can’t stand eating the same thing over and over again, but it gives you a basic idea.

Soon after buying the Vitamix, our smoothie consumption skyrocketed, though you’ll notice there wasn’t one listed in my average day. While I still enjoy a smoothie once every three months or so, I find I prefer distinct flavors rather than amalgamations. I also pointed out, back when we first started making smoothies, that I liked mine a little on the runnier side. With that in mind, I’ve been toying with the idea of a juicer. While it would still often be a combination of ingredients, I wouldn’t be stuffing powders (spirulina, carob, wheatgrass, barley grass, etc.) into the concrete-esque mixture. I’m especially interested in recreating some of the Kauai Juice Co. flavors, specifically the Mintacolada, which I’ve made using the Vitamix, but not by proper cold-pressed means.

Abrupt ending? Check.

The crummy iPhone picture up there was tonight’s dinner: NUCO coconut wraps, grilled chicken (definitely could have used more), Thai Kitchen red curry paste, carrots, sweet peppers, white onions, and English cucumbers. I would have put sprouts or lettuce, but I forgot the lettuce, and we’re out of sprouts. Out of view is a bowl of black grapes.

Title From:
It’s Better Than That
by Lou & Peter Berryman