Tuesday, February 03, 2009

So much to say and so little time

After two days of being extremely stressed out and exhausted as a result, today I feel happy and alive and ready to take on the world (or at least my To Do list.)
I am still in the midst of things about which it is illegal or imprudent for me to blog. So, here are some brief, happy thoughts, things I might write about in more detail later.

1. It is snowing. Snow in Sussex County makes me happy. Having a normal winter is making me happy. The snow is light and fluffy, small flakes that melt as soon as they hit the car so that it's not so bad to drive--but it's definitely sticking. According to a part of my brain that had been in disuse for probably ten years, I think this is good sledding snow. (Before this winter is over, if I can find a sled, I just might go sledding down my back hill a few times.) This area looks beautiful--as beautiful as places I saw on my road trip--covered in snow. (I do think that when the snow is mostly melted, with patches of sickly-looking grass showing through and gray grimy road-snow piled up along every possible walkway and street, NJ looks like one of the ugliest places I've ever seen.) The snow sits on tall, imposing conifers, on stretches of farmland, and--my favorite--it covers one side of the trees, which look black in this low light, in the stretches of woodland that can be found on many of the county roads. Right now I'm thinking of a stretch on Newton-Sparta Road. How could I ever be so negative about this area?

2. I learned how to make a fire in the fireplace this weekend.

3. I think I've found my favorite lunch place in Newton. Cheddar Alley on Spring Street. It is known as "the cheese shop" but they now have lunch. I think they have ice cream shop stuff, too. Anyway, I've been there for lunch twice now. Today I had a personal pizza that I am probably going to copy (and modify) throughout the cold season. It was pizza only in the sense that it was on a round, flat bread; had a savory, fruit-based sauce; and cheese. It was winter squash (I forget what kind, butternut, acorn, whatever) with parmesan, sage, and a "fig glaze." I am guessing it was fig-balsamic vinegar. It was awesome. And the atmosphere is great, the staff is friendly. The prices are really, really reasonable. They also have Mighty Leaf tea for only $1.

4. On another food note, my current fixation is portable, vegetarian lunches. I mean, things that can be carried around, eaten cold, and don't contain meat but still manage to be filling. Why? Because I'm trying to cut almost all meat out of my diet--I'll write more about that later. It's cheaper, healthier, more sustainable. This is something that I'm always interested in, but at certain times it becomes more important to me. (The portable lunch thing, not just the meat thing.) It's very hard to find recipes for things like this, vegetarian meals that you can eat without a microwave handy. I mean, peanut butter and jelly get old. Grilled vegetable sandwiches require a lot of advance prep and planning ahead. I make a lot of grain-based salads that include tofu or chickpeas or peanuts (for protein) but then you have to have a container and a fork. So, I'm really pleased right now with the veggie burger recipe from Heidi of 101cookbooks.com. I made the version from her cookbook with chickpeas, and then made something more closely resembling the version on her blog, with black beans instead of lentils. The concept is that instead of putting the burger on a bun and getting something dry and bready, you use the burger AS the bun--cut it in half and fill it with things like avocado, more vegetables, cheese, whatever. It's very filling and satisfying. Once I read her instructions about making them small, shaped more like "hockey pucks," they held their shape nicely. I don't think I'll get tired of them too quickly, because I can add all kinds of things to them as filling or I can add things to the burger "batter" (for lack of a better term). Different spices, different chopped vegetables, tahini or nut butter....This recipe will help me with a lot of my 2009 resolutions/goals--sustainable living, saving money, and continuing to have a healthy diet. (The meat thing is health-related too, but I'll write more about that later.) (Also I'll add a link to the recipe later, but you could just go to 101cookbooks.com and look for the lentil burger.

5. I got a kit from Sublime Stitching last week. I've been meaning to order from them for YEARS. I signed up for their mailing list at the BUST magazine Craftacular! craft fair, got an e-mail about their 20% Hard Times sale, and decided this was a good time to order. I can't wait to start some projects with the kits. Anyway, since I believe in supporting small businesses with good products and customer service, I am going to write about how impressed I am with Sublime Stitching. I ordered the products late on Thursday night--I mean after 10PM. It said allow 3-5 days for shipment. However, they shipped on Friday. I got my package on SATURDAY. And I love it.

OK, that's enough writing for now. I'm going to tackle that to do list now.

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