Roasted Chick Peas

Roasted chick peas are one of Ad’s favorite snacks. They’re crunchy, flavorful, and healthy. You can buy them already roasted in stores, but we prefer to roast our own so that we can tailor the taste.

Ingredients

1 can of unsalted chick peas

2 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp cumin

chipotle powder

salt

 

1. To start, thoroughly rinse and drain your chick peas, before laying them between two kitchen towels.  Ad lets his sit for 45 minutes. The drier they are, the crispier they’ll be after roasting, and that’s what you want!

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2. Once dry, transfer the chick peas into a 9×13 baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and stir to coat the peas.

3. Add spices! You can be as creative (or not) as you want here. Our standard seasoning is 1 tsp of cumin, a couple pinches of chipotle powder, and a sprinkling of salt.  Stir until spices are evenly distributed, and spread chick peas into a single layer.

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4. Bake uncovered at 400° F, for 45 min to an hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until golden brown.

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5. Let cool, and store in an airtight container until it’s time for a snack.

Does anyone make these with different seasonings? We’re always up for trying something new, especially when it involves food!

Iced Mint and Lemon Verbena Tea

For the last few years I’ve had a growing interesting in using herbs for medicinal purposes. Don’t get me wrong, I still love me some ibuprofen for my aches and pains, but it’s fun to try and see how effective different herbs are. The books I refer to most often are Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs; The Kitchen & Garden Book of Herbs, by Jessica Houdret and Joanna Farrow; The Little Herb Encyclopedia, by Jack Ritchason; and the classic Stalking the Healthful Herbs, by Euell Gibbons.  The last one is really a very good read, the others are reference style books. Some day I’d love to have an entire garden dedicated solely to medical herbs with space to dry herbs and prepare them for use, but right now I’m working with a small deck garden and a tiny apartment.  My mint plants were getting a bit out of hand, so I decided to harvest some to use for tea. I used a handful of sweet mint, a handful of chocolate mint, and a few sprigs of lemon verbena. In addition to tasting delicious, this tea has some other benefits, primarily digestive.

Lemon Verbena: Aids digestion, good for the stomach and intestines, said to reduce fevers. Can also work as a bug repellent when leaves are crushed and rubbed on the skin.

Mint: Aids digestion, calms an upset stomach, and helps with muscle spasms

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Making an herbal tea is a really simple process. Harvest the herbs, rinse (make sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides!), pluck the leaves, steep in boiling water for 15 – 30 min, strain out the leaves, and refrigerate. Or drink it hot, if that’s what you’re going for.

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I added just a teaspoon of honey to this tea while it was still hot, but you certainly don’t have to.

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It’s very refreshing!

 

 

Public Service Announcement: Ladies, Get those Boobies Squished!

I haven’t had a mammogram yet because I’m only 24, but I don’t imagine that they’re very pleasant. Whipping out the girls in front of a perfect stranger, slapping them on a cold slab, and having them squashed down by a machine sounds pretty uncomfortable…but it’s so worth it.

A few months ago, my mom went for her routine mammogram. Cancer runs in our family, so she’s aware of the importance of early detection. She gets a mammogram every year, as recommended by her doctor for women her age with a family history of cancer.  To make a long story short, the mammogram identified some “suspicious cells” which were discovered to be cancerous following a biopsy and an incision. Fortunately, the cancer was caught early before it spread or developed into a tumor. She was told by the surgeon at the breast health center that she is a mammogram success story. This is exactly how mammograms are designed to work. When done regularly, they have the potential to catch cancer in it’s earliest stages, when it is easiest to treat. 

After a few weeks of precautionary radiation, my mom is just fine. A little tired and a little crispy, but cancer free and taking a well-deserved vacation with one of her close friends. She was lucky. The type of cancer she had has a very high cure rate if caught and treated early, and is not an aggressive form. Even so, if she hadn’t gotten that mammogram a few months ago, who knows what her story would look like in 2 or 3 years time.

Here’s the lovely lady of the hour, happiest outdoors with a book in her hand.  (She’ll kill me for this!)

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Procedures that can identify problems at an early stage (including the ever dreaded colonoscopy) are so important, and they have the potential to save lives. Your body is worth it, no matter how scrawny, lumpy, pasty, freckled, or flabby you may think it is. It’s lovely because it’s yours, and it’s the only one you’ve got. So readers, go tell your mamas, your sisters, your aunts, your daughters, your friends, your wives, your partners, your neighbors, and your coworkers…..get those boobies squished!!

Crusty Bike Baby and Madison’s New Sexiest Man

I’m the proud mother of a crusty new bike baby! Except it’s not actually new. It’s old, made in England in the 60s or 70s. Which makes me love it even more. All it needs is a fancy little basket and a bell. I very happily purchased the bike at Dream Bikes, a non-profit bike shop here in Madison that partners with the Boys and Girls Club to provide job experience to youth in under-served areas. The young women who helped me pick out my bike was super smiley, super sweet, and super helpful. When I get home after purchasing my bike, I found that the gears weren’t changing quite right. The shop fixed it the next day with no complaints or fees. I was told to bring it back at any time if it needed adjustments or more repairs. It was a good experience, and I’d recommend the place to anyone who wants to buy a bike and feel good about it.

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I’m happy with the bike, but my inner thighs are not. It’s been years since I’ve ridden a bicycle, and my legs know it. I’d like to tone up a little bit before the wedding and getting a bike seemed like the way to do it. I know myself, and a gym membership is not the answer. When I get home from work at night I feel like doing nothing, so I would never get my money’s worth out of a gym membership or exercise classes. With a bike I can at least exercise my legs while riding to the grocery store to buy chocolate. Maybe not a fool proof plan….

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Ad wanted me to show off his new bike too! He found it hiding in the garden shed, and asked our downstairs neighbor if she was interested in selling it. After some new tires, new inner tubes, new chain, and one minor explosion, he got it in working order.

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What I have to tell you next is possibly even more exciting than the new bikes. Ad got a hair cut. A significant hair cut. This is a huge deal. He’s been growing his hair for at least 7 years, and I’ve never known him with short hair. He’d slowly fallen out of love with his luscious long locks over the last year or so, and was ready for a change. After much back and forth, he made the appointment and decided to donate his tresses to Pantene Beautiful Lengths which provides free wigs to women with cancer.

The Before
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The After
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Not too shabby, eh? I’m a lucky gal.

Still Running. Sort Of.

For those of you who are interested, I’m still running. Slowly, and infrequently, but I’m trying. (If you missed my first post about running, you can find it here). It’s easier to find the time now that I’m no longer in school, but physically it’s still tough. I still breath like a large animal in labor, I’m still covered in sweat, I still trip over uneven bits of the sidewalk because I’m too tired to pick my feet up very high, and my face still turns bright red. I mean bright red. It’s a little shocking. A get a number of concerned looks from passers bye.

I went for a run last night and a funny thing happened. Ad was riding along side me on his bike but he had gone on ahead, so I had no witnesses. I was brutally attacked by a crow. Brutally is probably too strong of a word. It really just clawed at the top of my head as it flew by, and pulled my hair. Oddly enough, this is not the first time this has happened to me.

It was probably just attracted to my great hair.

Living Within Your Means

I like to save money, and I’m pretty proud of how good I am at it.I live cheaply, so that I can live richly. I save money for the things that are really important to me (like visiting friends and family, and buying hand made gifts on holidays), and then pinch pennies everywhere else. It’s not only a choice, it’s kind of a necessity. I’m a grad student, working part time, with a hefty amount of college debt waiting for me. Saving money sounds like a good idea, but living within your means can be challenging and time consuming. Here’s how I do it!

1. Wash your clothes in cold water. It uses less energy since the water heater isn’t on. It’s also gentler on fabrics, so clothes last longer and are less likely to shrink.

2. Turn the lights of when when leaving a room. Duh. Seems like a no-brainer, but I know people who don’t do this.

3. Shop at discount grocery stores, like Aldi’s, whenever possible. It’s a great place to buy basic things like flour, spices, eggs, milk, and canned goods. Cinnamon is cinnamon. It doesn’t matter where you buy it, so why not save a few bucks? Things might taste a little different until you get used to them, but different doesn’t mean bad!

4. Turn your heat down and put some clothes on. Even lowering your thermostat by 2 or 3 degrees saves money. Seriously. Just wear a sweater.

5. Get a clothes line or clothes rack for drying your laundry. Just like cold water washing, it’s better for your wallet and your clothing.

6. Take the time to shop at thrift stores. I know you’ve heard me say this before, but I can’t stress it enough! I got a really nice pair of Columbia winter boots at a thrift store for $15, that don’t look as if they’ve ever been worn. They would have cost me close to $100 to buy new. Ad got a great pair of Merrell hiking shoes at a thrift store for $14, that also seem almost new. He would have paid over $100 if he bought them new. $45 Lands End sweater? $7 at the thrift store, with the tags still on. Sure it’s a bit time consuming, and maybe the thought of digging through used stuff makes you a little squeamish, but I promise you that no one has ever died from it.

7. Save your holey undies! They make awesome rags, along with holey socks, and raggedy towels or wash clothes. No need to spend money on paper towels again. Another change that is better for the environment and your wallet.

8. 8. Get yourself some cloth napkins. Buy em once, and never buy em again. Wash them with your regular loads of laundry, and it doesn’t even make any extra work. When they get too old to use…. see number 7! Again, better for the environment. Are you seeing a theme here?

9. Stop throwing food away. I know you do it, because every body does. You pay for food and then you throw half of it away. How dumb is that?! Don’t believe me? Check out this short article. Simply put, eat your leftovers. My friend Lindsey is the Queen of reworking her leftovers into something new, fresh, and exciting. She also happens to be an advocate for the many uses of holey socks. Check out her website for practical and tasty ways to turn your leftovers into new meals. You’ll save yourself money and you’ll reduce the amount of garbage that you send to land fills. (Remember to compost when you can!)

10. Christmas shop all year long. Ad’s not a fan of this particular technique but I swear by it. When you wait until November or December to start buying Christmas gifts for people, you’re feeling the pressure to find the perfect thing fast. When you see it, you’re going to buy it, weather or not it’s on sale or within your budget. Keeping your eyes open for gifts throughout the entire year means that you can watch for things to come on sale and you can plan to make more affordable purchases.

11. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Another no brain-er, but clearly we all struggle with this. I got my first credit card about 6 months ago, and I hate it. The temptation to spend money that I don’t actually have suddenly became huge. If having good credit built up wasn’t so important, I would cut my credit card up right now. Use your credit card only when you need to. When you have that shiny little piece of plastic in your hand, it’s hard to remember that you’re spending money you might not actually have.

12. Make things! This one is obviously a favorite of mine. I try to hand make a lot of the gifts that I give to people. It usually saves money, and it means a lot to whomever receives it. You can take it a step farther and make your own household cleaning products. Always less expensive, and always better for the environment.

13. Spend money on experiences, not things. $50 on a new pair of jeans is going to feel really exciting for about 2 minutes. $50 spent on a night out with friends or a concert by your favorite band is going to keep you content and satisfied for much longer, which means you might spend less in the future. When you’re spending money, make sure you’re spending it on something that counts!

14. Accept free things. Another one that seems incredibly obvious, but some people feel funny doing this. I feel just fine about it. In fact, I love it. My couch was free. My dresser was free. A lot of my books were free. My deck table was free. I have a huge selection of cloth napkins – also free. Those were actually pulled from a pile that was waiting for trash collection…with the Pier 1 tags still attached! That was a good day. Some of my herb seeds were free. I still have some hungarian wax peppers in the freezer that I got for free last summer.

15. Plan meals in advance. This is probably the most time consuming suggestion on the list, and I admit that I don’t always follow through with it. But when I do, I really notice the savings. I try to plan out meals a week at a time and only buy the food that I need to make those meals. If I only buy exactly what I need, then nothing goes to waste and I spend less money on junk food and desserts.

Living within your means feels good. It’s responsible, it’s sustainable, it’s challenging, and it’s an art. What are your ideas for living on the cheap?

Happy Valentine’s Day! – And a Loving Kindness Meditation

Let’s talk about love. Real love. Not the kind of love where you give someone candy on V-day because you’re kind of into them. I’m talking about the kind of love where you genuinely wish the best for someone simply because they’re a fellow human being.

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I’m taking a class right now that’s taught by a really great, down-to-earth professor. She knows a lot about death, grief, hope, love, and mindfulness. Each evening before class discussion starts, we do a mindfulness meditation. This week’s was so fitting, that I thought I would share it with you. It’s one of my particular favorites, and I use it a lot in my social work practice when I have a client who just rubs me the wrong way. So here goes:

Make sure you’re sitting comfortably, and close your eyes. Pay attention to your breathing for a minute or two. Then say these words in your head to yourself, allowing yourself enough time to truly experience the emotion behind them:

May I be safe and free from harm. May I be happy and at peace. May I be healthy and strong. May I be at ease in the world.

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Take a few deep breaths, and now think of someone who you have neutral feelings about. This might be a bus driver, the neighbor a few houses down whom you barely know, or the barrista who makes your coffee each morning. Then say these words in your head to that person, giving yourself time to truly mean what you’re saying:

May you be safe and free from harm. May you be happy and at peace. May you be healthy and strong. May you be at ease in the world.

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Again, take a few cleansing breaths. Now picture someone who you feel warmth towards, perhaps a friend or a family member. Say these words to them in your head:

May you be safe and free from harm. May you be happy and at peace. May you be healthy and strong. May you be at ease in the world. 

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Here comes the hardest part. Think of someone who challenges you. Someone you really don’t like. Someone who is your enemy. Hold this person in your heart, and say these words to them, really trying your hardest to mean them:

May you be safe and free from harm. May you be happy and at peace. May you be healthy and strong. May you be at ease in the world. 

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After a few closing breaths, open your eyes. How do you feel? Refreshed? Warm? Relaxed? Peaceful?

The most rewarding thing about this exercise might be the immediate shift in perspective that it can create. Consider the person who is your enemy. Would they really be your enemy if they were safe, free from harm, happy, at peace, healthy, strong, and at ease in the world? Probably not. They’re probably your enemy because they are struggling with things. Maybe they aren’t happy. Maybe they’re feeling weak. Maybe they’re not at ease in the world they live in. By wishing good things for them, you warm your heart towards them, which is sure to make your next interaction with them a much more positive  experience.

You can see how the benefits of this process are two fold. I like to call this type of activity selfish-kind. Yes, you’re being kind to others by sending loving thoughts into a struggling world, but you’re also helping yourself by relaxing, relieving stress, and taking a few minutes to feel connected to other people.

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So readers, love yourself, love your friends and family, love some strangers, and try your hardest to love your enemies. Love and kindness always creates more love and kindness.

It’s Your Lucky Day!

A few days ago adisoninmadison reached 2,000 views! Apparently I’m not as boring as I thought. I’m simply astounded that the blog has been viewed so many times, and the support from all of my followers and readers means so much.

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To celebrate, I’m doing a give away. That’s right! You can win something! For FREE! Up for grabs are some some heirloom seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. The goal of Seed Savers Exchange is to collect rare, heirloom garden seeds, and distribute them to other gardeners. The idea is to promote and preserve diversity in food crops, while also paying homage to our farming, gardening, food-growing heritage. The Seed Savers Exchange website explains the importance of this in lovelier words than I can find, so I encourage you  to check it out if you have the time.

Here’s the deal. These seeds are mine. I bought them for myself. I need them. I love them.  I have big dreams of a flourishing deck garden so grand that I can sit out there and the neighbors won’t be able to see me.  I will have enough tomatoes to feed a small army. That’s probably not realistic, but my ideas rarely are.

Luckily for you, most of these packets contain 50-250 seeds. I have a limited amount of space, and I would hate for these babies to go bad before I have a chance to use them all. So the extras are going to you!

Two beautiful winners will receive the following:

10 Wapsipinicon Peach Tomato Seeds – Heavy producer of 2″ round fuzzy yellow fruits. Sweet, juicy, well-balanced flavor. And best of all….rot resistant!

20 Lettuce Mixture Seeds – A mix of Australian Yellowleaf, Forellenschluss, Pablo, Red Velvet, and others cutting lettuces.

10 Globe Basil Seeds – Globe bush with very small, thin leaves. Intense sweet basil scent with spicy flavor. Slow to go to seed.

20 Cilantro Seeds – A must have for your Mexican dishes. The fresh leaves are called cilantro, and the seeds are the spice called coriander! This was news to me. The things you can learn from the back of seed packets.

10 British Wonder Pea Seeds – A large-podded dwarf pea (sounds like a medical issue to me) with good yield. This seed has been around since 1890.

10 Blondköpfchen Tomato Seeds – That translates to Little Blond Girl, so I had to buy them. Small, gold-yellow 1″ fruits borne in giant clusters, excellent sweet taste. Rarely a cracked fruit.

10 Black Hungarian Pepper Seeds – 3 foot plants produce abundant yields of 4″ long fiery fruits, shiny black ripening to red. Medium Hot. Ad is all about these.

10 English Lavender Seeds – Grey-green clustered foliage and short spikes of violet purple flowers. Highly valued for cutting, drying, and aromatic fragrance.

20 Chives Seeds – Delicate onion-flavored foliage is good for fresh eating or cooking, excess freezes well. The lavender-pink flowers are also edible.

Here’s what to do:

Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite veggie is, and why. My absolute, w/out a doubt favorite is tiny tomatoes. Grape, cherry, whatever you want to call them. It’s like candy, but it’s a vegetable! As children, my cousin and I would pick them, arrange them on the leaves of my sunflower house, and then sell them to my mom for a penny each. Apparently I was very business minded as a child.

One week from now (Thursday, February 7th) I’ll randomly select 2 names from the comments below as winners! I’ll post the winners here, and I’ll also e-mail them privately to find out where they would like their spoils sent. I’ll include all instructions provided on the original seed packets.

Comment away! Tell your friends!

The winners have been chosen! Congratulations to Pat and Donna! I swear this wasn’t rigged, Ad drew the names with his eyes closed. Thanks to all who entered, and best of luck in future giveaways! That’s right, there will be more. 

Running. Sort of.

The weather was finally nice enough to go for a run today, so that’s what I did. Two important notes. First, when I say the weather was nice, I mean that it was above 40°F and most of the ice had melted. It was however, pouring down rain. Second, when I say running, I really mean that I run until I can’t breath (usually about 1 minute if I’m lucky) and then I walk for 5 minutes to catch my breath. I haven’t had the chance to run since last fall, so I’m off to a rough start. But it’s a start none the less!

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Why did I run in the rain? Because I want to be healthy. I really, really want to be healthy. I work in a hospital, so I see sick people all day long. Diabetes, heart disease, dementia, COPD. People who are so overweight that they can no longer walk or put their shoes and socks on by themselves.  It’s all a little terrifying. I don’t want to be that way when I’m old and I want to have energy and feel good right now. I also hate going to the gym, so running in my neighborhood is more my style. I do not need a captive gym audience watching my love handles jiggle.

I’m a curvy woman, and running is hard for me. My nose runs, sweat pours, my fingers puff up, my knees and shins ache, my legs chafe (that’s right, my thighs touch), breathing gets difficult, iron clad sports bras do nothing to keep my boobs in place, my mouth fills up with phlegm, my toes get a little tingly and numb, my entire face turns bright red, and for some strange reason my bottom teeth really hurt. I apologize to any of you who may have just eaten and are now feeling nauseous, but its the truth of the matter.

Why am I telling you this? Four reasons:

1. I’m hoping that it will help to keep me accountable in my quest for good health. By sharing gross things about myself, I’ll feel more inclined to do something about them. I’m not going to tell you how much weight I lose or how many inches come off, because that’s not why I’m doing this. I’ll never be thin, and that’s a-okay. I just want to be healthy.

2. I want to support every other woman (or man!) who is sweatin’ it out in the effort to be a little more healthy. It’s tough. It’s really tough. I still clearly remember one day last fall when an oncoming fellow jogger shouted good job to me as she went past. It wasn’t sarcastic. She could see I was struggling, and she wanted to support me. It was a beautiful thing, and I probably teared up a little at the time.

3. I want this blog post to serve as a friendly reminder not to stare at the next pudgy girl you see jogging. I know it’s hard to look away, but we already know how ridiculous we must appear. There’s no need to remind us.

4. We should all be loving our bodies and taking care of ourselves. Every last jiggly, sticky-outy, cellulite laden bit. While my body is occasionally the source of much frustration, particularly when I’m trying on jeans, I really do love myself. I do wonderful things every day, and my body carries me through it all.

I can do this.