Monday, January 31, 2011

the magical cottage

Once Upon a Time...

In May of 2008, a senior nursing student at the University of Oklahoma was looking for a new place to live.

She was driving around in her mom's car, going up and down the beautiful historic streets, wishing she could one day afford one of those beautiful homes, rich with history, but knew until then, she would likely need to settle for a nearby apartment.






Until the girl and her mom noticed a sign.
The sign said:

The Sign Read: FOR RENT
Cottage in Alley

The girls called the phone number, and looked instantly at the cottage. Upon walking in, the girl literally had tears in her eyes. She knew the rent, at $550, was slightly out of reach. However, the feeling she had, was INSTANT peace, comfort, and tranquility. Not only was it too expensive, but the landlord also told her he hadn't rented to a tenant with a pet. She told him that her maltese was part of the package-deal, and she was so sad to have to walk away.

The landlord had built this house himself, and had a lot of pride at stake. He sensed the girl's instant devotion and care for his little gem. And after a couple of moments....
....he told her he'd negotiate.
The happy girl and her pup moved in that summer of 2008.

And so began a beautiful relationship between a girl and her cottage.....

This was the room the girl slept in. Next to the mirror on the wall was a little nook that a chair was tucked away in. There was a window, and a large tree. The girl would sometimes curl up in this chair, and listen to the birds and squirrels. The house was happy the girl felt safe and comfortable inside, even though the girl was alone.

There wasn't need for much decoration in the kitchen, because the house was filled with character.
Granite countertops, wood floors and cabinets, and stone-tile backsplash were put in by the landlord, the maker of the cottage.
When the weather was nice, this window remained opened. The cottage was tucked away, and the girl felt safe leaving her windows open even while she was away.
The house was covered in trees that had been there long before the girl was born. The girl felt grateful for these trees every single day. Even when they stained the top of her car.
The house wasn't very interested in politics, but she was never bothered that the girl would voice her opinion prior to people walking through the front door.
Walks in the coveted neighborhood were always a joy for the girl. This was a photo taken on her street, Lahoma Ave. The trees grew very tall here.
Christmas time came around, and the decorations the girl purchased were simple. The house was made of wood and didn't need much more than a small, understated tree.
A little icy garland on the ledge that separated the kitchen from the sitting room. The house felt like the girl had put a necklace on her. She enjoyed the modest jewelry for the holiday.

The girl would allow her visiting boyfriend to stay on the occasional weekend, but it was HER cottage, and he was just a lucky visitor.
The girl would have friends, family, and regulars from the bar she worked at (walking distance from the cottage, "The Library Bar and Grille") come over anytime. She enjoyed the company. The girl was so proud to show off her home.
Her FAVORITE company was her best friend, Jen. Jen also lived in Norman, but loved the cottage more than her own house! The cottage was a retreat for these two girls. Often, the girls would sit on the couch and talk. And that would last for hours. Wine would flow and laughs would roll out. Breeze would blow in the window, and birds would sing. There was very little sound of traffic. There was a lot of beautiful music. The cottage felt filled to the brim with love.
The girl learned how to grill herself, and when the weather was nice, she would cook outside of the house. 


The girl even invited her favorite professor over and cooked dinner. The girl, the professor, and the professor's daughter, ate on this picnic table, and enjoyed the lovely day. The girl thanked the professor for passing on her knowledge, and the girl graduated from the University. 

When the girl graduated from OU, she got a job, and bought a nice TV. The house didn't mind, because it kept the girl around even more often.
 
The girl also bought a new car. She felt like she was growing up. The house was happy for the girl, but deep down, did not like the car because when the girl got in the car, she left the house. Ultimately, the house knew the girl would move and drive the car back to Texas.

In May of 2010, after 2 wonderful years, the girl began packing up boxes. Her parents and boyfriend came up from Texas and helped her with several car-loads. To thank them, she took them to drinks and lunch at The Library. When they were finished, her parents started driving back to Texas, and Lindsay knew what she had to do. She walked back in the bare and empty cottage, and sat down inside. The house felt so naked...and lonely already. How could anybody else love this cottage as this girl had??
Her boyfriend sat behind her, and hugged her while she felt her emotions in all of their entirety. Tears did not stop falling. The girl felt she was a part of this house, and she felt a part of her would not be leaving. In the midst of her grief, there was a knock on the door.
The girl answered, and saw her best friend. She gave the girl her karma necklace, a beautiful and symbolic piece of jewelry between the two friends.
The friends sobbed, hugged, and parted ways. The girl's boyfriend drove back to Texas in his own car. The girl was to follow, after returning her key.
Walking out of the house and locking the door for the final time was so bittersweet. I tear up as I write this. I walked two doors down, to my landlord's house. I sobbed and thanked him for taking the girl with the dog. For building such a beautiful and wonderful home. For coming over at midnight when I saw a flying roach and was scared. For putting out mouse poison when I didn't know what to do. For teaching me how to plug in a washer and dryer.

For giving me the experience.

I will never have an experience quite like this one, ever again. But I am so grateful for these memories. And I am grateful for this medium, as a way for me to express my emotions. I have not been able to look at these photos since I lived in the cottage. Though I have visited Norman several times, I have not driven by. I missed her too much. I will go back in a couple of weeks, and I think I'll drive by. But I know I'll cry....

Neti Pot

I had a headache this morning, and I do not remember the last time I had a headache, as it has been so long.
I felt a little trickle in my throat as well.
I picked up some piping hot soup from Sea Siam to clear my sinuses and warm my throat.
Drank some Kombucha (still sipping as I type).
And remembered....
....the NETI POT!

Why had I waited this long?
I used to be in a habit of using it in the shower. 
I need to re-inact this habit.

If you know the greatness that is the Neti Pot, you will enjoy these pics.
If you do not, you might be intrigued.
And hopefully, you will purchase one. 

Very inexpensive, and doctors and nurses (both Western and Eastern) swear by these!

A natural way to cleanse and soothe your inner nose!

Looks Like a Genie Lamp!
Mine Came With Packets But It's Just SALT!

Pour the Salt In!

Warm Up the Water!

Stir it Up!

Don't Judge My Vulnerability!

George Neti-Pot-Ing in my Cottage in Norman
(reflection on the faucet)


So if this is new to you.....tilt your head completely sideways, over the sink, or in the shower. The Neti Pot goes in one nostril, and the salt-water will come out your other nostril. Move your head and tilt it different ways until it moves fluidly, without pain. You'll find the sweet spot. Bring your head back up and gently blow your nose. If you're curious, look inside the Kleenex. If you're a lady and/or easily disgusted, discard appropriately.....

You'll thank me for this one!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lovely Evening With Friends

Last night, Erin had some friends over for drinks. I have been friends with Erin since Kindergarten. In 2nd grade, she said she wanted to be a 2nd grade teacher when she grew up. About 15 years later, and a year early, she graduated from Texas A&M with her Bachelor's in Education. She is now teaching 2nd grade, and is CO-WORKERS with my MOM! So often, what we want to be as 7 year olds doesn't exactly manifest in adulthood....Erin is a prime example of reaching out and taking what you want for your future! I'm proud of her, and I adore her. She makes me laugh until my stomach aches. You can also tell her anything. She is great with secrets (and knows many of mine!). She lacks judgment on others. I envy how well she can be the friend cracking jokes and making you laugh like no other--and also the friend who can cry with you during a tragic moment, and knows exactly what to say. We've been through a lot together, and I would do anything for her.
Erin! In Her New Place!


Erin's new apartment is ZEN. Everything is decorated perfectly. It is SO HER, and SO BEAUTIFUL! I love that we are all grown-up now. I also think it's very special that we each have our own place. A lot of people jump from having roommates to having a spouse. I think this is a unique opportunity for each of us to have a 1-bedroom apartment, with our own unique touches. Anyway, as we admired her new place, we threw back some drinks. I was very boring and decided not to branch out--but rather, stick to my usual $3.11/bottle Tisdale Pinot Noir (thank you, Sprouts!).


After drinks, we headed off to Carrabba's in Grapevine. My old neighbor and friend from back in the DAY, Lauren, was our waitress. The food was delish. I had a salad with artichoke hearts, red peppers, and goat cheese (pretty darn tasty, not gonna lie...). I took a couple of photos throughout the evening on the 35mm camera George and I have been infatuated with lately. It will be a while until I develop these, but look forward to seeing how they turned out.


I'm grateful to have such amazing friends in my life. They lift me up and make me better. Lifelong connections really keep you grounded. They remind you where you come from, and support you in where you're going. I loved bringing George around. Even though we've been together for an eternity, I still feel like I have "my" friends and he has "his" friends. Yes, yes, I love his friends, and he loves mine, but something about attending different high schools has made us each have our own groups. He meshes quite well, though. And my friends have been very receptive.




All in all, a fabulous Friday. Thanks to all of the people that brought such great energy and love to the evening! I took it home with me and slept quite well!

TOFU NOODLES and TOFU in my DRUNKEN NOODLES

An AMAZING Dinner Monday Night...
...which made for excellent leftovers Tuesday and Wednesday!



These noodles are amazing. I bought them at Sprouts in the Vegetarian (refrigerated) section. The ENTIRE bag has 40 calories. I ate half the bag and was stuffed! I was shocked at how easy it was to be full on such little caloric intake. The noodles are made of tofu, which is lower in carbohydrates than regular noodles. Tofu is odorless and tasteless, so it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you cook it in.
THOUGH TOFU IS ODORLESS AND TASTELESS, the liquid surrounding these noodles in the bag is not. HEADS UP! There is a strange smell! Rinse it out in a colander then microwave for 1 minute. Repeat this process 3 times if you are as OCD as I am! When you are done, you are left with odorless, tasteless, tofu noodles. High in Protein and Fiber, Low in Cals and Carbs! 

I first cut up a carrot, stalk of celery, 1/2 white onion, scallions, and of course, garlic cloves.

The following (3) pics are ones I found online, showing what the ingredients are that I often use in Asian Stir-Fry Sauce. The Mirin and Liquid Aminos are expensive initially, but last a very long time and are well worth the expense upfront.


rice wine
(similar to soy. click on the link for the health benefits!)
warning! HOT!

  After those had stir-fried and softened in the skillet, I added the tofu noodles with Mirin White Wine, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, and Sriracha. I don't measure these out, but I would say the main ingredient is Bragg's, with Sriracha at about 1/2 that amount, and Mirin 1/8 of the amount.


Thursday Night Was Date Night!

After work on Thursday, George and I ordered take-out at two different places. He was craving meat. George and I have pretty much opposite diets, because he has Type I Diabetes, and requires a very low-carbohydrate intake, and I am vegetarian (pescatarian by true definition as I do eat sushi!!!) and eat more carbs than your average bear!!! I never want to impose my decision on him or anybody else, so I told him to get what he wanted, and I'd get what I wanted, then we'd come back to my nest of a loft and lounge around with delicious take-out. Being the sweetheart that he is, he even bought my Thai Take-Out. There is a delicious place walking distance from my apartment called "Sea Siam" and when I started to spout my order, the sweet lady finished it for me. It went something like:

L: Hi, I'd like to place a take-out order of the drunken noodles, with tofu---
SS: Extra basil, extra spicy? Okay, Lindsay, we see you soon!!!!!!

George got General Tso's Chicken from Hong Kong Chinese, also walking distance from my apartment. After picking up our food, we kicked it at my place and watched some TV. I absolutely love date nights with my beau and am so grateful for the time we set aside to spend alone with one another. It really melts my heart watching him and Teddy, too. He is SO good to him. Teddy adores George. George takes him on walks often while I'm at work, and is very good about giving him the attention he so craves. I think my favorite attribute about George (always changing as there are so many) is the way he loves. Not just me, but everybody he shares his love with, can feel the authenticity. I still have a crush on him, and it will be 6 years in March! 


HIS

HERS

Drunken Noodle With Tofu, Extra Basil, Extra Spicy
Vegan Coconut Milk Soup
(and one of Georgie's veggie-eggrolls. vegan? not so much. tasty? mmmYES)

General Tso's Chicken and Broccoli
Steamed Rice
Eggrolls


My LITTLE Man!
AN UNCONDITIONAL SOURCE OF LOVE bundled up in 5 POUNDS OF FLUFFY WHITE FUR
Home Sweet Home For Date Night

Everything About This End Table Puts Me At Ease
(Take-Out Thai and Sweats Also Does The Trick!)




Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Talented Boyfriend

Part of what makes a relationship strong, in my opinion, is a mutual level of respect. I respect my partner for a lot of reasons, most of which include his values, thoughts, and heart. But George is also very talented musically, and I really admire that about him. Of course it's romantic at times, when he plays just for me, or writes songs for me....but more often he is sharing his music with the audience, or with the use of YouTube, with the world! I thought I'd share 4 VERY DIFFERENT clips (all from YouTube) of George in his element. 


The first is most recent, and was filmed just yesterday (thank you, Rachel for capturing this!). George is on the pedal steel (an instrument I knew nothing about until he came along), and his talented roommate, Frankie, is singing and playing guitar. I absolutely love the instrument George is playing here and think it is SO COOL that he taught himself how to play! 


This is a music video, produced by Dolby, for his brother's own song, "B Sweet." There are a few clips of George in this one, though the focus is on his talented brother, Andrew (the lead singer in their band). If you have the capability, watch this one in 1080p because the graphics are incredible! A clip of this video will eventually be in a commercial for Dolby Surround Sound, along with clips from artists including Train, Lady Gaga, and U2!!!


This is a clip from the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, with George singing and playing guitar. I love the line, "When did you get so pretty?" and always try to make eye contact with him at that point and pretend he's singing JUST to me! :-)


This was recorded before George and I even knew eachother. If you've ever heard of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", you'll recognize the tune. It's a cover, and George is on the drumset. 


I think you can be smart in all kinds of ways, and I truly think being musical is a form of intelligence that most people just can't relate to. Reading music is like reading a different language entirely! Watching George play drumset, guitar, pedal steel, and pretty much any other instrument that comes his way.....just really ups my level of respect for his drive (to learn to play the instrument and the song), his passion, and his dedication to the music industry.

I am inspired by and in love with my beautiful musician!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Vegan Cooking at it's Finest!!!!

One of my FAVORITE Vegan Dishes!
Step-by-Step




With Photos





Whether you're TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT, TRYING TO EAT BETTER, LOVE ANIMALS, WANTING TO EAT MORE VEGETABLES, or CRAVING GOOD 'OL FASHIONED HOME-COOKED MEATLOAF.....this blog might be the best part of your day. I got this recipe from my go-to-guide, "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch". 

Here are the ingredients:
(Keep in mind to "Try Organic Food....Or As Your Grandparents Called It, FOOD"-quote on one of my new favorite magnets, compliments of SaNtA)
1 tablespoon refined coconut oil (I was out of this pricey and wonderful ingredient...so I used canola oil. Coconut > Canola, but make do with what you got!)
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 onion, diced
3 oz mushrooms, diced (I LEAVE THIS OUT!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 c. walnuts
2 (14-oz.) packages of "Gimme Lean Ground Beef"
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. ketchup
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I ALWAYS put in more than the recipe calls. in every recipe. ;-)
ALWAYS drink while you cook!

Here are the 
instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 . Grease a 10x4x3 in. pan (a meatloaf pan, HELLO) and set aside.
Note the soap in the background and kindly wash your hands.

In a skillet, heat the oil (if it's coconut oil, heat on medium and if it's canola oil, heat on high. Read the benefits of coconut and its' heating properties HERE).


Canola in a Pinch. Coconut when Possible

Chop those veggies! Carrots and celery first. Chop up an onion. Mince 2 cloves of garlic.


Cut the carrot down long-ways, then in little pieces.
Same for the celery stalk. Put in a bowl to the side.
Your garlic absolutely must be fresh. DO NOT CUT CORNERS HERE!
I try to sliver the garlic horizontally and vertically, then spread it out with the flat side of the knife.

Toss the celery and carrots into the skillet. TIME this for 2 minutes (the first few times I didn't time, and it turned out okay...but timing it really does make it taste better!)
Celery and Carrots Cook for 2 Minutes!

Add the onion, cook for 3 more minutes.
Add Onion, Cook for 3 More!
Add the mushroom, garlic, salt, and pepper, cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and set to the side for now.



Season to your preference!


You are SUPPOSED to put two pieces of bread and the walnuts in a food processor and pulse it into a coarse meal. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A FOOD PROCESSOR, DON'T FREAK! Just cut into little pieces, then mush. Enjoy my pic of mushing :-)




mush!


Put in a separate, BIGGER bowl the new bread/walnut mix, the (2) packages of pretend meat, the oats, ketchup, parsley, and skillet-veggie mixture you set aside! MUSH!!!!!!
Bread+Walnuts
If it smells too good for you to resist, feel free to have a bite! No raw meat=no harm play!

Transfer the awesome clump into a meatloaf pan, spreading evenly. Bakes for 40 minutes then sits for at least 5 minutes. Don't serve immediately, it is SO much better after it sits.
Before going in the oven. Compact and spread evenly!

I chose to pair it with sweet potato fries and garlic green beans.
Dinner is Served!
My man just so happens to coordinate SO wonderfully with my decor!
He's a great decoration to have around here!!!!
Georgie and I both really enjoyed dinner tonight. I hope you and yours do, too!


******************************************************************
I want to point out a cool piece of business with this pretend-meat. Liberate your sweet self and have no fear with knife-sharing!!! 


I forgot to chop the parsley until after I already mushed my "meat." No need for a new knife. It's only SOY!


First of all, real meat is very dangerous to cook with because you can easily get poisoning from e.Coli. You can't cook vegetables/other food with the same spatula/spoon/pot/pan that raw beef has been in. Kinda gross to think about getting diseased from a live bug floating around on your decaying and dead animal. That is by all definitions decomposing. Anyway, this "Gimme Lean Beef" is mainly derived from SOY. That is the same food as edamame (that popular green bean looking appetizer you get at the sushi restaurant) for all you non-vegetarians!!! I know it's weird to think about eating pretend meat (I thought it was at first, too) but if you don't THINK about it, you won't notice the difference after it cooks and sits. My Atkins-praising MOM likes this recipe. My manly and meat-eating BOYFRIEND likes this recipe. I'm not leading you astray. If you're curious what it looks like, with the packaging (to purchase at the store) and in the words of Shakira, "Underneath Your Clothes," here is a glance in advance:


Don't knock it 'til you try it.
When in fear, think: WHY AM I MORE INCLINED TO EAT A DECAYING, DEAD, FLESHY ANIMAL THAN I AM A SOYBEAN?!

Don't be scurrrrred!


LOVE!


There was an error in this gadget