Thursday, August 30, 2012

My big move!




I am now an Arizona resident! It was almost a month ago that Mike and I left Kentucky and made the 28 hour drive across the country to our new home.

The cats meowed the entire time.



I thought it would be neat to take pictures every hour or two for the entire drive to show the gradient from lush, green Kentucky, to dry, brown Arizona.


 So this is where we started. So green, you could die.

View from outside our condo.

Goodbye Louisville, I'll never forget the year I spent in you.

Indiana. Corn, corn, corn, corn.
Missouri. Getting browner!



On the first night of our drive, we stayed in Chandler, Oklahoma. It was there that I had the pleasure of experiencing 114 degrees. I'm pretty sure I got heat exhaustion. Not cool. Also, it's a totally horrible place. Never go there.


Oklahoma. Starting to look Southwest-ish.

Oklahoma some more.

Texas. So flat! Crazy flat. 
New Mexico! Take note of the state's most plentiful natural resource: the shrub. 
Finally a mountain creeping up.
Outside Roswell, NM. Hills!
A place I've driven many, many times, and should have gotten my first speeding ticket, but never did.

White Sands. It's white and sandy.


Starting to look Arizona-ish.

Arizona! Pretty place. 

Finally, my new home! I love you, Saguaro (huggy cactus).

And that was my trip!

We are liking our new house in the desert. I don't feel quite at home yet, but I'm sure with a little more time, it will start to feel normal.





Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Green Chile Chicken Stew


My name is Weasel and I approve this message.


Mexican food in Kentucky is really, really bad. So if I want Mexican food here, I have to make it myself. My default thing to make is my mom's recipe for green chile chicken enchiladas. 

Lately though, I've been trying to avoid straying too far from paleo when possible, so I thought maybe some green chile chicken stew would satisfy the craving without having to eat any grain. And my stew recipe definitely does the trick. It has become probably my favorite at-home meal, and I make it about once a week. 

And now I will share it with you...


Green Chile Chicken Stew

(Makes 5-6  heaping one cup servings)


.8 - 1 lb chicken thighs (or breasts, but I think thighs are better), cooked and shredded

1/2 a medium onion, diced

1 extra large garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons cooking fat (I usually use half ghee and half coconut oil, but anything will be fine)

6-8 oz diced green chiles (more if you like it really spicy)

2 medium-large potatoes, chopped into 1cm cubes (or use riced cauliflower if you prefer)

1 carton (32 oz) chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon oregano

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream



Heat the cooking fat in a pot big enough to hold everything. Then saute the onion and garlic until it starts to soften. Add the green chile, potatoes, chicken broth, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper and stir. Simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. When the potatoes are cooked through, add in the cooked, shredded chicken. Next, stir in the cream and bring back to a simmer. Now taste a little and add more salt and pepper if needed. And it's ready!



I like to eat mine topped with a little (or a lot) of shredded cheddar. The leftovers are great for lunch the next day, or even frozen and thawed for a fast and delicious future meal. 

And great on the side, are these cheesy tapioca buns!


Notes: 

To prep the chicken, I like to drizzle it with olive oil and a little salt and pepper and bake it in a pan covered in foil at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until cooked through. Then shred it or chop it up.

I really love my soups full of cream, but it would probably still be good if the cream was left out. 

A good alternative to using carb-y potatoes in this recipe is riced cauliflower. Just grate 1/2- 3/4 cup of raw cauliflower and throw it in in place of the potatoes and simmer until everything is tender and the flavors are nicely melded.

I hope you enjoy this stew as much as I do!



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cookies and Nuggets.

I braved one of my least favorite environments today:




The Trader Joe's in this town is AWFUL. It's overly crowded with jerks and just bad in every way. Mike and I learned this a while back when we decided to switch up our normal routine and shop there one weekend. It was so bad that we never went back. That had been my first Trader Joe's experience in several years and since it was so very horrific, I decided that I just hated the place in general.

Fast forward a couple months to when we were in Tucson looking for a house. There was a Trader Joe's two doors down from the hotel we were staying at, and I begrudgingly agreed that we could do our shopping there while we were in town. I was in for quite a surprise. That Trader Joe's is awesome! Nothing at all like the one here in Louisville.

While I was in Tucson I fell in love with Trader Joe's carrot juice. I bought a bottle to keep in our hotel room, and then had to go back two more times to get more. Somehow I forgot about the stuff since I've been back home, until today, that is. I was somehow reminded of carrot juice, and just HAD to have some.

Since my juicer is already packed up for the move, I decided I would go to that awful, awful Trader Joe's here and get some of my trusty old carrot juice.

I thought maybe since it was in the middle of a weekday, the store wouldn't be so bad. It was though. But at least I got the juice.



For dinner this evening, I decided to do something a little different than usual.



Chicken nuggets!

I used to make paleo fried chicken from the recipe in my Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook, but I hadn't tried chicken nuggets yet. I found this recipe today on Life as a Plate, and was intrigued by its use of mayo and mustard (I left the honey out) to coat the chicken, instead of the usual egg.

They came out really well. The only thing that was slightly disappointing was the level of breading crispiness. It came out slightly more soggy than crispy. Soggy isn't really the right word, though. But regardless, they tasted great.

Local chicken.

Gooey grossness. 

Before baking.


Last but not least, for my eating pleasure this evening were these lovely fellows:



Grain-Free Almond Butter Cookies!

Here's the recipe I used. They came out pretty tasty. I've been trying to find some paleo recipes that my parents might enjoy, and this one is a definite keeper. The sweetness and texture don't measure up to the peanut butter cookies I grew up with, but for being grain-free these are pretty darn good.

Mike and I enjoyed our dinner and cookies while watching an episode of good ol' Farscape.

Weasel blocking my view, as usual.

Before Mike and I started dating almost 7 years ago, I had no experience with sci fi. He was kind enough to introduce me, and I have been hooked ever since. The very first series he showed me was Farscape, and when we couldn't find anything new to watch a few nights ago, we decided to re-watch the whole series. Great decision, I forgot how good it is.


Because I haven't reached my daily quota of Weasel pictures, here she is napping on a pile of boxes.


And now I'm off to do a bit of reading before bed.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Three weeks to go.

My big move back to the southwest is coming up quick! I'm super excited and packing up more of the house every day.


With all this moving, and my studio all in boxes, I won't be making any art for a while. So here's an old piece, since I have nothing new to show:





Things I'm looking forward to about moving:

Setting up my new studio.
Living somewhat near my family again (6 hour drive instead of a 24 hour drive).
Having year-round sunshine, because as nice as Kentucky is in the spring/summer, the winter here really, really sucks. Day after day of not seeing the sun really gets you down.


Percentage of sunny days in Louisville: 56%
Percentage of sunny days in Tucson: 85%
Tucson sunshine is beat only by Yuma, AZ and Redding, CA.

There are plenty of not-so-great things about living in the desert, too. The deathly dryness. The scorching heat. The venomous house guests. It's weird though, when we were there visiting a few weeks ago, I had this feeling like the desert was where I belong. Maybe it's something about living the first 6 years of my life and then the first 7 years of my adult life in the desert that cemented me as a desert creature.

I am definitely going to miss the lush greenery here in Louisville, though, and the amazingly beautiful storms. Mike and I always go out on our porch to watch the clouds right before a severe thunderstorm starts, which is multiple times a week here, year-round. I've never seen such cool looking clouds.

It is kind of a pain that we have to move again after only living out here for a year, but I think I like moving. I know it's a lot of work, not to mention really expensive, but it's really exciting too. And I get bored with my surroundings pretty quickly so changing them up completely is always really refreshing. I also love getting to spend a whole week with my parents, since they always come to help us when we move.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Weekend in Chicago

Mike and I returned home yesterday afternoon from our busy but fun weekend in Chicago.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:




Amelia the very photogenic cat.




Painting of MJ in a third story window.





Pigeons enjoying some bread in a dirty alley.





Mike holding a maple bacon eclair that we shared. Way too much sugar was consumed over the weekend. I'm looking forward to getting back to mostly paleo eating now that I'm home again.




Beautiful old buildings.




Funny old advertisement we saw in a restaurant. Meat!




Sitting in terrible Chicago traffic for an hour and a half during rush hour.




We drove through a severe thunderstorm in Indiana on our way to Chicago and a severe thunderstorm in Indiana on our way home from Chicago. Not fun. But the sky was pretty afterwards.



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ugh!

I've been working on making my dad a mug for his birthday- my very last ceramic piece before packing up all my art stuff for the move, and things keep going very wrong with this project.

Before glazing.
I didn't like how the first mug came out because of something weird happening with my clear glaze. It was getting really bubbly and milky-looking, as if I had applied it to thickly, which it wasn't! There were still several days until my Dad's birthday, so if I hurried, I would have time to make another one and still get it to him in time. So that's what I did... and this time it turned out even worse than the first. I compensated for the weirdness of the clear glaze, but something even weirder happened!

In the glaze firing, some of the glaze popped off! It happened in 4 different places, but this was the only place where it took the underglaze off with it:



Since I really didn't want to make a third one, I decided I'd try to just glaze over the places where it popped off, and fire it again, to see if that would work. I ended up re-glazing and re-firing three more times, with this happening every time, except the places where the glaze was popping off would move slightly each time. Ahh!

So I reluctantly started a third mug (which would not reach my dad in time for his birthday). Today I was doing it's glaze firing, and what happens? I went to check on the kiln about an hour before it was going to be done, only to find that the circuit breaker had been tripped, killing the firing! Uuuugggghhhh. It shouldn't have harmed the mug at all, so hopefully I can just re-fire it and all will be fine, because if I have to make a fourth one, I think I might go crazy.

Other than the unending mug work, I've been busy packing up the house. Only 4 more weeks now until we move! I'm getting really excited. Mike and I are going up to Chicago this weekend to see some family and friends one last time while we still live in the area. Should be fun!

Friday, June 8, 2012

yum yum stir fry bowl.

Today was our first day in Tucson with no obligations. There were a couple things we could have done, like set up bank accounts and the like, but we decided to put that off until tomorrow morning.

We slept in and then headed out for lunch. I was feeling somewhat malnourished and desperately needed some meat and vegetables, so I looked around online, and found a place I really wanted to try. It's called Genghis Grill and it's a Mongolian Stir Fry restaurant. I'm sure probably everyone else in the universe has been to one of these kinds of places, but I never had. It was so awesome! It's set up kind of salad bar style and you get a bowl to fill up with whatever you want. There's the meat section with all sorts of meat. I chose Beef strips and a little bit of chicken. Then there's the spice section where you get to put whatever seasonings you want. I put garlic granules and ginger. Then there's the vegetables where you grab whatever you want from the many, many choices. I picked onion, zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, and water chestnuts. And then you fill this other little bowl with whatever sauce you want. After sampling a few of the sauces, I decided on the citrus ginger sauce. Then you give your stuff to the grill person and tell them what kind of starch you want. Udon, various kinds of rice, or tortillas. I got mine with steamed rice. Then they stir fry it up and bring it to you. And oh my god, it was so good.



I can't wait to go back there again.

After lunch we hung out at the hotel for a while, did some reading and took a nap. Then it was time to dinner!

We tried out a restaurant that Mike had been curious about. It was a Mexican hot dog place, which sounded kind of weird to me, but I was willing to try it out. I didn't really know what to expect, but it turned out they were hot dogs wrapped in bacon and topped with beans and jalapeƱos and a bunch of other stuff. They were actually pretty good! The beans were the best part, I think. Well actually, the horchata we both ordered on the side was the best part. None of the Mexican restaurants in Louisville seem to serve horchata, so Mike and I are ordering it every chance we get here.

After eating our dinner out by the pool, I headed over to the exercise room to work out for a bit. I used the elliptical, the free weights and the treadmill. I wasn't planning on using the treadmill again after my horrific treadmill experience yesterday, but I decided I'd give it another shot anyway. There were a few other people in the room with me, so at least if I went flying off the machine again, maybe someone would be there to call me an ambulance. It went okay, but I was definitely really nervous while I was using it. Those things are dangerous!

Tomorrow we are getting up early to run a few errands and then we're heading to Phoenix for the day. Some of Mike's family just happens to be there visiting right now, so we're going to spend the day with them and then drive back to Tucson in the evening. It should be fun! I'm looking forward to exploring the rest of the state.

And now that it's all dark outside, I think Mike and I are going to drive over to our future house to see what the neighborhood is like at night.