Eli's Corner


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Pumpkin Smackdown 2013 – Mutant Uterus

Here is my entry for the Pumpkin Smackdown 2013 Challenge.

I give you the Mutant Uterus.  You will note that the lining grows on the outside as well as the inside.  You will also note that it is dangerous, dark and inhospitable.  The ramifications of these facts are staggering:  it will take some kind of Chuck Norris/Luke Skywalker-grade spawn to make a home in this mother.  Ergo, when it does produce children, they will be extremely badass.  Bring it.

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look what they’ve done to my song

I don’t generally take to this blog to talk about these kinds of things, but since I’m off Facebook, this is my outlet ;)

I stumbled across this video while looking for old Dolly Parton performances (yes, I do things like that).  And I was struck by the artistry and talent of this young woman.  This is a cover, but the lyrics are oddly prescient.

This video has about 3 million views to the 250-odd million that her more notorious videos have.  It makes me think. If we all clicked on, talked about, wrote about, paid money to see – this, this is likely what would prevail in pop culture.  Not that this is everybody’s taste – I’m just saying, if we celebrated artistry instead of stunts and autoexploitation, the industry would follow the dollar.  It’s oh-so-easy to jump on the judgement band wagon, but in doing so, we ratchet up the views on those videos that we’re clicking on just so we can shake our fingers at them, we generate buzz, we consume the paper-thin media coverage of these “events”.  In short, even as we complain, we make the very things we criticize profitable.

Brings to mind and old saying:

“I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

I’m not saying Miley wouldn’t still do her thang.  But she’d be free to do it for her own sake, not because an industry demands it, along with a nation of armchair critics, however unwittingly they do so.  And we’d be free to enjoy what’s good and just not freak out about what we don’t like.  That just all seems better to me.


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temporarily possessed

I had an interview this morning.  The first one I’ve had in years.  I’ve decided it’s time to move forward with my life.  I’ve been in a major holding pattern with this whole fertility thing, and given the fact that I’m giving my ovaries some time off, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get back in touch with who I am and what I have to offer the world (aside from valiant attempts at procreation).

So no, I’m not getting a new job.  Prior to doing that, I’m going to have to have lots of meetings with accountants and lawyers, secure office space, hire at least two people and get everybody lined up with benefits.  In short, boys and girls, don’t go into business with your husband on a start-up; quitting is super complicated.  But this is not that story.

What I did do was finally submit a volunteer application that’s been sitting on my desk for about six months.  I mailed it off on Wednesday and by Friday already had a call back.  It turns out that my timing was good.  The local youth homeless shelter is desperately in need of English tutors right now.

I miss working with students.  And not just speaking to auditoriums full of them like I was for the past couple of years.  I miss the one-on-one interactions, investing in kids, helping them see their potential, trying to find a creative way to get them excited about learning.  I have limited experience with this demographic of student, but I figure, these kids are in need of nurturing.  And I’m in need of someone to nurture.

Don’t get me wrong – I get it that this is not about my needs.  And I don’t have a messiah complex or anything.  I’m going to be tutoring students, not saving them.  And being as how I am now old, have maturity and a good sense of boundaries, I was not intimidated in the least when she asked me to take a test to gauge the appropriateness of my responses in a variety of potential scenarios.  No problemo.

Most of the questions I answered easily.  No, I would not give a youth my phone number if he asked for it.  No, I wouldn’t confront a staff member about a decision he or she made in front of a youth.  Yes, I probably would go to a student’s university graduation if she asked me to years later.  Then question number four came.  I discovered that my brain could not formulate an answer to it, so I skipped that one, finished the rest of them and went back to it and stared at it for a while.  I was still sitting there staring at it when the woman called me back to reality.  I said I had answered all but one question.  She said, “That’s fine, we can just talk through that one.”  Then she proceeded to read it out loud:

“If one of the girls you worked with were pregnant and asked you to raise her child because she had no support, would you agree to?  If yes, why?  If no, why not?”

Um, this was unexpected. Obviously, in terms of boundaries, this is by far the easiest question to answer.  I see that now.  But in the moment, all I could think about was that hypothetical baby.  I sat there in what probably looked for all the world to be silence, but what was really going on can best be described in seconds 1.36-2.44 of the following clip:

When I came to, as if a spell had been lifted, I simply replied, “I would work with the staff to find the appropriate resources for the student.”  Seriously, it wasn’t that hard.  But you really wouldn’t believe how far that obvious conclusion was from my brain for several solid seconds.  Holy crap.

Well, assuming no expectant mothers are foisting their children on me, I think we should be fine.  And even if they do, at least I’ve already worked through my response.  Now I just have to remember how to write an expository essay without the gratuitous use of run ons.  And fragments.  And I have to remember how to stay on topic.  Again, should be fine.


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juice, glorious juice

I bought a juicer at a Boxing Day sale last year and have – to my own great surprise and delight – been juicing ever since.

Right around 3 in the afternoon, that time when I start to crash, when I used to reach for a second caffeine of the day or grab some sugar to keep from slipping off into a comatose stupor, I now consume this:

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Ok – I consume half of it – when juiced, the above becomes this:

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Folks, it’s amazing.  You juice this stuff up and you feel like you can take on the world.  I work at home, so I have the luxury of quitting what I’m doing and taking the 20-odd minutes required to prep and juice these veggies and then clean the juicer.  I run one glass downstairs to my husband, who is usually on a call with a client and meets my arrival with a fist-pump of triumph, and then I drain my own glass, reveling in how awesome I feel before hitting the grindstone with renewed vigor.

It took a few weeks of juicing regularly for me to notice a difference, but now I’ve gotten to a point where I feel all wrong when I don’t do it.  And there are fringe benefits to juicing as well.  I used to shy away from buying vegetables in bulk because there’s only two of us, and I thought we’d never get through them.  Now, with the confidence that I can just throw things in the juicer if we don’t get around to cooking them, I’m a vegetable buying fiend.  I prep my refrigerated veggies in advance – washing the kale, and trimming and washing the carrots and celery and any herbs.  Non-refrigerated veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, citrus, etc.) are all within easy reach.  With all these vegetables at hand, I’m far more likely to throw some extras into whatever I’m making.  As a result, I find that we also consume far more vegetables in our meals now that we’re juicing.

People often ask me what my favorite juice blend is.  Um, I kind of just throw everything in there based on what nutrients I’m going for.  In the beginning it was occasionally very untasty.  I have learned from some mistakes over time and now follow a couple of rules of thumb to maximize my juicing experience:

  1. Just because it can be juiced doesn’t mean it should.  For example, never, under any circumstances, juice an onion.  Trust me.
  2. Get the most bang for your buck.  I find that most of the juice I get from kale comes from the stalks, not the leaves, so I pull the leaves off for salads and cooking, and I use the stalks for juice.  Similarly, I use the leafy parts of the celery and the stems of herbs for juicing, rather than throwing them out.
  3. Waste not.  In the beginning, I saved the juice pulp to add to soups, sauces, and even baking.  I have since failed to be that organized, although I do fertilize my herb garden with the pulp still.  It seems oddly cannibalistic, but my herbs seem to love it.
  4. Buy organic when possible, and wash thoroughly.  I soak all my veggies in a bowl with room-temperature water and a little baking soda before scrubbing and rinsing them.
  5. Juice really needs to have a little bit of a kick for it to taste good.  For that I use the following:
  •  green apples – you can often buy organic granny smiths at a reasonable price if you by them by the bag
  •  lemon or lime – again, reasonable if purchased in bulk
  •  a good-sized hunk of fresh ginger
  •  sweet bell pepper

Juicing is time consuming, but it has become ingrained into our routine now, and it makes us feel amazing.  I usually catch every bug that goes around, but this is the first year on record that I have held steady despite everyone around me dropping like dominoes as the brutal Canadian cold season sets in.

Just FYI, here’s exactly what went into the afternoon snack pictured above (and a by-no-means-exhaustive list of the health benefits of these ingredients):

  • 1 bell pepper (for eyesight, immunity, prevention of birth defects, cancer prevention, and regulation of blood pressure)
  • 1 lime (aids with digestion, immunity, and prevention of heart disease)
  • 1 lemon (immunity, detoxification, antibacterial, and antiviral)
  • 1 good-sized hunk of ginger (about 1.5″ X 1.5″) (aids digestion, boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, and fights cancer)
  • 3 stalks of celery (anti-inflammatory with over a dozen types of antioxidants)
  • 3 carrots (for eyesight, beautiful skin, and detoxification)
  • 1 granny smith apple (for regulated blood sugar and a steady heart rhythm)
  • 1 cucumber (cucumbers have most of the vitamins the body needs in a single day, and they fight everything from arthritis to bad breath)
  • A handful of Italian parsley (folic acid and heart health)
  • A few stalks of kale (anti-inflammatory, helps prevent blood clotting, and has more calcium-per-calorie than milk)

This particular blend was completely fabulous.  And I will probably never die. **


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freaking awesome cranberry sauce

High praise for my own recipe, but I call it like I see it.  Ok, truth be told, this isn’t my own recipe – my mom found it on the back of a bag of cranberries somewhere when I was a kid, and we’ve been making it for Thanksgiving and Christmas ever since.  It’s packed with fresh oranges, whole cranberries, antioxidants and zesty, tangy goodness.  And it’s easy to make.  Almost foolproof.  I say almost because ever since the year that my brother kind of made it into a cranberry-orange slurpee, it’s been my job to make it.

It’s been years since I’ve seen that original recipe, since I just do it by feel now, but as I recall, it called for way more sugar.  Over the years I’ve upped the orange juice concentrate levels to cut down the refined sugar.  In all honesty, I think you could eliminate the sugar altogether, but I know my audience, and they are not ready.  Cutting sugar by adding more orange juice changes the consistency (making it a little soupier and less like the relish it was originally), but it makes it healthier, and I think it improves the flavor.  That tart-sweet cranberry-orange combo is a powerful thing.

As I said, I usually just feel my way through this, but his time I tried to pay attention to quantities for your benefit, so without further ado:

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INGREDIENTS

1 Bag Frozen Cranberries (600 g – or 21 oz)

3 Oranges (washed, ends cut off, and cut into quarters)

1 can (295 ml – or 10 oz) Orange Juice Concentrate

1/4 cup (or 60 ml) sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Blend a few orange wedges (peels and all) and a cup or so of cranberries in the food processor then remove them and place them in a bowl.  Continue the process with the remaining orange wedges and cranberries until they are all thoroughly chopped (but not pulverized).  Then add the orange juice concentrate and sugar to the bowl and stir thoroughly.  (This time I just added the orange juice and sugar to oranges and cranberries in the food processor – which just makes everything a little soupier, if that is your preference.)

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This will make enough to feed all your relatives and give you some left over to spread on your turkey sandwiches.  You’re welcome.

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