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Back to food! Ahh…..another beautiful, cool morning in Kansas. I started with opened windows, sitting in bed, reading news, blogs, and emailing family. Yesterday I eventually moved to the patio-type thingy in the back yard. Where I moved on to a food vice of mine: BBQ potato chips. Really. Sad, huh. I also had a few cashews in the bowl, and I’m thinking two squirrels wanted me to leave so they could grab them. They truly seemed to covet my ‘shews. The both twirled around the tree, ending up several times just above my head on a tiny little limb. Fussing. Just looking at me and fussing loudly. And let me tell you, the last squirrel needed to do like me and quit yearning for so much food and stop long enough to do a few sit-ups. Seriously, people, major belly issues going on. In truth, there was also some sisterhood going on. Would have high-fived her if I could have shimmied up the tree.

Earlier this week I made a few totally brilliant meals. There was my fabulous beet and apple salad and freshly grown okra (from our own K-State students’ garden.). The only thing I had to change this time in the salad was adding praline pecans instead of my really fav maple syrup pecan pieces from the all famous People’s Grocery. There were no maple syrup pecans left in my little jar, so I just stopped by a convenience store walking on my way home from work and bought a small snack package of the praline.

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And the okra? Delicious as usual! I sauté them in a tiny little bit of canola oil on high heat. I would roast them without any oil, but going for less energy in this move. I vow to use just enough to keep them from sticking to the pan. And then there is sea salt sprinkled at the end. And now they are all gone. sad.

Oh yes! And there was a lunch that involved one-half a bagel, spaghetti sauce from a jar, freshly chopped green bell pepper and onion. Covered first with grated Parmesan cheese, then covered in gooey Mozzarella cheese! oooooh! See this romantic picture below with my little pizza lunch? All the candles? Yep! Cheese deserves a little romance. Love it!
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Another tasty dish was some of my homemade ‘tater soup. A little skim milk, a little whole milk. butter. onions. taters. And fresh jalopeños from the back yard. Only I did not use enough to get the heat I like. I’m really not proficient at using fresh jalopeños and still need to work on how to adjust the amounts, so I add a few dry red pepper flakes each time I prepare a bowl. I also added some teeny tiny chopped carrots, boiled in a little water, and all of that poured into the soup as well. So that maybe I get some of the nutrients I have boiled out of the carrots into the water. I even had a bowl of this creamy, heaty goodness for breakfast yesterday. Now it’s all gone. 😦

The pièce de résistance came today when my food bud Tara C. invited me to her place for lunch, and let me tell you it was quite a feast! There was good music on the computer and great conversation to start. Then we sat down to a meal of green chicken salad. Yes, “gulp”, green. I never wanted to eat any of Sam’s green ham, much less green chicken! But she assured me it was the avocado and touch of wasabi in the mixture that made it green. And we had pink apple salad to go with the sandwich. Seriously. She assured me it was yogurt (I think) that gave it the pink color. And some nuts and cream cheese. And olives to dive in for! Ooohh how I like a good olive! And a lettuce salad with goat cheese. Blueberry muffin. A culinary delight for sure!
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Good thing I walked there and back because I really stuffed myself. Fantastic break in my day, but now it is back to work!

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Welcome to our new year!

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been a wonderful day for me. I’ve played on the computer, watched a good movie (Office Space) some of the students at work recommended to me, visited with my neighbor for a bit, shared some of my beet/apple/goat cheese salad with him, and watched junk TV I recorded earlier in the week. I cannot remember the day I did so little of nothing. It was absolutely fantastic! Plus, the cold I brought back with me from Virginia has proven to be very mild. Thank goodness!

Last night was fun, too. Tara C. came to eat supper with me and there I sat, for over two hours, good conversation and good food. Even if I prepared it, and even if the meat was a little tough (should have slow cooked it for about another 45 minutes I think), it was a wonderful evening. First we ate Greek salads with lots of feta. Then I served the roast cooked with onions, carrots and parsnips. I had never cooked parsnips with my roast, but that’s a keeper of an idea! Scrumptious! I fixed green beans with a little thyme and red wine, all thrown in with onions and mushrooms previously sautéed with lots of butter. I boiled potatoes and served with garlic butter and parsley flakes. A little red wine, of course. And for dessert I made those simple lemon tarts I’ve mentioned before. I just hope she enjoyed the evening as much as I did.

She left before 9:00pm to meet more friends, I cleaned the kitchen, and fell into bed pooped out and was asleep by 10:00pm. Yep. Slept right through to the new year. I enjoyed it, too. The library has been opened this week and we have been a little busier than I expected. I’m glad we were there for the faculty and researchers who try to come when parking is a little easier. Even though there were people there needing our services, it was still rather quiet and a good time to get tasks completed and my desk cleaned. Well, maybe not cleaned, but it looks better than it did before I left for my Christmas vacation!

As I look at this past year and forward to 2009, I think about my blessings. A job I really like. The ability to help people find the information they need. A small apartment that is dry and cozy and safe and easier to keep at a comfortable temperature because it is not very big. A family that I love and to whom I feel very close, even though we are many miles apart. Friends in many places: Virginia, North Carolina, Kansas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and elsewhere. The ability to read a good book. And on and on.

This coming year I want to do good things, not just for my career, but for those around me. I believe I’m in a position to do just that if I stay focused. But even while I’m trying to stay focused and keep up with the world around me, I sure look forward to more moments of goofing off and watching junk TV!

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This morning I skipped my coffee at home and scurried to the coffee shop to read the news from various sources on the web – New York Times, CNN, Al Jazeera (English version, naturally), BBC, and of course Topeka. I bought a slice of banana nut loaf for breakfast – I think it is important to start the day with some fruit, and banana is a fav of mine. So this fruit had a few more calories and fat and sugar than normal, but this laptop is heavy and I lugged it TO the coffee shop this morning and then BACK home from work this afternoon. Surely I burned an extra eleventy gazillion calories. Don’t ya think?

When I wasn’t reading at the coffee shop, I talked to a few friends, and one (a professor on campus) spoke with me about research and writing, and I think I got a few good tips to get me through (or over) this large bump in my work right now. One wonderful aspect of this city is just about everywhere I turn there is a friend ready to help.

Lunch was cheap but boring. I fixed a cheese sandwich and took a can of not-so-tasty soup to heat up in the staff lounge. Dinner consisted of corn chips heated in the oven with shredded Pepper Jack cheese and some of those yummy black beans with raw onion and a little organic tomato salsa I bought from my little co-op grocery. Even though the salsa was great, I also sliced a fresh tomato from Saturday’s farmer’s market. Heaven! For dessert I had my favorite – an ear of corn. More heaven!

Boy I’m pooped! I’m sitting in the bed trying to stay awake ten more minutes, and the kitty is settled and staring at me with that “look”. She gets very disgusted when I don’t do things the way is wants. Someone tell her I’m shutting up now!!

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