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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Banana Streussel CoffeeCake

I heard late in the month a snippet about it containing National Banana Bread day. Sure enough we missed it folks it was the 23rd.

Never the less a girls' gotta have a go two banana bread recipe in her reportage right?

My favorite straight forward recipe calls for 5 bananas. There was an incident once in my kitchen with one of those banana hooks you can hang from a cabinet in your kitchen, a microwave settled at a 45 degree angle and gravity.

Where that frugal savvy girl is I would like to know because the idea of throwing them away never entered my head. It probably helped that there were no bugs and no mold to deal with.

I hit the web for a recipe that would use them all up at once and found a hearty one. With nuts if you please.

For more of a specialty especially if I am going to an event, or when I just have 2/3rds a cup of mashed bananas on hand:

First you make the streussel. You must work the dough part of this with your hands not a mixer or utensils etc.

1/2 Cup Butter softened
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 3/4 Cup Flour

Set aside 1/4th of the sugar. Cream the butter with the rest of the sugar. When fully mixed add 3/4 a cup of the flour. Now use your hands to mix that all in.

When you wash your hands to get ready to prepare this recipe I recommend you clean out under neath your finger nails. I do at least. Just a friendly tip. This is messy but rewarding.

Set aside a 1/2 cup of this new mixture or dough.

To the remainder add the sugar you saved out from when you measured.

1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Large Eggs

Beat to smooth. Now sift together the flour remaining from your measurements with:

1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoons Cinnamon

Combine:

2/3 Cup mashed banana
1/3 Cup Buttermilk or soured milk

Then combine this mixture with the egg mixture alternating with the dry mix.

When all items are incorporated you are ready to pour into a prepared pan.

10in buttered pie pan recommended. I use glass trays or sometimes loaf pans. A nice squared pie pan is good. Whatever you have will work.
When the mixture is in the pan again with your hands take the sugar butter mix and crumble it over the pan. Depending on temperature and other issues it might be very coarse and dry. Most of the time for me it is more moist than a play dough.

Odd shaped droplets of it fall from my hands and fingers creating design on the top of the cake.

Bake at 375 for around 30-40 minutes. The cake will test done.

Streussel is not crumb topping. It cooks up more like moist cookie dough. It gives the finished product a two toned effect both to the eye and the pallet.


I hope the directions were not too complicated. Even if so this dessert is very much with a little bit of hassle. Serve with coffee or tea and find a Scrabble partner. Yum!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Growing A Salad

It was probably 2005 the year I decided to try my hand at gardening. While I was reading about how to manage my space another idea came into view.

Having not grown up with a mom who had flowers, herbs or plants anywhere around my dad’s gardens had been more industrial.

Rows of corn 

A strawberry patch that eventually took over the back fence section of the yard for years to come. 

A couple of other random items staked out here and there.



Decide the elements you want to harvest. 
Co plant them around items that will repel their pests and deter other issues common to them.


I have an organic crunchy all natural streak if you have not been able to tell thus far along the ride as a blog viewer.

I guess the casual observer could just think ditching shampoo and antiperspirants, (not deodorant all together) being an unschooling, home schooling, single, mamma might mean counter culture. 

Then it all changes making you wonder if I am more of a fad hag. Maybe people totally get it and I just feel disjointed. That happens more than perhaps I would like to admit. 

So yes I wanted a no digging, no weeding, garden with no pesticides. All this from a young woman who does not like the taste of most vegetables. In recent years adding, as they have been so far presented to me. I like to think there is hope for me. Until there are more studies about us Supertasters.

I am finding that in some cases, it is, all about the how of prep and presentation. I like carrots but more raw than cooked. The main way I ingest peas is in split pea soup. 

My favorite natural non fruit things to eat are tomato (yes I know but you understand) corn and potato. 

We grew up without garlic. It is one thing my mother could not stand. Now I can appreciate its benefits but I use it more medicinally than in meals. It seems like there was appreciation for cooked spinach when I was a child. 

Cabbage was always non offensive on the plate. Now I make a nice sandwich with the dark leaf but have never made coleslaw. Maybe I should try that.

Meanwhile for my next garden I like this idea for the lineup:

Celery~Cucumber ~Sunflowers
Spinach
Pumpkin
Cosmos~Snapdragons

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lasagna Gardening

I did not grow up with plants in my house. My mother says she has a black thumb meaning she can kill cacti. It is not as hard as you might think. I bought a tiny novelty one once. I put it on a high shelf in my house that my cat could not reach.

I watered him and thought of (it) him, the cactus, for a while but then…I forgot and he died. OUCH 

With this as a background it was 30 years before I decided to try my hand at gardening. Moving back home and having the largest backyard on the block helped spur on inspiration.

The backyard looked like a jungle all over grown and unkempt. My mother is allergic to grass so the front yard had rocks and a fountain…
What to do when you have no idea what to do or want a new solution to an age old problem? Get new information. I hit the web and then the library.

A fascinating concept met my searches. A garden with no weeding! The concept is simple:

Smother the weeds and grasses you 
would otherwise have to clear away.

Plant directly on top of the smothered material with potting soil or biodegradable containers that will disintegrate. 

Water and care for your plants as usual. 

Wait
Harvest
Enjoy!

Wow I was intrigued. The details made sense. You smother the existing plant material in wet layers of newspaper and or cardboard and paper bags. 

This general concept goes by many names: 

Layer Gardens
Sheet Composting
Container Garden

The latter processes are good for people living in cramped quarters like apartments with no yard.

When you layer properly you have enough material covering the existing plant growth so as to block out sun light. If you are covering a large area and do not sufficiently overlap the edges you will get weeds along the cracks just like weeds growing through cracks on the side walk.

Having yard space covered in lush unwanted foliage is a good indication that your yard gets adequate sun and water. It also lets you know a little about your soil quality. 

The more you know about gardening or specific you want to get about what you are planting there are soil tests and additives you can investigate and try out.

It felt good to know nothing in my yard need go to waste for me to create a produce center. It was the closest thing I have done to composting. The idea had been to organically plant a handful of things. My dreams were luscious. My results were a little less so. Well not according to the slugs and snails.


They loved the bushy heads I raised. My carrots looked weird. My beet and peas tasted nice. I think the corn got squashed and sadly the strawberries and tomatoes did not come out at all. 

Total farmer gardener ignorance and error there. The weather was nice and I cannot blame the former infested grounds. We would have tried again in subsequent years but things transpired...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Wild Weekend Pt 2

Brian Continues... 

The cab drives us about 3 blocks to a cluster of motels and not too far away another hotel. First motel has no vacancies. Second motel has no vacancies... wait... someone just cancelled the room with no heater.

We take the room and an extra blanket offered. All we have with us is a plastic garbage bag with a couple of waters and energy drinks I pulled from the car before we locked it up, another plastic grocery bag with some playing cards and one or two items in it, plus what's in a pouch and our pockets.

The room was clean but the bed was uncomfortable. Nonetheless, we got enough sleep to face the next day which started off okay. No razor, no deodorant... but thanks to the motel, we did have soap and shampoo.

We also lucked out and got a minimal but sufficient continental breakfast bar. Deciding we could both use a little exercise, we decide to walk from the motel to Pep Boys. It is now that I realize that walking along a city avenue, carrying a couple of plastic grocery bags at 8ish in the morning might make us appear to be homeless.
I begin making mental entries in the imaginary journal of a couple...

"First day being homeless. Bellies full. Don't think we'll have to walk too far today."

"Day two being homeless. Found grocery cart alongside road." Really, we did find a shopping cart - the folding kind that is taller than they are long for private use, alongside the road.

We get to Pep Boys and get things rolling. Like a bad good news/bad news joke we get a series of alternating good news and bad news.

Good news - problem is alternator (which we suspected) and that's an easy fix.

Bad news - don't have the right one in stock.
Good news - we have sources to get them from even on a Sunday.
More Good news - one of the sources had two in stock.
Bad news - not really.
Good news - the last source has one.
Bad news - they don't deliver.
Good news - service manager will go pick it up.
Bad news - it'll cost more.
Good news - its only a few dollars more.

Okay, so now we have free time. We also need a couple of items including a car charger for at least one phone. WalMart almost right next door. Problem solved.

More time to kill now, so we play hand and foot in the Pep Boys waiting area, much to the amusement of several other customers.

The drive home is uneventful and pleasant.

Yeah for the simple pleasures in life. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This concludes my first guest post and first two parter. I have interesting friends as you can now see. I look forward to featuring more from them and other strangers I encounter this year. Keep watching!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Wild Weekend PT 1

My very first semi guest poster. One of my friends was sharing about his wild weekend and I asked him if I could post it here for all of you. He does not have a blog or want a ton of looky loo's swooping in on his social networking pages so that is about all I will say.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Brian writes... 2/18/2012

Tonya and I decided to take a day trip to Bodega Bay Saturday. Early plans were to get up early and spend a good portion of the day there. Of course as in the famous Styx song, "Nothing ever goes as planned."

Last minute errands meant we left much later than we wanted to. The drive there was uneventful. I was driving and had noted that the gas was lowish, but figured I would gas up once we arrived unless the low fuel indicator came one at which point we would stop at the next available station. Word of warning – DO NOT DO THIS. 

We went about 30-40 miles after the light did indeed come on, and only were able to gas up once we got there.

We also had only a little over an hour of sunlight left by this time and less than that by the time we found a spot recommended by a local, Goat Rock. Beautiful ocean coast, and cold enough to make even a leather jacket seem like inadequate preparation.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed a few minutes on the beach before retreating to the car with rosy cheeks and noses.

I got two pictures before the camera died. 

About half way between Bodega Bay and Highway 101, the electrical system light came on. Being nowhere near a garage of any sort, he kept going. Then just before we got to 101, pulling up to the stop light just across from the 101 entrance, the car stalled as my foot was headed to the brakes.

Flashers on.
Out of the car.
Cell phone out.
Look up roadside service number.
Call - put on hold - then a live person...
Cell phone dies.
No problem - 2nd cell phone - phone dead -- okay, I take back the "no problem."

Neither of us brought car chargers, being as we were just going on a day trip, and it wouldn't have mattered since the car battery was dead.

Waving down passersby... no, no, yes.

Used good Samaritan's cell phone to call roadside service.

Just as we started to call 911 due to car being still in road (and on a slight incline) a CHP arrived on the scene and stopped.

He was very nice he pushed us to the side of the road and waited with us till the tow truck arrived. We decided to have him drop us at the Pep Boys in Rohnert Park. They had Sunday hours posted online using the tow truck driver's smart phone.

Shortly, we arrive in Rohnert Park and the car is dropped in the Pep Boys parking lot. There's a hotel across the street. Papers signed, off we go on foot to the hotel... which has no vacancies. We did not use their phone directly, but the attendant did call us a cab. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

9 Leadership Points

This post is going to break my rule on 500 word count. However it is part of such a huge topic I am sure you will not mind. Further I am leaving it open if for my readers to add to it.


I will give you nine of my points. You add a point. If I get 12 impressive points we can do a link up and I will host your point with a link back to your blog or web site in a future post. I guess that means you will have to comment and subscribe to comments, check back and be at the ready to email me the info I will need if all goes well.

Good thing it is the weekend right? Come on smile, that was a mini joke.

Now for the tips. This comes out of my own head as well as a class I just finished and a few other things. Who or what inspires your thoughts on leadership?

1) You are a spark a light a catalyst and an answer to a question somewhere.
 
2) Vet criticism.

3) All you need is a soap box and a voice to get started.

4) People in need want someone to follow. 

5) You do not have to know it all. Good thing too because that is impossible.

6) Surround yourself with people who excel in your weaknesses.

7) Go for peace and progress not control and glory.
 
8) If you can see the problem you might be the one designed to create a solution.

9) No Jealousy.

 Think of the animal kingdom. No not the survival of the fittest. The part where every different creature has a different purpose and function even different creatures in the same species.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

$TRESS


A fellow blogger confessed he was under a financial crunch for the first time in his life. I can only dream about such an idea. (Warning his blog is not always...PG...)

My story is more pitted financially. I live a simple life on the edge. Of course I guess it is thus to be expected that once in a while I slip off. This week was just such a time.

The problem started…years ago? Definitely earlier this month if not last month or last fall.

Buying a car out right after Christmas spending just wiped out my winter budget. I thought it had wiped out the expendable expenses part of the budget. I felt like if I stretched here, pulled and pushed there etc. I could make it.

I was wrong. I had started preparing my daughter for a few lean months. No we cannot afford a new cell phone. Save for a few dollars to run across the street for thrift shopping we would acquire no new things. Baton down the hatches!!! 

I was only a few hundred dollars off and wouldn’t you know a debt over the amount that I was missing which is a year old looked like it would be repaid in time. Did that happen? No of course not.

Life goes on. I did find a little help. If only I can get the right paper work faxed over…fax??? I had previously never sent a fax. Then I sent one and it wasn’t detailed enough… Oh the joys right?

The best news might be that there is some hope in the tax realm for my student status. Of course that means doing my taxes which I thought I was going to avoid this year. Back filing??? IRS 1 800 line here I come.

The great news about that is at least last time I checked if you have the time to sit there and wait they will do everything but sign on the dotted line at the end filling out all the blanks and crunching all the numbers patiently with you.

Maybe it depends on the operator you get. There is nothing that says if you get someone you don’t seem to gel with you cannot call back.

If that works out I can be in the clear for another few months at least.
Meanwhile I am busy doing 12 college units and it is finals time. I have a teen daughter who started a kitchen fire as I was on my way to a church counseling class I am taking on Sundays.

The class means I will miss Brunch with the Sunday MeetUp group at the Cheese Cake Factory. GROWL Pout

I really have not even unpacked my new web address and the WordPress blog I signed up for last month. I am hoping it will be a platform for an ebook and the start of my literary career. If only I had an agent. This first book is a compilation that is already written and just needs to be compiled. Back to if I was not so busy!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Remembering Dad


I miss having a dad. Having living parents was like having a net under the high wire that is the life I am living. I lived my life very independently when I left home. I never wanted to look back or go back. Things were not horrible they were just not great in my opinion. I felt cared for but there is actually more to life. 

So I moved out to find myself and whatever else I could get out of the world.

I acquired a daughter and some cats, a place in the community. It was a glorious and powerful decade. If things had been different I would not have minded staying home. I am savvy and frugal. It’s a good deal for those who can make that transition successfully from dependent child to adult child without having to leave home.

If my mother had passed on first I would still be at home.

My dad was laid back and practical. We got along well. He was not overly demanding or nit picky. Dad was lenient but he had his limits. My mother swears I had him wrapped around my little finger. What gives? 

I know I had a special place in his heart. He wanted a boy my mom told me about what it was like being pregnant with me. My delivery went from zero to push so fast it caught the hospital staff off guard and my father missed it. He saw her first after I think it was and then made a trip to the nursery. At first there was disappointment she told me but by the time he had seen and met me we were bonded.

I grew up knowing he was my friend. He called me ½ pint back in those days. I was an A’s fan by default. They spent the first years of their marriage in Oakland California. He was originally from Oklahoma.

It is a crazy wild story. 5.5 years after I was born finally came my brother his son. Mom said dad was just as content as could be. We had a 4 bedroom house with the largest backyard in our neighborhood. They should have put in a pool. Yes black folks can swim. My mother being from an island ironically does not like water. She didn’t want a dog either. Sigh
 
Eventually my father would pay for one of my aunts to attend the same college I am now in. Formerly called Trinity now called Epic. Many years later they would house a cousin the same age as my brother for a few years. 2.5 kids was the national average back in the 80’s. Check hahhahaahha

He planted a garden with tomatoes, strawberries, corn and little yellowish round cucumbers. He helped me learn to drive. When I was about 8, he painted my room pink! Oh the joy. 

It has been six years. His memories died with him. I am glad he got to see the world and live peacefully with his wife and raising kids.

I don’t think he ever dreamed of much more. It’s a good life if you can get it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Library Speed Dating

I missed last year’s event. I think I heard about it after the fact. This year I signed up just in time to make the cut off for us females.

There was a nice turn out. Over all impressive and not at all disappointing. I wore a cute little sweater dress. Just modest enough for church and yet not something I could get lost in at all.

No not that one but that is me. Not this one either but enjoy the pic.

We looked like an office party. There were all ages and races, types and personalities. Many of us are in MeetUps together but had not met before.

As an extrovert this was a total buzz for me. Still the shuffling every four minutes can wear on a person.

I think I only had one slightly uncomfortable conversation. Not even because I did not like what I was hearing or we were talking about. Only one guy that I recall was in a t-shirt and looked a tad under dressed for the occasion.

Having not checked my email I will say nothing about the 2 or 4 guys I specifically checked boxes for. Some that I did not choose were simply eliminated by age or something else that is no reflection on their book choices and personality

Many of the attenders on the male side seemed to be my age and introverted plus maybe shy. A double whammy for the supposedly aggressive side of the species. 

I cannot feel too sorry for them however. My dad was a hermit and my mother a social butterfly but they found each other. A little prayer or star alignment and pro activity can go a long way.

I would not suggest the organizers filter any better I think for a random free speed dating event it worked out just right.

Would I do this again, of course. Mean while I expect to see a small jump in MeetUp activity. I know a couple of us talked to our matches about other groups we are in that they might want to check out. 

I saw a couple of books that I might like to look up. One about a diving adventure. A non fiction tale about, buried treasure to say it simply.

Book authors and titles were not repeated that I could tell. A few brought more than one book. No one I sat with had anything like mine. I did see a woman carrying a nutrition book that reminded me of a text from a class. Maybe she liked the cycling and running men.

A few author names that I remember:

Henry Cloud, I am a fan.

Stephen King, I was a fan.

Dr Laura, I can listen to her show until she starts beating some poor caller over the head with one of her ideas that I disagree with.

One guy I sat with talked almost as fast as I do. This is a feat only auctioneers can topple. I touched his hand. Another guy had interesting matching tattoos that I never got around to asking about. 

As a group the men had fascinating professions and hobbies or histories. I never go on dating adventures with my heart on my sleeve or my hopes too high. Not because I do not believe in love at first sight or random (seeming) fate.

Rather it is because I am a practical lass through and through. Not harmed at all by my reading of the classics of my own volition in my preteen years. LOL

For those who have pondered attending and event like this. I say go for it!

If you can navigate every day living you can put yourself out there for a scheduled event to meet new people and maybe someone special. The ladies I saw were all lovely, so no disappointments there.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Modern Day Slavery

 I keep seeing these links that say: This Sunday will a huge day for sex trafficking and modern day slave trading here in the United States of America.

The following are just a few links to organizations who can explain the global pandemic and are working to combat it.

Do something helpful. GO!

Sign Your Name Stand For Freedom



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