Wedding Anniversary #3!

October 19 was our third wedding anniversary. Yay us! Due to a lot of circumstances we could not both have the day off and we ended up having separate plans in the evening, so we celebrated Saturday with an epic road trip.

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I’m a fan of road trips with an arbitrary destination and plenty of adventure, so I chose our destination based on the fact that we had never been there and that there is a restaurant that gets good reviews in the town. (More on the dining in another post.) The winner was Peñasco, NM! And us for that matter. It was a stunningly beautiful road trip. If I had taken pictures of every gorgeous sight I beheld Saturday I would have been stopping us for photos every five minutes or so.

One thing that did take both of our breath away was this beautiful and functional piece of acequia engineering:

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The wooden viaduct carries the water over the ravine and into underground passages in the hillside. I’d love to find out how long this system has been in place.

After lunch we went looking for the Harding Mine and we were unsuccessful, but we did spend a lot of time traipsing around in the piñon forest between Peñasco and Dixon. The air was crisp and clear and the piñon were all over the ground. We collected enough for a snack and some pretty rocks as consolation for not finding the mine, then went on our way back to Santa Fé.

We had reservations later in the day, but found ourselves with some time to wander around. Lately, I find myself so tired of the Plaza, which basically means that I will need to have a plan when visiting the City Different in the future. With plenty of museums, galleries, and restaurants I think it won’t be an issue, but it will take a bit more planning. This also may encourage Dave and I to do more exploring in other towns, which is in no way a problem for us. We did wander around the area just outside the Plaza though and I found this fun art installation that I just had to get in on.

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We went and got a drink and a snack in an unremarkable, but quiet, hotel bar in the area before proceeding to our next destination.

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At Meow Wolf we had a whole new sensory experience which wove performances and interactions into the already astoundingly amazing space. I still find myself a bit at a loss for words to describe what happens at Meow Wolf, but I’ll attempt a few based on my own experiences. I have sat in Baba Yaga’s hut, painted part of a painting that I never saw the end of, received information from a giant raven, learned things about a family that has been transported to another dimension, played a harp with no strings that still makes sound, and spent hours grinning from ear to ear as I discover the layers and layers of art and magic that have been created in this place. I still cannot describe it in a way that I feel preserves the beautiful mystery of the place and entices people who want to know why they should be interested. I’m not sure that will ever change, but I’m going to keep telling people to go and exp

 

Gatos y Galletas: Review

This weekend Dave and I were out and about running errands and such when we found ourselves sweltering and thirsty downtown. Seriously the temperature was up around 90. UGH! After cooling off and using the facilities in the lobby of the Hyatt we began to make our way home to do some chores and take some naps. As we were driving up Central Dave suddenly pulled over and parked. “Uh, what’s up?” I asked. “We’re gonna check out the cat cafe,” he replied. And so we went to Gatos y Galletas.

The set up is a bit confusing the first time you go there. It is required by health regulations that all food prep be kept seperate from animals, so you have to enter through the door on the left first. In the cafe you can order from a menu of food and drinks. Its all pretty standard cafe fare. I had an iced chai and Dave had an iced cappuccino. We also opted to pay the additional $3 to go hang out with the cats because isn’t that the point? The $3 goes to the care and feeding of the cats who are all very cute. My chai was from a pre-sweetened concentrate and tasted as one would expect. Dave reports that his cappuccino was good.

But enough about the cafe, let’s talk about the CATS! Rather, let’s talk about Murphy. Of course I fell for the grey cat. And he is a handsome little bugger. See?

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No, we are not in the market for a third cat right now. Two is just fine thank you. Also Soos and Azrael are still working things out. It was fun playing with him though. Dave is a semi-pro riler of domestic animals and he got all the cats very wound up. Apparently they are usually asleep midday, but they were running all over. It was fun to play with them.

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I’m hesitant to say this next bit, but this wouldn’t be an honest review without it. I’m not sure this model of cat adoption works for me. The area was too big and, while Murphy was really cute and sweet, I didn’t want to take him out of the environment. He seemed to be having so much fun. The other thing I wasn’t fond of was interacting with the staff person on the cat side. Unlike the normal coffee house experience where you get your coffee and sit quietly and chat with your companion this person was very chatty and not just about the cats. If you go I recommend doing what the other patrons did and taking a seat in one of the outlying areas until you suss out whether the employee is bored and chatty or not.

All in all I say go to Gatos y Galletas. It is a unique experience and playing with the cats is seriously fun. If you fall in love with one or more of the gatos they are all up for adoption and, of course, I encourage you to take one home with you.

Sunday, Busy Sunday

The epic recovery from remodeling continues. Sunday that guy I like and I worked on getting my dressing room back in order. It feels funny to say the phrase “our art collection,” but the truth is we have a pretty cool little collection of art that we like by and from people we love. We basically have more than we can hang at one time, which is a lovely problem to have. Our first task was to hang art. After a few hours in which our conversations consisted of the question “Here?” we had several pieces up. While that was going on I was also arranging my epic boot collection and hanging more of the clothing that had been put in storage.

After the push to get some of our backlog cleared we still wanted to prep for the week and take care of lunch for ourselves. For lunch I made soutzoukakia out of ground buffalo and served it over pearl couscous. Instead of dry white wine, which we lacked, I used our dry plum mead. It was super yummy and we devoured it before I even thought of getting a picture. Ah well.

To prep for the week Dave made bread and practiced his shortbread technique. The pantry challenge is still on at 4th Base and so far we have only run out of alliums (garlic and onions), vegetables we eat raw, and bread products. Though we have the freezer about 1/2 empty we’ve still got a lot of food. I’m still considering this a fun challenge though! The only reason I haven’t been sharing many of the results is that I keep forgetting to take pictures. *headdesk*

We are almost out of cheese! While this could be a terrifying situation I’m excited because it means we get to work on developing the 4th Base Creamery. One of the first cheeses we might make is Queso Fresco and when we have more queso fresco we will probably make this “Charred Mexican Zucchini” again (with a few small tweaks). I doubled the recipe and instead of needing 6 tbs to coat the squash I used 2 and I think that instead of mayonnaise I would probably use yogurt or sour cream to bind the cheese. I’m all for full fat food, but this dish doesn’t need much to be amazing.

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We also had a couple of failures in the kitchen. Dave attempted a pickle bread to use up some of the copious amounts of pickle juice I’m compelled to save (its so yummy). I tried making savory palmiers from puff pastry that may have been too old to work correctly. Ah well.

We got a whole lot done, but, as is often the case with big tasks, I’m still overwhelmed. My personal mantra right now is “the best things take time.”

All is Not Lost!

Anyone who has been following along with the 4th Base 2016 garden struggles knows that I have all but given up on making things work. Last week I even turned off the watering to most of the rows. The things that are thriving, grapes, mint, gojiberry, tarragon, and chard interspersed with volunteer cilantro, are all still getting water. Because the row of chard is double sided and the second side was empty I decided to try an experiment, I did a fall planting of peas back in early August.

IT WORKED!

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All is not lost! I mean, I knew that already of course, there have been perennial successes, but this is the first thing I’ve planted in 2016 that wasn’t an utter fail. Now that things are cooling I predict about a month, maybe longer, of growth and production. I will be planting fall peas again next year.

Fall Means Chile

With our freezer full and our on-going pantry challenge in effect we are not buying any 2016 chile. It turns out I may be a local now, because this is emotionally difficult for me. *sigh* Fortunately I have a few bags of frozen green and red still in the deep freeze, so we might survive. I keep telling myself “There’s always Bueno.”

In the meantime I’m trying not to hoard the chile we do have. Honestly I don’t keep many recipes involving green chile. For me, cooking with green is pretty intuitive: chopped green on beans, chopped green on eggs, chopped green on pizza, you get the idea.  Every once in a while, though, I’ll save something just to remind me to try something new the next time I’m stuck for ideas. Recently I found myself wanting to use up bread and eggs. Bread pudding came to mind, but I wanted savory, not sweet.

Enter Green Chile and Tomato Casserole, with a few modifications of course. First, I used roasted instead of fresh. Second, I used reconstituted dried tomatoes because garden fail and also I have lots of dried. Third, I just used regular bread because gluten free isn’t needed in our house. Even with all the modifications this is some yummy stuff. I mean it would be really hard to go wrong with it, but still, one always wonders.

I also think this is a great template for future savory bread pudding experiments. The formula is as follows:
2 cups bread
4 cups veggies or other flavorful bits6 eggs
1 cup milk
2 oz cheese

I’m thinking I’ll use this template to make a blue cheese mushroom version and probably a french onion version. YUM! What combinations can you think of? Let me know in the comments. ^_^

Wow!

Then:

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Now:

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I’m going to go ahead and guess that it has been thirty years between then and now. It was so amazing to see you this evening Katie. I’m so blessed to have had a hand full of friends for most of my life and especially lucky that they are such awesome people.

The Games I Play

I’ve never thought of myself as a gamer. Sitting in a dark room with a headset yelling at a screen (or my friends) just isn’t my jam. Oddly, watching other people play video games has interested me in the past, but I think that might mostly be about people watching. However, recently I’ve found myself spending a lot of time attending to two video games: Habitica and Ingress.

Have I become a stereotypical pasty gamer, living on Mountain Dew and Cheetos? Not by a long shot, both of these games help me meet my life goals which have basically nothing to do with sitting on a couch.

Habitica is an RPG that gives players points for completing tasks that they set up for themselves. With those points, in the form of gold, players can reward themselves with outfits and weapons for your character. Additionally your points can help you defeat monsters in cooperation with a party in the game. The game also gives you eggs and potions that you can put together to make pets, and food that you can feed them so that you can grow them into mounts which your character can ride. Visually, this game is not much to look at. The pictures are pixelated and all the fighting is left up to your imagination. What is exciting about Habitica for me is that I’m really bad at rewarding myself. All the rewards I can think of that I would give myself generally take money, time, or energy, things which I generally want to be spending on working toward meeting goals, completing projects, and forming better habits. Rewards in Habitica come to me automatically when I check things off my list and that doesn’t take me more than a few minutes a day. The game is also free, so getting rewarded doesn’t cost me a thing. (Although I do donate $5 a month because I love what they do.)

Ingress also helps me meet one of my major goals, which is to get more exercise. Game play in Ingress is based on using your cell phone as a scanner to view an alternate reality in which locations with cultural significance are portals that two teams are vying for control over. In order to take control of a portal you have to be at its physical location. While this can be achieved from a vehicle, the game is best played on foot. It helps that one of the medals you can get as an extra incentive is for walking. Officially I’ve been playing ingress since 2012, but in reality I took a bit of a break and just started playing again two months ago. In that time period I have walked 103 km while playing and I just earned my silver “Trekker” badge yesterday. By the time I get my Onyx badge, and I will because rewards motivate me, I will have walked a total of 2500 km while playing. By playing Ingress I have seen new parts of my city as well as parts of places I visited that I might never have seen.

It is clear to me that the developers of these games have hit upon some new formulas for gaming that appeal beyond the regular scope of who is considered a gamer and I’m super glad they did.

*BTW if anyone is interested in playing Ingress, let me send you an invite and encourage you to join the Resistance (blue). I’m not out to recruit you with this post, but I do get points if I do. 😀

Abundance: Use It or Lose It

Usually at this time of year life is filled with a feeling of needing to save the garden’s abundance for later. Endless hours of canning, steam juicing, filling the freezer, grabbing a snack, and doing it again fill my time when I’m not sitting at my desk feeling behind. This year though, I find myself in a different situation. Mostly, my larders are full and the garden just didn’t happen. This poses a different “problem.” I’m feeling like there is too much food in my house. Just like eating too much, I’m feeling slowed down by what is there. It is good food though and I don’t want to just throw it away. Clearly it is time for a pantry challenge.

This time instead of setting a time limit on how long the challenge lasts I’ve set the challenge to not buy foods of Type X until all existing instances of that food are used. For instance, no buying grains or grain products until all the whole grains, pasta, and flour we’ve got around are used up. The exceptions I’m making are: onions, garlic, milk for yogurt making, and we can still eat out on our weekly date night, or if there is an occasion that calls for it involving people who do not live at 4th Base. For the record, That Guy I Like is completely on board and even sat down to help me lay out the rules.

We started on Saturday and here are some of the meals what we’ve had so far:
20160916_220237Cheese toast topped with tomatoes.

20160917_080933Beet hash topped with an egg (not photogenic, but delicious).

20160918_083906Country ham, scrambled eggs with cheese, and homemade English muffins with butter.

Not pictured: Bean Burgers, which were so good we gobbled them up before pictures could be captured. Several ready made snack foods pulled from the pantry, and rice.

I’ll keep posting roundups of what we’re eating. I’m sure things will get weirder as this self-imposed challenge goes on.

Simply Dinner: Tostadas

I’ve been working on a repertoire of quick, reasonably healthy, dinners involving beans. The tostada is definitely one of the winners. Today our tostadas consisted of homemade refried beans, pickled peppers, chopped tomatoes, olives, and shredded cheddar. It all came together in about ten minutes and was delicious and filling. Some other options I thought about were sauteed swiss chard, beans, and a fried egg, or beans, salsa verde, and cotija cheese. If you think you’ve never had a tostada before, but you have had a “Mexican Pizza” from Taco Bell, then think again. You have definitely had a tostada.

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Collage of a Dream

I have not yet figured out the magic of taking pictures of my collages and this one has not even been laminated yet, so I guess sharing this poor quality photo will have to do.

Hey! I dreamed about this amazing place last night, so I made a collage that kinda comes close. Here’s a picture of the collage. I’m curious what you think and I can take the feedback. If you’ve got something to contribute then definitely comment. Also, I’m looking for ideas on how to best photograph collages.

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