April 28th – “Well, life’s messy, and at least a mess is interesting.”

Mercury in retrograde has been causing many things in my life to be messy. I don’t know if it’s true, but for now, I’m going to blame it for the poor luck I’ve been experiencing!

I broke 6 dishes, spent a lot of money, got bitten by ton of mosquitoes, failed on tried and true recipes, didn’t do much writing, and got jury duty. I’ve only received jury duty once before, so for me it’s very unlucky! My mind has been more scattered than usual, so overall, it hasn’t been a great month.

There is about a week left of Mercury in retrograde (May 3rd to be exact), so I’m going to give in to it. I’m not making any plans to do anything new. There’s no sense in fighting it. If things get messy, so be it. The only thing I can hope for is to get a good story. So far, there hasn’t been anything noteworthy to mention.

Oh, I forgot about this: I thought I was going to get mugged/assaulted last week. Nothing happened, but I was creeped out and it takes a lot to scare me. I grew up in the city and have walked some of the seediest streets in the bay area. Usually my fast walking speed and directness (I have no problem telling strangers, “I don’t want to talk to you”) deters people. This particular incident encouraged me to get the pepper spray because the guy was hanging out at my uncovered parking spot watching me, and trying to get in my way. I will be returning to that space regularly and don’t want to take my chances.

I should consider myself lucky. Recently, two of my friends had to deal with the police because of random people harassing them. Another one was riding the train and a stranger punched her in the face for no reason. It’s like all the freaks are coming out at the same time. Yes, I am very lucky.

Mercury in retrograde sucks.

What is good to do when Mercury is in retrograde is to take care of unfinished business and get rid of old stuff (both real and metaphoric). I’ve been chucking things into my donation pile. That’s the easy part. The hard part is finishing those chapters. At this point, I don’t mind working hard. It’s much safer to stay at home than to be out in the world!

April 25th – “You’ll want your life to be straightforward and unadorned today, refreshingly free of flamboyancy.”

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California rolls are a staple here in the bay area. It is sushi, but it’s not fancy at all. Next to the cucumber and carrot rolls, it is one of the plainest roll there are. I had leftover rice in the refrigerator, so I made some quick sushi for lunch.

California Roll

1 ½ cup of cooked sushi rice

A few teaspoons of rice vinegar

Half a package of imitation crab meat, shredded or diced

¼ of an avocado

¼ of cucumber cut into thin logs

2 seaweed sheets

Sesame seeds (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, add vinegar to rice and mix until combined. The rice should be sticky, not dry. If it’s not sticking together, add a little bit of water.
  2. Using half the rice, spread a thin layer of rice onto a seaweed sheet, leaving two opposite (short) edges clean. Add sesame seeds.
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut the seaweed sheet in the middle.
  4. Place the cut sheet onto a piece of plastic wrap with rice side facing down.
  5. Add crab, avocado, and cucumber to middle of sheet.
  6. Roll the sheet starting from the side with the most rice. Tuck in filling while you roll. Once rolled, gently run your fingers over the roll to help it stick together.
  7. Take out of plastic wrap. Cut into pieces with knife by carefully “sawing” the roll. Recipe makes 4 logs of sushi.

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April 23nd – “Music, art, bold patterns and accessories—adorn your life with whatever makes you feel most joyful.”

 

I started the day off with a big serving of waffles. I made regular ones for my partner and had oat flour ones for myself.

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It’s excellent topped with Greek yogurt, berries, and maple syrup. I actually like it better than whipped cream!

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I like to eat mine like a sandwich.

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Oatmeal Waffles

¾ cup oat flour

1/ teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

3/8 cup soymilk

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup

A few dashes of cinnamon

 

Toppings: Greek yogurt, berries, real maple syrup

 

Directions:

  1. Throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together.
  2. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Cook in waffle iron.
  4. Top with Greek yogurt, berries, and maple syrup. This recipe makes about 1.5 waffle or 2 small ones. Perfect for 1 person. They’re softer than normal waffles, but has more flavor.

Here is the original recipe.

 

After breakfast, I did some reading. I finished The Haunting of the Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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and started on a collection of short stories by John Steinbeck.

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The two writers could not be more different. Jackson is obsessed with giant mansions and socially inept women who live in a world all their own (aka crazy women). Steinbeck is interested in the lives of ordinary folk (aka working class) who don’t live in big houses.

However, based on the two books I read, Jackson and Steinbeck do have some things in common. They are both great at creating vivid pictures of their characters and there is a strong element of violence that invades their stories.  In The Haunting of the Hill House, the story ends with the main character killing herself by purposefully driving her car into a tree. In 3 of the 4 short stories I’ve read by Steinbeck, one man falls to his death, a white quail is accidentally killed, and a scientist murders a cat and dissects its body.

After the cat story, I put the book down. Morbid or terrifying stories like these don’t bother me if they are written well. I enjoyed reading both writers, but I had enough time inside and wanted to get out into the sun!

In the afternoon, I went to the farmer’s market and bought more vegetable starts for the garden. I planted the starts and harvested rhubarb.

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They’re a bit thinner and longer this year, so I’ll need to split the plants up this fall to replant. When rhubarb plants have enough space to grow, their stalks grow thick. Tomorrow, I’ll use these rhubarb stalks to make mini pies! Stay tuned!

 

April 23rd- “The moon is sashaying through Pisces and your flamboyant fifth house, coaxing you to add more color to your world.“

My yard is wild and unkempt. In nearly every corner of the yard, you’ll find patches of weeds which help keep beetles, spiders, and other critters hidden from plain view. This doesn’t prevent colorful flowers from springing up.

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I clipped a few sprigs of color and brought them inside to enjoy for the rest of the day.

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April 22nd – “Treat yourself to some well-deserved decadence.”

 

Today’s the first day of eating normally again. I’ve been overeating for the past week and it must end! My body is rebelling and needs to recover.

I’ve been eating out a lot and not preparing my own meals. The most memorable meal so far was vegan sushi. It was sooooo good!

“The Candlestick” Roll: spicy bean curd, avocado, tapioca, cucumber, seaweed pearls, and fire. It was artistic, tasty, AND entertaining. Who doesn’t like sushi with a side of fire?!

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Coconut Green Tea Ice Cream: with fried banana, strawberries, and blueberry compote. The 3 of us shared one dessert. I won’t judge if you order one just for yourself!

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Last week, I also bought a box of buns. They were filled with egg custard, red bean, and bbq pork.

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My intention was to leave them in my freezer and take them out (one at a time) when I had a bun craving.  It turns out I have a bun craving every day! There are only 3 left.

It’s time I get back to making my own junk food.

I know it’s no longer pumpkin season, but I still have canned pumpkin in my pantry and I need more vegetables in my diet. I searched for some recipes and decided on this pumpkin cookie recipe that looks pretty healthy. It uses oatmeal instead of flour and has very little sugar. I substituted the processed sugar for maple sugar and used 100% (unsweetened) cocoa.

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This isn’t the most delicious (or sweet) recipe, but it did the job. The texture is cakey and it fills the void once occupied by the crispy creamy cloudlike buns.

Next time, I’ll replace the chocolate with apple juice sweetened cranberries or raisins. It’s perfect as a breakfast cookie!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie

Dry Ingredients

1 cup oat flour

Dash of salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

½ cup unsweetened chocolate

Wet Ingredients

½ cup of pureed pumpkin

1 egg

2 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoon maple sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix all wet ingredients.
  3. FOLD (not mix) wet ingredients into dry mixture.
  4. Let dough sit in refrigeration for about ½ hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Drop cookies into walnut sized rounds. Flatten.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes.

April 22nd – “It’s important for you to get into the earth today, so roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.”

We are well into spring here in the West Coast, so it’s time to fill the garden with tomatoes, peas, and broccoli.

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These green onions have been in the soil since fall. They didn’t get eaten in the winter because I was waiting for them to get bigger. I thought they were yellow onions! Doh! That wasn’t a problem because I love green onions! After I pulled them out, I used them right away for lunch.

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Green onions go well with just about any salty recipe. I use them for fried rice, rice soup, steamed fish, fried noodles, and to garnish meat.  Today, I decided to have them with chicken wings and a side of brussel sprouts.

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Soy Ginger Chicken Wings

Marinade

Soy sauce

Vinegar (or another acidic liquid like orange juice)

Garlic, diced or chopped

Ginger, diced or chopped

Honey

Garnish

Sesame seeds

Green onions, diced

Directions:

  1. Mix all marinade ingredients together. I don’t measure and just do it to taste.
  2. Add chicken wings to sauce and marinade in refrigerator for 15 minutes to 2 days. It’s totally fine if you don’t marinade it for a long time, but the longer you let it sit, the better it gets!
  3. Heat up a pan, add oil, and cook chicken wings for about 20 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.

April 19th – “You are determined to succeed, even if odds are stacked against you.”

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Little Rooks has been guarding his territory very well. Most of the wandering cats don’t come farther than the fence where the catnip pots are.

This cat looks like Little Rooks, but has a tail. His name is T.S. Eliot.

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Reggie is the only one brave enough to come to the cat door where Little Rooks sits, waiting for intruders.

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Rooks lost his catmates a few months back, so I’ve been trying to help him make new friends. He doesn’t like the roaming cats coming into the house, but I have gotten him to tolerate Reggie when they are outside.

I don’t know what Reggie’s diet is like so I give them both dental treats when he/she is visiting. They can now eat together!

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April 18th – “Remind yourself that nobody is a mind reader. If you’re not getting what you want, maybe you just need to ask!”

Directness is one of the qualities that those who are close to me appreciate. It’s also the thing that’s gotten me in trouble with people, so I’ve been trying to keep a low profile. I want to stay focused on my work until the end of June. I don’t have energy to deal with the repercussions of my directness, so I’m doing the best I can to let things slide. That is proving to be much easier said than done.

Mercury has been in retrograde since April 9th. If you believe in such things, which I suspect you might if you’re reading this blog, it means that life may be a little harder to navigate. It’s generally not a good time to sign contracts, make decisions, start something new, etc. Basically, things will not turn out well! For fun, I checked the calendar in 2013. Mercury was in retrograde when I applied for and started at the Worst Job Ever. I should have known better!

My monthly horoscope cautions that, “Mercury is retrograde in Taurus and your partnership house until April 20th, which could muck up messages with your closest peeps. Be extra cautious about signing contracts or agreeing to any collaborations.

This period has proven to be difficult time for me. I tried to organize an event with my friend, but it fell apart. Just to be sure, I checked the email she sent and it was done on April 9th, the first day of Mercury in retrograde!

I have also had some poorly communicated and received messages with those closest to me. In one instance, my partner called me grumpy. I did not respond in the way that he wanted me to, so he assumed that I was in a bad mood. I wasn’t, but one second after he called me that, I flipped out and started yelling at him. I tried to explain to him (still yelling, of course) that he had just created a situation when there wasn’t one, but none of the words came out right. I sounded like a maniac.

This happened again with someone else a few days later. I didn’t fit into his/her reality and he/she came up with a label for me so that I could make sense in his/her world.  I didn’t want to sound like maniac, so I bit my tongue.

Being labelled for something I am NOT is something I cannot stand for. I HATE it. It’s right up there with others telling me how I feel and think.

Labels for people are offensive. That’s how stereotypes are created. If you take one aspect of person (whether it is true or not) and define them based on that characteristic, it creates a false fixed truth. In strips away any individual identity and puts people in boxes to be judged and categorized.

As much as I don’t like being a textbook psychoanalytic example, I think my highly emotional reactions are influenced by my childhood experiences. Among many other forms of torture, my family liked to call me “fat cow” when I wasn’t. I was one of the youngest kids in my family, so everyone thought that it was their job to tease me incessantly. It was like a 17 year hazing ritual and would have continued into adulthood had I not stopped participating in family activities.

I do not respond well when people say blatant lies about me. I don’t logically lay out the evidence that I have to disprove the lies. Instead, I have knee jerk reactions that can only escalate situations.  If I were in a Lifetime movie, I would be the main character who gets manipulated and driven insane by the real murderer. The last scene would fade away with a shot of me sitting in prison for a crime I didn’t commit while I am repeating to myself, “I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it…”

At the moment, I’m not getting what I want and I’m not going to ask for it. I agree that no one is a mind reader, but I don’t think it’s the right time to be forward. The horoscope says “maybe” I should ask. I’ll take that as a sign that I shouldn’t.

It’s a good thing that April 20th is just 2 days away because I don’t think I’ll last until June. With time, these problems could work itself out without my direct intervention. If not, I will tell you exactly what’s on my mind!

April 17th – “Today’s fitness-focused stars encourage you to ramp up your healthy routines—or get yourself back on the wagon in case you tumbled off.

I have certainly tumbled off the wagon!

Last week, I took a break from everything. I didn’t write and exercise very much. I spent the rainy weekend eating cookies and looking for a forgotten stash of chocolate. I found a chocolate bar!

I wouldn’t have given up on my exercise had my heel not had a minor stabbing pain. It’s a new injury because I’ve been increasing my jogging time each week. I haven’t had this problem before, so I think it must be the combination of jogging and working at a standing desk. Why can’t I win?!

It feels better now that I’ve rested. I want make sure it doesn’t happen again, so I’ve been rolling a ball on my foot and adding some new stretches. I already committed to going to yoga after work, so there’s no turning back now!

April 17th – “Nothing frightens you right now, that’s why the next few days present a great time to start on an intimidating project.”

As a child, I had nightmares every night. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal until I was in my teens. Most of my friends rarely had nightmares, and when they did, it didn’t involve people chasing them with knives trying to kill them. One of the reasons for the repeated horror scenes I saw in my dreams were all the slasher films I watched in the 80s. Nightmare on Elm Street films were my favorite and Child’s Play movies are a close second. Who doesn’t love an evil doll?! There was no censorship at my home. I never understood why the kids in my first grade class thought The Wizard of Oz was scary.

I had nightmares so often that I became conscious my dreams when I was in them. I didn’t like the nightmares, so I trained myself to stop them. The easiest thing to do was to close my eyes in my dream. When I opened them again, the scenes disappeared or changed into something else. When I got better at this, I was able to make myself wake up.

I no longer have nightmares on a regular basis. It’s usually triggered because I’m sick or when my energy is low. That’s when I know that it’s time to slow down and take better care of myself.

When I do have nightmares, it rarely involves anyone chasing me up and down the hills of San Francisco trying to stab me in the stomach with a giant machete. In high school, nightmares involved unfinished essay assignments or having to take math tests I didn’t study for. In my 20s, I had work nightmares where I was making a million mistakes and customers were yelling at me. Nowadays, I have nightmares about people I don’t like (i.e. family members, ex-lovers/friends). I no longer try to manipulate these dreams and let them play out. These nightmares are more annoying than scary. I can deal with annoying.

If my nightmares don’t scare me, what’s there to be afraid of?!

I haven’t thought about nightmares in a long time, and it’s probably in my consciousness today because of a book I just read. My friend gave me an American horror story by Shirley Jackson called We Have Always Lived in a Castle. Since I’m such an expert on nightmares, perhaps I should try writing horror!