Spicy Chicken, Tomato, and Rice in the Slow Cooker

It’s been a long time (like, four years) since I published a recipe post. I used to publish them a lot, testing out new recipes and variations on old recipes and scarfing down the failures and successes alike, until I noticed a correlation between recipe blogging and the upward progression of the numbers on my bathroom scale, especially once we moved to the suburbs and my incidental physical activity decreased dramatically. So, I cooled my jets on food-related posts for a while.

Then when I was in Utah recently (yes, I’m mentioning Utah again, but it’s just a passing mention this time), I stumbled upon a simple skillet-to-oven way to cook chicken. When I got home, I modified it for the slow cooker and decided to share the results with the Internet. Read More

Scenes from Utah

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, my kids and I traveled to Utah early in September, and we had a fabulous time. The trip reminded me for the second time this year (the first was our visit to Joshua Tree National Park this past spring) how much I love the western United States and how much I love the desert especially. Next time I travel west, I hope to visit some or all of the five National Parks in Utah. I’ve been to Arches, but it bears a return trip, especially now that I’ve read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey.

But even staying in and near Salt Lake City, we had a blast. Some photos from our adventures, curated to remove anything unpleasant—like my son’s epic nosebleed and almost-very-bad head wound—because that’s what blogs are for:

Tracy Aviary, Salt Lake City:

Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championship, Midway, Utah:

Salt Lake City Public Library:

Around Salt Lake City:

 

Minimalist Packing

Earlier this month, I went to Utah with my kids. It was our first trip back to Utah since we moved away more than six years ago, and it was my first trip by airplane on my own with my kids. Without my spouse to lug things, I decided it was time to practice minimalist packing.

Here’s what I packed (including what I wore on the airplane):

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One dress, one hooded sweatshirt, one pair linen pants, one sun shirt, one skirt, one tank top, two t-shirts.

Not pictured: undergarments, socks, one set of pajamas, footwear (one pair walking shoes, one pair sandals), and one swimsuit.

Also not pictured: the shorts I forgot to pack.

I realized I’d left the shorts in Massachusetts almost as soon as we stepped through the door of our rental apartment at crazy o’clock PM after enduring a lightning strike to our airplane and a ridiculously long wait at the rental car counter with my daughter at my elbow saying, “Mommy, I think I might throw up.” There was only one couple in front of us at the counter, but they appeared to have never rented a car before. (“Should we get the extra insurance coverage, Bill?” “I don’t know, Edna. What do you think?” “Well, I’m not sure. We should have him explain the options again.” Me: “NO, you don’t want the extra coverage! It’s a racket! Just take the keys and get out so I can get my car and get outside before my kid tosses her cookies!”)

At any rate, I was in a bit of a state by the time I realized that I had no shorts. I texted my spouse in a panic, and he reminded me that if I really needed a pair, I could probably find a store in Salt Lake City that sells shorts.

But it turned out I didn’t need the shorts. Nor did I need the dress, the swimsuit, or the sandals. I walked all over Salt Lake City and even hiked in Little Cottonwood Canyon in my skirt, which was a first for me and something I would never, ever do in New England because ticks. But in Utah, it was fabulous! Highly recommended.

We did laundry once in the middle of our week-long trip, which, with the 97-degree heat, probably made it less unpleasant for our friends to hug us during the second half of the trip. Without a washer in our rental, things might have been a little more complicated, but as it was my exercise in minimalist packing was a complete success.

Maybe next time I can even get by without checking a bag.

 

TBR List Declutter Week 14

It’s the second week of the new post format, and so far I like it. I hope it’s readable for all of you who enjoy reading this type of list because it’s really quite a bit easier for me to set up.

Now on to the next ten titles!

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the Introductory Post.

Titles 131-140: Read More

Bookends: August 2017

August ended with uncharacteristically awesome weather. 70s and low humidity doesn’t often happen in Massachusetts, and we had a nice long stretch of it. I missed the last couple of days of the good weather because my kids and I went out to Salt Lake City for hotter temperatures and even lower humidity. We had a wonderful time and, although we missed my spouse, were a little disappointed to leave the land of walkable streets, functional public transit, a phenomenal library, incredible gelato, and fun times with friends so soon. And did I mention the low humidity? Seriously, I think I’m in love with the desert.

My TBR List Declutter chugged right along this month, thanks to the post-scheduling capabilities of WordPress. For those new to Imperfect Happiness, each Thursday, I post the titles of ten books that are on my TBR and whether I’m keeping them or taking them off of the TBR (and why).

Against all odds, we still have one monarch caterpillar hanging on. This one is more than a month old now, which is ridiculously old for a monarch caterpillar. We think it has a genetic problem based on the change in its coloration and its extremely slow rate of growth. It’s still alive, although not very lively, so we keep feeding it.

“Not dead yet!”

 

My Utah trip did interfere with my Bookends post for August, but I’ll remedy that right now:

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TBR List Declutter Week 13

Facing sixty-two more weeks of this, I’ve decided to streamline my listing process so these posts don’t take so much time. I’ve taken out a couple of categories—“Do I own it?” and “Why is it on my TBR?”—and changed the format a bit so it’s easier to copy and paste from Goodreads. For example, author names are now Last, First, and on the line below the title rather than on the same line.

Given my penchant for rearranging, I doubt this will be the last format change, but we’ll see how long it lasts.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the Introductory Post.

Titles 121-130:

Read More

Vacation Hangover

“The best part of vacation is coming home!”

Or so say many of my friends on social media. But it turns out I don’t share that sentiment

I used to. When we lived in California, I enjoyed our time away, but coming home really felt like coming home, and I appreciated being back in our little apartment. When we lived in Utah, I liked spending a week or so in humid weather—or in the case of winter travel, in better air quality—but was glad to be back to dry air and the comforting embrace of the mountains.

Now that we’re in Massachusetts, the closer the plane gets to New England, the worse my mood becomes. It’s possible that this is because we’ve been visiting places I like—road trips to Acadia, Prince Edward Island, and Asheville, North Carolina, flights to Joshua Tree National Park and San Diego and Salt Lake City. But that doesn’t quite account for my dark mood.

Other people say, “I enjoy being away but after about a week, I’m happy to be back.” Not me, at least not since we moved to Massachusetts. Even after two weeks away I want to keep on traveling.

Maybe I have a travel bug. It’s possible. I’ve never had one before. I’ve had a moving bug, but moving is different from traveling. It’s possible I’ve caught a bit of a travel bug and just don’t recognize it because I dislike flying and don’t like hotel rooms.

But it’s also possible that I just don’t like Massachusetts.

If I don’t leave, I can manage it okay. I focus on the native plants in my garden and the birds and insects that visit them rather than on the suburban inability to walk anywhere and the fact that Chipotle is the best restaurant in town. I focus on spotting and identifying flora and fauna on our hikes rather than on the Lyme- and babesiosis-carrying tick population. I focus on staying home and taking care of our house and children and monarch caterpillars rather than on the aggressive drivers, potholed streets, and rude populace.

But when I leave, I remember that there are other places to live and that in other places, there are lots of friendly people, not just employees at Trader Joe’s. When I leave the East Coast, my shoulders relax. I breathe easier. I’m more apt to converse with strangers, and they’re more apt to converse back in a kind manner. I know this doesn’t happen everywhere and that part of it is a result of the places I choose to visit (and because I’m white), but that doesn’t change the exhaustion I feel being back in the place where my house is.

I know this is an unpopular view among New Englanders. Particularly those who are from here defend the region fiercely should anyone dare to say it’s not the right fit for them. They’re not rude; they’re straightforward! The drivers are only aggressive because there are so many on the road! Doctors really understand Lyme disease now—well, most of them, and it only takes them about six months to finally diagnose it, and only about half of the people I know have had it! And I believe that New England really is a welcoming place—to people who’ve been here since the Mayflower landed. But for those not from here, it’s tough to break in.

Despite the arguments to the contrary and despite my valiant and exhaustive (and exhausting) attempts to find a place here, Massachusetts just isn’t my spot. But it’s where I am for the foreseeable future.

And that’s why I’m in a bad mood when I get back from vacation.

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TBR List Declutter: Week 12

The most recent installment of my TBR List Declutter, in which I reconsider a decade worth of titles I added to Goodreads thinking that I would one day read all of them.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 111-120: Read More

TBR List Declutter: Week 11

It’s hard to follow last week’s impromptu lesson about Latin numeration, so I’m not even going to try. Instead, let’s just jump into books CI to CX (centum unus to centum decem)!

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 101-110: Read More

TBR List Declutter: Week 10

Today I hit the century mark! The first of seven. When I’m done, I will celebrate the TBR Declutter’s sesquisepticentennial, if I continue to use anniversary names to count my books. If I just use Latin numbers, today’s post ends with centum, and I’ll (eventually) be counting up to septingenti quinquaginta. And that concludes our lesson on Latin numbers for today.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 91-100 (nonaginta unus (XCI) – centum (C)): Read More