Sunday, October 12, 2014

Angie 2.0

Friday was my last day working for the union. This feels like a huge transition. I really don't know what's next. I don't have the plan all laid out. I know that I love and want to build my travel business. It feels like the doors have swung wide open and I am staring out at the landscape excited and nervous to start making my way across it. 

It's an incredible feeling to be able to make choices based on abundance and passion rather than fear or scarcity. My original job with the union came after a period of unemployment post grad school. I was lucky that it really was a perfect job for me - policy work, lobbying, campaigning just fit my skill set. Until it all fell apart. Until the stress, the drinking, and the complex personal relationships pushed me into a person I didn't want to be and I was forced/chose to move to Florida. 

In Florida, I vowed to be better, to do things differently. I did the best I could. I took on every project that needed me and tried to accomplish what I could. It was difficult always being on the edge of a learning curve. Always having to be the person with the answers - the person that was going to save the day. I moved from project to project until I just didn't have the passion for that project anymore. And then one day I woke up and I was overwhelmed with unhappiness. So I quit - the first time. I wasn't ready to quit the union - just the current project. Three months passed where I worried about what was next and spent a lot of time watching tv. I also wrote a novel and volunteered, but really my thinking was in a place of fear and panic about finding another job. I was relieved and happy when I was asked to help on a contract campaign project. Then I fell right back into the pattern of saying yes to the projects that came my way. And then one day I woke up and I was overwhelmed with unhappiness. This time I didn't just quit. This time I sat down with my husband and talked through what would be next, what our lives would look like, and what was the best way to make this transition. Then I tried to hold on as long as I could. Then I finally broke and gave my notice. 

I was relieved and excited and then sad - really really sad - and then nostalgic. Then I was grateful. It occurred to me this morning the one feeling I haven't had is fear. I am not afraid of what's next. I am confident that everything will fall into place as it is meant to. And it's already started. I went to events Thursday night and Saturday and met some of the nicest sweetest people I have met. It feels like I have been living with one foot out of the door- unwilling to commit and invest. Now I am ready to jump in with two feet - to really embrace life in Tampa - to build relationships and to find my niche where I can continue my passion to make the world a better place. It'll be challenging to go from a job that paid me to change the world to finding space and opportunity on my own. It'll be a lot of trial and error to find the next home for passion to improve the world. I am lucky that I'll be able to do that while living my passion for planning travel. I'm ready. Let's Rock and Roll. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Toddler Dates - just call me Debbie Downer

Over the last few months, I have noticed that people have posted on Facebook about their infant/toddler children having "dates" or "boyfriends/girlfriends". My first thought was "how do you know your child is a heterosexual?"

I have always wondered about the conditions that create the situation where people feel they need to "come out" with their sexuality. I never had to declare my heterosexuality. I just chalked it up to a culture hostile to anything other than heterosexuality.  After seeing these Facebook posts, I realized that maybe part of the reason that people have to "come out" is because they are assigned a sexuality in infancy.  People without any negative intention use language that implies a sexuality to tiny humans.

I know that most people view this as a "cute" way to discuss growing relationships between children, but my question to that is why is there an assigned sexuality to it?  How would you feel if a teacher or acquaintance called your daughter's female friend her girlfriend? Or your son's "best buddy" became his boyfriend?

Would it change anything if when you were approached by someone about your child's latest "date" with a child of an opposite sex you just said "I am glad they are developing a friendship. We don't know Susie's sexual orientation yet so I wouldn't characterize it as a date." Would people feel uncomfortable? Sure.  But would it go a small way to making the world safer for gay kids and teens? Maybe.

I am not a parent just a person spouting off some opinions so I would love your thoughts.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolutions

I find something magical about New Year's Eve - the idea that we can reset, do better. That somehow when the clock strikes midnight,  we can say goodbye to what we did wrong and resolve to work harder in the next year to be the person I want to be. I find it redemptive.

This past year has been a mash up - a mash up of incredibly challenging and incredibly amazing. This year, a lot of things came into focus. A big one was what being a friend means to me. I realized that if someone doesn't hold up her end of the bargain, that is okay to let her go and wish her well. I also realized that I have to work harder at keeping in touch with those that mean the most to me. It's okay if I am the one doing all the calling and reaching out because talking with those who know my heart best is always always worth it.

This political season clarified my tolerance for other view points. I realized I am not tolerant of ideas I believe are wrong. I am not tolerant of  people who do not believe in rights for all people. I got in several Facebook fights and even got unfriended a time or two. Some folks believe that issues shouldn't tear relationships apart - that we should all respect each other's viewpoints. On gay rights, I don't respect a viewpoint that makes some people less than some other people. I don't respect it. I don't support it and I won't tolerate it. I know this isn't a path that leads to changing anyone's mind, but it's where I am.

I resolved to Live Big, Do Good, and Spend Time with Family and Friends. I can say that I accomplished that. I saw different corners of the world, worked hard to make the world a little better, and spent time with  almost all of my friends and family.

In 2013, I want to do better, be better.

Less Junk. More Vegetables.

Less Anger. More Kindness.

Less about Me. More about Others.

Less Screen Time. More Books.

Less NO! More YES!

Less Tears. More Laughter.

Best wishes to you for a happy and healthy new year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Kitchen Bucket List Challenge: A Recap

Alright – so it’s mid- October and I haven’t posted a final recap of my Summer 2012 Kitchen Bucket List. In my defense, I live in Florida and it still feels like summer. Well, here we go.




The Winners

I successfully roasted a whole chicken and would definitely do it again. One friend pointed out that buying a rotisserie chicken costs about the same as roasting one yourself, but I did get a deal of satisfaction pulling that beautiful, golden bird out of the oven.

I learned to make pasta from scratch. In fact, I am pretty good at making pasta and will likely do it in the future.

I figured out quinoa and it is now a regular part of my weekly meal plan.

I gave up on the idea of making my own smoothie. I would swoon every time I assembled the long list of green smoothie ingredients and run directly to big bottle of Naked Green Drink. It’s only $6 at the warehouse store and just worth it.

The Losers

Polenta and bread did not get made from scratch. Their future is not bright.

Three more soup recipes were not secured. Friends did send me some great recipes and I am hoping the winter months provide inspiration to tackle this bucket list item.

I did not learn how to perfectly poach an egg. We have a machine that perfectly poaches eggs. This eroded some of my motivation.

Souffles were just not in the cards. I actually forgot that was on the list until right this second. Now I wonder what the heck I was thinking.

Figure out how to freeze my own skillet meals – This I am still going to do. I saw it on Top Chef and I want to recreate the challenge at home.

A Draw

Figuring out a go to fish dish. I did not figure out a good fish dish, but my husband and I started eating a lot more fish. I consider that an overall win for our health, but we still need something to show off at a dinner party.

So how did you do on your Summer To Do List?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Kitchen Bucket List Challenge: Roast Chicken

As part of my 2012 Kitchen Bucket List Challenge, I decided to take on roasting a chicken.

I was originally going to use Bethenny Frankel’s Boyfriend Chicken recipe, but then I decided it just had too many ingredients. I wanted a recipe that used salt, pepper and chicken. I found this one  by Thomas Keller. Thomas Keller is the chef behind two of the best restaurants in the United States.

This recipe is the exact opposite of almost every other roast chicken recipe I saw while perusing the internet. Most recipes suggest roasting the chicken at 350 degrees for an hour a half or two hours. Keller’s recipe cranks up the heat to 450 degrees for an hour. This leads to smoke and grease splatters inside the oven. A small price to pay for this awesome chicken.

Before I handled the chicken,I poured some salt and pepper into a bowl so I wouldn’t contaminate my salt and pepper shakers. The first steps are to rinse the bird, remove the sack of yuck from the inside cavity and then pay dry. I coated the bird inside and out with salt and pepper. Then the recipe said to truss the bird. Yep, had to look that one up on the internet. Basically it means tying it together so it cooks more evenly. Here’s a video that I found very helpful:



I tied it up and let it rest while I waited for the oven to pre-heat. This gave the salt sometime to work its magic. Into the 450 degree oven it went.
The spattering sounds started with the first 10 minutes.
Within the first 20 minutes,  wisps of smoke were escaping from the oven.
At 22 minutes, I turned on all the fans in the kitchen and started biting my finger nails.
At 40 minutes, the bird was turning a lovely golden brown.
At 55 minutes, I put a meat thermometer into the breast. It came out 170 degrees so I took it out of the oven.
 I used a basting brush to take the fat from the bottom of the pan and brush over the chicken. Then moved the chicken from the pan to a cutting board. It looked like this:


I did a little dance. The recipe recommended letting it rest for 15 minutes. Do not tent it with foil. If you want crispy skin – you cannot tent. The end result was a delicious, juicy roast chikcken.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012 Kitchen Bucket List Challenge: What is Quinoa?

As part of the 2012 Summer Kitchen Bucket List Challenge , I decided to figure out quinoa.   Quinoa is usually considered a “whole grain”, but it is actually a seed and therefore, gluten free. The method to make it is very similar to making rice.

Quinoa's rise in popularity may be due to NASA. Some reports say NASA was looking for a nutrient rich "grain" to send to space and stumbled on quinoa - a staple in the Andes mountains. 

One news article  highlighted how the popularity of quinoa has led to a price increase in many of the areas that previously relied on it as a staple. For instance, in Bolivia, noodles have replaced quinoa in many people's diets. This has a big nutrional impact. At the same time, many people are returning to the country side to farm quinoa because now it is a sustainable profession.

For my culinary experiment with quinoa, I used Trader Joe’s Organic Tricolor Quinoa.


The directions are pretty simple. Rinse the quinoa in cold water. Bring the right ratio of water  and quinoa to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.

Quinoa does not have a strong flavor. A lot of recipes recommend using a flavorful liquid like a vegetable or chicken broth to cook it. I decided to just use water and then try to spice it up once it was cooked. I found this great recipe for Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls.
You basically make black beans with onion, garlic, chili powder and a  little cayenne pepper.  Prepare the quinoa according to the instructions, then add some cilantro and lime. The quinoa becomes the base of your bowl and then you add lettuce and the beans on top. 

  Instead of lettuce, I layered super greens (spinach, arugula, Swiss chard) in the layer between the beans and the quinoa. The heat from both wilted the greens just a little.  I loved how filling the dish was. The flavors reminded me of Mexico. I also liked how you could personalize depending on what people in your group like by adding salsa, guacamole, sour cream, etc.

Overall, my experience with quinoa was a success. It's very easy to make and I will be replacing rice with it every now and then.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A new twist on lemonade


One of the best tips I picked up from a cooking class is to use dried lavender flowers to fancy up some lemonade. The lavender adds a floral aroma and a slightly sweet flavor.

An easy way to use it is to use brew some lavender to create a lavender lemonade.
 You just follow your favorite lemonade recipe (or the back of the Crystal Light box, in my case) except you replace the water with this:
1. Boil the amount of water needed for your lemonade
2. Add 1 - 2 TBSP of dried lavender depending on your taste to the boiling water.
3. Turn off the heat and allow the lavender to steep in the water. The longer you steep - the stronger the color and flavor will be. Lavender flowers impart a brown color so you may want to steep less unless you are using the pink lemonade mix.
4. Make the lemonade using the recipe.

One variation is to use half the water for your lemonade recipe to make a super concentrated mix. Then, when you are ready to serve - add back in half the amount of sparkling water or club soda. For instance, if you want a gallon of sparkling lavender lemonade - you only use half a gallon of water to make the mix. Then you add back in half a gallon of sparkling water/club soda when you are ready to serve.

Another variation is creating a lavender lemonade sorbet:
Lavender Lemonade Sorbet
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 lemon, zest of
1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh
2 -3 teaspoons lavender
Directions:
1.  Over medium heat mix all ingredients together and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes
3. Refrigerate 4 hours or until well chilled.
4. Strain mixture and pour into an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, you could put into Popsicle molds or add some ice and blend into a slushee.