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March 2016

Plan B

I have high aspirations of being one of those insanely organized people.  The people who always have a plan and who never realize, halfway through making a meal, for instance, that they are lacking a key ingredient.  You know the type.

One thing I do in pursuit of this organizational nirvana is meal plan for the week.  Usually on Sundays, I will come up with a plan for what to make for dinner each night and grocery shop for the week.  (Okay, “the week” is generous.  By Friday morning, the fridge is empty and we’re grasping at straws for a few days.  But Monday – Thursday, I channel my inner Martha Stewart hard core.)  When coming up with our meal plan, I try to take into consideration any plans we may have for the week.  For example, I have class on Tuesday nights.  Dinner is leftovers or something I can throw in the crock pot.  Taco Tuesdays have been moved to Taco Thursdays for the duration of this class.  For the other nights, I’ll pick a favorite stand-by or try a new recipe.  It should be noted here that the factor I don’t always consider is the weather.

This week, I decided to try a new recipe on Wednesday.  I had no plans for the evening, and the spring weather would make grilling outside a nice alternative.  I clearly forgot that I live in Texas.  As I drove home, I was alerted to the tornado and thunderstorm warnings on the other side of the metroplex.  I was undeterred.

Game plan for tonight: tandoori chicken.  A completely new recipe, and one calling for chicken thighs, which I’m less comfortable cooking than chicken breast or a whole chicken.  There was a simple marinade that I threw together, and added the chicken to sit in for a few hours.  When it was close to time to grill it, I began making the paleo naan – an Indian bread for my husband, the word’s greatest lover of bread.  Then he came home and enlisted my help in a little musical chairs with our cars, in preparation for the oncoming storms.  So again, it was the perfect night to fire up the grill.

The recipe called for grilling the chicken for 6 minutes per side.  I also remembered, upon opening the fridge, that I had picked up some eggplant because “that sounds like something that might be tasty grilled.”  This is where my hope of an easy, low mess meal began to go awry.  While the grill heated up, I sliced the eggplant and washed the mushrooms that I had also apparently bought to include with dinner.  I decided to throw them all on one of the grill pans we got as a wedding gift.

The grill was set a few minutes later, so I set out the chicken and went to toss veggies on the pan.  When 6 minutes was up, I turned the chicken over and added the veggie pan to the grill.  Now is when I make clear that I’ve never grilled vegetables and have no idea how to do so.  A few minutes later, this resulted in me using my misto to spray olive oil on them while they were grilling.  That’s completely normal, right?  Obviously, every time I opened the grill, some of the heat would escape.  I began to notice that the thermometer on the outside wasn’t heating back up when I closed it, though.  After some very calculated inspecting (read: me poking around looking at stuff with no clue), I realized that the flame had gone out.  Shoot.  The propane was out.

This was clearly throwing a wrench in my plan for an easy dinner with little cleanup.  I had a backup propane tank in the garage and swapped it out with the old one.  The grill did relight, but it never heated all the way back up again.  This completely threw the “6 minutes per side” for a loop, and I had no idea how much longer things needed to cook.  At this point, I’d been dealing with dinner for about 45 minutes.  Rather than figure out what was wrong with the grill, I called an audible and decided to finish cooking the chicken inside.  Since the whole ordeal took so long, the naan was now cold.  I tossed it in the microwave, which brought out a sticky consistency that was less than pleasing.  (My husband said it wasn’t so much his favorite, but he did consume all of his, so who knows?)

Eventually we sat down to eat, my plate assembled with delicious chicken (the recipe was a definite keeper) and flavorless, dry, grilled eggplant and mushrooms.  My grilled produce game needs work.  I did take a few pictures, but Photos on my computer is currently dysfunctional, so you’ll have to use your imagination.  What’s your latest moment of throwing-in-the-towel, scrapping-a-plan-altogether give up?  Share below, so we can commiserate.

New Adventures in Blogging

Why, again? This will be, to date, my third blog. While I feel wholly ridiculous for doing this, I have my reasons.

For starters, I’ve never been able to enjoy keeping a journal. Something about writing out my thoughts on paper just makes me feel weird, but for whatever reason, putting them out there for anyone on the internet to discover is somehow less strange?? I know, it makes no sense. But neither do I, most of the time.

It’s also fun to be able to look back and see what I was up to a few years ago. Earlier this month, I dragged my husband and stepson to Austin to meet some dear friends of mine and show them the town I loved so much in a former life. Just driving them past the dump I rented in my second year there was a little anticlimactic, but being able to pull up old posts and show them all the fun I had in that house brought life to the aforementioned dump.

I’m continually seeking challenge. I get bored easily, and seem to always be trying to learn something new. I realize how trite that sounds, but it’s true. I’m not good at just sitting and being, so I need something to keep myself busy during netflix marathons. Usually this results in me trying my hand (and often failing) at my various geriatric arts + crafts: knitting, crocheting, and lately quilting and calligraphy. This time, I’m hitting the opposite end of the spectrum with learning about web hosting and all the associated nuts and bolts. I’ve never felt dumber, but hey, you learn nothing if you’re the smartest person in the room, right?

Lastly, I like the accountability. I don’t expect a gigantic (or even minuscule) readership to result from this, but just the idea of someone reading this makes me more likely to stick to my word. Needing material to write about in 2010 made me get up, get out, and get going. I experienced so many things that year that I never would have, had I been content to just sit at home. My goals are different now, but the overarching theme is the same. If I put in writing what I plan to do, and there is even the potential that someone will ask me about the progress, I’m more likely to stick to it. So here we are.

This time, I’m sharing my trek toward a cleaner life. I’ve moved more than 10 times in the past 12 years and continue to drag around the same literal baggage from home to home. I have boxes that have moved, unopened, with me for years. I’m determined to get rid of it. Even if it’s a single item a day, I want to eliminate the clutter and focus on things that really matter. In the same general vein of living a cleaner life, I’m growing more aware of the impact of food and habits on my quality of life. Let’s just say that there’s work to be done there. Lastly, the idea of “coming clean” means honesty. There’s too much pressure nowadays on people to be everything, and to be excellent at it. Thirty seconds scrolling through instagram posts of filtered and airbrushed pictures can make me believe all sorts of lies about myself. I don’t want to share only the best days and personal triumphs. I’m going to be forthcoming about the failures and disasters along the way, too. Like Kid President says, “Being a person is hard sometimes; you should give people high-fives just for getting out of bed.”

Here we go!