Eggplant Cravings

I’ve been wanting to make Eggplant Parmesean for some time now, but let me be honest. It’s not easy to find good eggplant in Georgia. It’s one of those “hit or miss” sort of vegetables ans half the time, they are either over-ripe or close to it. And an over-ripe eggplant isn’t any good.

Today’s adventures had me out and about, searching for eggplant. It was really a day I’d planned to remain home, after an early morning rise and outing to the Veterinary Clinic, I wanted to stay in, relax, study and watch Netflix. The eggplant was calling me and I gave in.

First stop: Aldi. I needed to get my cheeses anyways and had hoped I’d also come upon some fresh eggplant. No such luck; they never carry it on a regular basis anyways but it was worth a shot. The cheeses are much more inexpensive at Aldi and just as good, so it wasn’t altogether a wasted trip. Next stop: Publix. Fingers. Crossed. (And possibly my toes as well.) I nearly over-looked the few they had, but they were perfect and off I went with four, and some POMI Chopped Tomatoes as well. POMI is the only brand I’ll use; they come in a carton and nothing is added, not even salt. They are less-acidic and full of flavour.

Armed with all my ingredients, I set off home to begin the dish.

Ingredients:

9×12 baking dish, 2 medium-sized eggplant (be sure they are firm, not brown and a lovely shade of purple,) homemade marinara sauce, 8 oz shredded parmesean, 8 oz shredded mozzarella, salt 🙂

1. The first step is to slice your eggplant, maybe a quarter inch thick or so, lay out a row in your baking dish and lightly sprinkle with salt. Cover the first layer with paper towels, and repeat until all the eggplant has been sliced and lightly salted. This process will dehydrate the eggplant, removing any water from it so the eggplant isn’t soggy. Skip this step if you do not mind soggy eggplant; you’ll still need to slice them, however.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. Begin by lightly lining the baking dish with your marinara. Add a layer of eggplant, a layer of sauce and a layer of cheese. Repeat until you have 3-4 layers.

4. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.

5. Allow it to cool 10-15 minutes and serve.

Dehydrating the eggplant 🙂

Bird Watching

What do I do in my spare time? Well, I typically do not bird watch, however, we had a surprise visit from a beautiful hawk this week.

He perched right up on the railing on my deck and kept an eye on his prey for at least fifteen minutes. We stayed indoors, looking out the window, not wanting to scare it away.

My hope was to capture it in flight; I should have known better. It finally flew off, down to catch its prey. Lunch was served.

Sitting still for awhile, watching nature in its natural habitat is soothing, peaceful. I think I’ll do it more often.

Reading is Fundamental

In my spare time, I love (LOVE!!) to read. You’ll always find me with a book in my hand (or handbag if I cannot hold it at the moment.) The point is, I am always reading.

It sucks at the moment that the library is closed for two weeks. Fortunately, I do have a few books on hand to read.

I recently watched the first season of Locke and Key, after learning it was written by Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill. Omg! I was hooked from the first episode. He is his father’s son. I decided to check out one of his books from the library, Heart-Shaped Box and I am so glad I did! It’s an older novel, but it has me completely engaged. Scared, nah, not really, I’ve grown up a lot since reading the majority of his Dad’s novels. It’s intriguing; I can visualise clearly the story. It’s engaging. I’m three-quarters of the way through it; I can’t put it down. It’s a page-turner for sure.

I’ll have to add Joe Hill to my list of authors to read. Hopefully, he’ll write many more. He’s talented in his own right. And I’m thankful I took the chance on this novel (the title is what caught my eye.)

Have you read it? What did you think?

More expensive is not always Better

Let me preface this blog by saying:

  • 1. I am by no means a makeup artist.
  • 2. I am most definitely not a makeup artist.

I do, however, know what makeup I like. And I do know that while I will spend a reasonable amount of money on makeup, I won’t spend a fortune.

My eyes must be done before I go out. Eyeliner and mascara are a must. My eyeliner of choice is NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner in black to line around the top of my eyes and below, ELF eyeliner, also in black. (My mascara brands may vary.)

This past weekend, I dug deep in my makeup bin and found a black eyeliner by Este Lauder. It’s a pencil liner with a smudge sponge on the opposite end. I thought with it being the weekend and all, I’d try a different look (I tend to go with the winged eyeliner look primarily.)

I went for a more soft, sort of smokey eyed look. What I got within minutes of stepping outside into the hot, humid day was a melted mess of eyeliner on the top lids. Even the $3.00 ELF liner on the lower eye held up better than the almost $25.00 Este Lauder eyeliner. It’s not waterproof and it melts, smudging all over my eyelid. I was disappointed to say the least. There is no way I ought to have to reapply a $25.00 eyeliner as often as I did. I gave it a go three days in a row with the same results.

I think I’ll stick with my current combination, the NYX eyeliner is waterproof and glides on smoothly and runs less than $10.00. It lasts all day, despite the humidity. For far less than half the price of the Este Lauder liner, I can have eyeliner that lasts all day.

So as you see, more expensive is not always better. The proof is in my three day trial results.

Black & White

I write. I blog. And I take photographs, both digitally and using 35mm film (yes, it still exists.)

I’ve recently been shooting more frequently with film. It’s my very first love when it comes to photography. I taught myself. This was pre-youtube and google. You either read a book (I didn’t), had someone teach you (I didn’t), or you played with the settings and figured it out (I did.)

While Photoshop and Lightroom can create all sorts of effects, I haven’t found it able to recreate the feeling of a true grainy, black and white film shot. And even more so, the anticipation of the results. Nothing instantaneous in the world of film. You shoot. You develop. You hope you got the shot. There are no do-overs when it comes to film.

Either you got it or you didn’t. Either you understand the inner-workings of the camera or…you wing it, hoping for the best. There are no LCD screens to peek at here. Pure. Film. Pure. Knowledge.

(Logo added in Lightroom)

Nail polish…Anxiety

Ladies, please tell me I am not the only one who begins to feel a little anxious when I walk into the nail salon and the nail technician say, “Pick out a colour.”

There are three billion colours to choose from? How is a girl to narrow that choice down? For a long time, I was doing french manicures on my toes and finger nails. Then, winter came along with closed toe shoes and I decided it was time to choose a colour. I could literally stand there forever, staring at all the pretty colours, choosing two or three or four. Oftentimes, to ease my anxiety (sometimes the simplest choice will trigger it) I will have my technician choose. And she always chooses the right colour for my toenails. Always.

Thank you! My wonderful nail technician for easing my mind a little. After all, a pedicure ought to be relaxing.

-Eating my way through Chicago

Chicago, Chi-Town, the Windy City, call it what you may….the food there is incredible. I may not look like I’m much of a foodie (5′ tall, 98 lbs – sorry to get a bit “personal” here, ha!)

I absolutely love Chicago; it’s a beautiful city, filled with many tasty-licious foods. Having just been up in Chicago a few months ago, I wanted to break the tie between Giordano’s and Gino’s East deep dish pizza. I swore that Gino’s was “better.” (Better is all relative, personal preference if you will.)

A little back-story on how this challenge began between the two restaurants. Upon arriving in Chicago in July, on our very first night there, we ordered in. Exhausted, we patiently awaited the arrival our deep dish personally designed pizzas from Giordano’s. Mine was….well, good but somewhat dry. On our final night in Chicago, we met up with my cousins, Frank and Betty, for a Chicago-style deep dish pizza dinner at Gino’s East in downtown Chicago. Not only did we endulge in their deep dish pizza but I had the absolute best thin crust pizza I’ve ever had at any non-Italian pizza spot.

 

 

Upon my return to Chicago this month (October,) I was determined to have another go at Gino’s delicious deep dish pizza as well as Giordano’s (in the restaurant this time.) It was time for a tie-breaker decision.  Would it be Gino’s East or Giordano’s for the win?

 

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For the record, after dining at Giordano’s two nights in a row (because the first night, their pizza completely won me over, perfect amount of sauce, tasty ingredients, perfectly crisp buttery crust…..) there was absolutely no need to go back to Gino’s. Giordano’s pizza is perfect. I can’t vouch for their thin crust….but their pan pizza is mmmm, mmmm good.

When in Chicago, do as the Chicagoans do….eat deep dish pizza (and Chicago hot dogs at Portillo’s by all means…..)

Memories of Focaccia

There’s nothing more Italian than Focaccia. Okay, that’s possibly the farthest thing from the truth, I know, but come on, who hasn’t had focaccia? If you haven’t, you must. It’s doughy goodness. It’s not quite bread and not quite pizza, it’s perfection in between the two. And I’m not quite certain why I never attempted to make it before.

Many of the recipes I found called for all-purpose flour. I veered off-course (not unusual for me) and used bread flour. This was the very first time I’ve ever worked with bread flour and I am in love! It’s gooey, sticky and cheap therapy.

I infused ny olive oil with garlic overnight, the more garlic, the better, at least in my book. (I’ll never need to worry about vampires!) The process was super easy, blend the dry ingredients, add the water, knead, let it rise and gently press it out onto an olive oil coated baking pan. Don’t be shy with the olive oil either. Add your toppings: chopped onions, tomatoes, salt and basil for mine and bake. It baked to perfection!!! I’ll post the recipe later 🙂 but for now… teaser photos.

Buon appetito!!!!!!!!!

Creative Low

If you are creative in any way: photographer, artisit, writer, etc, then you’ve probably experienced a creative-block of sorts.

I’ve not picked up my Nikon in months, I’m ashamed to say. Something that is an extension of my being, an integral part of me and I’ve just stopped.

I’ve always taken photos. I’ve always carried my Nikon with me nearly everywhere I go, but I’ve just stopped. I feel less than inspired.

I hate to admit it, but this is likely the longest period I’ve gone without shooting, whether it be a personal project or for a client.

And it’s kind of scary. I need to shoot through it; reignite the passion and creativity. I need to pick up the camera and take a bunch of shots, whether they be junk or not, it doesn’t even matter.

I ought to sift through some of my favourite photographers’ work for inspiration. I need to rebirth my photography business.

Capturing the moment, the memories has always been important to me, it’s always mattered. I feel stuck. I’ll find my way as I have before.

What People Dealing With Anxiety May Want You To Know

1. We don’t want to feel this way.

2. We can’t just “snap out of it.”

3. Sometimes, the triggers are unknown.

4. It feels like hell.

5. It’s life-long.

6. We feel overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions.

7. Sometimes, a good cry helps.

8. Change, especially sudden, is hard. It’s a trigger.

9. Fear of the unknown.

10. We worry excessively.

11. Yes, the mind creates physical symptoms and they are scary.

12. Therapy helps.

13. Medication helps.

14. Natural supplements may help.

15. A strong support system helps.

16. Our minds never stop creating “what if” scenarios and potential solutions to them.

17. At times, we feel crazy.

18. Often, we feel alone in dealing with this.

19. Hugs help.

20. Listening helps.

21. We’ll be okay, eventually.

Living With Anxiety

If I could only share one thing about living with anxiety, it’s the sense of loneliness and irrational fear we feel… Many do not understand what those of us suffering with it go through. It is scary, it is overwhelming and while there is less of a stigma to it, there remains a stigma. A mental diagnosis is just as real as any other diagnosis. It just so happens with anxiety, unless you have experienced it, it is difficult to explain in way that makes sense to someone who doesn’t. Hell, we struggle to understand. If someone you know experiences anxiety, hold there hand, hug them. Be supportive in the ways they instruct you to do so.

And if you are suffering, please know you are NOT alone. And please know, it’s okay to take medication; we take it for other diagnoses.

Seek help, seek support. Don’t go it alone.

Warning: Profanity Ahead

Anxiety will f*ck with your head.

Anxiety will f*ck with your emotions.

Anxiety will f*ck with your body.

Anxiety is hell on earth and I don’t wish this b*tch on anyone.

I had it under wraps. And I failed at keeping it there. It feels like it is strangling me. It feels like it’s close to spiraling out of control.

Holding back the tears, fighting the thoughts, it’s exhausting to say the least.

Reaching out for help, whatever it takes to find stability.

I’m not sure there is a cure for anxiety, but alas, I’ve got assistance and support and it will not win.

Overcome with Emotion

This weekend, I’ve really felt emotional off and on, more on than off. It happens from time to time. I’ve tried several times to get on my mat for my yoga practice, only to sit there in child’s pose, unable to go any deeper into my practice. Tears overcame me.

I am never fond of feeling like this, melancholy, pensive. I am learning however to acknowledge my emotions and allow them to flow. Happiness is not the only emotion we feel and we often feel the need to hide other emotions.

Oftentimes, I don’t know the source of the sadness, the melancholy. I’m learning to sit on my mat, let the tears flow and to write it out.

Child’s pose is such a comforting, restoratative pose. It’s soothing and calming to the spirit.

If you’ve not given it a go, I recommend it.

Sorry…I’ve been Neglectful

Hello. Good Evening and well, here on the East Coast of the USA, it’s about to be bedtime.

I’m sorry I’ve been neglectful in blogging. For the past three weeks, I’ve been adjusting to post-furlough life, which means I am back at work…commuting and my days are longer, my schedule is not my own.

I thought about making a leap. But my leap is on hold. Now is not the time for leaping. Now is the time to keep anything that is stable…stable.

Things are constantly changing around us and for those of us managing anxiety of any sort, change is sometimes not our friend. We need routines, stability and a bit of info. We’re unable to jump into the unknown. We need some sort of glimpse to avoid having anxiety spiral out of control.

I’m readjusting to my working schedule, rebalancing all my tasks. It’s not been easy; I’ve felt so exhausted lately, but I’ve finally seemed to find some sort of footing.

Life is a balancing act. Balance it wisely. Do not run out of steam. Stop and rest awhile; set down your load. It will be there when you’re ready to pick it all up again.

-For The Ladies Only

This one may be a bit, well, personal, but I know some of the ladies out there can relate.

The monthly visitor, our menstrual cycle, though what woman actually calls it that. Our period, although why do we refer to it as a “period.” Is it because to some degree it gives us a pause in the daily life?

And to think, in Health, we were told our periods last two to seven days. No one mentioned the week leading up to it, lovingly called Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, or PMS for short. Anxiety and headaches are the two main side-effects, if you will, of PMS for me.

The headaches can be unbearable at times. And the anxiety is equally unbearable. It seems the fluctuation in our hormones can cause a lot of chaos. I’ve been here before, and it’s been much much worse. The emotional ups and downs are terrifying. At one time, I did not even want to be around myself. It’s a miserable time. At one time, my doctor suggested a two week round of anti-depressants, to take before my menstrual cycle began. I declined. I could not imagine going on and off anti-depressants like that. At my gynecologist’s suggestion, I began to take multiple vitamins and while the affect took awhile, it helped balance the emotional rollercoaster I was on.

Evidently, there is such a thing as menstrual migraines and while I have never actually been diagnosed, they are vaguely familiar to the types of headaches I get before and during my period.

As women, we go through a lot, we manage a lot. We are already emotional. We must uplift one another, support one another and share our experiences with one another. We’ll get through this together.