Birds of a Feather
April 30, 2017

We've got a squatter in the backyard.


So, we moved and we have a little backyard area now. As a little housewarming gift, we received a small green bird house. We hung it on a post that already had a nail, just to get it off the ground, figuring that it was too close to the house to actually be used by any birds.

About a month or so later, I noticed a little chickadee hanging around near the birdhouse. I can see it through the window when I'm sitting at my desk. But I thought it was just a fluke. But that bird was hanging around a lot. And then one afternoon, I actually saw it fly right out of the house, and another bird head popped out. Not only were a couple of birds using it, THEY BUILT A NEST.

And now, we can hear the wee baby birds inside the birdhouse! We watch the parent birds fly back and forth for a good part of the day with food for the babies, and you can hear the little peeping of the babies get way more excited when one of the parents comes back to the nest. As much as I would LOVE to get some photos, I also don't want to disturb them. They get upset enough when we're out in the yard, though that doesn't seem to stop them from delivering food. (There's a very short little video over here.)

With the success of the birdhouse, I thought a bird bath might be a good idea. So we bought one this weekend, and so far - no birds. I'm guessing it might take a little while for them to discover it's there. Though, I'm also figuring that since we had such great unexpected luck with the birdhouse, that the bird bath will be an utter failure. We'll just have to wait and see!


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« last time | February 19, 2017 : Who Loves the Sun


Who Loves the Sun
February 19, 2017

Lunch outside!


I don't know if you've heard, but it's been raining a little bit in California. The sun had been a very rare sight until last weekend. We were graced with a gloriously sunny Saturday, and I took the opportunity to sit on my patio, eat lunch and get a little Vitamin D.

My lunch that day ended up being my current favorite salad. I discovered it at Mixt Greens (who appears to now be called just Mixt), which used to have a location in the Valley Fair mall but is, much to my dismay, now gone. Thankfully, I had made note of the ingredients in "The Orchard" salad, and have recreated it at home a few times.

But last Saturday, when I was sitting in the sun, enjoying my favorite salad, it occurred to me that I should post about it here. If only for the sole purpose of having the salad ingredients documented somewhere other than in a note on my phone. I also just realized I can go to their site and look it up, but if for some reason they go away, I'll always have it documented here.

Without further ado, I present to you my adaptation of the Orchard Salad...

The Orchard Salad
Adapted from Mixt

  • Greens of your choice, a couple large handfuls (I usually like a spring mix, or something with a bit of arugula)
  • Cooked chicken, diced or shredded (an eighth to a quarter of a cup, depending on how hungry you are)
  • Sharp Cheddar, grated (a small amount, a couple tablespoons?)
  • Cooked Bacon (2 slices, crumbled or chopped up)
  • Avocado (I usually use half)
  • Toasted Almonds, roughly chopped (a handful)
  • Apple, a quarter to a half, chopped (I like a Granny Smith)
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette

Put everything in a bowl, and toss together. Add salt and pepper to taste. I never really measure ingredients when I'm making this, but it makes enough for an entree sized salad for one person. You can adjust amounts to feed more people.


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« last time | January 08, 2017 : Sixteen


Sixteen
January 08, 2017

New year's rainbow in Maui


Clearly, I don't know what to say in this space anymore. I don't exactly forget that this thing is here, but I don't really remember it either, despite paying for hosting fees every month for the past 16 years.

That's right, this blog is 16 years old. And I think the only reason I haven't completely scrapped it is because SIXTEEN YEARS. I've documented some parts of my life here for over a decade and a half, and it just doesn't feel right to end it. However, is also seems a little silly to keep it around when I only posted twice last year.

I'm definitely not the same person I was when I started this blog. A lot of things in my life have changed and recently there's been some "life events". One of which was my Dad dying somewhat unexpectedly. Which is not the only unexpected death I've had to deal with in the past three years. It's been rough and this hasn't felt like the right place to talk about any of that. But blogging has also evolved in that time, which I know I talk about every year, but I just can't seem to get past it not being the way it used to be. I feel like when I put something here, it's needs to be useful, helpful or informative in some way, and I just can't manage that anymore. I think it's also a matter of habit. I'm just not in the habit of writing anything here anymore, and I honestly don't know if I'll ever get back in the habit.

I'm much more comfortable posting things on Instagram now, which feels safer and easier I guess (at least on my private account). I'm going to try and be better about posting on my public Instagram, which is still quicker than posting things here, but I can't make any promises.

For those of you that do end up reading this, thanks for sticking around. I'm not going away, but I'm not necessarily promising that I'm going to post with any regularity either. However, this site won't go anywhere anytime soon. I actually come back here to look up things every once in awhile, so even if nobody else is reading, at least I'm finding it useful that it's still here.

And with that, I wish you all a happy new year. Here's hoping for a little bit of good in 2017.


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« last time | July 09, 2016 : The Ugly Green Chair, Now Mobile-Friendly!


The Ugly Green Chair, Now Mobile-Friendly!
July 09, 2016

Driving to work clouds.


I spent most of the past weekend and part of this week messing with code to make this site responsive (which is a word that I never seem to remember when I'm talking about it). It makes me a little giddy to pull the site up on my phone, and it's actually readable! Not that I've offered up much to read lately, but let's not talk about that.

I did not completely overhaul the design on the site, I mostly adapted the existing layout to the new template. I did move things around a bit though. There's a lovely top bar navigation that actually sticks to the top of the page. You might also notice that there's a search bar up there too. There's always been a search function, but it was on a separate page. The new location is so much more convenient. Maybe not a huge deal, as I know I'm probably the one that gets the most use out of that. But the fact that I have over a decade of things archived here, it's nice to be able to look up what year my husband did the AIDS ride, because we can't usually remember what year that was (seven years ago!).

Of course, it may all be for naught, because I don't know if anyone actually goes to sites to read them anymore? Ah well. It makes me happy and I learned things in the process, so I think it was worth the trouble. If you do come to the actual site, I hope you enjoy the updated layout!


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« last time | January 31, 2016 : Whole30


Whole30
January 31, 2016

Fiesta egg casserole = my breakfast for the week! Leftover salmon cakes from making my lunch for the week were also my lunch for today. Dinner food pile. Sautéed chard, spinach, cauliflower rice and ground beef. Topped with a bit of chimichurri sauce, guacamole and pick de gallo. I'll be eating a lot of meals like this in the next 30 days. (Whole30 day 2!)


It finally happened. After nearly three years of green smoothies for dinner, I got tired of them. Also, it's winter. I wanted something warm to eat. Which is just one of the reasons I decided to finally try a Whole30. Let's not talk about the KIND bar I was eating for breakfast every morning or the jars of candy on my co-worker's desk that I was regularly raiding.

Basically, I needed a food reset.

So I ordered this book, which has been my guide through the past two weeks. Well, three weeks if you count the trial week I did before I officially started. (I decided I needed to ease into this a little, and I think it helped.)

Honestly, this isn't that far off from how I normally eat. Except I was eating what is essentially a candy bar for breakfast every morning (I got lazy). I also wasn't diligently checking labels except for gluten. Now I'm also checking for dairy and sugar (IT'S IN EVERYTHING).

So what am I eating?

For Breakfast:
I've been making this Fiesta Egg Casserole, cutting it into 5 portions and storing it in the fridge. I made this recipe to the letter the first time, but the second time, I used some leftover ground turkey and roasted butternut squash. That's become my new favorite version.

For Lunch:
I make 5 days worth of food on the weekend, so it's grab and go in the mornings. I've been relying on my Well Fed cookbooks for recipes. I already had a couple of favorites in the first book but received the second one for Christmas and there's a bunch of recipes I want to try in there, too.

For Dinner:
I've been making what I affectionately refer to as a "food pile". Sautee some protein (usually ground meat cooked with onion that I made on the weekend), add some vegetables (chard, spinach, cauliflower rice, butternut squash), and top with some sort of sauce (guac, pico de gallo, etc). Since I've pre-cooked everything, this is a super quick way for me to make dinner.

I'm finding that I'm snacking less than I used to, but if I do need something, a handful of nuts (cashews, macadamia) is usually enough.

The hard part? Going out to eat. Any time someone suggests going out to eat, mild panic strikes because it can be hard to figure out where to go that will have something I can eat. I end up ordering a lot of salads with dressing on the side and then not using the dressing. Which actually isn't so bad. Thankfully, friends and family have been pretty agreeable about where to go so I can eat with them.

What about caffeine? I've seen some people mention that it's not allowed. In the book I'm using as my guide, it doesn't say anything about no caffeine, unless you're trying to eliminate IBS or IBD symptoms. Since that doesn't apply to me, I'm still drinking caffeinated beverages. I had been a one cup of coffee a day person and I couldn't drink it without milk and some sort of sweetener. During my trial week, I switched to green tea. I don't need to add anything to that to make it drinkable, and so far, it's worked out well.

Things I've discovered:

  • I like sweet potatoes way more than I thought I did
  • Same goes for butternut squash
  • Ground turkey thigh meat is actually really tasty
  • All this planning ahead makes meals a no-brainer, which is nice

Today is day 14, and I guess I feel pretty good? I think I'm less groggy in the morning when I get up, which is nice. I'm hoping I feel even better in the next few days. After tomorrow, only 15 more days to go!


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« last time | January 24, 2016 : Happy Fifteen Years, Little Blog


Happy Fifteen Years, Little Blog
January 24, 2016

Raindrops


I missed the 15 year anniversary of this blog (it was December 31st). I've written so many blog entries - in my head - in the last 6 months. I just can't seem to sit down and type them out. I'm sure there's at least part of a 15 year anniversary post in my brain somewhere, but it seems a little silly to write it out now, on the 24th of January.

I'm not going to lie. It's been a rough year. I thought last year was rough, but this year was...I don't even know if I can find the right words.

I have, of course, learned a few things in the past year. Like I'm REALLY out of the habit of posting here. And I thought setting up a public Instagram account might help, but that's been a major fail. Until Instagram makes it easier to post to multiple accounts, I just can't manage more than one account. Unfortunately, it's the one that I keep mostly private. My views on sharing things have morphed over the years, I guess. Which may be another reason I'm not making the time to write here. When I was cooking, knitting and taking photos all the time, it seemed I always had something to write about it. When most of what I'm doing is working, it's not just about finding the time, it's about finding the content, too.

However! I started a Whole30 last week and I've been doing more cooking than I have in years. And I keep thinking about things I want to document during the 30 days. I should start taking notes, because I feel like I may actually want to write down some of what I'm thinking and learning, and this might be a good place to do it. I can't guarantee it's going to happen, but I'm at least going to try.

So, rather than write an enormously long post about it, I'm going to save some of it for next time. Which should hopefully be soon.


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« last time | July 07, 2015 : It's Alive!


It's Alive!
July 07, 2015

Poppies! My favorite.


I never intended to take a five month break from blogging, but here we are.

I feel like there's some unspoken (or maybe it has been spoken/written) rule about not apologizing for blog neglect. I, however, feel like I need to apologize (to all three of you that are still reading). I could blame my new-ish job that's got me a little keyboard shy since there could be some potential googling from coworkers. Or, we could blame the fact that I'm really busy because of said job (it's good busy). We could blame a lot of things, actually. I've reached a point where I often feel a little bewildered by the state of the internet and blogs. Instagram is much more comfortable for me, so that's where I spend most of my time these days.

I get self-conscious about my writing here, and if I think about it too much, it's just easier not to write. But Shauna pointed out that there's so many people on the interwebs now, that some get lost in the crowd. There's so many voices that mine babbling over here in the corner is still pretty small and quiet and I don't think anyone is going to notice much. At least that's what I'm hoping.

ANYWAYS. I digress.

I have actually done more than just go to work in the past few months. I took a short vacation to Chicago (which I'm going to save for another post) and I've been going to a pottery studio and doing some pottery things. And...I'm sure there's more. When I remember, I'll try and actually write about it.


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« last time | February 15, 2015 : The Mid-Month Catch-Up Post




Hi. I'm Whitney.
I like cheese.


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© Whitney Brandt-Hiatt: All writing, images, and photogrpahy are the property of Whitney Brandt-Hiatt unless otherwise noted.