Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love chicken tortilla soup. I used to get it almost every time I went out to eat.

Now that we don't go out to eat much, this is my homemade version. No surprise, I think it is better than the soups I used to buy at restaurants.

Sauté chopped onions and red bell pepper in olive oil and salt until soft.  Add chopped garlic, chopped jalapenõ, cumin, chili powder, and oregano just after the onions soften.  Add: canned (or fresh) tomatoes, canned green chilies, cooked black beans, zucchini, squash, corn, cubed chicken, and chicken broth and bring to a low boil. Stir in some corn meal and simmer for at least 20 minutes.  Squeeze in fresh lime juice and a generous amount of chopped cilantro just before serving.

I like to serve it over some crushed tortilla chips with avocado on top. If I want to kick up the heat, I stir a small amount of pureed chipotles in adobo sauce into my bowl. (We keep this in the fridge as a condiment. ) Seriously awesome!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cotton wool blend socks finished

I have been really into sock knitting lately. It is easy, portable, and useful.  Triple win.

However there does seem to be an art to it that still eludes me.  There are a couple of different heel types, lots of needle sizes and types, yarn options to make a person spend way too much and then the whole top down or toe up knitting direction debate. 

This pair, with the lovely Opal yarn from my dad, was knit top down on size 1 double pointed needles, one at a time, using Susan's pattern (64 stiches) except for the heel. On the heel I used a short row heel to 10 stitches.  

I like this heel just fine, but I like the depth of the heel with a heel flap slightly better.  So I will stick with that for my next pair.

The colorway of this yarn may not be coming through the computer well.  It is really an awesome yarn. It is a mix of various intensities and shades of denim blue.  Most of it has a slight grey undertone, except the white wash.  It is like wearing a pair of socks with all the good things about acid washed and white washed denim when it was really cool! These socks match blue jeans perfectly. Pb&chocolate.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bike days

I am still a huge fan of my Costco bike.  I had to change the front child seat out for a rear one half-way through the week. Meredith has a funny habit of playing with my hair and sticking it in her ear or rubbing it on her cheek.  This endearing little habit is often done with surprising enthusiasm and strength (read: sometimes she pulls my hair hard and my head is forced to follow). Let's just say such actions make it more difficult to ride up hills, and the ride to school is rarely flat.

Now she is in a back seat where she can be heard telling me to sit down as I take her up another hill. :) (no idea where she gets her bossiness)

We are loving the bike ride to and from school.  The mornings are easy, there is a bit of a chill in the air and it just feels good to be out and about.  The afternoons are less easy.  In the heat of the afternoon I prefer to hide inside my house, or at least in the shade.  But I am always glad when we get back that we made the effort.  It is getting easier and we are getting faster.

I also recently purchased some upgrades for my bike - a bell and a front basket.  The front basket is awesome.  It is plastic coated metal, it has small holes on the bottom to keep things from falling out, bigger holes at the top, to make it easier to chain up if needed and nice sturdy handles that are perfect for taking the basket off.  It is the perfect size to hold a bag of snacks and drinks and/or Audrey's backpack on the way home from school. 

Friday, September 13, 2013


I just finished Lady Susan, Jane Austen's first novel. It is written in the form of letters.  A cool style until the end and it's almost as if she writes herself into a corner. At which point she just concludes the story with a conclusion. The main character Lady Susan reminded me of the leading lady in Vanity Fair. Not entirely likeable. Certainly no Elizabeth Bennett!

I also recently read Casual Vacancy by JK Rawling.  She is immensely talented.  It was like a condensed modern day version of Les Miserables. It dealt with the mixing of the classes and the reasons people take desperate measures.  It was good and disturbing. In some places it felt a bit abridged. I for one would have enjoyed the depth in the characters and a longer timeline had the author taken a Victor Hugo approach.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Back to school

Audrey started third grade this week. Third grade!  Where have the years gone?

We are riding bikes to and from school every day.  It is about 1.5 miles each way of nice wide side walks. However, it is all hills. Free exercise, is what I tell myself. And it sure beats sitting in the car line.