Gather ’round, people.

We got the news.

Admit that the waters around you have grown.

This is the best news I have heard in a long, long time. As the former sponsor of Daniel Webster High School’s first-ever Gay-Straight Alliance, I cannot begin to explain how happy I am today. This morning, my kids — ALL of my kids — can marry the one they love, and would-be theocrats have nothing to say about it.

Emily

Earth Day

I had a massage this morning and work this afternoon, but in between, I had just enough time to celebrate Earth Day by weeding the Darwin Garden, filling my raised beds with a mixture of compost and peat moss and getting my tomato seedlings into the ground.

Behold:

I'm really excited about these raised beds. Hopefully the tomatoes will like them.
I’m really excited about these raised beds. Hopefully the tomatoes will like them.
I still can't believe these fish survived the awful winter we had.
I still can’t believe these fish survived the awful winter we had.
Darwin Garden is going strong, with arugula already going to seed and chives, sage and strawberries blooming.
Darwin Garden is going strong, with arugula already going to seed and chives, sage and strawberries blooming.
The asparagus I planted last fall is coming up nicely. We'll leave it alone and let it get established this year.
The asparagus I planted last fall is coming up nicely. We’ll leave it alone and let it get established this year.

I’m utterly amazed by my goldfish. We got that early, intense cold snap in November, and the top of the pond froze solid before I had a chance to dip the fish out and bring them inside for the winter. The layer of ice was thick, and the severe cold spells were spaced just far enough apart that it never thawed. I remember reading something that said not to break up ice on a pond, as the vibrations harm the fish more than the cold weather, so I just left them alone and hoped for the best. Upon discovering they’d survived, I promptly named them Ted Williams and General Skaldak, in honor of two other guys who were famously frozen.

I’ll get the rest of the garden in the ground sometime this weekend.

Hope your Earth Day was good and you found something kind to do for the planet.

Emily

Yes, I’m alive.

Sorry I haven’t posted in forever. I’ve been adjusting to the new work schedule and working on a couple of pretty substantial projects.

OK, so “adjusting” is probably the wrong word. “Reveling in the glory of following my circadian rhythm” and “catching up the sleep deficit I ran up while trying to conform to society’s asinine ideas about how my sleep cycle should work for 10 years” are probably more accurate descriptions of what I’ve been doing for the past two months. You have no idea how much better I feel. I’ve set an alarm ONCE since mid-February, and that was only because I had a prior commitment I couldn’t duck out of.

In addition to catching up on a decade’s worth of lost sleep, I’ve been revising my novel for the umpty-seventh time and working like a madwoman to get ready for a Route 66 mural-painting project that starts this weekend and should wrap up in a couple of weeks. I’ll blog about it when it’s all finished, but if you want to see the work in progress, I’m probably going to live-tweet it. The biggest mural I’m planning — which will take up three walls in a garage — will feature trompe l’oeil paintings of neon signs that haven’t lit (and in some cases, haven’t existed) in decades. The technique I use to get the glow effect lends itself well to live-tweeting, as it goes from blurry mess to photorealistic painting in a series of steps that are so easy, you really have to see them to appreciate them.

Once you see the technique, you’ll be mad you didn’t think of it yourself, because it’s so simple, I’m pretty sure my 6-year-old niece could pull it off. (And she’ll probably get the opportunity in the not-too-distant future. Something tells me she and the boys would really enjoy a little foray into superrealism.)

Stay tuned. I’ll have a photo-heavy post for you in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter at @redforkhippie.

Emily

Vegetarian Friday: Roasted asparagus with mushroom-walnut couscous

Yes, I know we just talked about asparagus and mushrooms a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed that batch of pasta so much that I bought another round of ingredients with the intention of making more, only to realize I was out of linguine. Undaunted, I found some couscous in the cabinet and went another direction that’s probably a little more health-conscious. Consider this one a two-fer.

Ingredients
For the asparagus:
1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. water

For the couscous:
1/2 lb. mushrooms, washed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. whole-wheat couscous
1 1/2 c. water
Butter to taste (optional)
1/2 c. chopped nuts (I used black walnuts, but pecans or English walnuts would work as well)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange asparagus in one end of a large baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and water and sprinkle with garlic.

Arrange mushrooms in the other end of the dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic as you did the asparagus.

Oven-roast until the asparagus is bright green and tender and the mushrooms turn dark and start to shrink a little. This will take about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven.

While vegetables cook, combine couscous and water in a microwavable dish with a lid and nuke, covered, for 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes and fluff with a fork. Toss with butter, chopped nuts and roasted mushrooms and serve with asparagus.

Makes about three big servings.

Emily

P.S.: Here are days 19-24 of my Lent project. I figured you were tired of T-shirt pictures, so I just stacked them all up in a single shot.

Most of these don't fit any more. Also in the stack: a pair of souvenir singlets I bought with good intentions and promptly forgot I owned.
Most of these don’t fit any more. Also in the stack: a pair of souvenir singlets I bought with good intentions and promptly forgot I owned.

Eco-Saturday: Razor rant

This week’s Eco-Saturday is less a suggestion than a rant masquerading as a question:

Why are razor companies going out of their way to trash the environment as fast as they can go?

I would like very much to minimize the amount of trash we generate around here, and I’ve taken many steps to that effect, most of which I’ve shared on this blog. But I shouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage on the house to accomplish that.

A package of eight cartridges designed to fit Gillette Sensor razors retails at $22.29; two packages of four disposable Sensor razors will set you back $14.78. The same dynamic holds true for women’s razors, albeit usually in a less dramatic fashion: $17.49 will buy you five Venus replacement cartridges or six whole disposable Venus razors.

WTF, Gillette? You can’t tell me it costs less to make a whole razor than it costs to make a razor cartridge. Not when the design is virtually identical, and the cartridges use less material.

I thought I’d found a workaround a while back, when I picked up a package containing a Bic razor and several refills at a reasonable price. Then I got the damned thing home, opened it up, and found out Bic does not sell refills independently of the razors, so you’re still tossing it out and buying a new one way more often than necessary.

I’m not keen on trashing the planet or rewarding companies for implementing a price structure that actively discourages environmentally responsible behavior, so I did a little online research to see what it would take to tell Gillette to kiss my arse.

The answer?

About $30. That’s what it costs for an old-fashioned safety razor and a pack of five blades.

At worst, if I can’t figure out a safe way to recycle them, I’ll be throwing out one very small piece of metal every couple of weeks. Contrast that with the Bic semi-disposable I’ve been using lately:

razor

No contest — especially when I can buy 100 replacement blades for $9, and they come wrapped in tiny slips of paper I can toss in the recycler when I’m done.

I’ll try to remember to do an update once it comes in and I get a chance to use it and determine whether it’s as good a product as I’m hoping it will be.

Emily

P.S.: Here are days 12-18 of my Lent project:

I bought this for my classroom library when I taught. For some reason, I brought it home instead of giving it to another teacher. S.E. Hinton needs to be on a classroom shelf for a kid to enjoy, not languishing in a former English teacher's living room, so into the box "Rumble Fish" goes.
I bought this for my classroom library when I taught. For some reason, I brought it home instead of giving it to another teacher. S.E. Hinton needs to be on a classroom shelf for a kid to enjoy, not languishing in a former English teacher’s living room, so into the box “Rumble Fish” goes.
What is it with me and picture frames? I have no idea when or why I bought this one, but I think it's moved with me twice and still hasn't found its way out of the shrinkwrap.
What is it with me and picture frames? I have no idea when or why I bought this one, but I think it’s moved with me twice and still hasn’t found its way out of the shrinkwrap.
Cute shirt. I haven't worn it in years. I don't remember why, but I'm guessing I didn't like the fit.
Cute shirt. I haven’t worn it in years. I don’t remember why, but I’m guessing I didn’t like the fit.
Love this shirt. Too bad it's two sizes too small. Bye.
Love this shirt. Too bad it’s two sizes too small. Bye.
I have a picture somewhere of myself wearing this shirt at a festival in 2002. Or as I call it, "30 pounds ago."
I have a picture somewhere of myself wearing this shirt at a festival in 2002. Or as I call it, “30 pounds ago.”
I meant to leave this at our old house so the buyer could take advantage of the woodstove, but I forgot. I'll either ship it to him or give it to Mom.
I meant to leave this at our old house so the buyer could take advantage of the woodstove, but I forgot. I’ll either ship it to him or give it to Mom.
I think I bought this when I didn't own any pans with lids that fit right. Don't ask me why I thought that made more sense than buying a damn lid.
I think I bought this when I didn’t own any pans with lids that fit right. Don’t ask me why I thought that made more sense than buying a damn lid.

Belated Vegetarian Friday: Seven-layer nachos

As usual, my week got away from me. I’ll do an Eco-Saturday and a catching-up-on-Lent post shortly. In the meantime, here’s a good recipe for a quick meal on a busy night. Not exactly health food, but probably better for you than the version you’d get at a Mexican restaurant, and it comes together easily. I’ve listed amounts only for the refried beans (which double easily if necessary) because the amounts depend entirely on your personal taste and the number of people you need to feed.

Ingredients
2 tbsp. olive oil
Small onion, diced
Can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Can of tomatoes
Taco seasoning
Tortilla chips
Shredded cheddar or colby-Jack cheese
Salsa
Avocado
Lime juice
Sour cream
Sliced black olives

Saute the onion in olive oil until clear. Add pinto beans, tomatoes and taco seasoning to taste and mash together. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbly.

Mash avocado. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of salsa, a tablespoon or two of lime juice and a healthy sprinkling of taco seasoning.

Layer tortilla chips, a scoop of beans, and a handful of cheese on plates. Microwave each plate 20 seconds to warm the chips and melt the cheese. Top each plate with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and olives and serve immediately.

If you want an extra protein boost, stir some taco seasoning into a handful of frozen TVP, microwave until hot and layer between the beans and cheese.

Not quite the same as Del Taco’s “Macho Nachos,” but probably as close as I’m going to get between now and my next vacation.

Emily

Sustainability on a shoestring

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