Something a little different this time…a collection of things I like! Completely random and in no particular order…
1. I recently created a masterpiece using these 2 products from Trader Joes. In a word: divine! Saute some onions and set them aside. Next, brown some chicken meat (raw or cooked). Add the onions back in. Dump in all the Thai Yellow Curry Sauce and a can of the Light Coconut Milk. Simmer (not boiling) for at least 30 minutes (make sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked). 5 minutes before serving, toss in some chopped fresh green veggies (think green beans or snow peas). Place in serving bowl. Top with chopped fresh basil. Serve over brown rice or quinoa. So simple! So tasty! Let me know if you try it, I’m curious to see if others enjoy it as much as we have. Oh, and btw, leftovers are mighty tasty–the flavors melange magically! Bon appetit!
2. Part of my job is booking travel for trade shows, conventions, training workshops etc. Two websites have proven invaluable to my success as a “travel agent”. First is hotwire.com. This handy site allows you to select a hotel/car etc. in a designated area as well as amenities. Reviews from past travelers are also available. You can choose from various prices and star ratings. Once you commit with a credit card, the name and address of the hotel is revealed. You are taking a small risk for a huge savings. Generally, hotels I book through this site are at least 50% reduced.
Second, is yapta.com. This travel site allows you to monitor fares and itineraries. You can elect to have updates and alerts emailed to you–highlighting fare increases or decreases. Additionally, once you have booked a trip, you can put in the details and the site alerts you to fare reductions–you can request a refund from the airlines! We have utilized both of these services effectively. In fact, I recently booked our tickets to Canada on a Wednesday evening at 11pm following an alert email. The fares (which I have been tracking since January) plummeted to half price. I booked them! The next day, the price had increased again. I snagged the bargain flights just in time thanks to yapta!
Both sites are free to join btw.
3. Annual low cost/open house Sunday at the Santa Barbara Humane Society. This special event offers $5 vaccines. We’ve been taking advantage of the deal for 15 years. I admire the way the Humane Society offers practical and valuable services to the community. Frankie was a brave boy–didn’t even cry when he got his shots!
4. Craigslist: centralized network of online communities, featuring free online classified ads (per Wikipedia). I have used this site frequently for years. Today, I swapped a bag of my haas avocados for 3 pounds of rhubarb. Simple! Free! Beneficial for both parties! In addition to gathering ingredients for my strawberry/rhubarb jam, I made a new friend.
4. The Tacos and Tequila Party! Alison and I recently attended a tequila tasting party. It was fascinating. Who knew that there were different types of tequila? We sampled blanco (the youngest), reposada (medium) and anejo (the most aged). Each of these varieties has a distinct taste and quality.
Additionally, we learned that agave is not a cactus. In fact, the blue agave is a member of the lily family. The spiny plant takes 8-10 years before it’s ready to be used for tequila production. Incidentally, the title “tequila” can only be used by beverages created in a specific Mexican geographical area (much like champagne is from a certain region in France).
Our hosts prepared a tasty Mexican dinner to go with the tequila experience.
5. Groupon! I’m sure most of you are already familiar with this website as well. It’s recently arrived in Santa Barbara. I LOVE it! So far I have had a facial/massage; joined the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens; booked a mosaic weekend workshop; half price Chinese food; golf for my dad: all for at least 50% off! You have to sign up (it’s free and it’s easy: you can click on this link: http://www.groupon.com/r/uu17565660 . You can also take advantage of deals in other cities…I’m checking out Ottawa and Barrie in preparation for our summer holiday in Canada!
6. Another recipe! Martha Stewart’s Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cherry Cookies! I didn’t use unsalted butter, btw. This recipe makes ALOT of cookies. I took it to pottery class–good reviews. Meghan wasn’t so crazy about the cherries, but I am a HUGE fan of the Costco Dried Cherries (very addicting, consider yourself warned).
7. Growing potatoes in a box! My dad and I are experimenting with this technique. I have a small vegetable garden. It’s raised and protected from the damn gophers by a layer of chicken wire. So, I don’t have any extra room to mound up potatoes. We’re giving this a shot. The instructions suggest that it’s easy to harvest and when you’re done, the whole box/dirt/plant can be composted. We started (and when I say ‘we’, I mean ‘dad’) with a layer of compost and shredded newspaper. Next ‘we’ placed several seed potatoes cut into quarters (‘we’ let them dry over night before putting them in the dirt). The potatoes quickly sprouted and I added more layers of newspaper and dirt as the stock grew. I’m waiting for blossoms…
On the same topic, I am trying to grow rhubarb. As previously mentioned, I got some today, so I know it grows here successfully. We’ll see how that goes…
8. Book Club! What an amazing group of women…we each bring such different perspectives to the table. Recently we met to discuss Cutting For Stone. As usual, we try to plan a meal that goes with the theme of the book–this sometimes tests our creativity as well as our palate! However, the dishes for this book were tasty. Ethiopian, toned down to accommodate my precious taste buds. I plan to include photos of the food presently–check back later if you’re interested.
9. Poems And Ponderings Blog: my brother-in-law, Jack, has developed a real talent for poetry. Check out his blog–updated regularly with his work.
10. It’s your turn! What’s your latest RaNdOm CooL tHiNG(s)?