Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New recipe...that I'm actually trying!

This has got to be the simplest thing in the world but since I used to make dried fruits with an actual food dryer, this is a bit different for me.  I'm making apple chips in the oven!  I perused a few different recipes on the internet and they're getting close to actually drying out a bit as we speak but I'll let you know how they come out.  One of the easiest recipes recommended baking at 80 degrees Celsius, but I upped it to 100 for the last round of baking after turning them over.  I sliced two apples as thin as I could with our super kitchen knife, sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar, and tossed them in the oven right on the rack.  Crossing fingers!


Allie H.

P.S.  Here's a picture-remembered to take a picture before I ate them all (Well, Kris ate a few, too...)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Money Choices & Respnsibility

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I'm posting it here because if it's a a true account of someone's life (and I hope it is), it's similar to my transition into the adult world, and I think more young people should be able to pay attention and see what they can do to make this situation their own, even if their parents are ridiculously wealthy and give them what they want, when they want it.  We need a massive change in the way we're raising our younger generations to think of money and how the way we spend it affects us.  

I graduated high school in 2002 and didn't go off to a 4-year University.  I didn't have perfect grades in high school and I'm one of a few people I know who never took the SAT's or LSAT's to get a measure of what schools would accept me in their bottom half of registration.  When I was 12 I started working on my school holidays at my mom's office in the filing room for a good 8 hour day, a couple days a month.  That graduated on to me working full days for a family friend doing the same thing, filing papers and doing mailing merges, 8 hour days, paychecks on file, all throughout my high school years.  I worked for her partway through my college years on a more regular basis as my off-college days allowed (I went to a community college where I received the basic University Studies AA), during which I still lived at home.  No student loans.  I bought used books from the bookstore as I could find them and sold them back at the end of the semester.  I still took my own lunch to college and only bought from the cafeteria on occasion.  My folks had the deal with me that I could still live at home rent free if I was working full time or going to school full time and if I was taking a full semester (12 units) my grandparents helped with tuition and fees, a deal they made with all their grandchildren that graduated high school and enrolled in college.  It wasn't my full expenses, either-less than 50%.  They, like my parents, expected that my brother and I could and had learned how to go about supporting ourselves.  

I moved out of my house after I turned 21, into a student housing apartment with two other girls to lower the rent on each of us.  I drove a crap car that I bought for $400, owned a basic cell phone which was off for several months because when I first moved out, as I was more interested in being able to pay for food, rent, and gas to drive me to my job to be able to earn a paycheck than having a constant communication device with all my friends.  I had internet and email.  My parents knew how to get a hold of me if they needed me.  I worked in the same city as my father so if I had any problems with my car, I had somewhere quick to go to.  I bought new work clothes every now and then, and by new, I mean slacks and shoes on from Target or Ross and skirts, blouses, nice shirts at second-hand stores that were in perfect condition.  I didn't and still haven't applied for a credit card and still possibly have no real form of credit for which to qualify.  I learned enough bouncing a few checks early on in my spending career that it was a good idea to constantly know how much was in my savings and checking accounts.  I survived on cheese quesadillas, Ramen, Mac and Cheese, pasta and chili, pizza bites, veggies,simple salads, grilled cheese, chicken noodle soup, & eggs or oatmeal for breakfast,homemade chicken salad (from the can) or egg salad or peanut butter and jelly for lunch.  When I was working two part time jobs both offices had coffee machine so I didn't get Starbucks coffee every day.  The only time back then that I constantly splurged on shop-bought coffee was during theatre season when I knew I would be at rehearsal for five hours at night.  I never lived anywhere I absolutely could not afford.  I got an extra-large pizza and a family sized salad once or twice a month and had leftover dinner or lunch for three days.  (Every once in a while in my first apartment we shared meals but for the most part, we bought and used our own food.)  My food treat was sushi for lunch or dinner from a moderately priced place one a month or so.  I tried to put money in savings when I could-I didn't spend it all until I had nothing left.  My folks helped me out when my first drive-able car died and bought my second one for me, still not brand new, very used for $1000.  I drove that until I got married and moved out of the country and my father drove it until it gave up and died-it gave us about three years.  Better than making payments of $1000/month for the time to buy or lease a brand new car, wouldn't you say?  Unless it's seriously classic or vintage, I'm not willing to spend much more than that on a used car.  I didn't shop at the brand name stores where garments cost $70 on sale.  Unless it's made from fabric that won't ever stain, tear, wrinkle or shrink after washing or drying and can be made into any garment, I don't think it's worth $70 for a little skirt or a flimsy blouse.  (That, and I was never into keeping up with the current fashions.  Just because someone says it's worth $500, doesn't make it pretty or necessary.)  I once I got a full time job I eased up a little bit but I still didn't spend a whole paycheck on things I wanted instead of things I needed.  I paid my bills, paid my taxes, did what I had to do before I celebrated.  I still went out with my friends, went to movies, bought new things from time to time bought I shopped for food on sale, learned new recipes to cook that were budget friendly.  I did what I could to have a good time and not blow all my cash.  

If more kids like the guy in the photo had stood up ten years ago, sharing what they considered to be reasonable, responsible spending without giving up all the perks, maybe more people in the higher tax bracket would have taken some notice.  I know there's more people out there like me-say, all the people that I hung out with in college and most of the kids I considered friends in high school.  My best friend, Kelsey, chose her current place in life to be on the east coast and she works two to three jobs as she can manage and works the jobs she can afford to afford her bliss while constantly looking for a job in the love venue of her life-theatre.  We can't be the only ones in the world in our age bracket who worked hard, played hard, and most of the time made smart choices when it came to money and spending and how to get our education to further our place in the world.  There must be more people willing to do what it takes and I surely hope that by some miracle, some of them will be voted into an office where they can make some sort of a difference someday in the way our government spends our money and makes our choices for us.  

Think and Enjoy.
Allie H.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


This is the correct use of the random word exercise that I both used in my writing course and found online on the Writer's Digest website. 

Write for ten minutes, incorporating a common proverb, adage, or familiar phrase ("between the devil and the deep blue sea," "one foot in the grave," "a stitch in time saves nine," "the whole nine yards," "a needle in a haystack," etc.) that you have changed in some way, as well as five of the following words:

Prompt words
Ability | Age | Animal | Autumn | Average- Bandwagon | Beauty | Body | Book Cage | Camping | Cartoon | Chain | Chance Clover | Coincidence | Color | Creative Develop | Destiny | Desire Environment | Esteem | Experience Fade | Flower | Food | Forest | Friend Generous | Group | Grow Honesty | Help | Honor Idea | Image | Incentive | Innovative | Internet Joy | Kindness | Kindred Spirit Ladybug | Learn | Light | Love Mature | Memory | Metal | Modest | Mood | Mountains Museum | Music | Myself | Mystery New | Novel | Night Dreams Ocean | Opera Peace | Picture | Privacy Quest | Quiet Rainbow | Remember | Realize Shape | Snowflake | Sun Time | Truth Waterfall | Wellness Youth
Feel free to use as needed!
Allie H.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Journaling Tips and Tricks

I came across these lovely tips (thanks to Pinterest, of course, where I pinned them to my new Writing Board) and added a couple of my own, along with a couple from my Creative Writing course.  While I don't know about the creative software/templates mentioned, the others seem pretty basic.  Feel free to use as needed!  I plan on printing this and keeping it among my different writing folders.

Journaling Ideas and Tips
  1. Use Journal Pockets. Create pockets to place journal cards.
  2. Use a Journal tear sheet book (avail. From companies such as Making Memories.)
  3. Create a camera log book. As you take photos that capture that special moment, you can jot down your thoughts while they are fresh to expand upon later. Simply record the photo number and quick note in your log.
  4. Use Quotes.
  5. Use Poems.
  6. Use Definitions from a dictionary or create your own.
  7. Use Magazine clips
  8. Use Receipts or Labels.
  9. Create a Journal jar with various themes (cut out sentences from newspapers/magazines or get prompts from friends). Pick one each day and journal about that subject. Include photos if possible.
  10. Use ABC's (descriptive words from a-z)
  11. Use Commercial or TV catch phrases.
  12. Use the letters in someone's name to spell out characteristics.
  13. Journaling is a great place to use leftover alphabet stickers for a fun mixed media look.
  14. Use bullet points rather than full sentences (revisit as story prompts)
  15. Use lyrics to a song
  16. Use the words to a favorite children's book
  17. Conduct an interview (with yourself, or someone else.)
  18. Fill in the blank (If I were a superhero I would...) etc
  19. Use pre-made journal cards, journal spot stamps and stickers, journal prompt cards, or fill in the blank cards
  20. Use templates like Journal Genie from Chatterbox to create journal spots like shapes or waves to fill in creative journal blurbs.
  21. Place a bunch of descriptive words on the page and try to join each of them in a sentence.
  22. Write from the point of view of a pet or a child.
  23. Journal “A Day in the Life” complete with photos
  24. Record a funny conversation
  25. Journal your closet and note your favorite outfits/garments and why
  26. Have “Guest Journaling” and invite others to share their thoughts
  27. Journal your defining moments
  28. Journal your routine or daily schedule.
  29. Journal your weekly menu or grocery list
  30. Journal your style by cutting pictures from magazines that reflect both your likes AND dislikes and explain why.
  31. Journal OUTSIDE! At least on your back porch/patio. Capture sights, sounds, smells, weather-record your reflections.
  32. Vocabulary-keep a list of words you see that you don't know the definitions for and when you have a moment, pick on and define. Then use for at least two paragraphs of Journaling.
  33. Take a stroll to a park or a coffee spot and people watch. If you hear a snippet of someone's conversation, jot it down, along with some basic descriptions of the scene-tables, facial expressions, clothes, etc-and flesh out later on for your own free-writing exercise-imagine with that one snippet what those people may be talking about, using the gestures, tone of voice you jotted down, expressions. Use this to rev up your fiction writing skills to get some practice writing dialogue scenes between people. Try the scene in different points of view
  34. Similarly, use a picture from a magazine and make up a story about the people or the place in the picture.
  35. Keep a Journal next to your bed and try to write down any parts of dreams you remember when you wake up...the longer you wait, the more you'll forget. (My thought-I've used some snippets of my dreams as new story ideas...See where they take you.)

    Note: The Writer's Digest website has a list of story prompts that you are free to use as you wish.  One of my favorites is a two-minute exercise-have someone compile you a list of 8-10 random words and see if you can use all of them in a paragraph in a timed-two minutes.

    Happy Writing!


    Allie H.  

    P.S. I also use the "color note" post-it app on my cell phone if I have a quick idea and somehow don't have pen or paper on me while wandering around town...I love post-it notes so much I had to have to digital equivalent...Lol.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Summer is over!!

It's definitely fall here-a few weeks ago it was still warm in the evening and now it's a "balmy" 59 degrees outside at 5 pm in the evening and going to get a bit chillier before dark.  We've got the plushy throw blankets in use while watching TV shows (yay, new episodes of everything!) and Chloe's now being bundled up her sweaters when we go out.  It was like an instant switch spread out over the last week from still warm to cold!  Walking anywhere slightly warmly dressed keeps you toasty.  It was a fairly rainy summer and seems like it's going to be a dry cold inset of winter for the next month or so.  Fine with me...it was a seriously rainy last fall season.  Chloe will probably better enjoy going outside to do doggie business without having to tramp through too much snow!  My rearranging of clothing in my closets will now be rotating out shorts and short sleeves for long sleeves and cozy sweaters. My scarves and gloves will be close by!  

My burritos for last night's dinner came out wonderfully.  I somehow bought cottage cheese instead of sour-cream (oops) and forgot to put a layer in them when I rolled them up but still put some on top when I baked them, mixed with tomato sauce, and they were so yummy!  They were even better as leftovers for a late lunch today after putting back together the last closet that goes into the guest room.  Kris took over the rice as a side and made Spanish rice, too and I made a salad with some of the lettuce I've grown and it was yummy!  Oh, to be able to empty the box of linens and guest sheets and get it out of the way!  Loving this whole unpacking thing...getting quicker.  We did our first load of laundry-Kris figured out how to make the machine work and as there's no dryer, we hung up all the clothes on the racks that our old neighbors left us and overnight, with just the up-high kitchen window open, even with the cold wind they were close to dry when I checked them this morning.  And I'm stoked-my green onions are really starting to fill out and make their way to full grown, finally.  Hoping I can get another batch by growing them indoors where they can still get light when it gets too cold...I need a little table I can tuck in the opposite corner of the kitchen, I think.  But on the cooking front, I think my next super huge batch of food should be taquitos...they'll fit better in the glass baking dishes I have, too-I got two burritos in the small dish, four in the big dish, and the rest (six more) on the broiler pan.  

Among our television viewing pleasures (with all our favorites giving us new episodes) I've gotten myself a new obsession after Pinterest. We've got all season of Good Eats with Alton Brown (from Food Network) and while I browsed past them and ignored them for a while, I started watching from season 1 last week, here and there, and it's addictive!  It's a really great show and there's lots of little tips and tricks he shows you for cooking and he does a lot of explanation as to why foods react the way they do to other foods, heat, etc-the chemistry behind cooking.  Kris has watched a few of them with me and we both find it really cool.  A lot of "huh!" moments.  Makes me want a few key cooking implements for Christmas.  Due to watching him and looking up a few of his recipes, I now have an account and a "Recipe Box" on the Food Network website, which I've looked through once or twice but didn't think to get an account.  I like having an online recipe box, like my Pinterest, my pins for food will be online where I can find the links for the recipes as opposed the thumbing through my personal cookbooks trying to find "that one recipe I found a couple months back..." ; )  That, and I think we need to antique-fair shop for a good large pasta serving bowl-I had one back in Monterey and it didn't end up here, of course-I think I was too scared to wrap it and have it break in transportation and I cannot remember for the life of me if I stashed it with stuff at my folks' house or gave it to Bill or passed it off at our garage sale or to Goodwill-I'm so hoping I packed it away in my stuff.  But they're in EVERY cooking/kitchen section of most of the department stores around here so hoping I can find a gently used one for nothing, like I found the one I had back in Cali.  Love my second-hand finds.  Wish there were more shops here that actually had comparable prices to the ones back in Cali, too...Swiss people are weird like that.  They have this whole different idea about slightly used stuff...if it's not an antique and actually worth something, most of the time, they give it away or toss it out.  So weird.  

Loving the new OS...working out so much better.  Had a glitch or two that Kris sorted out but no major problems like Windows might be having at the moment after a serious reboot.  Finally got back into my hotmail and got it secure-when I'd tried to login the site told me I'd tried to login too many times that day with the wrong password and to try again tomorrow.  I hadn't tried to login to hotmail the whole time we were moving and settling in the last couple weeks.  Did the whole re-set and filled in all the personal info-the first attempt they told me I didn't have enough info to confirm, so I did it again, and again...and finally after much frustration, they sent me a re-set link.  VICTORY!  So bar in, new password, all ducky.  Think that's enough blog for the moment...
Happy tech'ing!


Allie H.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Toffee Squares

Saw this and in the spirit of continuing to post recipes that look good that I haven't made yet, here you go:

Toffee Squares
Inspired from Epicurious
1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups of wheat flour
7 to 8 ounces of milk chocolate, broken into pieces, or 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup of chopped almonds, toasted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour just until mixed. The dough will be stiff. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the baking pan.
Bake in the center of the oven until pale gold on top, about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate pieces evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute. Remove the pan again and, using a knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the crust. Sprinkle evenly with the almonds.
Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, cut into small squares, then carefully remove from the pan with a small offset spatula or an icing spatula.
Happy Cooking!

Allie H.

Baked Chicken Burritos

Scrap my casserole idea...if I can find tortillas that aren't pricey.  Blogging this so I know where to find it next time I want it and so I can share it with you all!  Looks ridiculously easy.

Easy Chicken Burritos

Ingredients -
3 lbs shredded, cooked chicken
¼ cup sour cream
7 ½ oz can tomatoes with jalapeƱo peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
¼ cup sour cream
1 diced tomato
1 cup sliced iceberg lettuce
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
16 oz can refried beans
8 flour tortillas, 8 inches diameter
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine the chicken, canned tomatoes with their liquid, chili powder, sour cream and salt in a bowl. Divide the refried beans between each tortilla, spreading them evenly over. Divide the chicken between each tortilla, placing it in the centers.
Sprinkle half the cheese over the chicken and roll up the burritos.
Place them seam side down in a 12 x 8 inch baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake for another 5 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown.
Sprinkle the lettuce and tomato over the top and serve.
(Serves 4)

Allie H.
P.S.  I'm an idiot-I forgot to mix the sour cream into the meat mixture so I'm going to mix some cheese or salsa into it and spread on top of the burritos for the baking process...think it'll come out just fine.

New Neighborhood!

We are out of Bioggio and living in Lugano!

With much thanks to Anna and LeeLee for bringing cleaning supplies and much needed elbow grease last Wednesday, we busted out for about 5 hours and SCRUBBED down the entire old apartment until we were satisfied.  Kris had contacted the family we were subleasing from and I think they expected, when they came to meet us, that we would still be packing boxes and moving things out since we're contractually tied til the end of October.  They definitely looked surprised when they came to the apartment and saw it totally empty and CLEAN!  We chatted for a few minutes, promised to make a date to have dinner with them sometime soon, handed over the keys, stuffed the rest of the little odds and ends (my veggies, stepladder, etc, etc) into the car and drove off into what was no longer sunset but full on evening to unload the car and marvel at how much more sore after moving cleaning could render us (well, me, anyway.)  No more super-construction sounds day in, day out from Mon-Fri, 7:30 am to 6:00 pm.  No more airplanes flying overhead on their way to the Agno airport.  No more evil eye from the lady who doesn't actually own the strip of grass outside her apartment backyard wall but still insists that you don't let your dog do business there.  We are downtown and settling in!  The first morning we woke up here in the new place, Kris took the moving van back to Ikea and I attacked the kitchen, finding places for everything and working around the bed.  Yup.  The kitchen floor was the last space to put something really huge like a rolled up mattress so we spent a few nights in there on the floor before Tuesday, I decided I couldn't take it anymore and moved clothing and furniture out of the way in the bedroom and put the bedframe back together almost all by myself!  I'm so proud. ; )  Kris had put together the frames for his closets and we got the backing, doors and shelves put in securely (I had attempted on Monday and the shelves kept slipping and falling, of course, on my arm in the same spot about three times before I gave up and let him finish the job.)  We got my closets put together this past weekend and most of my clothing is put away!  I'm somehow re-arranging shelves (all my drawers are in the same order but shelf-category seems to have moved a bit.)  We still have to decide where we want these all to go and make the room totally functional but for now, having clothing away and seeing piles of empty suitcases in the storage room (future guest room) is awesome.  Still lots and lots to do but I succeeded in getting the one little patio off the living room doggie friendly-we don't think she'd actually try to stick her head in between the bars but we don't want that chance.  I found a roll of garden mesh (the kind you put over plants to keep birds off of, etc) and cut and tied it to the patio border.

I'm working on getting the lay of the neighborhood-exploring with Chloe and finding all the grocery stores nearby, so have done a bit of price comparing.  Since our car is having issues again, Kris takes the bus to work and so doesn't come home for lunch at the moment so my schedule is totally free during the day to wander, unpack more, eat when I get around to it, and take car of Chloe's outside needs.  We totally love living down here!  Most of our friends live downtown so that's a plus, and there's a kebab shop 5 minutes from our apartment door.  A delicious kebab shop.  If you know what a kebab is, then you know what a good thing that is.  If not...you should learn what a kebab is.  It's in the gyro family-same concept, different spices, different sauce, and if I haven't eaten breakfast and we wander downtown for a few hours, it's the perfect midday meal.  We've tried the Chinese restaurant in the area-decent food but not typical huge amounts of it, which was a little bit of a bummer.  But it's a ten minute walk to the main plaza in Lugano, ten minutes to the big park for Chloe, ten minutes to groceries-easy exercise now consists of an egg or bread run and walking up and down the stairs (third floor, no elevator) several times a day for Chloe to go to the little park right across the street from us.  She's getting settled in and has decided that with all her stuff here, and the same blankets to curl up on on the same couches, that we're home.  She's still mixed up about Kris not coming home in the middle of the day so she's super-excited to see him after work but once CSCS moves in April, and he's again a ten-minute walk to the office, she'll be back to normal.  This week has been all about computer repairs, so far-Kris's laptop died last week, mine tanked it on Monday, only going to far as to start up to the boot screen and the give me nothing, so Kris attacked it last night and it's now a dual-loaded operating system-my old windows which he kept so I could access all of my files, and so he could figure out what was wrong by running it as a virtual machine, and Ubunto/Linux, which he's been trying to talk me into for quite some time since he doesn't do Windows and I had decided sometime last week after getting a blue-screen of death and it recovering, that he could indeed convert it to Linux for me.  I think my laptop understood and decided to kick up one last fight, but we won.  It's going to take me some getting used to, but according to Kris, since he's used it, it's a much better, cleaner, smoother operating system and doesn't fall susceptible to the annoying quirks that Windows decides to fail with.  So he's proud that I decided to take the plunge.

Have to decide on a menu for tomorrow....while headed up to our new regular bar to meet some friends (Peter Pan closed while we were on vacation and wasn't able to be opened again with the same owner) we passed a couple of missionaries who were on the other side of the street waiting for a ride.  Kris said hi and they said hi back and we kept walking, had a thought and turned around to invite them to come have dinner with us tomorrow night.  They were shocked!  They don't normally get invites, I guess, which is weird for me to hear because I'm used to Kris's stories of being invited to eat at someone's place maybe even twice a day while he was on his mission.  We chatted with them for a few minutes, one of them from Utah, one of them from France, which we thought was odd, but I guess the group up North has decided to re-locate to Lyon, France, so there are less around than there used to be.  So we gave them our address and they'll be here at 7 to eat, chat, and go home with possibly a couple of packets of Ramen each...I just have to settle on food.  I'm thinking shredded rotisserie chicken into a casserole with veggies and mashed potatoes and salad, maybe a little cake for desert.  Or shredded chicken tacos...my lettuce seems to be about ready to start using.  Whatever I decide on I'm going to try to make it as painless and low-fuss as possible.  Should be an interesting experience.  

Onto more internet wandering for a bit and then hopefully laundry, if I can figure out the washing machine which has instructions written in German and French, while I'm mistakenly learning Italian.  Think I can find one of the ladies who lives in the building to show me what to do...since our laundry's piling up!  Though if I can't figure it out, there's quite literally at least three cleaners in the neighborhood square right below our street.  Talk about convenient!
Happy blogging, all!


Allie H.