Finally, it has happened to me

As I was cooking breakfast this morning (spinach & bacon omelet), John decided to make sure I was fully awake by playing this:

And now I can’t get it out of my head. You’re welcome!

So, a little update. This has been one of the craziest weeks, work-wise, but rewarding enough to prevent me from going nuts myself. That’s right, I still have a life outside of my job, though the line seems to blur sometimes. I’d argue that’s true for everyone, although I’d also argue that we should argue against it.

You follow me, right?

If not, don’t worry– I’ve got something for the brain’s-nearly-fried-day crowd. A recipe that will make your insides glow! (Not literally. If they do, I accept no liability).

(Bangers and…) Pub-style Pea Chips

(Why pub-style? Because ‘pea chips…I swear, better than they sound’ won’t inspire you to make these).

Serves…me.

You’ll need a few handfuls of peas (I tried some local-ish “Dwarf peas” on clearance at the co-op. Must resist un-PC joke about “don’t they prefer ‘little people’ peas?”)

And some coconut oil (not Olive, oxidizes [whatever that means] at high temperatures)

And finally, some spices (like sea salt, black pepper, paprika. Though I may try curry next time)

Preheat oven to 200 C (which I think is 400ish F?)

Wash and trim ends off peas. Slather them in coconut oil and place them on a piece of parchment paper, on a baking tray. Sprinkle on those spices. Be liberal (not just in terms of politics, though that helps).

Put some cumberland sausage on the tray while you’re at it. I basically roll all the links together into one beautiful spiral, like this).

Bake for 20 minutes. Take out the tray (WHY DID YOU FORGET THE OVEN MITT AGAIN OW OW OW) and flip the sausage, stir the chips around, return to oven (remembered the mitt that time…) and bake for another 15 minutes.

Here’s our lovely model.

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Fooled you! He didn’t eat any. The pea-hater deemed them “not terrible.” I deemed them all gone.

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Now that I’ve thoroughly procrastinated from diving into a screaming inbox of 92 educational technology product press releases, I should get back to that.

Enjoy the weekend, and eat your veggies.

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Last weekend, I got pulled over, twice.

By two different “cops.” For two different bicycle violations. Apparently, you’re not supposed to go through red lights, even when the coast is clear for miles. Who knew? I pulled my best “I’m from Philly, we don’t have rules,” and the officer (who took his job far too seriously, I might add) told me, “I appreciate where you’re from, but blah blah normally a £30 fine.” Cue the smiling, nodding, and apologizing. Then he told me, “If I see you again…” and I had to try really hard not to laugh. But I guess Oxford is a pretty small town, and unfortunately, he probably will see me again at some point. At least next time, I’ll know there’s nothing more urgent for the police to attend to around here, and I should probably stop at a red light.

The second offense was for riding through a “pedestrianized” zone (10 am – 6 pm). But I was just following that guy! (pointing to the biker who, by now, is at least a block away). And the second “cop” was the same one who helped me register my bike earlier that day (in case of theft, probably the only crime in Oxford worth worrying about).

In other news, it’s been a month since we went to Germany, and I already feel like I need another vacation. It’ll be time to go home soon for the wedding, but I want to sneak in a long weekend somewhere before then– to anywhere, really. But train prices are ridiculous, and flights…well, those countless hours spent getting to Stansted and waiting around make the train prices a little easier to swallow. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on where we go next.

Hmm, what else. You want wedding updates? Sorry, won’t do it. Before we embarked upon this whole thing (from picking an official date, and onward), John and I outlined our vision of a low-key, low-stress, more like a party than an actual wedding, small guest list, don’t-even-know-if-I’ll-wear-a-white-dress event. There were no complaints at that time, and I thought we might actually get away with it. Of course, now the time is approaching, and everyone has something to say. Something critical.

I landed on that word because it has various definitions, and in this case, several apply:

“Having a decisive or crucial importance in the success or failure of something.”

“Expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments.”

Thanks for offering advice, but detail X is simply not critical at this moment (or in the future, if I’m being honest). Also, the concept of “advice” itself is often nothing more than thinly-veiled criticism.

I do appreciate offers of support, but what I want more than anything else is just for people to show up and have a good time. I’m a detail-oriented person, and I’ve got plenty of nerdy spreadsheets to help me throughout this process. Because it is a process, no matter how “low-key” it ends up. The difference is, I know which details are important and which are not.

In the end, it’s one day, one party. Things never go as we plan, so why stress? It’s more about enjoying the beginning of something new. Becoming husband and wife and all of that sentimental crap. So please, no advice, unless it entails procuring sedatives.

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Fighting screen-time

John and I are upstairs with our neighbor Mike and his cousin, watching crappy reality tv. Mike is about to take a bath (a totally normal thing to do when you have company, right?) and the smell of his Lush bath salts is torturous. It’s been a long week already, and a bath sounds SO good. And I never take baths.

I wrestled for a good 5 minutes with the idea of blogging today. That’s right, I verb-ed that word. I’m a serious blogger now. I fought the (urge to) blog, and the… Well, you know the rest, because you’re reading this.

I like writing, but I don’t like my bloodshot eyes at the end of a long day, 8 hours glued to the computer, interspersed with meals and commuting, finished off with a few more hours of multiple screens, including but not limited to iPads, laptops, TVs. Er, tellys (tellies?)

Have I become one of those (eye-roll inducing) anti-technology people? I don’t think so, but lately I do seem particularly drawn to open windows, staring at my cats, meditating over simmering massaman curry chicken noodle soup. Avoiding the pixels when I can.

I got a flat tire (tyre) today, and ended up taking a new way home from the overpriced repair shop in Cowley. Passed a nice park, huffed up the hill to the appropriately named Hilltop Road, weaved through the JR hospital parking lot. Just when I thought things were getting familiar, Oxford continues to surprise me.

Thai Curry Noodle Soup (totally improvised and seconds-worthy)

coconut oil
2 T curry paste (I used massaman)
1 large shallot, halved & thinly sliced
2 birds eye chilies, de-seeded and diced, optional
1-2 chicken breasts, diced
14 oz can coconut milk
Handful (a bundle?) wide rice noodles
1T lime juice
1 T fish sauce

1. Heat a spoonful of oil over medium in saucepan. Add curry paste and stir-fry for a minute.
2. Add onions and chilies. I forgot to de-seed and our eyes were watering with each bite.
3. Add can of coconut milk, then fill the can up with water and dump that in as well.
3. In a frying pan, add a little oil and stir-fry the chicken over medium-high, until lightly browned on all sides. Add chicken to saucepan.
4. Did you catch that mistake?
5. Submerge noodles (broken in half worked for me) and cover. Bring to boil, then simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Finish with lime juice and fish sauce (for the brave) and enjoy!

Oxford, Lately

It’s been a little while since I’ve written, but not for lack of intention. Every night I’ll think, “I really should write this down somewhere,” followed by “but I’ve been in front of a computer all day” and finally “nah, I’ll remember it.”

Of course, I don’t.

But today’s the day– the day where I happen to have an hour or so of train time with no book to read (too lazy to download books onto my iPad– sad, but true) and no Wi-Fi connection to draw my attention to more pointless pursuits, e.g. finding the perfect julienne peeler on Amazon. (It took 20 minutes, but arrives Friday!)

I brought a half-liter of coffee with me today, but knew it wouldn’t be enough. 5 minutes before the train departure time, I grabbed a large cappuccino to go, and my body is thanking me for thinking ahead. I was so excited to go to bed when it was still light outside at 9:30, and then I realized that I didn’t do any of my freelance work that was due that afternoon (American afternoon, I was still on time!)

So, my brain isn’t fully awake yet. I normally wake up 25 minutes from now. And that’s why, without a proper introduction or logical organization whatsoever, I present to you, 5 readers, some highlights that I might want to remember one day.

1. My typical pancakes + yoga Saturday morning last weekend was even better than usual. Actually, the recipe flopped (a gooey mess salvageable as crepes) and the class was mediocre, but my trip afterward to the covered market was a success. A sales pitch from the produce guy charmed me into buying the smallest £2 Pakistani mango (or something like that). Totally worth it. And I tried wild garlic for the first time, mainly because it basically looks like a dainty white flower with long, elegant leaves. You can eat the whole thing, stem to tip, and I found it highly amusing to tell John, “OMG, eat this flower!” and kiss him with my garlic breath. Tip: great in arugula salads.

2. The only consolation for post-vacation woes (aside from the cats) was hopping on my bike again, which I did promptly upon returning home, to pick up some sustenance at the co-op. It’s clearly the superior mode of transportation, as much as I do like to walk (and run). I kind of hated biking in Philly, and never identified the root of my reluctance until I moved here. I thought I hated biking itself, because I’m slow and like to whine about the slightest burning sensation in my leg muscles, but it turns out I actually only hated biking in Philly. Maybe that makes me a snob, but you really can’t argue that the scenery is just nicer here. I’m still loving my 40 miles per week commute, and actually find myself making additional trips just because I can.

3. Our 387 sq. ft. walls were starting to close in on us, so John and I rearranged the living room. Basically, we were embarrassed by our neighbor’s comment that we were “living like students,” because we’ve done that for most of our lives, so we decided to keep the bikes outside (need to buy a chain soon!) and squeeze the two-seater sofa into the conveniently two-seater sofa-shaped entryway. I measured the space and was sure we wouldn’t be able to open the door all the way, but apparently using a tape measure is not part of my skill set. It fits! And the room looks much bigger now. I also found a way to open our window without Zora jumping out (it involves using shelf liner as a makeshift screen), so we can finally circulate some air for more than 5 minutes (when she’d typically find a way out and we’d close the window in defeat).