Saturday, April 30, 2011

Green Chicken Curry and Tornado Recovery

I don't think I can full describe the pain folks are going through down here. Just watching those horrific images on the TV and you wait and listen to the sirens outside is bad enough. Now, that everyone is climbing out of their "holes" and trying to find some normalcy, you hear stories of loss.

One of my co-workers, Melanie, her family lost everything. Home flattened. Another co-worker has a friend that attends the University of Alabama, and she said that the girl's neighbors across the street, all 4 college students, were killed. My other friend, Crystal, mentioned one of her childhood friends. She said it was so odd, the other day she thought of her, and reached out to her on FB. Just a few nights ago, this girl with her 7 week old baby and husband were struck by the tornado in Birmingham. The twister sucked her out of the house. They found her body under rubble, she died. Her husband is in critical condition. The baby, thank God, survived.

Electricity is still out for many, many residents. People are collecting the basic necessities. Even I, who tends to stick to her own little charities, donated a few dollars to the Red Cross.

There is not much more to say. Everyone is a little numb. Too many people died, and the death toll keeps climbing. Parts of my community look like a war zone. It's just too much.


On a happier note: Yesterday at lunch I was in need of a little fun. I took off for St. Elias Catholic Church for the Lebanese Food & Cultural Festival. Went alone and enjoyed some hummus with flat bread. I bought a Middle Eastern cook book, and chatted with a few people. Afterwards, I went to this wonderful Fair Trade store downtown called - Sojourns. I bought an Acoustic Arabic CD, some bumper stickers (that I hang on my frig) and some wonderful Nubian soap - Goats Milk with Chai (with Rose hips) and Peppermint with Aloe. (I will take pics later.)


Last night I made an excellent Thai Green Chicken Curry. Recently, I went to "Taste of Thailand" in Hoover/Birmingham and tried my husband's. It was divine. I have a wonderful authentic Thai cookbook - and finally recreated the dish. I must say - it is one of the best I have ever whipped up from my cook books. One of my friends on FB asked for the recipe - so here you go:

Green Chicken Curry

1 tbsp oil    1 onion, sliced     1 garlic clove, chopped finely    2 - 3 tbsp green curry paste
1 3/4 c coconut milk   2/3 c chicken stock   4 kaffir lime leaves    4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes (I ended up cutting tenderloins)  1 tbsp fish sauce  2 tbsp Thai soy sauce
grate lime and juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp soft light brown sugar   4 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in wok & stir fry the garlic and onion for 1 - 2 minutes, until it softens
Add curry paste & stir fry for 1-2 minutes more.

Add coconut milk, stock, lime leaves, bring to a boil and add chicken.
Reduce heat and let simmer gently 15 - 20 minutes, until chicken is tender.

Add fish sauce, soy sauce, lime rind & juice, & sugar. Cook 2-3 minutes, until sugar has dissolved. Serve and garnish with cilantro.

That's it!

Have a beautiful Saturday!

Friday, April 29, 2011

REWIND - Forgiveness

Here's another edition of "REWIND" - Forgiveness was the topic. Enjoy this post written about well over a year ago!

I am reading this book - again. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.

It basically involves a married, Presbyterian woman who decides to spend about 3 years living in a catholic, Benedictine monastery for inspiration for her poetry.

Weird, I know.

But it spoke to me.

If you did not know, one of my "gotta do some day" items was to spend a weekend on a retreat at a monastery. Which, BTW, I did last May. May 8th to be exact.

I did a little research on apparently Alabama is a "hot bed" of catholic goodies. I really was just looking for an experience. I found that a little town north of Birmingham has just what I was looking for. A Benedictine Monastery - St. Benard's Abbey.

I actually went. Seriously. I checked myself into a monastery just to experience what it is like to be "God focused" for an entire weekend.

I never really wrote about my experience. I talked it up before I went - but truly never shared what happened.

First of all, it totally threw me for a loop. I am not going to lie.

The grounds were simply magnificent. In a "english countryside" sort of way. It was quiet, the buildings old.. the wind was blowing just right - the entire "scene" of it all was perfect.

The rooms, as you can imagine are very sparse. You take a vow of poverty. I had a very uncomfortable bed with an old blanket and the world's biggest crucifix above my head. There was a simple folder on the bed with a schedule of prayer times, etc. No one greeted me upon arrival - my name was on a bulletin board with a room assignment. The door was unlocked.

Dinner was taken in silence with one monk reading from the bible. Breakfast in complete silence. Then lunch was more communal.

I went to mass every single time it was offered. I went hiking across the grounds. I went to the Ave Maria shrine (a trippy-mind experience all in and of itself.) I sat in a gazebo reading and actually ended up taking a nap. I went and pet the horses. I sat at the pond just contemplating life.

What I learned?? I am a social creature by nature. The Benedictine life is a HARD one to follow.

Most of the experience was emotional - and for me, I tend to state the facts. I am comfortable with sharing anger, but never much more. ;-)

Taking all of this back to the book I am reading - there is one line Kathleen mentioned. It's simple. I know it to be true, heard it a million times - but it was to "Forgive Daily."

That's a tough one. But you know what - it spoke to me.

I know the last two posts have been cryptic and I am clearly venting about someone or something. I appreciate your silence in responding to this. It was me venting, but not being able to lay it all out there on the line.

I woke up - and I forgive.

What I would like to leave you with is a few videos and pictures from my trip to the Abby. Perhaps you can pull some inspiration from the pictures and "feel" the silence. Visual images always speak volumes to me. Perhaps .. since I clearly am having trouble putting my thoughts into words (or rather the experience) - maybe I can tell the story and my feelings through the following items.

Many Blessings to you!

This one is not one of mine - but it shows the video of St. Benard's during mass! (I did not take video during mass - I thought it would be rude!)

Here is a video that someone put together of the Ave Maria Grotto.. better than what I had!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alive and Well

"As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world." ~Terri Guillemets

I woke up this morning to a cool breeze floating through my sunroom window, and a few birds chirping. You would never know that just last night, we all sat crouched in our little corners, terrified for our lives, riding out the deadly storms that ripped through our communities.

I live in Birmingham, Alabama. Very close to both Cullman & Tuscaloosa. All three of our communities were ravaged by an F4 - possibly F5 tornadoes. The one that flattened Tuscaloosa was 1/2 a mile wide and steammed forward to Birmingham and ended up 1 mile wide.

To quote James Spann, Chief Meteorologist at ABC 33/40, "I have seen nothing like this - ever - in my career."

The winds were so strong... the sound was terrifying... the sirens blaring...

All you could do was hold on. Luckily, the electricity stayed on for a few hours.. then - about 9pm, while the sirens were blaring, it went black. We lit a few candles, opened the window for air, and just went to our bedroom, and would periodically check things out on my iphone.

Please pray for the families and our community.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hang on TOTO!

Talk about a powerful storm! I woke up this morning around 5am, the strangest flickering zaps of lightening were making the sky look like spot lights were flashing across the sky.

The electricity went out. The heat began to rise in the house, and all I could think about is - "What if all of my groceries spoil." LOL Instead of saving money for eating out, you guys know I have budgeted for healthy foods and I am eating in. Fresh means - not in the pantry, so I got a little nervous. Luckily, three hours later, the power came back on. We were one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately 1/2 of the city is without power. Hwy 280 (which is a very busy road) - all of the lights are out, so you can imagine the gridlock. The city of Moody (which is about 15 minutes east of Birmingham) was wiped out early this morning. Homes flattened.

The problem is - this is just the beginning. Apparently, we will see some of the hardest tornadoes and storms tonight. The worst we have seen in quite sometime. I typically don't get nervous, since I grew up with tornadoes and hurricane after-effects, etc. We are close enough to the Gulf that we get that weather..

BUT - this one.. sounds a little scary.

I happened to be working at the TV station last night promoting "optimal heart health" with a two hour phone bank in the 5 & 6pm newscast. While there, I had the chance to chat with a few folks about the upcoming weather, and I've gotta tell you.. when the meteorologist raise their eyebrows and say - "It's going to be a bad one." They aren't kidding.

One of my friends in town, Kalee, is a meteorologist at CBS42. She was complaining the other day about how every time the National Weather Service sends out an alert, they have to run a crawl across the screen warning people. However, sometimes the NWS gets their tips from 'weather watchers', and yes there are have instances where the "weather watchers" got it wrong. Sooo, many times, she feels like they are crying wolf. I got up this morning and caught her personal FB page notices, and yep - this is the real thing.

As I write this - the sky is starting to get darker, the wind is kicking up. I live on the third floor of an apartment - and luckily I have a great big closet to hide in, if necessary.

Unfortunately, the egyptian chose to go to work today, and I assume he will end up staying there, to ride out the storm. I called and asked him to come home earlier, but no luck getting him on the phone.

I think what I will do is go ahead and cook dinner, make a pot of coffee, and pray we keep the electricity through the night.

Sending out safe thoughts to everyone batting down the hatches!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bad Blog Friend

Lately, I have been a bad blog friend to the blogging community. I know many of you read my blog on my FB fan page are not bloggers, so I do not have to apologize to you guys. But there is another community - about 221 of them - that follow me - that do blog.

Yep. I have not had any time to read and comment on their posts. I feel really bad about that. I do make a point to scroll to about 3 of them that I never miss. However, I have not been leaving comments.. and that's a bad blog friend.

The blogging community is a fascinating network of some really amazing people. I have "met" some of the nicest, most insightful writers. I have even received a birthday gift from one, and hope to meet up soon in person. One that hails all of the way from New Hampshire (and now lives in NYC) was driving cross country and made a point to meet me for lunch in Birmingham. Again - all amazing people.

For those of you that do not blog - I highly recommend it. Even if it is just a place to show pictures, or collect quotes, or share poems.. whatever - give it a whirl. I also think networking is really important. As much as we say we write for ourselves (I believe that is 80% true,) I know for a fact that I would not enjoy it as much if I did not have friends to comment on posts that touched them in some way.

You just never know - perhaps something you are going through could affect someone else. Perhaps your triumphs and falls give someone else inspiration to dust themselves off and try again.

Not to mention what I have learned about other people. I followed a teenager that sailed across the world, and documented the entire process. I remember when she was lost at sea - and I how scared I felt for her. I followed a woman battled cancer - I read every post about all of her treatments, until a few weeks past and I heard nothing. Finally, her husband left a final post describing her final moments. I follow a few people going through depression, living with bi polar, one who left her husband in the middle of the night due to abuse... (Unfortunately she has not updated since that last post about her leaving that night.) I follow some really cool SAHMs that are all brilliant, and funny and still keep busy raising an amazing family. I laugh when they laugh. I get a little tear in my eye when they are sad. It's like reality tv - but in the written word.

With that being said, my real life has gotten in the way of my blogging time. Many times I pound out a post in the early am before work - I am in bed so early these days. This is my formal apology to my sweet followers who comment.

Have a great week!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Peter Cotton Tail was Captured by a Pirate

Autumn liked her little bunny we gave her!

The ship docked at Liberty Park in Jones County, GA to celebrate Autumn turning 5!


The shipmates were able to score a good catch!

No bottles of rum... but this will do just fine!

Ahoy! Cap. Heather made an amazing cake - all by herself!

Time to check out the treasure!

Oh yeah - that's as crafty as I get. ;-)

Capt. Jack (my dad) cooking the grub!

Capt. Mae (my mom) was swobbing the deck. (or is it swabbing??)

Capt. Heather (my sister) was busy taking photos of her own!

The egyptian Pirate designed his own pirate hat!

Time to eat up!

Needless to say, I took a break from WW this weekend, but tried to be a little careful. I re-started this morning, and will take a week off from weighing in.

Details baby!

Not sure if you can tell.. her hand is digging into the cake!

Some kids get all the cool toys.


Seriously.. it got worse.. trust me. ;-)

Reliving his childhood.

That's us.

The rest of her "booty"

The egyptian on Bill's bike.

Autumn with her father - Bill on the Harley.

I spy two kids playing in the back seat

My dad was showing me his garden

The egyptian and I at Metropolis - a Mediterranean & Indian restaurant in my hometown - Macon, GA.

I ordered the Chicken Tandoori

Dad enjoying the Sheesha.

Lestat, the Vampire Cat.

Easter egg time!

My sister mixing it up

Easter Lunch

Fresh green beans with balsamic vinegar & olive oil

Marinated Lamb Chops

Corn on the cob and Pecan Rice

Romaine Salad (from dad's garden.)

deviled eggs and tomatoes


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