Fajita Magic

Y’all, I’ve accidentally invented the best entree ever. It all started when Brent and I planned a dinner party for ten friends.

What to serve?

“Fajitas,” I declared. “You just grill some meat and veggies, and everyone piles whatever they want into a tortilla.”

Simple, right?

If you know me, you know the answer to “Simple, right?” is never, ever “yes.”

I never know how much to cook for a crowd, so I just fixed plenty of everything. We stretched the dining table out to the max, jammed twelve chairs around it, and started serving the goods.

There, um, wasn’t enough room on the table for everyone’s plates and two baskets of chips and all the food dishes.

We made do, and everyone ate their fill of fajitas. The awkward crowding made the event all the more cozy. That’s my story, anyway.

After we ate, I put the leftovers into plastic containers and stacked them in the fridge.

When I looked into the fridge the next day, it was as crowded as the table had been. It dawned on me–five or six kinds of fajita contents sat bundled into separate Gladware boxes, plus another containing two cups or more of leftover cooked rice.

Inspiration hit.

Out came alllll of the fajita ingredients, even some cheese and sour cream. I mixed everything with the cooked rice, consolidating the leftovers into a baking dish.

Into the oven until it started to brown… viola! A super yummy casserole. I’ve thrown leftovers together and heated them up, but this time the outcome was exceptional.

And only one Gladware box (not seven) needed to store the same amount of food!

Sorry, I don’t have a picture (It wasn’t pretty anyway) or a recipe* (use whatever you have). But I’ll definitely make this stuff again.

Bon appétit!
Thanks for reading,
Jan
* PS: I sort of have a recipe, in that I marinated the meats in soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, and salt.
jj

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Cat-and-Mouse

Here’s a riddle:

What gets underfoot, completely ignores humans,
carries filthy things in its mouth,
and generates a steady supply of hairballs?

In our case, it is not a cat.

No, it’s the Roomba Brent gave me this past Christmas. It’s been in our house four months, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

Correction: I should say “her.” Because we named it Hazel, after the old-school TV comedy starring Shirley Booth.

Anyway, Hazel does a creditable job of dusting the floors. She glides under the furniture with ease and bumps her way around obstacles.

But she isn’t all diligence and efficiency.

A diligent appliance? At our house?

Don’t be silly.

One evening, Brent could only find one sock of a pair he’d left on the floor. Hazel had done her rounds, so of course he asked me whether she’d eaten it.

“I don’t think so. She worked until her battery ran down, then went back to the docking station like normal.”

But the sock was nowhere else, so I went and turned Hazel over. Sure enough, she had picked up the sock–then dusted half the floors with it hanging out of her mouth.

Eeewwwww.

I wrestled the sock away from her, only to find she had also coughed up a hairball. Or more accurately, crafted one out of someone’s long grey hair.

Can I help it if I shed?

A few minutes with the kitchen scissors took care of it, but I’m betting this hairball won’t be her last.

Just yesterday, I put Hazel in our bedroom and shut the door so she wouldn’t wander out into the living room, which was already clean. Half an hour later, I realized I didn’t hear her high-pitched humming.

I went to the bedroom door and listened. Nothing.

“Hazel? Everything all right in there?” Nothing. (Really, did I expect an answer??)

So I turned the knob and pushed the door open. Half an inch. Then something blocked it and three beeps sounded.

“Hazel. Move!” (Tries again)

“Beep-beep-beep!”

The door was blocked, but good. Fortunately, our room has a door out to the patio…

I had to go find my house key, people!

And there she sat, right in front of the closed door, not doing a single thing.

I still don’t know why she stopped, but after I opened the door, pointed her out, and pushed the “Home” button, she was able to find her way back to the docking station.

Believe me, I followed her every step of the way.

And people wonder why I don’t program the thing to work while I’m away from home.

Thanks for reading!
Jan

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Yep, I’m a Fair-Weather Cyclist

We know a few cyclists who are “randonneurs.” According to Paul Rozelle in his 2012 Bicycle Times feature, “Randonneuring is long-distance, unsupported, noncompetitive cycling within prescribed time limits.”
What Rozelle omits from the definition are concepts like regardless of weather and day and night. Seriously, these people ride 200, 500, 700 miles plus.

And what is the opposite of a randonneur?


That would be me.

Hey, shakes are fuel, too. Don’t judge.

Anyway, we have a big bicycle-tour vacation coming up this fall, and Brent has encouraged me to train for it. Starting in, like, January.

But I stalled, partly because of the yucky weather and partly because of an unusual amount of travel coming up. Why build up my miles, only to go out of state, where I’d have no bike for two or three weeks?

He was getting worried that I would slacker my way through our entire spring and summer, then be unable to ride so much as ten miles a day on the tour.

I rode a few times when it was warm enough for me, maybe three to seven miles, just to appease him. Cloudy, windy… I won’t say how much I grumbled about it.

Ah, but then the weather turned.

Sparkling blue sky, short-sleeve temperatures… I’d set out to ride five miles and come back with eight. I’d enjoy the sight of wildflowers, feel the sun on my shoulders, and taste the satisfaction of powering up a stiff climb.

Venturing farther last week, I took my favorite steep, curvy downhill. My speed spiked at over 30 miles an hour, accompanied by the fragrance of honeysuckle.

It doesn’t get any more magical, people.

I wasn’t about to stop for honeysuckle photos, but did pause to get this scenic shot before plummeting down the escarpment…

You can sort of see the town waaaay down below.

My advice? If you get the urge to go exercise out in the sunshine, do it!

Quick–before it gets too hot.

Thanks for reading!
Tailwinds,
Jan

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Potpourri

When the North Texas spring gives you flowers. . .

. . . you get to use bluebonnet blossoms in your backyard-rose potpourri.

I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am that warm weather has finally arrived, but I’ll try. Tune in Friday for my tale of “spring-is-busting-out-all-over” happiness.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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We Have Lost the Plot, by Paul Mathews

They’re back–the British Republic’s President Zayn Winner and First Lady, Electra Winner–to make sure Presidential Spokesperson Howie Pond doesn’t accidentally catch a minute’s peace.

It seems the President, himself a former actor (and legend in his own mind), has written an inflammatory screenplay featuring current world leaders as characters. In a drunken evening out with a handful of Hollywood somebodies, he seems to have lost the first draft and plot notes.

Howie: “But you changed the names?”

Winner: “I was going to, buddy… when I typed the second draft.”

This screenplay was a global disaster waiting to happen. For once, Howie shows no reluctance. He’s on this investigation like white on rice.

Howie certainly has his ups and downs. He gets some help from his wife, the ever-alert Intelligence agent Britt. And yet he must also make the Ultimate Sacrifice: In the heat of sleuthing, he misses a meal.

If you’ve enjoyed the “We Have Lost” series so far, you’ll like the madcap action in this Great Weekend Read as much as ever.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Short Story Long

Here’s the rest of the story I alluded to in my recent post “Persona.”

For the first five of our nine days in Liberia, I tagged along with the team, attending church and visiting the local supporters and sister charities BESTWA is connected with. We met many people–children, medical personnel, teachers, the elderly, cooks, government officials, hospital patients, pastors–and got a feel for their culture and the challenges they face.

Daniel relaxing after a productive week

The one thing I didn’t get was any quiet time with our Liberian Field Director, Daniel, to listen to and record his stories. I’d recorded only a few conversations in the car, complete with road noise and music. And the occasional roar as we downshifted to charge up a particularly steep hill.

Anyway, by the fifth day I was beginning to panic. How am I gonna write a biography if there’s no time to interview the subject?

But soon the Lord brought me around to Romans 8:28. Oh, wait… He is working everything out for good. That helped me relax and submit to His sovereignty through our leadership. After all, information can be sent electronically. The main reason I needed to be in the country was to absorb the feel, the sounds and smells, the manners and personalities of ordinary citizens, the cadence of speech.

And that, I was doing. Nooooo problem.

Then suddenly, on the sixth day, we had no place to rush off to after breakfast and the team meeting. Daniel and I sat in the dining / conference room, fan humming softly in the background, and he told me about his childhood. His struggle to become educated. More struggles to survive and care for his family during the long civil war.

Daniel had overcome challenges that left my little frustrations in the shade.

Working with this courageous, unassuming man of God is a huge honor for me.

And now I have a framework to start assembling Daniel’s life story, and will have more opportunities to talk with him as the project goes along.

God was right. He knows what my project needs better than I do. He took every apparent obstacle and turned it into a blessing that benefits the work.

I hope you find my story encouraging. Whatever you’re doing, God knows what he’s doing and he has your best interest at heart.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Happily, by Chauncey Rogers

I’ve just read a delightful new book that I heard about from Kim, on her blog “By Hook or By Book.” Happily is an imaginative twist on the Cinderella story, told from the viewpoint of … well … I’ll let Amazon.com tell you about it.

Image from Amazon.com

Here’s their descriptive blurb:

If the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn’t, make it.

Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests, if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

I might as well admit it, my favorite thing about this book is the snarky, almost curmudgeonly voice of Laure, the main character. That, and her desperate, hare-brained schemes to escape the city and her destitute lifestyle. I don’t want to give spoilers, but this is one kids’ book that even we grandmas can enjoy.

What a hoot!

Er, I mean, what a Great Weekend Read!

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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