Feb 27, 2012

Quick & Easy Chili

I needed something to eat but didn't want to make a "lot" of work to make it happen. The Quick & Easy Chili was the result of raiding the pantry and the fridge. So here goes.

Quick & Easy Chili
  • 1 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 of a Bob Evans Sausage tube
  • 1 can of mixed vegetables, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can of light red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes
  • Chili powder (as much as you want to add)
  1. Brown the beef and sausage in a skillet, then drain
  2. Add meat, vegetables, beans, and diced tomatoes to a stock pot (I used a Dutch oven)
  3. Simmer for 2 hours
  4. Add chili powder and stir occasionally while simmering
  5. Serves 4-6 (depending on how big your servings are)
  • I added a cup of cooked peas I had in the fridge (from the night before)
  • I added a cup of cooked elbow macaroni I had in the fridge (from the night before)
  • I used the SWAG method (Scientific Wild A$$ Guess) when adding the chili powder a couple of times while it was simmering & I stirred it
  • I used the other 1/2 Bob Evans Sausage tube to make the sausage gravy that I mentioned in my Recipe Research entry, and poured it over the chili when I ate it. YUM!!!

Feb 22, 2012

CFL vs. Incandescent

I came across an Apartment Therapy How to Buy the Right CFL cheat sheet that shares a little more info about choosing to transition from incandescent to CFLs or LED bulbs.
Living in an apartment can sure change your perspective about light bulbs. The complex I live in has in the leasing contract that the "resident will replace all light bulbs with CFLs." So, being curious about them, I did some research and performed my own "field trials" with them.

There are several countries that have already enacted laws to prohibit incandescent lights and the U.S. isn't far behind them in doing it too. The best summary of what has been happening globally with CFLs and incandescent can be found at Wikipedia. And the best site to explain the differences between CFLs and incandescent can be found by clicking on Earth Friends. To keep this entry short, I won't bore you with all of the details, just share my opinion.

In trialing CFL bulbs in my apartment, I've purchased different lumen amounts because that is what sets the "shade" of the bulb. I have some that are considered soft and shed a more yellow shade of light. I also have some that are higher in lumen output, that are more white. Depending on where I use them, dictates what and how I can see things. I use the softer ones in my living room and bedroom, while using the whiter ones in the kitchen & bathroom. There is definitely a difference. It would behoove you to learn a little about lumen levels to better pick the CFL bulbs you use.

Overall, I am happy about using CFLs because they save some costs in my electric bill but learning more about them helps me choose which ones I buy and use where in my apartment. The only problem I have with them, is that you can't just throw them in the trash because they contain mercury and the complex I live in doesn't have a recycling program for them. But I'm working on that too...

Feb 10, 2012

Driving & Mirrors

I've made several entries about driving because I do a LOT of it, have been doing it for over 20 years, but love learning new things, and just want to share with you. Click the Driving Advice tab at the top to see some of my driving related entries. This one is about how to adjust your mirrors properly according to the Blindspot and Glare Elimination (BGE) settings to be able to drive more safely. Rather than re-write what has already been done, I am using the entry on the Driver's Ed Guru website as my reference. I'm summarizing that info here, but please do visit their website for more information about the BGE settings. Yeah, they even have a video you can watch...but I have it here too...

The Blindspot and Glare Elimination (BGE) mirror setting was developed in 1996 by a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers named George Platzer. The BGE setting reduces the usual two large blindspots to four mini blindzones. None of these four mini blindzones are large enough to completely hide a car.
There are several advantages to the BGE setting:
  • You no longer have to turn your head to look into the blindzones.
  • Only a brief glance at the side mirror and inside mirror is needed.
  • By glancing at the mirror, you keep the road ahead in your peripheral vision. Turning your head completely eliminates the road ahead from your field of vision.
  • Glare from the side mirrors is almost entirely eliminated. You should no longer have a trailing car’s headlights shine directly into your eyes.
This is how to set up the BGE setting:
  • Place your head against the driver’s side window and adjust the driver’s side mirror so you can barely see the driver’s side of your car.
  • Move your head as close to the center of the car as possible and adjust the passenger’s side mirror so you can barely see the passenger’s side of your car.
  • To check your BGE settings, watch as a car passes you in an adjacent lane. It should enter your outside mirror before it leaves the rearview (inside) mirror. Also, the car should appear in your peripheral vision before it leaves the outside mirror.
  • Remember, your inside rearview mirror is your primary mirror and it will take time to get accustomed to no longer seeing the sides of your car in the side mirrors.

As a personal note, I will ALWAYS use the shoulder look to confirm what I might see, even though their bullet point above says I don't have to. Sorry, been doing it for so long that I will still do it. But, employing this information means that I don't run the risk of sitting in a body shop any more than I need to...

Drive safe...

Feb 8, 2012

Recipe Research

I am always searching for new ways to prepare meals. Normally I start searching at All Recipes.com (yes, I do have an account there and have stuffed my recipe box), but I also do random searches to find things that catch my attention. This time, I started with a simple search but discovered some AWESOME ideas that I just had to share... so here goes...

Bob Evans Sausage Gravy
Of all of the meals of the day, I LOVE breakfast foods most of all, followed by Italian dinners... Ask a roller derby friend of mine, Elektra Q-Tion about going to Perkins, Eat N Park, or a hole-in-the-wall diner for breakfast with me. One breakfast item that I particularly crave, is sausage gravy. So, I did a search for a decent recipe for it, and discovered some great things shared on the Bob Evans website, including their recipe for sausage gravy. Okay, yes, I'm sharing the Bob Evans Sausage Gravy recipe, with some minor personal edits in green, but please scroll down to read what else I have to say about their website.


  • 1 pound Bob Evans Sausage Roll (whatever flavor in the pantry or that you desire)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (unbleached white works best)
  • 2 cups milk (whole, 2%, and 1% work best, keep your eye on skim)
  • Salt & black pepper to taste (or whatever other herbs you want to add, I suggest Old Bay)
  • Crumble and cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat until browned. 
  • Stir in flour until dissolved (a small fork or whisk works better than a spoon)
  • Gradually stir in milk (whole, 2%, and 1% work best, keep your eye on skim)
  • Cook gravy until thick and bubbly (medium setting, any higher would set off the smoke alarm)
  • Season with salt and pepper (or whatever other herbs you want to add, I suggest Old Bay)
  • Serve hot over biscuits (or whatever you want to put it over)
  • Refrigerate leftovers (if you happen to HAVE any, LOL).
Personal Recommendations:
  • Use ground turkey and the sausage gravy over stuffing at Thanksgiving
  • Use the sausage gravy over tortillas wrapping scrambled eggs & bacon
  • Use it as sauce over ANY pasta
  • Make a pizza using this recipe as the sauce
  • Check out all of the Bob Evans recipes
  • Check out the 20 Recipes under $2 (per serving) recipes

Feb 7, 2012

Lightning from the Wall

My "retro" charging station
I might be considered "retro," but I'm not as old as Ben Franklin flying his kite with a key attached to channel electricity into my apartment. But, with the advances in electricity demands coming out (iPods, iPads, cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc.), our energy needs are a little different now. So are the ways we have to plug them in to recharge. I did some searching for ways to channel the electricity to where it is needed, as proficiently as possible.

When I was a homeowner, I thought NOTHING of cutting out part of the wall, rewiring the outlets, and making them multi-gang outlets. Now that I live in an apartment, my landlord frowns on that. I resorted to using a plug strip next to my end table so I could plug in and charge up all of my stuff. But, in the pursuit of not only a cleaner method, but the addition of a USB charger, I came across the following, and thought I'd share it with you.

RCA Wall Plate Charger
I've always striven to follow technology because there is a little bit of a geek in me. But part of doing that has required me to follow the leading companies that move forward in development. So, the first solution I discovered for consolidating yet expanding my electricity needs was RCA coming out with the USB wall plate charger. How AWESOME is it to be able to have a three prong plug AND 2 USB charging stations right next to you?!?!

Job well done, and for only about $20.

However, since following technological advances, I've always been drawn to what Belkin has developed. It is as if they read my mind for what I'd like to see and what I want.

Since I spend a LOT of time in my car, I was looking for a way to charge my phone, my iPod, and my HP Tablet; by using the USB connection that comes with each item. I first purchased this Belkin product to make that happen (click HERE).

Belkin Wall Charger
But, as I have the time to do some research, I found that Belkin offers another option for doing that in the house. So, I will be getting one of THESE to put next to my end table and retire my retro plug strip...for also under $20...

Bottom line, there are some ways that you can streamline your charging needs but not sacrifice your USB connections on your computer or the plug space needed on the wall to make that happen...happy charging...

Feb 2, 2012

Tat Thoughts III

My chest now...
Previously I made entries about Tat Thoughts, and Tat Thoughts II. A comment on why I choose totems as ink symbols. Tats and ink to me, mean that you are trying to express what you feel and are on the inside, in your spirit, with the people on the outside. All 10 tats that I have are an expression of something in my spirit, with people that happen to ask about why I got them, and why "that" symbol.

Rooster Head Ink
I mentioned in Tat Thoughts why I got the Rooster tat. That is my Chinese astrology sign, since I was born in 1969 (click HERE for more info on the Rooster). It describes me as a personality perfectly! The design was based on a drawing by Elektra Q-Tion, and then supported heavily by Christy at Blue Flame with the needle. Christy is an amazing tattoo artist, she agreed to come in on her day off because she loved the symbolism. I love her attention to detail, and embracing all of my ideas. Her attention to detail appeals to my sense of being a perfectionist, and her love of roosters and winged symbols is par none (if you play golf, you know what I am saying). I was honored that she was willing to come to work on me and to spend several hours tattooing me because of the symbol that I wanted.

American Goldfinch Ink
I followed it up a few months later by getting the American Goldfinch (also known as the Yellow Finch) because it is yet another of my animal totems. While in the process of getting an idea for my next animal totem, I did copy and paste a lot of info from the web. If any of this is your writing, let me know and I'll give you credit or delete it, depending on what you tell me to do.

When a Yellow Finch is spotted it is a sign that enthusiastic times are head with days full of bright, high energy. Finches fly, typically bobbing and weaving through the air. Watching a Finches free-form flight can fill you with a sense of freedom and happiness.

Native America Indians called the Finch the "bird of happiness." They thought the bright yellow color of this bird was a gift from the gods and would bring bright joy and freedom into their lives. They also thought the song of the Finch was the sound that announced the upcoming bounty of the spring season.

If a person has been concealing his or her creativity from the world, Finch may be the sign to start making their value more vocal and available to the public. The Finch song can lighten your heart and lead you on a bouncy path of creativity.

Finches are also sociable creatures, so a Finch Totem could be a signal to get more involved with social activities.
Black and yellow are the colors of the archangel Auriel. These colors in meditation and ritual are used to invoke that aspect of this being that oversees the activity of nature spirits--the fairies, elves, and devas.

The presence of goldfinches usually indicates an awakening to the activities of those beings that are normally relegated to the realm of fiction. Goldfinch can help you deepen your perceptions so that you can begin to see and experience the activities of the nature spirits yourself. This deepening of perceptions is reflected in the black cap--awakening to that which is normally hidden from view.

Goldfinches are usually permanent residents, and in those areas where they are found, you can also find the fairies and the elves. Goldfinches like border areas and young brush growth found at edges and borders. Edges and borders are intersections where there are natural doorways to that other realm of life.

Even their nesting habits reflects this link to the border areas, the 'Tween Places.' They build their nests in a fork or on an outer branch high in a tree. It is usually made of thistledown. Thistle has a long association with nature spirits and the healing aspects of animals. Blessed thistle was once used to invoke the god Pan. Thistle has been a symbol of endurance. It is through endurance and persistence that we can open to the Realm of Faerie once more. Goldfinches are birds that can help us connect with those nature spirits that can show us how to heal animals--wild and domestic.

Goldfinches are rarely silent. This in itself is a reminder that Nature is speaking to us constantly and that we should learn to listen and communicate with it from all levels. It reflects that the nature spirits are around us at all times.

In winter, the male loses its black cap, and the bright yellow turns to an olive yellow. This also reflects the connection of goldfinch to the world of the nature spirits. In the winter, they withdraw, working more within the earth, rather than in the outward expressions which are more evident in the spring and summer. It does not mean they are not there, but rather that they may not be as easily perceived.

The goldfinch also has an undulating (an up and down movement) flight pattern. This rhythm and pattern can be used in visualization to help loosen the subtle energies of the arua and facilitate leaving the body. The wave pattern also reflects the ability of a goldfinch to lead us to the inner and to the outer realms, from the human to the Faerie, from the physical to the spiritual.

Understanding the value of change, Ability to resolve family conflicts in a healthy manner, Creating balance in dealing with different peoples, Understanding the power of voice.

Feb 1, 2012

Crock Pot Italian Chicken Breasts

My crock pot
Yes, I raided the pantry again, to throw something in the crock pot that would be done when I got back from practice at 10:30 tonight and wouldn't really be in the mood to cook or stop at a fast food joint. So, here it is.

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (totaling 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 can of Italian spiced stewed tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 8z can of tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp mixed Italian Herb seasoning
  1. Place the chicken breasts in a crock pot
  2. Pour the stewed tomatoes & tomato sauce over them
  3. Sprinkle the seasoning over them
  4. Set on the LOW setting for 4-5 hours
Tortilla Image via Wikipedia
Serving Suggestions:
  • Serve whole chicken breasts over a bed of rice or pasta
  • Use 2 forks & shred chicken for a sandwich
    • Italian bread is a good start
    • Toasted Texas Toast is another good idea
    • Add some lettuce and roll it in a tortilla
  • Use shredded chicken as a topping for a medium or large sized salad
  • If you use any of the ideas above, make sure to add some shredded cheese into the meal
  • Whatever sauce is left in the crock pot after you have served dinner, save it for use tomorrow...