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Things keep changing (thoughts on learning)

July 3, 2017

Actually I keep changing. I’ll try something new, and then drop it or forget it. And try something else, and then drop it or forget it. And until a few years ago, I thought that was a kind a failure on my part.

I’m finding out is that this is actually how I learn. How I evolve. It’s not necessarily that I can’t stick within a given program, it’s that each one is the tool that I can use best at any given time.

For example: Recently I’ve been dividing my professional life into two categories, the professional, and the assistant. When I work as the assistant, I set goals and schedules for the week, I try to tell myself what to do later on. And then the professional’s job is to go and do those things, to have the big business ideas, and so on this is an outstanding tool for me. But I imagine if you come and talk to me again in 6 weeks or so, I will have stopped using the idea or forgotten about it all together. Again, in the past I would’ve thought about this as a failure. But it’s really not.

With each successive strategy or tool, I learned something new or absorb a new way of doing things. Even it’s if it’s just a slight change, I have leveled up just a little bit.

This also applies to professional skills, academic topics, hobbies, and so forth. I pick things up, I put them back down again. I never practiced trumpet when I was in band in high school, because my enthusiasm for the trumpet was fairly limited. My enthusiasm for band on the other hand, where all my friends hung out, stayed pretty steady throughout all four years of school.

When I get excited about a topic and start studying it, I know that intensity will only last a few weeks at most. I recently took a piano again and spent two weeks practicing to or three hours every day, reading music theory, and so forth. Then my attention wandered. I actually want to get back to practicing maybe three times a week, but I think I’ll have to get weekly lessons to help me stay on track. Again, I used to think this is a fault, but now I think of it as the way I conduct business.


Tomato Curry Soup (vegan, with options)

June 26, 2017

Easy tomato soup that tastes better than Campbell’s. It’s also highly customizable.

  • Want a higher quality soup? Prep and use fresh tomatoes instead of canned.
  • Don’t have some of the more exotic stuff? Replace it or skip it.
  • Hate the idea of vegan? Replace the coconut milk with light cream, and/or serve with a hunka meat.

Seriously, all this soup really requires is the tomato, onion, water and salt. Everything else is just a matter of upgrades!

4-6 servings.


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional, I don’t use it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • dash of cayenne


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the oil, onion, and garlic.
  2. Cook, stirring constantly, until soft and translucent, 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook 5-8 minutes.
  4. Serve chunky or blend well (my favorite).

Goes well with cheese sammiches, or baked potatoes, or pasta.

Mexican Chicken and Rice

June 26, 2017

Here’s a nice throw-together recipe that makes a TON of food for fairly little money. And, it’s delicious. And super easy to make; you can sit down while it mostly cooks itself.

12-20 servings, I think.


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt (may need more, to taste, once cooked)
  • optional: thyme, bay, garlic, onion

To serve:

  • corn tortillas
  • lime wedges
  • salt


  1. In a big pot – big enough to fit the whole chicken, with room to spare – place the whole chicken, and cover with water.
  2. Lots of water.
  3. Add rice, paprika, salt, and any of the optional ingredients.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook until the chicken is totally done, about one hour. The rice will be super cooked…that’s fine.
  5. Take the chicken out and let it cool until you can handle it.
  6. Pick all the meat off the bones, in shreds. Discard the skin.
  7. Add the shredded meat back to the soup.
  8. Serve with tortillas, limes, and salt. (You squeeze the lime onto the tortillas and sprinkle on a little salt, and eat it with the soup.)

I’m dropping weight without trying

June 20, 2017

I’m not actually kidding. There are of course some caveats around this, and I’ll get to them, but it’s the real and un-tricked-out truth that I’m not particularly trying, and I’m losing weight.

How: I’ve gone “whole food vegan”, and I’m not eating anything with added sugar.

Some of you just threw up your hands, or threw something at the computer screen. “That’s not easy! That’s not ‘not trying’, Jen! That’d be impossible for me!” Well maybe si, and maybe no, but I said that I’m not trying. Let’s go over this.

Eating Evolultion


  • As a kid: Burgers, fries, pizza, carrots. I was a picky eater. I didn’t like any other vegetables AT ALL, I only liked three fruits. I ate a lot of cereal.
  • As a teen: My daily lunch was vending machine food, every day: Cheetos, 3 Muskateers, and a Sprite. Friends introduce me (no kidding) to the concepts of “cooking your own spaghetti sauce” (I thought it came in jars only!), “home made lasagne” (I’d never had it), “eating a salad”, and “Chinese food”. Yeah, no kidding.
  • As a college student: I get interested in healthy eating and cooking, so I got some books and tried out some stuff. Whole grains and vegetables become more important.
  • As a young adult: My chef friend (and now husband) expands my tastes significantly, and also teaches me to cook well.
  • Since then: Get slowly better about eating more variety, cutting down (then out) sodas, cutting down on eating out, and trying even more variety of foods.
  • Now: Most of the household went whole foods vegan and started a no-added sugar challenge.

“Without trying”?

Yeah. We watched some documentaries, did some thinking and reading, and decided to go vegan, AND to do a no-sugar-added challenge. 

Amazingly, my youngest son Ben saw the sugar doco (“Fed Up”), heard the challenge – which is I think a 2 week challenge – and declared he was doing a two MONTH no added sugar challenge, because he’s a sugar addict. We are deeply impressed, and doing the challenge with him.

So thing one: nearly the whole household is on board. (Our oldest isn’t taking part, and that’s fine.) all of this is way easier if you have buy-in from your household. 

Thing two: we’ve been cooking most of our food, instead of eating out, for quite a while. We LIKE whole foods. We’re used to it. Which is not to say we don’t get really lazy sometimes. We’ve been eating an awful lot of refried bean tacos over the last few weeks.  But of course, bean tacos are freaking delicious. 

Thing three: This has taken away most of my cravings. I don’t miss meat, or cheese, or sugar. We’ve found good replacements for anything I would miss: bean burgers are amazing and easy, hummus is delicious, and there are a half a ton of good banana based recipes for treats (two ingredient ice cream, cake, etc). I don’t PINE FOR much of anything, like I used to do. 

For the last 22 years, I have tried every reasonable diet I can think of in order to control or drop weight. Nothing has worked well. Now I’m dropping weight at a good pace, and eating really, really well into the bargain. 

The Internet we know is going away

April 27, 2017

Unless we save it.

No, I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. Net Neutrality says that internet providers have to treat everything on the internet equally, instead of blocking or charging more or whatever the hell else big, for-profit companies are absolutely dying to do.

Make three calls

The website Five Calls does an outstanding job of walking you through the process of, in this case, calling to save Net Neutrality, with a script and phone numbers and all. Do it today, do it now.

Call your reps about Net Neutrality.

A good summary

Baby Owl Rescue

April 24, 2017

We found an owl on the front lawn yesterday. Baby. Alive. Didn’t know what to do. We were on our way to Scarborough Renaissance Festival. Then I suddenly went, “Wait…..”
“……don’t they have a bird rescue that does an exhibit at Scarborough every year?”

They do. We gave them the owl. They’ll foster it to an owl until it’s old enough, and then let it go.

And we’re gonna get updates.



Leading the Resistance

January 24, 2017

I’ve decided to become the leader of the Resistance. Or at least, to act like it. And yes, I’m perfectly serious.

I figure that the women’s march is just a start. There are so many troubles facing America right now, and it’s going to be very easy for the momentum we’ve started to fizzle due to a lack of focus, or internal quarrels.

But, if I think of myself as the leader, then I’m at least party responsible for the direction the Resistance takes. As the leader, I can’t lose focus; I can’t let the momentum go; I can’t stop participating.

It’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take reading, and talking, and learning. It’s going to take a WHOLE lot of showing up. I’m the perfect candidate to lead: I’m one of the 320+ million people living in the United States.

I’ve already started with  Sign up for the newsletter there, comment here or there, and watch these spaces.

It’s time to lead.