Easy Pulled Pork and Bahn Mi Salad

I have not been feeling the whole cooking thing. Summer doldrums, I guess. But this morning, at about 3 am, I decided to change my life! Okay, yes, I do have a history of 3 am life changes, and no, there was no alcohol involved. Instead, I decided (for the millionth time) to get organized about cooking. So I made dinner. At 3 am.

Super Easy Pulled Pork with Apples
2 lbs pork (chops, lion, or roast) with the fat cut off
4 apples

Chop the apples, place the pork on top of the apples in crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours. Mash it with a fork. If it is done the pork will pull apart easily. Salt lightly.
I am serving it room temperature in a salad reminiscent of Bahn Mi (a Vietnamese sandwich to die for.)

Aromatic Salad

Chopped Cabbage
Chopped carrot
Chopped cucumber
Fresh cilantro
Fresh mint

Or just buy a bag of shredded cabbage (cole slaw style) and add the fresh herbs.

Dressing
1 part Rice Vinegar
2 parts Mayo

Mix.

I used pork loin that I had got on sale and left to die in my freezer. Because that is what I do. Shoulder or picnic roast would work fine, it would just make a fattier dish. Where I live, pork has a wide range of prices – often over $3/lb. I stock up at $2/lb.

This is a really delicious dish, and crazy easy.

A new direction

I started this blog after creating my New Year’s Eve Goal to enjoy life more, have more fun and be happier. In the spirit of that, I have decided I need to focus more on my health this year, and I believe I will be taking this blog more in that direction. Hopefully this will still be interesting to my readers. I expect to still talk a lot about finances – after all health and wealth do go together! But I will also focus on my journey with food, exercise and health, of course from a thrifty perspective! I am a little scared – I find money easy to talk about and eating hard, but I am up for the challenge! Welcome to the new blog.

Still a mess

In the midst of another allergic reaction – covered in red spots from neck to knees. I am assuming it is a reaction to my antibiotics for the bee sting. Or Ebola. Most likely Ebola. I decided not to write any posts while high on meds – I respect you guys too much. Then I became obsessed with Eminem at 3 am 2 nights ago (developed the rash 2 nights ago at 2:55 am) and I said, “If Marshall can rap while high on ambien, Valium, and ecstasy, I can write a blog post on Benadryl.” Now I am realizing I was wrong.

Enjoy this post – there is a very good chance when I reread it tomorrow I will be so embarrassed I’ll take it down. Off to listen to more Eminem.

Mosquito bites and bee stings

Image courtesy of Dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Dan/freedigitalphotos.net

First of all, this is not medical advice. I am not a doctor. I am listing what I do – not what you should do. See a doctor.

That said, I am an insect magnet. You know, one of those people that will get bitten or stung 10 times while everyone around them is commenting on what a nice night it is. Fleas will jump off dogs to get to me. Add to that, I have moderate insect allergies. I am defining moderate as bad enough to go to the ER, but not fatal. My definition of moderate, if you don’t like it – bite me. Unless you are a mosquito.
I have a whole plan in place for when I get bit.
1- Complain loudly to everyone around you. Make sure you get plenty of sympathy and attention. Yes, people will roll their eyes. If it is a bee sting, pull out the stinger. Any way is fine. Your fingers work fine.

2- Break out your insect bite case. Oh yeah, I got one. Currently just a 5 year old ziplock, but I thought “insect bite case” sounded better than ziplock baggie.

3- Apply “After Bite” to the site. Go buy this med, or a generic version now. I’ll just wait here. Or try a paste of baking soda and water. Or meat tenderizer. Or whatever else you google.

4- Take an antihistamine like Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Yes, you will be too sleepy to function. Sorry.

Do not, under any circumstances do what I did 3 days ago, and take 3 pills at a time. Then have your wife ask for one and be so wonked out that when you go get it for her, you become confused as to why you have a pill in your hand, and take that one to. Evidently I became disoriented and wasn’t coherent. My wife, in true ICU nurse fashion, told me to stop talking and go to sleep.

5- Take an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen. You know, ’cause it is anti-inflammatory. And it reduces the pain.

6- If it still itches pull out the hydrocortisone cream. And the diphenhydramine ointment. And the lidocaine gel. Rotate through them as it itches. Do not scratch. Yeah right. The first two you can buy at the dollar store. The lidocaine gel needs a prescription. I don’t know why. What the hell do they think you are going to do with it? I think every parent should get an annual tube of lidocaine 5% gel every year. But maybe that’s the Benadryl talking.

7- Apply an ice pack if you need it.

Now you should be fine. Unless you are me. Then the progression is – get stung by a bee while riding your scooter home from work. Swearing is allowed. Realize your next week is worthless. Do all 7 steps. Wait a day. Get sicker. Go to work. Have your coworkers send you to the ER. Be diagnosed with cellulitis after 5 hours in the ER. Remember that you work with docs – you should have just got one of them to look at it and write a prescription. Worry about the co-pay. Assume it is MRSA. Get on 2 oral antibiotics. Go home. Get sicker. Go to urgent care. Get a shot of another antibiotic. Start steroids. Have the steroids kick in. Write a blog post. Love me some steroids.

Free fruit!

Yum-o!

Yum-o!

Yesterday, taking my dog for a walk, I discovered a mulberry tree full of ripe fruit in my neighborhood. It was the perfect set-up for guilt free gleaning – there was fruit on the ground, so I knew no one was enjoying the fruit, it was on the neutral ground between the sidewalk and the road, so I wasn’t in anyone’s yard, and it was in front of a row of apartments, so probably not a tree planted and treasured by someone living near by.

I think I ate a pound of mulberries. Gleaning (combined with gluttony) is a lot of fun.

Mulberry goodness!

Mulberry goodness!

I found Falling Fruit and discovered a (skimpy) map of fruit trees in the city I could glean from. Check it out, you may find trees in your city, too! I would love a lot big enough to have my own orchard, but as that is not currently I my plans, I will work on finding some un-loved trees to treasure!

What’s the word for…

There ought to be a word that means “I purposefully bought the healthiest trail mix with no sugar or dairy, then sat on the couch eating it mixed with chocolate chips.” I guess there ought to be another word that means, “I bought trail mix with no intention of being anywhere near a trail.”

Save money on Greeting Cards

The way to financial independence involves making the right decisions on big things – like housing, transportation, food and health insurance. But more important than all those things, is having an attitude of mindful spending. This attitude is what will help you make the right decisions on the big things, and the little things. This is a post on the little things, because the little things are important too.

Greeting cards are a great way to strengthen social ties and make our friends and family feel appreciated. But since there is no correlation between how much we spend, and how well the card accomplishes our goal, there is no good reason to overspend on them. Here are some ideas I use to reduce the cost greeting cards.

Greetings Island Is a website that has a huge number of free printable greeting cards. Within my immediate family I just print out on regular paper, but for a more professional look you can always pick up cards stock at a stationary store or a business supply store for a lot less than the cost of buying cards.

Valentine off of pinterest

Valentine off of pinterest

If your taste runs to vintage, it is very easy to google “Vintage Valentines cards” and you will find a lot of images you can print out. Valentines cards are especially fun for me, because it is traditional for them to be odd shapes which means you can just cut around the picture and write on the back.

Other ways I save on cards are buying packs at the dollar store. For instance, packs of 8 thank you cards for $1. Also, I have bought packs of cards at thrift stores. Some stores make large bundles of assorted cards, throw them in a ziplock and sell them all for $1-2.

Honestly, I don’t give out many cards, but when I do the most important part is the handwritten note inside detailing why I love you and how amazing you are. Really write something on your cards. If you are at a loss for words google can help! Search for whatever the occasion is. There are pages of suggestions. Google “new adoption card message”, sympathy notes”, “cancer card message”. These tips will lower your cost, and improve your cards at the same time.

Have a fierce, powerful, and grateful Mother’s Day

Giovanni Giacometti Young Mother

Giovanni Giacometti
Young Mother

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there! This holiday has an amazing and interesting history – it truly was never intended to be a Hallmark Holiday!

The original Mother’s Day was started by Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of The Republic, in 1872 and it was designed to be an anti-war holiday. The US had just finished the bloody Civil War, and many mothers had seen their families destroyed as their husbands and sons died on the battlefield. Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation as a way to call on women to exert their moral authority, as they had minimal political authority, to influence the country toward pacifism.

This idea did not take off (I know you are shocked) and Mother’s Day did not start gaining much traction until Anna Jarvis reframed it as a way to celebrate mothers. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson supported the idea, and congress soon signed the holiday into law. Coming full circle, Anna Jarvis pushed for the holiday in an attempt to memorialize her own mother, Anna Reeves Jarvis, who organized women to take care of soldiers in the Civil War, and who also was a pacifist activist after the Civil War. (Sensing a theme?)
Much to Anna Jarvis’ horror, Mother’s Day quickly became a retail bonanza! She was so bothered by the consumer response to the holiday, that nine years later she started campaigning to have Mother’s Day abolished.

So have a wonderful Mother’s Day. You can take this holiday as a way to shower your mother with flowers, chocolates and gifts, but the founders of this day would not be impressed. Anna Jarvis wanted you to write a heartfelt letter to your mother, appreciating her. Julia Ward Howe wanted mothers to realize what power they have, and use it to change the world for the better. This is an amazing holiday – and it has nothing to do with buying anything.

The amazing free e-book

True that! True That!

Hello, my name is Heidi and I am a binge reader. When I am happy reading nothing else is important – certainly not sleep! I stopped reading fiction after we adopted our son. I had no time to read and I get cranky when I am interrupted. Not a great way to parent! Instead for the last 9 years I have read non-fiction books, blogs and websites. They are short, and I do not get nearly as involved.

Now that I am in the “post-dependent-child phase” of my life (there has got to be a better way to say this!) I have time again to read! I am in that wonderful moment where my son is 18, is extremely independent, but still lives at home so I get to see him and say “I love you” everyday.

I am a fast reader, so if I don’t want to bankrupt us, I need to figure out how to do this cheaply! E-books are turning out to be the perfect solution for how to get free books. On our latest trip I logged in to my public library while in our hotel room, downloaded a trashy vampire novel onto my IPad, then read it pool-side. In New Orleans. At dusk. By myself. Oh yeah.

So far, all my e-books have been free from my library, or free from Amazon. There are several places online that offer free e-books! Like Project Gutenberg. They are amazing resources for classics that are no longer under copyright. If it had existed when I was in college I would have saved some serious cash. However, at this point in my life I want to read more current books. For instance, recently published fiction, paleo cookbooks, current financial advice. For more recent e-books check out your local library to see if what they offer appeals to you. I live in a medium sized city, and I am happy with the selection at my library. Also, there is a great website bookbub that links to a lot of free or low cost e-books. It is a way to easily search for a particular title or genre on multiple sites (Amazon, Barnes and Noble and several others) at one time.

P.S. No, you can not see my download list. I have a reputation to maintain!
P.S.S. I have no advertisers at this time, so I don’t get anything from mentioning websites.

Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo

Marie Laveau

Marie Laveau

My first trip to New Orleans was 12 years ago, soon after I met my wife. It was a fabulous vacation, and we really got to know each other on a ghost tour when I passed out in the street at the first stop. What can I say, I am an interesting travel companion.

Since we were back in New Orleans, of course we had to stop by Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.  Because it’s there.  Ya know?  Now I am not a particular believer in magic of any kind, or ghosts… But I was looking at one of the altars, when the psychic came out from the back, took one look at me and said loudly, “Oh my God. OH MY GOD!” I was getting more than a little nervous, assuming she was either trying to get me to pay for a reading, or she was seeing evil spirits on me. Then she pointed at me, then herself. We were wearing the same floral shirt. She excitedly told me she had it in mauve, oatmeal, brown and green. And then she told me that she loved how it was 100% cotton and so comfortable. New Orleans, you always amaze me.

This is a picture of me wearing my now favorite shirt, with my wife, at Sam Houston Jones State Park.IMG_0473