Balsamic Vinaigrette and Dressed Greens Recipes

Balsamic Vinaigrette

I can’t remember the last time I bought salad dressing. Due to a 3/4 sized fridge (Only kind that fit in our former garden home and that I’m super stubborn about for some reason since I insist there is plenty of space in it to feed a family of five and I love it so with it’s bottom freezer…) I resent any condiment that takes up the limited door space due to a very simple reason: beer bottles only fits on the doors. I prefer beer to pre-packaged salad dressing. It’s a pretty damn easy equation, honestly.


Don’t mix this on a plate- but I’m thin on options from the Free Image library… Photo by Peter Fazekas  

Also, this dressing is the damn easiest thing I make and yet it’s one of my favorite. Ratios below are a standard ratio from those packages of salad dressings, but these days I usually just eyeball a smaller amount. But since I don’t have measurements on that… here ya go.

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. honey or tiny pinch of sugar
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed
generous salt and pepper to taste

I make this in a canning jar to make shaking it easy. Here’s the order to make blending nice and easy: Oil first… then everything else. The only one you want to really watch out for is if you put the honey in first it can get stuck on the bottom of the jar and not incorporate.

Please note- if you make a big batch and put it in the fridge overnight (which you’d need to do… because of the fresh garlic if you’re storing it) the olive oil will set up as a quasi solid and it’ll need to warm up on the counter and shake it up again before the next use. Due to said garlic it will continue to get a bit more “fresh garlic spicy” as time goes by… so I usually only make enough for a couple of days.

How do you use it? As a marinade, drizzled over rice and chicken, over salads… or over dressed greens. What are dressed greens, you say? LET ME TELL YOU!

Dressed Greens

OH MY GOD IS THIS THE BEST SALAD! Here’s how it goes: bowl (I wrote bowel first because of course I did) full of spring greens mix, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette, and then tossed with your hands. Nothing else in it and it’s a god damn revelation is what it is! Our girls devour it, there is never any left over, and there is no slicing or dicing of other or any ingredients or any nonsense! It feels quasi middle eastern or southern European, and God please just try it. Two things- don’t mix ahead of time because it gets soggy and don’t save it- because it gets soggy.

A Cat Update and Things and Thoughts

The well is a bit dry today… so I’m going back to one of my favorite pump primers and seeing where a random word generator will lead us. First though, a cat update.

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It’s microchip official. It’s like marrying your pet.

Alabama, our just under one year old former stray adoptee, is just back from the vet after getting all the standard nips and shots. He had a bit of a rough go at it I think- when I dropped him off on Tuesday he had this tiny little squeaky baby voice meow- very cute coming from quite a large tomcat and the girls and I were big fans. When I picked him up the next day he had a much deeper and rougher voice. I actually commented on it and told the vet tech that had to be the first time a voice got deeper after a neuter! She said no, it was just because he meowed for 30 hours. Straight. I could tell in the way she said it that she wasn’t sad to see him go home. Poor guy!

Also, he’s taken to following me around and napping near me more often during this week. I think he sees me as his rescuer from the horror that was the vet office; forgetting that I was the one to take him there in the first place. I would fall to my knees and declare “It’s my fault! I’m so sorry!” but it’d be immediately followed by “And I’d do it all again too!” so I don’t bother. He slept it off most of Wednesday and now on Sunday it’s like nothing even happened.

So now onto… Random Word Prompts!

Strew: I don’t strew much in this life, besides blog posts and flowers seeds; being a more ordered and controlling person by nature. But the word reminds me of this quote: “Don’t worry about being scattered; remember that stars and seashells are scattered too.” Too much order and too much control are a bad thing- like that one planet in A Wrinkle in Time, so I should try to keep it more loose.

Winter: Well like, it IS winter, so not really going to be breaking new ground with that. But Texas winter is not like real winter. The grass is still green and we hang out outside a lot. It’s interspersed with cold days, and we’re probably getting into the real bits now- but by mid February it’ll be planting time for the hardier annuals and veggies. It still gets dark before 6pm though, so that blows.


And in fact some of the hardier veggies are already in. No the Toscano kale doesn’t need tomato cages… aside from it keeps the dog from running through it or peeing on them. Even the best of dogs is still a dog.

One thing that I do (remember that controlling thing I mentioned) is I watch what color plants I put in the front yard to ensure that flower colors don’t clash with the Christmas decorations. So no yellow or orange out front, even though they’re some of my favorite flower colors. We had roses and geraniums and a few others bloom through Christmas… it’s a thing I pay attention to.


The pink and bright purples are mostly in the back as well, like these decorative kale. Kales? What’s the plural of kale actually? (Google says it’s “kale.”) The decorative kale is right next to the vegetable kale-  and this makes me uncomfortable in ways I can’t really put my finger on…

Also, no one think I’m rubbing the mildness of our winters in their snow chapped faces- we just trade the months that are impossible to be outside with you northerners. July and August are MISERABLE and we tend to not be outside nor do outdoor activities during those times. It all balances out, promise.

Unaccountable: Something unexplainable… okay. I know exactly what this should be actually, but hesitate because it seems so insane to write out. Nothing ventured, nothing… alright. Here we go.

One morning in a summer many a long year ago (I was 10ish) my brother and I woke up before sunrise.

Let me back up. I woke up, immediately threw my legs over the bed, and walked out of the dark room. This is the antithesis of how I woke up in those days- which ALWAYS entailed sleeping much later and until I was dragged out of bed by my mom. I was also completely afraid of things under my bed… and so would wait for her to come get me so the alligator couldn’t. So every bit of this one morning is out of character.

Even weirder? My brother turning the corner out of his room at the same time I walked out of mine. Even weirder than that? We said nothing to each other, and just both walked to the front door, unlocked it, and went and sat on the stoop outside… to stare at a light in the distance, that slowly rose straight up and disappeared into the just starting to lighten sky.

I can still feel the marble of the front hall on my feet. And the stoop was so low as to be uncomfortable (only a few inches above the sidewalk.) I can remember sitting there and the size of the light we were looking at. (It was round, white, and slightly larger than how Venus looks in the night sky.)

My brother and I said NOTHING the whole time we sat there. It was probably an hour before Mom woke up and found her children sitting outside the front door. (I can’t remember if we shut it behind us.) But being a parent now I can’t imagine the heart attack this caused her.

My brother and I talk about it now every few years- just to confirm to each other that it wasn’t a dream I guess. But nope- we both remember it. It happened. It’s completely impossible for me to explain. One of those things I guess, like how I don’t really believe in ghosts but have heard them. Or how I don’t believe in aliens… but don’t think that was what the light was… but don’t know what it could have been… but it can’t have been that. But dammit… it was something. (I just called him to re-re confirm. This happened. He’s thinking ball lightening these days.)

I never speak of it honestly, though I guess now I just did. Maybe because it is so unaccountable. Maybe because I know if someone told it to me I would roll my eyes and judge them for such ridiculousness. Maybe because… I just don’t talk about it.

Bright: We painted our bathroom on the very last day before I had to go back to work from the holidays- on a day we had my folks over for dinner too, actually- and our bathroom is much brighter now, which I love. It was a lot to cram into a day- but it sure felt great to accomplish it.

The difference in switching from a flat sheen in paint to satin is IMMENSE in the brightness of your rooms. We also went from a dead looking but warm beige to a cooler grey/light blue. (I realize no one wants to read about paint after the Steven King-esque incident I just wrote up there… I’m trying to plow through myself, so let’s slog through together here okay?)

Anyway, we’re continuing the quest to banish ALL beige from the house… and same as our last house- looks like our bedroom is going to be the very last place we paint. It should be the first! The bedroom should be a sanctum! And yet… it’s easy to put priority on the public spaces of our house. It’s on the to do list in 2019, promise.)

As for the bathroom- it actually is giving me a bit of trouble. I tend to LIKE warmer colors- but the painting I really like in there is in cool colors. (Seen HERE. ) The painting looks good with the new wall color and the marble counters and floors. But NOW how to warm it up and tie it into the bedroom with the warmer colors in there? How to bridge this gap without clashing… I’m spending some real mind space and time on this ‘un.

Taste: Hmm. I have developed a taste for many things I didn’t like as a kid- chicken skin. Eggs. Bone in Chicken. Stuffed peppers. But god damn is caviar the grossest thing I’ve ever tasted and i can’t imagine that ever changing. Especially the big red salmon ones. Lord!

3 Tips for Ebay and Cats

Considering I’m sitting here in unmatched socks and a bathrobe I’m really wondering if I’m one to be offering tips of any kind… but it’s one of those blog ideas I had while blow drying my hair that I wrote about on the last post and so I’m hoping whatever I was thinking about rises back up to the surface as I type… it’ll be a surprise for both of us to see where this list goes!

First up: Ebay

Cross reference any book (especially if its older) on Ebay before you purchase on Amazon. Goodwill has a book division  that sells books on Ebay for steep discounts… like just a few bucks for a hardback. And a lot of libraries sell their older books as well. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve bought off Ebay this year, but damned if I’m not gonna try:

  1. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky (recommend) Bought 2 copies actually, one as gift.
  2. Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. Less thrilling… should have figured that out ahead of time, but still good.
  3. All four of my books on Alebrijes… bought some of those last year though
  4. A box of 20 toddler books (I donated the 3 Jesus-y ones) for $20.
  5. All three of the Last Lion books- biographies on Winston Churchill by William Manchester… who up and died before the last book and now I’m slogging through Reid, who finished the series but just didn’t have the same gift for language, unfortunately. First 2 were great.
  6. Gift of the Crow- about…crows and befriending/attracting them because I really like them. Not the best read. Really cementing my witch status with liking crows, spiders, graveyards, full moons… hell I even had a newt once (Oregon newt with the orange belly) so literally have owned two “eye of newt” in my time. (With help from my Aunt I’ve come to realize attracting crows is not the best idea for my yard… I’ll write more about it at some point.)
  7. Dustland by Moira King – Trilogy- my 12 year old loved this one, but the author takes a hard left in the last book and ruins the whole thing. Young Adult series, I wouldn’t recommend but damn the first one was good.
  8. Anna of Green Gables and White Fang– neither of the progeny have read yet- they are the books in the back of my seat back pockets in the car in case they get bored on long trips. So far they’d rather stare out windows, which is okay too.
  9. Malcolm X biography as a replacement for the copy my husband accidentally left in the Denver Airport.
  10. Long Walk to Freedom: the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela– only $3.74! Haven’t read yet though.
  11. Painting as a Pastime by Winston Churchill- Oh my GOD how annoying is he talking about painting!
  12. A Wrinkle in Time– not as beloved by the twelve year old as it was when I read it.
  13. Last Defender of Camelot and A Night in the Lonesome October– both by Zelazny. First has my favorite short story/novella (“For a Breath I Tarry”) and the second was out of print for a long time and I pick up copies of both whenever I see them. I probably have 4 of each.
  14. A bunch of cookbooks

Grand total is neighborhood of $60 on books for the year. Anyway, the tip is check there first.

Second up: Ebay

I also bought this rug on Ebay for $28 and free shipping


I could have asked him to move I guess. He’s not wearing weird mid-calf shorts, was just the camera angle.

Look, Ebay is great for books and rugs… I’ve bought some earrings on there too… but steer clear of anything name brand or anything glass (learned not to buy wine glasses on there this year…) etc.

Now this rug? It definitely is old, which is what I wanted, and a third the price or less than it would be in a shop. If it really is or isn’t a 1930s Afghan rug I really don’t know. Also, it’s what’s called over-dyed, where they know Americans almost always just want red rugs and so old rugs are dyed that color in a little too vivid of a red to ever seem authentic. But for me, I don’t stand on my art and so am not a rug purist.

I also have count ’em 4 cats- so between the slight risk of cat pee (they mostly stick to bathmats and only when I miss their cranberry pills) and sharpened claws I wouldn’t drop any substantial money on a rug. But whatever- I like it and that’s what matters! Even the larger rug sizes are cheap and generally have free shipping… it’s an untapped rug resource, I tell ya what.

Finally- I have NO patience for online bidding- all these purchases have been Buy Now options, except the rug actually, but no one else bid on it so I got it at asking price.

Third Up: Cranberry Pills for Cats!


They’re treat like pills- the cats love them… so no cramming a pill down a cats’ throat involved

So the second oldest of our cats has always had some urinary tract issues, peeing places she shouldn’t when she’s uncomfortable, multiple trips to the vet due to it and crazy crystals in her urine. I think it’s because she had a litter of kittens much to young, which I take the blame for, so am more forgiving about all the bathmat cat pee than I would be otherwise. I actually got a call from the vet’s office when my husband was dropping her off to be spayed- he said they could still do the spay but it’d be more expensive because she was already pregnant and what did I want to do? I was horrified! I said of course we’ll keep the kittens and to bring her back. As my husband was hanging up the phone I heard him tell the vet one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard in my life: “I guess we’re only pro-choice when it’s people…” It, to this day, still cracks me up.

They were cute kittens. My brother kept one. But boy did it jack with that cat to have kittens so young, so like, don’t do that. Anyway- these pills work WONDERS. I shake the jar and the cat comes running and jumps on the counter to eat two of them a night and no bathmat peeing ensues. I used to break the pills in half, but they’re chewable so now I just let her have at them whole. I buy these on Amazon. They make a hairball one too, which has been successful with the long haired white cat in the past. That one (our oldest) now ALSO gets one of the cranberry pills, just in case he needs it because he occasionally likes peeing in laundry baskets of clean clothes right in front of you and how we haven’t murdered him for it yet is a mystery. He’s aggravated about the new black and white male cat- and so his peeing is just him being a jerk and trying to tell us to drop the new cat off a bridge in a sack, I think. Still though… cranberry pills just in case.

The full list of our cats, for clarity:

  1. White long haired male, 14 years old: Wally (short for Wallace) My cat, though the 3 year old calls him hers and walks around with him.
  2. Short haired tri-colored calico, 9 years old: Alley (she’s the main one who gets cranberry pills) The 12 year olds’s cat, not much of a cuddler, bit thin on personality honestly.
  3. Brown long haired female, 3 years old: Lacey. She is the 8 year old’s cat, super cuddley and likes sitting on my lap or desk while I work during the day.
  4. Short haired black and white male, 1 year old: Alabama. Technically the family cat, but the 12 year old is mostly claiming that one too and the husband will staunchly deny he has any stake in the ownership of that cat. The rest of us completely love him though. He also has enough patience to let the 3 year old walk around with him.

I promise my house doesn’t reek of cat pee- regardless of how I have made this all sound.


That’s it. It’s a weird and short list- but it’s pretty outside and I should really go garden. High of 70, low of 60- god bless winter in Texas!