Chicken a l’Orange with Quinoa

This is a simple, economical, nutritious recipe that I whipped up because we didn’t have any brown rice; quinoa is too blah to just dump mushroom soup on; so I looked in the refrigerator for alternatives. It turned out to be a refreshing change of pace. It is simple to throw together. Here goes!

Ingredients:

  • 3 or 4 Chicken Legs (Breasts would work just as well, if you prefer white meat)
  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • ~3 T Avocado Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Oranges

In a medium sauce pan, toast the Quinoa in the Avocado Oil until aromatic, then add water, juice of one orange, and 1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon and boil for at least five minutes, stirring often. Cover and turn off heat. Peel and segment two remaining oranges. Spread the Quinoa in a 10″ x 13″ baking pan. Lay the chicken pieces on top. Slice lengthwise and butterfly spread each segment of the oranges and place them on top of the chicken and the rice. Sprinkle remaining Cinnamon over the chicken. Add a few ounces of water to the pan. Bake at 375ᵒ for about an hour, until the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165ᵒ.

Serve it with a green vegetable of your choice or a salad, and you have a balanced meal. We had Brussels sprouts.

Poof da boona!

Yin & Yang

"Yin"
“Yin”
yang
“Yang”

I decided to just have some fun with the paint today and paint a lighter subject, so I painted two daylilies. I used a limited number of colors. “Yin” is based on a Hilltown Pride Daylily, with a Kelly Green and Green Apple split background. On the “Yang” the colors are reversed. I think they make a fun, colorful set. They are each 12″x12″.

Franklin – Steampunking My Bathroom 6

tiles_completeAlmIt may not seem like much, but it was a huge undertaking for me. I finally finished painting the lines for the tiles on the upper vanity wall of the bathroom. There are five accent tiles. I painted the background color on these. It is taking me so long because my health has been not so good. I had a severe TIA a few weeks ago. We thought it was another stroke. I am still suffering some deficits from it. At any rate, it landed me in the hospital. They did all sorts of poking around and found that I have some major heart valve issues. This explains why I am exhausted all the time and fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

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Franklin considers his grandfather to be the wisest man he knows.

The latest cartoon character to join the collection is the Peanuts character Franklin. He is Charlie Brown’s African-American friend. He is Charlie’s most loyal friend. He admires his grandfather and considers him the wisest man he knows. He is located to the right of the clock.

Of the four remaining accent tiles, only two will be cartoon characters. The other two will be dedicated to Bethann’s and my passions: sewing for her; art for me. They will be a challenge.

Focal Corner / Steampunking My Bathroom 5

tiles_accentThere is an angled wall which conceals pipes and wires. It is right behind the toilet. It is at the opposite end from the bathroom door. I was trying to figure out how to treat this one foot surface with regard to the faux subway tile painting. I started out just continuing the normal pattern around with the two yellow rows. It looked awkward. Then it hit me. This is just paint. I don’t have to order or cut special tiles. I only need to measure, draw and paint! The first thing I decided was to move the clock onto this wall and paint it with Rustoleum’s “Hammered” galvanized look paint. It is just a $10 clock with a cheesy, faux wood frame. Next, I took the yellow and framed a large section over the toilet with 3″ x 6″ tiles and filled it in with blue and shrimp checkerboard 3″ x 3″ tiles. I hung the clock at an appropriate height on this wall. This freed up the spot where the clock had been for a cartoon tile portraying Woodstock.

A couple of the guys who work at the State Store have been following my progress. I ran into one of them at the grocery store and I told him about the cartoon characters I had added. He asked me if my bathroom would pass true steampunk muster; if Bruce Rosenbaum or Damien McNamara would approve. I replied, probably not. This is just a poor man’s version. Plus the faux, subway tiles, with the cartoon accents, are really more postmodern. So what we have here is Steampunk Postmodern Fusion. My grandchildren like it! It’s bright and cheery. It keeps me from playing on the freeway, as they used to say. Who knew this guy was so design literate? Kudos!

Sienna Mist radiator
Sienna Mist radiator

Next to the toilet is the radiator. I spray painted it with another of Rustoleum’s new paints: Sienna Mist. It was true to its name. The overspray left a fine coating over the entire floor of the bathroom and the lower two feet of the walls all around. Thankfully, most of it came off with just warm water, a rag and elbow grease. This photo doesn’t do it justice. It has a copper or bronze-like metallic sheen.

I’m into the home stretch now. I have to finish the subway tile lining here and there and four or five more cartoons. I have to paint the clawfeet of the tub and perhaps the tank and seat of the toilet. That’s right. I still have to fabricate and hang the copper tubing curtain rod for the window valance, and repaint the crates. No rest for the wicked.

Playing in the Intersection

This post is cross-filed in three categories, because my painting has now crossed the line. Perhaps I should say, I am not coloring inside the lines? It has gone beyond a matter of the technical, “If You Can Read, You Can Cook …” concept, yet encompasses that. My primary care physician has now prescribed my painting as art therapy as part of my heart healing and stroke prevention plan, so it is part of “My Healthcare Journey”. Most importantly to me, and why any of this is happening is that my subjects fall into the third category: “Other People’s Children”.

“Other People’s Children” is a totally different approach to pro-life. It looks at adults whom the world has thrown away and sees the absolute beauty and value the world missed. The term “pro-life” has been hijacked by the anti-abotion mob, who are anything but. I celebrate my friends, true loved ones, whom the so-called “pro-life” crowd cast aside as ‘takers’ because of their disabilities, gender, color or economic standing. I am painting their portraits to go along with their stories. Some are from my weak memory. I have very few photos.

rosalie I tried to capture the essence of Rosalie, a woman I met in the Women’s Detention Facility in 1985. We became lifelong friends. She was irrepressible. She attached herself to me immediately. We were both about 30, just a month apart in age, worlds apart in backgrounds. She died of leukemia on the street in 2008, when we were about 53. This is just a poor cartoon representing her. It really looks nothing like her aside from the freckles, frizzy red hair and big smile,  but does capture some of the emotional impact of her coming toward me for the first time in the House of Corrections.

I miss her.

alexThe next portrait is of Alex Bejleri or “Alex the Albanian”, my dear friend. We have known him since I started to serve on the street in 1988. We helped him learn English so he could get his citizenship. He walked over 5 miles in the snow to visit me in the hospital when I was ill. He calls me when I can’t make it to the street. He no longer needs our service, but he loves my soup. He prays for me and for my family daily. He still believes what they told him on Radio Free Europe, even though he has spent most of the last 28 years in Philadelphia, living on the street. I guess, if you go to jail for something, then escape, give up your homeland, your family ties, move half a world away; it’s hard to come to terms with the reality that it was based on an illusion. You see. He was a ‘political prisoner’ in Albania for listening to American propaganda radio broadcasts. I had to find him a shortwave radio so he could try to tune them in here. I kept trying to explain that America lied to him and they were not allowed to do that here. It was too much for him. Of course, now, they have changed the law. The CIA is now allowed to lie to us “legally” by broadcasting propaganda within the US. I guess Alex should try firing up the shortwave again.

My life is so much richer for knowing him.

These are just two of the hundreds of ‘throwaway’ people whom I have known throughout my life and grown to appreciate, enjoy, and sometimes love. These are the people whom the cold-hearted, falsely self-labeled ‘pro-life’ Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and his ilk call “takers”. If one doesn’t like people, all kinds of people, one isn’t pro-life. People are not interchangeable widgets. Each one of us is a unique, living, breathing, unrepeatable expression of the love, exuberance, joy and persistence of life! Each one of us longs to be and ought to be respected and celebrated. I am attempting, with these feeble cartoons and little articles to do that for some of my lovely brothers and sisters whom most of society would rather not see.

The doctor prescribed it, because she took my blood pressure after I told her about these paintings and it was 20 points lower than before. This is good for my heart. I hope they are good for yours, too.

Line Painting as Entry Drug

DSC02939I started out just painting two different colors on the same wall. Then I stepped it up to include thin white lines to make the colors appear to be rows of tiles. Next thing you know, I’m freehand drawing cartoon characters to paint onto ‘special tiles’. The first three were from physical models I could hold in my hands: Rubber Ducky, Pokey & Gumby. Then my appetites led me to scour the internet for images to draw: Rocky, Bullwinkle, Sylvester, etc. I published these on Facebook, and my public clamoured for more! They were surprised by my talent. My wife was surprised by my modest talent. Quite frankly, I was the most surprised of all. I have never been able to draw!
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This was quite intoxicating. I took the next step and graduated into original art. Well, you can be the judge. It’s a cartoon self-portrait. Before condemning me, remember that it was you, my public, who drove me to this! I would not have gone so far down this cartoon art rabbithole without others enabling me and coddling me along the way; not allowing me to hit bottom.DSC02933

Here is the selfie that is the basis of my painting:DSC02960

Here is my 9″x 12″ cartoon selfie:selfcartoon

 

 

 

 

To think, it all started with a seemingly innocent line. Of course, in reality, it goes back to the Rubber Ducky that set me on the path to painting the bathroom to begin with. To think of it, I never would have gotten that Rubber Ducky if the bathroom didn’t have an antique, clawfoot tub.  It was that tub that put its talons into my soul to put me on the path to perditionDSC02936 of cartoon art!DSC02935

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tile_rubberducky

My Home Apothecary

Friday, I spent most of the day making capsules at our kitchen table. I have two capsule machines: size 0 [~500mg] and size 00 [~600mg]. With either of these I can make 24 capsules at a time. It is a slow process, but not difficult. It has allowed us to reduce our use of pharmaceuticals and improve our health dramatically. Back in September 2013, I reported about talking to my doctors about ginger and turmeric. I make those capsules. Sine I make them, I can add some black pepper into the turmeric capsules, which is an added bonus, not yet available off the rack at CVS. Turmeric is much better activated when combined with black pepper. This way, I don’t have to remember to add black pepper to every meal when I am taking turmeric.

I have managed to stay off Lipitor due to turmeric. With the turmeric and ginger, I have not had to have a Synvisc or cortisone injection in either of my knees for three years now. They were at the point of talking about replacement. They seldom bother me anymore. The site where the infection had eaten into my spine is totally clean and restored, as if nothing had happened there, according to the last MRI. This is what powerful, natural anti-inflammatories can do for you.

Capsule Making Machine
Capsule Making Machine

I also made 600mg cinnamon capsules and 500mg green tea capsules, Friday. These serve similar purposes. They both help regulate / reduce blood sugar and are powerful antioxidants to prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases. These take some careful choosing and preparation, however. There are a few different kinds of cinnamon. The most commonly available is Mexican (or Ceylon). The bark comes tightly rolled and smooth, with an orangey color. It has a relatively sweet flavor. So-called Saigon cinnamon looks like it is basically a transplanted cultivar of the Mexican. These are what virtually all of the ground spice in the stores are. That may taste great on your rice or snickerdoodles, but it is not what we want. It lacks the antioxidant potency of the Chinese bark (Cassia). The Chinese bark is darker brown. It does not curl up tightly in the drying process, and, most of the time, isn’t smooth. It takes some effort to break up the pieces. Be careful not to burn out your coffee grinder in the process of powdering it, like I did. This is why I now have this slightly more expensive Mr. Coffee grinder. It has a timer. I know I have to give it a rest after a 12-cup fine run, even though it’s going to take that twice to get my cinnamon fine enough to encapsulate. Another word about cinnamon; if you have Type AB blood, you are most likely allergic to it. Cinnamon actually helps lower blood sugar by helping the body to produce more insulin.

One would think it would be a simple matter of going to a food store and buying a box or tin of loose, green tea. Read the fine print! On my last trip to Assi Market, it took me over 20 minutes in the tea aisle before I found a box of simple green tea, nothing added, vacuum packed. It was from China by way of an Irish importer! Green tea has a range of benefits. It lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. It can lower blood sugar and improve the metabolism to digest and burn fat. This is especially important for those on a low carb diet. There is evidence that it is good for the brain to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It can help prevent stroke and congestive heart failure. No wonder there are so many Chinese!

From time to time, I also make coriander, to help the kidneys; and garlic, to fight a cold or infection. I’m allergic to at least six classes of antibiotics, so I have to do my own homework and do my best to stay healthy. Using herbs and minerals, I have managed to avoid knee surgery, and those expensive injections for years, and reduce the number of prescription medications I regularly use from six to two, while improving my cholesterol, and more importantly, ny inflammatory numbers. Plus, I lowered my A1c to the basement, no longer at risk for developing diabetes. Whereas, when they discharged me from the hospital a few years ago, I had diabetes from the kidney failure and steroids they had put me on to fight the Stevens Johnsons Syndrome. So I think the time and effort are worth it.

I have set up two men my age down on the street with capsule making machines. One went to a walk-in clinic with bad arthritis in his knees. He was handed a prescription for a medication that would cost almost $400/month. He came to me. He said, “What are these people thinking? I am coming to a free, walk-in, clinic. How do they suppose I am going to afford this much for their drugs?” He paid me $15 for a capsule machine and a starter supply of ginger and turmeric from our good, bulk supplier in Amish country. This set up cost The King’s Jubilee about $30. He wanted to pay. I gave him a low ball number. He will stick to it and do it, if it cost him something. Although, he is a serious person. I started supplying another man, who used to be homeless, who then volunteered with us, with ginger and turmeric and green tea capsules. This started after he disappeared for a couple of weeks. He reappeared and told me the reason for his absence was he ate a chocolate bar and it put him in the hospital. I got tired of making his capsules, so I gave him a machine and bulk spices. The next week he said, “That’s really hard work! You must really love me!” His daughter was able to stop her insulin after she started faithfully using the green tea and turmeric. He passed on the love!

Custom Tiles / Steampunking My Bathroom 4

tile_rubberduckyToday’s little update is that I started to paint some custom tiles. Originally, I was planning on painting graffitti rubber ducks of various colors on top of the tiles, once the walls were painted. However, I was inspired by the custom, reproduction subway tiles I saw when I was researching for this project. With all the work I’m putting into this, spoiling it with graffitti just didn’t appeal to me anymore. I still wanted to include my rubber ducks, etc., so this is a more civilized presentation.

tile_pokey
If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Accessorizing / Steampunking My Bathroom 3

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Shampoo & soap dish for shower.

Today I added soap and shampoo holders for the shower and little trays above the sink to hold cups, toothpaste, etc. These are made of 4″ galvanized vent caps bolted together, then bolted to the wall. I was inspired to use these in this maner by the use of the PVC end caps that are bolted to the scaffolding at Home Depot and used to dispense advertising flyers and such. I failed to share a picture of my toilet paper holder until now. It is angled out for two reasons. Our toilet angles from the corner, so this places the paper in actual parallel. More importantly, this allows the holder to receive larger than standard rolls. We sometimes are given “remnant” rolls of TP by a cleaning service. This spindle will accommodate them just fine.DSC02914

If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Subway Tiles / Steampunking My Bathroom 2

I have watched a lot of those home improvement, DIY and various home makeover shows over the last 10 or 12 years. Already, some of the things they were promoting in the beginning, people are starting to turn up their noses at and feel look dated. I remember watching shows  where they painted beautiful, natural maple cabinets to “update” a kitchen. I cringed. What could be more timeless than natural wood? Then they started putting in glass tile backsplashes in almost every kitchen. The same tiles started showing up in the bathrooms, as well. Then the buzzword became “subway tiles”. This puzzled me. They were tiny compared to the tiles I’ve seen in the subways I have ridden. The only thing that made them “subway” was that they were shaped and arranged in staggered fashion, like bricks.

I am steampunking my bathroom and I wanted to paint the walls in a faux finish mimicking original subway tiles. When I began to research, the first site that came up had someone lamenting the ubiquity of subway tiles in home decor right now, and how that is going to date every home that uses them. Oh the irony of being trendy! A few sites down was a company that has just started reproducing old style subway tiles in the last couple of years. They give the history and have them available in a variety of sizes and colors. They confirmed my hunch. The tile size I was seeing on the far side of the tracks in Philadelphia was 6″x12″. That is what I wanted to go with. I also wanted to intersperse with a couple of rows of 3″x12″ tiles to accommodate two color bands. I can’t afford tiles. Time I have. Painting is like Zen. I painted our living room, hallway, steps, etc., all with a 2-1/2″ brush.

I thought I could use a white paint Sharpie to draw the lines on the walls, using a straight edge. That didn’t work on the high gloss paint. So I found my tiny paint brush and my bright white paint. Trouble is, I can’t paint a straight line to save my soul. I never could and it has gotten worse now that I have a slight tremor. Well, the colors I had chosen are on the cartoonish side of reality, so my painting will just add to the whimsy.

DSC02908Let me say something about the colors. The first time I painted this bathroom, I took my rubber ducky to the paint store. We computer matched the yellow for the walls and the beek for the trim and the tub. My wife came home from Ladies’ Night Out and hollered at me, “Can I not leave you home alone anymore?”

At least I had not painted anything Rubber Ducky Lipstick Pink! For real, the lips on the rubber ducky are pink! Anyway, I painted over the orange and took the towels back to the paint store to match the blue for the trim and tub color. Bethann was pleased. Well, at least, she tolerated it. This is the second generation: Rubber Ducky Steampunk, if you will. The egg cream paint color is chosen based on a rubber ducky fabric. The custom blue paint was optically matched from the same curtain fabric. It is an interesting, light, robin’s egg blue. It has the subtlest touch of green to it. It changes its look between sunlight and artificial light.

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Self Portrait in the mirror of the new medicine cabinet
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The first thing I did was GFCI upgrade to the electrical before I began using power tools in the bathroom.

The light fixtures I made from 3/4″ galvanized pipe with a black pipe transitions to a 1″. I used lampsocket plug-in adapters. I wired them with lamp cord, then inserted them in the pipes with black tool insulating coat, normally used for cushioning tool handles. The shower curtain rod is made from 3/4″ and 1/2″ galvanized pipe. It allows more room in the shower than the aluminum, off-the-rack one, plus is more sturdy and won’t fall down mid-shower.

I’m not done yet. I have custom tiles to paint and the soap holders to install; not to mention what I may do to the sink and toilet.DSC02878DSC02872

Left end of shower curtain rod
Left end of shower curtain rod

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If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!