MJ Monday-Meals: Chicken Taco Casserole with Cucumber Avocado Salad

Going on my writing retreats can sometimes be a challenge, especially when I try to take other people’s dietary needs into consideration. It’s a good thing I like to cook and peruse recipes.

Here’s a combination I used the last time I took off for the woods with my critique group.

Chicken Taco Casserole

With this, I left off the black olives and made my own taco seasoning to make sure there was no sugar in it. There are at least a couple dozen taco seasoning recipes on Pinterest.

I paired the casserole with Cucumber Avocado Salad.

With this, I swapped out the feta cheese with goat cheese, as not everyone likes feta.

The cool creaminess of the salad was a wonderful counterpoint to the mild spiciness of the casserole.

SELF HELP REVIEW: ATOMIC HABITS

About a year ago, it seemed as if everyone was reading this book. People I knew claimed it was life changing. There was a wait list at the library.

I wonder how many people were as disappointed in the book as I was.

I found the book little more than a rehash of other books I’ve read. Now granted, I’m older and at one point in my life was deeply involved in a corporate career, so I read as much as I could about worker smarter not harder. Many of the suggestions in this book have been a part of my routines for years.

I have to ask myself why I keep looking for a magic solution.

MJ Monday-Motivation: Journaling

I periodically get away from journaling, but eventually return to doing it. Some people call it Morning Pages; others have different names for it. The main character in Diary of a Mad Housewife referred to her journal as “Accounts”.

Whatever you call it, sometimes writing out everything helps. I find that my “secular” life, if you will, tends to clog the creative flow. Writing down my frustrations, expressing my rage, even recording those special good times helps purge the blocks. Once those thoughts are gone, consigned to paper, my brain is free to focus on my stories.

The Man Fridge

Years ago, Parade magazine interviewed a female private detective, who maintained women make better detectives than men because if a man opens the refrigerator door to look for something, unless it’s right in front of him, he won’t find it because he won’t “move the mustard.”

That phrase has stayed with me.  The truth of it rings in my head at least once a week.

I once hid a bottle of champagne on the bottom shelf, in back of my refrigerator, for six months. No one noticed. Why? Because that would involve moving the mustard.

I have decided my path to riches will be the invention of The Man Fridge. The shelves will be only as deep as a gallon of milk. Initially I thought of using baseball’s “strike zone” as the height, but I’ve concluded that won’t work, because the bottom shelf would be too low. The ideal height would be waist to eye level on a six-foot man.  Even then, the lower shelves might be invisible.

The inevitable problem with The Man Fridge would be the width. It would need to be a minimum of three times wider than an average refrigerator in 2020.  Man Fridges could conceivably take up entire walls in kitchens.  And that creates the problem of doors. How many doors would be sensible? If a man won’t move the mustard, why would he open multiple doors? The doors, I’ve decided would have to be a deep as the shelves. That way, perhaps only twice the width of current refrigerators would work. Many refrigerators do have double doors.

Maybe this could work.

 

 

 

MJ Monday-Manuscript: Excerpt

From my current work in progress, BESIEGED BY THE MOON, currently scheduled for July publication.

Phoebe wished she knew of a way to make Parker angry enough to stalk off and brood. To leave her alone. She didn’t want him around while she meditated. His presence was too disturbing, too disruptive to her calm.

She turned to face the hiding moon. Turned her back on her mate. He was throwing everything off schedule, off kilter.

Velvety ribbons of mist twined in the trees at the back of Helga’s yard. The air was heavy with a storm warning. The night should have been cool, but left-over heat from the day further weighted the atmosphere.

A sign, Phoebe thought. An omen.

“I’ll leave you alone to meditate.”

There might have been disgust in his voice. Distrust. He was one way with his friends, his pack, all show, but when they were alone, he changed.

She could let that bother her. They were mated. Neither of them could do anything about their status.

Inhaling deeply, she settled on the damp grass for a short meditation session. The neighborhood skunk had made his rounds and left his calling card. She placed her quarterstaff next to her. The meditation would purify her, remove the stain of her conflict with Selena. Many tasks needed to be accomplished this night. She’d sloughed off enough.