New Blog, New Year!

Happy New Year to friends, family, and new readers such as you. 

As a new blogger, I would like to illuminate my vision and intentions for this blog, for you, my new and treasured reader:

  • To express myself to family and friends- I can be a confusing person to interact with, and am always searching for new avenues to lift the fog that may come between us.  Togetherness and relationships are very important to me.
  • To explore the medium of writing short and focused pieces in order to solidify and expand my writing prowess.
  • To educate people about autism in a fun and casual way.
  • To provide an outlet for my busy brain that runs in circles if not taken on frequent walks.        
  • To be open to surprises and unexpected fun along the way.

A journey I hope you will take with me.

Welcome to my view.

Dillon

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

2011 Spring Ode to Camping: Top Reasons to Plan an Outdoor Adventure

I have this new love for camping. Perhaps it is the new spring air and the two consecutive sunny days making me daydream. But, hear me out! 

Deer in camp.

Camping is so awesome. From the time I tumble out of the car, stiff muscles and fresh dreams, to the moment I leave after checking the campground to make sure I left it the same as I found it: I am engaged in the very natural fabric that sustains us. I hear the birds, smell the food in neighboring camps mingle with woodsmoke. The sunlight somehow, I swear, sinks deeper into my skin. From a toe dipped into cold water, to hearing the coyotes yelping in the moonlight, everything feels more real, closer, perhaps. I’ve come to realize that this soul infusing quality that nature provides, I just can’t live without it.

Here I give you the top six reasons you should plan an adventure in nature (soon):

1. Your soul needs it!- Being in nature is naturally healing, relaxing, and instantly changes your focus. There is a certain part of us, as human animals, that needs it. I am convinced of it.

2. Support your local state parks and natural preserves.- During this uncertain economy, our state park funding becomes seen as a luxury or non-necessity government program. Support them to stay open for everyone by enjoying the service they provide. I am certain nature gives back plenty of beautiful rewards for your patronage. Natural beauty, and access to it, is a human necessity! 

3. Relearn your monkey skills.- It’s a saying Shawn taught me: “We go camping so we can learn to use our monkey brain.” Improvise, get down to basics, use ordinary and found materials in new ways, invent, create tools to do what you need. Learning camp skills makes me feel more confident in my abilities, and independent as an adult. Adapt.

4. Natural Order– You may wonder, “what the hell would it be like if I couldn’t text my lovie for two days? No Wi-Fi access, how can I survive? How will I know how to dress if I can’t get the latest digital weather update on my dandy new app that’s supposed to make life easier?” Wow! I feel like I’m in a Talking Heads video: our busy lifestyles may be carrying us farther away from what we really need. Eventually, “you may ask yourself, ‘how did I get here?'” By that time, your natural adventure is long overdue. Let nature organize you.

5. Beauty-Natural light showcases everything better. I am learning this important piece of information as an amateur photographer. My most beautiful finds are usually outdoors. Whether it’s  a bird I’ve never seen before, or seeing a friend in a new light. Is it the natural light, or are my eyes more relaxed and accepting of beauty?

6. Food- All this lofty talk is making me hungry! Camp food always hits the spot. Is it because it takes more effort to prepare? (I can’t find the outlet for the Cuisinart.) Or is it the woodsmoke that makes everything taste smoky and carmelized? Barbecueing every night is my dream anyway. Camp food rocks!

Are we there yet? Soon. Plan your adventure soon.

Posted in Travel | 1 Comment

Croutons: The Overlooked Salad Topping

They come in fancy little boxes at the grocery store. One could pay up to $6 for such boxes full of stale bread with seasoning on top. Recently, we made our own croutons:

 We started by cutting a (thawed) frozen gluten-free baggette into bite size cubes.  Then we chopped up some herbs from the garden: Rosemary, parsley, chives, thyme, oregano, and marjorum. Toss the herbs into the bowl with the bread in it.  Add plenty of salt, pepper, and paprika. Drizzle a little bit of canola oil and extra virgin olive oil onto the whole mixture. Then roll up your sleeves and mix it up with your hands, making sure to coat evenly with oil and seasoning. Bake in glass baking dish or cookie pan at 350 degrees for approximately 35-45 minutes, stirring it up once or twice as it’s cooking. The texture will tell you when the croutons are done. Taste one: if it’s crunchy and sizzling, it’s done! If it’s chewy or crumbly, it needs more time in the oven. Cool them and store in an air tight container in the pantry for a week or two.

Every salad needs a good crunchy topping. Try making your own croutons at least once.

Posted in Food | 4 Comments

Easy and Delicious Protein Pancakes

I lovefood.  My roommates, Shawn and Ahron, are awesome cooks.

Ahron is a grill master, with an honorary PhD in ribology. It’s no surprise he’s good on the grill, our resident blacksmith. Barbecue from Ahron is truly a sublime, no utensils, experience. Meat and finger foods; two of my favorite food experiences. He also puts quite a spin on short-order cookery. Shrimp and avocado tacos with shredded cabbage and hot sauce, yum. Teriyaki tri-tip with rice. I love it all.

Moving from dinner to breakfast, Shawn’s food starts my day. Sometimes, it’s eggs with garden grown chives and parsley. Other times, I pop in a gluten-free toaster waffle, and Shawn will help me perk it up with toppings or fruit salads on the side. Our recent food addiction (I promise it’s a healthy habit) has been to cook these protein pancakes. 

Shawn and I have been doing a cooking class every week. Recently, our class has been focused on breakfast. Shawn took a basic recipe for Protein Pancakesand we add our own flavors. The basic batter recipe is 3 eggs, 1 cup fine almond meal, about 3 Tablespoons of an oil of your choice, and a dash of salt. Shawn and I add 1 Tablespoon sugar and vanilla extract to taste. Then there’s a choice to make: Do I pick chocolate chips or go fruity? Fruity requires a good 2 teaspoons of grated orange zest added to the batter. Then as the pancakes are cooking, heat up a scoop of frozen berries (pictured), or use strawberry jam, which is awesome. The chocolate chip option requires only a small amount of chocolate chips to finish the batter. Too many chocolate chips will mess up the batter. (Yes, of course, I learned this by experience. Heh.)

The best part is sitting down to a vase of fresh flowers, and a view of the Santa Cruz mountain skyline to eat this glorious breakfast that I helped to make. Life is beautiful and delicious.

Posted in Food | 3 Comments

Hailee Steinfeld has True Grit!

If you haven’t seen True Grit, beware of spoilers.

True Grit shines with the Coen brothers at the helm of this modern day remake of the John Wayne classic. What a shock this movie was to me. I was expecting a gritty performance from Jeff Bridges, who has developed quite a range of character-acting abilities in his modern roles. As expected, Bridges delivered.

But, it was a break-out performance from 13 year old actress Hailee Steinfeld (as Mattie Ross) that impressed me immediately. She anchored the film with a realistic portrayal of a young girl, grief stricken, but motivated by a sense of justice to find the scoundrel responsible for the brutal killing of her father. Hailee Steinfeld delivered a no cheese, no syrup performance; something rare to achieve as a young actress. I haven’t seen such an outstanding young performance since Keisha Castle-Hughes  played the lead in the instant classic Whale Rider. I can’t wait to see Hailee in other films!

I wasn’t sure Hollywood had access to any fresh talent, especially after M. Night Shyamalan destroyed The Last Air Bender. Do yourself a favor: if you are thinking about putting The Last Airbenderby M. Night Shyamalan on your Netflix que, just slap yourself instead. It will hurt less than watching his adaptation (read as: dreadful mutation) of the classic and imaginative cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. (Don’t be afraid to watch cartoons, people! This one’s a must see!) 

Ah, yes! Hailee Steinfeld has given me some hope for Hollywood’s future. In a landscape of over-processed, over-digitized, over-enhanced, and weak-scripted box-office-grade movies, this one stands out. The violence in the movie can be abrupt, and I can’t compare it to the 60’s original that I haven’t yet seen.  But, I would definitely recommend this movie to those of you who have the guts to withstand periodic violence in the name of justice.  The quintessential violent scene: Matt Damon’s Texas Ranger character gets a serious tongue injury from a scuffle with a bad guy, but he doesn’t stay quiet for long. (Don’t we all hope for a silent Matt Damon sometimes?) 

If you haven’t seen True Grit yet, you’re missing Hailee’s awesome performance.  Check out the True Grit Trailer (Courtesy of Paramount) if you need more persuasion.

Posted in Movies | 2 Comments