recipe: mushroom & black bean chili



A’ight. I’m trying to deal with the backlog of recipe requests, but I really had to share this one because it will definitely be a go-to when I’m craving warmth + bright flavours through the dark seasons.

This recipe is adapted from/inspired by this recipe that I did not follow. I amped up the veg content and (I feel) made it prettier with the addition of corn, peppers and cilantro. It’s also entirely vegan (unless you use the cheese that I did). It also goes together in under an hour (unless you’re making your own polenta, like I did) and will give you about 8 lumberjack sized servings for under 15 quid.

You need:

  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped/crushed
  • 1 tbsp cumin (can be whole or ground)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2  cup of portabello mushrooms, large diced
  • 1 tbsp oregano or thyme (or a combination thereof)
  • 1  can (or about 2 cups) of diced or stewed tomatoes (crushed tomatoes are not recommended)
  • 3 tbsp chipotles and adobo (I tossed chipotles in whole and that was not appreciated – you may want to chop yours up)
  • 1 bottle of PBR
  • 1 can (or about 1 cup) of corn
  • 2 red bell peppers, large diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional, but worth it)


You do:

  1. heat oil over medium heat  in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. add the onion, garlic, salt and spices and cook until the onions are translucent, stirring on the regular.
  3. stir in the mushrooms and cook for about two minutes.
  4. stir in the tomatoes, peppers, beer, herbs and chipotles and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. turn the heat up to medium-high, stir in the beans and corn and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. stir in the cilantro.
  7. serve over polenta with a good helping of cheese and ground black pepper on top.




It’s been a while, so I’m just going to jump back into this bloggy thing with a bunch of non sequiturs because that’s how I roll.

Things are good.

The sprogs opted to live full time with the baby-daddy back in March and, should that have happened, like, 3 years ago, I would have been a disaster about it because ALL THAT IT MEANS TO MY MOTHERHOOD. But I don’t feel it challenged at all. I feel like the sprogs have an arsenal of learning and experience and resources to guide them through their own decision-making. Far be it for me to hold them to me as our paths in life diverge.

I started (and have since abandoned) a sex blog. It lead to a slew of really fun projects, many of which I continue to be a part. Good, filthy, creative fun. I want to get back to this, but have a lot to reconcile around it. I ‘m not comfy with keeping things secret all the time. I hold loads of other peoples’ secrets and feel very little need to hold my own, but I started it all anonymously and am having a difficult time wrapping my wee noggin ’round what retracting or integrating that might look like. Still fun.

I keep moving departments at work. I don’t know what it all means. SNAFU.

I kinda need to figure out what to do about living arrangements due to aforementioned sprog arrangements. Not sure I want a housemate and not sure I want to move. I am conflicted.

I’m a bit of a smitten kitten over a boy whose company I’ve been enjoying greatly over the last few months. It’s very rare that good Mel-wranglers turn up; folks who get the kinds of connections I find really gratifying in between my weird, if short-lived, periods of hermitting up and processing and NEEDING to make and do. Not getting into the nitty gritty, but yeah. He wrangles well. Swoon.

It’s finally sunny and warm and it’s really difficult to keep the ADHD in check when I just want to be out playing silly baseball with the silly baseball players across the road from work or to be playing with the pig-dog and Mr. Bitey Kitty in the yard. Interesting plants are everywhere and growing and I want to commune with them and grow freckles and get brown.

I have a gazillion and 83 ideas I want to realise. I want to do get back into the craft/art show circuit. I want to express a whole bunch of shit. I want to create, create, create. As always, time is the dictatrix.

That’s me stuffed for now, kittens.




Had a definitive depression recongnition moment earlier this week: I was listening to a song that I adore by a local musician whose show I attended back in June and found myself thinking ‘remember that, Mel? You had a great time that night. It’s been a while seen we’ve seen that girl.’

And it’s true. It’s not that I haven’t been socialising, I just haven’t been going out for my (usually) weekly steam-blowing sessions in which I generally talk to people outside my immediate circle of friends and listen to new music and remind myself that, hey girl, you ain’t so bad.

I’ve been in avoidance of it due to finances as well as avoidance of certain situations I knew I would run into that would act as triggers. So which is worse, right? Staying in and having too much time to lament the position or going out and risking a trigger. Fuck.

Trying to brush the dirt off my shoulders in either instance seems muddled and unclear. I find myself worried about things I never used to worry about.

What do I weeeeear? You guys, I love getting dressed up. Having a reason to wear things I can’t to most places.

Who will I talk to? My circles of friends tend to be about my age and either poor or in parent-mode. That only kinda sucks. I love going out by myself. I’m rarely lacking people to talk to and am quite comfy sitting at the bar with my thoughts or groovin’ on a dance floor by myself.

What if, what if, what if?

I never used to worry about what ifs. Now, I get anxious at all of them even though I know they’re unfounded.

It’s a strange feeling having to make all of these considerations for something as simple as going out and doing things you love. I’ll get there, though. I slowly am, bit by bit. I practice and do well for a while and hermit up again, but I keep feeling stronger each time.


You know when you repeat a word in your head or out loud enough that it becomes an abstraction? The word door, for instance, is an extremely easy example. You say or think enough about the word and letters  of which it’s comprised and it becomes completely meaningless.  Nothing more than the sum of its parts. Just a jumble of letters with nothing attached to them.

Try it with the word happy.







(I said ‘pee pee’ – ha)




i greque




It’s easy. It goes. Leaves. And nothing is left because it becomes nothing more than a bunch of letters with no meaning if you think on it too hard.

For the better part of two and a bit years, that’s what happiness has been to me: an over-thought abstraction. Elusive. Nothing more than a jumble of letters with no meaning.

Thank you, depression.

But today, I am happy. Not happy, but happy. Happy to the point that I had to think about whether or not happy was actually a word and not just a thing I made up as the wanton slut of semantic proliferation that is my imagination is wont to do.

Today I am happy enough to start a sentence with But.

So, of course I’m thinking on it too hard now.

Why do I get to be happy?

I haven’t even taken my pills yet.

I haven’t eaten and that’s going to lead to unhappy very soon, but right now, I just want to write about being happy and not worry about my body’s needs.

I guess I get to be happy because I’ve had reprieve. I’ve had almost a week in my lovely city without the pressure of having to compete. There’s a long story behind that. I’m not prepared to share it.

I guess I get to be happy because I’ve had a week full of catching up with long time friends that I don’t get to see nearly enough.

I guess I get to be happy because there are four days until pay day and I know I have enough money to get casa cushti through until then…as long as I can find my wallet.

I guess I get to be happy because I’ve had a lot of friends confide in me and recognise that keeping their secrets and honouring their stories as theirs to tell is my schtick. I’ve been thanked and apologised to and am sincerely grateful that I have such an amazing chosen family that gets it. Gets that part of me.

I guess I get to be happy because, even though I’m a stupidly busy mama, I’ve been able to have some long, heartfelt discussions with my loin fruits and better understand where they’re at these days. And I’ve taken the time to sit back and see how undeniably beautiful they are, inside and out.

You guys, I have amazing kids. I know I’m biased, but I would wish them on any one of you as much as I wish any one of you on them.

I guess I get to be happy because I get to be around creative, insane people who inspire me and make me want to make marry the shit out of life ALL THE FUCKING TIME. I mean it. I’m entirely surrounded by amazing people who never cease to compel.

I guess I get to be happy because I can claim to have cultivated all of the above, in spite of being an asshole sometimes and incredibly awkward sometimes and less than giving sometimes. I can somehow be happy and sit with regret for sometimes treating my favourites and my bests like shit sometimes and be sorry and feel that regret in the base of my belly but be humbled and thankful that my favourites and my bests are still there and always make me want to be a better person. To be who they are to me.

I guess I get to be happy.

Thanks, life.



do as I say, not as I do

the foxglove vizzini peed on

Had a fantastic weekend doing fantastic things and some generally not so fantastic things, but things that feel fantastic to get done nonetheless.

Highlights include:

  • It was gorgeously sunny all weekend long, which instantly fills my pitcher.
  • A trip to the market in which pig-dog became my personal shopper by peeing on the plant I was contemplating buying.
  • Digging in two new little gardens and planting nasturtium, basil and parsley seeds in the sun with the daughter.
  • Had some productive chats with The Ex, which I feel have established a bit more credibility in each of our claims to have a better, friendlier relationship with each other.
  • Free comic book day and a fibre arts festival.
  • An outing to theatre with a couple lady loves to watch two very good friends of mine performed in an amazing play and being the riff raff section.
  • A wee bar shift training our gypsy and having a patron exclaim “you have THE BEST smile! Don’t you EVER lose that!”
  • Getting the lawn mowed and cooking a turkey dinner.

Unfortunately, most of that happened after I rather stupidly bent over for half an hour while I smashed pot shards down to used as filler/drainage in our herb pots. Not a smart move for a rather top-heavy lass. And, you know, I wasn’t about to be smart and STOP having fun and getting shit done. So now I’m paying the price of my bloody-mindedness and don’t get pain like this often enough to be equipped with the skills to deal with.

I’m a big baby, kittens. I might just die of back pain. Leave me behind. I am dead weight.

Yours in hyperbole,

enjoy the silence

I started the eve thinking that getting a couple of hours of tank sewing time in would be nice.

And I wished away, and wished away, and wished away all of the other folk so hard.

What? I adore ALL of my people, but a girl needs to be alone sometimes.

Was kind of a tough day for all of us. I’m glad we know to retreat.

And when everyone finally did leave, I found myself enjoying the silence.

So I didn’t sew at all. I hung with the dogs and did a little organizing and took a long, hot bath and realized that my default self-care piece of needing to accomplish SOMETHING isn’t all that self-care-esque all the time.

Sometimes I just need to sit and learn to be at peace amongst the chaos. So I did that and it was good.

Also, I have new cowgirl boots and I love them.


day pass

This weekend, I escaped to this:

a tire swing


sleepy sunflowers

little puggle on the prairie

handprints in lobster love

favourite stove ever

epic grilled cheese sandwhich

a welsh cardigan corgi

a boy and his toys

the back 40

And I don’t feel guilty at all.