Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

There's a storm coming in; it's heavy and hot outside, a wall of gray against the mountains, and rain in the forecast. Nice. It's about time to cool this place off...

Another week has passed quickly; the first week of school kinda rolls like that... and I wasn't even IN school! But I did learn a few things this week... and this week my gratefulness includes:

*Cooler nights. Shorter days.

*The neverending supply of basil streaming in from the garden.

*Squash, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes that are overflowing in their productivity as well.

*Seth's first week of school went really well. He's got buddies in all his classes, is thrilled to be in advanced algebra and already got assigned a trumpet solo in band. He was up until 9 p.m. doing homework last night, but that's more a testament to bad time management than amount of homework... he'll get his organizational groove on here soon... hopefully.

*Husband and I are headed into a quiet and relaxing weekend. If it rains, even more so! (Please rain. Please rain.)

*I have the energy for some major fall housecleaning. This house really needs it. I don't know who has been tracking dirt in from the garden (who, me?), but it's pretty dusty around here.

*Walla Walla has the glow of late summer, and it's beautiful. The wheat fields all have that buzz-cut look, and the dust makes for spectacular sunsets.

*I had quite the social days between yesterday and today, after a summer of relative hermitishness, and it wore me out! In a good way. Had lunch at a local favorite spot today, Creektown Cafe, where I haven't been in months. Had an amazing panini. Guess what, it had basil in it!

*Exchanged music with a gal-pal today, so the new infusion of tunes is bound to jazz up my coming week. I am grateful for people to share the music love with. Also still jamming to Owl City in my car, to and from school with the young lad.

*I posted this video on Facebook this week, but wanted to share it here too, for posterity! I love this stop-action style, and the message doesn't hurt either. Aw shucks.

Happy weekend, everyone. I hope yours is as good as mine--speaking optimistically, of course!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday 13: Thirteen books of summer

What a summer! Can't believe it's over... well, technically it's not until Sept. 21, I suppose, but when school started yesterday, it sort of spelled the end of MY summer...

I read and listened to a bunch of books this summer, more than I realized til I sat down and counted. The last three I'm still in process with, but I'm throwing them in anyway. I know I'll be done by Sept. 21!

In order, more or less, chronologically:

1. The Last American Man, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I loved this book, much more than I anticipated. I bought it as a question about the author, wondering if Eat, Pray, Love, her infamous memoir of a few years back, was just an accident of timing and publicity... I came away believing she's a writer! In this nonfiction kind-of biography, she tells the protagonist's story with clarity and humanity; he's an inspiring, if at times infuriating, character. Well worth the time. Seth really enjoyed reading over my shoulder for part of it, and other than some spicy language, it's a good perspective for kids to be exposed to, I think. Very "back to the earth." Good for this dialed in, wired up generation.

2. The Lady Elizabeth, by Alison Weir. My first "listen" of the summer, an interesting fictional take on Elizabeth I's role in England's history.

3. Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown. I had a hard time with The DaVinci Code. It seemed overly "foreshadowed" and poorly written... but that's just my opinion; obviously many millions of people disagree. Weirdly enough, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Go figure. So I thought I'd like to see the movie Angels and Demons, but wanted to know enough of the story going in... what better way to ignore some of the writing but to have it read to me?! It worked. Only once or twice did I actually comment out loud to the dogs about a corny turn of phrase or hokey sentence... most of them just slid on past me and it was an entertaining way to spend my time while doing yard work. Still need to see the movie...

4. When You Are Engulfed in Flames and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Leather, both by David Sedaris. I put these together since they were re-reads and by the same author. Technically they were "re-listens," and I love hearing David read his own work. Really makes it, to have his voice as part of the package. I considered these both "palette cleansers" between other books--light and entertaining.

5. Love Walked In, by Marisa de los Santos. When Jen recommended Belong to Me earlier in the summer, I thought, wait, don't I already have that in my audible library? Apparently someone recommended them (see sister book below) to me last summer (can't remember who!) and there they sat, un-listened-to. Both books were good. Interesting story, characters, writing style; it all gelled.

6. Belong to Me, by Marisa de los Santos. The follow-up to Love Walked In, this story is more complicated in the character interactions and development, but she pulls it off quite well. I got attached enough to the characters that I was wishing for a third book by the end.

7. Digging to America, by Anne Tyler. I used to be quite an Anne Tyler fan. I've read most of her books over the years, and have generally found her stories to be engaging... It's been awhile since I've read her though, and it took a couple of starts to get this one going. Worth it in the end. It's a story of immigration and international adoption and love and family...

8. The First Man in My Life, various authors. I picked this book up in Canada over the July holiday weekend, and devoured it. The subtitle is "Daughters Write About Their Fathers" and it's essays of Canadian women writing about their dads, and it has a real "Canadian" feel. Which is hard to explain, I guess, but was very apparent to me. I loved it. Most of the women were probably in their 50s, I'd guess, by the tone of the writing and the passing of many of the fathers. I'd recommend this one, definitely, whether you have "daddy issues" or not.

9. Rude Awakenings of Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler. I've been on a bit of a Jane Austen kick again recently, in watching... mostly. I saw a great little flick (BBC miniseries, actually) called Lost in Austen early in the summer (Netflix) and when I saw this title it seemed along the same lines... yes and no. An apparent addiction seeps into a young woman's life and causes her to go all "olde English" on everyone and it's quite a hoot with the twists and turns.

10. Hope In a Jar, by Beth Harbison. This is definitely the fluffiest read of the summer. Like cotton candy, really. I was picking apricots at the time (I can tell you which yard project is associated with most of the "listened" books!), and it passed the time adequately. All about a 20-year high school reunion, old/lost friends and loves, and finding new paths to a new life...

11. Columbine, by Dave Cullen. This would be the heaviest read in a pretty light summer. Still in it, and really enjoying it, if you can say that about this topic. The research and revelations about the two killers and their victims is what's most interesting... I think, like the rest of the country, I tuned out about three weeks after the incident (in a kind of "enough already, media people!" way), and the impressions of those first few weeks just stayed with me. To learn how much of that initial reporting was wrong, how long it's taken for the survivors to move on, how big an impact it's had on so many people... Not surprising, but very real.

12. The Geography of Love, by Glenda Burgess. I needed a break from Columbine last weekend, so I dove into this book, thinking... love story, right? Hmmm, sort of. Love story interrupted by lung cancer. Some real memorable lines in this book, but overall I'm not entirely wild about the writing style. A little overdone some times, a bit of trying too hard; those are my general impressions though I'm definitely engaged and will finish it. Set in southeastern Washington--Spokane and environs--so it feels quite familiar to me in that sense.

13. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. Another case of "want to read that before I see the movie," I am about half-way through listening to this one. As yard work slows down here in the fall, I'll need to focus to get this finished while the movie's still in theaters... but I'm not sure I care about the big screen. What I like the most about the audio is that a male reads the guy perspective and a female reads the girl perspective. Cool.

The stacks by the side of the bed still exist... and I didn't finish Three Cups of Tea like I was supposed to or get more than one chapter in to Cloud Mountain for a Facebook book group I am in... naughty, naughty. But I will get there, eventually... There's always fall, right?

For more Thursday 13 participants, go HERE. Happy TT!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer photo shoot delights

Summer is the best time to take food photos. The ingredients... the ingredients... the ingredients! Produce abounds and it's so fresh from the farm!

I recently made four dishes that we shot for our editorial team at work to choose from. Since I can't really show you the pretty pictures... they belong to "work," and since I forgot (as ALWAYS) to take my camera with me to the shoot, my pictures are from home, and of only two of the recipes. But they are all worthy of a try. Check out the American Institute for Cancer Research and the Centers for Disease Control, where I found the recipes as well; both have many healthy options that are easy and delicious.

Other than the two recipes posted here, I made Savory Fresh Apricot Bites and Bruschetta with Plums and Fresh Basil--both lovely and summer-fresh beautiful.

Santa Fe Chilled Nectarine Soup
2 lbs (8 small) nectarines, sliced
1 cup apple juice
1 cup cranberry cocktail juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Combine nectarines with juices, salt, pepper flakes and vinegar in electric blender. Whirl until smooth and blended. Add cilantro leaves and whirl in a stop-and-go fashion a few seconds, just to chop. Serve chilled.

This soup was just a lovely and refreshing surprise. The fruit flavor came through loud and clear, with a bit of zip from the red pepper flakes, and a bit of zing from the balsamic. Definitely a make-again!

South of the Border Watermelon and Sweet Onion Salsa
2 cups chopped seedless watermelon
3/4 cup Walla Walla sweet onion
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped and seeded jalapeno chilies
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Pinch of salt

Stir together all ingredients in bowl. Refrigerate, covered at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Stir before serving.

A nice blend of flavors and textures. I would not normally think of putting black beans and watermelon together, and this was a bit of a "sell" for the husband, but it was good. If I were to make it again, I would absolutely add some lime juice to the mixture, for the zing.

Back-to-school memories

Dear friend Jen posted a few fun back-to-school memories for grade school, high school and college yesterday, and it got me thinking of a few of my own... (and also reminded me of the years that Jen and I started college together too... blasts from the past!).

Grade school can be summed up in two parts: home school or "The Talking Years." Home school was a mixed bag--the year my mom did it with my brother and I was a blast. The year a schoolteacher up the road taught us (along with her own children), not so much. I've mostly blocked that year out. When I then went to the local SDA church school for grades 4-10, my life was one whirlwind of social chit chat (and getting in trouble for it), interspersed with some petty battles between the boys and the girls, alternating with crushes; this is the time frame where I learned that if the boy smacks you in the arm, he likes you. At least, the boys where I went to school...

Actual back-to-school memories from this time involve shopping trips with my mom for cordoroys and fair isle sweaters, and arguing about how many days of the week I needed to wear a dress; grade 7 marked the start of that horror, and we arrived at ONE day per week. Worst day of the week. (Kinda funny, given that my preferred costume anymore is probably a skirt...)

Boarding school followed (grades 11 and 12), and with a bigger school, bigger nerves. Monster-size nerves that followed you to the cafeteria for breakfast, and up to the soccer field for evening boy-watching, and all the nerves associated with greater possibility--more friends, more boys, more everything. (Well, except for studying.) Luckily that didn't last too long... and I do still remember some fun back-to-school shopping treks with my mom.

And then college... it was many years before I didn't have funky butterflies in my stomach coming around that last corner into College Place, where the green sign announcing the college (now University) is displayed. Even though I generally enjoyed college, and a new slate of classes, and yes, more boys, there was just a general state of uneasiness until I got into the rhythm each fall (or whichever quarter I returned... I did return once in the winter and once in the spring, both times from Australia, poor me).

There was less "back-to-school shopping" in college... more dreaming about that math class I needed to take (bonehead math) and how I would miss a day and get so far behind I would need to drop it, but probably missed the drop deadline so it would be on my transcript AND I'd end up paying for it too... nightmare. That dream STILL haunts me, even though I learned in real life that the secret is to take math during the summer when ALL the losers take math, and then you don't feel quite as much like a do-do bird. It's all about comparing yourself to others, that's what I learned in college. Sad.

My favorite things about back-to-school, other than the clothes:
*Clean composition books. I even bought myself a couple last week while getting Seth's school supplies. I love new, empty books, ready to be filled up with thoughts, lists, etc.
*Getting to see everyone and catch up on what we all did over the summer. Since I lived out of town and we had quite the trek into town, we didn't see much of our school friends over the summer, so there was lots to catch up on. See, reasons to talk!

As for Seth, he was off and out the door this morning. His main complaint is that summer was too short, but by tonight he'll be back in the swing, reconnected with his posse and enjoying life. My wishes for him this year include challenging classes (especially math and science, since I know Explorers will take care of the rest), a rocking good time in jazz band, and a nice little circle of like-minded buddies to see him through those tumultous middle-school years. That should do it. I think he's off to a good start.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

I am somewhat chagrined to see that my last post was last Friday night... It has been a great week, with lots of good, fresh food and fun times, but I have posted nary a recipe. Sad but true. I need to work on that particular piece of discipline. I do. I will. Next week. Yes, that's the ticket. Next week.

But for this week, it's been a good one. Quick, but that goes without saying. The past couple of days husband and I have been in Seattle--work related for him, play related for me. And, as always, a week full of grateful moments.

*I'm grateful for one last shot at summer. I'm not going to complain about the heat (especially since we ran away to the other side of the mountains where it's 15 degrees cooler at least), since it's ALL going to be gone soon enough... The sunshine here in Seattle was just lovely; great weather for walking and talking!

*Grateful for a wonderful catch-up day with my sister-in-law yesterday... I think we solved almost ALL the problems of the world, don't you think, Kim? They just need to hand over health care and education to us, we'll find the best solutions, oh yes. We also had a wonderful lunch at Etta's, and pedicures at Julep. A fabulous day.

My fried chicken Thai salad, very yummy.

Kim and her burger. Doesn't she look impish? I love that smile!

*Grateful to be reminded of those wonderful days of wedding planning. I spent the evening with dear friend Kate, who is planning a wonderful Orcas Island affair for next summer, and I got to witness some beautiful dress trying-on, got a peek at the save-the-dates (and a wonderful paper store in Wallingford, Paper Delights), and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at an amazing restaurant, Tilth. (Whole other post coming about that meal. It was a most memorable experience filled with many Perfect Bites.) It is SO very good to see her in this happy planning bliss place--I am so glad she's found her "end of the aisle" guy!

*And last but not least catch-up from this trip was with my cousin Stephanie at the Seattle Gift Show just this morning. She is representing a NW card and gift company, and brought me a goodie bag of fun stuff, too. We've been facebook friends for quite awhile, but I haven't seen her since our grandma's funeral about 9 years ago, so this was a wonderful chance to catch up and see each other and plot family reunions! Watch out, relatives!

*Grateful for another wondeful sister-in-law who watches over our puppies and home while we're away. We're very blessed.

*Grateful for husband, and our great conversations on road trips. Always good to have some concentrated "us" time.

*I am also grateful that Seth comes home Monday and we get to start the school year off bright and early Tuesday morning.
*I'm grateful that we have had a wonderful summer, filled with a lot of great memories to look back on and appreciate.
*I'm grateful that following a fabulous summer, we have that wonderful season of Autumn-Turning-To-Holidays--fun, just so fun! Cooler days mean more indoor time, more creative time, more homemakey and crafty time. Yeah for that!
Here are a couple of wonderful musical discoveries from this week:
Ben Folds covering The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" with a bunch of guitar players and apparently some cell phones chiming in at the end. Again, late to the Ben Folds party but such a fan.

Who better to follow that up than our old friend Bobby McFerrin, demonstrating quite cleverly the universal understanding of the pentatonic scale. Pretty cool.

Happy weekend! Live it up.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

Ah, Friday night. Where the week unwinds and we with it...

My dagnabit arches are hurting because I wore the wrong shoes when Seth and I walked tonight (actually I was wearing them all day. Doh.), but yet, still, even, so much to be grateful for:

*Today marks 43 years that my parents have been married. I'm grateful to them for many things over the years, from their love of adventure to always presenting a united front when I was a kid. The united front drove me nuts as a kid, but I totally get it now. And their living example of steadfast love is one I cherish.

*See that picture of the firepit and my lovely men above? I am so happy with that space and our family time there. I am looking forward to to evolving the space each summer, with plants and pots and lights and water features...

*I am grateful we were offered some extra time with Seth this weekend, which we happily accepted.

*So thankful for these cooler temps. They initially left me a bit un-energized (like, all day Wednesday), but I shouldn't blame the weather. I think that was mostly a sleep issue... but the cooler temps really are nice for getting things done around the yard, and it's wonderful having windows open and cool breezes coming in the screen doors without that blast of summer heat.

*I love my little zinnia/calendula/snapdragon bed over by the shop. It was just a patch of dirt as long as we've lived here, but with my drip irrigation zeal this spring, I got some water to the patch, planted it (oh yes, there's a fig tree in there too!) and have happily watched it grow. It's just outside the fence (I really should take a picture so you can see it, but it's pitch dark right now...) so I haven't had to worry about the chew chew on the fig tree or the irrigation. (I lost two fig trees during Ruby's first winter with us. Sad.)

*BUT! RUBY. HASN'T. CHEWED. IRRIGATION. IN. WEEKS. Rock on, wild bad dog Ruby! The whole time we were at the coast, nothing. No nibbles, even. Granted, there are a couple of new craters in the lawn where she imagines gophers to be tunneling their way toward the house, but still, I'm tickled about the chewing. Can you tell?

*Ever so grateful for the bounty of produce that flows from the garden. Picked a pile on Monday, picked again today... the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash are everywhere! Tomatillos are ready to be picked, and eggplant coming along. I made apricot jam today (and I swore I wouldn't do that this year!) and a huge batch of fresh marinara sauce. Feeling a bit Martha Stewart-ish, but my saving grace is that I didn't take a break from my kitchen to quilt or sew or craft. Whew.

*Grateful for both sides of our extended family, and the support and love that we have all around. We are truly blessed.

*Grateful that husband was able to take vacation last week and we all got away for bit. It was a much needed break for him, and we were thrilled to get to see the ocean and enjoy some peaceful family time. Our little traditions bring all three of us great joy, and I know we'll look back on these times with great fondness.

*Seth and I have gone on some long walks this week, and I'm so grateful for his energy, conversation and thoughtfulness. I am lucky to be his mom.

All in all, a really good week. Some work (not as much as I should have... there are some weeds out there with my name on them!), some play, a little visiting, a bit of making new friends and reconnecting with dear old ones, and a lot of love, peace and joy. School starts in less that two weeks? Oh, that. Pish posh. We're in complete denial. (Ask our bedtimes. Some serious work to do there.)

Happy weekend, all. Please tell your loved ones they are loved, okay? Thanks.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday 13: Thirteen jams I found during the pantry reorg

This will seem almost ridiculous, but it's not. (You'll have to take my word for it.) As I was cleaning and reorganizing the pantry yesterday, I just happened to find 13 jams/jellies/preserves tucked into various nooks and crannies. Many have been gifts, or bought on a whim and tucked away "until we need it." Well, we're set for toast, for some time! Now they're all consolidated in one place, so no excuses for coming home from the store with random jam.

1. Strawberry-rhubarb jam--I think I bought this one for husband...
2. Saskatoon jam--Costco Canada size!
3. Blueberry jam--homemade!
4. Strawberry jam--homemade!
5. Spiced apple preserve--very chi-chi looking packaging... must have been a gift!
6. Pumpkin butter--a holiday gift.
7. Grape jelly--just regular Smuckers...
8. Huckleberry jam--more homemade!
9. Strawberry preserve--another high-end looking jar.
10. Old fashioned apple butter--looks like something we could have gotten at the fair, if only we went...
11. Honey
12. Nutella--no cupboard is complete without it!
13. Red raspberry preserves--another gigantic jar, must have gotten from Costco...

So for those who may wonder why I haven't made jam this year, I point to that shelf! I do notice, however, that apricot is missing... and I do still have some amazing ripe apricots...

Visit other Thursday 13 participants here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Home, sweet moth-filled home

Time away from the daily grind can be so rejuvenating. You're out of your routines, where the daily push and pull keeps you in ruts and grooves that seem virtually impossible to break out of. In returning back home from vacation, I used to have all kinds of expectations for my "normal" life--on top of some fabulous new exercise routine, there might be a nutritional push or some other list of "musts" to integrate into my life...

Ah, aging. With it comes some degree of lowered expectations, a grasp on reality that takes some wrinkles to understand.

So I'm coming home from vacation with only two things on my list of things to do:

1. Journaling. I've recently discovered a new blog, chookooloonks, and she posted an entry on journaling that really spoke to me. I'm going to give it a whirl, in the interest of writing daily, and see what comes from it. I've had all kinds of journals in the past, from prayer journals to "who do I have a crush on this week" journals (that was probably 1983 or so... thankfully), so this one will open up the windows and let all the ideas come in, from poetry and essay ideas, to to-do lists and goals, to conversations I've had with Seth, menu planning, blog writing... I'm eager to see where it goes.

2. Apple bread. Ha. You've seen the pictures. Now see the French toast. It's not often I get a bee in my bonnet like this one. And I really shouldn't--I can't imagine that it's really a necessary healthful addition to our diets. But. I. Can't. Help. It.

And yes, I still want and need to get back into my exercise rhythms, keep eating healthfully, get my good sleep, etc. All the stuff that makes up life on the farm, kinda laid back. (Ain't much an old country girl like me can't hack. Sorry. Couldn't help it. I love my old John Denver. Sniff.)

Caveat: Since first writing this in anticipation of being home, we are now home and have been welcomed back by many a moth. We seem to have been overrun by them, especially in the pantry, not sure how they got in (I'm not going to name names, but a couple of local grocery stores come to mind...), but from all the research I've done online, it seems the only sure way to be rid of them is to clear out all dry goods. Period. So my pantry is about to be bare. And apple bread will have to wait. I am looking forward to a better organized pantry--it's gotten a little wild and crazy in there lately. But I am not looking forward to throwing out every little pantry supply around; seems wasteful. But I'm not wild about eating moth larvae, so we do what we need to. Stay tuned.

Tuesday Table Topics #7: One fruit forever

Today's question: If you could only eat one fruit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This is a rather cruel question. Fruit ranks so high on my list of favorite things to eat, period. The thought that I would have to narrow it down is just plain sad. Horrifying. So we'll all just be happy that this is one dream I'll wake up from, and give the best answer I can in the meantime, which is: blueberries.

I know, this may be shocking to some of you. After all, I have done nothing but profess a great love for all things fig. And that love still exists. It is pure and passionate and I have four flats of figs in my fridge right now. Yes, right now! This very second. Can't you just feel the fig excitement?

However, (and can't you tell a great deal of thought has gone into this?) when thinking about the usefulness of the fig over time, I can't help but feel that it pales next to the blueberry. Blueberries are fabulous fresh, but they are also able to withstand baking and cooking in many forms. There would be blueberry cobbler, blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry buckle, blueberry jam and blueberries in salads and over cereal... the uses are really quite endless. And while all the same things I just rhapsodized re: blueberries could be said for raspberries as well, there is just somethin' somethin' about the blueberry that speaks to my little berry soul.

As luck would have it, the house is currently devoid of any blueberry happiness. We scarfed the last of a bunch after supper night before last, and I have yet to wend my way out to Klickers again. But it will happen very soon, as blueberry season is too short, and my love is way big.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

What a quick week, again. Being on vacation makes time really fly, don't you think? As opposed to the normal flying-by weeks...

The list is WAY long this week, but you'll indulge me, right? This week I'm thankful for:
*My men. To be on vacation with my two favorite guys is really lovely. I don't take that for granted at all.

*The ocean. (See picture above.)

*The sunshine. (See picture above.)

*The clouds. Even when it's gray and misty here, it's still wonderful.

*Apple cinnamon bread. And I'm not technically a bread girl. What up? The bread you see pictured above is from the Cannon Beach Bakery and it is a little slice of heaven. Or a big slice, if you could see how I've been cutting it. I picked up a loaf while I was in town one morning, thinking it looked a little like an apple fritter, but not fried... and I was spot on. A few loaves later (kid you not), we got one final loaf for breakfast tomorrow and then we'll cut ourselves off cold... I am bound and determined to figure out how to make this myself, though the very helpful girl at the bakery today offered to ship it to me. How helpful. Bad girl. Isn't shipping crack illegal?
*Sleep. Specifically, sleeping in. It gets later and later every morning... next week is going to be quite the jolt, to say the least. Not to mention the jolt of Aug. 25 for one young man...
*The next season of SYTYCD starts on Sept. 9. We made it through this season just splendidly, and while our favorites didn't win (that's nothing new), we were happy enough with the outcome, and will set the dvr for the start of season 6.5!
*Crocheting. So relaxing.
*Mani-pedis. Home-done, but effective.
*Massage. Not home-done, but again, effective. It was one of those sublime experiences where other than the words "hello," "goodbye," and "thank you, that was lovely," I was without words and completely content. How very unusual for me!
*Walking barefoot in the sand. Call me Zola Budd.
*Music. Seth found a new artist this week that we're enjoying, Owl City. I wish I could post the video to Fireflies, but apparently the embedding has been disabled... so check it out here.
*Blog surfing. Nothing like a little spare time to get caught up on all my favorites. Must recommend Oh Joy! Her website shows all kinds of beautiful things, and her blog will point you towards many an amazing online product. I was bookmarking all over the place!
*Reading. I wish I could say I made more progress with my reading list, but between Wii Sports Resort (I'm a rock star wakeboarder!) and my computer and getting caught up in things like James Bond marathons...
*Swimming. Good times dunking the young man.
*Tennis. Good times batting it around with all my men, Dad included!
*Cooler temps. I have loved the warmth of home, but this cooler weather is lovely too... husband laughed at me turning on the fireplace this week, but I was cozy and loving it!
*Looking forward to a couple of movies: Julie and Julia and (500) Days of Summer. I have been reading about both as they've approached their opening day (today for both!), and I'm eager as can be. Can't decide which one to see first. While Dad was out getting his first hole-in-one today at the Seaside Golf Course, the rest of us went to G-Force, which was cute and family-ish, with a number of laugh-out-loud lines. But next week I'm all about the girly movies... bring it on! Movies like this remind me that it IS still summer... for a few more minutes.

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt made a music video to go with the movie, featuring a song, "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" from She & Him's album, Volume One. They have talked a lot during the press for this movie about how nice it is to work with a friend, especially when filming a love story, and I think in this video you can see how much they enjoy working together and how comfortable they are with each other.

Happy weekend! May you find blessings around every turn in this coming week.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thursday 13: 13 favorite ipod apps

It's been a couple of months since my iphone and I were so thoughtfully brought together by my brother and his lack of love for the little appliance. (Thank you, Shelby!) I have had a few moments of frustration (the small dead zone in my kitchen, of all places), but by and large my love for the little gem has grown steadily.

Apps are a big part of the love, so I thought I'd share my 13 favorites. This is a pretty fluid groove, so what's favorite this week could get bumped down next week (a la the NYT bestseller list).

1. Lose it. I had this baby on my itouch prior to the iphone, and it helped me lose 10 pounds this spring. Really. It wasn't me, it was the app. I haven't really used this app on my iphone much, since all the good info is on what is now Seth's itouch, but I still stand by the app and what it can do, and after this week of vacation, I might just need to haul it out again!

2. Pandora. Almost negates the need for itunes. Almost.

3. Facebook. Not the same as the real deal, but if you're away from the laptop it will do in a pinch.
4. Faceoff. If you're shallow like me (and you know you are), this is one hoot of a time-killer. Celebrity faces come up in duos, you pick who's most famous. Keeps you coming back, over and over... even if you don't know who some of the people are!
5. Offender Locator. OK, the opposite of shallow--this one connects with local law enforcement and tells you where the nearest registered sex offendors live (you put in your zip code). A good thing to know, even though you don't want to know...

6. Fandango. Handy to know what movies are playing where and when.

7. To Do. A great little list maker.

8. Eight Glasses a Day. A great reminder to get those fluids imbibed... now ask me how well I've done with that one?! But just having it on my iphone is a great reminder.

9. Gratitude. A fun daily journal for recording grateful moments. Right up my alley.
10. Kindle. Oh yes, everything that's on my Kindle is now on my iphone. No excuse for ever NOT reading! I have the Amazon app too... but that's just another way to shop... not that there's anything wrong with that!
11. Eating Well. Recipes, lists, menu ideas... and great food photography. Ah. Makes me hungry to browse, but at least this site is healthy. I also have Epicurious and Allrecipes, but Eating Well is my fave.

12. Camera Zoom. The camera on the iphone doesn't have the ability to zoom... until now. I just downloaded this one, and it looks like it will be a happy addition. See my examples below.

13. ABCnews. I also get the headlines from the NYTimes and USAToday, but I go to ABC first.

I have a feeling I've just scratched the surface of apps so far, and this is a wee sampling of what I have found and downloaded... but for now, these ones rule. I would love to know if you love some I haven't yet discovered!

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Wordless Wednesday #10: My two favorite men on my favorite beach

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday Table Topic #6: Cook for me

This week's topic: What famous chef would you like to have cook a meal for you?

I have thought about this question all day. I know, I'm on vacation. What else do I have to think about? Really. Between the massage, the Wii Sports Resort waveboarding, walking around town, web surfing and eating too much, what else do I have to do?!

First it was Eric Ripert and all the loveliness that is him, and Le Bernardin. Then, I got real. I'm not so seafoody, and his art would be wasted on me.

Of course Tom Colicchio came quickly to mind. He's a god in many godly steak-ish ways, and is there a quicker way to my heart? Probably not. But somewhere mid-afternoon that idea faded... maybe I've had too many great steak dinners in my life (I refer to those as true "happy meals")... or maybe he just seems too accessible, since I have eaten at 'wichcraft a couple of times and stood face-to-glass at Craft in NYC... I think I was on food overload by that point (having just eaten at Union Square Cafe) and vowed we'd make it there "next time"... Regardless of why, today I moved on.

I then pondered an old favorite of mine: Suzanne Goin. I first saw her as a Food & Wine up-and-comer in 1999 (10 years ago!); I was impressed with her approach to food then, and have always followed her through pubs and online. When I spot her food, it consistently looks like something I would like to eat! She is a fresh West Coast chef and her menus at Lucques look amazing.

But at the end of the day--where we're at now!--I just had to go with Alice Waters. I walked by Chez Panisse (completely by accident) a few years ago when I was in Berkeley but didn't get a chance to eat there and I regret it--she is largely considered a pioneer and icon for the slow-local movement, and it would simply be an honor to eat anything she cooks.

In looking over her menus for this week at the restaurant, I took the liberty of creating my own, pulling a dish from Monday, one from Tuesday, and so on--whatever appealed to me; and most of it did! At Chez Panisse, each night there is only one full menu served, so you'd better be on board for the full ride.

Here's what Alice would make me:
*Heirloom tomato carpaccio with cucumber relish
*Chino Ranch corn and squash blossom soup
*Pan-seared Alaskan salmon with Indian spices
*Grilled rack, loin, and leg of Elliott Ranch lamb with fresh flageolet beans andeggplant à l’orientale
*Plum crostata with cardamom ice cream

I know, I essentially picked two main courses, with the salmon and the lamb. Cut me some slack--think of it as a fish course and a meat course! How many times in my life is Alice Waters going to be cooking for me?

With all that daydreaming, now I'm hungry. And no Alice in sight. Sigh.
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