Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

So this is my 52nd Friday night grateful moment. I am amazed at how fast this past year has flown by. It has been a good year in many ways, an interesting year from a national and global perspective, of course, but mostly, it's truly been a blessed year, my 40th. Family and friends mostly well, mostly content, mostly employed, mostly happy... Mostly. A good word that covers a multitude of moods.

As you all know, since you're living life on this crazy planet too, some weeks the list can practically write itself. Some weeks I struggle for the right words to convey that between the lines of "sunshine," there can be a few gray clouds. But the practice of gratitude has been transformative for me this past decade or so, and come blue skies or not, I do plan to continue it. The blog may morph and evolve over the coming months, if the number of books I got on quilting and crafting have anything to do with it; and of course there's always my renewed (weekly!) dedication to actually getting my recipes down on "paper." I think I can. I think I can. Or as dear Yoda would say, "Do or do not. There is no try." I've always liked that one...

But this week, the list could write itself:

Who is that boy with his hand on the cream puff pile? This week I'm grateful for Seth and his kind heart and thoughtfulness. He's in the grip of middle school with all its pressures and frustrations, but most days his resilience and courage are right there with him. (That sentence sounds like it's from a Lifetime movie of the week, don't you think? Drama! But that's 7th grade for you.)

I'm grateful to have the time and space in my life to go on field trips
. I always am SO eager to sign up, then there's that middle ground of, "Uh oh, what did I sign up for? HOW many middle schoolers? On WHAT bus? Wah." And then it's all fine and I have flashbacks to my own middle school experience, and thoroughly enjoy talking with his teachers and intereacting with the kids (trying my best not to be THAT mother who embarrasses my child!) and before you know it we're home and it's over. Sigh.
I'm grateful to have a thoughtful husband who makes every day feel like my birthday, really. So when my birthday rolls around? It feels like Christmas.
And apples don't fall far from trees, do they? With husband comes lovely in-laws of the sister and mother type, for whom I am most grateful. All year, not just on birthdays! I am sad that my parents weren't able to come down to surprise me for my birthday as was the plan (was that Plan B or Plan C, Dad?), but I'm grateful they are both well and Mom's flu was a short one. And my lovely birthday song on the answering machine from the Goerlitz Jr.s? Priceless. And all the good wishes from near and far... very thoughtful and appreciated.
Grateful that the fall continues, and winter is at bay (however temporarily). Remember the picture of the red tree I posted last weekend? Tonight the sunset made it look like it was on FIRE. So cool. Of course, I missed getting a snap of it with my camera...
Grateful for good friends, good conversation. I feel entirely blessed to have friends I connect with, to discuss both the important and the mundane with. Afterlife? Check. The Four Agreements? Check. Our aging parents? Check. (No, not you, Mom and Dad. Other parents.) Our growing children? Check. Forgiveness? Check. Great new shoes? Check. Should I get more layers cut into my hair? Check. What are the relative nutritional virtues of sprouts? Check. Should I stop using shampoo with sulfites? Check. I could go on... Whether it's on the phone, skype, facebook or in person, I am lucky to have such friends. Check!
I am grateful, so much, for creativity in all areas of life, from music to written word, from art in all forms to the creativity of problem solving. I love that creativity has no limits except the parameters we put on it, so it's only our pea brains that hold us back. Two new forms of creativity I found this week:
Web site: Let them sing it for you
Magazine: Poetry of food magazine

Here are a couple of guitar geniuses I saw posted on Facebook just this morning: Rodrigo y Gabriela on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Threw the Craig in there just for you, Shelby! They are simply amazing. Had to share.

A blessed weekend to everyone! Wherever it takes you, I hope it is to a place of peace.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday 13: 13 Things I enjoy about getting older

Today is my birthday and even though it's not one of those "0" ones, it's still another number in the upward direction... As I was standing there having my mammogram this week (which I call my "Happy Birthday to ME moment") it occured to me that there are some really great things about getting older, mixed in with all the not-so-great things. And you know me, I'd rather think about the good stuff.

In no particular order, things I enjoy about getting older:
1. Empathy. That whole "walk a mile" thing? I think it gets better with age.

2. Don't care as much what other people think. Most days. Oh you don't agree. Well, I can live with that.

3. Know more what I think/believe. Of course, maybe my midlife crisis is still waiting to happen (but I think I've had enough blowback from others', thank you very much), but between now and then, it does feel good to have lived enough, made enough mistakes, had enough successes, forgiven and been forgiven... all those things that have helped refine me. It's ongoing, of course, so no one's "arrived" anywhere; just happy in the "journey."

4. Peaking for some of us happens later. I'm convinced I'm better looking than I was in my 20s. (Please don't tell me differently!) Granted, there are more wrinkles and such, but on balance, I'm much happier looking in the mirror post-35. Go figure. Attitude baby, it's all attitude.

5. Appreciate family more. In my younger growing up years, it was so important to differentiate myself from the crowd and be "my own person." As I've gotten older, where I came from and the people who helped me become that "own person" have come to hold a great deal of significance.

6. More interested in my place in the world, history, universe, etc. This relates to the family love, but is a bit bigger in scope.

7. Okay with one more cream puff. Does that need any more explanation? I think not.

8. Actually appreciate health care screenings. I'm the kind of person who likes to know what's what, if at all possible, so things like mammograms and colonoscopies (no, it's not quite time for that yet, but believe me, I'll be signed up when that date rolls around) are right up my alley, so to speak. So glad they exist!

9. "It" really does seem to get better. I know this concept has a cap on it and at some point that won't be true, but I am not in the slightest interested in going backward in time... no revisiting high school or college dreams for me, no way. More like nightmares!

10. Little things mean more. I feel like my ability to slow down has increased over the years, just to stop and smell the flowers, as it were. And I still don't do as much of it as I should...

11. More relaxed. Mostly. I still get cranked about things on occasion, but in general I feel more able to take things one day at a time, hand things over to the universe for safekeeping, trust in God more. All that.

12. Reminiscing. You can't do that when you're young, can you? Every generation has their things to look back on and remember, fondly or not. But it's something that kind of creeps up on you and then once you've sat around after dinner swapping stories, you realize that you're there, you're... old!

13. I ran out. I could only think of 12. If you have something you appreciate about getting older, let me know in the comments!

Meanwhile, I'm off to make those cream puffs! And I'll be fine with more than just another one, or two or three...

Happy Thursday 13! To find more TTs, go here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy birthday to my mom!

Today is my mother's birthday. There were brief and spontaneous thoughts earlier in the week that we might all spend it together, but alas, it was not to be. She is on her island (Mayne) and our family is headed for a day trip to Joseph. But, as ever, she is in our hearts and we wish her a wonderful birthday, knowing she is loved by many.

My mom is the wonderful combination of teacher, supporter, cheerleader and friend. I have learned so very much from her in my life, I have been loved like crazy and encouraged to circle the moon, and supported through good times and not so good times. Lucky lucky me.

One thing I remember learning from her very early on is that moms always take the ugliest piece of pie, or the piece of cake that has fallen over, or, worse case scenario, does without if we run out of cake or pie. It baffled me as a child, but I totally get it now. My mom was and is a wonderful hostess, making people feel comfortable in her home and caring for them. From her I got my love of nesting and homemaking, my love of cooking, my love of fabric and color and crafting, my love of reading and words, and my love of... life.

Happy birthday, Mama. Since you're a quote gal too, here are few about mothers that I especially enjoy:

I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.
- Abraham Lincoln

My mother is a poem
I'll never be able to write,
though everything I write
is a poem to my mother.
-Sharon Doubiago

My mother is my root, my foundation. She planted the seed that I base my life on, and that is the belief that the ability to achieve starts in your mind.
-Michael Jordan

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

So I put a plea out on Facebook this week to anyone with the ability to work on the concept of slowing down time... all I got back were people in the same boat, wanting more time too... so at least I know I'm not alone. Where does time go? And does it (time) feel as rushed as I do? Time as it's own entity. Feeling pulled in many directions... Ponder.

The house is quiet, my heart is full. The men are here, both of them, and that is very very good.

This week I'm grateful for:
*Fall. Rain! Inside days. Mmmm. Won't be missing the yard work for a few months, I can tell you that!!

*Friends. Coffee. Lunches. Chatting while cheering the kids at xcountry. Great conversation! Even heard a good business idea this week. I hope that one takes off!!

*Color. See the tree? We love that tree. That's my view as I write. Lovely.

*Butternut squash. I feel virtuous just eating it. And happy. Just need it roasted with olive oil, a little salt, a little pepper and we're all good. Thinking of making a butternut squash lasagna with bechemel... that should take care of any virtuous feelings, don't you think?!

*Apples. I'll be singing the praises of this current crop for some time. Hallelujah for the crisp bite! With popcorn, if possible.

*Family. My sister-in-law and the coffees she makes me (note the plural... some mornings are like that). I so appreciate you, Kim. My brother and his wonderful fathering of my sweet neices (his movie reviews aren't bad, either). And the great great hugs from the neices too... Thanks for a wonderful visit last weekend.

*Husband and all he takes on for our family. Someone told me this week that my husband needed to "lighten up, man. Don't be so serious." Hmmm. Wonder how I responded to that? There's a head rolling down Main Street, Walla Walla. Well, not quite. Almost. I am very protective, doh. Walk a mile, dude. Walk a mile.

*Son. Don't the words "Love you more" just make your heart melt? Yup. Me too.

*Hot tub. This is the perfect weather for getting in and getting out. Later in the season I'll just be begging to have the lid put down over me and I'll stay in the tub for the night... but right now, ah, bliss.

*The fireplace. A great little gathering spot for our family worships and family chats, and family singing (you really DON'T want to hear that!). Cozy. I'm already looking forward to the tree being up and lit and relaxing by the fire and the tree... see, I'm rushing time. It's only October... but blink and November will be gone.

*Nuts. Sometimes I forget about nuts. But then I eat some and remember how very much I like them! And then I eat more. And more. And then they're all gone. Yes, moderation is hard with nuts...

*Sweaters! Jeans! Boots! All the good costumes of fall. Love it.
A friend sent me this in an email this week:

I'm not admitting anything, just saying it made me smile.
Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Joys of autumn: Apple cake!

I have been wanting a very apple-y cake for some time now--something with more fruit than cake. I've been on this fruity kick through the summer, and experimented with plums that way too... (one of those unposted recipes I tease with every once in awhile...)

As we were headed over to Seattle last weekend, I wanted to contribute something to a lunch that my brother and sister-in-law had invited some friends over for, and so offered to bring along an apple cake. Now, I had to get it together!

I have an old apple cake standby recipe in the legendary (in my childhood, anyway) Apple A Day cookbook, but it's more of a breakfast cake than a dessert proper. Since I wanted the fruit to be plentiful throughout the cake, I thought getting a visual on the recipe would be essential, so I went rummaging through, which I haven't done in a while, and was able to quickly come up with a lovely looking option from a food blog, Kosher Cambembert.

I neglected to take a picture of it once it had been baked, so head on over to see how Kosher's turned out. Mine was a little "earthier" looking, as I used whole wheat flour, but you'll get the general idea. And it was yummy!

Apple Cake
For apples:
4 apples – I used a variety (1 each of Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith and Honeycrisp)
Lemon juice to prevent apples from browning as you cut
2 Tbsp butter
1-2 Tbsp sugar (or to taste)

For cake batter:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp demerara sugar (optional--I didn't use...)

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Grease and flour a 9-inch cake pan, springform or square pan. (If you want to plate this, use a springform; otherwise, just serve it out of the pan.)

Peel and core the apples, then cut into about 12 slices. Sprinkle with lemon juice (you don’t need much, maybe a tablespoon or so for 4 apples) while the others are being sliced to prevent browning. You can see my nifty method below. I don't get to use that handy dandy corer-peeler nearly enough during apple season, so I hauled it out!

Heat butter in pan over low heat and add apples and 1-2 T white sugar. Stir for about 10-15 minutes until apples soften. Some of the liquid will soak into the apples, but if too much of it starts to evaporate, then turn the heat down.

While the apples are on the stove top, mix together the remaining ingredients (except for the demerara sugar)—flour, sugar (the 3/4 cup), eggs, oil, baking powder and vanilla. No mixer is required; you can just mix everything by hand even though the batter is quite thick.

Add half the warm apples (juices and all) to the batter and mix. Then pour into the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly with a spatula. Arrange the remaining apple slices on the top of the batter as decoratively as possible (though even a mishmash will look nice... which I did!).

Sprinkle the cake with demerara sugar if you’d like and bake for 1 hour.
This one is definitely a make-again. It was just the right amount of fruit, and not too sweet (though the ice cream was lovely alongside!). We had a wonderful risotto lunch with an autumn salad, topped off by cake! And made some new friends in the process... what could be better? I can't think of anything!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday random meme

Playing along with Jen's meme... I always do what I'm told!

Is there anybody you just wish would fall off the planet?
In my petty, dark moments, sure. But then I remember that everybody has someone who cares about them (well, most everyone...) and would feel pain at the loss, so I magnanimously allow those individuals to NOT fall off the planet. I know, how big of me.

How do you flush the toilet in public?
With my foot, if at all possible. So let that be a lesson to all of you still using your hands. My FOOT has just flushed the toilet...

Name one thing you worry about running out of.
Sense of humor. Can you imagine? How horrible.

What are your super powers?
Knowing when Seth hasn't done what I've asked of him, yet. Divine power, really.

Where are your car keys?
Try not to be too horrified: in the car itself (which is in the garage). I like to know where they are when I'll need them next.

Last song you listened to?
Currently listening to God Help the Girl's album that I ripped from Shelby and Kim yesterday (thanks!). Trying to decide if it's enough different from Belle and Sebastian... I think enough so...

What’s your most annoying habit?
Making up my mind quickly and not looking back. I believe it's called a short backhand. It doesn't annoy me, natch...

Where did you last go on vacation?
This last weekend we were in Seattle with family, does that count? If we're looking for actual away time, I think it would be our week in August at the Oregon coast...

What is your best physical feature?
Not an area I dwell on much... more comfortable in the "least" categorizing! But I have been complimented on my eyes a lot in my life... so we'll go for that.

What CD is closest to you right now?
No CD within 25 feet or so--my office, I'm in our bedroom--so let's just say all gobzillion of my songs on iTunes...

What three things can always be found in your refrigerator?
Apples, orange juice, cheese

What superstition do you believe/practice?
None come to mind.

What color are your bed sheets?
Dusky gray blue flannel. Cozy.

Would you rather be a fish or a bird?
A bird, so I could fly fly fly.

Last thing you broke?
This is SO my area, but nothing is coming immediately to mind. That scares me, cuz it means I'm due any moment... yikes.

Do security cameras make you nervous?
No, but they do make me want to either dance or pick my nose. Either. Or.

If you wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
"She Does Like to Look on the Bright Side, Doesn't She?"

Last time you went to a cemetery?
Two summers ago, when we held a memorial for a great-aunt and great-uncle in Kelowna, B.C.

Last concert you went to?
Painful to remember we were SUPPOSED to be at the Owl City concert last Tuesday... before that it was SYTYCD '08 in Tacoma last September.

Favorite musician(s)/bands you’ve seen in concert?
Probably Norah Jones, even though it was in the rain. James Taylor on July 4 at the Gorge was pretty fun. Sting on the last night of his world tour in Sydney was also rather fun (it was my very first concert too).

Next concert you’re planning to attend?
Nov. 20 in Everett: SYTYCD '09. Will NOT miss.

Do you talk to yourself?
All the time. Some of my best conversations.

Have you ever adopted or purchased a pet?
Yes, both.

Have you ever been present when an animal is being born?
Oh yes. Cats, many times. Calves, a few times. A horse, once.

OK, I feel like I've done my duty for the day. Off to get a few things accomplished, and talk to myself while I'm doing them! Happy Monday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

Hard to believe it's already the weekend... Even weeks filled with The Flu go by quickly, apparently.

Grateful tonight for:
*Family health. Glad that husband's fever was a quick one, and Seth's too, comparatively. It was so nice to hear Seth singing this morning, reciting old Steve Martin monologues, reminding me of Monty Python lines (I let him watch "And Now for Something Completely Different" while he was sick... I figured most of it wouldn't sink in to his fevered brain... I may have been wrong). Just so glad he's back to his cheerful self.

*That fall is back, at least for a minute or two. (As opposed to WINTER, which we felt the chill of last weekend.) This sunshine is so appreciated. Does wonders for the energy and spirit.

*The prospect of some road time with the husband this weekend. We're headed over to visit my brother and family in Seattle for a couple of days. Ah, for the road.

*Apples. Tis the season! Apple cakes are in the oven and I'm ready!
*Tomatoes. I took down the last of the bushes today, with mushy (from the freezes last weekend) unripe tomatoes still attached... and was grateful for the many wonderful tomatoes I've been able to eat this summer. I have just about polished off the last of my final picking, and with each bite I savor the flavor, knowing that store-bought will not even come close in the intervening months until the garden of 2010.

*Laughter. Husband is chatting to me while I type... he's as happy for the weekend as I am and giving me quite a few chuckles.

*The changing colors. It's taken a bit for the trees to start turning, but this morning I really noticed the reds and oranges peeking out from a number of trees along our route to school. So beautiful. I should have taken some pictures, but I read a news story this week about distracted driving, so I'm trying to keep my hands at 10 and 2. I swear.

*That the box elder season is short. If they attacked our house year round with the energy they've had this week I think I'd truly lose my mind. See, there is a reason to wish for the deep freeze to return, I suppose...

*A little extra time on my hands (hanging out with the sick Seth) to fiddle around with my arts and crafts... it's a bit of a mess downstairs, but I'm in heaven. Crazy with color and texture, yarn and text treatments... Oh joy. Soon, very soon, I'll have something to post, really. I know, you're waiting with bated breath.

*The return of energy. Boy, did Seth's flu wipe me out! Ha. I was actually amazed at how low-energy I felt... can we call it "sympathy flu?" We lazed around like a couple of sloths, seriously. We got caught up on our SYTYCD audition shows, kind of got into that new show "Flashforward," and yes, as I mentioned, I let him watch Monty Python... what can I say, we mellowed. By day three I was ready to return to the land of the living and even got myself dressed to drive into school and pick up a book from one of his teachers... and then today I had even more energy! Cleaned the house, got all my canning supplies put away, took down the garden completely and even went for a walk with a girlfriend in the afternoon fall sunshine! A lovely day.
*Seth's teachers. He has a great group of people who care about him and his learning. I'm happy for him, and me too. I get to go on a field trip in a couple of weeks (I know, "get to." Ha. Obviously it's been awhile since I've been on a field trip... what was I thinking?!) with his Explorer language arts group to see some plays... I need to work on my stamina for inane conversation by adolescents. Wish me luck!

*For good memories of a friend from many years ago. Tomorrow marks the passing of a dear childhood friend when I was just about 12 and she was almost 15. My memories of our time as friends are quite precious.

*For music music music. Found some new artists while exploring around this week... I need to do some more investigation before I share. And, too, there was sadness from missing the Owl City concert in Spokane on Tuesday night (I think I had more of an issue than Seth, but... I got over it. Sort of. Sigh.) But I wanted to share a happy song tonight and I love love this song by Jason Mraz. I looked high and low for a video to share, and found mostly "embedding disabled" versions and wild handheld live versions... I settled on this live version from a small show in Paris where he asked "Who wants to sing with me?" and a brave girl named Clara said, "Me!" She does a lovely job.

Happy weekend to all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday 13: 13 random items of inspiration

The flu found our humble home this week. Seth has been down for the count since Monday night. Tuesday was the long day of fever and chills, and Wednesday was improved to a point... Finally, this morning, the fever was GONE. So we're back on track toward wellness, and the homwork binder has come out. Nothing makes you (well, him, but I have to supervise...) regret illness more than the work to get caught back up again. Ugh. But! Wellness! A good thing!

A friend forwarded this photo to me this week. I couldn't resist posting it, even though we don't have any reason to think WE have had H1N1 in THIS house! It's titled something like "Swine flu paranoia getting out of hand." Ha ha. Poor Piglet.

For some reason, Seth's illness has had me all funky-like and unmotivated to do anything. Anything. Like shower. Or dress. It's pretty pathetic, but let's just say George Castanza and his "I've given up" sweats come to mind.

Of course, the weather hasn't helped. Cold, followed by rain, capped off with our first fog of the season on Wednesday morning. Cruel, cruel fall, teasing us with sunshine and crisp weather for all of a week...

All this whining does have a point, leading to my Thursday 13. I have been in need of serious inspiration this week. And so I have gathered together thirteen of my favorite images, things, ideas, colors and concepts that bring me a wee bit 'o joy during this cloud of germiness... I hope you see a couple that inspire you as well.

Credit is given when I can remember from whence they came. My "inspire" folder has been growing for some time...

1. Big fat pom poms. Yummy pillow. An Australian interior decorator with a shop and a blog: Absolutely Beautiful Things. She posts very beautiful things quite often.

Here's a tip for all you northern hemisphere types (and I admit I'm a little slow to have realized this, given my Australian "heritage," ha ha)--while we slide into winter, that other (Down Under) hemisphere is heading into summer. If you need to see images of sunshine, springtime, baby animals, whatever floats your need-for-summer boat, head down south and check out the Aussie blogs. From food to interior decor to gardening, they have it going on!

2. Alabama Chanin is a style of sewing/fabric treatment that I found recently through a Facebook friend, and have totally fallen for. An art form that seems to represent a whole lifestyle...

3. I love this idea for name place holders on the dinner table!

4. This from the girl who had to be negotiated with to wear a dress in the seventh grade: I love this dress! Or, what this dress might look like if the model stood up straight! I love the idea, anyway. Wait, is it even a dress? Who can say. Great picture. How about that?

5. This party would make me very happy! That's a real shock, I know!

6. I have never thought of myself as even remotely like Marilyn Monroe, but then I read this quote and thought, hmmmm... perhaps?

7. Could I have a room that looks like this? I would enjoy that. I wouldn't move around very much in this room. Just a sitting room... a sitting-and-looking-at-hanging-glass-spheres room. On my tufted orange leather seat.

8. And these stairs? Wow.

9. I love this text treatment. The song (yes, Sweet Darlin') it comes from is by Zooey Deschannel, on the album She&Him. I adore Zooey. In some alternate universe we are friends and she gives me style tips.

10. Love this little ditty. I may not agree 100% (I don't actually think happiness is the KEY to life, I think it's a byproduct of living a meaningful life, but that's a whole other post), it's a great turnabout. Who would think of saying "happy" in response to that question? A saucy girl, that's who.

11. This one too. Though, frankly, I never have arrived at this place with my piano playing... I'd like to think I've gotten there with my lovin'...

12. I like this floral arrangement, but mostly I love those green leaves. What are those? Anyone? Do tell! Must find and plant next spring... don't tell me, they don't grow in my zone? Figures.

13. Speaking of flowers that don't grow in my zone... if I EVER need a pick-me-up, this flower does the trick, in spades. I have a picture very similar to this in my office and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

I hope you have enjoyed my 13 images. Just pulling them together has a cumulative cheer effect that helps me forget that winter is very quickly on its way.

For more Thursday 13s, go here. Happy TT!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

Updated Saturday, 7:55 a.m.: See the "grateful for humor bullet below." I gave up on the itunes m4p idea (no comments from the peanut gallery, Shelby) and got an mp3 from amazon. Much better. NOW the weekend can carry on.

I swear I haven't been as happy for a Friday night since... last Friday night. It is wonderful to be here, at this place again, counting my blessings.

Where last week felt draggy and long, this week zipped by. Every day felt short of time to get things done, and more things on the to-do list than minutes to accomplish them in. Ah well. That's the way it goes. If it's not one thing, it's another, no?!

So this week the list is what it is:

*Grateful for Seth as always. He's home to yet another birthday celebration (this time husband is here too). The festivities began about five minutes after Seth walked in the door from school and will continue through the weekend.

I began preparing earlier in the day. I have been wanting to make this cake for some time, and Seth said Yes Please when I asked if he'd like it for his birthday lunch with family tomorrow.

Batter in pans heading in to the oven.

Ready to be frosted.
This cake is high! And yummy (we know cuz of the scraps!).

Seth enjoying his birthday present from Grandma and Grandpa Goerlitz.
* Grateful for husband and his caring and thoughtful ways. It's wonderful to watch him care for others, too. He's a natural.
*Grateful for all our wonderful sunshine. Other than today, which was gray and cool, it's been a wonderfully sunny week, full of crisp mornings, rosy sunsets (great moonrises too) and leaves turning color...
*Grateful for all my butternuts and the curried soup I made today. I am in the mood for soups!
*Grateful for my coffee on these dark mornings. Seriously.
*Grateful for getting into autumn rhythms. Seems like it's taken me longer this year--there have been moments when I've thought, "Fall is my favorite season? Really? This doesn't feel like a favorite anything." Too true. But now that I've truly transitioned, I remember why this really is my favorite time of year.
*Grateful for our hot tub. Too true. The weather has been perfect for an evening soak, watching that great moon. Tonight, even after a gray day, the stars were all sparkly and lovely. Made me think of Contact, which Seth and I watched the night before his birthday... I love that movie.
*Grateful for humor. I was listening to all kinds of stand-up that I have on my ipod this week while I was cleaning out the garden, and my favorite of all right now is Ray Romano. Go figure. But his little commentary on king-size beds rather than queen-size beds? He nails it.
(I spent far too long tonight trying to figure out how to get an itunes m4p file to embed here, and came up lacking. I will keep at it when my brain is caffeinated tomorrow... I have spent entirely too much time on this one little bullet point tonight. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere, or something to be grateful for, but right now--10:24 p.m.!--I can't think of it...)
Finally, here it is. I hope my effort is going to sufficiently guilt you into listening, though I'm not sure the effort is equal to actual hilarity... the bed part starts around 2:15...

*Grateful for my parents, and their phone calls. I love their stories and antics. Never a dull moment with those two. Next time you see them, ask about their exploding cans of mock duck. It's classic.
*Grateful I got a reprieve on the tooth-pulling this week... though it gives me something to look forward to in 2010... not so much. But grateful at least that I checked my insurance limits and didn't even up having to sell Seth to pay for the experience!
*Grateful for next week, with an Owl City concert on tap, along with a little road trip with similarly music-minded pals (oh yeah, Mom's more excited than the kid, I think). Grateful too that the tickets for the concert actually came through... long story with third-party vendor, too expensive tickets and a Fed-Ex package needing a signature. They are here, in hand. Whew.
Happy weekend. Must away to slumber!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Let's talk about me for a minute

In the circular fashion that is blogging, I got a poke from Jen to participate in a "bloggers talking about blogging" meme from a blog she reads regularly, mommablogsalot. And of course, mommablogsalot got it from another blogger, and so on, and so on... but it's fun so naturally I must play along.

Where are you blogging right now?
In the basement, watching Top Chef. I can barely remember to watch these days, much less blog about it. But Padma's funky green strapless romper jumpsuit tonight is compelling me to at least blog about HER, for crying out loud. And soon, she'll probably start showing that baby bump...

How many unpublished posts do you have in your ‘draft’ box?
A shocking number. 92. Really. That's pretty bad. A couple of months ago on the phone, I told Jen that I was behind in posting and I could hear the horror in her voice! Alas, 'tis true. They aren't all recipes, but probably most of them are... As I've confessed, it's best if I post quickly after cooking, but sometimes life just gets in the way... at least 92 times in the past year, it seems.

Whose blog inspired you to start your own?
I thought about starting one a couple of years ago and procrastinated... then my brother started blogging about their family vacation to Australia and continued on for a few months (he's back now!), and that was inspiring. But the kicker was getting reacquainted with Jen and reading her blog, and her insistent (and welcomed) encouragement toward blogging.

When do you usually publish your posts?
Any old time of day or night. Obviously not often enough...

In your guesstimation, how many blogs do you read?
Way way way too many. Some every day (Jen's, The Gift, noodleroux, dooce, nienie, among others) and some every week or so. I have a number of foodie ones, too, that always inspire and uplift. (FYI, nienie (Stephanie Nielson) was on Oprah today, which I happened to dvr and am now watching--she and her husband survived a plane crash a year ago, and her story is one I find inspiring every time I read her blog. Her courage is beyond words. She's just one example of bloggers having a larger impact on the world than just their little old words every day--while she was recovering in the hospital, her friends kept her blog going for her, updating her readers, and word of their tragedy and then recovery spread far and wide--that's when I discovered her.)

How long have you been blogging for?
I am coming up on my one-year blogaversary. I make resolutions to do better, blog better, be more consistent, all the time, and so of course as I turn a big 1, I'll have a little review of the year and see if I'm on track, what changes I'll want to make. (Uh, Sher? You could update your little old bookshelf over there to the right. Yup. And those blogs you follow, maybe update that a little? Sure.)

Why did you start blogging?
I thought it would be a good way to be accountable in my cooking--write it down, get it consistent. I had hoped to work my way through all the recipes I worked with while I was catering, and get a record of them... still sounds like a good idea, but in true Sher fashion, there are all these OTHER things I'd like to make, and new ideas come up every day... I think I need 12 children to feed, don't you think? (Don't tell Seth I said that.)

Why do you keep blogging?
I like it. It kind of changes the way one thinks about things--is it blog-worthy?--and how I approach cooking some days. I get encouragement from family and friends that helps keep me blogging too. That helps on days when the comments aren't rolling in. (FYI, I'm amazed at how many people will verbally tell me they like the blog, or will email me comments, or put them on facebook, but don't/won't comment on the blog. Comment, people. It's fun! Well, I like it when you do, anyway.)

If you could only recommend one blog to a friend, which one would it be?
Couldn't do it. I have my go-tos, but there are truly so many out there, and new ones to discover every day. Good blogs lead you to other good blogs, and so on. It's a wonderful kind of circular connection. Picture lots of people holding hands around the world. Yeah, like that.

If the internet was “turned off” for one month, what do you do with all the time you used to spend blogging?
Cooking, crafting and taking pictures so that when the internet was "turned back on," I could have 92 more posts in my drafts folder... Oh, and probably watching too much TV and gaining weight from all the cooking and eating. Good times.

So that's a little about me. If you blog, tell me about you. If you don't, you can still email me and tell me about you. I don't mind.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gourmet gone... sad, sad day

Today the blogosphere (well, the foodie one, and the publishing one too) was quite ga-ga over the news that Gourmet magazine (as well as Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride) are all being canned over at Conde Nast. As originally posted in the NYTimes, the decision was a shock even to insiders, who expected Bon Appetit would take the fall before Gourmet. What a sad day, I must say.

Of all the food magazines, Gourmet has long been considered one of the very best in terms of writing, photography and general usability of the recipes; some say Ruth Reichl saved it from its self-important self since taking over editorship in 1999... That's probably about when I started paying attention to the magazine, so my pre-Ruth knowledge is scanty at best. Some of my very favorite holiday ideas and recipes have come from Gourmet... and I have many of the magazines still around--they are the last of the last to get ripped up and the recipes stashed in files. As many bloggers today attested, Gourmet is a keeper, a collectible magazine with a sharp eye toward travel, food, recipes and lately especially, food politics. I have also shamelessly utilized the great photography for inspiration on food photo shoots for work...

I will greatly miss Gourmet. While my food magazine subscriptions have dwindled greatly in recent years and the internet has taken more and more of my attention with easily accessible recipes, I have maintained my Gourmet subscription stubbornly and looked forward to those gorgeous glossy covers each month in my mailbox. Sniff. Whatever past issues still exist on my cookbook shelves will NOT be ripped up... can we say laminated?! Buried with me?! Well, that may be going a bit far...

Here are a few interesting links to the news from around the web:
Slashfood (which reports staff must be out of the building by end of day Tuesday!)
The Atlantic (a lovely optimistic view...)
Across the pond at the Guardian, a sweet tribute by Jay Rayner, one of the judges from Top Chef Masters

Pesto makes everything better!

This morning the frost was definitely getting a little too close for comfort--some really white patches in the garden prompted my turning into Garden Destructo Gremlin. Time to take it down to the ground!

I went out with my picking containers and was amazed to find that many things have continued to ripen, even with the steeply declining temperatures of the past few days. I picked about 30 butternut squashes, a couple of large containers of tomatoes, a few cucumbers, and of course there were still a few zucchini and summer squash.

There were also a number of lovely squash blossoms, and I decided that lunch needed to include one last foray into the stuffed blossom world... but this time with a twist. Pesto! Plenty of pesto still in the fridge, and so I mixed a generous scoop of that in with my usual ricotta mix; because of the pesto, I didn't add the herb mix as I do with the plain cheese mixture. It was quite delicious... pesto DOES make everything better.
Ricotta mixture pre-stuffing.

Blossoms, all fried up and ready to eat. Heaven.
I just love those little squashes still attached to the blooms. I'm already looking forward to the garden again next summer... sort of. I am also looking forward to a few months of gazing at the garden patch without the guilt of thinking about what I should be doing out there...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

What a long week. No other way to say it. Long long long. Did you get that? Loooong.

But here we are, already dusky, dark, quiet on a Friday night. Time to chill, relax and reflect on the week. And be grateful.

*The greatest grateful moment this week is that husband is home safe and sound from being on the road for 10 days. Ten days! That's about nine days too long, in my humble opinion. Part of the week feeling so long is that I haven't slept really well with husband gone--not his fault, I just tend to stay up late doing nothing. Thus, I've been fighting some little nonsense as a result of bad sleep, which makes for a long week. Good thing he's home so I can have my precious sleep!!

*Also very grateful for Seth's birthday, for a lovely little birthday morning, full of phone calls and emails and pop-bys from the sweet auntie down the road. He went off to school feeling very loved, I do believe. Below is the young man, headed out to school on his big day.

*Rain came down today, and that made me thankful. It was followed by some beautiful afternoon sunshine, which was fine, but I'm ready for rain. Lots of rain. Beautiful rain.

*Quiet mornings. A couple of mornings this week I actually came back from dropping Seth at school and was able to discipline myself enough to get some reading and writing done. It was quite blissful and set me up for the rest of the day. Those were my most productive days. Must remember that when I'm scheduling things left and right.

*Crafty time. I finally took the sewing class I've been waiting for, on hand-stitched applique. It was fun--been awhile since I've had three hours just FLY by like that. Met a few lovely ladies--one taking the class with me, one teaching, and another who was just in the room with us sewing various projects. I get how addictive the whole process could be... and now just need to carry on from home! Side note: must keep organized. Right now my crafty space is quite overflowing and needs a bit of whipping into shape...

*Girl time. Had some lovely friend interactions this week, lunches and movies out and just chats with tea. Thankful, thankful.

*Stories. Love a good story. Looking forward to cracking open some new books soon. Also, finally saw Julie & Julia last night (on its very last night in town, talk about cutting it close!) and really enjoyed it. It was what I expected in many ways, but the love story aspect of it was more touching and lovely than I anticipated. I'm contemplating writing my own little review of it... we'll see. I did just adore Meryl. How's that for stating the obvious?!

*Very grateful for the weekend. For rest and peace and a couple of days on the down-low, before we're up and at it again.

Peace out! Happy weekend, everyone.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursday 13: I have a teenager!

October 1, 1996, was a great day, because it brought Seth in to the world.

As I wondered how to appropriately mark his special day here on my blog, I realized that it's Thursday, AND that he's turning 13... It seemed appropriate to do a Thursday 13.

To be up front, the inspiration for this comes from Jen's blog: Stuff Jen Says. And as Seth recently remarked: "Jen says some pretty good stuff." She in turn was inspired by Wallace Stevens' poem, 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. I remember this poem from college, and Seth and I even attempted to memorize it together a few years back. For some reason I have always thought fondly of this poem.

Thirteen ways of looking at Seth

Among the children I know
There is one with cheer beyond many,
His name is Seth.

There are two sides
Of a grilled cheese,
The favored sandwich of Seth.

Seth persists at cross-country.
This is wonderful; his run times improve!

Seth and his computer
Are one.
Seth and his computer and Line Rider
Are one.

Seth is not sure which he prefers,
The sarcasm of Calvin or
The wit of Far Side.
But he does know that he prefers
Get Fuzzy to either of them.

We settle in for another season
Full of dancing and music (SYTYCD).
Seth awaits another popper or beat boy
To dominate and make it through
To the top 10.

O why do I have so many chores?
Cries out Seth, as he heads
Down the driveway with the trash.
Can’t you see I have a full schedule
Of homework and computer time?

Seth knows the value of x,
And he knows the value of y.
But he knows, too,
That he needs to show all of his work
To get an A.

When Mom calls out, “I mean really brush your teeth!”
Seth is shocked.
Does she have eyes in the back of her head?

As the Wii remote
Runs out of batteries,
Seth is frustrated. Why can’t
He play MarioKart all night?

Seth’s basketball shoes are ready,
Primed for another season.
Soon he’ll be hitting it
From the 3-point line,
Loving the swoosh.

The music is loud.
Seth must have Owl City blaring.

It’s been a quick thirteen years.
There is great joy.
There will be more joy (and probably tears).
We are so very blessed
To have such a son.

Cross-country skiing, 7 years old.

Walking me down the aisle, 9 years old

At Grandma and Grandpa's on Mayne Island, B.C., 6 years old

Probably watching the National Geographic panda video, about a year old.

In NYC, 8 months old.
For other folks who play Thursday 13, go here.
Hope you have a great Thursday! Happy TT.
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