Thursday, December 31, 2009

Update on Thursday 13 New Year's Edition 2008

Here's what I said I'd do last year on New Year's Eve, mostly relative to cooking and blogging.

How did I do? Hmmm, not too badly. Not stellar, rock-star, spot on, but somewhere in the acceptable range. (I can just hear Seth parroting back to me my little Yoda mantra: "There is no try. There is only do or do not." Or some such nonsense that sounds like it would come from me. Ha.)

1. Continue to blog about food, but get healthier along the way. Gradual steps toward whole foods, less processed, for the whole family. Check. Some weeks have been a little light, but I'm still here!

2. Be experimental in the kitchen. Perfect the omelette--either using Bittman's method or Pepin's, or maybe I'll come up with something all my own... Finally make my own marshmallows. And madeleines. And lavender lemonade (with my own lavendar). Did the omelette thing, did the lavendar lemonade. Experimented a bunch... didn't always blog about it. Sigh.

3. Find more local sources for foods and ingredients. Shop where local sources are promoted. Yep. Eggs, produce, meat. Thankfully we have more sources now than ever.

4. Make a grocery budget and stick to it. Stop the spontaneous and impulse purchases, which are rarely worth it. This one I did better in the first half of the year. Then I relaxed a wee tad. Need to step up the awareness again.

5. Expand the repertoire of foods Seth can cook on his own. He will have input on this, of course, but it's time to move beyond scrambled eggs and pesto to some of his more ambitious tastes like choux pastry (cream puffs!) and gelato (those were his two first requests). Note the sweet tooth; this apple did not fall far from the tree! But I'm also looking for him to be more self-sufficient in the kitchen, less dependant on "Mom, I'm hungry, what is there to eat?" This one needs to stay on the list. We kinda fell down on this one...

6. More and improved home gardening to expand our local food sources! I need to be more consistent in the care of the garden all the way through the season and preserve the overflow. (I have a tendency toward giving up around the middle of July--pathetic I know--when it hits 105 degrees in Walla Walla and I'm all about shade and air conditioning.) This was the best year yet for the garden. Produced more, and preserved more. Onward and upward for next summer!

7. Get recipes posted to foodgawker and/or tastespotting. Join foodbuzz. Be a part of the food blogging community. Um, yeah. Tried once with tastespotting, got rejected and promptly went to sleep on this goal. Ready to hit it again. Did join foodbuzz, however, just not very active...

8. Figure out a way to get the fig trees growing/living/thriving and not eaten by Ruby. This may prove to be the most challenging goal of 2009! Check. Put one outside the fence. Genius, eh? Here's hoping it makes it through the cold...

9. Continue to work on recipes that are in my head (from catering days) and get them out on paper, tested and scaled for normal proportions (as in, who needs chickpea salad for 50? Not most people, and not me, anymore!). Sort of... it will continue, as this is an ongoing thing.

10. Pare down my recipe books and food magazines, decide what's really important and what will never be used and finally break the cord and get rid of them... even though it feels pretty painful to think about. I gave away two cookbooks! Well, maybe a few more than that. And now I have at least a half-dozen new ones between my birthday and Christmas, so I will take out a few more oldies (speak up if you are interested) to make room for the new! I am committed to not outgrowing my two full bookcases of cookbooks.

11. Food photography. While tangential to food itself, and more related to the blogging, I feel keenly about improving the quality of photos on my blog. I have some ideas on how to do that, and fellow food bloggers have been good about posting their tips, so I will take advantage of that. And then there's just practice, practice, practice! OK, just made progress on this one within the past couple of weeks when husband bequeathed me his Nikon as he upgraded. I am ready to rock the photog world. Well, with baby steps...

12. Embrace Michael Pollan's mantra of: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (Sher's version: Eat REAL food, not plastic-corn-chemically food. Portion control, please! And a steak every once in awhile is fine, just keep it local.) This one is a good reminder. Still need to work on fewer processed items coming into the house.

13. Exercise more. I'd say "daily," but that might be a little too ambitious. But almost any exercise will be more than what I'm doing right now! Ditto to this one. Ever onward!

Tomorrow I will post my resolutions for 2010. I'm doing it a little differently this year... fewer goals, more tenacity in hitting them! That's the theory, anyway.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Experimenting with almond flour: Banana bread

We came home to some super-ripe bananas in the fruit bowl... forgot to freeze those before we took off on vacation! My first thought with ripe bananas is banana bread, of course. I have a tried and true basic banana bread recipe in Fanny Farmer that I've used forever, but lately I've been wanting to experiment with almond flour as an ingredient, and that's something I don't think dear Fanny knew anything about. A blog about gluten-free cooking that I look in on occasionally, Elena's Pantry, advocates almond flour, and even though I don't need to avoid gluten (that I know of...), it just sounds good to me. Nutty and yummy and all that.

Of course, when I looked at the fat content of almond flour, I did a little quick breath intake and thought, "Oh my, well, at least it's the GOOD fat." Since I've been eating pretty much non-stop on the BAD fat lately, might as well do a bit of battle with the good... So I took Elena's recipe and fiddled with it--added back a bit of the Fanny--and it turned out wonderfully. Next time I might just make it with just the almond flour and skip the whole wheat entirely... we'll see.

Sher's experimental banana bread
2 cups blanched almond flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
3 eggs, whisked
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 bananas, mashed

In a large bowl, mix together whole wheat flour, almond flour, salt and baking soda. In a smaller bowl, combine mashed bananas, brown sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Place batter in two greased/sprayed loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes, or until skewer inserted into the bread comes out dry. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

I especially like the texture of the bread, and the feel as you're chewing; it's just less wheaty. It's hard to know how to describe it, exactly... you'll just have to try baking with almond flour. I think this ingredient is going to find its way into more of my recipes in the future...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

Wow, Christmas on a Friday, just in time for a grateful list? That doesn't happen every year, eh? Yep, that would be me, full of turkey and stating the obvious. Ah. That Perfect Bite, it does really exist.

This week I'm grateful for:
*A lovely Christmas with husband and the parents. It has been a wonderfully mellow day, nobody doing anything too strenuous. Well, lifting those stockings off the fireplace took a little doing, but Ma handled that job quite beautifully.

Ma also cooked an amazing Christmas dinner, which has turned me into a turkey-coma sofa blob, quite happily. See evidence of said dinner below.

*I'm grateful for my Christmas presents, of which there are probably too many to mention. I am indeed an indulged girl. Christmas so far has been broken up in to pieces--with brother and family, with husband's family, now with my mom and dad, and we still have a chunk to do with Seth when we see him at the first of the year--many fun and ribbon-shredding moments!

*A pre-Christmas visit with my Grandma and Aunt Bobbie in Kelowna. I had been hoping for snow, what with it being *Canada* and all, but apparently that was not to be. Sigh. But it was lovely, as always, to see them, and we had some good games of Scrabble. Uncle Ben, my grandmother's brother-in-law, came in for an afternoon visit too, and he roundly trounced us at Rummicube.

*The sound of the ferries. Love that horn (when it's not right overhead!).

*The sunrises and sunsets here on the island. It's been spectacular. If it can't snow (yes, that again), I guess I'll take the sunshine.

See this:
This is what I've been wishing for. I think I will be wishing awhile...

*My new stack of blank books, journals, daybooks. There will be NO excuse for me not being completely on top of it, in line, on task, meeting deadlines, achieving goals, blah blah blah in 2010. I am well equipped to take on the world!

*Meeting up with old friends. I had breakfast and a wild pile of coffee with an old friend from elementary school this week, one of the days I was in Kelowna. Well, we went to the same school, but as you might remember from those days yourself, you aren't often friends with those in the grades above you... and she was TWO above mine. Oh wow. To me in those days she was larger than life, full of spunk and verve, and we agreed after our breakfast that this was the longest we'd chatted, ever (all two hours of our catching up!), even though we've probably known each other since 1977 or thereabouts. Once again, thanks to the power of Facebook.

*Philopena. I think we have about a half-dozen games going right now in the house, every different permutation possible. Wish me luck in the morning. I want to collect lots of prizes at Butchart Gardens tomorrow. We are going to take a little day trip to the big island tomorrow, to see the Christmas displays at Butchart... very much looking forward to that.

*Peace and quiet on the island. So quiet. Other than those ferry horns...

*To have had some really great times with Seth at Thanksgiving and these weeks leading up to Christmas, so not being with him today was pretty much OK. Not great. Not wonderful. But workable. And when I remembered that by mutually-agreed-upon negotiation, we have had him with us for three out of the last four Christmases, I had to smile to myself. I'm a greedy mom, tis true. I would never argue with that statement.

*Chocolate. I am not quite the chocolate freak I once was, but this time of year my choco-tolerance goes up and I'm a happy chocolate eater. Hedgehogs especially!

*I'm especially grateful for the entire season Christmas and the pause it provides to reflect on all we have to be grateful for, from the micro to the macro, and most of all for the Symbol of the Season. Tucked in between all the baking and the gift giving, there's a real opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture. Can't say I've paused and reflected as much as I should have or could have this season, but I have been contemplating ways to get more of that in the schedule for next year, and am ready to roll with that for 2010!

*Also grateful that holidays with the husband extend another week. Looking forward to kicking back and relaxing a bit, as well as doing some planning for 2010 and maybe even bringing some order to nooks and crannies of the house that have been sorely neglected in the holiday hubbub. And I do love the blank slate of a new year, even if I can't quite believe that 2009 has gone by so quickly. Whoosh.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! Oh, and I finally watched Miracle on 34th Street last night for the first time ever. It was quite sweet and I can't believe I made it to 41 without a viewing. Maybe next year I'll even watch White Christmas!

Christmas breakfast cheese blintz puff

I can't remember the first time we made this fabulous but easy breakfast casserole... I think it was sometime in the '90s. The recipe is from the Moosewood book Sundays at Moosewood, which is one of my old favorites. Every time I open it, I am reminded that I should browse it more often! This has been a family Christmas breakfast standby more Christmases than not, and I had almost forgotten about it when Ma mentioned making it yesterday! Yeah for her memory, not so much for mine...

This happy and sunny Christmas morning we made a half-recipe. Having only four adults to partake, a 9x13 pan seemed like a bit of overkill. And the recipe halved quite nicely.

Here is the full recipe, as written in Moosewood:

Easy Cheese Blintz Puff
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
2 Tbsp sour cream or plain yogurt
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 Tbsp baking powder

about 1 pound farmer cheese
1 pound ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a blender, combine the batter ingredients until very smooth. Pour half of the batter into a buttered 9x13 pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until set.

Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients and mix well.

When the bottom layer of batter has set, remove the baking pan from the oven and smoothly spread the cheese filling over it. Briefly remix the remaining batter and then gently pour it over the filling, covering it completely. Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the top is puffed, set and browned.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into squares. Serve immediately--either plain or with toppings.

The bottom layer, prior to baking

The finished puff, just out of the oven

It makes for a lovely breakfast, one I highly recommend for you and yours! We opened stockings before we ate, of course, and now the turkey's (this one Ma has named Annabelle, mine from Thanksgiving was Harold, just a bit of info for you there) in the oven and we'll get started on the rest of Christmas dinner a bit later. It's a beautiful morning on Mayne Island and hardly feels like Christmas at all, but every time I suggest a bit of snow, I get booed down by the rest of the room. Sigh.

Merry Christmas to all from our peaceful island hideaway!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas meme frivolity

A quiet afternoon by the fire, by the tree... what could be better? Not much. The house is quiet. The oven is OFF. Goody boxes to be assembled... a bit later...

I grabbed this meme from a blog I read daily, noodleroux... well, I read as often as Cha-Cha posts, anyway. A clever writer with many good stories to be told! She got the meme from another blogger who got it from another blogger, and so on. Like that old shampoo ad... yeah, that one.

Here we go!

1. Have you started your Christmas shopping? Oh my, yes. I'd say it's almost done. A couple more tidbits to go, but nothing major. I have a few kinks to work out on both the boys, but since we're not ripping the wrapping, as it were, until we're all back together the first of the year, I have a moment to pause and ponder.

2. Tell me about your special traditions. When I was a kid we played a game called philopena. You must go look that up, it's a hoot. I haven't played in years, but I think I associate it with Christmas because there were so many whole nuts around the house, with a nutcracker. My mom rocks at philopena. Just try to beat her. For some reason I think I always kind of thought it was a racist game, called "Philipino." Now I feel ashamed I thought badly of my family for playing such a game...

3. When do you put up your tree? As soon as possible after Thanksgiving.

4. Are you a Black Friday shopper? Not much. Certainly not in the 4 a.m. style. If I wander out later, I wander. But the bargains, while I do love a bargain, don't really seem to be aimed at me on Black Friday...

5. Do you travel at Christmas or stay home? Seems like we travel a lot at Christmas. I'm hoping to be here next year and have people come to us. Hear that, people?!

6. What is your funniest Christmas memory? Maybe the year Shelby sliced his finger with the exacto-blade while making a model? No. Not that one. Funny and Christmas don't really seem to go together for me... not that it's NOT a funny time of year, but nothing really pops to mind. I have many lovely memories of skiing on Christmas day, the years we lived practically next door to a small ski hill... and I have a real strange fondness for going to movies on Christmas day, but I can't think I've done that more than once or twice... Now, the Christmas we were on Majuro, when I was 11 or so, and my parents were helping rebuild a school after a tidal wave went over the island... that was a "funny" Christmas, in that we ate all kinds of odd things the Red Cross dropped off for all the islanders--corned beef hash, dry-flake mashed potatoes, Apple Jacks (I had never eaten those before, and frankly haven't since!), and went snorkling on Christmas Day... OK, still not funny in the traditional sense...

7. What is your favorite Christmas movie of all time? Elf. I also like Home Alone. A little Christmas Story is good too. But don't get me started on Love, Actually. Really, don't. I know everyone just loves that movie, but ugh. No thanks, even though there are a couple of cute story lines, the infidelity and crushing on your best friend's wife... not so much my cup of tea. Husband is going to be appalled that I don't mention White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, Holiday Inn... but I just wasn't raised with those... that's why he's around, to educate me!

8. Do you do your own Christmas baking? What is your favorite treat? That's a funny one! Ha. Do I do my own baking... hmmm. Just a little. My favorite treats can vary over the years, but the few that really stand out, still, are butter tarts of the Canadian/Grandma Kandt variety, Florentine shortbreads, and this year I made some coconut cake snowballs that I am in love with. All to come in later posts...

9. Fake or real tree? We need a biggun with the living room we have right now, and, well, after the first year where the tree died within a week (I bought a cheapo) and the replacement cost about $150, we decided to go for the fake-o. It's big a beautiful and really doesn't look fake, I swear. I have a great appreciation for the smell of Christmas trees, but I also have a great appreciation for not contributing to the death of more trees and also not burning down the house.

10. What day does the actual panic set in to get it all done? Right around when the tree goes up. I like to get my panic out of the way early.

11. Are you still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve? Usually, yes. It's surprising why I wait (procrastinate), since I really enjoy the activity of wrapping...

12. What is your favorite family fun time at Christmas? Mexican train dominoes. Stuffing stockings at midnight with my mom and sister-in-law (and piling up the stuff that doesn't fit into the stocking somewhere under the stocking!). Undoing the stockings in the morning. Christmas breakfast. The whole day.

13. What Christmas craft do you like best? Coming up with new trimmings... wreaths, stockings, that sort of thing.

14. Christmas music, yes or no? And if yes, what is your favorite song? Oh my yes. iTunes says I have more than 500 holiday songs, which is kind of shocking. I make a Christmas mix every year, as do several of my friends, so there is a lot of music swapping going on and new music to be enjoyed. I do have a few favorites... of the sacred variety I am extremely partial to almost anyone singing "Mary, Did You Know?" and of the merry secular variety I adore Michael Buble's "Grown Up Christmas List" and Alison Krauss' "Only You Can Bring Me Cheer," and of course Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Barielles singing "Winter Song"... the list is quite long.

15. When do you plan to finish all your shopping? Sometime next week, obviously. By Wednesday, I'd say, since Wednesday night I will arrive somewhere fairly remote.

16. Do you know the names of all of Santa’s reindeer {without googling it}? Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen, Dasher and Dancer... Vixen? I was informed by husband that Rudolph wasn't part of the gang, but what about the song? I'm confused and frustrated not to be able to google it.

17. When do you take down your Christmas tree? Sometime the first week of January, depending on schedule and mood.

18. Hardest person to buy for? Husband, brother, father. Men in general. 'Cept Seth. He's easy peasy, mostly.

19. Easiest person to buy for? My mom. We have similar enough tastes and interests.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Nothing right now. Isn't that shocking? We need something that signifies this family... not sure that's an angel. Probably a star!

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The busy-ness.

22. What do you want for Christmas? My two front teeth. Seriously, not much. Just a relaxing time with husband, safe travels for my family, a peaceful time for everyone... and if a few shiny, pretty things find their way into my stocking, well, that's fine too.

Here's the blog that started it all: Top 10 Christmas. If you're so inclined, play along on your blog--or post your response in the comments--and link back to her. The more the merrier!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

Ah well, could have called that one, eh? In fact, you probably did. No postings this week... zippo, zada, zilch. And the baked goods flying out of the kitchen? Like bats, I say. Yes. Bats. It was a truly wild and crazy week, filled with all kinds of curve balls and crazy circumstances, but yeah yeah yeah for Friday night.

Tonight I'm most grateful for:
* A great visit last weekend with my brother's family. That is always a great way to kick off the holidays for us.

* An extra weekend with Seth to further stretch our holiday time out with him. We will enjoy every minute of it and Mom promises not to be grumpy anymore, I do so solemnly swear (last night I was tired and rather grumpy).

* A sweet husband who has accommodated all my baking fits, forgotten items at home (yes, he went and got them for me, what a gem) when I've been in the throes of food set up, and odd random crying spells (did I mention I was grumpy last night?). I've been a real peach this week, I tell you. A handful, yes, but all the good ones are.

* Sweet girlfriends who tell me that while I might still look tired, I don't look AS tired as I did earlier in the week. Just wait until after the weekend. I plan to look entirely rested!

* An amazing lunch today--might be the fact that I didn't have to cook it? But still, really heavenly. A cup of roasted cauliflower soup (creamy goodness!), a pear/parmesan/pinenut salad, and a piece of my friend Sara's grilled cheese sandwich (to dip in my cauliflower soup!). All at one of our favorite lunch spots, T. Maccarone's. It was de-lightful. De-licious. And the company was de-lovely as well!

* The fact that I'm done with holiday baking and catering and all those fun things. Now the hard part is packing up a few goody boxes and getting them delivered over the weekend. Oh joy. And getting a few goody boxes into the mail as well...

* All the fun and happy ingredients of Christmas, aside from the edible ones. The joy, the festive atmosphere, the snow that didn't last as long as I'd have liked...

* For a snow (ice!) day with Seth at home on Tuesday. We didn't leave the house all day and loved it. Chopped and prepped and cooked and baked; when I needed things from the store, husband brought them to me. How handy!

* For a beautiful wooden comb that feels like butter in my hair. Check out this sweet early Christmas gift from my lovely friend Suzanne:

* For Christmas laughs like this one:

And this one:

And of course my favorite one, the angry elf scene:

I had forgotten how much I just love Elf!

* For an extended family that I've gotten to know better over the years, and especially more since the advent of Facebook. The past couple of weeks we've gotten many beautiful cards and letters--I've been especially tickled to get so many via email... I may just have to make that transition myself one of these years! Today we received a Christmas card from my mom's cousin Jeanne, and the sentiments it held were quite thoughtful and inspiring. She included a quote from Ralph Marston, a motivational author:

Live today, and live it fully. Start out by reminding yourself how truly precious life is, and move forward with that in mind.

See the beauty and take time to enjoy it. See the possibilities and make the effort to bring them into reality.

You can do things today that will forever change life for the better. Focus on your own special way to create value, and make it happen.

Pay attention to those things that truly matter. Give your love, your energy and your time to them, and your blessings will grow even more abundant.

No matter what the outside circumstances may be, let joy flow from inside you. And watch as it changes the world around you.

This is a day to be filled with beauty, with loving effort, with the wonder, joy and positive energy of being alive. Live this day fully while it is here, and its joys will be with you always.

Love those sentiments. Good words to live by. Thanks for the reminder, Jeanne.

I also just love this flower arrangement for Christmas, from an online shop called Nettleton Hollow. How beautiful.

Hard to believe we're a week away from Christmas. Seems like it has snuck up so quickly, in spite of those ridiculously early Christmas displays in some stores... but here we are, and there we'll be, and there will be plenty to be thankful for then, too.

Have a great Christmas countdown everyone! Now that the cooking's done, the posting can begin. Famous last words!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

Feels like Christmas, it really does. Biggest sign is that family is here... that always helps move me rapidly in the Christmas direction. And having a deadline to get the house un-sugar-crusted and un-flour-coated? Priceless. Thank goodness I do enjoy a deadline! (Just don't open the closet in the guestroom, please!)

This week I was reminded of many things to be thankful for, not the least of which is:

* A warm, clean house. The warm part I'm grateful for. The clean part I'm proud of! (Must do that more often, truly. It just feels so good to relax in a tidy, clean space. Ah.)

* A loving, thoughtful spouse.

* A cheerful, happy and affectionate kid.

* The beautiful alchemy of flour and sugar and butter and all the many variations available from those ingredients... and a few more ingredients (hazelnuts, chocolate, fruit, nuts...) tossed in for good measure too, I suppose.

* The cheer of Christmas music. And those great merry mixes from friends!

* The peace of a quiet day, just me and my baking, and my audiobooks.

* The generous spirit of friends, their kindness and laughter.

* The diversity of people and their backgrounds.

* Cookies, candy and cake. Isn't that what Vitamin C is all about? Ha. And then there's chocolate. (I think my sweet tooth is back, at least temporarily!)

* Knowing that my immediate family is safe and well and healthy. I don't take that for granted.

* The glow of the Christmas tree, and the multicolored bliss of our many and varied ornaments.

* The anticipation of snow.

* The laughter of my neices. Love those gutteral giggles. So glad they all made the trek over the mountains to see us this weekend!

* The fact that the whole house smells so good with all the Christmas baking--I go to sleep and it smells good and the scent is still there in the morning! Heavenly.

* That my arm/shoulder thing healed up quickly--really almost within 24 hours--and I was able to continue on with my week relatively unscathed.

* For hope and the spark that it brings, however faint for some. It is truly a powerful force... hope. For love and the warmth that it adds to our lives. For faith and the strength and courage it both gives and requires. For peace, wherever we can find it, however long we can hold on to it.

* For the multitude of lights around town, making these early evenings so much more bearble. My first choice after dark: home. But if I have to be out and about, hermit that I am (not usually), I appreciate seeing everyone's hard work in their festive outdoor lighting. And I'll keep the Griswold jokes to a minimum!

* For technology and all that it adds to our lives (no Luddites here, no sir!). I couldn't get a good picture of the tree with my point-and-shoot, and Kim was able to get the picture you see at the top on her iPhone and quickly emailed it to me--how handy! Things that we wouldn't have dreamt of 10 years ago we now take for granted... wonder where we'll be 10 years from now...

Here's a sweet video of a talented little ukelele player, riffing on Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours." I apologize for not being able to find the "real" version so you can see how the lyrics really go, but, frankly, I gave up after finding only covers or nonsense versions on YouTube... maybe when I'm a little more awake I'll find it!

Peace to all on this cold and frosty weekend!

Monday, December 7, 2009

That smarts!

So guess who took a face plant in the garage last night? Ouch.

I was carrying four FULL bowls of dog food and was distributing them around the garage per usual so that the animals can all have their dinner in relative peace and I think I snagged my foot on the corner of a dog bed.

Weird thing is I thought I'd only hurt my knee--came down hard on my right knee. But after I got up and in the house, after yelling expletives at the poor doggies who were quite confused by Mommy's spastic flail, I noticed my left arm/shoulder hurting quite badly too. I really have no idea how that happened except that was the arm holding all the bowls and I am sure I clenched up quite mightily to try and diminish the spray of dog food chunks flying about. It sort of worked... I had about three full bowls left to leave with them, and they happily snarfed up the stray food too.

So why am I telling you this? No particular reason other than I am in a constant state of, "Oh, I guess I need my arm to do that" right now--everything from reaching up into a kitchen cabinet to putting my hair into a ponytail, which I neglected to ask husband's help with before he left for work. So now I'm the scarecrow-haired woman who will go through the day with half of her makeup on. How fun for anyone I happen to see. And, I do have to leave the house for a meeting later today, otherwise I'd spare the world that particular treat. I'm thinking I'll put off things like finishing the Christmas tree and anything else that requires full mobility for a few days--Kim, you really might get to help me with it this weekend! I should be able to make the list of "things I can't do" quite long if I really work on it...

But I'm off to see what cracking eggs and beating flourless chocolate cake batter is like one armed. I am SO glad it's my left arm that's dangling limp and loose, not my right! Whew for that.

Oh, and this. I'm pretty sure I won't be doing anything like this today:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday night grateful moment

Oh dear, it's been one of THOSE weeks again, when I look at the blog and reflect that while things certainly have happened since last Friday night, the translation of that activity that to "paper," alas, has not transpired. Sigh.

Still, grateful list on tap, many things to be thankful for:
* So grateful for a weekend, though there are many things to be done, not the least to clean up the tumbleweed-strewn yard (even though it's supposed to be pathetically cold out) and get the final touches on the tree. Rest will happen, and then work will happen. I swear it.

* Grateful we had extra scheduled time with the young lad Seth this week. It was a joy, even the homework hounding part.

* Seth had a band concert last night (no, I'm not grateful for THAT) and got to play his new (to him) trumpet and had a blast. He really enjoyed being able to provide inspiration to the 5th and 6th graders who watched the jazz band with wide eyes. That was him last year! And I'm grateful he's such a thankful kid for his newish shiny trumpet. It's a pretty one.

* I'm thankful for girlfriends and pierogies. A couple of my Canadian gal pals and I have a seven-year tradition of making pierogies and we spontaneously decided that THIS was the week--we usually do it sometime around the holidays. We made some lovely dumplings that I will post later this weekend. And my tummy is currently happily full with them too. Oh joy.

* I'm thankful for girlfriends and music. I did one of our bi-monthly swaps today with a couple of friends and it was happy, happy, happy. I have some fun new tunes (Christmas and otherwise) to explore. And it's always wonderful to catch up with the music-bearers, as well. Wonderful women to have in my life.

Remember these guys from last year? Here's their latest fun song, "The Christmas Can-Can."

* Took a quick jaunt over to TriCities with a good friend this week--I went to get all full-up on Christmas baking supplies for company events and my own little gifting indulgences, and she went to get a leg-up on holiday shopping. We both accomplished most of what we wanted to, and spent more time than we should have at TJ Maxx as well... well, a girl's gotta get a little Christmas for her too, don't you think? I'm grateful for our conversation (which is always interesting!), our PF Chang's lunch, and our efficient shopping methods!

Check out these wonderful cookie cutters I saw this week on a fun style blog I follow:

* Grateful for my dear friend Jen, who started chemotherapy this week, that she is surrounded by love and support and more friends (funny ones too) than you can shake a stick at. It's a good thing, and I know it will help sustain her through many a long chemo treatment.

* Thankful for carmel corn. Even though my sweet tooth is being a bit of a Mr. Grinch lately--I look at all my Christmas recipes and just say "meh" to most of them--there is nothing that gets me quite as happy as a bag of Bright's carmel corn, or Harry and David's moose munch, or... homemade! And the holiday gift baskets have started arriving at work, so I'm looking forward to the ones that make the cut to take the trip home--most end up being munched on at work...

* Grateful for my husband and our quiet weekend plans tomorrow. I am hoping to see snow! Maybe even touch snow!

* Grateful for all the fun and pretty things that make this season special. All the Christmas lights, all the "candles" in the windows, all the fun decorations and music. It's fluff and not central to what makes Christmas special to me, but it certainly is frosting on the cake!

And in case you haven't heard this lately, I think Linus says it pretty well:

Don't you just want to give him a big hug? That voice...

Peace to all on this very wintery weekend. Stay warm!
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