Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday night grateful moment

Funky week. Some good, some not so good. You know, the usual... with a side of funk. That's probably the best way to put it. Seems like spring has been put on hold for the time being, that's got to account for at least part of the mood... We were going to head over to Joseph again, but the forecast called for snow (flurries, but still) and less than 40 degrees on the thermometer, so home in our cozy house we shall be.

Meanwhile, amid the funk, always the grateful.

From Beehive Kitchenware

For wisdom. Whether gleaned from others or pulled through my own thick cobwebby brain in the middle of a dark night, I do appreciate what we as humans can come up with to solve our problems, some times.

For experience. Which hopefully then leads to wisdom. But not always...

For clever shops. Found one this week: Petit Collage. So sweet. Must throw baby showers. Anyone? Anyone? Is it too soon for Baby B to have a sib? I'm just asking... a girl can ask, can't she?

For reassurance. "'For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11) Yep, that kind of reassurance.

For rain. And dark clouds against the mountains. And rainbows. Always with the rainbows...


For inspiration, even in the unlikeliest of places.

For laughter. Even if sometimes I have the MOST unladylike snort. Can't help it, honest. Trying to find a way to reframe snorting AS ladylike... any ideas would be helpful.

For companionship and love and affection and more. And, for knowing more about what all those words mean than I did in my 20s. Thank goodness.

For peace. And quiet.

For the words: "Love you more."

For reciprocity. Even the word is delightful. Say it slowly. Isn't that a lovely word?

For eggs. Had a lovely gift of some farm-fresh eggs this week and promptly whipped up some delish egg salad. There is nothing quite like the depth of flavor from farm eggs. I need chickens. I feel chickens in my future.

For asparagus. I revel in being smack in the middle of asparagus season, and happy as can be.

For people I've never met but have gotten to know anyway. (Online.) (Didn't that used to have such a connotation to it? Not so much anymore, as long as the email address isn't from the penitentiary...)

For music. Met up with my favorite Walla Walla Mama Music this morning for coffee and chat (always delightful!) and received some tunes. Sweet listening. And earlier, via Facebook, saw a video of Joshua Bell that led me to an early morning YouTube video-chasing session, landing me at this one, which I adore. And led me then to iTunes so the album could be mine.

For memories. I went and saw Joshua Bell when he was about 17 and I was 16, at the Spokane Opera House (that kind of makes it sound like it was just the two of us, but there were a few hundred other people there as well!). He was a violin wunderkind at the time... still is, though less kind, if you know what I mean. But it's a very specific memory in a sea of many many less-specific memories, and it came back to me today when watching his videos.

For sleep. Love that stuff. Looking forward to a whole basket of it over the weekend!

For the ability to follow directions and find ways to figure stuff out. Hence, less reading the Photoshop manual, more watching videos and tutorials. It's just what works for me.

Hope your weekend is filled with all good things!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pardon me while I play around

So who finally busted out the Photoshop? Guilty. Wasn't feeling too well this afternoon so I thought I might as well give myself a headache too, right?! Sort of. But mostly, it was a lot of fun, with some help from a few nerds sweet people who take the time to answer questions on Blogger's support forums and post videos to YouTube instructing those of us completely NOT in the know about CSS and HTML. Thank goodness for those people!

Fully expect the header to change over the next few weeks, as I continue to experiment. If there's one you like better than others, please do let me know, though. Feedback is always lovely.

Carry on!

Thursday 13: Right now!

Janet posted along these lines last week, so I'm borrowing! It's kind of an amalgam of late Wednesday night, early Thursday morning, but here's what's going on with me:

1. I am thinking… a lot about parenting a teenager. Nothing too stressful or unique, just a bit of new territory.

2. I am thankful for… the amazing sunset we had just last night. And the two rainbows that preceded it. And the amazing storm clouds and wind, and our beautiful valley.

3. From the kitchen… things are kind of quiet after the busy-ness of making breakfast for work on Tuesday. Livin' off leftovers for another day, or two! (But it does smell a bit like popcorn from last night...)

4. I am wearing… yellow plushie robe. Warm.

5. I am creating… more structure for my days. Wish me luck!

6. I am going… take Seth to go see my Grandma for Mother's Day and just learned my aunt from Oregon is going to be there as well. Should be a great trip!

7. I am reading… the book of John. And The Kind Diet. And Wit's End. And The Politician. And The Help. Time to narrow down and prioritize!

8. I am hoping… that this will be the summer that Ruby stops chewing everything in sight. I just caught her wandering around with some random hummingbird feeder piece in her mouth today and just about lost it. Serenity now!

9. I am hearing… birds and breeze. Well, wind. But breeze sounded so much more melodic.

10. Around the house… it's a daily battle against the mail and the "stuff." I'm winning, but it's a battle.

11. One of my favorite things… phone calls from Seth! Last night!

12. A few plans for the rest of the week… Coffee with a friend tomorrow, Seth's band concert tomorrow night, coffee on Friday (Again? Two coffees? Socialite stuff, you know, very typical.) and maybe head out to Joseph on Friday...

13. A picture to share…

From our salsa event at work last summer. Makes me want sunshine and 80-degree weather, like, NOW!

Happy Thursday 13! For more participants, click here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mid-week inspiration: Promise yourself

I saw this posted in two different online places yesterday. Seemed worthy of resharing further, and good points to ponder as I move through the week. And this photo my mom sent me last weekend from their Canadian island paradise, well, it seems to fit the text too!

Promise yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb
your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best
and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success
of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press
on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times
and give a smile to every living creature you meet.

To give so much time to improving yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger,
too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud word, but in great deeds.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Very bodacious frittata

Dear friend Jen posted something on Facebook a few months back about a frittata that she makes, a recipe she got from a friend. When she called it a "bodacious frittata," I knew I'd have to give it a spin and begged the recipe from her. With my tendency toward adapting, I had to mix it up a bit, of course, and now the fritatta, while still resembling the one Jen told me about, is an animal all it's own. And it's a yummy, oh-so-easy animal, too!

First go-around, close to the original.

Take two, a step further away from the original.

Original Bodacious Frittata
Use a 3" deep pan
Fill bottom w/ tater tots
Cut turkey sausage into chunks; sprinkle all over
Layer w/ sliced mushrooms
Layer of mozzarella cheese
1 dozen eggs, whipped w/ milk, salt and pepper, pour on top
Cover with foil

Bake at 325 or 350 for about 1.5 hours, remove foil last 20 minutes or so to brown.

Bodacious Frittata, adapted
Tater tots, one bag, enough to cover the bottom of the pan, baked
Vegetables, 3 cups, chopped and steamed
Baked eggs mixture (a combination of cheese, cottage cheese and eggs, with a roux to thicken)

Using a 9 x 13 baking pan, layer the tater tots on the bottom. Cook the tater tots until crispy and done. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, take 3 cups of the vegetables of your choice--I have used asparagus, peppers and broccoli--and steam them. The microwave works very well for this, or you could pan saute them too. Regardless, get them cooked a bit. Al dente is nice, as they'll continue to cook in the frittata.

Layer the vegetables over the tater tots and pour the egg mixture over the top. Jiggle the pan a bit to get the egg-cheesiness to really settle in to the tater tots and put back in the oven at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Cover with foil at the end if it's getting a little too golden.

This is probably the fourth batch of frittata I've made in a month, and this morning I made it for about 100 people at work. It was the best iteration yet, I think; I've been nibbling on leftovers all day. You can see my half-eaten plate above, quick-snapped from my iPhone... I wasn't awake enough to remember to take a pretty picture of the whole pan, but at least this way you get to see the layers.

This is definitely a make-often brunch staple. Thanks for sending me down the tater-tot road, Jen. It's changed how I think of frittatas, forever!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bits of My Weekend: Volume 9

What a full weekend! Nothing like a little road trip to make the weekend stretch out before you...

The open road in Joseph, Oregon.

Stoic Chief, pondering the really deep issues of life.

And of course, someone else had to discover the little springs and creeks and become a muddy mess!

The little forest where we hunt morels. I think (I hope) we were a little early. Not a one to be found...

This little guy ended up on the wrong side of the fence from his mother. 

We saw more deer on this trip that ever. These little beauties were part of a big pack hanging out at the park.

Back home, things are starting to bud and bloom, even more!

Don't you just love dew?

Already some casualties in the garden... I think there was a cherry tomato plant there just hours ago...

And the cantaloupe have been a wee bit trampled, but I think they'll make it!

And a bit of baking too, to round out the weekend... blueberry-lemon and cranberry-orange scones.

Coffeecake muffins. All for a work breakfast tomorrow morning.

For more Bits of My Weekend, go here. Hope your week is off to a great start!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday night grateful moment

We ended the week on a gloriously sunny note, so I'm going to choose to ignore the cold, wet, drab days that took place earlier in the week. (It's like I tell Seth about Heidi Montag: she doesn't exist--to me. You can play dumb like you don't know who she is, but we all know you know. But to me, regardless of how many magazine covers she's on--she doesn't exist. She's a figment. Of someone's imagination... The mind is a powerful tool!)

Meanwhile, back in my reality: it's been sunny! Yes, it has...

Here's my list of things I'm grateful for this week!

Look at that garden! I am so grateful that I can call up a guy and he arrives with his tractor and 5-foot rototiller attachment and a half hour later my garden is beautiful and tilled and ready for plants and seeds! I swear that's the best $55 I've spent in ages.

I am so thankful that we had some extra Seth time these past couple of weeks. So good.

I am thankful for my purple tulips, that they have lasted so well this week!

I am thankful for Seth's teachers. He's got such a good group this year--it doesn't take much for him to like school, but this year it's been especially good; certain learning fires have been lit! (Now we just need to light a few organizational and forgetfulness fires, and we'll be good to go.) And I know too that they care about his well-being; that means a lot to a mom.

I'm thankful that we had such a great family get-together last weekend, both my immediate family and then with extended folks too. Family is just lovely. You can all come back now, OK?

I'm thankful for straightforwardness.

I'm grateful for serendipitous meet-ups--just tonight at a gathering, my husband saw some old family friends he hadn't seen in almost 20 years. And oddly enough, so did I. Very out-of-the-blue, but lovely.

I'm thankful for editing. I love going back over writing--usually poetry, but generally anything I've written--and fine-tuning it, taking out words. I tend to be a bit chatty on the rough draft. You hadn't noticed? How kind. 

I'm grateful to husband for all his thoughtful ways, even with his plate full-to-overflowing lately.

I saw a video this week I just had to share. My mom's cousin Jeanne forwarded it to me and it's just a precious example of what is possible with the belief that one person CAN make a difference. Touched my heart, totally.

I'm thankful for memories, happy ones and sad. Can you imagine not having any memories at all? I wouldn't enjoy that. And, it seems, the sad memories make the happy ones all that much more sweet.

I'm grateful for my friends. From near to far, close to more occasional, I am thankful for them all. Those cats above? Sometimes I'm the one on the bottom, sometimes I'm the one on the top. That's what I love about friends.

I haven't thrown in a gratuitous rainbow image in awhile, have I? Well, let that trend stop right now. Rainbows for everyone! Here's another, just to make up for lost rainbows.

Happy weekend. You are loved. xo

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday 13: Here I am now, entertain me

There a many, many places to waste time online, 'tis true. But as with everything, some are more worthy of time-wasting than others. 

Here are 13 places I go when I just want to get away, have a little laugh, and be entertained. And sometimes, even learn a little. I don't have to visit these every day, by any means... just haul them out every once in awhile to amuse and distract me.

These are somewhat in order of favorite...

1. Quote Book. It's inherited, I guess, this quote thing. And I can't claim to like every quote that comes my way, but browsing through this collection, I always find a few to tuck away for future reference. Some are represented as straight text, some as art/word combos. Oh joy!
2. Twitter. I know I've referenced Twitter before, many times. I love it more now than I ever have, and find good information as well as entertainment. It's all in who you follow, truly.

3. Today's BIG Thing. Viral videos, delivered daily. Usually amusing.

4. The Laugh Button. Also amusing.

5. Tastespotting. This aggregate site is full of good food ideas. I can sit and drool for hours. It leads to some really great food blogs, too. Yum.

6. Etsy. I could get lost in Etsy, for hours. So many great sites, great products, great artists. I even did a Thursday 13 about 13 of my favorite Etsy shops a while back. Happy shopping!

7. Good. Some really good (ha ha) articles here. From pieces like Overcoming the Cult of Leadership to pondering the value of Jamie Oliver's TV show, there's always something worthwhile to read.

8.  MamaPop. OK, so this one is a little light and fluffy. But there are some pretty funny posts about all things pop-culture related; I  have particularly enjoyed posts in the past relating the The Bachelor franchise (nice and irreverent). There's also a MamaPop community called Sparkle Motion. How cool is that?

9. Top Cultured. This site covers really important topics like the 10 actors who ruined movies and 20 homemade things that shouldn't be homemade. You know, really critical issues.

10. Bored Panda. Lots of fun tidbits and collections on this site.

Check out this video of a rainbow book. It's very cool!

But there are lots of other entertaining posts, like this one of pencil sculptures.

Bored Panda also gives time to some other unique topics, like high-speed water photographs, hyper-realistic sculptures, and even flags of various countries made out of food. Wild stuff!

11. Failbooking. This one isn't for kids (language). It's Facebook gone wrong. Hilarious. The stupidity of humans, on display.

12. Indexed. I love the way this site thinks!

13. Graph Jam. Very much like Indexed, this site graphs the silly and mundane.

What fun sites do you visit? Let me know! I'm always up for another to add to the RSS feed list!

Happy TT. For other Thursday 13 followers, go here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One word meme

Grabbed this from slow panic. How's that for a cool blog name? Some days, eh?

Each question must be answered with one word. We'll see about that. One word is not my strong suit.

Your cell phone? iPhone

Your hair? long

Your mother? patient

Your father? artistic

Your favorite food? figs

Your dream last night? bizzare

Your favorite drink? coffee

Your music? eclectic

Your dream/goal? heaven

What room are you in? bedroom

Your hobby? plethora

Your fear? loneliness

Where do you want to be in 6 years? here

Where were you last night? bed

Something that you aren’t? finished

Muffins? bran

Wish list item? peace

Where did you grow up? Canada

Last thing you did? Band-Aid

What are you wearing? jammies

Your TV? off

Your pets? quiet

Friends? plentiful

Your life? busy

Your mood? restless

Missing someone? no

Vehicle? insight

Something you’re not wearing? makeup

You? happy

Your favorite store? etsy

Your favorite color? green

When was the last time you laughed? tonight

Last time you cried? recently

Your best friend? yes

One place that you go to over and over? kitchen

Facebook? yup

Favorite place to eat? outside

Have at it. I'd love to see your stab at this on your own blog, or in the comments!

Best banana bread. EVER.

I have made banana bread for years, and generally the same recipe too... a very serviceable set of ingredients as laid out by Fanny Farmer. And then I started to experiment a bit, with almond flour. I really enjoyed that first loaf, which split the almonds and wheat flour about 50/50.

But the bold statement laid out in the headline above was made possible by the desire to go even further down the path toward gluten free... I swear you will have no idea this bread is gluten free. It doesn't have the heaviness and chewiness that I often associate with gluten-free baked goods. It's moist and yummy and full of banana goodness, without being overwhelmed by the nuts.

Best banana bread
4 ripe bananas
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of ground almonds (run blanched almonds in the food processor until they are truly mealy)
1 cup Namaste muffin mix (pretty widely available in the baking section at grocery stores these days)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven until 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas and add the eggs and vanilla. Mix up the dry ingredients and add all at once to the wet. Stir until well mixed. Pour into a bread loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a knife or wooden skewer inserted in the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then invert loaf out of pan and cool completely on a baking rack.

I wasn't prepared for how much I enjoyed this bread! It's really moist (I already said that, didn't I?), which is what I like in banana breads--some of which taste more like banana cake--I have when out and about at Starbucks, on the ferry to Mayne Island, etc. But the nutritional value of those breads tend to leave a lot to be desired. While the fat content is pretty  high due to the nuts, it's important for me to remember that it's the good fat, right?

Off to have another slice with my coffee...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bits of My Weekend: Volume 8

What a glorious weekend, in every sense of the word... glorious to have family visiting, and glorious in weather! Lovely lovely.

Lovely Lucy and her adorable grin.

Sweet Maizy enjoying the hot tub!

Kim brought me another bunny to keep my carrot bunny company. Am I a bunny nut? Perhaps. No apologies there. Does the table still look set for Easter? So shoot me.

One of our orchids eeking out a bloom... I think I need to fertilize more; the first year there were three blooms, the second year only two... now we're down to one. Still one very beautiful bloom.

Ruby out for a trot.

So on Saturday afternoon there was a party... a surprise party for an uncle, turning 80. A very fit, active and healthy 80! It was fun to pull off the surprise with my cousin Doug and his wife Suzan, for Uncle Merritt and Aunt Dolores.

Aunt Dolores and Mom catching up. 

Mom, Kim and I, posing dutifully.

Apparently it takes a village to light 80 candles! I only scorched a few fingertips...

Uncle Merritt enjoying the bounty of three cakes!

Mom (and Dad, taking pictures) out for a walk.

 Pedicures for the ladies on Sunday morning. Nothing like warm sun on your feet! (And Maizy even got a flower on her big toes!)

And there was food too.. Lots and lots of food. But I am going to save those pictures for actual food posts, so stay tuned. I know I tease sometimes and never come back to the food once it's in our bellies and gone, but this time I swear it's different. Really.

And many thanks to Ma and Pa for letting me scam your photo cards. Very helpful! 
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