Monday, May 31, 2010

Bits of My Weekend: Volume 14

The weekend's not quite over, but I'm going to blog about the biggest chunk of it, my all-girl time on Whidbey Island. A dear friend is getting married in August, so this was our pre-function function. And what a good time was had by all, truly. Pouring rain? Who cares. Eleven ladies, chatty types all, from different times and places in the bride's life... in a big old house on the water... fabulous.

This was the view out the kitchen window. Love that barn!

The house, called Marty's Place. A lovely home with lots of nooks and crannies for eating, talking, watching movies...

The weekend was all about love. And Kate. And Tony (the groom), even though he never made an appearance other than some sweet cards for Kate and a little good-natured question answering for a non-game we played.

Wet wet wet.

The first night, I got in late (plane issues, long story), after dinner. Luckily they left me some of Megan's amazing lasagna, which I had been looking forward to all day! We all sat around chatting and telling stories about when we first met the bride... there were some pretty humorous tales shared. We finally all shuffled off to bed around 2 a.m. (I haven't been up that late in a long time!)

Heather, the early riser, was up and making breakfast the next morning--after a quick run to town for coffee!

 She whipped up Dutch Babies. I have been meaning to try these, and she made it look really quick and easy. They were delicious! I think my favorite was with lemon and powered sugar. Yum.

Even though it was raining, we ventured out to town, where the color compelled me to take pictures.

We all went glass-blowing in the old fire station.

I got into the action, making husband a paperweight.

And admired all the fun yard ornaments available to purchase...

 Sabrina, who organized the weekend (and did a great job at it!), got into the glass blowing too.

All the glittery colors we could use to make our glass pieces. I went with blue (for husband), not green. Aren't you proud of me?

The bride-to-be's pretty red shoes.

A little wandering took us to a small market, with tiny zucchini. Tiny, expensive zucchini.

And very precious morels, as well.

Megan and Danielle posing dutifully.

A massive climbing hydrangea. So pretty. Must be the excess rain that makes everything grow so big on the island!

Saturday night I made dinner for the group; I dug out some old favorites of roast tenderloin with port sauce, ricotta gnocchi with corn and basil cream sauce and some roasted portabello mushrooms, roasted asparagus and green salad with berries, hazelnuts and chevre. I didn't take any pictures that turned out particularly well, but our tummies were quite happy as we followed dinner up with cupcakes from Wink Cupcakes and Trophy Cupcakes, as well as a cake styled after Kate and Tony's save-the-date card, and Whidbey Island ice creams (cardamom rocked!). No shortage of wonderful eats!

After dinner we did some showering of the bride, complete with bows and tiaras from the wrapping.

 Laura and Natasha, sensing the camera is out again...

Maggie, Simona (Kate's soon-to-deliver sister-in-law) and Jenn, watching the present-opening action.

The next morning was less rainy, so I went out looking to see what was blooming. The rhododenron bushes over the neighbor's fence were huge! Like trees, I swear.

 Kate and her childhood friend, Natasha. We got some good stories from Natasha... Fun to meet someone who knew Kate way back when!

The Walla Walla contingent (we still count Kate among us!) flashing our "W" gang signs. That pink shirt makes me look slightly pregnant--no, I'm not. Just clarifying. May edit that outfit in the future...

Megan and I drove home Sunday afternoon, after stopping for an appropriate matinee in Seattle--Sex in the City 2! The whole weekend was a blast--fabulous to have met some lovely ladies, made some new friends and shared in this event for Kate! I'm honored to have been a part of it. 

And now, so glad to get an extra day with husband before the work week piles on again!

You can play along with Bits of My Weekend over at Michelle's Six in the City blog.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday night grateful moment

Disclaimer: Here goes my first attempt at blogging from my iPad. I don't reckon it's going to be particularly purty, but one way or the other, it's gonna happen! I started a draft last night, fiddled around this morning, and am now stranded (don't you like how dramatic that sounds? It's not that dramatic... something mechanical, with the promise of quick resolution... We'll see about that!) in Tri-Cities, on my way to a lovely girl weekend on Whidbey Island. That's the plan, anyway...

Here goes! Since I can't figure out complete navigation in Blogger on the iPad, I can't get all the way down to the bottom to add my customary wish for YOUR weekend to bring rest, relaxation and all good things your way... So we'll just start off with that sentiment: Peace, people. May you feel it in your marrow.

Now back to previously programmed gratitude:

Oh joy, oh bliss, it's Friday. This Friday is extra-special--it comes on the heels of a pretty big week of this and that, and leads into a time of relaxation and joy. Oh wait, that's kinda like every Friday around here, right? Sorta. Except for...

I am very grateful I got to be a part of Seth's field trip this week. And, that he was cool with my helping out, still. It was fun to see kids who were part of his Explorer (gifted ed) class in elementary school who are now at the other local middle school--they've grown! I know this isn't news, but still. And the energetic fire-crackery ones? Yep, they still are. What a hoot.

I'm grateful I had enough food to go around. I had a hard time visualizing how much 75 growing 13- and 14-year-olds would eat. And they ate a lot. The first day, when a few of them came back for thirds on lasagna, I kinda had a moment of fright. But it's all good, I don't think any of them will starve any time soon!

I'm grateful for the rain. It helps me feel less guilty about not having time for the weeds (there's one spot where they are quite tall, and getting taller!). Next week it will be high time for a little weeding, if the weather cooperates...

I'm grateful for warm feet under the covers. (Not mine, usually.) Remember that kid thing where you'd finish every sentence "under the covers" and just chortle? Ha. Maybe I'll do a grateful list sometime along those lines. Can you tell I've been hanging out with middle schoolers?!

I'm grateful my back is indeed back to 100%. And in general, health is well around here. That is never to be underestimated.

I'm grateful for all of my senses. Couldn't do without a one.

I'm grateful for the weekend ahead. Relaxation in a beautiful setting, with lovely ladies--some I know, some I will get to know better, some I will meet for the first time. We're all gathering to celebrate a mutual friend's Big Day coming up in August. Pretty swell.

I'm grateful for my iPad. My men spoiled and surprised me with a little late Mother's Day present. It's a blast. Completely unnecessary to my daily existence, but a blast. And yes, Pa, I have been drinking the Kool-Aid that I often accuse Apple fanatics of drinking. What can I say? Husband found this video online and I think it's a hoot. Of course, not all of these things should be tried at home, but how fun to imagine the possibilities....

iPad + Velcro from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mid-week reminder

This has been a crazy week already and it's only Wednesday! Ah well. Blogging is kind of put to the wayside, as are most other things NOT field trip related...

But I'm always in the mood to be reminded:

Here's to Friday comin' up fast!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bits of My Weekend: Volume 13

This one's getting posted Sunday night! The week coming up promises to be full-to-overflowing, so I'm going to grab this moment while I've got it.

A pretty "usual" weekend for the times when it's just the two of us... but maybe a bit more mellow as I was recovering from my wrenched little back. OK, so you've heard enough about that. I get it. It's all better now. Happy? Yeah, me too.

As you can see, things have been growing and greening up, even without a lot of sunshine this week...

Not quite picnic weather, but we soldiered on anyway--had our first potato salad of the season, first hot dogs. Quite lovely.

Husband called his aunt in North Carolina to wish her a happy birthday while I sat in our living room and snapped pictures. Very active, yes indeed. This is one of my favorite pillows, with all kinds of Canada stuff on it.

And part of our glassybaby collection... these ones were at our wedding reception. Fond memories.

Every once in awhile I contemplate playing this colorful version of sudoku, but then I think, why mess up the pretty little marbles? This is NOT how the game is supposed to look...

What would a weekend catch-up be without a look at what's blooming? The clematis has burst into color this week!

And the peonies are pretty much all open now. So beautiful and such a short season. Sigh.

The English roses have started to bloom. These are my favorites.

And the mock orange that I moved last year is doing pretty well in its new location, though I often forget to water it...

How stunning is this picture of Ruby? By stunning, I mean still. This is a rare sight indeed. Gives me hope for the future. Calm dog? Maybe...

Sunday we went over to the Tri-Cities and of course has to wander Barnes and Noble... I am always struck by how very many cookbooks there are, and how many end up in the cheap-o book-o section. I am proud to say I didn't buy any new cookbooks! That's an achievement, eh?

I had to laugh at this book. If you need to buy this book, I think it's a sign. It's also a sign that it's in the bargain section...

We went to Target too, and I was looking for a belated birthday card for a girlfriend, and saw this section. I did not know there was a section for "after a difficult year." What a hoot. I think the section should be bigger, though. I think there was only one or two cards there, and I know more than one or two people who could use these cards, sadly (and I've been one of them too)! But it was worth a chuckle.

It was a good weekend. Best of all, it felt like a weekend--rest and recovery from the week, and energy to start the new one! It promises to be a full one for everyone in our house, so wish us luck and off we go...

For more Weekend Bits, go here. Michelle has been doing this for 13 weeks now, and I am happy to have joined from the very first week. Started on a whim, now it's practically tradition! You could start too, you know...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Remembering: NYC trip June 2005

Five years ago, Seth and I took a trip to NYC. Just the two of us, we hit the spots I'd always wanted to show him once he was a bit older (there were quite a few trips when he was a baby and toddler). And a few food joints I always like to check out too. Naturally.

Today I was fiddling around with Picasa, and found an old folder with these pictures in them. I was struck by how sweet and innocent Seth looks, and it brought back many happy memories of the trip.

Clockwise from upper left: Police/security at Ground Zero, seals at Central Park Zoo, Seth in front of a 'wichcraft kiosk that was soon to open, rowing at the Pond in Central Park, the subway, us at the Statue of Liberty, Seth walking the Brooklyn Bridge, the Pond again, and Seth chuggin' water to stay cool. And of course, in the middle it's us. I remember remarking to myself a couple of times on that trip that God had given me exactly the right child for me. He might not be perfect for other parents, but to me he's generally been easy to understand and get along with, and if moments of annoyance come, they also pass pretty quickly. (Remind me of this the next couple of years, OK? We're just hiking down the trail to 14...)

Anyway, it was really an ideal trip. When I tried to broach the idea of an NYC trip again a couple of years ago, he poo-pooed the idea; we'd already done it, in his eyes, and this time he was worried about crime. Who knows where that came from.

We've had plenty of great family trips since then, but this one stands out to me as special since it was the last one we had with me as a single mom (husband-to-be [at the time] got us a-mazing plane tickets and we felt spoiled entirely), and it was to one of my favorite destinations EVER. I made him eat at 'wichcraft, we got supplies at Dean&DeLuca, had brunch at Sarabeth's... the one thing I don't think I inflicted on him was the French Culinary Institute, which is one of my all-time musts. But we did see Stomp and the Museum of Natural History too, and he had his first Indian meal. Oh the joys. Thanks for meandering down memory lane with me.

P.S. By all means check out Picasa. A pretty cool photo tool, but you probably already know all about it. It's a Google tool. Need I say more?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday night grateful moment

What a quick week. Feels like I was just sitting here writing this list last night--not a whole week ago. And knowing that next week will whooooosh by as well... yikes. It's a good time to pause and be thankful. [Insert deep breath.]

I am very thankful that my back pain has dissipated substantially. I'm not 100%, but much, much improved. A good night's sleep helped too, and I'm sure I'll be that much better after another full night of dreamin'.

I'm thankful for a sense of humor, even when I'm in the fetal position on the basement floor wondering how I'm going to get up and to the bathroom. I AM glad, though, that there aren't any hidden cameras in the basement, as my mother suggested might be a good (funny) idea. Um, no.

I'm thankful for my hot pad. I was looking at that old thing, realizing I think I've had it since college, at least. Could even be my childhood hot pad has followed me through the decades. I love that thing.

I'm grateful for the kind of life and schedule that allows for time with my mother-in-law, time with my husband, time with my son, time with friends. Time is such a wonderful thing, so slippery at times, but such a gift.

I'm so thankful that people have people. When there are sad times or times when a little extra support is needed, networks and communities (close friends or just acquaintances) step in to fill the gaps. That's a very good thing. I see examples every day where people reach out to others and it warms my heart. (Isn't that friendship cloth above a great idea? I might give that a try some Christmas, or Easter, or family reunion-time...)  

I'm grateful to have people. Very.

I'm thankful for clever ideas and a wonderful access to them. Aren't these colorful chocolate spoons so much fun? I think the idea is to stir these in your cocoa? Or milk to make cocoa? Or just to have like lollipops? Any way you want them. Yum.

I'm grateful for soft socks that keep my feet warm. Spa socks, we call them around here. Last few nights they have been helpful!

I'm grateful for IM technology, and little chats with my boy. Texts are pretty great too. The sweet "hope your back is better" texts... I'm sure they helped in the healing. I KNOW they helped in the healing.

I'm grateful for husband and his thoughtful ways.

I'm grateful for fertilizer that take the less-green parts of the lawn and blends them with the overly-green parts of the lawn so it all looks a little more, you know, green.

And the rain! I'm grateful for the rain. I won't be grateful for the weeds when the wet dissipates, but I am thankful for the moisture. Even when it was coming down as hail, ever so briefly, yesterday. (Don't you just love that piggy in boots? That's how I feel in the yard right now!)

And, of course, I'm thankful for music. Every. Single. Day. This particular video goes out to Seth, who thinks Rick Rolling is rather hilarious. Who knew a one-hit wonder from my youth would come to be a cult-hit from his? Makes me laugh.

And for words. Check out Bill Murray reading poetry to the construction workers at The Poet's House as it was being built in Battery Park, NYC. The looks on their faces... priceless!

And for sweet puppies I am always grateful. I have always had a weak spot for corgis, too...

I'm grateful for the weekend to have arrived exactly when it did, for the rest and relaxation it will bring so that we can go zoom zoom into another week. 

May you have pause before zoom zoom too! Peace.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday 13: Random day, with a side of back pain

One of those weeks... many things in the drafts folder, too tired to focus on any of them...

1. I got some kind of back spasm yesterday, late in the day, and it continued all night long. Very little sleep, no good position. Don't you like it when random lists start out with the bad stuff? Ugh.

2. The storm last night has turned to beautiful blue skies this morning. Lovely.

3. The hot pad on my back is my favorite thing right now.

4. Now that husband has gone to work I wonder who will fetch me things? I think I need a manservant.

5. I traced my back spasm back to an "almost fall" on the stairs, you know where you catch yourself before landing flat on your face? Didn't hurt a lot at the time, but wow did it get a little out of control there in the middle of the night.

6. Are you ready for me to stop talking about my back yet? Just one more thing. I thought laying on the floor might be good, something flat and firm, right? Just in case you decide to try that at some point, I'll fill you in. Getting down to the floor is not so bad. Getting up and OFF the floor? Much, much harder.

7. Next week is a big field trip for Seth's class and I'm helping out with stuff--food, chaperones, etc. Of course in the middle of the night I envisioned trying to do all these things from a wheelchair. Silly girl. I also found myself completely dumbfounded that we don't stock muscle relaxants in the house. The idea of actually getting up and going to find a doctor/hospital just seemed so superfluous at 3 a.m. I know what I have, I know what I need, where are my pharmaceutical aids?

8. Modern Family is the funniest show I know right now. I laugh so much while watching them. And, I like them all, mostly. That one teenage girl and her boyfriend, not so much. But the rest, especially Mitchell (how about that bird chasing scene last night?) and Cameron. They slay me.

9. The garden looks really good this morning in spite of the storm. And the lawn too--I just finished mowing before it went nuts out there. Everything got a good soaking, but we're supposed to get really cold again tonight... I am really ready for spring to be SPRING. For more than 15 minutes at a time. Can you arrange that?

10. I am not a huge baseball fan. This may be shocking news to some of you, but it's true. Just never got into it. I will go to a game, of course, but that's mostly about the food and the company. All that is to say that Seth not being involved in Little League is just fine with me. Little League is in full swing right now and having to sit through games while they decide if thunderstorms are just passing through or here to stay... not my idea of a good time.

11. I started listening to The Help last night while trying to fall asleep. I think I am going to like it, but I'm definitely going to need to start over. Lots of dozing, listening, dozing, listening.

12. I started a new book because I just finished listening to The Politician yesterday. That's the book Andrew Young wrote about John Edwards... I know, really classy reading, Sher. Whatever. Here's the CliffsNotes version: Rielle Hunter is a new age nutjob, John Edwards is a narcissistic twit, Elizabeth Edwards is a controlling harpie and Andrew Young is just a fool, plain and simple, for getting sucked in. AT. ALL. I mean, really? I know the slope is very slippery, blah blah blah, but when you're getting cell phones for your boss and his mistress and hanging out drinking with them behind the wife's back, you're just one step away from claiming the baby is really yours. Well, that's probably a stretch, but the crazy chain of events that took place could really all have been avoided by Andrew Young saying, "No." Just once. Set a boundary, dude.  By the time he finally did, it was all over for everyone. But, frankly, it was a big favor to all of us. John Edwards as president? He was never on my short list.

13. I have a great deal of faith that this back thing will be short lived. Just had to end on an up note. A little heat, a little TV marathoning today, and all will be well. Knock on wood. Just don't touch my back!

For other Thursday 13s, go here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Future files: Artichoke hearts, fried

Quite a rare thing happened the other day: I had leftover FRESH artichoke hearts in the house. By rare I mean it's never happened before. Usually what happens is that I scarf the whole thing--leaves, heart and all--in one fell swoop. That's just how I roll.

 But the other night I had a four-pack of small artichokes from Costco that were languishing in the back of the fridge and I thought, finally, I'll roast 'em up (since discovering the flavor of roasted artichokes, I don't think I'm ever going back). I made it through quite a few leaves but was slowing down as I approached the hearts and in rare (again: never) fit of sensibility, I thought I'd tuck them away for a future lunch or dinner and figure out something spectacular to do with them. (If this whole paragraph seems really "I" centric, it's because artichokes are a solo experience around here. Weird looks from the boys, no takers here. Just didn't want you thinking I actually KEEP the artichokes from them.)

The tucking away happened. The spectacular, not so much. I did my usual Google search and came up with plenty of things to do to jarred or canned artichoke hearts... not really what I was looking for. So I just ate them. Yep. Just like that. And they were good, don't get me wrong. But. Take. A. Look. At. These. Babies. Yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about. Tick tock, the future's coming...

Artichoke Hearts from food52
2 globe artichokes, preferable with some stalk.
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1 cup dry bread crumbs

Prepare the artichokes: Peel all the leaves off the choke. Peel the stalk and with a paring knife neatly trim the bottom where you removed the leaves.

Cut the trimmed artichokes in half vertically and with a spoon remove the hairy choke. Be careful when cutting in half to evenly cut the stem, too.

Rub immediately with lemon juice so the artichoke doesn't get brown (which happens very quickly!). Steam the hearts until tender. Time will vary depending on the size of the hearts (about 15 minutes).

Dip each artichoke half into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Fry in the olive oil over medium heat until golden. Set on paper towels to absorb the oil.

Creamy Cumin-Lime Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
Finely grated zest of a lime
Juice of a lime

Mix all the ingredients together, adding salt to taste. Serve the golden hearts warm with the creamy dipping sauce.

I'm still a little freaked that this recipe came along about 24 hours after I needed it--it's like the internet knew what I was looking for and sent it to me! Maybe it couldn't quite anticipate my needs, but still, that's pretty quick, don't you think? And I think it won't be very long until I find myself with some hearts on my hands, too!
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