Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

I am so grateful to be home, cozy with my husband. I have been away for a couple of brief days, and returning home in the sunset tonight, I felt most blessed. And tired. I'm thankful for my husband, too; he works so hard for our family, taking care of us.

My girlfriend Kate and I had a fun time last night; first a wonderful dinner out at a new-ish Seattle spot, The Book Bindery. At 2 a.m. we arose to watch the royal wedding, and it wasn't any difficulty at all staying awake... until they left for Buckingham Palace, whereupon I promptly dozed until they came out on the balcony to kiss... I only saw one kiss, so that tells you where I was at--snoozing! I'm grateful for Kate, to be sure (my Kate, not Wills' Kate!); for all our many years of visits and chats and sharing... we've walked the streets of Walla Walla and the streets of NYC, talking and talking and talking. Never any shortage there. Tiaras and tea in the middle of the night, that's new ground for us, for sure!

This one is going to sound odd, but it's true: I'm grateful we didn't pursue going to London for the Big Event. Husband offered... I did some half-hearted looking around at hotels and airfare a few months back and then lost steam on it... lots of reasons, but as I watched the crowds (1 million estimated along the route, holy cow!) I knew that I had the best view possible for me, cozy on a sofa with a friend. I would not be good camped out in a tent for days in advance, and then only seeing brief glimpses as they whisk by. I loved the camera views of the inside of the abbey, and BBCAmerica had really nice, minimal-commentary coverage. (I listened to some of the CNN coverage on XM on my way home tonight from Seattle, and Piers Morgan drives me nuts. I couldn't have handled that chat chat chat at 2 in the morning. No thanks.)

I'm grateful for a smooth, safe trip. Yesterday there were a ton of police on the roads as I headed over to Seattle--all on the other side of the road! Today there were far fewer... thankfully. But I literally cruised on home, listening to XM all the way. (My brain is a muddle of royal wedding hoo-ha, Dr. Laura, Laura Berman (!), Rosie O'Donnell, Gayle King and the comedy channel. I think I need a brain flush.)

I'm thankful that I have the good sense not to dress like Prince Andrew's daughters. OK, that sounds awfully snotty, but really... wow. What were they thinking? There are so many nice outfits in the world... I think it would have looked even worse, but for the Easter egg yellow glare off the Queen's outfit. (They were sitting directly behind her.) Thankfully, the Duchess of Cambridge seems to have enough good taste for all the rest of the Duke's family, eh?!

I'm thankful for my son, for our communication and affection. I am a lucky mom.

I'm grateful for opportunities to stretch my brain, and the opportunity to work on challenging projects. My Seattle time was fun in that way, reporting on a project we've been noodling on for a nonprofit I volunteer with. Feels good to get things checked off the list! Now on to other projects... there are always more in the pipeline.

I'm grateful for spring, even though it feels so slow in coming. I drove through snowflakes yesterday on the pass. Snowflakes! On April 28? Snowflakes? Crazy.

I'm grateful for spring eating--asparagus! baby potatoes! little lettuces! I am so looking forward to summer eating too, but that seems so far off, with this silly cold weather.

 I'm grateful for color. I felt like the mother ship was calling me home yesterday afternoon in University Village... glassybaby... color... so pretty. (I was very good and just took pictures. Truly good.)

I'm grateful for love; especially for those taking a second spin around. A friend got married tonight in Oregon (I swear they set their date before those silly royals), and Jen is posting updates to FB and texting me happy pictures of the evening. It's lovely to see, even from afar, and reminds me of our little event 5+ years ago... love is grand.

I am always grateful for cheese, as you know. And I will do a post about The Book Bindery, probably... but I can't resist showing you this amazing cheese plate Kate and I split last night. Yum.

I'm thankful for the weekend, to rest and gather ourselves before another week. I plan to do just that!

Hope your weekend is peaceful.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday 13: More royal wedding tidbits...

I'm a little late to all this royal wedding hoopla, I do realize, but I can't help but get in on one more post before the Big Day. While my own little collection is just that--little--I have gotten an increasing number of emails and blog feeds with a focus on the wedding of the century (well, decade, anyway...).

So here are 13 royal wedding "things:" links, items, videos, recipes, and general good Windsor fun!

1. I personally would not be holding out for Harry (too party boy for me), but this poster looks fun.

2. A few cute cups to sip (cold) tea from? That sounds lovely, thanks.

3. This hilarious video has some royal lookalikes that REALLY look alike. Wills and Kate, tho, not so much...

4. Check out this processional map in case you're needing help getting to the church on time:

Processional Map of Royal Wedding contemporary artwork

5. And how about this royal wedding mug--$72! I think I'll stick with my cheap-o mugs, thanks (but it is indeed cute).

Royal Wedding Commemorative Mug eclectic dinnerware

6. Commemorative tea towels are a must:

Cath Kidston Royal Wedding Souvenir Tea Towel traditional dishtowels

Linen Union Tea Towel traditional dishtowels

7. And if you need something more lasting and substantial, there's always this frameable print:

William and Kate Royal Wedding print  artwork

8. A little bunting for your tea party sleepover the night of the wedding:

Rustic Royal Wedding Bunting  kids decor

9. And a few plates to eat scones and curd and cream from:

Will & Kate Forever by Jonathan Adler  dinnerware

It Should Have Been Me Plate  dinnerware
dinnerware design by

10. Prince William's request to have a specific kind of cake (a second cake!) at the wedding breakfast--tea biscuits and dark chocolate: chilled, not baked--has created quite a bit of buzz:
--Daily Mail.
--The Telegraph.
It's not the most attractive cake... none of the news articles had an image of it with the recipe. I finally found a couple of images on a Canadian blog: Sense and Simplicity, where they had taste-tested the cake over Easter weekend. It looks rich!

11. Here's one ring to sink your teeth in to: the royal jewels in sugar!

12. And iambaker decided to make a royal wedding cake... for all the other people getting married on April 29! Those poor folks who are having their day swallowed up in royal hoopla... (Personally, I think it would be rather fun. Great way to remember your anniversary, right? And it's not like you are fighting over guests or some such nonsense! Though, you might have guests fall asleep at your wedding because they were up all night watching someone else's... can you tell I've thought about this too long?!) Anyway, this cake is pretty! I'd take one of these any day, not just on a wedding day!

13. Rather than cold feet, these two are in hot water! Ha.

Can you imagine having your image plastered everywhere? No thanks. I think Miss Kate has done a splendid job dealing with all the uproar the past few months, and I hope she and Wills have a day they can think back on with joy, but are able to move on with their lives in the quiet manner they seem to appreciate.

So, which item is on your must-have list? I'm a tea towel freak myself, but that Harry poster keeps calling to me...

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mid-week reminder: My whole nature leaps back to the toys

I opened up my A Year With C.S. Lewis yesterday morning, smack to a page that I just had to share. The structure of putting it into a poem is my particular little genius (ha!)...

My own experience is something like this. I am progressing
along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen
and godless condition, absorbed in the merry meeting
with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work
that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book,
when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease,
or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us
all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down.

At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses
look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly,
bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind
that I should be in at all times. I remind myself
that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart,
that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure
is Christ. And perhaps, by God's grace, I succeed,
and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God
and drawing its strength from the right sources.
But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature
leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me,
to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me
under the threat because it is now associated with the misery
of those few days.

Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation
is only too clear. God has had me for but forty-eight hours
and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me.
Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy
when the hated bath is over--I shake myself as dry as I can
and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness,
if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed.

And that is why tribulations cannot cease
until God either sees us remade or sees
that our remaking is now hopeless.

-from The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis

Bless you, dear Clive. I really wish I had known you. You certainly wrote as if you know me.

And in alignment with these thoughts, a video crossed my path as well. It's not very long (in the TED world, at least), and he makes some thoughtful points:

Such a great reminder to live well, choose happiness and give up the need to be right. Oh, and that parenting thing too, definitely that. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My wee royal wedding collection

While I don't consider myself a complete nut for all things royal, there are probably those who would disagree...

I have been known to buy tabloid magazines (People, etc., not the wild stuff like The Star or The Inquirer!) with the rationalization that a royal figure is on the cover, and my love for all things Princess Diana has been well-known for many years... And I did, after all, stand in the rain for hours in 1986 for the chance to see her come to Kelowna, B.C. (during the Expo '86 tour of Chuck&Di), and just happened to get to shake her hand, and then of course didn't wash said hand for ages. As in, weeks. And I do remember exactly where I was (at a party) in 1997 when I heard she'd been in an accident, and I went home that night fully expecting to hear that she was fine, just in the hospital, and sat glued to the telly all during the funeral... Yep, just your average, run-of-the-mill royal freak...

So, of course, it was with a little bit of joy that I anticipated Prince William's engagement and soon-to-happen wedding to the lovely Kate Middleton. And, in addition to the requisite magazines (no books yet...) and commemorative publications, I have indulged (and been indulged with) a few little pieces of memorabilia.

I thought I would share...

My dear friend Laura went with her family to London for spring break and brought me back this mug (with appropriate tea, too!). I love how official it looks. Thank you so much for kicking off my royal wedding season, Laura!

I spotted a little ceramic company online and HAD to get this mug. It just arrived yesterday and I LOVE it. It feels all delicate and fine-china-y too, which you know means I will break it in about a week or so... nuts. I really hope not.

Lastly, here's my nod to the tea towel. I found this little gem at a shop on Etsy, of course.

Remember the famous saying (but can't remember WHO said it, I think maybe her sister Sarah?), when Di wanted to back out of the wedding and she was told she couldn't, because her face was on the tea towels? Yeah, not a great thing to think back on when remembering your wedding. Sad beginnings... sad ending too.

But enough of sadness. This is going to be one happy, happy wedding, I can feel it. And you can see it, watching those two grown up people (no silly 19-year-old virgins here!) look forward to a life together. That girl Kate knows what she's in for, it seems, and kudos to her for still signing up. She must really love that boy Wills!

I'm looking forward to watching the hullabaloo, even though I know that will make me one sleep-deprived girl for my all-day meetings on Friday. Sigh. But some things are worth it. Try not to be too jealous of my tiny little royal wedding collection. (But I totally understand if you can't help it.)

Are you staying up to watch the royal wedding?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter brunch: Apple cake, or shall we have rhubarb?

This apple cake has a long, long history in our family. I can't remember when it was first discovered in an old family favorite cookbook, An Apple A Day, but I've made it more times over the decades than I can count.

With family headed into town this weekend, it seemed only right (well, and Shelby made mention of it...) to bust out an apple cake move or two... so Sunday morning for Easter brunch we did just that! And of course, just to mix things up, I made a rhubarb one as well, with a little different make-up: fruit on the bottom. Clever, that. And yummy too.

The original, though I went a little light on the apples. There's nowhere near 2 cups here...
sorry, Shelby!

Rhubarb variation: delicious and definitely a make-again!

The batter is adapted from the original sufficiently to have its own name!

Brunch fruit cake
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup quick rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup melted cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups apple, thinly sliced, or another fruit of your choice...

Combine the dry ingredients, mix well. Add butter, egg and milk, beat well. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan; stand apple slices in batter.

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup quick oats
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
Combine and sprinkle over top of the batter.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Rhubarb variation: Wash and chop 3 cups rhubarb (about a half dozen stalks). Toss with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and and 2/3 cup sugar. Put in the bottom of an 8-inch pan and spread the batter over the top. If desired, spread the topping over the batter and bake as directed above.

After a brunch of baked eggs, tater tots, cake(s), fruit and juice, it was time for a little egg hunting. Happily, a new-ish brood of bunnies was out in the yard, and welcomed us before scampering off to their safe zone (the junipers).

Here is Lucy, sneaking up on a wee baby bunny.

Maizy with her loot, and a little gray bunny from Aunty Sher.

There was quite a bit of happy cousin time on the trampoline.
Right now the girls are dominating, with grins!

And then there was bouncing, lots of bouncing. 

It was a lovely family weekend, with lots of sunshine, a pleasant walk through the Whitman Mission (in sunshine, no less!) more than a couple of naps, some rolicking Tudors time (for the adult ladies, late into the night), and even a little sunshine for the egg hunting... Thanks for making the trek over, Goerlitz Jrs., we enjoyed our time with you immensely.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

Oh, sweet weekend, why did it take you so long to get here? Now that you're here, I am oh-so-glad, especially since you bring a reminder of gratefulness (which I have been lacking a wee bit this week...).

So, dusting off my gratefulness, I see around me so much to be thankful for...

* I'm so very very thankful that we had sunshine today. It was a life-changer for me, for sure; much as I was enraptured by the hailstorm yesterday afternoon, and even a little bit by the snow in the mountains, I am ready to be done with the chill in the air. I think husband thought I'd taken a happy pill this morning, I practically bounded out of bed and was a bundle of energy from the word "go," and zoomed through the day quite happily. (See below. Yes, that pretty much sums up my day; up to the part of the shearing, that is...)

There are more clips on YouTube to finish off the story, if you feel the need.

Lucy's cupcake, gone in a flash!

* My family. Shelby and Kim and the girls are here for Easter, and that is always such a lovely thing, to have them with us. We have had our Friday night haystacks, and apple crisp and cupcakes for the girls, so we'll all sleep really well, I'm sure.

* I'm grateful for Skype, that we've been able to communicated with my mom and dad as they've been traveling hither and yon the past couple of weeks. I know it makes the time that they are apart from each other go more quickly too.

 Maizy decorated the cupcakes most beautifully! Recognize those cupcake toppers?

* I'm grateful that people who make gluten-free stuff keep working at it, getting better and better products. The cupcakes I made today were from a gluten-free mix, and they are quite good. I also found a well-reviewed flour online, and am going to put it to the test this weekend.

* I'm thankful for friendship. I'm blessed in buckets with some pretty amazing friends, that is true.

* I'm thankful for my boy. He's a keeper. If every year of teenagehood can be as good as 14, I'll take it (hope that's not jinxing anything...).

* And for husband too. Such a lucky girl am I.

* I'm thankful that there are a couple of restful days ahead. 

* I'm thankful for the nurseries being full of plants and getting us all excited about planting. It's Pavlovian, I swear.

* I'm so grateful for learning to let go of a peace that's not worth keeping.  It's an odd combination of needing to address certain things and let others go, and I am surprised that it's taking me so many years to accomplish the right sense of balance. I suppose I should be thankful for the baby steps, right?

* I'm thankful for Easter candy. And that there were still a few bags at the store when I went to replenish the chocolate I've been snarfing all week... I think the nieces will be grateful too, come Sunday morning!

* I'm thankful for the Easter story, and all that it represents in my life. It's beyond significant, to me.

My eyes are getting heavy, and I'm so looking forward to a fabulous night of sleep. I hope wherever you are, however you spend this weekend, it's filled with joy and love.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday 13: A very specific playlist

Can. Not. Believe.

There's snow in them thar hills. Again. Today.

I know, one word sentences can be annoying. I have no excuse. The. Situation. Is. Dire.

My only recourse seems to be somewhere between a) running away to warmer climes or b) sitting in the hot tub all day or c) hitting the tanning bed or... the most realistic option, d) listening to happy music that puts me in mind of warm and happy times.

So obviously my Thursday 13 this week are happy sunny songs. Some have been featured on Sweet Tea and Sunshine before, but you can deal with that, right? That just means they're. Really. Good.

1. I Was Made For Sunshine, The Weepies

2. Sunny Day, Kristiina Wheeler

3. Bright Sunny South, Alison Kraus + Union Station

4. Sunshine (I Can Fly), Raul Midon

5. Sunshine on My Shoulders, John Denver

6. Halo/Walking on Sunshine, Glee cast

7. Another Sunny Day, Belle & Sebastian

8. Sunny Sunday, Joni Mitchell

9. Running on Sunshine, Jesus Jackson

10. Bottle of Sunshine, Milkshake

11. Brighter Than Sunshine, Aqualung

12. The Sound of Sunshine, Michael Franti

13. Sunshine, Keane

Catching my drift?

This last round of pathetic weather has cemented in my brain that I will never live on the other side of the state, either Washington or Oregon. More power to you  (brave or insane, you decide) folks who can make it, but the moss growing between my toes is a big no-no. Not gonna happen. I think a little southwest desert action is in order.

I hope that wherever you are, it's a sunny day, (even if it's not).

Happy Thursday! For more Thursday 13 participants, go here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Midweek reminder: Spring *will* come

 And for those of you who feel like you have already arrived at spring, keep it to yourselves (she asks, politely). We are getting there, but it really feels like baby steps for April so far...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend info-roundup + new website addiction

A lovely weekend, it was. Spring has arrived to the extent that both husband and I think we're living in some lush amazing tropical land--it's green in all directions, with occasional blooms too... the daffodils, grape hyacinths, tulips, etc. If it would warm up a bit, I might actually believe summer's a'comin'... as it is, I poke my head out, the wind whips through and I retreat. (I know, toughen up, girly, eh?!)

So. I made a recent discovery that has become a quick addiction. But rather than just a time-suck (not pointing any fingers at you freaky Farmville people, really I'm not. Well, maybe a little...), this amazing site is something that could actually be helpful. The site is called Pinterest.

It took a few minutes for me to figure out, but it's a smashing way to bookmark ("pin") images, which will then lead you back to the web page that you "pinned" it from (if you want to go back and see what the image relates to--whether it's a recipe, creative venture, a cute outfit, interesting interior decor or just a beautiful picture of something in nature).

You create galleries ("boards") and re-pin pictures and then other people re-pin the picture and so you "meet" (but not really) other people with similar interests, so there's opportunity to find other blogs and sites and places with more information... yes, as I'm writing this I do realize how nutty it is to even want to find any new information in this absolutely information-overloaded world.

But it is what it is. The information is there, it all depends on how you want to receive it (or not), and, more importantly, how you want to filter it. Because I'm pretty sure, if you're anything like me, you're not looking for more information, just better, more-specific, and filtered, information. What I once thought Stumbleupon could do for me, I think Pinterest is more in line with. But it's early and I may change my mind on that one...

I envision Pinterest saving me time in the long run (I won't ever wonder "where did I see that?" and head off in search of an image or thing. If I've pinned it, it's there for all eternity, more or less, with a link back to the site I found it on. Sweet.). I probably won't always be as compulsive about running over to the site to see what's new, what's been pinned and re-pinned... I don't know how to find specific people, exactly, but I'm there under my name, so if you want to see what it's all about, click here.

Other than that bit of information (confession?) to divulge, I have been collecting little bits and pieces from around the web for a few weeks, as is my way... (which now makes me want to go and "pin" these pieces for future reference... hmm... see what I mean? Addictive! And helpful!)

In the DIY world, I found a fun little site--Petit Elefant--with a bunch of ideas worth checking out. Two that I found especially interesting:
* Homemade tortillas. Yum. I do enjoy these!
* Homemade sugar scrub. I've been wanting to experiment with homemade and natural/organic beauty products for a bit... this might be my entry...

Also in the DIY category are these posts for making your own crepe paper flowers and pom-pom branches. And in the completely practical category, how about making your own single-serving coffee bags? Wow. Strange as it may seem, I just might consider that.

I happened across a letterpress tutorial on a fun creative blog, How About Orange? I have one of these fun machines, but have dedicated precious little time to figuring it all out... so that post inspired me to move *that* up on the to-do list! Also from How About Orange?, a fun Pantone paint chip magnet project that I would love to play with! Actually, it's more the process than the actual magnets I'd like to play with... anything with glaze makes me want to get out the paint brush!

I made a happy food blog discovery recently, Kiss My Spatula. The photography is absolutely inspirational.

So no matter how much we hear about parental anxiety, and the need to take a chill pill with our kids, it appears that doesn't sink in. This article in the LATimes made a lot of sense to me.

For a good laugh, take a look at these fortune cookies that don't make sense!

I have had a serious owl crush lately--our very own Owen hoots to us most nights, and he hangs out really close to the house in the early evening (the bunny population is quite possibly decreasing, but I do love the owl...). Illustrations of owls really appeal to me, and lately it seems they are everywhere!



I have been following Wil Wheaton's blog--you may remember him from Stand By Me? Maybe you're more of a Star Trek: Next Generation person? Alas, my knowledge of Wil is mostly from The Big Bang Theory, where he plays himself, quite humorously. He wrote a post about River Phoenix; well, it's actually about a Stand By Me reunion, but it's also about Phoenix, and it's sweet without being sentimental, and I loved it. It made me want to rent Stand By Me for Seth, but I think he might be too old for it already, and that makes me sad.

I read an interesting article a while back about color and gender issues. It's amazing what we've convinced ourselves of, what's girly, what boys "should" like... crazy, really. It's color, people. How about we not take ourselves so seriously? My favorite graphic was the one below, with what guys call colors and what girls call colors...

Edible fashion accessories. Super cool post at Bored Panda featuring an artist who represents food as stuff... for some reason I pulled out only fruit purses to show you? Odd. There are all kinds of images if you click over there, really.

Bad review reaction by an author: I caught wind of this controversy a couple of weeks after it happened, and oh what a tempest in a teapot that little online scandal was (in the tiny subculture that created it, anyway)! Crazy amount of energy given toward an author who simply can't write (trust me, you'll agree if you read through the comments, and especially if you actually go to her web site, which I'm not going to actually link to for fear she'll head over here, claws out). I don't hold myself up to be a Writer McWriterson, but wow. Kind of sad for the self-publishing industry, but what can you do. The good thing about self-publishing and the bad thing about self-publishing is the same thing: anyone can do it.

I have been meaning to cook with quinoa for some time, and keep procrastinating. Will this be the week? The mystery, the drama! We'll see... the link I've posted, though, gave some very compelling reasons why I should be using quinoa EVERY week, for sure. Healthy healthy.

A lovely blog, Mighty Girl, called for readers to submit favorite childhood memories recently, and boy did she get some good ones. It was a true pleasure to read, and brought back some great memories to me in doing so.

I found a really clever crochet tutorial on how to join squares in a very "seamless" fashion. I will definitely give that a try... might even do it with my currently lap-blanket-of-many-colors...

And what blog post in April 2011 is complete without a little Royal Wedding hoopla? (Did you hear about Jerry Seinfeld bashing the "circus?" Hey Jerry, even if it's true, keep it to yourself!) Anyway, there's a book out about knitting your own Royal Wedding party, which, even in my little nutty crochet state, seems a bit much. And if that's not quite enough, there's a video to go along. Kitschy, to say the least.

OK, that wraps it up for now... happy reading. And if you wander over to Pinterest, say hi!
Blogger Template By Designer Blogs