Thursday, April 30, 2009

Small delights, Part 2

Keeping in the thread of small delights, I saw this sign on the way to work and couldn't help but laugh. I hope that Costco is off on a great adventure, and remembered to wear his ping pong ball helmet.

In other news, I am off to California tomorrow to meet my new niece. I'm sure I will have all sorts of cuteness to report. See you next week!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A multitude of small delights

"A multitude of small delights constitutes happiness." - Charles Baudelaire

I came across that quote this morning and it got me thinking about delights in life. While I've been dizzy the last few weeks a lot of my normal activities have been suspended. It's been hard for me to alter my activities according to my balance and nausea, but with the nice weather beginning there is plenty else to do and enjoy. (However, I'm still hoping the vertigo goes away soon.) I also realized many of the things that bring me happiness have little to do with doing, and more to do with being and seeing.

My small delights: the way my dog runs sideways when she gets excited, all green lights on the drive home, walking the fremont sunday market, dick danger ale, watching a flower bulb push through the soil, climbing into a sun-warmed car on a cool day, the way my little cousin says "hi brookie," eating fresh raspberries, spotting hawks perched along the highway posts, finding a parking spot right in front, getting a real letter in the mail, finding the perfect pair of shoes on sale, a cup of tea on a lazy weekend morning, putting on warm clothes right out of the dryer.

What are yours?

Friday, April 24, 2009

The work potluck

Happy Secretary's Week! Yes, I realize they have changed the name to Administrative Professionals, but really, who are they kidding? To celebrate this important annual event, we are having a work potluck. That's right, we are bringing our own food to honor ourselves. It's like making your own birthday cake or sending yourself flowers. A little bit lame. However, that is not my point. My point is that potlucks have a tendency to give me anxiety. What do I bring? What will my potluck food say about me? It's like going to a party of someone you don't know very well. Am I going to be over dressed? Under dressed? Similarly, I don't want to kill it at the potluck with my fresh marionberry scones if everyone else is bringing store bought cookies (and I'm not talking about the ones from the bakery. I mean Keebler). Then I look like I'm lonely and have nothing else to do with my time but spend the evening baking for a work potluck. On the other hand, if someone is going to make an angel food cake decorated with real pansies I don't want to bring a can of Pringles. So like most things that stress me out, rather than coming up with something to bring, I pushed it out of my mind entirely. I was leaving the house this morning when it occurred to me that it was potluck day. I know, how could I forget such a day?! I ran back inside (while the ice on my car defrosted. Yes, its still freezing here.) and grabbed some organic chips from our cupboard and mango salsa from the fridge (both already opened by the way). I did manage to grab a glass bowl to pour the salsa into, but the chips will have to fend for themselves from their dilapidated paper bag. So, what does my potluck item say about me?

P.S. I walked into the break room this morning and some carnivore has a crock pot of meatballs brewing. What does their potluck item say about them?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Porch Garden #2

Hello friends, I have missed you. Though the vertigo is still not gone, it has finally improved enough for me to be a bit more functional. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it was a busy weekend at Love Dog Ranch. We started construction on the porch garden. And by we, I mean mostly Justin. Here's the play by play:

I'm proud to say that we didn't spend a dime on these! Truth be told, we did buy a box of nails for $14 but all the lumber was recycled from a pile of scrap wood on our property, we lined the bottom of the box with the mesh from an old trampoline, and some small rocks. We need to get some soil to fill the boxes, which might actually cost some $, and then we're ready to plant. I also transplanted my silver thyme onto the porch, in the bucket above. We can't wait to eat home grown tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers. I was excited to see that my chives from last year have come up again! For those of you who don't garden, just plant chives--so easy and they smell delicious (and taste delicious in soup).

I hope to have some updates soon!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Hi Friends, I have been out with a mysterious bout of vertigo. Needless to say, I haven't been doing a whole lot of crafting, cooking, or garden projects (or driving, or rock climbing, or working...). I hope to be back as soon as the room stops spinning.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Project time

Okay, I might be going insane because I could swear I already wrote this post, but then again I used to get sent to my room to clean it and then fall asleep and dream that I was cleaning my room and then I would wake up and think, Oh no! I have to do it again, in real life! So, maybe I didn't really write this. Or maybe it's all a dream....whoa too deep for this blog.
My new project is to rip out the picket fence along the front of our house, and put in a new wire and wood fence. Coming home from work the other day I saw a really cool fence and said "I'm doing that."
So here we are. The current fence is old and falling down and the gate is barely hanging on, so this will be a much needed improvement. We're also pulling out some obnoxious bushes that take up room in our yard for no asthetic reason that I can tell. I'm still in the planning phase--I need to measure the length and figure out the number of 4x4s, amount of wire etc. But the plan is to get it built soon so that I can grow flowers, and even climbing veggies up it this summer. Oh the summer time dreams... Here is the current (ie "Before") picture:

Do you see that bright spot at the top of the picture? That's called the SUN! I know. I hardly believe it myself. But don't you worry, the forecast is calling for rain again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day...
Hopefully the "After" picture will be coming soon, along with some photos of the project.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bad idea

Sometimes I get these ideas into my head that seem fabulous at the time, but quite honestly, I don't always think of the outcome. On Saturday, I decided that it was essential that I bake a batch of cinnamon rolls. My friend Matt was doing a marathon drive on his way to Washington, Justin was off on a fishing trip, and I had a sweet tooth. So off I went to the store to buy $18 worth of ingredients for cinnamon rolls because for some reason I didn't have enough of any one ingredient in my house. Also, I've never made cinnamon rolls before so I didn't want to deviate from the recipe. I couldn't chance potentially inactive yeast, or soy milk instead of whole milk. The results could be catastrophic. So I set to my task using this recipe*. Here's my progress...

Have you ever made cinnamon rolls? It takes a looooong time. The dough has to rise a bunch of times and you have to knead it for an eternity (actually about 8 minutes, but still...). Finally, they were finished. What, might you ask was this bad idea? Well, friends. After they came out of the oven, it was just me and 12 huge cinnamon rolls. What's a girl to do?

* Notes on the recipe: In step 4 you don't actually need that much butter. I used 4 T on each and that still felt like a repulsive amount of butter. You also only really need about a cup of sugar for the cinnamon/sugar mixture (not 1 1/4). Be sure you keep and eye on your rolls--my oven must be hot, because they were done at about 25 min. I didn't like the icing recipe. Way too sweet, way too much vanilla. I tried to thin it with more water, and also warmed it on the stove so the sugar would melt smoother but it was still way too...gross. The rolls plain were delicious though, so I definitely would use the recipe again, were I inspired to spend another entire day baking. Which I probably won't.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Garden Art

Reminding anyone in the Seattle area about the Avalon event this weekend. Maybe I will see you there!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Yay! I'm famous

Not really, but humor me. I just got an advance copy of the Oxford American Handbook of Pediatrics. This was a project that I worked on with my boss for over a year-- 31 lovely chapters (1200 pages) of "acute and chronic problems, genetics, development, and procedures." I will probably never want to have kids due to the contents, which explain in detail everything that could go wrong in a child, but it was an interesting project.

And on the second page of the acknowledgments, after 88 doctors...
yep, yours truly. I'd like to thank the academy, my agent, my fans...
oh, and my boss for putting my name in print. Huzzah! And according to the cover, a "worldwide best-seller". Yeah, I'm big in Europe.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Vegetarian Enchiladas and Spanish Rice

Hungry? Having friends over for dinner and don't know what to make? This is an easy one to prepare before they show, so that by the time they walk in you can be smiling and mixing the margaritas.

Enchilada ingredients:

1 beer
8 small corn (or flour) tortillas (I usually do 2 enchiladas/person)
1 7oz can Ortega whole green chiles
2 fresh jalapenos
1/2 white or yellow onion
1/2 lb to a 1lb cheddar or colby jack cheese (depending on how cheesy you want them)
1 can enchilada sauce (green or red)
1 can black beans (I use low sodium)
1 bunch cilantro
1 avocado (optional garnish)

Prep: Open beer. Drink beer. Ole! Drain chiles, black beans. Chop onion, wash and chop cilantro, dice jalapenos. Shred cheese. Wash your hands and get ready, cause it gets a little messy. Using an ungreased metal or glass pan, pour some of the enchilada sauce in one end of the pan. Microwave as you go, 2 tortillas at a time for 20 seconds (if you do them all at once they'll get cold and break when you roll them). Take the first tortilla, dip it in the sauce one side, flip, dip the other side, and then load with beans, cheese, 1/2 an ortega, some jalapeno, and onion. Then you're ready to roll. Fold the edge closest to you first, then fold again so its sort of upside down on itself, and then slide back to the edge of the pan closest to you. Repeat the process. You'll get the rhythm--fold, fold, slide. When they're all rolled, cover with some remaining enchilada sauce, cheese, some onions and jalapenos, and some more sauce. Drink another beer (optional, but recommended).

Once your enchiladas are rolled and ready, you'll want to start your rice before putting them in the oven since the rice takes about 20 minutes and the enchiladas only take 12 minutes to heat up and melt the cheese (set oven to 350 degrees). Also, once the rice and enchiladas are on cruise control you can make some quick salsa, or make the night before so it has time to reach its best flavor. Once your enchiladas are done, serve two to a plate garnished with a slice of avocado.

Mom's* Spanish Rice

2 cups white rice (I think I just use calrose)
1 can diced tomatoes (~14.5 oz, don't drain)
2 1/2 cups cold water
vegetable oil
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp taco seasoning mix

Over medium-high heat add vegetable oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan pretty well) and rice, and stir until toasty brown in color. Add water (watch out for the steam!) and diced tomatoes, and spices, stirring all together well. Turn up the heat to high, and boil for 4 minutes with the lid on. Without removing the lid, turn down the heat (low) and simmer for 18 minutes. Turn off, stir (as most of the tomato has worked its way to the edge- as in photo 3), taste to make sure its cooked through and add additional spices as needed. Remove from heat, replace the lid, and let sit until you're ready to eat.
*Clarification: not exactly my mom's recipe, but that's top this is close enough :)