Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry & Happy

We're on our way for several days of family and Christmassy fun. A bunch of driving, then family, family, family, then more driving.

I hope you all have a happy Christmas, however you celebrate.

BTW—40 is fine. I'm actually looking forward to my 40s.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Early Birthday to Me!

One of the challenges with having a birthday so close to Christmas is that it often gets lumped up with all the other festivities. Though, considering grandma's birthday is actually Christmas Day, I really shouldn't complain. Anyhow, my co-workers in the editorial department decided to surprise me with a birthday celebration today before people start fleeing the office for the holidays.

I received a nice card, with some wonderful birthday wishes, and a yum-yum-yummy, ri-ri-rich chocolate mousse cake. The conversation turned astrological as we were enjoying the cake.

In a normal year, my birthday falls on the winter solstice. But this year, not only is my birthday on the solstice, but there's a full moon, a lunar eclipse, and Mercury is in retrograde. And it's the big Four-Oh, not that there's anything astrological about that.

I never realized how closely me co-workers follow astrology, but I've been hearing about this Mercury in retrograde thing all month. Apparently it never leads to any good.

Anyhow, we decided the confluence of these events was either going to be very auspicious, or very disastrous. After stashing the entire half cake that was leftover in the fridge so I could bring it home to share with Scoob, I started looking up some of the astrological websites that were recommended.

Dudes, it is not good. I shouldn't even bother getting out of bed on Tuesday.

From Michael Lutin:
Here you are trying your best to fortify and stabilize your whole life, and the very house you are living in seems like a sand castle at the edge of the sea at as the tide comes rolling in. Maybe you won’t exactly look back on this scene someday and laugh about it, mainly because the bolt from the blue that has struck your family has repercussions that will last for years and years.

Oooookay. Nothing here about the eclipse and other events specifically, but it is certainly not making me feel any better about the serious family health issues from earlier in the week.

Then there's this from Susan Miller:
Romantically, the total eclipse of the moon on December 21 in Gemini at 29 degrees could bring emotional drama, especially if you were born near the end of your sign from December 17- 21. [Yo, Dec. 21, here] The focus will be a serious relationship, in love or business...

One reason this month's December 21 eclipse could prove to be troublesome is that it will fall directly on the solstice, which means it will be more powerful than most eclipses. Solstice points represent the life force, so it's very strong - and we haven't had an eclipse this powerful since 2001. Another reason I expect trouble is that Uranus will act up in a big way, for he will be in tight, challenging position to the Sun and moon.

The whole area of real estate and property is being brought into the discussion of the eclipse because Uranus will be so active on December 21, and Uranus is currently in your fourth house of home. As a result of this eclipse, you may move to a new address, or a family member may create news, and in both cases, this would happen quite out of the blue. If you are currently living with your sweetheart, you may suddenly decide to move out.

This home and property sector rules not only physical property you buy, sell, or lease, but also the people with whom you share your space (romantic lover, roommate, or immediate family). It rules also the people you hire to help you with your space (contractors, decorators, or maintenance help) or people who you deal with to maintain, sell, or do other things for your space (buyers, sellers, tenants, landlord, or broker). This house also rules your parents or adoptive parents, for your fourth house of home is considered the "cradle of life." One of these individuals listed here may be an important big focus now.

Oh, and I didn't copy is here, but there's also something about Venus being in my House of Secrets and I shouldn't be surprised if a secret is exposed sometime between the eclipse (Dec. 21) and mid-January. Those of you that know my news can see how that may be problematic. Then there's the whole "cradle of life"/family thing. Again.

You know, a smart person would just stop reading these things. But now I'm kind of dreading my birthday and I'm thinking that curling up in bed with a cup of tea and some of that leftover birthday cake might not be such a bad decision. But, of course, there's just one slight problem with that plan...


Where the hell did my cake go?
I left a whole half of a cake!

Someone at the office apparently thought the cake was going to get tossed out with the Friday night fridge purge and took it upon themselves to liberate the cake. I particularly like that fact that they left me a few crumbs and the empty box in the fridge. No one has owned up to it yet.

I don't know which pisses me off more, that someone (or more than one) took what clearly didn't belong to them, or that they left the freakin' empty box behind!

I think my eclipse has started early. And Day 1 is imminent.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Update

Finally winding down from a phone call with my mom (mom) and am about to head to bed, but I wanted to post a quick update. I talked with my mom (step-mom) earlier and my sister was moved out of ICU this afternoon, so that is good. Though from what I understand, her roomie in ICU was detoxing and creating quite the fuss between yelling/swearing/throwing things and being otherwise abusive. She was really pissed when sis got her own room. I can only imagine what she did then.

But, anyhow, this isn't an update about the crazy meth addict. Now that sis is out of ICU she can text and facebook, and whatnot, so I spent a good portion of the evening testing her hand-eye coordination while on pain meds by having a text conversation. Heh. Well, I was worried she might be winded and a little short of breath for a phone call what with the hole in her lung.

So the leak in sis's lung has apparently sealed itself—okay, can I just say, when a doctor tells me something has "resolved" itself, I'm always a little hesitant to take it at face value. Okay. So she's no longer leaking air and can breathe easier, but there's still a lot of air trapped in her body and that still has her in a great deal of pain. They're keeping her another night for observation and are hoping the air will dissipate (read "resolve") on its own. She thinks she could go home tomorrow.

I also learned this afternoon that sis forgot to turn in her paperwork to enroll in her company's health insurance plan. After she gets this bill, I'm guessing she never forgets again. Yeah, sis, if you could see me, I'd be giving you the look.

Dad's got a clean bill of health from his doctor. Turns out I was needlessly worried about him. Well, not needlessly, but just late to the daddy worry party. He actually relapsed with his pneumonia a week ago and today was his follow-up appointment from that. No one tells me anything. Probably because I'm such a worry wart.

So anyhow, I'm wishing it were Friday night instead of Wednesday so I could sleep in tomorrow. But I'll probably head up to Eureka on Friday after work for a quick visit. Maybe I'll even pick up some Dilly Bars on the way. To share with Bungee.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meltdown

Well, I was going to write about more tushie related news, but that will have to wait. I'm having a minor meltdown tonight. I went from happily addressing the last of my Christmas cards (sending some out for the first time in several years) and baking brownies for the annual bake sale at work tomorrow to being beside myself with worry.

I texted my sister yesterday looking for an uncle's address and she said she would give it to me only if I signed her name to the card, too. Ha ha. So when I texted her today whether she was serious (because I would totally forge her name on the card), her reply was "I don't care... I'm in the hospital." FTW?!

Finally mom calls to tell me what's going on. It seems she's had a bad cough  for a couple of days and then today she started to feel really bad. Mom finally took her to the hospital when her lips turned blue and she fainted in the middle of her apartment. After x-rays, the doctor says she has air leaking into her chest cavity.

I'm guessing she was coughing so hard she some how ruptured something. The doctors can't tell if the air is coming from her lung or esophagus right now, but they have her on oxygen and morphine and are keeping her overnight.

On the same call, mom tells me that dad appears to be having a relapse with his pneumonia. He's having trouble staying warm again and is having some chest pains. So he's hauling his tushie back to his doctor tomorrow instead of heading to where my mom and sister are.

And I've been told to stay put until we know more. So here I am, at 2:30am, having my freak out/meltdown. Because that's what I do. I worry. Mom says she'll call tomorrow with an update, and I've already got a bag packed and ready to go. I'll toss it in the car with me when I leave for work in the morning.

I have got to relax, though, and get some sleep. Especially if I think I may need to drive up to Eureka.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Let’s Talk Tushie

Okay, so I noticed something while we were in North Carolina and it's been kicking around in my head ever since. Not one single public restroom I went into offered toilet seat liners. I know, huh. Of all the things I could possibly obsess over, I choose toilet seat liners.

Anyhow, it got me thinking. At what point in my life did toilet seat liners become a necessity? Was there a moment when my tushie became too royal to sit on the throne without that ever-so-thin piece of tissue paper separating it from the seat?

Now, I know some of you will say "just hover," but I must admit—I am incapable of the hover. Or the squat. Whenever I try to do either, I'm so concerned that I'll go all over the place that I tense up, making it just that more likely that I'll go all over the place.

I have, on rare occasion managed the assisted squat, but that only works when there's something behind me I can place my hand on for support. Call it performance anxiety. I think it's genetic. My sister can't do it either.

But I digress. Back to my tushie. So, my tushie hasn't always been so pampered. I don't recall using toilet seat liners in public restrooms when I lived in Oregon. I remember them being available in most restrooms, but I never understood why someone would need to use them except on rare occasion.

I mean, studies have shown that phone receivers, door handles, and shopping carts carry more germs than toilet seats, so other than the every so often I would need to go and the only toilet available had dribbles on the seat, I never used a liner.

I've used outhouses and never felt the need for a liner. An air freshener maybe, but not a liner.

So when did my tushie become such a namby pamby? I think the liner thing became habit for me while living in San Jose. After one too many times of sitting on a wet seat. You know that moment, just after the tushie settles, when you realize "aw, crap! the seat's wet!" But what are you going to do? Contact's already been made. It's not like you can reverse time and choose a different toilet.

So this seemed to happen to me a lot after moving to California, and at some point I must have decided that a preemptive toilet seat tissue was the best strategy. I don't know what the difference is between Oregonians and Californians that makes one groups' women more capable of pissing in the pot, so to speak, without making a mess. But there it is.

I do have a theory, though. Immigrants. I couldn't for the life of me understand why I would find footprints on the toilet seats in public restrooms here. And just so you know, any seat with a footprint received a preemptive toilet seat liner from me.

I finally solved the footprint mystery when I traveled to Chiapas, Mexico, several years ago and had to use a community outhouse.

The community outhouse was a large walled wooden outbuilding with a raised bench, and the bench had several holes cut into to with no seats. I could plainly see where people had missed the holes, so there was no way in hell I was planting this tushie on that bench. Then I noticed the local women would stand on the bench, hike up their skirts, and squat over the holes.

Okay, so we've already discussed my shortcomings when it comes to squatting. It's a life skill I've never put much effort towards mastering. Though I will say that moment on that trip really made me question whether I might need to resort my priorities. I did finally manage to use the latrine after begging a travel companion to help me keep my balance; she was laughing the whole time. Hey, it's not nice to make fun of people's disabilities.

Anyhow, that's when I figured out how/why the footprints were on the public toilets at home. I understand this is the traditional method for using public facilities in India, China, and other parts of Asia as well. So, given the high density of immigrants in the Bay Area from those areas, the footprints and the accompanying wet spots suddenly made so much more sense. Still disgusting, but no longer perplexing.

Anyhow, that's my theory. Mind you there's not a shred of scientific data to back that up. But there it is just the same. Maybe I should apply for a federal grant and study the situation.

I thought "those crazy Californian" when they mandated toilet seat covers here. Oh, yeah. You better believe it. It's a health code violation here if a public restroom does not provide those toilet seat liners. And now that I've really thought this thing through (there must have been something better I could have done with the time, but I didn't, and I can't get it back so I figured I'd share my ramblings with you! It's your lucky day!), I understand why.

I mean everyone bitches about California being a nanny state, including me, but seeing as how they can't very well regulate and enforce how we all takes a piss without some serious invasion of privacy issues, they decided to mandate the toilet seat tissue. I'd say that's the better call.

So, back to the beginning of this post. Since toilet seat tissues are mandated here, it was a bit of a shock not to see them at all while in North Carolina and my tushie reluctantly became reacquainted with the public domain. And you know what, it wasn't that bad. I didn't have a single bad tushie experience and got used to it after the first couple times. Soon I was wondering what in the world I had been fussing over. Then I came home.

I don't know about you, but my first stop when getting off a plane is the restroom. (Don't even get me started on the in-flight restrooms. Emergencies only!) So there I am at Oakland International Airport, facing the throne in the restroom, having an internal conversation with my tushie:

ME: Look. It can't be that bad. You've gone without a liner for an entire week.
TUSHIE: Not by my choice!
ME: Yes, but still, nothing bad happened.
TUSHIE: Says you! I was traumatized, TRAUMATIZED I tell you, every time we sat down!
ME: But you've made such good progress. You know the first week is always the hardest when kicking a habit. You've already made it through the toughest part.
TUSHIE: But look at it. The liner's right there. It's practically begging to be used.
ME: Think of all the trees we'll save if we swear off using liners from now on.
TUSHIE: Trees my ass! Even if we used 20 of those tissuey things every time we go it wouldn't kill an entire tree in our lifetime. Put the liner on now, dammit! We have to pee!
ME: You don't have an ass…you are the ass. Now shut it and sit down!
TUSHIE: I'd sooner piss down our leg than sit on that seat without a liner!
ME: I've got the brain! You're just the bum. Now sit on it!
ME: Awww, crap. It's wet.
TUSHIE: Told you!

Will I become one of those people who travel with toilet seat liners folded neatly in my purse? I seriously doubt it. Though I may look into a GoGirl. Think about it. What woman hasn't encountered the dreaded gas station or fast food restaurant bathroom and wished she could pee standing up? Because I don't care how many toilet seat covers you layer, you're still not going to want to go there.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Some Randomness

So, someone swiped my coffee cup at work the other day. It was my own fault, really, for leaving it in the dish drainer to dry. There's nothing terribly distinctive about it, so no one would know it was mine, but I've been using the same cup since I started working here in 2004 and I've grown rather attached to it. Now I'm looking for a replacement cup and I found this. Basically there's a hole in the bottom of the cup and only the owner has the plug to fill it and make the cup useful. So anyone else trying to steal use my cup would wind up with hot coffee on their hand/arm/leg. Nope, there's nothing passive aggressive about that.

I skimmed through this article about people who are drawn to underpaying jobs. I don't think they've "discovered" a new disorder, but I do think it is symptomatic of low self-esteem and confidence, fear of failure, and just general laziness. Just another reason why I'm so proud of my sis for putting herself out there and taking a chance. She's been working at a small law firm for the past several months instead of retail and she loves it. Her work is engaging, fulfilling, and challenging and it's absolutely wonderful to watch her whole self blossom. Love you sis!

Though, honestly, I didn't like the researcher's tone, which seemed to say that all people everywhere should be striving for high-paying jobs. Sometimes these types of jobs are just what you need, like when you're trying to earn some extra cash around the holidays or when you're not the primary breadwinner in a household with children. Anyhow, it was still interesting.

Have you ever wondered how environmentally kosher the area you live in is? (Can you even use kosher like that in a sentence? Maybe I've coined a new phrase.) Well, you can find out by entering your zip code at the Scorecard website. The website generates an environmental report by county and you can find out how your county (or a county you may move to) stacks up environmentally with other counties. Scorecard also provides reports on the top polluters in the county. Fascinating to have all this information available at my fingertips. And depressing to see just how little we've accomplished when it comes to protecting the places we call home.

And now, a few ways you can help others in need this holiday season without lifting a finger. Well, okay, you will have to lift a finger (those keys won't type by themselves!), but you won't be exerting yourself. And I'm all about helping others while inconveniencing myself as little as possible.

This one's for all you frequent fliers out there—every time you use Facebook Places to check in at a Southwest Airlines airport, Southwest will donate $1 to the Make a Wish Foundation. Read about it here.

Now that it's December, it's also bellringer season. The Salvation Army has totally embraced technology to help meet their $3,000,000 fundraising goal. I recently downloaded the Salvation Army Christmas Music app from iTunes for $2.99. $1 of my purchase goes directly to the Salvation Army and in return, I get a great selection of Christmas music arranged in multiple genre playlists like Children's, Instrumental, Soul/Jazz, Oldies, and more.

The Salvation Army understands that not everyone wants to stand outside in the cold ringing the donation bell, and now you can help support the cause and stay toasty warm by heading to the Online Red Kettle where you can create your own iconic red kettle online and invite people to donate.

They've also created a fun bellringer app available for free through iTunes. So go ahead, ring my bell.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans

We're in our last moments of the Thanksgiving weekend and I want to hold onto the good feelings. Mom and I have our own Thanksgiving tradition. Each year we're together, we sit down and watch an old musical. I love the old musicals and was really looking forward to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or The King and I. It doesn't matter how many times I see these movies, I always enjoy them.

I was really hoping Netflix had some of these available via streaming because I've also had a song or two from Summer Stock running through my head lately. But alas, you actually have to reserve the DVDs and wait for them to be mailed. Normally that wouldn't be an issue and if I'd known earlier we would be spending the holiday at home I could have set it all up. But, since I couldn't watch the oldies I decided to catch up on missed episodes of Glee. It's still musical and I enjoy it, but it's just not the same.

Anyhow, here's the recipe for the sweet potato dish I made instead of the more traditional gooey marshmallow covered dish. It was super easy, and Scoob really liked it. I thought the herb flavor was a bit over powering, so I might cut back on that ingredient if I make this again. Or, maybe I just bought some really strong thyme.


Sweet Potatoes with Pecans


Sweet Potatoes with Pecans
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients
    2½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds
    3 Tbsp olive oil
    ½ cup grated Parmesan
    1 tsp Kosher salt
    ¼ tsp black pepper
    ¾ cup chopped pecans
    ¼ cup light brown sugar
    2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
    pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 375°. Toss sweet potatoes, with 2 Tbsps oil, Parmesan, salt, pepper in a large bowl and transfer to a 2½–3 quart baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45–50 minutes; until the potatoes are tender.
  2. While that is baking, combine the pecans, brown sugar, thyme, cayenne, and the remaining Tbsp of oil in a small bowl.
  3. Once tender, remove foil from the baking dish and sprinkle the pecan mixture over the potatoes. Continue to bake, uncovered, until the pecans are toasted, about 10–12 minutes.

I got this (and the cranberry compote) recipe from the Nov. 2010 issue of Real Simple magazine. By not oiling the baking dish (there's plenty of oil already, sticking was not a problem) and eliminating additional salt and pepper from the pecan mixture, I've cut down slightly on the amount of oil and salt used in the original recipe, but otherwise it remains the same.

Friday, November 26, 2010

T: Take 2

While everyone else is out there battling the crowds trying to score a doorbuster deal and making  serious headway on their Holiday shopping, I'm still celebrating Thanksgiving. I have trouble moving on from Thanksgiving; come to think of it, I have trouble moving after Thanksgiving. (Especially after our day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast.) Now, assuming I could move and that I could work up the energy required to shoehorn myself into my fat jeans, the last thing I would want to do is ruin the holiday buzz by joining the hordes in a shopping frenzy.

Though, truth be told, I am starting to panic a bit about Christmas. Last I heard, dad, mom, and sis were coming to our house for the holiday and I've been getting all geared up for that—rearranging some furniture, looking into nearby hotels, trying out new recipes, and beginning to buy stocking stuffers. Well, after talking with my sis last night, it now sounds like the plan is to have Christmas at a cousin's house. Which is fine—just keep me in the loop, people!

Now that being the host house is off my plate (at least for the next week), I've realized that aside from the few stocking stuffers, I've done zip in the shopping department. Heck, I don't even know what people want! So yeah, the panic is beginning to creep in.

So, we went out for a pancake breakfast while we were in North Carolina and Scoob made a comment. He said "How come you don't make pancakes anymore?" You see, when we first moved in together I would make pancakes from scratch every Sunday morning. I had to remind him that I was still in college then so I had a lot more free time during the week leaving me with a lot more energy on the weekends. And I had to remind him that when we decided to eat healthier, pancakes became a once in a while treat instead of a regular occurrence. Anyhow, I surprised him with a pancake breakfast this morning with real maple syrup.


If you look closely, a couple of you may recognize some things in this photo.
Just keeping you close even when you're not close.


Our Thanksgiving h'ordeuvres—cheddar pepper palmiers.
Just looking at them made me happy. Eating them made me happier.


The cranberry and brandy compote. Very tasty and if I hadn't already bought
the maple syrup I would have used it on my pancakes this morning!


A new twist on holiday sweet potatoes. They were good, and much healthier than their marshmallow encrusted cousins. Though I've found another sweet potato recipe I'd like to try as well.


And the turkey. Scoob liked it, but turkey is just turkey to me and since I didn't make potatoes, I didn't bother with gravy which might have made me like the bird better.


We'll do a re-run of Thanksgiving tonight for dinner and try to stretch out the holiday buzz. Hopefully we won't relive the food coma.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! The kitchen flurry has begun and I think I'm about to put the turkey in the oven. That is, just as soon as I figure out how to cook a turkey breast as opposed to the whole turkey. Since it's just the two of us and we've been cutting back on our meat consumption, it just didn't make sense to cook a whole bird.

Oh, and can I tell you something? A little bit goes a long way when it comes to brandy. That's right. I did perform that quality check on the brandy last night, and whoa. Thankfully, I managed to get the table set up for today before it went straight to my head.



Okay, let me tell you something else. White, white table cloth + cats = never a good idea. The minute I took that cloth out of its protective wrapper I saw the cat hair. I swear, Hermione must have placed an accio spell on that thing. (For you non-Harry Potter people.) And ironing it only seemed to attract more hair. I'm thinking I need to add mini lint-rollers next to the forks in our place settings. I'll have some turkey with a side of hairball, please.




Anyhow, I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Now, I'd better go figure out how to cook that turkey.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

T Minus 1

Oh. My. God. Y'all. Thanksgiving is tomorrow!We were supposed to drive up to Oregon today to spend the holiday with mom, but she hasn't been feeling well and with the severe weather she wanted us to stay home, stay warm, stay safe, and come visit some other time. We made this decision Monday evening, which left me 2 whole days to plan a menu, shop, and prep. It's 7:00 on Turkey Eve and I haven't started prepping yet, but the menu and shopping are finished. Mostly.

I did the shopping on my way home from work last night. It took forever to find the pastry puffs and when I did finally find them there was only one left way, way in the back of the freezer case. I did my best to act all cute, charming, and chatty like my sis as I approached the nearest tall person to reach it for me. I also bought some brandy. Blackberry brandy, for a cranberry compote. Of course the recipe calls for straight bourbon and silly me thought brandy was in the whiskey/whisky/scotch/bourbon family. Whiskey and I do not get along and blackberry sounded nummy, so maybe it is a good thing I got the brandy instead.

But dudes, grocery stores don't carry small bottles—I only need a small amount. I suppose I'll just have to find something to do with the leftover brandy. Scoob seems to be coming down with a cold and has a nagging cough. I'm thinking I'll make him a hot toddy. Yeah, that's if I haven't drank it all by dinner. Heh. I'm not going to discuss the entire contents of my grocery cart, you'll just have to trust me when I say we're having more than pastry puffs and brandy for dinner. I also bought wine.

Among the many, many things I am thankful for are that I am able to save money so that surprise expenses (like a last minute Thanksgiving dinner) don't blow the household budget, that I've learned to be flexible and not completely stress while handling the curves when life changes the plan, and that over the years I've learned to cook so I know I can pull it off.

I'm also thankful for the technology that allows me to stay in touch with distant family and friends, whether that's through this blog, on the phone, through facebook, via twitter, or whatever. I really am thankful for that, and yet it feels so, I don't know, superficial? I mean when I think about the day-to-day challenges people around the world have to deal with, being thankful for facebook seems pretty weak.

Really there are thousands of things I am thankful for. Far too many to count. But it is important to at least try to count them so that they're not taken for granted. I'm thankful that Scoob and I have stable jobs. I'm thankful for having supportive family and friends in my life. I'm thankful to live in the United States. No matter how crazy, unjust, and just plain loopy things can get, I'll always be thankful that I was fortunate enough to be born here. Anyhow, the list goes on.

Oh hey. I forgot to tell you about our airport adventures on our trip. So guess who tried to get a pocketknife through airport security? Or rather, guess who DID get a pocketknife through airport security? If you said Scoob, you'd be wrong. It was me. I completely forgot I'd stashed my pocketknife in my camera case after our Lava Beds trip last July and I breezed right through security at Oakland airport. But the Raleigh airport security caught it on the return  trip. It took 3 bag searches and 4 x-rays to finally find it, but by golly, find it they did!

And you know what, the TSA guy was totally nice the entire time and even helped me set up a way to ship it to myself. Dad gave me that pocketknife last Christmas, so I didn't want to just leave it behind. Now, had TSA Oakland actually caught the pocketknife, I'm pretty sure I would have been strip searched and I'd probably be blogging at you from federal jail begging someone to post bail.

Anyhoodle, I should probably get my hiney in the kitchen and start some of that prep for tomorrow. I think I'll start with a quality check on that brandy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Well, I Tried

I tried to blog at you while we were out of town last week. Really I did. But between DWTS hoopla (our friends have an addiction, and now I may have one too) and Scoob hogging the laptop because he was on a working vacation, I didn't do too well. Besides Scoob working Tuesday through Thursday, we still had a great time.

The only real downside was the trip home, partly because we didn't want to leave, and partly because Thanksgiving travel has started and there were a lot of children on our return flight between Kansas City and Oakland. Though, honestly, of the 30 or so kids on the plane, only one was particularly problematic. Problematic as in he didn't stop screaming for the entire 4 hour flight. Little dude's face was so red I was actually scared for him.

Oh yeah, guess where little dude was sitting—not directly behind us (thank god), but in that row across the aisle. Still too close for comfort. Let me tell ya', I was counting the seconds to 10,000 feet so I could get my iPhone out, jam the buds in my ears, and crank some tunes. And his twin sister was just so calm and relaxed, coloring in her coloring book next to him the whole flight. I felt so bad for his parents. I tried to smile when I caught the mom's eyes, but I'm sure she just saw one more person glaring at her. There was a resounding cheer when the plane touched down in Oakland; I'm sure his parents were just as happy as everyone else to put an end to that experience.

Anyhow, our first morning in North Carolina was breakfast at The Old Granary Restaurant in Fearrington Village. Unless you have a gluten allergy, I don't care what kind of diet you're on—you must have a least one biscuit from the biscuit basket. After breakfast we went next door to McIntyre's Books. I may have found a new favorite bookstore. Well, second favorite. I don't think any bookstore could replace Powell's as my favorite.




At any rate, this is what a bookstore should be—locally owned, have personality, and staffed with friendly people who love to read. Not at all like the sterilized experience of going into a B&N or Borders where you know any book with prominent placement wasn't put there because someone on staff actually read it or liked it, but because the publisher paid a handsome fee to have the book placed there. Almost every book out on a table at McIntyre's had a hand-written note from a staff member attached to it.  Anyhow. Great bookstore. Great books. Support your local independent bookstores.

After that, the week was mostly a blur. But amazingly, it was a blur of golds and reds and oranges and browns. By some fluke, the weather had been mild for several weeks before we got there, so we also caught the end of the fall foliage season. Gorgeous. And we wrapped up the week by going to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 on Friday afternoon.






















Anyhoodle, we're home now, and believe it or not, I'm caught up on laundry. And I woke up at 5:30 this morning. Without an alarm. I know. What is this world coming to?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Woe is My Toes

So hey, remember the shoes I said I was wearing the most? Yeah, so I'm about to swear off of them. Scoob has started painting his models again. (He calls them models; I call them figurines. Whatevah. I guess it just sounds more manly his way.)

Actually we've done a bit of furniture rearranging so he has a designated space for this activity.  He used to do this in the summers out on the patio, but then he'd come inside for something and forget to go back out again, which meant he also would forget to pick up his stuff. So I'm happy to have a corner set aside for his "models" if it means I don't have to deal with the detritus in other areas of the house.

Anyhow, Scoob asked me to go to an art supply store near my office to pick up some matte varnish for acrylics. I set out to do that on my lunch break thinking, "Sure, I can do that. It's just a couple blocks over at the end of the street." Well, woe to the me, y'all. It was half a mile down, and half a mile back. And guess which shoes I was wearing today. Oy!

By the time I got to the store (and discovered they had a more than ample parking lot) I could feel the balls of my feet screaming at me to just stop. For the love of God, please stop walking! Then there was the squinchy feeling—not quite the squishy blister feeling, but that pinchy/squeaky/almost squishy feeling that says, Hello, I'm going to be a blister if you don't STOP WALKING THIS VERY INSTANT!

Did I stop? Hell no. I roamed the aisles looking for what it was that Scoob needed. It's a darn good thing I told him to send it to me in an email (I love my iPhone), otherwise I would have picked up the first matte varnish I spotted (which was for oils, not acrylics). And that just wouldn't do. That would have meant doing this again tomorrow. No. Thank. You.

Then I had to walk back to the office. Which turned into limping. And devolved to shuffling. I had to fight the fierce urge to stick out my thumb and hitch a ride for that last block.

Anyhow, I'm still at work. With my shoes off. Hoping I don't have to move from this chair for the rest of the day because I'll go barefoot if I have to, ragged toenails, chipped paint, calloused heels, and all. Wishing I had a pair of socks to at least hide my scary feet and not quite seem so Oakie. A few folks do regularly shuffle around the office in their socks, so it wouldn't seem quite so out of place. (Hello. Berkeley!)

Also wondering if I really need to eat that frozen entree I brought for lunch. I may just stick it under my desk and rest my feet on it.

I don't think I'll be running my own errands I had planned for after work tonight. I won't be hobbling them either. The things we do for art. And love.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Roasted Garlicy Cauliflower

Growing up, the only way mom could get me to even consider eating cauliflower was when it was steamed to almost complete softness and then slathered in some kind of cheese substance. I've never tried to replicate this myself. Cauliflower was never one of those "must have" vegetables for me. Not like, say, green beans are.

As I got older I found I liked cauliflower raw. But still, it's not something I go out of my way for.

But this, dear friends, this is the most glorious cauliflower I've ever eaten. I don't have a picture for this one. Or maybe I took one at some point and just decided it didn't look good. But trust me, it is delicious. When the weather is cool enough for oven cooking, I make sure I always have a head of cauliflower in the fridge. If I don't, I swear I'm like a cauliflower junkie—I start to get anxious about where I can get some and when I can get my next cauliflower fix.


Roasted Garlicy Cauliflower
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients
    1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
    3 Tbsp olive oil
    4 cloves of garlic, minced
    salt and pepper to taste
    ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 450°. Toss cauliflower, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl until thoroughly coated with oil and place in 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the Parmesan cheese and roast for 15 minutes.
  2. Stir the cauliflower, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese, and continue roasting for 10 minutes.
  3. Flip on the broiler for 3–5 minutes, until golden brown on top.

I love that the ingredient list is small and it takes almost nothing in prep time. Make sure you get the bits that stick to the pan… mmmmmm.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Acorn Squash and Tomatoes

So I lied. Again. I seem to do that a lot with y'all. It seems the book that came across my desk last Friday was not the last one. I forgot we'd had a problem with the first set of printer proofs for Germany. Turns out the gal who sent the files to the printer sent the original uncorrected files by mistake, and somehow in the mix up, the corrected files were lost. So we had to redo that book again from scratch. Yeah. So NOW the final fall book has crossed my desk. 14 down and 2 to go!

Ohh, and one of my coworkers gave me a nice compliment on my hair today—he said it looked sassy. That's probably the first time anyone has used that word to describe me when not referring to my mouth. Sassy!

People, I am so, so, so behind in posting recipes, so these won't necessarily be coming up in chronological order. That said, I made this for the second time this past Saturday night. It's one of my new favorites—ranking right up there with the roasted garlic cauliflower goodness that I've been making at least once a week ever since the weather became cool enough to turn the oven on.

I just scrolled through my logs and it seems I’ve never posted that cauliflower recipe, so I guess that one will have to be next. But first, Acorn Squash and Tomato goodness!


Roasted Acorn Squash and Tomatoes with Tilapia


Roasted Acorn Squash with Tomatoes
Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
    1 small acorn squash (about 1½ lbs.)—halved, seeded, and cut into ¼ inch slices
    1 pint grape or pearl tomatoes, halved
    4 cloves of garlic, sliced
    3 Tbsp olive oil
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Directions
  1. Heat oven to 425°. Toss squash, tomatoes, and garlic with the oil, salt, and pepper and place in 9 x 13 baking dish. Roast until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.

I love that this is so super easy and uses seasonal squash. And I love that I don't have to peel this squash like I do with some butternut squash recipes. The first time I made this, I served it with a quick pan-fried tilapia seasoned with salt, pepper, and coriander (pictured), which was nummy. When I took left overs for lunch, I had it with almond rice pilaf instead of the fish and loved it. And that's how I made it for Saturday night's dinner, too.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shoe Porn

It’s wet, wet, wet today. Which is nice, you know, because it is November. But it is a big change from the two 80° days we had last week. Those were entirely unexpected, because, yeah, November! All my shorts and tank tops are packed away and the fans have been put back in the garage and I seriously debated getting everything out again.

I did panic a bit when the cooler weather started to show. I couldn't find any of my long sleeved shirts and sweaters and thought I was going to have to do some serious shopping. I was crushed I tell you. But then I remembered that we had started packing up the house last spring with every intention of moving before summer was over and yes, I had packed away all my cool weather clothes. So I've dug those out, not that it stopped me from shopping. Heh.

So I've recently acquired a new plushy sweater jacket, a few layering tops, a nice deep green jacket, and a new pair of jeans that I just picked up from being hemmed. And what with the new hair cut and all, I'm feeling fairly put together lately.

Anyhow, I've been meaning to share pictures from my shoe shopping escapade back in September. Or maybe it was early October. Who knows. But it's shoes! I went in looking for a particular pair of shoes, I wanted to replace this pink pair (which I pretty well thrashed over the summer) but apparently that style was from two season ago, so then I was forced to browse…


So first I found this similarly styled pair also from Rocket Dog


But I didn't want them to be lonely, so I bought a second pair.


Then I thought, I'd better get a different pair for diversity's sake, because I don't want my shoes to grow up to be bigots. This is my sporty pair. Title IX and girl power and all that.


This pair had a chunky kiss-ass look. I actually wear these the most.


And there's this pair. I thought they looked so sophisticated and classy. I have no excuse for buying these, and I haven't worn them yet. I even went to return them, but then left the store with them in-hand again. I'll cop to it, this pair was a purely emotional purchase.


Scoob's face was priceless when pair 5 landed on the stack. I don't think he'd ever seen anything like it before, at least not from me. Heh. Ugh, when did I become such a girl?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The End Is Near

The end is finally in sight on this project at work. So what was originally only supposed to suck the life out of my September also engulfed October and is hanging around like that house guest that just. won't. leave. into November. Printer proofs for the big fall season book (1200+ pages) crossed my desk last night and now I just have the 2 winter books to get through. I sure hope they come in next week because folks, I'm outta here (at least outta the office) for the second half of the month—I've got vacation and personal time to burn through before the end of the year, and by golly, I'ma gonna burn it!

My back has been bothering me more than usual during this project. I sit in a slightly different position when doing pages than I do when working on the website and the last thing I've wanted to do at home is sit at a desk, hence the lack of blogging. I've thought about it plenty, even had a few good post ideas, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

But last weekend changed things. Scoob and I were out and about running errands (new tires on the car, woot!) and stopped in at Office Max to get a refill for a nice Parker ballpoint pen I have and we left with a new desk chair (and the pen refill). Talk about your impulse buys. I've needed to replace my task chair at home since, well, since this place became our home, but I just couldn't bring myself to spend the money. I'm cheap like that. But I recently got a raise (yea!) and a bonus (yea!) at work and all the task chairs were on sale so I figured what the heck.

I also picked up a lumbar support cushion and have been using it at the office this week. What a difference! My back definitely does not feel as beat up at the end of the day! So I spoke with my manager and they'll order one for my work space. He had actually offered to order one about a year ago, but my back problems are in my upper back around the shoulder blades. I didn't understand how a lower back support would help. But oh what a glorious difference. Don't get me wrong, my back still hurts every blessed day, it's just not as excruciating. I know I'll be taking the cushion on the plane with us when we head out to North Carolina in a week or so, and in the car for the drive up to mom's for Thanksgiving. I'm seriously thinking about getting one just for the car.

Anyhow, I have tried some nummy recipes recently that I want to share and I have pictures from a (not so recent) shoe shopping extravaganza. I think that was back in September. I got a new haircut the other night. New salon and new hairdresser. It's short. I think I like it.

I need some good back juju so I can get back into the habit of blogging.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

And the Fun Just Keeps On Comin’

Blast it! Okay, so I am actually reading one of those books I wrote about. Well, mostly reading. One of the books is done in last year's style and layout and I can't send it out to our freelancers because last year's style had no clear style so I can't give them a checklist of things they should look for. So yea, I get to do this one myself.

Which all in all wouldn't be that terrible except I still have all those other books crossing my desk regularly, and all the other stuff I have to do as part of my regular job. So I've only been finding an hour or so a day to look at this one manuscript. So, diligent worker bee that I am, I brought it home with me this weekend.

But before I get back to doing that, I felt the need to relive vacation days. Here are some pictures from my trip to Idaho.

Along with dad and mom, Bungee was my travel companion.


Can I drive?


Dolly's coloring changed quite a bit since last year.


This was the only time the dogs would hold still for a group picture.
Think they're trying to say something?



All of grandma's hollyhocks were light yellow this year.
I like the way this picture turned out.


We made several stops on the leg between Sandpoint, ID and Anacortes, WA—along the Wenatchee River, at fruit stands, parks, and most importantly, at great-grandma's grave. I don't know that I ever knew great-grandma, but dad lived with her and great-grandpa for several years while growing up. It's not often I see dad so somber, but his deep love and respect for his grandma are clear.

It took me a few minutes to see why this place is called Lincoln Rock State Park.


Along the banks of the Wenatchee River. A very calm and peaceful spot, and other than the smell of rotting salmon from the recent salmon run, completely enjoyable.


I'd forgotten to change the light setting on my camera for outdoors,
but I kind of like the blue tint it gave this twisted stump.


I call this my Bigfoot shot, but it's really dad.
Looks just like Bigfoot, dontcha think? But a lot less hairy.
On the up side, I've gotten better at taking pictures of people in motion.
At least you can tell this is a person!


I really like the way the trees in the shadows framed this shot.


We only stayed a couple nights in Anacortes and spent most of our time at the house visiting with grandpa. I hadn't seen him since my sister's high school graduation 10 years ago. I was seriously impressed by his woodworking shop he has set up in his garage. I didn't know it, but apparently he was a master carpenter before he retired.


Grandpa likes to make birdhouses to keep himself busy.



And the birds think this is swell.


The morning sunshine created some dramatic back lighting on these nasturtiums.


We did head out to the Anacortes Farmers Market one morning.
I liked this crazy, colorful arrangement of flowers.


And I thought this vegetable stand photo turned out nicely.
Though, I may need to photoshop that woman's face out of the frame.

Monday, September 13, 2010

White Rabbit

Things have been pretty hectic around here for the last several weeks and I know I've been neglecting my blogging duties. Most of the time I'm feeling about as harried as the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland; constantly second guessing myself and certain that I'm forgetting something of the utmost importance.

I've been working on print projects at work for the last couple of weeks and my website work has fallen to the wayside. That's just the order of priorities lately. We have a partnership arrangement with another travel guide series and I've taken over managing the series while one of my co-workers is out on maternity leave through the end of the year. And of course all these books started arriving the minute I got back from my trip to Idaho.

Unfortunately, I can't be much more specific than that, partly because—you know—that would be unprofessional and I like my job and would hate to have this blog come back and bite me in the ass, and partly because I pulled a really bone-headed move a couple months back that made it just that much more likely someone I know in publishing might actually end up reading this blog, and that much more likely it could bite me in the ass.

You see, someone submitted a question to a publishing email list I'm on about linking protocols when blogging, and when I saw no one was answering him I decided to reply. I get asked questions about blogging fairly regularly, and I thought this was the email list from my editing class. The one with only 25 or so recipients, so I hit reply all, thinking other people from class might have similar questions.

Oh, but was that what actually happened? Of course not.

Instead of going out to 25 people I at least marginally know and may have exchanged pleasantries with, it turns out this was the Bay Area-wide publishing email list I'm on and my reply went out to over 1,000 people. I not only linked to this blog in my reply, but I also linked to the staff blog at work, which I post to with my real name. Oy. So yeah, anonymity out the window there. Not only that, but because it went out to such a large group, most of whom I've never met or heard of, I'm sure I came off as some supreme know-it-all. Which, of course, I am—but I try to keep it under wraps most of the time.

The moment I realized what I'd done, about 18 hours after the fact, I immediately went through all my posts since I first started blogging 2 years ago and either re-wrote or deleted anything the slightest bit negative about work. Granted there wasn't much (remember, I like my job), but still, that whole bite-me-in-the-ass thing. So anyhow, that's also part of the reason I've been keeping a low profile.

Anyhow, back to what I was saying… So yeah, I've been neck deep in a print project for the last few weeks  and oh my lord, I can't remember the last time I handled this much paper. I've got the papercuts to prove it, too! I'd give you a picture of all my bandages, but the camera battery is dead. (I'll let you image my whimpers of pain when I unthinkingly reached into jar of pickles over the weekend.) Today, alone, I went through 1st and 2nd pages of one manuscript (that'd be 2 copies of the same book), and 1st pages of 4 additional books.

Our publishing partner works with the authors and does most of the developmental and copy editing, handles layout, and is supposed to proof each book before it gets to us. Turns out, they didn't have a clear understanding of what proofing was until 2 weeks ago, so that's been part of the headache with this series.

Once the manuscript comes to us, I go through 1st pages once before sending out to the proofreader. I go through 1st pages again when they come back from the proofreader and check everything they've marked for correction. 1st pages then go to cartography for map updates and then to production. Production makes all the approved changes on 1st pages, then sends the 1st pages back to me with a set of 2nd pages. At that point I go through each set page-by-page and make sure all the marked corrections were made, flag anything that still needs to be addressed, then route the pages back to cartography for them to check. Then back to production they go.

Then 3rd pages come around. Hopefully that's the last set before the manuscript goes off to the printer (we're not at that stage yet, and since I've never been this involved in the process, I have no idea). The printer then runs a set of pages, bluelines, and sends them to us, which lets us see exactly how the book will appear in print. The pages make one more pass by me, cartography, and production. The only changes we make at this point are egregious factual errors that have somehow made it into the book—like the writers consistently misspelling the name of the travel guide series. Ahem. Did I say that? Then thousands of copies of the book are printed.

So how many times do I see each book? At least 6 or 7 times, and it's seen by at least 2 other people 3 to 4 times. Do I ever read it? No, I do not. Because I've got about 16 different books to do this with. Reading the book happens with copyediting, and the publishing partner is supposed to be handling that. That doesn't mean we don't still catch copyediting errors, but we're certainly not looking for them at the proofing stage.

It used to really annoy me when I'd find grammar and punctuation errors when reading for pleasure—and it still does. But now that I've worked in publishing for several years, I totally understand how they slip through. Though I still don't understand how that one book was missing the first 19 or so pages. You'd think someone would notice that.

Anyhow, that's what I've been up to.

In other news, I got my roo's in the mail! Grandma saves the day! They arrived with a hoody knit shirt, a tank top, and the one-and-only sweatshirt that I own. Yea, grandma! In return I sent her money for the postage and a copy of the recipe she had asked for. I made Orzo Zucchini Pasta Salad during our visit and it was a big hit. Though next year I'm stealing a page from my friend Becca's family gathering playbook and making my kalua pig. It never occurred to me to make it for a big group, but it's so super easy. Duh.

I may have pictures to share from vacation, but I don't know yet. (See note regarding dead battery above.)

Scoob and I spent the Labor Day holiday weekend apartment hunting and I've realized the budget I'd set for rent is not realistic and I'm going to have to come up with more money for rent. What really sucks is that our rent will be more than our mortgage. But we have to get out of here. We're trying to think of creative solutions, and we may have found one, but I can't discuss it here because of the bone-headed move mentioned earlier.

At any rate, I think we're going to try and stick it out here until March or so since the housing market typically slows through fall and winter—I do not want to be stuck holding rent and mortgage any longer than absolutely necessary. And it feels like listing the house now is just inviting unnecessary stress.

Also noteworthy, I did some serious shoe shopping over the holiday weekend. I've been told I need to post some pictures… Yeah, dead battery. I know, people. It's on the charger now.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mysteriously Disappearing Underpants

Dudes. Okay, I'm home again and back to work. And I'm ready to leave again. Except I can't, because I lost nearly all my underoos on this vacation!

I swear I just bought 10 new pairs a few weeks before I left. I was gone for 10 days and packed 7 pairs knowing we'd do laundry somewhere along the way. I came home with 2 pairs.

Dad did a load of laundry while we were at grandma's house in Idaho. And while he thoughtfully folded my clothes, he left them sitting on top of the washer and didn't say anything. And that's where they stayed as we pulled away for our Washington leg of the trip.

I know there are at least 2 pairs in that folded stack, and grandma is mailing them to me along with the shirts that were left behind. But I have no idea what's become of the other 3 pairs.

Honestly, it's like they jumped out of the car during one of our stops along US-2 between Sandpoint, ID and Anacortes, WA. I suspect Bungee was throwing them out the window.


Bungee-boy, trying look all innocent.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Inevitable

I had a nasty surprise the other morning. And living with Madame Barf-O-Matic, it was bound to happen. Inevitable, really. When I climb into bed at night, I usually leave my nightclothes beside the bed, and the first thing I do when I wake up is to put them back on.

I don't think clearly on the best of mornings when I wake up, so imagine my confusion when I pulled on my shorts and discovered they were stiff. I did the "where did I put my keys" pocket-pat dance trying to figure out what was going on. Finally I took them off again to discover that someone had barfed in my shorts.

Thankfully, it had dried. The gross factor was already pretty high, but it would have been really gross if it were still moist. Either way, it was just rude.

I bought a new nail polish color the other day. What do you think?


It amazes me how many people actually pay attention to my feet and commented on the paint job. Unfortunately, I've also been sporting that bandage you see there. When they ask what happened I tell them I slipped and cut myself shaving my hairy troll toes, which is a bald-faced lie because, as you can clearly see, my toes are still hairy.

Scoob got me a present (after some not so subtle hints):



The Black Crowes is my all-time favorite band and unfortunately they're going on hiatus (again) at the end of this tour. Actually my hints to Scoob have been more along the lines of "If you want to get me anything for my 40th birthday, tickets to one of the Black Crowes' San Francisco shows in December would be good. In fact, that's exactly what I want."

Since I began dropping these delicate hints he's rented the Freak n' Roll: Into the Fog DVD of one of their San Francisco concerts, he's purchased the CD from that concert, and now he's purchased the Croweology CD. I know I got rid of about 150 CDs earlier this year, but I kept all my Black Crowes CDs (and a few other choice selections) because I knew if I ever, for some reason, lost the digital copies in iTunes, I would absolutely repurchase this music.

I'm so spoiled. I'm totally blissed out over here listening to my new ear candy and seriously geeking out on the cover art. And now I've got cool new tunes to jam to on my road trip to Idaho!

Leaving on Friday morning, BTW. I can tell you ahead of time because Scoob'll be staying home for this trip. Ten days is just too much time for him to take off from work right now, and we can't leave the furry beasties alone that long and we certainly can't afford to board them for that long. Looks like I'll meet up with my dad and step-mom in Oregon and we'll take one vehicle from there.

Anyhow, things will be extra quiet around here while I'm gone.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

White Bean and Artichoke Salad

I've been having a difficult time trying to carve out some time this week to write up the second recipe I tried over the weekend, but it's so worth the wait. I thought for sure Scoob would be beaned-out by now what with the 2 attempts at Green Bean Pesto Salad and this White Bean Salad, but he actually requested some of the leftovers with dinner last night.

White Bean and Artichoke Salad


White Bean and Artichoke Salad
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
    3 cups white beans (2–15oz cans, drained and rinsed)
    1–14oz can quartered artichoke hearts (I sliced them once more for eighths.)
    ⅓ cup red bell pepper, diced
    ⅓ cup yellow bell pepper, diced
    ¼ cup onion, diced
    ½ cup celery, diced (1 stalk)
    ½ cup kalamata olives, sliced (15 or so whole olives)
    ⅓ cup packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
    1 Tbsp finely chopped mint
    1 cup packed basil leaves, finely chopped
    ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
    ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
    1 clove garlic, minced
    salt and pepper to taste

Directions
  1. Combine beans, artichoke hearts, red and yellow bell peppers, onion, celery, olives, and herbs in a large bowl. Place olive oil, vinegar, and garlic in a small sealable jar and shake to combine, then pour over the content of the bowl and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Refrigerate for several hours, or overnight, to let the flavors meld.

I used a combination of a couple recipes I found online as a jumping off point, but knew it wasn't going to be as good as what I got at the Pasta Shop. So I made a couple substitutions and additions and I really like how this turned out just as it is. I don't think I'll change a thing when I make this again.

Speaking of which, now that I've tasted it, I think I'll take this to tomorrow's barbeque instead of the Green Bean Salad. Though both are yummy. Actually, Scoob is a little resentful that I'll be taking the next batch to work. Maybe I'll have to make a double so we'll have some at home too. Either way, I'll need to stop at the store on my way home from work tonight.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Green Bean Pesto Salad

Yum. And I do mean YUM! I made this twice this past week and I still want more. Then again, I may be biased seeing as how green beans are my all-time favorite veggie. But even Scoob, who has repeatedly declared he does not like pesto, has given this the Scoob Seal of Approval.

I found I was able to make the pesto without busting out the food processor by using an immersion blender, which means not only is this painless to make, but clean up is a breeze as well. And other than bringing a pot of water to boil for blanching the beans, there's no cooking involved, so I'm filing this in the "It's Too Damn Hot to Cook" file.

I'm debating making this for a company barbeque on Thursday. What do you think?


Green Bean Pesto Salad


Green Bean Pesto Salad
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
    1 pound of fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed
    1 small clove of garlic, peeled
    1½ cups packed basil leaves
    ½ cup packed flat parsley leaves
    juice and zest from 1 lemon
    6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    ¼–½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    ⅓ cup sliced, toasted almonds
    salt and pepper to taste

Directions
  1. While bringing water to boil in a stockpot or large sauce pan, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water, trim the green beans, and place garlic, basil, parsley, lemon juice and zest, and olive oil in a food processor and blend for about 1 minute, or until pesto is smooth but slightly thick.
  2. Add Parmesan cheese and blend another 15–30 seconds. The pesto should be thick, but not stiff. If needed, add olive oil to thin it out
  3. Add green beans to boiling water and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and transfer immediately to the ice bath for about 2 minutes, then drain again.
  4. Place green beans, pesto, and almonds in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mad Libs

I spotted this sign while walking to my car after work:



 It makes an odd sort of sense just as it is, I mean of course any vehicle is going to be at the vehicle owner's expense. But it seems like something's missing.

My vote is for tickled. Unauthorized vehicles should be tickled at vehicle owners expense.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Update

Thank you, everyone, for the prayers and general good vibes sent in our direction. I talked to dad again this morning and my uncle is doing pretty good. Dad said he was coherent and able to talk on the phone, but he got winded pretty fast. The doctors are now saying he does not have a punctured lung, which is a blessing.

Dad said the doctors aren't planning on surgery but will instead tape up my uncle's ribs and keep him in the hospital for a couple days to make sure the internal swelling from his injuries won't cause complications. After that, they'll bundle him off to convalesce at home.

I'm very relieved that his injuries seem so minor in comparison to what was going through my mind last night, especially considering the stretch of road he was on. It could have been so much worse. But I don't want to dwell on that. Instead, I'll concentrate on the blessings and send my prayers out for the friends and family of the other driver, who did not survive the collision.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Scattered

Scoob treated me to dinner tonight and we decided to try a new sushi place near the grocery store since we needed to do the shopping too. The food was pretty good, and the prices just as reasonable as the sushi place we usually go to, but the atmosphere was just…odd. It felt like the guys behind the sushi bar were giving us the stink eye the whole time, well, at least until their friends came in. Then we were just ignored.

The 99¢ sake helped smooth my ruffled feathers, though. But I'm not sure it was a good idea to drink all that sake right before grocery shopping. I'm pretty sure I forgot something. I just don't know what it is. But, I did get everything I need to start experimenting with recipes to recreate the tasty lunches I had last week.

Unfortunately, there was bad news waiting for us when we got home. Dad had called and left a message that one of his brothers was in a head-on collision today. After the other vehicle hit him, my uncle's rig broke through the guardrail, overturned, and caught fire. The other driver was pronounced dead at the scene and my uncle is in the hospital with several broken ribs, a punctured lung, and lots of cuts and bruises.

Dad and his 3 brothers are all commercial truck drivers. Even though I know it's a dangerous occupation, none of them has ever been involved in a serious accident, at least not that I know of, and news of the wreck shook me quite a bit.

Scoob was in the shower when I spoke to dad. When he got out he found me somewhat preoccupied while putting away the groceries—apparently the milk does not belong in the pantry. Anyhow, still feeling a bit scatterbrained. I thought maybe if I put my thoughts down here and took a hot shower I could wind down enough to sleep. So, I'm off to do the second part of that plan.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Treats

I haven't been brown bagging it for work the last couple of days, which meant I had to leave the office and find food. I headed down the street to Pasta Shop both days and discovered some new things.




I picked up a bottle of HOTLIPS Boysenberry Soda on a whim Thursday and forgot to take a picture of the bottle before I recycled it, so I just had to go back on Friday to get another bottle. Had to I tell you.

Anyhow, the fact that it was boysenberry caught my attention because you just don't see a lot of boysenberry things outside the Pacific Northwest. When I looked into it a little more I discovered that HOTLIPS Soda is made by the same folks who run HOTLIPS Pizza in Portland, OR. Well, that explains it. It also explains why the HOTLIPS name sounded so familiar.

I also really liked the white bean and artichoke salad pictured here. It was another repeat for my Friday lunch. I also tried a green bean pesto salad, which was super yummy. It's perfect timing for me to try and recreate these at home since summer has finally arrived. It's been pretty hot here the last few days (hot by Bay Area standards, anyhow) and I'm loathe to turn on the stove or oven to cook.

Other than blanching green beans, I should be able to manage these without heating up the house. Now I just need to get to the store for some artichoke hearts and green beans; I think I have everything else I'll need on hand.