Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Using only song names from one artist, answer these questions. Try not to repeat a song title.
Pick Your Artist: Joni Mitchell
Describe yourself: Sunny Sunday
How do you feel about yourself: Both Sides Now
Describe where you currently live (where I am this minute...): California
If you could go anywhere you wanted to go: River
Your favorite form of transportation: Big Yellow Taxi
Your best friend is: Woman of Heart and Mind
Your favorite color is: Little Green
Favorite time of day: Rainy Night House
If your life were a TV show, what would it be called: Ladies of the Canyon
What is life to you: The Circle Game
What is the best advice you have to give: Court and Spark
If you could change your name, what would it be: Amelia
Your favorite food is: Banquet
Thought for the Day: Last Chance Lost
How I would like to die: Sex Kills (I couldn't resist!)
Your soul's present condition: You Turn Me On I'm a Radio
The faults you can bear: Not To Blame
My motto: Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire
I included videos of Joni that just happen to be 30 years apart... while her voice has definitely changed over time, I really like them both. She's just an amazing artist.
So do yours! Please. You can do it here in the comments or on your own blog and let me know!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
But this week, as always, I am so very grateful. Especially for:
* My husband, who is supportive in every way. I appreciate him!
* My son, who is so lovingly stumbling his way towards adolescence. The fact that he was on his way out of a hug with me when a major spill of blueberry smoothie took place this week brings a smile to my face. Now. It didn't at the time. Yikes. Just ask the boys...
* Stain remover, especially Oxy Deep by Woolite. Can I just say I wasn't sure the blueberry smoothie was going to come out, ever... but it did! I am especially grateful to whomever it is that engineered carpet fibers to repel stains.
* My sweet sweet little Bissell carpet cleaner. What a friend we have in Bissell. Aren't you just shocked that it's called the "Little Green?"
* Spring weather. We are well and truly in the springtime, even if a few chilly chilly breezes this week did bring back winter memories...
* A lovely sister-in-law who celebrated a birthday this week. We had a fun little family party complete with the first strawberries of the season. Yeah for birthdays and berries!
* Another lovely SIL who is a bucket of encouragement as we both navigate toward a world with more exercise and healthier families! We will do it! Yes we will!
* Girlfriend lunches to round out the week--sushi on Monday, steak salad at TMacs on Friday. Good way to start and end the week!
* For things to look forward to--time with dear friend C, a catch-up dinner with J in SF, and then back home and up to Canada for Grandma's 90th. Wow. A full week.
* Color. While I feel like pale-white-girl when I put color on right now (I need some of those California rays) I search for it everywhere else... here's a great web site I found (you'd love this one, Mom) Daily Color Scheme, where you can subscribe and a new color palette comes to you every day. I also found this quite fun crafty blog, Don't Look Now, with color all over the place. Makes me want to quilt, the fabrics look so fun. And then there's this little project (now complete), The Daily Card. Just love the creativity!
* Music to match the sunny days... this song is one that the young lad and I belted out on the way to school/work this morning. Catchy.
Enjoy, and have a great weekend! May it be long enough to relax and chill, and not too long (hmmm, are they ever too long?) to make you forget "that thing you do" Monday through Friday. Alas.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The things that I've done are bolded:
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyworld
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis--a very long time ago!
10. Sang a solo--also a very long time ago, and not well!
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (every summer...)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (Don't tell my boss!)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon (still a goal... Kim, are you in?)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (great family vacation!)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community (Does a Hutterite community count? I think so.)
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (way too many times, always badly. First was Total Eclipse of the Sun with a bunch of girls to celebrate a birthday. Favorite was I Will Survive at a time when it was appropriate.)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted (drawn?)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (I think this is one I'm most proud of)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (Sadly, a rite of passage, at least for me.)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox (way too late in life)
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (not so much of a baby anymore...)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit (does a divorce count?)
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
(So, notice all the things in Europe still waiting to be done?!)
Whew! Your turn now. Have fun.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Pardon the whoo-hoo food styling above. It's packed up and ready for my brown-bag lunch tomorrow!
1 pound medium-size asparagus
Combine the mustard and the mayo in a small bowl, and fold this mixture into the eggs. Then gently fold in the asparagus tips. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours before serving.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
* I'm grateful for my guys, always, through thick and thin.
* I'm grateful that winter colds are almost done. Note the almost. Little guy (makes him sound 6!) called from the nurses office over lunch time and was ready to come home. Music to my ears, though I'm sorry he's all snuffly again. Got him quickly tucked in with a book and apple slices (I always doubt MAJOR sickness when he's got an appetite... just sayin') and things are looking up.
* It's been a long week for both husband and I, so I'm ever-so-grateful for a weekend with peace and quiet and a pause for rest. Doesn't feel right to call it the "weekend cave" with the springyness and all... I need to come up with an alternative to "cave." Any ideas?
*I am grateful for Google. I know, that may sound a little odd. But the truth is, I don't know what I'd do without Google anymore. When I want to know something, it's simply the search engine I go to, every time. And I am in love with their super-creative logo collection. I am always tickled when I open up the Google search page and there's a clever workmark to greet me. Always. I have decided that being a Google logo maker would be the coolest job, ever. What fun! I want to meet the lucky person who has that job!
Classic example for today, first day of spring:
Here's how Dr. Suess's birthday was celebrated:
This could truly be called the "fridge salad"--whatever is fresh, chop chop chop and voila!
* I'm grateful for friends and family, near and far. For old friends and new-ish friends and yet unborn friends. Friends you've had so long they're like family. And luckily for me, family that are near and dear as friends.
* I'm grateful for the abilty to cry. Not every day, but as needed. I know this is going to make me sound koo-koo for cocoapuffs, but it's true. I find having a "moment" to myself (no need to inflict this on anyone else, I do have my dignity!) is a really good thing. Who needs therapy? I used to think that gal on Broadcast News was nuts. Now I know better! Or, wait, maybe I'm just nuts too...!
* I'm very grateful that I can hear birds chirping out the window, and not much else. I love the tranquility of our setting.
Chirp chirp. Happy weekend!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
And here's after!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
An added factor is that when I want polenta, I usually am not thinking about it two hours in advance. In my southern husband's vernacular, polenta = grits. White or yellow, it matters not. So grits are a common accompaniment to our weekend breakfast extravaganza. It comes together quickly, and as you can see in the picture above, it makes for a hearty lunchtime option as well.
So basic polenta/grits comes together with a very simple formula: 1 cup of water + 1/4 cup of polenta. That makes a hearty serving. I very often make it in the tried and true quadruple form: 4 cups of water + 1 cup of polenta. Bring the water to a rolling boil, add a teaspoon of salt and then whisk in the polenta. Turn the heat down to low, and whisk until it thickens. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes on my stove, and I am very comfortable just putting a lid on the pot and turning my attention elsewhere, coming back for a stir every now and again.
The variations are endless, in terms of adding cheese to the mixture. I've done blue cheese, parmesan as well as cheddar. Each is spectacularly yummy in its own way.
The bowl you see above is a hefty ladle of polenta with another of black bean soup over the top. I mixed in cheddar (generously) to the polenta, and the result was quite pleasing.
Friday, March 13, 2009
This week I'm grateful for:
* Quiet. I think I take for granted this very peaceful setting we live in. It is simply the most peaceful spot I know of, many days.
* The pheasants the wander the fields. We have pheasants and hawks aplenty. You'd think the gopher population wouldn't be so high, but we have very agile and clever gophers apparently. I'm not so grateful for them...
* Some very good laughs this week. Seth and I have been playing rock, paper, scissors on the way to school (yes, I can hear you all thinking I don't drive safely, but I do!) and for some reason it is just really funny. We both think we can "crack" the other's pattern... but he'll never crack mine!
* The male bonding time with the Wii. Good times I hear about later... whipping each other at bowling, tennis, boxing... I am very grateful for that bond.
* The opportunity to be exposed to a new hobby this week... too soon to spill the beans as there's a surprise element to it, but I had previously poo-pooed this activity, and was pleasantly surprised to a bit of fun in it. How's that for pathetically vague? Sorry.
* The longer evenings, which have been lovely and really can tease one toward springtime... looking forward to warmth accompanying the sunlight. I know, there's no pleasing the lady this week!
* As always, I am so grateful for the creative spark that seems to be in most of us, that burbles out in such beautiful ways from some in particular. I found this beautiful, fun blog this week, and another a few weeks back with gardening/food as a theme, and then this one on just gardening (in the UK!), and yet another one that is more food/poetry... I just love that creative spark that keeps ideas and thoughts moving, new ways to see things, new ways to do things... I could thumb through vi.sualize.us for hours! Or stumble!
* Health, health, health, so grateful for health. I know this is basically asking for the gods of colds and flues to visit again, but I am so glad that we are all better and doing well. There is a lot of illness near and far, and my heart is with a sick aunty in Roseburg right now, hoping she gets better. You are in our prayers, dear aunty!
* A purple pedicure. And a good friend to visit with during... this one took a while. Not the most efficient operation, but a good way to kick off the weekend.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Not to mention we've been eating down the pantry (but the boys haven't noticed!), so what fun is there in blogging about that? (You wouldn't believe some of the slapped together meals that have been taking place around here. Today for lunch I had some leftover fried grits and a yogurt. Whoo-hoo. But tomorrow there WILL be grocery shopping. I need my coffee creamer! And cheese. And apples. And bananas. The list will be long.)
Well, to top it off, apparently figs are an abomination and doom nations. I might as well just end it now. I am quite curious where exactly a flier like this would get handed out? But I'll leave that to your fertile minds... (click here for a more readable version complete with chapter and verse!)
And wish me luck on that gratitude list this week. I'm sensing a short one...
Sunday, March 8, 2009
It's not much of a secret: I have a grocery store "habit" and it's been all too easy the past couple of years to overstock--"just in case" a craving strikes... It's a leftover from the days of catering, when the walk-in was stocked with just about everything I like to eat--and there is nothing like the air circulation of a walk-in refrigeration unit to keep things fresher longer, so no waste (or, less waste). So, I have developed a habit of indulging the "I want what I want, when I want it," in regards to food at least. It's rather embarrassing to admit how stocked up we are.
I did a little scope of the freezer and fridge(s) this morning and am convinced we can do this, easily. I found some leftover eggplant parmesan, chili, perogies, soup, bread, even a cake (!)... the list goes on! And that doesn't count the pantry of cans and boxes of pasta... At the very least we'll raise our consciousness about what we eat, what we need to replenish more frequently (breakfast smoothie ingredients, especially apples and bananas) and what we don't. I know this week will be a bit different because Seth is with us--nothing like the eating machine that is a 12-year-old to remind you to pick up a few extra groceries!
Wish me luck. I haven't even told the boys yet. Let's see if they notice...
Last but not least is the husband's fun take! Methinks "courageous" and "Jedi" sound just about right!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Anyway, I almost forgot about this final hoo-ha episode of Top Chef, but when I saw that it had been recorded on our dvr I was quite pleased. I always enjoy the recap and the video montages, and of course, the fan favorite! This episode was no exception, and actually went a long way toward reminding me why I enjoyed this season so much, in spite of my recent whining about the winner...
These cheftestants really enjoyed competing with each other, almost all of the time. Sure there were some tiffs and spats and Jamie didn't appreciate the love Stefan had (still has!) for her, but there weren't really any of those over the top bleep-fest-shouting-matches as in seasons past. I remember noting that when they helped each other out a number of times--either sharing ingredients or helping finish a fellow chef's dish. It seemed more collegial than in seasons past, and some of the previous "unseen" footage underscored that.
And of course, it was fun to see the video tributes to the finalists, and other bits about the birthday curse, Carla's kookiness, who was the biggest crier, and of course, the whole Hosea-Leah romance. Enough already. My favorite video was the bromance between Fabio and Stefan, of course, and all the kissing of Stefan's bald head! I don't think I buy Stefan's rather weak, "I'm relieved I didn't win" defense. Yeah, right. Because that's why you put yourself through that whole ordeal, to come in second place. Sounds about right. Hmmm.
Oh, and the other thing that pleasantly surprised me was how un-annoying Toby Young came across. Fairly mellow, a little tongue in cheek, and having a good sense of humor about how he'd been perceived so far this year. I had to give him a few points for that. The editors undoubtedly had a lot to do with how snarky he came across at the judges' table.
In the end, the lovely outcome that Fabio was the fan favorite made my day--not much suspense there, as he was pretty much the only one in major contention who hadn't had a video tribute yet. But still, he was an endearing candidate who seemed to have a good grasp on his cooking, his attitude and what it meant to compete. Kudos to him! $10K is nothing to sniff at... although maybe Stefan is glad he wasn't voted fan favorite? Ha. The way he was portrayed, I'm pretty sure he wasn't in the top 5, even.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Happened upon a trailer for a movie soon to be released on dvd and thought... after the grim post of yesterday, maybe a little cheer is in order? This may be a little over the top for some (again, you know who you are, I don't like to name names Jen), but I think it's going to be a jolly good spot of British humour.
I've put the rifle away for the moment even though I heard from three separate people today that the next 10 days are supposed to bring snow, rain and freezing temperatures. Bother, as Pooh would say. I suppose I could check the forecast myself, but it seemed so much more dramatic: Three. Separate. People. Yes, apparently I'm not the only one weighed down by the gray.
So I'm eating dried mangoes while I type (little slices of heaven) and about to go roast some butternut squash. Both foods qualify as sunshine in my world, so consider me shaking my little fist at Mother Nature and moving on. So there.
Monday, March 2, 2009
For more of the creative joy of the card above, see A Beautiful Revolution.
I have always liked eggplant parmesan. Eggplant parmagiana. Whatever you want to call it. Oozy goey slices of cheese between slices of fried eggplant. What's not to love? When I was a kid, my dad was not a big eggplant fan, apparently. He has been a late converter to the delights of the aubergine, so while the parents were visiting this last week, I thought I'd make a batch of eggplant parmesan. That thought handily coincided with some magnificent specimens at the local grocery store!
And of course I have to make it more healthfully than the eggplant parmesan of yesteryear. I just can't do the whole fried thing and feel good about it anymore. I can let OTHER people fry my supper (the next night we had burgers and shakes and onion rings from the famed IceBurg), but I just can't bring myself to do it... just trying to keep the universe properly balanced on the grease scale, I suppose. So this is my healthy-ish version.
3 medium eggplants, sliced to 1/3-inch rounds
Salt the slices lightly and let sit in a colander for 15 minutes or so. There are those who say to salt it to remove any bitterness, and those who say to salt it to get rid of excess moisture. Either way, I salt it, let it sit, and then rinse it off (so how does that help with excess moisture? Don't ask, just do.) and pat it dry.
3 eggs, beaten, mixed with 1 T milk
Heat a skillet or frying pan to medium heat. I use a nonstick electric skillet, so the need for additional oil is minimal. Use olive or vegetable oil as needed. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, then dredge in breadcrumbs. Cook until both sides are browned nicely (see photo above!).
I have concocted my own homemade marinara in the past, but this time we went straight to the jarred variety and had it easy and still flavorful. Layer the cooked eggplant slices with marinara, grated mozzarella and parmesan in a large baking dish (9 x 13), and top the mixture with more cheese. As you can see from the photo below, I used my REALLY large Le Creuset baking dish and even though I did three layers of eggplant and would normally have been overflowing a 9 x 13 pan, it maybe came half way up the side of this pan!
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the entire mixture is bubbling and the cheese is melted.
Serve with a lovely mixed green salad and crusty bread! And enjoy the leftovers, too. This one is even better warmed the next day.