Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! I'll catch you in 2009!
P.S. Now I really want to watch Charlie Brown's Christmas. I wonder if there's anywhere I can walk to buy it?
P.P.S. I leave for my Caribbean cruise tomorrow. So, I need to revel in the snow and Christmas spirit today! I'm snowed in for the 7th day in a row!
- Mail carriers
- Bus drivers
- Plow drivers
- Individuals and businesses who shovel their sidewalks
- People who help strangers when their cars get stuck
- Coffee shop and grocery store employees who made it to work through the snow
African Peanut Stew
1 Onion, chopped
2-3 Garlic cloves, diced
1 t Coriander
1/2 t Turmeric
1/2 t Cinnamon
1/2 t Ginger
1/4 t Cumin
4 sm. Kohlrabies or parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 Zucchini, chopped (In the winter, I buy frozen, chopped zucchini.)
2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup raisins, dark or golden
1/2 cup Couscous
14 oz can chopped tomatoes, with juice or 5 fresh tomatoes, chopped
14 oz can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup peanut butter
3-5 cups broth or water
Dry roasted peanuts for garnish
Heat about 1 T of vegetable oil in a large pot. Add onion and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add spices and saute until fragrant. Add fresh vegetables and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Start with 3 cups of water, and add more as needed. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve with dry roasted peanuts sprinkled on top.
The farmers market!
One of my favorite vendors. They made it here from Colville. Now that's tough.
They skied to the market!
My hill today. There were lots of people sledding.
I'm not kidding when I say that it's steep and very slippery. There was a new sign up today, to warn drivers about attempting it.
Update: You can view all my Seattle snow pictures on my Flickr page.
What do you do when you're snowed (iced) in?
-Drink a lot of coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
-Finish Christmas cards and knitting.
-Watch the original Star Wars Trilogy.
-Follow the updates on my neighborhood blog, Cliff Mass Weather Blog and the Seattle Storm Team Twitter.
-Have a girl's night for one - meaning, drink a glass of the pink, girly wine I had sitting around.
-Go shoe shopping online.
-Take walks in the snow.
-Clean (I haven't gotten to this yet, but I have high hopes for my productivity today.)
-Daydream about the Caribbean cruise I'll be on next week.
The view from my window.
I mentioned that the street in front of my house was treacherous. I tried to get the police to close the street, but no one answered the phone when I called! Finally, someone took matters into their own hands and put up a sign.
On my way to lunch I saw this man on a park bench with all his belongings, hunched over to try to keep out the snow and wind. It made me very sad, to say the least, thinking about what it would be like to have nowhere to go. I wish we didn't live in a world where this still exhists.
But, all the same, the snow charmed me.
Sigh . . .
I'm trying to learn to like cooked greens. I had some leftover kale from my CSA box and made this. So good! And easy. And healthy.
I went to Urban Craft Uprising and met the lovely ladies who create Cakespy and Posie Gets Cozy.
I made my first cheese ball. I received rave reviews.
I decided to give handmade and homemade gifts this year, which is nice in theory but is causing me a good amount of stress. I have a lot of knitting to do! I'll post pictures after Christmas.
I just got back from a work trip to DC, and I stayed through the weekend to visit with my dear friend Kristin. We had an incredibly fun, inspiring and educational weekend. My favorite kind!
First, we visited the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and its incredible section of American Folk Art - which I just love! All these people who had an artistic gift and expressed it using everyday materials and mediums. How could they ever know that the dress or windmill they made would end up in the Smithsonian? We also enjoyed the Frank Gohlke photo exhibit and an exhibit showcasing the parallels between Ansel Adams and Georgia O'Keefe.
We also visited the National Portrait Gallery, which is kind of fascinating. We saw an exhibit of portraits of influential women. As someone in advertising, I especially enjoyed the Posters as Portraiture exhibit. Here are a couple favorites:
We saw the movie Milk. I highly recommend it. Such a moving tribute to an incredible man and his story, and so many parallels to events happening today.
On Sunday morning we went to the National Cathedral to attend church. I was so impressed by the organ music, the choir, the pastor and, of course, the architecture and stained glass windows.
But even more uplifting was the forum beforehand with Tavis Smiley. I’m a huge fan of his now – such a positive, uplifting message. If you have some extra time I highly recommend listening to the forum online. (FYI – The National Cathedral is totally embracing technology. So cool!)
A couple other highlights from DC:
**Sorry about the funky formatting. I just can't figure out blogger sometimes.
I've always felt grateful that the focus of our holidays and birthdays was not on expensive, over-the-top gifts. Our gifts were always given with love and thoughtfulness, and many times were homemade. And I remember always being very happy and grateful after holidays and birthdays.
But I know that often it feels like this holiday is all about shopping . . . buying . . . stressing. I read a post today by a blogger that set a nice tone for the season. Here's part of it:
On Friday morning, a 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death as a mob of shoppers broke down the door to the store to get a jump on their holiday shopping. Hundreds of people stepped on another human being's body in order to save some money on gifts that may be forgotten within a few days or months of being given . . .
But I'm wondering. I'm just wondering what this all means. What does it say about joy and festivity and generosity and our economy and humanity? What does it mean when people just buy things because they're there -- just because they can -- or that a man can be stepped on by hundreds of people without their noticing?
I don't know what the answer is. It's more complicated than one -- or many -- mothers saying, "buy less, do more" through the voices of blogs. But we could start there. We could start with our own homes, and on our own websites, and we could buy less. We could commit to handmade gifts, or we could just commit to simplifying one aspect of the holiday. We could pause before buying something and just ask if we really want it, or if the recipient will like and use it. I'm not calling for a "hard times" Christmas. But I really do think -- I really do believe -- that simple can truly be just as wonderful and magical as elaborate, and that a few carefully-chosen gifts can be much better than stacks of packages to open just for the sake of opening them.
You can read the entire post here.
I doesn't really warrant a recipe. She just used chicken stock, leftover turkey, a mix of wild rice, carrots, celery and maybe some onions and herbs. Yum!
When we got back to our cars we had an extra treat - watching a chocolate lab leap off an eight foot high dock into the lake. He was playing fetch and you could tell he having the best day of his life! I took the video with my phone, so it's pretty hard to see.
I found about 10 soup recipes that sounded good, but ended up going with this one to start because, to me, it sounded delicious. (I know a lot of people would think it sounds gross. But, people, get on the train. Beets are tasty!)
Last week's soup was so quick, and this one is the opposite. It takes a while since it requires cooking beans. But, I feel like I just ate a bowlful of a lovely fall day.
Beet Soup with Three Legumes
1/2 cup red kidney beans, soaked 4 hours or overnight*
4 medium beets, peeled and diced
1/3 cup lentils
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 cups chopped beet greens or other greens (I used kale.)
Salt and pepper
1 bunch scallions chopped, including greens
2 cups coarsely chopped spinach
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
*I assume you could use canned kidney beans, which would cut the cooking time considerably.
3 T butter
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/4 t turmeric
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped mint (I used about 1 T of dried mint.)
1/2 cup yogurt
Drain the beans, cover them with 5 cups water, and boil hard in a medium pot for 10 minutes. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, until soft, about 1 1/4 hours. Set aside.
Put the beets, lentils and 7 cups water in a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Add the kidney beans with 2 cups of their liquid, the chickpeas, greens, and 2 teaspoons salt; simmer until the greens are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, spinach, and parsley; cook until the spinach is wilted and bright green. Taste for salt and turn off the heat.
For the garnish, melt the butter in a small skillet over lowe heat. Add the onion, turmeric, cayenne, and mint; cook until the onion is soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle the soup into bowls. Add a spoonful of garnish and yogurt to each bowl.
Not only do I like the way this and other cacti look, but they're hard to kill. Which is good, because sometimes I just forget to water plants for, oh, maybe a month. (I know, that's kind of bad.)
Simple Tomato Soup
2 T olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
3 cloves garlic diced
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes (I used Safeway Organic brand.)
1 13 oz. can tomato sauce (I used Safeway Organic brand.)
herbs: basil, thyme, oregano (whatever you have)
milk (I used organic whole milk)
- Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are soft and transparent.
- Add tomatoes with juice and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Turn to low, cover and simmer for 20-45 minutes.
- Puree in blender or food processor.
- Add milk as desired. I like my soup to be a creamy tomato color, so added about a cup.
- Add salt, pepper, herbs and honey. (I added about a teaspoon of honey, just to see if I liked it. I couldn't really tell it was there.)
Breathe in understanding.
Breathe in compassion.
Breathe in love.
I thought it was a nice way to let go of some of those negative emotions that we hold onto so tightly at times and focus on the positive feelings we want to fill ourselves with.
- When Harry Met Sally
- Original Star Wars Trilogy
- Bridget Jones's Diary
- National Lampoon's Family Vacation
- Dirty Dancing
- The Sound of Music
Does anyone have a desert island movie that you'd suggest I check out?
Despite all this, I've set a goal to run Bloomsday, a 12k in my hometown of Spokane. Right now, I can only run for about ten minutes until my IT Bands start giving me problems, but I think the key is to focus on other activities that will restore my legs, and entire body. That will help balance out the wear and tear of running.
So, I've set a few goals for myself this winter:
- Go to yoga at least twice a week
- Focus on biking and swimming
- Take time to build strength, mainly through weight-lifting
I did pretty well this week, although I have a long way to go. But, I think I can do it! Bloomsday, here I come!
Just in case you're curious:
I saw this recipe in the Seattle Times and tried it out this week. I loved that it involved mushrooms and sweet potatoes! I've been eating it all week - it's hearty, but still healthy. I used canned beans, but it would probably be even better by starting with dried beans.
1/2 pound dried black beans, rinsed and soaked 4-6 hours or overnight
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 red bell peppers, cut into medium dice
1 pound mixed chopped mushrooms (oyster, crimini, portobello)
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 can (28-ounce) whole tomatoes, chopped, with half of the can's liquid
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
Cooked black beans (from above)
1 can (14.5-ounce) pinto beans
2 cups of vegetable broth, if using canned black beans instead of dried black beans
Sour cream, for garnish
Shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish
1. For the beans: Pour the beans plus their soaking liquid into a stockpot, and add additional water to cover by 1-2 inches. Add the smashed garlic and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 1 hour, until the beans have softened but aren't fully cooked through (they'll continue to cook in the chili). Remove the garlic and bay leaves and discard.
2. For the chili: Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until onions have softened slightly. Add jalapeno and red peppers, and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes.
3. Add mushrooms, and sauté until mushrooms have softened and released some of their juices, another 5 minutes.
4. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, salt and black pepper, and stir until the seasonings are incorporated into the mixture. Add the tomatoes and liquid, sweet potatoes and cooked black beans plus 3 cups of bean-cooking liquid (add vegetable broth or water if you don't have enough). Stir well to combine and simmer over medium-low heat for about 1-1 ½ hours, until sweet potatoes have softened but still retain their shape, liquid has thickened, and beans are fully cooked through. If you are using canned black beans, cooking time will be a bit shorter.
5. Add pinto beans plus their liquid in the last 30 minutes of cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Serve with chopped green onions, sour cream, and shredded cheese, for garnish.
Notes: If you want to use canned black beans instead of dried black beans for this recipe, that's fine, and it will cut down significantly on the cooking time. Use about three 14.5-ounce cans, saving one can's worth of the bean liquid, and draining and rinsing the other two. When you add the beans and bean liquid, also add about 2 cups of vegetable broth.
So much to love about this city! The sun was shining, the leaves were changing and I was stuck indoors most of the time. I did have a little time to go for a morning walk along the lake, eat some Kopps custard and Sharzad falafel, and drink some Lakefront Beer.
When I posted this, I forgot to mention that we had a delicious meal from Amaranth Bakery & Cafe at 3329 W. Lisbon. Anyone from Milwaukee knows this is not exactly a thriving area of the city, and the owners wanted to start a business in order to offer healthy, affordable food in the neighborhood. They offer homemade bread, soup and salads in a cozy, comfortable space. Keep it up Amaranth!
Oh, the one place I didn't get to visit is the Northern Chocolate Co. Best chocolate in the U.S. - I have not doubt. And I can't help but love the owner. Next time . . .
Mountain Dome Winery
Hands down, my favorite winery was the family-run Mountain Dome Winery, where they also make Grande Ronde label wines. We arrived about five minutes after the tasting room had closed. When I stuck my head in the door to ask if they wouldn't mind giving us a couple tastes, the owners were just pouring a Saturday evening glass. But they welcomed us in, made sure we tried all the best wines, and even gave us a tour and tutorial in winemaking.
Mountain Dome specializes in sparkling wines, and every one we tried was absolutely delicious. I bought the non-vintage Brut (pictured) and my mom bought the Cuvee Forte. I also bought the Grande Ronde Cellar Red, which they said pairs well with Italian and Thai food.
Oh, and it's set on top of a lovely hill overlooking the Spokane Valley.
Walters Fruit Ranch
What's not to love? An apple orchard in the fall, complete with a tractor ride, fresh pie and cider, and caramel apples. Sign me up! I'm not sure, but I think this orchard is also family-run. We went a little crazy: apples, apple cider, apple butter, caramel apple and pumpkin pie. I hope I can go back next year and actually pick the apples myself. We just didn't have time this year.
Another good one! Their table red, white and rose were all winners (and they come in cute bottles!). I bought the pink, fruite Rose Table Wine to bring to a girls night sometime.
All the details on Greenbluff can be found on their Web site. Anyone up for pumpkin picking?
*It was my mom's birthday!
It's the American Library Association's Banned Books Week. As an intense lover of books, it's a good day to say "Boo Yah!" to those darn censors and go read a banned book. A few recommendations from the list of commonly banned books:
- The Color Purple
- Harry Potter
- Are you there God? It's me, Margaret.
- Brave New World
- Bridge to Terabithia
- The Giver
- How to Eat Fried Worms
- The Great Gatsby
- Their Eyes Were Watching God
- James and the Giant Peach
Did I miss any other good ones?
You can learn more about the history of censorship and book burning at NPR.
When we started, we tested ourselves to see how many we could do in a row. I coud do six pushups. SIX. So, I had a long way to go.
Well, I'm happy to report that on Monday we gathered to give ourselves a final test. And . . . I did it! I DID 100 PUSHUPS!
It was tough, and it took a lot of commitment and sweat. But, if I can do it after starting at six (SIX!), then anyone can do it.
Oh, and I've decided to reward myself with a t-shirt.
Nerdy Confession: I love fonts and I'm very particular about which fonts I use. It all started in my days of studying Publishing & Printing Arts at PLU. Certain fonts just seem to pop up everywhere - totally cliche and over-used. A perfect example of this is Comic Sans, which I HATE. And I was reminded today about this great Web site, Ban Comic Sans. You can print out images and put them up to fight the scourge of comic sans. Totally dorky. And I LOVE it!
Lots of strawberries at the University Farms Market this weekend!
Fall is coming! How do I know? Pumpkins!
Why in the world would anyone take Swamp Trail? We went up Tiger Mountain.
Do the Puyallup Fair!
I mean, really? So cute.
Lemon Meringue. Pecan. Yum.
This guy shot out of the rocket. Pretty cool. I'd kind of like to do it too.
I'm not condoning smoking, but I thought the chainsaw carvers were pretty cool.
OK, and just for fun: