I miss this place!

I miss coming here and sharing my little thoughts and discoveries. I have lots of ideas stored up for posts, so I'm going to try to be better about posting in the coming months.

For now, a few things to share as we head into Christmas:

Christmas snuck up SO FAST this year! I barely got my shopping done, and most people I mail presents to will get them late. I'm aiming for New Year's cards this year. I am, however, honoring our last week of advent by dressing festively every day. I've got my snowflake sweater on (which, BTW, I've owned since high school!!!) and my reindeer sweater lined up for tomorrow.

I'm taking the train home to Spokane tomorrow, so let's hope it goes smoothly there are no delays with the tracks! Last year it was a blast - very festive and boozy! I'm taking along some knitting, two books (Just Kids by Patti Smith, and #4 of the Blue Bloods YA vampire series) and renting a couple movies on iTunes (Girl Who Played with Fire and Kick Ass)

Check out this adorable article about a woman who has been illustrating Hallmark cards for 55 years. She thinks cards have a place in our lives because "people like something they can save." I agree!

Pete and I just finished watching the original Star Wars trilogy - which never gets old - but I just found out there was a Star Wars Holiday Special, which looks truly awful. Apparently, Princess Leia sings. Why??

While I really didn't do much holiday cooking this year, I might still try to make Panettone before the new year.

The Onion gives us an amazing round up of cheap toys. Please at least read about the Music Phone and Happy Time Buslike Vehicle .

Some hilarious holiday eating tips - I plan to follow all of them!

What's the best Christmas gift? A new baby! My friends just had their first baby, and he's the cutest thing. Welcome to the world Porter - there's a lot of love here for you!

I'm celebrating an early Christmas with Pete tonight before we go to our respective hometowns - we've got pot roast in the oven and wrapped gifts under the tree. Yea!


Watch with glittering eyes

So much to blog about, so little time these day. I will get back to it soon, I hope. But, for now, I leave you with a quote from the beloved author Roald Dahl.

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.

Thank you Mr. Dahl for helping me believe in magic, the uncanny and the unlikely every time I read one of your delightful books!

Thanks Erika! Via.


More beauty in this life than the world could bear

I recently finished Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. I had to say, it took me a long time to get into it. And, I almost gave up a few times. But the end of the book was really beautiful, and I ended up being really touched by it - and even crying on the bus. I just wanted to share a quote from one of the female characters in the book. She's near the end of her life, and trying to comfort her daughters as they prepare to lose her:

Gloria laughed at them and said that she'd overtaken grief a long time ago, that she was tired of everyone wanting to go to heaven, nobody wanting to die. The only thing worth grieving over, she said, was that sometimes there was more beauty in this life than the world could bear.

I was still thinking about this scene the next morning, when I heard Story Corps come on. And, could so clearly see the connection: Robert Patterson and his wife Karen. So beautiful and sad at the same time.


A Seven-Day Virus

Something just knocked me out for the count last Wednesday. Sore throat, fever, chills, body aches. I went to the doctor because I thought I had strep throat. No, not strep throat, she told me. Probably just the virus that's going around right now; it lasts seven days.

Oh, good, I don't have strep. Wait, WHAT!!?? SEVEN DAYS?? There's no way I'll be sick for that long, I'll just take it easy and feel better by the weekend.


I'm now on my seventh day - and while I'm still stuck at home, I'm no longer a prisoner to the couch. I can actually do some work, sit up and move around.

If you should happen to fall ill with one of the many bugs going around, here's what I recommend:

  • Catch up with your favorite shows online (for me: Top Chef, Project Runway, 30 Rock [Modern Family didn't come out until today])
  • Fresh flowers - They really lift the spirits when you still feel like absolute crap on Day 5 of the virus. (Thanks Pete!)
  • Fresh air - Even though I couldn't actually do anything, it felt good to sit outside or in front of an open window.
  • Antihistamines/Decongestants - They are your friend. They help you sleep. And, they also help prevent all the gross sludge congested in your head from coming out of your eye ducts . . . not that I'm saying that happened to me . . . . because that would be disgusting.
  • Stieg Larsson books - Seriously, it would have been a much more boring week without The Girl Who Played With Fire. I was so sad when it ended! At least I still have one more book to look forward to.
  • Liquids - Green & Lemon tea, Squirt & 7 Up, water and lots of soup (see below)
  • Whiskey - No, really. I don't like whiskey normally, but a tiny little amount in the evening felt really good on my sore throat.
  • Ice Cream - Pete and I found the perfect combination of coconut ice cream, mango sherbet and lychee sherbet (you can get them all at Uwajimaya)
  • And, of course, lots and lots of rest.
Simple Survival Soups

Lentil Soup
Saute 1 onion, 3-4 heads garlic, 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks in butter. Add about 1 1/2 cups diced potatoes, a bag of lentils, 2 boxes broth, salt, pepper, 2-3 bay leaves and any spices you like (parsley, oregano, etc.). Simmer for about 45 minutes. Add more broth or water if it looks like it needs it.

I basically doubled this recipe and have been eating it all week. Very filling and comforting. I usually add ham or a ham hock, but I couldn't find any at the market on the corner, and I wasn't up for going any farther to search for it.

Potato Leek Soup
Saute 4-6 chopped leeks, 2 cups diced potatoes in butter. Add salt and pepper, and 1 box of broth. Simmer for 20 minutes. (I added a little cream because had some in the fridge.)

Seriously, it's that easy. I had never made this kind of soup before, but it was delicious, and took almost zero time.

I recommend both of these soups with quick drop biscuits - I either use the recipe from Better Homes & Gardens or Joy of Cooking, or this time I just used Bisquick because we had some around.

Stay healthy everyone!


Trippy Music

Since I shared my Queen obsession a couple weeks ago, I thought I'd post about a totally awesome, amazing band I heard at Bumbershoot. I didn't know anything about Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros before the concert, except that they sang the very catchy, fun "Home" song:

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros "Home" from Edward Sharpe on Vimeo.

We had to wait for quite a while for the concert to start, so I learned about the band from the fans around me. For instance, the lead singer - Alex Ebert - is from LA, was addicted to drugs, went to rehab and then wrote a book about a modern-day messianic figure named Edward Sharpe. He fell in love with the female lead singer, and they went on to form The Magnetic Zeros. The group toured the country and lived together for a year in an old school bus.

The first thing you notice about this group in person is that there are A LOT of them! I think I counted 2 singers, 2 keyboardists, 1 piano player, 2 drummers and 4 guitar players. And the lead singer walks onto the stage looking like an honest-to-goodness modern Jesus. Barefoot, in a dirty, ripped suit and long brown hair. In short - this band is a trip! But, a really fun trip. I will definitely go see them again if they come back to Seattle and HIGHLY recommend them to anyone who has the chance to see them. Pete and I have been listening to their album for a couple weeks. Enjoy!

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros "Desert Song" from benjamin kutsko on Vimeo.



Pete and I moved this week. Hence the title of this post. I've been so distracted and tired that I wore two different colored shoes to work, and backed into a car in the liquor store parking lot. Geesh!

We combined households and are now living together (!) for the first time. It's been physically and mentally tiring, but so far the actual living-together thing is going well. We moved a lot of heavy things together, assembled furniture and made a trip to Ikea all without fighting or getting annoyed with each other. That's pretty good in my book!

During this period, I've developed two pretty serious obsessions:
Goodwill - I found an awesome solid wood sideboard from the 1960s and a set of wooden drawers at the Ballard Goodwill the other night. And, since then I've been doing a drive-by anytime I'm nearby to see if they have anything else good. You have to be fast, though! I had to stand with my hands on both pieces of furniture so that no one else would buy them! It was stressful - but also exciting! I'm now determined to check out the Goodwill Outlet near my office, although it's apparently very smelly and they recommend you wear gloves to sort through the bins. Also, bedbugs are back big-time, so we'll have to be careful about what we buy.

Queen - Have you listened to Queen lately? Well, you should. Because they are awesome. NPR did a story on them this week, and I've been listening to them non-stop at work since then. It's really been helping me to keep me energy up during a week when I'd much rather be taking a nap most afternoons.

I REALLY wish I could have gone to a queen concert!

Don't you wish men still wore white pants like these? I kind of love them.


Friday Fun

Have a great weekend everyone! The sun is shining in Seattle, and I'm hoping to do some outdoor yoga in the Olympic Sculpture Park tomorrow morning and bike out to Redhook Brewery on Sunday. Lovely!

I will leave you with this - a very adorable video of a Corgi in a life jacket, doing belly flops.

And, a sweet (pun!) story about some guys in Ballard spreading some sugary love at Cupcake Royale. Here's the story from MyBallard:

“Coolest dudes ever!” The Cupcake Royale Facebook page states, “These lovely gentleman just came in to our Ballard cafe, threw down a one hundred dollar bill, and told our baristas to buy the next customers who walked in the door thier coffee and cupcakes until the hundred was gone. Wow! You guys rock!”

How nice is that? How will you spread the love this weekend?

P.S. Also officially purchasing the wedding dress this weekend. Eek!


A Wonderful Weekend

We had such a fun Seattle weekend! My mom and youngest sister were in town, along with Pete's mom from Madison, to do some wedding planning and dress shopping. And, guess what? We found the perfect dress! I really love it and it's actually very affordable. I'll do a longer post about the whole dress shopping process later this week.

But, in addition to having fun playing dress-up, we also made a visit to Golden Gardens and then went down the road to Ray's Cafe for a lovely sunset dinner. We walked around Green Lake. We made it to TWO farmers markets, where we managed to eat quite a few crepes and quesadillas, and TWO community gardens. We also sampled from Mighty-O and Cupcake Royale, and had an amazing lunch at Veraci Pizza (who we're considering for catering our wedding.)

I didn't want the weekend to end!

Love for Seattle:
More amazing Seattle photography, including the photo above, from Ben Blood.

The Washington Secretary of State has a delightful online shop (who knew??) I bought some of the notecards with vintage Washington photos and advertisements.

Apparently, Washington has amazing online archives, which actually win awards. Again, who knew??? Their news page is kind of fun and interesting.

Wedding Planning Weekend

Well, it's oddly foggy in Seattle this morning. But I have faith that the sun will come out by the time my mom (and Pete's mom!) get into town later today for a wedding planning weekend. Besides the mandatory dress shopping, I'm hoping we have time to hit up the Phinney Ridge Farmers Market tonight, take a walk at Green Lake, eat some Molly Moon's ice cream and Mighty-O Doughnuts, stop by Golden Gardens to scope out our reception site, go to church to scope out the ceremony site and maybe grab a meal at Oddfellows. Whew!

Plus, we're going to eat Veraci Pizza, since we're considering having them bring in their pizza oven cart to cater the wedding.

I've been cleaning like crazy and trying to get my little apartment ready for house guests. So, how about a little Friday serenity in the form of a Longfellow poem I saw posted on The Wednesday Chef this week? A good reminder to slow down and enjoy our summertime.

Then followed that beautiful season,
Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new-created in all the freshness of childhood.
Peace seemed to reign upon earth, and the restless heart of the ocean
Was for a moment consoled. All sounds were in harmony blended.
Voices of children at play, the crowing of cocks in the farm-yards,
Whir of wings in the drowsy air, and the cooing of pigeons,
All were subdued and low as the murmurs of love, and the great sun
Looked with the eye of love through the golden vapors around him;
While arrayed in its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow,
Bright with the sheen of the dew, each glittering tree of the forest
Flashed like the plane-tree the Persian adorned with mantles and jewels.

(P.S. Check out the link to her blog for some good, quick meals using toast. I had the spicy salmon for dinner last night because I was cleaning and didn't want to get any dishes dirty.)


Reasonable Shopping

I've been thinking quite about about my personal shopping and consumer habits. It started when I hauled three HUGE bags of clothing and shoes to Goodwill and didn't even notice a dent in my closet and drawers. And then, I read an interesting article in the New York Times about how women are trying to address their personal shopping habits. None of their solutions seemed quite right for me, but they did help me to have my own brainstorming session.

After all that thinking, I believe I've come up with a reasonable resolution to test out. Here's the deal: I will only buy new clothing if something I own actually needs replacing (i.e. gets a stain, rips, wears out). Now, I know most of you probably already adhere to something akin to this. But, I'm always drawn by the siren call of sales and just the fun of having something new to wear. I just keep adding to my wardrobe, and I really don't need all of this stuff.

I will try this out for three months, and if it goes well I may extend it to six. And, I'm blogging about it so that there will be some degree of personal accountability. Here's to being a little more responsible and thrifty!


Fun Stuff for Friday

Happy Friday everyone! I'm headed up to a cabin outside Bellingham with friends this weekend, and can't wait for the festivities to begin!

I've made some delightful and interesting discoveries lately, and thought I'd share.

Books - I'm not into the Twilight books (actually, I think they're terrible - don't hurt me for saying this!), but I do really enjoy the whole vampire trend. It's kind of fun and scary and campy. I watched True Blood for a while, but it got a little too creepy and I'm a little too much of a scaredy-cat. But, I have recently breezed through the first two books from the young adult Blue Bloods series. So fun! It's about hot young socialites in New York that happen to be - you guessed it - VAMPIRES!

Food - I'm loving Morningstar Farms Veggie Sausage Patties. Pete's family brought them to the lake, and I think I like them better than actual breakfast meat. You can get them at Trader Joes.

Shopping and clothes - I did a huge purge of clothing and shoes last week. I just felt overwhelmed with the amount of STUFF in my closet and drawers, and wanted to pare it down to the items I really love and wear often. It felt so good to drop everything off at Goodwill. Of course, I then promptly hit the the Nordstrom sale. I don't feel too bad about it, since I usually get a lot of wear out of the few items I buy at Anniversary Sale. But, overall I've been realizing that my urge to shop is a little stronger than I'd like. I was thinking of taking 1-3 months off, and not buying anything new. Then, the New York Times published an article on taming the urge to buy. Some good motivation and ideas in this! Some people commit to only wearing six articles of clothing for an entire month (although, I don't really see the point of this) or not buying any clothes for a year (maybe a little much for me).

TV - Have you been watching Parks and Recreation? It has been cracking me up lately. And I do work for the government now, so I feel a little more loyal to the show. I happened to see the episode where the staff goes hunting. Hilarious. Seriously, watch it. Amy Poeler is so great in this clip.

More TV - How much do I love PBS? A lot. I even became a member! I'm really into all their mystery shows (most of them BBC) because they're interesting without being absurdly violent and disturbing (I'm talking to you, Law & Order SVU!) Plus they have America's Test Kitchen, Tavis Smiley, Antiques Roadshow, Newshour . . . I could go on. I saw an incredible documentary on Kenya called Good Fortune that talked about the challenges and complexities of outsiders trying to come in and provide aid.

A little more TV - Did anyone watch American, The Story of Us on the History Channel? I think I'll have to get it from Netflix. I took an American history class this spring at the community college, and I'd be interested to see how they put this series together.

Wedding stuff - Let me tell you, there are a million wedding blogs and website. Talk about overload! Some of them can really make you feel inadequate and lazy - but I've just stopped following those ones. A couple highlights: Wedding on Wheels!! and a truly lovely Scottish wedding (I don't know, maybe I just love mist, lace and plaid?).

Disguises - A downloadable disguise kit! I feel like you could make a fun photo booth at a party with this. Kind of like the one at a wedding Pete and I recently attended.

Have a fantastic weekend. Get some sun and fresh air! Read a book or magazine! Eat some fresh fruits and veggies! (That's the recipe for success, I tell you.)


Caesar Salad

I had a few heads (hearts?) of Romaine left over from a barbecue I hosted, and yesterday got the idea to make Caesar salad with them. I knew I had some old halves of French bread in the freezer and most of the other ingredients I would need (since I've now started keeping lemons and Parmesan cheese on hand at all times). I wanted to make one that was tasty (obvs) but simple. I had just read about how to make the fancy French version in Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone. (BTW - I really enjoyed the memoir by the former New York Times restaurant reviewer and Gourmet editor.) It involves coddled egg (which I learned is an egg boiled for one minute in the shell) and anchovies. It also had a somewhat complex set of steps for assembling the salad. I'm sure it's delicious, but it's not quite the direction I wanted to go last night.

So, I started with the usual suspects - my favorite blogs and recipe sights. And, holy croutons!, there are a lot of Caesar salad recipes out there. I found very traditional versions at The Reluctant Gourmet and allrecipes. They both involved using raw or coddled eggs. Others seemed a little more accessible, but still not perfect, like the Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen, Martha Stewart and epicurious. So, I decided to take all of these not-quite-perfect recipes and combine them.

Then, lo and behold, a new blog I just started following happened to post a Simple Caesar Salad yesterday. Don't you love it when that happens? Like when you mention how much you love a song and then it comes on the radio. Thank you, Everybody Likes Sandwiches!

I made the recipe last night and it was delicious - exactly what I wanted. She has you make the croutons on the stove top in bacon grease (brilliant!). My only tip is to use a big pan or cook the croutons in batches. I dumped them all in my smaller cast iron and then had to take half of them out to make sure they all got crispy.

One final note: I found a really interesting vegan Caesar salad at 101 Cookbooks. I'd definitely be interested in trying this one out at some point.

Happy eating!


A Quest for Sandals

I just wanted a simple pair of black, flat sandals for my trip to the Midwest on Friday. Even nice-ish flip flops would have worked! You'd think it wouldn't be that hard, right? Well, unfortunately for me - a girl with very long, narrow feet that resemble water skis - these are the type of sandals in style right now:

And, in theory, I think they're cute. But something awful happens when I put them on my abnormally long feet. They look horrible! My foot looks like it stretches on forever, and the strap across my ankle cuts off my legs and makes them look stubby. Just . . . no. I refuse to spend money on these just because the fashion gods tell us to.

I had almost given up, when I made a quick stop into Old Navy. And . . . yes! Tons of cute sandals. I bought these simple ones (in black):

And absolutely could not resist these yellow ones either:
(I know the yellow ones look similar to the dreaded black ones above. But, the straps are just different enough and the beading is just big enough to make a difference. Plus, yellow!)

Now, if the sun just comes out in Seattle, I'll be ready! Let's hope they help me stay cool in the muggy Midwest :)

P.S. I'm going to try to start posting more regularly. Really, I am!


My Garden: May 25

I'm going to eat some of the lettuce up at the lake this weekend!! The big bushy area is all salad greens, and I'm going to take them up to the lake this weekend for everyone to eat.

Compare these photos to my last update. Whoa! Stuff has grown.

One note: I had to thin out my carrots and beets, because I read the the roots will be too close together and I won't get an viable plans. It was kind of a pain because I had planted a ton of seeds all close together and I had to cut them off so that plants were about 2 inches apart. I learned that I should be a little more sparing with the seeds next year and try to space them out more. For thinning, you don't have to pull them out, you just cut off the tops.

For harvesting the lettuce, I read that you should cut off the tops and then dig up the roots. This keeps the lettuce from getting dirty. Then, I can plant new seeds for a second harvest!


What's going on?

You may be asking: What's going on with Katie? We haven't heard much from her lately.

Well, friends, the answer is: A LOT!

Before we get into the details of my life, I wanted to note that this is such a beautiful time in Seattle! I went for a short evening run yesterday and felt lost in a fairy land of so many flowering trees and gardens. Seeing all the gorgeous colors and blooms, along with the sun setting over the Olympic Mountains always clears away every last bit of stress and anxiety. I picked one little poppy (I think it's a poppy?) to put on my table.

So, the big news. Pete and I are getting married! We're almost certain we'll tie the knot in Seattle on April 2, 2011 (the day my parents got married and Pete's dad's birthday). AND, I have a new job! I'm finishing up at my current job tomorrow, and will begin a new position June 7. In addition, I'm continuing to take classes at Seattle Central Community College.

I'll try to post updates with our wedding planning. There's a lot to think about. But, I'm finding it to be a lot of fun! I've found The Knot's book on wedding planning to be helpful so far, and I'm dying to get my hands on Martha Stewart Weddings newest issue, with is all about DIY. They've already put some great content online including these templates and clip art for wedding decorations.

I'm hoping to put up a few posts in the next week or two on:
  • Our engagement and the adventures of wedding planning, and specifically planning a wedding in Seattle
  • A couple more quick dinners
  • The lessons we learned in New York (I'm waaaay behind on this one)
  • An update on my garden

P.S. I'll use any excuse I can to post a Marvin Gaye song. His version of: What's going on?


I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.

Greta in the grass, originally uploaded by Maggie Skinner.

“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”

- Groucho Marx



May Garden: May 7

We haven't had much sun, so there hasn't been a lot of progress.

Although, some beets have sprouted.

And, I think these are little carrot sprouts.


Denim Obsession

I've been slightly obsessed with denim lately. Partly because I just love denim in general, and partly because I just got these Frye-ish boots from Target.

I added them to an online order to qualify for free shipping, thinking that I could return them if I didn't like them. But, they are super cool and look pretty high quality. I think they'll go great with denim. I've also seen women wearing similar boots with black legging and black skinny jeans. I may have to try out that look this weekend.

I keep looking at this dress at the Gap online, but haven't gone to a store to try it on.

And, I think these shorts from The Gap are cute. They remind me of my favorite cut-offs from high school.

Isn't this Anthropologie skirt adorable?

Sunny Friday

It's FINALLY sunny here. I had almost given up hope that I'd ever see the sun again. Granted, it's not that warm (higher of 62 today), but I'll take what I can get. Blogs have been torturing me lately writing about spring fruit and spring recipes, when it still feel like winter in Seattle.

Some spring recipes:

P.S. I've been reading that strawberries are one of the fruits you should buy organic, since they tend to have more pesticides.


One Wish

If I had one wish I'd ask to be transported to this place right now, at this very moment, with a snuggly blanket, some tea and a good book. Let the daydreaming commence.

Although, Twin Lakes in NE Washington is a pretty good runner up and I'll be there Memorial Day.

Glee: Your True Colors

Confession: I just finished the first season of Glee last night. I just fell behind and couldn't find time to catch up.

I enjoyed all of the musical numbers in the last three episodes, but I've definitely been singing this one to myself this morning. Love it.


My Garden: April 29

I promise I won't post about my garden every other day for the rest of the spring and summer. It's just that I'm REALLY EXCITED about it right now. It's so fun to choose all the seeds and plants, and put them in the ground. I went to visit it this morning, and the starts have already gotten taller and many of the plants have more leaves than last week.

I was so occupied with the progress of the starts, that it took me a while to see that the lettuce seeds had sprouted!

Lots of sprouts!

Isn't the nasturtium pretty? The master gardeners from the WSU Extension Program told me that it's a good plant for pollination (giving the bees a little love) and you can eat the flowers and pods. In fact, Saving the Season just put up a nice post about nasturtiums (known to him as California Capers) and how to pickle the pods. Fun!


My Garden: April 25

Just planted it this week! So far I've got broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrots, peas, beans, lettuce and beets in the ground - some starts and some seeds. Also planted a sunflower and nasturtium for good measure. Grow little plants!


Friday Cuteness

A very adorable 8-year-old sings "Hey Soul Sista" while playing the ukelele at Hawaii's Kokua Festival. Warms my heart (and makes me want to be in Hawaii).


Birthday Buds

Lucky me!

P.S. The party went well - the banner arrived in time, the cake was great and I didn't feel very sick at all. Can you see what banner I chose in the background?


What does a sick day look like?

Man, I've got something nasty that won't leave me alone. I've been home for three days trying to get rid of a cough and stuffy head, and cabin fever is starting to set in. I'm still feeling optimistic that I'll be able to recover in time for my birthday and New York. In the meantime, I've been relying on my sick day staples: Cream of Wheat, tea, and a mixture of lemon carbonated water with grapefruit juice.

I've also been making fruit smoothies: frozen strawberries, blueberries and mango combined with almond milk and strawberry kefir. It tastes really good, especially on a sore throat.

Wish me good health!

Reason to Love Seattle

We totally rocked the Glee Flash Mob:

Love it! You go guys!


Friday Cuteness

Look at the new baby penguin at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. This is just up the road from my apartment.

You can read more about the little guy on my neighborhood blog, Phinneywood.


Travelling to New York

I'm going to New York next week! I've been doing all sorts of research over the past month on New York City - mainly revolving around a few activities we've prioritized and cheap places to eat and drink.

Things to see and experience

I was just poking around the interactive site on the exhibit, and I'm so excited to see it all in person! We've bought our tickets for Friday, and are going to try to squeeze in watching a couple of his movies before we leave, namely Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands.

Martha Stewart blogged about this a while ago, and I've been dying to check it out ever since. It will even be outdoors by the time we get there!

I'm hoping for daily walks, with stops at nearby coffee shops.

New York Times just posted a charming video today about The Met. A longtime hot dog vendor outside The Met is given a tour and asked for his thoughts on the works inside.

I've been wanting to see this play ever since I watched the Tony awards when it won for best musical. We might try catch one other play by visiting the half-price ticket booths.

Places to Eat and Drink
  • Coffee: The New York Times recently had a good article on coffee shops . I'm thinking we'll try to hit a few of these. I kind of want to go to Cafe Grumpy just for the name!
  • Drinks: Located in Rockefeller Plaza, I read the Rainbow Room was a good spot for a drink and a good view of the city.
  • Bakeries: I've found a bunch that sound good including Cupcake Cafe.
  • Barbecue: I definitely want to check out the Brooklyn Ice House.
  • I've tried to list a lot of the places that sound good in a Google Map.
Places to Shop
I really only have one place I'd like to check out, which is Purl Soho. I've been following their blog on knitting and sewing for a long time, and I'd love to see the store. Plus, they'll have just opened in a new, bigger space!

  • This woman posted her list of travel necessities. It's handy, and pretty comprehensive.
  • Also, not martha just linked to this excellent list of flying tips. I think I'll download the free white noise app. I also have Where the Wild Things are on rental from iTunes, so I'll put that on my iPhone.
  • I've found iPhones to be immensely helpful while travelling. I've downloaded a few free New York apps that, let's hope, come in handy!

Last, it's apparently been unseasonably warm in New York. Which adds a new element to my thoughts on clothes to pack. Jezebel addressed the challenge today. I just checked the weather and it looks like it will be closer to high 60s while we're there, so normal spring attire should be fine.

P.S. Michael Jackson is singing about New York in the song Human Nature, right? He says: If this town is just an apple, then let me take a bite.

P.P.S. Isn't John Mayer's version nice?


My Birthday

Birthday #30 is coming up next week. Wow! I remember lying in my dorm room on the night before my 20th birthday, feeling more sad and shocked than anything else. I had honestly believed I'd be a teenager forever! I was so depressed leaving those years behind, and thought it would all be downhill from there.

Thank goodness I was wrong. My 20s have had some ups and down, but it feels nice to end them on an up! I'm having a very casual get-together next week and I only have two requirements of the party: cake and a banner. (I feel like a 30th birthday warrants a banner!)

Lo and behold, these charming banners popped up in Cup of Jo today! I like that they're not the traditional "Happy Birthday" message.

I was really debating between the gold "Good Times and the black "La Dolce Vita." I'm not telling which one I ended up ordering. To order the banners, visit Banter Banners.

P.S. If I haven't invited you - apologies! Evite wouldn't import my email contacts and I'm afraid I didn't do a perfect job of getting everyone on the list. Just let me know and I'll send you the info.


Quick Dinners: Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp

I happened to see this recipe in the New York Times on a day when I needed something quick and easy for dinner. And, it was good enough to keep around. Actually, I just made it tonight! You can just keep a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer to pull out when needed, and then you probably have everything else around except the broccoli and lemon. Serve it over brown rice, couscous or quinoa, and you have a very quick and healthy dinner.

(I added a glass of Chinook winery red to make it a real meal. Yum!)

Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp
From The New York Times

2 pounds broccoli, but into bite-size florets
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
1 1/2 t salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t chili powder
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined (I usually use frozen)
Zest from 1 lemon
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a glass or metal lasagna/brownie pan toss broccoli with 2 T oil, coriander, cumin, 1 t salt, 1/2 t pepper and chili powder. In a separate bowl, combine shrimp, remaining 2 T oil, lemon zest, remaining salt and pepper.

Roast broccoli for about 5-10 minutes. Add shrimp to baking dish and toss with broccoli. Roast until shrimp are just opaque and broccoli is tender and golden around the edges, about 10-20 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges, along with rice, couscous or quinoa.


Quick Dinners: Black Beans and Rice

I haven't blogged about food or posted a recipe lately, but I realized that it's because I haven't been cooking much. I've been a little more busy than normal, and even on the occasions I do cook either it's not exciting enough to post or I never find the time to post the stuff I really do like.

So, with my busy-ish schedule I've been relying on a few standby recipes that are quick, easy and that I usually have most of the ingredients for. So, I thought I'd share them with you starting with the one I've been making the longest: Black Beans and Rice.

I really learned to cook from Mollie Katzen (of the Moosewood series). I was just out of college, a temporary vegetarian and living with four roommates while I did Lutheran Volunteer Corps. I just learned by trying things - some worked; many didn't. But I turned to Moosewood books more than any other, and had the most success with them. A lot of the things in my "pantry" are still based on her recipes.

Here's what I usually keep around (that allows me to make most of the quick dinners). I haven't included spices or the true staples like butter, salt, oil, milk, etc. Those are are a "No duh."

Pantry staples:
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Salsa
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Frozen corn
  • Cheese (usually some hard Italian and cheddar)
  • Bread
  • Chicken and vegetable broth
  • Pasta
  • Polenta (either dry or in tubes)
  • Brown rice
  • Eggs
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
You'll notice that most of the ingredients in Black Beans and Rice are in my pantry staples. Which is probably why this is the recipe I've returned to again and again. So often, it's actually become a comfort food. You can't really screw this up. So, make it your own and enjoy!

Black Beans & Rice
Based on the Basic Skillet Black Beans in Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

2 t olive or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloved garlic, diced
1/2 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1 t chili powder
3 cups cooked black beans (two 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
1 cup salsa
2 cups chopped tomatoes (one 15-ounce can, with juice)
1/2 cup frozen corn
Whatever vegetables you have on hand - I usually opt for carrots and/or peppers

In a skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and stir for a minute to toast the spices. Add the corn and any other vegetables and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the salsa and tomatoes, and simmer for a few minutes. Add the black beans and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until everything is thickened.

Serve over rice and, if you like, top with sour cream, cilantro or cheese.


National Poetry Month

Lonely Snowy Tree, originally uploaded by Ally Mac.

Is it just coincidence that I was born in National Poetry Month? I think not! I'll make a goal to seek out some new poetry this month (which shouldn't be too hard since I barely ever get around to reading it). Let's start the month with a poem shared with me by Pete's dad.

It really hit home and caused a physical response in me when I read it. I have to trust that like the wind, I'll find my way to the right place as well. But that's so hard sometimes!

Message to self: Let go. Let go and trust.

by Thomas R. Smith

It's like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn't.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can't read the address.

(Thanks Ken!)



Some Friday eye candy for you.

I stumbled upon this image today at a new blog I'm following, most beautiful darling. Enjoying the simple wisdom of it.

I was also thrilled to see this photo. I've aspired to have a wall of brightly colored plates for a few years now. Maybe I'll have to finally start collecting some! I always pick them up in stores, ponder buying them and then put them back down.

My other new favorite blog is a desert fete. There's something very alluring about living in the desert to me (and, maybe my allergies wouldn't be as bad!). Anyway, looking at this photography is a little breath of fresh air every day.

I LOVE this series she posted from a train hopping photographer. Sigh. Makes me miss the summer I spent in Glacier National Park, hiking and riding around Montana in the back of pickup trucks.

Also, CACTI. I have a slight obsession with cacti that I have absolutely no explanation for. I just really like them.

picture by Elly Yap


Happy Weekend

It's been a tough week for me. I've been really low-energy and kind of in low spirits. But here are a few things that have brightened my day, and I hope they do the same for you!

Pretty Cakes - I definitely need to make this cake for the next girl/woman I know who has a birthday. Pink with sprinkles. My sisters Jayme would love it. Heck, maybe I'll just make it for myself!

Color - When I'm down I really try to make an effort to wear patterns and bright colors. It makes me feel better about myself and makes me look a little brighter to the outside world. I wish I could have been at this festival in India - it looks like they fill their world and paint themselves with the most vivid colors.

The Office - Last night's episode really made me laugh! Plus, it featured babies.

Alice in Wonderland - Even though it didn't get the great reviews, I still really want to see it. Look at this cute blog post with Alice inspirations. I downloaded the book for free to my iPhone, but have just started it.

Mr. Rogers - I've just started to read a book called I'm Proud of You, but a friend of Mr. Rogers. And while it's not the best book ever, the spirit of Mr. Rogers definitely shines through. His devotion to helping children and sharing love wherever he went is truly inspiring. I ran across this video of him testifying for Congress.

A New Dress - A friend alerted me to the fact that a (very) expensive dress I blogged about was half off. Who could resist!? Let's hope it looks good on me - not just on the Web site. I'll report back!

Exercising - I was in a really bad mood when I got home one evening. And I didn't feel hungry because I hadn't exercised in a couple days. I was short on time but I decided to just throw on the running clothes and shoes and hit the pavement for a few minutes. What a difference some fresh air and movement can make! Flowers are blooming in Seattle, so I could smell them and take in their bright colors as the sun set over the Olympic mountains. Lovely. Improved my mood greatly.

Seattle University basketball - I've become a die hard fan and the men won their last home game! Go Redhawks! They've worked really hard and ended the season with a winning record. Amazing!

Thinking About Our Trip to New York - I bought tickets to In the Heights and looked into how to buy tickets for the Time Burton Exhibit at MOMA (so glad it will still be there when we visit!). I've been playing with iPhone apps for New York and tracking down good bakeries. I also booked our list night for a steal at the "hippest hotel in New York" - as Seattlites we'll fit right in with the hipsters.

Actually, just writing this blog post made me feel better. And, it's Friday afternoon so the weekend is almost here. Hope yours is lovely!


Super Chow

I just realized that I haven't posted a recipe for quite some time. I haven't been cooking quite as much, and I've been having trouble squeezing in as much time for blogging. But, I did recently eat and prepare some good TV-viewing party grub. I made food for both a Super Bowl Party and an Olympic Opening Ceremony Party.

I love these types of get-togethers. Very low-stress. You can just all hang out and watch the show. Oh, and eat lots of party food!!

First off, let me just say Thank Goodness for Trader Joe's! He supplied many items to fill in the holes between homemade food:
  • Parmesan Pastry Pups - Basically Pigs in a Blanket. They come frozen and were a big hit. (Find it in the frozen aisle.)
  • Sharp Cheddar Pub Cheese - Yes, it's a spreadable cheese that looks unnaturally bright orange. But, dang, it's tasty! (Find it with the other cheeses.)
  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip - Heat it up in the microwave, and you're ready to go. I could not stop eating this. (Find it in the frozen aisle)
OK, so speaking of recipes . . . I also made a really interesting dip. I found the recipe in The New York Times, and then just slightly altered it. It's called Green Goddess - full of herbs, garlic, onion, feta, olive oil and Greek yogurt. We dipped veggies and crackers in it.

Greek Goddess Dip
From The New York Times

1/2 cup packed fresh mint
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley
1/3 cup packed fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt, more to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Raw chopped vegetables or pita chips, for serving.

1. Place mint, parsley, basil, garlic, scallions, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and process until finely chopped. (I used a blender - it worked fine once I added the olive oil.)

2. With motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Add feta and process until smooth; pulse in yogurt. Taste dip and add more salt, if desired.

3. Serve dip immediately with vegetables or pita chips or cover and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days. (You can add mayo to make it a little creamier, but I didn't this time.)

Now, for the Olympics party, I had a heck of a time coming up with themed food. I ended up with:

Gold Medal Drinks: Miller High Life and orange Italian soda mixed with white wine

Silver Medal Sandwiches: I cut out pieces of bread into circles and made little round sandwiches with hummus, olive tapenade, carrots and cucumber. Then, I wrapped some of them in tin foil.

Bronze Medal Bundt Cake: I used one of my favorite bundt cake recipes for Chocolate Stout Cake with Chocolate Ganache. Yummmmm.

We had quite the spread!


Chocolate Croissants Baked Right in Your Own Oven

That's right! I made an impulse buy the other day at Trader Joe's - Frozen Chocolate Croissants. (Who, me, make an impulse buy??)

You take them out the night before to let them rise, and then just pop them in the oven the next morning for 20 minutes. And you have warm, gooey chocolatey, flaky pastries right at your own kitchen table.

Now, this wasn't the best chocolate croissant I've had in my whole life. But, it was pretty darn good! Highly recommended. I made the excuse of buying them for my friend's visit from DC, but she got snowed in!! Guess I'll have to eat all of them myself. Poor me.


It's Glorious Here

I don't know about where you are, but it is an absolutely beautiful day here in Seattle! I wish I could bottle this up. I enjoyed my morning walk to the bus and a little lunchtime walk to Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill.

I've been enjoying the sunrises while I watch Olympic coverage on the Today Show. And, yes, I have Olympic rings taped to my window.

Can you see the Olympic Mountains?

Seattlites enjoying the sun

Playing soccer at Cal Anderson

Let's hope it stays this nice for a trip to Vancouver this weekend!

P.S. This has nothing to do with a sunny day, but I had my iPhone camera going, so I snapped a pic. This is one of the saddest, rundown apartment buildings near my workplace on Capitol Hill. And, what an apropos name:


Kitchen Table

My kitchen table has been making me happy this week. Well, not the table itself, but what's on it.

I had such a nice weekend in Bellingham and at Mt. Baker, and really didn't want to get up in the morning and go to work. But, then I sat down to drink my coffee and saw these lovely, cheerful flowers from Pete. (They really make you believe that spring is coming!) And I smile every time I see this amazing plate that I bought at a University of Washington art auction for the MFA program. It was created by one of the ceramics instructors, and I really love it.

It's the little things sometimes.


"we are an idea in the process of being realized"

Did you watch the Opening Ceremony on Friday? I watched it with a small gathering of people, and really enjoyed it. I thought the ceremony was thoughtful, and simple, and really beautiful. I enjoyed the mix of dance, music and even poetry. Of course, now I'm sucked into the Olympics every night. Biathlon! Moguls! Snowboard cross! Do I know anything about these sports? Not really! But, I learn a little more each Olympics and it's a nice break from the (sometimes) monotony of football-basketball-baseball we always see on TV.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the poem by Canadian writer and poet and Shane Koyzan. I used one line as the subject for this post. And I also loved it when he said:

"we are an experiment going right for a change."

I've included the entire poem below.

You can watch Shane reading the poem. (Apparently I can't embed videos from NBC. Annoying!)

Other favorite moments included K.D. Lang singing "Hallelujah" and the elfish young man that did all the aerial tricks to Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" (no video to be found).

Go Canada! Go World!

We Are More

by Shane Koyczan

When defining Canada

you might list some statistics

you might mention our tallest building

or biggest lake

you might shake a tree in the fall

and call a red leaf Canada

you might rattle off some celebrities

might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie

might even mention the fact that we've got a few

Barenaked Ladies

or that we made these crazy things

like zippers

electric cars

and washing machines

when defining Canada

it seems the world's anthem has been

"been there done that"

and maybe that's where we used to be at

it's true

we've done and we've been

we've seen

all the great themes get swallowed up by the machine

and turned into theme parks

but when defining Canada

don't forget to mention that we have set sparks

we are not just fishing stories

about the one that got away

we do more than sit around and say "eh?"

and yes

we are the home of the Rocket and the Great One

who inspired little number nines

and little number ninety-nines

but we're more than just hockey and fishing lines

off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes

and some say what defines us

is something as simple as please and thank you

and as for you're welcome

well we say that too

but we are more

than genteel or civilized

we are an idea in the process

of being realized

we are young

we are cultures strung together

then woven into a tapestry

and the design

is what makes us more

than the sum total of our history

we are an experiment going right for a change

with influences that range from a to zed

and yes we say zed instead of zee

we are the colours of Chinatown and the coffee of Little Italy

we dream so big that there are those

who would call our ambition an industry

because we are more than sticky maple syrup and clean snow

we do more than grow wheat and brew beer

we are vineyards of good year after good year

we reforest what we clear

because we believe in generations beyond our own

knowing now that so many of us

have grown past what used to be

we can stand here today

filled with all the hope people have

when they say things like "someday"

someday we'll be great

someday we'll be this

or that

someday we'll be at a point

when someday was yesterday

and all of our aspirations will pay the way

for those who on that day

look towards tomorrow

and still they say someday

we will reach the goals we set

and we will get interest on our inspiration

because we are more than a nation of whale watchers and lumberjacks

more than backpacks and hiking trails

we are hammers and nails building bridges

towards those who are willing to walk across

we are the lost-and-found for all those who might find themselves at a loss

we are not the see-through gloss or glamour

of those who clamour for the failings of others

we are fathers brothers sisters and mothers

uncles and nephews aunts and nieces

we are cousins

we are found missing puzzle pieces

we are families with room at the table for newcomers

we are more than summers and winters

more than on and off seasons

we are the reasons people have for wanting to stay

because we are more than what we say or do

we live to get past what we go through

and learn who we are

we are students

students who study the studiousness of studying

so we know what as well as why

we don't have all the answers

but we try

and the effort is what makes us more

we don't all know what it is in life we're looking for

so keep exploring

go far and wide

or go inside but go deep

go deep

as if James Cameron was filming a sequel to The Abyss

and suddenly there was this location scout

trying to figure some way out

to get inside you

because you've been through hell and high water

and you went deep

keep exploring

because we are more

than a laundry list of things to do and places to see

we are more than hills to ski

or countryside ponds to skate

we are the abandoned hesitation of all those who can't wait

we are first-rate greasy-spoon diners and healthy-living cafes

a country that is all the ways you choose to live

a land that can give you variety

because we are choices

we are millions upon millions of voices shouting

"keep exploring... we are more"

we are the surprise the world has in store for you

it's true

Canada is the "what" in "what's new?"

so don't say "been there done that"

unless you've sat on the sidewalk

while chalk artists draw still lifes

on the concrete of a kid in the street

beatboxing to Neil Young for fun

don't say you've been there done that

unless you've been here doing it

let this country be your first-aid kit

for all the times you get sick of the same old same old

let us be the story told to your friends

and when that story ends

leave chapters for the next time you'll come back

next time pack for all the things

you didn't pack for the first time

but don't let your luggage define your travels

each life unravels differently

and experiences are what make up

the colours of our tapestry

we are the true north

strong and free

and what's more

is that we didn't just say it

we made it be.

P.S. I'll try to post on some of the food we served for the Opening Ceremony viewing later this week.