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!)