Monday, August 31, 2009

Music Monday -- Grizzly Bear!

I just picked up a new album from the band Grizzly Bear called Veckatimest. Curios what a veckatimest is, but not enough to actually find out. I listened to several of the tracks on iTunes and enjoyed what I heard and now I've listened to the whole album a couple of times. It's a lot more mellow than I expected, but I really like it. I think my favorite track right now is Two Weeks. Take a listen and let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who I Want to Be

I'm still deciding what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know who I want to be when I grow up. I actually really like who I am. I'd just like to be a more fit, organized, intelligent, comfortable version of who I am today. To that end, I've been thinking about what I need to do to become who I want to be. I'm really not all that good at making and keeping goals, but I realize that it's an important part of becoming who I want to be. For this reason, I've set a goal to do the Danskin triathlon next summer. That should help with the "fitter" part of who I want to be.

I've also made a goal to blog more often. This may not seem like such an important goal to many, but it really is a great outlet for me. I love to write, but I waste way too much time when I sit at the computer. My goal is to only read or write at the computer moving forward. That means no more Mah Jong. Really. It's such a waste of time and it sucks me in for embarrassing amounts of time. There. I've said it. Now I can move on. I don't think that writing every day will get me a book deal or land me some sweet job, or become a job itself, but it will help me organize my thoughts and produce something that is of value at least to me.

My other goal is to de-junk my office. It's a shambles, but it will help me to be more organized to get everything in its place and to get rid of the things that are no longer useful. I also want to organize my time better, but I'm still working out how that will look in some measurable goal.

And finally, I'm going to figure out Photoshop and Lightroom. I need to embrace being a life-long learner. It's what keeps our brains agile and our spirits young. I want to be that person who is alway learning something new. The new thing that will be of value to both me and the DH will be learning to use Photoshop and Lightroom. It's a lot easier for me to learn than the DH, and I fear he will never get the knack if I'm not able to help troubleshoot along the way. They're complicated tools, and totally not in my comfort-zone, so it will be fun and challenging. And then, maybe I can make my own blog banners! Fun for me and you.

Putting out there into the bloggosphere is my way of writing it down. Go ahead and help keep me honest. I won't be offended. That's part of the fun, right?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Onion Tartlets

While the DH and I were in Portland, we picked up the Farm Chicks In the Kitchen for Annzy. She really wanted the book, and we found a better than average deal on it at the wonderful Powell's Books.

While I was in possession of the book, I read it cover-to-cover and enjoyed all the anecdotes and pictures, but I try any of the recipes. I waited until Annzy showed up in person, and then let her try the Onion Tartlet recipe while she was visiting. We all loved the recipe, so I had to try it out myself after she was gone.

I've made them now, and the recipe is super easy and the results every-so-tasty. The DH suggested adding bacon bits-the fairy dust of the food world-so we did and it was a pleasant addition.

Also, let me just tell you that you really should pick up this book if you are even remotely interested in this or any of the other Farm Chick's recipes. They are fabulous and looked fairly easy to make. It's a recipe book that I know I would use many of the recipes in, so it's well worth the cost.

The Farm Chicks' Onion Tartlets

3/4 cup butter, softened
3oz cream cheese ~room temperature
1 cup flour
4 cups thin sliced onions (about 3 large onions)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg

Heat oven to 350'

Cook the onions: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1/4 cup butter, stirring till melted; then add the onions, stir in the sugar and salt, and saute over medium-low heat until golden brown and caramelized, ~20 minutes.

Make the crust: Combine 1/2 cup butter and the cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the flour and mix until well combined. Scoop the mixture into 24 heaping teaspoonfuls and roll each into a ball. Press each ball into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased mini-tart (muffin) pan. Divide the onion mixture evenly between the 24 tartlet shells.

Bake the tartlets: Combine the cream and egg in a glass measuring cup and whisk until smooth. Pour into the tartlets, dividing evenly. Bake until the filling and crust are golden brown, ~22 to 24 minutes. Transfer the tartlets from the baking pan to a serving plate and serve warm.

~enjoy because the real secret ingredient is love!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wishing I Had Taken Pictures

I really like food, so I like to talk about food. The DH and I had the most wonderful dinner last night that I just must share with you all. Our meal was at the Sumbling Goat Bistro in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. We shared two appetizers and then each had our own main dish.

We started with a seasonal cheese plate. The cheeses were Bleu d’ Auvergne raw cow’ s milk from France, Isiguy Ste Mere Camembert pasteurized cow’s milk from France, Crottin Affine pasteurized goat milk from France, and Castelrosso pasteurized cow’s milk from Italy. It was served with Port glazed figs, pear, candied nuts, and house-made crackers with a sprinkling of sea salt. I know! It all sounds so complicated. A picture would have been so much nicer on all of you. The flavor of the Bleu was the favorite of both the DH and me. It was SO good! I really don't have the vocabulary to describe how the cheese tasted, but know that we both enjoyed it immensely.

The second appetizer was Wild Boar Rillettes with a chutney and two mustards. I'm sure you're asking yourself right now what Rillettes are. First off, it's singular. Second, according to, it's an appetizer made usually of pork or goose meat that is diced, seasoned, cooked, and then pounded or ground to the consistency of a spread. In other words, it's kind of like liverwurst, but it was made out of wild boar's meat instead of some goose liver. It sounds a little odd, but it was very good. The meat had been cooked with a variety of herbs, but had a distinct flavor of clove in the mix. It was served with bread to spread it on with the chutney and mustard. The flavor combinations were lovely.

The DH had pan-seered halibut and I had braised rabbit and papardelle with a tomato sauce. Both were prepared perfectly and we were so satisfied with the whole meal that we didn't even eat dessert at home.

Friday Food For Thought

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Best Years of My Life

Four years ago today, the DH and I were married in the Seattle temple, had a wonderful luncheon at Ivar's Salmon House, and then had a great party in our back yard to celebrate with all of our friends. It was a fantastic day! I couldn't imagine that I could be more in love or happier than I was on that day.

What a surprise. I really am more in love and happier today than I was four years ago. The DH has been a wonderful influence in my life and helped me to live a more full and enjoyable life. I love him and I'm in love with him. It's a great place to be.

In the last four years, we've traveled to Victoria, B.C., Hawaii, Idaho, California, church history sites, the Oregon coast, and all sorts of lovely places in Washington. We've totally changed how we manage our funds and save for a rainy day. We've gotten new callings in the church that have helped us grow in different ways. We've worked in the yard and shopped at Costco. We've learned to sleep with each other's snoring (I love you, white noise machine!). We've watched friends get married and divorced and felt the joy and pain that go with both of those. We've gone to more live music performances than I can count.

We stick up for each other and we rub each other's feet. We love more now than ever. All of these things have knit us together.

Happy Anniversary, DH!

Update -- The DH sent beautiful flowers to me at work. He knows how much I love fresh flowers and it was a very happy surprise.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Please Make It Stop!

This morning I had a dentist appointment and had my teeth cleaned. I was relaxed in the dentist's chair when the horrible noise started. There are three work stations and I was in the middle one. To the right, was the high-pitch sound of the dentist drilling a tooth. To the left was the lower hum of someone having the polisher on their teeth. In the middle was me, hearing the scraping of plaque from my teeth.

It was torture.

I'm sorry you had to read that, but I felt the need to share my pain.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Annzy's Visit

I had the rare pleasure of my sister Annzy visiting for the weekend. She showed up Thursday evening and we played until she left on Sunday afternoon. The highlight of the weekend for me was disecting Julie & Julia. I'll post more on that another day, but it was great to talk to Annzy about it and think about the movie and its message.

I also loved shopping with Annzy. She's a pro! We enjoyed U Village, the Phinney Ridge Farmer's Market, Pike Place Market, K-Mart, and the grocery store. Every trip was better with Annzy there. Of course, the best was the trip to K-Mart. It's always an adventure there. We discovered that the Martha Stewart line seems to be going out. That's a bummer. We also found silly gadgets that we discovered we couldn't live without. Who knew? I'm not sure how I survived until Saturday without that meat thermometer that I picked up.

It was super fun to hang with the family here and see how excited the nephew was to have Annzy there to show off his stuff to. He's such a great kid! I was fascinated by his interest in rocks (and the brother's ability to answer the tough questions). It was like a Geology test that I would have flunked. Good times! The Brother passed with flying colors, though.

The final highlight was making Onion Tartlets with Annzy. We got the Farm Chicks cookbook for her at Powell's when we were there a few weeks ago and the cookbook is loads of fun. We had brunch with the family, so Onion Tartlets seemed like a good choice for that. Even though they may sound wierd to some of you, they really taste wonderful and are a good savory addition to any menu. They were pretty easy and super yummy. We all agreed that bacon bits could be a welcome addition to the recipe, but they were great without too.

Annzy! Send me the recipe! I must post it here for my bloggy friends to try!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Listening On My iPod -- The Decemberists

For my many readers (all three of you!), I'm sure you'd like to know what I'm listening to lately. The DH and I saw The Decemberists live last month and it was even better than either of us expected. They played a lot of music from their new album and they did a great job of the live performance.

As soon as I got back from the concert, I went right out and logged onto iTunes to buy the album. I've really enjoyed it. The sound is something that I can listen to actively or just have in the background. Either way, they're great and I hope you like them too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Whirleyball and Ouch!

Last night, we were invited with a group of friends to play Whirleyball. This game is a riot and we had a lot of fun. It's basically the rules of basketball, but using a whiffle ball while riding in a bumper car. The games are 15 minutes and move really quickly. See the short YouTube video below to get an idea of how the game looks.

We were invited by some friends to add to the team. You have to have 10 people to play for an hour and a half, which ends up being about four 15-minute games. We also had three extra people so we could sub in and out. The bumper cars make for a jarring game, so I was happy to sit out for one of the games.

I have to say, the best part of the game last night was the group we were with. The group was made up of a couple that we're friends with and their grown sons and daughters-in-law and a couple of random other friends. Most of them had played several times, were athletic to begin with, and were very good at the game. Me -- not so much! But these great folks made sure that I played as much as anyone. They didn't hog the ball or get too aggressive or so competetive that it took the fun out of it. They just added to the fun by really enjoying it and including everyone.

It's such a far cry from the one other time I played. I got bored because the two competetive guys on the team just hogged the ball and got really angry if anyone missed the ball or did something they thought was "wrong" along the way.

The only down side to playing Whirleyball is the painful after effects. I'm sore today and expect it to last until tomorrow. Between getting hit too many times to count and trying to reach in wierd ways for the ball, it uses muscles you didn't know existed.

Thanks, Lo, for the invitation!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Twilight Fun

While the nieces were here, we headed to the peninsula and went to the Hoh rain forest, Rialto Beach, and Forks.

Anyone who has read the Twilight series of books knows that the story takes place in Forks, WA. It's a little hole in the wall town, but still fun to go see.

I'm happy to go to Forks, but mostly because I really like the rain forest and beach and Forks is on the way.

Enjoy this lovely little spoof on Twilight if you have time for it:

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Family Milestones

A few summers ago, the DH and I went to Idaho Falls to celebrate my Granny's 90th birthday. This weekend, we've spent a few days East of Sacramento celebrating the DH's father's 90th birthday.

We flew into Sacramento late Thursday and spent the night there, then drove to Oakland to attend a temple session with the DH's parent, sister and her husband, two step brothers, and a couple of aunts. We had a nice time there and I was happy to meet some new family members.

We then drove back to Sacramento and picked up the DH's younger son, Rory, from the airport and took him out to dinner before driving to Jackson, CA where we were spending the rest of the weekend. We had great food at Rudy's Hideaway in Folsom and then stayed up talking to more family members at the DH's parents house.

On Saturday, we spent a good part of the day celebrating the 90th birthday. The DH's step-mom put together a great party. There was plenty of food, a wonderful slide show of pictures from over the last 90 years, and live music from some of the more talented members of the family. We also spent a lot of time talking and reminiscing about old times. I got to meet all of the DH's step-brothers and many of his neices and nephews. With the merged family, there were a lot of brothers and sisters and plenty of people for me to meet and get to know. I'll admit that the DH may have more interesting characters in his immediate family. It made for a very entertaining couple of days.

Today, we looked around the town of Sutter Creek, then had lunch with the family and I go to see more pictures of the DH when he was younger. It was a lot of fun. Then we headed back to Sacramento to fly back home.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Fabulous Reading!

I just finished a delightful book. I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The story takes place in post-WWII England starting in London and ending in the Channel Islans of Guernsey.

This was a very quick read and perfect summer reading. The story has some serious points, but is mostly light and fun. There's romance and a little intrigue (though mild at that). The whole story is written in letters, so you get to know each of the characters both by how they write and by how they are described by others. I especially liked that the main character is herself an author and discusses her own works and her love of other authors. It makes for a great literary adventure. She refers to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy often and looks for love just as Elizabeth did. You'll have to read to find out if her story ends as happily as Elizabeth's.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Because You Asked So Nicely

Several folks have requested the Spitzbuebe cookie recipe, so here it is for anyone who'd like it. Note that I just use the mixer instead of blending in the flower by hand.

1¼ cups sugar
6 cups flour
2 eggs
1 pound butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pinch salt

All ingredients should be at room temperature.

In a mixer cream the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, a pinch of salt and the vanilla. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Using your hands, mix in the flour but only until it is incorporated into the mixture. Just fold the flour into the batter. The result will be a very sticky batter. DO NOT OVER-MIX.

Spread flour on a large surface and scrape the batter onto this surface from the mixing bowl. Sprinkle with flour and being to spread the dough with your hands to flatten it out. Then use a rolling pin to push the dough flat to about ¼ to ⅜ inches thick.

Cut cookies into desired shape. Make sure there is an equal number. In half of the cut out cookies make a smaller middle hole. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350° for 10-15 minutes. The cookies should be a beige color and not brown, if in doubt break one to see if it is done.

Let cookies sit overnight, then prepare by spreading jam on bottom cookie and covering with top cookie. Sprinkle powdered sugar over cookies.

Monday, August 03, 2009

My New Goal

OK. I'm putting it out there for everyone to see. I have 54 weeks to train. I've signed up three times and not done it, but next year, I'm signing up and DOING the Danskin triathlon.
  • There's a new spinning class at my gym on Monday mornings.
  • I started running intervals again last week.
  • There's a pool at my gym (if only I could find a time when all the lanes didn't have three people in them).
  • My friend Kathleen has decided to train too.
Aren't these all good reasons to do it? I also think it will be enough time to get me there with the 54 weeks to go.

Annzy, are you in? ALL in?!?

Catching Up -- Cookies!

A couple of weeks ago, we had an activity at church where we all came and talked about a country we love and know about (other than the US). I shared some fun and interesting info about Switzerland.

Everyone got a kick out of seeing the cows with flowers on their heads and the beautiful alps, but the best part of sharing my experience in Switzerland was sharing the food. I made cookies that my family calls Bullseye cookies, but are called Spitzbuebe in Switzerland. The name is the word for a precocious little boy, I'm sure named that because the three holes in the top look like a little face.

First I made the dough, which is a lot like a simple shortbread cookie. They have to be rolled out and cut into tops and bottoms. The bottoms are just a simple circle, but the tops have three holes cut out. At least, this is the traditional look of the Spitzbuebe cookies. I've made them at Christmas with stars cut out of the top, but I only ever saw them in Switzerland with the three holes. The DH decided to call them Bowling Ball cookies.

After they're baked, it's best to let them sit overnight to kind of mellow. I'm not sure why, but they're definitely better if they sit for a while.

Once they've sat overnight, they get the yummy jelly filling. It goes on the bottom cookie and then the top goes on and powdered sugar on top of that. In Switzerland, some bakeries put powdered sugar and some put a really thin glaze. I like both, but it's just too much work after everything else to add glazing to the process, so mine always get powdered sugar.

The end result is yumm-o! These are definitely my favorite cookie. I only make them about once a year because they're a bit more work than most cookies, but it's worth the effort every once in a while. And my Swiss friend at work was delighted to share this treat with me.