January 31, 2012

A Change in Season

Duck hunting season is now over and the waders will finally be put to rest in the garage.  Good times were had by the man and his pup.

January 30, 2012

The Clouds Parted

Sunshine and blue sky!!!
This viewing window is up at the Grotto.  But the sky was much more beautiful than the city below, and this is what captured my eye.

January 27, 2012

Dental Fears

Time to get personal.

I hate going to the dentist.  You see, I don't do well with pain or even the slightest discomfort.  Or the sight of sharp metal objects coming towards my body. So I always go to the same dental hygienist every time, no matter what.  She understands my fears, my clenched hands, my sweat, my tears.  She understands that this is not my fault - I was born this way.

But today was a new experience.  Today I was surprised to meet Lori.  My palms started to sweat and my mind was shouting,  WHERE'S KENDRA AND WHO ARE YOU??  YOU SMILE BUT I DON'T TRUST YOU AND HOW COULD SHE LEAVE ME AT A TIME LIKE THIS??

I quickly learned that Lori is an altogether different creature.  She wears scope lenses, allowing her to see where no one has gone before.  She digs deep and wide.  Today she cleaned everything from my sinuses to my thyroid.

Today my lips are saying words of thanks, hoping that my mind will catch up.

January 26, 2012

Another Goodbye

They come and they go.

Last night we said goodbye to a very special friend who leaves this morning for grad school.  She will be missed more than words can express, but what an adventure she begins!

While the silence back home is overwhelming at times, how great it was to have experienced such a wonderful friendship!  How much richer we are to have loved, laughed, cried, shared, played, and eaten way too much chocolate chip cookie dough together - and said goodbye -  than to have had none of it.

Today I must be thankful.

January 25, 2012

Hello to the Girls

It's been a long time since I've had a chance to say hello to the girls.  They took it personally.

"Sorry, we're busy standing in the sun.  Did you need something?"


"OK, since I came over here, what do you have for me to chew?  Your camera will do quite nicely. Now can you come a little closer so I can have a nibble...and can you give me a little scratch behind my ear?!  I just might forgive you, but please bring food next time."

January 24, 2012

Carrot Sticks

I have ingenious friends!  Here's just a glimpse of what their creative minds came up with for a recent baby shower.

Easy-to-grab carrot and celery sticks...
Photo by Casondra

Lots of mustaches and ties for the baby boy to be...
Photo by Casondra

The theme carried out to the last detail...

January 23, 2012

Thumbprint Cookies

I am a good baker.  A really good baker.  And maybe too proud of it, so perhaps it was time to be humbled.

My first mistake was using a recipe from one of those cheap newspaper "magazine" inserts.  The recipe looked promising, even simpler than my current recipe for Thumbprint Cookies.  I had the time and the ingredients, so it was time to play!

The dough was lovely - smooth and buttery.   I hadn't rolled dough into balls for a while, and it was fun.  I was smiling and humming.


This recipe didn't require rolling the balls in egg white, which is always a big plus in my book. Amazingly enough, the nuts stuck just perfectly all on their own.


Now how beautiful are these? For once in my life, I did not line them all up in perfect rows.  Such boldness.


And since I wasn't following tradition, I really let loose and decided to use a melon baller for the indentations.  No one really uses their thumb to do that - always a finger.  So why not stretch the rules just a little farther?  More humming.  The afternoon was moving along quickly, and lighting was changing by the minute.  Was that a hint of sun coming out?



What better time to open up a beautiful jar of homemade blackberry jam?  It was a bit on the thin side, but I was betting that a nice, hot oven would bake it up beautifully.  And then the sun burst out in all its glory.  Perfect!


And then it happened.

Pause.

My beautiful creations died.  The cookies flattened, the jam ran all over the kingdom, and the ingredients all joined together to taste like one greasy, buttery, salty mess.

Sometimes you have to laugh or cry.  That day I chose to laugh.  Bahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

January 20, 2012

And It Snowed

Our first real snow of the season was terribly exciting!  Elsie was thrilled to play with the white stuff falling from the sky!


The fun ended after a fitful night of strange sounds, falling things, and the electricity threatening to go off.  We were greeted in the morning with the discovery of a neighbor's tree on our house! Happy to report the fence took the brunt of the fall and there was no damage.

January 18, 2012

The Crumpet Update

What a fun adventure those crumpets were!   (Baking is an adventure.  Cooking is nothing short of an ordeal.)

The original timeline was shifted, so the bubbly wonder spent the night in the refrigerator.  The delay gave a hint of sourdough.  Still good.

I learned never to crowd too many rings on the griddle.  Just because they fit doesn't mean it's right.  See, you need room for flipping.  And because I was terrorized that my beautiful crumpets might stick, I...ahem...kind of greased the pan up a bit too much.  Those things were crammed together but still sliding all over the place, and it took some fast maneuvers to flip without flopping, plunging, slipping, or lopping.  Lopping is a word, I just checked.

Cook 'em a little longer than you think.  In my opinion, well done is a good thing.

But all in all, these were fabulous, especially with a lot of butter and honey.  Definitely worth repeating about 297 times this year.

Pictures coming soon.  Remember, I have a film camera.

January 16, 2012

Oops

Just a little something that caught my attention:

Crumpets!

It's time for tea and crumpets!  

Lucky me, I received a gift card from King Arthur Flour.  English Muffin rings are a delightful splurge, something I've eyed for a long time but couldn't justify buying.  So this is a real treat.

The English Muffin recipe is almost the same as for crumpets, the only difference being the amount of milk used. But the directions inside the box for are fairly convoluted and confusing, and definitely not worth using on a first try!  No surprise that internet holds a million recipes and methods, so after a bit of study I just picked the one that looked easy and British.  It fancies me. =)  I've now learned from several YouTube lessons that the batter has to be just right, kind of like bubbly sourdough consistency; too thin, and it seeps out under the rings into pancake oblivion.  

I am so up for the task today and I promise to share the results with you, for better or for worse.  

And really, even if the first round is a complete flop, how bad can it really be with pretty china plates, butter, jam, and honeybush tea?

I

January 13, 2012

Greenery Comes Down

It's time for the greenery to come down.  So beautiful, and loved it while it was up but now everyone's ready for a fresh New Year!

Hmmm...compared to yesterday's post about keeping things up, I think this nicely shows how many of us feel about the holidays: love to see them come, hate to see them go, ready to move on.

January 12, 2012

Candlesticks

Sometimes the really beautiful things need to stay put, regardless of the calendar that says Christmas is over.


January 11, 2012

Feather Duster

It arrived - my very own ostrich feather duster.  These feathers actually pick up the dust and hang onto it until it is shaken out.  Seems that lambswool dusters kind of push the dust around, besides being difficult to clean. Wouldn't want that, no sir!

Boy, do I feel like one lucky woman.

Maybe now I should be wearing my new black sequined apron when I clean.  This is high class.

P.S. Thanks to Sally (Esther? Flo?) the Ostrich for her contribution.

January 10, 2012

A Fine Wedding

Loved the joy in these pictures!






January 9, 2012

Lorraine's Hair

We missed this beautiful wedding, but thought of the bride and groom as they said their vows.

Thanks, Lorraine, for sharing your pictures.  I happened to find these in the bunch.

I think you are part princess.


January 6, 2012

365 Days of Giving / Day 5

gen·er·os·i·ty   [jen-uh-ros-i-tee]
noun, plural -ties.
1. readiness or liberality in giving.
2. freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character.
3. generous act: We thanked him for his many generosities.
4. largeness or fullness; amplitude.

According to the National Marriage Project Working Paper No.11-1 (published 12.8.11), regular expressions of generosity are linked to higher quality of marriages.

Of course.

But it's a good reminder.  And although the research is dedicated to marriages, in real life this applies to all friendships and those we spend time with throughout our day.  Engaging in small acts of kindness, frequently expressing respect, and regularly forgiving one another makes for a lot of nice things.

A quick text? Putting the paper down to listen at an inconvenient time?  Putting a fresh bar of soap in the shower for the next person?  Leaving a note under your child's pillow? Leaving your shoes in a straight line by the door? Stumptown coffee in any form?

I chose a quick, 1-minute shoulder rub.

Would love to hear more suggestions!








January 5, 2012

Frosty

It was a frosty morning, and someone enjoyed looking around...


When you're thirsty, just about any source of water will do!

January 4, 2012

Split Pea Soup

This was a simple concoction...onions, carrots, olive oil, ham bone, potatoes, celery, garlic, split peas, a bay leaf, oregano, and water.  Started it off by sauteeing the onions and carrots in olive oil, and then tossing everything else in on top. It simmered the rest of the day on the woodstove.

I served it proudly for 23 people.  It was beautiful.

And I watched people eat it very slowly. Quite slowly. Much too slowly.

Lesson for the Day:
No matter what you read on the internet, don't add thyme at the last minute.  Never, ever be tempted.

January 3, 2012

Pass on the Tree Lot

OK, I realize that this post is a little late.  But today was like Christmas, waiting at Costco for my roll of film to be developed.  So that's got to count for something!  (And didn't I just say yesterday that it would be a good resolution to not be bound by a calendar?  Let's work with that one.)

Here in the Northwest we have our pick of just about any tree we want.  This year we wandered down to the far reaches of a tree farm to find a big one, a perfect one just exactly right.  It took three hours - after all, it would be wrong to rush this kind of thing.


Sir Bradley did a fine job cutting it down.

We didn't know any of these people, but everyone joined in around the toasty fire.  Very fun, especially on a dry day!

January 2, 2012

New Year Resolutions

Here are two fabulous resolutions that I love:

Taking care of yourself:
We will dance every day for at least 1 minute every day.  The only exceptions are 1) if we are in the hospital or 2) if we have no limbs.  "No music" doesn't count, because we can always make our own.  We can dance longer or with friends.  But we will dance every day for ourselves.
(Thanks, Em and Sus.  May your days bring delight!)

Taking care of others:
Found this one in the paper.  A man was pretty much in the pits of life when he made a conscious decision to switch his focus from what he wanted or had lost to being grateful for the things he had.  He endeavored to write a thank you note every day to someone around him. The ensuing transformation was great enough to warrant a book.  Acknowledging others and their blessings made those blessings multiply, and it changed both him and others on the receiving end in very touching ways.

Aren't these fabulous??  They inspire me to join in and/or create my own ideas.  In a stupid way, I feel like I'm a day late...missed the boat on January 1st.  But I'm not letting the calendar limit my beginnings. (Now, there's a good resolution as well!)

So here's my personal list for 2012:
1.  I'd like to try the dancing thing.  I'm not a dancer, but I figure it's nearly impossible to try and not laugh at the same time.  We all need more laughter in our lives.
2.  365 Days of Giving.  I'm not limiting myself to specifics, and certainly not money.  It could be giving encouragement, good cheer,  a kindness, or an unselfish gift of time and talent.

Nothing like publicizing your resolutions to help make them stick.  Ahyayayaya!!!!