Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon...


The last full moon of the year, well the decade actually.

Good night, 2009.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Lights ...

Check!

Lights are up, and I think the neighborhood raccoons think they're coming to a nightly rave (glow sticks not included).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Early Mornings, Thunderstorms, and Pumpkin Butter

 
I love early Fall mornings that look like 3 p.m. at 8 a.m., with rain pounding into every surface it can find, and a rumbling thunderstorm growling away at anyone who will listen. Looking out into the storm, I suddenly found myself inspired, and jumped into action. First thing's first, let's build a fire (by build, of course I mean turn up the thermostat until the gas kicks on, and a fire appears behind a pane of glass). After all that hard work, I dusted off my hands, and got down to business in the kitchen.

I have had two un-carved pumpkins staring at me in my kitchen since Halloween ... it seemed to me anyway, that they were looking at me in this sort of sad, "I didn't get to do my holiday duty" kind of way, because I never got around to carving them up. They didn't get to sit outside in the cold with glowing candles inside them, making onlooking children happy, and bringing a little magic to the season. I felt for them. With that thought I grabbed my big chopping knife and got to work. Sawing, hacking, scraping, peeling ... separating seeds from gooey entrails, and rind, from flesh, and putting them in the appropriate receptacles with the motions of an insane maestro furiously conducting his orchestra, I'm sure, until finally sitting before me were 8 cups of neatly diced pumpkin, and a tidy pile of seeds.

What to do now? A soup, a sauce, cookies, something traditional, or pumpkin enchiladas? My imagination ran wild with all of the possibilities! I had a whole universe of options at my finger tips, this pumpkin had opened me up to never before thought of ideas, an endless sea of gastronomic bliss could all be mine!!! I took a breath, and surveyed the fridge, and then a glimpse into the pantry, and watched my sea begin to recede and evaporate, once I realized the ingredients I actually had on hand ... hmm, pumpkin butter it is (which is not to be mistaken as some sort of consolation).

The truth is, this little concoction has revolutionized my life! Well, it at least made my mornings this week even cozier, and more delightful ... which can be more or less revolutionary depending on the day, I guess. And that is why you HAVE to have this recipe (I snagged it from the Martha Stewart website, but I made some adjustments, sacrilege I know, and it's delicious!).

PUMPKIN BUTTER WITH APPLE

4 cups diced pumpkin
1 cup diced apple
3/4 cups apple juice
1/4 cup sugar (turbinado sugar if you want to be fancy)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of salt
(you can add other things like ground clove or allspice if you want to, you can't really mess this up, so experiment!)

Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel pot, and bring to a simmer (about 20-30 min) until pumpkin is soft (try to mash it with a wooden spoon).
Continue simmering until mixture begins to thicken, another 20 minutes.
Remove from heat, and transfer to blender; blend until smooth.
Transfer back to pot and heat for another 15 minutes or until it is your desired texture.
Remove, cool, and serve.
Then I realized I needed something to spread it on, sooo ...
ZUCCHINI BREAD
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups zucchini, coarsely shredded
(I tossed in a handful of finely chopped walnuts at this stage)
Preheat oven to 375*, and butter the loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, with the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add the shredded zucchini. Stir zucchini batter into the dry ingredients.

Pour the zucchini batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let the zucchini bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Then slice, slather, and munch away! I was pleasantly surprised how this turned out. It tastes just like Fall. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Did I Mention I Love Fall?


Well, I do!

Now I've got to figure out what to do with eleventy billion pumpkin seeds!


*in case you were wondering, I accidentally burnt them...*

Thursday, October 22, 2009

See What I Mean?


Maybe my kitchen knife is a tad smaller than Excalibur, but for a moment I thought when I pulled it from the giant zucchini that I would be hailed the King (or Queen, rather) of someplace excellent!

That's not exactly what happened ... ok, it's not at all close to what happened next. Unless being elbow deep in shredded zucchini is somehow close to being royalty. Yeah, I couldn't find any parallels either. I may not have access to the crown jewels, but I've got a freezer full of zucchini pulp in case I'm ever in the mood to do whatever one does with this much zucchini!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Can Dig It, He Can Dig It, She Can Dig It, They Can Dig It, You Can Dig It...

Oh, let's dig it! Can you dig it, baby?

Well it turns out I can! Who knew? It's only been
approximately 20 years since I've been anywhere near a clam dig, and with good reason I think. First of all, I don't eat them, in fact, I avoid them with a certain level of fervor. And secondly, but perhaps more importantly, I was never a fan of freezing to death on a windy, rainy beach being Dad's designated shovel holder while he digs his limit, and then continues to "dig" mine (since we all know that would be breaking the rules ... but apparently for children if an adult brings the clam up, and the child picks it up from the loose sand that counts as the child's clam ... only Dad would ask the "Fish Hawks" as he calls them for the actual rules). However, I figured it was time to roll up my sleeves and see if there were any skills or tricks hiding up there, or just cobwebs, and I thought this would be the perfect weekend with dad to do it!

It was our last weekend together before they head South for the winter, whilst visiting grand babies en route. As it turned out it was opening weekend of clam season too, he just happened to slip into several phone conversations as the weekend approached. So it was no surprise that upon entering town, I was whisked off to the hardware store for my license. Then off to the homestead for a pre-dig lunch, with enough time to jump into our clamming costumes (which for me included about 100 pounds of clothing consisting of 5 layers of tops alone ... did I mention I hate being cold?).

Can I just take a moment to praise God for afternoon digs?! I never knew such a thing existed! Where were these when I was bounced out of bed before dawn in my childhood to brave the windy beaches as a 50 lb. icicle getting blown down the beach, knocked over, or taking the ever annoying wave over the boot?! Ok, so maybe those experiences were character building (the jury's still out on that one), and it's not like it put me totally off the dig ... just on a 20 year hiatus. Though I have to say I enjoy evening digs much more than morning digs, then again I enjoy Fall more than Spring, and maybe that has a little to do with it too.

I can't lie though, I had an absolute blast this time. That alone was worth the wait, to actually be able to enjoy it (even in pouring rain!). That's not to say that I never had fun going as a kid. I remember going to certain beaches for steamer clams and thinking this digging business was SO easy (direct attention to rule in paragraph 2). I didn't realize there was a lot more involved than just running your hands through soft sand and picking up 6 or 7 clams at a time. I'm sure Dad must've had as much fun hiding them there for me as I did finding them. I was never big enough, or really quick enough for the razor clams, when they hear you coming they scram! But I was reminded of the time Dad was bent over going for one, and he'd look up to keep track of me, and saw me just messing around with a shovel in the dry sand. Pretty soon he looks back up and sees me digging away, but he goes back to his business only to look up once more to see (in his words) "POP! Out comes a clam just as big as can be! HAHAHA!" But this trip was easily the best I've ever had. We were graced with pretty decent weather all three days of digging and even though the first evening out was a complete monsoon we were never cold, and the days only got increasingly better. Until we finally had days like this:


Which, maybe doesn't look like much, but it was lovely. It was warm, and mild, and everything felt soft except for the wet, packed sand, but when everything glowed in a thick layer of diffused sunlight there was something soft about it as well. It was almost a shame we were able to get our limits so quickly, it would've made for a nice evening picnic on the beach had we stayed longer. But I think we were all eager to get back to a cozy home, soak our little friends, and wash the sand out of our ... everything!

The only thing left to do was pull this little guy up ... the last clam of the day ... though I believe I
was in the lead at one point, but who's counting? I usually don't do well with the teacher looking over my shoulder, but I guess that's something I've outgrown.
I learned a lot this weekend, for one, that thing I'm holding is called a clam gun. I've never used one before this (designated shovel holder), and yes it was harder than it looks. I also learned that I'm willing to wear so many layers I look like the Michelin Man in order to avoid being cold, and wet, and honestly looking fluffier than usual didn't bother me, what did was trying to bend my knees in order to sit in the back seat of the truck. I learned more about my dad, I think I do every time, he's still got a few surprises left. I enjoyed the quiet times, and late nights looking through his box of old pictures, and sharing stories, and listening to the ones I didn't know, and looking as he named countless strangers off to me. I learned a few new recipes, and some old ones from a well used cook book that had belonged to his mother. I think I was told about 100 things to do with zucchini, which will come in handy since I have two Godzilla sized zucchinis staring at me in my kitchen. I also learned that relationships are what you choose them to be, ok, maybe I didn't just learn that, but maybe I was reminded. It's funny, oftentimes people think they just sort of happen, like out of the blue. They don't. They take a lot of hard work, and sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and be willing to get dirty, and other times you need to know when to relax. It's knowing when to do each of these things that can be the confusing part sometimes.
Wow, who knew clam digging could be so philosophical?
I feel like I see things differently now, like they are in better focus than they used to be. Sometimes a bit harsh, or jagged, but clearer for sure. If I walked around in fuzziness throughout my life I would miss things like this beautiful weekend ...


... and that's just not going to happen!
Here's to a safe trip for Dad & Patty, I hope they found our time to be a lovely send off.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Last Week I Dreamt ...

That I caught a fish. This was no ordinary fish, I could tell by the first hit that it was different. I set the hook, and like dropping a coin into a slot, the ride began. I was pulled this way, and that as the fish changed directions trying to make me give in. Little did it know, this battle of will would not be won so easily, but I knew I was in over my head. I dug my heels into those muddy Wishkah banks, and took turns pulling, and reeling watching what I knew would rival Jaws in size, thrashing around in the fast current until I found myself on my back giving it one last pull with all the effort I had left, and at the very same moment the fish jumped. It landed in my hand ... it was a goldfish.

I have to hand it to her, she was a fabulous little fish with fancy long fins, and she was wearing lipstick. I remember unhooking her by clipping the barb off my hook because I couldn't bear to pull it back through, and I let her go. With a wink she jumped out of my hand, and back into the water.

I don't know what any of this means.

What I DO know is that two of these guys are mine


What I also know is at that moment I couldn't have been any wetter had I been standing in a shower during the picture, the other thing I know is that I couldn't feel anything below my knees having lost my footing on the way to the "spot" in the first 20 minutes or so of the adventure. As I heard the words called back to me "Yesterday this was all a bar, and dry as a bone, guess it rained a lot last night..." *slosh, slosh, slosh he leads on in waders* No dear, monsoon was more like it! But you know what I fall for every time? "Let's see if you can make it," I don't take it as a personal challenge, I really do think I can just tiptoe on through and, well "make it." By the way, I usually don't. You'd think I'd wise up by now. But that's how it goes when Soldier Boy, and Grizzly Adams are in rubber up to their chests, you either keep up, or keep home.

I couldn't have asked for a better morning though, after our respective cups of coffee and tea my brother and I scrambled through the house to get ready for the morning bite like kids tearing off for the booty under a Christmas tree, exchanging cheap jabs about who exactly is holding up the party (we all know who was ready first, whilst not sacrificing style, I might add ... fishing is no excuse to be frumpy). It was a beautiful, cool morning, with the sun just beginning to burn off the mist hanging in the valleys. Everything about it was mild, and lovely except for the saturated colors of the landscape. It was just right.
We dropped Brad off at the head of the path that would take him north of us, and let him fish down to us, and we headed off across the field talking about things dads and daughters talk about, giving the cows a good morning call with Dad's lab in tow until we finally made it to our destination. In no time Dad had my hook baited (because no matter how old you get dads think you still need them to bait the hook, hey I'm not complaining, it's not exactly my favorite thing to do!) as well as his own, and pulled two fish out before I'd even finished my "practice casts". He decided it was a good time to move down, and it was a good thing too, I'd only had nibbles, no one was really all that interested in me, well my hook at least, I tried to not take it personally.
The next stretch of river was the ticket! But against popular belief I knew my fish was waiting for me under the Alder root ball sticking out of the bank on the other side of the river and under the "green part" which got a laugh out of everyone who heard it all morning long ... everything's green in Western Washington in September, but it made sense when you saw the V of green ferns growing down the bank, and THAT'S where I was going to get my fish. Not in the fast water like I was instructed.
Later as he recounted, "I had my back to the water baiting my hook, and heard 'tee-hee hee' giggling and turn to see a fish dancing on the end of her line!"
I had to remind him this wasn't my first rodeo as I buffed my fingernails on my shoulder ... which opened me up to "judging by those practice casts..." and that look he gives when he tips his head down and peeks at you over the top of his glasses telling you that you're full of it, and he knows it. At least fish number two backed up my claim! In all honesty we don't spend all of our time busting on one another. We shared a lot of old memories of fishing trips, stories of more recent encounters with "the big one" and cheered for everyone's catches until the rain came in, and stayed a little too long for my taste.
It was time for a hot shower, lunch, and some fish-tales ... no trip is complete without some creative embellishing! The walk across the field is more than enough time for a story to make the leap from catching a 10 inch trout, to having hooked Nessie herself and ridden her up and down the river like a bucking bronco, but I tried to keep the exaggeration to a minimum, and stick to the truth.
Two other things I know:
I'm still a Daddy's girl ... (isn't he handsome?)


... and a Mama's girl too, I'm crazy about my parents, I can't help it, and I don't want to. I think they're fabulous, and I'm a very lucky girl. I love them both, and like them as people. Imagine that, parents are real people too! I'm thrilled with the relationships I have with them, right now to me it's perfection, and I wouldn't trade it or jeopardize it for anything.

The other thing I know?
I like my trout, and camouflage with a side of
Ham. ;-p

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

XOXO
P.S. My two year old niece came outside just as we were taking these pictures, and she most certainly did NOT enjoy Aunt Stormy's stick of death.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fall is Definitely Here!

You know those chilly summer mornings where dew is on the grass glittering like a field of diamonds, and you know it's not going to last because the already revved up sun is trying its hardest to pull itself above the trees to dry everything up? There isn't nearly enough time to run for the camera, and maybe that's why it's so spectacular. You just have to enjoy it right then, you can't save it. And then there is that one morning, out of the blue, where the morning chill bites you all the way to the bone, and you know something has changed.

It's here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

*Cue the Fireworks*

The Celebration? A Blogiversary, of course! (And this lil guy's 1st birthday!)
I can't believe it's been a year already, but then I can. I feel so far away from where I was at that time, but I think that's proof that my plan (or what little of one I had) worked. I felt so bombarded by negativity, everywhere I turned there was more for the taking, as if the universe had somehow turned into ye olde high school lunch lady (hair net and all) ... you know the one who always gave out way too big of servings of drippy macaroni (a great reason to start brown bagging again). I started taking a look around, and realized I wasn't exactly helping the situation either. If what we're putting out there, really is what's coming back to us, then shouldn't we be more responsible for our actions, thoughts, expressions, vibrations, and whatever else were emitting? I admit, I wasn't doing my best (or for you life coaches out there, I wasn't showing up at 100%). This isn't my first time around the blog-block, but I'd realized that I'd started falling into the too familiar online trap of just complaining about things, or publishing rants about things that don't even matter. While getting things off your chest, and blowing off steam can be a good thing, it doesn't mean that every little gripe needs to be public, and what's the point in passing the negativity around? Does misery love company SO much that it disguises itself as a funny, or clever post so we think nothing whatsoever of publishing it? Or do we spend so much time convincing ourselves that this is a normal way to communicate, commiserate, and connect? Really? We have to connect over mutually hated topics, or things that we both discover are completely beneath us? It seemed the more questions I came up with like that, the more I saw the things around me conforming to this model, and the more I had to ask them of myself as well.

Where had all the positivity gone? Where was the creativity? Where were all the people trying to make this world and experience a better one? Why weren't more of us trying to enrich our lives and those of others, instead of tearing everyone down, and ourselves along with them? What's more difficult is when all this is found in the circles closest to us at any given moment in our lives. Suddenly you realize that you're not spoken to unless that person wants to complain about someone, something, or how bad they have it, and why they're not to blame, and every thing's unfair, and of course, they have no responsibility in their situation either. And then you start to see the people who are furious in their own lives but for whatever reason can't show what they're truly angry about (maybe they're worried how society will see them, or maybe they'll realize there's really nothing to be angry about at all), so they start projecting what's got their tail in a knot onto the people around them. Seeing this was an awakening all of its own. I would say seeing these people for who they really are, but I don't believe that. Perhaps seeing them for how they choose to be at this moment is the better explanation, because I know we are all capable of being better than how we are at any time in our lives. There is no limit to what we can be, and there is no cap to the goodness we can extend to one another. But in that moment when I opened my eyes to my personal situation, and those who were in my life in a close way ...

... for the first time in my life, I was lonely.

It was the worst kind of loneliness, in my opinion. It's one thing to be alone, and something completely different to be lonely in a crowd of people you actually care deeply about. I definitely believe that just because someone isn't loving you, or rather, expressing it in just the way you need, it doesn't mean that person isn't loving you with all they've got, but when respect goes missing, and ill-treatment begins, and one-sided relationships take over where something more whole once existed (or so you believed), then I think it's of the utmost importance to re-asses your situation.

I also believe that all change begins with me, not because I'm cosmically of almighty importance, I mean me, you, each of us, at home, on the singular level. The work needs to be focused inside. You know, kind of like scrubbing the light house windows, so the light can shine through nice and bright for everyone to see. With a little elbow grease, we'll get there. Some days we might need just a little squirt of glass cleaner, and other days we may just have to replace the glass altogether. The work will be work, for sure, but I think it is well worth it, the only thing we have to be sure of is that we are not afraid to be honest with ourselves. Otherwise all the things we do become utterly pointless. I for one, do not want to be an old, dilapidated shell of the greatness I once was, standing dark, and alone because I couldn't be real with myself, or I just didn't want to put in the work.

It was at that time, a year ago, that I decided I needed to throw myself a life preserver. I wasn't drowning anymore, but I was treading water at best, and getting very tired, I knew it wouldn't last, and I also knew that no one else had the responsibility of saving me. If you're not willing to be your own white knight, then you really shouldn't be looking off into the distance, and tapping your foot while waiting for one. I knew I had to do two things, one being the closure of the emotional gas station. No longer will I be willing to fill up anyone's tank of anger only for it to then be taken out on me, just because someone's needle is on E. And I started surrounding myself with beautiful things. Not expensive things, not material things, not anything that pumps my status up, not anything anyone else would think is "cool". Just beauty, mostly in its simplest of forms. And creativity. Since I was certainly low on it myself, I decided to at least put myself in close-ish proximity to some. That's where the blog list of "Creative Chicks" on my side bar originated. And while I was flushing myself of the disingenuous, and searching for something real, I came upon different blogs of seemingly genuine authors. They wear their flaws on the outside, and work from the inside out, they don't hide who they are, or pretend to be people they are not. They don't just say the words, and spit the rhetoric to impress other people, they say what they mean, and I believe mean what they say, no matter what. I find comfort in that. And I've enjoyed reading their words this last year, hearing of their triumphs and failures, sometimes seeing my own thoughts spread across someone else's pages. If nothing else, it is an honesty that is hard to find not only in person, but especially in a forum where you can "pretend" to be anything you want to from the privacy of the glow of your own computer screen.

So did it work? I think so. I'm not the same as I was a year ago. I feel more like myself, but different, newer, zestier, fresh-er ... ok, I'm not produce, but you get the idea. I haven't felt this way in a very long time, and certainly not since moving back to this area geographically. Am I travelling in the right direction? I don't know, but I'm moving in a forward motion, and not in a backward one, or one which moves away from my true self, and that, to me, is progress. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm not afraid, and I'm not losing myself this time for anyone.

Here's to another year! ;-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

What's the Story Morning Glory?

What a gloomy, dark morning! Though I admit, it's a nice break from the heat wave ... I never thought I'd be so happy for rain. Last night I listened to the thunder, and the rain beating itself against every surface it could find until I fell asleep again. That is until the next thunder clap, of course.

The morning looked like it was trying to recover from a pretty raucous night (who hasn't been there?), the sun trying to illuminate through layers and layers of thick, angry looking, and tired clouds, creating one of those moody mornings where the colors are so intensely rich they're usually only found in dreams. I noticed it was time to collect the seed pods off my Morning Glory. Yes, they've had a short season, but when you're in an apartment you're kind of at the mercy of the location, and work it out as best you can. Whether I plant them again sometime, I don't know, but at least I collected the seeds instead of letting them reseed themselves right into the building's flower beds ... that would go over big, I'm sure!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Good Morning!

I may be the only person on Earth who wakes up with a hot cup of decaf ... (true!) ever since slaying
the caffeine dragon about two years ago, and in doing so, once the detox ran its course, I realized I never really drank coffee for its stimulating effects. I love the taste of it, and the more I pay attention to the things I do, I've come to see I'm a creature of all things comfort. Good food, good drink, music, textures, lighting ... what can I say? I like to be cozy.

So I took a knitting intermission to brew what would turn into a tidy little latte this morning. This is where I'd probably be humming what I would consider a good intermission jingle of some sort, but not this morning ... I just thought it, and laughed to myself instead.

Anyway, I'm diving into knitting up some lusciously fall-coloured yarn (I believe you can't properly discuss fall colors without the "u") (What? It's not like my inner monologue has suddenly gone to the Madonna school of how to (poorly) rip off accents or something!) As I was saying, I'm in love with this pumpkin patch green right now, and I'm delighted by the sight of it on my purple needles (color theory 101, I know, but you can't deny it). I thought it would be the perfect color to start with being August and all (birth stone peridot, know about it!). August has never really been one of those months that "speaks" to me, but I'm beginning to appreciate her more and more. I used to despise her, because I knew once she'd gone that school was soon on the roster ... and then when they pushed it up to actually START in August, we really had our issues! But those times being long gone, I can now look at the month through different eyes, bleary with fond memories, and forgive her. I am able to appreciate her in her own right now, the winding down of summer, and the issuing of the new harvest season. It's all very romantic if you allow it.

So that's what's on the table right now. Trying out a few old things with new materials, and dreaming up some new designs to test out. Can I just say right here (because it's bugging me) no one can actually copyright anything that falls under the category of wearable apparel? I guess I can say it, 'cause I just did! Haha. Anyway, I've been seeing people in the cyber world who (wrongly) believe that this is some how possible, and it just ... in no sense of any of the terms ... ever ... could make sense, with the very narrow exception of certain things created inside the country of France, and by licensed couturiers (and if you have not been licensed you are not one, and that's a whole other blog, for sure) but even these "copyright" items are few and far between. At best a piece of art that is used as a printed pattern on fabric can have a copyright slapped on it, and if that's the case the fabric should state that it's for "home use", and it very rarely is actually protected. I just really had to get that off my chest, because running into disclaimers on garments, and accessories is getting a little rich. You may design something "new" but a scarf is a scarf is a scarf, and always will be one ... you have not invented something new, and let me tell you in the apparel industry you are hard pressed to do so; they had fringe skirts in ancient Mesopotamia, and cowls in medieval Europe ... trust me, at present even the most genius designers are technically knock-off artists. And as we know "knock-offs" are legal, "counterfeit" is not. The difference? A knock-off, just used your already regurgitated idea, a counterfeit is pretending to be yours right down to the (hopefully) licensed name on the product.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest, it drives me nuts to see all these "serious" looking *disclaimers* that have zero protection backing it up. Intimidation method? Maybe. Misinformed? More than likely. Seriously disillusioned? Who knows ... hey, I think apparel is "art" just as much as the next designer, but we also have to be real with ourselves, shelve the ol' ego and realize what it really is ... fine art goes on your wall, practical art in your hutch, and wearble art on your back.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Needed to Breathe Today.

Time Out, I'm convinced, was created by a grown up who just needed to go to a quiet place and think for a moment about life, how things develop, his or herself, and those around us. Then some parent saw this person doing it, and decided to make their children do it when, in fact, the adult is the one in need of the breather.

I took my moment.

Wrapped in a friendly blanket, hot, apple cider steaming up from my reindeer cup in hand. I curled myself up in the chair that I stained, and built, next to the seeds I dropped into pots some months earlier who've sent up their ever ambitious sprouts who continue to reach for the sky on this misty morning so palpable you could see and feel the moisture in the air as if walking through your very own cloud. Watching lazy leaves cut trails through my cloud on their way to the cool grass below while the whole world slept ... I was a million miles away.

Part of me was, anyway. The rest of me couldn't have been more here. My senses felt more alive than they have in weeks. I felt a part of everything around me, for a brief moment I was seamless with everything in existence ... or, you know, the stuff in my immediate environment, at least.

As I sat, and observed I thought about all the things we do to one another to disrupt this sense of connectedness we all share. We do this in many ways, but the one that seems to discourage me the most is how we choose to communicate with each other ... not necessarily the words we use, but how about the words we don't use?

If time is relative, and not something we're constantly chasing, or running out of, losing, or gaining, then how is it so many of us don't have enough of it to devote to actively communicating to those around us? What is keeping us from meaningful exchanges if this "time" business is an illusion? Are we really that self-centered? Do we just not care? Are our egos intoxicated by the idea of making other people feel as though we see them as somehow less important than ourselves?

In this moment on my patio I found myself thinking about a class I was in my last semester at college. It was all about communicating, public speaking, how powerful our words are, and lack thereof, how to use them effectively, how to work closely with other people, and how to create a respectful environment, among other things. It was more than just a "do a silly speech about how to make jam on toast until you no longer fear speaking in front of peers" kind of class. It broke down who you thought you were, and showed us that in essence we are all the same; our fears were shared, we all had things to overcome. They may have been different, but we all had them even if at different saturation levels. It taught us that communicating is more than just chicken scratch on paper, or noise we're just spitting out at other people. There's a reason why we do it, in fact probably several at any given moment. But the underlying reason every time would arguably be that the person trying to express something thinks it is important to do so. When we ignore it, or listen to just the parts we like, or respond to just the things we're interested in, what are these actions saying about us as individuals? I am more important than you.

It's not a very attractive way to present ourselves to the world, not in the superficial sense, but more that it's not an effective way to attract people into your life, or keep them there for that matter. It's no wonder that the very people who live in this way are often disgusted by the fact that they are not listened to or given what they feel is appropriate face time. If like, does indeed, attract like then it is no surprise that people who neither wish to treat others in this manner, nor wish for themselves to be treated as such, don't stick around. I know I find myself retreating when it's apparent . It would make sense then to heed the call of those before us who grace us with their notions that being the change you wish to see, will indefinitely bring about change, before we're all just a bunch of squawking noisemakers with nothing of any value whatsoever to say.

Which wouldn't matter anyway, because none of us would be listening...

And with that, I finished the last swig of cider, and padded my slipper-ed feet back inside.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

When One Cat Opens a Door

Another jumps out the window. Is that the saying? Well if it's not, that's what happened anyway. The day I wrote about my stray, my sister's indoor cat escaped, and hid by the mailboxes until the mailman found her. Poor baby, was pretty traumatized, and ragged, but our other sister got the call and went to bust her out of The Clink.

So instead of coming up with wildly creative content to discuss here over the weekend, and start off August in a blogging frenzy, we were scattered, searching for our little Smokey, hanging posters, and tromping through flower beds, and shrubs ... but it was all worth it, just to get her back.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Stray Cat Strut...


... incidentally, he does walk right by with his tail in the air, which of course made me think of the song and, in turn, sing it to him while he lolled in catnip.

I know I'm about two mammals, a marsupial, and three reptiles away from being a regular zoo, but this little guy needed some help. Found in the industrial part of town, on a trail behind freight terminals back where you could film an opening scene for an episode of Law and Order, on the hottest day of the year, this little, nameless dude had nowhere to go. So for two days in a row, I've been a foster mommy, and we'll see how it goes. Poor baby is terrified of loud noises, and being left in a room alone, but his scraped up nose is on the mend, and he no longer smells like garbage, and finally eats at a pace where it appears he may believe the food is not actually going anywhere.

Big Sister, on the other hand, is adjusting better than i imagined, though she's not taking any lip, and when new guy hisses at her she's quick to put him in his place. I'm hoping this is just a small kink to be straightened out, if not for long-term, at least until this little guy calms down enough to place with a new mommy. Until then he'll be recouping here ... Passages of the animal kingdom, apparently.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Too Hot to Blog

Brunch, on the other hand, is always a good idea!



She's my favorite raccoon this year, well her and her boyfriend Arne (full name: Arne Gonnafeedme). Arne digs in all of my flower pots, and stands up against the glass door looking for me, or I should say, until I look at him, and this little mama is known for falling asleep on my patio after a little midnight snack. But as I understand it, pregnancy is exhausting no matter who you are. Her babies are here now though, and she's been one busy girl. Some days are advanced foraging lessons, while others are reserved for tree climbing 101.

It's been such an unexpected pleasure to meet this little gang of bandits this week!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Re-Introducing...

The Etsy banner (er, since the last one had a glaring typo ... nothing screams pro like a spelling error! Haha):


Soon to be up and fully operational!
(It's a little small, but you get the idea)

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Stonecutter

There was once a stonecutter, who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day, he passed a wealthy merchant's house, and through the open gateway, saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages; shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!"

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it - a huge, towering stone. "How powerful that stone is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a stone!"

Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the stone? he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stonecutter.

Chinese / Japanese Fable
Author Unknown

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Come Sea. Comme Ça.

That's exactly how I felt last Thursday after a scorching hot day that kept dragging out like the Kate & Leo version of Titanic (did it really need to be so long?), and then something changed. A breeze came through my window carrying with it that certain bite only sea air can bring to revive you on days like that. It also brought that familiar smell of the beach ... you know the one that smells like sea plants, and the inside of a clam shell, and as I followed the breeze backward to its origin I was met with the moody, clouds that looked like they'd been colored with octopus ink from Oregon that we were promised earlier in the day. Even though I don't think we actually got the lightning we were warned about, there's that undeniable energy in the air that always comes with clouds that puffy, and that dark, and that's when I thought to myself: Come sea. Just like that.

You know the people who visit their family's motherland, like the rolling, green, velvety hills of Ireland, and instantly feel as though they've belonged to the land their entire lives, and have finally come home? That's how I've come to feel about the sea. I've loved a good romp on the beach since childhood, but it's becoming more apparent that it's much less of a preference to be near it, and more of a pull you feel deep inside and can't control, but can only be aware of. As long as I can smell the sea, and feel its air on my skin, and hear it, and be close enough to visit it on a whim, I'll be home.

Maybe it's the Viking in me that makes me crave fjords, and foggy days, maybe it's something in my name that makes me feel a connection to the deep colors of the sea and its sky when they have their conjoined mood swings (maybe those mood swings and mine make me think I understand her), but I love her every way ... yes in a box with a fox, but definitely not wearing socks. Whether I'm dunking my toes into the always chilly salt waters of the North, or night swims in what feels like bath water in Mexico's Pacific splashing around in its glowy phosphorus, or holding in your hands, if only momentarily, the colors of the Caribbean that you think could only possibly exist in illustrated story books (and in the carpet my mother let me pick out for my bedroom as a kid), or standing at the very narrow tip of an island in the Northern Atlantic at sunset watching a sound meet an ocean like each roll of the waves is the slightly overly aggressive handshake at an interview, I'm home.

It's funny when it takes the smallest thing like the tiniest blow of a breeze before a storm to make you finally realize something that's always been there.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Verdict is in:

GUILTY on 12 counts of being delicious!


After much anticipation, they're finally here, but not without mishaps ... though it really wouldn't be baking with me if there weren't any (like the time I mixed up baking soda, and powder for the lemon squares, but that doesn't really count because my way turned out better anyway). You might be wondering why the tops look particularly shiny, well that's what happens when you can't get the frosting right, and have to scrape it off 3 times (and that's before I started drinking). So the tops are not only frosted, but "glazed" as well. I realized something went very wrong when the frosting I loaded into the super shooter came running out when I turned it business side down. Back to the mixer with it! Way too many portions of confectioner's sugar later, and my frosting was none the thicker ... more of it, just not thicker. Realizing it was much too late to call my mother and desperately whimper "Help," I grabbed for the flour...

"I'll make you thick!" I proclaimed into the night air like a madwoman through my open window that did nothing to cool my house and 350* oven. Frosting or glue, I didn't know what would transpire, nor did I care as I shoved teaspoon after teaspoon into the flour sack ... ok I only did that twice, and it seemed to do the trick. So I stopped there, and ladled frosting out of the mixing bowl and slapped it onto the tops of twelve delightful cupcakes whose tops looked like the glistening cheeks of a teething baby with my wooden spoon for the last time.

I know you're dying to have as much fun as I did, and far be it from me to withhold that kind of joy ... without further ado, I give you:

Red Velvet Cupcakes
By way of Tori Spelling


CUPCAKES:

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 ounces water
2 ounces red food coloring *Edit* Can I just say, this really is overkill? I used 1 oz and it was still more than enough.
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter *Edit* I would seriously consider using 1/3 cup
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

MAKE CUPCAKES:
--pre heat oven to 350
--grease 12 cupcake cups or line with paper liners
--cream softened butter and sugar together till fluffy
--add eggs and blend well
--in separate small bowl combine cocoa and food coloring and stir. Once you have thick paste then add to mixture.
--sift salt and flour together into mixture
--add vanilla, buttermilk, and water to mixture
--in separate small bowl combine vinegar and baking soda. Fold into cake mixture
--pour mixture into cupcake cups.
--bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a wood toothpick inserted into middle of cupcake comes out clean.
--let cool for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto rack and let finish cooling.

MAKE FROSTING:
--blend together cream cheese softened and butter softened.
--add powder sugar and vanilla extract
--blend till smooth

FROST CUPCAKES!
(As many times as you need to)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It Triggers a Whole New Era

Of Ease, Convenience, and Versatility in the Kitchen: What is this miracle gadget you ask? Why, none other than the Wear-Ever Super Shooter, of course!

Let's hope it holds up to the boasts on its "box" (and I use that term as loosely as possible), because anything that will revolutionize my kitchen experience (whether it's from the 1970s or not) is definitely welcome in my world. But the boasting doesn't stop on the front of the box, according to the sides I can make "picture perfect cookies, eye-catching appetizers, garnished entrees, and filled pasta". While the other side advertises "beautiful candy mints, easy filled desserts, delicious deviled eggs, and interesting salads (if that's what you wanna call the last one, but I'd call it a picture of Romaine lettuce with tomato wedges standing in cliques around the plate with orange goo in the middle of each tomato huddle, perhaps that's why I'm not in the advertising business).

Now, I know you're asking yourself, "Where on Earth did she find this radical Appliancesaurus Rex?" I'll tell you. This delicious relic came courtesy of my mother on her winter trip to see her grandbaby, and this is the first time I've pulled it out of the box since ... ok, that's a lie. I looked at it once to verify that the trigger was, indeed, 1970s green. And to my delight, it is, although it's much more lime rather than scary Brady Bunch green in person. But don't think that you can't actually get these anymore! As I was googling (I love the digital age!) for the missing user's manual (I know it all seems pretty straight forward, but there are some parts here that I can't for the life of me remember how to put where) I found this VERY model on sale for nearly $60. Who knew my mom was so cutting edge with kitchen gadgetry in a previous lifetime?

Anyway, I'm feeling like pretty hot stuff with my new muffin tin and this guy who I hope will help me in frosting my cupcakes I've been whining about making for ages now. Even if I don't get the hang of this thing, they can't turn out worse than if I smear it on with a knife (frosting things is definitely the gene I'm missing from my mother).

Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers (or so they say)



I've given May a fair shake at this "May flowers" racket (being the last weekend of the month and all), and just who brought the May flowers this year, hmmm? We can thank our local store with in house garden center, or rather the stuffy green house the store got them from.


I started things from seed packets this year, I over-wintered my geraniums from last summer, I even took cuttings, and in the end I had to cheat anyway. Good thing I'm not trying to champion a great moral lesson here. Does the end justify the means? I dare say in this case, YES!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Post of Many Colors

Much like Dolly's coat, my color deck is, uhm, slightly ghetto, but if you don't have the pressing need for a professional Pantone color swatch book, then this is the route for anyone who finds themselves eyeball deep in paint projects, especially if there's a certain brand you prefer.


However, I don't think I can take full credit for the idea of going to your local hardware store and swiping one of each paint sample, bringing them home, punching holes into the corners, and slipping them onto a ring. I swear I heard it on one of those do-it-yourself shows that you have on in the background while you're doing the dishes or something. Anyway, I found myself with the idea once again lately and thought I should give it a whirl. I hate having to head to the hardware store every time I want to brainstorm a color selection, and I really get annoyed when I'm trying to explain something and I don't have something visual with me to get the point across. I have a laundry list of other reasons, but the first two really were all I needed to get me motivated to put on my pink, newsy cap, and bug-eye sunglasses and make my way to Lowe's with my large purse.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Told Myself I Wouldn't ...

... start a new knitting project for a while, but such is the life of a pie-crust promise (thanks Ms. Poppins!) - easily made / easily broken. So here I am on a moody, rainy day several rows deep in the basic of basic knitting patterns (brought to us by Her Highness), but I'm still a novice, and I've never worked from a pattern before and could use the practice at figuring out the lingo.


So far so good. I've only had to start over twice, but in my defense I couldn't decide if I wanted to go the full 32 stitches or shrink it to 30 stitches across. I know, I know ... two whole stitches, does it really matter? And the answer? I started over twice, fill in the blanks! Haha.
;-)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bonne Idee Is Almost Here ... Hide The Eggs!!!

Before I start, can I just say ... what exactly about snow on the 31st says "out like a lamb" hmm? Perhaps March can enlighten us on that when it's convenient for her. And I'd just like to let her know that having my flowers frozen wasn't exactly convenient for ME.

So what does a bonne idee and Easter have to do with each other? Not much in my house, other than it sounds like "bunny day". Though I HAVE had a few ...



You may be asking why that child's purse has bunny ears ... I'm asking why ALL purses don't have bunny ears? Ok, I'm not, but I love getting to live out my guilty pleasures on my one year old niece. I love being a girl, and she does too! I have yet been able to sneak lip gloss onto my lips around her without hearing the faint smacking of little lips that think they need some too, never mind all the pleasure that follows when she figures out it tastes like coconut (or, yes sometimes even bubblegum ... what can I say?). Well now she can have her own, and give Mommy back the "stolen" lipsticks she can never seem to find when she's getting ready. What else are aunties for? (Remind me to change my number when light shades of baby pink are smeared into carpets, and furniture.)
Anyway, my other bonne idee was finally getting a pic up of these wound around my version of these which happens to be these (well a random cross section since i got a little carried away where volume is concerned):


And the final bonne idee was getting this little guy knitted up, if you remember his conception. Well I think he's turned out quite handsome, myself...

...but he is a little small for me, so I'm sure we'll be passing him along to a certain niece as well. It feels good though, to get loose ends tied up, or knitted up, whatever the case may be.
Speaking of knitting, I've got piles of projects to photograph, and I've finally learned the 1x1 rib! Which I believe was Saddam Hussein's favorite rib knit ... yes, he was a knitter. Just when you thought you had nothing in common with an evil dictator!


'Til next time xoxo!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Rock Rough and Stuff with My Suffolk Puffs

We can thank Lady of Rage and her obscure early 90s song Afro Puffs for my title today, oh and a little place called Suffolk, and its patchwork technique used by its peasants a long, long time ago ... and this is pretty much where the history lesson ends.


There are some theories as to how the name came about ... I'm thinking, where's the secret? They're puffy, and apparently popular in Suffolk (once upon a time) enough for them to absorb the name. They made a come back in the 1930s and 1940s thanks to a little something we call a depression, and the convenience of these stylish little puffs being created out of rather small pieces, and scraps of fabric. We may be seeing them make another come back if the economy keeps it up (Dow up a hundred points? Heh, we'll see). Ok, enough mini-rant. Anyway, somewhere along the way they picked up the name Yo-yo ... which I found confusing the first time I heard it, I guess I'm too literal. I mean, sure they're round like the two outside pieces of a yo-yo, but lots of things are round, and there's no middle thingy, and where's the string?

As you can see I only got so far with my research on the origins of Suffolk Puffs. Really, I should be satisfied, but I somehow want more. But that's not important, what is important is the fact that I need about 974 more puffs for the future quilt I plan to make (at the rate I'm going, I may have that done by the time I'm 60. Perhaps that's a slight exaggeration, ok, I'll only be 59 by the time I'm finished). I'm kind of excited about this undertaking, even though I'm approaching it with the vigor of a garden slug, I like the idea of taking something traditional but doing it in unexpected materials, or more lively colors to get a different result. I hate to say it, but I find a lot of crafts, or projects extremely doubty, and tired looking, and completely uninspired. So that's why I've decided to rock some Suffolk Puffs ... my way!

Friday, March 20, 2009

She's Here, She's Here, She's Finally Here!!!

Spring that is. I just hope she's really ready to come out and play, and give poor PMSing March a break. Her nerves must be shot by now, with what her mood swings have been doing to my internal clock, surely my little bi-polar bear of a month needs a rest! Snowing one minute, 50* the next, a Pacific Northwest version of a monsoon the moment after that ... girl, I need a break, and frankly you do too.

So here's the deal. I'll stop talking about you behind your back, if you just promise to tone it down a little with the weather. I'm not asking you to move mountains here, just pick a season already. Truce?


I'm sorry, I don't have an olive branch, will these do?

Heather Bailey™ Bitty Booties Pattern: Here

*Edit: I don't exactly know which part of the truce thunder, hail, and sunshine is, but I do admire your sense of humor.