Friday, December 28, 2007

It was a good the time

Does anyone else remember that Lyle Lovett song? Part of the lyrics are - - -
"She wasn't good, but she had good intentions" That can sum up my blogging behavior for the last ten days. I had sooooo many good ideas, but nooooo energy. Hey kids, I've seen blogs out there that haven't had any entries for months on end. Some of them had even been nominated for "blog awards" ...go figure.
So...back when I was germ free, I had ideas for blogs running around in my head like elves on Christmas Eve...and then....the germs came.
My world was a vortex. No ideas, no energy, no nothin'.
Today I thought...what the hay....better late than never! I have the photos, why not do some belated blogging - make up for lost time.
Check out the cheese slicer from Appel Farms. I grabbed it when The Husband and I went to the cheese store to buy their yummy goudas and cheddars for my Christmas gift baskets. I used it today and really like it, gotta love a good kitchen gadget. It's simple and pretty but that's not enough for me...pretty is as pretty does...and yes... it slices quite nicely. Yay!

Speaking of Christmas baskets, I love making them. I like to fill them with all kinds of goodies....cheese, sausage, cocoa, crackers, chocolates, candy canes, candies, apples, oranges, Christmas blend coffee, sparkling cider - goodies galore. One goes to The Husands boss, one to our renters, the in-laws...sometimes more's always so much fun to deliver them. This year the fun of basket delivery was a little lost in the sneezy haze...I thought I would assemble all of them on the dining room table and take a lovely photo - uhhhh - didn't happen. This is the last one to be delivered...and yes...I snapped the photo of it in the front seat of my car.
Lovely photo composition...doncha think?

Sickie No Bloggie

So, I've been told by my blog pal Tami that I am
a very naughty blogger. No posts for dayyysss!
Sorry kids...I caught that nasty plague that seems to be running rampant. Instead of whining on-line I thought it best to lay low and focus on wellness. Besides...that's what I always do when I'm "broken", I get quiet...lay low..and mend. I thought of giving Disney a new set of dwarfs...Dopey, Sneezey, Coughie, Sniffy, Cranky, Sweaty and Droopy. I could play all the parts...not a pretty picture...I know.

Speaking of pictures, I have so many! Here are just a few from the last couple of weeks. Even though I wasn't in top form I sure had a great time!
Christmas coffee at moms with her neighbor
ladies. She still lives in the neighborhood that
I grew up in so it was really fun to be able to
see them all.

My pal Susie had a 50th birthday party! It was
at the restaurant Mission in West Seattle, great place!

Here is Susie ( in brown ) with some of the regular Sun Valley ski gang. The Husband went with me to the party...that doesn't happen very often. He can rarely attend functions in the city due to his work schedule (and let's face it...he's not much of a party guy ). It was great to have him there with me, he was almost as popular as the birthday girl since the gang hardly ever sees him. Pretty funny.

My trip to Friday Harbor was fast and furious and lots of fun. I went house shopping (dreaming) with my Favorite Friday Harbor Realtor, otherwise known as my dear pal Deb.

Check out the view from the deck of this place...wowwww. I loved the view but didn't like the layout of the house....good thing...this baby
is wayyy out of my price range. Who am I kidding,
what price range? It's fun to dream.

Love it that you can't see another house or even a rooftop!

The whole reason for the trip to Friday Harbor was to attend a 50th birthday party that Debs husband threw for her. It was really quite something. He rented Vinny's Restaurant for the evening, there was a band, a yummy buffet...heck...there were girls in gowns and gloves! Nooo...not me..I wore my Holiday Uniform - the outfit that you will see me in every photo that required dressing up.

That's Deb on the dance floor giving her hubby Pete a big smooch for throwing her such an incredible party.

OK...there are many more photos but I need to
focus on too many other things around here
that are sorely in need of attention. Like a very
messy house, putting away Christmas, loads of
laundry....annddd...spring being just around the
corner....this gardener is surfing the seed catalogs
for the best beans and peas and corn and lettuce.
No more dreaming of a White Christmas, this
gal is dreaming of fresh garden produce.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Whirly Girl

Wow...what a weekend.
A ferry ride to Friday Harbor, a tea party, a birthday party (with a band!), house shopping, new friends, old friends, lots of laughter.
Back Home.
Off to Seattle, another birthday party! Fun! More old friends and new friends and friends I haven't seen in ages! What a treat.
Home today, making lists - so far I have three pages. Yikes. I have so many fun photos to post but I'm drawing a line in the sand....I GOTTA cross some stuff of the lists before I may play on the computer.
So my friends, I'm putting on my sensible shoes and hitting the road with my lists in hand, determined to create a little bit of order out of all of this marvelous chaos.
It's wild and crazy and I'm loving every second of it. My heart is so full, I'm feeling incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. In fact, I'm loving it so much I don't have much of a voice left from too much talking and laughing. I love it when that happens, it always means I had a bucket of fun.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

From Reading to Eating

It's time for research!

Next week is the "foodies" Christmas Dinner Party...ohhh goody. I'm in charge of the soup course, it's winter and I love making soups, so being assigned this task makes me really.... so very happy.
I used to collect garden books, like a crazy woman. If I was cranky because I was working hard and traveling too much (for work) I would treat myself to a new garden book....and presto...I could pop out of the crankies in no time flat.
Now that work related travel is a thing of the past it seems my cravings for garden books have all but disappeared. Ohhh..but it it's place....
Cookbooks! I must have books by the Contessa, and Rachel, and Nigella...books just about Chocolate or Appetizers...French books, Italian books...books that have a story attatched to each recipe. I read them like novels. It's research!
Today when I was getting groceries I happened to notice a book just about dinner parties, I took a peek...I liked it, I wanted it, I didn't put it in my cart...I'm not over it. I'm having a formal dinner party in a couple of months, I really think I need that book for research.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I love birthdays

Happy Birthday Tami!

Today I'm going for lunch with my friend Tami. We're going to celebrate her birthday, I'm not going to say what number but she's eight months older than I do the math. Hint? I met Tam in the first grade and it was sometime in the 60's...oh myyy.

Incredible Guy

I met him at a New Years Eve party. I was in a bit of a funk because I had just lost a special friend and was still a little wounded. Our hosts had invited a group of old and new friends from near and far. The first thing that I noticed was how quiet and unassuming he was...and he had such lovely manners. The gossip at the party was that he had come to the city to stay with a "friend of a friend" and things just didn't work out. At pre-dinner cocktails he and I seemed to really click. Before I knew it we were all at the dinner table and he was by my side. As the evening progressed it was obvious to the other guests that he and I were an "item". A few of the other guests were commenting on the fact that he was workin' me over and might very well go home with me. Now understand, I'm not that kinda' girl. I'm quite cautious about who I let into my personal space, but....some things are just meant to be. As the evening came to a close our hosts and some of the other guests walked us out to the truck and he jumped right in. He turned to the crowd and seemed to be saying "see..I told ya so". "He" is my dog Tippy, I love him. We both won the dog lottery...we're living happily ever after. :-)
Special Message: Don't support puppy mills! If you must have a purebred check out Seattle Purebred Rescue. Better yet, adopt a stray! Tippy started out his life as a stray, he was adopted by the Wilson Family and when Mary Wilson could no longer care for him we became his "Foster Family". more thing, spay or neuter your pets! Please!!!

Try and Try Again

The old saying is true...."If at once you don't succeed..try and try again". Yesterday I was not successful posting a photo, got a little crazy/cranky with the new digital camera and the computer and the blog. I know that they were all in cahoots to see if I would either swear a blue streak orrrrrr...throw something. I did neither. I WIN. HA!
My friend Tami is right about manuals...they don't tell you squat. What they do tell you is a whole bunch of babble that makes absolutely no sense at all. My take on the whole scene is that the computer people and the camera people write lousy manuals that you can't understand so that you will go buy something else and keep consumer spending spiraling out of control, it's a conspiracy theory...ya...uh know what I'm talkin' about. Granted, I'm not a techno-geek by any stretch of the imagination but I have been known to find my way out of a cardboard box.
I'm going to keep gardening as a hobby, dirt doesn't need a manual. Oh...the photo...merry merry...the tree is making me very happy. I have the lights on two switches - we have options options options! You got yer "happy bright tree with lots-o-lights"... orrrr...yer "subtle evening dim-the-lights twinkle twinkle". Guess it's time for the wrap-a-rama, looks a little naked under that thar tree.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Learning Curve

My pal Sam is one of those brave souls that participates in the post-Thanksgiving sale mania. Lucky for me! For a small donation he picked up a lap-top for me, this was something that we've been thinking of purchasing for the last year or wasn't an impulse purchase. I'm having a great time playing with the new lap-top (my old lap top was purchased in ' can imagine how much fun that thing is).
We have a desk-top computer that we bought three years ago, it works ok but it could use a thorough up-date I'm sure. It's been to "the shop" but I don't think they did a very good job.
Soooo...the new lap-top led to signing up for a new ISP.... the clearwire thing led to this blog..the blog led to the purchase of a digital camera. I'm starting to feel like I'm spending all of my spare time reading manuals, making notes, referring back to the manual...occasionally saying a bad word. It's all interesting but good golly miss molly..I feel like I went down the information highway without looking at the map first, it's a slippery spendy slope. I'm spending like a drunken sailor and havin' a great time doin' it.
K...gotta run...the digital camera came with three manuals loaded with information. I should read them! They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Wow. Ohhh...the possibilities!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

You gotta be kidding me

Yesterday was a big shopping day for me. A big shopping day is when I spend more than an hour at is not my favorite activity. More than 20 minutes in one store and I start to get all tight in my chest and have to concentrate on doing some sort of calming breathing.
I was really happy when I got home last night because I crossed a lot of stuff off the Christmas list and also picked up some stuff for the house. Imagine my frustration this morning when I found not one..but TWO lousy purchases lurking in my bags. A pretty red sweater that I purchased at Macy's has a hole right in the middle of the front of it...guess I need to examine things more closely...annddd.....grrrrrr....a package that I bought at Rite-Aid had been opened and had half of the contents missing, including the directions.
I'm a terrible "returner" but I'm going to make myself do it today. Oh my, returning something on a Saturday... two-plus weeks before that's going to take some of that breathing I was talking about. I think I'll call my sissy and see if she wants to meet me for a snazzy drink late this afternoon, a reward of sorts for making myself go to the return counter! Should get rid of the "crankys" in an all-fire hurry.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Un- Official Tester

We all do it, try stuff and love it....or...try stuff and hate it. So completely disappointed and of course cranky that we wasted our hard earned dinero on something that was quite often purchased on a whim. If I don't like something I'm not a "returner". If it's food I either compost it or chuck it, it used to go to the barn cats but we don't have barn cats any more. If it's clothes or housewares it goes to charity.

Oprah has her favorite things and my charming gal-pal Tami has listed her favorite things too. Why should we wait a whole year to give a product a Yay or a Nay, I'd like to know whats groovy or yummy all year long. I usually manage to catch Oprahs list when she does that show, often times I'm a little bit (okay..a lot) sarcastic about how "O" doesn't exactly "get it". Of course we're all going to run out and buy that "ffaabuloouuusss coat" for $400 bucks...nottttttt!!!!! This year I really cracked up at the cupcakes that cost something in the neighborhood of 12 bucks a pop...or was it closer to 20? Can't remember...I just remember thinking..stoooo-pid! Sorry Opie lovers.

I want to be responsible with my money, I'm not always consistent - I KNOW, but I do try to think through my purchases. Examples? I've been stuck in the land of "dial up" since '99. Last week we finally got off the wallet and hooked up with clearwire. I know I know...but we live in the boonies, we can't even get cable TV. When we would check into other possibilities for better service it would either be "unavailable in you service area" or rediculously expensive. When people complain about not being able to pay their bills and they have a gigantic SUV, a super-sized flat screen TV, the deeeluxe cable package and the snazziest lap-top with the lighting speed wireless, outfits you never see them in twice, I'm really sorry...but I have to say I do my very best to chew on my tongue and not say something. I I the only one doing the math here? All those payments, all that interest, it's just plain goofy to me. Do the math, it's a nice litle down payment on a piece of vacation property my friends. Oh sheesh...this is turning into a Dennis Miller rant (of course I love his rants - just not the bad words).

And yes my friends, I watch broadcast TV, there is an antenna on my roof. I have never paid a cable bill in my life. I love doing that math, sorry if that's inappropriate. We do talk about getting a dish, The Husband and I decided two years ago at Christmas time that we wouldn't buy each other gifts, we'd get a dish. We haven't done it yet, it's a running makes people laugh at us...we laugh along with them. Laughter is good. I understand that I am missing a whole world of incredible programming. My intellectual stimulation is suffering without the dynamic, inspiring influence of Orange County Choppers, Housewives of Orange County, Ozzie and Sharon, Paris and Nicole, I understand the list goes on and on. Seriously though, I do pine for HG TV, I would love to sit on my couch with Ina, Giada and all of their friends. Mom has cable, if I really need a fix I can go to her house, sit in the tv room, waste a whole would be fun for both of us. Quality time with mom and the gals.

Okie dokie...if I still have your attention and you haven't tired of my cranky-conservative-chubby-middleage-perimenopausal babble..I have a product I tried...AND LIKED. Liked...a whole lot. Drum roll please........................

Trader Joes Cilantro Roasted Pecan Dip

I love cilantro, it's a little spicy but not too spicy, great with veggies, great with good breads. It has nice layers of flavor which is something I'm always looking for. None of the sour taste so often associated with purchased dips. The lingering taste is a nice sweet one with herby overones. It's not a thick dip though, more the consistency of heavy cream. Very different from a lot of the stuff out there. Great in the fridge for last minute wine and snackies. This one is a winner!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Vacuum Air...Ewww

Ever since I was a little kid I have had an intense dislike of what I call "vacuum air". My mom was (and is) a fabulous housekeeper. When I'd come home from school she would have quite often just vacuumed the house, the vacuum was put away in the closet but I could still smell vacuum air. I want to be a great housekeeper but it's not really something that this little apple got from the mama tree. My own vacuum air smells a lot worse than hers did because I have a big dog and a lot more dirt than she on a farm and all. "The Husband" aka Messy Man and I track in a lot of garden dirt and barn dirt and just plain - where the heck did that come from dirt! I'm a sucker for any product that manufacturers try to sell us "vacuum air freaks" to eliminate this dreaded odor from our personal spaces. I've bought drops that you put on the bag, spray to put on the bag, sticky sheets you lay over the bag or exhaust name it. Yesterday I was in Seattle and stopped off at Restoration Hardware, I was looking at the section of sheet sprays and room sprays and a lovely young sales lady started chatting with me about the scents. I wasn't even looking at the Vacuum BB's, but somehow she zoned in on me as a vacuum air sucker (pun!) and I fell for them hook-line-and stinker!
Well, today I fired up the Kenmore and did as she told me..."just sprinkle 25 beads on the floor and your whole house will smell wonderful". Suurrrreee...I sprinkled, vacuumed, sniffed, coughed, changed the bag, sprinkled, vacuumed, sniffed...andddd....ohhhh happy dayyyyy! I smell lemony fresh....wait for it.....wait for it..... dusty dirty ...lemony fresh dog! :-(
Twelve bucks down the tube, hmmmm...let me rephrase that...I guess that should be "up the tube".

Monday, December 3, 2007

My First Post...Yikes!

Here we gooooo....
Saturday night we had a small gathering here at the farm, Fred & Tami and their boys Sam and Max - Karen came too but we missed her hubby Mark and son Braden since they were out of town. The original plan was to go to the Lighted Christmas Parade in town and then come back to the farm for some yummy snacks.
Change of plans! It was very windy and realllly we opted to skip the parade and focus on the snacking and chatting.
I got crazy in the kitchen and both Tami and Karen brought yummy stuff to share.
Both gals asked if I would be willing to share my Spiced Shrimp recipe so I thought it might be a fun first post. I've always tried to pick up cookbooks when I travel and this recipe is from a book I picked up in Washington D.C. more than 20 years ago. I've altered the recipe a bit over they years to suit my taste.

Spiced Shrimp
2 pounds Costco frozen shrimp, peeled-tail on. Size 31-40 seems to work best for appetizers
1 tbsp minced dried onion
1 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced fine...I use a garlic press
Tabasco, a couple of good shakes

Thaw the shrimp and then steam them in a large pan, don't boil them because they will taste watery.
Use a large pot - I use the Belgique 8 quart, with a couple of inches of water in the bottom. My colander nests perfectly in the pot and the pot lid goes on top of that....sometimes I wrap the top of the pot with foil to keep the steam in. I steam them in two batches for about three minutes each. As soon as the timer goes off I put them directly into a glass bowl and top that with plastic wrap...this method works the best for me but I'm always learning.
Chill the shrimp, while the shrimp are chilling I whisk together the rest of the ingredients. I've never measured the spices, I just give each spice container a few shakes. Once the shrimp are good and cold I drain off any moisture at the bottom of the bowl and then top them with the spice/oil/vinegar mixture. Chill again for at least a couple of hours or overnight if you can.
Serve in a pretty crystal bowl.