Saturday, April 28, 2012

getting nerved up

It's almost May 1st which means I can officially start to obsess about the details of the birthday party. Regis said he would email the band to find out about any food-related issues on May 1st. He flat-out refused to do it before that date.

My skirt came in the mail the other day. I'm going to press it later this afternoon and try it on with different shoes and tops to see what kind of look I want. Regis thinks this is a little crazy. When I ask him what he's going to wear he looks at me like I asked the name of his space ship. Apparently men are not concerned about what to wear.

I spent some time shopping on 6pm this morning, put about 8 pairs of shoes in my shopping cart for review later. Half of them are already gone. All wrong. Ah, it's tough being a compulsive worrier about stupid details.

Back to the projects.

saturday things to do

We had a party last night to honor the impending birth of Baby Valentini. Mostly colleagues and customers of River Rock. We had a wonderful time and it was not a traditional shower. It was non-gender specific, it involved wine and beer, the menu consisted of chicken wings, cheese, bread and olive oil, and dark chocolate covered almonds.

The theme of the night was favorite childhood books.

Gus was allowed at the party and for the most part, he behaved himself. He caught on fast, that when he heard a car door slam, another person who might be interested in petting him was coming. He loves people.

I have several projects I need to get done this weekend. I volunteered to write the bios for the school retirement thing on Wednesday and I've been dragging my feet. I should learn from this, shouldn't I? Some things in life, when the time is right, should just be left to float over the horizon like a big balloon.

I need to write a short speech for a friend of mine who is retiring this year. This is a task I look forward to because I have it mostly written in my head and I like Ann.

I need to gather up some summer clothes to take to the consignment shop on Tuesday. And I need to spend some time learning about social media marketing. Almost everything I learn serves to show me how much more there is to learn.

Better get started...

Friday, April 27, 2012

ways stuff gets into your head

I started reading Anna Quindlen's book, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, and my first thought, after highlighting all over the place, was that I need to buy the real book. I have done this before with favorite books. Regis on the other hand, always has the urge to get the audio book when he stumbles onto something he loves. Interesting how we savor the things we read in different ways.

Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Rouge Vignoble de la Vialle

I was in the local MGM store yesterday, buying wine and beer for a party tonight. Not sure how many people to expect, I bought two boxes. Emily, who is so much fun to shop wine with (She's the one who remembered several years later, the name of a South African wine I liked.) saw my purchases and thought they were random. It's a good thing I didn't run into her until I was done because I always spend too much if she is making recommendations!

I happened to mention the French wine maker at the vineyard we met last Saturday. You like French wine, she says. I'm not sure, I say. She brings me four bottles of French wine they tasted that day and said I should take them home to try them...they would just go to waste. Ah!!! This one was lovely. I took a bottle across the street to the neighbors...we like to wine elf each other from time to time.

I had to document this wine in the blog because I'll never be able to remember the name once the bottle goes into the recycler.

So, here's to Friday and Cotes du Rhone!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

early morning

I love waking up before 5 a.m. Sometimes I think I would enjoy sleeping late but I like the easy transition to the day...dark to light, silence to sound, lazy to busy. I haven't used an alarm clock, except for rare occasions, for years. I hate being blasted out of sleep by an alarm.

The down side of this is that I rarely see the other end of the day.

I went to a Social Media Marketing seminar the other day that was fascinating and exciting and almost made my brain explode. So much to learn. There were people in the class who didn't know what a blog was, had never seen Facebook, and had never received a tweet. That's why you can't stop...all of a sudden you are behind and can't catch up.

I'm reading several books now, by or about women as they age. Anna Quindlen's book. Amazon says: In this irresistible memoir, the New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize Anna Quindlen writes about looking back and ahead—and celebrating it all—as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all the stuff in our closets, and more.

This book by Florida Scott-Maxwell's book called The Measure of My Days. This is what the Amazon review says: explores the unique predicament of one's later years: when one feels both cut off from the past and out of step with the present; when the body rebels at activity but the mind becomes more passionate than ever. Written when Maxwell was in her eighties, The Measure of My Days offers a panoramic vision of the issues that haunt us throughout our lives: the struggle to achieve goodness; how to maintain individuality in a mass society; and how to emerge--out of suffering, loss, and limitation--with something approaching wisdom. Maxwell's incredible wisdom, humanity, and dignity make The Measure of My Days both timeless and timely--an important contribution to the literature of aging, and of living.

And the Julia Child biography that I mentioned in a previous post. I wish I could have met her.

I don't have any thoughts on aging. At least none that I can articulate right now. I exercise to stay out of the nursing home. I think about getting older. I enjoy my life right now and wouldn't choose to be younger if I could. I have gotten a little wiser about some things but many things are still a mystery. That's about it.

I don't know why I can't (or won't) write my own book reviews. Maybe for the same reason I won't join a book club. It feels too much like school. I always feel like I barely survived being an English major with my love of reading in tact. They do their best to bleed it out of you, believe me.

I learned at the seminar the other day that blog posts should be 250-350 words. Whoa. That's not very many. Maybe that's more a marketing kind of blog. I guess you can stop after 350 words if this gets too long for you. Ha!

I'm going to exercise this morning. Regis begged off so he is sleeping in with the dog, who likes to get up for a while to see what's doing on and then return to bed with whichever human is still there.

Gus is going to the PAW today. He's had a big week...several trips to the dog park in Mankato, a walk with Bob, Emily, and the kids last night, and now this afternoon at the PAW. He gets out more than I do. Really.

Monday, April 23, 2012

monday rambling and boys who climb

I went to the Pulse this morning where Rachel tried to kill me. Haha! Just kidding. If it weren't for her, I would be a weakling. She worked my body hard and now I'm writing on my blog to exercise my mind.

I talked to an artist friend of mine one day and she said she writes in a morning notebook every day. Sometimes draws in the notebook. My blog is like that. I have no theme but I wander from subject to subject, documenting holidays, archiving recipes, ranting about this and that, planning my days, thinking on paper.

Regis and I had a funny thought this morning. We thought we should turn on Fox news at the fitness center and then rant loudly about our liberal political views. Boo. Hiss. How rude would that be?

Tiffany and Elliot came over yesterday mid-afternoon. We made Snickerdoodles and chicken wings then Elliot and I walked to the park by the swimming pool. You can't ever plan to get somewhere quickly with a three-year old because they are delighted by every flower, every bug, every dog, every person. He loved to roll in the grass and run circles around the trees. I had to explain quietly that some people have big dogs who poop and pee in the grass...not good to roll in that. How does it happen that we lose that absolute delight in everything we see?

Elliot taught me how to walk like a penguin. He would laugh out loud and shout, "Happy feet, Nana!"

We made it to the park eventually where I discovered that he loves to climb and he's fast. At one point, I was afraid he was going to get higher than I could reach and we would be stuck there...Elliot afraid to come down and me afraid to go up...and me with no phone.

Peter was a good climber, too, and sometimes I would look out the window of our split level home to see him perched in a tree, looking in. It terrified his Grandma Edna but I gave up after a while. I couldn't follow him around every second.  So nice when they get a little older and have a little more common sense.

I'm reading a biography of Julia Child. Every year, she and her husband Paul, made Valentines to send their friends. This is the one they made in the 1956 at the height of the Joe McCarthy bull crap. What a hoot. Don't you love it? I wonder who took the photo, now that I think about it.

If you don't know much about her life, it would be worth it to do some reading. Here's an article in Vanity Fair and this is the book I'm reading.

I highly recommend it. It tells the story of the development of the first book on French cooking but also tells the story of her life and her life with her husband. Great story.

My friend, Jill, commented on the blog yesterday that I was better off in the front of the bus. I should correct that perception if anyone else is laboring beneath it. (Can you labor beneath a perception? I know you can be under an impression.) I might have had a partial seat in the front of the bus but I spent a fair share of time in the back of the bus. I know where the fun is happening! Ha! I didn't want anyone to think I changed my stripes.

Regis is home now and it's looking like I am going to have to be productive today. Here I go.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

post-wine trip

We made the 3rd almost annual wine trip on the Tremendous Blast yesterday. I was nervous about coordinating the whole event so I didn't take one photo the whole day. Besides, my chief photographer, Regis, was not along.

When people asked where he was, I said I sold his seat which isn't far from the truth. Actually, I sold it three times and we were over-booked by at least three.

No photos means you get my word pictures.

When people came into the bar at 9:15 to begin signing up, in true former teacher fashion, I had all my documents laid out in an orderly way...sign up sheet, payment check-off, email list, bus buddy sign-up, and agenda. All went swimmingly.

I thought we would have a few no-shows but everyone showed up, in fact, we had someone come down just hoping to get a seat on the bus. How could I say no to that?

I took the partial seat which I thought was only fair since I was responsible for the packed conditions. It worked out just fine.

Bottles of wine were corked or uncorked before we left the city limits. I'm not sure which word is correct since they charge a corking fee when you ask a restaurant to take the cork out. Go figure. Anyway, the wine flowed pretty freely, mostly in the back of the bus. Seemed like sort of a continuum of consumption from the back of the bus to the front of the bus although I didn't see anybody declining a taste.

The first place we went was in Hutchinson, called Zella's. Their food was delicious and the wine was one of my all-time favorites. Here's what their website says about what they do: At Zellas, the integrity of our cuisine stems from the origin of our ingredients. We consider the quality of our food seriously and strive to offer the very best to our guests through our commitment to local and organic ingredients whenever possible. I think I'll call tomorrow to thank them, and to find out the name of that wine.

Our next stop was Crow River Winery, right outside of Hutchinson. It's a lovely place and the service was great. They seemed very happy to have our tipsy group tumble into their tasting room! We tried a lot of wines, some of which I liked and some of which I didn't, which is why you taste them, right? Check out their website here:

Back on the bus for the trip to Sovereign Estates in Waconia. We poured into this place, too, and were served by a sweet young vintner from France, Thijs Verschuuren. The ladies, of course, were fascinated. Nothing like a French accent. Ha! I loved the first wine that tasted drier to me than most. 

This is the one most people loved:

Later, I had a glass at the bar while most of the patrons of the tour waited on the bus. I told them we weren't leaving until 5 and I meant it. Besides the bus driver was in the bar...not drinking but waiting. Smart guy.

We were on the bus at 5:00 and back at Patrick's at 6:00 which is exactly what my schedule said. Ta da.

The thing I love most about these trips is the people. We have a group of about 15-20 that started out on the first wine trip a few years back. Now, they all invite an extra person or two along because we have such a good time. It's a wonderful mix of younger (25ish) and older (60ish) and sometimes friendly connections occur between what seems to be unlikely combinations. I think that the wine, the good food, the camaraderie on the bus and at the tables is powerful magic. It's good for the soul.

Back to Sunday. My POD (plan-of-the-day) is to pay some bills, tidy up the house, make Snickerdoodles for Elliot, make chicken wings for Regis, take a nap, read a book, and maybe, at the end of the day, a glass of Traminette. Just to remember the experience of yesterday.

Friday, April 20, 2012

sleepless in st. peter

I've used this picture before and it's in my folder called favorites. It's the perfect illustration of what the nights feel like when sleep eludes and anxieties rage.

I've never been able to figure out what comes first. Am I sleepless because I'm anxious or am I anxious because I'm sleepless?

It's been a busy week. I don't think I'll do a recap except to say that my Cousin Deb was here on Wednesday from Arizona and we had the nicest visit. After a walk downtown to do some shopping, we sat at the table for hours. We cooked on the grill, munched some interesting appetizers, told some old and new stories, laughed until we cried. Just like always. It was a lovely time.

Our 3rd annual wine trip is tomorrow. I am, like my husband, having a hard time working up the right amount of enthusiasm for it. When things start to feel like work, the joy disappears pretty fast, in my experience. This one has involved many changes, many phone calls, disappointed friends who thought they were on the list but weren't, and people who wondered why they didn't know about it. Jeez, did you miss the universal message spelled out in the stars?

I have been dissatisfied with my reading life again. Finally, last night, I deleted a book I have been reading for MONTHS and I was still only 70% finished with it. Travels in Siberia felt exactly like that....a trip across the tundra. No wonder those people drink a lot of vodka. I read a book last week that was painful right up to the end, by an author I have enjoyed in the past. I started something a few days ago that has too much fantasy in it for my taste.

I sound like a grump, reading this over. I'm not, if you know me, at all a grump. I'm usually very optimistic. Maybe I use the blog, from time to time, as a way to unload the willies from my head.

I had a meeting last night with a woman at work. We've had some trouble communicating because she is very serious and focused and I am very silly and random. Ha! We agreed to be open and accepting of who each other is, to appreciate what the other has to offer, and to not attempt to change our basic natures. If only more nations could do that...less war, right?

Regis and I have been cooking some amazing things. He made little fillets the other night that were cooked to perfection.

I made this recipe for something called dukkah the night Deb was here. From David Lebovitz's blog: Called dukkah, it’s a Middle Eastern blend of toasted nuts and spices ground together. I serve it with crudités – seasonal, raw vegetables like fennel and radishes, endive or spring onions. To enjoy dukkah at its best, dip a crudité into olive oil, then dip it into the dukkah and crunch away.

We had a little trouble getting it to stick to the vegetables and decided we loved it sprinkled over a little puddle of olive oil so you could dip bread in it.

1 1/2 cups

¾ cup (100g) hazelnuts or almonds
½ cup (70g) sesame seeds
½ cup (150g) pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seed
3 tablespoons cumin seed
1 tablespoon fennel seed
2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
2 scant teaspoons fleur de sel, or fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

2. Toast the hazelnuts or almonds in the oven until they begin to turn golden and smell toasty, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and, is using hazelnuts, transfer them to a paper bag or a tea towel which you must close around the nuts so they steam slightly and their skins blister away from the nuts. Note that hazelnuts tend to roast unevenly, and you may need to return some of them to the oven to continue roasting. When the hazelnuts are cool, rub them in the towel or bag to remove as much of the papery skin as possible. For almonds, they toast more evenly and do not need skinning.

3. Place the sesame seeds in a heavy skillet and toast them over medium heat, shaking the pan constantly, until they turn golden and smell toasty, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan, and repeat the process with the pumpkin seeds

4. Place the coriander seeds in a small, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and toast just until they begin to smell fragrant, about 45 seconds. Remove from the heat. Repeat with the cumin seeds. Repeat with the fennel seeds.

5. Place the hazelnuts, sesame seeds, and the salt in the work bowl of the food processor and pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Add the seeds, the pepper, and the paprika and process until the mixture is finely ground. Be careful not to over process so the nuts don’t become oily. Transfer to a serving bowl.

I bought toasted almonds and toasted pumpkin seeds so I skipped the step involving the oven. I also forgot to buy sesame seeds so I just added a couple drops of sesame oil to give it the flavor.

We had chili lime chicken breasts with chipotle aioli one night and flank steak and grilled peppers one night. I like how recipes evolve the more you make them and soon you can't even recall the original way you learned to make a dish.

Joanne is stopping by after work for a glass of wine and l’apéritif. That's a French word I just learned from a blog. I might serve some of the dukkah and wrap chunks of feta with prosciutto. Sounds nice with a glass of red wine on a chilly spring day.

I've been a slacker at exercise the last two weeks and need to get back on the horse. I have learned that it's not good to beat myself up over this but to just get back at it the next week. Sometimes shit just gets in the way. I wish I had the gumption to run that 5k at Gustavus on Sunday but I'm not sure I do.

Here I go into the day. In spite of my sleepless night and my worries and all the bad stuff happening in the world, I'm putting on my running shoes and going to the Pulse. Then I'll put on my apron and go to the coffee shop to visit with customers. I believe in stubborn gladness.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

parking lot, etc.

I woke up early and watched this documentary: The Parking Lot Movie. I loved it. I'm going to copy the about section because if you don't read about it, you may not bother to watch it either. It really was a great video.
Often described as the documentary version of Clerks, The Parking Lot Movie follows a select group of parking lot attendants who work at The Corner Parking Lot in Charlottesville, Virginia. The eccentric brotherhood of attendants consist of grad students, overeducated philosophers, surly artists, middle-age slackers and more.
Located nearby the University of Virginia and tucked in behind a number of bars, the assortment of overeducated attendants who work at The Corner Parking Lot have to deal with throngs of drunken frat boys, vandals, and SUV-driving jerks who either take off without paying or fight them over sums as low as $0.40. Fortunately in this establishment the normally agreed upon rules of customer service don’t exist. Disrespect the staff and face the consequences.

In what becomes a discourse on American life, these overeducated parking attendants wax profoundly about car culture and capitalism, seek vengeance against entitled patrons and thieves, and make fun of drunken jerks.

If the intersection between the status quo and the quest for freedom is their ultimate challenge, could a slab of asphalt be an emotional way station for The American Dream?

Yesterday, we celebrated Peter's 25th birthday with a lunch at Pappageorge. Here are a few of the highlights. 

We grilled Peter gently about his new job and his plans for moving. Of course, on his list of necessities for apartment living are a television and an X-box. He'll come to wish he's put toilet paper on that list.

Elliot was way more interested in the ice cream sundae dessert than Peter was and I think, even though we passed it around the table twice, he ate most of it.

I found some checklists online for first apartment supplies. Pretty funny. Like a single guy really needs an ironing board or table linens. I'm going to have to check out his Hope Chest and see what gems I've stashed away for him over the last two years. I think there are some old bath towels and a half dozen beer glasses.

I made a stop at Sticks and Stones in Mankato since it's right across the street. I found a wonderful lime green chapeaux for only six dollars.

Gus went to the Paw again. We like to watch as they turn him out into the yard with the other dogs. He looks absolutely bliss-filled. He romps, he runs, he twists in the air. It makes you laugh out loud. When we picked him up they asked for his last name as they had two doodles named Gus and one doodle named Baxter.

I'd like to get outside to do some yard clean-up but it might not happen. Regis, my weather eye, tells me that it will be 80 degrees by the time we go to bed and 35 degrees when we wake up in the morning. I'm worried about what he tells me about these Voltran warnings. Voltran is not the right word but I can't remember what the right word is but the meaning is that we are on high alert for the biggest badass summer storms of all times. Yeah, I need to know that.

The right word is tor-con. Personally, I think Voltran is better and more indicative of the mass destruction scenario they are predicting.

There you go. If knowing your TOR-CON makes you feel better, go for it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

peter's birthday, river rock's birthday, a new chapeaux, and poems on sticks

I have neglected my blog this week and stuff is backing up in my head.

I worked from 7 a.m. - 11 a.m. this morning and my temptation is to crawl into bed for the afternoon to read and avoid the wind and the housework. I decided to sit down and relax with some words instead of napping and reading.

We went down to Patrick's last night to drop off some wine trip tickets, which was sold out but as of this morning there are two seats available again. People make up your minds.

At Patrick's, I started telling Tom about this show I'm watching, Downtown Abbey, and he corrected me. It's Downton Abbey. Well, I can't help it those Brits can't spell downtown what the hell I thought maybe their abbey was in an urban area. It's interesting and amazing. I keep telling Regis I would love to live like that. They dress fancy, have people to button their cuffs and sweep the crumbs off their laps, and they just get up and walk away from the table without worrying about putting the food away.

My friend, Bob, came to town yesterday. He met another friend of mine, Gil, at River Rock. Bob and Betty both taught in Long Prairie for years and LP is Gil's home town. They had a nice visit about teachers they both knew at the high school. Colleagues and classmates.

Bob brought wonderful gifts, in fact, his arms were loaded when he walked in the door. He does a great job with dramatic tension, telling stories to set up each present.

The first was in a gorgeous, old hat box. It's a vintage (love that word) hat that belonged to his Grandma Anna, who they always called Nana. It's a beautiful fact, the label says "Christian Dior Chapeaux" I love that. I'm going to wear it with Tom's mom's fur coat and have Regis take a snapshot of me.

The next present was in an L.L. Bean slipper box and also had a great story about stained glass which the present was not but was a set of what they call redneck wineglasses on beautiful Israeli candle holders. The tops, actually Mason jars, have lids which will come in handy when the birch tree starts shedding. The jar lids will be way classier than the Saran wrap I usually use.

And the other present was a set of newly minted Poems on Sticks! I loved the old Poems on Sticks (a joint David Bengtson-Mike Hazard project) and have only three left because when people love them, I have to give them away. So, I was relishing the new Poems on Sticks and thinking how much fun they would be to have at River Rock but thinking, selfishly, that I didn't want to break up MY set, when Bob said he had another complete set in the car that I could use at RRC. Great! They were a hoot this morning and as I said, only a couple people had their anti-poetry deflector shields operational. Anti-poetry deflector shields are typically installed during a person's high school years and it's a difficult process to un-do. Billy Collins says seeing poetry in public helps.

It was like Christmas in April! And Bob, Gil asked me this today: Did he really drive all the way down here from Rockford to see you, Teresa? Then he laughed and said, "Well, you're worth it." And we all laughed. (Gil has a great laugh that I once recognized from across a giant furniture warehouse in Minneapolis.)

Peter, my baby, is 25 years old today. I called and wished him a happy quarter-century. We're meeting for lunch tomorrow at Pappageorge in Mankato.

Regis is a technology lover. He's been playing around with some app that does this:

That's me sitting in my chair (looking a little haggard, I must say) and who in the hell are those tiny people marching around in front of me? Hahaha!

I saw on Facebook that there is an app so you can keep track of the countries you have visited. Really, I don't need an app for that. I don't even need two hands. In fact, I don't even need one hand. How pitiful. Hahaha again! Apps are over-rated.

I have been thinking seriously about the role of technology in our lives. There is a table of regular old farts that come into the coffee shop every day. One fellow always has an iPad open and whatever comes up in the conversation, he rings it right up and shows everyone. Every time his cell phone rings, he answers it. Really, I think unless you are a heart transplant surgeon and you are on call at this very moment, this is unnecessary. 

Next week, this dude will have an ear mullet.

I can hear it now. Yeah, yeah, I'll be home about 11:30. And you need a dozen eggs and a six-pack of Bud?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

history of a pie

Boston Cream Pie. Somehow, I manage to bake the cake part, slice it in half, remove it and reassemble it without breaking it into a hundred pieces. Here it is with the custard layer which might have been too thick but a guy can't throw out homemade custard now, right?

Here it is with the chocolate ganache, another miracle. I had to boil cream and dump it over chocolate chips. It seemed way too runny but I stirred and stirred and finally it looked right, although a few chocolate lumps remained. When I started pouring it over the top, I thought it would never work. It pooled up a little on the bottom but hey, not bad, I'd say.

Here's how it looks when it's served. This was the first piece and I had a little trouble getting it to lay down without manhandling it. 

A lot of putzy work but fun. It got good reviews.

It's been an interesting week. We took Gus to daycare on Monday and I did a little shopping. I felt like I needed some spring color. I wanted orange...bright orange. I found a few things but not many. Shoes are awfully dull, aren't they? Why can't grown-up women get shoes in bright colors? I found toddler shoes in bright colors but they must think women want to look like immigrants.

Through a series of interesting coincidences, Peter has a job offer in Slayton. Here's how it happened:
  • I happened to be in River Rock one day last week when my friend Liz was in for coffee.
  • Liz happened to mention a road trip to Slayton.
  • I had time, at that moment, to ask her why she was going there.
  • Answer: A potential client. A printing firm.
  • I told her to ask if they were hiring because Peter is job hunting. She got a few particulars and down the road she went.
  • She came in the next day. Yes, yes, and yes. The owner's name and phone number.
  • Peter went to an interview on Monday and they offered him a job. There are some final details to work out but it looks like he might be moving to Slayton. Here's to Peter and to Liz!
On my way to exercise. Some days my butt drags getting there. I appreciate it when it's done and most days I tolerate it fairly well but I wish I got that adrenaline rush like some people do. Rachel is running in the Boston Marathon next week. Running 26 miles...not for me.

Better get going. Happy Wednesday.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

brown skirt and easter eggs

I bought the brown skirt. I apologized to the young woman making it and said I promised I wasn't crazy. I said it's like designing a horse by get a camel in the end! I think I'll be happy with brown.

I'm making Easter dinner for some group of relatives. We're never sure just how many will be here. Somewhere between 8 and 12, I'm thinking. Today I'm making vegan cut-out cookies, Italian country bread, and I'm coloring eggs. I'll get pictures of the process.

We had a busy cooking week. We made flank steak and grilled peppers for two friends from my writing class on Tuesday night. It was delicious and beautiful and we served it simply with tortillas, sour cream, and salsa. Aside from a glass of wine, you don't need much else.

On Thursday night, we had our old friend, Deb, over for dinner. We made lime and chili marinaded chicken breasts, grilled asparagus, roasted sweet potatoes and the best pepper salad. I bastardized a recipe but basically it was sliced up sweet peppers and olives in a balsamic dressing. I loved it. We didn't get photos of either of those meals.

Here's something we made this winter that I just found on the camera:

It's a smorgasbord of stuff we made on the table-top grill we bought for 25 cents at a garage sale in Iowa. We bought the grill for 25 cents...not the food. I think I might have dangled a participle.

Regis bought groceries on Tuesday and when I came home from the gym, I found this note. It says, "I bought this tater because I thought it was a dead ringer for Bob Hope!" I laughed out loud. That's my honey!

I made a from-scratch Boston Cream Pie today. The cake didn't stick in the pan, the custard didn't curdle, and now if I can get the ganache right and get the whole thing assembled, it will be a successful mission. This is the custard on the stove, waiting for the vanilla bean to infuse. I took a picture of the cake, too, but I am a fairly crappy photographer and none of them turned out.

I'm going to stop here. I have a few errands to run downtown and then I might be back to document the rest of my day. What a thrill.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


I posted the picture of my red skirt yesterday, then Deb sent this email:
I just read your blog and squealed when I saw that skirt because I was in the airport last week and a little girl had that very skirt on; she also had red socks with white lace, black mary janes, and a red beanie with mouse ears! It's minnie mouse's skirt! Hahahahha.....
Every time I got to the beanie part, I laughed so hard I cried and couldn't read the rest of her email.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

kale and sunshine

Last night for dinner, I made this recipe: Sausage and Kale Mock Lasagna Casserole. Personally, I wouldn't call it mock lasagna, I would call it hotdish. It's a hotdish with kale and sausage, really not like lasagna at all. I like it and Regis said the cheese and sauce did a good job of disguising the flavor of the kale which is a desirable thing for him. I used more cheese than the recipe called for because it seemed like a skimpy amount. Who measures shredded cheese by the tablespoon?

Kale is one of those vegetables I never ate until I bought a share of a CSA. I'm not sure I even noticed it in the store. Now I like it. We usually eat it in salads and once I made chips out of it. That was interesting. It takes about two pounds to make a little bowl of chips. 

I had the nicest surprise last week. Rita, a very sweet woman I met through my job at River Rock, came in carrying this beautiful bulb basket...for me!

These are my daffodils in the front yard. I was worried about them with the hot wind we've had in the past few weeks but they waited until this week to appear so they're safe. Last year, the blooms lasted a month. One of my frequent walking neighbors kept track of it and reminds me often.

I was taking random pictures this morning and took one of these tiny pitchers that I bought about a month ago. They're individual coffee creamers but I use them for sauces. Aren't they cute?

Another picture of blooming sunshine. They smell wonderful, too!

Ella and I went shopping for an Easter dress yesterday. They had quite a crop of dresses at Kohl's and it was a little bit overwhelming. I finally said I would pick three and she could choose from that which worked much better. She also liked the accessories as she calls them...bracelets, sparkly purses, and socks. She takes after this Nana, I think.

I told her I might want to make one more stop and she said, and I quote: "Nana, you don't need to buy any more clothes. Not on my watch, you don't." Haha!

I've been shopping for something to wear to my birthday party. I found this skirt on etsy and I'm negotiating with the maker on length and color. I thought I wanted it in brown but when I showed Ella the red one, she said oh, that's the color, right there. She's a hoot. My cousin thought I could make one like this but in my experience, the way I envision clothing never turns out in the execution. 

I am worrying about this now because I have some obsessive tendencies when it comes to events. We're serving dinner to the band the day of the party because we are responsible for a meal and I would rather cook for them than send them to Arby's. (Ha!) So, in my mind, we make ribs. I want Regis to call them and make sure there are no dietary restrictions but he says that's crazy ten weeks out. What the hell, I said. If it turns out we have three koshers, a vegan, and a cardiac diet, there will be trouble. I'd rather have that information now.

I should list all the things that are "of concern" to me now and maybe the ridiculousness of it will stun me back to reality. Doubtful.

I write the bios for the program for the retiring teachers. I can't remember how I got this job, but I get a kick out of it. This morning, one of the teachers called me to see what kind of information I wanted. I said I didn't want them to be like bad obituaries but something interesting that a person might want to read. If, for example, you have a tattoo, that might make its way into your bio. 

Yesterday, one of our birch limbs went down. I think it had cracked before and just chose that day to fall. I was worried and thought oh, great, now that I have filled my garden with shade plants, I'll lost two trees and all the shade. Not to worry. Karl Struck must have read my mind because he drove by, said it happens to trees, and helped Regis and a neighbor cut it off then he hauled it away. I love small towns.

I have to go in to work this afternoon for a while, so I think I'll take a nap. Life is good.

Monday, April 02, 2012

extraneous crap

I'm on a mission to rid my life of extraneous crap. I spent the last hour looking at my desk and thinking about what I use and don't use and throwing away a lot of stuff I never look at anymore. I used to keep CDs of pictures and music. All of that is stored in the cloud now so there is no need to keep it all in plastic format. Right? It just clutters up your head.

I have a pile of boxes ready for the EP on the 11th, a pile of boxes for the consignment store on May 1st, I've thrown three bags in the trash and there is more to come. What is this urge to acquire junk and then just let it sit around getting in your way?

This is hilarious.

I've been reading a zen blog about simplifying your life be getting rid of the stuff you have to move to clean around, the stuff you have to search through to find the stuff you really just goes on and on. Too much stuff.

Now that I have purged my space of some stuff, I'm getting ready to do something!

trip to the outer reaches of minnesota

Regis, Gus, and I motored to Canby for the weekend to see Mom. We left Saturday morning and anticipated a trip in bright early spring sunshine. Not to be. Some weather man jibberish blamed it on an inversion and the upshot was that instead of 80 and 90 degrees, it was more like a damp 55. My feet froze and I wore a jacket all weekend.

We had a great time with Mom. My mom is something to aspire to...she's active and funny and she has a busy life. We sent Regis to the newly re-modeled liquor store in the afternoon to buy a box of wine. He came back with the report that they had a wine tasting and were serving tator tots as a palate cleanser. Guess that works as well as anything. Well, maybe they were just the snack.

This is a busy week. I've invited friends for dinner two times, I'm taking Ella shopping for an Easter dress, Regis has a meeting, grocery shopping tomorrow, and I have to work. All fun stuff but it will be busy. We're having the off-spring and their families here for Easter dinner so the prep for that will start about Friday.

Things on my list of things to do today:

  1. Finish menu and grocery list
  2. Pick up house and put out a few Easter decorations
  3. Clean out refrigerator
  4. Work from 12:00-3:00
  5. Pick up Ella at school at 4:00
  6. Buy an Easter dress for Ella!
Enjoy the spring day! Happy April!