Category Archives: Chow down!

Happy (belated) 4th!!

This past weekend I went to the lovely little city of Seattle to visit my sister, meet her new beau, grab a couple of things for the wedding and celebrate the 4th of July, of course.

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I couldn’t have picked a better time to head out of Yakima. Temperatures were supposed to be in the 90s (maybe higher) and since we don’t have air-conditioning heading to low to mid-80 degree weather seemed like the more comfortable option.

So, after being ‘interviewed’ by the beau we managed to go to Lake Washington for a bit of wading and swimming. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the water in Seattle when the weather has been so lovely! Jason has a convertible and we rode with the top down all the way to the lake. It seemed more like an afternoon at the beach, really. The way the sun hit the trees, the way the sky was just the right color of blue and how the air had a bit of salt-water weight to it.

To the beach!

To the beach!

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That evening we went to the store to grab some grub and headed home to make burgers. We were joined by a charming friend of my sister’s and the four of us had a feast while talking of film making, relationships, the Twilight phenomenon and the whole Michael Jackson… well, debacle. At nightfall we opted out of going to some incredibly crowded locales to nestle into the cool basement to watch fireworks on TV. What a show! While it would have been impressive in person it was worth it to not have to deal with all those people and the waiting around and the parking and the traffic to get home… am I getting old?

The next day after pancakes (and a second breakfast for my blood-sugar challenged sister :^( we went to MAC at University Village for a make-over and some suggestions. I was helped by Rick Toth (he gave me his card) and he did an amazing job of matching my skin tones and getting the exact look that I wanted for the wedding. After feeling frazzled about the wedding it was sooooo luxurious to have someone use a make-up brush to put moisturizer on my face! Ahhhhh…..

Afterward we did some more looking around and headed home for ribs! (Man, was there a lot of eating that weekend!)

YUM!

YUM!

Archie McPhee was one of the main stops on Sunday for some prizes to go along with our reception games. I’ve never been to a store, I’ve only had their catalogs, and I was a bit amazed by all the STUFF that they had. When I was buying my little finds I asked the guy at the counter how he kept track of it all. He wasn’t too interested in talking and just said something noncommittal about getting used to it or something. Fine. Mara and I sat for a silly photo session in a photo booth and jetted out for tea with a friend.And I headed out not long after.

I’ve been trying to lose a little for the wedding (don’t all brides feel compelled to do that? it’s silly really) and all the weekend’s eating made me want to throw in the towel. I think I’ve given up on trying to lose that little bread loaf that sits just above my belt. Oh well. No one’s really going to care but me. (But if you say anything about me needing to lose a few be prepared to get a bruise or see me start to bawl depending on where we are in the day…)

And by the way, the new beau is pretty awesome… WOOT!

Critters and Creatures

We have a nice little piece of property, but even if we didn’t we would still have lots of extra “friends” roaming around our garden. Cats are one thing but we’ve had many other kinds of visitors.

This last winter we had quite a few mice. And who wouldn’t want to be where it’s warm and there might be a crumb on the floor or a garbage bin to poke around in. Never mind that there are two cats… CATS! Amaya (our black cat) and Ollie (our white with black polka dots) certainly worked overtime this winter. They would either leave us a gift (I thought it was a toy and reached down to pick it up!) or they would hang on to their prize for dear life even if it was still… well…. wiggling. Ew.

Now the only visitors that we have in the house that aren’t our kitties are what we hope are birds nesting in a hole in the NW eve. It still sounds creepy with all that scratching about…

Early in the spring we had a wonderful and colorful surprise of loads of warblers that made their way through to warmer places. Their stay of a few weeks was a lovely, cheery and colorful experience. They’re so tiny!

But aside from those friends we’ve had visits by the nocturnal branch of the bird family. Owls. One night when outside hanging out by the campfire/fire pit we heard a massive amount of feathers float down from a telephone pole. It was a huge owl that had landed on the ground to catch a mouse. It looked at us completely nonplussed and just observed as if we were some sort of mild oddity… but not really all that interesting. Still he/she hung out for a bit and I managed to get some quick shots:

Mr. Barred Owl

Mr. Barred Owl

Turns out he’s a barred owl, relative to a spotted owl. Actually the barred owls are coming from the east coast and are threatening the habitat of the spotted owl. Go figure. This owl makes a lovely “who cooks for you” call.

We’ve also been seeing lots of western screech owls this spring and summer. These owls are adorably small, but I still wouldn’t want to mess with them. We’ve been hearing strange sounds at night in the tree just outside our bedroom window and thought it to be bats. It’s a squeaky, dry, hiccupy kind of sound. Last night we discovered while sitting out in the cool evening that the sound was actually coming from the western screech! Normally they make a trilling sound that quickens as it goes. Try to imagine a ping-pong ball getting dropped. It’s a light sound that gets faster as the ball starts to settle to being on the ground. Now imagine that kind of sound but on a note. That’s what this owl sounds like most times. We’ve heard them calling with that sound and getting a response in slow, low tones from a different area. We figure it must have to do with mating.

But back to this sqeaky owl sound… We figured out that the noisy owl was a baby and the owl that kept leaving and coming back (presumably with food) was the mama. We watched the feeding process over and over. They didn’t seem to mind us very much and Ian even got into a mimicking game with the baby while he was waiting for mama to come back!

Downy baby screech

Downy baby screech

Ian and the baby having a 'conversation'

Ian and the baby having a 'conversation'

Mama screech (she looks intense!)

Mama screech (she looks intense!)

We hope that we get to see more of them. Supposedly they nest in the same spot for years. Maybe we’ll get to see baby grow up!

Lovely party

Main Entry: 1show·er
Pronunciation: \ˈshau(-ə)r\
Function: noun
1 a: a fall of rain of short duration b: a similar fall of sleet, hail, or snow
3: a party given by friends who bring gifts often of a particular kind <a bridal shower>
2: to give in abundance <showered her with honors>

Baby shower… bridal shower….. shower shower…. except for the last one I’d never had a “shower” before. What a strange and wonderful, wonderful thing.

My sister, Mara, good friend, Des, and multiple cohorts managed to completely surround me with love yesterday. Mara (the sis) planned and delegated in secrecy, at least from me, so much so that I didn’t even know what time the party began until the 11th hour. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a bit of a slave to surprises! (Good surprises, mind you.)

I had friends visit from out of town as well as local folk. It was a mixed crowd, too! I really see no point to keeping the bride’s celebration and preparations restricted to just the female branch of my social life. Most of my oldest and closest friends are male.

Where's my plate!?!

Where's my plate!?!

There was food of all kinds: fruit, veg, cucumber sandwiches with a secret ingredient that made them perfect tea finger sandwiches, cake (with and without nuts, of course!), crackers and cheese that were cut into little dogs, hearts and duckies, all kinds of things to drink including some fresh mojitos, some pickled asparagus (which disappeared immediately), carrots and salami, devine deviled eggs, Lindt chocolates and an unusual and delicious potato salad. Everything looked so photo ready and beautiful that no one was picking up a spoon or plate! A perfect assortment that left me feeling pleasantly satiated and refreshed.

Cheese anyone?

Cheese anyone?

After getting plates and noshing a bit we moved on to bridal bingo. Mary had put together these fantastic little bingo cards with boxes that said things like: bride, groom, Mimi, Ian, lips, nightie, frying pan (my favorite because I’m thinking of some sort of cartoon where someone gets hit on the head, of course!), apron, honeymoon, etc. Prizes were given out and thanks to Joan playing an extra card for me and filling a line immediately I managed to get some PB M&Ms. Des also shared in her prize by giving me a Jell-O cookbook with some…uh… scrumptious looking treats from the 70s. Shrimp and Jell-O anyone?

We had the traditional ‘make-the-wedding-dress-out-of-toilet-paper’ good time where I edned up looking like a cross between the bride of Frankenstein, a 20s flapper girl and a mummy. If only it would have lasted and not disintegrated as the party went on…

Presents were doled out with a theme: vintage lingerie. I LOVED it! Perfect perfect…. My collection has doubled with some delightful items like an amazingly soft house jacket, a demure and feminine black nightie, some lovely slips, a peach cami, a handkerchief as well as a homemade tote for all my loot, some original Lucy Valderhaug earrings (from the woman herself) and an unusual Vera tube neck scarf. One of my ‘mixed’ guests, whom I’ve known since 1st grade or so, decided that I might do better finding something on my own than by him doing the shopping and graciously offered a bit o’ scratch. D., if it’s ok with you I’m planning on putting that toward my wedding day sandals… Well, unless I find a nice saucy piece of vintage that I must have.

I have to say I was sorry when it was over. I had a perfectly lovely time. It felt strange being the center of attention like that but it was wonderfully nice to have so many good and old friends around that had nothing but love (and some lingerie) to give. Their well wishes have made me feel swaddled in a true energy to be happy. All the hugs, all the smiles, all the private words that say you deserve every good thing that is happening right now… I’m a bit overwhelmed by it.

Thank you so much for the party. Thank you for any kinds words or wishes you’ve said or thought or written down. This is turning into exactly what we wanted – a celebration of love, a coming together of friends and family, a declaration of commitment. It’s hard to not feel like I’m just floating on it all right now. Thank you.

Father’s Day

My father used to live two blocks from us before we moved. Actually, less than that if you looked at the size of those blocks. Sometimes he’d walk over, sometimes we’d walk over. It was sweet and quaint. While we only moved 6 blocks away it feels farther, which is silly, but it does. Now we try to have my father over for dinner on a semi-regular basis. Because we don’t fool around when we have folks over it can be over whelming – gastronomically speaking!

Last night was no exception.

Happy Father's Day to US!

Happy Father's Day to US!

I got Ian a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated online and it was the best money I may have ever spent. Since then we’ve been eating like kings even though money’s tight. Last night Ian made chicken cutlets in a porcini mushroom sauce , mashed potatoes with root vegetables and fresh herbs (from our garden) and the most perfect salad dressing for our meager little salad. For dessert I managed to make an adorable cherry pie. Maybe too adorable since we couldn’t wait for it to cool and ended up with cherry cobbler on our plates. It still tasted wonderful… all of it.

cherry pie preview

cherry pie preview

cherry pie finale!

cherry pie finale!

We had a lovely meal, wonderful conversation about old cars and I’m happy to say that when a visitor came to join us my father was happy to see him. My father… liking a cat?!?! If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I would have never believed it.

The man who came to dinner... all the time! Ollie's the perpetual guest.

The man who came to dinner... every time!

Everything went beautifully. I can’t wait until Ian’s folks get here so they can experience what an amazing chef he has become. I have a feeling that it’ll knock their socks off! I live with him, I’m getting married to him and it still does that to me. What’s that they say about gaining weight after you get married… sheesh. Let’s hope I can wait that long!