a wrinkle in time

At my particular age (early-mid-40′s and let’s call it good) things-they-are-a-changing.  I’ve noticed for awhile now that skin is getting thinner and hairs are getting whiter.  NOT GRAY.  I am paying the price for sun tanning with baby oil.  There is definitely evidence of past and current scowling.  And laughter.  Things creak and pop. A lot.

On the other hand, I can distinctly remember my parents being this age, and while they may have been thinking the same things about their bodies, the lives they led then were different.  My mom still had two kids at home and was about to become a grandma, thanks to my younger sister.  They had moved and were starting a new life in a new state.  There was no Google or internet, no easy way to keep in touch or up to date in the world – though I’m not even sure they wanted to; that’s not the way things were then.

Many of my friends of a similar age are now facing parents who are getting up there and need our help.  The Geek’s mom fell last week and hurt her shoulder, another’s mom had knee surgery, a dad had back surgery…the list goes on. It’s THAT time.  How on earth did that happen?!  Surely I am not grown up yet.  It does cause moments of panic when I stop to consider it.

Physically, our parents have aged as I am, but mentally it’s a whole different ball game.  No doubt it’s a personality thing – I know people my age and younger that act a whole lot older, and not in a good way.  I won’t wear skirts up to my hoo-hah, but if I see something cute in Forever 21, you can bet I’ll buy it.  I’ve never had to exercise to lose weight but I need to start now to firm things up a bit. Keeping an ear and eye for what’s up and coming, what’s fresh, what those young people are up to, should take a few years off.  If I had the money, I might consider Botox but that’s a slippery slope and I’m too lazy.

In the meantime, I’ll try the next new cream, a Kinect execise game, eat some extra fruits and veggies and spend lots of quality time with my family and friends making new laugh lines.  And while it scares the holy hell out of me to think I’m old enough to have parents that will need my help soon, you can bet I’ll be there when the time comes.  For now, I hear red wine has some medicinal properties that require investigating.

 

 

snowlicious

Yep, months after acquiring my camera, I still mostly take pictures by luck.  I push a few buttons and hope for the best.  For the life of me, I can’t remember what does what and the menus go deep.  Still, I can’t resist what I might end up with, so I click away.  Also, iPhoto is great for playing around with when the original is less than stellar.

A few little fun things from the snow today.  I was trying to capture the snowflakes – no doubt I missed a setting somewhere.  Also fiddled a bit in iPhoto.

kinda christmasy

green

and apparently the girl child likes to try her luck as well, as I found out when I downloaded today…

girl child self-portrait

I promise to learn more, honestly!  But you know I love happy accidents, and precision has never been my thing.  Deal with it.

 

 

the other side

Miss me?  I spent the last few days on the “other side” of the Cascades.  On the off-chance that I might someday have  a reader who doesn’t know me or Washington state, there’s western Washington (everything west of the mountains) and eastern Washington (everything east – duh).  We are lucky enough to have several good friends that live in Wenatchee, about 2 1/2 hours east of Seattle.  I’d been invited by a Wenatchee native who now lives in Seattle to go east for her birthday weekend and meet up with some friends in Chelan, which is about 30-40 minutes north-ish of Wenatchee, and prime wine country.

On the road to Chelan

I went to college in Ellensburg where the landscape is similar to this, maybe with a few more trees.  The skies are wide open and there ‘s not much green.  We stayed at Campbell’s Resort, which has been there for a million years.  The view upon arrival did not suck.

Our view

The purpose for our visit (besides celebrating Danielle’s birthday) was to visit some local wineries.  And taste. It doesn’t look like much now, but these will be wine someday.

Wine one day

More vines

Look at that sky!  It was crystal clear.  Also freezing.  This was on the Manson side of Lake Chelan – I couldn’t tell you which winery.  It wasn’t all tasting of wine – we also had a raging need for a cheeseburger, so we trekked off even higher into the hinterlands to Blueberry Hills for some eats. Seriously.  You don’t just happen upon this place.  It’s on the way to nowhere.  BUT once you get there – prepare yourselves, people.  Not only is the food great, there is STUFF.

Chandelier of goodness

There are fishing lures, rolls of wrapping papers, antlers, ribbon, and lord knows what else in the amazing light.  My photos do not do it justice.

Wow

And that’s just a start.  Our table had a sheet of glass covering trays with little slots full of all manner of THINGS.  36 rattlesnakes tails.  Tic Tacs. Clips. Perm rods.  COLOR COORDINATED.

i’m in there too
white
blue and yellow
my favorite – the luxodent 2000 toothbrush

As we were oohing and awing over this collection, the owner came over and explained that ALL THIS STUFF came out of her grandfather’s shed!  She arranged it all in this table.  She also did that spectacular light above our table and….

Gramma's pink goodies

blue goodies

The last little bit of genius was what she did with her father and grandfather’s marbles.  Check it.

marbles

This was another light fixture. She glued them onto a glass sheet from what we could tell so it was a flat rectangle.  So cool.  We complimented her creativity and asked where she came up with this stuff and she said “Well, I drink”.  She’s currently working on a plan for hundreds of keys – we’ll have to go back to see what she’s come up with.  Also, to get some of their fabulous homemade pie.

One of my favorite things about little towns are the hardware/variety stores.  Chelan has one of the best. You can get any damn thing there. Swimsuits, wine glasses, the usual touristy crap and…

Coinage

There was an ENTIRE wall of these and it was the highlighted item on their sign outside.  One does wonder who has this many coins to wrap.  Isn’t that what Coinstar is for?  I guess if you live in Chelan you have plenty of time to wrap coins.

Mainly, it’s the views that occupied my time.  I don’t know what kind of tree this is but the yellow color was amazing.

love the yellow

lake sky

It was lovely to spend some quality time with some of my favorite women.  Looking forward to camping season and sharing more great views and wine with them.

good night, chelan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

small but mighty

Coming off a monster weekend of playing hostess, I am compelled to come clean about something once and for all.  When people come over, I am swamped with the need to make excuses for my wee, tiny house.  Maybe not every time you come over, but for sure the first time.  It is small – there’s no way around it.  Nine hundred eighty square feet of small, not counting the garage, which will someday be living space but not now. It is especially small in the winter, when there’s no escaping outside. And if it is your first visit, as it was for two guests this weekend, I will feel especially drawn to offer apologies.  Which is so silly, because I’d wager that none of  the people I invite over are the sort of people who care at all about that sort of thing.

It is, I’m fairly certain, the smallest house of anyone we know, or at least those whose houses we have been to. It is bigger, however, than our brick duplex we lived in at Green Lake, where we BBQ’ed on the parking strip.  I remember some good times on that little grassy strip. And I’m pretty sure I made excuses about that too, but we were younger then and it seemed forgivable.  Now that we actually own a house, it seems like it should be grander, with granite counter tops and a dishwasher at least, another bathroom would be great. A kitchen more than 2 people can be in – and those two people are pushing it.

But the fact is we (by that I mean me) love to have people over, to feed them, to “entertain”.  Which I think is such a stupid, pompous word for it.  I’m not a circus performer, I don’t juggle.  I can usually make some edible food and keep your glass full.  I like to hear your stories and laugh.  By the time the first cocktail has kicked in, I have moved past my neurotic tendencies and can enjoy the night.

I have few memories of my parents having people over, but when they did I remember it being a loud, fun time. Then they stopped for some reason, or maybe only a few relatives on Christmas.  One of my favorite things about friends in my house is the memories we are making.  That is what makes my house larger than life, when I feel the walls expanding and stretching to make room for all the laughter and new friendships being made.  That’s what makes all the cleaning worth it and why I can get past my little personal pity party.  It’s true – size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it that counts.  I am looking forward to Easter Feaster and some hammy goodness with lots gin fizziness.  I WILL do a spring brunch this year, dammit.  And can’t wait for happy hours on the lawn.  And I promise not to utter a word about the size of my house.

By the way, chances are if you were a guest this weekend, I have some sort of Tupperware or china that belongs to you.  I seem to have come out way ahead in that category.

MONDAY WORDS #4

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here is a sweet bit from The Princess Bride that I love.


“That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying “As you wish”,

what he meant was, “I love you”.

And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.”

 

goodwill hunting

I have recently renewed my long-dormant love for thrifting.  I come by it rightfully – my mother is a garage sale queen.  Seriously.  The poor thing just had to move, and I am very grateful I live out-of-state and thus got to miss that whole nightmare.  (I did offer to come help with her garage sale in the spring though.  It will be the mack daddy of all garage sales.)  In high school, I Pretty-in-Pinked it up.  90% of my wardrobe was culled from thrift stores, because a) it was cheap and b) I loved vintage even then.

Back then, I bought mainly clothes, shoes, an accessory here and there. Now that I have a house, wee tiny though it is,  a whole new world has opened up.  Check out this MAJOR recent score, all mine for $10!!  All it needed was a piece of the edge glued back on!

Please excuse the rug.  That is on the to-do list.  You can see in the background two blankets I rescued at the same time about a month ago.  Someone put a lot of love and time into these two gems.

I’ve found some of my favorite art at thrift stores, too.

Actually I think I got that last one at a garage sale, and it has a mate – different subject but same colors.

Plenty of great vintage pottery and dishes, too.  Pyrex is my friend.

I still sort through the occasional sweater rack.  I don’t do shoes anymore though – it skeeves me out now. Can’t wash those puppies. Same with purses.

My son, who is a materialistic little bugger, shares my love of the hunt.  His recent big haul, brand new Halo stuff – honest to god I thought his head was going to explode.  LITERALLY.  Someday we are going to go on a holy pilgrimage to the mecca of Goodwills in Seattle – THE DOWNTOWN STORE.  Gotta train for that though.

Not everyone knows the joy of the hunt, however.  I am converting the non-believers one at a time (except The Geek – he doesn’t do libraries or thrift stores).  JWR once went in one, and agreed there were some interesting offerings.  Jenny from the East will be partaking for the first time next weekend east of the mountains.  There is nothing better than a small-town thrift store!  AND this one apparently is right next to a Mexican place with awesome margaritas!  Win win!  My fingers are crossed that lots of old ladies make a big drop off this week!

curry in a hurry

First of all, it is a damn crying shame that the interweb isn’t scratch and sniff.  Seriously. It smells like freaking curry heaven in here.  Tonight in the continuing-pressure-cooker experiment, we had Cauliflower-Potato Curry from Lorna Sass’ “Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure”.  NO, I have not gone meat-free, but sometimes meatless is nice.  Plus this was the first book to come in to the library from my hold list.

I did a little research after the maiden voyage of the Fagor, since I had a little problem with water dripping from the handle.  The most common solution was to oil the gasket, so I did that, and made extra sure the lid was locked.  No dripping this time.  The other issue I had the first time was the pressure dropping when I moved to the cooler burner once it reached pressure, which is what they recommend people with electric stoves do.  This time, I left it on the same burner but just lowered the heat.  It retained pressure but was slightly scorched on the bottom, and near the end of time started emitting an alarming amount of steam.  Since there was only 22 seconds left, I erred on the side of caution and did a quick release.  And then we got…

Brace yourselves for the best part, people.  After the pot reached pressure, this curry goodness took TWO MINUTES AND 38 SECONDS TO COOK! My hand to God.  The prepping of the vegetables took longer.  Once that was done,  it took MAYBE another 3 minutes to put it all in the pot, bring to a boil and reach pressure.  The Girl Child and I liked it, but we think next time we might add some chicken, or currants, or apples. Or all of the above.

Oh, and another little tasty tidbit to share – I made perfect rice!  In a pot!  Double the amount of water to rice, boil the water, dump in the rice, cover, reduce heat to lowest setting.  And don’t touch it!  My rice was brown basmati – it probably sat there about 50 minutes, maybe 10 minutes longer than it needed to.  White rice would be done in about 20, but won’t suffer if it has to wait.

Tomorrow: black bean chili!

under pressure

Hum David Bowie in your head.  Tonight was the maiden voyage of my Fagor Duo pressure cooker, acquired with my long-lost-but-newly-found Sur la Table gift  card.  This is the smaller pot.

A couple friends were intrigued by the idea of risotto in 7 minutes WITHOUT the tedious stirring and broth adding, so that’s what I made tonight.  Most of the recipes I found included things like meat or veggies, but for this trial run, I opted for basics.  It was just arborio rice, butter, oil, garlic, onions and broth.  I was too lazy to open a big bottle of white wine just for this; otherwise I would have added a bit of that.  For those in Seattle, you can get this here GIANT (and by that I mean two foot) bag of arborio rice at Cash and Carry for $14.  Seriously!

The first steps are the same as regular risotto – sweating the onions and garlic in butter/olive oil, then add the rice (I used 1 1/2 cups) and coat each grain, stirring til well-coated in fat.

Now comes the fun part!  Normally, you would start adding ladlefuls of hot broth a little at a time, stirring til each addition was absorbed by the rice. But with this handy little gadget, I just dumped in 3 1/2 cups of broth!  Put the lid on, locked it down, and waited til it came up to pressure (you know it’s at pressure because it starts to steam and the little orange button pops up).  Here is the only tricky part.  Once it reaches pressure, you need to reduce the heat WHILE still maintaining pressure.  On electric stoves, they suggest you have another burner set on low so you can move to the pot off the high heat and avoid overcooking.  I turned my second burner down TOO low – it lost pressure.  I read that if that happens, you should increase the heat til it returns to pressure and add a few minutes to your cooking time.  The cooking time, by the way, starts once it reaches pressure.  So I turned up the heat and added a few minutes, but the button never popped back up.  It did start steaming again, so I waited with one eye on the exit in case all hell broke loose.  When the timer went off, I used the quick-release method to reduce the pressure (even though it technically never regained pressure, I wasn’t taking any chances), which is basically just running some cold water over the lid.  Mine also has a knob for releasing steam so I did that too, just in case.  I took off the lid and voila!  It was a miracle!  That rice was cooked!  And it had been maybe 10 minutes!  It was a smidge loose, so I left on the heat a couple minutes, grated in some Parmesan, and….

would you look at that!?  It was fabulous! Can’t wait to try some with sausage and peppers, mushrooms, shrimp…god know I have enough arborio.

So go forth, you fraidy cats!  Get thee a pressure cooker!

groundhog day

So the groundhog didn’t see his shadow today which means an early spring. I am all for that. Definitely feeling a sun deficit. And a little cabin fever from being crammed in our little house since September.  Time to take our living outside.

I swear, sometimes, I actually am living Bill Murray’s life in “Groundhog Day”.  Every weekday, I get up at 6:15 am, wake the Girl Child, we get ready and walk to her bus and mine.  Depending on the day, I either get home at 5:30 pm or 2:30 pm.  Make dinner, do homework, other chores, maybe some TV.  No doubt like many other people’s days.  Work is boring but not stressful, so there is that.

This must be why I am always on the lookout for the next thing to sew, bake, plant, redecorate or thrift.  Why I am constantly inviting people over and finding places to go and things to plan.  People mock me for that, but those are the only things that make THIS day different from any other day.

Today on the bus, now that it’s noticeably lighter when I go to and return from work, it occurred to me that I am also reliving each year over and over.  It’s February, so there is gardening to start.  Then the end of school, camping trips, lazy summer days, back to school, and the holidays again.  Replay.  Only, the years are actually passing by and quickly.  I watched “The Kids are All Right” last weekend.  The daughter in it is 18 and leaving for college.  That’s  what the Girl Child will be doing in FIVE years, people!  That kind of stuff will freak a person right out!

But that’s another post.  I ramble, I digress. Carry on with whatever day you’re reliving.