Monday, April 30, 2007

Letters and Treats!

The back yard "remodel" saga continues - we've whittled down the 11 cubic feet pile of compost (er, manure) down to about 2 cubic feet. We still can't park in the driveway and our front yard smells like a big pile of doo, but we're getting there, wheel barrow full by wheel barrow full.

Two very important and special things to report are the arrival of my letter swap letter from the lovely Karen (in Texas) and my Secret Pal treats from another lovely Karen (in Ohio). What are the odds that two Karens' were assigned to be my buddies!

First, the letter. What a special thing to find a handwritten letter in your mailbox. Sure, I knew it was coming, but it made me feel like a kid again. Thanks Karen - I love, love the charms - what a thoughtful surprise!

It's hard to see in the photo (drat, breeze!) - the charms say: unite, create and wish. I think my jolly buddha buddy approves!

Next up my extra special knitter's exchange treats from Karen in OH. I have been wanting to get my hands on some of this Cider Moon yarn. It's so squishy and soft! Just days before the package arrived I had been admiring the Cider Moon on Karen's blog (after following the Cider Moon link.) What a co-inky-dink! Of course the chocolates went down the hatch in record time (and Karen, I didn't hide them soon enough!) and the bee bar - oh, it makes my hands so silky smooth! What a wonderful gift. Thank-you, Thank-you!!

Off to read my Real Simple...

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Happy Easter everyone!

Whew - this weekend was a whirlwind of yard and organizing mayhem.

We now have beach-front property. Heh. Wouldn't that be nice. But we do have an entire backyard covered in an inch or so of sand. Sure beats the black plastic decor we've been sporting for the last 5 months...

Too bad the rain came and spoiled the tilling fun. Next week, next week. Then the top soil, more tilling and then lawn! The grass is a semi-permanent solution until we figure out what to do in the back yard. I'm envisioning some sort of shaded, quiet retreat with lush foliage, easy to care for perennials and a little garden plot. Oh, and a big, fancy deck for entertaining. A girl can dream, yes?

We unloaded a boatload of things on craigslist, but sadly no one wants the giant fake Christmas tree. Could it be that I posted the ad the day before EASTER? Nah, PEOPLE, PLAN AHEAD!

This morning Flynno announced he was hungry and asked me if there was any "special stuff". Huh? Whut? He asked that question in such a mysterious way I couldn't tell if he was making an advance or if he really was looking for something to eat. He clarified. Oh. The special stuff. In the fridge. Why yes, we did have some (left overs from Friday's dinner). And here's what that special stuff is...and the story behind it.

Years ago I briefly dated a line cook that worked for a fantastic restaurant. Despite his little, um, wee problem with drugs and alcohol, he was a charmer. Big Time. And he was the kind of guy that could whip up an amazing dinner with what you might have on hand. Though he taught me a lot about what I didn't want in a relationship, but he did teach me some valuable cooking lessons. And one of those lessons was the "special stuff."

Now, I never really considered this little concoction special, as I'm sure many folks use it as their base too. But for those who don't, here is my favorite versatile base for cooking up more than a few meals.

1 clove garlic (or some bottled, in a pinch. Learned that from my cook buddy too...)
1 onion (red or yellow)
1 red bell pepper
4 or so oz. sliced mushrooms


So, that's my base. My go to.

To make quesadillas, I add canned black beans and corn. Heat a tortilla in pan, add jack and cheddar cheese, special stuff mix and add another tortilla. Flip when lightly toasted. Top with sour cream (or plain yogurt), salsa and guac. (avocado, sour cream and salsa, whirled in mini food processor).

To make omelettes, I add fresh spinach leaves, jack and cheddar. Top omelette with sliced tomatoes and sliced avocado.

To make pasta, I add capers, yellow bell peppers, some red pepper flakes and a large can of chopped tomatoes. Toss with spaghetti noodles and top with grated Parmesan. (I posted about that recipe here, before Flynn started calling this the "special stuff".

I've also used this base for enchiladas (add olives), rice (omit mushrooms, add tomato sauce and green pepper), pizza (add fresh tomatoes and Italian sausage), soups and other things I can't even think of right now.

When life is hectic, I whip up a batch of "special stuff" and it can see us through a week of varied meals.

Do you have a "go to" meal base? Please share!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Someday I really will finish a project...

...but for now, I've started on another. This one is a shop sample so I have a deadline. This means I really will finish! Yes indeedy.

I am really enjoying this yarn. It is Classic Elite Premier - 50% cotton, 50% Tencel. The stitches really have nice definition and the smoothness of the Tencel relieves some of the fatigue I usually get in my hands when knitting with cotton. I don't know how it will wear (and the world may never know for this garment, being a sample and all). Anyone have any experience with this yarn?

Today is a lovely day in Seattle - I can't bear to be indoors! Hopefully it will hold as tomorrow we are tackling the giant "biggest-baddest-most-dangerous-slip-n-slide west of the Mississip" project.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Final stages

We are finally in the last stages of the garage remodel. This has been a long, hard road - the little "adding insulation" project morphed into a major remodel that entailed re-plumbing the entire house, building new walls, moving the washer and dryer to a new room and building a dye studio. My, how projects grow. However, now I can finally wipe away that last layer of drywall dust from every horizontal (oh my - and vertical) surface of the house and enjoy. Sadly, no big unveiling pics as there is a lot of menial tidying up to do... just a snapshot of the final stages of drywall dust hell.