11.25.2007

thankful

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For years we have hosted. I love getting up when it is dark and the temperature is in the single digits. I don't love the raw turkey and stuffing the rib cage with bread and veggies but I prepare it for those I love so I suck it up and bind that bird.

This year we decided not to host as bug's arrival is unknown. We started the day off lazing around and for us that means doing stuff but not in a hurry. Andy studied a bit. I puttered and loved my animals and gave them Thanksgiving treats. We made a quick jaunt to the store and it was amazing how many folks were out buying instant potatoes, disposable roasting pans, canned items for this god awful casserole that Andy insists on making every year and then it is the first thing to be gobbled up defying my only homemade Thanksgiving splendor. Sigh.

We had to get items for said casserole, capers for my beets (I used the very last of this summer's harvest), a bottle of wine and a certain absorbent feminine product for me in case my water breaks.

I got busy in the kitchen. The items I was to make to bring to Laura and Craig's house:
vegetable
pie
And then I wanted to also make:
turkey with stuffing for us to have around for the next week
gourmet nosh item
And then Andy made:
Green Bean Casserole

Andy cleaned the bird for me and I made my mom's stuffing to place in the bird. As previously mentioned, I do not enjoy this part of it and am reminded why I was a vegetarian for a decade but I do it because it is ridiculous to eat meat but then be a total pansy when it comes to preparing it. As a real woman I should slay the turkey myself. Maybe next year.

With the bird in the oven, we went for a walk. It was a gorgeous day and Alice only misbehaved once and really she can't help it that she must smell the bum of dogs passing by. Her doggie psychic says she used to be a monk and she is now overwhelmed by her acute senses. Especially since she didn't get to talk or act out in her last lifetime. I don't think she used to be a monk. Perhaps a monkey.

I had contractions on the walk. Which I have been having but during one of them I got really hot (and it was like 9 degrees outside. Why isn't there a degree symbol on the keyboard? That really chaps my hide.) and had to sit down.

We came back from the walk and had to rush around to get everything done. This always happens to me. Plenty of time and then blam! No time. We were late. The tardiness was furthered when I began making a two pumpkin pies--one to take and one to have and Andy said just make one babe and I inquired further and he declared he doesn't like pumpkin pie. I had no idea. After a decade together I didn't know he didn't like pumpkin pie. Have I failed as a wife somewhere?

So, I enthusiastically tossed the pumpkin cans aside and began wildly searching through the freezer. This is secretly one of my favorite things: the challenge of cooking under pressure without the correct ingredients. I find it invigorating. I had raspberries from last summer's Arlee harvest, apricots from Laura's tree, rogue strawberries and cranberries. So I made a miscellany fruit pie. It was a hit.

Dinner and company were fab. And the whole day I felt thankful. For my man, my fam, my friends, my animals, my house, my bug, my life.

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Recipes, both delicious, both from Food & Wine:

INDIAN POPCORN

ingredients

* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 4 medium shallots, very thinly sliced
* 2 serrano chiles, very thinly sliced
* 1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder
* 1 teaspoon nigella seeds (also sold as black onion seeds). Couldn't find this so I left it out.
* 3/4 cup popcorn kernels
* salt

directions
  1. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil. Add the shallots and chiles and fry over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are golden, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried shallots and chiles to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  2. In the same pot, cook the curry powder and nigella seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the popcorn kernels and cover. Cook, shaking the pan every 30 seconds, until the kernels have stopped popping, about 8 minutes. Season the popcorn with salt and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle the popcorn with the shallots and chiles and serve.
ROASTED BEETS WITH CAPERS

ingredients

* 2 cups kosher salt. This is a lot of salt. I don't get it. I used about 1/2 and it was fine.
* 12 small beets (about 2 pounds), tops trimmed, 12 small leaves reserved and minced. No greens this time of year so I left out.
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
* 1 tablespoon drained capers
* 1 tablespoon minced chives
* Salt and freshly ground pepper

directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Spread the salt in a small roasting pan and set the beets on top. Transfer to the oven and roast for about 50 minutes, or until the beets are tender when pierced. Let cool for 20 minutes.
  2. While the beets are still warm, peel and cut them into wedges. In a medium bowl, combine the beets and their leaves with the olive oil, vinegar, capers and chives. Season with salt and pepper, toss and serve.

11.21.2007

sweet sweet toaster victory

So this morning I noticed a certain appliance was plugged in and there were crumbs. Channeling Nancy Drew, I phoned my man to inquire. Sure enough, he had toast this morning. The clean toaster works like a charm.

Happy Birthday Anniree. Since I didn't post on your day, I thought I'd make it an even week late for purpose.

11.19.2007

yay snow

So this is the latest, in my memory, that Missoula has received a good smattering of snow. It is usually about a month ago that the first flakes fly. So, just for the moment, as I sip strong coffee in my ski hat and winter boots, it feels like global warming isn't as imminent.

I hope it keeps up. Although it would be hard if we finally had a decent ski season the year we have a bug...Andy said he would feel comfortable taking cruiser runs with bug on his chest so we can ski together. This makes me twitch a bit but I trust him on the snow more than me in my running shoes or any shoes for that matter, so.

11.18.2007

spiffed up onesies

Andy and I both hold an aversion to baby clothes that say things like thank heaven for little girls and cute as cute can be and quack quack goes the duck. I mean, seriously.

So, in the spirit of not buying new stuff, I have been collecting onesies and such from friends and garage sales. The good news is, the patches with the silly slogans are easily removed or covered up.

I have a ton of fabulous fabric and had fun customizing my bug's attire. I did make one tiny boo boo in my spirited sewing spree...I altered a sleeper and as I was finishing up the underbelly of the tag revealed some initials: CL. I confessed to Caroline last night and, thankfully, she laughed.

11.17.2007

bug's room is complete

Well, not totally complete. We still need the quilt Andy's grandma Dolly is making. And a kid. But, otherwise, I really love her room.

I like thinking about where all the parts came from: We are borrowing the crib from my dear friend Loni. My mom gave us the shelves that were my grandmother's and she painted them a few months back while on a visit from Red Lodge. My ma in law gave us the rocking chair that she used to rock Andy and Neysa and she painted it while in Missoula a few weeks ago.

The clothes, toys, gadgets and books are all from our friends and family and most have been grubbied by their bugs learning to breastfeed, roll, garden, play. The dragonfly hanging over the changing table was a birthday gift from Paige when we were like 20. The changing table was a garage sale score. The dog was not free but damn near and serves as the perfect accessory.

The delicious wool rug is brand spankin' new from IKEA. So are the irresistible Alice hooks. I still can't get enough of the curtains and often turn on the light just to steal a quick look.

Only a few weeks left. And then. Everything changes.

11.12.2007

I mean, how would you clean a toaster?

Our toaster needed to be cleaned. And when I pulled the tray out I realized there was easily a loaf's worth of bread crumbs in the toaster and another half loaf under the toaster. So, it hadn't been done in a while.

I shook and banged and, still, there were crumbs. To fix the situation, I hosed out the interior of the appliance. Perfect cleanliness. But then, as the wife of an electrician, I thought to myself perhaps I should wait to plug this in.

When Andy arrived home from work he saw the post it note and inquired. I explained how the toaster got *so clean* and he said through a disbelieving half-grin you did what? and then laughter, who does that? So it is a huge, hilarious joke that I could even rationalize this and the toaster will not toast for a few days. If ever, Andy says. We'll see. That toaster has a new will. I mean, it is really clean. Am I nesting? I think it needed a break anyway. Andy likes his birdman, so that will be rough. It is like not putting your shoes on right away after a pedicure--a necessary step in the process.

11.08.2007

the final pre-babe adventure

We headed out to Seattle a few weeks ago for a long weekend of art-gazing and subsequent banter and ganders at the ocean followed by good food. To read about the art we saw and my critique, click here. It was the perfect treat for us; the mini hiatus gave us time to really think about important things like how MTV is no longer for people our age. I mean, I remember Tabitha Soren from when I was 14 and I thought she was old enough to be my mom's younger sister--like mid-thirties. Turns out she was like 24? weird. You see, we get to watch *cable* when we stay in a hotel. It is one of my favorite parts.

Seattle was fab. We stayed at the Ace Hotel and our room had a secret passageway to the bathroom that I was totally obsessed with. We entered our room and I was all where's the bathroom and then we noticed the break in the wall and I pushed just to the left of the break. We held our breathes and the wall swung out to reveal a huge bathroom with robes made just for us.

Thursday was delayed because we stopped off in Kellogg, Idaho real quick like and ended up buying a car. I know! I can't believe it. But it is delicious and has heated seats and that is really all that you need to know. Heated seats in a 1987 Pontiac and I'd be a happy girl. I like the stats on miles per gallon too. The below pic features the surreal building where we signed papers. The walls were covered ceiling to floor with a horrible western mural and everything taxidermied you can imagine--from sheep to geese to great white shark. It was about 7pm and there were about forty employees busily working in this sleepy Idaho panhandle town. The dealership sells 1400 cars a month. We gave them a notch on their belt.

Friday involved the drive from Post Falls in our luxury auto and a trip to the Seattle Art Museum. It all culminated in a dreamy meal at Margery. I had a pork chop and buttery grits. Andy had a tri-tip steak with tiny potatoes and veggies. I forgot the capacity of my uterus-constricted stomach and ate my whole meal, nine glasses of water and a few delicious sips of Andy's wine. I could hardly move. But it was totally worth it.

Saturday we hit the Frye Museum, Western Bridge, the new library, seven galleries and the sculpture park. Then we ate tapas with my cousin and her man at Black Bottle. The waiter was kind of an idiot from Kentucky but otherwise, the food and company were exceptional.

Sunday morning we went to IKEA for the first time ever in our lives. Well, I tried once before with my friend Paige but it was clear she was enduring torture for me so we left. I heart and hate that store. After three hours we were bleary eyed and exhausted like true American consumers. But, man we got some good stuff including but not limited to a book shelf, a rug for bug's room, a step stool, a bath mat and these amazing hooks that are dog's butts and the part you hang stuff on looks just like Alice's tail.

It was only 1pm. So then we ventured out to the Henry Art Gallery to meet up with some of Andy's fam and back downtown for pants shopping for Andy. I was so tired by the time we landed at Banana Republic that I was scaring myself. I didn't even look at the sale rack. It was pathetic. Before the prenatal meltdown I did score two pairs of earrings at the Nordstrom Rack.

We got sushi and a lecture at Noshi. The lecture involved my not eating too much soy sauce while with child. Americans eat too much soy sauce. You are fine with raw fish, just stay away from that soy sauce! We didn't even get to have a say because she gave us three unsatisfying packets of Kikomans. I think I miss sushi the most being pregnant. I want to eat platters of raw fish bathing neatly on rice balls. I want to soak the sticky white boogers in lots of soy sauce and wasabi.

That was it. Then we drove home and that's it for a few years. Not that we can't travel. Bug already has a few trips in her first few months of breathing. I just mean like that. Just us. It has been just us for 11 years so it is hard to imagine it with another human that we created and like a whole lot. I am excited for it though.

11.05.2007

The Twelve Steps: how to clean caked on crud out of a pot

Step #1: Swear a lot because you nearly ruined your plum butter in the process.
Step #2: Convince yourself it will loosen if you let it soak.
Step #3: When, after five days, the crud won't budge, boil with water and soap.
Step #4: Violently stab at the hot crud that smells like...burned plums and dish soap...until your arm won't work.
Step #5: After 45 minutes of hell, realize you are not even 1/4 of the way done and give up.
Step #6: Take photos of your cute cat next to the crud pot.

Step#7: Let it sit on the stove so you have to look at it every day until your will returns.
Step #8: Have your mom come to town and casually mention said pot with crud.
Step #9: Let her go through the above steps with more life experience.
Step #10: Observe and learn as she adds baking soda and boils.
Step #11: Notice her quick-wittedness as she thinks outside the box, ventures to the garage and returns with a paint scraper.
Step #12: Place the perfectly clean pot (with a few reminders of your initial carelessness) in the cabinet and kiss your mom.

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