Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wilhamena the Kitty

We took care of a friend's little kitty over Christmas, despite Suki's complaints.

Her name is Wilhamena, and she's pretty darn cute.

Suki had never been with another cat before, so we were a little worried that she might flip out and eat someone's face, but she surprised us by hiding under the bed, sulking, for the first few days. Apparently she couldn't even face the competition. Once she did come out she satisfied herself by hissing, avoiding contact, and in general letting us know her discontent. Whereas Wilhamena instantly overtook our couch, bed, laps: anywhere she could, really, including our hearts. She's so soft and fluffy, with her clumsy little kitten ways! And so much lighter to pick up and throw around--she was quite the cuddler. A bit of an explorer, too:


I've been mentioning to Jesse that perhaps it would be fun to get another kitty, so this was the perfect test run for us. I think we're both in agreement that fluffy kitties are adorable and cute and fun to play and cuddle with. Also, having 2 cats tearing around, climbing into the Christmas tree (Wilhamena), jumping on top of the fridge (Suki), and eating iPod headphones (Wilhamena) is a little much. Plus we'd have to empty the litter box like twice as much. So for now, probably not. But maybe someday.

Now that Wilhamena is gone, Suki is a new cat. She's been happily claiming her rightful place on our laps, whether we want her there or not.

Bye bye, kitty.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

We got back last night from Seattle, and here are a few pictures of fun to share.

First we went to the Space Needle in hopes of doing the touristy thing. Unfortunately, the touristy price tag was a bit too high for us, so when presented with the  choice of seeing a cloudy view or going to the "Experience Music Project" Museum, we decided better memories would be made with the latter.

Here is a picture of a giant sculpture made out of over 700 instruments. And then a picture of me playing a theremin, which actually fulfilled a dream of mine. Theremins are pretty awesome, even though it sounded awful when I played it. They show up quite a bit in hokey science fiction movies from the 50s, and in a certain Beach Boys song. I like how the picture makes it look like I'm actually producing that yellow squiggly on the wall.

For dinner we went to the piers and tried a seafood restuarant called Ivan's Acres of Clams. I was hoping to get a picture of said acres, but no luck. I did get a picture of our seagull friend that visited us, though!

Then we headed to our lovely little Bed and Breakfast outside of downtown. It was the perfect little place--lovely without being too cutesy! I did notice when we grabbed breakfast that the other guests had our ages beat by a half century or so.... but it was still perfect. We relaxed and slept in, and I opened the presents we had brought. Then the next day...

Coffee! Wandering around! Exploring! Buying a birthday sweater! Stuffing our bellies full at Pike's Place Market! We ate, in order, a crepe, potstickers and yakisoba noodles, a Russian pastry called a Piroshky, and samples of smoked salmon and dried fruit. At this point we didn't really want to be done, but our stomachs said we were, so we ended at The Crumpet Shop with tea and a crumpet.

Then, stuffed to the brim, fat, and happy, we headed home. I am now 25 years old and still don't like baked beans. But I do like Seattle, my husband, and birthdays.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We're in Seattle!

Hello from up north!

Jesse and I headed up north to celebrate Winter Solstice (it's all uphill from here), and tomorrow, my birthday!

We're staying in a cute little Bed and Breakfast (but not the kind that's too cute. It's just right.), and tomorrow we'll explore all around. I'm planning on getting a couple choice birthday nibbles from Pikes Market.

Bye for now--until later!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Celebration of Hannukah

I don't know much about Hannukah.
One year, in Prague, I went to a Hannukah party where we ended up playing "Drinking Dreidel" and having a dance party. I don't think that was a very traditional Hannukah celebration, though.

This year, I decided we should try to pull off a Hannukah celebration, complete with food and dreidels and everything! Jesse used to celebrate Hannukah when he was growing up, so I thought he'd be a pretty good source of information, but it turns out all he remembers is getting an extra 8 days worth of presents. No help there.

But I figured I knew enough to make the food okay, and we'd just kind of wing it from there. Here's how it turned out...

We mixed the traditional potatoes and onions and fried them crispy brown to make latkes. We even made our own applesauce to put on them!! These turned out delicious--I would most definitely make them again. (The sour cream we tried to make is another story...another blog post...)

We made matzo balls and matzo ball soup. This turned out...not so delicious. I didn't season the soup properly, and the matzo balls tasted a bit like wet crackers, so it was just an all around flavorless, lumpy, wet spoonful you got when you ate it. People politely pushed their spoons around while suggesting things I should have used when making it, like salt and spices. I would say "next time" if there would be one, but I'm fairly sure there won't.

We read a Hannukah story, just to get in the mood. More to know why in the world we were trying to spin a dreidel and eat matzo balls. Here you see Andrea doing a fabulous job of reading The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, by Lemony Snicket. I recommend it, and judging by the riveted looks on everyone's faces, they do, too.


In all, there was hanging out, drinking of wine, laughing at jokes, eating of food, and sharing in the wonderful company of my dear friends who showed up to celebrate a holiday none of us knew anything about.
I might not know the details of Hannukah, but I'd call our little makeshift celebration a smashing success. Happy Hannukah, everyone!!

Next up, Kwanzaa???

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Master Cook

In general, I would say I do most of the cooking here. In general. And by that I mean most of the planned dinnertime meals are things I look up recipes for, get ingredients, and try out myself.
This isn't to say Jesse can't cook, because he most definitely can. He does a lot of breakfasts for us, and he has about 3 or 4 dinner recipes that he can whip out from memory. These are all delicious, but I've pointed out to him that the same recipes often get...well...boring. So the other week he whipped out the Master Chef.
Oh, man. Let me dazzle you for a moment...

First off, he made us pizza. And I don't mean he went to the store and got the sauce and crust then put them together--no, he actually MADE the pizza. Everything. He kneaded the dough, mixed the sauce, and lovingly watched the oven to make sure they were doing okay.

(Isn't he cute?)

The final verdict was deliciousness on my part, even if he wasn't as happy with his dough.

Pizza a la individual...Mmm!

After the pizza, he tackled dessert for Thanksgiving, where he made a pie. Not just a regular old pumpkin pie--again, he took out the big guns, and made Poached Pear Tart with Chocolate Ganache. And again, he made it all, down to the pie crust and chocolate ganache. And again, it was pure deliciousness.

Sooo good...

He also did a slow-simmering Green Chili Soup, with real meat! Very impressive.

Since then, he's expressed desires to own a pastry brush for better dusting techniques, a butcher block for better ease of kneading, and several other gadgets that I can only assume will make even yummier foods for me to eat.

The Master Cook has arrived, and I am happy to welcome him to my kitchen.
I'm only a little miffed that he doesn't clean up after himself.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

O Christmas Tree...

On Sunday we went to cut down our own Christmas tree! This is a step up from last year, when we found our tree in the back of a tree lot, propped him up with a homemade stand, put a hat on his top for want of a better topper, and named him Olaf.


This year we ventured out with the Beedles to cut down our own tree and make some memories. I have to say, Andrea and I were a bit more excited than the men at this memory-making excursion, but they perked up once they were given the saw.
We wandered around a forest of tiny douglas firs, looking for the perfect tree for each of us. It's a pretty big decision! Especially when you have the power of the saw--you don't want to go cutting down the wrong tree.
We finally found the rights ones, and Jesse chopped it down in a very manly way while I sipped my hot chocolate.

Jesse and his tree.

Our marriage's first Christmas tree!

The Beedle's chosen tree.

Andrea and I were so excited to be looking for our first Christmas trees as married couples that we broke in song a few times. Mostly O Christmas tree. Then we danced around one, just to drive the point home.
Now our trees are home, watered, set up, and mostly decorated, looking oh so festive and beautiful.
How lovely are your branches, indeed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Spices Galore

I like to be organized. This is different from being a perfectionist, or being OCD, because I am neither of those. But I am organized. So when I decided that the time had come to re-organize my spice rack, it was very exciting. We have two different spice racks here, both Jesse's. One is from Costco that comes with all the spices pre-packed, and the other is a fun spinning one we inherited from his grandma. Of the two, probably about half of the bottle had spices we actually used--the other half had things like "Poultry Seasoning" and some sad looking year-old dried parsley.
So I decided it was time for a change, especially because I've often read that you should replace spices every year to keep them fresh. So we threw out all our old, unused, clumpy spices, washed all the jars and peeled off all the labels. Then we took a trip out to our favorite spice-buying store, Limbo.
I love this store. It's a little piece of organic heaven, right next to Trader Joe's. So you go to TJ's to get all your fun things, then you go to Limbo to get your produce and spices. A perfect team. And the spices--oh, my. It's in bulk, which means it's super cheap. I mean cheap. You pay $9 for a jar of whole allspice in a regular grocery store, or you pay $1.35 and use the jar you already have. Deal. And they have everything you might even remotely need, down to dandelion pollen, milkweed, organic catnip, teas, and things I can't even identify. Jars and jars, all the way down the aisle. The possibilities are very exciting.
So I stocked up on basil and paprika and curry and thyme, and brought it all home to our waiting jars, which I lovingly (and quite messily) poured them in while I tried not to sneeze. Then I labeled them all with a nice yellow label, so they are easy to locate.
Now we have one rack of herbs and seeds, and one of spices. Behold:

The herbs.

Close up. Aren't they nice labels? This is where my non-perfectionism came in, because the labels are in no way symmetrical or perfectly placed, and the labels bubble funny because of the rounded jars, but I don't care.

And the spices. I suppose I should point out that I am a slight perfectionist here: if you notice, the color goes from light to dark. The other columns do as well. It just looks better that way! I'm choosy in my OCD.

Now we have a deliciously usable herb and spice system, and I'm quite happy with myself. Now I just need to cook!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmastime in the City

Christmas is finally here! The stores have been decorated since before Halloween, but I don't allow myself to get into the the Christmas mood until after Thanksgiving. To each holiday their due, you know. But now Thanksgiving has past, and it's Christmastime--the most wonderful time of the year! It may or may not be true, but when the cold is biting your nose, cookies are baking, and trees are lit up along the street, it's hard not to believe it.
This year is our second Christmas, but our first as a married couple. I've tried to find decorations to celebrate this important fact, but Jesse doesn't seem to think it's as important, so I've contented myself with a some nice holly branches and a very Martha-Stewart-esque cranberry-filled jar.

Notice Mr. Moose. He's new this year, and I feel he's a very welcome addition to the holidays. Also, the cranberries. I seem to have a thing for cranberries this year. I've included them in a few recipes, floated them in my spiced cider, and now they're in my December decorations. Mostly, I just love how they float. You can't see it very well in this picture, but they float very nicely, and sticking your hands into a bowl of floating cranberries is incredibly satisfying as they lightly bump up against your fingers. I've always thought cranberry farming would be a good job, solely for this reason.
So it's December 1st, and I've decorated my cozy home, baked cookies, and listened to festive music. The holidays have begun!

a little ridiculous, old-school, and oh so stylish