Monday, December 21, 2009

Mostly Sweet

This has been a crazy year for me. I was feeling like I hadn't accomplished much, but then had my review at work and my boss set me straight. Truthfully, it is her awesomeness (and increased vesting on my profit sharing plan) that keeps me with this company. :)
To recap 2009:
Wisdom teeth were removed, we wandered Bainbridge in Bloom, took a road trip to Oregon to visit my parents, and on the way back met some of David's friends. David's parents came to visit, as did my Grandmother. We went camping on San Juan Island, camping in Fort Warden/Port Townsend, apple picking, and I vacationed in LA with two of my best friends. David and I went pumpkin picking, I bought a new camera, became a little gym crazed, lost a ton of weight, ate healthier, became healthier, started running again, hurt my foot, and switched from heels to fancy (expensive) flats. We have had many tasty meals with friends and family this year, we vacationed again in Port Townsend for their city tree lighting, chopped down our own tree, I became obsessed with oatmeal for breakfast, learned to bake bread, David bought me a fancy mixer for my birthday, and I chopped all of my hair off!
Whew! What were your 2009 highlights?
I am leaving you with some pics from our Sunday outing to the Bellevue Garden Lights - it was so beautiful!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Before and After (Hair)

I chopped all of my hair off today! It was chopped a bit more than I hoped for, but the lack of a pony tail option will just force me to be a bit more creative! I am a little scared, but I think I love it! :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Christmas Cards!

My Christmas cards are done for the year! (I feel like I should be able to insert some leaping into the air here!)
I am also very excited to report that I am (or attempting to) sell the remaining cards on etsy!
I'm not sure how all of this is going to work out, but check out the cards, they turned out really well! :)

Some tasty wheat bread

I feel like a successful bread baker! lol... Yesterday I was hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich (which I never did make), but the only bread we have is rye (which I made for David, but I am not really a fan of rye), so I decided to try my hand at wheat. This is just a basic bread recipe, I have now tried the rye and wheat alterations and can wholeheartedly recommend both!

WHITE BREAD: (Basic Recipe)
Recipe from the website
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 packages instant active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt

1 cup water
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs, beaten

1. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, level off.
2. Combine flour, yeast sugar and salt in a large mixer bowl; blend.
3. In a saucepan, heat the water, milk and oil together until very warm (120 to 130 degrees F).
4. Add eggs and heated mixture to flour mixture.

1. Blend at low speed until moistened.
2. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.
3. With a wooden spoon, stir in an additional 3 to 3-1/2 cups of flour to form a sticky dough.
4. In bowl or on a floured board, gradually work in 1/2 to 1-1/2 cups more flour, kneading or working in with hands until dough is smooth, pliable and no longer sticky (about 5 minutes).

1. Place dough in a greased bowl; cover with a cloth or loose fit lid.
2. Let rise in a warm place until light and double in size, about 45 minutes.

1. Punch down dough to remove air bubbles; divide dough into two parts.
2. From dough into desired shapes; place in greased pans according to Shaping and Baking directions (follows).
3. Cover, let rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
4. Bake at 375 degrees F according to shape until loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped. If loaf becomes too brown, cover with aluminum foil during last 10 minutes of baking.
5. Immediately remove from pans; cool.

1. Follow white bread recipe.
2. After beating with mixer, stir in 3 cups of Whole Wheat flour instead of white flour.
3. Knead in 3/4 to 1-1/4 cups white flour.

Follow White Bread recipe. After beating with mixer, stir in 3 cups medium rye flour instead of white flour. Knead in 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 cups white flour (rye flour dough usually remains slightly sticky). Rye dough should not completely double in size. Add 1 Tbsp freshly crushed Caraway Seeds with rye flour.

Also, please note, I did follow Alton Brown's recommendations for rising and punching down (or redistributing the yeast cells). The wheat bread was so light and fluffy! I wish I could send you a piece! :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas cards and a book

Recent good news: I just received my Christmas cards back from the printer, thus completing goal number #17 - to make my own this year! The printing staff and my co-workers all seemed really impressed with the illustration, it was nice to hear encouraging words from people that don't know/love me and don't have to say such nice things. :)
I am working on getting an etsy account set up so that I can start selling some cards and develop a body of work that can be used in bidding for illustrating jobs - I am feeling like this is the start of something BIG, and it is so exciting! :)

The remainders of my life have been *really* stressful and busy as of late, so I have retreated to fluff fiction. I don't expect this trend to waiver for the next month, so bear with my book reviews. lol... :)
I picked up Angel Lane by Sheila Roberts because of the Christmas theme, but enjoyed its lighthearted nature. This is a book about a small town, three quaint shop owners, their friendship, dating lives, and how they work together to help each other to a happy ending. I would recommend this book for this time of year, it was exactly what I needed to keep me going on the elliptical.
Hope you all are having a great day! :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Port Townsend tree lighting

This weekend David and I skipped town in search of some Christmas spirit. We started out with some of the best homemade espresso, a quick hallway photo shoot, and some of the most amazing fog I have ever seen.
We took the Edmonds/Kingston ferry, and made our way to our favorite vacation destination - Port Townsend! :)

We had planned this vacation quite awhile ago, and our dates happened to land on the annual Port Townsend tree lighting celebration! I was very excited for carolers, Santa, and to see the lights.

We also had some amazing food at Hanazono Asian Noodle, if you make it there, I HIGHLY recommend the handmade gyoza and Tom Yum Soup! It was soooooo good, especially after standing outside to see Santa! :)

We saw our first glimpses of snow, and watched the birds fly south for the winter

I know that we have a ton of pictures going on here, but just a couple more! On our way home we stopped for a tree, David chopped and I helped carry, we had a great weekend! :)

How do you guys get in the spirit? :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

The walk to work (Seattle in pictures)

This morning was foggy, chilly, and we wish it were threatening snow (for a white Christmas!), so I felt semi-inspired to take a few quick pics on my way into work this morning....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A variety of updates, and the introduction of my new boyfriend (Alton Brown!)

I had a 6am shift at work today, and I have to be honest.... I hate getting up at 5 to be to work by 6am. I am by no means a morning person, and have a tendency to forget everything important that I need to do for the day, in favor of coffee and countless other bad choices.

Today though was planned for in advance.
No coffee was had (sticking with one per week even though David just bought a fancy espresso machine!), and I am happy to report, not too many bad decisions were made. lol...
The only questionable decision was the absence of a work out. I skipped lunchtime yoga trying to hunt down a surprise for David which didn't work out after all! Lame, I know!

Oh well, the hunting got me out of the office and walking around town, which was a nice break in my day.

I'm sorry, I am getting distracted from my point here: my love of oats!
I packed oatmeal to take and make at work this morning: oats, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, a couple almonds, raspberries and I later added some almond butter! They were so tasty, and the addition of flaxseed meal (maybe it was the omega-3s?) kept me spunky all day! There was no am grouch!

In other news, look what Alton Brown taught me today!

I applied this rise, punch down, and shaping technique to the rye bread recipe David had been lusting after (a very similar recipe previously provided 8 loaves of flat, thrown away, rock hard, gummy rye bread, so I was a bit frustrated to say the least!). I have to tell you, I am so impressed with the results!

So in honor of my new found bread baking success, Alton Brown has to be added to my list of boyfriends, joining the likes of Bear Grylls (Man vs. Wild), and John Corbett (Northern Exposure and Sex and the City)! lol.... Don't worry, David is well aware of my side love interests! lol....

Update: we tried actually cooking the flaxseed meal with the oatmeal this morning, and it made quite the nasty mess - I am going to take oatmeal to make at work again this morning, but that just means adding boiling water, and maybe microwaving a for a minute or two. For future home use, we will try stirring some flaxseed meal into the oatmeal once it is already cooked.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Hello! Happy Thanksgiving!
What are you thankful for in your life? Material things, family, friends, love, or talent?
How often do you sit back and think about how good you have it?
I have this tendency of getting caught up in my frustrations, forgetting to appreciate the good stuff that happens right along with the bad, but I am trying to work on noticing more of the good.

RIGHT NOW I am thankful for: A warm home, happy fish, and my health. My (entertaining, strong, sweet and talented) boyfriend who makes breakfast in bed each morning and the best chai tea, who teases me, pushes me, cheers me on, and is there for me like no other. I am thankful for my family, my relationship with my parents, my friends, and even facebook! lol... In this last year I have reconnected with so many people from my past, and they thankfully have all been really positive reunions. I am thankful that I am learning the strength of my body, losing weight, becoming healthier by the day. I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to have a life outside of work, that I have time to go to the gym, that there are people that 'ooooo' over my painting skills, and that I even have painting skills! lol... I am thankful for time I get to spend in the kitchen, for my new camera, for hand holding, good books, for intangible things like excitement, for friends that travel with me, and for the stamps in my passport!

I am thankful for so much. :)

Our Thanksgiving was spent cleaning (being thankful for our home), and cooking - ham, salad, mashed potatoes and pumpkin souffle!

Easy and Light Pumpkin Souffle
(found on

3 egg whites
1 (21 ounce) can pumpkin
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 380 degrees

Beat egg whites in a medium bowl until stiff, set aside.
Blend pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, egg yolk and milk in a large bowl.
Gently fold egg whites into pumpkin mixture, 1/3 at a time.
Pour into 5 small ramekins (I used 4 large) leaving 1/2 inch or more at the top as they will rise. Place cups on a baking tray and put into the oven. Bake for 30 -45 minutes until set - Do not open the oven during this time!

I chose this recipe because of it's low fat/calorie attributes (2.1 g/114 cal per serving), but am happy to report that it was SO TASTY (maybe even better than pumpkin pie?)! The only downfall was that they totally collapsed! lol.... Oh well, we really enjoyed them, in their deflated state they were kind of like a light pumpkin custard - Yummy either way! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kate Jacobs - Knit Two

I had read the Friday Night Knitting Club, and hated it. My friend Heather loved it, but I was devastated!
I loved the characters of the Friday Night Knitting Club, the knitting, mother/daughter relationships, and the developing friendship of an unlikely group of women, but I was fairly sure I wouldn't read anything else by Kate Jacobs. You see, I was quite heart broken when the lead character died tragically just when I was sure there would be a happy ending.
I cried (you can ask David, it wasn't pretty).
I was afraid that any subsequent novels, would sport a similar twist, and was a little gun shy! :)
I am happy to report though that the lure of those characters (and a Borders coupon making the book quite inexpensive) broke my resolve. The verdict? I don't want to spoil it for you, but there was no such heat breaking twist, and I will certainly be reading the next novel in the series! :)

Turkey Burgers

I am a kitchen mulit-tasker, I love to have several things going at the same time, and Wednesday was no different! Cranberry sauce was bubbling while I threw together the ingredients to make maybe the tastiest turkey burger I have ever had! I found the recipe over at Embracing Balance, and have passed it on to some work friends and my Mom - it is really that good! (Everything is good with cheese right?) :)
Here is the recipe right from the source:

Rachel Ray Turkey Burgers

  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey (or chicken if that's your thing)
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 oz extra old white cheddar, crumbled (light cheddar does NOT work the same)
  • eyeballed handful of grill seasoning (like Montreal Steak Spice)
  • 2 tbsp horseradish
  • 4 buns
  • grainy mustard
  • optional: mayo, tomato, lettuce, etc.

Note: these have to be grilled on a Foreman or some such appliance (or in a frying pan) because if you cook them on a regular BBQ type grill, the cheese just drips through the grates and is lost.

  • Preheat grill.
  • Mix together (with your hands people!) the meat, onions, cheese, seasoning & horseradish. Divide into four even balls and form into patties.
  • Grill (3-4 minutes per side).
  • The original recipe recommends cranberry sauce and the grainy mustard. We use light mayo and the grainy mustard, and top ours with tomato slices (and lettuce if we have it).
I will be making this again! :) I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Simple as can be!

1 bag cranberries
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
peel and juice from one orange
one pinch ground cloves (optional)
1 cup water

Wash cranberries and pick out any brown or shriveled fruits, sticks or leaves.
Bring all ingredients to a gentle boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Strain cranberry mixture through a metal colander, use a spoon to squish the fruit against the sides of the colander, extracting as much pulp as possible.
Refrigerate for approximately a week (if it lasts that long!), tasty with Thanksgiving ham, turkey, and on sandwiches! :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mini Pumpkins

My friend Beth came this afternoon to whisk me off for some sushi, chat and a delightful pedicure, but I came home in time to bake some mini pumpkins!
Did you know these are edible? I will be honest, I didn't. I buy them for decoration, love their cuteness, and now their tastiness!
I did make some pretty big adjustments to make these pumpkins a bit healthier:

Mini Pumpkin Souffles

2 mini pumpkins
a pinch cinnamon
a pinch nutmeg
2 Tbsp brown sugar (I used 1)
1 cup heavy cream (I used organic 1/2 and 1/2 and could have reduced this to 1/2 cup - my pumpkins were pretty small)
1 egg
2 Tbsp powdered sugar (I didn't use)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter (I didn't use)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used about 1/4 cup of Anne's organic honey bunnies)

I usually just tell you how I made the recipe, but this time I included the original ingredients because if you wanted more of a crumble on top I think adding the butter would be tasty. :)

Chop the tops off of your pumpkins, leaving as much pumpkin as possible. Clean pumpkins with a spoon and place in a baking dish (I used ramekins).
Rub the pumpkin insides with a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and the brown sugar. Mix together the cream, egg, powdered sugar (if using), and cinnamon. Spoon cream mixture into pumpkins.
Bake at 325 for 50 minutes. Remove from oven.
Mix together the butter (if using) pecans and graham crackers and sprinkle on top of the souffle. Return the pumpkins to the oven and bake 10 more minutes.
After removing the pumpkins from the oven a second time, I decided that they were not brown enough (I had used quite a bit less sugar and had skipped the butter) so I spooned some of my leftover cream mixture on the top and tossed them back in the oven at 350 degrees for another 15 minutes. When I removed them the third time they were perfect! :)

Oh.... and an update on our brining tests - our study results indicated that brining, and length of brining made no difference in meat moisture or taste. Today's turkey was tasty, and more juicy because we removed it from the oven at the correct temp, but I am sad to say none of the flavors from the brine left their traces in the meat!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turkey Anyone?

We stopped off at Whole Foods on our way home from our Belltown adventures and picked up some groceries (I was out of Almond Butter, which is like $5/$6 at Whole Foods, and $12.95 at QFC). We wandered around, picked up some raspberries, questioned this odd creature (called Buddha's Hand which smelled FANTASTIC, but who knows what to do with it?), some cheddar cheese, a pumpkin spice candle, and some TURKEY LEGS! Yum!
We are making ham for Thanksgiving, but I love turkey too, and after watching a few Thanksgiving specials on the Food Network and PBS we wanted to try brining to see if it made a difference in meat moisture! We are conducting scientific testing here people!

David adapted an Alton Brown brine recipe to the contents of our cupboards and our two turkey legs:

Turkey Brine
1/3 cup salt
1/4 cup brown Sugar
1 veggie bouillon cube
1 cinnamon stick
1 sprig rosemary
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 pinches Italian seasoning
2 cups water
2 trays of ice and cold water to fill your bowl
Bacon (optional!)

Add ingredients to a small sauce pan with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let liquid cool to luke warm.
Add ice, water, turkey legs, brine and more water if needed to fill a large bowl. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate/brine for 3 hours.
We cut one leg in half and wrapped it with BACON! lol.... I figured it needed a little oil, and really, you can't go wrong with bacon! lol...

We roasted our turkey under the broiler for 30 minutes which was a tad bit too long - when I took the turkey out it registered an internal temp of 165 degrees, which is too high according to Alton Brown (yes, I love his nerdiness!).

We added some chipotle to our remaining turkey leg and will let it continue to brine over night. Tomorrow we are going to try roasting the turkey leg in the cast iron pan for 20 minutes, we are aiming for an internal temprature of 151 degrees - letting the turkey rest to reach 165 degrees.

Do you have any special turkey/Thanksgiving recipes?

My Mom gave me some ramekins for my birthday, so I am going to try a pumpkin souffle to go with our Thanksgiving dinner this year - I will keep you posted on our results! :)

Update: I also made some cinnamon bread this evening! Our house smells so tasty! :)

Exploring Belltown

Today we were aiming for a walk, a hike, some time outside, but trying not to freeze our fingers off, we opted for Belltown over Discovery Park. Belltown isn't my favorite Seattle neighborhood, it's a weird mix of rundown businesses, loft living, dive bars, cute cafes, and homeless assistance programs. The only thing I love about the neighborhood is a pizza joint which played a part in our second date (spumoni ice cream, not pizza, but the date was 10 hours, many meals and many destinations).
Today after counting maybe 15 different pizza places (why are there so many in this neighborhood?) the highlight was coffee at Uptown Espresso - a dark roast and I was supper impressed with their foam!
I am also happy to report we came home to some FANTASTIC news:
How is your weekend going?