Saturday, October 31, 2009

Birthdays and baking

Long ago I heard an old saying that I have since also heard applied to New Year's Day: Be careful how you spend your birthday, what you do on this day will determine how you spend the following year. Now, I am kind of superstitious, so each year I try to make my birthday weekend FUN, relaxing, and filled with people I love.
We were slated to spend the weekend hiking in the mountains, but after battling work places filled with illness, David came down with a sickness that wasn't messing around. Thankfully our B&B reservations were easily canceled (they didn't want our sickness any more than we did!) and I took myself shopping (for a size smaller jeans!) to compensate.
So, maybe this coming year wont contain the most vacations, but I did get to spend the day getting massaged and manicured, in smaller clothes, with tasty takeout, roses, and a VERY supportive and understanding boyfriend. I think it will be okay.

Oh, and check out my birthday loot! In the first pic, our fish Winston is checking out the new blue competition in town! lol... He was quite fascinated!
What should we name our new mixer? I'm kind of partial to Whirly. lol...
I opened presents on Thursday (Mom, I had an excuse, we were going on vacation!), and promptly made David whipped mashed potatoes. Friday I ended up playing around with a few bread recipes, we made two loaves of rye bread and two of cinnamon raisin. This mixer will take some getting used to - I made a few mistakes with the breads, but I love it already! (I will post recipes once I smooth out the process)
I have also taken to reading a few diet/healthy eating/running blogs. I am going to update the links to the right with some of my favorites - they have quickly replaced my health magazine addiction, these are real people making over their lives, and it is inspiring to read each day.
Many of the women from these blogs, and most recently my Mom have recommended eating oatmeal for breakfast each morning - you should check out some of their oatmeal toppings! When grocery shopping, David and I picked up some pumpkin to give one version a try:

We have been making bulgar wheat for breakfast a couple times a week, and I love it, but was excited to try new additions! I found bulgar with pumpkin and raisins too sweet, but will try pumpkin and nuts tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Old friends and farmers market squash

This last weekend David and I met an old friend Robert and his fiance Katherine for a wander around the Ballard Farmers Market and then lunch at their house. We really had a great time, though it was strange seeing someone I hadn't seen since high school! I was surprised by how much and at the same time how little Robert had changed, which I guess in turn made me question my own changes.
We got together at the Ballard Farmers Market - which by the way is now my favorite Seattle area market, things were far less expensive than what I have seen from the University Market or the Broadway Market and they have so many food booths! I picked up some really nice winter acorn squash, brought them home, stuffed and roasted them for our weekday lunches!

Okay, they aren't pretty, but they are sooooooo tasty!

Stuffed Winter Acorn Squash

2 large acorn squash
3 large links of turkey sausage (I used a sweet Italian style)
1 cup diced celery
1/2 diced apple
finely diced onion (to taste)
1/2 cup diced carrot (optional)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Bread crumbs or cheese to top squash (optional)

Cut acorn squash in half, remove seeds and 'guts'. Place face down in a baking dish and add 1/4 inch water to the bottom of the dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes until squash is tender and water has evaporated, but hull of squash is still firm.
While the squash is baking, saute onions and carrots until tender. Add and brown turkey, then the celery and apple.
Remove squash from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Carefully flip squash over and scoop squash out of the hull; incorporate into the turkey mixture. Try to leave a small wall of squash in the hull to help maintain the shape of your squash.
Once your squash has been thoroughly incorporated into the turkey mixture, season, and then spoon the stuffing back into the squash. Top squash with bread crumbs or cheese and bake for another 20 minutes or until top is golden brown.

I made this quite a bit differently than the several recipes I found online (I totally eliminated stuffing/bread products which most other recipes called for) - let me know if you try the recipe, I would love to know your thoughts!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Project 365 Update

Just a small part of me: I have terrible vision. David questions because sometimes I can see things he cannot. Bad vision aside, my perception of color is spot on.
I have noticed some changes 100 + days in, 100 + pictures into Project 365. I'm not as worried about clarity. This is kind of how I see the world, kind of how I paint as well. Lots of color, but don't look for a definitive line! :)
I am enjoying this process, walking past something beautiful, something that I have walked past a million times, and stopping to go back and take a picture. To edit and choose only one for the day, maybe not the best picture even, but the one most true to the day.
What do you think, could you take a picture a day for 365 days?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spaghetti Squash

See that spaghetti squash hanging out there behind my surprise flowers? Yeah, you've got it, that yellow bit there in the basket. I neglected to take a before pic, this was the best I could do, I was too enamored with the flowers David brought home for me! lol...

Anyway, I feel that fall brings squash, baking, all things hearty and warm, and while I am trying to keep motivated on the gym (kicking my butt) and weight loss (I really would like a cookie) fronts, I thought I would share a healthy fall recipe!

Baked Spaghetti Squash
1 medium to large spaghetti squash (this size equals four large servings, but you can use any sized squash, I have made small ones for just one meal, but they take awhile to bake, so I like leftovers)
2 Tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp Italian seasoning

The baking process is simple, slice the ends of your squash off, and then slice the squash in half lengthwise. Do not cut the squash up in bits, this will just leave you with a mess of short spaghetti strands.

Scoop out the guts and add the butter, garlic and herbs. Place the squash cut side down in a baking dish. Add approximately a half inch of water to the bottom of your dish.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for approximately an hour. Your spaghetti should be al dente and the water evaporated.

Using a fork, gently break away the 'spaghetti' from the hull of the squash.
I love to top this with tomato sauce, ground turkey and some red pepper flakes (it is JUST like spaghetti!), David loves to mix it with a little butter, garlic, shrimp and broccoli.
Anyway you top it though, this is good stuff! :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Be Single by Liz Tuccillo

I know it is crazy, but I felt kind of silly reading 'How to Be Single' when I am no longer single, like I was trying to learn secrets of a club I no longer belong to. Weird feelings regarding the title aside, I did really enjoy the book.
My foodie book addiction has been supplemented by a travel book addiction. lol...
This is a fictional novel by one of the executive story editors of Sex in the City, and it reads just like an extension of the show. Five women dealing with being single in New York, and then Julie pitches a book idea to her boss, moves from publicist to author and travels around the world to learn about women in 'single' status. It is a cute, heartwarming novel that brings you back to the point: you have to love yourself (don't look for someone else to do it for you).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goal update - running!

Today I ran for 20 minutes straight, thus accomplishing goal #6!
I have since updated goal #6 to push myself a little harder, now to run 3 miles in 30 minutes. That means almost doubling my distance, but I am thinking that I can bust this goal by Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Things I love about fall...

I am loving Fall and the rights of 'Birthday Month', they are both treating me well. :)
We adventured out to Fall City Farms for some pumpkin picking yesterday, pet some floppy eared goats, a horse, a donkey, a cow, wandered through pumpkin fields and bought some farm produce. I love dragging David to all this fun girly stuff!
Next weekend there are more pumpkins in our future, I will be sure to post pics! :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

360 Degrees Longitude by John Higham

Hello! I have another book for you. Yes, I have been spending all of my free time reading while on the elliptical. It burns calories, allows me to work on my balance (I have none, and no hands is an accomplishment!) and time passes much more quickly when reading an engrossing book!
Anyway, I loved this book: 360 Degrees Longitude, One Family's Journey Around the World. It is a true story of a family who saves for 10 years to travel the globe; examine how people around the world are the same and different, learn about history, current culture, and experience something that not many of us get a chance to do.
When I was 13 my mom took my brother and I to Hawaii with some family friends and their daughter. The adults were upset that the rented condo was in rough shape, I managed to get a fairly intense dose of sun burn/heat stroke, and I nearly drowned after turning my back to the ocean (I didn't know, I was a 13 year old girl from ALASKA, we don't go into the ocean where I come from!) lol... Anyway, I'm sure my Mom remembers the trip quite a bit differently than I do (though while writing this I am remembering all kinds of fun details, like the couple 'making out' in the plane seats next to my 10 year old brother?) lol...
The point of this tangent: Can you imagine taking your two kids around the world? Ours was just a trip to Hawaii, theirs a trip through 28 countries.
It was a fantastic book!
Oh, and I also learned that I would like to add Salar de Uyuni to my list of must visit places... South American salt flats that (during the rainy season) are covered with a couple inches of water. Water that reflects the sky so that the horizon disappears and you look like you are walking in the clouds. Imagine that at sunset.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Henry's Sisters

I originally picked this book up because there is a tie in with a bakery. Knowing my love for foodie books, you should not be surprised by that statement, but you should be surprised by the fact that the book actually has little to do with the actual bakery, and more to do with a family struggling with their love for each other.
The book centers around the three Bommario sisters, their Dad leaves the family when they are young, and mom is forced to stoop many levels to feed the family and provide medical care for her youngest child Henry. How do you feed four kids when you have no education, no skills, no insurance, you are battling your own mental illness, and when one of your children is develop mentally disabled? I will let you discover the answer on your own, but will warn that it isn't pretty.
Struggling through a difficult childhood, and now requested to return home to care for the family bakery, a grandmother with Alzheimer's, and their brother Henry, the Bommario sisters bond together and really make strides to work out their life long issues.
What I found so incredibly touching about this book was the love that Henry offers to his somewhat dysfunctional family. It is absolute and unconditional, love that teaches you a lesson while reading a novel.
I don't want to spoil the ending, but I have to tell you that after finishing the book I read a good 5 pages of the ending aloud to my friend Carrie, trying not to cry and failing miserably.
It is just a fiction novel, nothing fancy; but I have to tell you, I was so touched by this book.

Goal update - running

So I have some pretty big news on the running front. Yesterday I was able to run 1 mile in 12:13. This is not fast, and it wasn't easy! lol... but I was VERY proud of the accomplishment! Half way to my goal of being able to run for 20 minutes straight! :)