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.