Category Archives: Life In Pictures

What I’ve Been Up To: A List in Pictures (and a few words too, because… well, just because)

I’ve been cooking:

Spiced Chickpea Pie filling… even more delicious over rice than in a pie!

Smoky Corn Chowder with Shrimp. OMG.

Making dessert:

Rocky Road Ice Cream, recipe from The Perfect Scoop

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice English Muffin Bread with Brown Sugar Butter. Um, yes please.

Sugared Toasted Almond Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Drinking lots of wine:

I DID NOT DO THIS. My husband did. Weirdo.

Riding the Big Wheel:

Oh my god, I was terrified!!!

Knitting baby items:

No, not for me. For friends!

Finishing up the fourth Game of Thrones so I can upload the fifth one to the Kindle I’m getting in the mail TONIGHT:

Buying too much stuff online,

Admiring our wedding “guestbook” that Matt hung up as a surprise the other night:

… and wondering how all that dust got into my camera!

 

I went to Australia…

and here’s what went down:

ENGAGED!

Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

18 August 2011

This weekend…

I can’t wait for the weekend. Not only do I get to see this handsome man:

But also I get to see this crazy person. How am I related to someone who can rock a onesie?:

These two will be there:

And of course, HE will be there:

But then it gets even better…

She’ll be here too (also sans pina colada, I’m sure!):

And him…

And even this little one!!

I CAN’T WAIT!

In pictures…

On Friday night, I made bread. Then I made butter to put on the bread. I felt like freaking Laura Ingalls.

On Sunday, I finished the hat I was (slowly, very slowly) making for my sister. Because, you know, one hand-knit slouchy hat isn’t enough.

Last night, I made banana pumpkin muffins*, because how else would I use three too-ripe bananas, my leftover homemade butter, and that pumpkin puree that is STILL languishing in my freezer?

Today, my wonderful Aussie sent me flowers at work. It almost made me cry.

And… tonight, I had the most blissful massage and facial, courtesy of an awesome TravelZoo deal, at a spa that is ridiculously close to home.

Feel free to smack me the next time I complain.

*These are, obviously, adapted. I made them into muffins to encourage portion control (HA!!!), used raw sugar instead of light brown because that’s what I had, and omitted the nuts because I was too lazy to go to the store. All in all, quite good, but next time, I think I’ll make a loaf instead.

Supra’s Next Adventure

You know those commercials when someone gives their loved on a car with a big red bow on top?

The Supra was my big red bow car.

Back in May 2004, my family was visiting for my birthday. Little did I know that my present would be my Grandma’s beloved 1991 Toyota Supra… with personalized plates saying DR TOT (inside joke!) from my little sis!

Grandma bought the car new on August 12, 1991 — in cash. No, that’s not a story — I just found the original sales receipt! Red, fast, and utterly cool, I loved that car from the start. When we were kids, we used to load up in the Supra (Kristi and I of course fighting over who got the front and who had to squeeze themselves into the miniscule backseat) and drive to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios… you name it, we went. My memories of summer vacations always include climbing into the Supra, trying not to burn my butt on the too-hot leather seats, acting as an extra set of eyes seeing around the terrible blind spots, and always thinking my grandma was not only the coolest grandma, but the grandma with the the most awesome car ever.

When I turned 16 and was (finally!!) old enough to drive, Grandma used to let me drive her around town in the Supra so she could do her errands. She used to say I was “driving Miss Daisy.” We’d go to the bank, to the store… nowhere special, but it always seemed awesome because I was with Grandma, and I was driving the awesome Supra.

With all this history, imagine my delight when, suddenly, the Supra became mine! Grandma has moved to Tahoe and needed four wheel drive, and I was the happy, happy recipient!

Ah — the Supra and I, we had some good times! I loved driving around with the top down in the summer, singing my little heart out, delighting in the power beneath my butt, the stares I got from people on the street (it was gorgeous and rare, you know!), the sun on my shoulders. I loved that car!

But, unfortunately, over time, the car started to show its age. Add that to the fact that I just couldn’t take care of it like Grandma did (weekly waxing? huh?!?), and the amazing expense of trying to maintain a discontinued sports car, and I just knew — the Supra had to go.

Of course, I knew this in, oh 2007. I tried to sell it, but no dice. I wanted to sell it again in 2008, but it looked so beautiful once it was waxed that I just couldn’t part with it. I knew the time was imminent in 2009 when I got stranded multiple times and had to get Aussie to rescue me.

But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t cry when, in 2010, I took you for one last drive…

…took off your DR TOT plates…

…and watched you drive away!

Supra, you are in for a great adventure… this I know. The 17-year-old kid who bought you STROKED you the entire time his dad and I talked business. He was wearing Supra shoes. He had already bought racing seats and new lights for you. He’ll drive you like you were meant to be driven. He’ll fix you up, puts your parts back in place, and soup up your engine. Unfortunately, he plans to paint you matte black, but we won’t tell Grandma that — you’ll always be Fire Engine red in our minds!

But Supra, please don’t forget us. Don’t forget the wiggling kids getting their butts burned by your interior. Don’t forget day trips to Disneyland and Knott’s. Don’t forget my beaming face when you became mine, or early morning trips to the gym when I had to scrape ice off your windshield, or your summer coaxing me around Tacoma to do research. Don’t forget St Louis, where I drove you through an entire winter with no heat, where my friend Alissa called you the “Super Car,” and my student Tre’von said I needed to wear a helmet and gloves to drive you. Don’t forget Seattle, where you maneuvered into tiny spots in Queen Anne and made me that much more appealing to a certain car-loving Aussie.

And whatever you do, don’t forget Grandma and me, who have loved you (and been made oh-so-much cooler by you) since Day 1!

xoxo

Jenni

In the absence of a camera…

Funny story:

On Sunday, Aussie and I were supposed to go flying, but the crap-tastic Seattle weather prevented it. (Once again, thank you, Seattle, for this marvelous summer you are giving us! *mutter, grumble, groan.*) Since we were already at the airport, though, we figured we’d stick around to watch the Blue Angels take off for their Seafair show.

I had (of course, since it lives in my purse) brought my camera, and Aussie set to work taking pictures.

What’s this? Oh no! A speck in the lens! How irritating!

I was a little bummed, but oh well. I’d get it out, or whatever. No biggie.

Well, that didn’t go over so well with Aussie. He’s an engineer, see. So, rather than just leave it be, he tried to FIX it. He molded his lips over the lens and started blowing.

At this point, one speck became six!

So he decided to suck instead. No luck. (Let’s pause for a second to imagine what you would think if you saw your boyfriend sucking and blowing a camera lens. Got that lovely mental image? Ok, good… now to continue).

Since sucking didn’t work, Aussie, had another idea:

Aussie: “Can I take it apart and clean it when we get home?”

Me: (thinking – “yup, I totally saw this coming”) “Ok, but if you break it, you buy me a new one.”

Aussie: “Deal!”

We went home, and after four hours of tiny screwdrivers, tinier screws, and taking it apart and putting it together and taking it apart and cleaning…

Well, guess who’s getting a new camera? 🙂

(I should note that Aussie did actually get it back together, clean and working. He just happened to break a teeny tiny (and very important to colors, it seems) piece of glass along the way — thus resulting in a new camera for moi.)

Now, since I don’t have a camera, I can’t be all flashy in this post about how I tackled The Martha, thought I failed, but really emerged triumphant, so I’ll just have to leave you with a recipe:

Better-Than-Matha’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies, adapted from Martha Stewart

It was a crappy November August day, and I wanted to bake — and not just bake, but EXPERIMENT. I wanted cookies, and I wanted them to have peanut butter, oatmeal, and maybe some (but not too much) chocolate. I definitely didn’t want the chocolate to overpower the peanut butter as so often happens in these kind of cookies. Martha’s recipe sounded good, but here’s the thing: there wasn’t NEARLY enough peanut butter, and WAY too much chocolate! And, well, I didn’t exactly have the right ingredients. And I only wanted a half batch. So, well, I improvised on The Martha… and I think I did a pretty dang good job!

Really important: these cookies taste like crap right outside the oven. So much so that I might have had a tiny little hissy fit and refused to eat them. But then something magical happened — that night, they tasted pretty good. The next morning, they were getting really yum. And by the next afternoon, it was damn-near impossible to get me to stop eating them. They got thumbs-up from my coworkers, who said they were like “breakfast cookies” and “like eating potato chips and cookies at the same time” (which leads me to believe they would be perfect for PMS-time, if you don’t mind the suggestion!). Interesting reviews, but if you’re in the mood for something not-too-sweet, just a bit different, and that you can at least pretend is healthy, give these a shot!

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

2.5 c uncooked oatmeal (not quick-cooking)

1/6 c whole-wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 c packed light brown sugar

1/2 c + more granulated sugar

1/2 c salted butter

1/2 c peanut butter (I used all-natural, freshly ground, and would suggest you use something like this if you want a less-sweet cookie)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c dry roasted, unsalted peanuts

1/2 c chopped chocolate bar (chocolate chips would also work, but I had leftover gourmet chocolate from another baking experiment, so I used that)

1/2 c desiccated coconut (i.e. unsweetened and finely chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat 1/2 c granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the peanut butter until pale and fluffy (takes about 5 minutes). Add eggs (one at a time) and vanilla, and mix.

Switch out mixer for a spoon. Add oat mixture and stir until just combined. Add peanuts, chocolate chunks, and coconut, and stir together.

Form balls of dough (I used a partly-filled ice cream scoop to measure), roll between your hands, and then roll in some of the extra granulated sugar to coat. Place on baking sheets with plenty of room between — they spread! (I pressed some down with a fork, peanut-butter cookie-style, but they got a bit crispy for my taste. You could go either way).

Bake for 13-15 minutes (I went for 15), then cool on the trays on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from tray and let cool completely — maybe for a day so they get really good!

In lieu of a vacation…I knit.

I need an escape. Seriously. This year is driving me batty so far, and I have to keep reminding myself to take deep yoga breaths.

In the absence of being able to take a vacation to someplace warm where I can be pampered, fed, kneaded, and protected from incessant and often arrogant questions, I am immersing myself in knitting.

And because that’s what a blog is for, I’m going to share.

Remember this glorious yarn?

Well, now it looks like this!

Aren’t they cute? I love this pattern — Sunday Swing Socks; all the swirls and whirls just make me happy. And they look like a Seattle sky in February (the way it’s supposed to look, not this weird blue stuff we’ve been having). And they fit perfectly. And they are comfy. These will be lived in, I can tell ya.

Next up? More socks. My Aussie started requesting some when I was knitting the first pair, then started begging as I knit this pair… so I’m giving in. I picked him out some nice, manly yarn, too (although that brown tends to look more purplish in certain lights)…

Can’t wait to get started!

Rediscovered Love

I’ll never forget my first choir concert in college. No, I don’t remember what we sang, or how we did, or anything like that. What I remember was this: in our down time, everyone knitted.

I thought knitting was only for old ladies, but obviously, I was mistaken. All my young, hip, collegiate peers were expertly wrangling with yarn and sticks, and I felt terribly left out. That winter break, I taught myself how to knit online (resulting in a non-classifiable technique that, fortunately, still results in something that looks like knitting!), and I fell in love.

I knitted scarves — tons of them. I graduated to hats. I used beads, made lace, taught myself to knit socks from a pattern. I experimented with felting, both in the washing machine and in my bathtub. I went on a LYS (local yarn store) solo tour around Western Washington and dyed my own yarn with food coloring. I knitted a purse, a camisole, fingerless gloves, a sweater, and mancala board…

and I burnt out. My love affair with knitting lasted over six years and followed me from college, to the midwest, and back to Seattle. Then, after a completely over-the-top handmade Christmas, I quit cold-turkey. I could hardly bear the thought of looking at yarn or needles. I was done.

And then, just before Christmas, Mary happened. My good friend Mary, who is crafty and domestic, asked me to help her with her knitting. A few weeks later, I was hooked again. It’s all Mary’s fault!

So, anyway, let me share with you the fruits of my rebirth… they’re awfully pretty!

First up, knitted in Cascade Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Chunky (sigh of loveliness!), Silver’s Palindrome Scarf.

(Reversible cables… brilliant!)

(So luscious!)

I LOVE this pattern. It’s simple and soothing, with gentle ribbing and occasional cables to pique your interest, and it results in an amazingly thick, warm scarf. Perfect for keeping your hands busy while you watch TV or gossip with your best girl friends. Gorgeous. Consider me re-hooked!

Next up, I knitted a pair of Fiber Trend’s Railroad Rib Socks because I fell in love with some beautiful self-striping Lana Grossa Soja sock yarn.

(Isn’t the colorway beautiful?)

Unfortunately, they are a fair bit too big. I knit this same pattern a couple years back and didn’t realize just how much the circumference of your feet can change when you lose weight. Oops. So, they will be my at-home slipper-socks… comfy comfy.

Now, I’m working on another pair of socks. (I kind of love knitting them). I will share the finished product with you when I’m done, but for now, here’s the yarn as a teaser…

Love it!

Things I Love About Christmas

My presents are wrapped and under the tree, my cards are lovingly signed and sent, I’ve eaten my fill of holiday treats, and tomorrow I head home to spend Christmas with my family. Now that I’m done with the crazy preparation part of Christmas, I can reflect and enjoy on what it is that makes this time of year so special to me.

Family goes without saying, as does the spirit of giving. So, I’m going to jump to the wonderful Christmas-isms that can be captured in a photograph instead.

Merry Christmas, all, and a Happy New Year!

Cooking FAIL (and a recipe for redemption)

Last week, I was on a roll…A roll of FAILURE!

After gasping in horror after realizing how much money I had spent eating out in October, I decided there needed to be some changes. Serious, serious changes. I needed to start cooking — and cooking enough to have leftovers for lunches –, and I needed to do it STAT.

So, I did what any logical person would do. I made a spreadsheet! (Give me an E-X-C-E-L!) Lunches, dinners, links to recipes online, and ingredient lists were all represented in my pretty little excel window.

(SIDE NOTE: Apparently spreadsheets make me bossy (according to SOME people, ahem). I think their usefulness outweighs any negative personality characteristics highlighted by them. Boo. Yah.)

The best laid plans… *sigh*

On Tuesday, I made this. Whoa, bad. I still think the recipe was good, but substituting her recommended sausage for hot Italian pork sausage was a VERY BAD IDEA… and yielded a shit-ton of solidified fat. Ew.

On Thursday, in an effort to make something vegetarian for girls’ night, I made this. Whoa, boring. Not even accidentally over-spicing it (damn atypically spicy Australian spice!) left it with enough life for enjoyable leftover status.

Needless to say, I was irritated, slightly disillusioned with my adorable red crock pot (sacrilege, I know!), and in need of redemption.

So, I made pasta sauce.

This, my friends, is a pasta sauce — also known as redemption by pasta. So powerful that it even makes your day when you have to eat it with cut-up lasagna noodles because you forgot to buy penne. So outstanding that you didn’t need the stupid noodles anyway because it rocks your world as-is. Freaking yum. And because I love you and am feeling generous, I will share my delicious recipe. You can thank me later.

Really Freaking Good Pasta Sauce (by me, for realz)

1 lb+ 97% lean ground beef (do not thaw frozen meat by cooking it. Trust me.)

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 zucchini, chopped

1 package mushrooms or same quantity, sliced

large handfuls of spinach

jar of marinara or other low-calorie-because-there’s-nothing-to-it-but-veggies “pasta sauce”

salt & pepper

Italian seasoning

Cooking spray (you could use olive oil, but remember the POINTS!!)

Spray large saute pan with non-stick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high. Add onions and garlic, cook until they are brown and tasty-looking. Add zucchini, cook until looking super tasty (don’t you like my exact directions?). Add mushrooms, mix it all up. Push veggies to one side, add ground beef, and cook about 80% of the way. Mix all together. Shake a frick-ton of Italian seasoning over the top, plus a little salt and a bunch of pepper. Put spinach on top and let it wilt completely. Mix it all up, add jarred “pasta sauce,” let simmer into deliciousness, serve over pasta.

It’s not rocket science, but it’s damn good food… and fail-proof and confidence-raising. I give it five thumbs up!