29 November 2007

To Bonnie Potter: a tribute

Dug's paternal grandmother, Grandma Potter, died yesterday. The hard part was that it was so unexpected. She went to the hospital complaining of abdominal pain earlier this month. During surgery for a supposed hernia they found out her gallbladder was the problem. She never fully recovered and passed away in the hospital.

I didn't know her really well. We didn't see each other often because of the great distance, but I loved her. She will be missed.


Soon after Alaska became a state, Jerry and Bonnie Potter moved up to the "Last Frontier" to homestead with their three boys, Roger, Paul and Mike. Their oldest, a daughter Sharon, opted to stay behind in Oregon to finish high school.

Grandma told me that she agreed to go to Alaska on condition that they would return in a few years. But after getting used to the entirely different way of life that is Alaska, she realized when she visited her daughter that she didn't particularly like the hustle and bustle "down south." Alaska has a way of weeding people out. Most who dream of Alaska don't have a proper understanding of the place. Of the new settlers, few make it beyond their first winter. But if you make it through and still love it, you probably won't leave. Grandma and Grandpa were two of the latter.

The first house they built was this tiny, tiiiiiiiiny little place. It's Grandpa's workshop now, but when the boys were still home, Grandpa, Grandma, Roger, Paul and Mike all lived in that shed. The boys slept in the attic. I don't think the whole thing is more than 600 sq ft. How Grandma lived year after year with all those boys is beyond me.

Eventually they built a larger house. The one they have now. Doesn't sound like much to us city-folk until you find out they did the whole thing themselves. Chopped the trees, milled them, the whole shabang. And they were sixty!

When we went to see them the last time, I was still amazed at everything. They have a little stream that feeds their own resevoir that provides them with ice-cold glacial melt for water. They have a huge garden (practically a small farm) that they get most of their vegetables from. Grandpa has those big tractors and wood-working machines.

They lived the homestead life thirty-one miles outside town. And believe me when I say "outside" town. The big town of Haines has a population of 2000 people and when you drive 1/2 mile down the highway you are in Alaskan wilderness. Thirty-one miles under those terms becomes pretty significant.

And Grandma thrived there. Amazing. She had a frontier spirit if ever there was one. Winter after long-cold winter, Grandpa and Grandma were each other's companions.

You would think that in order to survive, Grandma would have turned into a gruff, old woman. But somehow she didn't. She was the sweetest, comfortable-in-all-the-right-places, white-haired woman you ever met. Now that's not to say she was a pushover. If she thought something was ridiculous, she'd let you know. But I never heard her raise her voice to anyone except Grandpa. And that was only because his hearing is so bad.

Grandma Potter and Dug's dad are now living the good life up with the heavenly host, for which I am so happy, but the hardest part when someone dies is the regret of those left behind. I wish that I had asked her more about her life. I wish I had called and written. I wish I was more involved. But I know Grandma would never hold that against me, so I have to let it go as well.

I guess the greatest tribute I could give her would be to turn the above "I wish"'s into action with those who are still here.

I love you, Grandma. You will be missed.

28 November 2007

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

I just finished this book. It was excellent. (except the end, more to come on that)

Young Fu is the 1933 winnner of the Newberry Award. It follows the youth of a farm boy who comes to be a coppersmith apprentice in Chung-king after the death of his father. The book gives an intriguing look into pre-Communist China during the early years of the 1900s. I really enjoyed it, all but the ending. I just finished reading a chapter and turned the page to start the next one, but the only thing on the next page was an appendix of pronunciation. It wasn't that the story hadn't eneded, it was that the writing didn't finish the story. I don't think that's exactly clear. The story was at a perfect place to end, the author just didn't get the actually ending words nailed down. Instead of feeling resolution, you feel abandoned. Like you had to leave in the middle of the conversation.

Oh well. I still liked it. If you want an interesting, yet light read, check out Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze.

Choice Goods Wednesday!

Can you believe it's already Wednesday again?

Today I'm going to share with you an excellent item worthy of notice. This, my friends, is the Intuition razor by Schick.

In case you are not aware of the finer points of this specific razor, please take note. The razor itself looks as though it was carved into a bar of soap. But that's not soap, no siree. That is, according to Schick, "Skin Conditioning Solid." Whatever, I call it shaving cream bar. Essentially every time you swipe the razor over your skin, it lays down a thin layer of the conditioner before and after the blade. This negates the need for a separate can of shaving cream, or conditioner, or bar of soap, or whatever it is that you usually use. Since the blade is surrounded by the "conditioning solid" it doesn't matter if the water is pouring directly onto the spot that you are shaving. In the past I had to make sure my leg was out of the line of fire of the shower nozzle or else it would be rinsed clean of any and all shaving cream. I now find the whole ordeal a lot less stressful and a bunch more comfortable. I can stand directly under the hot water instead of avoiding it. This is a big deal in the winter since anyone who has been shaving for any length of time knows that razors + goosebumps = painful red bumps of yuckiness.

Now one thing I can't say is that you will save money since you're not buying shaving cream anymore. This razor is a bit on the spendy side. The refills are what really matter, and they're not cheap, either. It's like those darn printer manufacturers. They don't make money on the printers. They make the money on the ink cartridges. Stinking ink cartridges. But I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes. The refills. These are just one of those things I'm willing to splurge on. I don't get razor burn as much anymore and I can shave superfast now that I don't have to worry about anything extra. That, to me, is worth the extra moolah.

Oh! And before I forget, the refills come in different varieties such as Cucumber Melon and Sensitive Skin.

So there you have it. I love it. And while I could get by and shave with plain, practical razors, I'd rather not.

My Intuition razor...it's choice!

26 November 2007

I'm 15% done!

I've read 15% of the 86 Newberry Award Winners. That just doesn't sound as impressive when it's typed out.:-(

I just finished Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon. The pigeon's name is actually Chitra-Giva which means "neck painted in gay colours." They just shortened it to "Gay Neck." Considering the times, with the completely different connotation of the word gay, and that nowadays things tend to be very ethnically correct, I wish they had called it "Chitra-Giva: The Story of a Pigeon. Oh well, que sera.

This is the 1928 Newberry Award winner. Since it's based on the life of a 12 year-old boy and his flock of pigeons, you get a lot of insight into life in India. (At least 1928 India.) I had no idea the all-encompassing pasttime of pigeon-rearing in India. It was (don't know if it is still going on) such a normal thing for everyone to raise and train pigeons on their rooftop.

Interesting to note: at the time this book was published, no one had yet scaled Everest. The Indian prayer was that no one would ever conquer it. It was a symbol of divinity that would be best left untainted by man's footprint. It is such a different viewpoint than that of the western world where we are always trying to conquer the next "unconquerable" thing.

This story follows Gay-neck's birth, training, trials and eventual drafting into World War I. While I wouldn't describe it as fascinating, I would say it was an interesting read. Not gripping, but you wouldn't be wasting your time.

Note: The entire thing is saturated with Hinduism ideals and values. Very educational.

Murphy's Cookies Ice Cream Recipe Test *or* How Many Times Can Tricia Screw Up a Recipe and It Still Taste Good?

As I posted earlier, today was the last day for Ice Cream Ireland's Ice Cream Party. In order to test out the recipes for their up and coming book (hooray!), Kieran of Ice Cream Ireland asked for help from the world of bloggers. I answered his call. (Trumpets blaring, I stand with arms akimbo upon a skyscraper, my cape flapping in the wind.)

The first challenge was to pick the flavor. I was going to try the Cardamom Honey, but when it was time to print out the recipe, it had been removed from the testing list. (Kieran updated the list so too many people didn't do the same flavor.) Perhaps if I wasn't the most talented procrastinator in the known universe I could have tried that one. Oh well. If only the sky wasn't blue or the grass green...

I looked over the list and saw the deliciousness that would be my own: Cookies ice cream. (That's Cookies 'n' Cream for us Americans.) Mmmmmmm...yummy.

Second challenge: gather the ingredients. It took me three stores and two separate trips, but I managed to obtain the whopping six ingredients. Interesting to note, this was my very first purchase of a vanilla bean. I have to admit the glass test tube holding the shiny, black beans made the experience all the more special. Seriously, my whole family was impressed by that glass cylinder. I was more impressed with the price. ($11.99 for only two beans! ouch.)

Fast forward to "the making of". Challenge #3 - Follow the directions. Yeeeaaah. Right. Sounds simple enough. But then again, it always sounds simple, because it normally is simple, to everyone else that is. Okay, cut the vanilla bean, check; milk to simmer, i think so, check; beat sugar and egg yolks, check; beat milk in, check; mixture into pan, stir until 60C, check; let custard cool; check. Problem! Tricia apparently can't read instructions. I was supposed to stir the custard until it was thickened. On the recipe it was noted that the temperature would probably be around 60C, not that I was supposed to cook it only until it reached that temperature. Okay, now what do I do?

My choices were as follows: do nothing and hope all goes well or reheat and hope it thickens. It hadn't cooled too much so I popped it back on the burner. As I was stirring I realized that it really was thicker than before and I didn't really know enough about custardy things to know if reheating would even work. Sooooo...I took it back off the burner and hoped for the best.

Next, I was instructed to whip the cream a bit. As far as ice cream recipes go, this was the first time I had seen that. No big deal, just another step that I could somehow mess up, yet amazingly didn't. After folding the custard and partially-whipped cream together, I put it in the fridge to get nice and cold. Note: that's not part of the recipe, that's just something we always do.

The next step was by far the easiest. I put the mixture into the ice cream maker, turning the switch to 'on'. Woohoo! Success! About thirty minutes later there was one last ingredient to add: the cookies. I put four Newman-O's (Think Oreos without the hydrogenated oils.) in a baggie and beat the poor little guys with my rolling pin. Poor them, happy me. I dumped the little chocolatey pieces into the machine, watching them follow the river of ice cream flowing around and around.

There it was, a frozen bucket filled with the perfect mixture of cookies and milk. The heavens opened up, a beam of light flooded the room as it rested upon the evening's creation. Angels sang and a loud voice resonated for all to hear, "This is Cookies Ice Cream, in which I am well pleased." Well, maybe it didn't happen quite like that, but it sure felt like it.

The fourth and final challenge was putting the finished product into the freezer for a couple hours so it could firm up. I failed, my husband failed, my kids failed. Don't give me any of your talk of patience, you would have been a failure, too if you had been there.

We all got a bowl with a scoop of ice cream. It was delicious. Smooth, rich, creamy, and did I mention, delicious? I'd pay money for a scoop of that stuff. (Well, I guess technically I did.)

So what do I have to say about the recipe? (Remember, this was all for testing purposes.)
  1. As far as the recipe goes, it's pretty straightforward. The only tricky part is determining custard thickness. I would put a section in the book dealing with that specific aspect of the process, just for clarity's sake, since most, if not all, recipes use the custard method.
  2. It tastes a little different from a standard tub of store bought cookies 'n cream. But that is mainly due to the fact that we are talking grade A quality home made ice cream. I doubt anybody is adding a vanilla bean to their mass-produced varieties. You can definitely taste it. The recipe mentions that the bean is optional, which I'm sure would lend a more generic flavor to the ice cream (something worth noting). But would omitting that delicious bean be wise? I think not.
  3. The whipping of the cream is an excellent addition to homemade recipes. The final product was smoother and lighter (not in the caloric sense, mind you) than any other recipe we've tried. It lacked that almost butter-like texture that a lot of homemade ice creams have.(You know, that tongue-coating feeling. Blech.)
  4. All in all, excellent and, need I say it again, delicious! Thank you, Kieran for Cookies Ice Cream!

As I am finishing this, I just realized that the deadline of the 25th is technically over in Ireland. Darn it! One more aspect of this entire ordeal I've screwed up on. Oh well. Maybe Kieran will be merciful. I mean, I finished with twenty-one minutes to spare here in Oregon, USA! (That's early, according to the Procrastinator's Handbook!) And that's one more thing going for this recipe. If I can do it, anybody can!

24 November 2007

Tutorial: How to Leave a Comment

Until I had my very own blog, I had no idea the importance of comments to one's feelings of self-worth as a blogger. It is something you can't understand until you've had your own posts with that lonely label, "0 comments." I also know that commenting on a blog can be very intimidating for the uninitiated. Therefore, I have put together this little tutorial, for the good of humanity and all of blogdom. disclaimer: This tutorial is specifically for Blogger, but the major concepts can be applied to almost all blog platforms.

Definitions are in order, I think.
  • Blog: the shortened form of web log, an online journal or diary; this blog is called "the endless pursuit of Life."
  • Post: the individual journal entries of a blog; this post is titled "Tutorial: How to Leave a Comment."
  • Hyperlink: a clickable link in text or graphics that will take you to a different web page; the word or graphic is usually highlighted and when your cursor moves over the link it will change from the usual arrow into a little hand. The words cool comic are hyperlinked. Go ahead, try it out.
Now, for the tutorial...How To Comment, Explained:
  1. Read the post. Fairly self-explanatory, I think.
  2. At the bottom of the post there are the words, "Posted by tricia at 10:50 PM 0 comments." The word "comments" is hyperlinked, so click on it.
  3. In my blog, you have now opened a new page, the comment page. On the left are the comments of previous readers. On the right is the "Leave your comment" window.(Some blogs have a small, separate window that opens up, with the previous comments at the top and the "Leave your comment" window at the bottom.) Go ahead and type a message in it, i.e. "Tricia, your blog is the best blog I've ever read."
  4. When you have finished your comment, choose an identity. This just means that you need to decide how you want to sign your comment. If you have a blogger or google account, choose that option and fill in the appropriate information. You may also choose "Nickname." In that case you can type in whatever name you want. The last option is "Anonymous," choice of cowards.
  5. When all fields have been filled in to your satisfaction, simply click "Publish your comment." Et voila, you have commented! Congratulations.
No more should I get emails with the excuse, "I don't know how to leave a comment!" That excuse has been torn from your arsenal. Now go and fight the war against lonely posts! Fill the web with comments that will bolster the confidence of bloggers everywhere! You've been equipped and it's up to you!

22 November 2007

Food bloggers unite!

I found two online food events that look like fun. Both of them entail preparing a food item and then blogging about it. I'm going to try and do both of them. One is on ice cream and the other, cookies. Ice cream and cookies? Who could resist either of them?

First up, we've got my favorite Irish ice cream blog, Ice Cream Ireland. Kieran, blog author, is currently writing a book on ice cream. In order to help test the recipes, he's hosting an ice cream party.

Here's what Kieran says you have to do:

"Make one (or more) of the following recipes (don’t leave it too late!), write about the experience on your blog (including any suggested changes) by 25th of November, put a link here, email me at kfionnm at icecreamireland dot com with the URL of the post, and I will -

* Post a round-up of all the entries including links to your site
* Include a credit to you in the book
* Send a free copy of the book (when it’s published in April) to the 5 best posts
* I’m trying to negotiate with my brother for some Ice Cream Ireland Official Tester/Taster t-shirts, and if that comes off they might find their way to you as well (no promises yet, I’ll keep you posted)"

Doesn't that sound like fun? Gotta do this one quick, though. The last day is the 25th! Dug and I are going to try the cardamom one and probably one more. You should try a recipe, too. (Yes, that's peer pressure!) Make sure that you let me know if you're doing it. Of course, definitely let Kieran and the folks at Ice Cream Ireland know!

Another site having a food event is Food Blogga. It's called Eat Christmas Cookies. This one isn't a contest. But truly, everyone's a winner when you make and eat Christmas cookies. Am I right or am I right? The blog author, Susan, has detailed instructions on participating at her site. But the gist is this: make some cookies, blog about them, email Susan with your information. Yum, Christmas cookies. I can't believe it's already holiday time.

I hope you join in the food blogging fun! I'll let you know how ours turns out. Let me know about yours!

21 November 2007

Choice Goods Wednesday!

I love Choice Goods Wednesdays. I get to tell you about something I love. Today's a little different than previous weeks. For one thing, it isn't a kitchen item. It's a little home decor accessory. I'd like to introduce you to my carved wooden rounded box with handle and latch. A bit wordy in title, I know, but what else am I supposed to call it? A hundred apologies for the bad picture. It doesn't do it justice.
I love boxes. I just don't know what to do with them. I can't stand something as useful as a box used only as decoration. I want everything to have a purpose. Happily, this box has one.

With TV's, stereos, DVD players and all the other home theatre equipment, many homes are overrun with remote controls. We used to have six, but we have narrowed them down to three in recent months. Still, I think random remotes lying around are an eyesore. Enter the beautiful box. When not in use, it is a perfect storage solution for that pesky, yet indispensible techno clutter.
I love it! Isn't it a great idea? Of course you don't need to get the identical one as me (Ross Dress for Less - $9.00 and I would really prefer you didn't) but get something that screams "you"! Applique a shoe box, grab an opaque large-mouth vase, find a cute drawstring bag and hang it from a hook on the wall, then dump them in. Take a stand against techno clutter! I did and it makes me super happy.

My carved wooden rounded box with handle and latch...it's choice!

What color are you?

I'm a sucker for those silly online quizzes. You know the ones: what superhero are you? what vegetable are you?, etc. Well, the one I took today was pretty good, the Spacefem.com html color quiz. You simply checkmark the attributes that describe you and they "mathematically determine" what hex color code you are, even linking your answers to hue, saturation and lightness. Impressive, no? My results are below. I personally think the color sucks (it's that beige-y color on the chart), but the description is pretty darn accurate. (As accurate as these things can be, anyway.) Try it out and then tell me in comments what color you are!

You are Blanched Almond

Your dominant hues are red and yellow... most of what you do is motivated by your need to change things and have a good time, but you've been known to settle down and think out a situation, too. You tend to surprise people just when they're starting to feel like they've got you down.

Your saturation level is low - You stay out of stressful situations and advise others to do the same. You may not be the go-to person when something really needs done, but you know never to blow things out of proportion.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

18 November 2007

Decision, decisions...

We're finally starting the process of restoring our house to two working bathrooms! We have all the tile and Dug has finalized the plans. This is so exciting.

We gutted our bathroom in May 2006. So for the last 18 months we have had to use our bathroom in the basement. Seven people (3 adults, 4 children) having to use one bathroom. Not only is it a pain in the derriere (pun intended) to go to a different story to use the facilities, but the stairs into the basement are very narrow and very steep. We affectionately call them our "death stairs." The only upside is that our basement toilet is in a different room than the shower, thus affording others a chance to "relieve" themselves while someone is showering. That, I emphasize, is the only upside.

My brother, God bless him, works for a flooring store. They let him "dispose" of the extra pieces from finished jobs. We now have enough tile to finish our kitchen floor, our upstairs bathroom, our downstairs bathroom and the downstairs shower. The catch? Well, they aren't all the same color. But, it's not all bad. Almost all the 12" tiles are neutral tones like those above. I think a smattering of mismatched tiles within the neutral color family will actually go with the house since it was built in the Arts & Crafts style.

So here's what we've decided on: the natural tile for the floor and partway up the wall, white toilet, sink and tub, and something close to the light blue above for the upper walls. What do you think? That's it for now. I'll keep you posted on the progress. This last picture is our bathroom in its current state. It's like looking back in time. Those boards were last gazed upon in 1923. Pretty cool, huh?

17 November 2007

Pandas are people, too.

This was way too funny. I had to share it with you all. I pre-apologize, I know someone will be offended. But I'm willing to take the flak.

15 November 2007

one more Irish blog...

Okay, I found one more blog that I want to share. It's called Irish Taxi. Roy, the Dublin taxi driver, blogs about what's going on in the city, but the best part is his stories. Whenever he gets an interesting fare, he'll get online and post about it. Not only are they funny, but you get little snippets of Irish slang, which I think is totally cool. One post has an audio file of how to speak Dublinese. It's pretty funny. So, if you want to check out something a little different, check out Irish Taxi.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

I finished this today. On the toilet. Seriously, it's one place where I can read in peace. Sometimes I don't even have to go, I just lock myself in there and sit on the toilet lid. Need to change the subject. On to the book...

Good story. Interesting viewpoint of rats and their take on humans. Totally different than the movie, but just as good. The movie is called The Secret of Nimh. The funny thing about movies is that they aren't joking when they say inspired by the book. I think they should just say "We read the book and took some main points out of it and used them for this movie that has a completely different story line." It would definitely be closer to the truth. Because from about halfway through The Secret of Nimh, the only things that stay true to the book are the names of the characters. A good consequence of this is that the story was new and fresh. I really had no idea how it was going to end despite the fact that I've watched the movie at least a dozen times.

The story was pretty gripping and I really wanted to finish it. All in all, it will go into the pile that states, "To Recommend."

I am so happy!

For those of you who don't know, I love Ireland. But can it be true love? You see, I've never been there. *heavy sigh* I've only seen movies, travel shows, and pictures. I've read books about Ireland from tourists, novels by Irish authors, histories by Irish citizens and lots of beautiful coffee table picture books. But honestly, how can you truly profess love of a location you've only seen through the eyes of others? Forgive me this sad confession. I just felt like I needed to be honest with you.

I was looking for interesting blogs to read a few days ago and ran out of ideas to search for. And then it hit me. I haven't actually tried to find an Irish blog. So I typed "Ireland Food" (I was looking at food blogs previously) into Technorati's search engine and up popped about a billion options. Luckily, right in front of my eyes were the words, Ice Cream Ireland. I moved my tiny little arrow over the words and *click*, the page started to load. It was delightful. A little ice cream shop in Dingle, in the southwest of Ireland, has a great blog with postings of recipes, their adventures throughout Europe, goings on in Dingle, and travel tips. If you click on the words above, you get the blog. Click on the store front, and you'll be whisked to the shop's website. The ice cream recipes look delicious. For example, Cinnamon, Manuka Honey and Orange Blossom, and what Irish ice cream shop would be complete without Brown Bread and Guinness? Needless to say, after roaming around that blog I was smiling. After Ice Cream Ireland, I bounced back over to Technorati again and this time tried the more general term "Ireland." I can't remember how many sites I looked at, but one of them, Gingerpixel, had these enchanting photographs. The photographer is from County Wicklow, which is on the east coast, just south of Dublin. This first one is titled "1831." I love it. This is a Eucalyptus and apparently the bark is multi-hewed. Isn't it gorgeous?
I also thought this yellow flower was incredible. The blurred edges give it this amazing, dreamy quality. I'm half expecting a pixie to fly out from under those petals. Anyway, after looking at these I totally want to go to the library and check out a million Ireland books...

The Big News: Since I checked out their blogs (and commented), I got a hit on my blog from Ireland!!! Can you believe it? For over a decade I've been watching Ireland, and today, Ireland watched me! Even if it was only for one second, I don't care. And that, my friends, is why I'm happy. (See how easy I am to please?)

14 November 2007

Choice Goods Wednesday!

It's the second weekly Choice Goods Wednesday! Hurray! Today I have another item (actually items) that I wonder, "What did I ever do without you?"

Pictured at right are Adjustible Measuring Spoons from Pampered Chef. Mine are an older model and don't have the liquid-proof rubber. But even though I can only use mine for dry measures, they are sooo worth every last cent of their $7.25 asking price.

Imagine, if you will, you are making some spaghetti sauce. You know, that one from your great-grandmother Fortunella who immigrated from Sicily. The one with forty-seven herbs and spices. Well, just pick up your adjustable measuring spoons and with a little flick of the thumb, 1/2 tsp oregano. Another flick, 1 tsp basil. Flick again and you've got 3/4 tsp garlic powder. I could go on forever (or at least long enough for the other forty-four ingredients). It's all right there. One spoon goes from 1/8 teaspoon up to 1 teaspoon. The other picks up from the 1 teaspoon and continues up to the big daddy, Ol' Tablespoon himself.

These little guys are a huge time- and space- saver. Not only is every measurement available (including the 3/4 tsp and the ever-elusive 2 1/2 tsp), but it is literally right at your fingertips. No more searching around, finding the spoon and then realizing you grabbed the 1/2 Tb instead of the 1 tsp. Nope, not anymore. Plus you get all the measuring spoons you need only taking up the space of two, albeit bulky, spoons.

Some people have complained that the time needed to clean them negates any time saved by them. Here, I must disagree, and divulge a little secret in the process. Are you ready? I only wash mine when they get dirty. And I mean dirty, not just dusted with a little with cinnamon. But what about contamination?! I'll be honest with you. I have measured chili powder and cumin for chili and then turned around and made a cake with the same measuring spoons. Could anyone notice? Nope. (Although, I might have discouraged any of you from ever wanting to come to dine with us.) So my answer to the "they take too long to clean" people is this: You wash them too much. Throw them into the dishwasher with the dinner dishes after you're done cooking for the day. One thing to mention, I only use mine for dry ingredients. If I used wet ingredients in them, I would wash them more.

Since I'm raving about these, I wanted to inform you that I don't sell Pampered Chef, nor do I know anyone who does. I just happened to have bought these and love them. I also found a couple other spoons on the web here and here, if you're interested. Just keep in mind that I haven't tested the other brands. So their performance might vary.

Adjustable measuring spoons...they're choice!

12 November 2007

Heaven is filled with sushi!

On Saturday I had a baby shower in Hillsboro to attend with our two girls. Daddy and the boys hung out with our friend, Trenton. After we were done, we went back to Trent's house for a few hours before it was dinner time. Trent took us to a little sushi place on Hawthorne in Portland, Mio Sushi. Even though we made reservations for six o'clock, we didn't get seated until almost 6:30. It's a little restaurant and we had seven in our party!
Here's Dodge outside the restaurant. It ended up being a delicious dinner. But then, again, it was sushi, what else did I expect?

Review time! I decided to go out on a limb and order the Salmon Roe. One word: disgusting! I had so hoped to like it. Although I did eat both pieces that came with my order, I didn't enjoy it. I hate not liking food. I grew up on the north Oregon coast near a fish packing plant. If you can imagine the smell that eminated from that place and then concentrate it into a little orange ball, then you would have Salmon Roe! My kids didn't mind eating them one egg at a time, though. Which quiet honestly surprised me.

This was my favorite, Unagi or eel. It is smoked or something and it is delicious. Oh my gosh. I'm closing my eyes and imagining it one more time. I get Unagi every time we go to a sushi place and I'm never disappointed. Sure it's not much to look at, but I find it to be a lot like an ugly friend. At first you don't think they're good-looking, but when you realize how wonderful a person they really are, they become more attractive. Oh, Unagi, how I wish I could have you tonight!

Above, is the Spicy Tuna roll. This was a sad disappointment for me. Aomatsu, our local sushi place, has a delicious Spicy Tuna roll. This one, albeit gorgeous, was of mediocre flavor. I was so sad. Our friend, Trent, warned us, but I was hoping that he didn't like Spicy Tuna in general and I ordered anyway. But no, that proved not to be the case. Trent spoke truth and I should have listened. Oh well. That happens when you live on the adventurous side of food. Sometimes it just isn't very good.

Now we come to the end of our meal. For me, I'm always a little sad when it's over. I just really love food. I was exceptionally sad this night because I forgot to take a picture of the spread before we ate it. It was beautiful. In the foreground, you can see the tray we have filled with plates, chopsticks and paper. That entire tray was filled with delicious, little sushis. I was too hungry and excited and so I dove right in. I'm sorry. Just know that the sushi chefs created a little bit of heaven for us that night. And I ate it all up.

08 November 2007

Okay, it's a little bit of a brag. But I'm proud, okay?!

I had to make a snack for our home school co-op this week. We were studying brains. So I found a recipe for brain cupcakes. Theirs had pinkish brains but I wanted gray. As in "gray matter." Right? So here it is. I think they turned out uber-cute. I'm pretty partial to any sort of decorated cupcake anyway. Cupcakes have to be cute, 'cause they're miniature cakes. And anything mini is cute, right? Click on the picture, it looks better when it's bigger.

06 November 2007

Choice Goods

I've decided Wednesdays are for posting things that I have found that I love. Things that make my life easier, happier, funner, whatever. (Yes, I know 'funner' isn't a word, but I'm working hard to make it so.)

Today my first "Choice Good" is Mrs. Meyers Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner. I love it. They use naturally derived ingredients as much as possible and their products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free. But my favorite part is that it is aromatherapeutic. Sure, I want my cleaner to work good (and this does) but how much better is life when it smells rockin'?!

There are three fragrance choices for the All Purpose Cleaner: Lavender, Lemon Verbena and Geranium. They also have seasonals. Since it's starting into the holidays, Gingerbread is available! Delicious! (disclaimer: Mrs. Meyer's products are not intended for consumption.)

I currently have lemon verbena. You know how lemon is associated with clean? Well, this has a lemony aroma that rises to the next level. I spray it and mmmmmm...life is good. My favorite of all time is the spring seasonal Sweet Pea.

A little bit of advice: The fragrances are a bit strong, so don't wash your dining table with this stuff just prior to eating. Unless you want your mashed potatoes to taste like you added geraniums to the bowl.

Mrs. Meyers Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner. Don't have it? Get some!

p.s. Here's a shout out to my home slice Mej for turning me onto this stuff in the first place. Peace!

Breakfast as art?

I don't remember how I found this site, but I did. I love it. Jon Huck is a photographer and this is his breakfast project. I love the premise and think the pictures are beautiful. Charles' breakfast (at right) is one of my favorites. (To clarify: the breakfast is my favorite, Charles just happens to be attached to it.) The series is a pretty fascinating look at people. By looking at what they ate (or at least guessing what it is) you can get a tiny little glimpse of who they are. Some even evoke emotions. There's one with a teenager who has only a handful of Froot Loops in her bowl. That got to me a little. The whole thing is compelling in the way that you have to see the next one. My brother and I looked through all of them and commented on each: the people and the breakfast choices. Pretty fun, actually. Who knew breakfast could be so interesting?

05 November 2007

The Face of Christianity

I'm sure you have read about Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist church. If you haven’t, they picket soldiers' funerals and the funerals of AIDS victims in order to spread their message that America is being judged by God for its embracement of homosexuality. The father of one of the soldiers recently won a court settlement of $11 million against Phelps and his church for damages.
This is already verging on old news, but I had to bring it up. I can handle a lot of what the news throws at me, but every once in a while something really hits me. This happens to be one of those things. It shocks, saddens, disgusts...there's a whole slew of reactions to this.

Just for the sake of argument, let's assume that everything Phelps says is true. All bad things that have happened recently, including 9/11 and the Iraq war, are in direct response to the acceptance of homosexuality into mainstream America. (I do not hold this as true, just for the record.) Is this (the picketing of funerals) the best way to make change? Do people respond, in any positive way, to broad, sweeping remarks of judgement, let alone at the service of someone they love, who has died? If one person does respond, is that a good trade-off for the thousands who are hardened even more against the message? And there is also the issue that America is a land who roots for the underdog. Homosexuals are considered a minority which ensures their qualification as "underdog." Blasting them with such hate-filled signs will naturally bring those to the fight who wouldn't have come otherwise. And dead soldiers? I don't even have to comment on that because everyone (well, except these people for some reason) recognizes the 58 levels of wrongness associated with that. Why haven't they thought of this? How can they think that what they are doing is the best course of action for rallying people to their cause?

This has been on my mind ever since I read about the court case in the newspaper. Either coincidentally or because of the same news subject, our pastor spoke about judging others yesterday. It was an excellent sermon.
One thing he said that particularly struck me was this: “The Bride of Christ (meaning the church and including all believers) should be beautiful, shining. The world should see her and recognize her for who she is.“ Does it? Does the world see her and recognize her as something worthy and magnificent? Specifically, with Phelps and his group of followers, the answer is a resounding, “No!” Luckily, he and his followers have plunged so far to the edge of the spectrum, it is a little easier for the population in general to see them as fringe and not encapsulating the philosophy of the church as a whole. But we are associated by the very fact that we both get our beliefs from the very same book. This will cause others to question the validity of our claims of a loving God.

I guess my main issue here is the extreme sadness I feel that these people are sullying the character of our loving, caring Father. Jesus, himself, ate with sinners and those who society had deemed outcast. He never confronted their behavior with pointed fingers and words of hate. He loved on them. God loves everyone. We are his children. If I, a very human, fallible mother, can be sad and disappointed in my children when they make poor decisions but still love them, how much more can a perfect, relational God be saddened by our folly and yet love us unconditionally and without fail?

The Westboro church believes that homosexuality should be outlawed and death should be its price. This is based on Mosaic law in Leviticus. I’m not going to comment on what I think of that doctrine except to point out this one thing. What did Jesus do in John 8 when the Pharisees brought an adulteress before him, stating that Mosaic law demanded stoning? He said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” When they had all left, Jesus said to the woman, “…neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” He didn’t condemn her. He showed her grace and mercy. I don’t have all the answers. I just take my cues from how Jesus walked and talked.

I just wish Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist church did the same.

04 November 2007

My journey to "long hair" is always short lived...

Mej cut my hair on Saturday. It hadn't been cut for a long time and it had grown out a bit atrociously. My brother told me I now look like a boy. Don't worry. That's his way of saying he loves me. Dug told me that technically my hair is shorter than the majority of boys as of late. I decided to go for the sophisticated look and straightened it. So here's a little pic of the result. Please note, for full effect I wore my boatneck sweater, barely smiled and stood in front of my favorite curtain. All I need is a glass of red wine and my pearl earrings and I could be the conductor to Sophistication Station.