7.31.2009

a thousand words (or three)

Matching!
Why one should not use one's ancient barbecue on one's dry lawn:
Pigtails!


7.28.2009

Fabulous Reads

While I occasionally post book reviews here, I worry about boring people.

Besides that, I don't like to know too much about a book before I read it; I prefer to be surprised. However, I do like reading good books and love getting recommendations from those readers I trust.

One blog I follow is called Fabulous Reads. Both the contributors, Stephanie and Karen, are women I know and love and who's judgment I trust. I have recently submitted several book reviews which will be posted in the next little while. (I must admit that I feel special to be guest-posting on another blog.)

So, if you're looking for book recommendations from me and a couple of others, feel free to check them out here.

7.27.2009

AssUMe

We all know what happens when we assume.

So why do we do it?

I have found my self increasingly using the phrase "I assume" to begin sentences, particularly to my husband, when it would be just as easy to rephrase the statement and ask a question.

Instead of:
"I assume you don't mind..."
"I assume it's okay with you if..."
"I assume you're going to..."
"I assume you did..." or
"I assume you want..."

I should be saying:
"Do you mind...?"
"Is it okay if...?"
"Are you planning to...?"
"Did you...?" and
"Do you want...?"

It takes the same amount of time, but avoids all assumptions and allows the other person to express an opinion other than the one I've already decided for them. While these are frequently trivial matters, when I start by saying "I assume" I leave less room for other opinions without making the other person feel bad or appear disagreeable.

Besides, it's very narcissistic of me to assume that I know what the other person thinks or feels about any given topic.

Feel free to punch me if I start doing it to you.

7.25.2009

Culinary Disappointment; or The best $100 I ever spent

About three years ago next month, Tom had the opportunity to be a groomsman in the wedding of a good friend. The tux rental came to about $100, which we were happy to spend, though we could have thought of many other places to spend it. After the rehearsal dinner, the wedding party and families were treated to dinner at Vince's by the groom's mother.

Vince's was an Italian place, and we were proffered pizza, pasta, salad, bread sticks: the works. There was one dish, however, that excelled all other dishes. It was a pasta dish with creamy pesto and chicken.

And it was divine.

Maybe it was because I was pregnant {with Rico}, or maybe I was just really hungry, but it was probably the best food {dessert excluded} I had ever had. Whatever the reason, I was blown away. That alone made the tux rental worth every penny.

When I got home, I knew I needed to attempt to recreate it, but I had no idea where to start. I found a recipe for pesto in one of my cookbooks and made a batch.

I was sorely disappointed.

It was okay, but nothing like the dish I remembered. I tossed the rest of it into the freezer and moped.

A couple of months later I was cleaning out the freezer and was ready to chuck the rest of the pesto, when Tom recommended that I try adding it to a white sauce.

Hello, genius plan!

I made a basic white sauce, plopped in a couple cubes of frozen pesto, added some garlic powder, a little more parmesan cheese, and voila! perfection.

Now you too can enjoy the world's tastiest pasta dish, and you don't even have to spend $100.

First, I start by making basic pesto. You can find the recipe on the package of basil, or use this one:

2 c firmly packed basil leaves
3/4 c parmesan cheese (grated, not powder)
1/4 c pine nuts (I use walnuts, because it's what I have on hand, though I've also used pecans)
1/2 c olive oil
3 cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients in blender. This makes about 1 1/4 cups, which I freeze in ice cube trays.

I think I've used a different recipe each time I make it, but they are all similar. Like I said, there is usually a recipe on the package of basil. You can use it as is (with pasta or something,) but I like it better in a creamy sauce.

Then, when I want to use it, I make a basic white sauce:

2 Tbsp butter (or marg.)
2 Tbsp flour (or more, if you like a thicker sauce)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 c milk

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the flour, salt and pepper and mix and stir till bubbly, then add milk, mixing till smooth, and cooking over medium. I then add one of the pesto cubes (I usually double this sauce recipe and use two), some parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not powder) and garlic powder to taste. Cook until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

I usually mix the sauce with cooked sliced chicken and pasta and serve immediately, but I've also made it in advance, topped it with mozzarella cheese and baked it to warm it up. I like it better served immediately because it's more saucy. The sauce also tastes great on rice.

7.15.2009

How did it go?

HOW did it GO?!?!

It went like this:

I woke up Saturday morning and donned my running clothes. It was nice to be able to sleep in a little more before running, but that also meant it was much warmer than I'm used to. The air is generally quite nippy at 5:30 am, but had warmed up quite a bit by 8:30. We got the kids fed and ready, and headed down to the Three Friends Fishing Hole. {I'm not really sure what that is, but that's where the run was.}

After passing 500 million bikers (which we later found out was the STP) Tom dropped me off and went to find parking. I met up with Laura and Sandra (a couple friends who were also running) and chatted nervously until it was time to run. Tom and the kids rejoined us once they were parked, and took a lovely before picture:
Then it was time to go. The crowd at the starting line made it hard to get going. I was near the back of the line up, so it took a minute or two before the crowd thinned enough that I could really get moving. {Not that I move very fast, but I was jogging as opposed to walking.}

The race was a down and back on the Green River trail. That mean it was nice and flat, and even fairly shaded. There were a couple of bikers, walkers, and joggers that were surprised to see their morning exercise interrupted by such a large crowd, but they were friendly and shared the road quite nicely.

I was definitely nowhere near the front, and one guy actually finished twice before I did (I think he ran the second time as a cool down), but I was pleased with my time of 35:05, considering I probably lost a full minute on the start, and my halfway time was around 18:20.
After cooling down (and dripping ice water on my shirt--that's not ALL sweat, though there was plenty of that, too) Tom took a beautiful after shot, and we headed back downtown to wander around Cornucopia Days while I looked so glamorous.
While it may not have been the most wonderful morning of my memory, I'm glad I did it, and I look forward to doing it again.

{10 bonus points for anyone who can name the movie the opening lines are from.}

7.09.2009

Graffiti

Last night for Young Women's, we went tagging. We grabbed our spray paint and gloves and went to work on the fences of Kent.Oh wait.

We were cleaning up graffiti, not making it.

We volunteered through the city of Kent to clean up some graffiti around town. They provided "graffiti wipes" and spray paint, and we provided man-power.

Or woman-power as the case may be.

We started at the post office with some stop signs, but we only got one clean--the other two will need replacing. Then we had two sections of fence that needed painting over.
While I can't speak for everyone, I had a great time.

If you or anyone you know need a good service project in the area, I can put you in contact with the right people.

7.06.2009

No, probably not

I just registered for my very first official 5K this Saturday. All those of you who wish to cheer me on are more than welcome. As I checked my official registration details, I was a little taken aback.

And here's the copy/paste from the email I got:
Congratulations! You are now registered for Kent Cornucopia Days Fun Run/Walk. Please check the event's official website for updates: http://www.kentarts.com
See you on July 11th!

Registration Details
Confirmation #:
41457227-070609145117
Date & Time:
07/11/09
Location:
Three Friends Fishing Hole (Map)
Purchased at:
07/06/09
Category:
Run without shirt
Name:
Janelle {last name}


Um, so now I apparently have to run shirtless...That would be embarrassing for more than just me, I assure you.

Then I remembered that I could buy a shirt with my registration and I felt much better about the whole thing.

Because it really wouldn't have been pretty.

Depression

Many people in the Pacific Northwest suffer from a weather-related depression known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Basically, they get depressed all winter when we never see the sun, it seems to be constantly raining, and the skies are cloaked in perpetual gray.

I think I have it
.

In reverse.

I love the clouds, I love the rain, and after too much sun, I get grumpy and irritable.

After more than a month of sun and highs in the upper seventies, eighties, and even nineties, I am ecstatic about the clouds and high of 62 today.

Ridiculously excited.

7.02.2009

I'm not alone

I would like to point out that I'm not the only one in this family who devours books.

7.01.2009

Sweet!

Or not so much.

When Kristy went without dessert for a month, I thought she was a little bit crazy.

But I also had the strange desire to join her. But not enough to make the jump.

However, as I was laying in bed Sunday night, not sleeping (as usual), I decided it was time. July will be dessertless. Why? I'm not sure. But it may have had something to do with the fact that on Sunday, I grabbed a cookie for breakfast as I was running out the door to church, had cookies between meetings after church, and more cookies after dinner. (Yes, after, not for dinner.) I was feeling a little cookied out.

And of course, I would choose a month with 31 days, but so be it.

This dessert-fast, or detox as Kristy so aptly named it, will prohibit all desserts of a sugary nature, but not necessarily all things sweet. A little brown sugar on my oatmeal is still allowed. As is jam on my peanut butter sandwiches. However, peanut butter-marshmellow sandwiches with milk chocolate chips are forbidden. As is toast smothered in Nutella. And candy, in all it's varieties.

As you may guess, I'll need a little support. I've already enlisted my wonderful husband, who all but promised not to make any tempting treats. While I'm not asking you to join me, or even to not eat treats in my presence, I am requesting that you not offer me desserts, or buy me chocolates, or anything of that nature. At least until August 1st.

And wish me luck.