May 31, 2005


Monday we celebrated Memorial Day by replacing the screen in the door to the deck. Idgie had clawed out a huge section in her boycott of the cat door. After the old screen was removed, we cut out a chunk of new, 7 times stronger pet screen and taped it to the door. Using a special roller tool, I reinserted the rubber spline all the way around the door. J trimmed off the excess screen and then reinserted the pet door and planed the bottom to get a better fit to the doorframe. I'd like to Ask This Old House to kiss my old ass. Thank you.

Tape down screen to the door. Posted by Hello

Insert the spline all the way around then trim off excess screen. Posted by Hello

After you have replaced the cat door, plane the door so it closes properly. Posted by Hello


Never let a hot grill go to waste. We always find things to roast after our dinner has been cooked. While the grill was still hot on Sunday, we roasted a head of garlic, a whole eggplant, and a jalapeno pepper. Yesterday I seeded and de-veined the pepper, squeezed out the garlic, and scooped out the eggplant guts. Tossed it all in the food processor with a drizzle of sesame oil and a healthy dose of ground black pepper and coarse salt. DELICIOUS!!!!

Roasted eggplant, jalapeno, and garlic.  Posted by Hello

May 30, 2005


Sunday was more relaxed even though we accomplished an extraordinary amount of yard and house work. Laundry, cleaning, weed whacking, deck cleaning, thorough kitchen scrubbing, etc. Sally joined us for dinner and we pulled out one of our all-time favorite recipes, garlic halibut. After a tour of the garden, we all took a walk to Madison Market to pick up a couple of things but mostly to go for a walk. Once back at home we enjoyed some wine, some goofy stories, and a delicious dinner. Accompanying the fish were grilled zucchini, eggplant, leeks, and onions and roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary. Sally brought a tast riesling. J cooked up the halibut on the grill after marinating for about an hour in the following marinade:

  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp peeled, grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 tbsps sugar
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce (plus a little for brushing)
  • 3 tbsps sake, Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
  • 3 tbsps sesame oil (plus a little extra for brushing)
  • coarse salt
  • ground black pepper

Pound the garlic, ginger, cilantro, and sugar into a paste in a mortar using a pestle. Work in fish sauce, sake, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. We didn't have sake so we replaced it with 1/2 rice vinegar and 1/2 mirin. Spoon the marinade over the fish, covering both sides, and marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, turning once or twice. You can broil the fish or grill it. Either way, cook until it cleanly flakes. This marinade can also be used for shrimp. We had a great time.

May 28, 2005


J and I volunteered our Saturday morning to the Crossroads-Bellevue Street Scramble, another event put on by the Cascade Orienteering Club. This event was headquartered at Crossroads Mall in Bellevue. J and I were asked to volunteer in exchange for a free entry into this scramble, any remaining 2005 scramble, or any 2006 scramble. We arrived at Crossroads Mall early and helped set up the snacks and hang signs. We were also asked to help register the participants. Our "training" on the matter almost drove me to drink at 8:30 in the morning. You know, The Cascade Orienteering Club is frequented by alot of A-type personalities. They all have sports watches that they set and reset and make beep alot. Many are runners or cyclists or some combination of multi-tasking busy folks. They like maps, like to use compasses and probably are good at math. They like rules and order. And they all have to be right and get in on the act. Now, as a team, J and I might fall into some of these categories some of the time. But we can't hold a candle to the Cascade Orienteering Club en masse.

It didn't take long for us to realize that we were not two of five registration coordinators but two of two registration coordinators. Slowly, the place began to fill up with people, all wanting to register for the scramble. Singles, teams, families, dogs, etc. You'd think for a bunch of A-types most of them would have arrived earlier. Patience thinned as the start time grew nearer but J and I were doing our best. We decided half way through the registration that we wouldnt' be volunteering in the future.

Long before the mayhem of registration, we had decided to not officially participate in this scramble. Instead, we took a scramble map and hit the sidewalks at our own pace and discovered the
Lake Hills Greenbelt, a wetland coorridor right in the middle of the burbs. We followed the trails to Larsen Lake and then on to Phantom Lake and then back again. We covered close to five miles and that was enough. It was really hot. Back at the mall we shared a combo platter of kabobs, hummus, and a greek salad. Back at home we crashed and had a nap.

Lilly pads at Phantom Lake Posted by Hello

May 27, 2005


I know you are all dying for an update on the garden. After too much rain, I got back into the dirt and repaired, harvested, hilled, planted, sowed, pulled, whacked, dug, bent, strained, bled, sweat, etc. to get things in shape and growing again. The slugs are being kept at bay by the heat. For now. And I think some fish fertilizer is needed in the straw bale bed. now I wait.

The side of the house looks a little bare but there is lots growing or about to grow.  Posted by Hello

Fat, lazy cat. Posted by Hello

Spinach, sage, borage, chives, bronze fennel, rosemary and lavendar. Posted by Hello

Beans that are actually going strong and a big container of peas. Posted by Hello

The straw bale bed now houses various squash, peppers, egpplant and cucumbers. It's also kind of a work table for me. The yellow bed has onions, garlic, shallots, radishes, beets, bok choi, carrots, parsnips. All of the tomato plants are in the long green bed behind the row of garlic.Posted by Hello

Strawberries in the back. Bok choi, brussel sprouts, lettuce, onions in the read bed. There are peas trying to climb that trellis but they are small. Posted by Hello

Nasturtiums, thyme, and plant starts in the tray. Posted by Hello

Potatoes in Rubbermaid bins. Peas trying to climb on the right. Garlic in the foreground and in front of the peas. Posted by Hello

May 25, 2005


Saturday morning we headed out bright and early for
Millersylvania Sate Park, about 10 miles south of Olympia. When we left Seattle we were under partly sunny skies. The further south we drove the cloudier and darker it got. As soon as we secured a camp site we set up everything. When you are camping, even car camping, you need to make the most of every opportunity as it arises. Set up everything at one time if at all possible. This is your home for at least one night and it's better to make sure everything is in place before you take off to explore. With the weather threatening to rain, this becomes even more important. Once the tent was up and the canopy covering the picnic table, we scavenged quite a bit of wood from empty sites to supplement what we had brought. Few people were around. When the weather is not optimal it makes for quieter camping simply because fewer people bother. Lucky for us.

Our first stop was to the
Mima Mounds, a mysterious assortment of geological earth mounds. They are not man-made and there are a few theories as to their existence. Some say they are the remains of glaciers. Some say prehistoric gopher-like critters constructed them. The mounds used to cover about 20 miles. And this phenomena is not unique to Washington or even this part of Washington. Regardless, the area is home to lots of wildflowers and butterflies. Perhaps it was a little early in the season for a full display of either, but as we walked the trails we found interesting plants, flowers and fungi.

Two things that interfere with a peaceful hike looking for wildflowers and butterflies; remote controlled airplanes and gunfire. I don't like being the tallest thing in an open field with the sound of gunfire cracking a half mile away. But I also don't like the less dangerous but equally annoying buzz of the remote controlled airplane. We hadn't seen a sign for the shooting range so when we first heard the shooting we stayed in the car, ate lunch, and waited for other hikers to return to their cars unharmed. We then determined that it was safe to roam. We had seen the sign for the airplane gathering but didn't know we'd be anywhere near it. I had a not so secret fantasy that the two hobbies would cross paths and cancel out each other; the gun-happy weekend warriors would run out of ammo destroying the incessantly buzzing mini squadron.

Our next stop was the Bob Bammert Grove Trail in Capitol State Forest. This trail was kind of overgrown. With all the rain we had, this left plants very wet. This left us very wet as we hiked through the plants. This trail was similar to the rainforest in appearance. Be careful to avoid the banana slugs. If you lead, you are obliged to alert those following you when there is a slug on the trail. We aren't into killing the critters. Besides, they are huge and they really gush. We ran into some snails we had not seen before. And we were exicted to discover two
rough-skinned newts (taricha granulosa). Like the earth in this area, the newts are a dark red in color and theyhave a brigther orange belly. They were not alarmed by us and made no attempt to escape. They were easy to pick up and observe. Our first newts on a trail. Just as exciting as our first bear but it can fit in the palm of your hand. About 2/3 through this trail it began to rain but the thick canopy kept us relatively dry. It rained for the rest of the day and all night. But we returned to a dry picnic table thanks to our woman-made canopy. We enjoyed a bottle of wine, some chevre, crackers and fruit and played rummy. When the rain eased to a light drizzle, we got a fire started and cooked dinner on the camp stove. By the time we went to bed it was pouring again. But we woke on Sunday morning to sun. Took a walk to the lake and hoped the weather would hold for our tentaive plans to rent a canoe and float down the Black River. These hopes were dashed while out on a hunt for coffee. The skies turned dark and the rain returned. But we had a good time and will camp again in the rain any time.

We discover newt #1

We discover newt #1
Originally uploaded by sissalice.

Shy snail

Watch your step

On the Bob Bammert Trail

Julie takes newt #2 for a walk

Julie takes newt #2 for a walk
Originally uploaded by sissalice.

You gotta problem?

You gotta problem?
Originally uploaded by sissalice.

Sunday morning sunrise

Sunday morning sunrise
Originally uploaded by sissalice.
Sunday we woke to sun. We took a walk to the lake at the campground. Hoped we could go for a canoe ride. But within two hours it was dark and raining.


i've been busy. work is actually steady right now. i do have pictures and stories to share from last weekend's overnight camping trip. and i'm really looking forward to the three day weekend.

yesterday was the first chance in over a week to work in the garden and i took full advantage of it. the weather was perfect and i was quickly covered in dirt, cuts, a few bruises, and probably a little slug guts. sowed more arugula, parsnips, spinach, and some nutri-red carrots. harvested and ate a fair amount of bok choi. very tasty. discovered the first ripening strawberry of the season but i fully expect to lose it to the slugs. planted some sunflowers that i had started indoors. J assisted in securing the peas we have in a large container. they are growing every which way. she slid into McGyver mode to fasion a plant "girdle" out of an empty soda bottle and some zip ties to keep some other plant in order. i noticed that my echinacea (purple cone flower) is thriving though hasn't yet bloomed. the holly hocks are well on their way, the hosta has a couple flowers coming, and the lillies i bought 2 years ago from the grocery store have come back for the second year in a row. thought the lemon balm was dead after it wintered outside. a severe pruning a couple of months ago has resulted in an abundance of new growth. The coleus is brilliant and the columbine healthy.

today after work i must purchase more dirt so i can bury the potato plants. they are out of control and i've got no extra dirt in the yard. if i want potatoes i need more dirt. the peppers and eggplants will begin their life in the straw bale garden today. more seeds will be sown outside for beets, carrots, bunching onions and more seeds have been started indoors for basil and sunflowers.

one of the rhododedrons died so we are considering a birdbath for the empty space. any ideas for an inexpensive yet attractive birdbath? drop me an email.

May 17, 2005


Saturday we made our first official visit to Everett to celebrate Stephanie Germani's birthday. Stephanie and her husband Mark were gracious hosts in their new home. Stephanie prepared enough food for an Osmond family reunion but she continually fretted that there was not enough and worried that people would perish from starvation. Ultimately, this is because she is Italian and not the result of any hostess anxiety disorder. There was chocolate, pretzels, little pastry cups filled with various tasty combinations, veggie chips, two kinds of homemade chocolate chip cookies, shrimp cocktail, baby carrots, candied nuts, Asian pears and Stilton on little toast squares, baked ziti and meatballs, chicken fingers, salad, and two homemade cakes - one with layers of pudding and strawberries and one chocolate with Heath Bar crumble topping. Now that I think of it, we could have used a few more items - you know, just for some variety. Next time, Steph.

After the other guests had gone J and I got to dig into the personal photo albums. I love looking at pictures of folks I don't know. Plus, you never know when you will be treated to a blatant cleavage shot or a sitting on the toilet shot. It's the chance you take, you know? Then there was the ping pong competition. Ping pong is more fun than I remember it as a child. I think this is because now I can freely curse and say any rude thing I please. But there is still a good deal of rule bending. For instance, why limit yourself to the ping pong table as the game surface, right Steph? When there are four walls and a ceiling, who needs the table? Table? We dun need no stinkin' table! If you play with Steph, it's best to don protective gear like a helmet, goggles, a breast plate and a cup.

I like to wear table decorations. Posted by Hello

Joanna hides under a pig hat. Posted by Hello

Becca decorates cake #1. Posted by Hello

Cake #2 Posted by Hello

Stephanie and Mark Posted by Hello


We wound down the weekend with a trip to the grand opening of the Broadyway Farmers Market on Capitol Hill. It was pretty low key, it's not terribly big and the weather was uncooperative so we didn't stay long. We spotted and avoided Peggy's Bakery Organica. Peggy is a little intense about her bread. Granted, it was pretty tasty, but I'm not sure it will cure cancer - one of many claims she made during her manic spiel to us a couple of weeks ago at the West Seattle Farmers Market. She worked on the crust for three years, she's the only bakery not subsidized by the government because she does not use wheat, which, by the way, has taken 120 years off our lives. This bread she makes is the bread that our ancestors made 10,000 years ago, it's traveling bread, it will last on your counter-top for 10 days - how about a loaf? Whoa, slow down I just got to the market. It would be one thing if she barked these claims with a little wink and a smile but she doesn't smile. She is convinced of everything she says. It's good to be passionate about your work but she was a little frightening. To be fair, she is doing great bakery work and she is comitted to bringing the freshest, best product to the markets. She believes in whole foods, organic foods, old fashioned methods. Her bread is delicious. But she was a bit much. Next time, I think I will walk right up to her and just hand her the $$, get the bread and get out of there.

May 16, 2005


Sunday evening we spent relaxing and enjoying dinner at Sally's house. Sally made southwest shrimp and we brought a homemade strawberry kissel which we spooned over vanilla soy ice cream. Kissel is a sweetened fruit puree thickened with either cornstarch or potato flour, which gives it a soft-custard texture. It can be served hot or cold, usually topped with cream or a custard sauce. Instead of cornstarch we used kudzu root (also called kuzu root among other things) and used our kissel as the topping. Fresh strawberriesand raspberries and a few frozen blueberries, a little cranberry juice,only 1/4 cup of sugar. Easy and very delicious.

May 11, 2005


So I'm growing catnip. Last year, the only time the cats expressed interest in the catnip plant was when they saw me pick leaves because they knew they would get a treat. Then again, they thought they would get a treat any time I picked leaves off any plant. They would come running to sniff basil, mint, arugula, etc. But this year the cats are actually attracted to the plants. They began attacking the plants over the winter when I was growing it indoors. Once I set the pot outside things went back to normal for a while. A couple of weeks ago I went outside and discovered that the catnip had been munched, stomped, and rubbed out. It looked as if it had fallen under a moving tractor. I blamed Henry. J suggested that I consider the dozen other cats that roam the hood and frequent our alley. Ok, fine. She's right. Any damn animal could have done it. She cleaned up the pot and replanted the surviving plants. We set the pot on top of the straw bale garden for the time being. Mistake.

Yesterday I happened to peek outside to take in the view of the garden and I spot Henry in a drug-induced frenzy - munching, stomping, rubbing, rolling, bathing in the bowl of catnip. He was manic, high off his nut on fresh catnip. At one point he rolled right off the straw bale garden onto the ground. All I could see were his white socks sticking up in the air. He loves to roll on the ground anyway so he hung out for a while on the cool grass catching some rays. He recovered and went back to massaging his face with catnip plants. He was so in the zone that my yelling didn't faze him. He couldn't hear me or see me and didn't care. "Ah hah! You are so busted, cat!" After I got my digital evidence I went to retrieve the bowl. He was again on the ground, belly up, eyes glazed over in euphoria, "Hey, ma. Whoa, you gotta try this shit. It's primo, man. Smooth."

"Where the hell do you think you are?" I yelled as I swiped the bowl. "Pierce County!?"

Guilty Posted by Hello

Guilty Posted by Hello

Guilty Posted by Hello

Guilty Posted by Hello