November 27, 2005

So today marks the fifth anniversary of our first date. This is the actual date of the day. The day of observation would be the Monday after Thanksgiving. Either way it's five years. It has gone by quickly. So much has happened. So much yet to happen. Let's not get too far ahead. Enjoy each day as it comes.

Again with the walking! A bit colder today but still dry when we arrived in West Seattle. We did our usual 1.25 mile walk to the Farmer's Market and met Sally at Coffe To A Tea With Sugar. Weird name for a place. The baked goods look fabulous. All made right there. Haven't tried them yet. The coffee can be iffy but that is more the fault of the ditsy barista we have encountered on our last two visits. Overall we like the place and the space. The market didn't have too much going on but will remain open into the winter this year as part of an experiement to gauge the demand for winter markets. We'll conitinue to go for winter veggies when we can.

Our plan was to cook a big piece of salmon for dinner and have a nice bottle of wine. After we got home we did some house work, I knitted, wrapped a few more gifts. Sure, there was wine, but after J made this very yummy turkey noodle soup we were very stuffed. She brought home both turkey corpses from Wrin and Bruce's house. All day Saturday she had two big pots going creating stock. Today she completed the soup. Yummy!

Then later in the day she made this recipe I posted a while ago for Pumpkin Oatmeal Bread, healthier alternative to holiday breads. The ingredients speak for themselves. You can go even further and replace the oil with unsweetended applesauce and the sugar with brown rice syrup or more chopped fruit. I don't like these types of baked goods terribly sweet. I really enjoy this bread as J made it. She thought it could have been sweeter but I love that I can taste the ingredients and not just sugar. Granted, it could use more spicing. But there is far too much sugar in things these days. So I like this break from oversweetend bakery. We used chopped dates because we had them on hand. No nuts. About a tablespoon of currants because, again, they were there. And we baked it ten minutes longer than suggested and I still think it could have gone another five. We will definitely make this again utilizing the above-mentioned substitutions. I will let you know. But we ate some of that too.

By the time dinner should have happened, we weren't hungry. But J had already prepared the salmon with the spice rub. So we had to cook it. J accomplishes this by cooking it on the grill on a wooden board. Basically, you are smoking the fish. It's amazingly delicious but we only had a few nibbles and never bothered to prepare the rest of the meal. We played a whole game of Hand & Foot (a card game - nothing kinky!) and had some wine. It was a quiet, relaxing, uneventful anniversary. Just what I wanted.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bread!!

November 26, 2005


The second day of walkable weather. Cold but dry. We hit the road for coffee and visited Insomniax. We haven't been here is a long time. Well, not much of a website but pretty good coffee. They even made a write-up in SeattleWeekly. It's run by two brothers, Michael and Vito (no kidding) and a sister from Poland. We had a leisurely time there reading all the papers and even played some cards. Of course we hit the Madison Market for what I can't even remember. We just like going in there and coming home with something tasty or new or weird.

We then walked home, got in the car and hit a particular store which will remain nameless because I purchased a Christmad present. Our Christmas shopping is 95% finished and wrapped. We're amazing.

November 25, 2005


The next day J had to work but I was spared the trauama of employment. Sally and I went to a chic yarn store in Madison Park. Though French, the woman who assisted us with the yarn managed to muster enough personality to demonstrate a cast on method that was new to Sally. Sally later demonstrated this for me when she taught me the basics of knitting. More on that later. We next went to Big John's Pacific Food Importers. I wanted to link to it here as I have done in the past but the website is undergoing some changes. I was hoping there would be lots of holiday goodies displayed. Some were available but I was disappointed. I guess I will have to check back. I did pick up a few items but I will probably go back before Christmas.

Now, let's talk knitting. I've been wanting to learn for a long time. The book I have is a very good tool but doesn't take the place of someone actually sitting down with you and showing you the moves. I took my knitting gear that I received as a birthday present from Iva and got to work with Sally as my guide. After many false starts, I finally learned how to cast on (the double loop method), knit and purl. And this is what I did the rest of the day and all that evening. Cast on, knit, purl. Screw it all up. Start again. Purling proved confusing. Reading the description made it worse. I found a cool site on which I could watch little
video clip of the purl stitch. It was a little distrcting that the "actress" sported long nails done in a French (the French again!) manicure, but it was better than reading directions. But if you have to read directions, this site proved helpful too. For more video help, I've recently discovered, but have not had time to watch much of, Knitting Help. They have lengthy video clips of the English/American methods and the Continental methods. Not sure yet if the iMac at home can support the clips. But a PC should be able to just fine.

My biggest problem so far seems to be the pain in my wrist and forearm. Sure, time and practice will help me become a better knitter. But if this pain persists, I probably shouldn't knit? I don't want kntting to give me carpal tunnel syndrome. If I already have it to some degree, I don't want it to get worse.

November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving was fun. We were up early, bundled ourselves, and then walked to Madison Market for the fresh ingredients for the salad we were to bring to dinner. The neighborhood was quiet. No one was up that early and if they were they were cleaning the house and chopping ingredients. Luckily, our favorite store was open and hot lattes were available. We hung out drinking coffee and reading newspapers. The shopping didn't take long but what the hell - no gorgonzola cheese! So we packed up the backpacks with what we had and headed to Safeway. Luckily, it was not only open but it had plenty of gorgonzola options. Once we got back home we made some lunch. I then picked arugula and a couple different lettuces from the garden to add to the store-bought greens. I quickly chopped up the ingredients with help from J. We then had time to get stuff done around the house.

We brought the salad, a cooler, and two folding chairs along to Erin and Bruce's. They had a rain shelter set up in the yard and the oil was heating. The menu would include two deep-fried turkeys. I kept my distance from the whole operation. I'm not too keen on being near boiling oil and people smoking. Besides, the clam dip and the salmon dip were inside. Everyone brought something delicious. There was cranberry salad, swiss cheese bread and pesto bread, homemade sweet potato pie and homemade pumpkin pie (by homemade I mean that Andrew picked the pumpkins from his yard that morning), both dips, regular and vegetarian stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes in coconut milk, our salad of fresh greens, pear, walnuts and gorgonzola, homemade pickles, and green bean casserole. Oy. I was stuffed on dip before we ever sat down to dinner. Before we ate, Shannon read a "grace" of sorts. It was more a political satire and pretty funny.

After dinner I went in search of the kittens. I knew this would give me an excuse to lie down on the floor which was much more comfortable than trying to sit or even stand on such a full stomach. I visited them twice and eventually they came out from under the bed. Even the smell of food on my hands wasn't enough to hold their attention for very long.
We didn't stay to play cards. I was just to full and uncomfortable. We took home our piece of pie and eventually ate it the next day.

That night we were slugs on the couch. Even big mugs of freshly brewed coffee didn't keep us awake too long.

Let's begin.




Some of the grub

Shannon reads "grace."

I think I got almost everyone.

November 15, 2005


Alas, all things must come to an end. The last day we hung out leisurely then met Dave for lunch next door to Lexus. Steph then followed the car's navigation system and safely deposited us at the airport. Julie then proceeded to win $$ at a slot machine! Woo hoo! Once in Seattle we hopped a bus to the I.D. then a 5 minute cab ride home. No matter how much fun a vacation is it's always good to be home.

Leaving Las Vegas. The strip is so close to the runway.

Another view of the strip as we fly away. It's the brightest section that kind of runs parallel with the wing.

The Strip gets smaller.
You can see Las Vegas glimmering int he distant right. There is a little snow on the mountains. And the largest ball of light is the moon. No UFO's here, the rest of the light is the reflection of the wing light in the window. Posted by Picasa

November 14, 2005


Today we drove out to Red Rock Canyon. It's not that far at all from Dave and Steph's place. You can see the red rocks in the mountains from anywhere in Las Vegas but as you drive closer, you can see exactly how red the rock is and the various layers of perspective in the canyon. Red Rock Canyon is actually inside the boundaries of the Mojave Desert. We opted for the Pine Creek Canyon Trail. The trail starts from the parking lot, is intersected twice by the Fire Ecology Trail and by Dale's Trail, then forks near the old Wilson Homestead. In the meantime we crossed a stream and a wash. (An area reserved for when rains actually arrive. The wash helps divert the water appropriately.) When all was said and done we covered about 3.75 miles. The weather was perfect.

The rest of the afternoon we ladies swam. Later for dinner we hit a relatively new place called Nora's Cuisine, a family owned Italian place. It was most delicious. We had to take home most of our dinners because the bread, antipasto and arancini were so yummy and filling.

Approaching Red Rock Canton
Posted by Picasa Litlle did we know Dave would drink all the water.
The many layers of Red Rock Canyon.

The Canyon

Look carefully and you can see a rock climber in a blue jacket. He's about right in the middle of the rock.

This particular type of cactus only grew on the higher slopes. There were none of these down where we could get close to them. It was hard to gauge how tall this was. Best guess is 2-3 feet high. Some were half this size but none were larger. Cactus experts please feel free to expound on this awesome specimen.

Big spiky cacti. These grow about 2 feet tall. Don't touch.
Posted by Picasa Who brought the bunny?

November 13, 2005


Another very busy day. After everyone got their breakfast, Dave, Steph and I went to work-out at the condo complex where they lived prior to this current house. I jumped on and off the eliptical trainer and the bike plus did some of the weight machines. We picked up coffee on the way home. OK, so it was Starbucks the whole trip. You go with the flow when you are on vacation.

After this Dave was kind enough to drop off me and Julie at Mandalay Bay which is at one end of The Strip. Today we would walk this famous boulevard as tourists. This part of The Strip is not the old famous part that you see in TV shows about Las Vegas. Unfortunately, we never made it to that part, referred to as Downtown or Fremont Street. But we will be back and you can't do it all in one day.

We stopped into some of the big name joints like Luxor, MGM, Bellagio, New York, New York, and ended at The Wynn. In between we had lunch and bought a t-shirt. Julie played a few slots. So did I. I lost an entire $14! And $5 of that was Julie's. That's the extent of my gambling. What I wanted to know was where was everybody getting those bright yellow M&M bags. This became my new goal. We finally found the M&M store. Four whole floors of merchandising. None of which I wanted to even see. I just wanted the dame candy. In all the confusion (and there was plenty - the place was packed) we missed our first floor opportunity to buy bulk candy in a scaled down version of the mega M&M spitter on the 3rd floor. So we jockeyed our way to the upper floor and there along the back wall was every color, every variety of M&M is tall bulk chutes. I grabbed a bag and filled it with about a pound of mega milk chocolate, peanut, and dark chocolate candy. We then shoved and pushed our way out of there. I didn't even take a bright yellow bag (the conservationist in me, you know).

I am very powerful!

At Luxor.

Walk like an Egyptian.

New York, New York

The strip

Lady Liberty
Parasol Up/Parasol Down - at the top of the staircase. Posted by Picasa
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Horse at The Wynn

November 12, 2005


First day in Vegas. Perhaps the longest day ever. Because the time zone didn't change, time seemed to stand still. Not at all that we weren't having a great time. But we kept checking the time thinking it was several hours later than it was. Even a two hour nap didn't help.

Stephanie and Dave picked us up from the airport and she had prepared a picnic basket for the ride home. Granted, it wasn't a long ride, but the treats were very welcomed. Fruit, cheese, candy, muffins, water. We tore into that. We eventually went to breakfast but Dave had to go to work. We girls went to Mimi's Cafe. Extremely yummy food and freshly made tomato juice! After several cups of coffee at Mimi's we hit a few stores then once home we sat by the pool and relaxed. I eventually crashed into a deep sleep for a couple of hours.

After the nap we took Lexi and Macy for a walk. Crazy mutts. There is a small patch of green within the development where they live and they had a good time pooping their way through it.

Back at home we headed for the hot tub. Though the evenings are quite cool, the hot tub and the pool are about 94 degrees. We eventually made our way into the pool and were well water-logged by the time we got out. Dave came home and we made dinner. I chopped some fresh tomatoes and basil and heaped it onto some sliced baguette with grated cheese for very tasty bruschetta. There was a veggie tray and fresh shrimp cocktail. I also whipped up a Washington Apple cocktail for Steph. This didn't stop her from conitnuing to drain Dave's drinks throughout the night. We introduced Dave and Steph to the card game Hand and Foot and they took to it right away. Julie and Dave had much better luck as a team than did Steph and I. But paybacks are a bitch so a re-match will probably be held tomorrow night.

Tomorrow Julie and I will hit the strip for some touristesque activity. Monday we head to Red Rock Canyon for a hike. Having fun!

A serious Lexi

Kiss me, dahling.


Damn cute

Walking the dog.

It was sure funny when this huge grasshopper jumped from a tree onto Steph's head. For all the screaming, you would have thought a Komodo Dragon was eating her leg.

Steph plays catch in the pool.


That's right, it's 3:50 a.m. and the cab arrives at 4:15 a.m. to whisk us to Sea-Tac. We are headed to Las Vegas to visit Steph and Dave for four days. It's our first trip to LV. No doubt it will be fun.

It's one thing to stay up until all hours but it's completely another thing to be deeply sleeping and then have to get up in the middle of the night. I feel fine when I'm first awake but after a shower and getting dressed I just feel queasy. It will pass but it makes for a slow morning. But in 4 1/2 hours I will be where it is 70 degrees (later today) and sunny! Suppose to be 75 on Monday, the day we are to hike in Fern Canyon! I can't wait for the sun. Seattle has experienced a miserable last half of October and the first half of November isn't any better.

Back to preparation. Thanks to Diana for staying at our place while we are gone.

November 07, 2005


After a few too many cocktails, I had a slow go of it on Sunday morning. Fortunately, we were not due to the Town Hall Seattle until 2 p.m. for our first experience with the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band (BSSB). My new favorite band, BSSB has been not marching while playing John Phillip Sousa favorites for 20 years. In fact, November 6 was their 20th anniversary in addition to being John Phillip Sousa's 151st birthday! A further distinction was bestowed upon BSSB when an official edict by the mayor was read to the audience proclaiming November 6, 2005 to be Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band Day. What a proud moment. And twice during the performance, BSSB members presented director and band leader (and clarinet player) Liz Driesbach with
Sousabilia in recognition for her years of hard work and for founding the BSSB. Liz is also the performance's MC and she's a riot in a flaky, unaffected way. She might be 2 seconds from counting off the band into a new number when she will stop and turn and begin another Sousa story. She is a Sousa freak and not ashamed to show her admiration.

The BSSB will not march "under any circumstances" (according to the web site). And they boast the world's only sedentary majorette. She sits in a chair and twirls while the whole first row of musicians dons hardhats in case of an operator malfunction. They also display a colorful array of thrift store and homemade uniforms. The setting wasn't ideal for taking pictures but I managed to get a few decent ones. But I've snagged a group shot off the BSSB web site to give you a full shot of the group. This was certainly the best $10 spent in a long time. We hope to catch another performance at the Phinney Neighborhood Association Winter Festival on December 4.

For dinner we met up with Andrea and Shannon at Erin's house. Erin supplied the halibut caught by Bruce earlier this year. Julie supplied the knowledge for the garlic halibut recipe that is most delicious. There was acorn squash and salad and homemade pumpkin pie from Andrea. Don't forget the new kittens, Eva and Edie. They were more welcoming than last time and I actually got to hold them and play with them.

Here's the garlic halibut recipe. Make this immediately.

4 halibut filets (6-8 ounces each)

For the marinade:

6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro plus 1 tsp cilantro root (the stalk)
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 Asian fish sauce or soy sauce and more for brushing
3 tbsp sake, Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
3 tbsp sesame oil plus more for brushing
coarse salt and ground pepper to taste

Prepare the marinade by pounding the garlic, ginger and cilantro root and sugar in a mortar with a pestle. Or puree in food processor. Work in fish sauce, sake, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Spoon it over the halibut and marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. Then broil or grill the fish 4-6 minutes per side.

Aren't they crazy?