New to Me Gadget

I’ve been back on the coffee bandwagon lately. Usually decaf and over ice. My husband noticed and found this great gadget for our anniversary. Happy 10 Years, honey!

It is a vacuum coffee maker.

Here are some shots of the process. There were a few extra steps to prep as this was our first time using the machine.

Here’s a video of the brewing. This is a similar machine, but not mine. My video was terribly shaky and didn’t want to cooperate in the uploading process. Cool, hun? And the coffee tastes great too!

How do you like your coffee? Or are you more of a tea person?

Real Life Moment: I am known to make a half a pot of coffee and drink out of it for the next few days until I drink it all instead of brewing fresh each day. Clearly, I’m not a coffee snob.

Planning Easter

These flowers and a sweet note were waiting for me Easter morning a few years ago. They were freshly cut from our yard. I don’t expect the same this year due to an unfortunate hail storm that destroyed our lilies. That and one of our cats has taken to eating flowers, which in turn makes him barf everywhere. So no live flowers in our house.

Here’s our yard five hours after the hail fell.

I have never seen hail this size. When it was falling it sounded like our windows were going to crash in. Thankfully, nothing but the flowers were damaged.

Now, getting back to Easter–this lent season has been really weird for me. First, Eric has grown this really gnarly beard. He is almost unrecognizable. Second, Eric has been battling a mysterious illness and I worry. I worry that the chemo drug he is on isn’t working. For now, there is only one other drug option–then bone marrow transplant.

At his most recent oncologist’s visit we learned some really good news. They don’t think the illness is necessarily related to his chemo. At any rate, anyone who has received the level of remission Eric has on his current drug, hasn’t relapse.

NO ONE!

Also, two new drugs are currently in clinical trials. This news is beyond comforting to me. I am looking forward to Easter with a renewed sense of anticipation and joy. I’m certain it is mostly selfish, though. For during the season of Lent, I lose my husband. His workload increases threefold. After Easter, a lot of his obligations cease or significantly slow down. It is a time of much celebration and fun for us. To celebrate, I am hosting an Easter dinner for six of us. Here’s my working menu.

Yum. Nothing better than a long, lazy meal spent with people you love. Do you host a special Easter meal?

The Land of Fruits and Nuts

We’ve been in California two and a half years and it is starting to show. I’ve been enjoying lots of beverages that look like this lately.

I’ll admit they are a bit odd looking. This one is full of pear, spinach, and carrot. Another version included tomato, celery, carrot, and spinah. I’ve also tried clementines, carrots, and spinach. I must say they are growing on me. I’m not really dieting per se, just trying out different things.

Last week I attempted mac and cheese with nutritional yeast and spaghetti squash. I liked it okay, but it made Eric nauseous. Poor guy. What have you been cooking lately?

Peace,

^-^

Honey Shortbread

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I never really thought about making shortbread until I was at a party where someone had made honey shortbread. The combination of sweet and salty blew my socks off. I improvised with the cooking utensils I have–lining a cookie sheet in tin foil instead of using a tart pan and everything worked out beautifully.

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The quantity above is a double batch. I used this recipe from Fine Cooking. Easy peasy and tasty to boot.

Enjoy!

^_^

Potato Cakes

Yum. The best thing about mashed potatoes is saving them for potato cakes.

Before the Flip

Here they are before the flip. Please disregard the stovetop–it took a few days to get it cleaned after the Thanksgiving festivities–sorry Mom, I know that grosses you out.

So potato cakes are simply mashed potatoes, a little milk, a bit of flour, and an egg. I used soy milk in the potato cakes so I could drink the rest of the cow’s milk myself. We don’t buy cow’smilk generally, but  some  of the turkey day recipes had it. Eric scrunches up his nose and says, “Eww!!” when referring to cow’s milk. Silly boy.

Then you plop the potato mixture in a hot skillet with a bit of oil or cooking spray or whatever you want and brown each side. I’ve heard of cooking them in bacon grease–but that sounds a bit much to me. 🙂

After the Flip

Pop them on a plate and enjoy. For some reason potato cakes are a breakfast food in my book. I’m sure they are enjoyable anytime of day, though.

Peace,

^_^

Halloween Was Over a Week Ago? And Other Adventures

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I love glow-in-the dark eyes that are peeping out on us as we surveyed our carved pumpkins lit with candles for the first time. This little munchkin and her brother were just the excuse we needed to offer to reenact last years’ Halloween chili party and in effect invite ourselves over for the evening.

Here are the pumpkins!

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I carved the second one (below). I don’t remember the last time I carved a pumpkin–clearly it had been too long. All I know is now that I’ve graduated to real knives, as opposed to the rounded jagged “safety knife” with an orange plastic pumpkin handle, I could probably carve anything on a pumpkin. Easy peasy!

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I can’t take credit for the design–our friends’ 3rd grader was the designer which was just fine with me–I’m definitely in the middle of a huge case of creative block.

Here’s the famous Halloween chili. The picture is a bit gross–but it tasted amazing. The second year in a row for this–I think I see a tradition being born!

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We can’t forget the cornbread cake. Yes, there are equal portions cake mix and cornbread mix in this concoction! Delicious!

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And they were giving out the best halloween candy ever. Real sized bars of the trick or treaters’ choosing.

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Here’s the brother kitty showing it off. Such a cutie. Unfortunately we must be bad luck, because there were very few trick or treaters. 🙁 Maybe a total of 15 or so.

So for the other adventures, we managed to snag a few steals at the REI gear sale this weekend. Here’s a dog tent our friends were setting up to check out. Eric couldn’t resist trying it out.

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Peace,

^_^

October 14

Wow, so what do you say after being MIA for a few months? If you could just fill this out with what you’d want to hear then we can move on.

In no particular order, here’s a quick look into what I’ve been doing. I played tourist in San Francisco with my buddy.
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I’m not sure I realized the Full House exterior was from San Francisco. Such a cool park is across the street.

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I signed up for some classes at the local community college in Fashion Design. I’m re-taking Advanced Flat Pattern as a refresher and just to get to know some new people. It is way fun. My first garment is due at the end of October and will come from this board.
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Here’s a close-up.
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A lot of the designs are from Pattern Magic. I’m so excited to finally get to working from that book. I am also working hard to get a block that fits me so I can actually wear these designs. I’ll keep you posted!

I’m also taking Draping. There was a bit of a learning curve, but I’m loving it too.

For a design competition I got to repurpose some articles of clothing. I used this dress.

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And this shirt.

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And made this dress.

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I didn’t win any prizes, but I have a fabulous new dress to wear out of things that were otherwise going to be taken to a charity.

I’ve been enjoying the bursts of cool weather with cafe viennois and hot teas. Yum. I recently heard someone talking about cherry cocoa, so I may have to try that out too.

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I’ve also branched out my baking and have learned to make rather tasty pizza dough–I love 101 cookbooks recipes, and wheat baguettes (with a recipe from French Women Don’t Get Fat). Yum!

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I get to celebrate my birthday and Eric’s 4th anniversary of his cancer diagnosis today. Always a bit bittersweet and emotional. Glad he is doing well.

We finished our triathlon at the beginning of September and I made this thank you card for the people that made donations. I really enjoyed making the card, and got lots of rave reviews on it, so I will probably be working on more fun photo/word collages soon! The triathlon was fun and we had a ton of support!

Thank You

For a birthday gift, I’m enjoying a subscription to WWD. Love it! I hope I can keep them read as I get a new one daily!

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And I got my very own French Press coffee maker. I can’t wait to use it!

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Peace,

^_^

The Blame Game

I realize I’ve been MIA for a bit.

I could blame Sake. As you can see, she thinks she is my main priority.

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Look at how intense she is! That face is typical Sake indeed.

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I could mention I was busy with the last days of school and volunteering at Maker Faire. I got to paint a few signs for Maker Faire and was pleased to be complimented. They said, “you certainly are a real artist.”

I finished my ambitious sewing. Here’s the shirt. It was fabulous. Though I’m not sure if I would recommend circular scallops on the back princess seams. If I stood just right, and the scallops popped straight out, I looked a bit lizardish!

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Sorry it is a bit wrinkly. It went great with the denim skirt. The skirt however, kept growing on me because of the 3% lycra I thought was a brilliant idea at the fabric store. So I sent it home with my mom–I hope she wears it.

I finished the dress.

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The necklace is something my dad randomly picked up for me 6 weeks earlier. Weird that it is orange too. I was a bit disappointed not to use the lace–but I’m not sure there was any good things to do with it this time. It is definitely on my radar for a future project.

I could also blame my mom. She stayed in town for a week. But we just did fun things–so it really isn’t her fault I haven’t been around.

I could blame my infinitely more exciting social life. We’re averaging 4 dinner parties a week both at our place and out. Fun, fun indeed. And those cloth napkins are getting a lot of use. I love them!

I could blame Team in Training. I am signed up for a new event–and you should totally donate! But that is fun too.

I could blame my summer art camp. The location change actually worked in my favor as I now have 5 weeks to teach instead of just 3! Camp doesn’t start until Monday, and while I have been working on preparing this week–it seems much more of a fun thing than a chore. Here’s my class rules.

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I could blame my volunteer sewing projects. I just finished this cover to keep dust out of the sound board at the church. And volunteered to sew at least 24 vests if not double that for a childrens’ musical camp that is performing in mid-August. What was I thinking??

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I could blame the quilt kit I got back in Long Beach last July at the quilt show. But really, I’m excited to be working on it. It’d be awesome to finish soon–or at least before we (Eric’s aunt, Eric’s grandma, and I) go back to Long Beach this July for the quilt show. Here’s all of the squares I’ve finished and the ones left to do.

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I’m onto the last block. I have 6 of those to sew, then sewing all of the blocks together, and a row of smaller squares on the border. It is pretty fun, except I am finding the squares don’t line up so well. I’m not sure if my cutting was off, or if I am bad at making quarter-inch seams. It isn’t terrible, but a little annoying for an anal gal.

I could blame the cherry chocolate chip ice cream I made. It was fabulous and lasted all of two days in our house. If you’re looking for a recipe, I’d recommend this one.

So really, I suppose I can only blame myself. I’ve been doing a lot, just not blogging about it. I hope you all are doing well too!

Peace!

Sidewalk Cafe

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So all of this Paris talk has gotten the best of me. We had to hop on down to the local cafe that makes French macaroons and have ourselves a few. Pistachio and raspberry were the flavors we chose. Yummy. Though, the pistachio one did remind me of the pistachio sugar-free instant pudding I am really fond of. Not sure why.

Here’s Eric acting interested, he wasn’t up for photo opportunities today.

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That’s his clenched, “Okay I’m smiling,” face. Cute, no?

In other news, our bike ride today was fabulous. Though afterwards I got as sick as I’ve ever been and still don’t feel great. I don’t think it was necessarily related–but man it sucks.

Eric is excited to start his next season of Team in Training. He’ll be a web/photo co-captain and honored teammate. I’ve considered joining him, but am not sure I can raise the fund raising amount necessary–it is more than I’ve ever raised, but not “official” so I can’t say here–to participate in the two events he has eyed, Pacific Grove and Big Kahuna. I may have to train solo and not with Team in Training. The fun thing about being involved in Team in Training in Silicon Valley is everyone is an entrepreneur. So lots of fund raising happens in non-traditional ways. Like the guy that wore his wetsuit everywhere for a week and when asked why, told people about Team in Training. I may have to jump outside of the box and try something beside begging friends and family this time. We’ll see.

Peace!