Getting Old


It's official, I'm old.

As if turning 30 this year wasn’t bad enough, I just got in the mail the other day my very own AARP card.  Eric thought it was hilarious and insisted on putting it on the fridge.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against using this birthday for all it’s worth.  And right now I’m trying to convince Eric that this wonderful peacoat by J Crew would be a great consolation prize for someone turning 30.  Does it get any more cheery than that fabulous aqua blue?  And right now I think I need some cheeriness.

Yogurt


I don’t usually read labels on food and when I do, words I can’t pronounce don’t scare me.  I do not require things to be organic, free-range, local or hormone-free (I like being tall).  I don’t really care (I probably should, but I just don’t) whether the chicken I’m eating was happy before it became part of my meal.  This being said, there is one food which I am very picky about.  I care deeply about it’s origins, ingredients, taste, consistency and appearance.

I am obsessed with yogurt.  I am in fact a yogurt snob.

I have had love affairs with many different varieties– Greek yogurt I discovered when I lived in Spain, a tart variety called Nancy\’s Yogurt I got when I lived in Moscow and ate by the gallon, and most lately, Seven Stars Farm yogurt.  The last time I was in Pennsylvania I bought a case of it.  This may be the affair to end all yogurt love affairs.  It is AMAZING stuff.  When you open the container there is a layer of cream sitting on the top and down to the last sloopy little bit, it’s wonderful!

I always go full-fat, plain.

If I want more flavor I add my own.  My flavor-of-the-week is frozen blueberries, craisins and a sticks-and-twigs type of cereal I got at costco.

If you click the link to Seven Stars Farm yogurt you can find out where to buy it.  My one disappointment is that wherever they sell it in the DC area they want an arm and a leg for it.  The cheapest I have found it is in Bird in Hand, PA where I buy it from an Amish store (for real– they have gas lights and buggies) for less than $3 a tub.  And I eat a case in about a week.  Sigh…

As Promised. . . 18 Hour Bread


A few people have asked for this bread recipe (pictured in this post). And since I was just mixing it up to have for Sunday dinner with friends tomorrow I thought I better post it before I forget again.

Have fun with this bread, the more you make it, the more you get acquainted with the fun “no kneed” process and you’ll get more and more fabulous results. You mix the dough a day before and you need a heavy, pot with a lid– but other than that, there is nothing special involved.  You’ll feel so accomplished when you set this crusty, beautiful thing down in front of your guests and casually reply, “Oh, yeah, that bread? Yeah. . . I made it, it’s pretty easy, really.”

Enjoy!

Pot Bread

4  1/8 cups all purpose or bread flour (up to 1/5 can be wheat)

1 1/2 tsp. salt

a heaping 1/2 tsp. yeast

2 cups water water

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add the salt and flour. Mix until combined. Dough should be sticky and wetter that most doughs. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-18 hours. (Sometimes I’ve only had 6 hours to let it sit, and it still turned out wonderfully.)

Add a little flour and use a spoon or your hands to shape the dough into a manageable but still soft ball. Let it sit while you pre-heat the oven and pot. Put the pot and lid into oven and let heat to 450 degrees (I let the pot and lid stay in for about 20 minutes). Remove pot from oven, spray with cooking spray to keep it from sticking, and immediately plop your dough into the smoking hot pot. Throw it back in the oven and cook covered for 30 minutes, then remove lid and let it finish browning. Test for done-ness by thumping the bottom of the loaf to make sure it sounds hollow. (You can double the recipe and bake this same way in one loaf, just make sure it is cooked through– it takes a while!)

Full Moon at Buckhorn Springs


 Tuesday night was a full moon. Did you notice?

I can’t say I ever noticed what the moon was doing when I lived in the city. Maybe because its  brightness paled in comparison to the towers of light all around us. But here, the moon is bigger, brighter and I’ve been counting off the days until it reach its full size so that we could go to Buckhorn Springs.

We packed a picnic dinner, threw some sleeping bags in the jeep and hit the dusty gravel road toward the top, Eastern corner of Oregon. The hour drive was beautiful and so relaxing to enjoy on a mid-week night. Best of all, some family and friends were up for the last-minute adventure as well.

Buckhorn Springs is an overlook on Hell’s Canyon where you can see the Seven Devils (those are mountains) the state of Idaho, and layer after layer of blue purple pink and brown cliff and hill. Really, it is breathtaking. So I was glad we got there in time to see it in the daylight. Of course, pictures are kind of  a rip off- you’ll just have to see it yourself.

Jude seemed underwhelmed.

 

We ate dinner, made a fire for s’mores, our friends played guitar and made chai tea, and then. . . there it was- peaking up and rising over the canyon.

You could almost reach out and touch it. . .

Or eat it

The moon was so bright, we could see each other’s faces by it’s light and being out there, in the total silence (minus kids asking for more marshmallows) and far from any people, made the moon seem so dominating and beautiful. I could understand why people through history have worshipped it and I couldn’t believe I had never taken the time to go moon gazing.

The next full moon is Thursday, September 23. So find a dark, quiet place, and take it all in next month.

Schlepping


Suddenly it hit me like a freight train and I have been in bed now for a week.  Everyday I wake up and discover, yep, still sick, then I slink into the bathroom, down my cocktail of drugs and go back to bed.  It has been this screeching halt to my life except for wedding planning in a delirium and reading books.  That’s it.

Andrew has been my knight, as always, in shining armour.  He’s made all the meals, oh wait, he practically always does that anyway, and he has kept the kitchen so amazingly clean right down to polishing the granite.  And he comes home every evening, walks into the bedroom, and smiles down at me, as though I might just then be looking like a million bucks.

We had a visiting pastor and his son, a great friend of Matthias, stay with us Saturday night and I just couldn’t bear the isolation so I schlumped out to visit for awhile.  Andrew had made an amazing bulgogi dinner.

Sunday, thankfully, Meghan and her family came over for lunch.  Sweet little Anwyn came sneaking into my bedroom to say, “Hi, grandma,” and was soon followed by Canon and Athan.  Out in the kitchen I heard the pastor say he could make guacamole.  There was a party going on and I was missing it.  Once again, I dragged myself out and just sat.  It was really great to hear the commotion, the conversation.

Now it’s Wednesday, again, and I’m ready to feel better.

Here are the books I’ve read this past week.  Click on them for my drug induced review.

The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (P.S.)Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table (Random House Reader's Circle)Not Becoming My Mother: and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way

A Place Called Saturday by Mary Astor

Baking Cakes in Kigali: A Novel

Kindle Video

The National Gallery


One of the ways Valiant and I have been trying to beat the heat here in DC is by doing stuff indoors.  It’s too hot for man or beast (although apparently not tourists…) out there!   When the heat index is over 100 and it’s humid enough to swim down the sidewalk, we have taken to the museums as a way to get out of the house and still stay cool without living at the pool.  One of my favorites is the National Gallery.  We stopped to admire the Alexander Calder mobiles in the East Building which Valiant told me reminded him of his mobile above his crib.  Then we made our way through the psychedelic tunnel to the West Building where we took in some of the less modern stuff.

The mobile in Valiant’s room

I think he appreciated the depictions of boyhood by Homer.

We stopped to give V his lunch in the atrium.

I love Sargent!  V preferred his stroller straps to the art.

Jewelry tree


The obliging lilac

Dressers are always hard for me to decorate. Mine needed  a little statement piece so I decided a jewelry display would be nice.

Urban Outfitters had what I was looking for for $32. But of course, you know better than to think I would pay good money for a branch. (I thought this one was even cooler, so I think I’ll keep my eyes peeled for an old wood box.)

I started making my jewelry tree from a twiggy branch off a half-dead, obliging lilac bush in the vacant lot behind my house. Then Zac ran it over. With his bike. In the dark. Granted, I had left  it in the driveway while the white spray paint dried. . .  so it was kind of my fault.  I started over. And while I was starting over I decided to go with a different color. I used my favorite shade of turquoise, but I still think white would look cool.

Truth be told, the base on this (a milk-glass votive with styrofoam and little rocks) isn't heavy enough. This may be a "light-weight earring only tree".

I filled a white dish with my perfumes and a couple pretty things to serve as a nice tray.

Love this color with gold and silver.

Miami Dream’n


I took these shots a long time ago with my film SLR but only recently got them developed.  I was curious to see how they turned out because I think the film I used was about as old as I am.  Despite the discolorations, there really is something about film that I love.

Figs


We have this wonderful, generous neighbor who has blessed us with as many figs from his garden as we can eat.  He brought them over one day in a tin and whenever we finish them off, we bring the tin back and he returns it full.

He’s from Norway and keeps an amazing yard, especially for this part of the city– it reminds me of the Secret Garden.  He had us over for a late evening meal in his garden the other night with all kinds of food arranged on little plates, boards and bowls and several beers chilling in an ice bucket off to the side.  Inside his house is somewhat dark, the walls covered in oil paintings  and portraits of late relatives.  There are rugs strewn on the wood floors and furniture and trinkets from all over the world.  We had a lovely relaxing evening chatting about life and his past (his parents were holocaust survivors but died in a private plane crash along with several of his siblings, and he was raised in East Asia, India and various other countries by his Aunt).  I kept trying to think of who he reminded me of and then one day it struck me.  With his hospitality, his kindness, his foriegn-ness, his cozy little house– he reminded me of Tumnus the Faun.

Some day, if I can ever keep from eating all the figs right out of the tin, I hope to make fig bars.  If anyone has a tried and true recipe, please pass it on!

Oh The Places We’ll Go!


Enjoying the good weather and great food!

The perfect beach day, sunny, 90 degrees and a light breeze...

My dear friend made the long trek from California to visit me this last week (actually she came to visit all her Seattle friends but I like to think she just came out to see me).  It felt like old times going on Seattle adventures and hitting up the best happy hours and I took a Thursday and Friday off just to fit everything in.  This visit to West Seattle and Alki beach was very memorable since I had never been to this amazing little corner of the city.  It had a very California feel (or at least I think it did since I’ve never been to California; it’s the way I’d imagine California to be) and had a boardwalk lined with great open air shops and eaterys.  A visit to Husky Deli provided some of the best homemade ice cream I’ve ever had, all nestled inside a fresh homemade waffle cone.  The coconut, complete with real chunks of coconut, and the rum truffle ice creams make an especially delish combo.  A BLT sandwich complemented the meal quite nicely.  After sitting in the sun for hours and doing a little longboarding we faced the sad fact that we were sunburnt and dehydrated and had better head back home before we turned into human raisins.

Bacon lettuce and tomato awesomeness!

Bacon lettuce and tomato awesomeness!

Eat drink and be happy


I'm pretty jazzed about figuring out how to use the "micro" setting on my camera. (finally)

Our visit last week with friends from Seattle left a very good taste in our mouth. They brought every imaginable delicacy and treat from across the mountains from hand-made cheeses and sour beer, to bavarian meats and fau gras (I must admit I should have given my porition of goose liver pate to their three year old who ate up every bit she was served. Sadly, my palate is lacking here.)

This balsamic vinegar and olive oil was their special gift to us. They had tasted it at a restaurant and wanted to bring it for us to try. Honestly, we all agreed we could have drunk it. I made fresh bread and we went to town with a salad and all the other lovely things. For dessert, a lemon liquor served freezing cold with home-made vanilla bean ice cream.

Good friends, good food, good wine. What more is there in life?

Valiant


I think it was Meghan I was talking to the other day and she said that she wanted to see more pictures of Valiant.  We actually had a little photo session the other day because I wanted to get some passport photos of him (there’s always a hope and a dream of travel for me.)  Taking passport photos with a 4 month old is a little challenging….

…but with the proper cropping I think we finally came up with something that worked

And here are some random Valiant photos just so you remember what your little grandson/nephew/cousin across the country looks like.

Bruschetta


Fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes

Here is a wonderful little summer recipe for you:
Bruschetta
1 3/4c. tomatoes
1/3c. kalamata olives
1T. capers
1/4c. basil
1T. olive oil
1T. balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
pepper
1/4c. red onion
Chop all ingredients finely and serve on buttered bread broiled in the oven sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. 

Makes a lovely lunch or appetizer.

On Your Dime


First Lady Michelle Obama smiles while she visits Marbella, southern Spain.

Aren’t you glad somebody‘s using your money this summer for nice little vacation?  Since so many are downsizing our lives and watching our budgets, isn’t it nice to know when we pool all our money that Michelle can have a grand time on it?

“I don’t begrudge anyone rest and relaxation when they work hard. We all need downtime – the First Family included. It’s the extravagance of Michelle Obama’s trip and glitzy destination contrasted with President Obama’s demonization of the rich that smacks of hypocrisy and perpetuates a disconnect between the country and its leaders.”   ~Andrea Tantaros

“In January, President Obama insisted that ‘everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good. Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game.’”  ~Andrea Tantaros

Consider it done, Mr. President.

Villa Padierna in Marbella

The Obamas and their party are staying at the Villa Padierna in Marbella, which is rated as one of the top hotels in the world.  Mrs Obama arrived by plane at Malaga airport on Wednesday morning and was driven in a 14-car convoy to the five star Hotel Villa Padierna, where her entourage has reserved 60 of the 129 rooms.

Tantaros wrote: ‘To be clear, what the Obamas do with their money is one thing; what they do with ours is another. Transporting and housing the estimated 70 Secret Service agents who will flank the material girl will cost the taxpayers a pretty penny.’

Resident Artists


We are trying to get all our summer extracurricular activities done before time runs out and we have to get back to doing math and grammar.  This week Matthias was at piping and drumming school in Coeur D’Alene, so Taite and I did some watercoloring.  We found an artist who does sort of primitive, quaint watercolors for her blog instead of photos and Taite copied one of her pieces.

I once spent the day with a scrimshaw artist in Massachusetts who taught me how to work on ivory.  The first step is to accomplishing detailed work on ivory is to work with pen and ink.  One day this summer that is what Matthias tried his hand at.  I bought some ivory piano keys that are waiting for a ship to sail on them.

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things


Will there ever be enough stories written about World War II?

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, was lent to me and I kept avoiding it.  I knew it was about WWII which instantly makes it tragic, and I just didn’t know if I was up to it.

Sarah and her family are taken from their arrondissement July 16, 1942 to the vélodrome d’hiver along with the other French Jews and eventually shipped off to Auschwitz.  To save her brother when the French police were at their door, Sarah locked her brother in a closet and pocketed the key promising to return.  This is not light summer reading, but I am reading it and although grievously tragic, I am getting through it.  Does that sound like an endorsement!?Sarah's Key

Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, is set in Ireland, in a mental institution.  Roseanne is at or near one hundred years old and has lived in the asylum most of her life but she did once have a real life.  She carefully writes her biography when no one is around and hides it beneath a few loose boards when she hears someone coming.  The asylum is about to be demolished and the patients all need to either be set free or set up to live elsewhere.  Another sad but beautifully written story of the evils that one human can inflict upon another.

The Secret Scripture: A Novel

Nomad by the author of Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is a story that needs to be told.  Escaping the hideous culture of Islam, Ayaan recounts the life of her family and extended family; it’s all tragic.  Although the subject is compelling the book is a bit dry.  It eventually gets bogged down in politics.  But the story needs to be told.

Thankfully Ayaan persevered speaking out against the atrocities of this religion. As she acknowledges herself, “Unlike white commentators, who were hamstrung by the fear that they would be labeled racists, I could voice my criticisms of the feudal, religious, and repressive mechanisms that were holding back women from Muslim communities.”

Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations

Soooo… have you read any well written light reads you would suggest.  Right about now, I am ready for one!