Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wonderful World of Words

The English language is a complex assortment of letters that weave their way into unusual rules, protocols and exceptions.

For example: the prefix "re"

such as in:

reinvestigate
reuse
reinhabit
release

re-


It's, according to dictionary.com, "a prefix, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition, or with the meaning “back” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion: regenerate; refurbish; retype; retrace; revert."

But then there are the exceptions that don't fit nicely in with the rule.

Such as:

resume. . . what is a sume. . . ?
reduce . . . what is a duce. . .?
remit . . . what is a mit . . . ?
resist . . . what is a sist. . .?
require. . . what is a quire. . .?

It's apparent that English is a difficult language to learn.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tasty Tuesday


Whenever I get nervous I want to eat something warm and comforting. In fact whenever I get sad I want to eat something warm and comforting. Heck whenever I'm happy, excited, anxious, . . . I just like to eat. And, Sunday was no exception. I felt the first tinges of a cold coming on so what did I want...? Yep...something warm and comforting.

So I made a homemade lasagna and garlic toast. And, I finished it off with a mango brulee'. Here's how I made the mango brulee' - thanks to Martha Stewart for the idea - but my husband being so handy, I even had a torch to use. It might not have been a kitchen torch but no matter, it worked just fine. (I had to flip the video - my husband filmed it sideways)

Ingredients:


Six mangoes

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cube of butter

Directions:

Half the mangoes, taking out the seeds
put a pat of butter on each side of the mango
sprinkle with sugar
Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes

Then I took the mangoes out of the oven and used the torch to intensely heat up the brown sugar (in this clip I used a little white table sugar) and butter to caramelize the tops of the mangoes.

Then I served the warm and comforting mango brulees. Of course this wasn't your typical custard brulee or creme brulee but it was a fun twist to try for a change.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Movie Review Monday - Priest


Priest is a movie based on a Korean comic that my daughter thought I might like since I'm like graphic novels and am such a fanpire. So, my husband and I watched it. But what I realized is that one of the reasons I enjoy vampire movies is setting. I love seeing the castles, the moors and shadowy figures. It's all about romantic illusion.

Not so with Priest.

It was an apocalyptic show about the human/vampire wars that caused the end of the world -- almost.

So, this is one show I wouldn't recommend - even though I like (most) vampire movies.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Screening



My husband loves wood and it doesn't matter what shape or size it is. He'll take old leftover scraps and figure out some way to reuse, repurpose and reshape it into something useful.

And it's a good thing he's able to make some of the things for our house because it was built in 1890 and it doesn't have anything that is "standard" - like our basement windows - there are no screens for those windows and you can't just go out and buy some because they aren't any typical or "standard" size. But, that didn't stop my husband. He took some old strips of wood that he had left over from some other project and repurposed those pieces into frames for our new screen windows. Then he measured out some mesh and trimmed it down to size. He hammered the nails into place and added some hinges and...

WHA-LAH!!! Now we have new screen windows to keep the bugs out of the basement.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thought for Thursday

Remember to put out water on hot days for the Birds, Squirrels and other animals



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

One Day


Sunday afternoon it was hot!!! So, we all decided to go to a movie. And, I love Anne Hathaway...but, then, who doesn't?

So, anyway, we went to see One Day.

And . . . just like Anne, I loved the movie.

But . . . , and I hate to say it, to be honest I wasn't so impressed with Jim Sturgess' performance.

Of course, he's a gorgeous guy - so that helps. And he was adorable (in glimpses) but it was definitely Anne who carried the show, at least for me. I did say I loved her - didn't I?

But, I do think it's worth seeing. And I hope, if you do go watch the movie, you'll pop back over here One Day and let me know what you thought of it. ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Make Freezer Jam



I love berries. Blue, Marion, Kotata, Rasp...but most of all Blackberry!

But berries have a very short season so I love to make Freezer Jam to make the season last a little longer . . .sort of.

And, it is so super simple to make freezer jam that anyone can do it. And I think it really tastes better than the cooked berry jam. I figure whenever you cook something, you're going to cook some of the flavor right out of it.

In case you don't know what freezer jam is, it's jam that you haven't had to cook. You usually still have to cook the pectin (which is what thickens the jam) but you don't have to cook the fruit and sugar. And, who wants to deal with hot lava sugar and fruit mixtures?

This is, like I said, super simple to make and it tastes better than the cooked jam. The only draw back is that the freezer jam won't last as long as the cooked variety (only about one year in the freezer) but it won't matter because the jam will taste so much better, it wouldn't last that long anyway.






Monday, August 22, 2011

Eastbank Esplanade Bikeride in Portland, Oregon

If you're ever in Portland and you want to see the city from a bike, here's the way to do it. You can start at the Fire Station at S.E. Madison and S.E. Water Avenues. It's the beginning of a great bike ride on the Eastbank Esplanade
The Eastbank Esplanade in Portland, Oregon, is a beautiful walking/bike riding route that runs around the city. (Turn down the sound if you don't want to hear the wind).

You can ride your bike past OMSI and hop onto the Springwater Corridor. It's a comfortable, flat terrain ride that allows you to see the city from your bike without any cars.

Well . . . there's one small spot where you have to travel on the roads/streets of Portland to make a connection from the Esplanade to the Springwater Corridor. But, it's not a very busy strip. Here's what that connection looks like:


You'll find plenty of parking on the east side. Just park on Madison and then ride your bike to the Fire station and this is what you'll see.



Then you'll ride past OMSI


Continue on the Springwater Corridor for about three miles, until you reach Oaks Bottom and you can ride right up to the entrance of Oaks Park.

This is that 3 mile ride:



So, if you visit Portland, Oregon, this is one way to see the city sights without spending any money.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I SHOULD Have . . .

I SHOULD HAVE NOT . . .

It's that one four-letter word that keeps giving me problems. But I can't seem to help it. I have a fault--maybe even a double-fault:

F. O. O. D.

That's why Fry...day is such a problem in my house. Yep, you guessed it. That's the one day of the week when all I can think about is yummilicious goodness. So once again this is another

FEEDING FRENZY FRY...Day





Can I help it if I love to bake? I guess the real problem is that I love to eat. Plus, like I said, it's FRYday! Which always makes me think of crunchy, crispy, deep-fried food.

And I've never been one to fight...my urges. So, I asked myself, why not make a few fondant flowers and create a flowerful feeding frenzy to start the weekend?


Food...food...food. . .

That's what I was thinking when I should have been at Pilates doing my hundreds.

I tried to distract myself by thinking of fields of beautiful aromatic flowers...

but then they were . . . Fondant flowers. . .

That's why I played hookey from my fitness class. I know I should have been working out but I never said I was perfect.

So, instead of doing what I should have done, which I'll probably regret at my Weight Watchers weigh-in this weekend, I sat down at the table and pulled out my dough.

And, I should have felt guilty but I guess I never do what I should. Instead I was doing what Mom used to tell me NOT to do--I was playing with my food again.

And, it was like turning back the clock four decades and enjoying that old favorite "PlayDoh" again.

I just wish I could eat like I did back then, when I was a kid: without fear. Back then, when I was around eight, nine or ten, I never worried about finding a few extra pounds. Now, there's no need for any games of hide-n-seek. No searching required, I can find those pounds without even looking.

But, I can't help it. I still love to play with my food. And baking makes me feel like a kid again.

And, if you're like me, and you like to bake too here's how I created my very own play...dough play date.

I frosted my cupcakes with my homemade cream cheese frosting (which was designed to be the flavorful glue for my flowers to stay stuck to their cupcake) then I rolled out the fondant and cut or pressed the flowers into a funciful plateful of flowerful food.


How 'bout you, is there anything you've done lately that makes you feel like a kid again?

And, if you're curious about this culinary creation, here's my own recipe for

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

1/2 package of cream cheese
1 stick of softened butter
1/4 cup of milk
1 2 lb package of powdered sugar

Cream all ingredients slowly, so the powdered sugar doesn't go flying into the air and making a mess you won't want to clean up. After the sugar is incorporated into the dry ingredients, mix until smooth. Now use the frosting like paint and create your own little slice of delicious pie...ces of art.

And have some Yummmilicious goodness - even if you shouldn't!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Flowers, Fruit and Homemade Jam


It was a wonderful weekend filled with flowers, fruit and yummilicious freezer jam. We went for a drive out to the country and spent some time walking through the fields of flowers and, then, when we were driving home we saw a cute little place blooming with berries. We had to stop to pick some Marionberries. Marionberries are a hybrid blackberry created at Oregon State University.

It was a fun, fruity and delicious day.


But what to do with the berries?

I had to make some freezer jam.

Unfortunately, the jam smelled so good Sasha snuck one of the containers off the table. Luckily, she didn't get it open. But, if you look closely, you'll see the bite marks on the lid.




But, no thanks to Sasha, we still had lots of jam. So, then, what to do with the jam?

We had to make Danish crepes for a fun dinner.


Here's one of the finished crepes.

Then we spread some jam and sprinkled sugar over the top



Then we rolled it up


And spread a little more jam and sprinkled a little more sugar


FREEZER JAM:

5 cups of berries
2 cups of sugar (this is about half the sugar of "normal" recipes)
1 package of gelatin
1/2 cup water

Boil water and add sugar
Prepare gelatin (following instructions on package)
Combine fruit and gelatin
Cool and then keep in fridge

CREPES:

1 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar
zest of 1/2 of orange or lemon
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup of beer
3 eggs

Mix all dry ingredients and zest, gradually beat milk and beer into flour mixture until smooth. Beat eggs and add to batter. Grease a flat pan (we prefer cast iron but it's heavy). Pour enough batter to make a thin coating on the pan. Fry until the batter starts to "sweat" or moisten, flip it over using a large flat spatula. Serve with jam or syrup or even a cream cheese filling.

YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Spoonful of Reading

Want to make a bookmark for a going-away gift??? Here's how I did it.

Once again, Mackenzie is heading for France, and I wanted to give her something to say "Have a nice trip". And, since I love reading, what did I think of? Yep, a bookmark. Plus, I figured she'll have plenty of time to read on the planes and trains or any time she's traveling. So, I took some ribbon in her favorite color: PINK!

And, stuffed it with lavender - so she can smell the wonderful aroma whenever she's reading.


Plus, I tied a spoon with Lady Liberty on one side and a "France" spoon on the other.

So now she'll always have something to eat with, especially while she's reading...

I know, it's no wonder I'm so chubby, but reading and eating are two of my favorite past times. And I hope Mackenzie will enjoy a few of my favorite things too.

Have a FUNtastic trip Mackenzie!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We Did It - 26 miles

The crowd is ready to get going on the 16th Annual Providence Bridge Pedal. Providence Bridge Pedal is the second-largest community bicycle ride in the country and the third largest in the world. More than 18,000 cyclists were expected to participate this year and the crowd was estimated at near 20,000.

Pedalers are getting antsy waiting for the start of the Providence Bridge Pedal


Riders pedal away from Portland toward The St. John's Bridge.


It's a beautiful way to spend a day - seeing the city from atop a no-car bridge


A peek of the city from the St. John's Bridge


I probably could have prepared better. Three bike rides: one in Sunriver (13 miles) and two on the Springwater Corridor in Portland, Oregon (each 10 miles). Not nearly enough to prepare for scaling 8 city bridges and a 26 mile bike ride but . . . I did it.
Finally . . . the FINISH LINE!!!

The hardest bridge for me was the St. John's Bridge but I shifted down to first gear and made it the entire way...without walking. That was my goal. And, the slow, steep terrain took its toll on me. I was definitely feeling the burn...but I didn't give up. I just kept telling myself, "If I can run a half-marathon, I can ride a full one." I just didn't take into account the different muscles you use for biking, as compared to running. And, I'm hoping I'm not going to be too sore tomorrow.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Mountainside


This was the sight that greeted us as we climbed out of the car.


It was a gray day but we brightened it up by visiting the Mountainside Lavender Farm. It was beautiful but I really wish you could smell the aromas wafting through the air when we opened the car door. It was wonderfully awe...romatic!

We walked through the fields, reading the labels of the different varieties of lavender and cutting the flowers to make bouquets to take home.






Friday, August 12, 2011

Earth-Friendly Friday


Some women love to sew others love to bake and still more love to garden. And we all want to share our passion with other people. So, here's one way you can make friends, share your passion and help protect the planet all at the same time: simply share seeds.

I like to call it sowing seeds of friendship. Most plants will produce seeds and there are usually so many seeds no one person could use them all. And, why would any gardener want to see their little "babies" go to waste? They wouldn't. So, why not dry the seeds out then put them in envelopes and give them as gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions?

Giving seeds will cut down on your gift-giving budget, reduce your consumption of costly mall products and be earth-friendly too.

Do you share seeds, cuttings or even flowers/fruits/vegetables from your garden?

If you do, this is an easy step: simply sow your seeds and build a community of gardeners.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Skin and Bones


That might sound like a scary story and perhaps it even looks a little frightening from the shingle dangling over the door. But, those of you who know me know I love scary stories. So maybe the name played a small part in us (me, my husband and a friend) ending up at the restaurant on Tuesday night--instead of pilates class--enjoying a glass of wine (or two) and dinner, plus yes, even tho' I'm supposed to be on a diet, dessert.

The fare was unusual for me, even though this chef owned and operated restaurant boasts that it serves from the abundance of Pacific Northwest flavors. Maybe I'm the odd duck, or at least the odd Oregonian, who doesn't normally eat bison, rabbit or pork belly.


But, odd or not, it was a special treat going out to dinner in the middle of the week. The food was yummy and different. I felt a little daring taking a bite out of a bison.

And, if you're in Portland, you might want to get to Skin & Bones. I know, it sounds like a diet place - but, believe me, it's not.

Check out their menu here.

And, if you do visit Skin & Bones, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Word for Wednesday - Game for Writers

Word of the Day: Exine

Guess what it means.


Do you know?


Simply scroll down for the answer.



Further.


Further.



Still further.


Exine is the outer coating of a spore. I know, who knew?

Not me.

It was my daughter who taught me that one and I didn't even believe her. I said, "I've never heard that word before." I even had to look it up for myself. If you don't believe it, you can look it up too. Just click here. And THANKS for playing :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Getting Ready

Monday night we went for a ten mile bike ride. That might sound like one crazy workout to some. But, it's really just a crazy warm-up for Sunday. The Portland Bridge Pedal is just around the corner.

And, while we've done the Bridge Pedal before, in the past we've only been brave enough to ride over the six city bridges or 13 miles but NOT this year. We're stepping - or should I say pedaling - it up.

We're going UP 8 bridges - or 26 miles. That sounds like plenty of pedaling to me but my husband wanted to do the 36 mile ride. I wasn't sure about the extra 10 miles.

I said, "baby steps", maybe next year we can do the 36 miles and cross all 10 bridges. And, if you don't like bike riding or 13, 26 or 36 miles sounds like too much - there's also the 5 mile Bridge Stride. So, you can feel free to walk a five mile route and see the city from the top of a bridge or two. And, if you don't want to walk - you can always volunteer. Just an idea.

We don't mind doing the bridges more than once especially since the money goes to a good cause - or two of them. The beneficiaries are Providence Heart and Vascular Center, and the BTA or the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

So, we'll be getting some exercise, seeing the city from a perfect vantage point and helping a couple good causes all at the same time.

What about you? Are you planning anything out of the usual for this weekend?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rise of Planet of the Apes - Movie Review Monday

Loved it. I asked my kids to go but one said, "A remake of a remake..." But, I didn't care. I thought all the Planet of the Apes shows were at least entertaining. Of course, I never did see the "original" remake of Planet of the Apes in 2001.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes was sort of a Frankenstein movie but even better. I loved the concept of the ALZ-112 being designed to help Alzheimer's patients and Will's dad brought the emotional aspect that these stories need to the screen and even made the purpose of developing the "medication" reasonable and understandable.

{SPOILER ALERT}
Overall, it was a very entertaining story; however, I didn't like how Cesar was willing to leave his "Dad" behind.

But, I thought the CG was really well done and amazing. All-in-all, it was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I remember all the old Planet of the Apes shows. Growing up I loved Charlton Heston and the stories of the Apes ruling the world.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Earth-Friendly Friday

Want to see a boat made out of 12000 plastic bottles? Check it out here.
http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Plastiki from Glenn McElhose on Vimeo.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Good and Bad

Half of this treat is good: the strawberries are healthy and tasty
Then the chocolate is the bad (but extra-yummy part of this treat).

Here's how you make this GAD treat: Good/Bad.

Simply dip the strawberries in the chocolate for a yummy-impressive looking treat.

Making Chocolate Covered Strawberries is so simple and it looks so chic. Here's how I did it:

First I melted chocolate with a couple tablespoons of water (which makes the chocolate glossy instead of dull)

Then I put them on wax paper and cooled them in the fridge.

They look impressive and they are so easy to make

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

FAIL - Making Candy Lollipops

Kind of like making Lemonade out of Lemons - this was a transformation from a fail to funtabulous. Who doesn't love candy popcorn balls?

I sprayed the molds with Pam and tried to make some suckers
I made the candy out of sugar, corn syrup, water and flavoring

2 cups of sugar
2/3 cups corn syrup
1/2 cup water

I melted the sugar and corn syrup on the stove with the water. Then I poured it into the molds and let it cool in the fridge. Unfortunately the candy didn't set up so I turned it into candy popcorn balls.



They were yummy.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kara's Graduation Party


Kara graduated from Warner Pacific College with a B.S. in Psychology.

And to celebrate I wanted to make a special cake. I wanted it to look like a cap from her graduation.

First I baked two cakes.
Then I covered them in homemade buttercream frosting.

I also used sugar paper and fondant
I piped around the space where the two cakes came together.


And just in case no one wanted cake and ice cream, we had chocolate covered strawberries too. No better way to celebrate than with some yumilicious food.