Friday, December 28, 2012

Things in Jars

I've been buying canning jars lately. I find something very satisfying about putting food in jars. And it seems to be a theme of the this week - blogwise and reallifewise. I guess having the week off is turning me into a jar using fool.

Squash soup in jars!  And let's take a minute to wax poetic about squash soup. Holy crap, can there be anything better? Particularly, it seems, when made with homemade broth. Ginger and butternut squash and lots and lots of lime juice. Perfection with or without the jar!

While we're talking jars, let's check in on our sauerkraut.

Sigh. Making sauerkraut is not even remotely satisfying. We're 48 hours in and there are still weeks, perhaps even a MONTH to go!

(Clearly, things are pretty exciting around here after a week off!)  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


So, I am embarking on my latest culinary adventure. Fermentation. It seems that eating billions of bacteria is extra good for you. I touched the surface of this in my happy homemaker blog , but aside from a couple batches of coconut milk yogurt, there hasn't been much bacteria growing in my house (at least not on purpose). But, it's time to right that wrong. I think I've done a pretty good job of cleaning house (ie, most of the bad bacteria seems to be out of my system) and now I need to remember to add more of the good stuff. Well, rumor has it that rotten cabbage has lots of the good stuff!

Now, I'd love to add to this blog a laundry list of 100s of things that fermentation will make better, but my quick google search was vague. I think essentially you're increasing the good bacteria content in your digestive track which improves digestion, vitamin and mineral absorption, and basically, well obviously, improving life. And who (besides a few annoyingly happy people) doesn't need a better life.

I have made great strides in improving my digestion in the last 2 years. I think it's good to continue to fight the good fight.  Bring on the critters.  (BTW, there is an amazing New Yorker article from October this year that discusses bacteria and what our war on bacteria is doing to our bodies. According to the article we have 3 pounds of healthy bacteria chugging away in our bodies - helping "manufacture vitamins and patrol our guts to prevent infections; they help to form and bolster our immune systems, and digest food". Lack of these bacteria may cause a host of diseases.  I highly recommend the article)

Anyhow, bacteria yes. Let's rot some cabbage.

It's super easy to make. Chop some cabbage. Add some salt. squish it up for a while with your fingers. Add a bit of carrot and garlic. And then the sad part. Wait and wait and wait. For weeks!

So there is my sauerkraut story. I will be sure to let you know how it turns out. And BTW, those are shot glasses on the top. They are full of water and holding the cabbage below the brine level.    

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Merry

I had to make a couple cards yesterday, so we had a photo shoot and tried to pull ourselves kicking and screaming into the Christmas spirit!

Uhm, I'm trying to nap here!

NO!  I was not beating him.

Second try.
Even I got excited!

Seems photo booth gives you a mirror image of the world!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Christmas Nightmare

Shall we have a little sing along?

So, there are many reasons one might complain about Christmas and/or December. Today we're going to focus on something that has been driving me crazy all day, Christmas carols! Now, I'm not complaining about beautiful Christmas carols sung at a festive Christmas event or chipper carolers strolling around the neighborhood spreading light and cheer.  I'm happy to listen to a little Vince Guaraldi once a year or so (special Vince Guaraldi shout out to my girl Tracy!). What I am talking about are the ubiquitous, perhaps obligatory Christmas songs piped into each and every retail establishment during the month of December. So, one goes shopping, paying attention to the task at hand (today it was making some returns) and really not even hearing the music.  But unfortunately, your subconscious isn't so oblivious. The song works it's way around your little brain cells. The next think you know you're singing an endless loop of some terrible song.

Today, I have spent the entire day singing 'oh by gosh by golly, it's time for.......' And then I run out of words. So I start humming, da da da da da da da.... And then I run out of melody, and what happens then???  Do I move onto another fascinating topic, NO!!!! The loop starts again... 'oh by gosh by golly.....'. And it goes on and on and on. Occasionally things get really exciting and another xmas tune will join in the melody somewhere among the da das, but after I while we go right back to, well, you know where.

And if it isn't this song, it's another snippet of some other stupid song. Over and over, for the entire month.

Help! And not in the Beattle's sense.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The White Elephant

So, most of you who know me (the real me as opposed to the blog me), know that Christmas is not a personal favorite of mine.  In fact, the entire month of December could be cut from the calendar and you wouldn't get much (any) complaint from me. But one Christmas 'tradition' I do like is a white elephant party!

At a white elephant party, everyone brings a joke gift. Then everyone draws a number. You chose gifts in the order of the numbers. When it's your turn, you either open a new gift, or steal a gift from someone else. Gift can be stolen twice and then their 'locked' (ie the person who stole it for the second time gets to keep it).

We used to have white elephant parties at work every year. My favorite present that I received was a bronze monkey soap dish. It's a standing monkey and the soap dish rests in his hands. Inside the soap dish the gifter placed a bar of soap and a box of raisons! I got it years and years ago, have changed jobs and desks multiple times and it still sits on my desk (I'll try to take a photo and post..... stay tuned). Well, that used to be my favorite white elephant present. Until yesterday when I got this beauty.........

No, it is not an animal on my head!  It's a hat. I guess it's from goodwill and is faux everything, leather (which you can't see) and fur! I will be SO HAPPY on cold weather dog walks when my head is blissfully warm.

In other news, I scored 160 in a words with friends game (for those of you who dont know words with friends, it's essentially a 160 point scrabble word! It's probably a good 50 points higher than any other word I've played!

As you can imagine, with all this excitement, it's time for a nap. Tune in soon, when I discuss the financial impact of my trip to the emergency room and maybe (as an extra bonus), post a picture of the monkey soap dish!.. whooopp!!! (Who knew an Ottoless blog could be so exciting.) 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lazy Sunday

It's feeling like it's time for a blog, but I really have nothing to say. So, in honor of this cold, wet gloomy sunday, I thought I'd post some lazy sunday photos.

(Warning, these may be photos only a mother could love!)

If this doesn't make you warm and fuzzy inside, your heart is cold!

Why yes, his head is resting on my feet!

Hi mom! (everyone repeat after me, ahhhhhhhhhhhhh?)

Daisy and Otto duking it out over who gets the bed.

Looking left.

Looking right (Is it safe to make the next move?)

Yes! Onto my lap to watch 24!
Daisy and Jack Bauer.
 And speaking of 24, has anyone else watched it and noticed that the acting SUCKS and it is totally ridiculous, even sometimes laugh out loud funny.  And that Jack Bauer's very favorite word is 'NOW!!!!' (that's not to be confused with the word 'now'). As in, 'I need you to tell me where the bomb is NOW!!!!!'  Or 'I need to speak to the president NOW!!!!'  Or in one of the funnier scenes in the show 'KIM (his daughter), you need to shoot him NOW!!!!!' (screamed through a cell phone). Or has anyone noticed that Jack Bauer loves every sentence he utters so much that he needs to repeat it.

Turns out if you google jack bauer you get sites of Jack Bauer jokes. A few examples:

1. Passed out, surrounded by terrorists and nerve gas, and handcuffed to a table leg, Jack Bauer laughed to himself and said, "I have them right where I want them."

2. There is a deeper reason that Kim will not forgive Jack.  For years during her birthday and Christmas when Kim would look for presents Jack would just laugh to himself before finally telling her, "I give you my word."

3. When Jack Bauer goes to church to pray, he simply goes up the the priest and says, "Put him through"

4. All Video games now feature four difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Jack Bauer...No one has ever beaten the game on Jack Bauer.

Anywhoooo, if you haven't watched the show those mean nothing to you.

I will now end this babbling blog, as I have a lazy afternoon nap screaming my name NOW!!!! (No, jack bauer will not be joining me.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey. "Gobble, Gobble!"

Turkey place cards courtesy of True!
 Somehow, I managed to reach my ridiculously advanced age without having cooked a turkey! I'm not sure how that happened (well, 20 years of being a vegetarian may have contributed). But, with a couple years of meat cooking under my belt, this year I decided I needed to rectify that situation. In September, when my very favorite farm (Skagit River Ranch), began pre orders of their turkeys, I signed up, despite the fact that at the time I had no Thanksgiving plans or guests!   

I'll pause to give you the turkey's back story. My turkey had a good life. As my farmer wrote, it was a "healthy and happy turkey,...raised in sunshine and fresh air, on a spacious pasture". My turkey ate 25% of its diet in grass. The rest was organic spelt, emmer, wheat, peas, camolina, seaweed and sea salt!  (No, I have never heard of emmer and camolina, nor do I know why peas are good for turkeys.) My turkey could run. My turkey could fly. And, as everyone who saw me for the last couple weeks can attest, my turkey stressed me out!

Let's walk through out journey together.

Day 1, 'getting to know you'!
Mr. Turkey arrived on a cold wet Sunday frozen, wrapped in his plastic bag and a cute Skagit River Ranch logo freezer bag! The note that came with the turkey advised me that he would thaw 4 pounds per day. So, after a brief meet and greet photo op with his siblings, it was into the fridge for the 4 day defrost!
What  have we here?

Highly suspicious!

Otto and Daisy come to terms with brother turkey.
After 4 days of taking up way too much room in my fridge and turning from frozen turkey into limp biscuits, it was time for a trip to the spa. An ice cold salt/sugar bath is perfect for the skin! AND, it seems that ziplock makes 10 gallon bags (and 20 and 30) and they are perfect for brining.
Zip lock pool, prepping for spa treatment.

Mmm salt/sugar bath.
Glowing after a day at the spa!
Penny provides support as I apply post bath moisturizer (butter).
 Now, in looking at these pictures, you all are probably and possibly properly thinking turkey making is nothing but fun and games. But, let me assure you, these pictures do nothing capture the stress that went into each and every step of my turkey adventure. Let me detail some decisions that needed to be made along the way. (And let me add, as an aside, Google has a plethora of (frequently conflicting) answers to each and every one of these questions.)  

Where to thaw?
What brining sauce to use?
How long to brine?
What to brine in - pan? cooler? bag? refrigerator? some combination of? 
What kind of bag?  Does it need to be a special brining bag? What is food grade and what isn't?
Is the cooler food grade?
Do I need a bag inside the cooler? 
Where the heck to get a bag? (this involved two trips to Target and being sent to at least 3 locations within said, very large Target by no less than 4 different employees and a product locator device AND finally a Google search).

AND, we haven't even started the big stress yet. The questions continue, how to cook?  What to put on the turkey?  What temperature?  How long?  Where the heck do you stick a meat thermometer? It didn't help that the directions I got included a set that told me to cook the turkey for 15 minutes per pound and another that told me to cook for 12 minutes per pound (yes, that's an ENTIRE hour difference!)

THEN, there was the turning the turkey at 1 hour. No, my mother never did this, but it seems in 2012, you need to pick up a turkey that has been in the oven for an hour and use your hands to flip it over! (My mother's turkey also came with a plastic thermometer BUILTINTOTHEBIRD, that popped out to tell you it was done.)

And let's not even get started on the to baste or not to baste discussion! (Yes, that is a decision!)

In the end I would like to say it turned out perfectly. In truth, it probably did, but there were too many questions. Too many roads to follow. If I had a redo, there are some things I would do differently. But, the happy part is that next time I cook a turkey, it will be easy and perfect.

Is it brown enough/hot enough/cooked enough?

Or not so ALIVE and well (that can refer to me and the turkey).

Fortunately there was a real turkey carver who did a brilliant job with a very dull knife, removing one level of stress!
I'm really not sure how something that really only requires being stuck in the oven for multiple hours can be so insanely stressful.  But let's stop, deep breath in.... deep breath out..... and regroup and remember that merely one short blog ago I vowed to be Miss Glass Half Full, so I will end by stating the turkey was quite tasty. Today's breakfast of pumpkin pie and then lunch of left over turkey was even better. AND, I have two large batches of broth bubbling on the stove that will fill me with skin healing vitamins and nutrients. AND, even more importantly, Thanksgiving with lots of fun and full of great friends.

Thanks turkey and happy day after everyone!!

Hood canal table with view of canal through frosted window panes.
And a final cheer up for anyone who is still feeling a little stressed and wasn't sold by my glass half full ending. We'll finish today's very long blog with completely gratuitous, but insanely cute dog shots!

I love Otto with all my heart and soul, but it doesn't get much cuter than Penny.

This year I am thankful that my dog DID NOT pull the turkey carcass onto the floor.

The aliens flew in to watch the turkey prep!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Whine Whine Whine

Today we get to cover the 'Day in the Life' of an injured person. First, let me start with a little disclaimer. I know in the scheme of injuries, mine is minor. I am not permanently hurt or disfigured (well there might be a little permanent disfigurement). I am going to experience some minor discomfort for a few weeks and be back to normal. BUT, in the spirit of 'it's my blog and I can cry if I want to', let the whining begin!

Tuesday started out as a normal, even good day. I headed off to the gym in the early am. After some cleaning (the heavy weight kind not the tedious endless house cleaning kind) we started the work out - 7 rounds of 9 burpees, 9 high box jumps (24 inches) and 9 toes to bar (not to be confused with a WOD). The workout rocked. I was totally pushing myself. I was feeling so good I was doing 10 of everything instead of 9, and then happened. It happened so quickly I don't really know what I did. I guess somehow I caught a foot on the box (probably the right, because that side doesn't work properly) and then my left shin hit the box. And boom! It didn't hurt. It didn't feel like a really nasty fall, but the second I looked at my shin, I knew I was in trouble. Deep, nasty gauge!

Apologies for not having a picture of the actual gaping wound!

 Now, I'm one that pretty much refuses to go to the doctor. In my life I have found that in most cases, when you finally decide you have to go to the doctor for a specific reason, you end up being better as soon as you make the appointment. Or, even if you're not better, the doctor is worthless anyhow. But I was pretty sure this needed some attention.

So, a week into the new job, I called my boss to say I'd be late and headed to the emergency room. Where I proceeded to see $$ signs in front of my eyes every time the doctor blinked, some new person walked into my room, or they opened yet another package of something.

I walked out with 5 stitches! (Well, limped out and called a cab.)

In the intervening five days since, things have been exciting. I have sat on my increasingly sore ass with my leg elevated.

 I have whined about pain (even though it's really not that bad). I have whined about not being able to work out. I have whined about not being able to sleep properly. I have realized how much I move on a daily basis - walking, riding to work, crossfiting. I have watched bad tv and the Hunger Games (not bad). And I have felt generally out of sorts and lethargic.

In addition,  I have failed in my fight to convince the dog he doesn't need to be walked and settled for driving him to the park for very short walks.

Otto during the 'we don't need to walk' conversation

But, it's not all bad, one bright shiny spot in my otherwise grey week was the purchase of these beauties.

I am ridiculously excited about these!
And, we're about to enter Thanksgiving week. So I will pull myself up by my bootstraps (avoiding the shin), put all whining aside and bask in the glow of beauty, happiness, and the giving of thanks. I will think of all I have to be thankful for rather than bemoaning this minor set back. I will be Ms. Glass Half Full. And extra happy, because my glass will not only be half full, but I can measure exactly how much is in it!

Otto's excited to celebrate!
In other news, Happy Seventh Anniversary to Otto and me!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Halloween

I realize its not yet Halloween but Otto has been very excited so we went and got his costume last weekend and he has been wearing it all week!

Okay. That's not really how it happened. I had a party to go to and so I went to Goodwill to get some fixin's for my costume (I was bacon and eggs. Sorry no picture, but see below for my bottom quarter). While there I discovered this gem of a costume and thought Otto could round out our paleo Halloween!

He got to go to the party too! And as you can well imagine he was the hit of the party!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Losing My Sex Appeal

A couple years ago, after becoming an auditor, I wrote a post about how much sexier it was to be an investigator than an auditor (see here for a recap Titles) and how much more interesting people found the job investigator than auditor. And that has remained true throughout my audit career. Telling someone you're an auditor is an automatic conversation killer. Sometimes that's an advantage. But, if I'm speaking to someone I'm actually interested in, I frequently relive the glory days when I was an investigator and just give that as my job description.

Well that's been the last two years and now things are getting worse. I just accepted a new job in IT. Now, I realize that IT and IT nerds are kind of ironically cool these days. But, unfortunately, I'm not working in the sexy part of IT. I won't be designing smart phone applications or hip websites or computer games. I won't be hanging out with twenty something hipster geeks wearing tight jeans and flannel shirts with dirty hair. NO, I'm working with data. Not only data, but data quality. If you try to place the word 'sexy' in a sentence with the word 'metad....'

 Ack, look what happens!

Metadata. Metadata is what I will be working with. When you google metadata, you find it's 'data about data'. That's about 10 levels of unsexy. But guess what!?!  I'm super excited. And, as always, Otto will still love me.

Let's review this story in pictures.

The original me. 
My brethren, the current me.
Soon to be me.

And finally I will leave you with what every IT nerd dreams of being........ And maybe some day I will achieve. (Of course, I'd probably have to give up crossfit!)

I design apps!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Octomom Obsession!

Somehow I discovered this website called They have all these cool live streaming videos where you can see thinks like polar bears and brown bears fishing for salmon in Alaska. They even have a leaf drop foliage cam, which shows fall leaves, well, falling. But, the very coolest cam of all, is the PUPPY CAM!!!!

Eight great dane puppies were born 2 days ago. They will be raised to be service dogs for people with Multiple Sclerosis, individuals with Friedreich’s ataxia, and veterans with disabilities. And I have become completely obsessed!  They don't even do anything yet and I cannot stop watching! Something about it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside! I tune in at least once an hour to check in!  I'm sure you all want some pictures.

The mom's name is Chaos. She's a rock star. So much cooler than the (in)famous octomom.

If you look really closely at the two by themselves in the front, you'll see one has it's arm over the other! How could this not be exciting?

I don't think poor Chaos gets to sleep. At all times at least a few of the puppies are eating! Or trying to get the proper placement to eat, which seems to be challenging. (Their eyes are closed and their legs aren't really working properly yet).

Is there anything about this picture that isn't cute cute cute!

All 8. Their stomachs seem to be about 90% of their bodies, they move with a swimming motion. Sometimes they get stuck on their backs and have to figure out how to get upright. OMG!  That's the best part.
Anyhow, I'm sure you're thinking how could all that be interesting and I will admit that not much is happening, but I cannot stop watching!

In other dog news, I was on jury duty this week. this dog was chosen for the trial. I was not, fortunately! 

And finally, we'll leave dogs for a minute for some food news, I finally made paleo pad thai from my very favorite cook book, Well Fed. Uhm, wow, crazy good!!!! the noodles are spaghetti squash and the sauce is made from almond butter.  Once again I wonder, why everyone doesn't eat this way!

I think that might be my exciting week! Well, actually there was some more excitement, including one night where I stayed up PAST MIDNIGHT ON A SCHOOL NIGHT, but alas for you, none of that made it into pictures.