Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stuffing Stockings

My future Mother-in-law, Ginny, invited us all to stuff stockings yesterday for the local shelters and homeless kids around Seattle. She had the largest division with over 500 stockings filled! We had so much fun and of course it felt good to give back as well. Last year I volunteered to tutor kids in low income housing projects and I loved it, but it became too difficult for me to do once a week with my own work schedule, taking classes and having a new home so I had to stop doing it after a year. I am now looking for some volunteering activity that is perhaps once a month or I can sign up on days I know I'm free, so that's one of my goals for this next year. Remember, New Year's Resolutions are coming up soon. I've always like New Years Resolutions, it's a time to re-evaluate and see if there are things you can do better in the year to come--it makes me feel good to know I'm actively working on myself and making note of it.

We've got our spa Christmas party at our house tonight so I made my very first gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting. We'll see how that tastes tonight. I also made one of my favorite pasta salads with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and arugula, but this time I added some salami and extra basil as well. We like it because it's so tangy. I made truffles this week with Sarah and Morgan--Caramel salt, oreo, toffee, kahlua and peanut butter. I'm terrible at making them, despite them tasting good, and I will never make them again. What a pain in the butt!! They are ugly too. Really ugly. The lasagna recipe I promised to report on turned out to be incredible and now my current favorite lasagna and the one I will use from now on. Some of the secrets to it were less noodles, both beef and pork, three kinds of cheese, fresh herbs, red wine and lots of good tomatoes. I also simmered the sauce for 3 hours before I even got started on the assembly of it--it was so good!

I'll be student assisting in a couple of CC classes this week so I'll take pictures and report on what we make. That is if I can get through the snow to get over to Beacon Hill. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Celia's Gingerbread House

Celia and I made a date to build a Gingerbread house this week. For a kid that can't buy all the candy in the world she wants, this is a time where she can pick out all the candy she's ever wanted to try and not have to then go and eat it all. Which is why there isn't much of the actual gingerbread part of the house you can actually see. Still, it's very cute. Celia and Cypress went to see Santa this week as well and although Cypress doesn't cry anymore, she still looks terrified of Santa. I can see that--I mean he's sort of strange and he gets all up in your face and he might have terrible breath. So glad I'm an adult and my Santa sitting days are over. And I know my hair is pink, for those of you that haven't seen me in a while, it's supposed to be that way.

We had a great dinner this week of steaks and arugula with some excellent blue cheese from PFI. I'll be making a new lasagne recipe tomorrow night and give pics and and update. This is also a pic of the beautiful sunsets we've been having lately.

Also, we've made it to the dodgeball showdown -not sure how that happened-but that will be tonight on KBUTT Channel 5. Don't bother looking for it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Marathons, tattoos and carbonara!! Oh my!

Thanksgiving went smoothly this year, not too much work and pretty relaxing if you ask me. Lee and I made the majority of food for dinner, but family members brought things like pies and wine and salads which helped a ton. We made two turkeys, seared duck, spanish scalloped potatoes, kale with bacon, mushroom and sausage stuffing and mushroom soup. Everything was so good--aside from the fact that I'm not a big fan of turkey unless it comes on a sandwich, so I didn't eat much of that. I did, however, eat my weight in pumpkin pie, caramel apple pie, cherry pie, pumpkin cheesecake, creamy jello yumminess that doesn't have a name and pecan pie. Then, I snacked on those things and more carbs before the Seattle Half Marathon, you know to do the carbo load thing. Which gave me the energy to finish the half marathon, Yay! I did it in under 4 hours and that included waiting in line 20 minutes for the porta potty. Horrible. Yuck. I am proud of myself and for me, it was harder than the triathalon I did a few years ago. The constant pounding on the pavement with no stopping or stretching and going as fast as you can was pretty rough on me. Apparently the banana and protein bars I ate weren't enough because later that day (after a tasty Guinness) I nearly passed out from low blood sugar and thank goodness Lee was there to take care of me for the rest of the day. I was pretty much out of it for a good 24 hours. Live and learn, I guess. So I'd like to say the half marathon was successful, but I wish I hadn't gotten sick.

Lee got his second tattoo from Josh at Slave to the Needle, best tattoo shop in Seattle! It's the Douglas crest and it looks so good-- Josh is a great artist. And I've finally figured out what I want for my next one as well-took me a while. Don't ask--you'll see pics when I get it done.

We've been making some really good pasta dishes lately. Katie came over and made us spaghetti with a traditional meat sauce. I never ate spaghetti or red sauces growing up-my Mom didn't really like them and so I never knew how good they could be--now I crave red sauce all the time. I also made the best carbonara I've ever had, better than any restaurant and even what I had in Italy. I took some spaghetti we got at the Ballard market, imported from Italy, and added fresh local eggs, parmesan, cream, pepper, Gabe's guanciale cut into lardons, criminis sauteed in white wine and peas. Now I know traditionally it doesn't have peas or mushrooms, but that's how I like it. And fresh eggs and pancetta or guanciale make all the difference. It's a hearty meal, but I can't stand ordering it when we go out because it's always got that awful, pasty, heavy, no taste cream sauce and old eggs and oscar meyer bacon. I pretty much stay away from cream sauces in restaurants--they don't do a very good job at making it.