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It Spring. Bring It.

March 21, 2021

First day of Spring. Either today or yesterday… I never know. In any case… a rebirth. In about a billion ways in 2021. We are ready. WE ARE READY, I tell ya. We don’t want just any Spring. We want the mother of all Springs.. a truly new beginning. We are ready to leave last year in the dust.

With that….

Yesterday was one for the Spring record books… sky-wise, weather-wise, redbud-wise. I went out in the afternoon on an errand to the Coop, but took one look at that sky and hung a hard right… headed south instead, had to see what the arboretum was looking like on such a day.

And this is what:

(Well, this is our front yard sycamore.. I just love the seasonal transition when many of the trees still don’t have leaves, but Spring is definitely in the air.)

And some trees DO have leaves, and some trees have blossoms, even…

Here’s a pretty buncha blooms….

This is becoming one of my favorite spots to take a pic… Lake Spafford…

A couple of redbuds are still hanging in there… over by the law school:

Love the craggy oak branches.. and clouds and sky and sun…

And the photographer.. she of the grey hair!

And see? Totally ready for a change.

(*) A few days late….

I should really title this blog: OMG! I am not sure I’ve ever actually made corned beef and cabbage… have always liked it… but never made it myself… that I can remember (may have in a previous life, like, John years, when it was all about cooking)… certainly not in recent decades.

So… stumbled upon a NYT recipe that looked good (not hard to stumble upon a recipe for corned beef and cabbage this time of year; you’d have to go well out of your way to avoid a recipe for corned beef and cabbage right about now) so tried it.. and holy cow, it was fantastic. And so easy peasy I’d be embarrassed to take any credit. But I’ll take some for perfect execution.

We started with this brand from the Coop.

And plunked it in the Crockpot for 4 hours on high with a cup and a half of dry white wine and the package’s spice pack.

At the four hour point, added potatoes, carrots and cabbage:

Three hours later (after a mix of high and low settings), slathered it in a mustard and honey mixture and put it under the broiler for 5 minutes or so until it bubbled and caramelized.

And that was it.

Found some homemade dark beer in the refrigerator that Bob and Tam made (that we got almost four years ago but forgot about) and served it all up.

It was tender enough to cut with a fork. The veggies were perfect. The flavors were insane. Definitely could have eaten twice what we served.

We’ll go at it again tomorrow, and froze two more dinners’ worth for sometime.

I mean really.

Hard to have it only once a year.

Cutester Cabootsters

March 19, 2021

I don’t really know how to spell cabootster.

Here are some of my favorites of the grand nieces and nephew this past month. Just this past month… I have so many favorites, I could just fill volumes.

River…

Mags…

Juni….

And a couple others…

Lipoma Nation

March 18, 2021

The good news: I don’t have cancer. The other news: it appears I have gone from zero to three lipomas in just a few weeks, which, I guess is kinda weird, but not life threatening, so all things considered, I’m okay with that.

lipoma is a lump under the skin that occurs due to an overgrowth of fat cells. Doctors consider lipomas to be benign tumors, which means that they are non-cancerous growths.

I guess I also need to wait just a little bit to get confirmation of these things.. they’ll confirm through ultrasounds, but nobody (two doctors) seems too concerned, so I’m taking my cues from them. Their nonchalance is good enough for me.

Also… sounds like weight could be an issue, so now I have a medical reason to drop some of that extra covid weight.

~~

Speaking of low cal dinners!! Look what I made tonight:

Cream… parmesan cheese… butter… yes. But also some other good stuff!

Green Food Day

March 17, 2021

A most pleasant coffee and scone this morning with Vicki… on this, St. Patrick’s Day. (That would be a mocha, white chocolate, almond scone, I believe.. but all I tasted was green.)

This popped up in my Facebook memories today.. a post from 11 years ago, back when [non-Irish] moms made St. Patrick’s Day fun for their [non-Irish] eleven-year olds…

I Hate Fish Sauce

March 16, 2021

I can remember cooking with fish sauce in a previous life. When John and I traveled to Thailand — sometime last century — we attended a wonderful cooking school in Bangkok and learned a lot about cooking Thai food over the course of an entire week. Thai cuisine relies upon fish sauce for a lot of its character. I think most of Southeast Asia — maybe all of Asia — uses fish sauce. I don’t remember finding it nauseating. For years we cooked up great Thai dinners. Always had the fish sauce handy. Maybe it’s another cruel by-product of aging, that our tastes change?

Anyway… two hours post dinner, I’m still tasting fish sauce, still smelling fish sauce, it seems to have permeated everything and I think we might have to sell our house and move to a new fish-sauce-free home. I’m seriously losing it here. And I blame the fish sauce, and Christopher Kimball.

Though maybe we ate bad shrimp? Maybe it’s just another of Kimball’s foul recipes? (In fairness, I think this is only the second bomb.)

Here’s how it went down:

Prepped some finely chopped ginger, sliced shallot, diced garlic, thinly sliced jalepeno and some pepper:

Then caramelized some sugar over a hot burner with a little bit of water until mahogany in color (be brave, Kimball cautioned, let it smoke and turn dark brown). This was early in that process…

Here’s just a few seconds later…

Then comes 3T of fish sauce (off heat). After a moment, add the pre-prepped mix, return to the heat, and cook for just about 30 seconds. Then, finally, add the shrimp, crank to high, and cook until opaque (about a minute or two.. it was hard to tell because the sauce covered it pretty well):

Yum, right? Even though it smelled like fish sauce, I was hopeful the caramel sauce would neutralize the salt and smell and produce something sweet….

…. but no. It was rather bitter, fishy and decidedly not sweet.

Jim’s comment: edible.. but a 2 (on our 4-star scale).

And my hair smells like fish sauce.

OCD, GSD Kinda Day

March 15, 2021

What to blog, what to blog….

:: It was a GSD kinda day and that felt great. Cranked thing after thing out. Checked so many things off the list, then refined lists, and consolidated lists, and holy cow.. productive.

:: Reintegrated weights, bands, reps, and all manner of strength exercises back into the daily routine. Righteous feelin’.

:: Finished making dinner at 1:15pm, including, to Jim’s amusement, setting the table. Thanks Crock-Pot. Funniest line of the day goes to Jim: “What, you couldn’t get the dishes done ahead of time?” It was an arrow right into the heart of my fussy OCD-itude.. which I totally got (and loved). (Note: I am tending to get way out there on the OCD scale these days… wonder if it’s a sign of aging?)

And honestly.. that’s about the whole of it.

Here’s a pic of the slow cooker shredded green chile, green salsa chicken w/ jalepenos, garlic, green onions, cilantro, various spices and assorted accoutrements, over yummy brothy rice.

Magic Day

March 14, 2021

For some reason, I noted it as Magic Day in my calendar, so I’ll stick with that. More significant than the name, however, is the reality: Jim and I are now two weeks post our second Pfizer vaccination and are officially, responsibly, safely, ecstatically vaccinated. We are allowed to mix with others who are also two-weeks-post-final-vaccine-shot.. like, indoors! Like, any which way we want. We are good. Who’s ready for some socializing?

I have to admit to a small sense of apprehension.. not because I don’t believe fully that we are okay to mingle (or at least that the risk is as reasonable as we could hope for). I have full confidence in the medical science of vaccinations. But because the forced social distance has served as a convenient limitation on… oh… just doing things that sometimes are easier not to do. It’s always worth doing those things, of course, like planning & going on trips, having dinner parties, taking spontaneous road trips to see folks, attending concerts & games, or town halls & lectures… and …. all of those things — while worthwhile — require some degree of effort. We’ve been off the hook for an entire year. We’ve cocooned. We’ve burrowed into our selves, our homes, in our comfy clothes. No rushing out to meetings. No make up. No showing up. We’ve been blissfully anti-social, we were told to be anti-social… in a physical sense, anyway.

And now we don’t have to be.

We’ve said for an entire year: I can’t wait to be able to see people!! Or we’ve said: I can’t wait to hug my friends!! Or we’ve said: I can’t wait to travel!

And now we can.

Of course, I’m aching to see Peter and to feel like he’ll be safe when he travels. I’m desperate for him to start grad school for reals, to start meeting his people. I’m dying to fly to Chicago and rent a car and drive to Ann Arbor and stay at the Burnt Toast Inn on Williams and spend days walking around the campus and the town and eat in his favorite places. (And to see and thank Lisa and Claire for taking such good care of him!) I’m eager to get out of the house and on the road. I’m eager.. I really am.. to see people. And.. my comfy little introvert self (dare I say lazy? or maybe just procrastinate-y?) also will need nudges to make things happen, because there are no excuses now.

Well.

That is a challenge I’m happy to have. Bring it on, normal life. I’m (almost) ready for you.

~~

So here’s something very cool. My friend Chuck’s girlfriend Lisa’s (and she’s my friend too, since I visited them in Hawaii!) mom (Lois Barnes) is an artist. A very talented artist who paints gorgeous things (including Bluff Cove, high above and on the edge of which they used to live in Palos Verdes). During this whole pandemic year, she’s also been painting (the three of them live in Pennsylvania now) and produced this one — a reflection on this moment in history. She hits all the high points (and so many low points) in the below (a screen shot that I just grabbed off Facebook):

If you have any interest in a 16″x16″ canvas or metal print of this, let me know and I’ll send you the link to her online store.

I think it’s pretty cool. Every time I look at it, I see new stuff.

Mine just keeps getting longer….

And Jim has the benefit of an in-house hair cutter.. me! I cut his hair today, for .. maybe the 5th or 6th time this year? Looking pretty sharp!

(I cropped a photo that I took from a distance.. which is why it’s a bit blurry…)

High on Pot

March 12, 2021

After looking at this pot in our front yard for the past month or so.. I decided it just wasn’t quite right:

I think I thought it was too small. And maybe too shiny.

So… the other day I asked a neighbor where they got their big front yard pot, which I thought was a better implementation… and found out there is a place up the road in Vacaville called Pottery Paradise, right at Pena Adobe Road (have never noticed it before, though it’s very visible from I-80) (that white car’s on I-80):

I found about a dozen that I thought would work… here are some:

I picked one, finally. They loaded it in my car — not a trivial undertaking. It took three people and a fork lift:

I called Ruben on my way home, hoping he might be able to drop by and help Jim and me unload it. He showed up with Little Ruben and the two of them carried it themselves (no fork lift) and got it to its new home:

We found a new home for the shiny bronze one….. right on the front porch! Win win.