Thursday, November 17, 2011


I was born here.  It's where my sense of home kicks in.  It's the place I feel a comfortable symmetry, a belonging.  I've come to realize that every time I leave this little bit of earth, things never feel quite right.  I've been out of sync since 2006.  I am going to do everything within my power to change that in the coming year.  Being away from home and loved ones is not working for me. 

In fact, it's killing my spirit. 

Time to remedy all of that.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Simple Courtesy. A Thing of the Past?

                                                                              (This image found here.)

Is it just me, or is there minimal empathy and consideration for others?  I run into this wall of rudeness and poorly veiled contempt in many places where I'd expect at least a modicum of courtesy.  It's missing in how neighbors treat one another and how many go about daily life.  When did it become commonplace to nearly run someone off the road in heavy traffic or cut in front of the line with nary a glance back, like that's assumed or warranted. 
What about loud vehicles with thunderous audio systems booming through quiet, sleepy neighborhoods at the most inappropriate hours?  Is that now the accepted?  Empathy is history.  You might see civility occasionally, but examples of manners and kindness are just more rare.

Case in point:  I was at the deli counter waiting for the attendendant.  I could see the staff were busy in back, and I was in no hurry.  Someone from the adjoining bakery called to their attention that a customer was at the counter.  One of the young men said something grumbly not quite under his breath, then slunked and shuffled over, unable to contain his annoyance.  He then proceeded to look at me with brows raised and a self-satisfied smirk, in lieu of the customary "May I help you?" greeting.  I chalked it up to, "Maybe he's had a bad day."  I can relate, and chose to let it go at that.  I asked him for a pound of roast beef.  He went on with the order with no response until he slapped the meat on the scale. 

The weight--.89 lbs.

Him; "That enough."  It wasn't a question.  Once again with the smirky-brows.

Me; "Sure, it doesn't have to be perfect.  That'll be great!"

He puts the order in the plastic bag, affixes the tag, and tosses the thing on the counter.  As I scoop it up, I smile and say, "Thanks!  Have a nice day!"  With a genuine smile, mind you.

You could feel the apathy rising off of him in waves.  It was palpable.  No response.  No, "Piss off!"  Nothing. 

I wanted to throttle him with a plastic bagful of sliced roast beef!  I should have spoken to his manager.  I've worked this type of job.  The general public is not always a picnic.  Retail can suck the life out of you.  But, I'd never interacted with this kid before.  There was no reason for his disdain toward me.

He gets one more chance.  If this is his standard, I'll have to say something to his boss.  Or  better yet, I'll speak to my fierce little neighbor, his department co-worker.  She will work his tuchis to death, an/or badger him endlessly. 

He'll wish he was working the toy department during Christmas week.

She works circles around all the people in that deli and she's at least my age.  She won't make him do anything she wouldn't do.

I love that little fireball!

He will never know what hit him.

                                                            (This image found here.)

And now back by popular demand--or not:  Sunday Serenade!!!11!

The general public is a bit difficult to tolerate at times!  ;-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Holy Ravioli!

(How to make a lovely meal in fifty-'leventy easy steps!)

Oh, the things I do for entertainment! 

I haven't done a food post in a while, so fasten your seat belts.  It's sure to be quite a ride!  ;)

First, we'll start with some simple meatless sauce.

Grab a large stock pot or a heavy soup pot and have it ready to do some work.

I like to start with two carrots, two stalks of celery, one medium onion and half a bell pepper of any color all julienned and then cut across again.  Not quite fine, but pretty small.  Next crush a couple of decent sized cloves of garlic, more or less according to preference(I always use more!)  Add a couple of good pinches of sea salt and a tablespoon of red chili flakes.  In a heavy pot, heat three tablespoons of nice extra virgin olive oil and saute these ingredients together until the onion is a bit caramelized.

While this is happening, time to prepare an herb pouch.  In a small muslin bag, place two to three sprigs each of fresh thyme, oregano, and rosemary.  At this point, add three or four bay leaves and any other herbs you may like for a nice sauce to serve up.  I had a few little leaves on two of my basil plants that actually looked somewhat worthy, so I slipped them on in as well.  Tie the little sack tight, you'll be needing it soon.

Here's where I add two cans of crushed tomatoes; 28 oz. each.  Stir them into the mixture well to de-glaze the pot and get all that good flavour that's stuck to the pan.  The acid in the tomatoes will take care of that!  Smash the bits of tomato to encourage break down and add a sprinkle of turbinado sugar and two tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley or one teaspoon of dried parsley.

Go ahead; add some butter.  You know you want to!  ;)
. Remember that herb pouch?  It's time to tuck it into the sauce!  Just slip it under the surface and push it down with a spoon.  Reduce the flame to simmer and keep an eye on it.
Stir occasionally; blah,blah, blah!

Now we make the filling for the ravioli.  You can use just about anything you think sounds good.  I happened to have some grilled chicken breasts, and some beautiful fresh spinach.  I thought these would work great for this, so that's what I used this time.  The farmer's markets are in full swing and my measly little garden is as well, so having some wonderfully fresh ingredients is such a treat.  Winter months here make it a challenge to keep the veggie ratio in our meals. 
I'm not a fan of canned vegetables.  Thank goodness for frozen!

Slice the chicken breast against the grain, tilting the blade at a 45 degree angle,  creating strips about 1/8 inch wide.  Cut these cross-wise at about 1/8 inch intervals, then just chop them a bit.  You want the pieces to be small, but not shredded to add some body to the filling.  Make sure when cooking your chicken breast for this not to over-cook it so as not to dry it out.
Next chop the spinach.  This is without a doubt the easiest part of this project!  :)

Don't forget to stir the sauce!
In a medium sized bowl combine the chicken, approximately 1 cup whole milk ricotta, 3/4 cup grated whole milk mozzarella,and 1/2 cup grated parmagino reggiano.

In a small bowl crack a large egg.  I do this separately so you don't ruin the rest of the mixture with a bloodied egg.  Beat the egg and add to the other ingredients.  Fold together and set aside.

Finally, we come to the ravioli part!  Whew!

Now, I could tell you how well this recipe worked out for me.  In reality, it was way too much for what you get. However, just to prove I'm nuts, here's some photographic evidence to confirm this well-known fact.
Instead, I recommend that you try this recipe.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup very hot water

Combine all this in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, take some time to add some good pinot noir to the sauce.  Of course, you first need to taste-test the wine to determine whether it's sauce-worthy. 

( Hey, Mom-Mom!  Thanks for being my mentor, and the best grandmother ever!)
(Hey, Jackie!)
Go on--after all this effort, you deserve it!

Now we are ready for the dough!
Cut the dough into equal pieces.  Work it slightly, adding a little extra flour as necessary, as well as handling the dough minimally.  You don't want to make it too rubbery.

Shape the dough in preparation for rolling.  I used an automated pasta machine.  A roller pin works just as well, just roll it as thin as you can, approximately 1/16th of an inch thick.

At this point you'll want to ready the pasta water.  In a large stock pot, combine 12 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt.  I know it sounds like a lot, but since it's home made pasta, you'll want to flavor it well.

Place rolled out sections onto a board covered with wax paper that's been lightly dusted with flour.

Grab the bowl of filling and scoop about a heaping tablespoon amount onto the rolled out dough at 2 1/2 inch intervals. 

Cover the dough and the filling with another layer and work out any air bubbles between the two...

like so.

Load a spider with the ravioli and lower gently into briskly boiling water until the little pillows float for about 2-3 minutes.

They should look like this.
Scoop them out and drain well.

Dab off any excess water with a paper towel, then serve up the marinara.  Sprinkle with a bit of the parmagiano reggiano.

                                                            (This one's for you, Amanda and Michele!)


Monday, August 1, 2011

Ode to Gib

 My little fella.  February 18th, 2010 to June 22nd, 2011.  RIP.

I've been a bit absent from my blog for a while. Partly because I've been somewhat lazy; partly due to the fact that I'm just plain numb.

On June 22nd we took Gibson in to the vet's office. He was ready. He couldn't breathe without resting his head on a chair or our bed.  It was time.  He had shown marked signs of slowing down and definite symptoms of congestive heart failure.  We thought we had prepared ourselves from his first check up, now at the ripe old age of sixteen months his life was at it's conclusion.

It was sad.  It was hard.  It just seemed so unfair, to lose such a great dog who through no fault of his own had a defective aortic valve.  The staff at the clinic was so understanding.  They knew it was coming, and it was so obvious that it was necessary.  It didn't take but a few seconds, and we held him.

I think he was actually relived in that brief threshold between here and there.

I'm still not sure where to shelve this grief.  I knew all along that it was coming, but I kept shoving that aside.  Now his death is reality, and I'm having a hard time letting out this sadness that I've kept at bay.  Do I deserve the luxury of tears?  This finality was always on the table, yet I kept hoping...

I know many people would say that he was just a dog.  He was a part of my family, and I wanted him to be around forever.  I'm not even over losing Joey, and now this?


I hope you're swimming and chasing birds and fetching big sticks, and chewing on shoes, and stealing remotes.  Most of all, I hope that you finally can run and play, a lot!

 I miss you Gibson.
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tired of "The Catty"

                                                                  (This image found here.)

I really get irritated with myself sometimes.  I have several annoying traits, but one that just chaps my hide is the fact that I never seem to be able to master the snappy come-back to personal insults!  I'm of the shoulda, coulda, woulda club.  I can sure work up a great retort after the fact, you know when you've tossed and turned all night and hashed and re-hashed the situation in your head for about a ba-zillion times!

We recently attended a wedding for our nephew and his sweetheart.  It was a nice affair and we had a great time catching up with family and such.  There's one member of the family that for some reason just loves to push my buttons.  The crazy thing is that she thinks I'm too daft to realize it, which is so far from reality.  Part of it is that I really, really don't want to stoop to her level, but the other part is the fact that I just am usually at a loss for words when this occurs.  The first couple of times it happened, I just blew it off, thinking that I was being over-sensitive.  It has continued every time I encountered this person over the last 10-11 years, and it's wearing mighty thin.  I'm afraid I have to do something that might make others uncomfortable, but it's time to stop her in her tracks. 

No more Mrs. Nice Guy. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's Up Around Here.

There are many things that I'll miss when I return to Alaska.

Here, I present a little vignette of an activity that's entertaining.  Just a side note, Edie just started having solid foods a week ago.  She is now an expert!

(please excuse my sniffles--allergies!)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm still here!

I haven't disappeared.  I'm just incognito!

A few weeks ago, my oldest daughter Michele contracted MRSA.  It manifested as an infection on her right shoulder.  I was compelled to go to New Mexico to help her, but she said that all would probably be well by the time I could make the trip there, so we decided to skip it.  The following Monday, this happened!  To say I was beside myself with worry would be putting it mildly.  She has a 3 year old and a 4 month old, and lives in  a tri-level home!  (Note to self--next house: NO STAIRS!)

Any-hoo; before I could even mention it, Karl was looking up flights and making arrangements for my return trip in less than a month.  Have I told you before what a wonderful man and partner I have in him?  I really need to tell HIM more often!  Have his love and support during this prolonged absence is priceless.  I know that it's not easy being alone when your life-mate is somewhere else and not knowing when to expect their return is no fun.  I can't thank you enough, Karl.

The thing is, I can't return to Alaska until Michele can bear weight on her left foot.  We'll know more about that soon, I hope.  In the meantime, she can't drive, carry anything including her children, and must use a wheelchair at work, as she must keep the leg elevated.  Her husband Jason and I team up on getting everyone out the door by 7:00-7:05 A.M.  I then drop off the kids at daycare, and whisk Michele off to work.  Upon arrival there I wrestle the wheelchair out of the trunk, which is more awkward than heavy.  I should be pretty buff soon.  We're calling this whole thing "Michele's Extreme Work-Over   I mean Out!"  Step aside Biggest Loser!  :)

The neatest thing about all of this is spending time watching this:

Cuddletime!  These girls were tired!  Shhhh; don't wake 'em up....

I don't know how I used to keep up with all the things I used to when the kids were little.  I certainly am not measuring up these days.  It's all I can do to cook every now and then, and work on the never ending rotation of laundry!  I'll just have to try to get a handle on it somehow! 

Until later...Thanks for checking in.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Twenty-six years ago today my beautiful Amanda was born.

She is smart and full of it of life!  Creative and fun-loving, she also has a big heart.  I couldn't be more proud and honored to have her as my daughter and friend.

Have a wonderful day, Sweetie!  I wish I was there to bake you a cake, or maybe some bruchetta....;)

I love you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Punkin Pie And Sugga-Bugga

I had such a great time with my grandkids.  It was truly a blessing to be able to spend so much time with them in November and December.  I really can't wait to go back!  In case you can't tell--they pretty much hung the moon! 

Have to say, they definitely kept me busy.  I had to gaze into little Edie's eyes all day long, because she has a corner on the cuteness market.  She really is the sweetest and fun baby! 

(This picture doesn't do her justice.  She smiles and laughs all the time--except for the camera!)

Judy is growing so fast and really loves being a big sister.  She hates getting up in the morning (just like someone else we know!) but hates to miss her school.  I hope that she feels that way about her classes when she gets older. 

I want to be a good and positive influence for these two.  I also want to be a fun grandmother, and look forward to having them stay over during summers and anytime I can talk them into to spending time with Grama Mikki.

What's not to love?

(I see the look of a mad sugar rush about to happen! LOL!)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go brush up on my cookie recipes!  ;)