Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gifts in tow

...We make our way to Seattle to celebrate the holidays with Mr.Mr.'s family. With drifts up to our knees, a couple of close friends from up North have offered to ferry us home with them in their trusty Jeep and we're all the more thankful for the free ride. Something about strapping on snow chains in 30 degree weather with a bruised and battered throat seems less than appealing at the moment.

Call me crazy.

Of course despite my tonsilar woes and the massive deep freeze we've been enduring in Portland- it is that time of year and I have grown quite a bit homesick over the last week. And so I send good thoughts and warm hugs to everyone who's missing anyone beside them right now. There really is nothing like family to make it all better. Well- family and chocolate pudding. I stand corrected.

Happy Holidays to you all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Just totally changed my mood for the better. All adults should learn foreign languages from children. Their imagination and excitement makes the language all the better for translation.

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo. (Thanks to Beefy for this tiny treat.)

A few of my favorite things

All I want for Christmas is:

-More chocolate pudding and Saltines
-Dexter Season Three to be available on Netflix and sent immediately to my house
-A shovel
-A miter saw
-A pair of pajamas that have feet
-For the tonsil fairy to come and take mine out, quickly and painlessly in my sleep (I'll leave a fifty under the pillow for any takers... seriously.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In Sickness and In Saltiness

**DISCLAIMER** This may not be suitable for the weak of stomach.**DISCLAIMER**

I cannot talk and so I write. Just a quick update to say that I am fine now but spent yesterday morning between Urgent Care and the Ear Nose and Throat doctor's office getting pricked, probed, swabbed, and stuck in between rounds of sickness. I do not have strep but my right tonsil was heavily inflamed and the ultimate choice was to use a needle to repeatedly probe the area for infection. This was not fun. It was better than my lancing experience in Korea but only by a bit- mostly being able to understand what the doctor was saying and the lack of a two inch scalpel made a significant difference.

I am on heavy meds- more oxycodone, amoxycillan, dexasomething or other (a steroid to reduce the swelling), and a ton of aspirin. I'm eating lots of pudding, softened saltines, yogurt, and soup and have stopped being sick to my stomach which is a huge relief. Mr.Mr. has been remarkable. He held my hand, rubbed my back, endured my panicky cries of "it's too hot! I'm going to throw up!" and didn't protest when I snapped at him out of exhaustion. I really did pick the best of them. He also has stocked the house with soft foods and is indulging my desire to watch a whole disc of Sex in the City and has agreed to any romantic comedies I want. And we all know that takes a much stronger stomach than watching your wife spit bile into a plastic tub after being stuck with a needle in the roll of flab above her backside.

I should be able to talk in a day or so, should be healed from the infection within two weeks and will see the doctor on New Year's Eve (...celebrate good comes, come on!) to check in on my progress. If I heal fast enough, I may be able to have my tonsils out in the middle or the end of the month of January. I'm hopeful that we can call it done as soon as possible.

In between multiple hour naps, too much Stacey and Clinton, formulaic home decorating shows on A&E, HGTV, and OPB- I'll try and wrap up some long overdue posts and also write about a few other things I've been mulling over for the last week. I hope you're all doing well this crazy holiday season. Through snow or wind, sleet or hail- the New Year is coming and based on this year's cumulative, collective experiences- it can only get better from here. Right?

...I'll cross my fingers just in case.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stay at home Salty

Just a heads up that your friend Salty is severely under the weather. I'm spending as much time as possible resting and hydrating so I can still share the holidays with relatives... without passing along another kind of special, bacterial gift.

The final leg of our SF journey is due, as are some fun updates and a couple of interesting links. Think healthy thoughts for me... I'll need them at this point.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Feel good music

Just try not to dance to this... I dare you.

Monday, December 8, 2008


New work. This is the second in a series of pieces using formica, laminate, and veneer samples as my "canvas" and incorporates paper, thread, antique photos, an antique letter (1920), and tibetan prayer paper. The text reads, "for a little while."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Not so "home" cooking

I'm not from the South. I can't even fake a Southern accent to save my life. But it turns out I can fake it in the kitchen, at least for Mr.Mr.'s taste buds. Taking the lead from the fine folks at Kingfish Cafe in Seattle, I set about preparing some "home cooking" from someone else's home. On the menu: cornmeal grits with chicken gravy and swiss chard collard greens. A few days back I checked out the ingredients of Trader Joe's instant grits, and much to my surprise it's a whole ton of white corn, some water, and salt. Easy! So I decided to go the simple route, put a slightly healthier twist on it, and make the recipe my own.

I started with the "Low Country Cream-Style Grits" recipe in The Joy of Cooking and made adjustments for using coarse cornmeal as opposed to standard slow-cooking (an hour plus!) grits. Somehow I've managed to accumulate at least three different textures of cornmeal (I can't resist the bulk foods section) so I used all of what was left of my coarse meal and a dash of the semi-fine meal to fill in any gaps. Grits are super easy and this version takes little more than twenty minutes on the stove. I started by bringing the water, butter, and salt to a boil. After adding the cornmeal, I reduced the heat to a simmer and stirred occasionally until it became thick and soft. I added some half and half toward the end to cream it up a bit and then a little extra salt. Super easy.

I remembered the chicken gravy from Kingfish having soft, stringy bits of meat swimming atop the grits in a thin but robust brown sauce. Starting with Mr.Mr.'s homemade chicken stock and the left-over chicken bits, I added fresh ground pepper, the , dried onion, garlic powder, and two spice mixes from Penzey's. I let that simmer at a a low boil while everything else cooked. Right before serving I whisked in some Wondra as a thickener and used a fork to gently pull apart the chicken bits into thin strips.

Mr.Mr. threw together a chopped up a bunch of collard greens, the butt end of some white onion, a clove of garlic, a dash of worcestershire sauce, some butter, and chicken stock into a pot with a cover and let it steam to soften. We didn't have any leftover ham hocks so we skipped that which lightened the dish considerably.

All told, the dish was a success all around. Delicious to the last bite and not too filling despite the volume... a sure fire winner. Next time you roast a chicken, consider using the leftovers to make this simple dish.

Creamy Cornmeal Grits
3 cups water
3/4 cup coarse cornmeal
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup half and half
additional salt to taste

Chicken and Gravy
1/2 cup pre-cooked chicken
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry onion flakes
a dash of garlic powder
a dash of Penzey's "four s" seasoning
a dash of Penzey's poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Wondra or all-purpose flour

Collard Greens using Swiss Chard
1 bunch swiss chard
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
a hearty splash of worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
hot sauce optional


Saturday, December 6, 2008

From the mouths of babes

Just a quick note that if you're in need of a pick me up and can enjoy the not-so-subtle humor of a six year old dropping the f bomb- you should check out Role Models with Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott. Normally I'd have difficulty endorsing any film with the latter in a starring role (or supporting, for that matter) but SWS manages to not play a total chump while executing ridiculous lines about KISS and getting it on with the ladies. Paul Rudd plays a convincing burnt out sales rep who thinks the answer to his unhappiness lies in doing an about-face in his flat lining relationship with his girlfriend. Both Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bobb'e J. Thompson steal the show as any kids will with foul mouths and geeky costumes. All in all- it's worth the price of a Saturday matinee to escape the woes of our sad, sad economy. And spring for a freezy drink- the sugar rush makes everything just a little bit funnier.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jet setting with Salty (Part IV, Section II)

Taking in the sights at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, we enjoyed the special exhibit of Martin Puryear's wood sculptures as well as the highly entertaining interactive components of The Art of Participation. I definitely recommend both... and this is from the Fine Art major who typically lasts all of thirty minutes max at some of the most esteemed museums and galleries.

I have to admit though, I was taken with the gift shop. Mr.Mr. gets the MOMA catalog from time to time and I typically shrug it off as hawking over-priced knick knacks. But some of their stuff was altogether too cool to avoid taking note of to share with you all. I wasn't able to find all my favorites on their site so I had to do some sleuthing. But here you are:

Edamame Chopstick Rests
found on Dean and Deluca
5 for $35.00
Cast iron molded with a green
patina finish.
-Cute and affordable.

found on Seletti's site (Italy)
$16.00, $20.00, & $40.00 respectively
Porcelain with silicone gaskets
-These would make great sugar, flour, and
brown sugar containers for the counter top.

Soehnle Page Digital Kitchen Scale
-We have a red theme going on in our
kitchen and this slim jim would fit
in perfectly. AND I could finally
measure out 3 oz. of ginger

Cubix Lamp by Catherine Mui
available through the SF MOMA
-I love that this is interactive. The
design is relatively simple but the
execution is brilliant. Literally.

I am not a paper cup
-A little twist on DuChamp's classic... I like the idea but I'm not sure I could hang with the chalky-feeling, matte finish. I imagine difficulty in cleaning it and stains a plenty. Nonetheless quite cool.

Bleached Oak Cuckoo Clock
found through Yahoo! at SF MOMA
-This tones down your traditional ornate cuckoo clock and reiterates
the popular nature silhouette I've been seeing a lot lately. I might paint
mine black or some other singular color though.

Hansel & Gretel illustrated by the fabulous Jen Corace
found on Amazon.com
-Ms. Corace has a way with colors and her drawings are captivating. I can imagine any child enjoying this new rendition of a classic favorite. I also enjoyed the Drop & Splash bowls ($12.00 each), the Double Bowl ($34.00) and a set of clever Happy Holidays and Non-Holidays cards- customizable for the occasion (6/$14) from Quiplip.

And finally, Part V, the final leg of our San Francisco trip will post soon.

All photos care of the credited websites.

Jet setting with Salty (Part IV, Section I)

I love the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace! All these awesome small-ish vendors are housed in a beautiful old building on the docks, with vaulted ceilings and huge windows to let the sunlight pour in while the chilly air stays out.

It just so happened to be the Mycological Society of San Francisco's Fungus Fair while we were visiting and man- never before have I seen such an odd conglomeration of mushrooms. From all manner of containers... bags, jars, cartons, etc. were sprouting the spongy umbrellas of a variety of fungi. I'm not even a big fan normally but something about their massive organic shapes and neutral tones begged me to take a stowaway for the plane ride home. In the end I resisted the urge in order to avoid any run-ins with the Department of Agriculture.

These cute, squat, 7.5 oz glasses were also hard to resist at The Gardener. I'm not sure what it is, but somewhere in my genetic code- buried deep between my pack-rat codon and and my decorating codon, is one for oggling glassware. Despite having plenty at home, I have to use the force for good and not evil [read: collecting massive quantities of unnecessary housewares] to avoid grabbing any liquid vessel in sight. At $4.00 a piece, a set of six wouldn't have broken the bank but I remained strong. Interestingly, I also heard recently that when drinking from short, wide glasses, our brains are fooled into drinking more. Hmmm...

I love what people are doing with merchandising these days! So clever. Also at The Gardener, the natural woods and cast iron panel make a fantastic backdrop for the softer fabrics and glass baubles on display. Secretly I'd like to imagine a time when I can craft these sorts of interior collages so I can live out my fantasies of a staged home without actually having to live in a shop window. This particular shop transformed a typically cold space, with floors of industrial gray, poured concrete, into a warm and inviting home decor destination.

Glasses! Again! This time from The Kingdom of Herbs. Focusing primarily on buds and blossoms, with a healthy accent of indoor and outdoor gardening accessories, KOH felt like an verdant indoor forest retreat. Several items caught my eye- not the least of which were these glasses in a wire tray or a collection of bark-covered storage boxes stacked by the register.

These simple pots with loose geometric shapes carved into the glaze were... I'll say it... precious. Really. Paired with a small, baby succulent, these would make a great addition to a compact workspace or maybe do time kitchen-side to bring a little nature indoors. Also from The Kingdom of Herbs.

I should be banned from Sur la Table. Despite our massive collection of kitchen, and kitchen-related goods, it's nearly impossible for me to leave the store without some new thing I just can't live without. And during their holiday sale, they were offering 20% off their classy collection of cloches. Just say it with me: cloche. Finally SLT has caught on to the trend that swept across homes, stores, floral shops, and the webernets at large a year ago (or more)... satisfying our dark, inner desires to make the most common of items- a lemon, a cupcake, a pine cone or small potted flower- display-worthy under the delicate bell shape of these glass beauties. Ultimately, I was weak. So weak. To avoid mid-flight glass breakage, I waited until we landed back in Portland to buy the two middle sizes. And my lemons and shallots have never looked so regal.
Stay tuned for Part IV, Section II to hear about all the things I wanted to buy, but didn't at the San Francisco MOMA.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jet setting with Salty (Part III)

Day three of San Francisco brought in the characteristic fog of the city. Getting a late start to the day after a lazy morning and delicious breakfast of cranberry clafoutis, we headed south on Route 1 to Pescadero.

We pulled into the parking lot at San Gregorio beach to check our map when we realized we were on empty- and quite possibly miles from the nearest gas station. This cozy couple hid from the drizzle under their umbrella as they walked the path watching the waves roll.

Unable to discern our exact distance from our destination, we popped into the San Gregorio Post Office. We didn't stay long but this cute little all-in-one bar and general store was absolutely charming. As icing on the cake, there was a four piece band playing to a small audience of bundled up locals enjoying beer, coffee, and snacks. With a few twirling kids peppering the audience, I think this is exactly the kind of place I'd want to be on a foggy fall day.

Destination: Harley Farms. American Cheese Society award winners for the last five years, Harley Farms offers a variety of tasty and attractive goat cheeses in their small shop adjacent to the farm. Since we took a while to get there, we missed our opportunity to get a tour of the farm and cheese-making process. But that didn't stop us... okay, me from sampling as much sweet, sweet, goat cheese as humanly possible in the last twenty minutes before the shop closed. I enjoyed their edible flower-adorned, tomato basil, cranberry walnut, and apricot pistachio "tortes." I also tasted their herbes de provence, peppercorn, and dill versions.

Sadly, I missed my opportunity to try their feta and chevre in oil but I did get a few toothpicks of their subtle, dry ricotta salata. We considered buying some to add to the subsequent night's dinner menu of fresh pasta and roasted chicken, but ultimately decided a small tub of their pumpkin spread and a log of their chive chevre would suit us well for pre-dinner noshing. And did it ever! The pumpkin spread was delicious with plain water crackers and would have made an excellent ravioli filling on its own.

Dinner brought us to Ebisu, a favorite sushi joint of Mr.Mr.'s and his brother, conveniently located only a few blocks from the latter's apartment. Sitting away from the bustle of the sushi bar, we enjoyed our meal in the tatami room, sitting cross-legged, shoe-less on small, soft pads. Given that Mr.Mr. and I eat a majority of our meals at the living room coffee table, the casual style of the tatami room feels a bit like home to us. While he and his brother indulged in such oddities as fresh scallop, spider rolls, and things with eels in them- I stuck to a tempura vegetable and california roll. If you look closely, you can read Mr.Mr.'s brother's t-shirt from 826 Valencia. It reads, "Canons don't sink ships. Pirates with canons sink ships." So ridiculously clever.

After dinner we rented a couple of movies from the local video store and sat down together in the glow of an 11" laptop screen (Mr.Mr.'s brother has no tv) to enjoy Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Described on the case as a "delightful, champagne of a comedy" or some such nonsense- I worried it might be too fluffy for my male cohorts... and my concerns were confirmed when, forty minutes in, I was voted off the island and we began In the Valley of Elah instead.

The former was, (just as described), a pure sno-cone type treat of a movie with lush interiors, fabulous wardrobes and a perfect portrayal of fictitious movie star of the minute, Delysia Lafosse by Amy Adams. In stark contrast, the latter was a dark, raw, and disturbing perspective on the war in Iraq and the reach of its destructive, malignant wake. What struck me most about In the Valley of Elah was its portrayal of the veterans of war and how the violence experienced, first hand or otherwise, becomes an unshakable memory. Worse, how sometimes that memory becomes ghost-like... completely separate or removed from the actual act and the implication(s) of participation in those acts.

... Part IV to follow shortly.