Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bulgar Wheat Adventures

Bulgar wheat is not an easy ingredient to find, let alone explain and enunciate to multiple grocers who have never heard of it.

I got off work early this past Wednesday and spent some time -- the amount of which I had grossly under estimated -- shopping for a few last-minute ingredients for my the dishes I was going to prepare for Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's the next day. I was making Sweet Potato Casserole, Apple Pie, Cranberry Bread and Tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is another one of those things that most people have either never heard of or, of they have, hold very a strong opinion about. I personally adore the stuff; I could prepare and eat an entire mixing bowl of it in a single afternoon. The wonderful thing about tabbouleh is that it's really good for you. There is not a single cooked item in tabbouleh; it's completely raw, healthy and inexplicably delicious. The last of those descriptors is, of course, entirely opinion. You first have to like all the ingredients in order to love them all at once in a bowl of Tabbouleh, and some people just ... don't (more for me!). I was afraid Kevin's family would fall into the 'not so fond of tabbouleh' category; if they did, they were too nice to say anything. Except for Kevin's Grandma, God love her; she cannot feign "Mmm, this is good!" very well at all.

Wednesday afternoon. 3:03pm. I pull out of the garage at work and head for my first grocery stop: Tom Thumb. Thinking that Tom Thumb is the 'best' (read: most expensive) of all the grocery stores and seeing that the Tom Thumb just up the street from my house is a Signature Tom Thumb, I hoped I would be able to find some bulgar wheat without a problem. I find the other ingredients I needed (canned yams, parsley, prepared pie crusts) and ask 3 -- yes, 3 -- grocers where the bulgar wheat is. I spell it, describe it, and tell them what brand it will likely be packaged under. They don't have it. They don't even know what I'm talking about except to say that it's very, very rare and that only Whole Foods or Central Market will have it. Well, I don't live in a neighborhood with upper-middle class Prius-driving soccer moms or 60 year old residents who golf and insist on only organic foods, so neither is especially convenient. I try the Mrs. Baird's outlet just up the street since we had luck there in the past (they have an entire section of those Bob's Red Mill specialty items - muesli and flax seeds and such). No. Not this time. They have about 6 items with flax seeds in them and even a gluten-free brownie mix, but no bulgar. 

On to the next. I try Wal-Mart knowing in the back of my head it will be a nightmare to navigate the afternoon before Thanksgiving (the only time it's NOT is at 2am on Sunday) and they will likely not have any specialty ingredients like bulgar wheat. I leave, disappointed yet again.l

At long last I am able to find it at Albertson's. Finally! What is ironic and vexing about this whole situation is that I had, a week prior, purchased (for 18 measly dollars) a 10 pound sack of organic bulgar from Untimely delivery was set for the day after Thanksgiving. So I rolled my eyes and paid the $6 for a 28 oz sack and got to work in my kitchen. Everything turned out to my satisfaction, even though I was set back by over an hour because of all the unplanned grocery stops. Here are the recipes for all my Thanksgiving offering. Hopefully one of these years I will make my own turkey; I have yet to make a single Thanksgiving turkey!

Natalie's 'Famous' Apple Pie

Preheat oven to 375


I use prepared pie crust (brand does not matter). Set the package out at room temperature so the crusts can soften; they are easier to work with and don't tear when you unroll them.


Start by coring, peeling and dicing 6 medium-to-large apples. If you have one of these and your apples aren't verging on applesauce, you can save yourself a lot of time! I have one but my apples were too soft - they kept falling off the spike. I usually like using a mix of Gala and Granny Smith to balance each other out (sweet and soft vs crisp and tart) but I only had Gala on hand which turned out fine.

Once the apples are prepared and in a mixing bowl, add the following:

squeeze of citrus, lemon or orange - just a teaspoon or so (or a splash of OJ if you don't have fresh citrus on hand)
2/3 c brown sugar (to taste - I like the warmth brown sugar brings, but I like to taste the apple's sweetness, too)
2 T ground cinnamon (again, to taste - I'm fond of lots of cinnamon in my apple pie but some people probably hate cinnamon)
4 T melted butter
pinch of salt

Stir this all together til all the apples are well coated. Taste a piece of apple to see if the flavor suits you and modify as needed.

This year I decided to do something I have never done with my apple pie and add a handful each of golden raisins and dried cranberries. If you like, dried fruit or chopped pecans or hazelnuts make a nice addition; even some vanilla, subbing honey for the sugar, whatever. It's a dessert that works very well with substitutes.

Roll one of the crusts into a pie dish (if you like using deep pie dishes, prepared crusts aren't good for this; also you'd need to bump the recipe up to about 8 apples, and modify the other ingredients as appropriate). Make sure the edge of the crust meets the edge of the dish all around (doesn't have to hang over though) and pour in the filling. Even it out over the entire pie dish and then unroll the top crust onto the filling. Tuck the edge of the top crust down on the outside of the under crust and lightly press them both down onto the glass. Once this is done, go around again and crimp the crust with your thumbs (or press with a fork, etc - whatever design you like).

Bake for about 45 minutes. The crust will tell you if it needs more time or not. Look for a light golden brown all over and slightly darker brown along the edge. Let it cool to set a little before cutting into it.

Some people like apple pie 'a la mode'. I personally think apple pie is better without frozen sugar and cream melting all over it, but that's just me. Serve it however you like, so long as you enjoy it!

Cranberry Nut Bread

The easiest bread ever! Just buy a bag of Ocean Spray cranberries (they are at every grocery store this time of year). Follow the recipe printed on the back of the package. I DO make the following modifications:

1. Double the cranberry - it calls for 1-1/2 cups, but I use 3 cups (one entire bag)
2. Put the nuts (I use a mix of walnuts and pecans) into a food processor and chop before adding to the dough

This bread is SO good toasted the next day with butter or cream cheese.

Sweet Potato Casserole by PS

My good friend and co-worker PS was kind enough to share this recipe with me. She has made it for years and it's been a hit, even with the 'I don't like sweet potato' bunch. I suppose you can buy sweetened or unsweetened yams (canned), but I grabbed the only kind I saw which was 'Sweet Potatoes in Syrup'. For this reason, I cut back on the sugar. Otherwise no modifications to PS's original and delectable recipe. Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 350

Combine the following in a medium mixing bowl then place mixture into a greased casserole dish:

2 cans (29 oz) sweet potatoes, mashed
1/2 c melted butter
1/2 c granulated sugar (recipe originally called for 1 cup)
2 beaten eggs
1/3 c milk
1 t vanilla (I used about 2 teaspoons actually)
pinch of salt


In a separate bowl, combine the following, then sprinkle on top of the casserole.

1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c all-purpose flour
3 T melted butter
1/2 chopped pecans

Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly.


Tabbouleh is a traditionally Syrian (Lebanese) dish though there are a lot of variations in Middle Eastern cuisine.

I find it entertaining that Lebanese chefs are recognized by Guinness for making the largest dish of tabbouleh on record. That's dedication!

3 c bulgar wheat
2-3 bunches fresh parsley, washed and dried (I leave them bunched instead of untwisting them; makes it easier to chop)
2 tomatoes, diced small
2-3 lemons, halved and juiced
1/4 olive oil, or to taste
salt to taste

Most traditional tabbouleh recipes call for mint and usually onions (green) but I have never made it this way. Of course you can adapt however you want - this is another recipe that allows for a lot of flexibility. 

Soak the wheat in water until soft; takes about an hour. I place a collender inside a large mixing bowl and line the collender with a paper towel. Then pour in the wheat and the water. This makes it easier to drain the wheat once it's softened. Remove the collender and pour out the water and let the wheat drain a while in the sink, then transfer to the now-empty mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Taste the tabbouleh and add more lemon, oil or salt as needed. The amount of parsley is also a personal think. Kevin likes more parsley than I usually add; he's more of a traditional Syrian than I am apparently, as there is more parsley than bulgar in the original ratio. ;) 

Some recipes say to let it refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight, but I think it's ready to eat as soon as possible. However, it does 'season' nicely so the next day just add more citrus or oil to moisten the mixture and it's wonderful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thinking about Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of those sadly overlooked holidays.

Take my neighbor, for example. She put her Hallowen decorations up - including a lighted, inflatable Jack-O-Lantern-Scare-Crow-on-a-Harley (fact) proudly standing guard on her front lawn. She is one of 'those' people; perhaps she didn't celebrate Halloween as a kid and is making up for it now, tenfold? When I was growing up, Halloween - erm, Reformation Day - was the one night annually that we, ignoring our usual alert and vigilant crime-detterance, intentionally left our porch lights off, shut ourselves into the living room and watched 'Martin Luther' (1953).

The day after Halloween is when many people traditionally turn to Thanksgiving: planning a menu and figuring out what side of the family you will grin and bear for the day, thinking of cinnamon rolls and coffee while watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade and that lovely feeling as you realize Christmas is just around the corner. No. Not my neighbor. November 1st, I come home from work (and it's dark around 6:15pm since Daylight Savings has kicked in): her house is aglow with flickering, colorful Christmas lights, her cactus draped in a white strand, her roofline twittering in full-color, her porch festooned in strands of snowflakes. She completely skipped Thanksgiving! Who does that?

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was a good holiday in my house. No sadly-disappointed expectations of gifts (even when we get what we want, it's not quite as electrifying as imagined; I blame Hollywood!), no decorations to tear down and if it didn't snow, you really didn't care. The food is the centerpiece on Thanksgiving. Maybe this is partially to blame for my food addiction, even now. Mom's spread was over the top and more delicious than words can convey. Hers is the best Thanksgiving meal I have ever had. What is sad though is that I haven't had it in 6 years. I really miss it.

I really miss my mom's great cooking. Her turkey and homemade turkey gravy - lots of it (I hate going to people's houses and there is one boatful of gravy for like, 10 people. Doesn't each person get their own boatful of gravy? Btw, I love that boat and gravy are friends here...mmm). Her cornbread dressing with celery and sage and lots of garlic; her wild rice dressing with mushrooms, green bean casserole (after many years, she updated the delicious traditional green bean casserole with fresh beans and carmelized onions), sweet potato casserole, jello salad (not like any jello salad you have ever had so don't judge!), corn casserole and most years canned cranberries (apparently, the comparative qualities of canned vs homemade is a topic of debate). There is something magical though about a slice of gelatinous cranberry 'sauce' on a turkey sandwich with mayo the day after Thanksgiving. Homemade is lovely, but it just doesn't compare.

I miss the warm kitchen on Thanksgiving morning and knowing mom was up early, at least for a few minutes, to put the massive bird in the oven. I miss the din of the parade and then football in the TV room, our simple table and mom's French Countryside dishes (I love how the raised sides held in our huge platefuls of food - some plates are just too flat for Thanksgiving feasting!). My dad is a piemaking pro and he would always make his famous (yes, famous) Lemon Meringue and Coconut Cream Pies. They were divine. I remember in the old house we would put them in the laundry room on top of the drier, one in a vintage Tupperware pie carrier and the other covered in a lime green plastic bowl; it was cooler in there during the winter months and kept the pies but without being too cold in the fridge (you have to respect the meringue!). Dad's homemade crust and flour on the countertop, mom's Frugal Gourmet apron, our very old carving knive buzzing over the brown turkey (all of us vying for the crunchiest pieces of skin!), casserole dishes everywhere. Good times.

However bizarre my little family is, there will never ever be a Thanksgiving that will compare until I can eat my mom's Thanksgiving dinner again.

I'm thankful this year for my good husband, our new home, our health, and the small things.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Weekend Update

This weekend has been so lazy. I have slept entirely TOO much, but enjoyed it in the moment. This evening I have a headache though; interesting how wonderful, luxurious sleep backfires when you indulge a bit too much. The last 2 days have gone quickly, too; I guess that's another side effect of sleeping 1/2 the day. ;)

Saturday I slept in and woke up to a late breakfast and coffee. Kevin and I spent some time in the yard in the afternoon then went on a couple errands including a stop at Garden Ridge where we found a curtain rod for the new curtains I got at Target last week. We still have the white curtains up that the previous owner used but I thought something colorful would be nice. The grommet top will be easy to push them open and closed. Now I just need to get some hold backs; I'm thinking something with beads - maybe something I can make myself. =) Saturday night, I pulled out the Christmas decorations and put the tree up. I usually don't decorate til after Thanksgiving but I think I was too excited about seeing the tree in our new house for the first time. I love it! As if our living room wasn't cozy already, it's now extra cozy. Plus I acquired a few new ornaments this year and I love admiring them on the glowing branches. Of course the soft and unbreakable ornaments are on the bottom branches so my curious cats can play with the tree without breaking any of my favorites.

Kevin informed me I am no good at fluffing branches, so he decided to help me out. ;)

One of my new owl collectibles - a sparkling gold owl ornament for my tree. Isn't he handsome?? I knew he would look wonderful glowing against the lights on the tree.

Sunday I slept even later. Not surprising since we stayed up til the wee hours playing games on Saturday night. I had some Cheerios with a banana and we spent the afternoon watching 'Avengers', napping (!), and playing games together. This evening I made a big pot of sausage and vegetable soup with homemade cornbread that was the perfect dinner on a cool(ish) evening. Kevin hasn't been feeling too well and he asked for soup: the perfect feel better food! I just threw the soup together with items I had in my kitchen; here is the recipe in case anyone is interested in replicating it.

Sausage and Vegetable Soup

12 c water on high heat

Add and bring to a boil:
1/2 white onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
3 medium/large red potatoes, diced small
4-5 sausages - I used bratwursts, prepackaged and cut in half (I cut them into bite-sized rings before serving)

Cook this for a while until the vegetables start to soften and add:

1/2 c corn (I used frozen)
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
5 cloves garlic, minced

Simmer everything til the vegetables are completely soft. Remove the sausages and cut into bite-sized pieces; return to the soup and turn off the heat. Leave the pot on the warm burner and add about 1/4 head of cabbage (green or red) and cover to let the cabbage wilt. I seasoned with generous pinches of Kosher salt; then added dried parsley, oregano and paprika.


Whisk together:
1 c cornmeal
1 c all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt

Then add:
1 egg
1 c milk
1/3 c vegetable oil

Mix until smooth and pour into greased 8x8 pan. Bake in preheated oven (400 degrees) for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What a beautiful day!!

It's been really cold (in Texan terms) for over a week now - wonderful, jacket-worthy weather. But today I went outside expecting the same and found that it is a perfect, mild day. I turned the heat off and opened my kitchen windows to the light breeze and the rustling leaves. Smiley was snuffling about in the ground cover and Kevin spotted Samantha again, but only for a minute. I went out to water all our plants and got my arm wet: it helps if the hose is connected to the spigot before turning it on full blast! I tried to take a picture of Kevin in the natural light but he decided instead I should be wrestled into the ground; I'd forgotten how fun it is to roll around in the leaves.

My plants are still doing really well, though I think my Morning Glories have bloomed their last for the year. They are yellow and wilty now. My Forget Me Nots are pretty, though still not a single bloom, and my Basil is, of course, still hearty. My jalapeno and avocado seeds have sprouted. I think it's almost time for them to come inside -- I think we're going to make a spot for all of them in the garage, though I'm worried about the lack of sunshine.

There is more and more color to all the trees and plants. I've noticed another bush at the side of the yard is yellow now - it was still green just last week. And of course the crepe myrtle is stunning. I can see the tops of the trees in our neighbor's yards and across the street and they have turned as well. Such a pretty array of Fall colors.

Kevin pruned one of our plants while I caught Smiley eying the yard through the glass door - I think he wants to come outside again.

They didn't come out after all. I think something startled them back inside.

My roses bloomed again, too. I think these are about the largest roses I've seen on this plant; flawless and fragrant. Something about flowers like this make me want to pick them and put them in a vase. Although my intention would be to enjoy their beauty while it lasted, it seems more shameful and selfish than anything.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My First Rice Pilaf

My mom used to make this great rice pilaf; fluffy rice with peas and tiny shrimp and ... I'm not sure what else. But I remember my dad really liked it. He and my brother had favorite things they always requested her to make: dad had his German's Chocolate Cake for his birthday and my brother had stuffed peppers. I never had anything like that. I have never had a niche, gastronomically speaking (or otherwise). I just ... love food.

Anyway, I haven't had pilaf in forever and I decided to try some tonight with my herbed chicken. I started some chicken (boneless, skinless) in the oven after seasoning it: Kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, (a tiny dusting of) granulated garlic, paprika and parsley with a drizzle of olive oil on top.

I guess I never thought about the 'trick' for keeping the grains of rice from gumming together in pilaf like they tend to when you just boil rice on the stove. Apparently it just takes a little time in the hot pan before adding the liquid (I used chicken broth) to sort of toast the grains. I don't make Rice-A-Roni all that often so this step isn't top of mind when it comes to preparing a rice dish. The rice turned out wonderfully: individual, fluffy grains and not a hint of gum! I am very pleased with my effort!

To start, I melted 2 tablespoons of butter and added 1/2 an onion, diced, to a warm pan over medium heat; then I added 2 ribs of diced celery and let them soften for a couple minutes. I poured in 1-1/3 cups of white rice (though I'm sure brown or Jasmine would be just as good) and let it toast for about 2 minutes, stirring to make sure all the rice had time at the bottom of the pot. Add the broth (2-1/2 cups) and 1/4 cup of golden raisins (mmm); let it steam with a lid on til all the broth is absorbed. I stirred it just a couple times because I always worry my rice is going to stick. When I boil rice the usual way, I sometimes add a drizzle of olive oil to the water which seems to help. While the rice cooked, I toasted about 1/4 cup of pine nuts in a dry saute pan (not the non-stick variety) over low heat for just a few minutes and then set them aside. Once the rice is done, add the pine nuts and a handful of course-chopped basil (fresh) and some salt and pepper. It made the perfect accompaniment to my baked chicken.

Do you know of a great pilaf? I'm always up for a new recipe. =)

Another week has passed ...

The weeks fly by faster this time of year. Not sure if it's the fact we are pulled in three times as many directions with the holidays and familial requirements; obscene amounts of gifting and baking and traveling; getting sick; going to parties; and generally trying to stay sane. Whatever combination of elements, the Fall and Winter months feel harried and short and they pass by with so much 'ado' over what turns out to be nothing and so quickly forgotten.

That new DVD player for $3 at Wal-Mart (starting at 5am, limited quantities of course; and mind you don't trample someone to death on the way to aisle 12!) quickly loses its shine and those new toys find a place in the pile of rarely touched items that accrue and accrue in playrooms and bedrooms, pushed aside for the newer model.

Just reminds me how important it is to not get caught up in the hubbub and the madness. Enjoy the wonderful foods and the good times with the people you care about; the bright Christmas tree and 'It's a Wonderful Life' and hot cocoa, a cat curled up in a frosty window. Enjoy them just as you would the first warm day of Spring and the first nip in the air that tells you Fall is on the way; just as you would any small but hugely significant thing that passes by quickly but with potentially great effect. Enjoy them, but don't get caught up in the insignificant parts.

Life is the small things. People say 'don't sweat the small stuff' but life is just that: a sequence of small things that make up who we are as individuals. So ... sweat the small stuff. Make the most of it. Savor the small things and the short moments and the turns of countenance; a kiss or a smile, a laugh with a friend, finding common ground, a piece of chocolate, or spending the evening with your favorite person.

I realize more the older I get that there are too many lovely things that pass us by if we are fixated on the negative things or the toxic people or the 'what if's'. Cross the bridge when you come to it and make the best of it. Try to remember what you did right and change what you think you can to make it better the next time around.

I see, too, that research and knowledge and observation are some of the more fulfilling practices in life. Read and learn - there is always something new to discover. I can feel myself changing and improving with all the articles I read and words I learn and new things I discover that I didn't even know existed before. How could anyone ever be bored?

Just a few of the small things from my week ... 

My curious cat, Smiley. I love the look in his apple green eyes.

A mystery herb that decided to sprout again after weeks of ... nothing. I brought it inside to the dining room window since it's getting a little too cold outside for herbs now.

Old-fashioned Scrabble in a pretty wooden box. Kevin and I sometimes play games together in the evenings.

Inspired by my friend, I have a 'thing' for collecting pretty napkins. They are so inexpensive but make a simple lunch or tea and cookies that much more pleasant ...

Breaking off a little piece of hazelnut milk chocolate.

A pot of rice pilaf simmering on the stove.

My warm, cozy house on a cool Fall night, my three favorite people (Kevin and the cats ;), a nice dinner and Friday night...

Happy weekend. =)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Cat on the Block

This morning I was pouring another mug of coffee (brr!) and saw out my kitchen window a cat walking on the gardening ledge on our back patio. I'd seen her a couple times before walking on our back fence, but never IN the yard, right by the house. She (I discovered later she was a she) was very comfortable and relaxed. She sat down at the corner of the ledge, by the back door, and just watched Carmen as she hissed at her from behind the glass, tail fat and bristled and ready for a fight, tiny but vicious teeth bared.

Samantha just watched curiously and didn't hiss or growl even once. I decided she looked like a Samantha - Sam for short. I took a couple pictures of her from the house and thought she might be hungry so I filled an old feeder with some water and a bit of food and slowly opened the back door, watching for Smiley or Carmen to be hot on my heels. At this point Smiley was all worked up, too; he and Carmen had been stalking each other around the living room as though they each were a foreign invader cat and they were protecting their territory.

Are you coming out or not?

I shut the door behind me and Samantha walks right up and rubs against my legs, flopping herself on the ground and rubbing her little face into the patio, her soft white belly and brown ears covered in dirt and leaves. She has a short face, not as long a snout as Smiley and Carmen; she has a shorter tail, too, more like Carmen – Smiley’s is long like a monkey’s tail. She is very friendly and seems to be comfortable with humans but doesn’t have a collar. I wonder who she belongs to and who is missing her. Hopefully she has a home; I hate for animals to be stray or orphaned and not have a consistent place to stay.

Samantha is more interested in rubbing my knee - I'm sitting crossed-legged by the door now - than in her food which I've set down beside me. I snap a couple more photos and she sniffs my basil and jalapeno sproutlings. She finally takes a few bites after thoroughly sniffing the food and the tray and my hands a few more times.

After several minutes with her and lots of petting and cooing on my part I am rather cold and go back inside. Samantha peers up at me through the widow in the door, held tilted to the left, as if to ask why I'm leaving so soon. I think how nice it must be to have a fur coat. She walks around the grass some and uses our yard as a toilet (even scraping up some leaves and grass when she's done).

She walks over to the corner of the yard and hops effortlessly onto the middle fence rail and then onto the top of the fence. She takes a few steps onto our neighbor’s fence and jumps - gone into the alley for more stray cat adventures. I just hope she remembers our yard is a friendly one and I'll always have some food for her if she comes around again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My week in photos

I realize that I take a lot of photos. Most of them are random and sometimes superfluous. I don't really need 12 photos of my cookie baking process, for example. But I have noticed that I end up with at least one 'good' photo every day. So I thought I could (at least in very surface terms) chronicle my days and weeks in photography. Not especially fascinating, but still somewhat interesting (at least to me and my 2 blog followers ;).


I had a nice Monday overall. Spent some time discussing our office expansion with the administrative staff and started training the new temp. Kevin fell off a ladder trying to retrieve what we learned was a doll that had been thrown onto our roof over the weekend by the kids next door.

Not quite sure how this happened but it certainly didn't fail to startle me at nearly midnight, thudding onto my roof.


I had a gray and foggy commute this morning and a very (very) busy day at work. I think I will have very very busy days for a long time; it's just the way it seems to go this time of year, and even more so this year. We have a lot going on all at once. Kevin and I went to Chili's for dinner and then went to Aldi for some grocery shopping. We watched the latest episode of 'Dexter' before bed.

Not an unattractive downtown. And yes, I'm driving and taking photos at the same time.


Hump day was more than crazy. I feel sometimes it wouldn't hurt to have a cot at the office; it would make it easier to stay as late as I sometimes need to and not have to drive back and forth. It's probably *not* a good sign that I am even considering that idea though. I had lunch today with my friend Michael whose birthday is tomorrow. We had chicken and mashed potatoes and peas for dinner and I made some potato soup with the leftover mashed potatoes. I baked some sugar cookies and Kevin spent some time with a friend. I bought a few things online at Metrostyle using a great discount.

Still warm from the oven as I pour a glass of milk.


I can't even remember what I did at work today but it was a lot! The new space downstairs is coming together well and the cubicles are set up. Now all we need to do is encourage everyone to pack before it's down to the wire. We have big red crates and dollies all over the office and huge computer carts blocking the halls. I came home this evening a tidied a little and had my good friend Bonnie over for yoga. It was enlightening and so therapeutic; we plan on doing this together a couple times a week and I'm SO excited. Oh, and my neighbor is apparently excited about Christmas; her decor went from Halloween straight to Christmas, blinky lights and all.


Woke up feeling spectacular today. I credit the yoga. Good thing, too, because it was a long day. I showed those expense reports who is boss and completed 5 of them, including making minor corrections to 2 others. I helped like, 7 people throughout the day and decided however stressful that can be, at least I know people can rely on me; that's a good feeling. I didn't leave work til 7pm because I was helping one of my Officers pack his office. I think I knew that at least one person would procrastinate and not pack til the last minute, but we made the most of it - working together we got it all packed and moved (or put in the shred bins - there was more to shred than there was to keep!) in an hour and a half. I was so tired. Got home and freshened up a bit and went for dinner with Kevin at Rancho la Sandia, "our" Mexican place up the street. They recognize us now. ;) Live music, enchiladas and a margarita was a great way to relax.

"We shall find peace...we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds."

This morning I realized our crepe myrtle in the backyard is on fire with fall colors. I am not sure when this happened but it took me by complete surprise. It is red and orange and gold and brown and yellow and green all at once. It is simply stunning and I had to admire it for a moment and drink it in.

I so appreciate - more and more over the years - the beauty of things I can observe in my natural surroundings. I am fascinated at how little seeds can sprout into tall, beautiful plants and how trees are so in tune to the Earth's energy, it doesn't take more than a fortnight of cool weather for them the respond in kind and turn their colors to the fall. It's all so rhythmic and primal. It's like yoga for plants. Yoga is one of those things that makes me feel very alive and aware of myself as a living organism. Very flowing and natural and simply amazing.

Mug of coffee in hand I stepped outside today to drink in the chilly air - I love how it feels inside my lungs - and to soak up the sunbeams that beat onto the leaves and the grass and my face. A little chilly breeze and a squirrel running along the fence. Otherwise, perfectly quiet and perfectly peaceful.

If I was a bird, I would live here ...

Crystal clear skies.

Bright sun and tissue paper leaves.
The perfect Fall morning ...

(Quote Credit: Anton Checkov, 'Uncle Vanya')

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I am not sure whoooo determined owls would be en vogue this year (and hopefully indefinitely), but they deserve a doff of my cap (if I was wearing one). I love animals and decor with animals or jewelry with animals. I'm not sure what it is: a woodsy appeal, or something warm-and-fuzzy from childhood, or the lure of nature, or maybe just the need in many people to cling onto something that is popular and 'in'. I may have a little of all those things, but mostly, I love owls!

In 'real life' (there are many versions of life that I have 'going' at the same time: dreams, imagination, work, home and then the mysterious 'real' life ... it's a lot to juggle, I won't lie) owls are just a tiny bit scary. This doesn't really endear me:


Beautiful, but slightly creepy.

But the following examples of owl themed collectibles definitely endear me! I am currently working on my personal collection ... I love the eclectic, cheerful vibe these little owls can bring to a room or an outfit.

This great owl statue from my cousin - so green and handsome!

This orange owl cookie jar. I have previously blogged about my desire for said owl, for obvious reasons:

This presh Betsey Johnson owl ring, which I just purchased from Macy's:

This past weekend, I scored this darling owl oven mitt by Kitch'n Glam at Paper Source in North Park Mall. TOO cute:

Not to mention this great sparkly ornament and cotton rug at Urban Outfitters:

Also, Conan likes owls ... 'nuf said. ;)

What about you? Are you an animal lover? Let me know what your favorite animal is and if you have decor or jewelry with an animal theme.


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