left of center

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I know I’ve been AWOL lately. I don’t have any good recipes to share. No cocktails, no new restaurants, no exotic vacation stories. I just have one story. I got hit by a car.

I dislocated and fractured my right shoulder when I was hit by a car while walking across the street. Other than this one (gargantuan) injury I didn’t have another bruise on me. I am beyond grateful that this wasn’t worse.  My right arm has been in a sling for over a month now, the bruises have faded a little, and I have officially hit the point where I’m over this. But I’m fairly certain I’ve got a long way to go before this is over.  Ginger kitty has been taking very good care of my lap.  Coe drew the short straw since it’s my frisbee throwing arm that’s out of commission, but she’s trying to be understanding.

We regularly encounter things in our day-to-day lives that test us on so many levels. This month’s test has been how to function with one hand. I had no idea how inhospitable the world was to lefties until that’s all I have to use.  A few of things that are a little challenging to me these days are washing my face, putting in contact lenses, spreading butter on toast, brushing my teeth, putting on deodorant, operating a computer mouse, opening a wine bottle, using my camera, putting on a belt, swiping my debit card… I think you get the picture. I’m up the proverbial creek with the wrong paddle.

My handwriting currently looks like that of a third-grader. Please don’t ask me to sign anything or even write anything very quickly. I can’t even type very quickly. Siri and I are now BFFs ;) , actually Siri wrote this blog post for me.

I have worked so hard all my life to be independent and self-sufficient. This accident has chucked all of that out the window. Though I’m really proud of how proficient I have become with one hand. Some things have taken a little extra creativity and everything I do takes 2 to 3 times longer than it normally would. I’ve never been very good at asking for help but this has absolutely changed that. There are just some things you cannot do with one hand.  My girlfriends have gone well above and beyond the call of duty!

I really miss cooking. Y’all know how much I cook and bake. I don’t usually eat much processed food but not being able to cook has meant a lot more frozen meals. It took me several weeks to figure out how to cut a sandwich with only one hand. I’m not sure I will ever master chopsticks as a lefty.

I’m trying to stay as positive as possible and recognize the good things.  Though, some days this is easier said than done.  I’ve kind of come up with a little mantra… I am resourceful, I am resilient, and I am grateful.

compliments always make a girl feel good

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This time of year is especially brutal at work. Customers are angry, coworkers are grumpy, and it hasn’t stopped raining in months.  I think I’ve mentioned before we don’t have a dress code at work. This leaves what folks show up in to great interpretation.  I usually dress business casual most days, the days I feel the shittiest are the days I dress the nicest. What makes a girl feel better than having folks compliment you all day?  Today a gal came up to me and said “why are you so dressed up?”  My response was “so you’ll say that!”  she laughed. she knew where I was coming from!

This year, even dressing for success isn’t helping my psyche. I realized I needed people tell me how fabulous I’ve done at something, even if it isn’t my job, so I decided to bake treats for my work peeps.

I made three different scones: bacon cheddar, toffee chocolate chip, and vanilla oat.  The bacon cheddar and the toffee chocolate chip are the same King Arthur recipe just with different add-ins. The vanilla oat scone has been running around in my head for about a year (Hi, I’m the world’s greatest over-thinker).  I cannot tell you how many scone recipes I have book marked, but I have a scone I’m trying to emulate. This morning, I finally pulled the trigger and I’m delighted with how it turned out.

In all of my baking exploration, I’ve learned what I like in a scone and I’ve learned how different ingredients make the final product. I know I like an egg in my scone (without the egg, it’s really just a biscuit.) Super cold butter is a must.  Mixing dry ingredients plus the butter in my food processor gives me a good, even distribution of ingredients and a tender, flaky crumb.

I started with a King Arthur recipe as my jumping off point, but made enough variations I’m calling this my own. It came out perfectly; simple and delicious, not too sweet. Hopefully some of the gals will give their thoughts here.

Here’s what I did:
Add the following dry ingredients plus butter to the food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup  brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter
then add
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats and pulse two more times

In another bowl, mix
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon (generous) vanilla

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined.  Dump out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a jelly roll pan with a silpat.  Using your hands work dough into one one disk then divide into two.  Shape into two rounds, about 3/4-1″ tall.  Using a bench scraper, cut each round into 8 wedges.  Separate the wedges from the circle, leaving about an inch between each wedge.

Bake at 400* for about 20-25 minutes, until scones are golden and edges appear done.  The centers will seem a little soft, but when it cools, they will be perfect and tender.

13458182214_30a48640a5_zThe picture ain’t pretty and I didn’t take pictures along the way, but they were tasty.  Even got me a marriage proposal.  I’ll call this a win, my psyche sure will!

worms on a plane

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doesn’t quite have the makings of a hit movie, but depending on your bug issues, might be just as gross.

I don’t know if this a phenomenon everywhere, but here, one of the signs of spring are worms everywhere.

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My morning walk is in the dark, so it’s kind of like doing a tap dance to not step on the squishy fellas.

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This is on the playground at the school near my house. Coe is oblivious and just walks right over them. click the picture for a really good view, be sure to look for the worm tracks in the sand.

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The most amazing thing is how LONG some of them are.

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This is the same fella as above, but look closely, he has a friend.

Here’s to spring!  Non-stop sunshine cannot get here soon enough for me.  Though, I did have to mow my lawn today.  I’m putting that in the exercise column.

grown up rant

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I don’t want to grow up. I’m doing it kicking and screaming. Puberty once was bad, now I have to do it again?! I am experiencing hot flashes, acne and NOW I have to wear reading glasses?! Wtf- this kinda sucks.

My knees hurt, my back aches, and I am covered with bruises. Whaaaa! Yesterday I sprinted two blocks to catch my bus (only to watch him pull away and drive off) and it took me an HOUR to cool off. It was a hot flash on top of a hot flash.

Rant over (maybe). I will say the saving grace for me has been acupuncture. I’ve been going once a week and it makes a world of difference in my mind and body. It’s pretty wild sitting there feeling this tiny electrical storm work it’s way around my body while it works it’s magic.

All I have to say is thank goodness my appointment is tonight. I made my bus this morning so that’s one more sign this day is moving in the right direction.

cleaning out my closet

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Since our snow days, I have continued with the purging of crap from my closets.  I filled one bag with nothing but t-shirts!  Even after this mass exodus, I still have 3 drawers of t-shirts.  THREE DRAWERS!

What’s the point of keeping memorabilia if I have no one to pass it on to? I have a couple of t-shirts from college that I cannot bear to get rid of even though I will never wear them again.  If I were to wear a fraternity shirt now, my friends would look at me like I have three heads. 

I have issues of Rolling Stone magazine from high school, playbills and postcards. (Oh my!)  I have books and books galore.  I have a box of hair bobs that I will never wear again and skirts that don’t fit but are much too nice to give to Goodwill (and I’m convinced will fit again someday).

I’ve posted a lot of my crafty supplies on craigslist and soap groups with few takers.  So now what do I do with all this stuff?  I can’t throw it away.  It just sits gathering dust in the basement until I can grow a backbone and chuck it all.

snow day(s)

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Portland doesn’t see snow too often and when we do most folks just don’t know what to do.  The powers-that-be at work decided we needed to stick it out for far too long.  So by the time they decided we should go home the road were clogged and buses were way behind schedule.  I hopped on the first bus that would get me across the bridge then hoofed it 20 blocks in the snowy wind to a bar where I hoped the girls would catch up with me.  They weren’t too far behind and we had a good afternoon of beer and bar bites before snuggling in for a long winter’s weekend.

I woke early Friday to call the hotline to see if I had to go in.  First call said we had a late start – better than nothing.  What was even better was when the message updated and the office was CLOSED!

I had a day of nothing.  Not one single responsibility and no way to get out to visit anyone.  So what did I do?  Started baking… the day started with bacon cheddar scones and finished with an olive and parmesan focaccia.

I’ve mentioned before I’m on a quest for a good, reliable scone recipe.  I’ve narrowed down some of the things I like and the way certain ingredients react.  This day I used King Arthur’s basic scone recipe.  Instead of adding fruit or nuts, I added bacon crumbles and shredded sharp cheddar.  I reduced the sugar by half since it was savory.

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I like my scone to be a few bites instead of a meal.  So I shaped the dough into a ovalish rectangle then cut that into 4 strips.  From each strip I cut about 6 or 8 triangles.  I put these on my silpat and topped each with a few sprinkles of cheddar.

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This recipe suggests you put the entire baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking to solidify the fat and relax the gluten.  I did this, then baked for about 20 minutes.

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This is hands down, my favorite scone recipe so far.  The crumb was tender and flaky.  The recipe came together so easily and is quite versatile.

I had hoped this was going to be a snow day, so I had started the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Poolish Focaccia the night before.  Then midday I started the dough.

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I love this image.  This is the power of yeast at work.

Fast forward to dinner time.  I took half of my focaccia dough and instead of using the herb olive oil the recipe suggested, I folded in 3/4 cup olive salad and about a cup of freshly grated parmesan.  The only thing I’ll change next time, is add a little parchment under the dough.  I put the other half of the dough in the fridge for a focaccia pizza the next night.  That one didn’t turn out very pretty so you don’t get pictures of that.

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To go with my focaccia, I made Ina Garten’s easy tomato soup.  I made a few modifications to her recipe since I was snowed in.  I’ll make it again with a little better preparation.

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Bare in mind, this baking was all just Friday.  We ended up closing the still all weekend.  Its a rare day that I do nothing and rarer still, that I have 3 days of solitude and laziness.  I didn’t bake another thing.  I’d baked myself out on day one.  I did finish the weekend with pulling a nice steak out of the freezer and making myself a decadent dinner.

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Snowed in

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We have been snowed in since Thursday evening.  While I was delighted to have a few days trapped indoors, the one who was the happiest about this situation was Ginger.  She has been curled by my side, snuggled into my sweater, and following me from room to room.  I am getting the impression she’d like me to be around a little more.  This is pretty funny since she is the quintessential cat and generally has little to no interest in me unless it involves my providing her sustenance.

Coe and I got out for a walk to the grocery and the park on Saturday.  Sunday’s outing lasted just long enough for us to slip around one block while dodging ice falling from the power lines and trees.  Ginger decided almost immediately that snow was something she never needed to encountered again.  I spent the days baking and watching the critters in the yard.  I had 6 or 8 robins playing and following me around at one point.

All hail Mother Nature for giving me a real three day weekend.  I have caught up on NCIS, Sherlock Series 2 and 3 , gobs of cooking shows, finished my taxes, and the giant pile to sort for Goodwill.  I also ran into the snow in my pajamas and slippers to rescue a very friendly but poorly trained pitbull running about in the street.  His human came running up just as I was about to throw him in the yard.  She had no leash and was going to drag him home by the collar.  He would have pulled her off her feet in no time.  I gave her one of our leashes and if we never see it again, it has gone to a good cause.

As much as I have enjoyed this down time, I’m almost willing to admit, I am looking forward to going to work tomorrow.  Ginger will survive as she normally does, curled up on the wool sweater I leave out just for her.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie

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I’m terrible at the selfie.  I was recently on a flight and the woman across the isle from spent a majority of the trip taking pictures of herself.  I really wanted to rip the phone out of her hand.  Good grief- you can’t change that much in the span of a 45 minute flight- no matter how many times you fluff your hair!

Most of my “selfies” are my feet, hands, hair or pajamas.  But this week’s challenge has forced me to dig through my files to find a few that I can tolerate sharing with the world.

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Coe does this cute thing where she roots her head, snuggles and talks to me. This picture doesn’t do justice to how cute this action really is.

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pretty toes in the sunshine

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Ginger savoring mama’s lap

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snuggling with the visiting kitten

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enjoying a margarita after some yard work

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Coe making sure I’m well looked after

and updated to add one from today…

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after a snowy journey to the grocery store

ladies who lunch

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While I was off work for summer vacation, I hosted the work ladies for lunch.  I spent weeks sifting through recipes trying to find just the right ones.  I knew what I wanted, but the menu had not fully solidified in my mind.

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I wanted something like my mother’s antipasto, but wanted it in the form of a salad.  Needed something hearty, but light enough for lunch.  I finally found what I was looking for in the Leon Salad.  I found this on the Saveur website.  I’ve posted their recipe with my changes in parens.

8 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (reduce!)
4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (I used fresh and probably tripled)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (I used fresh and probably tripled)
1/4 tsp. dried mustard
1/4 tsp. crushed red chile flakes (added 1t, more would be even better)
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced into a paste (could use way more)
1 12-oz. can chickpeas, drained
6 oz.(-ish) sliced provolone, cut into 1/4″ strips
6 oz. (-ish) baby mozzarella balls, drained and quartered
6 oz. salami, thinly sliced, then cut into strips
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1/4 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley (oops-forgot, would have used more)
1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves (omitted)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (omitted black pepper)
I added juice of 1/2 lemon to cut some of the oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, thyme, oregano, mustard, chile flakes, and half the basil, and garlic. Stir in chickpeas, provolone, mozzarella, salami, and onions; cover. Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Just before serving, I added the other half of fresh basil and would have added the parley if I had remembered it was in the fridge.  I served over arugula that had been tossed with a little fresh lemon juice.

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This got raves reviews.  I’ll agree, it was pretty tasty.  Enjoy

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