January 02, 2008

Sarah: Training Table

Last night I went to dinner with Blake and Lisa to this Utah Original and, I must say, I was quite disappointed. Now, I can't complain too much, because Blake is super nice and bought my dinner (I owe you, Blake!) and I had a lovely time chatting with two of my favorite people.
I've joked in the past that I can't stand the tiny plates that Training Table serves their food on, as if they don't want you to have any extra room for you to set your pickles and onions on while you chomp down on one of their many different hamburgers.
Small plates aside, I was annoyed enough with my experience last night that I looked for a way to let their management know what I thought. Their website doesn't have any contact information for feedback, but I did post a review on Citysearch. It probably won't do any good, but at least I've voiced my displeasure.
As a small recap, I've put together a list of tips for the Training Table staff. I say this while acknowledging that food service is tough, underpaid work. The hours are long and the holidays are practically nonexistent. This is why I tip well and always try to be polite and understanding. It is also the reason why I appreciate our friends so much and why the girls brought them a Christmas treat last month for the second year in a row.
1. Consider having an adult manager on duty at all times. Five teenagers standing near the cash register are not a managerial equivalent.
2. When someone orders something which is sold out (like, say, the soup), do not wait until after they have paid to let them know that this item is not available. Offer to substitute something similar or remove it from their bill. You know, before you've charged their card?
3. If you put cheese on a burger that was ordered without cheese, throw the burger out and make a fresh one, correctly. This doesn't significantly change your bottom line (which I don't really think the cook was worried about anyway), and the customer will notice the remnants of the scraped-off cheese, not to mention that the burger will be cold once you've "fixed" the order.
4. Trying to discourage customers from ordering within an hour and a half of closing is probably not going to be effective. Perhaps just skip the three loud speaker announcements declaring "30 minute wait, order if you want", "no new orders", and then "okay, you can order again, if you want" and accept that you might have to serve the people lining up to give you their money.
5. If you're tired of serving customers, you should recommend that they visit Crown Burgers instead.

p.s. I would like to add that I believe my feelings would be more favorable towards Training Table if I enjoyed cheese fries and/or fry sauce. Those are their signature items and are, by all reports, quite tasty.

Sarah: Here's to a tasty 2008

Lisa's baking reminded me of one of my resolutions for 2008. I plan to cook or bake something new each week of the year. After all, with the Writers' strike dragging on (Come on, execs, we all want this to end. Compromise!), there isn't anything good on tv anyway. That means I'll need 52 recipes and friends willing to be my culinary victims. Someone who is willing to wash dishes for food is preferred, but anyone that wants to come over on the weekend (I'm thinking it'll probably be on Sundays) and chat and taste with me is welcome. I'm excited to put my new apron, pots, and knives to work, and would love suggestions on what to make.
This week, I think I'll try pretzels.
Someone who is also interested in expanding their culinary repertoire and is a fan of cheese should try making cheese at home.

January 03, 2008

Sarah: You know, some people leave Christmas decorations up all year.

So maybe January 3 isn't doing so bad.

I present to you the lovely Christmas ornaments swapped by some lovely people.

Jen's ornaments were globes of glittery string that made a lacey cage for the gold jingle bells that filled the inside. They came in cute Christmas tins.

Marta included instructions to fold out her ornaments (it made me feel a little like I was participating in the process). These adorably patterned paper ornaments came with a tag so that we could remember when these ornaments were given to us.

Marci's glittery stars hang from a curly silver loop. I'm excited to finally have a star to put at the top of my tiny tree.

Jeremy personalized each of these South Park-style ornaments to look like each of the recipients. Clockwise from the top left, that's Marta, Marci, Sarah, Nora, Blake, and Lisa (the Smith family hit the jackpot!). Jeremy took the time to study our pictures and carefully choose clothing and makeup that he felt suited each of us.

Lisa crafted ornaments about crafting. What a great idea! I'm left wondering what gauge of needle one uses to start tiny ornament scarves.

I tried my hand at silver leafing and gave each person their first initial. Things I learned: metal leafing isn't as easy as I had imagined in my head (and it's a whole lot stickier), some craft stores are significantly cheaper than others, and the decision to try again after my first run of ornaments failed horribly was a wise one.

Thanks again to all who participated! My tree is so much cuter than it was before this exchange, and I love how these ornaments each have their own personality. I'm so happy with how this swap turned out and look forward to doing it again next year.

Sarah: Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Mallory. She's a great sister (is it 'sista' if we're not genetically linked?), former coworker, late-night listener, notch minder, crush sympatizer, gallery stroller, sleep over-er, Mohinder lover, and friend. I counted. We've been friends for almost four years, and I'm glad. Happy birthday, buddy.

January 04, 2008

Sarah: Sometimes my insecurities get the best of me.

M: So are you going to play with us tomorrow? Or are you too cool for school?
M: Whatever.
S: I was all "Golly gee Mally, I have nothing to do tomorrow except dip pretzels in mustard." and you were all "Wow, that's a shame." and then went off in the corner to whisper with Lisa about how my shorts are long and baggy and I'm wearing dingy sneakers. YOU'RE SO MEAN AND I HATE BEING IN JUNIOR HIGH.

January 05, 2008

Sarah: Resolved

Aging is inevitable, yet I wouldn't feel older than I was in high school if I didn't keep seeing tiny fetuses old enough to drive and getting ready for college. The five and a half years since high school have taken their toll, for the better and the worse. Though I've started sensing a few wrinkles in my forehead, at least my two-tone hair color has grown out and my bushy eyebrows are now in check (most of the time, anyway). Some things haven't changed. My bedroom is still messy with my unmade bed and desk drawers full of unnecessary items (though the price of rent has increased exponentially since moving out of my parents' house). I'm still a pack-rat, still press too hard with my pen on paper, still don't study as much as I should.
Though I still have many of the same faults that I had several years ago, my opinion of resolutions each January has improved. A few years ago, I smirked to my mom that I wouldn't be making any New Year's resolutions. The look on her face, as if someone had poured milk and lemon juice simultaneously into her mouth, has stayed with me. My obvious resolution towards emotional stagnation disappointed my mother. From my point of view, resolutions were empty promises, forgotten faster than a mediocre midnight kiss on December 31. That point of view has changed.
This year I decided to take advantage of New Year's resolution making. The personal goals that I've had for myself in the past several months have taken shape and I have committed to work on them in 2008. Without further ado, my New Year's resolutions:

I will try to blog more, but also improve the quality of what I write. This will hopefully translate into fewer one sentence entries. Or at least they'll be better constructed single sentences.
I will make at least one new recipe per week. Man cannot live on contaminated frozen pizza alone.
I will be more honest about what I want. Please note, friends, that this does not mean I will be more helpful when it comes to deciding where to go out to eat.
I will stop being paralyzed with fear about the unknown. This year I will take more chances and live a more exciting life.
I will make progress towards figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, because, well, I thought I'd be grown up by now.

Lisa: I flew there in a miniature plane

In an effort to...

1) clear out the old "draft" entries that have been hanging around, cluttering up the back end of our blog, and

2) celebrate Sarah's love of CSI and the miniature killer storyline,

I'm posting these "model village" pictures I made almost two years ago, inspired by this post on LJC.

The instructions to make your own fake model village pictures can be found here. Happy Photoshopping, to the two of you out there who haven't tried this yet!

January 08, 2008

Sarah: 2008 Cooking Adventure, Week 1

On this first weekend of 2008, I baked up a batch of mini pretzels with the help of my lovely assistant, Mallory.

Something was a bit off with the dough (I think that it couldn't rise enough in my chilly apartment), but I pressed on, undaunted. They were such cute, chubby little buggers.

Poaching them made them puff up even more. They came unknotted somewhat, but who cares? I used my pretty new pot, because, why not?

Mallory (whose stunningly beautiful visage will not appear in this entry, at her request) applied the egg wash and salt (not too much! Aside from having cute new bangs, Mallory is a salt-application genius. She could totally work at a PretzelMaker) and then we popped them in the oven.

I think these are the tastiest while they're hot. They keep for a few days uncovered and beg to be dipped in mustard and enjoyed with a fizzy beverage.

I was, of course, happy to oblige.

The recipe is after the jump.

Next week: I'm deciding between beef stew, roasted stuffed onions, or something fabulous suggested by a reader. Votes? Suggestions?

Soft Pretzels
recipe found at Smitten Kitchen, originally from Martha Stewart

Makes 16 full-sized or 32 miniature

2 cups warm water (100° to 110°)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 large egg
Coarse or pretzel salt

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

1. Pour warm water into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. In a small bowl, combine water and sugar, and stir to dissolve sugar. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit 10 minutes; yeast should be foamy.

2. Add 1 cup flour to yeast, and mix on low until combined. Add salt and 4 cups flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat on medium-low until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour, and knead on low 1 minute more. If dough is still wet and sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour (this will depend on weather conditions); knead until combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured board, and knead about ten times, or until smooth.

3. Pour oil into a large bowl; swirl to coat sides. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to completely cover all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

4. Heat oven to 450°. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray (parchment paper, ungreased, also works). Set aside. Punch down dough to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured board. Knead once or twice, divide into 16 pieces (about 2 1/2 ounces each) or 32 if making miniature pretzels, and wrap in plastic.

5. Roll one piece of dough at a time into an 18-inch-long strip. Twist into pretzel shape; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel. Continue to form pretzels; eight will fit on each sheet (you may need a third sheet if making miniatures). Let pretzels rest until they rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, fill large, shallow pot with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add baking soda. Reduce to a simmer; transfer three to four pretzels to water. Poach 1 minute. Use slotted spoon to transfer pretzels to baking sheet. Continue until all pretzels are poached.

7. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, or eat warm. Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but will keep at room temperature, uncovered, for two days. Do not store in covered container or they will become soggy.

Sarah: Vanity, thy name is Sarah

Santa rocked my world this year. He must know what a truly good girl I am. Or something.
How does one properly christen a fancy new camera? With badly composed self-portraits!

I recommend the Canon Powershot SD750. It also works away from the bathroom mirror.

January 09, 2008

Lisa: In case you were wondering...

Despite being married to a high school football-playing jock, I have no interest in football--I didn't in high school, and I don't now. And forget watching football on TV; on Superbowl Sunday, I only watch the halftime show. That said, I have fallen in love with Friday Night Lights.

As a relative newcomer to high school football culture (and certainly to the all-encompassing version that surrounds Texas high school football), I suddenly found myself needing to know the difference between a cheerleader and a rally girl--and whichLyla Garrity is.

Exhibit A: In FNL's first episode, Lyla says she has to go to "rally rehearsal," so I figured she was a rally girl.
Exhibit B: At the end of episode 2, the Dillon rally girls are shown delivering baked goods to their Panthers in a sequence that ends with Lyla bringing Jason a cookie in the hospital. Is this because she's his rally girl, or does she do it (and does he forego the services of a rally girl) because she's his girlfriend? Incidentally, (just like Wallace's spirit boxes on Veronica Mars) treat-bearing rally girls apparently do exist in real life.
Exhibit C: The show definitely considers cheerleaders and rally girls to be two separate things. Lyla notes their uncharacteristic alliance (and by implication, their accustomed rivalry) in making Jason's banner. The casting calls for extras support this, noting that 'cheerleader' is a specialty role, while rally girls (though required to be "super cute") receive standard pay.
Exhibit D: The Wikipedia entry on cheerleading doesn't mention rally girls at all, but I love that the neutrality of the article is in dispute.
Exhibit E: TWoP forum participants know all. BananasFoster explains that being a cheerleader is more prestigious and exclusive, while anyone can be a rally girl. TexasTumbleweed agrees, adding that the rally girls are indeed the providers of spirit boxes and banners. It sounds like rally girls are a lot like what we called "pep club" at my school.

Verdict 1: I think Lyla must be a cheerleader. She's often shown on the sidelines of the game, cheering in the uniform and with pom-poms, just like my school's cheerleaders. Plus, she was dating the star quarterback--clearly a role only a cheerleader can fill. "Rally rehearsal" must have meant practicing for a rally, not practicing with her fellow rally girls.
Verdict 2: I have spent too much time thinking about this.
Verdict 3: I love the internet.

Sarah: An Open Letter to Friday Night Lights

Dear cast and crew of the tv show Friday Night Lights,

I didn't attend a single football game during my high school career, despite my school being the 5-year-running state champs. I don't really understand the game and I've never tried to learn. Yet, you made me care about football. No, not just care. You made my eyes brim with tears multiple times as I watched the entire first season in four days. And for that, I applaud you.

P.S. Wow. Rawr. Drunk, greasy, and brooding never looked so good. You should market Tim Riggins as tough and manly like Dean, yet tall and lanky (both in hair and in stature! ha!) like Other Dean.

January 13, 2008

Sarah: 2008 Cooking Adventure, Week 2

For the second week in a row, I cooked up a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Ever since I read this entry, I've been salivating over the idea of beautiful roasted onions overflowing with homemade stuffing.

The result is definitely very pretty. I'm not sure that it's quite impressive enough, however, to be with the work.

Hollowing the onions took for. ev. er. I found that gouging out the insides of onions is the perfect way to get them to squirt their juices directly into my eyes. I cried so much that I had to wash my hands and take a break. Thank goodness for my stainless steel soap. It killed the onion smell on my hands, but there was nothing to be done for the smell that seemed to have permeated every corner of my kitchen.

After the onions were hollowed and the bacon was cooked, throwing together the stuffing was easy, especially since I used bread that had already been cubed and toasted for use in stuffing. Lazy, I know, but the grocery store didn't have any loaves that looked just right to me, so I figured I'd give that bag a whirl. This recipe is simple and makes a pretty, colorful and tasty stuffing.

I halved the recipe and only stuffed six onions. I still had a small dish of extra stuffing. I didn't realize until several hours after cleaning up that I had forgotten to include the cashews. Doh!

Verdict: This is a pretty, easy stuffing. I think the crunchy cashews would make it even better. I'll definitely add some to the leftovers. As far as the onion shells are concerned, I think this is too much work for me. Yes, the presentation is impressive and they infuse the stuffing with their flavor, but that ended up tasting a bit too onion-y for my taste, and the onion is just waste anyway. With the color of the spinach and the interest of the bacon and cashews, I think you could serve this stuffing in a large bowl and your guests wouldn't know the difference. I'd make the stuffing again, but not the roasted onions.

Recipe after the jump.

Roasted Stuffed Onions
Gourmet Magazine, November 2002

If you wish to make this vegetarian, simply omit the bacon, and cook the filling in olive oil instead. Vegetable stock can be swapped for turkey.

If you’re stressing because you have a lot of guests coming over, you can definitely do the onion-hollowing step a day or two in advance. The stuffing can be made in advanced as well, then brought to room temperature before filling and baking.

10 medium red and yellow onions (4 lb)
1 lb sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces
3 celery ribs, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz baby spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped (14 cups)
1 (9-inch) round loaf country-style bread (1 1/4 lb), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (10 cups), lightly toasted
2 cups salted roasted cashews (10 oz), coarsely chopped
1 stick (1/2cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups turkey giblet stock

Make onion shells: Cut a 1/2-inch-thick slice from tops of onions, discarding tops, and trim just enough from bottoms for onions to stand upright. Scoop out all but outer 2 or 3 layers from each using a small ice cream scoop or spoon (don’t worry if you make a hole in the bottom), reserving scooped-out onion and onion shells separately.

Make stuffing: Coarsely chop enough scooped-out onion to measure 3 cups.

Cook bacon in 2 batches in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp, about 10 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving about 1/3 cup fat in skillet.

Add chopped onion, celery, salt, and pepper to skillet and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in spinach, bread, cashews, butter, 1 cup stock, and bacon, then cool completely.

Roast onions: Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange onion shells, open sides up, in a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then add 1/2cup water and cover pan tightly with foil. Roast onions in middle of oven until tender but not falling apart, 25 to 30 minutes.

Stuff and bake onions: Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Transfer shells to a work surface and pour off water in pan. Fill shells with stuffing, mounding it, and return to pan. Reserve 5 to 7 cups stuffing for turkey cavity, then put remaining stuffing in a buttered shallow 3 1/2-quart baking dish and drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup stock.

Bake stuffed onions and stuffing in dish in middle of oven, uncovered, until heated through, about 25 minutes.

January 15, 2008

Lisa: news of the nerdy

Like every self-respecting librarian, I have the comic Unshelved emailed to me every day. It's a little like Dilbert, in that its humor lies in the everyday follies and frustrations of the workplace--but the workplace is a library instead of a cube farm. I don't want you to think it's just a Dilbert knockoff that only appeals to librarians, though--Unshelved is hilarious in its own right. The authors also do something I love with their Sunday strip: the characters "talk about a book they've read in full-page full-color comic strips" that often mimic the style of the featured book. The authors call it the Book Club.

In a tenuous segue...

One day back in August, I was reading my daily installment of the Unshelved blog (for those of you hoping to up the nerd quotient of my entry, this blog was accompanied by a strip featuring Jayne hats), and came across a mention of the comic Wondermark, its author David Malki!, and his video Me vs. Comic-Con: Who's Better?. Since I hadn't yet encountered the time vortex, I gave my curiousity the reins and watched the 16-minute video. If you have the time, and you like things that are funny, I recommend clicking that link. I discovered an intense love for comic book nerds that I didn't even know I had. I shouldn't be surprised, I guess, given my penchant for nerds of all kinds, including...

Johnny Lee. Blake came home from work today and blew my mind with these Wii remote projects (which you have probably already seen if you read more tech blogs than I do). Using the technology of the Wii game system, Lee has created a head tracking system (making the 2-D TV screen appear 3-D), a low-cost interactive whiteboard or tablet display, and finger tracking (so you can control the computer by waving your hands in the air a la Tom Cruise in Minority Report). Something is wrong with the world if Johnny Lee isn't handed an amazing job or a lot of funding.

I can't even force a segue here, so I'm going to stop pretending this is a linear narrative. For those of you who live in Salt Lake, Ken Jennings (who I interviewed here!) is appearing thanks to the King's English bookshop on Thursday, January 31st to host a trivia challenge and sign his Trivia Almanac, which came out today.

Also announced today was the MacBook Air, a disgustingly thin and gorgeous new laptop perfect for people who are always on the go or who want a portable addition to their desktop system. Considering the jaw-dropping Macworld keynotes this year and last year with the iPhone, I'm hoping next year Steve Jobs will be announcing the introduction of the disposable paper cellphones you can buy from a vending machine like on (the absolutely terrible) Ultraviolet.

January 17, 2008

Sarah: 2008 Cooking Adventure, Week 3

When you come home from class in the middle of the week, and your fast food intake in the new year is almost as nonexistent as your dating life (good and bad, respectively), you might as well cook up some Black Bean and Rice Soup. It's easy!

Add beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and spices to your favorite pot. Forget that you are supposed to add chicken stock. Leave the pot on the stove on low while you do homework for two hours. You're so responsible. And your hair is so shiny!

Return to the stove, add rice. Leave the soup uncovered in hopes that it will thicken. I love thick soup. Do the dishes because you are adorably domestic. And have straight, pretty teeth!

Add the bright green cilantro. Gather up some containers. You've just made lunch for a week. How fiscally responsible of you! Did I mention that your butt looks cute in those jeans?

Isn't it strange that, even though you first moved out of your parents' house almost six years ago, you don't own a ladle? Or really any serving utensils? Odd. Hey, remember that one time a couple years ago when you were acting depressed and said something like 'I'm just going to sit on my couch and eat sheet cake with a spoon' (because really, what's more depressing than that?) and your friends actually brought you a sheet cake and a spoon? Yes, I know they're adorable. But that spoon was also nice and deep, You can use that for the soup.

So, you took pictures of the new package of semi-disposable containers that you use when you bring lunches to work? That's... helpful. By the way, your new shoes are so hot.

Oh wait! You forgot something you were going to add to the soup. Did you just remember the chicken stock that is in the original recipe that is printed and sitting right in front of you? No, silly.

Bacon, of course. Just go ahead and sprinkle a bit on the top of each portion. Now, make sure that all of the tabs on the lids point the same way in your fridge. That is very important. No, it's not a sign of neurosis at all.

Recipe after the jump.

Black Bean and Rice Soup
makes 6 servings, recipe adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen recipe)

2 cans black beans with liquid
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth (hi, I always forget ingredients! I bet that, if you remembered this, it would thin out the soup a bit, but probably tone down how spicy it is. I guess my forgetting this ingredient might make it optional.)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 T ground cumin
1 T dried oregano
1 tsp. chile powder
1/4 cup white long-grain rice
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped bacon
1 or 2 limes (optional) for garnish

In a 3 quart sauce pan, combine beans, tomatoes, chicken stock, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and chile powder. Cook on low for 2 hours on stove, until tomatoes are disintegrating and beans are starting to fall apart. Add 1/4 rice and cook until rice is done, about 30 minutes. Add cilantro and bacon and cook 5 minutes. Serve hot, with a wedge of lime for each person to squeeze into soup.

Update: I didn't try the soup when I first cooked it because I'd already eaten and wasn't hungry. Dumb, I know. Verdict: Without the chicken stock and with less cilantro than the original recipe, it was too sweet. I'm going to put it all back on the stove, add the stock and some salt.

Sarah: Dream Journal

In the early hours of the morning, my brain came up with a few troupe names:

Natural Gas
A comedy group that cracks jokes related to the environment and living green. Yes, that sounded extremely un-funny to me as well.

44 Waynes and Reverend _______
I wish I could remember the name of the reverend. This name came up because someone else in my dream joked "he's like the 45th Wayne," as if this was a common cultural reference. Then that person had to explain to me who this group was. It's quite sad when you don't understand the cultural references in your own dreams, especially when your brain invented them. This group was a conglomeration of rappers, like the Wu Tang Clan. I am not sure if one must legally change their name to Wayne to become a member. They also sound like a bunch of scrawny white guys.

January 21, 2008

Sarah: Lately

Though you wouldn't know it from this blog, life has been somewhat interesting lately. Here's what I've been up to:

Attending the Utah Democratic Legislative Gala with my parents. I pulled out my fanciest dress for the occasion.

Afterwards I met up with my extremely attractive friends, who were studying at a nearby coffee shop.

Driving through today's treacherous snowy roads.

Hanging out with my niece, the bean. She eats rice cereal now, see?

That's a rice cereal goatee she's sporting. She is also perfecting her Superman pose.

I've also been partaking in other activities including, but not limited to: listening to an NPR program about Finnish music (including Apocalyptica, Jeff!), visiting a slightly disappointing exhibit at the UMFA, playing a game on my DS and marvelling at my TiVo recording Blade II (terrible), Blade:Trinity (deleted it, I've seen it before), Underworld (vampire theme, much?), and Sleepover all in one weekend (I'm not claiming to have the best taste in movies, but come on, TiVo. Give me some credit).

So my life isn't too terribly riveting, but I thought I would check in and let you know that cooking once a week isn't the only thing I'm doing.

January 22, 2008

Sarah: Email

To: Sarah
From: Mom
Subject: You're late for school!


I had this terrible dream early this morning that we all had to go to the dentist, and then we came home to get a bite to eat before I took you to school, and everything fell apart. I couldn't find both your shoes, or the hairbrush, and you and Jeff (who for some reason was REALLY goofy looking, with flappy ears) were just goofing off, the TV was on, you were turning somersaults and messing yourself up!

We were late! Bad mother dream!

I love you. Hope you made it to work OK in the SNOW yesterday!

Is your car running OK?



Updated to add the following conversation:
Sarah: Thanks for the laugh this morning!
Mom: It wasn't very funny in my dream, with you guys just goofing off and not paying attention to the time! How are you supposed to get an education with that kind of behavior going on????
S: Hee.
M: And to reply to your email, I am fine, other than being a totally inefficient mother who doesn't get her kids to school on time!
M: It's OK. I finally found your other shoe and the hairbrush. And you were looking really cute, with that little red twirly dress on. And long hair that I was in charge of combing. Which is my preference, don't you know.

January 23, 2008

Sarah: Mmm, Pie!

Today is National Pie Day. Not to be confused with Pi Day, this might be one of the tastier holidays that come to mind. Thanks to the American Pie Council (yes, my mind blew also) for designating this holiday. I am happy to support any organization "designed to raise awareness, enjoyment and consumption of pies." I always do my part to raise the consumption of pies. So celebrate this delicious holiday! Join the American Pie Council in solidarity or cook up your favorite flavor, if pies are in your culinary repertoire. If not, run out, buy a pie, and come over to my house. We can celebrate together, and I'll make the dinner if you bring the pie!

Lisa: fiat


From the Latin fieri, "let it be done."

1 : a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort
2 : an authoritative determination : DICTATE "a fiat of conscience"
3 : an authoritative or arbitrary order : DECREE "government by fiat"

(via Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)


Tiny italian car.

January 24, 2008

Sarah: 2008 Cooking Adventure, Week 4

Oh ma gaaahhhh, you guys.
Homemade curry makes my life so much better.

And I made up the recipe myself. I have never made curry before, but I couldn't find a recipe that matched the idea in my brain. "So I made some changes, using my own creative ideas."

I let the curry simmer until the potatoes were practically falling apart. It was really tasty. At least according to me.

Recipe after the jump.

Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Cashews
(makes about 6 to 8 servings)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 small yellow onions, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ginger
4 T curry powder
4 T water
1 T olive oil
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup milk (I used skim, but you could use whatever.)
10 small red potatoes, halved (or substitute about 2 regular potatoes)
3 chicken breasts, cubed
handful of cashews, chopped
salt to taste

Combine garlic, onion, ginger, and olive oil and saute until browned. In a separate small bowl, mix together curry powder and water. Add curry paste to onion mixture and saute together until smell is strong and fragrant.

Stir in coconut milk and regular milk. Then add potatoes and chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until chicken is cooked and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

Stir in cashews and add salt to taste. Cook up some rice and enjoy!

January 27, 2008

Sarah: Tonight, I'll be your Nerdy Girl*

Yesterday was deliciously full of nerdy activities. On top of my daily Scrabulous-losing, I geeked out while doing the following:

Highjacking my sister's new computer while babysitting for an hour to goof off with Photo Booth.

What's self-respect?

Buying a typewriter for only $8 at a thrift store thanks to Mallory's genius tip. It works great and I am loving it. It reminds me of the typewriter my parents had before we bought our first computer, which came complete with a tractor feed printer.

The only problem I've noticed so far that I'm at all concerned about is that the 1 key doesn't seem to work. That means I'll have to count with care and refrain from phrases like "He was just soooo cute!!!!!!!!!! lol! What if he doesn't like me?!?!?!!?! OHS NOESSSSS!!"
You're welcome.

Watching my brother's band, who played better than I've ever heard them (good work, guys!), hack some Wii controls to play the drum track on one song. It was a cool effect.

As a slightly less geeky activity, I wrapped up the day by watching Gone Baby Gone at the dollar theater. The movie is gritty and, as my mom would say "pri. tty. rough". Still, I thought it was well done. It's rated R for a reason, so you've been warned, but Casey Affleck does a great job (and he's cute) and I think Ben Affleck is a better director than he is an actor.

*Yeah, that title was a stretch. Kudos if you figured out that I was modifying a Beyonce song. If not, I can't blame you.

January 28, 2008

Sarah: Rest In Peace

As I'm sure most of you have heard, last night President Hinckley died. The leader of LDS church, Pres. Hinckley was kind, funny, and accepting. The world was a better place with him in it.

January 29, 2008

Sarah: Letterpress

While looking around my house for some samples of my writing (no particular reason), I realized that I never posted much about the letterpress class that Lisa and I took last summer. As far as the class itself, I would recommend it to anyone. It made me think in a different way and was a blast. Below are some of the works I produced.
Letterpress has a lot of aspects that can't really be captured in an image (especially one taken in poor light with a non-professional camera). A poem of less than 40 words took about an hour to set, letter by letter. The press leaves an impression on your thick, soft paper. The ink cannot be exactly replicated once it has been used up, because you mix the colors by hand on a smooth acrylic slab. Your left arm becomes stronger than your right as you pull the heavy wheel of the press towards you to print each single page. The size and face of your type is determined by many factors, not the least of which is whether you will have enough letters to spell the words you have chosen.
It's a slow, tedious process, but I always loved the result. Anyway, you should try it.

Color balance on these images is terrible. Like I said, bad lighting. This is what I get for blogging at night.
The text of three of my projects is after the jump, if you're curious.

The weeds reach up to welcome me as I sink down into the murky depths. The last bubble of air escapes my lips as the currents brush across my goosebumped flesh. What was once a bottomless abyss now ends in a sandy floor.
The pressure is killing me.

We squeezed into an empty space.
The ether spills into the sun, the gases rise
through the cold air, crooked, bending
stars of light.
We sink, purposeless, to sleep.
Dizzy, spinning
Wonderful... round and round
Dizzy. Spinning.

Working tirelessly in his workshop, Frederick was the premiere taxidermist of the east coast. Famed for his realistic representation of indigenous birds, he could often be found working nights and weekends. Though his home was filled with pheasants, crows, and robins, it had one empty place. The table was always set for two, but Frederick ate alone. He continued to wait each night, hoping his wife would return.

*For this project I had to choose words included in a scientific article. In this way, my vocabulary was limited, but the end result could be anything I imagined.
**This project had to be a story inspired by a zinc cut (like a metal stamp) image supplied by the lab. My zinc cut was the bird that you can see in the first image above. If you spot the typo in that image, you get +2 smart points. If you tell me that I'm sort of dumb because I didn't notice this typo until I had printed my project, you get -3 nice-friend points.

January 30, 2008

Sarah: Well-Versed

A moment ago, I almost emailed a well-read friend of mine to ask what book it was where the main character would unbend a paperclip in his hand to calm himself. I distinctly remembered the passage where he likened this paperclip to a lightening rod that took away all of his nervous energy. Approximately one second before writing said email, I realized where I had acquired that image.

It's from Maid in Manhattan.

And then I had to kill myself: for almost sending the email, for remembering this scene, but most importantly for believing it was a book.

And then I shared my shame with the entire internet. Ugh.

Lisa: yard work

Blake and I never had a yard before moving into our house, and it has been kind of a rude awakening. I thought about the furniture we'd need for our new place, but not rakes and shovels and fertilizer and lawnmowers and all of that. I also underestimated the time it takes to keep things looking really nice over the entire growing season.

The previous homeowners thankfully had a pretty low-maintenance system going. I always intend to weed everything on a more regular basis, but we've been able to keep things basically in control between the automatic sprinklers, one or two pruning sessions, and a (usually) weekly lawn-mowing. But who doesn't want to improve on the status quo, right?

Spring 2005

I bought some planters on clearance at JoAnn's, and filled one with flowers and the other with herbs. The herbs hung outside our kitchen door (theoretically for easy cooking access)...

and the flowers beautified our (non-functional and somewhat hideous) lamp post. I was totally proud of myself for buying some black chain at Home Depot and improvising a hanging system for this planter.

Spring 2006

I picked up two more planters for herbs, and added one on the other side of the kitchen door and one around the corner over our trash cans, to counteract the delicious warm-garbage aroma. I really liked the look of the planters flanking our kitchen door, but they had to get watered every day or they'd dry out in the bright summer sun. That just gave me an excuse to buy a cute watering can and feel all domestic!

We also bought two lilac bushes for the empty corner of our back yard that gets tons of sun and had previously been planted with tomatoes (turning the soil acidic). One of the bushes is doing great, while the other looks sickly and will probably have to be replaced.

Spring 2007

I had really ambitious yard plans last year, but I got pregnant. We started off well, ripping up about half of the black weed-blocker fabric under the top layer of dirt in our flower beds and tilling out the weed-infested area behind our garage for a future vegetable garden. We even cut down the bizarre eight-foot-tall bush-tree at the corner of the house (you can see it on the right of the top picture here) and let it grow back as a regular bush. Soon, however, lifting heavy things and bending down in the heat was mentally and physically out of the question--and I didn't even pull out the planters again.

Spring 2008

This year maybe I'll be able to get to the projects I meant to do last year--a vegetable garden and a raised herb plot off the back patio. The vegetable garden will go behind the garage, where there is a separate sprinkler station so that we can set the timing however we want. There's plenty of sun back there, and the weeds are thriving, so I think it could be a good place for it. The herb plot will go in the weird triangular space between the back patio and the fence separating the yard from the driveway--it's really hard to get the lawnmower in there anyway. LJC is my inspiration for both of these. I want the herb plot to be in sort of a raised box, like this, and I love her four-square veggie garden. I think I'll plant our vegetables in rows, though, since the area behind the garage is more of a rectangle than a square. Maybe when it gets warmer, Nora will love spending time outside and can keep me company while I work on the garden. Who knows?

Spring 2009

Sometime down the road I want to put in a little flagstone patio with a pergola over it on the side of the garage, to make some shade in that end of the yard. I also want to replace the aluminum awning over the back patio with a pergola, and get new (possibly fabric?) awnings for the front and kitchen doors. Onward and upward!

If you've done any of these things before, please share your tips with me in the comments. Assume I know nothing.

January 31, 2008

Sarah: Open Letter

Dear Express,
Curse you for seducing me with your new selection and your email coupons. I hate how much I love you. I just can't quit you. You had me at hello, etc.
But this? Stirrup pants? I cannot abide these abominations, Express. Sure, leggings were one thing, but I still have nightmares about fourth grade and stirrup pants. How could you?!

But it looks like you have some cute new dresses, so I'll see you this weekend?

Always and forever,