Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day in Seattle is a kind of rainy and dreary (so much for "always sunny," I know.)  I found myself thinking yesterday, "If I was back in New Jersey, I'd be spending the long weekend at the Jersey Shore." The truth is, if I was back in New Jersey, I'd probably end up working at least part of the weekend, which is exactly what I'm doing here. At least here, I'm working from home, not in court.

My first class is tomorrow, and I've been hurriedly planning lessons. This morning's topic is the history of policing.  Rainy and dreary isn't great for picnics and parades, but it is pretty good for working.

But first, a word of thanks to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Here's a picture few pictures from our trip to Normandy last October.





Sunday, May 19, 2013

Saturday Sunset Walk

Yesterday was a great day. It started with Jon bringing me coffee and a hot cinnamon bun, fresh out of the oven, as breakfast in bed.

After breakfast, Olive & I got dressed and went on a hike in the park as part of our Hikes with Dogs meetup group. We hiked 3.84 miles that included some tough hills. After the walk was over, I had to get a shot of Olive lounging in the daisies.



We came home, took a shower (I broke a sweat on that hike!) and then we all went out to pick up burgers for a late lunch.

We came home, ate our burgers, relaxed for a few hours (I intended to take a nap but ended up playing on my phone for a few hours) and then ended up going on a sunset walk. We left home around 6:30 p.m. and walked for about 2 hours, totaling about 4 miles. That's a lot of miles in a day for Olive and me!

The weirdest thing in Seattle is that it will sometimes get really sunny right before sunset. So, it will be cloudy all day, but then at 8:30 p.m., as the sun sets, it'll dip below the cloud cover before setting behind the mountains. It's glorious.




We walked down to the waterfront then north on Alaskan Way, up through Myrtle Edwards Park and we just kept going up the Elliott Bay Trail! 


We saw beautiful roses, and these were near the Sculpture Park, not even at the Rose Garden, which is coming up...



Jon tried to entice Olive into the Sound but she is not interested in swimming. At all.





And then we found the Rose Garden, which is tiny but beautiful.




And this Salmon Net Pen... you can see the little salmon jumping! Now, I wonder, do these count as "farmed" salmon then? On one hand, they're being raised like farmed animals, but the plan is to release them, at which point they'll be wild, right? I don't know. 


Olive took off running after this little bird, which I thought was a roadrunner, but it's not. 


Although it did continue to taunt her with a little "meep, meep" even as we continued up the trail!



Someone before us had already picked this off the bush. It smelled beautiful.







Family portrait. I love Olive's little 3-legged shadow.


Skateable Art Feature? I'm guessing that's Seattle for "skate park"?  I know someone whose husband might want to check out this skate park when it's finished!

I told you it gets sunny!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cheese And Rice

A friend was visiting recently from Chicago and happened to comment that she's been trying to cut down on curse words (also called "swear words" which I've never understood... what are you swearing to?) Anyway, when she mentioned it, I realized that I haven't been using the f-bomb nearly as often as I used to, or any other bad words for that matter.

Probably:
1) Because I'm by myself most of the day! Who am I going to curse at, poor little Olive?
2) The public defender world was full of lots of colorful language (both from my colleagues and clients) and I've stepped away from that now
and
3) I'm pretty happy and stress-free most of the time, so there isn't much to curse about!

But, there may be another reason:

This Seattle Times article notes that a study found Washington the least foul-mouthed state in the U.S..

I thought for sure NJ/NYC would rank number one most foul-mouthed, but that honor went to Ohio, according to the article.

What could have me cursing in the near future?  I'm set to start a new jobs in a couple of weeks! It's part-time, so that should still leave me some free time for blogging, glassblowing, dog training and relaxing. I will be teaching undergraduate classes in criminal justice and legal/paralegal skills in the evenings three nights per week.

I'm joking, of course, that this might lead me to cursing. The worst I might say to my students might be   "h-e-double-diddly-hockey-sticks!"  Because I live in Seattle, obviously.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Baked Rotini

Hooray! Another food post! You ready? Good. I made a fabulous dinner tonight and I've got to tell you all about it.

I started with this baked ziti recipe on allrecipes.com.  And then I went crazy... When I follow a recipe, it is more or less just for an idea and the process, how long do things need to cook, what temperature, etc.  Here, I wanted to make it healthier by sneaking in a few more servings of vegetables and cleaning out some odds and ends from the refrigerator. The great thing about this recipe is that you could really use whatever you have on hand.

So this is how I did it:

  • Pasta: 1 box of whole wheat rotini. I thought it was a 16 oz but upon closer inspection, the 16 oz box now only contains 13.5 oz. I guess that's the new cost cutting measure. 
  • 1 lb. of ground turkey. I had some great farmers market organic ground turkey that I was dying to use. Of course you could use any other ground meat or go meatless.
  • Veggies:  I used 1/2 an onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 big carrot, and 4 medium sized baby bella mushrooms. Basically, I cleaned out most of the veggies in my fridge. I'd say you want about 3-4cups of veggies total, but all aspects of this recipe are pretty flexible. Use what you've got.
  • Cheese:  You want at least 2-3 cups of cheese. Again, I cleaned out all the cheese in my fridge and shredded it up, so I had some provolone, mozzarella, and, believe it or not, swiss! I mixed it all together after shredding it, so that I wouldn't have layers of different cheeses.
  • 1 can of black olives 
  • 1/2 cup of plain nonfat yogurt, this was my substitute for the sour cream.
  • 26 oz. of pasta sauce
  • 1 C of white wine
  • A pat of butter
  • A few pinches of salt
  • About a teaspoon of brown sugar
  • A few shakes of granulated garlic

I used my dutch oven and started by heating the butter.  I sliced the onions paper thin using the mandolin. I put them in with the butter, a pinch of salt and the brown sugar and let them cook on low for a while to caramelize the onions. Caramelizing onions always takes me forever, so I didn't bother to start the pasta or the preheat the oven until after I got there. I figured the sauce could always hang out and simmer if I needed it to.

While the onions were doing their thing, I chopped all my other veggies and put them in a bowl so they'd be ready when my pot was ready. I pressed the garlic using the garlic press my friend Hadley got me when she was out here. I sliced a carrot using the mandolin, since I had it out already. I chopped up the mushrooms tiny, I love mushrooms. I crushed and diced up the black olives, my husband loves black olives.  You could use any other vegetables - I think celery would be great here, I considered adding some spinach but I thought that might push Jon over the edge. In the end, I had a nice size bowl of vegetables, so that was good enough.

When the onions were nice and brown, I threw the ground turkey in. I like to add about half, let that start to cook, and then add the other half, just so I don't cool my pot too quickly.

Now preheat the oven to 375.

In a separate pot, boil some water, salt it, throw the Rotini in.  Cook about 8 minutes, stir occasionally.

When the turkey was almost all the way cooked through, I dumped my veggies in and stirred that.  I let that heat up while I was waiting for the water to boil and shredded my cheese.

Shred all the cheese. It doesn't need to be tiny because it's going to have time to melt. You could crumble it and you'd be fine. Since I used swiss and that's clearly not an Italian cheese, I shook a little garlic over my shredded cheese mixture and some "Italian Seasoning" from the herb shelf. There, that makes Swiss cheese Italian, doesn't it? Like I said before, I mixed all my cheeses together, rather than doing layers of different cheeses.

When the veggies were getting all soft and fragrant, I added the pasta sauce.  Suddenly, I thought that the pasta sauce wasn't going to be enough liquid to cover all the vegetables and all the pasta, so I decided to grab some white wine out of the fridge.

You know how you can never get all of the pasta sauce out of the bottle?  I poured the cup of white wine into the pasta sauce bottle, put the lid back on, and shook it like crazy over the sink. This got all the extra sauce off the sides of the bottle, so when I threw that the wine on top of the pasta sauce, it was tomato saucy and the bottle was clean!

I gave that a good stir, and let that simmer until the rotini was done. In the meantime, I also sprayed olive oil into the casserole dish to prevent sticking.

I drained the rotini. I put half on the bottom of the greased casserole dish.  Here comes the layering part, where the allrecipes.com site came in handy because I had a hard time envisioning the layers. I topped it with about 1/3 of the cheese. I then put the yogurt on top of that. The yogurt is hard to spread out, so my suggestion is to use a small spoon and just plop a little dollop every few inches so that you can spread it out as much as possible. It'll spread out a little more in the oven, the purpose is just to give it some creaminess.

I put half the veggie and sauce mixture on top of that, then the rest of the ziti, another 1/3 cheese, then the rest of the sauce, then I topped it with the last of the cheese.

I baked it about 30 minutes until it was all bubbly and the cheese was just starting to brown.

This was a pretty big dish, but I'll happily eat it as leftovers all week. I think it is a great compromise between a filling comfort food and a healthy food full of vegetables. If you're feeding someone who doesn't appreciate vegetables, the trick is to chop them as small as possible, let them sweat and soften in the pan before you add the sauce, and they'll be virtually invisible in the sauce.

Ok, the picture is out of focus... I was more concerned about digging in... but it came out looking a little  something like this.


It smelled heavenly and tasted even better. And, yay, leftovers!




Wednesday, May 8, 2013

And Now, For Olive's Newest Trick...

Olive knows quite a few basic commands so far: Sit, Lay Down, Stay, Come, Bed and Crate.

So it was time to work on more of a "trick."  We've been working on a pretty cool trick with Olive for the past few weeks, and we call it "pick it up." Basically, I drop something and she has to pick it up and drop it in my hand. It took a little while for her to get the hang of it, now she loves it.

We started off with easy things, like a tennis ball and a small stuffed toy. She would get so into it, she would keep trying to bring us things even after practice was over. Then we progressed to more difficult things like a drink coaster and an ID (both flat objects so she has to work a little harder to get them up off the floor.)  I kept trying to get her to pick up my keys, but she wouldn't do it, and I suspected that maybe she didn't want to try to pick up the metal in her teeth. I can't blame her. Then I remembered a rubbery keychain I had won on a cruise. I had her practice picking up that keychain by itself a few times, then added it to my keys.

Ready for the result?

I apologize to people viewing this on the mobile site, I don't think the YouTube embedding works that way, but here is the link, so you don't completely miss out. Enjoy!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Yelp Elite Event

I've been Yelp Elite for a couple of months now and I've enjoyed going to a few Yelp Elite Events. It's really fun to check out new businesses and chat with new people who are "in the know" about local happenings.

But tonight was Olive's first Elite event!  They had a great event at the headquarters of Rover.Com.



There was people food and doggie treats, an agility course, a doggy kissing contest and... a photo booth!


Olive got a yelp bandana and a doggy bag full of toys to bring home. She was so spoiled. I suspect she's going to expect the Elite treatment everywhere now!

Matter of fact, on the way home, Olive wanted to stop at Seattle Glassblowing Studio, even though they were closed!

"Open up... I want some Elite treatment!" 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Juxtaposition

I was walking home last week on a sunny day when I saw this little photo shoot going on near my home.


I don't know if you can see, but on the sidewalk behind her, there are two apparently homeless men lying on the sidewalk. Do you think that was intentional? Kind of a "beauty in urban grit" theme? 


To be fair, it was a beautifully sunny day, so maybe they were just soaking up the sun, not sleeping off their liquid breakfasts. Maybe.