Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolutions? Oh crud.

I am not a resolutions kind of woman. Never have been. Once in a while I would set a goal, but other things always took precedence. I distinctly recall as a child writing in my diary in the upper corner of the page every day how much I weighed, and how much I hoped to lose. The thing was, I didn’t have a weight problem at all then; I had a really bad body-image then. My weight never really changed, of course, so I stopped tracking it after a bit… and also stopped writing in my diary too. I wonder what happened to it?

Now I really have a reason to write my weight on the top-corner of that proverbial page. I gained a ton of weight when I was 20, when we moved back to the United States. It was pure culture shock for me, and I had left everything behind, friends, familiarity, and my horses… my whole life. I just fell into a really horrible depression and blew up 40 lbs in something ridiculous like 4 months or something, and just kept plumping up after that. And I’ve had a heck of a time managing it since.

It’s annoying to think that I never really was fat; and that I should have felt good about myself when I was busy being critical of every curve. I had a nice body… an hourglass body, nothing to be ashamed of. For a while, I was kind of a hottie. Now I want it back, damn it! I want to feel good about myself! At 37, it’s probably too late to hope for hotness again. Heck, I’d settle for size 14 and being able to cross my legs comfortably again. ::smirk::

Then I heard a little thing on NPR about New Year’s resolution—and that 40% of people who make them, achieve them. That’s significant. What’s more, they said that people who declare their goals are more likely to follow through because they’ve established a benchmark and told the world they’re going to work on it. They’ve made themselves accountable.

So what the hell. I’m making myself accountable. Will I follow through? If I don’t then I’m one resolution down already. Here’s my list. Some are easy, some are not. But they’re not impossible. They did stress on the NPR show that you should set manageable goals… I didn’t say “Lose 50lbs”… I just said lose weight…

We shall see. :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Notre Petit Maison.

This is our little house. We bought in in '04; in a rush to find a place. This picture was taken early in the morning of the Dec. 19th, before we really got whomped with snow.

Our tiny house.... Only a few of the windows actually open, it has a roof underneath the roof, squirrels and bats live in that odd space; the only heating source is a propane fireplace stove, and sometimes a mysterious smell of sulfur comes wafting up from the ether, so silver tarnishes in doubletime because of it. Irritating. And we do unfortunately have some very entitled seasonal neighbors from Beaverton (also known as "New California") who can be about as pleasant as our sulfur problem. We have a full-time neighbor on our other side with tons of cars coming and going at all hours, and the distinct aroma of a certain type of herb emanating from his house once in a while, and we still prefer them to the seasonal Beavertonites. Yes, they're that smug and annoying.

Issues aside, this is hands-down my favourite home ever. "Why? It's so tiny," you ask. "It's so far away from your job in Portland... Are you insane?" In short, yes. I am insane.

I am an a great advocate for 'living small' and humbly. In fact, I get really persnickety at people who dwell in oversized behmoth houses for no really good reason except to show that they can afford* it. I was even added into an article about small living in 2007. I have wanted to live in a cottage all my life. It probably stems from the heavy diet of British children's books I read when I was a wee thing where quaint Cottages are a mainstay; but a cottage (although ideally mine would have dormers and a thatched roof) is what I wanted, so a cottage is what I got. Okay, so it's still a bit cabiney, but I'm working on it.

We got it for a disgustingly low price as houses go, just before the Real Estate bubble inflated local prices to astounding levels. We were pre-approved for a higher amount of money, but I was determined to stay within our means (and looking at the mortgage crisis, I am so pleased with that decision today), so that (and my being a naturally bad neighbor who doesn't play well with others) led us to a very rural area, and to our little home. Anything in our price range closer to town would have probably involved our having to procure iron remote-controlled security gates and a pack of rabid rottweilers.

Across the gravel road is a row of houses that lines the Sandy River. So we can hear the whitewater rushing at all hours, and access is only a few steps away. At night, it's so dark, you can see the Milky Way. And when you're tired of the commute, then a little snowstorm is all the excuse you need to stay cozied up with the dogs by the propane fake fire with ceramic logs, and sip your favourite tea. We've got deer, and bears and racoons, and all types of forest fauna. The array of birds is incredible.

It's also managable for me when Husband is away on site helping to build wind turbines. Oh, and the dogs do love it too

So this is it. Notre petit maison dans la forêt.

*meaning, in debt up to their eyeballs.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Some Christmas Baking & Christmas Swag.

So I decided yesterday to bake my traditional Orange Cookies. I do them every year, much to my husband's chagrin. He doesn't quite like them because he dislikes citrus in baked goods. But I love them, and I'm sure if you like citrus, you will too; it's a very subtle flavour, and please don't feel confined to oranges... substitute it with any citrus you like. Lemon is especially good too. This cookie dough also works very well as a hard-shell for tarts. :) Shall we begin?

Indeed, Christmas is not christmas without cookies. I'm planning to make several kinds of cookie, but this one is my fav. You begin by blending the 'wet ingredients', which includes the sugar, but let's not quibble.. :)

Cut the butter up into little cubes, and add it to the mixing bowl. Then add the egg, vanilla and sugar. Grate 1 tablespoon of orange zest, and one tablespoon of juice from the orange. Feel free to take a break to eat the rest of the orange. :) Mix that into a 'slurry'--the butter should be broken up into tiny parts by the mixer... it's not a pretty sight, but it smells heavenly. Now it's time to toss in the 'dry' ingredients.

Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and give it a stir. Then with the mixer running, pour the mixture into the slurry until it's well blended. It should become a fragrant ball of dough.

And voila. Wrap it up in wax paper or saran wrap and chuck it into the freezer for a spell to firm that butter up again before you work the dough.

When it's chilled it's the perfect dough for cookie-cutters. Roll it out to about a 1/4" to 3/8", it's a soft cookie like a sugar cookie, and it shapes beautifully. Bake at 425º for no more than 10-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on them. Let them get a bit puffy and a very light golden brown. Let them cool. Then it's time to do the icing.

I keep the icing as simple as possible. Powdered sugar is a wonderful thing. You can blend it with a splash of orange juice, with milk or in the case of this batch, I used heavy cream. I don't have specific measurements for you, I just dumped a pile of powered sugar into a bowl, and then added splash after splash of liquid and stirred it until it reached the right consistency. I didn't colour it, but I could have, and I didn't add any flavourings, which I could have as well. I dipped the cookie top into it, twisted it as I pulled it away, and put it on a wire rack. I quickly sprinkled the desired decoration on top while it was still moist.

I couldn't find silver dots I wanted at the store. :( So I used sugar sprinkles, peppermint sprinkles and white chocolate strawberry curls. Mmm.

They're about 60% gone already. ::eep:: Give them a try, they're subtle and delicious. The orange flavour is not overwhelming at all, but it's there and it's GOOD!

As for this morning, it was an orgy of wrapping paper shreds and squeals fo delight. And I scored this year! I got so many great gifts... I may be revealing more of my nerdiness than I would care to share, but I got the whole Star Trek the Next Generation series this Christmas, AND ....

I got a real dress-form at last! OMG!!!! SCORE!!! I also got sushi-making supplies, books on pattern-making, lovely garden ornaments, and lots of other wonderful things! I'm so spoiled. I am now going to climb onto my pile of booty and lord over it, being sure to growl and snap at anyone that comes near it. ::hee hee::

Merry Christmas everyone! And a happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ode to the Burgerville Chocolate Hazelnut Shake (& more)

Served 12/31 to 2/1.

Oh, wholly sustainable Chocolate Hazelnut Shake.
King of all frosty beverages,
Rarely seen, fleeting and transitory,
Like the elusive Golden Lion Tamarin,
Only more delicious.

Your perennial numminess,
Replete with hazelnut crumbles,
Topped with whipped cream,
Fills the 100% renewable container,
Just as it fills my soul.
And my stomach,
Which is about to burst,
Because I bought the large.

My tree has been up since Thansgiving weekend. As usual,we got the potted tree so we can try to give it a chance at life when it's all done being decorated. I used all my snowflakes on it this year. Yes, I'm obsessed with snowflakes. I have them in all shapes and sizes. I think my tree is very pretty. I also used my collection of icicles. It's still small. I'm working on it though. My family isn't the 'save the ornaments every year' kind of family, so I don't have any special ornaments to display. I hope if I ever have a child, I can start that tradition.

Outside it's frigid cold for Oregon. A thin layer of granular snow makes everything look so clean. The brightness from my window-lights shines out onto the snowy deck, casting a shadow off the wooden horse that has a saddle of snowy sedum. It's lovely and warm inside.
Simon has been enjoying the cozy winter on the sofa chair. I had to take a picture of this just to prove what an indolent little fuzzball he is. When he's not chewing everything up, of course.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

100* Truths About Me.

This was stolen from my friend Steph's site. I do have thiefy tendencies when it comes to Memes. They require much less work and much less imagination from me than a standard post would. So woo-hoo, I say.

1. Last beverage – Water
2. Last phone call – Phone call purchasing department.
3. Last instant message – A while ago, with hubby.
4. Last song you listened to – Farewell Marian (Classic English Country Dance)
5. Last time you cried – Last night, reading sad book.
6. Last text message – Hubby, yesterday.

7. Dated someone twice – No.
8. Been cheated on – Yes.
9. Kissed someone & regretted it – Yes
10. Lost someone special – Oh yes.

11. Amethyst, Royal Blue and Warm Burgundy Red.

12. Fallen out of love – No way. It’s gotten stronger if anything..
13. Laughed until you cried - Just this past Saturday with Sis & Guy on Martini night.
14. Met someone who changed your life – In the past month? No.
15. Found out who your true friends were – I believe I have, yes.
16. Have you kissed anyone? – No, because Hubby’s been gone for 5 weeks.

17. What is your favorite flower? – The tulip.
18. How many kids do you want to have? – I’d be happy with just one. God willing.
19. Do you want to change your name? – Already did when I got married.
20. What did you do for your last birthday – Quiet Dinner with Hubby & friends Tara & Xian.
21. What time did you wake up today ? – 5:20 AM
22. What were you doing at Midnight last night? – Writing on Facebook that I probably should be in bed.
23. Name something you CANNOT wait for – Dec. 20. Hubby comes home.
24. Last time you saw your father – September of 2007.
25. What's one thing you wish you could change? – My past.
26. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom? – several Toms, actually.
27. What's getting on your nerves right now – Menstrual cramps.
28. What's your real name – Stephanie
29. Middle Name – Lynn.
30. Zodiac sign – Pisces
31. Hair color – dark brown with an increasing amount of grey.
32. Long or short – Fairly long when wet, when dry & curly much shorter.
33. Height – 5'4”
34. Tattoos – None. And I’m too old to get one now without looking like I’m desperately clinging to my youth.
35. Righty or lefty – Right handed. Right brained.

36. First surgery – Had shard of turkey-bone removed from the ball of my right foot (don’t ask)
37. First piercing – ears, first and only. Too chicken to do anything else.
38. First best friend – Jerome Sparks
39. First sport you joined – Horseback riding.
40. First pet – Black Pug named Snow-white.
41. First vacation – I have no idea.

42. Eating – dry vanilla granola cereal
43. Drinking – Chai Green Tea
44. I'm about to – go to the restroom.
45. Waiting – for the right financial opportunity to come along to change my life.

46. Want kids? – God yes.
47. Want to get married? – I am already.
48. Careers in mind? – Even now at 37, I am still up in the air on that.

49. Lips or eyes? – eyes. They are the window to the soul.
50. Hugs or kisses? – Oh, nice, enveloping, lingering hugs where you lean your whole being into them completely… I like those so much.
51. Shorter or taller? – Silly question. 95% of women instinctively want taller. It’s genetic.
52. Older or Younger? – Older. Nothing beats experience.
53. Sensitive or loud?– Weird choices, oddly matched, but Sensitive – I’ll handle the loud.
54. Hookup or relationship? – Random hookups can only do damage, no matter how much people try to deny it. Relationship or bust.
55. Trouble–maker or hesitant? – Those too are badly matched words, but I’ll take someone who’s playfully bratty over someone who’s fearful and hesitant any day. Who wouldn’t?

56. Kissed a stranger – Yes, a few times during New Year’s Parties.
57. Imbibed hard liquor – Is this Meme meant for ten-year-olds or Menonites? Of course.
58. Lost glasses/contacts? – Yes. And have had glasses chewed up by my dog too.
59. Run away from home – fantasized about it many times as a child. Never followed through though.
60. Been arrested – Almost, but no. Friends got caught, I didn’t.
61. Turned someone down? – Yes.
62. Cried when someone died – Uh… Yeah. This question is absurd. I do actually have a soul.

63. Yourself – yes, but I let other peoples’ doubts create more in me.
64. Love at first sight– Lived it. Yes. I knew my husband was the one the first time I laid eyes on him. His smile melted my heart..
65. Santa Claus – I believe in what Santa Claus represents. As proven here.
66. Kiss on the first date – If it feels right, why not? Just don’t do it for the wrong reasons.
67. Angels -- I believe there are some exceptional people in this world who would qualify as such. Especially George Soros if he decides one day to grant me lots of funds to realize my business dream. ::heh heh::

*apparently the original meme author ran out of questions to ask well before they reached promised quantity of ‘truths’. So in this case, this is 67 truths about me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Oh my goodness… Off the chart adorableness occurred just a while ago and I rushed back so I could share it before I forgot a single detail.

Today I went for a sushi fix to my usual haunt Sushiland in Clackamas. It’s right next to the DMV. It’s a busy place. I was seated next to a little girl of oh, no more than four or so, I’m not sure. She was on my right, and her mother was one seat over. She was the picture of cuteness. She had blonde hair put up into two little pigtails on the top of her head, and they simply both coiled into two perfect curls. She had wide, grey-blue eyes rimmed with startlingly dark lashes. She wore an eggplant coloured jumper over an off-white turtleneck and ivory tights. She had tiny leather mary-janes of brown leather, and a deep red pea-coat was draped over the back of her chair. I immediately thought that mommy dressed her very well.

She was fidgety as the little ones can be. She was unabashedly eating some shrimp and salmon nigiri with her fingers, looking about as she chewed thoughtfully. She was very chatty and engaging. She asked me a billion questions, about the colours and shapes of my keychains to silly questions about my cell phone, and she asked to try on my gloves, which I allowed her to do despite her sticky hands. She chatted with mom, she chatted with me and continued to eat.

And then it happened. He came. He was seated on my left. He was a large older man, round of belly and white of beard. In fact… he kind of looked a lot like this guy:

…except he was wearing a red Big Dog t-shirt and a coordinating flannel over it with jeans, and a pair of Carhartt boots. He had dried paint on his shoulder. But heck if he did not look exactly like Santa, down to the neatly groomed beard. He even wore oval framless glasses, no kidding.

And for a second there was quiet as he took the little sauce dishes and filled one with a little soy sauce and a lot of wasabi and the second with yummy pickled ginger. And then I saw a certain little face sliding into my field of vision from the corner of my eye, slowly moving forward to look around me. I leaned back a bit, and she kept staring and leaning in to get a better look at him.

Then she whispers very loudly to me but it can be heard by anyone within range: “Is that Santa?”

I whisper back: “Maybe. You should ask.” Her mother is smirking and of course this scene is not missed by the two or three other people on each side of our foursome; more people who are charmed by this suppress charmed grins.

“Are you Santa?” she calls out much louder. The bearded gentleman leans forward so he can see her and replies in a rich baritone,

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“What are you doing here?” she quickly responds, taking his ambiguous response as a resounding yes. It’s a good question; what is Santa doing here, he’s got so much to do? It’s already so close to Christmas!

“I was doing some chores and thought I’d have lunch.”

“You like sushi?”

“I do” He replies. “Just like you.” She smiles broadly.

“You’re doing chores?” she asks, anticipation in her voice.

“Yes. I had some things to do today,” he replies; all patience and sweet, kind-hearted indulgence.

“Are you getting presents?”

“Yes, actually.” The sushi place is in a promenade of shops. “I also had to get my driving license renewed,” he added, speaking very slowly and deliberately.

“Driving?” she repeats, eyes wide. “To drive the sleigh?” she then blurts. At that point nobody could resist the cuteness overload anymore and a cacophony of chuckles just exploded along the line of chairs at the sushi bar.

“Maybe. Maybe not,” he was his answer, his cheeks quite rosy. I swear to you, the guy somehow contrived a freakin’ twinkle in his eye. You should have seen her face. They left not long after and she called out while waving her free hand emphatically: "Bye Santa!" as her mother led her by.

I was charmed right out of my Børns. Seriously, that's just bizarre. I thought I had stumbled inadvertently onto the set of some really sickeningly saccharine Christmas movie or something. Disgustingly cute.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I do not like Wal-Mart.

I know lots of bloggers rail against the monster that is Wal-Mart, but I am just peeved at this company beyond words.

The last time I set foot in a wally-world was probably in the late 90s-ish in Salem, New Hampshire. I bought a half-barrel for the porch on my first house. They'd just opened the store, and I remember the throngs of people from Massachusetts clogging up rt. 28. I took a back-way and never went back. I went to the local nursery after that, it wasn't worth the drive to save $2.50.

Then I started to hear about some of its questionable business practicies, and its manufacturing methods, and the sort of labour industries they support where their employees are treated only slightly better than slaves. Hey, as long as it's cheap, right? "Let's lower product quality to save us manufacturing costs, let's be the ones to determine what the components will be used in the manufacture of our electronics and the ingredients in the consumables, so we can be sure that we don't overpay for anything." Lowest-bid construction and assembly... That's Wal-Mart quality!

Then I watched a documentary that enlightened me (and further infuriated me) on how Wal-mart treats its own employees, and how they put union-prevention over their employee and customer safety, and I won't even go into their environmental practices. I think the saddest thing I learned from that documentary was the number of small businesses destroyed by the appearance of a Wal-mart in communities across the country. Who can compete with that? Wally-world then figured out a few good 'green' things to brighten their image a bit. "Oh, maybe you'll forget what a heartless machine we are if we change out our light-bulbs."

I have my undercurrent of Wal-mart hatred, I confess. I never shop there, not even when we're broke. I glower in disapproval at anyone I know who confesses to shopping there. To me, it's feeding a beast, no matter how dire our economical situation is. Support LOCAL business. That's my motto. That's how smaller economies keep afloat; throwing our money at Wal-mart's stockholders won't.

Then they came out with their new commercials with their new mantra on them.

Wal-mart... Live better.

Live better. So unneeded consumption, in the eyes of Wal-mart, denotes a better life. Having more means acheiving happiness. Consumerism completes you. That's disgusting. And blatant.

But this last event... where some poor man was murdered in a consumer-frenzy during a 'door-buster' sale for flatscreens and digital cameras... It makes my heart hurt. Owning something should not create such a clamour that human life and personal safety suddenly doesn't matter. An 8-month pregnant woman sustained injuries... It's like people were turned into blind, panicked, stampeding wildebeest just to get that 40% deal on the portable DVD player. And what's worse, the store didn't even close up for long, just long enough to clean up the mess. And there was no pause in the never-ending commercials about with people bragging about how they got this great item from Wall-mart for so cheap. It's so disrespectful. It's disgusting. It's inhuman. And disheartening.

Merry Christmas to the family of the man who lost his life over a door-buster sale. Maybe Wal-mart gave them a few coupons for their trouble.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sisterly Love.

I love my eldest sister to the point of no return. Of all my family, she counts as the most pivotal person in my life besides my husband. She almost raised me to some degree; she watched over me, and showed me the essentials when nobody else did. When she went off to university, I was left completely without allies and became invisible. She’s that important to me.

She is also the person I am most comfortable with. With her, I don’t have to worry about hurting feelings, crushing those proverbial eggshells, I can just say things that come from my heart and know that she won’t take it personally, and that she listens on the most part. I can also act like a complete freak, and she will laugh and laugh. Making her laugh is my favourite thing, and I will go through tremendous lengths to do so, even at the expense of the public. For instance, yesterday, we stopped at Michaels for some crafting supplies, and I decided it would be funny to sing* “Jingle Bells” in an exaggerated Jewish accent at the top of my lungs to the store music. “Jingle oll da vay!! Oy vey!” We also tend to break into some insane dance-moves in other stores to whatever crazy muzac they’re playing. My sister does a mean running-man. I usually prefer the manic-robot myself. We are a public menace—all for the sake of our personal entertainment. It’s so obnoxious it hurts.

But I have to declare it… my sister makes me crazy. She's been staying with me on and off since July, while she wrangles some consultant work here in Portland, and moves her life from New York to Pensacola. She makes me nuts. Yes, she does. Two obstinate control-freaks in a mountain cabin together. I’m sure you can imagine.

Having hubby gone, I am doubly grateful for her presence though. She keeps me engaged, and interested, and comes bopping into my room like some caffeine-hyped-Pollyanna on weekend mornings to drag me out of bed so she can have her eggs Benedict at the ZigZag Inn. Then it’s off for some retail therapy. I get to follow her around while she spends inordinate sums of money on stuff for her new Pensacola home she never sees. Her houses are always like Magazine shots… and she dedicates a lot of time and $$$ to make them so. Not that I’m jealous or anything; I won’t think of the raw pine barn-board that lines most of the walls in my house (that her cat seems to think is the perfect media for claw-sharpening).

Ah well. She leaves after Christmas. I will miss her, but I have to confess, I will be glad to have my craft-room back and more importantly, destrocto-cat will be destroying trims and baseboard in her old colonial instead.

Okay, I will miss her. She’s like my best friend. Even with the satanic cat and her early-rising tendencies.

I'm lucky to have her.
*I use this term loosely


Related Posts with Thumbnails