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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Project 365: January 24th through January 30th

January 24th: I got the gorgeous print Jen bought me at the Halloween Bazaar back from the framer who did an amazing job with it. It looks stunning with my favorite print that Roger gave me for my birthday a few years ago. I love having real artwork from gifted local artists throughout my home. This photo shows off the gorgeous paint job Patrick and Michael did on our bedroom too - Ralph Lauren paint - the ceiling is Metallic Pewter and the walls are the Cambridge Collection in a dark plum.

January 25th: I noticed this is another department at my work and had to laugh hysterically because when I hear the phrase "You Make Me Wanna Shout" I would not be thinking good I thought it an interesting take on the kudos or, dare I say "Warm Fuzzies" A lot of departments are trying different new ways to thank each other since we were successful getting Mylar balloons (which are Satan to the environment) banned from our building.

January 26th: I stay late at work...well, a imagine my surprise to coming outside and seeing this gorgeous sky while waiting for my short bus ride to the Max. The sky was blue, birds were singing and it felt like Spring outside - it really was a bit shocking to say the least. It also made me really long for the summer time and to start working on my yard.

January 27th: Driving home late night... I dropped by Ms Jessica's house to hang out for a bit and give her a homework break after my shift at the hot line. I took a record number of calls in a shift and several were actual interventions so unwinding with a friend was just the mental break I needed...followed by a peaceful drive home through the Pearl.

January 28th: Sitting in wait at Kaiser Dental for my appointment. I must say this office is uber new and fancy. My new dentist and his assistant are super nice too. I am in love with them which is good since I have a lot to get caught up on.

January 29th: Third Eye Theater presents Porn Shop!!! Here is Jen holding up one of the programs while we wait for the start - you can see part of the set. Funniest play seriously! It is playing until February 12th so get out there and support the arts seriously!!!

January 30th: My keyring... So, my actual keys are very few - I have a key to my home, my mailbox, my MG and Patrick's car. Well, several of my friends have given me keys to their homes since they live close by and if an emergency happens or whatnot they want someone they trust to be able to either get them a spare key or get into their houses etc. Jen got me a Ninja to identify my house key a few years back and now her and Jenna gave me ones to identify their keys since my key ring actually has A LOT of friend's house keys. So Jenna's is a glow skull and Jen got me what she describes as me in my glasses as Hello Kitty :) And yes, the Friends of Trees is doing a planting right down the street from me which is awesome since I just got them as a vendor for the Eco Fair I am hosting at my work too!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cats Versus Chickens

I have been meaning to share this wonderful picture my friend Jen took with her camera phone illustrating an average day in my household. Our youngest two cats looooove the chickens and stalking them. The chickens come to the back door a lot asking for yogurt, seeds or treats in general which gives the cats an opportunity to jump at the window and play. The chickens have gotten a bit more used to it and know the cats cannot get to them but they do jump when Macha (cat in Croatian - she is a Norwegian Forest Cat) or Yuki (snow in Japanese - she is a Rex) jump at the window like they were thrown at it. Our chickens pictured are Delilah (dark Brauma), Bernadette and Catalina (who were both black Australorps though Catalina passed away tragically on New Years Eve).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Project 365: January 17th through January 23rd

January 17th: Macha likes the bar...a lot...

January 18th: Picking up gas while running errands.

January 19th: This is the beautiful print Jen bought me direct from the artist at the Portland Halloween Bazaar for Christmas.

January 20th: "See a shoe and pick it up and then all day you'll have good luck."

January 21st: "Advice from a squirrel"

January 22nd: My new fancy blender to make my shakes and such. This was me "Getting to know your blender".

January 23rd: Patrick bought me a cute stuffed puppy for my Christmas stocking which Macha has liberated. She REALLY liked stuffed animals and she chews on him nightly dragging him throughout the house.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Project 365: January 10th through January 16th

January 10th: Dinner at Monteaux's Public House.

January 11th: Dinner at Lupe's Escape

January 12th: An awesome van that was in the parking lot at the hotline.

January 13th: I am working slowing through this book.

January 14th: Working on putting Christmas away for the year an ornament at a time. This is one layer of unique ornaments different friends have given us. The pirate flag, devil head and taco were from Grant and Shannon. The Dias de los Muertos ornaments are from Rob and John. The pirate ship and prism are ornaments I bought Patrick and the bat was one I bought myself. The pirate nutcracker Jen gave to Patrick this year for Christmas and the seashell was from Patrick's aunt and uncle's trip to Hawaii.

January 15th: Oni showing off why she is such a pudgy kitty.

January 16th: Yuki and Macha who were curious about the brocade duct tape Jen gave me which rules.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Project 365: January 3rd through January 9th

January 3rd: Vacation day one...Yuki likes to watch the neighborhood so she does not miss anything.

January 4th: Downtown for Heidi's birthday lunch at Todai.

January 4th: Karaoke at Scandals with Heidi for her birthday

January 5th: Karaoke at Boxxes with Heidi, her cousin and Kyle.

January 6th: Karaoke at Hamburger Mary's with Heidi.

January 7th: Mexican food at Lupe's Escape with Jen and her mom to exchange Christmas gifts and also get wonderful presents from her mom from her travels through Italy, France, Turkey, and Egypt.

January 8th: Escargot yum. At Chez Machin for Heidi's birthday party

January 9th: Glasses and wine stoppers hand made in Italy which Jen's mom brought back for us.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Yule Gift Bags

A few years ago I made the decision to stop buying presents for people. I found I was not enjoying just buying people presents to buy them presents and it all seemed sort of meaningless to me. I wanted to put the meaning back into gift giving. I also decided that I had a lot of different crafts or homemade projects I had always wanted to try but never the motivation or free time. So why not combine these two things. If I could use the excuse of making people presents I could use all that free time created by not going to the mall and buying people the same old tired presents. I could also have fun with it and try out a lot of the crafts I had always wanted to dabble in anyway!

The first year I just did homemade painted ornaments and dried herbs from my herb garden which have become a staple and I think I only failed to deliver herbs in the gift bags one year. Once we did homemade marinara sauce for everyone and another time I made everyone wine charms which went over really well. Everyone knows and loves the gift bags and now get excited as to what we will do each year. I make 50 of them each year only to keep it even and though I would love to give them to everyone I know I find 50 to be the perfect number. We have the first dozen doled out immediately because we both always have a white elephant gift exchange at each of our jobs and our present is one which is always fought over when people realize what it is. Then I have my three brothers and sister's families, my aunts in Woburn Massachusetts plus Patrick's mom, dad, brother's family and his aunt and uncle. The remaining 38 go out to our friends. We host what we call the Sugar Plum Potluck each year a few weeks, usually, before Christmas so we can get the bags to as many of our friends as we can and then the following week play Santa driving around to deliver the rest.

I usually start making the bags each year towards the end of the summer. I bought a $20 food dehydrator a few years ago from Target and I use the thing like crazy at the end of the summer when all of my herbs are at their peak. I try to harvest several times during the summer to get the most yield and some years I am way better at that than others. This year the gift bag contained: 1 jar of blackberry jam, 1 jar of lavender jelly, a few candy cane Andes candies, a bag of rose and mint tea, a container of dried bay leaves (from my laurel which I dried) and 1 container of another herb which was either sage, oregano, lavender or cat nip.

The roses I dried also using the food dehydrator and were either from my yard or from the master rose garden I walk by on breaks near my work because they do not treat their roses at all using any chemicals and they are cared for by a master gardener club etc. I combined the dried roses with pineapple mint, apple mint, orange mint and lemon balm all from my garden to make a nice tea.

The blackberry jam I make pretty traditionally every year now. I found this great street at Sauve Island which is pretty untouched by man or cars to pick blackberries. Personally I think the wild ones have way more sweetness and flavor so I much prefer using them. Blackberry jam is fantastic but not something over the top common though either which is why I think everyone enjoys it so much.

This year I started experimenting with jelly, as you saw from prior entries. I have a very large English lavender and in 2009 I made everyone lavender sugar from its harvest which was very popular. This year I made lavender jelly to either drizzle on deserts, for cooking or to even sweeten and flavor tea.

Each year is influenced by various events. In 2009 I got married to my long time partner Patrick and our very close friend John catered with the help of his partner Rob who is also a very close friend. Basically I bought the food and John cooked it with the help of his staff which was composed of mine and his friends. I had bought a VERY large bag of lemons and an insane amount of ginger root neither of which got used hardly so I was left with a huge bag of ginger root and lemons questioning what does one do with these two items in mass quantities. So online I went trolling through recipes when I found one for lemon ginger marmalade...hello! I thought, "perfect" and decided to make it to give out for Yule. This was one of our biggest hits and mixed up with some soy sauce it made for the tastiest pork marinade ever seriously.

In 2009 I also found our street on Sauve Island where I now go religiously to pick blackberries and mixed in with the berry vines were an insane amount of wild roses. The year we found the street it was super late for blackberry picking so I ended up buying raspberries in bulk and making red raspberry jam for half the fifty gift bags since I was only able to make about 25 half pints of the blackberry jam and as it was I picked those berries and did the canning the same night because the berries were so beyond ripe I was scared they would not last a few days! We went back to the same area though a month later and picked a giant paper bag full of rose hips. I then turned those into rose hip jelly which I will, to be honest, never make again but it turned out fantastic and was probably one of the prettiest jellies I have made. I could not believe how little jelly it made though for the amount of rose hips picked and my fingers were shredded - seriously I was stabbed by thorns so much and was just over it.

Here are some photos of the completed bags. Here is the bag and down front you see the folded "instructions" which is more a helpful suggestions guide for what is in the bag since I discovered the first year or two saw people receiving herbs like sage and having no clue how to use them since they had not before. So now I put helpful stuff for each item. The two Andes candy cane candies are amazing, seriously and hard to find each year for Yuletime. Then stacked up are the lavender jelly, blackberry jam, rose and mint tea and the two herb tins with clear lids.

Here is the rose and mint tea which I label.

So you can see the tea more clear because it did turn out rather lovely and VERY fragrant, as you can probably imagine with the combination or herbs and flora.

And here is a tin of the bay leaves.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Project 365: January 1st and January 2nd...A New Beginning

And another year begins! I have decided to start 2011 and do Project 365 again because I enjoyed it so immensely in 2010.

January 1, 2011: Happy New Year! Do you know where your kitty is? Ours hides under skirts... Our friend Michele became another victim of our cat Macha.

January 2, 2011: No matter what happens this year...I am starting it off with awesome hair...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Final Project 365 post of 2010: December 27th through December 31st

December 27th: Dinner at Karen and Peter's...Karen made us this delightful pumpkin cheesecake with cream.

December 28th: I made cinnamon rolls for my team in honor of the people and pet food drive at work. And those are my new headphones thanks to my husband.

December 29th: The cards finally stopped coming in...thank you everyone so much! We feel super loved.

December 29th: Patrick made me this amazing dinner of chicken Parmesan, asparagus, and homemade rolls with herb butter.

December 30th: Delilah has gotten so big!

December 31st: The kittens like their matching boxes and had their own special New Year's plans.

December 31st: New Years dinner with Jen, Jenna, Richard, Michelle and Greg: Corn bread with honey butter, blueberry goat cheese and crackers, buttermilk fried chicken, and homemade red beans and rice.