Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tacoma Wearing a Blanket

Mostly this is a post about the last two weeks so that I can share a bunch of my snow-in-Tacoma pictures with people.

It's interesting how a city changes when it's blanketed in snow. Especially in downtown Tacoma, all the snow made it feel like we were the only people around. In fact, as we were walking the only other person we ran into was a photographer for the News Tribune. I remember snow like this when I was little, but even the snow we had a couple of years ago wasn't as heavy as this. We wound up getting about four inches, then a quarter inch of ice, and then another couple of inches. We got it a lot better than most people, but it was impossible to leave the apartment by car for a few days. Especially since we have a Mini Cooper and it just doesn't have the things you need for driving in snow.

There's a bit of controversy right now about Seattle and their methods of clearing snow and ice from roads. See, they don't actually use salt because of environmental concerns. Instead they have rubber-tipped snowplows that compact the snow and ice, and then sand trucks to give traction. This is rather silly from a toxicology standpoint because from my understanding the fresh water sources around here suffer from turbidity more than they would from salt. Turbidity caused by runoff of silt and sand. So it's still difficult to get around because the plows are lame and our Mini doesn't have four wheel drive or much clearance. Some side roads are still ice blocks with huge ruts and mostly impassable for us.

We had fun with it, though after a few days both of us were tired of it. I was actually looking forward to going to work so that I could just get out of the house and go somewhere else for a while. You could tell a lot of people felt cooped up by the snow. Work was a lot slower as we ended more and more tests before the holidays. Since everybody was going sort of stir crazy, we all decided to have a bit of fun. Though it was mostly Eric doing the construction, there soon was a snowman standing in front of our lab. Soon followed the next day by a 15 foot snow... sentinel tower.

So now things are starting to melt, which is good because we really need to go grocery shopping again. It was beautiful while it lasted, and when we visited Andy's folks at American Lake for Christmas Day, the lake was still as glass except for all the Northern Shovelers and gorgeous as the sun was setting.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Very Merry Eve eve

It's a white Christmas this year! Though it is starting to melt and get sort of dirty and nasty. I'm actually pretty ready for it to melt. It's a tradition in my family to open presents on Christmas Eve eve, so tonight was our giving night.

Instead of doing normal shopping and gift-giving presents this year with my family, we donated to different charities in each other's names. I was very excited to do this, because I didn't get to volunteer my time to stuff stockings like I wanted to. I found it great to look and see what local charities there were and to sort of match them up with my parents and with my brother Lee and his fiancee, Kelley.

For my parents we donated in their name to Scholarship America; my parents are both the first generation in their families to go to college, so they know the value of education and how hard it is for young people to do it. Also I remember during this financial class I took with my mom a long while ago, we were asked to write down a ton of goals and what we'd want to do with our cash if we had a choice, and I vaguely remember one of her goals was to set up a scholarship, which was something I didn't know and surprised me so I remembered it. For my bro and Kelley, we donated in their name to Fare Start, which is a very cool charity in Seattle that takes people who are homeless and helps them with job training in the culinary world so they might have the chance to change their own lives. With Lee and Kelley both being foodies, both love Seattle, and their giving nature, this was perfect for them.

That being said, Grunty the snow elf wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hot Cocoa and Christmas Trees

We have been drinking so much hot cocoa I have considered buying a Costco pack, which is a 70 count box. It is very cold out. I know this is coming from someone who has lived in rather mild-weathered western Washington for most her life, and I've never been in Minnesota or Michigan or wherever you snow-people live, and I admit I am sometimes a cold wuss. But right now I'm watching the news and they're talking about 2-12" of snow in Tacoma and 50-70 mph winds. I get to complain a teensy bit. For where we live this is pretty bad weather, and worse is that most folks don't know how to deal with it.

So we went out and got some groceries so we're well-stocked before the storm this weekend, luckily we're in a good area and it's unlikely we'd lose power. We plan on making a bunch of cookies this weekend! And staying in and watching movies, and enjoying our pretty Christmas tree.

We'd gone to the Honeytree Farm and cut down our own tree, which was a fun experience because we had to find a tree that would fit inside a Mini Cooper. There was a bunch of running back and forth with a tape measurer. We found a little Noble fir cramped in a corner by a big pine tree that had stunted its growth. The tree farmers had a good laugh as we bundled it in black trash bags and stuck it in the back of the Mini, with my seat slid as close to the dashboard as possible. My biggest requirement for a U-Cut Christmas tree farm is free hot chocolate for after your hunt.

This is most likely because in my family we went to this U-Cut farm often after the sun had set, making cutting trees a very cold, flashlight-driven affair. After we had chosen our tree and cut it down, which we often found bird nests in later on, we would go inside where there was a wood stove, free hot chocolate, and miniature candy canes. It's tough to break that sort of habit.

Given my penchant for birds, and that I was married in a bird-themed wedding, it's only appropriate that we have a bird-themed tree. This isn't a new thing, we've been hanging our tree with birds since before we were engaged. It mostly started because Andy didn't have a lot of ornaments so I folded a flock of origami cranes to perch on the branches. From there things just sort of took off. Pun intended.

And when I complained that our tree had only three lonesome ball ornaments, my buddies came through. Turtle, from work, gave us so many we should get a larger tree next year. Tam sent me a beautiful painted crane ornament, and cheerful new shiny shiny shiny bulbs.

It's a good thing we planned on getting a small tree this year, too. Partially it was because we wanted to be able to fit it inside the Mini, but also this is our first year with a Christmas tree and a cat. A cat who tends to get into things. So we're able to put this little tree on top of our big drafting table and have finally gotten it to a point where Grunty can't jump up to make friends. He kept trying to climb it while Andy was putting the lights on it. And when he couldn't climb it, he tried to eat it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Early Morning Pie Post

It's late at night/early in the morning, and I can't get back to sleep, so I went back through some of my pictures to see what I should blog about, and I found pie!!

Back in summer, when I tried to make regular forays to the Tacoma Farmer's Market, the time for buying cherries peaked. Rainier cherries are my favorite, a hybrid between bing cherries and something else, their flavor depends on how much red or yellow there is in each cherry. Or at least that's how I think of them. Anyway, they are delicious, and they don't stain the universe like bing cherries. It is a fact, however, that I have expensive tastes when it comes to cherries. Rainier cherries even at the peak season sell for at least $5/pound.

So! When one of the vendor's at the farmer's market was having a sale on her Rainier cherries, 2 pounds for $8 or something ridiculous like that, I bought four pounds of cherries. This is a lot of cherries. It becomes a lot more cherries when it turns out your soon-to-be-husband is allergic to raw cherries (totally fine when they're cooked, he's weird like that). I could have eaten four pounds of cherries myself, but then I would have gotten sick of them. So instead I went recipe hunting!

I went to trusty Tastespotting and came up with Rainier Cherry and Goat Cheese pie, from here.

Instead of making a goat cheese crust we made just our simple crust that we get from the old Betty Crocker cookbook, tried and true. It's more savory than a sweet pie, which I like because sometimes pies have so much sugar it burns the roof of your mouth. I don't think I've ever really liked a cherry pie, but then again I'd never had one with my favorite kind of cherry! Which are not bings, for me. The goat cheese makes the pie creamy and doesn't overpower the many subtle flavors of the Rainier cherries, and the addition of citrus adds enough acidity to keep it all from becoming overly sweet.

I can hardly wait for next summer to make it again!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


So! This is my first post in my new blog. What better to write about than my adorable, mischievous, way too smart for his own good, annoying, crazy kitty Rothko. He also has no concept of meowing, and generally grunts in response to all inquiries, so his more often used name is Grunty. He responds to either. When he wants to.

Rothko is just about a year old now, we got him when he was 4 months old from the humane society of Pierce county. He'd been living around a Jack in the Box in Spanaway. I know this because we ran into the people who'd brought him in. The woman wouldn't stop hugging me because the shelter had said he was too unsociable and they'd have to put him down. Her husband was crying, and he was a seven foot tall Viking.

They ran his bloodwork and they found he had Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), which is an autoimmune disease that usually shortens a cat's lifespan to a couple of years, depending on how their bodies combat it. A lot of times they end up getting lymphoma or leukemia and tend to get sick a lot more often than other cats. Also it's rather contagious, so it means no contact with other cats and no buddies at home. I had to sign a ton of papers, but we decided to bring him home with us no matter what.

About a week and a half after we brought Rothko home he suddenly got very ill and we had a late night rush to the emergency vet. He had a respiratory infection and was very underweight and hadn't been eating or drinking. The vet said this was rather common for shelter animals, and we hospitalized him (and he had to be in quarantine, with the FeLV) for a couple of days.

When we did bring him home, he was so happy to be there he followed at our heels and has been generally underfoot ever since. At his two week checkup after his hospitalization, he had doubled in weight, and he's been gaining weight ever since. We take bets now on how much he'll weigh each time we go to the vet (recommended every 6 months instead of every year, because of the FeLV).

And look at him now! Just ignore the unfolded laundry in the background. I know it's just three pictures, but I'm new to this! And my internet is so slow tonight it's driving me batty.