Sunday, August 29, 2010

Warm Fuzzies & Half-Heartedness

Things I am loving (warm fuzzies):

♥ Anything involving summer fruit. Peach pies, berries & more berries, plums, stone fruit crisps, favorite part of summer I think.
♥ picnics at the beach with Brent.
♥ Farmer's Market. A treat for all the senses, and love all the dog- and people-watching.
♥Oreos and milk. I was never a huge fan, and then I discovered the peanut butter Oreos. But even better is regular Oreos, spread with peanut butter, and dunked in milk until soggy.
♥ On a real sweets kick lately, good thing I am underweight and supposed to be gaining back my weight.
♥ Costco! Where else can I buy a 72 oz bag of chocolate chips for $7, a 48 oz container of cream cheese for $6, and a 10-pack boz of Oreos for $7, and a huge container of strawberries for $6. (P.S. all the bad stuff was for a recipe)
♥ This blog I stumbled on The Pioneer Woman. Why has it taken me so long to find this? She blogs about cooking, photography, and some other things, takes beautiful photos, and when she posts a recipe, she actually includes a lot of helpful photos. It is much harder for me to cook something without seeing at the very least the end result. She has photo tips and tutorials, she is witty, loves her family...AH! I think I am in love.
♥ Sesame Crepes from Trader Joe's. Good plain, even better with cream cheese, amazing with cream cheese and jam.
"Despicable Me"! My new favorite animated movie
The Glass Castle was such a good book, finished it in about a week. Not depressing like I thought it would be. Really enjoyed it! I thought it was really inspiring.

Not loving (half-Hearted)
♥ All the reality shows about families with a zillion babies. For the most part it doesn't bother me so much that some parents have a bunch of kids, I understand there are fertility problems and sometimes multiples is a result of the treatments. But does it mean that I can just pop out 6 babies and automatically qualify for a reality show? Hmm...maybe my mind is on the wrong path for career choices?
♥ Cold showers. I don't care how hot it is outside, I need at least some warmth to my showers. Do not, I repeat, do NOT take hot showers for granted!
♥ Rude pharmacists. It seems like lately the pharmacy people (I won't mention which one) have been so incredibly unfriendly. I know you are busy, you probably hate your job, and are sick of getting yelled at all day. But when I greet you with a smile and I am nothing but nice to you, don't I deserve a smile back or at the very least not treated like a drug addict when you hand my pain pills? You don't know my story.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Painted Sky

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
I will take the hot weather if it means incredible sunsets like this! I have a huge amount of sunset photos stashed away. Ranging from San Francisco to Europe, up and down the west coast, Mexico, even Africa, and beyond. Each unique in its colors, the patterns of clouds, gradation in hues, and each feeling like a completely new experience. Some days the sunset brings nothing special and on some not even visible. But others, with the striking combination of pink, orange, blue, purple...look like someone swept the sky with bright watercolor paints and illuminated the scene from behind. I love the way the colors change from minute to minute, even after the sun is no longer visible. When most people leave after the sun disappears, I like to stay because it continues to change and develop. The most beautiful I have ever seen were in Africa. They did a lot of controlled burning of the brush, and the bright orange sun against the smoke created a breathtaking sight.
Sharing the experience of watching such beauty with someone is special & even romantic. I also feel a sense of security with the setting sun - the sun always sets, and the next day it always rises. With my back pain and current situation some days are more challenging than others. But just as the light is swept away so is the day, wiping clean our slates with promise of a new day, a fresh start. Just like the above lyrics say, the days come and go quickly, bringing the good and the bad, and something great can happen overnight. When my days are too much to handle I can take assurance in that once I see the sunlight begin to fade, I know I made it through the day and cross my fingers for the next. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and my seedlings will turn to sunflowers and my pain will be gone...or if that is aiming to high, I hope to have a nice day spent with someone I love, make someone laugh, take a great photo, and if I am lucky...see another sunset like this! Because with such a magnificent sight as this, what a sweet, special, & beautiful way to end the day.

*lyrics from "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof
*Photos taken at Pines Park, Dana Point, CA

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in California anymore...

The signs I knew I was not in orange county anymore:
  • There was a tornado shelter in the Denver airport.
  • Huge bat's nest outside my window, and one got into the house one night.
  • Eating pancakes one morning, I looked down and there was a spider crawling across that plate. "Was that IN your pancake?" Hillary asked.
  • Bears and mountain lions roaming the yard
I went with the Williams on their annual family reunion trip. Two years ago I went with them to Chama, New Mexico, this time we are at Eagle Eye Ranch in Granby, Colorado. It is a huge 100-year old ranch house (the website does not even do it justice) with three floors and more beds than I can count. just one room alone on the third floor there were 10 beds (5 bunk beds).
It was a fun trip. Gorgeous area, only my second time in Colorado, the first just passing through on a train but didn't spend any time there. The 5 days were filled with hikes, relaxing, trips into the local towns, card playing, snapping pictures left and right, trip to the local hotsprings and playing with the caretaker's three dogs- Gonzo the basset hound, Ivy the Husky, Bentley the American Bulldog, and Tyler & Hillary's dog Bodhi.
{Highlights of the trip}
On the flight to Denver, I wanted some kind of ice pack for my back, so I brought a ziplock bag, and filled it with ice from the airport Starbucks. About halfway into the flight my leg felt strange and realized the entire bag of ice had melted and completely leaked out. My jeans, seat and back pillow were all soaking wet and I had to sit like that for the remainder of the flight. Luckily I was wearing dark jeans so it didn't look like I completely peed myself.

The caretaker had warned us not to go outside alone at dawn or dusk because there had been bear and mountain lion sitings. The first morning we went outside and there was a big bear print on Tyler's car, but luckily it didn't try to break in!!

I went on a hike, a 2.5 mile hike. Yes, ME! I paid for it later bigtime, I think I am STILL not back to my baseline of pain. But that being said, it was really fun and I am glad I went! Beautiful hike with a really cool abandoned and dilapidated house, a wild raspberry bush, wildflowers, wild mushrooms....
We were able to fill a ziplock bag with the raspberries on the hike. We ate them for dessert with vanilla ice cream and they were so sweet and fresh and amazing!
Tyler and Hillary made a killlllller dinner on their night: chicken posole, sweet potato fries, and spinach salad. Absolutely delicious!
Granby is about 2 hours away from Denver (above is the downtown Denver skyline). To break up the driving and flying time for me & my awesome back, we spent the last night in Denver and flew home the next day.
So on Monday night we went into downtown Denver and explored the 16th street mall. Its a 1.25 mile long stretch of restaurants, shops, and street performers, we saw a lot of musicians. It was a cute little area and fun to explore, my favorite part was the pianos. The city rolled out nearly a dozen pianos painted by local artists in the midst of the 16 blocks of the outdoor area. Anyone is free to just plop down and play away on the pianos, and we saw quite a few of them occupied-so cool!
Dodging bears, hiking through Colorado, learning how to build a fire....I kind of like Colorado Chelsea!
♥ ♥ ♥

I'm Melting!

It's been hot. Real hot. But only lately...while our summer months have barely felt like summer at all, the rest of the country has been battling record heat.

2010 seems like it has been a very confused year. Due to the strange weather, the Junebugs didn't know when to come, they came in July. We have "May Grey", "June Gloom", and this year a new term was coined - "No Sky July". July came and went with gloomy, sometimes even cold weather. Hmmm...halfway into summer and...where is summer? We had maybe one week of real hot summer weather and that was it!

So when we were welcomed back from Colorado with actual summer weather I was not prepared. Today was 100 degrees in the backyard. The water heater has been broken for almost a week which means no hot showers. I had avoided a cold shower for a few days, but yesterday's ice cold shower briefly made the 100 degrees feel not quite as bad. ♥

P.S. trip to Colorado and other Chelsea tidbits on their way..

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Reading

When Nick and I were kids, my mom set up a summer reading program for us. We chose a realistic number of books we thought we could read during the length of the summer. Then each time we finished a book, we got a treat of our choice, usually a donut or ice cream. Then at the end of the summer if we had reached our goal, we got a big prize that we had decided on in the beginning. The only one I remember was a trip to Wild Rivers Water Park. We loved it, and it was a great way to get us to read.
Today I got a library card. Finally. I had thought about it every now and then but never remembered to apply for one-not that it is hard. But today was the day, and I can't believe how excited I got! It totally reminded me of going to the library when we were kids and coming home with stacks of book to peruse. Today I felt like that same little kid, looking up at the rows and rows of books, shelves twice my height.

I brought home 4 books...3 on photography, 1 on back pain (more out of curiosity for what it said than anything). I feel like such a nerd getting so excited about a library card but hey, I am going to embrace it!

Papa Chamness & Peach Pie

Thursday I drove down to Carlsbad to see my dad. I planned to spend the night to space out the drive, so we also planned to cook dinner at his house. My dad grilled White Sea Bass my brother had caught, whipped up a batch of his famous garlic mashed potatoes, and a nice side salad. Nick and Andrea joined us for dinner as well.

After weeks of the juiciest, sweetest peaches from the farmer's market I was dying to bake something with them. After lots of browsing through my recipes and cookbooks, I decided on a pie from my Aunt Carol. She lives Beaverton, Oregon, so I don't see her often, but I was thinking about her while I was making it. Peach, Nectarine, Apricot & raspberry...what a combo, the raspberries were such a wonderful contrast to the rest of the fruit. Wow! We were too impatient and didn't let the pie set enough, so our plates were a runny gooey mess of filling, crust, and melty french vanilla ice cream. Messy but perfect. Thanks Aunt Carol! ♥
{Fresh Peach, Nectarine, Apricot & Raspberry Pie}
Pastry for 9"-2 crust pie
6 cups total of sliced & peeled fresh peaches, sliced & peeled nectarines, unpeeled & sliced apricots, and large handful of raspberries
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 c flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 Tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 9" pie pan with pastry. Mix fruit and lemon juice. In separate bowl, mix sugar, flour and cinnamon; stir into fruit mixture. Turn into pastry- lined pan; dot with butter. Cover with top pastry, seal and flute. Cut slits in top. Cover edge with 2"-3" strip of foil. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking. Bake until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust - 40-55 minutes. Serve Warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

P.S. It has taken me a long time to get the hang of the "go with the flow" mentality while baking/cooking when those little bumps happen. Well, still working on it. I forgot to dot the top with butter, and did not realize until after the top crust was on and crimped shut. So I had to cut it open, and improvise. I even burned my arm pretty bad while putting the pie in the oven. But I was surprised with how well I did, I normally get stressed about something like that ruining the whole dish. The sliced-open pie resulted in major filling spillage, and now I have a scar on my arm. But no biggie...the was 100% worth it! P.S.S. That is how much I love food...a good pie is totally worth a little scar tissue.

Friday I was able to meet up with my friend Georgia for lunch. Georgia and I worked together for a few years while I was in high school, and we quickly became great friends. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding, she visited me a few times in San Francisco, but I don't see her is often as I would like to. Our favorite lunch spot when we worked together was a place in Carlsbad called Prontos' Gourmet Market. The best peach iced tea, baked goods, and mushroom pesto linguine. Today I tried something new - the Cleopatra sandwich, and we split a brownie. Oh and the iced tea of course. Did NOT disappoint, everything was amazing, especially enjoying it with Georgia!
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