Sunday, May 31, 2009

... remedy teas

peony and tea jars

my newest most favorite place in seattle is remedy teas. for the past several months, this has been my go-to place when i need to grade papers, read, work on book reviews, and whatever else is too hard to do with all the distractions at home.

tea vials

seriously, there are hundreds of teas. you can smell them all in the little vials on the wall, and those jars from the first pic house a gazillion varieties of black, green, white, oolong, red, and herbal teas. i've been working my way through the tea menu (black teas only for me) and have loved pretty much all of the ones i've had so far.

pot-o-tea

the best thing is they totally get tea but aren't super obnoxious about it (kuan yin, i'm totally looking at you). you get your pot of tea made with the correct temperature water, with a timer so you know when to stop steeping, and each table has a stand with a tea light to keep your tea warm in its lovely glass pot. my favorite part is you can pour yourself a little pitcher of cream or milk or soymilk to take to your table so you don't have to keep getting up to re-cream each cup. brilliant!

raisin toast

next to the tea, the best thing on the menu is the raisin toast.

raisin toast

i know, i know! how can toast be that good? perhaps they sprinkle crack on it. or maybe it's just that they know how to perfectly slice the bread, just thick enough that it's a hearty piece, but not so thick that it doesn't toast right. i get it with strawberry jam and butter. oh god, so good.

toast & jam

tea and a book

tea. toast. jam. book. heaven.

Friday, May 29, 2009

... my neighbor's chicks

i can't have chickens of my own, but my neighbors got some recently. these are suzy's very young little chicks. i am completely smitten.

ash, d.d. and dot

ash, dr. doom (aka d.d.) and dot.

chick butts

from behind.

chicks

ash and dot.

dot

dot liked being held.

dot

i liked holding dot.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

... finding a rainbow in the garden

no, not that kind of rainbow. this kind.

red

orange

yellow

green

blue

purple

pink

white & black

our garden, as you can see, is suddenly bursting with color. I was reading some gardening book a while back that proclaimed that you should only use a few colors in the garden... no more than three, two is best. clearly, that's the worst idea ever.

top to bottom:
red oriental poppy
geum
shrubby cinquefoil
hops
hydrangea
allium
armeria
white oriental poppy

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

... learning to love the things you don't

i have been trying to look for loveliness in things that i have typically disliked in the past. after all, the list of things i love can only be so long, right? that means i have to add to it continually.

fuchsia

this week i moved fuchsias from the things-i-dislike file over to the things-i-think-i-really-love file. at least, this beautiful white one i ran across at swanson's. it has none of that "hey, look at me! i'm all gaudy pretty showy purple pink red fuchsia-ness!" and a lot more "hey, aren't i lush and pretty and white and green subdued yet unbelievably gorgeous?"

fuchsia

unfortunately all that loveliness comes at a price. specifically, a $90 price that i am currently unwilling to pay.

but at least i can admire it from afar. and add one more to thing to the list of things i love.

Monday, May 25, 2009

... long weekends for baking

what i love, probably more than anything at this time in my life, is baking. i love spending time in the kitchen, fiddling around with some new recipe, or bringing out the tried and true recipes. c and i have a little joke: whenever the kitchen is clean and tidy, we look at the bare counters and he asks me, "so, what are you going to bake?" it's like some pavlovian response, whenever i see a clean kitchen i can't help but bust out the flour, eggs, sugar, and butter. i often put on a podcast of the splendid table while i'm baking, and that hour is just about enough time to finish the bulk of the work and get things in the oven. i also have to put on one of my many aprons. it is a sad fact that i will don an apron when i start baking, and then, because it just feels so darn good, i'll leave the apron on for the rest of the day. it's like my version of a bathrobe.

biscotti loaves

this, being a long holiday weekend, was the perfect time to bust out some baked goods. i needed to bake something to contribute to the welcome home basket for our neighbors, who were returning from being away for over a year. we are all very happy to have them back. i figured biscotti would be a nice thing to have on hand, since it only gets better as it dries out. whenever i make biscotti, i always freak out a little after the first baking because those loaves look nothing like biscotti.

cut biscotti

ah, that's more like it. now it's ready to go back into the oven for the second baking.

biscotti baked

these are cherry almond biscotti, from martha stewart's cookies. they didn't turn out quite as dry as i would have liked, so next time i'll leave them in the oven about two minutes longer. still, very delicious.

biscotti packaged

they also looked nice all packaged up.

biscotti

and the rest looked nice nestled in my new cookie jar.

orla kiely cookie jar

i finally got one of the orla kiely canisters from target. yay!

dark chocolate sour cherry cookies

on sunday we had a couple of get-togethers to attend, so i made the dark chocolate sour cherry cookies, also from the martha stewart book. these were excellent as well. so rich and dark and chewy.

pimm's on the porch

and delicious washed down with a pimm's cup just the way i like it: made with ginger ale, strawberries, cucumber, and fresh mint from the garden.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

... early morning lake swims

wetsuit

today was our first day venturing into lake washington for early morning open water swimming this season. my memories of all the mornings out on the lake last summer are some of my happiest from the year, so i was thrilled at the prospect of starting up again.

however, you don't need me to tell you that in mid-may the water is not going to be warm. in fact, it is still very very very cold. bracing doesn't even begin to describe it.

that didn't stop us from enjoying it, though.

almost as enjoyable was our trip to bakery nouveau in west seattle afterwards for twice-baked chocolate croissants and coffee to warm up. oh my goodness, total heaven. and because i am such a great girlfriend (and because deb and chris f. were kind enough to spot me), i took one home for c and brought him breakfast in bed with a giant mug of hot tea.

twice baked chocolate croissant

happy morning, indeed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

... burgermaster

burgermaster

oh, how i love burgermaster. seriously, nothing can turn a day around like a trip to burgermaster. our gym is just north of the one on aurora (yes, that aurora, who's single decent contribution to the world is burgermaster--otherwise it's a cesspool of horribleness), so sometimes on thursday nights after our workout, c and i treat ourselves to a veggie burger on the way home.

burgermaster menu

i love this menu. while eating your burger it's fun to ponder the menu and pick out little bits that read like either poetry or porn names. as in "kiddieburger," "sundaes hot fudge, etc" or "baconmaster." i swear there used to be a "choc chip cookie" but that appears to be gone now.

the tray

i know it's juvenile, but i get a thrill out of eating in my car. i can't help but feel giddy about the whole thing: the deal with turning on your lights for service, the tray on the window, the trying to avoid staring at the people parked across from you. and especially when it's nice outside, having the warm air come in through the windows. love. it.

did you know i also get excited about going through the car wash and pushing the buttons on the elevator?

veggie burger

it also doesn't hurt that their veggie burgers rule. here's an example of basic being best. grilled bun, tasty veggie burger, single slice of cheese, perfectly sliced onions, tomato, pickles, a little bit of shredded lettuce, and mayo on both sides of the bun. and everyone knows that wrapping things in foil makes them instantly, magically delicious.

i just ate one of these a few hours ago, and i'm hungry again just thinking about it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

... my first quilt top

let's be honest, do i absolutely love it? not entirely. do i love that i made this myself? definitely!

first quilt top

before this quilting class, i had essentially never sewn. sure, i pegged some jeans in high school (oh my goodness, i can't believe i just confessed to that), and i took the home ec class where you sew a pillow that looks like a pizza or a pig, but that's the extent of my sewing history. so, i am pleased as punch that i was able to construct this entire quilt top with my own two hands.

seam ripper

and, unfortunately, my own two hands made quite a few mistakes. the seam ripper became a fast friend. mostly i screwed up when it came time to add the cornerstones and the sashing. even though i felt like my cutting was good and all my finished blocks were generally the correct size, pretty much one entire side of sashing was very, very, very off.

bad sashing

yipes!

good sashing

but that's what the seam ripper is for! i learned something (possibly an inconsistency with seam allowance), i had fun, i made something tangible and useful, and now i know enough to make as many quilts as i want!

next step: figure out how to quilt this sucker! i am open to suggestions and tips (e.g. hand quilting vs. free motion quilting vs. someone else doing the quilting for me).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

... the rhododendron species foundation

up until today, i had no idea that i loved the rhododendron species foundation and botanical garden. c suggested a visit, but we were both skeptical because it's located on the weyerhaeuser campus in federal way. frankly, i had visions of an office park with a small island of rhododendrons. and if, like me, you grew up in the pacific northwest, you also kind of start to take rhododendrons for granted after a while. as you can see, my mind was changed.

forgive me, but outside of one photo of an azalea (also a rhododendron, don't cha know) i have no pictures of actual rhododendrons. they were pretty, but there were also so many other pretty things to take pictures of.

pink azalea

this pink azalea was so fragrant, it smelled sweeter than candy. luckily this photo is scratch and sniff, so scratch your monitor gently and you'll get to share the loveliness. wait, it didn't work? ok then, you'll just have to go visit the rhododendron species foundation yourself.

red flowers

maidenhair fern

maidenhair fern, my most favorite of all ferns.

deer fern fiddleheads

or wait, maybe i love deer fern more? their fiddleheads look so dainty in the spring.

busy bee

lots of bees were hard at work today.

himalayan blue poppy

can you believe the color of this himalayan blue poppy? i couldn't, so i had to take this picture to prove it.

bunchberry

bunchberry, which ann lovejoy arthur kruckeberg calls "pure delight." (please excuse the misattribution. i hope ann lovejoy isn't out there hating bunchberry and hating me for thinking that she is purely delighted by it.)

moss on a maple tree

rhododendron

oh, here's a rhododendron flower! floating in a lovely pond that was completely covered in a blanket of aquatic fern.

doodia

heh. they said "doody."