Bullet Journals

Who TF has time to “bullet journal.” Seriously. How many books could you read in the time it takes you to draw your “Books to Read” page and logging it on your index and covering it in washi tape and then recording on another page what you did on Wednesday during your “bullet journaling hour”? Somebody get me off of Pinterest.

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I heart kites

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I got two kites for Christmas and I love them. I seriously get a dopamine hit every time I feel the wind catch them and they jump up in the air. It’s also awesome that I got to enjoy a beach day in January. And that most of LA thought it was too cold and stayed home.

I could watch this video on loop all day. Here’s some zen for you:

You’re welcome.

Curried Potato and Lentil Soup- recipe review

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This recipe from Minimalist Baker was brought to me by my sister-in-law at Adventures in Polishland and it’s now in our regular rotation. It also happens to be vegan! Except I make it with chicken broth instead of vegetable stock because I always have chicken bouillon in my pantry- unless I’m cooking for someone who is vegan.

lentil soup

One tip that I learned from making it again this week- don’t freeze and reuse kale. Ick… it tasted like seaweed and I had to fish most of it out (pun intended). Kale is cheap enough that I think I’m okay with throwing out what I don’t use…

Other than that fishy kale, this soup was so delicious. It’s healthy comfort food that’s wonderful for winter, especially following days of consuming cheese and chocolate and cured meats and piles of sugar.

Overall tastiness: 6/6 hobs – I will eat this soup any time.

Level of Difficulty: Easyish. You need to chop an onion, chop up garlic and peel/chop potatoes and carrots. You cook them separately and you have to dump in the spices and cook them before adding the broth and lentils. But then you’re pretty much done. It sits on the stove for 20 minutes and you throw in the kale for a few minutes before serving.

Clarity/Helpfulness of the Recipe: 6/6 stars

Cheapness factor: Cheap. Lentils, carrots, potatoes, onions, kale – pretty darn cheapbo.

Healthiness factor: Healthy! And vegan!

How long does it actually take: Including the simmering time, this takes me about an hour.

And I’m also sharing a picture of lovebird mourning doves that hung out on the balcony for a bit today. It’s blurry because I didn’t want to get too close and scare them away:

mourning doves

I’m always looking out for good lentil soup recipes because 1. they’re delicious and 2. they’re super-duper cheap. Do you have a good one? Please share it in the comments!

Happy New Year- and a mostly-ham dinner plan

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Since I started a new position this school year, the husband has taken over dinner duties. Between the actual workload and the ridiculous commute, I wasn’t able to continue making dinner. But I like cooking… so I do it on weekends and over breaks too. I’m entering week 2 of winter break and so I’m sharing my meal plan.

I do grocery shopping on Saturday mornings so my meal plan runs Saturday to Friday.

Saturday: Curried Potato & Lentil Soup from Minimalist Baker (and discovered by my sister-in-law at Adventures in Polishland). I sub the vegetable broth for chicken broth- and by chicken broth, I mean hot water and a few teaspoons of chicken bouillon powder which I always have on hand. I don’t do this, of course, if I’m cooking for vegans though! This soup is delicious and healthy and was nice to detox a bit after holiday crazy-eating. I warm up a loaf of ciabatta bread in the oven and tear off hunks to dip in the soup. So yummy.

Sunday: Go upstairs. Get dressed. We are going out to eat. I’m not planning on feeding our dinner to the Bumpus hounds but we’re going out to eat for New Year’s Eve.

Monday:For New Year’s Day, we’re having a small gathering and making fancy food. Here’s the menu:

-Crostinis with ricotta cheese, apricot jam, prosciutto and arugula. This is a conglomeration of different crostini ideas from the internet. And it gives the husband an excuse to get prosciutto at the Italian deli.

-Spiral-sliced Ham (following the cooking directions on the package…)

-Holiday Honeycrisp salad (but w/ pears instead) from Five Heart Home

-Cheddar mashed potatoes from Little Spice Jar

-Hoppin’ John Stew from the “Celebrate Winter” Gooseberry Patch book I got at an antique mall for $5. It’s made with black-eyed peas and is supposed to bring good luck when eaten on New Year’s Day.

-Sauteed green beans and mushrooms w/ garlic. This will be improvised.

(Guests are bringing dessert)

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Using more leftover ham in the Slow-Cooker Rosemary Potato Soup with Ham from Barefeet in the Kitchen’s Weeknight Dinner Cookbook. If you haven’t bought this book, please buy yourself a late Christmas present and save yourself some time in the new year. This recipe posted on her website is almost the same as the one in the book.

Thursday: With that spiral-sliced ham bone, we’re making “Mom’s best ever split pea soup” from The Cozy Cook.

Friday: Either leftovers or out again.

I bought some extra flour and yeast this week and will be trying out some bread recipes. I’ll also be using some uneaten bananas from last week to make muffins. #hygge ! I will also be making and freezing breakfast sandwiches to make next week less painful. 😦

Do you have leftover ham recipes? “Good luck” New Year’s Day recipes? Share them in the comments!

Variations on a Pork Roast and a recipe review

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Pork is cheapbo! Big hunks of pork roast have been on sale at our grocery store for the past two weeks and I just cooked up our second one with this recipe I’m going to tell you about. This was ninety-something cents a pound so an 8-lb pork roast was less than $8.00- pretty good, considering that I use it for at least 3 meals.

I searched “8 pound pork roast” and got this recipe by Melissa Sevigny of “I Breathe, I’m Hungry.” It was exciting since everything I needed, besides the hunk of meat, was already in my pantry. So night 1, we ate hunks of spiced meat, simple mashed potatoes and a green salad. I pulled the rest of the meat off the bone and used some of it to top pizza made with barbecue sauce (I made another pizza with the remains of the salami from Christmas Eve).*** Tomorrow night, we’ll pop the rest of the meat into tortillas, top with cheese and enjoy some tacos.

There are a blue-bazillion pulled pork recipes on the internet that call for boneless pork roasts. Try the bone-in kind and save some $$$.

Let’s review it!

Overall tastiness: 5/6 hobs – It’s very, very good.

Level of difficulty: Easy – Mix up your spices, put the roast in the pan, rub it all over, stick it in the oven at 500 for 20 min, lower it to 300 and go do something else (like entertain a toddler… or take a bubble bath) for 4 hours.

Clarity/Helpfulness of the recipe: 6/6 stars – super easy instructions

Cheapness factor: $ <- one dollar sign. Feed a family of 3 for 3 days for under $8… pretty darn cheap.

Healthiness factor: Healthyish? It’s paleo! It qualifies if you’re doing a Whole-30 thing. I have no idea what either of those are… but you don’t add any oil or carbs to the hunk of meat so it’s as healthy as a hunk of pork roast can be.

How long does it actually take: Mixing the spices and prepping the roast took under 10 minutes. The cooking time is long- 30 min per pound of roast- so it’s not an “easy weeknight meal” but you can get stuff done at home while it’s cooking.

What do you do with leftover pork roast? Share your ideas in the comments!

***I use the pizza dough recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

 

Christmas Lefse Recipe Review

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Take time for projects. It’s one of those things Gretchen Rubin lists on her gigantic list of things to do to be more happy in “The Happiness Project.” Last Christmas, my parents-in-law got me a potato ricer at my request so I could make lefse. It only took a year and a day, but I finally did it.

Lefse is a Norwegian flat bread. It’s like a tortilla made with potatoes. It’s usually served rolled up with butter, cinnamon and sugar. That’s how my Grandma Sylvia served it when she hosted Christmas Eve- so for me it tastes like childhood Christmastime. My dad never attempted to make it for some reason- I think he thought it required a lefse iron which we didn’t have.

They sell lefse with cinnamon and sugar at Norway in Epcot Center- it didn’t taste exactly the same as Grandma’s though. I had it one more time at the Viking Soul Food truck in Portland. That was when I discovered it’s just a flatbread you can use for savory wraps too.

So- every recipe for lefse on the internet last year didn’t mention anything about a lefse iron but they talked about needing a potato ricer. When I googled the recipe this year, the recipes I found made it seem more optional. After making it myself, I think it might not be necessary. I ended up going with this recipe from Emma Christensen at The Kitchn because it only required 1 pound of potatoes instead of… 10… like this one. I think you could just use leftover mashed potatoes refrigerated overnight. I used the potato ricer but I forgot to mix in the butter and the cream while they were still hot. I prepped the potatoes the day before Christmas Eve thinking I might have time to attempt this recipe on Christmas Eve. We hosted Christmas Eve this year so that was a silly thing for me to think… I didn’t get around to the lefse until the day after Christmas. I mixed in the butter and cream right before adding the flour and the dough came together as-expected from the recipe.

I made a gigantic mess. Once you get your dough together and you cut it up into pieces for the individual flatbreads, you have to be careful about keeping the dough from sticking to… everything… your hands, the cutting board, the rolling pin. You have to keep covering every surface with flour so you end up getting covered with flour too. I used a metal spatula to loosen the flatbread from the cutting board and transfer it to the frying pan (or lefse iron?). Getting the bread to stay flat in the pan was the hardest thing about making these. Once I got them in the pan, at least one edge would flip over and I’d have to carefully flatten it out. The dough was so fragile that I got holes in it trying to unflip the edges.

The first one I made was bathed in butter because I thought you needed a ton of butter to cook these… I didn’t read the recipe closely… These look a lot like my dad’s recipe Swedish pancakes which require a bucket of butter to keep them from sticking. But nope, not necessary with lefse. Anyway- because the first one was cooked in butter, it tasted like a huge potato chip which was not unpleasant…

oily lefse

Hob.

I cooked the rest of the lefse without adding any butter to the pan. They weren’t perfect-looking- but you know what? You really can’t tell when they’re all rolled up. We tried them with butter/cinnamon/sugar and I got an immediate rush of childhood Christmas feelings (happiness mixed with crushing anxiety!). I wrapped up some leftover Swedish meatballs and sopped up the gravy with the lefse too and it was ridiculously delicious. The husband wrapped up some salami and cheese- and said it needed a sauce but it was good otherwise. He’s weirded out by the Swedish meatballs (more for me… haha) so he didn’t opt for the gravy.

So much hob.

Let’s try this new thing! Let’s rate this recipe!

My rating for Emma Christensen’s Lefse Recipe from The Kitchn:

Overall Tastiness: 5/6 hobs – You need something to go with it so I can’t say they’re 6/6 on their own.

Level of Difficulty: Involved. They’re not hard to make if you don’t have to entertain a toddler at the same time and you’re working in a previously-clean kitchen.

Clarity/Helpfulness of the recipe: 6/6 stars. Emma Christensen warned me about the flatbreads sticking and that I’d need something to pry the flatbreads off the cutting board. And that I didn’t need butter in the pan.

Cheapness factor: $ <- one dollar sign. The ingredients are potatoes, butter, cream and salt. Pretty cheap.

Healthiness factor: Not. The ingredients are potatoes, butter, cream and salt. I think there’s a reason this is a “special for Christmas” thing.

How long does it actually take: Not including the potato prep (same as mashed potatoes), these took me about an hour and a half. I looked for an estimated time on the recipe and couldn’t find it…

Have you made lefse? Any helpful tips? Ultimate lefse fillings? Please share them with me in the comments. 🙂

 

P.S. YOU DO NOT NEED SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO MAKE LEFSE! YOU DO NOT NEED SPECIAL EQUIPMENT TO MAKE LEFSE!!! I said it twice. And I feel the need to because websites like this exist. You do not need a special iron, rolling pin, prying stick, apron, potholder OR potato ricer. Just get in the kitchen with your ingredients and make some freaking lefse. And, btw, it’s uber-hygge. And you do not need to buy things to be hygge.

Can’t Buy Me Hygge

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You know what hygge is by now, right? It’s that Danish word that we say means “something like ‘cozy’ but there’s not an exact translation in English” and there’s a part of me that recoils a bit because that already sounds pretentious. You will never know if you’re pronouncing it right. Even if you say it to a Danish person. Because they might say you’re right but they might just be being nice.

It’s about bringing warmth and light to a cold and dark part of the year. It’s about being around people you like, slowing down and enjoying simple things. So you light lots of candles and turn on Christmas lights and put a fire in your fireplace (or on Netflix if you don’t have a fireplace) when it’s dark. You curl up in blankets and read books. You drink tea and put jigsaw puzzles together. You slow-cook your dinner and make bread to go with it. You eat lots of soup. You bundle up and go outside and feel the cold and go inside and feel the relative warmth of your home.

And that’s lovely and I really want to embrace it. Except marketing. I know about hygge because like everything else ever (including “minimalism”), it’s been hijacked by people trying to sell me things. If you google the word, you’ll get lists like this one. This one includes a $58 candle. And as a person who makes and sells candles, I would like to say, please do not buy candles just to be hygge. Don’t feel the need to “get the look” and buy hygge furniture. Please use things you already have to be hygge. I guess if you need something like a coat, then buy it. But don’t just buy a new coat because you want a hygge coat. Coats are inherently hygge. “The Little Book of Hygge” and other hygge books are available at the library! If you need it to live on your coffee table, you’re trying too hard. Which is not hygge. Slow the down, please.

OK, rant over. Here’s a picture of my cats being hygge AF:

hygge cats

mourning Tom Petty

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1991 was a horrible year for our family. My grandfather had died on my 8th birthday and my father was working odd hours in a Safeway bakery because he had been laid off from the office job he had had for years.

It was a school night and we were at Lloyd Center. It was still light outside, but Dad said something about how we needed to leave soon because it was getting close to our bedtime. I remember being annoyed about that. We piled into the car and, instead of going home, we pulled into the parking lot of the Portland Coliseum. I was confused… Dad was smiling. I asked him “Are we going to the doll and teddy bear show?” He reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a ticket and held it out so I could read it- TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS. I actually screamed.

Because we loved Tom Petty. Because my dad loved Tom Petty. Tom Petty was my dad’s alter-ego.They were born the same year and my dad had followed him throughout his career. Tom Petty wore red Converse- so my dad did too. My dad spent time learning his songs on guitar and piano–and he copied his voice and vocal inflections- “Thank you very much.” We often talked about how we’d buy Dad a “Rickenbacker 360 12-string” in fireglow if we “won the lottery.” I had an actual adult wish to get one for him in real life eventually.

My sister and I got hooked when we saw his Alice & Wonderland-themed music video “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” I remember squealing about how he burps at the end. The video was included in a compilation that my dad would watch over and over again (he had a life-long tendency to watch things over and over again until they were burned into his consciousness and he could recite the dialogue word-for-word) called “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: A Bunch of Videos and Some Other Stuff.”

Dad had this monologue about the San Fernando Valley memorized . He tries to perform it for the camera in a family video recorded on a beach trip on my grandmother’s behemoth camcorder we borrowed for the occasion but my mom was filming and cut away from him before he could finish it… probably because she’d heard it so many times. My sister and I reenacted the random golf scenes spread throughout. I think anyone can understand Tom Petty’s appeal to kids if they only watch this “I’m Stupid” video.

We listened to the Heartbreakers and the Traveling Wilburys on every road trip we ever took and random trips to the grocery store in between.  I specifically asked for sunglasses shaped like the ones he wore in “Don’t Come Around Here No More” for my 9th birthday. Mom made me a guitar-shaped cake that year. I had a collection of Tom Petty cassettes of my own that I would listen to on a walkman. Thinking about that reminds me of the smell of Music Millennium– the music store in Portland where we went at least one weekend a month for my entire childhood.

We saw him again when he came to Portland for the Wildflowers tour. I saw him again as an adult in Anaheim for the Hypnotic Eye tour.

I learned how to drive in Los Angeles where I’ve somehow made my home. I live in Reseda- if I had a front yard, there would be a freeway running through it. I’m 2 blocks away from Ventura Boulevard. My first teaching job was on Mullholland Highway. And after the years and years of forest fires, I’m continually reminded that smog makes a rainbow. On good days, I say that California’s been good to me. Tom Petty made Los Angeles familiar to me before I got here and while I try to avoid the prophetic “meant to be” thing in general, it’s hard not to go there when I think about where I came from, where I ended up and the Tom Petty lyrics that have followed me.

When I was planning my wedding, my dad and I were trying to find a song that would be appropriate for a father-daughter dance and we were not impressed by the choices. I refused to dance to some meaningless song when my entire childhood with my dad had been all about music. So we decided to sing instead–a song whose lyrics were wholly inappropriate for the occasion, but altogether perfect otherwise. We did the Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty duet “Insider.”

 

And then my dad died of what we think was a heart attack on August 24th, 2014 at the age of 64. My sister and I sang “You and I Will Meet Again” at his memorial.

 

And of course I knew that Tom Petty would die some day and, especially after my dad died, that it would be something that would affect me deeply. I wasn’t expecting it to happen only 2 years later and in a very similar way. Tom Petty wasn’t my dad but he was such a huge part of my dad. It felt like he died all over again. I’m left with the same angry feelings about the years we won’t have.

I remember my dad telling me he never wanted to see “greatest hits” written on a Tom Petty CD because that would mean he was done making music. And there is a greatest hits CD, of course, but he was never done.

My husband and son and I participated in the Tom Petty Memorial Vampire Walk they did on Ventura Boulevard this week. My mom convinced me to go… I hadn’t realized when it was announced that it would be the only public memorial event that would be happening. It felt good to be out with hundreds of people holding candles and singing his songs.

 

 

 

This hurts. This sucks. This is, again, so unfair and absolutely absurd. I am deeply saddened. He brought so much joy to my dad and to me and thousands upon thousands of people. And he’s now going to be referred to in the past tense only. I’m again finding myself wishing for a time machine that would get him to medical attention as it was happening so something might have been done to save him. And my thoughts persist this way, even though I know they’re doing nothing but making me suffer more. I can say that he’s done making music, but it will be quite a while before I will accept it.

 

 

panini passive aggression coffee statistics

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I spent a long time at a coffee shop today because this coffee shop was within walking distance of the place where my car was being fixed. I had some minor things done- but things that have needed doing for 5+ years. Like my seatbelt wouldn’t stay clicked into its seatbelt clicker thing so I always had to click it into the passenger seatbelt. So if I had a passenger- they either had to politely not notice that they were going to ride seatbelt-less if I forgot or they would guiltily observe that I slung my seatbelt around my emergency brake lever so it would look to cops like I had a working seatbelt.

Both my driver and passenger front doors would not open from the outside. I either had to keep a window open or I would have to open the front doors by opening the back doors and reaching around to open the front doors from the inside. This became dangerous if I had to park on a busy street.

And then people started taking stuff from my car. I’m kind of surprised it took them so long to do it. First they took my garage door opener- and then they took my laminator, a Rachael Ray beach bag that my mom gave me and, what was most upsetting to me, an old sweaty/smelly yoga mat.

So it’s summer vacation and This Is The Time to take care of things like this. #boringselfcare So there I was… in a coffee shop for 6 hours.

I bought an iced coffee and a bagel and worked on my statistics class materials (one last thing for that fully official license of mine) for 3 hours. I had to use the bathroom then and decided I definitely needed to order something else. I ordered a chai latte and drank only half of it for another 3 hours.

During this time, I noticed that people were ordering panini sandwiches and that the sandwiches were taking an unexpectedly long time. One woman approached the counter and said “Is it almost done?” The barista replied, “It will be about 10 minutes.” She laughed and then said, “Oh, you’re serious?”

I was engrossed in a problem about how to figure out how many different combinations of songs DJ Spaz could create if he had 5 reggae songs, 3 country songs, 2 blues songs and 4 rock songs while making sure he played at least 2 reggae songs when I heard a loud sigh. I realized how quiet it had gotten. I looked around and saw four other people on phones or laptops and one man with his arms crossed waiting at the counter. Nobody was behind the counter. He put down his almost-empty ice coffee and slapped his thigh, sighing again. He paced a bit, stomped his foot, turned to face the coffee shop patrons and threw up a hand as if to say “Can you believe these people?” without actually saying anything but no one acknowledged him. I started to become afraid he was going to yell… He did not… he just continued with random combinations of slapping his thigh, stomping his foot and sighing (how many different combinations can he do if he wants to do at least 20 impatient acts but not repeat any and get at least 3 good sighs in? Hm…). Finally, a barista emerged from the closet they were using as a kitchen with a panini. The barista did not say a word, but handed the panini to the man who took it, also wordlessly and stormed out of the coffee shop.

At one point, I also observed a woman emerge from the kitchen/closet to answer a question about a drink order. She and the customer talked for a while. She had a peeled red onion in her hand the whole time which she held to the side as naturally as if it were a pocketbook or a cell phone.

I felt bad about staying for so long. But I said “thank you” to the baristas as I left. And I meant it.