Saturday, January 31, 2009

"The deeper and richer a personality is, the more full it is of paradox and contradiction. It is only a shallow character who offers us no problems of contrast." - Madeline L'Engle

Friday, January 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol.1)

#1 - For awhile now I've (in my spare moments - ha!) contemplated the best way to put into my blog the random thoughts, happenings, and such that I run into on a regular basis. Things that I don't necessarily want to devote a whole post to but things that, regardless, would nice to throw in here. And so, I'm going to try linking to Jennifer at Conversion Diary's weekly "7 Quick Takes Friday". And so here you go. My first attempt!

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#2 - A Snowy Wintry Walk with Two Silly Puppies

Playing catch with snow






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#3 - The downfall of days off and such things as snow days is that the work is always there when you come back. And somehow deadlines always seem to feel frighteningly closer after two days off than they did the day before you took that time off!

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#4 - Chris and I watched Amelie on Wednesday while we were off. That was an interesting movie--definitely very French! I first heard about the movie because it has some piano pieces in it that I've been learning. As Chris put it, one shouldn't stereotype an entire culture because of a movie, and yet sometimes it's very easy to do.

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#5 - Have you ever noticed that inevitably, as soon as you make plans to do something with somebody, you immediately get at least one other invitation from someone else to do something with them at the exact same time? Or is that just me?

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#6 - I had a phone call from a telemarketer the other day who was apparently offended by the fact that we don't watch enough TV to justify buying a satellite subscription and that our converter box and antenna alone do the job just fine. As he put it (in a very snotty voice), "Well, I guess that's your problem then." and hung up on me. To which I would have liked to have responded, "Yes, Yes it is."
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#7 - As I failed to plan a menu for this week (I know, I know...hey, habits develop over time, all right. Besides, I knew we had enough in the way of leftovers that I wasn't really going to need to do a lot of cooking this week), I have no idea what I need to focus on baking this weekend. I have now a whole slew of recipes to try, but only so much time to actually create the items found on those recipes. I suppose it's a good problem to have but sometimes making those decisions can very stressful! I'll let you know what I come up with. And, ultimately, I'm glad that if I'm struggling with food it's a struggle of having to many options as compared to the struggle I was going through several months ago of feeling that I had way too few options.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fourless Chocolate Torte - delictable chocaltiness for chocolate lovers!

I - well, Amber, discovered for me - this recipe a few months ago. And I felt that it was high time I shared it. Very rich and very tasty! And Gluten Free (well, gluten free if you use gluten free chocolate - and in my case - soy free!).

8oz GF chocolate (semi or bitter sweet or a mix)

3 oz butter

1 1/4 c. sugar

5 eggs

Grease a 9" pan. Line with waxed paper or parchment and grease paper (and do be sure you grease it well or steel yourself to eat parchment paper!).

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Add butter and stir until melted and blended. Set it aside and let it cool to lukewarm (has to be cool so the eggs don't cook).

While it cools, put water on to boil. This will form a water bath for the pan to sit in.

Add the sugar to the chocolate and stir. Beat the eggs until foamy (the foamier the better) and then add to the chocolate. Beat until just blended.

Pour the chocolate into the papered pan. Pour boiling water into a pan large enough to hold the torte pan. Set the torte pan in the water bath.

Bake at 350F for 90 minutes.

Remove from the water bath and let cool to room temperature. Chill for two hours (or if at this point the smell is amazing and driving you crazy, freezer it for 45 minutes!).

Loosen the sides with a wet knife and invert the torte right side up onto a serving pan.

Decorate with berries, if desired, or sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar, or puree 1/2 pint of berries with 1 tbsp of sugar to make a drizzle for the top of the plate.

And melt into delectable tastiness!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pizza Success!

Well, it's a second day of snow days...how wonderful! And since I had the time, I decided to tackle (again) making my own GF pizza. I've attempted pizza a couple of times in the past and it's come out...good. Not as amazing as I originally thought (see post here: http://ouphgirl.blogspot.com/2008/07/tastiness.html), and actually, somewhat disastrous the second time I attempted it. However, it was edible and for someone really missing "normal" food - that's what I cared about. However, as my GF cooking skills have grown, I've found I've become a bit pickier about what I'm eating and a bit more demanding in the quality of what I'm making.

Well, I've had success! Over Christmas I bought myself a present of three new GF cookbooks. One of these by Bette Hagman is called The Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods. Now, please understand, if you're ever looking for healthy GF cooking, this is not it. The book is healthy in terms of not using all the processed garbage of today but not healthy in terms of calorie count or such. That's not her goal in this book; her goal is to provide recipes for all the "normal" food that so often is hard to get. It's not a weight loss recipe book or any such, it's just normal foods adapted for a GF diet.


And with that goal - she succeeds nicely. Especially with the pizza!



The end result was a slightly seasoned, thick crust (but one that cooked properly without being burnt on the outside and gooshie in the middle) pizza. And a really nice pizza sauce recipe (here) that I found on allrecipes.com. The only changes I made was to leave out the red peppers and to put the amount of honey down to 1tsp instead of 2tbsp. I was pleased with the change as the sauce definitely has a sweet taste to it and in fact, I might leave the honey out completely next time and see how that tastes.


The recipe made enough dough for two pizzas, so I'll be freezing one of them and in the future will probably not put sauce or anything on the second crust but just freeze the crust after the initial ten minutes of cooking and then put toppings on it later when I want it and see how that comes out.


All in all, I'm just glad I finally feel that I have a good pizza that I can count on making (because my frugal nature really has balked at buying the GF pizza crusts available at the health food stores - for the low, low price of $5 just for the crust).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's a Snow Day! (well, ice day)

Snow days have to be one of the most delightful experiences in life. A day in which you wake up, expecting to have to do work, follow the regular routine of life, and then all of the sudden are handed the gift of 9 (well in my case, closer to 10) hours that are suddenly yours to do with as you want....what else can be more delightful?

Chris had received the call last night that he didn't have to go in, and so when I woke up this morning and looked out the window at the layer of snow/ice on the ground, I was praying and praying and praying that my work would also be cancelled (because if I had to go and he didn't, I would be bitter). And it was!

One of the rules of a snow day is that unless you want to, you don't have to work. It's not a day that because you're suddenly home you need to fill it by doing a job or project that you've been putting off. You can if you want to (you know, if you're like me and actually enjoy cleaning out closets), but you don't have to.

Don't argue with me about this; it's the rule. I didn't write it; i just follow it!

And so I've been relishing the precious hours of my snow day. Got some work done - because I wanted to - but been very lazy for much of it.

Hope you're having a good snow day (if you got one).

Monday, January 26, 2009

A New Love Found

When we went to Texas for Christmas this year, as we were driving through (and getting lost in) Dallas, I noticed a store I had never seen before. It was as if the heavens had opened and a ray of light shone down upon the magnificent building, drawing my eye to it's delightful name. OK, maybe it was just the neon light of the store name brightening up the dark evening (Texas apparently doesn't believe in street lights), but either way, it definitely drew my attention. And birthed in me a rather extreme desire to see inside the store. The Container Store.


The name alone was enough to send shivers of delightful anticipation down my spine. A store full of containers. The Store full of containers. How much more heavenly can you get when you're an organizational manic?


However, as we had yet several more hours of driving before we reached our destination, I had to simply look wistfully out the window as the store of my dreams slowly faded away behind us as we sped on our way. Sighing for my lost true love of a store yet helpless to act, I resigned myself to "maybe someday."


And then we arrived at our destination. And Chris and I went out to do some shopping/exploring. And behold my delight when not only did the town we were in have The Container Store, but my darling husband (despite being slightly sick and very stuffy) was more than happy to let his container-crazed wife go inside!

Normally such a highly anticipated, longed for event would end in disaster. Because, after all, people's imaginations tend to have expectations higher than reality actually affords. At least in my experience. But not there. Not at my beloved store.


Row upon row, shelf upon shelf, was filled with ingenious containers to satisfy even my before unknown ideas for storage and organization. Such inspiration to be found, such selection of shades and materials to please even the most picky of individuals was found at The Container Store.


And so I confess to it, a new love in my life. A store which will, no-doubt, become a regular stopping place for me on future visits to my wonderful aunt- and uncle-in-law. (Although my frugal side secretly will admit that it's a good thing we don't have one of those stores in our town. The temptation might prove to be too great!)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Holidays in Review

For me, at least in the last number of years, the holidays have three big events that stand out for me. Two are the normal "holiday" points: Christmas and New Years. And then the third is Ugly Tree party.

Ugly Tree

We had a huge crowd for Ugly Tree this year. I think we've discovered that the max number of people our house will really hold for this party is 25.

We had a fun evening with much food, silliness, and hideous ornaments. I came in second again this year. However, a hideous "thing" (of which I have no better description because I truly don't know what my oranment was actually supposed to be) cannot beat out a truly, disturbing and frightening clown!



The most surprising fact was that the winner this year was a first time Ugly Tree participant. Generally in the past, those who have never played before come up with "kind of ugly but might be okay on the right tree" ornaments. The veterans of the party all agree that our standards of ugliness have grealty increased over the years. But apparently, as Amber said, my tastes are still just not quite ugly enough!


Christmas

Since our Thanksgiving plan of going down to Texas to see Chris' aunt and uncle and their family got canceled, we instead went for Christmas. And we're very glad we did. His grandparents were also there, so we were able to spend some time with them, building memories and strengthening bonds.

While playing with the kids was wonderful, chatting to the grandparents special, and just enjoying Christmas for what it should be a meaningful time, I have to admit one of my highlights of the trip was definitely having lunch with my aunt-in-law (always fun just because I have found in her a kindred spirit and a woman I both respect and enjoy being with - surprisingly not always a combination easy to find) at an entirely gluten free restaurant! Such delight to be able to order without stressing about what was the food. And such good food! And with her six month old baby along, what could be more perfect?

Aunt J - baby in one hand; camera in the other.



The Twelve Days of Christmas

Aunt/Uncle-i-l celebrate the 12 days of Christmas (although we were only able to be there for the first two). I found, in talking to them about it, to be a rather fascinating and definitely appealing idea. For their family, they break up opening presents and doing fun activities into the 12 days (ending with Epiphany). For me, this immediately was satisfying just because I've always been a little sad, on Boxing Day, that everything was gone. The presents were open, the anticipation burst, the food eaten.......it's always a little sad.

Any ways, intentionally or unintentionally, we found we up kind of following the 12 days even after we returned home because, of course, we still had our Christmas celebration with my brother, sis-in-law, and sister to look forward to as well as various other events and friends to meet with the next two weeks.

So...

On the First Day of Christmas my true love gave to me a delightful fuzzy pair of sweat-pants and two new movies! PS I Love You has jumped very high into my favorite list and I just can't help but enjoy the charm of Ballet Shoes. This day we opened some presents and had the fun of seeing Chris' five cousins open our presents to them. And of course, the traditional Christmas feast in the evening with a lovely viewing of the Christmas Carol that night.

On the Second Day of Christmas we also opened presents but we, sadly, also had to drive back home on that day.

On the Third, Fourth, and Fifth days of Christmas - I nursed a rather bad cold that I had picked up from Baby-O (Chris' adorable, cuddly cousin) and recuperated from our trip.

On the Sixth day of Christmas, I went to work (boo), but also went to Silver Dollar City for the last time this season and took some friends with us. And it was COLD!





On the Seventh day of Christmas I went to work (again boo...although we were nicely released early), and then we went and played games and had wonderful conversation with friends until 1am! Happy New Year!

On the Eighth day of Christmas, I tidied up my house and unpacked my bags. And scared my husband by telling him about my plans for rearranging said house. And went to a bookstore to browse, and had dinner with other good friends.

On the Ninth day of Christmas, I enjoyed a day off work. And went grocery shopping to fill my fridge back up with food (desperately needed). I also went thrift-storing and picked up a really cute sweater for $3.

On the Tenth day of Christmas, I actually don't remember what we did! It's the lost day of Christmas, apparently. I do know that I did, finally, determine what my New Year resolution actually was for this year (more on that later). Yes, Yes, I know. A few days late.

On the Eleventh day of Christmas, we celebrated Christmast with my brother, sister, and sister-in-law. And we had crepes and played games and were all together very silly.

On the Twelth day of Christmas, I dealt with work being a regular entity in my life again, and settled down to catching up on all the things that needed to be caught up on after three rather scattered work weeks!

And then came Epiphany....and I felt the full force of 2009 settle upon us.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Abandoned

I've abandoned my blog the last month. Well, I've physically abandoned it as I haven't written...mentally, however, I've had many things I've wanted to write and deal with and note. Time to play catch up!

Talk to you soon....