Washington, My Home

I’ve written before about not being sure where to call home. It’s a stream of consciousness I’ve had multiple times, and I find I invariably come to no conclusion… unless I happen to be in Washington at the time.

We are soooooooooooo (I don’t think I can include enough ‘o’s to emphasize here) happy to be in Seattle for the summer. The employer has set us up in a great location–up close and personal to downtown. I have an incredible view out our living room all day, and little slivers of water view when I look at just the right angle. It’s a beautiful, brand new apartment. They’re paying us. My family is just an hour away. The dr and hospital that I love is blocks away. I can literally see the library from my living room. But these are all just conveniences.

I distinctly remember one time when flying in to Seattle from Alaska, wondering if it would even feel like home anymore, or if it would just be a place to visit my parents. When we got through the cloud cover and I saw downtown, I actually started crying. On the airplane. And tried to hide that fact from the other passengers. I’m quite sure I failed.

And just the other day when we were on the freeway, one of us commented how much we love driving on the freeway here (top 5 worst commutes in America, what?). Everywhere we go, one of us is saying to the other we love how green it is, or we love how the houses were designed here, we love driving down the hill in Ravenna, we love seeing glimpses of the sound, we love old craftsmans, we love the people, we love Gas Works, we love the buildings on UW campus, we love the trees, the rhodies, the hydrangeas, the clouds, the fog, the water, the bridges… you name it, we love it here.

I forgot just how many people up here I love spending time with. Between friends from work, and friends from our old congregation, I could actually have a social life again.

Being in Washington just always feels right.

*the state song… in case you were wondering why I deviated from Ty’s preferred sentence case

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I mustache you a question

After a recent conversation, I am forced to re-evaluate all my childhood memories. ‘Cause turns out things that I thought were totally normally in my head are not anything that anyone else thinks. Or, as I prefer to think of it, my brain is just remarkably creative.

In the house I grew up in, I knew the dead bolt was locked when it looked like this. Well, mostly like this. Approximately like this.

Mostly it looked like it was a face with a mustache when the door was locked. So, in the grand tradition of Stephanie, I made up a quasi-mnemonic device that really serves no good purpose. In this case, during my daily routine obsession with checking the door locks, I would glance at the door and think, oh good. Mustache.

The mustache became not just linked, but synonymous with security. Can we talk about the irony there?

I have since suffered multiple setbacks upon realizing that some dead bolts look like this:

What am I supposed to think when I see that? Nose? Beak? Everyone knows that noses and beaks have nothing to do with dead bolts. It’s absurd. Irrational.

Even worse are these:

Okay. I can see that it has a little lock symbol. And I can see an arrow. But actually you mean that it’s locked when it’s at a weird angle. Okay. Cool. I’ll never remember that.

Hair and other silly self-reflections

It’s interesting how much we self-identify with certain things. Things that may or may not have anything to do with anything, but can cause dramatic responses when challenged.

Growing up I was blonde. Bright sister-golden-hair blonde. I knew as I got into high school and college it got darker, but I still identified as a blonde. It was just dark blonde. Turns out, when I meet new people, they think I’m brunette. It kind of weirds me out. Don’t they know I’m blonde?? Curiously enough, my mother also self-identifies as a blonde–her drivers license even says ‘blonde’. But for as long as I’ve been around, she has definitely been a brunette.

Now–hair color is one of those things that doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t change your personality or help you win friends or influence people, but it is a distinguishing part of your appearance. And if you are surprised every time you look in the mirror because you don’t feel like you look like yourself, that can be wearing. My color change was gradual enough it was never a surprise, each day looks much like the one before. But when I talk to someone and they mention that my hair is brown, I am startled every time. Like it’s a new thing I’ve never heard of before and not prepared to understand.

So what about things that are bigger than hair? Like careers, or where you’re from.

I’ve lived enough places by now, that when I run into other people from there, they introduce me as being ‘from …’ We actually had a funny incident a few weeks ago when Ty and I met up with a bunch of my old Michigan friends. Ty made some off-hand reference to me being from Seattle. Everyone at the table got really still. Finally someone responded that I was definitely from Michigan. So apparently I’m a real good social-chameleon. But it begs lots of questions.

Am I from Michigan because that’s where I spent my formative years? Am I from Alaska because that’s where I came into my own and learned who I was as an adult (but apparently not because I still feel the need to think about these things)? Or am I from Washington–where I grew up, where my parents live, where I met my husband and we spent our first years as a couple?

I don’t know. But I’m happy that everyone is willing to claim me.

Let’s get down to business

So when Ty and I first got married, I thought it would be a great idea for the two of us to have a blog together. After all, we’re both design-y and like writing, and I had enjoyed blogging on-and-off for several years to that point. I made a new blog address for us and started posting there instead of my old blog once we got married. I was super excited about the whole thing.

Unfortunately Ty had a hang-up with the idea of a blog.

So I carried on posting to our joint-venture that turns out he was not super interested in.

We had a turning point a few months ago.  Ty declared that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if our blog was hosted by WordPress instead of Blogspot. Connotations and all that. My ears perked at the unexpected opinion and we immediately set about conceptualizing and designing our site-to-be, complete with charts and infographics… then we didn’t do anything about it until this week when it suddenly seemed like a good idea again.

So welcome to our new blog! Even if there might be a few pre-dated posts that were either transferred from our original blog, or converted to posts from other documents/letters we’ve written. It still counts as new.

How to: make an Eric Carle onesie

IMG_2065I love The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I mean really. Who doesn’t? I thought it would be really fun to have a onesie with the caterpillar on it. I did a fabric marker version for a friend a year or so ago, but decided I wanted to try with buttons. I love how it turned out!

 

Supplies:

  • (1) onesie-I got this cute white one with puffed sleeves for my friend’s baby girl
  • (1) red button
  • (4) light green buttons
  • (2) medium-dark green buttons
  • dark grey thread for sewing on buttons
  • dark grey embroidery floss for antennae

Everything but the onesie I found at JoAnn’s. I used a 0-3 month onesie, with 7/8″D red button and 1/2″D green buttons, so you can get an idea for scale.

This actually turned out to be a great project for me right now (read: on restricted activity and not used to taking it easy and kind of going stir-crazy), I could do it sitting down, and it kept my brain occupied.

IMG_2064

I started by simply laying out the buttons and moving them around until I liked the look of it. Then I carefully lifted the buttons one at a time and made a small mark on the fabric where I wanted them to end up. At this point, my mother recommends using stabilizer on the inside of the onesie to make it more durable. But I had forgotten to buy some, so I just made do without and it was fine, but I will admit that afterword I wished I had used stabilizer.

After sewing the buttons (make sure to double-check your locations before starting each button), I added the antennae using embroidery thread. I didn’t want to have any marks on the fabric here, so I actually just pierced the fabric with the needle to show myself what path to take. I used a simple back-stitch, and a french knot for the ball at the end. I you are unfamiliar with embroidery stitches, this is a great post that can get you started.

 

Operation white sauce

I’ve realized that I become a much better cook when I experiment instead of following recipes. I actually learn cause and effect, and not just how to follow directions. Which, isn’t really a surprise because I almost always learn better by doing.

Last night I wanted to make a white sauce (I hesitate to call it alfredo) with dinner, but knew I didn’t have cream, which my favorite white sauce recipe calls for, so I decided to wing it. I don’t know what kind of sauce it was, but it was amazing. And I wish I knew what amounts I used so I could accurately replicate it at some point.

First I started by chopping some garlic. I let that saute for a few minutes in some melting butter until the butter starts to simmer, just the tiniest bit. Then add the flour, a little at a time, until it looks thick and fluffy, but not floury at all. If you love the taste of browned butter (like me) feel free to let it sit for a minute at this stage to get just those hints of it. When the kitchen starts to smell like heaven, I added chicken stock and a little bit of milk. I seasoned pretty simply with some ground salt and pepper and just a titch of rosemary. I let that sit over medium heat for a few minutes while my pasta was cooking and I defrosted some cooked shrimp.

Because I’m lazy, I literally just put the frozen shrimp in a colander, run some water over them, and then when my pasta is done, pour it through the same colander. Easy.

After the liquid reduced a bit, I added cheese. Because what sauce can be delicious if it doesn’t have cheese in it? Answer. None sauce. I used a combination of parmesan and mozzarella and stirred till it was melted evenly in.  Make sure your heat isn’t too high or the cheese will burn, which is less than ideal.

Once your cheese is in, add the pasta and shrimps and stir. Then add more salt and pepper. Because it sounds good. And let everything sit on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, while the flavors all meld together.

Voila. White sauce. Delicious, cheesy, white sauce. It even reheats well. Please enjoy my attempts to guess at the amounts:

2-3 cloves garlic
3 T butter
2 or so T flour, add a little at a time so it doesn’t taste floury
1 cup of chicken stock… ish
1/3 cup of milk… ish
1/2-3/4 cup cheese… ish to taste; add a little at a time until you think it looks good
salt & pepper and seasonings to taste

In other news, by reading this recipe, one could deduce that I have become my mother–her recipes always look like this. Used to drive me crazy.

Things that aren’t around anymore that should still be a thing

Starburst California Fruits

starburst

Not Baja.  Just California.

It was quite possibly the greatest combination of Starburst flavors ever.  Red Cherry, Strawberry-Watermelon, Wild Berry, Raspberry.  It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about the delicious juicy-ness.  Admittedly, it wouldn’t be amiss to replace red cherry with mango melon or kiwi banana (speaking of delicious but culled Starburst flavors…), but really.  How do you even try to improve on that bit of awesomeness?  It’s like a fruit-flavor all-star list.  This team could win a candy world series!  And no one remembers that it was ever a thing.  How?  How did that happen world?

I remember writing a strongly worded note about 10 years ago about how Starbursts fans around the world were falling into a state of depression without their California fruits.  Clearly mine was the only letter they received.

But I still remember you Starburst California.  I keep alive the flame of faith that one day Mars Corp will bring your flavors of deliciousness back to store shelves everywhere.

Stay juicy my friends.