Thursday, September 24, 2009

Free museum day

The Smithsonian's annual Free Museum Day is this Saturday! In case you aren't familiar with this amazing annual tradition, each year the Smithsonian partners with museums all across the country to provide free admission. It is a wonderful way to reconnect with museums in your area or even check out museums you haven't visited yet.

Sean and I really look forward to free museum day. It should be declared a national holiday. What can I say, we are museum junkies.

One year, we went to Experience the Music Project and Science Fiction Museum (which is actually one location, despite the misleading name). The admission is usually quite pricey, so it was the perfect opportunity to visit. As it turned out, this was really not one of our favorite museums and was surprisingly touristy. At least we were able to save our museum dollars for other venues.

Another year, we visited the Seattle Art Museum's Asian Art Museum. It has a wonderful collection and is in a great old, art deco building. What a fun day!

This year, I think we are going to visit the Museum of History & Industry. It is a well-respected museum for Seattle and Puget Sound history, and I can't believe we've lived in Seattle for almost three years and have never been.

Sean has been dying to see the Museum of Flight - we might actually have to pay for that museum. Or go on first Thursday evening when the museums are free and open late ... We are so lucky to live in a city that values cultural and educational opportunities and makes them so accessible.

What museum will you visit on free museum day?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bread and other baked goods

I cannot believe it is Sunday evening already. Where does the weekend go? I didn't make it to the fabric store to see about yarn. No loss, there was no sale and, really, who wants to pay full price for yarn? Not I, even if the fabric store does sell dreamy yarn.

My weekend was still productive, though. I finished the dish cloth and started a second one. They are good, quick projects and perfect for getting back into the groove after several months off. Plus, when I am knitting, I watch TV with a guilt-free conscience. I do LOVE watching movies and good TV shows, but sometimes I do feel like the time would be better spent doing something a bit more productive.

I made bread: two loaves each of pumpernickel, whole wheat and sourdough. There will be lots of yummy sandwiches in our future.

I made a batch of dried chickpeas that were promptly turned into hummus to take for lunches this week. My dried bean-making skills are definitely improving, although I am not quite ready to declare an end to the era of buying canned beans.

I made a batch of oatmeal craisin cookies. What can I say, I am a sucker for Sean's little excited dance whenever he learns there will be cookies.

And we gave the kids a bath - both were smelling far too doggy. Their coats are so soft and even more irresistibly cuddly this evening. Four and a half hours later, Apollo is now on speaking terms with us again.

Well, off to bed now. Hope your weekends were equally as satisfying.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Knitting time

I decided to break out the yarn and dust off the old knitting needles this afternoon. Knitting is definitely a fall and winter hobby for me, and Seattle's somewhat cooler temperatures have given me the motivation I needed to start a new project.

My warm-up project: trusty dish cloths. The ones I made last season are looking a little sad, and it would be nice to have a few more to put into the rotation.

Boy, am I rusty - I frogged (er, ripped out all the stitches) the project three times before I hit my stride. I think I am finally back in the swing of things, though.

I am trying a new kind of yarn for this project: a recycled cotton and acrylic blend. Supposedly it's ecofriendly, but man, it is not very easy to knit with. At the risk of sounding like a complete yarn snob, I have decided that I just do not enjoy working with synthetic yarns - blended or not. Natural fibers are so much more friendly to my fingers.

Maybe this is an excuse to go shopping (as if I needed one!) and spend the last of the gift certificate that Mom and Dad gave me for Christmas. I have been savoring it since December. There is only about a dollar and some change left, but I am determined to spend every last penny.

Hmmm.... I wonder if there is a sale this weekend ...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giving blood

I was fortunate that my afternoon meeting ended early today so I decided to celebrate by giving blood at the donation center three blocks over. It was my second donation of the summer and the most delightful and relaxing experience.

I walked into the blood donation center, flashed my donor ID card, answered a bunch of screening questions and was taken to the donation area with absolutely no wait. The phlebotomist took my things and helped me into a large, cushy recliner chair where she hooked me up to the donor bag.

Six minutes later, my little bag was full and I was on my way to the kitchen where the grandmotherly volunteer fed me a cookie, pretzels, two cups of juice and a glass of water before she would allow me to leave. She was cute and gave me a great excuse to gobble yummy treats.

It was definitely a worthwhile afternoon. I highly recommend that you rush right out and donate to your local blood bank. They always need donations, even if you are a lowly A positive blood type like me.

Happy giving!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why I love the bus

I feel compelled to publicly profess my love for the Seattle area public transportation system. It is absolutely wonderful. I have been a regular bus rider since we moved to Seattle three years ago, thanks to my employer's very generous subsidization package.

I love that, with only a few exceptions, I can get anywhere in the city on the bus whenever I want to get there. I love that riding the bus is cheap - far cheaper for me than buying gas for the car.

I love that I never have to remember where the heck I parked the car when I go shopping. In fact, Christmastime at the mall is almost enjoyable.

I love that I never have to inch along in traffic jams at big events and that I get 20 to 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading time. It's not a perfect transportation system by any means, but it's pretty darn good.

Today, another bus rider reminded me that my fellow commuters are an equally wonderful part of the experience.

I grabbed a sweater on my way out of the door this morning, but it turned out to be a wee bit too warm to wear it. When I took my seat on the bus, I laid my sweater across my lap being careful not to wrinkle it. I spent the rest of ride day dreaming about who knows what and sipping tea from my trusty, well-worn travel mug.

When it came time to get off the bus, I pulled the cord for my stop, gathered my bag and purse and got off the bus, saying thanks to the driver on my way out. I did not remember dropping my sweater. But a gentleman who also happened to be getting off at the same stop saw my sweater fall. He picked it up and ran after me to return it.

I was so thankful - I would have hated to lose that sweater. The gentleman's action was so simple, but so very kind and considerate. It was a wonderful bus experience and a great way to start the day.

Have you experience a random act of kindness recently? If so, please share.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Sorry for the lack of posts - last week was a very long week, and I came home each day absolutely brain dead. The weekend was fun, although it flew by way too quickly. Sean and I went to see two movies: Extract and District 9. We even had a late lunch/early dinner out. It was a lovely date.

We also purchased airline tickets! It's official, we are traveling home to Dallas/Fort Worth in November to visit family and friends. It's been such a long time, and I am very excited about this trip. I wonder if we can talk everyone into having Thanksgiving early. That would be so much fun!

Now, I must finish getting ready for the work week. I promise to be a better poster this week.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor-less day

I am lucky enough to have the Labor Day holiday off and plan to spend today doing as little as possible.

I have some sourdough rising as we speak. I ran out of bread flour and being too lazy to run to the store mid-production, I substituted about half a cup of white whole wheat flour during kneading. I don't think it should alter the taste too much, but we'll see.

Other than finishing the sourdough and watching a movie with Sean this afternoon, I have no plans. What about you? How will you be spending Labor Day?

Yesterday, I combined my efforts to improve my bean-making skills with a much needed chore: cleaning out the freezer. We had accumulated dozens of partial bags of stuff that, by themselves, amounted to nothing. So I decided to throw it all in a casserole dish together and came out with Freezer Round-up Beans.

I made half a pound of chickpeas and mixed in the following freezer remnants: two tablespoons of tomato paste, two chopped chiles in adobo sauce, about 1/4 teaspoon of chopped jalapeno, a hand full of chopped broccoli, two hand fulls of chopped spinach, about a quarter cup of chopped red onion and about a cup of bean cooking liquid. On top, I sprinkled bread crumbs made from three pathetic-looking whole wheat bread heels.

After about an hour in the oven, it came out smelling smokey and spicy. A couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce, and it was actually pretty tasty. A bonus because I had already resolved to take the beans for lunches this week, and it would have been a long week if the experiment had been a flop.

After dinner, Sean and I had a sweet craving and decided to make apple turnovers out of a couple of apples in the fridge that were past their prime.

I am not very good at making pastries and was grateful to have Sean's help. Alas, we won't be expecting a call from any of the major cooking magazines to show off our results anytime soon. Let's just say the turnovers tasted good and were made with love.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rainy days and good books

Rainy days have returned to Seattle, and I couldn't be more excited. This is our second consecutive day of rain, and it's the best kind of rain: bluish gray rain clouds, steady rain that is cool but not bone-chilling. It makes the air smell amazing - fresh and crisp. And it sounds so relaxing.

It's the perfect day to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book. Good thing, because Daina and I have started our next book: John Adams by David McCullough. I am only about a hundred pages into the book, but have been enjoying it greatly so far.

I am finding that I identify a great deal with John and Abigail (we are all on a first-name basis, already). John talks about how wonderful it is to be participating in the Continental Congress with so many brilliant people, but at the same time, it is so very frustrating because the group spends far longer debating simple matters than necessary.

Adams said, "I believe if it was moved and seconded that we should come to a resolution that three and two make five, we should be entertained with logic and rhetoric, law, history, politics, and mathematics concerning the subject for two whole days, and then we should pass the resolution unanimously in the affirmative."

Ha. I am glad to hear this isn't a new problem when it comes to government, or even corporate, decision making.

And, I do have a little crush on Abigail. She was so smart and so hardworking. Plus, she was a feminist and worked for women's rights long before what we think of as the traditional start to the women's movement. Wow. But so far, some of my favorite things are these lines that McCullough writes about her:

"She did everything that needed doing. All her life she would do her own sewing, baking, feed her own ducks and chickens, churn her own butter (both because that was what was expected, and because she knew her butter to be superior)."

Abigail and I have that in common - I often find myself telling Sean that I would not buy one thing or another because my version of that thing is far superior. Sean, much like John (at least in my imagination), has never bothered to correct me on this point. What can I say, he's a smart man who picks his battles well.

Well, off to walk Dottie so I can settle into a long morning of reading and sipping tea. What are you doing today?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The green softie

This is Dottie's green bone-shaped softie. Daina and Paul gave it to her during their visit, and it was an instant hit. We've already replaced the squeaker and repaired a hole that was hemorrhaging fluff everywhere.

Last night, Sean and I noticed the softie has a new tracheotomy, placed with love by its spotted owner.

The softie no longer squeaks. And I need to repair another couple of holes, including the trach tube, this weekend. But oh, Dottie loves it so.

You can see she let me have the softie just long enough to take one photo. That spotted blur in the background is her swooping in to snatch it back. Right now, she is curled up on the couch asleep with the softie.

The problem is that she goes through softies so quickly. Anyone have a lead on a softie that is a wee bit more durable?

She loves Kong products, especially the squeaker line (we should look into purchasing company stock), but Kong toys lack the same qualities as a good softie. What we need is something make out of a Kevlar fabric with indestructible squeakers. Maybe I should write Kong ...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Baby carrots!

I was piddling in the garden the other day and discovered baby carrots! So exciting. I think I will let them grow for a few more weeks, but they are coming along nicely. It looks like the oregano has run it's course for the year, but the other herbs are still hanging on. I think we'll even have basil for a couple more weeks.

The weather is already turning fallish. Slightly cooler and a wee bit more rain. I am looking forward to fall weather - I am ready for crisp days and changing leaves.

And, as Daina pointed out a couple of days ago, pumpkins should be right around the corner. In about a month, Sean and I will celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary. So many fun things to look forward to this fall.

What do you look forward to in the fall?