December 31, 2011

21 by 21

In June Shane and I both wrote lists while sitting on our beds at a Salzburg hostel.  The lists were written quickly, quietly and in secret.  They were to be our birthday lists.  Goals we set to be accomplished before our next birthdays.  Mine was twenty-one items long, and Shane's was twenty-seven.  While I didn't get it all done, some of the goals were a little lofty, it was an interesting experiment.  Mine was successful enough that I plan to write another one soon, 22 Things.  Here is how it looked:

21 Things by 21 Years

Eliminate chemicals from our cleaning products -still working on it! Have made great progress.
Run a 10km run - done, many times over.

Come up with a signature stuffing recipe - done, still needs to be posted
Develop 5 jam recipes - this was a great goal! I totally did it and had a blast finding confidence in canning.
Forage for mushrooms (and preserve them) - Shane went out four or five times this year, we were very successful. To preserve them we dehydrated them and stuck them in the freezer. We just finished the last of them with Christmas dinner.
Leave 21 comments on 21 blogs - This is what I needed to get more active in the blogging community. While I still have a long way to go this goal helped me get over my fear.
Drink a bottle of wine worth $42 - We drank this bottle on my birthday, unfortunately it was an 11 year old red wine I didn't really care for.
Blog 5x per week - I managed to do this for several weeks, and I blogged every day in Europe.
Try 5 cocktails - I had a lot of fun with this one as well. I'm not much of a cocktail drinker, but we liked playing around.
cook at least one recipe from every cookbook (and blog about it) - Don't know why this was a goal, I've got far to many books for this to be realistic.

Develop and frame 15 new pictures (give 5 away) - Didn't happen. I printed and gave away this many pictures, but didn't have the funds to get them all framed.
Watch a sunrise - I'm an early riser, sometimes you'll even find my running while the sun comes up.
Read at least 5 books - I've read a lot more than this since I got back, but it was good incentive to make my first trip to the library.
Create a compost pile - This I am very proud of, I'm hoping for some awesome hummus by next fall.
Visit at least two places in BC I haven't been - Since we got back I visited three places I'd never been, but only one was in BC: Prince George, Bellingham (WA) and Seattle (WA).

Plan one very romantic date with my husband - We got very busy and this "Very" romantic date didn't happen, lots of other fun ones did though.
Send all family a birthday note (cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, siblings and parents, good friends) - My family is extensive, this would be a hard and expensive challenge.
Send flowers to two special people - I did this. It was hard though, I wanted to keep them!
make one new friend - We made a few new friends this year, and we've loved having these people in our lives.
Do 5 good deeds without reward - This goal was hard to quantify, I can say yes, but I'm not really sure.
Visit natasha at least once - I drove Natasha to Prince George, that was my visit.
Hi Italy! I miss you!

Fall/Winter Goals

My fall goals were set on September 21.  I gave myself the fall season, until December 21 to accomplish them.

1. Watch 3 movies - did! I really enjoyed cozying up on the couch watching movies with my family.
2. Work on pillowcases - I have two pillowcases that I started embroidering over a year ago.  Didn't even touch them.
3. Warm bedroom - Our bedroom is the coolest (and by that I mean least personal/decorated) room in the house.  I added some plants, hung a few pictures, hung new curtains and found another dresser that looks great.  I'm still on the hunt for a great rug, but I'll wait until I find the right one. Done.
4. Make baked and fried doughnuts - I made pumpkin spice doughnuts, and totally forgot about a baked doughnut.
5. Bake 10 different breads - did!  It was fun to make and eat all these breads, I totally learned more about bread baking and picked up a few keeper recipes.
6. Cook 3 recipes from Vij's  cookbook - I was having a hard time cooking from this book, the most recent I bought.  I made a half dozen Indian recipes for a feast we ate with my sisters.  Done!
7. Host family for photos - our family has been asking to see pictures of Europe since we got back.  I've organized and sorted most of them, but it would take hours to even view only the best ones.  We've been to daunted to have everyone over.  Fail.
8. Make 3 crafts for fall - I don't think I actually crafted three times.  I wrapped presents beautifully for Christmas, and that was a series of crafts in itself.  I'd say I didn't do this one.
9. Write 10 letters - Once I started I couldn't stop!  I must have sent and mailed nearly 20 letters since September.  What a wonderful hobby!

Winter 2012 Goals:
Add three more indoor plants to the house
Thoroughly plan garden, buy seeds
Finish three puzzles
Read twelve books
Cook one recipe from twelve cookbooks
Blog fifteen recipes
Host a family game night
Make candles and laundry soap
Hike three times
Paint with Shane our spring paintings

December 30, 2011

Resolutions 2012

Tis the resolution season once again.  But rather than meaningless unquantifiable goals (lose weight. pay off debt.) I tend to make seasonal goals and birthday goals.  I have yet to share these with you (I'm losing time like it's going out of style) but I assure you they are always there.  (Actually, winter's have yet to be set, as have my year for 22, but they are coming soon!)

I was talking with Shane not to long ago about setting resolutions for 2012 and he suggested one great one.  Eat meat no more than once per week.  Period.  This was a bold move coming from him, but one that I am extatic to embrace.  Less meat: better health, smaller carbon footprint, less guilt when eating out, easier on the pocketbook.  There are many awesome benifits to reducing meat consumtion.  I'm glad we're at the stage where we're nearly cutting it out, when other people are trying to convince their significant others just to consider one meal a week meat-free!  Seriously dudes!  Take your head out of where it's hiding and realize the ethics behind what you put in your mouth!  Quit ignoring!  Of course this decision means more vegetables, more oportunity to expierement with grains and flours, less time cooking, and a totally new way to think about nourising our bodies.

I have two big goals this year, both not to be attained fully this year, but for me to work hard on.  One: I want to be a better gardener, a more seasonal eater and thriftier person.  We have so much around us all the time.  Wealth in food.  I throw food out, which makes me feel horrible sometimes, (it should all the time) what a first world situation to be in: too much food!  How dare I?  I'm going to work hard on my garden this year, planting on time, weeding, learning and growing.  I've got compost to dig and seeds to plant.  I've got plans to draw and dirt to dig.  I can't wait!  We will be building a cold frame this spring, and turning more ground for vegetables.  I've got plans for bird feeders and catnip in the garden.  If I become a better gardener I'll become a better preserver.  If I preserve better it will hopefully get easier to eat both locally and seasonally, something I struggle with now.  It's a circle, how I see it, start at any point and I'll be led to the rest.  I better just jump on board.
The second goal is simple: not to buy brands that advertise.  Period.  I know it's hard, but advertising both bothers and aggitates me on a daily basis.  I'll buy brands that don't advertise where ever it's possible.  Enough said.  I'll speak with my money.

Of course there are the simple goals, unquantifiable and all.  Get outside more.  I've need to remind myself sometimes, I love being outside, but on a regular basis my butt just doesn't want to get out of it's nice warm comfy house.  Hike, bike, run, walk.  I keep saying if only I had a bike (with two baskets)...maybe it's wishful thinking, but I'd ride everywhere.  I got the bike bug in Europe, where people do ride everywhere, and my mother is a constant reminder that it can be done because she does it!  Hike and walk on my days off, it's so much fun! (Okay gas consumption is my worry there, it's legit.)
Bake no more than twice per week.  This was a resolution last year too, bake less.  I still have a hard time with it.  It seems everywhere I look I'm seeing things I want to make: magazines, blogs, cookbooks.  I see, I want and then I cave.  But if I do all of the above (garden, preserve, get outside) I have less time to spend sitting and wishing.  It really works, but it all comes down to self control. (don't all resolutions?)
Read fifty books this year.  I love to read, but reading often gets set aside for the computer.  I know I can do better than that.  I'd estimate I read 25 books last year (not including travel books, they number at least that many.) This year I'm going to count, I've got my ereader, I've got the library.  I'll be immersed in a whirlwind of characters and story lines this year!

There are my commitments for 2012.  What are yours?

December 29

Our day in Vancouver was: fun! delicious. smart. a bargain. and just slightly dangerous.
awesome vegetarian pizza from rocky mountain!
amaretti cookie from elysian coffee.

December 27

Before I get all off track and out of touch, I do believe this dinner should be recorded as the best ham ever cooked.  (Being modest of course.)  For our third, and final Christmas dinner we had my dad, oma & opa, and sisters over for a ham dinner.  Dad gifted us the ham, unlabeled and frozen.  I made dinner:

Ham with a pineapple-mustard and brown sugar glaze.
Roasted potaotes and beets.
Braised red cabbage.
Homemade buns.
Green Beans.

and for dessert:
Carrot cake.

It was super simple to throw together (I only started cooking 3 hours before we ate, and that was to start warming the ham.)  and made for a very enjoyable evening.
This ham would have easily fed 15, instead it fed 7 and has 4 bags of leftovers! Yum!

December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

I hope your Christmas was as merry and bright as ours was!  We made it to the otherside of the holiday with all our senses intact.  We feasted, and laughed and spoiled each other with thoughtful gifts.  It was a day of love and happiness, it was perfect.
Thanks for the awesome ornaments Kim! They're so cute.
Christmas Eve dinner with Mom&Dad

These stockings are huge and they were loaded.

For dinner we made:
apple and nut stuffed turkey
roasted garlic mashed potatoes
butternut squash and sage risotto
fennel and white bean salad
turkey gravy
mom's brussel sprouts
roasted root vegetables
gf bread

and for dessert:
macerated fruit and whip cream
gluten and dairy free pumpkin pie

December 23, 2011

no time for quiet

We're in the midst of a full on bakesplosion.  My kitchen is awash in food stains, and the cupboards need badly to be straightened.  If your looking for a glass try the sink, oh a fork? your on your own!  Slowly but surely the kitchen spat out (what a lovely thought) all the goods I needed, and we baked until our feet were sore.  I'll try to gather my wits for a photo summery of what we made, but for now we're looking at what I did manage to capture the last few days.
hot chocolate on a stick.
Colouring while waiting for baking cookies.
Even the nutcracker is so appalled by the state of the carpet he can't look
The only non-sugar food I ate this day!

Seattle Day 3

After a welcome late sleep-in we started Sunday with breakfast at Toulouse Petit Cafe.  This was a fantastically unique place to dine, a restaurant very unlike most we visit with it's funky ornate decor and badass Creole menu.  I would highly recommend Toulouse for any future trips to Seattle.  On that note I would highly recommend everywhere we went, and will be going back to each and every one if given the chance.  We asked the hostess where the best mall in Seattle was and she launched into a passionate piece about the Southcenter mall.  We loaded it into our gps and set off.

The rest of the morning was a blur of shopping, clothes and credit card transactions.  It was sweet.  A few hour later we emerged back into the daylight with a few bags each and drove straight for lunch, Serious Pie.  This was the best meal of the trip, hands down.  Everything we ate this weekend was good, but this meal was fantastic!  Tom Douglas knows his pizza.  We had a cured meat plate (meat cured in house) to start and the pizza special of the day.  We seriously considered ordering another pizza and forgoing dinner plans for another meal.  It was that good.

We continued our chocolate tour eating with a stop at the Confectional for raspberry white chocolate cheesecake (amazing!) and Bolivian sipping chocolate.  We made a stop at Fran's for more amazing chocolate and spent time cruising the sales in yet another mall.

By the time the dinner hour rolled around we were ready.  It was time for our last Tom Douglas experience, Brave Horse Tavern.  We rolled up our sleeves and dug into two large plates of fried chicken complete with mashed potatoes, gravy and collard greens.  It was delicious especially alongside a bubbling mug of root beer.  We listen to patrons playing on the shuffleboards in the center of the room and to conversations happening at our communal dining table.  We took our leave before dessert and headed a few minutes away to B&O Espresso, stopping in across the street at a used bookstore, our third of the day and the only place we bought books.

The chocolate mousse cake we had at B&O was just as delicious as our flamboyant waiter promised it would be.  It was well worth seeking out.  After we scraped our plates we turned in for the night, happy, tired and well fed.

Shane and I left for home the following morning.  We had breakfast at Macrina Bakery (yum, must come here again!) and stopped to fill our alcohol allowance before heading across the boarder.  Sidenote: Beer in the states is so cheap.  24 beers, $30!! and it was good independent beer too! (a good independent 12 pack is $30 in BC)
It was a great weekend away, even with all this Christmas craziness!  I feel so lucky my husband spoiled me with such a fun time in a wonderful city.  Thank you sweetheart!