Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The New Job

Hello and welcome to my new work place!

For some 4 weeks now, I have been working at a store called Shadowbox Paperie. And I am so thankful to be able to say I'm employed!

The store is located on Main Street in downtown Chattanooga, which is in a nice neighborhood that is currently being built up into a real posh shopping district, we all hope. There's some art galleries, and some good restaurants all within walking distance, so we get some good foot traffic.

As you can see, we sell more than paper goods. And as you can probably imagine, I have taken over merchandising and display in the store, although I can't claim credit for every beautiful display you see in these pictures. Mostly I've just been tweaking the displays some.

So if you're in the area, stop by and see me! I'll be the one whose happiness at finally gaining employment is causing a faint glow around her edges.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Walk in the Woods, Part 2

I've been workin' on the raaaillroad, all the livelong day.....

During a break in the recent rains we've been enjoying, we got out and took a hike in the woods near us. It was a beautiful fall day, warm in the sun with cool air, bright blue sky, everything I've been missing for the past several years.

Look at that sky!

I find nature can be so inspiring, even if it's manmade.
That's a joke, son.

At a glance, everything seemed to have come through the rains and flooding just fine.

But upon close inspection, we could see that the forest got flooded up to our waist height.
All the leaves were muddy.

But near the river, it was obvious the water had risen over our heads, as this bridge is that high. You can see it's covered with debris washed up by the floods.

Fall is on the way!

A Walk in the

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Last weekend, we went with some friends of ours from Singapore, the Bridgemans, to go apple picking. This was an outing I looked forward to every fall when I still lived in California, and missed terribly while I lived in Singapore. And, being the kinda tech-saavy girl that I am, I brought my camera with no batteries. So, I don't have pictures of the tiny little orchard we went to, or of how beautiful the blue, cloudless sky was, or of how wonderful the weather was. I can't take pictures of the temperature, anyway. But it was a lovely day and I was so happy.

We were warned that the orchard had suffered a hail storm (on May 15th!) so the apples were pocked, but still tasted good. We found that to be very true.

So with a huge quantity of apples (and a gigantic pumpkin, to boot), I started hunting for recipes. Apple butter is a bit too complicated, I think. So my first apple endeavor was applesauce.

I pulled all the winesap apples from the basket for this recipe; they are tart and perfect for cooking.

The flesh is almost hard, and very white. And the peels can be so dark, I almost thought they were plums when I went to pick them.

The recipe called for 3 or 4 pounds, and by hitting a conversion site online, I found that that was about 2 quarts, peeled and cored and quartered.

Here they are with the rest of the ingredients: a 3" piece of cinnamon stick, 4 peels of lemon rind, the juice of a lemon, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, and a cup of water. The recipe allowed that not all of the white sugar need be added, but I had tasted these apples and knew they were tart and so I added the full amount. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes, and voila!

Apple mush! Now remove the cinnamon stick and the lemon peels which are hard to find but also hard where everything else is mushy.
Last year, when I went to clean out my mother's house, I inherited a food mill. I use it to make mashed potatoes now and then, and it is great! Now I used it to make applesauce, and it worked like a charm.

Have you ever had hot applesauce? I never had, but I have found a new love.

Home made applesauce is very similar to store bought, except perhaps it's a bit denser. I think Motts says they use gravenstein apples, but the winesaps make such a great flavor contrast: tart/sweet.
This was such an easy recipe, I hope you will try to make your own applesauce. I have so much, I may try to make an applesauce spice cake with some of it. We'll see. It was delicious with cottage cheese and walnuts for breakfast this morning, too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Chattanooga Farmer's Market

On Sundays after church, we have been going to the Farmer's Market downtown. Even though it has been very rainy, many people still make it there because it is so fun, and also, there is a roof on the pavilion where it is held.

It is not only a farmer's market, but also a craft show, and there's food and usually live music, too.

The last time we went, I had a delicious steak taco.

Then I went and got one of these potato chip things. Very decadent, also very delicious.

The veggies are always beautiful and tempting.

But maybe it's weird to have a bell pepper match one's dress.

More temptation.

On this day, we only bought some apples and tomatoes. The tomatoes will be made into a delicious fresh soup, and the apples?

They were used appropriately.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No Camera!

And so no posts!

But I did want to share a recipe I invented/stole/adapted that was so yummy, you will want to try it out immediately. Like now.

Hot Craisin Chicken Salad

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 celery stalks, bias cut into slices
1/2 cup craisins
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 half-pint lite whipping cream
1 dollop fat free cream cheese
8 oz. bow tie pasta
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
salt, pepper, and olive oil

Saute celery slices in a little olive oil until hot and softened. Add whipping cream, craisins, chicken, poppy seeds, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to slow boil, add cream cheese, simmer.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to common sense.

Toss cooked pasta with chicken mixture and sprinkle with sunflower seeds, if desired. Or, place sunflower seeds on table and allow everyone to make up their own minds about them. I liked them.

My sister and I have definite plans to see each other "soon" so I will have my camera again. Until then, I will try to think of posts that require no camera.

And the unpacking continues....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

Sunday, after church, we ate at an organic pizza restaurant called Lupi's Pizzeria in downtown Chattanooga. It's a funky restaurant with art for sale on the walls and eclectic music playing on the speakers. The pizza was delicious - the crust was perfect and the sauce was fantastic. We only had a cheese pizza, but next time I may add some veggies. There WILL be a next time. Finally good pizza.

Then we made our way over to the farmer's market. I've been to this particular market twice on visits with my sister and couldn't wait to bring my husband there, too. They have veggies for sale, but it's also a craft fair, and they sell cooked food, and there's a variety of live bands playing, too. I always come away from this event feeling inspired - either to cook, or to make something, or to perform. I'm so glad that we're living so close to it, I'm sure we'll go for the rest of the year every Sunday after church.

Well, of course I couldn't resist buying some veggies.

Baby yellow crook-necked squash, bell peppers in burgundy, orange and red, and a gorgeous eggplant.

On Monday, I packed all these veggies up, plus a lot of other little things, and carted them all up to my sister's place. We had a Labor Day Picnic. I think this is the first time our two families enjoyed a holiday together - even one so innocuous as Labor Day (innocuous for me and my husband, since we're unemployed). The crook-necks got cut in half, seasoned with olive oil and lemon pepper and grilled to perfection. The peppers were roasted. The eggplant was admired and almost became part of one of my sister's paintings. She made hamburgers from meat she ground herself, sesame marinated chicken, corn with basil butter (OMG) and we had a food orgy. I brought some mole verde I had also bought at the farmer's market, and it was scarfed up on chips. Some of it made it onto my sister's hamburger. I had a bacon cheeseburger with basil butter.
Are you drooling yet?

Then I got a call this morning saying I had left my camera at her house. Oh boy. 57 miles away. Not that it would have helped this post: I only took one picture. But subsequent posts are going to be a bit boring until I can figure this out.

All in all, despite the camera left behind, we had a great time. Thanks, Melody!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Saturday: Workday

I woke up yesterday morning to a painfully messy kitchen. I had stayed up late (10 pm) on Friday night watching Glee, which I loved BTW. I missed the first episode while I was in Singapore, and they ran a repeat of it, and I happened to catch it. Can't wait for the new season to start!

Anyway, so I knew I had to clean up the kitchen, but when my husband declared it a workday, I knew I was gonna finally get some other kitchen-related tasks finished, too.

After running the dishwasher with the previous day's dreck, I got to run it a second time with the "good" dinner plates that have been taking up floor space in a plastic bin. I washed all 936 pieces (it actually took a little over 2 loads) and found a place to put them in the cabinet - away from the dust.

This meant some minor rearranging, and I went around and around trying to decide what to move. Finally I came up with this solution:

This cart now houses, in addition to the Snapple, my two large Ikea jars of flour (whole and white) and a medium jar of sugar. There's some other baking-related items relocated to this piece of furniture, so it's thematic, mostly. Not counting the Snapple, of course.
That pretty piece of batiked fabric is an apron my friend Sharon Martin made me before she left Singapore 2 years ago. If you're out there, Sharon, Hi!

The pass-through had been an area for collecting stuff that didn't have any other home, making it impossible to use the toaster oven without causing a fire hazard, so I had more decisions to make before all that stuff got put somewhere and now we can use the toaster oven. The toaster oven which I think is too big, but now I guess I'll just try and live with it since it has such a nice home...I'm all indecision here. But at least the pass-through (misnamed, now) looks nice.

So I'm falling asleep Saturday night, and the thought comes to me that maybe I could allow myself to feel that this is home. It was a revelation. Of course, we wont be staying in this apartment very long (so she says) but the feeling of being home was surprising in that it has been absent for a while now. I'm not sure what it means, but I woke up this morning feeling happy.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Well, for dinner I made pasta with this complex sauce recipe I invented; you can find it here.

I took this picture after we had eaten.

Unfortunately, I didn't have any bell peppers for this recipe. My sister gave me some, but they had gotten fuzzy. So it wasn't as good as I usually make it. Also, I bought some mild Italian turkey sausage. Big mistake. I'm makin' my own from now on.

And then for dessert:

Nectarine Tart!

I adapted a very cute recipe I found here, making it smaller, basically since I only bought 3 nectarines. Dewishus!

Later, my daughter and the cockatiel gave us a duet.

And for breakfast?

Homemade blueberry waffles. My husband had them with apple butter, pears and syrup. Oh my.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Our Ikea Trip

Yesterday my hubby and I drove down to Atlanta to go to the Ikea I have visited twice with my sister. We got up early and, expecting the drive to take 2 hours, left at 7:30 so we could be there when the restaurant opens at 9:30 We love eating breakfast at Ikea. The trip only took 1 1/2 hours, tho! So we drove around Marietta for a bit; my husband lived there for a time before we met. He showed me the giant chicken at the KFC there and I took a picture on my phone. I don't know how to get those pictures onto the computer yet. But, luckily, a Google image search turned up this:

The beak opens and closes and the eyeballs rotate. Totally funny.

Some of the things we got there were:

New bedding! This pattern has a completely forgettable name - I don't speak Swedish! But I have loved it for a while. I was happy to note that the fabric is a bit softer and smoother than many of their duvet covers. Anyway, we love it.

And I got some of these tumblers. I left all my drinking glasses in Singapore, and altho I inherited some decent stemmed glasses, the bowl was just too small to have a big drink from. These are good for me because I am notoriously clumsly, and they are hard to break.

This was completely unnecessary. But it was ORANGE, and so my husband just put it on our cart. It was in the As-Is, and the stain is a bit wimpy. Methinks it will get painted, but probably not orange.

We got a bunch of other little things, not very interesting to post. And as we were checking out, I turned around and said to my husband, "I don't feel really good at all." It felt like flu, but today I feel pretty good, so maybe not. Then we just headed home and I went to bed. Today was a better day and now I am going to make some yummy food which I will blog about tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Do you know this food? I can't remember when I tried it for the first time, but it has been a staple in my family ever since. I have made it from mixes and from scratch, and have had pretty good luck both ways.

Anyway, I was talking to my sister on the phone last night while I was preparing this dinner, and she didn't remember what it was (having had it served to her by me a million years ago). So she requested I take pictures, which is why I have falafel to blog about.

For the uninitiated, falafel is ground chick peas (garbanzos) with cumin and parsley and salt and garlic, which is then formed into balls and deep fried. Really, what doesn't taste good deep fried?

The box that I used last night had two separate envelopes of mix in it, each envelope making approximately 12 one-inch balls. I used my small melon baller to measure it out and only got 10 balls, but that was plenty. Usually I use my 2 tablespoon measurer and make the balls larger.

I had called Melody to remind her that her new electric skillet is also good for deep frying, as it keeps the oil at a uniform temperature. I was anticipating having an ordeal with the deep frying as my new place has an electric stove, which was not a selling point for me, but it really went better than expected. In the past, I've had to struggle to keep the oil at the right temp, and the falafel mix has often just crumbled when I tried to fry it - not wet enough, I suspect. Or maybe it was that I was buying the mixes in Singapore, where they had probably sat on the shelf for years waiting for me to come along. Sucker that I am.

So they came out beautifully, and even tho there were only 10, I made some couscous to go with and we were fully satisfied.

Here's how I served them: I put them into a smallish flour tortilla - these reminded me of the wonderful pita breads I could buy in Singapore - nice and soft and not too chewy. Then I put cucumbers, tomatoes, ranch dressing, and for a bit of unconventionality, I added some rocket leaves. Yum!

But for the whole day previously, I was doing laundry, washing dishes, and working on this:

Since my husband and I are both unemployed for the time being, we thought it would be wise to only rent a 2 bedroom apartment. Which left us wondering what we were going to do with all my studio stuff, some of which had been in storage in Arizona for 4 years and only added to the bulk. Well, selling point number two for this apartment: a huge walk-in closet! That looked like the perfect solution, until we started piling our clothes, linens, tools, and other storage into it. However, I have reserved the last 1/3 of the closet for my sewing table. And I actually did some sewing in there yesterday. It's not too bad, but I need better lighting. Anyway, it's only temporary. Lord willing, we will find jobs, we will save some money, and we will be able to afford a new home sometime in the near future.
That's the plan, anyway.

In the meantime, I'll be in my little sanctuary.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Our New Home

Here's a picture of our balcony, which was a selling point for me, and our green bins, which will become planters after the winter. Actually, one of them already has some peppers and herbs growing in it. The peppers are doing great, but my basil has become a snack for something, maybe a squirrel.

The whole complex has sort of an alpine feel, with the tall tall pine trees and the architecture which is reminiscent of some kind of Swiss chalet. I think.

And this is what we're driving. After four years without a vehicle, it's been a bit of a challenge getting back behind the seat. But I think I've finally gotten the hang of it again.

And the last "New" thing I want to show you is:

This is Chloe, our beautiful female white-faced lutino cockatiel. She is by far the best bird we've ever had. She is so well-behaved and affectionate. And since she's a female, there's no rooster tendencies.

Life is good.