Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blueberry games

I was standing in line at Safeway yesterday afternoon, unloading my stuff on the conveyor belt, when I suddenly felt someone watching me.

I looked up and the woman in front of me had stopped what she was doing and was fixated on my groceries. My little basket was overflowing with heavy items - 2 bottles of detergent, box of dryer sheets, 3 jars of pasta sauce, 2 boxes of pasta, blueberries, 2 boxes of cereal, and tortilla chips. I was embarrassed about how much stuff I had crammed in the basket. I over-did it as usual.

"I had coupons." I said laughing nervously. Dork.

"I write books of games for adults." she said.

"One of the games I created is with blueberries. I see you have blueberries there."


I glanced at my blueberries and looked back at her without saying anything. Because really, what do you say?

She then goes on to tell me the game. "You put a blueberry in your mouth and then your partner, or date, or the other player, tries to get the blueberry out of your mouth without smashing it."

"Ohhhhhhh." I said laughing, looking back at my blueberries, wishing I had picked up the strawberries that were on sale. But I probably would have picked up whipped cream too, which could have led her to tell me about a whole different game.  


"I'm making Blueberry Boy Bait with my blueberries. It's a great recipe from the 40's. The ladies used to bring it to church functions and all the men liked it. Hence the name Blueberry Boy Bait. My husband likes it." I said barely taking a breath.

People really creep me out sometimes. Maybe it's a fine, fun, game. But it just seemed odd that she brought it up. Maybe it's me.

We chatted about the coffee cake for a minute. There was no way I was going to talk about pass-the-blueberry with her.

Thankfully, the dude in front of Ms. Blueberry was done and the cashier rang up her stuff.

I didn't ask her about any other games in her book. So I guess she gave up on me.

Then the guy behind me brushed my back. He was standing two inches from me. He was way, way, too close.

I gave him my back off look and he just stood there.


What the heck?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stuck hanging with your parents

Elli has called every friend she knows and no one is home. There are voicemail messages from her all over town.

"Hi, It's me Elli. Do you want to go see the Smurfs movie today and stay for a sleepover? Call me back. BYE!" she has said over and over again.

At first I was worried. What if they all call back. It's going to be a party here.

It's been two hours and no one has called her back.

"Well, I guess I can just hang with you guys." she says with a humph.

Gee. Sorry to be such a drag.

I remember when she used to gladly go to the movies with us. She didn't have to have a friend with her. She wanted to sit in my lap.

Not anymore.

She's only nine. I thought this happened when they were teenagers.

Pretty soon she'll want us to drop her off at the mall to hang with friends. She won't let me walk her to school. She won't be my little shopping buddy. Unless of course I'm buying her something.

Boo hoo.

I totally get why people have big age gaps in between their kids.

They're sad their babies are growing up.

That is NOT going to happen here. Honestly, I cannot imagine having a little one again. Just thinking about chasing a toddler makes me tired.

So we're off to see the Smurfs. Just the three of us. Unless someone calls and saves her day at the last minute.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vernal Falls and Bridalveil Falls at Yosemite

We took the family to Yosemite on Tuesday.

The plan was to hike a few trails before heading back to Bass Lake where we were camping.

We started with the easy Bridalveil Falls before we ventured to Vernal Falls.

Bridalveil Waterfall

Elli with her cousins Maya and Ben

Bentley and Sam got to go too.

When we got to the trail head for Vernal Falls we noticed a sign posted on the rail. It was a MISSING sign for the three hikers who disappeared on July 19th. They climbed over the guard rail at the top of the waterfall and fell down 371 feet into the rocks and rushing water never to be seen again.

Vernal Falls

We saw it on the news here in the Bay Area. What we didn't realize was the three bodies were still missing. All the photos on the sign were taken on the trail before they got to the top.

Wow. Not a happy way to start a hike.

Everyone read the sign including the kids. It was a good reminder to all of us to be extra careful.

As we walked up the trail you couldn't help but wonder what happened to the bodies. You caught yourself looking between the rocks far below.

The water was rough, popping up against the rocks.

The surge was incredibly strong.

You knew there was no way someone could survive the fall and the rushing water.

We didn't go to the top of the waterfall for a couple of reasons. The kids started complaining about being hot and tired about two minutes in. Elli was dragging behind, whining every 50 feet. Plus we knew the last half of the hike on "The Mist Trail" was slippery from the mist of the waterfall. We didn't need to push it. So the Vernal Fall Bridge was the goal.

Maya, Elli and Ben
It's a good thing too. Because about halfway up I turned around to wait for Elli and stepped off the path. I lost my balance a little. As I was steadying myself I realized I almost fell down the side which would have landed me in the rushing water. I knew right then and there, that there was no way we were hiking up a slippery trail with the kids.

View from the trail.

Vernal Falls
Vernal Falls Bridge. The waterfall is to the left.

The river rushes over the huge boulders.

Peeking out between a crevice in the rocks.
Here is a a video of the beautiful rainbows, or moonbows as they call them. You see them at all the different waterfalls.

 Pretty amazing, huh?

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm still here.


It's been a long, busy, sweaty, depressing week.

I got another job rejection to add to my long list of job rejections.

It's been hot. There is no A/C at home and not much at the store which is making me sweaty, smelly and cranky. I hate sweating.

I have anxiety about going camping tomorrow.

We're meeting my sister and her family, which I know will be a lot of fun, but I'm stressing about packing, bears, taking the dogs, bears, and sleeping in a tent for four days with bears.

Our house is a mess. Which always adds to my anxiety.

Don spilled my travel mug of coffee in his office tote a few days ago.

"Why don't you ever empty your coffee mug!" he grumbled.

"Why did you put my coffee mug  in your tote?" I asked.

This was not a welcome response.

Now brown stained paper is strewn all over the house to dry. Our house looks like a recycling center.

It's dry now. But it's still everywhere.

I did write a post for TRDC last night which I posted this morning. But it was crap so I took it down.

The good news is I connected with two companies yesterday and have a couple new interviews coming up.

The darkroom

"Where did you get the old cameras?" Abby asked Tom, looking around his living room.

"My dad. He collected them."  he said, pouring her a glass of champagne. "They're really old, from the 60's I think."

Abby smiled, "They look like they're in great shape. Do they work?"

"Yeah, they still take great pictures." he said, picking up the camera and snapping a few shots.

Where do you get the film developed?" she asked curiously, knowing most people have abandoned old 35mm cameras for digital.

"I do it here. I converted a closet into a dark room. I still like to play around with film and developing. The process is really relaxing."

He smiled, "It reminds me of my dad. We used to hang out in the dark room when I was a kid." he set the camera back down and took a sip of champagne. 

Abby laughed, "I took a photography class in college. Dated the PA so I could get extra time in the lab. I wouldn't say it was relaxing though! I never really mastered getting the film into the spool. Something about being in that pitch black skinny tube with the film just freaked me out. " she said laughing. "I liked the developing room a lot better."

Tom laughed, "You don't have to do it like that anymore. You can transfer the film in a bag." he said laughing "With the lights on."

Abby jumped up, "Ooooh, can I see your darkroom?" her big brown eyes begging. She adjusted her short skirt as she stood.

"This way?" she said as she started down the hall.

"Uh, it's a mess in there. You don't want to go in there." Tom said, running after her, grabbing her hand. "Come back and sit down. We can get some great shots of the sunset from here." he said patting the floor.

"Okay. I would love to see it. It's been a while." she said laughing, disappointed.

They layed silently on the floor together, legs touching, sipping champagne and watching the sky change color. Waiting for the perfect shot.

The evening air was cool on her bare legs.

The floor was cold like the champagne bubbles.

"Abby," Tom whispered. "Hello?"

She was staring out the window, her mind closed off to the present, wandering.

How messy could it be?

Maybe he didn't want her to see his pictures....

Today's TRDC prompt: Write a short fiction or non-fiction piece inspired by any or all of the photo. Word limit: 400 words.  I really struggled with this one!  The picture seemed a little mysterious with the coloring, the pose, the old and unfamiliar cameras. Ugh! Please bring on the concrit.

Monday, July 18, 2011

An afternoon at Rio del Mar

We spent the day on Saturday visiting my brother and his family. He and his wife had a baby two weeks ago, so we got to see the new baby.

Their life has been totally crazy. They moved into a new house three days before she had a baby. Her mom and dad came to visit (help) for a week. Then my parents came for a week. Talk about chaos and craziness.

She and my brother were amazingly calm.

After visiting in their home for a few hours we ventured down to Rio del Mar beach for some gelato at Pixie Deli and a walk along the beach.

It was a perfect day. 

The little guy had on his running shoes. So everyone had to run.
A brief break to see if we could see any fish.

Lots of guys fishing.

The cement ship.

Great deli with really yummy gelato.
You would think the gelato would have been enough. But, no. We had to go and have pizza at Smoke. And boy was it good.

Margherita Pizza

Buffala pizza - sausage, roasted garlic, fresh basil

Chocolate Decadance cake
Lemon Pie

Looks like I'll be eating light this week.

No more dessert for me!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pasta with Pecorino Romano, Sausage and Mushrooms

You are not having a deja vu moment. You saw this about a week ago. Can you tell the difference?
Yes, I added the much needed mushrooms and sausage to the recipe. It tasted great.

I made this version of the pasta the day after I made the original recipe. I had cooked the whole box of pasta so of course we had a lot left over.

But when I looked at the leftovers the next day it really didn't seem like enough for 3 people, so I added more pasta. Notice the two different noodles in the bowl? I didn't have any spaghetti left, so I added fettuccine and made some new sauce.

Then guess what happened. Sam, the dog, stole the cheese.

I had just finished grating the cheese for the sauce, turned around to stir the pasta and he snuck in and grabbed the cheese. I didn't even hear him come in the kitchen. And trust me our kitchen is the size of a shoe box. He knew exactly what he wanted to do.

I went to grab the cheese to grate some for a bowl and couldn't find it.

"Don, did you take the cheese?" I yelled. "No, why would I take the cheese." he answered. "Well it's gone." I said. I'm losing my mind. Where the hell is the cheese. When I found the wrapper on the counter I knew exactly what happened.

"Oh my gosh, Sam ate the cheese! AAAAAAAAARGH! SAM!!!!!!!" I yelled.

He was hiding behind Don's chair doing the guilty wiggle.

I don't know what we're going to do with him.

Of course I added too much pasta. We had leftovers again.

So I ate it for lunch the next day.

I basically ate this same meal three days in a row.

On the fourth day I ate salad.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Suddenly I see

The radio played in the background as I was getting ready. I wasn't really listening until I heard the first beat of one of my favorite songs.


Her face is a map of the world  
Is a map of the world...... 
You can see she's a beautiful girl 
She's a beautiful girl..... 

My mood instantly changed. I could feel my heart race. My face felt flush as I bobbed my head to the song and my body moved to the music.

And everything around her is a silver pool of light 
The people who surround her feel the benefit of it 
It makes you calm 
She holds you captivated in her palm 

I slipped my black knit dress over my head and gently pulled it down. The fabric soft and snug against my skin. I ran my hands down my sides towards my thighs, sliding the fabric to get it just right. 

Then a little half turn and a peek at my butt in the mirror.

Suddenly I see 
This is what I wanna be 
Suddenly I see 
Why the hell it means so much to me 

I dropped my favorite slingbacks on the floor and slowly slipped my toes under the leather straps. They fit like a glove. They were worth every penny. 

The leather was soft and cool against my skin. The arch of the shoe made my calf muscles pop softly. My light pink toenails were the perfect match for my tanned foot and the black leather. 

I felt like Anne Hathaway skipping around New York in designer clothes, amazing hair, perfect makeup, and the most amazing, four inch heels. I could conquer the world in those shoes.

The thought made me laugh out loud. Men don't understand the power of the pump.

I feel like walking the world
Like walking the world
You can hear she's a beautiful girl
She's a beautiful girl 

I stared at my face in the mirror. I am that girl in New York. I can be her. It's all in the attitude. The walk. 

She fills up every corner like she's born in black and white
Makes you feel warmer when you're trying to remember
What you heard
She likes to leave you hanging on her word

I slowly put on my earrings as I sang to myself and tapped my foot in front of my dresser. My legs felt long, slim and strong, as I looked down at my toes.

Suddenly I see 
This is what I wanna be 
Suddenly I see
Why the hell it means so much to me 

"What are you doing, mom? Elli asked.  

"Just getting ready." I said smiling.  

And she's taller than most
And she's looking at me
I can see her eyes looking from a page in a magazine
Oh she makes me feel like I could be a tower 

A big strong tower 

"Oh, I love this song. This is the Devil Wears Prada song!" she squeeled. Then dug through my closet for a pair of heels so she could play, too. 

I love my sassy little girly girl.

She got the power to be
The power to give
The power to see

Amen sister.  

Suddenly I see 
This is what I wanna be 
Suddenly I see 
Why the hell it means so much to me 

Man, I love those shoes.

Today's TRDC Prompt is from my friend KIR another shoe lover. She's asked us to write about SHOES, one of my favorite things on earth. You can follow her shenanigans at The Kir Corner.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cole Haan Stephanie Clog

Cole Haan, Stephanie Air OT Clog, $328

I saw these Cole Haan clogs on Sunday and I haven't been able to put them out of my mind. I had just painted my toes, and these shoes seriously needed some nicely manicured toes. Pronto.

I liked everything about them. The open toe style of the clog, the color of the leather, the stripe pattern, the buckle, the red lining, and the top stitching. They thought of every detail.

How cute would they be (on me) with a pair of capri linen pants, or jeans, or a skirt.

I wanted them.

This had nothing to do with need. It's all want, baby.

There's just one problem. Well technically it's more than one.

Three hundred and twenty eight of them to be exact. As in $328.


Why, why, why? Why $328? Why can't they be $125 or $150? Seriously though.

Major sad face.

I guess I'll have to stalk the Cole Haan Outlet for the next 12 months waiting, and hoping, they get there. And are priced less. A lot less.

I did splurge on a pair of Cole Haan suede boots once. I got them on sale at Nordstroms, but they were still $250. I wear them all the time in the fall and winter. I keep them in the box in my closet so they don't get dusty.

I've replaced the sole once and the caps on the heels twice. I take good care of those boots, 'cuz I kind of love them. I feel happy when I wear them. Even on the crappiest of days.

What about you?

Have you ever splurged on a pair of shoes or boots? What do you own that makes you happy when you wear it?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper

Don and I love watching America's Test Kitchen. Something about all the trouble they go through to create a recipe just fascinates us.

We love when they test kitchen gadgets and products, too. The episodes where they looked at ice cream scoops, canned tomatoes, paring knives, barbeque sauce, and chocolate bars immediately come to mind.

And then there are the recipes. Last Saturday they taught us how to make Foccaccia bread that was crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. This recipe took way too long. So I probably won't make it. But the second recipe for an easy pasta dish definitely got our attention - Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper.

The chef in the test kitchen tried 100 different variations until she got the recipe she shared on the show. Wow. I'm pretty sure I would have given up after the 2nd or 3rd try. There is no way I would have made this recipe 100 different ways.

We watched them roll the pasta on their fork, enjoying bite after cheesy bite. It was so rude! We were salivating watching them eat it.

We were sold. Especially when they said you can have it on the table in 10 minutes. That is our kind of recipe.

Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper
from Americas Test Kitchen

Serves 4 to 6

2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano (for sauce)
1 cup coursley grated Pecorino Romano (for table)
1 pound spaghetti
Table salt
2 T heavy cream (or half-n-half)
2 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t. finely ground pepper

1. Place finely grated Pecorino in a medium bowl. Set colander in a large bowl.
2. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in a large pasta pot. This is important. You want the water to just barely cover the pasta. The idea here is to get really starchy water for the sauce. So don't fill it up full like you normally would.
3. Add pasta and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring frequently so pasta doesn't stick together, until al dente.
4. Drain pasta into colander set in bowl, reserving cooking water. Pour 1 1/2 cups cooking water into liquid measuring cup and discard remainder; return pasta to now-empty pasta bowl.
5. Slowly whisk 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water into finely grated Pecorino until smooth. Whisk in cream, oil, and black pepper. Gradually pour cheese mixture over pasta, tossing to coat. Let pasta rest 1 to 2 minutes, tossing frequently, adjusting consistency with remaining 1/2 cup reserved pasta water.

Serve, passing coursely grated Pecorino separately.  

NOTE: Make sure you use PECORINO Romano. Very important, according to the Test Kitchen peeps. Regular Romano is NO GOOD. I don't know what will happen to you if you use the wrong cheese. But I wouldn't try it.

SO, WAS IT GOOD? Don and I thought the pasta was really good, it had a nice cheesy and peppery kick. But it was a little plain. The next time I make this I'm going to add some sauteed mushrooms and sausage or chicken for a little extra flavor. And tt probably took me 15 minutes to make, not 10.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Zucchini Blossom Quesadillas

Oh how I wish I had the recipe for these. 

Fresh, hot, zucchini blossom, cheese and chili quesadillas
Authentic yumminess
We got to sample these yummy quesadillas at our store this week.

The wife of Renee, our lead guy in our workroom, made them. She brought in a plate for the guys to share. Lucky for us, Renee shared one with me and Don, too.

They were crisp on the outside, hot, cheesy and SPICY on the inside filled with fresh zucchini blossoms, chili and cheese. Absolutely delicious.

I was almost done with mine when I thought HEY! I should feature these on the blog. I can get a picture of Renee's wife and the recipe and have a cool story. 

But unlike me, queen blabber-mouth, she wants to keep it a secret.

wah wah

Now I'm on a quest to find the recipe.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Creep Show

I watched out the window for the sorority girls to start walking back to The Greek.

They were so dumb and trusting.

I decided to give their boring, preppy little lives a little excitement.

I stripped down, grabbed my coat, and moved quietly in the grass. I stood still in the shadows positioned perfectly between two lamp posts. No one could see me.

Two clueless bitches were walking towards me. They were completely oblivious to everything around them. This was going to be fun.

- - - - - - - -

The house was so loud.  I couldn't concentrate. Every whisper, cough, toilet flushing and footstep sounded like a monkey screaming in my head.

I was so glad to be in the library. My brain could think.

I looked at my watch. It was time to go.

I walked out with my friend Judy.

"How's it going?" I asked as we started walking.

"I'm good. Tired. It's been a tough year." she said. "Nursing is hard."

"Yeah, I've heard. Do you have a job yet?" She and I were friends freshman year. But we hadn't seen each other much since then.

"I'm going to stay in Fort Worth and work at the hospital." she answered with a smile on her face. "I'll be in the maternity ward. I can't wait."

"Where are you going to live after grad..." I started to ask, before Judy interrupted.

"Keep walking. Don't panic. Just keep walking." her pace slowed. She slipped her hand on my forearm.

"What?" I asked, confused.

"Just keep walking." she whispered.

I raised my eyes and saw a man standing in the shadows on the edge of the sidewalk. His face hidden in the dark. His body covered in a trench coat and nothing else. The coat was open wide daring us to look. His black eyes stared back as we approached.

I didn't even think. I just started running.

I sprinted like never before, like a deer racing through a field chased by a hunter.

My feet flew across the sidewalk and down two flights of stairs barely touching the ground.

I raced up the front steps to our house.

I could hear Judy coming up behind me.

"HELP!!! Let me in! HELP!!!! HELP! OPEN THE DOOR!!!!!!!" I screamed, pounding on the door, hitting the glass hard.

I seriously thought the naked man chased us.

I was breathless and in shock.

"OPEN THE DOOR!" I yelled, my eyes wild, as I hit the cold glass.

"Go to the back. You're not supposed to use this door." they mouthed through the glass.

My face twisted with rage and fear. "WHAT?" OPEN THE DOOR!!"

Suddenly they knew this was no joke. No sorority prank.

They opened the door.

"Oh my gosh. We were flashed. A guy just flashed us on the sidewalk. We were walking back from the library." I said panting, trying to catch my breath. "He totally flashed us. He was completely naked. Except for the trench coat. Oh my gosh." I was shaking.

We called the police.

They sent helicopters to search.

"Did he have a gun or a weapon" they asked.

I don't know.

"Can you identify him?" they wondered.

"No!! He was naked. His face was hidden!" I replied.

We huddled in the chapter room waiting for news.

No news. He was gone.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - 

I walked back to the apartment, hung up my coat, changed into sweats, and watched out the window. Those girls could run. Too bad the semester was over.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Today's TRDC Prompt was about writing what you know - with a twist. Take what you know out of your comfort zone. Try a new genre, a new time period, a geography you've only dreamed of, fantasy or historical instead of contemporary fiction, try the male POV if you usually write women. Or vice versa.

Switch it up. See where it takes you.

**This story was inspired by the time I got flashed in college. I wanted to write something kind of scary and with a guy as one of the characters. This incident came to mind. I have no idea who the perv was that flashed us. They never did find him.**

Concrit is welcome.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

First time away from home

Elli left tonight to go camping with another family for 5 days. This is the first time she's been away from home for more than a sleepover.

She's camping with friends in Oregon at a campground seven hours away.

It all sounded fine when they invited her two months ago. But now I'm not so sure.

I'm not sure I'm ready.

I'm going to miss her hugs and smiles. She's my little buddy.

I started thinking of all the things that could go wrong. The "what ifs" flooded my head.

"Mom, this is going to be so fun!" she squealed, as we loaded the car.

What if she gets lost?

"Mom, we're going to a famous spot to collect agate rocks. Did you pack the bags for the rocks?" She asked, sounding mature and excited.

What if she needs me and I'm not there?

What if there are bears?

What if she gets a bad bug bite?

"Mom, how much candy can I eat each day?" she asked in all seriousness.

Clearly, she was not worried about bears.

"What about cereal. Did you pack cereal? Mom?" she asked, then started digging through the snack bag. "Where's the candy?" 

I finished putting everything in the car and wondered how many of her things will be lost and won't be coming home. She's a little carefree with her stuff. I hope she doesn't lose her tennis shoes.

"Mom, thanks for packing my bags and buying all the snacks. You're the best mom ever." she said smiling sweetly.

Then she raced around the car and gave me the biggest hug ever.

"I love you, mommy." she said, her big brown eyes locked on mine.

"I'll call you every night. Unless I forget." she said smiling.

"I love you. Have fun, and be safe." I whispered, hugging her one last time.

And she was off.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

HIking on top of the world

On Friday night Elli hiked up to the West Point Inn with our friends Lisa and Lili. The girls spent the night together on the mountain in one of the cabins.

Don and I hiked up Saturday morning with the dogs, then we all walked down together.

9:30 am 

The whole San Francisco Bay area was covered in a blanket of fog.

It's like walking on clouds.

The fog is so thick and dense you want to jump and walk across it.

The buildings in downtown San Francisco are peeking out of the fog, way in the distance.

We live down the mountain where you see the bay.

It's so beautiful I couldn't stop taking pictures. Don and the dogs were way ahead of me. 

Elli was very happy to see us.

Even the little lizards were enjoying the view.

Cabin #4 is "THE BEST CABIN" mom. According to Lili and Elli.

It has the comfiest beds.

And a most amazing view, from the quaint deck.

It even has a shower. So you can rinse off after a run on the mountain. Not that I would do that. But Lisa does. Running. Not showering. We all know I shower.

Breakfast on the patio, and a quick game of Apples to Apples, was a must before heading home.

West Point Inn

Big thank you to Lisa for taking Miss Elli. She had a great time.