Friday, December 28, 2012

granola in jars

I decided to give my friends homemade granola in jars this year for Christmas.  The idea was planted at the end of last school year, when a gift was dropped off at the front desk for me to deliver to someone else.  The gift was a mason jar full of granola, with a piece of fabric screwed under the lid.

During my many trips to Goodwill and Value Village since, I've picked up various sizes of mason jars as I came across them.  The fabric scraps were graciously given to me by my sister Holly, who made a holiday pennant garland out of the fabric.  The tags are from Avery, and I found them at Bartells.

For the granola, I modified this recipe, which I found originally on my friend Lauren's blog.  If you like granola at all, I highly recommend making your own--it's super easy (this was my first time), can be modified to suit your tastes (cranberries vs/ cherries, for example), and tastes amazing hot out of the oven (although you might burn your fingers).  The only challenging part was stirring every 10 minutes or so while baking to make sure it didn't stick to the pan--I had to be careful not to push it over the sides.

Maple Cranberry Pecan Granola

3 c. rolled old-fashioned oats
1 c. raw pecans, broken in half
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. pumpkin seeds, raw not roasted
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut (found this brand at Whole Foods)
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1/4 c. flax seeds
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. olive oil
3/4 c. real maple syrup
3/4 c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 F.  Mix oats through seeds in a big bowl.  Mix salt and spices in a small bowl, then add to big bowl.  Add vanilla, olive oil, and syrup, and stir well to coat all the dry ingredients.

Spread onto a rimmed cookie sheet in an even layer.  Mine is non-stick, but you could use parchment paper or Silpats if you need to.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes so granola doesn't stick.  It will be done when golden brown and well toasted.

Remove from oven and stir in the dried cranberries; let cool completely.  Store in a sealed container.

Makes 8-9 cups.

Monday, December 24, 2012

sharing the love

For the second year in a row, my landlord has graciously given all the tenants in my building $100 off rent for the month of December.  His note said "I'm sure everyone could use a little extra money at this time of year."

{panel from a mural the kids at my school created}

I was trying to figure out if I should do something special with the money when I read three different stories in the newspaper over the course of a week that made me so happy.  So I decided to donate $25 to each of the organizations in the respective stories, and the last $25 to the Fund for the Needy, which the Seattle Times sponsors every year (more on that below).

{another panel from the mural}

Story #1
A program was started in the Monroe Correctional Complex (a prison in Monroe, which is north of Seattle) for the inmates to repair bikes to donate to kids who need them.  This is such an amazing program--not only do the inmates learn skills and get responsibility, but the bikes get repaired and stay out of the landfill, and also children who can't afford bikes get to have one.

{photo from Seattle Times}

Story #2
Two veterans from Washington walked from Kennewick (way over in south central WA, close to the Oregon border) to Seattle to raise money for a foundation they started.  It's called Shadow 6 Foundation and its goal is to build a sanctuary for returning soldiers in Ellensburg, in eastern WA, with a farm and housing and counseling services.  What a wonderful idea!
{photo from Seattle Times}

Story #3
The Soup Ladies started making hot meals for emergency response workers in Washington.  They get a call and head out to feed the exhausted, hungry firefighters, police men, medics, and search and rescue folks.  Recently the Soup Ladies headed east to make hot meals for those helping with Hurricane Sandy.  I love their motto: "Warming the world, one bowl at a time."
{photo from Seattle Times}

The Fund for the Needy
Every year since 1979, the Seattle Times sponsors the Fund for the Needy.  They cover administrative costs of the fund so that all the donations can go to the 12 local organizations they've selected.  Over the last couple weeks they've been profiling each one in the newspaper.  I've enjoyed reading about homeless children getting educational and behavioral support at Wellspring, a 9-year-old and 25-year-old teaming up through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, and Youth Eastside Services helping a teenager from Lake Washington High School (my alma mater and where my mom works).  That last one might make you tear up.

{lovely writing on the window of a hat shop in Vancouver, BC}

Merry Christmas all!  One of my favorite columnists in the paper wrote this essay on the mystery of Christmas.  How crazy is it that God would send his son into the world as a baby, and not just any baby but one born in a stable to a young, poor couple far from home!  Baby Jesus grew up to hang out with and support the marginalized people of the world (as Pastor Tom would say, the least, the last, and the lost), and calls us to do the same today.  It is in that spirit that I made my four donations.  May that spirit fill you too!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

key lime tart

Inspired by winning a cookbook from a giveaway on the blog Tartelette, I have decided to update my own blog!  Can't believe it's been a I am again on spring break, celebrating Easter and about to travel to Ensenada, Mexico.

For Easter brunch tomorrow at church, I just baked a key lime tart, from this Martha Stewart recipe.  I have an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom that I found at Value Village, but it worked just fine in place of a 9-inch.  I used ten graham crackers and bottled key lime juice from Fred Meyer.

Earlier this week I made the same key lime tart for a work event, and last weekend I made lemon bars for a gathering of friends.  Now I have 12 egg whites in my freezer!  At some point I will make one of these suggested ways to use up egg whites.

Speaking of eggs, Brandon and Kara brought me a dozen eggs fresh from the farm--just look at these gorgeous colors!  Who needs to dye Easter eggs when the natural ones are so beautiful?!  And when you crack them, the yolks are a much richer and deeper yellow than store-bought ones.

I will leave you with this Easter thought that I read in the newspaper this morning:
Every day do something that won't compute...Give your approval to all you cannot understand...Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years. ... Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. ... Practice resurrection. 
~Wendell Berry, in The Country of Marriage

Monday, April 25, 2011

spring break

This past week I have had a wonderful time off work in honor of spring break and Easter.  I think every work place should offer a spring break...a time for renewal and recreation as the seasons change.  I'm glad I didn't travel anywhere, so I could explore my neighborhood more and hang out with friends and family.

I took a bike ride to one of my new favorite places, Volunteer Park, and went into their Conservatory (it's only open during the day, so while I do walk to Volunteer Park quite a bit, it's usually in the evenings and I miss the Conservatory).

There's an orchid room, a cactus room, and a fern room.

And then there's the seasonal room, which rotates five times a year.

I so enjoyed seeing it full of all colors of hydrangeas (my favorite flower and not officially blooming til summer) and easter lilies.

Here is a view of the sunset from the top of the water tower at the other end of Volunteer Park.

I spent a lot of time with my friends Kara and Brandon (they're the ones who had the wedding on the farm last summer).  We went to a Good Friday service at St. Mark's Cathedral, which is a magnificent Episcopal church up a hill about a 15 minute walk from my apartment.  They have a big backyard we like to eat in.

I also went to a Mariners game with my friend Alana.  This night was a rare win for them, and it was a great game to be at with lots of action--15 hits.  We sat in the best seats I've ever had, on the bottom level near first base.

Alana and I went to Ben & Jerry's free cone day with my mom.

Mylee is now living at home with her best buds, Ali and Silas, while Holly finishes at PLU and packs up her apartment.

We had a nice Easter, going to church and the brunch there.  My mom and I played the bells at both services.  We went out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner :)

Also this week I baked muffins and an apple pie, visited my mom and her special ed students at school, had lunch with a friend, went for a lot of walks when we had sunshine, ate at the Melting Pot and went shopping with Holly, and joined my mom and dad to pick up a new Miata.

This Thursday, my dad and Michael and I leave for our mission trip in Ensenada, Mexico.  We'll be going with 25 other folks to build two houses.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

wall art + springtime

At Christmas I received a framed piece of art from Holly that has all the neighborhoods of Chicago graphically represented.

That inspired me to frame four old maps I have, and my dad found a print of Pike Place Market in our garage that he gave me.

So now my apartment has art on the walls, which really brightens it up!

As for the springtime part, it hasn't been all that sunny or warm lately, but I've still made it outside in between rain showers.

I went for a walk around my neighborhood and took pictures of what's blooming.

It's fun to explore and watch the seasons change in a new neighborhood!

Today my parents and Holly and I went to the Burke Museum on the UW campus to see a photography exhibit called The Owl and the Woodpecker.  Paul Bannick, the photographer, specializes in birds of North America, and his shots of a wide variety of birds are stunning.  You can see a slideshow of his work here.

We walked around the UW campus to their quad, where the cherry trees are full of blossoms.  Dad, Holly, and Mom are in the photo below if you look closely.

I can't believe in the almost 20 years we've lived here, this was my first time seeing this spring spectacle!  There are many other species of cherry trees on the campus that haven't even started blooming yet.  The place was crawling with people, taking pictures and picnic-ing and climbing up in the branches.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

happy twenty-eleven

As we start this new year, I thought I'd share pictures from my new apartment, which after paying a couple months' rent, getting a leaky gas valve replaced, and putting all my things away, I am finally feeling settled.

This photo was taken at night but shows the table I found at Goodwill and refurbished with my dad.  The wood chair I also found at Goodwill.  The two wood bookshelves and the blue arm chair are from craigslist.

My dad built me a fabulous bed that doubles as a couch during the day.  It also triples as storage with the cabinets across the back that flip up.  At night I just wheel out the mattress.

Here's a shot of it with my bedding (bird pillows handmade by my great-grandmother Gigi!) and poinsettia (a gift from my school):

This is my closet, which is actually quite large with a good amount of storage space.  I found the dresser and the five drawer chest on the right both on craigslist.  Nearly everything I bought is originally from Ikea, but I just got it at Goodwill or from another person :)

I don't have a picture of my kitchen or bathroom with things in them, so I'll try to take those in the daylight and post them next time.  I also have some artwork to put up on the walls, so I'll take a picture of those once they're up.

Here's a random picture for dad and Mike putting up the Christmas lights:

We've been having gorgeous sunny weather (although really cold) this past week or so, and my mom and Holly came over to visit me one day.  We took a walk around my neighborhood to nearby park, which has an old water tower you can climb.  We had a 360 degree view of the area.  Here's a shot of Mt. Rainier:

And here's one looking east to the 520 floating bridge, Kirkland, and the Cascades:

In early December, I got a new car!  My dad has been looking on craigslist forever, and right around the time Michael got his driver's license, he found this 2004 VW Golf.  Pretty much the same as the '98--still a stickshift--but newer and blue!  The family had to sell it because they are moving to Holland, but they've been the only owners, it has low mileage, great condition, and great price.  I absolutely love it:

One last exciting piece of news is that Holly and I are going to Washington, DC for a week in February! We're going to see two of my friends from LVC, the Uncs George and Michael, and as many monuments and museums that our time and the weather allow.  Also our Senator Patty Murray gave us tickets to go on a White House tour, so here's to hoping that we spot some or all of the Obamas :)  I'm so looking forward to's been too long.

I wish you all a happy new year!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

snow-motion rules the day

I lifted this headline from this morning's edition of The Seattle Times...because it's so true!  Life slows down quite a bit here with any snow, as explained in this article.  Several inches fell Monday, and temperatures have been so cold (low 20's) that it hasn't melted yet, which is quite unusual for us.  My school had an early release on Monday, and then no school yesterday or today due to the slick, icy, snow-covered road conditions, since just about everyone lives on or near a hill around here.

Monday night I decided to stop my commute in Kirkland rather than drive to my apartment in Seattle, and it's a good thing I did, because it took some people 4-10 hours to get home Monday.  My dad left his office at 5:30pm and didn't get home til nearly 10:30.  His bus was stuck in the middle of 520, the floating bridge crossing Lake Washington, because another bus was blocking the upper part of the bridge with barely enough room to let cars pass.  So he got off his bus, walked to the next exit, and hung out in a gas station while I drove through Bellevue to pick him up.  The streets were empty of cars, but full of snow, and as long as I kept moving I was fine.

Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day, although very cold.  Mike was out sledding with friends, so Mom and Dad and I walked down to our local Starbucks to use our "free birthday drink" certificates since our birthdays are all so close.  We could choose any drink, so my mom got a venti for the very first time.

Since it was so cold, I decided to break out my big blue down jacket from Chicago for our walk.

It has quite the hood.

When we walked by our local grocery store, Metropolitan Market, their outside display of "winter squash" was living up to its name.

And we felt sorry for these succulents that were a little out of their element.

This snow storm takes us right up to Thanksgiving break tomorrow and Friday!  We are having dinner just the 5 of us, and rather than cooking, my mom has ordered up our meal from Metropolitan Market.  She was originally thinking of us going to a restaurant, but getting it from this gourmet grocery store means we can have leftovers :)

A blessed Thanksgiving to all!