Friday, August 29, 2008

Thrift and Found

I have a bit of a confession to make.


Are you ready?

I am a free-aholic. Like many of you, yes I enjoy a good consignment shop, flea market, garage sale... oh yes. But nothing compares to the thrill of getting something absolutely, 100% free.

Now don't get me wrong. I do have standards. I don't climb inside dumpsters and dig around in the muck or anything (though I suppose I might consider it for the right item----shudder--- Did I really just say that?) But I do love free boxes, curbside finds and garage sale leftovers. The little rush of finding something great is totally worth the humility of rifling through boxes of discarded treasures in order to find gems like these:

a gorgeous, well-worn and roomy leather bag
leather bag

or this lovely little dress, in just my size.
August 30, 2008
They were both just what I'd been shopping for for months, and I didn't even know it.

These next few things weren't free, but great thrift finds nonetheless:

good ol' Hungry Hungry Hippos. The perfect first board game for a toddler because the rules are simple: eat up those marbles!
hungry hungry hippos

no childhood is complete without one of these--
Lite Brite

This sweet little hook

and this great original painting

I'm off to finish meal planning for a camping trip on the Oregon Coast...

meal planning

Wishing you a restful and relaxing weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tomatillo Salsa

I'd never cooked with tomatillos before they appeared in my kitchen a few days ago. And as it turns out, I knew less about them than I thought I did.


I set out to make Tomatillo Salsa, since I had no idea what else one does with them...and after a long weekend of cooking, I didn't have much energy to look into it. I expected to just chop them up and mix them up with ingredients similar to those in regular salsa. But I was wrong.

I used a recipe from Cooking Light (I swear you cannot go wrong with their recipes), and learned that tomatillos actually need to be cooked in order to use them. I was a little taken back when I put the whole tomatillos in the heated skillet, and they began making a loud squeaking sound as I stirred them around. Bizarre.

making tomatillo salsa

Though the process was very different than I had expected, the end result was so yummy. I think this salsa would be best enjoyed on top of something simple so you can really enjoy the flavors. I think I might try it on a quesadilla tonight with a little sour cream.

Tomatillo Salsa

p.s. Thanks to all of you who have already found my blog and shown your support with your lovely comments! Its a little scary getting out there for the first time, and you've made me feel so welcome!

Coming Soon: Thrifty Finds

Friday, August 22, 2008

Somedays life is breezy...

and fun and lived like a page out of your own childhood.

Nothing spectacular has happened, but I've enjoyed every minute of its simplicity. Addison and I made a banana cake together, and went for a little walk while it baked.

I love being a mother to a toddler, because it reminds me that every little thing we see is amazing. There are adventures to be had a half-block away from our house.

A slug crawling by

A buzzing bumblebee

Soon, our cake was baked, cooled, and frosted--Not a moment too soon.
Banana Cake

Here's the recipe, from a great vegetarian cookbook my grandma gave me when I was 16.

Banana Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the shortening with both sugars. BEat in the egg whites, vanilla, and lemon rind. Stir in the banana.
Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk to the banana mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in the walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center come out clean. Cool, cut and frost, if desired.

Now, you should know that I don't usually follow the rules in cooking. I doubled the recipe to make two cake rounds for a layer cake. I also omitted the white sugar, used two whole eggs instead of the 4 egg whites, grated a tiny bit of lemon rind and then just squeezed the juice from the lemon into the batter, used a combination of milk and half & half instead of buttermilk, omitted the walnuts, and took it out of the oven at 35 minutes. But I must say, it is some mighty tasty cake. I think Addison thought so too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008



They look delicious don't they? Huge and juicy in the peak of their season. I bought a couple of pounds to freeze since we go through them like water around here. This morning I made blueberry buckwheat pancakes. On hot days we like to eat them frozen -- delicious little confections. But my favorite is to make berry syrup for morning waffles.

I hate to even call it syrup since I use so little sugar. Its more like a compote, and its one of the few things I learned to make from my mother, who doesn't cook much to speak of. Actually, she didn't actually teach me to make this compote; it's just that its so easy that I learned by watching.

Berry Compote
(blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, marionberries, all work well. I've made this with peaches too.)

Measure approximately 2 cups of frozen berries into a glass measuring cup, (like Pyrex)
Put them in the microwave for 2 minutes.
Take them out and scoop about 2 Tablespoons of sugar onto the berries (you may want to use more if your berries are particularly tart).
Add a bit of lemon juice and/or cinnamon if you like (this is optional)
Stir and mash the berries with the back of a spoon.
Put the whole thing back in the microwave for another minute and ta-da! Berry Compote.

Anyway, I was pretty excited about all my fresh blueberries and got busy washing and freezing them. I left the house for a bit to have dinner and a Mojito with a girlfriend and her new little one, and when I returned, I found this waiting for me...



summer squash

Grapes, yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, a variety of hot peppers, carrots, and onions. A friend's mother raided her garden before leaving town for three weeks and brought so much to share. This is really only a fraction of everything she brought for us to devour.

If all goes well, I'm hoping to share some more cooking photos and recipes using all these yums with you all in the next few days. Delish!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Humble Beginnings

For years now I have run alongside my dreams, watching their every move, and hoping someday when I turned 80 I would look back and find that I had actually jumped in and lived them somewhere along the way. Today I'm starting this blog.

What better way to start something than with a to-do list? I actually hate most lists, because they are usually filled with things that I don't want to do. This one, on the other hand, is a list of things I want to do before my next birthday, called "28 things to do before I turn 29." But, to be fair, I had better pro-rate my list since a good part of my birthday year is already over.... 'cause I'm a little obsessively perfectionistic like that. But I'll spare you the math equation.

"15 things to do in the 55% of the year left before I turn 29"
  1. Blog at least once a week
  2. Eat yogurt at one of the new homemade yogurt places in town
  3. Go sledding with my 2 year-old
  4. Enlarge and frame one of my own photographs
  5. Read three books on my to-read list
  6. Create at least one original artwork
  7. Refinish or paint one piece of salvaged furniture
  8. Go to this flea market
  9. Buy a perfume I like
  10. Plan a surprise for my husband
  11. Do this photobooth
  12. Go to an Omnimax movie
  13. Talk to some of my favorite bloggers about their blogging experience
  14. Work out at least once a week
  15. Carry my camera with me at all times
There. I did it.