Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A move to Wordpress

In the hopes to have all of my blogging in one place, yet also have it be organized and easy to explore various topics I have moved my blogging to wordpress.

Please come visit me at http://mindfulmixture.wordpress.com/

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Walnut and White Bean Paté

Though this month hasn't lead itself to a lot of super creative cooking what with all the writing madly for NaNoWriMo, we did manage to have a pretty tasty and new to us recipe come up this week.  It was inspired by a recipe that was in the October Vegetarian Times Magazine.  We tweaked it for our own purposes and made some scrumptious sandwiches with thinly sliced cucumbers that I plan on making again and again - they were delicious!  I could see where this Paté could be used in quite a few ways including a variety of tea sandwiches, with crackers and thin sliced fruit for a sweeter bite or maybe olives or capers for a tangy savory taste.  You could switch out the rosemary for another fresh herb, add garlic or caramelized onions, maybe paprika or cayenne - the possibilities are endless!

Walnut and White Bean Paté


1 cup walnuts, toasted in the oven at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes then let cool
1 1/2 cup cooked white beans (I used navy this time), rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
fresh rosemary to taste (about a Tablespoon), very finely chopped
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon alder smoked salt, ground fine with a mortar and pestle


Throw everything into a food processor until well blended and smooth.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude

An old man began to plant fruit trees on his land one day.
A young man came by and asked, "What are you doing?"
"Planting fruit trees," the old man replied.
"But you won't live to harvest and eat of their fruit," the young man exclaimed.
But the old man answered, "The fruit that I have eaten and enjoyed in my lifetime has been from trees that were planted by people who lived before me.  So I will show my gratitude of them and the trees they planted by planting these young trees for the people who come after me."

~Irish Proverb

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And the Craziness Continues

Well I survived day two of my NaNoWriMo adventure with 4437 words so far.  The story continues to reveal itself, which is good, since all I had to begin with was a brief dream.  I'm working in the fantasy genre for this project and it looks like I've got a pretty kick ass female protagonist to work with.  I think she's going to have a lot of fun and probably get herself into a bit of trouble if I'm reading her right.  I made myself stop around 7pm because my brain was starting to feel like mush.  I did manage to overcome one of my greatest downfalls in novel writing though.  Usually when I work on a novel and I don't have a name of character or a good name for a place I go into research mode and drop the actual writing and that never ends well.  I forced myself to put blank lines in where a yet to know name would go and just kept on writing.  Oh boy but did my perfectionist detail oriented side not care for that!  But the point is to keep writing, even if it is messy and there's not a solid name to be had.  So deal with it, perfectionist side!

I'm beginning to wonder if there is something in the air, because I had another dream last night, or rather this morning (once my brain finally let me go to sleep), that was a bit on the unusual side even for me.  See, I'm a science fiction fan all out and I love the Stargate series.  But as much as I love it and as fascinating as Todd the Wraith is as a character I doubt I would pursue him as a lover.  Yep, I dreamed that Todd the Wraith was my lover.  For those of you reading this that are not familiar with Stargate Atlantis, where this character comes from, let me fill you in.  The Wraith are a species of aliens that evolved as a combination of a large parasitic bug and a human.  Well that's the simple way of putting it.  These guys are an advanced species with incredible technology woven into an organic hive like organism that makes up their space ships.  They were the demise of several other advanced groups and continued to rule over their galaxy bring fear and terror everywhere they go.  For they feed on humans, or rather their life force, enabling them to live indefinitely if not blown or chopped to bit.  A variation of vampire concept, really, just no blood sucking.  Now among this group of Aliens one became a bit of an ally to the people from earth that had come to their galaxy, and he was  named Todd by one of the main characters, John Shephard (who, by the way would make a far more reasonable love interest).   But I guess my psyche likes to be a little different, because it picked Todd to be my lover in last nights dream.  Oh, maybe I should show a few pictures of Todd to emphasize the bizarreness of the dream.

Image Source

Image Source

Image Source

Well, I guess he could sort of be considered cute in that last picture, at least for a Wraith.  When I shared the dream with Mark he laughed and suggested that my next novel might be a little Stargate fan fiction of a rather unusual sort!  Yep, I can see it now:  Stargate Atlantis:  Wraith Lover  Oy.

Here's hoping I get some decent sleep tonight sans weird dreams!

Do I Win the Crazy Person Award?

I woke up yesterday morning with no intention to write a novel.  In fact I had stopped thinking about writing novels a while back, or rather had given up on the idea after finding myself quite a ways in more than once and then having something happen that left me derailed or distracted or whatever.  Of course that didn't keep me from thinking that the dream I had from that night would make a good concept for a novel.  But that was all it really was - a thought.

Then it's late afternoon and I wander over to a blog I regularly read and they have this little announcement about their participating in something called NaNoWriMo where you commit to trying to write a novel in one month - the month of November.  And I thought, good for them and moved along.

But the rest of the day I just couldn't shake that nagging feeling of a story wanting to get out.  The dream kept popping into my mind and I kept trying to ignore it.  Eventually I found myself looking up this NaNoWriMo thing  to learn a little more.  Curiosity satisfied I moved on into my evening and attempted to go about my normal night.  But just at bed time I finally gave in.  I knew I wasn't going to get any sleep if I didn't at least write the idea from the dream down.  I brought the computer to bed with me and next thing I know I've written a variation of one of the scenes from my dream and it is after midnight and I've written over 1400 words.

I should have been satisfied and able to just set the computer aside and go to sleep, but instead I found myself signing up to participate in the NaNoWriMo event and now I'm all official (officially crazy that is).  I've committed to try and write 50,000 words in one month.  With a story I only have the faintest idea about, from a dream, none the less.

So I have to ask, Do I?  Do I win the crazy person award?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Celebrating Six at the Seattle Aquarium

Our oldest nephew turned six this last week and we managed to snag him for a few hours of fun at the Seattle Aquarium to celebrate.  Being Halloween the aquarium was decked out in fall decor with carved pumpkins in under water exhibits and some scuba divers in costumes as well.  We were having so much fun in the moment, we didn't get that many pictures.  I'll share what we did get and mix in aquarium shots from a few weeks ago when Mark and I were there on our own.

The touch tanks are a must and it wouldn't be a trip to the touch tanks without getting a hug from a sea urchin or two!





A little face painting was going on too and Connor just had to be a part - how about a penguin to adorn that cute cheek?!



Our visit to the tropical tanks came next and we were in for a surprise!  A diver wearing tropical print shirt and shorts was hanging out feeding the fish.  This was the first time any of us had seen someone doing a feeding in the tropical tank and watching an enormous puffer fish beg like a puppy was quite the treat!  There was even a skeleton snorkeler and a treasure chest in the tropical tank, pretty fun stuff!


We had to go find the seahorses and take a good look at the fish that looks like a sword, at least according to a little boy who was going to be dressing up like a knight in few hours for tricker treating!




Next on the agenda (of said six year old) was to head out and see the seals and otters.  We showed up in time to watch the fur seals get fed and the otters were kind enough to come out and say hello.  We were so engrossed in these amazing creatures that I'll just have to share a shot of one of the otters from a few weeks ago, when it had a toy frisbee.


We also spent quite a bit of time in an interactive education area where were learned all sorts of fun facts about whales and dolphins.  These new interactive touch screens the aquarium has been putting in are a great addition to the aquarium.  We were most impressed by the sound that a Blue Whale makes!  And we all had to take turns seeing how we measure up to the height of an Orca's dorsal fin.




There were several opportunities for kids to search for special pumpkins in the different exhibits and get a treat if the could find them.  I was SUPER pleased with the aquarium  that the treats were organic granola bars and organic fruit leather.  Seeing them offer something a little healthier but still quite delicious for the kids was wonderful.  Not to mention the fact that the treats were organic supports the ideas of conservation that the aquarium promotes.  Kudos Seattle Aquarium - I'm proud of ya!

We ended out adventure by heading to Starbucks for cocoa with whipped cream.  And just outside there was a giant plush otter to pose with.  I'm really glad otters don't grow this big in the wild!





Throughout the visit to the aquarium Connor shared little facts he had been picking up from school and perhaps previous visits to the aquarium.  As a naturalist, (and a proud Auntie) I was pleased to hear him telling me about sharks growing back there lost teeth and how sea stars move with their tube feet.  I think we might just have another natural science geek in the making - Yippee!  What an awesome day with an awesome six year old and some awesome underwater critters!  As Crush the Sea Turtle in Finding Nemo would say, "Awesome Duuude!"

Happy Halloween!



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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Magpie #38 - A Short Story

It was a beautiful autumn morning and I was pedaling my bike along one of the back country roads I had yet to explore.  The tires of my blue mixtie crackling through fallen leaves of gold and brown, orange and red.  I sat upright, my hands lightly holding the cork grips of the swept back handle bars, a bright yellow scarf trailing out behind me.  I wore an easy smile, my eyes bright from the crisp air and the joy that comes when riding your bike on a beautiful day during one of your favorite times of year.

The country lane I rode down was bordered by patches of mixed forest and broad green fields with the occasional drive that went off into the distance over a hill and towards a plume of smoke rising from some hidden house. Houses where people were most likely coming in from their morning chores and settling into getting a nice Saturday breakfast on.  I could imagine the scent of fried potatoes and onions and the frying eggs to be plopped on top of them,  the scent of yesterdays fresh baked bread being toasted up and slathered with butter, of coffee waiting for the cream from that mornings milking to rise and be skimmed from the top of the bucket.  And pancakes bubbling up on the griddle.  All that imagining got my stomach growling and I began to keep an eye out for a spot to stop and pull out my own packed breakfast - one far less extravagant than the breakfast I could easily imagine being fixed in  the distant farm houses.

Eventually I came around a bend in the road and off to the right saw an old cabin  with a sturdy log fence surrounding it and the accompanying yard.  The cabin looked unoccupied but the apple trees that filled one side of the yard looked well kept and still held plenty of bright red apples, though most of the leaves on the trees had fallen to the ground.  I leaned my bike against the log fence, pulled the bag that held my breakfast out of the front basket and made my way to the gate where a sign read:

Elsa Wilson Cabin Built 1818
Home of Ms. Elsa Wilson from 1818 - 1858,
Beloved teacher of over three generations.  
So loved by her students and their families Ms. Wilson 
was given an orchard worth of apple trees.
The orchard, cabin and grave site 
remain here for the enjoyment of all.  

Thanks to the Friends of the Wilson County Historic Society


Help yourself to an apple or two when they're ready!

Opening the gate and walking up the path and out amongst the apple trees, I enjoyed the scent of ripening apples in the morning sun.  Many of the lower apples had already been picked, leaving the higher ones for the birds and other countryside critters.  I could imagine the raccoons coming by at night making a party of it.  I eventually found a bright red specimen within reach and plucked it from the branch, the perfect addition to my breakfast.

I settled on the top step of the cabin, not quite sure if the porch swing that hung there was still secure, and pulled out my breakfast.  I unpacked a hard boiled egg, coffeecake, and a thermos of coffee and set it all next to me on the porch.  Using the cloth napkin I had packed I polished the fresh picked apple till it shone and sat it with the rest of the food while I poured my coffee into the small steel cup that capped the thermos.  The steam rose into the air and I breathed it in.  I couldn't have ask for a better morning to be out on a ride or a better place to be enjoying my simple breakfast.

As I ate I watched birds flick back and forth from the row of conifers that edged the far side of the fenced in property to the apple trees on the other.  Chickadees called cheerily as they hung upside down from the branches, searching for tasty little insects.  Juncos filled the air with their squabbling clicks as they chased each other under the trees, white outer tail feathers flashing in the sunlight.  A steller's jay flew into the branches of the apple tree nearest me and screeched its claim over the remaining apple, before pulling it from the limb to fall to the ground and spreading its bright blue wings to follow after its prize.   A squirrel scurried up a branch of another tree and perched while taking bites from an apple, watching me as it chewed with big puffy cheeks.  I could hear golden-crowned kinglets and the occasional red-breasted nuthatch as they fed in the conifers across the way.

I packed up the remains of my breakfast and walked towards the row of Douglas Firs and Western Hemlocks with my second cup of steaming coffee in hand, hoping for a glimpse of one of those nuthatches.  It was always a treat to watch them climb down trees head first, tucking their curved beaks up under the bark.   Within a few feet of the conifers I stopped though.  On the ground among the fallen needles of the conifers was an old cracked grave marker.  Squatting down to look closer I could just make out the worn engraved words of what appeared to be the epitaph of the much beloved teacher from so many years ago.   I stood and stretched, looking around again. It seemed a pleasant place to be laid to rest, with all the birds happily foraging overhead and the scent of apples in the air.  I figured Ms. Elsa Wilson's spirit to be quite content.

Ready to get on with my ride I made my way back to the gate and looking out over the orchard, quietly thanking Ms. Wilson for the sharing of her apples and resting place.  Taking in one more deep breath of the apple scented air I mounted back up on my bike.  As I rode off I glanced back at the cabin to see the porch swing moving steadily on the porch, with not a breeze to be had, and I smiled.  Obviously the porch swing was still sturdy after all, at least sturdy enough for a happy ghost to enjoy on a sunny, autumn, apple scented morning.

Photo Credit
The above is a piece of short fiction written for the Magpie #38 writing prompt.  To read other responses to this prompt or participate check out Magpie Tales

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday's Child #18

Monday's Child #18

If you insist I stay inside, I must confess, 
I'll make a mess you can't abide.
So if this bothers you then let me go, 
let me go outside!

On Following "The Rules"

Image Credit
In middle school my social studies class was given the assignment to pick a historical figure, research them, and then give a presentation with what they had learned.  I chose Catherine the Great and found her a fascinating subject.  I soaked up everything I could find on her, reading several accounts of her life, a novel about her and watched a film or two as well - all in a very short time.  I was so engaged in my subject and research that when the day came to give my presentation, I went up and stood before the class and became Catherine.  I began by saying, "My name is Sophie Auguste Frederike, but you might know me better as Catherine, Catherine the Great."  Then in some way I became so engrossed in telling "my" story it was as if the classroom disappeared and self awareness with it.  When I finished it was to realize that most of the class had tears in their eyes.  My presentation was well received by my classmates.  When I got my grade, however, it was a D.  Despite the power of my presentation, the solid facts, the way I engaged the audience and left them moved and quite a bit more educated on a significant part of Russia's rich history - I had not followed the rules.  I had no outline, no formal bibliography, no note cards to refer to as I gave the presentation.  It wasn't that I didn't know how to do any of those things, they simply were not necessary for me.  But in the eyes of my teacher and according to the rules set up by the education system concerning what learning and communicating should look like, I had all but failed.  The students in my class unanimously protested my grade and I was given the chance to provide the missing pieces that were required, eventually bringing my grade to a B.  But it left a lasting impression on me.  It was among the first glimpses of what would be brought home to me over the years.  Being unique and individual, finding your own strengths in and ways of  learning and communicating were not a welcome thing in school, or for that matter, society.  Over the years I've tried to conform off and on and failed utterly.  For I am unique.  I am individual.  And just like Catherine the Great, I have my own ways of doing things that rarely involve following "the rules".

Friday, October 22, 2010

An October Walk in West Seattle

This is one of my favorite times to go out for a photography walk - so many colors and festive fall decorations to capture.  These photos, were taken on a recent walk around my neighborhood.  I live on a peninsula with great beaches on either side and beautiful neighborhoods in between.  I never tire of trying to find a new route, an alley I haven't walked down, a stair case up the hill I have yet to climb.  And along the way I usually see some fun things and meet some friendly neighborhood residents.  I hope you enjoy the walk, it's a little lengthy, so grab a cup of some delicious fall beverage and settle in for a tour de Alki.



Ah, Amanita muscaria, one of the most photogenic of fungi.  So beautiful.




This highly decorated little cottage is just a little ways from my own home.  
The usual decor is beachy, but they have added a little fall flair.  
I think it goes well.


Leaves and seeds on the side walk - always beautiful!


Here is one of the friendly neighborhood residents. 
 He was willing to stop his busy gathering for a moment and pose for me - how nice!


Here is another friendly resident - though this one only comes around this time of year.


A garden with plenty of greenery left and a beautiful bird bath.
I love that color of green!


Yet another neighborhood resident.  This fella keeps an eye on things at a playground.
He's got a cousin over on the other side of the neighborhood who keeps tabs
 of all the walkers and cyclists enjoying Beach Drive and Constellation Park. 


A friendly offering of bird seed by an odd bird indeed!


This jack-o-lantern means business!  That's one good guard, I'd say!  
Look how his eyes follow you...


Having grown patti-pan squash before I can understand why the gardeners 
may have left these last few end of season squash for the critters - they are so prolific!


Another friendly neighborhood resident who stopped to say hi and pose for the camera!
I just love the splattered mustache on this kitty!


Vibrant red dahlias still going strong.  


This was so rustic, I just had to take a picture.
Most likely this shed has been standing for a very long time - 
a part of Alki's rich history


This house was really going all out with the Halloween decorations - 
what a great window display!!!


And then there was the porch!  I wonder what's she's brewing!?


There were even a few friendly ghosts hanging about.



I walked along Alki beach just in time 
to catch this tug making it's way west. 
 A beautiful day to be out on the water!


I had stepped down onto the beach to pick up a plastic water bottle
left behind by someone and came across this lone carnation bud 
amongst a pile of rocks and shells.  


 The glass art sculpture that i admire on my regular walks
had some visitors hanging out for the season.


I seemed to stumble into oz for a little while too.


and Hawaii?



Sparkling blue water, brilliant blue sky all greeted me on the
west and south sides of the peninsula.  I had to sit for a while on a bench 
and enjoy the view and do a little sun worshiping while I had the chance!


It likes like a neighborhood gnome had the same idea!


And a sunflower, too heavy with seeds to look up and follow 
the sun across the sky reminded me in its golden beauty
 of sunny days soon to pass and cooler grayer days to come...
making me very happy to have gotten out on this walk on such a beautiful autumn day!


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