Category Archives: Fun

Cruel Summer

This summer has been full of ups and downs, but was helped along by the awesome opportunity to spend almost two months in Montana hanging out with in-laws, helping out around the house (as various health crises occured), going backpacking and visiting friends.

Things kicked off in California with a super fun weekend of celebration at the wedding of one of my best friends.  All the beauty and good feelings made me want to go back to being engaged and having a whole wedding ahead of me to plan.  Perhaps this is because my wedding was over a year ago, and I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be planning.

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In Montana, Ted and the dogs and I spent a total of 6 nights in the backcountry, on two different trips.  One to the Crazies, and the other to the Beartooth wilderness:

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It was a blast to camp at 10,000 feet, and a total kick to have the pooches along.  They loooved the tent.

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And we put them to work, of course:

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I also got to make a visit to my father-in-law’s farm, where he grows native grass seed and keeps his two horses (that’s me, riding Trooper and leading Jewel):

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I even managed to finish 3 courses for library school this summer – one in Perl programming (I earned that A-, lemme tell you), an independent research project about emerging careers in library science, and a class about ‘picture books for older readers.’  We’re starting the 2-day drive back to Oakland on Sunday, and fall classes start on Monday.  And after months of loafing around, it’s finally time to start looking for a job… if one exists.

Too Much Fun

This past week I was graced by the awesome presence of  my friend Kai, who lives in Seattle.  Though she’s one of my favorite people from college, I hadn’t seen her since my wedding, which was nearly a year ago, and before that it had been about two years.  Despite the long gaps between visits, we always manage to revert to our singing-in-the-car, Boons-drinking, home-cooking, beer-swilling college selves when we’re around each other.  

(G and Kai):

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We commemorated the occasion by eating pay-per-ounce frozen yogurt:

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drinking beer (that’s me and G):

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and chilling with baby goats on my friend’s farm in Marin:

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It was a fun few days, but in spite of not having to balance the fun with any actual work, I’m utterly exhausted.  Today after I dropped Kai off at the airport, I took a two hour nap, which I’m only successfully able to accomplish about twice a year.  I guess drinking and socializing more in the past four days than you have in the past six months will do that to you, but I also just think I’m getting older.  Ugh.  Despite being old and lame, hanging out with my college clan did me a world of good.  There’s nothing quite as right for the soul as singing along to Nancy Sinatra or Outkast  at the top of your lungs while driving and eating six flavors of frozen yogurt with your best lady friends.  The perfect way to spend my time off from school… speaking of which, summer semester starts tomorrow!

Down South

This weekend, we packed the dogs into our car and headed down to the peninsula to meet up with some SoCal friends who were in town for a concert.  They were staying at a Kimpton hotel down there with their two dogs, so we decided to join them for a night.  If you have dogs and can afford a mid-range hotel (they have good deals on the weekends because they serve mostly the business crowd) you’ve got to check the Kimpton hotels out.  There were a plenitude of details to warm the dog lover’s heart:5.24.09 001And a million other reasons to enjoy your stay, such as free scented poop bags.  This was our first time staying at a “luxury” (read: Marriott-like) dog-friendly hotel.  There were pups riding elevators and coming in and out of the automatic doors.  It felt like we were at some kind of canine convention, except for the fact that there was also a wedding going on that night, which apparently had nothing to do with dogs.

Our pups seemed to make themselves right at home:

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Nina enjoyed the hotel-provided dog bed:

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The next day, we went over to my old stomping grounds… the hills of Cupertino/Los Altos.  All four dogs went for a swim in Stevens Creek Reservoir:

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And then Ted and I drove about ten minutes to Los Altos so I could show him the house where I grew up (from 1986-1996):

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I like going down the suburbs, especially when it involves hiking, swimming dogs, and visits down memory lane.  We’re only an hour away in Oakland, but it feels like such a different world.

Pasta and Cookies

Two of my favorite foods!

Last night we had some friends over for dinner.  They are also a somewhat newly-married couple, and they are getting ready to teach English in China for a few years.  I’ve gotta say, I get a tad jealous whenever I hear about friends going to live abroad, and especially those going to Asia.  However, no awesome job opportunity, no matter how amazing the locale, could ever make me want to give my dogs away to someone else while I live in another country.  It’s sad but it’s true: I will probably never live abroad.  At least not for the time being.

I broke out our trusty Cuisinart to make some homemade pesto.  This is usually how I make it (this is enough to go with 2 lbs of dry pasta, i.e. it’s a LOT):

  • Big bunch of basil (remove the leaves from the stems)
  • Handful of spinach
  • About a cup of extra virgin olive oil (kinda gross, I know)
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan

I blend the pine nuts, garlic, salt and olive oil together, then add the green stuff and cheese.  You can pretty much blend it to any consistency you like.  When the pasta is cooked, add the pesto and about a cup of sliced grape or cherry tomatoes.  Mix well.  Serve with grated Parmesan.

I turned to the master of delicious food for some side dish and dessert inspiration: Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  I found this awesome stuffed mushroom recipe, along with these ridiculously delicious oatmeal chocolate pecan chip cookies (with orange zest).

I also made my current favorite salad: spinach with sliced strawberries, goat cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette.

I tend to make too much of everything for dinner parties, and then have a ton of very rich leftovers that I feel obligated to eat (I’m cheap and wasting food pains me on a lot of levels).  This morning the 12 or so leftover cookies sat on a plate on the counter, beckoning me.  I can’t bring myself to throw them away, and I don’t have an office I can take them to get rid of them.

So yeah, I had oily, cheesy leftover pasta with cookies for my incredibly healthy lunch today.  It was delicious. Maybe this will have to be a double workout day.

Slap Your Troubles Away

I cannot stop watching/listening to this since I saw it on dlisted this morning. Maybe it’s just because everything is funnier with autotune, but I’m gonna go ahead and call it the best remix ever.slap-chop1

Tuna Time

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Having spent a bunch of years being vegan, vegetarian, and the like, and having a mother who stopped cooking when I was in high school in favor of Thai take out (and my own lentil loafs, “macaroni and no-cheese,” etc.) I had managed to live 27 years without ever eating tuna casserole.  Yesterday, out of curiosity and a fascination with easy dinners that last for days, I decided to make it.  

I don’t love that it involves so many ingredients that come out of cans, but then again, that’s part of its charm.  We had plenty of cans of stuff lying around, because, you know, just in case.  We’ve been reading a lot of apocalyptic fiction and non-fiction around here, so let’s just say we’re prepared for any eventuality.  As long as that eventuality calls on us to subsist on canned food for a few weeks.

I don’t know why I don’t ever make casseroles (I make enchiladas, but that doesn’t really count).  This one is easy, fairly cheap, and definitely resembles comfort food, though I’m sure my version, with its crimini mushrooms, pine nuts and whole wheat pasta fails the authenticity test.  Without further ado:

  • 1 lb Whole Wheat pasta (I used rotini, I think)
  • 10 oz tuna fish, in water 
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 10-15 crimini mushrooms
  • A couple of shallots, or a small yellow onion
  • cheese to sprinkle on top (I used Colby but some kind of dry Parmesan-type cheese would be awesome)
  • a sprinle of oregano, sage, and whatever you like (fresh herbs if you’re feeling fancy)
  • olive oil
  • pine nuts (totally optional, as they kinda ruin the ‘budget’ aspect of this recipe – I had them lying around)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy)

Cook the pasta according to the instructions.  Saute the shallots and mushrooms with the herbs in few tablespoons olive oil for about ten minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the soups, tuna and milk to the saute pan and mix them together.  Drain the pasta and place in a casserole dish.  Add the mixture from the saute pan and stir it around a bit.  Sprinkle with cheese and pine nuts.  Eat for the next few days, or until you get sick of it.  If you have dogs, make it without the onion/shallot and you can feed it to your pups if you get tired of eating it.  There’s also always the freezer!

School is Cool

Today was it was about as hot as it gets in the East Bay, which is around 90 degrees. I’m spoiled by the weather the rest of the year in Oakland (I strongly believe that 75 degrees is the warmest it can get while still being civilized) and I abhor turning on the AC in my car. It’s actually a continuous source of marital strife, believe it or not.

In the midst of this sticky, three-shower day, I met up with my strategic planning group for my Information Organizations and Management class at a cute cafe in Alameda with a patio out back. This was our fourth in-person meeting, and turned out to be a nearly three-hour session to wrap up our 28-page plan and 24-slide Power Point. Luckily we are all on the same page, so to speak, when it comes to being anal retentive about formatting, so none of us minded going through both documents, page by page, aligning bullet points and making sure punctuation was consistent. This must be a common trait among future librarians, because I run across this kind of manic perfectionism a lot in my fellow classmates. We’re not snobs; we just prefer to be correct.

Now that we’ve turned in our strategic plan and I’ve presented on my research paper for another class, it’s smooth sailing for the last few weeks of the semester. I have a twelve-page final for my Info Retrieval class, but that kind of thing is just a matter of doing the reading and coming up with some thoughts about it. I have to finish my 20-page research paper, but luckily I was so freaked out about preparing for the oral presentation aspect of it that I’ve practically written the entire thing already. After that I have one more eight-page paper, and I’m done with my first semester of library school! I’m looking forward to learning some Perl this summer in my Advanced Information Tools class. We’ll see if this English major has a tech side.

I was a little pissed at first that I could only register for one class this summer (due to budget issues, they are offering very few classes). However, I realized that this will be the first summer in FOREVER that Ted and I have both had ‘off.’ After my friend Anna’s wedding in July I’ll be joining Ted in Montana for a few weeks. Hopefully we’ll get to take the dogs on a backpacking trip. Maude’s already got one of these, and she’s dying to pack it with kibble:

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At the very least, we’ll have to use it on a hike in one of the many unbelievably scenic locations minutes from my in-laws’ home. Yes, due to unemployment, this will be a ‘real’ summer for me, almost like the early teenage summers before I started working summer jobs. I plan to read, possibly get my old video camera back in commission and make some movies, and get in amazing shape. Hopefully in Montana I can trade my hand weights in for hikes, swimming, backpacking and trail running.