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I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I'll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.

-Jiro Ono

True Spring Hike - Neff's Canyon

Recently, Mike and I took a day off from moving to take Odie on a true spring hike. The last time we went, snow still covered most of the trails. But now the mountains have erupted into a tangle of new growth.

It was a short hike, since our backpacks are still in boxes somewhere, but that didn't stop it from being wonderful.

All sorts of flowers are in bloom in the mountains, although it would be easy to miss them if you're looking at the sky (or watching for the dog).

Odie had a great time too, although he did give me a little scare when he ran off to play with some other dogs and we couldn't find him for five minutes.

We found some nice side trails with great spots for picnics. Next time we'll bring lunch.

Rice Crust Quiche

 I'm loving Shauna James Ahern's newest cookbook, Gluten-Free Girl Everyday. She and her husband seem to cook by the motto, "Try every recipe once as it's written. Then you can play with it." Great advice, but something I'm not that great at, truth be told.

Luckily for me, this recipe still turned out great. I've been making quiche for a while, so I've got the jist of it. But I've never made a rice crust for a quiche. It's pretty basic, and a heck of a lot easier than making pastry. If I'm honest, there are weeks where I skip the quiche altogether because I simply don't feel like going to the trouble to make the crust.

Not anymore.

I didn't make the quiche from the cookbook (or even the crust recipe as it was written), but I benefited all the same from the recipe. I'll try it exactly as written sometime. I promise.

Here, I used dirty rice that had been sitting in the fridge all week. And since there wasn't that much of it left, I only used one egg to bind it together instead of two.  I cooked up some spinach and onions, threw in some cheese, and used only about one cup of cream for the quiche filling. 

It's delicious. And easy (even if it does take a long time to cook, it's pretty light on the prep work).

Like a Weed

How often do you stop to admire weeds? 

I've been busy pulling weeds to put in a garden at our new rental house, and boy, are there a ton. Some are really awful, like the pricklies you have to pull just right or else you have stickers jabbed in your fingers.

But some, like these, are actually quite pretty. I'm not sure what they are, but I just had to snap a few pictures before I pulled them and sent them to the great dumpster in the sky.

Really, weeds are just plants that are well-adapted to their environment.

If they weren't going to suck up all the water and nutrients away from my fruits and veggies, I'd let them stay.


Books, we know,
Are a substantial world, both pure and good.
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
Our pastime and happiness will grow.

-William Wordsworth

And Again

 She's done it again - a cookbook I couldn't wait to read cover-to-cover. As soon as I got my copy of Gluten-Free Girl Everyday, I sat down and read the whole darned thing.

 For a while now, I've been doing everything I can to save time in the kitchen. It's not that I don't love cooking. I do. It's one of my favorite things to do, but a girl can only spend so much time in the kitchen until her clothes stop fitting. Plus, there are a million other things to do, like play with the dog, work in the garden, hike with Mike, knit, read...the list is endless. So I've been cooking up meal components on the weekends to make meals on the weekdays come together in a snap.

Shauna's been doing the same thing so she can spend more time with her beautiful family. Lucky me, because the result is a cookbook filled with recipes I can't wait to try - like the vegetarian chili, the rice-crust quiche, the chocolate chip cookies, and all the different rice and beans recipes.

Easy Peasy

My in-laws-to-be gave me an Earth Box for Christmas. Of course I wanted to plant it right away, but there wasn't the space in our tiny apartment, and it was way too cold outside.

I finally got around to planting it a few weeks ago with some pea starts. They've finally caught on, and are blooming. I can't wait for fresh peas from my own backyard!


Lately, I've become obsessed with watching the sky. It's been three years since I had a kitchen sink with a window over it, and I finally have one now. And the view of the sky has been lovely.

We've had scattered thunderstorms lately. It's so strange, since it often rains for only five minutes or so, then clears right up. Strange for me, at least. But the shifting clouds offer a lovely view.


The tulips have faded, both at our old apartment and our new rental house. I'm slowly working on pulling up all the weeds I inherited from our landlords and waiting on Miss Utility to mark the ground so we can till the soil. There is one little garden bed with decent soil, just waiting for something pretty. I decided on ranunculus, since they seem pretty simple - plus I love the way they look.

I'm having trouble waiting on my other plants, but I'm so glad to see a nice pop of color every time I drive around the corner.

A.S.S. Sandwich (Avocado, Salami, Spinach)

I don't eat sandwiches that often anymore. Not many lunch meats agree with my stomach. Plus, there's something sad about sandwiches you bring to work - the lettuce wilts, the cheese melts into the sandwich, and you can only have so many toppings. Plus, there's nothing worse than stale or soggy bread.

But occasionally I like to have a real sandwich with all the fixings. Mayo all around. Cooked onions on one side, cheese and salami on the other. Sprinkle on some chili powder, salt and pepper. Toast. 

Add some sliced avocado, then some spinach.

Put it all together, and then hang on tight to slice it in half.

 Enjoy in the sunshine.


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Ducks in a Row

I saw these three fellows while walking Odie the other day and just had to snap a picture. The first baby ducks are starting to hatch, but there are still many more drakes roaming the grounds than hens. The mama ducks are tucked away sitting on their nests, and heaven help anyone who gets near them.  I think of these guys as expectant dads in the waiting room of a hospital. They're really not sure what to do, but they sure are tired of waiting around.


To be satisfied with a little, is the greatest wisdom; and he that increaseth his riches, increaseth his cares, but a contented mind is a hidden treasure.


Bubbly Cowl

Mike and I recently flew to Atlanta for some wedding planning with our families...and I forgot to pack my knitting. I don't know what came over me, but as soon as I realized I'd forgotten my knitting, my fingers started twitching.

Luckily, there was a LYS not far from where we were, so I could pick up some yarn and needles to keep me occupied. The yarn was handspun cashmere, produced by single mothers in Afghanistan. At first, it seemed almost rough, but it knit up beautifully.

I made this pattern, which is simple enough to count as mindless, but with enough going on that it stays interesting.

Once it was all done, I made Mike take me to the park for a photoshoot. He really hates these sorts of things - he think's they're silly - but he's always a good sport. Just for fun, I decided to climb trees and make silly model faces while I was at it....

While I've had ample chances to wear this cowl this spring, I really made it to go into the scarf/shawl box for next year...

Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette

Mike and I went to a horrible restaurant for his birthday. We were starving and exhausted from moving all day long. We chose the restaurant because it had a gluten free menu and because we wouldn't have to go to far to get there.

We pulled up to the restaurant and saw an empty parking lot. Not a good sign. "It is Sunday," Mike said. "Most people eat in." I could hear the doubt in his voice, mingled with the hope that he was dead wrong about the place. Still, exhausted and hungry as we were, there was no going hunting for another restaurant. We slid out of the truck and trudged to the door.

The inside was better than expected. It was clean at least, but there was only one other table occupied. To her credit, the waitress knew exactly what to do when I asked for the gluten free menu.

We ordered a caprese salad to share. It came out with a great big slab of garlic toast on it. I cringed, but rather than send it back, I took a deep breath and picked up the cheese, tomatoes, olives, and onions farthest away from the bread and put them on my plate, leaving the rest for Mike. Besides the tomatoes that tasted like tomatoes in early May, the salad was pretty good. It was just the bread that had me on edge.

Mike and I both ordered pasta dishes-me from the gluten free menu and him from the regular one. My pasta was undercooked and the meat incredibly tough. Mike's pasta was fine, though he nearly gagged on the tough meatballs.

What a meal. I thought a hard day's work could make just about anything taste satisfying, but I was clearly wrong. It was awful.

And yet, this awful meal inspired a new favorite dressing. Our caprese salad came with a honey-balsamic dressing that was just the right balance of tart and sweet, and it mingled beautifully with all the ingredients in the salad.

I've been using this dressing all week, trying to recreate that salad and make it better. That means no bread, of course, and it also means no tomatoes, since fresh ones are still months away. I've also learned there's a balance between letting the cheese soak up some of the dressing and letting it sit so long it becomes leathery.

Slice up some red onions if you like. Make sure they're very thin.

Mix a tablespoon of good quality balsamic vinegar with a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the onions, if using, some olives, and a chiffonade of a couple of fresh basil leaves.

Slice a few rounds of mozzarella, then tear them into bite-size pieces. Mix lightly into the dressing, but don't let it stand too long. A few minutes is perfect.

Put some lettuce on a plate if you'd like to eat it as a traditional salad, or eat straight out of the bowl for something that tastes really decadent and delicious.

Introducing Georgiana

I've been in love with dress forms for a while. They have so much potential, not just as utilitarian objects, but also as design elements. I have been wanting one for quite some time.  Turns out, they are pretty expensive. I didn't just want one that was decorative - I wanted one that was functional too. But it seemed like it was always one or the other. So, with limited options and a small budget, I decided to make one.

I started with a cylinder of chicken wire - the circumference was the widest point (for me, the measurement around my shoulders with my arms down).

Then came the fun part - wiggling into it, having Mike shape it (he thought it was too weird for words...), and then cut me out of it. Then twisting the wire back together, and making sure all the measurements were right.

I bought a child's size coat rack at Goodwill, and removed some of the pegs. The dress form hangs off the remaining pegs by way of wire strung through the whole thing. Next came painting the base.

Then covering the form in cotton batting. I could have done a much smoother job, but here it is:

And lastly, a custom-fitted cover. I call her Georgiana, after a distant relative on my mother's side. She also got some stuffing inside the wire cage, as well as bra pads ripped out of an old bathing suit. She's a little lumpy in spots because of the chicken wire, but the measurements are right, and I can't wait to put her to use in making my sweaters!

What a Week

What a week. We moved houses, worked, and saw the beginning of May. I have to admit, I did throw a hissy fit when I saw this on the first day of May:

Snow. I'm not a fan of the stuff to begin with. I don't mind it when it's on the peaks of the mountains in the distance, but I am ready for warm weather. And the spring snows don't help much...


The man who is himself at ease can best attend to the distress of others.

     -Adam Smith