Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sometimes you win & Sometimes you learn

     2016 has been a wild ride. Last New Year's Eve I went to the best sushi dinner with my friends. Zilla was serving a sake blend to cleanse us of our demons from 2015. Little did we know that some bigger demons were waiting right around the corner. This year I have loved and learned and lost and laughed more than I could have imagined. I traveled, ate delicious food, started a job that felt like coming home, strengthened friendships & learned that sometimes the best thing to do is to let go. Amidst all of the chaos of 2016 on a personal, national, and global level, I learned that friendship is one of the most important resources. As much as I want to be strong and independent, I can't do everything on my own. That's life; it's a give and take. 
      Having friends you can text at three am because they also have insomnia, friends that know you will never turn down pizza even though it gives you a stomach ache, friends that make you laugh until it feels like your abs will split down the middle, friends who will run through the airport with you because there is no way you are missing out on New Orleans, friends you can call when you are crying too hard to be coherent, friends that are so proud of you and never let you forget how wonderful you are. "A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

     As my world started to take a turn for the better, it seemed like the whole world was falling apart. I am working to be better at standing up for what I believe in and speaking out against things that are wrong. I am pushing myself to become educated about the things that scare me and to take action however I can. I want to start volunteering for a social justice organization in 2017 and would love any suggestions. 

     If I learned anything from 2016, it is the importance of support. It might come from friends, coworkers, family, self-care, or therapy. If you are incredibly lucky, it might come from all of these. I've been working with my counselor (three cheers for mental healthcare!) on ways to manage my anxiety. Rather than letting myself get spun out of control when my anxious thoughts try to take over, I'm working to respond to them in a positive way. I deserve the love and respect I so freely give to others. When I feel my anxiety rising up, I speak to it the way I would speak to one of my kindergarteners. "Hey sweetie, I see that you are really upset. Let's start by taking a deep breath. Right now we are in the middle of something else, but I promise we will come back to this at a better time."
     I know many of us are approaching 2017 with fear and uncertainty. All that we can do is show up and bring with us all of the lessons we have learned this year and fight to make the world a better place than we found it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Roast Trip 2014

     My best friend and I took driver's ed together back in the day, and ever since then we have been talking about taking a roadtrip together.  We finally found a time when we were both free. I had just finished summer classes at WSU-V and she had a week before going on a family trip to London.  Because I was trying to finish up my school work, Rahee took on a lot of the planning (Thanks Rah!).  She used a site called Roadtrippers to plug in the places we knew we wanted to go, and then filled in the rest with camp grounds and places to see along the way.  We created a master camping packing list that I plan to use again in the future.  The day after school got out we packed up my car and hit the road!

     Our first stop was at Crater Lake, OR.  Neither of us had ever been and we were both blown away! I still don't understand how water can be that blue without artificial color or photoshop.  We stopped by the lake the next day, but there was so much smoke in the air from forest fires that the water was barely even visible.

     That first night we camped at Diamond Lake campground.  We both liked it and would like to go back in the future.  We found a great little spot by the water for an afternoon swim and then we came back after dinner to watch the sunset.

     We drove south, passing through lots of smoke, hoping that we weren't driving straight into a raging fire.  Luckily the fire fighters seemed to have it under control.  That night we made it to Palo Alto, CA to visit the wonderful Michelle :)

     We had a rather grey visit with the Golden Gate Bridge, but what else can you expect from San Francisco? We explored Valencia Street and the Mission District, getting brunch at Boogaloos, and ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery.  

     The next day we walked Michelle to work and explored the Stanford campus before getting back on the road to continue our journey south.

     We fell in love with this otter at Monterey, CA.  I was surprised that Rahee didn't try to jump in the water to swim with this little guy!

     We drove down the very narrow, very windy Highway One, stopping to take pictures.

My favorite photographer
     We would have liked to spend more time exploring Russian Gulch State Park, but because of road construction we got there much later than we had planned.  This trip could have been called Mastering the Art of Setting Up Camp in the Dark: How to hit every traffic delay in California.  Good thing I had lots of snacks, driving music, and my best friend to keep me entertained.

     We drove the Toastmobile through a tree, nbd.

     We fell in love with the redwoods and drove up and down Avenue of the Giants about a million times trying to find our campground.  We also stumbled upon the best iced mochas in the entire world. Seriously. I would drive back to California just to have another soy mocha frappuccino. 

     Eventually we made it back up the coast and spent our last night in a yurt at Billards Beach State Park before heading home so Rahee could jet off to London. 

Grandma June's Apple Dutch Baby

I am no stranger to making Dutch Babies, sometimes known as a German pancake.  As a kid I would often make popovers from Mollie Katzen's Honest Pretzels.  Eventually I grew to making them full sized.  Eggs, milk, and flour in the blender, heat butter in an oven safe skillet, pour in the batter, pop it in the oven, practice patience, serve hot with lemon juice and powdered sugar.

If I wanted an extra special apple Dutch baby I'd have to wait until I went to Grandma June's.  It was the breakfast I would always request--crisp eggy dough, soft cooked apples, cinnamon apple syrup, yum!

It wasn't until a few years ago that I tried making one myself, and as luck would have it, it was delicious! I could almost feel Grandma June there with me.

Basic Dutch Baby recipe:
*Preheat oven to 450

Pan sizeButterEggsSaltMilkFlour
2-3 quarts1/4 cup31/4 tsp3/4 cup3/4 cup
3-4 quarts1/3 cup41/4 tsp1 cup1 cup
4-4.5 quarts1/2 cup51/2 tsp1 & 1/4 cup1 & 1/4 cup
4.5-6 quarts1/2 cup61/2 tsp1 & 1/2 cup1 & 1/2 cup

Select pan size and cut butter into small pieces.  Place the pan into the oven when it has almost reached 450 degrees to melt the butter and heat the pan.  Meanwhile combine eggs, salt, milk, and flour in blender until there are no lumps and the mixture is frothy.  I find it helpful to first blend the eggs and then add the rest of the ingredients.  Remove the pan from the oven and pour the mixture into it. Return to the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.  Serve hot with your choice of toppings. My favorites include: lemon juice & powdered sugar, jam, syrup... you really can't go wrong.

Photo Credit: Rahee Nerurkar
Apple Dutch Baby:
* Preheat oven to 450
Thinly slice several tart apples and remove the seeds and core.  Peeling or not is up to you. Create a thin layer of apple slices in an oven safe pan.  Cook apples with brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon.  I never measure it out, just go with what feels right.  As the butter melts and the apples start to cook, add a bit of water.  This will help thin out the mixture to ensure that there will be enough liquid for the syrup.  Allow the apple mixture to simmer on low with a lid, while you mix up the Dutch Baby batter according to the directions above.  Remove from heat and drain out the liquid while keeping the apples in the pan.  Pour the batter over the apples and place in the oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes and serve hot with the apple cinnamon syrup.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Away We Go

I know I'm a little late posting this, but here are some of the highlights from my trip down to New Mexico:

We started out going East on 84 towards Pendleton, which I had just driven the week before going out to visit my family. Driving through the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area is beautiful,
but then it becomes very flat and boring.

The first night we stopped in Buhl, ID. It was starting to get dark and we needed to find a camp spot so we could set up before the light was gone.  My mom had read about camping at Balanced Rock and we wanted to give it a try. The directions took us farther and farther into nothingness and we were starting to get worried.  The farmland finally dropped into a rocky canyon.
It looked like scenery from Thema & Louise. 

We found the rock, but didn't feel comfortable camping out there.

Does anyone else think that these look like faces?

We drove back into town and were able to get a camp spot at Miracle Hot Springs.

On the second day we continued South through Utah.
I loved the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City and Provo. 

 Eventually we made it to the flat, flat, flat part of Utah. 

I feel like someone took this rock and keep pressing ctrl + v

We came into Moab the back way because my mom wanted me to see the beauty of the Colorado River.

I was speechless.  

As it turned out we arrived in Moab just in time for Jeep Safari Weekend. What that meant was that every single campsite was taken. We pulled into each of the seven campgrounds along this stretch of the river and there was not one open spot.  The sun was setting and we were starting to get worried.  My mom new of a few more campgrounds on the other side of town so we headed that way.  Of course those were all full too.  By this point it was completely dark.  At the last campground we saw a group site that only had one tent set up, and we asked if we could join them.  They were super friendly and FINALLY we could set up camp. Thank goodness for headlamps.

When I woke up the next morning and peeked my head out of the tent I was blown away all over again!

I couldn't understand why anyone would ever want to leave Moab, but we had to get back on the road that day. We did manage to squeeze in an AMAZING hike!
Just across from Gold Bar Campground there are a few trail heads.
My mom dubbed this one Culvert Canyon.


We had to leave beautiful Moab and continue southward. We drove through Colorado (although I didn't find it all that colorful after falling in love with the red rocks and blue sky in Utah).
And we finally made it to New Mexico! 

By the time we made it to the house it was already dark,
so we had to save our exploring for the morning. 

I will post soon about our New Mexico adventures!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Friendship: one soul, two bodies

Well it's almost that time again... My best friend's birthday! This year her birthday falls the day before her graduation; all the more reason to celebrate! I will get to see her a few days later, after she drives home from STL. She has requested the cake my roommate and I made her last year, which you can find here.  There has been talk of cupcakes this year which would be much easier to frost. We'll see what happens...
White cake with raspberry filling and lemon frosting
I've been working on her birthday present and it's turning out quite nicely! I can't say what it is because I don't want her to know, but I will say that it involved superglue and contact paper, neither of which I should be allowed to use without direct adult supervision!

Although we are closer than ever, it has been hard to spend these last four years so far apart.
Rahee- remember that no matter where the world takes us, I am never more than a phone call, skype call, facebook message, or plane flight away. <3
Lyla3m4e, Your Brave Little Toaster

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Anything goes pasta salad

Tomorrow my mom and I are leaving for New Mexico for a two week adventure! We are driving down and planning to camp along the way unless we hit any crazy cold patches in which case we will find a warm hotel room.  We're all about the road trip food.  We've got more beverages and (healthy) snacks than we could possibly eat and we've got the trusty Jetboil for making tea and hot cereal.  I was in charge of making pasta salad for tomorrow's dinner.  I had a few ideas for good flavor combinations, but as I started cooking I kind of just grabbed things at random trying to use up as many things as possible.

While the quinoa pasta was cooking, I sauteed onion and garlic with a little olive oil.  I tossed in some chopped carrots, celery, and broccoli. I let that steam for a few minutes while I drained the pasta.  I have not quite learned the difference between overdone and underdone when making gluten-free pasta, so I just hoped for the best!

After giving the pasta and veggies a few minutes to cool, I dumped them into a large mixing bowl and started adding things. Sheep's milk feta? Absolutely! Fresh lemon juice? Go for it! Chopped peperoncinis? Why not... I also added salt & pepper and Trader Joe's everyday seasoning.  The end result turned out surprisingly well.  I hoping this is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, or else we are going to end up with a bag of cold, soggy pasta salad...  Let's think postive! Road trips are all about adventure :)

It seems like a shame to go out of town when our yard is in its full spring glory, 
but New Mexico, here we come!