Thursday, June 23, 2011

Won't That Be Nice

(10 points for naming the movie)

Last night while browsing Tuesday's junk mail, I came across this little beauty.
It was on an ad for closet packages.  There was a woman reclining in her perfectly groomed, massive closet, closing her eyes, breathing deeply, and half-smiling.

I cut it right out and taped it to the side of my fridge.

Having moved six times in the last 18 months, you would think I was a pro at this unpacking-stuff.  Well, I only ever moved with about a third of what we own and we just apartment-hopped.  Now we live in a larger house.  With all our stuff.  Sometimes I think that you have to know how to swim to get around in here.

But I've been working hard.  The kitchen was first, because man cannot live on McDonald's alone.  The playroom has been haunting me most, and I've given it all of yesterday and today.  We can move around now.  No swimming required.  The kids are finding joy in toys that they haven't seen in years.

Some day I will be the woman in that ad, except a recliner won't fit in my closet.  And the perfection won't last more than 20 minutes.  But those will be some nice minutes while they last.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Name Change

I originally named this blog "A Garden of Spice" after a line from my favorite poet, Tennyson.  I thought of our family, or at least the kids, as the garden.  Maybe Nick and I are gardeners.  I'll leave that up to interpretation.

Since then, it has bothered me that I don't read much poetry, and I can't remember what that particular poem is about.  But I spend a lot of time with my sweet jazz vocalists.  So I've been on a subtle prowl to find the right jazz lyric for a new title.

I've found it.  And I think our exodus from San Francisco and our entre-dus to the northwest is a perfect time to turn this Garden of Spice into a Garden in the Rain.  I like the double meaning, too, when you think of the word garden as a verb.  Even when life is raining, keep on gardening.  "And then the sun came out again... and sent us happily on our way."
No worries, the blog will still publish at the same address,

Fathers' Day

Happy Fathers' Day to my own dad, the man who set the precedent, to Nick, the man who lives up to it, and to Paul, who taught Nick everything he knows about people and being happy.  I am so grateful for all three.

The big kids and I got up early to make a surprise breakfast for Nick.  We made Monkey Bread with butterscotch pudding mix and a new (to me) kind of an omelet.  I cooked a thin sheet of scrambled eggs on our large griddle, never flipping it, then layered on toppings (Jack cheese and sausage this time) and rolled it all up like a jelly roll.  Yum!

The rest of Fathers' Day was a yo-yo.  Church with Nick's parents.  Church with my parents.  Hanging out at Nick's parents' home.  Dinner at my parents' home.  Wrap-up the day at Nick's grandpa's house with his parents.  Whew!  At least everyone lives close.

It's nice to take some special time to think about all that Nick does for this family.  I heard a quote in church that goes something like, "It is the father's responsibility to provide the conditions for the mother to complete her role."  Without Nick's hard work, I couldn't care for the kids the way that I am free to do, and I am so grateful for that.  We love you, Daddy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Best Dinner I Ever Made. Ever.

Four months ago while in L.A., I had a most amazing salmon while sitting across a table from a most amazing friend at Cheesecake Factory.  I've been dreaming about that salmon ever since.  I wanted to recreate it, but didn't even bother while living in our little SF apartment.

Today, I bothered.

I've never seen such an exuberant reaction from my husband or my kids over dinner.  I could not keep those little plastic, Ikea plates full.  They inhaled it.  The house still smells wonderful.  Not the fishy, stale smell that sometimes lingers after salmon.  No, the house smells, as Bethelle put it, like apple pie.  No joke. But there's no sugar in the recipe.  Just a whole lotta' yummy goodness.

Here's the link to the recipe I used, but I'm going to paste the whole thing here so I can add my edits in italics.

Cheesecake Factory Herb Crusted Salmon

  •  4 (5 ounce) salmon fillets
  •  5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  •  3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 10 tablespoons butter, divided
  •  1 shallot, minced (food processor is awesome here)
  •  1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  •  5 tablespoons white wine (I used chicken broth), divided
  •  1/2 cup heavy cream
  •  1/2 cup milk
  •  1 teaspoon parsley (I used 1 tablespoon fresh parsley)
  •  1 teaspoon dried thyme (I used 1 tablespoon fresh thyme)
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • Place salmon in a shallow dish, and rub with 3 tablespoons lemon juice. Season with lemon pepper. Cover, and allow to stand 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and saute shallot 2 minutes, until tender. Mix in remaining lemon juice, vinegar, and ¼ cup wine. Simmer until reduced by at least ½. Stir in cream and milk. In a small bowl, mix parsley and thyme.  Season the salmon (not the sauce) with parsley, thyme, salt, and white pepper (I skipped the white pepper due to the earlier lemon pepper). Cook and stir sauce until thickened. Whisk in ¼ cup butter. Set aside and keep warm.
  • Heat remaining ¼ cup butter in a skillet over medium heat. Place salmon in the skillet, skin side up, and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until seared. Set salmon aside. Deglaze the skillet with remaining 1 tablespoon wine, then mix that liquid into the cream sauce in the saucepan. Return salmon to the skillet, and cook 8 minutes in the sauce (crank up the heat here and it takes a bit longer if you like it cooked through), or until easily flaked with a fork. Serve with the sauce.

    At the Cheesecake Factory, this is served with roasted asparagus (toss in oil, salt, and pepper, spread in one layer in a roasting pan, 400 degrees for about 20 minutes) and special mashed potatoes, which are both excellent with the sauce from this recipe.

    I hope you make it.  And then tell me if your family loved it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


At St. Patrick's Cathedral, a fancy little chapel in the middle of otherwise bustling, sky-rising, San Francisco.  This place is nothing if not contrast.

Love those doors.  And those kids.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lesson Learned

When Curie asks you to help her wash her hands, do it.

Because if you don't, she will do it herself, proudly.

In a sink that she can reach.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Final Move

In the last 18 months, we have moved five times.  FIVE TIMES!  That is insanity.

But here we are, in a new (to us) home.  Finally settling.  We have a little fenced yard for the kids.  We are on a dead-end street.  The neighbors are fantastic.  I have a BEDROOM (not the case in San Francisco).  We even have a surprise peak-a-boo view of Mt. Rainier from a couple windows upstairs.

I am so happy to be here.  It has been a long, eventful journey.  We have been planning for a long time in anticipation of this (relatively) last move.  A lot of questions have recently been settled, prayers answered, and dreams realized.

So, as Rapunzel and Flynn Rider could tell you, it's time for a new dream.  What to do next?  I think I'll start by changing the world.  A little.