Monday, October 29, 2012

superstorm


Thankfully, we live on the edge of Hurricane Sandy's travel path.

Our news outlets are calling this event a Superstorm and warning us of high winds, heavy rain, and power outages.  So far we're experiencing all of the above, but with the lights still on.  The wind is blowing rain sideways, and kicking up the pile of leaves that almost every house has raked to the curb.  Most likely, we will fall asleep to the sound of howling winds and trees scraping our windows, and wake up to blinking displays on our digital clocks.

We are fine.  It's New York I'm worried about.  From what I've seen online, they are bracing themselves for a real monster.  I'm making BLTs and tomato soup for dinner, and riding out this storm with my favorite guy.  Praying for everyone else.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

breakfast


Baked apples stuffed with cinnamon walnut oatmeal.

This was my breakfast today.

If you were to guess that I'm a little obsessed with apples right now, you'd be right.  I have made more apple chips than I can count, and I'm in love with how baking them makes our house smell.  It's a warm fruity bliss that I totally and completely relish.

Angela at Oh She Glows is adorable, you need to know this.

Her blog posts are a part of my morning routine.  Her story is inspiring, and her food pictures are so pretty.  Her recipes make me want to try new things, and almost have me believing I'm vegan. Since I didn't have any dates or raisins on hand for this recipe, I used agave syrup, added a little less almond milk, and topped off my apples with brown sugar and extra maple syrup.

It's breakfast worth waiting for.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

flying solo


Sadly, we haven't seen any more activity from the Cardinal nest, since the last time I mentioned it.  The nest is still there, but the birds are gone.  Amanda has taken flight, too, and doing well on her own.  She was able to find an apartment over by the post office, less than five minutes away from us.  It's a cute one-bedroom on the top floor of an apartment complex, definitely nicer than the make-shift-garage-utility-closet-turned-living-space that was my first solo apartment.

Seriously, the ceiling pipes dripped on my bed at night.

We see Amanda at least once a week.  The separation is good, as Amanda is forced to learn how to take care of herself and manage her life as an adult (paying bills, grocery shopping, budgeting, etc.). Her health is still a struggle, but she is facing it with courage and utilizing all of her resources through the county and state.  Plus, one of my clients, Ashley (who works for the chiropractor/wellness doctor that we all see), is starting a non-profit organization using horses as therapy for individuals dealing with abuse, trauma, and disability. She asked Amanda to be one of her first volunteer clients.  I'll tell you, it was better than delivering flowers the day I got to tell her the news.  She's been walking on clouds ever since.

Amanda gets lonely on her own some times, but all of her favorite friends live close by, including the coffeeshop where she volunteers, our friend Erin who moved across the hall from her, and her pet parrot named Polly.


Some days we miss seeing her beater red car (accented with neon green duct tape and bungee cords) sitting in our driveway, the vivid dreams Amanda used to tell us on a daily basis, the bad jokes we exchanged in the evenings, Amanda's top-of-her-lungs singing while cleaning or doing yardwork, feeding her food she'd never tried before (polenta is in, avocados are out), and the guitar jams in our living room.  But, what we love more is knowing that Amanda is living out her faith in a very real way (without us holding her hand).  She is stretching through her growing pains and getting stronger every day.  Next month, we're going to her place for dinner.

Spaghetti is on the menu.

Friday, October 19, 2012

bruschetta


Not many adults I know would dress up like a cultural icon on a Sunday night, or any other day of the week.

But then, there's my friend, Melanie.  She is a wiz at creating something out of nothing, and planning a party in a snap.  She is the queen of special touches and making everyone feel welcome.  I love being on the receiving end of her creativity (and cooking).

Last Sunday, our husbands went for a late afternoon hike together with another friend of theirs.  I got a text from Melanie that morning asking if I wanted to have a date with her while the guys were out. She suggested watching Julie & Julia and cooking one of the dishes from the movie together.  Brilliant!  Three of the foods that Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams) cooks in the movie that absolutely send me are: the pan-fried bruschetta, Ghirardelli chocolate pie, and Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon.  Naturally, I chose the bruschetta (fastest turn-around time from prep to eating).  Big tomatoey goodness loaded with basil and garlic.  Mel prepared a kale salad using ingredients from her garden, while I made an oven-baked version of the famous antipasto.  We had fun rubbing each piece of bread with garlic cloves and piling them high with topping.  Paired with a pink moscato, it was the perfect meal for girls night in.



The thing that made this night complete was when Melanie answered her front door wearing a house dress, apron and pearls, and said with great Julia Child flair, "Helloooooooo!"

We have the best friends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

a cat & chorale

© photo credit: www.facebook.com/kelly.macklin.7

My husband is watching the presidential debate in the other room and I'm on the computer.  I'm just not much for politics, but I am for funny stories and meaningful experiences.

The funny moment of my day happened this afternoon when our next door neighbor called to tell me an Earl story.  Earl lives across the street and often shuffles over to tell us news about another neighbor, advise my husband on lawn maintenance or ask for help.  He does the same to our neighbors next door, except his requests to them usually involve chasing his dog, critiquing the recent paint job on their exterior or moving something.

We like to gather around Josh & Kelly's dining room table or backyard fire pit and tell Earl & Ruth stories.

So, Kelly stayed home from work today, but instead of having a few hours to catch up on things, she got a visit from Earl.. who brought her a cat.  Apparently, he found the stray on his property and decided Josh & Kelly needed to take care of it, since they have two already. Despite his wife's protests from their front lawn ("Leave the cat alone, Earl!"), he handed it over to Kelly.  The tabby didn't have a collar, but was gentle and friendly and not at all spooked by strangers.  Kelly didn't have the heart to argue with Earl, so she took the cat and fed it in her garage.  Later she showed me the feline as proof, and is now posting pleas on Facebook for a new owner.

Anyone need another mouth to feed?  It purrs.   

The meaningful experience happened this evening at Medina High School.  Medina is know for its fine arts program (you should see the size of the marching band!).  There are ten singing groups at the school, including male and female a cappella, a barbershop quartet, and a show choir.  All of them were entertaining, but my breath was taken by the traditional choral music, namely the 20 minute Son of God Mass by James Whitbourn.  It was sung by the 48-member Concert Choir with brilliant accompaniment by organ and soprano saxophone.  The piece was composed a year before the 9-11 tragedy and was performed in tribute by Living Voices the year after.  Several of the students from our church youth group performed tonight.  It was strange and wonderful to watch them at the age I was when I sang in choir.

My walk home was brisk and nostalgic.

Not bad for a Tuesday.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

neanderthal


We've been to two clambakes this month, and I'm still smiling about them.  The clams at both events were huge!

The first go around was all-you-can-eat, or rather, all-Amy-could-eat.  Each net had a dozen, I think.  I definitely ate three.. maybe four nets?  Each tasty bit was dipped in melted butter before devouring.  The clams were accompanied by another animal protein (steak or chicken), veggies, potatoes (baby reds or sweet), salad, cornbread, dinner rolls and dessert for days.

Living in the midwest definitely has its perks.

And Amy has her Amy-isms.  Before leaving the party last night, I was telling an especially spirited anecdote about how I should've been born a neanderthal.  There are plenty of girls who dream about being a Victorian lady or a royal princess.  I just love food so much and engaging in my food (both hands, open mouth, messy face) that I think an ideal era for me to be born in would be when food was one of the only concerns in life and talking wasn't a requirement.  

My parents would be so proud of me.   

Saturday, October 13, 2012

police blotter: summer haze


PORTABLE RESTROOM, MELLERT PARK: A portable restroom was tipped over sometime before 7:54 p.m. Aug. 14.  Police notified the Parks Department about the damage.

TOMATO, LAWRENCE: A male subject told a patrolling officer that someone threw a tomato at his garage door Sept. 8.  The officer patrolled the area at about 9:35 p.m., but could not locate any suspects.

DISTURBANCE, PEARL ROAD: Employees at Mr. Hero got a little more than they bargained for when a man ordered a sandwich and brought it back after he found it had cheese.  The man caused a ruckus and broke some tile, during the Aug. 20 incident.  He left the scene and officers were unable to locate the man.

SKATEBOARD, BRYMAR LANE: A resident told police that a truck was pulling people on a skateboard down the street Aug. 2.  When an officer responded to the area, the vehicle was gone.

SLING SHOT, CARDINAL: A resident told police Sept. 26 that he believed unknown individuals were using a sling shot to shoot buckeye nuts at the roof of his home.  Extra patrol was requested for the area.

UNRULY JUVENILE: A boy jumped on the trunk and roof of the family car July 23 after refusing to take the trash out.  No damage was done to the car.

ANIMAL SITUATION, PEARL ROAD: A caller told police a very large animal of some sort was eating another animal in the roadway in front of GFS at 1 a.m. Sept. 21.  The animal, which the caller said snarled at him when he walked by, turned out to be a white German Shepherd mix and was actually eating a pizza.    

COUNTERFEIT, EAST SMITH: Three counterfeit $100 bills were received at a Bingo game at a church this past week, just a week after a rash of counterfeit bills were used at fast food restaurants and other locations in Medina.  The fraudulent bills were confiscated, but no arrests have been made.  Police are encouraging businesses to study the security markings used by the U.S. Treasury Department for currency.

TAMPONS, NORTH COURT: Tampons were stuck all over the windshield of a Toyota Camry, which was parked in a North Court Street lot, Sept. 15.  The vandalism was discovered at 10:02 a.m.  No suspects were identified in the case.

CHALK DAMAGE, ABBEYVILLE: A resident told police that a Dodge Caravan was marked with sidewalk chalk Sept. 13.  The damage was found at 9:20 a.m.

ENGINE RUNNING, NOTTINGHAM: A resident complained to police that a man had been sitting in a car, running the engine behind his apartment "for hours," which kept the man from falling asleep at about 8 p.m. Sept. 28.  Officers checked the area but could not locate any suspicious, running vehicles.

ANIMAL, EAST UNION: A caller complained that animals were near Medina High School at about 3:40 p.m. Sept. 19.  An officer responded to the area, but saw only plastic coyotes that had been placed in the area to scare away geese.  The location was cleared.

BATHROBE, WEST LIBERTY: A delivered package was stolen from the front porch of a West Liberty Street home sometime before 5:53 p.m. Sept. 18.  The package contained a bathrobe from Kohl's.

SUSPICIOUS SITUATION, ACACIA DRIVE: A man was concerned after his dog took off when he let it out at 12:30 a.m. Sept. 23 and came back smelling like sulfur or gasoline.  Actually, the "dog got a direct hit from a skunk," reports said.  The man was advised on clean-up methods.

PUBLIC INDECENCY, YORKTOWN: A resident told police that a man urinated on his front lawn around 7 p.m. on Sept. 24.  Officers responded and took a report, but no arrests were reported in the case.

GROUNDHOGS, WEST SMITH: A resident spoke with police July 16 about a neighbor that was feeding groundhogs in the area.  An officer told the accuser that it was not illegal to feed groundhogs.

Welcome to Ohio.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

coconut chicken


In case I haven't mentioned it, I read cookbooks like novels.

I'm also a hoarder of loose recipes (computer print-outs, hand written recipes from friends, recipes I cut from disposable containers and collect from grocery store demos).  I have a place for my collection - tucked inside a recipe holder next to the cookbooks on my shelf.. and in a kitchen drawer underneath my potholders.. and folded in a small pile on my bedroom dresser.  

I am constantly inspired, and love taking recipes and adding my own flair to them.  I'm not the kind of cook who creates her own recipes from scratch.  I prefer to be guided by you and then making it my own.  This becomes an issue when someone asks me for a recipe because I will make them a copy or send them to a website, and then drown them in my deluge of alterations.  It's a little maddening, I realize.  So, I'm trying to be better about giving it to you straight and letting you explore for yourself.

Just don't mind me if I get a little twitchy.

So, this is a dish I make often and is one I don't need the recipe for anymore because it's that easy.  I don't always make homemade salad dressing to go with it, but it's not because the dressing in this recipe isn't delicious (it really is), it's because I get lazy.

Coconut-panko chicken tenders over salad with butternut squash soup on the side.  That was our meal tonight, adapted from this recipe. The soup was Trader Joe's, straight from the box.  I like to add seasoning to it, depending on my mood.  I've added curry powder before, but tonight I wanted sweet and spicy, so I added a pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

Happy exploring!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

the crew 2


Our drive to Columbus tonight was tailor-made.

I-71 is lined with deciduous trees that are wearing our favorite shades of the season.  I am constantly amazed at how God designed the midwestern landscape: filled with wide open spaces collecting color like an art gallery.

Hubby's soundtrack for our trip included Bonnie Raitt's Luck of the Draw album, Out of the Grey, The 77's, and Def Leppard's Greatest Hits (Vault).  We had the perfect blend of His & Hers music, peanut M&Ms, baked cinnamon apple slices, and each other.  Two hours both ways went by in a flash.

Ray Allen's employer gave him four tickets to a Columbus Crew game, so while everyone else was watching the Browns lose to the Giants, we joined Ray and his wife, Aniko, for some serious soccer action.  It was a delicious 49 degrees outside with a splash of sunshine.  The seats were incredible and only one section over from the ones Aniko and I had last time.


The Crew played Sporting Kansas City (currently ranked #1 - MLS Eastern Division).  Man, were they good.  Tall, fast, and aggressive. Our boys had a heck of a time keeping up with them and were outplayed most of the night.  Kansas City scored early on in the game.  Columbus held them there until the very last minute.  After the second half, we had five minutes of overtime left.  Columbus scored at the top of those five minutes to tie the game.  The crowd was on their feet.  There were plenty of bad calls, boisterous fans, rattling bleachers, and spirited chants led by the Nordecke.

We were pleasantly swept up in all of it.

Pink was the color of the evening, in honor of breast cancer awareness.  During halftime, the field was filled with breast cancer survivors and their families.  Every ticket holder received a pink rally towel and both of the goalies wore pink instead of their traditional uniforms.  As my mom continues to fight stage 4 breast cancer on the west coast, seeing such a poignant theme moved me. 

It was a high-energy match, worth every shiver and threat of rain.  I even wore my highschool soccer sweatshirt from sophomore year. Aniko and I had moments of wishing we were still agile and fit enough to run the field as hard as those guys did.  They make it look so exciting with their headers, chip passes, and full body slide tackles.  I'm not sure if Columbus will make it to the playoffs this year, but Seattle will be there.

It's fun having two teams to cheer for.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

spa day


Something hubby and I like to splurge on is massage, specifically couples massage.  Just as it sounds, couples massages are body kneading treatments that happen while laying in side-by-side beds in the same dimly lit room.

We have had massages outside on a sunny day and inside during a blizzard.  I've lost count of how many spas we've been to in the three states we've lived in, but each one had its own flair.  The first couples massage we ever booked was at a luxury hotel in Los Angeles.  They had us wear disposable underwear (!?) and lay face down as our therapists worked our muscles like silly putty.  Our masseuses were short, stocky, Asian women who, at one point, climbed on top of our backs and dug in to our shoulder blades with their knees (!?).

Last Monday we went to a spa in town called Q's Spa.  It's owned by a lovely woman named Q, who is petite, yet gives a hardy massage (she gave me mine).  We started our visit with a tour of the facility, then were shown to our room where we changed in to white terry cloth bathrobes and slippers.  Before the massage, we had a second room all to ourselves, with a display of grapes and strawberries, crackers, wine, and assorted chocolates.  The steam closet was only a few paces away, so we alternated between the snack table and the room set to 98 degrees with 3000 percent humidity.  Aside from dodging the hot water dripping from the ceiling, it was pleasant.  Take-your-breath-away-while-sweating-out-toxins pleasant.

Our massages were the highlight of our visit.  We each had our own therapist who did well to work out the kinks with their hands and elbows.  While they kept their feet on the ground, their use of hot stones sent me to La La Land in no time.

After every treatment like this, I am reminded of what butter must feel like slowly melting on top of a Belgian waffle dressed in vanilla cream resting on top of rainbows and cotton candy clouds.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

in memoriam

© photo credit: Melissa Antill

Angie Crocker was one of my safety people.

You know, the kind of friend you feel relieved to see when entering a room full of people you don't know or aren't feeling up to being charming around?  Angie always took me just as I was and shared my sense of humor.  She was a good one.

Stupid cancer.

Two months ago, Angie went to the doctor with severe back pain and a bladder infection.  Turned out, she had stage 4 cancer in her kidney, and apparently was one of only four cases (in the world!) of this kind. They did surgery the following week, removed the infected kidney, only to find her lymph nodes were infected, too.  The cancer spread faster than the chemo could keep up.  I was privileged to visit with her several times in the hospital and at her parents' house during those eight weeks.  Her mom was always by her side, and they both remained strong in their faith and hope for healing.  Angie talked about wanting to use her experience to minister to others, and boy did she.  Every nurse and doctor knew about her trust in God, even when she couldn't keep her eyes open (due to pain).

At her funeral this morning, three of her best friends shared stories about Angie.  They were all consistent with the Angie I got to know, too: kind-hearted, keen eye for decorating a room and dressing a table, generous spirit, loyal friend, devoted mother, and "a bit of a stinker."  One of the friends, Annie, shared that during one of her hospital visits she asked Angie what she should do with her life, "because I don't think this Panera gig is really working for me." Without missing a beat, Angie opened her eyes and said, "You need to become a donkey wrangler, Annie."

When I was in the ER with our roommate, waiting out her seizures at two in the morning, Angie would text me from her hospital room asking how we were doing.  She did the same when other friends from our church were in the hospital.  She even had her mom push her in a wheelchair to make visitations.

She was the real deal.

It was standing room only today.  A beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady.  To quote our senior pastor who officiated the service, "Just as you squeeze oranges and orange juice comes out, when you're squeezed in life, your essence comes out.  When you're tested, you're going to see what you're made of.  When Angie was squeezed, we saw love and a strength of faith."  "God will either take the sickness from the person or take the person from the sickness, but there will be healing."  "When you're tested, don't wilt.  Don't evade.  Have courage.  The only way out is through."

"Angie passed the test."

Rest in peace, sweet friend.