Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Everyone talks about living life to the fullest. And I think, for the most part, I try and do that. If I want to do something, I generally find a way to make it happen. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. But in the end, usually a learning experience of some sort.

I really want this summer to be an adventure. I want to learn how to sail. I want to go camping on the beach. I want to climb something. I want to do another triathlon. I want to canoe/kayak the San Juan islands. I want to backpack Mt. St. Helens. I want to book a trip. A trip to Buenas Aires over Christmas. Yesterday I spent some time looking at ticket prices, and I nearly booked the flight. One click away. I just want it out there. To look forward to and to know that its done. That I'm going. For sure.

I am feeling anxious. And completely realize that this feeling of anxiousness doesn't really help and actually, probably takes a toll on my central Chi. So, the goal of this weekend while Tyson and I hike to our super remote cabin in the mountains, is to relax and take life as it is. To live in the moment and to realize that each day is an adventure to be had. Maybe planning summer three months in advance or planning my holiday season three months after this years' holidays isn't the answer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

3rd of 20.

The Sunday afternoon volleyball league I joined in January, wrapped up last weekend with a final tournament. Though I wasn't able to actually play in the majority of the games due to breaking my ankle during one joyful Sunday game, it was still fun to be a part of the team and to watch as many games as possible. Our team had the ability to ROCK. Its just that sometimes things didn't always go as planned. We ended the season seeded 17 out of 20 teams. Yikes.

But this past Sunday, the team brought their A game. They played amazing! It was almost like finally something was on the line and everyone stepped up to the challenge. I had a hard time watching some of the points because they were so intense! Oh but so much fun.

And though we lost to a team we should've beat, shattering our First place dreams, we ended the season in 3rd place. It was great.

Here's a little clip from warm-ups. Classic, soccer Tyson.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The search is finally over. After months of looking, Lindsay was able to locate an old popcorn popper to the correct specifications for roasting coffee beans. Yesterday I roasted my very first batch of beans and it was so fun to watch them turn from green to a beautiful, rich brown.

I've been interested in roasting at home for a while, sparked mostly by a slew of friends who do it and trade beans, and roasting tips and techniques. But also, my slight coffee preoccupation has evolved into a pretty significant interest. Coffee is like my little buddy. Its delicious. Warm. It makes me feel happy. It's fun to pick-up on your way out of town heading snowboarding, camping or any scheduled adventure. I relax to it. I sip it. And I just think its the Bomb.

After reading Unbowed by Wangari Maathai, I learned a few things about coffee farming and as a result, some of the destruction that takes place within the surrounding ecosystems. We can easily sip on a cup at the expense of so much. Here's a little piece of info:

Cost: Coffee is the second most traded commodity on the world market after crude oil. With 7 billion dollars exchanged in coffee every year, some people will say and do anything to promote their product. The issue isn't only a narcissistic concern for the quality of our morning coffee, it is the way this hot commodity undermines sound ecological practice worldwide. The demand for lower quality coffees has resulted in massive coffee agribusiness, clearing huge parcels of biodiverse forest to plant coffee. The small fincas, co-ops, estates and traditional "shade-grown" coffees that we sell must compete against the ultra-productive coffee farms and their machine-picked, disease-resistant hybrid coffee products.

And as far as your pocketbook goes, why buy 2+ week-old coffee for $10/pound when you can roast your own for much less? It's as easy as making popcorn, and the green coffee from Sweet Maria's costs half the price of roasted beans. If you use the air popcorn popper method, you can usually find the appropriate type in thrift stores for $2. That's all you need to start roasting coffee at home!

So, the key is to buy from smaller, fair trade farmers and roast from home! Fresh.


  • Set up the popper in a ventilated place near a kitchen exhaust fan or window, if possible. It's nice to have strong overhead light so you can look down into the popper chamber to accurately judge the roast as it progresses. Have all your supplies within reach.
  • Put the same amount of coffee in the popper that the manufacturer recommends for popcorn. For the West Bend Poppery II, 4 oz. is the maximum, or 2/3 to 3/4 cup.
  • Put the plastic hood (including butter dish) in place, and a large bowl under the chute. We put our popper by the sink so it blows chaff right into the basin. Turn the thing on.
  • Watch for fragrant smoke and the "first crack" of the beans in about 3 minutes. Wait another minute, then start to monitor beans closely for desired roast color by lifting out butter dish and looking into popping chamber, or, better yet, by smelling the smoke and listening to the crackling.
  • Total time for a lighter roast should be around 4 minutes, full city roast around 5, and darker roasts closer to 6.5 minutes. Roasts develop quickly, so be vigilant. You want to pour the beans out of the popper when they are a tad lighter than the color you desire, since roasting continues until beans are cool.
  • Agitate beans in metal collander with a big spoon or toss between 2 collanders until they are warm to your touch. You may need oven mitts for this. You may want to walk out to a porch to aid cooling.
  • Coffee should be stored out of direct light (and not in a fridge or freezer) in an airtight glass jar, but with a fresh roast, wait 12 hours to seal the jar tightly; it needs to vent off C02.
  • Warm, fresh roasted beans are wonderful, but the coffee attains its peak 4 to 24 hours after roasting. If you store it as recommended, we'll call it fresh for 5 days. When you open that jar in the morning, you will know what fresh coffee truly is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

breaking bread

Tyson and I were graciously invited to a dinner hosted by Caitlin. Such an invitation should be coveted on account of great conversation and divine nosh. Our dinner group is a newly acquainted bunch and we all seem to chatter along with ease and belly laughs. I walked away Saturday having learned and practiced a spanking new (drinking) game. Grande couscous with roasted tomatoes and basil, grilled flatbread and a round or ten of what's charmingly called "tourettes".

We happily accepted the task of bringing dessert and then quickly realized we had not given ourselves enough time to bake and arrive at 7pm. Chocolate double-layer cake with chocolate whipped cream frosting. A few stressful moments and nearly forty minutes late, we arrived cake in-hand.

Click: Chocolate Cake Recipe

And because I like whipped cream frosting better than typical sugar frosting, use the following:
Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
Pinch of cream of tartar
Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk and cream of tartar in large bowl until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. Using electric mixer, gradually beat cream into chocolate mixture. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.

I'm telling you, you won't be sorry. The cake was incredible. And we ate if for three days afterward negating any sort of workout I may have been partaking in. Yum.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Snoqualmie Pass

Dreams came true when my physical therapist told me I was clear to go snowshoeing on Saturday. The original plan was to go to Mt. Rainier, but bad weather and less than great conditions made Snoqualmie Pass a better option.

We met up Tyson's sister, Tracy, her hubby, and some friends from their church, and off we went. Its only about a forty-five minute drive to the pass and slowly we watched the rain turn to snow until we arrived at our destination to find heaps and heaps of white powder. It always amazes me that in Seattle there is rarely any snow and you're more likely to find green grass and flowers. But if you drive just a little ways outside of the city you can find yourself in several feet of snow.

At one point we landed ourselves at the top of a long, steep hill. Tyson decided to entertain us by falling backwards down the hill landing stuck in the shape of his own form. Then I did it. Then Tracy. Only Tracy just kept going and slid backwards down the entire hill landing on her head. Then Scott. Then Eric. And then Tyson, again.

It felt incredible to be out of the city and actually using my muscles in an active way that isn't the stationary bike at the gym. After months of sitting around in my condo I just wanted to run!

Some of us had a tiny obsession with trying to blast people with snow. Whether it was throwing snowballs or yanking branches heavy with inches of snow so the unlucky person underneath was dumped on - we just couldn't help ourselves from constant battle.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Last Saturday a much-needed gals' night was in order. As much as Tyson was extremely helpful during the various outfit changes before heading out the door, he is a man. And a manly, awesome man at that. So when the endless chatter of ladies hums the night away, I feel a little piece of me come back into order. We talked Luis Vuitton and the economy. We talked about Men. Of course. I shared my not-going-to-happen-for-years-but-its-fun-to-think-about tiny dream of buying a cabin near Mt. Baker. Its true, real estate in that area is such a fantastic deal right now. And so close to the National Forest and the mountain. I can't stop looking online and talking about it. How fun would it be to collect a group of friends this very weekend and head up to a cabin?! MY cabin!

I digress.
We were less than excited about our dinner, and when the plates were cleared we decided to hit the bar for one last glass together. Fortunately for me, the gals knew the bartender. He was a wonderful hubby and father who not only passed around a photo of his newborn, but fed us glass after glass of dessert wines asking for our legitimate feedback.

Who knew that adding something called St. Germaine to something sparkly and sweet of which I don't know the name makes it nearly irresistible! Fantastic. I loved sipping things I don't usually sip and offering my opinion about them. A girly end to a girly evening.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

headed south.

Well, considering my left foot hadn't felt the inside of a real shoe in nearly six weeks, and contrary to my hopes and dreams, the doctor did not advise me to snowshoe 2.5 miles for our HUT backpacking trip last weekend. We rescheduled for late March. This left a perfectly open weekend with no plans. No agenda. No list. Thursday night we decided at the last minute to drive down to Portland and stay with our friends Lindsay and Matthew.

Hippy bars and so many microbrews. Friday night we participated in a tasting involving a contest between California, Oregon and Washington. Three IPAs, Pale Ales, Stout/Porters and then three Mysteries - one from each state. In a blind test we sampled, discussed, ate our pallete-cleansing Oyster Crackers and marked on a card One, Two or Three.

After a few hours of morning Wii, we headed to brunch around 2pm at the Tin Shed cafe. I'm quickly realizing that brunch + coffee is probably one of the top ten best things to do in life and this experience only solidified that claim. Yum.

Then we toured around town and lazily walked the streets poking into random shops.

And of course only in Portland one would you across a tricycle made safe by use of a U-lock.

Saturday night we met up with Bethie and headed out to the Kennedy Elementary School. Again in true Portland style the old elementary school was actually reused for a bar instead of being torn down. Walking in, I immediately wanted to start flirting in the hall by my locker. Several of the rooms have been turned into different pubs for different purposes including a cigar bar, an outdoor courtyard with a fireplace, a soaking pool and the gym is now a movie theater. The old boiler room has been converted into a two-story art piece of old pipes and radiators. We hit up the soaking pool and relaxed in its hot water with a cool outside breeze.