Wednesday, December 31, 2008

VIDEO: See you at First Night

So much fun, so much to do.

Here's a video that shows a bit about what last year was like.



My favorite discovery last year: Local band Deborah Page. Last year Deborah and her partner Paul Uhl played Sanford & Son and the Pythian Temple, this year you can catch them on the main stage (outdoors on Broadway, across from LeRoy's Jeweler) at 6 p.m. Deborah's lyrics and vocals are haunting and range from heartfelt ballad to total rockout and a bit o' fun with the children's rhyme "Mary Mack."

Here's a few clips of one of their last year's First Night performances.



Of course, that's just the beginning. There's Valentine's Performing Pigs, Motopony, Girltrouble, Steve the Good Enough, firedancers, pipe bands, ethnic bands, art, Lynn DiNino's "Hi Jack" art experience at 8 p.m. at 9th & Broadway and so much more.

Come out, come about and enjoy!

WHAT: First Night Tacoma-Pierce County
WHERE: Downtown Tacoma's Theater District (along Broadway, approx. between S. 7th & S. 11th)
WHEN: Dec. 31, 2008 (downtown fun begins at 6 p.m., museums free to button holders all day)
HOW MUCH: $10 gets you into museums all day, all the stages and more. 7 & younger are free.
MORE INFO: www.firstnighttacoma.org

Saturday, December 06, 2008

It's a Triple Threat of Poster Fabulousness: Beautiful Angle, Pearl Jam and Victory Gardens ... oh my!

If you enjoy interesting and artsy posters, this is your week! See some greats, get some goods, and enjoy an art form that seems so simple -- until you see the pros in action ....

1. Pearl Jam vs. Ames Brothers: 13 years of Tour Posters. The Tacoma Public Library kicks off this exhibition at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, at the Main Library's Handforth Gallery. The show features 82 posters designed by the Ames Bros, Barry Ament and Coby Schultz, who will be onhand to sign copies of their book, a compendium of the band's 1995-2007 gig posters by the two artists and Brad Klausen, Pearl Jam's exclusive print-designers.



2. Beautiful Angle Holiday Party & Benefit Poster Sale: Come join the fun at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, at Black Water Cafe. Tacoma's underground postermakers combine words and images as they challenge notions about Tacoma, religion, and the way we think. Get to see all the lovely letterpess in one place, sit back and listen to the music -- and if you're one of the first 50 folks to bring in a cash donation of at least $5, you'll get a commemorative Beautiful Angle poster. (Donations benefit the Layla House, an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.)



3. "Victory Garden," featuring Eleanor Roosevelt. The gals behind Anagram Press and Springtide Press team up again for a second poster, which they're half-jokingly referring to as part of their "Dead Feminists Set." This broadside poster is in honor of the recent election and the timeliness of sustainability issues, and features a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Get 'em while they're here! Only 76 were printed, and they're already half gone. The duo's first collaboration, "Come, My Conservative Friend" are already sold out.

Halloween might be a month gone, but the spirits ... they do linger

The holiday season is a bit rough this year. Last year, between July and December, I lost three grandmothers. Within less than a handful of months, my husband had lost his remaining grandparents as well. But sometimes you're not so sure how it's going to hit you. You're not sure how you're going to remember. And when you're hit with back to back sadness, you react a little different. You get a little numb. Well, at least I did. And it takes a little while to let go again.

It was a year ago Friday that the third of my grandmothers died. This one, she was also my second mom. I grew up with she and my grandfather down the hall. She was there to offer advice, a nightly hug, offer perspective, critique my writing, understand my poetry and so much more. Did I mention she was also the third grandmother to die within 6 months? I was in a bit of a daze of death by this point. Cried out. Griefed out. It still hit me ... but I kind of felt that the tears of the third were somehow less than the first. Each just as missed, me just as sad ... but simply dried out. In a daze. Or perhaps, I rather wonder, I was just unwilling to believe it was true.

But I'm making up for lost tears this last week or so ...

It started just before Thanksgiving.

I was minding my own business. Working. Working. Working. Listening to the radio online as I worked. And then it stopped.

It just stopped.

Silence.

For some folks, the internet going down might be a regular thing. But for us, it's a blessedly rare thing. But early in the afternoon, it went down. But I needed to focus, I needed some tunes to block out the background.

And so I plugged my headphones into my iPhone and clicked on the Dixie Chicks. All was swell and good until a certain song. A song about death. And grief. And missing loved ones. A song about a Silent House. A song that hits a little close. And I started to cry. Freeflow cry. And then it hit me ... Thanksgiving was later this year, and the last time I saw my grandma was just after 2007 Thanksgiving. Could it be? No. That would be too weird ... and yet it was true. It was the anniversary of the last time I saw my grandma alive. Perhaps even down to the hour. It totally snuck up on me. In a busy time of year where I can barely keep track of the days, my subconscious ... or the spirits ... wouldn't let me forget. I was a wreck the rest of the day. Good thing I didn't have any meetings ...

I managed through Thursday, the actually anniversary of her death. I was a bit nostalgic. A bit sad. But not a crying wreck. But then there was Friday ... I took Dec. 5 off. The kids had the day off school. The husband was out of town for training. The friend needed help with making her fundraiser chocolates. It was a good day to take a break. It wasn't until I was mid-light-crying in between chocolate batches, as I shared the pre-Thanksgiving tale, that I was reminded by a dear friend that, oddly, it was exactly a year ago that I was in her kitchen ... also making chocolates. And also crying. After this grandma's death last year, I took a day off to get it together. Quite dazed, I was in no shape for work. But didn't want to be left with my mind's thoughts uninterrupted, either, and so last year I was a last-minute volunteer. And this year, apparently I was back for a coincidental anniversary encore.

At least I was in a house where eerie grandmother moments were not foreign ...

I feel like the spirits decided to stay and play after this year's All Souls Day.

Friday, December 05, 2008

VIDEOS: Viral marketing took me to a crazy-awesome place

This week I was introduced to the fantabulous singer aka self-described "girl from another plant" Janelle Monae ... thanks to a cameo-heavy GAP Christmas music-video marketing campaign that appeared on my Facebook page.

Amid a conversation with friends about the celebs we could and couldn't name, a female singer I did not know at all made me WANT to know who she was. The few bits that she was featured in made me think: That is an amazing singer. With crazy hair. Amazing crazy hair. And a crazy amazing voice.

Here's the video that caught my attention.



I went to the GAP.com/merrymixit site to see if there was more, and there was. Including one featuring this intriguing singer ... with an interpretive dance by Napoleon Dynamite star John Heder.

Click here to see this video. (I had it embedded, but then both the GAP videos would play at once ... figured I'd spare ya'all. But it's really good ... so I recommend clicking.)

Yup. She was still good in long form. And now I had a name. And so I further explored and found one of her music videos, which further shocked the hell out of me. I was NOT expecting a very theatric, sci-fi, surrealist, retro, funk/ska-like piece of wow.



Yet again: Damn that girl's got chops.

I will be following the evolution of the Wondaland Arts Society, fo' sho.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tis the season of sweaters and scarves -- and grilled cheese

Grilled cheese is great for when you're in the "curl up with good book and cocoa" mood, or even for when there are 10 children running around the house and you just want to throw down a big tray of sandwiches in front of them and say "Eat!" In our house, the magic of the gooey deliciousness is in the cheese. I grew up on Tillamook cheddar, and no other cheddar will do. The bread may vary, but the cheese is a given. Pair it with some Campell's tomato soup (adding water, not milk) ... and all the generations are happy and smiling.

But I'm no snob. I'm a grilled cheese fan! Wait, grilled cheese connoisieur! And I'm happy to report that Tacoma is a great place to love grilled cheese. I have three go-to places right now for when I'm not at home and craving cheese, and can't wait to find more.

Capers Downtown, 701 Pacific Ave.
This three-cheese grilled goodness is toasted to perfectly browned perfection. The cheesey magic does not get lost or overly dominate from its place between not-too-thick-not-too-thin slices of rustic bread, the perfect amount of toastedness, and a subtle smothering of some sort of herbed buttery yumminess that has me dreamily licking my lips for hours after lunch. It's a grilled cheese that comes closest to my own but with that "I don't regret paying someone money for this" flair. The sandwich can come with Capers' oh-so-cozy tomato basil soup, one of their several tasty side salads, or a smattering of other sides. I'm rather partial to the side Caesar salad. A light layer of dressing that gives the lettuce enough zing to make it interesting, but doesn't overwhelm you with thoughts of "and how many calories are in this?" A few slivers of a hard sharp cheese (I assume Parmaesan?) throughout the salad always make me smile, and I can never leave even one of their croutons on the plate. Capers has subtle fabulousness down to a T!!!

Paddy Coynes, 815 Pacific Ave.
The Ultimate Cheese Sandwich here is definitely worthy, and in an atmosphere that definitely facilitates the gift of gab without having to kiss a gross Blarney stone. (If you don't know why it's gross, you'll have to ask ... I'm not mucking up a post about grilled cheese with that gory detail.) The Ultimate Grilled Cheese is like none other I've encountered in T-town. I'm guessing it contains some sort of Irish cheddar ... it's sharper, cheddary-ier, and comes topped with bacon and tomato. Yum. The bacon was a new concept for me, but the tomato in the grilled cheese was a scrumptious trick I learned while living in Cork, Ireland, for a few months. Though I did learn it from an American. But hey! You like tomato soup with your grilled cheese? Then why not just stick a tomato in the sandwich to start with? Awesome. The sandwich also comes with Paddy Coynes' signature shoestring fries. And while they're great fries, the cumulative amount of salt between the cheese, bacon and then the fries usually has me leaving most of the thinly sliced potatoes on the plate. It might be worth the extra buck or two or whatnot to sub a salad -- or maybe I'll just ask for no fries next time.

Over the Moon Cafe, 709 Opera Alley (Court C)
This gooey goodness (appropriately named "Not your ordinary grilled cheese sandwich") was my first foray into downtown T-Town grilled cheese splendidness. They're pretty proud of this cheesy baby at Over the Moon. It is a French recipe, a "Croutes de Fromage" "from the mountains of Bura, France, and includes thick slices of freshly baked sourdough bread and Gruyere cheese and mellow and moist Swiss cheese that has been soaked in a sweet white wine sauce before grilling," according to the Volcano's 2007 grilled cheese review. While tradition would have me pairing this baby with their tomato basil, I actually prefer their crab bisque. It's not always on the menu, but if it is -- and you can handle both dairy and seafood -- the very not ordinary grilled cheese with crab bisque will easily make your comfort food list. Add the cozy, friendly conversation space and the little London-like alley for ambiance ... and Over the Moon is the perfect place to find a little slice of gooey gladness even in the dark of a drizzly winter.

Where else? In Tacoma or out ... where does one find grilled cheesey greatness!?!?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Barefoot in the kitchen, part VII: Grandma Vina's Chili

Made chili the other night. Oddly, while the children ofter rebel and protest "mixed up food," chili is one that has passed the test. This is a family recipe from my husband's side of the family. And the kids know it. When they asked "what's for dinner?" and I said "chili" ... the immediate next question was whether it was Grandma VINA's chili. When they were eating it, they wondered if this was how Grandma VINA ate it. Is this how Grandma VINA made it? Lordy children, yes. Or at least I will tell you this. I only minimally doctored the recipe. It was a double-batch, so I used some of my garden-fresh (yet frozen by me) homemade tomato sauce in replacement of half the canned tomato goods ... but they don't need to know that. They ate it. They loved it. The Boy asked for more. Yay for them willingly eating something other than ramen or macaroni and cheese. Boo for the fact that tomato products give me heart burn. Oh well, this stuff is yummy and worth it. :)

Grandma Vina's Chili
(pretty much add "more or less" to every ingredient on this list ... you can also add more and different beans and leave out the meat altogether if you're so inclined)

1 medium-sized onion
1-1/2 pounds of ground round steak or hamburger
1 (10-3/4 oz) can tomato soup
1 (15-16 oz) can of kidney beans (liquid and all)
1 (15 to 16 oz) can whole tomatoes
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (t0 taste)
1/8 tsp. pepper (t0 taste)
1 tbsp. chile powder (to taste, approx. 1 tbsp. chile powder to 1 lb. meat)

Chop the onion, and brown with the ground beef. Drain off any liquid. Combine meat and onions with tomato soup, kidney beans and whole tomatoes. Mix well, then add sugar and spices, to taste. Simmer for several hours on stove. Serve with crackers and/or cheese. (Freezes well.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Afternoon TV just ain't what it used to be ... (a sign of hope for newspapers)

This blog post is not about people watching less television and reading more newspapers. I'm not THAT naive. Instead, it's about my revelation today that the current mainstream media vs. the Internet paradigm shift seems to have shades of the network vs. cable battles from approximately two decades ago.

I seem to (vaguely) recall the doom and gloom claim among the networks when cable started to grab hold. I remember celebrating when our rural home was finally plugged in. I remember switching over from network mainstays to Nickelodeon and Disney distractions.

And perhaps this kind of behavior IS to blame for the fact that this week's network television schedule is not riddled with the types of programming that beckoned me off the bus during my childhood afterschool hours. Things like: The Smurfs (it's their 50th anniversary this year!), Gummi Bears, Scooby Doo, Thundercats, Animaniacs, Small Wonder (not a cartoon, but close!), Ducktales, Heathcliff, My Little Pony, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Talespin, Inspector Gadget, She-Ra, He-Man, Jem, Voltron, Muppet Babies, Transformers, Darkwing Duck and others. (I even remember someone I knew in high school had a Darkwing Duck TATTOO -- wonder if that's still there ...)

A peek at this coming week's afternoon television on the major networks includes soap operas, the news, talk shows and sit-com re-runs. The closest thing to a cartoon is King of the Hill and The Simpsons at 5 on Fox. Oh, and some Cosby Show re-runs. Seriously. Instead of Brainy Smurf and Strawberry Shortcake, we get Dr. Phil and Tyra.

The public television stations still have their good thing going, but definitely cater to the younger child with items like Arthur, Reading Rainbow and Curious George.

Afternoon programming for kids is still out there, it's just that cable has taken over all facets of afternoon television for the younger set with fare like The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, SpongeBob Square Pants, Total Drama Island, Chowder, etc. They're not that bad. If I were a kid nowadays, it would likely be this set of shows that I talked about on the bus with friends about who got home in time to see what, who got to watch what, which were your favorites, which show's paraphernalia toys did you get for your birthday, etc. So it's there -- you just have to have cable.

Nowadays, it's the doom and gloom among traditional media that the Internet is killing them. I remember when we finally got fed up with dial-up and got a high speed connection. And I know that I've started to read more newspapers online, and watch more TV online, and stream my radio online.

And it's true: The explosion of the Internet is hurting mainstream media, it's pretty obvious right now as more and more newspapers are putting significant percentages of their staffs on the chopping block. But is it the death of mainstream media? I think not.

We are in transition. (And ask any mom who's gone through labor au natural: Transition sucks.) We are still wondering what content is best played where, when, how and by whom? Good question. If we knew the answer, we wouldn't have the questions.

We'll have to wait and see while everything sorts itself out. But traditional media will not die; it will evolve. (Perhaps heavily relying on the very medium that wounded it so very deeply.)

I dare say that when we look back 20 years from now, there will still be television ... there will still be radio ... there will still be print media.

But we will have reason to be nostalgic.

It won't be the same.

And nothing ever is.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Barefoot in the kitchen, part VI: Clam chowder

Wandered into the Proctor Farmers Market this last Saturday (still going until November 22) and tripped across my favorite weekend sustainable seafood purveyer: QuilBay Seafoods. Fresh oysters! And this week: clams! Never dealt with clams. But the woman standing next to me mentioned making clam chowder, which sounded good. Sold!

But mind you: I've never made shellfish before. It didn't quite occur to me that the clams might be ... um ... alive. Not until I had them in the strainer and was rinsing them off. And they were moving. And opening. And closing. Ewww! (And I totally realize how ridiculous this is. Once upon a time pioneers raised their own meat, killed their own meat, cooked it and ate it -- sans problemo. But let's just say I came really close to becoming a vegetarian this weekend.)

I survived, however. And despite my paranoia that I must have cooked it wrong and poisoned it, my husband and son both had multiple bowl fulls and LOVED it. Yay! (My girls? Nope. Wouldn't touch it. Thanks, kids. Thanks a lot.)

Anyhow, the recipe ... inspired by the one the seafood folks gave me, but I embellished. You heard me ... my FIRST TIME making chowder and I EMBELLISHED. This whole temporary husband-not-being-around-to-cook-dinner thing might be turning into a good thing. For him. (I'm learning I can make something beyond casseroles, spaghetti and sandwiches ... and baked goods ...)

TC's Homemade Clam Chowder

18 large littleneck clams, scrubbed (or, for me, a bag o' teeny tiny Manila clams that were already clean)
3 slices of bacon, chopped (ok, I used 5)
1 medium onion, chopped (shhh ... I put in 2)
(I also put in a leek that was in the fridge)
1 tbsp. all purpose flour (heaping)
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper (or whatever I happened to grind out of the grinder)
1 pound all-purpose potatoes, pelled and chopped (about 5 or 6)
(I also added a bunch of rainbow carrots -- 6 to 8, washed and chopped)
2 cups half-and-half (I added a bit more)
1 cup of milk
3/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
(I also added a bunch of Chardonnay ... that totally made it better)

Directions:
In a 5- to 6-quart saucepot, heat water to boiling over high heat. Add clams, heat to boiling. Reduce heat slightly; cover and simmer until clams open, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer clams to a bowl as they open. Discad andy clams that have not opened. ... When cool enough to handle, remove clams from their shells and coarsely chop. Discard shells. strain clam broth through sieve lined with paper towels into measuring cup; if necessary add eough water to equal 2 cups. ... In same clean saucepot, cook bacon over medium heat until lightly browned. With slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towels. Add onion (and leek) to drippings in pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and pepper until blended; cook 1 minute. Gradually stir in clam brother until smooth. Add potatoes (and carrots); heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until potatoes (and carrots) are tender, about 15 minutes. ... Stir in half-and-half, milk, and chopped clams; heat through (do not boil). Stir in bacon. Tste for seasoning; add salt as needed. Add chardonnay as needed. Makes about 6 cups. (A bit more with my additions.)

Barefoot in the kitchen, part V: Veggie Pasta Toss

My weekly box of organic produce from Tacoma's Terra Organics "Pacific Northwest box" arrived this last week with the most wonderful of recipes -- "Sweet Pepper Pasta Toss with Kale." So good for you. So, so yummy. So, so, so, simple. And such an easy way to use one of my big bunches of nutrition-packed dark greens.

Sweet Pepper Pasta Toss with Kale

1 8 oz. package of bow tie pasta (I used sea shell pasta -- what a rebel am I)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 red bell peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped (or more)
1 pinch dried basil (I used several leaves of fresh basil)
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (I did skip this one)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (I probably used more)
Kalamata or black olives

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in red pepper (and/or yellow pepper), kale and garlic. Season with basil, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender. In a large bowl, toss cooked pasta with skillet mixture. Mix in olives, if desired. Sprinkle with feta cheese to serve.

* Could also add Italian sausage or grilled chicken to make this dish a little heartier.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Barefoot in the kitchen, part IV: Tequila salsa

Yet again, it's a tale of me using up my many harvested tomatoes, my backyard jalapeno plant and my weekly treasure trove of veggie-delivery-goodness from Terra Organics. This week it's my own version of Tomatillo Salsa Verde.

So, I seriously thought that after more than five years of produce home delivery that I'd seen it all. I'd learned how to use eggplant, bok choy, fresh ginger, chard, blood tomatoes, fava beans, squashes of many makes and models, fresh beets and leeks, and so much more. But then this week's delivery appeared on my doorstep: tomatillos. What the heck? Apparently the kids and the babysitter had played "guess what this is" with this piece of produce. A small, green, round goodie encapsulated in a leaf-like shell that leaves a slightly sticky residue upon the fruit. What the heck? They did trial and error ... and guessed that it must be a plum of sorts. But nope: A tomatillo, the Mexican cousin of the tomato. And oh so made for salsa. And so it began ...

We decided to make fajitas for dinner ... using some steak and eggplant for the "meat" of the fajita, and a corn and black bean mix, the kids grated the cheese, a bit o' sour cream, and some "experimental" salsa by yours truly. As mentioned in the headline to this post, it's "Tequila salsa" ... because I did not have any limes or lemons, or lime or lemon juice, I had to ponder: what liquid should I add? It's salsa. Mexican in nature. So what the heck: I substituted tequila. That and a few other subsitutes and adjustments in this recipe based on a few internet finds for "tomatillo salsa verde" and I bring you my very own, and very yummy, recipe for Tequila salsa verde ... which I consider very sentimental seeing as tequila was basically the first alcohol I ever tasted, in Mexico no less. Here you go ...

TC's Tequila Salsa (chunky - if you prefer otherwise, blend the sucker)
And as is my mantra, the exact quantities are up to you or what's in your cupboard. Chop it up, mix it up, and you should be good ...

3-6 tomatillos, roasted (remove husks, cut in half, stick under the broiler for 5-10 minutes -- untill skin is slightly blackened)
2-3 roasted tomatoes (can be green or less than ripe ... see above for roasting instructions)
1/2 a chopped-up small to medium onion, preferrably red
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 splashes of tequila
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of sugar
salt to taste

Chop onions and cilantro. Add sugar, tequila and salt; stir. Add freshly roasted tomatillos and tomatoes, squish with a potato masher until desired texuture is achieved. (Or put through food processor.) Enjoy with chips, or use wth burritos or fajitas. Yummers!

* This might be an appetizer for the over-21 crowd only ...
1 jalepano pepper

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Barefoot in the kitchen, part III: Lovely lasagna

So, once you have a bunch of spaghetti sauce, what do you do with it? In my world, you make lasagna. Perhaps one of the most perfect foods as it includes my favorite ingredient: cheese. And then there's the fact that you can make it in advance, freeze or refrigerate it, and it only tastes yummier when you finally take it out and cook it. And it can easily be vegetarian or meatatarian. I'm a big fan of preparing food beforehand and then getting to relax and socialize while an amazing meal bakes to perfection in the oven.

And then there's the sappy quotient: It's a food my now-hubby taught me how to make once upon a time, a long time ago. Fourteen years ago, he was a much more adventurous chef than I. I could rule the kitchen when it came to making, and had a few "other" dishes, but lasagna was one of those things I considered "too complicated." No longer.

Today's inspiration for lasagna? Perhaps it's an unconscious nod to hubby's and my first date 14 years ago, to the Pacific Lutheran University Homecoming. Today? We're playing hooky from our 10-year homecoming festivities (there isn't much actually going on for the reunion specifically, so I don't feel bad) and going up to Seattle to see Weezer perform live. The kids are jealous. They sing Weezer songs day and night, and so I made them pork and beans for breakfast. Only Baby Girl was excited, but by lunch they'd woken up enough to appreciate the humor.

Back to the food ... so, really, there was beef that needed to be cooked in the refrigerator, and I finally harvested my six tomato plants the other day and had sauce coming out of my ears. This version was a little different than the last couple batches ... no bacon in this round, and no added nutrition in the form of blended up chard and carrots.

This week's base sauce ... consists of about nine different kinds of tomatoes (from my six plants, plus the tomatoes that came in my weekly Terra Organics produce order), a green peppers, onions, a jalepeno, some red wine and olive oil, a bit of salt, a ton of garlic, all cooked for about two hours until it got a more sauce-like consistency. It was fun watching my rainbow of yellow, green, orange and many different reds tomatoes cook down into a deep red sauce. I didn't use fresh herbs this time around because it was dark out, and I just wanted to cook the darn tomatoes.

Plus I figured making some food in advance for this week might be a good idea. Especially food that has my Basement Brother and Hubby drooling for more. The kids still look at it suspiciously (they don't like their food touching food -- so lasagna still elicits skepticism), but we'll try again ...

Anyhow, enough chit-chat, here's my recipe for this week's lasagna ...

TC's Easy Lasagna (2 batches)
based off of Ronzoni's Healthy Harvest Easy Lasagna recipe

2 lb. ground beef
2 tbsp. Yaya (or Johnny's) seasoning
1 tsp. oregano
3-4 cups of homemade tomato sauce (or 1 26 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce)
1 (28 oz.) can of stewed, peeled whole tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans of tomato sauce
1 large container (32 oz.) of ricotta cheese (or small curd cottage cheese)
4 cups (16 oz.) o shredded mozzarella (or other favorite cheese)
4 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
18 pieces (generally one package) of lasagna noodles, uncooked

In a large cast-iron pot, brown the meat. Sprinkle seasoning on it while it cooks. Drain the grease. Add spaghetti sauce, whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and oregano (or any spices you like), simmer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, one-half of the mozzarella cheese, eggs, salt and pepper. Pour about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of each of two 13x9-inch baking dishes. Arrange 3 UNCOOKED pasta pieces lengthwise over the sauce in each dish; cover with 1 cup of sauce. Spread one-fourth of the cheese filling over the sauce in the first dish, then spread one-fourt of the cheese filling over the sauce in the second dish. Repeat layers of lasagna, sauce and cheese filling. Then top with a layer of lasagna and remaining sauce; sprinking remaining mozzarella cheese over the top of the pans of lasagna. Cover with foil.

Now's your choice ... you can refrigerate, freeze, or stick one or both in the oven for 45 minutes (with foil on) in a preheated 350 degree oven, then remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let satnd 10 minutes before cutting. Each pan makes about 12 servings.

NOTE: If you freeze it, remember to give it time to thaw, and you might need to cook it a little extra. Luckily with lasanga, you can generally over cook and it should be fine.

Enjoy!

Barefoot in the kitchen, part II: Bacon chocolate

Just several months ago, I'd never heard of bacon as anything but a part of breakfast or as the proverbial icing on the cake for a sandwich or burger. But then came the bacon bonanza.

Some gal pals got together for some girl time, and the boys went bacon crazy. Someone even brought little smokies wrapped in bacon. Then, at future events and gatherings came jalepeƱo and cream cheese poppers -- wrapped in bacon and BBQ'd on the grill. There was bacon guacamole. Brown-sugared bacon. Many salads with bacon in it.

And then came the talk of bacon candy.

A girlfriend who makes lusti-licious truffles once or twice a year as an adoption fundraiser was talking about flavors, and the menfolk began to bring up bacon. "Bacon truffles!" they declared. Again and again and again. And again and again and again. And again and again.

You get the picture.

So I decided to start experimenting. Husband found a Peanut Butter Bacon Chocolate Truffle recipe awhile back thanks to NPR's Splendid Table show. And I located a super-easy Chocolate Bacon Bark recipe. The results? Happy hubby. Happy children. And many other happy people.

And while I enjoyed the results as well, I'm quite content that it's not MY obsession goodie. This is something I can make, taste, and set aside ... to others' delight.

TC's version of Bacon Chocolate Bark
-- 1 bag chocolate chips of choice (semi-sweet is basic, I used 60% cacao last night -- yum!)
-- 7 strips of bacon, cooked crispy and chopped to bits (Some say the thicker, meatier strips are better -- but if you use thinner ones, just toss in a couple extra strips. Or heck, toss in extra just for fun.)

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, 1 minute at a time (stirring in between) until melted. Stir half the bacon in, then pour mixture onto a cookie sheet covered in foil and spread to desired thickness. Next, sprinkle remaining "bacon bits" on top, and refrigerate. Enjoy!

Monday, September 29, 2008

100 = $1

So, during The Boy's first couple weeks of school he apparently is the only one in his kindergarten class who can count to 100 by 1's and 5's and count to 20 by 2's. So he won the teacher's bet and got a dollar. He's very proud. As he should be. And so should Big Sis, who's a great teacher ...

Just as cute is the Best Buddy, who told his mom the tale, and was earnestly happy for his best friend. Instead of being jealous that his best friend got a $1 and he didn't, he told his mom (who queried how that made him feel) that he was actually quite happy for The Boy -- because he's his best friend.

Very sweet.

If only life continued to be so simple.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Barefoot (and not pregnant) in the kitchen, part 1: Homemade spaghetti sauce

I had a bonus day at home today since Diva Daughter was not feeling well and needed to stay home from school. So I watered the garden (it was pretty dry since I was gone the week it actually got hot), straightened up a bit, and then decided to partake in some kitchen chemistry.

Since I'd been gone for a week, several of my tomatoes had ripened, and I was on the verge of being overtaken by ripe tomatoes. I've been giving them away like crazy, but between the vines and my weekly box from Terra Organics, my cup had runneth over. But before he left in the morning, the hubby made a good suggestion: We can always make tomato sauce.

Why yes, yes we can. And yes I did. I'd never made tomato sauce from scratch. I've made my own spaghetti sauce, but from canned tomatoes. Never actually started with tomatoes. But today I did, and it was yummy scrumptious. Even the Boy enjoyed it. Here's the approximate recipe:

TC's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce -- with BACON
Approx. 3 quarts of diced tomatoes, several varieties Several leaves of fresh basil, chopped A couple branches of fresh rosemary A couple branches of fresh oregano Red wine, approx. 1/2 cup Several cloves of garlic, chopped 1 onion, chopped A couple pinches of kosher salt 1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped

I know, I know ... real exact. But, basically, put all the tomatoes in a large pan on the stove and cook over medium heat at a low boil for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. As it simmers, add in the above ingredients as they're ready. It ends up to be a lovely and chunky and very, very fresh (esp. if you have the herbs in your garden) tomato sauce. Serve over your favorite noodles. Smile a lot more.*

*To some, cooking is an art or a means to feed. To me, cooking is one of the best kinds of therapy.

Chickens, geckos and sharks ... oh my!

One of my favorite things about traveling is checking out the different wildlife. Heck, even traveling between Western Washington and Eastern Washington you'll find some big differences.

The first Kauai wildlife we spotted were some little redheaded birds that are called Brazilian cardinals. They were everywhere on the island.



Then there were the geckos, which are apparently nocturnal. When we'd turn the lights on outside, we'd see them crawling around the deck. Little brother's reaction: They're so cu-ute.



Kauai is known for its infestation of chickens. They were EVERYWHERE. In the mornings I'd stand outside and watch the sun rise while listening to the chickens. Then there are the moments they go all Jurassic Park on you ... but that's a tale for a later post.



This cutie-pie toad was hopping around the front yard of the house we were staying in. My brother kissed it -- and two days later he married a princess! Must've worked. (Kidding.)



The following isn't my picture, but we did see turtles floating in the surf behind my brother and his now-wife as they were married. Can't wait to return and spend more time and actually see some turtles on the beach!



I didn't see it, but some of the others were on a walk along the beach to the fishing dock in Waimea and encountered a fisherman with a hammerhead shark he'd caught, now dead and laying on the dock. Apparently the ocean that we enjoyed watching the sun set over each night is teeming with hammerhead sharks. So if the rough surf on the west side didn't keep us out of the water (heard a tale from a woman about how years ago she was standing in the surf with her 3-year-old and a wave ripped him out of her hands, and luckily the next wave returned him) -- well, even if the waves were safer, and the shore not so steep ... the hammerhead sharks would definitely keep me to the beach.

I also didn't see any wild boars. But as we drove up the Waimea Canyon, we did see many locals wandering about dressed in camouflage and carrying their bows. We tried to ponder what they could be hunting, and I completely forgot about the wild boars ... until someone brought it up later. I had wondered why they were that dressed up if they were hunting birds ...

For better or for worse ...

Betcha think this is a post about marriage. Nope. This is a post about surprise upgrades ... for better or for worse.

The first upgrade of our trip was getting transported to the airport via town car rather than a shuttle van. Very awesome. Especially when I didn't realize the Airborne tablet I popped into my mouth wasn't meant to be chewable. (Think Alkaseltzer-like fizzing in your mouth -- and no place to spit it.) The town car had water bottles and snacks! Thank heavens ... because for a bit there I thought the fizzing would never end ... Of course, on the way home we did get the van. The fullest shuttle van I've ever been in. Every seat, even the front seat, had a person in it. And we were the last stop.

But the best, and in the end the most painful, of my for better or for worse upgrades, would be our vehicle for the week. I'd pondered splurging on a convertible or a Jeep, but my neighbor (he's from Hawaii) just laughed at me and let me know that I'd want a top on my car. I'd want my AC working strong, and fast. And so we decided to spend our dollars in other ways, and reserved a compact car. But upon arrival, lordy, lordy: they were out of compacts. (At least they weren't out of cars, like apparently some other rental companies were having to deal with.) So the apologetic woman behind the desk pointed to the car lot and asked us if the white Jeep Wrangler to the left would be OK. Same price as the compact, and she'd toss in a $25 gas credit since it wasn't as fuel efficient. Hmmm ... sure. And while the first day or two it rained too much to take the top off, we decided during our trip up and down the Wimea Canyon that it might be nice for my cousin to be able to get a better view, so we wrassled the top down. And all was well ...



... until we ended up, after making it down the canyon, driving a little too far during the hot part of the day. An extra few minutes turned into an hour or so in the baking sun. And my attempt to get a little color on my arms ... well, let's just say my arms ended up quite neopolitan. I had my chocolate, my strawberry and my remaining vanilla. There is a photo of this, but I don't plan on sharing. But if you don't get the concept, here's a reference point:



Ouch. The strawberry still hurts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Simple pleasures

Got to drop the kids off at school today.

Doesn't sound like much, I know. And back in the day when I had to do it every day, it was a chore. But now that I have to be at work before they have to be at school, it's the rare, rare day when I get to say "Come on kids, time to go! Time to go to school!" And it's a moment I now cherish and appreciate when I get the chance.

I miss the happy farewells, and even the clingy ones. I miss arriving to pick them up and scanning the playfield to see what they're up to when mommy and daddy aren't watching. I miss the hugs, and even the "I'm hungry" declarations. But today I get to relive the adventure. And tomorrow I'll miss it -- but I'll seek solace in the fact that I could be missing so much more, and really I am lucky.

But today ... today I high-fived the Baby Girl off to preschool and helped her put on her slippers and put away her coat, met her adoring teacher, and then headed off to deliver the eldest two in plenty of time before the bell. We waved at the crossing guard and I got big hugs (ouch! darn sunburn) and watched them each run off to their separate playgrounds. Got to spy on who they were chit-chatting with. I look forward to picking them up and getting hugs (and even looking forward to the ouches), helping them with their homework and then doing some evening family time baking. And I look forward to my next opportunity. But in the meantime ...

It's good to be home.

Overdue: Showcase Tacoma chalkwork

Once upon a time, there was this thing called Showcase Tacoma where newcomers and chalking fanatics alike got together amid the fun to lay down some color on the gray streetscape. Let me start out with the hands down best piece in the place ...

by unknown fabulous chalker


I don't know who he was, but this guy knew what he was doing. He had gloves and sponges for spreading. He laid down that color thick, and he had The Boy entranced. We could have stood there for hours watching. Even in the rain. Yes, sadly, the day the Frost Park Chalkers & Friends came over to the Tollefson Plaza to participate in Showcase Tacoma -- it rained. Not the best for chalking, but some impressive pieces came out nonetheless. Though not all my pictures turned out -- sigh. But here's a few!

by The Boy (who delighted in showing off his piece to the above fabulous chalker -- especially since they both use similar strategies of randomness and deep color)


By Adam The Alien (duh)


Diva Daughter in action (note she bravely uses her hands to make special chalk-effects)


Diva Daughter's final solo piece


Mostly this is the boy's picture again, but it caught pieces of some of the other fun that my camera did not apparently capture -- including the Mt. Fuji on the left, and KF's amoeba toward the top.


By Joel413 (guess where he works)


And in honor of the rain, Team Chickadee decided to have fun and sketch out this ray of sunshine ...


For more chalking fun, check out Frost Park Friday action from 12-1 every Friday. Click here for this week's details!

The whole reason we were in Hawaii ...

... was to celebrate the marriage of my brother to the love of his life.

So while I plan to share other photos and tales both funny and fun (thank Zesty for the inspiration), I begin with the main point of this recent too-short adventure: The Happy Couple.



We have many more sappy pictures, but I enjoy the mischief and playfulness in their eyes here.

This is a couple who spent the whole day boogie-boarding before exchanging vows. A couple who exchanged vows on the beaches of Kauai (with giant turtles floating in the surf) in part to force their families to take a fun vacation and get barefoot on the beach. A couple who manages to keep each others' feet on the ground and heads in the clouds. A couple who cherishes family and tradition all while dancing to their own beat. Their own beautiful beat.

To the happy couple: Keep dancing.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A farm is gone, but the future is still to come ...

George Richter's Fife farmland is gone. Another piece of land sold to a developer; and being developed. A crop bulldozed. And rightfully, yet sadly, tragically, so. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Click here.) As a former farm/forest girl ... I mourn the loss of farms. The loss of nature. The loss of open space. The loss of rural. The increase of impervious surface and concrete jungles. But I also have faith in the human race's ability to adapt and learn from its mistakes. I do worry what will happy if the bulldozing trend continues. More people on the globe means less land to be farmed, and yet more need for food. How do we deal with this conundrum? I can tell you what we don't do. We don't throw up our hands in despair that there is no answer, so why try? We don't sit down and take it. We talk about it, debate about it, wring our hands about it, lobby about it, and work, work, work, work, work toward a solution. One thing we for sure don't do: We don't shut up.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A mountain of socks

The Boy was complaining recently about his severe shortage of socks, as his feet have grown a few leaps and bounds (they're bigger than his big sister's), so we decided to order him some socks. He professed a liking to the Gold Toe Auro style we'd gotten at Target early in the year, and so I went onto Target website to order more (I prefer online ordering to battling retail crowds and flourescent lights) ... but they weren't offered online there.

After several attempts, I finally found Gold Toe's rather basic (but still effective) website and perused my options. I found his favorite, the Auro EZ Match that comes with one, two or three stripes across the toe depending on the size (hence, it's easy to match -- and easy to weed out the too small ones ... me like!)

The only problem, I thought, was that they didn't seem to sell them in multiples. That's funny, I thought. At Target they came in multi-packs. And it seemed a bit pricey for one pair, but they were good socks ... so what the heck. I ordered five pairs of white, and five pairs of brown and black dress style socks. Or so I thought. The socks arrived today. Unbeknownst to me, the white socks come in packs of three, the dress socks in packs of two. So we now have 15 pairs of white and 10 pairs of dress socks. I told The Boy he had to share with his sisters when they run low.

Needless to say, The Boy no longer has a shortage of socks. And they are a lot more reasonably priced that I thought. Hooray!

Friday, August 29, 2008

VIDEOS: The wayback machine and memories of a firestarter

Time for a little trek in the wayback machine as I celebrate the signs of summer's end and school's start. Time to reminisce about the summer of 1996 when I bought my first concert tickets to something called "The End Fest" ... something that just celebrated its 16th year. Sweet, sweet 16. Anyhow, back to the wayback machine ...

In 1996, EndFest was at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Bremerton. I'd gotten tickets for myself and pals, and even bought one for my brother. Acts included: Tracy Bonham, Dishwalla, the Verve Pipe, Goldfinger, No Doubt, Everclear, Prodigy, Beck, Filter, Ice-T, the Posies, 7 Mary 3, Super Deluxe, the Deftones and Gus, among others. I think Radiohead might have even been there ...

In 2008, EndFest is at the White River Amphitheatre with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Modest Mouse, Snow Patrol, Wolfmother, Eagles of Death Metal, Rock Kills Kid, Nine Black Alps, The Subwaysm, The Gossip and others. I did not buy tickets. But this IS the year I bought my first tickets to a major rock concert since college ... but it's not until October 11. (Guess who ...)

In memory of Endfest's 1996 location ...

Move to Bremerton by MxPx


And a shout-out to the yesterday and today of the band I'm about to see live ...

El Scorcho by Weezer (1996)


Automatic by Weezer (2008)


And back to the wayback machine ...

In 1996, I remember seeing No Doubt on the big stage (one of the reasons I snagged tickets), and my YOUNGER brother, who had just graduated high school, was reminiscing about how the previous year or two he had followed them on the small stages of smaller concerts.

In 2008 ... his skater ska girl has gone glam and my wee brother is playing underground music of his own to a cult following who may someday also reminisce about the day they saw him on small stages. And Beck is off the small stage and a Big Name at Bumbershoot.

Just a Girl by No Doubt


Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani


Where It's At by Beck (1996)


Gamma Ray by Beck (2008)


And an oldie by goodie by the bro for good measure ...


And back to the wayback machine ...

In 1996, I remember at the end of the Fest, people began to empty out a bit early before this odd Scottish band hit the main stage. This unknown who'd been flown in was Prodigy. Not many had heard of them yet, but those who stayed enjoyed the show. We got to get up closer ... and I thought the fact that their band was made up of a dancer as well as musicians was pretty cool. And soon many had Prodigy fever, and I'm sure some regretted the fact they left the concert early.

In 2008, Goldfinger has been replaced by Goldfrapp. And the Flobots are the new kids on the block who are stealing the summer, and even played at the Democratic National Convention. Speaking of which, this is also the summer that the NKOTB were out and about again. Scary. I don't regret skipping that concert, though I know several we enjoyed it.

Firestarter by Prodigy (approx 1996)


No Handlebars by Flobots (approx 2008)


And that's all folks ...

Corina's bread is something to drool about

Psst ... did you know you can get fresh, super-yummy and super-fresh bread at our own local Corina's bakery? It's a recent addition to their offerings, but it's a good one.

I stopped by the other day after picking up a GLUTEN-FREE birthday cake (you heard me, gluten-free and YUMMY). While I was waiting to pay, the bread was sitting in the display case, taunting me. "Chiiiiiickadee ... Chiiiiiiiickadee." I gave in. A rosemary loaf and a baguette. I could see a bit of herbs and coarse salt sitting atop the crust. And on the way home, the bread taunted me more as the oils or butter inside left little drool-inducing grease spots on the paper bag. I wondered whether it was too good to be true. I've been disappointed before. But no ... this was a little piece of heaven.

I sliced up the rosemary loaf for mozzerella and tomato sandwiches and I actually munched on the heels of the loaf while the sandwiches cooked in the oven. That NEVER happens with chain-grocery loaves. Not with me, at least. I'm just not normally a heel-eating girl ... but this, this, this ... I couldn't resist. It was magic. Did I mention magic? Lovely, yummy, edible magic.

Corina's Bakery
510 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
(253) 627-5070
Details: Cakes, bar cookies, cupcakes, croissants, bread, and so many other goodies ... If you want to request gluten-free or special order goodies (or want to make sure you get what you want), call at least two days in advance. That way they have time to get the appropriate incredients and add your special delectable request to their to-do list.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Broadway LID is getting some action ...

The action downtown with the Broadway LID has made it interesting finding a place to cross the street recently, but it is fun to watch. It's what I imagine a 5-year-old boy's version of a wet dream to be ...



Though the below giant table-saw looking vehicle is a bit more nightmarish to watch in action. This thing could be transformed into a great horror movie prop I'm sure.



Can't believe how fast things are going ... St. Helens is even about to go one-way finally. (I used to think it was even when it wasn't ... the driving path was so skinny it was ITCHING to be a one-way.)

Can't wait to see the results!

This post is going to get me so many horrid Google hits.

Monday, August 25, 2008

VIDEO: An Intermission From Monday

I'll dedicate this family favorite to The Boy, and to jcbetty and Elle who seem to be in need of some pure silly goodness.

"Nice Weather for Ducks" by Lemon Jelly


We discovered this video, and this band, years ago when The Boy said his first word, "Duck," at Wright Park during a stroll through the park. We'd stopped to watch the ducks swimming in what is now-a-much-prettier pond. And he pointed and said "Duck!" When we came home, we googled for ducks videos and came up with the above. For months if not years, this video would soothe him. It still does. (Oddly, so do the songs Pork and Beans, The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, and Troublemaker by Weezer. Sigh.)

Today was another monumental moment ... kiddo pulled out a tooth last night, and was so excited about it he RAN to the dental hygienist and cheered when his name was called for his check-up appointment. So did Baby Girl. The folks at the dentist office were a bit shocked. The parents in the waiting room got a bit of a laugh. (What?!? Not everyone's children are excited to see the dentist?)

Let the silliness be contagious ...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

TODAY: Come check out Tacoma's community gardens



In case you hadn't heard, today is your chance to check out four of Tacoma's community gardens, get a free plant and get 50% off local food specials at The Hub: It's the 2nd annual Tacoma Community Garden Tour! You can choose to take the self-guided tour by getting a passport map, or meet up at the Proctor Farmers Market at 11 a.m. to join in the group bike tour.

Here's the details:

Passport maps for self-guided tours will be available at the Proctor Farmers Market the day of the event. You can also click here to download a map at GrowLocalTacoma.com.

The bike tour, guided by the Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club, will depart from the Proctor Street entry of the Proctor Farmers Market at 11 a.m. Please come at least 15 minutes early to fill out a waiver. The route is approximately 10 miles over mostly flat terrain with a few moderate hills. Helmets are required and please bring your own snacks and water.

Get your passport map stamped at all four gardens and receive a free plant at the tour’s final garden stop (Neighbors Park at 8th & I), courtesy of the Pierce Conservation District.

Tour participants will also get a 50% discount on special local food dishes at The Hub on Saturday when they show their passport maps.

Tour stops include:

  • Proctor Farmers Market, South 27th & Proctor – bike tour meet-up and/or pick up your map
  • North Proctor & 21st
  • Franklin Park, South 12th & Puget Sound Avenue (far south corner of park)
  • Guadalupe Land Trust’s La Grande garden, South 18th & G
  • Neighbors Park community garden, South 8th & I
  • The Hub, 203 Tacoma Ave. S.

If you don't have a map already, you can find them at the Proctor Farmers market, N. 27th & Proctor, between approx. 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Or, click here to find a downloadable version.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why haven't I been here before? Chalet Bowl is where it's AT!



I've been in Tacoma for really close to a decade, and in the area for much longer that that ... and I had not been to the Chalet Bowl in the Proctor District until this week. Diva Girl is out of town for the week, so I took the Boy and Baby Girl on an adventure to the what-I-thought-was-a-tiny-bowling-alley for a little adventure earlier this week.

I'll admit, perhaps I was hesitant because when I took them bowling about two years ago in Hoquiam to celebrate a former coworker's shift from newspaper world to teacher career path ... well ... let's say we showed up, and within 15 minutes The Boy had tried bowling ... and tripped ... and fell chin-first on the bowling ball. No bruise. He freakin' split his chin open. Since I was the one who'd lived in Grays Harbor and knew where then hospital was (thanks in part to a long-ago sprained ankle incident), I would take him, and hubby would stay with the girls. Thank god for Transformers, as handing him his Bumblebee stopped him from freaking out ... and an old friend came with us, thus stopping me from freaking out. Also, when it came to him seeing the nurse (he didn't want to), a promise of a new Transformer when he was done quickly quieted him and got him through his stitches.

But back to this week ... I though the Chalet Bowl was a five- or six-lane place. CHALET HAS FREAKING TWELVE LANES. Seriously! I mean, the bowling alley in my own hometown had about that many. And I swear it was a much bigger place. HOW DO THEY DO IT!?!? They hid a freakin' 12-lane bowling alley in Proctor.

I'm still shaking my head in disbelief. And over the fact that I've found some close-by FUN!

The three of us played two games, and for a while there I was fearing that the kids' Wii bowling practice would have them beating me (we were playing with bumpers, so it was equal opportunity). But I did edge them out by a bit. Had Baby Girl beat me -- considering one of her bowls went so slow it CAME BACK TO HER -- I might have been a little embarrassed. But it has been awhile since I've bowled ...



Chalet Bowl
3806 N 26th St.
Taocma WA 98407
(253) 752-5200

Now that's a Gritster: Check out them apples ... err, apple and carrot



There were a couple crazy chickadees at the Broadway Farmers Market today handing out maps for this weekend's 2nd annual Tacoma Community Garden Tour. Kristen and Sarah not only brightened up a gray market day, but they were also good sports when folks asked to take their picture, and had fun with the kids who ran up to check out the produce.

Details of the Saturday affair ...

What: 2nd annual Tacoma Community Garden Tour

When: 11-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23

Cost: Free!

Self-guided tour: E-mail growingconversation@gmail.com to request a map, or pick one up at our booth on the Proctor Street side of the Proctor Farmers Market that morning.

Bike tour: Led by the Tacoma Wheelmen, the group bike tour leaves the Proctor Street side of the Proctor Farmers Market at 11 a.m. Please show up at least 15 minutes early to fill out a release. Helmets are required and please bring any water or snacks you might require.

Keep your map! Get your map stamped at all four gardens at get a free plant at the final stop, Neighbors Park at 8th & I, where you can also enjoy the garden, the playground, and several community booths. Also, no matter how many gardens you visit, bring your map to The Hub when you're done and get 50% off local food specials (and bonus: Happy Hour drink specials too!)

Who's in charge? A group of folks. This tour is a collaboration of an array of folks representing the Pierce Conservation District, the City of Tacoma's TAGRO program, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, the University of Washington and Exit133.com.

Questions? E-mail growingconversation@gmail.com or visit www.growlocaltacoma.com

Friday, August 15, 2008

Teacher assignment letters have arrived ...

Last year when Little Chickadee got her first-grade teacher assignment letter, she cried. We handed her the letter to read and she cried, then said, with a very determined voice and look: "You're homeschooling me."

This year went better.

THIS year, the teacher who she was hoping would move along with her to first grade ended up this year skipping up from kindergarten to second grade. Little (ok, not so little) Chickadee is ecastatic beyond belief. Life is fabulous. The letter is a blessing. She's jumping up and down. This will be the best year ever. Yada yada yada. I get it. She's excited. And we're very happy ... as we've been lucky to get fabulous Tacoma teachers across the board so far. I don't know what I'll do when my winning streak hits a bump.

(Side note: Little Chickadee ended up loving her first-grade teacher, too. But for awhile there, we were fearful. But the second she met the first-grade teacher -- blonde and pretty and sweet and new *sigh, really?* -- she was in love. Mind you, first-grade teacher was a GOOD teacher, too ... but sheesh, my darling girl, "pretty" is not a teacher qualifier.)

The Boy enters public school this year, and has been awarded the same class as his best, best, bestest buddy from preschool. Did I mention best, best, BESTest buddy?!?!?!? This should be a good thing. And it likely will be. I'm just worried those two giggle-butts will distract each other.

Luckily those two giggle-butt buddy boys get one of Tacoma's rarities: A male kindergarten teacher. A pretty damn good one at that. This dude has been a legend, and the reason many folks tried to talk me into putting Little Chickadee into full-day kindergarten back when there was a choice. We didn't, and she did fabulously in the half-day. (Mind you: I'm am not advocating for one over the other. The darling would have adjusted within the month had she been in full-day, but we did have the choice and the flexibility at the time, so we took it and stuck with half-day. With the boy: Thank God they have free full-day now.)

Oh, and I think The Boy can read and has been hiding it. When reading clicked for Little Chickadee there was no doubt. She'd shout out every sign we drove by. Every thing that went in front of her face. She read every word that flew by. Not so with The Boy. I suspect he can read, in part because I know his preschool rocks, and we've been working on it bits and pieces too -- but I wasn't at home during his prime learning-to-read years, as I was with his sis. But he'll randomly read words like "Kuwait." Seriously. I don't know if I was online or reading the paper, but he looked over my shoulder and clumsily said "Kuwait." (And with that word, there's not much option but clumsy.) And then today, when I handed him his teacher letter, not thinking he could read it that well, well ... within a few minutes he was jumping up and down asking if he could go to the start-of-school BBQ. It made me start ... where did he hear about that? I hadn't mentioned it ... I hadn't heard Little Chickadee mention it ... and it was definitely in the letter. Did he READ it?

You see, when queried, he gets quiet. He's tricky. He won't read the words that I ask him to try to read. (Except occasionally.) But I think he trickily can read a LOT LOT LOT more than I think he can. And luckily, he has a teacher I know will push him. And a buddy with whom I hope they'll push each other. And I think I'll soon discover that that boy can read a freakin' ton more than I realize he can.

Sweet.

Oh, and since Baby Girl has been asking about HER letter and HER teacher -- despite the fact that they don't give letters for preschool -- I will share that the little one starts preschool this year, the same place her siblings went before her. She's been anticipating it for ages. She's so ready. And I know she'll have a great time. But it's SO WEIRD that they'll all -- finally -- be "of age." Well, the first "of age" notes in a long list of such mentions. And in two years, they'll all actually be in the same school for two whole years. Weird.

Bring it on.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Frost Park North: Belated chalking pics & random videos

In celebration of independence, several pals and we spent the day of independence with a bit o' chalking fun with Frost Park regulars and those-who-sadly-work-out-of-town-and-can't-make-it.

Frost Park North and the train that joel413 rode in on.



Lovely reeciebird and her intellectual chalking in honor of Oscar Wilde's saying: "Ambition is the refuge of the unsuccessful."



The predecessor of last week's Frost Park whales by Tacomite.



Adam the Alien continues to make his mark.



So does Elle.



INTERMISSION: "You know you love it."



The Boy begins his artwork with outlines first.



And fills it in. It's a transformer-boat-car.



This is Diva Girl's drawing of a parking lot ... and if you note, the black part is the street. The orange parts are the sidewalks. And the people are in a crosswalk with a crossing guard.



It only LOOKS like the Baby Girl is drawing beer. Really, she's doing the pink circles.



Actually, in honor of the holiday, Elle replicated the neighbor's Corona.



Jenny proves her Jimmy Buffet addition ... or perhaps just cheesy joke addiction? ... with "The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful."



And since I missed the sun in the previous pic, we'll begin a montage ....



Diva Girl's practice sun before the July 4 Frost Park Chalk-Off.



And her actual entry.



And homage to our other guests' YouTube addiction:



That's all folks!

Masa does a decent lunch

Made it to Masa with a gal pal a couple weeks ago and, in along with a lovely day and lovely conversation, I quiet enjoyed my Masa burrito with grilled chicken. Yum. We both swear that one day, when things are less crazy, we'll drag our menfolk back for a double-date during an hour we can enjoy the margaritas, too.



Only drawback: The lovely day taunted us to lunch on the patio, where the shiny-top tables reflected the sun and heated things up a bit extra. Perhaps I should have stayed inside. Live and learn! And I'm still going back ... and I'm guessing evenings aren't as, well, glaring. (And not just because of the margaritas.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tacoma Food Co-op celebrates today at People's Park!

I'm dreaming of a local ... co-op ...

OK, that was cheesy. But I'm excited! Today's the day, not just for the Proctor Farmers Market (veggies and oysters here I come!) ... but for the Tacoma Food Co-op's big party and your chance to become a founding member and take the effort that much closer to opening the doors officially. Check it out!


THE ANNOUNCEMENT:

The Tacoma Food Co-op is growing up and it's time to celebrate! Join the fun from 4-9 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at People's Park, South 9th & Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The July 19 event is your chance to:

  • Learn about progress the Tacoma Food Co-op has made.
  • Discover what's next for the co-op.
  • Find out how to become a member.
  • Mingle with local farmers, musicians, restaurants, businesses and community organizations who share a common goal of providing healthy, affordable and fresh food for the residents of Tacoma.
Speakers include community activist Julio Quan and Tacoma's poet laureate William Kupinse. Restaurants and farmers slated to showcase their wares include: Herban Cafe, Woody's on the Water, Bombay Bistro, Quickie Too, Terry's Berries, Zestful Gardens, Puget Sound Meat Producers Co-op/Cheryl the Pig Lady and others. Also participating are South Sound Healers Network with children's activities, Second Cycle with bike repairs, Wai Baby, Best Loved Baby, the Tacoma and Pierce County libraries, and SolaRichard will be powering the musical entertainment!

Help make it a sustainable event! Spread the word via e-mail, radio, blogs and websites; bring a reusable bag, cup, mug, plate and silverware to the event; arrive by bus, bike, on foot or via carpool, and most of all: become a member! For more information, call (253) 272-8819, ext. 109, or e-mail tacomafoodcoop@gmail.com.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Diva Daughter hulas happily to Deborah Page

You can't see it because it's spinning so fast, but there's a hula hoop in that thar picture of Diva Daughter dancing to Deborah Page at Sanford & Son during tonight's Art Walk. Look closely and you'll see a mere ghost of the hoop ...





You go girl!

Predictions on RR & Darcy's first born's first word (with bonus video)

Spotted in front of the Helm Gallery tonight: a tribute by Andrea of Unstable Art to the freshly outed Max.



Oh, and my guess as to Mr. Max's future first word? Chalk.

And so a video dedication to Max, in memory of MY boy's enthusiastic first word: Duck. Yes, duck. (Said during a visit to Wright Park back when there was a fence around the duck pond ... and plenty of ducks!)

Nice Weather for Ducks by Lemon Jelly