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Oh my gosh, it’s been so long!
You *look* fantastic!
*I can’t really see you, but knowing you, I can assume.
What have I been up to? Oh geez, where do I start?
Well, we’ve been moving. And that’s seriously hectic.
Have you ever moved? I swear things start appearing. Literally materializing out of thin air! You think you know how much stuff you have until you try to move from one house to another. Just as soon as I thought we were close to being done, I’d open a closet or a cupboard and have another carload of stuff. Plus, if I ever have to scrub walls again, I may die.
*Also, Nick is rolling his eyes. I can feel it. It’s cool.
And that’s been mixed in with working, rehearsing, performing yadda yadda yadda.
But it’s great. All of it. I can’t believe how lucky I am. How awesome our friends and family are. I’m never hesitant to say that I’m loving life, but there are times when it’s truer, more real. This is definitely one of those times.
What about you? What have you been up to lately? I’d love to hear from you, and let’s promise to meet like this more often!
See you soon?
I really do mean to post with some kind of regularity, so I apologize for disappearing. I promise that soon I will post more often.
It’s just that, things have been happening. Exciting things. Like, big, awesome, things.
Before you freak out, we’re staying in Missoula. I’m not sure we’d ever choose to leave this town. But we’re moving into a house. With a yard. And a garage. And wood floors. And the dryer won’t be in the kitchen!
See? Only the dryer is in there. The washer is in another part of the apartment. Ridiculous, no?
We are super excited, but it’s going to be a big change. We’ve lived in our apartment for over six years. Six years of good neighbors. Bad neighbors. People walking over head. Parties. Car alarms. Pregnancy. First steps. Bike rides. No kids our son’s age. Lots of kids our son’s age.
It will involve a change of schools. Leaving the Northside neighborhood we’ve grown to love so much. Trying to pack up six years worth of stuff and moving it across town.
But it will also involve exploring a new neighborhood. A yard with a fence! A garden!! A big trampoline!!! (Be still, my dancer’s heart!) Getting used to a new oven. Backyard bbqs. Mowing grass, for the first time ever.
All the amazing things that are involved with moving your things, your heart, your sense of home into a new space, and making that place your heart, your home.
It makes me feel like a kid.
I can’t wait.
Be patient with me while I sort through our life and pack it into boxes. I can’t promise that I’ll post much during the next few weeks, but I can promise to take lots of pictures, and check in with you now and then. Because you know you’re coming with me, right? I promise, it’s going to be great. You’ll like it.
There’s a trampoline.
You see, Farmer’s Market is back. And it was Brew Fest.
I don’t drink beer (still. Shocking, I know), but I got to people watch,
In short, it’s that time of year in Missoula.
And I am happy.
This was the most epic fruit salad. I even tweeted about it! (Did you know you can follow me on twitter? I’m super hilarious. Well, I said something mildly funny once, anyway.)
The salad was epic, not only because it was delicious, and huge, but because of the variety. This many fruits in the same bowl has to mean that spring is mostly here. (Mostly, because I live in Montana, and we’re known for our June blizzards. No joke! I remember snow on the Fourth of July one year. Yeah, it sucked as much as you think it would.)
We also grilled steak:
Chicken is still not allowed for awhile, but when beef is this good, I don’t mind.
And no, that’s not a tricky camera angle. My plate was half full of fruit salad. I’m a fruit optimist
Fruit Salad of Epic Proportions
Serves at least 8, unless you eat fruit salad like we do
2 Granny Smith apples
2 ripe pears
2-3 small bananas
3 cups grapes (your favorite color)
1 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blackberries
3 cups hulled & sliced strawberries
Wash fruit thoroughly! Peel orange and slice sections into chunks. Chop apples, bananas & pears (oh my!). Toss everything but the lime into a large bowl. Slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Toss fruit so that the lime juice is evenly distributed. Serve immediately.
We definitely had leftovers. Leftover fruit salad is one of my very favorite things in the whole world. Why? Because you can add it to plain yogurt and eat it as a fruit and yogurt parfait for breakfast! Score.
As the weather gets warmer and fruit is more in season, this won’t be such an expensive adventure. But really, it’s worth it to feel like spring might stick around.
No, really. Don’t let my poor photography skills fool you. These are the best whole wheat pancakes I’ve ever had. The best ANY pancakes I’ve ever had. And I’ve been eating them my entire life, because I’m just that lucky.
I remember the first time I had pancakes in a restaurant. They were ginormous (what? it’s a word), and slathered in butter and syrup. I took that first bite, and as syrup dripped down my chin, I thought “What the heck is this?! Where’s the cinnamon? Where’s the nutmeg? Why do these taste like cardboard?!”
I never order pancakes in restaurants because they just can’t live up to my expectations. And the best part about these pancakes? They’re ridiculously hard to screw up. Even when I couldn’t boil rice, I could make these pancakes in my sleep. Throw out your Bisquick, folks! You don’t need it anymore.
I like to think of cinnamon and nutmeg as the secret ingredients. So for the sake of my fun, when you sprinkle them over the batter, snigger uncontrollably and make sure no one can see them going in. Please?
Drop the batter onto a griddle. Mine heats terribly unevenly, and it drives me crazy that the pancakes on the left don’t cook as fast as the pancakes in the middle. It’s supposed to go from left to right! Left to right, I say! I get over it pretty quickly, though.
If you’re going to add anything extra, like blueberries or chocolate chips, now is the time. Don’t just add them willy-nilly to the batter. Alton Brown would never approve, and it’s important to listen to Alton Brown. Plus, this way you can do more than one style.
As a side note, our pancakes of yore NEVER had mix-ins, or toppings, or sprinkles. Just to be a rebel now, I love to put fresh huckleberries in my pancakes during the season. But blueberries, even frozen, are an excellent substitute.
Coincidentally, we never had anything fancy with these pancakes because we ate ours with peanut butter and maple syrup. Yes. Peanut butter! Try it. You may never go back to butter again. And you’ll be happy. (Unless you are my husband and son, in which case, you’re weird. I’ll love you anyway because I’m willing to look past this fundamental difference)
About this recipe: this is an old family recipe that goes back on my mother’s side. As such, it’s one of those “till it looks right” kind of recipes. Seriously! Look:
Notice how few measurements there are? (And how yucky the page is from being used so often?) If I have to guess, and I’m assuming that you want me to try, here’s what I would say:
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp melted butter
2-ish tsps cinnamon
1/2-ish tsp nutmeg
milk, added 1/4 cup at a time until batter reaches desired consistency
Mix dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients and combine. Do not over mix the batter. Spoon onto hot griddle or frying pan. Serve with peanut butter and maple syrup (or butter, I guess)
Makes about 8 very thick pancakes. For thinner pancakes, add more milk.
There’s a story behind this one.
We were all staying at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house while my little sister was being born.
Grandma shared that she was making Tuna Bun Boats for dinner. Without hesitation, the four of us declared that we hated them, and we weren’t going to eat them.
I should tell you that my grandmother was an excellent cook. Nearly everything she made was amazing. (I have to add the “nearly” because some things she made had walnuts, which only belong in salads, and mayo, which only belongs in…well, nothing.)
“Have you ever had a Tuna Bun Boat?” she asked. “No, but we hate them. They’re gross.”
My grandmother proceeded to make them, and we all pretended not to be interested.
She was an incredibly patient woman. I guess she had practice raising her three sons,
And one daughter.
She mixed everything together in silence.
By the time she got to this stage, it was getting harder and harder to pretend that we weren’t interested.
“What on earth is she doing?” “Eeew. I’m not eating that.”
“Where are the boats?”–That one was me. I was pretty little. And the loudest of the nay sayers. Mostly, I think, because I thought we’d get to eat them ON a boat.
But then the smell started wafting out of the oven. It’s pretty hard to turn your nose up at melted cheese.
They came out of the oven, and still looked pretty weird. What happened next was the worst case of “Please just try it–Eeew, no!–How can you say you don’t like it if you’ve never had it?–Because we just know!–You’ll sit down and eat, and if you hate it I won’t make it for you again.–Fine, but only because we’ll never have to eat it again.”
Tiny, angry bites.
“I told you so.”
My Grandma never held a grudge against us for being so snotty, and when we were really nice she’d make them for us when we visited. These are so easy to throw together in a hurry, and I’m told that they reheat well, though I’ve never had them last that long. They also make a great packable lunch because you can leave them in the foil to take on the go.
So before you vehemently affirm that you hate them, just give them a try. I promise that if you don’t like them, you’ll never have to make them again. But you won’t hate them. Fair warning.
2 hard boiled eggs, diced (I don’t like hard boiled yolks, so I left them out and used the whites)
4 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tbsp sweet pickles (I used regular pickles)
6 1/2 oz tuna in water, drained
enough mayo (or plain yogurt) to moisten well
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425F. Combine all ingredients. Assemble in buns and wrap in foil. Bake for about 15 minutes, then serve hot.
I’ve been out of town for awhile.
I got to spend time with my sisters. All of them. I have four.
I only cooked hot breakfast cereal. Everything else was either prepared or paid for by someone else.
I saw uncles, aunts, cousins. People that knew me when I was that awkward kid nobody really knew what to do with.
But then we went to a funeral.
My Grandma Paula was one of those people that everyone seemed to know. All you had to do was say you were one of her grandkids, and they’d launch into stories of how much they love her, how much she helped or inspired them. How much they’ll miss her now that she’s gone.
The most impressive thing about my grandmother has everything to do with the people around her. She loved to cook, she loved to listen and she loved to laugh. That perfect trifecta made her the best friend of everyone. She led a full life of happiness, warmth, comfort and faith. She entered the next life surrounded by so much love. Her only regret was that she didn’t make it to her 75th birthday–not that she didn’t have a big enough house or a nicer car. She just wanted more time to enjoy the life she already had. The fortune she left us with is the inspiration to lead a happy life surrounded by those you love. How much more simple/complicated could it get?
I regret not spending more time with her. I’m sure she knew I loved her, but I hope she also knew how much I appreciated and respected her. Still do. I will forever be in awe of that woman. While I sat with her in her hospital room, it was hard for her to open her eyes, but she was still smiling. She knew that it was her time to go, and she was so happy that everyone dropped what they were doing to come and be with her on that “holy day”–her words. She didn’t think she was about to become a saint or anything, but she did know that soon she’d be resting comfortably in the arms of her Maker. That’s what happens when you live your life honestly, openly and full of compassion. You don’t fear death. It was painful, but incredible to watch.
I am so fortunate to have a family that will descend upon a hospital room to hold their wife/mother/grandmother/friend’s hand when she calls. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such an amazing support system. People who know exactly what it meant to know her. And who know what it means to lose her. Nothing on earth can compete with the intense love of family. Despite any differences that we may have, love will always bind us together. And she was a huge source of that love.
Some of the things that stuck with me from the multitude of lovely things said at her vigil are these: ”Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved,” and “Life has been changed, not ended.” What better way to sum up how we’re all feeling right now? The forward motion of life continues, even after a loss as great as my Grandma.
We love her, we miss her, and we’ll do everything in our power to live by her example.
Eating apple crisp is kind of like coming home. But coming home is not always like eating apple crisp? Hmm…Nevermind.
If you live anywhere in the vicinity of Griz Country, you’ll know that this weekend was Homecoming. We take these traditions seriously around here, so Missoula puts together the whole kit’n'caboodle–parades, tailgates, football game, etc. Last year, I thought I might freeze to death, it was so cold. But this year was absolutely perfect! (Welcome to weather in Montana!) I took far too many pictures to post them all, but I thought I’d give you a brief overview of the awesomeness. If you’d like to see the complete set, go here.
There were a lot of upside-down people!
After the parade, everyone walks to campus…
Where we eat jambalaya and drink free beer…
And then we go home. The end.
I’m just kidding! Then we go home and make apple crisp.
Here’s the recipe:
Apples–enough to cover the bottom of the pan. I didn’t bother peeling mine because I like the skins. But you can roll how you will. I also used my food processor to slice the apples, and it saved a TON of time. If you’re slicing by hand, 1/4 inch thick. I had very small apples, so it was about 6-8 total
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 Tbsp plus 1 tsp brown sugar
4-6 Tbsp melted butter
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place the apples evenly in the bottom of a large baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Sprinkle the apples with 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp each of brown sugar and cinnamon.
4. Slice 1 Tbsp butter into very small bits, place over top of apples.
5. To complete the crisp, in a medium-sized bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir until the mixture resembles a course meal. (I started with just 4 Tbsp of melted butter and 2 Tbsp lemon juice, but found that the “crisp” wasn’t moist enough. Add more as necessary.) Top the apples evenly with the oat mixture.
6. Bake the crisp at 350°F for 30 minutes.