Friday, September 27, 2013

Good Reads: Never Have Your Dog Stuffed

A few weeks ago a coworker at my "day job" foisted a couple of books on me. She used the old line "You'd really like these," and I ended up with them, obligated to read and, of course, report that I liked them. I love reading; books are my favorite method for escaping my own life (which, despite my own better judgment, I still seem to be trying to do). Yet, I am always wary of books given to me by others. Like the kid at the lunch table who gives away his dessert without bargaining for it, I have to wonder what is wrong with it. It's clearly not your prize treasure because you are willing to risk handing it to me. There's also this freaky thing: I feel like I am peering into your skull when I read what you read.

Hesitations aside, I picked up Never Have Your Dog Stuffed the biography of Alan Alda (M*A*S*H star "Hawkeye") today and have gotten about halfway through. He's funny, quirky, intelligent and I think we share a similar disregard for other peoples' rules. So far it sounds like he'd do just about anything to follow his dream of being an actor. That's something I admire. The biggest difference between us seems to be that, at the age of twenty something, he still had that feeling of invincibility that only toddlers and lunatics seem to be able to muster. He never grew out of it, I suppose, and I doubt I ever had it. This whole "making it on your own as an artist" thing scares the crap out of me!

I am engrossed in figuring out how he managed to stay so insanely confident of success. I have been told before that learning about other artists is helpful to my own success, but it never really occurred to me to REALLY try until I met this HUGE ego of Mr. Alda's in his book. I suppose I'll let you know how the dissection of his words go. In the meantime, I am curious; what keeps the fear monster at bay for you when you want or need to accomplish a daunting task? I'd love to hear how other people operate.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Yummy! Weekend Breakfast!

It's the weekend, and there is definitely one thing I look forward to...a yummy breakfast made at home with my family. We try to do this at least once every weekend, schedules permitting. So we do our best to sleep in a little, we slowly wake up and then I make a beeline to the coffee maker. Everyone else follows closely behind and then we start asking, "What would be good for breakfast?" There's always suggestions for the usual suspects:  Sausage Gravy with Biscuits, Coconut French Toast, Eggs Benedict (my personal all-time favorite), Pancakes and Bacon...and the list goes on. We decide what we want and most of the time my husband and/or I have to go to the store and pick up odds and ends. (Okay, it's usually my husband because I'm just not quite ready to go out anywhere...ever...when I first wake up.) That's alright. Breakfast may be a little later than usual, but hey. It's the weekend! So - I'm going to feature three of our favorite breakfasts ever:

A family favorite is definitely Sausage Gravy with Biscuits. It's a recipe we got from my mother-in-law. I remember the first time I had it was with my husband and his parents. I had never had it before, and I was a little leery. (I seem to recall my dad calling it sh..on a didn't sound appetizing AT ALL) I was polite and I tried it. SO GOOD! The epitome of comfort food for breakfast, and extremely easy to make. Brown a tube of Jimmy Dean Hot sausage in a medium sauce pan (DON'T strain the grease) sprinkle 2 - 3
tablespoons of flower over the browned sausage; mix well. Add 2 - 3 cups of milk (if you add 2 tablespoons flour, use 2 cups of milk (smaller, concentrated batch); if you add 3 tablespoons, use 3 cups of milk (larger, less concentrated batch, both options are very good and flavorful)) Turn heat to medium, stir frequently, let boil and reduce heat. Keep stirring occasionally until desired thickness is achieved. Cook biscuits according to directions (we like Pillsbury Grands in the exploding tube) Place 2 biscuits on a plate, pour gravy on top, and DONE! Seriously, it's so easy and very good. Not the best breakfast for dieting; it's definitely a treat. Pair this with a nice, hearty bloody Mary for the adults, and a glass of apple juice for the kids!

Another family favorite is French Toast. I generally make the French toast for my family. My husband makes the pancakes, so this is my "specialty". I oftentimes make the traditional French toast recipe - milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon. The kids love it, and so does the hubby. Another very easy to make breakfast. And then I happened upon a recipe for French toast in Coastal Living magazine...Coconut French Toast. OMG yum. It's a little more of a high maintenance French toast, but worth the wait. I am attaching a link for the recipe from Coastal Living Magazine: Seriously - if you like coconut, and you like French toast, you'll love this. It's especially great on a nice, sunny summer morning. Pair this with a fresh cup of Kona coffee for the adults, and a glass of pineapple juice for the kids! Then after breakfast you send the kids to the park and start making some pina coladas. ;)

And now for my all-time favorite breakfast in the world...Eggs Benedict. There are so many variations of this breakfast, and I prefer the traditional version - Eggs on top of a piece of Canadian bacon (or ham for those who don't care for Canadian bacon - I don't get this at all. Canadian bacon rocks!) on top of a toasted English muffin, smothered in Hollandaise sauce and topped with some parsley. Granted, I have yet to try to make my own hollandaise sauce; it's on my list of things to try. We just buy the packet of powdered mix, and then I soup it up with some lemon juice and pepper. My husband and I have yet to perfect the art of poaching an egg, so we make sunnyside-up eggs instead. Still very tasty, and the kids love it! Pair this with a mimosa for the adults, and a glass of OJ for the kids.

So - there you have it. Three awesome weekend breakfast ideas. Are they diet-friendly? Probably not. Are they yummy? Yes. Are they worth the wait for the weekend? Absolutely. I think next time I will give some diet-friendly breakfast ideas. Those are good, too!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Heather Zappo
Id & Ego Creations

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall Gardening

Fall Harvest

When most people think about gardens in the fall, they usually picture ripe, orange pumpkins ready to pick, apples being picked off the tree, and baskets overflowing with fresh vegetables. Fall is the time when the summer vegetables and fruits finish ripening and become ready to enjoy. For many people, this season marks the end of the year for their gardens, and they are busy cleaning out the old plants and covering their garden beds with plastic for the winter. This has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Not just because I get to pick all the apples I want and eat all the fresh vegetables I want, but also because it's time to plant my fall garden.

Even in places like my home in Seattle, where we end up getting frosty mornings so quickly come fall time, there are many vegetables that can be grown successfully and are fairly frost-hardy. These plants include leafy crops like kale, lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard. Root crops like beets, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, radishes, and turnips. As well as broccoli, cauliflower and peas. These frost-hardy plants also make the best choices for the very first plantings in early spring.

If you're lucky to have a longer autumn season before the mornings turn frosty, then you can have your choice of any cool season crops, including: arugula (rocket), beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, celery (mild winter climates), chard, fennel, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard greens, onions (bulbing), onions (bunching--standard onions harvested before they form bulbs), Pak choi (Bok choy), and coriander (cilantro).

 As with any gardening adventure, it's always best to do your research. Find out what grows well in the climate you have. Plant nurserys and your local county extension office will usually be more than happy to help you learn what kinds of cool season crops can do well in your area. Also make sure to research what the different crops need in terms of light/shade, and water. During the fall, you won't need to water a garden as much as you would in the hot summer months, but it's still important to make sure your plants are getting the water they need. Also make sure to find out what fertilizing needs your garden will have. During the wetter months of autumn, plants will usually need more fertilizer to ensure adequate nutrients in the soil. Above all, remember to have fun!

 Enjoy your summer harvest, and get those cool season crops planted!

Monday, September 9, 2013

ENTERTAINMENT - what is entertainment exactly?

What Do You Find Entertaining?

My Webster’s dictionary describes entertainment as anything from a leisure activity, a pursuit of amusement, an enjoyable hobby, leisure time, a riveting distraction or simply a diversion. 

Entertainment can be a source of laughter, enjoyment, delight, fun and pleasure when the entertainment is geared towards being lighthearted.

Or it could be relaxing if you are being entertained by soft music and a soothing massage.

Entertainment could also be dramatic and possibly heart rending as in an entertaining but sad movie.
My pleasures are many and so varied and a good number of them are homey ones. 
Things like devouring a book nestled in the ‘sweet spot’ of a comfy chair, dancing in the kitchen as dinner simmers, enjoying the sedate excitements of domesticity.  Just the mere feeling of Milorne’s soft touch on the small of my back entertains me.  Really it doesn't take much...
I am easily entertained by rainbows, watching the sun rise or by reveling in the luxury of a good book while relaxing in bed with the enticing smell of coffee wafting in the air. 
I am also thoroughly entertained while meandering through the library entranced by the scent and symmetry of rows of orderly books.
I am often entertained while hiking with friends or kayaking early in the morning when the water is smooth as glass, or while biking along a tree lined trail where the boughs overlap and provide a canopy tunnel.
 My entertainment quota is as full as the first sip of wine on a sunny deck overlooking the shore. 
The kid’s performances, cartwheels on the grass, a fast paced live hockey game or just visiting and laughing with friends and playing bocce ball on the beach on a stormy day.
Recently we sat on the grass in Victoria in the Inner harbour and watched for hours a variety of acts put on by the Buskers at the annual Buskers Festival.  There were an amazing variety of acts some which involved quick intellect while others required team work,courage and strength.
All humble delights and yet greatly entertaining...
How are you entertained?
author:  Trish Repay (BlackCrowCurios)To learn more about the annual Buskers festival in Victoria BC click on the following link: