the hyphens that define my life

August Dinner Menu July 31, 2013

Filed under: Cooking — multihyphenatedme @ 10:51 pm
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Goodbye July!  You flew by fast and I can’t believe the month is over already.  I don’t know about you, but,in spite of my planning efforts, my food budget was shot full of holes.  Running and gunning to the river and lake after work did not leave time for meal preparation.  We ate a lot of meals out, including fast food. Ugh.  My body and my wallet paid the price.

A new month full of delicious meals to make the most of summer’s freshest fruits and vegetables.  I hope you are inspired to enjoy one or some of these meals. 

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday



Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Saifun  and Gyoza



Lasagna & Salad



Jessica’s Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup


Halibut with Tomatoes couscous


Grilled Pork Tenderloin   Plum Sauce 


Chicken Tostadas 



Fresh Tomatoes, Basil &  Pasta


Dinner Out


Grilled Shrimp Salad


Steak and Arugula Salad



Chicken with Herb Roasted Tomatoes


Tomato Soup  & Grilled Cheese



Chicken Enchilada Casserole


Homemade    Mac & Cheese 


Steak Fajitas  Corn, Black Bean Quinoa Salad



Dinner Out



Provencal Chicken Grilled Vegetables


Pork with Blackberry Chutney



Sweat & Sour Chicken Wings


Dinner Out


Spaghetti & Meatballs


Breakfast for Dinner



Homemade Pizza


Chicken & Snap Peas


Nicoise Salad





Grilled Fish Tacos


Creamy Chicken Penne


Chicken Apricot Skewers



Pasta Salad with Shrimp


Turkey Burgers

Eat a great home cooked meal!


Project Central July 30, 2013

Filed under: Creative — multihyphenatedme @ 10:48 pm
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When we made the decision to sell all of our furniture before we moved from Placentia, CA to Spokane, WA, we knew the time and energy and expense we would incur to make our house whole. As with aging, what we know now, compared to what we knew then are extremely different things.

We had a plan before moving. It was a good plan. Bedrooms were assigned, office space planned, everything fit. We had a list of things we needed to buy and a rough cost estimate to budget.
Then we arrived and all plans flew out the window. The vibe, feel and flow of the house, with us, our things, plus managing and dealing with all the things that were left in the house wasn’t right, based on our plan.

We quickly adapted and modified our plan. Part of the new plan involved creating a 10′ x 18′ space in the garage to house my husband’s man cave, office, and music space. This was our first project and consumed a solid three weeks. No photos yet of this space as now that the space is defined, my husband is still working on the interior design. I’ll post the finished product once complete.

While Vince was occupied with his project, I ventured down my own path to furnish the house. For rarely, like next to never, watching TV, I have seen my fair share of DIY design shows. I love DIY projects because you get something awesome for an extreme fraction of the price that you would pay for something new. I found a new couch that I kinda liked, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy it because it wasn’t right. Instead, I bought a beast of a sectional circa 1970, originally from the Leather Center. I found this rounded, overstuffed light blue leather sectional for $200. I showed Vince the picture and he said he liked it as it reminded him of the rounded sectional his family had when he was a kid. I drove over to see it, then called Vince to bring the trailer and pick it up. When Vince saw the sectional, he didn’t say a word but I could tell he was raging mad. He hated it but the deal was done so we loaded the couch onto the trailer. At home with the couch in the living room, I hated the couch too. I didn’t buy it because I thought it looked great. I bought the couch for its potential. With the two rounded sections removed, the two end pieces create an 11 foot long couch which fits the room beautifully. Vince, thinking the couch we picked up was the couch I wanted in as is condition, was relieved to hear my plan for the couch. Vince loves any engineering challenge, so he is tasked with modifying the center wood pieces where the sectional meet to create one piece. My job is everything else.

Have you ever upholstered a piece of furniture before? I have upholstered a couch, some stools and patio chair cushions, each time learning as I go, drawing on the issues I had in the previous project. Upholstery is a lot of work, but worth the effort in the end.

You wanted photos, so here are photos of my works in progress here at Project Central:

The first is the couch project. I have most of it ripped apart. The next step is removing the arms and finalizing the demolition. Vince will then modify the center pieces so you don’t feel the boards when you sit down.  The couch will have 5-6″ legs, and clean lines.  We have narrowed down the fabric to 3 choices, all shades of blue.

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Next is the vintage table and chairs. I tore apart one chair to see how complicated it would be as well as how much yardage I will need for upholstery. Each chair has 178 nail heads in the trim at the base of the chair and around the back. Removing the nail head trim on the back was easy, the trim at the base was painfully difficult. With one chair disassembled, I’m happy I finished uninjured.
The story behind the table is another craigslist find. I needed a desk, but wanted a table instead of a traditional desk. In Yorba Linda CA, a man listed this table and chairs. I loved it from the moment I saw it posted, even more so in person. When I picked it up, the man selling it told me his family member owned the furniture store in Los Angeles. Eva Gabor, Zsa Zsa’s sister, saw this table and commissioned a full dining table off this sample. Is it true?  Who cares, it’s a great story.

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The walnut coffee table measures 71″.  I love the mid-century modern style.  These photos look pretty good but it needs to be sanded and finished.  This was a $100 craigslist score.

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This clock has been through so many moves but has been stored for at least the past 10 years.  This clock was one of the original Pacific Bell clocks that provided the time when, way back in the day, you dialed a number to find out the time.  A woman would say, “At the tone the time is….Beep”.  Are you old enough to remember calling time?  My father-in-law was a linesman for the phone company and recovered this clock from the trash during a modernization remodel.  It was painted black and my mother-in-law finished the woodwork.  Any time this clock is moved, the inner workings get mangled.  This is one project I’ll happily deliver to the clock repairman.  I just found one the other day and need to drop off the clock soon.


One of the items left by the previous owner was this chinese astrological calendar wheel.  It was hanging on the wall in the living room.  I love the piece, but do not want it as a wall hanging.  I’m going to repurpose this piece and create a table by adding some sort of base.  The piece is double-sided, but I like this side the best.


All of these projects above are for the living room.  I also need to change the draperies, make poufs in front of the fireplace and pillows for the beast of a couch once it is complete.

The dining room is painted a shocking caution sign yellow.  I can’t stand the color.  It offends me every day. I can’t wait until the painter arrives, currently scheduled for the week after Labor Day, while the kids are in school.  My china looks fantastic in these built in cabinets that flank the window.  The dining room is oval which is super cool.  But the color!! Ugh!


To add to the “Bee” (that’s the name of the paint color), the seat cushions and rug conflict with my brain.  The idea, as I understand, was that the paint is matching the yellow squiggly in the chair upholstery.  With this plan, the rug doesn’t work.  It may work for you, it hurts me.  The dining room table and credenza came with the house. I love the furniture but the color combinations, if you haven’t already gathered, is not my favorite.  I’m going to change the upholstery fabric on the six chairs, hopefully before Thanksgiving.


Moving upstairs, two of the boys share a room.  The room used to be a girls room done completely in purple.  Purple carpet and purple walls.  We pulled up the carpet to find the original hardwoods.  Out went the carpet, tack and staples pulled and the plan is to eventually finish the floors.  The floors are in good enough shape for now.  We have to lower the baseboards and paint, another room slated for the first week of September.  These beds are my super score.  $57 total (not each) for both bedframes.  They were in sad shape, scratched and well used with some damage.  Vince bracketed and bolted everything together and I waxed, waited 20 minutes and polished.  I found these bedframes at a repurpose vintage, design store that was having a 60% off sale.  In addition to these beds, I bought an awesome table that I use as my desk.  I’ll show you the desk another day.  The boy’s room needs curtains, which I’ve bought the fabric, just need to sew, sew, sew.

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The other boys room is an odd-shaped room and we decided to find a captains bed for this space. For now, this room is the most complete.  The walls photographed purple, but they are blue.  This room is blue, blue, blue.  This bed is in great shape and was a $75 craigslist find.


My office is the third room to be painted the first week of September.  I will post photos when it is completed.

Some of you have asked if we were settled yet.  We have unpacked all of our boxes.  Everything needing to be stored is stored, everything in use, is in use.  We have a plan, and this time, I think we’ll get there.  Our rooms aren’t “done”. When they are complete, I will post photos, I promise.

Projects would get done sooner if we weren’t running to the river or lake every free moment. Summer is meant for outdoor fun.  We will have all winter to work on these projects.  One step at a time.


Northwest Edition July 29, 2013

Today’s mail brought my new issue of Sunset Magazine, the Northwest Edition. I feel like I’ve finally arrived. Sure we have lived in Spokane for 5 weeks but, in print, it feels official. Officially, I’m still sore from all of the gardening and yard work we tackled yesterday. I couldn’t lift my arms enough to type a blog post. All 5 of us mowing, raking, hacking, sawing, blowing and planting. With yard work done, we are beginning to look like the Northwest Edition too.

We met several of our neighbors in the midst of our sweaty, dusty, dirty efforts. Our sidewalk is a direct path to Manito Park and with cooler temperatures this weekend, everyone was out and about. We met people close by and those that live further away, all neighbors one and the same. Everyone incredibly nice and thrilled to have us on the block.

I have started planning my garden, in both the front and back yards for next year. I will have at least a 300 s.f. raised bed vegetable garden, a berry patch, a dahlia garden and, well, that’s all I have planned…so far. I planted 8 lavender plants this weekend that is my official lavender farm. I may add a few more plants, but this is a good, fabulously smelling start.

The Northwest Edition of my garden is challenging. We’re in a new zone with new soil and, gasp, weather. I have to pay attention to frost dates! I have to winterize!

The Washington State University Spokane County Master Gardener Program is an excellent online and physical resource providing everything a newbie like me needs to develop a fantastic vegetable garden as well as identify native plants. Browsing through the Extension Program, I learned that I – yes me – could become a Master Gardener. The requirements are straightforward, 64 hours of class time, passing grades on quizzes and tests and a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer time. I wonder if I get a badge that reads “Beth – Master Gardener”. Ooooh! Destiny.

Patience, grasshopper. First I must build the garden and experience the successes, miseries and tragedies of gardening in the Inland Northwest. According to the Northwest Checklist in my August 2013 issue of Sunset magazine, I need to:

1. Shop for spring bulbs as they are cheaper this time of year (I always love a bargain),

2. Plant Autumn Crocus, bulb to flower in 3 weeks. (Oooh! I can start now? Of course.)

There is information for those “West of the Cascades” aka Seattle, and prep, maintenance and protection projects that don’t apply to my garden yet. The checklist will be filed in my gardening folder already filled with advice and guidance, dream gardens and ideas.

Once I regain the full range of motion in my arms, I’ll get started on an autumn flower container garden for front porch color. I have nothing but time. Except for the time already allotted to family and work. My DIY furniture refinishing and upholstery projects fall next in line. You know I need my 8 hours each night too. Someway, somehow, I have all month, I will do my best to find some solace in my Northwest Edition of my yard.


Pay Attention July 27, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 1:50 pm
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Today was Trace’s first soccer game with his new team, FC Spokane B00 White, in the River City Cup Tournament.  A massive two day tournament of 220 teams from multiple states and Canadian provinces, 1700 kids.  We didn’t know what to expect from the team or the tournament.  We didn’t know what position he would play, how his coach would coach in a game, or how much playing time Trace would be given. I’m confident in our son’s abilities, yet I was anxious on how everything would come together.

After the game, as Trace and I drove home, I said “You had a great first play of your game”.  The play was a pass assist that scored a goal.  Trace said, “Yeah, in the second half”.  “Yes,” I said, “your first play of the game”.  We bantered back and forth a bit until I realized my error.

Here’s what happened…from my perspective.

Trace didn’t start, which is fine, he needed to see how the team played.  You see, at practice, we train with a U-14 team that our coach also coaches.  At least 25 7th and 8th graders are on the field at every practice.  Knowing who has been on our team, let alone the positions they play have been a mystery.  Team-building events haven’t yet been scheduled.  Trace, with time, has adjusted.  Yet, with all of this, I agreed with the coach to not start Trace.  No issue.

The first half continued, and from what I could tell, Trace sat on the bench the entire first half. You have to understand that I have terrible vision.  I was sitting on one side of the field, and the team bench is on the other side.  Typically my kid has some discernable feature, his floppy blond hair, his crazy colored cleats, or his jersey number, to help me see him on the field.  He got a haircut so his blond tresses are gone and at least 3 other kids on his team have matching cleats.  Because he was sitting facing the field, I couldn’t see his jersey number on his back.

Not knowing any of the parents on the sidelines, I didn’t say anything.  I kept it all contained.  You read that correctly.  I didn’t say one word out loud the entire first half.  For those of you who have heard me at a soccer game, you know the impossibility of this miracle.  Vince, who stayed home with the sleeping brothers, received a bunch of text messages like “WTH? He’s still on the bench?!”  At first Vince fed my frustration but then came to his senses and told me to trust the coach.  Sheesh.  I was hot.

Trace started the second half and played all but a quick water break.  He was playing left forward, so he was right in front of me.  I could see him fine.  All was well in the world, I met some of the other families, the team won 5-1 and everyone was happy.

In the car on the way home, after I relayed this story to Trace, he just looked at me and shook his head.  “Mom, I was the first sub and other than water breaks, I played the whole game”.  He told me that I didn’t miss anything in the first half, he was nervous and had a few weenie kicks but he loves playing left-mid.

“What?  I thought you were playing forward?”  “Really Mom? We play a 4-4-2 line up, I played left midfield the whole game.”  “Oh.”

I seriously have to pay attention.  You would have thought it was my first game. Oh wait, it was my first game…with FC Spokane.

[how I’m going to explain my incopetency the rest of the season is….to be continued…]


Join the Club July 25, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 10:47 pm
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There are some days when my husband’s over zealous research pays off.   That is to say that there are some days when his over zealous research makes me feel like a hamster on a wheel.  Tonight was not that night.  Tonight, thanks to his research, we Unlimited Fun at Red Lion’s Templins Resort on the Spokane River.  Unlimited Fun just saved me a ton of money (renting a boat for 5-8 trips vs buying and storing and maintaining a boat) and provides, truly, unlimited fun.

Unlimited Fun provides boats to rent (at a great price) on the Spokane River and the nearby Lake Coeur D’Alene.  Plus we get VIP privileges for unlimited use of their stand up paddleboards (SUPs) and Kayak/SUP hybrids and access to their private beach.

If that isn’t enough, on Thursday nights Red Lion Templins Resort offers an all-you-can-eat BBQ, live classic rock/county mix music, full bar and dancing.  Yee-haw!

Folks, if I haven’t sold you on this incredible deal yet, here’s a testimonial from their newest 7 year old member (my son Andre):

“This place has BBQ, live music, ice cream, and tons of stuff for us to do, we should just live here, it is paradise.”

Andre is serious.  He is willing to give up video games every day if we will take him to the river.  Andre was paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, boating and chowing down on BBQ today. If you’ve read my posts up to this point, this is not my youngest child’s typical behavior.  He broke his mold and found himself in seventh heaven.  Or, he just aged 60 years and is ready for retirement.

When we left the house tonight after work, our plan was to just check it out and maybe take a dip in the river.  We packed bathing suits and towels and headed out the door.  I had made a pot of beans this morning for bean and cheese burritos for dinner.  We were set for a relatively quick out and back trip.  We told the kids, “Get in the car, we’re going to Idaho”.  That’s a phrase I never thought I’d ever say, even living here it feels odd.  To Idaho we went.

Then we got there.  The Idaho panhandle is ridiculously beautiful at every turn.  We have been going to Lake Coeur D’Alene and with each visit in constant awe. Today we stopped in Post Falls, a town on the Spokane River that started as a sawmill owned by a man named Post.   Lake Coeur D’Alene drains into the Spokane River before emptying into the Columbia River at Roosevelt Lake approximately 112 miles downstream.

Red Lion Templins Resort is 10 highway miles west of Lake Coeur D’Alene on the Spokane River.  The beach and river fun is unsuspecting as you park on the hill above and walk down to the marina.  The wide clear water river spreads out before you with a mountain on the other side, dotted with mega-houses with private docks.  There is a boat launch and marina and resort services, boat and jet ski rentals, SUP and kayak/SUP hybrid rentals an a snack shack and bathrooms.  A private beach with a grass volleyball court is just east of the marina.

For the few weeks we have left of summer [the locals tell me this high 90 degree heat isn’t going to last forever, only until mid September, enjoy it while it lasts], this is our summertime fun package.  Boat, check. Trying new things, check.  Easy access beach with amenities, check. All of the kids love it, check.  Mom and dad are happy, check.  The downside is that we don’t explore all of the surrounding lakes.  We’ll get there.  We will eventually buy a boat, just not yet. Renting a boat is perfect solution to get us off our butts on the beach and out exploring on the water.

Our month of August is jammed packed with activity.  Our daughter, Jessica, arrives on the 31st for 10 days and we are all super excited.  She loves to SUP and the boys can’t wait to SUP with her.  We all can’t wait to share our adventures with her.  Right after she leaves, we have our twelve year old buddy, Kyle, coming to visit for a week.  He will not want to go home with all the thrills and excitement we have planned during his visit.

One thing for sure, our dog days of summer will be spent on and in the water.



A Losing Race July 24, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 10:41 pm
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On your mark.  Get set.  Go!

Running as fast as possible, I know I’m aging and slowing down when I can not beat them in a 50 m foot race.   The kids are getting older and stronger as I get older and weaker.  I can easily mow down my 9 and 7-year-old, though they are squirrely.  They don’t run straight and I usually trip over them and fall down or step on them after they fall down.  My 18-year-old daughter is capable of lapping me before I cross the line, as she runs as effortlessly as a thoroughbred horse, the freak.  When we run together, she runs backwards and talks to me while I chug along. [frustrating!]  I release her from the torture and she sprints off.  We text a meeting place and she runs backwards and chats the rest of the way home.  Yes, in case you’re wondering, I am proudly capable of texting and a very slow jog.

Tonight I raced my 12-year-old and nearly caught him in the end.  Sure he just had a strong hour and a half soccer practice in 95 degree heat.  Maybe he was tired, but I’ve got 32 years on him and a few extra pounds AND I didn’t even warm up or stretch before hand.  It’s a wonder I didn’t hurt myself.

Not catching him, not passing him I should say, has motivated me to wake up earlier tomorrow, lace up my shoes and get running.   There is most likely no chance that I’ll ever catch up to him.  That’s ok.  Knowing his mom is hot on his heals is motivation enough for HIM to run faster.  Let’s call it strategy, I may be helping him run faster but I’m running a losing race against him..

He has grown past my running level.  He has outgrown my swimming abilities too.  We were at Lake Coeur D’Alene this past weekend.  We play a swimming game where someone throws a volleyball as far into the lake as possible and two swimmers have to swim to the ball and swim back with the ball to be declared winner.  I prefer to race the younger two because I have a chance.  My husband and 12-year-old are strong swimmers.  Swimming isn’t my favorite event, in fact it is my worst event.  I’m a lounge on a raft, sit on the beach, read a book kinda gal.  I love being in the water, just where I can touch and nothing is touching me with simple floats and easy, non-race, above and underwater, swims.

On Sunday, my 12-year-old challenged me to a swim race.  Apparently he needed the ego boost.  I accepted the challenge.  I won the first race only because I was clearly losing so I pulled down his pants and gained the lead.  You’re officially forewarned if we’re ever swim racing together, I swim to win.  He called foul for some unknown reason and we had to race again.  He kept his distance and claimed victory.  I claimed exhaustion only recoverable by lounging and reading.  [insert husband eye roll here]

My kids have been disappointed when I return from a 5K to learn that I didn’t “win” the race.  With running, I’m not trying to win the race against others, I only try to win the race against myself and my issues.  Unless, of course, I’m racing against my kids then, issues aside,  I leave it all on the track.  [insert laugh track here].


A rain check has been issued on our 13th anniversary.  Our day got away from us and we had workers in the house until 8 PM.  Yesterdays’ post is “to be continued”.




Baker’s Dozen July 23, 2013

Happy 13th Anniversary to my husband and me!  A Baker’s Dozen sounds much better than the Dirty Dozen we celebrated last year.  I didn’t post last night because I couldn’t find the photo that I wanted to post.  Grr.  The photo was from our family trip to Palm Springs.  We rented a house, left Jess and the boys and went to dinner at Johanne’s.  We had one of the best meals of our lives for anniversary #12. This is a photo from 2011, we spent our 11th anniversary going to the gym (before we started dating, we were workout buddies), getting facials (which explains my shiny no makeup face – Vince grew up with 3 sisters, he is spa savvy), eating sushi and going to the OC Fair.


This is one of my favorite photos from our wedding (photo credit:  Mark Beat).  We were married at the Ritz Carlton, Dana Point in a buddhist ceremony (see my buddhist prayer beads on my hand) on an incredibly hot, still day.

wedding bw

Jessica was 4 years old and our beautiful flower girl.  My mom made her dress, my sister arranged all the flowers.

wedding jess

We’re not sure what we’re doing tonight.  The boys have had lots of ideas all weekend. Andre suggested we leave immediately on a cruise, dropping them off at the airport so Trace and Niko can fly to their friends, Kyle and Ryan’s house and he would fly to his friend Lachlan’s house.  Bon Voyage!  Niko, a traditionalist, suggested dinner and a movie.  Trace had no recommendations but loves to tell our engagement story, which he finds hilarious.

We met Vince’s sister and brother-in-law in San Francisco.  They were flying home from Oahu, Hawaii with an extended layover in San Francisco.  His brother-in-law had never been to San Francisco and we gave them a full tour. Vince and I spent many (at least 10) weekends in San Francisco in the two years prior as I worked with the San Francisco Starbucks Development team.  My Monday morning meetings conveniently created weekend trips to San Francisco.  Our trips were budget conscience is boutique hotels.  This trip we all stayed at the incredibly stunning, historic Palace Hotel. That night, at dinner at a restaurant I can’t remember the name, we clinked our wine glasses in a toast and I, naturally, dropped my full glass of cabernet on the table.  The glass shattered and the entire contents spilled on to Vince’s sister’s lap.  I was mortified!  She, thankful to be wearing black, took the disaster in stride, mopped up the mess and we continued with dinner. Christening his sister must have been the nudge Vince needed, he proposed that night.

Vince’s family flew home and we continued our travels to Seattle to celebrate our engagement.

Here we are, thirteen years later, in love.