multi-hyphenated-me

the hyphens that define my life

Year End December 31, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 11:31 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

2013 is in its final hour here in the Inland Northwest and what a year it has been.

This blog is a reflection of one of last year’s resolutions.  I didn’t blog every day as planned, but I did manage to post 175 times, including this post.  Wow.  Thank you to my friends who encourage me to continue writing and thank you to the hundred unknown to me people who follow my blog.  I appreciate your support more than I could ever express.

I resolved to do more art, which did happen early in the year, but then fell flat.

With good reason, we decided to move to Spokane and that put a spanner into all other plans, for the better.

We are so happy with our decision to move.  Everyday our decision is confirmed and we are on the path we should be walking.

What a year it has been, indeed. And now it is over.

Thank you 2013.

What will 2014 bring?  I can’t wait to find out!

For everyone I wish a year filled with good health, wise decisions, and much love.

My resolutions this year are rolled into one:  to choose right over wrong.  Doesn’t this apply to everything?  Eat right, exercise more, lose weight, read more, do, be, act, have, love…it all falls under the umbrella of doing the right thing.  Do the right thing.  Not a new concept, but a good new year’s resolution, for me.

Whatever you resolve to do or be or have or accomplish in 2014, may the road rise to meet you and the wind be at your back.

Happy New Year!!

Advertisements
 

Christmas Cookies Part 2

Filed under: Cooking — multihyphenatedme @ 6:36 pm
Tags: , ,

Growing up, my mom didn’t bake cookies during the year, but come Christmas, she baked every cookie you could imagine.  My mom’s cookies are good.  Great.  Nostalgically awesome and I love every single one of them.

Of course she ships cookies to me despite the fact that I bake some 1600 cookies every year myself.  Even with all of the cookies in our house, we love receiving my mom’s box of cookies!  She didn’t make as many varieties as she normally does each year but she managed to pull off quite a feat considering my sister has been in and out of the hospital three times in two weeks leading up to and through the holidays.  (All is well with my sister, just in the post-honeymoon phase of the bone marrow transplant with some added heart issues to keep things crazy).

Here’s what my mom made this year:

???????????????????????????????

Growing up, these Chocolate Peppermint Drops were my favorite.  A chocolate walnut cookie with a light peppermint frosting.

???????????????????????????????

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies.  These are new to my mom’s repertoire, maybe within the last 10 years.  My youngest LOVES these cookies.

???????????????????????????????

Coconut Almond.  These are the cookies I want to hate but love.  They look so boring yet they are flavorful and damn delicious.  Curse you coconut almond cookies!

???????????????????????????????

French Cookies.  This is the cookie that is the only duplicate in my mom’s and my cookie list.  This year my recipe didn’t turn out half as good as her French Cookie.  These are incredible.  A lot of people asked if this is a Sable.  No, it’s a French Cookie.  More like a Specaloo spice cookie with walnuts.

???????????????????????????????

Mincemeat.  I hated these cookies growing up.  Bleh.  Now, I have yet to meet a cookie I don’t love, Mincemeat included.  Do you know what mincemeat is?  Martha Stewart provides not one but two recipes for Mincemeat in her Martha Stewart Cookbook.  There is the meat version with ground beef chuck, apples, beef suet, raisins, currents, cherries, brandy molasses and every yummy cookie spice; there is a no-meat, but beef suet and walnut version with the same ingredients as above…and she provides a no-meat mincemeat made with green tomatoes.  Mincemeat is wacky but this year it is my favorite cookie. My mom just buys the premade jar of mincemeat in the baking section of the grocery store.

???????????????????????????????

Molasses Crinkles.  This is my other favorite childhood Christmas cookie.  Memories of yummy happiness.

???????????????????????????????

Russian Teacakes.  These little balls of butter, nuts and powdered sugar are fantastic.

???????????????????????????????

Toffee Bars.  This is the closest thing I ate to a chocolate chip cookie growing up.  I told my kids this and they balked, “what? you didn’t have homemade chocolate chip cookies all the time like we do?”  My kids are so spoiled.

Cookie plates.  It’s what we do.  Bake, wrap and deliver a plate of love.

Thanks Mom!

 

Mountain Sherpa December 30, 2013

Filed under: Family — multihyphenatedme @ 10:13 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

The family suited up before dawn to head out to Silver Mountain today for our first Inland Northwest ski experience. My gear was packed, I was ready, yet I was still on the fence whether to ski or not, unsure of my abilities and lack of desire to roll end over end down the mountain.

Silver Mountain is an hour away, straight east on the freeway.  No mountain roads other than 4th of July Pass on the freeway.  Once you arrive in Kellogg Idaho, a 25 minute gondola ride takes you to the lodge and lifts.

We were cruising along, everything going according to plan, until our middle son got car sick.  Thankfully he gave enough notice so we could pull over and he could barf in the snow on the side of the road.  He has never gotten car sick until we moved here.  Now he has developed the habit of looking out the side window the entire length of the drive and gets sick every time. Every. single. time.

When we arrived, it was decided I would sit with our carsick kid until he recovered and felt well enough to ski.  He had no issues in the gondola ride, though I thought our oldest son was going to join the barf brigade with the rocking motion of the gondola.  When the guys were suiting up, our youngest decided his brand new crash helmet didn’t fit him, even though it totally fit him perfect two days prior when we mounted his GoPro cam to the top of his helmet.  He was in a rage today over not having a helmet.  I thought I’d solve this issue quick by renting a helmet and sending him on his way.  No such luck.  He had himself worked into a tizzy and spent an hour in the lodge with me staring outside (because he didn’t know I had the ipad hidden in my bag) burning his brain with boredom.

Watching his younger brother melt down was motivation for our middle son to have a miraculous recovery and hit the slopes without any rest.  My husband and the two older boys went out with words of caution (but have fun) from me, the Mountain Sherpa, as I patiently waited out our youngest son’s dilemma.  After an hour, he ended up wearing the rental helmet and headed out with his dad and brothers.

My Mountain Sherpa duties included going back and forth to the locker, managing gear, buying hot chocolates, managing kids, ordering food, drinking a Bloody Mary, taking photographs, losing my wallet, finding my wallet (it was in my bag the entire time, silly me [insert husband exasperation and wife triumph here]), writing three blog posts (though I’m too tired to post them all now), getting rentals (the helmet and our oldest son forgot his poles – duh!), returning rentals, paying for tubing time, hiking up and down the bunny hill to videotape our youngest snowboard shredder, and climbing 3 levels of stairs more times than I could count to make this all happen and conversing with anyone wanting to talk.  It’s not easy being a Mountain Sherpa.  The good news is that I didn’t fall down once.

My intuition was correct, the mountain was WAY beyond my skill level. The ski areas are really narrow, I need room for big, wide turns, and really steep.  Yikes! I don’t handle steep well.  The boys totally had fun and had no issues, but prefer wider space.  I think more time spent on this mountain would build a comfort level, but not for me.

Once we conquered car sickness and obnoxious melt down, we put in a full day on the mountain.  We were on the slopes by 9 AM and back on the freeway by 4:30 PM.  We had fun and we are exhausted.  Photos will have to post later.

 

Ski Production December 29, 2013

Filed under: Family — multihyphenatedme @ 10:09 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Getting a family of five and sometimes six ready for ski season is no easy endeavor.  Growing kids only add to the chaos.

We moved to Spokane for many reasons, one definite reason was the winter activities, namely skiing, that Spokane and surrounding areas offer.

In years past, we made an annual trek to Tahoe-Donner near Lake Tahoe for a week-long family ski adventure.  We opted not to ski at local mountains due to crowds and crappy conditions.  A few hours away, Mammoth Mountain was too expensive and out of our skill level.  Correction, out of my skill level and I’ll include the kids to make me feel better.  We chose to drive 9 hours to Tahoe Donner to ski for its family friendly approach, no crowds, great deals and easy terrain, perfect for us beginners.  Though it was perfect in so many ways, we still had a sizeable cash outlay for a one week “ski season.”

Spokane offers five ski resorts within two hours of our front door, Mt. Spokane; 49 degrees north; Schweitzer, Silver Mountain and Lookout Pass.  Our ski season has instantly expanded from one week to the entire winter season.

We intentionally have not hit the slopes yet, due to school and work schedules, holiday demands and low snowfall.  It has been reported that Spokane is fifteen inches below normal snowfall.  For our first winter, we are thrilled.  There is plenty of snow and ice on the ground and cold temperatures for our first Spokane winter.

With the kids on Winter Break and my husband and I taking vacation days this week, the time to start skiing is now.

Because our ski season has only been one week long in years past and the kids are growing, we have always rented gear for the kids, my husband and I have had skis and boots for years.  This year, with guaranteed use, everyone gets gear.  My husband is DONE renting gear and dealing with that hassle.  He has been on a Craigslist used gear buying mission over the past couple of weeks and scored some incredible deals.  With every purchase, the kids are psyched and ready.  Thankfully, parkas and snow pants still fit from last year.  Everyone received new crash helmets for Christmas as well, so now we’re set.

The kids are going to be in shock when we get to Silver Mountain.

This is Tahoe Donner:

tahoe donner

Easy.  You know this mountain and all of the runs quickly.

Here’s Silver Mountain:

silver mtn

Huge difference.  You have to take a 25 minute gondola ride from the parking lot to the lifts.  Silver Mountain is going to take some getting used too.

Here’s the thing.  There always has to be a thing.  The thing is that I’m scared. Me.  I didn’t learn to ski until I was in my 30’s and speed has never been something I’ve desired.  I liked our old slow and easy mountain. Really, it was a bunny hill, not a mountain.   I have huge ski anxiety right now.  Without saying anything, my husband and boys know I’m afraid.  They’ve seen me ski.  They lap me down the mountain and are back on the lift before I make it down the hill.  I ski s.l.o.w. My kids ask why I even bother to ski.  I can’t answer this question.  I do love being outside, I do love seeing my family having a blast and ripping it up.  I just don’t share their love for speed and lack their athleticism and agility.  Plus, I have further to fall and I don’t like falling.

I mentioned I might take a lesson to get my bearings.  My husband told me (after having paid for years of lessons), “you don’t need a lesson, you know how to ski, you just have to do it.”  Eek.  I want someone to hold my hand and make sure I do what I’m supposed to do.  My husband has two boys skiing and one snow boarding to contend with, he has no time to coddle me.  Plus, my husband has skied for 40 years, skis forward, backward, does tricks and loves bombing the hill.  So I’m skiing solo.  Wah!  I understand the real issue, I’m a control freak.  I like controlling my environment.  Putting me on a sharp edged, waxed slick pair of skis on a down hill slope is not a controlled environment.   I mentioned to my husband that I think cross-country skiing would be better suited for me, and he agreed.  No cross country skiing at Silver.  Sigh.

So far I’ve only committed to skiing in the afternoon, taking the morning to act as the Sherpa at Base Camp to make sure everyone is lined out, having fun and uninjured after their morning ski.  After lunch, maybe I’ll join them.  Maybe I’ll take a lesson.  Maybe I’ll just maintain base camp and bring a book.  Sitting outside in the sun all day with a book has always been my speed. Then again, maybe I’ll ski…wish me luck.

 

Good Old Boy December 27, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 9:47 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Getting old is a bitch.

Your muscles atrophy.

Your hair goes gray.

Your get up and go, got up and went and left you tired and weary.

Your joints are achy and misaligned.

Your eyesight and hearing are failing.

And if that isn’t enough, your bladder loses it’s capacity to retain.  Maybe it isn’t bladder failure, maybe your kegel stopped working.  Either way, incontinence has come to stay.

No, I’m not referring to me!  Thanks a lot for that assumption.

I’m talking about our good old dog who, at 14 years old, is on the downward slope of old age.  The vet called it, “in his advanced years”. Fourteen in dog years is 91 years old.  He looks old, he acts old, the poor old boy is old.

On Christmas Day is when his bladder started playing tricks.  We thought it was the excitement of the morning but a couple of additional accidents prove that theory wrong. With heightened awareness, we’re changing our schedules to meet his increased need for outside potty time, making sure we’re not leaving him alone for long periods of time and taking care of our old friend.

Here is a picture of him at our first Christmas surrounded by his gifts.  His coat so black and shiny, his eyes so crisp and clear.

young pup

Now, his black hair is turning white and gray, the shine replaced by dullness, his eyes rummy and tired.  I did wake him to take this picture tonight, he wasn’t happy.

old boy

This old boy of ours has had a good life.  My daughter and I double-teamed my husband and told him we were getting a dog.  He said “No, we live in a condo and we are not getting a little dog.” We were determined, our like minds were set.  While dove hunting on our friend’s farm in Blythe, my husband came back to the farmhouse to tell us that he “met a dog.” The way he said “I met a dog” was so heartfelt you would think he said “I met the woman of my dreams.”  He was smitten.  The dog was a stray picked up by our friend’s friend and was just kept until someone claimed him or he ran away.  Blythe is in the middle of the desert and is often a freeway drop for unwanted dogs.  Dogs also turn up missing there from hunting expeditions where the dog gets spooked and run.  Our dog is definitely gun-shy so we think this is the case.

We went to the women’s house to meet the dog.  The dog was super excited and happy to see us.  My daughter, then age 5, walked up to the dog and told him to sit.  He sat.  She smiled.  He then automatically offered his paw to shake, but instead of extending his paw straight out, he swung his arm around as if to high-five her and ended up scratching her arm from shoulder to wrist.  She cried.

My husband said, “That’s it, this dog is too big for you, we’re done.”  She wiped away her tears, stomped her foot and said, “No, I want this dog, I love him.”  Look who won.

The dog was riddled with ticks and fleas.  We got that immediately under control, took him to the vet to learn he was just five or six months old and had a lot of growing left to do.  We kennel trained him and loved him as any family could love their newest addition.  He had been named “Dale” after Dale Earnhardt Jr. and responded to the name so we kept it, adding Anthony as his middle name.  Dale Anthony was our dog.

When we first got him, we lived in a condo at Placentia Lakes.  He quickly learned to open the screen door with his paw to bound through the shallow water to chase the resident ducks. The HOA loved us. We then moved to Parks Arizona where, before we put up the fence, and even a lot of times afterward, he roamed for miles, chasing elk and deer and catching jack rabbits and digging up moles.  Dale did his fair share of visiting the neighbors too getting into his fair share of trouble too.  In Parks he also had run-ins with skunks and a couple of porcupines just to keep him in check.  Back in Placentia, his life mellowed to scaring a mail lady just by his girth so she refused to deliver mail to our door, we had to get a post office box.  He travelled with us everywhere, or stayed with Grandma in San Pedro.  His favorite trips were to any river or lake where he could just lie in the cool water.   His favorite game was catch, but not return the ball, having too much fun playing keep away.

Now in Spokane, his greatest nemesis is the stairs just to get in and out of the house.  We have a ramp to lessen his effort in the backyard but he’s a front yard kind of guy.  He likes to hang out and watch the world go by.  He is visited by the young and rambunctious neighbor dogs and occasionally will muster up a gallop around the yard. He carries around his stuffed pig or hedgehog and sleeps with them most days. There are a lot of stories of his antics in between and he’s made a lot of friends along the way.

Our lives have never been the same since he came into our lives and they won’t be the same when he’s gone.  For now, we’re just taking care of this good old boy and loving him for each day we have with him.

 

Christmas Past December 26, 2013

Filed under: Life — multihyphenatedme @ 1:05 pm
Tags: , , , ,

It took all of my strength, but I refrained from blogging, posting, and checking email for three days.  I did creep on Facebook to see pictures and “like” my friends posts, photos and adventures.  I was on vacation, no work, no posts, just family, fun and enjoying the holidays. Holiday almost-unplugged.

I shopped.  I cleaned my house.  I cooked and cooked and wrapped and wrapped.  I delivered cookie plates like a jolly old elf.  As a result we experienced some Christmas Miracles (not the King James version…strictly our family version).

When you cook and obsess about food as much as I do, finding a good butcher is second to none.  Though I’ve known of this butcher for a few months, I never made it to his store, for no reason other than being off my beaten path, I hadn’t ventured that direction.  In search of a prime rib roast for our Christmas Eve festivities, I ventured forth and lo and behold, it was as though the heavens opened and light shone down on this little butcher shop.  Competency and quality is all it takes to make me happy and this shop delivers.  They know their customers and knew I was new.  They questioned why I had never been to their shop and when I explained I was new to Spokane, they challenged why it took me so long to find my way there, for which I had no answer.  Well played butcher man, well played.  As if I needed any new motivation to cook, I now have it, my new friend, the butcher.  For the record, the prime rib was the best prime rib we have ever had in life.  In life.  Of course I took the credit for my awesome cooking skills, but it was the butcher providing excellent quality meat.  Although simple, a good butcher is not easy to find, so for me, this was one of our Christmas Miracles.

From previous posts you know I have to take vacation days from work to get my house clean.  I’m not talking every day maintenance cleaning, I’m talking about C.L.E.A.N.  Golden Rule:  Santa doesn’t deliver to a messy house.  I played Drill Sergeant and rallied the troops for a team approach that got the job done quick.  Without fail, either prior to cleaning or mid-clean, someone will come over for an unexpected visit, finding the contents of a closet in the middle of the room, finding the house torn apart as we attempt to put it back together, or just a straight-up damn mess.  Our Christmas Miracle #2 was our neighbors arrived with gifts AFTER we were done AND I was showered and pulled together.  My floors were mopped, the bathrooms were clean, the animal cages and beds were cleaned, AND I was clean.  This does not happen.  Ever.

Our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were happy and fun, festive and exciting and everything they should be.  Our Christmas Miracles #3 and #4 came in the form of Christmas naps.  I’m not talking about my husband, Sir Naps-A-Lot.  Christmas Miracle #3 occurred after presents were opened, Christmas Breakfast eaten, and Sir Naps-A-Lot laid on the couch with our eight-year-old and our eight-year-old took a noontime nap.  Our sons’ weight on my husband made his leg go numb so Sir Naps-A-Lot couldn’t sleep but he dutifully held our son and let him sleep so the entire house was at peace.  Our son hasn’t napped since he was two.  If this wasn’t a direct gift from God, I don’t know what is.  Except perhaps, Christmas Miracle #4 in which I took a 2 hour nap smack in the middle of Christmas Day.  I don’t nap on any given day, let alone Christmas.  With my husband and youngest napping, I seized the rare moment and slept.

While I saw that my friends on Facebook received fancy purses and bling from their husbands for Christmas, I want all of you to know that I received a crash helmet from my husband.  It’s a very nice crash helmet and I truly love the color, style and soft plush liner.  Plus, the crash helmet coordinates with my ski ensemble nicely.  My husband, incahoots with the boys, told me that the helmet is to keep me safe in future wipeouts, though, they all laughed, they are still worried about everyone else on the mountain.  No Christmas Miracle in the hilarity of my loving family.

Our Christmas ended with our cockatiels discovering the popcorn (one of their favorite treats) on the Christmas tree.  Keep your partridge in your pear tree.  A cockatiel in a pine tree is way more festive.

???????????????????????????????

Four Christmas Miracles, a crash helmet and a cockatiel, ho ho ho add some egg nog to that rum!

Vacation and lunch are over….back to work!!

 

Project Cookie 2013 Complete December 22, 2013

I’m baked out.  Done.  Here’s why:

???????????????????????????????

Baklava.  Walnuts, honey, cinnamon, sugar phyllo dough and butter.  My twelve year old would eat the entire pan if I let him.

???????????????????????????????

Buckeyes.  Gluten Free and Vegan.  Whoop Whoop!  A Buckeye is a chestnut family tree that produces this little inedible and Ohio’s claim to fame.  Ohioans created this candy out of peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and chocolate.  My eight year old believes he should be able to count devouring as many of these as possible for his protein intake.  I like the way he thinks, but no way.

???????????????????????????????

Cinnamon Log Slices.  These looked like a sliced russet potato and are pretty boring if you just try one.  But if you sit down with a cup of tea or coffee with these, then yum.  The cinnamon laced cookie is rolled in cocoa powder and cinnamon prior to baking.  These will not make next year’s Christmas Cookie cut.

???????????????????????????????

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread.  These are the family all-time favorite cookie.  If I could force myself to only make one kind of cookie at Christmas, this is the one.  This is a Martha Stewart recipe that never fails.  The secret is the fresh grated ginger and hidden chocolate chips.  Spicy, sweet and chocolatey goodness.

???????????????????????????????

Carnation Fudge with Walnuts.  I used to have a great fudge recipe and lost it (DB, if you have it message me please).  This year, we tried two fudge recipes.  Carnations evaporated milk recipe on the label with mini marshmallows and the recipe found on the jar of marshmallow fluff.  As reported above, the marshmallow fluff recipe was dry and chalky.  The Carnation recipe turned out nice and creamy. Two thumbs up.

???????????????????????????????

Coconut Macaroons.  I made this recipe last year and my husband loved them.  This year, he’s iffy. I love toasted coconut and these, I think, are great.

???????????????????????????????

Hrostule.  (Her-stah-la).  This is the cookie I swear I will never make ever again, occasionally swearing at the dough.  Then my husband walks into the kitchen while I’m pitching my fit and says, “Oh Hrostule, this is why I love you,” and I’m signed up for another year.  This year there wasn’t much drama, after 14 years of making this cookie, I think I’ve figured it out.  Six eggs, 1/4 c. whiskey, 1/2 c. butter, melted, 1 tsp anise, 1 T. vanilla, 4.5 c. flour, vegetable oil for frying.  Mix all the ingredients.  Working in small batches, roll dough very thin (this is where the swearing starts), cut into strips (I use a pastry cutter), and tie each piece into a knot.  THEN, once all the dough has been rolled, cut and tied, fry in 350 degree oil until just begins to turn golden at edges.  THEN coat in powdered sugar. Start to finish, today’s batch took me 1.5 hours.  These cookies appear at every event from my wedding to the birth of my children to any random occasion.  Hrostule will be on all future cookie lists.

???????????????????????????????

French Cookie.  This is my mom’s recipe, maybe my grandmother’s recipe.  I followed the recipe.  I’ve made this cookie at my mom’s house growing up.  I know this cookie.  Yet for some reason, it didn’t turn out right.  Something’s missing and I don’t know what.  My twelve year old LOVES this cookie too.

???????????????????????????????

Peppermint Meringue with Dark Chocolate Ganache.  My nine year old is obsessed with meringues.  He was very excited to help make these, but by helping I learned he only meant eating them.  Easy, but oven hogs as meringues cook low and slow.  This recipe is definitely a keeper. Oh, and the dark chocolate ganache is so damn good I almost crawled into the closet with the whole bowl and a spoon.  I didn’t but it was a close call.

???????????????????????????????

Palmiers.  These are the easiest cookie.  Pre-made puff pastry dough, filled with sugar, rolled and sliced.  Simple.  My husband and youngest boy decided they are going to France to test the authenticity of my Palmiers.  Bring it.

???????????????????????????????

Shaker Lemon Bars.  For my girl.  These are the best lemon bars you will ever have.  Another Martha Stewart recipe that uses the entire lemon in the filling.  The crust is a spectacular shortbread.

???????????????????????????????

Sugar Cut Outs.  The quintessential Christmas cookie.  We have 12 different cookie cutters that we use.  This year, a lady in front of me at the grocery store told me that she had special ordered mini M & M’s so she could decorate her Christmas tree cookies with M & M’s.  I thought the boys would love that idea and bought some mini M & M’s. Not a good idea.  My boys, husband included, gave the full body Santa cookie nuts (below the belt line) with the mini M & M’s.  Oh, they thought they were a damn riot.  Me, not so much.

???????????????????????????????

Ruthy’s Apricot Walnut Rugelach from Chelsea Market.  During my recent New York City trip, I purchased the Chelsea Market cookbook and attempted making rugelach for the first time.  Of the eight dozen I made, the first four were disasters – not to eat, only to look at – as I overfilled them with goodness.  The last four dozen turned out beautifully.  This is the best breakfast cookie and the recipe is a keeper.

???????????????????????????????

Pistachio Almond White Chocolate Biscotti.  Meh.  I made this last year and couldn’t remember this year if I liked it or not so I made it again.  Never again.  Not bad but not fantastic.  I aim higher than this cookie delivers.

cookie plates 2013

Then, as if the baking took no time and effort whatsoever, the cookies get wrapped up and delivered.  Some homemade Christmas magic. And, plenty of magic left at home for my sweets to devour.

I hope your Christmas is sweet.