Thursday, August 30, 2007

You need one

Yesterday evening the cute hubby and I joined forces on saving a wonderful friend of ours from the depths of overkittenization. What is overkittenization you ask? It is a horrible, terrible state, typically caused by long periods of exposure to overly cute kittens, excessive amounts of sleep deprivation and a general lack of all things chic and fashionable such as late night ice cream devouring sessions and meals with fun and entertaining people outside the house. Symptoms include an increased appetite for chips, a focus on mathematical formulas and bathroom habits and a desire to wear only yoga pants.

With our years of experience, we quickly determined the only way to save my dear friend from the horrible fate in which she was trapped was to steal her away from the clutches of the 10 cats (yes, I said 10 cats) and force her to ingest excessive amounts of cheap Italian food and make witty conversation.

It was a dangerous and challenging mission, fraught with rapid fire quips and educated judgments. Late night rations of waffle bowls and chocolate were required but luckily with our experience we knew to come prepared.

Fortunately we were able to catch the disease in it's early stages and our applied treatment was successful. In such case that the above treatment were not successful, large amounts of vodka and dancing would have been required to save her from the horrible fate.

Below are case study photos of subjects under the spell of the dreaded host animals.

Beware - the images below are highly sensitive and may cause intense feelings known as need-to-have-one-right-now. In such case these feelings do occur, immediately contact KAR for the required antidote.

Proceed at your own risk.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

No rest for the wicked

I'm looking for a job. Anyone know of any good prospects?

Love - an update

Monday night I was hit with a wild craving for turkey burgers on the grill - and what goes better with a grill than squash.

They were fantastic - very similar in flavor to yellow summer squash but with a few more seeds and a slightly thicker skin. I dressed them with a little olive oil and sea salt - delish!

Going bananas

As part of my gardening fever, I've become slightly obsessed with collecting new and different species of plants, especially those that are native to Michigan or are just plain wild and fun. So last Saturday when I was browsing at the Farmer's Market I couldn't resist this little (ok not really little) delight.

It's an ornamental banana! I've heard they can actually produce bananas but I'm in love with it's spotted foliage either way. It nearly fills my crafts room so hopefully I'll be able to move it outside next year where I can enjoy it - and my neighbors can too!

A little piece of paradise

Last night I had the pleasure of touring a private garden with the garden club I just joined. Being a aspiring gardener myself, I was in awe - not just of the sheer size of their garden and landscaping but of the magnitude of maintenance it must require. After having grown up in the country, I've never been excited to go back, but seeing what they've done with the space they have really had me wishing for more than my small city lot boundaries.

Here are a few pictures to give you a tiny taste of what it was like.

The pond above is the lower of two ponds, fed by a small brook that falls over a small waterfall into the pool (see left hand corner of photo). Both ponds are full of small carp - I even saw a few frogs resting the on lillypads of the upper pond.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder?

This is a super interesting site and video - really makes you think about the lengths we go to trying to measure up to the (impossible) standards of beauty we've created.

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'm in love

Aren't they the cutest things you've ever seen? I saw them at the Bank Street Farmer's Market this afternoon and just couldn't resist them. I have no idea how I'm going to prepare them but I'll keep you updated.

I'm super excited for the upcoming Harvest Fest - it's being held at Tillers and features great great entertainment, exhibitions and a celebration of local food and farming. There's even a week long celebration of local food called Eat Local, Kalamazoo! I'm definitely going to be checking the events out - including the book signing at KPS by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon for their book "PLENTY: One Man, One Woman and a Raucous Year of Eating".

Also on my horizon - the Master Gardener class beginning early September. I dropped off my soil samples today and am looking forward to getting the results.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Girlie Food

Let's say your husband is working the night shift on a big project, it's hot as a griddle outside and your local farmer's market had the most beautiful beets on display...what would you do?

Well I don't know what you'd do, but I'd make bortsch.

Alright, I'll admit, I was a little skeptical at first too. I'd seen it on a rerun of Barefoot Contessa and was intrigued by it's vivid color and ability to be served cold. It's been so humid here and I've been craving lighter suppers and drinking everything in sight. But is that weird pink soup is actually going to taste good? Ina was in character and excited about it. What the heck? I'm culinarily adventurous.

I was thankfully pleasantly surprised (a good thing because my backup plan was hotdogs at the Rootbeer Stand, and you know how good those things are for you). The soup is sweet, with a thin broth and mild tang from the vinegar and lemon juice. The sour cream adds a richness and creaminess and the cucumbers add a slight nice crunch. I even had seconds.

A quick warning note: Beet juice stains turns everything it touches a rich pinkpurple color, so dress accordingly for preparation.

Recipe adapted from the Barefoot Contessa.

5 medium beets
2 cups chicken stock (I used homemade)
16 oz sour cream + extra for garishing (I used lowfat)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons champange vinegar
2 cups diced cucumber, seeds removed
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill + extra for garnishing (I used ~ 1 tablespoon dried)

Bring beets to a boil in salted water. Boil for 30 - 40 minutes until beets can be pierced easily by a knife. Remove beets from cooking liquid (reserve cooking liquid) and cool beets until they're comfortable to handle (I stuck them in the freezer for a few minutes), then peel off skins. Cut into medium dice and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine chicken stock, ~ 1 1/2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid, sour cream, sugar, vinegar and dill. Whisk to combine. Add chopped beets, cucumber, scallions and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and additional chopped dill before serving.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Yesterday we had my sister's baby shower (she's due early Oct.).

The Happy Parents


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hell's kitchen and for a good time...

See that above? That's the devil's handiwork. I've put up a fence, let the dog hang out in the backyard and mercilessly chased every small critter I can find out of the yard but nothing is keeping whatever it is from eating my beautiful bounty. Grrr.....

On a much happier and less murderous note, I took my friend Stella to Jungle Joe's .
I've been hearing what a great place it is and after checking it out for myself - I believe every word of it. It's only an extra $2 for adults to play too - and I recommend it. Along with some headache medicine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's 5:30 a.m.. I'm wide awake. And I'm unemployed

Awaking at such an early hour isn't such a problem when one has a job. It can actually be kind of nice. Get an early start on the day, finish up early and have time after work to do some extra things you've been meaning to.

But when you're unemployed, finding yourself awake so early well, sucks. Everything is still closed, it's still dark, there's nothing (worthwhile) on television and you can't call anyone. You're pretty much stuck with yourself. Which wouldn't be so bad, except...early morning tends to be the time I can't turn my brain off. Over and over it likes to ruminate worries, fears and other nasty tidbits I generally can't control, driving me crazy.

It's not that I'm not tired, I am, but it's almost like I'm too tired to not worry. It always ends up me against me -

Jen's brain "what if this? what if that? oh, my gosh what will I do?"
Jen's sense of reality "please, please, for the love of ----, shut up! You're being ridiculous!"
Jen's brain "okay.....but oh no! what about..?"
Jen's sense of reality "stop it. right. now."


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Vacation (again!)

Palmer family vacation 2007