Thursday, September 30, 2004
These look really wonderful! I wish we had smell technology on El Internet.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
After we finished the big incline, I enjoyed the rest of the hike a lot. We saw some cool rock formations and a really beautiful waterfall that cascaded down a slick rock face. Not much wildlife, unless you count a large herd of yelling pre-teen boys who were checking out the caves. One of their leaders muttered to us, "So much for the peace and quiet, eh?" We did see an adorable little squirrel - I think it was a Douglas's squirrel. I felt great as we finished up the hike - my muscles were all relaxed and I felt rejuvenated, as though my blood had traveled through all my capillaries and cleaned them out. Next time, R* and I will go by ourselves so we can keep our own pace and volume, and I will remember to bring a walking stick, because that would've helped a lot.
even texans can see through him
I am quite surprised to read an editorial like this in a Texan newspaper, especially when they endorsed Bush in 2000. This is a well-articulated, non-inflammatory assessment of the differences between Bush and Kerry, and why the editors chose to endorse Kerry.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
custom jeans yay!
I got my first pair of custom jeans from Target yesterday. They fit pretty darn well - I think I will continue to buy them. They're only $35.00 for jeans that are both big enough around and short enough in the legs! What a novelty.
I'm not even sure what to say about this. Besides, if you're going to watch it at work, be careful because it is loud.
Monday, September 27, 2004
this is not a normal workplace
Secondly, I would like to reaffirm that this is one of the most fucked-up workplaces I've ever seen. You may think I'm kidding. But try this on for size: A new salesperson started last Monday, had very little chance to interact with much of anyone other than Thing One COO and Thing Two Salesguy. This morning - one week later - she called Thing One and resigned. And the worst sign of all is that I am neither surprised nor upset by this turn of events. Clearly she was too smart to work here.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
grand theft america
God. How depressing.
This is an amazing comparison that puts the situation in Iraq into perspective for Americans. I heard this morning on NPR that President Poophead is still claiming that everything is going great in Iraq except for a handful of insurgents who are screwing things up for everyone. Seems to me he is full of shit.
itch itch itch
So I'm going to try to limit or eliminate dairy and wheat from my diet, and see if my eczema clears up. So far, I'm not doing that well. Turns out a burrito is made out of a flour tortilla, duh, even if I ask for no cheese and no sour cream. Also? Cake has flour in it. Even yummy banana cake with coconut sauce at Monsoon.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
I am liking all of the products so much that I just ordered a bunch more online! I ordered Marilyn hair treatment (trying to heat up my dark blonde hair), The Strokes styling product, Jungle solid conditioner, Narcotick shower gel, and Sweet Japanese Girl face cleanser. I am a dork. But hopefully a nice-smelling, well-conditioned dork.
In case you were wondering, the coolest thing about Kornblatt's Deli is that there is a cannister of dill pickles on every table. I only had two. Next time, I'll be ready.
how to solve public transit problems
We left on Wednesday around noon. The appraiser guy came by earlier in the morning to inspect the house for the refi I talked about earlier. R* and I had a HUGE fight right after the appraiser left... when he was showing the appraiser around the house, he was telling him all the new things we'd done. He showed him the bathroom and said, "new paint, new toilet, new light fixture, new sink faucet, new sink" and I called out, "It's not a new sink". Because it's, you know, NOT. And obviously so. I was thinking that the appraiser might take R* for an exaggerator, because it's so obvious that the sink is not new. After he left, R* completely tore my head off, saying that if the appraisal came back too low, it was all my fault for making him seem unreliable, etc. Eventually we got packed up and hit the road.
We stopped in Centralia for some lunch and switched drivers. That put me driving into an unfamiliar city, but fortunately the directions I'd printed out were good and we didn't have any trouble getting there. We did however discover that there was no need for us to stop by the record store after all, because they wanted us to go to their other location. Well, drat. So we proceeded to our hotel and checked in and fell asleep. Later we ordered room service and watched a movie. It was quite relaxing.
Thursday we went to Mother's for breakfast - lovely as usual - dropped by the other location of the record store, and then went to Washington Park to see the Japanese Gardens and the Rose Test Gardens. R* had expressed trepidation about the Japanese Garden, thinking that he would be bored to tears. I offered to pay the entrance fee and to leave as soon as he was bored. Turns out he liked it very much and in fact lingered longer than I would have alone. He also felt inspired to talk about creating a Zen garden in our backyard, which I am wholly excited about! The rose gardens were also lovely - I found three varieties that interest me, even though I'm not much of a rose person. They were Royal Amythest, Distant Drums, and Sunsprite. We went back to our hotel and slept for a while, read, and generally chilled out, then went to the restaurant downstairs for dinner. It was a very nice surprise! We shared a caprese salad and some fresh-baked flatbread with roasted garlic and some yummy soft cheese. I had salmon ravioli in a lemony cream sauce and R* had duck two ways - seared breast and leg confit. It had a delicious balsamic fig sauce. We went back upstairs and watched Van Helsing, which is a dreadful movie, but just the ticket if you're tipsy and finding everything amusing.
Friday morning I went down to Peet's to get coffee and scones. We were hanging out in our room - I was reading and R* was checking his email - when he suddenly made a strangled noise of surprise. I glanced up and his mouth was hanging open as though he was in shock. I said "What? What?" and he didn't answer - just turned the computer around to me. And there was an email from our mortgage broker - saying that the appraisal had come back much higher than we'd expected. Like $30,000 higher. I didn't say "I told you so" but I did feel very vindicated in that I did not ruin our finances with my offhand comment about the sink.
Later we went out for lunch and shopping. For lunch, we went to this place called Huber's which has been in business for 125 years. Their specialty is house-roasted turkey. I had a giant turkey leg that came with mashed potatoes and dressing and gravy and veggies and beer bread. No, I didn't eat all of it. R* had a turkey reuben and said it was very good. I love visiting places like that, to try to get a glimpse of the past.
Friday night R*'s band played a show at a jazz club called the Blue Monk. When we first arrived, no one was there. But by the time we had something to eat and they started playing, there were lots of people there! And we didn't know any of them! I know that sounds silly but it's a huge deal to be able to draw a crowd in a city where you don't know anyone.
Saturday morning we ordered room service for breakfast. We checked out of the hotel and drove over to the record store and the band did an in-store performance... while I spent big bucks at Lush. Then three of us went to Kornblatt's Deli for lunch - as I alluded to earlier, that was a lovely experience! I had been feeling kind of shaky and weird since breakfast (too much sugar, I suspect), so I got a cup of chicken & rice soup and a hot bagel sandwich and felt loads better. Good comfort food.
I drove us back to Chehalis where the band played a show at the Matrix Coffeehouse. I had been a little disappointed that there were only about 10 people there, but R* went out during a break and peeked into the other taverns downtown, and there were a total of 5 people in 3 bars! So apparently the Matrix was the hot scene. After the show, R* was completely exhausted and could hardly keep his eyes open, and I was unexpectedly bright-eyed and wide awake. So I drove us home and turned down the bed for R* to flop into. I'm a good wife.
Monday, September 13, 2004
When we arrived at the Herbfarm, courtesy of our friend A* who kindly drove us there and back, we were invited to take a look around the building. There is a cookbook library upstairs, and a wine cellar/storage area that also contains the restrooms. R* and I went upstairs to check out the library, and mooned over the idea of having our very own library someday. Then we took a stroll through the wine cellar, and then had a couple of glasses of herbal iced tea in front of the dramatic tile fireplace.
One of the owners of the Herbfarm escorted the whole group outside, told us about the history of the business, and then showed us around the gardens. We tasted some herbs and edible flowers (did you know you can eat daylily petals?), and met the resident recyclers: a flock of ducks and a pot-bellied pig named Hamlet.
Then we came back to the restaurant and were seated at a private table (R* requested a private table so we wouldn't have to worry about making small talk with strangers). I discovered a tiny frame next to my plate that contained a little sign saying "29 Happy Birthday Wishes to Emily from the Herbfarm". R* was mystified about how they knew how old I am - he doesn't remember telling them. I thought it was a sweet gesture. We were slightly overwhelmed at the parade of wineglasses filling the space between us. I actually liked the water goblet best - it was metal and so kept the water incredibly cold, which was incredibly refreshing.
The meal was spread over about 4 1/2 hours. After the first course, the other owner and the head chef took turns speaking about the food and the wines that we would be eating. The mushrooms were all gathered by their staff forager - I think I want his job! As we ate, waitstaff constantly circulated with ice, water, clean napkins (every time someone got up, they reset the table with a fresh napkin), the bread basket, little trays of cold herb butter, and more wine.
Now for the courses!
Beginning from Garden and Shore
Willapa Bay Flat Oyster with Succotash
Rosemary Mussel Skewer with Cucumber Kimchi
wine: 1998 Domaine Meriwether Brut, Cap. Wm Clark Cuvee
When I took a look at the menu, I was alarmed - I generally don't like oysters. But this oyster was cooked with a pinch of cheese and corn and bell pepper succotash. It was wholly delightful. The herb tempura was a sage leaf, a mint leaf, and a nasturtium blossom just barely fried, with a tiny cup of ponzu for dipping. And the mussels... oh my goodness. They'd been steamed, then removed from their shells and smoked over basil wood (the big stalks of basil plants), then skewered on a rosemary twig and pan-fried. They tasted AMAZING. The cucumber kimchi was tiny sticks of cucumber bathed in something spicy and salty.
The sparkling wine was served in a champagne flute with a pinch of fresh herbs - rose geranium, pineapple sage, or lemon verbena. I realized I needed to pace myself a little better after cheerfully downing two glasses.
Quillisacut Goat Cheese & Fines Herbes Ravioli
with Warm Tomato Salad
wine: 2003 L'Ecole No. 41 Barrel-Fermented Semillon and 2003 Chinook Rose of Cabernet Franc
I was again skeptical when I looked at the menu, because I typically don't like goat cheese. But I may finally be coming around... the tiny raviolis were delicious, and went beautifully with the warm tomatoes. There was a giant slice of a beefsteak tomato in the bottom of the bowl, and smaller Sun Gold and cherry tomatoes scattered over the top.
The two wines with this course were my favorites of the evening. I already knew I liked Semillons, but I was happily surprised by the rose. I don't think I've ever had pink wine that didn't taste like candy. The winery, Chinook, is one that I've noticed before - we had a Chinook Semillon at Carmelita a while ago that was really good, too. I'll have to watch for their cute plaid label next time I'm in the wine store.
Dungeness Crab Cake
with Shave King Boletes and Lemon Thyme Sauce
2003 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling
This was so exciting for a mushroom-lover like me! The crabcake was meaty and thick but small in diameter. It was topped with a leek relish, and completely covered over by strips of thinly sliced Boletes mushrooms - also called porcini or cepes. The creamy lemon-thyme sauce drizzled around the plate was so tasty - it made me think I should plant some lemon thyme in my own garden. The Riesling was perfectly fine, although I wasn't finished with the rose from the previous course while I was drinking it, so it might not have gotten the attention it deserved.
Fennel-Roasted Black Cod
with Roasted Beets and Bacon
2000 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir, Evenstad Reserve or 2000 Rex Hill Pinot Noir, Reserve
Black cod is also called sablefish, and it's the fish used to make kazuzuke, the Japanese dish that's marinated in miso and sake. It's got a very delicate texture and a mild flavor - and I think I talked R* into letting me make kazuzuke! That's a big breakthrough because he normally doesn't like white fish very much, so we usually stick to salmon and tuna. The dish was garnished with finely chopped bacon and parsley, with tiny halved roasted pink and yellow beets, and a splash of roasted beet sauce on the plate. R* gave me his beets because he's not that into them but knows that I love them. I didn't like the wine with this course that must - I had the Domaine Serene and R* had the Rex Hill - I think maybe I just don't like Pinot Noir. Plus, I started feeling headachey after drinking it, as often happens with me and red wine.
We were getting pretty antsy at this point so we waved over a waiter and told him we were going to go for a walk, and could we feed the pig? He suggested that we wait until after the next course, and he'd meet us in the lobby with a bucket of scraps.
Apple Shiso Ice
This was a tiny "intermezzo" as our waiter referred to it - a slushy sorbet of shiso (Japanese basil, it tastes a little bit like cinnamon) and apple juice, with tiny paper-thin strips of Gravenstein apples over the top. So light and crisp.
Then, as promised, we met our waiter in the lobby and were handed a little tin bucket full of scraps. He told us that Hamlet would inadvertantly bite in his enthusiasm to eat, so keep our fingers away from the snout! He also said that Hamlet likes to be scratched on the back if we were so inclined. So, we strolled over to the pigpen and dumped the contents of the bucket in front of Hamlet. He snorfled down the scraps, allowing his pen-mates the ducks to grab bites. I leaned over the fence and scritched his back - he felt like a bristly football. R* said, "Oh, Emily, don't get your hands all dirty..." but by then it was too late. I didn't mind, I knew I could wash my hands before we went back to the dining room! After Hamlet finished his snorfling, he looked up at my face and made eye contact and looked like he smiled. R* said, "He's saying, 'Thanks, lady!'". Very very cute.
Then we went back and washed up before the next course....
Rolled Loin of Anderson Ranch Lamb
with Wild Mushrooms, Salt-Roasted Potatoes, Fillet Beans and Cinnamon Basil Sauce
2000 Woodward Cayon Walla Walla Merlot
Okay, for a third time, I was concerned that I wouldn't like this. I've never liked lamb, and green beans aren't my favorite, either. And again, I was happily proven wrong. The lamb was filled with chopped chanterelle mushrooms and sliced into rounds - and it was pink inside which would normally creep me out. But it was so tender and delicious, I wasn't disturbed at all after the first bite. On the side were roasted finger potatoes, the dreaded but tasty green beans (skinny and crisp), and sliced lobster and chanterelle mushrooms. The brown-colored sauce was made from cinnamon basil, which is every bit as tasty as it sounds!
Bleah, more red wine. I liked the taste of the merlot, but it only increased my headache. And by this time, we were quite intoxicated - I would've liked to lie down for a little while. Instead, we just sat and grinned stupidly at each other.
Point Reyes Blue Cheese
with Asian Pear, Spice Bread, and Herbfarm Honey
I was so happy to see Point Reyes Blue Cheese on the menu - I've had it before in the house salad at Saltoro in North Seattle, and I LOVE it. It went very nicely with the Asian pear, spice bread, honey, and hazelnuts... but I would've been happy to eat it alone, I love it so much. We were both relieved that they didn't bring us more wine then - we were fading fast.
Fruit Flavors of High Summer
Peach Cobbler with Anise Hyssop Ice Cream
Plum, Walnut, and Lavender Tart
Blackberry Rose Geranium Ice Cream Cone
Dessert arrived on a big plate dominated by a wire ice cream cone holder. Tucked inside was a tiny cone filled with a brownish-purple ice cream, that tasted of berries and flowers. The plum and walnut tart was topped with a fluff of lavender cream that nearly overwhelmed me with its perfumey flavor. I adore lavender so that was a good thing in my book, but R* made a face when he ate it - he said it was too strong for him. The peach cobbler was served in a tiny bowl topped with anise hyssop ice cream... we had seen the anise hyssop growing in the gardens - it smelled divine! And, turns out, it tastes divine as well, like the sweetest, most gentle licorice flavor.
Coffee & Teas
We both chose French-roasted coffee, figuring we'd fall drunkenly to sleep in the car without an infusion of caffeine. I would have liked to try some of the herbal teas, but that would've put me directly to sleep.
A Selection of Small Treats
wine: Vintage 1901 Barbeito Malvazia Madeira
And finally, we were served a small plate with tiny chocolates... a chocolate cherry brownie, white chocolate-lemon basil truffle, orange/thyme/almond cookie, white chocolate covered ground cherry (with leaves still attached!), and a chocolate truffle with an herb I can't remember. They were so tiny, we managed to eat them even though we were so full and sleepy. The white chocolate-lemon basil truffle was our favorite - which is funny because neither of us usually prefer white chocolate.
The madeira was just a couple of swallows in a glass with a bell at the bottom and a narrow tube at the top. I've never seen a glass like that before, but then again, I've never drunk 100+ year old madeira before, either. It smelled and tasted like caramel and port and warmth... I can't imagine how much it must have cost, which means I will probably never encounter its like again.
As we were finishing up, a server informed us that our bill was all taken care of so we could just leave whenever we were ready - that was a relief to me because I didn't think R* was up to signing the bill. We strolled outside just as A* pulled up in her car to meet us. She drove us safely home and oohed and ahhed over the menu.
Then we proved we were grownups by taking Advil and vitamin C before we went to sleep - and amazingly enough, we got up this morning at 6:30 and neither of us were hung over!
luck doesn't even begin to describe it - now with pictures
First, I looked out the window on Sunday afternoon, and discovered a hawk in my zen garden taking apart a pigeon. That may sound gross, but I was completely fascinated! I've never seen a wild hawk that close, and I frankly don't miss the pigeon. The hawk hung out in the yard chowing down for at least half an hour, while I took pictures that I will post later. The downside of this close encounter is the pigeon remains in the zen garden. I think I'll shovel it up and bury it behind the fence to decompose - out of sight, out of mind.
Second, as promised, R* took me to the Herbfarm. I think I'm going to do a separate entry about the menu and so on - it was really to die for. Almost too much, in fact. The one thing that saved me from being overwhelmed was that the people who own the place and the people who work there are totally normal, down to earth types, who didn't fuss and curtsey and make me feel like a weird rich person. I don't know how to act around people behaving that way - I always want to whisper, "I'm not rich, either, please act normal". At one point during dinner, I went to the restroom, and one of the waitstaff was putting out fresh towels and stuff. She commented to me while I was washing my hands, "Wouldn't it be great to have mirrors like this at home?" and I responded, "For real, I love this faucet, too" and she said, "Sure would make getting ready for work more fun." Whew! I don't give off an I'm-so-rich-I-don't-have-to-work vibe, even if I am having the state's fanciest dinner.
Thirdly, we went in to discuss refinancing our house this morning. Our mortgage broker, Mark, is such a cool guy - not to mention good at his job. I called him asking if we might be able to increase our home equity line of credit in order to pay off our credit cards. He looked over the numbers and said that not only can we pay off our credit cards, we can refinance our mortgage at a lower interest rate and save about $800 a month. I am in shock. It's not a done deal yet - the deal is predicated on the assumption that our house will appraise for a certain value. If it doesn't come in that high, we'll have to reevaluate. But if it does... buying this house will have actually gotten us OUT of debt. Which is amazing.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Now hold on a second, Dick - are you saying that electing Kerry would cause more terrorist attacks? I thought you said that he was too much of pussy and looooooooved terrorists, just a couple of weeks ago. In fact, you made fun of him for being "sensitive". So which is it?
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
hippo birdies to me
I'm having a good birthday-time... last week my sweet father sent me a watch. It's purty. My mom sent me a box that I received today, containing a handmade glass pendant, a bunch of lavender blossoms from my favorite lavender farm in Sequim, and a fancypants lunchbox with dividers and pockets and carrying straps and whatnot. On Sunday, R* is taking me to the Herbfarm, as I squealingly mentioned a couple of days ago, and apparently he got me a tangible gift as well, but says I can't have it until Sunday. Our friend A* is going to drive us to the Herbfarm and back so that we can participate fully in the wine. And I think tomorrow, my coworkers L* and A* are going to accompany me to Flying Fish for lunch. I am a lucky woman.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
apparently they do sing
go f**k yourself.
Rad. Trudeau is right on. I can't believe anyone is condoning the blantant rudeness that's been going on at the RNC.
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Beverly Hills store, dress section.
Mother, son (age 4), salesgirl
Salesgirl: (snottiness directed at Mother, in attempt to make her feel insignificant)
Mother: (tries to deflect snottiness)
Son: I just farted.
Son: In my pants.
Now, it may not look that funny written down. But say it out loud, as though you're a 4-year-old boy, and work that dramatic pause. Adding "pants" to anything makes it funnier, don't you agree?
Great Oafish Poopheads.
His comments about Arnie's line of bullshit made my toes cold. Crap, that is EXACTLY the kind of thing that makes slightly less conservatives Republicans snap back to the party line if they've started to creep toward the left.
I hadn't realized until this show that R* has turned me into an audiophile quite against my will or intention. Not only did I notice and abhor the general sound quality in the arena, I also found myself critiquing the saxophone tone that was coming across the PA. And, worse yet, I found myself asking R* questions about Prince's guitar technique after we got home. What is wrong with me??