Greeting card difficulties

This has been a busy week!  I know I always say that, but I really feel like Monday through Wednesday are just crazy at work, and it’s not until Thursday that things slow down.

On the bright side…

Baxter came to visit me looking for treats

Baxter came to visit me looking for treats.  His legs look even shorter than usual in this picture.

Lots of cooking this week!  I’m getting overwhelmed with zucchini from the CSA and it’s so hard to think of new ways to use it.  I already mix it in with Mike’s scrambled eggs and have made a couple of dishes that incorporated chopped, sauteed zucchini.

I decided on zucchini bread for starters.  Somehow I thought it would take a lot of zucchini to make a loaf of zucchini (like… maybe a loaf’s worth?).  But no.  I shredded one zucchini and that gave me enough zucchini for a loaf that will take Mike a week to finish and that still left me with six large zucchini.

Next up was Summer Ratatouille.  I was interested in Ratatouille for two reasons.  First and most obviously, the Pixar movie.  If the little rat chef Remy could whip up ratatouille, it definitely left hope that ordinary cooks like me could attempt it.  Secondly, and most importantly, I had a LOT of zucchini to use up.  And one eggplant.  And ratatouille primarily consists of zucchini and one eggplant, so it seemed like a perfect dish.  I didn’t have as many peppers or as many tomatoes as the recipe called for, but I just substituted them with extra zucchini.  That’s ok, right?  I sauteed the vegetables in batches as recommended.  I didn’t measure my olive oil for sauteing at all.  Instead, if the saute pan looked like it needed more liquid, I just added more oil.  I had sauteed up about half of my zucchini when I really started to get the sinking feeling that I was going to wind up with nothing but a giant pot of sauteed zucchini.  I checked the recipe again to see if there might be some magic ingredient that I had forgotten about, but that would elevate the dish from ‘sauteed zucchini’ to ‘ratatouille’, but there was nothing.  The only other ingredients were veggies, most of which I had already substituted with zucchini.  So there you have it.  Or rather there I had it.  I realized I was going to be eating a LOT of sauteed zucchini over the next week.  Shockingly, when I tried some of my sauteed zucchini at the very end of the process it was good.  Not GREAT.  But definitely good.  I’m crediting that to the extra fresh parsley I added in (I had half a bunch of curly parsley to use up, so I threw it all in the pot).

I also decided to make a Shepard’s pie type dish for Mike using a bunch of shelled peas, since the CSA gave me a lot of those too.  I was in a reckless mood after my successful ratatouille so I ended up combining two recipes.  I made the filling from this recipe and the cheddar biscuit dough from this recipe (except that I substituted the corn for extra peas).  Then I emptied the topping into a 2 qt baking dish and dropped the cheddar biscuit dough on top in big biscuit-sized spoonfuls.  Mike really liked the recipe and asked for it two nights in a row which is pretty unusual for him and commented again today on how good it was, so it’s definitely a winner!  🙂

And in general I did lots of veggie chopping.

Lots of green, yellow wax, and purple beans!

Lots of green, yellow wax, and purple beans!

On to non-cooking and non-CSA topics, I have a new philosophy on yoga.  Rather than trying to get out of work a little early on Tuesdays, take the bus to pick up the CSA produce, walk home with it as fast as I can while sweating in the hot sun, dump everything in the fridge, feed Piper, change into my yoga clothes, roll up my mat, walk to yoga as fast as I can (again, while sweating in the hot sun), and arriving to yoga sweating, stressed, and typically with exactly 30 seconds to spare, participate in the class, and then rush home to make sure Mike got dinner, last night I went to the 7:30pm class instead of the 6pm class.  It was AMAZING!  (As a pure aside, Mike told me yesterday that I have officially overused the word ‘amazing’, I’ve reached my quota, and I’m not allowed to say that word anymore.  Consequently I’ve been getting very good at working around the issue using words like ‘incredible’, ‘awesome’, etc.  Now Mike says I sound like a thesaurus.  But only for a single word.  🙂  On the blog, though, I have no such quota, so I’ll use the word as appropriate.  In this case, it’s appropriate.)

It was so nice to pick up the CSA produce at a relaxed pace, walk home at a relaxed pace, see Mike, get him some dinner, start some laundry, and then leisurely change into yoga clothes and walk to class.  This also had the added benefit that the sun was lower in the sky at 7:30pm so it was much cooler walking weather.  I arrived at class five minutes early, completely unstressed, and enjoyed class so much more.  Plus, when I got out of class close to 9pm the sun had set and there was a cool evening breeze blowing.  Walking home in the cool darkness while looking at the giant full moon overhead was the perfect relaxing ending for a yoga class.

When I got home Mike had two youtube videos ready to show me.  One centered around a shy girl who befriended a skunk and now the skunk goes everywhere with her and sleeps in her bed with her.  Um… ok.  The second was a video showing lions in a circus getting angry with their trainers.  No one appeared to get hurt, but things got a little dicey.  Moral of the story: Lions were not meant to be paraded around and made to stand on stools and they will likely rebel and attack if they’re made to do that.  Lions are meant to eat zebras in Africa.  Harsh, but true.

Piper has discovered how sliding closet doors work.  It was only a matter of time.  I knew this, but somehow hoped she wouldn’t ever really catch on.  The past two mornings when Mike and I have woken up, both sides of the closet door have been open.  So it’s apparently not just that she wants to get into the closet, since that would require only opening one door.  No, instead she just seems to enjoy the act of opening the doors.  Strange cat!

Yesterday over lunch I walked downtown to the drugstore to look for a birthday card for Mike.  I have a very definite philosophy on cards and really spend some time to try to pick out a good card every single time I buy one.  Otherwise what’s the point?  I decided to get one that specifically said ‘husband’ just since it’s the first time it’s been appropriate to buy one.  I saw several that said ‘hubby’ and had pictures of crazy cartoon dogs and things like that on them.  I quickly shuddered and moved on without even reading the messages inside.  I think Mike would have a fit if he got a card that referred to him as ‘hubby’.  I quickly bypassed those.  There were a couple humorous ones that I considered centered around things like “I know some wives drive their husbands crazy sometimes”, and then you open it up and it says “Except for me.  I drive you crazy all of the time.  Happy birthday!”.  Those cards were a little illogical though.  I mean, do you have to wait until a guy’s birthday before you announce that you drive him crazy all the time?  What exactly does that have to do with his birthday?  And, furthermore, even if you do drive him crazy all the time, is his birthday really when you want to choose to remind him of that?

I moved on to the next set of cards.  These ones were focused around age and sayings like “Things that get better with age: cheese and you”.  Lovely.  I would like to point out that not all cheese gets better with age.  In fact, most cheese doesn’t.  Only very select types of cheese get better with age.  And how can anyone, even greeting card companies, get away with comparing a loved one to cheese, even in jest??

I moved on.  The next set of cards were of the “short and sweet” variety.  i.e. “We talk together, we laugh together, we cry together.  Happy birthday!”  Again, not particularly logical.  Also Mike doesn’t cry ‘together’ or any other way (although he might start if I gave him one of the ‘hubby’ cards).  So not particularly logical and not even particularly appropriate.

The next set of cards were the kind that are so big they’re basically a plaque rather than a card.  The ones that are almost the size of standard printer paper and are usually adorned with at least one fabric bow and have reflective, shiny, flowy lettering that announces Happy Birthday.  Apparently it means more if you wish someone a happy birthday in script rather than in block letters.  I usually shy away from these cards because they start to look really ostentatious really fast.  Like even before you leave the store.  But I was running short on options (apparently there are only so many ‘husband’ cards), so I read through a few of them.  One of them really made me smile.  In a good way.  That’s really the way to pick a card.  Read through a bunch of them and when one makes you smile as you think of the person you’re giving it to, that one’s probably the winner.  However, despite the message, it was still an annoyingly ostentatious card so I kept looking.

I gave up on the ‘husband’ cards and instead started looking at the ‘love’ cards.  Some of those looked promising, but they all seemed so remorseful.  I know I’m not always there for you.  I don’t always communicate well with you.  I’m not always able to tell you how I feel.  I tend to push you away.  But today I want to say Happy Birthday.  Really?  If you’re not there for your significant other, don’t communicate with them, and push them away, I don’t think they’re going to be on board with a yearly birthday card making everything better.  Oh, you don’t communicate with me and push me away?  That’s ok, you got me an AMAZING birthday card.  (There goes the word ‘amazing’ again… maybe I do need to censor my usage of that word…)

Then there were the ultra loving cards.  You complete me.  I had no life before you.  Without you I’m just a shell.  You painted my world in color instead of in black and white.  I hold you in the center of my heart.  Mike and I aren’t particularly lovey-dovey, and the only thing that would have been more embarrassing than me buying the card would be Mike having to read it.

With a sigh, I grabbed the ostentatious one with the message that made me smile.  Sometimes in life compromises must be made.

After the card-shopping work, I stopped by Whole Foods on the way back to work to pick up some food.  I picked up a bottled green smoothie, a plastic container of honeydew melon, and several energy bars for the office, and a package of Coldeeze since colds are circulating through the office and I want to keep my immune system strong.  When I got up to the register and the clerk started scanning my items he glanced at the small flat paper bag holding my card for Mike and said “Thanks for bringing your own bag.”

Wait, what?  WHAT?

That bag wasn’t even gusseted.  It was completely flat.  It was literally a greeting card bag.  Bigger than average for a card bag since I’d been forced to get the huge, printer-paper-sized card with the garish ribbon, but still just a flat bag obviously meant for Hallmark cards.  Or photos.  Or a few papers.  Maybe even five papers, if you were feeling gutsy and in the mood to do a little stuffing.  But definitely not, NOT meant for a bottled smoothie, and a plastic carton of melon!

Unfortunately the culture in Seattle is so “bring-your-own-bag” centric that plastic bags are illegal.  Yes, they really, actually are.  And if you get a paper bag, you have to pay for it.  I think the hope is that paying 5 cents for a paper bag will discourage you from ever cutting down a tree for the purpose of creating a paper grocery bag ever again.

If I had been in a slightly different state of mind I would have insisted on buying a paper bag big enough to fit my purchases.  However, I had been off in my own world mentally and wasn’t properly girded up to do battle with the clerk.  Plus I really don’t like making life harder for grocery store clerks.  Plus there were a bunch of people in line behind me and I didn’t want to become “that person” who holds up the entire line while she makes special requests.  Based on the Seattle culture, it’s actually not surprising he assumed that was my grocery bag.  So I stuffed most of my purchases in my purse (which was far more doable than the flat paper bag), and just carried the melon and the smoothie.  Should I have said something or did I do the right thing by just going with the flow and making do?

Then I walked back to work past lots of construction.  They tore down a bistro that was called “Bad Monkey” when I first moved to Seattle and then it changed hands and became “Thai Curry Simple”.  And then it got torn down altogether.  I have no idea what they’re going to replace it with, but they’re pretty seriously into the ‘tearing down’ phase now.

The old Bad Monkey Bistro

The old Bad Monkey Bistro

Mike and I are going to our first Sounders game this weekend.  In case you haven’t heard of the Sounders, it’s the Seattle pro soccer team.  Soccer is HUGELY popular out here and lots of people go to Sounders games.  The game this weekend is supposed to be especially interesting because it’s against the Portland Timberwolves, and apparently “we” (the Seattle Sounders) have a strong rivalry with them.  Hopefully “we” win.  Although since I don’t really know anything about the rules of soccer, I might be blissfully ignorant of whether we win or lose.  😉



Filed under Baking, Birthdays, Cooking, CSA, Food, Greeting cards, Life in Seattle, Yoga, Zucchini

2 responses to “Greeting card difficulties

  1. Lia K

    Those beans look AMAZING—oh, dear…that was totally NOT on purpose. Those beans look “spectacular” and the colors so vibrant.;) Do the yellow and purple ones taste much different from the green?
    I get in trouble every time I use the word “stuff” around my brother. He feels the word is too vague, lacking substance. Strangely enough (I have to add this) I just looked up the word in the dictionary and one of the definitions listed reads: matter of substance of an unspecified or generalized kind. Ha.
    A good idea for those of you who dread searching for a half-decent greeting card for your special guy, whether he be husband, brother, father, uncle…You can easily handmake a card with a strip from a favorite comic (Pearls Before Swine is a personal fave), one that you can relate to in your relationship or just hits that funny bone, and inside write a brief handwritten message. Nothing to say? Recalling a special memory with that person and putting it into words can mean a lot. Should bring a smile, and it’s personal and meaningful between the two of you.

    • The yellow beans have a firmer and waxier texture than the green and purple ones, but all three taste similar. At least to me. 🙂 I use them interchangeably in recipes. Using multiple colors of beans makes the recipes more visually interesting though!

      You’re so creative LJ! LOVE your card ideas!! 🙂

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