Friday, January 30, 2009

Do you love buns?

I do. Especially buns of the Chinese variety. I was addicted to the veggie buns made by this old migrant worker woman in Bird Flu Alley. I would get a big steamy plastic bag (yum!) full of them for breakfast or dinner. But then one of the week long vacations that the whole country takes came around and she disappeared, never to return. I was heart broken. I moved on to another bun place, but they were never as good.

The ones up above aren't as good either. In fact, they stink. But they are shaped the same, and they do have a hint of the old soft goodness of the old ones. And if you drowned them in hot sauce they are edible. These particular beauties come out of the freezer aisle at the local Ranch 99 Market. They are filled with burdock, which according to the Google define function is: A hardy plant that grows wild in the UK. The long, dark burdock root is delicious in soups, stews and sea vegetable dishes or sautéed with carrots. Its is highly valued in macrobiotic cooking for its strengthening qualities.

I thought it was ok. Very hardy. I know there has to be real baozi out there somewhere. I might try a place I know of right near by. I just don't want to be disappointed....

Illustration Friday

Theme: Climbing

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Did!

Glory in my blond-ness! Revel in my golden locks! Or as golden as someone with dark brown hair can get...I was aiming for super-blonde, but this is how it turned out. I like it. I think I will like it more as my hair gets longer. The lady that did it was W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L! Her name is Soryah at Solstice Salon in Mountain View. If you live in the area and want your hair done, I recommend.

(p.s. It took me taking about 50+ pictures to get one that was presentable. About 1/3 of the way through I was like "hang it! and put on blush and lip gloss and used a little hairspray. I think people (i.e. ME) should be required to do a self-portrait photo in the morning before walking out the door. Who knew my hair had looked the way it did ALL DAY LONG? Not me, that's who.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Correspondence No. 5

Dear Mrs. PPP1,

Upon being made aware of the threatening mail sent via your private barrister to my now distraught client, I have taken it upon myself to clear up any misunderstandings that might have occurred in the previous two weeks.

My client has been traveling in a barbaric country for the past week, the fact of which you had been previously notified. This epic adventure required the endurance of many hardships, not least of which was lack of access to the internet. Upon returning to her home in the backwards and provincial town of Nanjing, lonely and forlorn, she found her inbox flooded with unanswered correspondence in excess of 35 missives, including the notification from your attorney of your thoughtless and cruel resignation. It is indeed unfortunate that you would take such a hasty and ill advised action without full understanding of the particulars of the situation. Under these regretful circumstances my client has instructed me to inform you that she will consider your reinstatement to your previous Older Sister position after a suitable period, during which it will be required that you renew your Older Sisterly Qualifications and licensure, which have lapsed during this interlude.


Sir Paul F. Bynum esq., BL, MFA, pHD.
(of Fickle, Fickle, and Bynum Barristers at Law)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Correspondence No. 4

Ms PPP2,

This letter is to inform you that our client, a one Ms. Jonna deWaal,
has resigned as your sister, effective immediately. Please be assured
that all proper channels were utilized in the pursuit of this
endeavor, and that any protestations or grievances you may have to
declare can be addressed in person at our office located at 4607
Namby Pamby Street, Las Vegas, NV, 89129. Alternatively, you can
send a detailed letter, outlining the explanation for the deviation
and inconsistency in your behavior as our client's sister. Included
in this letter should be one set of nice stationary, a yard of super
fun fabric, and whatever else you think may help your case, although
you are advised to retain legal counsel immediately.

Mr. Ed Spencer, LLC, esq., II, Jr., BA, MBA

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Correspondence Continuum (part 3)

Dear non-existent readers,

I have a weakness for hand written correspondence. Luckily for me, my older sister shares this weakness. For the last few years (although honestly, nothing really in the last half year or so) we have regularly traded letters written in cursive, using fountain pens, and writing in the language style of Jane Austen heroines. When I was living in China we had a rather humorous exchange (through our fictional lawyers), the first two parts are in previous posts. This is my response to her response to my first letter. A couple of notes, WYS stands for Willful Younger Sister, CM=Crazy Mother, ROS=Responsible Older Sister, DSC=Department of Sisterly Conduct, and Wilamina, Elpinger, and Worcast, Legalities For the Under-represented= WEWLFU. In our fictional world, she is known as PPP1 and I am PPP2, we have a third sister who is titled PPP3. PPP stands for Pretty, Pretty, Princess...and endearment that we started using a while ago, I forget how.

Dear Ms. P.P.P. I,

We here at the law firm of Fickle, Fickle, and Bynum have received your letter dated August 9, 2007 and have undertaken for our client an attempt at a response. PPP2, otherwise known as WYS, was extremely disturbed by your spurious and completely groundless accusations, and
in response has retained our services for the duration of this distasteful quarrel.

We would first like to remind the honorable attorneys of WEWFLU that counter claims do not render prior claims obsolete (see the Basic Code of Sisterly Conduct, Article 723, paragraph 80, Clause 57 of sub-paragraph 64). We would also like to express our extreme disappointment that a simple matter of just compensation for a clear breach of contract obligations was met by such vociferous and unmerited slander directed towards my client by the defendant, your client. We understand that Sisterly Relations can sometimes be tetchy subject, but nothing is gained by indulging in spiteful libel. It is our sincere hope that these proceedings can be conducted in a ladylike manner, and that further behavior that is offensive to those with refined sensibilities can be avoided.

Further, we would like to respond to the above accusations in order of importance.

In regard to Article 1, Sub. A of the previously mentioned correspondence. It should be noted that in situations such as these that involve a Crazy Mother (CM), particular delicacy should be used when resolving conflicts between Sisters. Therefore we feel it is an egregious abuse of the legal standing of ROS to suggest that WYS fled her home country in order to encumber PPP1 with the care of said CM. We would like it to be observed that the career path of WYS was already determined before CM exhibited any serious signs of Craziness. When choosing the country to tie her future to, there was no need to take into consideration the care required by a CM. At this point, WYS cannot change her career path without incurring serious losses to her
educational investment. Her intention to return to the country of her birth after a period of 10-12 months should also be recognized. Where the CM chooses to reside is also no fault of WYS, and we deny any attempt by ROS to suggest that WYS is incapable of caring for CM because she is in a far-far-away land. Afterall, CM can just as easily reside in China as she can in Brazil.

In response to the accusation in Article 2 that WYS is in some way more Willful than most YSs is completely and utterly without foundation. We would also like to inform you that we will be filing a motion for the inter-sister correspondence dated from August 2004 through May 2007 to be excluded from the court proceedings, if indeed we cannot avoid a trial.

While we are sure that it would be very convenient for the plaintiff to excuse her responsibility for ensuring General Happiness so easily, it is our client's contention that ROS did not do enough to force her to "drink".

Please inform your client of this correspondence, and that we are eagerly awaiting your (civil) reply.


Fickle, Fickle, and Bynum
Attorneys at Law

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sara Presents

After some none-too-subtle urging and bribery on my part, PPP3 has started her own blog. I hope that it will very soon have lots and lots of pictures of my nephew on it.


Gunter is Defeated

That little bouncing white thing is named Bryan, he lives down the street and weighs all of seven pounds.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Correspondence part deux

Ms. P.P. the Second, WYS
c.c. DSC International
c/o Certified Chaperonage, Inc.

Dear Ms. P.P.P II,

In response to your recent missive:

Although these claims appear, on the surface, to contain a certain amount of legitimacy, we at Wilamina, Elpinger, and Worcast, Legalities For the Under-represented (WEWLFU) feel the DSC (Department of Sisterly Conduct) should be made aware of the true nature of the charges made by the plaintiff ( hereafter referred to as WYS-Willful Younger Sister). Additionally, caution is recommended on the part of DSC to set a precedent for use of terms such as "malicious" and "gross negligence". It is the assertion of the defendant, PPP1, ROS (Responsible Older Sister) to WYS, that the allegations made by WYS have been grossly exaggerated and, as will be proven in the following paragraph, were totally unavoidable.

The representatives for WYS should be aware of the following:

Article 1: WYS was duly advised and counseled on topics of her choosing, while she was living in the United States. Her departure to the far east, and lack of interest in scheduled open-mic sessions, left her vulnerable to the whims of her fancy.
Sub. a: PPP1/ROS would like to note that the actions of WYS were actually calculated to leave her with the responsibility for Crazy Mother and will be filing a counter suit for abandonment shortly.

Article 2: ROS maintains that due to the extreme willfulness on the part of WYS, all past efforts have been proven to be entirely in vain (see past correspondence documents August, 2004 through May 2007) and that she should be exempt from all further responsibility, as well as further legal action, ad sic.

It should be noted, that while responsibility for basic happiness can fall under the terms of the ROS roles and duties, the "horse can only be led to the water", as the saying goes. Be advised that current boyfriend has overtaken that role and, as proof, we contend that our client's good-will has been stretched by her acquiescence to forsake vising rights, due her as ROS of WYS in far-far-away-land.

In light of these findings, it is recommended that the plaintiff be advised accordingly. This letter will address the allegations of gross sisterly neglect and will act as a legal document if trial cannot be avoided.

legal counsel for P.P.P I

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Correspondence (part 1)

Dearest P. P. Princess I,

The purpose of this letter is to apprise you of the charges that have recently been leveled against you. A one P. P. Princess II, of Nan Xiu Cun Lane, Nanjing, China has filed claims against you with the Department of Sisterly Conduct. These claims include gross negligence and deliberate and malicious neglect. P. P. Princess II, hereafter known as PPP2 in these documents, maintains that due to your negligence in your role as Responsible Older Sister (hereafter refered to as ROS) she has suffered the indignities resulting from Making Bad Decisions. These Bad Decisions include, inter alia, a string of unsuitable boyfriends, along with one or two disastrous decisions that shall remain unenumerated. It is her contention that if you had been properly fulfilling your role as ROS she would not have suffered the shame and embarrassment that are concomitant with making poor boyfriend selections and excessive alcohol consumption at inappropriate times. It is also her claim that due to your calculated neglect, her life has been allowed to develop in a way that is starting to have a negative impact on her basic happiness. Her basic contention is that, without the ROS guidance that is her due as a certified Willful Younger Sister (WYS), she has ended up like a "ship without a rudder, left to flounder in an ocean of uncertainty" (her words). Therefore, you have been charged with breach of the Sisterly Contract you entered into on December 11th, 1979. The victim (PPP2) is seeking damages in the form of one time payment of African Loot (to include a wooden bangle and perhaps a pair of cute African jeans) and also hand written correspondence on the finest stationary available for a period of 10 months, to begin in September 2007. This correspondence should also include the occasional package containing chocolate, coffee, and, perhaps, undergarments. All previous correspondence cannot be counted towards fulfilling these court ordered awards, and are legally considered to be null and void. Please address any concerns you might have with the
DSC directly.


The Lawyers of Fickle, Fickle, and Bynum

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What do I Want for a Present!?!

Dearest PPP3,

Above is a picture of the 2 PPPs in my life. Known as PPP1 and PPP3 (I am PPP2). PPP1 very considerately has a blog that she posts on once a week or so. Thanks to this blog I am able to see my niece and keep up with PPP1's knitting projects. PPP3, however, has no such blog. I am in the dark as to the state of her house, or the progress of her various projects (chief among them, my nephew-to-be, Cairo!...see below for details). When, oh when, will she join the blogging world?!?

To sweeten the deal, I offer my humble service in the cause of creating a fun banner with your picture on it (witness the first fruits of my efforts in this area directly above.)

What do you say, PPP3? Join us?


Friday, January 16, 2009

Gunter Eats My Hand

The creepy music in the background is entirely unintentional, but I think it works!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Should I, Or Shouldn't I?

Forgive the dodgy photoshop skills, I just wanted to see what blonde would look like. My hair is this color:
Also known as boring brown.

Should I go blonde?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sticky Date Pudding- Courtesy my friend Deepa

The Goods

1/2 c Butter, room temperature, cut into eight pieces and extra to butter pan
1 1/4 c Chopped pitted dates
1 tsp Baking soda
1/4 c Granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/4 c All purpose flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 3/4 ts Baking powder
Caramel Sauce
1/2 c Butter
1/4 c Whipping cream
1/2 c Firm packed brown sugar PLUS
1 tbsp Firm packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla

The Deal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round baking pan withsides at least 2 inches high, such as a springform pan.
Place the dates in a saucepan and cover with water (about 1-1/2 cups). Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Add the
baking soda (the mixture will foam) and set aside.

In a bowl, cream the cut up butter, sugar and eggs, adding the eggs one at a time. Gently mix in the flour, salt and vanilla. Stowly stir
in the baking powder and 1/4 cup of the liquid from cooking the dates, until the cake mixture resembles thick pancake batter. Drain
off remainder of date cooking liquid and discard. Stir in the dates.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cooked in the center.

Caramel sauce: Combine the butter, whipping cream, brown sugar and vanilla. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer, and cook for 3

Drizzle some of the sauce over the cake as it is cooling. Serve the rest of the sauce separately.

When Deepa brought this over for dessert one night, we served it with baked apples and poached pears along with ice cream and the carmel sauce. It was delicious.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Star of the Show

This is my pug. This is my pug doing a trick. This is my pug doing a trick for a treat.

My pug is devoted to the idea of treats for tricks.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

petit déjeuner sans compagnons #2

French toast!

2 eggs,
1 tsp. sugar
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
2 tblsp half and half (or milk)
2 thick slices of sweet batard or your favorite bread
generous dollop of sour cream
maple syrup

mix sugar, spices, and cream into eggs, soak bread and cook in a hot oiled pan. Serve topped with sour cream and syrup. Coffee and NYT's optional.

Happy eating!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Oh the Humanity! My Pumpkins, My Pumpkins!

The other day I stepped out onto my front porch to discover this:

My first thought: "It exploded! I knew our front porch was too hot for those pumpkins." I thought that maybe gases built up to a massive pressure inside the little helpless pumpkin until finally Whooomp! and that was that.

Then I thought it must have been raccoons.

Then I was here at my desk (blogging) and I saw something moving outside and:

Caught in the act! A little squirrel had just been going wild out there, tearing up my big, as yet unscathed, pumpkin. In his haste to devour all of the juicy pumpkin insides he knocked it over.

Oh the carnage, the messy insides all over my front steps!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Need to Stop Eating Meat

I was in the shower the other day thinking about what being alive means. I won't bore you with my confused conclusions, but one of the things that came into my mind as a fully formed idea was that I can't eat meat anymore. I don't really eat that much meat anyway, but I do sometimes make meals that look like this:

Roast purple and white potatoes with rosemary, blanched green beans with homemade herb vinagrette, braised napa cabbage with spices (I love me some cabbage), and of course the mandatory sausage...(I live with a German...).

I like these meals, and I like sausage (in fact, I love it. Especially organic!). I also like hamburgers, and lamb, and I am obsessed with pho tai (it's just not the same with tofu and veggies, it's really not!). But can I live without them? I think I can, and I think it's better for my health and for the earth in general. And do I really want to kill another being that has life just in order to eat it? No, I don't.

I've tried being vegetarian before, sometimes for as long as a year or so, but I always ended up eating meat again. Not because I like it that much, but because I love to cook and cooking is easy with meat. But from now on I think I will try to go meatless.

And cook more of this!:

Creamy Tomato and Goat Cheese Soup
serves 2

the goods:

two plastic pints of cherry tomatoes (I used orange ones from our garden that I had frozen during the summer). Cherry tomatoes are pretty tart, so for a milder soup I would just use regular red tomatoes.
3 tblsp roasted red pepper paste (from the Persian grocery store. I'm sure there is something similar at Trader Joes)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper paste
black pepper
1/3 cup sour cream (the good kind, not one with guar gum and other artificial thickeners, the best kind is Daisy, but trader joes carries a good one too)
chopped italian parsely
Crumbled goat cheese

sliced french bagguette
olive oil

the deal:

1. place tomatoes in pot and cover with water.
2. cook at medium until tomatoes have softened and lost their shape.
3. add paste and spices.
4. simmer for 15 or so minutes.
5. remove from heat and cool slightly. force through a fine mesh sieve and return strained liquid to pot.
6. place sour cream into small bowl and add a little bit of soup, whisk until smooth and add to soup pot.
7. add chopped parsley.
8. salt and sugar to taste.

While soup is simmering:
1. brush bread with olive oil and rub with garlic.
2. cut into bite size cubes (skipped that step in the picture above and regretted it. It was hard to eat!)
3. broil until toasty and flip, repeat.
4. put half of bread cubes into bowls and cover with soup.
5. cover with soup and pile the remaining cubes in the center of bowl.
6. Sprinkle goat cheese over bread, to taste, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

St. Martin in the Fields

My older sister, also referred to as Ppp1, visited London a couple of years ago and bought these lovely pictures for me at the St. Martin Cathedral in Trafalgar Square. They are made by doing rubbings over brass reliefs. I think they are lovely and I had no way to display them until recently. But last week the German and I went to get a picture (of Smith rock up in Oregon that I had bought for his birthday a year ago!) framed and I found these cool floating frames (two pieces of glass sandwiched between the black frame). They are perfect. My favorite is the black one because it shows two little people skinny dipping together with the devil as a goat in a medieval thought bubble.

Is it a strict warning against fornication? Is it the medieval equivalent of a swingers club? Who knows! But I like it.

The place that we bought the frames was having a special buy one get one free, so we bought four. I didn't know what to do with the 4th one, but then I found these awesome postcards made from old science fiction book covers!

Fun yes?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Snow Shoeing Beautifulness

Perfectly staged winter wonderland beauty shots:

Gratuitous self-portrait:

Beautiful blueness:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Illustration Friday

Theme: Clandestine

Best Girl in the World 1992-20..

Best Friend ever.


8th grade (7th?), Peterson Barn park practicing our smooth gymnastics moves. True love at first cartwheel!


2 awkward teenage girls


Kindred spirits call to each other from across the void of the middle school lunch room. Plus Tabitha Jenkins is a total D.B. (It was Tabitha right? Or was it Rachel? I forget who.)


Who knows how? I'm just glad we've remained bff for all these years!

2oo9 to forever, Kellie! Love you bunches and bunches!

your best bud,