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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Steelhead Trout Eggplant Something.

I posted before about accidents turning into confidence, but now I have here what we've all experienced: Remaining Items in the Fridge = Olympian Meal.

Steelhead Eggplant Surprise (lol)
serves 2

-12oz or more of steelhead or salmon
-olive oil
-1/2 tsp each:
-8oz or more of diced eggplant; skin on please, don't be a sucker
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-Parmesan, shredded
-Olive oil
-leftover rice or pasta (optional)

Preheat oven to, oh I don't know, 375. I like 375. It gives me time to think, or shower, or make sure the contacts I'm wearing aren't seven weeks old.
Take your fish, pat it dry and drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle liberally with all those spices, more if you're feeling frisky and come on: Feel frisky!
Drizzle a tiny more oil over the fish and brush it all together to really drive it home.
Take your diced eggplant and toss in a bowl with the garlic, Parm and more olive oil.
Put your fish in a foil lined Pyrex, surround it with the eggplant pals and share the love by sprinkling more Parm over everything (you do not want cheese envy after all):

Throw in the oven for like, 25 minutes. That's another reason I like 375. It gives you time, especially when you surround your protein with little nutrient buddies.

After fish and friends are out of the oven, take out the eggplant, place on a dish/bowl and then mix with the leftover rice/pasta. I recommend a bowl unless you enjoy chaos. Then, divide the fish in half with a spatula and place over the mix of starch and veggie.

As you eat it, I highly recommend destroying the shape of the fish, and just mixing it all together. Observe: The half-eaten, delicious outcome that I captured only after realizing I was eating the evidence of a half-assed idea, turned golden.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Friends, Romans, Countrymen: Lend Me Your Ears

"I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar. The noble..."

"Ummm. Line?"

"Heh. Dog-ga is watching me, and I'm in a hair towel..."

"That's hilarious! I'm in a hair towel!"

"Holy crap, is that a PEBBLE?!"

Early Anniversary Celebration.

This past weekend, we celebrated our wedding anniversary!

Living Social/Groupon is a favorite site of many but I must admit, I have used them rarely. I really wanted the teeth cleaning and the countless mani pedis they offer, but it's gotta really pique my interest before I click that link. One thing I'm glad of (though I came dangerously close to being extremely pissed over) was the Living Social deal for a discounted stay at Loew's Ventana Canyon Resort up on the NE side of Tucson.

Nestled cozily against some small but gorgeous foothill crags and peaks, this place is truly breathtaking on a landscaping and, as Todd noticed with some subtle design factors, on an architectural level as well. There's a koi pond that extends from front to back by some underground magic, a huge and deep pool, a spa, a little waterfall and then an even bigger waterfall that is natural but also supplanted with water during the other 8 months of the year when water takes a long-ass vacay from Tucson.

Anyways, I got this deal, snapped it up practically, before realizing I bought a golf package. I am not a golfer. But I figured I'd make up the cost in the room price. Then I looked and realized that the date range ended in September. I checked the current month's rates (I got it in June) and let out a low whistle of rage: the rooms were going for like, fifty bucks LESS than what I paid for the deal, AND I couldn't get it during our actual anniversary in October. So I checked the cost of a Luxury King room in September and was relieved to see that, thanks to the restaurant discounts and the $25 gas card (or credit to the bill), we really WERE getting a deal. 

Before I get to the beauty of the resort, let me just rail that home: even if you read the deal thoroughly, there's still going to be fine print after the fact. So for the Raves and Reviews part of this post, I'm actually going to be a lot more wary of both discount sites.

Now, on to Ventana. I'd happily pay full price for another stay (though that will be in summer). Our room was gorgeous.

I was under the weather so forgive the fact that I did not clean up the place before snapping photos. But the bed is a deliciously comfortable king, upon which I had already lolled about complaining about how I felt under the weather.

There's our balcony, where we watched the sunset and the bats swooping and dipping about in the muted hues of the aftermath. The next morning we would watch butterflies, in the same seemingly distracted and whimsical manner, although in decidedly more colorful outfits.

And this.... this glorious creation, of which I had no prior knowledge, is a huge tub. HUGE TUB. Let me pause here and talk, adult to adult, about how important.... ok, let me pause here and talk, bath-taker to bath-taker, how delightfully crucial a lovely bathtub is to a satisfactory living experience. During my single days, I would back out of otherwise awesome rentals due to shower-only status, or worse, standing-room-only shower-only status. So this...

There is my foot to show the size. And to further explain how enormous this tub was, Todd and I both fit. Todd is 6'7" and I am nearly 6'. We fit easily, side by side, legs COMPLETELY stretched out, AND...

Oh my God you guys, AND... there was a flatscreen TV that swiveled out from against the wall and tilted towards us in the tub. So we sat in a bubble bath, having drinks, watching Food Network and laughing hysterically. I'm not trying to be dirty or sensational, I'm just trying to tell you, that for two tall people who never fit in tubs very well by themselves... for us to do what lots of couples get to enjoy, a little romantic tub time (or honestly, just fitting inside a bathroom brushing our teeth side by side) was just so fun and out of this world. We could have easily had Alex splashing around with us, or even the damn dog, there was that much room.


We had a very mellow night. I wasn't feeling well and after dinner (tasty but over-priced; not to boast but I cook pretty well so to pay 30 bucks for gazpacho and a goddamn burger stings), I just went right back up to the room and changed into pajamas and crawled in bed. Todd visited the waterfall and then came up too. We watched cable TV until midnight and slept in til 9:30am. Delight upon delight!

The real joy of Ventana though is the landscape around it. Considering the expense and the class of the interior, the exterior is very subtle, and allows itself to sink into the surrounding rocks and desertscape which in my opinion is the only way to do it. I took photos of the natural/not natural waterfall and the return back because honestly, there is a lot of beauty in the Sonoran desert that I think gets overlooked an awful lot, but Ventana lets it shine. Its structures are low key and it seems to really appreciate its surroundings; even if only to exploit it for a high-priced room, it's still respecting and maintaining the wildlife.

"Ah, I'm sure I got the waterfall... Oh, no. Well, time for a portrait shot."

"There we go! Glad my chin still looks like Leno's!"

On this little path, you just look up, and silhouetted against the sky are tons of those bad boys. Example:

These are more like soldiers but some of the more gnarled, righteously old ones look like interpretive dancers.

I know this is supplanted with pumped water, but hey, four months out of the year it's naturally funded, so to speak.

Ah, that's more like the gnarled old ballet dancers that some saguaros impersonate. But a lot creepier and awesomer.

I love water in deserts. Such a lovely contrast.

It's a beautifully cultivated and paved path but as Todd says, nondescript enough to fade away and let the wildlife take first priority.

Big pimpin' spendin' Gs... (I just asked Todd the lyrics to this and he sang in it in this high pitched voice for like five verses haha)

Here's what I mean about the layout of the building, even the pool. We're coming back from our little sojourn, and it just quite suddenly crops into view.

Low building, low pool, low levels, low, low, low.

Ah! But in front, we have the wide and shallow stretch of the valley, with the added beauty of a man made koi pond and golf course. But the cool thing is that dead center, where you see a tiiiiny little pale stretch of path, moments after I took this photo a little trio of bobcats loped across.

I finish with the sky. Something Ventana Canyon seems to understand is to lay low, sink into the landscape, fade into the background in order to allow those views to take over, to allow the visitor to truly understand and enjoy the beauty of the desert. Behind the resort is rock, foothill, plate tectonics. Behind it are small mountains, old things, gods, monsters.

But in front of it stretches a green muscle of strength, vitality and courage; beyond that golf course is an immortal stretch of dirt and rock and bones and gorgeousness, a span of wildflowers that grow between thorns and thistles, mesquite and acacia and palo verde trees, teensy tiny lizards that scurry beneath the dancing feet of yelping coyotes. Monsters in the mountain, monsters in the valley. And Ventana Canyon advertises it all.
  After all, "ventana" means "window" in Spanish and honestly, it's not hard to see why they chose the name. It shows you everything.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To tri or not to tri.

I'm going to run a 5k race in two weeks, the same race I ran in 2008. The course will be different but it will still be in the same area of town, and it's the same name so I have a nostalgic tie. Also I want to pound my PR into the dirt and like, run 6 minute miles. That won't happen, but it's good to have goals in life.

Another goal of mine is to make another baby when sweet Lexi-lu turns two. Oooh, a rhyme. Unintentional at that! Anyways, since that only gives me like, six or seven months, I'd like to run more, challenge myself physically, before pregnancy and the post-partum bag-of-bones syndrome strike (seriously, the first jog I did about four weeks after giving birth was the most bizarre, humpy lumpy loose run ever, from all my ligaments and joints loosening and spreading in prep for labor).

Then I read an article on the Ironman triathlon: A two mile swim, 100 mile bike ride and a 26 mile "cool down" run. Then I threw up in my mouth a little.  But once I rinsed with listerine and started googling triathlons, I realized that the Ironman obviously overdoes it a little bit, and I also realized I didn't need to beat myself up for 17 hours to feel like a badass. I could beat myself up in, say, two or three hours and feel pretty damn awesome.

Tucson has triathlons. One I checked out is an 875 yard swim (35 laps in a 25y pool); a 12 mile bike ride on relatively flat track, and a 5k run afterwards on a flat track. Hey, hey, hey! This sounds doable. I already do 3 mile runs, and I know how to swim AND ride a bike. I'm already awesome!

They have no dates posted for 2012 and the entering is already closed for the October one (not that I'm in any way ready), the last in 2011. I'm hoping that the dates will be relatively the same for 2012, because I could be ready by May of next year. That's right around when we'd start trying for a baby but if I completed a triathlon beforehand, I'd be more than willing to lie down, get pregnant and not move for the next nine months except to lift my head whenever someone walked by so I could tell them that I completed a triathlon.

So I'm running that race in October. And much like in 2008, my tendon has been bothering me. I'm a notoriously bad stretcher and it bites me in the butt (well, the tendons) every now and then. I stretch diligently for a few days, it goes away, and I'm off running around town with slowly tightening tendons until... Yeah, you get it.

Anyways, since I didn't want to eff them up any more than they already are, yesterday I hopped on a stationary bike for a 10 mile ride on a computer simulated course that was all hills and steep climbs. It kicked my ass and I funny-walked out of the gym after I completed it, feeling like I was one gust of wind away from falling over on my side. It made me seriously reconsider doing a triathlon... until I remembered, hey! It was all incline. A tri is on mostly flat surfaces!

And just like that, my over-confidence flooded back, and I stagger-strutted to the car, not an Ironman, but an iron-willed woman. Granted, it's getting cooler and the pool is going to be colder and colder at the gym and training the swimming part is going to be harder, but... Oh screw it, it's only 35 laps. I'll figure it out.

You know, I think I'm going to go for it.

Chicken Stuffed with Kalamata Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

All right so I made this darn dish like weeks ago, and I can't remember anything. The photos will help, but if you're a meticulous measure-er, then this won't make you happy. But, if that's your issue, then this blog has probably pissed you off a lot. Anyways, I sort of just came up with this on the fly, stuffing chicken breast with blahblah, serve it with a veggie and some blahblah. So I mated this chicken with roasted zucchini and bulgur wheat.

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Stuff
serves two

-2 chicken breasts
-8 kalamata olives, sliced and diced
-3 sun dried tomato halves
-olive oil
-zucchini, cut into half moons
-bulgar wheat

Here's the tomatoes and kalamatas (tossed with a smidge of olive oil) for the stuffing:

And here is where that stuff is gonna go:

I'll be brutally honest, taking side shots of a slit-down-the-center, flesh colored chicken breast is downright pornographic. It took about 4 tries until I realized... there are things that just shouldn't be done. Anyways, moving on. Douse your chicken in spices. And I do mean douse. Sun dried tomatoes AND kalamata olives are rock solid, earthy, armpit-sweat-strong flavors, so you need to challenge that. I did this: lots of cumin, lots of garlic powder, lots of sage: 

Now, because it's apparently what I do for every goddamn meal, add your zucchini half moons to the pyrex where your chicken will also cook, and add some parmesan shreds:

Looks sort of lame, I know, but trust me. On to the bulgur wheat. This stuff takes like 15 minutes tops to cook and is tasty in a nice nutty way (lol, nutty), and it's fairly self-sufficient. Just measure it out....

Add water and let it boil, then cover and simmer til done-zo...

While the bulgur is simmering, take out the chicken and veggies, and cover with foil. Here's my easy tip: Use a dish towel:

You place the tin foil over the pyrex and then drape a dish towel over that. Now you're free to crimp the foil around the baking dish, thanks to the heat-resistant towel. God, I am a genius.

Once your wheat is done, rip off the foil, throw everything on a plate and enjoy this:


Monday, September 26, 2011

Crafts I Do Not Suck At

My friend Amber makes adorable baby clothes and other baby accoutrements. Summer makes these cupcake-perfect type hair accessories. Allison makes everything. Kendra knits everything. All these women get together weekly, I think, to discuss how to save the world through crafting. I... well, I do not attend those meetings for fear of messing up the world through dismal crafting. I can do a few things. And by few, I mean like, three. BUT... As horrible as I am at most crafts, I'm really proud of these:

Ok, this is actually my favorite. It took a ton of work and time, but was just so much fun and I'd love to make it again and again but where the hell am I going to hang 400 of these bad boys? I bought those wooden round thingies over which you stretch your embroidery, removed the part with the clamp and painted it a boisterous pink. Then I got those stars and used a minuscule drill bit and actually worked it through the stars with elbow grease, so power tools aren't necessary. Then, I painted the stars. Then, I strung them on fishing wire with lots of pretty, pretty beads. Then I attached it all with or without voodoo.

Ok. With voodoo.

This project took up so much of my time, but I really enjoyed it. It was for baby girl, and it was just something creative I could do, for fun, for lightness. I mean come on, balance the checkbook? Or string up some beads and origami? Yeah, it'll be origami and beads for me, too:

Let's take a closeup. Oh God. I gotta admit, I'm so in love with these effers. They took SO LONG to bead, on account of how long the strings are. Let's take a close up:

All these pretty patterns came together in the same packet of origami paper I got at Michael's. The orange one above, and the pale one in the foreground below were a couple of my favorites.

So the third craft I can do is crochet but so far all I can do are beanies and scarves and those get boring, REAL fast. On account of the boringness, I don't have pictures. But I still am super proud of my stars and cranes. Maybe everyone I know will get some for Christmas. And New Year's. And Arbor Day. And...

P.S. If you're super curious, all of these supplies can be found at Michael's.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

These Boots Are Made For Streaking

It was bound to happen. A love of shoes, a love of being nearly naked... I mean come on ladies, what else feels as good as a great pair of shoes, coupled with a minimal amount of clothing that neither restricts nor confines?

Mover over, Adam Levine, someone else has moves like Jagger

"Whatcha lookin' at mama? OMG is this going on your blog?"

"That's cool, cause I don't mind. I love my boots and I wanna show 'em off!"

The contented look of an ultimate ham.

A generous ham, to boot. "Here Patton, have a chewie!"

Don't be fools by the feinting run-away dash. She always comes back for more camera time.


"Now what am I gonna do? Oh wait, I have an idea..."

"Work! COVER GIRL! Work!"