Wednesday, May 26, 2010


My favorite season of the year takes a long time to arrive in Montana. Or maybe it just behaves differently here. True, we now have green grass and even dandelions, but they all seem to get snowed on about once a week. This depresses me a little. I'm trying not to complain too much. I don't want to be the obnoxious and wimpy California transplant. I'm not a real Californian, after all. I should be considered more Utahn than Californian by virtue of years spent there, and I'm a little bit Alaskan, too. So handling a wet and snowy Montana spring ought to be no biggie.

But even when I lived in Alaska I remember psyching myself into a spring mindset. This I did by wearing spring clothing as early as March, when the temperatures got up to zero or so. Nowadays my legs are neither as cute nor as cold-hardy as they used to be, so I don't do that anymore. But I have found some spring-oriented mood-boosters.

1. Take a walk through a nursery. It's warm and humid, and the colors are almost as intoxicating as the scent of wet, warm earth. Promise yourself some petunias as soon as it is safe to put things in the ground (June 1, so I'm told).

3. Sprout some seeds indoors. Pray they survive until it's safe to put things in the ground.

4. On a related note, build some raised beds. Mine are wood, but my darling cousin Jodi has great instructions for vinyl ones here. They look better than mine. Hmph.

5. Work on feet. I WILL wear sandals this year. Actually I really just need a real pedicure. Maybe after payday.

6. Work on skin. This is excellent stuff, way more than I would usually spend on skincare products but well worth the money.

7. Tidy up the patio. Dr. G did most of the real work. For my part, I plan to get four Adirondack chairs on sale and paint them some wonderful color. Perhaps turquoise.

8. Plan a vacation or two. We're going to Utah a couple of times (one very, very soon) and to Alaska in June for Dr. G's 20-year high school

9. Buy summer produce even if it is a little expensive. Fresh cherries were the star of my life today.

10. Eat salad for dinner. Maybe one like this.

Crunchy Chicken Salad
1/2 head Romaine lettuce
1 c. diced jicama
2 stalks diced celery
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 orange, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced
2 c. cooked, diced leftover chicken (it's good if you've grilled it or if it has a little barbecue or sweet/spicy flavor)
Sunflower seeds
Newman's Own Light Lime Vinaigrette

Combine all the veggies and chicken. Add sunflower seeds and dressing just before serving.

4 servings.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chicken enchiladas

About once a year, give or take, I run away for a weekend with a group of longtime friends. We started as an online group of Mormon moms. I joined about 1998 when I was looking for infertility support. We're now just simply old friends. I love my girls!

When we get together, we mostly shop, gab, and eat. And eat and eat. We snack. We cook. We go out.

I like to cook for this group because they are oh-so-appreciative. Nobody says to me, "This smells like barf," or "What is that?"

Last time we got together, I made the caramelized onion quiche from Simply Recipes (still far and away my favorite food blog, even though I can't get the fabulous, fresh California produce anymore). That was one darn decadent breakfast. I still look back with fondness.

This year, at a townhouse in Park City conveniently located just up the road from one of our favorite haunts - the infamous outlets - I did a recipe of my own invention. I give you:

Park City Chicken Enchiladas

1 lb. chicken breasts or thighs, boneless, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 large onion
1 tsp vegetable oil or olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp coriander
1/2 tbsp oregano
1 package cotija cheese (substitute drained cottage cheese if you have to)

1 package corn tortillas
1 large can green enchilada sauce

1 c shredded monterey jack cheese

Grill, saute or bake chicken. Grilling is best. Cut into small dice (1/2" to 3/4" size chunks.) Crumble cotija and mix with chicken in a large bowl.

Saute onion in oil until transparent and beginning to turn golden. Add garlic and spices and stir for 1 minute. Combine onion mixture with chicken and cheese in large bowl.

Place about 1/3 of your enchilada sauce in the bottom of a large baking pan (the big stoneware baker from Pampered Chef is perfect - think large lasagna pan. You can also use a regular 9x13 cake pan but you will likely have more enchiladas so prepare a small pan also).

Warm tortillas in the microwave to soften for about a minute. Roll about 3 tbsp of the chicken filling into each tortilla and place side by side in pan. Don't worry too much if they crack, and don't be afraid to pack them in tight. Tuck down any tortilla pieces sticking up. Pour remaining sauce over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. You want the cheese melty and bubbly.

Options: You can substitute grilled zucchini and corn to make this a vegetarian entree. You can also just add them into the filling if you want it all!

Coming attractions

I have some posts jangling around in my head. I figure if I make a list, maybe I will actually take the photos and write the posts. Me and my lists. I'm sure it's not OCD.

- My all-time best thrifting finds (I used one today when it was raining)
- Stuff I have had for forever and still use (who remembers my Scotland sweatshirt?)
- Chicken enchildas
- Crocheted Barbie dresses
- Baby plants for the garden
- My quest for a dog ... is it time to pee or get off the pot? (Always ladylike, I am)

So, which one do you think I should do first? I am thinking maybe the enchiladas, because if I don't take a photo tomorrow when I heat some up for my lunch, they will all be gone. But what's your take?

Friday, May 07, 2010

What goes around

Do you believe in karma?

I have a great-aunt named Carma, and she is for sure real and super nice. My wedding reception was at her house and she even let everybody come inside when a Utah late-summer thunderstorm started up.

The other kind of karma, I have always kind of thought was a nice idea, but this week it seems to be happening so fast I can't miss it.

I edited a resume for an extended family member at no charge. I got to send two invoices for paid projects. I love doing this so much I feel a little like Cordelia in Season 1 of Angel (nerd train, slow down, I need to get my other leg on board).

I watched kids for two friends on the same day. I got invited to a girls' movie night out. (Tonight! I am excited!)

I think Karma might be just like the rest of us girls. Nice when you treat her nice.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Come what May

Just some randoms.
  • Got Tsubo Balin peep-toe strappy pumps in off-white using my birthday money. Man, is my skin ever white. Possibly whiter than the shoes. Thank heaven for Neutrogena.
  • Here is a hint. If you want to get good shoes without breaking the bank, try on the brand you like in a store to find your size. Then find your shoes on eBay. (How dorky was it to link that?) I can usually find them for 50 to 60 percent off.
  • Cinco de Mayo! Shrimp and avocado soft tacos with cilantro slaw at our house tonight. How fast can you get here?
  • Thank you, Netflix streaming video, for babysitting my children while I work on fun freelance projects for UC Merced. I am super busy with student spotlights and a political science paper. Not complaining!
  • S read "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle in three days. That is quick for him. I think the themes about individual strengths and weaknesses found some resonance. I am feeling kinda proud.
  • K is barfy today. There is real Coca-Cola in the house. How much have I had? Too much? Ask me at bedtime. I do not like sick-kid days much. It is almost impossible to get a workout in, and I generally dislike having my plans foiled. On the other hand, the slow pace and an excuse to rest are not all bad.
  • Montana springtime: snow, snow, and lots more snow. Stop, I say! Enough is enough! Yet ... after the storms blow through, it is so bright and clear and beautiful. And I really appreciate the no-asthma aspect after living in the Central Valley of California for 6 years.
  • We bought tickets to Alaska for Dr. G's 20th high school reunion in June. That's right. When it finally stops snowing here, we will be going north. The whole famdamily. Actually we are really excited. We went in 2007 for G's sister's wedding and it was fabulous. I never blogged much about it because it happened right before Z was reunified with her birthmom for that 30 day trial period. Writing about a vacation was the last thing on my mind. How awesome it will be to go back now that we don't have to get court orders for interstate travel!
  • If you're thinking of cheaping out and starting your garden seeds in paper cups instead of the nifty little plastic greenhouse peat pellet things, just don't. I had a whole scary mold experience with paper cups. Ugly stuff.
  • Remember when my blog banner had a purple cordless drill? That was based on my real and much beloved yellow DeWalt. I got it when we had our condo in Salt Lake, probably 10 years ago. The kids left it in the front yard a few weeks ago. Now I do not have a cordless drill anymore. I replaced it with a cheap, corded Black & Decker. For me this may actually be better. It's not like I'm walking around a job site all day using it on different stuff. I'm actually usually in one place working on a specific project. So it's nice not to have to switch battery packs and recharge.
  • I think S might have dysgraphia. I'm going to try to start the testing process with the school district before he actually is enrolled there in the fall. Stay tuned.