block printing

My latest project has involved going a little nuts with linoleum block print-making. I bought my first block, tools, and ink with a $25 gift card to an art supply store, given to me in thanks for the semester-long loan of a statistics book. (The loan was a significant, har, sacrifice because that book had been playing a vital role as my monitor stand.) My first project was a save-the-date card for our 30th birthday celebration in Tahoe last winter, which I remember sketching ideas for during a particularly dull meeting at work.

save the date cards

Then I pretty much put down the carving tools until this past fall, when I made a beer mug as an invitation to our Oktoberfest party. (The extras got framed.) We also used the tools for some serious jack-o’-lanterns.*

beer mugs

jackolantern
*The internet offers little consensus on the spelling of this term, which I may never have typed before and suddenly strikes me as strange and archaic, and possibly some anti-Irish slur.

Anyway, 20 hours/week of cooking has apparently not satisfied my need to worship food, so I embarked on a relatively ambitious, edibles-themed project. The grand idea had occurred to me prior to funemployment, but I hadn’t managed to get very far due to a severe shortage of time in the day. But not anymore, baby! Check it out! Multiple colors! Layers of printing! Different sizes!

Printing in progress:
printing cards

I actually cannot share the grand vision with you because it is planned for someone’s Mother’s Day gift, but I assure you that it’s spectacular. And that, upon the next gift-worthy occasion, you yourself are likely to receive a set of cards printed with a head of garlic. They’ll be perfect as invitations for your Twilight marathon party.

chicken adobo

Cooking (and planning, shopping, eating) has become an easy and pleasant answer to the question, “what will I do this afternoon?” Positive side effects include saving money on restaurant meals and eating healthfully. Well, for the most part. In the run up to job-quitting, I pulled out dozens of wintery recipes that had been languishing too long in my “try this” folder. Most were simply too elaborate to tackle at the end of a workday, but that’s no longer a problem for me. I can heartily endorse this one, however, for even tight schedules. I bookmarked it in January of 2011 and got around to it last month.

chicken adobo

Chicken Adobo
Serves 4

1 cup coconut milk
¼ cup soy sauce
1½ cup rice vinegar
12 garlic cloves, peeled
3 whole bird’s-eye chilies or other fiery chili
3 bay leaves
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 pounds chicken thighs

1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large, nonreactive bowl or resealable plastic freezer bag. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

2. Place chicken and marinade in a large lidded pot or Dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, around 30 minutes.

3. Heat broiler. Transfer chicken pieces to a large bowl, raise heat under the pot to medium-high, and reduce the sauce until it achieves almost the consistency of cream, about 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and chilies.

4. Place chicken pieces on a roasting pan and place under broiler for 5 to 7 minutes, until they begin to caramelize. Remove, turn chicken, baste with sauce and repeat, 3 to 5 minutes more. Return chicken to sauce and cook for a few minutes more, then place on a platter and drizzle heavily with sauce.

5. [Leslie’s addition] After you finish the sauce-drizzing, wilt some kale in the same pot and serve alongside. The toothsome texture and strong green flavor pair well with the chicken’s rich tanginess, and the residual sauce is all the seasoning the kale requires.

[source]

wedding pictures…57 months later

A step in the process of putting together that long-overdue wedding album was sifting through the 1800 photos from the event and whittling things down. Matt’s excellent photography made this extra-challenging, but we ended up with a solid collection in the 200 ballpark. In addition to printing them, I’ve finally populated our gallery album that’s been sitting empty since 2007. I also filled in some holes in the album covering associated wedding events, like that ridiculous bachelor/bachelorette party. It’s fun to page through, especially if you were there and haven’t seen any pictures because we’ve been holding them hostage.

Here’s a shot I like of Bryan, before the ceremony.
Bryan smiling
To the best of my recollection, he was also smiling afterward.

on sabbatical

I’ve been letting my perfectionist tendencies—usually well-suppressed—prevent me from posting anything since I quit my job five weeks ago. I’d decided I was going to blog thoughtfully about all my activities and needed to start with the BEST MOST PERFECT introductory post about WHY and HOW and where all this was leading. But one of today’s to-do-list items was posting something, so I’m shaking off the perfectionist paralysis. In short:

1. We are moving to Austin sometime July–September. For real this time. I’m serious.
2. In preparation for this fact, and for some other reasons, I quit my job of 4.5 years, effective end-of-January. Bryan has his own professional plan I will leave to him to report. I do expect to go back to work once we get to Austin, but that’s about as specific as my plans get. (In the meantime, I’m doing a little consulting work on just one of my previous projects.)
3. I have a list of projects to undertake in the interim and a frankly psychotic level of organization schemes (lists, calendars, and documentation routines) to keep me sane and on-track. It’s the first time I haven’t had a job or been in school—or both—since, to the best of my recollection, the summer after my freshman year of college. I decided a little structure was in order to rehabilitate my internal motivation.
4. It’s taken me a few weeks to hit my stride, but at this point funemployment is treating me very well.

I have posted some new pictures in our gallery that capture things pretty well, but to sum up, I have been spending my time in the following ways:

Adventuring with Sous in beautiful places.
sous and golden gate
(Here we were at Crissy Field with Heather and baby Elliott. Yay for maternity leave!)

Cooking. A whole lot of cooking.
paella
(paella mixta)

Hanging out with friends and family (also in beautiful places).
dad in the snow
(Here’s Dad on the slopes at Squaw Valley. They got 14 inches of snow that day.)

Getting to work on my implausibly long list of projects.
wedding album
(pages from our wedding album, only 5 years later)

Now that the ice is broken, I hope to post more regularly about these and other Very Important activities. It’s on my to-do list, so I may even follow through.