Let the healing begin

The things I’ve been wanting to write about lately are that there have been a few positive changes in our (mine and Jody’s) families recently.

First off, my dad has stopped drinking and has sought out help to work on his recovery from alcoholism. Alcoholism is something he’s been struggling with for a long time and I’m so proud of him for taking what had to be a huge step for him. I hope and pray that it continues to go well. I love him and would love to see him improve his quality of life in this way. One day at a time.

And, secondly, Jody’s mom has stopped smoking. Unfortunately, this good news has some not so good news to go with it. It seems that she’s recently developed angina. After seeing a cardiologist this week, he’s decided to do an arterialgram tomorrow to check for blockage and assess what needs to be done to correct it at that point (angioplasty, bypass surgery, etc.).
If you could please keep her in your thoughts (or prayers) tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, we would appreciate it. And Sharon, if you are reading this, please know that we will be thinking of you and hoping everything goes just perfectly.

Thank you all.

Life is good

My husband installed some shelves for me in our office this weekend so I can get my photography stuff organized, my little girl is currently napping peacefully, I have a pot of yummy vegetarian chili simmering on the stove, and the temperature here in CO reached 70 degrees today. Life is good. :)

I’ve got some things to write about in the near future but I’m waiting until I have some more time and more information before I do it.

In the meantime, I have to say we had a nice weekend around here. I got my shelves put up that I wanted (and didn’t even have to beg for them). Jody, Ava and I went to a park on Sunday for a mock photoshoot so I could get in some more practice with my new lens. My photos weren’t spectacular, but I am happy with some of them, and, as always seems to happen when I go out for a shoot, I learned a lot. :)
Here are a few (cuz I always gotta share):


We had friends over for dinner and played a bit of Balderdash last night. It was a lot of fun. I’d never played Balderdash before, though I’ve heard a lot about it. I wish we would’ve had more time to play, since it seems like we were just really getting into it when they had to leave (it was nearly 11 p.m.), so we’ll have to try it again another time.

Tomorrow Ava and I are going to a welcoming party for a friend’s new baby boy. :) I’m excited to meet the little guy. On Sunday I’ll be doing a newborn photoshoot of him and their family and I’m really looking forward to that.

I’m slowly but surely getting my stuff together for this photography business. Jody keeps encouraging me to delve in and really get going on it, but I know my comfort level with my technical skills better than he does and I’m not to that point just yet. I hope to be able to get serious about it this spring and summer, but I’m realizing I’m going to need some outside help with Ava – perhaps a mommy’s helper to spend some time playing with her while I work during the week.

That’s about all for now. Time to go enjoy some of that chili. :)

Tahini tofu stirfry with saifun bean threads – recipe

I’ve had these Saifun bean threads sitting in my pantry for months and months now. I bought them by accident, thinking they were rice noodles, and then wasn’t sure what the heck to do with them. So when I decided to make some sort of tofu stirfy for dinner last night, I thought I’d give them a try instead of brown rice.
They look really weird after being boiled, as they are these clear noodles, looking almost like soapy bubbles.
(I found this site that has descriptions of various Asian noodles including bean threads.)

The meal turned out pretty well and was quite tasty, though see my note below.
Oh! I have to thank Jess of Get Sconed! for her tips on getting your tofu to cook just right. Basically you don’t touch it until it’s time to flip it. I cooked it over med-high heat and I think that helped a lot too. I was so proud that it finally looked good instead of like mush. ;)

Tahini tofu stirfry with saifun bean threads

Ingredients:
Saifun bean threads
Tofu
Olive oil
Sesame oil
Tamari
Garlic powder
Cayenne powder
Red swiss chard
Sesame tahini

Instructions:
Cook tofu in olive oil, sesame oil, tamari, garlic powder and cayenne powder. Set aside.
Cook the chard in olive oil.
Combine the tofu and chard. Add about 1/2 cup tahini and more tamari, as well as some water to thin the sauce.
In the meantime, boil the Saifun bean threads for about 20 minutes. Drain and cook a bit longer with some vegetable oil and tamari.
Place some bean threads on a plate, cover with the tofu/chard/tahini sauce. Enjoy.

Note: This meal was a LOT heavier than I thought it would be, perhaps due to the amount of oil I used. I didn’t think it was a lot, but if I make it again, it will be with less oil.
Also, sorry I didn’t specify amounts much for this recipe. It really was an “eyeball it” kind of meal.

I had a lot of bean threads left over (since I made two packages – oops), so after dinner I gave a couple handfuls to Ava on her tray and she had a ball playing with them and eating some as well.

Two recipes – Polenta Lasagna and Carrot Casserole

Thanks to my friend Sonja for turning me onto polenta and sharing this recipe with me.

Polenta Lasagna

Ingredients:
Tomato sauce
Polenta (I used the kind with sun-dried tomatoes and garlic)
Basil
Vegetables (optional – I used red Swiss chard and black olives)
Cheese (I used Monterrey Jack)

Instructions:
Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of your dish to prevent sticking. Spread a layer of polenta (you can soften it in the microwave first). Add a layer of sauce. Sprinkle some basil on the sauce. Add the vegetables (which should be cooked a bit first to prevent crunchy vegetables in the lasagna). Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes or until bubbly and melty.

This was my first time cooking with polenta (which is corn meal mush). It was easy to use and quite tasty. Reminded me a bit of grits, but more flavorful, especially in the lasagna. I was also excited about the meal because it was entirely organic, except for the black olives. And Jody and Ava liked it as well. I love it when my meals are a hit. ;)
While I was at Vitamin Cottage today, I also bought some polenta with green chiles and cilantro in it and will prepare some sort of Mexican meal with that one. Mmmmm. :)

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The next recipe I got online (somewhere??), but modified it a great deal, so I kind of consider it an Amy original. ;) Unfortunately, I don’t have pics of it, but it was very tasty and enjoyed by all three of us. :)

Carrot Casserole

Ingredients:
8 C sliced carrots
1 large onion, diced (Since I didn’t have one at the time, I left it out)
Quorn “meat”balls (Looove the Quorn products in this house)
Veggie crumbles (I used Morningstar Farms)
A few shakes of garlic powder
1/2 jar tomato sauce
1 T butter
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 1/2 C grated cheese (I used cheddar, but I think just about any would do)
1/2 C fine dry bread crumbs

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring pot of water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain and place in a 2 qt casserole dish. Cook “meat”balls and veggie crumbles in the microwave. Season with a bit of garlic powder. Cut the “meat”balls into smaller pieces. Stir in onion, butter, cream, salt, pepper, “meat”balls, veggie crumbles, tomato sauce and cheese. Mix well. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top. Bake in preheated oven for 50 min.

Just too busy

I’ve been home for two days, but just haven’t had a chance to do much blogging.

Yesterday was spent doing tons of laundry, cleaning up the house and getting caught up on various things. And last night was a ladies’ night out for my AP group. A group of seven of us all got dinner at a local restaurant. The food was delicious, but they made a mistake on my order (Mediterranean wrap with sundried tomatoes, hummus, olives, spinach) and put chicken in it! And, what’s even worse is I ate a few bites before I realized it. :( Ugh. I thought something tasted off on it, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I actually saw some of the chicken poking out of the wrap and was like WTF is that??! I felt like such a tool for eating it and not realizing it was chicken. Duh. I told the waitress about it since they charged me for adding chicken to it (and I didn’t feel I should have to pay for something I didn’t want) and she apologized profusely. Guess I need to inspect my food more closely when dining out.

The other thing that’s been occupying my time is playing with my NEW 50mm LENS!! :) I’m so thrilled to have it and have been enjoying playing with it the past two days. I got some cute shots of Ava today. Here’s the only one I’ve proofed so far.

The lens cost a pretty penny, but I’m paying for it using money I’ve made from my CafePress store. (Hooray for a little extra income.) It will be soooo useful to me in my portrait photography and is well worth the investment.

The lil girlie is napping now so I should go get some other stuff done. I have a new recipe to post – a casserole I made for Jody and Ava last night using carrots, Quorn “meat”balls, veggie crumbles, tomato sauce, cream, cheese and bread crumbs – that was delicious. (I had leftovers today.) I didn’t write it all down though so I’ll have to go from memory.

Some pics from the trip home

OK, I know I’m doing this totally backwards (working on pics from our drive home tonight first), but I’m left-handed and tend to do things a bit differently. I’ve also been known to read magazines backwards.

Honestly, I took a ton of pics on JUST our drive home tonight (Jody was driving – phew!) ;). I filled my memory card and even had to go back and delete some pics so I’d have more room to play. After reading a bit in a couple photography magazines (backwards, of course), I got inspired and decided to play around with exposure using the sunset and then with car headlights. My experimenting produced some neat results.

Here are some of us on the way home and then a couple of my “playing” pics. :) Click the pics to see them larger.

Ava – just waking up after a nap in the car:

Jody – looking so cool while driving:

The plains of Colorado and me – in the sideview mirror (Honestly, that picture is mostly of me – the view is not of anything in particular. I just thought it was cool to catch myself in the mirror.):

The sunset tonight in Colorado (purposely underexposed):

Car and traffic lights at night (long exposure):