Happy (?) Memorial Day!

I have been in California visiting my parents. I have more photos to show you later, of course–this is just some dessert from tonight. It’s been a relaxing weekend of time outdoors, new koi for my parents’ pond, catching up on House Hunters episodes, eating delicious food, playing games and chatting it up.

Oh and tonight I said grace before dinner, and I accidentally ended my prayer with “Goodnight,” instead of “Amen.” And then I very reverently burst out laughing. I guess I was done talking to God for the day!

Photo mix

Here are a few photos from the past month that I meant to post. This was a deer I saw at my place when I was really looking for beavers.

The next few are from work.

I’m a little obsessed with getting a good fern spiral photo. I think I’ll have to go to some old forest to find some really good ones.

I’m not usually into tilted photos, but I ended up liking this anyway.

Of course I had to use the rental camera on some hummingbirds.

A tad grainy, but that’s cropped down and the ISO is at 2500. It’s so nice being able to crank up the ISO!

Last hummingbird photo!

Switching gears (it always seems a little weird to mix nature and food photos, but I’m doing it anyway), here’s a crock pot dish I made the other day. It was fine and has potential, but there were various factors that hindered my enjoyment of it, most of them psychological (I was afraid I had left it out too long, that the salsa was too old, etc.). It’s a Thai peanut chicken dish, but I would like to try it again before I link you to the recipe.

And here were the Orange Creamsicle Cookies that I made for a couple of departments at work. I thought they were really good with a little tweaking. I added more orange zest, less white chocolate, and I let the dough hang out in the fridge for several hours so the flavors could marinate a bit. (Marie, I got this tip from that chocolate chip recipe you posted, which I still have yet to try.) Try them! They’d go well with tea. I wish I could make some right now.

Enjoy your week, everyone! Thanks for looking.

Some ducks

I thought I’d post a few photos from the past week or so. It’s been very ducky out in the lake!

For instance, there are many wood ducks, and they’re even swimming closer and not as skittish as usual! So I’ve gotten some decent shots.

Married ducks.

Talking duck.

A couple of Common Mergansers in front of wood ducks.

I even saw this female Hooded Merganser the other day! That’s only the second time I’ve seen this type. I’ve never seen them put their hood up, though. (Sorry that photo is horrid.)

Don’t forget about the mallards! Actually, last week I saw two males that were somehow attached.. I don’t know if there was a string, or what, but they couldn’t swim farther than about one foot apart. It was sad. These are NOT those ducks, but at first I thought maybe they were.

A ring-necked duck that came nice and close for me.

Also, the violet-green swallows are back. They rarely perch, and you have to be quick to catch them. Later I’ll get closer photos.

The cormorants still hang out on this tree. One or two of them at a time.

And even though it snowed (!) again yesterday, spring is coming.

And I still cook things, and sometimes take food photos. This was a hot bean dip that I got from Kathy’s blog. I made a half-batch and used it as a burrito filling and sometimes on rice (it lasted several meals, obviously!). It was delish! Though I forgot the olives.

Then I baked some snickerdoodles.
Have you made any delicious recipes lately? Seen any interesting birds? Those two topics go together so well.. maybe if you made a duck dish, it would be perfect. (And kind of sad.. don’t cook wood ducks. :()

Mom’s visit

My mom visited me this weekend, and I was just telling her how today has been very satisfying in a Simple Pleasures sort of way.

After church we visited the nearby wildlife refuge and saw some funny American Coots and various other birds.

Then we came home and watched the second half of my favorite movie, Pride and Prejudice, with the heater going and pillows and blankets on the couch. It was very lazy and relaxing. Oh and we ate Girl Scout cookies. 🙂

After the movie we saw wood ducks swimming around and eventually saw two young deer behind my place.

Finally, we cooked a lobster dinner! I had purchased two lobster tails on a great sale, and I had never made them before. We read some instructions and worked together to figure them out. I made some rice pilaf and zucchini to go with them, and I finally opened the bottle of grape juice my dad bought me at the Spruce Goose museum.

I need to post wedding photos (and NM trip photos!), and I will soon. I’m about halfway through them, making basic edits and narrowing them down. It’s a process. I just figured I’d stop in with a few quick photos from the day since I haven’t blogged in awhile.

This mallard was jealous of all the photos I was taking of wood ducks and deer, so I thought I’d give him a little recognition. They may be common, but they’re still pretty!

Have a wonderful week. 🙂 I think Mom and I are going to watch my butterfly documentary now. It’s been a DVD-y weekend for me!

Winter so far

It’s been a little while since I posted. It’s not that I don’t have some material lined up, I just haven’t felt very up to it, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s just January demotivating me. Anyway, I think now would be a good time for a little catching up. Here’s what’s going on with me.

One of my resolutions for the new year was to bake bread with yeast, because I never had. Check!

It finally snowed, but it didn’t stay long. It wasn’t quite as wonderland-pretty as it has been in the past, so the few photos I have aren’t all that enchanting.

Meanwhile, I made some delicious potatoes au gratin where I cut some of the potatoes into stars with a cookie cutter. Food cuteness!

Then the temps warmed up like 20 degrees one day, and it was pouring rain and melting snow, which meant flooding all over Salem.

That lake out there is not normally there.

Nor is this one. Lots of creeks and rivers overflowed into surrounding areas. It didn’t affect me except an alternate route to and from work, but some people’s homes were flooded in Salem and especially Turner (nearby).

Between the weather news, I’ve been prepping for some upcoming travels. I can’t remember if I already mentioned that I’m photographing a friend’s wedding next month. She’s in Colorado Springs, so after that I’ll take a short flight to Albuquerque to visit my sisters and their families for a few days. I finally got all my plane tickets worked out and I’m starting to get pretty excited. I was just texting my niece L about it. Yay!

I’m also nervous, because I want to do a good job with the wedding photography. (As usual, I think my hopes and expectations on myself are beyond where they should be.) I only have two weddings under my belt, so I’m going to make plenty of mistakes and probably miss some important shots. However, I have been saying that I would be open to doing a wedding here and there for the right person, and Holly is definitely the right person. I’m very honored that she and her fiance want me to take their pictures! I’m praying for decent weather and that everything goes smoothly.

Okay, that’s enough. If you read this far, thank you. 🙂 I really appreciate all my blog followers!

Food Friday

It’s about time for Food Friday, don’t you think? These aren’t great photos, but they do represent some activities and recipes I’ve tried from the past month+.

Some pot roast I made a million years ago.

These don’t go together, but whatevs. There’s a salmon dinner from I don’t know when, and now we’re starting the 11/11/11 food photos.

So, I wanted to do something to celebrate 11/11/11. I decided to have some friends over, and when I mentioned it to an online friend of mine who teaches over in South Korea, she told me about Pepero Day. You can go read about it.. I don’t really have time to tell you here, but she sweetly sent me a bunch of Pepero cookie sticks to serve at my party! So that’s the photo on the right.

For our activity, we made caramel apples!

The cute dishes I have for toppings! (I’m using a lot of exclamation points!) I had actually just gotten those (all four shown) for my birthday, and they worked perfectly.

And here are some of the resulting apples. Yay!

Thanksgiving dinner. Stuffed salmon, smashed potatoes, brussels sprouts and a dinner roll. I could go for this dinner right now, actually.

This is a recipe I saw on Pinterest: Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole. I can’t vouch for whether it tastes like the original, since I’ve never had it. But it was good! And I mixed in some ham and also chives. The only thing I’d do differently is mix it up first, so the sauce doesn’t lay on the top.

I made these cookies for a Christmas party. I decided that instead of chocolate chips, I’d make some with M&Ms and some with chopped up Hershey Cookies and Cream bars.

This is Mongolian Beef that I made in the crock pot the other day. It was pretty good, but I might tweak the sauce a little next time. Also, I don’t know if they use chopsticks in Mongolia, it just seemed like a nice prop for the photo. 🙂

Have a great weekend! For me this weekend has to be about Christmas shopping. Yes, I’m one of those who gets a late start. I’ll probably be posting a couple of blog entries as well! I know that’s very exciting information.

Catching up

I haven’t been very posty, mostly because I don’t have a lot of photos and I just haven’t felt like putting forth any blog energy on my vacation. 🙂 But today my Project 52 photo is due, so I thought I’d mix it with a few other pictures and comments.

Project 52: I was watching this squirrel on my neighbor’s deck. She had some sort of berry plant that he liked.

But the click of my camera made him a little nervous.

He’s suspicious. (“I think this character is going to be suspicious about stuff.” – Joey from Friends)

Food non-Friday: I had many delicious and special foods on Thanksgiving. Breakfast was orange cinnamon rolls! Just the Pillsbury kind, nothing fancy, but they’re special since I so rarely buy these.

Thankful non-Thursday: One of the joys in life is clean sheets, so I had to take a picture after I made my bed up clean. Hey…how did he get in there? 🙂 That’s my orca, Finnegan! I’m a grownup.

More fall: Photo taken in the past couple of weeks.

Where are they now? While I’m being random, here’s my old Cabbage Patch doll that I told you about. My mom sent me a photo she had taken after she restored her from her one-armed state and sewed her a new dress. She is now apparently living a happy life in New Mexico with my niece.

Disappointing fact: People have said I look like a Cabbage Patch doll. 😐

How has your Thanksgiving break been? We get three days off from work, so I have five days of down time. It’s actually been really awesome! I managed to do a little cleaning and filing, I cooked foods I normally am too lazy to make, I’ve almost finished season 7 of The Office after signing up for a free month of Netflix, I talked to some of my family members, shopped, paid bills, slept in, read, played games, planned out some of my gift-giving, listened to music, and have been extremely lazy at some moments. Now I just need to not feel guilty about it and I’ll be great.

Have a nice weekend!

Food Friday

What’s this? Yes, it’s Food Friday! These are from the past month plus.

Chicken salad sandwich.

I learned how to make ranch dressing in a delicious way–just double the seasoning and use buttermilk!

Finally I was successful at cooking beans from dried.

Except they were a little too done and mushy, so I made them into refried beans!

Lime Pie Fudge that I made a friend for his birthday.

Delicious breakfast sandwich.

Turkey sandwich on a cheddar bagel.

I couldn’t decide which photo to keep, so you get both.

Crab quiche from Bistro Maison and Creamy Crock Pot Chicken from Jessica’s Kitchen.

Delicious stir fry from Chang’s Mongolian Grill (free meal on your birthday!).

Shari’s Berries! A birthday gift from Dania.

Also from Shari’s Berries: a caramel apple with white chocolate. This was SO GOOD.

Until next time, may all your meals be delish!

Making Pasties

When I was visiting a friend a couple of weekends ago, his dad (who’s originally from Montana) made pasties as a special dinner. I’ve heard of pasties through a couple of Montanans, but had never seen them before. When I brought them up in another online forum, I was told they are also big in Michigan (specifically the Upper Peninsula). Friends tell me they became popular as a meal for miners who needed something portable that didn’t require a plate and utensils.

Anywho, I figured it might be fun to take a few photos of the pasty-making process. They aren’t world-class photos, but I think we’ll all live.

I’m sure B would want me to mention that he made the pie crust ahead of time and felt it was a little too dry/crumbly as a result. Just in case you’re inspecting these photos with an eagle eye. Later they decided to warm the dough and add some water to bring it back to it’s pliable self.

S peels carrots for the filling which is basically ground beef, carrots, onions and potatoes. After rolling out the dough and scooping a generous portion of filling onto the center, B added a pat of butter.

Then the pouch is sealed, and a vent is cut into the top.

Ready for the oven!

After they bake for about an hour at 350 (with bit of water added into the vent halfway through), they are ready to eat. This one broke on top a bit, but that means you can see the filling better.

It’s popular to serve them with beef gravy. The end result is not unlike a pot pie, but the awesome thing is that they don’t contain peas like store-bought pot pies often do (so gross!).

I couldn’t stay for the official meal, so they sent me home with two unbaked pasties. If this finished one looks wrong, it’s because I had nothing to compare it to. 🙂

Food Friday

Yes, it’s another edition of Food Friday! I finally gathered up enough so-so photos to make a reasonable post.

This is just another photo from those Pretzel Buttons I made for my family.

Pulled pork sandwich.

Dinner at Katrina’s: salmon, zucchini and rice pilaf.

Just something I whipped up with what I had available.. broccoli, potatoes and sausage.

Stroganoff – this was the first time I ever made it myself. Katrina gave me the idea and I froze helpings of it for my lunches the next week.

My coworker and his wife just had a new baby girl, so I made these pink Rice Krispy Treats to bring to work.

I put chocolate chips inside and white chocolate on top.

Pasta with a creamy wine, chicken and artichoke sauce. This was also intended for freezing and having at lunches, but it didn’t really reheat well.

Water and Diet Pepsi – my drinks when I went to lunch with Tina.

That’s all I’ve got. Have you had anything delicious lately?