Two disclaimers: All of these pictures are just straight out of the camera and of poor quality. Mainly because I am laughing too hard to do anything else. Also, if you're a male and squeamish at the thought of girl's underwear, just close your browser now. Don't even go here.
So tomorrow is the annual inspection of the apartments here. Jess and I decided to have a little fun with the people who will be in our home tomorrow. We won't be here, but have laughed hysterically at the thought of being the person to walk in on this. Her reenactment is below.
Knowing that Henry has scared people in the past, we took it a step further and moved him right next to the front door. Yes people, this close. I really wish I could be here for the moment that door opens.
Then we took it even further and decided that it would be mighty awkward for a guy (or girl) to walk in on underwear strewn all over the place. We took some and just threw them all over the apartment. Any of our friends from Bellingham might recognize a few key pieces. (Hey fellow Pretty Panty Exchangers).
I am only showing you a very small amount of the underwear thrown about. However, I had to absolutely highlight this last picture because it is a wonderful tableau. Those have got to be the absolute worst pair of granny panties anyone has ever seen, right? I had to dig down really far in the drawer for that one. And then there's the wonderful little number I received as a gift about 7 years ago that really has never seen use. I thought it would be a nice little vignette for the person walking in on Henry. Yes? Yes.
For those of you not in the know, I was in a rollover car accident three years ago, injured my neck & shoulder, and was in chiropractic & massage therapy for 6 months afterwards. Since that time, I have continued to go see a massage therapist every month or two to maintain the mobility that took forever to regain. However, time just slipped away from me and I haven't had a massage for about five months now. Knowing that I needed to go back, I scheduled an appointment with someone who works in the same office as my regular therapist but who I had never been to before. Going to a new therapist is always a crapshoot because you just never know what you are going to get and how your body will react to their touch. Believe me, not everyone's techniques work for every patient.
I sure found out quickly that this lady has got to like running torture chambers in her spare time. She poked and pounded and prodded me until I almost screamed in agony. But call me a masochist, because it really does feel a lot better. I will be going back to her soon.
Now, if you've ever had a massage, I'm sure that like me, you have wanted to giggle at some point. Maybe they hit a ticklish spot. Maybe whatever they were doing to you seemed absolutely ridiculous. Maybe you full frontal flashed a male masseuse (Jess' true story). Maybe they leaned over too far when standing near your the top of you and your head became encased in their boobs (my true story). But whatever it is that makes you want to giggle, there can't be that many that beat mine today.
I was laying on the table facedown with my arms at my sides, palms up. My massuse was working on some part of my back, completely tearing apart all muscle structure and piecing it back together where it should go. I was in agony and lay there trying not to whimper, when suddenly she goes for some long reaching strokes and leans over my body. My hand was at the side of the table and as she reached across, her body moved closer, causing her crotch to jump right into my hand. That's right, I cupped my masseuse's bits. At that point my mind was whirling. Do I move my hand and acknowledge what just happened? Or does she not realize that she's right on top of my hand and that will only make it more awkward? What was I to do? Luckily she changed positions soon thereafter, leaving me to try to not tense up from holding in my mirth.
Seriously? That just happened? How does this stuff always happen to me?
Before I start, I would like to apologize to my sister for the deplorable condition of my cuticles. I know you are cringing Shan, but just scroll down so my offending thumb is no longer in your view.
The majority of the food I show you is dinner food so I decided to change that tonight. This little burrito is my current obsession because it takes only 5 minutes to make. Note that. FIVE MINUTES! Perfect for the morning when I'm sick of cereal and want something filling to start my day. And yes, I am one of those people who have breakfast every day. I was always sporadic about it pre-post-college (a.k.a. my life up to college graduation), but found that it helped me so much if I had a little something in the morning. I was much more awake for life. And I prefer to be present with fully functioning senses when I get to work. Hence, daily brekkies.
This little number has taken years of perfection. I had a love/hate relationship with breakfast burritos for forever but couldn't figure out why. I would absolutely crave them, but once I got halfway through, I just wanted to barf. In college, I literally had to have Jess remind me not to have them when I got a hankerin'. I would forget that I hated them. After experimentation, I discovered the two things that made the burritos disgusting to me: the tortilla and salsa. To remedy, I never use salsa anymore on these babies. Salsa anywhere else is amazing, just don't put it on my eggs. I also switched brands of tortillas and never looked back.
I'm not going to post an actual recipe because these are so ridiculously easy, so just bear with the pictures and commentary.
First, prick a small/med red potato several times with a fork and stick in the microwave for 3-5 minutes, until tender when stuck with a fork.
While you're waiting for that to cook, stick a pan on the stove and heat over medium heat. In a small bowl, use a fork to whip 1-2 eggs (depending on hunger level) and throw them in the pan, scrambling away.
While that's all happening, you can chop up some tomatoes and herbs. I happen to have basil and baby orange tomatoes from The Farm that I wanted to use. You could substitue chives, cilantro, etc.
Once the potato is done, mash it with the back of a fork. My favorite part is the "pop" that happens with the first smash going through the skin of the potato.
Add salt & pepper to taste
Assemble your burrito. I do the potato, then tomatoes, herb, and lastly the eggs.
Roll it up and eat your little cylinder of fresh, filling flavors.
I saved my third and final post of the night to tell you that I have found it people! The recipe I have been searching for for years! The mac 'n cheese that has won my heart (and my stomach). I have tried version upon version for this beloved classic but never found one that I wanted to claim for myself. But THIS IS IT!!!! So perfect in every way. Creamy, yet not too squidgey. (Yes, that's a word) Baked with a golden crust and full of flavor. Oh my word, spoon me up a dish and I'll be happy forever. I found the original recipe here, and surprisingly enough, was able to actually follow it to a T. That NEVER happens.
Well maybe I spoke too soon. I just remembered that I did add extra cheese. But I always do that. I like my Mac to be super cheesy. One thing that I wouldn't do next time is add the Parmesan on the top. I didn't really like the crust it made and ended up picking it off and throwing it in the garbage. But what was underneath the parm was the delicious panko breadcrumbs, which just rocked my world. I would also like to mention that I will not eat my Mac on a plate. I took a picture of it on a plate for you, dear reader, but always have to have mine in a bowl. You can bet that I slid it off that plate and into my beloved dish and ate it with a spoon. No forks for Mac. Please don't even try to hand one to me. It has to be a spoon.
Macaroni and Cheese
16 oz. elbow pasta 5 Tbs. + 3 Tbs. of butter (1 stick total) 1 medium onion, finely diced 1/2 C. flour 5 C. milk 4 C. shredded cheddar cheese 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 3/4 - 1 C. panko bread crumbs 1/2 C. grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook pasta according to directions to the longest recommended time for the softest pasta. Meanwhile, melt the 5 Tbs. of butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Cook onions until soft (about 4 minutes). Add flour and cook for about 4 more minutes. Add milk and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium high and cook for a few minutes until mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Turn off heat, add cheese and mix well. Add cooked macaroni to cheese mixture and incorporate well. Add ground nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer mac and cheese to a large casserole dish or keep in a dutch oven. Melt the 3 Tbs. of butter and mix with panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle buttered panko and parmesan cheese on top and bake for 25-30 until bubbly and brown on top. (If using a tall dutch oven, you may have to broil for a few minutes to brown the breadcrumbs.)
Today's delicious rain made me long for fall. For red leaves on trees, brown leaves crunching underfoot, and the wind that makes them skitter along pavement. For pumpkin patches and curved gourds. For days on end of rain. For caramel apple cider. For hot soup and crusty bread.
I decided that I had to get a cider from Starbucks to celebrate (almost) fall. After taking one sip of it, I knew I had to make soup tonight. There was no ifs-ands-or-buts about it. Only soup would do. Hearty, rich, satisfying soup that makes you feel warm fuzzies and want to wear every piece of fleece you own.
I found this recipe at AllRecipes. I have a problem when I make soups. I seem to somehow make about ten times more soup than the recipe says will be the end result. Ok, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but still, I feel like every soup recipe is just plain wrong. It totally can't be me screwing up each time. Nope, it's every single recipe for soup that has ever been printed that is messed up. There's a conspiracy I tell you.
I rewrote the recipe below to reflect what I ended up doing to it. I have the hardest time following directions exactly. It made a large amount, so I froze a handful of containers for lunches later in the year when we are in a hurry.
5 bratwursts, casings removed
5 small red potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
5 cups water
1 medium head cabbage, chopped
3 cups milk, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
In a stock pot over medium high heat, saute the sausage for 10 minutes, or until browned and crumbled. If excess fat, drain well and discard the fat.
In the same pot over high heat, combine the browned sausage, potatoes, onion and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cabbage, stir to incorporate, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups of the milk and heat slowly to just under a boil. (Note: Don't try to do this too fast, or the milk will burn on the bottom of the pot.)
In a separate small bowl, mix the flour with the remaining milk, and add to the pot slowly, stirring constantly, so that the flour does not clump. (Note: Make sure you get out all the lumps because they will not cook out on their own.)
When the mixture in the pot thickens, add the cheese and stir off and on until the cheese has melted.
Oh my word, I have the best coworkers. Ever. We always celebrate birthdays with a cake. Basically we'll use any reason to have a treat. This time around, there was a joke circulating that we were going to get Warehouse Boy to pop out of our accountant's cake. Someone came up with the idea that since popping out of a cake was not really feasible, we should put his picture on it instead. They decided that his head should go on Borat's body, so they asked me to work a little Photoshop magic and make it look real. So I did, and this is what it turned out as:
Note, the background is supposed to be blue water, but for some reason it didn't turn out like that when they sprayed the picture on the cake.
These are the reactions of my coworker when she saw her cake. The pictures are unedited and a little blurry because I realized I had accidentally put it on the wrong setting when I was taking them.
In the next two, you can see Warehouse Boy leaning against the side of the door grinning. He loved it.
Don't you wish you worked somewhere where a picture like that was not only ok, but encouraged?! I love my job.
I'm on a roll here with posting, so I promise that this is the 4th and last entry for today. A couple weekends ago I went with the fam to Whidbey Island. We had a nice time just hanging out and relaxing. These are some of the pictures that I just never got around to showing you yet. I really have to keep up with all these bits of news I have to share.
Pepitas are pumpkin seeds. They are full of delicious taste and are the perfect base for seasoning. I made a batch of this last weekend and Jess and I have been munching on handfuls all week long. I adapted it from the recipe I found here. Just a warning, these are spicy!
2 c. raw, hulled pepitas half of a lime, juiced 1 tsp. olive oil 1/2 tsp. ground cumin 1 tsp. (or more, to taste) salt 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper 1/2-1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
Mix lime juice, oil, and spices in a bowl. Add pepitas, and toss to coat. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast at 375 degrees until golden, puffed, and fragrant. This took about 10 minutes for me, but it will vary depending on the size of the seeds. Check every 3-5 minutes or so, and stir to ensure even roasting.
This is the recipe that my mom always makes. It's the one her mom always made. It's hands down the favorite banana bread that I have tried. And to me, banana bread isn't real unless it had chocolate chips in it. Don't bother serving me any that is plain or with nuts. It just has to have the chocolate. The following is her exact recipe. I made a big batch last weekend and have given a bunch away and eaten quite a few myself.
1 c. butter
3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. mashed bananas
1 tsp. salt
(Will appear pretty runny.) Then add:
4 c. flour alternately with 1/2 c. buttermilk
(make buttermilk with regular milk by putting 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice in the milk and stirring)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Pour into well-greased bread pans. 2 large or 4 small or 24 muffins. Bake @ 350 degrees - large for 1 hour, small for 50 minutes, muffins 40-50 min. Check with toothpick for doneness.
Jess found the hidden condom. In public. I hid it in her folded up dollar bills so that when she pulled them out to pay for something, it would go flying. And it certainly did. She was paying for a gatorade during a pit stop on a bike ride this morning.
She called and left me a message after the event. I called her back and left a message of me just laughing. Tee hee. I do so like pulling little pranks.
Last night I sat in our living room with friends, talking with pina coladas in our hands. We talked and talked about everything. A lot about boys. A little bit about our town and church. But mainly about a project we are going to be working on together for fun. A completely silly idea that has me so excited I could pee my pants. We talked and planned until long after the sun had gone down. There was something magical talking with friends in the dark. Something relaxing and fun. Something comfortable. I like these friends.
Before we settled in, I took some headshots of Katie for auditions she is going to be participating in. I did get some normal ones, but had to share these bloopers because they were too funny. I didn't ask permission, but I hope Katie doesn't mind. I'm sure she will just laugh.
That's right, chocolate and beans. Throw in some beer, spices, and broth, and you've got yourself a fabulous dinner. I can't really post the recipe because it's from the newest cookbook of Heidi's at 101Cookbooks. But I'm giving you a picture of it with the promise that if you really want to taste it, you can come over and try it. It made a huge batch so I've got some chillin' in the freezer waiting for another day.
I have a few more recipes to share from my marathon cooking spree today, but it's getting late and I'm tired. I'll post later this week, in between meetings galore.
After I loaded my car with my groceries today, I scouted Freddy's parking lot for the nearest cart return spot. I started to head there but the guy putting groceries in the car next to me told me he would take it over for me. Thanks anonymous stranger man. You made my day!
P.S. I am in the middle of cooking a bunch of stuff... there's going to be posting galore later on today.
Obviously it won't be put to it's traditional use (the whole good-girl-Christian-no-sex-til-marriage thing), but you can bet it will make appearances where she really wouldn't want it to be found. Oh, I have some good spots that I used when we were in college. Let's just say that you can readily get free ones in multiples places at WWU. Not that we did that or anything for supplies for pranks. Because obviously "It" was never talked about. Jess definitely didn't have roommates freshman year that had a poster displaying 100 different types. And we most certainly didn't have to sit through a class in our teaching program where a fellow student's first lesson was demonstrating proper useage. If we had sat through such a class, we would have had a hard time not giggling. So it's a good thing that totally didn't happen.
Jess is back. I would like to add "...with a vengance", but it doesn't seem quite right. She's back, but more like "...and we quickly settled into our old routines". It strikes me as funny that even with her being gone for so long, not much changed other than we hugged when we first saw each other. We aren't huggers, so this was our once-a-year-hug that was about due. Now that we have lived together for so long (7 years!) we just don't see any reason to hug. What's the point when your roommate doesn't much like touching? She's weird that way. And the more I say "hug" in my head, the funnier the word becomes to me, so I will tell you that I LOVE hugs, but only if I know you well. I don't want any inappropriate hugging like I get from some of my male coworkers. And if you're not my boyfriend I certainly don't want you to yet again mimic a coworker and kiss me on the top of my head while giving me a shoulder massage and then running your hands down my arms. True story. Still gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. But how the hell did this post about Jess coming home turn into a "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segment?
Anyway, all that to say that after a month apart it seems like something should have changed. But it didn't. And that makes me glad. Glad that we have a routine we can fall into. Glad that we're still the same people. Glad that we like each other enough to have lived together this long. Glad that our place, both where we live and in life, is comfortable and cozy. Glad that we understand each other. Glad that we are are ok. With everything.
I'm just glad. She's back. Life's good. God's great.
I am sitting here waiting and waiting and waiting for my roommie to finally get home. I've been living alone for over a month now while she's been in the Ukraine on a mission trip and I am about ready to burst with excitement over her imminent arrival. However, it is to be a bit delayed because her family FORGOT that she was flying in this evening. Yes, FORGOT. This is very like them. I even called her parents' house yesterday to make sure that their plans were in place to pick her up but when no one answered I didn't leave a message. I figured they were going to be all organized so I didn't need to worry. And all day today I kept fighting the urge to call them just to check in, but didn't want to be the pesky roommate who was super anxious for her friend to get home. Kinda like a kid on Christmas morning asking his parents if he can open his gifts now. How 'bout now? Please? Now? Pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaase?
So as I'm waiting, I am going to occupy my time with showing you how productive I was over the weekend. I managed to sort and re-organize my spices & baking/cooking staples. I buy pretty much everything in bulk thanks to my friend Freddy's fantastic assortment of bulk goods. And by Freddy, I do mean Mr. Meyer. I maybe was a little too subtle with the name. Oh, and he's not a personal friend. I just like saying he is. In case you were wondering.
All of these spices I had hanging out in plastic bags in a big bin and it was just too annoying to try to go through all of them looking for what I wanted. A few months ago I found an old spice rack with these bottles and bought it so that I could repurpose them for my spices. I think I threw the rack away. Or maybe Jess took it to Goodwill for me. She likes taking things there.
I was also tired of having my staples just mumbo-jumboed on my shelf. It was time for some containers, so I picked up these fine ones at World Market. The best part of these is that I get to write in chalk. I hate writing on chalkboards, but having just a small square to write on evokes early 1900's schoolhouses. I don't know why. It just does, ok. And I love everything prarie/schoolhouse/old-timey. However, each of these containers came with two whole pieces of chalk, so I now have enough to keep one of those teachers in writing form for a year. What I am to do with that much chalk is beyond me, but I have them wrapped in a brown wax paper bag, which is another item that I could wax on in fake nostalgia ad nauseum. I'll refrain. For the moment.
P.S. Aren't I so lucky to live in a place where the evening sun does marvelous things like this:
P.P.S. Jess just called from her parents' house and she's too tired and sick to her stomach to drive home so she is staying there tonight. Sigh. Tomorrow then.
I promise this is the last time I'm going to change the name of the blog. Truly. I couldn't help myself though. I was folding clothes tonight and all of a sudden the name just came to me. Inspired. Brilliant. All things wonderful. A play on my last name and my affinity for cooking all rolled into one: "Don't Choke". Oh, I just love me sometimes.
P.S. For the few of you who read this who don't know me (and some friends who I know have no idea themselves), my last name is Tjoelker, but pronounced "Choker". Do you get my witty title now? I'm mentally accepting your pats on my back while listening to the golf clap from those of you not able to reach through the crowd around me. Thank you kindly.
Need a recipe? I've got it. How 'bout a creative idea? Check. Witty Banter? Got scads. Organization? Details? Common Sense? Yes. Yes. And Yes. A last minute player for your ball game? Sure, if you want to lose.