Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One little word

My one little word for 2009 is FEED.

I love to cook, and I will of course continue to feed my family [pretty much] healthy and [hopefully] delicious meals every day in the coming year. But I want to expand my focus to include:

~ feeding others. Going forward, every Sunday night is Open Dinner at the Meltzers'. Please feel free to join us for the evening meal, served at six. Just let me know by noon if you're coming. You're all welcome!

~ feeding my creativity. Nature, art galleries, bookstores and blogs are regular sources of inspiration for me, and I will continue to drink from these wells; I would also like to take classes and mingle with more artists this year.

~ setting a lovely table. I noticed at Christmas that I tend to just spread out a tablecloth and put the food on it; I'd like to work on making beautiful table settings too.

~ food photography. Now that I have a fabulous macro lens, I want to use it! I am in awe of spectacular food photography, and want to develop skills in this field.

~ feeding my dreams, through savings and visualizations.

~ feeding my health, physical and mental. Stretching, hiking, breathing deeply, yoga, walking ... I will spend time every day on one or more of these.

I'm looking forward to a very well-fed year.

What's YOUR one little word?

Last views of 2008

We had planned a trip to the snow today, but the recent week of warm weather has melted all the local white stuff. So we decided to hike at the beach instead.Although it was sunny and warm at home, the coastline was chilly and misty. We climbed Point Dume, armed with binoculars, [some of us] optimistic about whale or dolphin sighting.To our delight, there was a pod of dolphins close to shore! I was especially happy that Josh was there to see them. He's never seen dolphins in the wild here, and has scoffed at my claim that I frequently see them on my way to work. A few actually did big leaps for us, but the only thing I managed to record was the after-splash.When we climbed back down to the beach, Josh sat in the car with the heater running (he HATES the cold) while Lauren danced with delight at the water's edge.

It's been a good year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December views, day 30

I didn't find the perfect calendar, so I made my own, personalized version. Now I'm ready for the new year. Are you?

Monday, December 29, 2008

December views, day 29

Unlike the north-eastern U.S. states, Southern California isn't known for its spectacular seasonal foliage. But there's a tree on my street that takes my breath away at this time of year.
It is just. so. yellow.
The bright gold against the achingly blue sky -- washed so very clean by recent rain -- just says "L.A. winter" to me. Gorgeous.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

December views, day 28

Josh hauled out the crate of old photos tonight, and he and Lauren spent a lovely couple of hours reminiscing. Since switching to digital, we haven't figured out a good way to back up and access the many, many images we record. How do YOU catalog and store your digital images so that you can enjoy them again later?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

December views, day 27

The morning was spent with Evie, exploring Union Station, Olvera Street and Chinatown. We've picked up our Walking L.A. books again, and look forward to completing the last few trips.
In the afternoon, Josh and I went to Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, to see Mark Ruwedel's photographic exhibition of abandoned railroads. Sadly, the gallery was closed, so we drove to the beach to photograph the sunset instead. Then home to build a roaring fire. I know most people will snort with derision when I say this, but it's chilly here!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Who sent me this?

Do you know? Enclosed were two teabags and a tricky little handmade book with stitched covers. Very endearing, very intriguing. Thank you, mystery sender!

December views, day 26

We're some pretty happy campers around here.
My fabulous sister sent me these gorgeous fabrics for Christmas, from talented Australian textile designers Hollabee, Pippijoe and Lara Cameron. Mmmm, yummy. They are mostly fat quarters, with a couple of half metres. What shall I do with them?

The whole family's gone crazy over my new macro lens, as you can see:

Finally, I have to present you with an up-close food shot. These were a big hit at yesterday's feast, so I thought I'd share the recipe too.
Super Simple Ricotta Chive Mini Tarts
2 sheets bought pie pastry
250g ricotta
50g grated tasty or cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons finely snipped chives
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Mini muffin baking tray
1. Preheat oven to 210°C. Cut 2" rounds of pastry and place in lightly greased baking tray holes.
2. Mix together the two cheeses, eggs and chives in a bowl. Spoon some into each case. Bake for 10-15 minutes until pastry and cheese are golden.
Serve hot or cold.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

December views, day 25

Another wonderful Christmas Day, filled with friends, laughter, silly hats, great food, a warm fire, and love.

You can see all the photos here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

December views, day 24

Christmas pyjamas, well received.

Happy, happy Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

December views, day 23

The Christmas Eve performance is a Lauren tradition, but she won't be here at the appointed hour tomorrow evening. So she requested we watch her dance this afternoon instead. Two numbers, with all her signature moves. Ah, Christmas just wouldn't be the same without her dances.

Earlier in the day I made some oh-my-god-delicious sweet/spicy/salty nuts that I am trying desperately to keep my hands off until Christmas Day. Here's the recipe:

2 cups unsalted mixed nuts
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
kosher salt

Toast nuts in a dry skillet over low heat until fragrant. Drop in butter to melt, and toss and cook nuts for a few minutes longer. Meanwhile, stir together the sugars and cayenne in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the nuts and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar caramelizes. Transfer nuts to a baking sheet, spread in a single layer and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Let cool. Try not to eat them all at once.

Monday, December 22, 2008

December views, day 22

I left work early enough to see the sun set over the Pacific. On the other side of this ocean, my son wakes up on his yacht, and my father sees the briny blue from his kitchen window. Hi Dad! Hi Jesse and Rhea! I wave across the waves to you.

I am now off work till after New Year. Yayy! It'll be my first real break since starting this job last March. I plan a lot of reading, hiking, and art time. R&R at its best.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

December views, day 21

Dog Lovers' Monopoly, an early gift for the resident dog lover.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

December views, day 20

In our house, dishwashing is man's work. Ian's the #1 dishwasher; if he's not here, Josh takes it on. I've been trying to get Lauren acclimatized to the task. After all, when Ian leaves home next year it'll be her after-dinner chore. She is exceedingly unimpressed with the idea. Her hands are way too dainty for all that yucky food. I'll have to get her some rubber gloves with faux fur cuffs, I think. But for now, I'm grateful for my dishwashing men.

Friday, December 19, 2008

December views, day 19

On the way home. In case you ever need it, the tsunami evacuation route is up this side street. Good to know.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

December views, day 18

I take a lot of photos on my commute, mostly while stopped at lights, but sometimes while moving (I keep my eyes on the road, honestly. I just point, shoot, and hope for the best.) This one includes the dirty marks on the windscreen, at no extra charge. Click to embiggen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December views, day 16

I was making good time on my morning commute, so I stopped at Malibu to enjoy ten minutes' beach peace. Thank you, seagulls, for your perfect birdiness.

Monday, December 15, 2008

December views, day 15

This has been a favourite potluck dish of mine for nearly ten years. I annotated the cookbook in Feb 1999 with the note "Wonderful mix of flavours." It's my contribution to tomorrow's departmental holiday luncheon.

Lentil, Olive and Mandarin Salad
Adapted from Weight Watchers' In A Flash cookbook

1 cup dried lentils
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
One 11-ounce can mandarin orange sections, drained*
1 small red onion, diced
1/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Put lentils in a saucepan covered by 2 inches of water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes or until tender but not falling apart. Drain and run under cold water to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix the lemon juice, oil, garlic, cumin and salt. Gently stir in the lentils, mandarin sections, onion, olives and parsley.

*You can use fresh mandarins or small oranges instead. Cut off the membranes from each section.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

December views, day 14

I'm on the home stretch with Christmas gifts. Not having a baby handy, I used a very endearing monkey to test out my SIL's baby wrap. Seems to work just fine. In fact, I experienced a flashback to my babywearing days (could it really be 20-odd years ago?) Some days I think I'd have another if I could. I love babies. But I also love a good night's sleep.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December views, day 13

Took a misty, drizzly hike in Franklin Canyon with my friend Gina this morning. Spot the bunny.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December views, day 11

So SoCal. Love the seagull.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

December views, day 9

Chipotle meatballs, ready to take to work tomorrow for the holiday potluck.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

December views, day 6

After the HSL (housework/shopping/laundry) was done today, I offered Lauren some suggestions of places we could go this afternoon. A Kwanzaa festival. A Festival of Lights celebration. The Local World's Fair. She looked at them all and said, "How about a hike?"

Absolutely, my dear. I gave her the book to pick one, and off we went.

It was just lovely, strenuous and beautiful. And on the way home ...

...serenaded by love songs from the back seat...a wonderful sunset.