Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 28

Chili + cornbread* + brownies + tropical fool + family + five good friends. Another lovely Sunday night dinner.

*Thanks for the recipes, Deb. They were a hit.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27

My Saturdays are usually spent doing HSL (housework/shopping/laundry). Today, I blew it all off, and decided to take Lauren (who has been away for a week with grandmothers -- I misssed her!) and go check out the Palos Verdes Peninsula instead. I had vague thoughts of whale watching and maybe a short hike; but mostly just escaping to a cooler clime and hanging out with my girl.

First stop was lunch in a cute little garden café.
While waiting for the food, Lauren wandered off to photograph this fountain. On downloading the photos just now, I was bemused by the women -- I've seen water pouring from stone mouths and penises before, but never from nipples!

We sauntered along the bluff for a mile or two. We've missed the grey whale migration -- again! How come I've lived here for 12 years and never got it together to see a whale? Next year, next year.

Then it was a crawl back up the 405 to the west San Fernando Valley, watching the car's thermometer steadily rise from 72° to 102°. Ah, the joys of living in the hottest part of the city. Remind me again, why am I here?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 25

Morning in the front yard.
Fragile beauty.

You can clearly see why they're called Kangaroo Paws.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22

I don't know about you, but I've never been a fan of the baked tortilla chips (corn chips) that you can buy in the supermarket. Crisp cardboard, in my opinion. So for this recipe, I decided to make my own. Much more delicious -- in fact, they were in danger of being all snavelled before I got to crushing them for the casserole.

Black Bean Chilaquile (serves 4 to 6)
6 six inch (15cm) corn tortillas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I like to blanch them and remove the skins first)
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1-1/2 cups cooked black beans (1 can, drained)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups rinsed, stemmed and chopped Swiss chard (from my garden! Yeah!) or spinach
8 ounces grated sharp Cheddar
2 cups red salsa (I used medium heat, and while it was fine for me, it was too hot for Josh. So if you are serving to sensitive palates, you might want to use half salsa and half chopped tomatoes)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Brush both sides of the tortillas with 1 tbs of the oil. Stack the tortillas and cut the pile into sixths to make chips. Spread the chips out in a single layer on two large baking sheets. Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating the baking sheets once, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, then crush with your hands.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions in the remaining oil for about 8 minutes, until translucent. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, black beans, lime juice, salt and pepper and continue to sauté for another 5 to 10 minutes, until just heated through.

In another saucepan, blanch the greens in boiling water to cover for 1 to 3 minutes, until just wilted but still bright green. Drain immediately and set aside.

Prepare an 8x8 inch (20x20cm) casserole dish or baking pan with a light coating of oil. Spread half of the crushed tortilla chips on the bottom. Spoon the sautéed vegetables over the tortilla chips and sprinkle on about two-thirds of the grated Cheddar. Arrange the greens evenly over the cheese and spoon on half of the salsa. Finish with the rest of the tortilla chips and top with the remaining salsa and Cheddar. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 16

I feel like I'm in flux, transitioning to something new, but it's an illusion. Really, there's no evolution happening. I just feel caught midway, because I'm back from a trip, and the kids get out of school in the next few days. But for me, there's a summer of hard work looming ahead, while Lauren's in art camp and who knows what Ian will be doing.

I wish I were facing more of an evolution, a growing into something new. A few days spent on the lush east coast, and a few more spent immersed in art, have left me wanting something more than 'more of the same old same old.' The long commute is starting to get to me. I haven't seen a dolphin for weeks. I need to shake things up. Or something!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

July 14

I painted a lot of backgrounds, and a lot of faces over the past two days. This is the only piece that I've declared to be finished, and Lauren fell in love with it as soon as I walked in the door. So I'll frame it for her room.

I really learned a lot from Misty, and I feel delighted and invigorated by the two days of intensive art. I have a feeling that the sewing machine is going to get a whole lot less attention in the coming weeks. Right now, I'm all about the paint.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

June 13

I spent today at Carol Parks' studio, a delightful place.

The talented and lovely Misty Mawn taught a dozen of us how she paints faces.

She's a good teacher. I'll show you my efforts after tomorrow, because yes, I'm going back for another day of it! Yay!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11

Pennsylvania is very beautiful. So very different from Southern California. So green.
And they have roofs on the ground.

And unique fungi.

It's all very charming. But I would rather be home. I can't exactly say I'm going to return home rested, given the insane sleep deprivation this job entails. But I will have read my four novels, so that's something, right?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

June 7

Lately it feels like my life is coming unravelled. When I start asking myself several times a week, "What am I doing here?" I know it's time to hit the reset button. This coming week includes four days of business travel which throws the family completely off-kilter. I'm only hoping that the enforced time-out will give me an opportunity to meditate and still the stress which is boiling my blood of late. Some reading, some sketching, some endorphin-boosting workouts, perhaps? I want to return calmer and happier than I am leaving. It's the only way that the disruption, the burden on an already-sick Josh, will have been worth it.

So I pack a camera, a journal, three novels, workout gear. Oh, and a borrowed, deliciously thin, virginal, MacBook Air. Perhaps I'll actually get the chance to blog while I'm gone. That would be nice.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Moving it

My work life has ratcheted up to a whole new level of craziness recently. Getting out of the building at lunch time is a challenge. Yet the free donuts and bagels still call. This means that the "Chiat 15" (OK, 18) that I gained in the first six months and lost in the second six months have crept back on. It is SO time to do something about it.

So a challenge from the inimitable Pip Lincolne was just what I needed. Whether it's easy and convenient or not, I commit to moving this body for 20 minutes a day three times a week for the next month.

Will you join us?