Chester, the Cockroach: A family reunion

August 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

Chester, our beloved Cockroach, has in the last seven days…. multiplied. And not just by two.

One evening last week, Alex and I were leaving for our midnight walk when we noticed more than one dark shape below our doorstep. There were three. Chester had, apparently, invited his two brothers over for a little family get together.

We turned the outside light on.

And all their children. I kid you not; there were too many baby cockroaches to count.

Evidently, Alex had noticed this surplus of cockroaches the night before, but had neglected to tell me. I think he was trying to protect my ability to sleep at night. At night — when all the cockroaches come out to chill in front of our apartment.

We talked to our landlord about it, and apparently this is a seasonal thing. The cockroaches never come inside (they would have a flight of stairs to make it up anyways), and he would spray for them soon.

All I know is tonight when we returned from our walk (which was a different walk then we had left for the week before), one of Chester’s brothers tried to chase me through the grass. I screamed like a maniac, jumped up the stairs, open the door, slammed it and left Alex outside to fight them off for me.

Not really. But I did scream and jump, just as I had earlier in the night when I saw a cricket. My poor husband.

Chester, I understand your desire to host your family party on our doorstop. You are, after all, a butler, and hosting must be one of your primary joys in life. But your brothers are a little wild, and the kids are over-running the place. The fun needs to stop. Now.


The (injured) cook and her (disproportionate) kitchen

April 21, 2010 § 5 Comments

This week I am learning to live life from a different angle.  My sad, damaged plantar fascias are having trouble healing,  so I have been told by the doctor to help the process by using them as minimally as possible.

This means I now must try to live my life from the seated position.  Working as a secretary makes the workday fairly stationary – I am taking advantage of the term “desk job.”  Sleeping happens to also be a predominately sedentary activity, save those prone to sleep-walking, which, fortunately I am not. Unfortunately, the third thing I give my life to (aside from working and sleeping), does not easily oblige itself to restful positions  — meal preparation.

In the kitchen countertops are built for someone to use while standing, making  them about 1.5 feet too high.  This means that as I try to do the dirty dishes from a seated position, I am knocking other items  into the sink (so far, nothing has been broken).  When I try to cut baked chicken off the bone my arms become achy and my progress is slow.  Maybe I could kneel, but there is only so much pressure that knee joints will take before they too join the force of dysfunctional body parts.

So I sit in my chair in the kitchen and manuever my body every which way to reach what I need.  At least in a small kitchen I can reach the stove, 90% of our cabinets, our fridge and our sink without moving the lower half of my body, or the chair.

Nonetheless (despite the mostly easy-reaches of our little kitchen), I can no longer cook alone.  I cannot reach the spices, I cannot move quickly, I cannot run and leap to hit the smoke alarm when the eggs start burning.  It is now a team effort — Alex is learning to cook.  While he struggles to get over his fear of raw meat, I am doing my part by taking over dish-duty, a task I can attend to comfortably (no matter how many innocent bystanders I knock into the sink).

On Stewardship…

March 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

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“…to my way of thinking, God has more important things on his mind. Whatever the level of competency we reach is up to us–only us. It’s like the story of the Englishman who was walking down a cobblestone path when he came upon a small cottage with a beautiful garden next to it. The Englishman paused in admiration and said to the gardener who was down on his hands and knees pulling weeds, `Sir, what a beautiful garden God has blessed you with.’ The gardener replied, `You should have seen it when God was taking care of it by himself.’ Whatever gifts the Good Lord may have blessed us with, we are the ones who must get down on our hands and knees and do the work. It’s up to us to make the garden beautiful.” John Wooden

I am interested in and somewhat delighted by the ideas represented in I am also learning that good stewardship takes many forms.  Not only do I think that it is “up to us” to use and grow our particular gifts over the course of our lifetimes, but also that we must “dig in” to the raw materials of each day and make what we can of them.  I recognize that all people are given different circumstances and materials to work with, and that some people could be perfectly happy without seeking constant growth.  It is not by right or necessity that humans make gardens, but working hard to create things we admire can be a source of pleasure.

A couple weeks ago Alex and I purchased flowers, soil, and two clay pots.  It was a gorgeous day outside and we realized that our neglected patio needed some color, and our neglected hearts needed a dose of Spring.  After returning home with the flowers and taking a break for some sweet, iced tea, we proceeded to dig into the soil and position our lavender and double-impatiens as the belated day-light savings sun sunk lower in the sky.

This new little piece of beauty at our apartment is so enjoyable.  I like to think that in the acts of choosing, paying for, and planting our flowers, Alex and I were “good stewards” that afternoon.

Weekend Getaway (with a focus on food)

January 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

This weekend Alex and I had the chance to get away to Cayucos, a small, sleepy beachtown just up the coast from Pismo and just south of Cambria.

How nice it is to leave town, even for a couple of days.  Alex and I spent Friday afternoon driving, and arrived Friday night with just enough time to peruse the tiny grocery store and pick up a few essentials (essentials, for us, were tortilla chips, corn tortillas, hummus, apples, bacon, milk, eggs, cheese (gouda and cheddar) and butter. Oh, and two pints of icecream. we also brought popcorn and candy. Not the most well-rounded diet. so what.)

Saturday we perused antique shops and went wine-tasting. And then we went out for dinner. And oh my, was it delicious.  And affordable.

Every January, the upscale restaurants in the wine country area participate in something called restaurant month.  In this, the restaurants offer three course meals with wine pairings for only $30.  This is a good deal, people.

My meal consisted of (sorry for the absence of wine pairings, I can’t remember any of them):

1st course: baby greens tossed in a citrus vinaigrette, with a warm goat cheese round, tomatoes, cooked onions, and HALF A BULB OF ROASTED GARLIC (with a miniature fork to remove the cloves).

2nd course: salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes (probably my favorite part of the meal), green beans, and cooked spinach

3rd course: ginger creme brulee. with fresh berries. and orangey spicy jelly stuff.

There you have it. A memorable meal.

Alex and I thoroughly enjoyed a relaxing weekend away. And after a drive back on wet roads, with rainfall and traffic, we are safely home.

A Chicago Wedding

October 21, 2009 § 1 Comment

A couple of weeks ago, Alex and I flew out to Chicago for my brother’s wedding.  It was a happy time for sure, as I got to witness my brother and his sweet new wife say their vows and celebrate – yet this trip also had its moments of “excitement”.
the family

the family

Besides the many adventures involved in navigating the city and wedding activities, I had decided to help my brother and his wife by baking their wedding cakes! Since this was a first time deal for me, and across the country, and per the bride’s wishes, I decided to keep it simple — three smaller cakes, no tiers, and 6 dozen cupcakes which local friends will bake and I will only frost.


the kitchen

the frosting
the frosting

My family stayed in a condo, and the kitchen was actually quite nice. Once I arrived I quickly set to work to make:

the cakes

the cakes (or some of them)

-two double-layered mocha spice cakes

-one quadruple layered pistachio-hazelnut cake

-3 giant vats of frosting: chocolate ganache, buttercream, and pistachio buttercream.

There was also a third kind of cake present in the cupcakes – an Applesauce cake. (Pretty much all the recipes are Martha Stewart)

Anyways, apart from a few nervous moments (1. the GIANT tub of chocolate ganache, when needed for spreading, was rather…frozen…I think it took about 2 hours of constant stirring in a dangerously constructed double-boiler (thanks Mom and Rachel), at which point it was just melty….great, 2. Shakily trying to frost all 72 cupcakes while waiting til 5 p.m. for lunch because the loyal boys run to the local hot dog joint was upset by a flat tire, a blown tire, an hour long line, and a late-spotted sign that read “cash only”, and 3. Transporting all 72 cupcakes and cakes across city streets in the rain as we rushed to rehearsal dinner, ), all went well, and the cakes seemed to turn out:

See —



the lovely bride and groom

the lovely bride and groom

— and now, it is my turn to eat cake. Alex and I are in the process of eating the top tier of our wedding cake (come on, who can wait a year?)

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