17 January 2011

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

During Winter Break, my main squeeze and I went up to Seattle for a quick, random day trip. We started our day at Voula's Offshore Cafe for breakfast. Guy Fieri from the Food Network has been there. On their menu, they have an area of his recommendations. I chose "Billy's Biscuits", which was biscuits and sausage gravy, with hash browns, and eggs. (I was not a member of the Clean Plate club that day.)  I was hesitant about trying them, since I was sure that I didn't really like biscuits and gravy. I have a vague memory of trying it once as a kid, at Perkin's with my parents, and not liking it. But then again, all I ever ate at Perkin's was chocolate chip pancakes. (During college, I told my parents that I never liked the chocolate chip pancakes, but always ordered them because I was too scared to try anything else. Their responses were just blank stares. I don't know if they were shocked that a child wouldn't like chocolate chip pancakes, or if they were trying to figure out how many times I ordered it, even though I didn't like them.)

Anywho, Voula's changed my mind, and I've had biscuits and gravy on the brain ever since. There was no school today, so I figured it would be a good time to try it out. I used Alton Brown's Southern Biscuit recipe, except I used half whole wheat and half regular flour. My biscuits were more like hockey pucks than I had hoped, but they tasted good. I forgot to take pictures of the process until they came out of the oven.

Pay no attention to that blobby one on the lower left. He was the leftover dough. Couldn't bring myself to throw away dough.
I made my gravy using this recipe from Paula Deen. I liked it, but it got really thick after it sat. Next time, I'll use less flour to thicken it. But again, it tasted good.

I used this sausage that I found:
No MSG! Yeah!
 Next time, I might use turkey sausage. Probably a healthier option, in the long run. Until then, leftovers for dinner this week!

05 January 2011


When my main squeeze and I were in Portland last week, I found a Tatebanko kit in the art section of Powell's City of Books. According to the cover, tatebanko is a "forgotten Japanese art of creating amazing dioramas and scenic perspective from paper." For ten bucks, I figured a little art project that would become decor was a worthwhile purchase. 

I opened it up the other night, and was instantly confused. It came with all of these pieces...

... not to mention that the directions were originally in Japanese, and then translated to English. And they were sparse. The first direction basically read "Cut out the pieces, and glue them down, dummy." 

So I started cutting and gluing.

It was going well until I hit this roadblock:

Pieces 6, 7, 8 and 9, all had As, Bs, and Cs, on them. What am I supposed to do with that business? I just stuck with my  strategy to keep cutting and gluing, now in alphabetical order. 

Ooohh... it's coming together! 

Now it has sides! This was harder to accomplish than I had imagined.

And a front!

This finished project! I love it. I think it's the best 10 bucks (plus 2 hours of cutting and gluing) I've spent in awhile. 

Uh-oh. Leftover pieces. That's no good, right?

Um, Dear 20A, 20B, 21A and 21B- where the feez do you guys go?

Oh, I get it.

One of you holds up this explanation written in English. The other holds up the version in Japanese. (I'm assuming that it says the same thing in Japanese. It may say something along the lines of "Some dumb American bought this. Laugh at them." I'll never know the real truth.)

Anywho, it was a fun project. A little artsy, a little craftsy. Good stuff.

Oh, and I forgot my favorite part.

This dude:

It's a little surfer dude. If you go to the website, it suggests where to glue him. I'm trying to figure out a way to make him mobile, so I can move him all around the diorama. 

The whole time I was working on it (when I wasn't puzzling over the lack of directions) I was thinking of other applications for this technique. I wanted to buy more kits, but the company doesn't ship them outside of Japan. And, I can't buy them online from Powell's. And they are over $100 bucks on Amazon. So I'm thinking of making my own. I think Van Gogh's "Starry Night" would look amazing, if I can figure it out. And, wouldn't it be fun to make one out of personal pictures? Like a little diorama of a vacation or something? I have ideas. I'll keep you posted. 

(Also, "diorama" is nearly impossible for me to spell correctly. My fingers literally freeze on the keyboard, no idea where to go after the "di-". So I just fill in letters phonetically and then wait for the squiggly red line to appear underneath. Ah well. Can't be good at everything, right?)

04 January 2011

Bye, 2010!! Hi, 2011!!

(Warning: This post is long, and only has one picture. Read at your own risk.)

If you are one of the five people that read this blog, you'll know that I made a lot of my Christmas presents for people this year. Most of them I'm not super proud of, but there is one that I could live with.

I made this for my friend Erin, who also started a blog in 2010, called Punched at Recess. I always admire and appreciate Erin's outlook on life, and her blog is the perfect mix of intelligence and humor. She and her students had a run-in earlier this year with a one-eyed pigeon, which Erin deemed Cap'n Pidgey. I decided it would be fun to make her a little mascot of her pigeon friend.

So, my 2010 ended with a bunch of art projects, a couple fun little road trips, and an excellent Christmas and New Year's. 

Now, on to 2011, with a note about resolutions.
I make resolutions every year. Every year. For as long as I can remember. I'd also make resolutions at the beginning of the school year. And sometimes my birthday. I'm a goal-setter. The problem is, I'm not always a goal-reacher. As I was thinking of resolutions for this year, the same ones popped into my head... exercise more, lose weight, eat better, read more books, spend more time being creative, blah, blah, blah. When I made a joke to a friend about how most of the people at the Y this week won't be there in February, I silently thought "Man, I better still be there in February."

That got me to thinking... and I changed my resolutions this year. My resolution is to be realistic. That's it. Realism. I'm applying my realism to my goals (I'm not calling them resolutions anymore. They are goals now.). 

Goal 1: Get back into running again. I want to run Bloomsday in May. I haven't run seriously since Bloomsday 2009. To be realistic about my goal, I'm starting slow. I'm on week one of a "Couch to 5K" program. It's going well, but I'm bummed I'm slower and more out of shape than I had hoped. 

Goal 2: Eat better. I know, same words as the former resolution. But, I'm being realistic about this one, too. In the past, I would have made myself eat only salads. That's not realistic. A side salad every day wouldn't kill me though. And I'm not going to count every calorie, either. I love food. Eating better to me means that I eat food that is good for me, and tastes good. I want to cook more often, not just look for meals that are prepared quickly and with a minimum of dishes to wash. 

(Note about goals 1 and 2: In the past, I would have used those two goals as a means to a different goal- losing weight. I would have set an unrealistic numerical goal, and then obsessively counted every calorie consumed and burned. That would last for a few weeks, and I would see some results, but all the joy of running because I like it, or eating food that tastes good, would be gone. I'm not gonna do that this year. I haven't even set a weight goal. I would like to weigh less, and would love one of those flat stomachs. I don't remember a time in all my 28 years where I had a flat stomach. That ship may have sailed.  Realistically, I realize that to reach a magical number on the scale, or have flat abs, would take a lot of the joy out of exercise and food for me, and it's not worth the sacrifice in my mind. Healthy and happy is a realistic goal.)

Goal 3: Spend more time on creative pursuits. I started this blog as a way to hold myself accountable to use my creative talents. I have only told one person about my blog, because I'm afraid of failing, at blogging and being artistic. Am I going to create a masterpiece in 2011? Realistically, probably not. But I'm definitely never going to create anything if I'm too afraid to try. 

Goal 4: Don't set any more goals for the year. Three goals is enough. Are there other things I'd like to change about myself or my habits? Of course. Can I change that many things about me in the next 361 days? Realistically, no. So three goals is good for now. 

The past four days have been a good start. Here's to 361 more of the same!