Wednesday, April 14, 2010

End of the Season

Tonight I watched the Trailblazer's last regular season game from my sofa within arms reach of a large box of tissue. Turns out it was a groaner, but I was disappointed to not be there in person. My husband took me to my first professional basketball game while we were dating, and it didn't take me long to become a pretty big fan of the Portland Trailblazers, or the "Jailblazers" as they came to be known. It was easy to lose interest there for a while, when the Blazers were in the news more often for some of the dumb antics of their players than for their expertise on the court. But the last few years have been very, very different for Blazers fans--we have a superstar, and a local one, at that--we have an owner who is deeply committed to the organization--we have a fan-freaking-tastic coach, and we have a deep, a VERY deep bench. To say that this year held a lot of challenges for the team would be a gross understatement. The team has been riddled with injuries to the point of being unbelievable, and when Joel Pryzbilla suffered a season ending injury, many fans thought that the Blazer's prospects for the playoffs were over. But this amazing team stepped up and met every challenge and ended their season tonight 50-32, just four wins short of their season last year, and as sixth seed in the West.

This weekend the playoffs begin, with the Blazers set to play Phoenix in the first round. Who knows what the playoffs will bring, especially with Brandon Roy's play being questionable since he sustained an injury while playing against the Lakers. What I do know is that this team has a lot of heart and I can't wait to watch them continue their journey no matter where it ends this season.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring in the Greenhouse

I have a lot of experiments going on out in the greenhouse right now and they all seem to be going superbly! If you are on Facebook you might remember that I was searching for a waterbed heater a while back--odd...huh? I put a "wanted" ad on Craigslist and after a couple of disappointments actually managed to score 2 waterbed heaters. No, I'm not having a nostalgic moment, but I had been shopping for seed mat heaters for my greenhouse and found that they were terribly expensive. Seed mat heaters look a lot like waterbed heaters, as I recalled, and I thought that perhaps someone out there might have one for sale cheap. Not only were the heaters just half the price that ONE seed mat was, they are much bigger also! A very good score for a girl who LOVES a good bargain.

So the theory is that seedlings start much faster when bottom heat is applied to them. In the past I've used my greenhouse for many different things, but I haven't been big on starting seedlings. So I am starting quite a few seedlings right now and will likely have baby lettuce (mesclun) in just a few weeks! I typically spend quite a bit of money on plants each year, and my theory is that this will save me quite a bit. For now I'm growing lettuce, eggplant and cilantro because I have limited space for the vegetables. They have to be fairly close to the house or else the deer come up and feast upon them.

I just purchased a book that I read many years ago--Square Foot Gardening---and hope to incorporate more of the ideas from that book into my veggie crop this year. The idea is that you don't need a huge area for vegetable gardening and that a lot of space is wasted when vegetable gardens are planted in the traditional way. The methods in the book also reduce the amount of work required--that is always a bonus in my book!

I also ordered a variety of heirloom tomato plants from and just got notice that they are on their way. In MHO it is too early to set out tomato plants, so those bad boys will go into the greenhouse for awhile while we prepare a new raised bed for them. I've found a nice spot but I'm afraid it is going to require quite a bit of work to put a new bed in place there.

All the while I am also getting ready to put in a decorative flower bed out in front of the greenhouse--it's been pretty baren and weedy out there and it really needs some work. And I really need a few nice days so that I can get all my ambitious projects started!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The unemployment thing was fun for a while. I got some much needed downtime after two years of full-time work, full-time school, part-time business partner, and part-time wife, AND had some quality time to get my thesis written. Then there was the new grandbaby (last June) and the youngest daughter's wedding (September) my step-daughter's return from overseas (November), and of course, the holidays. After the holdiays, the search got serious and I have been applying for jobs for which I am over-qualified, under-qualified, and not-even-close-to-qualified. Although I recently completed my masters in Manangement, all of my experience is in non-profit, education, and workforce development. I have had a few interviews and honestly thought I had a good chance at a couple of them, and in "normal" times I probably would have, but there are tons of qualified applicants out there right now. In the meantime, since I have some expertise in the area of job search, I have been helping out friends, friends of friends and sometimes complete strangers with resumes, cover letters, job search strategy, and whatever else might come up....each and every person I talk to is unprepared for the difficulty of today's job search. YIKES, if I'm having trouble, I can't even imagine what other people are going through.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

5 Minute Sticky Buns

I got my first microwave in 1980 when my lovely eldest daughter Sara was only a few weeks old. It was a thoughtful gift from her dad, who knew that the time I had previously spent preparing food had just taken a serious hit. He got it home after purchasing it and quickly realized that it was not going to fit on the counter tops of our 1940s era kitchen, so he set about building a stand for it. Believe me, it was HUGE by today's standards and cost a whopping $600--in 1980! I wonder how much that would be in today's dollars? Anyway, no one I knew had a microwave, but it came with a fairly hefty instruction manual and cookbook, so I set about trying my hand at cooking with the "Radar Range!"

One recipe that I used over and over again when my kids were little was this one for quick sticky buns--it is easy to keep the ingredients on hand and appears that you spent a lot more time on them than you really did! I "resurrected" the recipe and made them for Dwain and I this morning along with scrambled eggs, bacon, sliced mango & strawberries, and OJ. A very nice little Easter celebration!

5 Minute Sticky Buns

In a round glass casserole or Corningware dish combine:

3T. Butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
nuts or raisins if you like

Melt in the microwave and stir together well.

Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut 1 can of refrigerated biscuits into fourths, add to the mixture and stir gently to coat evenly. Microwave 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 minutes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tamale Pie

Tamale pie is one of those foods that remind me of my childhood. Back in the 70s, I thought this was pretty exotic fare and my mom made a pretty good one. I think she got her recipe off the back of the Bisquick box or something. I saw this recipe the other day in a newsletter that I get from the Washington State Extension Agency and decided to try it. It didn't go together as fast as I might have liked--if you decide to make it on a work night, you might want to do some prep work the night before so you can just throw it together when you get home. I made some changes to the original recipe, of course, and I've noted those. Sorry I didn't think to take a picture when it came out of the oven, but I was SO hungry and it smelled so good that all I wanted to do was to dig right in! If anyone who makes this wants to send me a photo, I will be happy to post it. Enjoy!!

Tamale Pie

1 lb ground beef (I used ground turkey breast to keep it low-fat, AND that is what I had on hand!)
1 can kidney beans (the original says black or pinto would also work, but I LOVE kidney beans)
2 T. cornstarch
1- 1/2 c. chopped onion
4 t. chili powder ( I substituted in 1 of the teaspoons with chipotle chili powder, which is available at Safeway and will make it quite a bit warmer with a smoky flavor)
1 clove garlic, minced
1- 28 oz can of tomatoes, diced (I buy the already diced ones)
1- 4 oz can green chiles

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, add meat, brown and drain off fat, if any. Add beans. Put cornstarch in a small bowl and add the juice drained from the tomatoes. Whisk together. Add to onion/meat/bean mixture over heat and stir well. Stir in
tomatoes, green chiles and chili powder. Cook until mixture is thick. Shouldn't take long.
Spoon into 13 x 9 pan . Spread cornbread topping over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cornbread topping

1- 1/2 c. cornmeal
1-1/2 c. flour
1-1/2 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
5 T. sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. + 2 T. oil

Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir briskly until just mixed. Pour over meat mixture and bake as above.