Treats for Tashi

Below is a more recent video of Julianna. This was taken at my parents' house in Colorado over Christmas.

We all wondered how Julianna (then 15 months) and my parents' cat, Tashi, would get along. Tashi is my parents' only child living at home, and he is rather pampered as far as "Hersley cats" go (eats wet cat food, sits on bathroom sinks to get a drink of water and uses a litter box rather than having to go outside). In honor of all our previous cats (and we've had many), I'm honestly a bit sore regarding their blatant spoiling of this cat, especially since although he will snuggle with my mom to the point of her near suffocation, he won't as much as sit on my lap while I'm visiting. He'd prefer to wait at the bottom of the staircase and attack my feet as I descend or mercilessly hide around corners and repeatedly jump out to scare me. Believe it or not, Tashi's name is short for Tashi Delek, a Tibetan greeting meaning Blessings and Good luck. This is obviously not an indication of his nature but more an ode to the way he came into my mother's life (but that's another story). 

My mom was certain that Tashi would be gentle with Julianna while the rest of us questioned whether he would see her as just another playmate to tag with claws extended. But to our amazement, Julianna and Tashi did seem to have an understanding. Julianna typically approached Tashi with her arms resting behind her back, staying at about a foot's distance. Don't get me wrong, she was very excited about this walking, furry toy she had discovered, often exclaiming, "Kitty! Meow! Meow!" But she knew to be cautious, and the few times she lost her composure and got a little too close, Tashi would run a couple feet away and then plop down on his back as if to tease her.

I'd say their encounter over the holidays was a success. And to solidify the positive we decided to let Julianna give Tashi his treats. Soon it was a daily occurrence (although if we had let her, she would have given him treats as often as she gets snacks - that is, multiple times a day!).

(If you receive posts via email go to thegeorgesinseattle.blogspot.com to view the video.)


Family Recipe

I've never been much of a cook. So when my mother-in-law asked if I ever make Indian food, I had to honestly reply, "I'm still trying to get the hang of American food." I'm not sure if she took pity on me, or wanted her son to be able to enjoy a little of his culture, but regardless, she said she was going to teach me how to make Fish Moilee (AKA Salmon Curry).

She started out by chopping up a bunch of things and telling me to add bits of this and dashes of that. Yeah, remember how I said I'm still trying to get the hang of making food originating from my own country? Well I needed measurements, and I needed the recipe to be written down. And when she started to just throw things in, I handed her teaspoons and measuring cups and said use these so I can make notes. I don't think she has ever measured out anything in her life. She just knows how to cook, and she does it naturally.

Come to find out, this recipe really is easy. And it's tasty too. I like getting salmon in our diet, and I love that I can make something my husband grew up eating. To top it off, Julianna has been enjoying a few bites of it as well, spices and all. Gotta love that.

So here it is for you to try. An authentic Indian dish from a very genuine, warm hearted woman. All the way from India... straight to you.

(So glad that I have it in her handwriting. But for your convenience, I've typed it below.)

FISH MOILEE from the kitchen of Anna George
Serves: 4

1 1/2 lbs. salmon - skin removed, cubed
1 white onion - chopped
2 medium tomatoes - sliced in wedges
1 inch piece fresh ginger - peeled, minced
3 green jalapeno peppers - cut in half length-wise
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 cup soy milk or coconut milk
1/2 cup water

Chop onion (large chunks) and ginger. Slice jalapeno peppers in half length-wise. Depending on your preference either leave seeds in place (hot) or discard all seeds (mild). I usually remove seeds from one (medium). Saute onion, ginger and jalapeno peppers in large skillet until onions are translucent. Add sliced tomato wedges. Saute a few more minutes.
Add turmeric, salt, water and cubed salmon (we buy in packets from Costco with skin and bones already removed). Stir occasionally until Salmon is cooked through. Add soy milk (or coconut milk for a rich gravy). When it begins to boil, turn burner to low heat. For maximum flavor, let sit for 30 minutes on low heat or remove from heat, add lid and let stand.
Pair with Naan Indian bread for dipping (found at Trader Joe's or in any Indian food section) and a side salad or green vegetable. If you try it, please let us know how you like it. My mother-in-law would get a kick out of knowing it wasn't only her daughter-in-law whom she inspired to make an Indian meal!

PS: Now I understand why there are food stylists and photographers. You'll just have to imagine the steam rising.

PPS: Did you know the anna in Julianna came from my mother-in-law's name? Now you do.
(Taken August 2010, India)


White Running Shoes

I seriously can't believe I am about to do this, but I'm posting it on my blog, so I must be planning to follow through. I'm joining a running club with the goal of running either a 5 or 10K. I have never participated in any kind of running program in my life. In fact, I've never run over two miles. Yes, there was that one summer - I was 14, and I decided to think about joining track. I got up each morning and worked my way up to jogging the mile and a half distance that was my neighborhood. I thought I was doing good, until I talked to the track coach who said I needed to be able to run 5 miles (or some equally insurmountable distance) by the beginning of the school year. And that was as far as the dream went. Now I'm 18 years older. Wait, what?

Everyone I talk to blows this off as simple. "Stephanie, you can run three and a half miles easily!" Huh? I run two blocks at Stroller Strides, and I'm out of breath (we'll blame it on the stroller). Well the truth is, my cohorts at Stroller Strides are heroically signing up for a half marathon. So now my original goal of a 5K doesn't seem quite as far reaching as I thought. I guess I'll aim for the 10K (6.2 miles). 

The club starts Monday (Presidents' Day), and I seriously have cold feet.

These, however, are the assets in my court: 
1. Hilary. She is my Stroller Strides instructor and will also be the running club trainer. She has a great attitude and a contagious smile. She's encouraging and makes you feel like you can reach any goal you put your mind to. Now I can put her words to the test - it's nice to have someone else to hold accountable! ;)

2. A new pair of running shoes. I have never before been fitted for running shoes. And I'm now realizing it makes all the difference. As the first step towards convincing myself that I was joining this running club, I went to a shoe clinic at Super Jock 'N Jill in Seattle. This place is fantastic. There is no talk about price and no thought given to the appearance of the shoes. From the minute you walk in, they evaluate the way you walk, how your foot touches the ground, and what specific foot support you may need. They have you try on fifteen or so shoes, each time telling you to run up and down the hill outside their store to compare the fit. In the end, you truly feel like you have a running shoe that was meant for you. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

3. A support group. This one pretty much speaks for itself. It offers encouragement and accountability. Two things I must have if I ever want to reach my goal. I've already seen this work to my advantage during Stroller Strides. Rather than thinking about the effort I'm going to exert, I think about the friends who I am going to see. We challenge one another; this is evidenced by the fact that I am signing up for running club in the first place. Sometimes all you need is a nice, firm push! ;)

In the end, I've come to the conclusion that:
• I've never done this before. It's about time.
• It's going to be hard to fail when I have so much support. I really think I'll follow through.
• It'll be an accomplishment I'll always be proud of, whether running becomes a favorite pastime or not.

So there it is. I'm doing it. I'll check in and let you know how it's going in a couple of weeks. Have you ever participated in a race before? If so, give me some words of inspiration. I'll need to read through them forty or fifty times before each running club meeting.


That Place With All The Books

So I have to admit, I haven't had a library card since I was in college, and even then, I was an art major, so much more of my time was spent in the studio than with my nose in a book. I do remember going to the library as a kid, but I dreaded the card catalog, and was quite relieved when they finally became tech savvy enough to install computers.  I liked reading mystery novels, murder mystery novels actually. The danger, the suspense, the search, the twists and turns of the plot; I think reading these books made me feel a little mysterious myself, and that was a nice relief for a straight-laced kid like me.

My dad has always emphasized the importance of reading. He used to point out that the few "really smart kids" in my high school classes were the ones who maintained a large reading list. Whether there was a direct correlation or not, there isn't much doubt in my mind that reading provides a variety of discussion topics and broadens the vocabulary. If you want your kids to read, they need to see you devour a good book once in a while. I, for one, definitely have room for improvement. These days, I don't find much time for myself, and the few minutes a day when Julianna is preoccupied only last long enough for me to fold a half a load of laundry. I have, however, finally gotten a library card. I'm happy to say that Julianna actually knows what the library is, and today when I asked her if she wanted to go to the library and read books, she exclaimed, "YES!"

Maybe I should call her Papa and let him know that I've started her off right.

There is a great children's section in the Kirkland library with several large baskets full of board books. Julianna saunters over to them and plops herself down to peruse the selection. Often I try to read aloud to her to decide which books we should check out, and JA's not afraid to offer her opinion by the third page. If the book is of no interest, she'll quickly close it in my hands and pronounce, "The End!" But if the story is one of which she approves (has colorful pictures she can identify and a few words she understands), she'll quickly grab the book to look through it herself or take a seat in my lap to help me turn the pages.
(Taken in November 2010)

In the age of computers, the internet, and Kindles, I'm actually quite impressed with the King County Library system. And what recently inspired me was a suggestion I got from one of the librarians to check out their Books To Grow On kits. I didn't understand what they were at first, but ok'd having the Books To Grow On - Potty Girl's Kit put on hold for me the next time it became available. When I went to pick it up at the library, I was quite surprised to be given a large, orange "tool box".

Inside, Julianna and I discovered 8 books (mostly children's but a couple adult guide books), 2 children's DVDs, a music CD, a curriculum guide and a doll complete with her own cloth diaper and potty chair! The best part, we were allowed a month to absorb all this material.

I'm just beginning to educate Julianna (17 months old) on this topic. She seems excited to learn, and I want to keep it that way. She loved holding the doll and taking its diaper off (then handing it back to me to put it back on - that's what moms are good for). Only half of the books and one of the two DVDs actually held her interest, but it was a great place to start, and will be a nice refresher course in a month or two when we check it out again.

Meanwhile Julianna continues to love the books we have at home. She often attempts to name the title when she picks one up and then pretends to read a few memorized phrases. (Boo Bird, Boo Bird... See! AKA, Blue Bird, Blue Bird, What do you see?)
This is one of my favorite sights... it's so "Julianna" with her ankles crossed. 
(Don't worry, Mom, the car was parked when I took this pic with my cell phone! ;)

Have you visited the library lately? The last book I enjoyed was Committed written by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was fascinating - even better (in my opinion) than the acclaimed Eat, Pray, Love. Any recommendations for my next read?


Oh Lovely Day!

Valentine's Day is as good a day as any to resume blogging, right? Matt and I usually celebrate fairly low-key. The past couple of years we have decided to treat each other with a bottle of cologne/perfume. We headed to the mall together and took turns smelling a mix of perfumes and coffee beans to select just the right scent for one another. But this year, neither of us really needed perfume (maybe I need to wear mine more, even if I am just at home! ;). So we went out to dinner on Friday night as an early celebration to avoid the crowds, and then last night we exchanged small gifts. Earlier in the month, I came across a cute letterpress card (I can never turn down the beauty of letterpress), and the cute design prompted me with a gift idea - yay for no-brainers!

Matt pulled through with a dozen red roses and not one, but two boxes of chocolates. It's been a joke between the two of us that the hubby always tries to buy pricier boxes of chocolate (the truffle type), but, honestly, what I really want is the inexpensive chocolates from Walgreens (the ones usually found only during February). I love opening a box full of variety... cream, caramel, coconut and yes, the occasional truffle filling. Hey, Forrest Gump's saying didn't resonate with so many for no reason. Needless to say, we won't be losing any weight in February, but each night when we sit down on the couch to relax after JA goes to bed, we'll at least have all the mystery that a box of chocolates can offer!

And the cheeriest little Valentine of all received this adorable Fisher Price record player. I've had my eye on these for a while now, love the old-school look and the brightly colored records. After opening it for JA I realized some of the components are a little over her head (having to move the "needle" on top of the record, turn a dial to wind it up, and slide a button side to side to stop and start the record- phew! that's a lot of steps for a 17 month old), but she loves the simple tunes and the record-style notes that come chiming out. She also likes that she can carry it from room to room by its handle and put all the unused records in a bottom storage compartment. There's nothing better than watching this girl pump her fists and shake her booty to The Farmer In The Dell and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

The pictures from this post were taken with an Android phone app called Retro Camera. I'm loving the style of the Little Orange Box which mimics a cheap 1976 camera from the USSR with "aggressive cross processing" and vignetting on the corners of the images. Funny how I can take an online photography class and learn so much about using my DSLR camera in manual mode and then later enjoy using an instant camera on my cell phone. The beauty of technology!