Friday, August 31, 2012

Zucchini, Zucchini, Zucchini!

One of my friends from work was brought a million giant zucchinis. And when I say giant, I mean giant. They're literally half the size of my toddler.


So she brought them to me, and I was left to find a million things to do with them. The obvious choice was spiced zucchini bread, which tastes amazingly like pumpkin bread to me. I had never made it before but it has now become something I'll be adding to my favorite fall recipes.


It went over so well at our house, I shredded 10 cups of the zucchini (it takes about 2 cups per recipe) and stored it in our freezer so we're stoked for the winter!


We made olive oil, zucchini, tomato, basil, and jack cheese rounds:

We made tomato sauce, turkey pepperoni and mozzarella mini-pizzas:

We deep fried zucchini chips:

We breaded and baked some Parmesan zucchini:

And lastly, we made some tomato, cream cheese, zucchini roll ups!:

And there are still left overs!


So if anyone has any more suggestions, I'm all ears!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trying New Things

I've been busy lately.
Clearly.

I haven't been blogging as much as I used to simply because I just don't seem to have the energy. Going back to work is pulling more out of me than I thought it would. Not that it's particularly physically hard work, but 9 hours of constant movement on my feet is wearing after a few days, especially fresh off taking a 3 year break from doing it.

But bartending!

It's such a strange and awesome job with so many different roles. I play the part of a therapist, a babysitter, a comedian, an actor, an enabler. Everyone is looking for something different from their experience at a bar. I have a handful of customers who want companionship and someone to listen to them. Some just want an escape and to be left alone. Some want someone to vent to or cry on. Some just want a beer and a smile.

It's a tricky thing to work with people instead of products. When I see the same people, day in and day out, we all become like family after a while (complete with the perverted uncle, the wild cousin, the smelly grandpa, the annoying little sister, the overly dramatic aunt, the mothering helper, the Bitter Betty, the thoughtful dad and the over protective brother). Everyone is so different and require so many different ways of service. Every day you learn a little more about them and see another glimpse into their particular puzzle. You learn what to say and what not to say. You learn to resolve conflict from the assholes. You learn that, in the end, your regulars have unknowingly become the bread and butter of your life, and you love them for it.

I've been bartending now for about 10 years. I was pulled into it, having zero experience, by a coworker to a bar down the street from where I was waiting tables. I was taught how to master pour counts, how to memorize recipes, how to hold bottles. Eventually the rest of the stuff sort of filled itself in throughout the years. You learn to see the bar as a stage of sorts. Dozens of bar stools all facing you, filled with people watching, and you turn your switch on and entertain them for a while. You put up with a lot, and you give anyway with a smile.

I wholeheartedly believe it's the best job in the world. To meet new people everyday so the routine never becomes monotonous, yet still see your friends and have a good time? It's pretty unbeatable. Plus, you get to get people drunk, which is always personally entertaining for me.

(Ok, this post is getting way off track here...)

MY POINT WAS,
I learned a new drink this past weekend at work!

The Flaming Spanish Coffee! (as taught to me by the kitchen manager, Jeff, who picked it up from a bar in Seattle many years ago)

video



Monday, August 13, 2012

The Perfect Picnic

So lately I've had this obsession with planning the perfect picnic. I'm not quite sure why I obsess about the things I do, but generally speaking, once I get an idea, I have to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Remember the Alice in Wonderland photo shoot I did with Kalynn? That is the biggest obsessed drive that I can recall in recent history. I was a freak about getting that shoot done! I spent days painting her "tiny room" and getting the tea set scene together. This project is nowhere close to being on that kind of a giant scale, but the determination to make it perfect was pretty much the same.

Anyway,


After coming home early from our camping fiasco, both Jason and I still had an entire day off together which never happens, so I decided to jump on my picnic idea and round up our necessities! (I picked some flowers from the neighbor's yard and made a couple of sandwiches)







Kalynn has her own little picnic set, a gift from her DiNana.



 I also brought along some water paints (find them cheap almost everywhere right now, along with tons of other great craft stuff, because of Back To School sales!) so while I was setting up our lunch, she was having fun decorating the creek rocks.


With Summer in full swing, and having no idea what to expect this winter when it's snowing and freezing outside, I'm trying to plan as many outside activities while I can for our family. Baskets are cheap, and sandwiches are even cheaper! We had such a relaxing afternoon lounging in the shade listening to the babbling creek, it's something we'll be doing again soon for sure.

I hope everyone is having a great Summer so far!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mountain Park, CO: Part 2

Pictures are deceiving. Like this, for example: 


Doesn't she look like a camping angel on Earth fresh up from a great night sleep and ready to tackle the day?

False. Lets try again.

Really, she was fresh off a giant temper tantrum, waking up everyone at the campground, and I bribed her with a cookie to pose for a second (because sugar is always the answer, right?) before I changed her from diaper to big girl undies so I could have a pic in her PJ's. This little girl acted like a total nightmare on our second day. So much so, that Jason and I have agreed it was the worst behavior she's ever displayed in all her 2.5 years.

I may have been a tiny bit hung over (tiny, tiny bit) but I would have gotten a headache regardless. Of course she had her temporary lapses of badness, and in those few and far between glimpses of heavenly light, I made Jason grab the camera. Doesn't it look like we're having a grand ol' snuggly time?
Here she is helping Daddy hang up a towel on the clothes line (awwww, right?) but only because when Jason tried to do it himself Kalynn freaked out and threw herself on the ground.


On the other side of our camp site was the playground and the trail leading down to the Poudre River.We decided that maybe a change in scenery would do everyone good so we took a small hike down to check it out.
Mountain Park Campground off the Cache La Poudre River on Highway 14 in Roosevelt National Forest #ColorfulColorado #Colorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com





Here I am contemplating life, liberty and the pursuit of never drinking again!
Cache La Poudre River in Mountain Park Campground off Highway 14 in Roosevelt National Forest #Colorado #ColorfulColorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

Our pup had been limping since we left the house on Wednesday, our little river trip made it worse. As much fun as she had in the water for a few short lived moments, her back leg was done playing. Jason had to carry her back to camp after this.

Mountain Park Campground Ampitheater off the Cache La Poudre River on Highway 14 #Colorado #ColorfulColorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

Mountain Park Campground Ampitheater off the Cache La Poudre River on Highway 14 in Roosevelt National Forest #Colorado #ColorfulColorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

Between Kalynn continuing to throw handfuls of sand inside our tent regardless of consequences, Guacamole's bummed back left foot, temper tantrums, melt downs, defiance, and overall turd-ish behavior, we decided to cook our kabobs, pack up and go home. The toddler had defeated us this time.

We'll try again next summer when Kalynn is a bit older and when Moles is feeling better. As much fun as we had the first day, I feel that a successful camping trip is totally do-able,
but the Terrible Two's are a force to be reckoned with.
And we lost.
At least for this time...


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mountain Park, CO: Part 1

So I woke up on Wednesday around 5:30AM , bright and early, so excited I could have peed my pajamas. It was my 32nd birthday, we were going to the Rockies, and I finally got to bust out all the new gear we had bought to make it the best camping trip ever.

Me to Jason in a tiny little whisper in his ear: "Psssst. Baby? Are you awake?... Pssst. It's my birthday!"

Jason to Me in a tiny little whisper back: "Yes Baby, and it's going to be your last if you don't shut the hell up..."

Before I even got out of bed I was showered with homemade gifts, a new book from my favorite author Tom Robbins, Star Wars paraphernalia, and a giant breakfast burrito complete with 2-year-old "Happy Birthday to youuuuuuu" singing. What a perfect morning it had been. I was beaming from ear to ear. I absolutely love birthdays.

After Kalynn woke up from her nap, it was time to pack up the car and get the hell out of Dodge (Fort Collins).

We had driven up Highway 14 a few weeks prior and made note of all the stops we wanted to make on the way back up. One of them was this insanely gorgeous bridge that I am positively crazy about:

Bridge over Cache La Poudre River, Highway 14. Roosevelt National Forest. #ColorfulColorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

And tunnels, I mean, they're just cool in general.
Poudre Canyon Tunnel, Highway 14 riding next to the Cache La Poudre River in Roosevelt National Forest #ColorfulColorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

We made it!
Mountain Park Recreation Area, Roosevelt National Forest on Highway 14. #ColorfulColorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com



First thing's first: set up camp! My dad and Step Mom gave us this monstrosity of a two roomed palace. Easy to assemble, easy to be comfortable in!




This is my "don't even think about eating more sugar" look. This is Kalynn's "as soon as you turn your head I'm going to do it anyway" look. The marshmallows were just the beginning of her difiant attitude throughout the trip (as we were soon to find out).

Birthday beer in my favorite Clash t-shirt. I'm a happy camper! Literally


Next stop: setting up the fire pit!

From my months of camping in California, I've learned how to build and keep a fire going pretty well. My personal technique is twisting up pine cones inside of newspaper. (Adding a few sprigs of sage keeps mosquitoes stay away as well!)
 I also filled up an egg carton with dryer lint, covered the lint with wax, and made these little individual fire starters. The lint keeps the wax going sort of like a wick in a candle and they burn for quite a while. They're perfect for putting at the bottom of your kindling.
Camping Firestarters with egg carton, dryer lint and wax www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com
Kalynn finally learned all the joys of roasted marshmallows. She's now a devoted fan. Despite the sugar high, she was really excited to go to sleep in the tent and actually asked to go in early. We stuck to our routine of reading three books and made sure her sleeping quarters resembled her normal bed with the same blanket and pillow cases, and she made herself right at home!

Meanwhile, Mommy and Daddy sat around the fire drinking celebratory birthday cake shots, and made scary faces with the new lantern.



All in all, day one was pretty fantastic. There were no melt downs from Jason trying to put up the tent, there were no melt downs from Kalynn about sleeping in it. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour drive up the mountains, Guacamole enjoyed getting out of the house and being with her family.

All seemed peaceful.

But then day two rolled around...

stay tuned.