Saturday, July 26, 2014

Finally: Midwestern Mexican restaurant queso blanco.

Have you ever had a seemingly simple recipe that you just couldn't quite recreate? For me, this has been the thin, rich, buttery and creamy cheese sauce known as queso blanco at restaurants in some areas -- not so much out in the PNW, but frequently in the Midwest. 

Many attempts came close. But not quite. I'd all but given up. While back in Indiana last weekend, my dear friends Pat and Jon gifted me with a fantastic Mexican feast, including a yummy cheese dip. Inspired, it set me back on the path. 

I threw everything I had at it. And... success. Seriously, this is a dead ringer for the dip we enjoyed at Nuestro Mexico in Elletesville again and again and again. Meaurements are approximations. 

Creamy Queso Blanco - Midwestern style

Half pound white American cheese (I used Boars' Head)
1/4 cup milk 
1/3 cup Philly jalapeno cream cheese
1/4 cup Diarygold Mexican style sour cream
1/3 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt, pepper

It's thin but rich, doesn't set up too quickly, and tastes fantastic with freshly cooked tortillas from Tortilla Land. My God, I'm addicted to those things. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bring on the Corgi!

Welcome to "Operation Corgi." Scot and I decided it is a good time to seek The Third Dog. Greta is getting up in years, but happy and healthy so as to enjoy a new companion. Jackson is, of course, always up for a play pal.
For years we have wanted a Corgi. We hope this initiative will result in one. We could just go to a breeder and slap down (a lot) of cash, but we know this world is full of dogs that need a wonderful home.
Yes, in my dream, a little red or tricolor fluffy Pembroke puppy would appear on my doorstep. And maybe s/he will.
But an older regular coat Cardigan in need of a home would fit the bill.
And you know, we love the unique Corgi mix, too.
In the end it's all about the personality. We are a family with over 20 years’ experience in providing a good home for canine companions. We value each dog for their individual personality, moreso than breed or pedigree.
So, I'm putting this out in the universe, AND asking for your help. If you know of a Corgi who needs a home, please let us know! We are located in Salem, OR, but willing to travel and network as necessary.
Keep calm and Corgi on!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Where has reason gone?

Ars Technica points out why one little diddle in a 38 million gallon reservoir doesn't mean, uh, shit. Upon first hearing of the plan to drain the reservoir, my first thought was, "Wait... isn't that an open reservoir?"

And yes, it is.

This means the large pool that holds 38 million gallons of water is open wide to the sky 365 days a year. It receives all one might imagine could fall on any random patch of earth including (but likely not limited to) bugs, worms, bird droppings, dead decomposing animals, dirt, leaves, God only knows what else. (Please note, staff of the facility confirm that yes, dead animals and other things which blow into the reservoir are fished out all the time.) Those are all much more concerning to me based on both content and amount. But our system (which includes filtration, chlorination, etc.) handles all that and more by the time it's delivered to your home.

Without closures, or drainages.

Which cost a hell of a lot of money.

Let's be reasonable, and make decisions based upon logical information, and not knee jerk reactions. Yes, people are going to have emotional reactions. Ewww, pee! Which makes this a great teachable moment. Launch an educational initiative about the water system, how it works... perhaps they might come to appreciate it more.

People's ignorance and emotional hysteria do not warrant the waste of public funds.

* blink blink*

Oh, wait, where am I?


Wednesday, March 19, 2014


"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. When you were younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tired...You've always got to make the mind take over and keep going."
George S. Patton, U.S. Army General and 1912 Olympian

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring must be coming.

The energy's in the air, for I'm moved to create.

Made some bracelets for Mom with items we picked up while she was here.

Found an faux empty watch case thanks to Tim Holtz. I tossed inside a tiny box of random watch parts I'd picked up a few years ago and... voila... an interesting necklace. It's very long, hands below the sternum. I wore it out on a lunch run and got two compliments on it... bizarre how sometimes the simplest things really work.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Salem, Oregon was the recipient of a generous amount of snow. Real snow. Completely satisfying to this midwestern girl's desire for some "real snow." And... it has totally shut the area down.

The weekend, made all the longer as we had an adult snow day Friday as work was closed, has been laid back and easy. In part because you can't go anywhere.

Had a strong desire to bake. In order to avoid creating thousands of calories that would go into the resident humans, the oven yielded some crunchy peanut butter dog biscuits.

Crunchy Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits


  • 1 cup dry oats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, peanut butters, water, canola oil and egg.
  3. Lightly flour a flat, clean surface and roll the mixture out to about ¾ inch thickness. Cut mixture using a canine-themed cookie cutter and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes on one side and then flip the treats over and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and let cool thoroughly, about 2 hours. They will harden as they cool.
Source: found on Sweet Pea's Kitchen, which was adapted from Dog Paw Print.

Initial reactions are positive. Very positive. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

I could get used to this siesta concept.

A very laid back week in Cozumel, Mexico was a wonderful salve for Oregon's wounds of winter. (To be fair, our winter hasn't even been that bad.)

This was our fifth stay at Blue Angel Resort, a small hotel, dive shop and restaurant perched right on the ocean. They have some great shore diving right there (day or night). We really enjoy the small-family feel, and the opportunity to return year after year to staff that have over time become friends.

There have been some staff changes there as of late (including the departure of our beloved divemaster Jorge after being there 16 years). We experienced the same level of lodgings and service as we expected with our room. The owners continue to make small improvements (pool maintenance, upgrading tvs in some rooms, etc.)

The restaurant is still good, but we just felt there were some corners cut, and the staff has changed a bit. There's a different vibe there; something just doesn't feel right but I can't really explain it.

Dive shop management has changed. (Not ownership, just who is behind the counter organizing things.) The diving was a bit different. Instead of diving with one DM the whole week, it was someone different each day. Boats were a mix of levels/abilities. While none of the DMs were bad, if we dive with them again, it'll be with Tony -- he's fun, talkative, helps us find good stuff, and got us a little more bottom time than the others. We also enjoyed diving with Mateo.

As always, Alberto, captain of the Chiquimax, is big, gruff and pretty much never talks to you, but if you need something, he's there! And you might get a smile now and then. Maybe. I wonder if he's really a big bad ass, or if he's just a teddy bear under there. Regardless, he's my man -- I don't need a lot of pampering to get into the water, but he hauls my weights and BC out of the water for me before I climb on the boat, and he's always there to help me not injure myself in my antics to get on/off the boat.
We made some great new friends from Chicago, and they were renting equipment. The regs were not in good working order, which is a concern. The rental gear from the shop seems to be slipping. We don't rent, as we bring all of our own gear.

We did run into Jorge during a surface interval, and got a good chat in. He's happy, he's diving with Tres Pelicanos, and we were very happy to run into him, have a good chat, and press palms with promises to see each other soon.

We dove all our favorite sites. But there are really no bad sites. We like almost all of them, for different reasons. We saw many eagle rays, southern sting rays and turtles; nurse sharks and fish galore. So easy.

All things change. I'd still strongly recommend Blue Angel to friends.

This trip we spent more time relaxing. Our schedule was up at 6:30, breakfast at 7:00, on the dive boat at 8:00, back from diving around noon, shower and then lunch. By 2pm you're back at the room for siesta, which for us meant about 4 hours oscillating between napping and reading. And napping again. It was glorious.

When we ventured out for dinner we got more off the beaten path. We spent hours walking back through neighborhoods, looking for the more "typical" Cozumeleno reality. We smiled, chatted with locals and ex pats alike, ate in a few restaurants where they couldn't understand our limited Spanish and they had no English. A few awesome cabbies gave us more and more recommendations.

We enjoyed dishes that were total surprises -- Scot ordered SOMETHING as El Moro only to find it was basically shrimp fritters covered in MORE shrimp (YUM!), dishes that were awesome and made all the more by the warmth of the people serving them (Pescaderia San Carlos), and a unique twist on pizza at Pizzarocha, owned by some guys from Vera Cruz.

There is a FANTASTIC Chicago style deep dish pizza on the island at O'Hana's. No joke! Seriously! And there's also a dinky little shack pumping out some FANTASTIC hamburgers -- Hamburger House next to Hotel Villa Las Anclas. We stood and waited for 20 minutes, watching this big guy pump out deliveries to keep three guys busy on scooters, and the groups milling around.

And lots and lots of jamaica (hibiscus tea). YUM! Scot always surprises the locals by asking for it.

Aside from tipping waiters and cabbies, we bought nothing but some t-shirts and a little mobile to hang out by hot tub.

We were excited to go, reveled in every minute, but by Saturday evening were ready to head home on Sunday (a  little home and dog-sick, to be honest).

Friday, December 27, 2013

Here's an idea... if you aren't trained and certified, stay the hell out of caves while diving!

How many have read about the Christmas Day death of a father and his teenaged son at a sink/cave location in Florida? From the facts released in the news, this was a completely avoidable tragedy. (I have trouble calling it a tragedy when an adult seemed to act so wrecklessly of their own will; his actions, however, don't just affect him, but in this case the mortality of his own son, and the life-long futures of his remaining friends and family and those who had to leave their families on Christmas to recover their bodies. Ooooh this kind of stuff makes me so angry.)

If you haven't found this little corner of the web already, check out the Accidents and Incidents forum over on ScubaBoard. It gets long and deep pretty fast as there are so many people, opinions and some are quick to keyboard bang. But it's often very informative.

So quiz time: what should an Open Water Certified adult (without any cave training) and his completely uncertified, self taught teenage son do when they are headed toward a dive site and see this sign: "Cave diving in this area is extremely dangerous - even life threatening. Do not dive unless you are a certified cave diver."

There's only one answer, in my opinion: turn around, go home, and look up your favorite local cave instructor. Get Dad signed up with him/her, and get junior into an open water class. (Which, if Dad's taught him how to dive well, should be a snap, right?) Then, he can follow Dad into cave training.  And once both are certified, they can dive within their training and abilities, and progress along a path of training and experience, with the support of one of the most amazing diving communities around (assuming they don't act like total douchebags).

This makes me so sad, and angry, and sad, and angry and...

I can imagine and understand the siren-song draw of an open sink with cave leading off of it, I really can. "I'll just poke in a few feet, that's all..." And that's bullshit. You just don't even start. Don't even OPEN that door. Just DON'T.

This wasn't an "accident." This was the incredibly negligent and reckless actions of an adult that resulted in his own death, and IMO the murder of a teen aged boy.

I could write many more words of anger, judgement and emotion, but they would be for naught. If others who might be sitting on the cusp of not giving proper respect to the unforgiving power of the water and the underwater caves could learn from this, at least that would be something, no?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Connections bring things home.

A few days after the Clackamas Town Center mall shooting last year, I experienced in a very tiny way how far and wide such an event can affect people. As an Oregonian, of course I was affected, horrified. But honestly; it was something I watched on TV. It wasn't... real.

At work as an adjuster with a worker's compensation insurer, I was on call for the "supervisor line," which is where experienced staff handle general calls from policyholders go when a supervisor isn't available.

An owner of a store in that mall called on behalf of their manager; she was unsure and not quite sure how to talk about what she was asking. Together we worked it out. Essentially, she was asking if she could get coverage for short term mental health needs; could employees who were on shift when the situation occurred and as a result were having stress and anxiety issues file a claim? She was very concerned about her employees, and explained some of the things that had happened. I remember the odd feeling of "zooming in" as the unthinkable situation became just a little more real as we discussed.

(And the answer was that, yes, an employee could file a claim.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A papercrafter's DUH moment.

You know that beautiful batik dyed paper you bought thinking it would make a bea-youuuuu-tiful gift wrap? Well, think about that for a moment. Batik. A dye design made using a wax resist.

And what sticks to wax? Well I can tell you that tape DOES NOT.

Every type of tape and adhesive runner I had was tried, and failed. Eventually I ended up GLUING the wrap. haha! And if nothing else, the raffia ribbon will help hold it all together.

It's a gift. The pretty wrapping is made to come apart, right?