Sunday, October 30, 2016

Seven Magic Mountains








Twenty miles outside of Las Vegas lives an art project called Seven Magic Mountains. It's beautiful. This video gives a great behind-the-scenes look at how it was built. 

Many question the purpose of art, especially large-scale modern art installations, like Seven Magic Mountains. In response to that question, the following quote resonates with me: 

"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit." -John Updike

Art allows people the confidence to dream that things are possible. Someone may wonder, "If this artist can put these brightly colored boulders in the middle of the desert, than why can't I fulfill my dream of going to college, starting my business idea, or building my invention?" The great thing about this world and this life is: you can. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Swedish Meatballs



I love taking from other cultures to inspire my food palate and Swedish meatballs are the perfect addition to a well-rounded family dinner plan. It's comfort food, for sure and one of those meals, that makes you really grateful for home. 

Swedish Meatballs
Yield: about 24 meatballs
Total Time: 

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste

{for the gravy}

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth
3/4 cup sour cream
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent about 2-3 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, Panko bread crumbs, egg yolks, allspice, nutmeg, and cooked onion. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using clean hands, mix together until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/12-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.

Add remaining one tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm with tented foil. Use more olive oil as necessary to avoid burning. 

To make the gravy, melt butter in the skillet. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about one minute. Gradually whisk in beef broth and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in sour cream. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in meatballs and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and thickened, about 8-10 minutes. 

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and mashed red potatoes on the side, if desired.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic and Parmesan



I've been making these mashed potatoes for years and years now. It is my go-to recipe and a staple in our home. 

Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic and Parmesan
Yield: about 6 servings
Total Time: about 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2.5 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled & quartered
2-3 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Put potatoes and garlic in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil Reduce heat and let simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Return potatoes to the pan and mash with butter, milk and salt. Stir in the parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Seattle, Seattle!


As I walked off the plane, I was greeted by a crisp, cool hug from the air around me. After a storybook descent into a land of green isles and peninsulas enveloped by deep blue seas, I kept thinking, "Life! This place breeds life!" 

In summary, Seattle knows how to grow stuff. Grapes fall from shaded awnings, full pumpkins pop up unexpectedly in backyards, $5 flower bouquets are so bright and full, they put most $40 bouquets to shame. And the green. Oh, the green. So much green, everywhere. So much bounty. 


{Skyline view from the ferry to Bainbridge Island}

{Gawking at referenced $5 bouquets}  

 {Happily accepting kisses I usually have to steal}


{Curing toddler wiggles at Pike Place Market}


{Bainbridge Island giggle fits} 



{#bringthekids}

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wholeness

I've had this tab open for several days because I don't want to forget this quote. If I had found it in a magazine, I would have cut it out and pasted it on my refrigerator. But since webpages are the new magazines, I suppose blogs are the new refrigerators? 
I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don't mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It's a really odd thing that we're seeing people saying "write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep" and "cheer up" and "happiness is our birthright" and so on. We're kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It's rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don't teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, "Quick! Move on! Cheer up!" I'd like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word "happiness" and to replace it with the word "wholeness." Ask yourself, "Is this contributing to my wholeness?" and if you're having a bad day, it is.     
- Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Moab, Utah & Arches National Park


Petra and I have been doing a lot of traveling this summer, with even more to come. Last week, we met up with the Fishback clan in Moab for some summer fun and hiking beauty. Southern Utah always blows me away with its impressive, majestic red rock. Arches helped me tick off #4 for me of Utah's "Big 5" National Parks. We spent two days doing short hikes with the kids, then on the third day, Nana watched all the kids while the rest of the adults did the "Delicate Arch" hike. Delicate Arch is the arch you see on many Utah license plates. Unlike many of the other arches in the park, it stands alone without much else around it, making it look very impressive and a bit mind-boggling. 

When I first became a Fishback, I was not a hiker, but I quickly learned that if I wanted to remain a Fishback, I needed to become one. It took a few years, but I can honestly say that I love hiking now. It's such a pure and rewarding way to appreciate nature and give thanks to the gorgeous world we live on.

Aside from hiking, we also had lots of good ole summer fun in the yard of the house we were staying in with a slip n' slide, snow cones, and a lake not too far away.  

{The cutest hiking buddy!} 

{Double Arch}


{The Fishbacks + a few random kids in the back - Bradford}


 {I love how Bennett is going at his older cousins with the hose. No mercy!}

{Wet kids in swimsuits!}


{Hiking up to Delicate Arch} 



{First sight of Delicate Arch after rounding the corner}


{The gang at the top!} 



Monday, June 27, 2016

Chidambaram & Thanjavur, India

I miss India. I think I will always miss it and long for it's intensity, humility, and brilliance. India (and Nepal) really brought home how lucky I am to have been born into the circumstances I was. Each day is a gift in my life because I have drinking water, a toilet to sit on, and a bed to sleep on.

We visited a lot of temples in India, and each one showed a different perspective, beauty, or intrigue. In Thanjavur, we visited the Brahadeeswara Temple, established in 1011 AD. I wish I could let you experience the feeling of walking into the inner sanctums of these temples and receiving pooja (a blessing) from the priest...the dirt floors, the bare feet, the acceptance, the humility, the belief.

{Chidambaram}

At Chidambaram, I witnessed a scene that really helped illustrate India's caste system and culture that still pervades today despite the technically illegal nature of discriminating people by castes. The man you see below was so frail, old, and weak. He dutifully transferred this pile of wood to the inside of the temple, using nothing but a short cloth to wrap them. All the while, a group of stout, young, able-bodied priests sat inside collecting donations and eating sweets. I blame the wood gatherer as much as the priests for this imbalance. He has accepted his life's fate and done nothing to try to change his lot in life, rather waiting till reincarnation for his situation to change. 

{man gathering sticks for fire at Chidambaram}

{Brahadeeswara Temple}


Whenever I feel discomfort in America, I think of an Indian bus station, and then I feel better again.