fff july 22

Posted in five faves friday by nikkipolani on July 22, 2016

How’s July been treating you? We had about two weeks of blissful can’t-believe-it’s-only-80F and now are well into oh-yeah-this-is-July. Ready for Five Faves?

1. With the departure of a beloved colleague (off to another part of the business), the maintenance of a database had fallen to me. I worked with a developer this week who was building some scripts for something or other. I felt like I understood maybe a tenth of what he said, but am very relieved that my part has been successfully completed.

2. Those bubbles you see in the milky white represent life. They’re a sign that my neglected batch of coconut kefir survived their long hibernation (8 months!) in the back of the fridge.

3. In (anticipatory) celebration of Pi day (22 divided by 7 equals 3.14159265359), we had a pie potluck at the office, stretching the concept of “pie” every-which-way including these chipotle chicken taco salad pizza pies, quiches, mini-chicken pot pies, and a Lebanese meat pie. There were, of course, the more traditional apple, peach, cherry, lemon cheesecake pies.

4. With temperatures now settling in the mid to high 90s for probably the next several weeks, I was very happy to find some comfortable lightweight shorts. A small victory, but one I’ll take.

5. Remember those herbs I planted last week? I’m happy to report they’ve survived the first heat wave. There even some roses blooming.

Hope you can enjoy your weekend wherever you are, whatever the weather.

a/c, please

Posted in cat's meow by nikkipolani on July 17, 2016

fff july 15

Posted in companions, five faves friday by nikkipolani on July 15, 2016

There’s so much turmoil in the world today, plenty to weigh down our hearts. I’m thankful for this little corner of gratefulness to remember gifts of blessing, big and small. Here are five this week.

1. Many of you have enjoyed getting in touch with friends and family far away using FaceTime or Skype. Roomie and I talked a few times when our time zones aligned. She got to see how the cats were doing and I got to see a bit outside her Brussels hotel (she only has WiFi there).

2. It had been a long time since Mom and I indulged in an afternoon of making cards with pressed flowers. Mom shared her latest collected petals from her garden: geraniums, calendulas, lobelias, viburnum, roses, and weeds. We mostly worked in companionable quiet, making conversation now and again or pausing to admire each other’s designs. A most relaxing time.

3. I’ve been tackling one small job at a time, avoiding long depressing lists. Saturday morning while breakfast was cooking, I decided to take inventory of the boxes and tins stuffed into two partial shelves in the cupboard. What you see below left is about 75% of the teas, coffee, packets of try-this that were never tried. After some consolidation and reordering and tossing, below right is one of two areas tidied for optimum visibility.

4. July isn’t the best month for planting in SoCal, but the containers on the patio were tired: exhausted parsley, spent annuals, wilty herbs Dad had started for me that needed bigger pots. I picked a tray of Santa Barbara daisies, herbs, impatiens, little name-already-forgotten white daisies, a yellow pear tomato, and a fun fire-crackery pink gomphrena. Felt really good to have a pleasant collection of growing things again.

5. This week, I’m so thankful for the right-on-the-way-home Vietnamese restaurant that carries very reasonably priced ready-made food so that I could skip dinner prep and get to projects like #4 above.

Count your blessings, friends, and pray.

fff july 8

Posted in cat's meow, five faves friday, rosy things by nikkipolani on July 8, 2016

Monsieur Tillier (bronzy pink, Clotilde Soupert (small blooms), and Souvenir de la Malmaison (large bloom) — a little French rose bouquet to welcome you to Five Faves.

1. July 4 Independence Day celebrations were low-key until sunset when all up and down our street, families set off fireworks and enjoyed the blooms of light appearing in the sky from several displays at nearby high school stadiums and parks. Our next door neighbors gathered their family on the front lawn with about 7 kids under 8 all at peak excitement, cheering and clapping for any and all displays. Roomie and I have a tradition of bringing cookies and joining our cat-sitter neighbors to celebrate with sparklers and fizzy fireworks. A lovely summer evening.

2. Roomie got off safely and has arrived in Brussels. These days, uneventful travel is a big blessing. She’s had wonderful re-connections with her old colleagues and friends.  Bonus: summer weather is typically unpredictable, but the forecasted relentless rain has abated and there’s even some sunshiny days ahead.

3. Really helpful and useful transition conversations between me and a colleague who is joining another part of the business. I’m taking over some of her responsibilities and I felt a lot less nervous about it with the progress made.

4. I’m so thankful for the flexibility to work from home, which I did three days this week to tend to one thing and another. There are a couple of hazards, however: on a conference call, someone said, “Was that a… meow…?” And then I had to admit that, yes, it’s George circling my knees, begging to go outside despite being grounded. The other hazard is when you get up to refill your cup of tea, a chair thief is never far away.

5. My neighbor who normally watches the cats when roomie and I are both away volunteered to come and play with them at lunch time while I was at work and roomie was traveling. She brought yet more toys, of course, but this fuzzy white one’s a new favorite.

Hoping you have some favorite thing to delight you this weekend.

fff july 1

Posted in five faves friday by nikkipolani on July 1, 2016

a single clem from April

So are you ready for July? With the five faves below, I think I am.

1. The air conditioning repairman came early this week and got our indoor temperatures back to more comfortable levels (i.e., somewhere below 80F!). He fixed a part that had failed and replaced our filter (which roomie said looked like a fifth cat *blush*). I guess “never” is a bad time interval for filter replacement.

2. I had no idea my car battery was so worn down until the mechanic showed how weak it was. Thankfully, there’d been no breakdowns or early morning panics when the vehicle engine wouldn’t turn over. Just a, “hey, this doesn’t sound quite right; maybe a mechanic should take a look” moment.

3. Roomie was able to locate a helpful and available chiropractor to adjust her back after she’d wrenched it badly in a fall last weekend. Her regular excellent chiro was out of town and it was good to have a referral to a local guy as a back-up. Timing is crucial as she is traveling to Brussels next week. If you think of it, please pray for her safety. She is part of a group helping Belgium churches restore facilities and host a children’s day camp.

4. My neighbor showed up at the door bearing a large bag of canned cat food. “My cat is having trouble eating this flavor and I know your cats don’t,” she said. She knows how expensive cat food can be when there are four cat mouths to consume them.

5. I had a good mid-year review with my boss. I’ve wondered what it would be like to report to someone who’s two time zones away– my previous boss was across the hall. But with good communication and more than a few face to face meetings, my first nine months has gone well.

Hope you are having a good start to July. A very happy Independence Day to my American friends and Canada Day to my Canadian friends!

Chrysler Imperial all abloom after a hard pruning in late May

unstuffed cabbage rolls

Posted in edibles by nikkipolani on June 29, 2016

I love Trader Joe’s bags of shredded cabbage. It seems horribly lazy to not manage to wash and chop up cabbage myself, but I do love the convenience of grabbing a bag and sautéing the contents in a bit of water and onion salt for an easy and quick side dish.

The other night, however, I was looking for cabbage to be part of the main meal. I couldn’t remember which of you posted a recipe for unstuffed cabbage rolls, but a basic online search resulted in several easy no-fuss versions. Not as pretty as rolls in neat rows, but wonderfully comforting and tasty and, best of all, easy.

Here’s my adaptation given what I had on hand:

1lb ground pork or beef (I used pork)
1 small onion, sliced
1 10oz bag shredded green cabbage
1 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 8oz can tomato sauce
garlic salt

Brown ground pork or beef in a large skillet over medium high heat, seasoning with about 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt and as much ground pepper as you like. Break up the large pieces of ground meat then add onions and saute until pork is nearly done and onions are almost translucent.

Add cabbage, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce and stir to combine. Cook on medium high heat for about five more minutes until cabbage begins to wilt. Reduce heat to medium low and put a lid on the skillet. Cook another 10 minutes then stir and check that the mixture is bubbling at a low simmer. Taste and add salt as needed.

Continue cooking about another 15 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to meld and cabbage to cook through.

Serve with toasted garlic baguette slices or naan. Serves 3 amply or 4 if you have another accompanying dish.


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