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Monthly culture

The first week of the month in San Francisco, lots of the museums open their doors to the city for free.  A friend and I have been making the rounds of them.   Our first was the SFMOMA, the next was the deYoung Fine Arts Museum which has an especially notable tower, which is always free and has an amazing panoramic view of the city.  Last month’s stop was at the Legion of Honor where we saw lots of amazing sculptures, art and a mummy.  However, it’s not just museums that have free days but other fun things too.  Like the San Francisco Zoo.

We decided to save the zoo for this time of year because it is finally summer in San Francisco.  I’ve been wearing shorts and putting on sunscreen and getting outside.  Also, this time of year, there are baby flamingos at the zoo.

They’re ugly and gray and can barely walk on their spindly little legs.  Also, the grownups keep sitting on them.  A delightful spectacle.

The rest of the zoo entailed a bunch of sleepy animals.  We were amazed by the giraffes, gorillas and zebras. The anteater is a surprisingly beautiful creature.

I love going to the zoo.  Hopefully next time I’ll be able to catch the lions and tigers – their exhibit was closed yesterday morning while we were there.

-a

Do Fun Stuff

Do Fun Stuff

This is a really cute kids album for an excellent cause.  A blog I’ve been following for a couple of years.  You can check it out here.

Also, the artwork?  A monster eating ice cream?  How perfect is that.  How I wish that I knew how to make the iframe thing work ’cause I would love to have that widget here.  Silly wordpress.  Why won’t you work for me?  Ah well.  Go check out that album if you have kids or if you know someone who has kids or if you like kids music.  It’s great.

House Plants

I have some new family members!

Cordelia the dishidiaProfile of Cordelia the Dishida

This is my strange new plant Cordelia the Dishidia.  She is an air plant and lives in the shower where she gets frequently misted.

Lipstick Plant

This is my lipstick plant.  I wanted to get a long dangly one to put up above my kitchen cabinets, but the man at the hardware sold me on this variegated version instead.  It was only $5.  The other one was $20.  The choice was clear.  I have time to wait for this one to grow into what the other one is.  Don’t have a name for this plant yet.  I’m leaning towards Bruce.  Any suggestions?

Les ChivesBasil

These kitchen herbs (chives and basil) live on my kitchen sill.  I haven’t named them since I frequently chop them up and eat them.  Naming them just seamed cruel.

I read that Jasmine is good for the quality of sleep you get and also for helping you focus when you study.  Both of which sounded useful, so I picked up a plant.  My thought was that I’d find a cute little stool for it to sit on in the bedroom, but the second-hand store didn’t have anything when I was there.  I’ll keep looking.  For now, it’s sitting on a chair beside the bed.  Name suggestions for this one?

lemontree

My lemon tree, Janine, has two new lemons!  This plant is currently undergoing a serious growth spurt.  She has sprouts all over the place!  I’m hoping that these lemons hang on and actually turn yellow.   They’re almost lemon sized already, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

What are your favourite house plants?

-a

A couple of weeks in a row now, two of my friends have come over to my place and we’ve started cooking together.  One hasn’t had very much experience with cooking and she asked if I could help her learn how to make some things.  That’s how it started.  It’s always a good time of drinking coffee and tea and sharing our unemployed stories (neither of them are currently working either).

Creaming the Sugar, Butter and Eggs

We started off with blueberry muffins and chocolate zucchini pineapple muffins.  The blueberry muffins were amazing and jam-packed with blueberries.  The chocolate zucchini muffins were good, but not as amazing as the blueberry muffins.

Chopping the Nuts

This week, we made chocolate chip cookies.  For a long time I had been looking for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Something crispy on the edges, and soft in the middle.  I found it a while back somewhere on the internet (not entirely sure where) and now I will share it with you.

Spooning Out the Batter

As this is a weekly thing that we’re doing, I’m hoping to get my fellow bakers to do some guest posts about learning to cook with me!  I might also teach them to knit.  But that’s a project for another week.

The cookies were perfect.  We didn’t stir in the nuts until we had already cooked a dozen so that we could have some nut-free cookies.  We accidentally made them GIANT and they turned into a giant pan cookie.  Or, as we called them, Cakies.  Still, they were delicious.  But we learned from that and made the cookies smaller in the next batches.

Cakies

The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons hot water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts

Directions:

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Dissolve baking soda in hot water.  Add to the batter along with the salt and stir.  Stir in flour, chocolate chips and nuts.  Drop by not-too-large spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

3.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges are nicely browned.  Let them cool on the pan for a minute or two, otherwise they break when you try to lift them off.

4. Don’t eat them all at once.

Bon apetit!

-a

Sunflower

When buying seeds back in March, I whimsically picked up some sunflower seeds.  I am generally a very practical gardener.  Flowers are not something I usually plant.  Having said that, look at this!  I am in love with this flower.

(Those are chocolate chip cookies in the background.  More on those soon!)

-a

It was my first wedding anniversary with my husband this last weekend and we went on an adventure together down the coast of California.

We left without much of a plan on Friday night, found places along the way to stay and saw lots of interesting things.

The California coast is beautiful.  Lots of rolling hills, mountains, greenery, ocean and neat little places to stop and gaze at the ocean.

We went to Hearst Castle.  What a strange experience that was.  Reminiscent of Versailles, and other museums and castles in Europe, but built in the last hundred years.  This room was my favourite.  I wish I could swim in this pool.

We stopped and wondered at the Elephant Seals.  These mammals are shear ridiculousness.

We ate lots of good food, drank some good wine, and generally enjoyed each other’s company.

-a

Tomatoes

image

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Beautiful.