pumpkin scones (a la starbucks) {recipe}

because i just KNOW you're thinking about food and not about shopping on black friday...

this recipe is the shizzle. pumpkin-y and moist and super easy! i brought them in to work on monday for our morning meeting.


* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 7 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* 6 tablespoons cold butter
* 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
* 3 tablespoons half-and-half
* 1 large egg

powdered sugar glaze

* 1 cup powdered sugar
* 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
* 2 tablespoons whole milk

spiced glaze

* 1 cup powdered sugar
* 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
* 2 tablespoons whole milk
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1 pinch ginger
* 1 pinch ground cloves

* oven to 425 F, grease a baking sheet
* combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt & spices
* cut in butter until crumbly (pastry knife, fork, hands, food processor)
* in another bowl, whisk pumpkin, half & half and egg
* fold wet stuff into dry stuff, form a ball
* on a lightly floured surface, make a 1" thick rectangle and cut it into 6 triangles
* put on baking sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes (lightly browned)
* cool on a wire rack

glaze directions:
* whisk ingredients for the 1st glaze - smother scones as they cool (like icing)
* whisk the ingredients for the 2nd glaze, which is thicker, drizzle on scones (like piped icing)

let glaze dry before serving, supposedly 1 hour, if you can wait that long.

i had a really hard time getting my scones to be of uniform shape, so some were cute & tiny while others were complete monstrosities. all were delicious.

additionally, my "thick" icing was not that thick - next time i may try just 1 tbsp milk and go from there to adjust the thickness. i did use half and half, as i did not have whole milk in the house.

and the icing goes a long way! i made 2 batches of scones, but only 1 batch each of the icing. i still had some left over and the scones were perfect.


homeward bound

heading home for thanksgiving!

hope everyone has safe travels and good food to fill their bellies. i think my mom mentioned that we might be having sushi tonight!

must... finish... packing...



it seems i am REALLY slow on getting those last days of california photos out! the problem is that so many of them are the same! it's hard to cull. i am learning the advantages of thinking before you shoot. digital can be the biggest pain in the ass when you have 10 photos of the same thing - you just have to pick 1 or 2 and delete the rest.

of course, when you're taking pictures and freezing in the 30 mph wind on the california coast being sprayed with ocean surf and cursing yourself for not turning back three days ago and picking up your hoodie which you left in santa barbara right as you left for monterey... you're not really thinking clearly.

some happenings:
  1. here's the link to our amazon storefront! it's like an online garage sale of books, a few musical accoutrements and a camera bag. more stuff coming. probably boring for most of you, however, for the tubes of the internet... who knows! our storefront is called Better Than Panhandling, which just tickles me to no end. we figure that if we can't sell it online, we'll just have a garage sale, then it'll trickle on to a thrift store.
  2. went out with the girls to watch 'new moon' on friday. it. was. awesome. not the movie, really, but the whole experience. being with friends, listening to extreme sexual objectification of males onscreen, chocolate & strawberry crepes and a glass of beaujolais made for a fabulous and relaxing evening. watching the movie, you'd hear shout-outs of "OH BABY!!", loud gasps of surprise when shirts came off or hilarious low moans of "yes... yeeeeeeesss..." followed by lots of reactionary laughter. and the movie itself way SO much better than the first - far fewer pained moments of embarrassment. another femmes-only movie night is definitely in the works!


caffeine... {recipe}

so, i started this whole... recipe-on-fridays thing and DAMN, it's hard.

mostly i'm apprehensive about sharing recipes from actual books for copyright reasons, so i'll try and stick to ones i've found and used online.

here's one for cold-brewed coffee that turned out fantastic. it's good for those without coffee makers, a coffee maker that lacks a brewing timer or for those who like to do things at night, rather than in the mornings. (like me! for instance, i shower at night, because i can't wake up in time to shower in the a.m. it's just not going to happen folks, i can barely remember to run my fingers through my hair, much less have the coordination and memory to shower.) (this probably doesn't reassure you about my driving skills...)

time: 5 minutes + overnight

1/3 c ground coffee (they say med-coarse is best, i say whatever you have on hand)
milk/cream/half n' half (not optional for me)
sugar (again, not optional for me)

1. in a container, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. cover and let rest at room temperature overnight

2. strain twice through a coffee filter (whoops, once was just fine for me), a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. in a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. if desired, add milk/sugar/kahlua.

yield: 2 drinks

NOTE: for hot coffee, dilute it one part coffee to one part water and nuke it


thomas kisses

thomas kisses, originally uploaded by gimchi.

thomas likes to sleep on our pillows - he usually climbs up there sometime
in the night and i duly move over onto my little corner of the pillow while
he rests, king-like.

then, as the alarms start going off (four of them, two on my clock, two on
my iphone) (pathetic, i know) (but it takes that much to get me into work),
he belly crawls over to my head and gives me stinky kisses on my forehead to
let me know that he's hungry and that it's time to feed him.


on the way to big sur

Deer, originally uploaded by vinnyyau.

huzzah! some of vince's photos are up on flickr.

you know, like, 7 of them.

on our drive down to big sur (my own photos forthcoming), we spotted these deer not too far from the road. naturally, we pulled over to the side of the road (which we did about every 5 minutes, the vista were gorgeous so) and vince got pics with his telephoto lens. damn you, 50mm!

i have lens envy.


like a monkey!

i am SO stoked about going wall climbing again!

last wednesday, rachel & i visited a wall climbing gym, conveniently located less than 10 minutes away from where we live. it seems like such great exercise, what with the holding-your-entire-body-weight-to-a-wall-with-your-arms-&-legs and the crazy adrenaline rush when you're 20 ft off the ground (i actually have no clue how high up we went, suffice it to say, it was enough to keep the hands clammy).

the only bad part was the smell - it was like climbing in-between someone's old unwashed toes. ... ok, it probably wasn't that bad, but it was stinky.

!!! just had a great idea to use chinese flower oil under my nose to cut through the smell!

i even started up doing pushups again!


library tech

this past week, one of our branches called to let us know that the internet was down at their location.

here's a rundown of the conversation:

me: ok, it looks like i can't ping your routers, so yep, you're definitely down. no internet for both your staff and public networks. i'll see what i can do to get a tech to your location.

staff: oh... ok.... wait, i just flipped a switch. will that do anything?

me: (thinking she's flipping mini-switches, power switches, something, anything in the tech storage room) oh, are you in the tech room? did you turn a switch off? ... are there lights blinking on your router and modems? (thinking they might not have power to the site)

staff: yes, we have lights on.

me: ok, so there are lights on the router and modem in your tech storage room?

staff: oh... no... i'm not in the back room. i'm out front.

me: ... so.......... what switch are you flipping.

staff: the light switch.

... the light switch. ... the fucking light switch. this person wanted to know if flipping the light switch would fix their internet problems. ... we put these people in charge of branches, folks.


meaghan's infamous quiche {recipe}

Hello ladies,

For over a year have i promised my quiche recipe, which is so easy I almost think it is not worth writing down. I am currently eating a piece, Owen is napping, so here goes:

Basic Quiche recipe:
1 pie crust (9", I always use Pillsbury from the refrigerator section.)
4 large eggs
1 c cheese (at least)
2 c milky liquid (see below)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
whatever else you feel like adding

"Milky Liquid": the original recipe calls for heavy cream or half & half, but that is too many calories for me. I use a combo of milk products equaling 2 c- maybe 1/2 c skim, 1 1/4c whole, 1/4 heavy, etc. Depends on how good I want to be. The only rule of thumb is the less fat in the milk, the longer you cook it for and at a slightly higher temp. If the quiche is too wet, you can always microwave each piece uncovered to dry it out before serving. C and I will do this, but I won't do this in front of company.

I use quiche as a way to use up odds and ends of leftovers in my fridge, esp. when I have a hodge podge of cheese bits ( I use shredded and sliced). Some of my fav. combos:
  • Spinach, provolone, goat cheese, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil (today i'm eating that with some leftover rotisserie chx added in)
  • Ham, yellow and orange cheeses, mozzarella, rosemary, sliced tomatoes, sweet corn
  • Broccoli, tomato, green pepper, sausage

chopped onions go with everything, and finely minced summer squash or zucchinis add veggies without changing texture or taste too much.

Essentially, I always add the following to my quiche:
  • sliced tomatoes, heavily salted and peppered to release moisture before cooking
  • garlic powder
  • a green veggie (frozen box from publix, microwaved w/ moisture drained out)
  • a meat (unneccessary, but nice for meat eater men to feel like they are having real food)- shaved lunch meat is great if you don't have leftovers
  • fresh herbs on top added the last 5 minutes of cooking- not only to identify what's in each quiche if I have multiples, and a vegetarian on the premises, but b/c it looks fancy-schmancy. I almost exclusively use basil, rosemary and parsley b/c that's what I have in the garden.


1. Heat oven to 425

2. Place pie crust in pan, preparing it for fillings
3. Put fillings in pie crust. no technique other than "dump and distribute"
4. Beat eggs slightly in large bowl, add milk and spices, beat to combine (fork beating, not with mixer)
5. Pour egg mixture into pie crust.
6. Cover crust for first 15 minutes of baking-
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, turn oven down to 300 (full fat) or 325 (lighter version) and cook for 30- 45 more minutes depending on fat content. The middle should be mostly set, but lower fat quiches may never have a solid set center.

Enjoy the longest easiest recipe ever.


california - day 5 {tuesday}


tuesday my camera finally starts getting a break. i'm running out of things to photograph, which is totally ridiculous, but my creative brain is starting to blow its fuse.

we go to the conference while vince heads out for the wineries. i am so. jealous.

at about 3 pm, CW and i run off to see the zombie walk, but it ends up being a little less than stellar. there are only 5 fully dressed zombies, but we are early. i donate $1 for a candied apple and maintain a chipper attitude, taking some photos. when we leave, we see at least 7 more zombies making their way to the rendezvous; hopefully it gained momentum! (hey! more photos here!) we had to run off before the actual walk started. alas!


this isn't a zombie - she's just "taking photos". which, c'mon, is a cop out. if you're at a zombie walk - dress like a zombie! this doesn't include myself and CW because we were at a conference. you know what i mean.


we took a quick jaunt to trader joe's and then to peet's for pumpkin lattes before heading back to the conference.

vince ends up napping off his wine tastings while i take a walk about monterey! here he is about 2 mins before he falls asleep and starts drooling.


the wind has seriously picked up and there's currently an advisory - gusts up to 30/40 mph. it's getting cold for this florida girl! i meander about the farmer's market and then decide to walk way out dennis the menace playground, which was closed! argh.


then to the beach where i spot a dead seal.


i'm super cold at this point, but still manage to take photos, even though i'm thinking that sand must be getting all over my camera. my poor little lens! there's that "fog" on the beach from the wind-whipped sand just streaming all over the ground. good thing i was wearing jeans!


on this one, i love that crazy small line of focus:



i popped into a few public bathrooms to get out of the cold and warm up my ears. overall, i think i walked about 1.5 - 2 miles.


that night we head to cafe lumiere near the hotel and get some "con panna" - espresso with a bit of cream. my brother asked for a description and no lie, the guy tells him that it's like a vanilla latte. WTF?!

we watch a few rounds of some conference hijinks (powerpoint karaoke) and head to dinner at montrio's bistro, another excellent meal. duck! wine! another delicious meal. i can't remember now, but i think we just went to bed in preparation for getting up and meeting CW at 6 am to watch the sunrise on 17 mile drive.


california - day 4 {monday}

good morning monterey!

monday (btw, this was 10/26/09) i attended the keynote for the conference with my coworker (CW) after we had a bite to eat at pino's "italian" cafe. then we hit the aquarium!

it SO didn't disappoint.




check out these crazy fish! they were swimming in this large circular tank above our heads and along the wall... swimming... swimming... then WHAM, their jaws would break open.


very impressive! little pac man fish!


in the seahorse section, CW noticed that one of the male seahorses had given birth! those little white flecks in the water are thousands of tiny babies.


here's vincent being eaten by a giant clam.


while not huge, the aquarium had a lot of really great and close displays. for instance, this little bird was in an aviary and was fluffing itself not 3 ft from me! i almost exploded with excitement over how cute it was.


for kicks, i may be releasing my nicer photos over time as desktop/iphone wallpapers. i have NO CLUE if anyone would be interested, but i kind of want to set this stuff up anyways to learn how photoshop actions and batch actions work.

after purchasing requisite gifts of stuffed animals for nephews and nieces, we had crepes at the monterey crepe company. "meh." not so fantastic. if you've been to the creperia in ybor, you're golden. the creperia blows the monterey crepe co. out of the water.

CW and i, at this point, really had to get back to the conference, so we booked it back to the conference center where we spent the rest of our day. vincent, however, went to some wineries, if i'm not mistaken, and walked about the wharf.

we all met up later in the afternoon, had some wine in the hotel room and then walked to the wharf to watch the sunset.



sea lions! vincent had tracked these lazy bums down earlier in the day by following the sounds of their barking. they were still hanging out when we got there, just sleepier.

here we were also accosted by a slightly creepy guy asking us, all low and inviting, if we wanted to get on a boat to see the area. while it would have been nice, 1) we were trying to not go overboard on spending $$ and 2) did i not mention he was creepy?

it was like he said, "hey... guys... psst... wanna come to a party? IT'S IN MY PANTS!"




after this, i got the others to decide on a restaurant for dinner! i had done a teensy bit of research on restaurant week in monterey and was intrigued by 'fresh cream', partly because it was somewhat french. i have no idea what french cooking is like - all i remember about foodstuffs during my time in paris in high school are delicious street crepes and 1.5 bottles of super cheap shitty wine (followed by the floor and embarrassing photos). (man, remember those days of drinking with NO HANGOVER the next day?! getting old blows.)

also, i had made the call on the crepe company and felt the need to redeem myself in some way by going for a good restaurant.

success! this place was amazing!


we got a delicious bottle of wine, (one of) my favorites of the trip. also, buying wine at restaurants SUCKS ASS. i'm realizing now that it's better to buy a bottle of $30-40 wine and pay the $12 corking fee rather than buy it at the restaurant's insane markup. effing lame. anyways.

[update: hm, maybe not. i just looked up the year and the 2006 vintage is a bit more expensive than the 2007. the price for the 2006 seems a little more reasonable for what we paid. ignore me. thanks.]

[update: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME?! yes. buy the wine at the store and pay the corking fee. the markup IS insane. jesus effing christ, i mean, i even have a picture right there telling me that we drank the 2007. not the 2006. we drank the "cheaper" 2007 and paid a lot for it. i don't regret it in the least, but now that i know it's delicious, i'll just buy it and bring it! *ahem* i'm a freak, people.]


our amuse bouche had something with black caviar. it was delicious - that's all i remember.

soup was a cauliflower soup with heirloom tomatoes, olives and dill. SO good for a creamy soup made of a plain white vegetable.

my appetizer was GAMBAS ET SES LEGUMES DANS SON PANIER CROQUANT - ginger plum glazed prawns with asian vegetables in a crispy wonton basket with a sesame vinaigrette.

CW had CHAUSSON DE HOMARD AU DEUX CAVIARS - raviolis of lobster with lobster butter, black and gold caviar. adventurous for a non-seafood eater!

vincent went for the PETITS GALETTE DE CRABE A LA MODE DU CHEF - pacific dungeness crab cakes with a roasted red bell pepper beurre blanc.

here's my entree of alaskan halibut with chive whipped potatoes, sweet onion sauce, cabernet reduction and infused oil.


vince had loch duart salmon with balsamic butter (can't find the official description) while CW had the BOEUF GRILLE SAUCE MADEIRE ET CHAMPIGNONS DES BOIS - grilled filet mignon and roasted portabellas with truffle madeira sauce.

CW's dessert was incredible! a SAC AU CHOCOLAT - chocolate bag filled with a mocha milkshake and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. our server informed us that many "man" hours went into making this little beauty. it involved a waxed paper bag, melted chocolate and a paintbrush. i loved that you could see the actual folds of the paper bag.


vince went for the PALETTE DE SORBETS - assortment of fresh fruit sorbets while i tackled the MADAGASCAR VANILLA BRULEE - basically just exceedingly tasty creme brulee with fruit.

this had to be one of the best meals ever. afterward, i was so stuffed! we walked back to the hotel and dropped off CW. still sickeningly full, vince walked with me around the block a few times until we settled at the crown & anchor, conveniently located right across the street from the hotel. we had a drink each and then had to crash. tons of library peeps were still going strong - i felt like such a wuss.


california - day 3 {sunday}

california beaches!!

after breakfast we headed towards the water and got to see the weirdness that is a california beach. super beautiful grassy area that led straight onto the beach. ... wait, no crazy pine needled area to walk through? it was like a park and beach all in one! PERFECTION!! not to mention beautiful weather, yet again. i will note that it had apparently rained two weeks prior, which is why they had green grass; it'd be interesting to see this area when it's been dry for a long time.

ooo, and the seagulls are way bigger than florida gulls! all fat and sassy.

we also got to drive through the university area where rob works as a brainy scientist. [insert white lab coat, bubbling beakers, talking pet monkey in a fez and a cackling evil laugh. maybe.] jessica informed us that he's always reading scientific chemistry papers and it's true! i read part of one out loud and was impressed and stunned by the nerdiness. thank god i passed high school chem. and why did i think i wanted to take more by being a pharmacist? what crack was i smoking?!





the water is, unlike florida's waters, constantly freezing cold (in the 50s). so no swimming unless you have a wetsuit, or are a small child who can take anything nature throws at you.

lunch was at in-n-out burger! super tasty! i can't believe i didn't take photos. their menu has 4 items and for fast food, it was surprisingly slow to come out. jessica notes that this is because everything is cooked to order and fresh. delicious! and sadly, nowhere near florida.

onward, to the santa barbara zoo:


vincent may have gotten more photos of actual living animals this day, with his newfangled telephoto lens. he even got the stink eye from a gorilla!

[holy shit, i completely forgot to mention samy's camera! the day before, we stopped in a camera store so i could live vicariously through vincent's purchase of a new camera lens for his canon. the place looked tiny, no bigger than our living room. we get to the back and realize there's a little hall... so we walk down... and GOTT IN HIMMEL! the store is immense! wal-mart size [hyperbole] with camera equipment and accessories as far as the eye could see! it was like credit card heaven.]



so yea, there are even more plant photos than these. i tend to get really caught up in photographing plants when i can't do anything else. all the animals were too far away for my 35/50 mm.

not these animals, of course:




we meandered back home and jessica finished my awesome hand loomed scarf!


since it was sunday, vince and i had to head back to monterey for my conference early the next morning. *sigh*

we did, however, stop in pismo beach to watch the sunset over the water. we just used the gps and our iphones to find our way to the water, parked, left our shoes under the lifeguard station (i swore they were going to be stolen) and frolicked in the sand.

our mantra the whole trip was, "hey! we're in california!!" [repeat ad nauseum]




i took this photo so we could show the police what they looked like after they were stolen.



after the sunset, we had a delicious leisurely dinner at guiseppe's italian restaurant and finished up our drive to monterey. we got into the hotel at around 10:30/11:00 pm. whew!! it was a lot of driving, but worth it.

again, thanks to jessica & rob for letting us stay at your apartment!! you're like our personal california couch surfing site. ;)




california - day 2 {saturday}

our second day in california saw us greeting the afternoon at the sanford winery tasting room. jessica & rob's misinformed gps and our crappy iphone reception (no google maps!) meant that we drove down the same 10 mile stretch of road 4 times. deja vu, anyone? rob, by the way, is a stellar and fast driver of curvy california roads.

this photo was taken by jessica! it really encapsulates how perfect the weather was that day. sunny skies and highs in the 70s. NO HUMIDITY. i cannot stress how gorgeous it was. i really enjoyed being outside. no sweat or clamminess! if they'd had food at the tasting room, i could have stayed all day. which is probably why they don't have food. we did buy a $4 bag of chips, as i was famished and even small amounts of wine will fuck. me. up. (on an empty stomach).

once we hit the reds, we moved outside and relaxed some more.

i'm closing my eyes and wishing i were back, wine in hand.

the wine fields! we went to some other tasting rooms later, but there's just that extra wonderful feeling from drinking wine in the exact place that it's grown and cultivated, drinking in the same sun, breathing the same air.

vincent declared himself the pinot plant king. (or maybe that was just me.) he really will do almost anything for me in a photo - what a sweetie!

finally, our stomachs needed more sustenance than wine + tortilla chips, so we headed to solvang for good eats. adorable little town! windmill! naturally, after lunch, we went to another wine tasting at lucas & lewellen. jessica & i did the "fun" wine list - lots of sweet wines, ending with a port served in a little chocolate cup. now that i'm not already tipsy, i'm sad we didn't do more wineries. at the time, of course, i was getting over jet lag and travel and couldn't hande my alcohol. pathetic!

after this was followed another super twisty drive to chumash painted cave. rob did the drive in, i believe, 20 minutes. the same drive would have taken me 2+ hours. i admit now, far away in florida, that i had to close my eyes for most of the drive and pretend i was in a peaceful sunlit forest with unicorns to distract from the 2 lane roads disguised as 1 lane roads which curved at acute angles and which we took at great speeds.

it was worth it! check out this awesome shot! i couldn't even see this with my own eyes. thank you long exposure! and auto-focus.

a quick drive later and we found ourselves at lizard's mouth to watch the sunset. breathtaking! and that was just the climb.

jessica insists that it wasn't rock climbing, but instead "scrambling". i disagree. i remember a distinct moment in which i, with camera bag and camera, had to mold myself to the wall of a boulder to continue onward towards the top to see the sunset, my dry fingers gripping tenuously to the gritty rockface, my feet on 6 inches of skinny ground. that's climbing, my friend.

i admit, i'm a big wuss sometimes. i like the idea of bouldering, of rock climbing, but real life actuality makes me kind of freak out. and poor vince, in his slippery flip flops! and the ground wasn't really *that* steep, it just felt more steep because.... well, no, fuck that. it was steep. i get vertigo at baseball stadiums in the seats and have to lean way over away from the field to walk a straight line to my seat. i've had nightmares about said stadiums and falling and both driving and walking up either very inclined bridges or ones that are opening up.

so this:

freaked me the fuck out. LOOK OUT, JESSICA! LEAN BACK OR YOU'LL FALL!!
i'll admit this now, but look! i conquered my fear!

and now i want to go (indoor) wall climbing.

here i am wiping my clammy hands off on my pants.

and i mean, c'mon. it was worth it.

p.s. rob made us all great pesto that night w/ perfectly al dente pasta!