paddy or patty?

St. Paddy's or St. Patty's

Every year around this time, there are typically a handful of recurring thoughts swirling around in my head… which team should I pick to win the NCAA tournament? is this finally the year a 16 seed beats a 1 seed? can I get away with wearing orange instead of green on St. Patrick’s Day? It is the new black, after all. And is it St. Paddy’s or St. Patty’s?

Now this last one drives me crazy. I spend minutes agonizing over which one to use because I don’t know which one is right… kinda like Presidents Day. Do I need to use a damn apostrophe or not?! (For the record, both Presidents Day and Presidents’ Day are acceptable, but for Abe’s sake, do not use President’s Day.) With a patty here and paddy there abbreviating St. Patrick’s is flat out confusing. The etymologist in me, had to put an end to this yearly internal debate.

Turns out, the answer is simple, really. A patty is flattened, ground meat, often in the shape of a circle or someone whose full name is Patricia. Paddy, on the other hand, is short for Padraig, an Irish male name derived from Patricius, or Patrick. Like St. Patrick. So there you have it: when asking yourself if it’s St. Paddy’s or St. Patty’s, it’s definitely paddy.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

And just to prove that I’m not making things up, check out paddynotpatty.com – you know, because everything you read on the Internet is true.

the yards bruncheon

The Yards Bruncheon in Spokane, WAI have always cherished Saturday mornings, when the demands of the world are no match for goose down and the sweet sound of sizzling bacon is a welcomed wakeup call. In a perfect world, every day would be Saturday and the most difficult decisions would be “scrambled or poached?” and “waffles or pancakes?”. Here in Spokane, Sunday and the rest of his tagalongs rob us of that luxury, but the brand new Yards Bruncheon is dishing up diners’ indecision all week long.

I had a chance to grab brunch with a good friend at Yards yesterday, overjoyed and overwhelmed by the menu selections before I even stepped foot in the diner. We seated ourselves, making our way over the checkerboard floor to a back corner table where we discussed the politics of sweet versus savory: sourdough waffles or Chick’n n’ Waffles, Wild Huckleberry Pancakes or housemade biscuits and gravy, pastries or pastrami. How’s a girl supposed to cast her vote? Compromise, I tell you.

Chick'n n' Waffles at The Yards Bruncheon

We split the Sweet Biscuits, the first bite halting all intelligent conversation as we entered the sixth level of huckleberry heaven (the seventh being The Ram’s Huckleberry Milkshake). The buttery crust of my Sausage Apple Cheddar Quiche flaked away from my fork like a good pie shell should, and from what I could tell, Whitney’s new love is a one Sir Eggs Benedict.

Personally, eating brunch just means enjoying breakfast around noon; I will never order a soup and sandwich combo when I can douse my meal in maple syrup instead. With that said, the “unch” portion of the Yard’s brunch menu boasted a few items I might consider if I were actually there to eat lunch, like the B.L.Toad in the Hole, your typical BLT on sourdough but filled with a fried egg, and the SpokEngland Clam Chowder. …I’m a sucker for portmanteaus, which is probably why I like this new bruncheon so much. Oh, and they also pour a life-saving Bloody Mary.

(images via @teamruster3 and @iviozartsghost)

new year, new habits

I never have been a fast mover: 15 days in and I’m just now settling into 2014. Come January 1, most people hit the ground running. I just hit the ground, with a courtesy shove from holiday stress and an obnoxious cold bug that takes out a short lease in my sinus cavities every December. And not that I’d ever complain about an open bar, but counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve with a drink in each hand may have hastened my descent.

So now that I’ve slow crawled through the first half of January, let me stand up and say that 2014 is going to be a huge year. Like new boobs huge. Personally, I love resolutions, just not of the New Year’s variety. I find myself making them in July, October, and random Tuesdays in between, but January is usually the best time to reevaluate. If a fresh calendar was the only thing forcing self-reflection, I’d need more than resolutions to right this ship.

Even then, I try not to call them resolutions because, like ripples in a wishing well, resolutions tire quickly, and I’m not casting forgotten pennies. I’m making changes, forming new habits, and breaking free of the ones that hold me back, all to get exactly where I want to be this year. So while my 2014 “Wish List” may seem like a catalog of fanciful desires, each bullet point will be the culmination of a hundred tiny steps, and a brief slow crawl, that involve discipline and heart.

So here it is, my 2014 Wish List:

Riding an elephant in the rivers of Thailand

  • Explore a new continent (South America, Asia, Antarctica, and Australia are all fair game)
  • Write a book
  • Have a conversation in Spanish
  • Try a new mode of transportation (I’m thinking elephant, but I’ll be equally happy with a hot air balloon, helicopter, tuk tuk, or sidecar)
  • Spend New Year’s Eve in my pajamas (so as to hit the ground running, in style)
  • Stay positive (starting with this simple rule I stole from a friend: say 3 positive things before saying 1 negative thing)
  • Use my tent. Regrettably, it has been hanging in the rafters of my garage since September 2011 – safe to say it’s aired out.

Let the journey begin. Happy (belated) New Year!

The Mascherari

I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of writing. I miss it, and I need it. So, in November I jumped in head first and entered The Inlander’s Short Story Contest. This year’s theme was “Bridges”, and the rules were simple: be bold, be creative, and keep it under 2,000 words. Easy enough.

The winning stories were released today, and like a wishful 7 year-old whose Christmas list is full of ponies and a North Face Fleece in every color, the only thing I wanted for Christmas was to win. Santa brought me a Sonicare toothbrush instead. So, no. I didn’t win or even come close really, but that’s okay. It’s what I expected. Frankly, I’m out of practice and was up against some stiff competition – you know, like, published authors and the bookworms who teach people like me how to write short stories. And while I think participation ribbons are for losers, I’m going to give myself one anyway for submitting a story in the first place (yay me!).

Now I’m waving that ugly, green ribbon high and posting my story on the blog for all to see. Enjoy!

Italian-Masks-Inlander-Short-Story-Contest

The Mascherari

Like an army of jesters, a million sunflowers danced under the bright Italian sky on either side of the railcar. Yet as the wheels surged over the track, the grins on their blurred, round faces only seemed to mock her consciousness. Unamused, she succumbed to exhaustion and shut her eyes. Her sleep was deep and impenetrable as she dreamt of the same familiar green eyes that had occupied her mind every night since she left the city.

A pleasant, computer-generated voice announced the train’s arrival, first in Italian, then in English. It was the final stop: Venezia. Venice. Disoriented upon return from her dream, she obeyed the woman in the speaker and clumsily collected her belongings—a bottle of overpriced bottled water, a small, navy duffle, and a knockoff Fendi handbag, her feeble attempt to look like she belonged. She shuffled with strangers in their expensive leather loafers to the station exit, where they all scattered in Babel-like confusion.

Outside the station, the sun had already crept beneath the horizon, hiding the archipelago of sinking buildings that stood before her. Glowing orbs atop lampposts illuminated the platform and cast long shadows onto the black water of the Grand Canal. Too tired and too impatient to wait for the vaparetto, she would have to navigate the labyrinth of footbridges in the dark.

Foundations moaned in agony at their slow decay as she made her way through the lagoon. Intricate masks beautiful in the daylight, emerged as phantoms in the night, watching her with soulless eyes from window shops on every corner. Her heart raced as a pride of Venetian lion statues stalked her path. But even in her weary delirium, she did not miss a turn. She’d been here many times before; his door her beacon.

At the end of a damp, cobbled alleyway she finally arrived. She paused at the massive wood door, its panels warped and its paint etched from the thick, salt air. She filled her lungs. Here, another lion—the door knocker—defended the entrance like a gargoyle. No stranger to this place, she let herself in.

No one was home, just as she’d expected. She fumbled into the bedroom and flicked the light on. Every dim lit detail was as she remembered it. Photos of the two of them cluttered the nightstand, but she didn’t recognize the girl in the photos; that girl was happy. She dropped her things on the tile floor and shut off the light to expel the stranger in the picture frame. Now, came the onslaught of emotion and exhaustion, patient predators that had been preying on her all day. They attacked her in tandem, and she crumpled onto the empty mattress. Sleep was not far behind.

Her eyelids lifted reluctantly as light trickled in between the curtains. She could hear the tide lapping at the walls outside the window. She’d been anticipating—and dreading— this day.

Outside, the air was electric, and it hummed along with the motorboats weaving through the canals. Gondoliers bellowed deeper, and their passengers kissed harder. Even the beggars were mirthful. This day was the first day of Carnevale.

Carnevale symbolized a time of reckless abandon.  Music and dancing joined hands to fill palace courtyards, plazas, and small squares. Celebrations carried on late into the night and out into the water. Instead of the Adriatic, color flooded the streets.

Putting on their masks, people were invisible—no transgression impermissible and no fruit forbidden. Who existed behind the paper face was of no consequence, the anonymity empowering. The poor rubbed shoulders with the prosperous; the gamblers squandered their fortunes; and the fools took risks on business and love.

She scolded her own foolishness as she wandered toward the city’s core, Piazza San Marco. The square was a sea of glittery masks with waves of vibrant fabric crashing all around, taking her mind back to her first visit to Venice… the last map dot on a monthlong tour of Italy and an exclamation point to her most cherished chapter. Errant in her youth, she was on a journey of self-discovery. She found him instead.

He came from a family of mascherariCarnevale was their livelihood, and each year he handcrafted his own mask. His stood out in the parade of faces, and she only wanted to take his photo—another lion, this one gold with emerald eyes. A single snapshot multiplied into a thousand. She had an entire album documenting the fantasy that ensued. The revelry, the romance. They were the reason she fell in love with the city. And the reason she fell in love with him.

For three years, she crossed oceans and footbridges to be close to him, but time had eroded the walls of the city and her heart. As if to remind her of the minutes she’d lost trying to reach him, the bells in St. Mark’s Campanile began to toll.

There, in the kaleidoscope of costumes, was her Venetian lion. The gold of his mask had lost its luster, and the green of his eyes only glistened in her dreams. She struggled through the crowd toward him. Finally close enough to touch, she repeated their very first encounter and asked if she could take a picture. The vision of her surprised him; she wasn’t supposed to be there for another few days.

Grasping the hook of his elbow, she pulled him through the swarm of tourists to a quiet corner of the maze where she tore off his mask. They were alone and face-to-face for the first time in months, but there was only silence.

She forced a small object into his palm and closed his fingers around it. Their lips pressed together—a long, soft kiss that communicated everything. She turned away and walked toward the train station. By the time he looked down to see his grandmother’s ring, she had already crossed the Grand Canal for the last time, leaving her love behind to drown with the city.

the weekly pour: no place like home

IMG_4004

Sometimes life demands introspection, and whenever I’m craving solitude and balance I find myself gravitating toward home. Facing my first five day weekend in years, I had no reason to resist the pull drawing me westward for the 4th. Ocean air and deep-rooted friendships never fail to restore equilibrium, and the caverns of my heart are full with all the right things.

Days were spent running near the tidal flats of Padilla Bay and visiting some of the local gems that make the Northwest the terrestrial treasure trove that it is…

…Whistle Lake, where relaxation and exhilaration collide. Nestled in forestland, a short hike serves as the gateway to an outdoor utopia that welcomes swimmers, fishers, and thrill seekers alike. Pristine water dazzles beneath the rocky cliffs and towering evergreens, while a rope swing dangles on the eastern edge of the lake. We only swam, but reminisced on the days when adrenaline and peer pressure forced us off the edge toward a splash landing.

…Deception Pass where the view spans from Mt. Baker to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Admittedly, after the recent collapse of the I-5 bridge, I was more consumed with thoughts of structural integrity than the scenery.

Deception Pass Bridge Deception Pass Bridge Washington State

…Snow Goose Produce Market where fresh waffle cones serve as the perfect vehicle for what I’m sure is an entire pint of locally churned ice cream.

And my nights were spent around a backyard campfire, toasting every passing train at The Trainwreck, or relearning my wedding processional song on lonely ivory keys.

I took Highway 2 home. Windows down, the soundtrack of summer escaping into the wide open space, my hair tangling while the mess of thoughts in my head did the opposite, somehow unraveling itself – a strange catharsis urging me to take every USFS road, stop at every scenic viewpoint, and jump in the Wenatchee River at every turn. Time didn’t allow me to act on every impulse.

Instead, I pulled over to watch the fish jump at Tumwater Dam and stopped in Leavenworth to move around. It’s funny how your perception of places evolves over time. I remember Leavenworth as the first big stop on summer road trips over the mountains to watch my dad play softball in Chelan, promising overwhelming heat and ice cream cones. Now, this Bavarian oasis evokes thoughts of Dick Van Dyke’s flying car and a child catcher. And the marketer in me shudders at the branding nightmare it creates; even the Siren isn’t allowed to show her face in town. Somehow I escaped without devouring schnitzel or strudel… the bakery that didn’t accept credit cards lost a good customer that day.

Tumwater DamStarbucks Coffee Leavenworth Washington

Extra time on the road was rewarded with the smell of gin pine trees and miles of marshmallow clouds I wanted to pluck out of the sky and roast over a late night mountain campfire. And the Wenatchee River was too treacherous to jump in, so I dove in the Columbia as the wind turbines on the horizon applauded my form.

Vantage Boat Launch

A quick dip was just what my shoulders needed to soothe the sunburn I earned cruising with the sunroof open, and a trip home was exactly I needed to regain some perspective.

paleo zucchini lasagna

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

I don’t know a lot about the paleo diet, nor am I following it – just trying to eat healthy – but all the paleo recipes I’ve found have knocked my socks off, along with a few pounds. I know that “paleo gluten free zucchini lasagna with ground turkey” sounds like a sick joke a mom would play on her macaroni-loving kiddos, but after building this dish from Betty Rocker layer by layer, I could not wait to get it out of the oven and into my belleh. Not as good as mac ‘n’ cheese, but way better than meatloaf and a teeny tiny 260 calories per serving.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 yellow + green zucchini (I used 5 small-ish green zucchinis)
  • 3-4 cups assorted greens (baby spinach, arugula, kale – I used baby spinach and fresh basil leaves)
  • 2 cups marinara or pasta sauce
  • 4 slices turkey bacon (I skipped this)
  • 1 pound ground turkey (Betty Rocker recommends buffalo)
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 5-6 garlic cloves or 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 tbsp assorted fresh herbs (go for rosemary!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Get the step-by-step instructions from Betty Rocker. And maybe if you eat this you can have abs like hers?

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

gluten free paleo lasagna made with zucchini

Of note: when it came out it was a little soupy – zucchini has a ton of water in it. But. I put it in the fridge over night and the slices came out much cleaner the next day (sounds like real lasagna, does it not?). I’d also recommend adding more meat than the recipe calls for. Give it a try and let me know with you think!

the weekly pour: word to your mom

Civita with my mom

Moms don’t get enough credit. I know mine doesn’t. So in honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, I’m going to give credit where credit is due.

I live on the opposite side of the state as my mother, so it’s not like we grab lunch together every week or go get pedicures when one of us has a bad day. We don’t even talk on the phone every week, and sometimes I get mad when she texts me (mostly because Siri is a terrible translator and my mom is a technology R-word). Sometimes I hang up on her when she burps into the phone. She sure knows how to push my buttons. But isn’t that what moms are for?

We may not see eye-to-eye on everything, and she may not be perfect, but that’s okay. Because we’re not supposed to and neither am I (I had you fooled, huh?). My mom is one amazing lady. When I sit back and think about it, her well-roundedness totally impresses me. She’s extremely bright, especially when it comes to real estate, finance, and politics; she’s the reason I’m a cake snob (read: excellent cook/baker/entertainer); Bohemian Rhapsody flows effortlessly from her fingers on the piano; she knows more about roses than Jackson & Perkins (read: former Master Gardener); her photographs from around the world are Nat Geo worthy; she swims like erry day (I can’t even get in one lap without almost drowning or suffocating); she can chug a beer faster than you (and my ex-boyfriend); and her nickname is Dancing Donna. Oh yeaaaaah.

Am I missing anything? Oh, right. She puts up with me. I’m a big brat. And she loves me in spite of it. So. Because I know she’s reading this… mom, I love you. Thank you for everything. Have a very happy Mother’s Day, and I’m so sorry I can’t be there. You are wonderful even though I don’t always make you feel that way. Smooches!