Photo Treasure Hunt

Photo treasure hunts are my new favorite thing, I think.

Last spring, I enrolled in the Superhero Life 30 Day Photo Treasure Hunt.

My photos for that course, should you care to peruse them, are here.

Some of my faves:

Capture the Action

capture the action

A Heart on your Path

A heart on your path

Wild Card

Wild Card

I introduced the Photo Treasure Hunt to a couple of my friends at a cabin weekend this summer. We spent an hour, each on our own, exploring the landscape. We brainstormed a list of prompts while eating lunch. It was a great way to slow down, look at our surroundings a little bit differently, and enjoy some active downtime.

Movement

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Mushrooms

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A flower

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Wild Card

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Out of Place

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Chevron

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Home

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Light

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A Walk.

Sometimes having an overactive imagination results in things like rainbow sparkle unicorns or fictional roller derby golf outings, and sometimes it seriously interferes with life for a few minutes.
 
I went for a walk after work the other day. I was on the path that leads from Swede Hollow past the old Hamm’s brewery, up towards the Arcade/Phalen Blvd area. For some reason I looked over to my left, and saw a very intriguing back yard. There was a little path forged through the woods, so I followed it a little ways to get a better glimpse of the landscaping and odds and ends back there. As I crept up, feeling like a trespasser, I saw this thing sitting in the crotch of a tree. See the lower left:

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My imagination immediately went to: “KOALA!!!” Because yes, there would definitely be a koala sitting in a tree on the Eastside of St. Paul. 

I started rationalizing with myself… “But there was a cougar sighting on Grand Avenue, why couldn’t there be a koala in Swede Hollow?” “What would a koala eat in Minnesota, since there is no eucalyptus?” “I wonder how it got here… should I call animal control?” “Is it somebody’s pet?”
 
I decided I needed to investigate further. So I very stealthily tiptoed up behind it, trying not to disturb it… meanwhile, my imagination was getting its ass kicked by my brain. “Koala” was quickly turning into an oppossum, or a huge rabbit, or a baby albino bear (BECAUSE THAT MAKES MORE SENSE). As I approached, I started making little noises – deliberately loud footsteps, clearing my throat, humming a little tune… it still didn’t move. I was beginning to get scared. What if it was some sort of spooky animal sacrifice site or something? Dead muskrat maybe?
 
Finally, I steeled myself for the big reveal. I stood in front of it, and saw the most amazing sight:

Tree potato

 And then I laughed, breathed a sigh of relief, and continued with my walk.

Rollercoasters

Hi. I sometimes forget this thing is here. Life has been pretty overwhelming lately.

Here’s how the last week has gone…

I finished hand-stitching this quilt.

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I made a giant mess out of my apartment.

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I made a bunch of jewelry, with the help of some friends.

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I also had the help of the six-year-old neighbor boy.

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I made some greeting cards.

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And then I donated all of that stuff to a benefit.

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I went to a Kentucky Derby party.

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I made some faux roller derby helmet covers.

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My work team had faux roller derby t-shirts made.

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And then we golfed in the shirts…and helmets… and tutus.

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I suck at golf, but the sight of these ephemeral flowers made the hours worth it.

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I won an incredibly ironic and unexpected merit award.

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I was handed the gavel, to use during my Presidential term for MEHA.

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For my Incoming President’s address, I was going to use a quote from my favorite modern philosopher, but at the last minute, I decided to just go ahead and show his Pep Talk to the assembly.

I headed to Hibbing to see the Great Gatsby with my college roommate.

I drove through a freaking blizzard on my way home.

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And then a few minutes later, the blizzard was done.

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I got this in the mail.

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I cleaned the fridge.

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And then I made soup out of the wilted stuff I found in the fridge.

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And now I’m trying to get caught up on Once Upon A Time before the season finale tomorrow night. If Hulu doesn’t quit buffering soon though, I might throw my TV out of the window.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll probably be hiding from the world for awhile. Don’t take it personally, I’m just trying to survive.

 

Stormy

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Today went kind of like this:

Really exciting and fun plans with sister totally squashed by threat of severe weather, which has not yet proved to be true. Crabby attitude ensues. Bah, humbug, etc. etc.

Dinner, rather than something fun along our antiquing route somewhere between Lindstrom, Taylors Falls, Stillwater, Hudson, and home, was pasta.

I bought way too much fresh produce at Costco yesterday, completely failing to remember that I’m on the road for work all week during the day (i.e. restaurant meals), and have obligations pretty much every night (i.e. I will not be cooking this week… at all).

So, with that in mind, tonight’s dinner went a little something like this:

Stormy weather (and attitude) pasta

1. Start a pot of water boiling for pasta. [When the water finally boils, cook pasta of your choice, reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water, drain, and set aside… I used linguine)

2. Over medium-high heat, saute half an onion, finely chopped, in a few tablespoons of olive oil, until nearly translucent

3. Add about 1 Tbsp of crushed red peppers, a few minced cloves of garlic and about 6 large mushrooms, very thinly sliced

4. After a few minutes, add 6 or 7 baby sweet peppers, thinly sliced into rings, a big squirt of anchovy paste, and a big squirt of tomato paste (yes, I totally buy these two items by the toothpaste-style tube – way less waste!!!).

5. A few minutes later, add 3 roma tomatoes, diced.

6. A couple minutes later, add about 1/2 cup sweet marsala wine, about 1/2 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts, and about 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives.

7. When the sauce has started to simmer again, add about 1 cup of chopped parsley, and about five giant handfuls of baby spinach, chopped. After the greens have wilted, lower the heat. Add freshly ground pepper and salt, if needed, to taste.

8. Add the cooked pasta (drained – see step 1 above). Add reserved pasta water as needed to thoroughly coat the pasta.

9. Serve with lots of freshly grated parmesan. Look outside and sigh. Not that you’re excited about severe weather or anything… but canceling plans in favor of safety, when safety turns out not to have been necessary… frustrating.

You should make this.

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Red Curry Coconut Mussels and Cambodian Grapefruit Salad

The curried mussels recipe makes way more sauce than you need for 2 pounds of mussels, so I usually pour off about half before adding the mussels. I freeze the reserved portion for a quick curry another day. I use the entire can of red curry (instead of the half can called for). It’s spicy, but not painfully so. The heavy cream was a surprising ingredient, but I have made this a dozen times – once subbing extra coconut milk for the cream – and it really is better with it. Make sure to use coconut milk that doesn’t have extra thickeners, or the final product will end up strangely slimy.

The grapefruit salad… wow. Amazingly good. I can’t wait to make it this summer, to be eaten ice cold on a hot day. I added a diced avocado, and served without extra greens. I didn’t have a red chile, so I added a big spoonful of garlic-chile paste to the dressing. Also, I only had sweetened coconut and dry roasted peanuts on hand, so I just toasted them both together in a skillet, watching closely so they didn’t burn.

Roasted Garlic

Roasted garlic is delicious. Roasted garlic is versatile. Roasted garlic is kind of inconvenient. It takes quite a long time to cook, but the payoff is totally worth it. The uses are endless…

If you have an hour and an itty bit of freezer space, DO THIS.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut the top off of several heads of garlic, and drizzle with olive oil.
I used an 11″x17″ pyrex baking pan, and covered it tightly with foil. If you’re only doing one or two heads, you can just wrap the individual heads tightly in foil.

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