Sunday, May 25, 2014

Life Lately

Admiring the sunset on Galiano Island

Life lately has been full of severe ups and downs, with the ups being minor, every day fun things, and the downs being life-impacting. I feel like the universe has decided that after 10 months of loving life on the West Coast that I needed to get knocked down a peg or two. Trying to keep my head up has been really hard the last two weeks but thankfully not impossible due to my awesome, positive, and inspiring friends, family, and co-workers.

To keep my readers (whom I always assume are mostly friends and family on the East Coast) informed on what has happened, I'll try to go chronologically. On May 6th I celebrated my 28th birthday. Yaaaaay! It was a lovely birthday filled with loving and sincere happy wishes, Mexican food, and boardgames. I couldn't have been happier. Jon, despite his vow to not spoil me, spoiled me with adorable and thoughtful gifts and easily the best part of my day was hiking and lunching by a stream at a nearby park.

Thumbs up for relaxing and beautiful birthdays!

The day after my birthday started wonderfully. I had bought myself a year pass to the Butchart Gardens and I got to go with my friend Skjelse who also bought a year pass. I had been twice before but never during the springtime to see all of the flowers in bloom. That first full week in May had all of the tulips in the prime of their glory and I had so much fun exploring the park with someone who had never been. 

After I got home from the gardens and I got ready for work, I took note that Jon wasn't around. I called him as I was leaving to find out he was on campus, doing meetings to set up his committee for his comprehensive exams. I was (stupidly) on my phone while driving, and just outside my parking lot driveway the police had set up a speed trap. I was pulled over. Long story short, I ended up having to get my car towed back up my driveway because Jon and I were 9 months behind on switching over our registration and insurance and I needed to switch over my license ASAP. This has surely been the biggest hitch since we got out here. We figured we would have to switch over eventually, but thought we could last a year (and go through our insurance from the states), but we were never informed we were supposed to switch everything over within 30 days. Our car is still parked, unable to be driven but perfectly drivable, in our parking lot. I hope to switch over everything next week.

Tulips and fountains at Butchart Gardens

That following weekend I had planned a camping trip on one of the Gulf Islands for my birthday and, despite our car troubles, everything worked out great and I'm quite sure everyone had a blast! This trip was also a little bittersweet, for my friend's partner was preparing to move to Edmonton for work after only a few short months of living here. It was tough because I felt like I was just getting to know him and was having a lot of fun with him by the time we had to say goodbye. I hope he doesn't have to be out in the great north for too long!

Most of the birthday adventure crew (minus one) on top of Mount Galiano!

Amongst all of these happenings, I've been feeling pretty homesick and having feelings of FOMO. Jon's little sister got married last weekend, my dearest friend Tara is pregnant, my sister and my brother-in-law are moving into their own place again after months of being home, my two brothers have started new (and not so new!), exciting relationships, dear friends have married, and I have learned about some secret things all within the last three weeks! I feel like this is the universe's way of saying that I should be going home soon, but our trip home won't be for another 70 days or so.

Dock-side silliness with Skjelse!

The last bit of craziness that has happened is that my phone was stolen from work on Friday. It's a bit of a long story (and I've written a crazy amount on this blog so I'll spare the details), but I have the address of where it was taken to Friday night and suspicions (or hopes) it may have been one of the kids. We had some issues earlier this year about one of the kids taking another kid's toy, and I feel like at this age (5 - 6) they understand, but not entirely, the concept of stealing. I haven't reported it to the police in case it was one of my kids, and I hope that it has been or will be returned to the center that I work at, but I can't hold my breath. 

Meeting up friends at Cobble Hill Mountain

And there you have it: my manic-depressive last three weeks. I hope June brings a more mellow and less extreme changes in my life, but it also means the end of my employment by the 26th due to the end of the school year (things just keep coming, don't they?!). I'll have a new batch of worries by that point, but hopefully a car and phone to improve my standard of living. 

Keeping my head up is easy with West Coast nature!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions

Deliciousness in a bowl

Holy moly I love this meal. The first time I made it I had just moved to Boston and while I was making fairly good meals, nothing was really hitting the spot until this one. I nearly went cross-eyed it tasted *so* good! Hearty, rustic, and "meat-y" (as Jon described it), this is probably a good recipe for crisp winter nights, but really wonderful any time of year. 

I will warn anyone who wishes to make this meal: It will take a while. Like, an hour to an hour and a half long. And not like, throw it in the oven for most of that time long, more like watch it and stir often so it doesn't burn type of long. But it is so, so worth it.

And what better way to make this fabulous time-consuming dish than with my brand new Le Creuset braiser! (Tons and tons of thanks to my Aunt Beth for sending this rather belated wedding gift!)

Flame perfection.

Mmmm raw ingredients.

All ready to go!

Gross-looking but delicious caramelized onions


4 yellow onions
1 tbsp + 3 tbsp olive oil, divided 
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1) Chop two of the onions and add to a large skillet or dutch oven (such as a Le Creuset!) with 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Cook for a bit and add garlic, cooking for about 8 minutes on low heat. 

2) Turn up heat to medium-high and add sliced mushrooms. Cook for about 10 minutes.

3) Add the rosemary sprig, rice, vegetable broth, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cover tightly. Stir it about once or twice while the rice soaks up the broth.

4) While the risotto is cooking, start making the caramelized onions. Cut the remaining two onions in half then cut them into half moons. Add the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil to a large-ish pan on medium-low heat and add the onions. Stir often, making sure not to burn, until the onions turn golden brown. The original recipe says this takes about a half hour, I feel like I've spent anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour making these bastards. Maybe it is actually a half hour, but it feels SO LONG.

5) Once the rice has soaked up all of the broth remove the sprig stems. Then, go to town on this delicious risotto topped with caramelized onions. 

Recipe Via Oh She Glows