A friend of mine started an Instagram "play-along" this year, and as my personal winner of the who-owns-the-most-cookbooks contest, Cathy is the perfect person to do this. It's easy enough: cook from the cookbook she chooses for each month, or choose one of your own favorites. Then just post photographs and comments in Instagram when you cook from the book.

I chose this one, which is full of healthy recipes using ingredients from Trader Joe's. You don't need to run out and buy everything from TJ's of course... just use the ingredients list as a guideline.

For dinner on this rainy winter day, I made one of my favorites: "Creamy" Red Pepper-Basil Pasta. It's quick and tasty, and a full recipe will feed us for two nights... I like that.

You heat up the sauce ingredients while the pasta cooks. I increase the quantity of green peas, 'cause I like them. And I always add a few sliced fresh mushrooms. Or sauteed chanterelles from the freezer, if I have any left. You could also add leftover meat, like some chopped chicken or pork.

When the pasta is at the al dente stage, strain it then pour the pasta into an oven-proof dish. Pour the sauce over the top and swish it to distribute it evenly, add grated or shredded cheese on top, and bake it for 20-25 minutes. Yum.

If you want to follow along on Instagram, just do a search on #nowshecooks.



It's darkest just before the dawn, and the
hours before dawn are the coldest of the day. 
Cold, and dark.

But when dawn finally comes, it brings 
the most magical, beautiful light for a brand new day.



Rediscovered old favorites, a former biker bar in the south end that has a great beer selection and even better pizza... and a diner in downtown Bainbridge that's still going strong.

Some new toys... my first tablet which I absolutely love, and a new smart phone to replace my aging Motorola. I can be stubborn about clinging to the familiar, not wanting to move on to something better. But when I let go, I'm always happy. There's a life lesson there, I think.

Mom-in-law is doing well after her hip replacement. I hope at 82 I have her optimism and high spirits. She's a true joy in my life.

Mid-week found us on the ferry to Bainbridge with fly fishing friends, for a tour of the Sage fly rod company. Loved the day of talking nothing but fly fishing.

We ended the day with a pig roast, in downtown of all places... wherever did they cook it?

Lots of rain made bookends for a couple of brilliant days. Yesterday I headed out for a wet-road drive out into the eastern reach of the county, to do maintenance on one of my geocaches. I didn't mind the weather; it's one of my favorite drives anywhere.


Back roads...

It's one of my favorite back roads, always has been. The road runs hard up against the Cascade foothills, and you can't go further east without going south to Chinook Pass or north to Snoqualmie Pass.

It's secluded and green out in the far edge of the county... and today the clouds were so low, it looked foggy, with the low mountains disappearing in the clouds. The road twists and bends, and it's easy to miss the turns that keep you heading on the main line, and not ending up on some dead end.

The tiny remnants of old coal towns, some just a name on a road sign now, remind me of the rich local history. The long, one-track railroad sidings hold cars until they're ready to head east over the mountains; today tanker cars stretched both ways past the bridge, a line of black snaking out of sight. Another held lumber cars; the worn gold blending perfectly with the winter colors.

It was raining so hard, the clouds were nearly at ground level, and water and clouds made photography difficult. The river is running strong, and no brave kayakers were out on the course.

I know all the side roads like the back of my hand, the hidden lakes, the fishing spots on the Cedar, the mountain bike trails. I've driven this road with joy behind the seat of my little red car, and if I'm upset or pensive, it's always my choice to drive while I sort things out.

When it pours rain like today, and there's country music on the radio, all is right with this little corner of the world... my world.


Nothing could be finer... Sage and a diner

On the road today with some new fly fishing friends from the local Senior Activities Center, heading for Bainbridge Island. The Center has the best fly fishing program, lots of day trips and weekend trips, plus other cool stuff. And once a week a group gets together for a morning of fly tying.

Today we're heading to Sage Manufacturing, one of the premier fly rod manufacturers in the country, maybe the world. Years ago I learned how to cast a fly rod from one of the Sage reps, using Sage gear, and never forgot what a great introduction that was to the sport.

But first, lunch. We suggested the Streamliner Diner. We used to love this place but haven't been there in years. They fit half at the counter with a perfect view of the cooks, half at a corner table with a perfect view of downtown Bainbridge. Half the group ordered breakfast, half had lunch. Great food, fun place to eat (especially at the counter).

The Sage tour was fun, and we saw every step of the process, from cutting the graphite sheets to form the rod pieces, to the final coat of epoxy to protect the silkscreened logo.

I think we all wanted the R&D engineer's job: besides designing all the rods, he spends half the year fly fishing, to make sure everything works the way he designed them.


Moments... a rainy week in winter

Rain and wind and cold most of the week, oh, my... the coats speak volumes about the weather.

A day in Edmonds with friends... look at those smiles! I was smiling too, behind the camera. Good beer and food, and there will be a new messenger bag that I'll convert to a camera bag.

Walked a county park and watched dogs and kids and an eagle.

Reading a new author. Then another. Rainy days are perfect for catching up on my reading.

On the one day of light... photographed these beautiful roses in my "studio."


My still Sunday...

This is a weekly collection of still life photography, hosted by Kim Klassen (who also gathers together photographs for Texture Tuesday and Friday Finds). It's the first time I've played along with this Instagram-only collection, so I thought for this week, I'd also include my photograph here.

I included more of the gorgeous pink roses that I've been photographing lately, plus a favorite sugar spoon, encrusted with roses. The sheet music belonged to my mother, and the Kodak pocket camera was my dad's. Since he was the one who taught me to love photography, I thought it fitting to included a bit of him here.

Still life photography isn't my strong suit, and that's one reason I'm doing this. I'll learn a lot about composition, and I'll learn a lot about my camera in the process.

You can find the entire collection of My still Sunday photographs on Instagram, under #mystillsundaycompetition.



One thing I love about the blogging world is discovering other writers who have the same interests. I discovered Cheryl through another blog I enjoy reading, and loved her writing style and her photographs. She shared a story about friendships gained through blogging, and photographs of her friend's bowl of treasured silver flatware.

She went home and sorted through her own collection, many passed down through her family, and the memories connected with them. As I wrote a comment on her lovely story and photographs, I thought about my own collection of silver. Some pieces came down through my mother's family, but most were chosen by me at antique shops and yard sales.

I love silver, and have a few pieces that I use daily. But I've never set the especially beautiful pieces out on display. Instead, it's tucked away in silvercloth-lined boxes to keep the tarnish at bay. I don't get to see it and touch it, and admire the designs, and think about how each piece is a work of art.

So today I pulled out a few of my favorite patterns and pieces and a Polish pottery platter, and tried to capture their beauty.

My favorite patterns have grape or grapevine designs... lovely patterns like Vintage, Isabella, and LaVigne. But I also love the florals, like Wildwood and Flower, Arbutus and York Rose.

The serving pieces are the most beautiful, with extravagant sprays of blooms and vines that run along the edges and spill into the bowls.

My favorite piece is in the center of the platter: a fish serving fork in the Vintage pattern, which I found in an antique shop in Utah a few years ago. It was in the original box, and was a wedding gift to the bride from her sister, and the hand-written gift card was tucked inside the box. Knowing something of its history makes it all the more beautiful.


Friday Finds | Driftwood from a long-ago beach

This morning I was rummaging around in one of the attics, looking for a box of old piano music (which I never found). But in a box of treasures saved from my childhood, I did find this.

I still remember finding this twisted bit of driftwood. We were camping at Beachside State Park in Oregon, where we always went for our summer holiday. Out on the beach for the day, my dad had all us girls looking for small pieces of driftwood for an art project. When I found this piece, polished smooth by the tides, wrapped around a striped rock, I thought it was beautiful.

How the stone got embedded into the wood will always be a mystery. But it's just as tight and immovable today as it was all those years ago, when a young girl picked it up off a beach.



The day dawned clear with cloudy streaks, and stayed that way long enough to show how glorious a sunrise can be... pink and blue stripes and an ocean of waves that stretched across the sky. Then the sunrise vanished, and the grey skies closed ranks.

It will rain today, but I won't mind. I saw the sun rise.