Sunday, September 23, 2012

United Way: Day of Caring

Every year the company I work for participates in the United Way Day of Caring. On this single day, more than 12,000 volunteers spread out across King County to complete more than 440 projects for various organizations needing some extra hands. This year we were paired up with The Healing Center, which is a grief-support community for adults, children, and families, offering a unique, long-term, multi-faceted approach to grief support.  Instead of going work, instead I meet up with my co-workers at The Healing Center, put on my gloves and went to work.

Ready to get started.
We painted thier garage in preperation for turning it into a "throw paint at the walls" room for teens.
We planted new flowers in the planters by the front entry.
We washed all the toys in the play rooms.
There were a ton of toys to wash, but we washed every single last one!
We all had a lot of fun helping out The Healing Center with some of thier projects. It is amazing to hear all the things The Healing Center is able to do with limited budgets and limited hours in the day. It was a great experience and I can't to volunteer again next year!

Cutting for Stone - Book Review

I recently finished Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese for my office book club. I am still not sure how I feel about this story. It took me a long time to connect with the story, but when I did, I was hooked.

The story begins at a mission hospital in Ethiopia and at times I had no idea if what I just read about a person, a place or a thing! The language and names were so different from anything I had previous exposure to, that I found it to be a bit confusing at times. The story didn't start to get interesting until a nun died giving birth to twin boys (what, how did a nun get pregnant?). The boys are then raised by the members of the mission hospital, coming to age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of a revolution. This is a story of love and betrayal and the ties of family. I found the detailed explanation of medical procedures and life in a hospital to be incredibly interesting.

I think my overall opinion of the book is that I enjoyed it but it won't be a book I want to read again.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Birds

When I saw the office was raffling tickets to see the Mariners play the Baltimore Orioles, I knew I just had to win them! I entered my name, crossed my fingers and said a prayer. I have been a Orioles fan since the day I was born and they are only team I will cheer for over the Mariners. It was my lucky day and I won the tickets. Even better, my dad was coming down to see the game with his friends Robin and Del! Joel, Dad, Julie, Robin, Del and I met up at the game to cheer on the birds to what we hoped would be a victory!


I believe it was our cheering that carried the Birds to thier 1-3 win over the Mariners. We were one happy crowd, well except for Del and Robin, but I think they still had a good time listening to the rest of us cheer on our Birds!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Julie's 25th Birthday Party

After the Husky game, we packed up and headed up to Bellingham for a night out on the town Bham-style to celebrate Julie's 25th birthday. We invited Mark Bailey, Mark Thayer and Amy Thayer along for the fun. We started the night by getting dinner at Boundary Bay Brewery on Railroad Ave in Bellingham. Joel ordered the Chicken Enchiladas, Bailey ordered the Beer-BQ Sandwich and I ordered the Salmon Pesto Sandwich, and we shared a plate of Tapenade to start off. The food and drinks here are pretty good and I have always enjoyed my meal.

After a few beers and a full tummy, we meet up with the Thayers and walked over to the Beaver. We were in for an education. The Beaver had moved and the old bar is now called State Street Bar and is no where near as great as the old Beav. It was a ghost town and the atmosphere just wasn't the same. But we had four pitchers anyway. We decided it was time to go when the bar tender came up to us holding up the dollar bill that Bailey had put in the men's room trough and said, "Not cool. Not cool at all." What! Since when did the Beav not have a dollar bill in the trough? This place had changed and we didn't like it.

So we went over to the new Beav which wasn't too bad. It has a very similar layout and the same staff, so we settled in and started drinking more. It was great to be back in Bellingham drinking with our friends and getting caught up. Julie had a couple friends stop by and the drinks just kept coming. At some point in the night we ended up outside and I wandered in the alley behind the Beav. It wasn't long before I found myself wandering around the basement of the Beav. I brought out a keg I found down there and some how the boys dragged it out in to the street. Julie dragged the keg back on the sidewalk, where Thayer and Bailey started rolling her around on it. Joel was not happy to hear I was back to my old tricks of doing stupid stuff. He dragged me out of the basement and made Amy take me back in to the bar to clean out the cuts and scrapes I had somehow managed to cause to my arm.

We decided we should get something to eat, so we headed over to get some pierogies. A short taxi ride later and we were back in our hotel room, chowing down on pierogies and talking. The phone in our room started to ring, so I answered it. It was the front desk calling to tell us if we didn't quiet down and stop climbing in and out of the windows, they were going to call the cops on us. I was shocked. Who was crawling in and out of the windows? I looked around the room, counted the bodies, but we were all still there, sitting on chairs or the floor eating our food. I told the front desk we weren't crawling in and out of windows and that we would quiet down. We figured it was just some old cranky person who could hear us through the paper thin walls and was angry. So we kept our voices down and went to bed shortly after this.

The next thing I know, it is 10:00am and the phone is ringing again. Joel answered this time and it was the front desk again. They said they were kicking us out because we were climbing in and out of the windows last night. Joel said that we never did that, and the font desk argued with Joel about it for about five minutes. Joel was frustrated and said, fine we will leave. Joel hung up the phone and told us to get up, they were kicking us out. Who kicks people out of their room, two hours before check out? We were so confused and puzzled, but we packed up our stuff and left. We went over to Denny's to get some food in our tummies before we drove up to Lynden to hang out with my parents and sisters for Julie's birthday. Overall it was a great night with lots of drinks, lots of laughs and memories made. Julie had a great time and considered her birthday off to a good start!

Happy 25th Birthday to Julie!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Huskies Football

A couple weeks ago, Joel and I bought tickets to see the Huskies play the Portland State Vikings on Groupon. The tickets were only thirty bucks each, so we weren't expecting great seats, but we were expecting lots of fun! Our friends Anna and Robert have season tickets, so we were planning to meet up with them for the game. Anna and Robert tailgate with a group of Tyee Club members, so they hang out in the RV section. At the Husky stadium, it is right next to the stadium near the water, which is great! At Qwest Field, the Tyee Club tailgating section is in the North Lot. We have lots of fun tailgating with Anna and Robert and their friends. There is always really good food, lots of beer and even more laughs.
I'm ready for some Husky Football!
Anna and I showing off our W tattoos
I'm ready to watch the game!
Not bad seats for Groupon tickets!
When it came time for the game, we found our seats to be pretty good. We were in Section 343, which is just to the west of the Hawks Nest. The rows are pretty step, so you have a view of the field. We were having a great time cheering on the Huskies as they scored touchdown after touchdown. My sister Jaisha was also at the game with her friend Becky, so we meet up with them in the beer garden during the halftime. My cousin Leann and her boyfriend Sean were also at the game and they down to meet up with us too. After a few beers, we finished watching the game with Anna and Robert at their seats in the Hawks Nest.
Sean, Leann, Me and Joel - Go Huskies!
Becky and Jaisha - Having fun in the beer garden.
Jaisha, Me and Joel - flashing our dubs (and two weird guys)
Having a great time watching the Huskies win!
It was a great game! The Huskies won 52 to 13! It was crazy! Joel and I are thinking maybe we should get season tickets for the Huskies football season next year. It would be tons of fun and we would see Anna and Robert lots! So who knows, maybe next year there will be lots more posts like this one!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Make your own "Cream-of-Anything" Soup

I came across this recipe for making Cream-of-Anything soup from scratch on the Eating Well... Living Thin blog and I love having this option. It is easy, quick, and so much healthier than the sodium-filled cans at the grocery store. I use this recipe when making my Cheese and Brocoli Quonia Casserole.

Condensed “Cream of Anything” Soup
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  1. In a small saucepan, whisk milk and cornstarch till well blended.
  2. Stir in butter, bouillon, salt, and pepper.
  3. Heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Simmer on low for one minute more to thicken.
Use in recipes to replace one can of cream of anything soup.
Stir in a drained 4 ounce can of mushroom pieces to the recipe above.
Use in recipes in place of one can of Cream of Mushroom Soup.
Stir in 1/2 cup cooked chicken pieces to the recipe above.
Use in recipes in place of one can of Cream of Chicken Soup.
Stir in 1/2 cup sautéed chopped celery to the recipe above.
Use in recipes in place of one can of Cream of Celery Soup.
Everything you need...
This is my Cream of Brocoli

Cheese and Brocoli Quonia Casserole

This is one of Joel's favorite dinners and it is so easy to make, that it is quickly becoming a regular in the Odell house. I found the recipe first on Pinterest which linked back to Eating Well... Living Thina blog on wordpress.

  • One 10 oz can Cream of Broccoli soup (or mushroom) (or make your own...)
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise (I use greek yogurt instead, to cut calories)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (cheddar, colby-jack, etc)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli
  • 1 1/2 cup COOKED quinoa
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
To Cook Quinoa:
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear.  In a small saucepan combine the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until fluffy and the white ring/tail is visible. Fluff with a fork.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a shallow (8×8 in or 5-6 cups) casserole dish - or individual ramekins - with vegetable cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, milk, shredded cheese, and pepper, until well mixed. Stir in the quinoa and broccoli.
  4. Spoon mixture into prepared casserole. Sprinkle on a couple tablespoons Parmesan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly on the edges and golden.
  5. Makes 8 generous 1/2-cup servings.
Getting my indregients ready.
I love my chopper! It makes fast work of chopping the broccoli.
Making my own cream of broccoli, almost ready!
The quinoa is ready to be mixed with the other ingredients.
All mixed together and ready to bake.
Ready to eat! (The shadow is Joel's hand. He was too eager to eat to get out of the picture.)
Per Serving: Calories 199,  Protein 10 g; Fat 9 g; NET Carbs 14 g; Fiber 2 g; Sugar 1 g; Sodium 297 mg

Utts and Odells Visit the Farmer's Market

Looking for some entertainment last Sunday, we decided to visit the Everett Farmers Market with my sister-in-law, Julia, and her two kids, Makenzie and Connor. Joel and I got there a bit early and decided to get something to eat while we waited for the Utt's to join us. We decided to get tacos from Los Chilangos. Best decision all weekend! They were so flavorful that I could have eaten way more than my share! Turns out they also have two food trucks that I believe Joel and I will be visiting again shortly!

Together with the Utt's strolled about the pier and looked at all the different vendors. I love seeing all the fresh produce. It makes me want to buy it all and go straight home to make up something delicious to eat. I get inspired by all the bright colors and variety in vegetables and fruits. It makes me want to be more adventurous when it comes to my meals. Why don't I spice up my salad with tomatoes in three different shades, or why don't I eat a peach one day and a nectarine the next? But I never do. I just buy red tomatoes and I usually get five apples at the store, enough to eat one a day at work.

We did decide to treat ourselves to a dessert each from this amazing bakery. We decided on the Lemon Tart and the Carmel Coconut bar. My mouth was watering just waiting to take the first bite. Joel and I shared so we could have a bit of both, since we had a hard enough time narrowing the many tantizing options down to two. They were so good and worth the cheat!

We also decided to buy this piece of artwork from a local artist. She actually won a prize at a local art show for this piece and was so happy that we were going to buy it. I don't have the perfect spot picked out yet, but I will find a spot to hang this soon. It is a mixed medium photograph of those paper lantern plants. Joel really liked the picture and it quickly grew on me.
Our reward for an afternoon of fun - fresh produce, honey sticks, delicious seasoning mixes, and a beautiful piece of art.
Makenzie, Julia, Connor, Joel and me at the Everett Farmers Market

Friday, September 7, 2012

Joel's Tomatoes

Joel loves to plant tomatoes in our vegetable garden and this year he was determined to have an amazing crop. He bought starts from a vendor at our local farmer market and has babied those plants from the first day they were in the ground. He carefully waters them, stakes the stalks, and makes sure they have everything they need to grow nice and big. Turn out, Joel knows what he is doing when it comes to his babies, the tomato plants.

Look at these beautiful tomatoes - so sweet and juicy!
A week later and we have a bunch more sweet, juicy tomatoes to eat!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hiking Mt. Pilchuck

Jackie and Chris called us up at about 10:00am and asked if we wanted to go on a hike with them. Even though we felt like we had just gotten to sleep after taking Julie to airport at 4:00am that morning, we were game. After breakfast and some discussion, the four of us decided to hike Mt. Pilchuck. We packed up some snacks and hit the road, reaching the trail head around 2:00pm.
At the trail head, ready to hike the mountain.

Early in the hike and everyone is having fun.
One mile in and we are ready for a snack. Time to break out the grapes and trail mix.

Joel, Jackie and Chris - ready to continue on our hike.

Along the way we made friends with this little guy who was busy eating his lunch.
We picked Mt. Pilchuck because of what my hiking book, Day Hiking North Cascades by Craig Romano, had to say about the trail: "Rising one mile above the surrounding countryside and perched on the western edge of the Cascades, Pilchuck packs some of the best panoramic viewing to be found in these parts. From its historical and restored fire lookout, scan the horizon - from Rainer to Baker, Glacier Peak to the Olympics, Seattle to the San Juans - and every jagged, rugged and snow-capped peak lining the Mountain Loop Highway." With a write up like, we couldn't say no. And the mountain did not disappoint.
The landscape was beautiful up there and the sunny day made everything seem so bright and spectacular.

Joel and I got a bit ahead of the group, so we decided to take a break and wait for Jackie and Chris to catch up.

We are nearly above the clouds!

At the summit! We made it!

At the top of the mountain there is a look out station which has lots of information about the mountain, surrounding landmarks, and the history of the area. Of course, it also has amazing views!


Can you see the mountain man?

Joel and Chris, taking in the sights.

What a helpful guy!

We made it back down - tired but happy.
This was amazing hike. It is a bit of climb and at times the ground is pretty uneven, but I think the average person would make it up to the top without too much effort. Just plan ahead, take your time, and be prepared. I think this will become a regular hike for the Odells.