Saturday, October 30, 2010

Game day mac and cheese (with some secret ingredients)

The Huskies lost BADLY against Stanford this afternoon.

Even though I donned my red Stanford sweatshirt at the beginning of the game and started to cheer for my alma mater, I felt so sorry for the Huskies by the time the score hit 28-0 (which I think was in only the second quarter) that I dumped the sweatshirt and started to cook Aleks and Kat’s favorite dinner – mac and cheese.  They had, after all, come home for the weekend and I decided they needed some comfort food, now more than ever.

Here are the basic ingredients, gathered only after the casserole was in the oven, so I faked some of these!


I made this just like I make any other mac and cheese; I just snuck in a few extra ingredients.  The “secret” ingredient that made all the difference is the spinach and artichoke Parmesan dip from Costco.  I stirred this right into the cream sauce and it immediately added an herby, cheesy creaminess that was delish!

So I probably don’t need to post a recipe because you make mac and cheese all the time, right?  Here are the basics:

  • Boil the noodles till just barely al dente, rinse and set aside.
  • Make a cream sauce: heat butter and add flour for the roux, then slowly add milk.  Stir to thicken. 
  • Add all kinds of fun ingredients to the cream sauce while cooking: sour cream, the spinach artichoke Parmesan dip, grated cheddar and jack cheese, grated Parmesan cheese.  Etc.!
  • When sauce is thick and has all kinds of fun and tasty stuff in it (yes, this is how I cook), stir it into the drained pasta and sir it all together.
  • Layer raw broccoli florets in a greased 9 x 13” ovenproof dish. 
  • Pour pasta and sauce mixture on top of florets.
  • Brown a tablespoon or so of butter in a frying pan.  Add bread crumbs and stir to mix, then top the casserole with the breadcrumbs.
  • Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.

IMG_7724 Enjoy while you lament (or gloat) over the football game.


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Sunday, October 24, 2010

The soothing sounds of a Seattle rainfall

I love the sound of rainfall in the Pacific Northwest!

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Monday, October 18, 2010

“Investment Kitty”

Remember when, on the day we left for Germany a few years ago, Boo had some massive injury to his belly?

And remember more recently when a “silly nothing” on his paw turned out to be cancer?

And then more cancer?

That’s when we started calling him “Investment Kitty.” 

Today it’s “Sir Investment Kitty.”

Good thing we love this guy to pieces!

When the vet told us today that the wounds on his back were abscessed bite marks from some animal fight he’d be in, instead of metastasized cancer as we feared, we were thrilled – and more than happy to do what it takes to fix him all up.

This is what it took:

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What?  You want to see the bill?  It’s equally as horrifying!

Bailey thinks Boo is just weird:


But Boo is just pissed – and hopefully drugged enough that he won’t remember this misery.  Poor, poor Boo!

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

My first blog give-away: a Gottman Love Map iPhone app!

This is not an advertisement, I promise.  It’s just me talking a bit about my job at The Gottman Institute and about the Gottmans’ theory of what it takes to keep a relationship strong – or to begin to repair it.

Oh, and there’s also a giveaway (and some links).  Thus the “markety” feel.  Forgive me.

So this is the Sound Relationship House: 

Sound relationship House w copyright

If you go to our Couples Workshop in Seattle (which, I promise, is relationship/life-altering!), you’ll hear all about it, because it is the theory that the Gottmans devised based on their 35+ years of academic research. The first three levels of the Sound Relationship House focus on a couple’s friendship, which is the foundation of a strong relationship.

The first level, building love maps simply means maintaining an awareness of each other’s world.  “Simply” is actually a misnomer. Once lives get busy with kids, careers, mortgages, etc., how often do couples renew their knowledge of each other’s inner world?  If you think your partner’s favorite rock band is still the BeeGees, you might want to renew your love maps – which is what my little contest is all about. 

But we’ll get to that later.

Expressing fondness and admiration for your partner is a second important level of a sound relationship.  You know when you think I really appreciate that my husband can fix the car’s carburetor (or make a delicious meal) or I really appreciate that my wife takes care of the bills (or fixes the carburetor)?  This is all about actually expressing that fondness and admiration – like verbally.

“Turning towards” is so important and so simple, but is often not done… or not responded to.  Turning towards are bids for emotional connection.  If your partner says “Look at that beautiful flower coming up in the garden,” you have a choice of responses, from “Wow – it is beautiful, let’s start our own nursery!” (enthusiastic – and maybe a bit unrealistic -- turning towards) to “Nice!” to “Uh-huh” (still both considered turning towards) to ignoring your partner (turning away) to shushing or rejecting your partner -- “Can’t you see I’m busy?!” – which is vehement “turning away.”  Turning toward and responding to your partner’s bids for connection can take a micro-second, but collectively they are very significant and even predict whether a couple will divorce or stay together.

If a couple is strong in the first three levels of the Sound Relationship House – if they know each other’s worlds, if they share fondness and admiration, and if they turn towards each other instead of away, they are in the Positive Perspective, meaning they are more likely to give each other the benefit of the doubt and their emotional bank account is solid enough that their relationship can handle a few slip-ups here and there. 

The next level of the Sound Relationship House deals with managing conflict – which every relationship has.  I could go into a great deal of detail here (and the Gottmans do – in fact they spend an entire day on it in the workshops), but here is the essence:

  • Practice self-soothing to keep calm when you feel physically and/or emotionally flooded. 
  • Use softened startup. (A harsh beginning usually means a harsh conversation.)
  • Discuss problems - move from gridlock to dialogue on perpetual problems (and about 69% of couples’ problems are perpetual/unsolvable).
  • Repair and de-escalate.  (In any conflict there are two subjective realities and both are right. Take responsibility for your role in the conflict. Dialogue.)
  • Accept influence and be open to compromise.

(You can learn more about how to manage conflict in John’s book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.)

The next level of the Sound Relationship House is Making Life Dreams Come True. Sounds kinda schmaltzy, doesn’t it?  That’s what I thought at first too.  Like, duh – we’re married, that’s just expected!  Expected and hoped for – yes.  But often ignored.  Using the skills of accepting influence and compromise, partners can nurture each other’s dreams while maintaining their own.  This actually goes right back to building love maps, the first level of the house, because you need to know your partner’s inner world to really nurture it.

Creating Shared Meaning, the tippy-top level of the Sound Relationship House (but don’t think all pinnacley… John and Julie sometimes say it should actually be a Sound Relationship BAGEL because it’s all pretty circular and inter-related) means sharing goals, narratives, symbols, cultural rituals and legacies.  In other words, building a shared life together and being a family full of meaningful interactions.

If you’ve gotten this far, here’s a little video for you, all about the Gottmans and their work.  I love this video!

OK, so that give-away?  Well, we’re slowly (ever so slowly) going digital and we’ve just created our first iPhone application!  It’s the digital version of the Love Map cards from the Couples Workshop. It focuses on that first level of the Sound Relationship House – friendship and knowing your partner’s world. 

Here’s the plan: you install this app, go out for a romantic dinner, pull out your iPhone over hors deurves, and “play”!  Granted, this isn’t a huge give-away, since you can buy the app yourself for $1.99 here

iTunes Gottman LoveMap page

But I’ve never done a give-away on my blog before, so for me it’s big!  :-)

Just leave a comment with feedback about anything you’ve read in this post (not just “I want to win,” but actual feedback) and I’ll randomly choose a winner from both blog and Facebook comments.  No, my blog isn’t big enough to do that random number generator stuff.  You’ll just have to trust me to be fair.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

More old photo finds

With everyone gone this weekend (Tom is hiking the Cascades in the rain with friends, and the kids are all living those independent lives that we’ve gone and fostered), I’ve had some glorious solitary time.  I may be a people-oriented extrovert, but I sure love having large spans of time completely to myself.

One of the things I’ve done with my weekend so far was try to make a dent in my effort to digitize old photos.  The problem with old photos is that they bring back old memories and when that happens you can just kiss productivity and speed good-bye because you end up not only finding the photos, but the old journals and scrapbooks that went with them!

To my daughters, who are both flirts -- you, um, come by it honestly:

Steve Carol IMG_0005   IMG_0006 IMG_0010  IMG_0054 

 Harold me Jeff Spano me Kevin me Dan Carol 1978Tom Kieny Keven me   

None of these guys (except another Tom, to my right in the above photo) was a serious boyfriend.  I was just a very flirtatious and huggy young lady!  My daughters’ Facebook pages are filled with them being the same way!

I also found some great photos of family…

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(I love that picture of my parents.  Look!  Mom is flirting with Dad!)

…and friends…

IMG_0044  IMG_0048 Jill Carol c 1979 RA 1978

…and a few old boyfriends, both of them German!  (I came pretty dang close to settling back in Germany at one point!)


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…and Thomas (who I don’t hear much from anymore, but whose ex-wife is my dear friend).ThomasCarol80 ThomasCaroltriplepicjusttop1980small

Now I have to get back to my actual 53-year-old life, which means getting some work done, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and paying bills.  Immersing myself back in the late 70’s and early 80’s was much more fun!

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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Photo discovery!

I just found these photos of Tom and me (and a few of stud-muffin Tom, alone!) waaay  at the bottom of a bin in the garage.  They were all taken between 1976 and 1980.  Wow…

(Note to our adult children: you might want to sit down…)

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Tom hair dryer


(I snuck that one of Tom in the dorm laundromat before I’d ever really talked to him.  How bold is THAT?!  I had a huge crush on him, but he seemed too shy to even approach.)  

Tom and Carol 27

What?!  How did that one sneak in there?!  That one was taken on our 27th wedding anniversary last May, about (GULP!) 34 years after we met.

Does life really go by this quickly? I seriously feel like these photos were just taken and that this journey we’re on together through life is just hitting a good clip…

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