Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Review + Recipe

Hope you all had a great weekend!  Mine was rather domestic and didn't involve a lot of excitement, per se, but it sure was relaxing.  I had a rare day to myself on Saturday, so I cranked up the country tunes and spent a few hours scouring my kitchen.  By the time I was done, I wanted to spend the entire evening admiring the sparkling white counters and floors.  Alas, duty called and I had to head over to the Freitags to babysit my favorite little guys.  But my whirlwind of productivity continued, and after I got home from babysitting, I stayed up till 2:30 am sending poems to various literary journals and presses.  Watch your back, February goals, I'm coming for you!

Matt and I both had a free (and kidless) Sunday, so we woke up at a decent hour and walked to our neighborhood farmers' market.  We bought all kinds of brightly colored veggies, and then stopped at the Wine Mine (our local wine shop, just a couple blocks from the apartment) on the way home.  Local folks: the Wine Mine has an incredible tasting deal on Saturdays from 2-5--just $1 for 5 tastings!  Crazy, right?

Later that afternoon I went for a run, ran some errands, and then made the most delicious dinner.  I'd seen this on Pinterest:

and I made a variation of it that ended up being one of the yummiest things I've eaten in a very long time.  Goodness gracious.  Here's how my version turned out:

And here's what I did:

Roasted Veggie Enchilada Pie a la Claire
dice one large onion and two red peppers into matchsticks
slice 1-2 potatoes suuuuuper thin
put onions, peppers, potatoes, & some garlic cloves into a baking dish w/olive oil and S&P
roast for 40 minutes at 400 degrees

meanwhile, place 6 corn tortillas at the bottom of another baking dish (to cover bottom)
when veggies are done roasting, transfer half to the other dish on top of tortillas
add a layer of fresh baby spinach
add a layer of sharp cheddar cheese
pour 1/2 a large can of red enchilada sauce on top
add another layer of 6 tortillas on top of veggies, spinach, & cheese
add the second 1/2 of roasted veggies
add another layer of baby spinach
pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top of spinach
. . . and then a second layer of cheese
top with fresh cilantro

after your casserole dish has been thus assembled, bake again at 400 for 20 minutes

Et voila, one of the best things you've ever tasted.  And easy.  Next time I'm gonna add black beans and corn.  You could really put anything in there, but let me just advise you that the super thinly sliced potatoes made it dream-worthy.

Happy Monday!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Occupy San Quentin

This past Monday, President's Day, was also National Occupy 4 Prisoners Day.  Matt, his 8 year old son, and I trekked over to San Quentin (navigating around all the closed exits and police barricades) to take part in the movement.  It was a peaceful protest outside the prison gates, the goals of which included:

*amend the 3 Strikes Law
*end the death penalty
*fair treatment for prisoners (medical care, etc.)
*stop trying juveniles as adults
*no more shackling of pregnant women

among many others.  Our nation is spending billions of dollars incarcerating 2.4 million people, the majority of whom are nonviolent offenders.  Prisoners work (often grueling) jobs for 12 cents an hour, profiting companies who contract with prisons for cheap labor.  It's incredible to think of the education and rehabilitation (community centers, tutoring, arts programs, therapy, scholarships, school resources) that could happen if we weren't spending so much on prisons.

Working on the latest Voice of Witness book really made me think about how, with the right combination of bad luck/family neglect/natural disaster/etc., any of us could end up in prison.

Here are some pictures from the event:

wall of guards inside the East Gate
(the gate I go through every Monday night to teach class)

fence where folks were encouraged to leave notes for prisoners
(photographs of the fence will be shared with inmates)

It's always really powerful being surrounded by people who are so committed to justice.  There were around 700 people at San Quentin, demonstrating solidarity and passion for positive change.  It was a really diverse crowd: people like Matt and me, who have worked in prisons and juvenile halls; people who had served time in juvenile hall, jail, and prison; activists like Barbara Becnel (Stan Tookie Williams' best friend and co-author); etc.  I'm glad we brought Jasper, too--he was focused on his Nintendo DS most of the time, but in the end, we had some great conversations with him about what the movement is about.  That kid is sharp as a tack, I tell you.

Here's the San Francisco Chronicle article about the event, here's an interesting and well-written article on the Prison Industrial Complex if you're interested, and here's Matt's blog post about our Monday at San Quentin.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras Nostalgia

Mardi Gras is always so bittersweet for me, cause as much as I love the holiday, it makes me miss New Orleans something fierce.  It's been over a year since I last visited . . . obviously, I need to do something about that!

That's my best friend, Tiffany, and me at our very first Mardi Gras.  It was our first year of college and I was only 18 years old!  Oh how I wish I were back in New Orleans, with Tiffany, celebrating Mardi Gras today.  Instead, I'll be trudging through a long day at work, dreaming of king cake, beads, and zydeco music.  Happy Mardi Gras!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What would you do with one week off?

I'm facing a four-day weekend (!!!), and it has me daydreaming of a longer staycation during which I have no responsibilities to speak of.  Yes, teachers get plentiful breaks, but when you live across the country from your family, pretty much every break is spoken for.  Also, I don't have summers off since I don't work for the school district (I work for a nonprofit that contracts me to be at the school).  I work from home developing curriculum and babysit several afternoons a week during the summers.

In any case, I keep fantasizing about having an entire week off with nowhere to go.  Here's what I would do:

Source: via Erin on Pinterest

READ.  And obsess over having a tent in which to read.

ORGANIZE MY CLOSET.  I started last month by getting rid of bags & bags of things, but still, my closet needs serious help.  I can't find the running pants I bought last week, for instance.  It's a dire situation in there.

COOK!  And freeze soups like this for future lunches.  

PLAY SCRAMBLE WITH FRIENDS TILL I KEELED OVER.  I'm hooked.  My name is "clairekiefer."  Find me if you wanna play!

So . . . what would you do with a week off?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day: Breaking Tradition

For the past six consecutive years, I've celebrated Valentine's Day by hosting an all girls' sleepover (you can see pictures here).  Let me tell you: that's one of the best ways to spend the annual day of love!

But this year, for the first time, I'm taking a break from the girly festivities and focusing on this guy:

We aren't doing anything big (just a casual dinner out), but I'm welcoming the change, although I'll miss conversations & Valentini cocktails with the girls.

I'm lucky to have two little mini valentines as well:

the Freitag boys

It's pretty great being surrounded by cute boys all the time.  These three teach me so much about love, and make me realize how lucky I am to be girlfriend to Matt and babysitter to Milo and Jude.  ♥

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I've only got one thing on the brain

When I get an idea in my head, it's basically all I can think about.  So ever since I decided I wanted a little beagle girl last week, it's all I can think about.  You should see my laptop's search history . . .

or maybe I want two . . .

(all pics from google image)

You'd think I would know better, given the beagle in my life.  What can I say, I'm a sucker for the bad ones.  Ryan has advised me not to get a puppy, and I know she's probably right . . . but my goodness, look how cute they are!  The one thing I know for sure is that I won't get one from a breeder.  There are too many dogs who need to be rescued.  And so, I've been trolling NorCal Beagle Rescue, the Beagle Freedom Project, Petfinder, etc . . . any other ideas?  

We got Ignatius from the Atlanta Humane Society when he was a mere 10 weeks old.  He was as cute as the puppies in these pictures . . . too bad he behaved like a raging monster as soon as we walked out the Humane Society door (we later found out that he had been adopted and returned twice).  I've looked at the Humane Societies around here, and none of them have straight-up beagles . . . plus, I need a girl, so I can name her Myrna Minkoff, after Ignatius Reilly's girlfriend in A Confederacy of Dunces!

Send me good beagle thoughts, please! :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt: Rough Rider

First, a very important disclaimer: I am all about kids expressing themselves however they choose (I mean unless they choose a swastika t-shirt or fishnets & a leather bra).  If I have a son one day and he wants to wear dresses, he can have at it.  Same goes for a girl who wants to wear "boy clothes." I think it's important to nurture children's confidence by allowing them to make choices regarding their appearance.

Disclaimer #2: I think our harsh gender lines can be dangerous.  Dressing infant girls in pink princess onesies and newborn boys in monster truck jammies can begin the process of setting up unrealistic (and even unhealthy) gender expectations.

But serious talk aside, check out Shiloh Jolie-Pitt:

(all images from google image)

Basically, I'm just fascinated.  These are clearly very stylized outfits, here . . . an oversized tie, seersucker blazer, leather jacket "casually" layered over gray hoodie.  Clearly some adults were involved in creating these (pretty admirable, style-wise) outfits.  

I hope the reason behind this is that Shiloh has a very strong sense of self and style, and that she's requesting to wear her brothers' clothes.  Or maybe Brad & Angelina are just trying to fashion Shiloh into the polar opposite of my girl, Suri:

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Because the blog community is pretty amazing

I thought I'd put this one out there:

This is my friend Peaches and her adorable family.

Peaches and I went to high school together.  She is every bit as sweet as she looks!  And I'm a little bit obsessed with her kids . . . I mean just look at them:



They're wonderkids, cause not only are they perfect looking, but they are as charming and well-mannered as can be.  It's pretty incredible.

And speaking of incredible . . . Peaches and her husband, Kad, have recently made a huge decision.  After scrupulous research, they've decided to adopt siblings from Honduras.  Siblings!  Honduras has way too many orphans, and Peaches wants to adopt siblings so that they can stay together/have each other.  And even though those kids will likely endure trauma in their early lives, I can assure you that once they get to this family, they will be the most loved and cared-for babes around.

The problem is that this process is going to cost over $35,000 (since they are adopting siblings).  Peaches is knee-deep in mountains of paperwork, applications, home study forms, etc . . . some of which she can't even file until they've raised a few thousand dollars.  And so, she's on a mission!  She has spearheaded a couple of fundraisers already:

(Peaches will mail you a sippy cup, you fill it up with spare change, and mail it back to her)

(Calling all crafty folk--got any handmade wares you'd be willing to donate to an auction in support of their adoption?)

If you're into the quick-&-easy kinda help, you can donate through Paypal.  Peaches has set up an account that will go straight to their adoption funds.  I know times are tough, financially, but if you have $5 or $10 to spare, it would mean the world to my sweet friend.  Her family can't do this on their own . . . and so they rely on the kindness of friends and strangers.  If you are willing/able to donate, participate in either of her fundraisers, or just want to check out their story, check out her blog here!

It makes me sad that it costs so much to adopt children who so desperately need homes.  But I have faith that somehow, Peaches and her family will be able to raise the money . . . because there are two Honduran kids who need to meet their parents, brother, and sister!  If you donate, please be sure to let me know so I can thank you. :)

Click here to help!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend Review

I'm trying to look at Mondays differently, just as an experiment . . . "it's a new week!" or "yay for a clean slate!" . . . not sure how well it's working, but I'll keep repeating these little slogans till I get in the Monday groove. ;)

I had to work late Friday, so I stayed in the city & met my crew in the Mission before we trekked down to Truong's art show at SOMArts.  It was spectacular--both Truong's work and that of his fellow artist, Peter Max Lawrence:

At War: showing at SOMArts through 2/29
I highly recommend you check it out!

Truong Tran

Peter Max Lawrence

After the show, we had a delicious Thai feast at Ozone before heading back across the Bay Bridge.  I was super excited to crawl into bed with my book . . . I'm reading The Help and I can't put it down!  I need some book suggestions, cause at this point, I don't think anything is going to live up to The Help.  It's so good!

I got to be a little bit lazy on Saturday, which was nice.  The weather was beautiful here, so when Matt went to The Bone Room in Berkeley, I opted to stay home and go for a short run instead.  He did bring me back this extremely strange/slightly creepy souvenir: 

headless, limbless pregnant "woman" with removable belly keychain

As for Superbowl Sunday, it was really nice albeit a bit anticlimactic.  Heather and Serkan were gonna come over for homemade pizzas, beer, & football, but they (+ Rowan!) were sick, and Matt was in bed half the day recovering from a pretty fierce cold, which left me on the couch alone with these things:

Blue Moon & sesame sticks

Eventually I got restless and woke Matt up--we ordered pizza and he kindly watched the 4th quarter with me, despite his utter disinterest in football.  Truth be told, I watched more for the cultural experience than for any real concern over the outcome.  That last NY touchdown was pretty great, although I was eager to switch to Super Mario Bros. 3 on the wii as soon as the final score was called.  :)

Hope your weekends were all lovely & full of either fun or rest.  And here's to hating Monday a little bit less!  

Friday, February 3, 2012

Happy things to end the week with ♥

I've had a gnarly stomach bug this week, but I'm finally feeling better & I'm so glad I have these things to be happy about this Friday:

1. Faiza, Marianne, and Micaela are coming to San Francisco in early May for a girls' trip/stalking mission! Marianne has as obsessive a personality as I do, and she's got quite the crush on new Angels' pitcher CJ Wilson.  Because I, of all people, understand the irresistible urge to stalk hot celebs, I perked up when she suggested that we trek down to LA to see an Angels game (and also find out where he is staying/stake out at his favorite sushi bar/etc.).  

Fortunately for Marianne, CJ has already tweeted her twice (!!!), so we're not exactly starting from scratch.  In any case, I can't wait to see my girls!  Any LA peeps willing to bail us out if we get arrested for trespassing?

*p.s. Might I point out that Charlie Hunnam, aka Jax Teller, resides in LA?

2. My dear friend Truong's new art show is opening tonight after months of grueling preparation:

Truong is a brave ass poet-turned-artist whose work will have you gawking & thinking for days.  The opening reception is tonight at SOMArts from 6-9, so if you're in the Bay Area, swing by!

3.  I'm finally reading The Help (takes me longer than most with these well-hyped books) and I don't want to do anything but stay in bed and read all day.  It's SO GOOD.  Such a great feeling to be so immersed in a book.  Now I'm afraid anything I read next won't live up to it!

4. Susan G. Komen wised up and reversed their horrible decision.  Looks like there is still work to be done, but it's progress.  Let this be evidence that loud public outcry, petition-signing, etc. can be incredibly effective!

Happy Superbowl Weekend!  Wish I cared about either of the teams playing. :)

(Play along with Micaela's Happy Things to End the Week With series here)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February Goals

I'm loving this whole monthly goal thing.  I'm finding that sticking to my goals is so much more doable when I've got a four-week time frame.  I set just two goals for January (with a bonus):

1. No cheese for the entire month
2. Clean and organize my closet
(bonus): Clean and organize my car

I was perfectly well-behaved with goal #1.  In the interest of full disclosure, I had a minor (accidental!) slip-up one night when Matt and I were out to dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant in North Beach, Cafe Zoetrope.  I dutifully ordered a vegan entree, but then Matt ordered a cannoli for dessert, and I took a little bite without thinking (it looked like whipped cream!).  He reminded me that it indeed contained ricotta cheese, but it was too late to spit it out.  Altogether a pretty minor indiscretion, though, I think.

As for the closet, I'd say it's about 75% complete.  I removed garbage bags full of trash and old clothes and shoes to donate, but there's still a little work to be done.  The good news is that I can walk in it now!

The car is another story.  That goal will have to transfer to February. ;)

Here are my February goals:

Are any of you working on monthly goals?  If so, please share them!

p.s. Another reason Mitt Romney is an enormous asshole. As if transporting his family dog on the roof of his car wasn't enough.