Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What the Cieslaks do on a random Wednesday night

So, usually on a Wednesday I ride to and from work and then we go to agility with the dogs. But, I didn't ride today and we are going to agility on a different night this week, we had more time on our hands. So, here is an overview on what I (and we) did tonight...

Went to Trader Joe's. I bought 7 bottles of 2 Buck Chuck, a bags of trail mix, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, and a fancy grinder.

Went to Cost Plus. They are having a sale on the drink mixers from our wedding--the Powell and Mahoney brand. Buy one get TWO free!! Holy crap!

Went to Ace Hardware. (Boring.)

Did misc. chores, expecting to be home alone all evening, then Adam came home! And he brought us bbq tri-tip for dinner! It was awesome.

Then I cleaned up the kitchen, made my lunch for tomorrow, and started moving furniture around since we are having the carpet cleaned tomorrow.

Then, we got sidetracked...

I started framing more photos and hanging them up, which meant using a hammer. Which lead to this...

See, Adam said I was weak. Then he said if I'm strong I should be able to hammer a nail into a board in three hits (tap, HIT, HIT). So, we had a hammering contest in the garage. Neither of us could do it! Then, Adam got out the 12 pound sledge hammer. He hammered a nail in with one hit!

I hammered a nail in with 10 hits with a regular hammer and 4 hits with the sledge.

Then, we watched this video:

You might wonder why. That's because my coworker got offered a chance to learn how to butcher a sheep, which means I could come too...which lead to Shaun the Sheep.  :)

Now Adam is working on his computer and I am doing this blog. Time for bed...

Monday, August 29, 2011


I made healthy granola last week, and it was actually good! A lot of times, things that are healthy aren't actually that good. Like, raw carrots. I'm just not a fan unless a dip is involved.

This granola was amazing when served on top of Fage 2% greek yogurt with a spoonful of my blueberry lime jam. (I had that for lunch three days in a row!)

I used a recipe from here but omitted the nuts and reduced the baking time:

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix the applesauce, honey and cinnamon together and then stir in oats. Bake at 325 for about a half hour (check often because mine got a little over-brown and the original recipe called for 45 minutes), stirring a couple times during baking. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Plank and deliciousness.

Might have had this for dinner.

That's chocolate chip zucchini bread with vanilla ice cream.

BTW, that first picture--the deliciousness is sitting on top of a cedar plank/log that my husband is working on in the garage. We found it while hiking in Washington. He carried it out (the man is strong!) to our van and we brought it home with us. It will eventually become a bench.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wedding pictures..

I framed a few of the pictures from our wedding.

I have plans for three different wall art projects.

One is wedding pictures. I want to frame a bunch in dark wood frames and hang as a grouping. The two I did last night are the start.

The second is to do something with all of the photos we had on display at our wedding. Not sure what to do with them yet.

The third is doing another grouping of photos using a bunch of flower photos I've taken. Adam is going to make natural looking frames using knotty pine.

I'll post as I work on these projects! BTW, we are in the process of buying a house near our favorite trails--nothing is for sure yet--but I may have new walls to hang art on soon!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Another dinner.


Green beans from the farm garden.
Tomatoes from the farmer's market and our home garden, with basil (home garden), fresh mozzarella (store), and a little vinaigrette.
Bread--from the bread machine as always (we never buy bread anymore!)--made with whole wheat and white flower plus shredded zucchini for extra moisture!
Beef: Made by my husband! Slow cooked in port wine with onion.
Eat--beef with tomato salad on the bread. Yup.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Last week I made dill pickles! We opened the first jar today while at my parents' house. They were great! I made two types: some with red peppers and some with black peppers. We tried the red pepper kind; they were perfect with just the right amount of spice. Each jar has a clove of garlic.

I'm ready to be done with pickling cucumbers now....

Quick Dill Pickles (from a canning course hand out)--this recipe makes ~3 pint jars (I made 9 jars)
2 lb cucumbers (if larger slice, if quite small leave whole)
3 tsp salt
1 c vinegar
1 c water
1 1/2 tbsp dill seed
whole black peppercorns or dried red peppers
whole cloves garlic

Wash and prepare cucumbers

Combine vinegar and water; heat. Pack cucumbers into clean hot jars. For each pint jar, add 1 1/2 tsp dill seed, 3 whole black peppers (or red peppers--I put two per jar for spicy pickles), and 1 tsp canning salt. If desired, add 1 clove garlic per jar also.

Fill with vinegar/water solution leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal.

Process 15 minutes.

Enjoy! Great as a snack, with burgers, on sandwiches....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Elderberry liqueur!

Elderberry liqueur--courtesy of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook!

This was very easy to make. I harvested elderberries at work last Friday and put this together over the weekend.

Just: wash berries, put in jars, add lemon peel (no white pith), fill jars with vodka. Let sit! For weeks! Then open jars, add sugar to taste (maybe about 1/3 cup for the whole batch according to the website above). Yes.

Now that I've done this, I'm considering doing other infused liquors. Citrus vodka when citrus is in its high season? Berry flavor? Peach? Hmmmm....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Cuteness.

This is what bored dogs look like. Sorry guys, we'll get our runs in this week!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Garden love.

This is one day's harvest from our work garden, plus some wild-collected fruits!
On this day we collected:
-Too many (too big) zucchini
-Small yellow crookneck squash
-Baby pumpkins
-Pickling cucumbers
-Green beans
-Red bell peppers

And, we wild-collected:
-Box of elderberries!

From this so far I have made:
-The start of a batch of elderberry liqueur (takes a while--has to sit in jars; pictures to come)
-Dill pickles (pics to come)
-Zucchini yeast bread (not sweet, excellent toasted with blackberry jam!)

I will make:
-Extra tasty carrots sticks for eating raw
-Steamed green beans with butter and lemon
-Grilled squash

My coworker is also going to make pesto with the basil. Delicious!

PS This photo was taken by my coworker! Thanks!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Husband cooks.

My husband made dinner tonight! It was great.
Grilled chicken with taco spices.
Fire roasted tomato rice.
Fresh salsa (I made it yesterday.)

Fantastic! Even better because it was served to me warm and beautifully displayed. :D Winner!

Fishy business.

We are trying to eat more fish. The good kinds. We have eaten so much wild Alaskan Salmon I don't even want more. So, we're onto mahi mahi (the Atlantic kind).

We've been experimenting with it a bit. I really like it grilled, and usually served very simply (with lemon and vegetable and starch side dishes). We did get a little bit fancier though, just recently.

My work garden has an abundance of tomatillos. I had never done anything with tomatillos before (they are unusual little green tomatoes with husks). But--it was easy!

I made this:

Mahi mahi taco (only 1 each because we only had two tortillas...) with tomatillo salsa, roasted corn, and chips and more salsa on the side.

For the salsa--I swear it was simple--here's what I did:
1. Peel husks off tomatillos and wash, cut in half.
2. Cut some onion into chunks.
3. Broil tomatillos and onion for about 5 minutes to soften and slightly brown.
4. In food processor, chop tomatillos, onion, some jalepeno, lemon or lime juice, and a handful of fresh cilantro. (Salsa: done!)
Grill some mahi mahi and corn. Serve as fish tacos topped with fresh garden (red) tomatoes and the tomatillo salsa, corn on the side, lemon or lime to squeeze, and tortilla chips to dip in the remaining green salsa.

We had this with margaritas---it was fantastic!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Donner Weekend: Tahoe Lake Bike and Mt. Judah Hike

This past weekend we did our usual: hop in van after work and head up the hill. This time, we met my parents at the cabin at Donner Lake.

On Saturday, they very kindly and graciously watched the doggies while we went on a long bike ride: we rode around Lake Tahoe! I didn't take any photos (forgot the camera in the van..), but my takeaway message is: I'm glad I did it, but I don't think I'll ever do it again.

The ride wasn't very hard, and it definitely has views of the lake that are amazing! We rode it clockwise. My least favorite parts were the section on Highway 50 east of South Lake Tahoe, where the road is 4 lanes, there is more traffic, and most of the time there is no shoulder (it felt like riding on the freeway to me--too scary). I also didn't particularly like the road coming into Emerald Bay, but that's my own dislike of heights (it's a little steep and cliffy).

BUT--I loved the ride along the east shore (less traffic great views) and I liked a lot of the west shore ride, too--good views (Emerald Bay is beautiful), interesting houses to look at, a good climb and some fun (not too steep) descents.

Saturday evening we went to a neighborhood potluck, which was fun with good food and interesting folks.

Sunday, we went hiking with my parents! We took my mom up to the top of Mt. Judah (on the Mt. Judah Loop trail). It was really fun and the wildflowers were AMAZING.

The photo isn't great but this is a hillside covered in Lupines, indian paintbrush, larkspur, penstemon, yellow and purple asters, and some mule's ears!

Monster big indian paintbrush.
Took this pic for my mom--the Phlox growing in the rocks is so pretty!

Some nice views! This photo has Anderson Peak and Tinker's Nob in it, with the PCT leading up to them both.
Us, with Donner Lake in the background (and the omnipresent I80 corridor..). 
Great weekend! Home now and Adam made us a delicious dinner while I put away stuff from our trip. Busy week ahead (like usual...).

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cocoa-Peanut Butter-Sugar-Butter-Chocolate Chip-Fantasy-Heaven

Thanks to Picky Palate, another blog I follow, for this:

Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Swirl Fudgy Cookies

That was like an extra 1000 calories I took in much for the health kick (one night off..I am actually doing well otherwise! Going to work it all off this weekend anyway...).

I'll add photos tomorrow! (Done!)

It is enough to say that they are amazing. I ate enough dough while making them that I didn't even eat a baked cookie. Made these to take to a potluck in the mountains this weekend!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Donner Lake, Granite Chief, Tahoe: Hike and Bike Sierra Weekend

Man, it has been a busy week!
I'm glad to reflect on last weekend and look forward to this one coming up.

Last Friday after work we hopped in the car and drove up to our family cabin at Donner Lake (near Truckee). This is a change for us as usually we use the cabin in the winter when camping conditions aren't ideal. It was nice to sleep with the doors and windows open in the house and not have to climb over 5 feet of snow to get to the front door!

The van hung out in the parking spot:

On Saturday morning we had a leisurely breakfast in front of the TV (the cabin has cable--WAY more channels that we get at home...although we usually end up watching HGTV endlessly...). (And yeah, that's a mattress on the floor...the pull out bed is bad and the floor mattress is only marginally better..)

The dogs hung out:

And look who we brought! Brucie!

We went for a short walk with the dogs, and then got ready to go for a bike ride. The dogs would spend the morning napping in the van while we explored the Tahoe area on two wheels! We rode from our cabin at Donner over to Truckee, rode around there looking for an elusive bike path (we found it, it was nice but short), then rode out highway 267 to Tahoe.

267 goes from Martis Valley (low) to Brockway Summit (high) to Kings Beach (lower but not as low as Martis Valley). That is one heck of a climb!! I'm glad I didn't really know what I was getting myself into! We then rode over to Tahoe City and then back to the cabin via Highway 89. Very nice, about 53 miles total. (And I gave myself bonus points for that big climb.)

The bike path we found near downtown Truckee. Good place to walk dogs!
I was out of breath while taking this photo.
After our great ride, husband ate some lunch and then left me at home with the animals to go to a truckee-river-float-themed batchelor party for a work friend. I had the afternoon to myself to rest (and, work! I had a bunch of stuff to do relating to my job as a board member/secretary/editor for a local non-profit). 

So, I set up a mini home office in this wonderful setting:

But first, I was starving. 

So I got out the ancient retro-cool blender.

And filled it with strawberries I had frozen in late spring, plus frozen sliced bananas, a little vanilla ice cream, and some milk.

Retro-cool blender still works pretty good! I'm sure this machine is older than I am.

Perfect lazy afternoon work snack. 

Views from my weekend home office (in real life there is more lake)
Weird dog chilled out in the cat bed.

Lazy dog chilled out on our bed!
The dogs and I went on a couple of walks around the neighborhood to stretch our legs. 

Relaxing neighborhood walk. Off leash! nice.
Views of Donner!
Then Adam came home. He got some snuggles from Dude:

That night we made *amazing* dinner: smashed potatoes with blue cheese, 
grilled pork chops, grilled summer squash, and brownies. 

The next morning, we relaxed and I made some buckwheat pancakes, 
fresh eggs, bananas, and jasmine green tea. 

After that, husband went out to wash the van...our water at home is so hard that it coats everything with mineral grime, so washing at the cabin is a good choice since the water is much better there!

Yes, he's on top of the van. And yes, the van looks really big from this angle. And yes, the van is actually just really big.
After van washing we packed up the dogs (left Bruce at the cabin) and went for a hike out of the Alpine Meadows area to the Five Lakes Basin in the Granite Chief Wilderness.

This hike is a varied one, as we went through forest, exposed scrubby slopes, granite, and back into a green valley. The lakes basin isn't spectacular (a lot of folks don't realize they've passed all of the lakes)--but if you want to explore there are some good swimming areas. We went past the lakes onto the PCT and got some views of Sierran valleys. It was nice! There were a few mosquitos in the shady areas and around the lakes so I'd recommend bug spray of some sort if you go up there soon. 

Phlox (white/lavender) and Penstemon (pink).
Sierra valley views! Lovely.
Unfortunately this is as good as the portraits got during the weekend.
After our hike, we went back to the cabin and got Bruce and drove home. It was a very nice weekend! I'd recommend the Five Lakes Basin hike if you want to explore around some small (semi-hidden) lakes. You might want to go early, though--it was busy on the trail and we started around 9:30am. 

Looking forward to more weekends like this soon! Have a good week!