Archive for November, 2011

November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Review…in food

I recovered the photos from my phone!!! I’m so happy. Now I just need to find my contacts and I’ll be back in business!

So here is my Thanksgiving weekend review in food.

Leftover tofurkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. It may look like just a mush pile of stuff, but boy is it a delicious mush pile!

Black Friday shopping day dessert: affogato from Il Fornaio

Saturday morning breakfast: quinoa with persimmons and pecans

Sunday night dinner: Vegetable Pho

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! Next up: CHRISTMAS!

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November 29, 2011

My favorite place on earth

Everyone has a favorite place, that one spot where the world stands still, problems cease to exist and perfect harmony is more than just a lovely little ideal. At least I have that place, and I sure hope everyone else has one too!

Mine is Rome Valley Vineyards. It’s the place where we got married, and it’s funny because I booked it before I fell in love with it.

Sunset at Rome Valley Vineyards

Since booking our wedding almost a year ago, the vineyard has become a home away from home. I mention it now because I went up there for a meeting this morning, and I’ve been completely useless since. It’s almost like taking a happy pill. It’s so peaceful and serene and you walk inside the door this time of year and are washed with Christmas spirit (of course, today the Christmas spirit was more or less still spilling out of boxes). There’s always fresh coffee and some sort of special flavored creamer (today was pumpkin spice….although the special creamer is for special people…regular people get plain vanilla. lol). Just looking at all the colors is amazing.

This one was taken at sunrise about two months ago when the grape leaves were just starting to change.

We went up there to help harvest the grapes. They’re all picked by hand at Rome Valley. And it was so much fun! If you’ve never harvested grapes before, I highly suggest it!

The grapes a few months before harvest when they were “teenagers.” It’s been fun to watch them grow and change over the course of the year. Winemaking is something that has always fascinated me…well, you know, since I’ve been old enough to appreciate it anyway. And at Rome Valley the process is in its purest form. No complex harvesting machines, all the labels are put on by hand (largely by MY hands!) and if you go up for a tasting, the owner herself will pour your wine.

 What’s your favorite place in the world?

November 28, 2011

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! + Good Intentions

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a lovely long holiday weekend. I know I did…for the most part, but more on that later.

Jim and I spent Thanksgiving running a muck, trying to visit everyone we loved within a certain radius.  We had our main dinner at the house where I grew up My mom cooked the usual turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, green bean casserole, fruit salad, etc. I cooked up my tofurkey (and I’m kind of sad I didn’t bring any of it to work for lunch today…). My youngest brother came home from college and the brother just older than him brought his wife and my little nephew Tucker over.

Me and Tucky Boy getting ready for my wedding!

From there we went to visit our friends BJ and Ashley, who own the vineyard where we got married. We’ve become so close with them since booking their property for our wedding. They’re amazing people. We love them to death! And Ashley’s brother and his family were up from San Diego. They have three of the cutest little girls I’ve ever met!

Lastly, but certainly not least, we made our way to Jim’s parents’ house for meal #2/dessert. Jim ate a whole second meal while I had a few bites of stuffing and some of the hash brown casserole his sister had made for breakfast (It’s freaking delicious!) and a couple of slivers of pie. Jim’s step dad manages a restaurant, so he wasn’t even home until early in the evening. We didn’t get to spend as much time with them as we would have liked, but we did our best to fit it all in.

That night my mom and I made our best attempt at shopping at midnight when all the stores opened. We got to Wal Mart at 10 (Gosh, I wish I’d taken a photo of THAT madness!) and promptly decided to go home and sleep instead of being at the mall when it opened. Black Friday madness can really only be endured with the right combination of caffeine and sleep. So we slept, we got coffee and we got to World Market by 7 a.m., in enough time to get our free ornament and movie ticket.

I will say one thing about everything opening at midnight: the crowds were almost non-existent between the hours of 7 am and noon. Most people, it seemed, had gone at midnight and maybe gone home to sleep and returned in the afternoon? Either way, if it means I can shop peacefully on Black Friday morning, I’m all for midnight openings (by then everyone has had dinner and spent time with their families anyway. Plus, with the economy as it is, I bet a lot of people were happy for the extra hours).

And this is where the good intentions come in. Originally my post was going to be titled: Food highlights from the holiday weekend…or something to that effect. Most of the photos from said post were taken with my phone….which happened to die this weekend. I believe we have resuscitated it, but my photos were either lost or deleted. So should they pop up, I’ll add the post because frankly, my weekend in food was quite interesting and I was very excited to share it.

How was everyone’s Thanksgiving? Anyone have a funny/exciting/adventurous story to share?

 

 

November 23, 2011

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I looooove the holidays! And tomorrow, being Thanksgiving and all, marks the kick of off the most wonderful time of the year! I love everything about this time of year.

I love that the temperatures drop and I get to bring out all my sweaters.

The rain is lovely except when I'm on my honeymoon and more interested in exploring than curling up with a good book!

I love the smells: cookies baking and fresh rain on pavement and pine trees and cinnamon and peppermint!

Nephew, Tucker, and I baking cookies

I love shopping for the perfect gift for each of my loved ones.

I love the parties, the glitter, the shiny sheen that seems to show up on every surface of life.

I love picking out the perfect tree and decorating it with lights and beautiful ornaments.

Our apartment sized tree from last year

I love the feeling in the air, the notion that during this time of year, everyone seems to be just a little bit nicer to each other….

….granted, I will mention that the holidays also bring out the worst in some people.  The ones who cut in lines and have a constant scowl on their faces. I feel bad for people who can’t just enjoy the season.

What are your favorite things about the holidays?

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November 22, 2011

Under the weather

I know. My presence has been scarce. But in my defense, I’m sick. And I don’t feel like doing anything.  I haven’t gone to the gym. I haven’t cooked a meal. I haven’t done laundry or cleaned anything. I didn’t go to work yesterday. I went today, but I did a couple of things and then sat in my chair moaning and groaning until the phone rang at which point I put on my best “I’m okay!” voice and answered it.

I did get one productive thing done today, although it was not work related. I’m working on putting together a shutterfly book of wedding photos, and I got that going. So, here’s a sneak peak. And that’s all you get for now because I’m going to go back to dying on the couch now.

This is one of my favorites of me getting ready. My maid of honor, Kayla, was tightening my dress and I had to hold onto the bed to keep from falling over backwards!

Anyway, ta ta, folks. Hopefully I’ll have more energy and things to say tomorrow.

November 19, 2011

A favorite snack + TJs!

During my last year of college, I worked at Trader Joes. It was probably one of the most fun (also most exhausting. Have you seen those people? They’re always moving!) job I’ve ever had. Aside from the fact that the people were cool, the benefits and pay were off the freaking wall and they were willing to work with my school schedule, I got to taste a lot of really good food!

Anyone who knows Trader Joes knows that they’re pretty much the opposite of mainstream. You can’t go in there, necessarily, looking for one item. It’s likely not to be there, even if it was there the last time you were there. They call themselves a “specialty grocery store.” That being said, there are tons of really fun, different foods you can get there.

I love looking in other people’s carts while I’m there. Katie, over at healthy diva eats, calls people like me cart stalkers. And more than once I’ve seen something in someone’s cart while on my way to the checkout and just HAD to go back and find it. Katie has taken cart stalking to a new level though, and started posting her highlights on her blog! So, here are the highlights from my trip to Trader Joes last night.

My favorite snack is in there. When I was working there, I went through a, like, two month phase where every day I would come home and have the same thing:

Toasted seeded sourdough bread + fresh mozzarella + bruschetta sauce = DELICIOUS!

The final product:

I added the steamed broccoli because I was feeling a little nutrient deprived.

I assume you also noticed to Tofurkey in the photo above. Yes, I’m one of those. I eat Tofurkey and I love it. And no, Jim doesn’t eat it. He eats regular turkey or whatever else was cooked by whoever we’re sharing Thanksgiving with.

It’s really not that bad. If you’ve never tried it and you get the chance, give it a bite.

Tonight’s dinner is another “compromise” meal. A compromise because I’m cooking it, Jim’s eating it and I’m picking around it. Stay tuned for that one!

November 18, 2011

One of those days

It’s turning out to be one of those days. No, not those days. Not the kind of day, FORTUNATELY!, where everything seems to go wrong no matter what you do.

This is one of those days where I feel strangely upbeat and motivated to get stuff done…except I have nothing to do. My desk is clean. Filing is done. My inbox is empty. I even got started on all the year-end stuff that will need to be done come January 1st.

I suppose now that means I’m moving on to cleaning out the fridge. It’s like spring cleaning, only in late fall!

On second thought, maybe I’ll leave the fridge for a later date and sit back and just read my book instead….

Yea, I think I like that plan better. 🙂 Happy Friday, Friends!

November 17, 2011

Christmas shopping revelation + breakfast

As I was trying to fill in my christmas gift spreadsheet, the one I so cleverly designed for myself last week, I came to a realization about the real reason I can’t finish shopping until the last minute.

I buy based on a feeling, not a list.

It’s not important to me to buy my sister-in-law a scarf. Unless I happen to see a scarf at a store that screams her name to me. It’s why I can never find something for my dad: the man who has everything. I put a lot of thought and feeling into what I give people. It’s not just about having something for them under the tree on Christmas morning. It’s about showing them I love them and appreciate their presence in my life.

That being said, I’ve hit the delete button on my spreadsheet, pulled out a notebook and simply listed the people I want to buy for. Wish me luck! I’m in for a long ride.

Breakfast.

Most important meal of the day, right? Also, I’d say, a lovely opportunity to combine ingredients you love.

Like oatmeal. I love oatmeal. I could (and mostly do!!) eat it every single day (you can find my favorite here). Today, I combined it with my very favorite peanut butter.

I had this peanut butter for the first time on a sandwich at the Peanut Butter and Co. restaurant just around the  corner from NYU.  At that time, you could only buy it there, but now it’s in stores all over the place (thank goodness! I’m a long way from New York!)

So I added a good sized glop to my oats, and wha la! Breakfast!

I had to keep the cute note my mommy left at my desk this morning when she dropped the dog off in the picture. 🙂

And of course, I had to lick the spoon.

November 15, 2011

Lazy girl skips the gym AND eats sushi for dinner

Do you love my butterfly socks?

 

That’s right. I not only skipped the gym in favor of sitting in front of the tv under my favorite blankey all evening, I didn’t cook dinner. I ordered sushi instead. And I don’t even feel bad about it.

In fact, I’m feeling much better. See, lazy is probably the wrong word to use. My body was telling me I needed to take it easy this evening. I haven’t been sleeping well again and there’s only so much I can do on a few hours of sleep before I start getting sick. So, here I sit, for the 4th hour tonight. And hopefully this relaxation will lead to a night of restful sleep. Cross your fingers for me!

P.S. Is anyone else watching Hart of Dixie? I’m hooked!

November 15, 2011

Christmas comes earlier and earlier

Is it just me or is Christmas coming earlier and earlier every year? I mean sure the date is always December 25, but the holiday season seems to start earlier every year.

Like this year. For the past several years, one radio station in the Sacramento area has played all Christmas music all the time, starting the day after Thanksgiving. This year, they’ve already started. And the earliest I heard Christmas songs on their station was this past Saturday.

Now I don’t think I actually have a problem with this. I LOOOOOOVE Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year and I am all for making it last as long as possible. But every year, come December 26, I am so sick of hearing Christmas song I have no problem letting them fade away for the next ten and a half months.

One good thing about Christmas creeping up on us is that it gets me thinking about gifts earlier. I am an awful shopper. I always wait till the last-minute, not because I procrastinate but because I can never think of something to get people!

This year, in an effort to combat that, I’ve started a spreadsheet of all the ideas for gifts I have for each person in my life.

I’m hoping this will work. Because let’s be honest, not every person in your life is equal. There are people who it is perfectly acceptable, like extended family, to give a plate of delicious cookies to and there are people, like say your husband, who you want to spend a little more time or money or both on. Not that cookies don’t cost a dang lot of time…at least the way my mom and I do them!…but there’s a little less thought put into that than there is something else.

And isn’t that what it boils down to? The thought. Everyone always says it’s the thought that counts. So it stands to reason that you’d put more thought into gifts for those closest to you. And the fact that you give a gift to some one not so close to you shows you’re thinking about them at all.

This year we have an easy gift though: framed wedding photos. That’s going to be my fall back gift when I can’t think of anything else. And of course, parents get them just by default.

How do you handle all of your gift giving at the holidays?