Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brewery Tour

Yesterday we met the rents at Sierra Nevada for a late lunch and brewery tour. We did the tour first since they stopped doing them at 3:00 pm and we figured it would give the tap room time to empty out. I've done the basic and extended sustainability tour quite a few times already, but Sean and the 'rents hadn't. At the beginning of the tour they took us down a hallway where the brewery owner kept his collection of beer bottles. It puts our two shelves to shame.
There were multiple floor to ceiling glass displays of beer bottles down the hallway. When we win the lotto and build a custom home we'll make sure to include some adequate wall space for our collection.

The tour took us through some of the rooms where they cook the magical ingredients for beer.
After the tour we hit the tap room and ordered some beer and food.
The boys loved their beer and their sausage and hot wing platters. Before we left we stopped by the gift shop and loaded up on some of the specialty beers that you could only get there and Sean got himself a t-shirt. Once we got home I spent the afternoon scrapping while they spent it drinking and eating candy. I got three pages done this weekend; the Bidwell Classic, St. Patrick's Day and Easter.
(I have no idea why it keeps merging in sideways, but I give up!)
Sean left to go back home this morning. Chris had to drive him back to his work in Orland at 7:00 am this morning since that's where they stored Sean's truck and car over the weekend. Much to my surprise, since Chris was already up and dressed, he came by my church this morning and stayed through the first half an hour of singing. Not bad for a damn dirty atheist Canadian.

Unfortunately we're back to work tomorrow, but at least it's my first 4-day work week. Three day weekends here I come!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Zoom Zoom

We have Sean down from Oregon this weekend to shower him with our sparkling personalities and my homemade meals, but if you ask him, he's just down for our last race of the season at Thunderhill today. Sean towed down his Subaru to race, the same kind Chris used to own, and followed us to the track this morning at o' dark early.
Since he was new to the track, the Canadian rode with him on his first session on track to familiarize him with the twists and turns.
During their down times they would tune their cars and talk strategy.....or just sit on their asses and zone out.
Chris didn't have the best day ever. He did a little 4-wheelin' off track, had some wiring issues and even had to be towed in twice.
He still had a good time though since he improved his track time and got some good laps in. Sean loved it. He did some passing and kept improving his times. We were done around 3:30 pm, but instead of roaring out of there we discovered we had two dead batteries in Hank (our truck). Thankfully Sean was there with his big truck and jumped us, but now Chris needs to go buy Hank some new batteries this weekend (on the work credit card of course).
Now we're just relaxing at home trying desperately not to fall asleep before 8:00 pm. I'm keeping a steady stream of candy and beer going to the boys. There's definitely going to be a little sleeping in tomorrow. We have a date at Sierra Nevada in the afternoon for a tour and a late lunch with the rents. The boys are looking forward to splitting the beer sampler. It's a placemat labeled with all their beers and a spot for them to place a super sized shot glass of each flavor on. I've shared one with Chris before and they're a lot of fun.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

International Cookbook Unveiling

Tonight was the bridal shower at La Hacienda for my coworker MaryJo. I had the fiesta salad because it's the most magically delicious meal there ever.
Instead of numerous gifts we pooled our money together for spending cash for her honeymoon in Amsterdam so all we really had was the cookbook and a basket full of naughty gifts.
I brought a Grand Marnier (orange liqueur) cake from the Upper Crust for our dessert treat personalized for MaryJo and her fiance Mike.
We had a great time and MaryJo absolutely loved the cookbook. For as much headache as it gave me it was great to see how much she enjoyed it.
So, before I slither off to bed (remembering to set my alarm this time!), here's the other scrapbook page I finished over the weekend.
At this rate I'll get caught up in no time!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some Serious Scrappin'

I finally finished the cookbook. It had almost stripped me of my will to ever craft again, I just wanted to get it done so badly. Here's the cover:
And here's how the finished recipe cards fit into the book:
Once I finished the book I could finally move on to my personal scrapbooking which I haven't done all year. First I made a birthday card for a co-worker.
Then I did two pages for my scrapbook. One from a dinner Chris and I went on in January at Italian Cottage and a second one from Valentine's Day.
I'm on a super scrapbooking roll right now. I finished another page from our wedding anniversary, but apparently I didn't get a picture yet. Scrap, scrap, scrap, scrap.

Against my better judgment I'm watching Dancing with the Stars. So far Mya has danced the best, in my opinion, but the girls are don't yet. Macy Gray's up next. She reminds me of Sarah's little sister, Jess. I'm sure we'll be comparing notes with the 'rents on Friday at the race.

Friday, September 18, 2009


On Thursday Pam, our beloved and missed receptionist, had to come back to get her last paycheck so we grabbed her and went out to drinks at Canteena after work. Canteena is owned by Chris, who owned Meehos back in the day when it was good. He serves a lot of the old food there too, including his ultimate nachos.
Not quite large enough for a full meal or to share, but makes a great "light" snack.

I didn't have to work today because I worked last night until 9:00 pm so I spent the morning running errands and getting my grocery shopping out of the way. I went downtown and ordered a cake from Upper Crust for a co-workers bridal shower this week and strolled around visiting some neighboring shops. At Zucchini and Vine I found these little treasures on clearance and couldn't pass them up.
Probably not as good as Rick's, but I'm sure they'll do. While downtown I also did a little birthday shopping for a certain somebody who's birthday is coming up next month. Since I didn't have enough change to keep the parking meter running long enough to have lunch downtown I came home and whipped up this little treat.
Nacho cheese sauce on top of my hot dogs. I had them like this once at Zot's Hot Dog's in the Garden Walk downtown. My homemade version wasn't bad, I even spread a little brown mustard on the bread first.

I've got a Pampered Chef party to go to tonight up in Magalia for one of the gals who works at the Paradise garbage company. I've got my shopping list already written down so hopefully I don't go crazy, but I also have a weakness when I see the stuff in person. Must be strong....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Beer"eka, I found it!

After months and months of searching I finally found the ultra elusive Left Coast Brewery's Hop Juice. It was one of Chris' favorite at the brewfest, but we haven't been able to find it since. But that all changed today when I was strolling the isles of S & S Produce looking at all their freakish hippie food when I heard the call of booze from the refrigerated section and there it was.
The funny part was that it didn't quite taste the same to him as it did at the brewfest so we won't be buying it again. After all that....

It's getting down to crunch time to finish the cookbook I'm working on for my co-worker's bridal shower. I started printing the recipe cards this afternoon. I can print two per sheet of cardstock and then I'll have to cut them out.
After printing out about two recipe cards the printer started acting up and jamming every sheet of cardstock I tried to feed it. Of course that got me all in a dither because I've invested so much time in these cards that it wasn't like I could just turn around and do something else. And we have that stupid newer version of Word so I couldn't email them to myself at work to print on the color printer there. Luckily Chris came in and read the printer manual, turned the printer around and found that some panel in the back had opened up and needed to be closed. Then it started printing fine again, but by then the laptop was too low on batteries to keep printing. I just couldn't win! Hopefully I can try again later tonight or tomorrow afternoon.

Recently I bought a french cookbook from B&N. In it was a recipe that I wanted to try called Coq au Vin, but it needed a dutch oven like the ones from Le Creuset that can go in the oven. But it just so happened that in my crock pot cookbook there was a crock pot version of it so I gave it a try today. It has chicken breasts, pearl onions, crumbled cooked bacon, mushrooms in a sauce of red wine and chicken broth. At the very end you take out the meat and veggies and add some flour and tomato paste to the sauce to thicken it. You serve the chicken and veggies over egg noodles covered in the tomato wine sauce. It was really tasty even though I bet it doesn't taste at all like the authentic version.
We're spending the afternoon watching NASCAR. They're racing in Richmond, VA (not that any of you care). When I say "watching" I mean that it's on the TV while I read through my scrapbook magazines looking for layouts for my photos. That's a more acurate description of what's going on.

Tomorrow is my Sunday to sing at church so I have to get up early and be to church by 8:00 am for practice. After that we have no plans. We have Defiance (Daniel Craig Jew movie) on Netflix so maybe we'll watch that, or we also really want to see Inglourious Basterds at the theater. We haven't been to the movies in forever, or at least it seems like it.

Cough, cough, Chris is running between the front door and rear slider with the bug spray pump in his hands. Excuse me while I curl up and die from the stinky fumes of death. Cough, cough.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bunko and Buffets

Monday was Labor Day so both Chris and I got the day off. Our only plans for the day were to attend a BBQ at the 'rents in the late afternoon. They were inviting their new neighbor, Dale, who just moved here two weeks ago and is our age. He's some sort of loan officer over at Wells Fargo and the 'rents thought it wouldn't hurt for us to meet him in case we wanted to look into refinancing for a lower interest rate. For the BBQ I made Zella bread and roasted asparagus with kalamata olives.
On Tuesday I had Bunko up in the boone's of Magalia. It was our 10 year anniversary so we had a potluck. I brought a autumn fruit salad. Fruit mixed with vanilla yogurt, mini marshmallows and peanuts. There was so much delicious food there it was unbelievable. One of my favorites was a polenta casserole. A layer of prepared polenta in the bottom of a 8x8 topped with a couple of cans of meaty Nally's chili covered in cheese and baked.
One of the gals brought a homemade coconut cake. The cake batter and frosting was mixed with pineapple and apricots.
As per usual I turned in a mediocre game and didn't win anything. This month there were a couple of prizes that included overflowing potted ivy plants. I would have liked one of those. I need to learn to cheat a little better.

Wednesday night was a girls night retirement party for Pam (our receptionist at work) at Sierra Nevada. She didn't want a big work party so a couple of us ladies kidnapped her and took her to dinner instead. Then on Thursday everybody brought food for her quasi-last day (her real last day is this coming Monday, but we weren't sure if she would really come in or not). Kari, Suzanne and I also decorated her desk with lights and crepe paper.
I brought lemon tartlets to the party (from one of my Pampered Chef cookbooks).
I had singing practice last night while Chris went and met our friend, Justin, at a sports bar down the street. Afterwards I went to the gym while Chris stayed home and dreamed up this culinary concoction as his evening snack.
Mini marshmallows on wheat crackers. He definitely missed his calling as a professional dietitian.

Even though Friday afternoons are my grocery shopping day, I didn't get a chance to get a list put together in time so I stopped at Holiday in P-town on my way home and grabbed enough to get me through dinner and breakfast. Today was my next to last Friday I'll be working. Starting October 1st my work hours have been reduced to 36 hours (along with the majority of my co-workers). I'll be enjoying three day weekends at least until the end of June, 2010. After that our union will renegotiate with the town to see if they're financially capable of restoring our hours back to 40. Otherwise we may have to go through a second year of it. On the upside, at least I have a job, right?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Natural History & Art Institute

Today was our last full day in Chicago and I think we left the best for last. We started the day with The Field Museum of Natural History. It was down on the south end of town with the planetarium and aquarium from yesterday. Once again we stopped at Yolk for breakfast and I had the orange bread french toast today (topped with strawberries and a side of orange syrup) which was fabulous too, and Chris got the strawberry chocolate chip pancakes covered in whipped cream and chocolate sauce. We actually arrived at the museum minutes before it opened and it was fabulous to have the place virtually all to ourselves for the first couple of minutes. When you first walk in you meet Sue, the largest complete T-Rex.
The first room we went through was called The Ancient Americas. It chronicled the native South and North Americas over the last 13,000 years. It covered the Mayans, Incas, Aztecs and more modern Native American Indians, and Inuits. Really fascinating stuff.
The costume on the right is what the women of the Yakima Native American tribe wore.
Next we went through the Ancient Egypt exhibit. There was a pyramid replica you walked through where they had an actual mummy and walls from a burial room. Then it opened up into bigger rooms of artifacts. One of the items were numerous pages from the Book of the Dead.
More mummys (all female!?)
And reliefs.
After going through numerous rooms about mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, the last big exhibit was about dinosaurs.
Me, comparing foot sizes with one of the dinosaurs.
Though we were having an excellent time at the Natural History Museum, we had to call it a day at 3:30 because we needed to hike back into downtown, have an early dinner and get to the Art Museum by 5:00 pm. It was definitely my favorite museum of the trip.

We stopped and had a snack of calamari at a pizza/pasta place around the corner from our hotel before heading over to the museum. During the summer they were offering free admission after 5:00 pm on Thursdays and Fridays. They were even staying open later, until 9:00 pm. When we got in we grabbed a map and made a bee line to the exhibits we knew we absolutely wanted to see like the Japanese Screens special exhibit. My favorites were these pair of fall and springs screens.
After the screens we beat feet over to the Impressionists. Here are a few of the highlights:
The last two paintings were the size of the whole wall. I had no idea they were so big. There was also Monet and Renoir, but none of my favorite pieces. We ended having time to go through the early and modern American art (O'Keefe, Whistler, and Winslow), ancient Roman and Egyptian art, and through a section about architecture and building.

We're starting to pack because we need to be on the El tomorrow morning around 7:30 am. We should be rolling into Chico between 4:30-5:00 pm tomorrow evening. It's been a great week, but we're ready to be home again. You can only eat out so many meals before you actually start to look forward to my cooking!