Friday, December 31, 2010

Counting down...

In an effort to stay awake until midnight we're snacking on a handful of delicious treats;
2011 Resolution #1: Shave the beard. I mean, seriously.

Welcoming in a new year

Chris and I are ready to welcome in a new year with a couple of our friends;
Let's see....we've worked through everything but the Patron Cafe, but we still have three hours until midnight so I think the odds are good.

Cash crop

Much to my surprise our tiny, new mandarin tree actually produced some fruit this year. Two prize winning mandarins that finally looked ready to pick.
We savored them slowly because at this rate of production they were each literally $10 mandarins. That's practically farmers market prices!

Beer brunch

Chris and I went out to lunch one more time with baby sis, Wilson, before she leaves tomorrow for SoCal. Since she hadn't been yet, we took her to Sierra Nevada Brewery for lunch so she could try the beer sampler (shared with the rest of us, of course).
Chris muddled her tiny brain with mad amounts of beer trivia in an attempt to educate her on what she was sampling. After downing half of the samples, our meals finally came. I ordered one of the specials - gumbo, while Chris got his usual sausage platter.
It was the best gumbo I've ever had - not that I have it everyday, but I've had it before. This was a much thicker spicy tomato sauce than I've ever seen for a gumbo and it was packed full of sausage, chicken and topped with prawns all poured over rice.
When we got there it was empty and we were seated immediately, but by the time we left they were telling people an hour and a half wait! Had I known, I wouldn't haven't been milking my ice tea for so long while starving patrons wandered the lobby. My bad.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Piece de resistance

Today was the last day for one of our code enforcement officers for whom I'd bought a personalized cake. It was a huge hit and made him smile.
Everyone was so enamored with the picture they felt bad cutting in to it. With our cake we had a spread of Quiznos sandwiches and pizza from Round Table. It was a fun little lunch party with everybody.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas delights

We spent Christmas at the 'rents in Oregon this year. We left Friday morning for the 3 1/2 hour trek north enjoying a little snow along the way. We arrived just after lunch much to the pleasure of the newest member of the family, Chase.
Mum had the house decorated beautifully and had a cute little Christmas tree up in the corner of the dining room that was collecting all of our gifts.
As is tradition, Mum made a seafood based Christmas Eve dinner. Some wickedly delicious crab and shrimp open faced sandwiches. Yes, please.
Saturday morning Chase woke us up bright and early so that we wouldn't miss Santa. Good thing because we scored some good loot.
The classic "yowzers" face by Chris.
And of course some regional foodie favorites. The big Christmas plan was for friends and family to come over for a Christmas lunch buffet around 1:00 pm. Mum made some ham, pasta salad, potato salad, rolls, cheese platter, salmon spread and our family friend, Carolyn, brought over some baked beans.
Nom, nom, nom. It was a quick weekend visit with family since we needed to not only beat the snow driving through the passes on the way home, but we both had to be back to work on Monday. So, after a quick breakfast this morning we packed it up and headed out. We put the truck in 4-wheel drive at the base of the hill to get over the passes between Oregon and California and made it through fine. They had plows galore on the road clearing the debris.
Since we were gone for Christmas, I'd made plans for my mom and sister to come over tonight for dinner and our gift exchange. After some tasty jambalaya and salad we sat down and started opening our new treasures.
A fruit and nut basket from Yakima, WA.
A perfume sampler for me so I'll be smelling like a spring flower for at least a week.
Wilson, trying on her new Citizen Eco-Drive watch for the fifteenth time while the Canadian kept removing links for her until it fit.

Overall, we had a great four-day Christmas experience. Lots of time spent with friends and family. And at the end of it all Chris ended up with enough Mr. Beer refill kits to keep him busy for many months to come. Success for all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sisters and shoes

I had a hot lunch date with my baby sis today in Chico at T Bar. Lots of salmon rice bowls and tea to go around.
After lunch my car accidentally drove to the shoe store and refused to leave until I'd picked up some new friends. Just trying to obey the doc's orders and only wear flats for a while to keep my legs from swelling.
Black, gray, brown and another black pair that are more outdoorsy and have fleece lining. I was hoping to sneak them in the house before the Canadian got home, but he foiled my plan by being home early. Now he knows my dirty little shoe secret.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best gift ever

Today I took our gifts up to C. and our nephews, Andrew and Connor. I made sure to get each of them the same number of gifts and of about the same importance so there was no fighting and tears. Andrew got a Timex watch that helps teach him how to read a clock and a Thomas the Train reading book. Connor got a Thomas the Train puzzle and book, both of which he did a jig of happiness over when he opened them.
Thomas the Train is a big deal in the Smith household. In exchange the boys gave me some gifts that included a set of framed prints, a new apron, and the most awesome toilet mug ever. After working with septic systems for 10 years I couldn't imagine a more appropriate gift for me.
I also scored some more loot from co-workers this morning during the four hours we had to work today. One gal gave me a set of four candles, some homemade boysenberry jam, and a glittery ornament. Then the assistant mega-boss gave me a bottle of red wine. This is the same boss lady who was about to make my head explode yesterday with her b-word attitude. Now I feel guilty for all the bad things I said about her yesterday. I'm sure that was her plan - she's evil like that!

Chris has to work one more day, but I get tomorrow off with my most pressing plans revolving around a lunch date with my sister. Now to decide where we're going....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas sparkle

My co-worker, Kari, brought me yet another Christmas gift today - a beautifully beaded cream cardigan.
I shall be so fancifully festive now. Meow!

Today at work we spent some time making plans for a retirement party next week for one of our code enforcement officers. My idea was to order a custom cake for him that has a personalized photo on it. I called Raley's in Chico and found that they could do that so I had the other code enforcement officer email me a suitable photo (one without people in it because heaven forbid the person we're making fun of is the one baking the cake!) from one of their enforcement cases so I could take it in and get the cake ordered this week. This one made the final cut;

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dinner out

I decided to treat the Canadian to dinner tonight at place down the street that I thought he'd really enjoy, Basque Norte. It's family style Basque cuisine that has unique meats like quail and lamb that you won't find at most of the other restaurants in town. The way the menu works is that you pick your meat/seafood choice (or the one pasta entree) and they serve it along with nine different standard sides. First up was pickled veggies, tomato garlic soup and french bread with butter.
I'm not usually a tomato soup fan, but this was really tasty. They gave us a small soup tureen that we ladled out of into our bowls. Next was some green salad with vinaigrette, Basque style beans, and spaghettini.
By this point we'd ingested more garlic in a few side dishes than the whole rest of the year. The spaghettini was literally just coated in butter and garlic. If you tried hard enough you could probably smell us from your house. The main entrees, and more sides, were delivered next. Chris got ribs while I chose the spinach ricotta raviolis. To accompany them we were also served the creamiest, softest red potatoes and some green beans.
And, as if all that wasn't enough, all the meals are ended with a serving of ice cream. Tonight's flavor was pralines and cream.
Everything was excellent and we have lots of leftovers for lunch tomorrow. And hopefully all of our garlic stink will have worn off by morning.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday spirits

At the request of the Canadian I stopped by the liquor store up in p-town for a new variety six-pack of beer. Looking specifically for holiday/new brews I assembled the following pack;
Now to decide which one will go best with the meatloaf and mashed potatoes we're having for dinner.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookie exchange

Tonight was our cookie exchange at bible study. I brought my three different cookies and candied walnuts to share with the ladies and received my own pile o' tasty treats from the three of them.
Homemade caramels (pronounced 'carmels'), German drop cookies (just like Mexican wedding cookies), homemade almond roca, shortbread dipped in chocolate and nuts, pizzelles, krumkakes, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter cookies, and cherry almond granola. Phew! That's on top of what I have leftover from my own baking marathon. I think we're set for at least the weekend!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Kitchen frenzy

It's that time of year again for our bible study cookie exchange. There's no set amount of cookies to make, just whatever sounds good. This year I made Mexican mocha walnuts (walnuts baked in a candy coating of coffee liqueur, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and then topped with more sugar, cocoa powder and instant espresso);
Lemon tea cookies (shortbread cookies with a lemon curd topping);
Toffee crisps (my least favorite and not because they pissed me off by sticking to the cookie sheets for the first batch);
and chocolate chip cookies from the mix I won in my Great Harvest gift basket.
These were no ordinary chocolate chip cookies, they were robust and dense with oats and other magic. Our exchange is Wednesday, but I have bunko tomorrow night so I had to finish everything up tonight. If I never bake again (shaking fist).....!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Birthday Granny

12-11-10, Feliz Cumpleanos a mi madre!!
Your party package awaits....

Downtown lunch date

Chris and I spent the morning running errands downtown after which we went for a little lunch date at The Bear. A big chili cheese dog for the boy,
And a California Peep sandwich for me (teriyaki chicken breast sandwich with avocado),
While downtown we picked up the last of our costume props for this year's Christmas card. Prepare yourself for a little artistic magic arriving to a mailbox near you soon!

I'm preparing myself tonight for the barrage of baking that needs to take place this weekend for my cookie exchange on Wednesday. I've got some Mexican mocha walnuts, lemon cookies, and toffee crisps on the menu served with a side of stretchy pants to accommodate all these holiday treats.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Altered judgment

This is grape vodka;
This is the Canadian on grape vodka;
Any questions?

Nice kicks

I went shopping this morning for gifts for our Angel Tree kid. This year we picked a 5 year old girl who wanted play-doh, a baby doll, and long sleeve shirts. Since the tag also had her shoe size I couldn't resist picking up these adorable shoes.
If I could get my Goliath feet into them I would. Brown suede with felt flowers - too cute!

I officially finished all of my Christmas shopping today, just hope it all gets delivered on time!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Yesterday was my first day back at work in 3 1/2 weeks. What I immediately realized was that time takes twice as long to pass in a work office than it does at home. Weird. For the most part I had a good day. I could get up and down from my desk okay, my legs just felt bruised every time I sat down because my office chair is hard. However, by the end of the work day my ankles and calves had swelled up like tree trunks, aka "cankles". The whole area physically hurt to touch and my shoes were leaving a huge purple indentation on the top of my foot. It was the longest I'd had my feet on the ground and not elevated since the surgery. As soon as I got home I popped some ibuprofen to help with the swelling and put my tootsies up on some pillows. By this morning I could actually see my ankle bone, so it obviously helped. Oye!

Today I had my last follow-up appointment with the surgeon. I gave him a quick update about all the issues I've had since I saw him last, but everything seems to have solved itself so he was happy with the current state of the incisions. I need to stay in my compression suit and continue to pad my incisions until there's absolutely no drainage coming off on the pads. And considering three of the four pads are continuously clean, I'm sure I'll be good by the end of the week. And at that point I can start working out again, slowly. Then, if in two more weeks, the steri-strips over the incisions don't start coming off on their own I need to take them off myself. Gag. That gives me chills just thinking about it.

Since my doctor appointment was at noon today in Chico, I got the rest of the afternoon off from work since I wasn't going to drive back up the hill for a couple of hours of work. Instead I hung out at home and got some present wrapping finished.
And in the mail today we got our first Christmas card from family friends, Jim & Carolyn up in Oregon.
That just makes me acknowledge how far behind I am on our Christmas cards. We make them every year, and we already have our 'theme' for this year, we just need to hurry up and do it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Coffee + Chocolate = Perfection

Look what I found at CholoMaxx the other night;
Java Twix! Delicious, especially with a hot cup of coffee.

Today is my last day of freedom as I go back to the coal mine tomorrow. I'm still in my compression suit so that should be fun! At least it keeps my legs warm while wearing skirts and dresses. Tuesday afternoon I go back to the doctor for a checkup. I think he'll be happy with how everything is looking, I know I am.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fundraising fun

Tonight was my friend Alicia's 40th birthday and to celebrate she used her special day as a fund-raising opportunity for our mutual friend Lori and her 17 year daughter, Kayla, who used to live up in p-town but had to move to the Seattle area a couple years ago for Kayla's medical treatments. Kayla was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 5 months old and is now in need of a double lung transplant. Even with insurance the family will be responsible for $50-$100k for the procedure. So Alicia made arrangements to have her birthday party at a local sports bar where they agreed to donate 15% of the sales for the evening to the cause and gave us use of their banquet room to hold a raffle and silent auction in. I came prepared and split my money between raffle tickets and silent auction bids. My game plan worked because I won a TON of loot;
My first raffle win - a huge gift basket from Great Harvest Bread. A loaf of honey wheat bread, a pumpkin chocolate chip loaf, a cinnamon loaf, a chocolate chip scone mix, honey, jam, and a bread knife. I gave out a loud whoop and fist pump when my name was called.
My trunk full of loot - my Great Harvest basket, a bottle of grape vodka, a bottle of Southern Comfort, a knitted hat and scarf set, a set of 14 pairs of earrings, a $50 Tupperware gift certificate, a big Mary Kay product gift basket, a free photo session with a local photographer, and a dog treat gift basket (don't tell Chase!) from a local doggy boutique. I mean seriously, is there anything cooler than winning a crap-load of gifts?? I think not. I envision pumpkin chocolate chip bread and grape vodka for breakfast....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our little secret

I stopped at Costco this morning right when they opened under the guise of buying more protein shakes for the Canadian, but may have accidentally slipped out with a new Cuisinart Griddler.
Don't tell the Canadian though, he thinks I need more kitchen appliances like I need a hole in the head. But look at it - it's got reversible plates that make it a grill, griddle and panini press.
I flipped one of the plates so you could see the two designs. Plus, it opens up to lay flat.
I had a coupon that came in the last Costco mailer so it only cost $60 with tax. You can't even walk in the front doors for less than $50 so I think that's a great deal! I shall now devote the rest of my life to making delicious paninis.

I had my nail appointment up in p-town today so after my Costco run, I cruised up the hill got my nails done and then had lunch at a Chinese restaurant with Pam, an old co-worker (since retired). It was just starting to sprinkle when I was leaving so I made it home just in time to avoid the impending rain.

Now that I'm healed enough, I'm back to singing practice tonight so I'll be spending the rest of the afternoon practicing the song set. Then maybe tomorrow I'll knock out a little baking. I did a run to Safeway yesterday to pick up a mishmash of baking essentials, just in case I might need any of it for a particular recipe.
I've got my eye on some gingerbread cupcakes with cardamom frosting and a lemon bundt.