Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Vacation Highlights

Back in Central Oregon, and it's rained all day!  We had a delightful trip to South Carolina.  It was one of those vacations where we stayed close to the house, visited with family, played games, and took naps on the couch.  Wonderful!

Here are some of the highlights:

1.  Spending time with the Ohio Rishforths.  My nephews and I cooked a fun lunch for everyone.  Cornflake chicken tenders, 5 bean baked beans, and cheesy polenta!  The chicken recipe is from Weight Watchers.

2.  Spending time with the Piedmont Rishforths and meeting my newest nephew, Parks.  He is a cutie and such a good baby!  7 year old, Elizabeth is almost as tall as me, and 11 year old, Ben will be taller than me shortly.  I also had a nice lunch with my talented sister-in-law, Patti.

3. Visiting with Wendy and Brian, two of my dear friends who have been by my side through everything.  Thanks for making time to visit!  I know your parents love Emil more than me...it's okay.  All parents love him.

4.  The warm hospitality of my parents.  We joke and say they run a Bed and Breakfast.  They sure do know how to make us comfortable and welcome every visit.  Thanks for everything!

5.  Eating lunch on the last day at Chick-Fil-A. 

They serve these sandwiches in heaven.  I checked.
6.  Grilled Pimento Cheese on multi-grain bread at Strossner's Bakery.  I forgot to take a picture until the last bite!  Just buy some pimento cheese, slap it between two pieces of bread, butter the bread and grill on low heat until the cheese is warm and gooey.  Text me and tell me it's your new favorite!

We didn't make it to Krispy Kreme, but I did have a big ol' glass of sweet tea at Panera Bread.  I love the South.  I came back with an accent, so let's chat soon, y'all!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Family and Friends

We visited with my good friend, Wendy, last night.  She's in town with her family, staying with her parents.  Her boys are almost as tall as me now! Wendy is also writing a second book, and I'm excited to read it!

It snowed two inches yesterday.  First white Christmas in 50 years or so.  Flights were cancelled out of ATL yesterday, so I hope it's cleared up and ready for when we fly through there tomorrow afternoon.

Wendy and Sara

Our perfect hosts for the week - my parents!

The snow followed us.  Merry Christmas, y'all!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Hope your day is filled with peace, happiness and joy.

We've opened gifts at several different times this week to accommodate all the wonderful family visiting and stopping in.  I am thankful and very appreciative for everyone driving down or coming over to visit.

Our Christmas day is very mellow...playing games with my parents, telling stories, looking at old photos, and visiting with friends in the evening.

Here are a few pics from this week:

My newest nephew - totally adorable

My oldest brother and his lovely wife

Time out

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tis the Season for Good Eats

It's not even Christmas yet, and I've eaten great food and opened gifts.  What a lovely vacation!

We had dinner at Bonefish Grill, recommended by my parents and Patti, my sister in law.  It was really delicious!  http://www.bonefishgrill.com/

Wagyu Beef + Ginger Dumplings handmade with American-style Kobe, pan-seared
with crispy shallots, Thai peppers + soy sauce

Grilled Wild Grouper with Pan Asian Sauce

Lobster Thermidor Dorado - topped with sweet lobster, lump crab + a velvety sauce with a hint of sherry,
served on garlic whipped potatoes

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back to the South

First day in South Carolina, and it's been lovely!  Spent some quality time with my family and enjoyed the mild weather.

My parents' home is beautifully decorated with multiple Christmas trees, including an Alaskan tree in our bedroom (not pictured).  I cooked a big meal today, and I'm in charge of other meals later in the week.  Hooray!

Dining Room Christmas Tree

Hallway Christmas Tree

Lighted Banister

Mother and Karla making Dear Abby's Famous Pecan Pie

My oldest brother, Ted and nephew, Aaron (14 years old)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oregon Snow

We have almost eight inches of fresh snow on the ground here in Redmond.  Feels like Alaska, except the temp is a balmy 35 degrees.  The deer came by for their daily visit, and the chickens declined to participate in another snowball fight.  Of course, the weather forecast is for more snow all week, just in time for us to fly out to warmer weather, we hope.

How many WW points to shovel the whole driveway?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Vacation

Are you ready for Christmas?  I am!  We are headed soon to Greenville, SC to see my family, and I am most excited to see my nephew, Parks.  He is the newest addition to our family, and he is a cutie!  Looking forward to spending quality time with my family and enjoying a Chick-fil-A sandwich or a meat and 3 plate at Cracker Barrel.  Southern food IS the best.

There was a spectacular sunset tonight!  Enjoy! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Package for Tom

I baked for several hours last night to finish a care package for my brother, Tom in Afghanistan.  The box includes chocolate chip/M&M cookies, apricot bars and brownies.  Plenty to share with his friends!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cyclo-cross, anyone?

Emil and I went to the USA Cycling National Cyclo-cross Championships today in Bend and watched the Elite Women's Race.  VERY exciting!  The course was super muddy and wet since it rained all day yesterday.  However, today was a sunny beautiful day, 50 degrees!  On a side note, I watched the temperature rise last night from 36 to 52.  I've never seen the temp RISE in the evening.  I LOVE Central Oregon.

Deschutes Brewery rocks!

And, they're off!

And, now can you guess who didn't wear appropriate footwear to the event?

We ended the afternoon with a GREAT meal at Westside Bakery & Cafe.  Then, I came home to bake goodies to send to Tom, my lovely brother in Afghanistan.  I'll post pics tomorrow of the goodies!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Only 5 Weight Watcher points!  Perfect summer camping meal too!

1 T. canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. dried mustard or a shot of regular mustard
1 lb. uncooked ground turkey breast
1 c. BBQ sauce

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Swirl in the oil, then add the onion, green pepper and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chili powder, oregano and mustard.  Let cool 1 minute.  Add the turkey and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until no longer pink.  Stir in the BBQ sauce and cook until slightly thickened.  Serve on wheat hamburger buns. 

Note:  Also good with protein crumbles!

I made this tonight along with cheesy polenta.  http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/cheesy-polenta/Detail.aspx

I've also been listening non-stop to Christmas music!  It's on as soon as I start the coffeemaker in the morning!  Rotating Emile Pandolfi, Josh Groban and Brian Setzer.

Anyone else watching Top Chef All Stars?  Current episodes are on hulu.com.  Were you surprised by this week's elimination??

Monday, December 06, 2010

Now it feels like winter...

We've had a little bit of snow the last few weeks.  Now snow is really here, about 6 inches, but it's melting fast!  Temp is 40 degrees, sunny and gorgeous!  Here are a few pics from this afternoon:

Animal tracks leading up to our house
I drove the van to the store today for practice since I'm used to driving in snow in my little Honda.  Oh Honda, I miss you.  Anyway, I've missed several days at the gym, so I took advantage of Netflix fitness videos.  There are several workouts that play instantly, and I love the flexibility of using them if I don't hit the gym. 

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Longboard Louie's

It snowed last night and all day today.  Not much accumulation, so we spent the day in Bend.  Shopped a little and ate a late lunch at Longboard Louie's, one of the places recommended in The Source Weekly for Cheap Eats.  It was great!  Healthy Mexican food done right.  My favorite part of lunch was the tomatillo and lime salsa.  Reminded me of Bear Tooth's salsa in Anchorage.

Salsa bar

Fresh salsa and chips

Carne Asada Fajita Taco

Spaz Taco:  Tempura fried wild Mexican prawns, pinto beans, rice, cabbage, pico de gallo and fish sauce.
They have two locations, one on the eastside and one on the westside towards Mt. Bachelor.  We'll definitely be back to try some different burritos and tacos.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Christmas Shopping

I am my Mother's daughter for sure.  We both pick up items throughout the year and save them as Christmas presents.  I think my record this year was for my brother, Tom, who is in Afghanistan.  When I was in Oregon on vacation back in April, I saw the perfect t-shirt at REI for him.  It had a drawing of three bike lanes and only one lane for cars.  He is the ultimate road biker.  I didn't pick it up for him right then since I figured the Anchorage REI would have it.  Turns out I was wrong (yet again)!  Lucky for me, Josh Niva (my good pal) was headed to Bend in May to visit friends.  I asked him to pick up the shirt, and he called me from the store to ask where it was shelved.  And, Tom just opened it when he was home this week for R&R to celebrate an early Christmas.

I am almost done with Christmas shopping, and I just packed all the gifts for our trip to South Carolina later this month.  Thought I would share some unique gifts that I've seen or bought this year if you are trying to finish your shopping or are stuck on ideas. 

They have some unique gifts, especially for wine lovers.

Every girl should have a Vera Bradley bag... a cosmetic bag, a duffel or some cute bag in their whimsical prints.

My very talented sister in law, Patti, does silhouettes, pencil sketches and more.  Check it out!  Perfect if you have kiddos or need a gift for Grandma and Grandpa!

Some super cool stuff.

I love make up, even if I don't wear a ton of it.  A girl can never have enough lip glosses or luscious lotions.  Plus you get three free samples with every order.  YAY!

Okay, enough fun websites.  Couple of other ideas for gifts:  car detailing (it makes you love your car all over again when it's super clean), locally made ornaments (Cabin Fever in Anchorage has the best), down booties from REI (they aren't just for winter camping), SmartWool socks from Title Nine (http://www.titlenine.com/, they have unique patterns), SkHoop insulated skirts (http://www.skhoop.us/, now available in pink underside), and practical gifts like pretty dish towels that match the kitchen.

One last handy tip for you cybershoppers like me.  Before you buy something on a website, open a new tab and google the store name and coupon code.  Example:  Eddie Bauer Coupon Code.  Chances are, there will be a coupon code for a discount or a coupon code for free shipping.  I used that trick at Snapfish.com and found free shipping for my Christmas Cards this year!  This tip is courtesy of my former co-worker, Kelly Laipenieks, one of the most efficient shoppers out there.

Since I started out the post talking about my Mother, here's a pic of her goofing off with The Blue Man Group (in Las Vegas).  Happy Shopping!