Thursday, November 29, 2012

Staycation 2012

Todd and I usually take a week of vacation each year, to some place like Hawaii. This year we didn’t schedule a vacation to Hawaii, so we decided to take Thanksgiving week off for a “staycation”. We did go to Phoenix to spend a couple of day s with family, but the rest of the time we did fun stuff in San Diego.

On Saturday night 11/17, we went to the Lyceum Theater downtown to see our friend Jane Lui in “John Doe The Musical”. 
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The Lyceum Theater is at the Horton Plaza downtown, so we got to see the mall lit up for the holidays.
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After the show, we waited for Jane to come out.
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The show was a bit strange, but the performances and singing were good.
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On Monday 11/19 we went out to Big Kitchen Cafe for breakfast. We had been there once before, but it was a long time ago. They have a wall full of photos of people and celebs who love the place.
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They also have a drawing of celebrities who frequent Big Kitchen. If you could name them all correctly, you get to eat for free.
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I had corned beef hash, homefried potatoes, and scrambled eggs. It was delicious.
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Todd’s not a breakfast food kind of guy, so he had a sandwich.
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After Big Kitchen, we went to the San Diego Zoo nearby. We have annual passes so it’s fun to just stop by the world famous zoo for a few hours. We saw many animals. Like this orangutan.
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This gorilla thinks he’s a thinker!
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If you ever wondered what gorilla feet look like, this is it.
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These two river otters cracked us up.
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Somehow the tigers were active during the day too.
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We saw this meerkat, but he did not have a manor. Oh, this reminds me, one of the most unique experiences of our lives was getting to visit a meerkat sanctuary
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After the zoo, it was time for an early dinner nearby. We hadn’t been to Mama’s Bakery in a LONG time, and it’s our favorite Lebanese food in San Diego.  I forgot to mention… the sky was SO blue that day. The weather was amazing. 
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We shared a beef and chicken shwarma plate. Yum!
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That night, Noodle cuddled up on Todd’s lap for a nap. He thought it was staycation time too!
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On Friday night 11/23, Todd decided to make some chocolate candy buckeyes for our annual rivalry game against Michigan on Saturday. This is our biggest game of the year every year, but even more so this year because we can’t go to a bowl game, and we had been undefeated up until now.

Lots of mixing going on.
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The candy center is a mix of peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar.
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Then rolled into balls.
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Some Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips being melted.
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The finished Buckeyes after being dipped in chocolate. No, we didn’t eat them all. We brought them to work on Monday morning!
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And it was sort of a close game, but Ohio State won and is undefeated for the season!
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Too bad they can’t go to the BCS National Championship game due to NCAA sanctions this year. :(

To celebrate the win, Todd and I went to Santouka ramen on Saturday for lunch.
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On Sunday Todd set up my old PC upstairs in my craft studio, so I can use it with my Silhouette and cut stuff for crafting in the craft studio, instead of going back and forth downstairs to upstairs. (My main computer is in our office downstairs.) Noodle likes to hang out in the craft room too. He does “Projekt Catlife”. :p
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Oh and I sewed up some holiday cards and made progress…
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And I made t-shirts for our annual Elf Party.
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More details to come on both of those.

So that was our staycation. I wish it lasted longer. I was sad on Sunday night that I had to go back to work on Monday!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Comfort Foods

Todd and I have established a tradition of celebrating each other’s accomplishments with a night out at a favorite restaurant. It’s something that we both look forward to. The week before Thanksgiving, I had to present some financials to an auditor during our annual audit at work. It’s something I never look forward to, and I’m always happy and relieved when it’s over. So Wednesday (11/14) night, after my financial presentation went well at work, we went out to have dinner at Urban Solace, our favorite modernized American comfort food. 

I always think that the big mural of Will Farrell’s Anchorman behind the bar is so funny.
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Todd got the Farro Sauté with creamy farro, veggies, smoked tomatoes, and grated parmesan.
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I got the chicken & dumplings, which I also got on my birthday.
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Afterwards, we walked over to Heaven Sent Desserts and got a couple of slices of cake. We got the chocolate trinity cake.
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And the pumpkin spiced cake.
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Both were delicious, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be the chocolate trinity cake. Of course, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, so much of the pumpkin spice cake had to go home with us for the next day.

Another one of our favorite comfort foods is chili. Todd makes a great chili using the All-American Chili recipe from Cooking Light. We made that chili on Sunday 11/18 and brought it over to our friends AJ & Meera’s place to eat and watch the Chargers game together. Chargers lost, but the chili kept us warm. Here are all the spices and dry ingredients going into the chili.
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And the chili cooking on the stove.
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As usual, I loved hanging out with AJ & Meera. You know you’re hanging out with good friends when you can totally be yourself and you feel super-comfortable sharing thoughts.
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Blessed with good food and good friends. Can’t ask for much more. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Todd and I took this past week off work for a short staycation and a road trip to Phoenix to spend a couple of days with family. It’s now Sunday night and I’m not sure where the week went! I wish I had another week off!

We left for Arizona on Wednesday morning. The drive over was almost exactly 6 hours, with a stop for lunch in El Centro. Wednesday night’s dinner was at Todd’s cousin Kathleen’s house in Gilbert, AZ. She had a nice spread of chili, cheesy potatoes, chicken noodle soup, and two salads. Lots of food for everyone. And by everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Todd’s mom’s sister Charlsie is already a great-grandma! She has three daughters and they have 11 children combined, and some of them have babies too. So the house was crowded with lots of people.

Before last week, Todd had announced to his parents that he was going to make his Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake for Thanksgiving. Somehow this chocolate cake took on a life of its own, and everyone was anxious to see it and taste it. Todd and his mom Sylvia were in the kitchen for a couple of hours making it!
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On Thanksgiving Day, we all got up early to participate in the Mesa Turkey Trot 10K Run. I haven’t run over 4 miles in a while, so I was curious to see if I could run it well. Almost the whole family ran/walked the 10K/6.2 miles! Here we were just arriving at the start line.
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This is me in the extra-long bathroom line before the race!
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I ran the 10K in 1:10:34. I had predicted 1:10 so I was pretty close.
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Todd, on the other hand, finished in 49:56 and set a PR for the 10K.
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After going back to the hotel to shower and clean up, we went to Aunt Charlsie and Uncle Dick’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. I forgot to take photos of the big spread. This was my plate. I tried not to overeat.
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Todd’s dad and Todd enjoying the Thanksgiving feast.
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After dinner we hung out in the backyard.
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Todd and his cousin Julie.
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We went back to Kathleen’s house so that we could eat the Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake! The bottom layer is flourless chocolate cake. Middle layer is chocolate mousse. Top layer is white chocolate mousse. Everyone loved it! In fact, they didn’t bring it over to Aunt Charlsie’s house because they didn’t want the kids to eat it all, LOL!
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On Friday morning we had breakfast with Todd’s parents at the hotel before leaving for our drive home. They had a Christmas tree made of tumbleweeds at the hotel! Todd and his dad thought it was pretty cool.
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Todd’s parents posing in front of the tumbleweed tree.
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The top of the tree. (Yes, the sky was very blue in Arizona.)
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The hotel we stayed at.
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We drove home and it took almost exactly six hours again. With lots of views like this, in the middle of nowhere.
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Guess who was so happy to have Todd home? Noodle.
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