Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stuff We Cooked + Noodle Antics

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Noodle says “hi” on International Cat Day on 8/8.

We cooked a couple of new dishes that are really good.  First up is this Beef Stir-Fry with Bell Peppers and Black Pepper Sauce.  It seriously was better than restaurant!  The beef was so tender and the texture was awesome.  The sauce was  perfect.

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We also made this Farro Salad with Asparagus, Sugar Snap Peas, and Tomatoes.  I went grocery shopping and had a hard time finding the farro.  I tried looking in the bulk grains section and couldn’t find it.  Finally the store clerk found it for me in the packaged grain/rice section.  It was Bob’s Red Mill organic farro.

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We also made homemade chocolate ice cream.  This is custard ice cream, it has egg yolks in it.  Super creamy and super-chocolatey!  After churning in the ice cream machine it looked like soft serve.

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Then we put it in a glass container and put it in the freezer.  It becomes real ice cream

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We invited our next door neighbors Fred & Annie over for chocolate ice cream one afternoon and they loved it! 

Here are the latest Noodle antics.  He climbed onto Todd’s recliner chair and squeezed himself onto Todd’s lap while Todd was reading.

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Belly up and flirting for pets.

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Sleeping at the front window, “guarding” the house!

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Jumping up onto a high shelf, trying to find treats.  We used to keep a bag of treats up there, but one day after work we found that he had jumped up there, batted down the bag, and chewed it open and ate a bunch of treats!  I guess he thought it was worth a try to see if there are still treats up there!

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Fun With Friends & Family

Over the last couple of weeks, we got to be social and hang out with some friends and family.  I’ve super-enjoyed it!  After a couple of weeks of alone time and me-time, it was time to socialize a little bit!

On Sunday 7/30 we cooked dinner at our friends AJ & Meera’s house and hung out.  Hadn’t seen them in a while and it was a blast!

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Todd made Spring Vegetable Pasta from America’s Test Kitchen.  It’s one of our favorite dishes and it’s so so good!

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On Sunday 8/6 (the day after we got back from Todd’s bike race at Big Bear), Todd went swimming in the ocean at Del Mar with the SD Tri Club at 8am.  He’s so dedicated!  (And in great shape!)  He swam for an hour, then ran another 2 miles immediately afterwards to test out his new tri suit.  In the meantime, I went to the beach at La Jolla Shores at 8:30 to meet up with my friend Sally and her kids. 

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OMG, I got to the parking lot there at 8:30 and there was NO parking left.  I had to find a nearby spot on the street.  By the time I left at 11am, there were just a ton of cars on the streets vulturing for a parking space as people were leaving.  Sally and I got asked multiple times by multiple cars, “Are you leaving?”.  Ugh.  (Typical of a beach day in San Diego during the summer.  This is why I prefer to go to the beach in the fall, winter, and spring!)

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The mountains and lakes on Saturday, and the beach on Sunday.  I love Southern California.  (Except for the excessive population.  But can’t blame people for wanting to live here!)

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Anyway, I had so much fun catching up and hanging out with Sally and her kids!  We alternated between the playground and the beach/water.  The weather was perfect and not too hot.  The sand was still cool. 

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Sally and I have been friends since 1982.  We met in middle school.  We lived in the same neighborhood.  We carpooled to middle school and high school.  It’s sort of amazing we live in the same city now.  I love her!

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On Monday 8/7 I went to lunch with my work girlfriends!  We usually celebrate our birthdays together every couple of months, but it had been March since we got together!

I actually wore a real outfit and did my hair and makeup, ha ha!  (Atypical of me on my leave of absence.)

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I put together some small gifts for the two birthday girls, Tina and Donyale.

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All of us at lunch at Waypoint Public!  Ah man, I don’t miss work at all, but I miss these ladies!  Had so much fun catching up with them.  They asked me how my leave is going.  I said it’s the best weeks of my adult life!  I told them I may need more time before going back to work!  Smile with tongue out

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I had the Farmer’s Bounty salad and it was huge but SO good.  I brought half of it home.

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On Tuesday 8/8, I met up with Meera and her kids for lunch at In N Out Burger.  I got dressed again, ha!

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Man, I love Meera.  So thankful for our 15+ years of friendship!

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Yesterday (8/12) we drove up to Los Angeles to belatedly celebrate my dad’s birthday.  Man, I do not enjoy driving in LA traffic!  And I thought San Diego was getting bad! 

We had lunch at Earthen Restaurant.

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My dad & Shelly always know where the best Chinese food is in LA!

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After lunch, Shelly had choir practice.  Dad, Todd, and I went a few doors down to get some boba milk tea.

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Then we went back to the house.  I was so surprised that my dad & Shelly got a second cat!  They had one cat already, and they just recently added a second cat.  This new cat, Tian Tian (means Sweetie in Chinese), is really such a sweetheart!  I found her sleeping next to my dad while he took an afternoon nap, LOL.  She already loves to snuggle next to him!

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It’s been a fun couple of weeks doing things with friends and family.  I can’t really believe that my leave is practically halfway over.  I’m thinking I need a little more time!  I told my dad & Shelly about my leave yesterday (aren’t parents always the last to know, ha!) and they fully support it.  They asked me if I want to go back to work.  I said no, I do not.  But yes, I probably should go back and work a few more years and save up some more money.  After working for 24 years straight without more than a week of break at a time, I am LOVING this non-work time SO MUCH.  I’ve had NO trouble at all adjusting to not working.  There wasn’t even any adjusting, LOL.  I just went straight into not working and it’s the greatest thing ever.  One thing I do want to point out is that this was always the end-game for me.  This is what I have been planning for!  I started saving money with my very first paycheck in 1993 and have never stopped, with the intent that I would never be beholden to a job or have trouble living a life without working.  We have always lived below our means and our paychecks, so that we could someday live a life without having to work.  That someday is getting closer and I’m very excited! 

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Torrey Pines Lodge & Wonderspaces

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In front of the “Sweet Spot” art installation at Wonderspaces.

Todd took the week off last week so we could have some staycation time in San Diego before going off to Big Bear for his Tour de Big Bear bike race.  We had a lot of fun together!  On Tuesday 8/1 we went to lunch at The Grill at the Lodge at Torrey Pines, and then went to the pop-up art exhibit Wonderspaces

The views at The Lodge were really awesome.  It’s right on the Torrey Pines golf course with a view of the golf course and the ocean.  The golf course hosted the 2008 US Open and will host it again in 2021.

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Todd had the hot smoked salmon plate.

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I had the Reuben sandwich.  It was very good!

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It was a slightly overcast and relaxing day.  Although not as relaxed as we would have liked, since we had tickets to Wonderspaces at 1:30pm.  We drove down to Mission Valley to see Wonderspaces, a temporary pop-up art installation. 

The entrance tunnel at Wonderspaces.

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We had some fun photo ops in front of the Sweet Spot, where thousands of colorful strings were hung up.

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And then Todd stood in front of Daydream V2.

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One of the cooler things was “Come Together”.  Come Together is a sculpture made of 2,165 precisely spaced wooden dowels that become pixels of an image from one vantage point.   The resulting image, a woman's fist, represents the strength of many working with common purpose. (Copied from the Wonderspaces website.)

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You can only see the fist from a certain vantage point.  If you see it from other angles, it doesn’t look like anything, just a bunch of hanging tabs.

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The ADA was cool too.  It’s an analog interactive installation inspired by Ada Lovelace, a pioneer of computer science. It is an interactive art-making machine, a helium-filled, membrane-like globe that is spiked with charcoals and floats freely in room, drawing on the walls.  You can go in and move the ball around and let it bounce.  The charcoal makes your hands REALLY dirty though.  Todd had to use a few of the provided wipes to wipe off his hands!

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There was an air dancer party outside and we had to participate!

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Wonderspaces was pretty cool!  If you live in San Diego, it’s worth checking out.  It’s a traveling show too, so maybe it will show up somewhere near you.

We did a few other fun things during our staycation…

Had lunch at Curry & More on Sunday 7/30.

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Had lunch at Bongiornos in Encinitas on Monday 7/31.

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We tried to go to Moonlight Beach but it was completely packed.  There was no parking in the lot or the streets.  So we went to Nytro where Todd tried on triathlon clothes.  Then we walked down the street to Swamis.

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Then Monday night we went to see Spider-man Homecoming.  I thought it was really fun!  I like a fun Spidey rather than a brooding Spidey.

On Wednesday 8/2 we took it easy.  Had lunch at Cenote Grill.  Todd was thrilled because he loves that place, and it’s not open on Sundays or Mondays. 

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I had a chicken salad.

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Then we packed up for our trip to Big Bear.  You can read more about our trip here and here.

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