Monday, April 28, 2014

Washington Getaway!

I have a dear friend in Washington. Carol and I met in college when we pledged the same sorority our freshman year.  We were both new believers and the Lord really drew us to each other.  We both lived in Glendale so we carpooled together in her little Karmann Ghia.  We got married about a year apart and Drew and her first, Sarah, were born very close together.  Ever since, our friendship has continued to grow and even though she has lived in Washington for over 20 years now, we have remained as close as ever.  She is so, so special to me.   Her daughter even remarked that though our lives are very different today we are so similar (I'm an empty nester and she still has 7 kids at home! She actually has 8 but one is married) We see eye to eye on pretty much everything you can imagine -- from deep spiritual beliefs down to the smallest detail such as kitchen pantry items!  We really have a great time together --we have a lot of laughs but a lot of heart to heart talks, too.  She encourages me by not only by her example, but in many tangible ways.  I have great admiration and love for her.

Recently, Rich told me he had a business trip and I happen to see an ad for cheap Southwest flights.  A little light bulb went off in my head --- maybe I should fly up and see her?   I shot her off a quick email to basically invite myself, and she immediately responded, "are you kidding.... YES!"   So I booked it and last week flew up for 3 nights to stay with her and her sweet family.

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I loved waking up each morning to this view from my guest room in the basement.
They live on 5 acres of wooded beauty about 1 1/2 hours north of Seattle.

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I happened to come at a great time as they had a one week old baby kinder goat.  It was so cute and loved to snuggle!  Here I am getting in on the 6 am milking and feeding!!

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Here, Carol's adorable daughter Hannah doing the morning milking.

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Son Matthew snuggling baby Ka'anapal'i 
(most of their goats are named after beaches, a nod to their love for the sea)

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Attempting to feed baby.  
She ended up having to go back with her mama as she didn't bottle feed well.

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Here are baby and mama --- so adorable!!

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Though I was perfectly content to hang out at "the farm" Carol planned a sweet excursion to neighboring town Snohomish for the two of us.  She took me for lunch at the cutest place that had all kinds of crepes and of course, wonderful lattes.   We ate and chatted for a good long time, and it was glorious. 

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I'm normally not a huge fan of savory crepes but O MY this one was AMAZING.  Scrambled eggs, bell peppers, mushrooms, green onions with a basil cream sauce on top.  SO good!

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And of course we had to get a sweet crepe -- this one had Nutella and bananas. DELISH.

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Somehow lattes just taste better to me in Washington!  
{Especially ones made from fresh goat milk at Carol's-- what a treat!}



The cute town of Snohomish.   I loved all the adorable boutiques and antique stores.  I even found a tiny treasure to bring home -- a pyrex butter dish in my favorite pattern Butterprint (the one my mom had).



The shops are all on this picturesque river.

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Back home, we had lots of fun working in the kitchen together.  Feeding a family her size is so foreign to me but it was very fun!  Blurry selfie.  :-)

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Two of the "littles"  Ellie and Abbie.  I love these sweet and affectionate girlies! We played lots of card games.

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And this "selfie" of us playing in the girls' room includes the youngest, Mary.  She charmed me to pieces.  She would come hug me, and then look me in the eye and say "what yo name again?"  :-)

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This girl can not only milk a goat, but has mad homemaking skills!!  Here she is making homemade yeast doughnuts for us one evening.   Hannah, you rock!!

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Brother Daniel is happy to help frost the delicacies!  I also had lots of fun playing Lego Minataur with this awesome kid!

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Homemade doughnuts are just a beautiful thing.



Shaking some cinnamon sugar ones ... and maybe eating some as I go...

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Eating lots of donuts and quoting Napoleon Dynamite -- so fun!

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Farewell hugs for me as it's time to return home to Rich.  Our time together went by so fast.
{P.S. Does this look like a woman who has had 8 kids??  I mean, seriously --is she not gorgeous?!)



LOVE this girl.   I seriously wish I could have brought her home with me.  She is the sweetest--even packed me some doughnuts to go for my suitcase!!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What we do for tomatoes

The things we do for tomato plants...

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First, we suffer through getting up early on Saturday morning to drive to Tomatomania in Ojai.
Due to being rushed, we EVEN have to eat breakfast in the car.
(Yogurt parfaits made with greek yogurt, homemade granola and fresh berries)

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We have to labor over decisions about which ones to buy
(and wait for friends to pick out their choices)

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We have to pose on scooters we are too afraid smart enough not to ride

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But we have to take LOTS of pictures of our husbands before they DID ride...

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We have to go olive oil tasting and bring these home

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Later, we have to eat at Boccali's with dear friends we've had for over 30 years...and on a day that they had their famous strawberry shortcakes (such suffering!)


(we did share these with our hubbies)



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Oh, the things we go through just to get a few tomato plants!!
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Birthday joy

Growing up, birthdays in my family were always special and well celebrated.   Maybe I'm still kind of a kid, but I get excited when it's my birthday and love to make it a special day.  It's a day to do something fun and out of the ordinary, and share good times with those I love the most.

My sister and I have a fun tradition of spending our birthdays together.   We start early in the day and finish late in the afternoon!   The day always includes lots of yummy food, coffee, shopping, and often even a pedicure.  We chat all day -- such a fun sister time. 

Yesterday was my birthday and not only was I excited about the summer like weather, but I was greeted & treated by Suzanne in the morning with a coffee and croissant from my favorite bakery!  Then off we went!  We spent the morning leisurely strolling through clothes racks at multiple stores, then had dumplings for lunch at the famed Din Tai Fung, shopped some more and finished the day with some ice cream water-side at the Americana and a visit to Emma's apartment.   

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My fave girls

 

Juicy Pork Dumplings -- works of art.

 

Our favorite -- Haagen Dazs.  We even pick the same flavor - coffee chip.  :-)

My wish for the evening was to have my fab four over and eat one of my faves -- Zankou Chicken.   Stephanie picked up some Princess Cake from Berolina, and other goodies for dessert.  It was a great time.

Here's a few pics we got.   We always have to take about 10 pictures before Drew will act normal.

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It starts simply with him doing this weird expression he always makes.  
We all smile normal then realize he's goofing off... again.
 


Then he gets us all laughing.  I look like an alien here (and I'm not sure about Emma's hand)
Notice Drew is still doing the weird expression thing.  He's committed.


 Then FINALLY, after many failed attempts, and us threatening him that we will keep trying UNTIL we get a decent shot, he gives in and smiles normally.  By then we are all exhausted! 


I'm also remembering my mom today, on HER birthday, April 9th.  She would have been 72 today but she left us way too soon at age 63.   I love you and miss you Mom!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WDW -- A healthy treat

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When I saw this coconut almond fudge recipe recently on a blog, I knew I needed to try it.

I'm a HUGE coconut fan & almond butter fan -- so I knew this would be a winner in my book.

The recipe called for an ingredient I had never used -- coconut butter.  So I tracked some down and made these right away (I have since discovered that coconut butter is delicious in my oatmeal and is pretty delicious just by the spoonful!).

I modified the recipe by melting some chocolate chips (I like the soy-free, dairy free kind) and pouring a little on the bottom of the mold (I just used my non-stick mini muffin pan).  I froze them for about 10 minutes.

Then I mixed the fudge together and poured that on top.  I chilled the fudge for a couple of hours, then popped them out of the pan.  
 

These are such good little morsels -- very satisfying when you want to eat healthier but crave a little something sweet.  I venture to think that these could be made with peanut butter too, they might taste like a Reese's!  Yummy!

Coconut Almond Fudge

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almond butter (I use raw, smooth)
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 2 T real maple syrup
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
Instructions
  • In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients.
  • Stir on medium-low heat until everything is combined.
  • Pour into molds (or mini muffin pan) and store in the fridge to set. 
  • Makes about a dozen pieces.  Keep refrigerated.

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