Friday, April 11, 2014

Mike's Surprise Day Trip

I should start by saying that we have been watching Bates Motel. It's really good, and the cute little boy from Finding Neverland is grown up now and plays Norman Bates. I was curious where they filmed (the show is set in Oregon), and it turns out they film in and around Vancouver, BC, which just so happens to be a two hour drive from where we live. And then I happened upon this. They built a replica of the motel right over the border, and it's right on the side of the road!

So an idea began formulating: a little day trip. And because we almost never do anything super romantic or surprising for each other, I thought it would be fun to plan the day for Mike. I told him that I had a day trip planned, and we could go whenever. 

Well whenever turned out to be Sunday. Mostly because I really wanted to go, and if I had to wait any longer, I would tell him where we were going.

So we hit the road, and we headed north. The direction was sort of a giveaway for our first stop. Mike went to college at Western Washington University in Bellingham, just before the Canadian border. He has only been back a handful of times, so I thought that would be a great place to stop for lunch. 

We went to his favorite brewery, Boundary Bay. He had the saison, I had the scotch ale.

Nash had the ice water...

And it would have been silly to go to Boundary Bay and not walk the 3 blocks to Mallard Ice Cream. Mike had heath bar. I had coconut chocolate chip with almond and dark chocolate orange. Because I'm worth it.

Then it was time for the main event. I dramatically pulled out our passports. Well, Mike's and my passports and Nash's birth certificate. He doesn't have a passport yet. :)

We passed through the border crossing, and literally 4 minutes later, driving down a road in the middle of nowhere, we see this!

See the little Hitchcock in window?
Since they aren't currently filming, everything is boarded up, but it was still neat to see!

Our next stop was Stanley Park! It's way over on the northwest corner of Vancouver, but we had never been before, and have always wanted to check it out. We didn't know much about it, just that people like it. It was HUGE! It was dense forest that opened up onto several gorgeous beaches. There are beaches in Seattle, but the sand isn't amazing. This beach was so clean, the sand was so nice, there were lots of pretty shells, and it wasn't crowded at all.

And some babies LOVED the sand!

Our next stop was Granville Island. We walked through the public market, which is sort of like an indoor farmers market with stalls and stalls of fruits and vegetables, pastries, and hot food.

We also hit up the Granville Brewery where we tasted six different beers including a honey lager and a maple cream ale. Yum!

Then we headed home. Of course we had to stop here for dinner on our way back...

It was really fun to get away for the day, and Nash is old enough now that he eats people food, naps less, and enjoys doing new things. Just going to the beach and seeing him enjoy the sand for the first time was really fun. Hopefully we'll do it again soon!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

March Pizza of the Month: Breakfast

I think people in the 90's felt a lot smarter than we do now. If you came up with a genius idea, you got to think that nobody had ever thought of it before.

Like, when I was a kid, I thought I invented this hairstyle.

What's that? It's just a person with their hair tucked behind their ears? I DIDN'T invent that? Don't worry, approximately one week after I "created" this genius hair do, a catalog arrived at our house. The woman on the cover had her hair just like this. Bubble burst.

But for one week, I thought I was pretty cool.

We wanted to make a breakfast pizza. I have had versions of this before: most involved cracking an egg onto a bacon and cheese pizza, and when it came out of the oven, the yolk was still nice and runny.

Problem: runny egg yolks are disgusting. #nooffense

So, I knew there would be scrambled eggs.

Then I had the GENIUS idea to use a waffle as the crust! I did it! I came up with a totally original, never been done before breakfast pizza! Yay me!!! I'm awesome!!!

I decided to Google it. Just to be sure. Just to revel in my creativity when I saw zero search results for "breakfast pizza on a waffle".

Womp womp. Bubble burst.

Oh well, it was still delicious!!!

Here it is, breakfast pizza... on a waffle.

- waffle: I used a mix and stirred in herbes de provence and shredded cheese before putting it in the waffle iron
- spicy maple butter: mix together a pat of butter with a splash of maple syrup* and a dash of cayenne
- two eggs, scrambled
- two strips of bacon, crumbled
- shredded cheese

We spread the maple butter on the hot waffle, topped it with the egg, cheese, and bacon, then put it under the broiler for a minute to melt the cheese. It was amazing!

*I am not a food snob. I will happily eat things like Costco hot dogs or Wendy's hamburgers and buy lots of generic brands, but I refuse to buy fake maple syrup. Real syrup all the way, baby.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Nash: One Year

On Sunday, our baby turned one! In some ways, it has felt like the longest year ever, and in other ways, it has absolutely flown by.

We celebrated the day before with Aunts Hannah, McCayla, and Aaron; Uncles Mike, John, and Tom; and Nash's new baby cousin Olive. We had Mexican food (Nash loves a good burrito bowl) and banana cake. Unfortunately three teeth coming in at once and trying to do cake right before nap time made for a not super happy kid, but that's ok. :)

March 16, 2013
8lbs 11oz • 20 inches • likes sleeping and eating

March 16, 2014
26lbs 5oz • 32 inches • like his cars, knocking things over, opening cupboards

We are so grateful to have had the last year with him and look forward to the ones to come. We love this little boy!

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Quick Trip to San Francisco

Family vacation success! We spent three nights in San Francisco because Mike had two days of sick time to burn before March 14th, and there were some great flight deals. So we booked a last minute trip, and we managed to hit (almost) everything on our to do list!

Mike was born in San Francisco, but moved away at 18 months old, and hadn't been since he was in middle school. I went once in high school and once in college. Needless to say, there were still a ton of things that hadn't done there. We were mostly excited to eat our way through the city! We also got super lucky with weather. The whole week before it predicted that it would be low 60s and cloudy while we were there. It ended up being 70 and sunny the entire time!

So here we go.

12:30 pm: We landed and took the BART into the city where we checked into our hotel: Le Meridian. (Shout out to my dad for using points and suite upgrades to hook us up with an AMAZING room!) 
2:00 pm: We walked a few blocks to the Ferry Building and had burgers and beers at Gott's outside in the sun with some friends. The Ferry Building ended up being one of our favorite places, and we were so glad it was so close!
3:30 pm: Back to the hotel so Nash could take a quick nap.
4:30 pm: We walked around, saw downtown, and checked out Chinatown.
6:00 pm: Dinner at House of Nanking. We had dry braised green beans and sesame chicken. Yum!

7:00 pm: We picked up egg custard tarts from Golden Gate Bakery and beer from a grocery store. Then back to the hotel to put Nash to bed, and we enjoyed our beer and tarts while watching Bates Motel. That's how we vacation with a baby. :)

8:00 am: Walked to Coit Tower, which was closed, but still offered nice views of the city. Mike saw one of the wild parrots... I didn't.
9:00 am: Breakfast at Moe's. We tried to go to Mama's but the line was insane. Not worth it! And Moe's was really good! Excellent breakfast potatoes.
10:00 am: Nash naptime at the hotel.
11:00 am: Headed to Fisherman's Wharf. Saw seals.
12:00 pm: In-N-Out!
1:00 pm: ALCATRAZ! We were super excited for this, and it was so fun! You get great views from the ferry boat, then a really interesting tour. Definitely a highlight of the trip.
4:00 pm: We got off the ferry back from Alcatraz, and Mike and I split a sundae at Ghirardelli Square. Nash fell asleep in his stroller.
4:30 pm: Walked over to Lombard Street, and saw some more beautiful views!
5:30 pm: After a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up, we stopped at Miette in the Ferry Building to pick up dessert for later (banana cream tart and macarons, both were amazing!)
6:00 pm: Drinks at the Tonga Room. They turned the old swimming pool at the Fairmont Hotel into a tiki lounge bar and restaurant. Anthony Bourdain went there (I think on The Layover), and it made our "Must Do" list. They even had high chairs, so we didn't feel as trashy bringing Nash with us. Haha!
7:00 pm: Mediterranean food that we ate in our hotel room. We were all tired. :)

7:30 am: Grabbed pastries and sourdough bread from Acme Bread Co.
8:00 am: Picked up a rental car for the day and headed over the Golden Gate Bridge.

9:30 am: Nature walk through Muir Woods. The weather was amazing, and the redwoods were huge and majestic! Nash spent the whole time looking straight up. So precious.

11:30 am: We got back in the car and drove...
1:00 pm: to Napa! We stopped at Dean and Deluca and had a picnic on the grounds of the V. Sattui Winery.
1:45 pm: Wine tasting!
2:30 pm: Back to the city.
4:30 pm: Rest time at the hotel.
5:30 pm: Burritos in the Mission at El Farolito Taqueria.
6:15 pm: Walked around and saw some of the beautiful murals, grabbed a frangipane tart form Tartine, and walked by Mission Dolores.
7:15 pm: Back to the hotel. Bed time for Nash, tv and dessert time for Mike and I.

8:30 am: We walked around Union Square, grabbed a breakfast sandwich, and split a cinnamon roll biscuit from The Biscuit Bender.
11:00 am: After Nash took a quick nap, we took the train out to Haight-Ashbury. (If you watch Parenthood, this is where the Luncheonette is supposed to be. Is that embarrassing? I don't care.) I really wanted to try the ice cream at Bi-Rite, and we did! It was so yummy. We also got a sandwich and chips and "pink drink" there and took it to Alamo Square park for a picnic. Do you know what's in Alamo Square Park? It was our number one thing we wanted to see in San Fran...
The "Full House" house!!!!!!!! AKA the painted ladies!!!

We saved the best for last. And Mike even squeezed in a trip to a little bar that sells a certain beer that is super hard to find. I forget what it's called. Then it was back to pick up our luggage and we were off to the airport to head home.

We didn't make it out to Golden Gate Park, but as Mike said, we are just saving something for next time. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

February Pizza of the Month: Reuben

I know all three of you who read this blog have been worried about pizza of the month. We made this on February 28th, so we barely made it time. Phew.

February was reuben pizza. Probably one of the best sandwiches of all time. Rye bread, thousand island dressing, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and corned beef or pastrami.

Check out January's pizza for crust recipe links.

For this particular pizza, I mixed caraway seeds into the dough to make it taste like rye bread. Again, this pizza didn't really have sauce, but I sprinkled more caraway seeds on top of the crust after I pressed it into a sheet pan.

Then I layered chopped pastrami, sauerkraut, some very thin sliced swiss, and topped it all off with a little sprinkling of mozzarella and provolone. You know, to fill in the holes in the swiss...

It baked at 500° for 12ish minutes. While it baked I mixed up a little thousand island dressing to garnish. Sort of. I abhor mayonnaise. (If I am making Mike a sandwich and he wants mayo on it, I make him spread it himself. I'm a super mean wife.) So I mixed some plain yogurt with a little bit of ketchup, a very little bit of mustard, some chopped sweet pickle, paprika, cayenne, and pepper.

I used the rest of the 12 minutes to drink red wine and google the difference between pastrami and corned beef. Basically, pastrami is corned beef that is smoked.

pastrami : corned beef ::
bacon : pancetta ::
speck : prosciutto

Any and all of those analogies might be incorrect. There's no way to know. Unless we look it up, but I'm not going to.

Thanks for bearing with me through that, now go make some pizza!!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Packing Lists

I have a lot of things I want to say; a lot on my mind. 

But what I will say is that today we bought plane tickets. We leave in less than two weeks. So tonight I made lists. 

I love to make a packing list. Basically as early as I let myself get away with. I have a few little notebooks with days and clothes and food scribbled down. It's like a diary of each trip. What I wore, what we ate. 

But of course, I would always add a bunch of things that weren't on the list and end up again with a stuffed suitcase. 

Traveling for the past year has been different. We have Nash now. One extra person, but he can't carry his own suitcase. So I have learned to pare down. One less pair of shoes, two fewer shirts, leave that extra dress behind. 

We shave away the unnecessary, and we leave only what we need... And I haven't missed a thing. 

That's what has happened in my life too. His needs are urgent, mine aren't. My free time is full of laundry and work and dishes and bottles. What I want to do has become: what is best for him?

And in my heart. I have let friendships go that are more work than they are unconditional love. I have let go of grudges, let go of bitterness, let go of pride and feeling like I'm not worth it. 

My twin sister in law wondered out loud a while ago... what changes in them were from their loss, and what was simply the change you go though when you are a parent? 

I feel the same way. Have I let go of so much selfishness because I am a mom, or because I am Noah and Isaac's aunt?

I think both. I am eternally blessed to have had three special and precious little boys have such a profound impact on my life in the last twelve months. 

My life is simpler now, this pared down day to day, but it is most definitely more full. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

January Pizza of the Month: Chicken Fajita

Let's lighten things up. With pizza. So not literally, figuratively. Yeah, there is serious sad stuff happening, but there is lots and lots of great stuff too. So here is some middle of the road pizza talk for you.

We make pizza a few times a month. It's a great way to stretch leftover meat or vegetables because you don't need a ton of it. We went to grab some beers on Friday, and on our way home I told Mike about the pizza I was going to make for dinner. He said, "Ooh, next time what if we do pastrami and sauerkraut?" And I said, "What about jalapeno popper pizza?" and by the time we got home, we decided to make one new pizza every month this year. It's kind of dumb, we just really like pizza, and a little challenge is good motivation to try some new things!

Sometimes I make Pioneer Woman's pizza crust recipe. Lately I have been back to this one. Although, I don't bother with the pizza peel and stone anymore. I just press it into a half sheet pan. It doesn't really matter. Also, I realized I was out of yeast in the middle of making the dough for this pizza, so I used baking powder and... it worked really well!

Here it is, Chicken Fajita Pizza.

You're welcome for the shadowy iPhone pic. And the globs of sour cream.

It went like this...
- press out the dough
- shake cumin, paprika, and chili powder over the dough (this is a sauceless pizza)
- sprinkle on some chicken (mine was leftover chicken that had been cooked in tomatillo salsa)
- add some thinly sliced onion and bell peppers
- top with Mexican shredded cheese
- bake at 500° for 14-16 minutes
- top with sliced avocados, spicy sour cream, and chopped jalapeno

PS- Avocado on pizza is a real game changer.

The End