Sunday, October 30, 2011

100 Years in the Making

This past weekend we celebrated my grandma's (Grammy) 100th Birthday! Yes, she is an official centurion. Grammy is the first person I've known to make it to 100! So proud to have her as my grandmother.
Grammy was born on October 27, 1911. It is amazing to think about how much of our nation's history she has lived through and remembers first hand. She has definitely been through a lot in her own life, and like most, didn't think she would live to see 100. Grammy loves her family more than anyone I know and takes such pride in her two daughters, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren (with the 8th due in May). She attributes being surrounded by her loving family as one of the ways she made it to 100. She also gives credit to drinking coffee, staying away from doctors, and having a daily happy hour (vodka cranberry is Grammy's drink of choice).
Grammy's four grand-daughters toasting Grammy with a vodka cranberry!

Grammy is truly one of the strongest women I have met. At age 100, she still lives by herself in the home she had built when she was 80 years old! Maybe she did know she had many years ahead of her! I have many memories in this house of hers...
Grammy spends her days watching sports on her 60'' flat screen. We always come visit her for her birthday in October, and it never fails that she has one of the college games on when we walk through the door. She still follows sports to this day.

About ten years ago when Grammy hit 90 and was still going strong, we began to talk about her making it to 100. As each birthday after that came and went, we encouraged her all the more to keep going strong. And she kept going and hit triple digits. On her birthday, she received a letter from the president, a letter from Willard Scott of the Today Show, and was featured in her local newspaper.
We had so much fun honoring Grammy and celebrating her life this weekend!
Happy 100th, Grammy! We love you!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SF Tourist

I love San Francisco. I would not want to live there, but I love going into the city. On Father's Day weekend, my parents, sister, and I went to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building. It was so fun! The weather was gorgeous, and it was great to walk around, sample yummy food, and enjoy the hustle and bustle. Jason was at a Dodger's game (boo) that day with his dad, so I've been wanting to go back with him for quite a while. Our weekends have been so busy though with bridal showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, family gatherings, or grad school for Jason, so we haven't had a free Saturday in forever. This past Saturday was one of the first free Saturdays we've had in months...and the last we'll have for weeks, so we wanted to make the best of it. Plus, Jason is in between terms for grad school, so he didn't have any homework to do this weekend. Yay!

A few weeks ago we marked October 22nd as our fun day. We planned to go into the city and just explore. I, of course, had a few things on the agenda: Farmer's Market, Coffee Bean, Gott's for lunch, Land's End Trail...Well, we got all of that in, plus more. The weather was on our side...October is definitely the city's summer. Such a pretty day.
We sampled lots of yummy goodies at the Farmer's Market and enjoyed great burgers and sweet potato fries at Gott's for lunch.

Jason works for Ross Corporate, and they just opened a store at Fisherman's Wharf, so we did a little store visit there.
We then played SF tourist and started driving...drove through North Beach, then down Union Street (so cute), down to Crissy Field, then through the Presidio to the Land's End Trail.

Jason proposed on the Land's End Trail, but it was crummy weather that day, so we were excited to walk the trail on a clear day with a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
And, a day in the city wouldn't be complete without a stop at Coffee Bean and a stroll through Pac Heights. We had such a fun day exploring and enjoying the beautiful San Francisco weather!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Eat Around the World - Chile

Last weekend we had our first 'eat around the world' experience with some friends! We actually have friends that are as adventurous as we are when it comes to trying crazy cuisines!

Our friends, Brandon and Mary, actually found this restaurant themselves. We were super excited for Chilean food because it wasn't a cuisine we had on our list to try.

The restaurant was called Valparaiso (Yelp review here) and was in Berkeley (like most of the restaurants we have been to).
Right away, I loved the ambiance of the restaurant. It was probably one of the best that we've experience (Jason had to tell me to put my camera away).
Jason and I split two entrees. One was Pollo Bahia:boneless chicken thigh sautéed in coconut milk, tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, and white wine. Served with rice and black beans. This was extremely flavorful!
The other entree was Chorrillana: fried potatoes (french fries) tossed with onion, eggs, and beef sautéed in red wine. It actually tastes much better than it looks! It was kinda like an egg scramble...with french fries :)
We also got a side of fried plaintans, which were so good...(even though they look a little 'interesting')!
The four of us shared two desserts: Torta Milhoja (a Chilean specialty pastry layered with walnuts and caramel milk) and Nino Envuelto (a Chilean pancake stuffed with manjar -caramel milk). Both were very good, but the winner goes to the Torta Milhoja. Delicious!

All in all, we had a great time. Loved the ambiance and the food was good. I wouldn't say that the food is great the restaurant a 7 out of 10.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blue Angels Fail

On Sunday, I headed out to San Francisco with my parents and sister Elyse (Jason had grad school homework to do) to see the Blue Angels. I had never seen the Blue Angels, and my mom had talked up the show, so I was excited for the festivities.

Two years ago, my dad attempted to take his boat out on the bay to watch the Blue Angels. However, the water was so choppy that our boat felt like a roller coaster ride. It was a failed attempt to see the Blue Angels from the water, and we ended up having to turn around just a few minutes after getting on the water.

This time I was more hopeful. The weather was beautiful as we headed into the city, so we were excited for a good show. We were able to find a parking spot about a mile away from the Aquatic Center. The walk down was so fun because of the Columbus Day parade going on in North Beach.

We made it down to the Aquatic Center, right at 3pm for the start of the Blue Angels. First though, my sister and I did a quick stop at Buena Vista to get some Irish coffees. Yummy.

We got all settled in with the crowd, excited for the show to start. The Blue Angels did their first fly by...and then the announcer comes on and says that the show will be delayed about 5-10 minutes while they decide whether to proceed or not due to the weather.

Yes, that fog off in the distance was the concern. Blue skies above us...but fog on the other side of the Bay. We sat and waited, hoping the show would continue.

But, alas, it was canceled. We were so sad. Two and a half hours to get into the city...and no show. This was about as much of the Blue Angels as we saw..

My mom, who hates the city, was especially disappointed. Instead, we headed to the Ferry Building and walked around for a bit. Hoping next year is a better success!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Crock Pot Jambalaya

My sister Mel is hosting Crock-tober on her blog, so I decided to participate in my first blog 'link-up'!

This has been a big week for me domestically. I joined Pinterest, took my first cooking class (30 before 30), and used my crockpot for the first time (cause who really uses one in spring or summer?)!

Coincidentally, my cooking class made crock pot pulled pork the first week. However, I decided to go with a Pintererst recipe for jambalaya instead because Jason loves jambalaya. I am not really a fan, but I'm always hopeful that I'll like it...

The recipe was super easy (like all crock pot recipes). Here is what it calls for:

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound smoked turkey sausage, sliced (I used smoked chicken sausage)
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

3 Tbsp dried minced onion flakes

1 cup chicken broth

2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp cayenne pepper (I used about 1 1/2 tsp for an extra kick)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
*You can also add 1 cup of chopped green bell pepper and 1 cup of chopped celery for some crunch.
White rice or instant rice
(I used about 1.5 cups of Jasmine rice)

Mix everything together in the crock pot, except for the rice. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Cook the rice on the stove according to directions about 30 minutes before eating.

Add the rice in for about 15-20 minutes to heat through.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Eat Around the World - Indonesia

It had been over a month since we had tried a new ethnic cuisine, so last Friday we set out to explore a new country. We didn't really have anything in mind specifically, but we were thinking Asian. Both of us wanted Mongolian barbeque, but we weren't able to find a restaurant that looked really good.

We ended up deciding on Indonesian and headed to Jayakarta Restaurant in Berkeley (Yelp review here). The restaurant was really crowded, and we were excited for some new flavors.

We ordered four entrees, all of which were very different. For noodles, we ordered mie tek-tek: egg noodles sauteed with fried eggs, strips of chicken, vegetables, and spicy sauce. This was by far our favorite! So flavorful!

A yelp review we read said that the satays were good, so we ordered the assorted sate with chicken, pork, beef, and shrimp. They are basically like kabobs with a peanut sauce on the meat. These were probably my second favorite item.

For one of our main dishes we went the chicken route and ordered ayam panggang bumbu rujak. Say what? According to the menu, this is barbequed chicken marinated in their special gravy of peanut and coconut milk sauce. This item was almost too flavorful for me - too strong. I felt like I was eating potpourri. Also, the chicken was not boneless, so it was kinda a pain to eat over rice.

Lastly, we ordered babat goreng kecap: beef deep fried and crispy, then sauteed in sweet soy sauce. This was a big disappointment. When we read deep fried and crispy, we thought there would still be some beef left. Wrong. The beef had been fried to crispy strips of...crispy strips. There was literally no meat left.

All in all, we gave the restaurant a seven (good). It was not amazing, but we enjoyed most of what we ate and would go back. The noodles by far blew everything else out of the water!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chronicles of Narnia

My summer activity list included reading all seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. This was something I put on my 30 before 30. Since I grew up in the church, I think people were shocked to hear that I hadn't read the Chronicles of Narnia. I'm simply not into fantasy. But, I had seen movie The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and since I enjoyed it, I thought I would also enjoy the book series.
Wrong. One word sums up my 'attempt' to read The Chronicles of Narnia...FAIL. I couldn't do it. I started the series the first week of summer with the first book, The Magician's Nephew. It definitely started slow for me, but towards the end, I enjoyed it because of all the symbolism of creation and sin.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was probably my favorite read...most likely because I had seen the movie, knew the story line, and had an idea of where everything was going. There was tons of spiritual symbolism, and I loved the image of Aslan as God and Redeemer.

The third book, The Horse and His Boy, was just no good. I could not get into this book. I dreaded reading it. It took me a few weeks to make it all the way through. I think I had such a bad taste after this book, that it tampered my experience for the rest of the endeavor.

When I started reading Prince Caspian, I was glad to see the original characters reappear. I felt like I started to get back into the story...but that didn't seem to last long. I struggled through this book, and by the time I finished it, I was depressed that I still had three more books left in the series.

I am stubborn though, and I was determined to read all seven books because...well, I had said I wanted to read the series before I turned 30. So, I picked up The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and started reading away. By this point, school was about to start back up, I was busy, and the time between readings began to become longer and longer. It took me close to a month to get through this book, which made it hard to get into.

Five down, two to go. I can do it. I started The Silver Chair, got about 50 pages in, and finally said, "I quit." I was so tired of dreading the book that I was reading. The whole point of my 30 Before 30 is to do things I'm excited about, and if I'm no longer excited about doing something on my list, then I shouldn't keep doing it.

The Chronicles of Narnia just wasn't for me. Too much fantasy and description. I'm too ADD to follow it. I did enjoy the spiritual symbolism, but not enough to read the last two books.

I have officially moved on and decided to go the classic route soon. I just bought two Jane Austin books (since reading some classics is on my list). But, before I tackle that, I'm going to spend some time reading a few books that I have been looking forward to reading for some time. I just started The Help and am loving it so far. It's great to read a book that I don't want to put down.