Friday, October 29, 2010

Two for two on Shoes

Dave found this at Gayle's Chocolates in Michigan. A chocolate shoe! Was there any more perfect gift for me?! And it's even pink!

And while we're on the subject of shoes, I am so proud of him. He played in a golf tournament last month and the players got to design their own golf shoes, which were then custom made. They arrived this week. The man has good taste -- black, white and red patent Oxfords with a monogram of his daughters' initials.

He's two for two. Not that we keep score.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My newfound love: Mason Jars

Something peculiar has happened: I've developed a fetish for Mason jars.

I bought them in three sizes: quart, pint and half pint. The pint and half pints are wide-mouthed. First I put some sand in the quart-sized ones and added votive candles then lined the steps up to the front door with them. The light over our front door has been out forever and I don't have a ladder tall enough to change the bulb. I must get over that soon as it's getting dark earlier and earlier.

Then I progressed to storing oven roasted tomatoes in them. And grated Parmesan cheese. The real kind from Parma.

Next I put all my makeup brushes in some.

We've used them as glasses.

And the kids took some to organize their Silly Bandz.

In time I will give thought to each of the 527 comments that have appeared on Ree Drummond's post about Mason jars. The above photo is hers.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Preggo and The Little Pear

Although you can't tell from this picture, Ellie is very pregnant. It's Baby #3.

She, Paige, Sylvie Paige and I had lunch at The Little Pear Wednesday and I surprised her with a baby blanket.

The Little Pear was yummy; it's the same chef as The Peasant and the Pear, and The Peasant's Courtyard. I recommend the fried artichoke hearts with aioli.

Ellie was very surprised. That made me happy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Miraval.

I just love this place, which is north of Tucson in Santa Catalina foothills. Neeracha and I hiked and saw the sun come up over Mt. Lemmon. We sat by the pool, napped, read and downed addictive mint lemonades. We painted. I climbed. She mountain biked. We had massages and more massages. I had a pedi. Blue. We slept in. Zip lined. Star gazed. We read some more. We shopped. We kick boxed and cardio drummed. She did Yoga. I swam. We met some interesting people. We read The New York Times at breakfast and ate way too much. At least I did.

I like the silence at Miraval. The way you notice your surroundings. The Southwest-style buildings and quiet room in the spa with the lounges that lure you to sleep. The food chain is alive and well at Miraval. We saw quite a few bugs -- grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and they were all huge. Measured in inches. Welcome to Jurassic Park. Here and there on the grounds were iron animal sculptures in odd sizes. The rabbits were taller than me and the frolicking horses were three-quarter size. I liked the rabbits the best.

About that food. Sauced proteins. Interesting salads, green, fruit and whole grain. Teeny tiny desserts. Soups. Lots of seasonings and lots of colors. Choices and more choices. Beautiful presentation. Gracious service. All inclusive.

It's healthy but only if you eat in moderation. My favorite food story took place at our dinner on the last night. The waiter presented the dessert menu and I ordered chocolate mousse, ice cream with caramel sauce and two cheese plates. The waiter then looked at Neeracha and said, "And for you?" We burst out laughing because it was obvious to us both that I'd ordered for us both. His response? "Some people do order that much dessert for themselves." Oy! I was bad but not that bad.

Flying home was a comedy of errors. I ended up on the last leg standby, which was complicated by the rain in LA. It never rains in LA. We'd parked the car at the San Jose Airport at 5:30a the previous Thursday and I'd counted on Neeracha remembering where we'd left it. Unfortunately finding the car became my problem alone since we ended up on different flights and it was my car. The shuttle driver was kind enough to drive me up and down the aisles of long-term parking until I found it. Funny in hindsight. Miserable in reality.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Slow down.

Eldest Daughter and I volunteered at the Open Heart Kitchen this afternoon. The kitchen is located in a senior community and we served the low-income residents a hearty dinner and then scrubbed that kitchen until it shined.

Boy those people move slow. They walk slow. They eat slow. They talk slow. It was a great place to learn restaurant skills. No pressure whatsoever. And it forced us to get off the light speed conveyor belt we ride if just for a few hours.

I guess I left my Miraval Zen mindset at Miraval. Bummer.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mmmm Miraval

Neeracha and I are at Miraval this weekend. It's essentially sleep away camp for adults in the mountains outside of Tucson.

This is my third trip here in ten years; it's Neeracha's fourth. It feels a little indulgent but it is pure heaven: plush accommodations with fluffy beds, low-calorie, low-fat food gourmet food, five star service, and fitness and well-being classes from 7a to 10p.

I'm not the most adventurous person in the world so I was really proud of myself for Ziplining. We walked to the challenge course then climbed up a telephone pole to a platform 50' in the air. I really wanted to stop and look out from the midpoint but then I was afraid I'd not get moving again. The scariest part is stepping off the platform. Fortunately no one else in our group wanted to go first so I didn't overthink it too much and just went. I screamed like a banshee the whole way down but gosh, it was an huge adrenaline rush.

In true Miraval style we had to discuss how we felt about it afterwards. Blah blah blah. This picture is of me and Neeracha at the top of the platform. Note my death grip on the yellow strap attaching my harness to the wire.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Redd

Dave and I drove up to Yountville Monday evening and had dinner with Fabio at Redd. The Napa Valley isn't far from here and often, when we have a nice dinner in the city, we ask ourselves why we didn't just go to Napa instead.

Yountville's main drag, Washington Street, has several well regarded restaurants on it: Bouchon, Redd, Ad Hoc, Bistro Jeanty, the French Laundry. My goal is to get to the three I have not yet been to.

Richard Reddington's Redd is a Michelin one star. It's less formal than the other one star's we've been to and the food was very good. The decor is contemporary and minimalist. White walls. Some wood. Lots of glass. An outdoor fireplace.

I had an incredible Burrata and tomato salad followed by gnocchi with lamb Bolognese. Fabio had oysters on the half shell and skate with creamed corn, cherry tomato, haricot vert salad and basil pistou. Dave had fois gras with stonefruit, pistachios, brioche then duck confit, lentils, foie gras meatballs and crispy spaetzle. The duck was especially good. Dessert was dark chocolate pot de creme, beurre noisette and warm beignets. I don't generally do dessert after a fancy meal because I am so stuffed. I need to work on this.

It was nice to talk pop culture, movies and books with Dave and with Fabio, who I've not seen much of since he moved to Napa. And it was also nice when the Giants won and we could stop sneaking peeks at our Smartphones.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My new favorite food.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes.

Incredible. I didn't think I liked them. I like tomatoes in many ways. Not ketchup but almost every other form factor.

My favorite meal right now is pasta with a few chopped oven roasted tomatoes, a smidge of their own oil to moisten it up, some fresh grated Parmesan and a bit of Fleur de Sel a la Truffe. Heaven!

Jill posted a recipe for these and I've made them three times. I'm so addicted that I am afraid I will run out before next year's tomato season and so I will make one more batch this weekend.

They take six hours in the oven and they make the house smell incredible. I especially like the crusty burnt bits of the tomatoes.

The thing is: two baking sheets of them barely fill a pint sized mason jar. Mason jars are my other new obsession.

Please do not come over and ask for any unless you are willing to trade a car or vacation home for them. I'm not willing to share.

Photo credit: Jill Appenzeller

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Walk & Bike Challenge

Thing 1 recently learned to ride a bike. Thing 2 is a pro. Dave and I got a tandem bike a few months back.

Our community has this challenge going on and today the four of us rode our bikes to school together. It's 2.5 miles, all downhill. And then Dave and I had to bike home. Fortunately he did most of the peddling.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Because my father does.

I had a pretty idyllic childhood. The mother that had a balanced meal on the dinner table each night. Some religion. A little brother for me to initially hate and then finally love. A good dose of adventure.

Some great things I learned from my father:
  • To respect and protect the environment.
  • To stop and smell the roses. This picture was taken at Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, BC, 1987.
  • To let a moose have the right of way.
  • To shoot a pistol, a .22 and a shotgun.
  • To ride horses.
  • To cross country ski.
  • To be active with causes that matter to you.
  • To take the road less traveled. How many of you have been through The Yukon?
  • To eat what you grow. I'm still working on that one. The green thumb must have gone to that aforementioned brother.
  • To drive a five speed.
Thanks Dad!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tulips

I'm not sure what it is about tulips but they've long been my favorite flower. Yellow especially. They are simple and elegant and their season is not nearly long enough. Like Girl Scout cookies, they're around briefly for my birthday.

When I was a child my father did a series of photographs of red tulips. The most stunning of them is taken of the inside of a tulip. Did you think I'd remember this, Dad?

The dining tables at Ilona's wedding had high vases of enormous white tulips. I remember the tulip centerpieces; everyone else probably remembers the endless vodka.

Neeracha brought me back a tulip vase from a trip she did to the Netherlands way before either of us had kids. She also brought me back tulip bulbs, which I temporarily froze in a Ziploc bag and labeled: Tulips - do not eat. To this day Dave teases me about this.

Someday I will see the Keukenhof in the Netherlands and the Skagit Valley Festival in Washington State. In the meantime I will keep going back to Kathy's vacation pictures and be grateful that she let me use this image for my header.