Monday, November 30, 2009

Bainbridge and Brined Birds

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to everyone!

I love the holiday season. LOVE it. I love fall with the pumpkins and changing leaves and autumnal smells that pervade the air. Plus two major holidays occur at the end of November:

1. Thanksgiving and
2. Our Anniversary!

And both went rather well this year, thanks! Now we're onto Christmas and all the pinery and sugar cookie goodness that comes with it! We already have our tree up and decorations strewn about the place!

Let me give you a recap, though, staring with our Anniversary trip to Bainbridge Island.
Saturday morning Matt picked up his mom and dad, Beth and Dave, and brought them home for a waffle breakfast and visit before we headed out to the island. They were gracious enough to stay with Roy while Matt and I went back to OC this summer one more time, so they know the ropes around the house and with Roy.

This time sitting in our car waiting for the ferry we did NOT listen to the radio (see Morning Cup 3-30) and drain our batteries. We loaded onto the ferry and set out to explore the upper decks. Wowzers was it windy! Out on the bow it was all we could do to keep standing. You can kind of see in the pic I could lean into the breeze. I have a video of Matt trying to talk but all you could hear was the pounding wind!

We got to the island and shopped around leisurely for an hour or so. It was so relaxing not having to be anywhere at a certain time, just window shopping in high priced boutiques and enjoying being together. Finally we decided to mosey on over to the bed and breakfast we were staying at--Ashton Woods Retreat. Its a gay couple and their four golden retrievers who run this little cottage and a room in their loft and the reviews were we figured why not?

Pulling up we were greeted by Steve who took our bags and showed us the way. The cottage is up a winding path in the woods and completely surrounded by trees. Walking in there was a fire going, candles lit and music playing. A bottle of wine and a dozen roses was on the dining nook table and we were informed rather mischievously that "dinner had been taken care of." It turns out my mom had called and worked in collaboration with Steve to arrange dinner for us at Agate Place Cafe that was just off the island on the north end. Handing us the directions Steve took his leave and we opened the wine, sunk onto the memory foam-down topped mattress and melted into relaxed bliss.

When we were finally able to pull ourselves out of our Nirvana-state minds and decided we were hungry, we got ready to head out. I say get ready not in the sense that I just did my hair and spritzed on some See, since were were up a path and it was raining pretty hard, I had to wrap my head in a scarf, pulled on my waterproof boots, tucked my "cute shoes" in my jacket, then we grabbed the flashlight and headed out.

Dinner was divine. Awesome. Delicious. The owners (a lesbian couple...go figure) made us feel so warm and welcomed and took good care of us. We started with an appetizer of sausage and figs poached in Syrah...sounds interesting, right? Oh Lord. It was amazing. I would have had that for dinner if there had been any more! Then I saw duck on the menu. I've had duck at one place--Thai Kitchen where its fried and coconut-y and covered in curry and it's amazing. Life changing, almost. But this was grilled duck...and the owner said it was served "medium-rare." Just the words made me shudder but then I thought "Hey, when ELSE can I order duck at a place like this?" So I placed the order and hoped for the best.

Nom nom nom nom nom.

For those of you unfamiliar with the online jargon that means lots of good eating. It melted in my mouth! And with garlic Swiss chard on top and a cherry balsamic reduction it was sheer heaven. I wanted to lick the plate clean of that sauce! Its dinners like those that make you realize why most big kitchens have a chef devoted entirely to sauces. Matt got a steak with blue cheese topping or dressing or butter or...something. Whatever it was it made you want to bathe in it.

Ok, moving on from the food because I'm making myself hungry and this Trident fruity gum isn't cutting it.

Back at the cottage we found it had been "turned down" for the night. The covers were pulled back, bath robes laid out, candles all re-lit, fireplace going again and soothing music playing. We took a bath in the ginormous bathtub (I did a few laps) and I should have notched on the cork how many times we both said "I'm so relaxed..." before we went to sleep by the sound of the rain on the roof.

The next morning Steve brought up breakfast and we wished we weren't so full from stuffing ourselves the night before! Spinach and goat cheese scramble, homemade scones, fruit parfait and freshly squeezed orange juice. I ate all I could and wrapped a scone up in a napkin for later. They were so friendly and said we could stay as long as we like (we had gotten there earlier than the normal check in time too) so we lounged around and played scrabble and played most of the CDs they had. As we headed out Steve told us of a nice walk so after playing with a couple of the golden retrievers we took a stroll before heading back to the town. That room may have been expensive for a one night say but we both felt we got our full money's worth and are already thinking of going back next year!

Back in town we shopped a bite more, stopped in for some seafood and a beer at the Harbor House Pub, and then headed back home on the ferry well refreshed and ready for the holiday week.

Tuesday on our actual anniversary Dave and Beth took us out to dinner at Thai Kitchen (Matt got the duck, nom nom) and then Dave and Matt headed to the airport to get Katie. We were finally all together and ready for the big day!

Last week in preparation for Thanksgiving I devoted a whole night to the baking of Nana's rolls. These have been a tradition in our family since...well as far back as I remember! Some of you have even had the privilege of joining us for a roll baking day and learning all the little secrets (that Nana will tell) to making the perfect roll. This year I made them all by myself (cue sad music) but they turned out pretty good! I rolled up the balls and froze them so they were ready for the big day...of course we ate a few that night, too!

Roy was very interested!

Wednesday night before the big day I cooked for 5 hours making the cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes pies and making the brine for the turkey. I didn't hear the end of it from my side of the family--the turkey in the bucket, the salty turkey, the briny bird, etc. I had never cooked a turkey in my life but I jumped in there with a 14 pound-er. I lowered it in the 5 gallon bucket, covered it with saran wrap, placed it on the balcony and crossed my fingers.

Thanksgiving morning I set out the rolls on the heating pad and began working on the pumpkin pie. Time flew by and before I knew it it was time to put the turkey in! I was lifting it out of the bucket and up towards the sink when PLOP! That slippery bird squeezed through my hands and landed back in the full bucket--effectively coating me with turk-ied brine! Eeeew! Can you blame me for not letting Beth take a "before" picture?

I loaded the cavity with cooked apples and onions and a stick of cinnamon, coated that sucker with oil and popped it in the oven before I hopped in the shower. When the turkey was done Beth made the gravy and Katie made the green bean casserole while I set the table. Finally it all came together and after some family pics and the prayer we dug in.

The rest of the night we spent bemoaning the amount we had eaten...except me, oddly. I guess having cooked most of it I didn't feel like I had to stuff myself because I had been smelling it all day! Oh, and the "briny bird" turned out rather well, thank you very much Ammah!

Saturday night Matt and I broke out the Christmas decorations, and Sunday morning we proceeded to rearrange our living room to accommodate more people and a tree...all in anticipation for Christmas. Last night we headed out with Stephanie and Peter and found our tree at Fred Meyer.

Matt doing the tree dance

Roy took great interest in this new thing in the house...

In closing there is some sad news from yesterday. Four police officers were shot while they drank coffee and worked on their laptops before their shift began. He is still on the loose, they believe he's rearmed himself and they think he's wounded. Last night they had an 11 hour standoff at a house in Leschi (about 5 miles from us, as the crow flies) to find that he wasn't there but probably had been before. just go to or for the full story. Please pray for the families of the four officers--between them there are 9 kids without parents now. And pray that they find the killer before he hurts anyone else.

Sorry to end on a sad note, but the story has pervaded Seattle, especially since last Halloween another officer was killed by a man who had a personal war against police officers. The city was still reeling from that when we woke up Sunday morning to this new news.
That's all for now, hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are recovering from the annual glutton fest!

Matt and Kaitlynn and Roy Boy

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Two-Year Quilt

And two years later I finish the quilt from my bridal shower! Hallelujah! I really wanted to finish this in time for the holidays so all my family can sleep under it! I didn't have enough fabric to make the back one solid panel so I decided to take inspiration from and patch a back together...

For a little trip down memory lane, while I was in Africa my mom had pre-cut and sent out squares of this quilt called Mandarin Maze(unknown to me). During my bridal shower, I received all of them as a gift...which led to many tears...

So I would not forget who all had contributed to this quilt, I took a picture with the name of the quilter with the block...

That's not all of them, but just a those were the building blocks for this...

Which then after adding a border, a back and...a dog?

Well, I'm sure there are a few Roy Boy hairs in there even though it's been washed....anyway this is now what it looks like...

sorry it's blurry....had trouble with the flash being overpowering....

and the back...

and there you have it! Only took me two years to complete! Thanks again to all the lovely ladies who lent a hand!!!

In other news, a few weeks ago I received a letter from my best friend Charissa. Well, maybe not a letter in the way you'd expect. See, all she had was post-its, and as I read through the stack I lined them up on my mirror...

Such a thrifty gal...she's in Peru and loving it, by the way.

On to other things...what other things? Oh last weekend it was storming, I took Roy out to do his business around midnight (Matt was sick, he usually takes him out at night for all those dads who worry about me), and as we stood there everything went WHITE. I froze, not knowing what happened but a second later a thunder CRACKED and shook the ground so hard car alarms went off! Somewhere VERY close lighting had struck near Roy and I! I felt--pardon the pun--electrified...all the hair on my body felt on in and everything felt charged. I just froze there, Roy and I staring at each other with BIG eyes until at the same moment...we RAN towards the garage! Not a second after we took cover it began to pour! The lights in the garage flickered and my heart was pounding wildly. Then was a difficult choice. I had gotten overly ambitious the previous week running with Roy and had hurt my knee...should I climb 6 flights of stairs in case of a blackout or should I risk the elevator? The lights flickered and I could hear the wind howling in the elevator cell didn't even work in there. Oh well, what's life without a little adventure, right? I held my breath the entire way up and though the lights kept flickering, the power stayed on. When I got in the apartment it was louder than I'd ever heard it and then I realized was hailing!

Pea-sized hail covered my patio! It was crazy! Anyways, now we've got another storm upon us and tonight we're supposed to see gusts 60-65 mph! Wowzers!

Roy's found it a bit chilly at nights, now, too...

he likes to use the curtain as a blanket...

If you're wanting to try a quilt but are a little sheepish to start, read my article on Easy Quilts to Make for a few good starter ideas!
That's all my exciting news for now! This weekend Matt and I are headed off to Bainbridge Island for our anniversary weekend!