Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013!

Happy New Year's Eve!  What big plans do you have tonight? Chris is smoking a brisket and a couple of chickens and we will have those along with some side dishes for dinner tonight. 
Then (hopefully) I would like to have our Christmas decorations packed away before the ball drops - unless I can be talked into doing something more fun (which wouldn't be too hard!)

We used to have a party on New Year's Eve, but the past several years we've taken it easy and have a nice dinner and watch a movie and I'm usually asleep by 10pm and Chris wakes me up to watch the ball drop in Times Square! Ha! 
I have this thing about waiting until midnight to ring in the New Year THEN I can go to bed!

2012 was a wonderful year! It was happy and healthy and full of adventures.
We embarked on a dream that my husband had and opened our own Okinawan Karate Dojo (school) in March. It's been fun and exciting but has made our lives busier because we both still work full-time jobs in addition to woking at the dojo. Chris is the Sensei so he does the majority of the teaching and I handle the office stuff.

We welcomed a new granddaughter in March - Eleanor Lynn. 
She is happy, adorable and smiles all the time.

Our oldest son, Chris and grandson, Christopher III moved in with us also in March. (Wow March was a busy month!)  Having a 4-year old at home again has been interesting but oh so much fun! Christopher is a very smart, very happy Lil Man and keeps us all on our toes.  There are lots of toys, Hot Wheels, Nerf guns and laughter and we wouldn't change any of it!

I had a milestone birthday in June and turned 50!
Wow! I've had a wonderful life with a beautiful family and loads and loads of memories and look forward to the next 50 years!

Chris raised money and road his bicycle 75 miles for the Lance Armstrong LIVESTRONG cancer foundation.

We grew tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in 2012 and we plan on growing them again this summer and maybe adding a few more items.

I made my first two quilts ever. They were baby quilts and turned out adorable!
I would like to make one for my husband and each of my sons in 2013.
I've sewn and crafted and re-discovered my cross-stitch and embroidery skills. I love to create.

I celebrated 15 years at my job with Contra Costa County.

Our camping adventures took us to new locations this year for fishing and camping.
We saw Crater Lake in Oregon and Antelope Creek Ranch in Northern California, in addition to our other favorite places to travel.
I actually got the hang of fly-fishing and even caught my first fish! 
And we already have some trips planned for 2013.

My goal in 2013 is to get more done and spend less time procrastinating. 
I am a BIG prograstinista!

More doing instead of dreaming.
More reading.
More time spent with GOD and His word.
More experimenting with ingredients and cooking different cuisines.
More time enjoying our lovely backyard.
More Grandma and Papa time with the grandkids.
More playing, more fishing and more bike riding.
More sewing, crafting and quilting.
More blogging :o)
I have projects that I never finished and projects I want to start.
More minimizing and more organizing and more follow through.

Thank you for reading my blog and sharing my adventures.
I look forward to what 2013 has in store for me and my wonderful family and I wish you a very Happy Near Year and a wonderfully, awesome 2013 filled with your own amazing adventures!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bungle Jungle

I recently finished my second ever quilt!
I made a baby quilt for a woman I work with who was having a baby boy. I fell in love with this adorable kiddo fabric - Bungle Jungle by Tim and Beck.
It is bright and happy and has wonderfully fun colors. Perfect for a baby boy!

I also used this tutorial from Moda Bakeshop.
It was a fairly easy tutorial for a beginner quilter like me and if I need another baby gift one day, I will probably use the same pattern.

 
This pattern required 1 Charm Pack and 1 Jelly Roll and addtional yardage for the sashing.

Charm squares and jelly roll strips matched together.

The start of the blocks.
I wish I had "fussy cut" the giraffe better so her eyes were showing...oh well...still learning!

The blocks completed and ready for the sashing.

Quilt Top Done!  Yay!

The quilt back used the leftover jelly roll strips sewn together.

After quilting! All over design in the strips, squiggles in the sashing and free-hand stars in the center. My friend, Sharyn, is just starting her long-arm quilting business and I was her first paying customer!

LOVED the binding on this quilt! It is also made with the jelly roll strips. It turned out very cute!

Binding sewn on and showing some of the back and front together.

ALL DONE! The colors of this quilt are so fun.
The pictures don't do it justice and I was taking them at night.
My craft room has bright light, but it kinda washed out the colors.

The finished back.

My friend, Rosalie, LOVED this quilt and said she was going to hang it on her son's wall so it didn't get ruined.  I told her to use the quilt. It's supposed to be used and loved, and spit up on and rolled in and everything little boys do.
This was a fun project, went together fairly quickly and I'm really happy with the way it turned out!

Now on to quilt number three - another bright, happy quilt for my grandson.

Happy Quilting!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pumpkins, A Super Hero and Lottsa Pink!

Our three sons are grown men, so husband Chris and I haven't decorated or carved pumpkins for Halloween in several years. But this year our oldest son and grandson are with us and Lil Man and I decorated with banners, bats, ghosts and pumpkins and the other night we carved the pumpkins we brought home from the pumpkin patch and had a great time!

 He had fun with the "guts" - even touching Daddy with his icky hands!

 YUMMY!

 These pumpkins had very thick rinds - almost 2 inches - so there was a lot of scraping down the insides so they would be easier to carve.

 Supervising Daddy while he traces the pattern.

 Husband cheated a bit and used the dremel to carve his!

 and Chris and I did it the old-fashioned way - with knives!

Yay! The finished pumpkins! I think they came out really well and we got a lot of compliments on Halloween night from the trick-or-treaters!

And speaking of trick-or-treaters.....we started out with 276 pieces of candy and handed out about 225! Lots of little people in great costumes this year and less of the teenagers that put on a scary mask and call that a costume!

We had a HUGE bowl of candy ready!

Captain America! (aka our grandson Christopher)

and our granddaughter Presley as "DeeDee Doodlebop"

She had great make-up too but it's hard to see here.

This was our granddaughter, Ellie's first Halloween and she is "The Furry Pink Monster". Not really sure if this costume has an actual name or not!

Love ya little Ellie Bean!

The weather cooperated and it didn't start raining until about 9:00 p.m.
The kids had a great time trick-or-treating, came home with LOADS of candy and it was an awesome Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch

We headed to Smith Family Farms yesterday and visited the pumpkin patch with our oldest son and grandson. The weather cooperated and it was a lovely day. We checked out the animals and went to the "Hootin' Hoedown" where we sang silly songs and Christopher even played in the band. 

Two friendly scarecrows welcomed us.

 Chickens....

 and peacocks......

 and ponies Oh My!

 And this little piglet was just adorable!

 A mama and her babies.

 I love the expression on Christopher's face!

 Playing the "sticks" in the band with the rest of the kids.

Papa and Grandma being silly

A face painted bat


 I LOVE pumpkins!

 Which one will make the best Jack O' Lantern?

 I found a unique one with lots of warts!

 My boys and our pumpkins!

 Grandma and Papa with our Lil Man!

Me and the Bubs!
We had a great time and Christopher can't wait to "curve" the pumpkins!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Enchilada Style Stuffed Peppers

I love Mexican food and could probably eat it everyday but I know that the menu items that I love are not very good for me.

My friend Karen over at "Oh My Gluten Free Goodness!" changed her way of eating about a year ago. She is gluten free, corn free and dairy free so eating Mexican is pretty much out of the picture for her.  She is always trying new things, using different and new ingredients to create new recipes and new ways to enjoy the foods that she loves and misses.  She recently created this recipe for stuffed bell peppers and I thought it sounded wonderful - and it was!

I do not eat gluten free, dairy free or corn free (although I probably should) so I didn't follow her recipe precisly and I used larger amounts of some of the ingredients.  You can find Karen's ORIGINAL recipe here.  The following recipe is the one that I used to prepare my stuffed peppers.

Enchilada Style Stuffed Peppers
4 bell peppers, any color.  I used one of each green, red, yellow and orange
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef (I do not use organic, grass fed, but I do use the best ground beef)
1/2 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced (Karen does not use garlic)
Salt and pepper to taste.
1-2 roma tomatoes, diced (I used 2 because I used extra ground beef)
1 - 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 4oz can diced green chilies (don't drain). I used 1 1/2 cans because my family likes things spicy.
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 - 28oz can enchilada sauce
Shredded chedder cheese (optional)

Cut bell peppers in half, stem to tip and remove seeds.  Brown ground beef together with onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Drain any fat from ground beef.  Microwave the peppers for 2-3 minutes to soften.  I did mine for 2-1/2 minutes because I like mine a little firmer.  Mix remaining ingredients (except the enchilada sauce) with the ground beef in a bowl.  Pour enchilada sauce into a 9" x 13" baking pan/dish and place peppers cut side up in the dish.  Divide the meat filling equally into the peppers.  Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake another 5 minutes.  Spoon some of the enchilada sauce over the peppers.  YUM!

The meat was very tasty alone too!

before baking in the oven.....

....and after with the melted cheesy goodness! (I only added cheese to four of the peppers)


My son and husband added sour cream to the top of theirs.  I also added a wonderful tossed green salad with veggies from our garden to round out this simple, tasty, refreshing meal. These were a HUGE hit at our house and definately will be made again. 

THANK YOU KAREN!

Check out Karen's other awesome recipes too!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gone Fishin'

This past weekend Chris and I, along with our friends Roger and Diane, headed to Antelope Creek Ranch for a Fly-Fishing Adventure! We left on Thursday morning and stopped a couple hours later at Granzella's Deli and Restaurant in Williams.
We had lunch and the most delicious gelato!


After lunch we headed to Dunsmuir and stayed at Railroad Park and actually slept in a train car. Dunsmuir is one of our very favorite places to camp and relax and Chris and I usually pull our trailer to Dunsmuir and camp in the beautiful Railroad Park campground behind the train car hotel, but we didn't on this trip. It's a nice area and it was fun to sleep in the train car. We took Roger and Diane on a tour of the places we frequent when we visit the area and then stopped for dinner.

The train car where we stayed.

Inside the train car. Comfy beds too.

Castle Lake

Mt. Shasta

We woke early Friday morning, had a fantastic breakfast at the Cornerstone Bakery in Dunsmuir and headed to the Antelope Creek Ranch. The ranch is on 500+ acres and is located on the northeast side of Mt. Shasta about 2 hours from Redding in the Klamath National Forest. The lodge is beautiful and we had a private room and bath, a private chef and absolutely terrific trout fishing right on the property.

The ranch house sleeps 8 people. Besides the four of us, there were two other couples. Each bedroom has a private bath and a wonderful view.  There is a huge rock fireplace and a hot tub on the back deck, a sunken bar, wraparound decks and lots of windows overlooking the private creek, meadow and mountains.  The ranch used have cattle, but now is a vacation spot for fishermen and women and families.  It is just over 5,000 feet in elevation. The weather was fantastic - a little cool in the mornings and evenings - but during the day it was perfect!  The mosquitoes did do a number on us though, especially on my feet!

The outside of the lodge

 Bar and lounge area

Kitchen and Dining area

Chris relaxing after lunch on Saturday before heading out to the lake again. 


We saw deer and blue heron and squirrels and were told that bear have been seen wandering the property and Devine told us that a bear even came into the lodge one time! I thought it would be neat to see a bear but the others didn't really share my enthusiasm!

 A cute lil' friend!


Creeks and waterfalls on the property

Antelope Creek carves a path through the middle of the ranch and offers nearly 2 miles of fishing for rainbow and brown trout and goes through the ranch dividing the meadow and cutting through the trees and forest.  The fish in the streams are not large but the ones in the lakes were pretty good size. We could actually see them swimming around and taunting us at the lakes and jumping up to catch bugs and flies. Both of the lakes can be fished from the shore or by using float tubes. We have a float boat, but we didn't take it with us this time.

Chris fishing.....

....and one of the fish he caught!


the Lower Lake

The property used to also be a Christmas tree farm. This red barn is all that is left of the farm.
It is so rustic and pretty on the property.

The Upper Lake

And boy did we eat well too! The caretakers of the property, Gary and Devine (yes her name is Devine) took great care of us. We had pecan-crusted tilapia with crushed corn, salad, homemade bread both nights, homemade cheesecake, homemade cinnamon rolls and banana bread and perfectly cooked bacon and eggs. We had grilled beef skewers with rice, cheese steak sandos and the best french toast. All our meals included fruit, wine and coffee. Absolutely delicious! And the best part? We didn't have to cook OR clean up when we were through. We just had to grab our fishing gear and head back out to the lakes and streams to catch more fish!

This was my first time fly-fishing and Roger and Chris were very patient teaching me how to cast and strip the line back in.  Fly-fishing is a true art and I didn't do too bad! I even caught 3 fish! But I also caught several bushes, trees, lots of tall grass, my arm and even the top of my shoe. I did get frustrated and my arm and shoulder became sore from all the casting, but all in all I had a great time and can't wait to do it again. When I got tired I sat in a chair under the trees and read and listened to the sounds of nature and just enjoyed the solitude. It was nice not to have to answer phones or email. I'd hear the frequent "whoo hoo" from one of the guys when they hooked another fish!

hahaha! at least I LOOK like a fisherwoman!

patiently waiting for something to go after my fly!

My 1st fish! Yay for me!

And before we let him go again

Roger and Chris were very successful (and way more patient) and caught about 25-30 fish between them - I lost count. We fished Friday afternoon and evening, all day Saturday and the guys went out Saturday after dinner and Chris went out Sunday morning before breakfast.

We were sorry to see the weekend end and headed home on Sunday after breakfast. It was a fantastic weekend with great friends and we can't wait to do it again next year!