Potluck

Christmas Cheer

While my weekend started off not so great, with Bella getting injured, some of the weekend was actually great! Saturday I got up early to go to this kettlebell gym I’ve been trying out (more on that later), then came home to make my potluck dish and we headed out for my family Christmas party. It was at my aunt’s house in Troutdale this year. It was also my grandmother’s 92nd birthday!

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As usual there was a TON of food there. Someone had made my grandpa’s awesome garlic dip, I made a brussels sprout salad, and Michael made his famous mac n’ cheese. There were so many things to snack on it was hard not to just graze all afternoon long.

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There was also plenty to drink too! Lots of wine to choose from. I stuck with water for most of the afternoon and then finally had some. My aunt also brought out a bottle of her AMAZING eggnog, affectionately named Gregnog after my cousin who had way too much of it a long long time ago. My aunt keeps her recipe secret and I would LOVE to have it! It’s the best eggnog I’ve ever had, and it is potent! One small glass is usually enough for most people.

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Yum yum yum! Gregnog! Lots of family came from all over –a bunch from Washington, Texas, Oregon and Wyoming. It was so good to see family I hadn’t seen since this summer (and a few since last Christmas). There was also a lot of shenanigans and photo-bombing this year.

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The group was a little smaller this year as many family members couldn’t make it. (One cousin is graduating from medical school next weekend, the other is in the Army and my brother and his wife are too far away to visit.) It would have been nice if we could all be together. After it got dark we had a visitor.

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A friend of the family that has always played Santa paid us a visit and especially came for Grandma! She got an extra special present for her birthday:

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I love that picture of grandma! Haha! And I also love that even though all the little kids are old enough now to know the truth, they all still play along. Everyone is a good sport. It’s kind of my favorite part of the Christmas party. The kids sang a Christmas song with Santa and then he was on his way. A little while later, mysteriously our friend Randy showed up just in time for dinner. πŸ˜‰

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Dinner was GOOD. It’s always good, but my uncle Pete is the master of the BBQ. He grilled and cooked a prime rib and a pork for three hours out in the frigid air and created an amazing dinner. I had the pork and it was perfect; couldn’t have been better. There was the mac n’ cheese, my salad, a caesar salad, crusty french bread and two different kinds of potato casseroles. My aunt also brought some of her homemade pickled beans which were so spicy and delicious. She said the secret to pickling beans is to add grape leaves in the jar because it makes them crunchy instead of mushy. Good tip.

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My plate was packed with a little bit of everything:

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Melt in your mouth soft meat and full of flavor. Of course there was also dessert–my aunt made cupcakes from scratch. The mini cupcakes were vanilla with marshmallow in the center–kind of like a twinkie. She also made some larger once with caramel in the center but I was way too full to even try it. There was a German Chocolate cake and some Christmas cookies, too. As you can imagine, temptation was all around.

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After everyone ate and was in a proper food coma, we did the white elephant gift exchange. My uncle Mike is usually the one that coordinates it but he wasn’t here this year. My cousin Greg did the honors. I brought a super awesome gift–a handmade artsy flask with a cool looking octopus on it. It was very popular and stolen a few times. Β My cousin Anna got it (then it was stolen a few times and ended up going home with my uncle).

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Pretty cool looking, huh? Well my cousin Adam outdid me. The gift Michael picked under the tree ended up being a flask as well. Check it out:

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Yes that flask is three times the size of a normal flask AND it’s furry. The outside is made of some kind of animal skin!! It was a pretty funny moment. I was first to pick and got a zombie survival kit–complete with a guide, a Swiss Army knife, a lighter, a mini bottle of whiskey and a box of twinkies. But since I was first I got to pick something else at the very end. I went home with a gift pack of gourmet hot cocoa mix, cookies, a bottle of nice Oregon wine and a jar of Nutella. I’ll be honest, it was the Nutella that made me pick that gift. πŸ™‚

After the gift exchange Michael and I left. We had to get home to let Bella out of her crate and give her the puppy medicine for the night. While we were gone our dog walker came over and let her out, played with her a bit and fed her dinner. It was nice because we were gone so long and I worried about her since she wasn’t feeling well. I’m really grateful that our dog walker lives so close and really loves Bella! I wish we could have stayed longer at the party but, you know how it is! Got to get the kids to bed! Β πŸ˜‰

Picnic in the Park

Saturday morning I had a decent workout in the gym (and it was nice that I got there early before it was too crowded) but unfortunately pulled a muscle in my back. That was a bummer but at least it wasn’t so bad that it prevented me from having a really awesome day with friends.

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We’d planned on doing something like this for awhile and finally did it. Michael and I met our friends Erika and Charles at Kelley Pointe Park for a picnic lunch and to hang out in the sun. The day was overcast, gray and a little drizzly but it promised to clear up by the time we met them at the park in the afternoon. I wouldn’t say that I planned well for our outing Β (shorts and a tank top and flip flops would have been better). Sunscreen and more water would have been ideal, too.

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I’ve never been to Kelley Pointe Park but it’s the park on Marine Drive right on the river that Michael and I have tried to bike to many times. Something always happened to keep was from making it there–getting lost, flat tires, etc. I am so glad we finally got to discover this gem in the city!! It’s a HUGE park with so much room for big groups of people. There are a bunch of different picnic areas, bathrooms (nice) and views of Mount Hood, downtown Portland and the water.

The four of us sat at a nice picnic table next to the sandy beach and Columbia River and ate a picnic lunch. Michael and I brought sandwiches from the New Seasons Deli and I made a killer quinoa salad to share.
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I loved the flavors and the crunchiness of the salad. Erika made a pasta salad and brought some fresh watermelon to share and they had Subway sandwiches. I was famished by the time we got settled in and ate! I had half a roast beef sandwich and lots of salad.

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It was so much fun having a picnic potluck lunch! The food was delicious and healthy and we definitely needed the nutrients for the rest of our outing.

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After lunch we packed up the food and walked down the path to a large, open grassy field to play bocce ball. I bought a set at the store on sale recently and was so happy to be able to try it out! It had been a good decade since I’d played bocce ball but it wasn’t too hard to pick back up. I also had a badminton set but we never actually got to that.

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Michael and I were on a team and Charles and Erika were a team and we actually did pretty well! It was neck and neck for awhile. The bocce ball was so much fun! I just wished I’d packed more water, maybe a hat and some sunscreen! I was baking.

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And guess what? I’m not too shabby at bocce!! I actually won a few rounds! We played for maybe two hours, stopped part way for a beverage break and to sit in the shade, then we packed everything up and went down to the beach.

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I had no idea there was a sandy beach in Portland!!! Wow! It was a happening place, too. There were tons of people but it wasn’t overcrowded. There were kids in life vests swimming and building sandcastles, some fly fishermen and tons of boaters.

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There were a lot of party boats, too. Lots of people on a boat with loud music as they sped by the shore. It was very cool. Again, I need to make some friends with boaters….Michael and Charles played some horseshoe while Erika and I just chilled in the shade on a blanket and enjoyed the hot, sunny day. It was so nice I didn’t want to leave but I knew it was time. I desperately needed water and to get out of the sun. Next time I will be more prepared.

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I’m going back here VERY SOON!!! So much fun!! What a fantastic weekend. On Sunday morning I changed up the routine and Michael and I went out to breakfast before I went swimming. I had a soon-to-expire Groupon for Grand Central and realized it was an awesome place to get breakfast!

The place was practically empty, there weren’t long lines and long waits for tables and the food was GREAT! The restaurant and bar just happened to be attached to a bowling alley (too funny).

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Michael got the breakfast tacos (they were made with corn tortillas) and I got an eggs benedict. It was made with artichokes and spinach and was fantastic! I never order that kind of breakfast and was glad I splurged and gave it a try. The hashbrowns were the best I’ve ever eaten–which is weird because I’m not really a fan of hashbrowns and usually ask for fruit on the side instead. It was so much food I ate half the eggs benedict and half of the potatoes.Β I’m totally going back to this place!