Christmas traditions

Shiny and Bright

Saturday I made it to the gym!!! After being snowed/iced in for two days I braved the drive and made it. My little car would not have made it out of our street –which was a sheet of ice–but the Subaru did great and once I got on the main streets it was clear.

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It felt SO good to get to the gym! I hadn’t been since Monday. I was also slightly sore still from Thursday’s at home workout. Squats and kettlebells ALWAYS get me.

At the gym I did some light body weight/ab stuff, went through a circuit of the weight machines and then did 27 minutes on the elliptical. It felt awesome!

Then home to clean up and get ready to go on a date. Michael’s mom and stepdad came over to spend some time with the little dude so we could go out to lunch and possibly get a Christmas tree.

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The roads were decent but sidewalks were super icy still. We ended up going to Lardo on SE Hawthorne for lunch. It’s been years since I’ve been there. The place was packed when we arrived. We ordered and then sat outside in the covered and heated patio area.

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We both got the Block 15 Sticky Hands IPA. For lunch Michael got the Grilled Mortadella:

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I got the Lardo Egg Sandwich, smoked pork belly with a runny egg and cheese. It came with a hash brown patty on the side.

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Michael got an order of their “dirty fries” –fries with cheese, pork pieces and pickled peppers on top. I nibbled on some. I didn’t love the fries. I did enjoy the pickled peppers, though!

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We talked about getting a Christmas tree. We both had concerns, obviously. Logan is almost 9 months old (on the 22nd!!) and he is an ACTIVE little boy already. He’s been crawling for two months, standing for a month and he’s already “cruising” (walking while he holds on to things like the coffee table). He also goes right for all the things he shouldn’t have and big, sparkling, blinky Christmas tree would be a bad idea.

We talked about getting a small tree and putting it on a table, that didn’t really seem feasible, because we a) don’t have a table that would work and b) he could probably pull that down too. I floated the idea of getting a tiny living tree (something I’ve always wanted to do) and putting it on this one tall side table we have in the living room. So we went to Lowe’s to check it out and found the small living trees.

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For about the same price as a large Christmas tree we got the living tree. It’s small and the needles are super spikey! That’s the only downside. But I like that we can plant it in the yard somewhere after Christmas and it doesn’t feel like such a waste.

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It’s okay, it does the trick. Next year we’ll go all out and it will be great! And Logan will be old enough to “get it”.

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Saturday night we were supposed to go to the Milwaukie Solstice Festival and then some friends were coming over for dinner but our friends were sick, I was still under the weather and we just didn’t feel like going back out. So Michael made dinner for us instead and we just chilled.

He made French Onion Soup!

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Here’s the recipe:

French Onion Soup

From: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/french_onion_soup

Ingredients

  • 6 large red or yellow onions (about 3 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced root to stem (see How to Slice an Onion), about 10 cups of sliced onions total
  • 4 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups of beef stock, chicken stock, or a combination of the two (traditionally the soup is made with beef stock)
  • 1/2 cup of dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 teaspoons of fresh thyme (can also use a few sprigs of fresh thyme) OR 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 8 inch-thick slices of French bread or baguette
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss Gruyere and a sprinkling of Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Caramelize the onions: In a 5 to 6 quart thick-bottomed pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and toss to coat with the olive oil.
  2. Cook the onions, stirring often, until they have softened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter and cook, stirring often, until the onions start to brown, about 15 more minutes.
  4. Then sprinkle with sugar (to help with the caramelization) and 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to cook until the onions are well browned, about 10 to 15 more minutes.
  5. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute more.
  6. Deglaze the pot with vermouth: Add the vermouth to the pot and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom and sides of the pot, deglazing the pot as you go.
  7. Add stock and seasonings: Add the stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot and lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes.
  8. Season to taste with more salt and add freshly ground black pepper. Discard the bay leaves. Add brandy if using.
  9. Toast French bread slices: While the soup is simmering, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil and preheat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the upper third of the oven.
  10. Brush both sides of the French bread or baguette slices lightly with olive oil (you'll end up using about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil for this).
  11. Put in the oven and toast until lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven.
  12. Turn the toasts over and sprinkle with the grated Gruyere cheese and Parmesan. Return to oven when it's close to serving time and bake until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
  13. Serve: To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and transfer one cheesy toast onto the top of each bowl of soup.
  14. Alternatively, you can use individual oven-proof bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350° F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=51311

Dinner was great!

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We missed the Winter Solstice but we did manage to go to Peacock Lane this year!

I told Logan we were going to see sparkly Christmas lights. He giggled:

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We met up with a friend of mine who has a baby about 2.5 months younger than Logan. Peacock Lane was PACKED! You could barely walk there were so many people. But the babies loved the lights!

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I’m really looking forward to Christmas this weekend!

Happy Christmas Holiday!

After much hemming and hawing I took Christmas Eve off from work. I was planning on saving as much time as possible for maternity leave but work was SO dead the day before Christmas Eve I knew Christmas Eve would be even more boring. I was glad I took it off. I slept in, went to the gym, got a haircut, ran some errands and then spent a few hours working on the soon-to-be-nursery. Lots of stuff to go through!

Christmas morning Michael and I opened presents. He got me a new camera! I LOVE it! It’s a Canon and a lot of the features are similar to my old Canon but it’s still going to take some time to figure it out. Michael said that there’s a feature on the new one that will make it easier to take pictures of moving targets–like babies and dogs. It’s so hard getting a good photo of Bella, even using all the tricks I know with my current camera, because she just moves too fast! I’m looking forward to practicing.

Fat Kitty enjoyed the wrapping paper and boxes. I got Bella a new squeak toy and she loved the sound but didn’t want to play with it, which was weird.

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We took Bella for a walk–thankfully it was finally NOT raining here in Portland, then my parents arrived from Seattle and the four of us went to Gracie’s for our annual brunch!

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We love Gracie’s. The food is always perfect and the service is as well. This year they had a champagne cocktail menu! Dang it! It looked so good. But I did splurge and order some freshly squeezed orange juice that was absolutely amazing.

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I ordered the ham and cheese omelette this year. It came with potatoes and I got sourdough toast. Michael got the Huevos Rancheros, of course, and my mom got the crab and avocado omelette. Everyone’s breakfast was fabulous. It was a nice, relaxing brunch. I’d kill for some more of that OJ.

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Back to the house for presents with my parents. Fat Kitty decided my dad’s lap was the best place to be, apparently. 🙂

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My parents got us a glider for the nursery (to be delivered next month when the nursery is finished). They also brought down this super cute chair and stool:

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One of my dad’s friends got it in Arizona and it’s so cute! It’s small but sturdy and will be a great addition to the nursery. After spending a few hours with my folks, they took off for the beach and Michael and I went to his mom’s house for dinner. There were deviled eggs, I made a veggie tray, Michael’s sister did these pork buns that were really good.

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It was a very full day but it was nice that we got to see everyone and spend time with them. I got to talk to my brother on the phone for awhile and that was good, too. Maybe one of these years we’ll all be together for Christmas. Who knows, things might look very different next year!

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Saturday evening Michael and I went out with another couple for dinner. Michael had been planning a big group dinner with some of his childhood friends and in the end it was just the four of us, which was nice! Much more intimate and it was nice to catch up with friends we wish we saw more than a few times a year–especially since it’s not like we live all that far from each other!

We went to East Burn for dinner. The three of them shared the goat cheese and prosciutto appetizer that looked really good:

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I wish I could have had some! For the entree Michael got the burger (I had a bite and it was quite tasty). I got the steelhead entree that was to die for. It was nestled on top of pumpkin risotto with cranberries. The dish sounded like it would be really sweet but it wasn’t. The pumpkin risotto was slightly sweet but tasted more like butternut squash than pumpkin and it was mild. The cranberries gave it a really nice, tart finish. There was brown sage butter drizzled on top and the steelhead was crispy and perfectly prepared. I LOVED my dish!

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It was so so good! I wonder if I can recreate a dish like this at home…

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We decided to share a dessert–the Fudge cake. It was giant! Thank goodness we split it four ways. It was really thick and rich.

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It was a nice evening and we spent a few hours hanging out with them, even after the food was done. It was also nice to pick their brains about birth and babies and such as they have two of their own. It was a decadent weekend!