family dinner

Christmas Joys

On Christmas morning I woke up earlier than I was expecting. Michael and had a small snack and opened presents. Bella was super excited about her Santa hat! She got a new squeak toy from her foster mom Jen and Michael got her a new rope to chew on.


After all that was done, I had some time to kill before my parents were going to arrive. ย Michael was in the shower so I figured I’d go for a quick run. It was chilly out but not raining. I had about 30 minutes and that was really all I wanted to do. I just wanted to get a little exercise in to offset some of the calories I’d be eating for the holiday.



My parents drove down from Seattle and the four of us went to Gracie’s for brunch. It’s our tradition and I enjoy going there. It’s a nice treat and the place is so classy. If you’re ever looking for a really nice meal and want to spend some time surrounded by old world decadence, The Hotel deLuxe is the place to be!



I love that place. It’s always such a nice experience and everyone is always happy with the food. I was glad we made reservations because the place was packed. We got there a few minutes early and wandered around the lobby while we waited. It’s always decorated nicely.


I got some coffee and agonized over the menu. There were so many good sounding things! I ended up getting the Belgian Waffle. I never eat stuff like that and it just sounded so good. It came with toasted pecans and banana slices on it. It was so good!



Michael and my mom both got the Huevos Rancheros (per usual) and I had a bite of Michael’s. Once again I thought I should have gotten that! So next year I will definitely get it. I kick myself every year. My dad got the whole wheat pancakes and said they were fantastic.



We had a lovely brunch–relaxing and fun. Caught up on things, talked about our honeymoon.ย After brunch we went back to the house and opened gifts and spent some time together. They were on their way to the beach and we had to get to Michael’s mom’s house. It felt a little rushed this year but I was really glad I was able to see everyone.

We went to Michael’s mom’s house for dinner. She did a roast. She just seasoned it with salt, pepper and garlic but it was so amazing. It was absolutely delicious! She made a salad with pears, walnuts, craisins and goat cheese. There was steamed broccoli and then mashed potatoes with green onions, cheese and bacon mixed into it.



Everything tasted so great and pretty healthy. It was a nice balance of splurging and healthy food. Michael’s stepsister made her famous deviled eggs (adding some hot pepper flakes to it this time which were fantastic and spicy!!).


We relaxed and then opened gifts. Michael’s mom gave me new running shoes that I desperately needed! Bella also got some treats and a new bed! My mom got Bella a little lighted key chain thing for when we go on walks in the dark.


It was so nice to spend time with everyone. Quality time, laid back, socializing and eating and drinking. After opening gifts we all just lounged around a bit before heading home. I missed Bell. I hate leaving her alone at home! Especially on a holiday. But she was so spoiled and she LOVED her new deluxe bed from “Grandma”. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was a lovely holiday and our first married Christmas! <3

Bella Seattle

I left off my weekend extravaganza with the King Tut Exhibit and the adventures at the Seattle Science Center. After that, the whole family walked back to the fountain and relaxed in the shade until it was time to go to our dinner reservations.

My brother is a foodie and one of the best cooks I know. The stuff he creates is amazing and if he wasn’t such an Academic-Smarty-Pants he could probably run a restaurant. ๐Ÿ™‚ He picked the restaurant in Seattle that we should go to: Pasta Bella.ย My brother and his wife had been there before and recommended it highly. I love Italian food but it’s rarely my go-to cuisine. I don’t know why. I usually crave Mexican food or sushi. But Italian is good comfort food. We drove to the Ballard location and settled in to absorb the massive menu.

They brought out crusty french bread with roasted garlic while we waited for dinner. It’s been ages since I had roasted garlic.

I had two choices: I could think about calories and worry about what to order (i.e. try to find something that didn’t come with pasta OR a creamy sauce) or I could just enjoy this treat. I chose to indulge. I rarely eat Italian food and Michael and I don’t often eat pasta or rice at home. I decided to go with the spinach ravioli stuffed with Gorgonzola and walnuts with sausage in anย Alfredoย AND a marinara sauce. It was absolute decadent and a completely absurd choice but I enjoyed every single delectable bite.

I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir and it went well with dinner, despite the fact that I had both a red sauce and a white sauce with my pasta. Michael got a penne dish with spicy sausage and pancetta. I had a bite and it was definitely spicy.

Michael also got a caprese salad as an appetizer but the photo didn’t turn out. It was large slices of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes on top of ย a bed of spinach and basil. I had a bite and it was fantastic. Everyone enjoyed their dinner and we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant and back to the car. Ooof!

Back at my parent’s house we sat outside on the deck in the cool evening and had the dessert my mom made and then we all watched the Olympics. I stayed up WAY too late but was happy to see Michael Phelps finish his career with a gold medal.

What I loved most about watching the Summer Olympics–specifically the swimming– was seeing just how similar my body shape is to these amazing athletes. Honestly, I’d often felt self-conscious about my big arms and shoulders. Most of the time I felt like they were an awesome badge of accomplishment: my big arms represented the hours spent in the pool trying to lose 100 pounds. But every once in awhile I would be embarrassed by them. Seeing the women swimmers winning gold medals made me proud of my big swimmer shoulders!

I wish the summer Olympics were just swimming because honestly I could watch that every day (and the women’s USA team that one the relay was super exciting too!) but I did enjoy the running too.ย Michael and I got back to Portland Sunday afternoon and I went for a swim and then made us dinner. I wanted to make something healthy after a weekend of indulging.

Honey Mustard Chicken

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Category: Andy, calories, Dinner, Family, food, Food update, Memories, Olympics 2012, Portland, recipes, Recommendations, Restaurants, Review, Road Trips, Seattle, Summer, sunny day, swimming, traveling, Vacation, Vacations, Washington, Weekend Update

Servings: 4-6



  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 pounds chicken thighs (or legs)
  • Salt
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (or a generous sprinkling of dried rosemary)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ยฐ. In a large bowl, mix mustard with the honey, and olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and taste. Add more salt and mustard until you get the flavor where you want it.
  2. Salt the chicken lightly and lay the pieces skin-side up in a shallow casserole dish. Spoon the honey mustard sauce over the chicken. Place the rosemary sprigs in between the pieces of chicken.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the thighs read 175ยฐ on a meat thermometer, or the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife. Remove the casserole pan from the oven, use a spoon to spoon off any excess chicken fat that has rendered during the cooking.
  4. Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper over the chicken before you serve.

Nutrition Facts

Honey Mustard Chicken

Serves 1 chicken thigh

Amount Per Serving
Calories Between 400-500
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

This recipe turned out great and I will definitely make it again. It was super easy–three ingredients and I used rosemary from the garden.

It was simple and delicious. I had one chicken thigh and some mustard bread my mom made (apparently it was a mustard themed dinner). I had a wonderful and exhausting weekend and honestly needed a vacation after my vacation! Fun is hard work.

QUESTION: What’s your go-toย cuisine? What’s your favorite Olympic sport?