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Category — Travel

a book and a salad

I’m still in Quebec at Kim and Paul’s dreamy lake house. I haven’t been posting regularly because, well, I’m on vacation and because I’ve been obsessed reading a book I found on the shelves here. I finished All The Light We Cannot See yesterday afternoon. My dreams have been filled with it since the day I picked it up and last night was no exception. Many of you have probably already read it since it came out nearly four years ago. I’m usually behind the curve when it comes to books. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a new read.

Now that I have my nose out of the book and my head out of the clouds, here is the salad recipe I promised you last week. Oh, and there is a mouse update at the bottom of this post.

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August 20, 2018   1 Comment

Wednesday dinner at Deer Lake

I know I said I’d post the recipe for the salad we ate the night before last, and I promise to get to that soon, but we had such a fun day yesterday, that I’d rather talk about that for now.

It was cloudy and foggy over the lake when I awoke. Then the thunder rolled in and the rain began. The lake house was so cozy and dark, it felt like fall for a moment and I was in heaven. Summer drags on when you live in the desert, so even a few moments of what feels like fall is a complete joy.

Our morning plans to paddle board were put on hold. Kim knows how and Debby and I were eager to learn.

photo credit: Pinterest

Oh, before I go any further, I should mention that I was a bit tentative about being the first person to get up and leave my room. And for good reason, the first night here we saw that we had another resident in the house with us. A mouse. Granted, he was little and even, dare I say, cute. We tried to shoo him out the door with a broom but he wasn’t having any of that. Kim set out a no-kill trap but it didn’t work. We saw him again the next night, Debby set four mousetraps with peanut butter and placed them around the kitchen. So, the first person up was going to have to deal with a dead mouse and I didn’t want that to be me.

But I was getting sore from sitting in bed and typing my post. I had to get up so I could sit at the table to type. I quietly crept out and peeked around the corner … no mouse. All the peanut butter was gone but thankfully, no smashed mouse.

Yay for me. Yay for the mouse. But then again, we still have a mouse in the house, so no bueno!

The rain stopped. Kim and I went to run errands and grocery shop in the little town of Ripon. Two of the things at the top of our list were more mousetraps and Snicker’s bars, which will hopefully work better than the peanut butter. Debby stayed behind to read and hold down the fort.

When we returned, Kim taught us to paddle board. For me, the hardest part was going from the kneeling stage to the standing stage. I had to do Lamaze style deep breathing and talk myself into being brave and just do it.

After much hesitation and nearly psyching myself out, I did it. Debby did too. We were quite pleased with ourselves. The Howards have two paddle boards. I came to shore and Kim took that board out. Most of my pride washed away as I watched her pop right up and quickly paddle down the lake in the blink of an eye. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Next, we went out on the pontoon boat and took a tour around the entire lake.

It’s a long lake! You can’t see from one end to the other. It curves and twists and there are cute islands and peninsulas. Kim and Paul not only own the lake but also the 550 (approx.) acres of wooded land that surround it. This is a very special and magical place that has been in the Howard family for generations.

After our cocktail boat tour, I made another recipe inspired from a doctor’s office waiting room magazine find. The perfect end to a perfect day.

OK, not quite the end and not perfectly perfect. Kim and Debby set a total of 10 mousetraps with the Snickers. Without a doubt, I’m sleeping in this time.

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August 16, 2018   4 Comments

quinoa in Canada

photo credit: Cody Howard

If you’re like me, sometimes you look at your smart phone in complete awe. We walk around with a computer in our pockets. No longer do we need a watch, a camera, an encyclopedia, a dictionary, any array of how-to books, a landline, and the list goes on.

And no longer do I tear out pages from magazines in doctors’ offices. Yes, I’m sorry to admit that I was one of those people. Now, I just whip out my phone and snap a photo of that recipe or article I must have.

photo credit: Debby Gooding

The following recipe is inspired from one such photo I took during a recent visit to a doctor’s office. I don’t recall the magazine, probably a celebrity weekly or women’s monthly, since those are the magazines I usually gravitate towards in that situation.

I’m in Quebec Canada with Kim Howard and her dear friend, Debby Gooding, at Deer Lake, which is the Howard Family’s gorgeous Canadian retreat. Click HERE to read more about it in this posts from my last visit in July, 2013. One of my favorite things about this magical place is all the vintage vibes.

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August 15, 2018   2 Comments

TX State Capitol

On Sunday in Austin, I did something I’ve done on my last three visits and something I’ve never done before.

The first outing of the day was our traditional pilgrimage to Radio Coffee & Beer. It is just down the road from Marissa and Jeff’s house and we’ve walked there before, but not this time. It was far too hot and humid for that.

I’m sure the coffee is good, I wouldn’t know personally since I don’t drink coffee. But what we go there for is the food-truck with breakfast tacos.

Breakfast Tacos are a big damn deal in Austin! It’s their staple, they obsess over breakfast tacos. So much so, that a taco place on South Congress has a sign out front that clearly states, “No Breakfast Tacos.”  I suppose that cuts down on people being disappointed when they read the menu. I mean, you know it’s a big deal when you have a sign that says what you DON’T have!

Photo credit: Eater Austin

So yes, Tram got her first taste of one of the favorite of all the breakfast tacos in the city, The Migas, from the Veracruz All Natural food truck.

I posted a recipe for migas back in November 2013, long before I laid my eyes and tongue on the Veracruz version. Since then, I’ve recreated theirs for an all-taco cooking class I did last fall. I’ll need to make that again in the near future and get the recipe up here for y’all.

If you’re heading to Austin anytime soon, here is an article with the 22 Essential Breakfast Tacos in Austin.

After breakfast we did the new thing. We toured the Texas State Capital. Marissa works right down the street from the Capital, so I see it every time I visit, but have never gone inside. It is beautiful! The building was constructed from 1882 to 1888.

Tram and I went crazy for the gorgeous details. The front door tells you what to expect when you walk inside. That hardware!

The door hinges were my favorite thing. This bulky heavy piece of metal is beautiful but wait until you see what is revealed when the door is open.

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July 20, 2018   No Comments

Waco & Magnolia

As I said yesterday, we got up early on Saturday morning to drive the approximately 90 minutes from Austin to Waco in hopes of beating the major Saturday morning crowds so we could eat at Magnolia Table.

It was about 8:15 when we arrived and I immediately knew we didn’t leave early enough when I saw the packed parking lot. Tram and I hopped out of the car to get our names on the wait list while Marissa parked.

Our hopes were slightly dampened when we saw the Disneyland-like line winding around stanchions in true Disney form. We got in line and Marissa soon joined us.

We stood there for about 15 to 20 minutes until an employee came around to let everyone know what the deal was. We were standing in line to put our name on the wait list. She couldn’t say how long it would take us to get to the front of the line, but once we put in our name, it would be another hour and half to hour and 45 minutes until we got a table.

The three of stood there for another 5 minutes or so and then Tram said that she didn’t “have” to eat here to be happy. I was so relieved! Marissa and I said that we didn’t either and we got out of line and went around the building to the “Take Away” part of the restaurant to shop.

One fun find in the shop was the packages of our hometown Hayden Flour Mills that we spotted on the shelves. The store carries the pizza flour, cornmeal mix and stone ground oatmeal. Local pride right there in Waco!

I can’t begin to tell you how much I covet this CAFE sign in the Take Away store. LOVE!  The girls each got a coffee to-go and we were on our way to the Silos, about a 10 minute drive up the road.

As for our Miles to Magnolia, Tram and I traveled 1049 miles from Phoenix and Marissa traveled 102 miles from Austin.

Here is my advice is you go to Magnolia Market. Don’t go on a Saturday or this is what you will encounter. Don’t get me wrong, we still loved it, but I have to believe it is better during the week.

And there is much to love besides the store, the grounds are gorgeous too.

From the Seed-Supply garden store to the gardens themselves, the great lawn and food trucks, you could easily make a day of it.

I love how Jo beatifies everything, even the rusty contraptions coming off the silos that probably moved the grain in and out – back in the day.

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July 19, 2018   2 Comments

Austin with Tram

Tram and I went to Austin last weekend to visit Marissa and to drive to Waco and visit the Magnolia Market Silos (Tram on the steps) and Chip & Joanna Gaines and the family.

How excited were you when you read that sentence? I was all a flutter writing it and imagining it to be true.

We did visit the Silos, Magnolia Table and other Magnolia-related attractions along with a few not-so-Magnolia sights.

As for Chip & Jo, we found their hand prints outside Magnolia Table and ….

… we drove by their farm. Driving down the highway in front of it isn’t exactly stalking, but kind of felt like it.

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July 18, 2018   1 Comment

October, you forsake me

Each time I commit myself to get back in the blogging groove, something comes along and trips me up.

October, my birth month and historically my favorite month of the year, got off to a tragic start. My older brother, Dennis, passed away.

Dennis and I were close when we were young. When I say close, I mean that we’d alternately fight and get along, exactly like you’d expect siblings who are 18 months apart to fight and get along.

It was just the two of us for about 4 years, then Andy came along and a couple of years later, I finally got my baby sister, Sloane.

Dennis drifted in and our of our family and our lives but not before he left the world a beautiful legacy, his four amazing sons; Joel, Ben, David and Jeremy. I adore my nephews. I was still in high school when Joel was born. He was my baby doll. Those cute little OshKosh B’Gosh boys are now 39, 37, 35 and 33 years old and live in and around Coeur d’Alene, ID.

Dad, Sloane and I traveled to Idaho this past weekend to deliver Dennis’s ashes and belongings to his sons. Dad is in the photo above with my beloved sister-in-law, Teresa. Ben, David, Jeremy and Joel (on the floor) are there, along with Dad’s great-grandkids; Joby, Kelton, Elijah, Aleea and Dominic. Yes, Dennis most definitely left behind a beautiful legacy. Rest in peace, big brother. [Read more →]


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November 6, 2017   12 Comments

Anne is up to bat

We spent the day at the Del Mar Racetrack on Wednesday. The most that was bet by any one of us on any one race was $3. Big spenders or gamblers, we are not. But we had fun! Our seats were right in front of the finish line. If not for that pole in front of us, they would have been perfect. Darn structural engineering.

We arrived back too late to cook, so we had leftovers and watched a movie. The next morning, I woke up early and took a 5-mile walk up the beach, to the Oceanside Pier, while Peggy and Anne slept in.

I don’t generally find many shells along the beach in Carlsbad, but the tide was low and I filled my pockets. I wanted to go out again this morning, but with the internet getting busy in the late morning and constantly kicking me off, I decided to get this post up instead. I’ll go out again on Saturday and take a bag with me to collect more.

Since we hung around the resort all day yesterday, Anne had time to cook us up a delicious dinner! The recipe is one she found on allrecipes.com. But she switched it up and made it her own, in true Annie-style.

One great twist she made was switching out the regular pasta for a chickpea variety. It was fantastic!

She found the Banza brand pasta at Sprouts (in the Phoenix area you can also find it at Whole Foods and Target) and although we didn’t have wheat pasta available to do a side-by-side tasting, I’m certain I would not be able to taste the difference if we had.

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August 11, 2017   1 Comment

Peggy’s turn to cook

This deliciousness was Tuesday night’s dinner. Peggy not only manned the grill but was master of the kitchen as well.

Since it was my night off, it didn’t even cross my mind to take any preparation photos. Sorry, but I’m on vacay! I will try to do better when Anne takes over the duties tonight.

We spent Tuesday afternoon having lunch at Stone Brewery and wine tasting at Orfila Vineards & Winery, with a little T*J*Maxx on the side.

We were ultimate Maxxinistas. Peggy was looking for a swimsuit and I was looking for a barstool. The Carlsbad patio has only two stools. There are three of us. I had no choice but to find another stool!

I was successful, Peggy was not. I picked up this industrial style barstool for $29.99. I’m keeping the tag on it in case I decide to return it after the week is over, although I’m leaning towards keeping it for future visits. Decisions, decisions.

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August 9, 2017   1 Comment

Carlsbad and a brothy pasta situation

Peggy, Anne and I are at my timeshare in Carlsbad, CA for the week.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon.

Upon our arrival, I opened the hatch of my car … and this happened. We may have over-packed a tad.

My intention was to post daily. Turns out that the WiFi is easily overworked here at the resort. This is the first day I have not been kicked off before I could at least load the photos. I’ll post as often as the network will allow.

We had a planning session before we left town, each taking a night or two to cook dinner. I was up first with a ravioli dish that I was inspired to make from an Instagram photo my friend, Gwen, posted last week. Gwen has a gorgeous blog called Pen & Fork. You can always get to it over in the “Foodie Blogroll” on the right side of the page.

For the mushroom ravioli, I used the Trader Joe’s brand. It comes with truffle sauce, which you do not want to use in this recipe.

These are the truffle sauce frozen squares. They are easily picked out and removed from the ravioli squares. You can throw them back in the freezer and use for another pasta night or you can throw them in the trash. That’s what I do because I’m not a huge truffle fan. I’ll eat it if it’s served to me but I don’t go out of my way to put it in my mouth.

The spinach is cut into thin strips. When cutting leafy greens, the technique to do so is called chiffonade. It is easy to do, just stack the leaves, roll up tightly and slice. The word is French and translates to “little ribbons.”

“Brothy Situation” Mushroom Ravioli with Shredded Chicken

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms; cleaned, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 pound package frozen mushroom ravioli
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garnish
  • Roughly chopped fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and oregano)

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August 8, 2017   1 Comment