Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Washington: the Adventure!

Currently I am sitting in a big hotel room bed, downtown Vancouver at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center. Oh! The joy. Paul is chaperoning some students for a Model United Nations Downtown and as such gets a hotel room downtown - so here we are - downtowning it up! He's got responsibilities with the students, but I don't! We get a nice mix of him working (alone time for me!) and him not working (together time!). It's perfect.

Anyways, one of my goals is to catch up on some blogging -  I have photos to edit and stories to share. So here is the first one! 

Paul was on Spring Break with his job so he had two weeks off recently. He spent the first week doing stuff around the house, and the following week, we headed off after I finished work Tuesday to enjoy some Spring Breaking. We headed on the road with a bag full of snacks and our car loaded up - off to the border!

Our first stop was Lake Stevens to visit some of Paul's family, the Swansons. I hadn't been to Lake Stevens since I was like 17 visiting friends. It's beautiful. And classically American. Perfect American High School, great houses with American Flags hanging outside and rows of cute little houses.



The Swansons have the cutest little woodsy house - comfy, homey and so comfortable. The Swansons are related to Paul through his Dad's side. Great Aunt Jenny (last name Jealouse) is Paul's Nanna's Uncle's Wife (phew), and Connie is her daughter. Connie is married to Barry, and they have three kids: Amanda, Steven and Christopher. Amanda is in Japan, but Steven and Christopher were around to see us. We had dinner all together (with Aunt Jenny too!) and hung out for the evening. We stayed with Aunt Jenny in the sweetest little cape cod, decked out like a Museum. She collects the coolest things!





In the morning we had a lovely breakfast and conversation over breakfast. We chatted and made future plans to hang out, it was lovely. We took a group photo, and then Paul and I headed off towards Puyallup, via World Market in Lynnwood.






After a great World Market trip (even Paul was happy!) we headed off to Puyallup to visit our friends Mark and Heather (and their kids Jonah and Maddie, and new cat Sam) and see their new house! We loved it - sweet new house on the border of Sumner - I am so so so very happy for them. They have been in apartments all over the area and finally have a home to settle in. We spent a lovely day with them - pizza lunch, school runs for Jonah, Fajita dinner, play time with the kids and a relaxing movie time watching "What to expect when you're expecting". Paul and I have seen it many times but it was a first for Heather and Mark and they loved it. It was a good choice.


Maddie and Jonah trying to pet the cat which was trying to hide under a sleeping Paul

Madeline, Heather and I

Thursday we left around noon (after a great breakfast and morning with the Fosters) to head to downtown  Seattle for a bike ride and some sightseeing. We had a LOVELY time. We swung through Pike Place - grabbing some beautiful apples and fruit rolls, then left the market area to follow a bike route - we ended up on Elliot Bay Bike Route - cycling past the Space Needle and through some great neighbourhoods.
























Eventually we made our way back by bike to where our car was parked - we'd left it at Rancho Bravo Taco's - one of our favorite Mexican joints. We popped in to have a tasty lunch and man we were happy - the Toquitoes there never disappoint.




After that we were off towards Renton, we swung by American Ikea (so good!) then continued further into Renton - we were staying with our friends Rebekah and Tony, which is always a real treat. This was my first time staying with them as couples - when Rebekah was single I'd go down and stay with her regularly, so it was fun to do so with the boys around. And even more fun to see her now that she's Pregnant! I'm so happy for them. They will make wonderful parents. We had a great time with the Rivisto's; lots of conversation and debate and great time together. We laughed a lot and had some really great discussions.

We headed out mid day Friday to head towards home - we did our shopping along the way (picked up tons of groceries and more) and managed to get home with everything we needed to pick up by midnight! Not bad with border waits and all - we stayed up until 2am unpacking and tidying so that the next morning we could just sleep in. Lovely.

All in all it was a wonderful trip - we had time just together, time with friends, time to be productive and time to sightsee. It was lovely.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Menu Plan Monday, Easter Weekend & Wyatt McCarthy!


Menu Plan Monday with Laura at Org Junkie

Upcoming week: 
Monday: Hot Dogs with sauteed onions, roasted vegetables & salad.
1. I have been craving hot dogs since I bought the Harvest Brand ones at Costco on Friday - they are amazing and hearty and tasty and not cheap at all. 
2. It's warm and sunny and Hot Dogs remind me of summer. 
3. Therefore we are having Hot Dogs for dinner tonight. Boom. I love being in charge. 

Tuesday: Lasagna Soup
Thankfully we had a batch of frozen soup left for such a night as this: we have plans before LG to meet with someone. So I've got a soup I can pull out and have ready in 15 minutes. My friend Hanne is coming over to prep the garlic bread for it, and she'll do that while we go to our meeting. I love when things work out.  

Wednesday: Lasagna Soup
Wednesday night we're going out for dinner, so we'll leave soup at home for our students. Most of them won't be joining us Tuesday so I can leave them the same dinner.

Thursday: Crockpot Cashew Chicken
Thursday I work, and then it's sister time - I made this one over a year ago and can hardly remember it - seemed time to give it another chance. 

Friday: Chicken Toquitoes with mexi Rice, chips & sauces. 
Food Prep in the AM + Lunch with the McCarthy's and baby Wyatt + Mexican Family Dinner at my place with the Mitchell's and my parents (18 guests total).

Saturday: YOYO
Rest + a clean up of "Harry Potters Bedroom" aka my cellar + family dinner at the Morgan's.

Sunday: YOYO
Rest + Church + Open House at the Mitchell's

Easter Monday: YOYO
Work, 8-3, then Family Dinner at the Mitchell's - with the Maxwell's and Porters too!!!

In Review: Two weeks of review!
Monday: Cordon Bleu Bubble Up ? 
Monday was a busy planning night, and I honestly can't remember what I cooked. Seriously? What was it??? Oh wait....I think no one was home for dinner except me.  Right!?! That's it. Everyone was out. I roasted up a pepper with some seasoning and a zucchini and had a lovely meal of roasted vegetables. It was a good life choice. Also then I went to bed fairly early, and it felt amazing. 

Tuesday: Broccoli, Rice and Chicken Casserole
Lifegroup was awesome - the casserole was tasty, as per usual and the time was lovely. Actually it was one of the best lifegroups we've had in ages. My back cramped up at one point, so I laid down on the floor and we kept on going around me. I love the freedom that exists to be real and authentic, emotionally and physically, with this group of people. 

Wednesday: Shrimp Penne with Garlic Sauce YOYO
Wednesday afternoon our friend and housemate Lyndsay texted and asked us if we wanted to hit up the East Side Kraft House (formerly the Elephant Walk or E Walk) for music bingo, wings and beer. My answer was an immediate yes. We invited a bunch of friends, most of whom weren't able to come, BUT our awesome friends Gina and Margot were able to come and it was an awesome night.  We got there at 7:30 and stayed until 10:30!! on a school night! We laughed so much and had so much fun. It was a perfect night. No one does wings like the E Walk and no pub makes me have as much fun as that place does - plus the ladies we were with were pretty awesome. Afterwards I was up until 11 making lunches but oh it was worth it. 


Thursday: Crockpot Creamy Tortellini Soup Creamy Chicken Taco's
Seeing as I'd been up way late, I didn't have time to think of a new recipe. So I threw together an old and easy favorite - Creamy Chicken Taco's. So simple and easy to put together and I was so thankful to come home to them. I ate and rushed out to see my sister - after we were done I headed home to bake with Jessie until Midnight - we made Cranberry Bliss Bars and Apple Brownies (really blondies). Fun times. 

Wine with Jenna

Friday: YOYO / Costco Flautas
Friday I got to have a last pre-baby lunch with my friend Lindsay - she was about to pop, but we had a lovely, lovely time. Then I did some grocery shopping, and last minute house stuff and packed a bag to head towards downtown. I spent a bit of time with jenna's family until Paul was ready for me to head down, then I met him at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center to spend the weekend. Paul was chaperoning a school trip downtown Vancouver, and he got a room at the Sheraton Wall Center, and I got to go with him! Friday night he was free between 6pm and midnight, so I joined him at 6:30 after he had checked on his kids and then we had dinner and hung out in the hotel room until he left at midnight for room check. It was so relaxing and fun. We ate and had drinks and watched a movie and talked and it was perfect, in the way it never can be when you are home and have a thousand things you need to do. 

Saturday: YOYO / ENV PARTY PARTY
Saturday was a perfect sleep in morning - then at 11 I headed off to Costco to shop for the ENV Party Party (a young adults mixer with church), pick up Hanne and head home to meet with a crew of the young adults to prep food and the house. These women were AMAZING. They helped me prep all the food, then they did all my dishes and left my kitchen spotless AND they vacuumed my floors for the party. Talk about spoiled. Those ladies were amazing. They all left for a few hours, and I headed to a baby shower for my friend Loreili. 

Loreili is someone I don't get to see that often, but we always run into events for two good friends that we share in common and I'm always so glad to see her. She's been a staple in my family for years and I'm so thankful we can easily pick up that friendship. It was so fun to celebrate her as she is about to have her third baby!

Then it was home to keep tidying, have a hot bath and read a book so there would be 20 minutes of "rest" and then get ready for the Party Party. We had about 40 people there, which was awesome. The food went over really well and there was so much mingling and fun and laughing and my heart was bursting with the happiness of it all. It was awesome. 

After people left around 10 Paul and I headed back downtown to stay at the hotel (and for him to supervise a party and do room check at midnight). It was another restful night. 

Sunday: BBQ'd Yoshida Wings & Sausages, roasted vegetables & potatoes & potluck items. 
We got to sleep in again and then we split ways - Paul stayed downtown with his students until 4pm, and I headed home to prep for the day. I had a house to tidy, a dinner to prep for and Transformations to get ready for - as well as a big giveaway at church for early registration for the Womens Retreat. It was a busy afternoon! But the giveaway went well, church was super fun, and Transformations was as impactful as ever. 

The giveaway packages!

After Transformations we had some of the class over for dinner - we got to grill for the first time this year. It was such a fun night - lots of laughter and conversation and connection. There were 10 of us, and I couldn't have asked for it to go better - despite the fact that the wings and sausages remained too frozen and took waaaay longer to cook than expected, also burning along the way. But thankfully hospitality is never about perfect - PTL. 

Monday: YOYO
Monday night we were visiting the Roos' at the house they were house sitting in downtown - we had a lovely dinner (Salmon Brai), great views from the apartment, wonderful conversation, and a killer game of Settlers that I won! Perfection



Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie
Monday night when I got home, I made lunches for the house and prepped an awesome Chicken Pot Pie. Win! When I got home from work the CPP was baking in the oven, so I could focus on doing some tidying before dinner, and after dinner it was time to work on my talk for the Womens Retreat - it was a productive night. 

Wednesday: Creamy Vodka Meatball Pasta BBQ'd fish, roasted vegetables & Dill Rice
Wednesday night we were meant to have meatball pasta but Paul called me at work begging to get to use the grill and to make fish - so we switched plans and voila a perfect summery meal. 

Thursday: Slow Cooker Orzo Pesto Soup
Thursday I put some soup in the slow cooker as I was meant to head straight over to my sisters from downtown - I was meeting my friend Mila for dinner downtown (which was lovely). However I am so glad I had food in the crockpot since my dear friend Lindsay and her husband John had a baby that day! 

The texts we sent back after we heard the good news of Wyatt's arrival!

As soon as I was done with Mila I headed over to Richmond to see them and meet sweet baby Wyatt - he was a whopping 7 hours old when I met him! We had such a lovely time with the McCarthy's and with the god-parents, the Alviars. I am so proud of my friends, and so in awe of this little guy. Plus I love his name!

John & Lindsay and Wyatt!

Stef and I meeting Wyatt

Paul always dwarfs baby's

The proud new mama

And a diaper change when Dad is out of the room - good thing there's a Godparent in the room to step in!

Friday: Cheeseburger Wraps with bacon mushroom skewers, roasted vegetables & sweet potatoe fries
Normally I have Fridays off and MAN, did I miss that this week! We stayed up late at the hospital, and then I rushed home to make lunches and hit the hay around 11, only to get up at 7am to head into work! I worked at 7:30 so I could cover for my Irene who was off on an American Vacation. Working a normal work week is exausting, I still feel slightly out of it! How did I do it before?!? Anyways, I worked and then got picked up by my friend Laura and we headed to Costco, and then home to make a tasty summery dinner. The meal turned out so well, and our time with the Froese's was awesome, as per usual. We ate and talked and laughed and played Puerto Rico (I did not win, most definitely).


Saturday: YOYO
Saturday I had my family and grandpa over for lunch - we had a Bubble Up with roasted Asparagus, roasted vegetables, Zucchini Sticks and lemon bars for dessert. It was nice to have time with my parents and my sisters family - those nephews make me smile. My Grandpa has gotten a lot older - noticeably so. It's hard to know how to talk with him - he's always been hurtful and mean and it's weird to see him old and frail - you feel these mixed emotions - he has spent his life being cruel or simply dismissive, and yet he is lonely and sad and dying. And God would call me to love him - though not be walked on by him. I find it very confusing, and so I cook for him, it's something I can do. It's tangible in the midst of my confusion on the subject. 

After my family left I got to relax for a while - it was sunny and bright. I put some brownies in the oven and then had a long hot bath while they cooked. I laid in bed for a while, I talked with Paul for a while, I read for a while. It was lovely. 

Then we were off on a walk to visit with the Lim's - they live less than 10 minutes from our house - which on a beautifully sunny day is a joy to walk to. We took the cemetary trail - and ended up getting caught in a corner of the cemetary with no exit - Paul boosted me over and we were free. It was an adventurous short walk! We spent the evening with the Lim's and it was pure joy. Great food, good company, solid friendships. I am so thankful for those two, and for their family. 

Sunday: YOYO
Sunday morning I rushed off to Superstore, Micheals (for church stuff) and the flower store (for me, obviously) and then came home to prep lunch for a Womens Ministry Meeting - and as the sun shone down I realized that we would need to eat outside - it would be WRONG not to. And oh - was it nice. Paul BBQ'd for us - he cooked up the veggie skewers, sausages and wraps that I made. Jenna brought Salad and Leah brought some amazing desserts. We are outside in the sun !!! Oh it was lovely. 


Then we headed inside for welcome package prep - we made cute little packages - 65 in an hour! Many hands makes light work! And while we worked we planned out our roles and other details for the upcoming retreat - 2 weeks away!


Then it was church - oh I enjoy hosting the service on Sundays. Transformations - my small group is awesome. Then finally babysitting my nephews - while they slept we watched halve of 2012 and now I'm hooked!


And that, finally is that. 

Except for this: Ana posted a rad picture of us, and it needs to be documented. Love.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Menu Plan Monday, April 8th


Menu Plan Monday with Laura at Org Junkie

Upcoming week: 
Monday: YOYO
Monday night was a hang out with our friends, Hanne and Drian, downtown. We ate amazingly well, had great conversation AND I won at Settlers: Cities & Knights. Good night indeed!

Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie
Monday night when I got home, I made lunches for the house. When that was done I looked at the leftovers in front of me (some roasted vegetables, cut up roasted potatoes, 2 grilled sausages, and a bowl of yoshida chicken wings) and knew I needed to make something of it - you can only serve leftovers for lunch for so long. I realized I had refrigerated pie crusts in the fridge downstairs (I always stock up in the states) and could easily turn those ingredients into something that resembles Abby's Chicken Pot Pie. So I added the veggies and potatoes to a giant bowl, cut up the sausages and shredded the wings and added that all to the same bowl. I added two cans of creamed corn, one can of green beans, 2 mini cans of mushrooms and one can of diced potatoes. Then I looked for a creamy soup - while I had a plain cream soup downstairs, I was lazy. I found a "chicken and dumpling" soup can in my upstairs pantry and used that as the flavouring. By the time it was all mixed together (with a bit of garlic and onion salt) it smelt amazing! I greased up a pan, rolled out some pie crusts, layered one on the bottom and topped with the mixture, then added the final pie payer to the top. Cut a few holes, wrap in Saran and voila - dinner is ready and waiting! It took about 45 minutes to prep it all, it only needs to bake for 45 min to an hour and it means that tonight when I get home life will be good :)


Wednesday: Creamy Vodka Meatball Pasta
Wednesday night is tax night - this pasta will be easy to make before tackling a tricky task.

Thursday: Slow Cooker Orzo Pesto Soup
Thursday is sister night AND before that I'm having dinner with Mila. I can leave this at home for Paul to complete for our house. 

Friday: Cheeseburger Wraps
Friday night we have our friends Nick and Laura coming over for dinner and a hang out - this meal sounded super tasty and Nick and Laura are always so appreciated of the food I make them - I like to make them good food.  

Saturday: YOYO
We have a date with the Lim's, so the house is on it's own!

Sunday: YOYO (or slow cooker meal, if students are around)
Sunday we will be babysitting my nephews right at dinner time - I'm not sure if I'll make something for our house - lately on the weekends, even if I make something, it doesn't get eaten....thankfully we can use it for lunches but still. 

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