Woody’s Birthday!

Woody’s Birthday – technically on February 4th….but really who celebrates their birthday on the actual day anymore?  Just kidding…in all seriousness, Woody found out a few weeks beforehand that he would have all day meetings with people from Chevron, not on February 3rd or February 5th…but on February 4th.  And when I say, all day, I mean starting with a breakfast meeting, right straight on through lunch, past happy hour and during any time period that you would consider to be the dinner hour, only to arrive home just after 10 pm.  Needless to say, we did not celebrate his birthday on the 4th.  Did you know you can do that?  Just move your birthday?  Well, you can.  I learned this early on in life, as Ciaran could clearly not have any kind of a birthday pool party in December in Utah…so…you just move your birthday.  I worked the following weekend, so we finally decided on celebrating W’s birthday on Saturday, February 13th.

We started with breakfast at Elements Cafe in Pasadena – new to both of us and chosen for the ‘Duck Sausage Breakfast Burrito’ – which I figured would make it into W’s top choices for the meal.

It’s rough when your birthday is in February, typically a month filled with cold and snow and darkness, and you’re able to sit outside at a cafe in lovely 70’ish degree weather…real rough!

Coffee was tasty and the menu enticing.

Normally, I would not be pleased with Woody’s behavior of checking his phone, looking for cool images of motorcycles…but after all…it was his birthday, so I allowed it…just this once.

The long-awaited – Duck Sausage Breakfast Burrito with a tomatillo salsa.

I ordered (and I realize I made a misstep here) the polenta with scrambled eggs and crispy prosciutto with Parmesan.  It was okay, flavors were complimentary…but the texture and overall appearance of the dish left something to be desired.  I think I was picturing crispy polenta wedges with Scrambled eggs draped over the top…as a cook, I would never place a mushy yellow ingredient as the base of the dish and then pile on top of it…another yellow, soft-textured component.  And the portion was enormous.  I should have had the ebelskivers.  These wrong decisions happen when I haven’t quite made up my mind but the waiter appears and wants my decision right that very moment and I say words…but I don’t actually mean them.

I think I would go back and give this place another chance, it seems genuine and like they are really trying but haven’t quite worked out all the kinks yet.

The rest of the day went like this…

I had big plans…and none of them really worked out…which means, that we ended up heading back to the house, relaxing and playing some Wii, and napping – which is all you really should do after having a gigantic duck sausage burrito or a humongous bowl of polenta for breakfast.  We pulled ourselves together for an early dinner reservation at Palate in Glendale, with a stop at a few dealerships on the way per Woody’s request.

Don’t worry…we’re not purchasing a truck anytime soon, except in Woody’s dream world.  But it’s fun to look and we learned a few things about dealerships in California.

1.  California car dealerships don’t need showrooms…as the weather is generally nice.  You just look at the cars on the lot.

2.  California dealerships and maybe more specifically dealerships in LA don’t carry trucks that are not 2 x 4 (or 4 x 2…I don’t know)…Woody was disappointed with the lack of 4 x 4 trucks.  I told him we could head towards Orange County and find plenty of dealerships with not only 4 x 4 trucks, but probably a few that will jack up the truck for us pre-purchase and add on some quintessential motocross stickers and accessories like truck nuts.

3.  Apparently, car salesmen at California dealerships don’t jump on any living breathing thing that walks through the door…as we wandered through a couple different showroom/sales areas and not a single person even looked up.

Now here’s how I begin to ruin not only Woody’s birthday…but also Valentine’s day…keep reading.  We sit down to a lovely dinner.  We’d been to Palate once before when my parents and sister were in town.  It is a wine store, wine bar and restaurant.  For appetizers, they do ‘potted meats,’ which are essentially rillettes mixed with a few fresh herbs, seasoned and served in a mason jar with super thin bias cut toasted baguette.  They also do amazing house-made pickles of various sorts…cucumber being the boring option although probably the best pickle I’ve ever had.  This place would be worth it just for the potted berkshire pork and a glass of wine…but we didn’t stop there.  We both ordered a starter of sorts (the portions are reasonable) and then an entree.

I ordered a goat cheese gnocchi with lamb cheeks and english peas with herbs, followed by a sea bass with morels and a root vegetable puree.  Woody started with a lamb tartare served appropriately with a raw quail egg cracked on top, and followed that with a pork belly dish that was notable for it’s crisp skin and smoky flavor.  They have a ridiculous cheese menu…but we couldn’t do it.  Too full.  So, we left and headed home.  We did stop for some frozen yogurt at a new place in our neighborhood…and then it was back to the house to release the hound and open some presents.  (Note – I began feeling a little off somewhere between leaving Palate, getting yogurt and arriving home.)

We started turned on the fire place and sat down to enjoy the living room.  Cleo loves it when we sit on the floor…it’s her chance to attack.

Woody had a box from Minnesota, a card from Pop and Barby and a few goodies from me.

Cleo couldn’t wait and pounced giving Woody her present…licks all over his face…so much that his beard smelled like dog breath.

Woody received some cookbooks, a fly-fishing in California book, a wool patagonia top and a ski movie…all things Woody loves!  We then sat down to watch a movie…and this is when I really started feeling ill (no more than an hour after we left Palate).  My stomach felt awful and I was shaky and dizzy and just ill.  I went to bed trying as best I could to not move, as any movement made my stomach churn.  I managed to fall asleep, only to wake up 2 hours later at 11:30…fully knowing that I was about to ‘toss my cookies’.  I was sick, very sick, food poisoning sick.  Cleo was even concerned…why would her humans be kneeling in front of the toilet making bad noises?  And the worst part is…I couldn’t figure out what it was that made me sick – my best guess is the sea bass…but Woody and I shared everything we had eaten that night…and he had more than a few bites of both my dishes and he was perfectly fine…except for grumbles about how a pukey wife kind of ruins a birthday.  I managed to make it back to bed and fall asleep.  I woke feeling okay, and took it easy the next day…but Valentine’s day is not early as fun when you’re not interested in cooking a fun and interesting dinner.  So…that concludes the ‘how I ruined my husband’s birthday and valentine’s day in one bite…of something bad.

So…here is another little something for Woody – a bit of glory for a day of hunting with Cleo this fall.  In November, I was out of town and Woody and Cleo headed to Frazier Mountain to hunt for quail.  He got one and Cleo did what she loves best and brought it back.  Cleo was a little too energetic to sit still for a photo…so the gun and the bird would have to do.

Happy Birthday Woody!

(sorry I puked)

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Morning Walks

Although we grumble and moan and sometimes hit the alarm a few too many times, or end up a little late to work – taking Cleo on her morning walk has become a calming habit.  Every once in a while, I’ve got my camera in my pocket (trying to resist the urge to check my email before I’m even truly awake) and remember to take it out and take a few photos.

Long Overdue Christmas Montage…

Christmas 2009 for Woody and I involved a trip to Salt Lake with my family – and I do mean ALL of my family.  2 parents, 4 siblings, 2 spouses, 1 grandchild/niece and 2 in-laws plus 3 dogs and 2 cats, and me – full house.

Cleo thinks she is a tiny little lap dog and was pleased to learn that she was secretly allowed on the furniture…when certain people weren’t watching!

Cleo and my parents dogs all got along…however, the kitties were not thrilled to have Cleo in the house – she could hardly believe that little squirrel-like animals were allowed in the house and frequently went into stalking mode whenever she caught a glimpse on one.

Lots of cooking, lots of eating!

Cooking up the pheasant and partidge – see full post here.

Avery – the entertainer of the week!

Not yet walking…but mobile in her walker…she loved to follow the dogs around

And play in the dog water bowls.  Bath time – which happens twice a day is her favorite part of the day!

Weather was nice…a few small snow storms…but a lot of soupy haze and fog.  The typical January inversion set in a little early.

How big is Avery?   SOOOO BIG!

We got in a game or two of tennis!

This is the monkey crawl…one leg forward and one leg dragging behind.

She also loves being upside down and prefers for Dad to carry her around like this!

All spruced up for Christmas

Christmas Eve afternoon included a tasting of Rory and Liam’s homebrew

I think there were at least 8 or 9 different beers to taste

Christmas dinner – which happens on Christmas Eve – in the final stages

Babies love grandparents and christmas trees and getting their picture taken

Christmas Morning begins with a story

His future title…wearing it with pride!

Kittie were sequestered in my parents bedroom while Cleo was on the loose – which didn’t stop her from staring for long un-interrupted periods of time through the doors trying to figure out her plan pf attack.

Avery is very serious about reading and books…lots of focus.

There was lots of napping and reading by the fire

It’s a face-off – avery vs. pets!

Not surprisingly…she also loves the johnny jump-up!

The trip was rounded out with a very competitive game of Local Utah-Monopoly.  Anyone want to buy the Salt Lake Temple…?  No…how about the beehive house?

Coyote in the ‘hood…

All winter long, we’ve spotted coyotes in our neighborhood.  While some sightings are typical and expected – it seems the consensus among our neighbors is that the coyote activity has increased significantly.  One evening in December, I was sitting in our bedroom at the back of the house, suddenly, there was a lot of commotion and dogs barking – surprising, since we don’t see that many dogs around.  I asked Woody if he had heard it…and he was completely unaware – the video games were a bit too loud.  I looked out our front door, didn’t see anything, the phone rang, and it was our neighbor.  Although it was dark, she saw the whole thing just across the street from our houses.  Two coyotes approached a man walking his dog.  The dog started barking and growling, the coyotes did not back away or turn and run, instead they snarled back and stood their ground.  Eventually the confrontation dissipated and luckily, no one was hurt.

During the next week, we ran into coyotes almost every morning on our walk with Cleo.  And soon after that, there were signs posted for missing kitties and signs from the Pasadena Humane Society stating ‘A coyote was in the area’.

Things have quieted down since then, but we still occasionally see one of them.  Woody spotted the one in the photos on his walk to work about 8:15 in the morning a week or so ago.  Woody thinks there might be a den in a cul de sac 2 blocks away from our house.  That might explain why we’ve seen 2 coyotes together quite often and potentially explains the slightly more aggressive behavior we’ve observed as well.  Either way, I kind of like the fact that we live in LA, and yet, have significant wildlife sightings from our front door.  The photos are not prize winning…they’re from an iphone.

Excuse the changes…

I’m trying out a few different themes and working on the design…pardon the changes and fee free to let me know what you think. Some of my pic’s from Picasa are coming out really dark on the screen

a relaxing weekend…

Woody and I enjoyed a relaxing and productive weekend, although it still feels like we are trying to catch up.  We spent Friday night at a surprise birthday party for one of Woody’s colleagues.  Saturday morning, we went to one of our favorite places for breakfast, Julienne’s in South Pas. Each time we go, almost all of their menu tempts me, but I always end up getting the same thing – Parmesan potato cakes topped with scrambled eggs, fresh tomato salsa and a basil guacamole – so good!

We thought out a few cooking projects, ran some errands and were home midday.  Woody spent most of the afternoon building his new bike – a purchase we’d been planning for some time.  Now that we both have bikes, we’re hoping to ride more and drive less – to the farmer’s market, old town Pasadena, etc.

Our Meyer lemon tree is producing more than a pair of rabbits…we can’t seem to pick them, give them, or use them fast enough – please send along any thoughts and ideas for Meyer Lemons!  And of course, I was finally able to take down Christmas…only a month late…but way better than leaving it up so long that you can justify not taking it down until after the next christmas.  Dinner at our friends completed the day along with a game of Settlers of Catan – a board game where the board is different every time, and it’s a little like risk, but instead of conquering countries, you are accumulating resources to buy settlements, roads, and cities.  I wasn’t intrigued at first…but I’ll admit, it is a little addictive, especially when the competition heats up and the trash talking begins.

Sunday came, and Woody had some work to do at the office and I spent the day…and I do mean, the ENTIRE day at Ikea!  Not many purchases, but a lot of ideas and the one thing that Woody required I return with – Ikea meatballs, sauce and lingonberry jam – mmmmm, dinner!