As of late…

Things have been a bit busy, crazy, hectic, ridiculous…

I have been home for only 22 days since the 10th of April…and I’ve taken 7 different trips…most for work, 1 to Salt Lake to see Liam and Rory’s new restaurant, and 1 to Savannah, GA for a wedding.  It has been hectic, but also very good.  I’m really loving my job, teaching Wilderness Medicine Courses.  The locations have been fun, the people I work with have been great and the work is constantly challenging and the students are inspiring!  My travel is not done yet…in fact, tomorrow I’m headed for the Bay area to teach a re-certification course, and then lead a backpacking trip for Big City Mountaineers in Yosemite!

Here are some moments from the last couple months!

I worked a 10 day course in San Francisco.

It’s hard to complain when this is what your office looks like!

While I’m gone, Woody texts me photos of our ridiculous dog! (Who sleeps like this!?!)

I had an extra day and drove around exploring…Golden Gate Park, Sutro Baths, China Beach, and Ocean Beach!

I had some beautiful weather!

Cleo found a peacock in our neighbor’s yard.

I taught two courses in Portland…

Some rain, some sun, very pretty!

Super fun to see Avery & Eloise and spend some time with Ciaran and Kate!  Looking forward to my next course in the area!

Judy and Laura came for a visit…we packed in quite a bit into two days!  LACMA!

Woody’s favorite piece of art…

We took a quick weekend trip to Salt Lake City to see for ourselves, Liam, Rory and Andrew’s new venture, Avenues Proper.  I am so proud of my brothers!  From an inkling of an idea a ways back…to an open and functioning restaurant and brewery – amazing!

Looking forward to my next trip!

We managed to make it up to Heber to see the horses!

And of course, we watched as much Game of Thrones as we possibly could and played a lot of Excite Truck – a special request of Liam!

Neither of us had seen Utah’s new Museum of Natural History.

Call me impressed!

The views are gorgeous!

A trip to Salt Lake would not be complete without a stop here…

and of course the Mole Sampler!

Back to southern California…and I headed to Lake Cachuma to teach a weekend course.  It’s halfway between Santa Barbara and Los Olivos!

I squeezed in a pre-birthday dinner with this lady!  Love her…and love me some chicken and waffles (Liam – your version is better!).

Next, we were off to Savannah, GA for the wedding of our friends Jon & Sara.

Saw some thunderhead’s building up over the middle of the country.

Explored the moss-covered trees and parks in the historic district!

Spotted a mode of transportation that NEEDS to be in my future.  I’ll be driving the scooter and Woody will ride shotgun!

Lots of fun catching up with friends from Harvard!

And ogling the crazy super-yachts and sailboats docked on the river!

These two are so cute and so in love…and they share the same birthday…Valentine’s Day.  I think I just threw up in my mouth.  Just kidding…I love ’em!

The ceremony was perfect and the basil gimlets were delightful!

On our flight home, Woody sat across the aisle from Ernie Hudson – one of the original Ghostbusters!  This is my stealthy photo!

Flying back from Savannah was the start of too much time in airports…which included Savannah, Houston, LAX, Burbank, SFO and Chico…all within 24 hours.  SFO is where I spent 13 unplanned hours…after multiple flight delays and a cancelation…I finally arrived at my hotel in Chico at 3:15 am.

Don’t worry I managed to get almost 3 hours of sleep before I was up again and getting ready to teach 30 students for 10 days straight!

My co-instructor and I made a point to go on the Brewery tour at Sierra Nevada.

They have an impressive facility, which they’ve built over the years!

They have (one of?) the largest privately owned solar arrays in the country…and plenty of sun!

The tour ended with a tasting, many of the beers I had not tried before!

Then there was more teaching.  We employ very creative teaching techniques…here, my co-instructor Liam is acting out a patient with cardiac issues as I run through a patient assessment!

Also…it was hot!  (did I mention this?)  It was REALLY hot!

Also, really beautiful!

I arrived home…for 5 hours…and found some presents waiting for me!!!

Love the clutch!  Thanks Giselle!

And then I opened the clutch to find this…

“For those of you wondering where my beard went: fret not it is still around, just not on my face. Liz has it.”

-Mark Fischer via Facebook

Home for a couple hours…and then I was off to drive north of Malibu, where I taught a weekend WFA course at a camp near Leo Carillo State Beach.  I was making a phone call and turned around to see this little guy.  Actually, he wasn’t so little!

More teaching!

I got back Sunday…cumpled into bed exhausted and spent Monday putting my life back together as my time at home is short once again.  Monday night we put my latest birthday present from Woody, a baking steel (kind of like a pizza stone but made of pure steel) to the test and had two delicious pizzas!

Tuesday was a blur…and this morning, WOody and I were up before 5 am to get him to the airport with his Watermaster raft and all his fishing gear for a week of fishing near the Henry’s fork of the Snake river.

I returned home after a stop for some coffee and took Cleo for her morning walk.

June Gloom has set in full force…but who can complain when your trees shower the sidewalks with purple flowers!

Back on the road tomorrow…home at the end of June with hopefully some more photos and an adventure or two to share!

Happy Summer!

Snapshots and a bit more…

So far 2013 has been pretty great!

I started a new job (teaching wilderness medicine courses) which is working out great!  My first course was in Berkeley and I had the privilege of teaching with a friend from college!

My students were an interesting mix and even wrote a limerick about me on the last day of class!

After Berkeley, it was on to Utah to (hopefully) get in a few days of skiing, see my family and meet up with Woody who gave a talk at the U!

The weather did its best to keep us from skiing…freezing rain storm, weird inversion, crazy fog, horrible air quality…so while woody was busy, I did my best to keep busy!

Liam and Rory and their partner Andrew are deep in the midst of recipe testing, construction, beer brewing, contractor and architect meetings in preparation of opening their gastropub in the Aves – they’re hoping to open in April!  Check them out on facebook, there has been quite a bit of buzz about them already, as evidenced here.

Work got crazy for Woody and he had to head back to Pasadena a couple of days early, but my last day in town, Wynne, Liam and I headed up to Alta for my first day of skiing in a couple of years.  (which, by the way, is a totally depressing fact!)

I’ve got to admit…I surprised myself.  I pretty much thought my legs would crumble to pieces after a couple runs…but they held up well.  Although it was INCREDIBLY windy, it was snowing and it just kept snowing more and more…so much that it was hard to finally decide to call it a day.  Great snow…great skiing…and I only really crashed hard once.  We expected a bit of a slog down canyon (Sunday evening, the OR show ended, Sundance Film Festival ended, Alt Summit ended, roads were bad, everyone stayed later since the skiing was soooo good).  However…none of us expected this…

We left the parking lot at 3:45 pm.

We arrived home at 7:35 pm.

The drive is just about 20 miles.

We averaged 5 miles an hour.

It was AWFUL!

For me the next morning meant a 5:00 am wake up so I could get to the airport for a 7:30 am flight back to Pasadena.  It continued snowing all night long, and while I made the (silly) assumption that the roads might be vaguely plowed…and by roads I mean Interstate 80…by 5:30 in the morning…I was proved wrong.

Between snowy slick roads, dragging luggage through piles of slush, overheated airports and the general unpleasantness of travelers before the crack of dawn…my morning was less than stellar!  Let’s just say I was pleased to be returning to mid-70 degree weather!

Back in Pasadena, Cleo and I got into a fairly regular schedule.

We’ve spotted some unusual things…

This is about a 10 inch long lizard tale artfully placed on our front stoop.  I have yet to see the tail-less lizard lurking around.

A few of our mornings have been quite cold!  (I can hear the laughter of those in places like Minnesota, Utah and the east coast!)  Yes, that is ice on the top of the car.

And frost on the grass!

But…it’s still California!

Woody took off on a field trip to Death Valley with students for the weekend and I had a whirlwind Saturday that involved about 140 miles of driving.  Carrie happened to be in town for a conference the whole week and had a bit of time Saturday morning before she flew out of Orange County.  I drove down to Irvine and met up with her for some breakfast and exploring at this place…which we stumbled upon.  It was very non-orange county and was a bit of a gem!

I think it is where hipsters go to recharge their flannel-clothed-beard-wearing-yoga-loving-craft-inspired-woodgrain-addicted-batteries.  The photos on yelp explain it all.  Old Vine Cafe provided a delicious (if not huge) breakfast!  And as usual, Carrie and I never remember to get a photo of the two of us.  After dropping her at the airport, I headed towards San Pedro to explore this place and partake in a blogger crafting event in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

Fun to make some new crafts, meet some bloggers in person whom I know through their online photos and writing.  After I finished my crafting…it was time to drive to the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area to pick up two bottles of wine Woody and I bought for some friends at a wine event the week before.

LA has so much to explore…it’s nice to get out and see some new places!

And of course, get stuck in some traffic as well.

Sunday brought another storm, and since I hauled all of my ski stuff back to SoCal from Utah, it was time to attempt skiing in Southern California.  I had high hopes…

You can spot the snowy peaks after about 35 minutes heading west on the freeway.

About 14 miles from the exit up a very windy road…you reach Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts.  This is about as far as I got…actually, I parked, had time to put on all of my gear and as I was reaching for my skis from the top of the car, one of the parking attendants drove by in a truck mentioning that the winds were blowing so hard up top…they were closing for the day.

Plans thwarted!

All was not lost…as I was just about out of the foothills, I kid you not…a BOBCAT ran across the road in front of my car about 30 feet away!  My jaw dropped and I actually said it out loud in the car…”I just saw a bobcat run across the road!”  It looked just like this…except running!

Thanks to Mr. Bobcat – all was not lost!

Since I have chunks of time in between the courses I teach, I have been trying to get out as much as possible and explore new areas of LA county.  Jennie and I both had a Wednesday afternoon free…so we took Cleo for a hike in Eaton Canyon.  It’s a beautiful area…very popular…and on the weekends very crowded.  It’s a quick 3 mile round trip hike up to the waterfalls and much of it is shaded.  The afternoon was made even better when we topped it off with a stop for some frozen yogurt!

Valentine’s Day came and went.  Woody and I made Gruyere Fondue and started watching season 1 of The Wire…again.

Cleo has been enjoying the sun…Her tongue sticking out is too much in this pic!

With our chilly nights, she has also made it a habit (Woody has been a bad influence) to snuggle under the covers early in the morning until we can’t hit snooze on our alarm clocks anymore.

Fast forward to yesterday, it was time for Mt. Baldy: Round Two!

There are a couple of things to note about the image above.

1.  There is not a lot of snow on the ground – therefore, you have to take Chair #1 up to “The Notch” in order to even get to any terrain that would be mildly ski-able.

2.  I count approximately 15 cars visible – another area is out of view…so on the high-end, let’s estimate that there are 70 cars in the parking lot.  Total!  And not all of those are cars of skiers and snowboarders.  Mt. Baldy is very popular for scenic rides to the Notch, and there is a tubing area as well.

3.  It was cold – about 25 degrees.

4.  Those are some rickety chairs…also chair #1 takes approximately 25 minutes.

At this point I still wasn’t quite sure what I had gotten myself into.

At the top of the lift, it was more than a little unclear as to where the other lifts were.  Not a whole lot of signage and no obvious flow of skiers.  Only two lifts with actual ski-able runs were running, and 1 is really a short connector chair to get you back up to the notch from the gully where chair #3 is.

This little place is a lot like Alta, in that, everything is open…runs are not defined by trees…only defined by the amount of snow.  If they had a 3 foot base, you could ski anywhere and it would be amazing.  I headed off to skier’s left to catch what was left of the 10 inches of new snow from the storm that is now plowing towards the east coast.  I’m glad I did, although I skied over my fair share of willows trying to poke through the snow and at least a few rocks…and there were definitely some icy patches.

Apparently, the ski patrol (most of which is volunteer) all have crampons and ice axes in their lockers as there is a good chance that somebody gets themselves into a place that they can’t get out of…and just skiing out to them to assist is not really an option.

It was a lot like skiing at Alta is like in early November.  Thin is a bit of an understatement.  The views are incredible, the two groomed runs were really pleasant, and the complete lack of yahoos is unheard of for Southern California!  The view above is looking back towards the LA basin and the view below is looking out towards Victorville…basically you can see a good third of the way to Vegas.

I skied more than I thought I would…answered a lot of questions about “why I was cross-country skiing down the mountain?”…and decided to call it a day, knowing that it would be about an hour and a half before I got home with the 30 minute lift ride and traffic back to Pasadena.

So when I came up, I had to put my skis on right before getting on the lift…and coming down, you have to take your skis off…then they load them on to the chair behind you and hope the chair doesn’t swing so much that your skis slide right off.    The liftee was flummoxed by my tele skis…they don’t lock together and the center bar of the chair makes it difficult to hold your own skis.  Finally a sunbeaten older patroller came to the rescue and taught the liftee how to do it.  Riding down a chairlift with no skis on was a new experience as well!

All in all, it was a good day.  I’m glad I went and I might even look into getting onto their volunteer patrol.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the next storm and see if I can get more than 2 days of skiing in this winter!

Okay…

Now you are up to date!

Phew…that was a long one!

So it’s 2013…

Turns out (shocking, I know) I took a lot of photos during 2012…perhaps too many.  Some made it up here, but at least 80% did not.  I found a neat little app (memovy) that will time-lapse photos from your phone and add a little music to it as well.

(also, I mistakenly titled it 2013…when it should really say 2012…but I can’t change it now…so deal)

Here’s a quick recap of 2012…

We traveled to…

  • Monterey, CA
  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Portland
  • South Africa
  • San Francisco
  • Mammoth
  • Jackson, WY
  • Yellowstone
  • Arizona
  • Idaho
  • Sonoma
  • DC
  • Santa Barbara
  • Princeton, NJ
  • Georgia
  • Lander, WY
  • and probably a few other places I’ve forgotten.

We…

  • Attended two college graduations
  • Threw a joint 60th birthday party
  • Celebrated from afar another 60th birthday
  • Went wine tasting (three times)
  • Went on at least 2 fishing trips
  • Quit a job
  • Then got a job with NOLS (bucket list)
  • Cooked a lot of good food
  • Completed a Triathlon
  • Lost 10 pounds
  • Had papers published
  • Breathed new life into our 12-year-old Subaru (According to our checkbook, it should last another 12 years now)
  • Reconnected with a friend from high school
  • Reconnected with at least 5 friends from college
  • Watched our nieces and nephew grow up (way too fast)
  • Visited family
  • Had family visit us
  • Drove MANY miles
  • Worked hard
  • Threw a Christmas party
  • Had friends visit us
  • and I’m sure there is more…

Here’s to an even better 2013 filled with more adventures, road trips, friends and family!

Sunday in Salt Lake

After two days in San Fran, I flew to Salt Lake and Woody headed home to Pasadena to take care of Cleo.

The two days in SLC have been filled with swimming, cooking, a Christmas party, catching up, delicious food, wonderful snowstorms, fun times with nieces, plenty of wine, some more cooking, playing games and making Christmas cookies.

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Let’s talk SUMMER!

Summer is about to officially end…and I’ve got a lot to catch you up on.  It’s been a busy summer with lots of travel and adventures.  Let’s start in mid-May…

We visited Colorado to see Sarah graduate from CC!

typical Colorado spring weather – chilly and rainy

bbq and beer to celebrate while watching the sun be eclipsed

Then, back to California…

for Wynne’s graduation from Redlands…

she’s the one in the middle looking very scholarly

with a bonus visit of Ciaran, Kate, Avery and Eloise for day or so…

Avery really likes writing out her letters…and rolling around in chalk!

any rectangles drawn must be completely filled in!

and this one…she kills me!

and we can’t forget about Cleo…she celebrated her 5th birthday in May…

I celebrated a friend’s birthday with some beach time with bonfires!

Most of June was consumed by secret planning for this…

the dual celebration of both my parents turning 60 this year…

lots of good times…with dogs in the pool…

and planning this…

what is formally known as one of the better Connelly Family Birthday traditions…a pie fight!

complete with chocolate pudding and whip cream!

There were many walks with Cleo…the best ones involve squirrel-stalking!

Mid-July found both Woody and I traveling for work.  He first went to Stanford for some instrument time…and I embarked on a road trip with the final destination of Denver to work a course for Big City Mountaineers.

I left Pasadena and headed through Las Vegas to Springfield, Utah…just outside of Zion.

The heat was outrageous in Vegas…and massive desert thunderstorms broke out just as I left the interstate!  I truly miss summer storms.  

(Oddly, as I sit here right this moment, Pasadena is experiencing a rare bout of thunder and rain…and I could not be more pleased!)

It had been at least 10 years…and maybe even closer to 15 years since I had been through Zion…you can truly forget how beautiful and stunning the landscape can be.

The next day had me driving to Salt Lake/Park CIty.  I stayed with some of my favorite peeps…Carrie and Andre.  I seemed to bring the weather along with me wherever I traveled as well.  Hot and stuffy when I arrived and by 9 pm, it was blustery, chilly and the power was out!

From Park City, I drove towards Glenwood Springs to catch up with a friend from high school whom I haven’t seen since her wedding!

a little swimming in the hot springs and lots of catching up over beers and dinner and hanging out with her cute little family!

One last day of driving towards Denver, with only 2 cd’s left to go on my book on tape, 30 minutes into the drive…

this happened…

Apparently the little Subie just could not go any further…called AAA and waited…and poured water in the radiator every so often as it became clear very quickly that things were HOT!

Pop quiz:  Anyone know how far AAA will tow for free…?  I do!  1oo miles – above and beyond is an additional charge.  Question #2 – how far from Denver did my car break down?  132 miles!

Okay, I can’t resist…question #3 – how long did it take to drive (the tow truck driver…not me) those 132 miles…?  More than 6 hours!  That is an average speed of 22 miles per hour…and 3.5 more hours than I intended to spend in the company of my tow truck driver.  Can’t say I didn’t learn a thing or two…mainly about cougar hunting, the history of the Vail area and of course…how the ‘illegals are stealing all the jobs’ and that this president we have is ‘doing nothing more than ruining our country.’

Character building…that’s how I made myself feel better about the whole situation.

I made it to Denver, dropped the car at a shop and was generously picked up by a friend for some dinner and carting all my shtuff to the house where I was staying.  Monday brought with it prepping for the trip I was leading and making very expensive decisions about what to do with the car.  Turns out the engine was ‘done’ and needed to be completely rebuilt…and since we’re in there…why not replace the clutch too.

Tuesday…course begins.  Backpacking with 4 girls and 2 adult volunteers for 7 days in the Medicine Bow Wilderness in Wyoming.

The trip was great…girls were amazing and a lot of fun.  Three were Nepali and one from Rwanda – lots of cultural differences to discuss and learn about and the scenery could not have been better.  I have definitely bookmarked the area in my brain for a future personal trip.

And then…because I needed yet another thing to pop up and get in my way…

I found myself in a doctor’s office hoping for an explanation as to why a good portion of my feet were numb and tingly (and had been since the day 2 of the course).  This was particularly important as I was scheduled to lead a second trip for BCM 5 days later.  The answer was not what I hoped to hear – 1) they don’t know exactly why my feet were numb and tingly; 2) strongly recommended against leading another backpacking trip; and 3) gave me the diagnosis of ‘digital nerve damage with cause unknown’.  Great.  Just garreat.

So, now the car is fixed, but my feet are broken.  Thanks to another instructor coming through at the very last-minute, I was off the hook and the trip headed out into the field right on schedule.

I now found myself with some time on my hands in Denver…so my Mom hopped a plane and joined me for a surprise girls weekend full of Olympic watching, relaxation, dinners out, afternoon tea, a little shopping and a seeing my first live musical – Jersey Boys.

The afternoon thunderstorms continued and I could not get enough of them!

Since I was not working the course…it was now time to drive back towards Pasadena.  I left Golden and headed for the open road!

I drove some roads I never had before, starting with US-285 from Denver to Fairplay to Buena Vista…

 Through Salida and then west towards Gunnison…

And finally to Montrose where I stopped for the night…

In the a.m., I headed due south towards Durango driving through Ouray.

Can we discuss how great road trips are?  I mean, really.  The scenery continually shifting, with tunes of your choice (or a good book or two on tape)…what is not to like!

I just kept reaching for the camera…I couldn’t help myself!

I passed through Mancos and Cortez and headed southwest through the Navajo Nation towards Flagstaff.

Passing right through the Four Corners.

This is pretty much how I roll…

Leaving the red dirt of the desert behind and heading up to 7000 feet and the Ponderosa forests of Flagstaff.

It was too early to stop when I hit Flagstaff…so I drove on to explore a new town…Prescott.  I found an amazing little place to stay…grabbed a bite to eat and watched some more olympics.

The next morning marked my last day on the road.  It was hardly more than a 6 hour drive back to Pasadena…and Woody was returning from his field work in South Africa that same morning.

Yet another road I had not yet driven…and incredibly beautiful.  Note that there is only one lane on the road…the east-bound traffic was 700 feet below.

It was my first time driving through Palm Springs…and perhaps not the best time of year/day for a positive impression – it was scorchingly hot, and apparently it’s a time of year when many businesses shut down for two or three weeks…like the shoulder seasons in a ski town.  Not much else to say.

And then, rather anti-climactically…I arrived home to Pasadena!  It was REALLY nice to be home and to see Woody and Cleo…and unpack…and cook in our own kitchen.

We belated celebrated our 6 year anniversary with a night out at The Bazaar by José Andrés…and this is definitely the prettiest gin and tonic I’ve ever had!

The experience was amazing and we hardly grazed the surface of the expansive menu which includes both traditional and modern (read: molecular gastronomic) tapas.

Green olives…real on the bottom and liquid olive spheres on top!

Tortilla Espagnola…re-thunk!

And the most interesting philly cheesesteak I’ve ever eaten…hollow inside with a cheese creamy foam piped inside with wagyu beef and chives.  The meal included many more dishes…too many to share and the iPhone photos don’t do the tapas justice.  A memorable anniversary for sure!

Then…we landed on Mars!

Well, not actually “we” as in Woody and myself…but “we” as in humanity…or at least a roving remote-controlled science lab landed on Mars.  This was an opportunity for tailgating at Caltech…where the very idea of such is foreign.  There were of course more official and formal celebrations being held on campus…none of which we were invited to (read: allowed into).  So, some creative ambitious grad students got to setting up a projector with a laptop and a set of speakers on the side of one of the buildings…lawn chairs were set-up, and beer and twizzlers were passed around while watching the live feed from the NASA website of mission control at JPL.

Colleagues of Woody’s have been instrumental in the MSL project and we spotted a few familiar faces on the screen throughout the broadcast.

That’s John Grotzinger on the right – Project Scientist for Mars Science Lab – and a good friend of ours!

Mark had some work in Anaheim…so he squeezed in a visit.

Always fun to have him in town, if even for a short time.

The next weekend we headed for a morning hike in Griffith Park as part of our attempt to be tourists in our own city…so many things still to do!

Whew!  I think that most brings us up to date…at least through mid-August.  We returned on Tuesday from a long weekend in the eastern Sierras…so hopefully I can get some of those pictures up soon.  I am truly in disbelief that tomorrow is SEPTEMBER!

Can I get a “YIKES!”?

Kind of a Big Deal…

Alright…I’m doing some proverbial tooting of the familial horn…specifically in regards to my younger brothers.  They are kind of a big deal!

First…is Liam…I’ll mention him first as he’s got a case of middle child syndrome and I wouldn’t want to add to that…he runs/cooks/manages/etc. this place with his partner and executive chef, Chelsa Best and they make amazing and delicious items in an unexpected locale – Bountiful, UT.  You can see some of their summer menu items here from my visit in August.  But I had occasion to be back in the Utah last week and squeezed in a dinner at eatery 1025 with Rory – the other brother – also known as ‘the boy’.  Please forgive the rough iPhone photos…it continues to boggle my mind how hard it is to hold the iPhone still while holding back your drool.  Also…we neglected to get photos of half the things we ate…just how it goes!

Prior to this delight arriving at the table, we were served some crusty bread with garlic oil and pecorino with black pepper.  Seen above is the toasted polenta cakes with a wild mushrooms and goat cheese mixture on top with sharp arugula and a balsamic drizzle.

The evening’s special salad was Sweet potato and spinach with a citrus vinaigrette with goat cheese, pistachios and dried cherries.  A nice early spring salad, a light vinaigrette with the weight of the sweet potatoes.

Melted Brie Bruschetta.  Normally this amount of cheese would be rich in the extreme…and it was decadent…but underneath that melty goodness lies a layer of a lovely fruit jam which changes often.

The Boy ordered the zucchini pasta (no pasta involved) which is served with sausage and ricotta salata.

And I could not resist the chicken marsala served with mushrooms, pancetta, and seared green beans.

The seared green beans were an unexpected and totally necessary component of the dish…just enough char to add depth.  I am looking forward to searing some green beans myself after that.

If you are in Utah…or if you are passing through…(I-15 is nearby)…make sure you stop by.  It is worth the small detour and you’ll be supporting a local business.  Also…please note their panna cotta is amazing and I had a butterscotch pudding that changed my mind about the butterscotch as a flavor in general (as in – mention butterscotch and I tune out…no interest).

Alright moving on to The Boy…he makes beer…both brothers make beer but this one does it for income currently and works for Epic Brewing Company (note: must be over 21 to view the site) in Salt Lake City.

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He’s brewed and been a member of the team for over a year now and added one of his own personal recipes to the repertoire.  Rio’s Rompin’ Rye Ale!  Pretty exciting to see your own brother’s beer on a shelf in a liquor store…and a Utah liquor store at that!

He is making some delicious brews and finding his place in the world!  And as of the other day is now in Chicago for a few weeks for brew school.  Any recommendations of joints to hit up while he is there will be passed along!  I sampled another fine brew while in Salt Lake…

It is similar to a black IPA…a recent obsession of Woody’s and mine and was a welcome end to a long day of classes!  You might even be able to find some of these epic brews in your neck of the woods…they are all over the place lately and are constantly touring their beers around the country!  Keep an eye out.

As I said…Liam and The Boy…kind of a big deal!

Alright 2011…it’d better be good!

We rang in the new year last night with friends, delicious soup, games and an early to bed night.  I know…New Year’s Eve is not usually an early night…but travel wears you out.  Which brings me to the end of 2010.  We celebrated the holidays with both our families after some last-minute travel plans.  We flew to Minnesota on Christmas Eve and got in just in time for a roast ham and many a Fischer.  There were grandparents, sisters, brothers, a nephew, a brother-in-law, a sister-in-law and of course a mom and dad…and snow.  A lot of snow.  We had a wonderful time in Minnesota and then it was on to Utah…nearly didn’t make it after a snag (delayed flight) in our travel…but got in just in time for dinner.  Again…there was a lot of family, and a snowstorm, and this time…two nieces.  Lots of fun and laughter and catching up in MN and UT…and then it was time to head back to Pasadena.  We arrived yesterday, picked up our tuckered out dog…and relaxed a bit before the evening plans.

This morning, I literally woke to the sounds of the fighter jet fly-by signaling the start of the Rose Parade…it was THAT loud…because…it was THAT close!  So we watched us a little parade…and we made a little morning chai…and we nibbled on holiday goodies still lingering around the house.  The sun was shining and Cleo needed to become a solar dog.  Our street was completely parked up…and we’ve done basically nothing today…which is fabulous!

We did watch the Rose Bowl and cheered for TCU…luckily they held out and beat Wisconsin.  We enjoyed some classic snacks…queso and tortilla chips as well as onion dip and some potato chips.

Enjoy a quick look at our holidays, our travels and our families!

Pasadena!

How Woody and Cleo like to relax during the holidays.

Our stockings…hung by the fire, watched over by the buffalo skull!

Our set up for our holiday party.

This pheasant ornament plagued Cleo the entire month of December…first it smelled like pheasant…real pheasant…and then to top it off…I hung it from the chandelier in the dining room by some fishing line…so it looked like it was floating in mid-air…and here’s the kicker – we lit some candles on the table just before the party and the heat from the flames created just enough air disturbance that all of a sudden…out of nowhere, the floating pheasant began to move and swing all on its own – this was too much for Cleo.  She was on point in the dining room, in full hunting mode, trying to alert us that there was a PHEASANT IN THE HOUSE…HELLO!!!

Christmas Eve in Pasadena – fallen leaves, bright green grass, sunshine and 60 degrees!

Minnesota

In contrast with Christmas Eve in Minnesota – 2 feet of snow, icy roads, frozen lakes and single digit temperatures.

Grandin, Laura and Will

Grandin loves stories and books and being read to by Grandpa – who doesn’t…?!

And of course, the boxes are almost always more fun to play with than the toys that came in them.

Woody written in Marathi – a gift from Sarah, freshly returned from study abroad in Pune, India.

Another fabulous present for Kitren – an interesting coat made solely of Argentine fox…everyone had fun trying it on.

Grandin loves to point out teeth, and makes a funny face himself while doing it.

Someone suggested I put everything on…all at once.  I believe there are 17 different wraps or scarves, 1 hat, 1 fur coat, 1 pair earrings, Christmas PJ’s, and bangles from India…I got hot…very quickly.

The answer is yes…it is what you think it is…a hand-built bird house styled, leather shingled, iPod speaker!  Basically, Mark outdid himself again this year…setting the standard high for Fischer homemade/repurposed/recycled Christmas!  Amazing!  (the perch is the volume control knob!)

Sarah and boyfriend Chris

I previously mentioned ham – which was delicious on Christmas Eve…and continued to be delicious over the next few days.  Croque Madames and Croque Monsieurs, and Woody’s favorite, ground ham salad with pickles.

The little monkey received some orange crocs and ran around in them over the top of his footy pajamas all day – ridiculously cute.

Utah

The blondes – from left, Molly, Sam (in the back looking wise), and Pippa.

A dinner of orecchiette with mushrooms, kielbasa, chopped tomatoes, spinach and mascarpone.

Avery learned to make biscuits with Mimi.

Note the matching aprons!  🙂

We finally met Eloise…and she occasionally smiled!

Sisters

The elusive family photo – this was one of almost a hundred!

Then it was time to play in the snow with Aunt Wynne and Dad…it was so much fun, she threw a fit when she had to come inside because her hands were icy cold.

Grand-père snoozed – he was fighting a cold that one of his lovely sons gave him for Christmas.

How can you resist this!?!  Look at those eyes!

And now we’re home.  Home!  It’s good. Now comes the challenge of unpacking, getting back into the swing of things, facing Monday morning (ughhhh!) and a brand new year!

Happy New Year!