Portland Beercation

Exactly one week ago, Huz and I took off in our loaded down SUV to visit our metropolis neighbor to the south – Portland.

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Even though P-town is only a 3 hour drive (roughly) from us, I have never spent much time there. Sure, I’ve made the trek down there to catch an obscure concert or two while in college but we never dallied – there was always classes to get back to. I don’t even know how we really came up with the idea to visit… I think we read an article about microbreweries (Oregon has the most, per capita!) and joked how we should just do a brewery tour vacation. My running buddy, Ellen, is from there and was going down to spend the holidays and offered us a place to crash so that sealed the deal.

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We ended up going down for 3 nights, and 2 of which were spent at a hotel thanks to a Living Social deal. (We didn’t want to impose too much on Ellen’s family.) Our hotel was on the Eastside by the convention center so not exactly a happening spot BUT Portland has the most amazing public transit system ever so we were fine.

We rolled into town around lunch time on Saturday and headed directly to our first beer stop: Burnside Brewery. We had done a decent amount of research and formed a loose itinerary based primarily on location and reviews. I loved the atmosphere of Burnside and the menu looked great. I honed in on the gnocchi and buffalo ragu and was not disappointed though Jodus was a little saddened by his unimpressive grilled cheese sandwich and a mountain of fries that weren’t exactly all that good.

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Going into this vacation, knowing that beer drinking was our primary task, I settled on just doing samplers everywhere we went so I could try as many as possible (which ended up being over 60!). At Burnside, they had a full sampler of all their 11 beers so Jodus and I opted to split that. 44oz of beer for just me would have been a little much. Overall, Burnside’s beer was just average. We enjoyed the porter and the stout most of all but also had the worst beer of our entire vacation there – the Sweet Heat, a hot pepper wheat ale. We each had a sip and then it remained untouched which says something amongst beer lovers.

That afternoon, we had some giftcards and Christmas money burning a hole in my purse so we decided to take advantage of Oregon as a sales-tax-free state (compared to Washington’s lovely 9%) and make a fairly large purchase.

Yep, we bought new bikes. We’ve been talking about it for months and doing our research so when we went to River City Outlet, it was a fairly simple process. They were really knowledgeable and helpful and installed all our accessories for us. I would highly recommend them for locals. For those curious, I ended up with a 2012 Raleigh RX 1.0 (a cyclocross bike) and Huz ended up with a 2011 Jamis Bosa Nova whose selling point was disc brakes and fenders.

After breaking the bank, we headed back to check into our hotel quickly then went back out for more beer. Our next stop was Base Camp Brewing which ended up being our favorite of the whole trip. It’s basically just a tasting room but they do offer some food via food trucks. We each got slightly different samplers but managed to try all their beers between the two of us and were very satisfied. Our most favorite EVER was the IPL – India Pale Lager which is a style of beer they essentially made up. Points for ingenuity! Also, the Smores Stout had a roasted marshmallow on it. Winning.

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Our next stop, which included dinner, was Green Dragon Bistro & Brew. They are a nanobrewery with kind of a weird set-up so they actually only had one of their own beers on tap but I think they had somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 beers total! No samplers though so I actually had to drink a full beer. I enjoyed a Diamond Knot Brown while Huz worked the IPAs. For dinner, we each got burgers and they were ok. What was amazing though? Their tater tots. Jodus got some as a side with his burger and they were so good we ended up putting in another order. And devoured them.

After enjoying another beer, we headed back to the hotel. We were pooped – neither of us slept well the week prior.

Sunday, we went for a scenic (but icy!) run around the bridges and river of Portland then scarfed down hotel breakfast (gag) before heading out to a slightly less nutritious locale.

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Voodoo Donuts was high on my priority list when we started planning our little trip. It is iconic Portland, surrounded by a lot of hype and I had to try it.

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The donuts were really good and the place was fun and now that it is marked off my to-do list, I don’t really have a burning desire to go back.

We spent the majority of the day just wandering around the west side of the city, downtown proper. We went to Powells, a massive, heavenly bookstore, did some window shopping, and just took in the town until we reached an appropriate drinking hour.

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Lunch was at Rogue where we rendezvoused with Lisa! Lisa and I have been virtual friends for a couple years now so it was great to meet her and her boyfriend in person. Alas, I am a goof and didn’t actually get a picture with her but I did snap our beer!

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I opted for a porter/stout sampler while, true to tradition, Huz opted for IPAs. The beers were decent but uninspiring and the food was good. Overall, it was a fun lunch!

We headed back out to the streets of Portland and explored the Pearl District. We headed to Bridgeport for yet another sampler with high hopes since their IPA is one of Jodus’ go-to beers.

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My favorite here was the Blue Heron Pale Ale and one of their seasonal ales, the Porter. Must get my hands on that locally!

We headed down to Deschutes for dinner and I must admit, by this point I was feeling a tiny bit buzzed. It was super busy and a little cramped but we managed to find a wobbly table at the bar area to saddle up. Our server was amazing which made the experience a little more fun.

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Again, another pair of samplers for us! There were a few that I enjoyed but especially the Velvet Noir. We also really enjoyed the food but that could have been the beer talking. We opted to walk the mile and a half back to the hotel – it was a gorgeous evening but really flipping cold.

Monday was a day full of epicness. We packed up our things and checked out of the hotel. First stop: breakfast! We went to Tin Shed Garden Cafe and even though it was busy (they were short staffed) it was really good! Then headed to pick up our newly purchased bikes. Next stop: Lady Luck Tattoo. Totally on a whim, Jodus decided to get inked for the first time. He’s been waffling back and forth about it all year and on the car ride down here, we finally figured out what he wanted to get so we just did it! We worked with Jason, who was amazing. 

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His tattoo says “Life is eternal, Love is immortal, Death is only a horizon…” which is the beginning of a quote which means a lot in his family.

Lunch was at Lucky Labrador and, surprise! Another sampler was in order. This place was huge! And sprinkled with cute dog art so it was automatically a winner in my book! Food was basically sandwiches, soup and salad and it was all good! The beers all had cute names, too.

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We headed out to the suburbs after that to meet up with Ellen, finally! We putzed around her house and town a bit before heading back into the city to do a NYE dinner with her friends at Henry’s. The atmosphere was lovely, the food was fantastic, and I have zero complaints. It was also highly entertaining seeing all the girls in sparkly mini-dresses and high heels stumbling around. We wrapped up around 9:30 and didn’t have plans until midnight so we ended up going back to Ellen’s to change and hang a bit before heading back into the city.

Yep, another midnight run! We did the First Run 5k to ring in the new year and I had a lot of fun even though it was ridiculously cold! It was fun and well organized, with a rockin DJ, snow machine, and lots of heaters. It wasn’t a PR for me but I didn’’t expect to after the copious amounts of eating and drinking we did the last … month, basically and especially that weekend! We wrapped up the run, watched the drunks stumble home, and headed back to Ellen’s for champagne and pie. And House Hunters. And crashed at 3:30am.

The next morning, we went out for brunch to La Provence in Lake Oswego. It was a bit of a drive, and a lot of a wait but zOMG was it worth it.

What you are looking at here is the risotto cakes with poached eggs, potatoes and roasted butternut squash. What you don’t see is a fabulous soy café au lait and a piece of wheat toast the size of my head. Everyone was equally satisfied with their meals and I will definitely be returning when we come back to P-town.

It seems slightly less epic going through all the pictures now of our weekend but we really had a blast and ate and drank so much that we are more than ready for our annual detox! Happy New Year, all!

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The Strange Brewfest

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This past weekend, my husband and I made the trek up to my dad’s neck of the woods for The Strange Brewfest in Port Townsend. We are pretty big beer lovers, especially the Huz, so we were looking forward to trying a bunch of local brews.

We went up Friday after work, enjoyed dinner with my Dad at my favorite Thai restaurant, then headed over to our favorite bar/restaurant, Sirens. Our favorite brewery, Silver City, was hosting a “Kill the Keg” event – for $6 you got a Silver City beer glass full of their Clear Creek Ale which happens to one of their most popular.

Yep, I just used “favorite” three times in that paragraph to describe our Friday night. And guess what? It was awesome. This was our first post-detox weekend and let’s just say we made up for lost time.

After the keg was sufficiently killed (and we befriended the head of sales of Silver City, a very good person to know), we headed over to the brewfest. We totally got the hookup because my dad was a volunteer bartender. That means we got in for free all weekend and basically had access to more drink tokens than we could handle. It was awesome. Thanks, Pop!

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{His shirt says, “I don’t make mistakes, I date them.” Yes, ladies, he’s single! Haha.}

Friday night, not all 30 vendors were there but there was definitely enough to keep us entertained and drinking for hours. Um, yeah. We kinda got ham-boned. There was live music and the beer was flowing.

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The whole purpose of The Strange Brewfest, if you can’t figure it out based on the name, is that the beers are a b it unorthodox. There are awards given to the best … and the strangest… which are never the same.

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{Blurry drunk picture for the win!}

We started off at the Silver City booth, naturally. They had a rosemary IPA and a basil ale. The flavors were incredibly subtle and were actually beers that I would find myself choosing to drink regularly. Others were not so tasty but there were a few good ones – the Nut Warmer was a peanut butter porter I think. We also liked a Hibiscus Hefeweizen and there were a couple of chocolate stouts I enjoyed.

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Some of the stranger beers were the sour cherry scotch ale, a jalalpeno ale, margarita pizza ale, bacon blonde, and many more. The list goes on and I was far too inebriated to keep track. A lot of them got dumped after a taste.

Overall, we had a great time and I would highly recommend it for beer lovers. There was also a decent selection of ciders available as well. We went back again on Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours and it was packed. We could hardly move and got bumped with full beers the entire time. There was also no live music while we were there, the floor reminded me of keg parties at frat houses in college, and it was really stuffy. We were also slightly hung over from the night before so that didn’t help. We tried a few beers and called it a day. We were beered out. So we bought a pizza and a bottle of wine and headed back to my dads to curl up with a movie.

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We did manage to squeeze in a short run this weekend as well as a trip to Chetzamoka with Pippin. She adores coming to Port Townsend – she gets spoiled by my dad so much. It’s always relaxing and feels like a mini vacation.

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A VIP Monday

Yesterday was the best kind of Monday there is.

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First off, it was a rest day. Yay for an extra hour of sleep!

Second, it was the first day that my most favorite beer in the whole wide world was tapped for the season.

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Silver City’s Oktoberfest is the beer that actually makes me feel like a legit beer drinker. It’s not a super light pansy beer or rich dark chocolately stout like I used to drink, but it still isn’t as hoppy as my IPA lovin’ husband would prefer. It’s just right and I am obsessed. So naturally, on it’s inaugural day, we had to praise the golden, malty beast with a taste, fresh off the tap.

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Yes, my friends. It is indeed sweet nectar of the gods. And this means a lot coming from a non-beer drinker such as myself.

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The also super duper coolest badassest thing about it being a Monday and the Monday my most favorite beer comes out?

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Booya. I’m a VIP, bitches.

So what does that mean? Well, that means a) I get a bigger beer for cheaper. Win. Win. and b) Monday = double points night.

So what does that mean? Bring a date so you don’t look a fool pounding Oktoberfest in the middle of August!

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Cute date, hu? Sorry, ladies! He’s taken! (Will you please look at how big that beer is?!)

So yeah, the other super duper cool thing about being a VIP? Random coupons in the mail.

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That means you don’t have to be a cheapass and you can actually buy your date food instead of just Happy Hour specials.

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I present to you: The El Diablo. With a side of wing sauce. Mandatory.

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And then after you have two super size beers, you make your husband take you to the mall to walk it out and he spoils you rotten with buying you on clearance jewelry for $7 in exchange for 7 minutes in heaven. Yeah, that’s how I roll.

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Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage 2011 Recap

Hands down, last weekend rocked! It was unlike anything I’ve experienced before! I have hundreds of pictures and thousands of details I want to share with you! But first, if you don’t know what Ragnar Relay is, check out this post.

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Thursday Night

4 car rides.
1 ferry ride.
2 wrong turns.
1 pit stop.
3 glasses of wine.
1 huge plate of spaghetti.
1 plunger turned hat.
5 hours of sleep.

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Friday Morning

5am wakeup call.
1 PBJ.
1.5 hour drive.
1 huge orange arch.
287 Team Number.
12 11 runners.
2 vans.
300+ teams.
100+ ridiculous costumes.
1 award for our “Double O’s” theme. {James Bond}

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The Beginning

9:15am.
6 legs.
5 runners.
5.4 miles for me.
56 minutes running straight into the wind.
1 roadkill.
1 sidewalk chalk message.
4 awesome cheerleaders.
2 horns acquired.
1 van decorated.

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Break One

1 beer.
2 fish tacos.
0 showers.
10 minute cat nap in the sun.

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The Middle

7:30pm.
6 legs.
5 runners.
4.1 miles for me.
42 minutes of twists and turns at dusk.
1 scary underpass.
3 roadkills.
1 sexy reflective vest and headlamp.

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Break Two

1 larabar.
2 girls in van.
3 boys in sleeping bags outside.
2 hours of “sleep”.

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The End

4:00am.
1 PBJ.
6 legs.
5 runners.
2.9 miles for me.
34 minutes of uphill.
1 roadkill.

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The Final Exchange

9:30am.
1 hot shower.
1 mimosa.
1 huge breakfast.
1 beer run.
4 awesome vanmates.
1 Van #2 runner sighting.

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The Finish Line

11 happy runners, reunited.
11 plastic martini glasses.
11 awesome medals.
2 crappy beers.
1 ridiculous husband Goldfinger.
1 sunburned wife Dr. Christmas Jones.
104 total roadkills for Van #1.

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Heading Home

2 ferry rides.
5 car rides.
1 bout of laughing until you cry.
1 handle of stout.
1 Milky Way Dark.
1 Dairy Queen Run.
1 pizza to go.
3 new friends (at least).

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Totals

197 miles – Blaine to Whidbey Island.
27:45:17 time running.
8:54 team pace.
12.4 personal miles in 2:12.
1 phenomenal experience.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

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Alternate title: “This is how much I love my husband.”

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Alternate title: “I’ll take any excuse to challenge my baking skills – especially when beer, whiskey and Bailey’s in involved.”

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Alternate title: “It’s all Brie’s fault.”

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Whichever excuse I want to use (and apparently, there are many), I made these cupcakes. And it really was fun! And a test of my baking skillz which generally suck.

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I made the cupcake batter.

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It’s hard to go wrong with that much beer and butter, really.

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I baked them.

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And I let them cool all day (Sunday).

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(Did I mention I made a double batch?)

I made ganache for the first time ever.

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It’s hard to go wrong with that much cream and chocolate, really.

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Then I let it cool all afternoon until it got deliciously thick.

I cored all the cupcakes with this fancy dancy cupcake corer we bought at Target for $6.99. Worth. It.

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And since I’m not a baker and don’t own frosting bags or tips, I just shoved all the ganache in to a huge ziploc, cut the tip, and went to town.

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Question for the bakers – what do you do with the cupcake innards? I ended up dividing them in to little cups and topping them with ganache for little sweet treats for the husband this week!

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The whole process was actually sort of fun and didn’t take nearly as much time as I expected.

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But boy did it generate a lot of dishes! Good thing I have a husband for that!

I wrapped up the cupcakes and stuck them in the freezer until last night.

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Frosting ensued.

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It’s hard to screw up just butter and sugar, right?

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It was hit or miss for awhile there. But I think I got it.

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Topped with Emerald City Green sprinkles, these were just the right amount of festive!

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Husband was my taste tester and he thoroughly enjoyed them. “Best cupcakes I’ve ever had in my life!” (I’m pretty sure he’s obligated to say that, ya know.)

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We’ll see how everyone likes them at the potluck today!

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PS  – Don’t forget to wear your green tomorrow!

Pippin Isn’t the Only Spoiled Member of This Household

The birthday boy started off his special day with the breakfast of champions.

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Lucky Charms was his favorite cereal growing up and we snagged a box on our last grocery trip.

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His mom always tells me about how he used to go to bed with a baggie of lucky charms and wake up with them in his hair.

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Speaking of his mother…

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… Surprise! She made a detour from a vacation gone sour up to visit her favorite dog! Um, and her son on his birthday. But we all know she was really here to get her Pippin fix.

ANYway, we took the birthday boy to his favorite restaurant: Silver City Brewery. And he loaded up on brewsky and got his favorite pizza.

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And we surprised him with a Porter Brownie Sundae that he graciously split with all of us.

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After dinner, we headed home and he was greeted with a giant pile of presents that somehow ended up in the middle of our house! (Pssst! Thanks, Dad!)

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I think he was surprised.

The big gift this year was a mondo grill (that does gas and charcoal) that I got my mom and stepdad, Jodus’ dad, his sister and brother, and my dad in on.

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Between all of us, we got the grill, grill cover, a side fire box for smoking, two cookbooks, a bunch of marinades and rubs, and a new personalized apron!

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Yep! Some L4L love! {I lurve it!}

Pippin was highly interested in the gift unwrapping!

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The other gift highlight was a quilt that Jodus’ mom made for him out of all his old athletic jerseys! How cool is that?!

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Then we finished off his 28th birthday with my first attempt at his favorite birthday cake. {Recipe to come!}

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Writing in frosting like a 3rd grader is mandatory, apparently.

Chopping crazy!

Lunch

Leftovers made an appearance which is actually quite rare on the weekends but we had a busy day planned around the house.

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Last night’s Pesto Pasta with Broccoli, Chicken, and Tomato

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We got to work on cleaning up around the house. We make a pretty good team and had everything done in maybe an hour? And the boy has been working on laundry all day.

I also dug through a box my mom brought her last visit full of stuff from my (and her) childhood!

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                       Baby Book                          Manner’s (check out the last one!)

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I was always meant to be a Cougar!                      Girl Scout Vest

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                        Ballet Gear                                           My travels

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Such a cute kid! (Click on any of the photos to enlarge)

After my reminiscing, we took a walk up to the grocery store in search of some greeting cards and creole seasoning and came home with a bunch of fruit, creole seasoning, and the Sunday paper.

We grabbed a Starbucks for the walk home.

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Grande Unsweet Iced Passion Tea for me and a Coffee Light Frap for the boy.

We goofed off a bit at home on the internet. I tweeted, browsed Craigslist, etc.

We started dinner around 4 because it was going to take a couple of hours. I planned this meal out better than last week… long prep time = weekend meals!

Shrimp Gumbo

  • 2 lbs deveined, tail-off shrimp
  • 2 lbs fresh okra, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomato, undrained
  • 1/2 a can of tomato paste
  • EVOO
  • Minced Garlic
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bunch of green onion
  • Creole seasoning (to taste), or salt, pepper, and cayenne
  • 6 cups water

This is relatively easy to make but it is time consuming and goes much easier if you can enlist the help of a boy to help with the chopping!

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Sauté the okra in EVOO for 15 minutes.

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Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté another 15 minutes.

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Season the shrimp with creole and set aside.

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Prep the “sauce.” Mix 6 cups of water with the tomatoes, tomato paste, and garlic.

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When veggies are done, add to the liquid stuff.

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Bring to a boil then drop it down to simmer for 25 minutes. Somewhere in here, I started some wild rice. And grabbed a beer. 😀

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The boy and I sat on the deck with our beer and talked about the future.

When the 25 minutes is up, throw in the shrimp for another 20 minutes.

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When it’s done, throw in some chopped green onion. Serve over rice.

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Doesn’t it look divine?

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What’s this? A new placemat? No. Just the opposite side of the one set I own. 😉

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How was the gumbo? FAB! I think everyone should try it! So good! You can totally adjust the spices to your own palate. We made it pretty decently spicy. The boy gives it a solid “A”!!!

Serves 6-8

So while dinner was cooking, we went chopping crazy! First, we had to chop the stuff for dinner. Then the boy got to work chopping veggies for lunches for the week. And I chopped up a ton of fruit for a fruit salad! An apple, a pear, a banana, some strawberries, blueberries, grapes, blackberries, a peach. I might have a bowl for dessert tonight but you guys will see it tomorrow morning. Doing all that prep work makes it super quick and easy to pack lunches. Especially when you have leftovers.

😉

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