my world got tossed around a bit

Trying to think of an excuse for my lame ass blogging efforts as of late….fact is I’ve been straight up lazy in regards to my blog. I think about great ideas all the time…..like King Cakes! I made them for the first time and they came out completely amazing, but the moment passed to quickly, Fat Tuesday came and went….lazy…..or maybe I was too busy eating all the dang king cake! Besides being lazy…we moved into a new/old house. Our move was not planned and very sudden, kinda threw me into a tailspin…moving in December blows.

We are settling in nicely and enjoying our new space on the planet. The last three months have been a blur, but I did manage to have some fun, eat some great food and travel a bit. James has a proper studio now at the new house and he’s been painting more than ever.serraHere’s the new/old house Ole Hansen built in 1928, looked cute with old school christmas lights. James did a watercolor of it for our Christmas card….some of you may have received one 🙂2walkingOn Sunday mornings we walk downtown (2 blocks away) to shop the farmer’s market. Lily and Jim last Sunday, it was 84°, it was awesome.shroomanThe mushroom man was loaded up with tons of goodness.orchidmanThe Orchid man was full of beauties for sale, to bad I always kill orchids or I would have bought one.studioHere is Jim’s studio….ok its a garage…but its all Jim’s…he’s digging his man cave. I hung a disco ball the next day, looks way cooler now.rogueshowThe opening night for the Rogue Villain’s group show in Long Beach.jimopeningThe man and his latest piece…… EncroachmentmidgeThis was at Jim’s office Christmas party, I wasn’t there. Not much more to say about this.grinchdateThis was my date for the Grinch party. I love this little girl like crazy, she’s going to be 12 in about a minute…..please make it stop.TamalePart of what made December bearable was long-standing traditions like the Grinch Party and Tamale party. Time with my girls, bubbles and tamales is always a great day.tomerandmeReunion with one my oldest and dearest friends Tamara. such a treat, love her madly.snoopHanging at the Johnson’s before the Snoop Dog show, this is Aida and Joe…they rule!benmomMan Cub flew in to surprise Mom for her Birthday. I have no idea what they’re doing in this picture but it captures perfectly how goofy they are when they get together. good times.catloloCat, Lolo, Orin Swift, Chocolate Souffle. Birthday fun for Cat
snowgirlI went to Chicago in February…..yes you read that right. It was to be the girl weekend of all time. Lolo and I flying off to see Justin Timberlake and stay with Deb for 3 days. Last minute, illness took Lolo down and I found myself flying solo. It was a great trip, Deb and I held up the girlie fun as best we could, but oh did we miss Lolo……the squeals just weren’t loud enough without her. Justin was perfect, like always.beefhenriLunch at Henri in a snow storm…quite the adventure getting to this bowl of amazing. Their take on Beef Bourguignon. Seriously amazing.tacomariaThis is Taco Maria in Costa Mesa CA…..OMG people. Go here. Do it. You’ll thank me.kingcakesKing Cakes!!CBhashMy special for St. Pats day at work. So good. Corned Beef HashcardsAHI don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard, this game rules!

Next post…recipe…I swear. Love ya!

Nouvelle-Orléans – NOLA – The Big Easy – N’awlins

My Mom and I just returned from a Culinary and Cocktail tour of this amazing city with so many names. Here is a visual tour with plenty of my personal commentary.After flying all day, we arrived in hot & humid lovely New Orleans. Our first stop was the Cocktail Museum inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum for a class in the history of Cocktails. We arrived rushed, hot and thirsty…….we were promptly handed a Brandy Milk Punch……aww perfect. A great class with Chris McMillian taught us about 3 signature cocktails as seen in above photo. Great kick off for the tour.Next adventure…a slow ride around the Quarter at sun down, while being brought yet another cocktail to sip in the warm evening air…..LOVED this. The carriage dropped us off at the Palm Court for dinner and jazz. Day 2 starts off with a Cajun cooking class, with Harriet, she’s AMAZING! Born and raised in Louisiana, she told the best stories about food, her family and showed us how to make a mean Gumbo. Full belly’s and smarter……..several of us strolled across the street to the Napoleon House for a Pimm’s Cup………..not the best Pimm’s I’ve had, they use sweet and sour instead of 7up or ginger ale…no like, but Napoleon’s was very cool.Our first progressive dinner, walk , and journey started with a 12 block walk to Luke’s. We arrived to a private dining room to the above…a boat full of oysters & French 75’s, what a first course!Stop #2 GW Fins…..the best food of the trip….the Nola Fizz was so refreshing – seafood was great and the lobster dumplings were light and delicate, truly amazing. Biscuits were to die for, so much so that I asked for the recipe. Next a walk down Bourbon Street to hear some jazz at Fritzel’s, great spot, great music, cold beer. FUNNext stop Antoine’s for dessert and coffee…….not just your normal coffee and dessert though, we were treated to Baked Alaska & Café Brûlot Diabolique. Charles, our waiter, a third generation waiter at the oldest restaurant in the country. He was an excellent tour guide, showman and southern gentlemen. Here are a few pictures from our private tour.The Japanese Room & Large Annex RoomThe Wine Cellar  165 feet long  25,000 bottles in inventory.The Rex RoomMardi Gras Krewe memorabiliaI found King Cake babies!! When I was in Culinary school, we made little babies out of tin foil because we didn’t have the real ones like these pictured above, so I was geeked out to find these lil’ guys. One is baked into the King Cake and who ever gets the baby in their piece will have good luck. Check out this cool tumblr starring a King Cake BabyDay 3 – Lunch on the Steamboat Natchez, nice cruise down the beautiful brown Mississippi.After the river tour we were met at the dock by an old friend….Harold Gee, he towed 2 bikes on his bike for us to ride. He took us on a tour of his neighborhood. Rough roads in New Orleans makes for very bumpy bike riding, but it was great to get out of the Quarter. We rode through the Marigny to the Bywater and had cold beers at Vaughn’s- Ribs at the Joint- Big thanks to Harold for taking us into his village, it was very cool.Last dinner in town at Muriel’s Jackson Square – the menu, the food and 2 drunk girls in the French Quarter. I’m going to miss this town…..wait, I already do.9AM Jackson Square….PlayersSt Louis Cathedral from Jackson SquareInside St Louis Cathedral$.25 Martini came with the prix fixe lunch. Last lunch in town- Antoine’s again because Mom missed the first tour, she crashed early, hadn’t quite got her drinking legs on.

It seems shocking that we ate so much, drank so much and walked so much (18 miles)  in so few days. It went by far too quickly. This tour was flawless, I will admit that I was a little reluctant to go on any kind of planned tour, but this one was perfect. The access to special places, the history, the timing, the fun, the care taken to make our journey so easy and comfortable, all I can say is…. well done & THANK YOU to Chris & Mary!! I will go on any trip y’all plan. Chris and Mary are the owners of a great restaurant in San Diego called the Wine Vault & Bistro, go eat there and for sure take a trip with them.

Chicago = Friends, Food & Fun

I love Chicago!! for so many reasons……

My friends Deborah, John and Ostin live there.

Lake Michigan is so big it looks like an ocean.

They have real butcher shops…..unlike the OC

The food/dinning is AMAZING.

The L is cheap, fast, always good people watching and you feel like you’re in a movie when you ride it.

It snows in Chicago….so I hear….no snow for our visit, but it was COLD.

My favorite Chocolate in the world is made in Chicago-  Vosges

Here is a photo journey of our 5 day Chicago adventure in February….without snow 😦Ostin and Deborah greeted us old school style at the airport, which means they parked and met us inside….LOVED it! This picture is on the way to their house, Ostin is showing me all his favorite You Tube videos. I love this sweet small person.Saturday night downtown….Dinner at the Publican in the meat packing district. Suckling Pig and Seafood Stew…..winners!! Best friends all bundled up. Great night!Brisk walk after dinner…the lights…the chill in the air…drinks….perfect.My peeps! How cute is Deborah in that coat?!?!?Super Bowl food….Velveeta Rotel Dip in a Football Crock Pot..awesome & Slow cooked Chile Verde.I whipped up a Red Velvet Cake for Deborah’s Birthday…the fridge was full so we stored it in the BBQ outside, where it was a chilly 30… I was so impressed by this!! Endless chilling options when you live where it actually gets cold.Henri for lunch on Monday….. I could have sat forever at this table. The food was perfection, the room was beautiful. We started with the Foie Gras….next on to a fresh greens salad and then the Cassoulet arrived. We came here specifically for this dish, their take on it was delicious, Pork Belly, Duck Confit, and housemade Toulosse Sausage. It’s a must if you’re ever in Chicago on a Monday. It’s their Plat du Jour on Monday nights, they were closing the Monday we were there so they offered to make the Cassoulet for lunch…. just for us! I could go on and on, I loved this place, don’t even get me started with the wine….. it was a 3 hour lunch, enough said?This was quickly becoming the theme to our visit..Tuesday we went to Hot Doug’s

Chicago Dog on your left and on your right…..Foie Gras, Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel……OMG!Then we were on our way to the airport via this trippy L stop in the middle of the freeway… or do they call them highways?

A huge thank you to my dear sweet friends, for housing us, feeding us and loving us. We miss you already. Cheers!

Home…Busy….Excited

I am home…..so happy to be here – back on the coast – in my house with my man and my dog….life is good.
My last week in Yosemite was great! James came up and lived in my dorm room with me for a few days. He got to experience my life in the Valley…..he also saw a Bear!! Check the picture below, right in the center of the shot…a cute little Bear.I’m there for months and I never see a Bear and he rolls out for a walk his first morning and see’s a Bear!  not bitter…..really I’m not!  Our last night was spent at the Ahwahnee and it was amazing. We were treated like royalty, beautiful room, a Birthday gift waiting for me in the room from the manager of the hotel, a box of truffles and a fruit basket, with cheese and more chocolate! A wonderful send off. If you ever get a chance to stay at this hotel…DO IT!! All the people who work there do everything they can to make your stay unforgettable. The GM Brett Archer is taking great care of this beautiful historic gem and I take comfort in knowing its in his hands.

My time in the valley was very interesting. I love this place so deeply and to spend this time there was a gift. I realize now being home for a couple of weeks that I learned a lot more than I thought….about people…myself… food….being isolated and braving the COLD.

Here are some photos from my last week in the valleyThis is the eastern view from Glacier Point- looking at Nevada and Vernal Falls in December!! This is where I was on my 45th birthday- not a bad spot to hang out- the road up here hasn’t been open in the winter in over 20 years.

This is the upper Bridal Veil river before it falls into the valley….Frozen. We had a little picnic here. The temp was about 59, crazy warm for December, what little snow was up there was melting fast.

James and I hiked up to Devils Bathtub – it is a natural spring that streams down the rock walls and pools into a little natural bathtub. Awesome view right at the tree line.Here is a shot of the spring water coming down the rock wallsHanging at Devils BathtubThis is my roommate and her husband…. love these two, we were at Christmas Day Dinner in Curry Village. She is seriously the nicest person I met in the Valley and I thank the stars for her! I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate.

So I’m home….now what?

I’ve been busy busy and I’ve got some exciting news to share…..soon, very soon.

Soaking up the valley

Since my time in the valley is coming to an end soon, I’m out braving the cold to see as much of it as I can. Still no snow but plenty of ice……. burr!…after awhile your face gets numb…seriously you can’t feel it. Here are some shots from my four mile stroll yesterday, it was 36 and brilliantly sunny.This is the view from our favorite camp site, yes that is the iced over Merced River……its cold.No snow…. but thin layers of ice on everything.This is over on the Curry Village side of the valley, the sun shines for about 20 minutes in the mid morning and that’s it for the whole day. It is so much colder over there. Check the shadow ice from the fence…..so cool.

This tree fell in the recent wind event we had, now it’s part of the river shore.Baby forest growing up to be tall someday.Look its me!! FREEZING…have I mentioned that its COLD.

Ok now for some food pornBon Bon’s with painted white chocolate garnishTartsTarts againTarts for days!

It’s been nice being here during the Holiday season, it’s so calm here…no malls…no traffic. Happy Monday and Happy Birthday to all my fellow December babies out there, it’s the best month to be born! …….. Julie K, Julie P, Claudia and her brand new baby boy, Chris O, Kris & Ash, Addie aka Ernie, Stella & Nico and their Nana…..kisses and hugs to you all.

Chilly in the Valley

The last couple of weeks have been full of craziness. My 5 year old laptop hard drive died, first Apple product in 25 years to fail on me. This required a trip to Fresno to visit the Apple store. I was thrilled by the people in this store, they took care of me same day and it didn’t cost me more then $180, new hard drive, new keyboard, pretty much did the full tune up and all in 90 minutes. I thank the stars for Steve Jobs…. you will be missed- just finished his biography….read it.

Another interesting adventure has been trying to get wifi in my room. ATT is the provider and as with everything up here they move just as slow. Hopefully before I leave it will be up and running.

and now for your viewing pleasure………It’s been COLD in the valley, very dry and cold. The falls are freezing, this is Bridalveil Falls.This is part of the Merced River down by El Capitan about   7am and 26….burrrThis is a great spot in the summer for swimmingAnother shot in the early AM, frozen Yosemite FallsWe got some crazy wind last week, almost had to be evacuated. This is the courtyard for my dorm buildings, after the wind it left a carpet of pine needles and branches. The trees were swaying and singing for daysHere is my cute little post office, this is where I shriek with delight at all the mail I’ve been getting….the postman thinks I’m bit nutty….Thanks so much to all that have sent me stuff, it truly makes my day!!Jim this ones for you……look closely, it’s where we spent 5 hours one day back in SeptemberAnother for Jim….. a natural spring…not hot though, very cold.Christmas is starting to show up the valley, this is the entrance to the AhwahneeAhwahnee Tree

Hope you’re all doing well, I miss EVERYBODY!! Still homesick, hoping for a big snow storm or something……

Gratitude and Excitement

This last week…. before I leave has been…surreal, busy, yummy, funny, sad, crazy, reflective, heart warming and exciting. I truly do have the best people in my life. I have received the most thoughtful gifts, funny gifts, totally necessary gifts, phone calls, emails, texts from so many  people. All sending their love and best wishes.

Lunch with the girls at True Food……LOVED every minute of that..Thanks again

Breakfast at Ramos House…..in the rain….during a blackout. Catching up with my Gilded Girls, all three of them – lucky me! Thank you and love you all – long time – forever.

Dinning at the Fishery in PB and going to see Anthony Bourdain with my BFF, Sistah Julie, hugging and kissing her kids as much as I could, I will miss these small people a ton. Thanks for being my girl since we was 14….big love to you.

Seeing my San Diego friends, hugging everyone tightly while sharing love, excitement, life and grief.

Chatting with Robert while he keeps the Breck Girl hair in check, always makes my hair and me feel so pretty. Love you to pieces and thanks as always.

Celebrating my husbands birthday early, since I leave on his actual birthday…..bad wife – I know….dinner at Vine….Terrine of Foie Gras, Burgundy Burger and Pinot Noir flights….chocolate souffle…..lovely.

Visiting with the Johnson’s….. I love these people, we sat and laughed… a lot…..giggled even, Jimbo especially. They came over to bring me a gift…..it’s a funny gift although useful and warm.Yes these are sock monkey’s on my feet and yes these are full sized grown up onesie footy jammies. I will so be rocking these in Yosemite…..while frolicking in the snow….. They actually fit and are very warm and toasty.OK this photo needs some explaining. The Opsal’s (I’m pretty sure this came from the mind of Chris) got me some retrofitted long underwear. These handy little pockets hold hand warmer packets and yes there are pants to match with pockets on the bum. He didn’t want me to freeze my T&A off. Thank you so much for this hysterical thoughtful gift. I love you like crazy.Pastry Chef Barbie…..I squealed when I saw this….do my friends know me or what?! Jennay, Debbie and Shea, Cheers ladies! I actually got this gift twice. A darling sweet little friend of mine was kind enough to take one off my hands. I heard she is having a great time doing her make up with a red sharpie. Thanks for the Barbie love sweet friends.These items are my necessary gear. Having never lived in the mountains, snow or anywhere cold, I did my research on cold weather gear. Shared my findings with my Chicago winter expert Debi and she approved!! Then came my angels…..KR sent me the boots….Thanks so much Kathrin….you rock! Then the Spry’s got me the North Face coat. I seriously am the luckiest girl to have an Uncle Dennis and an Aunt Debbie…. everyone should be so lucky…..best Auntie and Uncle EVER! Love you both so much and thank you for EVERYTHING. hugs and kisses!

Big love and thanks to my Jim, I’ll miss you madly.

I am full of gratitude and LOVE.

The next post will be from the valley, I leave tomorrow at But*crack. woo hoo!

oh and it snowed in the valley last night….eeek!

I can do it, I can do it, I can do it. Snow is my friend:)

Texas and the Gilded Life!

Spent this last weekend in Dallas, Texas with the Gilded Life Girls. They bought this Church 4 years ago and turned it into a huge home where they have these amazing art retreats.

This weekend 55 women from all over the country converged on this amazing space to attend this event. My Mom’s people come from Texas and Oklahoma, so hanging out with these women made me feel like I was with family. It was all of 5 minutes and I was y’all’in with the rest of them. It’s so good to get out of your own bubble and meet new people, everyone was so nice, friendly and funny. I laughed ALOT this weekend.

I was there to cook for these lovely creative women and this is the kitchen! Not a bad place to work at all.

 I brought my girl Jenny to help out and we banged out yummy food all weekend. We got so many great compliments and face to face thank you’s from everyone.

Seriously the people I met will be in my life forever, so many crazy cool babes!!

Big thanks and LOVE to Debbie and Shea, cheers for having me be a part of your amazing event and for this……

Debbie and Shea shared my adventures with Jo Packham the editor/creator of Where Women Cook and she asked me to be part of their summer issue. Look it’s me in a magazine!! Thanks Jo for the great opportunity!!

 

 

Visiting the Spry’s

Recently we took a trip Phoenix to visit the Spry Resort. It’s not a public resort, it’s where my Aunt and Uncle live. They’ve made their home into a paradise in the desert. When you’re a guest of theirs, you are treated like royalty. They rock the food like a 5 star resort, one fantastic meal after another and the cocktails are totally over the top every time. This is how we were greeted upon our arrival…..Bloody Mary’s w/ blue cheese stuffed olives, peppers, shrimp and a floater of chile spiced vodka….mmmmmmm.

Then lunch came…. a stacked out grilled delight. I’m not even sure of what all was in this sandwich, but it was good.

Then dinner….. grilled Baby Back Ribs, Bake Beans and Deviled Egg Potato Salad.

This is my Uncle Dennis, the Grill Master ! and extreme host. Love him tons !
The next day the grill was in effect again with a Seafood Extravaganza, Lobster Tails, Oysters and Shrimp Cocktails. Sorry no pics of the Shrimp Cocktails, they were gone way too fast.

It was a lovely weekend of food and fun, big hugs and kisses to my Uncle Dennis and Aunt Debbie, thanks for all the love. Sorry no recipes or instructions, just sharing our fabulous time at the Spry Resort.