Too Busy for a Proper Post

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Life has been quite busy for us lately. Last week was my birthday, so we were busy having all kinds of fun!

Tuesday started off as a normal day at work. We did have the office celebration for my birthday and also a co-worker's birthday as well. We each got our own dessert and my choice of dessert was to make her make a guava cake for me. So yummy! That really perked up my day to have me looking forward to Wednesday which was my actual birthday.

Husband was giving no info and sharing no ideas with me so I didn't know what he had in mind, and since last year was a total fail for birthday fun day, I was nervous. However, when I came home from work on Tuesday, he was ready to start the celebrations. He took me out to dinner to our new favorite "The Flaming Grill." I tried the ostrich burger and it was FABULOUS!! I highly recommend it to everyone! We had a lovely time chatting and enjoying each other's company. He did fess up that the birthday present he was planning probably wasn't going to show up so his plans were in the dirt. I suggested our good 'ole stand by of going up to Apple Hill and do wine tasting and a picnic and also included we could do some letterboxes as well. He was down for that, so we set our plan in motion for the next day.

Wednesday started with hubby making me a wonderful breakfast including toast made from his home-made bread and fresh squeezed orange juice. (he's so good to me.) We then got our act together and got ready to head out for a day of fun. We stopped at Bon Air for some sandwiches then headed up the hill. Our first stop was a letterbox at High Hill Ranch, and boy was that one hard to find. Husband has turned into quite the box sniffer. He finds them when you thought they were not to be found. After that one, we remember that there was a winery right up the road, so off we went to do some wine tasting. Our next letterbox was in the same area, however the place was closed so we couldn't get to it. I guess we'll just have to go back up there during the Fall when they are open. Oh well. :^D

Since the other letterboxes we were going after that day were up at the top of the hill, we decided to go to our favorite winery next, Jodar. Going wine tasting in the middle of the week is always a treat. You don't have to elbow through crowds and you can take your time chatting with the employees. This is what we did at Jodar and had a wonderful time talking to Lisa about all sorts of things. When Lisa learned that it was my birthday she said that I get a free bottle of wine since I was a wine club member. Well, heck! What a great surprise. I already was picking up 2 bottles of Merlot from the wine club, so I decided on a Cab-Frac. We had her open one of the bottles of Merlot for lunch and we headed outside to enjoy our picnic in the sun.

The weather was perfect, the wine was tasty and the company was the best of all. We sat and enjoyed our lunch looking over the American River chatting and just having a very relaxing time. Just as we were finishing lunch, husband's phone rings and he lets it go to voicemail. After we finish our lunch, he checks the message and it's from a local bike shop that he had submitted a resume to, so he calls them back. They want him to come in for an interview the next week! Ya-hoo!!! I told him that if he got the job, that would be the best birthday present ever. We have our fingers crossed and are hoping for the best, but not getting our hopes up too high just to have them crushed again.

After the phone call, it was getting late and we were ready to head home. So, down the hill we went to hit 5 o'clock traffic. Yay! By the time we got home, we were exhausted and ready to just chill from our day of relaxation. LOL! Hubby promised to make me pizza for dinner but said that he wanted to use the sourdough he has been working on instead of regular pizza dough. I agreed thinking, it can't be all that bad, and it wasn't! It was thicker than his usual thin crust pizza, but still super yummy and flavorful. I tell you, that boy knows his breads!

The rest of the week flew by and next I knew it was Saturday. Time for more birthday fun! We were planning on going to Jaime's Bar & Grille with my best friend, her mom (my "auntie") and her husband. I checked the website on Friday and noticed that they are not open on the weekends! FAIL! What to do?? So I emailed my auntie and we decided on an Italian restaurant near our house that we like, Volturno. Saturday comes around and we are up and busy doing chores. I'm cleaning the inside while husband is mowing the yard and cleaning up outside. We get done around 2p and decide we have time to get in a few letterboxes before we have to do dinner. I call my friend Jennifer (who introduced us to letterboxing) and see if she wants to join us. We meet up at the first location and go hunting. After searching around a local park for a good 30 minutes we finally call that one "lost" so we head to the next location. Jennifer said that she tried to find this one, but couldn't and we were surprised because the clues aren't that difficult, so off we go. We get to where the box was hidden, and no dice yet again. :(

We arrive at the third location and follow the clues. By this time, I'm hot and cranky because we haven't found anything and these clues have us walking all over the place, but we find the box and all is well! After doing our stamping, we re-hide the box and head back to drop Jen off and get home to clean up and get ready for our guests.

Waiting for everyone to arrive, we decided to open a bottle of the Jodar Cab-Franc we got for my birthday and to enjoy that with some of hubby's home made sourdough bread, home made garlic oil and nice balsamic vinegar. Oh what a treat that was. Especially since we hadn't eaten since breakfast! Our guests arrive and we head out for dinner only to discover that Volturno's was closed! What?? It says it's supposed to be open! It appears another business has fallen victim to the bad rap that Del Paso Blvd. has. I now have 5 pairs of eyes glaring at me as to "where do we go now?" I quickly think in my head and come up with some different options and we settle on Serritella's, a great Italian restaurant in Carmichael. We climb back in the cars and head up to there and thankfully, third time is the charm for a great dinner that everyone enjoyed.

Overall, the week was wonderful filled with birthday goodness. My favorite things were spending great time with my husband, and the painting my best friend did for me. She hasn't painted in many years and for her to pick up the brushes again for me really made it special. Photos to come of all of the birthday goodness, but felt I had to share the story at least.

Stamp me a Letter

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's getting close to my birthday, and the festivities have begun. Yesterday, my girlfriend Jennifer treated hubby and I to share in her new hobby, Letterboxing, and to partake in a picnic after we had a nice hike.

Letterboxing is like a treasure hunt using clues to find a hidden box. Once you find the box, you get to stamp your book with the stamp inside the box, and leave your own stamp in the book provided.

Jennifer had a couple clues for boxes hidden in the Auburn and Cool area, so off we headed. We stopped first in Auburn to find one that is hidden in old Auburn and even with the clues we had, we couldn't find it at first. Just when you think you have it and you're looking in the right spot, you can't find it, but once you look in another way at the same spot, there it is! You've found your box!

Here's the hubby digging around for our box and Jen sits frustrated trying to find it.

After we found the Auburn letterbox, we headed up Hwy 49 for a nice drive to a State park near Cool. Jen had clues for another letterbox there. The clues led us on a trail for a nice little hike. We started off looking for the box, but after exhausting all of our options and still not finding it, we decided to keep going and enjoy our hike. It was a beautiful day and we took advantage of it.

After our hike we were ready for our picnic lunch then head home. It ended up being a really fun day even though we didn't find the 2nd letterbox and Tate and I were hooked!

Today we started the day wanting to be lazy and not do too much, but as I was dinking around on the internet I started doing some research on letterboxing and found some in the downtown area. Given it was such a nice day, I suggested we take our bikes downtown and ride around finding these letterboxes. I discovered I had a 40% off coupon for Michael's and since we needed some stamps we packed up the bikes and headed on our way.

After picking out our stamps and our ink pads we headed downtown to start our adventure. We parked at New Roma bakery for some 50% off treats, then got on the bikes and started the hunt.

First stop was 24th & E where we found our first letterbox:

We then headed to the Capitol to take a quick bathroom break and have our snack. We enjoyed sitting in the park for a little bit, then headed off in search of our second letterbox for the day. It was hidden in Capitol park and we tried not to look too crazy hunting around for it. Once we finally found it after riding all around the park, we walked to some nearby benches to do our stamping.

After doing our deed, and replacing the box making sure it was nice and hidden once more, we headed to the West side of the Capitol for our final letterbox for the day. We didn't have too much trouble following the clues for this one and Tate ended up finding it very quickly. I think he really got the hang of it and what to look for.

We stamped our books and were on our way. A quick ride back to the car and we were ready to go home. Of course, Tate couldn't quite go right away, he spotted a yard sale and decided he had to see what was there. I unpacked all of our stuff from the bikes and got them into the car to wait for Tate. After a few minutes he came back carrying two fishing rods and two guitars that had been stripped down. All for $10 he exclaimed, so packing up his goodies, off we headed back home for a nice quiet evening.

End of the story is that we have discovered a wonderful new hobby that is not only free, but gets us out of the house and we can even ride our bikes doing. Thanks to Jen for showing us what fun there is to be had with letterboxing!

Rainy Evening

Friday, March 12, 2010

We're both getting sick of the rain that we've had this season, so hubby and I decided to make the most of it and head to our new favorite burger joint the Firegrill cafe. We both decided to have the Hairy Eyeball ale and he had the antelope burger while I stuck to a plain cheeseburger.

Tate's Antelope burger - reported as very yummy, but more tough than beef.

My sirloin burger with the Hairy Eyeball.

After dinner, the rain decided to finally stop and I looked up to see a beautiful rainbow across the street!

For a wet miserable day, it ended on a nice note and date night with the hubby isn't too bad either!

Feeling Good About Helping Others

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dear husband and I have recently been volunteering with a pit bull rescue. We each go a couple times during the week to walk and exercise a dog that is in a kennel for most of the day so it can get out, get something else to see and learn some basic obedience. This was my weekend to do both Friday and Saturday morning with Daisy (sheltered dog.) We both love helping these dogs in need and are always looking for ways to help others so when I got the request to go to Woodland and help cook at a homeless shelter, we both were ready to help.

After my morning visit with Miss Daisy, I hurried home to change my clothes, grab some breakfast and head to Woodland. Both of us with some of our closest friends spent the day cooking Thanksgiving in March. There were eight turkeys, home made gravy, yams with marshmallows on top, sour cream and chive potatoes, green beans with onions, sliced grilled French bread with artichoke dip on top, and a peach and apricot cobbler. We really outdid ourselves and were pooped in the end, but had a great time doing it. Granted, as soon as I got home, I downed the Advil for my aching legs, took a shower and flopped on the couch with a nice stiff drink and some quiet time with my honey.

So, the rewards reaped from our day of cooking and camaraderie was not only the grateful thanks of those that we fed, and the time spent with loved ones that can never be replaced, but eight turkey carcases that we were able to turn into stock the next day and can with my pressure canner. Was it another excuse to get together with friends and hang out, laughing and having fun? Maybe. But we also have some great home made stock that can be used for soups in the future. What have I learned from this weekend? Well, to be tired is ok, to be sore is fine, but spending time with the ones you love and making memories that will last forever while helping others is pure unfiltered joy. The next time someone asks you to help out, I say go for it, because you never know what will happen.

A Girl's Best Friend

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It is well known in my circle of friends and family that my husband and I are dog lovers. It started simply with Maggie. She came with the husband when we got together. He has had her for about 9 years now and she is a great little dog. Maggie is a Queensland Heeler and smart as a whip. Sometimes we think she's too smart because she will give you some looks that make you wonder what that girl is thinking of.

When I moved in to hubby's house I knew it was my chance to get a dog of my own. I figured Maggie would like a playmate and I had always wanted my own dog, so off to the SPCA we went. There we found Buddy. A beautiful Doberman that was only 8 months old and had been abandoned by his owners due to a divorce. While doing the "meet and greet" we discovered Buddy had a great personality and just wanted to get to know and play with other dogs so we knew he was the boy for us.

Our life was great until we purchased our first (and current) home to discover that Maggie was done playing rough and Buddy really needed someone a little more active to chase around. That brings us to Woody, the poster boy for todays post. Woody was spotted by hubby in the neighborhood where they had puppies for sale. Coming back from his errand I was told I had to come and look at these puppies. Yes, love at first sight because, hello!, puppies!!!

Yes, Buddy and Woody were fast friends and continue to be so. When we got Woody we were told he was a Shar Pei mix, but not what the "mix" was. We figured there was some pit bull in there, but just weren't sure. Both of us were fine with whatever Woody turned out to be and I can say over a year later, Woody has turned out to be the best dog ever. He definitely has Staffordshire Bull Terrier in him but not much Shar Pei that we're able to see.

Having Woody has brought hubby and I into the world of pit bull discrimination. When I tell some people what dogs I have, they are more afraid of the pit bull than the Doberman. Granted, neither dog would ever harm anyone but Buddy is definitely the scary looking one when he greets you at the door. Dealing with the negative comments we've gotten, I found by chance a volunteer opportunity for hubby and I to help some dogs in need and spread the word for pit bull abuse.

Both of us volunteer our time to help take care of kenneled pits who are awaiting adoption through Chako. We go once or twice a week and walk, play and teach basic obedience to a kenneled dog. Currently, we're taking care of Daisy, a great little girl that has a stubborn streak a mile wide, but is the sweetest thing ever.

In dealing with Chako, I have opened my eyes to the amount of discrimination this breed gets and how many great organizations there are out there dedicated to pit bull awareness.

Lemony Goodness

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We have a huge lemon tree in our backyard and this year, my husband decided it would be a good idea to harvest the entire tree at once so he could go ahead and prune the tree. This was a good idea in theory, however, I was left with an overwhelming amount of lemons in my kitchen that I knew I had to process before they would spoil. Granted, lemons will keep for quite a while, but when you're dealing with this many lemons, it's pretty daunting. Even Woody was amazed at the amount there were.

Many weekends, I sat at the kitchen table and peeled the rinds off of the lemons, then juiced them so we could save every lovely bit of lemony goodness.

Dear husband made several loaves of lemon bread and I did my share of making a lemon cake or two, but the real reason I go to this much trouble is to make limoncello. I love limoncello and don't really drink it too often, but when I do, it's just so yummy! However, now that I have my own lemon tree, I am finding it quite easy to make this lemony goodness and also different levels of sweetness. The worst thing about limoncello is the fact that once you have all of your peels and add them to your alcohol, you have to wait about 2 months for a really good product. You place your peels in a large container and add your alcohol, then stick it in a cool dark place and just wait. And wait, and wait.

When your lemon peels have finally given up the last of their loveliness and have turned a very pale yellow to almost white, you know it's time to add the simple syrup. Last year I made a very sweet limoncello and it was quite tasty, however, this year I'm doing a much less sweet drink and discovering that it is a great mixer for some yummy cocktails. I added less sugar to this batch and immediately bottled half of it while letting the 2nd half sit and marinate with the sugar a while longer. As long as I have these beauties in my freezer, I am a happy girl.

Mixed with some pomegranate juice, it makes for a wonderful cocktail. So, here's to you all. Go harvest the last of your lemons and make your own lemony goodness!

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