Adventures in Wine Country

On my actual birthday, things were rough. I was 35, work was busy and Lucy was sick. We spent the night in the emergency room with her, splitting a Starbucks fruit and cheese box for dinner between the four of us. I went to bed exhausted, hungry and unimpressed with 35. Lucky for me, A had ensured that there were cupcakes and had made alternative plans for my birthday celebration.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

A & Lila hiking the trail

 

Saturday we woke up and got the kids out the door in a relatively speedy manner. We headed north and started our adventure with a walk along the Sammamish River. The rain held off for us and we had a pleasant walk along the river, even spotting a river otter swimming along side the trail.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

Full of Brunch-y goodness

From there, we headed to the Barking Frog at the Willows Lodge. I’ve been longing to go to the Willows Lodge and eat at the Herbfarm since we moved to Seattle. While we still haven’t made it to the Herbfarm, Barking Frog was a fun substitute. It was an excellent brunch – beignets and all. I had a giant Bloody Mary that involved bacon, a beef stick, pepperoni and mozzarella. I recommend, but be aware it will fill you up before your brunch arrives. (Sidenote, children do not understand brunch. One will insist you are eating breakfast, the other will insist it is lunch, and when you try to tell them that you are both right, they will not be amused.)

From there we hiked (further than we were expecting) to Chateau Ste. Michelle for the winery tour and tasting. It was interesting to see the bottle rooms and the children at least learned that there were two different colors of grapes. Once we got to the tasting room, we were greeted by bright holiday decorations (and tasty wines). We walked to Columbia Winery next, and then traveled to Fidelitas Wines and Mark Ryan. All were really good and the tasting rooms were all fun and friendly. My favorite was definitely Mark Ryan and I’m currently trying to convince A to join the wine club. At least then we’d have an excuse to go to Woodinville four times a year.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

Lila took this pic, Lucy was unamused

It was an excellent re-do for my birthday and a great way to kick off 35. Now that I’ve been bitten by the Woodinville wine bug, I’m ready to go back.

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

Andrew and Lila say thumbs up to Woodinville (Lucy took this pic)

Thanksgiving Preparations (or Lack Thereof)

I am aware that Thanksgiving in the time of the Pilgrims was probably pretty difficult. I mean, finding and killing a turkey. Growing everything you were going to eat. Staying alive until the holiday. You know, stuff. But there are things that we have to deal with that they did not. Namely, Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

 

Pinterest can be great – recipes, crafts to do with the kids, attractive wreaths for the front door. Look at this stuff:

Baby Rabies Thom Turkey Wreath

Pounds 4 Pennies Family Thanksgiving Crafts

 

Averie Cooks Caramel Apple Crumble Pie

These all look awesome. Each post promises that the craft or recipe is easy. But here’s the catch. I’m not crafty. I’m not a great cook or baker. Remember these? 

For example, I had this great picture in my head this weekend that I would bake with the girls. All of the baking mixes I had (so yeah, I’m using baking mixes to start) were expired. Like 3 years past the expiration date expired. Then I thought we’d make chocolate chip cookies from scratch. We have no flour. Ok. A suggests using the pancake/baking mix – which yes, has a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Yada yada yada, I burn the cookies. Badly. You can see how fancy meals or handmade pie crusts are not really in my repitore.

So Thanksgiving for me is a time of hope – this is the year I will get it together. I will make handprint turkeys with the kids to save for years to come. I will make place cards for every guest, properly gilded in gold. I will have new recipes that seem like I’ve been making them for years. My pies will not burn.

But let’s be honest. My cookies burn. I don’t do crafts. I’ll buy my pumpkin pie at Costco. I’ll make the same tried and true side dishes for Thanksgiving and I’ll let the Dora plates indicate who will be sitting where at dinner.

Celebrating Seattle Style

As you may have heard, Tuesday was A’s birthday. Being an excellent father, husband and generally good guy, he deserved a pretty exciting birthday celebration, so I worked hard to try to make it a celebration worthy of him.

I aimed to combine things I knew he loved – his daughters, beer and pizza. While we really love PNW beer, we’ve never really had a chance to explore some of the great breweries in Seattle, so I thought I’d try to plan a “tour” of kinds for A’s birthday. I targeted the southern area of the city for our tour, and of course had to make sure all our stops were family friendly. Here’s what our tour looked like:

 

map

 

Our first stop was Machine House Brewery. Beer wise it was our least favorite – cask ale, not our first choice for drinks. Location wise it was in the middle of Georgetown, great old warehouse location. They show only English Premier League games (some on Tivo). Family friendly and even had toys, games and a kids’ corner.

A bonus stop on our tour was across the alley from Machine House, the Fran’s chocolate factory. The kids were able to watch them making the delicious chocolates and everyone agreed that children as adorable as ours were in need of chocolate samples. Lila ate all of them, Lucy just liked holding them in her hand.

Next on the tour was Georgetown Brewing. Lucille IPA is one of our favorite beers, both in flavor and name. We were excited to stop by the brewery. Sadly we arrived just before their 4pm last call. We each had one sample of beer (I highly recommend the Johnny Utah) and then moved on. We hope to go back at some point to enjoy some more beer and maybe pick up Lucille tee shirt.

I mention this next one because I really like the beer and the location was adorable with a beer garden, but it ended up being 21 and over, so we were unable to enjoy the atmosphere. Two Beers has a nice IPA and is partnered with the Seattle Cider Co. If you are doing a tour without children, I’d recommend stopping by here.

Last stop was Seapine Brewing. This place was fantastic! The staff was super friendly – even bought A his first pint for his birthday. The location has a front porch, open air room and amazing workmanship. The bartender, who also brews the beer, showed us how the planks in the wall were from his parents’ old barn on Bainbridge Island. The beer was really tasty, and you can buy a half pint, which is great for the designated driver on the tour. The kids had a lot of fun (though I did pull out all the snacks on this stop, which helped a great deal). And of course, the biggest hit of the tour was Jenga!

Family Friendly South Seattle Brewery Tour

 

 

We ended the tour in our own neighborhood at our favorite pizza joint, Flying Squirrel Pizza (or “the squirrel restaurant” as Lila calls it).

IPA, chocolate, soccer, pepperoni and cupcakes? Seems like a pretty excellent birthday to me.

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Happy, happy birthday Andrew. We love you and we hope you enjoyed your birthday weekend – even if it could have used a little more natitude.

 

Nailed It

A’s birthday is on Tuesday, but we did some early celebrating this weekend. While I’d be happiest buying some delicious Trophy Cupcakes, I know that Lila really enjoys helping to bake and decorate, especially for birthdays. I went to the store to grab some cake and frosting and had the bright idea that making ice cream cone cupcakes would be fun. Easy for the girls to eat, super cute to look at. Yes, I am crafty and handy in the kitchen, this is a brilliant idea.

 

Nailed it. 

 

I am not crafty.

I am not crafty.

Recipe for Seattle Fall

This weather in Seattle has been a bit nutsy. Our summer has been so beautiful that I am hesitant to tell you because then everyone will flock here and the traffic will be even worse. Warm, sunny and hanging on. We’re expecting highs in the 80s this weekend and while I enjoy it, it is hard to not think about fall things. Trips to the pumpkin field, chunky sweaters and soup.

Luckily the crock pot is not only this working momma’s friend, it also doesn’t really heat up our kitchen like other cooking or baking does.

Sausage, Bean and Pasta Stew Recipe : Food Network Kitchen : Food Network - FoodNetwork.com

 

This recipe from Food Network for Sausage,Bean and Pasta soup looks super yummy, hearty and something the girls would eat. I’m excited to add it to our fall recipe rotation.

This Make Ahead Beef Stew from Allrecipes.com is perfect for the fall CSA. We’ll have lots of root vegetables and it will be an easy way to use many at once. A loves a good, crunchy baguette with this sort of meal and seems like it will be perfect to eat after a Sunday spent watching football.

We use our slow cooker to do more than just soups. We love doing pulled pork or chicken in it as well. I look forward to trying this recipe for French Dip. It is one of A’s favorite sandwich and I think it would be a perfect meal for a Saturday night at home.

In the past I’ve tended to use Pinterest to search and store my slow cooker recipes but that can be overwhelming. Allrecipes.com was easy to search and I like that it has reviews from people who tried the recipes (unlike Pinterest). I may try to organize a virtual “recipe box” this fall for all our favorite recipes.

Do you have favorite slow cooker meals? Share the wealth to help make it an easy fall menu planning season!

Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

Despite the temperatures not feeling very fall like today, we celebrated the fall’s rumored arrival with a visit to the Washington State Fair. Or you know, Do the Puyallup.

This was our third year visiting the fair, each visit bringing something new. Our first year I was pregnant with Lucy and Lila was young, interested in the farm animals and not much more. Last year we had tiny Lucy and we went with friends, bringing two energetic two year olds to the fair. The idea of rides were introduced, as was the idea of fair food. This year, our group once again grew by one – our friends have a new baby, so we attended the fair with two three and a half year old, a one and a half year old and a seven month old.

With the two older girls able to have their own opinions this year, planning took on a new challenge. We couldn’t just announce where we were going next. The kids had things they wanted to see, things they wanted to do and most certainly things they wanted to eat. Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

We started with the animals – baby cows, baby pigs and yes, the cat show. We even saw a hairless cat who Lila said “felt like a person.” The baby pigs are always a treat, so many of them, so little and so, so aggressive to nurse from their mom. I always feel a connection to poor pig mom, even if she has about eleven more babies who want to nurse than I do.

The girls were pretty into rides this year, though they were limited by height restrictions. They did manage to ride the merry-go-round, a train and a variety of other small vehicles that go around in a circle. Not realizing there was an age restriction, we did sneak Lucy onto one of the rides. She was. . . confused.

Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

 

The older girls were a little more into it.

Seattle Fall: Do the Puyallup

 

Lastly, fair food was had by all. Our friends are native Puyallup-ians, so they have certain food they search out. We’ve been happy to tag along for fun. Scones and bbq are delicious, I recommend. We split before dessert – they had fried dough (or elephant ears as they call it there), the girls had ice cream and I smuggled a caramel apple home. (I had hoped to eat it in the car on the way home, but Lila never went down for a nap, so I enjoyed it before writing this.)

We’re not native Washingtonians, but we’ve come to enjoy the Puyallup Fair as one of our early Seattle fall traditions.

Have you done the Puyallup? Any food we need to check out next time?

 

 

Recipe for Social Media and Quick Breads

Seattle Bloggers Visit Allrecipes.com in SeattleI recently attended a Seattle bloggers event at Allrecipes in Seattle.  Allrecipes is a social recipe site. For those who are familiar with Ravelry, it is basically the Ravelry of the food world.  It was started by a group of University of Washington graduate students and has grown over the last 16 years.

To be honest, before the event, I was unfamiliar with the site. Most of my recipe hunting is done through Pinterest these days so I wasn’t sure I need another time-waster resource. One thing I don’t like about Pinterest though, is that it is often difficult to determine what recipes are good and what are duds. Number of pins doesn’t really mean anything, but I pin a TON of things that I never make. Allrecipes allows users to rate the recipes, comment on it and share any changes they may have made.

Sunday I was looking at my remaining CSA share and wanting to get ahead as much as possible for the week. I had cut up much of the veggies to roast, but I had several remaining zucchini. I downloaded the iPad app and searched for “zucchini.” Many recipes popped up and I filtered it down to zucchini bread – perhaps my favorite baked good. After searching through the recipes, I found a great recipe for zucchini blueberry bread. Since I had a pint of blueberries from the CSA as well, it was an easy choice. I reviewed some of the comments, could see that it had been made 10,000 times and was highly recommended.

I will say I encountered a few issues, none of which were the recipe’s fault. I mean, did you know vanilla extract can evaporate if not used in a timely manner? It can. Did you also know that you can use maple syrup as a substitute? Also? You may want to double check how much oil you have in your house before starting. Issues aside, I pulled everything together and out came two beautiful loaves.

Verdict? Delicious. I wish it had a bit more zucchini flavor, but I think that might be because I just used the 3 small zucchini I had instead of measuring out the 2 cups shredded zucchini. My other substitutes did not seem to affect the flavor much or at least not in any negative way.

Having had such a great experience with Allrecipes.com, I’m super excited to use it for the next few months to find some new recipes for our CSA. (One can only eat roast beets so many weeks in a row.)  I’m looking forward to being able to build a virtual recipe box filled with recipes I know have been tried and tested, especially when so many look so yummy. Apple-berry pie, anyone?

Sunday Funday

Sundays can be both our busiest and most relaxing day of the week. Saturdays are filled with classes, dog parks, play dates and date nights. We try to keep Sundays less scheduled when possible, but that still means a busy day. Church, walks for bagels, play ground trips, grocery shopping, and prep for the week ahead keeps us hopping.

Today was no different.  Nothing scheduled but lots to do, all working towards trying to make the week ahead just a little bit easier. A got diapers and bottles ready for tomorrow.  I made food for Lucy for all week (cherries, peaches, and avocado, in case you were wondering.) I made a yummy dinner with fresh ingredients from our CSA.

Best of all, the evening ended with a double bath and two very silly, clean girls. We may not have crossed off “summer must dos” today, but I’d call it a success regardless.

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Waving My Hippie Flag

It is not surprising that I’ve developed some hippie habits since moving to Seattle.  The other day I commented on Facebook that I felt very Seattle that day because I had won an argument as to whether you recycle or compost milk cartons.  (Recycle, they are waxed and can’t be composted.)  My office does not just have a recycling bin – we have a paper recycling, mixed item recycling, compost and landfill.  (Yes, even the trash cans are passive aggressive in Seattle.)  The girls wear cloth diapers.  I make my own baby food.  We eat at many farm to table restaurants.  And this year we are members of a CSA.

A had been resistant for the past few years about joining a CSA.  He was concerned with the cost and waste and whether we really needed one.  With two kids our weekend time is at a premium so we don’t always have time to go to the farmers’ market.  Add to that our concern that Lila (and soon Lucy) eat healthily and have at least one vegetable at each meal and signing up for a CSA just seemed like the way to go.

Last week was our first box pick up.  I was a little intimidated by the contents – it wasn’t just tomatoes and squash.  We had strawberries (Lila and Andrew’s current favorite, so big win there), sweet onions, “spicy” leafy mix, spinach, spring garlic, garlic scapes (which are really snakey), radishes, lettuce and Pink Lady apples.  The first night I threw together a salad of the lettuce, radishes and apples.  It was delightful and made us feel so summery and responsible to be eating such a healthy, local salad.  Faced with most of the remaining contents of the box, I decided to wing it and make a giant quiche for dinner.  I adapted a recipe from Cooking Light for a garden quiche and am pretty proud of the results.  It was a little larger than anticipated and may have exploded all over the oven, but now we know how to use the clean feature of our oven.  I never would have made such a yummy, nutritious  veggie filled meal if I had to go buy all the veggies individually but now I know we’ll all have vegetables with our meals everyday this week (plus the necessary strawberries for some of us).

There certainly are days when I wonder why I’ve adopted these hippie ways – when I can’t take toting cloth diapers around any more or I just want to buy a can of peas for Lucy instead of steaming and pureeing them.  Thankfully this CSA seems to be a fun and easy way to fly my hippie flag this summer and I’m looking forward to discovering more veggies we’ve never tried before (that are hopefully less snake like than garlic scapes).

 

Activity Points

As I discussed in my last post, I’m working to shed the baby weight, hopefully before returning to work in April.  A big part of this is trying to fit activity into my schedule – but with a 10 week old baby it can be hard.  I am not going to leave her at a gym day care because she is too young but I feel guilty hiring someone to watch her since I’m on unpaid leave.  We do a lot of walking – sometimes around Green Lake, sometimes around Target – to try to get out as well as tire the dog out.  However this morning I realized that our daily routine probably has more activity in it then I give myself credit.

– Lucy and I return to the house after dropping Lila at day care and A at work.  I carry Lucy in her (not so light) car seat into the house. Get Lucy out of her seat and onto her playmat.

– I’ve been planning the perfect breakfast sandwich in my head the entire way home from drop off duty, so I am excitedly gathering ingredients in the kitchen.  Lucy cries.

– Pick up Lucy, bounce, bounce, bounce.  Move her to her bouncy seat.  Move bouncy seat to the kitchen so she can see me.  Heat up pan for perfect fried egg.

– Lucy cries again.  Run back to her to give her pacifier.  She rejects it.  Spend 30 seconds bouncing to settle her down and place her back in the bouncy seat.  Crack egg into pan and place English muffin in the toaster.

– Lucy has now made it clear that she will not be ignored.  Pick her up and bounce, bounce, bounce while watching egg cook, arranging cheese on the English muffin, flipping egg and dishing out cantaloupe.

– Sit down with Lucy, sandwich and fruit.  Discover Lucy is sucking on my arm – the international infant sign for “FEED ME.”  Sigh, push plate away to feed Lucy.

– Finish feeding Lucy but realize I really need to pee before beginning to eat.  Get up, take food with me to hide from the pets in the microwave.  Take Lucy to the bathroom with me, rearrange toddler bathroom paraphernalia so that Lucy can hang on the bath mat while I pee.

– Back to the dining room.  Happy fed baby in the bouncy seat.  I sit down and open email, realize my food is still hidden from pets.  Back up to kitchen to grab food.

– Finally begin eating perfect sandwich when perfect over easy egg yolk breaks  all over my hand.  No napkins on the table, jump up to grab one and dash to make it back to the table before the pets grab my breakfast.

– Yum, finally fed.  Take a relaxing sip of coffee – wait, it’s cold.  Sigh, back to the microwave.