Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving in Seattle

We got up early on Thursday and put the Coconut Sweet Potatoes in the oven. They baked for about 45 minutes and by 7:30 am we were on the road to Seattle. It was rainy, hard to see while driving, and generally all-around yucky. We stopped for coffee and headed north on I-5.

But we made it to my brother, Tom’s, just after noon. Tom decided to stay home so Mike and I headed to Aunt Gloria’s where we had a wonderful traditional Thanksgiving feast, including the Coconut Sweet Potatoes!

Cousins Mike, Brian and Cathy relaxed while Aunt Gloria put away the food.

After savoring Aunt Gloria’s homemade pumpkin and chocolate pies we headed to downtown Seattle for the night.

We woke and it was sunny and clear! So Friday morning we had the perfect weather to drive north to Cheryl’s new house.

After the tour of the custom-built, timber-frame house we sat down and enjoyed Cheryl’s baked potato soup with all of the toppings. It was like liquid baked potatoes – nice job, Cheryl!

Mike with Cheryl's parents, Karl and Marlene.

And then Cheryl and I exchanged birthday gifts – we have shared December 1st birthdays since we were just 12 years old! And the book we're holding? It's about all about December 1st birthdays and we have given this back and forth to each other since 1993. Cheryl is the best.

Before long it was time for us to hit the road. We got home around 8:30 pm after stopping for dinner at The Brick in downtown Salem. That was just over 650 miles there, driving around and back. Whewww...

It was a whirlwind. And it was a little emotional. There were a lot of thoughts running through my head as we drove through the neighborhoods so familiar to us. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel coming "home" to Seattle, but knowing it’s not my actual home anymore. But it was beautiful – seeing the snow-topped Olympic Mountains while looking west and the Cascade Mountains looking east. And now we’re back home in Salem...thinkin’ getting’ a Christmas tree…

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Well, I never called myself Julia Child...

In my recipe post I forgot to mention that you need to sprinkle Kosher salt over each layer of the sweet potatoes. And one other thing, I just finished preparing the potatoes and I used 2 full cans of coconut milk. Sorry for the confusion!

And now while the potatoes are baking we'll get ready to hit the road to Seattle!!! I am so excited. The drive should be nice since the weather is cooperating. Yesterday it was so sunny and crisp.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Julie and Julia

Last night I saw the movie Julie and Julia and I loved it! It is the story of Julia Child’s (Meryl Streep) start in the cooking profession mixed with the story of Julie Powell (Amy Adams) cooking her way through all the recipes in Julia’s first cookbook, while blogging about the experience.

It was the blogging element that hooked me. I felt so much like Julie when she was posting to her blog. And I won’t quickly forget the scene in which she is initially creating her Blogspot blog. It was exactly what I did just over 2 years ago.

And it was the love component that made me smile. The love between Julia and her husband and Julie and her husband – Julia in Paris, Julie in New York – was so strong and compelling.

If you have a chance, see the movie! And on my lunch hour today I’ll be searching for Julie’s blog...I wonder if it is still out there. Does anyone know??

12:45pm The original blog is at Use the calendar to pick a post to read.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baked Coconut Sweet Potatoes

I found it! My recipe! I have to laugh…the person that wants me to make the dish for Thanksgiving is the same person that had the recipe – my Aunt Gloria. HA!

So here it is:

Peel 6 sweet potatoes and slice thinly
Arrange 1/3 of the potatoes in a large, lightly greased glass baking dish
Sprinkle with brown sugar
Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of butter on top of the potatoes and brown sugar
Do another layer
And one more layer
Cover with canned coconut milk. And be sure to cover the top layer. As Aunt Gloria quoted to me from my recipe, “If it isn’t covered, it will be BAD.

Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Yummy, yummy, yummy…

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coconut Sweet Potato Recipe??

A few years back I had a recipe for baked sweet potatoes bathed in coconut milk. YUM! Unfortunately, I may have purged the recipe while packing for our move to Mexico as I was unable to find it yestereay. Whaaaa...

Mike and I are headed to Seattle over Thanksgiving weekend to spend time with our family and some friends. And a request has been made for for me to bring my coconut sweet potatoes! Arghhh...

Does anyone have a recipe for coconut sweet potatoes??? If so, please share!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day in Salem, Oregon

It’s a state holiday today and I didn’t have to work! Mike, Betty and I got up early and went to the new Kroc Center to swim at 8 am.

What a large and beautiful facility that recently opened in Salem! You may know that in January 2004, McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc left a gift of $1.5 billion to The Salvation Army to build and help operate community centers across the US. In a competitive race, Salem received $35.5 million from the Ray and Joan Kroc gift to build the Community Center and it just opened in September.

It was my first visit, but Mike and Betty are new Kroc Center members and they do a water exercise class 3-5 days a week. This morning the three of us started out in a wacky-shaped pool playing with a water noodle and Styrofoam bar-bells. From there we fought our way against the current of “the river” - a curvy path of water that utilizes a mechanized current to challenge our strength! After that work out we relaxed in the hot tub. There are also waters areas designed specifically for children and infants. The water facilities are something to see!

We showered in the very tres chic individual cabanas that include a shower, toilet, sink and changing area. I was so impressed with the modern environmentally sound toilet...(click on the pic to enlarge it and the signage.)

There are many exercise machines (with individual TV monitors) that sit out in the hallway. It sorta feels "invasive," to the observer, but at that same time it must feel "open and free" to the people working out.

Once showered and dressed, we sat in the lobby and enjoyed cafecito drinks purchased from the espresso bar. The rock climbing wall is in the lobby and we watched as climbers practiced climbing.

The gym...this place is something special!

Coffees finished, Betty and Mike gave me the grand tour that included activity rooms for art, computers, books, spirituality, theater, day care and other things I have already forgotten.

After that we went home and got Ron to head to Applebees for lunch (see my post from yesterday about the Applebee’s Restaurant offer for a free entrée for veterans and active-duty military personnel.) We got there close to noon and the parking lot was packed! We finally found a parking spot and got on the restaurant’s 20-minute waiting list. We found seats in the bar and I pulled out Mike’s framed US Marine Corps picture and set it on the bar. Ron and Betty had seats across the bar from us and here they are enjoying their beverages.

Soon enough we were shown to our table. The place was fully decked-out in US military colors! And many of the veteran patrons wore hats or vests acknowledging their contributions to our country. In light of the recent shooting at an Army base, it felt very good to see these people up close.

Happy Veterans Day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Semper Fi

Mike in 1973. United States Marine Corps.

Tomorrow is Veterans Day and we want to say THANK YOU to all veterans and to all active-duty military men and women for all the work you have done and for the work you continue to do.

And if you have an Applebee’s Restaurant in your neighborhood, veterans and active-military personnel are invited to the restaurant for a free entrée tomorrow! Mike is a Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine) and we will check it out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bikin' to Work

I accepted the job offer on a Monday (back in May) and bought my used beach bike soon thereafter. I took the bus on my first day of work, but since then I have probably ridden my bike on average 4 times a week. (The 5th day I wear a skirt and take the bus.)

But even though we changed our clocks back 1 hour last weekend it is getting very dark outside right after 5 pm – the time I get on my bike and pedal home. So this will be my last week of bike riding until next spring.

I can’t explain how much I enjoy biking to and from work. Even last summer when it was in the 100’s and it was HOT! Riding is fun and I get to see people from a different perspective. And I would say that Salem drivers are very courteous to bikers.

So the last 2 days I took pictures as I biked into downtown Salem from West Salem. It’s a short ride…just what I like.

The small stretch of traffic down Wallace to the trail...

The beginning of the trail that leads to the bridge...

It is so peaceful right here...

The fog was dense yesterday morning...

The Willamette River was so calm...

The bridge will soon be temporarily closed so the lead-based paint can be removed...

The end of the bridge brings me to downtown, with just a few blocks to go...

Government buildings I pass on my way...

Here is my office...

The view out my window...

Winding through the Capitol...

The creek next to our office has salmon runs...

On my way back to West Salem...hope you enjoyed the trip!