Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I can't believe nearly a month has flown by without me posting here!  It was a very busy four weeks leading up to today though, we "got" a nephew nephew, brought the (almost) 4-year old nephew home to stay for three weeks, took said nephew and the dog on a 400+ mile road trip back to his home, then on another 200-ish mile trip (just the two of us) to visit our nephew (and his parents) on my boyfriend's side of our little family unit, then it was back to Central Oregon for several days and an early Christmas with my family (we stayed in a hotel with the dog)!  Our month-long "adventure" came to a close yesterday with another 400+ mile trip home with the dog.  I brought photos home to share though!

Anyone who has or has had a child anywhere near four years old probably already knows this, but they "go" until they drop!  Put one in a car for around 8 hours and they "go" the whole time!  Our "loner" (nephew #3) went until he was about 25 minutes from his home...then he asked for a pillow and was out!  But look how clean the car seat is!  The day before we left on our trip, he got sick after filling up on marshmallows and fruit snacks (I was a nice aunt and let him take his own handful of mini marshmallows out of the bag and then his uncle had the bright idea to take him to run around the play structure at the mall...)!  Poor little guy covered himself, the entire car seat and a good portion of the seat he was buckled to!

We didn't stay long when we dropped him off at home, we pretty much said hello, dropped off the kid, dog, and all of the Christmas "stuff" and got back on the road!  It is a 7 to 8 hour drive to my Mother's house and another 2 to 3 hours past that to his brother's was a long day in the car!  We were greeted with the best low-carb meal I think I have ever eaten (until the next day when he did it again)!  My other half's brother is an amazing chef!  He graduated from Western Culinary Institute with the highest of grades, did his externship at the Playboy Mansion, and has recently (2 weeks ago) opened his own restaurant in Eugene Oregon!  But, back to the dinner he made for us when we arrived!  He roasted a piece of beef (I believe..) and to go with it made Roasted Parsnips (Okay, not a really low-carb veg, but he tried and they were amazing!), and Cauliflower (again, I believe he pan-roasted these, but I stayed in the living room playing with our 2-year old nephew).  The meal was so good!  He cooked the meat to more of a medium-well, which was awesome for the two of us since we like our meat "done" rather than pink, but he spent the rest of the trip wishing he hadn't "over-cooked" it!  We only stayed for two nights, but the food was so amazingly good!  The next night it was Pork (roast) with a Turnip and Carrot Mash (again, higher on the carb count than what I make at home, but he tried to cook as low-carb as his French training would let him) that I could have inhaled all of, and Brussels Sprouts with Curry powder, Coconut Milk, and a few other things!  As always, everything tasted amazing!  I will be attempting to mimic the Brussels Sprouts, but I will be eliminating the little bit of sugar he put in them (I think I can do that without ruining the dish).  I should have taken photos, but I was too busy inhaling my food!

On our way out of Eugene, we stopped by Jef's restaurant (Koho Bistro) for a cup of the coffee we had heard so much about!  It's Wood-Roasted, something I had never heard of doing with coffee before.  It smelled so good when it came out!
After a packet of Splenda and a little cream, I got my first sip...  Oh My!  That first sip hits you with just a hint of wood smoke in it!  We love our coffee and spent a large part of the week drinking it by what seems the gallon, but this little cup is the best cup of coffee I believe I have ever had (Cafe Pacori, wood roasted coffee)!  It is well-worth stopping in for just the cup of coffee!  While we didn't get to eat "at" Koho Bistro, we did spend two days enjoying the creations made by the executive chef/owner!  He has amazing talent, especially with food!  The Brussels Sprouts I mentioned we had for dinner are actually on the menu too!  Go drool over the menus in the link up there, and then go in for a visit!  Even us low-carbers can get away with a few things...or just go "cheat" on the's worth it!  I have more photos of the restaurant, but those will have to wait a few days (while I get them off the other half's phone).

Back in Central Oregon, we spent Wednesday morning at Sun Mountain Fun Center!  The boys rode the bumper cars three times!  Once with their uncle, and a couple of times just the three of them!  All of the boys have gotten really good at driving these!  Even #3 was ramming everyone with precision accuracy!  We also played in the arcade until our $30 (between the boys' "fun cards") was gone...not bad for an hour or so of fun for five adults and three rambunctious boys!  Wednesday was also the day we celebrated "Christmas Eve" (opening gifts from family members).  The oldest two boys went with Grandma, Aunt, and Uncle back home to have lunch and play for a while while the youngest two stayed with their parents to go to doctor's appointments and such.  That evening we opened gifts!  I got a Nook!  It's pretty dang cool too...I have already loaded a bunch of the "free" books on it, a bunch of cookbooks (including one of Dana Carpender's books I was still "missing"), and a single "actual" book that I already own in paper format, but never seem to have the time and opportunity to read!

Thursday morning, the boys were excited to see that Santa kept up his end of the deal!  Nephew #3 had talked to Santa (at the Mall here in Spokane) about using our house as the "Dry Run" house this year!  Would you believe it?  Santa actually came actually came 3 days early just to make sure his sleigh was up to snuff this year?  How lucky we were to be picked as one of the houses he used to test the system!  (Yep, when you include boys that are 3, 6, and have to get elaborate!)  Santa even remembered to bring the right things to each boy this year!  A Cars 2 toy for #3 (he couldn't find the house he asked for as well), a MobiGo game for #1, and Lego's for #2!

In fact, Nephew #2 got Lego's from just about everyone this year!  We gave him a 231-piece set, he got a 1600-piece set to split with his older brother, a huge Lego City set from his Grandparents on the other side (the fire station set), a Police truck from the City set, and a few smaller sets as well as one of those "sort and store" heads!  He actually has so many Lego's now, they fill the head!  There are specific pieces that require stickers these days...I don't remember having to add stickers to the pieces when I was a kid, they came pre-printed!  But, since they had to be added (and because the sets are so huge and I wanted to make sure all the pieces were there), I actually spent several hours over the course of two days "playing" with the Lego's to put them together and get the stickers on the right pieces.  This turned out to be a good idea too, since the huge City set (priced higher than I would ever spend on Lego's) is actually missing a key piece!
I gave my sister the part number (listed in the back of the fourth manual for putting the set together) and the phone number for customer service...hopefully Lego will remedy the missing piece issue!  That big yellow thing in the background is the storage head...without these sets in it, it is actually full of Lego's already!

With "Christmas" over for our households, we had a few days left to kill before heading home on the morning of the 24th.  While my Mom and I did some "post/pre-Christmas shopping", my other half took the oldest two boys swimming at the hotel.  See all that sunshine out the open slider?  It was supposed to be 55 degrees on the 24th, the weather was awesome while we were there!  However, the weather here at home is cold and least it waited until we were almost home to turn to snow!

Right now, I have a pot of "Slow-Cooker Tomato Soup" cooking (that I "Marcy-ized") for Lunch smells great and is making my hungry!  Dinner tonight is something with Hamburger (because everything else in the freezer will take a few days to thaw).  Tomorrow though...Christmas 2012 shopping begins!  I'll be out and about looking for those great after-Christmas sales!  My plans include hitting up the fabric stores too...I want to get several yards of materials for some craft projects that I have been mulling over in my head (adult-sized aprons, bags for the boys to keep their toys in, new stockings for my house....).  I also need wrapping paper!  Besides running out this year, we got one of those nifty wrapping paper storage tubs as a gift...need to fill it up now!  Jo-Ann's, Micheal's, Wal Mart, and World Market are on my list tomorrow...also a few clothing stores that are having good deals!

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