Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Weekend Update: In Search of Pumpkins!

We had a miserable and wet Saturday, but just enough of a part in the clouds on Sunday for our annual trek up to Snohomish for pumpkins.

Brian and I have gone just about every year for 8 years and for the past few years we have been including our friends, Sonja and Geoff and their two girls. 

Tradition dictates that we stomp through the Stocker Farms Pumpkin Patch.  They have a corn maze, farmer's market, tons of pumpkins and haunted attractions.

The drive up to Snohomish is worth it (rain or shine).  Our beautiful and warm late summer weather brought out a ton of colors in our leaves this year.

And some beautiful pumpkins!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: End of October!

Welcome to the last part of October!  It's hard to believe.

This is an incredibly busy week for me as I am heading off on another train adventure on Friday.  I want to make sure that I have my menu planned out so that I can spend quality time packing and organizing for my trip!

Don't forget to check out Laura's Organizing site for more great ideas!


Monday: Classic Weight Watchers Meatloaf with Green Beans and Chive Mashed Potatoes
Tuesday: Weight Watchers New England Clam Chowder with a Garden Salad
Wednesday:  HALLOWEEN!  Homemade pizzas and a celebration of all things SPOOKY!!!
Thursday:  YOYO Night!  You're On Your Own!!  I'll be packing!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Old Photo Friday: Halloween 1971

WHO: Jim and Jennifer (Dad and Mom)
WHAT: Halloween
WHERE: Ben's Market; Main Street (Springfield, OR)
WHEN: 1971

I am fairly certain that this picture was taken at a local market 1/2 mile from our house on E street.  Why is the question?  Perhaps it was a stop, to pick up some beer or wine before heading off to a Halloween Party.

Mom, how did you get Dad to dress up AND put make-up on?


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Recipe of the week: CROCKTOBER! Chocolate Brownie Pudding Cake

I couldn't let Crocktober end without including a yummy dessert.  There are just about as many crockpot desserts as there are main meals so it was super hard to pick just one.

Please note that most crockpot recipes cook within 2-3 hours, so cook on a night when you are not using your crockpot for dinner.


Chocolate Brownie Pudding Cake


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa
  • 2 1/2 cups brownie mix (half of a 21.5oz pkg)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, if desired


Combine 3/4 cup water, brown sugar, and cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. In the meantime combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whisk together with a spoon. 
Spread the batter evenly in the bottom of a lightly buttered slow cooker/crock pot. Pour boiling mixture over the batter. Cover and cook on high about 2 hours; turn heat off and let stand for about 30 minutes. Spoon into dessert dishes while warm; serve with whipped cream or ice cream and top with chocolate chips.
Serves 6 to 8.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up: Dinner at Rye in Eugene

Last Friday night I drove down to Eugene for a visit with my parents.

First stop on Friday was dinner at Rye.

The inside is very inviting and intimate with tables, booths, and a huge bar with stools.  The restaurants has a very old world feel decorated in earthy colors and brown furniture and fabrics to match (I honestly felt like I was in the home of a Bavarian Chef).  Old recycled bottles are used for water bottles and adorn each table, and the restaurant is bathed in soft warm light.  A large rock fireplace is located at the entrance to the restaurant and faces the main dining room.  

Pop and I had the Pan-Seared Duck and it was fabulous!  The menu is quite eclectic, including Duck Poutine (French fries bathed in duck gravy).

They have a wonderfully complete wine list (which pairs nicely with the menu) and an incredible cocktail menu.  If you are looking for some interesting cocktails, this would be a great place to visit.

Our meal ended with offerings from the in-house Chocolatier and a cup of rich coffee.


On Saturday, we checked out the Coburg Pizza Company.

Pop, Rosemary and Steve

They have an incredible assortment of pizzas, calzones, salads and wings.  We tried the Parmesan Garlic, Thai Peanut and Sweet BBQ wings and a wonderful side salad.

Lots of good eating in Eugene/Springfield last weekend!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: October 22-25, 2012

Welcome Monday!  

It's that time of year again!  Are you ready for the fall classic?  Instead of grilled burgers or dogs, I am going to throw together a crock pot beef stew, which is perfect...it gives me more time to watch the game and less time in the kitchen!

Here is the rest of our menu for the week ahead.  Remember to check out Laura's site for menu planning ideas.


Tuesday: Golden Root Vegetable Gratin with Grilled Garlic Pork Loin and Leftover Salad
Wednesday: Classic Beef Stew (Game #1 of World Series)
Thursday: Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Acorn Squash

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Recipe of the Week: CROCKTOBER! Meatballs in Marinara

My sweetheart loves meatballs and craves those rich and vibrant Italian flavors regularly.

I searched high and low to find the perfect meatball recipe.  This recipe is all about the meatballs and NOT about the sauce, but the fact that it all cooks together for 8 hours makes this dish super rich and hearty.

These would be perfect in a meatball sub or on the top of a bed of fresh cooked pasta.


Meatballs in Marinara

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs (panko are the best)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1/4 cup milk

Remaining Ingredients
1 small onion, chopped
16 oz marinara sauce
1/4 cup red wine

Combine meat, breadcrumbs, spices, cheese, salt and pepper and milk in a large bowl and mix with your hands. Roll mixture into 1-1 1/2 inch balls.

Placed chopped onion in bottom of crockpot, then add meatballs.  Pour sauce and wine over the top, completely covering all meatballs.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Note:  If you are serving over pasta, add another 1/2 cup of sauce to the crockpot, one hour before serving.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy Blog Birthday!

Happy Birthday to our blog.  Today you are six years old!  It's hard to believe that to date, we've posted 1,352 entries!!

Thank you for sharing part of your day each and every day to check in to see the adventures that Brian and I experience and share.

Along the way, I've met (on-line) some incredible bloggers.  I've learned a lot about blogging, photography, web design and more than anything, the spirit of sharing our lives with those around the world.  For that I am extremely grateful.

Stepping back in time, I've linked a few of my favorite adventures for those of you who have not been with us since day one.  We certainly "get around"!


East Coast Swing - June 2007

Greenlake - May 2008

Maui, Day #5 my birthday in upcountry - April 2008

Napa - April 2009

North Carolina/Virginia - November 2009

Snoqualmie Falls - September 2010

Christmas Eve Brunch at Salty's - December 2011

One Day in Los Angeles - April 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bolt Bus

Many of you know that I am a regular Amtrak rider between Portland and Seattle, but recently the Amtrak prices have skyrocketed.

Meet the new kid on the block........the Bolt Bus.

BoltBus is a low-cost express bus services that runs between Portland and Vancouver, BC.  Service began in early June 2012.  It was designed to compete with Greyhound and has been operating in the Northeast with hubs in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore for many years.

View from my seat in front row

Advanced fares between Portland and Seattle start at $7 with a $1 transaction fee.  As seats sell out, they gradually become more expensive, topping out in the high teens (I paid $19 compared to a one way Amtrak ticket for as much as $56).

The BoltBus offers comfortable leather seats, extra legroom, free Wi-Fi and power outlets.  All are equipped with restrooms, but offer no other stops (bring a bottled water and a snack).

As of September, the BoltBus departs Portland for Seattle at 6:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.  Travel time is estimated at  3 hours and 15 minutes.  Southbound trips leave Seattle at 8:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. (check out their website for time to and from Vancouver, BC)

My ride was completely sold out.  Seats were comfortable, and the Wi-Fi worked fine (in fact much better than Amtrak).  We were on time, despite horrible driving conditions out of downtown Portland.

All in all...a good adventure and something that I may be taking more, unless Amtrak tickets prices stabilize.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Mid October!

In January, we re-started Weight Watchers and have been quite successful (we each lost 10+ pounds so far).  The problem is NOT falling off the wagon!  For each of us accountability is key.  When you plan your menu, you also plan your points and therefore can track your eating plan much better.

Here is our menu for the week ahead.

Check out Laura's organizing site HERE!


Monday: Mongolian Beef with Jasmine Rice
Tuesday: Herb Crusted Salmon with Cauliflower
Wednesday: Chicken with Warm Bean Salsa and A Big Garden Salad
Thursday: Mushroom and Sausage Ragu over Polenta with Leftover Salad

Friday, October 12, 2012

Old Photo Friday: Halloween!

WHO: My Mom (Jennifer) as Fairy Godmother (L) and other "room-moms"
WHAT: Pre-School/Kindergarten Halloween Party
WHERE: Wayside Chapel
WHEN: 1973-74

I believe this was a pre-school party at Wayside Chapel, my pre-school through Kindergarten.  I seem to recall some sort of "episode" with my mother's tiara.  If you notice closely, one side of the tiara is missing.  I think I broke it...playing with it, otherwise...it was a great party!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Crocktober! Salsa Chicken

It's week two of Crocktober!  It's time to dust off your crockpot and let it do the cooking for you.

I love Mexican food....crave it all the time and there are tons of great Mexican inspired crockpot meals out there.

This is great served along side a 1/2 cup of white rice and a garden salad or better yet, with some warm corn tortillas, sour cream and avocado.



Serves 4

6-9 chicken thighs (you could use 4 (6-8oz) chicken breasts instead) - frozen!
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup chunky salsa
Optional: Corn Tortillas, Sour Cream and diced Avocado, 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese

Put your chicken in the bottom of the crockpot.  Your chicken should still be frozen!
Top with beans, corn and salsa.  Cover and cook for 7-8 hours on high or 4-5 on low. If you are using breasts, increase your salsa by 1/2 cup as breasts tend to dry out.

Serve over brown or white rice or place mixture in corn tortillas (like tacos) with sour cream, avocado and shredded cheese.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up: Road Trip to Seattle

Chick and I drove up to Seattle last Friday night for a fall weekend adventure in Seattle.

Saturday, we headed to over to Molbak's in Woodinville, one of our favorite fall adventures.   The weather was absolutely gorgeous and quite warm for October (highs in mid 70's).  Open since 1956, Molbak's has a reputation for inspiring many a NW home and garden.

If you've never been to Molbak's before, I recommend planning a fall trip.  The place is decked out for all three holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas) and you can wander around for hours (plan on at least 90 minutes to see everything).  They also have a cute little cafe (with beer and wine).

We each came home with a few treasures (Sandra bought the heart-shaped planter above, Brian found a small square vase/planter with cardinals, just perfect for Christmas and I bought a green/yellow bracelet).

Thanks to Brian!  Our Designated Driver of the afternoon!

After Molbak's we checked out a couple of wineries just down the street.  Woodinville has become a core for NW wine making and wine discovery since 1976.  Our first stop was Matthews Estate.

Established in 1993, sitting on 8 acres in the heart of Woodinville, Matthews Estate specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon driven reds to Sauvignon Blanc and other whites.  We picked up a bottle of their Blackboard Red...a wonderful everyday red blend.

Our second stop was Patterson Cellars.

Since their first crush in 1984, Patterson Cellars has been producing wines with grapes from the Columbia Valley, Red Mountain and Lake Chelan area. We really enjoyed their Chardonnay (took a bottle of that home), knowledgeable and fun tasting room servers and location (they are in a cute little store front with another tasting room and a wood-fire oven pizza/pasta restaurant (Brian says we will return for pizza).

After Woodinville, Brian took us over to the Kirkland waterfront. The autumn sun shinning off Lake Washington was the highlight of our day.

Deep Fried Artichoke Hearts with Spicy Aioli Dipping Sauce

I found the most perfect spot for an afternoon snack and cocktails, The Beach House Bar and Grill.

We found a table right on the water with gorgeous views of Lake Washington and downtown Seattle.

It was a wonderful weekend and great fun was had by all.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: October 8-11

Welcome to Monday!

Nothing says fall like a classic pot roast, so I am throwing one in the oven on Sunday.  Leftover pot roast makes an amazing meat pie two nights later!

What are you throwing together this week?

Don't forget to visit Laura's site for more great Menu Planning ideas!


Sunday: Classic Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables and Cole Slaw
Monday: BBQ Chicken Thighs with a Big Garden Salad
Tuesday: Classic Meat Pie with left over Garden Salad
Wednesday: Tilapia Veracruz with Jasmine Rice
Thursday: Grilled Pork Chops with Baked Sweet Potato

Friday, October 5, 2012

Old Photo Friday: Happy Birthday, Marie and Don

WHO: Donald Young Brady and Etta Marie (Volgamore) Brady
WHAT: Family Trip
WHERE: Unsure, possibly Crater Lake
WHEN: 1947-49

Both my paternal grandparents were born on the same day, October 6th!  Tomorrow would have been my grandpa, Don's 98th and my grandma, Marie's 90th.

Pop, you will have to help me out on where this photo was taken.  Could it be Crater Lake?

After looking at this picture closer, it looks more like the Oregon Coast.  Not deep enough and too close to be Crater Lake.

Pop later confirms probably Florence, OR area. 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Recipe of the Week: CROCKTOBER! Orange Beef

Welcome to Crocktober!  This month I'll be posting some wonderful crockpot meals.

I love my crockpots (I have one in Portland and one in Seattle) and especially love the idea that dinner is ready and waiting for me when I get home (and clean up is super easy).

A big hint here....prep the night before and search for recipes that take 7-8 hours (or longer) to cook on low heat.  This way, right before you walk out the door you can dump all the contents in the crockpot and turn it on and dinner is ready for you when you get home!

Another hint....many of these recipes can be prepared and placed in large freezer bags and kept in your freezer for use later.  



Serves 4
1 1/2 pounds round steak, sliced
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground Chinese 5 spice
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
6 green onions, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 heads bok choy, cut into 2-4 wedges


Place the beef, soy sauce, spice, honey and OJ in a plastic bag and marinate over night.

In the morning, dump the beef mixture in a 4 qt crockpot and add the vegetables on top.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 until meat is fully cooked and tender.

Serve over white or brown rice

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Love My Ducks!

Last Saturday, the Oregon Ducks played the Washington State Cougars in Seattle at Centurylink Field.  Given that Autzen stadium in Eugene is almost always sold out, it was a great opportunity to see my ducks.

We bought cheap nose-bleed seats in the 300 level and although the view of the city was fabulous, the action on the field was miles away.

The game started at 7:30 and by halftime, the north wind picked up and it was time to take the water taxi back to West Seattle and watch the second half on the couch!

View from our seats
It was a great victory for the Ducks, with a raucous crowd (it was the annual home game in Seattle for Washington State) with 60,000+ in attendance (many of them ducks)!

One last shot before heading home (it was chilly).  We wished these were our seats!