Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Greetings from the West Coast!!!

We have had a ball in Reno! Lots of casino action - nice dealers and neat casino's.

A little chilly walking around, but love that neon and lights.

Who said Vegas is the only place to go?

Lots of glitz and glitter in Reno also. Maybe not as much, but we enjoyed the people and the hospitality more than Vegas.

Neat "silver mine" in the Silver Legacy.

This working structure was about 5 stories tall - housed in a dome that looked like the sky...

Gambling had to come to an end because we needed to go get the kiddo's in San Francisco this morning. Highlights of the gambling - great because we came home with just a little MORE money this time than we took.

We were concerned with the drive back to San Fran - they had a large amount of snow the night before over "Donner Pass". We actually went to the auto parts store and bought chains so that we could legally drive over the pass. We didn't have to put the chains on - the road was actually quite clear with the exception of the 4' of snow on the sides of the road.

On the Nevada side of Donner Pass, the terrain is very arid - no real grass or trees to speak of. Pretty though.

As you go over the actual peak, the trees start to appear.

We took a detour on the way back to San Francisco this morning to see Lake Tahoe....just across the California line. How beautiful!!

As we got closer to the coast, the sky brightened a bit.

Lots of snow and interesting scenery.

Close to San Fran - the Bay Bridge.....

Our condo is in downtown San Fran - more on that later!! Happy New Year (not yet here since we're 3 hours behind!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We're on the West Coast!

I finally found an internet connection. We're in Reno now - having a great time.

Our flights were good - first class tickets to San Fransisco (courtesy Duane's Frequent Flyer miles left over from his trips to Asia). I, of course, am thrilled by the luxury. We were served a couple of very nice little snacks. Here is the lunch time meal - just a sandwich and other goodies. Real plates and silverware is neat while you're trapped on the airplane. Flights were smooth and no troubles other than a few minor delays.

Once we got out over the western plains, the terrain started to change considerably. The recent snowfall was in evidence.

Cool canyons and lakes visible in the arid land.

As we got closer to San Fransisco, we started to see bits of green on the mountains - but it really didn't look like trees.

This is the view approaching San Fransisco.

Taxiing in at the SFO airport....just thought these tanks were cute. Guess if you had just landed and didn't know what airport you were at, these would clue you in!!

We picked up our rental minivan with no problems - had to hop on a shuttle train to get to the garage. All very smooth - nicely designed airport. That's all for now! More when we get back to San Fransisco to meet the kids on Thursday. (Assuming we're not trapped in Reno by a blizzard up on Donner Pass - Interstate 80)

Friday, December 25, 2009

African Cichlid Fish Fight!

Robert got me a couple of extra fish for Christmas. I tried to introduce the new fish to the tank....didn't work out to well! Here are two "Yellow-Labs" - not getting along too well!! They will do this for hours!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Grill

Finally finished with Christmas preparation.....nice just to settle in for the next day with no worries! Then, it's off to San Fransisco on Saturday!!

Yesterday, we got a new grill - I know, it's a slow news day in Pittsboro!

I had gone out ahead of time Sunday to test the grill - since we hadn't used it lately. We were planning to serve grilled steaks for our Monday family gathering. I opened the grill to light it - and was SHOCKED to see a huge hole rusted all the way thru the back of the grill...

So, searching on Craigslist - we found one just a few miles away. This one is all stainless so hopefully won't rust out as quickly.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Gathering!

Wow, another year, almost over! Time really does accelerate as you get older!

It was our "turn" to host my side of the family for the Christmas get-together. Monday was the only day that all of the 14 "locals" could come to Pittsboro. It was a short visit - most everyone had about a 4 hr drive. Good company and good fun though!

Eddie chopping the shallots, making the Bearnaise sauce for the filet mignon....Mom is marinating the tuna steaks...

Nephew Eddie in on a short leave from Ft. Campbell, KY. All grown up - the curly haired little boy....

Much pool was played - Trudi and Frank - I don't know who won! Doesn't matter, I'm sure.

The dinner was wonderful! We arranged the basement to accommodate all 14 of us - very nice to have everyone at the same looooongg table!

Drawing numbers for the "Grinch Exchange". Everyone brought a generic gift. The rulles allow you to "steal" a gift that you like from anyone in the room based on the number you draw. Wanna know what the most "stolen" gift was ?? A vacuum cleaner!! Apparently a popular item to be used in a DORM ROOM - go figure! Miranda was the victor!

Over too quickly - everyone had to buzz out this morning for other locales! A quick breakfast of left-over ham and fresh buttermilk biscuits and they were all on there way. A very good visit.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Dishwasher!

Such excitement!! I finally decided that my 15 yr old dishwasher needed replacement. You know these things months in just had washed 5000 too many dishes.

The "before" shot:

Nice new Bosch dishwasher. So far, so good! Not a speck left on a dish. Should be a little easier to keep clean also with the flat front. The controls are on the top of the door and are hidden when you close the door.

Pretty shiny interior - a big change from the rusty, stained interior of my old one (notice there was no "before" shot of that - too embarrassing!!)

I know the mountains got lots of snow - we missed it for the most part. There was a dusting yesterday - soon gone. Pretty while it was falling, though!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Making Sushi or California Rolls

Fun to learn something a little bit different!

When I go to NC State to visit Robert (or to take him something, as usually the case)...we often visit one of his favorite little hole-in-the-wall restaurants Akari Express off Western Blvd in Mission I'm being nostalgic for my NCSU days of long ago....


He and I both love sushi rolls. Robert has a friend at State that taught him to make the rolls - here he is - making them for my party a couple of days ago!

Start with the right "sticky rice".

Obviously, Robert doesn't want his photo taken....

Take the Nori (seaweed sheets) and lie flat on foil.

Cook the rice per the directions. Robert adds rice vinegar to give it a nice flavor.

Slice cream cheese into long pieces.

Spoon the rice onto the really is sticky!!!

"Work" the rice until it's flat - leaving some space at the "top"

Start placing your "filling" about an inch or so from the "bottom". You can be creative - what ever combinations you like. Cream cheese, avocado, carrots, cucumber, fish, crab meat....

Just layer whatever you want as the "center" of the roll here.

Robert sliced nice raw tuna for some of the rolls...

This one is ready to roll up tight.

Start at the "bottom".... squeeze it gently and roll.

Peel the foil back and repeat. The idea is to keep the roll tight - no air spaces left. Fold the extra foil to keep it out of the way. Remember, keep the roll tight!!! Squeeze it - it won't hurt!!

Keep rolling....

The finished roll - the last little bit of exposed Nori will seal the "log" .

Wrap the logs in the foil and put in the refrigerator to chill thru. This makes them easier to slice.

Ready for slicing - nice and firm.

Isn't that pretty? The end usually is ugly and gets eaten on the spot!!

Add some wasabi paste, pickled ginger and soy sauce.....YUM!!!