Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

This year was a very busy Christmas for Joel and I. Our holiday weekend started off right, by meeting up with Anna and Robert to watch the Huskies play in the MAACO Bowl. On our way home from Puyllaup, we finished up the last of our shopping, before heading home to open to our own gifts we got for each other.

Sunday we drove up to Snohomish to spend the day with Joel's parents and his sister's family. Judy made us a delicious dinner complete with a roast grilled on the BBQ. It was so good. Everyone gave really thoughtful gifts and they each liked what Joel and I had picked out for them. It was a wonderful afternoon, spent catching up with what everyone has been up to and enjoying each others company. After a quick stop at the Utt's house to help Connor set up his new XBox Live account, we headed north to Whatcom County for Christmas activities with my family.

Joel loves the new cold weather biking gloves his mom gave him.
I'm so excited to wear my new Husky coat to next football game.

On our way to my parent's house, we stopped at Amy and Mark's house. We don't get to see each other as often as we would like, since they live in Ferndale. Amy and Mark were the perfect hosts with lots of holiday drinks and fun. We played Quelf, a board game that is similar to Cranium, but I had never heard of before. It was really fun and made us do strange things. Joel danced like a ballerina, Amy sat around with a box under her shirt, Mark kept repeating "Hear me, for I have spoken" after each sentence, and for a while I had a dirt bike helmet on. We were having so much fun, we ended up staying the night at their house.

Joel and Mark in the middle of a leap frog game
It isn't every day that I wear a dirt bike helmet!
The kitty just loved Joel!
Amy with a wine glass on her head and a box in her belly...
Mark, having a good time!
In the morning, I visited with their ducks.
Amy's Golden Oats
After a quick breakfast of Golden Oats that Amy whipped up for us, Joel and I were off to my parents house for some Hudson Holiday Fun. Mom had the kitchen in a frenzy when we arrived; she was making so many yummy treats. I tried to stay out of there as my waist line was already growing due to the holidays and it didn't need any extra help. Jaisha and Steve stopped by with my adorable little nephew so we could exchange gifts. We had a lot of fun watching Kaleb open his gifts and play with his new toys.

Joel napped on the couch for most of the morning.
My Nephew - Kaleb!
Playing his new new truck from Grandma and Grandpa.
Reading the directions for his new blocks from Jackie and Chris.
Opening his gift from Joel and me.
Joel decided to help Kaleb get started.
He is just so stinking cute!
Getting some snuggles from Grandma
Before we knew it, it was time to head over to Aunt Pat and Uncle Gordy's house for the annual James Family Christmas Gathering. Lucky for us, they live only a mile down the road, so it is a short drive from my parent's house. I always seem to forget how many of us there are, until we are all in the same house together. The usual holiday traditions took place; the little kids exchanged gifts, the ladies had a white elephant gift exchange and the men played blackjack. There was so much food, tasty desserts, and drinks that I stuffed myself silly. I promised myself with each bite that I would get back on my weight lost plan the very next day; right!

The future Mr. and Mrs. Kanda - Leann is engaged to Sean!
Uncle Gordy photo bombed Jaisha and Kaleb
Jackie, Mom, Tonna and Riley are ready to open gifts.
Joel thinks they are all for him! Poor Guy, they are for the kids!
Maddy and Moriah
Aunt Karen and Leann
All the James Family Ladies!
(... well almost, a few weren't able to make it - I told you there were a lot of us!)
All the guys like to play blackjack and most years I shuffle the cards for them.
Joel and I spent the night at my parent's house and woke up to the smells of the breakfast that my dad makes every year; cream of egg soup. It sounds strange, but it is so good! I like to break up my scrapple (an east coast thing) and mix it into my soup. This year dad cooked up a whole package of bacon just for Joel. After breakfast we lounged around watching movies and eating more food. About ten minutes into Home Alone, it started to snow! It was a white Christmas after all! In the late afternoon, Joel and I packed up our bags, gathered up our leftovers, and headed for home.

Christmas always seems to pass by us so quickly and before we know it, we are back at work. It won't be long and we will be celebrating the new year and taking down the decorations!

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Husky Football - MAACO Bowl

Anna and Robert invited us to watch the UW Husky's take on Boise State in the MAACO Bowl. We decided to meet up at the The Loose Wheel - Bar and Grill in Puyallup near Anna and Robert's house. When Joel and I arrived, Anna had a bloody mary waiting for me, she is just the best!

A very tasty start to my morning!
We decided to order some breakfast from the extensive menu to get us ready for the game. I ordered the Breakfast Sandwich in anticipation of helping Joel finish his order, The Lineman. The Lineman is a GIANT 20-ounce biscuit topped with 24 ounces of delicious sausage gravy and is served with three eggs and a huge pile of home-fried potatoes. I figured I better order something small, just in case Joel needed some help with his breakfast.

My breakfast sandwich with Joel's monster meal - he nearly ate it all!
I was very impressed with Joel's accomplishment of finishing off his breakfast with minor assistance from me. The Loose Wheel turned out to be a pretty good pick for a location to watch the Husky game. The food was pretty good, lots of Husky fans made the atmosphere fun, and lots of beers on tap to pick from. We might have to come back to watch the Husky's while they are on the road.

Even though the Huskies lost the game (28-26), it was a fun game to watch. UW rallied from an 18-3 deficit but gave up a late field goal and Keith Price threw a bad interception in the final minutes of the game. It was a heartbreaking end to their season, but we know next year, with Joel and I cheering them on, they will have a killer year (fingers crossed!).

Me, Anna, Jeremy, Robert, and Joel - Cheering on the Dawgs!
At half-time and at the end of the game, the bar had a raffle for great prizes including a trip to Mexico and Hawaii.
All we won was this shirt, hat and Frisbee, but I was excited - I never win raffles.
The waitress brought me a WSU glass with my beer order, so we had to fix it.
This was the first time in a couple years that Anna and I have been able to see each other and exchange our gifts so close to Christmas, so it was the perfect start to our Christmas weekend.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Masala of India - Restaurant Review

We wanted take Julie out to dinner to celebrate her recent accomplishment of passing the written national exam, which  means she is officially a Certified Nursing Assistant now! For those who haven't had a CNA-in-training in their house, a CNA is the person who takes your vitals before you meet with your doctor and is responsible for many other tasks at a doctors office. Julie has been in school for two years getting the degree and now that she has passed the national exam, she can start to put her skills to work. The crazy part of this story is that Julie passed the exam on the two year anniversary of moving in with Joel and I to start this journey! It was a very big day in the Odellson house!

She decided on Indian food, and I knew the perfect place; Masala of India. The first time I ever tried Indian food was in this very restaurant over in the Northgate neighborhood. If you have never tried Indian food, you are missing out and should give it a try!

Cheers to Julie!
We started with delicious garlic nan and vegetable samosas. Samosas are savory pastries with a potato and vegetable filling, and is served with yummy dipping sauces. We nibbled on this delicious little bites while we waited for our main course to arrive.

Garlic Naan - Naan garnished with fresh garlic and butter
Three Vegetable Samosas and the accompanying dipping sauces
Joel ordered the  Chicken Tikka Masala, one of his favorite Indian dishes; pieces of chicken, barbecued in the Tandoori oven then cooked in a sauce of tomato and onion. He said his dish was very good. I decided to order the Chicken Korma which is chicken cooked a creamy sauce with nuts. Julie settled on the Chicken Goa Curry which is a specialty from Goa featuring chicken simmered with coconut in a spicy curry sauce. Each dishes are served with rice and was amazing!

Chicken Korma
Chicken Tikka Masala
With delicious food and the welcoming atmosphere of the restaurant and servers, I have always enjoyed my meals at Masala of India. This is definitely a favorite at the Odellson's house - especially since they have a Bothell location!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Date Night - Peso's and The Nutcracker

As a season ticket holder to the Pacific Northwest Ballet, I receive emails about their various performances and their special events. One day I saw a special come through for their annual Nutcracker performance, that I just could not pass up. So last night Joel and I found ourselves at the ballet.

We started the night by eating dinner at Peso's Kitchen and Lounge in Queen Anne. This restaurant is a very special place for Joel and I because it was here that we finally fell head over heels in love! For those of you not familiar with our story, we first met through mutual friends back when we were both students at Western Washington University. My outgoing personality was a bit too much for a very introverted Joel, so we didn't hit it off when we first met. In fact Joel said he didn't want to ever hang out with me again, I was just too much. Oops. We met again a year later when Joel had graduated from WWU and moved down to Redmond for his job with Microsoft. I was still at WWU but had traveled down to see friends race in the Saint Patrick Day 5K in Seattle; I just didn't know this group included Joel. We all decided to go out to dinner the night before race, so we gathered at Alek's apartment. When Joel walked into the room, we were smitten! We ate dinner that night at Peso's with our friends and it was the start of our wonderful journey.

You will know you're at Peso's when you see the unique entry door!
So it was very romantic to find ourselves back at Peso's on a little date night of dinner and the ballet in celebration of the Christmas season. We were served chips and salsa upon our arrival and I decided to order the rustic house made guacamole, a personal favorite. I love that Joel hates avocados, because it means I don't have to share. He doesn't mind when I order guacamole, because it means more salsa for him! I decided to treat myself to a Sage and Cucumber Margartia, sauza blue reposado infused with cucumber, cointreau and fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice and shaken with sage. It was very good; light and refreshing.

All you can eat chips and salsa
Amazing Guacamole
My Sage and Cucumber Margarita
It is hard for me to pick what to eat at Peso's as everything is so good, but I was finally able to decide on the traditional carnitas taco tradicional and Joel ordered the enchiladas with red chili sauce. Both meals were very good and we finished every bite!

My Traditional Carnitas Tacos
Joel's Red Chili Sauce Enchiladas
After finishing up our meal, we walked over to McCaw Hall where we wandered around the different displays of costumes and the gift shop before heading to our seats. We were four rows back from the stage, just to the right side. I have never been so close to a performance and was very excited for the show to start.

2012 Program Cover
The Nutcracker! I really wanted a photo with him, but Joel wouldn't do it!
The beautiful stage design!
Joel and I - ready for the show!
I always read the programs for the ballet and I'm so glad I didn't miss reading this program. I learned the stage design was done by Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are. It gave a whole new look to the stage design and I actually spied a Wild Thing in one of the scenes! As always, I loved the performance and can't wait to go again! Joel enjoyed having seats so close to the stage. So it was a perfect evening.

Christmas is nearly here!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Sunday Full of Holiday Cheer

Our Sunday was filled to the brim with holiday cheer. We started the day by attending the candle light service at Jack and Judy's church. Judy plays the violin in her church choir so we went to watch her play. We went to the service along with Joel's sister Julia, her husband Kendall, and her two wonderful kids Makenzie and Connor. After the service we went to eat at Hunan Palace, in Everett. We have eaten here several times as a family, as it is one of Jack's favorite restaurants. The food pretty good and the service is always excellent.

Joel, Me, Judy, Connor, Jack, Makenzie, Julia, and Kendall
After our meal, Joel and I headed up to Jackie and Chris's house in Marysville for some holiday fun. We brought over a few gifts to exchange with each other. Jackie and I had planned in advance to give Chris and Joel remote control helicopters for Christmas. Chris had received one previously, but Joel proceeded to break it, his first time flying Chris's helicopter. The boys were so excited to each have their own helicopters and the ability to fly them at the same time. They spend the rest of of the night, trying out their flying skills. Julie, Jackie and I spent the evening being terrorized by tiny helicopters.

Everyone had fun opening their gifts.
Joel and Chris got matching Wolf Pack shirts!
Joel and I love our new Husky sweatshirts! Thanks Jackie & Chris!
...and Julie for the bunny ears.
Chris and Joel love their new helicopters.
I thought it would be fun to have a hot chocolate bar and so I brought the ingredients to make hot chocolate from scratch. I have never made my own hot chocolate, but now that I have, I will make sure to make it a holiday tradition - it was so good! I found the recipe online and it was very easy to make!

First I gathered all the ingredients.
The first step is to combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan.
Next, blend in boiling water and bring this mixture to a easy boil while stirring.
After two minutes at an easy boil, stir in the milk. Heat this until it is very hot, at a near boil.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
After dividing the hot chocolate into mugs, add cream to cool it to drinking temperature.
All our yummy topping options!
Julie's cup of hot chocolate, all ready to drink!
My cup of hot chocolate - so good but so bad!
Joel was loving his hot chocolate!
I was so excited to get home and try out my new lamp on my entry table!
Christmas Duck approved!
 Days like today are why I love the Christmas season!