Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend Adventures

Ridiculous adventures this weekend as my parents and sister and her boyfriend visited us in Mountain View.  Ashley and Scott came up from Los Angeles late Friday night, and stopped only for some quick pho before crashing at our apartment -- a long drive!

The next morning, Mom and Dad arrived early and called us for breakfast.  Will was already up having risen early for meditation.  We ate at Oregano's Woodfire Pizza, which amazingly began serving breakfast recently.  A good find in an area without many breakfast options.  Mom and Dad and Will all had breakfast burrito's.  I had chocolate pancakes -- Yay!

Then back to the house to pick up Ash and Scott, and we were off to Napa before 9:30 AM.  Arrived at Viansa , where Anna and Nathan got married, and enjoyed the beauty of the place even through the 11:00 fog.  After tasting a few wines, Dad picked up a 2005 Ossidiana, with a great smell because of its exceptionally long aging in oak casks.  You could really smell it.



We were done with Viansa much earlier than expected and no one was hungry for the picnic lunch that I had planned there.  We moved on to the Sonoma town square where a "Wine and Jazz" event was in full swing.  After some time meandering through the boutique shops, we found a Himalayan restaurant with a live jazz band playing in front.

Then more strolling through the square (including a stop for ice cream and another to pick up a necklace for Gina) and we were off again, headed for Sterling Vineyards.  Signature attraction is the air tram that takes visitors from the ticket booth up to the winery.  Sterling served white wines as we moved through the exhibits explaining the wine making process, and which culminated in a beautiful terrace with great views and more ... white wine.  Then into the tasting room where we sampled red wines and the dessert wine, including a Malvasia Bianca, which was our favorite.

Then back on the tram to our cars, and we headed for dinner.  Auberge du Soleil has a fantastic restaurant that sits on a terrace overlooking the vineyards in the valley.  We sat and watched the sun set.  When it got too windy and people started getting cold, they brought out lovely pashminas to keep us warm.

The next day we drove back to Mountain View and set up for Gina and Lauren's birthday party.  We grilled burgers, hung out, and talked about Arnar and Solveig's beautiful kids.  Best of all was the pink and rainbow unicorn pinata that Gina brought.  Arnar and Solveig's kids got a chance to hit at it, and so did I, but Gina beheaded it in one mighty blow.

It was a great party.  We were pretty tired at this point, but Mom, Ash, and Scottie still had the energy to go to Santa Clara for a professional women's soccer game.  Mom got to see Marta Vieira da Silva, her soccer idol, whom Mom says is the best woman soccer player in the world.

Meanwhile, Dad and I both took a nap, while Will played Wii Cheer with Gina, Vishal, Vivian, and Anthony. The game was on the Wii and was Gina's new birthday present.  Hopefully we'll get some videos up at some point  :)

Then we closed the day with ... Go Kart racing!  We were all pretty tired, but immediately perked up when we saw the go-carts.  Whizzing around the track was great fun, and Albert scored in the 99.77th percentile of all racers ever at the Go Kart place.

Today we went to Joanie's for breakfast, had a quick tour of Stanford to show Scottie, and said good bye.  What an amazing time!  It was such a treat to have a birthday party with Mom, Dad, Ash, Scottie, Will, and Gina all there.  I only wish Grammy, Grampa, Kung Kung, and Shirley could have been there as well.  Hopefully another draft of this post will go out, with pictures this time!

Hurray!

Love, Lauren

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pot Roast, Artichokes

Busted out the old crock-pot and made a pot roast with "Italian seasoning," which apparently means garlic and tomatoes.  Bill and Albert joined us for a Strongbadia reunion of sorts...

Unlike other crock-pot recipes we've tried, this one didn't give detailed instructions about the order of ingredients.  Unfortunately, the potatoes ended up a little undercooked as a result, though the meat was cooked well and very tasty.  Lauren's lovely steamed artichokes saved the meal and earned us the thumbs-up.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Turkey patties, cranberry sauce, green salad

Secret is instant mashed potato flakes coating the outside of the patties before you cook them:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Surprise pasta dinner (cousin Sam edition)

Sam and I were going to have some late-night pho or ramen after seeing Star Trek last night, but when we popped home to see if Lauren wanted to join, it turned out she'd been cooking enough pasta for all of us and invited us to have some.  Delicious pasta with sausage, mushrooms, zuchinni, and some sherry.

Lauren made the recipe up with what was on hand, which always amazes me.  She acknowledges her debt to Uncle Chuck, for showing just how important sherry is in a pasta sauce.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grammy's Quilt for Soren

When Grammy said that she wanted to send something to Soren, I knew it was going to be special. When we opened up the box, Will and Albert and I could hardly believe our eyes. She had made an Activity Quilt, colorful animals to teach Soren motor skills such as doing buttons and tying ribbon and zipping:


Gram had made such a quilt in book form for Ashley and I, but I noticed that some of the pieces were new, especially the bear holding the balloons with Soren's name and birthday:

also the mini-version of my beloved Pop-Pop and Pop-Pop's Babies, shown here with the original Pop-Pop (try not to be too grossed out -- Pop-Pop is older than I am and much loved):


Finally I noticed that Gram had put little messages of her love for the new baby in details such as the tongue of the crocodile, hidden unless you zip open the mouth:


It is such a beautiful, loving, and creative piece. I know Gram did this all by hand and can't get over how wonderful it is.