Monday, January 12, 2009


Think two people and not “Star Trek,” not that there’s anything wrong with “Star Trek,”  The movie “Trekkies” had me laughing so hard…I digress….A and I threw and engagement party for our friend H and her fiancee M.  They are getting married in February and this would be a low-key way for everyone to meet H’s M.  What started out as a Costco run ended up being enough food to feed 100+. 

Turns out I am more of my mother that I realize.  We had food, more food, and even more food as guests also brought some.  It was nice however, that there was a good variety of things for everyone.  Some of our friends have special dietary needs and we had plenty for them as well.

The night was a hit!  We had a little jazz in the background playing.  This was actually the mixed playlist E had put together for our engagement party 3+ years ago in Albuquerque.  Funny how things work out.

Food and drink were flowing and people mingled and visited.  Even the kids had a great time – all thanks to the Wii.  A brought her controllers over and between the two of us and a Mario Kart game, we were able to keep them all entertained.  One of the parents even said that the kids loved the layout since they could run circles around the house from the living, to the dining, to the kitchen and back again.  I was glad the kids didn’t die of boredom at the party.

You know how your greatest fear is that someone will come to the party in your dress….well it was the reverse.  Someone came who was wearing the same sweater as E.  It was too funny!   They kept saying if only you’d phoned ahead, I would have changed. 

I forgot how much I enjoy having people over.  Now that we actually have a space to do it, I think we’ll have a nice spring and/or summer BBQ.  Can’t wait for spring.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Top Chef Alert

Ok fellow TCers....It's been 2 weeks but it seems a lot longer since saw our favorite chefs cooking. Last episode was a "touchy feely" one where the judged pretended to have some "Christmas spirit" and didn't tell anyone to pack it up. This week times running out for 2 unlucky ones.

I have to say now that it's been a few months into the show, I am surprised by my lack of any sorta of "I can't stand this personistis." Although they all seem like competent cooks, this season lacks any of the spice (ok - yes bad pun) of prior seasons. Where's the guy with the hat from last season (who opened a restaurant and D.C. and has already been given bad press -- shocker). You know, the inspiration for the "Culinary B****r" T-shirt. Although he was annoying, he kept the show interesting. Then there was Stephanie, last season's winner. Every one's favorite -- and she had the votes too! You had a someone you could root for. The women this season just don't seem as strong or as interesting. The men seem rather blah. Maybe it's the editing and that they just aren't capturing anything as interesting. Perhaps it's just that I had too high a hopes. Then again, it's reality TV. Guess it's just what's "real."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Some X-Mas Cheer

Christmas in New Mexico was a great time. My family is small. To give you an idea of size, I have a total of 6 cousins (on both sides) and a few aunts and uncles and a grandmother. E on the other hand has a huge family. We arrived in Albuquerque on Christmas Eve, being lucky enough to fly out between the 2 big storms of the week. It was luck that I bought the tickets to fly out of our local airport versus driving several hours down the Gorge, as it was closed by the bad weather for days leading up to the holiday.

We landed (and miraculously we were on time...), picked up our rental car, and headed down to E's father's farm. We stopped, of course, at Blake's Lotaburger on the way down. It's a NM tradition. Green chili burgers. When E and I first started dating, I was schooled in the art of red vs green or even "christmas" - a mix of the two. Green is usually a little more mild, but you always have to ask.

Christmas Eve was wonderful. All of E's siblings and their families, including a bit of extended family, made it down to the farm. We ate dinner, which included favorites like green chili stew and biscochitos and not so favorites like menudo. I knew menudo as a 80's boy band. Turns out it's also a soup made with tripe. Both are pretty awful. We rounded out the evening opening presents from family and having birthday cake for the multitude of family birthdays in December (there are 7 out of the 16 of the immediate kids and spouses).

We got up early on Christmas morning and attended early service at a Church in the Albuquerque area. By the time we got back, it was time to start making breakfast. We had 24+ people at my brother in law and sister in law's house (where we were staying) for breakfast. It was a great time. Christmas morning was for opening gifts from Santa (and Ivanhoe the dog). Here's a snapshot of breakfast on Christmas morning:

By the time we'd just settled out breakfast, it was time for dinner. We ate up at my sister-in-law's parents house. They've got a beautiful house up next to the Sandia mountains. They've got a wonderful view from their roof, which we've seen some great sunsets as well as Fourth of July fireworks.

Dinner was filet mignon, smoked ham, mashed potatoes (with real cream and cheese), rolls, and green beans. Very good. Again, there were a lot of us -- almost 50 or so -- so we were spread out across many tables. It was nice to visit with folks that E and I hadn't seen in awhile. All of E's sibs as well as my sister in law's sibs and their families were there. It was mayhem -- but in a great way!

E and I headed up to Santa Fe for the weekend for a little get away. We stayed at El Farolito B&B. We'd stayed there last year for several days and it was quite nice. The innkeeper stocked the kiva with fresh firewood and we had a fire that night. We needed the warmth, as it was REALLY cold (2F) overnight as well as the days we were there. It didn't climb much out of the teens.

We saw the usual haunts (The Plaza, The Chapel, etc) and did some window shopping. We ate lunch at the Blue Corn Cafe. It was a return trip for us, as we'd had some tasty lunches there in the past. I had the carne adovada, which was a step up in the heat dept (cooked in red chili -- so no serving on the side). It was fantastic. E had his usual green chili burger. Their homemade root beer was also quite good. We ate dinner at another old haunt -- El Meson. It's a tapas place and it was worth it. Last time we had the made to order paella in lieu of the tapas. It was very memorable, but this time we thought we'd do tapas. Very yummy and makes me long for better restaurants here in Eastern WA. Reminds me of all the fantastic places in D.C. (like Jaleo) where we used to get good tapas.

Here are a few snaps from the train:

Since we'd been up there before and done all the museums (G. O'Keefe, Palace of the Governors, Folk Art, etc), we decided to take the scenic Santa Fe RR tour. We tried to do this in a prior visit, but the train ended up out in a movie shoot. We were in luck. The train ran on the Sunday after Christmas, but since the Rail Runner (commuter rail between Santa Fe and points south) just opened up the final leg to Santa Fe that weekend, the trail station was a mad house. Our train was 30 min late and despite buying "silver passes" (aka more money for "better seats), they just let everyone board en mass and we ended up being crowded into the dome car. It was like a little hot box. E joked the carpet and vent system were vintage too (car was supposed to be from the 20s). We enjoyed the ride down to Lamy and took lots of pictures, but on the way back we ended up sitting on the tracked for almost an additional hour (waiting for the commuter trains to pass). We got the feeling the train must have started making a habit of this, as we found a "message" etched in the snow that was meant specifically for the railroad. It said "f*** the rr." Unfortunately, the children on the train could read it too and it was repeated out loud for all to hear. Not cool.

After our Santa Fe weekend, we headed down to the farm. My mother-in-law went to CA to visit her kids and the siblings/spouses were taking turns staying down at the farm with my father-in-law. We spent the next few days there, with a final sojourn up to Albuquerque for an afternoon touring the Albuquerque Nat History Museum (getting a personal tour from my brother in law), dinner at the aquarium cafe, and a stroll through the lights at the botanical garden.

We wrapped out our last day with a final swing through Old Town in Albuquerque as well as a trip to the Zoo. It was a nice day (almost 40F) and we enjoyed the walking and the animals. We spent our last night having dinner with family and visiting.

We were really sad to go and are already planning our return.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Mexico Christmas

Hello Dear Readers:

My wife and I went to New Mexico this Christmas to spend time with my family. When we left on Christmas Eve, we had about a foot of accumulated snow in our little town. When we came back on New Year's Eve, the snow was completely gone. It was quite odd. It seemed like a giant toggle switch was flipped in the sky and snow was gone - poof!

Well, it was no illusion. The day I had to return to work, it snowed a couple of inches while we slept and it made the roads slick and slippery once again. I had to look up to the sky and ask, "is this a sign?"

As you can see by the attached picture of the Church of San Felipe de Neri in Old Town Albuquerque, the weather was beautiful. I am always amazed by how blue the skies are in New Mexico in the winter. When we arrived at the Abq International Airport, it was a comparatively balmy 40 degrees! Trust me folks, when we were experiencing all the snow and highs in the mid teens and twenties, forty is a warm number.

If you consider a trip to the "Duke City" here are some highlights everyone should see in no particular order:

The world's longest Tram--it goes from the base of the Sandia Mountains to the top of the Sandias (altitude over 10,000 ft)!

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

The Albuquerque Museum.

Old Town Albuquerque and the Church of San Felipe de Neri (founded 1706)

The Albuquerque Biopark and Aquarium.

And of course, there are so many gastronomic delights, I cannot label them all!

Now while you are there, take a 45 minute drive north to Santa Fe. Be prepared for COLD! Santa Fe is 2000 feet higher than Albuquerque at 7000 feet. Getting there is worth the trip and it is easy to get to the Old Central Plaza and the Basilica of St. Francis. Unfortunately, it tends to overshadow the smaller but no less magnificent Loretto Chapel. It has a mysterious spiral staircase which still baffles engineers to this day.

As you can see by the report, R and I did not want to come back home. But alas, we did and we are sure to return hopefully soon.

E out