Thursday, December 04, 2014

It's That Time of Year...

Back again,
Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We certainly did. We had a Friendsgiving, with Mr and Mrs B and some other friends of theirs from Santa Fe.



These are some of the best shots from our Thanksgiving feast. Mr B is making a brussel sprout and bacon salad with pomegranate seeds as one of our sides.
By the by, did I mention that we had close to five star chefs as our hosts?
We're spoiled. Yes. We know it.

Of course, the hostess and I had to do our sorority girl shots. We matched in leggings!




I wanted a kitchen shot and said the words, "Act normal."
Apparently this is what normal is...hehe


But now onto the food, right?

First up, a sweet potato casserole with crunchy topping and marshmallow stripes, pre melt phase. I didn't get a shot of our casserole after the browning of the marshmallows. Oops.


The main course, and probably typical in most households, the turkey.
Which was brined and then smoked.
Which was also really good.


Next, the famous potato rolls and a side salad.
Delish!


And lastly, before the dessert, we brought out some French cheeses for all to enjoy.

Clockwise from right: Saint Augur, Morbier, Chevre, Brie, and Comté

We also brought my great-grandmother's pumpkin pie. It's really yummy, and that's saying something. I usually prefer a pecan pie. But the feast was sans nuts due to allergies. Not too shabby though, in my book. Didn't even miss the nuts!

And after that feast, boy do I have some news for you!

First off, NaNoWriMo is done and I made it to the end!!!


I'm very excited about this. So far, two novels for two NaNoWriMos.
What had started out as an exercise, seeing if I could take one character from another work and pair her with a new one, blossomed into a 50,874 word piece of fun. I know a lot of it is, as some of my writing group friends would say, "faff" and will need to be slashed, changed, and rewritten, especially the ending. Oh dear, yes.

I'm terrible with endings for some reason.

But I'm happy to have gotten it done.

Actually, I have visions in my mind of making it into a novella. It'll be punchier that way, I think.

Anyway, I'll have some time in January to revisit it. I'm taking December off from working on novels, er, this novel. I got back some notes from my beta reader in Connecticut (Hi Mrs. P!) on my last book and will be tackling that next.

Then we'll see what happens.

Dream list? I'd like to find an agent. And then editor. And then one day, publish.

I'm not a big fan of the self-published for $0.00 on Amazon. I've read a bunch of those. There's generally a reason they're free. Not to say some aren't good. It's just, well, you can tell when something needs more work. And the spelling typos! (Don't get me started on that.)

But yeah, I am doing a happy dance. And Mr. K was so sweet. The night I finished, he made me dinner. (P.F. Changs does frozen food, by the way.) And he got me this:


Scrumptious baby tiramisu cup three inches wide. Served with a coffee, because we WriMos are addicted to the stuff after November, it was divine.

I love that man.

And secondly, we have our tree!
The day after we went with friends to go get our Christmas tree. Actually go and chop it down in a forest! To do that, we had to drive North past the Valle Calderas. I'll apologize in advance, I didn't think to take my camera with me for the first part of the trip. I just had my phone.

That said, I think some of these turned out pretty nice.

Like this one of the Valle Calderas.

Gorgeous!

The road takes you right by it. It was so breathtaking, we had to stop and take photos.


But of course, Mr K and I had to get a shot in.

By the way, I'd just like to point out that it was SUPER windy that day.

My hair takes on a mind of its own in wind.
But the baby behind us was totally adorable. So look at her, will you?

Our friends, Mr and Mrs C with Little M

We took one more photo then hopped back into the Jeep.


On we went, heading to the place to get the trees.
We drove over the Rio Grande, by the way...

Not very Grande if you ask me, but pretty nevertheless.
However, when we got to the ranch...


**Cue western whistle from duel here**



I'm just kidding...they did have trees. But they weren't allowing people to chop them down.

However, after a few well timed calls from Mrs C, we found out that if we went to the Santa Fe National Forest with a permit, we could chop down our tree there. So the boys piled into the SUV and drove back down to Los Alamos because why sell permits any other place but forty minutes away from where you are.

The rest of us went on a hike around the area.


Can I just reiterate how much I love our area?
Cause I do.



After our little one and a half mile hike, the boys returned with the permits. We finished the cookies and hot chocolate and piled back into the car.

I was seated next to this little gem. Little M.


Oh, and Mr. K was a real sweetie and brought me back my camera!!

We got up to the National Forest, but had to ask for where we could go to get some good trees.


Told to go back a bit, we passed some great scenery.

Looks like the West, no?

We found a good spot and parked. Believe it or not, there was snow.


Just to give you some perspective, the blue dots are our friends. Those trees were HUGE!


And as the sun was setting, our time to get a tree was ticking away...


Mr. K and I walked into the forest to try to find one.


We hiked up the mountains, pushed past branches, slapped our faces on twigs...but had a hard time finding something that was less than 10 feet tall and no more than 5 inches of base.

The guys took a break on a rock though...


A little perspective is needed I think for this...


Back into the woods we went.

I like this shot. It shows the white trunks of the aspens very well.

And then we found it!

Time was short, the sun was setting, and it was the best looking single trunked tree out there.

Now we had to go down the mountain and take it to the car...no easy feat, but Mr. K was awesome.

This reminds me of a Hallmark card...

Say Ouistiti! (The French say this instead of Cheese!) Even through the branches, Mr K is smiling.

Tying up the trees came next. Roof of the car time!


Group photo!


And this is one of my favorites...

Doesn't Mr K look dashing, with a hint of vintage flair about him, courtesy of Mr and Mrs C's Jeep.

So I guess you want to see our baby up and decorated too, huh?








We thought it resembled the Charlie Brown Christmas tree... you know, bare branches, weird shapes.

But after decorating it, we love it. It looks resplendent, sort of. I still miss my bushy fir trees


Well, there you have it. Our first Southwestern Christmas Tree. It's not like the East Coast ones we're used to, but we like it.

So that's all for now.

Until next time,
Bisous

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dining in Santa Fe and a Yummy Recipe in November

Back again for a brief update on our goings on out here.

First off...we had a dinner out at a great restaurant in Santa Fe called Dinner for Two, courtesy of Mr. and Mrs K, my in-laws. (THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!)

The cuisine is probably what I would call French-American. We invited Mr and Mrs B to go with us, as it was kinda last minute.

When Mr K told me he got us a reservation to dine, this was my reaction:


As you can see, I was excited to eat out and get all fancified. Ta-dah!

And because I liked my 30s/40s inspired makeup, here's a glamor shot of that.


Hehehe. It's so much fun to dress up.

But anyway...
If you're ever looking for a great little place to try, try them. Their food was divine. The service fantastic and if you get there on a Saturday, they have live music. We had a classical guitarist play softly in the background the entire time we were there. What's not to like?

Suggestion: order a bottle of wine for the table if there are more than two people who like wine. Three of us had a chardonnay. Lovely.

Mr. K had the Buttermilk fried chicken. I had the coq au vin with a pear and cranberry gastrique and duck confit. Mr and Mrs B had Buttermilk chicken and a delicious looking tuna. Both of them said theirs was delish.

And sadly, because the food was just so amazing, there are no pictures.

But just trust me. It was good. I recommend it.

The server was a real doll and when an error occurred, he gifted the entire table with Bananas Foster.

Oh. My. Word. I'm not usually a person for that dish, but it was perfect.
Made table side, flambé, and then caramelized, you have to try it.

Even Mr. K, who doesn't like bananas, liked it. So there you go. It's a crowd pleaser.

When we got home, I told Mr. K that he can take me there any time he wants. He was shocked.
I was shocked he was shocked.

And what was more shocking?
Nothing really.

I just wanted an excuse to take a shocking photo!
Haha.


Yup. We're dorks.

Anyway...

I made an easy and delicious winter meal the other day. Mr K approved too, so you know it's yummy.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pork Tenderloin.

One word.
Scrumptious.


Easy recipe actually. Keep in mind though that I am baking this at 7,500 feet above sea level, so the cooking times might be a little off if you're at sea level. Just check on your meat periodically during the cooking.

Alright! Now for the recipe!
-----------------------------------------------------------
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).

Peel and gut a medium butternut squash. Dice it up. Throw into a vegetable plastic bag (the kind you get at the market for tomatoes and such). Dice up a zucchini. Add a chunky chopped onion. And three cloves of garlic, roughly chopped. Drizzle in two tablespoons olive oil. Add about a teaspoon and a half to two teaspoons of Herbes de Provence (mainly thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano, and bay leaf if you don't have a mix available). Then toss in some salt and pepper to taste. Spin the bag twice to close the top. Then shake and shake until everything is coated. Pour into an oven roasting pan.

Now, take your pork tenderloin and put it into the same bag. Toss it around in there and then dump it ontop of the squash bits. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and some extra herbs if you desire.
Cut two thin slices of salted butter and put on top of the meat. Drizzle everything with a little bit more olive oil if you want more of a sauce.
Then cover it with aluminum foil and toss that baby into the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Take the foil off, raise the temp to 390 F (200 C) and let cook for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. (Use a meat thermometer. I live by that thing up in these mountains now...)

Move the whole thing up to the broiler bit and broil for about three minutes, just to get a crispy exterior.
Remove the meat and let rest.
SERIOUSLY. Let it rest for at least three minutes! You want those juices to stay in the meat.
(I like to let mine rest about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.)

With a slotted spoon, take the veggies out and set them into a bowl. Use the remaining juices as a sauce and put into a container. Now, slice the meat into 3/4 inch slices (2cm) and serve immediately. Enjoy!
-----------------------------------------------------------

Our town is gearing up for the holidays. Saw this on the walk home the other night.


So pretty. I love this time of year.

Well, I guess that's it for now. Oh! But before I forget...

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Until next time,
Bisous!




Friday, November 14, 2014

Busy Month

Sorry about the delay here. We've been a bit busy.

A day-after-Halloween party, some dear friends of ours welcoming another perfect baby into the world, looking after a cutie-pie while momma and new brother had to stay in the hospital, and then our first snow!
And oh yeah...I signed up to do NaNoWriMo again. Just, you know, in case I needed to make sure I was plenty busy.

Here are the highlights!

For the Halloween party, we dressed up as the couple from Paperman.


Here's the video for comparison:



I think we did a pretty stand up job of it, don't you? At anyrate, it was fun. And our hostess was a Dalek from Dr. Who. Complete with shiny hat! I think there was a ladybug guest too.

Mr. K made mummy dogs (basically pigs in blankets with beef mini hot dogs and crescent rolls made to look like a mummy)

And our hosts made chicken pot pie.

Scrumptious, by the way.

It was a great party, complete with delicious food and wonderful company.

Then two days later, my friend, Mrs. E was told she was having her baby that evening.
I love this woman. She took the news like a champ and even had on some fantastic socks for the occasion! They match her personality.

These babies brightened up everything that was tense in the room.

Mr K and I took care of her little baby at home for a few days. He was such a sweetie.

I mean, look at this munchkin! What's not to like?

We went home after that and wouldn't you know it, we had snow on the mountaintops!


Of course I had to take another shot. I love where we live. I'm surprised daily by the gorgeous photo ops.


But, with the dusting, comes the preparation.


Considering that we didn't have a shovel or de-icer and we now have a driveway...we picked up one of both. Though, our shovel is the S type (better for the backs). I have a feeling that with the dustings and flurries we've had already, we're in for some wintry weather soon...

And that brings us to NaNoWriMo. 

What is that, you ask? 

Only the most awesome month out of the year: 

NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH!!!

The goal is to write a novel during the month of November.
50, 000 words in 30 days.
1,666 words per day.
That's about a chapter a day, give or take.

I'm almost halfway through the month and it's now the hard work I thought it'd be. I powered through the first three or four days to build up a bank of words just in case I started to get bogged down. It was a good idea. And I know it was definitely necessary for me to do.

To set the tone of my novel, I got creative and took a photo for my "cover" before I began. Should be interesting to see how it turns out.

Can anyone guess the genre?

Anyway, I may be a bit more absent until the month is over. Bear with me. 

I promise to be more consistent in December!

Until then,
Bisous!

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