Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Brunch at the Mission Inn

I keep a list handy of places I'd like to go and things I'd like to do. For the longest time, "having brunch at the Mission Inn" has been on that list. As of this past Sunday, I can cross this event off. Or, at least cross it off for having been there; it shall remain on the list to go back!! Kevin and I, along with our friends Bev and Ken, splurged and treated ourselves to a wonderful meal at the Mission Inn. I can hardly wait until we return!

If you live in the southern California area, and you've never been to the Mission Inn, I think you should add this one to your list! The Mission Inn is an absolutely beautiful place. It first opened it's doors in 1903; the architecture is stunning. Here's what Will Rogers had to say about it:

“It is the most unique hotel in America. It’s a monastery, a museum, a fine hotel, a home, a boardinghouse, a mission, an art gallery and an aviator’s shrine. It combines the best features of all of the above. If you are ever in any part of California, don’t miss the famous Mission Inn of Riverside.”

Let me just say, I'm with Will. Oh, and if you happen to visit the Mission Inn on a Sunday, do yourself a favor and enjoy their fabulous brunch. (I'm quite certain Will would agree ;o)

What do they have for brunch? It's a gastronomical feast that ranges from an abundance of fresh seafood, to hand carved beef and pork, to a delicious array of salads, fresh fruits and cheeses, to made-to-order omelets, to pancakes and Belgian waffles, to the most amazing dessert bar I've ever seen. It's a bit pricey, but the food is delectable and the champagne flows generously. We were seated in the charming courtyard on the most perfect day of spring; the sun was out, the weather was warm but not hot, there was a gentle breeze and every flower was in bloom. In short, it was perfect!

After brunch, we walked through the grounds of the Inn. Kevin and I have decided that we'd like to stay at this beautiful inn - at least for a weekend. I've read that they also have a dazzling display of holiday lights at Christmastime; maybe we'll plan on going over winter break this year ...

Hey! That would be a perfect excuse to enjoy brunch there again ...

What a coincidence ;o)

Monday, March 29, 2010

S-P-R-I-N-G B-R-E-A-K!!

...well, almost =)

Actually, Kevin IS on Spring Break this week - but I'm not. My Spring Break will be next week. In a way, it's kind of disappointing that we don't have break at the same time. On the other hand, it's nice to be able to have different weeks off so that we can accomplish some of our own things that we've been wanting to do.

I don't know about you, but I'm a list maker. Just ask Kevin - I make lists for EVERYTHING (isn't that right, honey?!). Spring Break is no exception. I have my own list, AND a list for Kevin (though in all honesty, most of the things on his list were things he'd already said he wanted to do -- I just put them in list form for him so that he'd have them all written down in one place). Ooooo...weeeeeeee! You should see these lists! We'll both need the break of going back to work when spring break is over!

At any rate, one of the things I wanted to do was to re-decorate the garden window in the kitchen. When we moved in over the summer, I was convinced I wanted a variety of different plants in that window. I've changed my mind. Firstly, though there is a water source right there, I'm terrible about remembering to water those plants! But mostly, I think a window filled with just plants looks pretty boring. That said, I have ideas about how I want the window to look when it's all finished; in the meantime, however, we decided to give the windows and screen - both inside and out - and the shelves a good scrubbing this past weekend to get off to a good start for when I'm off next week.

Without further ado, here's what the window looks like in it's nothinginhereatall stage (yes, that is my handsome hubby on the outside of the window...)

Stay tuned next week for the "After" photos of the window. I can't wait to see how it's going to look with it's new look!

Slippers and Daisy

It's absolutely hilarious to watch these two. They've really become 'buds' over the last several months. They really do have a lot of fun together. The other night I was sitting on the couch and I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look out the window and it was Slippers and Daisy playing and chasing each other in the front yard. They'd both hunch down on their front legs with their tails in the air wagging ... then one would move and the other would move, then one would run and the other would give chase. They were having a great time and I was having a great time watching them.

Meal Planning

Yes, it's that time again ... already! I swear, the time really does fly by, doesn't it?

3/27/10 thru 4/9/10

Saturday 3/27 - grilled steak, baked sweet potato fries, artichokes

Sunday 3/28 - cereal for dinner (we went out for a HUGE meal for brunch)

Monday 3/29 - BBQ style baby back ribs, coleslaw, baked beans

Tuesday 3/30 - tacos with all the fixings, guacamole, Spanish rice

Wednesday 3/31 - French onion soup, egg salad sandwiches on whole grain bread

Thursday 4/1 - tortellini with tomato sauce, tossed green salad

Friday 4/2 - breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, toast or biscuits)

Saturday 4/3 - we might be dying Easter eggs at mom and dad's and have dinner there; if not, let's go to Panera for an easy din-din

Sunday 4/4 - Easter - dinner at mom and dad's: honey baked ham with all the fixins

Monday 4/5 - tomatoes stuffed with tarragon chicken salad, Il Fornaio crusty rolls

Tuesday 4/6 - grilled hamburger patties, cottage cheese, sliced fruit

Wednesday 4/7 - spaghetti with sausage marinara sauce, garlic toast

Thursday 4/8 - grilled chicken breasts with thai chili and lime sauce, orzo with lemon and fresh parsley, fresh steamed green beans

Friday 4/9 - dinner and game night at Bev & Ken's house

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grillin' and Chillin'

The weather has been so beautiful here! Warm and sunny - just the most perfect spring weather(for those of you in colder climes, sorry!!).

With such nice weather, Kevin and I decided to have our first grill session for the season. Marinated flank steak and grilled veggies - yum! This is one of our favorite meals. I'm looking forward to a nice long and happy grilling season - lots of delicious meals enjoyed leisurely on the patio. Ahhh, spring! ... and summer ... and fall (Hey, it's southern California - what do you expect?! ;o)

Can the sickie monster go away...please?!

What a whirlwind month it's been - mostly because of all of the sickies that have been going around.

First, we had Pat and Drew over for a weekend in mid-February. At that time, Drew was not feeling well at all. The longer we got into the weekend, the worse he felt. Poor guy! By the time they left that weekend, Pat was beginning to not feel well either. Ugh!

Next, Kevin began feeling under the weather. He came home from work early one day with a head cold that stuck around for a bit over a week. He still continued to plug along, but he felt pretty miserable.

Then, Vicky got sick. We had planned to meet at Kevin's Mt. SAC game, but when we spoke with her that morning, she had absolutely no voice, so both Kevin and I said she should stay home and get well. But in about the middle of the 4th inning, I looked up and there she was! We both sat out in that chilly weather - probably not good for either of us. Poor Vicky is STILL sick. Yikes.

The Tuesday following the game, I began to feel like I was catching something. It went immediately into my chest rendering me voiceless. In addition, I felt pretty miserable and stayed home for three days - mostly sleeping trying to get well. Thankfully, all that remains is a cough -- always the last thing to go!

Last Wednesday, mom called me shortly after I arrived at work to say that dad had been taken to the emergency room. Apparently he'd woken up at 4:00 a.m. with a profuse bloody nose that wouldn't stop. By the time I got to the emergency room about 20 minutes later, he was leaning over a basin with blood just pouring out. Oh. My. Gosh. It was unbelievable! Though they tried everything, they just could NOT get that bloody nose to stop. Finally about 5:30 that evening, he went in for emergency sinus surgery. Which, luckily, finally stopped the bleeding. Five and a half days later, he was finally released from the hospital.

Sheeeeesh! What a month it's been. Now that it's spring, I'd like to kindly request that the sickie monster please go away. We're done with you for quite a while and would all like to enjoy a gloriously sickie-free spring (and summer and fall, too, if you don't mind!).

That is all.

The Hallowed Halls of Higher Education

Okay, maybe not the 'halls' exactly, but certainly the fields. Baseball field to be exact.

Three weeks ago, Kevin umpired his first college game of the 2010 season. It was a very cool, gray day at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC), but that didn't scare us away. The game went on as planned and Kevin, aside from looking terribly handsome (!), did a fantastic job. Here are a few pictures: Mt. SAC... Serious Umpires... Smiling Umpires... Going over the rules...
"Please, God, let this be a good game!"... You did a great job, honey! I'm very proud of you!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Boy, did that two weeks just fly right by, or what? Of course it doesn't help that I've been sick for the last four days ...

Here's what's on the menu for the next two weeks:

3/13/10 thru 3/26/10

Saturday 3/13 - spicy jack chicken quesadillas, guacamole, spanish rice
Sunday 3/14 - P&D’s birthday dinner at mom and dad’s house
Monday 3/15 - Costco for pizza (since we didn’t get that last week!)
Tuesday 3/16 - pasta primavera w/lots of fresh veggies, garlic toast
Wednesday 3/17 - corned beef, roasted baby new potatoes and carrots, coleslaw
Thursday 3/18 - Kevin has a game; Randa will fend for herself
Friday 3/19 - French onion soup, spinach salad, crusty rolls
Saturday 3/20 - flank steak, grilled veggies, baked potatoes, tossed green salad
Sunday 3/21 - salsbury steak w/sauteed onions, mashed potatoes, sauteed fresh spinach
Monday 3/22 - Kevin has an umpire meeting; Randa will fend for herself
Tuesday 3/23 - California chicken sandwich w/whole ortega chilis on grilled sourdough bread, cut up fresh fruit
Wednesday 3/24 - potsticker salad
Thursday 3/25 - let’s go to Rudy’s!!
Friday 3/26 - tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Friday, March 05, 2010

Creme Brulee French Toast

Several years ago my friend, Diane, introduced me to this delicious breakfast/brunch treat. Kevin and I have made it several times since then, tweaking it here and there as we've gone along. We've come up with what we think is an outstanding recipe.

Kevin's office brought treats today for the staff and he signed up to bring our famous Creme Brulee French toast. He arrives at work every morning at about twenty minutes after 7:00. This morning, as soon as he arrived, he set the casseroles (we made 2) first thing with all of the other breakfast goodies. By 8:00 a.m., both casseroles were completely gone - not a crumb left in sight. Apparently we're not the only ones who love this treat! He brought the casserole in around the holidays, but at that time, it was just for the office staff - they loved it, too!

It's a super simple recipe - and when it's baking, it makes the whole house smell warm and delicious! We've made it over the holidays using panettone and it's wonderful, too. Here's the recipe:

Creme Brulee French Toast

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter/margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Creme Brulee flavored coffee creamer

2 tablespoons corn syrup (or maple syrup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 loaf thick-sliced cinnamon bread
½ teaspoon cinnamon

In small pan melt butter, brown sugar & corn syrup over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Trim the crusts from 6 or 7 slices of bread. Cut each slice into five strips and then slice strips into small cubes. Arrange bread cubes into baking dish, squeezing to fit. Whisk together eggs, half and half, coffee creamer, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until combined. Pour evenly over bread, pressing mixture into the bread to soak it in.

Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Before baking, bring bread to room temperature. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and pale golden, about 35-40 minutes. Serve warm. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Deal of the (new) Decade

The other day at work, my friend Linda asked if I'd ever posted an ad on Craigslist. I said I hadn't, but that I'd looked at plenty of them.

Her daughter Kimi, who is engaged to be married in January, decided to move home to save money before the wedding. She'd been renting her grandmother's (Linda's mother in law) house. When cleaning out the house, there were several things that they decided not to keep, among them, an antique mahogany secretary desk, and Linda was going to put an ad on Craigslist to sell it.

I told her that I might be interested in taking a look at it before she placed the ad. I've always wanted one of those! She had her husband Jerry take a picture of the desk and he sent it to her. She forwarded it to me. Uh ... YEAH ... I definitely want that secretary desk!!

She told me I could have it. WHAT? I can have it?? I told her that I would feel guilty about just taking it. She said she was going to list it for $50.00 and that, considering the time it would take her to do so, the calls she'd receive about it, etc., that she would really just rather give it to me and not have to worry about it. She said that both she and Jerry would feel better about not keeping the desk in the family, if they knew it was going to someone they knew, and someone who would love and appreciate it. Well then ... I'm definitely your girl!!

Here it is - isn't it absolutely adorable?! I absolutely love it! I can hardly wait to put some books and a few pieces of pottery in that cute little hutch!

I still feel bad about not paying them for it, but Kevin and I decided to give them a small gift card for a restaurant we know they like. It seems a small price to pay for such a wonderful item, but at least it's something they can enjoy.

Don't you love it when things like this happen out of the blue?!