Monday, June 29, 2009

Incline Village, NV

Dave's family all have timeshares at a Club Tahoe and recently his sister and BIL offered us theirs for their week since they couldn't use it. We happily accepted and started making plans. We left Boise on Friday June 12th and drove to Winnemucca where we had breakfast at The Griddle which was pretty good. From there we drove straight to the condo and arrive just in time to check in. After unloading the car and getting settled, we decided on a local small place that had rotisserie meat cooking and the best burritos I've ever had. Their salsa was so good we even bought some to have back at the condo with chips I had bought. On Saturday, we drove all the way to the north end of the lake to Tahoe City and had breakfast at The Fire Sign Cafe which was excellent. From there we visited the dam and took a nice nature walk through the park. We drove back to the condo, picked up a movie for the night at the Redbox and then later went to dinner at Cal-Neva which was disappointing. Sunday we headed over to South Shore and rode the Heavenly Gondola which had incredible views of Lake Tahoe and South Shore. We sat outside, had a beer and waited to see if anyone was going to ride the zip line but there were apparenly thunderstorms in the area so it was closed. There was also an outdoor mall which had tons of great shopping. From there, we found the Rainbow Trail which was a nice walk and had a cool fish display. The weather was looking a little questionable, but I was determined to see more while we were on the South Shore so we went ahead and drove to Angora Lakes to do another hike. It was amazing. You park at the bottom of the trail and walk up about 2 miles and there are 2 goregous lakes and even cabins for rent. After that we went to the outlet mall and did some shopping. Since we were starting to get hungry, we decided to go to one of the large casinos for a buffet dinner. We decided on Harrah's and we weren't disappointed. The food was amazing, the price reasonable and the service outstanding though we did have to wait for about 45 minutes. With full bellies we drove back to the Condo and had a nice fire and watched another movie.

On Monday, we spent a lazy day in and went to dinner at La Fondue which was a lot of fun and very delicious. We also walked around the Hyatt which is right on the Lake and took a drive along Lakeshore drive where there are beautiful homes along the beach. On Tuesday, we were taking Aaron to visit his Dad who lives in Sparks and we took the long way through Carson City so I could visit the Trader Joe's. I spent over an hour there and bought lots of goodies to bring home. I was so glad we had the car so I could stock up! After we dropped off Aaron, we had lunch at a casino and then Dave let me do some shoe shopping at my favorite store DSW. We headed back to Tahoe via 431 which is a beautiful drive past Mt. Rose. Since we weren't too hungry because we ate a late lunch, we went back to T's Rottisserie for burritos for dinner. On Wednesday, we went to the breakfast buffet at Harrah's and then took a long walk along Lakeshore. For our adventure, we drove to a hiking trail and visited Chimney beach (pictured above) which was amazing.

On Thursday, we had lunch at Austin's which was recommend to us by everyone and it did not disappoint! Wonderful chicken fried chicken and chicken fried steak smothered in homemade delicious gravy and their famous garlic fries. After lunch we went back to the condo and got ready for a day at the beach. All week the weather was getting warmer and Thursday was a perfect day. Though it was only in the lower 70's it felt like it was 90. We spent the afternoon reading and relaxing and enjoying the bikes, kayakers and boarders on Lake Tahoe. For dinner, we went to a local favorite, the Wild Alaskan a surprisingly good place that had wonderful Thai Fish Soup that Dave loved.

On Friday, it was time to pack up and head home. Club Tahoe was amazing and we enjoyed it very much. The club house had a pool table which we played almost every day, a pool, spa and even a bar. The staff was very friendly and helpful and they even had a large binder of local restaurant menu's.

Full album of pictures here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

McCall Winter Carnival

Last year, we went to the McCall Winter Carnival on the 2nd weekend of the festival, so this year we figured we would go when all the action was. We took off work and school on Friday, packed up all the electronics, people and dogs and were headed north by 11:30am. On the way, we stopped at McDonalds and had lunch. Normally, we NEVER eat fast food, but we were on vacation and needed a quick bite. When we got to Cascade we turned off and drove all through Tamarack, a beautiful resort and dreamed of buying a second home or property.

We arrived at the AmericInn just around check in time and right before cookies were served! We love this hotel because they are dog friendly and have a nice indoor pool and hot tub that Aaron and I use when we're not out around town. We unpacked, then went to Chapala's for dinner, then watched the Children's Parade and a spectacular fireworks show for the opening ceremonies. It was cold out, but we all had pretty good clothing, so we were mostly warm. After the fireworks, we headed back to the hotel where Aaron and I promplty put our swimsuits and headed to the pool and hot tub for a relaxing soak.

Saturday morning we all slept late and rush to catch breakfast at the hotel and then we got bundled up to head out for the parade. We found a parking spot pretty easily and walked the couple of blocks to Main street and got a great spot to watch the parade. It was terrific! The dogs got a little cold sitting in their stroller, so Dave and I held them and they kept us toasty. Aaron was running around catching candy and watching the parade up close and had fun also. After the parade, we walked around town a bit and then got some great noodles at the festival. Aaron and I shared some funnel cakes (our favorite fair/festival ritual) and we walked out on the frozen lake and let the girls run off leash. We walked around a few hours and then headed back to the hotel for a few hours of rest before our big prime rib dinner at the Mill.

Sunday morning we got up and this time took our time at the wonderful breakfast at the hotel, got packed up and then went to the craft festival. We also drove around town and looked at some of the sculptures we missed the day before when we were on foot. We headed south on a side road and admired more of the subdivisions and homes.

When we got home, we quickly unpacked and settled into our jammies to watch the Super Bowl. It was a great weekend!! Full picture album here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cooking with the Freezer

I've had this blog post on my to do list for months but I've not had the time to just sit down and write out all my thoughts, so today, as part of my efforts to get things done, I'm doing it.

A year after I moved in with Dave, we had 3 boys (7, 11 & 15) to feed. Dave had a nice big freezer out in the garage and not much in it. As I was learning about things to cook I found a Yahoogroup about freezing. It was great. I learned you could freeze all kinds of things. Fast forward 7 years later and there is only 1 boy at home, but food prices have gone crazy and time is always limited to spend in the kitchen and shopping. So, I use my freezer for tons of stuff. I pre-make Fix, Freeze & Feast meals and I also pre-do a lot of ingredients that go into meals. Here are some of the things I freeze:

cream (1 cup batches)
homemade cream of mushroom soup (1 sandwich size bag full)
chopped onions
chopped bell peppers
cooked in the crockpot black and pinto beans
rice (brown jasmine, jasmine and long grain brown)
Spaghetti sauce (made in a 2 1/2 gallon batch)
pineapple juice
meat (ground beef, ground turkey, pork chops, stew meat, chicken, ham & sausage)
sliced carrots
chopped celery
homemade beef broth/stock
Pre-cooked ground beef with onions
Tomato sauce & diced tomatoes (packaged in 2 cup portions from a #10 can)
Leftover soups, stews & chilli
Meatloafs - batch of 3
Mashed potatoes (make 20 lbs and flash freeze ice cream scoop portions, then bag)
Meatballs (using 8 lbs of meat)
Lasagnas (using pre-made spaghetti sauce & precooked ground beef from another day)
meals made with SIL in 1 day cooking sessions (usually 20-30 meals @ <$5 each)

Having all these items handy in the freezers does a lot for me. It saves me money for sure. I'm able to buy things when they are on sale and buy larger portions (always check your prices, larger isn't always cheaper!) and re-package into smaller sizes. I only have to go to the grocery store every 2-3 weeks. This saves me time, money and stress. It also allows me a lot of flexibiltiy of what I can make at any given time. Between my freezer and pantry, I can make almost anything. If I do want to make something that requires a special item, I put it on my grocery list and get it the next time I go. I love to see how long I can last between trips to the store. I don't mind grocery shopping, but it's certainly not how I like to spend my time. I also do a lot of meal planning and recipe searching. I use MasterCook to organize all my recipes and I subscribe to quite a few cooking blogs for new ideas. I also use my crockpot at least once a week. I also keep a typed list on the front of the freezer door with the contents of each shelf listed, that way I don't forget about stuff I have in there and forget to use it before it gets freezer burned. I have a Foodsaver, but you'd be amazed how well things last in freezer zip lock bags or tupperware.

Think about what you can do to make your life easier in preparing homecooked, healthy meals for your family, it's really a lot of fun. Email me with any questions, I'd love to share recipes or tips and tricks!