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Celebration Time

On Sunday, Feb. 17, we headed south to meet up with Eric and Jordan and go out for lunch to celebrate his recent completion of the PGA Professional Golf Management Program. Woo Hoo and Congratulations Eric! We are very proud of you!

Congratulations Eric!

Congratulations Eric!

 

Of course his gift had not come in the mail yet (it of course arrived on the following Tuesday), but we couldn’t go empty handed so we brought along a bottle of champagne for him, and will deliver the goods soon (I hope).

We went downtown in Moline and ate lunch at the River House Bar & Grill. I was ecstatic when Paul pointed out to me that fish tacos was on the menu. They were delicious as was the Italian Margarita I had to go along with them. Everyone else liked their choices as well which included a cheeseburger, grown-up mac and cheese and a grilled chicken sandwich. I will definitely find a reason to go back for the fish tacos again :>D.

Fish Tacos -- the best!

Fish Tacos — the best!

Italian Margarita -- I'm going to have to find a recipe for these.

Italian Margarita — I’m going to have to find a recipe for these.

After lunch we walked a block west to look at the mighty Mississippi, and stopped for a Kodak moment.

Eric and Jordan

Eric and Jordan

Family time

Family time

On the way back to the car, we detoured to the John Deere Pavilion and went inside and walked around the big machines and crawled up in a few as well. It was an impressive display of farm equipment from lawn tractors to antique farm tractors to the ginormous cultivating and harvesting machines.

Big boy toys.

Big boy toys.

All together such a nice day!

 

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… so why hasn’t this darn cold taken a hike so I can celebrate it as planned? Still coughing, still without much get up and go. So I think it’s going to be a low key day and I’ll take a rain-check on celebrating another day next week.

First surprise of the day – Sue came early with a delicious carrot cake and presents. A truly stunning shades of purple bracelet that I cannot wait to wear, and a lovely sweater too! She is such a sweet and thoughtful sister.

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I was excited to get this beautiful bracelet from Sue (even though I was with her when she bought it — I totally forgot about it!) It’s a stunner!

Leslie sent presents in the mail and I finished opening them on my birthday. The delicious and healthy oatmeal muffins I opened right away and have been eating. Awesome boogie woogie music CD and a book on Florence, Italy.

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Music and book and love across the miles! Oh my!

Poor Paul is sick too – suffering with the flu and just no energy and not feeling well at all. Once in awhile he’ll get up for an hour or so, but it wears him out and he’s back on the sofa in no time. He spent the afternoon watching movies, and I spent it upstairs working on my Vision Board for the One Little Word class I’m taking online from Ali Edwards and Big Picture Scrapbooking. I had already done a digital Vision Board which I really like, but wanted to try the cut and paste version too. At first I didn’t think I had enough variety in magazines to make an interesting board, but I looked through a couple PDN photography magazines as work and decided that yeah, I should give the hands on version a try. It was actually a lot of fun. I love the images I found and they work well on the board together. I couldn’t let go of my tendency to keep everything straight and aligned – but oh well – that’s just the kind of designer I am.

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One of the ideas behind a Vision Board is just to use images and words that “speak” or “appeal” to you. Don’t try and rationalize why you are using this image or do any planning. Let it just happen!

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Love some of the travel images. It makes me want to go places and take photos. Is it too late to turn that into a career?

Oh yeah, I was watching Season 2 of Arrested Development while working on the Vision Board. So hilarious! Love it, love it, love it.

I had nice conversations with Eric and Leslie too which always makes my day. Leslie said Eric has posted a sweet Happy Birthday message to Mom on Facebook – which is just his sweet nature. Love my son and daughter, and I appreciate that they were here in spirit and kept a germ free distance.

I ended the day with cake and ice cream and a little wine.

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Cake and wine and ice cream. It works for me.

I also watched the Netflix instant download movie Bernie (Jack Black – what a different role! Not the funny ha-ha comedy I thought it would be but interesting and amazing to me that it’s a true story and a lot of the people in the movie doing the “direct to the camera” commenting were real Carthage, Texas people who knew the real Bernie).

I also got new running shoes (one pair to keep for gym (e.g. clean) and one for outdoors, and Amazon gift cards (what to buy?, what to buy?).

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Will these be the secret weapon in the “Beat Jimmy” goal for 2013. We’ll see. (although I am concerned about the 19 day vacation, 4 weeks before the race. I don’t know that I’ll be keeping the practice going in Europe). Oh well. We’ll see.

 

All and all, I have no complaints on how I spent my day. At 57, having now lived longer than either my mom or dad, I appreciate and am grateful for each day – whether it’s fun on the run, of the comforts of home.

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We had our annual Superbowl party and it was fun with friends and feasting.

Thanks to Sue for coming in early to help with the last minute preparations. We had so much good food. I thought the Caprese Dip was really tasty. The Avocado hummus was OK but didn’t knock my socks off. Fresh fruit was a big hit and we had an abundance of desserts. Mary Lynn brought Kris’s chocolate pudding pie, Sue brought gingerbread and hot butter rum sauce, Kris brought Dirt Dessert, Peggy S. brought a warm pineapple cake, and Gayle brought some decadent chocolate and peanut butter intensely rich bar. No – that wasn’t all, and no, I didn’t try a little of everything but I had my share. I’m sure the scale will reflect that in the morning.

With my cold, my ability to taste is diminished, so I didn’t overdo it as much as I might have if taste buds were working well.

We were happy to have little Lillian join us for her first Superbowl and all the kids were excited that Paul unearthed the magic of the toy drawer. For kids, it’s like a treasure hunt – they love it. The favorite find was the balancing bird – which has always been a fave.

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She appears to be having a good time!

Keith won the prize for coming up with a guess closest to the winning score and took home the fantastic prize of the football shaped deck of cards and score-sheet  If we had been giving out prizes for the best dressed – that would have been Gene (also winning for the largest number of servings of dirt dessert (or chocolate pudding pie – I forget which).

Same time, next year.

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It’s been a long time and I’m kind of surprised that Word Press hasn’t shut me down.

I’m back because I’m doing Ali Edward’s One Little Word project, and the word I chose is Connect. And my focus for February is to Connect with Words and that includes cards, notes, emails and to jump start the blog again.

So JUMP! Here it is February, and Superbowl weekend to be exact. We are having a get together on Sunday night so most of the weekend is spent in prep mode (although somewhat while dragging my butt around as I have a cold, the first in about three years) and I run out of energy off and on.

The Superbowl menu includes:

What is done: Pulled pork, cookies and cupcakes, half the veggies and chex mix in oven.

This doesn’t look that yummy in the raw state, but after it cooks all day, it’s quite delicious.

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This is easy and tasty. The triangular pieces of bread (left side) were used for dipping and they are simply the super thin buns, toasted, and cut into eight pieces.

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Just have to have a cold glass of milk with these.

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Perfectly sad that I didn’t take a photo of the finished cupcake. I will next time. The batter on these is really thin, enough so that I was worried that they would turn into cake but they did. The other oddity – is the last step involved adding one cup of boiling water. Which turned some of my egg whites into little white blobs. So definitely make sure your eggs are well blended before adding the boiling water.

What is not done? A lot, plus a trip to the grocery store. So I should end my small break and get back to it until I run out of steam again.

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Sunday -While the girls slept in, Sue and I went on a mission to locate breakfast fare. The neighborhood Safeway was 3 blocks away and fulfilled all our needs – milk, fruit, yogurt, bagels and pastries. Back at the hotel, everyone fueled up for a day of sightseeing and by 9:30 we were off.

Today was our first attempt at trying to master the San Francisco Muni system. Lucky for us it is not so hard to do. We boarded the #30 bus right outside the hotel, and then transferred to the #28. Our trip to Golden Gate Park took us through the Presido and along the bay, but 45 minutes later we arrived at the park.

Our first stop was the deYoung museum. We went up to the top of  the 9 story tower for be beautiful views of San Francisco and the park. The Golden Gate Park is larger than Central Park in New York, is about 3.5 miles in length, and has museums, gardens, a lake, bike and hiking paths, a buffalo paddock, windmills, and appears to be a wonderful gathering place for San Franciscans (and tourists) on a beautiful Sunday. And as a bonus, one of the main roads is closed to traffic on Sundays, so there were lots of dog walkers, rollerbladers, and runners taking advantage of that.

We headed to the California Academy of Sciences next and got it a very long line of people waiting for the museum to open. That’s when the only rain shower of the day let loose but we were all prepared with our umbrellas. It didn’t last long. The museum was great. We took in the planetarium show (a bit of a snoozer according to Jen and Leslie) and then grabbed lunch in the museum cafe. Leslie and I share pork and shrimp rolls and nachos. Both were very tasty. Afterwards, we wandered around looking at the exhibit on climate change and then entered the exhibit on rainforests  ” a living 4-story rainforest, where dripping water sets the beat for a symphony of croaking frogs and chirping birds. Peer into one of Borneo’s bat caves, meet chameleons from Madagascar, and climb into the tree-tops of Costa Rica to find free-flying birds and butterflies. Finally, descend in a glass elevator into the Amazonian flooded forest, where an acrylic tunnel allows you to walk beneath the catfish and arapaima that swim overhead.” It was amazing and we enjoyed looking at all the strange animals on exhibit as well at the aquarium exhibit.

After that we, we went up to the living roof, and then decided to go outside and enjoy the beautiful day. We took the shuttle ride down to the far west end to see the Dutch windmill and the blooming tulips. From there, we walked across the busy highway to Ocean Beach where the winds were blowing fierce waves onto the shore but there were lots of people out and about enjoying the day. It was beautiful.

We went in search of a refreshment break at the Beach and Park Chalet. We went upstairs to the Beach Chalet first, and although the views were great, it was too stuffy, so we abandoned our table and headed downstairs to the Park Chalet. It was a much better choice. We had drinks and sweets and enjoyed our break.

We rode the shuttle back to the deYoung museum (getting on the last one of the day – thank heavens!) and started the trip back to our hotel. We got off the 28 bus at the Golden Gate Bridge stop to take photos, and eventually made it back to Columbus Avenue. We enjoyed a bit of a break, but eventually headed out for dinner. Our plan was to go to Tony’s for pizza, but we nixed the idea of a 1.25 hour wait and went looking for another option. We settled on the tiny L’osteria del forno and enjoyed pizza and dessert. We walked the half mile back to the hotel on a beautiful evening.

We were tired but happy from all the wonderful sights and sounds and food of our first full day in San Francisco.

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Saturday – Our trip begins!

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March 18

FridayVacation begins. All the packing is done, the plans are made, now it’s time to round up the troops. First – head south to Champaign to pick up Leslie who is finishing classes at 11 a.m. and ready for spring break. I left home at 7:30 and after a couple stops, and a side trip to Target (20 minutes out of the car time), picked up my girl at high noon (in the rain!) She made a drop off at the Y, and I got back behind the wheel and we headed north. We arrived in Stockton at 4:30. Sue was waiting for us. It took awhile to finish gathering our bags, stuff them in the trunk and head north to Destination 2 – DeForest, WI to pick up Jen. We grabbed food to go from Culvers in New Glarus and were pulling  in the driveway at Jen’s around 7:30. After stuffing more bags in the trunk, we headed East this time to Milwaukee. A minor ramp closure and detour couldn’t stop waylay us for long and we finally arrived at the Staybridge Suites for a Park, Fly and Go.

Leslie finishes up some ASB paperwork in Milwaukee

Leslie finishes up some ASB paperwork in Milwaukee

When we pulled in the parking lot we were so excited to see that the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was parked in the lot. So after settling in, we had to go check it out on our way to Walgreens to buy some wine to kick off our trip. Alas, no packaged liquor sales after 9 p.m. in Wisconsin so back to the hotel for luggage rearranging and relaxing.

Cousins reunited and headed out to see...

Cousins reunited and headed out to see...

Leslie, Jen and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!

Leslie, Jen and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile! Seems like a good omen that the trip is only going to be about all sorts of fantastic sites!

Peg and Sue.

Posers! Yes we are!

Plans for tomorrow start at 6:00 a.m. – in order to clean up, grab breakfast and be on the shuttle at 7:45. Let the adventure  begin.

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