Love in the Kitchen - making fast, healthy, homegrown meals you'll enjoy

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I am loving being on vacation!

We've had a few bumps in the road (so to speak) - it rained while we were boarding the ship. Not so annoying for actually getting on the ship, but getting our luggage to the porter through the security checkpoint in the rain was in fact pretty annoying.

The weather cleared for sail away, but as we got out of the harbor, the winds and swell picked up. For the first 36 hours of the cruise, we had gale force 9 winds, (about 65 MPH) and 12 – 18 foot waves. This is NOT conducive to passenger comfort. Lots of folks suffered from sea sickness, but the staff was as helpful as they could be. Thanks goodness I was fine, but The Mr didn't feel to well the first night, and my sister and mom were both a bit under the weather.

Sleep on the first night was non-existent - rocking and rolling at that rate does not put you to sleep. The good news is - we are on vacation and afternoon naps are encouraged! Though the weather continued through the first day – the Captain closed the pools and hot tubs (the splashing water was a safety hazard) which wasn’t fun - we napped by the empty pool for a couple of hours anyway (the nice warm Lido pool, nicely protected from the wind and chilly (53 F) weather. The decks outside were also closed off - high winds also seem to be a safety hazard.

Even with the weather, we are very much enjoying our trip. We've had a massage (heavenly), I've finished one of my photography books already, watched a great demonstration in the Culinary Arts Center by the Master Chef about flambe and enjoyed chatting with a number of the ship's senior staff at a meeting I set up with some Cruise Critic members.

This morning, the second morning of our cruise, the seas have calmed somewhat (still 7 - 12 foot swells, but that is really qiute nice in comparison to yesterday), the Captain has opened the outside decks ans we'll be taking a stroll on the Promenade Deck shortly.

We have some fun things planned today. We are taking a cooking class taught by the Head Chef of the speciality restaurant on board (called the Pinnacle Grill). This is a "hands on" class, and should be lots of fun. The Mr, my sister and my parents will all be there too. We are planning to attend a lecture on the history of Hawaii by Kainoa Dela Cruz, our travel guide and renowned lecturer. We met him yesterday - he's very charming and has a wealth of information! The lecture should be a real treat! We are planning to attend an Indonesian Tea this afternoon. Most of the wait staff on Holland America come from Indonesia - they put on a fantastic tea ceremony and I am really looking forward to it. And tonight is our first formal night (break out the tuxes and fancy dresses!) as well as a party with the Captain!

The rocky seas have really curtailed my ability to take pictures (well, pictures that aren't blurry anyway), and I am having some difficulty getting them uploaded. I'll attempt to give you a glimpse later.

Now I am off to write a couple of quick thank you notes and then we are off to enjoy our day!

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Heading to the Boat!

In a few short hours you will be able to see me here!

In fact, if you are looking at about 3:00 Pacific time, you will see us on the top level at the front!  Give us a wave - and if you do, save a photo and email it to me!  ;-)


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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Busy Day

The day before vacation is always busy.  We picked up my sister at lunchtime, had some lunch, got some of my favorite body butter for our trip, got pedicures, picked up my dresses at the tailor and came home to get ready for dinner.

We had an interesting dinner with the whole family tonight.  We ate at Bali Hai, a wonderful Polynesian restaurant which has fantastic views of the San Diego Harbor... you can even see the cruise ship terminal from there!  Good place for the dinner before vacation starts!

I think we are almost ready:
  • Everything packed except the computers and the camera.  We'll save those for morning.
  • Father-in-law scheduled to pick us up at 10:30 tomorrow morning.
  • Ship boarding passes printed, passports and travel docs ready.
  • Need to print out cat care instructions for in-laws.  Though they have taken care of the cats countless times and have three cats of their own, they always want written instructions.
  • Need to pack up the perishables in the refrigerator for in-laws to take home.
  • Need to get some rest!  
Off to bed we go - next time you hear from me, we'll be sailing to Hawaii!  

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Birthday Bowling!

This evening we took time out from our vacation prep (yikes - when am I going to pack???) to celebrate our friend Paul's birthday!!   Paul works for the same company as The Mr and I, and he performed our wedding ceremony.

We met at East Village Tavern and Bowl (for those in San Diego, this is a fun new place to hang) up with Paul and his wife Toni, and friends Jessica and Roy, and Tammy and Doug.

Here's the Birthday Boy, enjoying bowling (as he naturally would, since he won every game...)

This is The Mr about to let loose the ball.  Neither of us is very good at bowling, but we have a good time!
Jessica throws a mean strike!

And I had to get proof that at least at one time in one game, I was winning!!

Hope you have a wonderful birthday Paul!!


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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Countdown to Vacation... 2 Days!

We're getting close to vacation time!  My parents came into town today.   They got the chance to see The Boy test for his next belt in karate (and he passed!  yea orange belt!) before collapsing in their hotel room.  Lucky parents - they have a view of the cruise ship terminal from their hotel!

My sister comes into town Saturday - we'll have a chance to relax for a day... maybe get a pedicure, have dinner with the parents and in-laws, get a good night's sleep, and then... Anchors Aweigh

Now if I can just get through work tomorrow.....

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Decorating for Easter!

I love to decorate for all of the seasons and holidays.  This year, we haven't got much time between St. Patty's Day and Easter (and we will be sailing to Hawaii for 15 days of that time) so I need to get my decorations up as quickly as possible if I want to enjoy them!

Here's a preview - aren't these Easter-y and Spring-y?!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Setting a St. Patrick's Day Table

I like to set my dining room table for the season or for holidays. We have a small formal dining room, suitable really only for intimate dinner parties, and it works very well for decorating! I like that it can be seen from the living room and from our informal dining room.

Here's our tablescape, complete with Irish coffee glasses!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

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Monday, March 16, 2009


This week's I Faces theme is "Green". The Boy is excited for this year's St. Patty's Day (though you wouldn't be able to tell from this photo!) Check out I Faces for some amazing pictures!

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Counting the Days

This time next week my view could be something like this.  We are ready for this much needed vacation.  The Mr and I are so fortunate to have my sister and my parents with us on this trip.  

Sis needs the relaxation and family time of this trip quite a lot this year.  Though she is recovering very well from her surgery, she has quite a summer ahead.  She will be starting her chemo the Friday after we get back.  She has 3 months of chemo and then 2 months of radiation.  I'm glad we'll all have the chance to get together before she has to start this arduous journey.

Hawaii - here we come!

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Celebrating Pi Day!

Yes, we are big-time geeks at our house.  We try not to let it show too much, but on days like today, when it is Pi Day, we just can't help it!    Pi is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi = 3.1415926535... Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14th.

To celebrate this auspicious occasion, we had Chicken Pot Pi....

... and Moon Pi!!

Yummy, and fun!  We'll have to have a real blowout in 2015.  I'm sure all my geek-friends will be excited about that year!

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Lasagna For Lent

Tomato and Pepper Lasagna

This is a really delicious, filling and healthy dish.  We used whole wheat pasta and thought it tasted very good.  This is great for a Friday in Lent for those who don't eat meat.  The Boy even liked it... mostly (which I think is fairly high praise from him).

24 oz marinara sauce
1 cup(s) canned diced tomatoes, fire-roasted, drained
1 cup(s) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup(s) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup(s) shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup(s) fat-free egg substitute
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
6 item(s) dry lasagna noodles, regular or whole-wheat
1/2 cup(s) roasted red peppers, water-packed, cut into thin strips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. 

In a small pot, combine marinara sauce and tomatoes; set over low heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses; stir to combine. Stir in egg substitute, salt, pepper and oregano.

Spoon 1 cup of sauce in bottom of an 11- X 7-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 2 lasagna noodles over sauce, down center of dish. Spread half of cheese mixture (about 1 cup) over noodles; top with pepper strips. Place 2 more noodles on top; spread with remaining cheese mixture. Top with 1 cup of marinara sauce; place remaining 2 lasagna noodles on top. Spoon remaining sauce over top and gently press down on lasagna.

Cover dish loosely with aluminum foil; bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake until sauce is lightly browned and noodles are tender when tested with a knife, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes to firm up slightly. Slice into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Catching Up Tuesday

First things first. My sister is doing really well after her surgery. She said her throat still hurts (making me wonder if the surgeon knew where they were supposed to do the surgery?? ;-) ) but other than that is mostly OK. She gets to recover from that (and go on our cruise to Hawaii!) and then radiation and potentially chemo. Thanks again for all your support - your kind thoughts and prayers really mean a lot to my sister, my family and to me.

With that unpleasant and stressful experience over, we can focus on our upcoming vacation! 11 days! My to-do list is long - here's a start...

  • Packing list (mostly done)

  • Formal dresses are at the tailor (she promised I would have them back by next Thursday)

  • Finish the Cruise Shirts (my sister's logo is perfect! now just need to get them printed)

  • Get camera equipment ready

  • Finish booking shore excursions and planning tour itineraries (anyone have ideas on what to do for one day in Kona or Lahaina?)

  • Finalize Meet & Greet for cruise website group (this has been tons of fun in the past - and we generally get to meet the Hotel Manager - the 2nd in command of the ship, Cruise Director, Food and Beverage Maanager... and maybe this time even the Captain! We've also had lots of invitations to personal tours of the ship and private parties because of these meetings)

  • Make sure "Cat Care" instructions are up to date (in-laws are taking care of the fur-babies while we are gone)

  • Schedule "surprise" on-board gift for The Mr

That's the beginning - I better get on it!

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Creative Crop!

Once again this week, I have entered the weekly photo contest on a great site - I Faces! This week's theme is "Messy Creative Crop". I can't tell if my entry is creative or not, but it is cropped. Check out I Faces for some amazing pictures!



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Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Big "Thank You" to My Blogfriends!!

Thank you all so much for your kind words, thoughts and prayers yesterday.  You all are the very best!

My sister came through her surgery very well and all indications show that the cancer has not spread!    We are all so thankful and relieved!

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Good Thoughts Needed....

Please keep my sister in your thoughts and prayers today as she undergoes surgery for breast cancer.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I Need Your Help!!

I need help narrowing down my three best nature pictures. I've been able to get down to the 14 below - and now I need your help. Can you comment on which are your favorites? I'd love to know what you all think!! (Let me know if there are any problems viewing these images... this was not an easy layout for blogger!)

Pink Flower with Greens

Seagull Walks Away

Seagull in the Sun


Yellow and Red - Close!

Sunset with Bird

Bird Standing in the Water

Orange Poppy

Green Vine

Yellow in a Red Field

Green Lizard

Reflection in the Water

Orange Flower with Sky

Pink Flowers in the Sun

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