September 29, 2009

Frenchiemoon: Canada, Part 4 - Ottawa

I want to start off this portion of the Frenchiemoon recaps by saying, Miss Chicken don't worry, we loved your city of Ottawa!

When Mr Frenchie and I got to Ottawa we were really excited.

We had planned the Canadian portion of our honeymoon to end in Ottawa, so we could be there for Mr Frenchie's 29th Birthday. You see, the company Mr Frenchie works for gets Marriott hotel benefits, we get a nice room discount and a 20% discount on food. Meaning we could have a fancy Birthday dinner at the Merlot Rooftop Grill, atop the Ottawa Marriott Hotel for a little cheaper than most.

When we arrived at the Marriott to check in, the valet was really nice. He explained how to park the cheapest in the under ground parking, by only paying to "come and go as we pleased" on the days we knew we would need the car etc. We parked the car, grabbed our luggage and made our way to the front desk. This is where our trip went sour, some how our reservation had been mixed up, according to their computer we were supposed to have checked in the night before. The girls at the front desk was very rude and unsympathetic. She told us we would be charged for the night before. We explained to her there was no way we would have booked our reservation for the day before because today was Mr Frenchie's birthday and we had always planned on arriving on that day. We were told we could come tomorrow and speak to the desk manager, who may, or may not, be here between these hours... um, thanks?

Trying not to let this ruin our day we took our keys and went to drop our luggage off in our room. I entered the room first and quickly realized we had been given 2 full sized beds. Romantic no? Mr Frenchie immediately called down to the front desk and got the same girl.

"Oh, it's your honeymoon AND your birthday? Yeah, well we don't care." Was basically the response we received. We could get a new room for an additional charge (per night) but we figure, it was our honeymoon after all, we could sleep snugly. After a potty break I decided to call and make a reservation for dinner. Since the Merlot Rooftop Grill is only open for dinner, I had to call the front desk and again we got the same girl. I didn't care what time we ate dinner, I just wanted to make a reservation near the window, it's a revolving restaurant after all. Apparently, they cannot guaranty a window seat and she wouldn't let me know if I could come and hang out in the bar long enough to get one.

Her: "We cannot guaranty a window seat. "
Me: "I understand that but do you think if we got there early enough and waited in the bar we'd have a better chance of getting one?"
Her: "We cannot guaranty a window seat."

How I detest poor customer service! By the way, Mr Frenchie comes up as Marriott corporate through the discount. Why anyone would be this rude to someone who works for corporate? I don't know.

We decided to get out of the hotel and roam the streets of Ottawa, I was determined to improve Mr Frenchie's birthday.

Ottawa is a beautiful city...
Our favorite part was the Rideau Canal and Locks, North America's oldest operating 19th-century canal. Most of the locks are still cranked open the old-fashion way, by hand!

Also, Mr Frenchie, finally, got his Canadian mall experience. To answere Mrs Mouse's questions, Mr Frenchie did not want to go to a Canadian mall in hopes of seeing Robin Sparkles, he just wanted to see how it differed from those in the states. One store he found that we're sad isn't in the states is RW&CO. Total bummer too because he looks damn good in their stuff.

On our way back to the hotel from the mall we spotted a Bride and Groom! It was so exciting seeing an newly married couple on our honeymoon.
We yelled, "Congratulations!" to them as they passed. Any chance she's a Weddingbee reader?

Back to the hotel I was able to speak to the hostess of Merlot Rooftop Grill and she assured me that we would have no problem getting a window seat, especially if we didn't mind waiting in the bar. Mr Frenchie and I got into our fancy clothes and headed to the roof.

Our dinner Merlot Rooftop Grill was fantastic!
Oh, how I want that soup again, everyday! It was SO TASTY!

We had ordered Cheesecake (Mr Frenchie's favorite, if you haven't figured that out by now) to take back to the room, so they brought us a mini Happy Birthday dessert.

We went back to our room, had our cheesecake and tried to sleep in one of the full sized beds. It was the worst night's sleep we've had in a long time :( The next morning we both had sore backs and couldn't imagine spending another night in that hotel, let alone paying for it. We decided to leave a day early and go back to Vermont. It was the BEST decision we could have made!

Up Next: The rest of our Honeymoon in Vermont.

September 28, 2009

Sheldon's Adventures: Palm Springs

As you know, two weekends ago, the Hubs and I went to Palm Springs.... we brought Sheldon, of course.

Sheldon with his buddy, Chirpie Bird, cruisin' out to the desert.

Sheldon was a little nervous for his first trip down Ortega Highway!

Starting off the weekend right with some Trader Jose Beer.

...and Bob Marley.

He even had a cookie to celebrate Joe's Birthday...

Don't worry, he had help!

All in all it was a good weekend, even if he was gnome-gnapped for a bit.

Happy Travels :)

September 25, 2009

Fancy Pasta - Squash Pasta Carbonara

A twist on this recipe found on Simply Recipes.

Food picture taking mental note #3 - Don't take pics outside at night.

Squash Pasta Carbonara
posted by Elise on Simply Recipes
Serves 4

3/4 pound egg noodles
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 summer squash, yielding 4 cups chopped squash (I used butternut and Acorn squash)
Salt and pepper
4 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup basil leaves, sliced thin*

* To slice the basil leaves, chiffonade them by stacking basil leaves on top of each other, roll them up into a cigar shape, starting at one end and working your way down the "cigar" take thin slices from the end.

1) To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water (one tablespoon of salt for 2 quarts of water).

2) As the water for the pasta is heating, prep your vegetables and heat olive oil and butter on medium high in a large sauté pan. Working in batches, lay pieces of sliced prosciutto down in the pan. Fry gently on both sides until just lightly browned (no more than a minute, more likely 30 seconds each side, the prosciutto is very thin), remove from pan with tongs or a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once cool, tear into bite-sized pieces. Reserve oil in the pan.

3) Add pasta to boiling salted water. The pasta should take about 10-12 minutes to cook until al dente (cooked but still a bit firm), which is just about the right amount of time you'll need to cook the vegetables. Cook with a rolling boil, uncovered.

4) While the pasta is cooking, add the onions, garlic, and summer squash to the sauté pan that you had used to cook the prosciutto. The heat should be medium high. Stir the vegetables so that they are all coated with oil from the pan, then spread them out in the pan, generously salt and pepper them. Cook until they are just lightly browned, stirring only occasionally. Remove from heat.

5) In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and mix in the grated Parmesan and lemon zest.

6) When the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the squash and onions (or add the veggies to the pasta, depending on the size of your pans). Pour the egg, Parmesan, lemon zest mixture over the pasta mixture and quickly stir in with a wooden spoon. The heat from the pasta will sufficiently cook the eggs. Add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water if it looks a little dry. Stir in the prosciutto and basil.

7) Garnish with more basil and grated Parmesan.

Tip - I would cut the skin of the squash when you prepare you vegetables. We left the skin on, it's still VERY tasty, but I think it would be more enjoyable without the skins.

Frenchiemoon: Canada, Part 3 - Montreal

Caution: One of these photos may not be suitable for work.

The most exciting part about the two FULL days we spent in Montreal, (besides our free breakfast, and happy hour) was the into a museum I'd seen in our travel book. Pointe-à-Callière, was just 3 blocks down the street from our hotel, it was nice not to need our car to get somewhere.
Yes, they had a Pirate exhibit, and we made it there too, but our favorite exhibit was the Archaeological site below the museum. The exhibit was amazing, Mr Frenchie kept thanking me for thinking of coming to this museum. There is something incredible about learning the history of the very spot you are standing. If you ever find ourself in Montreal I cannot recommend this exhibit highly enough.

The next day when were off exploring again, the museum had set up an old farmer's market.

The most fun was seeing how the had tied it into the exhibit we'd seen the day before.

Even excited in the rain! I'm horrible with history, so I was probably more exited because the whole market made sense to me.

The rest of our time in Montreal we finally found Mr Frenchie's Starbucks.

We realized when he was going to order that is standard coffee with an inch of cold soy wouldn't work with their metric system. He felt really silly saying it in centimeters.

We saw some interesting shops...

Yes, those are what you think they are.

Um... yeah, this Christmas store wasn't as cool as we thought it would be. But, it was good for a laugh.

Sadly, because of our day of rain, we didn't make it to a few places we wanted to see. Mount Royal, the Biodome,

But, as you can see, we did get to see them from afar. (Pixel City was my favorite it was across the river from our hotel).

Did weather keep you for any activities you wanted to do or places you wanted to go on your honeymoon?

Up Next: Ottawa and why we cut our trip in Canada short.

Five for Friday

Previous Fridays

This past week has just been one of those weeks... you know, where you don't feel well, you're tired and the drivers on the road are always in your way. The Hubs was been more than great this week to make me feel better.

1 - You give me kisses on my soar throat
2 - You encourage me in school
3 - You help me as much as possible so I can get my homework done
4 - You make me laugh
5 - You make me relax

September 22, 2009

Easy Peasy: Blue Cheese & Honey Toasts

This past weekend the Hubs and I went to Palm Springs with another couple. One of the Hubs friends (and groomsmen) just bought an AWESOME new condo in Palm Springs with his girlfriend, so we stopped at their place for dinner on Friday night.

I'm not gonna lie, there place is AWESOME! Totally mid century modern. I would live there in a heartbeat if it wasn't in the desert, it's just too hot out there more me.

Anyway, Tiffany (Jeremiah/Groomsman's girlfriend... you following) made us the tastiest dinner with a really yummy and simple appetizer. I thought I'd use Tiffany's apps to kick off a little something I'm going to call "Easy Peasy". These will be tried, true and easy recipes, that I love.

Blue Cheese & Honey Toasts

1 loaf French Bread (I prefer Trader Joe's Par-cooked French Bread)
Blue Cheese

1 - Slice the bread in rounds with desired thickness, I like about a 1/4"
2 - Put blue cheese on top of bread rounds
3 - Place cheese and toasts under broiler until the bread starts to toast on the ends
4 - Drizzle honey over cheese and toasts
5 - Enjoy!

Frenchie Kisses: We've Been Blogged!

Warning: Lot of exclamation points ahead!!!

Yesterday, almost a month on the nose (Happy Monthaversary Hubs!) we got the best news on Twitter - We've been Blogged!

Ohana Photography's images from our wedding are blowing me away! They would like you to believe is the photo above they "brought the light and [we] brough the awesome". No, guys you brought BOTH!

Here are a few of our favorites, like my Favorite of the Hubs...

Watch out Don Draper!

His favorite of me...
Apparently I wrinkle my nose when I smile really big, Thanks Kimi!

Our favorite...
I got my flutter...


and ring shots that put mine to SHAME!

Want to see more? Check out the whole blog here and leave them some love, they deserve it!

September 19, 2009

How 'bout now?

Since The Hubs and I got married, two commons question have been, "Do you feel different?" and (because getting married also met moving in together) "How is it, living together?"

Do I feel different? A little. Our officiant told us that after she pronounced us Husband and Wife and we walked back done the aisle we would feel different. She said, "It's the best feeling, I'm so excited for you."

I'm content and I feel peaceful... that sounds weird, but there you have it. I'd say I feel more relaxed in my relationship with the Hubs. I can't really think of any other way to explain it but I know he's there and he knows I'm there and it will always be that way to matter what life throws at us. That really is the best feeling :)

How is it, living together? Guess what guys? I live with a boy. It's not too shabby. the Hubs' told me he never had any concerns about living with me (I had to be better than his past roommates) and neither did I. We're both pretty clean, some of us (me) more than others (him), but it works. I have a cooking partner in crime. I'm not drinking wine alone after work, we can go out on our terrace (we like to call our balcony a terrace) and drink together. The best part, at the end of the day I don't have to hop in my car and go home, I'm already at home!

However, living with the Hubs was ever my concern. My concern was moving. Confession - I do not to well with change. True story - I moved to Huntington Beach about a year before I met the Hubs. The difference in my commute and not knowing where everything was, turned out to be such a shock to my system that I had a major anxiety attack and moved back. I was really worried I would freak out about living in a new place. However, I'm in a much better place in my life and, as I've explained before, our place is in a great location. I have pretty much the same commute, I know where everything is AND I'm actually closer to my favorite grocery store and other things. The best part is, I have the Hubs. He can tell when something is wrong, he asks me how I'm doing, gives me a hug and tells me everything is going to be alright and he's here. He's here, I don't know why I was ever concerned.

So, there you have it, almost one month into being married and not much to report. Does it feel different? Yes, a little. How is it living with a boy? Great!

Did you feel much different once you were married?

September 18, 2009

Frenchiemoon: Canada, Part 2 - Quebec City/Montreal

Let's see where did I leave off?

The second day in Quebec City was interesting. We started off the day trying to find Starbucks coffee and/or Breakfast. Mr Frenchie wanted nothing more than to find a Starbucks and, interestingly, go to a Canadian Mall. (My husband is a little weird). At this point I still hadn't quite grasped how badly the Hubs wanted to see a Canadia mall so I tried to avoid it. We ended up going to breakfast/lunch at St Hubert, or as we like to call it Shaky Finger Chicken.
Reminds me of someone I know...

You know I love you CC! (Source)

St Hubert was probably the only unpleasant experience we encountered with the French Speaking Canadians... that and we disagreed on what is considered good iced tea. BLECK! is all I really have to say about the iced tea I encountered in Canada. I shake my finger back at that bird and say that was NOT iced tea. There was a little mix up on the sugar content of the iced tea they served, they said it had no sugar and I (and the bottle it came from) strongly disagreed. I will say, however, my sandwich wasn't too bad.

After brunch(?) we drove down Grande-Allée, described as the “Champs Élysées” of Québec City.
The street was super cute and we had grand plans of walking back up the street later for dinner, but I got a blister from my new Coach tennies and we decided to stay closer (and cheaper).

Back inside our fortified city, I changed into my tennies (that would later give me a blister) and we walked around the streets near our hotel.

I could totally live here!

And shop here!

How cute is this place?!?

We walked all the way over to Fairmont Le Château Frontenac for a fancy drink.

On our way in we past the CUTEST wool sharf and sheep shop. I'm kicking myself because I can't find the shop owner's card right now (I'll have to think of another Christmas present for Mama Frenchie), but the name of the shop was Lambert & Co.

I'm totally wearing that outfit as I'm typing this!

The sheep were really soft and made with really curly sheep's wool. She also made smaller sheep with yarn made from the same wool. (Dang it! Where is that card?) After our drink we ate our cheapest Canadian dinner at L'omelette and then went on a mission for Cheesecake.

The next morning we drove to Montreal...

The Hubs printed the directions to our hotel, Auberge Du Vieux Port, from the computer in the hotel lobby. We didn't realize until we were all packing in our rental and on our way, that the directions he printed were in French. Luckily, it was very easy to figure out, so it was more funny, than anything.

On our way to Montreal we stopped to get food at a Tim Hortons. We'd seen there signs along the side of the road and thought, "Well it can't be any worst that PFK (KFC) or McDonalds, right?" (P.S. I haven't eaten at a McDonalds in 8 yrs)

Lemme tell you, I heart Tim Hortons! Where else can I get a sandwich (for me), a doughnut (for Hubs) and a coffee (for Hubs) in a combo? Nowhere I've been in California.

We got to our amazing hotel around mid afternoon, settled into our hotel room and updated my Twitter status... what?

The hotel staff was extremely nice at this hotel! We were given a free Jazz CD when we checked in and they left us Maple Chocolates as a "Congratulations" gift, in our room! This was BY FAR my favorite hotel we stayed at on the entire trip, but I am easily swayed by free breakfast (actual breakfast), free wine & cheese happy hour and nice soaps. I'm a sucker for good smelling soaps.

Once we were settled in (and the Twittersphere knew what I was up to) we went to our free wine and cheese Happy Hour and found dinner down the street. The Hubs was very excited to find a place with a drink and lasagna deal (lasagna is his favorite).

Up Next: More Montreal!

Five for Friday

Previous Friday

1 - You made me dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I could work on my homework... and it was TASTE-EEE
2 - You leave me the covered parking spot, and you have the better car
3 - You're more excited about my blog comments than I am, and that it a LOT
4 - You say my hair is fluffy
5 - You refer to my car by her name, Betty :)

September 17, 2009

My Favies

The Hubs and I are settling into our new apartments and finding a home for all our stuff - old cwrap and shiney new presents. In an effort to spend less money (and because we think its pretty darn fun) we've been cooking at home most nights.

Our first night cooking was pretty interesting, we tried to make tomato soup (to have with paninis) and realized we didn't have a can opener. The next morning, we attempted to make pancakes, and realized we didn't have a spatula. Thankfully, last Friday we were able to open up the remainer of our Wedding presents at Mama and Papa Frenchie's house. Here are a couple of my favorite wedding presents, in case your in need of more things to add to your registry.

1 - Utensil Set - This 10 Piece Utensil Set by OXO has been a lifesaver! Can opener? CHECK! Spatula? Would you like solid or perforated? Because, we have both!

This set comes with a crock (to hold everything), 2 spoons (perforated & solid), fancy nylon headed tongs, 2 spatulas (perforated & solid), can opener, whisk, swivel peeler and a flexible spatula.

2 - Pyrex Set - Mama Frenchie has more Tupperware than you can shake a stick at (well you could actually shake a stick at it, but you would have to back up A LOT to get the whole kitchen in your shaking area) because she attended many a Tupperware party in her day. I don't think they have Tupperware parties anymore, or if they do I haven't been invited to one, and there has been some debate on microwaving food in plastic containers. Our solution was this Pyrex Clear Glass 17-pc. Bake and Store Set from Target.

We've already started storing leftovers in these containers. Plus, it came with a measuring cup! Something we realized we needed when trying to measure ingredients making tomato sauce Sunday night.

3 - Towel Hook - I don't know what man designed the bathroom in our apartment but they put the light switch right below our only towel bar. Thus, making it impossible to find the light switch if you, I don't know, want to hang-up your towels. Before we opened this Cero Spa Over-the-Door Hook Rack from Target, I had to give our guests lesson in where to find the switch before they used the bathroom.

Now, the light switch is super easy to find (it glows) and my towel is closer to the shower, SCORE!

What is your favorite wedding present?

September 16, 2009

Summer Corn Chowder

Before the wedding I started subscribing to MANY cooking blogs on my Google Reader. So much, in fact, that the amount of recipes I'd starred greatly over shadowed those with wedding ideas. The Hubs and I could not wait to start cooking in our very own kitchen!

This past Sunday, after spending an hour in our newly discovered Smart & Final, we cooked a delicious meal. My contribution was from a Grilled Summer Corn Chowder recipe I found on A Year in the Kitchen. I LOVE corn and this just looked to tasty not to attempt. (As you can see I made a few tweaks to her already great recipe).

Grilled Summer Corn Chowder

1 tbsp. EVOO
1 yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
2 large yukon gold potatoes, finely diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
4 c. vegetable stock
4 ears of grilled corn, sliced off the cobb
Splash of cream (the Hubs is lactose intolerant so we used Almond Milk)
Scallions, thinly sliced

Heat in a soup pot over medium - EVOO, garlic, chili powder, onion, garlic, bell pepper, potatoes and carrots.
Season with salt and pepper, stir and cook for 10 minutes.
Add 2 c. vegetable stock, bring to a boil and cover.
Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5-10 more minutes.
Take half of vegetables (in the pot), half of corn and 1 c. reserved vegetable stock to a blender.
Puree until smooth and thick, add vegetable stock if necessary.
Add puree back to the pot with reserved vegetables.
Add cream, almost all the remaining corn, and more stock to reach desired consistency.
Bring to a simmer, ladle into a bowl, top with remaining corn and scallions.

For the corn I boiled/steamed the 4 ears of corn for 30 mins, then cut the corn of the cob and browned it in a pan with a little olive oil and garlic (because we love garlic). It was my way of getting grilled corn without having to heat up the Weber.

** I need to learn to take better pics of my food, and WHIPE the bowl! Jeeze Allison!


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