Since Conor had a business trip in Alabama last week, I took the opportunity to make it back to Spokane again! Now I will preface this post with saying that I am officially becoming my father, and found myself taking numerous scenery photos and not very many "people pictures." I guess I was so excited about all the fall colors and got a little carried away.
My first night home, my parents and I headed out to their lake cabin. And christmas came early...Since I'm never home when my parents put up their christmas tree at the lake, they decided to do it early this year so I could help. It doesn't even need to be said that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE christmas, but typically I do wait until the day after Thanksgiving to begin any christmas festivities and decorating. This year I made an exception. While my dad made a huge fire (my 1st of the year) my mom & I put up all the ornaments. This tree is themed to fit our cabin, having lots of lake-ish ornaments. One of our favorite stores: Christmas at the Lake in Coeur d'alene. We even started a new Christmas puzzle (there's always a puzzle in the works at our cabin, countless hours are spent by everyone over that table). It was such a fun and cozy night.
The weather was perfect...for me....with a chilly breeze and a few rainy days. I actually enjoy the rain, and now living in a place where those days are few and far between, I appreciate them even more. Arizona has a little too much sunshine for me! The trees were gorgeous, full of color, one of the best autumns Spokane has had in awhile.
Sunday night we had a big family dinner to celebrate my birthday! It was so nice to have my whole family together. Our good family friends, the Crumbs, even made an appearance for drinks, along with my Uncle Tom & Cousin Taylor. On the menu: Miller's Ham (who knew Spirit Lake makes the best hams in all the land) seasoned with cloves and glazed with raisin sauce, gorgonzola & thyme potatoes, and a pomegranate salad...mmm! My mom had the house beautifully decorated for Autumn. My favorite part: her tablescape...Sandra Lee has nothing on Shari Simpson!
For the first time in Simpson family history, we ran out of wine! There is usually a good stock in the household at all times, and even though we were prepared for this event, there still wasn't enough. Partly because my Dad has finally been converted and joined the rest of us in our love of the red stuff. It's safe to say that fun was had by all.
While home, I actually bartended at my brothers' bar for a day. It had been about 2 years since I was behind the bar, so I was a little rusty. But pretty quickly I was back in my groove and slinging drinks! A few of my favorite customers came to see me back in action, which made my day go by quickly. It was nice to be there again and thinking of all the concoctions I could make. I spent half the day deciding what I would have as my after work drink...thoughts of lemon drops, champagne with chambord, bloody marys, mojitos, and a fine red wine circled my head. Also while working, I got to decorate the bar for Thanksgiving. I'm pretty pleased with my handiwork, even though it's kinda hard to see!
Later in the week, I had the pleasure of joining my mom's book club. It was a lovely afternoon full of wonderful women, great discussion, and delicious food...and don't forget the wine! My mom's friend Patti Stifter was the host this week. This women is incredible, and has become a dear friend of mine as well. I look up to her and admire her, and enjoy any opportunity I get to sit down and chat with her. We had lentil soup, blue cornbread muffins, and some delicious salad for lunch. Now lentils were on my DO NOT eat list, but I gave it a try and loved it! It's always exciting for me, when I can add a new food to my repetoire. This month, the group read Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. Some of the women really enjoyed it, while others (like me) found the book entertaining, but wouldn't necessarily recommend it. As I continue thru more books on my kindle, I'll update my reading list when I have a few books worth recommending to others.
The rest of trip was spent running errands with my mom, seeing friends, and eating some incredible meals. There's times I feel like this blog is more about all the amazing food I eat, instead of what's going on with Conor & I, but food is our passion....so hear I go again. On Tuesday I went out to dinner with Grandpa (I do this every Tuesday that I am in Spokane, it's become our tradition and something I look forward to). My mom always comes to, as Tuesday is the night that she always goes and sees him. My brother, Jon, and his _______? lady friend? Shalan also joined us this time. We went to Geno's (near Gonzaga) as always. This is my favorite italian restaurant in Spokane. If you have never been, I suggest you check it out! It's nothing fancy, just good authentic food. The atmosphere is so unique with two seperate dining rooms, low lit with candles on the red and white checkered table cloths. There is an old jukebox right inside the front door, which was one of the hightlights when I was younger. Their house soup is to die for...no use describing it, you just have to try this little drop of heaven for yourself. I suggest going straight for the bowl, because the cup always leaves me wanting more. I also suggest getting a large carafe of Chianti! The thin crust style pizza is simple but to die for. And any place that can offer me spumoni at the end of the meal is a winner in my book. This restaurant has been around for a long time, and remains in operation by the same family. Geno himself opened it up, and now his daughter Gina runs it. I hope the younger generations continue to support it, so that I may be able to take my kids there someday.
Another night, my dad took my mom and I out to dinner at Gordy's Sichuan Cafe. This little gem is hidden on the South Hill, near Grand & 29th. It's a very small place and typically has a long wait. Lots of people get take-out for this reason, but I just don't think it's the same. My to-die-for dishes on the menu: lemon chicken & dandan noodles. Both so good, you will never have anything like them. A bottle of wine tops of the meal nicely, and I love the orange slices that come with the check.
Before I flew back to Phoenix, my mom and I had lunch at Mizuna in downtown. This was only my 3rd visit to the restaurant, but I have been pleased everytime. The building has exposed brick walls, which I am obsessed with and wish I could put them in my own house. The hardwood floors and marble tabletops only add to it's cozy atmosphere. The menu changes constantly with the seasons and is vegetarian & vegan friendly! Winter is the perfect time to visit this restaurant, especially to take a break from Christmas shopping since it's right across the streat from Macy's. It's good to support your local businesses and stay away from the chains!!!