Friday, August 1, 2008


It's been such a long time! I'm going to play catch up. Here are a few highlights from July:

1. Home to Idaho for the 4th

I love being home. It had been a long 6 months since the last trip. We had such a great time being together over the 4th of July holiday. Everyone in my family was there, except for Beth, whom we really missed. We went to the Melba parade in the morning, had a our traditional sish-ka-bob party at Mom and Dad's in the afternoon and fireworks at Jeff & Joanna's that evening. I love this picture of all of us standing around watching the kids ride Frank. That's my niece Brooklyn there in the background. And these are my brothers, Jeff, Doug and Dan, with me and my dad in the middle.

2. Brian's Cake Decorating Skills - He is such an all-around guy!

This year I was really excited to make the beautiful flag cake I found on my favorite blog of all time, I will forever be in debt to my sister in law, Connie who introduced me to this site. I love the Pioneer Woman. I think we were meant to be bosom buddies. Anyways, I made the cake and the frosting (which contains 2 pounds of butter and a pound and 1/2 of cream cheese! Do you see why the Pioneer Woman and I are so close?) and Brian took over from there. Oh, actually... I did the first two rows of stripes at the very bottom of the cake... the ones that look ridiculous. And that's when Brian took over. And he did a fine job, don't you think? You know, Brian's mom Barbara is a professionaly cake decorator so I don't think Brian deserves all the credit. But thank you Brian for saving the cake, and the day.

Here he is looking so proud... and handsome.

The cake was such a hit, especially with my brother Jeff, that we made it again for little Eli's 1st birthday party.

We sure love Eli! Happy Birthday!

3. Angelica's eSpaghetti Verde

When I go home, I always try to visit my friend Angelica Zavala and her kids, Karina, Christofer & Evelyn. Angelica's husband, Salvador has worked with us on the farm forever. They are a great family and we really love them. Angelica is working on her English and since I'm working on my Spanish, we've become good friends. This visit was especially fun because Angelica, Salvador and the kids were excited to meet Brian. I'm pretty sure they weren't disappointed. Brian is so good with people and especially kids. By the end of the visit, he had them all wound up. They also told him that his Spanish was better than mine. Ah, man!

While we were there I told Brian what a good cook Angelica was. I especially raved about her green spaghetti. I really do love that stuff. It's homemade tomatillo sauce with lots of green chiles and sour cream poured over spaghetti noodles and baked with lots of cheese on top. It's SO tasty!

There's a point to this story, I promise. The next day Jeff invited The Zavalas to Eli's birthday party/bbq. They couldn't make it, but they quietly dropped by with a huge dish of green spaghetti... enough to feed the army. They slipped in and out before anyone even knew they were there. That's Angelica and the Zavala family. Quiet, humble, generous and so kind. I want to be like them.

I wish I had a picture of Angelica or the spaghetti... or the look on my mom's face when she took a big bite and realized when the food was half way down, that it was a little too caliente for her liking!

4. The Kids

Let's be honest. The best part of our trip to Idaho was hanging out with all 6 of my nieces and nephews. They are all such cool kids. I love how different they are. They're so fun and funny, and best of all, they are great kids who have wonderful parents.


5. Boston

We spent the last week of the month in Boston, MA. Brian goes there quite often on official Air Force business. This time he decided to make a vacation out of it by bringing me along. We had such a great time getting to know the city, seeing good friends, and spending time together.

Boston is a beautiful city. I couldn't stop gawking out my window at the trees as we drove around. It was so strange to feel as if I was in the middle of the forest only to see a Nordstrom come out of nowhere. But don't get me wrong. I do love it when a Nordstrom comes out of nowhere. I also loved the large colonial style homes and the amazing history of the city. We stayed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Lexington since the real purpose of the trip was work. While Brian worried himself with national security, I drove around town with my teammate Niki Lee who lives in nearby Winchester.

Niki and her two awesome kids, Porter and Madeleine made sure I had a great time in Boston. Niki's husband Jared is doing his medical residency at Harvard University. They have lived there for over a year and are very familar with all of the best spots to visit. The Lee's took me to Minuteman National Park in Concord where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired. We also toured Luisa May Alcott's home where she wrote the famous book, "Little Women." I happen to love Little Women so I really enjoyed that. A couple of days later we went to Paul Revere Beach just in time to see the sand scultpures. Sadly for me, I forgot my camera and didn't get a single picture the whole trip other than the few I took with my cell phone. However, Niki took lots of pictures which you can see on her blog: The Lee's also made us Sunday dinner, took us to church and gave us great tips for the rest of our trip. What great friends. Thanks so much, Niki!!!

On Saturday Brian and I walked the famous “Freedom Trail,” a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail in Boston’s famous North End that leads to 16 national historic sites. It’s a collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution.

My favorite stop on the trail was the Old North Church made famous on the night of April 18, 1775 when the church sexton, Robert Newman, climbed 14 stories the steeple top and held two lanterns as a signal from Paul Revere that the British were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea and not by land. Hence the famous phrase, “One if by sea, two if by land.” This was the beginning of the American Revolution.

Here is some more information from their website:
“The Old North Church is officially known as Christ Church in the City of Boston. It was built in 1723, and is the oldest standing church building in Boston. In 1775, on the eve of Revolution, the majority of the congregation were loyal to the British King and many held official positions in the royal government, including the Royal Governor of Massachusetts, making Robert Newman's loyalty to the Patriot cause even more extraordinary.”

Finally, I can’t complete this post without letting you all in on some good dining tips. If you’re ever in Boston, you should go to ALL of these places:

- Ernesto’s. While in the Italian District we saw a fellow in the park eating what seemed to be some very delicious pizza. Fortunately, we asked him where he got it because we never would have found it on our own. It was hidden away up a tiny alley and the store-front couldn’t have been more than 6 ft wide. He called it “the best pizza in Boston” with a very thick Bostonian accent. When we walked up to the counter inside, Brian unconsciously imitated his accent while ordering a piece of pizza. I think that was the highlight of my trip right there!
- Mike’s Pastries for the best pistachio macaroons of your life. Also in the Italian District.
- Bedford Farms. A friend of Brian’s recommended we go to this ice cream stand not too far from the base. Wow, I know for a fact that I’ve never had better ice cream. Maybe it’s the 16% butter fat? What do you think?
- Legal Seafood. I tried my first and last mussel here. But the crab cakes were SO good.

6. Summer School

Life can't be all butterflies and rainbows can it? Therefore, I must tell you that we've also been busy with summer school. Brian as a student, and me as a teacher. My 4-hour-a-day summer school class is pretty breezy except for a few trouble-makers, which is only to be expected. But bless Brian's heart, he's been going to class 2 nights a week until 10pm after a full day of work and studying/reading/meeting with classmates the rest of the week. He's doing a great job though, passing the first term with an "A" and getting ready to finish up the 2nd term here in a couple of days. Term 3 will start at the end of this week when we fly to Europe for a 2-week study abroad in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.