Friday, January 31, 2014

Last Working Day and More - Week of January 27, 2014

My last working day at SJRPP was Wednesday, the 29th. I didn't do any work, just packed up my office and had Ford along to help. We always give retirees a photo of the plant and lots of co-workers can sign the mat for the frame. Ford has one from over six years ago. I chose the photo with the cooling towers.

My Mom surprised us (okay, she sent it to Alyzabeth) with some maple syrup! Yummy!!
We are getting ready for Chinese New Year and bought items from the local Asian Market and the Oriental Trading Company. Ford will tell a short story about CNY and give out the bags.
Chop sticks, cakes, lollipops, place-mats, red envelops, stickers, book markers, etc.
Leaving the power plant for the last time!
Saying good-bye to Security guard Ted St. Martin (and famous basketball free thrower):
Ford took me to a new local restaurant that has awesome breakfasts and lunches - Metro Diner on Roosevelt - Ortega. Then we went to the River House for a celebratory glass of wine (with our popcorn eating daughter)! All good!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Last Week - Chowder Bowl and More

Last week, I went with AA and Ford to school, to follow their morning routine since I will need to do it alone at times. They have things they do when they get to the parking lot. He always run through her spelling words for the week and she reads a book. Once the first bell rings, they head for the classroom.

I made a new beef and broccoli stir-fry (along with edamane, napa cabbage, mushrooms, celery, etc). The rice noodles were a bit too much but we enjoyed the flavor. I posted a photo of all the new Chinese sauces we bought a few days ago. It really makes a difference than using only soy sauce.
Hubby made a refrigerator cherry cheesecake, which was delicious!
Next, we participated in the River House Chowder Bowl. Our chowder didn't win but most were delicious.
Last Sunday, we went off to church in mostly L.L. Bean clothes (photo below). Here's my description from Facebook: It was a L.L. Bean morning for our church outfits...... AA has three things from L.L. Bean, a skort, blue top and white hoodie; I had on three also, brown twill slacks, my L.L. Bean "fake-Teva's" and a light fleece; Hubby had on three too: his L.L. Bean shoes, Polo top and fleece vest. Yup, cold - 60 degrees outside! Now off to AA's golf tournament!
A few older photos:
AA making friendship bracelets (birthday gift from the Dunham's).

 A letter she received back from Santa:
And above is a picture of AA's first job application. We were playing pet shop and stables and I told her she had to fill out an application to get the job.So cute!
I attended the Local Church Representative Training for the Children's Home (FUMCH) at Lakewood UMC; it is held every year during the District training day. Then I was off to the FUMCH Board retreat on the 27th to discuss the new Madison Youth Ranch (FL). I always want to remember the Staff at the Children's Home, they were so moving when telling about the death of a young boy on the residential campus (of natural causes). They get so attached to these children who have no where to go, no safe home. No loving parents. If you decide that helping children is first and the most important thing to do, go to your local children's home and volunteer. Learn more about the one we support here.
That was our past week of January 18th -  25th!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Magnolia Golf Club - North Florida Golf Academy

Sunday, January 26th, Alyzabeth played in a local tournament at Magnolia Golf Club, Green Cove Springs. It was a coolish day, damp and high 50's.
Below: before the round practicing chipping and a photo of the four girls in the "experienced" level taken by Brian Kibler, The Golf Academy (TGA) of North Florida:

After the tournament, the awards: AA tied for first with Matthew Carlton:
From what I wrote on Facebook (acmaine): Played in the Magnolia Golf Club's North Florida Golf Academy First of Four Tournaments. Met three more girl golfers.The groups were made by handicap, so AA was with the Experienced girls and boys. AA played a good round and won her foursome. She tied for first place overall with a boy but lost in the paper play-off (was too dark outside to have an actual playoff on the course). Tied for first place with kids up to eighth graders. Pretty good!
After the tournament, we were all STARVED! Aiden and Mom Jean Clark met us at a local restaurant and had fun winding down after the tournament!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

America's Test Kitchen - Chinese Lettuce Wraps

We love P. F. Chang's chicken lettuce wraps. We looked for the recipe on and off, but when we saw the America's Test Kitchen (aka Cook's Country Kitchen), we knew we finally had to make it!
We wanted a bit more heat, there is no spiciness to the flavor. Next time we will add more pepper flakes and serve a spicy hot sauce with it.
I used frozen chicken breast, cut into chucks and processed per the 8 - 10 pulses in the food processor. I marinated the chicken for about 6 hours in advance without any problem.
Worked great!
Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps by America's Test Kitchen
This dish, popularized by chain restaurants like P.F. Chang’s is based on a Cantonese dish called sung choy bao. Most recipes for this dish suffer from a similar fate—stringy, tasteless meat drowned in a bland sauce. To remedy this, start with flavorful chicken. Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as an appetizer
To make an entrée, serve this dish with steamed white rice.

    1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
    2 teaspoons Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry
    2 teaspoons soy sauce
    2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (next time may add Chinese chili oil)
    2 teaspoons cornstarch
    3 tablespoons oyster sauce
    1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry
    2 teaspoons soy sauce
    2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
    1/2 teaspoon sugar
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I would double)
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (Iused 4 celery ribs)
    6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin (used fresh button mushrooms sliced thin)
    1/2 cup water chestnuts, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (used canned)
    2 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 head Bibb lettuce (8 ounces), washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole (we used iceberg).
Hoisin sauce

    1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Place chicken pieces on large plate in single layer. Freeze meat until firm and starting to harden around edges, about 20 minutes.
    2. Whisk rice wine, soy sauce, oil, and cornstarch together in bowl. Pulse half of meat in food processor until coarsely chopped into ¼- to 1/8-inch pieces, about 10 pulses. Transfer meat to bowl with rice wine mixture and repeat with remaining chunks. Toss chicken to coat and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
    3. FOR THE SAUCE: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl; set aside.
    4. FOR THE STIR-FRY: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until opaque, 3 to 4 minutes (maybe add a chopped fresh jalapeno next time). Transfer to bowl and wipe out skillet.
    5. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over high heat until smoking. Add celery and mushrooms; cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms have reduced in size by half and celery is crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add water chestnuts, scallion whites, and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
    6. Whisk sauce to recombine. Return chicken to skillet; add sauce and toss to combine. Spoon into lettuce leaves and sprinkle with scallion greens.
Serve, passing hoisin sauce separately.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week Recap and Sunday Stroll January 19th

Greetings! Still amazed at the time flying by, it's 2014!
We received a gift in the mail from cousin Gloria and her daughter Sarah. All yummy snack items from "Go Picnic". We have already tasted the energy bar and the chocolate pillow cookies - delicious! Thank you!

My Mom posted on Facebook about remembering the Beanie Baby craze! Here is a photo of some of the ones she has given us over the years and newer ones to Alyzabeth:
AA keeps them all on your bed, so her bed is really crowded!
Our Sunday stroll was by scooter. Part of a road was recently repaved, so was smooth and made a great scooter mini-park. AA played eight holes of golf today before the rain came, but then it cleared up so went out for this stroll. A very nice winter day!
AA continues to have golf lessons and play locally. Friday, friends Kenny and Pam met us at the River House for drinks and a few homemade appetizers. It was good to catch up on news and details on the pending wedding of their daughter.
A slow weekend for us, we are between golfing tours and originally thought there was one on Sunday, so gave us a free day! We did go to a new restaurant for us (has been around for a few years) called Joey Mozzarella. Ford found it while searching on Trip Advisor and Urban Spoon. Very good pizza and antipasto, large portions so made another meal of it at home.
Sunday (yesterday), it was football playoff games so watched Broncos and Seahawks win. Also, loving that Downton Abbey is back on, with new story lines if a bit too traumatic.

Next up is the Chowder Bowl at the River House, the local District United Methodist training event which includes the Children's Home, then my annual Children's Home Board retreat, Super Bowl Sunday, a Skin Product Rodan and Fields party at Leaa's home, my Mom's birthday along with a few other family birthdays (Jordan, Werner, Hilary, Jesse), our Chinese New Year Celebration with the First Coast FCC families, Valentine's Day, the Kids local spring Golf Tour begins, and then our retirement party at the River House! January and February continue being busy for us!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Saturday Afternoon Fun!

Yesterday (01/11/14), we visited grown daughter's family and brought smoked chickens and a broccoli/cheese/rice casserole for dinner. Had a great visit with Leaa and Marsha, while Jesse worked, continuing to paint the downstairs.
The girls played nicely outside, a great yard with several types of swings for them to use.
Livi (Grand #2) came running in her house, grabbing her camera, saying she was going to take pictures. So I followed her outside and snapped away. Pick your favorite one of AA and Dylan (Grand #3):

Dylan's funny face when we asked her to smile:
Too bad Dylan's eyes were closed, a great photo:
The weather had warmed up to 75+ so enjoyed much outdoor time!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

U.S. Kids Orlando Local Tour and Championship

The Orlando Local Tour finished up on January 05, 2014. We played in three of the events and still won/earned fourth place for the Championship. For the final tournament at Oak Trail course, AA finished second which was EXCELLENT! Isabella placed first by three strokes (okay, she is 10th in the WORLD).
AA has steadily improved each month, each tournament, each lesson. She practices and stays focused, even though golfing is such an individual sport and much inconsistency no matter how good you are. AA did great and even could have done better; it was her best on this day and was enough to pass many girls in her age group.

Daddy Caddie and Daughter:
At the end, the three-some that AA was in: Olivia I. and Ava A.
The award for the tournament, AA finished second:
The Championship Awards (AA was fourth):
Bella won again, she is a terrific golfer and has a great family:
Afterwards, the Dunham's organized a meet up for pizza (three of us families are from the Jacksonville Local Tour). It was great food and the kids had fun relaxing:
AA at home hanging her medal:

We enjoyed the trip! It makes for a busy schedule but most families have kids in several sports or lessons; we have one that requires a little more traveling around.