Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apple Pickin'

This past weekend, we headed up to Ellijay, Georgia with my family to go apple picking.  This is a tradition started by my parents and sister/Dave but Ben and I have always had a conflict whenever they went in the past.  Soooo, now that Wyatt is old enough to enjoy this type activity they made sure to plan around us being able to attend.

Apparently there are several orchards up in Ellijay and we went to Hillcrest.  There was much more to this place than an apple orchard -- petting zoo, tractor rides, etc.

When you walk into the place, its kinda kitchy, but they did have a bunch of old antique tractors that are there for kids to climb on and take pictures, I suppose.  Wyatt LOVED this blue tractor because he could reach the wheel!  He was a little overwhelmed by everything at first, but really enjoyed sitting on this tractor and posing for pictures.

We also posed for the obligatory family picture in the wagon. 

Then it was off to the petting zoo.  As you can see, Wyatt wasn't quite sure what to think of all the animals.  All he wanted to do is run around!

After the petting zoo, we tried out the slide.  Wyatt didn't really care about this one way or the other but Ellie sure did!

At this point *someone* in our group was just famished so we took a lunch break.  (I'm not going to name names here, but I'll give you one hint that it wasn't one of the babies ...)

After lunch we walked around the orchard for a bit until it was time for the pig races. Yes.  You read that correctly.

Then, Wyatt discovered a new escape route from his stroller!  Guess we can't be so lax anymore about buckling him in.

We went on a little tractor ride all around the orchard, which I was nervous about because Wyatt doesn't really like being held in my lap -- he wants to run.

Despite my concerns, he was very happy during the ride especially when Meme started making him laugh.  (Who knew, saying "e-i-e-i-o" was so funny ...)

After the tractor ride, it was well past W's naptime so we walked around the orchard a little more and let him play. (Rereading that sentence, it makes zero sense!  But, generally if he is outside and running around he's happy even if he is sleepy)

He was so happy running around and picking up "balls"

It was a fun day, but at this point it was well past nap time and we loaded up the car to go home.

Wyatt was zonked before we pulled out of the parking lot!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Crock Pot Cooking

I loooove to cook, and I love to try new recipes.  Things other than pork chops, and beef aren't usually met with such enthusiasm in my house but that is a whole nother' conversation for a whole nother' day.  Anyway, so yeah.  Cooking with a 15 month old running around?  Not quite so easy.  We've adapted and somehow I'm able to get a meal on the table each night.

One thing I've attempted in order to combat the whole toddler thing is to use my crock pot for our main course and then its usually pretty simple to throw together a side dish or two.  But you know something about crock pot cooking?  Everyone talks about how foolproof it is, and its so wonderful and all but I seriously can't figure out how to make it work for my situation.

I have only one. ONE recipe that I know will work for me in a crock pot.  ONE.  I've tried dozens and there is only one that actually works for me.  Its a BBQ recipe and its awesome. 

Anyway, here is the thing - although I have a smart crock pot, most recipes need to cook for about 6 hours.  That is fine and all, but I leave my house at 7am and we don't eat dinner until 7 or 7:30 each night.  So, when the 6 hour cooking is complete, the crock pot shifts to a 'keep warm' setting and my food sits like that until dinner time?  My main problem with that is that it ends up overcooking the meat but I also find it pretty gross that my food has basically been sitting under a warmer for 6+ hours after it has cooked.  

Am I the only one with this problem?  Does anyone who works full-time have success with crock pot cooking?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monterey - Day 4

Sad panda.  This is the last day of our trip :(

In all honesty, this was probably the perfect amount of time for a trip.  We were probably on the verge of overstaying our welcome at Carrie and Burke's and Ben and I were definitley ready to get back home to Wyatt.  (Who had changed so much in the time we were away!)  

Ben and Burke had an early tee time so they got up and went out golfing.  While they did that, the rest of our crew went to this massage place called Happy Feet.  Its not what it sounds like.  (Doesn't that sound like its an Asian Massage place?  Well, actually it was.  But not that kind) (At least I don't think so)  Anyway.  The place was a far cry from Pebble Beach or Bernardus, but for the price it was a really great massage!

After our massages and golf, we all headed back to the casa to get showered and dressed for the day.  The guys hadn't had a chance to see the seals or Cannery Row so we decided to walk down there to have lunch and do a couple more wine tastings that afternoon.

Of course I made everyone stop on the way to take pictures.

Forced Ben to pose for this cheesy picture. 

Then we went to lunch at a place on the water called Schooner's.  It was a gorgeous day, and we were able to sit outside.  I could seriously get used to lunching like this every day.  Here is Ben with his mojito! 

You need to see a closeup of that mojito.  It was sooooo good.  If I were into day drinking, I would have ordered one for myself.

And, this thing?  Was ridic.  It was called a Mint Chocolate Chip Mud Pie -- not really sure that I would have called it a mud pie, but regardless it was killa.

Ben and I walked around taking more pictures after lunch while everyone else got annoyed waited for us.  

We had avoided Cannery Row on our way to lunch mainly because we were hungry and didn't want a bunch of tourists to slow us down in getting there so we did walk back down through Cannery Row to a couple of wine tasting rooms.

We had big dreams of stopping in at Ghiradelli and/or the frozen yogurt place but after our huge lunch and desserts, we just couldn't do it.  We did stop to take a picture with this poor guy dressed up as an ice cream (?)

So, the thing in Monterey is not to go to actual wineries -- instead you go to tasting rooms.  In the case of the first one we went to on Sunday, Taste of Monterey, they actually just bring in a selection of wines from various wineries all over Monterey.  That way you're not really as limited to one bottler.  We had pretty much ruined our palates with the dessert, so none of us were over the moon about anything we tasted there.

Next stop: Scheid.  We all ate a bunch of crackers once we got there and I guess it cleared up our palates, because we all liked several of the wines we tried there.

These are wines that you can't really find outside of Monterey, so we ended up buying a few bottles to bring back home.

Also, the pours at Sheid are pretty generous.  That resulted in a few of these pictures ...
Paging team donkey ....

I don't have photographic evidence of this, but it also resulted in Becky asking tens of random strangers to give her a high five.  (And most everyone did ...)

We came back home to get dressed for dinner.  It had been like 5 hours since our last meal so it was time to eat again!  (Is it obvious that we ate well?)

Before dinner though, we stopped off at Pebble Beach to buy some things in the Pro Shop

Of course I had my camera and insisted that we get a group picture.

Then off to dinner at a fabulous Italian place in Carmel.  I can't remember the name but it was sooooo good.  Legit too, they made all their own mozzarella, prosciutto, pasta, etc. 

We had very early flights the next morning, so that pretty much wraps up the trip.  Thanks again to Carrie and Burke for hosting us.

And thanks again to my parents for keeping the little dood ...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monterey - Day 3

What day are we on?  Saturday, I believe.

So, the guys had another round of golf scheduled at Spanish Bay and the girls had spa appointments at Bernardus out in Carmel Valley.  We actually had a pretty laid back morning - slept (relatively) late and got up in time for Burke to whomp us up a fantastic steak and egg and veggie breakfast.  After breakfast, Carrie, Becky and I walked down to see the seals and to see Cannery Row.

Those seals STINK so badly, but it was neat to see so many of them hanging out on the beach.  Its hard to tell in my pictures but there were a bunch of them swimming and playing in the water as well.

After the seals, we kept walking a bit over to Cannery Row.  It is VERY touristy, but still a must see when you're in Monterey.  Carrie pointed out some tasting rooms that she wanted to take us to, and we shopped a little for souvenirs for Wyatt.  And of course, we had to pose for a few pictures.

Meanwhile, the guys went off to Spanish Bay.  I believe this picture was taken before they teed off.

We didn't get to see any of this course, but based on the pictures it looks pretty picturesque just as Pebble Beach was.  There were also deer.

Lots of deer.  And they don't care - they don't move out of the way for some silly little golfers ...

After our walk on Cannery Row, we headed out to Carmel Valley to the Bernardus Spa.  I would say that when we left Pacific Grove, it was in the highish 60's and we drove about 10 miles away to Carmel Valley where it was mid-70's.  Crazy.  Anyway, we all 3 had fantastic massages.  A super sweet lady named Robin (Do you smell my sarcasm?  Robin was a lot of things but she wasn't super sweet) helped us out after the massage and ordered our lunch to be served poolside.  I think we're still waiting on this food to be delivered, aren't we girls?

Since we didn't really have any plans for the afternoon and we knew the guys would be tied up golfing, we took the opportunity to just lounge at the pool all afternoon.  It was perrrrrfect!

We then got showered and dressed for the evening and headed back down to Pebble Beach/Spanish Bay to meet the guys at a bar to watch some college football and have a little dinner. 

We arrived just in time for the bagpiper.  Pretty awesome.

It was a fun day, we didn't do a whole lot that night except drink wine which led to a hilarious game of Taboo. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Monterey - Day 2

This was probably my favorite day of the whole trip.  Because of that, I have tons of pictures, so I'll try to keep my words to a minimum.  Before we left for the trip, everyone told us that we needed to take the drive out to Big Sur.  So we did (poor Carrie and Burke -- I think they have to do this with everyone who comes to visit!)

We started off the day with a pretty intense drive along winding coastal-mountain roads up to this adorable restaurant in Big Sur called Neptenthe.  We ended up getting a great table outside on the patio -- right on the cliff looking down 800 something feet to the sea (correct me if I'm wrong ... not quite sure about the elevation).  Anyway, the food was amazing.  Not to pick favorites, but this was one of my favorite meals of the entire trip.  I wish I had a food picture, but I had the BEST heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad that I've ever had in. my. life.

After lunch, we did hang around to take a few pictures at Nepenthe before heading back down the coastline to do a few scenic stops before wine tasting in Carmel Valley.

I made Ben pose for this one! 
The drive was once again, intense, and this picture kinda gives you perspective -- a section of road literally crumbled into the ocean a few weeks ago so now that part of the highway is one-lane.  Scary!

The drive drove one passenger to drinking ... (i'm probably going to get in trouble for posting this but since he doesn't read my blog he'll never know.  unless his wife tells him, which she probably will)

We stopped to take some scenic pictures.  Is the view not breathtaking?

We then stopped at this little beach and decided to hike down to take photos down there.  We all laughed at this sign on the way down (foreshadowing).

I forced Ben to take this picture too.  We did like 375 takes, and it still didn't turn out like I wanted.  I blame the soft sand, and the fact that white (wo)men can't jump.

I'm seriously trying not to bore you with pictures, but please indulge me ....

A few minutes after posing for a picture on these particular rocks, they became our refuge.

We were all just standing on the beach enjoying the waves when we started to notice them getting pretty big.  One wave in particular we were kinda like "oh wow ... that is big"

then: "oh ... shoot.  its really big."  and we all take off running

Burke, Carrie, and Becky, escaped to higher ground quickly enough.  Wes, Ben and I did not.  We all ended up on these rocks spider-man style!  It was hilarious and I'd give just about anything to have that on video.  Basically, we all realized we were about to get totally soaked and at that point it was every man for himself!  One of the funnier moments of the trip.  We were all pretty winded by that point and headed back to the car.

After all the excitement, we headed back down to Carmel Valley for a little wine tasting.  We had the best time and Carmel Valley is gorge!

Burke was good about reading us the tasting notes before each wine we tried.

I  made my own tasting notes.

After all the wine, we figured what could a little more indulgence hurt and got dressed for dinner.

We went to Mission Ranch which was UH-MAZE-ING.  Best meal of the whole trip!  Seriously. 

After dinner, we decided we were all dunzo, and headed back to Carrie and Burke's house to get some rest before another exciting day!  It was a long, but very fun day. 

Also, big HUUUUGE thanks to my parents for keeping Wyatt for us the whole time we were gone!  They were so good to keep sending us pictures and updates each day.  I don't think he missed us one bit, and Ellie sure did keep him well-entertained!