Cheers at the Pink Door!

First, the important news. The early report from Mia’s surgery is that it was successful. I look forward to hearing more.

Now, to the mundane news.

This afternoon Melinda and I drove to downtown Seattle, specifically to the Pike Place Market. We wanted to go to a store called the Paris Grocery. Yes, it’s supposed to be a French-like grocery store in Seattle, and we hadn’t yet visited it since returning home in July. While I bought a small amount of smoked duck and was pleased to see duck confit available (the same brand that I bought earlier this week at Metropolitan Market), we weren’t overly impressed with the store. I’d say that less than half of the products there were French imports. Many really had little or nothing to do with France! Still, it was a good start to a pleasant afternoon together.

Leaving the Paris Grocery, we explored the market for a while before heading to the Pink Door for a little late afternoon drink. It was Happy Hour and on the special menu were oysters. We each had three, washed down with a satisfying beverage (as seen in today’s photo).


About Mia, Bellydancing and Warm Thoughts

We learned last week that one of our former students, a young woman named Mia, has breast cancer. She’s only 29 so it’s been quite a shock to everyone who knows her. She asked me to share the news with members of the PSCS community, pointing out that she is having surgery tomorrow and would welcome supportive energy being sent her way around noon Pacific Time. I figured it couldn’t hurt to mention it here tonight, too.

I went searching through one of my PSCS archives to find a photo of Mia from when she was a PSCS student and located this one. She’s the third girl from the left, the tallest of the three students (the instructor is on the far right, face obscured). Yes, we offered a belly dancing class at PSCS. Among many things that make this photo interesting (to me, at least) is that it was taken in the back room of the old Speakeasy Café in Seattle. Great memories.

If you have the interest in learning more about Mia please take a look at the website Stefan, her husband, set up for people to follow her recovery. And if you’re available at around noon tomorrow (that’s 21H00 in France), send a warming hello to Mia, okay?

Tonight’s Dinner

I have spent quite literally hours and hours today organizing and cleaning up my email. I’m looking at recommended links sent to me, including watching videos. Like I said, it is a several hours long endeavor and I still have much more to do.

Among the emails I found is part of an exchange I had back in July (from France) with the manager of our local Metropolitan Market. Knowing I would want duck confit in Seattle, I was trying to track down a place I could buy it. In our email exchange, the manager said that they occasionally carry it and could always special order it. He suggested I call the meat manager to get the full lowdown.

Since the message included a phone number, a direct line to the meat department, I decided to call today. And lo and behold, they had duck confit in stock today! Guess where I went, in between cleaning up email messages?

That’s right.

Guess what Ella and I had for dinner tonight? That’s right. As you can see from the photo, I served our duck over a bed of lentils with a side of green beans.


Quiet Day

It’s been a relatively quiet day in our house. Chloe has been the busiest, having had two babysitting jobs today. The first was from 9-4 and the second from 5:30-8:30. She has another full day tomorrow.

Ella has had the kind of school break day that I longed for (still do, truthfully) when I was a kid. She got up late, puttered around in her new bathrobe (the one that Santa brought for her), made some snacks/meals when she was hungry, and is now watching videos on YouTube.

Melinda spent a good chunk of the day by the fireplace, both with it having a fire and with it not having a fire. The “not” part involved her resetting the gas logs. The fire part included while she oiled the stonework hearth and, later, went online with her laptop (caught on digital “film”).

Me, I drove Chloe to and from her babysitting jobs, in between going for a long run and experimenting with our food processor to make my version of a raw bar. I also spent a good chunk of time catching up on email, PSCS and personal.

Very nice.

Granny’s Recipe Book

As a Christmas gift, my mom made a recipe book for her grandkids of all the recipes she’s shared with them over the years. It was a HUGE undertaking for her and the final result was everything my mom had hoped for. They LOVED it. At one point tonight, having opened their copies, the grandkids were all flipping through the pages, laughing, smiling and reminiscing, and I said to her, “It’s the moment you worked for. It’s wonderful. Enjoy it.”

Some of the recipes date back to our days in Omaha, and each comes with notes about its origin. A more recent recipe, under the dessert section, comes with this note, “This is the recipe from Melinda’s good friend, Christine, who gave it to the family when they left France for home in 2011. She had served them and the whole family loved them – especially Andy who added the ‘crack’ to the title because they are so addictive.”

Yes, Christine’s “crack brownies” made the book.

Today’s photo is of Ella just as she finished unwrapping her copy.

Joyeux Noël

Today’s photo is more intended as a greeting card, sent to everyone who reads the blog but with our French friends in mind. So to the Boudeaus and Bertails (and their extended families and friends), we wish you a Joyeux Noël.

The idea for this “greeting card” came from Chloe who orchestrated its creation while Ella was helping Perrin with some serious coloring work taking place. Meanwhile, Greg was busy cooking tonight’s dinner, a delicious ham (oh my gosh, I could just keep eating). Brenda & Melinda were working on side dishes and Michele was talking to her grandchildren. If Dwight wasn’t playing Christmas carols on the piano, he was keeping watch on the proceedings. Me, I did what I do best and have practiced doing for years. I stayed out of the way.

Yes, it’s Christmas Eve at our house with the Shaws, an annual event. Last year it just happened to take place in our house in Nantes.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I trust Santa is treating you well.

Christmas Eve Eve

It’s the night before the night before Christmas and here’s what’s happening in our house right now. I’m writing this blog post. Ella is watching TV. Chloe is working out. And Melinda is busy redecorating the house (or at least moving all the pictures on the walls). You see, we are hosting family on each of the next two days so we want to get the house in order. I do this by posting to the blog. Ella does this by watching TV. Chloe does this by working out. And Melinda does this by redecorating the house (or at least moving all the pictures on the walls).

Guess who’s being the most productive?

That’s right. It’s Chloe! She is working out after all.

Okay, so Melinda wants everything to look nice for our guests. We have her side of the family coming tomorrow and then my side on Sunday. Today’s picture includes one of the photos Melinda just put up to make the house look nice. Recognize the subject? It’s the Royal de Luxe in Nantes, from May, one of Melinda’s sabbatical highlights (learn more at this blog link). The photo on the wall is up in our kitchen. Extra credit points to anyone who can find another souvenir from France in this picture.

Our Nantes House

So Christine emailed me a few days ago and in her message made an off-hand comment about the house in Nantes in which Melinda, Chloe, Ella & I lived last year. Her comment had to do with the house being decorated with exterior lights for the holidays, something we didn’t do last year (just snowflakes on the windows, of course!). Writing her back, I all but demanded that she have one of her kids take a picture and send it to me, the result being today’s photo.

Now that’s all well and good. But what I MOST liked about Christine’s original message is that she referred to the Nantes house as OUR house, not as belonging to the people who live in it now. You know, the owners.

Indeed, the Nantes house is OUR house. And it’s so nice to see the correct use for those blue lights that we put up on our tree last year.

Winter Solstice

Here’s a pretty cool photo from tonight. Yes, Chloe is back, pulling in tonight a little before 8pm. As is our family tradition on December 21st, the four of us sat down in front of the fire and shared our holiday gifts with each other. We started doing this when Chloe was a baby, the idea stemming from two thoughts. First, given we are lucky to have both sides of our family living locally, we don’t have to travel for the holidays. It also means that we have a lot of gift-giving and gift-receiving opportunities. Melinda and I wanted to have one of these be just for the four of us. We chose the 21st for the second thought, that being that it’s the winter solstice, the “shortest” day of the year. The diminishing light in the fall really impacts Melinda, so turning the corner to brighter days ahead is worthy of a family celebration.

When the girls were younger, part of our tradition involved me reading from the book the girls are holding in today’s picture. Nowadays, the book serves more for nostalgic purposes.

The other thing we do each year is go out to dinner, which we did by having sushi tonight. Yum! A great solstice – Chloe’s return, presents and sushi. We even stopped by Brenda’s, Greg’s and Perrin’s and got to see them tonight. Super-duper bonus!