Cook Your Heart Out

Tom Kah Gai

Recipe: Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)

Location: Your Kitchen

After-Taste: My New Year’s Resolution is to cook more, so my Mom and I decided to get a jump-start on the resolution by making one of my favorite soups ever. Every time I go to a Thai restaurant, I always get Tom Kha Gai – it’s a creamy, coconut soup with a bit of a kick. [commence drooling] It was a super fun adventure to do with my Mom because we went to an Asian market to get most of the ingredients. This recipe requires quite a few different ingredients that you can’t find in your local Safeway (for instance, kaffir lime leaves and galangal root). Luckily the recipe only calls for a small portion of these unique ingredients, so you can freeze the rest and use later…because trust me, you will want to make this soup again. The prepping of the soup is the hardest part – it’s pretty time consuming. But this is me talking, and I’m not a very great cook, so I’m sure it would take the average cook half the time it took me. Once you get everything prepped, you literally put it all in a pot, wait a bit, and it’s good to go! The soup was so delicious and it was so much fun eating it at home. It also introduced me to curry paste and now I’m obsessed! I want to put that stuff on everything! Going forward, you may start seeing a few more recipe posts since I really want to stick to my New Year’s Resolution…so wish me luck!!

Link: Tom Kha Gai Recipe

Reminisce Your Heart Out

Gramma

Location: Green Acres, WA

After-Stay: During my Christmas break at home, my family went out to visit my Grandma. It’s one of my favorite things to do. My Grampa passed away Christmas morning 4 years ago and it was one of the hardest days ever. When everyone else was waking up and getting excited to open presents, my family was in the hospital trying to come to sorts with losing one of the most important people in our lives. My Gramma is probably the most amazing human being I know. Her love with my Grampa was unreal – they were inseparable, they played in a band together (they would tour retirement homes…I’m not kidding), she never even learned how to drive because my Grampa drove everywhere. My Gramma is so strong and has such an inspiration for coming through with losing my Grampa. For a long time, my Gramma couldn’t even listen to music because it would make her too sad. But she’s come a long way – now it’s music that brings her peace and takes her to a place where she feels with my Grampa again. While I was with her on this day, I asked if she would play a couple songs and she was happy to do so. What’s amazing is she has a bunch of music books with timeless classics, but they don’t have music notes – they only have the lyrics. My Gramma uses the lyrics to remember the chords and it all comes back to her. It was amazing to watch! I snapped this picture and it makes me so happy. I love how it shows her doing what she loves most with her wedding band from my Grampa hugging her finger. It was a very special moment that I’m happy I have a picture of. Just thought I would share it with you. To me, this picture is happiness. :)

Prost Your Heart Out

Leavenworth

Venue: Munchen Haus

Location: Leavenworth, WA

After-Taste: It’s that time of year again!! It’s the Silbaugh/Morrison Annual Trip to Leavenworth! This is the second year that my friends and I make the trek over to Spokane for Christmas break….instead of driving 4-5 hours on I-90, we decided it would be a lot more fun to take a night-long detour and stay in Leavenworth for some shenanigans! We decided to stay at the Sleeping Lady Resort again this year because it honestly is one of the best resorts in Washington. There wasn’t as much snow this year, so the sled hill was pretty much mud. Did that stop us from sledding? Absolutely not. This year I came prepared by bringing a couple cheap sleds and it was so much fun riding down close to 20 times. The good thing about sledding in mud? No lines!! We also did a bunch of wine-tasting and got a little sauced up. Can’t go a year without Gluhwein [glue-vine] – “Christmas in a Glass”! Before we went to the resort for the amazing buffet dinner, we had to make a stop at the Munchen Haus (for a hot dog appetizer, duh). When I think of Leavenworth, I think of the Hat Shop and the Munchen Haus. It’s a staple in Leavenworth, and that’s made obvious by the wait to get a seat. It’s worth the wait!! The brats are out of this world. The best part (in my honest opinion) is the MUSTARD BAR. They have a display of about 20 different mustards and it was my own sort of Heaven. I looked over at the man trying to pick out his mustard and I may have had a tear in my eye, and I said, “This is overwhelming, I want them all.” He gave me a pat on the back and said, “We can do it.” It was a special ¬†moment. I decided to go with the Garlic and Onion Mustard and it was a great decision. We posted up at a Bavarian-style wooden table by the fireplace. There is nothing better than eating a brat with sauerkraut, grilled onions, mustard, and a nice cold beer….the people I was chowing down with were pretty awesome too. ;-) Can I just teleport there now?? If you pass through Leavenworth, pretty please promise me that you’ll get a brat at Munchen Haus! You’ll be one of the lucky ones!!

Link: Munchen Haus

Craft Your Heart Out

Clothespin Magnets

Craft: Clothespin Magnets

Necessities: Clothespins, Magnets, Mod Podge, and Paper

After-Glue: Here’s a fantastic gift idea!! These work great as little gifts for co-workers or friends – they’re nothing grand, but they’re handmade and thought and effort goes into them. My friend Bri kept mentioning that she was going to have a craft night and make clothes hanger magnets…I couldn’t get in my head what she meant by that. She kept telling me all I need to bring was paper and gems. Done and done. All you have to do is cut the paper to the size of the clothespin, use a little Mod Podge and stick a gem on each one and you’re done! We had a bunch of paper and even coasters that we worked with. There were a couple coasters that had the University of Washington “W” on it, so I obviously had to make a couple husky magnets! (I kept one for myself, shhhh!) I made about 12 in about an hour – wish I could’ve made more! They were great additions to gifts – the best was when I had a wrapped gift and a card, I’d just clamp the card and taped the magnet onto the gift. Automatic decorative cardholder! I use my magnet on my fridge to hold recipes that I’m using. They are cute and definitely come in handy! Plus, people love handmade gifts. I mean, I LOVE my magnet I gave to myself! ;-)

Link: Clothespin Magnet Directions

D’Light Your Heart Out

Bellevue D'Lights

Event: Garden d’Lights

Location: Bellevue Botanical Gardens

After-Stroll: This is the perfect activity to do with a child or even with a significant other! It was breathtaking!! I decided to take my Little Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters to go ice skating at the Bellevue Ice Arena. After we saw the mile-long line to skate, we immediately turned around and tried to think of other things to do in Bellevue. I kept hearing about the Bellevue Garden d’Lights so we decided to give it a try. Parking and waiting in line is hit-or-miss. When we got there, parking was pretty easy and there wasn’t much of a line (we bought tickets beforehand on my iPhone) – but when we left, the line was HUGE! Even if the line is long, the wait is worth it. If you don’t like being surrounded by people, this maaaaay not be for you. You kind of just walk in a single-file line in a way and look at everything. But Mia and I managed to get amazing views of all the scenes. The lights were insane. Absolutely unreal – the “pond” was my favorite. Plus, they have a hot cocoa stand! There were so many light animals and animals, it was eye-candy. I’m obsessed with color and bright, shiny objects, so it sort of felt like this whole set-up was designed for me. You follow the map and experience all the different scenes – there was a jungle, a winery, waterfalls, butterflies, frogs, even spiders. You name it, they probably had it in lights. It was a good 25 minute walk, and we took our time to take lots of pictures. I asked Mia what her favorite light object was and I’m not even kidding, she said the rake was her favorite. Hilarious and adorable at the same time!

Garden d'Lights

Link: Garden d’Lights

Ugly Sweater Party Your Heart Out

Ugly Sweater

Event: Ugly Sweater Party

After-Party: You know I mentioned in the post below (Meat Ball Your Heart Out) that Ugly Christmas Sweater parties are the most common kind of holiday party – well, here’s a perfect example of one! My friend Lillian throws an Ugly Sweater party every year, and they’re the best parties ever! Most of these parties involve friends and booze. But Lillian goes all out. She has a whole station just for bedazzling your sweater and making it even more ugly. She has a station where we write a Mad Lib to Santa and nominate someone for ugliest sweater. There’s of course food and booze, and lots of holiday music. The highlight of the party every year is the front room she empties out – sets up a Christmas tree, a bunch of props, and a camera tri-pod. She has the camera set on a self-timer, so during the whole night, people will go into the room and take a bunch of action shots. We get super clever and come up with fun dances, jumps, or action-sequences. The camera ends up with thousands of pictures (I’m not kidding) that Lil’ edits into an adorable video. At the end of the night, we all get together and she announces who wins the Ugly Sweater Contest – and this year I managed to come out with the W! I’ve had this ugly sweater for a few years now, and it’s so classic that I like to wear it each year. The front is just decked out with holiday decorations – there are bells, bows, a sled, Santa, elves, you name it. Ahhh, it really is the most wonderful time of year. So get to planning your next Ugly Sweater Party! Can’t go a year without one!!

Ugly Sweater 2

Meat Ball Your Heart Out

Meat Ball

Event: Meat Ball

Location: Your House?

After-Party: How many Ugly Christmas Sweater parties do you get invited to or hear about every year? Probably a lot. They’re definitely the most common kind of holiday party, but here’s an idea that’s super clever and super fun. My friend Jessica throws a party every year at her house called the Meat Ball. It’s a brilliant idea where everyone dresses up in fancy dresses, the men all come in suits, and we’re all required to bring one dish containing meat. Get it? Meatball = Meat Ball. Of course there’s always a large dish of delicious meatballs – my favorite though, is when one person always brings bags of Dick’s burgers. If you ever want a cheap item to bring to a party – pick up some Dick’s cheeseburgers. It’s cheap, easy, and the people go NUTS over them! [aaaand I just made myself laugh…People go NUTS over the DICK’S….I may be 5 years old..] Anyway, do you know how fun it is to dress up all fancy and then stuff your face with a bunch of meat?? ……wait, that came out wrong. You get what I mean. This year, people brought homemade banh mi sandwiches, lasagna, bacon, meatballs, Dick’s Cheeseburgers, and lots of alcohol (including bacon-flavored vodka). I made the most delicious appetizer I’ve ever made. It’s pretty much the easiest thing in the world to make, too. People loved them – and they’re good hot or cold! All you need are club crackers, Parmesan cheese, and bacon. Check out the recipe below – I used this link and it was super helpful with all the pics and descriptions. When the bacon cooks, they literally hug the crackers and the juices seep into the crackers. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. GREAT idea for an app to bring – that’s also easy on the wallet! Oh, and obviously, this kind of party isn’t really suited for vegetarians. :( Hopefully they wouldn’t start any beef with you for not being invited….. [seriously……5 years old.]

Link: Bacon-Wrapped Crackers