Monday, October 26, 2009

Paella 'a l' Americaine

I share a special bond with my lovely niece, Lisa.  She is an intelligent, beautiful young woman with a zest for life I admire.  Besides our obvious connection as members of the McDougall clan, we have forged a friendship through our shared enjoyment of the blogosphere.

A common interest we discovered through social media is a love for Julia Child.  Lisa and I

decided to get together last Friday evening and do some cooking using one of Julia's menus.  She brought us each an apron from Anthropologie, just to set the correct mood in the kitchen!  As one who has grown up in a large family understands, the plans for two people huddled over the stove

can very easily evolve into a lively event for thirteen adults and six children. In fact, that's the way we prefer life!

So, our house was filled with lively conversation and lots of laughter

as we cooked Julia's American Paella for a crowd.  I have made this recipe for years and have adapted it to suit the tastes of the Geier household.

Like our daughter, Suzanne, Lisa lives life gluten free, so our entire menu was planned accordingly. We shared sangria, olives and cheese and my sister Beth's wonderful black bean salad while we prepared the main course.

The children were great, getting to know each other a little better and entertaining us all at the same time!

Julia's version of paella is very accessible to a social gathering and I recommend you try it, either for a quiet dinner for six or for a bigger event like ours.

The dish finished quite beautifully and we all dug in!

Old World Pizza came through for the young ones and for those who go through life without spice and seafood.

Thanks, Lisa, for driving this soirée!

Let's plan another soon.  When we're home, I love my kitchen!!! I'll share it with our family anytime!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What is wrong with this picture? (And as long as I've got your attention...)

What is wrong with this picture?  

This is what we woke to this morning!  And, for the record, it was NOT our first snowfall of the season! The leaves haven't even turned from green to gold on our maple trees!

Our patio rose isn't done blossoming for the season!

Oh, well, whining about it isn't going to do anything.  It is supposed to be in the 50's by the weekend, so maybe there are a few beautiful fall days left in the forecast.

The weekend after our trip to NYC, we traveled with Beth and Gary to Valley City State University (their alma mater...and my mom's and grandmother's as well) to watch our nephew, J.D., play football.  J.D., who is the son of my brother, Al, is a Freshman at Valley City State.

That's J.D., the good looking one, out on the field (#43).  He is a linebacker and plays special teams, so we had many opportunities to cheer him on during the game.  We drove back to the lake after the game, stopping in Fargo to have dinner with our Fargo siblings and their spouses.  It was a fun day! Being able to spend more time with family is one of the great perks of retirement.

With the inevitable turning of the seasons, Paul and I have been having discussions about our exercise (or lack thereof) program.  We do ride our bikes and walk, but that is when the weather is nice and when we are on a camping trip.

I realized prayer wasn't going to quite take care of it for me.

So, with the realization I will shortly turn into something I don't want to picture,

I agreed with Paul to make the commitment to (re)join the community fitness center.

So, now every other day I find myself doing some strength training.

And working on daily aerobic exercise.

I am certain I will soon see the results of our new regimen.

Well, back to my lists.

I may be retired, but I still have an agenda.

Just ask Paul.

He can tell you all about it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New York City-September 25th-28th

Neither Paul nor I had been to New York City before this past weekend.  As you can learn by reading our travel adventures, we generally are not drawn to urban settings.

We worked together to come up with an itinerary and as a result, we both were ready to hit the ground running when we landed.  

We stayed at the Marriott Marquis hotel,

located on Broadway in the theatre district. A nice hotel, it worked well for us

although staying right in Times Square

is a bit insane.  Interesting, though!

That evening, we walked around the area to see the sites.  We had done our research and decided we would eat at Becco,

an easy walk from our hotel.  We toasted our arrival in the city

and enjoyed an excellent Italian meal

at Lidia Bastianich's restaurant.  Incidentally, I happen to admire this chef! What a perfect place to start our trip to New York.

After our dinner we needed to walk (obviously) and thus found ourselves at Rockefeller Center

and at the statue, Prometheus, who overlooks the Rink Bar, which is the area they flood in winter for the skating rink.

We walked past Radio City Music Hall

and just enjoyed the lights

and THRONGS of people.

We knew we had a full day on Saturday, so we left the party out there pretty early!

We woke to a nice view of Manhattan from our hotel window.

Our list of things to see on Saturday was long, so we put on our walking shoes for a full day of sightseeing.  We started at a section of Central Park designated as

as a memorial to John Lennon,

who lived across the street in the exclusive Dakota Building. We learned Yoko Ono still owns everything in this building above the wrought iron fence surrounding the top floors. Kerching!!!  Despite Yoko, I will always love John.

We walked along the street in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral,

which is across the street from the two ton statue of Atlas,

who resides in front of Rockefeller Center, which is actually a complex of nineteen buildings covering twenty two acres.

What a beautiful city!

We saw the 1902 Beaux-Arts style Flatiron Building. It was the tallest building in New York at its completion.

It is near Madison Square Park, named after James Madison. This park, which was dedicated a public space in 1686, was also the original home of the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club!

We viewed the Empire State Building from this park.  We decided next trip we would go to the top!

Next, we visited the historic South Street Seaport, located on the East River.

We listened to a tour guide, a moonlighting NYPD cop, point out numerous movie and television scene locations shot in this locale.  I am not up on my movies, so retention was a struggle for me.  Paul reminded me he had talked about Cagney movies, "Men in Black" and one we watched in the past year, "I Am Legend."

The docks are a prime vantage point for viewing "BMW":

The Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge.  Very stunning.

Next, we boarded the Staten Island Ferry so we could see the Statue of Liberty. I kept thinking I should have seen her years ago.

Paul has always considered the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to be one of the most famous bridges in the world and it was a must see for him.  The bridge connects Brooklyn and Staten Island and we had a good view of it from the ferry.

I loved the view of Manhattan we enjoyed on our return trip from Staten Island.

Our next destination was the financial district to see the front of New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street

and the more familiar view of the rear of the building on Broad Street.

This was an important destination on our tour for me.  Although we didn't spend a great deal of time here, probably the most profound moment of the day was standing at the site of the World Trade Center.

We headed back to our hotel and walked to a Szechuan restaurant we had read about. Spicy! Yum!

We called it a day after an evening walk.  Whew!  Lights out!!!!  Great day.

We woke to a rainy Sunday morning.  That didn't stop us from being at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when their doors opened.

We could have easily spent a month there.

We had a difficult time prioritizing, like kids in a candy shop.

We had to leave in the afternoon so we could get to Lincoln Center

for the afternoon matinee of South Pacific,

the main reason I was so intent on a trip to New York.  The beautiful leading lady, Laura Osnes, is an Eagan High School graduate and someone I hold very dear to my heart.  It was so fun to see her on stage and even more fun to give her a hug after the show.

She graciously gave us a back stage tour, even showing us how she "washed that man right out of her hair."

We said our goodbyes, promising to come to see her in her next Broadway show and walked through the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood on our way back to our hotel.  After a slice of New York pizza, we were ready to crash for the evening.

The next morning we enjoyed our last view from our hotel and headed for the airport.

We both came away with a good, basic understanding of the city.  We'll return!  I just hope it doesn't take another fifty seven years to get there!!!!