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My 12 Favorite Travel Photos for 2012

I'm crazy about travel.  I love the idea of discovering new destinations and revisiting old favorites.  That I get to photograph it all and savor the memories later, is an extra bonus.  The rest of the world is catching on, pretty much everyone has a digital camera now and and we're all shutterbugs, capturing the world in our own unique way. 

This year I visited Vancouver, Alaska, Portland and the Oregon Coast.  I also checked out the Skagit County Tulip Festival in Washington, a sight that I'll never forget.  In Seattle, my own backyard, we had a couple new additions to this already incredible city-the Great Wheel on the Waterfront and the Dale Chuhuly Glass Museum at Seattle Center.  Here's my 12 favorite travel shots I took from these places in 2012, posted in order from the beginning of the year. 

1.  Vancouver, BC.


Because of the Olympics in 2012, Vancouver has grown even more with Condos springing up everywhere.  This shot, taken on our weekend trip in February…

My Top 12 Food and Drinks for 2012

The year 2012 has had its ups and downs just like any other year.  But I've still gotta eat and this year I definitely did.  Food plays a huge part in our lives.   It not only sustains us and keeps us alive but is always the centerpiece for family gatherings and celebrations in every culture.   Everyone has a favorite food, a restaurant they love eating at, or a memorable dish they make for special occasions.  I, like a lot of others, am always on the search for that perfect cup of hot chocolate, that unforgettable cupcake or doughnut, or that unique cocktail.  This year, my search was successful and I want to highlight some of the best things I've tasted. 

Here's my top 12 Food and Drinks for the year 2012 in the order I posted them:


1.  The Chocolate Chaud at Cafe Presse in Seattle. 


This lovely french hot chocolate, called Chocolate Chaud, was so rich and chocolaty that I could barely drink it all.  The best I found outside of France.  If you still haven't checke…

Tomato Avocado Salad and Cranberry Nut Bread

As part of my Christmas Eve lunch I made a salad with tomatoes, avocado, basil, mozzarella and bleu cheese with olive oil.  I was experimenting and just threw a few ingredients together.  The result was a light refreshing salad and it had a festive look to it. 

                                                             Tomato Avocado Salad

Serves two people or one large serving

1 avocado
1 tomato
1 T. olive oil
1/4 c. basil
1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. bleu cheese crumbles

Slice avocado and tomato into small chunks.  Stir; add olive oil.  Stir again and add basil and the two cheeses.  Add more or less cheese if you want, I just "eyed" everything.  Hopefully this gives you some ideas of new salads to make.  I know I get tired of the same leaf salads all the time. 



My mom always made Cranberry Nut Bread when I was a kid at Christmastime.  The last two years I've continuted the tradition and had it for Christmas morning.  She originally found the recipe …

Dinner at Via Tribunali

When it comes to pizza I'm not picky.  I'm the type of person who'll be super happy with a frozen pepperoni pizza.  Have some salad with a couple of slices and that's a favorite meal for me.  So when it comes to these authentic wood fired pizza places everywhere in Seattle, I'm on the fence.  I know the ingredients are fresh and that if you go to Italy, this is the pizza you'd probably find.  But it just doesn't rock my boat.  I love a greasy slice with cheese oozing everywhere and pepperoni everywhere.  I like my slice slathered on thick and even with a little kick to it.  I find some of these pizza places to have really light marinara, or pomodoro as its called, hardly any mozzarella, and sadly, pepperoni just isn't on "real pizza".  But, yes, I can appreciate the pizza for what it is.  It's local, fresh and truly authentic.  I also know everyone else loved the stuff, its just not my favorite.  And each to their own, right? 

So I always…

Snowball Cookies

I remember seeing these on cookie trays as a kid, maybe I even tried one before.  But I had never made Snowball's before until yesterday.  They're the perfect Christmas cookie because of the name and the chopped pecans when you bite into them.  The cookie dough is just butter, flour, sugar and vanilla with the nuts.  They bake for about twenty minutes and then comes the dipping part.  You roll them in powdered sugar not once but twice.  Right out of the oven and then again when they cool.  These cookies took me a couple hours to make but when my husband and a friend bit into them and said they loved them, it was totally worth it. 

I found the recipe for Snowball Cookies at Landolakes.com.

Ingredients:

2 cupsall-purpose flour
2 cupsfinely chopped pecans
1/4 cupsugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoonvanilla
Powdered sugar Heat oven to 325°F. Combine all ingredients except powdered sugar in large bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until well mixed.

Thumbprint Cookies with Raspberry Jelly

When I was a child my mom made Thumbprint cookies every year for Christmas.  Now that I'm married, I've continued the tradition and make them every year, too.  The cookie dough is rolled in egg white and then some chopped nuts.  Right before baking them you use your thumb and make an indent for the jelly, which is added after baking. 

All is takes is one bite of these cookies and that magical, nostalgic feeling of Christmas comes to me.  The same feeling I get when I smell fresh pine or hear a favorite Christmas song.  The joy of Christmas is a powerful one, a time that only comes once a year. 

Below is my mom's recipe for Thumbprints.  She originally found the recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. 

                                                          Thumbprint Cookies

1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs, separated
2 c. flour
1 1/2 finely chopped nuts

Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, sugar…

Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Fudge!  Who doesn't just love it?  Especially to eat around Christmas.  Two years ago I found a recipe for Chocolate Walnut Fudge with Sea Salt while watching the Today Show with Hoda and Kathy Lee.  I wrote down the recipe and made it.  The fudge was a hit and even though I gave some away I had lots left and I remember eating it through New Years'.  The recipe calls for sea salt and I didn't have any so I used regular table salt.  This year, armed with sea salt, I made the fudge yesterday and I loved the addition.  It calls for a dash, but I used about four dashes and the salty taste is a welcome surprise with the semi sweet chocolate and walnuts. 

                                                           Chocolate Walnut Fudge

3 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
dash, or a few, of sea salt
1 c. walnuts
1 1/2 t. vanilla

Line 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil and melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt over low heat.  R…

Spinach Salad

Today my husband and I made a spinach salad for a pot luck we'll be attending.  The salad had pears, bleu cheese crumbles and candied pecans.  Then its topped with an olive oil and vinegar dressing.  Since we'd never done candied pecans before, we experimented a little and ended up enjoying the end result.  Now we know how to make it for next time. 

Here's how to prepare the salad and how to make your own candied pecans:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  We used about 1 cup of pecans.  Take 1 egg and separate it, only using the egg white.  Mix the egg white with 1 T. of warm water. Take pecans and mix in bowl of egg white and water, coating the nuts.  In a separate zip lock, mix together sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon.  How much depends on how many pecans you are using.  Then take your coated pecans and pour in sugar mixture.  Make sure all pecans are coated, then pour on baking sheet into one layer. 


Bake for about 25 minutes, turning after 10 minutes of baking.  Let cool,…

Downtown Seattle at Christmas

I've always loved Downtown Seattle all lit up for Christmas.  I went downtown late this afternoon to run a couple of errands.  When I exited the metro underground and arrived in front of Westlake Center, the sky was my favorite color.  That beautiful blue color that lights the sky before its really dark.  I hadn't been downtown all season so I was looking forward to seeing the huge Christmas Tree, the Macy's star and all the other decorations.  I didn't have my nice Nikon with me but sometimes a cell phone is better than nothing.  I hope you enjoy my snapshots of the beautiful city I live in and are feeling the Christmas spirit.  December moves so fast.  Don't forget to savor each moment of the holiday season!