Date Night- Number Nine Edition

I’m a believer in date nights.  They don’t have to be anything elaborate but simple nights that get you out of your routine and away from the tasks you have to do around the house.  They give you a break from the kitchen and dishes and give you an opportunity to reconnect, in a way.  Usually once a week we go on one.  Lately it has been a leisurely dinner out and sometimes a glass of wine or a cocktail too.

One of our favorite places is Number Nine in Long Beach for Vietnamese food.  We used to live within walking distance which made it even more fun and convenient.  I love not having to drive.  It’s located in an area on 4th Street called “Retro Row” where there are a number of vintage shops which are fun for browsing.  A couple restaurants in this area have created parklets which are becoming more popular throughout Long Beach.  For those who aren’t familiar, it’s when a parallel parking spot(s) is taken over to provide either a green space for passive or active recreation or some other amenity to enhance the pedestrian experience on the street.  The designs for these spaces vary and can be quite innovative.  However, often the design is somewhat temporary and could be removed in case of an emergency.  For a street that has shops, wine bars, restaurants, galleries, and an independent movie theater all within one block, before the two parklets, there was only spot for outdoor seating.  Therefore, the street was mainly used for walking and there was little on the street level to engage the pedestrian.  These parklets have helped to activate the street by making it more dynamic and lively.  Personally, I always enjoy walking down these types of streets.

Number Nine is one of the restaurants that has commandeered the parking spot in front of their restaurant and created outdoor seating.  There are heat lamps, pedestrian height lights, wood panels so the ground level is the same height as the curb and has a restaurant feel, and bamboo planted in containers to create a hedge and help to provide a separation between the dining space and the cars passing by.  This picture below is an older picture, the bamboo has matured even more and really does create a nice screen.

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The entrees are flavorful, filling and reasonably priced.  The menu is fairly simple- various flavors of Phở (rice noodle soup), Bún (cold vermicelli rice noodles with egg roll), and Bánh mì (vietnamese sandwiches).  All of these entrees have a vegetarian option.

On this night, as honestly, most nights we go there, I started with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and Cathrine a Shōchū/soju Lemonade.

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For dinner, I ordered the Tofu Bún and Cathrine ordered the Mélange (steak, chicken, brisket, tofu, daikon, carrot) Phở.
The Tofu Bún comes with this delicious sauce- it’s a combination of sweet and slightly spicy.
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And here’s Cathrine’s Melange Phở with a plate of add-ins to personalize the flavor (bean shoots, mint, peppers, lime, plum sauce, and siracha)

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Overall, it was a relaxing and enjoyable night out.
I’m off to go do some birthday present shopping.  Hope you all have a happy Monday!
Has your city or town started to build parklets?
Any interest in learning more about parklets and different designs?

And we’re back…..Weekly Meal Plan

Sorry for being MIA for so long.  We moved, unpacked to the point where it’s livable, and then played tourist in our own city when a couple friends from college visited.  Our days during their visit were fun but boy were they full.  Spending the day at Disneyland (and the gigantic cookies and cream ice cream cone I indulged in), the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, touring Robinson Helicopter Company, sightseeing around Portuguese Bend, and visiting the Bruery (Not to be confused with a winery, like I did.  For some reason I thought it was going to be in a pretty setting.  Instead it was adjacent to a freeway but my Sour in the Rye certainly made up for the lack of scenery) were some of the highlights of their visit.  As with most visits, of course, it wasn’t long enough but I guess it gives us another visit to look forward to.

I will say, the Indiana Jones Ride in Disneyland and the Radiator Springs Racers (even though, the line was crazy long) in California Adventure were my favorite rides.  Check out the lighting of the Radiator Springs Racers ride at night!  If you’re going to do it, I think it’s even more magical to wait until it’s dark.

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I love pictures of people riding rides!

Did you know, Warner Brothers has over 2 miles worth of shoes!!!  I’m not really a big television show watcher but I found just seeing the sets and how they can be transformed into many different types of scenes interesting.  I would recommend going but the tours fill up so I would get your tickets before you go.

Anyways, with moving and friends visiting, meal planning didn’t really happen.  So, I happily looked through recipes and landed on some of our old favorites to make for dinner this week.  We’ve had a rare three days of rain and I think this weather pattern influenced my meal planning.  We’ve got lots of soup on the menu this week.

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Sunday- New Year’s Noodle Soup made with kidney beans instead of borlotti beans.

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(Photo Credit- 101 Cookbooks website)

Monday- leftover soup

Tuesday- Orange-Maple Glazed Salmon with roasted sweet potato, broccoli, and a kale salad

Wednesday- Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup made with Field Roast italian sausage, vegetable broth, and whole wheat pasta shells

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(Photo Credit- Shutterbean website)

Thursday- leftover soup

Friday- Shrimp tacos with roasted broccoli, and a kale salad

I like the freeze our leftover soup for Cathrine to bring to work for lunch.

Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!  I’ve off to make a simple brunch for us before starting the day.  What’s on your menu this week?

Weekly Meal Plan

I thought I would participate in the weekly meal plan linkup this week.  It’s my first time!  I did our grocery shopping on Saturday and came home with three bags full of groceries.  I had gotten in the habit of stopping at the grocery store throughout the week to pick up any extra groceries that we needed.  Those multiple 10-18 dollar midweek trips can really add up.  So, in an effort to be more aware of how much we spend on groceries and to first use what we already have, for the past couple weeks, I have been getting everything on the weekend.  It’s been working really well!  Especially with this new strategy, meal planning has been essential.

I’m linking up with mommyrunfast to share what we have on the menu this week!

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Sunday- Healthy Tostada for Two with a garlicky massaged kale salad

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Monday- Asian Black Bean Burgers with roasted sweet potatoes and green beans

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Tuesday- Orange-Maple Glazed Salmon (recipe to come!), mashed sunchokes, roasted broccoli with a Maple Massaged Kale Salad

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Wednesday- Leftover Asian Black Bean Burgers with roasted sweet potatoes and Mustard-Garlic Brussels Sprouts

Thursday- Coconut Mahi Mahi (we make this fairly often and it’s delicious, I’ll post the recipe soon) with bok choy, roasted broccoli, and a kale side salad

Friday- Orange-Maple Glazed Salmon with green beans, Mustard-Garlic Brussels Sprouts, and a massaged kale side salad  (celebrating Valentine’s Day next week along with our 10 year anniversary).

Saturday- Out

Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday Favorites

Trader Joes Harvest Tea

I’ve been enjoying the Harvest Blend Herbal Tea from Trader Joe’s.  I have a cup every morning after Cathrine leaves for work.  It’s perfect for 5:30-6 in the morning.  It just smells like fall and has a lot of flavor.  I can’t get enough of it.

Born Shoes

My old black flats have seriously seen a better day.  The material is obviously fraying around the heel and toe.  They also have almost no cushioning, so I always had to walk slowly so I didn’t put too much pressure on my heel.  A replacement was imminent and necessary.  These Born black flats are quickly becoming my favorite shoe.  They are comfortable, have the padding that my other pair lacked, and fit perfectly with a pair skinny jeans.

Chan Luu Scarf

When Cathrine first gave me this Chan Luu scarf, I thought I would never wear it.  I thought it was silly expensive and too bulky.  I left it with my other scarves for a while.  I’d try it on and eventually end up choosing another.  However, now I’m so glad I gave it so many chances.  I love it and wear it any opportunity I can.  It’s soft and just substantial enough that it feels cozy around your neck.

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I had always admired Heath Ceramics and dreamed about owning one of their pieces.  Perhaps eventually even a set of dishes.  But for now, I’m satisfied with this pitcher.

Workout Pants

These capri workout pants in black from Athleta are my absolute favorite.  I own two pairs and base when I need to do laundry on whether or not they are clean.

Cathrine is travelling this weekend, you can track her travels here, so I’m off to cuddle up on the couch with a copy of The Circle.  I joined the Blend book club that Caitlin from the Healthy Tipping Point is organizing and I’m afraid that I’m very behind.  I just got the book last week.

Happy Friday!

Anatomy of a Party

This past Saturday we hosted what’s becoming our annual fall party.  A party where we pretend it’s not 80 degrees outside with palm trees and flowering bougainvillea but rather there is the perfect crispness in the air, a blanket of crunchy leaves on every lawn and sidewalk, and the aroma of spices warms each household.  We filled our home with oranges, burnt reds, and subtle yellows and brought elements found in nature inside.  It’s an evening where we soak up all things fall.

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We kept the decorations simple and used as many natural elements as possible, most of them originating in Massachusetts.  On my last trip, I brought as many pine cones and pine needles as my carry on bag could hold.

For the table, we filled mason jars with acorns and Mexican Pumpkin votive candles from World Market.  We a jar in the center with fall colored flowers and surrounded it with candles, mini pumpkins, gourds, and pine needles.  We used this table runner from World Market as well.  In person it’s a bit more burnt red color.  Very simple but it left enough space on the table for food and drink.

candles, pumpkins, and gourds

For the side table, leaving room for people to set their drinks, we filled a glass circular vase in pine cones and placed two birch candles on either side.  We also had a leaf tray with candle corn, but being new to blogging, I forgot to take a before picture…..guess we all have our weaknesses.  There were liquid amber leaves for a bit more color.  

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We had quite the spread of food.  I wish I got a picture of everything.  For appetizers, we had:

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Cheese and cracker plate (as I mentioned earlier, I forgot to take a picture on the actual day….from Trader Joe’s cracker assortment box, we originally served the vegetable, wheat, and original crackers.)  We have these cloth cocktail napkins and we just love them.

Tortilla chips with homemade pico de gallo using Against All Grain’s recipe (it’s so delicious!)

Baked polenta with agave ricotta (Slice polenta, bake at 400 degrees on a piece of parchment paper for appoximately 15-20 minutes or until crispy.  Once baked, let cool.  In the meantime, mix about 1 cup of ricotta with agave until it is the desired sweatness.  Once the polenta has cooled, scoop a little less than a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on top each slice of polenta.)

Almonds

For the main course, I made two batches of sweet potato and sausage soup.  For the meat eaters I used Mulay’s Mild Italian Sausage and for the vegetarians, I used Field Roast’s Italian Sausage.  This is the best non-meat sausage we’ve found.  I love that it doesn’t have soy and is made from real ingredients.  I used vegetable broth for both.  Cathrine just loves this soup…..I made her a batch before I went to the east coast earlier this month and she happily ate it for many days in a row.

We also made a delicata squash with kale and white beans salad.  I frequently do what most people say not to but this was the first time we’ve made this salad and we served it to other people.  But we love delicata squash and were fairly confident that it would come out!  We used cannellini beans instead of cranberry.

For drinks we had a couple bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and hard cider.  For our signature drink, we made a mulled cider and served it with a shot of Maker’s Mark bourbon.  These seemed quite popular.  There also was the usual selection of liquor and mixers.

For dessert we had two different kind of grain free pumpkin cookies.  I started off making pumpkin pie sugar cookies but I burned half of them and didn’t have enough ingredients to repeat the recipe, so I made a half batch of almond pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to fill out the plate.  Both were tasty!

Cookies

All in all, it was fun getting ready for it and even more fun spending time with friends.  Even if part of the conversation was dedicated to Cathrine explaining mileage running with lots of FlyerTalk lingo….Our friends did ask.