It’s hard to believe that Christmas is one week away. My heart has certainly been reminded of the true meaning of the season and the importance of telling family and friends how much I love them. It is simultaneously broken and hurting for all of the families affected by the horrific event that transpired in Connecticut last Friday. I may not have kids yet, but as a daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, niece and cousin, this story has shaken me to the core and my thoughts and prayers are with those in Newtown during this incredibly difficult time.
I felt very fortunate to have the chance to spend time with Mama Bender’s side of the family in St. Louis this weekend. My grandma recently moved to a new home and it was wonderful to have the chance to see her new space and catch up over orange juice and hot chocolate.
We also took a night to drive through Tilles Park’s Winter Wonderland, a fabulous presentation of more than a million Christmas lights that seemed to go on for miles. I can only imagine how much work goes into putting these up every year. The line of cars is even longer than the display itself, and on Saturdays they close the park to carriage rides only. It was a beautiful show.
Another major highlight of our trip was the chance to see my cousin Lisa’s daughter, Morgan! She has grown so much since February and is such a sweet young lady now. Lisa had her dressed in an adorable Christmas outfit that matched perfectly with all of the carols we sang. We had a blast learning about the things she can do and say these days, and she is also very generous with her hugs and kisses, which of course made everyone over the age of 19 months melt.
All in all, it was a fun (if not too short) trip! Family really is so special…and so is the chance to meet and make new friends. I also had the chance to connect with Shayne in person last week, a fellow blogger who I’ve known online for several years and was thrilled to find out is now living in Arizona!
After throwing some suggestions back and forth, we decided to grab dinner at FnB in Old Town Scottsdale, which receives rave reviews. Upon finishing our meal, we understood why – FnB is truly a unique and delicious dining experience!
The place was packed, so we ended up being seated at the bar. The menu boasts a lot of local brews and wines, so I decided to try a SanTan Devil’s Pale Ale. I enjoyed the hint of citrus.
Shayne and I decided to share a couple of appetizers and order one thing for ourselves. To split, we had the Swiss chard falafel, served with egg, Sina’s sauce, marinated greens and hazelnuts. The picture is a bit hazy but these falafel were incredible! I also loved that they somehow managed to make the egg pink. It did nothing to the taste, but certainly made for a fun presentation.
We also shared the warm marinated mushrooms served with grilled bread, soft Pecorino cheese and white beans. Looking back, this may have been my favorite dish of the night. I’m a big fan of marinated mushrooms and the balsamic vinegar and oil they used to marinate added the perfect amount of flavor. The bread was a bit soaked, but I liked the texture and combined with the cheese and beans, you really can’t go wrong.
For my main dish, I ordered Mama Mary’s Christmas split pea soup, served with ham and pretzel croutons. I was really craving this soup – must have been a chill in the air – and it did not disappoint. I’m so glad soup season is finally here. It doesn’t last long in Arizona, but I’m excited to get my fix.
Shayne ordered the butternut and spaghetti squash, which came with Parmesan and pinenuts. I had a bite and can attest that it was another winner. We were very happy with all of our choices.
It was fun to explore an area of Scottsdale that I don’t visit as often. I will definitely be back – thanks for the great restaurant choice, Shayne! There are so many places to see (and eat) in Arizona, and I’m grateful for every day here.
What are you grateful for this week?