Onto Chinois + Bonus Rewind

Some of the best nights we have had are nights that start out with minimal to no direction. Home after work on our Friday, last week, we knew we had a very important appointment to watch our niece in a preschool concert. It was the only solidified plan for the night and even it lacked a lot of direction. (Thank heavens for Google and my aunt like intuition or we would still be looking for the gymnasium.) Once inside, it took a second to realize that we were being seated for a delayed Christmas concert consisting of 8 songs, sung by about 40 children, all around the age of 4. It was as adorable as you would imagine. The lack of synchronization in choreography (which was mostly clapping and hand gestures), the upside down or backwards props, the kid on the end that refused to do anything but stand silently through the entire performance in protest, all of them innocently oblivious, made the half hour long program one of the best live performances I have ever seen. Her bravery in standing for eight songs in front of a room of strange faces made us proud. Her dramatic rendition of each song, sung on her tippy toes straight into the ceiling mic, while solo bowing as she saw fit, blowing kisses to her fans (us) and even adding some of her own choreography, made us extra proud. Comfortable on stage much?

Her face when she saw Ryan and I was priceless.

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It’s amazing how hungry and in need of a cocktail you can be after sitting through a preschool choir Christmas concert, three weeks after Christmas. Finding ourselves in the middle of the extremely quaint Windsor Town Green, Ryan’s gut instinct drove us to Kin, a relatively new edition to the area (established in 2011). Seeing a line waiting outside the door prompted a call to check the wait time, which, only being fifteen minutes, was probably doable, but our stomachs had lost their patience. Some other time when we are less starved, for sure. Swiftly, Ryan headed one street over onto Windsor River Road and pulled right up to the front of Chinois Asian Bistro. This proved to be one of the best decisions we have ever made, at least in Windsor. It had been awhile since Ryan had been there and it was my first. I was immediately calmed by the ambiance. The dark woods, red drum shades hanging from the ceiling and friendly faces greeting us at the door, had me at “hello”. Seated and served by one of the best waitresses I have ever experienced in Sonoma County, so much so it was refreshing, I jumped at the chance to order a Red Door, a soju and sake cocktail. It was the first thing on the menu and I just went with it.Chinoisop1

You can imagine my appeasement when I discovered that it was not only fruity and refreshing, without being too sweet, but served with no ice, no need to waste the space if you ask me. We started with the Ahi Tuna Tar Tar, perfection, and an order of the Coconut Prawns served with a pineapple dipping sauce that I would eat with a spoon. In classic Noodle fashion, for our main event, we both ordered Chicken Pad Thai. I have been unable to find anywhere that will make Pad Thai without peanuts and to a spice level of my specification (I’m about a 7 on a 1 to 10 scale of spiciness) since I lived in Orange County years ago. Already feeling spoiled with my iceless Red Door, pineapple sauce liquid gold and Tar Tar filled belly, when the waitress told me the Pad Thai could be made peanut free, I almost hugged her. It had been a long day. I am usually not so emotional about my noodles. Taking most of our main course home, I can attest that it is just as good reheated about four hours later as it is fresh from the kitchen. Next time, dessert.

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The day after Thanksgiving, our Christmas was up. Likewise in reverse, exactly one day after New Years, our Christmas came down. In those 35 days, my mother requested a Christmas decoration post 35 times. With December being the busiest time of the year, I found little to no time to do anything that wasn’t wrapping, shopping, planning, partying or eating. However, as I slowly took down all my holiday cheer I realized that my mother’s request was well deserved. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, always has been and most likely always will be. So, in honor of Mom’s request and my own selfish desire to stretch the Christmas season out as long as possible, I ask you all to rewind with me just a few weeks back as I give you the post that should have been. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. xoLA

The transition between December and January is always bittersweet. Waiting all year for Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season and take us into December can be agonizing. It’s confusing to even myself why I love December so much. A lot of things that occur in December happen during the rest of the year, good food, parties, family, overall merriment, all can be found spread throughout the prior eleven months. Further more, some of the things that are holiday specific and December sensitive are down right undesirable . The non-stop on-the-go going, crowded shopping, endless schmoozing, parking lot road rage, pulling all the decorations out, putting them all back, it’s simply a lot of work. Like many people, I have found myself standing twenty people deep in line at Target holding a talking doll from a cast of characters I am too old to recognize, asking myself, why do I do this?  As soon as I see something themed in red and green with a hint of tinsel or white fur, or see someone dropping off gifts at the toy drive for others less fortunate,  or smell something laced in cinnamon and spice and stuff that’s nice, the answer is so simple. The feeling. I crave the feeling of Christmas. It’s the feeling that makes all the motions worth it.

My first Christmas memory is the year Santa brought me a child size, white, wooden table and chair set. Leave it to me to be a four year old over joyed to get furniture. My dad in his horribly 80s, navy blue, velour robe and my mom sitting camera ready by the fireplace is a Christmas memory that is most likely reminiscent of thousands others but uniquely special being self specific. That moment felt like pure magic. Now, as a thirty something year old, I make my own Christmas magic. As soon as Thanksgiving clears, the cheer spreading starts. I knock out the bulk of the madness in a single day and spend the rest of the month adding “finishing touches”. Over twenty-five years of Nutcracker collecting, ornaments dating as far back as Baby’s First Christmas, garland and gold, plaid and bows, I even have a complete action figure set of the cast of A Christmas Story. I’ve got a serious problem. I blame my mother.

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It’s undeniable that my top favorite component of Christmas is seeing my family. The prospect of having my entire family in one room at the same time has led to extreme loss of sleep, every single Christmas Eve, my whole entire life. My Grandma and I would lay awake for hours the night before Christmas, both of us too excited to sleep. This year, having to be the first to leave our family affair, I became overly emotional as soon as the hype of good-byes settled and I was sitting calmly in the car. A day ran on an endorphin fueled high had crashed. The crash brought an overwhelming sense of missing. I miss the days when life wasn’t pulled in so many directions, when we were all young and we had no choice but to spend weekends together, when we didn’t have to spend the only holiday we have together catching up like strangers at a reunion. I miss my family and there is no way we are leaving early next year.

 

Noodle Note: Entering a new year gives way for us to renew our optimism, restore our motivation and reevaluate our direction. It can feel like the rebirth of hope, even during a time when hope seems to have been sucked out of the world and replaced with anger and fear. Our hope is for everyone to experience a positive 2015, engulfed in humanity and resolutions for a better tomorrow. In our house we have deemed this the year of action. Last year was the year of mapping, as we sculpted out the road we know we need to take to become better, stronger and healthier version of ourselves. This year, we make moves.

Cheers 2015, we are ready for you.