Wow, have I really been away from How To: Simplify for almost a month? My oh my has time flown by over the past couple of weeks. March has definitely been a whirlwind month for us. My weeks have been filled with all sorts of beauty — from the Cherry Blossoms in D.C., to the mountains in Salt Lake City, and then onto the vineyards in Napa Valley. That’s right, the vineyards in Napa Valley. Let me start from the beginning, shall I?
It all started months ago when my husband and I were talking about different ways to celebrate his 30th birthday. He immediately started brainstorming and finally decided on a trip to Gettysburg. He’s always been incredibly into reading and learning about Gettysburg — from the battles to the weaponry, everything about the Civil War is of interest to him. The fact that we live just a short drive from away from one of the major battlefields has been all too tempting to him.
I took it upon myself to plan our little getaway to…Napa Valley instead. I figured, since we live so close to Gettysburg, we can go there anytime we want, right? But Napa Valley? That’s a whole different story. I mean, it was his big 3-0 so I had to go all out for his special day. Oh, and the best part? I kept all of it a secret…and he hates surprises.
My mind started racing about all of the options for our trip. Researching endlessly, speaking to travel agents, booking reservations, and planning our winery tours led to the big reveal. As the departure date got closer and closer, he started firing all sorts of questions in my direction: What should I pack? Are the dogs coming? What time are we leaving? Where are we staying? What are we doing every day?
If you know me, then you know that I hate questions. So, needless to say, these questions were starting to drive me nuts as it took all of my willpower to keep my plans a secret. Then one day I knew that it was now or…well, I guess “never” was never really an option since the trip was booked…so yes, the time was now.
When he left for work, I put together a little scavenger hunt throughout our house. Each gift bag was filled with a hint about a portion of our trip with a gift tag that revealed a clue about the whereabouts of the next gift bag. When he opened the door, I greeted him with a gift bag…and he immediately started laughing.
- Gift Bag #1 Contents: Golf Ball and Tees = Resort (His reaction: “We’re going golfing?!”)
- Gift Bag #2 Contents: Trolley Car Christmas Ornament = San Francisco (His reaction: Laughter)
- Gift Bag #3 Contents: Bird Statue = Airplane (His reaction: “What?”)
- Gift Bag #4 Contents: Wine Stopper and Cork = Wineries (His reaction: Laughter)
On Sunday, we traveled down to San Francisco, met up with friends, and spent the day doing tourist activities such as visiting Pier 39, laughing at the sea lions, looking at Alcatraz, walking the Golden Gate Bridge, hiking up Lombard Street, peering through the fence at AT&T Park, eating fish on Pier 39, and enjoying dessert at Ghirardelli.
Oh, and since we’re talking about items on my husband’s “best of” list, I thought I would share with you a simple, grilled recipe that you will love preparing as the weather becomes warmer. He is completely in love with this recipe (as am I) because not only does it allow him to grill unique food, but it also comes together in minutes and is loaded with flavor.
- 1 lb pork kielbasa
- 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut into wedges
- 1 lb frozen potato and cheddar pierogies (do not thaw)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat grill to medium.
- Grill the kielbasa, turning until marked (about 8-10 minutes). Cut the kielbasa into chunks and then transfer to a large bowl.
- Whisk together the mustard and apple cider vinegar. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil while whisking until combined. Set aside.
- Combine the remainder of the extra virgin olive oil, onion, and pierogies in a large bowl and toss to coat. Grill the onion and pierogies, covered, until the pierogies thaw (about 5 minutes). Turn the pierogies and onion and grill, covered, until everything is cooked through (about 4 minutes). Transfer the pierogies to the bowl with the kielbasa. Separate the onion and place on a cutting board.
- Roughly chop the grilled onion and add it to the bowl containing the kielbasa and pierogies.
- Pour the mustard vinaigrette in the bowl and toss to coat the kielbasa, pieorgies, and onion.
- Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley.
What is your favorite vacation spot?