Sunday, July 7, 2013

Artichokes; Preparing them and Using them for Decoration

 Our raised vegetable garden is right behind the white rose bush just outside the dining room window. One day while admiring my roses, something caught my eye. I was shocked and amazed. After a year and half  of waiting, little teeny tiny artichokes were starring back at me.

 until I saw them there that summer morning, I had forgotten all about them.

 Here the artichokes are resting in a well suited vintage soup tureen. My display is simple. You can, however, create a mixed bouquet with other flowers and foliage. Artichokes aren't just delicious, they are beautiful as well. As the Vegetable....

 Or, as the flower. If you allow the artichoke to keep growing it will produce a beautiful purple thistle. Durable and sturdy, yet soft and delicate.

 These forgotten plants have brought much joy to me this summer.

The flowers I placed in a simple white pitcher from Crate and Barrel. The purple linen napkins, that are embroidered and read, "Bon Appetit," were a gift from my mother-in-law. The pretty shabby ironstone pitcher was my paternal grandmother's.

How to prepare artichokes:

Have you ever made artichokes? They are a family favorite here. If, you have never made them it might seem intimidating. It's Not!  Just warn your children to only eat tip of the inside leaf. I say this from experience. Lucas popped the whole leaf in his mouth his first time. My children have been in love with artichokes since they were 3 or 4.

When I make them for my family, I simply boil them whole, in a stockpot. About 30-40 minutes or until the leaves peel off easily. You can add a tablespoon of oil and salt to the water. Once cooked they are tender and easy to slice down the center of the stem. We eat them leaf by leaf. Then remove the thistle flower with a spoon.

When you make them for company you can snip the ends of each leaf.


Then, slice them down the center, coat with lemon so they stay bright green. With a sharp knife remove the thistle in the center. Leaving as much of the heart as possible. Cutting them in half and removing the thistle cuts down on the cooking time mess at the table.

Serve warm with melted butter, mayonnaise, or a mixture of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard.

If have never grown artichokes or eaten them...I say....give it a try!


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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Thunder Valley; The Provence Suite Review


Thunder Valley opened 10 years ago. Celebrations for their 10 year Anniversary are underway. The hotel, Spa, and Pool opened in 2010. Such a smart addition to a popular Casino. We like to play were we can other words earn free rooms. Red Hawk, in hotel. Cache Creek....isn't given out rooms like it used to, before the golf course opened. So, we play at Thunder.

Provence Suite

 We recently stayed in Thunder Valley's Provence Suite. At 1,070 square feet it is the smallest of the suites. Here's the large bedroom. French doors on the closet. large French doors on the bathroom. Your closet comes with two robes and two pairs of slippers to enjoy during your stay. To the right of the comfortable King bed was a velour chaise lounge. Facing the bed is a large screen TV and built in drawers. The bedroom has it's own large window and two sets of French doors with frosted glass that lead out into the living area.

 The Provence Suite comes with a large jet jacuzzi bath tub, Flat screen above the tub, waterproof remote control, large walk-in shower, two completely different sinks, both with large drawers. and a separate restroom with a phone. They give you two small boxes of bath salts.

Separate his and her sinks with lots of amenities, toothbrush, razor, saving cream, as well as the typical shampoos and lotions. There is also a separate make-up vanity.

 The room feels clean, bright, modern and spacious. This the flat screen in the living room. Right behind it is the bedroom flat screen.

 The living area is nice and comfortable. You have many lighting options throughout. Just in front of the window is a table with two comfortable chairs, perfect for in-room dining. The sofa pulls out and makes into a sofa bed. This room is perfect if you have kids. It's like having two separate rooms. The kids slept well and were comfortable. If you have kids, keep in mind that there is a

 From the bedroom going out into the living room. You can see the wet bar and stools. Very nice touch. We really liked having the bar, Keurig coffee maker (that came with coffee, decaf coffee, tea, sugars and cream. The wet bar had a small empty refrigerator. I really recommend bring drinks and snacks for your stay. It's so easy with mini "kitchen."

Down the hall and to the right is the second restroom. A toilet and nice pedestal sink. Like most modern hotels now, you have the light switch on the wall for "Privacy" or "Please make up the room" as opposed to the door knob paper sign.
 Really comfortable to come up and have a drink and get ready for dinner or gambling.
 The suites are on the 15 Th and 16 Th floor. This is a view of the pool...on zoom. I do recommend you request a view of the pool. Go to the pool the day you check out. Have them hold your luggage and stay the whole day. It's like an extra day. Go early to get good seats and an umbrella.

The Pool bar was nice. Drinks were reasonable . Especially when compared to Vegas. We had beers for $3.50 and big $10 blended Margaritas. Most of the lunches were about $14. Not bad. However.....there was one bartender all morning. Later two women serving around the pool. NO ONE cleaning the pool or collecting glasses etc. It took A VERY LONG time to be served and all the glasses around the pol and food tray just sitting there forever was kind of bummer. They were extremely under staffed. Not sure if it's always like that, but I certainly hope it changes. It's a place to rent a cabana for a party. There were a lot of locals doing that. Smart. No other resort pools nearby like this. I wish they had built a bigger pool. I don't think they thought it was going to be this successful.

KEEP IN MIND: Sundays at the pool is Thunder's H2O party. It's great for young locals, but if you aren't into big meat market parties, it' probably best to avoid the pool on Sundays. Also, we  have stayed in the winter and the hot tub isn't even open.

Why Thunder? 

Because, it's Vegas, but not as far away.

The price is right, drinks spa, etc a lot less expensive than Vegas.

If you are in or around San Francisco it's within driving distance and it's A LOT closer than Tahoe.

You have very thing you need:

Roseville is loaded with wonderful shopping ( The Galleria and Fountains) and restaurant. AND drum-roll...there is a Kid's Park in Roseville/Rocklin (ten minutes up 65 close to the Galleria. It's an hourly day care. The kids LOVE it and you can go gamble and have dinner at the casino alone. Kid's Park

Better than Cache Creek...better comps more free room offers

Redhawk doesn't have a hotel can never get comp'd a room.


Pool is small and there are not enough staff at the pool.

Even in the Provence Suite they wouldn't honor a late check-out. I didn't like that. I usually NEVER have a problem getting a late checkout. After all it means you'll probably be gambling more.

 Great day at the pool....
 Fun for everyone!


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