2012 Year In Review

Every year I like to take a little time before the New Year’s craziness to reflect back on all that’s happened over the last 365 days. It’s always kinda fun for me to put this post together – even though it takes a long time, it reminds me of all of the great (and sometimes not so great) things that have happened. Without further ado, I bring you 2012!


January 2: My 31st birthday. I spent a nice day at home and went to dinner with my family. Nothing like The Union’s fried chicken and macaroni & cheese to ring in another year!

Director's AwardJanuary 4: Mike gets the CalFire Directors Award. It was an honor to attend this ceremony not only to see Mike get his award (so proud!) but to see all of the wonderful work that others did to go above and beyond their daily jobs!

January 28: Pioneer Fire Department Crab Feed. Yes, I went to a crab feed. No, I did not eat crab. But it was actually a lot of fun. It was hosted by Perry Creek Winery and we had a great time. We entered the raffle and actually won a night’s stay at Fitzpatrick Winery and Lodge!

January 29: Professional Bull Riding. I got tickets to this through work and thought “why not?”. We had an absolute blast watching the cowboys try to stay on some pretty angry bulls! We got to sit in the suite and had a really good time!


February 11: Whitney Houston Dies. At the way too young age of 48, Whitney Houston passed away. This is one of those celebrity deaths that took my breath away… she had such an amazing voice and it’s a shame that she’s gone.Brigitte's Baby Shower

February 25: Brigitte’s Baby Shower. Our theme was mini-everything, so we had mini-desserts, mini-appies, and individual veggie cups. It was a really fun time and Brigitte looked super cute!


March 8: Fitzpatrick Winery Stay. We had the whole week off and decided to do a staycation. It was really nice to have some time home, but we also used the opportunity to use our free stay at Fitzpatrick Winery. It was absolutely beautiful and a really neat place to spend the night! We went home with a case of their anniversary Zin!

Shamrock'n HalfMarch 11: Shamrock’n Half Marathon. After three months of training, Kati and I finally made it to race day for her first and my second half marathon. I am beyond proud of my sister – we ran a 2:13 and had the best time together! I think training with her really brought us closer together!

March 17: St. Patrick’s Day Bunco. Kati and Nate hosted this one and it was so much fun! We got all dressed up in our green (even Mike got on board with his “Irish you were beer” shirt) and had a really fun time!

March 29: Lady Antebellum Concert. Kati and I did a sisters night out (little did we know, this was baby Chloe’s first concert!). It was a really good show that had Thompson Square and Darius Rucker opening for Lady A who were awesome!


April 1: Shadow Turns Seven. And promptly destroys his gift.Aspen Nicole

April 8: Kati & Nate Announce Their Pregnancy. And thus, little Chloe came to be… 🙂

April 8: Aspen is Born. Brigitte had Aspen a little earlier than expected (she’s an Easter bunny!), but she was healthy and absolutely beautiful! She weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 19 inches long.


Mother's DayMay 5: Ashley & Jim’s Wedding. Our year(s) of weddings continued with Ashley and Jim’s. Theirs was held at the Italian Picnic Grounds in Jackson and was a beautiful outdoor ceremony. We had a great time!

May 13: Mother’s Day. We spent Mother’s day with my mom at the Amador Flower Farm. It was a beautiful day and we packed a really great picnic lunch before wandering around the grounds.


June 4: San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Yup, I ran my first marathon. That’s 26.2 miles for those of you counting. My worst nightmare came true and I got really sick (hello blue porta potties), but I still finished. I’m so proud of myself – I consider this one of my biggest accomplishments so far!

June 16: Wicked. We were given tickets to see Wicked as a wedding gift from our friend Chris. This quickly moved up my list of favorite musicals to #2, right behind Phantom of the Opera. We made a night out of it and had dinner downtown – it was great!

Jake's WeddingJune 17: Father’s Day. We spent the morning boating and barbecuing with my family and the afternoon barbecuing with Mike’s. It was a fantastic day!

June 23: Jake & Gina’s Wedding. Another member of the J.A.K.E. club bites the dust. Jacob made his grand entrance in his suped up rock crawler and it was a beautiful evening. Welcome to the family Gina!


July 5: First Day of Sabbatical. I am incredibly lucky to work at an amazing company, Intel. Every seven years that you work there, you get eight weeks off (in addition to your regular vacation). The idea is that you get away from work, recharge, and come back refreshed. It’s an amazing program. It took a couple weeks to mellow out, but once I did, I had a fantastic time!Paris

July 14 – 25: Switzerland & France Trip. We decided that we wanted our big trip to be over to Europe to watch the Tour de France. We spent 16 days roadtripping through Switzerland and France. It was one of the best vacations I’ve been on – we had an absolute blast together! We hiked, rode our bikes up the Alp d’Huez, and watched the big finish in Paris.

July 31: Barenaked Ladies Concert. I joined Adam and Eva at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. I absolutely loved the venue – it’s a intimate outdoor venue, perfect for a summer evening concert. The show was amazing… I love BNL!


HouseboatAugust 4: Aerosmith Concert. They were absolutely fantastic. I can’t believe the vocal chops Steven Tyler still has… he sang “Dream On” while playing the piano and it sounded just like when he was younger!

August 14: CeeLo and Lucia join the Blankenheim family. Shadow’s life will never be the same.

August 10 – 12: Girls Houseboating Trip. I spent the weekend with my besties out on Lake Oroville. As always, we had a blast jet skiing, swimming, dancing, and drinking.


September 18: Mike Gets Promoted. I am beyond proud of my husband. After a ton of hard work, he was promoted to Batallion Chief.

September 22: Al & Kim’s Wedding. This was a beautiful wedding up in Chico. We had an awesome time and danced the night away!

September 30: Tim & Lynn’s Wedding Reception. These two lovebirds decided to surprise everyone and elope! They had a reception a month or so later so that we could all celebrate with them. In true Blankenheim style, Uncle Tim was surrounded by his family and hooked up to the ball and chain. It was great!


Kati's Baby ShowerOctober 13: Kati’s Baby Shower. We stuck with a lavender and butterflies theme, which is how the nursery is decorated. The weather was beautiful and it was so great to see all of Kati’s friends come out to celebrate with her!

October 21 – 24: First Anniversary Road Trip. Mike and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary by taking a road trip up the North Coast. It was absolutely beautiful! We started in finished the trip with a visit to Mike’s aunt and uncle up in Eugene, Oregon. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful trip or a better time!

NovemberRun To Feed The Hungry

November 22: Run To Feed The Hungry. This was the first race/event that my mom has done and I was honored to run with her. We had an absolutely great time! We’re thinking about making this a Thanksgiving Day tradition – it was nice to get some exercise in before we ate!


ChloeDecember14: Sandy Hook Elementary Shootings. A man walked into several classrooms and opened fire, killing twenty children and six teachers. He also killed his mother before turning the gun on himself. Inspired by Ann Curry, I start the 26 Random Acts of Kindness.

December 15: Chloe Noelle is born. After 28 loooong hours, Chloe was finally here. In a weekend that was a blur of exhaustion, snuggles, and poop, I got to meet my new niece. I still can’t believe how much I love her! This is one of my favorite pictures of her because she looks so goofy in it! I already took a zillion… they’re all adorable!

December 24: Christmas with the Blankenheims. We spent our traditional Christmas Eve with Mike’s family – first church, followed by an appetizer feast at Grandmas, and then presents at Ray and Nancy’s. It was great!

December 25: Christmas with the Smithsons/Barcklays. This year instead of going to my parents house, as is the tradition, we went to Kati & Nate’s since the baby is still so new. We had a blast cooking, watching movies, and of course, opening presents!

Random Act #19: Caroline Previdi

Today I completed random act of kindness number 19. We headed over to get some pizza for dinner on the way home and I decided to buy a pizza for the next person to come in and order “The Cowboy” (we were at Papa John’s and that’s their most popular pizza). The cool part was that when I told the guy at the counter what I wanted to do, he asked if I had Twitter. I said yes, why? and he told me he had heard of this #26acts thing. How cool is that? It’s catching on!

This is in honor of Caroline Previdi, a six-year-old who loved the color pink, the New York Yankees, and donated money from her piggy bank to the church toy drive.

Random Act #19: Caroline Previdi
Random Act #19: Caroline Previdi

In other news, I know in my original post I had said that I was going to try to have twenty-six acts done by December 31st, but it’s going to take a little more time. I want these acts to be meaningful, so I’m getting rid of my deadline (I’ll likely have them done in the next week or so). I don’t want to rush just to have them done by tomorrow and not do something that helps others.

Baytown Outlaws

Last night we rented Baytown Outlaws, a movie that neither of us had really heard of. After our debacle with Killer Joe the other night, we figured it couldn’t be any worse!

Baytown Outlaws (from IMDb)
Baytown Outlaws (from IMDb)

Director: Barry Battles

Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Paul Wesley, and Zoe Bell

Runtime: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Plot Summary (from IMDb): After her ex-husband Carlos shoots Celeste three times in the gut, it’s time to play dirty. In the fight for her godson, Rob, she hires three outlawed and redneck brothers to bring him back to her. But nothing can be that simple in the South. What begins as a small rescue mission rises to a southern battle royal. This odd team must shoot their way through gorgeous female assassins, Native American hunters, Federal agents, and a whole lot of metal coming after them, while protecting Celeste’s innocent child.

Rating: On Demand.

I actually thought this movie was pretty good. It had equal parts of shoot-em-up and comedy, which made it appealing to both Mike and I. As always, Billy Bob Thornton plays a hilarious role and the three brothers (I haven’t heard of any of them) were perfectly cast. This is a good, entertaining movie!

Ratings Explanation:

  • Theater: This means the movie is awesome. Go see this movie in the theater – well worth the $100 you’ll spend for a night out to see it on the big screen!
  • On Demand: Since no one actually rents movies anymore, this category has changed to On Demand. This means it’s a great movie, but it is as good at home as it is in the theater and worth seeing a little sooner.
  • TV: This means the movie is ok. Wait for it to show up on HBO and see it for free.
  • Skip It: Movie sucks, don’t waste your time.

Random Act #18: Noah Pozner

This one randomly came to me while I was driving today – I wanted to do something that would be special to a child since many of the victims were children. I stuck 50 cents into one of the sticker machines at Safeway. I know the kid who gets it may not understand, but it makes me happy to think that I’ll put a smile on a child’s face today. This is in honor of Noah Pozner, the youngest victim in this massacre. This sweet boy once told his family that he wanted to be a taco factory manager. 🙂

Random Act #18: Noah Pozner
Random Act #18: Noah Pozner

Random Act #17: Jack Pinto

Random act seventeen was to stop by my local plant nursery and leave a gift card for the next people to come into buy something. I like to think they’ll plant something pretty that will help them to remember this little act of kindness. This is in honor of Jack Pinto, a six-year-old boy who loved football so much that he was actually buried in his favorite Victor Cruz jersey.

Random Act #17: Jack Pinto
Random Act #17: Jack Pinto

Random Act #15: Anne Marie Murphy

Random act number fifteen was a fun one that tested my willpower. I walked into a local donut shop, paid for a dozen donuts, and walked out without a single one. I’m very proud. This act is in honor of Anne Marie Murphy, a teacher who died shielding her children from the gunfire. She leaves behind a husband and four of her own children.

Random Act #15: Anne Marie Murphy
Random Act #15: Anne Marie Murphy

Random Act #14: Grace McDonnell

For act number fourteen, I left a SpaFinder gift certificate in someone’s mail box. It’s this great light pink box that I drive past every day and I figured with a pink mailbox, there had to be a woman in the house who would enjoy it! This act was in honor of Grace McDonnell, a seven-year-old who loved seashells, pink & purple, and gymnastics.

Random Act #14: Grace McDonnell
Random Act #14: Grace McDonnell

Smothered Pork Chops

Tonight I decided to try a new recipe for smothered pork chops. I’m not gonna lie, they were pretty darned delicious. And it’s a nice change to the general cooking of pork chops that actually keeps them juicy.

Smothered Pork Chops
Smothered Pork Chops


4 center-cut bone-in pork loin chops

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

2 Tbsp. canola oil

2 Tbsp. butter

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

5 cloves garlic, diced

1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced

3 Tbsp. flour

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup heavy creamhot pepper sauce, to tastesteamed rice


Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chips to the pan and cook until the undersides are browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and brown the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

Add the butter to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. When the butter has melted, add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits in the pan. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the thyme. Sprinkle in the flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the stock and bring to a simmer.

Return the pork chops to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the pork shows no sign of pink when pierced, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chops to a plate. Stir the cream into the gravy in the pan and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and hot pepper sauce. Pour the gravy over the pork and serve with steamed rice.

On a side note, my mom got Kati and I “garbage bowls” for Christmas. We were both a little shocked (I had never heard of one) and joked about it. I used it last night for popcorn and Mom said to call her when I used it for real. Well, I did. And I stand corrected. It really is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It has a non-stick bottom that keeps it from moving around and is way easier to throw everything into as you’re chopping (instead of the plastic bags from the store or running back and forth to the trash). It’s the perfect size and I love the color! Thanks Mom!!!!

Garbage Bowl
Garbage Bowl

Killer Joe

So apparently all of television takes the week between Christmas and New Years off. Mike and I settled onto the sofa last night only to find that nothing was on. We started surfing through the On Demand movies and came across Killer Joe, which looked pretty decent. We were wrong. Very, very wrong.

Killer Joe (from IMDb)
Killer Joe (from IMDb)

Director: William Friedkin

Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, and Juno Temple

Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Plot Summary (from IMDb): Finding himself in considerable debt, Chris Smith, a Texan drug dealer, decides the only solution is to murder his mother to collect the insurance money. Conspiring with his father, Ansel, the ex-husband of Chris’s mother, they decide to hire “Killer Joe” Cooper, a police detective who has a parallel career as a contract killer. They plan to give the money to Chris’s sister Dottie, who Chris thinks is the beneficiary of the mother’s life insurance policy. Chris is unable to front Killer Joe’s fee. However, Chris agrees that Joe can take Dottie as a retainer until the insurance comes through.advertisement

Rating: Skip It.

Seriously, it’s a terrible movie. Any movie that starts with someone knocking on the door only to have the door opened by a naked white trash woman is not going to end well. It was all downhill from there.

Ratings Explanation:

  • Theater: This means the movie is awesome. Go see this movie in the theater – well worth the $100 you’ll spend for a night out to see it on the big screen!
  • On Demand: Since no one actually rents movies anymore, this category has changed to On Demand. This means it’s a great movie, but it is as good at home as it is in the theater and worth seeing a little sooner.
  • TV: This means the movie is ok. Wait for it to show up on HBO and see it for free.
  • Skip It: Movie sucks, don’t waste your time.