Chili, barbecue, and the start of the season

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In case I hadn’t mentioned it earlier, Vivian and I have recently started attending Twin Valley Church here in Bellevue, the very church where we got married two and a half years ago. That’s right, we’ve abandoned our local mega-church in favor of a small church where people actually recognize us when we walk inside. It’s a very welcome change. We had dinner with our pastor and his family recently, Vivian’s singing with the choir, and I’m being recruited do such things as work the audio board and A/V system when other people are out of town. It certainly feels nice to be involved someplace again.

On Tuesday night, we went to dinner at Amarillo with Mark and Lisa from church. Amarillo is a barbecue restaurant on Fort Crook road where I took Jack and Donna for their blessing before I proposed to Vivian in 2008. It’s been open for a couple decades now and had such noteworthy guests as Sean Penn, Garth Brooks, and several others. Its last night open was Nov. 30, so we got to enjoy some ribs, feather bones, and “dirt cake” for one last time.

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On Friday night, I attended the Friendship Program Christmas Party at Venice Inn, imbibing in a few drinks with co-workers before gorging on steak and toasted ravioli.

On Saturday, we finally got our Christmas tree. We found a lovely little Fraser Fir at a nearby lot and hauled it home (slipping and sliding all the way) on top of my Taurus. It fit just perfectly in the living room, and Vivian and I spent the next couple of days decorating it with lights and ornaments. Our whole living room is now basking in the soft, warm glow of the holiday season every night.

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On Sunday evening, it was time for Eric and Ben’s annual Chili “Throwdown,” held once again in the Nothnagel basement. This thing seems to get bigger every year, with 42 guests and about 15 or 16 competitors joining in this year. Vivian made up her Best Chili You Will Ever Taste once again, and I put together my own special concoction: pizza chili. It included typical chili ingredients such as ground beef, onions, and stewed tomatoes, but I also added green peppers, black olives, mushrooms, garlic, pizza seasoning, pepperoni, Jimmy Dean’s hot sausage, and pizza sauce. I think it came out quite well and it won a prize for “most unique” chili of the evening.

Vivian and I were predictably stuffed by the end of the night, quite possibly because we did more sitting around and watching the Simpsons pretend to be Muppets instead of dancing off what we’d just eaten. Maybe next year.

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