Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 12/16/2010

1.  So, remember my last Thirteen where I said someone needs to combine wine and cake?  (See number 11 and the picture of the banana bread beer).  Well, someone came close!  Wine and brownies.  Flour made from grape seeds and skins is used to make the brownies.  Check them out:

2.  I finished reading Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life and loved it.  C', memoir and a good read!  I loved the fact that you not only got to know the author but you got to know the chefs she encountered as well.  I just wish I was a foodie when I worked at the Culinary Academy.  I would have kept my eye out for these chefs.  I did meet Martin Yan from Yan Can Cook and both Martin and Charlie Sheen (Martin's daughter, Charlie's sister was graduating).  But wait, I've met Rachael Ray! Don't worry, she's the only "tv chef" in the book.  I was glad to discover that.  Anyway, if you're a foodie, read the book.
3.  My daughter is finally over her ear infection.  It took 2 rounds of antibiotics!  Poor girl.  She's already on daily antibiotics because of her neurogenic bladder.  Now she's taking 3 different medications.  I brought her to the doctor to get checked after she kept pulling at her ear and crying that it hurts.  My son ended up getting a flu shot while we were there.  Then he got sick a few days later.  Sheesh.

4.  My son's social class had a bake sale.  Sadly, he missed it because he was sick.  He was so, so bummed.  But he made special requests for the bake sale and we got to deliver them to the sale and some to the neighbors.

5.  For the Bake Sale I made:

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

 6.  I also made these:

Apple Pie Pockets
In my little guy's hands.
Packaged and ready to be sold!
7.  And, last but not least, for the Bake Sale I also made these:

Triple Chocolate Cookies
Two dozen fit perfectly in the box I got.

8.  I took a class at The Bar Method and really enjoyed it.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I work out 4-6 days a week with running and strength training, mixing those up with intervals or throwing a long run in, but I wanted to try something different.  The Bar Method was definitely different and I was pretty sore afterwards.  It worked my legs in ways I never had so I was sore it places I've never been sore before.  I learned that FitTV has a similar show called Exhale Core Fusion and tried that workout later in the week.  Same concept, just a different name with the same soreness!  I ended up purchasing an Exhale DVD since I had a Borders coupon.  If you get the FitTV channel look it up and try it.  It LOOKS easy but it's pretty challenging.  I especially like it because I used to take Reformer Pilates classes (they got too expensive) and this felt better than those classes.  Plus, it's a change of pace to the stuff I usually do.

9.  We celebrated my birthday with Greek food for lunch and then a Chocolate Raspberry Mousse with Chocolate Ganache cake I made.  We usually find a place that specializes in cakes and wait in anticipation until it's someones birthday so we can order something, but this year I didn't see anything that appealed to me so I decided to make my own.  I learned a couple of things while making it.  First, when you're filling is light, your cake should be too.  I should have sliced the layers so that it wouldn't weigh down the mouse too much.  Second, if you slice slice the layers you can distribute the mousse much more evenly and it will look better.  Not that it tasted bad.  It was downright delicious.  It just didn't come out EXACTLY as I wanted it to:

10.  Every Thanksgiving I always make my pumpkin pie but then change up the pecan pie.  This year I made a German Chocolate Pecan Pie.  OMG!!!  Talk about a sugar rush.  After the first couple of bites I started calling it "Crack Candy Pie" because it was just like taking a bite out a candy bar in pie form and despite the fact that the sugar hits you immediately you come back for more.

11.  I finished reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel.  The main character can taste the feelings of someone in the food they made.  Intriguing, yes?  It's a quick and entertaining read.

12.  My son made a paper turkey writing what he was thankful for on its feathers.  He wrote that he was thankful for me, his dad, sister, his friend Bryanna, candy, toys, firetrucks, windmills and of course helicopters.  The simple things!

13.  We saw Yo Gabba Gabba Live on Nov. 27 and we all had a blast.  It was like going to a rock concert.  I think I enjoyed it more than the kids.  Nicole Richie (and I guess her boyfriend/husband?) were there to do the "Dancey Dance".  Biz Markie was there to do "Biz's Beat of the Day".  We had a lot of fun.  The kids were dancing and I think at one point I was waving my hands in the air!  The following weekend, on Dec. 1 we saw Cinderella Live.  It was an awesome British Panto that really focused on the family and interacting with the audience.  Of course, that was my son's favorite part.  The very first act, one of the characters came on and said, "Hello Boys and Girls!" and my son responded back so enthusiastically that the actor turned to him and asked him what his name was and a couple more questions.  It was a wonderful experience.  Later the kids were invited onto the stage to dance the final number.  The singing and dancing numbers were set to music like "California Girls", "Low" and "Let's Get Loud" among other ingenious selections.  It was really geared toward adults and children.  It wasn't just a boring play that you brought your kids to and sat through it counting the minutes until it was over.  For example, the evil step-sisters were played by men in drag named "Seecrest" and "Cowel"!  Oh, and afterwards we had dinner close by and my son got the autograph of Jennifer Leigh Warren who played the Fairy Godmother.  She said she had heard about him backstage during the show.  I love the theater and hope my kids grow to love it as much as I do.

That's all!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween 2010

Oh, I know it's late.  Halloween was sooo last weekend but I wanted to blog about it and share some pictures.

First the treats I made for my son's class.  He started making special requests last year.  Then, I had made chocolate cookies with purple spiders: 

This year he requested Candy Corn Cookies which I thought were going to be a challenge but came together quite easily.

First we started with coloring then layering the dough:

After it's chilled for a few hours (I let this sit overnight) you slice them about a quarter of an inch thick.  This was the most "difficult" part of this because you had to slice precisely all the way down otherwise they would bake unevenly and you'd have a crispy end and a chewy end:

You cut the slices into triangles.  Any leftover pieces after the cut can be baked and snacked on (like I did for quality control purposes!)  Or you can keep to crush and sprinkle over ice cream.  These were fresh from the oven and cooling:

All done and ready to bring to school and share:

And here we are on our way back home from getting lots of goodies, most of which we gave away since my rule is whatever age they are they get to keep that many pieces and the rest is given away.  My husband helped me with my costume (thanks Hon!).  It was easy, cheap and fast to make.

By the end of the night I was already thinking of ideas for next Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 10/28/2010

The last two weeks have been rough and I REALLY need a break from reality.  Usually, the only "break" I get is a workout, whether it's a run, some circuit training or intervals OR watching the Grey's episode off our DVR because there's no way I can watch it when it's actually on.  But even both those things are interrupted by the constant bickering of my kids or the continuous "Mommy!  Mommy!" by my daughter (She's calling me to blow me kisses.  Cute I know, but not so much when I'm trying to get my workout on!)  GOOD GRIEF!  On with it:

1.  My daughter and I made Pumpkin Muffins.  She was so helpful.  I wish I had pictures of her helping but I had to do quality control and couldn't hold the camera at the same time.  Besides, I was sick and just wanted to get them baked!  I will tell you that she wanted to add lemons to the batter.  Two whole lemons.  Anyway, the muffins were melt-in-your mouth delicious.  They came out very light in texture, similar to a Goldilocks Mamon.  They weren't too sweet and had the perfect taste of pumpkin without being overwhelming.  Look!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 9/30/2010

Yowza!  It's been awhile since I last wrote.  Not enough time right now.  I thought it might be a summer thing, but really it's LIFE!  Oh, well.  I'm hoping to get back on a regular schedule soon.  Either way, this week's thirteen includes links to other blogs/websites and recipes.  Enjoy!

1.  My son started school!  He's had a few rough days sprinkled in with a couple of okay days and topped with one great day.  I was hoping that it would start out well, but so far it's been bumpy.  We're looking into a few new things for this school year and hopefully it will make the difference.

2.  My daughter is continuing gymnastics.  For some reason she's the only one in her class so it's like she's getting personal training.  She's the only one from her summer class that is continuing on and she's doing very well.

3.  As an adieu to summer vacation for our son we ate at the restaurant of his choice.  He chose The Proud Bird for the airplanes and helicopter located outside the restaurant and also for the huge bowl of m&ms at the dessert table (it was a brunch buffet).  My son was excited that his uncle came with us.  He wanted to show his uncle the retired airplanes and the food!

4.  I took a look at the magazines I subscribe to and noticed that they fall into the categories of either food, family or fitness.  I used to subscribe to a Christian magazine which would have obviously been in the faith category, but sadly it was discontinued.  Anyway, one of the magazines I read is Real Simple.  The editors of the now defunct Cookie magazine came out with a cookbook Time for Dinner: Strategies, Inspiration, and Recipes for Family Meals Every Night of the Week and in the Real Simple Family edition a few recipes were included.  I'm not sure if they're from the book, but I made two of them.  I made Dinner Pancakes and then Sausage and Apple Kebabs.  The Dinner Pancakes were okay.  A little dry and bland and I think I would have preferred to take those sauteed vegetables and made savory crepes with them instead, just as easy especially with pre-made crepes.  My daughter thought the colorful diced up veggies were m&ms though (influenced by big brother)!  She was not happy when she took a bite and realized what it was.  Hee hee.   The Sausage and Apple Kebabs, on the other hand, were a hit!  You can't go wrong with real Maple Syrup!

5.  Last summer (and part of this summer) I wanted to make EVERYTHING s'mores.  S'mores cupcakes, s'mores cake, gourmet s'mores.  Anything I could have made s'mores I was in the kitchen playing around trying to make.  This summer got away from me so I didn't have much time to experiment, BUT I am soooo going to make these Baked Apples!  I kinda wish I had some s'mores ingredients right now.  I know I have apples.  I know I have chocolate and graham crackers.  Hey, Honey, wanna go get some marshmallows after you read this?

6.  My sister made the cutest cupcakes (she loves to bake more than I do).  I had to post pictures of them:

Cute, right?  She's got skills!

7.  Speaking of family, check out this video by my cousin.  Cool and fun:  I can't embed it, so you'll just have to click on the link, turn up the volume and get your groove on.

8.  We had the chance to hit up The Manila Machine, a Filipino food truck.  What caught my eye was the Spam Slider.  I didn't get to have it because we did not come prepared and only had enough moolah for the Ube Cupcakes.  If you're an Ube lover, you'll love these.  I loved the frosting with a hint of coconut.  Wanna see?

With wrapper
See how deliciously purple they are?  That's Ube man!  Anyway, they were moist and yummy.  I'm going to harass and ask them to hang in our 'hood in the morning so that I can enjoy their Pan de Sal French Toast.  There are no convenient Filipino restaurants near us.  I must MAKE them come to me!

9.  My new favorite snack:  Hits the spot when I'm craving something crunchy and bold and NOT a salad (which is rare because I'm always on the hunt for a good salad....gotta balance out that cupcake addiction).  It's a "sometimes treat"!  Like this afternoon while I had 30 minutes of peace and quiet while my son was with his playgroup and my daughter was napping.  *sigh*  They taste like a much better version of Cheetos.  No weird artificial cheese flavor and they're much healthier.

10.  In my last Thursday Thirteen I wrote about the conversion of our daughter's crib to a toddler bed.  The first week was great...until she discovered that she could get in and out anytime she wants!  Oh, my goodness.  I think I get a good night's rest about once a month, only because I'm so exhausted I can't help but crash.  But, here's the sweetest thing that makes me forget the lack of sleep.  One morning this week she woke up just as her dad was getting ready to work, which wasn't too early so that was probably the one night I actually got some sleep.  Anyway, I was pretty knocked out but I could feel my husband put her in our bed next to me.  She was sitting there for a couple of minutes; I think she was waiting for me to say something, then she leaned over, kissed me on my cheek and said, "I love you, mommy." then laid her head next to mine.  Oh, my melting heart!

11.  My daughter, reading.  You'll have to turn up the volume to hear her.

12.  My husband went to our son's Open House at school (thank you, Love).  He saw that our son's homework chart was the only one with all his stars for completing his homework everyday so far since school started.  I'm very proud of him!  I have to say, despite all his struggling, he will do his homework with little complaining.  All because he wants to make me happy.

13.  As I finish writing this I'm watching my daughter chase around one of those Zhu Zhu Pets.  She got the one named Roxie (it's white and black with a pink mowhawk).  I've been thinking about getting them a hamster or bunny as a first pet.  I told her Roxie stays on the floor.  She's putting it on the table to watch it nose dive off of it.  I think we'll wait a bit longer on the new pet.

That's a wrap!  Have a wonderful and blessed weekend.  See good things, eat good things and do good things.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 9/09/2010

School is almost in session.  Where did the summer go?  Our bank account says we did a lot, but all I can recall is driving the kids around to all their classes and activities!  They had fun though.  In this particular blog I'm also listing a few things that happened when we went to Lawry's for dinner.  We've been there many times before but this time was different.  So different, I had to write about it.  Let's get to it:

1.  The staff at Lawry's remembered us, by name.  They especially remembered my son, which is the case at most places we frequent.  The dining room manager and one of the carvers came to our table to greet us and welcome us back.  The dining room manager told my son that he was going to come up with a little treat for him.  In our two prior visits our son received a chef's hat, carver's medal and a vest which was part of their old uniform and then a plate of huge chocolate covered strawberries on the house another time.

2.  I think I'll be running a Half Marathon in October.  I've started ramping up my miles, which has been easy since I'm always running.  Last week I ran a total of 22 miles, with 8 miles being my long run.

3.  The Surf 'n Turf special we had at Lawry's was only supposed to come with an 8 oz portion of prime rib but since our carver knew us, my hubby got a 16 oz. cut and I got a 20 oz cut (because I'm pretty, lol).  Then, my kids were supposed to split one kid entree since my baby girl only eats a little but they both got their own plates with their own servings of prime rib, and sides.  Needless to say, we had PLENTY of leftovers.

4.  I made a version of Charlotte Russe.  This one I got from a magazine.  It was good.  The recipe isn't quite right.  The waiting times are off and the measurements when working with the gelatin aren't accurate either.  It did not affect the taste.  It mostly affected the aesthetics.  It did not look exactly like the picture next to the recipe and the 5 or 6 reviews of the recipe are bad...all complaining about the same issues I had.  I wish I had seen the online reviews prior to starting the process.  I could have tweaked it.  It tasted wonderful.  Looked okay.  We all enjoyed it.  You won't see a picture of the luscious chocolate filling, since that was the part that got messed up, but here ya go:

5.  Our carver at Lawry's presented both our kids with chef's hats and medals.  They looked like they were ready to push the meat cart around which, by the way, we learned can weigh up to 800 pounds when fully loaded.  No wonder those carver guys are always on the beefy side!  Anyway, both kids loved the gifts and the attention.

6.  We got a personal tour of the entire kitchen at Lawry's after our meal, including their refrigerators and the wine cellar.  We even saw a vat of mashed potatoes being made.  2 gallons of full fat milk!  OMG!

7. I got new running shoes.  Finally!  I walked into the family owned running shoe store a few months ago and the owner mentioned the fact that it had been "some time" since I had purchased my shoes and that I was overdue for new ones.  He was right.  I especially noticed it when, after an 8 mile run, my legs felt very fatigued, which I usually don't have a problem with.  My shoes were no longer giving me feedback and I felt like I was literally "thumping" along.  Thump, thump, thump whenever my foot hit the pavement.  Not good.  But, when I hopped on the treadmill in the store and tried out my new shoes, it felt really good!  They didn't have pink ones so I got stuck with these:
Brooks Women's Ravenna Running Shoe,Sun Orange/Winter Poppy/Silver/White,9 B(M) US
Got them on Sunday and they now have 10 miles on them.
8.   No matter how long we've been in L.A. we continue to find new places to eat. We recently discovered an awesome Peruvian restaurant.  I'm not sure if it's traditional, but how can you go wrong with vegetables and chicken sauteed with tasty seasonings, mixed with french fries (yes, you read that right, french fries) and then served over rice.  Not the healthiest choice, but worth the extra few miles I have to run!

9.  Speaking of food, we went to the Gaffey Street Diner featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Okay, let me be honest, we've been there three times.  The first time, I had pumpkin pancakes.  Oh, there was a party in my tummy!  Pumpkin pancakes are my favorite and for them to have it during the summer made it even better.  I've had their banana pancakes and apple pancakes.  Both melt in your mouth delicious.  This last time we went my brother was with us.  He enjoyed every bite of the huge omelet special they have on their menu.  If you're ever in San Pedro, perhaps on your way to or back from a cruise or just happen to be in the area, make a stop there.  Right now, they're only open for breakfast and lunch because they close the restaurant during dinner hours for remodeling.  Oh, and make sure to look at the specials on the board.  That's where I found my pumpkin pancakes.

10. Remember how in #3 I said that both my kids got their own full kid portions of prime rib instead of having to split one? Well, we weren't even charged for it. Not a dime.

11.  We're really behind on our movie list, which is just as long as my book list!  Anyway, we recently used our local Redbox.  It was slim pickin's both because it was a holiday weekend and my brother had already seen a number of the movies that were available.  He and my husband decided on The Book of Eli which none of us had ever seen and I have to say I LOVED IT!  Not at all what I was expecting.  I rarely purchase movies, but I'm adding that one and The Blind Side to our mostly kid movie collection.

12.  We converted my our daughter's crib to a toddler bed on the 28th.  Now, she can get in and out of her bed anytime she wants.  Yipee!  Sort of.  It's not so cute when it's 2:00 a.m. and she's running down the hall yelling, "Help  Help!' because she can't find her binky.  I didn't know I could leap out of bed so high and fast!  Well, actually I did know, because I've done it many times before when my son used to scream bloody murder at the sound of a siren.  Now, it's helicopters.  *sigh*

Fisher-Price The Sing-A-Ma-Jigs - Pink13.  My new favorite toy.  We bought our daughter two of them, the pink one and red one.  They make me laugh.  Try one.  You can either annoy someone with it or get all of them and make a choir (which I'm going to do just for the hell of it).  Thanks to  my sisters for letting me know about them, even though I first thought they were possessed.

That's all.  Have a great weekend.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pink Red Velvet

One of my husband’s co-workers asked if I could bake a dozen Red Velvet cupcakes for her granddaughter’s birthday.  Of course, I couldn’t resist.  An excuse to bake AND enjoy extras!

She said her granddaughter loved anything pink and princess.  I knew immediately I was going to tint the dreamy cream cheese frosting (how can you go wrong with a stick of butter, cream cheese and sugar!) pink, but I wanted to do a little more.  I found a mold for a tiara cupcake topper.  It was perfect!  I just had to fill the molds, let it set and then stick them into the frosted cupcakes.

Sadly, I could not get my white chocolate to temper properly and filling the molds was not as simple as it should have been.  The molds got air bubbles in them that I could not get rid of despite all my efforts.  Alas, no chocolate tiaras.  BUT, I am going to be making a bunch of candy just for practice, so if you’re in my ‘hood swing on by.  I’ll have my very own chocolate making factory going!

Below are pictures of the cupcakes.  Nothing spectacular because, again….stupid white  chocolate!  I didn’t even bother taking pictures of the tiaras.  Only a couple came out okay, but still weren’t photograph worthy.

Pink Red Velvet
Packaged and ready to go

That’s all I got.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 8/12/2010

Summer is almost over.  That went by much too fast.  Here's this week's Thirteen, which also includes a few reviews of books I somehow squeezed in the last couple of weeks:

1.  We went to a Crawfish Festival!  It was nice, not too crowded, plus the kids had fun.  My husband had a Gator Stick and shared with our daughter.  My son wasn't interested in it.  He just wanted to dance!  Which he did, along with his baby sister.  I'm glad it wasn't too hot.  The sun was out but there was a nice cool breeze.

2.  We attended a birthday party for the daughter of a friend who I've known since both our sons attended an Early Intervention program together.  It was held at a gymnastics facility (the same one both my kids go to).  Everyone had such a great time!  My daughter was sleeping when we first arrived so when she woke up she was confused.  She started looking for her gymnastics coach, forgetting that we were there for a party.  My son enjoyed himself as well.  I was bummed (sort of) that the adults didn't get to play!  I wanted a turn on the giant trampoline!  They did say that there were adult classes available, but I'm afraid I'd hurt myself and then not be able to run anymore.  Besides, I just wanted to jump on the trampoline and nothing else.  Oh, wait.  I wanted to do the zip line thing too.  Lucky kids!

3.  Okay, book review one.  I became a fan of Jen Lancaster when I read her book:  Bitter Is The New Black.  HILARIOUS!  Seriously, if you need a good laugh and brain candy, this will do it.  I read it during my birthday trip to Vegas and while I had a great time with my family, I swear I could have just stayed on a comfy chair curled up with this book.  I've read most of her books since then; I think there may only be one that I haven't read yet.  Maybe.  I checked out My Fair Lazy from our local library.  While it was "classic" Jen Lancaster, this one didn't make me laugh as much as I had hoped.  The complete title is:  My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black, or, a Culture-Up Manifesto.  I suppose the first problem is that I don't watch much t.v. let alone reality t.v.  The only reason I even glance at shows like Survivor or Big Brother is because my hubby likes watching it.  I usually have a book or magazine in hand when those shows are on and periodically glance up when there's some sort of challenge, just to see how it will end.  While the book made me giggle every now and then and was a break from If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, there were a lot of references to several reality shows that I didn't get, simply because I don't watch them.  Still, it was a good "manifesto" and shed a little light on the effects of these so-called "reality" shows...nothing you don't already know, but with a fun spin on it.  Read it if you're a fan of many reality shows, except for the Kardashian one.  Jen writes one line about it in her book and it made me laugh out loud with such gusto my husband smiled and shook his head at me!

4.  My son started gymnastics camp and is having a great time!  My daughter takes a class there too, so when they see each other they both get excited, as if they haven't seen each other in ages.  It's cute to hear them yell out each other's names as they happen to pass each other.

5.  My parents, brother and his girlfriend came down to move my bro down and to visit.  I'm excited for my brother starting grad school, but I know he's nervous and it's a big move for him.  It's a pretty intense Ph.D. program, with few breaks, but I know he'll do well.  I'm very proud of him.

6.  Another book review:  The One That I Want: A Novel.  A book like this is usually not my cup of tea but it was on Jen Lancaster's fiction read list.  I'm always curious what author's read and when Jen came out with her list I picked this book from it.  I picked this one, piqued by its premise about the main character being able to see the future.  For me, it was a quick and somewhat interesting read, but too obvious and with too much of a "made for t.v." ending.  I don't watch the Lifetime channel (I just see commercials on other channels sometimes) but this book is dripping of a Lifetime movie.  Too much "chick lit" for me.

7.  A few days ago both my son and I were feeling a bit under the weather, not on the same day, but feeling a bit off nonetheless.  On both occasions my baby girl came up to each of us and asked what was wrong.  I told her I wasn't feeling good and when she asked her big brother what was wrong he replied, "I'm sick, leave me alone!" (LOL).  Both times my daughter, sweetie that she is, went and got her doctor kit to "fix" us.  I got several shots and was instructed to say, "Aaaaah" as she shoved a thermometer in my mouth.  My son was not as cooperative and just got a lot of shots and was repeatedly asked, "You okay?"  My son found it more annoying than endearing.  Still, it was one of those things that if she were to become a doctor, I can recall this and tell her that's when it started.  And if she doesn't want to be a doctor, I can still recall this and tell her how thoughtful and caring she's always been.

8.  Tomorrow my girlfriend at 10x Desserts is celebrating a birthday.  Happy Birthday my dear friend!  Check out her blog filled with beautiful, mouthwatering and inspiring photos and recipes.  Cheers to you!

9.  Last book review:  The Pact: A Love Story.  This is my second Jodi Piccoult book.  My first was My Sister's Keeper: A Novel before the movie came out.  (Which, by the way, if you have NOT watched the  movie yet, I highly suggest reading the book first.  Trust me.  The movie does not do this book justice).  Anyway, The Pact was an intense page turner that follows two teens and their families after a suicide pact is carried out, except there is one survivor.  I can't say much more, except that I really, really liked this book and many times while I was reading it my heart was pounding and I found myself holding my breath.

10.  August 13 marks the 2 year anniversary of my daughter's spinal surgery.  My daughter was born with a tethered spinal cord which attached to her left hip.  The surgery that was done short of her turning 5 months old was to release as much of the spinal cord as possible to avoid complications as she begins to grow (as portrayed once in a Grey's Anatomy show...though they made it seem like a simple snip would make it all go away.  Um, no!)  I thank GOD that the surgery went well and while her bladder is "paralyzed" (she has a neurogenic bladder) it's not her legs, which was very possible.  She's a happy, jumping, dancing all over the place little girl.  I am very thankful she is my daughter.

11.  Speaking of my daughter...I rarely wear perfume because my husband is sensitive to my favorite ones and refers to it as my "Husband Repellent".  One morning, I sprayed some on, knowing that by the time my hubby got home the scent will have dissipated.  We were on our way out so I picked up my baby girl and as I did she crinkled her nose, sniffed a few times (she sounded like a bloodhound on the hunt) and then asked quickly in a very tiny, inquisitive voice, "What's that smell?"  It made me laugh because she asked as if she wanted to keep it on the down low but just had to know and she said it so fast it came out more like "Was-sat-smell?"!  Then, since I laughed, she kept doing it.  I need to catch her doing it.  It is so funny.

12.  My poor son lost the m&m hat he got while we were in Vegas last year.  He lost it at the Craw Fish Festival.  He loves m&ms and when we went to the m&m store I gave him a pretty big budget, knowing he'd want a bunch of stuff.  If you happen to go to Vegas please let me know.  I'd like to replace the hat!

13.  Last, but not least, I think I found a race.  A half-marathon in October.  I haven't signed up yet because for some reason they don't have all the info I need to make an informed decision, BUT I have started training.  I've already changed up my workout routine and am ramping up the mileage.

That's all folks.  Have a wonderful weekend. 

Count your blessings.

Monday, August 9, 2010

And the winner is...

Well, look up and you'll see!

Congratulations to Lisa for her suggestion.  She won a copy of Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids.

Many thanks again, for those who participated.  I loved your entries and found it hard to pick, which is why I had to have it voted upon.  As a thank you, I'll be emailing you a recipe from the book.  Something mouth watering and scrumptious!

Check back often as I will have giveaways periodically.

Thanks again!

Monday, August 2, 2010

VOTING ENDS Monday 8/9/2010

Many thanks to those who participated and have a chance to win Sticky, Chewy, Messy Gooey Treats for Kids.

If I do this right there is a poll just to the right of this post for voting.  You can only vote once so be sure to forward to your family and friends and get them to vote too.  If you've been referred to this link by a friend, you are voting on which sentence best fits this blog's title and my posts.

Results will be announced Monday (8/9/2010) evening.

Good luck!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 07/29/2010 and CONTEST DETAILS!

Wow, a chance to sit and write.  It won’t last long so I better hurry up.  Keep reading for my contest giveaway.  Here we go:
1.  My baby girl started gymnastics.  She LOVES it.  And she’s really good too.  Wanna see? 7-14-10 Gymnastics2.  My son started summer school.  Not too much fun for him (or I for that matter) but it keeps him in “school mode” and gives me a little break, despite all the driving around I’m having to do.

3.  We went to the Aquarium of the Pacific.  We had so much fun.  The kids loved being able to touch starfish and bat rays.  Care to take a look? Tuoching Bat RaysTouching Starfish
4.  My brother and his girlfriend came to visit.  It was nice to see them and spend time with them.  He’s moving down here to get his Ph.D. in Physical Therapy.  I’m so very proud and so excited for him.  It’s going to be tough but it will pay off in the end.

5.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or because things can get hectic with my little ones (or a combination of both) but I find myself wearing my shirts backwards or inside out, frequently.  One time I even picked my son up from school wearing a crew neck t-shirt backwards.  Thankfully, it was a plain t-shirt so it was a little hard to tell.  Why am I telling you this?  Well, because as I was typing this I happened to look down and noticed that my shirt looked different.  The logo on the front was gone.  That would be because not only was in backwards it was also inside out.  Sheesh!

6.  I love that my daughter holds her pens/markers/crayons/pencils with the appropriate tripod grasp instead of the “kiddie way”.  From the first time she picked up a crayon she’s held it that way.  I like to watch her try and write her name as she spells it out.  It’s so cute.

7.  Last Saturday (7/24/2010) we attend the American Heroes Air Show.  Of course, my son had an awesome time.  We saw helicopters taking off and landing, and doing water drops.  It was pretty cool.  My son was so excited.  I think I was more excited for him!  There were fire trucks and S.W.A.T. there too.

8.  As you can see, you’re reading this on a new blog.  My previous post explains why.  You’ll have to read it to get a better feel for my contest!

9.  My son participates in a social group for kids with special needs.  It’s geared to teach kids correct social behavior amongst their peers.  He loves it.  It gives him something to look forward to once a week, especially since they do something different every week.  Last week they made tie-dyed shirts.  He even got to make one for his baby sister.  They came out great.  I’ll post pictures later.

10.  For lunch over the weekend we found a noodle place near UCLA.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a menu with so many different kinds of noodles.  There was Chinese, Japanese, Thai and I swear I think there was Italian too!  It was yummy and of course the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  It helped that they served boba smoothies there too.  My son got a strawberry one and shared with his baby sister, though she wasn’t too fond of it.  I didn’t let her have any of the balls, she just took a sip of the smoothie.

11.    I  baked individual mixed berry crumbles while my brother and his girlfriend were in town.  I forgot to take pictures, but they were tasty and easy to make.  I love summer, when berries are abundant and in season.  Our fridge is overflowing (thank GOD) with all sorts of fruit, but especially berries.

12.  I’m looking for someone who can design my blog pages on the cheap.  If you know anyone let me know.  I’m not looking for anything extravagant, just something simple and something that fits my personality and my blog.  Leave me a comment if you or someone you know is interested.

13.  The moment you’ve been waiting for.  CONTEST.  Here it goes.  I’m looking for a good one sentence description of my blog that will go right below my blog title, obviously one that will fit the blog title and me.  For an example see here.  My hubby originally came up with “One mom’s journey through life with her plate full” and while I liked it at first, I thought there has to be something with a little more, um…ooomph.  So, leave me a comment below with your suggestion and email address (so I can contact you if you win, not for any other reason).  I’m looking for something witty and clever, so BRING IT!  Next Monday, August 2, I’ll take my five favorites and post a poll for everyone to vote on.  The winner gets a copy of Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids. since this is a blog about family and food (you bring your faith!)

There you have it.  Check back often and definitely check back next Monday to see the Top 5.  Happy commenting!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A fresh start

Why?  Because I started my other blog with anger in my heart and it was ugly.  When I first started that blog I wanted the title to have the word "faith" in it, but I was too upset to even consider my faith in Jesus to help me heal from the wrong that was done to me and my husband, yet again.  Thus, I could not bring myself to use it in the title of a blog that revealed the dark in me instead of the light of Jesus.  The posts prior to this one were the only ones I wanted to import from that sad, anger-filled blog.

I'll admit, I'm very, very far from even wanting to reconcile with my husband's daughters.  Too much damage has been done.  Years of gratitude when they got what they wanted then ungratefulness and disrespect when they misunderstood or perceived they were wronged, have left me drained and not wanting to deal with them, period.  Nor do I want them around my kids.  If they can treat their own father, who has been there for them despite the many obstacles he's faced, the way that they do, then they are not good examples or positive role models for my kids.  It has been a documented pattern of them only being nice when they wanted something and then treating us horribly the rest of the time.  Time and time again, we have forgiven them, but I will no longer let them take their problems out on me, despite the many times they've said they're "over it".  I used to be a very positive person, somewhat skeptical but always positive.  Sadly, I have allowed these girls and their behavior to make me cynical and I dislike feeling that way.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beer Hopping!

First, an update.  I know I haven't blogged in awhile, but summer is here and my schedule is all over the place.  So, I won't be cooking a dish every weekend that I can blog about nor will I be doing a Thursday Thirteen every week.  I'll do what I can, when I can.  Just check back when you can!  Until then, have a wonderful, fun-filled, adventurous and safe summer!  Now, on with the Beer Hopping!

I happened upon a beer pairing dinner being held at our local Whole Foods and thought it would be something my husband would enjoy attending for our anniversary.  I'm not a beer drinker (I really don't drink much at all.  It gets in the way of my workouts.) but my hubby likes Samuel Adams beer and this was the beer they were featuring.  Plus, the menu looked divine.

There were 15 people in attendance.  We were seated in the tapas area of Whole Foods, which is somewhat enclosed so that shoppers weren't gawking at us while we were there.  Below are pictures of the meal taken with my cellphone, so the quality is so-so.  I've also listed the beer paired with each course along with its link (you'll have to verify your age before it brings you to the linked page).  My thoughts on each course and beer are also included.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 06/10/2010

Here we go:

1.  There was filming going on in our neighborhood again.  I thought it was another Dexter episode (a couple of shows from the third season were filmed at a home a couple of blocks from us) but I found out it’s a Kashi commercial.  It’s amazing to see the production that goes into shooting a commercial.  Prop trucks, catering trucks, costume and makeup trucks circled the block and then some.  All for a commercial.  I should have walked in.  I could have been in it!  Well, maybe my daughter.  She’s much cuter.

2.  We went to see Sesame Street Live!  We had so much fun.  I got a kick out of the kids, especially the way my daughter reacted.  My son was still feeling a little under the weather and was more interested in buying stuff, but he still enjoyed it.  My daughter danced in the aisles and in her seat.  I love taking them to live performances.

3.  This week my husband and I celebrated our anniversary.  Man, how time flies.  We’ve been through a lot in the short 8 years we’ve been together.  We’ve always been up against something, but have been blessed through it all.

4.  I didn’t get to bake over the weekend.  I had planned on testing another recipe but will have to wait until this weekend.  I also wanted to bake a Charlotte Russe, but that will have to wait too.

5.  I cooked Pork Menudo.  Very tasty and we had A LOT leftover.  That made one less day for me to cook and my hubby was able to bring some for lunch.  It was a lot of food.  I should have thrown a party!

6.  My baby girl does not like being scolded (who does?) or when I’m scolding her brother or daddy.  What makes me smile though is when she knows someone is about to get in trouble and she hears the irritation in my voice, she holds her hand up and says, “Stop.”  I can’t help but calm down because she says it with such authority.  She did, however, get in trouble with daddy because she “shushed” him while he was scolding her.  That got her in more trouble.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Weekend Dish: Pork Menudo

This dish serves 6 to 8 and takes 45 minutes to prepare.  This looks much more daunting than it actually is, so don’t fret.  Well, it looked daunting to me at first glance but it came together rather easily.  Oh, and this is a perfect recipe to use a Vidalia Chopper for the veggies.  I have one and it’s by far, my favorite kitchen gadget.

 Here are your ingredients:
Pork Menudo-1 
  • 4-5 cups of pork, cut into small pieces, cubes preferably
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of annatto water (See recipe below. They are also known as anchuete or anchiote seeds. I found these in the Latin aisle of my grocery store with other spices and seasonings. You can omit if you can’t find it)
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, finely sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes or 1 large, cubed into small pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, cubed into small pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of rice (cooked according to package directions)
Annatto* water:
  • 1 Tablespoon of annatto
  • 1/2 cup of water
*The Annatto water will stain your fingers, so be sure to wash your hands immediately after you squeeze the seeds.  To help, you can coat your hands with a little vegetable oil prior to squeezing.

Soak seeds in water 15 to 20 minutes.  Using your fingers, squeeze the seeds in the water to release its color.  The water will turn orange or red, depending on how much you get squeezed out and how long you let it soak.  Using a fine mesh colander or a couple of cheese cloths carefully strain the liquid into a container.  Here’s how it comes out before straining:

Pork Menudo-3
Pork Menudo-2 


In a covered pan over medium heat, bring the pork, soy sauce, vinegar, annatto water, tomatoes, salt and pepper to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer 20-25 minutes or until meat is almost tender.

In the meantime, in deep non-stick  pan, fry potatoes in 2 tablespoons of oil until lightly browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Using the same pan over medium heat, sauté garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil for about 30 seconds.  Add onion and red pepper and stir for a minute.  Add browned potatoes and cooked pork mixture.  Simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened.  Stir occasionally.  Serve over cooked

This recipe didn’t call for the raisins I’m used to, which I was okay with since I just pick them out anyway.  You can add raisins to the last simmering step.

I’m sure you can convert this to a slow cooker recipe, saving the potatoes, onion, garlic and red pepper for when you get home.  I would cut back on the 1/2 cup of water the recipe calls for down to 1/4 cup, or omit it completely and just add the annatto water.  You can leave it in the slow cooker on high for 4-6 hours or low 5-7 hours.  Proceed with pan frying the potatoes and the remaining steps.  Your end result may be more “saucy”, but that’s okay.  It will still be yummy!

Pork Menudo-4

This turned out great.  It didn’t taste quite like the Menudo I’m used to, but I think that’s because the raisins were missing.  Regardless, everyone loved it.  Maybe next time I’ll add the raisins and pick them out.

Pork Menudo-5
Happy cooking (and eating)!