Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday Thirteen 07/07/2011

Summer is here!  I've been quiet lately because I've had so much going on.  My daughter has been going through assessments for preschool placement.  Plus, both my husband and I got sick.  Bleh.  Then we had our trip to Texas.  Anyway, I finally have a chance to write about the past few weeks, so here we go:

1.  We often go on what my kids have named "Family Walks".  Usually, it's through our neighborhood just to get out and get some fresh air or to go to the park or to get a treat, like frozen yogurt.  This summer, though, we're going to find different trails around the city.  They may be near the beach or up in the hills or even a site seeing neighborhood trail, but we're going to try and do as many as we can during the summer.  Our first was at the Venice Canals.  This was really just an intro for the kids, so it was obviously in a neighborhood in Venice which, yes, has canals!  And beautiful homes.  Gorgeous, expensive homes.  The kids had fun, especially when we got to walk the bridges over the canals.  They loved seeing the ducks and the butterflies.  Afterwards, we walked just a couple of blocks and enjoyed lunch at an Italian Trattoria.  It was a relaxing day, which for me, is rare.  I'm usually on the go, non-stop, always thinking of what needs to be done.  I don't know how to relax anymore.  Even as I'm typing this I'm watching the clock because I plan on going for a run.  See?  Non-stop.

2.  My son's social group threw the parents a party.  It was so, so cute and fun.  Everyone brought a  dish.  We brought fruit salad upon my son's request, which I appreciate since it's the healthier option.  As my daughter and I entered the room, my son escorted us to our seats and gave us the menu he wrote up (each child wrote the menu for their parents).  On it was hummus, salsa, pita chips, tortilla chips, fruit salad, carrot cake, strawberries and strawberry lemonade.  One of the kids got creative and incorporated the Angry Birds game into the menu, writing things like "Red Bird Strawberry Lemonade" or "Three Little Blue Birds Pita Chips".  After taking our order, my son filled our plates and served us.  My daughter said, "This is the best restaurant ever!"  It only lasted 45 minutes but it was so much fun.

3.  I've signed up for my next Half Marathon.  Of course, it's a Disney one, again.  I couldn't resist signing up for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.  I've been told to run with fairy wings, but that's to be expected so I'm trying to think of something else, being a rebel and all.  Hee-hee.

4.  So, waaaaayy back in October of last year I mentioned that I had purchased a Christmas present for someone (it was my youngest sister) but that I couldn't blog about it because it was a surprise.  Well, now I can finally blog about it.  I went to a book signing by Bakerella (the wonderful woman who introduced me to the world of Cake Pops).  I got my sister Bakerella's book personally addressed and signed by the Cake Pop queen herself.  I even got a picture with her:
Isn't she a doll?
5.  I have insomnia most of the time.  I'd say I sleep really well,  maybe 3 out of 7 days.  Those times that I can't sleep I stay up late reading and I usually have the TV on.  There was once a time that I could only fall asleep to the TV.  Anyway, as late as it can be sometimes and since I'm not really watching, I usually turn it to some infomercial or to HSN or QVC.  One evening I saw Yonanas on QVC.  I had never seen it before and it caught my attention.  Soft serve ice cream using frozen bananas as the base and adding other frozen fruit and NOTHING else!  No milk, no cream, no salt, NO SUGAR, no ice cream maker needed!!  I had to, HAD to try it.  I figured if I didn't like it I could return it.  In anticipation of its delivery I froze a few bananas.  I made some ice cream the evening it arrived.  It was a hit!  I love it.  I've read a few reviews saying that you can do the same thing in your food processor, but as an owner of a food processor and a Blendtec blender, I'm telling you, YOU CAN'T.  I mean, you can do it but the texture will not be the same.  It won't be as smooth as what you get from Yonanas AND it won't have the texture of soft serve ice cream.  I've left this small footprint gadget on my counter since we're using it a lot.  There is just hint of banana taste (they say you can't taste the banana) but that might just be because I know it's made with bananas.  Unless we add ingredients to it afterwards (Yonanas only processes frozen fruit, nothing else) it's as organic as we want it to be and all fruit.  It's great for those who have food allergies or are lactose and gluten intolerant.  I like that my kids get an extra serving of fruit and a cool summer treat.

6.  I read House Rules: A Novel, by Jodi Picoult.  I wouldn't consider myself a Picoult fan, but I have read 3 of her books. My Sister's Keeper: A Novel is still my favorite one (No, I haven't watched the movie.  I heard the ending was ALL WRONG.)  House Rules was good, predictable, but good.  What I enjoyed most about it was that it really gives an outsider a bit of insight into what it's like to have a child with special needs.  The book is centered on a boy with Asperger's Syndrome.  Picoult did a wonderful job with the boy's mom; bringing to light what goes through a parent's mind while caring for a child with special and specific needs.  I found myself relating to her very much.  It was a good, quick read. 

7.  In a previous post I mentioned that I was experiencing pain on my left side and ended up in the ER.  My last trip to the doctor along with testing, showed nothing abnormal, thank GOD.  The pain is slowly fading, but we still don't know what it was.  I'm just thankful for the prayers, that nothing abnormal was found and that it's beginning to heal.  It was getting in the way of my workouts and exercise is my stress relief.  I need my stress relief!

8.  I try to keep my kitchen tools basic and multi-tasking.  This Peach Pitter, from Williams Sonoma, may not be a multi-tasker, but I love how it works.  It slices right through a peach or nectarine, getting as much of the fruit as possible and leaving the pit behind.  You want to know the BIG plus about it?  I can quickly make a peach cobbler with perfect, uniform slices!  (I know my husband is reading this wondering, "Where is that cobbler?" and "Of course you'd wanted your peach slices to be uniform!"  Honey, you asked for Lemon Bars first and yes, my peach slices have to be uniform!)

9.  My hubby and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.  We went out for Indian food (and got it half priced!) and then for a little dessert at The Cheesecake Factory.  It was a nice evening.  We don't go out often, but when we do we relish that time together.  Same goes for cheesecake.  I don't have it very often so when I do I relish my time with it!

10.  Speaking of wedding, my daughter and I were in Beverly Hills running errands and we happened to walk past a boutique with beautiful wedding gowns in the window.  She wanted to stop and stare (they weren't open yet, otherwise we would have went in).  She asked what kind of dresses they were and I explained that they were wedding dresses.  She promptly said she wanted to get married.  Now, I know she's only a little over 3, but saw a teachable moment.  I told her that she could get married once she was done with school, had a good career and could take care of herself (trying to keep it as simple as possible.)  She then proceeded to tell me that she wanted to marry a prince (again, another teachable moment).  I expounded that the right "prince" for her would be someone who was educated, respectful and kind; someone who was hardworking, honest and compassionate and most of all someone who would be good to her.  She then said, with conviction, "Mommy, when I'm done with preschool I'm going to marry a prince."  YIKES! I tried to clarify that there was more school after preschool only to be met with, "But mommy, you said after school I could get married!!"  I was trying to hard not to laugh since this was a "serious" conversation.  When we got home she told my husband her plans for marrying a prince after preschool.  When I tried to explain that she had more school after preschool she got upset.  Finally, when she once again proclaimed her post-preschool plans, I shrugged and said, "Good luck with that!"  I haven't heard anything more from her on the subject, but in the end, I pray she finds her prince.

11.  I finished reading Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.  As a runner, I knew I was going to read it.  I just didn't realize how much I was going to love it.  I was captivated from the first to the last page.  You want to know what a real hero is?  Read this book.  These days, much of society gives praise to overpaid celebrities and greedy sports figures or unscrupulous politicians.  This book is a depiction of true heroism, selflessness and real teamwork.  It's a walk through history, a lesson in overcoming what anyone would consider insurmountable circumstances and what we choose to do afterwards.  Seven years of detailed research has been put into this book and is worth the time and money.

12.  I know I shared this on my personal Facebook page but wanted to share here as well.  Here is a wonderful recipe for what Lucinda Scala Quinn calls "Busy Day Chocolate Cake".   My husband said it was the best chocolate cake he's EVER had (and mind you I've made other chocolate cakes!)  I just dusted mine with confectioner's sugar once it cooled instead of topping with buttercream.  It's dairy free and egg free, making it a vegan chocolate cake.  You could probably make some after you read this since the ingredients are basic.  Enjoy!

13.  I end this post with a picture of the Strawberry Rhubarb pie I baked for my husband on our anniversary:


Have a wonderful and blessed weekend!

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