Monday, December 12, 2011

remember these?

I gave my {handsome}brother Denny a vintage copy for his birthday last year (along with some happy socks, because really, who doesn't need a pair ot two?)

As a kid I adored these books and would steal them from Denny's room.  These days though, I think I prefer this kind of choose-your-own adventure.  How fun!  Happy Monday all! =)  (And in case you are wondering, the song from the link is Free My Mind by Katie Herzig.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

making a list and checking it twice.

I am not one of those people. I do not have it all together this time of year.  I haven't completed all my shopping by Thanksgiving.  My Christmas cards aren't stamped and ready to send December 1.  My house is never fully decorated.  I get stressed out and overwhelmed with everything that has to get done during the holidays.  And because of that feeling, I often am not completely present in the moments of Christmas that actually do bring so much joy.  

When the first inkling of stress began the day after Thanksgiving, I practiced my yoga breathing, slightly calming myself.  This year I was going to focus more on the actual doing, and waaaaaaaaaay less on the getting done.  To that end, and in keeping with holiday tradition, I made a list, but not a list of "to dos" or "to buys."  The list isn't about accomplishing anything or checking things off of it.  I titled it "Things I Enjoy about the Holidays."  Over the last couple of weeks, I've been adding to it, while at the same time carefully curating, so as not to include anything out of pure obligation or because the collective "we" has been doing it forever.  

I carry my list, written in a spiral bound notebook, around with me in my rather large handbag.  It's written in my swirly, slightly messy script and I can refer to it whenever I need reminding of what is  important to the four people that live in our little house.   I realize that I can't completely eliminate the stressors or the "have-tos" of the season, but I can check my list when I'm feeling overwhelmed, harried, or irritated.  I can choose to come back to those experiences that remind me of the spirit of Christmas and why I do love it so.

A few of the things from my list: 
(in no particular order and included here because I have it captured in a photograph)

Hiding Rocky the Elf every night before I go to bed and experiencing the 6 year old's joyfulness when she comes running in our room at 6 am to tell her sleepy, bleary eyed momma where she found him.

Taking the night train to see Santa at Irvine Regional Park.  So much better than waiting in line at the mall.  (And oh how I love this picture.  Does that make me a little bit evil?)

Decorating gingerbread houses with the six year old and her bestie.  

Searching for the "perfect" tree.  (Sparky always finds it within 45 seconds of being at the lot and I always make him look for at least 20 more minutes.  This has been going on well before we were married. ;)

Preparing and sharing yummy food with all of my loves.

Christmas pajamas!

Watching all the gorgeous boats go by at our friends Kim and Kevin's boat parade party, as seen from the Bay Club.

Gettin' a little bit fancy to go out with Sparky (sans children.) 

Please visit my friend Torrie over at ...a place to share.  She's written her own list which I can't wait to read.  And Torrie doesn't know it, but she, in part, inspired me to make mine.  I love her blog.  She always keeps it real, sharing not just the "looks good on paper" stuff, but also some of the relatable struggles of life.  Dontcha just love a friend like that?!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

a little bit rocky.

It's that time of year again.  The time of year when I blatantly use Santa as a motivator, and-- let's just call a spade a spade--a (possible) punisher.  I attempt to keep it positive but it's the same way I use "the manager" at restaurants and the grocery store.  (As in, "Oh my gosh, Georgia, the manager is going to come over here and tell us to LEAVE if you don't stop jumping up and down in the booth..., screaming..., standing up in the cart..., taking off your clothes...")  We have our little friend Rocky the Elf to join in the fun of "Santa's Watching."  Last year, Rocky was MIA the first day of December but happily, this year he's found some mischief right off.

Happy Saturday!
Only 21 more mornings to go.  Only need 21 more creative "hiding" places for our elf.  Any ideas?!

Friday, November 25, 2011

"sin"amon pumpkin muffins*

Hi y'all.  It's been awhile.  I've missed you.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving (but you probably know that.)  About a month ago, I made an executive decision not to slave away all day cook on Thanksgiving.  I also made an executive decision that my mom wasn't slaving away cooking either.  Along the same line, I decided we weren't doing any dishes for some poor schmuck lovely soul who might be willing to invite us all to dinner.  I was tired after this laborious decision making but I had just enough energy to pick up the phone to make a reservation at Bayside in Corona del Mar.  After that, I patted myself on the back and sat down on the couch to rest.

Quite a few things were behind the ban on cooking this year.  Mainly, this meal seems like SO MUCH WORK, which, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, I like to cook.  I love the process of bringing seemingly random ingredients together and creating amazing delicious dishes for friends and family to enjoy.  But this meal, for me, requires much work with very little payoff.  We have a small crew for Thanksgiving.  The man part of the equation is done eating in 15 minutes.  The littles like nothing about the meal but the turkey/gravy combination.  My mother and I now argue over discuss cornbread stuffing vs. her stuffing.  I don't like pumpkin pie.  Or pecan for that matter.  So I decided to be selfish.  And I feel very good in that decision.

Now that's not to say I didn't cook anything on Thanksgiving.  I got up early and while the children watched Sesame Street Phineas and Ferb :( and the husband went on his 10 mile run (go Sparky!),  I baked these muffins for our first annual "Thanksgiving Day at the Beach."  I love traditions.  And sometimes, we need to create a couple of new ones.

The muffins have a delicious cinnamon surprise center and a crumbly streusel topping.  They go equally well with a cup of coffee or, as I prefer,  a morning mimosa on the sand. 

Pumpkin "Sin"amon Muffins* 
Yields 19 large muffins

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons water 

1 box spice cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons room temperature butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pan with cupcake papers or lightly grease.

Mix topping ingredients well until crumbly.  (I use my clean fingers.)

Prepare filling by mixing all ingredients well with fork or hand mixer.

Prepare batter by mixing with hand mixer on low for 30 seconds.  Increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes, scraping down sides. 

Divide half the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  (I made 19 muffins.)  Dollop approximately 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon filling onto each muffin, then top with remaining batter.  Sprinkle a little topping over each and pressing lightly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and lovely.

Oh, and if you forget to put the topping on the first batch like I did, make this cream cheese frosting, because well, every muffin needs a topper. =)

*People, let's call these what they are-- CUPCAKES! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

now and then i think of all the times you screwed me over.

I'm ever so slightly obsessed with this song right now. (The six year old has asked me repeatedly "Really, Mom? Again?") I'm not sure why as it hasn't any relevance to my (current) life. But I guess at one point or another we've all felt the emotions this song reveals, yes? Plus it's got quite a catchy tune. =)

I'm particular keen on moment 2:33. Happy listening!  (Give the song a full listen, it starts a bit sloooooow.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

i love black too, but...

In my opinion, this dress is a lesson in the unflattering.  How could you do this to your lovely figure?  Gwyneth, I love ya, but boo.

i love color.

My favorite of the night.  And because it's never been said before--wow, her body is smokin'.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

cocktail for the soul.

Fill a large plastic tumbler with ice and half of a pineapple, cut into chunks.  (They are small and perfectly ripe here.)  Pour equal parts water* and Hangar One Mandarin Vodka** over the ice/pineapple mixture.  Stab pineapple repeatedly with wooden chopsticks (that you picked up when buying the best ever poke from the Kahuku Superette.)  Sip slowly enjoying the sounds of the waves crashing and/or the sight of the Ohauan sunset from your newly acquired (yet temporary) front yard.  Occasionally, use your mad chopsticking skills to nibble on vodka-drenched pineapple.


* Or soda, if you prefer some bubbles.
**Any old vodka will do. =)

Monday, August 15, 2011

the accidental crouton.

I was making a salad for dinner because I had a crisper drawer full of romaine, yellow peppers, cucumbers, carrot, fresh mint, red onion and a refrigerator full of not much else.  Sparky is usually down for a salad as dinner as long as there is some sort of meat in it.  Well, I had no meat.  I didn't even have any cheese.  I did have a can of garbanzo beans and three stale onion bagels in a mostly bare pantry.  Hmmmm, I thought, I wonder if I can make a good crouton out of those.  And guess what?  I could and did.  They were actually the best croutons I've ever made, and next to the croutons at The Quiet Woman, they are the best croutons I've ever eaten.  (Great on a salad, but delightful as a snack with a large glass of cab while watching forbidden dvr'd television after littles have gone to bed.)

The Accidental Crouton
Onion bagel(s) (I had Sara Lee Deluxe.)
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut onion bagel into large bite size pieces.  On a rimmed cookie sheet, douse the bagel chunks liberally with olive oil and toss.  Make sure each piece of bagel gets coated in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and toss again.  Spread out into single layer on the cookie sheet.  Bake at 450 for 10 to 15 minutes until croutons are golden and crisp on the outside but still soft in the middle.

Friday, August 12, 2011

what i wore: two zero.

Last weekend, my girlfriends and I made a two and half day party out of our twenty year reunion.  Because that's how we roll.  (It's also how we stay-at-home-moms remain sane.)

Best (and worst) line of the weekend said to my husband by multiple people throughout the night of the reunion:
"I feel like I know you because of Facebook."  
It's official: I am a Facebook whore.  The first step to recovery is admitting there's a problem, riiiiiiight?

Worst part of the weekend: I left my camera at the hotel pool and it is (apparently) lost forever.  (Someone lucked out with a camera full of digital images of all my beautiful friends.)

On to my outfit:
I bought this dress for the reunion, knowing that I'd ultimately be able to wear it for other occasions.  I even asked lovely Naina from Style'n to create a few stylish options for me.  And of course, she styled some beautiful, fun outfits.  I ran with Naina's inspiration and created the look below.  (Thanks also to Naina for reintroducing me to polyvore.!  If you like(d) playing with paper dolls or Barbies, hop on over and style some of your own outfits.)

two zero
 two zero
P.S.  If you are wavering on whether or not to go to a high school reunion (twenty or otherwise!),  I highly recommend going.  Most people just get better with age, like a fine wine.  Or cheese. =)

Monday, August 1, 2011


This morning, I dropped off G (and Ava) at Vacation Bible School.  It's Georgia's first experience being dropped off for school (or anywhere for that matter.)  And it's kind of A BIG DEAL.  Last night, she excitedly chatted about it with me and her big sister, picked out one of her favorite dresses, said she wanted her hair done in "ponies."  And then firmly stated "Momma, you stay at church school WITH ME."  Except, no I wouldn't be and she knew this.

Georgia is not in the least bit shy or reticent.  She doesn't cling to me in social situations.  She says 'Hi!" to other shoppers as we pass in the aisle of the grocery store.  Her smile is forever ready to share.  She walks up to complete strangers to ask them their names and start conversations.  She also runs away from me in the shoe department of Nordstom or down our tree lined street.  (See ya, bye!)  But she knows I'm following.  Always.  G is a momma's girl of a different sort,  because although she's fiercely independent, strong-willed, vivacious; she is at the exact same moment "my baby" not only in my eyes, but hers as well.  Of course she's spent time with grandparents and our babysitter, but for the most part, Georgia and I spend all of our waking moments together, and we (mostly ;) like it that way.

Leaving her today was harder for me than I thought it would be.  I was excited for Georgia to be, in her words, "a big girl" experiencing new activities and new people.  I was also looking forward to a morning of "me time," spent in my empty quiet house.  But as she sat in the first pew of our church in her pink polka dotted dress, her blonde ponytails lightly grazing her shoulders, and we said goodbye, her eyes weren't the only ones that became full with tears.  I choked mine back, kissed her once more, smiled, and rushed down the center aisle, knowing that she and I would both be fine and that hiding my small sense of sadness over this first goodbye was best for the both of us.  This was, after all, only the first of many firsts to come... 

I won't lie.  I hid at the back of the church, chatting unobtrusively with another mom.  By the time I walked out the double doors of the church a few minutes later (OK-twenty!), she was happily sitting on one of her teacher's laps, smiling her Georgia smile.  And I was smiling too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

dora: the fashion "explora".

This morning while I was lounging in bed watching Dora the Explorer, I noticed something quite profound. (Incidentally, Dora is what you watch when your three year old believes that 5:46 AM is a perfectly acceptable time to wake on a daily basis.) Dora was/is ahead of her time when it comes to fashion.  Just check out her keen color blocking skills.  She's been rockin' this look for years.  Is it a coincidence that all these gorgeous & fabulous fashionista bloggers have adopted her look?  You be the judge. ;o)

Emily (again.)

P.S. Do you color block?  I'd like to know.  We're quite fond of it in our little house. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

beans, beans, the musical fruit.

The only reason I'm even posting this quasi recipe* is that these beans were RAVED over by two lovely ladies at two separate dinner parties that we hosted in the last couple of weeks. (Yes, I serve beans at dinner parties.  I'm fancy like that.)  Both friends asked for the recipe.  One I saw at the park a few days later, promptly told me she'd been dreaming about "my beans."  The other texted to tell me that she couldn't stop thinking about "my beans."  Well, if "my beans" are that damn good, I guess I should share.  Fair warning, these beans are a slow process, which can be good or bad, depending on your outlook.  Like a lot  in life, yes?

Super Easy White Beans, Scrumptious Style
1 bag of small dried white beans (any kind will do, I used great northern white beans.)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, small chop
3 cloves garlic, minced (I use more.)
1 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons cumin
4 cups vegetable broth  (You can also use chicken.)
For garnish: lemon juice, salt and pepper, olive oil

Rinse and soak beans overnight in 6 cups of water.  Cover the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil and heat over medium.  When oil is hot, add onion and stir, cooking for one minute.  Reduce heat to low and saute the heck out of the onions until they are super soft (not brown) and begin to "melt" into the olive oil, about 15 minutes. You'll need to stir them occasionally.  Add minced garlic and saute one more minute.  Stir in salt and cumin.  Add beans and vegetable broth.  Mix well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and walk away.  Come back every now and then to stir.  You'll know by looking at them and tasting them when they are done.  Most of the broth will be absorbed and the beans will be quite soft, mushy even.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges or just squeeze a lemon or two over the beans before serving.  To me, the lemon juice is a make it or break it item, but I have a weird obsessed love affair with lemons and should really plant a tree.  A swirl of really good olive oil over the top is also delish.

More on when they are done:
I've left the house, the stove on low, lid on the pot for hours on end, and these beans, well, they are just fine.  You can't really mess them up.  If you want them to cook faster, take the lid off the pot.  I usually do this for the last 10 minutes, especially if it seems like the beans haven't absorbed what I deem as enough of the liquid.

Variations on a theme:
You can add any spice and/or herbs you want.  We have rosemary growing all over our yard, so when I'm in the mood I add that and omit the cumin.  I bet a bay leaf or two would be good.  Or basil.  Spice it up with red pepper.  Let me know what you do!

 {so many scrumptious things start this way}

 {cumin, how i love thee.}

{i do feel a little sorry for beans.  among other things, they aren't very photogenic.}

*All my recipes are quasi, unless I steal them from someone else.  I'm not a good measurer or timer as this "recipe" can attest to!  Sorry.  I'm trying to get better at paying attention to those things as I trip over the fat 10 year old lab under foot, carry around the "hold you momma" two year old, listen to the genius 6 year old read and mentally plan my outfits for my weekend away with Sparky.  xo

Friday, April 8, 2011

thankful thursdays. (a day late)

dear man in the cool old chevy who almost ran me off the road yesterday,

thank you for vearing to the right, missing me by mere inches, as you heard my screaming horn.  thanks for showing distress in your kind eyes through your rearview mirror.  it was obvious how awful you felt for almost smashing into my car.  your hand wave was appreciated and i could almost hear you say "i am so sorry."  we all make mistakes.  next time, try changing lanes one at a time, instead of veering across three at once.

have a safe weekend,

 {not the chevy that almost ran me off the road, just one i wouldn't mind taking for a spin}

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

eating my vegetables: roasted brussels sprouts (uh, with a little bit of bacon.)

 Take this-

Add some heat.  And get this--

This is why I love cooking.  (Well, besides my love of eating.)  It's like a science experiment and usually the experiment has favorable results.

The "Recipe":
brussels sprouts
center cut bacon
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut brussels sprouts in half.  (I think I had around a dozen.) Take a few slices of bacon and cut in large equal chunks.  (I used 4 slices and cut them in sixths.)  Place on a cookie sheet.  (If you want easier clean up, cover cookie sheet with foil.  I was too hungry and didn't.) Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently.  Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, tossing everything after 15.  Remove brussels sprouts from the cookie sheet and return bacon to the oven as it won't be cooked through.  Roast bacon until it's done to your liking -- I prefer crispy!  Toss everything back together when the bacon is done and sprinkle with more salt and pepper to taste.  I ate this for lunch but of course it would make an excellent side dish.  Super easy and you can make more or less depending on how many you are serving.  And to you (brussels sprout) haters, I simply say that if you don't like brussels sprouts, you've been eating them the wrong way.