Category: Fun Stuff
Sunday, May 12
Happy Mother’s Day! So far I have been treated with three kinds of French pastry, a ballet performance (including a unique scene where Sleeping Beauty sets down a poison apple she happens to have and heads to a smoothie shop), and as much love as my kids could possibly shower me with.
Nate took the kids for a drive, so I am going to pump out this menu as fast as I can and then get back to doing absolutely nothing. At least for 30 minutes or so.
- I am traveling to the Carmel/Monterey area to visit Dole’s farm fields. I’m sure they’ll feed us some delicious food!
- Nate is taking the kids out for dinner.
- Dole trip continued
- Nate’s taking the kids out again.
- I’m home! We’ll see if I can get something on the table, but it might also be an eat out night.
- Tuscan Tomato Soup
- Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers
- Fresh fruit and other BBQ type foods
- Frittata, filling ingredients TBD
- Fresh fruit
You know the drill…show us what you got! Share your menus for the week!
And no matter what form the mothers in your life come in or who it is you happen to nurture and love in your life, I hope you all have a beautiful day.
Tuesday, May 7
I have something fun to share with you today and I’m super excited about it! First, let me set the stage.
This blog was born because Nate brought home an old, free iMac to put in the kitchen. I’ll never forget saying, “What will I do with a computer in the kitchen?” Makes me laugh looking back. Anyway, in addition to creating a free Blogger blog to list out the things I cooked for my brother’s reference (yes, that is why I started the blog), I also set up iTunes so I could listen to music while I cooked. It was revelatory. Having music playing made my time in the kitchen so much more enjoyable and I loved it!
I tried to write about the music I was listening to, but it was hard to keep up and, frankly, didn’t seem to fit on the blog, even though the music was a big part of my cooking life. Then I had a couple babies and kind of forgot new music even existed. Lately, though, I’ve gotten more into it again. Between the kitchen and the car, the kids and I are listening to a lot of music. New music, old music, all kinds of music. I’ve even started “Music Education” with the girls to make sure they don’t end up on American Idol one day saying something like, “I’ve never heard of the Beatles. Are they famous?”
I’m constantly wanting to share this music with you but haven’t really found a good way to do so. Until now!
Enter Kitchen Tunage.
Because one blog apparently isn’t enough, I’ve started another! Kitchen Tunage is my Tumblr blog that shares my kitchen playlist. It’s nothing fancy. I’m not a music critic and I don’t claim to be. It’s just my playlist, what we are to listening to now. There’s a lot of good music out there and I can’t help but want to share it with you!
The playlist will have old favorites, new discoveries, random stuff we’re listening to and the lists of bands that the girls are being educated on. I’ll update it almost daily. It’s gonna be fun! Head over, take a listen, and spread the word…my little Tumblr needs friends!
Friday, May 3
It’s been a rough week. There is a good reason I’m telling you this. I am not seeking sympathy and I am not trying to draw attention to myself. I just want to keep it real. And here’s why. Well, actually, before I get to the why, I need to give you a quick synopsis of some of the talks from Big Traveling Potluck last weekend. Stay with me through what will seem like a random string of thoughts. It will all come together in the end.
Melissa Lanz (who is completely wonderful) spoke about having a personal mission statement. She shared the story of her life journey so far and it was sweet and inspiring. Watching her husband watch her speak might have been one of the more tender things I’ve witnessed in some time. Anyway, during her talk she mentioned a friend who has the personal mission statement “Be Better” and how that friend is constantly striving to, well, be better each and every day.
Matt Armendariz (who is also completely wonderful) spoke about creativity and shared his story of how he got to where he is today and how he keeps the creative juices flowing. I loved getting insight into his thoughts and his day-to-day life. There was one comment he made that made me pause. Someone asked if he ever turns things away and he essentially said, “No, I’m a freelancer, I can’t afford to say no to projects.”
One of my best blogging buddies Helen Jane spoke about overcoming creative blocks. One of her core messages was that you don’t have to do it all. It’s easy to feel like you have to do it all, but you don’t. It’s not realistic. Focus on what you’re good at and find success that way. And, by the way, success isn’t always about the millions of followers, millions of dollars, millions of any of that.
Ree (a person I am so blessed to know) shared the top 10 things she’s learned about food blogging. Buried in all the funny, witty, thoughtful things she shared was a moment of vulnerablity. A moment where she told us that in 2011 it was all too much, that she was a shell of a person, that she was forced to change the way she was doing things and stop doing so much. Ree is the epitome of the mom who “does it all.” Hearing here admit that she actually can’t do it all was the most inspiring thing she could have said and it was one of the more powerful moments of the weekend.
My dear friend Jeannine (she works for ONE and she is the BEST) and I were talking one night about one of the big problems with blogs, and Pinterest for that matter. When you read blogs, you see all the good in the blogger’s life but rarely (if ever) the bad. You don’t see the grumpy days, you don’t see the ‘Happy Birthday’ bunting that did NOT come out perfectly, you don’t see the cake that failed to rise. You see all the beautiful parts of people’s lives. Which isn’t to say that the beauty isn’t real. It is. But the beauty is all the more beautiful because we also have the ugly in our lives. When you look at blogs (or Pinterest or Facebook status updates or whatever!) that only show the happy-go-lucky side of life, there is danger of feeling bad about yourself and thinking you are not enough.
I also had a heart-to-heart with Deb from Smith Bites (another choice human being). We talked about how wonderful the conference had been, how great all the talks were. And then Deb brought up Melissa’s friend’s mission statement. She essentially said, “I’m not feeling it. ‘Be Better’ assumes you are not good enough. But you are. I think the mission statement that resonates more is ‘Be Enough.’ ” We talked about how we completely understand why Matt says yes to all the projects that come his way, but that it really is okay to say NO. And we talked about how you don’t have to to be good at everything. And that is OKAY. And you know that beautiful lifestyle blog that you read every week where the mom is always stylish and the kids look like J. Crew models while they are planting organic basil in the backyard that is later perfectly chopped for the salad that the kids actually eat for dinner? Yeah, even that blogger’s life does not look like that everyday. And that’s OKAY!
So, you would think after all this inspiration I would have had a great week, right? Monday morning we got some crummy news. We were supposed to move to a house on a horse ranch in June. We were just going to be renting it, but it was close to work, in the same amazing school district we’re already in, there were horses all around, lots of light and lots of space, and 360 views from the top of a mesa. I was going to rename my blog “Pioneer Woman Junior” and it was going to be AWESOME. There was a lot of work to do on the house, but we were excited and ready for the adventure. And then it was unexpectedly pulled out from under us. And that just about did me in. The stress and uncertainty were just too much. By Tuesday I was feeling better, more optimistic. Then I went to Disneyland on Wednesday with my beautiful daughters and forgot all my troubles. Then…Thursday. The reality hit harder than it had all week. Even The Vampire Diaries couldn’t bring me out of my funk. (Yes, I just admitted I watch The Vampire Diaries. We’re keeping it real today, folks.)
Last night I realized that my public persona this week was all roses and Mickey Mouse ears. The sadness and the frustration and the downright crappy feelings were nowhere to be seen. Not on Facebook, not on Instagram, not on my blog. Which isn’t to say that the happiness wasn’t real. It WAS. And the happiness and moments of fun and gratitude for my amazing life and the people in it kept me going. But, you know, I also had a day this week where I felt like I was in a thick fog and could barely get anything done. I don’t want to be one of the bloggers who only portrays the pretty things. I want to us to connect, to realize we’re all in the same boat, a beautiful boat that sometimes gets rocked.
This is why I’m telling you it’s been a rough week. Because I want to keep it real. This week my “enough” changed from day to day. One day I was Supermom with more energy than Richard Simmons. The next day I felt nearly useless as a mom, certainly neither fun nor patient. But that day I at least made dinner. And that was enough, enough to get me through.
Be Enough. It’s okay. Sometimes enough is amazing. Sometimes enough is just enough. But it’s always enough.
Thursday, May 2
Yesterday my girls and I went to Disneyland (thanks to the Babble team for a fabulous day!). The day was perfect. Today I am basking in the glow that is the light of my daughters, so I figured it was a good day to share two quick stories about them.
A couple of weeks ago I was playing with Owen in his room when Anna came walking in with a recipe card. She had found a Halloween food and craft book somewhere, had spent some time combing through the recipes and settled on one to share with me. She handed me the card and said, “Mom, this recipe is perfect for your blog. It’s easy to make but really cute!” Anna hasn’t even read my blog but she seems to have my messaging down pat! I still can’t get over the fact she was looking for content for my blog. So ridiculously cute. I will in fact give this recipe a try at some point and let you know what we think!
Last Friday when I went to Big Traveling Potluck, Nate had to make dinner for the kids. Cate suggested they make english muffin pizzas, which was perfect for the occasion. She was excited all week about dinner that night and couldn’t wait to teach everyone how to make the pizzas. She even wrote up directions.
2 quick notes. First, I love the after thought “Oh, get plates” at the top of the page. Second, why is she having us split the english muffins with a fork? She’s been hanging out with her dad too much.
I love these girls.
Also, it appears that I am raising future food bloggers. Look out, world!
Tuesday, April 30
It is really easy to make my mom cry. For example, when I was 11 years old, we rented the movie Ghost Dad. I’m sure you remember Ghost Dad because it was awesome, and by awesome I mean, um, not so awesome. But who are we to judge? I loved that movie regardless of how cheesy it was. I’ll never forget the moment when Bill Cosby (the one and only Ghost Dad!) said goodbye to his family looking over to discover my mom’s face streaming with tears. Like good children do, we laughed at her. She laughed, too, though. And we still tease her about crying at Ghost Dad. This isn’t Steel Magnolias, folks. She deserves to be teased.
With the advent of social media, my ability to make my mom cry has increased ten-fold. I can post a video to Facebook or a photo to Instagram and predict which ones are going to do her in. I’ve even called her a few minutes after posting just to catch her in the act. Let’s be honest, I am a cryer, too. I cannot deny that I inherited this trait and have, in fact, passed it on to Cate!
This photo on Instagram just about did her in the other day.
I have to admit that I didn’t predict this one as well. I knew she’d love it, but I didn’t know it would send her to tears. But it did. And, on retrospect, I can see why.
I recently had the opportunity to make a personalized Mother’s Day card for my mom through CardStore.com. I knew immediately I had to use that photo. It’s one thing to see your grandkids randomly pop up on Instagram to brighten your day (and make you cry). It’s another to have the photo printed out for your desk at work to look at any time you want (and potentially cry in front of all your co-workers).
While I could have had CardStore address and stamp the card to send directly to my mom (so handy!), I decided to have it shipped to me first so we could personalize the card even further, with a few notes from the kids and a hand-addressed envelope. The card arrived a few days ago and it is beautiful and will for sure make her cry. Mission accomplished!
This post is sponsored by CardStore.com (as always, all opinions are my own and I think they are awesome!). As such, they have a promotional code for you. You still have time to get a fantabulous, beautiful, cry-inducing personalized card to your mom! Here’s what to do!
- The Deal: Personalized Mother’s Day cards for $1.99 each on CardStore.com
- The Promotional Code: CSF3199
The Details: Create any Mother’s Day card for $1.99 when code CSF3199 is applied at checkout. No minimum purchase necessary. Offer valid through 5/6/13. Coupon code CSF3199 must be entered during online checkout. Coupon does not apply to shipping & handling charges and cannot be combined with other offers. Coupon code is not valid on previous purchases, and excludes all plush and greeting card bundles as well as non-card items. Coupon code may be used to purchase more than one Mother’s Day greeting card but is not valid on orders of 150 cards or more. Discount applied at checkout. To prevent abuse, we reserve the right to discontinue or modify this offer at any time without notice. Offer is subject to change and expires at 11:59 pm PST on 5/6/13. Offer intended for use in the United States, US territories, and Canada.
I take great pride in making people cry. (I did it at least 3 times this weekend at Big Traveling Potluck, including The Pioneer Woman, Bakerella and Maggy from Three Many Cooks. Booyah!) So, go make an awesome card and let’s all make our moms cry together!
Sunday, April 21
One of the great things about moving back to San Diego is reuniting with my beloved book club. Originally there were 6 of us. Three of us moved away. And now 1 has moved back (me!). While we very much missed the 2 who were not there yesterday, reuniting with these women did my heart good. Despite planning our get-together with less than 24 hours notice, we were able to find a time to all meet AND put together an amazing spread of food. My body and soul were nourished yesterday. (And in case you are wondering, Unbroken was the book of choice this month. We all recommend it!)
Surprisingly, I pretty much followed my menu last week. Which means I actually have to think of new things to cook this week. Bummer!
- Quiche (it’s been ages!)
- Chicken Burritos with Aunt Kathy’s Sweet Black Beans
- Carrot sticks and ranch dip, fresh fruit
- I am heading to Big Traveling Potluck. I can’t wait!
- Lasagna for the family!
- I’ll be at BTP
- Nate will do leftover lasagna or takeout with the kids
- Waffles and fruit
As usual, your menus from last week were wonderful inspiration. It’s so easy to get into a meal planning rut, but seeing your menus snaps me out of it every time! I am so grateful to all who post your menus! Can’t wait to see your plans for this week!
Friday, April 5
Remember that time when I started writing for Babble and was feeling pretty good about myself and all cool and stuff and also suddenly had to create content for that site in addition to maintaining my own blog so I decided to do a post a week on Babble sharing my most reliable and favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes because that would be a service to the world at large and because I’m totally obsessed with chocolate chip cookies and I decided for the first recipe I would share the Amish Chocolate Chip Puff Cookie recipe that was maybe my most reliable chocolate chip cookie recipe to date and I wanted to make them again so I could shoot a new photo for Babble and because they are so darn good but then I procrastinated and made the cookies the day I was scheduled to publish the post and then the cookies came out flat as freaking pancakes and not puffy and Amish-y at all and I realized karma was making sure I didn’t let things go to my head and karma also made sure a mom from school who I had just met and who had just found out I had a food blog was there to witness my awesome kitchen skills?
Yeah, I remember that time. Just like it was yesterday. Wait, it was yesterday.
I may have a food blog, but apparently that doesn’t mean anything. Just so ya know.
P.S. I made the cookies again today, with cream of tartar purchased today instead of 7 (8? 10?) years ago and, turns out, it is a fool-proof cookie recipe! Apparently cream of tartar is kind of important to this recipe AND it does in fact stop working after years and years and YEARS of sitting in the spice cupboard.
Monday, April 1
We had a few requests in the weekly menu comments yesterday for a special Easter-themed Call for Recipes. Specifically, what are we all going to do with the colorful hard-boiled egg bounty sitting in our refrigerators this morning?
Bonnie, a loyal commenter, said she trusts us more than she trusts Google or Pinterest, and I have to agree with her! That’s why I love this blog…because you all share your REAL menu plan ideas and recipes that have REALLY worked for you. So, yes, I’m sure there is a plethora of beautiful hard-boiled egg recipe collections out on the Interwebs today, but do we really trust them? Really truly? Not like we trust you!
So, please, share with us your best, tastiest, most creative uses and recipes for hard-boiled eggs! Bring it on!
Sunday, March 31
Happy Easter and Passover! Such a festive time of year I love it! Our family celebrates Easter and the kids successfully found their baskets this morning. I was actually more organized than usual this year, so most of the food for this afternoon’s dinner was prepped yesterday, making for a nice, relaxed morning complete with candy, resurrection buns and Owen freaking out because he doesn’t get to eat this cake for breakfast. (In case you’re wondering, I used my White Chocolate Raspberry Cake recipe and the decoration inspiration came from my uber-talented friend Lindsey Johnson.)
By the way, I decided to go the super simple route for our Easter dinner this year: a small ham, roasted carrots and asparagus, funeral potatoes, and spinach salad with grapefruit and feta. The girls made our place cards and I think they did a fabulous job.
Today marks a first for This Week for Dinner…I am literally copying and pasting last week’s menu! I did in fact make dinner last week, but I didn’t make one thing that I had planned! Not exactly what I love to do, but at least it makes this week’s planning easy!
- Bistro Chicken
- Mashed potatoes and a green veggie
- Caprese salad
- Crusty bread
- Roasted vegetables
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Island Pork with Sticky Coconut Rice
- Veggie of some sort
- Eat out
- Waffles and fruit
As usual, looking forward to seeing your lovely menus for the week!
Thursday, March 28
I’m an artist and designer, so I like things to look good. Sadly, though, I am also lazy lazy LAZY. Rarely do I pull out all the stops for cute holiday crafts and treats and such. Once in a while, though, I stumble on an idea that is super cute but also very simple and I actually do get a little holiday pizazz goin’ on.
Bunny Bait is one of those very ideas! My friend Erin wrote about it on Today’s Mama. She got the idea from Sing For Your Supper, who got the idea from Bake at 350, who got the idea from Nest of Posies. Bottom line? Bunny Bait gets around, people.
Here’s the thing. Bunny Bait is perfectly cute for Easter and I love the name. But the beauty of this recipe is it is so easily adaptable to any holiday or event. Just pick up the M&Ms du jour and change up the candy melt color and you have deliciously sweet and salty popcorn goodness for any holiday. In fact, this is what we will be making for our holiday gifts this December. It’s easy to throw together a large batch, the popcorn is super cute, it tastes awesome and you can dress it up with matchy-matchy baggies and bows. Done and done.
Erin mentioned that Bunny Bait may be slightly addictive. She’s right, and here’s why. You inevitable take a bite that has popcorn and an M&M. And it’s delicious, but then you realize that you didn’t get a pretzel in that bite, so you dig back in and get a pretzel-ful bite, only to discover it was missing the popcorn. And the cycle continues until you have eaten the whole bowl. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Probably best to make this with purpose and get it bagged up and given away ASAP.
Also, lest you look at these pictures and think we are a perfect family with a patient mother who cooks with her kids while birds flit about our heads and sing pretty songs…Anna did have a lot of fun making this with me and it was really sweet and cute. But, I must admit, towards the end a few things got me frustrated (that had nothing to do with the recipe or with Anna but everything to do with me and my lack of sleep and patience) and I ended up yelling at her for something stupid and felt terrible as she ran away crying with her blankie. I realized my mistake immediately and was overcome with regret and sadness. I hate these moments as a mom. I ran to my sweet girl and gave her a good, long hug. She quickly forgave (kids are amazing that way) and we finished our Bunny Bait adventures with smiles. But, looking at these photos of the Bunny Bait, I still have a twinge of guilt. But I also have a resolve to do better next time. This parenting gig certainly is salty and sweet, but I suppose the salty just helps me truly appreciate and seek after the sweet.
Sweet & Salty Holiday Popcorn (aka Bunny Bait aka Valentine Confetti aka whatever cute holiday name you come up with!)
From all over the place, original idea from Nest of Posies
- 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn (yields about 24 cups)
- 8 ounces candy melts (you can just use white and let the M&Ms and/or sprinkles add the color, but feel free to use a colored candy melt, too!)
- 1 1/2 cups rod pretzels, broken into smaller pieces
- 1 12-oz package M&Ms (holiday themed)
- Sprinkles to match your color theme (optional)
Pop your popcorn (I used my Whirley Pop). Pour into a giant bowl. Add pretzels and M&Ms, but don’t stir anything yet. Melt the candy melts as per package instructions, then drizzle over the popcorn mixture. Toss and toss and toss to coat. (It takes a lot of tossing!) The pretzels and M&Ms will want to sink to the bottom, so when you serve it or put in bags for gifts, be sure to toss again and then scoop. Also, if you do plan to bag it for gifts, let it sit out for a bit to allow the candy melts to temper.
For the bunny bait, I used pink and green candy melts. I poured the green first, tossed it, then let it sit for a bit before drizzling the pink, so that they didn’t mix together. The result was cute, but next time I’m just going to use one color – it’s just as cute and less effort.