Monday, February 28, 2011

Meal Time Monday - Inspiration

Fresh from People's Magazine's 'Cooking with the Stars' issue (which I'm thoroughly enjoying) is The Biggest Loser's Allison Sweeney with a way to spice up peas. I tried it on Saturday night and found it best to cook the bacon ahead of time in the microwave, then break it up, and add it to the dish closer to the end.

Alison Sweeney's Pleasing Peas and Bacon

Serves 4 (makes 1-cup servings) • 1 ½lbs. fresh shelled peas or 2 (10-oz.) packages frozen peas (about 4 cups) • 1 tbsp. canola oil • 5 slices (about 5 oz.) bacon, diced • 1 small sweet onion, diced (1 cup) • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper

1. Place peas in a pot of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove peas from water and drain.

2. Heat oil in same pot and add bacon and onion. Cook, stirring, until bacon is rendered and onions are browned, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. Add peas and broth to pot and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes, until most liquid has been absorbed.

4. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

LA Trip Part Two - Hooray for Hollywood!

The last two days of our escape...

E was excited to hit Hollywood. And what better time than during Oscar week?

We got to cruise around the Kodak Theatre, walking along the covered red carpet...

Did you know that the theatre is integrated into a large mall? You can stop by The Hello Kitty store to buy a birthday gift on your way to collect your award!

Afterward, we cruised along looking for our favorite star's stars. E has been a big fan of Micheal J. Fox forever.

We headed home on Thursday, making a pit stop in Sherman Oaks. We ate an early lunch at the yummy Sweet Butter cafe.

I was super inspired by the decor. The place is tiny. But there were so many cute vintage-y touches, and framed recipes, which I loved. I don't have any old, handed down from generation recipes, but if I did, I'd mat and frame them and hang them around my kitchen.

I love the chalkboard above!

Next door to Sweet Butter is Tori Spelling's new home store - Inventori. It is adorable!

Again, lots of vintage-y and antique-y stuff. We picked up a set of these cups from Jane Jenni
We are now the owners of 'smarty pants,' 'queen bee,' and 'love bug' as well.

The one I really want is this coffee mug below!
Now we are home, sweet home. It was fun to get away and clear our heads, but I think we'll be 'stay-cation-ing' for awhile.

Friday, February 25, 2011

There's no place like home - LA trip part one

So here is our 'L.A. Story. '
We left last Sunday and had an easy, quick drive from S.J. Here is miss P and I doing some calisthenics at a rest stop. We're not fans of Biggest Loser for nothin'!
When we pulled into town, I found I had to adjust my expectations a bit. I had such an elevated view of what certain parts of the city would be like, from watching certain shows. That there would just seem to be some magic along Melrose, Rodeo Drive, the Sunset Strip, etc. I'm sure a lot of people would contest this, but I found that a lot of the streets looked just like San Jose - basically, your typical city. I also think that in the back of my mind, I really expected that if I hit some major hot spots, I was sure to bump into some at least c-lister. I quickly realized that I am not good at recognizing people, and despite the fact that US magazine shows stars all over LA in the 'see, they are just like you' spread - my chances were tiny! I'm a dreamer! Anyway. Once I had my reality check, I settled in and enjoyed the trip.
Our first stop was Villa Blanca - Lisa Vanderpump of BH Housewives' restaurant. Villa Blanca is located smack dab in Beverly Hills. The place did not disappoint. Gorgeous! We had a reservation and were seated immediately at a good table. The place was crawling with style from the darling servers (who all could have been models) to the patrons. That is one thing I noticed that is very different than San Jose - the focus on fashion!
You can't even tell where we are here - but this is our table. It was evening and candle-lit. Miss P took this picture. So sad you can't catch the ambiance. We even had a lively group of gay men seated next to us, and a 'The Hills-ish' large crowd of partying twenty-somethings across from us, with a lot of drama. Something else I noticed, at many places we went to, was the amount of complaining and demanding people did to staff about their tables/accommodations. Clearly, my life is lacking excitement. : )
The next day, Miss P was chomping at the bit, for 'her turn.' Off we went to The Grove,home to the West Coast American Girl Place. Miss P had fun exploring the store, and we picked up a few 'essentials.'
We enjoyed more of The Grove, had lunch at Marmalade Cafe, watched Mario Lopez do some filming and saw Jared Leto being interviewed.
Then, that night, we went to The Ivy for dinner. Where was the paparazzi? Again, I was denied. The restaurant, though, was utterly charming. That was another take-away from the trip - all the places we ate were fantastic. This is E below enjoying his Ivy Gimlet.
The decor, is very preppy, shabby chic. There are a few little rooms, awesome fireplaces, and a covered patio out front. Again, great wait staff, yummy food, to-die for desserts.
Are you still with me? The next day, we headed to Burbank for a Warner Brothers studio Tour. I knew E would get a kick out of this. This was a big highlight of the trip. Miss P reached rock star status in our eyes, as she kept up with all the action with zero complaining. (We had to fudge her age a little bit, but I knew she could handle it.)

Below is the Gilmore Girls house. I am such a fan! Our tour guide, Andy, was the best. It was so interesting to see all the sets and learn the details of how various shows are made. We saw how a small slab of grass is able to look like central park, with the right visual tricks. (Sort of like me with spanx and black pants?) : )
And the Friends' set!!

After the tour, we headed to Santa Monica and the Third Street Promenade.

Checking out the beach was another big highlight for Miss P. Nice break from the 'city' stuff.
Rest of the trip coming up in part two!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


It's ski week and we are heading south, hoping to rub some elbows with the rich and famous. : ) Seriously, I can't believe we haven't done a trip like this before, with E's major interest in the movies. On our list: The American Girl Store at the Grove for Miss P, a WB studio tour for E, and dinner at Villa Blanca (above - BH Housewife's Lisa's restaurant) tonight (for me). We have a few other treats included as well - such as checking out Third Street Promenade, maybe seeing Gnomeo and Juliet at El Capitan, and another couple US magazine-worthy restaurants we are considering.

I'm planning to take lots of pictures and will be back with a full report later in the week. Fortunately, the 3-day non-stop rain has ended, and we will be driving with sunny skies. See you soon!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

couldn't resist

.....this beach towel I just found at Target. Can't wait to enjoy it at the pool!

Gadget Free Fun and Games - Magical Creatures

This week I have a little game that my kindergartners dreamed up. It is called 'Magical Creatures,' and it is best for two to six year old children. This is a perfect, short game to play in the backyard, at a birthday party, or just hanging around. It incorporates physical activity with play and imagination.

First, you brainstorm some 'magical creatures,' like fairies, dragons, mermaids, unicorns, etc. You talk about how these creatures look and move. Then, someone (you?) calls out '1,2,3 - magical creatures you will be!' Children instantly turn into different magical creatures and move about the space. After a few minutes, you call out '3,2,1 - magical creatures you are done!' Then the creatures freeze. You repeat the chant and then kids transform into a different magical creature. Rinse, repeat. Play until just before bored. : )

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Would you make the cut?

Apparently, someone has had some wild play-dates. Miss P's new rules for her room:
No shoes
No sand
No grass (I hope she is referring to the lawn)
No smoking

More room rules
Don't throw Go-Go (mechanical dog)
Be nice to Doggy (stuffed dog she's had since she was six months)
Don't ruin my village (that would be the pet shop set-up)
(and in case there is any question, we have the general)
Don't mess up my room
The final room rules
Be nice to my stuffed animals
Be nice
Don't throw my toys

got it, everybody??

Valentines 2011

Had a blast getting our valentines together this weekend. I do not like the little cheapie folded type that you get from the store - but no judge (would've been a heck of a lot easier, that's for sure)! Our first round with Miss P's we did Superbowl Sunday, but our original concept did not quite work out. Our second go at it was above. Think they came out cute. Her class mascot is the 'dragonflies.'

For my students, I got these books from Target's $1 aisle. I know they are not the highest quality literature, but my, do my boys love transformers! We are doing information writing and talking a lot about 'facts,' - some of these books are fact books about the transformers.
I wish there had been a better choice book for the girls, but again, at least it is something they can keep and do something with. Our class mascot is bears. I love books!

My class valentine's party was surprisingly CALM, organized, and pleasant. At home, we had a really fun valentine's day, with donuts and gifts for breakfast, and playing at home last night. Hope you had a nice one too!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Family Fun - Reality TV

Notice I didn't say gadget free family fun. Today I am sharing a secret - one of my family's favorite pastimes is watching certain reality shows together. Our favorites are House Hunters, Cake Boss and The Biggest Loser. We have acted out House Hunters, planned deserts and meals around Cake Boss, and have had many a discussion about health, trying your best and fair play during The Biggest Loser. Sometimes just knowing that we have a family night planned watching one of those shows is enough to get me through a day of kids screaming, refusing to line up, and playing in the bathroom. Miss P is a pro at viewing, regularly making comments like, 'ooh, look at open floor plan,' or, 'oh well, he can still take part in the at-home challenge!' On the weekends, instead of cartoons in the morning, she will often pick Yard Crashers. As I scan the channels for alternatives, P pleads "Please don't minimize the picture! I want Yard Crashers!" Is she weird?

Do you watch any 'grown up TV' with your kids?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Go To Outfit

2011 winter/Spring uniform

One of my new years resolutions is to dress better. This resolution has been particularly fun to work on. On Marta Writes I found a link to a blog that shares outfit 'formulas' for moms on the go. Fun! My latest uniform - solid color tank top or t-shirt (usually in black, white or gray), shawl cardigan, dark jeans, and ballet flats. Finished off with a 'statement' necklace. I got four new key pieces of jewelry at a Stella and Dot trunk show, as part of my 'work' . I love them. Do you have a formula or uniform for looking cute day-to-day?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gadget Free Fun - Conversation!

There have been a few nights lately when either E or I have been working and driving home later in the evening, after work and possibly errands, affecting the amount of quality time we have with Miss P. One solution we have: the phone date! All of us are big talkers (I actually kind of dislike the phone - I'm more about in person only - but I'll do it for P!) Anyway, both E and I have about a 30 minute drive home when it's prime traffic. We call home to check in and then ask for P. We chat about our day (tip: tell some tidbits about your day first, seems less like an interrogation then), tell jokes and play games. P likes to play The Synonym Game (what's a synonym for tired? pretty?), or Guess What's in My Purse or Guess the mystery item in my room. It's a nice way to feel like you are getting some time in, if you've been stretched. What would your child like to talk about? Who can name the most dinosaurs? Guess what's for dinner? Name that American Girl doll?

OK, Oprah/safety comment. Obviously, your first priority is driving. I'm not suggesting (nor do I) flying down the freeway and digging through your purse. I'm talking stop and go traffic with eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Hopefully you are using your hands free devices or have the phone built into the car like E does!

I'm thinking this might be really helpful for dads as well as working moms. Also can help siblings feel like they are each getting some special attention. Finally, this might give the home parent an opportunity to get dinner on the table! Let me know if you try it!