Friday, February 28, 2014

Party Pants



The problem with being sick, is I miss out on some fun things.  While I was in bed, recovering from my 10 mile race, the boys headed out to one of Thatbaby's monthly birthday parties.

Thatbaby had an incredible time at this one.  The picture above shows Thatbaby riding in the train that they hired to drive the kids around the park.  He rode it many, many, many times.  And there was a giant bounce-house for the kids to play in.  Complete with a big slide that Thatbaby spent time sliding down with his friends.

It's really kind of fun to watch Thatbaby interact with his school friends outside of school.  They're always so happy to see each other - even though they see each other every day.  There's a level of comfort there.  I know there's some debate about "friend" birthday parties for young kids, but they really do form bonds at such a young age.

Thatbaby came home so excited to tell me about how much fun he had and everything he did.  He clutched his mini-m&m container in his hand like a hard earned trophy.  He crawled in to bed with me, laying his little head down on the pillow so we could take a nap together.  As we cuddled under the covers I realized that sometimes even when you miss out on the fun things, you still get to experience some of the best stuff.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Last February Giveaway - Cookie Mania

Growing up, desserts were my mom's domain.  There's a family rumor (started by my dad) that Thatmom called dibs on dessert making, since my dad did the rest of the cooking and she wanted an area that was just for her to shine.

And for my mom, the go-to person for desserts was Maida Heatter.  She had all the books and even exchanged correspondence with Ms. Heatter.  (The fact that Maida wrote back is one of the reasons she remains a favorite of mine to this date.)




Thatmom had the original Maida Heatter book of cookies.  For Christmas a couple years ago Thatmom got me the new improved version (along with her cake book).

It's been a while since I've cracked it, so it was about time for me to bring ole Maida back into my kitchen.  I thought I'd start with a nice easy bar recipe.  One with dates since I had some left over from the lebkuchen.


Confession time: These are cookies...that I enjoy for breakfast.  They have dates and nuts, so they seem kind of breakfasty.  And the bar shape makes me feel like I'm eating a cereal bar. Which is totally a breakfast food.  And because they're made with honey instead of flour, I don't even feel to guilty about it.  Well, a little guilty, because - cookies for breakfast.  But not guilty enough to stop eating them.

Honey Date Nut Bars (From Maida Heatter's Cookies)
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb pitted dates, coarsely chopped
8 oz walnuts, chopped
confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350. In an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they are foamy.
  2. Add the honey and vanilla.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add this mixture to the wet ingredients and beat well.
  4. Stir in the dates and nuts.  Pour the batter into a greased baking pan.  Bake for 35 minutes, turning halfway through. 
  5. Cool the cake for 5 minutes in pan, then invert onto a baking rack and cool completely.
  6. Cut the cake into bars and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

And now my final February gift to you.  A copy of the Maida Heatter cookie book!  Now you can make these, or hundreds of other cookies in your very own home!  And while most of the recipes are cookies (makes sense given the title) it also includes recipes for crackers, marshmallows, ice cream and sauces.  Sound good?


Starts today and ends Monday March 3 at midnight (PST). Winner will be chosen at random through random.org

To enter into the giveaway:
Leave a comment letting me know what your favorite cookie is.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Things I Love: February

I kind of missed January, but I loved sharing my favorites with you in December, so I figured I'd give it another go-around.  These are the things I'm really into right now.




I'm Listening To: Flo Rida's How I Feel.  I seriously love every incarnation of "Feeling Good."  Right now this is on repeat on my ipod.

I'm Reading: This is the first of Michelle's suggestions for me.  The Rook by Daniel O'Malley.  Michelle recommended it because it is "a smarter, cleverer, more sophisticated British version of Men in Black."  Which sounded intriguing.  But honestly (and I'm not terribly far in) for me it is much more similar to A Wrinkle in Time.  It's got the same kind of sci-fi fantasy feel, and equally strange characters.  And an unwilling heroine.  Have I sold it to you yet?

I'm Eating: Trader Joe's Broccoli Slaw and Kale Salad.  This has been my go-to quick lunch lately for days when I need to grab something when I'm not in the office.  I love the crunch of the kale and slaw, the sweet cranberries and the slightly spicy dressing. 

I'm Wearing:  I'm channeling Ali McGraw right now with my current love of a simple cashmere black turtleneck.  It's classic.  It goes with everything.  And it's just the right amount of warmth for a Southern California February.  I'm also very into grey jeans.  They're lighter than blue, but don't make you feel like you're back in the acid-wash craze of the 90s.  And they're "warmer" than black, which is feeling a little harsh to me in the pants department.  (Is it weird that black on the top seems cuddly, but black bottoms seem cold?)  I ran out of foundation last week, and since Thatboy was out of town and I was limited on time to run errands, I grabbed some from the grocery store.  So far I'm a big fan of this L'Oreal True Match foundation.  It's got good coverage (important) and there's a really wide selection to match a variety of skin tones (also important).  With the winter weather, my skin's a little paler than in the summer, so I feel like I have to have a "summer" foundation and a "winter" foundation. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Date Lebkuchen

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Let's start out by congratulating the winner of my book giveaway!  Joanne will be having some new reading material coming her way soon.  And for everyone else, there'll be another giveaway later this week.  I'm in a very giving mood lately.

Like making a tray of cookies to bring in to work.  It's been crazy lately - I'm sure the moreso because I've been in and out of the office the past 2 weeks because of illness.  So bringing in a bit of sweet was almost a necessity.

I like baking with dates, because they add a nice chewy sweetness, but not overwhelmingly so.  Of course, these cookies also have sugar in them.  Because as nice as dates are, they do not a cookie make.
 
Date Lebkuchen (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
grated rind and juice of 1/4 lemon
grated rind and juice of 1/4 orange
1/4 lb dates, pitted and chopped
1 egg
1/4 lb sugar
1/2 cups flour
pinch salt
1/4 tsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 tsp butter, melted
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a baking pan with baking spray.  In a small bowl, combine the rinds and juice of the lemon and orange.
  2. Add the dates and let marinate for an hour.
  3. Beat the egg until light.
  4. Slowly add the brown sugar, flour, salt, coffee, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  5. Stir in the dates and walnuts.  Spread in the pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan.
  6. In a small bowl combine the orange juice, butter, and confectioners' sugar.  Spread over the cookies and cut into squares.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mommy Mondays: The Things People REALLY Don't Tell You

L&O were having a discussion the other day and somehow came around to the fact that we still have some...side effects left over from the birth of our sons.  It reminded me about the hush hush world that is post-partum recovery.  The real secrets that no one ever talks about.  This is not going to be a pretty post.  In fact, if you're a little squeamish, you may want to skip it.  But if you want the harsh realities of what life is like AFTER labor, here are the secrets.

1) There Will Be Blood - This one wasn't a factor for me. And this is actually one I had heard about.  Someone described their first post-partum shower - the one in the hospital - as being a scene from some slasher pic with the amount of blood they found pooling around their ankles.  Yum!  I didn't have the same experience, but it could be because I shot blood across the room following the birth of my son.  I might have been tapped out by the first shower.  But as a word of warning, there is bleeding.  Weeks of bleeding.  And this holds true even if you have a C-Section, which makes sense when you think about it, but most don't.

2) #2 - I remember that before I left the hospital, one of the things on my "recovery checklist" was having a bowel movement.  I had 3 days.  If I hadn't had one at that time, I was supposed to consult my doctor.  I didn't want to consult my doctor to tell her I wasn't...regular.  But at the same time, I was terrified of going.  Stitches, tearing, the irrational fear that my entire uterus would come out.  And talking to other new moms I quickly discovered I wasn't the only one.  The first bowel movement following birth is traumatic.

3)  What goes up - This is another one that wasn't a huge issue for me, but you know how your uterus grows when you're pregnant?  Over 9 months?  Well it has to shrink back down to normal size.  In a much shorter time.  Know how it does that?  Contractions.  Yup - you still have contractions even after you have a baby!  I don't know if it's because I breastfed, or because I'm part unicorn, but for me, the contractions were almost like little tickles.  But for a coworker of mine, they were really painful. 

4)  Snissing and Cossing - I don't think it's a secret that pregnant ladies sometimes have trouble with their bladders when they sneeze.  I mean, you have a small human resting right on your bladder.  Well ladies, the problem does not go away when the tiny human is no longer taking up residence inside of you.  I remember sitting on the couch a couple weeks after giving birth, eating rice.  A kernel hit me in the back of the throat and I started coughing - and completely lost control of my bladder.  A few weeks after that I tripped while walking outside, and once again needed a change of pants.  Even now, 2+ years after giving birth these terrible coughing episodes with the bronchitis are wrecking havoc with my bladder control.

5) Sex - There's a 6 week window following birth in which you're supposed to refrain from sexual intercourse.  But once that 6 week window is up, all bets are off.  Except that same irrational fear that you're going to rip or tear something, or your whole uterus will fall out.  And the truth people don't tell you?  The first time you have sex after giving birth?  Not so great.  Same holds true of the second time.  Maybe even the third.  You see - especially if you're breastfeeding, your hormones are concentrating on producing milk - not any sort of sexual fluids.  Which means you're dry.  Which makes sex more uncomfortable that it might have been before you pushed a small human out of that same area.  But it gets better.  Promise.  Practice makes perfect.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Runday: UT 10-20 Race Recap

Thatboy did not want me running the race last Sunday.  He had this whole thing about "bronchitis means you should be at home resting, not running 10 miles."  In protest, he decided he would not be joining me at the race.  There would be no cheering or encouraging someone who was risking her health.  Even though I assured him I would take it easy.

Friday night, after our pitiful Valentine's Day, I left the race program on Thatboy's pillow for him to peruse.  Saturday morning he acknowledged this was going to be a really cool race, and he could understand why I wanted to run it.  And now he just had to figure out what band he wanted to watch while cheering me on.  Of course, by Saturday night he had decided that a race starting at 7:30am was too early, so he was back to skipping it.

So Sunday morning I got up while the world was still dark and got myself ready to go.  The race was being held just a couple miles from home, but after the experience we had at the Electric Run, I didn't want to take any chances.  I sat in my car for a while, munching on some overnight oatmeal, drinking water, and using my inhaler.  After a while I headed towards the corrals.  I got out of the car and it was COLD!  Usually this isn't an issue, because I toss Thatboy my sweatshirt before the race starts.  But since he wasn't there, I debated whether to check it or keep it on.  In the end, I decided to keep it on - it seemed like a smart thing to do since I was recovering.  I paced the corral, chatting with a couple of other runners.  Comparing notes about shoes, the race, and important things like that.  And soon enough, it was time to run run run! 

The first mile was all within the Del Mar Racetrack.  We were running on dirt, and I made sure not to start out too fast, pulling back as I watched people passing me.  Trying to run "smart."  After the first mile, the sweatshirt had to come off - and tied around my waist.

We hit mile 2 as we headed out to the coast.  Or I should say, UP to the coast.  This was probably the gnarliest hill on the course, but that could just be because it was the one I was least prepared for.  My training runs had all been along the coast, but starting out at the coast.  I didn't even think about the fact that Via de la Valle would be uphill the whole way out.  I felt a little surge of relief when we finally made it out to South Coast Highway.  This was the course I knew and loved. 

There were bands all along the course.  And while I was a bit concerned about their musical selection, I was pleasantly surprised that many of them were playing covers - songs I knew and loved.  As I approached mile 3, the band on the other side of the street was warming up, waiting for runners to start heading back.  They were playing "I Am the Walrus."  I joined in on the woos.

They didn't have too long to wait for returning runners.  By the time I hit mile 4, the 5 of the elite runners had passed me, on their way back to the finish.

Mile 4 was the toughest for me.  I felt pretty strong through the race, but as I headed down the hill toward Seaside Beach, I started questioning what kind of idiot runs a 10 mile race when sick.  And that's right about when I came upon The Unknown.


They were playing "Till the World Ends" and although I'm not a huge Britney fan, the song just seemed to come right at the perfect time to pick me up, and I was A-OK from there on in.  I mean, do you see the view?  I was running on a "highway,"  beside the water, with awesome bands playing every few feet.  It didn't matter if this wouldn't be my fastest run ever, if I had to slow down, I would and could.  I was just going to relax and enjoy the run.

I did a little internal cheer when I hit 5 miles, halfway there!  And I laughed when a woman behind me hooted a little later at the turnaround.  I turned to smile at her and she pointed out that we were about to head down hill.  Everyone was in a pretty good mood between the turnaround and mile 6, all downhill.  It probably didn't hurt that The Christopher Brothers were playing "Help" at that time.  Who would have guessed the Beatles would have music that gets you in the mood to run?

Around mile 7, someone yelled out we only had 5k to go.  The racers in this run were certainly vocal!





Shortly after mile 8 we turned and headed back to the racetrack.  I'm not going to lie, it felt too soon.  I wasn't sure how they were going to get in another 2 miles once we were in the track, but they did.  Without the ocean to watch, there seemed like less bands (even though there were 3 between the time we entered the track and the finish line), and it was definitely the most boring part of the run.  But soon enough, I recognized that we were nearing the corrals where we had started and I knew the finish wouldn't be too far off.


 As we approached the finish, I realized I was going to finish in under 2 hours.  Part of me was a little worried - my plan was to finish around 2 hours, because that meant I was taking it nice and slow.  But I'm not going to lie - part of me was excited because I hadn't pushed myself, I had taken it "easy" and I was still going to beat my goal. 

As I crossed the finish and started to slow, I could have sworn I heard my name.  I turned and saw Thatboy, with Thatbaby on his shoulders, waiting just passed the finish line.  Once Thatbaby had woken, Thatboy decided they should head over to the race, and watch me finish.  He got the text that I was at the halfway point right as they were getting in the car.  They had watched one of the bands for a while and Thatbaby had danced, and then they headed over to the finish to cheer me on.

It was kind of awesome to have them there.  Of course, I dissolved into a mess of coughing once I finished the race, but I accepted my medal, gathered some water, oranges, bananas, and snacks and Thatboy hearded me into a warm place for my lungs to calm down a bit.


We sat together, snacking (Thatbaby was more than happy to share my post-race loot) while they filled me in on their morning and I filled them in on the race.  Then we went home and I collapsed in bed for the rest of the day.

Overall it was a great run - the Expo was disappointing, but for an inaugural race, it was well organized and a lot of fun.  The course was fantastic and so were the bands.  There were some definite "quiet" portions, where some runners took to yelling "more music" but overall I actually preferred this race to the last Rock 'n Roll race I ran. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Another Giveaway

A couple weeks ago I emailed my friend Michelle to complain to her about my lack of reading material.  You see, after 2 years I have finally made it through the pile of reading material that had been stacked beside my bed since September of 2011. 

Well, I actually made it through my list in October 2013, and kicked around until one of my favorite authors new book came out in November and it took me a couple of months to finish that.

But I digress.  My reason for complaining to Michelle is that typically in the fall I don't have to worry about finding reading material, because Michelle times her latest book to come out right at that time.  As if she knows that's my reading lull period.  Except in 2013, Michelle failed me.

Luckily she promised that 2014 would not go by without the third part of her trilogy.  And she promises that this one will be right up my alley.  And she gave me a list of recommendations that would last me until then. 

Until then, I leave you with an extra special treat.  A gift from me to you - Michelle's first two books!  Just in case you haven't read them yet.  So you can catch up before the third comes out this year.
  Want to get reading?  Just leave a comment.  Tell me your favorite book you've read lately.

That's it!  The only thing you have to do to potentially have some shiny new reading material.  

The contest will end on Monday, February 24th at midnight PST.  Winner will be notified on February 25th.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Baked Chicken Burrito

Towards the end of last year, L&O confided in me that crockpot wet chicken burritos I posted were a big hit in her family. 

Which isn't too surprising.  They're a big hit in my family too.  But we tend to like burritos over here.  And although we're not too picky about homemade versus restaurant burritos, one of the things that home burritos have in their favor is that I typically serve a sauce over them.  Which makes them an enchilada burrito hybrid.  But hey, are you going to play semantic games or just eat?  This burrito is topped with sour cream poblano sauce.  Which sounds spicier than it is.  Even Thatbaby liked it, and he does not do spicy.

Baked Chicken Burrito (adapted from Elly Says Opa)
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 onion, diced
1lb ground chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp brown sugar
kosher salt
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack
4 large flour tortillas
Cooking Spray
2 Poblano peppers
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Saute onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.  
  2. Ad the chicken and cook until browned.
  3. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  
  4. Add the beans, water, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, brown sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Divide the cheese between the tortillas.
  6. Spoon some of the chicken and bean mixture over the top. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla in, and then roll the tortilla up, from the end closest to you, to the top. 
  7. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and lightly spray the tops of the burritos with cooking spray.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until tortillas are golden brown and crispy.
  8. Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Place the poblanos directly over a gas burner. Using tongs, turn occasionally until skin is blackened on all sides. Place in a bowl and top with plastic wrap or a clean towel, until cook enough to handle. (Alternatively, you can roast the peppers under the broiler until all sides are well-charred.)  Peel the peppers, remove the stems and seeds, and dice them.
  9. Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat and melt the butter.
  10. Stir in the flour and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly. 
  11. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and then the diced poblano; continue to simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened. 
  12. Stir in the sour creamand warm through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve the sauce over the baked burritos.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pecan Cookies

I'm sure at one time in your childhood you chanced upon a pecan sandy.  A cookie, topped with a pecan.  I'm not a fan.  Honestly, and this is going to sound funny given the name of the cookie, they've always been a little gritty for me.  I don't love the flavor of the cookie itself.

This is a remake of the classic pecan sandy.  The cookie itself is thinner, crisper, sweeter.  And instead of being topped with a single pecan, I topped mine with chopped pecans.  So there's a little pecan in every bite.

Pecan Cookies
1/2 lb butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Cream the butter in an electric mixer.
  2. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla and flour.
  4. Pat into a cookie sheet sprayed with baking spray. 
  5. Beat the egg white until foamy.  Brush on top of dough.
  6. Sprinkle with pecans, pressing them gently into the dough.
  7. Bake for 17 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesday: Valentine's Day Wrap Up

I hope you all had a very lovely Valentine's Day.  Mine was less than stellar.  Poor Thatboy.  It's not fun to celebrate with a sick wife!  I sent him to work with special heart shaped burgers and banana bread for lunch.  For Thatbaby, I made heart shaped french toast.

Thatboy got off work early, came home, and got to work on his Valentine's Day gift to me.  First he cleaned off our dining room table which has taken a beating this week.  Then he made me dinner, lobster ravioli with porcini mushroom sauce.  Which I ate half of, on the couch.  Seriously - what a terrible wife I am!  Wanna know what makes me even worse?  Know what my Valentine's Day gift to Thatboy was?  Well as of Friday, it was nothing!! NOTHING!  I ordered him his favorite chocolates - and due to inclement weather...somewhere...their delivery was delayed.  I also ordered him some of his favorite body wash.  Which the post office says was delivered Friday at noon.  It wasn't.

I hope all of you had a more successful day that we did!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Arts and Crafts

If you have a toddler, you know they don't sit still.  Any moment you're home you are brainstorming ways to keep them occupied.  These are some of those ways. 

Sir Marks A Lot: Don't overlook the obvious.  The easy.  You know - coloring implements and paper.  For the very young I recommend the Crayola Magic series.  Which will ensure your walls and carpets survive your budding artist. These paints and markers ONLY work on the specialized paper.  We've only recently evolved past the Banksy stage and introduced actual markers.  Crayons are still a bit problematic, as they break easily which is both enticing "I BREAK!" and upsetting "BROKEN!"

Science Tricks:  These get a lot of mileage around here.  They're like "magic."  A lot of these are from my childhood, but some are simple innovations.  Ooblek is from my childhood (2:1 ratio of cornstarch to water).  Placing a ball-pit ball on top of a hairdryer and making the ball float?  That one is all me.  And if you want to entertain your child for a very long time, fill 2 small cups with colored water, and then let you child help combine them in a larger glass to learn about how 2 primary colors can make a secondary color (repeat over and over and over).

Hands On: Toddler hands (and feet) make the best tools for crafting.  We've been taking advantage of this for quite some time.  This works especially well for gifts for grandparents.  But even if you don't use it for gifts, kids love "making" something, even more so when they get to do it "themselves."  So place some paint on a plate and let them get to creating.  Recently we've made snowmen on a hill with white paint, and many many balloons with thumbrints and multicolored paint.

One Man's Trash: This is probably my favorite arts and crafts recommendation.  Use your garbage.  Now, this doesn't have to be fancy.  For the past 2 days, Thatbaby has been wandering around the house with the cardboard insert from a roll of wrapping paper, pretending it's a baseball bat.   But it can get more creative.  Last week, when I was home sick, Thatbaby dug a milk jug out of the recycling bin.  Because without something to do, they WILL get into your trash.  Rather than freak out (because who has the energy?) I decided we would turn it into a project.  Thatbaby helped decide he wanted to make a "ball game."  So we did.

We cut off the bottom of the jug, and attached a balloon filled with rice to the jug with kitchen twine.  Voila - throw the ball up and try to catch it with the jug.


And if you're anything like us, you have diaper boxes coming out of your ears.  So what do you do with those boxes?  Turn them into trains!  Or cars.  
 
For this, I cut the top and bottom off the diaper box, then let Thatbaby pick out the colors of construction paper.   I glued them on to the diaper box and let him decorate the whole thing with stickers.  I punched holes on the sides and ran some ribbon through to hold his "train" on his shoulders.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Runday: Ready or Not...

Today's the day!  My first race of 2014.  My first 10-mile race!  (Not my first 10 mile run, but the first time I'll get a medal for running 10 miles).  Which means that however I do, it's going to be a PR.  Which is a good thing, since I'm not expecting to do so well.

You see, as is my usual luck, I happened to get sick RIGHT before the race.  On Tuesday to be exact.  With Bronchitis to be more exact.  I've been super babying myself (talk about a taper week!) and taking good care of myself.  And I won't be running my little heart out, it'll be more of a measured jog.  But I don't want to miss what should be a truly amazing race. 

At least it better be - the expo was a bit disappointing, so much so I have no pictures of that to share with you.  Instead, just think good thoughts for me and my little lungs.  See you on the other side of the finish!



Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

The winner of the Valentine's Day Package is freebiequeen15!  I'll be emailing you to get your address so I can send out your fun package of goodies.

But really, I just wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day!  I adore each of you.  Now go out and spread the love today.  Thatboy is making me dinner to celebrate, so if you don't hear from my by Monday, it probably means our home went up in flames. 


Love Ya!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bikin' Tikes

Saturday we got together with Little LO for some quality time.  I'd been promising Thatbaby a bike date with Little LO since Thatbaby got his bike.  And apparently Little LO "do love Thatbaby."  We met at a park that was kind of between our two homes.  Which was nice, because the boys got to play on their bikes, AND play on the playground.

Although both boys have balance bikes, they both preferred to ride their tricycles.  It must be a 2 year old thing.  Thatbaby convinced Little LO they should ride to the top of a hill and then ride down.  Little LO, not being a fool, took the safer route of rolling his bike down the hill instead of riding it.


It's funny to watch the two of them together.  Because, like most 2 year olds, they don't fully interact, usually taking part in parallel play more than anything.  And yet, any time they were separated on the playground, each would be asking where the other was.


And of course, if one was on a bike, the other wanted to be on a bike too.  I'm thinking these two are going to be big trouble when they turn 16 and get drivers' licenses.

If you're on the sidewalks of San Diego - be safe, stay away from these two!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jalapeno Tequila Chicken

You may have noticed that a lot of my recipes are leftover ingredients thrown together.  It's how I roll.  So when I bought a bunch of jalapenos from Trader Joes, the obvious way to use them was to chop them off and cook them with chicken.  The trick with jalapenos is to remove ALL the seeds to reduce the heat.  Which is especially important if you're cooking for a small child who doesn't like spicy.  By the way, there is a drawback to attempting to use up pantry ingredients.  After I made this, Thatboy asked me what happened to that bottle of tequila we usually have in the pantry.

Jalapeno Tequila Chicken
 2 chicken breasts
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup tequila
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
juice from 1 lime
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and chili powder.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Dredge the chicken in flower and saute 6 minutes per side.  Remove from pan and keep warm.
  3. Add onions to pan and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  5. Add the jalapenos and bell pepper and cook for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the tequila and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until tequila has reduced.
  7. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes.
  8. Add the chicken broth, lime juice, and chicken to pan.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for 8 minutes.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Beginning of the 2014 Birthday Season

Once you have a kid, you'll find your weekends are beyond busy.  There's the typical errand-running busy, because goodness knows you can't get anything accomplished during the week, between work and daycare pickups and dropoffs.  And after the first year, birthday season guarantees that Monday morning will have you wondering where your weekend went.  Last year, the "birthday season" didn't start until April for us.  That's when we started having party after party to attend.  This year we apparently hit some kind of birthday lottery, because the parties have already begun.  At least for right now they're starting slow, we have one party a month for January, February, and March.  January's party was for Lexus.  She had her party at an indoor play area.  Thatbaby had an incredible time.  He loved playing in all the different play areas, from the supermarket to the firetruck, to the castle.  He played games, he danced, he ate cake.  And he didn't want to leave.  As soon as he finished his cake, he was begging to go back into the main area.  Looks like we'll be heading back sometime soon.

An attempt at musical chairs with hula hoops wasn't too successful since Thatbaby preferred to pick his hoop up and play with it.

When you're 2 (or 3) playing hide-and-seek means everyone hides in the same place.  




Monday, February 10, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Boys and Babies



It started simply enough.  A couple of weeks ago, when I went to pick Thatbaby up from preschool, he was pushing a doll around in a shopping cart - "Yook mama, I pushing baby in stroller." 

The next few times I came to pick him up, he was similarly playing with one of the dolls, taking pride in showing me his "baby." 

At his parent teacher conference, his teacher asked if Thatboy and I knew CPR, because he was often found doing what looked like compressions on the baby dolls.  (We figured out he was mimicking putting on Vick's vapor-rub, like Thatboy did with him before bed).  His teacher was quick to point out that it was "okay" for Thatbaby to play with dolls, because he might be a daddy some day.  Thatboy and I exchanged glances.

At the time, our son was wearing pink nail polish, because he saw me putting some on.  Which is why he asks for "my little lipstick" when he sees me putting on my makeup. Our son, who owns a pink shopping cart.  Who clambers to ride in the "purple car" (which is really pink) at the supermarket.  Who wears my shoes around the house.  Him playing with dolls, is not a concern for us.

Thatbaby is going through a definite "baby phase" right now.  He's been pointing at everything and calling it "his baby."  One morning he held out the zipper on his pajamas to me and told me it was his baby.  He had a gift certificate for Toys 'r Us which we thought would be put to good use in getting him a baby of his own.  We thought we'd let him pick it out his own.  While looking for a doll, he found a motorcycle behind one of the boxes and was transfixed.  Yes.  This is why I have not one concern about my son wanting to play with dolls.  Because he doesn't know that "motorcycles are for boys and dolls are for girls."  Such a statement doesn't exist in his little head.  He wants to play with them both.  And why shouldn't he?

Thatbaby loves trains, dinosaurs, blocks, balls, and right now, he's into dolls.  I'm not worried about what this says about his gender preferences.  I don't qualify it by explaining that boys need to take care of babies, because they'll be daddies.  Instead, I take it at face value.  He likes to play with dolls.  One day, he might not.  And that's okay too.  Right now, before he learns what society expects of him, he gets to decide.  And we'll support that in any way possible.



Thatbaby asked to open his baby as soon as we were out of the store (or before...that may have been how I got him out of the store because he wanted to bring home just about everything he saw.) On the ride home he alternated between making her cry "Baby crying.  I push her." and making her feel better "I hug her.  She happy."

Baby, who doesn't have a name, takes baths with Thatbaby, and he tucks her in to her bed at night (in his wagon).  He rocks her in his swing, asking me to sing Rock-a-bye-baby to the both of them.  Frankly, I think it's adorable.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Sunday Runday: That Old Familiar Feeling

In February 2010 I was training for my first 15k.  I was running down a very steep hill when I started getting a pain in my left knee.  Based on the locations of the pain, and my fabulous google skills, I determined it was my IT band.  Which is frustrating, because it's one of those things that would go away, and pop right back up.

I didn't discover foam rolling until training for my half marathon at the end of 2010, and then it was much more about my hips than my knee.  

When I ran the Rock and Roll Half in January of 2011, my IT band acted up during the run, and really hit hard after the race.  I thought rest was the answer, and since I had just found out I was pregnant, rest was easy...for a couple of weeks, before I started training for my next half marathon.

My IT band pain struck again in January 2012, when I was training for the Tinkerbell Half.  It was during my last long run - the week before the race.  This time I was smart, and brought my foam roller out to play.  (And reintroduced my Vibrams for the taper during the week).  By the time the race rolled around, my knee was back in fighting shape.

And I haven't had any knee pain since.  Until 2 weeks ago, January 2014 (I'm thinking January is a bad month for my knees, what do you think?).  It was my 7 mile run, and I was on my way back when I felt that same twinge in my knee.  My right this time, just to keep things interesting apparently.  It was fine as soon as I stopped running, but as soon as I started playing with Thatbaby on the beach and chasing a ball, it flared right back up.  Not good.  With all the big runs I have planned for this year, I knew I had to nip this in the bud.  As soon as we came home, I broke out my foam roller.  And rolled and rolled and rolled.  My IT band, my quads, hamstrings, and calves.  Everything that touched my knee!  I took off the next day (which was good, because when I woke up, my IT band was throbbing) and kept rolling rolling rolling.  Monday morning I took it easy.  Threw on my Vibrams and went for a nice, slow run.  With no pain.  And came home and rolled.  By Tuesday I felt comfortable picking up the speed, but keeping up with the rolling.

I think I've taken care of the problem, but I'm keeping a close eye on it!  My long run last week was with a lot of trepidation.  I kept waiting for the twinge in my knee, but it didn't come.  Keep your fingers crossed that this keeps up till June!

Friday, February 07, 2014

A Giveaway! Valentine's Day Treats



If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll know that I'm Pro-Valentine's Day.  It's not my favorite holiday, my heart belongs to Halloween, but I love the sentiment of Valentine's Day. Thatboy and I still tell each other "I love you" multiple times a day.  I call Thatmom daily.  But I'm not as good at remembering to tell my friends every day how important they are.  And I'm betting you're the same way.  So a day where I can share my appreciation for the important people in my life is always welcome.  And those important people include you!!!  So as a Valentine's Day treat, I wanted to share my love for you, my readers.  Those I know and those I've never actually met.  Those who leave sweet thoughts, and those who flip through while drinking their coffee.

My gift to you is a special Valentine's Day care package.  Complete with a cd of some of my favorite romantic songs, a heart shaped cookie cutter, and:




A fondue set!  Because nothing says "I love you" like dripping cheese.  (or chocolate, if you're into that kind of thing.)


And if you do like that kind of thing, then you'll love that I'm also including some of my favorite San Diego treats - chocolate bars from Chuao Chocolates! 

And if I find any other goodies in the next week, I'll probably throw them in there too.

To win, all you need to do is follow the rafflecopter link and instructions below to enter!  The contest ends on Valentine's Day, next Friday 2/14, and the winner will be contacted by email.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Coco-Mac Tart Bars

Valentine's Day is right around the corner.  Which means it's time to start thinking about sweets for your sweet!

I'm a little truffled out from all the truffles I made for Chanukah and Christmas, but I definitely want something that captures that same idea - candy like without being candy.

You can blame this one on the near constant supply of coconut we have in our house.  And you know what goes with coconut?  Macadamia nuts.  They're the perfect pair. 

Well my friends, put them together in a tart and you have a sweet as candy Valentine's Day Treat! Although my original plan was to include chocolate, I'm glad I left it out. These are so sweet on their own, a chocolate layer would be overkill.  You could serve it as a tart, but I like them cut into bars to make them easier to handle, eat, and share.  Because Valentine's Day is about sharing - right!

Coco-Mac Tart Bars
1/4 lb butter
2 Tbsp confectioners sugar
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla 
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line an 8x8 baking dish with wax paper.  Cream the butter in an electric mixer.
  2. Add the confectioners sugar and flour and blend.  Pat this mixture into the pan and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. While the tart layer is cooling, beat the eggs in the electric mixer.
  4. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and continue beating.
  5. In a small bowl combine 2 Tbsp flour, salt, and baking powder.  Add this mixture to the eggs and beat well.
  6. Beat in the macadamia nuts and coconut.  Spread over the tart layer and bake for another 30 minutes.  Cool in pan and then cut into bars.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Polenta Casserole


We've hit February.  Which means that the gyms are going to start getting less crowded and with the upcoming chocolate eating holiday, diets are going to be relaxed a little,

Which means it is the perfect time to share a very rich, decadent dish.  I mean, if the groundhog is predicting 6 more weeks of winter, it's not like you're going to have to worry about parading around in a bathing suit any time soon. 


This dish combines polenta, which already has a richness all on its own.  Add some salty ham and creamy cheese and you can understand why I wasn't sharing this dish the first week of January.  And to really round it out, there's some cream on top.  Because if you're not going to use butter, then really, cream is the only choice.

This is one of those dishes that really got thrown together by odds and ends I had in the fridge.  A little bit of this left over, a little bit of that.  Which is why it seems like such an odd conglomeration.  But it's one that works.  There's just the right balance of salty and sweet, creamy and spicy.




Polenta Casserole
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 cup polenta
4 Tbsp salsa
6 oz ham, thinly sliced
6 oz mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Combine the milk, water, salt, and pepper in a saucepan and bring to a boil. 
  2. Reduce heat and add cornmeal, stirring.  Continue to cook until polenta is desired consistency, 20-30 minutes.
  3. Spread half of the polenta in a baking dish.  Top with half the salsa, ham, and mozzarella.
  4. Repeat with the remaining polenta, salsa, ham, and mozzarella.
  5. Place the Parmesan and cream on top, then bake for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Groundhog's Day

Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, Groundhog's Day was a given.  You woke up and watched Phil make his prediction and fully believed it.

Since moving to California, Groundhog's Day has officially fallen off my radar.  It is barely acknowledged here.  So you can imagine my surprise when I picked Thatbaby up from school last week to find they had been talking about groundhogs, singing songs about groundhogs, and learning all about Groundhog's Day!

So obviously on Sunday we had to watch Punxatawny Phil make his prediction.

Did you watch?  I don't want to spoil anything, but it sounds like we're in for 6 more weeks of winter.  I'm hoping this means California gets some much needed rain!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Mommy Mondays: How to Deal with Toddlers and Snow



Gotcha.  I have no advice on this topic.  I was a toddler in Florida, and this is the closest Thatbaby is probably going to.  Playing in snow in 65 degree weather.



Sunday, February 02, 2014

Sunday Runday: Favorite Running Tools



I don't know if I've mentioned it, but last year I joined a running group.  It was before my whole weekend run at the beach idea with Thatboy and I liked the idea of having someone to do my longer runs with.  With a running group, there's always someone out on the weekend going for a long run.  Of course, since our plan began I'm not the best running partner.  It's not so easy to plan a run when the plan is something like "Hey everyone, doing an 8 miler on Sunday...not sure when, not sure where.  It'll depend on what time the kid wakes up and what beach the husband wants to surf at." 

But at least it's given me a great community to discuss running with, and people to look out for at future races.  Last week we were discussing our favorite running items.  The top two items on everyone's list were foam roller and compression sleeves.  I'm TERRIBLE at using the foam roller (and really I should be better) and I've never found the need for compression sleeves.  I thought I'd share my list with you, just as I did them.

Vibrams (on sale right now for $75 from Vibramfivefingers.com).  One of these days I'll do a full write up about my vibrams and why I love them so, but the short story is, since running in them I've found I don't have any injuries.  No shin splints, no IT band pain, and even Thatmom stopped having ankle problems when she switched over.  I don't use them for long distances though, so my long training runs are in my regular sneakers, and my short weekday runs are in the Vibrams.

Moving Comfort Sports Bras ($46), Movingcomfort.com. A must for any busty runners.  These are my favorite sports bras.  No bounce and I found they worked well even during nursing.


Sweaty Bands ($12-18), Sweatybands.com. I love these because they're cute and functional.  You don't always get both.  But these are attractive and really keep your hair out of your face.  Most importantly, they don't slide around or need to be readjusted. 

Body Glide ($6), Amazon.comYou know how I know this stuff works?  When I don't wear it, I get raw spots.  When I wear it?  Nothing.  Last week I placed it everywhere my bra touched -  top and front of shoulders, chest, etc.  But not my back.  Guess who has 2 little red spots below her shoulder blades?  Those little spots aren't so big a deal, and they're very minor, but I've had bad chafing before and it is very not fun.

Jelly Belly Sports Beans ($1.25), REI.com. My fuel of choice.  The ever popular shot blocks are too chewy for me and get stuck in my teeth (which is annoying).   But these are really just jelly beans.  So not too sticky.  Easy to digest (don't bother my stomach).  And small enough to make them easy to tuck in my belt.

Spibelt ($20), Spibelt.com. I know, it's a glorified fanny pack.  But it's small and slim, and a must when you do your running with a dog.  Because tucking waste bags into your pants is very uncomfortable.  And since I'm a big proponent of running with a phone in case of emergencies, this is good because it can carry that too.  Mine usually holds aforementioned bags, a phone, an id, and my key.

What about you?  What are your favorite running tools?