Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Very Berry July: Frozen Blackberry Margaritas

Our Fourth of July has been pretty predictable since we moved into our house.  Hang out in the backyard all day, eating chips and drinking margaritas in the blow up pool.  When it got dark, we'd cross the street to watch the fireworks from our neighbor's front yard. 

This year we decided to move our backyard pool party to a new location.  We took advantage of our annual passes to Legoland and spent the afternoon at the waterpark.

The boys had a fantastic time, playing in the splash pad, floating down the lazy river, and riding down the slides.

The water park closed at 7pm, so around 6pm we grabbed dinner before the restaurants closed.  We went semi-traditional with grilled food.  I had a sausage topped with peppers.

And the boys all had hamburgers.

After dinner, we headed over to Mini-Land to see the fireworks.  As a tip for any first time firework-goer, this is NOT the best place to see the fireworks.  The year I went with Thatkid, we stayed in The Beginning, but really the parking lot may be the best place.

We made our home there anyway, because it was nice lawn for the kids to hang out - similar to sitting in a yard!

Plus there was music for the kids to dance and play.

One of the reasons we went to Legoland is because they have such early fireworks.  By 9pm we were heading to the car and heading home.  Both the kids were asleep by the time we got home.

Overall it was a very low key and enjoyable Fourth of July experience.  Thatboy, who really wanted nothing more than to sit in the backyard even admitted it was better than he was expecting.  The only thing missing was the margarita (although Thatboy found me a Michelada replacement).

The nice thing about the Fourth of July is that it happens early enough in the summer that there's plenty of time for margaritas later on.  And the last of those blackberries I picked became the prime subject for my makeup margarita.

Sure you can just blend the ingredients with some ice, but really, is that how you want your margaritas?  All watered down?  For me, there's no comparison - throw the whole thing in an ice cream maker and you don't lose that flavor, in fact, it just might intensify it.  Sure it takes a little longer, but aren't you worth it?

Frozen Blackberry Margaritas
1 3/4 cups blackberries
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp tequila
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp triple sec
1 tsp lime zest
juice of 2 limes

  1. Combine blackberries, 1/3 cup water, tequila, sugar, triple sec, lime zest and lime juice in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.  
  2. Place in an ice cream maker and process until thick and slushy.
  3. Pour into glasses.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Very Berry July: Berry Pecan Crisp

One of the ways Thatboy and I handle having 2 kids is by splitting up and pretending we only have one. 

It's a genius idea really.  We each take a kid for the day and do something with just that child.  The child gets some good one-on-one time with whichever parent they're with, and the parent only has to deal with one whiny child. 

Last month Thatboy took Thatkid to see School of Rock, while I took Thatbaby blackberry picking.

Stehly Farms opens their doors to the public for one day of blackberry picking.  We went last year and got multiple baskets of the sweetest, most perfect blackberries ever.  So of course I wanted to go back.   This year, however, the crops were not as bountiful.

We weren't even able to fill one basket, and most of the berries we did get weren't 100% as ripe as we would have liked them.

The wonderful thing about the farm though is that there is so much else to do other than just pick berries.  Thatbaby couldn't wait to go on the tractor ride tour of the farm.

He was slightly less enthused about the mounds of fertilizer we passed however.

After the tractor ride, he made a beeline to the animal pens, where he got to pet sheep, goats, and even a pony.

He was so interested in the animals, that he almost missed the fun vehicles there to play in.  But it wasn't long before he glanced over and joined in the fun.

He had such a great time playing on the fire truck, tractor, and playground that we ended up staying for much longer than anticipated.  So it was a successful day, even if it the picking was less than successful.

Last year we didn't get anything made with the blackberries, because they went straight into our mouths.  This year, with the less sweet berries, I decided baking them with lots of sugar would be the best idea. 

Thatmom has always favored the crisp - so I grew up with apple crisps and stonefruit crisps.  Blackberry crisp seemed like a really natural and easy way to make use of these berries. We had quite the bounty with our blueberry picking, so I combined the two into one crisp, bursting with berries.  Thatmom makes her crisps with pecans, so I do too.  But this would be equally good without nuts.  This was very much a family pleaser.  I prefer mine warm with a scoop of ice cream, but Thatkid was happy for this straight from the fridge.  As with all crisps, the flavor only gets better the next day (and the day after that if it lasts that long). 

Berry Pecan Crisp
2/3 cup flour
 2 Tbsp rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
4 cups blueberries
2 Tbsp honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 375.  Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until combined.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until mixture begins to stick together.
  3. Stir in the pecans.
  4. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the blackberries, sugar, and cornstarch.  Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture thickens.
  5. Stir in the blueberries and pour into a baking dish.
  6. Crumble the topping over the berries and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Drizzle the honey over the topping and bake for another 5 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Sunday Runday: Sports Bra Squad Day

When Thatboy first met me, one of the things he was really impressed with was my self-confidence.  But between you and I, it was just an act.  I've never been terribly self-confident.  I mean, I'm aware that there are somethings I do very well, but it's very easy to put those things up against the things I feel I'm lacking in and find that negative column outweighs the positive.

I've never been confident, or happy, with my body.  And I don't say this coming from a place where I eventually reached some sort of inner peace with that.  It's something I struggle with on a daily basis.  And it doesn't help that when Thatboy told his parents we were getting married, his mom told him she thought he would end up with someone thinner.  Or that she has always served me half portions of food when we visit.    But I can't blame her, it just reinforces the inner voice I already hear that tells me I'm not good enough, thin enough, or pretty enough (because all those things are really the same complaint when your self-talk isn't great.)

Last year I joined my girlfriends in the Global Sports Bra Running Day and it re-emphasized a point I already knew - that no matter how beautiful we think another woman is, she often has the same insecurities.  As a sex, we have a very hard time recognizing and appreciating ourselves.  And stripping down to our sports bras, in the company, and with the support of friends, really helps.  It doesn't wave a magic wand and make you feel beautiful, but you feel safe. Safer. 

So when the call went out to do it again this year - I did.  I met up with a group of beautiful women, took off my shirt, took a picture...and promptly put my shirt back on.

But in a step up from last year, I did do part of the run in just a sports bra - not a long part,  but a part nonetheless.  And while it was a far step outside my comfort zone, nothing terrible happened.  It wasn't world changing.  It didn't change my view of myself or the outside world, but it was a step.  A step toward the recognition that although none of us are happy with the way we look, we are all our own worse critics.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Very Berry July: Cherry Berry Crepes

Happy Fourth of July everyone!  I've decided this month to celebrate one of my favorite aspects of summer - the berry.  I'm especially interested in this because we have so many fresh berries in the house right now.  Next week I'll regale you with a different berry, but as you may or may not recall, last month we went blueberry picking and we are now on blueberry overload.

Not that too many blueberries are ever a bad thing.  My kids would eat a pint at a time if they could.  And they are a staple for the picnics we've been having.

Every Fourth of July they also make an appearance in the breakfast I make for the kids.  Because when you're making something red, white, and blue, blueberries are a natural choice for the blue portion. 

The red part of the breakfast is also usually berry-related, but it changes, because there are a lot of red berries.  This year, with some leftover cherry sauce, it made sense to use that for our breakfast treat.

Red cherries, blue blueberries, and a little white whipped cream and we have a very patriotic berry filled, summer breakfast treat!

Cherry Berry Crepes
Coco Whip (or your favorite whipped cream)

  1. Fill each crepe with brandied cherry sauce.
  2. Place coco whip over the cherries.
  3. Sprinkle the blueberries on top and roll up the crepe.
  4. Top with more whipped cream, berries, or just powdered sugar

Monday, July 02, 2018

Mommy Mondays: Summer Bucket List

My bucket lists are always  I blame the weird weather we have here in San Diego that means that "seasonal" things don't always happen in season.  So by the time summer roles around, we've already got a big jump on things that would be quintessentially summer - like the fair, summer concerts, and waterparks.  The same holds true for ice skating in the fall, or apple picking in the summer, so it's not just our spring ends early. 

This year's summer bucket list is a bit of a cheat, since we have our whole summer almost already completely filled out.  There are definitely some blank spaces though, so for some of these things are wishful thinking for what I hope to fill those days with.  Because you know us, we're never idle.

*Movies in the Park
* Make s'mores
* Make lemonade
* Make ice tea
* Make popsicles
* Watch fireworks
* Outdoor concerts
* Outdoor theater
* Swim lessons
* Backyard pool time
* Go on hikes
* Horse races
* Eat meals outside
* Beach day
* Pick watermelons
* Visit a waterpark
* Grow our own vegetables
* Go on picnics
* Camp out in the backyard

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Malted Chocolate-Peanut Butter Sauce

It's time for our annual girls' weekend trip!  But this year it was a little different. 

I'll back up.

In March, Horsewhisperer let us all know she was going to be in town for a wedding at the end of June.  The wedding was on a Saturday, so she was going to come in early and wanted to know if we were free the Friday before.  Of course, we all jumped at the chance to spend time with her.  We love her!  We miss her!

We also knew it probably wouldn't be feasible for her to fly out twice in June, so instead of a full weekend, we decided to just do a girls' overnight - spend the whole day Friday with her, and then part ways on Saturday so she could go to her wedding.

We came up with a couple of plans, but ended up deciding on a resort not too far from where her wedding was.

And then life happened.  Life always happens, doesn't it?  Horsewhisperer wasn't going to be able to make it after all.  There was some discussion about changing weekends or locations, but in the end we decided to keep it just as we had planned.

On Friday we all met up at the resort.  As usual we spent a fair amount of time catching up in the hotel room before heading down to the main attraction - the pool!

Jurisslave had brought a stand-in for Horsewhisperer, not a replacement or substitute, because you just can't replace someone like that.  But the new girl was so thankful to be included that she got us all reserved lounge chairs just off the pool.  And like any good group of moms away from their families we took full advantage of just being able to sit.

We also took full advantage of the hot tub, complete with waterfall.

We tried out the "Lazy River" but with water fountains shooting at you, rapids, a waterfall, and a ton of children there wasn't much lazy about it.  So we found our way back to the adults only pool.  Know why it's adults only?  See that palapa? 

Swim up bar!  And we also took advantage of that.

We spent the entire day in the water or beside the water, sipping fruity frozen drinks out of our brand new souvenir tumblers.

Eventually we realized it was getting late, and we were getting hungry, so back up to the room to change.  We headed to dinner and sat around talking more.  It's funny how when you're with some people you never run out of things to talk about - and that's how it always is with us.  After dinner we bid adieu to Jurisslave and her friend and headed back up to the room where we talked some more until we all fell asleep - probably early than we do back home.  Because we're old ladies.

The next morning we parted ways.  I always feel so recharged after our time together, and it is never ever long enough.  I love catching up with some of my closest friends and getting away from the thing that brought us all together originally. 

But this trip was extra not long enough, not enough time, not enough talk, not enough indulgent behavior.  We're all older and less crazy than we were - and none of us were especially crazy to begin with.  I mean, our idea of adventure is a swim up bar! 

Sometimes it doesn't take much to indulge though.  Just a little twist on the ordinary - a day at a nearby resort, or adding peanut butter to chocolate sauce.  Both seems so simple, so obvious, but they're things we just never think to do.  So be like us.  Take the simple and obvious and just go for it.

Malted Chocolate Peanut Butter Sauce (From Cooking Light)
1/4 cup chocolate malted milk powder
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Place malted milk powder, condensed milk, and chocolate in a medium saucepan.  Cook, stirring constantly over medium-low heat 6 minutes or until smooth. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla.  Serve warm.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Mommy Mondays: Dinosaurs and Ice Cream, a Roaring 3rd Birthday Party

This year Thatbaby wanted his birthday party at the local children's museum.  They had several themes to choose from, which included activities at the museum.  Thatbaby picked the fossil dig - so a dinosaur party seemed to fit well with that.

His other request for the party was ice cream.  And inspired by one of his favorite books, I decided to incorporate that into the theme. 

Guests were greeted upon arrival with a reminder of that theme - dinosaurs and ice cream cones dotted the entry way.

The outdoor space where the party was held didn't really have walls, so I made use of a lot of hanging decorations in the open spaces.  Lanterns and hanging ice cream cones were strung along the sides.

The tables featured dinosaurs enjoying their own ice cream sundaes.

Dinosaurs ate ice cream on the kid's water bottles, and their lunches were packed in little dinosaur lunch boxes.  Inside were dinosaur shaped turkey sandwiches, "dinosaur eggs" (grapes) and cheese crackers marked with dinosaur footprints.

Of course there was food for the adults too.

And the dessert table held cupcakes, ice cream cone shaped rice krispie treats,

Bone-shaped meringues

Dinosaur head cake pops

And of course, what would an ice cream and dinosaur party be without an ice cream sundae bar.  With bone shaped sprinkles, dinosaur shaped sprinkles, gummy dinosaurs, and dinosaur eggs,

And the fossil dig was a lot of fun for the kids.  They started with the kids on the edges of a sand pit with trowels, digging for fossils.

They found claws and dinosaur teeth.

They then moved into the sand pit and began carefully brushing the much larger dinosaur fossil buried there.

We let the kids dig into their goody bags early.  They were filled with toy dinosaurs, dinosaur and ice cream erasers, dinosaur and ice cream tatoos, a dino claw excavation kit, and the hit of the party - ice cream cone poppers.

Because we had the party at the museum, the kids also had access to all the regular museum activities.  And most of the dinosaurs found their way to the water table for a little swim.

Thatbaby had such a great time with his friends, playing and eating ice cream.  Another party down!