Monday, September 25, 2017

Mommy Mondays: Fall Bucket List

I don't get overly excited about Christmas, although I do love the activities surrounding the winter holidays, and I love the family time and the music.

But you guys, the calendar switched from Summer to Fall last week, and I feel like I've been floating on a cloud.  Just the notions of fall is enough to lighten my mood.  The weather this past week has gone right along with it, shuffling off the oppressive heat that marked the end of the summer hear.  And while word on the street is that oppressive heat is returning this week, I can still look at my calendar and remind myself of what this season really is.

I've already brought out some decorations for the tables, and am plotting turning my window box into some form of graveyard (fake - I'm not going to bury anything living above my sink).  And every time I walk past, I smile.

We went for a walk as a family last weekend and started brainstorming our Fall Bucket List.  And we've already started knocking things off!  My biggest problem is that there is always too much to do, and our weekends are packed.  And some of these events overlap with each other, which means we're going to have to do things like choose between going to see Nightmare Before Christmas and the Spooky Aquarium.

*Apple Picking
* Drink lot of apple cider
*Visit a Pumpkin Patch
* Go on a Hay ride
* Cook with pumpkin (pumpkin bread and pumpkin pretzels are first on our list!)
* Halloween Events (Legoland's Brick or Treat, Haunted Aquarium)
* Decorate the House for Halloween
* Watch Halloween movies (at home and at events)
* Carve Pumpkins (at home and at our fave pumpkin carving event)
* Trick-or-Treating
* Attend one of the many Oktoberfests in the area
* Explore Old Town San Diego's Dia de los Muertos
* Take family photos
* Attend a football game
* Attend a Fall Festival

What am I missing?  What's on your list?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Runday: On My Own

I joined "Moms Run This Town" because I was running a lot of half marathons.  Which meant a lot of long runs.  And a running club allowed me to meet other people to run with.  The group, full of moms, was ideal, because no one understands the schedule complexities of a mother, like a mother.

And I met a lot of great running friends this way.  Which made my long runs so much more enjoyable.

When I got pregnant with Thatbaby, I wasn't running long runs anymore, but I was still able to find people to run with at my new, slower speed who became great friends.

But the pendulum swings both ways, doesn't it?

I'm currently training for a half marathon next month, and I've purposely headed out on many of my long runs by myself.  I'm so used to running with people, it's almost novel to have my thoughts to myself during this period.  Yesterday I ran for 9 miles with a smile on my face the entire time.  I got to run at my own speed without worry about faster or slower companions.  I listened to podcasts and became so engrossed, the miles flew by.

I don't think I'll ever give up on running with friends.  I love the companionship, and the time to catch up.  But going back to the beginning, when I only ran by myself is also refreshing.  And even after this half marathon is over, I might keep up with these long runs on my own.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Parmesan-Coated Potato Wedges

Early in the summer I had mentioned to Thatboy that we should plan a beach trip.  We discussed that fact that it had been so long since we'd been to the beach that Thatbaby didn't even remember what the beach was like.

We live in Southern California.  This is unacceptable.

So while we were still battling the heat wave, we escaped to the coast.  After a brief dip in the water with Thatkid, Thatboy abandoned us to get some surf in while I entertained the kids on the sand.

Thatboy had tried to coax Thatbaby into the water, but he wanted nothing to do with it.  Thatkid was antsy to get in, so while Thatbaby and I stood at the very edge of the white water, Thatkid bravely splashed in the waves.

It wasn't long before I had Thatbaby jumping over waves while holding my hand, which gave him the confidence to actually go in the ocean, as long as I was holding him.

When Thatboy got back, he brought Thatkid out with his boogie board, so he could do a little surfing of its own.

Thatbaby wasn't quite brave enough to go in the water with the board, but he was just as happy to be pulled along in the sand.

The beach was an excellent way to escape the heat, which has finally passed.  Now the weather is PERFECT.  It feels funny saying that since it is usually still in the 70s, which is warmer than I like for the fall.  But with temperatures in the 90s and 100s for so long, I'll take 70s!

It means I'm back to actually using the oven again.  It means as much as I love salads, roasted vegetables are back on the menu.  It means our french fries?  They're baked.  Coated in Parmesan cheese and baked.  This recipe calls for both Russet and Sweet Potatoes, although you should feel free to use just one or the other if you want.  I like the mix of both.  These are especially good with some spicy sriracha dip!

Parmesan-Coated Potato Wedges (From Cooking Light)
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour
3 egg whites
1 Tbsp water
3/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup panko
2 Russet potatoes, each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
2 sweet potatoes, each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges

  1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Combine salt and flour in a shallow dish.
  2. Whisk egg whites and 1 Tbsp water in a shallow dish.
  3. Combine cheese and panko in another shallow dish.
  4. Dredge potato wedges in flour mixture.
  5. Dip in egg white mixture.
  6. Dredge in cheese mixture.  Divide between 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper for 30 minutes, rotating the pans after 20 minutes.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mommy Mondays: A Night at the Theater

Friday night, Thatkid and I had a special date night.  We went to see "In the Heights."  It was our annual trip to the summer program run by the Moonlight Amphitheater which performs outdoor theater.  Every year they do one production especially for kids.  This was not that production.

The kids production this year was The Little Mermaid.  Which Thatkid is going to see with his dad through Broadway San Diego, so it didn't make a lot of sense to send him to see the same production twice in a matter of weeks.

"In the Heights" may not seem like a production geared for kids, but we've been expanding our theater selections this year with Thatkid.  Which brings me to the point of this post - how to raise a theater lover.

In short, like most of my wisdom, I have no idea.

But I feel incredibly lucky that Thatkid loves theater so much.

I'm sure part of it has to do with the fact that his parents love theater so much.  Which is also lucky.  I grew up in a house where both my parents listened to, and sang, musicals on a regular basis.  There wasn't a show they didn't know.  My father even auditioned for the original Broadway cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.  And while Thatboy did NOT grow up in a similar household, he loves live theater, especially musicals.

He doesn't have the same background as I do, but he gets enough of the references that I teased him yesterday morning as he tried to tune a guitar that he sounded like he was starting the opening of Rent. And he didn't look at me like I was crazy.  He smiled and nodded.

And then there's exposure.  Thatkid loves theater, because is exposed to lots of theater.  My very first Broadway show was Peter Pan and so when NBC did their "Peter Pan Live" we tuned in.  I thought he would love it. Love might be strong.  But he didn't mind it.  He was very confused that Peter was a girl, but he was definitely interested.  He had just turned 3, which we thought was a good time to introduce him to live theater since he was finally able to sit through a movie....earlier that day.

This was also the period when he started watching Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang all the time, both of which are full of singing.  And that's when we started bringing him to live theater, beginning with the Moonlight Amphitheater production of Shrek - one of his favorite movies.

We play musicals at home, Thatboy and I take turns bringing him to shows, and so far, he hasn't found one he doesn't like.  His current favorite is either Into The Woods, which Thatboy took him to a couple weeks ago (seriously, hearing a 5 year old sing Agony might be a life changing moment) or Hamilton, which he hasn't seen yet, but requests to hear the cast recording all the time  (And if you're not won over by Agony, then you should hear his "Hear Comes the General.")

Neither of those shows is especially kid friendly.  There's sex and death in both of them - themes we avoid in most movies he views.  But a lot of that goes over his head, which makes me feel a little better about bringing him.  And why I thought he might like In The Heights, which is far from a fairy tale.  (He asked if there was a bad guy in the show during the first act, to which I replied "Only the heat and life.")

And although he is much to young to sit through a production, I think we're bringing Thatbaby right along with us.  He doesn't have all the lyrics to Hamilton memorized like his older brother, but he "da da da da daaaaaahs" with the best of them in "You'll Be Back."  And mention "Into the Woods" and he'll tell you all about the witch.  And the wolf.  So hopefully next summer we'll be able to attend Moonlight Amphitheater's production of Newsies as a family!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Runday: San Diego Heart and Stroke Walk

I wish I could say I had super altruistic reasons for participating in this year's Heart Walk.  I mean, it's a cause that's near and dear to my heart, given that my father, grandfather, and cousin all had deaths related to heart disease, and my father-in-law had a stroke-related death.  But I've never participated before.

This year, however, I've got a new job.  And part of my job requirements include participating in community service.  And my company had a team participating in the heart walk.  Joining them would count towards my requirement.  Community service AND participating in a walk AND that walk actually having personal meaning for me?  Sign me up!

I also signed up Thatbaby, so Thatboy would have one less kid to deal with in the morning.  It was Thatkid's last day of basketball, so this gave Thatboy the ability to focus on him.

Now that all the truth is out of the way, let me tell you how much I enjoyed this walk.  Firstly, it was the old Balboa Park route, which I haven't run in years.  Lately, Balboa Park runs have you run on the outskirts of the park, mostly in the neighboring (VERY HILLY) streets.    This one had us actually walk through the park.

And then we headed down onto the freeway!  I think it has literally been 6 years since I've gotten to do this.

Once we were down on the freeway, Thatbaby wanted out of the stroller to stretch his legs.   And this is where another great aspect came in.  This was a walk.  Not a run.  I know, why write about a walk on Sunday Runday?  Because this is my blog and to quote Eric Cartman "I do what I want."

I haven't done a walk in ....longer than 6 years.  And there was something very freeing about not worrying about time, or getting it over with.  I just sat back and let Thatbaby in and out of the stroller at his pleasure.  

He walked beside the stroller, pushed the stroller, and even ran down the freeway himself.  And when he was tired or done, he just climbed right back in.  The walk was 4 miles, and whenever we finished we finished.

There wasn't a ton of on course entertainment, but what they had was really fun.  There were bagpipes.

Cheerleaders, someone who left their car playing music, and a band.  It was fun to go past the band and see all the kids looking back, trying to watch the musicians.

So I may not have gone into the walk for the right reasons, but I embraced everything about it and really enjoyed myself.  I spend so much time racing - running for the sake of running.  Forcing myself to be fast, to push.  Sometimes you need to sit back and just take it all in, walk instead of run.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Orange Cream Pops

One of my favorite fall traditions is going apple picking with LO and her family.  One of my least favorite fall traditions is going apple picking when there are no apples left on the trees.  Which is almost every year.

Every year, without fail, by the time September rolls around, there is only one orchard that still has apples.  And those apples are small and hard to find.

This year, I planned early.  I knew this would mean going in August, opening weekend!  And luckily LO was available, and so we met them at our new favorite orchard - Apple Starr.

We like this place so much because last year, when we went the first weekend in September and they were out of apples, they did have pears.  And those pears were delicious.  So we knew that even if the apples were weak, the pears would be strong.  But we had pretty high hopes for strong apples too.

We also love that they have wagons for dragging your kids through the orchards.

Opening weekend meant the trees were full of fuji, gala, green, and jonagold apples.  There were even a couple of yellow apples.

While we were warned that the pears weren't quite ripe yet, we found green and red pears, soft and ripe, bursting with flavor.

We had no problem filling up a couple of bags to bring home.

On the way home I asked the boys what they wanted to make with the apples and pears.  Thatbaby requested apple pasta, and so last week we had pasta with goat cheese and apples.  And both boys picked out the apple pieces, gobbling up the goat cheese and pasta.  Thatkid requested apple and pear muffins.  But you guys, the problem with apple picking in August?  It's HOT out there.  It seriously might have been the hottest day of the year while we were there, the sun beating down on us.  And it has barely let up since.  So the idea of baking anything isn't highly appealing right now.  Instead, we've been eating pears and apples like crazy - just as they are.

And instead of baking, we've been whipping up more frozen treats.  You may have heard the saying "comparing apples and oranges" as a way of describing two very different items.  So it makes sense in this post about apples and fall I would make something very orange and summer.  Right?

50/50 bars were one of Thatdad's favorite Good Humor treats, and he passed that love on to me.  The flavor is unmistakable, and probably one of the reasons I was such an Orange Julius fan, which seemed to capture that orange cream in drink form.  Thatbaby also loves orange flavored anything, so he falls right in line with his mom and grandfather in loving orange and ice cream.  These orange cream pops capture that flavor from my childhood in a way I love sharing with my kids.  It's a new summer tradition - less nutritious than apple picking, but way cooler!

Orange Cream Pops (From Cooking Light)
4 1/2 cups vanilla light ice cream, slightly softened
1/4 cup thawed orange juice concentrate
1 Tbsp grated orange rind
1 drop orange food coloring
1 drop yellow food coloring
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine 3 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, orange juice concentrate, orange rind, and food coloring in a large bowl, stirring until colors blend.
  2. Beat whipping cream in an electric mixture at high speed until soft peaks form.
  3. Fold vanilla into whipped cream.
  4. Fold whipped cream into 1 1/4 cups vanilla ice cream.
  5. Divide half of the orange flavored ice cream among 20 popsicle molds.  Freeze 30 minutes, or until set.
  6. Top each serving with vanilla ice cream and add popsicle stick.  Freeze 45 minutes, or until set.
  7. Top each serving with remaining orange flavored ice cream and freeze at least 4 hours.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mommy Mondays: Choosing Chores

I touched on this very slightly when talking about how Thatkid's newest job around the house - making dinner, but CHORES!

We're not fantastic at them, and I think we go against all the recommendations, but this is where we are.

We started chores for all the wrong reasons.  Thatkid started being really interested in money and how he could earn it, so we started a chore chart.

He was 4 at the time, and I used this chart as guidance for what he could/should be doing.

He also wasn't able to read, so we started with pictures of the chores he was expected to do.

Things like making his bed, washing his face and brushing his teeth, putting his clothes in his hamper, putting away his toys, putting his dishes in the sink, setting the table, and getting dressed need to be done every day.  Cleaning his room and the coffee table only had to be done once, on the weekend.

He got a star every time he completed one of these tasks, and if he filled an entire week of chores, he'd get an allowance.  We never really decided on how much he would get, which didn't matter, because never got a full chore chart.  It was the room cleaning which killed him every week.  And after a few weeks, he wasn't even interested in the stars.

Nowadays there is no chore chart, no set chores, no allowance.  We tell him things he needs to do, and he does them.  He still does most of the things on the original list, without the expectation of stars.  And every now and again he steps up and offers to do things like put away his clean clothes.  I don't know if we'll start up a chart again, and he hasn't asked about allowance, so for now we just keep on the track we're on.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Double Chocolate Ice Cream

Going to UCLA for undergrad meant I developed a profound respect for book festivals.  Until 2010, the LA Times Festival of Books, the largest book festival in the country, was held on the UCLA campus.  And it was everything you could want  - authors, readings, a celebration of the written word.  It was the very definition of an "event."

So when I saw that San Diego was going to start its very own festival of books, I was all in.  And last weekend we checked it out.  In its first year, it definitely doesn't have the size or gravitas of the LA Times, but hey - everyone has to start somewhere.

The first part of the festival was "Author's Row" where local authors were there to meet, greet, sell, and sign.  The boys were instantly drawn to Laura Knight, who was there with her book "Spot: The Sea Pup's Survival Guide."  She walked them through the book, showing them both the illustrations, as well as the actual pictures the illustrations were based on.

Although most of the festival was really geared to older readers, the Children's Pavilion had children's authors reading and interacting with the little guys.   Like Salina Yoon, who read several of her stories, and even had some of the audience come up and create their own illustrations.  (And yes, that couple stood right up in the front, so that all the kids had to crowd to side and peer around them.  Which is why there's like 20 kids piled on top of each other on the bottom right of the picture. And they stayed there for several authors.  So sweet and considerate of them, no?)

Thatkid quickly got sick of not being able to see and having to be pressed up against so many hot sticky bodies, so we went for a walk to check out the vendors.  Which is how we came across the San Diego Public library's booth where they were helping the kids make monster bookmarks.  He made one for himself and one for his little brother.

I made a quick stop back at Author's alley to pick up a book of my own.  "101 Movies to See Before You Grow Up" has been in my Amazon cart forever, waiting for Thatkid to be old enough to be part of its target audience. But finding out the author was local, AND there, I decided today was the day.   Suzette Valle couldn't have been nicer as she filled me bag with stickers for my boys, and signed the book for us.  We're really looking forward to introducing the boys to some of these "classics."

We bounced home for some homemade butter pasta and some homemade ice cream.  Both were actually great for a summer night, since the pasta doesn't require heating up the whole house with the oven.  And ice cream?  I mean, I don't need to explain that one, right?  Chocolate ice cream is not really my thing.  I much prefer a good vanilla ice cream.  But chocolate is the flavor of choice for the rest of my family.  In fact, Thatbaby calls all other flavors by their color ("orange ice cream" "blue ice cream") except chocolate.  That one he knows by name.  And requests.  So chocolate it is.

My concession to me is to stay away from milk chocolate - or even semi sweet, which can be too sweet for me.  Cocoa and bittersweet chocolate make this a dark chocolate ice cream that will please chocolate lovers and chocolate tolerators alike.

Double Chocolate Ice Cream (From Cooking Light)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced fat milk, divided
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate

  1. Combine sugar and cocoa in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.
  2. Add 1/2 cup milk and egg yolks, stirring well.
  3. Stir in 2 cups milk.
  4. Cook 12 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
  5. Place cream in a medium sized, micowaveable bowl and microwave at High for 1 1/2 minutes or until cream boils.
  6. Add chocolate to cream, stirring until smooth.
  7. Add cream mixture to pan, stirring until smooth. Place pan in a large bowl of ice and cool completely.
  8. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice cream maker and process according to instructions.  
  9. Spoon ice cream into a freezer safe contained and freeze for 1 hour or until firm.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Sunday Runday: A Run with a View

 Don't forget to sign up to join me at The Fit Foodie Run.  Use code KAYTORADEFF to get $10 off.  Prices go up September 5!

It started with a text:
"I kind of want to climb a mountain on Saturday.  It is supposed to be cooler."

Climb a mountain.  You guys, these are the kinds of friends I have.  Friends that want to climb mountains.  By all rights I should take that as a compliment to myself, right?  Because I choose ambitious and adventurous friends.  Even if I, myself, am not ambitious and adventurous. 

To continue on with my tale, Saturday was not, in fact, cooler.  By 3pm, temperatures by me were 105 degrees.  And while Saturday morning wasn't quiet as hot, it was warm enough where the mountains got downgraded to a hill.  

And there we were in Torrey Pines, hiking beside the ocean.

The most challenging part of the hike is always getting up to the top of the hill where the trails start.  From then on, it's easy.  The allure of the hike is not the difficulty, but the view while you weave your way through well maintained trails.  So it wasn't the strenuous hike that had us all sweating.  It was that warm weather I previously mentioned.

We explored every trail that was open, and debated the closed ones.  Overall we decided that the $300 fine for getting caught on them wasn't worth it when there were plenty of other trails available.   We ended the morning by taking the beach trail down to the beach.

It was a little cooler down beside the water, and we ventured along the rocks and sand as far as we were able as the tide continued to creep in.  Fearing we may get stuck somewhere, we headed back towards our cars along the beach.  It was almost a toes in the sand kind of morning, but really, who wants to put wet sandy feet back in their car?  We may climb mountains, but we're not reckless!