Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Mocha Banana Split

So it's not much of a secret that our family is a Hamilfamily.  Both my kids can recognize a song from Hamilton before the lyrics kick in.  Thatkid informed a birthday party this weekend that "My Shot" is his favorite song.

So when we got word Hamilton was rolling in to San Diego, I did everything in my power to ensure I would get tickets.  Multiple tickets. 

The first showing I went to, I took Thatkid with me.  He couldn't have been more excited.

Taking a 6 year old to the theater meant I did not splurge on expensive seats.  We sat up in the balcony of the largest theater the cast had performed in.

Sitting in the balcony was also good, because Thatkid kept leaning over to ask me "Which one is he again?" or "Why is everyone laughing?"  After the show on the way home I asked if he had any questions.  His only question was why there were no white people alive in Hamilton's time.  

Later on that week, I returned to the theater with a date who wouldn't ask as many questions.

For this show, Thatboy and I had upgraded to orchestra seats.  And they were definitely worth it.  Look how close we were to the stage!

I can't recommend orchestra seats enough for this show.  The entire evening was like an out of body experience.  And because L&O knows all the right people, she found herself a couple rows in front of us in the orchestra too.  We met up during intermission.

It's been quiet here on the Hamilton front since January.  Until last month when I got an invitation to a Hamilton party!  We were going to sing through the whole album!  A couple of weeks ago we got a survey asking us what songs we wanted to sing, what songs we would be willing to sing, etc.  Last week, we got assigned our parts for the whole show, and I went in to heavy duty practice mode.  Thatboy made fun of me for practicing so much - telling me that we weren't actually performing a show for a paying audience.

One of the aspects of my anxiety disorder is that I get really anxious about parties.  Especially parties where I don't know everyone.  This party?  I knew the hosts and that was about it.  But from the moment I walked in, I just felt at home.  The cast recording was playing and everyone was just milling about, grabbing dinner and singing along.  These were my people.

The festivities started and everyone was all in.  Singing their parts, with the audience making up the Company.  There were some who went as far as bringing costumes and props.  Because theater nerds are the best kind of nerds.

I got to sing some of my favorite songs and stand in the shoes of Eliza, Hamilton, and Burr.  It was definitely as close as I will ever get to performing in Hamilton, and it was ridiculously fun.

The entire evening brought me back to the days of high school, where my theater friends would randomly break into song, and everyone would join them.  It's so much better with a group.

Desserts can be that way too.  Ice cream is fine.  Cake is fine.  Ice cream and cake is better.  Ice cream sundaes - with all the components coming together?  That's music to my ears.

Mocha Banana Split (From Cooking Light)
1 1/2 Tbsp whipping cream
1/2 tsp instant espresso
1 banana, peeled and cut in half crosswise
1/2 cup low fat coffee ice cream
1/2 cup low fat chocolate ice cream
4 tsp chocolate syrup
4 tsp chopped walnuts, toasted
4 tsp chocolate covered espresso beans, chopped
2 cherries
  1. Place whipping cream and instant espresso in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Whisk until soft peaks form.
  2. Cut each banana in half lengthwise.  Place 2 banana quarters in each of 2 bowls.  
  3. Top each with bowl with 1/4 cup coffee ice cream and 1/4 cup chocolate ice cream.
  4. Drizzle each serving  with 2 tsp chocolate syrup and top with half of of whipped cream mixture.
  5. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tsp walnuts, 2 tsp espresso beans and 1 cherry.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mommy Mondays: Tales from the Potty, part....3?

This is the post where I get to smugly gloat about what an incredible mom I am, so much better than the rest of you. 

Or not.

Actually, this is just a continuation of my "no potty training potty training" saga because friends, I did NOT think it was going to go this way.

I have mentioned time and time again that Thatbaby is the opposite of his brother.  Thatkid potty trained himself before 3, so obviously potty training Thatbaby was going to take...a lot of work.  But hey, I wasn't going to stress out, because I had YEARS to worry about this, right?

I mean, 3.5 is the average age, and boys potty train later than girls, as a vast generalization.

So when Thatbaby refused offers to sit on the toilet?  I didn't fret.

In January when he told his babysitter that he wanted to always wear diapers?  I didn't fret.

He's 2.  At 4?  That's when I'll pull out the big guns.

Then at the beginning of February, this child who hates rules and order, doesn't want to do anything that's expected of him, did the unexpected.  Like his brother before him, he woke up one morning and decided that he was done with diapers.

You guys, it pays to be lazy.   We are officially done with potty training and I didn't have to do anything! I highly recommend this method for anyone who can wait - who doesn't have the pressure of a preschool who requires your child to be potty trained.  Because these kids flip a switch overnight.  Eager to train, reluctant to train, eventually they all get there themselves.  And when friends and acquaintances complain about how hard potty training is, I can't commiserate.  Because for me, it's been easy.  And NOT because I'm an awesome mom, or because I do it better than anyone else.  Because although the early bird gets the worm, sometimes the later bird gets remnants of the unfinished pancake breakfast.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday Runday: San Diego Half Marathon

I'd been hearing about the San Diego Half Marathon for years now.  All my running friends rave about it.  It's one they do year after year.  L&O decided last year it was going to be her "comeback" race post child #2, and we signed up super de dooper early.  Maybe too early.  L&O postponed her comeback race, and, while I'm a little bummed that we didn't run it for the first time together, I'm excited to run it again with her - or any other comeback race she picks.

Instead, I met up with some of my other runner friends at the start of the race.

Even though I knew other people running, I decided to go it alone.  I could work on getting back to my pre-pregnancy race pace.  Plus it felt right to run solo, with my imaginary L&O beside me. 

I actually really impressed myself with my speed for the first 9 miles.  I always forget how much faster I am when I'm not running the hills around my house.  And the first 9 miles of the San Diego Half were predominately flat or downhill. 

Mile 9 has A HILL.  All caps.  Because "hill" doesn't even begin to give a fair description of this puppy.  Y'all, San Diego races - anywhere they are in the county - have got some gnarly hills.  I've run in other places, and their races do NOT have hills that compare.

I knew SDMom was going to be at the top of the hill, so I used that to motivate myself forward.  And there she was.

I never really recovered my oomph after that and struggled those last few miles.  But eventually we were back downtown and I knew we were just a few blocks from the finish line.  And one of my favorite songs hit my playlist and I was sailing in to the end.

One of the highlights of the race was the finish inside Petco Park.  And I knew exactly what was coming as we rounded the corner.  Here, let me take you with me.

Into the park and right to the finish.  As you enter you're up on the Jumbotron with the score board showing your name.

So my overall thoughts on the race?  I can see why people like it.  In terms of San Diego courses, even with that monster of a hill, it's still a less hilly half marathon than most.  It gets a lot of raves about scenery, but much of the course is similar to AFC, which I preferred.  I also found it to have less crowd support than The Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  So while I'm excited to run this race with L&O, it'll be more for the always amazing company more than the fact it's a race that I want to run again and again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse

My family history is decidedly localized to the Eastern part of Europe.  So I completely blame my St. Patrick's celebrating on Thatboy and his potentially Irish heritage.  According to his family, they are 100% Irish.  But family history stories, including where in Ireland they were from, and prominent members who were decidedly un-Irish, calls this percentage into question.  We'll go with the fact that he probably has some Irish in his bloodline and use that as an excuse.

He started by coming home Friday night with St. Patrick's Day doughnuts from his favorite doughnut shop.

I started Saturday morning out with a race.  Which meant I wouldn't be there when the boys got up (hahahaha - shame on me.  Of course they were up before I left) so Friday night I prepped their breakfast for Thatboy to give to them.  Green Lucky Charms pancakes topped with whipped cream and Lucky Charms.  They were in heaven.  Or so I heard.

When I got back from the race we headed to Garage Brewing Company, who was having special releases in honor of the holiday. 

The kids are always happy going to Garage Brewing Co, because who doesn't love make your own pizza?  Thatboy and I are always happy because who doesn't love good beer?

My un-Irish heritage isn't the only reason I didn't grow up celebrating St. Patrick's Day.  It's also Thatmom's birthday.  So we usually celebrated that instead.  This year was no different.  After lunch we drove up to her house for a little family birthday party

Since we didn't get our traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner that night, we took a rain check, and I prepared it on Monday night instead.  Which made the holiday seem to last even longer!  I always make corned beef and colcannon, but this year I decided to try my hand on Irish soda bread too.

It came out really well.  As did dinner itself.  We found a new, perfect, family movie for St. Patrick's Day - Luck of the Irish.  And we watched that while we ate.

A more classic dessert recipe would be something with Baileys or Guinness, but there's something about hazelnut seems like it should be a St. Patrick's Day treat.  Frangelico makes this chocolate hazelnut mousse the perfect way to round out the meal.  

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse (From Cooking Light)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup Frangelico
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups fat-free cool whip
2 Tbsp chopped hazelnuts, toasted

  1. Combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, salt, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
  2. Heat milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles form around the edge. 
  3. Gradually add hot milk to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk.  
  4. Place milk mixture in pan and cook over medium heat until very thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. 
  5. Spoon mixture into medium bowl and add liqueur, vanilla, and chocolate, stirring , until chocolate melt.  Place bowl in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until mixture is cool, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove bowl from ice.  Gently fold in 2/3 cup cool whip.  
  7. Fold in 1/3 cup cool whip.  Cover and chill at least 3 hours.  
  8. Top with cool whip and hazelnuts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Crave Wednesday: Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

As you may or may not know, it's been awfully rainy here the past few weeks.  Which always seems to surprise everyone but me.  You guys, it rains in Southern California.  It rains all winter.  It rains so much that every year the first few games and practice of baseball season are always cancelled.  You think they'd figure it out, but nope.  Just me.

So in fitting with the theme of the last few weeks here on the blog-o, when Thatkid's baseball game got called for rain a couple weekends ago, we threw our things in the car and headed out on an impromptu weekend getaway to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Because we weren't getting there until afternoon, we decided to spend the first day (or half day) at California Adventure.

As I expected, the rain kept crowds at bay.  That and the later hour had us waltz right through security, onto a tram, and into the park.  We arrived just in time to grab some lunch and take advantage of the Food and Wine Festival.

Thatboy and I each grabbed a flight of beers - hoppy for him, fruity for me, and pork bahn mi.

The boys were happy with their garlic macaroni and cheese.  Very happy.  This is where I confess that they ate macaroni and cheese more often than they didn't this weekend, and Thatkid declared this was the best.

And then it was time to ride the rides!  We rode several together before splitting up so that Thatkid and Thatboy could ride the bigger rides that Thatbaby was too short and too uninterested in.  Instead I brought him over to Ghiradelli and Boudin for chocolate and bread, while I enjoyed one more treat from the Festival - popcorn lemonade.

The big boys headed over to ride the one ride Thatkid was REALLY interested in - Guardians of the Galaxy.  Thatboy was only too happy to join him.

And they had a little celebrity sighting while waiting in line!

Thatkid thought the ride was scary, but still declared it his favorite of the whole weekend.

Meanwhile. Thatbaby and I did a little celebrity stalking of our own.  He REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to see Mickey, so I brought him over to where he was most likely to be.  He wasn't there, but we did get a chance to see Goofy.

And Minnie!

Minnie's friend told us that Mickey was expected to be arriving within the next 15 minutes (Disney Cast Members are so awesome), so we hung out for a little until we finally got to see the Mouse Himself.

After that, Thatbaby and I went to do our own rides.  Hollywood Studios was up first, and then Bug's Life - where every ride was just his speed.

And of course, Radiator Springs - Carsland!

The Mater ride was his FAVORITE and he couldn't wait to meet back up with the big boys to share it with them.  We traded ride partners for the last ride of the night before dinner and heading back to Thatmom's house for the night.

The next morning we headed over to Disneyland, and with nicer weather and an earlier start, it took a lot longer to get into the park!  It still was a pretty quiet weekend and we were able to jump right on to Haunted Mansion.  Which Thatbaby DID NOT appreciate.  Poor kid.  We headed up to Critter Country for a little Pooh, which was more his speed.  He got a chance to meet Tigger.

And "Seahorse" (which, to be fair, is a more recognizable word to him than Eeyore is) who he said was his favorite character he met.

And "Minnie the Poop" (which, to be fair, he only says to make us laugh)

Next came Pirates of the Carribean, which also failed the Thatbaby test, and we could tell the early morning was getting to him.  We went and grabbed lunch, then I tucked him into his stroller and he was out by the time I crossed the park.

Once again, the big boys went and rode their "big kid" rides.  Last time we went to Disney, Thatkid absolutely, positively, refused to ride Space Mountain.  This time, he was all about it.  And while he is tall enough to ride, he is not tall enough to be caught on camera in the back row. 

We met them over at the Matterhorn where Thatbaby woke up and then we got to ride Buzz Lightyear together before heading over to Toon Town.  Which is always a nice break for the kids to have a little freedom running around.  Thatbaby and I headed over to Small World while Thatboy tried to round up Thatkid, when I got a call that they were in line to see Pluto and we should hurry over.  Carrying Thatbaby, I sprinted over and got there just in time.

After Small World we did one more split up so the big boys could do Indiana Jones, before dinner and heading out of the park.  But not without one more stop to say goodbye to the Mouse behind it all.

It was a quick weekend with a lot crammed in.  Which is pretty much our style.  It was such a whirlwind, that when Thatmom mentioned the date, Thatboy and I realized it was our dating anniversary.  18 years together!  We did a bare bones celebration by doing our Disneyland dinner at the Blue Bayou, where he has always wanted to eat.

Once your're married, dating anniversaries aren't as big of a deal, but it still seems totally crazy that we've been together so long.  And 18 years?  Holy moly!  Sometimes I feel like I'm still a kid, but our relationship is old enough to have a kid of its own!  And that deserves something more than an amusement park with kids.  Something like...cake.  Because cake is what you eat to celebrate.  A great chocolatey cake that represents the sweetness of those years.  A buttermilk chocolate cake, because it takes a little bit of sour to really appreciate the sweet.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake (From Cooking Light)
2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp skim milk
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate melted
3 cups powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Coat the bottom of 2 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line with wax paper. Spray wax paper with cooking spray.  Combine flour, 3/4 cup  cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended.
  2.  Combine buttermilk and 2 tsp vanilla in a 2 cup glass measuring cup.
  3. Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.
  4. Gradually add egg substitute and beat well.
  5. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  6. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 38 minutes or until cooked through. Invert on wire rack and cool completely.
  7. Place cream cheese and milk in an electric mixer and beat at low speed until smooth. Beat at high speed until creamy.
  8. Add melted chocolate and beat well.
  9. Combine powdered sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa.
  10. Gradually add sugar mixture to cheese mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
  11. Add 1 tsp vanilla, beat well 1 minute or until very creamy.
  12. Remove wax paper from cake.  Place 1 cake layer on a plate and spread with 1/2 cup frosting.  
  13. Top with second cake layer and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.