when i was younger, i was a terrible nail biter. i can remember making the same resolution year after year to stop biting my nails. it took a few years, but eventually i met my goal. these past couple of years i haven't really made any resolutions. i guess i figured i didn't need a certain day dictating my goals and if i really wanted to change or do something, i'd just do it. while this is still essentially the truth, i decided that it doesn't hurt to make new year's resolutions. there's nothing wrong with saying your goals aloud, or putting them out there for other people to see (and possibly help hold you accountable for). perhaps just the very act of making the list is enough to help manifest the change, even if it takes a few tries.
so here is my list for 2011...
1. more handmade - make and buy more things that have that special touch 2. quality over quantity - this is with regard to my hobbies; i tend to start multiple craft projects, books, scrabble games, etc. and therefore never give myself a chance to get really good at any of them. i just need a little more focus. 3. write more - journals, blogs, thank you notes and letters 4. money matters - i'm not bad with money. i have savings and investments and my debt to income ratio is pretty darn good, but i could always be better. this year i'd like to really boost the good habits and maybe cut back on a bit of the excess expenditures. 5. be more supportive - i'd like to think i'm a good cheerleader for my family and friends but sometimes i wonder if there isn't more that i could be doing to let the people i love know that i'm here for them. maybe it's being a better listener, or spending more time together. whatever it is, if i can do it i'd like to.
i think that's a pretty good list. i didn't pick things like "lose 20 lbs" or "learn a new language" because those are daunting tasks that a lot of people list because they think they should, and then don't really make an effort to achieve anyhow. nothing i listed is that difficult but they will all go towards making me a happier person who can in turn make the people i care about happier. sounds like a win to me!
ok, i didn't actually make dessert for dinner but i really wanted to share this ridiculously easy and delicious dessert. it kind of overshadowed dinner anyhow. it's the most dangerous chocolate cake in the world and by the end of the recipe you'll understand why. like everything else i make, this is very easy to tweak. i use dark chocolate cocoa. and this particular night i didn't have any regular milk so i substituted 2 tablespoons of soy milk and 1 tablespoon of eggnog. i also didn't use the chocolate chips.
5 MINUTE CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug
add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. add the egg and mix thoroughly. pour in the milk and oil and mix well. add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high. the cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (technically, this serves two).
i love serving this with vanilla bean ice cream. i can't believe how quick and delicious it is...
so now do you understand why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!
well, someone went and shaved off his beard! while i thought the beard was kind of cool, i must admit i missed his face and i'm so very glad it's back. a certain little miss may be wondering what to grab now that the beard has disappeared but i'm sure she'll figure something out. ;)
anyhow, i know it's not haiku friday yet but i thought an ode to the beard was apropos...
baby's first christmas! mom and dad broke out the makeshift couch studio to capture saraya's cute little smile for this year's card. as you can see by some of these test shots, it was a little bit of work, but pretty funny!
hey! what's going on here!?
oh mom, pictures again?
well at least make sure you get my good side...
next year's goal, the dogs AND the baby! merry christmas!
"A look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo."
i saw the trailer for this movie at the beginning of this year and thought it looked interesting. i'm sure my being pregnant had a little something to do with my higher interest level. regardless, justin and i watched this recently through our netflix and really enjoyed it. it was fascinating to witness all of the similarities between the babies despite the obvious cultural differences. and it was fun to see the other babies doing things we notice Saraya doing now as well as possible future behaviors.
even if you don't have babies or kids of your own i think this is still entertaining. it makes you smile and laugh aloud at some of the universal antics. and it made me want to see more comparisons to other babies in the world. my only complaint was that there was no narrative or text to let you know what age they were at certain spots. we were guessing but it would have been nice to know for sure. other than that, it was a fun little documentary. you can check out the trailer here.
well, it has been raining here in san diego for DAYS. a little rain is a nice change of pace around here but this is getting ridiculous. this place just isn't meant to receive that much water at once. the roads are flooding, people's skylights are leaking, and these dogs get dry just in time to get soaked again on their next walk. the baby is getting a little stir crazy but it's just a little too heavy to go out and play in. we are really looking forward to a reprieve!
in the meantime, this kind of weather just screams for soups... hearty, steaming bowls of soup. i love potato, french onion, mushroom, and black bean soups. lately i've enjoyed a nice pho, and a delicious, homemade tortilla soup. if you've never had pho before, it's a vietnamese rice noodle soup usually served with beef or chicken. you add your own sprouts, basil, jalepeños, and lime to taste. i usually add a little sriracha or plum sauce too. yum, yum. when i lived in hawaii, i had two roommates that would eat pho at least twice a week, every week. i prefer to eat it when it's cooler/wetter out...
as for the tortilla soup, this is another recipe from my college sponsor family. it's fast, easy, open to interpretation and it warms the spirit...
for the original recipe you need:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium zucchinis, sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (16oz) stewed tomato
1 can (12oz) whole kernel corn
1 can (15oz) tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheese
saute onion and garlic in oil
add zucchini and next 6 ingredients
bring to boil; cover
simmer 15-20 min
ladle into bowls - add chips and cheese
using this as a basic starter recipe, i have added more and different ingredients over time. you can add fresh avocado or sour cream on top. substitute or add other ingredients like carrots, chicken, or potatoes. the possibilities are endless!
Once upon a time, long ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year... the day on which the Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner in the ceiling to avoid the housewife's busy cleaning. They finally fled to the farthest corner of the attic.
T'was the Christmas Eve at last! The tree was decorated and waiting for the children to see it. But the poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the Christ child's visit. But the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could peep through the crack in the door to see him. Silently they crept out of their attic, down the stairs, and across the floor to wait in the crack in the threshold. Suddenly, the door opened a wee bit and quickly the spiders scurried into the room. They must see the tree closely since their eyes weren't accustomed to the brightness of the room... so they crept all over the tree, up and down, over every branch and twig and saw every one of the pretty things. At last they satisfied themselves completely of the Christmas tree's beauty.
But alas!! Everywhere they went they had left their webs, and when the little Christ child came to bless the house he was dismayed. He loved the little spiders, for they were God's creatures too, but he knew the mother, who had trimmed the tree for the little children, wouldn't feel the same, so He touched the webs and they all turned to sparkling, shimmering, silver and gold!
Ever since that time, we have hung tinsel on our Christmas trees, and according to the legend, it has been a custom to include a spider among the decorations on the tree.
oh etsy, you've done it again! if you haven't checked out one of their newest features, you should really test drive their taste test. basically, you're given different choices and as you pick the things you prefer, etsy tailor-makes a whole page of listings that match your tastes. here was my first go and i must say, minus the creepy baby hands and feet soaps, they were pretty accurate at picking things that interest me. it was so fun, i did it again! and i found OB's doppleganger. crazy!!
when i was a cadet, i usually relaxed at my sponsor family's house once a week. pam made some absolutely delicious meals and when i graduated, she and the kids put together a cookbook of some of our favorite recipes. i still have the book (complete with cute drawings and jokes) and this particular recipe has probably gotten the most use. i'll give you the original recipe but let you know how i've tweaked it over the years.
one of the things i love about this is how fast AND easy it is. all the main ingredients are pre-cooked so it's very quick. i'm not endorsing any specific brand. i almost always use boboli because it's easiest to find. i use a different salsa pretty much every time. i'm also not particular on the brand of black beans or cheese (i like anyone who makes a mexican blend). so minus onion and garlic, here are the ingredients i used...
chop some garlic and onion and sautee in a little olive oil, like so...
add the chicken then beans (i usually cut the chicken up a little more and drain the beans).
next, add some salsa. this time i chose a jalapeño and tomatillo salsa (which is why it looks yellowy-green in the pic). the real recipe has a measurement but i never measure. i kind of eyeball it. the salsa takes the place of tomato sauce on a traditional pizza so it's really about how much you want.
now, the key ingredient to this whole recipe is the cumin. i never stocked my spices with cumin until i found out it was in this dish. i love cumin. it now makes an appearance in many of my dishes and even in the baby's food. ok, enough cumin love for now. stir it all together and heat on low until the oven is done preheating. oops, i may have forgotten to mention that the oven should be preheating to whatever temperature the pizza crust instructions call for. in this case, boboli says 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes. so i drizzle a little olive oil on the crust and then load the toppings on. again, i don't measure the cheese. put on as much or as little as you like. i actually made a cheeseless version for my lactose-intolerant friend and it was still quite delicious.
some people like to add slices of pepper or other fun ingredients. i just stick it in the oven like so. about 9 minutes later, it's ready. and you can fill that wait time by washing the one pot and cutting board you used! just look at all that melty, cheesy goodness...
check out the original recipe below. i added chicken because i wanted to. it's also fun to use the mini pizza crusts and make a few different topping versions. enjoy!
1 medium onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 Tbl olive oil
3/4 cup pace picante sauce
16 oz black beans - can
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp basil
large red and green pepper in rings
1.5 cup monterey jack cheese
grated parmesan cheese
saute onions and garlic in oil until tender. stir in picante sauce, basil, cumin, and beans. simmer 2 min. spread on crust. overlap pepper on top of bean sauce. sprinkle with cheese. bake according to pizza crust recipe.
if anyone tries their own version of this, let me know what you did and how it turns out!
i love christmas lights! but like fireworks, it can be pretty difficult to capture them in a photograph. i still have a lot of figuring out my camera to do when it comes to anything besides taking still pictures in perfect outdoor daylight. one thing i'd like to work on is night photos. i'm tired of seeing ultra blurry pics (except when they are artsy and intentional) and wondering what the heck i'm doing wrong. after consulting my trusty manual and a few internet experts, i am ready to start improving my "technique."
last week i had the opportunity to practice when my co-worker Bob invited us to walk around starlight circle. his kids are all grown up now but when they were young, he would take them around multiple times a season to check it out. this neighborhood is known for their great christmas light displays. in addition to your standard lights and santas, these houses go all out to include tons of other characters displaying the christmas spirit. we saw the mario brothers, winnie the pooh & gang, the star wars crew, and tons more. also, many of the residents get a little help with the electric bill by selling goodies in their driveways to all the visitors. there was lumpia, kettle corn, cider and cocoa. i enjoyed my hot buttered rum and managed to get a couple of decent pictures. i've still got a ways to go but these are already an improvement. and it helps me get ready for the main event. this year we are taking Saraya to the botanical garden for their light display. i hope i can get some good shots!
5K #4 down! i'm a third of the way to my goal! this time Saraya and i did the jingle bell walk for arthritis down in balboa park. it was a beautiful morning and a little chilly but it warmed up nicely. this was a dog friendly course and it was cool seeing everything from chihuahuas to great danes dressed up in bells, hats, and tutus. there were some pretty creative costumes on the people too. one lady dressed up santa and literally had 8 teenage girls dress as reindeer attached to her. Saraya joined in the fun with her i ♥ santa shirt and polka dot pants while i tied bells to my shoes. and afterwards, we celebrated with a little hash house a go go. ok, so there's nothing little about the hash house. whatever, it was a celebration.
i've actually done this twice! and i didn't pay for first class on either occasion!
the first time was when i was a cadet. i had gone home for the holiday break and was on my way back to colorado. at the time, freshmen were required to fly in service dress uniform. i happened to arrive at the airport a little late (not my fault!) and missed my flight. i was on the verge of tears because i didn't want to return late and suffer the wrath of the (at the time) quite intimidating upperclassmen. i think it was a combination of me being a young girl, in uniform, with a tiny tear in her eye and no crazy/stringent security issues (it was long before 2001) that made the very kind flight agent take pity on me. she did a little searching and found another flight arriving to my connecting city at about the same time andshe put me in first class!
it was lovely. i enjoyed a delicious breakfast of croissants with yogurt and fresh fruit. And the bonus was watching Babe - Pig in the City. i hadn't seen it yet and it was actually on my list. and i may be short but it's still nice to be able to really stretch out without bumping your neighbor.
the second time i experienced the luxury was on a flight back to hawaii last christmas. we flew from san diego to phoenix and we were supposed to catch a flight from phoenix to san fran before heading across the ocean. there was a little confusion in arizona (this time i may have been a little at fault), and we ended up missing our connection to san fran. the flight agent was sooo nice. it was the holiday season and flights were packed but she managed to get us on a flight to LA right away. after that she said it would be a little trickier. see, phoenix to LA was easy but LA to honolulu we'd be standby. did i mention it was christmas? but then she pulled a few strings and made it look like the airline was at fault for our missed flight so we were bumped up the standby list.
still, it was a nail-biting hour long wait as we watched the monitor for our names. we were 7 and 8 of 55 standby passengers and the list was barely moving. then, we get called up to desk and a very friendly agent in an elf hat wishes us a merry christmas as he hands us boarding passes. i look down and MELE KALIKIMAKA! they are for seats 1 and 2! of all of the flights to catch that break on, you couldn't ask for much better than a 5+ hour one...
this time was even better than before. he enjoyed our complimentary alcohol (i was pregnant and couldn't partake) and we ate our "gourmet" meal like civilized people with real silverware. we refreshed ourselves with the hot towel service and after stretching out in our seats and playing a few rounds of cribbage, we were served milk and melty warm chocolate chip cookies! it was amazing. it really made me not want to fly in coach again. *sigh*
maybe one day i'll be able to afford the splurge and actually pay for first-class seats! anyone else have any good first-class flying stories?
for our 3rd 5K we participated in the 5th annual Ocenaside Turkey Trot. i loved their theme "move your feet before you eat." thousands of people "bundled up" on thanksgiving morning to get a little exercise and raise some money for oceanside schools and charities. it was chilly in the low 40's at the beginning of our day but by the end it was respectable temperature. before the start, an announcer was nice enough to make us feel like pansies for remarking on the cold by listing other turkey trots around the country that were experiencing snow, sleet, and rain. what can i say? i choose to live in socal for a reason...
1/4 of the way done with my goal! next up, a jingle bell 5K!
there are only 17 shopping days until christmas! if you want a subtle way to let people know what kinds of gifts they can get you, check out amazon.com's wishlist. you don't only have to use amazon to add items to your list. you can add things from any store online. and each week you add an item from outside of amazon.com, you can enter to win $100,000! just an idea...
three new ones today! a tribute to the newest disney movie - tangled, panda power and under the sea, for your viewing pleasure. still waiting to see some of yours! add your own treasury links in the comments...
splitting up up my maternity leave to spend part of it on this trip was the best decision! it was an amazing opportunity for us to bond with Saraya while travelling. we are hoping to instill our love of travel in her and i think this was a great start!
after her 6 month checkup, Saraya weighs in at 20 pounds, 11 ounces and "stands" 28 inches! so she is still in the 99th and 98th percentiles for weight and height. and her head is finally trying to catch up at the 86th percentile. she's a monster! beware small cities and squeaky giraffes!
sometimes, when i'm really missing hawaii, i'll make this meal and it cheers me up. it's obviously not the same as roasting a whole pig wrapped in ti leaves in the imu, but it's still pretty tasty!
kahlua pig and cabbage
despite the name, there is no kahlua in this recipe. to make the pig, all you need is a crock pot, pork shoulder (or butt - they're the same thing), sea salt, and liquid smoke.
this makes ~16 servings... 5lb pork shoulder, 1 Tbsp of sea salt, and 1 Tbsp of liquid smoke. pierce the pork all over with a fork. place it in the pot. rub the sea salt into the meat. pour the liquid smoke in.
turn the heat on low. cover and cook for 12-13 hours.
the smell will cause anyone who enters your house to salivate instantly. it also causes the dogs to sniff and drool all day. well, more than usual anyhow.
now, for the cabbage (sorry no prep pics) you just chop it up and stir fry it in a little sesame oil with light salt and garlic. 1 head of cabbage feeds ~8.
cook some rice and serve with delicious king's hawaiian rolls. ono kine grindz!