Wednesday, March 31, 2010

San Diego Zoo

This past weekend we went to the world famous San Diego Zoo! We met up with my sister and her husband to celebrate my sister's birthday. To say the least, it was amazing!

(Komodo Dragon- look at that venomous saliva dripping from his mouth- eeek!)

I never understood why it was considered world famous until I tried visiting other zoos. I was kinda shocked at how small they were. Then it dawned on me that the zoo I was visiting was actually really nice. I was just used to the "extreme" San Diego Zoo. When the "extreme" is the norm, you know you are a spoiled San Diegan. After realizing this, I was very grateful that I was able to go with my family to the Zoo.

(Giraffes here are very easy to see- and you can feed them around noon for about $3.00)

There is such a large diversity of animals at the San Diego Zoo. It really is a GIGANTIC zoo! And fair warning- there are lots of steep hills. Be prepared to meet your entire weeks quota of exercise in one day! Totally serious: I could barely move the next day- my legs and arms were so sore! Since I realize not all of us can go to the San Diego Zoo I'll be posting pictures today and tomorrow....tomorrow I'll blab about the Wild Animal Park.....which I did yesterday.... I'm not trying to torture myself I swear. Our passes are about to expire- so I had to go one last time.

(There are beautiful plants here, forget going to a garden. The zoo practically is one. Notice the humming bird!)

They just added the Polar Bear Plunge ( and the Elephant Odyssey ( which are unlike any zoo exhibits I've ever seen. Amazing!

(Rhino's have a big and open exhibit with lots of toys. And if you plan in advance you can sign up to interact with them!)

(Hyena- reminds me of the Lion King- although this one looks sleepy)

(Some type of Kangaroo)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Brainstorming

Now that the Bakery orders are done, I can focus all creative vibes on Easter. I'm seriously thinking about doing some crafting..... hmmm....ok, thought about it. Not doing any - LOL! I think I'll limit all self-inflicted craziness to the cooking. I only have one week! Actually, 6 days to be exact. And I'm planning to do some CRAZY cooking! I was looking through my "Cooking Lite Magazine" and found an amazing Easter spread. I'm definitely doing some of the dishes. Check it out:

Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Herbs:


These sound really yummy but to help cut some of the cost I might leave out the salmon. It still sounds good to me with all the fresh herbs.

Carrot Soup with yogurt:

I'm not sure how this will turn out. I don't usually make soups like this one at home. But I figure since it can be made a day ahead- if it doesn't turn out that good I can toss it.

Asparagus and Spring Greens Salad with Gorgonzola Vinaigrette:


Is it just me or is it kinda scary to make a gorgonzola vinegrette at home!? But I like the idea and it sounds divine. Truth be told, it actually looks easy. Now I just hope I can find white asparagus.... maybe it's always been in the stores- I've just never looked for it.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Baby Artichokes (I can't wait to eat this!):


YEA....I might have to make about 5 of these - because I think I could eat that entire picture. So yummy!!!

No-Knead Overnight Parmesan and Thyme Rolls:


These rolls remind me of the Pillsbury bread sticks rolled up. I'm wondering if I could make a parmesean and herb mix and just roll it into the Pillsbury bread sticks. I'm thinking that might be easier.

And to finish off this feast, I've ordered a honey baked ham. Only a quarter though since I think 3 people will be eating it. For those of you who know me well, I will not be eating the ham. I'm a vegetarian. I'm what's considered a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. I still eat eggs and dairy. But to be honest, I'm slowly starting to incorporate more soy and less dairy. But no ham for me. I believe being a vegetarian is like a religion. You can't force people into it. People have to choose it. So in my house I offer both vegetarian dishes and meat dishes. I hope my kids become vegetarians, purely for health reasons but I think they need to grow up with a turkey on the table at Thanksgiving. I'm sure I've just started an issue with many vegetarians, sorry. Just trying to be the best mom I can be. And that means giving my kids an option.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cake done.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where have you been all my life?

I'm not sure why I've avoided Satin Ice fondant for so long but I have now discovered it. It is amazing! It is easier to mold than other fondants. I used to use Fondx.... which does taste better than Satin Ice. But when applying large sheets on top of cakes Fondx cracks easier. This discovery came just in time for an order due Sat. I can show a few pics but I can't show the really awesome stuff yet. I want it to be a complete surprise. The elephant still has powdered sugar all over him.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick weeknight meal

One thing I love about spring is all the fresh vegetables. This past weekend we went to a produce market. It's was this small market with locally grown produce. I loved being able to buy the veggies and know that they came from a mile away. Some were even picked that morning! Doesn't get much fresher than that! I got lots of super fresh veggies and my pocketbook got lots of great deals - everyone was happy!

I picked up some mushrooms, garlic, asparagus and basil at the market on Sunday. It's now Wed. and I knew I needed to start using some of the vegies because I knew they weren't going to last forever. So I threw together a delicious meal using these ingredients. The only things I added were orzo pasta (although any pasta would work), olive oil (I always have that on hand), I added a can of diced tomatoes (although fresh ones would have been great) and I also added a couple parmesean shavings at the end (I had it on hand too).

What I did:
I put E.V.O.O (extra virgin olive oil) in a pan on med-high heat, added sliced mushrooms, then added minced garlic. I wanted the mushrooms to absorb all that garlicy flavor :) Toss around in the pan and cook them for maybe 5-7 minutes or till they start to get light golden brown. Don't burn your garlic! If they aren't golden brown it's ok- turn the heat down because it's important not to overcook your garlic. I added a can of diced tomatoes and cooked for a couple minutes more then added chopped basil. Let simmer for a minute or so and done. Spoon over cooked orzo and serve. I added some parmesean shavings ontop of mine....because I love cheese :) But it's optional- do what you want. I steamed my asparagus on the side and it went really well with the pasta. Some diced up chicken would go really well too. Or some fish! It's so versatile and took maybe 15-20 minutes. Love it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My own frog prince?

This is not a real frog. Nope. He's clay. If he were a real frog I would not be stooping down to take a picture. Because the second I brought my face down close to the frog- he'd jump which would scare the bejeezes out of me. I don't like jumpy things. But I do like my little clay frog. I nestled him next to the strawberry bush. And I can honestly say that he makes me happy. Seeing a cute little frogy next to my strawberries just makes me smile. I have no idea why. I guess it really is all about the little stuff these days :) Another reason I love this frog, besides the fact that it is not real, is that my kids like to come outside and look at it too. So funny that they like the statue too!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting Crafty

I love creating. But when my kids came along all crafting came to an abrupt halt. Maybe it's because now when I try to do anything the kids seem to be all over it- literally. If I turn my head for a second and next thing I know there will be glue in my daughters hair. Then not only do I have to finish my craft but I have to go wash my daughters hair immediately. Kinda puts a damper on the creative vibes.

With all this sunshine bouncing around I decided to go for it and craft! I started with something super simple.

Yet... the kids still tried to "participate". Hence, the dog toy on the table. I think the next time I attempt this it will be at night.... after the kids go to bed. Which I will be doing soon! I'm planning a big Easter dinner and I need to start planning my table decorations :)

For inspiration I always turn to Martha. I might not do all the crafts or recipes that she suggests but she always has so many ideas. It always gets my creative vibes flowing. I think these are really cute. But should I really give out thank you baskets? Seems a little overkill for family. Maybe I can turn these into place cards...hmmm...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Weekend!

Calla Lily from my garden- they pop up in the spring and I think they're beautiful. It also seemed fitting for the first day of Spring.

I'm so happy that this weekend is here. It's been a busy week! I'm really looking forward to this weekend for many reasons.... Here's a small list:
1) Hubby time
2) St. Patrick's dinner at my friend's house tonight
3) My sister is visiting tomorrow!
4) We're going to the World Famous San Diego Zoo to see the baby panda (we're so spoiled)
5) I'll have groceries in the house come Monday
6) We might figure out what to do with the rest of our yard

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Regardless of wether you are planning on being super productive or planning on being lazy and having lots of P.J. time. I vote for lots of P.J. time :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Princess and The Frog

This week Disney's "Princess and The Frog" was released on DVD. This was the first movie we took our own little princess to see in the theaters. But it was big princess (me) who fell in love with the movie. In all fairness, the kids did love it.

This movie is amazing! It's about how hard work and ethics create success. And about the balance of work and fun. The animation looks like it was done by hand and not by a computer. Which I honestly think adds some of the magic to the movie.

I'm such a sucker for Disney movies. I know they have evil villains but.... isn't that life? I'm not going to shelter my kids from that. Besides, I always loved when The Beast defeated Gaston from "Beauty and the Beast". So today will be a movie day..... I might even stay in my jamies most of the day if I'm lucky. Added bonus of having bought the blue ray DVD: (that is currently on sale at Best Buy) it comes with a book! Yay books! To order your own :

After the movie - visit these sights to continue the magic!

To make your own Princess tiara:

To make your own paper playset:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Eat lots of corned beef and cabbage! And everyone watch out for those sneaky leprechauns!! Hope everyone has a fun and safe St. Patty's Day!

Sun, Dirt, Sweat and Happiness

I'm so happy that it's spring in southern California. Usually my favorite seasons are fall and winter but this year I am ready for summer! Although now that I think about it I'm not ready for the ants and all the bugs that come with the warmer weather. But the thought of being stuck inside on another cold day is not pleasant either. I'm probably feeling this way because of the endorphins released from the sunshine. Regardless, it's nice. And it gave me the energy to plant today.



Ok, the truth is that the dead weed picture is a current picture of my "grass". I know, not really grass anymore. But soon we'll be laying fresh sod. The after picture is my "planter" right next to the stone patio and next to the "grass" area. I realized I hadn't taken a picture of the planter before. Trust me, it wasn't any better than my "grass" area. Definitely a HUGE improvement from what it was. I'm hoping the 'birds of paradise' can survive the heat of my backyard. No joke- it gets to be 105 in the summer. It's hot! Fingers crossed they live.....we shall see!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Easter Decorations

I'm not that into decorating for Easter. I usually leave it up to the Earth. I figure all the sunny days and beautiful flowers sprouting up are enough to welcome in spring. But I found some really cute decorations that I couldn't pass up. The first was an egg tower (?). I'm calling it that for lack of a better name. I love how I have a lot of colorful eggs stacked on my kitchen table (and I didn't have to boil and dye them!)

The second is this set of a Momma and a Pappa bunny. It was so cute with the lil baby bunnies popping out of the basket. I typically stay away from large decorations.....but I went for it with these two. They are almost 2 feet tall each! Kinda crazy - but really cute.

Now that I have some decorations out I'm hoping that the spring cleaning bug will bite me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mad Housewife- Cabernet Sauvignon

This very well might be one of the funniest wines I've seen. A friend of mine brought this over and I laughed so hard. I think I need to go buy a couple bottles just to hand out.

"Somewhere near the cool shadows of the laundry room. Past the litter box and between the plastic yard toys. This is your time. Time to enjoy a moment by yourself. A moment without the madness. The dishes can wait. Dinner be damned. Mad Housewife Cabernet Sauvignon."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A vacation in my own City

Why is it that I have lived in the San Diego area for years and I'm still discovering amazing, new, beautiful places? I honestly cannot figure it out.

I'm so glad that I took my friends up on an offer to go to the Oceanside Harbor. I was a little bit leery at first.... usually when I think of Oceanside I think of the pier area- and that area is a little rundown. I'm not sure if I'd feel totally comfortable walking over there by myself with two kids. But the harbor area is totally different. It was gorgeous!
Here are some of the great parts :
It has 2 great kid parks right on the beach (with swings - definite plus!)
It has a marina where you can look at all the different boats (so relaxing)
It also has this adorable little boardwalk area where there are a bunch of little mom and pop shops (and lots of little trinkets- so fun)
And they have amazing fish and chips! Great taste and HUGE servings!

I saw these posts in the sand by the playground and thought they were interesting. I'm honestly not sure what they were at one time. I'm thinking it was maybe a pier? But the water seems a bit low for that. I don't know. I'm sure I could Google it if I was curious enough. But I think it adds some character and makes a great picture :)

My girlfriends and I sat right next to the water and ate some great food! Yea, we had the kids, but it was so beautiful that we honestly felt like we were on vacation. I need to take more trips like that. And I have a feeling that if the weather stays nice I'll be able to do more "at home" exploring.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mom's Night In

I am very lucky that I live in a neighborhood with lots of moms. We've all become friends in the past few years. It's always good to have other women to whine to when life gets tough. Which is why periodically we have a mom's night in. Tonight it's at my house. I sent out e-vites last week to "Mom's Whine Night" (did you get the pun?). Basically it's a night where we all get together and vent and laugh. We have way too much wine (but it's ok- because we can all stumble home since we all live in the same neighborhood). And we end up eating way too many goodies. I'm making my homemade roasted balsamic mushroom risotto --it's becoming famous within my group of friends. And I just finished making chocolate cupcakes with a whipped chocolate/espresso buttercream. Yum... I also grabbed 4 bottles of wine to start with- my girlfriend is bringing 3 more (Denise- I'm so glad we planned this!) I cleaned like a maniac all day even though I got the official "ok" to leave the house a mess from at least 3 moms. Not sure why I feel the need to clean constantly. Hmmm... wonder if I have some O.C.D. issues. Well, if I do they benefit my house.

Now I just wait till the kids go to bed. We planned it late enough that the moms could put the kids to bed and then come over. This way the hubbies don't have to actually watch the kids- thus they don't have any reason to object to tonight :) Devious? Possibly... desperate for a cheap night out with the girls? Definitely! I'm off to go dust some more- not that anyone will notice after their first glass of wine. Hope you all have a great night planned sometime soon too!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cooking with Grandma

With in the past few years my husband lost his grandparents. And no matter how close you are (or aren't) it affects you. Losing a member of the family can be hard. One thing that makes it easier for me is when I can pass along some special memories of loved ones who've passed. Many times they are shared through stories. Although in my house they are often shared through food :) I love to collect antiques. When I get something that has memories and family value, it makes it all the more special to me.

This cast iron skillet was my husband's grandmothers. It was obviously well loved....which is great for me cause it's seasoned already! If you don't know about cast iron skillets: if you buy them new, you have to "season" it. Oh, and you can't wash it. Interesting, huh? I believe the best way to get a cast iron skillet is to have one given to you. The one I was given is awesome! It's super heavy too - great quality. They just don't make them like they used to. Sorry, I know I'm bragging. Well, last night was the night to break it in.

It was cold and extremely windy yesterday. The kind of wind that cuts through you and chills you to the bone. It also makes my ears ache, not sure why. So I made comfort food! Homemade chili and corn bread in a cast iron skillet. It cooked wonderfully in the skillet and quicker than it usually does. If you haven't tried cooking in a cast iron skillet- go for it! I just melted a little butter in the skillet, swished it around to coat and then poured the batter in. Easy. And now it's creating new memories for my family.

Usually on the weeknights I grab a Marie Calendar quick cornbread bag. Just add 1 1/2 cups water, stir, viola! But, I'll go ahead and leave you with my favorite corny cornbread recipe from non other than the amazing Paula Deen. Fair warning: I haven't made this in a skillet before. But I have made it and it's my favorite.

Corny Cornbread

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus 1/4 cup for greasing pan
  • 1 cup self-rising cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup cream-style corn, see Cook's Note*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Generously season a cast iron skillet with up to 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Preheat the pan either in the oven or on the stove over medium-high heat.

Mix 1/2 cup vegetable oil and remaining ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined. Pour batter into the preheated cast iron skillet. Place skillet in the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. If making individual size cornbreads in smaller pans, they will require a shorter cooking time. Alternately, you can make this in muffin tins to make corn muffins, but check for doneness after 15 minutes.

*Cook's Note: Frozen creamed corn is sold in the frozen vegetables section of most grocery stores. It is much better than using canned corn.

This recipe can be found at:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Day at the Botanical Gardens

Usually I'm not the garden type. Don't get me wrong- I love going to Home Depot and picking up flowers and plants and planting them. Once they're planted it's instant gratification. But I'm not usually the type who goes for a stroll through the city gardens.

It's extremely difficult to find peace while pushing a 75 lb. stroller while my two year old is screaming that she has to go potty. Yea. Not really a place I visit often.... plus, I try to not ruin it for other people.

Well, it turns out that the Encinitas Botanical Gardens (recently re-named the San Diego Botanical Gardens) has a huge kid area. And it's free the first Tuesday of the month. I'm all about free kid stuff. This place was amazing. I didn't get a whole lot of time to stroll through the flowers and plants but the ones I did see were really beautiful. And their kid area was like a museum.... a kid museum, not The Louvre type. Absolutely amazing! I really liked the random sculptures placed in the plants (yes, like the picture above). They made me laugh. I saw the art - but I found it funny that they were in plants. I don't know why, but they made me laugh.

If you're in the area I highly recommend going. The parking is only $! It was a wonderful day for all of us and the best part about visiting a place like that is it definitely counts as the days workout. If I managed to go to the gardens, you should too! Go and check out some of the beauty that your city has to offer- you might enjoy it! I did :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Homemade Ravioli

Insanity? Possibly. I'm not really sure what got into me. The good thing is that it turned out to be a successful adventure. Although fair warning it took a long time!

I started out by peeling the butternut squash and removing the seeds. Then I chopped up the squash into pieces about 1 inch by 1/2 inch. I coated the squash in olive oil. Seasoned with some salt and pepper and some thyme. I also added a splash of balsamic vinegar to give some depth to the flavor. Place in an oven about 350-375 for about an hour. You need to cook it till you can stick a fork in it and it can go through easily. Cooking time and temp will vary from oven to oven so just use your best baking senses.

After squash is cooked and cooled puree it. You can also mash it with a fork or a mash potato masher. All ways listed work. Just mash it up till all big chunks are removed.

To make pasta:
2 cups flour, 3 eggs, 1/2 tsp. salt.

Make a bowl with the flour and whisk eggs in a circular motion. The flour will pull itself into the egg/flour mixture as you continue to stir. Once the dough starts to take shape kneed in the rest of the flour. Kneed it till firm and a tight dough. After the dough is made let it rest at room temp for 1 hour to let the gluten settle.

Once dough is ready roll into a strip. Make sure the dough is not sticky - it will not go through the dough press if it is. Add flour if necessary. Roll out dough according to manufacturers directions for your pasta press. Once you get a sheet, press your ravioli cutter to make squares.

Add less than a teaspoon of butternut squash puree to the pasta square.

Dip your finger in water and spread around the edge of the pasta. Then apply the top square. Press to seal. Seal well!
Boil till cooked :)

For the sauce I just browned some butter with some thyme leaves. Then spooned some over the ravioli. It tastes like fall. Amazing!

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