5 comments 30 November 2007

Wednesday I got some bad news...the basket where all of my proverbial eggs were lying is booked until March. In order to have gotten into this daycare center in January I would have had to put us on the waiting list before I was even pregnant! I am now forced to activate Plan B. I am not willing to place Elliot in home daycare unless someone I know and trust has or does use the provider. After the bad news I called a provider where my friend sends her son and I was thrilled to know she had an opening. Yesterday morning I went over to her home to check things out and to discuss her caring for Elliot. She seemed nice enough, her place seemed clean enough, the kids seemed happy enough, so why was I not happy? Because no matter what, she will never care and love my son the way I do. It is beginning to break my heart that he is going to spend more of his day with this person (a relative stranger) then with me (or Daddy). I am going to hold him even closer this next month, get in as lots of extra smiles and giggles, sing extra songs, read more stories, take more walks, and snuggle in bed just a little longer because today I made the deposit...it's official.

2 comments 27 November 2007

What was I to do with the extra pie crust in the fridge? I started making more Empanadas, this time with filled with black beans, diced green chile, salsa and cheese. And then the light bulb went off and I realized that my Empanadas were really just tiny pies with Mexican inspired filling. So I got that crazed look in my eyes and decided it was time to fill these tiny pies with something sweet - peanut butter & semi-sweet chocolate chips and strawberry & cream cheese.

Can you see the PB oozing out! Yum! They were scrumptious! So please reward yourself and make some tiny pies with your favorite filling!

How to:

Use refrigerated pie crust (the new roll-out type is best)
Roll each crust just a little thinner
Use anything in your kitchen that measures about a 4 inch circle and cut 5 to 6 circles out of each pie crust
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of your favorite filling into the middle of each circle, fold over edges and crimp with a fork
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes

It is "Stupid Easy" as Paula Deen would say.

2 comments 26 November 2007

Yesterday we hosted brunch for some friends and I decided to go a little wild. I was once again inspired by a recipe from Food TV. Robin Miller made an After-Thanksgiving Empanada using pre-made pie crust. My wheels began turning and I decided I could use Chorizo instead of turkey, keep the black beans, add an onion, add a diced potato, skip the pre-made salsa (enough flavor in the Chorizo), keep the cheese (after all it is a binding agent), keep the fresh cilantro, ditch the cumin (again, Chorizo is full of flavor) and viola, breakfast Empanadas! Using the pie crust was genius because I don't think I would have been so brave if I new had to make the crust myself. I had a bit of trouble getting the seams to seal on some of them, but to my surprise they did not open up in the oven...not one single Empanada came out badly! Yeah for me (and my hubby too)!

I also whipped up an old favorite - Chile Rellenos Casserole. In August of last year we were
honored to attend the wedding of some wonderful new friends. The day after we also attended the after-wedding brunch hosted by the Groom's parents. One of the dishes the Groom's Mom whipped up was the wonderful Chile Rellenos Casserole, which brought back wonderful memories of backyard bbq's when I was a girl. My Mom's friend would often bring this tasty dish to our bbq's and I just loved it! I came home from the wedding and the first thing I did was scour through my Mom's old recipies and sure enough, Noel's Chili Relleno's Casserole.

I think brunch is my favorite meal (as long as it comes with good friends and sweet babies and baby to-be)!

1 comments 24 November 2007

Yesterday we had the most magnificent Thanksgiving, all about family, friends and sharing traditions. We traveled up to Novato with Dale's Mom to spend Thanksgiving with some special friends, John & Anne. These are family friends that have known Dale since he was in his Mom's belly. They showered our sweet Elliot with love (he was on his best behavior as usual) and they made us feel so welcome.

John cooked his superb turkey on the bbq, the same way he has been doing it for over 30 years, yum! The bounty was plentiful and everyone contributed. Anne made a wonderful cornbread stuffing, a cranberry relish with apricots and sweet potatoes with juicy bits of pineapple! Penny brought a roasted corn and edamame succotash, Jane made a glorious apple pie using my favorite apples of all - Pink Ladies! I baked a pumpkin pie with streusel topping (don't look too closely at the crust) and Grandma brought a yummy salad adorned with of course, cranberries. I am not sure who made the scrumptious cucumber and radish salad, but it was crisp and refreshing and along with the salad really helped to lighten the meal! I think this was the first Thanksgiving where both Dale and I were delightfully full but not so stuffed that we felt sick.

hat really made this Thanksgiving unique was the Chinese tea tasting provided to us by a friend of J&A's. Johnny put together a wonderful tasting for us and we learned how to prepare, pour, drink and just love tea! Johnny first began by tempering all the tea cups and tea pots. Notice how sweet and tiny the tea cups are. I had to feed Elliot during the first tasting of an English Red Tea, but joined back in time for the second tasting of a Chinese Red Tea which was preferred to the English version by all. Each tea steeped for a few minutes in special steeping cups and then Johnny poured the steeped tea into a special serving pot using a very specific pouring technique (notice the placement of his fingers when pouring the tea). The next tea which I do not recall the name of was extremely bitter and often used after dinner to aid in digestion (if you can actually swallow it!).

One of the most wonderful teas to watch be prepared (and to taste) was the Jasmine tea. Johnny had whole Jasmine blossoms that would bloom as they steeped; they were so beautiful! Just like tasting wine, we learned how important it is to breathe in the wonderful aroma of the tea before sipping. Our last taste was of the most exquisite of Oolong teas. This tea had gorgeous leaves and the taste was favored by everyone except me, as I was partial to the Jasmine and Chinese Red Tea. This will be one of my most memorable holidays and cannot thank Johnny enough for sharing this special tasting with us.

This was Elliot's first Thanksgiving and I am so happy that he (via me and Daddy) had such a positive experience. He smiled and giggled all night long, took an after-turkey nap in my arms and we made sure he wore a special bib worn by all the babies on their first thanksgiving (my side of the family) and since Elliot cannot yet eat turkey, he adorned the bib with lots of drool instead.

0 comments 22 November 2007

Gobble, gobble!

1 comments 21 November 2007

Saturday: Elliot's First Flight

We awoke at 5 am, Elliot ate breakfast, we got dressed (sans coffee) and the shuttle arrived promptly at 6am to take us to OAK. So far so good. We got some Peet's at the airport (I love airports with good coffee) and we got settled at our gate and waited for our plane to board. I fed Elliot at 5, so he would be wanting to eat agai
n right as we were ready to board the plane and I was happy about this because I heard that nursing your baby during take-off and landing can help with the ear pressure and aid in a happier baby which equals happier passengers traveling near baby. The plane lifted off right on time and we landed in hot and sticky Honolulu five hours later...what about Elliot you ask? He was AMAZING! He ate, played and slept the entire flight! I don't like to brag, but more than one person remarked at what a great baby he was (insert proud mama glow here).

Saturday Evening: The Grocery Store

When we finally arrive in Kauai we dropped Elliot, Grandma
and all of our luggage off at the hotel and headed for the grocery store. Thanks to Papa and Grammy we were staying in beautiful two-bedroom condo equipped with a full-kitchen that only lacked some fresh food from the market. Dale and I headed back to Lihue to Star Market. We picked up some salami and cheese for lunch/snacking, yogurt and cereal for breakfast (yummy haupia, liche, papaya and mango flavors), beer, diapers (too big to pack), milk, ice cream, bread and water...all for the low, low price of $165.00 and I did not leave anything off the list! Ouch! A 1/2 gallon of milk was $6.00! Mid-way through our shopping excursion we called Grandma to inquire about flavors of yogurt she would like to eat when we learned Elliot was having his first Hawaiian breakdown...so we grabbed the last few items and jetted back to the hotel. By the time we arrived our sweet boy was fed and fast asleep, whew!

Sunday: Elliot's First Swim

This was our first whole day on the island and we chose to acclimate ourselves at the pool. I slathered my son with chemical free s
unscreen, put a hat on him and we headed for the pool. We cannot say that he loved the water...but he didn't hate it.

After a long day at the pool (long day in baby time = about 2 hours) we explored our dinner options and tried Tomkats Grille in Old Koloa town. The food was good, not gre
at. We headed to a more "economical" grocery store after dinner to pick up a few items so we could BBQ our own dinner the next night...BIG SAVE market was another 100 bucks for a few steaks, some PB, sandwich bread and not much else...so it wasn't quite a BIG SAVE.

Hawaiian Farmers Market

We awoke bright and early I drove Daddy to the golf course (so we could have the car to go out and about), came back to the lovely condo and by the time Elliot ate, Mommy and Grandma had coffee and breakfast, Elliot decided to nap and then eat and then before you new it, it was almost time to pick up Daddy...the space time continuum is quite different with a baby. I read about a Farmers Market in Old Koloa Town and thought it would be great to experience and also to pick-up some produce for the dinner that night. Grandma and I drove over, I put Elliot in the Bjorn and we walked towards the market. Though it was fun to see and buy some of the unique local produce, it left a little something to be desired when you are used to California Farmer's Markets. They had some HUGE (and tasty) avocados, wonderful sweet cucumbers, yummy Apple-bananaas, super-sweet pineapple and fresh cold coconut juice (served in the coconut). We loaded up and then went to meet Daddy for lunch at the golf course. And that night Daddy grilled some mean steaks, we microwaved some potatoes, sliced up the yummy cucumbers and avocados and had a wonderful minimalist dinner (condo's don't come with a spice cabinet).

Tuesday: More Pool Time

We got up, drank our coffee, ate our breakfast, etc., etc. and finally made it to the pool around lunch time. I packed us some PB&J's and some other goodies. We got Elliot back into the pool; we certainly enjoyed it more than he did. I must admit I was feeling a little blue about our trip at this point. I felt like time was moving so quickly and here we were on this beautiful island and most of what I saw up to this point were the walls of the condo and the hotel pool. I had pre-vacation fantasies of putting Elliot in the Bjorn and taking long walks along the beach...not realizing the beach was not very long and babies shouldn't be in the sun (especially tropical sun) for too long. Things were about to look up as we had a special activity planned for Wednesday.

Wednesday: Horseback Riding & Pineapple Upside Down Cake - Oh My!

For the last 14 years I have been dying to go horseback riding with Dale someplace special (Wine Country, Hawaii, you get the idea). So my dear hubby finally made reservations for us. We got up bright and early and headed to the northern side of the island (Princeville). We were on the road about 10 minutes when I realized I forgot my tennis shoes (flip flops are not appropriate attire for horseback riding). This little slip-up put us a bit behind. But thinking quickly on my feet (as I generally do), when I grabbed my shoes I grabbed a bottle and the pump too. My original plan was for us to arrive a 1/2 hour early so I could nurse Elliot and then Grandma would have a happy baby for the 1 1/2 hours we would be riding. Now we would arrive just a few minutes before the ride, so when we were about 20 minutes from the stables I pulled out the pump and got down to milk-making business and by the time we were there I was done and ready for the ride.

Dale rode a really slow horse named Big Blue and I rode a sweet obedient guy named JJ. The ranch was about 2500 acres and was home to some sweet cows as well. We rode to the edge of a cliff with breathtaking views all along the way and altogether had a wonderful time. As we took our final steps back to the stable I h
eard the faintest sound of my sweet son crying his eyes out. We are not 100% certain, but it seems that he sensed us riding in because he was the happiest little boy until Mommy was within reach. He settled down and had a little nap for the ride home.

After the ride we cleaned up and headed to the Poi Pu Shopping Center to have dinner at Roy's. I was skeptical of this chain-like restaurant, but was so glad I gave it a chance. I had the Short Ribs which were so tender and mouth-watering that I am salivating just writing about them. The Pineapple Upside Down Cake was amazing, it is one of my favorite deserts and I commend Roy's for a job very well done. The cake was a tab bit crispy, the pineapple was sweet and a little caramely (yes, caramely is a word)! Mr. Gr
aham talked and giggle (no crying) during the whole meal and even though we new he was tired (rubbing eyes and ears constantly) he wouldn't sleep out of a fear of missing something and he hung in there like a trooper and let us enjoy our wonderful dinner.

Thursday: Honeymoon (Round Two)

The day started out early with me driving Daddy to golf up in Lihue. I got a little lost on my way back so luckily Grandma had a bottle for Elliot. Time once again got the best of us and right as we were into Old Koloa Daddy called and needed to be picked-up. We headed back up to Lihue, came back to home base to so Daddy could rinse off, we had a snack and then finally made it to Old Koloa town. A cute touristy town with Shaved Ice, a candle shop, a few restaurants and plenty of "Hawaiian attire" for sale. We then headed back to get ready for our special dinner. Roughly 2 1/2 years ago Dale and I honeymooned on Kauai and had a very special sunset dinner at The Beach House. When Grandma offered to baby-sit so we could have dinner out, we decided to re-visit The Beach House. The first time we ate there the dinner was just okay...but we think they got a new chef in the
meantime because not only was the sunset amazing, so was the food! I know it doesn't sound very tropical but we had the best blueberry tart for desert!

Friday: Our Day Out

Our last full day, so we decided that some site seeing was in order. I know my dear husband sensed that I really needed to get out so he planned a lovely little day for us. We headed northwest to see Spouting Horn. I saw it as a child and though it is not that big of a deal it was still fun to experience with hubby, grandma and baby. Next we headed to Hanapepe which has a ton of galleries that were ALL closed (typical Kaiser-Federighi luck).
But we did make our own fun...we happened into a bookstore where I found they had a wonderful selection of used cook books. I bought a wonderful 1940 copy of The American Woman's Cook Book and I kick myself for not buying Island Recipes for your Microwave Oven. I seem to remember having a cookbook like this when I was growing up, I will have to do some research. I know have a new hobby...collecting old cookbooks! Dale and I also played on the swinging bridge which seemed like a cheesy thing to mention as a tourist attraction but when we got there it seemed to entertain us well enough. It does swing quite a bit when you walk on it, so much so that neither of us were brave enough to walk all the way over. We ended the day by picking up pizza at a spot recommended by locals - Brick Oven. For Kauai I am sure this was great pizza, for how hungry I was it was decent pizza. I judge a pizza by its mushrooms and if they are canned...no good. The rest of the pizza was pretty darn tasty so I won't take as many points away this time.

Saturday: Almost Home

Don't fly ATA! I have never had so little leg room on a flight, not to mention it felt like the temperature was set to 80 degrees! I was sweaty, my baby was sweaty and even though we arrived 30 minutes early we spent 40 minutes waiting for a gate (though this was more of a fog issue than an ATA issue). Not to mention the only seat with 2 oxygen masks (necessary for person who holds the baby) was the window which meant every time I need to change his diaper I had to have Dale and Grandma get up. It then took the baggage another 1/2 hour to arrive. We should have been home around 12 and we didn't get home until almost 1:30 in the morning. I have to give props to our shuttle company for being on-time when we departed and waiting for us when we came home. Elliot was the least cranky of us all - another successful flight with my happy baby!

Mahalo Mucho if you actually read this whole damn thing!

4 comments 05 November 2007

It seems like some people have forgotten some of the basics of driving that we learned in Driver's-Ed. In an effort to help you not to irritate me on the road I have decided to offer a refresher course. Don't get me wrong, I make mistakes when I drive too (sometimes intentionally). Sometimes I find myself driving too slow in the fast lane or running the yellow-red lights (though that has stopped now that Elliot is in the car), but I still think we could all benefit from a refresher course (and it will make me feel better).

Chapter One: Turning

  1. Hug the corner when you are turning right (get out of the way so you don't slow down traffic)
  2. DO NOT Hug the corner when you are turning left (do not drive into oncoming traffic)
  3. When turning left and there are multiple left turn lanes STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE!


9 comments 02 November 2007

Dale and I have been secretly living with The Crane's for the last couple of years. A couple of years ago I started watching Frasier (natural progression from Cheers) and slowly Dale was sucked in! We would watch together and laugh together but never really acknowledge our love for The Crane Family. We would mention it casually to friends but never really letting on about how great we really thought this show was. I went through a brief period of depression when a good friend told me that Kelsey Grammer was a far-right republican. I have decided to live in denial as he is not the genius behind the shows success anyway (I do denial really well). Recently we were having dinner with some friends and the show was once again casually brought up and to our utter enjoyment our friends love it too! Knowing that our friends loved Frasier validated it for us and made us feel more comfortable expressing how much we REALLY love the show. They had not seen quite as many episodes as we had and not in succession so they had a few questions about the story line and well...they soon found out (and were undoubtedly scared) how much we knew about the show when we starting filling in blanks for them without hesitation - we were like a fricken encyclopedia.

My friend Hannah and I have always shared in a love for silly sitcoms before bed (did someone say Mama's Family?!). Sometime in early college I had a short bout of insomnia and developed the need to fall asleep with the television on. It was of equal importance what was on the tele because I often would have dreams started by whatever I was watching, so nothing scary or thought provoking! In the beginning (I didn't have cable) I would watch David Letterman, Mama's Family, Coach, Home Improvement and Cheers. Through the years I transitioned to shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Cosby Show, The Family Guy, and so on. I even went through a short period where I watched The Nanny (I hate to admit that one). Ever since we began sharing a tele at night, Dale has tolerated my choice of programming waiting until I was fast asleep to change the channel. Thankfully he does not have to tolerate it anymore! We have seen every episode and it was on for 11 years - so that is a lot of Frasier. I feel better now that I have gotten this off my chest. Happy Friday!