Wednesday, December 31, 2008

La Croix sweetie, La Croix.

I have been cooking since 7am and I'm still not tired. I'm sure it will hit me at 11:59. The ball will start to drop and I will just zzz....

How do I ring in the new year? In STYLE, baby. Well, not really. I'm usually knee deep in cooking prep and have DickClarknowRyanSeacrest on in the background. Where do you pee if you are standing in Times Square all that time, anyway?

No, this year I found this GORGEOUS Christian LaCroix Evian bottle at where else, Target of course - in the 50% off Christmas aisle for just $1.52. I will drink out of this lovely to celebrate the new year while I make mochi and prep chicken wings.

Tomorrow O.G. will not be coming to the party til later, as she has prime seats to freeze her a$$ off watching the Rose Parade. Still, horrible grandaughter that I am, I forced her to make me her super amazing flank steak. It just doesn't come out the same when I make it. It's so good I may just eat it all for dinner instead...screw you party goers. It's mine all mine!

Happy new year!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A heartless hand on my shoulder, a push - and its over

I think I can confirm...I've been to hell. Also known as the Japanese market, three days before New Year's. The parking lot is madness, near accidents, honking - luckily I have insanely good parking karma and I have never had to wait for parking...ever. Whenever I go to the mall, or an amusement park, sure the getting there gives me complete road rage, but the parking situation always works in my favor. Go figure.

But once inside - it was chaos. The thing about Japanese New Year is that everyone is making the same things because you HAVE to have certain dishes. It's tradition. The store knows this and does their best to put all those ingredients in the center for people to just go and grab, but getting there ain't easy. It's very 'Supermarket Sweep' in there.The game plan was having my SIL stand by the cart while I threw things at it from a distance as if I was a short asian Harlem Globetrotter. Luckily everything was in stock, but going so early made me worry for my fresh produce. It'll just have to do because there's no way I'm going back there any nearer to the 1st.

I left there with my sanity in tact, and my wallet a little lighter. I suppose it could have been worse. It could have gone like this:

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Monday, December 29, 2008

To me you are a work of art, and I would give you my heart - that’s if I had one

I have vivid dreams. I remember colors, voices - everything. Sometimes when I wake up I believe whatever I dreamed actually happened. I think the Baby must have the same type of brain. Once he turned three his imagination has really kicked into high gear. He often wakes up in the middle of the night freaking out about, well - everything.

The other night he came into the room and screamed "ICE CREAM. I TOLE YOU I WAN DA ICE CREAM WIT DA SPRINKLES! SPRINKLESSSSS!!...zzz..." Then he passed out on the ground. What. I looked around cautiously to make sure that 'Candid Camera: Bad Mommies' edition wasn't around, then I left him there and went back to sleep.

While the Kid is truly the creative one, I think all this vivid imagination is being pent up inside the Baby. Obviously I bought the wrong kid the sketchbook...I guess the Baby decided that the COUCH was a great place to make art. UGH. In five years with the Kid I've never had an incident, now this. I suppose it's best that Baby is not influenced by Jackson Pollock. Things could have been worse.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Edina: 'Inside of me there is a thin person dying to get out!!'
Mother: 'Just the one dear?'

I don't know about you, but my diet for the past three days has consisted solely of mashed potatoes and chocolates. I'm not proud of it, but I sure am content. I feel like I've been on vacation forever, which is a good thing. This forced break is probably just what I needed. As usual when we have time off, I've scheduled fun adventures for the kids almost hourly. My SIL is growing weary already. She said, "No wonder you never answer when I call you, you're never home!" It's true. My goal is always to make every second count with these kids.But let's get back to my poor eating habits. Since we had the triple meat-fest and it seemed like we were just recreating Thanksgiving, I thought I'd bring something different for dessert. This Christmas I obviously didn't take very seriously, as up until the day before, I wasn't quite sure what I'd bring. (Not planning? As you know is not very me.) So I went into my pantry to see what I could come up with on the fly.

Oddly, my first thought was, "what about a bread pudding?" I've actually never been a fan of bread pudding - too soggy - but I thought, what if I can crisp it up a bit? I had eggs, cream, milk, but no bread. I'm brilliant, bread pudding no bread. Duh. Then I looked in the freezer and...voila!

Using the wonderful new chocolate croissant technology courtesy of TJ's, I put together a chocolate croissant bread pudding that was fantastic. The top crisped up nice and the custard-y middle was just right. Then again I probably could have just eaten 8 chopped up chocolate croissants with no custard and no baking whatsoever. Good lord. Someone get me some salad, stat.

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Flashback, warm nights, almost left behind. Suitcases of memories...

For days after Christmas it means -- more cleaning! Well, more than usual, which for me is A LOT. I go through the kids toys with a fine tooth comb and really start tossing the unused things, and then Goodwilling the stuff they've grown out of. It's kind of sad actually. At the speed they've completely moved on to big boy clothes it makes me fear for my pocketbook.

I don't know if anyone watched that Top Chef holiday special but it was pretty funny. They made the finalists make a dish out of leftovers in 30 minutes. It was kind of annoying, but it makes sense, I mean, who doesn't have leftovers after a party? Normally I can't stand leftovers but after a HUGE holiday meal, you can't really help it.
My tradition has always been to make a day-after-the-holiday breakfast. We always have tons of garlic mashed potatoes because my family is carb-tastic. So I take those and make little fried potato pancakes. I remember O.G. making these for me every Christmas vacation. Then I scramble an egg with some leftover ham, place it on a leftover sweet bread roll with some cheese, and there you go. A quick breakfast leftover treat. The kids love anything stacked like a sandwich and the best part is they don't even notice the re-purposing of the food.

Now if only they wouldn't notice me throwing out their toys left and right. But really, I don't want to hear it because this nightmare takes up half my living room:Also known as the 'Hot Wheels Fireball' it was the only thing (please please please) the Kid wanted for Christmas. My cousin bought it for him and paid a whopping $40 - which of course went on sale for $20 the day after xmas. This horribly made piece of crap took 4 of us to put together, AND it arrived broken. Of course the Kid loves it. I tried to disassemble it and return it, I mean it's broken after all, and he threw a fit like you wouldn't believe. He said, "It doesn't work very well....BUT I LOVE IT." Guess what's going into the post Christmas clean up next year...

Post Holiday Breakfast how-to
, here.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

But the very next day you gave it away

Christmas was great. There was much meat. Then I came home and immediately took down the tree. I usually leave it up longer, but I am craving the space. With the kid's new toys and me at my wits end with the cleanliness, yes - I took down the tree on Christmas like a total Grinch. The kids are going to wake up and be very confused. 'Tree? What tree? We never had a tree, don't be crazy.'

I am going to be one of those insane people and go shopping before sunrise tomorrow morning. My SIL wants to hit the Target sale, and who am I to say no to Target...ever. I definitely will be a bit restrained with the shopping though, because I think...I got laid off on Christmas Eve. Nice timing, no? It's still all a bit vague, but let's just say I won't be working next week, when I was planning to. Nothing like economic downturn to ring in the holiday joy.

Holiday highlights include:

-The Baby being HORRIFIED that Santa had the nerve to break into our house and eat cookies.

-O.G. telling my brother to go home because he forgot her gift.

-The Baby receiving a 30" tall dino. No, not this one, but still just as disturbing.

-Watching my SIL attempt to put together a hot wheels race track without instructions. (bad idea)

-Not getting anything in my stocking. This is my own fault as..."Santa" (air quote, wink*wink) should really be more responsible in making sure that everyone gets something. (Note to self: buy myself some stocking stuffers to keep up the ruse.) I said, "OH NO. Mommy didn't get presents, I must have been bad." The Kid said, "Is it cause you yell all the time?" Freakin' smart ass kids.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And the flesh you so fancifully fry, is not succulent, tasty or kind
It's death for no reason and death for no reason is murder

I drove by the mall - I'm surprised people are still shopping. I'd say either get all the madness done early (which is exactly what I did) or just forget it and go watch tv.

The kids are all excited because Santa is coming tomorrow night. Tomorrow night?? What! All I can say is I will be ticked if he drops off this around these parts:

I will personally kick Santa's a$$. The Kid's main deal is that we HAVE to put out cookies for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer. Hm. I keep trying to convince them that Santa would really dig a half eaten bag of tortilla chips and some root beer, but they don't seem to be buying it.

What is on your holiday menu? Cause pretty f*ed up this year. In an odd turn of events, our meal looks like this: my Aunt is a believer that Christmas isn't Christmas without turkey, so she's making one. The rest of the family is sick of turkey since Thanksgiving was just a few weeks ago, so O.G. bought a ham. Ok. But my cousin hates ham. So my mom is making a roast. WHAT. That's three, count 'em, three meat-astic entrees right there, and I don't even eat meat that much! One thing my family isn't, is vegan.

Another thing that definitely isn't vegan is Jell-O. Hello, hooves and bones, anyone? But If you need a surefire recipe to wow 'em at the potlucks, look no further. I posted this recipe years ago, but people still always ask for it, Broken Glass Jello. I hope you all have a good holiday. I hope I survive the meatfest. Happy holidays!Broken Glass Jello recipe

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Party over with, out of time.

What am I complaining about? We all know the real party is New Year's Day. That's what I said, DAY, not eve. I don't really celebrate on New Year's Eve, I don't drink anyway - I'm Amish like that.

No, New Year's Day is where it's at. A huge deal in Japanese tradition, Oshogatsu, it's an all day eating fest...for the guests. For me it's days upon days of cooking and planning. My friends look forward to it every year because they don't want to throw their own (like they are supposed to), they just want to come to my house and sit on my couch. I'm fine with that. Here are some pictures of past New Year's day preparations I've made.


2006:Quite obviously the menu only varies slightly when you have to stick to certain 'expected' traditional foods, but I always add a whole lotta party food too. At least 20+ dishes or so total. I better get crackin'.

Click on the pics to see what everything is...

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Monday, December 22, 2008

The weather outside is frightful

By all accounts I should hate Christmas. It feels especially grinch-y this year. Perhaps it's my horrible job where people are found crying at their desks on the regular. Loud sobbing certainly puts a damper on 'holiday cheer' let me tell you. Or maybe it's the stormy freezing Los Angeles weather. The streets are flooded, people have high anxiety from the traffic. Just ask Hilary. Yeesh. Or maybe it's because I give out lots of gifts, it's not about the amount of money I spend, but it seems like all the gifts are being met with an "Eh" or no response at all. I take a lot of time and effort thinking about things that would really make people happy. Not that I want a gift back, but if it's the thought that counts, then damn, no acknowledgement whatsoever means maybe you really don't give a sh*t about me at all. Gee, thanks. All this holiday hate is starting to rub off.

But I don't hate Christmas. I love it. And everyone else's 'who cares' attitude is starting to get to me and making me think why should I bother making a big deal out of it. Sure it means a lot to me, but no one else seems to appreciate my efforts.

But today I found joy in the three places you should NEVER find joy at the holidays. The mall, the post office and the airport. I stopped at the mall, frankly because I had nothing else to do. I've been done with shopping for months but I drove up and there was a space right there in front. It seemed like a sign. So I went in, and while yes, everyone else was in a cranky frenzy I had a nice conversation with a man at Williams Sonoma with no holiday jeer involved at all. Score one.

Then I moved on to the post office. I wasn't there to send packages, which was probably part of the reason it wasn't miserable, but instead I was there to give cookies to my favorite of all postal clerks. She is always nice to me year 'round, and I wanted to give her something just to let her know that I appreciate her. She seemed REALLY happy to see that I wasn't handing her a package for a rush delivery+attitude, which everyone else in line seemed to have.

Finally - the airport. The big no-no of them all with Christmas being just three days out. But the joy comes in with my sis-in-law's arrival. For a month I will have a personal assistant/in house nanny AND she loves Christmas and the holidays just as much as I do.

Can I avoid the holiday crank? Since it's coming from my friends and family, probably not. But I'll do my best - I have three days. sigh. Maybe I'll just hang out at the airport.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

I got a hold on you, tonight - oh oh it's magic, when I'm with you

The plan for the weekend was to bake, and bake I did. It's all or nothing with me. I either make a lot or I sit on my a$$ and watch Food Network. On Saturday I started out making a trifle for a party, then matzo ball soup for dinner, then chocolate cookies with the Kid, and then Burger Bites. LOTS of Burger Bites. I've been making them since I was in my teens so they don't take me long. I can do about 50 of 'em in 20 minutes. If only someone would invent a unwrapping machine for the patties, well I bet I could get my timing down to about 15 mins. I should be on Iron Chef: Peppermint Patties.
The Kid said he wanted to bake with me, so when I saw some Nestle holiday white chocolate swirled chips and I picked them up right away. Anything white chocolate I try to keep on hand for the Kid. Just the other day he had one drop, ONE, of chocolate sauce and he busted out in hives in a matter of seconds. sigh. The allergy continues.

The swirly chips are very cute, but they throw you off, while they look peppermint-like with their swirly pink/white they are actually just plain old blah chips. Lame-dash-oh. So I decided to MAKE them peppermint, by putting them in a cocoa peppermint cookie. At least that would give the illusion that there was actually mint involved. Suddenly I'm the Lance Burton of baking.

While the kid happily munched on these - I thought they needed a little more kick. The ones I gave away - I went unnecessarily overboard and dipped them in a peppermint infused chocolate.

No dip:
Dipped:Wow that red/pink plate REALLY makes them look peppermint-y now! Ah, the magic of Christmas. 'Course anything tastes good on a Kate Spade plate. Mmm. Magical.

Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Cookies recipe

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stay afloat


Friday, December 19, 2008

Pleasure, little treasure

I put up a few new products in the shop. While you won't get them in time for Christmas, you can still buy them and blame the post office for your procrastination. "Damn them! They never send things on time! HRMPH!" Cross your arms for full effect.

It's all cupcake stuff, cause you know what? Cupcakes still rock. Supposedly they are 'out', but I don't believe it. People still desire a little, tiny treasure of sweet to get them through the day. And if not, you can always have yourself a Rachael Ray cupcake...for dogs.

New products:
Personalized 'hi, cupcake!' flat cards

Cupcake thank you cards

Cupcake gift set


Thursday, December 18, 2008

When l was a kid, we didn't have no insurance. l broke my leg, Daddy poured Robitussin on it. Let that 'tussin get on down to the bone.

No Office this week, but it is snowing in L.A., aka the equivalent of hell freezing over. While I had been begging Mother Nature for cold - I wasn't quite prepared for the temps in the low 40s this past week. That was some crazy cold.

Every other day has been a rainstorm but the kid's school play must go on. The attire - while I failed to read until the day before - required a white shirt, white pants, and white shoes. I thought for sure they were going to be some sort of Winter Pimp, but it turns out one was a snowflake and the other was a jellyfish. Go figure. Also - I passed on the white pants cause when the hell are they EVER going to use those again.

I have been done with my Christmas shopping for months, but last minute I bought this to give my brother. HA. Who can resist GIANT POCKY.
I also caught a slight cold, yay me and my craptastic immune system, and when I went to the doctor he said - get this: "Have you ever heard of...Robitussin?" Good lord. So much for a professional diagnosis. Also for those who care, 'non-drowsy' is some*t. zzz....

Back on track, I am finally FINALLY going to bake this weekend. Anyone else? Me, I am looking forward cookies and zzz....


That's a shank.

Martha Stewart in the hizzouse, bitches! Tonight on Top Chef, the one and only MS was there to judge, and she did not hold back. The winner got an autographed cookbook, but HA, I got that, yo.

What she was judging was 'One Pot Dishes.' Most of those things didn't seem very one pot to me, but what do I know. All I know is that lately I have been working MUCH later than I am contractually obligated to do so, which means my prep time for cooking dinner has shortened. I am just not down with feeding my kids take out or fast food, not even once a week if I can help it.

Normally I make this particular chicken dish in the oven. But since time has been tight lately, I thought - I wonder what would happen if I crock-potted it? So I dumped all the ingredients in a crock pot, dropped the kids off at school and headed to work. When we came It turned out BETTER than when I make it in the oven. AND when the kids tasted it? They said it was the "BEST CHICKEN EVER." Yes, even the pork-eater. Now that's a compliment I can be proud of.

And here we have a meeting of the minds. Two of my most favorite things, finally together - Martha Stewart and gangsta rap. Like peas in a pizzle.

Crock Pot Honey Shoyu Chicken recipe, here.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Affleck: You gotta do the safe picture. Then the art picture.
Damon: And sometimes, you do Reindeer Games.
Affleck: See, that's just mean.

Christmas is coming faster than I choose to admit. With just two one week to go, bang a gong, it is on. On the agenda, little treats to give the kid's school friends. I decided to turn it into a 'Craft Project', wink-wink, i.e. child labor.

I also didn't feel like spending a lot of money, because after the Halloween treats, I realized that there are FORTY FIVE kids total that we need to give stuff too. Hellz no. So I went cheap and bought 4 boxes of candy canes. Each kid was going to get ONE. I figure they'll get enough junk this season, it's just the thought that counts.
So I involved the kids by bringing back an OLD SKOOL craft, the candy cane reindeer. It's so easy it hurts. Just glue on some eyeballz, pom pom noses and twist some brown pipe cleaners up for antlers. Btw, pipe cleaners are no longer called such, they are now referred to as "chenille stems." What's up with that BS?

Finally we got it done. I'd say that's a PLETHORA of reindeer, wouldn't you? The Kid was all into it, he was a big help. The Baby did one and quickly caught on to the child labor ruse and went to go watch Superfriends. Smart kid.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Festivus miracle!

I had it all set in my mind that I wanted to make gingerbread cupcakes. However, I went to the pantry and I was out of eggs and butter. FOR SHAME. Worst home baker, ever. Anyway, I did the next best thing and came up with a VEGAN gingerbread cupcake recipe on the spot. Let it be noted that the people I handed these out to all said, "PLEASE don't become a Vegan...these are really good though." Every one of them! Man, people hate animals. Rude. Now don't get me wrong, I bow down to the altar of Paula Deen, (entirely made of butter, btw) but it IS possible to cook without animal products if need be, even if it's not my first choice.

The thing about vegan baking, for me anyway, is that you have to mask the fact that you aren't using those wonderful creamy, heavenly products, by kicking up the flavors. I'm down with that. And it works well with gingerbread, especially.They came out really good, very moist, and I topped it with a rich chocolate frosting. Perfect for the holidays.

But you know what you should NOT make for the holidays? A cake with pie filling...and CORNUTS. What the what. I love Cornuts, but damn. This is why I'm not a Sandra Lee fan, folks. This is not baking. Not cooking. It's just...inedible. SHE'S RUINED KWANZAA.

Vegan Gingerbread Cupcake recipe

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Be-de-be-de-be-de - that's all, folks!

I am a big fan of Giada DeLaurentiis. Maybe I just like boobs. Or giant heads. Anyway, she is a GOOD chef and that's all that matters. I don't consider her a fakey one, just because she is pretty. I have a few of her cookbooks and the recipes are always spot on.
Right now tomatoes are perfect, and I saw these little grape tomatoes at the farmer's market and I remembered a recipe of Giada's from her newest book. It was actually in her 'kids cooking' section, and it's a take on a pretty standard recipe, with a twist.

Basically it's a pasta with tomatoes, mozzarella balls (bocconcini) and tiny chicken meatballs. How adorable. I couldn't resist it, however I don't care for ground chicken all that much, so I changed it to turkey. I also changed the pasta from an orriechette to a more familiar penne rigate. Sometimes the idea is there, you just have to change it up to suit your tastes.

Man this dish came out good. However there are some people you just can't please. Like the Baby. And Padma. You'll never know when she...or the Baby, will spit food into a napkin. He ate one meatball and said, "DIS IS NOT PORK....IS IT." Not a question. Just a statement. How did he know? I hesitated, thought about lying to him, but gave in and said, he was right, it was NOT pork. And he refused to eat anymore meatballs! Damn! Next time I will lie or just change it to pork meatballs. sigh. Carnivores.Penne with Mini Meatballs recipe

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

The lights are much brighter there.

As a kid my grandpa used to take us downtown with him to pick up fabric for my grandmother's shop, since she was a seamstress. We were small, probably around my own kid's ages now, and I remember the tall high rises that seemed to touch the sky, the different ethnic areas and seeing the plight of downtown up close. It was a vastly different environment from what I was used to, but it shaped my sense of the city from that early age on.
I missed the Old Bank District's Holiday Block Party which I really wanted to go to. At night it's really difficult to leave the house and I hate to say it, but the Historic Core isn't exactly the safest of places to wrangle two kids. Fifth Street is still Skid Row, no matter how you slice it, but changes are being made and Main Street is really coming into it's own. New Restaurants, renovations, and some great little stores.

I have a soft spot in my heart for kitchen stores AND art stores. Raw Materials - an art and architectural supply store - just opened up on Main. One of the partners is Celia of 5thandspring, who is a lover of L.A. just like me. When I walked in to the store it immediately took me back to memories of architecture school and all the supplies I had to buy. I was so poor back then, my roomate and I had to buy colored pencils and cut them in half just so we could both afford to finish our art assignments.
I wanted to buy the Kid a sketchbook, he is a little mini version of me, and draws and sketches every day. However overly-clean me is a little tired of the scraps of paper strewn about the house. I told him that if he had a sketchbook he could keep all his drawings in one place. Luckily he didn't catch on to my evil-super clean ploy. Raw Materials had a ton of sketchbooks on sale and the Kid picked out the exact one he wanted and it was 50% off, only $5!! I also picked up these tiny (my fave) bristol sheets. I have been thinking of doing thumbnail sketches, and it's not like I can't cut the paper myself, but these little packs were too adorable and affordable at just under $2.
Then we walked a block down the street to The Nickel for lunch. The Nickel. Fifth Street. Skid Row. Get it? Anyway, the wait was a little long, but the food and service were great. The Kid DEVOURED his cinnamon french toast. Yes, that is a donut hole 'ring' in the front window display. Genius. The Baby said, "FWEAKY."

We go Downtown a lot - always to different parts, but this particular trip really took me back to the memories of going there with my Grandpa. I wonder if these trips will shape my kid's views of life in the city. I love Downtown and appreciate all the changes that are being made down there. While some of the old problems of homelessness and drugs still exist, I like to see that residents are really taking strides to make it a new, livable place.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

My horn can pierce the sky.

Last night's Office hit the nail on the head. Toys - they cause havoc and death. No. Wait. Parents cause those things when they go nuts trying to buy their kids toys. And crazy parents will pay an arm and leg to buy the right toy. But Christmas doesn't have to be a bloody nightmare. In El Segundo, just south of the airport, you'll find the headquarters for the great toy company, Mattel. I never played with Barbies as a kid, but I know they are considered the shiz. And since Mattel IS the House of Barbie, well, you best believe there are some amazing things here.
What most people don't know is that there is a Mattel outlet store located right on their campus, with some GREAT deals. It is open year round, so it's a great place to shop, anytime. HOWEVER. At Christmas, the deals are even sweeter because that's when they open up their 'Tent Sale'. Wow. Talk about deals, I was thinking about buying this Cars carrying case for the kids, it was only about $15 elsewhere, but still, I was on the fence about it. At the Tent sale - $5. And matching cars? 99 CENTS. I snapped that right up.

There were tons of Dora things and Barbie stuff, but I don't have girls. I'm sure they'd make great gifts, especially at 60% off retail. And seeing as how Mattel is the Home of Barbie, there are plenty of those there too. I couldn't resist taking a photo of this one to show you:
A Hello Kitty Barbie! Had I not had little pirate boys, perhaps I would buy this.

From now until Christmas they offer extra deals - every day, better than the next. In addition you can add coupons and save even more. It's definitely worth a trip down there, since it is the main company, new stock is added everyday. Moral of the story, you don't need to trample people at Walmart to give your kid a good Christmas. Take it easy peeps. Sheesh.

The Mattel Toy Store
333 Continental Blvd.
El Segundo, CA 90245

Mon. – Sat., 9am to 6pm.
Fri., 10am to 8pm
Sun., 12pm to 5pm

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I wish you would stop rubbing that lamp in that creepy way.


Tonight's Office had me laughing from the beginning to the very end. I read that a lot of people hated this episode, but the funny, sad and cringe-worthy parts made it so reminiscent of the original BBC Office, I think that's why I loved it so much.

I guess people just want happy, dumb, typical American comedies, but the British ones really get them right. I think it's the mix of character emotions that make you feel something more for the series than just a weekly ha-ha. Seems like around the holidays, people always lose their sense of humor.

While I am no Toby fan, when he turned that Princess Unicorn around I. WAS. DYING. Also when Michael was chasing Meredith around the parking lot! That Kate Flannery is pure comedy. Promo-wise, I see Dunder Mifflin shot glasses and Princess Unicorn dolls flooding the market.

Meanwhile, on 30 Rock, I feel like this show hit it on the mark too. I laughed and laughed, where last week's Liz Lemon reunion fiasco, again, left me a little cold. But this week, oh this week cracked me up. Great lines, great characters, but I still don't get how they can play up Liz Lemon being fat and unattractive when in actuality it seems to me like Tina Fey is losing weight and wearing tighter clothes every episode. However I cracked up at the fact that she had a framed picture of a plate of food on her office wall.

Nothing to do with Thursday night, but is anyone still watching Top Chef? That 'old lady' who keeps winning is 31 years old? Jigga please, she looks more like 51.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Learn to love me. Assemble the ways.
Now, today, tomorrow and always.

Going to the market lately has become a task. A big overwhelming daunting task. Especially when the kids come with me. AND especially now that it's 'The Season'. That's what the cashier at Trader Joe's called it when I went there and every single checkout was 10 people deep. It prompted me to just yell out loud exasperated-like, right there in the cornichon aisle, 'WHAT THE HELL!?'

As you may or may not know, wrangling two kids out of car seats, into jackets, across a busy parking lot, while one (the Baby) tries to run away and yells "YOU'LL NEVAH TAKE ME ALIVE!!!!", and then into an even busier store - is not easy. So once I'm inside...there's no turning back. We HAVE to stay put.

Instead of racing around, I saunter up and down the aisles. Slowly. In hopes that the crowds will die down and then I can checkout with ease. I pass the organic fruits. Stop and smell the cheeses. Take the kids to the 'free sample' counter. But no. My plan does not work. Instead the lines get LONGER. And the 'free samples' consist of Carrot Juice and lemongrass eggrolls that both (according to the Kid) 'Taste deescuzting."Suddenly he's French.

So what is the outcome of all of this? More crap in my cart that I probably wouldn't have picked up in the first place. This could become a series, I pick up so much junk that I wouldn't have otherwise. After the wonderful life changing chocolate croissant that I got last time, when I spied these MINI Pecan Pies, I almost melted right there in the freezer section. You had me at mini. Let's get married.I had been hankering for pecan pie but did NOT want to make it. I get lazy around the holidays. I cook so much all year I figure it's the holidays when other people who don't normally cook can really get it on. Not me. So I took the pies home. "Just defrost," it said. Are you kidding me? Much like with the croissant, I was skeptical. But once again, it was MAGICAL. Delicious. The perfect ratio of filling to crust. WOW. Fabulous.

In the end I finally did make it out of the store. The kids said, "Can we have stickers?" The cashier said, "What's the magic word?" By that point I wanted to say, "The magic word is f*ck off." I was completely over this horrible shopping experience already. But the kids, who are better than their mother, said, "PLEASE." And they got their stickers.

As we exited, the Baby took off screaming, "YOU'LL NEVAH TAKE ME ALIVE!"...again. Yeah, yeah. We heard you coming in.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.

Continuing on from yesterday, so you've got these blank gingerbread houses, right?

Every year I tell my mom we should just leave 'em be and making it a ghetto gingerbread 'hood and call it a day. A dessert shanty town, if you will. But we always give in because the fun is just beginning!!There are TONS of ways you can decorate. Over the years we've come up with a few tried and true things that really work.Necco wafer roofs. Always traditional. Very stately. A quaint pretzel bridge. A little fish pond - cute and also savory! We've done so many that it's always fun to look back for inspiration. I was in the candy aisle at the market to buy candy, not to decorate. What can I say, I've got needs, ok? And the family next to me were deliberating over what to make their chimney out of for their gingerbread house. "Pretzels? Twix?" WHAT. STOP. PLEASE. I wanted to go over there and tell her, 'Never use chocolate on a house! Square tootsie rolls make a nice quick chimney, woman!" But I didn't. I didn't want to look like a candy freak, which I totally am. Even during the summer months, I go down the aisle and I don't see candy, I see building pieces to build my dream home. Out of...candy.

For tons more ideas, go to :
Gingerbread House decor how-to

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Inside my heart, inside this house, and I just want to let it out for you

I have been making gingerbread houses for years. I mean years and years, so much that people were asking for business cards and how to place orders. Only...I didn't have a business. My mom and I just did it for fun. As with most things, when the demand grows high, it becomes...not so fun. Sadly, we've curtailed our family tradition of making houses in recent years, although I still plan to do Falling Water in gingerbread someday.So here's a little 'how-to' on gingerbread house assembly. I am not a fan of the glue the graham cracker to the milk container, only because we all know someone is going to eat that thing, so - bad idea. Also my mom is a stickler for the fact that EVERYTHING within the house has to be edible. It's technically challenging. Maybe it's the architect in me but I demand that my walls be stable and able to withstand a high psi load of candy. Meaning - an a$$ ton of candy. But more on that tomorrow.

For today, it's all about structure, baby.Gingerbread House assembly, how-to

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Under the sea

So the restaurant where I had the best meal in the park? Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure. Now there's a reason I have never been there, it's a special luncheon...WITH PRINCESSES. And seeing as how I have two boys, well, it was just never on my radar.

But I pass it everytime I go, and I've always wanted to try it. However, being a character lunch, you have to make reservations. This time I thought ahead, and thought what the heck, let's try it. It's a seafood themed restaurant, which makes sense since it's on the wharf. And...Ariel's a fish, or something...right?The whole joy of the place is getting to spend time with the Princesses. Belle. Snow White. Jasmine (who I think must do an ab workout video on the side, damn!). And Cinderella. They all come by your table. As you can expect, the boys were NOT having it. Instead, they were focused on the food.

The meal comes with a three tiered antipasto platter for the table to share, which I loved, but then again, I love antipasto anytime. Then you choose your own entree. While the menu was mostly seafood, there were other meat-type offerings, thank goodness for the meat lovers, my cousin and the Baby. I had the redfish which was DELICIOUS. The kid's plates weren't bad either. The Kid was thrilled to eat chicken off of a sugar cane skewer (I need to do that at home) and the Baby's eyes widened at 'meatball lollipops' (again, will try at home). Finally there is a shared dessert platter with lots of chocolate AND white chocolate, thank goodness for the Kid's sake.

While the prices are definitely HIGH, at least I there is an annual pass discount. This is really one of the best 'character' restaurants in the two parks. Not only for the experience, but the food was fantastic. It would be a great place to go once if you had a little girl who loved the Disney Princesses. But with two little pirate boys? Eh, we probably won't be back. As the Baby told Snow White, 'WE DON LIKE GURLS.' Nice.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Clark: This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest for fun. We're all gonna have so much fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles.

There were plans to go on a 'real' vacation, honest. To a far away location like...San Diego. HA. But things haven't been going as planned lately, and when my mom offered up the idea of two nights at the Disneyland Hotel as a vacation, well - I jumped at the chance. I know people are sick of hearing that I am always at Disneyland, but with my mom and cousin doing the bulk of the watching of the kids during the stay, I felt like that was vacation in itself.

And it was. It was a major relief to have another set of hands around, however when it came time for poopin', suddenly the kids were all mine again. This is why I don't have pets. I hate taking care of poop. Someday these kids will do it on their own, but for now, I feel like it's 80% of my life.

In any case, here are some trip highlights, because my life is nothing but bullet points...:

Good: Weekdays in winter mean NO lines. Take my advice. Thursdays rock.
Bad: Pinocchio NEVER has a line. But no one likes that ride. Mr. Toad? Always backed up. Proving once again, that people would rather go to Hell, rather than spend time with puppets.

Yum: The Kid ate like a champ. Chowing down two full buffet plates. This from a kid who says, "I'll just have cheese for dinner."
Ew: I had to scold the Baby for LICKING the outdoor theme park furniture. Why the...What.

Fat: We rode on the new Small World boats for fat people. Well, not really, but since people are fat, they had to get new boats. They are small and plastic-y. Much like the miniature people inside the ride. As the Kid told people in line, "This is my mom's favorite ride because she just goes to sleep."
Fatter: I ate, probably the best meal I have had at Disney, in a place I've never been to before. (More later.) However, the next day - in one hour I consumed fried chicken, soda, cotton candy, and a chocolate caramel bar. I am making myself sick just typing this.

Funniest thing I heard: The Baby go up to the Churro cart and announce to the man, "I'M HERE FOR CHURROS. YOU KNOW WAHT? YOU KNOW WHY THEY ARE GOOD? CUZ OF THE CINNAMUN."
Saddest thing I heard: "I thought you were watching him!" I saw not one, but two sets of parents LEAVE their kids and just walk away. One was in a stroller! What the hell peeps?

Score: I got the LAST Peter Pan hat...of them all! They pulled all of them off every shelf in every store because...they ran out of feathers. Can you believe that? When I grabbed one for the Baby, the cashier said, "That's the last one in all of Disneyland."
Bore: I could do without it, but we watched the parade, followed by fireworks, followed by the ever popular 'snow' on Main Street. It's amazing that people from the East Coast are so enthralled with it, it's just soap! I told the kids to keep their mouth closed so they don't get diarrhea.

Daredevil: The Kid measured himself everyday and finally he is now 40". Barely. He easily got on Star Tours (I love me some Star Wars, so I was thrilled) and Splash Mountain. He is still 6 inches short of Indiana Jones. It's gonna be a while, kid.
Scaredy Cat: The Baby JUST made 36" and can now ride the Matterhorn like a big boy. He got one look at that Bigfoot and freaked the hell out. I think he'll be staying on the kiddie rides.

Packing heat: I loved packing for trips. Loved. Pre-children. Now I have like a jillion bags packed to the gills for any emergency that might come my way. What happened to my one-bag and go life? And how the heck did HaHa and the dino get themselves a sweet ride in a very, VERY expensive Stella McCartney bag? Unfair.
Packing light: We saw people swimming in the pool at 7 at night. It was 50 degrees and dropping, outside. Definitely more than chilly. I did not get that. My cousin claims it's because "they are probably from Nebraska and think it's hot." I dunno. I was freezing my a$$ off.

There was more of course, but that was our trip in a nutshell. It was a mighty fine vacation, and just in time to keep me from going postal before the holidays. Now I just need to make it to Christmas...

See all the pics here.

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