Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lemon Week: Day 1

I woke up one morning and there on my porch was a bag with a mysterious note. Before I could shake my fist and yell 'You meddling kids!' I noticed that inside the bag were lemons. Turns out just like last year, the Lemon Fairy left me a freakin' huge bag of lemons.

I simply can't let these go. I can't let them rot or just put them down the disposal - this stuff is liquid gold. I MUST use them. I WILL use them. Therefore, LEMON WEEK. Think of it as 24, but 5 days, and no Grandpa Bauer, and with lemons. Ok, it's not like 24 at all.

The first recipe is an easy one and a useful one - lemon sugar. You'll be amazed at how much this adds to your baking. I know, it's kind of a weak 'recipe', but hey, I've got to get through 5 more days of this. Stay tuned...

Lemon Sugar recipe, here.


Say what?

Wow! You guys are crazy fancy with your luncheon dessert needs! Thanks for the input - it's extremely helpful!

If you follow my twitter or facebook you know I debuted these gift sets this week...they make really fun gifts but mostly I just like the fact that I can write crazy stuff in there like 'Don't forget to pick me up from school!' 'I NEED CHEESE.' Yes, I have no life.

'Say What' gift sets
8 flat cards + envelopes
40 page notepad


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Michael: Here is a Kelly complaint. Ryan never returns my calls. Well, join the club.

I'm conducting some very important research. Please GO HERE and answer this question. Thanks!

So I complain a lot, I know I do. Yet, I hate when other people complain and I am always telling my kids: NO WHINING.

I guess they took that to heart because for tonight's After Dinner Art - I saw the Kid furiously using tape and chopsticks to make...something.

After I finished washing the dishes I laughed out loud. He had made tons of these signs, for what I have no idea:

It cracked me up but what the heck am I supposed to do with them? He said I was supposed to hold it up whenever people complain. OK... I guess I'll be keeping them in my purse to hold up at a moment's notice. At the gas station, at the post office, heck I'll just wave them at passing cars on the freeway.

Have a good weekend, and remember - NO WHINING.

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Kenneth: "Mr. Baker wants to do everything for himself. I feel about as useless as a mom's college degree."

Ok. It's Thursday. I've got nothing to say. It's probably this pounding in my head from my darn tooth, and I only have two painkillers left. Calgon, take me away.

I have pie on the brain and in my mind have been coming up with a lot of recipes. I saw this thing and loved it purely for the name: Pie Gate. What.

Pie Gate!!! Get off my lawn, I've got a pie gate and I'm not afraid to use it!

Some very exciting news - you can now find justJENN designs stationery at The Local Collection in the Glendale Galleria!

The Local Collection is a concept store within the mall, directly across from Nordstrom. It is filled with hand picked local designers who were chosen for their unique style and designs. It's an honor to be selected for this new venture, stop by when in you're in GlenDALLLE - and take a look. Shop locally! You can read more about the Local Collection, here.

Ok, my favorite cookie in the world is the Black and White. They are more like cakes in texture than cookies - which is probably why I adore them, so. The ones from New York are the best, but you CAN make them yourself at home. I promise.

Lately several friends of mine have been making them and they are all doing the same thing - frosting the wrong side of the cookie. It doesn't make sense in your brain, since cookies are always rounded, but the fact is, the side that is to be iced is the bottom, or the flat side. And they sort of rest on their little round bottoms.

So after you bake them, you FLIP THEM OVER to frost. One side of the flat side with a white icing. The other side of the flat side with a chocolate icing. Whatever. Just bring them over, I'll eat them all.

Mini Black and White cookies how-to, here.

Along with those random thoughts I leave you with a picture of an ice cream sandwich from MILK. Delicious ice cream sandwiched between two huge macarons (love) dipped in chocolate. Yes...I ate it for breakfast.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I do have a test today. It's on European socialism. I'm not European. I don't plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they're socialists?

Aside from parties, people rarely just come over for dinner. That's because it usually takes the Kid and eternity to finish a meal and then you have to listen to the Baby recount the history of Batman while you eat. This is...daily. But tonight I asked the Food Librarian to come over 'cause I wanted to test out my new pie recipe on her (more on that later) and I also invited her to stay for dinner.

Not only that, I knew I wanted to make something with mochi and we all know she loves mochi. Back on New Year's we made so much mochi at her house (250 pounds) that I didn't need to make any at home, so I have this bag of unused mochi rice just sitting here. I decided to make some meatballs with it, and served them with some somen noodles and edamame.

I should just invite people over and test recipes on them all the time. Heck, I get a babysitter out of it for a couple of hours, at least.

Not only that the Food Librarian also got an impromptu lesson in Bakugan, something totally useful to her, I'm sure. I think she enjoyed her dinner, but was disappointed that she didn't get a compartmentalized plate. What can I say, you gotta grow up sometime.

Mochi rice meatballs recipe, here.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I’m smooth like that
I jive like that
I roll like that

So...I'm toothless. An old filling gave way after all these years and took half of my tooth with it. I believe this was the cause of my pain for months last year - one that the dentist MIS-diagnosed as 'stress'. Oh well.

There was no saving this thing, so surgery was in order. Major surgery. I was awake for the whole thing, and let's just say I prefer that dentists do not give a play by play when they are cracking your tooth and pulling it out by the root, thanks.

I'm supposed to be taking it easy on the tooth though I am craving tacos like mad. It just so happens the Kid is on a smoothie kick lately and offered to draw me up a recipe right quick. I went to get the blender and when I turned around he'd sketched out every detail that I was to follow for the perfect smoothie. That boy is fast.

Following his exact instructions, the recipe came out pretty darn good. Now I need him to make me something that tastes like a taco. My poor toof.

The Kid's Berry Smoothie recipe, here.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Son don't let these streets get the best of you

Saturday morning the Kid woke me up at 6am - very concerned about Haiti. An hour later the Baby woke up - very concerned about wanting BBQ for breakfast. While both problems were different, I had a solution.

Saturday was the Food Trucks for Haiti event in West L.A. 20+ food trucks from around Los Angeles were to park on one street with portions of their profits going to the American Red Cross.
We got there right as it opened and thank goodness, because it filled up fast. Having 20 trucks in one place is the best idea, that way all the lines are evenly spread out, and it gives you a good opportunity to walk from truck to truck to see what they are offering. A high quality mobile food court if you will.

There were so many different foods: pizza, Indian food, the Buttermilk truck had pancakes, a sushi truck, Greek food, tacos, sandwiches, ice cream, BBQ - you name it, they were parked on the street.

All the food was great, I mean REALLY great. We ate a TON. The few things that stood out was the already popular Grilled Cheese truck - the kids split a grilled cheese - $3 , and huge bag of tater tots -also $3, which was more than enough. I got a grilled pork bahn mi sandwich from the Nom Nom Truck, just $5 for a large 12" sandwich, the perfect combination of flavorful pork, carrots, cucumber and cilantro. Refreshing and easy to eat on the street.

Boy did we eat. And eat. It's way too easy to just keep going from truck to truck trying things here and there. I hope they do this more often, it was an easy way to sample all the wonderful food out there with very minimal effort.

The Kid said he had so much fun going from truck to truck and said he loved everything he ate. He was also really happy to know that in a small way we were helping a good cause. As for the Baby, I'm sure he has worldly concerns too...uh - maybe I'll ask him about them when he finishes getting his grub on.

See all that we ate, here

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Sorry Ms. Lemon, I've got the winter madness...

Time is ticking. As January draws to a close - in my mind that means March is soon to follow. What's the big deal with March? It feels like a personal deadline looming over me like a dark cloud. March will make one year since my Grandpa died and one year since I've been unemployed. I read that NYTimes article on out of work architects today and it made me a little depressed - but it's nice to know I'm not alone.

If it's not all that then it's this crazy rain. It doesn't rain in Los Angeles, and if it does it's a joke, a drizzle. But this? There was a tornado warning down the street! This is not normal. Being cooped up in the house (because there's no going out in this town when it's raining) is slowly killing my brain.

I don't want to be wasteful and turn on the heater so I did the next best thing. I turned on the oven. I searched through the pantry to find ingredients - something that I could make that would not only comfort me, but warm me and keep my mind off things.

Luckily I kept the giant bag of bread crusts from when we went on the Hello Kitty sandwich making extravaganza. I was going to feed it to the ducks at the pond but then the storm hit. Tough luck, ducks. I also found my newly unopened jar of Nutella. Ah, Nutella. My breakfast of choice everyday when I lived in Italy. Pure comfort. I was going to spread some on toast, but I had a better idea. That's when it hit me. Nutella Bread Pudding. Comforting, warm and oh so delicious.

I should teeter on the edge of sanity more often. I come up with some pretty good recipes in the end.

Nutella Bread Pudding recipe, here.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dwight: What weapon?
Andy: My bare hands.
Dwight: That is stupid. I will use a sword and cut off your bare hands.

When the Kid decided on the 'knight birthday' instead of Star Wars I really had to stop and rethink things. I had ideas of fantastic flavors for cupcakes I could make when the Kid said, "I want a chocolate cupcake. Vanilla frosting. That's it." I tried to change his mind he said, "It's my birthday. That's what I want." Hello cranky. Apparently turning 6 is like having a mid-life crisis, you want what you want.Fine. Boring. So I came up with a chocolate cupcake (similar to the vanilla ones I made for O.G. - hooray for chocolate milk!) and topped it with vanilla buttercream. I found this HUGE bag of swords from Surfas for $4.95, and while I was thinking about doing something with fondant - I passed. After all there were only 4 kids coming to this 'party' so I thought, eh - they'll just be happy with the swords. And they were - but now I have swords for days. What in the world am I going to do with all of them??

The cupcake turned out great and the Kid was SO HAPPY, which was all I wanted. Our server - I mean 'wench' (don't get me started) at Medieval Times was really impressed with the cupcakes for some reason, and said she'd never seen anything like them. She needs to stop being a wench and get out more.

Chocolatey cupcackes recipe, here.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm the King of the world!

While I thought about having a big party for the Kid's 6th birthday, it seemed like a better idea to let him choose a couple of friends and do something 'special'. With sickness and the holidays, I just wanted to ease off the parties and do something that he'd really enjoy.
Note: I said that HE'D really enjoy. After a lot of research, he decided to invite 4 good friends to go to Medieval Times. Yikes. My main problem with the place of course? No utensils. Ugh. Eating alongside animals AND having to use my hands? My worst nightmare.

However, if you sign your kid up online you get a free ticket on their birthday - not a bad deal! Not only that, I got super cheap tickets for everyone else on which made it very do-able.

The dinner was surprisingly good - the menu consisted of tomato soup, garlic bread, a LARGE HALF a chicken, ribs, potatoes and a pastry. I was shocked that the Kid ate a little of everything. Even though the food was good, I could still not get over the eating with my hands bit - and smuggled in spoons at least for my homemade dessert. Heh.

Since it was at a restaurant, there wasn't much for me to do so I made some cupcakes and packed up a goodie bag for the kids. There were only 4 of them, so I did it up BIG - foam shields and axes! Very knight-tastic. The shields were from Michael's and trust me, with two siblings fighting in the house, shields are a necessity - and I lucked out and found the axes at Target for only ONE DOLLAR. How could I pass it up?

I also put together a bag of play-doh, candies and of course my fave: GIANT POCKY. I put more than two of everything in there because I know that when you go home, there are always jealous siblings who didn't get invited to the party. Why not share the wealth and avoid a fight, I say.

The show was really entertaining. The kids were amazed that everything was happening right in front of them and they couldn't wait for 'more fighting'. Something about eating with your hands that makes you go wild, I guess.

The one downer of the night, the Baby was SICK. I mean vomit-y, like crazy sick. It was terrible. He missed out on the whole show. Fighting, animals and tons of meat to eat - all of his favorite things, and he got none of it, poor kid.

On the upside, never have I see the Kid so darn happy. He was with his friends, watching a show, cheering loudly, and just the happiest I've ever seen him. Being 6 is going to be pretty awesome.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

I find your lack of faith disturbing.

This weekend I woke up the morning of the Kid's birthday and realized...I had nothing planned.

Sure we went out with his friends the night before, but there's something about the day OF your birthday that should probably be a little more special. I didn't want to go over the top this year. He's in a new school, and after all - he's SIX now, Mommy going overboard with parties is sooo 2009. I Oh well. What can I say, I love party planning.

Anyway, I decided to make him a cake, quick like - and I remembered that I had a Darth Vader candle holder (where the candle take the place of a lightsaber, hilarious). I put together a vanilla cake but it seemed boring, so I mixed in some colors and turned it into a rainbow cake.I added some lettering - again, very quick, all this was done on a whim - and there you have it. A birthday fit for a Dark Lord. A really happy rainbow-loving Dark Lord, I guess.

Letter stenciling how-to, here.
Rainbow Cake how-to, here.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010


We're on STORMWATCH, yo. As you can tell it kinda caught me off guard, since the kids left the house in slippers - hey, it was warm in the morning. Luckily their winter coats were in the trunk.

However, this did NOT deter our plans of going to Scoops for ice cream. Brown bread ice cream was calling my name, rain or shine.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Meat is murder

I asked the Baby, "Why would you want to eat a penguin?"
His answer?
"They taste like MEAT. DELICIOUS."

Someone get PETA on the phone, quick.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jim: I ate a tuna sandwich, on my first day. So, Andy started calling me Big Tuna. ...I don't think any of them actually know my real name.

For Christmas I asked my Secret Santa for one thing: A Hello Kitty Sandwich Maker. After all I have the Hello Kitty waffle maker, Hello Kitty Toaster, Hello Kitty Ice Maker, I'd need to complete my collection, right? Well. How about this - it was only $10 at Target, so what the heck.

I excitedly opened the box to find that there were NO Hello Kitty markings on the press at all. The thing just makes plain ol' sandwiches?!? What the what. There's NO fun in that. Despite the letdown, I still set up a sandwich making extravaganza for the kids and my SIL to test this bad boy out.

I set up some cheeses, meats and pizza sauce (we were making pocket pizza sandwiches after all) and wow, did it work great! It made perfectly pressed sandwiches. However, after much testing we found that too much cheese is all kinds of bad, because cleaning this thing is a m*therf*. Think: stuck melted cheese EVERYWHERE. I hacked at it, stabbed it, scrubbed and still - I could not get it off the maker. It was pretty terrible.

While the sandwich making was a lot of fun, the clean up - well, I just don't want to relive that nightmare. I'll keep using it for sure (easy on the cheesy), but now I've got my eyes on a 'professional' one since the kids just LOVED making their own sandwiches. I'd still like a Hello Kitty face burned into mine, just sayin'.

Hello Kitty sandwich maker how-to, here.

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Melrose place

I like when my SIL comes to town. She is good company and always up for going somewhere fun. I like to show her all parts of Los Angeles and she always amazed that there is so much to do. The one place she asked to go to was the newly opened Tokidoki store. I mean new - like last month they opened - new.

When we got there she was so excited she ran out of the car and didn't even close the door. Hello - geez louise, talk about excited.

The sad thing was there wasn't much there. I did desperately covet this shirt, after all donuts + Hello Kitty is what heaven looks like to me - but I passed. The SIL, didn't find much either, in fact she left with nothing. Full of disappointment, I took her to drown her sorrows in pizza at Mozza, Mario Batali's pizzeria.

We ordered Speck Pizza, which was nothing that she was used to but she liked it a lot, thankfully. More importantly (to me) we had dessert. Too much dessert, probably. I ordered a Caramel Copetta and while she was wary of it at first it ended up being her favorite.

She decided to order gelato. Mint chip, espresso and since her fortune at New Year's was to 'TRY SOMETHING NEW', she went for...olive oil ice cream. She didn't care for it, but I LOVED IT. It was light as air and just smooth as can be.

My inlaws are gone, but my SIL is here for one more week. It may be her vacation, but it means one more week of having a live in nanny for me. Whee!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal, light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle.

O.G.'s 89th birthday was a fine one. She never wants a big deal so instead we all just 'happened' to show up for dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant. I asked her if she realized it was for her birthday and she said, 'No one's told me anything.' Yeah, right.

Afterwards we went to her house for dessert. O.G.'s favorite dessert? 'Dry white cake'. Seriously, could anything sound more disgusting? Yeah well there's no way I'd spend all this time developing my recipes to come up with a 'dry white cake', EW. What she means is she just likes plain vanilla cake, the end.

So instead I took vanilla cake to the extreme and made a perfect little vanilla cupcake. To make it extra vanilla-y I used lots of vanilla, vanilla sea salt AND vanilla milk. I topped it with a sprinkling of sea salt and a little sugared heart hanging off the side.

My SIL said these were so good that I shouldn't give the recipe away. That's a nice compliment. True, there are some recipes that never give away (see: red velvet) but I know sometimes a good vanilla cake is hard to come by, why not share it.

While O.G. hates frosting, my Uncle on the other hand won't touch a cupcake unless it has equal amounts of frosting AND cake. And since he usually refuses my cupcakes since I'm light on the frosting, this time I went overboard to insure that he'd eat them. It worked, however O.G. wondered why it was her birthday and she didn't get the cake she wanted. Eh. You can't please everyone, especially on their...birthday. Oops.

Very Vanilla cupcakes recipe, here.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Welcome to paradise

The thing about kids birthdays is you can sign up for some pretty cool free stuff. Meals are the best 'cause we can feel like we are living large when in fact I am just going for the discount. Shh.

The Kid's birthday is coming up so he got his 'free birthday meal' postcard in the mail from King's Hawaiian. They have a lot of great local food and some fantastic breakfasts.

Usually weekends are packed but we lucked out and the wait was short - but it was hard to bypass all those wonderful sweets in the bakery case. Man just look at the those cakes. Chiffon cakes, dobash cakes, pastries, donuts - you name it. The Baby was literally licking the glass. Note to self: Don't ever lean on the glass in a bakery. Ew.

We were seated next to the big fish tank A MUST for people with kids. It really keeps them occupied while waiting for your food.

After we ate the Kid not only got a free birthday meal, but a free slice of PARADISE cake. Oh lord. There is nothing better. The cake is light as air and the tastiest thing ever. I wanted to eat it all myself, but sadly it was not my birthday.

The kids had a great time and even my SIL who is FROM Hawaii enjoyed the food, so that's a plus. We'll be back, but mostly just so I can eat cake...

What is a Paradise Cake, here.
More King's Hawaiian pictures, here.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

If you don't like my lyrics you can press fast forward

The Kid made this card for O.G.'s birthday and he wrote it all by himself, and I can't stop laughing.
I swear this is the best card ever written.
He needs a job at freakin' Hallmark.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dwight:Michael would like trick candles for his birthday cake, so make that a priority.
Phyllis: Where do we get those?
Dwight: Not my problem.

Today is O.G.'s 89th birthday. I took her to breakfast and told her she could choose anywhere she wanted and I wouldn't complain. (That was probably the real present right there, me not complaining.) She chose IHOP, which I am kind of EH about, but whatever THIS IS ME NOT COMPLAINING.
So we headed there to which she said, 'Wow! They make good pancakes!' Hello, we weren't at the International House of Steaks, of course they'd make good pancakes, why is this a shock?

After that I was all set to take her home when she decided 'Hey let's exercise and go for a walk.' Lord. I don't walk anywhere I own a car. Of course this is also why she is a spry 89 years old and I am almost half dead in my 30s.

Luckily she just wanted to walk around the local farmer's market. That works for me. It was 75 degrees in January, so the weather was perfect. The flowers were in bloom and the fruit was gorgeous. I know the rest of the country is in a deep freeze, but here by the beach we are livin' large.

At the end of the day she just wanted me to stay and hang out. As much as she hates her birthday I know that she is particularly lonely since my Grandpa died. I was happy to sit with her and let her enjoy her birthday. As long as exercise wasn't involved. Screw that.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Don't make me feel any colder, time is like a clock in my heart

Whenever I have a party I tend to over-buy on the Hawaiian sweet bread rolls. Perhaps it's because I know we will always eat them. The Kid takes them in his school lunch, we have them for breakfast toasted with butter - they are just good to have around.

This time I had an entire bag left - and since it was sitting out during the party, it was nice and hard. Ew, right? I was going to toss it, but technically they were still good, just that they had the life sucked out of them by being dried out by the air.

So I thought I'd cut it up and made a quick Baked French Toast out of it. Perfect for...dinner. Yes, we are eating breakfast for dinner again. The kids have no idea what time it is anymore. I'm sure this is what is screwing up the Baby's sleep schedule.

He has been staying up later and later, no urge to sleep AT. ALL. You know the drill. He pretends he is thirsty and needs water. Then he needs a different pillow. Then he needs to change his shirt. Then he needs to describe which Batman outfit is for which activity. Whatever. Not fallin' for it. So I hold my breath, trying not to get angry (TRYING). Turning off the lights, rudely ignoring him, just hoping for him to sleep.

Since I draw at night he sometimes just gives up and crashes out on the ground next to my desk. It's dark so for fun I put orange cones around him. HAW. Screwing with your kids while they are sleeping, ah the fun of parenting.

I remember being a kid and wanting to stay up late too. I thought there was so much action going on. Not really. Sleep is precious. I shoulda just caught my zzz's when I had the time.

Baked Sweet Bread French Toast recipe, here.
Maple Syrup Bacon recipe, here.

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