Friday, November 21, 2014

what i ate #19

Just busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. 

Birthday party to plan, holidays to sort out, parents having surgery (Everyone is fine!), dogs to train, a house to build, libraries to volunteer in, an author website to build, a book to publish……like I said, busy busy busy. 

But there's always time to eat!

I've been trying hard to stick to my no sugar, no wheat, no dairy policy. Halloween threw me for a loop, but I'm back on track. And thank goodness Starbucks now offers coconut milk! Coconut milk lattes are delicious!!

Here's a few things I've had over the last few weeks:

There's been no shortage of pomegranates over here and I've been trying to incorporate them into everything I eat! (we are even adding a pomegranate tree at our new house)

kabocha squash soup with pomegranate and pepitas

kabocha squash is my absolute favorite. The pepitas add a nice crunch and the pomegranates give it a pop of flavor. 

This has become my go to salad. In the photo below you'll see I've substituted roasted broccoli for the cauliflower. Whatever is in the fridge. What I love about this salad are all the interesting flavors and textures together: apple, cabbage, herbs, radishes and scallions….

These lamb meatballs sprinkled with mint and pomegranate are so good! Substitute turkey for lamb. Add some heat and dip in a yogurt sauce to cool your mouth. 

Cod with raw beet and carrot salad. Stick an edible flower on a plate and I'm sold. 

Friday, November 14, 2014


Look who is behind schedule again? Moi!

I've been distracted. Building a website for my impending novel release (May 15th) oh and building a house. 
What? Yes, we are moving about ten minutes from where we live now. I have been tasked with tile choices, so I've been swimming in tiles lately. Who knew there were so many choices?!?!?! We're pretty much sticking with a classic look, but there are some fun tiles I'm excited to show you that will be in our kitchen (think white, 3D tiles) and in our bathroom (green diamonds in a chevron pattern). 

Anyhow….here are a few photos from Halloween. Slim pickings as my camera phone ran out of space. My dad took some on his camera, but I haven't had a chance to get those from him yet, so you're left with Mr. P.'s homemade jester costume and the dogs as a taco and a camel!

I have to say, that jester costume was by far the easiest costume I've ever made. I constructed it as a vest so he just had to wear a long sleeve black t-shirt underneath. Stay tuned for Doodle's knight costume!!

Friday, October 31, 2014

happy halloween!

Even though there's rain predicted in L.A. tonight, it's not going to stop us from having fun! The only thing scarier than a rainy Halloween is our crazy drought!

Here was this morning's costumes in action. No, I did not sew these costumes. 

But I did sew tonight's costume change!!! Photo to follow. 

The teachers all joined in in a Thriller flashmob choreographed dance that was amazing! Making braised short ribs and kabocha squash soup for dinner before we get out there. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Underwood Farms

I think this was our 8th year at Underwood Family Farms. 

Same kids, same gags.

But this time, we brought the puppy.

We now have pumpkins for days!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

very pinteresting: hanging bat

We made these hanging bats from a project on Pinterest. I didn't have any black fuzzy material, so instead, I recycled some fabric from Doodle's elephant costume from last year's Halloween. 

They're cute, these bats! And very easy to make. Click here for the tutorial. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

very pinteresting: body parts in a jar

I needed something for the Halloween table. Something spooky. Something vaguely disgusting. And I found it in the form of these body parts in faux formaldehyde. 

So spooky. So gross. So easy!!!

Click here for the original instructions I found on Pinterest. 

My ratio for the lime green liquid was about four drops of yellow to one drop of green food coloring. 

The body parts were just assembled from a pile of bones and body parts I've collected over the years. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

fish tank and glow in the dark pants

Doodle requested a tank top (he loves to sleep in them) with a fish on it, so I sewed him this:

They go nicely with his new, glow in the dark astronaut pajama bottoms I made!

And they make him act a little silly. Maybe it's not the new pajamas. Maybe it's just him. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dried Pears

We're still as enamored with our organic produce delivery box after a year. Everything gets eaten. The fruit goes into smoothies and gets snacked on. The veggies get roasted, sauteed and hidden in smoothies and green juices. Anything leftover gets placed with homemade chicken stock in the slow cooker for Sunday night soup. 

I was looking for something to snack on in the movie theater (we went to see Book of Life this weekend) since Paleo dictates popcorn is out, so I decided to try some dried / dehydrated pears. 

I don't own a dehydrator (and please don't take this as a hint to get me one…) but the oven, set to a low temperature, works just fine. 

I sliced the pear thinly using a mandolin (a gadget I will keep!) I soaked the sliced in a mixture of water and fresh lemon juice to prevent the pears from oxidizing and turning brown for about ten minutes. Setting the oven to 160, I placed the sliced on a baking sheet sprayed with coconut oil and baked them for about six hours. 

I took the pears off the pan before they cooled and then placed them into a plastic bag for the theater. They were crunchy and delicious!!! I think they could even have used an additional hour if you like them super crunchy. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

halloween costumes, continued….

So, after watching Project Runway, I was inspired to try and sketch out the boys' Halloween costumes. Tim Gunn would tell me my proportions are all off, but here you go…one knight and one jester. 

I had fun planning these costumes with the kids. They chose the color schemes and Doodle accompanied me to the fabric store to pick out materials. I went with mostly felt for the costumes as it's pretty sturdy, easy to work with and forgiving. 

We'll see how it all shakes out!

candy wine pairings

I love this chart found on the Kitchn. It helps you pair wine with Halloween Candy:

Halloween just got even more fun. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

duck in cherry reduction

Recently, I discovered an incredible, old fashioned butcher in Santa Monica. If you're local, it's called A Cut Above.

They have absolutely everything here, all so beautifully laid out. And the best part is, their meat and poultry is all hormone free, free range and locally sourced. They are so passionate about their product and have been very patient with me when I ask them all of my questions.

And their products are cheaper than Whole Foods.

They also sell chicken carcasses! What in the world would I want that for?? I've been making my own bone broth lately! (recipe to follow soon).

They make their own bacon!

And the last time I was there, they were selling something called lamb bacon. I haven't tried it yet, but I am definitely intrigued!

They also have a sandwich bar if you're looking for prepared food.

Anyhow, I decided to try making duck for the first time, so I came here to get it. I ended up making duck breast in a cherry reduction sauce with sautéed cabbage.  It was delicious! My 5 year old loved it so much he asked for it the next day both in his snack and in his lunch.

With all the new evidence coming out about how we're creating superbugs and resistance to antibiotics by pumping our meat and poultry full of antibiotics, I think it's an important discovery to find a quality and affordable hormone / antibiotic free, local butcher!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Halloween Tutorials

As I am planning this year's costumes for the boys, I thought I'd take the time to share photos and tutorials from Halloweens past in case any of you are looking for inspiration!

Here is a super simple tutorial for a bat T-shirt (although you could use the embellishment on anything…pillow cases? Tablecloth??)

If you're thinking of a Harry Potter Theme, check out my Wizarding Robe tutorial!

A wizarding wand to go along with your robe:

How about some easy spiders? Great for the under five crowd:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

see kate sew lookbook

As I was sewing the collar of my very first handmade coat this morning, I said to myself, "Never again. I will never make a coat again!"

And then I saw this newly released photo of See Kate Sew's ICON coat

Looks like I'll be in for one more coat (if I ever finish my current Collete Pattern one!) The 80 degree Los Angeles weather has certainly not been motivational. See Kate Sew's coat is done in herringbone (Which is what I'm using for my current coat) so I'll have to find another fun print. 

I also really like the DREAMER TOP made out of knit. She swears it's really easy! I like easy! 

And this two-toned ZIPPY top is so fun!!!

Can't wait to pre-order these paper patterns and get to work on a fall wardrobe! (If only fall would ever get here!!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

aip diet

September was crazy! In addition to the transition of getting the kids back in school, resuming my writing schedule, working on my forthcoming novel….the kids got sick, then I got sick and three weeks later, I'm still under the weather! This superbug is not so super!!

On September 2 I made a commitment to try the AIP diet for at least three weeks. AIP stands for Auto Immune Protocol and is recommended for people struggling with any sort of autoimmune disease. My goal is to avoid going on conventional rheumatoid arthritis meds for as long as possible, so I was highly motivated to try AIP. 

The idea is that foods can cause inflammation in your body, which can manifest, trigger or contribute to autoimmune diseases. If you can isolate your personal triggers and remove them from your diet, you can lessen or even get rid of your symptoms! Who wouldn't want that??

What I can eat: protein, fruit, vegetable, olive oil, coconut oil 
What I can't eat: dairy, wheat, alcohol, sugar, coffee, nuts, seeds, processed foods, grains, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant)….I'm sure I'm missing things, but you get the idea. 

Sounds hard?? Well, it was….at first! But after 8 days, joints pain that I would have previously described as a scream morphed in to a whisper. It was kind of amazing! Three weeks in to the diet, I ended up eating out for my husband's birthday at a really nice restaurant. Not wanting to be the pain-in-the-ass at the dinner party, I just ate without asking questions. The pain was back the next morning. 

So now, I'm back on track. what began as a 30 experiment is quickly turning into a new way of life. The idea is to try and reintroduce foods one at a time and see what I react to. I've been okay with coffee in small doses and okay with a glass of red wine. I tried popcorn and immediately had major gastrointestinal pain, so that's out for now. 

Anyhow, in case you were feeling sorry for me and all the food depravation…..look through the recipes I've been using below! I've been eating like a queen!!!!

Chicken Florentine Spaghetti Squash

Crispy Sweet Potato Noodles

Roasted Fennel and Artichoke Hearts

Carnitas atop yucca cakes with avocado cream

Lime Ginger Coconut Chicken

Coconut Crusted Cod

Korean Short Ribs

Roasted Cauliflower with Figs and Olives

Not feeling so sorry for me anymore…huh???

Thursday, September 25, 2014

costume decision

The boys have finally made a commitment to their Halloween costumes! At first, they were hellbent on being something from Guardians of the Galaxy. This didn't make me so happy. Not that there's anything wrong with it, per se, but they are too young to see that movie, so I wanted them to pick something that they had an actual connection with, not be some covetous PG-13 movie character. 

The kids have always had two costumes at Halloween. One, they wear to their school parade and the other, they wear for trick-or-treating. This way, they don't get sick of their costume with all the parties that happen around that time. So this year, they decided to be hockey players for school (that's easy, since they play roller hockey and have all the gear and props) and for the actual day, they decided on a medieval theme. Mr. P. opted to be a jester, Doodle, a knight, which leaves some sort of queen / princess costume for me (which is highly laughable as I've NEVER dressed up as a princess in my entire life) and a dragon or king for Mr. Meremade. We're hoping the dogs will enjoy being unicorns. 

So, now I'm researching different inspirations for home sewn medieval costumes. The good news is we have some masks and armor, swords and I think even a jester hat. Mr. P. has requested and purple, black and white color scheme and Doodle wants gray and turquoise. 

Looks like my home sewn jacket will have to be put on the back burner for at least another month or so. 
Luckily it's 80's degrees out here. 

What are your kids dressing up as for Halloween?? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Strays cover has arrived!!

In case you were wondering why I've been m.i.a. lately, this should help explain. I've been feverishly working on rewrites for my new young adult novel, slated to arrive in May. 

Today, the official cover arrived in my inbox and I'm thrilled to be sharing it with you!!

It is getting me very excited for the book's release!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oahu with kids

Well, this may go down as the most delinquent blog post I've ever written. But I'm here today posting about our spring break to Oahu! The photos were all taken on a different camera and every time I went to upload the photos to my computer, the camera would go missing. It was like someone was playing a trick on me. Well, I finally found the camera (don't ask where), uploaded the photos and I'm ready to share our Hawaiian adventures!

I hadn't been to Oahu since I was too young to remember. We don't often go on destination vacations (my husband's busy work schedule only allows for weekend trips) but if we can make it work, Kauai is our favorite place to be. This year, we decided to switch it up and try a new island, Oahu, mostly because that's where the Disney's Aulani hotel is and we figured in a year or two this would no longer be a draw for the boys.

The hotel itself is beautiful! Situated right on the water. But I had no idea how huge Oahu was! When we go to Kauai, there is a tiny two lane highway. Oahu was more like Los Angeles with a sprawling freeway system and tons of traffic!!

The hotel offered a little scavenger hunt to get familiar with the grounds. The faux mountain in the background reminded me of the big thunder mountain ride at Disneyland. 

The hotel offered free day care - no reservations necessary. In addition, they offered a host of "classes" that you had to register early for. People were in line by 7 am to register. Thank goodness L.A. time was three hours ahead. I'd wake up, get coffee, secure seats by the beach and then get in that horrendous line to sign them up. I did this a few times. They ended up taking a comedy class, volcanic eruption and a science class (with Disney characters). 

The hotel had a huge pool with a water slide and a lazy river. They also had am amazing kids water structure that was the boys' favorite. 

They even had their own snorkeling lagoon stocked with fish in case the ocean was too intimidating. We checked it out:

I prefer the ocean. And we spent plenty of time there as well, snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding and relaxing!

My dermatologist would be proud of how much I covered up. I mean, really proud!

We visited the Dole Pineapple Maze - touted as the world's largest maze. It was SO hot that day! I think we were all a little grumpy. You get a card and have to find all six stamps throughout the maze and stamp your card. 

The dole whips at the end were well worth the work. 

My favorite part of the trip was our visit to Waimea Falls. It's in the middle of a beautiful botanical garden. 

After a mile or two, you get to the falls. You have to wear a life vest. The water was SO cold. Mr. P. refused to go in. But I got Doodle to wade out with me. We should have brought water shoes, because it was pretty rocky down there. 

And then, we were under a roaring waterfall!!! (see the two little dots at the bottom?)

We went to La Mariana Tiki Bar for dinner one night. It's a bit of a drive down at the old Marina. The whole place looks like a tiki hut frozen in time. 

Was he scared of the pu pu platters?

The boys loved relaxing in their room and ordering room service. We spent hours playing the card game, Munchkin. The hotel also played a Disney movie about every other night, screened on the big lawn outside. Since our room overlooked the lawn, the kids were able to see the movie from the balcony. 

They also relaxed in the tub:

We hit up the famous Matsumoti Shave ice in Haleiwa. 

And dim sum in Chinatown:

We really did try to avoid the "character buffet." Every time I spotted a Disney character wandering around the pool area being silly, I was reminded that I am not a resort person! But, the last morning the kids were hungry and we had exhausted all other breakfast options, so we sucked it up and went for it. The kids loved being able to grab whatever they wanted to eat (and I loved the Asian breakfast!) And the acai bowl was also a favorite. 

Inevitably, the characters came wandering around for photos. The kids obliged. 

And then we even took a family photo….although, as you can see, we just aren't big Goofy fans. 

There were big, white puffy clouds:

And small moments of pure bliss:

But next year, it's back to small, quiet, Disney character-free Kauai for us!!

Places we went:

Dole Pinapple Maze
Waimea botanical gardens and waterfall
La Mariana Sailing Club and restaurant
Monkey Pod Kitchen
Nubu Oahu
Aulani Disney Resort
Matsumoto Shave Ice

Places we wanted to go:

Leanard's Bakery
Children's Discovery Center
Byodo-In Temple
Diamond Head Crater