Monday, July 30, 2012

what I ate #3 - vegan party

Are you sick of reading about what I ate? Well, I'm sicking of eating, so this will be the last one of these for a while....

One of my closest friends from grad school is a vegan. She used to be a sort of in, give her a glass or two of wine and she'd inch closer and closer to the cheese plate. But now, she's pretty strict. She came to dinner last week with another grad school friend so I decided to serve them a vegan meal. 

First, was this Cashew Alfredo Pasta I found on Kumi Kitchen - a vegan Facebook page. Link here to be taken to the page and then search for The Ultimate Yogi's Alfredo Pasta. 

This was such an easy and hearty meal that involved soaking cashews for hours and then blending them down with miso and water to form a paste that resembles a cheese sauce. I added some fresh herbs from the garden et voila! I would definitely make this again. Next time, I'll try it out on the kids...could be a good new source of protein. 

Then I served this avocado, tofu and seaweed salad. 

The inspiration came earlier in the day when I was picking Mr. P. up from a playdate. After his mom made me this phenomenal cappuccino (do you think she thought I was weird for whipping out my camera?):

She showed some Chinese cookbooks she had recently bought. I stumbled upon this photo and made her translate the ingredients. 

I mean, if this doesn't scream vegan dinner party, I don't know what does. Here's how you make it: avocado, firm tofu, seaweed (I used the kind I give the kids and just cut it up into strips) topped with some chili flakes, salt, pepper and sesame seeds. I poured a soy sauce / rice vinegar on top. 

For dessert I made this rhubarb snacking cake from...Smitten Kitchen (go figure). 

It was NOT vegan, which was fine because my friend came with an armful of Babycakes vegan cupcakes. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

what I ate #2 - zucchini pizza and birthday cake

I told you I cooked a lot this week. I already posted a little bit about my dad's birthday last week. But I didn't tell you what we ate! 

After a round of miniature golf and arcade games we were hungry!
I made this pizza dough from Martha Stewart's recipe and we grilled it right on the BBQ! (you can read more about pizza on the grill here.) I harvested a zucchini the size of my forearm the other day, sliced it up and added some squash blossoms. 

My husband made his famous lamb chops for dinner (not the best photo, but you get the idea)

And for dessert, Smitten Kitchen's Everyday Chocolate Cake. Sadly, there were no leftovers to bring to teachers (or have with my morning coffee.)

I wonder what he wished for? (More chocolate cake? Or more lamb chops?)

Friday, July 27, 2012

what I ate #1: buttermilk everything

Did you notice that I posted every day this week? I'm trying to make up for the lack of posts in recent months. My big note to self this summer was that I really need to lower my expectations when it comes to getting writing of any kind done. 

I've been cooking up a storm this week (3 dinners parties in 3 days?!?!) so I thought I'd kick-off all these cook-offs with a new blog section titled: what I ate. Pretty self-explanatory. And I'll link, whenever possible, to the recipes.

The first dinner was full of buttermilk. Since it expires, I tend to clump my buttermilk cooking into one week that always includes buttermilk pancakes. 

In this case, we had buttermilk roasted chicken from smitten kitchen's awesome recipe:

Then some buttermilk biscuits (perhaps a recipe in the near future?):

A happy salad: (I added garbanzo beans)

And this rhubarb snacking cake (A big hit!) also from smitten kitchen:

I brought the leftover rhubarb cake to doodle's preschool teacher lounge and apparently it went fast!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

79 candles and fold a shirt

We celebrated my dad's 79th birthday yesterday!!!

First: by playing miniature golf followed by arcade time

And then later: by sharing a wonderful meal together (more on the meal in a future post)

Did you know that the Netflix site has a section dedicated to origami one can make with the leftover part of a Netflix red envelope? I used one of their tutorials to fashion this shirt card for my dad. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

my happy salad

Bright colors make me happy. Varied textures make me happy. Both of these things in my salad makes me very happy indeed!

Hence I've titled this one my Happy Salad. 

1 bunch of kale, removed from ribs and cut into chunky pieces
1 avocado, cubed
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 large heirloom carrots sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
12 green beans sliced into 1-inch pieces
1/8 cup sesame seeds sprinkled on top

This salad goes great with either a honey mustard vinaigrette or goddess dressing. 

Eat it and be happy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

short fiction publication

Just a quickie today to share that a short story of mine is featured in the new issue of Monday Night Literary. I worked on this story during my MFA program at University of British Columbia about three years ago. It's a bizarre and humorous story about a signing gorilla who falls in love with her trainer. Have I piqued your interest?

If you're interested in a hard copy of the journal, you can purchase it through Monday Night Literary's website. (Issue 11)  If you happen to live in Northern California, the journal is for sale at the following bookstores:  City Lights Bookstore, Pegasus Fine Books or Diesel Books. If you’re in Chicago, you can go to Quimby’s. 

If you can't wait for the hard copy, you can read it right now! Over here! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

marshmallow structures

This is a fun activity that explores geometry using a delicious medium!

Materials Needed:
nothing but marshmallows (big or small) and toothpicks.

cool 3D cubes were made:

and a boat:

a galactic structure whose main purpose it to hold my coffee mug upright: 

and some family members decided that eating the activity was just way more fun:

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Congrats to Kat (#10) who has won the sun shade giveaway! I will be contacting your shortly for your shipping info! Thanks for playing, everyone!

Friday, July 20, 2012

i'm bored board

I hate the words, "I'm bored." 

I remember saying it myself when I was little and what I've gleaned is that it doesn't really mean "there's nothing to do" - it means, "I don't know what to do." 

With a lot of downtime this summer, I anticipated that these words would be uttered more than once, so in a preemptive strike, I cobbled together a Bored Board - a list of various activities the kids could do when they mentioned the dreaded "b" word. 

So here's my master list. I've divided them into arts and crafts / outings / cooking and baking / and activities. I've starred the ones we've completed so far. Feel free to add to it in the comments section!

Every Day:
*- read aloud
*- practice piano
*-write in summer journal or letters to friends

Art/ Craft  Projects:
-Popsicle stick bracelets
-summer journal
-summer treasure box

**-join library reading program

-photo walk
-nature walk
**-Farmer's Market
-Underwood Farms
-Aaron Brothers
-Light saber class
-Bus to Hammer
-Second hand store
-fly kite 
**-Kidspace Pasadena

Cooking / Baking
fruit roll ups
cinnamon pull apart bread
**basic bread
baked doughnuts
make jam
**make Popsicles

**play hopscotch
outside tent
marshmallow tooth pick fun
bubble fun
pegboard and yarn
jet pack
bird feeders
**lemonade stand
summer poetry
memorize a poem and say it to 3 people
**walk dog
organize a movie night
highlights hidden pictures
**guitar sing along
**out to movie
**bike ride
**audio book
make a pool boat
make summer photo book
make a kite
**make play-doh
make a treasure hunt for brother

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

wizarding world at home

Am I allowed to say that I like Harry Potter more than I like Star Wars? My boys are kind of obsessed with both and I try to be neutral, but I can't help myself. If they want me to read a Star Wars book to them, I make up an excuse as to why I can't. But if they want to read some Harry Potter, I'll tote that book anywhere with me....I'll read it while they bathe, at a restaurant, before bed, on the get the idea.

I recently learned that quidditch has been adopted by many universities as a legitimate sport. I've YouTubed (is that a real verb?) some of the matches to show the kids. It's kind of hysterical watching grown adults running around on broomstick, which obviously don't fly on their own so they have to hold them with one hand, which makes the whole art of the sport rather awkward.

Somehow, my parents got wind of this new sport before I did and through some random connection, they met someone who markets or distributes the quidditch brooms to players. He was kind enough to send one over to the boys! It's really just about the coolest thing! Doodlebop was very hesitant to board it the first time asking, "does it really fly?"

I sewed this wizard robe for them to wear while they ride around on their broom.

If you're interested, here are a few videos of actual University quidditch matches. I think they lobbied to be in this year's Olympics, but were denied. Maybe in four more years???

Here's UCLA playing
And Harvard
And the quidditch world cup!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

hikes are always exciting

I love hiking, but I don't make the time to do it much. You might not think of Los Angeles as a prime hiking destination, but it's really a hiker's gold mine. Because the city is surrounded by mountains, no matter which direction you head, you will hit a hiking trail (unless you go west, in which case you will just get wet.) 

While Mr. P. was at camp last week, I took a friend hiking in Temescal Canyon, just off of Pacific Palisades. We did a 4-mile loop that gave us some amazing lookout points! 

After recently finishing Cheryl Strayed's incredible autobiography, "Wild", which recounts her adventures hiking all 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest trail solo, I figured I could handle 4 puny miles. 

On our way down the hill a family was stopped at the bottom yelling, "Snake!" at us at the top of their lungs. In my panic, I created a whole scenario in my head that involved a killer rattlesnake slithering just under my foot (I think I've been reading too much Harry Potter lately) so in fear,  I grabbed my friend and we both just started shrieking as though we were being attacked by a pack of mountain lions. 

Clearly, I am good in a crisis. 

Once the family politely informed us that the snake was nowhere near us, but rather, descending down the cliff next to us, we got to watch all 4 feet of the red king snake . They're non-poisonous snakes that actually eat rattlesnakes (see, it was protecting us from the killer rattlesnakes.)

Perhaps I should have spoken to it in parseltongue?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Babka Bliss

Are you wondering what happened to the sewing portion of this blog??
Me too. 
My sewing table has become the catch-all in the playroom and is currently covered in kids' clothing, light sabers, artwork and anything other than sewing accoutrement. I do plan on cleaning it up and getting back to work on my projects soon though!

In the meantime I have been cooking up a storm! I made Sardinian carrot gnocchi from scratch with a light leek sauce and tonight it's lamb chops in a cherry relish (okay, my husband gets all the credit for that one.) 

Have you been over to Smitten Kitchen? It's my favorite cooking blog. I plan on making this chopped salad with feta lime and mint for lunch today. 

And a few days ago I made these chocolate swirl buns, inspired by Martha Stewart's original Babka recipe. They were SO delicious! 

I would have eaten all of them myself in one sitting, but I decided it would be more prudent to share them with Doodlebop's preschool teachers instead. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

ninja week

We rounded up our first "homeschool" week between summer camps. Mr. P selected the theme "Ninjas. Here are some of the ninjafied activities we completed!

We read Magic Treehouse's "Night of the Ninja"

We made origami ninja star (also called shuriken). Click here to see a youtube video about how to make it. 

Click here for a step by step handout. 

Mr. P. completed a ninja maze. 

We sang the Barenaked Ladies song "The Ninjas". Click here to see a video of them on youtube singing it! 

We read a bunch of books from the Wink the Ninja series:

Wink the Ninja who wanted to be noticed.

Wink the Ninja who wanted to nap. 

We watched the video of Mr. P. in his homemade Halloween costume from last year practicing his Ninja moves:

And finally, I wanted to give him the chance to see the Karate Kid (I know, not a Ninja but besides Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I couldn't think up much else!) The question is, which movie do we watch? Karate Kid from the 1984?

  Or the revamped version from 2010? I'm kind of a stickler for the original versions, so I think we'll start there. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

munchkin sunblock shade giveaway

It's hot out there this summer! If you are reading this from the east coast I am sending you lots of virtual ice cubes to help cool you down!

I am a big fan of these sunblock shades for the car! Most of us don't apply sunscreen for car rides but did you know that you can still get a sunburn from sitting in a car? These sunshades suction to your back window and keep out harmful UV rays. 

I am giving away one brand new Munchkin Safety Sunblock Shade to one of my followers! All you have to do to enter is follow my blog and leave a comment below!

This giveaway is open to U.S. mailing addresses and will close on Friday, July 20th at 11:59 pm et. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Another busy weekend with barbecues and beach time.....dinners with friends and gardening!

Look at what we harvested this weekend! 5 fat zucchini, a patty pan squash, 5 lemon cucumbers and a bunch of fava beans! 

I spent all day Friday writing at the beach with my childhood friend, Liz (also a writer). 

We had amazing seafood with some friends at Hungry Cat last night. 

And a big congratulations to my dad for completing his very last day of radiation!! After 10 weeks of getting his prostate zapped, he is finally done! Definitely something to celebrate!

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

chocolate chip zucchini cake

Happy belated 4th of July! How was your celebration?

We had a low key barbecue over here with good friends and good food! 

The kids swam and played and pranced around with their first sparklers! To everyone's delight the grass didn't catch on far and no one lost an eye. 

This chocolate chip zucchini cake was a real hit, so I thought I'd share it with you!

I'm calling it a cake instead of a bread because, let's face it people, there's nothing bread-like about it. 

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar (see I told you this is cake and not bread)
1 cup veggie oil 
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips

 Take your dry ingredients and mix them in one bowl. 

Grate your zucchini (watch your fingers!) Our zucchini was from the garden! Mr. P. said he hated zucchini and there was no way he was gonna eat it. Guess who ended up having three pieces of zucchini cake!?!

 Take your wet ingredients and mix them together in a bowl. 
Now combine everything together, the dry, the wet and the shredded zucchini. Throw in the chocolate chips as well. Add more flower if it seems super wet (it should be a thicker consistency then, let's say, cupcakes batter. 

Butter or oil up a bread loaf pan and bake that puppy for at least 45 minutes. Poke it with a stick or chopstick or skewer and if your tool comes out wet, leave it in longer (Mine took about an hour to bake, but my oven is wonky).

Yum! Let cool and enjoy! This cake stays for a long time in the fridge and goes great with a cup of coffee!