Thursday, July 31, 2008

What to Eat?

I looked up the food pyramid today... wanted to see just how much too much grains I probably eat. Funny thing is, turns out grains aren't my biggest problem - it's meat!

I entered in my age, gender, height, and weight and the government site told me I should be eating 6 oz. of grains (half of which should be whole grains), 2.5 cups of vegetables, 1.5 cups of fruit, 3 cups of dairy, and 5 oz. of meat & beans.

Breakfast the last couple of months has consisted of 1/4 cup plain greek-style yogurt topped with some kind of fruit (blueberries, peach, nectarine, etc.) and 1/4 cup of granola, and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. I don't eat much fruit the rest of the day, so I'm probably getting about the right amount of fruit. And I'm pretty sure the granola counts as whole grains because of the oats.

I'm sure I eat too many refined grains and not enough whole grains, but my total isn't too bad. Maybe I'll try using brown rice instead of white rice. As much as I like vegetables, I'm sure I'm not eating 2.5 cups a day. Isn't that kind of a lot?

But meat/nuts/beans! 5 oz.? A hamburger is like 3 or 4 oz. alone! If I make they patties, maybe more. One can of tuna is 6 oz. So if I have meat with lunch and dinner - I'm sure that pushes me past at least 6 oz., maybe more! Black beans on my taco? Of course! And then there is the Monster Mix. Mmm... Monster Mix. My trail mix. I have a 2 lb. tub of it at my desk for the occasional mid-morning or afternoon snack. I eat a handful at least every other day. And by a handful I mean a healthy scoop with my hand. I'm probably pushing 9 oz. of protein a day.

If I start including less meat at dinner, Bobby will look at me cross-eyed. He has this idea that he's a carnivore, and not an omnivore. It's already a little bit of a battle to mix in poultry.

I'd rather eat my meat at lunch and not dinner. Bobby will be going back to school soon, so I'll be home alone for dinner 4 nights a week. Maybe I'll start making soups and salads for dinner those nights.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I've lived in California all my life. When I think about the natural disasters that plague other parts of the world, I shudder. I would probably panic in the face of a hurricane, tornado, tsunami, etc. But I can totally handle earthquakes. I'm not going to say I'm not afraid of them at all, because let's face it, being near the epicenter of a 7+ earthquake would be scary, and to not be scared of that would be sort of disrespectful. But for the most part, I find earthquakes a little exciting. It's been quite awhile since we had a good sized earthquake.

When today's earthquake hit, I was sitting in my cube on the ninth floor. My cube is sort of in the front corner of the office, so I looked up at the corner of the ceiling and listened to it creek and rattle. I didn't get under my desk - figured it wouldn't hold much anyway. Besides, I've felt stronger, and I was pretty confidant that everything would be fine.

Sure enough, all the news reports said there was no reported damage or injuries. Everything in California is required to be built to withstand more than the 5.4 we had today.

I tried to call Bobby and my parents afterwords, but my cell phone service was out. Bobby's was out too, so I couldn't get a hold of him at all. My mom was closer to the epicenter than I was... told me about how she got under her desk, and we discussed how long it was. It felt similar to the evening news anytime we have any kind of weather outside of "clear, sunny." OMG, it rained!

On my way home I did start to worry a tad. I had recently been saving our empty wine bottles, and arranging them on top of our kitchen cupboards. They are all lined up so you can see the labels. I saw it in a restaurant in Park City, Utah and really liked the way it looked. As I drove, I started wondering if any fell over.

I can just picture one landing on my cat, although he doesn't really spend much time in the kitchen unless I'm preparing food. At least, I don't think he does - I suppose he could be doing anything while I'm away at work, but I usually find him on our bed, the couch, in a half-full laundry basket, or in the backyard. Or on top of Bobby's amp, where he's not supposed to be. But he could have been on one of the chairs in the dining room (he likes it there), and really freaked out as glass bottles tumbled off the cupboards and shattered on the floor. Now he's trapped, because there is glass all over the floor, and his tender little paws...

He seemed fine when I got in the house. Asleep on the bed. The baby gate we bought to keep the kids in the front of the house when they come over had fallen down. It had been leaning against the wall. Oh, and the fire extinguisher in the kitchen was knocked over. But all the bottles above the cupboards didn't appear to have moved at all.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Long Day

I am not one of those peopel that think sleep is overrated. In fact, I tend to start whining when I don't get my full night in. Bobby and I stayed the night at his parents' last night, and a full night sleep was not in store for us.

We didn't finish the movie until well after 1am, so by the time we pulled out the really-quite-uncomfortable sofa bed and shut off the lights, it was maybe 1:30 in the morning. Jäger, their chocolate lab tied up on the patio due to the construction, clearly felt he needed to be investigating something out of his range, and was barking and howling. Then, I hear the baby crying.

Poor Jessica didn't want to wake Caelyn, so she had to bring Chase out into the front of the house where we were trying to sleep. After a short while I gave up trying to sleep through it, and just got up to sit with them awhile. I glanced at the clock: 2:39am. Chase had a fever and had been throwing up, and she was trying to cool and quiet him down, and hopefully get him to fall back asleep. The thermometer was broken so she couldn't tell just how warm he was, and was looking very worried.

When he finally quieted back down and fell asleep, Jäger was again worked up about something. I did my best to ignore him and go back to sleep. A few hours later, Bobby's mom was up getting ready for work, doing her best to be as quiet as possible, but alas, my sleep was already fragile. A short while after that, Jessica was back up with the still fussy/sick baby. I finally gave up my quest for good at 6:30am. We tried to feed the kids breakfast, but the baby just threw it back up again. I said I would watch Caelyn so she could take Chase in to the doctor.

The guys got back to work on their pool project, and Caelyn and I hung out for a bit. Erica had been recruited to watch my nephew, Malachy, so when Jessica came back with Chase, we had three kids to chase around. Chase still wasn't feeling well (he had a viral throat infection), and he was really tired, but that didn't mean he didn't want to play.

I don't know how people do it. It really took all three of us to keep up with those kids. I can't imagine trying to raise them or running a day care. Malachy alone requires a lot of effort. It had been a long time since Erica had babysat him, so I was trying to help her as much as I could. He got mad at me - we were in the front yard and he wanted to play with all of Caelyn's and Chase's toys... I was making him share. So he walked to the very front of the yard near the street. I followed him up there, and when he got around the fence, he bolted. I tried grabbing his shirt but he ducked away and ran into the street, where I then had to chase him down, scold him, and carry him back.

Later, Erica took Malachy to the park while Jessica and I took her kids for a drive to the store, so that she could stay in the car with them while I ran in for the goods, hoping they would fall asleep on the trip. We were mostly successful - they both passed out, but Chase woke back up when we tried to bring him in. My dad came and picked Malachy up - he didn't want to go. Tried to stay in the front yard playing. Dad literally had to drag him to the truck.

Jessica and I tried one last time to get Chase down for a nap - by taking him for a walk in the stroller. We walked down to the nearby park and around it a couple times. I'd check on him periodically, and see him stare back at me with wide but sleepy eyes. After a few rounds we gave up and headed back to the house. As we approached the driveway, his lids finally closed. Instead of threaten this sleep, we just wheeled the whole stroller into the dining room, and left him in there for his nap.

Erica's boyfriend Trevor was over at this point. We sat around the living room together discussing pilates and yoga. I taught the girls Crow Pose. It's one of the more impressive looking poses, and one you'd have to go to a yoga studio and not just a gym to learn. Although it looks like it requires a lot of arm strength, it's more about balance and core strength. These girls have that, so it didn't take them long once they had the principles down. Trevor even gave it a try.
I know the boys were out back engaging in manual labor in the hot July heat, I was feeling pretty beat too.
My parents had invited Bobby and I over for a prime rib dinner, and we were happy to accept. Prime rib, asparagus, and some sweet corn they brought back with them from Colorado. We had to head home after only a couple hours though - no late nights tonight or we wouldn't make it home.

I Am Legend

Last night after we finished up the dishes, we all sat down to watch I Am Legend. Here is the synopis from

Smith, in a strong performance very different from his usual persona, is Robert Neville, the lone survivor in a New York City where streets are overgrown and deer gambol among deserted automobiles. Following an epidemic, the Earth's population has been turned into an army of nocturnal zombies. Immune to the virus, military scientist Neville searches for a cure in his Washington Square townhouse. Haunted by visions of his family leaving quarantined Manhattan two years prior, he drives through the city with his German Shepherd, Sam, by day and barricades his home from the monsters nightly. But when Anna (Alice Braga)--another immune stranger-finds him, they will have to fight the onslaught twice as hard.

This has to be one of the most suspensful movies I've ever seen. I lie - I didn't actually watch the whole movie. I couldn't sit through it, else I might have had a nervous breakdown. Let me add that there was no background music, at least during the really suspensful scenes (I wasn't paying attention during the rest of it). Just think about how the score adds to the oh-my-my-god-something-is-going-to-happen feeling, and then think about how suspensful the scenes have to be to do that without music. Like I said, I couldn't watch all of it. I had to get up and go wash my face, and other do other miscellaneous things until some scenes were over.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Beef Carpaccio

Jessica went to Vegas recently for a convention, and came back raving about some beef carpaccio she had. She must have mentioned it ten times over a period of 2 weeks, and really wanted to try making it. She'd found a recipe online. Last night was the night we were going to give it a try.

Bobby's mom pickedup some baby greens, and a package of tenderloin fillets from Costco, I brought some fresh herbs from home, and borrowed my parents' meat slicer. The menu for the night: Beef Carpacio, Caprese Salad, Mushroom Marsala Fettucine, Tenderloin Fillets, and baby mixed greens salad.

Ambitious, right? Yeah, turns out a little too ambitious, with not quite enough pre-planning. For example, we probably should have frozen the meat after it had been in the refrigerator for a couple hours so that it would be easier to cut. the meat was so soft, it was hard to cut in thin slices without shredding it. I think I would have cut it into smaller bite sized peices after slicing it too. It tasted alright, and better on the mixed greens than by itself.

Since I didn't pick up some nice, young, soft mozzarella before coming out, we only had the choices offered at the Stater Bros. in Norco. Amazing what a difference it makes. The caprese salad wasn't as good as we wanted it to be.

Luckily, the Tenderloin Fillets came out wonderfully. Especially lucky since the meat thermometer was broken, and thick cuts of meat can be difficult to get to that nice beautiful medum rare. We sort of winged it on the time, but it came out very nicely medium rare. Oh, and the pasta is always good.

I think I'll give both the appetizers another shot some day... I'll just be more prepared next time.

CARPACCIO DE BUEY (BEEF CARPACCIO) served on a bed of baby greens with balsamic and olive oil). Serves 4
1 lb. beef, tenderloin (filete)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp drained capers, rinsed, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Italian parsley
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
5 tablespoons olive oil baby greens
balsamic vinegar and olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions: In a food processor, add: vinegar, garlic, capers, onion, parsley, oregano and Dijon mustard. Process until smooth, while slowly adding the 5 tablespoons of olive oil.

Season tenderloin with salt and freshly ground pepper. In a large fry pan or grill, over high heat add a little oil and sear tenderloin on each side for 10 seconds. Remove from heat and roll in marinade. Set aside and allow to cool. Wrap marinaded beef in plastic wrap, sealing ends to secure a cylindrical shape. Refrigerate from 1 to 3 hours.

To assemble: Remove the plastic wrap from beef tenderloin with marinade and slice thinly, no thicker than 1/16 inch. Place on serving plate and top with baby greens. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top and decorate with Parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately.

Weekend Chores

I can't do laundry during the week. Sometimes I make an attempt, and start a load, but then it stays in the washing machine until the weekend. And by then it's starting to smell not so fresh and clean, so I end up having to wash it again before it goes in the dryer anyway. I feel like I'm wasting water and soap and fabric softener, so I've just accepted that I won't follow through, and now only do laundry on the weekends.

Unless of course, we aren't home all weekend, like the last two weekends. That's when laundry just starts piling up. Because, again, I'm not going to do it during the week, and I think Bobby has conveniently forgotten how to do laundry.

Bobby was talking about going out to his parents' house last night so they could get an early start on the pool. The pool had a leak, and was losing quite a bit of water, so they started to fix the leak, and that snowballed into moving the pump, adding a few jets, tearing out some trees, etc... Typical home improvement project, right?

I thought about last weekend, when I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out what to do with myself, and about the quite large pile of laundry, and about how much longer it was taking me to find something to wear to work in the mornings. Yeah, no. That's not going to work. I told Bobby that not only was I not going out there last night, I wasn't even going to go with him in the morning - I planned to stay home and take care of things around the house. I would meet him there at the end of the day, and we could stay the night then.

"Oh, so you can play on the computer." He says this because that's what I was doing at his parents' house last weekend.
"Um, no. That's what I would be doing if I did go with you. I have laundry, and the kitchen is a mess, and I need to do some deep watering in the back yard because I've been neglecting it entirely."
"Okaaay." He doesn't believe me. I will be sitting around eating bon bons, etc. (I don't think I've ever had a bon bon, actually.)

As usual, he didn't like the idea of sleeping over there if I wasn't going to be there, so instead he stayed home and woke up extra early this morning. Well, no - I woke him up extra early in the morning. He doesn't wake up by himself. Won't hear the alarm at all. I wake up, press snooze, nudge him, and tell him it's time to wake up. After snooze, repeat. Usually takes at least 30 minutes. I used to set up the coffee pot to go off when he told me he needed to be up - now I just set it up and one of us presses the brew button.

So I know I said I was dedicating the day to chores, but I was looking forward to sleeping in a little bit. 7:30am, please? Nope, waking him up wakes me up. Resistance is useless.

I did not play computer games. Or even read a book or watch TV. I was probably more productive today than I have been in months. I did seven loads of laundry (there is still two loads left, but they are just blankets, so they can wait), cleaned the kitchen, cleaned out the refrigerator, swept and used the wet Swiffer on the kitchen and dining room floors, deep watered in the backyard, cleaned out my car, and picked up around the house in general. I even attempted to make some focaccia bread, and took out all the house trash (even though that's actually Bobby's chore).

I'm a little tired now, but I like when my house is clean. And now that I'm showered and clean too, it's time to head out to Norco. As soon as this last load comes out of the dryer.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pop the Cork

Bobby has recently been doing a lot of work over at the new GardenWalk in Anaheim. One of the stores, a wine bar named Pop the Cork, opened last week, and he made a point of being their first customer.

Last night he needed to go down to GardenWalk to tell his employee what needed to be done that night, and we decided to go early and visit Pop the Cork so I could see it.

When we walked by, it looked as though the were closing up, and the door was already locked. It wasn't even 9:30 yet! Bobby knocked on the glass and waved at the owner, and they came and unlocked the door. The owner said it had been completely dead, so they had decided to close up early, but if we would like to come in they'd open back up.

I'm always amazed at how easily Bobby befriends people. I tend to avoid talking to people I don't know, unless we are introduced by a mutual friend, but he'll strike up a conversation with anybody. He's a natural at networking.

Some friends of the owner were there as well, and took the opportunity to join us as fellow customers. Soon a few other couples and groups came in, and while it stayed slow, I'm sure they made a few hundred dollars while we were there.

We tasted some really good wines. Bobby and I compared small tastings of Dow's 10 year old and 20 year old port side by side, and I very much enjoyed the Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d'Acqui (a sparkling rosé), and the Reisling that Bobby tried. With chocolates, of course. The sommelier attending the bar was very friendly and gave us the lowdown on the process and testing one goes through to become a certified sommelier, which was very interesting.

After buying a Gewürztraminer to take home (I've never tried one before, but have wanted to since I learned how to say it), we met up with our employee so Bobby could go over what needed to be done. As we were walking around the job site, you could hear music of The Doors quite loudly next door at another of Bobby's jobs, Heat Ultra Lounge, which will be opening this weekend. They were utilizing the beautiful sound system while tying up some loose ends.

Bobby and I went in the back door and the owner encouraged him to show me around. It's a really beautiful club, and should be very popular. The sound system is amazing. Bobby already wants to go to the club when they open, and he's not even a club person. I suspect he just wants to be there for it's debut, and enjoy knowing that he helped build it.


I've decided I need to plan better. Yes, me - a planner by nature - I've been terrible at this planning thing when it comes to my herbs and other plants. Remember my kitchen garden's humble beginnings? This is it in early April:

Everything on the lect hand side has since been pulled out or moved. The radicchio became ginormous and then fell over when I watered one day (apparently the roots are not very deep). The parsley and dill have been moved to pots, where I have decided all herbs should be in the future, except maybe basil. But my tomatoes - oh my tomatods! The are huge! I had tomato cages around them, but alas, the cages are only maybe 2 1/2 feet tall, whereas if I picked up the longest arm of either of my tomato plants, I couldn't even pick them up all the way. They may be six feet tall.

So instead, the branches are bent over the top of the cages, and growing along the ground like and vine. They may soon eat the basil. Odd, I was kinda hoping to eat the tomato and the basil together...

Both are starting to fruit, so there are green tomatos all over the place. The Lemon Boy is even starting to ripen a couple. Soon I will have more tomatoes than I know what to do with, and Bobby will be sick of me putting them on everything.

That grapevine in the back is going to have to be moved. it is no longer under 2 feet tall - it has now grabbed onto the roof and is trying to stretch across to the tree in the front yard. When it goes dormant this winter I think I will move it to the other side of the patio, so I can grow it along a mesh patio cover over the brick area. But I need to make sure that's where I want it this time. Plan it out...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gardening and a Bachelorette Party

As usualy, Bobby forgot to tell me. He and his brother were going to spend the weekend working on their parents' pool area. I learned this yesterday. Homemade ice cream would probably have to wait.
There is a leak somewhere, and the pool is losing a half a foot of water per day. The boys would be tearing up concrete and replumbing the pool. Quite a project, no?
On my way back from a quick trip to the grocery store, I inadvertantly drove towards my parents' house instead of back to Bobby's parents'. As I drove up, I spotted my dad digging up the grass in the front yard, and decided to stop for a visit.
"Dad, what are you doing?" His grass always looks great, why is he digging it up?
"Oh, we had some bad grass in this area right here, so I'm taking it up. I'm glad I am too, I keep finding these grubs, 3-4 per square foot, and I'm going to take some to the nursery and see if they are something I need to worry about." It probably never would have occured to me that grubs are bad things to have in your yard. Although they are pretty ugly - I dislike that for that reason.
After chatting with my mom for a bit, I joined them for a trip to the nursery. I've actually been wanting to get down to one, but I'm not familiar with the ones in my area. I worried that going with them, I might lose control and want to buy a bunch of plants that I have no room for. I mentioned to my parents all the plants I was wanting to get - chervil, more lavender, dill, curley parsley, a Meyer lemon tree, orange tree, .... the list is long. So what does my mom do? Starts looking for the herbs as soon as we get there.
"No mom, I shouldn't be buying herbs, I'm trying to be good and not buy stuff." But of course, I cave when she mentions how lovely the sage smells, but it's a six pack, and she doesn't really need six... I'll take half. It's over. Now I'm picking up parsley, and lavender, and dill. Mom was asked for chervil, they didn't have any. To my pleasant surprise, the herbs were only $0.80 each. Now, where am I going to put them?
After we returned, I finally headed back to Bobby's parents. The boys hadn't gotten very far. In fact, they'd spent most of the morning getting set up - renting the jackhammer, getting supplies, etc. I don't think they started until noon. Good planning for an outdoor project in July. In Norco. I helped take care of the kids a bit, but when they were sleeping Emma and I just did our best not to be bored. Neither of us really wanted to watch anything on TV, and I just couldn't concentrate on anything long enough to read.
Finally it was time to get ready for the bachelorette party, and the long drive to San Clemente. The temperature difference was quite startling. It was hot in Norco, but downright chilly in San Clemente. I was beginning to regret choosing a sleeveless dress. When I met up with the girls, I found that they too, were almost all wearing dresses, and marveling at how cool it was.
Lacee used to work with me, and for a couple years just before Bobby and I started dating, we were hanging out a lot. She and Alaina and Stephanie were roommates, and their place was where we used to meet before going out. Shortly after Bobby and I began dating, Lacee moved back up to the San Jose area, and I stopped going out with the other girls. I don't think we'd seen each other in nearly two years now.
We walked together from the hotel room down to a local restaurant for dinner. We discussed how much our lives had changed in such a short time, and how we had all been spread out. The plan after dinner was to go bar hopping in the area, but I had decided before hand that I would just go for dinner. I went back to the hotel and hung out with the girls while they got ready to paint the town, and as they were finishing up I said my goodbyes.

When I got back to Norco, Bobby, Brian and Jessica were layed out on the couch. They'd worked until 8:30, they said. I could tell that Bobby was exhausted.
"My mom is cleaning Katie's room so we can stay in there tonight. Brian and I have to start again early tomorrow morning."
I looked at him and shook my head. "I don't have my contact case or solution, Lucas needs to be fed, I need to pick up a prescription. Maybe if you had told me before I drove back I could have stopped at the house and then come here. You can stay if you want, but I need to go home tonight."
He didn't answer. I could tell he was giving serious thought to staying, but in the end, he hates the idea of not sleeping next to me, so he decided to come home. He and Emma were both passed out by the time we pulled into the driveway.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Grilled Steak Sandwiches with Marinated Watercress, Onion, and Tomato Salad

"Babe, have you seen my Bon Appetit?"

Bobby had no idea what I was talking about. If it were Wine Spectator, he may have noticed, but he doesn't care about Bon Appetit. To him it's just a magazine I get that leads to him eating an experiment for dinner.

I knew I'd received a new issue a couple weeks ago. I'd glanced at it on our way out the door before heading to the beach with Emma. There was a big ice cream cone on the front; I remember it clearly. Now I had some downtime, and wanted to peruse it - but it was no where to be found.

Last week I cleaned the whole house - if I picked up and put away everything, I had to come across it, right? No such luck. It was just gone.

The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store (does anyone else think the lines at grocery stores seem to be getting longer and longer?) and there was a woman with two 4 or 5 year-old girls in front of me. They'd clearly been playing outside - had that dirt smear on their arms, legs and faces. Still full of energy though; not loud or obnoxious, just curious and investigative and talkative. Each was clutching one of those mini Haagen Daas - one had coffee flavored. All I could think was that the last thing these girls needed was sugar, and I don't know if there is caffeine in coffee flavored ice cream, but they didn't need that either.

"Where'd you get that?" one asks, pointing to my bluetooth headset.
"At the store."
"Wow..." they awe in unison.

Mom is clearly frazzled. Two kids don't require twice the effort than one kid, it's more like 2 to the second power. They are exponents. Right now she's just trying to keep them confined to the grocery line, but that is proving to be as difficult as herding cats. She pulls one towards her, and the other goes off to grab a magazine off the rack. She holds it up, "Look - ice cream!"

She's holding the issue of Bon Appetit that I'm missing. I never would have seen it on the rack. "Can I see that?" I ask. She brings it right over and hands it to me. "You love ice cream too?"
"Yes, yes I do."

Flipping through it, I decided to just go ahead and buy the replacement. Because of this:

Grilled Steak Sandwiches with Marinated Watercress, Onion, and Tomato Salad

Oh, that looks so tasty! I suddenly had to have it. Had I the right stuff, I would have made it for dinner that very night, but alas, I don't have tri-tip just laying around, and I don't like buying meat at Ralph's. It would have to wait... until tonight!

I had some serious grocery shopping to do. Bobby and I have been eating through a lot of the foods that I always have in the house - tuna, corned beef hash, eggs, milk, white onions, pasta, rice... all the basics. My cupboards desperately needed replenishing.

Tuna and hash mean a trip to Costco. Luckily it's on the way home from work, and in the same shopping center as Whole Foods. I skipped lunch so that I could bail out of work early guilt free. But that meant I was grocery shopping, and starving.

Right next to the tuna there was a woman set up with samples - mini tuna sandwiches. I grabbed one eagerly. I was surprised at how tasty it was, considering I normally don't care for sandwiches without veggies. I listened as she told another woman what was in it.
"It's just tuna, chopped artichoke hearts, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. All Kirkland Signature products. It's a Martha Stewart recipe..." Huh, no mayo. I made a mental note to try it sometime.

At Whole Foods I was confronted with more egg choices than ever before. I've never had brown eggs, but was tempted to try them (is there even taste a difference, or would i just be buying them for the novelty of it?). I could just imagine Bobby's reaction, "Why are the eggs brown!?" No, that probably wouldn't happen... he'd have to look at the eggs in order to comment on them, and he's conveniently forgotten how to fry an egg. At twice the price of boring old white eggs, I left brown eggs for another day.

Then there was the gourmet salt rack. So may different kinds (and so many cute packages!); I'm tempted to try so many. Focus Annette, focus! What on earth do you need to venture into salts this week for? I finally made it home 2 1/2 hours after leaving work, having successfully avoided most of the tempations.

Brian joined us for dinner. I made the much anticipated (by me) Grilled Steak Sandwiches. I liked but didn't love it. The meat was very tender, although it was a tad overcooked (still pink, but only barely). I used indirect heat, which the recipe didn't call for but seemed important to me. Brian is always very complimentary of the meal, but his sandwich had way more dressing than mine. I had assembled mine first, his last, and the greens at the top of the bowl had way less dressing on them even though I stirred them; he later admitted it was a little too much dressing. Meanwhile, I thought mine didn't have enough. Bobby didn't really comment (which means he didn't love it), but he ate the whole thing (so he didn't dislike it).

Notes to self: Next time make more marinade and marinade the meat much longer, like overnight perhaps, brush the inside of the bread with either olive oil or marinade before and after grilling it, and pull the greens out of their marinade and toss them around a bit so they are more evenly coated. If someone wants to add more dressing then they can.

Christian the Lion

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Ice cream. I keep coming across ice cream recipes lately - on the food blogs I subscribe to, in the recent issue of Bon Appetit.... That Lemon Semifreddo I made recently was so lovely (I know, it's not quite ice cream, but it's close), and then I find Lemon Verbena Ice Cream, and I start dreaming about making my own. Because let's face it, where are you going to buy Lemon Verbena Ice Cream? It sounds like it would have such a light refreshing flavor, and I'm craving light refreshing flavors like mint, mango, lemon, strawberry, lime, orange.

So that of course leads me to ice cream makers. I don't have one, and of course, I want one. In my opinion, there are two kinds - the kind you have to freeze a bowl for in advance, and the kind that do the freezing and churning for you. Freezing a bowl 8+ hours in advance seems like a deal killer, since then not only am I losing precious freezer space, but I'd have to plan way in advance, instead of just deciding one Saturday afternoon that I would like to make some ice cream. So naturally, I'm drooling over the beautiful $300 Cuisinart ICE-50BC Supreme Ice Cream Maker. Ridiculous, I know - how could I possibly buy that when I've never made my own ice cream before. What if I don't like the recipes I find and it winds up sitting in my closet?

But then of course, I'm looking at kitchen gagetry on Amazon, and I see Kitchen Aid Mixers. They are so pretty, and I start daydreaming about making my own bread. Cheapest one? $239. I had to close the windows on my screen. Walk away, Annette. Walk away.
Instead, perhaps I will try the no-machine method this weekend.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Yesterday Bobby sent me an instant message, saying that a realtor had asked if he could put a sign up on our lawn - he was doing an open house on foreclosure around the corner. The 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,200 sq. ft. house just went on the market for $304K, but the realtor said that if someone offered $290K, they'd probably accept it.

Now, I know that $300K would buy a giant house in many parts of the country, but the houses in my neighborhood sell for $425K+... sometimes way ++. At $300K, it is actually the lowest priced house in the area by far.

Bobby also sent me the address, so I could look it up online... which I did, and in the pictures - it's an absolute dump. That in combination with the fact that it's a foreclosure, I can totally see why it's so cheap. Dump or not, we decided to walk over and look at it when I came home from work.

Bobby and I want to buy a house, especially knowing that prices are lowering. We are really hoping that in the next 6-9 months we can position ourselves to buy. Very wishful thinking at this point, but we are in the process of making some changes that will hopefully help us get there.

After I got home and we had some steak fajitas (one change we've accomplished pretty successfully - starting about 3 months ago, I've been making dinner almost every night instead of us eating out twice a week or so; we are really bad with leftovers, so lately I've been working on making something new out of them - we had leftover steak - steak fajitas! I feel very responsible), we walked the 2 1/2 blocks to see the house.

Since the picture posted online they had mowed the lawn - instead of long dead grass, it was recently mowed dead grass. Amazing what a difference that makes, but it does. Other than that - still a dump... but clearly a dump with potential. You could see how with some very basic changes it could be nicer - paint the walls, replace the floors, water the lawn. And with a few larger changes it could be really cute.

And then I started thinking - when we are ready to buy a house, we really should buy a fixer-upper. Not anything we need to re-do the sewer or anything, but something that needs some work to make nice. With this theoretical first house, we need to be able to improve the value initially more than the market will on it's own.

Someone is going to scoop up that house, make a few cosmetic changes, and see an immediate increase in the value. We couldn't buy it - with running the business out of our house, this one is too small for us anyway - but it would be great if we could buy it to rent out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

French Lessons

Do you ever get a birthday or Christmas present that you just aren't ready for yet? Occasionally, someone will buy me something they think I'll just love, that I don't necessarily dislike, but I'm just not really all that interested in. Then later, sometimes years later, I'll come across it and decide I'm in love with it.

This happened for me most recently with Peter Mayle's French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew. I remember it being a Christmas present (don't remember who from) a number of years ago. It quickly went on the bookshelf and was promptly forgotten (I checked the publication date - 2001, so it has to have been 4-7 years ago). A week or so ago I finished my last book, Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude, and I was looking for something new to read. So I cracked this one open.
I am enjoying this book so much. It's light, and mildly funny, and makes me want to go to France and eat wonderful long lunches - and I'm only 4 chapters in! I even read a chapter about chickens aloud to Bobby the other night, and he enjoyed it very much too. And I don't even remember who to thank for it...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


So an almond is not a true nut, but rather a fruit. Same with cashews, pistachios, and pine nuts. Peanuts aren't true nuts either- they are legumes. (Oh, and cucumbers, bell peppers, and chili peppers are fruits, not vegetables.) Just wanted to share.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Archer Farms

For awhile now, I've been in love with this trail mix I get from Target: Archer Farms Monster Mix. It's peanuts, raisins, M&Ms, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips. Pretty basic right? I think the peanut butter chips are a great addition, and I also love that it has a lot less sodium than other trail mixes - only 20mg per serving - so your lips don't feel all dry when you are done. I've even converted they guys at work. They buy random mixes from Trader Joe's and we share - and agree that this one is one of the best. Pretty economical too - I can get 40 oz. for $5.99.

I don't drink coffee, but Bobby and both our entire families do. Bobby's sort of a coffee snob - not the won't-even-drink-Starbucks kind, but the kind that hates Folgers. In fact, he likes Starbucks a lot, so we usually buy bags of the Starbucks beans at Target, but for kicks I grabbed a tin of the Archer Farms this time around. The "limited edition" Costa Rican kind was the only one that was whole bean, so that's the one I grabbed. (It's actually like $2 more than the Starbucks brand, so it better be good.)

The packaging was really nice. The beans were inside a normal coffee bag, inside of a nice tin. The label was really easy to pull off so you could use it for other coffees too, which I thought was nice. Then again, when/if I buy another one, I won't need another tin, in which case that would be wasteful.

This weekend I used the Archer Farms coffee when everyone was over. As we were sitting there watching Beauty and the Beast, Brian said, "Bobby, where'd you get this coffee? It's really good." Clearly, Brian is not aware that I do all the shopping; Bobby has even forgotten how to make coffee ("Babe, how many scoops do I use again?")

This is all a round about way of saying that although I've only tried out two of their products so far, I've been impressed with Archer Farms, and I'll be looking for other products of theirs to try. They've been building a brand new Target a block from the Target nearest my house, so hopefully it's one of those giant SuperTargets like the one in the District in Tustin. I can't wait for it to open.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Beach Day!

It seems like forever between trips to the beach. It's July, and I think this is only our second trip this year. And we weren't really even planning on it - just sort of decided last minute.

I was out watering the succulents in the front yard (I rarely water them, but it's been particularly dry lately) and Bobby came outside and said, "Let's go to the beach."

We weren't quite ready, of course. Honestly, hadn't even brushed my teeth yet (midday, I know). But by 1:30 or so we were able to get ourselves together and out the door. It was a popular beach day, of course, so finding a parking spot was difficult. So by the time we made it down to Shaw's Cove, parked, and made camp, it was just before 3pm. Emma, of course, needed to be returned by 5pm.

It worked out well though. Bobby and Emma played in the water while I laid in the sun and read. It was enough time for Emma to capture some sand crabs, and for me to get a little burned where I missed with the sunscreen. It was warm and humid at the beach - bright but overcast simultaneously. On our way back, heading north on PCH, if you looked left the sky was white; look right and it was blue. We made a quick stop on the way back to eat something. It made us a little late, but we didn't want to return Emma hungry.

Once Bobby and I made it home, we collapsed on the bed and napped for an hour or so. Well, Bobby napped, and I tried to nap, but even laying there with my eyes closed made me feel more rested. Now that we are all cleaned up, I've baked some chocolate & butterscotch chip cookies, and we are going to relax and watch a movie. The end of a very busy weekend - a rather stark contrast to last weekend.

Heat, Oranges, & WALL-E

Even though Emma staying with her great grandparents meant we didn't need to drive out to Norco for that reason... we still needed to go to Norco this weekend. Doomed to drive, I suppose.

My mom had left her reading glasses at my house, and Bobby needed to show his mom how to use some business software. So we hung around our house until 2:30pm or so, and then headed out.

It had been in the low 90s at home - the car thermometer read 104° when we arrived in Norco. So hot. Bobby, Brian, and the kids got ready to go swimming, and I headed over to my parents' house. I told my mom about how the orange juice she brought me had been left out and was infested with ants. Then she shows me her stash and asks if I want more.

Fide, a longtime family friend (she used to live with us when I was young, and now cleans my, my mom's, and my uncle's houses on a regular basis) has a friend that picks oranges to sell on the side of the road. He gave her tons of oranges that were the "ugly" ones - the ones with discolorations that people don't like to buy but are perfectly good. Fide brought my mom two large baskets of them, and she's been juicing a few each morning.

Ah! I'm so jealous! I too have been trying to juice my own orange juice but at 3 to (preferably) 4 oranges a day, I'm going through lots of oranges. Instead of juicing me more oranges, mom just gave me a big bagful. Oh, I can't wait for orange juice.

I headed back to the Mahoneys' and since I was still exhausted from the holiday excitement, I tried my best to take a nap on the couch. When Bobby's mom came home from work, she made up some steak tacos, and soon we were rushing to the theater to see an 8:20pm showing of WALL-E. Seriously, where does the day go? Like five minutes ago we were eating breakfast, right?

WALL-E was so cute! I don't know how Pixar just keeps churning out the wonderful movies, but they do. Bobby and Emma even said this one may just be their favorite of the Pixar films! I had heard that the movie was good, but not as good as the others, and that the second half was not as good as the first half. I have to disagree with both of those. Not only was it a great movie, in league with the other movies, but I enjoyed it from start to finish. (Ratatouille is still my favorite though.) Even the short before the film was hilarious. It's truly amazing how the animators and storytellers can illicit such emotion without using any words. This new one is surely one of their best shorts.

After the movie, I really wanted to get home and to bed. Bobby still had to go over the software with his mom, but Erica had driven my Civic home the night before (so she could stay later), so Bobby and I were driving seperately anyway. Emma came with me, and we stopped at the store on the way so we could have a nice breakfast in the morning. We'd only been home 10 minutes or so when Bobby walked in to find us juicing some oranges. No, we couldn't wait until morning.

This morning we had even more orange juice. We must have been really tired, because Bobby and I were able to sleep until 9:30am. Unheard of. I never sleep this late. OK, there are exceptions.

I also finally got around to trying out a crepe recipe. You may recall I fell in love with some crepes at the cafe down the street from my house, and I've been looking for a good recipe ever since. Due to all the comments about time, I started the filling on Thursday night, when Bobby was in Norco with Emma, and now that I had more eggs, and more milk, I was ready to make the crepes themselves. They came out good but not great - I must agree with one commenter that they tasted sort of like chicken pot pie. In fact, maybe I'll use this sauce recpie in a chicken pot pie, since I'm still looking for a good recipe for that. I need to keep hunting or experimenting for my crepes though.

Emma is still asleep. Ah, how I miss summer vacations. We should wake her up soon though - don't want to waste the whole day.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence Day

Bobby planned out a holiday barbeque somewhat last minute. I think he started last week. I didn't even get around to mentioning it to my parents or brother until Thursday. I don't even think a time was actually chosen. Terrible, I know, but it came together.

When we got back from the store, Jessica and I started assembling the corn for the barbeque. My favorite way to cook corn - coated in a cilantro butter (just softened butter mixed with chopped cilantro), sprinkled with salt and pepper, and wrapped in aluminum foil. The easiest way also seems to be the messiest - you basically grab a glob of the cilantro butter with your hands and coat the corn. It really helped to have someone there to roll it so I didn't have to keep washing my hands in between sets.

We also had hot dogs, beef hot links, polska keilbasa, hamburgers, and potato salad. Pretty standard July 4th fare. In hindsight, I suppose we could have added some baked beans, but we seemed to do just fine without it.

For last minute we seemed to have a pretty good crowd - my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew, Bobby's parents, brother & family, sisters (one with boyfriend in tow), and uncle. Oh, and Josh.

As the day wore on, my family and some of Bobby's family left, and some of our friends came by instead. They and the neighbors set off fireworks in the street (which, I must admit makes me very nervous - I just can't get comfortable with amateur fireworks). When they ran out of those we got out the big ladder and climbed onto the roof to watch the Disneyland fireworks.

Leftovers and the pie were pulled out as people got hungry again, leaving me with almost no leftovers (yes!). The boys made their way into the garage to jam, and Jessica and I tried to calm the kids and get them ready for bed. Jessica passed out while putting Chase to bed, and Caelyn laid down to watch Fantasia with me in the spare bedroom. I almost fell asleep too. When I realized she was asleep, I dragged myself back up. It was 11:30pm. I let the boys play another half hour, and then told Bobby that it was time to quiet down. I was fine if he wanted to stay up longer, but I wanted to go to sleep in my own bed, and that meant the music had to stop for now.

Turns out I wasn't the only one. Jon's girlfriend Oahn had been napping on the couch, and Bobby's sister had already headed out. Josh had to be up early so he could visit his neice and nephew in Oceanside in the morning. We said goodbye, closed up, and crashed.

Again, a late morning. Bobby and I are usually up between 7am and 7:30am, but this morning it was after 8am. The house was obviously a mess (though thanks to Terri's, Jessica's, and Erica's efforts yesterday, not too bad). I was sad to find that in pulling out leftovers, someone had pulled out the pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice my mom brought me yesterday, and left it on the counter. Overnight. This morning it was full of ants. No orange juice for me this morning.

I was out of eggs, so no big breakfasts this time. Brian went and picked up McDonald's breakfast for everyone, although I abstained and had some Trader Joe's Greek Style Plain Yogurt (I'm in love with this stuff) with blueberries and granola instead. I am opposed to the idea of eating McDonald's. I try to avoid most fast food in general - I really do believe that the prevalence of it has led to a number of health problems this country is facing - but for some reason McDonald's is the face of that problem for me, and I just can't eat it. (As a child, however, I literally begged my mom to take me there sometimes - I'm really glad she usually didn't.)

Now we are watching Beauty and the Beast, and Bobby has taken Caelyn with him to pick up Emma from her great-grandparents' house in Garden Grove (we like when she's there - shorter drives for us). Let the weekend begin.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Our holiday celebration actually began last night. Bobby's brother, sister-in-law, sister, neice and nephew followed him home after he dropped Emma off. The boys had planned to play for a bit, but the drums were just too loud, even when moved into the garage, and the kids needed to get to bed. So instead we sat around and chatted and did nothing of importance, but it was a good time anyway. A few friends came by as well, and we didn't wind up going to bed until after 1am. I've become old or something, because 1am is way past my bedtime - I crashed pretty hard after that.

I woke up to Lucas meowing. He tends to hide when there are young kids, or lots of people about, so he'd hidden as soon as everyone arrived last night. But he was hungry. Bobby and I had done the unforivable - closed our bedroom door!

Lucas' little doorway to the outside world is the window next to our bed. He'd pushed the screen out at the bottom to create his own little cat door, and instead of fixing it, we just left it open for him. However, this means that our bedroom door must be open in order for him to get into the rest of the house... and to his food bowl. He was not happy with us.

I got up, my head pounding from too much wine the night before, opened the door for him, and tried to go back to sleep. No luck - now I can hear him whining in the kitchen. And I know why. We'd picked his food/water up off the floor so the kids wouldn't play in it (water is very exciting), and now he wanted to know where his food was.

So I dragged myself out of bed, put his food/water back in it's place, and stopped to take some Tylenol and drink a big glass of water. This time, I made it back to sleep.

That is until around 7:30am. I can hear Chase in the living room. I can imagine Jessica trying to keep him quiet, trying to keep him confined to the living room so as not to wake anyone. He doesn't like being confined, and he's not a quiet kid. I tried to reclaim my grasp on sleep, but accepted failure after 20 minutes or so, and went out to join them. Lucas was already off, avoiding the commotion at the house.

Thankfully, my headache was gone now, and the water had relieved some of the dehydration. I juiced the remaining three oranges I had, and tried to drink it slowly so I would have some left to drink with breakfast (I probably could have had three glasses, had I enough oranges). I prefer to eat shortly after waking up, so weekend mornings, that's usually the first thing I do.

Since we were the only ones up, I made Jessica and myself some scrambled eggs cooked with cream, shallots, and crimini mushrooms, and topped with fresh basil, diced lemon boy tomato (both from my garden - it was the first tomato that has ripened on this plant), and grated gouda. We also cooked up a little corned beef hash, and shared with the kids.

It's easier to keep them confined in the backyard (sounds strange, I know) so we brought the kids outside for a bit, and Caelyn helped me water the plants. At first she was holding the handle with me, then she got a cup and was redirecting the spray into her cup so she could dump it on the rocks. Effective.

After a while, Bobby, Brian, and Katie were up too. Jessica and I made fried eggs, more hash, and english muffins all around. Jessica mentioned that her family never really ate breakfast together, and I was telling her about my family having big breakfasts together at least every other weekend or so when I was in junior high and high school. My favorite was when my parents made German pancakes together, with all sorts of toppings - lemon & confectioner's sugar, baked apples, sliced peaches, mmm. Mom often made scrambled eggs with all sorts of stuff in them - chunks of potato, onion, and always green peppers (she puts green peppers in everything - sort of the way I put mushrooms in everything). And we always had orange juice, bacon, sausage... the basics. I still love big breakfasts together.

Katie needed to go to the store - she's leaving tomorrow for Hawaii and Australia so she can attend World Youth Day. It's cold in Australia right now, and she needed a good, compact, low temperature sleeping bag. So Katie, Jessica, and I went to Target to look for a sleeping bag - and a baby gate. Brian, Jessica, and the kids had been by a couple times already this week, and we had been constructing barriers to keep the kids out of the back room where the guys were jamming. Ottomans with icechests balancing on top - not all that sturdy or safe. I decided a baby gate would be a good thing to have around for when they, or other kids, were over.

We didn't find the right sleeping bag, but we did find a gate. I put a call in to my parents to see if they had an appropriate sleeping bag that we could borrow, and decided to go to Big 5 later if necessary. For now though, we needed to get back to the house - we have people coming over for a barbecue soon...