Tuesday, May 31, 2011

weekly menu:: week 22

summer is almost here.  i'm starting to see it show up.

home from a nice weekend away.  it's been a while.  enjoyed reading, playing and relaxing.  as we head into the last week and a half of school, before finals and final projects and portfolio presentations and my last task for the pto. as we wind down the last few days at the preschool, get teacher gifts in order,  prepare myself for a long summer.  it was nice to spend some time together, enjoying the outdoors and being with family.

looking forward to a productive week.

monday - coming back from a weekend away.  ate out
tuesday - blue cheese chicken burgers, grilled zucchini
wednesday - grilled shrimp and avocado salad
thursday - pork tenderloin with soy, ginger and lime, rice and snap peas
friday - boys are out tonight.  girls will eat out.
saturday - homemade pizza - keeps getting bumped off the menu
sunday - eat out

as we end may and head into june, it's crazy to think we are almost half way through 2011.  where has the time gone?  hope your doing something fun today.

Friday, May 27, 2011

five on friday :: my favorite things

yes, people i'm talking about oprah...again.

wednesday night my sister-in-law had an oprah viewing party for the final episode.  i still can't believe it's over.  have i mentioned how much i will miss the show?

a few ladies gathered together for food, drink and merriment.  can i just say how much i enjoyed my moscow mule?  i think i will be making these all summer.

sandra asked us to bring an appetizer or dessert and one of our favorite things under $5.  during commercial brakes we randlomly chose a number and got to take one of the favorite things home.  i ended up with a lotion which is perfect for the summer. i didn't stick to the $5 limit but only went over by $1.  i also had a hard time choosing my favorite in that range.  here were my options.
1. goody spin pin
a while ago i took the boys to get their hair cut and one of the women in the salon had her hair up in the most perfect bun.  i believe that it never hurts to ask when you see something that you like, so i asked her what her secret was.  she took out these two pins.  that's it.  you roll your hair into a bun and spin these pins into your hair and voila it stays, all day.  sometimes i do this in the morning with wet hair and at night i take it out and my hair has a really nice wave.  this was what i brought as my favorite thing, totally worth $6.29.

2. a notebook, pen and pencil
i am a believer in writing your story.  that is why i write this blog.  and that is also why i always carry a small notebook and pencil or pen in my purse.  unless of course i need a piece of paper and then realize that the kids have used my notebooks to draw cartoon characters on every, single, page.  it's a must to have paper in the car, my purse, the nightstand.  you never know when an idea will strike or an inspiration will hit or andrew will say something worth jotting down.  and i love this line by greenroom at target.  the notebooks are adorable.  

3. a giftcard to menchie's
the kids aren't the only ones that love frozen yogurt from menchie's.  we have a shop right by our house and i admit that i've been there without the kids on occasion.  their flavors are always different.  but my favorites are peanut butter and strawberry.  i top it with low fat granola, almonds, a few jelly beans, mochi and 2 pumps of caramel. what a great treat.

4. contadino pinot grigio
you can find it at trader joe's for about $4.99.  it's bubbly, fresh and so good in the summer.  it's my go to byob at parties.  

5. cover girl lash blast length
this one's a bit over the limit too but if you have a coupon or get it on sale it will run you about $5.  i used to get the more expensive mascara from estee lauder but have found that this one is just as good.  i worry more about the length of my lashes than the volume.  this is the perfect tool for that.  

so these are my favorite things in the 5(ish) dollar range.  if you have a favorite please share.

have a great weekend.  hope your celebrating memorial day in a relaxing way.  see you on tuesday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ancient worlds festival

last friday the boys' school had their spring festival, open house, school performance and academic culmination from the year long, school wide theme of ancient worlds.  the students spent all year learning about the 6 ancient civilizations that are the foundation of the world today; china, greece, rome, maya, egypt and medieval europe.  each grade specialized in a specific culture.  

at the ancient worlds festival the students get the chance to teach other students, parents, faculty and community members about what they have learned.  andrew was part of the mayan culture and jordan learned about ancient china.

i was part of the committee that organized and executed the end of the year academic festival.  this is the second year that we have had this type of event.  last year our theme was ecology and we ended the year with an eco fest.

the day started for me at 8:00 am helping to set up the continental breakfast for the volunteers.  then i moved on to decorating the tent for the performance and the welcome signs.
the students arrived at school at 12:30 and the school wide performance began at 1:00.  our faculty event coordinator wrote an original play that took the audience back in time to discover what was the greatest civilization of them all.  their were archeologists, gods, songs, and some really funny moments.
getting ready for the performance.  the kids made their ponchos and hats.
jordan's class was so lucky that one of the parents went to china earlier in the school year and brought each student a costume, hat and a dragon that they used in the performance.

the open house is also part of the day.  the kids show us around their classroom and we get to see some of the projects they have been working on in class.  here andrew is showing his grandparents his "create a state", dragon island.

then everyone went down to the field to start the booth activities.
i was so impressed with the creativity that the teachers, students and parent volunteers had in making each booth unique and representative of their culture.
each class has a booth that the teachers and the students come up with.  there are activities that let the children teach visitors about their culture.  in jordan's booth they had a game where you had to pick up small sponges with chopsticks.  they also made paper cutting bookmarks.
andrew is playing a bean bag toss game from the roman culture.  his total points scored determined what rank in society he is.  i am proud to say that they both came home as emperors.
andrew's class did the mayan game of pok-a-tok.  after learning a fact about mayan culture the kids tried to make a basket and move on to the next level.  

i didn't get a chance to visit all of the booths but there was a hit the target on the trojan horse with a catapult.  one of the dads actually built a trojan horse.  amazing.  and a coliseum with various games to compete in.

the kids collected coins at each booth and put them in a budget that was hanging on their belt.  at the end of the day the students redeemed their budget for a prize, an hourglass.  the whole idea was so clever.

we had an area for ancient games that included chess, 2 maypoles and a labyrinth created by our pto president and his wife, jennifer. 

there were medieval battles, an open air market, an art show, book fair, bouncy house and an italian dinner.  it was a jam packed day.  and it took a lot of work to put this together.  but what fun we all had. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


here's what happens when i don't have a project to keep my mind and time busy.  i think.

i think about
projects i need to finish.
projects i'd like to start.
pictures i need to go through.
an iphoto library that needs to be edited.
writing something meaningful.
stories i want to tell.
new recipes i want to try.
a recipe i want to try again.
experimenting with my iphone camera.
finding a high school for jordan. (he has 2 more years of middle school)
school parties, showers and weddings
cleaning, organizing and simplifying.
plans for the rest of the school year.
plans for summer.
plans for september.
not working.
seeing this little boy again.
paint colors.
doing something inspiring.
this video.
what's taking me so long.
what i can do better.
who's reading this.

and it's only tuesday?!
what are you thinking about?
but more importantly, what are you doing about it?

Monday, May 23, 2011

weekly menu:: week 21

my first attempt at oreo truffles
if i told you what we did this weekend, i don't think you'd believe me.  i can't believe we packed in as much as we did.
a school festival all day on friday
a bridal shower in orange county
planning a wedding ceremony
softball practice
dress fitting for my sister's wedding
video game birthday party
preschool spring picnic
dinner with friends

we are exhausted.  luckily this week should be a little slower for everyone.  most of the school projects are done and we are winding down the year.  i can finally get to a lot of the things i haven't had time to do.  looking forward to getting some organization back into our lives.

i am seriously considering joining a csa (community supported agriculture program) this summer.  i love the idea of getting fresh produce delivered to our door and trying out some new fruits and veggies.  i will visit a farm in our neighborhood tomorrow and see what kind of program they offer.

here's our menu this week:

monday - dine out at a mexican restaurant for the baseball team
tuesday - caprese paninis, minestrone soup - looking for a good recipe
wednesday - breakfast for dinner strawberry french toast with cream cheese
thursday - roasted snapper fillet with cucumber and tomato salad
friday - homemade pizza 
saturday - bbq chicken, roasted potatoes, spinach and strawberry salad
sunday - eat out

hope your week is relaxing. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

five on friday :: faq about oprah

i was getting a sandwich the other day at one of my favorite sandwich places and the lady taking my order noticed my sweatshirt with an "o" on it.  she asked if i graduated from the university of oregon.  i said, "no, it's actually from the oprah show."  she gave me a surprised look and then asked me a bunch of questions.  the same questions i've been hearing and answering over the last few days.

so here's the answer to the 5 most frequently asked questions.

1. how did you get tickets?
bobby works for a film production company and the publicist for them worked on something for the oprah show.  when i heard those words i had to ask, do you think he can get me tickets?  i figured it was my last shot at going. thanks allen for making this little dream come true.  it really meant a lot to me.

2. what did you wear?
this trip came about so suddenly and we had to pay for the flight and the hotel, not to mention all of the items on the boys' packing lists that we needed to buy.  so there was no room in the budget for a new outfit.  the email from the show suggested that we wear bright colors.  which makes sense when you look at the past shows that everyone is dressed in vibrant, solid colors.  i had the perfect outfit in my closet and after watching the show last night, it didn't really matter what i wore.  you couldn't even see me.
that's the back of my head in the middle.  my sis is to my left.
3.  did you get an ipad, australian vacation or a car?
no.  there was no surprise giveaway.  no big reveal.  the only thing under our seats was a box of tissue, and believe me i thought about taking that home.  but we really did walk away with full hearts and gratitude for having the opportunity to be there.  (ok, but after seeing the makeover show where everyone got a michael kors bag, diane von furstenberg scarves and tory burch sunglasses plus a makeover, i did feel a little cheated.  just saying.)

4.  what was the topic?
it was unforgettable guests.  people from the past 25 years who had made an impact.  watching the first family talk about their heartbreak over missing their mom broke my heart.  i remember watching that show when it first aired and feeling so much sadness for those kids. it was tough seeing them in real life and feeling their pain all these years later.  the girls from rwanda sat right next to us and we exchanged words for a moment.  and then the mom with cancer who made the videos for her daughter.  having a daughter of my own i could feel the desperation to want to share so much with her.  it was a tough but touching episode.  one that made me think about cherishing those everyday moments, living life fully and the impact that the decisions you make have on your children.  i walked away with so much.

5. what was it like?
it was pretty incredible.  i have been a loyal viewer for a long time.  it has been a part of my everyday for as long as i can remember.  i watched the episode where she wheeled out all the fat she had lost.  i watched the episode where tom cruise jumped on the couch.  i watched the episode with oprah and gayle's road trip adventures. i read many of the book club selections.  i was a fan.

i was touched by so much of what i saw.  i had an aha moment that changed my life during one show.  it literally made me see something that had happened in my life in a totally different way. i've had fun watching her shows. and oftentimes would say to my sister or friends "did you watch oprah yesterday?" i know that she is criticized by many people, some right here in my house, but i believe in the intention: to change people lives in a positive way.  so to be sitting there in those seats, it was pretty amazing.

this experience also taught me to never lose hope.  imagine with only 5 shows left and i get tickets.  that was incredible.  seeing oprah was being a part of television history.  i've been around celebrities before, it used to be my job.  and i completely understand the concept that they are just people.  but oprah is someone i saw everyday, not just once in a while in a movie or tv show.  she is like a friend, just with billions of dollars and an empire.  when she walked out on stage i guess i was filled with excitement to have made it there and to see that person in real life. it was unforgettable.  and i will miss it when it's over.  so i felt lucky, privileged and honored to be there.

wishing everyone a happy weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


this trip was way out of the ordinary for me.
traveling on my own.
being away from my family.
making plans with such short notice.

but it was so cool.  and to have the chance to spend some time with my sister, just the two of us, made it even more exciting.

i called my sister a few weeks before the trip to tell her that i had two tickets to the oprah show.  the only problem was that it was on andrew's birthday.  so i wasn't ready to commit quite yet.  i'm sure she felt excited and then contained that excitement so that i could figure out what i wanted to do.  it took a few days.   but then i called her to say, "let's do it."

we looked over some recommendations and airfares and then made the reservations.  i couldn't believe it.  i was going on a trip to a new place, that i've always wanted to visit, with my sister and we were going to the oprah show.  we had talked about doing this so many times before over the last few years.  and it was finally happening.

now the other challenge was that both boys were going away for their school science trips.  jordan was leaving on monday for yosemite and andrew would leave on wednesday to lake arrowhead.  that meant that i needed to pack them with a page long packing list, as well as myself and leave instructions for the grandmas who were taking care of sofia as well.

it was  a lot to do.  and for a 42 hour trip? but it was oprah people.  how could i say no to oprah? sure the timing stunk.  and i really wanted to ask if i could get another day.  but it was a take it or leave it situation.  so we took it.

boarding the airplane was nerve racking and exciting at the same time.  it got even better when i saw antonia from top chef masters board the plane.  love the show and love her.

unfortunately, i found out at lax that my kindle was not working and i didn't bother bringing a book along. so i got caught up on some very important literature during the flight.
something else i don't get to do very often.  and even though i only slept a few hours the night before i didn't sleep at all on the plane.  the adrenaline was definitely flowing.

when we landed in chicago we found our shuttle service and left for the hotel.

our shuttle driver was awesome and gave us a quick city tour showing us navy pier, the miracle mile, and the park where obama gave his victory speech in 2008. he gave us pizza recommendations and what we should and should not see while we are here.  he was a great introduction to the city.  he even showed us the hotel where oprah stays when she's in town.  so we told him we were going to the show the next day and he could hardly believe it.
then he dropped us off at the wyndham blake hotel. it was a great little place, perfect for the two of us.  we freshened up and headed back out to explore.
we walked to millenium park and saw the bean.  i fell in love with it.  you could see the chicago skyline from every angle.

we went to michigan avenue and walked the miracle mile to see all the shops.  we went to a church, which is something we love to do when we visit a new city.  we thought about taking the architectural cruise on the chicago river but decided against it this time around.  i was so impressed with how clean the city was.  people were walking around, students, moms with strollers and working people and the city was so clean and felt so safe. nothing like downtown la.
for dinner we ended up at pizzeria uno for a chicago deep dish pizza.

i have to say i am not a fan of the deep dish.  in fact i am not a fan of thick crust pizza.  i am more a thin crust, new york pizza style girl.  but you have to have deep dish when you are in chicago.  and this place claimed to be the original, so we gave it a go.
pretty good. even better with a glass of wine and a spinach salad, and a toast to having an adventure and crossing something off our bucket list.  the whole time we wondered what we were going to see the next day.  who would be on.  what we would take home.  we were just so happy to be doing this and experiencing this together that it didn't matter what the topic was.

we walked around a bit more and got tea and a pastry at starbucks and then went back to the hotel.  oh we had visions of changing our clothes and going to a bar or visiting some other neighborhoods.  but the truth of the matter was that we were just too tired.  our focus was on going to the show the next day and everything else would just have to wait until next time.

i think i was asleep by 9, which is 7 pm in la.
the next morning we researched a breakfast place not too far from the hotel.  we walked to yolk and fell in love.  everything about this place was perfect.  the location, the menu and the atmosphere.  it was bright and cheery.  you felt happiness all around.  they are famous for their weekend brunch and at times it's hard to get a table.  luckily it was a week day so we didn't have any problems.
i'm a sucker for anything that's labeled "best in town" or "favorite menu item".  and if it's eggs benedict, than there is no question what i am ordering.  it was just perfect.  a great big plate of food to start off the day.

what a fun place.  a must for next time.

we had to rush back to the hotel to get ready for the show.  we were scheduled for the 1 o'clock show but had to be there at 11:30 am to secure a seat.  we changed, did our hair and checked out.  then we grabbed a taxi and said these words, "to harpo studios".  so cool.

when we arrived there was a huge line to get it.  we started walking to the end when we heard the page say "gioconda mitas, please come to the front of the line".  well it was more like "glocunda midus" but i'm used to that.  we didn't even have to stand in line?  how lucky were we.  they took us through security where they held on to our phones, cameras and any bits off paper that we might take notes on.  then they sent us to the holding room.

here we signed the confidentiality agreement that said that we would not blog about the show until after it airs.  we watched the room fill up with women and a few men, all dressed so nicely, all excited to be here, and all wondering what the show was about.  we looked at the pictures of oprah with many of her guests; nelson mandella, john travolta, jennifer lopez.  the buzz and energy continued to increase as the room filled with people.  it felt even more exciting to be there.

a guy showed up with two other men and they started talking to some of the women who were waiting.  it turned out that one of them was a producer for the show.  but he wouldn't spill the beans on what the episode was about.  he did say that rosie o'donnell was going to be filming her show on the same stage next fall.  then they started calling people to the studio.  we finally heard, "the gioconda mitas party."  ahhhhhhh, here we go.

we walked into the studio and sally lou, who i know from the behind the scenes series, walked us all the way to the front of the house.  she sat us in the front row.  i nearly fainted.  3 weeks ago i thought i would never be here and now i am sitting in the front row of the oprah show.  what?!

gaby and i just kept looking at each other in disbelief.  at this point we saw that the show was going to be about the most memorable guests.  no idea who that was going to be.  but honestly the energy in the house was so high and everyone was so excited that we didn't care who was going to be on.  we were going to see oprah and that's all that mattered.

we chatted with some of the other audience members and then all of a sudden, there she was.  she walked out with no shoes on, looking just like oprah.  waving and saying hello.  alright i'm not going to embarrass myself and admit that i may have cried a bit or jumped out my seat, but it was definitely an exciting moment for me.

when she sat down on the couch she was right in front of me.  she made a comment about telling her if  her spanx were showing before she went on national television.  so guess what, we could see her spanx.  so we told her.  that was pretty funny.

then the show started.  definitely watch it today because i think there may have been a shot of the audience and you will be able to see us.

when the first show was done they asked us to stay and be a part of the audience while she taped her introductions to the james frey interview. i watched the show on tuesday and they showed the audience, but not the side that we were on.

we left the show around 4 and went across the street to the oprah store to buy ourselves a little something.  hey if oprah isn't having a giveaway we might as well treat ourselves to something fun, a t-shirt and sweatshirt at least.
we got back to the hotel and had a quick bite to eat at blacky's.  then it was off to the airport for the ride home.
in the airport i took one last chance to get a picture with oprah.
it was such an amazing experience to be there for one of her last shows.  in fact it was her 2nd to the last show in that studio.  we were so lucky to have had this opportunity.    it is something i will never forget and am so grateful for.  and in some ways it inspired me and made me think and made me want to have even more adventures to new places.

thanks sis for coming along.  where are we going next?...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

party planning:: baseball party

on sunday we threw andrew a baseball themed birthday party.  it really was one of the easiest parties we've put together, despite the fact that we had almost 50 people there.  it helps that we have a lot of baseball items around the house and that we've had many team baseball parties already.  when i went to the store to get some supplies i saw all of the 4th of july decorations and decided to go with the all-american baseball theme, lots of red, white and blue.

we held the party at the local park.  we set up a canopy and a few tables for the food.  we had to deal with the wind and the threat of rain.  but in the end it was beautiful weather.  some of us even got sunburned.  we asked guests to bring their own beach/camping chairs  and that seemed to work out great.  we also brought a bbq and ice chests for food and drinks.

the food was a no brainer, hot dogs.  we had beef dogs, polish sausages and turkey dogs. along with the hot dogs we had a variety of chips and fruit, watermelon and grapes.  at the last minute i decided to make a salad with things i had in my pantry.  lettuce, black beans, corn, tomatoes and mexican blend cheese.  we bought salad dressing and tortilla chips to complete the southwest theme.

i put out peanuts, sunflower seeds, licorice and the leftover candy from the goody bags so people could snack while they watched the game.

the cake was easy too.  two 9inch rounds frosted to look like a baseball.  andrew loves lemon so i used a lemon cake mix and spread lemon curd between the layers.  the frosting was simple vanilla.

 i also made cupcakes, chocolate and vanilla with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles.  i bought the cupcake liners and star picks from michael's.

the party favors were cellophane bags filled with cracker jacks, bubble gum, peppermint melt aways (i thought they looked like baseballs), a lollipop and a pencil.  i tied the bags with red, white and blue ribbon.
we reserved a baseball field at the park for a small fee.  we could have just shown up and taken an open field but if you have a reservation you are guaranteed a spot for an hour and a half.  better to be safe than sorry.   bobby brought our baseball equipment, bats, gloves and balls.  kids brought their gloves and we were ready to go.  andrew picked the team names:  the sour pickles and the fried lemons.  we printed out pictures of lemons and pickles and the kids picked out of a hat to determine the teams.
it was so fun playing together.

i love the idea of having a party at the park.  it's so easy and your house doesn't end up all messy.  the hardest part is packing and unpacking.

i know there will be lots of team parties over the next few months.  i hope i gave you some ideas for what to do.