Monday, August 31, 2015

2015 weekly menu #36

i changed the plan shortly after posting my menu last week.  i had to when i found out it was national waffle day.  it's something we've always wanted to try - chicken and waffles and it was a big hit. next time we're going to roscoe's.

we had such a great week last week. taylor swift concert, disneyland and a beach trip to end the summer.  this week it's all about school.  back to school night at notre dame, back to school picnic at cha and the first home football game of the season.  oh, and one celebration - our 21st wedding anniversary. our calendar is already packed.

here we go.

weekend eats
saturday: beach bbq
sunday: mexican food

making this week
monday:  orange chicken, shrimp stir fry and rice
tuesday: back to school bbq
wednesday: broccoli-bacon mac 'n' cheese
thursday: pizza
friday: football kick off dinner & game

this week i'm also thinking about healthy school lunches. lots of leftovers and homemade foods. i have some planning to do.

happy monday.

Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 weekly menu #35

this was the prettiest thing i ate last week. we got together with friends for an end of the summer dinner and as usual they went all out.  this was the appetizer: honeydew, prosciutto, mozzarella and basil skewers with a balsamic reduction. thank you for a great night!

last week i was completely engaged in the week in the life project.  i have hundreds of photos to go through and pick out for this project.  i'll share some of my favorites this week. (hint: that photo above is one of them.)

this is our last week of summer vacation before the younger kids start school. we are going to make the most of it!!

i just looked at last week's menu and we only made it to tuesday. the rest of the week we were out or just didn't eat what was planned. some weeks are like that.

making this week
monday:  bbq chicken salad
tuesday: gnocchi with pasta sauce, caesar salad
wednesday: everyone is on their own
thursday: green salsa chicken tacos
friday: first football game of the year. go knights!!

wishing everyone a happy week.

Monday, August 17, 2015

2015 weekly menu #34

not that i'm complaining.
but really?

it's not a typical monday for us. we had a great weekend.  we are recovering from a fabulous party on saturday night where we danced the night away. but we could use a few more hours of sleep. getting up at 6am this morning was not easy. jordan started his junior year of high school today. yikes! i got to take him this morning and he even let me take his picture. sofia is on her way home after a week of adventuring. andrew is the only child at home, for a few hours at least. our air conditioner is not working. that's right, it was 500 degrees this weekend and we don't have an air conditioner.  relief is on the way, i hope.

weekend eats
saturday: #noahsmitzvahbowl which included an in-n-out truck
sunday: dinner from islands

making this week
monday:  salmon with yogurt dill sauce, cucumber and feta salad
tuesday: pan seared pork chops, appplesauce, salad
wednesday: bbq chicken salad
thursday: turkey lettuce wraps, garlic green beans
friday: zucchini noodles with meat sauce

ok monday. i'm ready for you!

Thursday, August 13, 2015


last saturday jordan and his band had a gig in hollywood. his rock band, as opposed to his marching band from school. jordan and his cousin, my nephew chris, started playing together about 3 years ago. pretty much the time that jordan's been playing drums. he is on such an awesome musical journey.

the club where the boys played is a spot meant for young musicians who want to show off their talents and get some experience playing before a live audience.  it's a "no alcohol, all ages venue" and the perfect place to showcase young talent.

the boys feel comfortable here. they've played here a few times. it's a private venue for just a handful of family and friends or a room full of fans.  of course, they rocked it.  they played a 30 minute set with originals and covers.  they have a good flow for their show and it's been incredible to see them grow as musicians and showmen. the highlight for me is when they play come together by the beatles. i remember when they played it for the first time and i was blown away.  they keep getting better and better.

this was the show before my nephew chris heads off to college. he is going to florida state but will spend his freshman year in spain - lucky guy.  he has been instrumental (heehee) in lighting the musical fire for jordan. this kid can play anything, guitar, piano, drums, he even plays the ukulele. he is the group's vocalist and he writes the music. he is basically a musical genius.  he is the kindest, most dedicated young man.  he will do great things and be an outstanding human grown up.

jordan will miss him.  chris is more like an older brother than a cousin.  they share this immense love of music and it has bonded them for life.  jordan played the drums in the garage for hours rehearsing and learning new music.  being a part of this band gave him someone to play for, an audience that appreciates it, and a motivation to be a better drummer.  now he's teaching himself to play the guitar.

junior is the talented bassist of this group. they met while the three of them were playing in another band.  jordan and chris broke off from that band, too much drama, to start encore and junior came along. we are just getting to know him but he's been a driving force of this group as well.

they let us staple the ticket stub to the wall and my sister in law put it right next to echosmith's ticket for good luck.  everyone starts somewhere, right?

these kids have played at a guitar store, a restaurant, a street fair, a high school concert and this venue. each one of them is ridiculously talented and dedicated to this little band of three. what a fun ride for these boys.  they have something special together and i'm excited for what the future has in store for each of them.  keep following your dreams.

i'm not going to call this their farewell performance, it's just the last performance before college. i will call for an encore of encore when chris is back in l.a. and we'll be sure to invite you.

Monday, August 10, 2015

2015 weekly menu #33

last week grandma sue was here to make jam with the kids. she does most, if not all, of the work. the kids help smash fruit and i gather the jars but that's about it. we now have jam jars to give as gifts, or completely devour on pancakes and toast, it's good stuff. strawberry and peach for the win!

i was up extra early today, 5am, to cook eggs and serve breakfast at notre dame to the returning faculty. tonight i am helping to serve dinner to the band students. it's all about service this week!

our whole30 program was an epic fail last week. bobby made it until thursday when he inadvertently ate hummus at a work lunch (no beans are allowed). we had dinner with friends on friday night and we couldn't resist the bruschetta, and wine. we kind of knew we were done for and not 100% committed by then so it was easy to fall prey to the temptation.

we are trying to figure out a compromise this week. we ate really good food last week and in the few days we did it we saw changes.  would love to keep that going.

weekend eats
saturday: ate out in hollywood before jordan's band gig
sunday: pielogy

making this week
monday:  chicken noodle soup
tuesday: pan seared pork chops, appplesauce, salad
wednesday: bbq at notre dame for last day of band camp
thursday: bang bang shrimp, cole slaw, garlic green beans - didn't make this last week
friday: bbq ribs, loaded baked potatoes

looking forward to another good week.

Friday, August 7, 2015

thoughts on a summer road trip

i found this post card in a store in san diego and it spoke so loudly to me. i love to travel. i love discovering and learning about and seeing the world. i can't say i'm a huge adventurer but i give it a try. this is what travel brings to me, a change deep and permanent in my idea of living.

it could be something as small as realizing i can work with one pot and one pan to cook meals. or how much i love to read and immerse myself in a book when there is nothing else i should be doing. or spending unmeasured time on the swings with sofia, playing games with the boys or looking at the stars on a picnic table with bobby.

i walk back into my life inspired, changed, happier.

i go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. - john burroughs

i treasure all of the photos that i take on our trips. but sometimes they just can't capture the beauty and magnitude of the moment. i remember walking through the park on our hikes and trying to take in the enormity of this world that we live in. it opens my eyes again, it makes me feel something, it touches my soul.  

we were out for a hike one day, our feet crushing the leaves and sticks, kids were laughing and chatting about something, we were chewing on trail mix and then we stopped. i asked everyone to just take a moment to listen and look. the sun coming through the trees, the sound of the birds, the stillness of it all.  for a minute the five of us stood there and let it sink in. (maybe that was just me but indulge me, will you?) that moment is the moment i will go to when life is active and stressful all around me. that is where my mind and heart will go when i just need a breath to get me through. 

i think one of my favorite feelings is laughing with someone and realizing halfway through how much you enjoy them and their existence.

every trip we take, whether it's to hawaii, mexico, a houseboat, an rv, or a road trip reminds me of the incredible family i am blessed to share my life with.  my kids are growing way too fast. college is not too far off for jordan, andrew will be in high school next year and sofia is no longer the baby (technically). although i hope they will still want to vacation with us as they grow up, and someday bring their families along, it's not going to be like this forever.  i cherish this and hold on to it as long as i can.

a road trip is hard. many hours, hundreds of miles, constantly answering "how much longer?" we have to take turns on music, come up with games to play, and agree on food stops.

there is also so much laughter.  we played games while we were camping and i don't think i've laughed that hard in a long time.  everyone works together to pack, unpack, clean, walk each other to the bathroom, find a lost toothbrush, spray each other with bug spray.  it's a team that i am honored to be a part of.

i sort of love these people with all my heart.  i don't care if we are away for the week or the weekend. if we are at a resort or a motel 6 (that's a lie, i hate motel 6!). i will chose to spend my time with them every.single.time.

in our daily lives we are going 5 different directions at once, sometimes 10, sometimes 20. trips like this help us regroup so we can share experiences and moments that will be with us even when we're not physically together.

actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures... lewis caroll alice in wonderland

he is a huge reason why trips like this work.  he sets the road map, literally. he knows that if i did it we would stop in palm springs "on our way" to hearst castle. he does the driving, he finds the campground (or vrbo house), he talks to the ranger, he starts the campfire (really i'm the expert at that but who's counting?)  we are all getting good at putting up our tents, but he taught us everything we know.

this process tests us. we don't always agree on where to go or what to do. he always votes for inexpensive adventure. i always vote for drinks with umbrellas (actually he does too). it's stressful getting everyone and everything in the car without forgetting something - or someone. it's a matter of compromise and teamwork, something we are always striving for.

whether it's just the two of us going to italy for  our 15 year wedding anniversary or him convincing me to go on a houseboat trip when i was 7 months pregnant or taking an rv back from colorado, we do it with love (and just a little attitude.) we get through the bickering and petty disagreements. we forgive each other for the minor mistakes (renting a stick shift in tuscany) and we always, always make the best of it.  he is my travel companion for life.

can't wait to see what adventures this coming year has in store for us.  i'm secretly hoping for spain and or cabo. wherever we go, i know it will be amazing.

summer road trip - part 1
summer road trip - part 2
summer road trip - part 3

i am linking this post to stephanie howell's blog your heart out.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

summer road trip - part 3

san diego

it was hard getting up on saturday morning to pack the truck up again. it was even harder to get the kids in the car while they were complaining about driving for another 3 hours. somehow we got it done.

a lot less stuff this time but we still had our camp chairs and blow up mattress.

every year my mom's family hosts a family reunion. most of the time we do it in san diego because the majority of the people can make it.  we meet up at the same spot, grill burgers and hot dogs, play some volleyball and take family photos.

first thing for the kids is heading to the water.  perfect spot for them to get wet and cool off. it was very hot that day and the water was a welcome relief.

the official volleyball game happened after we left but we got some practice time in.

this year there was lots of picture taking.


this is family that i spent a lot of time with growing up.  the cousin on the left is the one who gave me and b our "b" names. the cousin on the right is the cutest thing you will ever meet.

bobby and i had to get on the selfie wagon.

even though our family seems bigger we were missing many that could not make it. some because of prior commitments and some because they are no longer with us. my cousin took a moment to honor my uncle with a  moment of silence. he looked forward to coming to these reunions every year and he was missed.

it's never enough time together but it's always worth the drive.

bobby's cousins live in san diego, so we always make plans to hang out with them when we're here.  and the kids couldn't wait to see their cousins.  the little ones were excited to have a movie in the backyard.

we watched from the pool area and had an amazing view of the city.

sunday was all about getting in the pool and playing with the kids.

lots of pool toys.

it was like being at a resort;  beach chairs, umbrellas, a good book and a pool.

the kids got to FaceTime with their cousin aiden in paso robles.

and there was a friendly game of soccer in the backyard.

these kids have such a great relationship.  they understand each other on a different level, and with a different language - cuckoo swans, zombie lions, nice chopa nice. my kids adore their cousins.  it makes me happy that they will grow up having this bond. a bond that i shared with my cousins growing up and that bobby has with his cousins.

we ordered pizza, grilled burgers and got take out sushi.

our last night together we made s'mores. seems to be a recurring thing on this trip.

the next morning melissa and grady were off to school early.  we hung out with derek and kendall and then went to north park for breakfast and to check out the town.

we had a lot of options but decided to try out the mission.

chilaquiles, breakfast sausage, eggs, country potatoes, and pancakes. oh those were good pancakes. great little spot in san diego.

 we took a little bit of time to walk around and get inspired.  north park is a hipster area with lots of cool coffee spots, restaurants and unique shops.

we had to stop by pigment for a little shopping browsing.  they have cool paper products and home decor everywhere you turn.  and i loved this wall.  we bought a tumbler, a little necklace for sofia and that cool handmade postcard at the top of this post.

we had planned on seeing antman at some point during the trip.  on our way home we decided to stop in glendora to catch the show ten minutes before it started. jordan had to be at swim practice at 6:30 and this was the only opportunity we had.  we loved it!! so entertaining and funny.

is there any other choice for dinner on a california road trip? i think not.

thanks for coming along on our crazy adventure.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

summer road trip - part 2

little basin state park
we left paso robles tuesday morning and made the 2 hour drive to santa cruz.  we did our grocery shopping here where there is a target and trader joe's - felt like home.

it's fun shopping with the whole family. ok, maybe not fun.  i have to describe what we need and where to find it and then send them back if they got the wrong thing. but it's helpful to have five people going to five different places at once.

bobby packed the ice chest and then we drove another 45 minutes to the campground.  little basin is part of the big basin redwood state park. and that is as much as i know about it.  well, that and it's beautiful, secluded, quiet, used to be a corporate retreat for hewlett packard filled with bluejays, mosquitos and racoons. and it was the only camping we could find for this week - so we went with it.

but seriously! this was unbelievable.  our first campsite was nice but too small for the five of us, two tents, chairs, kitchen and it was by the stream that was not flowing but covered in mosquitos.  we spent one night here and then bobby requested that we move to a bigger site - there was literally no no one else camping on our side of the campground.

we picked up our tents and walked them across the road.

to a deluxe apartment in the sky... to a more spacious spot.  we had room all around us to spread out and play, still close enough to the restrooms and not too far from the entrance - pretty ideal if you ask me.

we turned our little spot into our home rather quickly stringing up battery operated lights.  these were helpful when it got pitch black and you were walking back from the bathrooms trying to find your site.  and it made it feel special.

we had no plans during the four days we were here, other than relax, play games and explore.  we had some wicked bananagram tournaments and got vicious on phase 10.

we have a good set up for cooking.  bobby's been camping since he was a little kid and has tools that he's been using for a long time. i am always surprised when we camp like this and i can get by with one pot and one pan. granted the meals are simple and don't require lots of prep but it's a good reminder to not get bogged down in the things and just make life simple. we also set up our dishwashing system, sofia does the washing, andrew does the rinsing and jordan dries. who needs a dishwasher?

our meal planning is exactly what we do at home. i came up with a menu that included breakfast and lunch for the week.  we made a list trying to keep the ingredients to a minimum. we bought salad kits, meat/chicken that was already seasoned, and pre-made salsa, guacamole, and pasta sauce. simple and quick. this night we had prepared bbq ribs and tri-tip from trader joe's, a salad kit that i added strawberries to and the kids favorite shells and cheese mix.

the rangers warned us about critters coming into the camp to eat food so we kept everything in the provided bear box in our campsite - no bears in the area but that's what they call it.  one night after dinner we were playing a game and had yet to take the trash to the trash can. andrew looked over and said, there's a really big cat under the table. i looked to see it wasn't a cat, but a big fat raccoon tearing open the trash bag and eating the scraps of fruit.  the kids and i jumped on the table and watched bobby wrestle the bag away and yell at it to go away. we were no help. everyone decided it was bed time after that. 

we had eggs, pancakes, breakfast burritos and cereal for breakfast. we also had lots of fruit and trail mix to munch on. lunch was ham and turkey sandwiches, chips and fruit.  easy to make ahead and pack in our backpacks.

 you cannot go camping without making s'mores.  we had the biggest marshmallows you have ever seen to roast over the campfire.

 they made the s'mores extra gooey.  our secret ingredient is fresh fruit.  bananas and strawberries are the best.

i also bought some specialty chocolate for fun; caramel brownie and molten lava cake. but i've heard a reece's peanut butter cup is the way to go. something for next time.

our campground sold these chubby cubby ice creams.  two cookies sandwiched on some chocolate ice cream and covered in chocolate. the kids hated them.

big basin state park was about 20 minutes away from this campground. it's much bigger with lots of good hiking trails and natural sights.  our first visit we took a 2.5 mile hike through the park headed toward one of the waterfalls.

i have so many photos of trees. tall trees and lots of sunlight peaking through. it was awesome.

the waterfall wasn't as impressive due to the lack of water.  but we made it there and then made the trek back.

so much green.

one of the days we were there we saw a group who were hiking from the park to the ocean over a few days. they were dressed in pioneer type clothing and carried all of their supplies in wagons that they took turns pushing. kind of a cool things to see.

the park also had this cut out from a tree that illustrated the growth of the tree in relation to significant historical event.

it was impressive.

this was our last morning in the campground. everyone was packing up and moving out as a big group of 400 campers were coming in for the weekend.

 we went to the campfire put on by the rangers at the park.  we've been to a few of these and it's always fun to hear the stories and learn a little more about the place we are staying in.  the kids used native american tools to start a fire, or at least try.

they also played games with simple tools and rules.

we got to use the telescope to look at the moon.  i loved the skyline right as the sun was going down.

we did a lot of reading in our tents, to get away from the bugs. nights were cold - at least for me and it's the hardest thing for me to cope with when we're camping. i get cold, really cold in the tent. i need a ridiculous amount of blankets, a sweatshirt, long pants and sometimes even a hood or i hide under the covers to warm up my nose.

on our way out of town we stopped at a local deli to get sandwiches and then went to the park to eat. a park with a beautiful stream.

stunning views on the drive home.

we spent a lot of time in the car together. we don't have a tv or dvd player and jordan is the only one who listens to his iPod in the car. we have to agree on music, find things to talk about and look out the window at the world.  we couldn't wait to get home on friday night to unpack and do a load of laundry. saturday morning it's back in the car for part 3 of our trip.