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Paved with Good Intentions

The little trivialities that make up my life

Updated: 2018-02-21T06:23:19.573-08:00


Crave Wednesday: Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches


I can't believe it's been a week since Valentine's Day.  I swear it was yesterday. And I know if I blink, it's going to be right around the corner again.We ended up having a really nice and relaxing day.  I prepped breakfast the day before, so in the morning I just needed to make some cocoa and plate!Typically, the boys each get a Valentine's Day book.  This year I picked up a couple other little things for them too. Thatkid has been very into making Valentines this year. Thatboy helped both kids make cards for me. Apparently, every year Thatboy brings me Irises on Valentine's Day.  And because I'm a terrible wife,  I didn't even realize.  I only found out because he apologized for just bringing a "regular" bouquet home for me. He also apologized for failing to find a Valentine's Day card.  But they did have birthday cards at the store he was at,  so he brought one of those instead.For dinner, we headed out.  Which is always a gamble on Valentine's Day.  But there's a restaurant near us that provides babysitting while you dine, and being able to have adult conversation during dinner is the most romantic thing I can think of.  You can see into the playroom behind us in this picture. They take care of your kids, give them things to play with,  art to create, and they even feed them dinner. We brought the boys to the table to share dessert with us, because it's not Valentine's Day without a sweet treat.Which is what I'm sharing with you today.  Chocolate cookies,  filled with ice cream. I mean,  you don't HAVE to fill them with ice cream.  They're chocolate cookies, they're fantastic on their own.  But if you've got chocolate cookies and ice cream,  why wouldn't you combine them?Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches (from Cooking Light) 1 cup flour 1/4 tsp baking soda1/8 tsp salt1/2 cup dark brown sugar 1/4 cup butter, softened1/2 cup sugar1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa2 egg whites 2 1/4 cups cookies and cream light ice creamPreheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Place brown sugar and butter in an electric mixer.  Beat at medium until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add cocoa and egg whites, beating well. Gradually add flour, beating well. Drop by funded teaspoonsful 1 1/2 inches apart on bashing sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on pan 2 minute,  remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Spread 2 Tbsp of ice cream on flat side of 18 cookies,  top each with another cookie and freeze for 2 hours. [...]

Crave Wednesday: Red Velvet Cupcakes


 Happy Valentine's Day friends! I hope you are surrounded by people you love, and who love you in return.We had a series of several changed and canceled plans this past weekend, which left us with an unexpected free Sunday.We decided to take the boys to the Air and Space Museum because they'd never been, and they love the airplane museum in Palm Springs.There's a special exhibit right now on "Speed" and Thatboy just couldn't pass it up.The boys loved racing their cars down various ramps set up.They rode motorcycles the only way I'm comfortable with them doing so.They learned to change a tire, just like a pit crew. Of course, this was the Air and Space Museum, so we did eventually move on to the airplanes and space shuttles. We watched a 4D movie on the Apollo moon landing, which Thatbaby did not appreciate.  So while Thatboy and Thatkid stayed for some more 4D fun,  the little guy and I went to the kids' playroom where he flew planes, controlled a wind tunnel,  played with legos, and did some photo ops.After the museum, we headed over to the grass for a picnic. And then it was time to fly our own planes.I love spending time with my family, and that's going to continue today.  Gone are the Valentine's days with just Thatboy and I. Now we celebrate as a family.  And I have lots of family fun in store for my boys today.  Including special Valentine's Day treats.I know red velvet on Valentine's Day is cliche.  But I'll be honest with you,  I love red velvet any day of the year.  So the excuse of Valentine's Day?  Red! Rich! Velvety!  I'll take it.  Trite doesn't have to mean bad.   Besides, aren't you looking for an excuse to eat cream cheese frosting?Red Velvet Cupcakes (from Cooking Light) 2 cups cake flour1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp baking soda1/2 tsp baking powder1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa1 1/4 cup sugar1/2 cup butter, softened + 3 Tbsp 2 egg yolks1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup buttermilk1 oz red food coloring3 egg whites1/4 tsp cream of tartar8oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese2 cups powdered sugarPreheat oven to 350. Combine flour, 1/2 tsp salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa. Place 1 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter in large bowl and beat at high speed until blended. Add egg yolks, one at a time,  beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 tsp of vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour mixture and buttermilk amending between the two, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined. Stir in food coloring. Using clean, dry, beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form.  Fold 1/3 of egg whites into batter,  then gently fold in  remaining egg whites.Place 24 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups. Coat with baking spray. Spoon batter into cups and bake for 23 minutes.  Cool in 1n pan for 10 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Place remaining 3 Tbsp butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and beat at medium high speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt.  Beat until smooth. Place frosting in a ziplock bag.  Snip the corner off and pipe frosting on top of cupcakes. [...]

Crave Wednesday: Cherry Almond Crisp


Having grown up in Pennsylvania,  Groundhog's  Day holds a special place in my heart.  In fact,  during many of my formative years I was only a stone's throw away from Punxsutawney,  which wasn't great during KKK meetings,  but was fun whenever Punxsutawney Phil was the reason for gathering.Growing up in California, my children do not have the same appreciation for the day.  They know not the seemingly endless days of winter, when you become a prisoner of your own home.  They do not hold out hope for the arrival of spring and return of outside activities.  They don't even realize that swimming is not a year round activity most places.So I do what I can to bring the magic to them.  Most years we watch Phil's prognostication on YouTube.  But this is my year of planning in advance.  So I recorded the entire event coverage on the weather channel.  All 5 hours.A little bit of fast forwarding,  and my children were right there in Punxsutawney, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Phil.Of course, a special day calls for a special breakfast.  Groundhog pancakes for all! And to really get in the spirit, I let them have hot chocolate.  But you'd never know to look at them. And now that Groundhog's Day is over,  I can officially start prepping for Valentine's Day.  I told you, I am on the ball this year.And of course, prep work is even easier when you go to the supermarket and find bags of cherries everywhere.  And they are so good!  Sometimes I forget how early cherry season starts, but I'm not missing out on any.  A bag barely lasts a day in this house,  shorter when you're using them in baked goods.But cherry,  paired with almond,  gives you this deep,  rich,  red dessert that's perfect for an upcoming holiday. Serve it warm,  because I hear we've got 6 more weeks of winter left to go.Cherry Almond Crisp (from Cooking Light) 1 cup dried tart cherries 2 lbs cherries, pitted 2/3 cup sugar3/4 cup + 3 Tbsp flour1 tsp vanilla extract1/4 tsp ground cinnamon3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats 1/2 cup brown sugar1/4 cup sliced almonds1/2 tsp salt5 Tbsp butter, melted1/4 tsp almond extract Place dried cherries in a bowl with 1 cup of boiling water.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Combine dried cherries,  soaking liquid,  pitted cherries,  sugar,  3 Tbsp flour,  vanilla,  and and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix well.  Let sit for 15 minutes. Coat a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour in cherry mixture and bake for 40 minutes. While it's baking,  combine 3/4 cup flour with oats, brown sugar, almonds,  and salt in a bowl.In a separate bowl,  combine melted butter and almond extract. Drizzle butter mixture over flour mixture,  stirring until clumps form.Remove cherry mixture from the oven and sprinkle with the topping. Bake an additional 20 minutes. [...]

Crave Wednesday:Bourbon Caramel Sauce over Vanilla Ice Cream


So New Year's Eve found us curled up family style on the couch.New Year's Day found us slightly more active.I reinstituted our New Year's Brunch!  I am so much happier throwing a brunch than a New Year's Eve party.  After all,  it means you can stay in your pajamas!And after a night of celebrating,  there's nothing better than a big spread of food.  As usual,  I went completely overboard.  We still have bagels in the freezer!And even though Christmas was over,  it's never the wrong season for decorated cookies.Of course this holiday calls for champagne, and we had plenty of it.  A champagne bar with 4 different flavors of champagne awaited our guests.  I even dressed them up with glitter for the occasion. My secret to the entire event was outsourcing.  I made coffee cake and fruit salad,  and picked up the rest of the food. No one minded. There are times when it just pays to take shortcuts.  And there are occasions when you can spend the time to make it from scratch.This dessert takes a little more time than typing your ice cream with hot fudge.  But it's worth it.  Homemade caramel can be tricky, but a little bit of attention really pays off.  I personally love pineapple, just cut up on its own,  but broiling it adds a whole new level of sweetness. Warm pineapple,  cold ice cream, and a sweet caramel sauce?  Happy New Year indeed.Broiled Pineapple with Bourbon Caramel Sauce over Vanilla Ice Cream (from Cooking Light) 1/2 cup sugar3 Tbsp plus 2 tsp bourbon3 Tbsp waterJuice of 1/2 lemon1/4 cup heavy whipping cream1 tsp vanilla extract1 pineapple, peeled and cored3 Tbsp brown sugar2 cups vanilla fat - free ice cream1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut,  toastedCombine sugar, 3 Tbsp bourbon,  3 Tbsp water,  and juice in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Cook 2 minutes unty the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium,  and cook without stirring for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.Add cream, stirring constantly.  Cool slightly. Stir in 2 tsp bourbon and vanilla. Preheat broiler. Cut pineapple crosswise into 12 rings, then cut each ring in half. Arrange on foil lined broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle pineapple with brown sugar and broil for 12 minutes.Scoop 1/2 cup of ice cream into 6 bowls.  Arrange 4 pineapple slices in each bowl.  Top each serving with 2 1/2 Tbsp bourbon caramel sauce. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tsp coconut. [...]

Crave Wednesday: Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce


We spent Christmas,  as usual, with the in-laws.  And it was just as.... well, it was just as it always was,  with the added bonus of dealing with a 2 year old too. Christmas Eve we traveled into San Francisco to see the sights.  Like the tree in Union Square. Or the one in Nieman Marcus.We stopped into the St. Francis to check out their gingerbread houses.We came back in time to get dressed and had out to church. Dinner was after church, but Thatbaby and I didn't make it because of his epic tantrumming and general 2 year old behavior.  We headed back to the hotel where a bath,  snack, and story sorted things out.When Thatboy and Thatkid came in for the night, we set out the cookies Thatbaby and I made and brought up with us.  Thatkid decided Santa would like some egg nog instead of milk. And sure enough,  when the boys woke up in the morning,  Santa had come!Thatkid had asked Santa for a stuffed animal and Thatbaby wanted Chase from Paw Patrol.  Both were very happy Christmas morning.I don't have any other pictures from Christmas day,  but it was a lot of sitting around waiting to open presents and watching people leave to take naps, and eating no food, because why would anyone have food on Christmas day?We stayed for one more day, during which time the boys played mini - golf for the first time. And went bowling for the second time. As always,  I was very happy to be home.  While others indulged in Christmas sweets and treats,  I miss out on that every year. I've tried making breakfast for everyone, but it just didn't catch on. Instead, I have to live vicariously through every one else. Pretend I'm indulging in rich,  creamy,  brad pudding,  dripping in salted caramel sauce.  It's exactly the kind of thing you would eat after a holiday meal. Right?  I don't know if it is, but bread pudding seems awful Christmas -y to me.  Wintery  in general really.  A sit by the fireplace kind of dessert.Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce (from Cooking Light) 5 cups of cubed French bread1 cup evaporated fat free milk3/4 cup 1% low fat milk1/3 cup sugar5 Tbsp bourbon1 Tbsp + 1 tsp vanilla extract1 tsp ground cinnamon1/4 tsp salt2 eggs3/4 cup brown sugar1 Tbsp butter6 Tbsp half and halfPreheat oven to 350. Arrange bread on a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Whisk evaporated milk, milk,  sugar,  2 Tbsp bourbon,  1 Tbsp vanilla,  cinnamon,  salt,  and eggs in a large bowl. Add bread cubes and let stand 20 minutes. Combine brown sugar, remaining bourbon,  and butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes,  or until the sugar dissolves. Stir in 5 Tbsp half and half and simmer 10 minutes,  or until reduced to 1 cup.  Remove pan from heat.Stir in 1 Tbsp half and half,  1 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Spoon half of bread mixture into a 9x5 loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Drizzle 3 Tbsp sauce over bread mixture. Spoon remaining half of the bread mixture over sauce.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Serve warm sauce with bread pudding.  Top with whipped cream. [...]

Mommy Mondays: You are what you watch


Let's talk about every parents favorite topic - screen time!How much is too much?What are your kids watching?What do you do with your kids if they're not watching tv/playing on the tablet/ playing video games?I don't really have the answer to any of these questions.  Although I do have a handle on the second one.I'm a tv kid.  I grew up on television. I was rocked to sleep at night lulled by the sounds of the Muppets.  I was up early on Saturday mornings to watch Garfield and Friends. At one point in time I knew all the members of The New Mickey Mouse Club.  I also grew up with every new video game system that came out.  Mario, Link,  shooting at ducks... been there,  done that.  And I think I turned out alright.  I'm not anti-screen time by any means.With my kids,  I think we regulate screen time more than my parents did, but for different reasons.1) Time.  For the most part, my kids don't watch television during the week.  Because the only time we're home, they're getting ready for school, eating dinner, or getting ready for bed.  And we've found those things go slower with the television on.2) Attention.  Both our kids have their own tablets.  Which until recently they have only been given during long road trips and airplane rides.  Why? Because when we're in those situations, my children are not easy.  I'm so grateful for even those few moments of quiet I can get when they're immersed in their screens.  And by limiting them to those situations,  I'm able to keep them interested.  It's "special" when they only get to use it a couple times a year.We've revamped a little since Thatkid started kindergarten and stopped napping.  On the weekends, or school breaks, he can do some of his school apps on his tablet during Thatbaby's naptime.3) Access. Although we have a Wii, it hasn't been hooked up since before Thatkid was born. So my kids don't play video games because... they can't.This makes us sound super strict right? Like we're depriving our kids of fundamentally necessary socially relevant information.  So let me reassure you,  there are weekends.Weekends are a free-for-all. On weekends we are running to sports, birthday parties,  and play dates,  but when we're home? When we're home,  chances are those kids are plopped in front of the television.  We do movie nights Friday and Saturday nights.In these instances,  we're more concerned with quality over quantity.  What they're actually watching. Disney Channel and Nickelodeon play big roles in my house.  Scooby Doo is a frequent choice, since Thatboy and I also enjoy it.  During F1 season, weekend mornings are often for racing while I try to grab some sleep or miles.So while I don't have the answers,  I think it's somewhere along the lines of finding what works for you and yours. Finding a balance you're comfortable with,  and ensuring that it is balanced. For us,  that scale may tip heavily on the weekend,  but I don't feel guilty about it because I know that it all evens out in the end.[...]

Sunday Runday: 2018 plans


I have 2 main running goals for this year,  the first is to keep working on my 10k, that goal from last year I dropped the ball on.  Song with that, which should help, is to run more, and more consistently.

I've been doing a lot of shorter runs, and this year I'm trying to get back into 3 miles being the shortest distance I run, and the distance I run at least 4 days a week.  That gives me one day off,  one day I can cut short due to time constraints,  and one day to do a longer run.

As for my runs this year, so far I've only got one half marathon on schedule, the San Diego Half.  And then I'm loading up on 10ks, like the Cardiff Kook, the St. Patrick's Day 10k, The Vista Strawberry Run,  etc.

Of course, the old standbys are still there,  like the Fit Foodie and the Jingle Bell Run.

Here's looking forward to a good running year!

Crave Wednesday: Blueberry Peach Cobbler


 The timing of Chanukah was perfect this year.  It didn't overlap with our trip to the in-laws for Christmas which meant we didn't have to transport presents,  could enjoy the evenings with our family, and spend time celebrating with family and friends!We lit candles,  and this year both boys got to take turns helping.We ate a ton of latkes. I ended up making batches for a Chanukah dinner with friends, and another batch for Thatkid to bring to school.The date meant we got to meet up with  my mom and Thatbrother's family,  who spends Christmas with UDubb's family. We don't always get to vertebrate Chanukah with my family,  so it's always special when we do. And of course, there were lots of presentsHere we are, a month later, and there's less fried food, less presents,  less celebration. As often happens in January I go into super fruit mode.  All I want is fruit.  Mostly I go for oranges. But then... then I found ridiculously cheap blueberries.  Now,  I'm all for seasonal eating, especially with fruit,  but I can't pass up cheap blueberries.  Mixed with some frozen peaches and baked,  this warm dish is perfect for winter, reminiscent of summer, and reason for celebration year round.Blueberry Peach Cobbler (from Cooking Light) 5lbs peaches,  peeled,  pitted and slicedJuice of 1 lemon 1 cup sugar3/8 tsp salt1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour 1 tsp baking powder1/2 cup butter,  softened 2 eggs1 tsp vanilla extract3/4 cup buttermilk2 cups blueberries2 Tbsp turbinado sugarPreheat oven to 375°. Place peaches in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar,  1/8 tsp salt,  and 2 Tbsp flour to peaches and toss to combine. Arrange in 13x9 dish coated with cooking spray. Combine remaining flour, 1/4 tsp salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Beat 1/4 cup sugar and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between additions.  Stir in vanilla. Alternating between dry and wet,  add in for mixture and buttermilk (start and end with the flour)Stir in blueberries.  Spread the batter evenly over peach mixture. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake for 1 hour,  until topping is golden and filling is bubbly. [...]

Mommy Mondays: The Project Problem


Thatkid is halfway through kindergarten now and so far he is loving it.

He's really excelling too, with his reading skills growing by leaps and bounds. The nice thing about his class is that the only homework they've had is for us to read to them, 20 minutes a night.

Except..... there have been two occasions when they gave optional extra work.

The first, was the school read-a-thon, where they raised money for the school by reading as much as they could.  This brought out a really competitive side of Thatkid who wanted to read more minutes than the other kids in his class.  This also made bedtime a lot longer for us, as that 20 minutes of reading turned into 40.

And then, over winter break,  Thatkid decided to take part in another school wide commotion - the biography bottle.

It was an optional assignment to keep the kids busy over break, with a winner chosen from each grade.  Thatkid, who had opted out of the Thanksgiving break assignment, wanted to take part in this one.

And this is when I started working on the fine line between "doing" and "helping."  It's a balance that many parents fail at. Not for any nefarious reason,  but because its 1) hard to watch your kids doing something wrong,  2) it's hard to watch your kids doing something incredibly slowly,  3) sometimes the project is fun.

I will admit to steering Thatkid toward his subject.  He's developed an interest in magic over the past year and received a biography of Harry Houdini for Chanukah.  So I suggested we read that book together for his project.  For a little over a week,  Thatboy and I took turns reading chapters to him,  and luckily,  it definitely piqued his interest.

I had some ideas for how to do the project,  but I forced myself to step back.  I had him draw what he wanted the bottle to look like  (and he picked... the cover of the book.) Then I had him decide what mediums he was going to use to get it to look like his drawing.

We did have a little argument when he kept asking me to make the paint for skin color darker and darker and didn't believe me when I explained that people from Eastern Europe had the same skin as he and I, since our family is from Eastern Europe.

I also manned the glue gun and came up with/ implemented a solution when the lock kept falling off.

I also steered him away from using things like "everyone loved him" as a fascinating fact about Houdini.  And we got into another little argument when I wouldn't do the writing for him.

But overall,  I think we both did really well - him in completing his project and me in letting him complete his project! Let's hope this continues over the next 12 years!

Sunday Runday: Legoland Kids Marathon Mile


When we first did the Legoland kids race,  we loved it and wanted it to be an annual tradition.  Except then Thatkid asked to run a Star Wars race and we ended up doing a RunDisney Star Wars race the same day.Now that Run Disney has cancelled all their Disneyland races,  we can run the Legoland read again.   So this is our second,  first annual Kids Marathon Mile.We got there bright and early to pick up our bibs and shirts.  I don't mind getting there early because they have lots of things for the kids to do.  Like dance contests,  free chick-fil-a, and spin-and-win games with Dave and Busters.Because the race splits up the kids by age,  Thatboy and I also split up.  I took Thatkid,  who I knew would want to run the whole thing. Thatboy stayed with Thatbaby,  who would be in and out of the stroller.Thatkid and I went with the 6 year olds up to the start when it was our turn. They counted us down and off we went. Thatboy ran the whole way,  he worked hard the entire race.As we approached the finish line,  we saw some guys we knew,  just starting the race. No time to stop and chat,  some of us had a race to finish strong!We waited at the finish line for the other half of our family,  and when he saw them,  Thatkid ran out to join them in their run to the finish.Medals for everyone! Another successful race! And that feeling I had the first time? It's back.  I can't wait to do it again next year.  Given the staging, I think Thatkid and I will be able to run the race and finish before Thatbaby starts,  so we'll be able to run it with him too.[...]

Crave Wednesday: Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding


2018 marks a new adventure for our family - we got Legoland passes! We love going to Legoland, and on a tip from the Ks, we managed to score some discounted ones.  One of the perks of the passes was that they started in 2017, so we took advantage of that fact!First, we hit up holidays at Legoland. The park was totally decked out for the season. There was even snow!Thatbaby was insistent on taking advantage of all the character meet 'n greet opportunities. Obviously he was extra excited about Santa.  I couldn't get him to stop touching Santa.Luckily there was a more touchable Santa there. The boys got a lot of driving experience while we were there. And we got Thatbaby a Batman mask, which provided hours of entertainment for all of us.The night we were there, they were also having a Christmas market.  So we grabbed mulled wine, hot cocoa, sausages, and pretzels and sat to watch the nightly tree lighting.The tree lighting was great.  Lights everywhere and fun holiday music,  all working together.On the way out, we stopped at one last ride - The Coastersaurus. The plan was for Thatbaby and I to wait while the bigger boys rode. Except Thatbaby wanted to ride it too.  We tried to explain to him that it was a rollercoaster and would be too scary for him, but he continued to insist that he liked rollercoasters and wanted to ride it.  So we let him.He did not like it.Poor kid.We used our passes one more time in 2017 - the very last day of 2017, New Year's Eve!In direct contrast to his brother's reaction to rollercoasters, Thatkid was much happier riding the thrill ride.  (Thatbaby sat, or rather slept,  this one out.) His request was the helicopter ride, so when he woke up from his nap, we happily obliged. The great thing about Legoland's New Year's Eve is that they do their countdown, and accompanying "brick drop" early,  at 6pm.They handed out hats and special fireworks viewing glasses during the day.Everyone got into the act!As with the tree lighting, we got a good seat early, camped out, and ate dinner while we waited for the countdown. And then it was 5:59 and we were all shooting down numbers as the brick descended. And then came the fireworks! Happy New Year!One more trip to the Coastersaurus (while Thatbaby and I went on the safari ride) and before you knew it,  we were all home and in our pajamas,  watching old movies. We told the boys they could try and stay up to the real midnight. Neither off them made it.Which is fine, because Thatboy and I drank champagne and enjoyed adult time.  Adult time - when you get to indulge in things without your children ruining them.  Like this chocolate pudding.  I mean, sure,  most of us associate pudding with children,  but this pudding? This pudding is for grown ups.  Warm, fresh, well made pudding might be one of Thatboy's favorite desserts. This chocolate pudding, made with bittersweet chocolate,  isn't the super sweet pudding you ate as a kid.  It's darker,  more mellow, more adult.  It's the pudding you easy when the kids are in bed. And the prefect way to round out the year.Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding (from Cooking Light) 1 cup Dutch process cocoa3 Tbsp cornstarch1/4 tsp salt3 1/2 cups skim milk1 cup sugar1 egg, beaten1 egg yolk, beaten2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped 1 Tbsp vanilla extractCombine cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add 1 cup of milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook 2 1/2 cups milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat until it reaches 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil).Remove from heat. Add sugar,  stirring with a w[...]

Mommy Mondays: Winter Bucket List


Here's the biggest problem with winter bucket lists? Most of the stuff you actually did in the fall.  Or at least I do them in the fall,  before the official winter solstice.

The nice thing about that is a lot of our winter bucket list has already been accomplished! We're so on top of things!

  1.  Go see The Nutcracker.
  2. Go see Hamilton. 
  3. Go ice skating. 
  4. Build a gingerbread house. 
  5. Go to a hockey game. 
  6. Go to a basketball game. 
  7. Take a trip to the snow. 
  8. Go see Christmas lights. 
  9. Go to the garden of lights at the botanic gardens. 
  10. Watch Christmas movies.
  11. Listen to Christmas music. 
  12. Follow the Iditarod.
  13. Go sledding. 
  14. Drink hot chocolate. 
  15. Drink egg nog. 
  16. Go see Santa. 
  17. Pick out a Christmas tree. 
  18. Decorate the Christmas tree.
  19. Go to a Christmas tree lighting. 
  20. Stay up till midnight on New Year's Eve. 
  21. Host a New Year's brunch. 
  22. Watch to see if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow. 
  23. Watch the Super Bowl. 
How about you? Is there something you did veggie winter that's on your winter list? Or something you're still looking forward to? 

Crave Wednesday: Warm Caramelized Onion Dip


2017 was the year Thatbaby fell in love with Santa.  It started simply enough,  a shopping center near us was having an event, and we stopped by.  Before we went, Thatbaby told me he wasn't going to sit on Santa's lap, he wanted me there to tell Santa what he wanted.Then we got there and Thatbaby saw Santa.  It was all I could do to contain him as he ran toward the man in red.Thatkid took the first turn, and then it was showtime.My heart swelled when Santa took the time to really speak with him. The event had other fun activities for the kids,  like cookie decorating.Cocoa and fun inflatables.And a train! Later that day we went to another event - the town's tree lighting.  Because when we Christmas,  we Christmas hard.There was more cookie decorating,  of course,  but also snow! And reindeer.And face painting.This is where you can tell how hard my child fell for Santa. They got their artwork hung in a gallery. Which I must prefer to bringing it home.Thatbaby found some photo props and wanted to dress up like Santa.As it got later, we headed over to the trees to watch some of the performances. We found out that instead of a tea lighting, this year we'd be watching a light show.This is also where Thatbaby spotted Santa #2, and despite having seen him earlier that morning, Thatbaby was adamant we see him again. Look at the insanely happy face! Not too long later we went to the Botanical Gardens and I made the mistake of mentioning Santa would be there.  Thatbaby could not stop asking when we were going to see Santa and asking where Santa was.They made a beeline when we got there. After that they were content to race through the lights.We roasted marshmallows. And the kids spent some time sledding.The summer is a great time for salsa and cold dips, but winter is for Santa, sledding, and warm dips. Dips that can serve as meals on their own.  Caramelized onions don't need much added to them, but when you throw in some cheese and herbs you end up with exactly that.  A dip that served with French bread is a meal unto itself. Warm Caramelized Onion Dip (from Cooking Light) 2 tsp olive oil4 cups chopped onion3/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme1/2 cup light sour cream1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese1/3 cup cream cheese1/3 cup mayonnaise1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauceHeat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil,  swirling to coat. Add chopped onion and thyme to pan, saute 10 minutes or until golden brown.Reduce heat to low,  cook 20 minutes  or until onions are deep golden brown.  Remove from heat.Add sour cream and remaining ingredients, stirring until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper and serve. [...]

Happy New Year


May 2018 be a happy and healthy year for you.

Sunday Runday: 2017 in review


It's the last day of the year, and everyone's doing it.  Doing what? Wrapping it up.  Typing up the year with a big bow,  as though it were a present. It's a time of reflection, and even if no-one rose cares,  I like to look back on the year to see what races I should be planning for the next!This year saw a decided downhill curve on my races, a lot at the beginning, but by the last third of the year I was mostly just doing run-walks with Thatkid. I never came any closer to my sub hour 10k than in February, and my speed overall took a nosedive this year.  I did 15 races. That includes 3 half marathons (2 I did not train enough for), 5 10ks and 7 5ks. Here's my breakdown of what I ran this year.Races I loved:Star Wars Half Marathon - I'm super bummed that this is the end of the Disney races.  I had planned on this becoming an annual tradition for Thatkid and I, along with a family trip to Disneyland.Cardiff Kook 10k - Early on I declared this my favorite race of the year.  I love the course, and the distance is great.Run the Solar System Virtual 10k - A storyline to keep you distracted and entertained while you run? I'm all in.Encinitas Half Marathon - I did two inaugural half marathons this year, this was the good one. Same course as the Cardiff Kook, but longer!Vista Strawberry Run - This course was harder than I anticipated, but well worth it.  Everything surrounding the race is top notch, as aide from the killer hool, the course is great.SD Fair 5k - A fun run through the fair!Heart and Stroke Walk - I didn't realize how much I missed the old Balboa Park route until I got to do it again. Fit Foodie 5k  - New course, new running buddy, same great race. Carrera de los Muertos - I loved that I got the whole family to join in the festivities this year, even if my ruining buddy ended up being more of a walking/ dragging buddy. Jingle Bell Run  -  Year after year, I love this race. Sharon's Ride 5k-  Next year I'll hoping to get the whole family to come! Del Dios 10k - not really fair,  since I walked it, and I probably wouldn't have liked it as much if I had run the hills. But I liked that it was close and how well they took care of their runners. Races I didn't love:Hip Hop 10k - I'm never a fan of having to run the same course in laps.Craft Classic - boring course. I did it as a birthday run with a friend,  so here's hoping she'll change her birthday next year. Vista Beer Run - noticing a theme? I love beer, but I think I'm done with beer runs.OC Turkey Trot - the course was super flat, but also a little boring. . [...]

Crave Wednesday: BBQ Potato Chips with Creamy Ranch-Style Dip


 One of our favorite winter traditions is visiting the Hotel Del, taking in the sights,  and drinking cocoa on the beach.There's an ice skating rink,  and for the past 3 years we've taken turns hitting the ice wth Thatkid while the other parent hangs out with Thatbaby. Where else can you ice skate on the beach? Despite only skating 1 day a year,  Thatkid still manages to improve in skill and confidence each year.  Previously he's done a couple laps and called it quits. This year he skated for almost an hour.The hotel's lobby tree never fails to impress. This year, in a nod to their "Winter of whimsy" theme, it was upside down.And if you wandered off into a corner,  you'd find a little menorah setup.  Which did not get the whimsical treatment.As usual there was a sand sculptor on the beach.And the kids decided to do some sand sculpting themselves.We had TMIL with us on this trip,  so we moved our hot chocolate on the beach inside,  and ended up grabbing sandwiches at a very not - kid - friendly cafe.  The sandwiches were all ready made, with chipotle mayo on them, and the chip choices were jalapeno, or cracked black pepper,  or salt and vinegar.  Where are the regular potato chips? The sour cream and onion? The barbeque?At home,  we're more tortilla chip kind of people,  but the boys definitely love their potato chips. And making them in the microwave means I can throw them together fairly easily.  And I can make kid friendly seasonings by sprinkling on some ranch or bbq rub.  And while Thatboy and I love our salsa,  our kids are fairly common in that they would put ranch on everything of they could.  So chips and ranch? They are so there.BBQ Potato Chips and Creamy Ranch Style Dip  (From Cooking Light) 1 large russet potato, unpeeled cut into 1/8 inch thick slices2 tsp grilling rub4 oz cream cheese,  softened 3 Tbsp nonfat buttermilk2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley1 tsp chopped dill 1/2 tsp minced garlic1/4 tsp onion powderArrange 1/3 of the potato slices on a large microwave safe plate. Coat tops of potatoes with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/3 of rub.Microwave uncovered for 4 minutes.  Turn potato slices over and microwave for another 4 minutes. Remove from plate and let cool completely on wire rack. Repeat with remaining potato slices and rub.  Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk in a small bowl. Stir in parsley,  dill, garlic, and onion powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper. [...]

Mommy Mondays: I've got some corn for popping


Well I covered holiday music and holiday reading,  all that's left is holiday movies!  And I'm pretty excited about these.  We started right after Thanksgiving and friends, we will not get through all of them before Christmas.

So,  this was my hardest top 10 to come up with.  How do you narrow it down to 10?

1. Rugrats Hanukah - There is a decided dearth of Hanukah movies, specials, and television shows.  Of the 5 that are out there  (not literally) this is the one we watch every year.  The rugrats do such a great job with Jewish holidays, really making them accessible for kids.

2. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas - I love the Rankin and Bass Christmas specials. They're so 70s, so corny, so perfectly Christmas.  This one about a little mouse who writes a nasty letter to Santa as almost ruins Christmas is one of my favorites

3. The Year without a Santa Clause - My favorite Rankin and Bass.  Who doesn't love the Miser Brothers? (Or as Thatkid calls them,  "The Misner Brothers)

4. A Christmas Story - We haven't shared this one with the kids yet, but it's such a classic holiday movie about being a kid at Christmas that it had to find a home on the list.

5. Elf - We introduced this one last year and it was an instant favorite for Thatkid. He manages to talk his brother into requesting it too, so we end up watching it once a week.

6. Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas - I can't help it,  I'm a child of the Muppet Generation.   (Is that a thing? It should be.) Jim Henson + Christmas = Happiness.

7. Muppet Christmas Carol - My favorite retelling of the Christmas Classic.  I also love Scrooged, but this is more family friendly.

8.  Home Alone - Thatkid loves this movie so much he watches it year round.

9. The Grinch who Stole Christmas - This one is currently Thatbaby's favorite.  He loves that Grinch.

10. It Happened on 5th Ave. - This one makes my list, not because my kid likes it, but because it's my favorite.  Classic farce, filled with good feelings,  helping your fellow man,  and of course,  billionaires pretending to be down and out homeless people.

Sunday Runday : Del Dios 10k


The other night, Thatboy and I were in an argument.  During the argument I pointed out that he lacked self awareness, which is not a problem I have.  I am well aware of my flaws.  One of them being that I have a hard time saying no.

So last Saturday night when SDMom texted me to join her for the Del Dios 10k the next morning,  it should surprise no-one that I said yes. Now in my defense, I looked for any easy way out.  Maybe it was too early in the morning? It wasn't.  Maybe it was too far away? It wasn't.  So Sunday morning I found myself on a windy road canopied by trees, heading down to Lake Hodges.

I met up with SDMom, who informed me that she doesn't run anymore, so we would be hiking.  I rolled my eyes at her proclaiming, because I believe her as far as I could throw her, and I have no upper body strength.

But I fully support her slowing down, given that she runs more half marathons in a year than I may have run total. So instead of running, we turned this trail race into a hike.  It gave us some fantastic 1 on 1 time to trade stories and updates.  And even though we were walking, the time went way too fast.

As for the course itself,  it was hot and very exposed.  Which wasn't a huge a problem. The huge problem was the wind.  You may have heard about the fires tearing across southern California.  Well,  the reason they have been so out of control is in part due to ridiculously strong and violent winds.  During the race the wind kicked up an insane amount of dust. We were basically running through a dust storm!

The race amenities were great though. Trail races are known for this, and this was no different. Beer, water,  Propel, pancakes, committees, red vines, popcorn - if you were hungry or thirsty, there was something there for you.

So while I wasn't intending on participating in a 10k trail race,  it turned out to be a great way to start the week.

O Tannenbaum: Egg Nog


Happy Chanukah everyone! We celebrated the first night last night and it was a success.  Candles,  dreidels, sufganiyot and presents.  But you'll notice there are very few community Chanukah activities.So instead I'm commemorating the festival ood lights with a different kind of lighting - tree lighting! We've been to three separate tree lightings.  The first was way back in November.Every year the Old Globe puts on a production of The Grinch every year.  And every year the casts lights the tree at the theater.  I've always wanted to go, but I further it's early and by the time I remember tickets are long gone.This year I was on top of it, and early November found us gathered around a tree that was already beautiful, even before being lit. We stayed toward the back, so we could sit in the grass and munch our complimentary popcorn. When the show started,  we hosted the boys on our shoulders so they could see. The cast puts on a little show before the lighting which involves the Grinch proclaiming his hatred of Christmas, only to be won over by Cindy Lou Who and the other Whoville children. We were not in the best position for picture taking, so you'll have to settle for this snap I got of the green guy. And then the Grinch lifted Cindy Lou to the switch to turn on the lights.  And "snow" feel all around.  It was pretty magical.Thatboy complained about how early in the season the tree lighting occurred,  grumbling that it might have well been July.Personally, we wait for tree - related celebrating until after Thanksgiving. The weekend after we stuffed ourselves with turkey we headed to pick out our Christmas tree.The boys quickly fell in love with various trees at the farm.Finally we found one that Thatboy approved of and while they tied it to the roof of our car, the boys kept themselves buddy.And then all that was left was decorating and lighting it!With our tree up,  it officially feels like holiday time. We've traded in apple cider for hot cocoa and egg nog. Lots of egg nog. We quickly ran into a problem, finding that the containers of egg nog sold at our local stores are finished in a day.The only solution is to make it yourself. Trust me,  it sounds more intimidating than it is. The recipe itself is easy, but it does need time to sit, so plan in advance.  Also,  this is the kind of eggnog you don't share with your kids!Egg Nog (from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)12 Eggs yolks12 Egg whites1 1/2 cups sugar1/4 teaspoons salt1 quart heavy cream1 quart milk1 quart bourbon whisky1 cup rumBeat egg yolks with 1 cup of sugar and salt until very light.  Beat egg whites until stiffBeat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  Combine yolks and whites and beat until thoroughly blended.  Beat in creamBeat in milk.  Stir in whisky, beat well.Add rum.  Pour into a gallon jug and refrigerate for one week.Shake thoroughly before serving. [...]

Mommy Mondays: Holiday Reading


Both of my kids still do bedtime stories, and if we're being perfectly honest, I do too. Something about being curled up in bed and reading just seems like the perfect way to end the day.

And this time of year,  seasonal reading arms very appropriate.  I can't wait to get my hands on Hiddensee, Gregory Maguire's take on the nutcracker story.

Until then, here are some favorites we're sharing in our home!

For the little guys:
The Hanukah Bear -  I love this story of the best that wakes up from his hibernation and follows the scent of latkes. Because I would do the same thing.

The Night Before Christmas - It's a classic for a reason.  I mean, it gives us the iconic image of Santa.

Just Enough Is Plenty - A family in a Polish shtetle find a way to make their latkes stretch to feed the mysterious stranger who shows up on their doorstep the first night of Chanukah.

The Polar Express - On the cusp of believing? Take a ride on the Polar Express to the North Pole!

Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah - a good introduction to the Hanukkah celebration. Plus Clifford saves the day,  as usual.

For the slightly older:
The Latke Who Wouldn't Stop Screamed - I can't help it.  I love Lemony Snicket.

A Christmas Carol - the original Christmas ghost story. I still remember reading it in school!

A Little Princess- Technically not a Christmas story,  but since the Christmas scene is so magical, I think it counts.

For the kids at heart:
The Gift of the Magi - This introduced and sparked my love for O. Henry.  It's a classic Christmas story, so sweet, and bittersweet.

Matchless - I love the story of The Little Match Girl. Even though it makes me cry.  Gregory Maguire is wonderful at yakking classic stories and retelling them.  This is no different.  And the retelling still makes me cry.

Sunday Runday: Jingle Bell Run


My town has a Christmas parade.  It's supposed to be a pretty big deal.  Basketball was cancelled the day of the parade because people would have a hard time getting there.But we've never had a chance to see it, because it is always the same day as the Jingle Bell Run.  Every year I think about skipping the run, rolling out of bed, and going to the race.  And every year I think about the fact that we've been running this race since before Thatkid was born,  and I don't want to break the streak.And then we get there, and I remember why we return year after year after year.  It has something for everyone in the family to enjoy.We dressed up in our festive best and loaded the children in their wagon.As soon as we got there, Thatbaby spotted Santa.  Thatbaby is obsessed with Santa this year and couldn't wait to go say hi.The kidzone was, as usual,  filled with fun things for the boys, like cookie decorating, coloring,  and home depot projects.He also wanted to run the race this year. So we started the race together, with Thatkid running ahead and Thatboy trailing behind with the wagon and Thatdog.It didn't last long before he wanted back in the wagon, and Thatdog and I took off to catch up with Thatkid.As usual there were some great costumes.By the turnaround we were all back together again.Right before mile 3, Thatkid was ready to take off again and we made a final race to the finish.Then we turned around and headed back so we could run across the finish with Thatbaby.After the race Thatboy headed to the beer garden while the kids did some more coloring and ornament making.See?  Something for everyone.[...]

Crave Wednesday: Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips


We're very equal opportunity with holidays around here.  Partially because we're an interfaith family.  Partially because we live in an area with various cultures.So in addition to Halloween,  we also partake in Dia de Los Muertos festivities.  After participating in the Carrera de Los Muertos we headed over to Old Town San Diego,  where they go all out in celebration.Everywhere you turned there were calaveras and calacas, symbols of the holiday.There were all sorts of vendors, like Juanita's, who were handing out samples of their delicious soup and frozen hot chocolate.   We already love their Mexican hot chocolate and keep it in our pantry.There were stages with dancers and performances.  And we sat and watched for a while.They also had crafts for the kids.  The boys sat and made their own Day of the Dead masks!If your kids are like mine then you know that most outings like these are filled with requests for snacks.  Or maybe I'm just lucky.In any event,  my Mary Poppins bag always holds the answer and I throw some snacks in there. Pretzels, granola bars,  or homemade potato chips!Sour cream and onions are one of my favorite kinds of chips, they seem a step up from regular ole potato chips, but still kid friendly.  And really,  all it takes is a mandolin. Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips  (from Cooking Light) 1 large russet potato cut into 1/8 inch thick slices1 1/2 tsp dry ranch dressing mixArrange one third of potato slices on a large microwave safe plate.  Spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the ranch dressing mix. Microwaved, covered, for 4 minutes.  Turn over and microwave for another 3 minutes until dried and crisp. Remove from plate and cool on a wire rack.  Repeat with remaining potatoes and ranch dressing mix. [...]

Mommy Mondays: Here We Come A Wassailing


Happy December!

Are your kids as excited about the holidays as mine are? December is the best with kids and we take full advantage.

Holiday music starts playing as soon as Thanksgiving ends.  And my children love to sing along. 

There's nothing that makes the season more magical to me than holiday music.  I have so many playlists, and make more each year!

With that in mind, here are my top 10 holiday songs for kids.  Or,  my kids' favorite holiday songs.

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Sunday Runday: OC Turkey Trot Gobble Wobble Kids Dash


This year Thatkid has been requesting a lot of races.  One of those races was the turkey trot he did last year.The great thing about this turkey trot is that it has kids races,  divided by age.  Which means I didn't have to drag him through 5 miles.  Since there was a separate division for 2 and under I signed Thatbaby up to run too - his first actual race he would run himself!We arrived early,  and it's a good thing we did,  because the race was much more crowded than last year with lines backed up trying to get in the parking lot.  The nice thing about doing a race near where we would spend Thanksgiving is that we missed all traffic getting there.All the trouble getting in,  and the extra crowds meant that many of the racers started late,  which meant there were too many on the course to start the kids races on time.We kept the kids occupied as best we could with the photo booth,  but even that lost its Allie and they got antsy.Finally it was time to line up.  Except the divisions were totally different than what we registered for. Instead of 2 and under , Thatbaby was placed with the 2-4 year olds.  Which made him very overwhelmed and he turned to me and said "mama you run with me?"  And so I did.When he finished, we hurried over to see Thatkid off as he started his race.Success for both my little turkey trotters.Success and pie.[...]

Crave Wednesday: Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Which is the perfect time to recap Halloween, right? Well whether it is or not, here we are.I wanted to do a special breakfast, but weekday mornings are hard since I get the boys ready for school.  So I incorporated them in breakfast making.  I used Trader Joe's pumpkin rolls and popped them in the oven while the boys and I whipped up some cream cheese frosting.  A little food coloring and we were on our way!This is the first year that Thatkid was allowed to wear a costume to school, and he took full advantage.His school had a Halloween parade and it was the cutest thing ever.  I seriously get such joy out of Halloween.  Seeing all the kids dressed up fills my heart with joy.After school we got ready for trick or treating.This year we decided to join forces with the kids' best friends and all go out together.Thatbaby started out with his little friends.  He got so into it.Eventually his being so into it meant he didn't wait to wait for his slowpoke friends (someone inherited his dad's long legs and quick stride) and he joined the bigger boys in their candy quest.After we'd hit a fair amount of houses we retired back to home base where the kids sat around and indulged in their spoils.It was a pretty successful night.Believe it or not, the boys have barely made a dent in these buckets.  Thatkid donated a pound of it to send to the troops, and neither of them gets more than a piece at a time, usually on a weekend afternoon.  So we'll have leftover candy for the foreseeable future.And speaking of leftovers, are y'all ready for Thanksgiving leftovers?  For me, this is way better than candy.  In fact, I love Thanksgiving leftovers so much, I made my own!  Last year TMIL spent Thanksgiving with us, and our usual weekend with my mom turned into just spending the day and heading home after dinner.  So no leftover turkey the next day. No leftover stuffing. This year we're doing the same thing.  But this year I'm prepared. Last week I made a turkey, stuffing, the works!  And I have leftovers! Last night we even had burrito bowls made with leftover turkey.  In preparation for our feast I had bought pounds and pounds of sweet potatoes...that I ended up not using.  It seemed overkill to add to the mashed potatoes I had already made for the four of us.  So I also ended up wit "leftover" sweet potato.Luckily sweet potatoes are easy to use.  A side that goes side just about everything.  A meal in itself with panfried with some sausage or stuffed with ground turkey.  When cut super thin and baked they turn into the perfect crisp accompaniment to sandwiches and burgers.  A great fall alternative to your regular potato fries!Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries (from Cooking Light)3 Tbsp orange juice2 tsp vegetable oil1/2 tsp ground ginger1/4 tsp salt1/8 tsp ground red pepper2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick stripsPreheat oven to 400. Combine orange juice, oil, ginger, salt, and red pepper in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.Combine juice mixture and potatoes in a large bowl, tossing well to coat.  Remove potatoes and discard juice.  Arrange potatoes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes.[...]