Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat

Usually, our trick or treating consists of walking up and down our block and maybe one perpendicular block.

Tonight, we went with some friends who take Halloween SERIOUSLY! We started at 6:45 and got back to their house at 9:30pm! And the little monkey ran and kept up with the teenagers for 2 hours of it! She even beat out the big monkey and her friends!!!

The candy bounty was pretty crazy!


Big Monkey

Little Monkey

The Bounty

Torn between love and hate

On Friday's, I pull up and view the Friday sale. I am obsessed with the Kitchen and Dining deals.

There was a really cute bowl by Rachel Ray. On closer inspection I read that it's a "garbage bowl". REALLY?!?!?!?!?! Don't get me wrong - I love the concept and thanks to her I do use a "garbage bowl" when I cook, but..... I JUST USE A REGULAR BOWL!! Have we really gotten so mind numb as a society that we are willing to pay for a "special" garbage bowl? To me, that is why we are in a financial crisis - people are buying crap that they already have around the house - like a frickin' bowl!!

Of course, as a regular bowl, it is very cute and I could see myself buying it just to use as a bowl, but on principal I wouldn't use it for garbage ;)

Rachel Ray Brick Garbage Bowl:

Not seeing anything that was an "amazing" bargain (at least for me) I decided to peruse Home and Garden. I found the most interesting item!

Evriholder Slipper Genie Microfiber Cleaning Slippers:

I don't know whether to love it or hate it! Can you imagine cleaning your floors in these and then forgetting they were on and going out in them? Or someone ringing your doorbell?

Has anyone used them? Please leave a comment and let me know!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I think I can..chug, chug, chug

Most days I feel like it's all I can do to just keep chugging along. My routine is set and I just keep going. Until I get exhausted - and still have to do it all! Like every other woman and/or mother I know!

Anyhow, Halloween is tomorrow. We have the costumes - of course, neither of the girls have tried them on, eek!!!!

There's a pot luck at work tomorrow, and the big monkey has her class party after her costume parade. I opted for easy with both. And actually, my main course for the pot luck is going to be easier than the food for the class party!

I decided on chicken wings for the pot luck. I've been reading a great blog,, about a woman who is using her crockpot every day for 365 days, and all her recipes sounds great. She has a couple for chicken wings (one of my favorite foods ever - I could easy eat 2 lbs by myself) and I decided to go with the:

Hoison Chicken Wings

2 lbs frozen chicken wings
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup prepared Hoisin Sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic powder (instead of 5 garlic cloves)
2 1/2 tsp. ginger powder (instead of 1 inch of grated ginger)
1 T sesame chili oil
1/8 cup soy sauce (I added this because it seemed to need more liquid)

Use a 6 qt round crockpot for this dish. Dump chicken into crockpot. Add the Hoisin sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours ( I cooked over night). Stir well to mix flavors. Cook on high for another 30 minutes.

For the big monkeys' party, I'm doing a fruit plate with fruit that some kids may not have had. There will be persimmons, asian pear, etc... The chopping will take much longer than dumping everything in to the crockpot (which took all of 5 minutes, max). Isn't that always the way?!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The pursuit of my inner June Cleaver

I am an immigrant. I was brought to American to live the American dream and to partake in the "Pursuit of Happiness", which is my right according to The Statue of Liberty.

I learned to speak English, partially, by watching the Incredible Hulk and other sitcoms. High School was going to be either like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club or any other John Hughes movie. Americans families were run by moms that were perfect.

These moms: June Cleaver, Carol Brady, Lucille Ball, etc... These moms fricking vacuumed in pearls, perfectly pressed dresses, coiffed hair and heels! I wanted to be a "perfect mom".
Looking back now, I see the reality:
June Cleaver - kids went to school, came home, dropped their books and ran outside to play until dark. Husband was home by 5pm to "discipline" the boys.
Carol Brady - stay at home mom, live in house-keeper, older kids took care of younger kids. According to a friend, Carol was a raging alcoholic.
Lucille Ball - constantly had a neighbor, or the Mertzes, watch little Ricky while she went off on her hair-brained schemes!

And all across "perfect mom" sitcom land, not an "after school activity" in sight! Kid wanted piano lessons - neighbor did it for a casserole/pie. Kids rode their bikes where ever they wanted. And if they fell into a well, well, Lassie alerted the flippin authorities!

It was in that vein that I decided to make a cake for the big monkey's Fall Open House Bake Sale.

Brazilian Style Carrot Cake from:

4 carrots - raw, peeled and chopped into chunks
2 cups sugar (I use 1 1/4 cups)
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Grease and flour a bundt pan (or a 13x9, rectangular pan). Preheat oven to 350 F. Put carrots, sugar, oil, and eggs in a blender and whiz until all pureed and smooth. Pour batter into a bowl, add flour and baking powder and stir well with a wooden spoon until all incorporated (but don't over mix!). Pour batter into prepared pan, bake at 350F for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Wait a few minutes for cake to cool (while you make the chocolate sauce) and invert cake into a plate. Pour hot chocolate sauce over the cake while it is still warm. Serve cake warm or cool to room temperature (if you can wait all that long, that is!).

Chocolate glaze
2 tablespoons cocoa
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons milk

Put all ingredients into a saucepan, heat over medium-high heat and let boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, until it has thickened up. Pour hot chocolate sauce immediately over the warm cake.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My own brand of crazy

I was talking to another mom today who is making her children's Halloween costumes. Now, this woman is not normally someone who enjoys sewing, but she does it on Halloween for her kids. She's been at this AT LEAST a week! My opinion (unwarranted of course) - go to Target, the costumes are $19.99-$29.99! Alas, she keeps toiling at it.

This is the same mom who call me an over-achiever when I cook. She cooks for her family every night - but it's simple stuff like pre-marinated meats, tried and trues, etc... The fact that I will make a whole chicken astounds her (no matter that it's one of the easiest things to make). Her opinion (unwarranted of course) - you can buy a whole rotisserie chicken for $5.99! Alas, I keep cooking.

Tonight is a good example of both of us. Shes at home working away at her costumes and making labels for candy bars for a friend for a party.

I picked up my kids from dance, took them to the pumpkin patch before it's too late (in which case I'm sure I would have been told that I "LIED" by promising to take them to a pumpkin patch), drove them home, did homework with my 1st grader, put them to bed, realized my tire was flat (had been showing "low tire pressure" all darn day!), went to the gas station 5 blocks from my house, put air in my tire (1st time ever - yeah me!), went to the gym (trying to drop back those pesky pounds that have crept over the last 2.5 months) and came home.

So - it's 10:30pm and what do I do???? Any guesses?? Well - it's my own brand of crazy.

I BAKED ! Now I am NOT A BAKER but any stretch of the imagination - I substitute way too much. And I'm way too lazy to be precise, to roll out, etc... Of course, because I love gadgets I have an amazing rolling pin that's no-stick but I have never used it.

Regardless, I saw a great recipe on the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards, which I read religiously every day, and decided to go for it. And yes, I did tweak for the ingredients I had on hand. Can Chocolate muffins really ever be bad? We'll see what my co-workers think!

Low-Fat Chocolate Muffins
From May/June 2002 Quick Cooking
(originally posted by Kismet, topping posted by colleency)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa (I used Penzey's Dutch Cocoa)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt (in 2nd batch, used raspberry kefir instead since it's all I had left)
2/3 cup fat-free milk (used 1%) (in 1st batch, where I used yogurt, I added 1/4 cup more milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
mini chocolate chips (added a handful to the 2nd batch with the wet ingredients)

Peanut Butter Crunch Topping (500 Best Muffin Recipes):
3 Tbsp peanut butter
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt

In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Stir in yogurt, milk and vanilla just until moistened. Coat muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray; fill two-thirds full.

Sprinkle with topping (one batch of topping lasted for 2 dozen muffins).

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Yield: 1 dozen

Monday, October 27, 2008

Live to eat, or eat to live?

There are people who forget to eat, who just don't feel like eating, who stop eating because they get bored/tired of eating.

Those people suck!!

I live to eat! And I apparently use lot's of exclamation marks ;)

When I went to Atlanta last week, the first thing I did was find a restaurant to eat at. OK, fine - two restaurants to eat at. And yes, the food was GOOOOD!!!

In order to continue living to eat, I must work out! After 6 years of regular workouts (except when I was pregnant with the little monkey) I still hate working out. Yes, I feel better afterwords. If I don't work out for a week, I do miss it. But....I still have to psych myself up to go to the gym. I play little mind games to get myself to get my ass out of my house, and I play little mind games while I'm on the treadmill. What's most frustrating is that, at least with me, it appears that I have to work out harder or longer or faster to keep up the fitness/weight loss momentum. And I have to up my sessions from 3 to 4 times a week. Hopefully now that I've written it, I can do it!

Stupid food! Glorious food! And really, there is no BAD food!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What kind of mom am I?

I try to be the mom I "should be". I'm not the mom I "should be". It's all the little things that make me doubt myself. It's the yelling every 5 minutes - because they drive me crazy. It's when they paint on the carpet, turn the living room in to a pig sty, etc... I "should" play with them more - may be then they won't have time to create a mess.

So to make up for my missing gene - the one that would make me enjoy arts and crafts and games with the kids - I tend to overly "mother" in other ways. Vitaly and I drive the kids to classes 4 days a week, I test the big monkey on her spelling words, over and over again, so she can be sure to get a 10/10 (and get her bonus words too), we read every night and I worry like there's no tomorrow.

Which brings me Sunday's. Sunday afternoon's I try to take the kids on play dates so they can play with other kids at the park, at our house, and their house, etc... Today we are going to the park with our friends and we are bringing food. This way we can stay at the park until almost bed time.

A friend of mine gave me a platter of chicken and corn tortillas from her work, so I will be bringing that. I also decided it needed something else - so I made two boxes of couscous. Then I remembered that I just saw a recipe for Easy Layered Beans and Rice from "The Meatless Gourmet: Easy Lowfat Favorites" on the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards. So I made that too. Our friends are bringing snacks, dips, water, juice, etc... Of course it would have been easier to order pizza's, but that's just not the way I roll (lol).

I guess in our own ways, we all try to over-achieve for our kids in what ever ways we can to make up for the ways we can't/won't. Of course - knowing logically that I'm a good mother, because otherwise I probably wouldn't worry, still doesn't make me feel better about all my "self-perceived" shortcomings.

Easy Layered Beans and Rice

HEAVILY adapted/changed from "The Meatless Gourmet: Easy Lowfat Favorites"

1 cup long-grain white rice, uncooked

1 marinated jalapeno pepper, diced

1 (8-oz) can corn, drained

1 1/4 cups boiling water

1 can 3 pepper salsa (Trader Joes)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup mexican blend shredded cheeses

Preheat oven to 375F.Lightly oil a deep 2-quart casserole or spray with a nonstick cooking spray.Spread rice in the casserole. Sprinkle with pepper. Spread corn evenly over rice. Gently pour broth over corn.Spoon half of the salsa evenly over the corn. Spoon beans over the sauce, followed by remaining sauce.Cover tightly and bake 45 minutes.Uncover, sprinkle with both cheeses, and return to oven until cheese is melted and begins to brown, 5-10 minutes.

This is REALLY good! It can easily be a filling for tortillas. It could use a little chipotle pepper to up the spice a bit, but for kids it was perfect.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I went to dinner with a girl friend tonight and am very happy to live in a city where there is so much diversity. I had been craving Korean BBQ for a while now and finally got to go tonight. The place was packed and the food was good! Brisket and Short Ribs with about twenty different side dishes. We went to Shik Do Rak in Northridge - we were one of two or three white people there. The service was great - to the point of helping us cook the meat (they seemed to do that with the tables uner 40 years old). I would definately do there again. Amazing meal for under $30!!

Driving home I passed by a place I've seen before. China Olive Buffet. Question - when have you ever seen an olive in a frickin' Chinese restaurant????????? Seriously! It does ot make sense. Mushrooms, peppers, most other vegetables and condiments, yes! But Olives - no!! Am I the only one perturbed by an asian restaurant that has an Italian condiment in its' name??

Friday, October 24, 2008

Inverse logic?

My friend quoted me in an incredible article she wrote:

I was excited and started talking to my friends about it at dinner. We got into an interesting discussion on this generation vs last generation and Europe vs America.

When Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of a perfect body (at today's size 14) women were much thinner (as a population). Today, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton are the coveted bodies (at size 0) and women are much fatter (as a population).

In Europe, people eat real butter, cheese, whole milk, full fat everything and are thinner than Americans who eat low and non-fat EVERYTHING.

HUH???????? Not too lucid with this one. Does anyone understand how we came to be where we are, and why/how we've gotten this way?!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Too much of a "good" thing

I was at a earlier this week conference and a company was making a presentation. A big component of the presentation was a bunch of girls doing a "hustle" type dance to their companies theme song. It was funny for the first 2 minutes or so. I swear it went on for 1/2 an hour! People were groaning, rolling their eyes and starting to get pissed off for the waste of time.

My point.... Saturday Night Live, the Thursday edition, was funny the first two times. Enough already! We get it!! The state of the world makes for funny TV. But it's the same formula for each of these episodes. To quote Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, "REALLY??!!"

Sometimes Lucid

I was talking to a friend today and I made a coherent, well thought-out comment.... Sometimes I do have moments of lucidity!

We were discussing body images. It's a subject near and dear to most every woman I know. Thin, Fat, Short, Tall, conventionally beautiful, and those whose beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I grew up thinking I was heavy and unattractive. Looking back at my pictures, I was not "skinny", but I was nowhere near fat. I developed early so in turn looked big in regular clothes, especially being 5'2". It took a long time to be comfortable with my body.

It took having kids, working out regularly and knowing I am strong. My kids know I am healthy, and know that part of being healthy is exercising (running around outside, dance, Taekwondo, etc...) and that part is eating well (fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and yes, even candy). I try to limit the sweets, but we talk about how to be healthy you have to eat good things, and candy isn't that good for you. IT'S NEVER ABOUT SIZE. It's about health. Hopefully, thanks to the lessons I learned growing up, I can save my kids some heart ache. Or maybe not, but I continue to try - especially in LA (the land of "LA 10's").

So, in honor of my moments of lucidity, I posted the above picture. It's not the best picture of me, but this picture is not about how I look (probably the only time I'll say that). I complained most of the way up the mountain, and I huffed and puffed and had to take breaks, but once up at the top I noticed it's beauty. And was happy I was able to reach the top. And felt strong, and knew that I would not feel sore the next day. This was my moment of lucidity, my AHA! moment.

Sure - I still obsess about the way my clothes fit and what the numbers on the scale mean and what my hair is doing and the adult pimples and if I'm a good mom and a good employee. I keep telling myself that these insecurities help push me to do better, and be a better person.

I hope to blog regularly, as I spend a lot of time at night just watching shows I've TIVO'd and surfing the net.

I'll blog about kids, food, crappy TV and random stuff that only I find interesting.

Hopefully, it will be interesting to more than just me.