Saturday, January 31, 2009

A success

I had friend over for dinner tonight. I made a couple of new things and couple of tried and trues. I also invited friends that I always hang out with, and some friends that I had not seen in years. In fact, the wife made the baby blankets my kids still use. Their kids are already grown (although I remember them as little kids) and by the time the evening was over, they were EXHAUSTED by my monkeys and the monkeys' friend.

On the up side, they really want to go to the zoo and want to take our kids with them. I'm ecstatic - I just hope they don't being them back early and sue for emotional damages.

I will post recipes and pictures (too bad it's not of the food) tomorrow. I'm too exhausted right now.

Friday, January 30, 2009


This has been a LONG week. Work is kicking my ass! Not only has this been one of my more stressful weeks at work, but I come home every night to prep 1099's the the husbands business.

Of course - I have to be me - crazy me. So, what do I do instead of relaxing this weekend? I am having friends over for dinner tomorrow. Not the elegant dinner party, dinner. The kids running wild dinner, which for me is my favorite kind of dinner :)

So, this post is probably not so lucid. I will say good night and promise recipes tomorrow :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I am a mom (although there ARE many other people who don't have time to grocery shop until 11pm). Therefore I am going to the grocery store right now - at 10:35pm.

Got back at 11:30pm - that included the grocery store staff running around making sure I had the right items for the Ralphs/Kroger Mega Match $5 off deal!

Not everything I bought was part of that deal, but 20 of the items were. The other items I still had coupons for.

Here is my haul:

Here is the length of the receipt:

And here is the amount I paid and the savings:

I am not only a mom but LOVE bargains and deals. Therefore I play the Grocery Game and don't need to find these bargains myself. I just print out the list, cut out the coupons and go shop :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

You know you live in LA when...

I love these types of posts so I decided to create one:

  • It was 47 degrees outside this morning and children were walking in to school wearing ski jackets (mine including).
  • Anything under 85 is considering chilly.
  • Your Zumba teacher is creating a DVD and infomercial with his own brand of dance.
  • A child of a celebrity goes to your child's school/dance class/etc...
  • When you go to the jewelry store to buy your pet a gift (no I have not done this).
  • When the geek you knew in high school ends up a porn director (this JUST happen to my friend)
  • The valet finishes his night of parking cars and gets into his own Mercedes to go home.
  • When you make six figures and still live with your parents (I don't but TOTALLY understand how this could happen).
  • 90% of your children's class or your work is made up of immigrants born in other countries, 5% is made up of 1st generation Americans and only the last 5% is made up of people living in America longer htan 2 generations.
  • Chain restaurants, like BJs, and malls have valet parking!

OK - that's all I have for now.

I would love to hear everyone else's "you know when" - all cities are pretty darn hilarious. Either leave some "you know when's" in the comments or feel free to post on your own blog and send me a link :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Awards make me feel warm and fuzzy

In the last week or so I have been give awards by 3 amazing bloggers! I am flabbergasted and so happy :)

Opus #6, at MAInfo, left me the Butterfly Award (for the coolest blog I ever know)! So did JulieChats, at JulieChats. Opus #6 is one of the first bloggers to follow me (in fact, the first) and I absolutely love the intelligence with which she writes (if that makes sense). Julie is a new bloggy friend. I love her recent photo of her son as an Obamicon!

The rules for the award are:
1. Put the award up on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least seven other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

LA Mom, at LA Mom Tales of an American Mom Living in Paris, France, gave me the Honest Scrap Award. LA Mom just cracks my shit up talking about her nanny woes! I must list 10 things about myself and then pass the award on to seven other bloggers.

10 Things About Myself:

  1. I LOVE TV - I even have a 52 inch in the bedroom!
  2. I usually TIVO 2 prime time shows at once (and wish I could TIVO a 3rd).
  3. I wish I yelled at my monkey's less.
  4. I am obsessed with Zumba (I know - this one is a shocker)!
  5. I don't always take a shower after I workout - sometimes I wait until the next morning.
  6. I could eat Chinese food or sushi 7 days a week (but I don't).
  7. I am 5'2" but drive a big-ass SUV.
  8. I love to cook (I know - this one is a shocker too).
  9. I am still giddy when I see a famous person (even though I've lived in LA for almost 10 years).
  10. You guys are probably sick of hearing about me.

For once I am not tagging other bloggers because 1) I love and appreciate all of you and 2) sometimes it's hard to respond to bloggy love quickly.

So, please take one or both awards! Anyone who actually reads me deserves it :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

For future reference, this IS NOT what I want for Valentine's Day

Every so often I get interesting email. And no I don't mean the penis enlargement/cheap pills/meet sexy singles/etc... emails.

I mean the ones I can use as blog fodder. Because, really, isn't that what life is about?!

The computer is not letting me do a print screen of the cheesy-ass pictures for some reason (which truly is a shame) but will let me copy the words:

Dear Julia!

This Valentine's Day, give your loved ones a unique gift they'll come back to again and again. Create your own custom Kleenex® Tissue box at

...and feel the love

REALLY???? Now I am NOT a materialistic person, but come on??? A personalized box of tissues?? I don't care how much effort is put in to finding the perfect picture to personalize the box with, it is a CHEESY present.

I have an idea - take that picture, print it out and stick it in a frame. At least then I can frame it. What the hell are people going to do with an empty kleenex box???

"Gee, Mary? You got flowers and chocolates? What an old fashioned present! I got a personalized kleenex box. Now every time I blow my nose I will think of Bob!"

Have all the good idea REALLY vanished? Are we down to the crappy ones now? Along with the economy, are our imaginations also suddenly in the crapper? Because that's what it feels like to me.

Anyone who hives that to me will feel an icy cold stare, not "the love".

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Breaking the rules on a Sunday

We had no eggs this morning. Eggs are pretty important to most breakfast items I make - omelette's, waffles, pancakes, french toast, etc...

So I was thinking back to the brunches my parents used to have and ended up with a typical Russian Sunday breakfast/brunch - not the healthiest meal but stick to your ribs good. We had:

Fried Potatoes and onions
Fried hot dog pieces
Beef salami
Pickled Cabbage
Crab Salad (which I bought at the Russian store)

My monkey's CHOWED DOWN on all of the food, especially the pickled cabbage :) I guess my monkey's are typical All-American kids, but adore Russian food (you should have seen the little monkey shopping at the Russian market with me on Saturday morning - the girl KNOWS what she wants).

After breakfast, the sun came out and so the the monkeys asked whether they could go swimming. Ummm, the pool was about 50 degrees and the temperature outside was MAYBE 70 degrees.

My husband, being A MAN, asked them to feel the water first. After they felt the frigid water, and still insisted they wanted to go swimming, my husband, being A MAN, said "sure". After the kids did a double take, made sure they heard him right, and re-asked about 3 times just to be sure, they ran to their bedrooms to change in to bathing suits. My husband, being A MAN, reasoned that they really wouldn't swim because they would realize the water was cold!

Once again, he thought that they would "REALIZE"!!!! Seriously????? They are 6 and 4!!! Since when do 6 and 4 year old's have good powers of deductive reasoning?!?!?!?!

I ask you - would a MOTHER ever do this????

I could have stopped them - but then I would have been the bad guy. So I did the responsible thing - I ran to run a hot bath! The "swim" (the little monkey got in up to her butt, the big monkey actually got her whole body in) lasted for all of 120 seconds. We wrapped them in towels and carried them in to the bath.

The big monkey kept repeating, "I didn't think dad would REALLY let us swim".

Both sets of moms, and the nanny, have told ME (ummm, did anyone miss the part where it was MY HUSBAND, A MAN, who allowed this) that the monkeys are going to get sick from this, and that I am crazy to have allowed this! Oy Vey!

Truthfully, I got a kick out of the kids being able to do something that they normally wouldn't be allowed to do.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I am stupid

I am getting ready to go to Phantom of The Opera tonight and have been TRYING to relax today. I was also trying to eat light to fit in to a cute outfit.

So today I ate:

A Vanilla Latte
Sauteed beans with onions
An apple

Now my stomach hurts! Why did I think that eating so much fiber was good before going to the theater (LOL)?!

I hope I feel better in the next 2 hours or this is going to be a LONG night!

Friday, January 23, 2009

How can you tell she's a good mom?

The caption reads: Post-baby Jennifer Garner taking Violet to school

I saw this picture (on one of the blogs) a couple of days ago and was struck by how typically "mom" this is (in a good way). I can tell Jennifer Garner takes care of her daughter, and takes her to places, like school by herself (as opposed to her nanny, driver, etc...).

How can I tell? Well, Jennifer (I feel so close to her now) probably asked her daughter to wear regular, comfortable tennis shoes to school. Her daughter, like all toddlers, probably had a fit and yelled that she wanted to wear the "pretty, shiny" shoes. So, instead of letting it turn in to a full blown tantrum, Jenn (feeling closer to her by the second) decided to let her wear the shoes she wanted as they walked in to pre-school but brought the comfortable shoes for when it was time to run and play and for when the shiny shoes started to hurt her daughters feet.

At least that is the scenario I see when I look at this picture (probably because I have been known to hand off the the hard work of putting normal clothes, or warm jackets, on my child to the pre-school many a time (why can't the kids just listen to us in the first place!)).

Am I insane? What do you see when you look at this picture? Do you agree with me?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

When I Feel I Look Good I AM A Better...

I think it happens to everyone. The days I think I look better are the days I am more confident, I do better, I am a more productive part of society (why yes, I am a bit of a drama queen, why do you ask?)

Anyways, I needed new sports tops. Since I have been doing Zumba (why yes, I am a bit obsessed, why do you ask?) I have realized that my old sports tops, except for one, were woefully under-supportive! Nothing like coming down from a jump up to have one part of your anatomy go up and hit you in the face!

On my way home I stopped by Lululemon to see if they had any cute tops on sale. The one top I have that is super supportive is from Lululemon. It is not a cheap store, but when you want good, sturdy, cute, supportive athletic wear, you can't beat it. Also, they have a sale section. I VERY RARELY pay retail.

Today was an exception. I tried on this amazing workout top! It made me feel pretty (which is hard to do in work out clothes) and passed the "jump" test. I even went online to find the picture to post. It's the same as mine except for the color - mine is a beautiful plum color:

This top is SEXY. Which is perfect for a class full of girls - LOL! But there are mirrors in the class and I'd rather look cute and not worry about "popping out" than look "schlubby". In fact, the teacher even mentioned that I was just going all out tonight. I credit the cute top.

It really is funny how sometimes clothes really do make the WOman.

I need to remember things like that for when I really just don't want to wear anything cute - my outlook does change for the better when I like how I look.

Time for a PSA - don't give up on a store just because it is known as "expensive". I was talking to a girlfriend about work out tops and when I mentioned Lululemon she immediately discounted it due to price. Tonight I was able to get some great, cute tops (aside from the one I pictured) for $20-$30. While that is not CHEAP, it is not expensive for what you get. The moral, it's OK to check out so called expensive stores. Just go to the sale section :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Got Tagged

DIZZBLND from Soggy-Doggy-Bloggy tagged me for more random things. Check out her blog - she's bring back the Mad Lib phenomenon single handed!

The rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So, six random things about myself:
  1. I am a TV junkie - if I could I would have 2 TIVO's next to each other so that I could tape 4 shows at once!
  2. I staged managed, back stage managed and produced theater productions throughout high school and college.
  3. My major was accounting (the antithesis of my extra-curricular theater activities).
  4. My mom got me my first fake ID when I was 16 to go clubbing and I never used it to drink (until I was about 20).
  5. When I was 17, I spent 2 months living and studying in Israel (without knowing a soul beforehand).
  6. When I was 21, I spent 6 weeks back-packing around Europe by myself, and staying in hostels (if anyone knows me now, I am so not a back-pack, live out of a duffel bag, stay in hostels with random people, person).

Now I have to tag 6 people for this:

  1. Michelle K. @ Culture Crack - she doesn't post often but her views on pop culture are hilarious!
  2. Vodka Mom @ I Need a Martini Mom - her kindergarten stories crack me up (and make me wonder what my monkeys are saying)!
  3. Lee @ Moms Without Blogs - her reviews are the most honest ones I've read (and I've actually met her)!
  4. Tova Darling @ Secret Life of Tova Darling - her Totally Awkward Tuesday's are are a great form of schadenfreude!
  5. Sass @ Are You Sassified - her "piece of fruit" posts were pretty damn funny (and true)!
  6. Heinous @ IrregularlyPeriodic Ruminations - his stories about his family are some of my favorite blog redaing material!

I'm now off to let them know they've been tagged.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So Fun and Easy My Friends Daughter Can Do It

To be fair, this 12 year old LOVES to cook and is VERY good at it (I joke that she should be my daughter). The family was over at my house a couple of weeks ago and I lent her my FAVORITE cook book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

The next time I came over she made us the most wonderful, tasty, Roasted Tomato Basil Soup! She even roasted her own tomatoes.

Since then she has made the soup a couple of more times, and has purchased an immersion blender to help with the blending of the soup.

Her mom took this picture of her making the soup last week with her new immersion blender (we got very lucky and she brought the soup to my impromptu dinner party).

Here is the recipe:

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All rights reserved

3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.
In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade (my suggestion to her, which she followed, was to use an immersion blender). Taste for seasonings. Serve hot or cold.

I would definitely recommend this recipe.

I am submitting this recipe to the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap. If you found me through Gayle's Blog, welcome. I hope you enjoy my blog, the recipe and leave a comment.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Random Thoughts again

Here is my latest installment of random, sometime lucid thoughts from my brain.

  1. It only took one week for the gym to go from being packed at 9pm to almost being empty at 9pm
  2. When your wife reminds you that you were wrong to question her being upset, it is NOT OK to say, "I still think you over-reacted". Thankfully this conversation was over the phone where the only damage I could do was hang up on you.
  3. Sometimes I go along feeling weak and then, BAM!, I feel strong enough to withstand anything.
  4. I really LOVE the outfits on this weeks episode of Gossip Girl, the part where they are at the theatre.
  5. I am finally starting to slow down while reading the 4th Twilight series book, Breaking Dawn, and it is because I DO NOT want the series to end.
  6. Watching HD TV on an LCD TV is mind opening - like going from black-and-white to color.
  7. This country is making history - I just wish it didn't cost $60+million to welcome in this historic occasion (I am making no judgements, HERE, about whether this is a positive or negative development in our choice of new president).
  8. Some times I am REALLY on the ball with pictures, and some times I let my memory card get too full (I promise I will send you the pictures Lee).
  9. I smile when I read or watch TV like it is really happening in front of me.
  10. I can't think of a number 10 right now but am somehow, inexplicably, drawn to have 10 random thoughts ;)

If you're still with me, thank you :) Feel free to add your own random thoughts to either the comments or to your own blogs. If this gets popular maybe I will turn it in to a meme or a weekly feature.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dumbass Customer Service!

I spent my morning swearing at DirecTV! And not just once - 4 different time with 4 different representatives.

My time frame was 8am PST - 12pm PST. By about 11am I was getting antsy.

This morning, I heard the following coming out of the mouths of different "customer service" individuals:

  • "He's only late after 1pm PST because the original call was schedule for 8am-12pm EST." Ummm, DUMBASS, that makes him EVEN MORE LATE, not LESS LATE!!!
  • "We can't get in touch with our technicians in field, only their supervisors." Ummm, DUMBASS, why can't you get the technicians phone number from the supervisor?!?!
  • "We can't give you an on-time credit at 12:48 (even though he was supposed to be there by 1pm) but can at 1:01pm." Ummm, DUMBASS, are you going to make me spend my time calling you back again?????

Customer Service, shmustimer service!


Of course, now I am watching a clear, beautiful HD picture!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Impromptu Dinner Party

I was supposed to go see Phantom of The Opera tonight. One little problem - the show is next week :)

I called friends of ours, the older monkey's good friends family, and invited them to dinner. Then I was talking to another family friend with sons my monkey's ages. And then finally I texted my single friend and told her to come over. At first she said no, but then decided to come.

My favorite quote all night was said by family friend number 1. She told my single friend, "When Julia calls you and invites you to dinner, why would you ever say no??"

It was really nice to hear.

I only had about 30 minutes to start making dinner before everyone came over so I didn't have time to take pictures. Also, every one finished every last morsel, so I couldn't take pictures of the food afterwords.

I hope you make the recipes, especially the potato one! Yum!!! Oh, and the chicken! The chicken was so un-believably moist!!!

Salt-Baked Chicken

Traditionally, this recipe uses a whole chicken, marinated, wrapped in lotus leaves, immersed in a bed of hot rock salt in a wok, and cooked on a stovetop. The modern convenience of an oven makes it much easier to control the cooking temperature. Allowing the chicken to stand at room temperature for an hour before cooking creates succulent results. The golden color of the roasted bird also represents wealth, and serving a whole chicken is thought to ensure good luck for the coming year. Garlic chives make a memorable garnish.

2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 (1 x 2–inch) strip dried tangerine peel
1 (4.5- to 5-pound) roasting chicken
5 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
Cooking spray

1. Combine 2 1/2 cups boiling water and tangerine peel in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid.
2. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Rub 1 tablespoon salt under skin; let stand 5 minutes. Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken on the rack of a roasting pan; let stand 1 hour at room temperature.
3. Preheat oven to 425°.
4. Transfer chicken to a work surface. Combine remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, shallots, ginger, wine, soy sauce, oil, and honey in a small bowl. Rub 3 tablespoons shallot mixture inside cavity of chicken. Place onions and tangerine peel inside cavity. Rub remaining shallot mixture under loosened skin.
5. Place chicken, breast side up, on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Pour reserved tangerine soaking liquid into a shallow roasting pan; place rack in pan. Bake at 425° for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer registers 165° and skin has turned a dark golden brown color. Let stand 15 minutes. Discard skin, and slice.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 3 ounces)

CALORIES 171 ; FAT 4.4g (sat 1g,mono 1.4g,poly 1.2g); CHOLESTEROL 85mg; CALCIUM 21mg; CARBOHYDRATE 2.5g; SODIUM 885mg; PROTEIN 26.8g; FIBER 0.3g; IRON 1.6mg

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2009

Shoestring Fries with Garlicky Dijon Mayo

Cutting potatoes into thin strips, soaking them in hot water, and cooking at high heat makes for a crisp texture without much fat. Instead of ketchup, we enjoyed dipping the fries in this tangy sauce, a riff on aioli.

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/4 pounds baking potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Combine vinegar and garlic in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, and parsley.
3. Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices; stack slices and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Place in a large bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain potatoes; pat dry with paper towels. Combine potatoes, oil, and salt in a large bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 35 minutes; carefully turn over and bake an additional 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve with sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup fries and about 1 tablespoon sauce)

CALORIES 180 ; FAT 7g (sat 0.5g,mono 4.3g,poly 1.5g); CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 21mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.2g; SODIUM 233mg; PROTEIN 3.2g; FIBER 1.9g; IRON 1.3mg

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

More infomercials!

So, I was watching "The City" (um, wow! This is even more scripted than "The Hills") the other day and the most, how do I put this, "interesting" commercial came on the air.

The commercial was for a products called Bumpits. The commercial just cracked me up.

It is a piece of PLASTIC you put in your hair which creates a "bump" in your hair. My favorite part is a side product called the "Hollywood Bumpit"

I'm just imagining scenarios where I would put this thing in my hair, my husband would try to run his fingers through my hair and get stuck on it. Or I would forget it's in my hair, fall asleep and bore one of the "teeth" in to my head.

Any more "fun" applications you can think of for this item? Does anyone have one? What do you think? Does it really work? Have you hurt yourself?????

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Crazy mom makes dinner, from scratch, for a play date

Before SOME people start thinking that I eat gourmet meals every night I just have to say that dinner last night was an egg over easy wrapped in a tortilla and some leftover crab salad (bought, not made).

Tonight, however, I did cook. I had been talking to the mom of one of the Big Monkeys friends and we finally made plans for them to come to dinner tonight.

I have got to say, what a well behaved family (probably the fact that the dad is a cop and the mom works at the LA jail). Everyone is very soft spoke, polite and the 11 year old son played nicely with the 6 year olds on the trampoline.

Anyways, I was SWAMPED at work and ran out of there at about 5:20pm. I got to Trader Joes at 5:45pm, grabbed a couple of items and was home at 6pm. They were supposed to be at our house at 6pm. Luckily they were running a few minutes late.

When people (other than my closest friends) come over, I feel the need to cook something from scratch, or at least my version of scratch ;)

As I was looking through my database of recipes I want to make, this one looked easy and quick. It ended up definitely NOT disappointing. We were eating by 6:40pm!!

I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the ingredients - I was too busy trying to at least START dinner before they came.

Leo Maya's Chicken with Green Sauce
Posted by
Mario Batali, September 13, 2007 at 4:00 PM

Our Acapulco-born babysitter, Leo, makes some of my favorite things to eat. At Christmas she makes turkey in a dark mole with toasted sesame seeds. In winter, she makes great enchiladas with soft, never-fried tortillas and a braised beef filling with queso fresco. She makes great albondigas (meatballs) with rice and beef or pork. And this week, she took some seasoned pork and made a kind of chili or sloppy joe mix with toasted dried corn that we ate as sandwiches on toasted burger buns.

But of all the things she makes, our favorite is a killer chicken and green sauce that she makes once a week.

That's why some of the best real cooks in my restaurant kitchens are from Mexico or Latin America—they watched their families make great food from scratch every day.
It's great to watch a natural cook because she does not consult a recipe—she just knows. And that's why some of the best real cooks in my restaurant kitchens are from Mexico or Latin America—they watched their families make great food from scratch every day. They simply understand that
sofrito goes in first when you make a braised dish or that coaxing flavor out of something lean sometimes means to cook it very well done and chopping into small pieces and dressing it with citrus and scallions.

That said, this is the easiest thing to watch and make. She takes 2 pounds of chicken drumsticks and thighs (I used chicken breast) and removes the skin and sets them aside. Then she takes 3 pounds of husked tomatillos, 6 cloves garlic, and 2 serrano chiles (I used Trader Joes bottled tomatillo salsa since they didn't sell tomatillos and I was running late)and places them in boiling water for 2 minutes and then drains them. Still warm, she places them into the blender with the juice and zest of 3 limes and 1 bunch of cilantro and blends until just smooth (I skipped this step). She seasons it with salt (a lot) and then puts the sauce in a pan with the raw chicken, bringing it to a boil and then simmering it for 25 minutes (I put the tomatillo salsa, garlic paste, juice of 1 lime and 1 bunch cilantro in to the pan with the raw chicken). After that, she finishes it with the juice of another lime and a handful of chopped scallions (did the lime, skipped the scallions).

This was very quick and yummy! I served this with whole wheat pasta, sauteed zucchini and mushrooms and green beans.

The kids had a great time and were sad to part company.

I am submitting this recipe to the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap. If you found me through Gayle's Blog, welcome. I hope you enjoy my blog, the recipe and leave a comment.

A Post for Quirkyloon

The other title I was toying with was:

"Julia spends way too much time watching The Disney Channel and reading TMZ!"

Quirkyloon wrote a blog post about watching tween kids shows (i.e. iCarly, etc...). So to make her feeling better I "outed" myself as watching a lot of Disney Channel.

Her response to my comment "@Julia You're a Disney Channel junkie so maybe you can tell us..what's up with the alleged feud between Hannah and Selena? Please tell! (I'll be checking your blog for an answer!) :)"

The really sad part - I know the answer!

It has to do with the show Hannah Montana The Jonas Brothers (OK, I REALLY don't get the appeal). First, there were rumors that they were going to replace Hannah Montana with Selena Gomez and then The Jonas Brothers fueled suspicion by wearing a "Team Selena" t-shirt. Also, each of the girls have dated a Jonas Brother.

So now that I have outed myself as a "tween wannabee" (to which I reply WHATEVER with my hands raised in the "W" sign) go and check out Musings of a Quirkyloon and see what she has to say on the topic of tween shows.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Totally Awkward Tuesdays

I decided to join Tova Darling and post an awkward moment of mine for Totally Awkward Tuesday's. Of course, I am a day late (where is the eye rolling emoticon??).

I remembered my moment thanks to yesterdays post that you can read here.

When I go to work out, I always tell my monkeys that I go and workout to be fit and healthy. About a year ago, I was at Taekwondo with my oldest monkey (who was 5 at the time) and we were about to leave. We walked past a lady, who let's just say was rubenesque, sitting and waiting until her class started.

The monkey stops...turns to her...and says..."Do you take Taekwondo?"...So I say..."Look, sweet heart. She's a black belt. Isn't that cool?"...The monkey says to her..."But you're BIG...Why are you big if you do Taekwondo?"

My jaw dropped down to THE FLOOR! I was MORTIFIED. I stammered out an apology while hoping that the floor would open up and swallow me whole.

I mean what kind of mother am I?? I don't discriminate! Some of my best friends are "bigger" girls. Heck, my mom and mother-in-law are both "bigger". And I was chubby ALL through-out high school.

The woman was really nice about it. She told us that this was the only exercise she did and that she also liked to eat, unfortunately.

As we were leaving, the monkey kept talking, "But mommy, why is she so big?"

On the way home, I had to explain to her that we don't say things like that, that it wasn't nice, and if she really wanted to say something to me, she could at least do it in Russian.

How did I do? Was that awkward enough to qualify?

By the way, the monkeys know better now, thankfully!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baby Got Back

I was talking to one of my mom friends a while ago and she told me a story:

Her 6 year old wanted to do a ball workout DVD with her. Afterwords her daughter told her that the workout didn't work because her moms rolls were still there. The mom laughed and told her that the exercise wasn't instantaneous.

This friend also told this story to another mom we know. The other mom said that she would have been MORTIFIED if her child had told her that! My friends reply - "Why? My daughter has eyes. She knows I'm not skinny."

I feel the same way.

For a while there, both monkeys would tell me that I need to cut out my stomach roll. Then tonight, my little monkey kept smacking my butt and telling me that I had a big butt! To me it's funny. Little children are un-encumbered by our politically-correct, don't hurt our feelings ways. I definitely don't take offense.

What about you out there in the bloggy world? Do you take offense to your children making comments about you? Do you find it funny or do you get upset?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Can you lend me an ear?

Well, I wasn't really lent an ear, I was given one :) (boy do I wish there were emoticons I could use with blogger).

One of my favorite bloggers, Janna, at Janana Bee, gave me Van Gogh's ear award.

It was so nice of her. And Van Gogh is one of my favorite impressionists. I have no idea who to give it to. Every single person who reads my blog is deserving of this award. So, please, take my ear :)

By the way, I went to the gym tonight and I can definitely tell vacation is over (at least at LAUSD). All the treadmills were taken at 9:15 at night! And so were mot of the elliptical machines! I guess people's New Years Resolutions are finally kicking in to high gear.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Today was a good day

First off, thanks to Keri at It Flickers Dimly for the Honest Scrap Award. Go check out her blog, it is really good, and her boys are cuties.

I woke up this morning to the husband putting together the monkeys' trampoline! I guess he got tired of them asking every 5 minutes if he could put it together (we gave it to them on New Years Day) and me doubting him earlier this week when he said he would do it.

I've got to say, that thing looks cool!! I can't wait to try it out (preferably after a couple of drinks). Today was the perfect day for it too. After a cold couple of weeks, today was at least 85 degrees outside. We were wearing tank tops!

I also doubted the husband when he said he would mount the new TV in the bedroom. A few weeks ago I found a deal I could not pass up on one of the things I covet (you can read about them in this post) - so I bought it!!!! The TV was delivered yesterday and I scoffed at the husband when he implied that he could take down the old play set, put up the trampoline and take down the old TV and put the new one up - all today!

You know what - I should scoff much more often!! I am currently laying down and watching Desperate Housewives on a brand new LCD HDTV! The new DirecTV HD DVR will be delivered next Sunday and then my TV viewing experience will be complete!

The topping on the cake is that the big monkey is going back to school tomorrow. The break was nice but boy am I glad she's going back (and she is too).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My "D"

DIZZBLND at Soggy Doggy Bloggy (go check out her blog, she's great) assigned me the letter "D" in a letter game. I have to list 10 favorite things with my letter.

So here are my 10:
  1. Daughters - my 2 monkeys are the best thing to have happen to me (even when I want to run away from them).
  2. My "D" rack (although I used to hate it as a teenager).
  3. Dollars - who doesn't love money?
  4. Dinner (and breakfast and lunch) - really just food in general.
  5. Drinks - they just make parties, and get together's, more fun.
  6. DVRs - My DirecTV DVR is a must-have for me to keep up with my TV addiction.
  7. Dance - Does anyone not know that I had to somehow throw Zumba in to the mix ;) Also, I just LOVE to watch the monkeys do ballet and hip hop.
  8. Discovering new people, things and places - I love to explore and learn.
  9. Diamonds - again, who doesn't love diamonds?
  10. Driving - I got my license as soon as possible upon turning 16!

OK - this was as hard as everyone says!

Please let me know if you want to play and I will assign you a letter.

Friday, January 9, 2009

American Kids versus Russian Kids

I received this email from a girl friend. This basically speaks volumes about why I am how I am.

American kids: Move out when they're 18, with the full support of their parents.
Russian kids: Move out when they're 28, having saved enough money for a house, and are two weeks away from getting married.....unless there's room in the basement for the newlyweds.

American kids: When their Mom visits them, she brings a Bundt cake, and they sip coffee and chat.
Russian kids: When their Mom visits them, she brings 3 days worth of food, begins to tidy up, dust, do the laundry, and rearrange the furniture. Of course with my parents, THE WHOLE TIME THEY ARE DOING THIS THEY WILL CRITIQUE THE FOOD YOU HAD, THE DUST THAT WAS THERE, ANY LAUNDRY THAT WAS NOT DONE WITH THEIR BRAND OF DETERGENT OR LINE DRIED, AND THE FACT THAT HOW YOUR ORIGINAL FURNITURE SET UP WAS ALL WRONG, AND ISN'T THEIR WAY BETTER.

American kids: Their dads always call before they come over to visit them, and it's usually only on special occasions.
Russian kids: Are not at all fazed when their dads show up,unannounced, on a Saturday morning at 8:00, and starts pruning the fruit trees. If there are no fruit trees, he'll plant some.

American kids: Always pay retail, and look in the Yellow Pages when they need to have something done.
Russian kids: Call their dad or uncle, and ask for another dad's or uncle's phone number to get it done..

American kids: Will come over for cake and coffee, and get cake and coffee.
Russian kids: Will come over for cake and coffee, and get Borsht, vodka, a salat olivye', a choice of two meats, bread, a dish of babushka's desert and fruit.

American kids: Eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on soft mushy white bread.
Russian kids: Eat selyodka and kartoshka with cherniy bread on the side

American kids: Know a few things about their parents.
Russian kids: Could write a book with direct quotes from them.

By the way, welcome to anyone who is reading this blog thanks to the link from the "Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap". I hope you'll stay around.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Crockpot Cooking

Trying to keep my financial resolutions, I decided to start cooking meals to take to work again. Also, I love to cook and love to share my successes, and failures, with the blogging community.

Last night at 11pm I decided to throw off my warm blankets, and put something in the crock pot. I had been looking at this great recipe for Jambalaya, and although I wouldn't be putting it over rice, I thought that the flavors would go nicely together. Thanks to the vegetables, it's also quite healthy.

FYI - I was back in bed by 11:20pm. Gotta love that.

Crock pot Jambalaya
Posted by Dewey on the CookingLight Bulletin Board

12 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, 1/2" cubes (used 1lb. turkey legs)
2 green peppers, chopped (used 16 oz. frozen pepper blend and 2 zucchini)
1 medium onion, chopped (omitted)
2 stalks celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced (used pureed garlic)
14 1/2 ounces whole tomatoes, canned
1/3 cup tomato paste (subbed ketchup)
14 1/2 ounces fat-free beef broth, canned (subbed ½ water and ½ red wine)
1 Tbl dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp dried basil & 1/2 tsp dried oregano (subbed Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle)
1 tsp Tabasco sauce (used ½ TSP)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (used ½ TSP)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb low-fat smoked sausage (omitted)
3 cups cooked brown rice

Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Add all ingredients except sausage and rice to Crock-Pot. Cover; cook on Low 8 to 10 hours (High: 3 to 4 hours). Add sausage last hour of cooking. If you want to include shrimp, add last 15 minutes of cooking. Stir in rice when ready to serve. 6 servings (big servings!)

This was REALLY good! Of course, I doubt it tastes anything like a real jambalaya (some of that is due to my changes) but it is a good comforting, healthy meal loaded with tons of vegetables!

By the way, I am submitting this for Gayle's recipe swap at

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lucid Thoughts

Today I have had some lucid thoughts, and since it happens so rarely, I decided to share:

  • No matter how many toys a waiting room has, a child who has been given eye drops meant to dilate their eyes will begin to whine and/or go nuts after about 10 minutes.
  • If you are going to going to a high energy, body moving, high impact, dance/exercise class, do not go to Mexican food and proceed to eat your weight in bean dip, first.
  • When men leave work early, it is usually to go to watch ball games, to go drinking, etc... When women leave work early, it is usually to take their kids to doctor's appointment's, dentist appointment's, recitals, etc....
  • When there are 10 different Calliou DVDs available to watch, both kids will inevitably want to watch the same one (but in two separate rooms).
  • When your husband agrees to do you a favor without any questions, he will invariably call to change the plan to fit his wants/needs.

These lucid moments have been brought to you courtesy of our visit to the Pediatric Opthamologist (the appointment itself was wonderful, it was the down time that wanted to make me pull my hair out), dinner at Los Toros Mexican Restaurant (they give the absolutely best bean dip along with salsa and chips), Zumba (of course) and Calliou (the most annoying kids cartoon character).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


In honor of our New Years Resolutions, I am posting about my FAVORITE workout ever:

ZUMBA (the following is from my teachers (JP Santana) facebook page)

Zumba is an exciting and dynamic fitness program that allows you to dance your way to a happier and healthier life! Most people hate to exercise but everyone loves to party! Zumba has turned the exercise into a party! Set to a hot, heart pumping soundtrack, Zumba turns up the heat by combining sexy latin dance styles such as Cumbia, Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton, and Samba with fun and easy to follow exercise movements. Warning! Zumba's high spirited energy is contagious! Participants are likely to get lost in the fun and burn some serious calories! People of all fitness levels and dance experience CAN and LOVE to Zumba! So we invite you to ditch the workout. This is one party you don't want to miss!.

Here is a video where my teacher, JP, is teaching the class (the man in red jumping all over the screen)

The following is a video that really captures the essence of Zumba

The third video is a show case of my teacher, JP, who is fantastic

So, if you know you need to start working out, but can't face the treadmill or the same old classes, give Zumba a try. It is TRULY addicting.

And the teacher in the 2nd video is right - you do start moving your hips/body in ways you didn't realize your body could move ;)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Honest Scrap

I got another award!!! I am ALWAYS shocked when someone likes what I write enough to honor me.

Adriana at From KS to PA bestowed me with the Honest Scrap Award. I am just starting to read her but I really like what I have read so far.

The rules: The honorees are to: A) first list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep! B) pass the award on to 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

10 Honest Things About My Self

  1. I smile to myself when I read something funny or heartwarming. I was doing that today while reading New Moon and my oldest monkey asked me while I was smiling. Yes, I'm a dork.
  2. I love to watch crap/teenage TV. The Hills, The City, One Tree Hill, The Girls Next Door. I even TIVO 2 shows at once so that I don't miss anything. Yes I'm a dork.
  3. I have been on The Today Show - for coupon clipping. Yes I'm a dork.
  4. I have this overwhelming need to have people like me. It bothers me when someone doesn't like me and I need to get to the bottom of why it is that they don't like me. Usually I them try to make them like me. But when I realize it's for a stupid reason, one that outs the person as an idiot, I get quickly over it and stop caring. Yes I'm a dork.
  5. I know I am not fat, but I am constantly struggling to loose those last 5 lbs. Yes I'm a dork.
  6. I love my monkeys more than anything but sometimes (more often than I care to admit) I want to lock myself in my room and not come out. Yes I'm a dork.
  7. I am really getting in to The Twillight Series. I'm on book 2 and really enjoy the characters. Yes I'm a dork.
  8. After 6 years of regular exercise, I still have to psyche myself up to go to the gym. Yes I'm a dork.
  9. One of my favorite movies is White Girls. I don't know why but it CRACKS me up. Yes I'm a dork.
  10. Like Adriana, I also have an estranged sibling. I was just thinking about her today as it is my niece's 18th Birthday. I was so closed to my niece and nephew for the first 10 years of their lives. And now, I can't even call them as it is against my sisters wishes. We have spoke once in the last 5 years - and that was one conversation about my father's sudden blindness. Yes I'm a dork (and sad and mad).


7 Bloggers Deserving of this award (I would give it to all if I could)

  1. Opus @ MAInfo
  2. Michelle @ Culture Crack
  3. Lupita @ A Girls Guide to ...
  4. Lee @ Moms Without Blogs
  5. Marinka @ Motherhood in NYC
  6. Vodka Mom @ I Need A Martini Mom
  7. Janna @ Janana Bee

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Holidays are over

I don't know why, but I always feel a bit let down after the holidays. I shouldn't, since I don't celebrate the biggest one of all, but I do anyways. I think what I don't like is the anticipation going away.

During the holidays, starting with Halloween, there are parties to look forward to. Lots to eat and drink. Days off to take. Presents to open.

I think I'm like a child in this way. I ABSOLUTELY love presents. That's one of the reasons I love my birthday so much. I get to spend time with those I love (and like and can stand, I'm not picky) and eat and drink and open presents :)

Now it's January. My excuse for baking sweets is over :(

Of course, it is a new beginning. And 2009 has to be better, right? There is a look to hope for, and to look forward to!

OK - apparently tonight is not one of my more lucid nights ;) Good night!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 Resolutions

The last couple of years, I have resolved not to make resolutions. this year, since I am putting them in print, and will be re-visiting them from time to time, I thought I would make some. Hopefully, I feel feel accountable and keep them.
  1. Be conscious of my spending. I have started to bring my lunch to work. It's a good start. But I do need to be mindful of my "medium dollar" spending. I'm good with the $2 purchases and the $500 plus purchases, but it's the $$$$ in the middle that give me the most trouble. I will be more mindful of my spending habits.
  2. Be conscious of my eating. When I'm out with friends, especially, I tend to continue eating when I am no longer hungry. I need to put my fork down, listen to what my friends are saying (I have some great and interesting friends). This way I won't have to make up for one bad night with 3-4 good days. Today, I asked the waitress to take my plate away so I wouldn't be tempted to put more on it.
  3. Be conscious of getting exercise in, in all forms. I am already pretty good about working out at least 3 times a week (Zumba helps), but I need to get more "steps" in. Today I made good strides in that direction when I parked toward the end of the best buy parking lot (which isn't that big) instead of circling for a closer space. I also talked my friend in to going on a walk with me around the mall after dinner. We strolled around for a good 1/2 hour just chatting. I know if we had stayed the restaurant we would have ordered more drinks or ate more bread.
  4. Be happy with the daily things I do to be a healthier person. Even though today wasn't perfect, I did make an effort. I need to congratulate my self on the small victories.
  5. Be more organized. Clean out the closets and nightstand more often. Get the car washed and the toys cleaned out of the car. Organize my time in and out of the office and not constantly feel as though I'm forgetting something.
  6. Cut myself, and my monkeys, some slack - I can not always be perfect. Neither can they. I stopped by a friends house today to drop off a present and her daughter said that my oldest monkey, who she's friends with, was mean to her and was rude to adults, because my friends daughter was climbing on my monkey's bed and my monkey screamed at the dad to get the little girl off the bed. So, instead of saying that my monkey just doesn't like other people on her bed, and that there have been times where this same little girl has yelled at me, I said "OK, I'll talk to her." All my friend said to her daughter was "don't tattle tale." I was kind of upset the rest of the evening - 1/2 by my reaction and not coming to my monkeys defense more (I did say that I didn't think she was mean to her or adults), and 1/2 by my starting to doubt the goodness of my monkey. And if she did yell, it wasn't like she was trying to be rude, she's just 6 and hasn't learned of art of persuasive argument yet! (Funny how what I hate most about my mom (that she doesn't give me the benefit of the doubt) is what I ended up doing to my monkey).
  7. Believe in the goodness of me and my monkeys. They have both developed my loving nature. They love to share (aside from not wanting to share with each other) and are 2 of the most selfless kids I know. The have an inner warmth to them and are constantly smiling and happy (except for when it comes to each other - ah, sisters!). And yes, they go crazy sometimes -but all kids do. Knowing that those are the traits that I have always been know for, watching them makes me appreciate myself.

OK - that's all I can think of right now. I expect everyone here to keep me honest :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gluttony - My Favorite Sin

When I get a thought in my head, I tend to follow it. A couple of weeks ago I read an article HERE that spoke of falling lobster prices. So began my search for lobster. First I called Whole Foods (OK, stop laughing, whole paycheck lived up to its' moniker). Then I tried Smart & Final - better but still pricey.

On Tuesday the 30th of December I thought of going to 99 Ranch, an Asian food chain in Southern and Northern California. If you've never been in one, it is like a feast for the eyes. There is any type of Asian produce, hot food, sauces, canned goods, seafood, meat, etc... you could possibly want or need. Usually at MUCH lower prices.

The lobsters - $11.99 a pound. Not cheap for most things - but a darn good price for lobster. So I bought 2. I wasn't sure what to do with them so I put them in the refrigerator. Since we were going to a friends house for NYE, I decided to bring the lobsters with me. I had never made them before so I looked to my favorite source, the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards, for inspiration and/or a recipe. I found one.

According to a bulletin board member (I can't believe I forgot who):
Look for active lobsters. The feistier the better. If they spread their claws far when picked up they are called "flyers". If you like the orangy-red roe, ask for females - these have feathery final (closest to the tail section) swimmerettes on their undersides. The ones on males are hard and narrow. (you can educate your fishmonger if they don't know how to pick females).

When you buy them, keep them in the fridge no more than a day. Do NOT immerse in water as this will kill them (tap water will kill most sea-dwelling critters). You can also put them in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to make them sleep before cooking, according to Alton Brown.

We usually steam them as this keeps the water to a minimum (I boiled). Some herbs, whole peppercorns, lemon halves, salt, and water or white wine at the bottom of a tall stockpot. Put in your steamer thing. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, toss in a little vodka, maybe 1/2 cup (this REALLY seems to work - at least for us). Put in the lobster (DON'T clip off the rubber bands). Cover (sometimes you have to weight the cover for the first 10 seconds). I think the usual cooking time is about 15 minutes for 1-1 1/4 lbs. It's 25 minutes for 2 pounders.

Use something to pull them out - either some aluminum foil on your oven mitts or tongs to keep from being scalded by the heat. Use kitchen shears (or tin snips as AB used) to clip the ends of the claw shells off as you hold the lobster(s) over the pot to drain any water out of the shells. You don't have to do this, but it keeps your plate from being flooded with water when you do start eating.

Serve with melted butter (I like to put a lemon slice at the bottom of a ramekin then pour the melted butter on top). Sometimes I sprinkle a little cajun seasoning on the lemon slice before I pour in the butter. We did melt butter but ended up not really using it.

We demolished those lobsters. They didn't even make it to the table. We stood up in the kitchen while my one friend was cracking them and just made her feed the meat to us! My other friends' daughter took a picture of the carcasses but has yet to email it to me. When she does I will post them.

So tonight we were going back to the same friends house. I went and bought 6 more lobsters. 5 adults and 2 kids (only 2 of the kids had mass quantities like we did) finished everything but one tail and 3 bodies devoid of tail and legs!!! And there was other food! One friend brought chicken gyros and the woman whose house it was bought tacos and burritos, made roasted potatoes and veggies (both are amazing), chicken nuggets for the kids (there was 1 pre-K, 4 1st graders and 4 pre-teens) and had hummus, salad (which she makes REALLY well), etc...

Since I am on the SHFA "PLC" Challenge put on by Scandy, I ate one chicken soft taco (no cheese) and about 1 lb of lobster. It was soooo GOOD! And since I dipped in to the butter only once, I had maybe one teaspoon of butter. I can definitely live like this - a very low fat food that I can gorge myself on! Of course, just in case, I might wait until after Zumba to do my daily weigh-in.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Starting off the year on a great note - An Award!

Lemonade Award

Thanks to Keri at It Flickers Dimly for this really cute award.

I’m turning this one in to a Lemon Drop Martini ;)

Now, for the rules. First, you should give link love to the person who gave you the award. Secondly, nominate ten of your favorite bloggers to receive the Lemonade Award!In no particular order, my nominees (I wish I could nominate everyone I read on a DAILY and obsessive basis) are: