Monday, July 21, 2014

Yummy Summer: Summer Reading

This is a very common scene in our home

My little girls are avid readers!
One of them in particular is rarely seen without a book.  
We call her Brigitta (from Sound of Music!)
I always praise them for their reading and tell them I think it's so cool that they love to read.
For many years I've aspired to be a "reader."  I often joke that I'm illiterate because I never read.
It's really hard for me to find a good book.
I feel like I don't retain anything I read.
I often fall asleep when I start reading.
But I really admire people who read and I want to be one of them!
That is why I affirm my girls so much in their love of reading - book are magical portals into other worlds and ideas.  They ignite the imagination and provoke deeper thoughts.
Books are rad!
Readers are even radder! (yep, that's a word)
These bookmarks were a gift to the girls for their birthday - Mark My Time.
They record how long it takes you to read a book, or you can tell your child to read for 30 minutes and set the count down timer - hands down the coolest gift ever for a kid who love to read!
I had a crazy thought a few months ago that scared me - one day my girls are going to clue into the fact that I never read and say, "why doesn't mommy ever read books?  I guess I won't read anymore either."  And I will be the end of their reading career!
How can I constantly praise them for reading and say it's so cool, yet I don't do it?
I saw on Pintrist the top books you should read before they become movies this year.
One in particular caught my eye
"The Hundred Foot Journey" by Richard Morais
I read the review and thought it sounded pretty good.
I tucked it away in my mind and exited out of Pintrist.
STOP - go back and get it on Amazon NOW!

I did.

And this has become my favorite summer reading spot - a little sectional my husband built.

I'm almost finished and I don't want it to end!
I think I'm actually becoming a reader!!
Does that mean I'm rad?
**********************************
So help me out - I'm going to need a new book in about 1 day and I need some suggestions!
What is your favorite summer read?
Who is your favorite author?
Please send along your book recommendations and if you haven't read
The Hundred Foot Journey
and you love travel and cooking - read it!
Go grab a book and make it a Yummy Summer of reading!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Chinatown

We recently returned from an adventure in San Francisco.
Today I'm sharing a little Chinatown highlight!
 Check out the view from the top of the parking structure!

I could have just stayed on the roof all day!  It was a spectacular day in SFO!

On our drive up from Los Angeles, I was searching YELP for the best Dim Sum in Chinatown.
Good Mong Kok Bakery was our winner.
Not touristy
Off the main road
No menu
No seating
Perhaps a bit risky!
That's how I like it!

We got in line and were a bit nervous because the place is very tiny and there is a bit of the "soup nazi" feel when you go to order!  It was a little stressful with the line, no menu and language barrier (or was there?!)

Check out those stacks of steaming delights!!
Mouth wide open was exactly how I felt!

Lunch for 5 for $12!
In addition to YELP, I called on my oldest friend Marc (friends since we were 2 years old and still going strong!) to give us his grand tour of Chinatown.  
There is little this guy doesn't know about San Francisco!

We took our lunch to the steps of the Chinese Methodist Church 
and enjoyed the authentic delights.
(I hoped the food would be extra blessed if we ate it at a church and 
God would protect us from any tummy troubles!!)


That chowmein was ridiculous!


Everything was so good, especially the BBQ pork buns!
After lunch the tour began.

Leading us to the most sacred of places, Ross Alley!



Sacred?
Yes, because it's the home of the back door to this place!





The smell is intoxicating and the process fascinating.
Such a treat.


The tour continued




These lanterns are my favorite!
Such a bright, happy display that spurs on celebration.

It was a fabulous day
Thanks Uncle Marc for the interesting facts, laughs and fun in Chinatown!
Happy weekend everyone - go on an adventure and don't be afraid to eat where the locals do!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Let It Go

I know we make a lot of excuses once we become mothers - like we dress like hobos because our kids are just going to spit up on us.  Or when they get a little older we still dress like hobos because we seem to spend more time and money on cute outfits for them than for ourselves!
And we don't do our hair, let alone go get our hair done because there simply isn't time!  
Praise God for the ponytail!!
Since becoming a mother, I only go to the salon once a year to get my hair done.
Once a year.
And every time I leave the salon I think, "why did I wait so long to do this?"
Perhaps you remember a few weeks ago my little ladies made their first visit to the salon to lose 8 inches of their hair to donate.  On that day I kept telling the hairdresser that I'd be back at the end of summer to have mine cut off too!  
It's been getting WAY TOO LONG!
But why was I going to wait?
My hair is a long straggly mess.
I wear it up all the time because it's too long to manage - not to mention how many times a day my kids accidentally pull my hair when it's down!  A cute hug from them could mean a headache and serious bruising for me as they pull my hair in their embrace.
I grabbed the phone and just made an appointment right then.
Why did I need to wait until the end of summer?
As I sat in the chair, I realized that I didn't take a before picture!
(And sadly have since realized that I have no pictures of my hair at the great length it was! 
 Longest it's been since high school!)
I had the hairdresser snap a quick pic just after she washed it, before the big cut.

You can't really tell with the Darth Vader cape and wet hair how long it really is, but trust me, if I were wearing high waisted mom jeans, my hair would rest a few inches above the belt!

7 inches gone.
Praise the Lord!

How awkward is it taking photos of yourself in the bathroom mirror?
How in the world is there a "selfie" obsession?

Anyhooch,
after pondering why it took me so long to have my hair cut and why I would possibly keep putting it off, I came to a few conclusions - #1  Although I wanted to cut my hair, I kinda liked the attention I got from friends and family about how long it was.  I often heard, "I can't believe how long your hair is!" 
 And that attention felt kinda good.
You know what's funny?
Many of my friends haven't even noticed that's it's gone!  
Neither did my family!
Oh vanity!
You silly little fool!
Conclusion #2  The little voice in my head that says, "It took you about 4 years to grow your hair this long, and will take about 10 minutes to cut it all off."
Time wasted.
But here's the point friends - Conclusion #3 - The main reason I kept putting off cutting my hair is the same reason why I put many things off - I'm lazy.

Yikes - how many other things do I hold onto because of my vanity, personal investment, or laziness?
I think it's time I take the scissors to some areas of my life and stop making excuses!
Some things just need to go!
(insert your most favorite Frozen tune here "Let It Go")

Monday, July 14, 2014

Yummy Summer: Watermelon Salad

So I've seen these delightful summer salads drifting around the internet for sometime, 
but truth is, I'm not a huge watermelon fan (for shame - I know!)
and not a big feta fan either.
Until we had some friends for dinner and this little summer salad seemed to be
the exact match for kabobs and flat bread!

Watermelon Feta Salad
  • 1 small seedless watermelon, preferably chilled
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 10 mint leaves, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

I've converted!  This salad is amazing, easy and a cool crisp refresher for a Summer BBQ!
What is your favorite summer salad?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Yummy Summer: Pizza Party


Our children left for Camp Grammie yesterday, 
so my husband and I celebrated with a Pizza Party on our patio!
Some dear friends came over, no children, and we dined for about 4 hours with uninterrupted conversation!
On the menu:
Traditional Combination Pizza
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Rosemary Potato Pizza
Thai Chicken Pizza

We like to make pizza on the BBQ using a pizza stone.
That way we don't heat up the house and the crust is perfectly crisp!
Last night we thought it would be fun to do mini teasers before each pizza
 to prepare everyone for what was coming.
First up, Salad Bite
A sliver of tomato, slice of cucumber, wrapped in Romaine lettuce and drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette, all in one small bite!
Can you guess what pizza this preceded?
Traditional Combo

Second mini teaser was a Shot of Potato Salad
This came before our BBQ Chicken Pizza
It's my favorite potato salad recipe, simple, no frills, a hit ever time!
(I don't really follow exact recipes, so play around with it to your liking!  I also like the potatoes to be on the cusp of falling apart, so that the potato salad comes out a little more like mashed potatoes with solid chunks.)

Our third mini teaser was Prosciutto wrapped Asparagus
One small bite of delight!  I blanched the asparagus and wrapped it in prosciutto, then simply drizzled with olive oil, balsamic and fresh cracked pepper.
This came before our Rosemary Potato Pizza.

We saved our favorite pizza for last!
The mini teaser was a tasting spoon of Thai Mango Salad
Thinly sliced fresh mango tossed with lime zest, lime juice, red pepper flakes and a touch of sugar.  I let it marinade for a few hours and served it cold, topped with a cilantro leaf.
(this would be over the top with a few crushed peanuts mixed in)
A cool treat that came before the Thai Chicken Pizza.

It was a beautiful evening with great friends, wonderful conversation and a fun food experience!
How are you enjoying some "grown up" time with friends this Summer?
How about a little Pizza Party on the patio?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sacrifice

Would you believe I've never taken my girls for a "real" haircut!
They are 8 and either my mother or I have always cut their hair.
They really needed a haircut so it was time to call the salon.



We had talked about donating their hair, but it meant cutting off a few more inches than they really wanted.

I could see the fear in my daughter's eyes.  She really didn't want her hair cut above her shoulders.  I told her that a few more inches meant some other person who is sick with no hair would be able to get a wig.  I could see the battle in her mind.  I kept encouraging her that it would grow back quickly and she was so close!
She finally decided to do it ( I felt badly for being so persuasive!) and it's adorable!

Sister followed suit.


We had talked about them donating their hair for sometime as it is something I want to do now that my hair is crazy long and needs to go! (If you know an organization that takes color treated hair, let me know), but once we got to the salon and it became real, they started to question their decision.
It was really just a few inches more than they planned on cutting to be able to donate, but those few inches were a real sacrifice.  
We all know that great sacrifices are required of us in life to reap great rewards - like sacrificing your body for 9 months (let's be honest, it's more like 2 years) if you want to have a baby.
Or uprooting, leaving your community and moving to a new city to take the job you really want.
Quitting your dream job and moving to another state to marry that man that God has called you to share your life with.
Sacrifice.
But what about the choice we face almost daily to sacrifice something small for a greater good?
I don't know about you, but often in my life it's those few extra inches, one more lap, another hour... that stops me from making the sacrifice
It might be a small thing like not making the dish I want because the recipe is too demanding and I don't want to sacrifice my time.  Or not having a stronger, more healthy body because I'm not willing to stay on the treadmill for 30 more minutes each day.
But to get the result we want, be it a fantastic meal, healthy body or helping someone, it means a little sacrifice.
Are you willing to sacrifice a few more inches today to help another or get what you really want?

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