Sunday, January 31, 2010

Valentine's Day: Heart Shaped Foods

Valentine's Day is only two weeks away and what can be better than heart shaped foods to add to the celebration. While running errands with my mom this weekend, I came across these two products and thought they would be really cute for Valentine's Day; especially if you're celebrating with kids, which a lot of us including myself are!

Valley Lahvosh Heart Shaped Crackers


$2.69
Smart & Final

Heart Pasta

$4.99
Cookin Stuff in Torrance
(the "If we don't have it... You don't need it" store)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Angie

Today is my Best Friend Angie’s birthday and even though I’ll be seeing her in a couple of hours I want to wish her “A Very Happy Birthday” blogger style. We’ve been through so much together and I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for being there through the good times and the bad times, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of her beautiful girl’s lives and for loving JD as if he were her own.


Friday, January 29, 2010

The Party Planning Mommy: Deluxe Carousel Jumper

I just couldn’t be happier, this week is coming to an end and we’ve accomplished so much. Today we finally received a call back from one of the vendors we’re using for JD’s 1st Birthday and he was able to get us the perfect jumper for the party, a Carousel Jumper! We had such a hard time finding this specific jumper in the South Bay, but Debbie at Jumporama in Buena Park was nice enough to refer us to someone in Long Beach who carried it. Everything is coming together so nicely and I want to thank my family and friends (you know who you are) for all their ideas and support, it’s so great to see how much JD means to all of them.

Deluxe Carousel Jumper

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Party Planning Mommy: Pinwheel Templates

I love pinwheels; there is something so fun and childlike about them, but your hardly ever see them around anymore. So, in my search for cute pinwheels for JD’s 1st birthday party, I came across some wonderful pinwheel templates. I have a closet full of scrap-booking supplies (the hubby has made it very clear that if I don’t start using them, he’s selling everything on eBay), so I’ll be making the pinwheels for JD's party myself (hopefully with the help of my co-planners hint-hint)!

Here are some of my favorites so far:




Templates:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Girls' Day Out: Disneyland

Sometimes you just need a day to unwind and have a little fun, for my closest friends and I that usually means day-tripping, road-tripping or shop-tripping. On Sunday my best friend Angie and her girls Selena & Melissa (my goddaughters), the Garcia Foodies and I took advantage of our annual passes and all headed to Disneyland for a well deserved girl’s day out. We had such a great time that we’re eager to make these trips a new monthly ritual.

Girls' Day Out at the Happiest Place on Earth


Angie, Me, Melissa, Mari, Selena and Gabi 
January 
2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Football Rice Krispies Treat

I’m on such a dessert kick lately. While visiting Disneyland this past weekend I saw a really awesome dessert idea for Super Bowl, a football shaped, chocolate coated Rice Krispies Treat (yummy). I found a football cookie cutter at Sur la Table (my absolutely positively favorite cooking store) and I can’t wait to make and eat these cute little footballs for Super Bowl!


Football Rice Krispies Treat


Football Cookie Cutter
$0.56

Monday, January 25, 2010

Heart Shaped Brownies

Valentines Day is a few weeks away and I’m already thinking about dessert, well actually I’m always thinking about dessert. I typically make chocolate dipped strawberries for Valentines Day, but this year if everything goes as planned we will be celebrating in Big Bear, so I want to make something that will be perfect for a snowy (hopefully) Valentines Day. I absolutely love brownies; I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t and this idea is not only easy but ideal for all you brownie lovers!

 You will need: 
  • 1 box Brownie Mix (unless you want to make your mix from scratch)
  • Heart-Shaped Cake Pan (or a heart shaped cookie cutter)
  • Cooking Spray
  • Pastry Box 

    Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix 


    This is my favorite brownie mix but you can use any brownie mix you like, follow the directions on the box, just cut the baking time down to 20 minutes.

    Wilton Silicone Heart Pan

     
    This is the pan I own, it actually makes larger brownies than most heart shaped pans, which I love. You can buy this one online at Amazon.com for around $10.00, or at most craft or baking stores.

    Pastry Boxes


    If you plan on giving some of your brownies as yummy gifts, you can find these pastry boxes at most craft or baking stores.

    Sunday, January 24, 2010

    Crazy 8: Quilted Jacket

    My search for a winter jacket for JD has ended before it really even begun, yesterday while window shopping (I say this to throw the hubby off) I visited Crazy 8, one of my favorite clothing stores for children and I found the perfect jacket to match JD's winter boots and yes it was on sale;  so I also bought him a warm pair of jersey-lined pants for our trip to Big Bear and a cute football shirt, that I'll have him model on Super Bowl Sunday.


    Quilted Jacket
    $34.50
    $12.99
    (on sale)



     Jersey-Lined Active Pant
    $14.50
    $11.49
    (on sale)

    Saturday, January 23, 2010

    Kid's Keen Kootenay Boot

    We’ve planned are yearly trip to Big Bear for early February and I’m so excited, it will be JD’s first visit to the snow. In preparation for our trip I’ve been searching for some winter boots for JD and let me tell you, infant boots are hard to find, unless you shop online and they cost almost as much as adult boots. Yesterday the hubby and I happened to stop by Nordstrom Rack at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center on our way to the movies (they have a great selection of infant shoes); Well, I never imagined I would find the exact boots I was thinking of buying online, but I did and for more than half off the retail price. Now I just have to find a winter jacket to match JD's new cute winter boots.


    Keen 
    Kid's Kootenay Boot
    Retail: $55.00
    I paid: $16.90

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    Food Network Products at Kohl’s

    I believe that food can be more than just fulfilling it can be artistic too and what better way to show off your culinary creations than with fantastic servingware. For all you Food Network fans, you’ll be happy to know that Kohl’s (my Mervyn’s replacement) sells really fabulous Food Network and Bobby Flay products, everything from cookware to table linens. Here are two products I’ve added to my shopping list, just in time for Super Bowl. You can purchase these products at Kohl’s or online at Kohl's.com.


    6-pc. Bowl & Server Set
    $35.99


    3-Tier Serving Bowl Server
    $29.99

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    iPhone App: "Little Do They Know"

    In this blogger world, you come across such talented people, like Vivian Nguyen an artist who captured my attention with the most adorable comic strip I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Although she draws more than just comic strips, I have personally fallen in love with “Little Do They Know”, a whimsical strip that offers a humorous glimpse at love & relationship challenges...via the precocious exchange between two innocent youngsters (furrysoft.com). I have really enjoyed reading her blog these last couple weeks and I am pleased to announce “There’s An App For That” and it’s free, just click here for more info. I’m so thankful that people like Vivian have decided to share their talent with world; I hope that others will be inspired to do the same.


    "Little Do They Know"
    by: Vivian Nguyen

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    the incredible standing baby...

    JD has become very independent in the last few weeks, although he still enjoys crawling around the house; he is much more interested in climbing furniture, especially when no one is paying attention to him (which is exciting and scary all at the same time). So without further ado, here is JD on his furniture of choice, daddy’s leather glider.

     
    I got it mom!

     
    Wow, I don't got it!

     
    Hey, I'm standing!

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Mustard and Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin

    This recipe is one of the hubby’s favorites; I try to make it at least once a month and yesterday Vons happen to have pork tenderloin on sale, so I thought why not make it today (yesterday). I love oven cooking because, not only does it warm up the house on cold days, but it keeps the kitchen relatively clean which is always a plus. I usually serve pork tenderloin with oven roasted veggies, but you can also serve it with mashed potatoes, rice, salad or any other of your favorite side dishes.

    Mustard and Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin

    Ingredients:
    • 2 pork tenderloins, trimmed of any extra fat and silverskin
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon of a mixture of you preferred spices*
    Directions:
    Place pork in a roasting pan coated with cooking spray or olive oil. Rub pork with 1/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper. Combine mustard and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl; spread mixture evenly over pork (I use a basting brush).

    Bake at 375 for 1 hour or until thermometer registers 140. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Transfer roast to a serving platter and serve with your favorite side dish.

     

    *I like to use Trader Joes 21 Seasoning Salute which contains: Onion, Black Pepper, Celery Seed, Cayenne Pepper, Parsley, Basil, Marjoram, Bay Leaf, Oregano, Thyme, Savory, Rosemary, Cumin, Mustard, Coriander, Garlic, Carrot, Orange Peel, Tomato Granules, Lemon Juice Powder, Oil of Lemon, and Citric Acid.

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    DIY Custom Framing

    I have to admit I have countless hobbies (because of my only child syndrome), but one of the hobbies I enjoy the most, is photography; which brings me to my next logical hobby, picture framing.  A few years ago I took on a part time job at JoAnn’s, in the custom framing department because seemed like an interesting trade to learn and it was. I worked in the custom framing department for over two years and learned a lot of great DIY custom framing tricks.
    1. Did you know most custom framing stores will cut mats for you, for almost half the price they charge in a custom framing order?
    2. Did you know ready-made mats and frames can look just as nice as custom made mats and frames?
    3. Did you know you can ask framing associates at Aaron Brothers, Michaels and JoAnn’s for framing advice and they will gladly help you pick the best ready-made frames and mats to match your art/picture?
    4. Did you know custom framing stores sell all the materials you need for DIY framing; hanging hardware including hanging wire, paper dust cover, double sided tape (for adhering dust cover) and foam core.
    Things to keep in mind when DIY framing:
    • Always work in a clean environment.
    • Use a lint free cloth when cleaning glass.
    • Wear cotton gloves when handling pictures and artwork to prevent smudge marks.
    • Always check for lint and dirt before closing your frame.
    • Add a paper dust cover on the back of your the frame, for a professional look (great touch when giving a frame as a gift).
    Great Example of DIY Framing

     

     


    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Sweet Tooth Satisfaction: Ambrosia Salad

    Today I was craving something sweet, which generally means it's time to bake brownies, but my sweet tooth convinced me to try something much more exciting and super easy to make, Ambrosia Salad. JD’s grandma (the hubby’s mom) makes the best Ambrosia salad and today the Garcia Foodies shared the recipe with me; and with their permission I'm sharing it with you.  

    Ambrosia Salad
    • 1 can mandarin oranges, drained
    • 1 can pineapple chunks, drained
    • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
    • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
    • 1 cup sour cream 
    • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
    Directions:

    Combine pineapple chunks, sour cream, coconut flakes and slivered almonds in a large bowl, and then gently fold in the mandarin oranges (they are very delicate). Cover salad and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.



    Here are some yummy things you can also add to the salad, just remember to add more sour cream when adding extra ingredients:
    • 1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained 
    • 1 small can peaches, drained and halved 
    • 1 cup red or green seedless grapes, halved

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    The Party Planning Mommy: Monkey Jack-in-the-Box

    I'm getting so excited about JD's 1st birthday party; I'm right on schedule with the planning, specially with the help of Mari and Gabi as Co-planners. I’ve found some really delightful ideas and supplies so far, but these Monkey Jack-in-the-Boxes have got to be one of my favorite finds.  They match the Mod Monkey color scheme exactly and I plan on building the centerpieces around them.
     

    Monkey Jack-in-the-Box
    $15.00 - $20.00

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    the mommy's new iPhone: Simple Soiree App

    The hubby purchased an iPhone a couple of years ago and at the time I wasn’t really interested in having one (I wasn’t a techie-techie), I was pretty happy with my Erickson camera phone and my free Google 411. I changed my mind significantly in the last year as I watched how easy it was to find directions, look up businesses, restaurants, send emails and most of all take amazing pictures. Well, the hubby an advocate of techie-techiness, was sweet enough to give me his upgrade this year and bought me the iPhone 3GS and I’m addicted. I have come across some really cool and helpful apps (applications) and I plan on sharing them with all you iPhoners as I come across them. Here is one of the apps that I purchased for $1.99, it is perfect for all you party planners.



    Liza'a Simple Soirée Party Planner takes the stress out of entertaining and puts the fun back into parties. It's an easy-to-use mobile app that you’ll have with you in your pocket or purse to keep track of party details. Forget a menu item or guest? No problem. Just add the information on the go!

    Imagine…no more lists on scraps of paper around your home, forgotten details or incomplete shopping runs. Simple Soirée convenience means one place to plan your theme and menu, record RSVPs, and coordinate shopping lists and errands. It’s highly intuitive and flexible. The app also records your parties and events for future reference and/or use.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Baby vs. Squash

    Tuesday I made JD his favorite food, baked butternut squash; in an attempt to allow him a bit of independence, things got a little messy. Needless to say, JD had to take a shower with daddy before going to bed.

     
     
    the squash won...

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Fake-Out Recipe: Spicy Sausage and Cheese Meatball Spaghetti

    I’ve always really enjoyed cooking; I find that it helps me unwind at the end of the day. But now, I also enjoy spending time with JD when I get home from work, so I’ve come up with a couple of ways to do both. On days where a meal will take longer to make, I place JD in his highchair in the kitchen (away from the stove, I can already see my dad panicking at the thought of JD in the kitchen) and I include him in everything I do, I give him things to hold and taste and I explain everything I’m doing as I cook. On other days like last night, I’m a bit sneakier, I make meals that may taste like they took a long time to make but they don’t like this fake-out recipe.

    Shopping List:
    • 2 pounds hot Italian sausage, casings removed
    • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
    • 1 jar marinara sauce (I recommend TJ’s Giotto's Rustico Sauce)
    • 1 package spaghetti
    • 1 French or sourdough baguette
    • Olive oil
    • Grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
    Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove casing from sausage; divide each sausage into 4 equal portions. Form each portion into a ball then put 1 piece of the fresh mozzarella cubes into the center of each meatball and seal the meat around it. Place the meatballs in a large bowl and gentle toss with olive oil. Place meatballs on a greased baking sheet and roast until firm, about 20-30 minutes. Cook spaghetti according to the directions on the package. Pour ready made marinara sauce into a large sauce pan, add cooked meatballs and bring sauce to a simmer. Plate spaghetti, add sauced meatballs, Parmesan cheese and serve with warm French bread.


    Spicy Sausage and Cheese Meatball Spaghetti

    Wine Pairing: BV Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon ($6.99 Trader Joe's)

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    The Party Planning Mommy: "Lulu" the Clown

    The party planning is definitely in motion and today after much consideration we finally booked an entertainer for JD’s 1st birthday party, Lulu the Clown. Although I personally have nothing against clowns, I had a hard time convincing the family about hiring one (JD loves clowns; he’s already made friends with the TMMC Volunteer Clowns). Well, I asked that they all take the time to watch “Lulu” the clown in action and they fell in love with her, just as quickly as I did. Lulu is so delightful and she caters to all ages including toddlers, which is a plus for us.


    "Lulu"

     
     Lulu's Balloon Art

    Gentle, silly and sweet... Everyone loves Lulu! An excellent entertainer, face painter, and balloon artist with over 10 years experience working with children, Lulu is the perfect choice for your next celebration. Let Lulu enchant everyone with age and theme appropriate activities as a Clown, Princess, Pirate, Fairy, Wizardry Student (perfect for Harry Potter parties) or Santa's Helper. Lulu is also good friends with many famous princesses, superheroes and cartoon characters who would love to make an appearance at your party!

    Movie Night: Youth in Revolt

    This weekend the hubby and I headed to the movies with our friends Javy and Christina, to watch Youth in Revolt. I’m a huge Michael Sera (Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist) fan, so I was really looking forward to watching this quirky film. Funny, weird and wonderful is the only way I can describe it; I recommend watching it, especially if your looking for a good laugh, but I warn you it is definitely a rated R film.



    Superbad's Michael Cera discovers a vacation romance in Youth in Revolt, a teen comedy from Charlie Bartlett's screenwriter, Gustin Nash, and director Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck). The film is an adaptation of C.D. Payne's first book in a series of best-selling satirical novels starring Nick Twisp, a sexually charged 14-year-old whose intelligence and hormones get him into all sorts of adventures.

    -Jeremy Wheeler, All Movie Guide

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Infant and Child CPR

    Although I probably should have done this a long time ago (about eight months ago), this weekend I realized that a crawling, climbing and almost walking baby can get into a whole lot of trouble; so the next to-do item on my list is to get Infant/Child CPR CertifiedTorrance Memorial Medical Center actually offers many classes to our community, for a small fee of course and an Infant/Child CPR class happens to be one of them, so I’ve officially signed JD’s sitters and myself up for this class. If you or anyone you know is interested in taking any of the following classes please call TMMC HealthLinks at (310) 517-4702, click here for 2010 Class schedule.
    • Infant/Child CPR
    • Adult CPR
    • Childbirth Classes
    • Newborn Care
    • Breastfeeding
    • Grandparenting
    • Sibling Preparation
    • SurperSitter (baby-sitting class for kids 12-16 years of age)

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Bruschetta alla Julie and Julia

    After watching Julie and Julia “again,” with the Garcia foodies (JD’s Aunties) we had no choice but to make our own bruschetta as a tribute to the movie, which we enjoyed with a bottle of Lambrusco Dell'Emilia Bianco (Trader Joe's).

    Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta
    • 4 slices Filone bread (or large French baguette)
    • 16 oz. assorted heirloom cherry tomatoes, quartered 
    • Extra virgin olive oil 
    • 1-2 clove garlic, peeled and chopped 
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
    • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste 
    • 3 leaves chopped fresh basil
    Toss tomatoes, chopped garlic, basil, 3 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon sea salt and a pinch of pepper in a bowl, refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Fry bread in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, browning on each side, and adding 1 more tablespoon if oil if necessary.

    Spoon bruschetta onto pan toasted bread and serve.

    Serves 2.



     
    Lambrusco Dell'Emilia Bianco
    $3.99
    Trader Joe's

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    Pier 1 Imports

    These are some of my newest dining accessories, I bought them all at Pier 1 Imports during their 50%-75% off sale (which is going on now, so hurry). I love making appetizers, dips and other antojitos (cravings) and serving them in these plates will definitely add some pizazz.

     
    Hand Painted Tomato Serving Dish
    (perfect for Caprese Salad) 
    $10.00
      
    Mini Veggie Dishes 
    (perfect for Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta)
    $2.00 each
     
      Artichoke Bowl
    ( perfect for Spinach and Artichoke Dip)
    $5.18

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    JD's Library: Such a Silly Baby!

    A few days ago I was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to JD and I realized that he was no longer trying to eat the book; he was actually looking at the pictures and examining the pages. So, this brings me to one of my many 2010 to-do list items: Build JD, his own home library. JD already has lots of books and I’m always finding new ones to add to his collection, so why not go all out and build him a library (in the next few months), with bookplates and all. In the meantime I will continue to add to his collection, starting with this little gem of a book.


      Such a Silly Baby!
    By Steffanie Lorig
    and Richard Lorig
    Illustrated by Amanda Shepherd






    Such a Silly Baby! - Bursting with bright illustrations and a rollicking text, this boisterous book invites readers to hoot, neigh, snort, and giggle along with a very silly baby.

    Retail: $15.99
    I paid: $6.00
    (on eBay, with shipping)

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    Laurel Denise 2010 Planner

    January is here and staying true to my yearly custom, I sought out to find the perfect 2010 planner. I know many of you are crinkling your noses (hubby) at the thought of a planner made of actual paper, but I can’t live without one, I just can’t. Well, I found one, “I Love It” and I got it for under 10 bucks at Borders and here it is.



     

     

    This 2010 Laurel Denise Yearly Planner is definitely a planner for those who like a good, simple design.  From the typography, to fresh and contemporary layout, it's probably the most beautiful planner I've ever seen. It is super-functional, with handy lists, including perforated shopping notes and lists that you can tear out. It also has inserts to help you manage your schedule on a daily or weekly basis.
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