Birthdays

To celebrate the February birthday’s in our family we all went to Little Italy for dinner. Although the food wasn’t anything to rave about, the company was well worth it. The best part of Italian food is that we know we can order the girls pizza and skip the dramatics. You guys, they are getting older, when does their pickiness go away?

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Later that night Kaili started to deteriorate and ended up with a bad cold. It has now hit the entire house, besides me; takes a bow while simultaneously knocks on wood. 

A week or so later we headed to Vegas. While we were waiting to check in, we saw Jesus, probably.

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We hit the arts district where we had an incredible lunch at Esthers Kitchen.

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So good in fact, that we went back once more before we left.

Once my brother flew in, we hit the town. Music, food, dancing and all the fun that we have there.

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The next day we decided to hit up Frankie’s Tiki’s Lounge before heading to the strip.

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We were almost committed to riding on the high roller, but then beer pong caught our eye.

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On the way back to the hotel, we saw the most amazing rainbow.

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With that we headed to a casino to test our luck. Some of us were luckier than others. We met some nice folks, crazy characters and spent the rest of the night singing and dancing.

A great birthday month in the books.

My Favorite Valentines

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We had a low-key at home Valentine’s day.  After taking the girls for lunch at the park, we went home to give them their goodies of love.

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Once they were all sugared up, we sent them outside to disturb the neighbors. For dinner I made Chrissy Teigens’ meatloaf.  I am in no way a fan of loafed meat and it took bottles of ketchup and bbq sauce for me to eat it as a child. This recipe combines ground beef and spicy sausage which is the real winner on the dish. Just try it, it’s good. We also had potato puree, green beans and chocolate lava cakes for the ending. Pictures are now in your imagination because I didn’t pause to take any.

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We finished the night eating chocolate on the couch as our favorite shows played. I hope you all had a wonderful love day. I know I did!

 

January Wrap up

Everyone was saying how long January seemed, but to me, February came out of nowhere. On January 10th, Averi turned 5 and a half. On the girls half birthday they get to choose what/were they want to eat for dinner. Averi chose Chuck E Cheese, last year it was Islands for mac n cheese, so she is par for course of her dining choices. For someone who can go all day with her shoes on the wrong feet she sure is picky about her food intake.

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The girls have also been getting better on skates. We are trying to urge them outside after homework to practice their skating so the next time we go to the rink, they will be more independent.

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I took advantage of San Diego restaurant week (SDRW) and although each year I am less and less impressed with the choices, I was pleasantly surprised this time. Brian and I went to WaterBar in Pacific Beach for lunch and the view wasn’t the only thing that was sumptuous.

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The fish sandwich I had was truly deliciously messy. Our waiter said that the chef put the sandwich solely on the restaurant week menu but I would purposely go back there just for that sandwich.

Shawna and I also took advantage of the SDRW and had another spectacular meal. You guys, these are so far and few between for me that it’s worth writing about. There was crispy pork belly in a brown sugar maple glaze served with a fuji apple salad. We had crispy octopus with salsa verde and the absolute best dish of the night was the pan seared scallops with coconut black rice in a Thai red curry sauce. This dish was so incredible that I went ahead and tried to make it at home a week later.

Please disregard my awful plating and, imagine how good this was. You guys, so good!

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We also made whole roasted fish bathed in garlic, olive oil, jalapeños and lemons.

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I fed us for a week with this crustless mushroom and spinach frittata.

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The Santa Ana winds stopped for a visit and gave us a couple of 80 degree days. We all took advantage of the warm sunshine.

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And last but not least my baby lost her first tooth.

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Now it’s February and we marching towards more birthdays! Can’t wait to share the fun that is in store!

 

 

Mini Donuts

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Mini donuts are the best! Kaili says as I type this. She is on my lap dictating my words, so it’s all her fault, especially when you are thinking about donuts in bed. Kaili came home from school one day and said “mom, we made mini donuts!” And I said, “that’s awesome!” ” But wait, when did you make donuts?” She walked me through what I needed and it turned out, donut pans were a biggy.

The next morning I looked up a donut recipe, the only thing we were missing was a donut pan, just as Kaili said. Shit, I hate when the 8 year old is right!

Thanks to the amazing delivery services, we had our new silicone donut pans within days. I bought these and for the price, they are great. Just make sure to put the donut pans on a cookie sheet or they will fold on you and you will lose your donuts to the floor.

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I won’t lie, I haven’t made donuts before. So here we are with new donut pans and a recipe I found… Kaili assured me it looked A-Ok.

So, as the girls ate dinner, I baked the donuts allowing time for them to cool before the frosting commenced.

INGREDIENTS {DONUTS} *this recipe made a perfect dozen donuts

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted

3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sprinkles

{Frosting}

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray your donut pan with cooking oil.
Place the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
Add eggs, butter, milk and vanilla extract to the bowl. Stir until smooth.
Place the batter in a freezer bag. Snip off the tip of the bag and pipe the batter into the the donut pan.
Bake the donuts for 10 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean) Let the donuts rest for 3 minutes, then remove them from the pan and place on a rack to cool.
Place 1/4 cup of cream in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Pour in your chocolate chips and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for a few minutes and then stir. Your chips should melt, if not zap in the microwave for a few more seconds.
Dip each donuts into the chocolate ganache and then sprinkle the sprinkles to your hearts consent.
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*recipe adapted from here.

Sticky Korean Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are without a doubt the best finger food ever. Over the years I have steered towards the sweet and salty sauces opposed to the original buffalo sauce, I find it to be a little boring.  I used a dry rub and a sauce for these and it made them much more addicting. The Gochujang gives them a lingering spice that lends an umami sweet heat.

To lessen the clean up, I grilled the wings; leaving only the saucepan in my workload of dishes.

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INGREDIENTS

18 Chicken wings or around 2 lbs.

Dry Rub

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tsp EACH ginger powder, garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Korean Sticky Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons Gochujang (you can find this at most Asian markets and I have also seen it at Vons)

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or Mirin

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons of chopped scallions

DIRECTIONS

Stir rub ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add half of the rub to a large freezer bag with half of the wings and shake until coated evenly.  Set wings on a large cutting board or a vessel to transfer to the grill. Continue with remaining rub ingredients and wings.
Meanwhile heat the grill to medium-high heat.
Grill the wings until cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
While the wings cook, start the sauce. Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, simmer until thickened about 8 minutes.
Place the rested wing into a bowl and toss with the sauce until they are evenly coated. Garnish with green onion or sesame seeds.
*Note, these can be baked in the oven if you prefer. Heat oven to 400, line baking sheets with foil and top with a baking rack. Line wings on the prepared rack and bake 35-45 minutes or until cooked through. Follow as is, with the sauce.

 

 

Holiday Photos

Better late than never. Every year the girls and I meet uncle BK at a certain location for the holiday pictures. This year we chose La Jolla for the backdrop. We decided to have the girls do a take on the “trash the dress” theme. If you haven’t heard of “trash the dress” before, basically it’s a photoshoot where the bride wears her wedding dress for a second time; but this time it ends with the dress being creatively ruined, whether it’s while jumping into a pool or being saturated in wine. I always loved the idea. The idea in my head however was much more grand than what actually played. Mostly because the water was ice cold and even the girls didn’t want to get wet. I need to remember to take Christmas pictures in the summertime.

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Kaili ended up knocked over by a wave which was amazing.

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Once the sun set a little lower and the weather got chillier we wrapped it up. After a quick change into dry clothes, a seaside dinner awaited. The pictures turned out beautiful as they do each year.

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2020

Resolutions, traditions and parties, all of those words are used to describe New Years Eve.  One day you’re staying up late sipping sparkling wine all night and then before you know it, you are waking up every morning with young kids. That’s when you accept the fact that none of the “fun” of NYE events are going to happen again, at least for years. But then something wonderful happens, you realize that nothing else matters aside from waking up every day with the ones you love. Even if that means going to parks every damn day of holiday break. Where the kids would rather fill up their socks with sand than play on the swings.

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After an afternoon at the park we had managed to sneak invitations into the mailbox. Casually asking one of the the girls to check the mail, it only took a half a second of screaming to let the house know all the girls had a letter.

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We thought it would be fun to include the girls in one of the NYE traditions. Get dolled up, sip bubbly (soda sheesh), and dance till midnight. They were so excited. Nothing was off limits, want to wear make-up? That’s fine, one night and one night only. Fancy shoes, perfume, soda and no bedtime. What more could they ask for?

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We dined on charcuterie and puff pastry with cheese and passion fruit. These girls sat down in front of the food like we have starved them all day. Before you knew it, shoes were being kicked off and the whining was starting. You guys it wasn’t even 7:00. And then it happened, they asked if they could put on their pajamas and we said, “only after some pictures, party poopers” the nerve.

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We all sat in pajamas and sang karaoke but the party wound down quick. Before you knew it all the girls ASKED to go to bed. Apparently the moral of the story is this…. if you want to have an adult NYE with the kids in bed, take them to the park that day, stuff them full of meat and cheese and tell them they can stay up all night. Voila!

Cheers to a new year!

 

Holiday Break

Christmas came a few days late, it had to wait for all of us to get back home. Once we were all back together, it was off to the races.

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Santa brought way to much this year, waayyy too much. I’d like to say it’s all put away by now, but I’d be lying.

Wearing her new Sombrero, Averi helped me make cinnamon rolls. I made a semi-home version using pre-made bread dough and then just whipped up some cream cheese frosting. They were amazing and the pan was empty by the end of the day.

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The week felt like 10 years, I swear you guys. We went to plenty of parks, we cooked, and we made this weird candy that Santa brought. There was sushi, donuts and waffles;  I am actually shocked the girls ate it, strange stuff.

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AND we also sang Karaoke, yes we have apologized to the neighbors.

My family came over for a nice family belated Christmas. We had a taco bar, the annual Sherry cake and played games. Sadly everyone chickened out on their time to be a singing star. Averi however has found her niche.

Averi also got what she asked for from Grandma and Grandpa, a horse. It’s getting a lot of use.

 

 

 

Cancun {Part 3}

This was our first Christmas away from our kids which is in part why we decided to get away. I couldn’t imagine just sitting in our living room without them. We woke up a tad gamey on Christmas morning, luckily we had a special in room mimosa breakfast ordered for 8:30. Then we planned our attack to hit up Isla Mujeres. We went back and forth with just hopping on a Catamaran right outside our hotel to cut out the trip off of  the resort grounds and down into town to catch the Ferry. Buuuut, we weren’t keen on being on someone else’s schedule and having them choose where we were going to have lunch. In the end we decided to just do it ourselves. We hopped in a cab and jumped on the ferry.

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Once we were off the ferry they had people renting golf carts. We quickly grabbed one and within minutes we were in ours heading south down the island. Only 7 km long, its an easy trip around the island. Our friend at the resort told us to go to The Joint, a bar that someone he knows, knows someone else that might work there. Or so that is how the story went. About ten minutes into our cruise we unexpectedly and surprisingly ran straight into….

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That was some luck. We parked and went up to this outdoor bar. There were a couple guys playing some Sublime and a local bar dog. Shawna ordered a mango margarita and I ordered the best espresso martini of the entire trip, you guys it was so good. So good in fact that I ordered another to go. It’s legal there, well I assume it was since the bartender put it in a to-go cup for me.

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Not a terrible view to sit with a bevi.

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Once back in our cart we continued around the island. It’s just beautiful.

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We stopped every so often to walk down the the water and then I was able to get some cell service so we stopped at a cemetery and I called my girls to wish them a merry Christmas.

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Once we made it around the island we parked near Playa Norte. This is where there were restaurants and the beaches had chairs to rent. We had a pretty good lunch on the beach and I was very confident that it was el fin of tequila for me on this trip.

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After lunch we walked up the beach until we reached some open beach chairs. We plopped down, set our alarm and here is the best part. Fell asleep.

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We woke to the alarm and headed back to the mainland with plans of playing pool volleyball. But once we were back we ended up skipping it and just sat in the jacuzzi chatting with people.

For dinner we got all fancied up and went for one last Italian meal. Their garlic cream soup was so incredible you could bathe in it. I will see if I can recreate now that we are home. They had a Christmas show that night, once that was over I was beat.

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We woke up on our last day to rain. Once we were all packed we went down to the cafe for breakfast. Our flight wasn’t until later that day so were able to spend a little more time with friends at the pool until it was time to say our goodbyes. The trip home was a piece of cake and we were back in our own bed by midnight. It was a really good trip, just long enough. If we decided to do another all inclusive I would focus more on going where the food and wine is a bit better. But It’s going to be hard to go back to a hotel that isn’t all inclusive, that is definitely the way to go.

Cancun {Part Two}

A couples massage was booked for the next morning and it was the best way to start the day. After the massage we had access to the hydro-pool and hot tubs. Since it was still raining on and off we chose the warm option.

 

After drying off in the sauna we made our way to get breakfast before the storm.

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This was the worst day in the way of rain. It would dump bucket loads and then stop and continue throughout the day. We took this opportunity to join in the sushi making class.

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The entertainment staff was in charge of all things fun. Classes, pool games, volleyball…you get the point. They were the best out of all the staff at the resort. This is what happens if you give them your phone.

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Alejandra and Dylan made our stay just that much better.

If you can believe it, this was my first time making sushi. I didn’t do to bad but I think I’ll stick to ordering it.

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Most of our time was spent in the pool, drinking, and playing. Some days we played water volleyball, some days we played music trivia and some days we just floated around. Sometimes there were even boats of fresh skewered fruit floating around as well. We also met a lot of nice people that became instant friends. I wish I had more pictures but our phones were always under a towel somewhere.

Then the weather took a turn, the humidity dropped and the sun came back out. It was just perfect.

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Another afternoon we took a cigar making class. To sum it up, I learned WAY more than I ever needed to know about cigars. After the class a few of us shared a cigar and then decided the pool was more important.

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Each night we went to dinner and the evening show. We ate at the French restaurant and the Italian restaurant twice. We had amazing dishes like duck confit,  rack of lamb and and a garlic cream soup. We also had some very underwhelming dishes like the escargot and basically every dessert item on any menu.
Next door was a sister resort that we had full access to but it wasn’t adults only.  Several people mentioned to us that we should head there for their Brazilian steakhouse, so we took an evening to try it out.  To sum it up, it was a waste of a dinner. Harsh? Maybe. The salad bar was a sad excuse, some of the meats were okay but most weren’t very good. The one thing that stuck out the most were all.the.kids. It’s funny we hadn’t been around any children for a handful of days and it was like a heightened sense of chaos at that restaurant. The next day we were talking to another couple and told them about our dinner and the first thing out of the women’s mouth was “aren’t kids there?” Ha, what were we thinking?

The shows were also not great, probably just local talent that they can find. If you are used to Vegas shows or cruise ship entertainment, you need to take these with a large grain of salt. The guest singing talent show however was the best. One of our friends went up and sang a Bon Jovi song. He started out a show that turned out to be a lot of fun.

We all ended up in the club and danced the night away.

To be continued.