Disney Presents the Lion King

The Lion King was playing for a few weeks at the San Diego Civic Center. Since we have an avid Lion King fan, I thought it would be a fun thing to do. I have only heard great things about the show so I for one was excited. The older girls however, were not and they originally said that they would rather stay home. So we decided just Aves and I would go, of course after the tickets were bought, they changed their minds. By that time it was too late, the seats were slim picking.

After dinner and on a school night, Averi and I headed downtown. After we found are seats we had to go back up to stock up on sweets and a drink.

Averi got all sorts of compliments on her dress.

The opening moments of the show were breathtaking. The music and life size animal puppets were incredible. As the African drums filled the room a herd of galloping gazelle make their way down the aisles followed by rhinos with flocks of birds perched on their horns. They were followed by thudding elephants also making their way to the stage. Giraffes came out on the stage as a yellow-orange glowing sunrise filled the stage all while a leopard made it’s away around the animals.

All of the characters were played by fantastic actors. The hornbill Zazu was comedic perfection and the young Simba was outstanding.

It was a great show.

The second act was a little slower, more talking, less singing. Averi knows every word to the show so if something was off, I heard about it. Zazu would joke, “this isn’t the cartoon!” Which made the adults laugh and the children question why.

Averi started getting tired towards then end, it was past her bedtime. We got home by 10:30 and she crashed as soon as she hit her bed.

It was a great time and I am forcing all the girls to go to the next show.

Baking with Kids

The second session of my cooking class was International baking. I had 4 girls, all 8 years old (it can’t get much better than that).

We started off the first week making Venezuelan Alfajores sandwich cookies, Albanian cornbread with feta and green onion. Indian Nankhatai cookies and South African Karringmelkbesuits.

Since they were only 8, they were more about the creating, than the outcome. So I would invite them to use their creativity, after we completed the recipe.

This is one of the girls hand made cookie.

Each of the girls reminded me of our Aves, she would have loved being in this class.

I decided to start each day with a different approach, than I did with my cooking class.

I would find a book on video that had a story about a country that we were going to “visit” or a food that resembled one we would be making. They loved it.

And if you don’t know about StoryLine Online, and you have kids, you have to check it out!

The next week we made Egyptian butter cookies and Lithuanian sour cream pockets.

The sour cream pocket recipe did not work, something was off…

But who cares.

Next, we made mango cupcakes, and stuffed Georgian cheese breads.

I was really excited about this next recipe.

Mongolian sesame flat-bread crackers with a cream cheese spread.

But somewhere along the way, the soy sauce was heavy handed in the spread and it was too salty…inedible

But I will make that again.

We also made a really good cheese pizza.

And a not so good Romanian Easter bread.

The last day of class, I asked them to make something from the ingredients that we had left. Chopped style. They put so much heart into it. But…

You guys, this raised my blood pressure.

I just can’t with chaos.

But, they did so great.

They all used cocoa powder and chocolate chips.

Most of it wasn’t edible.

But that wasn’t the point. The point was to give them the freedom to create, with no boundaries.

I was very lucky to have that group of girls, It was such a great experience .

Mostly July

We had a low key 4th of July. The clubhouse had a BBQ and games which were fun for the kids.

Averi won a few things, Limbo and the belly flop…I think, which is so ironic.

We did some local wine tasting.

I took the girls to inflatable world which had water bouncy slides. Kaili was sure we wasn’t going to get wet.

The girls made tomato sauce for pizzas.

We went to the beach.

That about wraps up July. Aside from my summer cooking class, I will tell you all about it next.

Wolfs Tail

Yes, we did make it to Great Wolf Lodge in case you were wondering. It happened sooner than we originally planned for, aka turned into a spur of the moment situation. We decided to keep it a surprise from the girls. We told them that we were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s and that we were meeting them at the their pool. So the girls packed the night before and let me say, Kaili wanted to pack every damn thing, she wanted to give this and that to Grandma and I felt guilty as hell for lying. Come morning, we packed up the car and headed out. Passing our normal Laguna Niguel exit, luckily they didn’t notice with their heads in IPads. But when we got closer to GWL they meaning Shayne, realized something was off.

“Why did you say we were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s? Mom guilt.

We grabbed our luggage and off we went.

Our room was ready when we checked in, so we went and dropped off our stuff so we could get to sliding.

Averi’s birthday, her choice of bed. She chose the twin, no bunk this time.

We found a table to drop our shit, thankfully, that can be the biggest hurdle. If you can’t get there early, everything is taken.

We played all day.

The girls’ Paw Passes came with it all, ice cream, golf, arcade, yada yada yada. So around 6pm we went back to the room and changed and then went for ice cream.

Then they chose their stuffies, played games and then mini golf and then and then and then. For dinner, Averi wanted McDonald’s, sigh. We had it delivered (brilliance) which saved probably $125 for not eating at the resort.

The next morning we were up and down at the waterpark when it opened, easily grabbed a table and did it all again. Once the outdoor pool area opened, Shawna and I went out and had some adult beverages in the quiet sun.

Averi decided to brave the wave pool and boogie board before we went home, we were so proud.

She did so good for her first rodeo!
We stayed late into the afternoon and then decided to make our way back home. GWL is always a fun time. Next up though, maybe just Raging Waters and a motel, hahaha!

Destination Santorini, hopefully

Setting: Santorini, Greece

Reason: Wedding

Our alarm went off at absurdly 3:10 a.m.

I know what you are thinking, I thought the same thing… it’s for a vacation, that’s exciting right? Well, we all had a bad cold leading up to this, and sleeping wasn’t what I was getting much of at the time, so ya, 3 in the morning hurt. But, we got to the airport, on the first flight without any hiccups or coughing fits, thankfully. I literally had to have a cough drop in my mouth at all times.

We left San Diego early and got to NYC on time as the picture suggests. The layover in NYC was simple and then we were on our second leg to Athens. This leg was a good 9 hours and I started out by playing a game.

But after this rude comment, I switched to my book. (which is Book Lovers and as good as I imagined it would be.)

Finally we made it to Athens.

(If you don’t see this video because I am in a different country and my computer doesn’t comprehend.)

Once we reached Athens, we hit the ground running, until we weren’t. The Santorini airport was unlike anything else I have experienced. We should have had over 2 hours to play around at the airport, however that didn’t happen. Long story short, an hour was spent getting our luggage checked, and then we had to wait for a bus, yes a shuttle bus to take us out to our plane. The bus was a few hour late meanwhile we were only in the air for 26 minutes. However, we made it and was pleasantly surprised that our luggage made it as well.

The four of us took a transfer from the airport to Oia, pronounced Eeee-Uh. Our hotel was located at the beginning of the Oia(n)? village. This is the area you see in all of the movies. White buildings that look like sugar cubes perched on the rugged cliffs over looking the Aegean sea. There are blue domed churches dotted along the way, the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful.

There are cats and dogs happily sun bathing all over the village.

Once we got settled into our amazing room at Thirea Suites and Studios, and took a much needed shower, we met up with my parents for dinner.

Amazing right? Everything about this hotel is wonderful, except these.

Doesn’t look too terrible but I assure you this isn’t all of them. We counted and there are 139 steps. Let me tell you, after a week of coughing and the Mediterranean sun, 139 steps is no small feat. But it’s worth it when you reach the top.

We planned on walking through the village and down the 300 steps to Ammoudi bay however I didn’t have it in me. Not enough sleep and still fighting my cold, I wasn’t confident I would make it back up. So we stopped into a little restaurant that served traditional Greek dishes and had a nice dinner.

I ordered the Mussels Saganaki and a dry white wine (I can’t remember the varietal) and it was all really good. After dinner we popped into a little market by our hotel for some wine, water and snacks because no one wants to be left without options on vacation.

We poured a glass of wine and soaked in our jacuzzi, winding down from a couple of long travel days.

The one thing we didn’t prepare for was how difficult it is to find rides on the island. So if you come here, come prepared. There are very few taxis and even less Uber’s and transfers need to be reserved ahead of time or you’re left waiting.

I had made reservations at a winery a few weeks before we arrived. We forget to arrange our ride the day we got in so after climbing all of the stairs and coughing for a good 10 minutes in the sun, we finally managed to get a ride, although we ended up being an hour late to our reservations, but we made it.

We had four wines paired with two courses. The food was really good, the wine was just ok.

From the winery which was located in the middle of the island, we wanted to catch a ride on the bus down to Perrisa beach which is on the bottom of the island. We had to hike a ways back up the road to get to the bus stop. The bus is really convenient and a cheaper option to get around but it takes time to get from one side of the island to the other. We hopped off the bus in the town of Perrisa and walked seaside until we picked a beach bar to pop a squat. I don’t know why all the countries have amazing beach bars and we live in California and we have nothing like this.

The beaches were lined with shops and bars and they all offered chairs and umbrellas, all of them.

We changed into our suits, ordered a drink and soaked up the Mediterranean sun, literally, for hours.

The beaches are all black sand (rock beaches) thanks to the volcanic lava and ash. Hot as hell is what is was, like it literally did just came out of a volcano.

The water was chilly but it felt good. It was crystal clear and so refreshing to float in. I wish I could walk right into it right now.

We called our transfer for a pricey ride back to our hotel because we didn’t want an hour long bus ride.

The rest of the crew were all going to do a wine tour/dinner that evening, we were the only two losers that didn’t go. We had already done the wine thing and wanted to have a nice quiet dinner, but I did feel slightly guilty for not going. But they all had a good time, the didn’t miss us, I’m sure.

We tootled through the village, stopping for a couple of adult beverages and people/sight watching.

First up, two espresso martinis with a sea view.

We found a pharmacy and got some more cold meds because my cold is hanging on for dear life. Then we ran into this cute place with an amazing drink menu.

We found a bench and just soaked up the fact that we were in Greece.

Back to dinner, you guys, this meal was incredible.

We started off with grilled octopus with fava bean puree.

Ridiculous.

Then we both ordered risotto.

Me, pistachio risotto with sea bass. Her, wild mushroom with smoked bacon risotto with truffle oil.

Again, so so good.

For dessert, creme brûlée.

Completely satisfied, we walked back up more f*cking stairs.

And made our way back to our room, where we once again soaked in the jacuzzi until sleep beckoned us.

Tomorrow I hear there is a wedding. Although, it didn’t start of very pleasant for the happy couple. More on that next time.

καληνυχτα (good night)

Mother’s Day

We spent Mother’s day on Saturday to avoid the chaos that Sunday would have brought. Brunch was in Old Town and in typical fashion, everyone ate too many chips, but the margaritas were delish.

After brunch we took the girls swimming, you know, to tire them out. We finished the night watching A Christmas Story with pizza.

I was spoilt.

This egg cooker is AMAZING. Hard boiled eggs in less than 10 minutes, soft boiled in even less. AND no “watched pot never boils” situation.

It came with a mini griddle. I used it Sunday morning to make pancakes. I was blown away. Easy, perfect little pancakes, no mess and the kids ate them up.

But then, while getting sugar out of the pantry we realized that ants had invaded THE ENTIRE PANTRY. There was no solution aside from taking everything out and spraying, so happy Mother’s day to me, I now had some real fun ahead of me.


Half a day later, I ordered groceries via InstaCart, because taking the kids to the store was just too much.

So much work….. but it looks so much better.

Once I was done I took the girls to the pool. They were begging to go all day and guess what, they lasted less than an hour. I mean… of course they did.

Hanging with my Peeps

I wanted to write something funny about Easter but I really couldn’t find anything humorous about the holiday. Unless Jesus was actually just passed out for three days, that would be funny and totally believable, because if you could turn water into wine, wouldn’t every Friday be good?

We did egg and bunny paintings to hang in our front window.

We had a delicious dinner of grilled rib eyes, arugula, burrata with pears and walnuts with an Orin Swift red blend, not too terrible.

Fun fact; I birthed an expert potato peeler, it’s amazing because she is so anal about it, it had to be perfect which is great because I am the exact opposite, and I hate peeling shit, I will avoid recipes for that reason. So, I will deduct her one month of pregnancy bed rest for her knew found skill.

However, you can’t be good at everything, know what I’m saying?

I mean……

Plunge into Eleven

We went through a handful of party themes for Kaili’s 11th party. First it was this, then it was that, and finally we landed on a Cheetah theme. Which was exciting for me because for some sick reason I like to attempt new things in the kitchen when the audience is bigger than the our household. I wanted to see if I could make a cake with the cheetah print inside, reach for the stars you guys. So that put me in crunch time to order a cake topper because even though I like to bite off more than I can chew, I don’t want like to choke; so creating cheetah prints on the frosting was out of my comfort zone. I ordered an edible topper and had it rushed delivery so I wouldn’t be panicking the day before the party. I got the UPS updates all day Wednesday telling me that it was out for delivery and would be here by 5:00, sweet. Well, 5:00 came and went and then I got a message saying that it was delivered to our front door, but it wasn’t, so then panicking ensued. I went to the neighbors like a crazy person and with no avail, decided to wait until morning. Maybe the good samaritan that had my kids birthday cake topper would drop it off. Meanwhile I racked my brain of a back up plan and the thought of having to roll out fondant to decorate the cake was too much for my mind to take. So after the kids were at school, I set out on foot to check everyones front porches for the white envelope I know so well from past birthdays. You guys, I found it, it was on our neighbors porch, hidden behind plants. But….I had already rung their doorbell and no one answered. On top of everything it was a camera doorbell and apparently I am a chicken shit, I went home empty handed. Shawna told me to man up, take the envelope and stop stressing. So I went back, grabbed the envelope and cowardly mouthed to the camera that it was mine and waved like an idiot and went home with my heart pounding like I just went through TSA with cocaine in my panties. I mean, I hadn’t even baked anything yet, sigh.

Kaili wanted her party at the Plunge in Mission Beach. The Plunge is a huge indoor pool with an inflatable obstacle course. We had never been before so it was a blind mission. I was able to order all of the food before hand, they were super easy to work with and would definitely do it again. We had a nice area by the pool that had a table, a couple of benches and loungers.

The girls went straight into the water and didn’t want to come out.

I took you through a vital piece of birthday cake background and you’re probably wondering what the hell? Let’s talk cake.

Super underwhelmed about said cake. I’m not sure I even like cake anymore.

The cake was crumbly and I don’t know why because I didn’t over-bake it.

The design sort of turned out, I was not thrilled with the outcome but my cream cheese frosting is always good period.

Three hours went by in a snap, and our time slot was up. We had to drag the kids out of the pool, they were having so much fun. Next time we will reserve for a longer period of time and maybe just Uber to and fro to avoid the parking fiasco. But, it was a good time and I’m sure we will be back, however Averi has already decided on Great Wolf Lodge for her birthday.

Twisty Pig

I don’t know why twisting bacon before cooking it changes the flavor and the texture, but it does and it’s delicious.

If you sprinkle some brown sugar on the bacon before cooking, you’ll never want bacon any other way again.

I actually made a little mixture of brown sugar, nutmeg, garlic powder and cayenne pepper then slightly dredged each piece of bacon in that seasoning before twisting. We may or may not have had this two nights in a row, paired with burrata and arugula.

We had a family day at the Galaxy game. We’ve been spoiled with amazing seats the last few times we’ve gone. I don’t know how we are going to adjust to going back to regular old seating.

Are anyone else’s children hooked on Turning Red? Ours are obsessed with one of the songs, they get home from school and go up to their rooms and belt it out. It’s also shower material. One minute it was all about Bruno and now it’s 4 town and birthday party decor.

I can appreciate a movie about PMS and a girls first period. Especially with a house full of females. Sigh, good times ahead.

The older two girls had a school field trip to the Opera. The school busses took them downtown to the Civic Center to see Romeo and Juliet in Italian. There were english subtitles so the kids could follow along. They were dropped off at school around 4:30 and didn’t get home until 10:00. It was a new experience for them and they had a great time. I can’t believe how old they are getting.

We wrapped up the week with an amazing USMNT game, a 5-1 win! The girls broke in the S’mores maker a couple of times, and we watched parts of the Academy Awards.

Did it win? We didn’t get that far.

Rolling with a side of Pasta

This week started off with the most Monday-ist Monday I’ve had in awhile. Is that because of the Mercury in Retrograde shit people make up believe affect their personal lives?

I decided to task switch and take a break from writing my course paper. My professor chewed up my rough draft, spit it out then told me that, and I quote, “You have two bad habits as a research writer, you use questions in areas where you should be focusing on articulating discussion and you speak about yourself in the first person.” Do I sir? Do I ask too many questions in the first person, sir? I mean, the nerve of this guy.

So I decided a work out would be a good way to reset the day, and the instructor, said “today you are not going to fall apart on the bike.” Maybe he was referencing Mr. Big, but I felt that in my soul.

I have some good recipes to share with you, but I don’t have the time to write them both, so one will have to do for now.

Oh, we also took the girls roller skating, which the adults had more fun doing. But Aves wowed us all by joining in on the game Limbo, and won the damn thing. I mean it’s because she is small, but still, a win is a win.

PASTINA RISOTTO

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Water’s Fine Foods. The author and chef, Mary Kay Waters is owner of our local Waters catering. I have talked about how good their food is, mac and cheese, roasted veg, her chocolate mousse and lemon bars are close to perfection as you can get. This time I made something different.

It’s not a traditional risotto, the pasta is cooked first and then combined with the other ingredients. Let’s talk about the combination of flavors, though, exceptional! We paired this with steak one night and then had it on it’s own another night. This is sure to be a hit and I will be serving this at the next family dinner.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound acini de pepe pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 pound mushrooms, chopped

1/4 head cabbage, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1/3 cup white wine

2/3 chicken stock

1 cup fresh white corn kernels

3/4 cup cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs ( I used sage and parsley) reserve some for garnish

3/4 cup grated parmesan, reserve some for garnish

salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the package aka al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage and cook for 3 to 5 minutes longer, until soft.

Add the wine and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil and continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.

Add the cream and corn, bring to a boil, cook for 2 more minutes, remove from heat.

Stir in cooked pasta, herbs, parmesan and salt and pepper.

Serve with reserved herbs and parm on top.