Bon Voyage 2022

We said adios to 2022 while cruising down to Mexico. The cruise deals lately are phenomenal, I highly recommend taking advantage if you can. Most cruise lines are now offering unlimited drink packages which are really hard to beat, if you like that sort of thing. Since flying anywhere lately is not only expensive but also a shit show, we decided to go back down to the Mexican Riviera but on a different cruise line. We were really spoiled with our Holland American cruise last year, very few people, ZERO children and great musical entertainment so there were big shoes to fill. We decided on Norwegian because it was a first for both of us, the dates worked out and the price was really easy on the pocketbook.

The itinerary had us leaving San Diego on New Years eve and hitting Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Ensenada, then back to SD.

We arrived at the port mid day and had a very simple embarkment. Unfortunately, new years eve was a cold and drizzly day, not an ideal way to start the trip. Pool deck activities don’t hit the same when it’s cloudy and cold, but we still gave it our all! Once we found our cabin, we hit the Lido deck for lunch, took a stroll around the ship, grabbed a couple of adult beverages and snagged a couple of pool loungers for people watching.

Norwegian’s selling point seems to focus on freestyle cruising. That means they give you more freedom from the OG of cruises. Instead of fancy dinner attire in the dining room at either the early seating or later seating, they have multiple dining rooms where you can go eat at anytime. While you can’t show up in board shorts and flips, you can wear pants and a t-shirt. However, I feel like most cruise lines offer that now, on Holland we went to dinner when we wanted to not at a certain time each night. Besides the two main dining rooms, there were also a handful of places to eat that were included. A buffet on the pool deck along with a poolside bar and grill. There was also an Asian restaurant and a 24 hour diner type place called O’Sheehans. It looked like a Hennessey’s but the food wasn’t great. The 24 hour part was exciting as we really needed that on our last cruise, but it turns out we didn’t need it on this one.

The view wasn’t bad.

These days the cruise lines have a few extra restaurants that you can dine at but for a price, some may have a fixed price and some are priced by entree. The Jewel, which was the name of our ship, had six to choose from. Italian, French, Sushi, Teppanyaki, a steakhouse and a Churrascaria. When we booked the trip, our package included all beverages $15.00 and under, wifi, one excursion and one alternative dining choice.

The captain pulled anchor at 4:00 and… we were off like a prom dress. Then the wind kicked in, so we bid a farewell to the pool deck and went to see how the casino was doing. Maybe we played some Roulette, and then we went to get ready for dinner and some dancing.

There were two dining rooms to choose from and honestly neither of them were anything grand and sadly, either was the food.

After dinner we chose to go to the Spinnaker lounge where the house band was playing top hits and then a DJ was going to count down the night. This would be the place we went to end each night, sadly it wasn’t anything great either.

We woke up to a new year but the weather was still in 2022.

Knowing that the sun was in our future, we spent the day playing Battle of the Sexes, Majority Rules and Bingo.

We tried the other dining room for dinner and this was a clear look into Norwegian’s “free-style” dining. Some guests did not care about what they wore, ordered or acted at the dining room. Classy is the opposite of what we saw. The night ended the same but we ordered room service and watched whatever we could find on the tv until we fell asleep.

We woke to sunny skies in Cabo San Lucas.

We were excited to head back to Medano beach and just lounge with food and drinks with our toes in the sand. That was all we wanted to do in each port. We walked around the marina, stopping for a couple of margaritas.

Then we walked through town to Medano beach seeking out The Sand Bar.

The beach was packed so we weren’t going to be able to lounge on the beach, the holiday brought ALL of the people. We were lucky enough to find a seat at the Sand Bar but then we proceeded to wait forever to be served. Sadly they were out of the octopus so we ordered a spicy shrimp ceviche, fish and shrimp tacos. Nothing was memorable aside from the view and the weather.

When we were finally able to wrap up our meal, we hit the street and got a cab to take us back to the main drag. We were going to pop into Cabo Wabo (don’t be judgy) for a drink but with three cruise ships in port, that was a HELL NO. So we asked around for a place with a good margarita and we were sent to The Monkey Bar.

This place was literally just an outside bar with about eight bar stools and a handful of tables. We chatted up a couple who just moved to Cabo and met a man who was a tour guide. We got his card for when we head back in June, hopefully he can hook us up with some fun activities.

The margs were pretty good.

When our glasses were empty we hopped on the tender and went back to the boat. We soaked up some sun at the pool, had dinner and then tried our luck at the martini bar.

Two days into the trip we knew that this cruise wasn’t going to live up to our Holland American cruise, sadly.

Christmas

Hello strangers, happy new year! I hope everyone had a great one and isn’t sick or drowning in rain…or both.

I left you with the best snickerdoodle cookie recipe and then ghosted you for the holidays.

Christmas eve had us cookie decorating, baking and prepping for Christmas day feasting.

The kitchen was busy, we made an eggnog cake, the ‘can’t have Christmas without sherry cake’, and creme de menthe brownies.

I also made this farro salad with apple, parmesan and arugula. You guys, this salad really is the best.

The girls had to wait until 7:00 AM on Christmas morning, how terrible of us huh?

Once we were cozied up and had coffee in hand, we started the festivities.

Halfway through the carnage we broke for breaky. and then we continued with the mayhem.

Out of everything Kaili opened, I think this was her favorite, sigh.

Her relationship with spicy chips is on another level.

Later that morning the family came over….. and with a baby black lab in tow.

This is Pluto, isn’t he the cutest?

Casey and Aileen were puppy sitting for a friend, and I can say that Pluto gave us all dog fever, well everyone except Shawna, pfft.

We spent the day opening more gifts, eating, playing games and saying “no” to the girls asking for a dog every other minute.

My dad and Casey put together Averi’s new Rainbow High doll house.

We played Right Left Center and Kaili won.

It was a great Christmas spent with all my people!

Those five days between Christmas and New Years is big question mark. No one knows what day it is or what they are supposed to be doing, it’s like existing in confusion.

I took the girls to Coronado for an afternoon.

We had a delicious lunch, enjoyed a walk along the water, more puppy love and some swimming.

The weather was perfect until the sun went down, and then it was time to head home and warm the bones.

Wake up, It’s December

This year we made reservations instead of recipes for Thanksgiving dinner…in Vegas. The next morning bright and early, we headed to the Las Vegas American Outlaws chapter bar to watch the US play England.

The vibe was phenomenal.

What happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas because we both got colds while we were there, the drive home was so much fun (insert sarcasm font).

About a week later we had our yearly visitor.

Everyone this is Tipsytoes Bellshire.

Casey and Aileen took the girls for a day of Coronado fun. They made ornaments and cookies with Santa, explored the Hotel Del and went out to lunch.

They came home happy and hyper, it was a fun holiDAY!

(Why didn’t anyone brush Averi’s hair that morning?)

I was unsure of how the World Cup would look during the month of December but I gotta say that I dig it. Waking up to soccer every morning has been wonderful.

We are about a week out from Christmas and I am happy to say that I think I’m ready for it.

Cold nights, toasty fires, eggnog espresso martini’s and the WC final match….not a bad December.

Cravings Broccoli Salad with Cashew Dressing

She had me at cashew dressing.

This recipe is out of Chrissy Teigen’s 3rd cookbook, Cravings All Together and it’s a solid five stars. Instead of the traditional mayo dressing with bacon, which is obviously delicious, we make a dressing out of cashews to dress the broccoli. And the dressing is the star of the dish, it’s so good. It’s sort of like a satay peanut sauce but not… actually now that I think about it, I am going to make this dressing to dip chicken in.

It’s a little sweet, a tad spicy, crunchy, nutty and creamy an easy and delicious salad that almost hits all of the five flavor elements.

Plus it’s dairy and gluten free if that’s your thing.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

2 medium heads of broccoli, trimmed and separated into florets (about 6 cups)

Kosher salt

1 cup chopped salted roasted cashews

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 Tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon finely diced jalapeño pepper (preferably red, with seeds)

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/4 cup thinly sliced

1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS

Place 1 1/4 cups of water in a 5 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli, cover with a tight fitting lid, and steam until broccoli turns bright green but is still tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain and then spread the broccoli in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. (Don’t place in an ice bath, that will create soggy broccoli) Season the broccoli with the salt.

While the broccoli is cooling, make the dressing. Combine 2/3 cup of the cashews with the 1/3 cup vinegar, sugar, jalapeńo, soy sauce and fish sauce in a blender until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute; add water by the dressing if it’s too thick.

Arrange the broccoli on a large plate or platter, then scatter the onions and cranberries on top. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the dressing over the broccoli, then scatter the remaining 1/3 cup cashews over the salad. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

A Little of This and That

Is the earth spinning faster than normal? Is that why time is going by at lightening speed? Wasn’t it just Halloween and now it’s Thanksgiving, I don’t understand.

This will be a catch up of whatever has happened in the last month. My memory has been failing me lately..I made a delicious curry paste from scratch and then made an even better chicken curry but I can’t for the life of me, find the recipe I used. It’s like, poof! Gone from my memory and apparently my search history too.

I do know that we took the girls trick or treating, I remember that. It was our first time since Covid and it was a lot more quiet out there than it used to be. Dark houses and the lack of kids could have been because it was a Monday, I don’t know why we can’t just dedicate the last Saturday of October to Halloween.

Like I mentioned, I made a fresh curry paste that was super flavorful and very spicy and then made a chicken curry. If I ever find the recipe, I will make it again surely. I think I served it with coconut rice but who really knows, not me.

We took the girls rollerskating with their friends and I made the most delicious Snickerdoodle sandwich cookies with cream cheese frosting. These, you guys, are ridiculously good.

Oh and we finally made it to Cutwater Spirits tasting room. The drinks were delicious, the food was just ok. Next time, because there will be a next time, there are still so many cocktails to try, we will just sit at the bar.

I also made Chrissy Teigen’s broccoli salad with cashew dressing, and it was SO good. I will post that next time.

And obviously we are watching ALL OF THE SOCCER! The World Cup is such an exciting time, especially since we finally made it back into the tournament! Big match Friday, where will you be watching our USMNT?

Spooky

We kicked off the spooky season with my first visit to Knott’s Scary Farm.

We went straight to an amazing looking roller coaster. The lights were all lit up and it looked like a boardwalk. The ride was so fun we did it multiple times. The downside, the exit took us into clown alley. Yes, I know that I am an adult, but I have an irrational fear of clowns…sigh, I am not proud. It took all that I had to not look them, even when they came running at me head on…Otherwise I would have cried.

We had a such good time, rides at night are just better. Parts of the park were very dark and creatures of all sorts would follow us around breathing down our necks and jump out at us. A lot of them had on shoes with metal taps so when they ran and slid at you, it made an awful sound..basically scaring the shit out of us at every corner we turned.

We were walking through a very dark area with fog machines clouding our path when we realized why so many people run in the wrong direction in horror films. You know how we scream at those idiots? Well, we were them…We had a hard time figuring out where we were and where we were headed. If was legit in danger, I would have just fell to the ground and succumbed to my death.

However, it was fun and definitely something to do again.

The girls had fun at the store trying on masks.

We hit the pumpkin patch and we made it easy on ourselves this year. We went to one in Temecula, gave the girls some money, grabbed a glass of wine, and hung out while they did all of the things. Petting zoo, panning for gems, snow cones and all of the other shit that is a waste of money.

We no longer buy our pumpkins at the actual patch which saves a lot of money. We just grab them at a local store on our way home, the girls don’t care.

Then we carve them and then they die. {the pumpkins, not the girls.}

Luckily we got a few photos of our artistry before they wilted 20 minutes later.

The next day we made Oreo bats and I realized that the girls are almost too old for these food crafts. They just want to eat the ingredients rather than create. However, I MADE THEM HAVE FUN!

These are super simple using only 3 ingredients.

Oreos, bite size Reese’s and candy eye balls. We used the oreo filling as the glue for the wings and the eyes. Pop them into the fridge for 10 minutes to set or don’t and just eat them right away.

I think they turned out cute!

The girls have their costumes and we are excited to take them out Monday night, and then go right home to inspect their candy! {aka take all the good stuff}

Just kidding, we will wait until they are in bed.

Finally…A Farro Recipe {Farro Salad}

Why have we been neglecting farro for so long? I have been using it a lot recently because we can’t get enough of it’s chewy texture and nutty flavor. This dish here though, is the best reason to cook some up.
I promise, you won’t be mad at it.

Farro Salad with Apple, Parmesan, Arugula & Fried Shallots

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup whole-grain farro

2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 bay leaf

1 Large shallot, very thinly sliced

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. dijon mustard

2 tsp. honey

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cup lightly packed arugula

1 apple, chopped

1/2 cup shaved fresh Parmesan

1/4 cup freshly chopped basil

1/4 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

In a medium saucepan, combine farro, vegetable broth, salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook, stirring occasionally, until farro is tender and no broth remains, about 30 minutes. When farro is cooked, transfer to a large glass bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, make the fried shallots: in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine oil and shallots. When the shallots begin to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove shallots from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper-towel lined plate and season with salt. Let oil cool.

Make the dressing: in a medium bowl, combine the cooled olive oil with vinegar, mustard, and honey and season with salt and pepper.

Assemble the salad: combine cooked farro, crispy shallots, arugula, apple, parmesan, basil, and pecans. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat.

*Recipe adapted from Delish 

Korean-Style Beef Tacos

This isn’t a new recipe. I think this cookbook is a handful of years old but it’s full of great recipes.

I made this for our weekly Taco Tuesday for us moms, however Averi was caught eating leftover steak off the cutting board.

*This recipe wants you to skewer the meat, I didn’t do that, it was just an extra unnecessary step for this occasion.

Ingredients

⅓ cup sugar

5 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce 

1 ½ tablespoons gochujang paste

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

12 ounces flank steak, sliced against the grain into thin strips

⅛ teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Quick Pickled Cabbage (recipe to follow)

3 tablespoons sliced green onions

1 fresh jalapeno, sliced for serving

Directions

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Add steak to bowl or combine all in a gallon size freezer bag; . Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning after 30 minutes. (Can hang out in the fridge for longer).

While the meat is marinating, make the pickled cabbage.

Pickled cabbage

3 cups chopped/shredded napa cabbage

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup rice vinegar

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Teaspoons gochujang paste

Combine 3 cups of shredded napa cabbage in a bowl with the garlic. Bring vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and gochujang to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cabbage; toss. Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving.

Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Remove steak from marinade, and discard marinade. Grill the slices of meat, 2 minutes per side.

(Thread steak onto 8 (8-inch) skewers; sprinkle with salt. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness).

Grill tortillas 30 seconds on each side or until lightly charred; keep warm.

Place tortillas on plate, and divide steak evenly among tortillas. Divide the Quick Pickled Cabbage evenly among tacos; sprinkle with onions and jalapenos.

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.

BTS

No, that’s not the BTS that the girls love, it’s the BTS us parents love.

Back to school!

I only bring this up because we had BTSN on our calendar and all I heard was ” if you take off the N, you have BTS” followed by giggles.

We have two 6th graders and a 3rd grader (gasps)!

6th grade down here in San Diego is also known as middle school which still gives me heart palpitations.

I know I know, boy have things changed. I mean sixth grade vs. kinder really is something. Something as in, we as moms had wayyyy more power over their looks back then, sigh.

Averi is at the same school but has a new building, and she was SO excited when we got to school and found out that her bestie was in her class.

They each had BFF bracelets for each other even after a summer of no contact. SO damn sweet.

The weather has been so ridiculously hot that almost all outdoor activities were canceled or postponed. I know if you don’t live here you’re rolling your eyes, that’s ok. Roll away, it’s hot AF for us San Diegan’s, we can’t cope in extreme weather.

However, we did brave the heat and attended the Family Fun Day at the Del Mar Races. My parents met me and the girls for the afternoon, luckily those clouds and a slight breeze saved us from overheating.

I think the girls enjoyed themselves, pretty sure everyone but Kaili and I won some money.

Easing back into the school time swing. Hopefully I will have a new recipe to share sooner than later. It’s definitely trial by error right now.