Saturday, November 30, 2013
Ken and the little boys and I took a little Palm Springs trip before Thanksgiving. What a great time to visit Palm Springs! We usually visit in the summer when it is hot. The desert was gorgeous in cooler temps, though. Much less threatening. I felt that I could notice the beauty so much more this time (although it's fun visiting in the heat too--I like both).
We got a Travel Zoo "deal" on a fancy resort. I'd always thought we can't affort Palm Springs in the fall or winter at all because the prices are so much higher, but the Travel Zoo deal made it possible. My dad happened to point it out to me and on an impulse I booked the trip. I'm so glad we did! It was so much fun. In addition to swimming and water-sliding and lazy river-ing at the hotel, we went to a fun children's museum and also rode the Palm Springs aerial tramway up to Mount San Jacinto to the snow. That aerial tramway is pure magic. I highly recommend it.
The resort we stayed at is this one. We're dying to go back next year--I hope they run the special again.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Children's Museum in Rancho Mirage. This museum was gorgeous and so wonderfully open, airy, and uncrowded.
Cabazon Dinosaurs--it's kind of cheesy but the boys loved it. I'm glad we stopped.
The trip did not go entirely smoothly--Rainer woke up after midnight the first night with bad vomiting and gastrointestinal issues. We lost half a day to that, but miraculously he was able to be up and about by afternoon and enjoyed the museum. Obviously we were furiously handwashing the rest of the trip.
I'm so happy we had some true vacation time together. Now the holidays are coming fast and furious. I'm hoping to be super organized this year and keep things extremely simple.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Sorry to be gone for so long. Lately, blogging falls to the absolute bottom of my priority list. But I wanted to acknowledge Thanksgiving today and take a moment to be thankful! Do you guys keep a thankfulness journal? I was doing it for a little while last year, and I want to get back to it. It feels good. Also, I guess studies have shown that it does good things for you--maybe reduces stress--which I could certainly use. So I think I'm going to start that up again, for a few minutes a day.
What are you up to today? We are going to my parents this afternoon for dinner and this morning I am cooking. I'm making two pies, sweet potato casserole, and green bean casserole.
Today I am feeling thankful for
:: my loved ones! Ken, the boys, my grown up children, my parents, my friends. Hooray for human connection and love. It is the most important thing in life and I am SO grateful for my people.
:: medical insurance. We have put ours through a workout this year--lots of medical stuff I haven't blogged about. I am SO grateful for our good insurance.
:: my job. I'm so lucky to have a good job and work with good people and be at my present school site.
:: having money to pay the bills.
:: sweet little boy cuddles. I'm so lucky to get these every day!
:: living where we live. For the longest time I resisted Southern California. Now I see how lucky we are to live here.
:: all our little day trips and longer adventures. We just got back from a mini-vacation to Palm Springs--Ken, me, and the little boys. So fun! We have so many adventures and so much beauty right outside our back door--I love this.
:: morning coffee, my commute, daily rituals, Tuesday night pizza, date night with Ken, movies, the internet, electronic gadgets, books, vitamins, clothes and shoes and makeup and jewelery, green grass and trees, water, podcasts, science and figuring things out, crayons and coloring with the kids, Frog Juice and other games, folding laundry and watching old Nigella episodes, the beach, little boys reading on the couch, Facetime, cookbooks, pretty photography, seasons, weather, rain (rare here), cupcakes, Saturday morning yoga class, pool membership, and a lot more I'm not thinking of here.
Monday, November 11, 2013
We took a little day trip to Griffith Park on Saturday. You guys, it was such a fun adventure! I can't believe we'd never gone before. Our aim was to visit the observatory, but we discovered there is so much more. Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America--nearly six times as big as Central Park in New York and four times as big as Golden Gate park in San Francisco. It contains not only Griffith Observatory, but also an old carousel built in 1926, a little train, pony rides, the LA Zoo, the Autry Museum, the Greek Theater, the Hollywood sign, Travel Town, and many hiking trails and grassy fields. I was totally geeking out on all the beauty and largeness of it all. It is also in a very cool old neighborhood with lovely houses and architecture.
The observatory is a spectacular old building. The museum is free and very interesting and engaging. The planetarium show was stunning. We all loved it. Afterwards we ate lunch at the cafe and enjoyed the view (although it was hazy of course--it is LA after all!).
After the observatory we decided to check out the carousel (so old! so lovely!) and the train ride. We had so much fun at all these attractions. We're dying to go back for a hike and lunch at The Trails and maybe Travel Town. Who knows? There is so much fun to be had.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Our weekend included some pretty fun stuff: yoga class (for me), a movie and date night (sushi!), a trip to farmer's market, the natural history museum, and Crushcakes. Big hooray for weekends. They are so important to me. SO happy that we have a holiday weekend coming up! Do you have plans for the 3-day weekend? We do not, but will enjoy having an extra day so much.
We saw "Last Vegas" Saturday night. What a sweet movie! I highly recommend it. I know it only got 2 stars from the critics, but I found it sweet and funny. Ken and I were both freaking out about how good Mary Steenburgen looks at age 60! And I loved the way they styled her. I want to see About Time next.
Monday, November 4, 2013
I'm honestly not a big Halloween person, so I'm thrilled to make it to November, as we now have. Nonetheless, the boys had a great time and were especially thrilled that big brother Jacob joined us for the evening. The boys these last few years have just painted their faces or gotten scary masks--no more cute costumes around here, sadly. I've definitely thrown in the towel on that long ago. The fancy cookies above were brought over by the neighbors (there are still a couple of our b-day cookies mixed in--I'm sure you can tell which is which!).
We had a wholesome dinner before heading out for trick-or-treating. The way we handled the candy was to let them eat their fill on Halloween night and save out two pieces for later. The rest was set out for the Green Pumpkin who exchanged it for the fabulous books seen above.
It was a sweet evening and we ended with an impromptu dance party, which was maybe the highlight. We were totally cranking the music and swishing playsilks around! How was your Halloween?
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Last spring I got really burnt out after a long string of weekends that lacked a proper date night. I want and need some true downtime every weekend, and when I don't get it I get cranky! Since that time I've been more aware of trying to make date night happen every weekend if we can. We are fortunate to have my parents close by and especially lucky that they love to watch the boys and the boys love to go to their grandparents. What a huge blessing that is!
Do you like to go to the movies? I always have, but I've never really gone consistently. Lately, though, we've been trying to go to dinner and a movie every date night. You guys, it has been so fun! There is something about seeing a movie on a big screen that is special and exciting. And I think being entertained together as a couple is also very bonding. I love talking about the movie with Ken and having something to ponder over the next few days.
Here is what we have seen lately:
:: Thanks for Sharing. It's a movie about sex addiction. I loved all the "addict" stuff and getting to see into that world of meetings and 12 step programs. Great clothes & set design too. Loved this.
:: Enough Said. So much to think about here--about relationships and how women act. Julia Louis Dreyfus is so great.
:: Gravity. Stunning! And not what I expected. I've loved Sandra Bullock ever since Practical Magic.
:: Don Jon. Another sex addict movie! But different than the other one. I loved this one too, and the ending surprised me.
:: Rush. 70's car racing drama! Love love loved all the period details, the stunning visuals, and the exciting true story. Don't miss this! Hurry before it leaves theaters. I felt so lucky that we just happened onto it at the dollar theater.
Usually I go into these knowing next to nothing about the movie, which is how I like it. Ken scans the reviews to see what is good. I like to see things that are uplifting--I don't like disturbing, dark or violent.
Do you like going to the movies? What have you seen lately?
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I continue to be super interested in figuring out family dinner. My goal is to develop a core of simple, healthy, homemade, no-special-ingredient, tasty dinners that are liked by all of us (or at least each of us likes some part of it). Here are five dinners that I consider pretty tried and true by now.
:: stuffed peppers. I love these! The boys don't eat the actual peppers but will eat the filling (sort of--not Dieter so much). Funny anecdote: on the night I was making these particular peppers I cut myself on the lid of a can of tomato sauce and had to go to the hospital for stitches! Major bummer, but Ken finished the dish for me, so we still got to enjoy them when I got back.
:: chicken with cucumber-yogurt sauce. So easy and fresh tasting. We love this.
:: meatball stroganoff. So tasty! From Everyday Food.
:: spatchcocked chicken with chickpeas (here). I do this a bit differently than the recipe--the chickens are so large these days, it takes longer to cook than the recipe states. I do 20 minutes, then add the chickpeas, and do 20 more minutes. This is so tasty with cilantro and lime as the recipe suggests, but I also want to try serving it with mango chutney.
:: and finally, Moroccan chicken stew. Everyone loves this and it is so quick and easy. I buy a bag of sweet potatoes and a box of whole wheat couscous at Trader Joe's and they come out perfectly even to make this three times. After the three times (spaced a few weeks apart) I retire the recipe for awhile. I love doing it this way because I hate having ingredients left over. I find I won't use them if they are just randomly in the pantry, so I avoid that now. I love having a clean, simple pantry.
It is really easy to find organic ground beef and organic chicken at Trader Joe's so that is what I do. We are fairly meat-centric these days.
It is starting to feel fallish around here and I'm getting excited about making cool weather fare, chilis, stews, soups, and casseroles. Yay!
What are you loving for dinner lately?
Monday, October 28, 2013
Thanks so much for all your kind birthday wishes for Rainer. It's hard to believe my baby is seven!
On Sunday we had a fun trip to the pumpkin patch. We've been going to Faulkner Farms for several years now. (An early trip documented here). This day was beautiful, with a cool breeze blowing through. We could not have asked for a nicer day. The boys loved running through the hay maze over and over, especially Rainer. We mostly sat and watched the boys play, which was awesome. I love seeing them develop into little independent people. They're so "free-range" these days. I love it.
We also took a hay ride and got kettle corn and delicious caramel apples. I hadn't had a caramel apple for years--probably decades. The flavor of tart juicy apple with caramel and tons of peanuts was amazing. I'm basically still obsessing over it, a day later. What is your favorite fall treat?