Cooking Cookies with the Kiddo

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Earrings: vintage | Sweater: J. Crew, old color, similar | Necklace: came in a Stitch Fix box | Jeans: Mother, old, love this and this | Nail polish: Essie Forever Yummy (#488)

Cooking cookies with a toddler is a special kind of adventure full of fun, excitement, and a few messes. My little man’s favorite part of cooking cookies? Whirling the ingredients. In case you aren’t sure what this means, whirling = stirring in his dialect. Somehow we managed to whirl and bake the cookies, clean the kitchen, and eat a couple of the yummy treats without spilling on our clothes – though the risk was totally worth it! This particular recipe is a family favorite – banana, oatmeal, chocolate chip – and have never let me down. I added extra banana this time so the cooking time was a bit longer than usual. All in all, they were the perfect treat for a long weekend.

Spring Garden

The idea of having a beautiful garden lush with edible and non-edible treats is both exciting and frightening. I have always had pots of herbs so figured, how hard could it be? Tell that to the fig tree my husband rescued from near death at our old place in Virginia. It turns out that even low maintenance plants need at least a little TLC.

Fast forward a few years and we are back in California. This is supposedly the land of “you can grow anything” so I figure if I can’t raise a decent garden here, I might have to toss in the towel.

A few hours of research and a couple spreadsheets later, I have an extensive 4-bed multi-pot plan for a full-fledged feed-the-family-for-months garden plan. Reigning in the urban garden dream, I settle for starting with one raised bed.

The hubby built this gorgeous bed for me and filled it full of beautiful dirt that my research revealed to be the perfect combination of soil and nutrients for sustaining plant life in a raised bed. The little man and I plant lettuce, onions, parsley, basil, mint, jalapenos, poblanos, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and strawberries.

Garden Bed

Standing back to admire the fruits of my labor, I realize how anticlimactic the act of gardening is. If you require instant gratification, this is not the hobby for you. Every morning the little man and I head out to the back yard and give our precious plants a drink. I think I’m doing great until I notice that my basil (normally a no-brainer plant for me) is looking a little sad and my parsley has seen much, much better days. As if that wasn’t enough, the strawberry plants aren’t sprawling like the website said and 1/4 of their leaves are brown.

Depressed but undeterred, I continue watering my little garden. Like a completely sane and normal person, I also begin talking to them. I figure if nothing else works, maybe I can talk them into growing – I try positive reinforcement: “That’s a good plant. Keep on growing.” which is quickly replaced with desperation and begging, “just give me 1 freaking tomato!” Needless to say, I was beginning to think that tossing in the towel and turning the darn thing into a sandbox might be a better use of the wooden box.

On day one billion and three (that might be a small exaggeration, but it is an accurate description of how I felt), I decide to beg one last time.

“Aaaaaahhhhh! A tomato!”

Finally, after all that waiting, mother nature provided a small spark of hope that all may not be lost.

Tomato

I bring my little man over and we marvel at the tiny little green bulb sprouting from the end of a branch. I honestly don’t know who was more excited – me or my toddler.

To add fuel to my excited fire, I notice … more tomatoes! There’s probably 6 or 7 already sprouting and I can tell that another 20+ are going to start popping any day now.

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Walking around, it dawns on me that the lettuce plants have tripled in size. Aren’t they gorgeous?!

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And check out my strawberries! At the rate I’m going, we’re going to have an awesome salad headed our way.

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Sadly, my cucumber and eggplant plants aren’t giving me quite as promising vibes. So, I’ll continue to talk and beg and water in the hopes that they will eventually send their nutritious goodness my way. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the pepper plants share some of their fruit with our home.

Given this awesome progress, I have decided to have the hubby build another raised garden bed for me this weekend. At 8 months preggers, if I don’t get this thing going now, I’m not sure when it’ll happen.

Stay tuned for progress updates – you know, when I actually have something edible.

In the meantime, if you want a bucket, or 6, of lemons, let me know. We have two lemon trees that even my off-green thumb can’t slow down!

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5 Things: September 17

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ONE: A/C

You know those in-window a/c units? The ones that are designed to be used with windows that open / close vertically? I’ve always thought they were so unattractive and bulky; definitely not something I had any intention of using in my home. Well, the recent Texas-style weather we’ve been experiencing in SoCal has me singing a different tune. Our hot and humid master bedroom was the coolest place in the house so the hubby and I shared it with our furnace of a dog and our human torch son. Nobody got any sleep. So, when we stumbled into ownership of one of these ugly window a/c units I nearly hugged the beast. For the next few days, we moved it from the living room in the morning to the bedroom in the afternoon basking in the cool relief it provided. Talk about a fantastic night’s sleep. It doesn’t fit pefectly in our windows though, so a little jimmy-rigging on the part of the hubby led to this super classy get up. It may be ugly, but this is one happy mama (just don’t show me the electric bill for the month!).

Window AC

TWO: ALMA MATER & A FANTASTIC SPEAKER

On Tuesday, the hubby watched the little man in the evening so I could see Nolan Bushnell speak at my alma mater (Loyola Marymount University) as part of the Hilton Distinguished Entrepreneur Lecture Series. Nolan immediately connected to the audience with his humor, honesty, and story-telling. The father of the video game industry, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, and tech inventor, he had no shortage of interesting and inspiring stories of success and failure. The target audience of undergraduate entrepreneurship majors responded to his lecture with cheers and applause more akin to a sporting event; they were obviously impressed – and so was I.

THREE: RAIN

Self-explanatory. Of course, it would rain on the day the hubby and I had scheduled for moving a bunch of stuff to our new place, but I’ll take it. We have one more big day of moving planned hoping for rain on all days except that one. Did anyone else notice how clear and fresh the air has been since the rain blew through?

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FOUR: TASTE OF FALL

The cool down of the last couple evenings gave us L.A. residents a taste of the fall to come. I couldn’t be more excited! I love summer – the heat, the sun, the long days, the early rising of the sun – but, I am ready for butternut squash, chili, boots, scarves, sweaters, hot cocoa, and evenings curled up by the fire with a great book and a cup of hot tea.

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This homemade latte screams fall and I can’t wait to curl up with one soon.

FIVE: THE POOL

The heat has brought a whole host of problems to the residents of SoCal and beyond, but looking at the positive side, a huge benefit of it has been the ability to jump in the pool and not be freezing despite less than ideal water temperatures. The little man has finally overcome the “pool phobia” he developed over the last year and is now happily jumping into the pool, climbing out, and repeating the process until I am blue covered in goose pimples. But his laugh and the way he holds on tight to my neck after jumping in to me, make every single freezing moment worth it.

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5 Things: September 11

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This week has been brutally hot leading to sleepless nights and pounding headaches. But hidden in among the side affects of this Texas-style heat in SoCal were positive moments.

ONE: COWS

The cows. Anyone who knows us, or has read the last few posts, knows that my little man is in an intense cow phase right now. …

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Jack Creek Farms

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Not to be confused with the nearby winery, Jack Creek Cellars (which, if you’re 21+, you should definitely check out), Jack Creek Farms is my little man’s paradise. Major bonus points for it also being parent-friendly. In addition to his lifelong love of running, climbing, throwing, and kicking, the little man has a new addiction, well two actually: cows and big trucks….

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Wineries of Paso: Linne Calodo

Oak Pass Grape Vines

Some wineries are all about the wine, some about price, others value prestige or exclusiveness, while yet others tout their extensive tasting list. There are boutique wineries with tasting by reservation only, large wineries catering to groups and wine novices. Whether you enjoy big crowds or intimate affairs, sophisticated venues or family-friendly farms, Paso Robles has something for everyone. It’s inclusive air and lack of pretentiousness endears it to me all the more….

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Paso Robles 2015

Sunrise

So Cal is not without its flaws. But summer in So Cal is a veritable buffet of activities. The times I have found myself saying, “there’s nothing to do” were really my way of saying, “I’m lazy and don’t’ feel like doing anything but don’t want to admit it so I’ll blame it on someone else.”

I mean, where else can you go for a sunrise surf, hit the slopes by lunch, and be home for dinner, should you be so inclined? …

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5 Things: May 15

5 Things_Intro Image_largerYou know those weeks where nothing super exciting happens and you don’t have plans every night? No? Me neither. That’s probably why this past weekend’s lack of planned engagements and requirements was so special – the perfect way to spend Mother’s Day. The hubby and our little man just hung out at the house, cooked, played at the park, walked the dog, and drank some great wine (the little man stuck with his milk – but tells me it was great). The combination of a relaxing weekend, gorgeous sunny skies, and some much needed rain, reminded me that opposites attract and one isn’t necessarily better than the other.

  1. All the rain coming down in Austin, TX makes my heart happy. With the drought keeping the city parched – the lakes were at 34% full at the start of the year – it is great to see it finally getting some much-needed moisture. Hopefully the lakes will be full by the time we get back! Craving lake time and wakeboarding.
  1. Staying on the rain theme, the rainfall in Cali has been a blessing. The gloomy weather doesn’t exactly represent spring, but I’ll take whatever moisture Mother Nature is willing to share (even if it means a couple days of fall clothes mid-spring.)
  1. I went to a much-needed and really awesome networking event for entrepreneurs in Santa Monica. It’s amazing how talking to people about their ideas is just as inspiring and invigorating as chatting about yours. Plus, the extrovert in me needed the conversation!
  1. We busted out a bottle of wine that had been driven from CA to VA to TX back to CA (2002 J. Lohr Carol’s Vineyard Cab Sav). With that much travel – all in unconditioned space in the back of a Uhaul – we didn’t have high hopes. Much to my surprise, it was really smooth and delicious. That’s a pretty good testament to the quality of the grapes and final product of the wineries in Paso Robles.
  1. My aunt is graduating from her MBA program this weekend! So freakin’ proud of her and cannot wait to celebrate with her on Saturday. I’m so grateful we get to be a part of these family events and milestones. It wasn’t possible until our move back to SoCal.
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A gorgeous image of a full Lake Travis pre-drought.

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Our failure at bedazzling a wine glass turned into a super fun pomegranate martini.