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Sep 30, 2012

31 Days of Cheap & Chic

I love a good challenge but when I read this post by The Nester on Friday I thought maybe I'll try it next year because it sounded too technically confusing and a lot of work!  
Then I started thinking about it... which led to me asking a few really smart chicks  (thank you Melissa of MomComm and Susan of This Happy Mom!) how the technical part works, and then calling my amazing graphic artist Cyrani and ask her if she could whip something up in an hour or two (thanks Cyrani!) and it all fell together.  I'm a little scared because I can barely handle two posts a week, but I will give it a try.  I think one of my talents is making inexpensive clothes, furniture, you name it, look really stylish.

There will be lots of other bloggers doing the challenge and you can check out their links for their 31 days of ? right here


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Sep 27, 2012

How I Get My Picky Eaters to Eat Veggies!

I'll admit it; I don't particularly like cooking dinner because one of my kids will have a complaint about something I make.  I do love to cook for people who enjoy eating good food but that doesn't happen too often.  Usually what happens at dinnertime is one kid will hate (I know it's a strong word, but that's what they say) a certain vegetable and the other kid will love it.  I have found a way to make everyone happy at dinner (well most of the time) and make all the veggies I love.  

  Since soccer practice got moved to the two nights I work, now our family can sit down and eat two meals together during the weekdays, Yay!  
Here's what I do... are you ready?  I make at least two or three or sometimes four veggies for dinner depending on what I have in the fridge.  The kids will have to like at least a few of the veggies I cook.  I usually make just a little of each one and I almost always just put a little olive oil and sea salt on them and bake them on a cookie sheet.  They always come out delicious, if I don't say so myself.  

On Monday I wanted to try to bake a whole butternut squash because they looked so good at the store.  All you do is cut the butternut squash in half (actually that part was not very easy for me) then clean out all the seeds.

Next, I put about a tablespoon of butter on each squash but I later realized that it was a little too much butter so next time I will use less. Then I sprinkled on a tablespoon of brown sugar on each squash and a little sea salt and pepper.  Yum, sweet and savory!  
My friend told me that next time I should try putting some real maple syrup on them and then I wouldn't have the extra calories of butter and wouldn't have to use sugar.  I'll try it next time and let you know how it taste.  


Now, I googled how long I should bake it for and it said for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.


Wrong answer!  These beauties took a little over an hour till they were easy to scoop out with a spoon.  They were definitely worth the wait.

Since Emma hates squash because of the texture (the girl even hates pumpkin pie and whip cream) I made her and Alex's favorite... onions!  I know, go figure, I just tried it on a whim and they loved them ever since.  Now I make onions a few times a week.  
I usually use those purple onions but I saw these Hawaiian Sweet Onions at Trader Joe's and tried them too.  


You will need some olive oil and sea salt.  Since I do most of my vegetables this way I bought one of these Misto things.  Let me tell you it is the greatest thing ever.  I used to toss my vegetables in olive oil but sometimes I would use too much.  With the Misto I can just give them a light spray.  You just pour your own olive oil into the Misto and pump the top and spray.  I got my here.


Slice your onions as thin as you can.  Put some sunglasses on if you start to cry, I do.  


 Spray the cookie sheet with olive oil or pour it on, then lay the onions on it and spray them with olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt on them.  If you don't have the Misto, just toss the onions with olive oil, they will break apart, but that's all right.  Try to lay them in a single layer on the cookie sheet.  Bake them at 350 for around fifteen minutes.  Keep an eye on them because the skinny ones will brown fast.   



Now I wish I had an after picture of the onions but we are all so hungry that I forgot to take the picture!  I promise they looked good and we ate them all up.  I did have a lot of left over squash so I took some to work for lunch the next day and froze the rest for another dinner. 

I do this same technique with asparagus, chopped kale (kale chips are delicious, that will be another post), brussels sprouts (which I hated until I made them this way, now I love them), bell peppers and sometimes I buy the bag of pre-cubed butternut squash at Trader Joe's and throw them on a cookie sheet.   

What are your favorite ways to cook vegetables?





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Sep 24, 2012

How I Style My Hair in Less than Ten Minutes!


 When I was at my friend Deidre's house this summer I was noticing she takes a long time to do her hair.  There were a lot of hot tools going on; blow dryer, curling brushes and it was over 100 degrees outside.  Deidre always likes how I style my hair and I told her she could have her hair look just like mine in way less time.  She said she saw my photo tutorial and tried it but her hair didn't turn out too good so I had to take her in the bathroom and show her how it's done. 

me, d and the hubs
See, doesn't our hair look the same?  Ready for a night out on the town!  Um, I think one of the kids took this photo so please excuse how blurry it is.  

Here it is, my video on how I style my hair in less than ten minutes.  Sorry about my phone dinging, I'll try to remember to turn it off next time.

Deidre and all you other long haired girls, this one's for you!
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Sep 18, 2012

How to Trim Your Bangs

I know... it's hard to resist.  You're getting ready in the morning and your bangs are poking you in the eye, so you grab your scissors and start cutting.  Wait!  I'll show you how easy it is to trim your own bangs so I won't have to fix them later.  Let me know how they turn out.




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Sep 12, 2012

Beautiful Big Sur, California



 I've driven through Big Sur before, but I have never really stopped and looked at all the beautiful beaches.  I made a list of the places I wanted to see and we discovered some new places along the way.  


Bixby Creek Bridge




We stopped at Nepenthe restaurant and had drinks and appetizers out on the beautiful patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  While I was shopping at The Phoenix Shop, one of the locals asked if we were headed north or south.  When I told him south he gave me the local Big Sur paper with a map of all the parks and beaches to stop and see along the coast.  He circled the ones he thought we had to see.  The people in Big Sur are so nice and laid back.  



We had to stop at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and see the Mc Way Falls.  


The tunnel to the falls.

Beautiful Mc Way Falls, (I thought it would be a lot bigger too, but it was still beautiful)

Look at that coastline!

Bluebird

We stopped at Willow Creek because the nice man at Nepenthe said the kids would like it and the beach has Jade.  



Rob and Emma looking for Jade

The kids skipping rocks on the beach.

Emma found a crab?



 Our last stop was to see the Elephant Seals at the Elephant Seal Rookery.




Look how close they are.
The kids were cracking up at how much effort it took for the seals to move a few feet.




Now, the long drive back home.

This was an amazing ten days; I wish we could have done it in two weeks.  We saw so much beauty along the west coast.  My family spent 7 days in our car together, talking, laughing, and listening to music and a book we downloaded on our iPhone.  Even though my kids would bicker and sometimes complain, I will miss these days of traveling together.  
I wouldn't trade it for the world!




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Sep 9, 2012

Have You Seen a Jellyfish?

My son Alex is a sophomore in high school and is determined to go to a really, good college.  Since we were driving down through San Francisco I decided we should take a tour at Stanford University.  I wish we could have toured a few other colleges in that area but I was on a tight schedule and we had to get to the Monterey aquarium by at least three o'clock.
  
Stanford has such a beautiful campus.  We went on a tour, that was lead by one of the students, which lasted about 2 hours.  Alex loved the school.  There's just one problem, out of the over 36,000 applications Stanford gets; only 2427 got admitted this year!  Yikes!

Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge

Stanford University





Our next stop was the Monterey Aquarium.  

Emma checking out the Jellyfish...


and petting the stingrays.




Checking out the sharks.
Jimi Hendrix

The jellyfish exhibit.



The view from the Monterey Aquarium.  

Next stop, Big Sur.



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Sep 7, 2012

Listening to The XX

Just bought my tickets to see The XX next month.  They just released their new album COEXIST.  You can listen to it here on this link.
Enjoy!



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Sep 3, 2012

Road Trip Through the Redwoods



 I was a little ambitious when I was planning our 10-day road trip from Los Angeles to Portland and back home.  I wasn't sure when I would be able to do this road trip again and I really wanted the kids to see as much as they could.  We left Portland on a Tuesday and had to be back home by Friday night (Emma had a soccer tournament on Saturday).  
View from the Sea Lion Caves
Our first stop was the Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon.  Unfortunately, the elevator wasn't working so we couldn't go down into the cave but we did see a lot of Sea Lions.    



We drove another three hours to Brookings, Oregon and stayed at the Best Western Plus Beachfront Inn.  Since we would only be sleeping at the hotels I didn't want to spend money staying at nice hotels.  I did, however, want to eat good food so I researched the restaurants in the towns we would be staying in.  I looked on Yelp and researched where to eat.  We ended up eating at the Superfly Martini Bar that was very kid friendly and had great food and martinis.  I think it was in a converted Taco Bell building. 


View from our deck at the Best Western Beachfront Inn


The next day we headed out for the Redwood National Forrest.  We stopped at all the different viewpoints and trails that looked interesting to us.  

We saw a trail along the road that leads us out to this beautiful beach.  




Emma found some starfish.


You can see such beautiful beaches and views driving on Highway 1.  


We had fun climbing over all the rocks.







Emma and Jake in front of a fallen tree.




The views you will see driving through the Redwoods are amazing!





Next stop was Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California.  We arrived there really late in the evening because we spent the whole day in the Redwoods.  
The sand at Glass Beach

We even saw some seals playing in the ocean.

After exploring Glass Beach we went and had dinner at North Coast Brewing Company.  It was so nice to relax and have a great meal and try out some of the beers they brew.  After our  long day, we headed to our hotel, the  Little River Inn
Wow, did we have a fun day! 

Next stop Monterey! 
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