wan-na find something?

Monday, November 30, 2009

bilingual bean

so awesome. i taught her to count from one to ten in tagalog:

i try to speak to her in the tongue of my homeland as often as i can, but i forget. i've gotta get on the ball so she can be bilingual and we can talk shit whenever we want to when she gets older. haha! okay, there are other benefits, i know.

oh, and the teen and i are constantly amused whenever we're out on the road, driving along happily, when out of nowhere the bean will point and shout "hi, fuck!"

of course, she's spotted a truck and wants to make sure we haven't missed it. and that applies to lots of other situations, like when we're getting ready on a monday morning and she hears the trash being picked up. "mommmmmyyyyy! frash fuck! see 'em?"

an emergency vehicle speeds past our apartment: "fire fuck! fire fuck! noise! fire fuck! bye, fuck!"

the teen and i react in an appropriately mature manner every time - anything from a smirk to full-on cackling. it's just so freaking funny. the hub is always quick to correct her: "truck, bean. it's a TR-uck." and she'll smile sweetly and say "fuck. fuuuuck!"

that's my girl.

Friday, November 27, 2009

baconizing thanksgiving

thanksgiving day dawned bright and sunny, a beautiful day for sharing with family.

having offered to help with the big meal, i crawled out of our warm bed, leaving the hub and the bean snoozing peacefully, to head over to the grandparents' house and git 'er done. i lamented the fact that i'd forgotten to make coffee the night before and got to the house to find the menfolk on yard duty and the women cleaning house. i made my way into the kitchen to get started, still blurry-eyed and half asleep.

MIL and i had gone to trader joe's to pick up the turkey - a big ass almost-20-pound bird. and, in true wan style, i'd managed to talk our head chef, brother wan, into letting me try a new recipe - for bacon-wrapped turkey. oh, yes.

of course, the other main ingredient:

i took the wrapper off of that bird and laid her out on a cutting board to check 'er out.

following the recipe, i gingerly began separating the skin from the flesh. it was totally bizarre, and i felt really weird as i kept working. kind of like i was violating the poor thing in some way. ew.

i wasn't able to take pictures of the process, but here's what it looked like when i was finally done. i'd carefully placed strips of bacon between the skin and the meat, patted the skin back into place, and then wrapped the whole top of the turkey with the rest of the bacon. i thought it would look to do a basketweave with the strips. is this not just ridiculously amazing?

FIL and brother wan went on a quick grocery store run and came back not only with the needed ingredients, but a few of these:

oh, i was so grateful. it helped my mood considerably. and i was also perked up by the fact that my hands still smelled enticingly like smoky bacon, even after i'd already washed up with hand soap several times.

brother wan added to the decadence of our main course by tossing a couple of sticks of butter into the cavity of the turkey, along with slicing some up and placing them all around it. he added chopped onions and fresh sage to the cavity (which, of course, also had bacon strips inside), wedged some onion in around the turkey, and sprinkled more sage on top. finally, she was ready to go into the oven. i just hoped the bacon wouldn't shrink too much and ruin the fabulous weave i'd worked so hard on.

we spent a little time chatting about the rest of the meal prep as we sipped our coffees, and then everyone went in different directions as we went to get ourselves ready for the rest of the day. i headed home to find the hub giving the bean a bath, while the teen was freshly showered and hunting through both of our closets for something to wear.

by then, the bean was drowsy and ready for a nap. the hub took her to drive around in the car and fall asleep, and the teen and i finished getting ready and went back over to the grandparents'. after FIL told me "the bacon burnt to a crisp and the whole thing's ruined, we're having ham" with a completely straight face, i yanked open the oven door to check on the turkey's progress.

"hardy har har," i said. oh, FIL, always the jokester.

less than an hour later, we poked the turkey with a meat thermometer to test it and found that it was done. brother wan did the honors of pulling it out of the oven, and we all "ooh"d and "aah"d. pretty, yes?

he carefully picked it up and out of the pan and transferred it to a platter:

and we were left with a crapload of pan drippings to strain and thicken for the gravy. with all that butter and bacon fat, i couldn't wait to sample the deliciousness of all that flavor.

grandma had decorated the table with cute little pilgrims (note the ginormous costco-sized vat of nutella, all ready to be spread on dinner rolls).

with the turkey and all of our side dishes finally in place, the table was complete and ready for us to dig in. we were about an hour behind schedule, which only gave us roughly half an hour before i had to take the teen to meet up with her dad for his part of the thanksgiving holiday.

after a bit of debate as to who got the honor of carving the turkey, we said grace and then got crackin' on filling our bellies.

i got to eat about half of my dinner before hopping in the car and fighting traffic to take the teen to the dropoff spot. i wasn't too sad, knowing i'd get to pick her up again the next day for my regularly scheduled week with her.

when i got back, the table was cleared and my plate was waiting for me in the microwave. i stuffed myself silly and took my plate to the sink. the half-eaten turkey carcass was sitting on the counter, waiting to be put out of its misery.

i gotta say, with as much bacon as we'd used in that bird, it didn't really make the meat taste like bacon. instead, it gave it a bit of that smoky flavor and kept it super moist (a word that i usually think is rather abhorrent, but is okay when used as a food term). brother wan and i got a lot of compliments on how awesome it came out, and that gravy was spectacular. it was probably the best tasting turkey i've ever eaten. made me quite happy.

finally, FIL took pity on the carcass and started carving it up to put in ziploc bags. that meat was going to make for some fabulous sandwiches later.

the bean, spent from the day, looked on while snuggling under a blanket on the couch.

bored, she got up to request a cookie and some milk. "picnic!" she exclaimed as she made herself comfy on the floor.

and then the resulting sugar rush led her to run around the house on her tiptoes.

we'd turned to our friend marie to supply the desserts for the evening. despite the fact that there were only nine of us present, we had no less than four different pies to choose from: pumpkin, french apple, chocolate cream, and cheesecake. when it comes to satisfying our sweet tooth, we don't mess around.

i took a slice of the chocolate cream (which was bought with me in mind, knowing i don't do the other flavors present) and added a dollop of the yummy rum sauce. that stuff always reminds me of butter rum life savers, and it makes the pie taste even better than it already does.

after topping off my pie with a few more bites of delicious turkey, i fell asleep in a chair.

tryptophan rocks.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

top 10 reasons to be thankful this year

i don't have a gap between my teef, a successful late-night talk show, and, well, i don't cheat on my spouse. but here's my top 10 list, a la david letterman:

10. new moon, the movie. specifically, taylor lautner. fo' shizzle. thank you, god. and stephenie meyer, too, i guess.

9. the mcrib. no, i'm totally serious. i've been hit with ridiculous cravings for this stupid sandwich over the last few years with no way to satisfy it. i plan to make up for lost time for as long as i can.

8. my new-ish starbucks cold cup. while i do try to limit myself to one delicious iced espresso drink per week, it's totally fun to make my homemade iced coffee and tote it to work in my super fabulous cup. i'm still incredibly bitter about losing that damn straw, but it's okay.

7. my job. yeah, yeah, it should probably rank a little higher on the importance scale than this, but what can i say - i do miss the SAHM life. on the flip side, though, i am grateful for the steady cash flow that it offers, not to mention giving me a reason to get my ass up and out in the mornings (instead of staying home in my pajamas until, oh, 2 p.m.). it also gets me out of the house, provides a window of time to run quick errands without having to drag the poor bean in and out of the car, and gives MIL the chance to spend quality time with the bean every day. it's close to home, i have fantastic hours (8:30 to 12:30 is quite lovely), and it's damn near effortless (luckily, since i've rolled in exhausted and zombified a few times). i suppose if i have to work, this job ain't so bad.

6. the junior league! i've been a provisional member now for almost three months, and i'm having a rip-roaring, pearl-clutching hell of a good time. i've met some super fun ladies, attended one volunteering gig (so far) that was fun and fulfilling, and i'm looking forward to using my immeasurable and varied skills (hahaha!) for good instead of evil.

5. the blogosphere, twitter and facebook. as you can tell, i love blogging. it truly is a part of me, and i'm gratified with every comment and e-mail i get from you, my readers, in response to something that i've written. it keeps me going, even when i'm facing writer's block, frustrated from the photo uploading process, or maybe tackling a tough subject that i just have to vent about. as for tweeting, it's such silly fun, and i've actually won some cool shit just by following companies i like - free ice cream (some of you benefited from that too, remember?), a couple of gift cards for wendy's, and even a free 2-night stay in vegas, courtesy of the rio hotel. then there's facebook, which has brought me back in touch with a whole group of folks that i'd lost track of years ago. not to mention the fact that it helped me and my high school reunion committee immensely in getting the word out about the big bash. i resisted the social networking thing for a long time, but i'm completely sucked in now. and it helps feed my blatant narcissism. heh.

4. a steady stream of clients for my little wedding and party invitation biz. yes, the economy sucks ass. sure, people's budgets for things like customized paper goods aren't as plentiful as in recent years. but folks are still having weddings, and the majority of them are still sending out actual invitations - and a small handful of them are coming to me to crank 'em out. plus, i was included in the nominees for invitations/calligraphers on "l.a.'s hot list," run by a local news channel. and after several weeks of voting, i managed to come in #3 - with the top two being calligraphers. yay!

3. bacon. bacon. bacon. hey, did i say bacon? oh, and then there was bacon. i think there might have been bacon. oh, how grateful i am for bacon.

2. operation downsize. what started out as a super shitty situation born of horrifically craptastic circumstances (despite the fact that i totally tried to be pollyanna and looked for positives rather than the negatives) has actually turned out to be quite the blessing in disguise. things happen for a reason, right? well, that certainly rang true for the wan family in 2009. from moving into the shoebox to trading in my beloved X5 for the pri-YES to rediscovering my absolute pride in and enjoyment of cooking and baking, getting back to the basics has quietly strengthened the truly unbreakable thread that ties the hub, the teen, the bean, and me together. what could easily have broken us apart instead brought us closer to each other (both physically and emotionally, heh), and i couldn't be more grateful. plus, it's renewed our appreciation for little things that we used to take for granted, like mani/pedis, new clothes, fine dining. i'm still an awful housekeeper, but hey, at least there's a whole lot less home to keep clean.

and the #1 thing i'm thankful for, of course, is quite the cliché - but no less true. life would be unbearably meaningless without my loved ones. i'm blessed with wonderful friends in my life, both old and new. and while i've been utterly, horribly disappointed by some folks i call "family," i've drawn strength and support from others. and i learned that sometimes, you just can't rely on anyone but your core family. and your mama.

i mean, come on. how could i not be one happy ass camper when that core is made up of these awesome peeps who brighten every moment of every day?

happy thanksgiving, everybody!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

gimme some lovin'. gimme gimme some lovin'!

okay, i realize i've been really sucky at keeping up on my blogroll lately. i know it. life is just nuts lately and i'm scraping up time here and there to upload pictures and keep up with my own blog.

and yet i'm super bummed that the comment lovin' has been super low around here lately. what'sa girl gotta do to get some these days?? now, i fully admit that my life isn't exactly excitement city, but are my posts really that boring and pathetic, unworthy of comments? how sad. and yet i just keep pluggin' along. hey, if you've got a topic or a question or something interesting for me to talk about, lemme know.

and now i'm a little scared. heh. well, have at it. let's see what you can come up with. because today's post? chock full of random shit that'll likely drive you away even further.

i was super stoked a couple of weeks ago when i learned via
twitter (which is how i get most of my news these days) that my beloved mcrib sandwich was finally making an appearance again. that shit has been MIA from local mcdonald's outlets since 20-freaking-06! and like my friend nanette said, the second thing i think of when i hear "mcrib" (the first, of course, being "YUM!") is "the osbournes," where jack gets all excited for the same reason and kelly totally makes fun of him for screaming "the mcrib is back!" haha.

it wasn't supposed to be available until november 30th, and i was literally counting the days. but again, via twitter, i read that folks were finding it all around the l.a. area. and so i took a chance and headed to my local mickey d's to check it out, and i was ridiculously stoked to pull up to the drive-thru menu and find this:

whee! luck was on my side that day. i drove home excitedly and dug right in.

looks kinda nasty, huh? but no - it was fabulous. mmmmm. i think i may need another one, stat. happy thanksgiving to me.

last week, the bean was going through some kind of weird pissed-off phase. she was flipping out and throwing classic "terrible twos" temper tantrums, but with a twist. she'd start freaking out over nothing, we'd let her get it all out for a few minutes, and then she'd stop crying and go back to her normal, sweet self as if nothing had happened. "bipolar twos" is more like it. sheesh. and when she decided to try and pull that crap with me the other day, i sat her ass in her high chair, continued with whatever i was doing at the time, and moments later found this:

luckily, it's been a good week so far and we haven't had any reruns of those OOFC episodes. i hope she's over it, but only time will tell. i think this might have had something to do with the weirdness, though:

holy eff, the bottom of her shirt is freaking filthy. but this was post-post-blood draw treat, so i'm giving me a pass.

last week also found the teen, rock-ell, the bean and me heading to
7-eleven after school to fulfill a mad slurpee craving. we wandered through the aisles for a few minutes before we found ourselves at the giant beverage bar, stupefied at the sheer number of choices available to us.

and then the teen spotted this thing:

it's a freaking big gulp guitar. this thing holds 52 ounces of liquid refreshment and is absolutely ludicrous - and we had. to. have. one. the teen gleefully chose a blue guitar and got to work filling it with something out of the soda fountain, and we all giggled our asses off the whole time. even the typically indifferent folks behind the register were laughing as they watched our antics, although i'm not sure if they were laughing with us or at us. either way, it was utterly silly and fun, and totally worth the, uh, $7.99 we forked out for it.

meanwhile, i settled for a simple coke slurpee in this cute
domo cup:

and then the giggling started up again in the car as the teen wrapped that guitar strap around herself and sipped lustily on her beverage of choice. it was just so comical, but maybe you had to be there.

jumping from one topic to another, it's back to my brother's wedding for one of my favorite shots of the day:

also last week, i finally indulged in my first starbucks holiday beverage of the season - the new caramel brulee latte (i implore you not to click on that link if you don't want to know how bad that thing actually is). i even got it hot, which is quite atypical for me as hot coffee usually puts me to sleep. and while i was standing in line to order it, i caught a glimpse of the new mini card, designed by project runway champ christian siriano. it was so sparkly and pretty, i had to have one. and i was even more tickled to see the adorable red knit "sleeve" that came with it.

y'all know how easy it is to please me. heh.

the bean likes to kick back and relax with a starbucks drink, too. and the tall hot cup with lid is the perfect size for her. she can hold it easily in her little paws and drink from it without spilling a drop.

before you start to cyber-kick my ass, rest easy with the knowledge that i am not feeding my two-year-old coffee drinks from starbucks. no, that cup is full of horizon organic chocolate milk, of course.

sheesh, what kind of mom do you think i am?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

souped-up dinners

one of the things that i'm grateful for this year is my renewed love of cooking. it's one of the unexpected bonuses of operation downsize, which has been kinda shitty for the most part, but there's always something good in everything, right? at least, i'd like to think so.

i find myself trying new recipes at least once a week. it would probably be a great idea if i actually kept track of which recipes were well-received and which ones got the bright, fake smile and "mmm, it's good, but not as good as [insert some other fantastic meal here]." although i guess that's why i tell you guys about it, so i can maybe look back on my posts when i'm looking for dinner ideas and find something great.

last week, i did a fair amount of cooking from new recipes. here we go:

a few years ago, i'd found a fantastic recipe for
macaroni & cheese on the side of a box of pasta. i'd cut it out, not finding it online, and saved it - somewhere. oy. but since then, someone decided to submit it to recipezaar and i was stoked to find it and make it again to see if it was as good as i remembered.

butter is always a good start. i melted a bit of it into my saucepan:

stirred in some flour and cooked it for a bit:

poured in the milk (i always use nonfat, even when it calls for whole or cream):

tossed in some seasonings:

meanwhile, i cooked up my macaroni.

stirred in handfuls of this:

but it didn't quite look cheesy enough for me.

so i tossed in another handful.

once it was all melty and gooey, i stirred the noodles into the sauce,

poured the whole concoction into my baking pan, and topped it with even more cheesy goodness.

half an hour later, it was done. and it was just as scrumptious as i remembered. yummy! this one's a keeper for sure.

because i had to add something remotely healthy to my dinner table, i decided to pull out that broccoli salad recipe again. this stuff is so good, i have to keep from mixing up a batch, like, every day.

ever since that rehearsal dinner last week, i'd been craving more of that delicious coconut rice. like, i even submitted a request to the "culinary SOS" section of the l.a. times' food blog. i'm such a nerd, i know it. but i traded a few friendly e-mails with one of the writers, and she's super friendly. she e-mailed to let me know that she'd called the restaurant to ask about the recipe and was told by management that they don't serve coconut rice.

[confused puppy look and scooby doo noise]

what a bunch of freaks. i wondered when the last time was that they'd even looked at their menu, let alone eaten the food. anyway, she promised to research it further and let me know if her other contact at the restaurant was more helpful. in the meantime, i decided to try a different coconut rice recipe instead.

i found that my little can of coconut milk wasn't quite enough even for half of the recipe, but i improvised and tossed in a bit of water and extra sugar to make up the difference.

when the rice/milk mixture came to a boil, i turned the heat down and then put the lid on, but left it cracked to let some steam out.

15 minutes later, my rice was pretty and fluffy and pretty darn delectable. i ended up adding a bit of extra sugar to sweeten it up, but i stuck my fork into the pan again and again over the next half an hour. i was the only one interested in eating it anyway, so it didn't matter. more for me!

i guess i was in a soup-y mood last week, because for another dinner i decided to try this broccoli potato chowder recipe. i don't love peeling and chopping potatoes, so i don't do it too often, but it had been a while, so i went for it.

the teen is slowly incorporating some kind of meat products back into her diet, and gave me the green light to make this recipe as it's written - starting with some chopped bacon. the resulting bacon fat is the base of the soup.

it was an easy recipe to make, and ready to serve a half hour later. i took some of that chopped bacon and topped the hub's and my bowls of chowder with it.

it was a'ight. not really very flavorful, and although we polished off the pot, i doubt i'll repeat that one. i'm always sad when a recipe that contains bacon is a failure, but there are tons more out there for me to try.

this vegetarian chili and this incredibly easy-to-make cornbread was what i left my family for dinner while i trotted off to junior league. i wasn't home to share and enjoy, but i'm told it was pretty darn good.

brother wan and i are taking charge of thanksgiving dinner for the wan family. and when i saw this recipe, i knew we had. to. have. it.

OMG, i'm so excited. is it wrong that i'm really looking forward to taking pictures and reporting about the process and inevitable success? because i am.

squeezing in all the sightseeing

this was our NYC home for a whole week: it was one of only a few hotels that i could find that offered two beds in a room rather than, say, ...