wan-na find something?

Friday, September 30, 2011

birthday princess bean

birth day:

a year later:

birthday bash 2.0:

last year's celebration:

and now, just before she turns 4.

what will the next year bring?  we sure can't wait to find out.  happy birthday, my baby bean.  i love you so much, and every day is a fabulous, fun adventure.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

bring on the pixie dust

so yeah, i'm really doing this.  i'm signed up to run the tinker bell half marathon at disneyland with the autism speaks team.  and so i've been working on raising funds to help them in the research of autism, causes, cures, treatment, all that good stuff.

i'm on week 8 of the C25K program, which amazes the hell out of me.  i'm actually running for 28 minutes straight now, and today's run covered 3.17 miles with a pace of just over 11 minutes per mile.  can you believe that shit?  i still can't.

i talked about doing cookies as a fundraiser, and i'm excited to report that a good number of you have responded and placed orders already.  i'm so grateful for all of your support - both in the fundraiser and in just cheering me on.  it's awesome to have people like you behind me.

i'm just gonna throw this out there, because - well, i have to.  heh.  i'm going to be working like mad on raising the rest of the cash for my charity, and figured i'd put it here in case anyone else was interested in helping me get to my goal.  as of right now, there are three ways to do just that:

  • place an order for cookies.  i'm doing custom sugar cookies by the dozen for $35 - this includes individual wrapping and color-coordinated ribbon, shipping and handling.  the order can be for a future delivery - like, say, if you want to order some for the upcoming holidays.  just drop me an e-mail and we'll discuss details.
  • order a crayon roll for $25.  yes, this is slightly higher priced than similar ones you can find on etsy and other places, but it's all going to charity.  ya dig?  here's an example of the one i keep in my purse.  it comes in so handy for when we're out at restaurants with the bean:

  •  if you're feeling particularly generous, or maybe autism is a cause that's near and dear to your heart, you can simply donate any amount via my personal page.  the site takes all sorts of credit cards - even amex and discover!  yay!
i'm also grateful for happy running vibes, thoughts, prayers, words of support.  those are always very much appreciated.

oh, and hey - you can weigh in on my debate with myself over whether or not to wear a costume or at least some sparkly wings while i run.  come on - it's a half marathon at disneyland.  where else can i yuk it up and get super silly?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

brown sugarin' it up

i got hit with a craving for monkey bread recently, and decided to go the easy route and reuse the recipe i found a couple of months ago.  and then because i had some extra cream cheese to use up (and it sounded really good, too), i threw together a quick glaze to dollop on top.

i like the word "dollop."  it makes me think of whipped cream.  yum.

uh, so anyway, i busted out the cute cupcake liners - the kind that stand up by themselves and don't require a cupcake pan - and used my mini convection oven instead of firing up the big oven and heating up the whole house.

they look good, right?  the bean was most appreciative as she dug into the cinnamon sugary bits of dough.  as we sat together enjoying our breakfast that morning, i rubbed my arms and realized that my elbows were super rough.  like, i really needed to exfoliate.  and then i eyed the bowl full of leftover cinnamon sugar i'd mixed together for the monkey bread and my mind went to work.

this is completely random.  i know it.  but you know me, that's how i roll.  and i remembered that in my pinterest browsing recently, i'd come across some recipes for homemade sugar scrubs that incorporated ingredients that i always have in my pantry.  i bet you do, too.  i'd never realized how simple it was to throw together a beauty product that typically costs a boatload o'cash - like the fresh brown sugar line i've been coveting lately.  a jar of the scrub is $38 - for the small one!

so i pulled up this recipe, took out a couple of extra ingredients, and mixed it up.

i even had the perfect size jar to store it in.

so my morning's projects filled my belly and made my skin super duper soft and fragrant.  AND cost me less than $5!

talk about a win-win situation.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

not your mama's rice krispy treats

to celebrate my 1,300th post, i present for your visual enjoyment...no-bake cookies & cream bars.

i'm also too lazy to upload pics from our latest adventures right this moment.  i'll get to them, though.  i'm sure you're on the edge of your seat.

anyway, these deliciously chewy morsels came my way via pinterest, of course.  food bloggers are so dang creative - and i've found lots of yummy and easy recipes from picky palate.  all she did for these was to grind up a pack of oreo cookies in a food processor (i think she left hers with a few chunks, but i whirled mine into a big pile o'chocolate dust), melt marshmallows with some butter, mix it all together and spread it into a pan.

these are wonderfully addictive.  they're soft enough to make for fun snacking, but with a firmness that kept me going back again and again.  really, you must try these.  like, go and buy some oreos and marshmallows right now and make them.  you'll thank me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

my little noodle

i've never really been a strong swimmer.  sure, i can doggy paddle and i could probably survive if i had to, but i can't dive in and glide through it like all professional and stuff.  and i hate having water in my ears and face.  it just bugs me.

but the teen is a great swimmer.  and i want the bean to be, too.  except that when i was finally able to enroll her into swimming lessons, the timing of the sessions just didn't work with our schedules.  the lessons are two weeks long, with a half-hour session every weekday.  well, either we had something planned, or we were going away, or something.  so we weren't able to get signed up until way late - with summer damn near over.  although i guess it didn't matter too much anyway, since it's not like we have a pool for her to practice in.  we just want her to learn the basics and water safety and stuff.

she was excited for her lessons.  the few times that we do get her into a pool, she really digs it.  although i was a little worried about how she would handle going in with someone she didn't know, without one of us in the water with her.

but she was stoked enough about getting in there that she totally overlooked those facts and got right in.

it was fun to watch her giggle and joke around with her instructor, who showed her fun stuff like blowing bubbles in the water and using the noodles to swim without wearing floaties.  i thought it was pretty cool when he tied one of them around her body so she could swim all by herself.

she was pretty proud of herself, too.  although she wasn't thrilled when he took that same noodle that was so fun a few minutes before, dunked it below the surface towards one of the jets, and let the water flow through it and over her head.  that was not her favorite part.

damn.  she's totally like her mother.  we're gonna have to take advantage of the extended fall sessions available at the local pool, because this one is over and we didn't make nearly as much progress as we'd hoped for.  oh, well.

Friday, September 23, 2011

play with your food

i've said it before - pinterest is awesome.  because without it, who knows if i would've ever come across the fabulousness of my newest toy, courtesy of an ebay seller in korea:

the pictures are pretty self-explanatory, although if anyone out there can translate this for me, i'd be most appreciative.  you know, just for fun.  i'd also love to know what it is they sprinkled on there to make the perfect hello kitty face.

knowing that i was picking up the teen from school and heading right out to run an errand that required a bit of driving, i busted it out to make both girls a sandwich.  nutella and peanut butter for the bean, goober grape for the teen. 

step 1:  spread stuff on the first piece of bread, wedge it in and top with the second piece.

next, press the mold into the top to cut the sandwich into the perfect hello kitty shape:

put the last piece on top and sprinkle...stuff into the holes to make the face.  i thought it would be fun to make it pink, and decided to use some nestle strawberry quik mix.

except that it didn't quite work out as i'd hoped.  the mix didn't stick too well to the bread, so i tried a little powdered sugar.  uh, FAIL.

on the bean's sandwich, i tried a little hot cocoa mix.  it was a little better, but still far from perfect.

but it was still fun to watch their reactions when i presented them with the little boxes containing their special sandwiches.  i love doing silly stuff like this.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

a weird start, but ended with a bang

i kicked off my actual birthday with a training run.  after all, i was a little behind from being sick, and i figured it wouldn't hurt to play a little catch-up, even on my special pretty pretty princess day.  and right as i grabbed my towel after my shower, i heard the doorbell, followed closely by the sound of my mom's voice. 

i rushed through getting dressed and putting my face on and then headed out to receive a big smile and a birthday hug from my mama.  well, and something else, too - she'd tweeted me last week to say that she'd gotten me a fabulous present that she was dying to give me.  i was, of course, dying of curiosity as to what it was, and her excitement was definitely warranted:

pretty sweet, right?  i'm pretty easy to buy for - hello kitty anything is ooh'ed and aah'ed over by me. 

it was nice to see my mom that morning, and she got a little face time with MIL too.  but the clock was ticking, and we had a 1.5-hour drive ahead of us to get to GGM's memorial service.  so she hung out as long as she could and then made a quick exit as we finished getting ready. 

hey, if i had to go to a friggin' funeral on my big milestone birthday, at least i looked cute.

i'll spare you the details of the service, but suffice it to say that the highlight of it for me was the "adaptation" of a rhianna song.  it started out with "nana, when the sun shines we'll shine together" and ended with "nana, you can stand under my umbrella."  we figured that it was likely that less than 5 people in the church had any idea who rhianna was, and when the recitation was over i heard murmurs of "oh, that was so beautiful." 


the bean fell asleep in the car on the way back, and when we got home i managed to slip away for a much-needed mani/pedi.  and i went all out, accepting every extra those sly women threw my way.  paraffin wax?  sure.  deluxe pedicure with various scrubs and moisturizers?  okay.  extra bonus massage time on my hands and arms?  hey, why not?  when all was said and done, my total even before tip was...a lot.

when i got home, the bean was still down for the count but woke up about ten minutes later.  with MIL gone to take FIL to the airport for his flight home (yeah, he was home for just barely two days, just for me), we piled into the car with brother wan for points unknown.  well, unknown to me and the bean. 

the hub had asked me weeks ago what i wanted for my birthday.  i mentioned before that i really, really wanted disneyland annual passes for all of us so that we could go and have some fun, riding rides, grab some dinner, watch fireworks whenever the hell we pleased.  the hub initially rejected this idea, considering the - uh - financial investment this entailed, and asked me if i wouldn't rather have a new computer instead.  even though the latter would be much more practical, i didn't want to be practical on my birthday, dang it.  it's always more fun to be a little frivolous. 

so when we ended up at downtown disney with the hub toting this:

i was really hopeful.  although that box could've contained anything - a pair of shoes, a handbag (which i'd also said i would love, since i still have yet to add a tory burch or marc jacobs to my collection).  and then the bean took hold of it and handed it to me.

the box was light as a feather.  heh. 

when we headed over to the security checkpoint, i kind of had a feeling that they weren't gonna let us go through without seeing what was in that box.  with the hub carrying it behind me, i went through and had my bag checked and then as he explained to the staff that it was a birthday present, i watched the guy shake his head and tell him that he was sorry, but the box would need to be opened before they could allow him through with it.

and so we stepped off to the side, i ripped the paper off, and did a gleeful happy dance as i pushed the tissue paper aside to find a year's worth of fun at the happiest place on earth.

redeeming them at one of the ticket booths was a bit of a process, as we managed to get a "cast member" who wasn't exactly feeling the disney magic.  she was old and grumpy, and tried to pawn us off on another window (which would've required getting back in the line), but we finally got through and i got a special button to wear.

this button alerts all cast members that you encounter that it's your special day, and i grinned and chirped a cheerful "thank you" about a zillion times everywhere we went.

sadly, the blue bayou restaurant was closed - looked like it's being remodeled.  bummer.  so we settled for a quick dinner on main street, rode the "nemo" ride for the bean, and then settled in for the fireworks show.  so nice of disney to celebrate my birthday with such a fantastic display of pyrotechnics.  heh.

look, it's mickey!

as we followed the giant crowd towards the exit, i tried to capture a bit of the halloween decor that's already in place.

we'd discovered that MIL had misplaced her keys, but thought she'd likely locked them in the car.  the hub and i went to get ours while brother wan rode the tram with her, and then we set off to try and find them in the 10,000-car structure.  it wasn't easy, and we ended up being stopped by security as we went back around for the third time to get to the right level.  turns out you have to be escorted by a member of their security team if you're going in there after a certain hour.  just like having to open that wrapped box before being allowed in, there were lots of security-related rules in place as a result of 9/11.

MIL had called AAA for assistance, but was told it could be up to an hour before they arrived.  but the security guard informed us that there were blue emergency buttons sprinkled throughout each floor.  all we had to do was push one and someone would come to help us - and they were usually equipped with some basic tools.  by the time we found her and brother wan, they'd already been helped out by another member of security wielding a slim jim.

as we sailed through the mostly-empty structure on our way out, i tried to get a picture of one of the blue buttons.  of course, i failed.

but you get the picture.  now, see?  if you ever have car trouble while parked at disneyland...look for a blue button.  quicker than AAA, and done with a smile.

much like the one on my face from the moment we arrived till the very second we swung back onto the freeway towards home.  yo, i have a full YEAR of fun ahead of me!  with her awesome school schedule that lets her out at lunchtime every day, the teen and i are already planning on heading to disneyland at least once every couple of weeks right after school.  woo-hoo!

i can't wait.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

best surprise ever, 2.0

so the hub was killing me with his non-committal responses to my poking and prodding about where we'd be going for my birthday weekend.  he'd pretend not to know what i was talking about, or change the subject, or just plain ignore.  drove me nuts.

and then we had an exchange over e-mail about the memorial service for GGM.  um, planned ON my birthday.  jigga-wha?  of course, we'd be in attendance.  but man...talk about totally smashing my hopes and dreams of going to sin city for the weekend.  i haven't been to the vegas since before the bean was born, and i've been dying to go for ages.  oh, well.

i was also lamenting my lack of wardrobe selections for - whatever was in store for me.  in the old days, the hub would be all like "just grab the essentials and we'll buy whatever you don't have."  but now that we're grownups and all, that doesn't really work anymore.  we's got responsibilities and shit, you know?  so i was pretty stoked when he said those magic words.  i threw my makeup and hair stuff together, a few acceptable items of clothing and shoes, got the bean down for her nap, and thanked MIL profusely for taking care of her for us as we left.

as we headed south, i debated in my head over our possible destination.  san diego seemed the obvious choice, but i also thought maybe disneyland could be it.  because the one thing at the top of my wish list this year was annual passes for us to visit the happiest place on earth as often as we wanted to.  the bean and the teen are both at great ages to go and have fun there, and it's really only about half an hour away.  although that idea went right out the window as we sailed past the exit and kept driving down.

of course, he teased me about taking me to tijuana for the weekend.  not that i haven't had my share of fun down in TJ, but it's not really my idea of a fabulous getaway.  and then we finally got off the freeway and headed to the gaslamp district. 

with a good chunk of time to kill before dinner, we headed to the mall at horton plaza.  and there, wan's law was in full effect:  i had the green light to pick out whatever i wanted, and i found absolutely nothing that i loved enough to buy.  i tried on this outfit:

and both the hub and i rejected it.  i felt bad for the sales associate who'd scurried back and forth with things for me to try on, because after i finally decided that i didn't love this ensemble, i got dressed and we got the hell outta dodge before she could come back and talk me into it.

after perusing the selections at the other stores and still finding nothing cute enough for me, we gave up and got back in the car.  and i was super duper stoked when we pulled in here:

we haven't been down to the del in almost three years!  it's such a gorgeous hotel, and it always makes me think of an old movie i saw forever ago with my mom - "somewhere in time," with christopher reeve and jane seymour.  i love that movie.

i'm looking at the few pictures i took and realized that i didn't even get a single shot of our room or the view - but trust me, it was really pretty and we had a view of the ocean.  anyway, we relaxed for a bit and then decided to head back out and do a bit more shopping before dinner.

of all places, i ended up buying a top and sweater at forever 21.  damn.  but hey, i saved the hub a grip o'cash since i just wore the seven jeans and black flats i was already rocking.  and as usual, when we got to the restaurant - searsucker, owned by brian malarkey of "top chef" fame - all of the other chicks were dressed to the nines and i just looked...40.  eff.

but whatevs.  my husband thinks i'm hot no matter what i wear, and we had a great time peoplewatching and talking shit like we always do.  and i even got a drink - the "peter rabbit."  the waiter swore it was the best drink on the menu, but when the hub took a sip i thought he was going to upchuck right there on the table.  i had to admit, the basil taste was a little on the strong side.

we both liked the restaurant, and i remarked that watching and listening to the kitchen in action was like an episode of "hell's kitchen."

as for the rest of the menu, i ended up picking three different starters.

yelp had clued me in on the duck fat fries:

the marrow bone + sea salt + onion jam:

and the eggs & "bacon" (really a beautifully cooked chunk of pork belly).  even the hub, always a skeptic about things outside of his comfort zone, devoured this and loved it.

as for our main entrees, the hub played it safe with the filet, while i chose the butt - pork ass.  and of course, it was a running joke all through the meal, especially after the hub informed me that the waiter raised his eyebrows slightly because when i ordered it, i apparently said "i really want to eat the butt."

i'd eaten so many starters that i was stuffed, but that was best ass i've ever had.  heh.  and although it's very rare that i skip dessert, i just couldn't.  i would've exploded.  so i settled for the lollipop that came with the check instead.

i'd read on twitter that one of my favorite guys from this season of "bachelor pad" was going to be at a club that wasn't too far away.  and since we'd grabbed a ride down to the gaslamp district from the hotel's car service, we hailed one of those pedicabs that lined the main drag.  i took a picture of searsucker as we whizzed by:

we got dropped off just down the street from the club, and the area got sketchier and sketchier as we walked along.  the hub wasn't a huge fan of continuing on, but it was early and would've been super duper lame if we'd gone back to the hotel right away.  oh, and which club was it?  it was called, um...boudoir.

because of the early hour, we were among the first to walk in.  the bonus?  no cover charge.  after flashing our IDs and having our hand stamped, we walked right in.  we wandered upstairs, watched the ever-growing crowd milling about, and then found ourselves in a dark room lined with cushiony benches surrounding a...dominatrix wheel.  with an actual dominatrix standing there, waiting for her first, uh, victim.  i couldn't bring myself to take any pictures, but imagine a giant wheel - probably seven feet around, covered in black leather and laden down with belts and buckles and things. 

finally, a girl stepped forward and was strapped in, facing the wheel with arms and legs spread wide open.  the dominatrix chick stood in front of her, smacking her ass and whipping her with this feather and leather thing.  and then she had her turn around, face the audience, and as she was buckled in again, handed the feather/leather whip to the girl's boyfriend.

um, and then it got kind of weird and awkward and uncomfortable, and we bailed.  didn't even stay long enough to find and meet the "bachelor pad" dude. we were outta there.

the next morning, after a super yummy brunch at the hotel, i headed to the spa and was treated to the most fantastical facial that ever was.  you know - the kind where you want to cry when it's over and lay there so long basking in the afterglow that the girl actually has to come back and make sure you're okay because you should've been dressed and out of the room ages ago.

oh, just me?  okay, never mind.

back at home, i was really touched to find FIL waiting in the living room. apparently, brother wan had arranged for him to come home just for me - and it was so nice to see him.  we enjoyed a lovely BBQ at home that evening and it was nice to just relax and enjoy some family time (with the exception of the teen, who was at her dad's for the week).

i love being the birthday princess.

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, ...