Friday, October 31, 2008


The day that in the words of Gabrielle "we get to go trick-or-treating and get lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of candy!" And that is exactly what she did. It actually turned out to be a non stop busy day with school, Dr's appointments, a potluck lunch at Jessica's house, and the very BIG, very EXCITING trick-or-treating. I think all in all, I prepared for it pretty good and everyone had a great time. Gabrielle went trick-or-treating with her Dad and her friend Katie, while Leila stayed home to help me pass out candy. This kept me from having to worry about anyone giving Leila some peanut M&Ms or something. She actually had a lot of fun doing it. She had on her ladybug costume and we sat ourselves on the porch in our yard chairs and waited for people to come. She loved to say what everyone's costume was. . . there were a lot of "cookie monsters," which is what she calls any kind of moster or something scary. And she was very generous with the candy too, giving out handfuls to everyone that came up. It was very cute to watch. And during the lulls, we would munch on candies ourselves. I think all in all, everyone had fun and Gabrielle never noticed that I took out all the blacklisted candy and replaced them appropriate substitutes ;-)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Because everyone does cookies. . .

I did something a little bit different for Halloween this year. . . chocolate covered marshmallows! For those that thinking that making marshmallows is absurd, they are both fun and very easy to make. And taste infinitely better than jet puffed. This was my second try at making marshmallows actually. My first attempt was over the summer when I made strawberry marshmallows with real strawberry puree. They were tasty, but the texture wasn't right as they just sorta melted in your mouth. This time I made orange flavored marshmallows, and I found the texture to be much more marshmallowy this time. So I like them a lot better. I colored them orange, and after they had set, I cut them out with a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter. Finally I dipped them in dark and milk chocolate. . . and they were yummy! Even Gabrielle who always says that she doesn't like marshmallows couldn't resist. And as for Leila, well she can't get enough. We're cutting her off! :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dolsot Bibimbap!

Say that three times fast! Hard to pronounce name, easy to love dish. It's actually a Korean dish, my favorite Korean dish. . . and quite possibly one of my all-time favorite meals. When I was pregnant with Gabrielle, I craved it all the time. And even now that I'm not pregnant, I still crave it. On the other hand, I also regret the day I fell in love with this dish, as Korean restaurants tend to be hard to come by in most places. . . impossible to come by where we live. And it's kind of a complicated dish to make. . . But sometimes you have to give in to your cravings, or to your husband saying "Hey that sounds good. Why don't you just whip that up one night?" Well first of all, you can't just "whip" up bibimbap. It's essentially a large bowl of rice, covered with a variety of sauteed and seasoned vegetables, such as carrots, cucumber, zucchini, spinach, and bean sprouts . In my house, it's also topped with beef, a fried egg, and a dollop of gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste). The best part about it though is that you put it all in this hot stone bowl, and mix it all together right before you eat it. The bowl is so hot that the rice, egg, and other goodies essentially get fried against the sides of the bowl, causing the rice to have this great crisp texture. And that is my favorite part! What more can I say other than it was delicious even though I had to "whip" it up myself. . . I'd still much rather just order it. I think I did pretty good overall. My biggest ordeal was deciding which type of rice I should use and in the end I decided on a mixture of glutinous rice (sticky or sweet rice) and jasmine rice . . . which turned out to work just fine. I just may have to make this one again some time soon. . . having eaten it only reminds me just why I love it so much!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chinese BBQ!!!

Everytime we go to the Chinese grocery store, my girls complain that they're hungry. Yes, we normally go around lunch time, but that's not the point. The point is Chinese BBQ, aka Chinese Roast Pork, aka Char Siu, which they sell there, and my girls think it's great to buy it all sliced up and eat in the car on the way home. In the past, they have devoured almost a pound of it all by themselves. They call it lunch. By the time we get home, they're sitting in their car seats stuffed and with sticky red fingers. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I love char siu too. Definately one of my favorites, which I also love to eat as is. If we ever have any left over, I tend to serve it up with some rice. I finally decided that I needed to learn how to make it on my own, and today was the day to try. It was actually very easy as I used a packet of dry rub that I got from the above mentioned chinese grocery store. :-) And since I just put it in the oven to cook it, I think the total amount of effort on my part amounted to about 15 minutes. Yeah, I cheated, which isn't how I normally do things, but I thought it came out great for so little effort and so easy to do. And it went just great over a bowl of fried noodles. Yum! I was hoping I'd have enough left to make char siu bao, which are buns filled with the BBQ, but alas there no left overs to be had. That's okay though because I can always make more now. :-D

Monday, October 27, 2008

Daddy Saves the Day

You know. . . I've often come to notice in my life, that things like to go wrong at the same time. There's actually been two things that I've noticed. . . one is that whatever is going to go wrong will go wrong when your husband is gone (you Navy wives know what I'm talking about), and the other is that once things start to go wrong, it's like a domino effect. Well that's what happened today. It started off simple enough, with only one thing wrong, Leila waking up wheezing so loudly and so fast that you could hear her from 5 feet away. Now Leila doesn't technically have asthma, and up until last month, she's had no respiratory problems at all. But just recently she's had these episodes where one day she's perfectly fine, and the next day she's wheezing like crazy and going into respiratory distress (that was another day.) So I made her a doctor's appointment in the morning because I knew by the sounds of it that she was going to need some steriods. Got her a 9:40 appt which was perfect. I could drop Gabrielle off at school and take Leila to the doctor. Well wouldn't you know it. . . when I went to the Leila to the doctor, the base was closed. No cars going in or out, which means no getting to the doctor. It stayed that way for over 20 minutes, and there we were the whole time sitting in the car, Leila wheezing and coughing, late for the dr's and no progress. So I finally decide to go home, and wouldn't you know it, as soon as I pull into my driveway, Robert calls to say that the gate is open again (this is the first time he saves the day). So we turn back around, and hurry back to the Dr's, but of course they were so backed up that we didn't even get seen until 10:45. By the time we were finished, it was time to pick up Gabrielle from school, and we still hadn't gotten Leila's meds. Lucky for us, Robert says that he's on his way to pick her up (second time he saves the day.) All the while, I've developed a huge migraine, and just looking around make me want to throw up. Eventually, Leila and I make it home (it was a looong, slow drive) with her prednisone. Robert asks me if he should stay home for the rest of the day, which I eagerly say "yes" to. At this point, I can barely open my eyes my head is hurting so bad. So he decides to stay home (third time he saves the day). Having only told Robert that Leila needs to take her medicine after lunch (medicine that she hates!), I go to bed. While I'm passed out upstairs, Robert manages to come up with Gabrielle's favorite for lunch. . . kim bop. It's never technically kim bop in our house because we tend to use whatever filler we have on hand that day such as leftover meat, along with the veggies. But Gabrielle loves it, and I was very suprised that Robert made it. He even took some pictures to show me.

You can't really tell in the pictures, but the roll is HUGE! I guess it probably would've helped if he had known where our rolling mat is. But for a guy and for his first time. . . I'm impressed! And the girls ate it. So that's the fourth time he saved the day. Which he promptly followed by number 5. . . getting Leila to take her medicine. Of course, I probably would've preferred NOT to know that he gave her a cocktail of 2 tsp. of medicine + 1 tsp. of grenadine. . . and then bribed her with chocolate. But hey whatever works! Which I guess it just goes that show that Dads may not always do it your way, but left to their own devices, they can make it work! . . . and save the day in the process! Thank goodness!

What a day!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

~Crystal Burgers~

Those of you who have been to the South may have heard of or been to a Krystal restaurant. They're pretty much an institution. . . that I happened to enjoy as a child. And for those of you who haven't, perhaps you've been to a White Castle. . . which is the Northern version of pretty much the exact same thing. Their specialties. . . tiny, square burgers of which a grown man could probably eat a dozen at a time. They're certainly not anything spectacular or gourmet, but if you've experienced them, they're just seems to be some inherent goodness about them. (And when you're a kid, it's like having a burger that's just your size.)

Tonight's menu item was hamburgers, but to put a new and perhaps more kid-friendly twist on things, I made a version of Krystal burgers. They were actually really good, and tasted suprisingly familiar. Who cares if I live 1000 miles away from the nearest Krystal? I'll just make my own. And to add a bit of irony/humor to the story, I looked Krystal up on Wikipedia (because I wiki pretty much everything) and it turns out that a country singer named Crystal Gayle chose that name because of her love for Krystal burgers. Well, ironically enough, my mom named me after Crystal Gayle. So go figure. . . I was born to make these burgers.

Case Study 10.15 *or* Random Babblings of a Mother

Recently, Leila has become an interesting case study for the child psychology class I took about 8 years ago. I know I have already been through these developmental stages with Gabrielle, but while Gabrielle seemed to develop in a natural and predicatable pattern, Leila seems both unpredicatable and a tad bizzare. As if knowing that she is now two, it seems like she's decided to step up to the plate and become older. Some classic examples of her recent behavior include:

1. Sudden jump in language acquisition. Up until about two weeks ago, Leila seemed right on track as far as talking goes. She said her first word when she was around 8 months old. She learned to sing her ABC's by the time she was 14 months old (which is not unusual in my house as it was also Gabrielle favorite song when she was little), and from the time she was 18 months onward, you could tell that her vocabulary was rapidly increasing with new words everyday. This is all very typical and to be expected. However, just suddenly, she's decided that words alone are not good enough. Even better are 3-4 word sentences like "Mommy, go play dollhouse?" or "Time to wake up!" or "Leila no like it." I guess it just kinda sprung up on me. One day, she's saying a few words here and there, the next day, she's telling stories. It's amazing! and a little bit bizarre from my standpoint. At the rate she's going, she's going to be able to hold full blown conversations in a couple of months.

2. The Paci Dilemma. I make no qualms nor am I ashamed to say that Leila uses a paci or multiple pacis. She's used them from the day she was born. And when we moved her to her own bed, I'd put her to bed at night with 3 or 4 of them. Yes, that may sound excessive, but it keeps me from having to get up a 2 a.m. when she's realized that her paci fell on the floor. In addition, Leila is a bit of a spirited child, not easily calmed down and has always lacked an ability to soothe herself. Once she gets worked up, she doesn't know how to stop. She's always been like that. . . ever since that first night when she came out crying for 3 hours straight! But a paci usually does the trick and so I always keep a couple in my purse. Well, within the past couple months, she's gotten away from using them during the day, which is good because I want her to be off of them by the time she's 3. And since the beginning of the month, she's started leaving her pacis in bed when she gets out, so now she knows that they're strictly for bed. Two days ago however, I had two clean ones sitting on the counter in the kitchen. She comes along while I'm washing the dished and takes one, which is fine. Two seconds later though, she comes back to get the other one. "Wait a minute," I say. "What happened to the paci you just took?" Leila's response: "Paci yucky! Throw trash can!" Then she opens the trash can and chucks in the paci to join the one that's already in there. When asked why she threw her pacis away, Leila just insists that they're yucky. I still can't understand for the life of me why she threw those things away. But when she went to bed that night there were no pacis in her bed, and she asked for them. When we reminded her that she threw them away (yes, we still have more), she said "okay" and seemed determined to go to sleep without them. But in the end, she couldn't calm herself down and we gave her one, sayin g that this was the last paci that she has. I'm not sure but I think that eventually it will find itself in the trashcan too, and maybe by then she'll be old enough and really ready to get rid of them. I'm not too concerned either way. And while I am glad that she's able to realize that she doesn't want to use them anymore, isn't it just a bit strange that she just randomly decided to throw them away??? (I should also note however that strangeness may run in our family as Gabrielle did the same thing when she was about four months older than Leila. Threw her pacis in the trash can one morning on her own personal whim, and that was the last we ever saw of them.)

3. Projection. This has been Leila's most interesting development lately. Also with her sense of communication, and perhaps an understanding of good and bad, right and wrong, has come her ability to project things onto inanimate objects. The most memorable examples are when she went poop in her diaper. She brought her Hello Kitty stuffed animal up to me, and said "Hello Kitty poo poo. Hello Kitty change diaper." How coincidental that she had gone poo poo too and also needed a diaper change. The night that she tried to go to sleep without a paci, when we tried to convince her that she didn't need one, she told me that her lovey, Sprinkles, needed a paci. Just in past couple of days, I've changed a Hello Kitty's diaper, given a rubber ducky a bath, and cleaned a teddy bear's face. This whole projection thing is new to me as Gabrielle has never done that (although she does have an imaginary friend), and I'm interested to see how it may develop.

Leila never ceases to boggle the mind. Mostly my mind because I have only ever raised one other baby/child, and she is so invariably different from Gabrielle. The way that they think and operate are completely opposite. Gabrielle is definately more of a rationale, think inside of the box kinda girl. Leila on the other hand, is always able to put a new twist or idea to something old and established, and isn't really bound by a sense of desire to be obediant or to please. Where will this lead to down the road? I am both curious and afraid to find out.

And now that I have written an entire write-up on my kids, which you probably had neither the time nor the inclination to read about, I'm gonna call it quits.

Friday, October 24, 2008

'C' is for Cookies!

So on a random whim today, I decided to whip up some cookies. What's worse is that I had all the ingredients I needed on hand to make exactly what I wanted. . . gingerbread butterscotch cookies. I just recently placed an order with Vermont Nut Free for all sorts of yummy baking stuff, like butterscotch cookies. :-) They were supremely delicious, as I love both gingerbread and butterscotch, and the fam was pretty crazy about them too. Leila kept trying to sneak more than her fair share, and even the dog tried to have a go at them while I wasn't looking. They don't look like much, but I promise they're really yummy. I promised a couple of ladies that I'd post the recipe, so here it is:

3 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 c. light molasses
1/2 (11 ounce) package Butterscotch Morsels (The original recipe used an entire bag of butterscotch, but that just seems excessive to me.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in small bowl.
Beat butter, sugar, egg and molasses in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well blended. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mexican. . . yummy!

And no, I am not talking about Taco Bell! I'm talking about Jean's kitchen, where we had the gracious honor of being invited over for dinner. In case it's not obvious, I pretty much like every kind of food! The only genre I tend to turn away at is Indian. . . don't like curry much (or at all really). But I love Mexican (along with American, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Thai. . . you get the idea.

Now I feel really bad because I forgot to take pictures. But don't let that fool ya! I ate a whole plate full of food, and went back for another whole plate! I could've stayed there eating all night -- carne guisada (which is like a Mexican beef stew, or beef in gravy. Hard to explain, but oh so good!), Spanish rice, chicken, pico de gallo, beans, and tortillas. YUM! I'm thinking that the next time I'm in the mood for Mexican, I'm going to have to pay Jean -- or come up with a good excuse like it's my birthday :-P

And because I can't go to someone's house to eat without bringing something, I contributed a dessert (no big surprise there). And in keeping with the Mexican theme, I made one of my favorites -- flan!

Peanut Free Halloween

A few people have already asked me what kinds of candies Leila can eat. Needless to say, Leila is not the only child in the world with a peanut allergy, as it is becoming more and more prevalent, along with a host of other allergies such as wheat, milk, eggs, soy, etc. In fact, a study release today shows that about 3 million children, or 4% of kids under 18 have a food allergy (courtesy of USA Today). So, for those of you that are interested in making your Halloween giveouts safe for allergenic trick-or-treaters, I thought I'd compile a small list for you. And yes, that does mean that most chocolate products are out of the questions. . . especially those all time favorites like butterfingers, snickers, reeses cups (seeing a trend here?)

Some peanut free candies:
Skittles*Starburst*Sweet tarts*Dots*Tropical Dots*Sugar Daddy Pops and Sugar Babies*Junior Mints*Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops*Mike and Ike*Hot Tomales*Life Savers Gummies: Tangy fruit flavor, Wild Berry, Five Flavor• Charms zipa dee doo da pops• Jr. Mints• Peeps• Zours• Sixlets• Dum Dums• Saf T Pops• Astro Pops• Picture Pops• Twizzlers and bite size• Starburst Fruit Chew/Lollipops• Blow Pops• Sugar Daddy Pops• Sugar Babies• Andes Mints• Charleston Chew• Cell’s milk or dark chocolate covered cherries• Rolo-------Regular Size• Krackel---Regular Size• Hershey Bar—Regular Size• Hershey Kisses (only the plain regular ones)

Willy Wonka Candy Factory:* Nerds *Bottle Caps* Nerd Ropes *Laffy Taffy Candy Ropes* Runts *Shock Tarts* Gobstoppers *Wonka’s Pixy Stix* Tart n Tiny *Fun Dip* Laffy Taffy *Flavor Flippers

And for the ultimate in allergen free candy, try SMARTIES!!! They're free of every major allergen, which essentially means they're just plain sugar :-)

Of course, this list is not comprehensive, and you should always read the labels on the back, especially in specially packed Halloween packs, because it is possible that the candy was "manufactured in a facility that handles peanuts, tree nuts, etc."

Hope this helps and happy halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A New Do!

So I randomly decided to get my hair cut today. . . mostly cause I'm tired of wearing it in a stupid ponytail/bun everyday. After all, I'm not 40 years old yet, why should I look it? Something new and easy to care for, that's what I needed.

Well, I very rarely go to the beauty salon. . . in fact, I can count the number of times I've been to get my hair done on both of my hands. But I figured that this was a matter that needed professional care, so I picked the place down the street that I've driven by a few times. . . and it didn't look very scary in there. Well it was a very interesting experience because when I went in everyone was speaking spanish. When I told the lady that I wanted to get my hair cut, she told me to sign in and have a seat (they don't take appts here) but after I signed in she said something to me that I didn't understand. So I said "what?" and she said it again. . . once again, no comprehension. Then she says "Don't you speak Spanish???" ummm. . . no. I don't speak Spanish, not a single lick of yet. Yes, that may seem horrible. How can I live in the U.S., where Hispanic-speaking people are the fastest growing population. Well, in my defense, I took French in high school . . . and I'm fluent in Mandarin. . . which means that I can communicate with over 25% of the world's population. So there.

Back to the salon though, after we cleared up that I don't speak Spanish, we had to clear up a whole nother issue. The beautician couldn't seem to comprehend that I wanted to cut off all my hair. Yes, all my hair, that's what I said like a million times. Are you sure she kept saying? Look, I've done this before. . . it's not that big of a deal. And if it's too short and I hate it all I have to do is give it a couple months and it won't be too short anymore. And besides, I figured she's a Dominican beautician, which my sister says are the best, so surely she won't screw up. Well as is usually the case, she finally agreed to do it, all the while looking apprehensive, and the lady in the chair next to me mourned for my lost hair. Please, I'm just happy to have a lighter head. . . at least now my head weighs 8 lbs. like everyone else instead of 12 lbs. In fact, I should step on the scale just to see how much weight I've lost.

In the end, it all worked out fine. My hair is all gone. . . yes, it's short like a boy. The stylist was actually really good, guess my sister really knows what she's talking about. I'm not sure if I love it or hate it. . . at the moment, I think I just need to get used to it. The girls seem to like it, and Robert really likes it. And isn't that what's most important? After all, he's the one who has to look at me everyday. Personally, I'm thinking it might be a little too short. But like I said, give it a couple of months and it'll be just right.

Pumpkin Carving

Well seeing as how it's only 10 days away from Halloween, we finally decided to carve some of those pumpkins hanging around the front of our house. We had 5 altogether, from the pumpkin pickings and what nots. I'm not entirely sure how the girls felt about the whole thing. Gabrielle thought the inside of the pumpkin was too slimy, and Leila just had a look on her face the whole time like "what the hell are you doing?" Anyway, at least now we have jack o lanterns. I thought Robert did a really good job!

Tuna Hot Pockets???

So one of the things that Robert and I enjoy eating, but don't eat often enough is tuna fish sandwiches. I love tuna fish sandwiches. But upon having kids, I realized that tuna fish was messy and difficult to eat. . . thereby involving more stress than pleasure. Well, Robert requested tuna melts for dinner today. . . which I don't blame him because I can't remember the last time I've had a good ole' tuna fish sandwich. But as dinner time rolled around, I realized that even though the girls surely seem old enough to eat sandwiches, they're not really. Leila has an inherent instinct to take apart every sandwich that I make for her. . . ham and cheese, sunbutter and jelly, grilled cheese and tomato. . .it doesn't matter what you put in the sandwich, she will inevitably take the thing apart, eat what she wants, and leave the rest just sitting there in a big pile on her plate. This has actually resulted in me buying the Pampered Chef cut-n-seal which basically seals the two pieces of bread together. It's become a total lifesaver and the sandwiches turn out really cute. . .like those frozen crustless Smuckers peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that I was addicted to when I was pregnant with Gabrielle. Anyway. . . I am just rambling on here. So my solution for getting the girls to eat their sandwiches. . .refrigerated croissant. . . you know the kind in the tube. I opened it up, rolled the seams together. Filled them with tuna fish mixture and cheese, folded them over, sealed them, and stuck em in the oven. They turned out looking a bit like giant pop-tarts. . .but hey, they got eaten!!! And Leila didn't even try to take them apart until the very end, when she was full and playing with her food. They were actually surprisingly good, even Robert enjoyed some. A case of desperation meeting ingenuity . . . at least I didn't have to yell at anyone tonight to stop opening up the sandwich and flinging tuna fish everywhere!

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Sigh of Relief

After the most hectic and whirlwind 10 days, I am finally breathing a sigh of relief. Visiting relatives, crazy birthday cakes, parties, traveling, and football games have all come to an end. And all at the mere price of a small loss of my sanity, a large gain of stress, a few hours of missing sleep, and one homework assignment that I somehow forgot to do. I woke up today and realized that outside of getting Gabrielle to school (which I did, but not on time), I didn't have much else to do. What a nice feeling! A normal day of running around after my kids, making dinner (homemade spaghetti sauce. . . still trying to use up those tomatoes), and all that other normal day-to-day stuff. . . that some would still think is a lot of stuff. I even watched T.V. during naptime! Sadly enough though. . . I'm also feeling a little empty. . . or perhaps lacking in goals. Maybe I should actually do my school work or clean my house that's a disaster after all of our activity. . . that's a good goal. I think the girls are happy to be home and have some peaceful moments. They're finally able to really enjoy all the toys that they got for their birthdays. . . which just makes the house even messier. But as long as they're happy, that's good enough for me. Anyhoo, here's some pics of them at the football game.

Friday, October 17, 2008


We're in Annapolis for the weekend for Robert's Class Reunion. I loved living in this city before, and I had hoped that would move here again, which has yet to happen as we have been in Connecticut for four years now. But I always love to come back and visit. Visiting here though has made me appreciate the relaxing and peaceful life that Groton has to offer. It's loud and crowded here, not like New York City, but still enough to be kind of annoying. There's cars everywhere, which is probably due to the fact that they're having a boat show going on, and it's Navy's Homecoming weekend. But still. . . too many cars and people for such narrow streets. I still love it here because it's beautiful, and there's so many places to eat and so many things to do. We actually got here this morning, and then we went to the Naval Academy in the afternoon to watch the parade. Gabrielle said that she loved going to the parade which is good because while it was going on, they both seemed a bit bored. And then we went to Three Brothers for dinner. Three Brothers has the BEST white pizza I've ever eaten. . . and I have eaten white pizzas at a lot of places. But every time we come here, I can't pass up the chance to eat some good white pizza. And it doesn't hurt that it's not a real big tourist spot. .. which means little crowd, and no waiting. Always a plus when you're out with two little kids.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another Year Older

Not me of course, but the girls. I now officially have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. It seems so strange to think that Gabrielle is 4. For some reason, that sounds like such a BIG number. FOUR!!!! And I guess Leila has decided that since she is now two, she will indeed play the part. We have hit the terrible two's with a punch. She's just downright awful sometimes. I see in her face the look of her trying to figure out just how many ways she can be both definat and needy all at the same time. On the one hand, she wants to be independent and do everything HER way, and on the other hand, she wants me to carry her everywhere we go. She's really going to need to get over that one soon though because 32 lbs is waaaaay to heavy for me carry around everywhere.

For their birthdays, I made them foods that they loved. For Gabrielle, that meant Scooby Dooby Doo macaroni and cheese, and deviled eggs. . . strange I know, but the girls love them some deviled eggs. And for Leila, I made pasta. . . which she loves in pretty much any variation. So I made chicken scallopine, which I love. Back when we used to live in places that had restaurants, I loved to go to Macaroni Grill and order chicken scallopine. Now, if I want it, I have to make it. And of course, Leila's dish came with a side of tomatoes, because let's face it, she thinks tomatoes are the most wonderful thing ever! Too bad we're down to about 20 tomatoes now. . .

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

Yesterday, Robert casually implied that he wanted pumpkin bread. Easy enough, I had all the ingrediants on hand, so I woke up this morning and whipped some up. One of the birthday gifts that Gabrielle received was a little baking set with a mini muffin pan, cake pan, bundt pan, loaf pan, and pie tart. She was super excited about the being able to bake something in them, so I decided to let her use them to make her own pumpkin bread. In the end, she actually made little pumpkin muffins, which her and Leila ate for breakfast, in addition to a little cake, a little bundt cake, and little loaf. She was so proud of her little creations. And she was so excited because she was like "I'm four now! So I get to bake things!"
My pumpkin loaf on the other hand, turned out very tasty but I was a little disappointed because I didn't do a very good job making a ribbon out of the cream cheese mixture and it turned more into a chunk of cream cheese in the middle of the slice of bread. Look, it looks like it's smiling at you!
After we got ourselves together, we went to the mall where the girls took birthday pictures and went to the Build A Bear store where they had received birthday coupons. I had thought they were just going to get some clothes for the bears they already had, but they ended up getting new bears instead. Correction, Gabrielle got a monkey and Leila got a kitty. (Gabrielle always corrects you if you call them bears.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Birthday Party!

Party day!!!!! The girls had a blast! In fact, I think everyone had fun. It was all good except for the birthday celebration part when Chuck E. Cheese (a big giant rat) came out. Then Leila lost it! She was so upset. Thinking back on it, Robert and I realized that we should've known that was gonna happen. Oh well. Once he finally went away again, everything was great again. I love having my mom here when the girls have their birthday because she is such a big help. Like at the party, Gabrielle went off with her Daddy, Leila went off with my mom, and I was able to attend to party details. I'll tell you what though, the Chuck E. Cheese around her needs to get a little bit more organized, because the first 30 minutes of the party, they were just a mess. They hadn't realized that there were two people celebrating birthdays and hadn't made Leila her balloon bouquet. And then my party host had never done this before so she pretty much didn't know what she was doing. And then it took them FOREVER to get tokens for the kids. . . like what else are they supposed to do without any tokens??? Oh well, in the end, I think it all went well. We didn't open gifts there because it was super chaotic. It was a holiday and schools were closed, so I think everybody was thinking "I"m going to take my kid to Chuck E. Cheese." So after they woke up from their naps, they opened their gifts and it was like having a whole nother party!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Cake At Last!

The girls' birthday cake is finally finished and I can say no more. I'm exhausted! Now I just need it to last the 10 hours until the birthday party. Okay, so a little bit more about the birthday cake. :-) Well I didn't have time to start decorating it until 8 at night, after the girls went to sleep. I gave myself until midnight to finish it, and I actually managed to finish at 11:30, so right on schedule. I was lucky that my mom was around to help me decorate. For those that want to know, the bottom of the cake is chocolate cake, and her dress is applesauce cake. The bottom of the cake is just covered and deorated in buttercream frosting. The flowers are buttercream frosting as well, and the pumpkins are made out of gumpaste. As for Cinderella, as I've said before, she's just a naked doll stuck into the cake which was made in a small Pampered Chef batter bowl as well as one 6 in round cake pan to give her a little more height. The cake was also covered in buttercream frosting before being covered in marshmallow fondant. Her entire outfit is made out of marshmallow fondant, and then I painted her with shimmer dust, which you can't really tell in the picture. It sounds like it was so easy to make when I describe it, so how come it took me soooo long to finish it?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mystic Pizza

Since Grandpa was here to visit today, this became the unofficial beginning of the girls' birthday celebrations. We went to pick apples this morning, which is always fun. . . and something Grandpa had never done before! We even rode in the tractor which we've actually never done before. Then they each got to pick two little pumpkins, so now we have a family of pumpkins outside of our door. Then off to the toy store where they each got to pick out a birthday gift from Grandpa! Woohoo! A battery-operated mixer for Gabrielle, and although Leila tried to get a $40 crib for her baby dolls, she had to suffice with a stroller instead. Who buys $40 cribs for baby dolls anyway? Call me cheap, but I thought that was absurd. Her baby can sleep in a stroller just as well. By the time we left the toy store, Gabrielle said that she was hungry and wanted to go eat at a restaurant that had pizza and was called Mystic Pizza. She cracks me up. Mystic Pizza is pretty much her favorite restaurant. We've taken pretty much every visiting relative there, and have gone on more than one occasion just to go eat. She always orders the same thing too. . . mozzeralla sticks and pepperoni pizza, which is never a problem with me because she always eats it!

Now Grandpa is gone but my mom is coming tomorrow. And I still need to make that gosh darn cake!

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Tomato A Day. . .

I know that I have already talked about the absurd amount of tomatoes I have sitting next to the window in my house. But I guess my kids can't read because until today, they haven't really seemed to notice them. Or maybe they saw them, but they just didn't care. Well today Leila had a moment to herself alone downstairs, while I was upstairs. And when I went downstairs, there she was standing in front of the table of tomatoes, noshing on one. I guess she had noticed that they were starting to ripen, and thought that they looked really good. She ate it like an apple, which I think is kinda bizarre -- especially cause she doesn't really eat apples. I guess you could say that she doesn't like them. But she sure does like tomatoes. She chowed down on that thing, and even had tomato juice dripping down her arms. Then I took it from her so that I could cut the top part off, and she says "No Mommy! Don't cut it!" That girl can really talk. She just wanted to eat her tomato like an apple. And since one tomato a day just isn't enough, I made a double batch of my "famous" tomato-basil soup, which is like a gallon of soup! But now, after giving some away, and eating some for dinner (which is always a hit because even Gabrielle detests tomatoes, she loves tomato soup because according to her "there's no tomatoes in them."), there's really only a little bit left. Robert's dad is in town to see the girls, and this was his first time ever having tomato soup! Isn't that unbelievable? But guess what? Even after all that soup making, I still have about 90 tomatoes left!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Countdown to the Birthdays!

Well, we are 9 days into October, and I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to make it to Halloween. As I always tell everyone, October is the busiest month of the year for me. Four years ago, I had a baby on the 14th of October (Gabrielle). Then two year later (or two years ago, depending on how you wanna look at that), I had another baby in October this time on the 15th (Leila). That's right, the girls' birthdays are a day apart. So this is my only opportunity during the year to throw a birthday party, which I think makes me go a little overboard. Last year, they had separate but joint birthday parties. Two themes -- Gabrielle had a Hello Kitty party and Leila had a Rubber Ducky party, two cakes, just all at the same time. I'm sure you can only imagine the madness in my house. Well this year I'm taking the easy route -- Chuck E. Cheese. I feel like such a cheater, but I take three college courses in addition to everything else that goes on in this house, so I knew I just wouldn't have the time to plan a party like I want. But I'm still making the birthday cake. I couldn't give up my opportunity to decorate a cake, which would be a hobby of mine if there were more opportunities for me to make them. And besides, I don't trust any bakery to make a cake for Leila -- who knows what could accidently end up in it. Well Gabrielle decided on a Cinderella cake, which seems easy enough -- except I've been having a really hard time making final decisions on how I want it to look. So today I did a practice run on the Cinderalla part of the cake. For their birthdays, she will be standing on top of another cake because Gabrielle loves chocolate cake, and Leila hates chocolate. I was really pleased with the flavor of the cake, which was just Betty Crocker yellow cake mix, made with applesauce and apple cider. I thought that really put a neat twist on it, cause let's face it, yellow cake is boring. I wasn't quite as pleased with how the marshmallow fondant turned out, but in my defense, this was my first time working with it, and isn't that why we practice? The color didn't turn out quite right, but I've fixed that for the batch that I am going to use on the cake. But I guess for a practice run, it's not too bad right? If it was just supposed to be a princess, and not necessarily Cinderella, then it would be pretty good. I was pretty intrigued by the marshmallow fondant because like I said, this was my first time making it and working with it. It's basically just marshmallows and powdered sugar, with some water and vanilla flavoring. It has a really interesting consistency that I guess could be equated to play-doh, except I found it to be not quite as pliable. And oh my gosh, kneading that stuff is like a work out! Amazingly enough, the girls actually thought it tastes good which is a surprise because Gabrielle refuses to eat marshmallows (I think she has issues with the consistency of it) and it really is just nothing but sugar. And I finally decided that I am going to put pumpkins on the cake because after all she's got a pumpkin in her story and it is October. So this afternoon, I got to forming some pumpkins out of gum paste. This was also my first time working with gum paste, but I found it to be really enjoyable. Unfortunately, I've never been good at making things out of play-doh and I think that skill would've been a bonus here. I let Gabrielle play with some extra left-over, and she sat at the table for an hour making all sorts of things! Even Copper thought the gum paste was great because everytime the girls would drop some on the floor, he'd come over and lick it up. In the end, I am going to put the pumpkins on the cake along with some mice, doves, and flowers. I am really hoping that I do a better job on the real deal. But at least now I know what to expect. BTW, if you think the pumpkins look really stupid, please tell me. I'd rather do without that have them look dumb.

I should be sleeping. . .

But instead, I'm blogging. Why? I guess because I think I'll sleep better after I type what it is that I need to say. Not that I need to say much. Had a little get together at my house, which is basically just an excuse to cook, eat, chat (like us ladies do), and stay up late. :-) I didn't really go too overboard today. Just some spinach-artichoke dip, fried tortellinis, and a cafe caramel cake - which seems to be like an easy, Americanized version of tiramisu -- I guess. I feel like I should be blogging about the cake because I'm not gonna lie to you, that cake is GOOD! I got the recipe out of one of those Betty Crocker cookbooks that you end up buying while waiting in line to pay for your groceries because the front picture alone looks good enough to eat. And while there are a lot of other recipes in that book, I just keep coming back to this one. Maybe because it's just so darn good. Cake, coffee, dulce de leche, dark rum, whipped cream -- how can you go wrong?

But I've really been thinking lately just how much I love my deep fryer. Yeah, you read it right. I love my deep fryer. I'm bizarre, I know. The deep fryer first came to me by way of a gift. It was actually my mother-in-law's gift to us for our wedding anniversary last year. And while that does seem like a strange thing to give a couple to celebrate their wedding, I sure wasn't complaining. I'd been wanting one for quite a while. And let's be honest here, ever since I've started fryin up stuff, Robert hasn't been complaining either. Of course, I fry the normal stuff like chicken, french fries and onion rings, and I fry the fair foods like funnel cake and corndogs, and I fry the traditional southern favorites like okra and green tomatoes, and then I just start to wander off the map from there -- fried pickles, fried green beans, fried sweet potatoes, fried tortellinis. And now I'm starting to wander, can a person become addicted to frying? Am I gonna be one of those crazy ladies you see on T.V. ten years from now frying twinkies and chocolate chip cookies? They'll be calling me "The Fry Lady." Maybe I should start cutting down on the frying. After all, those tortellinis weren't really all that great. But they sure do look yummy, don't they?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Inconvenient Truth

Lately Robert has seemed to take pleasure in a new found hobby -- reminding me that there are no more babies in this house. I am often predisposed to call Leila "the baby" because, well because she is the baby in this house. For a while, she was a baby. And as far as I am concerned, she will always be my baby. But Robert is pointing out the regretable truth -- that the girls are getting older, bigger, more independent, yadda, yadda, yadda. And we're not having any more babies. This is it for us. Today was another cruel reminder of the inescapable. To add to the list of Gabrielle's "firsts" like first day of school, first dance class without me, you get the point. Well today was Gabrielle's first ride in a school bus AND first field trip. Are 3 year olds even big enough to ride on a bus? And you know, those things don't have seatbelts! Well, I met her at the pumpkin patch, and when I asked her how the bus ride was, she said, "Good, they even have little seats for us little kids." Of course, Gabrielle wasn't half as excited as Leila was. All day long, Leila kept talking about how Gabrielle rode the bus. And when Robert came home and asked how their day was, Leila's response was that Gabrielle rode the bus. She's even more eager to get away from me than Gabrielle was. She spends every morning devising new schemes to see how she can sneak into Gabrielle's classroom with her -- as if I wouldn't notice she was missing. What she doesn't realize is that she'll off to school before she knows it. And then where would that leave me? Babyless, that's where.

On another note -- I've realized today that Robert must lead an extremely volatile life to be stuck in a house with three females.

Too Much of a Good Thing

There can definately be too much of a good thing. Like say for example, tomatoes. Prior to this year, I have never been much of a gardener. Infact, Robert said I had a black thumb because everything that he gave me would die, except for this one plant that he gave me almost 6 years ago -- it's still alive. Which is amazing because I've moved like six times with it. Anyway, earlier this year Jessica inspired me to find my green thumb when she charged me with the care of her Aerogarden, which at the time had herbs growing in it. After that I decided to try my hand at some tomato plants. Which I have to admit, may have gotten a little out of control. I planted all of the plants from seeds, and I didn't want to get rid of any of the little seedlings after they sprouted. By summer, there were ten tomato plants in pots outside of my house. Two of them were even hanging upside down in pots from a tree in my yard. It's been an interesting experience with them. I'm just glad that we don't pay for water because they sure do use a lot of it. And who knew that tomatoes attract the BIGGEST caterpillars I've ever seen in my life! BTW, that picture is practically life-size! I thought they were going to be the end of my tomato plants for sure. But they survived and we managed the whole summer. I got a lot of good tomatoes off of them too -- grape, Roma, Better Bush, and the very large Beefsteak. It's been good tomato eating at our house for everyone, except Gabrielle who detests tomatoes. Well anyway, now that it's October and it gets down to the 40's at night, I decided to pick off the rest of the tomatoes that were still on the plants in hopes that they may still ripen in the house. Little did I know that the rest amounted to 112 tomoates! What the heck am I gonna do with all of these? Like I said, too much of a good thing -- like unripened tomatoes. Did I mention that I know have tomatoes growing in the aerogarden too? :-P

Monday, October 6, 2008

Personal Nudist Colony *or* My Home, the Zoo

I am sure that it is often said that in a househould with young children, there is NEVER a dull moment.  I tend to concur.  But I usually think of nap time in our house as downtime, which Mommy desperately needs in order to maintain her calm & cool composure for the rest of the day.  Leila usually goes to sleep during nap time because she needs the sleep, but Gabrielle usually plays in her bed.  As long as she's quiet, it doesn't bother me.  1:30-3:00 pm. . . every day. .. nap time! 
So today at 1:30, I did like I do everyday, and put the kids to bed.  Then I went to frantically rummaging through their toy boxes, taking out toys that they don't play with because next week, when their birthdays come, we will once again have too many toys.  At 3 o'clock I went to go get Gabrielle.  She's was awake, which is par for her, but her lovey, Sprinkles, was on the floor.  When I went to go pick it up, it was wet!  I say, "Why is Sprinkles wet Gabrielle?"  She says, "Oh, that's just slobber."  I say, "Oh."  She says, "Yeah, I was just giving him a bath."  What???? Our we monkeys, or mice, or cats or something?  She was giving her stuffed animal a spit bath.  Great.  I gently remind her that if Sprinkles needs a bath, I will put him in the washing machine, which is exactly where he ended up.
Now I usually let Leila sleep until she wakes up, so a little while later, Robert hears some noise coming from her room, so I go and get her.  Upon opening the door, and assessing the scene, all I could say was "ROBERT!"  Basically, Leila had been wearing a dress today, so I let her take a nap with just a dress on -- no tights or leggings.  Well I guess Leila didn't really feel like wearing her diaper either, because there she was on the bed, sitting on her pillow, with her diaper on the floor.  And believe me, the way she was sitting was making it very clear that she was totally bare bottom.  As soon as I opened the door, she started complaining about the fact that she had dropped her paci between the bed and the wall and couldn't reach it.  So that's all she kept talking about -- not at all about the fact that she had taken off her diaper and thrown it on the floor, or about how she had decided that her babies shouldn't wear clothes either and so had taken all the clothes off of every baby and stuffed animal that was wearing any, or even about the fact that she wears diapers for a reason and had peed in her bed.  Oh no, she just kept going on and on about her paci.  Now she has given us clues in the past that she is partial to walking around bare bottom -- like the time I went out with Jessica and the sitter called to tell me that Leila had taken off her diaper and had peed on the floor, and then refused to put the diaper back on.  But this is just taking it to the extreme!  I opened the door to her room, and BAM my own personal nudist colony of baby, dolls, and stuffed animals!  And since they all got peed on, they ended up in the washing machine with Gabrielle's Sprinkles.
Now to top it all off, my dog, Copper, randomly decided to pee on the floor upstairs as well. . . which just makes me wonder, am I running a home or a zoo here anyway?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pearl's Delicious Korean!

Tonight was my lucky night because my friend/neighbor, Pearl, who happens to be Korean invited us over for dinner. I loooooove Korean food. Robert loooooooves Korean food. And the girls looooooove Korean food. So I knew this was going to be good. But I didn't know just how good it was going to be until I got there. She truly outdid herself! When we got there, her husband was out on the grill, grilling up some Galbi and some spicy marinated pork.

To go along with the meat, she'd made a whole array of sides like chapchae, which is a fabulous noodle dish where the noodles are made out of sweet potato starch. This was Gabrielle's favorite. She had seconds and ate it all!

Pictured here is a combination platter of meat jun and saeng sun jun, which are like fried meat and fish patties. Delicious! I think the meat jun was Leila's favorite.

There were also some watercress which was kind of like a salad, bean sprout salad, and homemade kim chi, both napa cabbage and radish.

It was all soooo good! We all stuffed ourselves. And because I feel bad if I go eat at someone's house without contributing, I made something that I knew Pearl likes. . . sesame balls!
You couldn't eat this good at a restaurant. I sure do hope Pearl invites us over for dinner again. :-)

Autumnal Apples

Well it's officially autumn again, which means it's apple season. And apple season around here in Connecticut is pretty big. We have an orchard down the street from my house that has like 15 varieties of apples available for picking. Now I'm not much of an apple eater myself, but I LOVE apple cider (and Holmberg has some of the best I've ever had) and Gabrielle eats apples up like candy. But I think everyone's kind of getting sick of them because we've had 10 apples that have been sitting around pretty much all week. So this morning I woke up determined to use them. My results: a breakfast of puffed apple pancakes and apple filled crepes. This was my first time making them both. I thought the puffed apple pancake was pretty good (although by the time I took the picture, it wasn't so puffy anymore), but the girls REALLY liked the crepes. You can't see in the picture, but I made a filling of apples, brown sugar, butter, cornstarch, and little bit of orange liquer. I feel like the orange liquer really woke them up and gave them a great flavor.

Ihad some crepe batter left over, so I decided to cook it up and fill them with a honey cheese mixture made of cream cheese, honey, a little milk, and a dash of anise powder. The crepes could have afforded to have been cooked a little longer, but with the filling, they still made a nice little after-breakfast dessert. Do people eat dessert after breakfast? I guess we do in my family.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fried Turkey!!!

A couple of weeks ago, Robert and I were watching Alton Brown's show, Good Eats, on the Food Network. We watch A LOT of Food Network, which is good because it inspires me, but bad because everything always looks so good and I always just want to make whatever they're making just so I can see how it tastes. Anyway, back to the subject, Alton Brown was talking about how to fry a turkey for Thanksgiving. Now, I know this may be hard to believe, but I've never had a fried turkey. I've had roasted turkey, smoked turkey, and even turducken (another blog), but never fried. His turkey looked so good that it made me want to try it. But I didn't really want to make an entire turkey, so I bought a package of turkey legs and a package of turkey breasts. Then I did like good ole' Alton said and soaked it in some homemade brine (water, salt, & brown sugar) and fried em up at 350 degrees. And man were they good. I was kind of worried cause we were just frying pieces, but it worked out great! And everybody loved it!

And to go with my turkey, I made this recipe I found for savory pumpkin balls, which is made from canned pumpkin, onions, garlic, and bread crumbs. I know it sounds weird, but they were actually really tasty, although hard to describe. Robert says they tasted like baked hush puppies. And since I had a some pumpkin left over, I made a little pumpkin casserole (think pumpkin pie without the crust) which Gabrielle described as "melting in your mouth." And to round it all up, we had some slices of beer bread on the side. And for those who don't know, it's just like the name says, bread made with beer. So good!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Warning: Not About Food!

I've recently discovered that Gabrielle (turning 4 in 12 days) is a bit of a smart ass.  She's got a wise crack or smart response to everything that you say to her.  Now some may say that she's just precocious, but I would argue that isn't that pretty much the same thing?  Smart ass, that's what she is.  Now usually she doesn't bother me much because I've become used to her interjections and two cents worth. . . but sometimes she REALLY irks me.  Now to go along with this personality trait is the fact that she pretty much thinks that she know EVERYTHING, and doesn't take much to you trying to tell her something.  After all, she already knows that (a line I have heard on more than one occasion).
Well, this morning I dropped her off for school, and it turned out that her teacher Mrs. Robert (who rarely has much to say about Gabrielle in class) actually had something to say.  It turns out that Gabrielle and Mrs. Robert have been participating in an ongoing debate on the acceptable way to sit in the chair at school.  Mrs. Robert reported that Gabrielle likes to sit in their little chairs on her knees and then stick her feet through the hole in the back.  She's been telling Gabrielle not to sit in the sit like that because she'll tip the chair over and hurt herself.  Gabrielle proceeded to inform Mrs. Robert that it was okay because she wouldn't fall over.  Then Mrs. Robert reminded her that she's already tipped it over once before (first time I'd heard about this) and that she had hurt her stomach.  Well, then Gabrielle said "yes, but it didn't hurt that bad or last that long."  This girl has an answer for everything!  Wouldn't a simple "okay" suffice?  Not with Gabrielle though.  Mrs. Robert wondered if Gabrielle had said anything at home about it because I guess Mrs. Robert says they are being very "firm" on the issue.  Nope, Gabrielle's never said a word about it which probably means Mrs. Robert isn't being half as firm as Mommy is.  I guess it had never occurred to me that Gabrielle's personality at home was the same one that she has at school, and everywhere else for that matter.  Which means I kinda feel sorry for every teacher that she's going to come across because even though I am generally grateful for her precocious nature, I (more than anyone) know just how annoying it can be sometimes.