Tuesday, August 30, 2011

School starts tomorrow...

...and this seems just about right ;o)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ice Cream Social

Our teachers start back to work tomorrow and, while I know they are anxious to come back, there is also that 'back to work' dread. For a little pick-me-up, I decided that it might be fun to have an ice cream social about 2:00 p.m. Tuesday. They'll be working hard in their classrooms at that time, getting ready for all of the students who will arrive on Wednesday. It's going to be another hot week, so I thought the ice cream social would be a welcome distraction and a fun break from the heat.

So far I've purchased root beer and grape soda for floats and mini chocolate chips, Heath bar chunks and Ande's candies bits for sundaes. Oh and of course, chocolate sprinkles. I need to get hot fudge and caramel; fresh bananas and cut up the fresh strawberries I have; oatmeal, sugar and chocolate chip cookies for those who would like to make ice cream sandwiches; whipped cream; and, of course the star of the show, ice cream! I'm thinking just two flavors - vanilla and chocolate - but lots of it. Mmmmmm. Sounds good to me! I can't wait - hope everyone enjoys it as much as I will!

Dinner for Breakfast

Wait a minute - what time is it?

We often have breakfast for dinner, but not dinner for breakfast! Okay, well technically we didn't actually 'have' dinner for breakfast, but I did make dinner at breakfast time.

This summer has been very mild, in terms of temperature. We had many days that were below normal temperatures - which suit us just fine! But now that it's time for school to start, we're having a heat wave. Of course! And wouldn't you know it, it's just when I've started back with my menus - nearly all of which include at least the stove if not the oven. Yay.

To combat the heat/cooking dinner dilemma, this week I made dinner at breakfast time! That is to say that, in the evening, I would prepare the next day's dinner. Then in the morning when we got up to walk, I'd pre-heat the oven and by the time we got back, I'd put the meal in the oven and let it bake before we went to work. That way, we'd have a nice, home-cooked meal at dinner without having to heat up the house to cook! It worked out perfectly!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fantasia at the Hollywood Bowl

Last night was our last HB concert of the season. I'm sad about that - I absolutely LOVE the Hollywood Bowl season. Honestly I can think of nothing I love more than sitting outside on a summer's evening enjoying a picnic and fabulous music with family and friends. Life just doesn't get any better than that. I always look forward to the season and can hardly wait to see what's on the calendar for the summer! Alas, I guess I'll have to wait until next spring =(

That said, we had a great time last night! There were several factors that made last night really wonderful. First, of course the food and company were spectacular. And come on - Fantasia accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra? - how bad can that be?? And last, but not least, a sentimental favorite: the orchestra was conducted last night by John Mauceri - former principal conductor at the Hollywood Bowl from 1991-2006. The show was amazing! The HB Orchestra is phenomenal - none better. They even snuck in some fireworks during the last piece. So cool!

Dinner was simple, but delicious! Cold Thai noodles and Asian Chicken Salad - mmmmm - delish! For dessert, choices of lemon cake, coconut pecan cookies and trail mix cookies. The wine? Why Cupcake Red Velvet, of course! Here are a few pics of last night's show:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Menu Planning

A little planning goes a long way ... and makes my life SO MUCH EASIER.

8/18/11 thru 9/2/11
Thursday 8/18 – our 10th wedding anniversary – dinner at the Derby
Friday 8/19 – leftovers from last night's dinner
Saturday 8/20 – Hollywood Bowl potluck (we're making Asian chicken noodle salad)
Sunday 8/21 – chicken and dumplings, steamed green beans
Monday 8/22 – pulled pork chili, warm buttered flour tortillas
Tuesday 8/23 – roasted chicken and sweet potatoes, steamed baby squash
Wednesday 8/24 – pepper-jack macaroni and cheese, sauteed fresh spinach
Thursday 8/25 – clean out the fridge (lefty-overs) night
Friday 8/26 – soup (tomato or French onion) and sandwiches (grilled cheese or lunchmeat)
Saturday 8/27 – tacos or fajitas with all of the fixings, rice, guacamole
Sunday 8/28 – crockpot swiss steak, egg noodles, steamed broccoli crowns
Monday 8/29 – apricot glazed chicken breasts, rice, sauteed brussles sprouts
Tuesday 8/30 – spaghetti with sausage marinara, garlic bread
Wednesday 8/31 – grilled brats, caramelized onions, german potato salad
Thursday 9/1 – clean out the fridge (lefty-overs) night
Friday 9/2 – pizza and rootbeer

Friday, August 19, 2011

Our New Favorite Dessert

Bananas Foster ...sort of (no alcohol version)
(Serves 2)

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bananas, sliced
2 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
whipped cream topping

Melt butter in a small saute pan; add brown sugar and stir until well combined. Add sliced bananas and stir until bananas are warmed through. Place ice cream in a bowl and top with the banana mixture. Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Devour.

A Rant

When did it become acceptable to wear worn and faded jeans, a less-than-clean cotton T-shirt (undershirt style) and a backwards baseball cap to a fine dining restaurant? Was I absent the day they changed the rules on this?

Last night for our anniversary, Kevin and I went to a well-established, long-historied fine dining restaurant in Arcadia. It opened it's doors in 1922 and has been 'the' go-to fancy restaurant in the area for decades. I've been going to this restaurant since I was a child and it's always been the same: lush, well maintained, elegant - one of the very few old steakhouses left. And as such, diners has always been appropriately attired. I'm not talking about evening gowns and tuxedos by any means, but certainly gentlemen wear slacks and at least a collared shirt, and ladies wear dresses or upscale separates that are appropriate to the occasion.

About halfway through the evening as we dined our fine meal, in walks a man somewhere in his late twenties/early thirties - old enough to know better. He was wearing faded jeans, a ratty T-shirt and a backwards baseball cap. We were both pretty shocked, but thought he was at least going to sit in the bar. Nope. Grabbed himself a prime seat, right smack in the middle of the restaurant. We couldn't help thinking to ourselves: Really? You couldn't go home, clean up and change into decent clothes for your $100.00plus meal? How nice that you decided to share your grunginess with all of us who bothered to shower and dress appropriately. Hrmph.

Elitest? Maybe. Call me old fashioned by I still believe there is a place and time for everything. For the most part I have no problem with casual - it's appropriate in many cases. However, that particular restaurant is not one of them. If you go out looking like you're ready to chowdown on some wings, swish a coupla beers and watch the game, fine ... but do the right thing and drive a couple of block down the street and do so at Chili's.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wedding Anniversary

I'm the luckiest girl in the world: I've been married to my best friend for ten years. TEN YEARS. How did 10 years go by so quickly?

Tonight Kevin and I relived our wedding day. We had such fun playing 'our' songs, reading all of our cards and pages in our guest book, looking at all of the response cards we received and meandering through our wedding album looking at all of our photos. My goodness - what a fun walk down memory lane! We'd see a photo and smile and laugh and say 'Remember when ____' - Pat played harmonica with the band; Drew tried to take a picture with the camera turned the wrong way and the flash went off in his face (poor little guy!); Brian got choked up making a heartfelt toast to the bride and groom; you (Kevin) sang our first dance song to me acapella; mom drew an adorable 'Just Married!' poster to put on our car as we drove away. Such warm, sweet, amazing memories.

One night ten years ago, we pledged our love and our lives to each other. It was just one night, but THE one night that would change our lives forever. And change it has. I thought I knew what happiness was - and that I was happy. And I was, I guess, at least to a degree. But after we married, I truly did find happiness. And what I'd thought was happiness before, well, there was no comparison. Not by a long shot.

Kevin - my dearest, sweetest love: I love you with all my heart with a love that grows each and every day we are together as man and wife. You make my life complete. And on this our 10th wedding anniversary, I have just one question for you: will you please always be the Pepsi in my Sangria?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Huntington Library

Four evenings each summer, Huntington Library holds Member's Only musical events. It's fabulous! You can take your picnic, spread a blanket out on the lawn and enjoy some nice music in an unbeatable environment - for FREE. Well, as long as you're members it's free.

Kevin and I have been members for years. We don't go nearly as often as we should, still, I think the money is well spent. It's going to preserve a truly precious entity. If you're visiting the Los Angeles area and you've never been to Huntington Library, it's definitely a 'must see'.

Anyway, last night was one of the Member's Only evenings at the Library and we went. My mother-in-law, Vicky, came with us (members may bring guests with them; guests pay a small fee to get in), and we all had a great time! A simple picnic of roast chicken, angel hair pasta with fresh garden tomatoes and basil with garlic and olive oil, bread and brie with apricot jam. Oh, and a bottle of vino, of course! Mmmmmm...it was delish!

We all commented on how this outing is far different than our normal Hollywood Bowl outings. The music at the Huntington, though live, is really designed more to be background music, whereas the music at the Bowl is designed to be the 'event'. Last night's main 'event' was picnicking and visiting ... while some nice music played in the background. Both are equally enjoyable, they're just different.
Next weekend we're off to our last show at the Hollywood Bowl. Boo, hiss - that means that summer really IS nearly over. Sigh.

Friday, August 12, 2011

...and the living is easy

Is there any more perfect dessert for a warm summer's evening than a cold, creamy, delicious rootbeer float?

I think not.

Money Down the Drain

Well, maybe not exactly, but it sure feels like it.

Now that summer is over and we've both gone back to work, I absolutely have to get back into making my weekly menus. I do so well with them for the majority of the year, and then June and July hit and - POOF - those menus just seem to disappear. And, when they disappear, so does our money.

For instance, last night we decided to go to Panera. We both absolutely love Panera and, while it's technically 'fast food' - it kind of isn't. It's healthier than most fast food for one thing, and we both think it's just far better quality. Of course, that also means that it's more expensive, too. We each got the "You Pick Two" meal; I had a small bowl of lemon chicken orzo soup (outstanding!) and a small fuji apple chicken salad, and Kevin had half of a turkey sandwich and the same kind of small salad as I had. We also each bought a cinnamon crunch bagel for breakfast this morning, and a small container of hazelnut cream cheese. We just had water to drink. Our bill came to $24.11. OUCH! That's for just four meals!! As good as it was, this kind of makes me sick to think about --- so much money for so few meals.

So, this morning I made a meal plan (still in my head, need to write it down when I finish this post!) and went grocery shopping. I bought enough food for the two of us for a minimum of 9 days. I say minimum because some of the things I bought will last longer than that and will be parts of other meals in the future. I thought I'd use the 9 day figure to give a conservative estimate. So - 3 meals a day X 9 days = 27 meals. I used two $10.00 off coupons with my grocery order, so I purchased $107.64 worth of food for $87.64. So ... $87.64 divided by 27 equals just $3.25 per meal! Now that is just a HUGE difference from what we spend when we go out. Kind of sickening, isn't it?

It definitely makes we want to not go out to eat for a while. (Disclaimer: we will go out next Thursday to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, but that will be it for quite some time!)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Turn off the TV!!

Last night while channel surfing, we came to the conclusion that, well, TV stinks! Not always, but often. We find ourselves cruising with the remote control only to find there is not one darn thing worth watching. We just couldn't take it any longer and shut the darn thing off.

Instead, we decided to stretch our brains and play Scrabble =) I always forget how much I love that game; Kevin does, too. We didn't even keep score, we just had fun filling in the Scrabble board. By the end, we'd used every single tile! Now that's a rarity! ... at least it is for us!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Dow Plunges More Than 600


This kinda says it all ...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Mmmm ... Lasagna!

Doesn't that just look soooo good!

I was watching the news this week and someone was making lasagna during a cooking segment. I just couldn't get it out of my head, and decided that I had to make lasagna this weekend.

If you've ever made lasagna, you know that, though it's not difficult, it is definitely messy. Having three things going at once - the sauce, the noodles, and the ricotta filling - certainly keeps you on your toes. Not to mention the number of pans and utensils used. Whew! (Thanks, honey, for cleaning up my mess!)

Because it's messy and labor intensive, I'd never make just one lasagna. I figure if I'm going to mess up the kitchen to that extent, I'd better make it worth my while! Sooo ... the end result? One small-ish (enough for dinner one night, and lunch leftovers the next day) pan for this week, and two larger (enough for dinner one night and lunch leftovers for two days, or dinner twice and lunch once) pans for the freezer.

I *LOVE* knowing I've got good home-cooked meals in the freezer for nights I just don't feel like cooking. It certainly makes facing the weeknight dinner dilemma a bit easier to swallow ;o)

Friday, August 05, 2011

Getting Back to Normal

I mentioned earlier that I am already back to work. I started this past Monday, so I've already tackled my first week back. YAY! The first one is always the most difficult!

Actually, it's not bad at all. We sort of 'ease' our way back in - working only four days a week and taking Friday off. I wouldn't mind that as a regular schedule! But, working for a school, that's just never going to happen. Ah, well - our bank account will be happy to get back to receiving our twice-monthly paychecks! Kevin starts back this upcoming week - Wednesday - so he'll be getting back to the routine, too.

Going back to work at the end of the summer means that fall is just around the corner. YAHOO! I'm definitely a fall girl - it's my absolute favorite season. Soon we'll be making pots full of soups and stews and cuddling up with books, puzzles and movies indoors. A pumpkin festival here, maybe a hayride there (hard to find in this neck of the woods!), and of course, lots of fresh apple cider.

For now, though, I'm content to settle back into a comfy routine and bid the last of summer a fond farewell. It's been a great one!

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Deb and the boys spent the night and a couple of days at mom and dad's this week. I'm already back at work (how did that happen?), and Kevin's been working the Pony Palomino World Series tournament since late last week. It's been a busy time!

Deb called us Wednesday night to see if we wanted to meet them at the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain for ice cream. Ice cream? Us? ABSOLUTLEY!

If you've never been to the fabulous vintage soda fountain, you must put it on your to-do list. It's such an old fashioned, charming step back in time. The pharmacy has been there since 1915 - and it's still an active pharmacy, but the big draw is the soda fountain. A number of years ago, the man who bought the pharmacy somewhere along the way, decided to incorporate a soda fountain into the pharmacy. Lo and behold, he found an in-tact vintage soda fountain in Joplin, Missouri, and had it shipped out here. And here it has remained - and thrived, I might add! When we went on Wednesday, the place was packed! And, if you're an ice cream lover, you'll not be disappointed in the selection of flavors, or the myriad choices of concoctions on the menu.

Deb and Drew had the classic hot fudge sundae; I enjoyed a rootbeer float; Kevin and Pat were a little more adventurous in their selection with a Banana Blitz and a Banana Royal. The soda 'jerk' (and I use that affectionately - he was great!) was kind enough to suggest making a smaller-sized version of each of these behemoth delights. Great suggestion! By the time we left, we were all absolutely stuffed - with ice cream, nostalgia, and fun =)

Thanks for treating, Deb!