Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Were you surprised?

The other day I had the most hilarious conversation with one of our kids at school. He's a wonderful child who has some challenges, but is a true delight. He checks in with me a couple of times a week - usually in the mornings before school starts, but sometimes during break time, or when school is out. Sometimes he's not in much of a talking mood and will just sit down and read, but sometimes he's quite the talker.

What follows is the conversation we had just a few days ago:

Him "What are you going to be for Halloween?"

Me "I can't tell you now or it won't be a surprise!"

Him "I HATE surprises."

Me "Well then, don't think of it as a 'surprise'. Just think of it as 'not knowing', then when you come in the office on Halloween, you can see for yourself. It's not like I'll jump out and say 'BOO!' or anything."

No reply. A few minutes pass and I asked him...

Me "So what are you going to be for Halloween?"

He waited for a few moments and then replied...

Him "Do you like surprises?"

Me "Of course!"

Him "Well then I'm not going to tell you."

I absolutely cracked up! The funniest thing about the conversation is that he was just so deadpan. He wasn't trying to be a smart aleck, or funny --- it's just his thought process and how his mind works.

I can't wait to see what he's going to wear next week for Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

For Peet's Sake

Deb and I are trying to get back into the swing of having our monthly girls' day again. We've done pretty well over the last few months, and I'm so glad - I've missed having them!

Last Saturday we had girls' day here. We started off by attending the Central Library's Second Saturday book sale. Just as it sounds, the second Saturday of every month, there is a book sale on the library patio. I've known about it for several years, but so far, hadn't made it to one of the sales ... until last week.

What a great event! They had thousands of books, many of them were just like new --- I honestly don't even think some of them had ever been read. We scored big time. We both took away a heavy Trader Joe's bag filled with great books for the paltry sum of just $13.00 ($13.50 for Deb, that spendthrift!).

After the library we headed downtown to a "Taste of..." event. You know the kind - the type of thing where a particular area showcases the variety of restaurants it has. You can go to the various booths and get a taste of this for a buck, then another booth for a taste of that, and so on. They also had several other vendors where we collected some fun freebies. We were looking for something to hold all of our goodies when I spied a woman walking around with a reusable grocery bag that was clearly from the event. I asked her where she'd gotten it and she pointed in the general direction, so off we went looking for a free bag to hold all of our other freebies. When we got to the booth, they asked us to complete a brief survey about the area of town we were in; how often do you frequent the area; What method of transportation do you use to get here; etc. We happily completed the survey and were awarded our grocery bag.

A bit later after we'd gathered a few tastes, we found a place to sit and eat our goodies. They had different groups on stage playing various kinds of music throughout the day and we found ourselves not far from the main stage. Shortly after we sat down, the band took a break and a woman took over the microphone stating that they were going to being drawing names for prizes. Deb and I commented to each other that we hadn't been to enough booths to enter any of the drawings, so we figured listening for our names was rather silly. NOT! You had to be present to win, so when they called a name and no one came up, they assumed the person had already left the event and went on to draw another name. After a couple of minutes we were both only half listening to the announcer and were SHOCKED to hear her call my name! Apparently they were pulling winners from the survey we'd completed to get our free grocery bag! I jumped up waving my hand and made my way to the stage where I was awarded a certificate entitling me to a YEARS WORTH OF PEET'S COFFEE!! Now I ask you, how cool is that? I LOVE Peet's coffee, but rarely ever buy it because it's so expensive! The certificate is good for one pound of coffee per month, or half a pound of tea per month, for 12 months. YAY-HOOOO! What a very special treat!

Deb was teasing me saying "Of course you would win, when we heard HER name being announced. She won a gift certificate to a wonderful (can you say Dianne salad?!) local restaurant! We couldn't believe our luck. How funny that both of our names should be chosen in that prize drawing! We enjoyed a couple more 'tastes' before leaving the venue. We figured our luck wouldn't get much better than it had already been ;o)

All in all, a pretty successful girls' day I'd say.

Lancers WIN!

A few weeks ago Deb happened to mention a conversation she'd had with Drew. He asked her if she thought Aunt Ran and Uncle Kevin would be able to make it to his last home game of the season. And I can't remember exactly how it went, but somewhere along the line there was a mention of $20.00 exchanging hands if we came to the game. (How funny is that?!)

As it happened, the day of the last home game I was off work due to a Staff Development day for our teachers, and Kevin could easily take the day off as well. Soooo...we decided to head out to TO to take in the last home game of the season.

The TO JV football team has suffered through something of a lackluster season - which is to say they hadn't won a game yet. Though we were hoping for the best, we weren't sure exactly what to expect.

It was a chilly fall afternoon as we headed out to the stands. Blankets, jackets and snacks in tow, we settled in to watch the game.

WOW! What a GREAT game! The boys were fantastic, scoring time and time again. Drew played a lot that afternoon, which made the game that much more exciting for us. By the end of the game, the score was an amazing 37 to 12!!

When we saw Drew after the game, he thanked us time and again for coming. We said that we were proud of him and ... we should have come to more games - maybe they would have had a winning record!
Way to go, two-oh, way to go!

We've been cooking up a storm!

One thing about fall is that it certainly inspires me to want to cook. There's just something so wonderful about a warm, cozy kitchen that emanates delicious aromas - it's very difficult to resist!

We seem to spend more time cooking on Sundays because, well, we have more time. Makes sense. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I've discovered a new cooking magazine. Country Cook by the same folks that bring you America's Test Kitchen. If you've not seen the magazine yet, I urge you to check it out. It's a wonderful magazine chock-ful of fabulous recipes that have already been tested to the nth degree to bring you the best tasting (or) quickest method (or) lowest fat version of whatever it is you're going to make.

Last Sunday we made their version of manicotti. Delicioso! It was both super easy and super delicious ... and pretty darn fast to make, to boot!
Mmmmm - yummy! The recipe also makes a LOT. We managed to eat the whole large sized pan throughout the week, taking it for lunches, and the small pan we wrapped and put in the freezer for a night we're short on time or I don't feel like cooking. (I love to have a few easy go-to dinners waiting for us in the freezer! Currently we have this pan of manicotti, two pans of chicken enchiladas, and a small pan of butternut squash lasagna.)

We've also been on a baked oatmeal kick lately. Why? Well, first of all because it's delicious! Secondly, it's super easy to make. You can have all of the ingredients mixed in about 10 minutes, and the add-ins can vary depending on what you have on hand. It seems that lately we always have a few over ripe bananas by week's end, so these are a staple. We've also added blueberries and more recently, toasted walnuts. We've determined that we like the banana/walnut version the best. When heated, it's like eating warm banana bread. YUM!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


This past Saturday was Smithsonian Free Museum Day (did you participate and go somewhere fun?!). We always look forward to this day and plan a fun adventure for the day. This year we decided to visit the Seabees Museum on the Naval base in Port Hueneme.

The boys had a baseball tournament there year before last and, since we were there, we thought we might visit the museum that day, but it wasn't open. In fact, they were in the middle of moving the contents of the museum from it's current location to another location on the base. So when this museum was on the list, we thought we'd make a day trip of it! Our favorite BBQ joint (and I do mean joint - it's not exactly a 'restaurant') is in Ventura just a few miles from Port Hueneme. We hadn't been there for a little over a year and could hardly *wait* to bite into one of their famous tri-tip or pulled pork sandwiches. YUM! We typically take a cooler so that we can buy and bring home extra goodies. There's also a phenomenal ice cream shop in Ventura (McConnell's),so of course we had to make a pit stop there, too!

Welllll, as often happens, things don't always work out as you plan. When we got to Ventura, our noses were alllll ready to be hit with the smoky BBQ aroma we've come to know and love. Literally, our mouths were watering! We pull around the corner where the we've been coming for years now only to find ... that it's now Top Hat Burgers and Hotdogs. SAY WHAT?! We were SO disappointed. I decided to run over and ask about our BBQ and they said that he's doing mostly catering, but sometimes has a truck parked close to the pier where he sells sandwiches. Oh man. We decided to drive around down by the pier to see if we could find him, but no luck. Dang it! Now we need to find a new BBQ joint! Not all was lost, however; we were still able to enjoy the sweet, creamy taste of McConnell's coconut/macadamia nut (me), and chocolate raspberry/peppermint (Kevin).

Now on to the museum. It's awesome. Neither Kevin nor I were all that familiar with the Seabees, and we learned a lot just hanging out at the museum for a while. Dang, those men and women work really hard! Here are a few shots of the museum:
After we left the museum we gave the Lala's a call. Since we were going to be driving right past them, we decided it would be fun to go out for a bite to eat! Deb suggested Bandit's BBQ. Not quite the Ventura place, but it was delicious and we all had fun.

All in all, a fabulous day. I just love weekends like this, don't you?!

Kitchen Partners

Kevin and I have been remarking lately about what a good team we make in the kitchen.

Now that we've moved, it takes us a bit longer to get home, which means it's a bit later when we have dinner. We're kinda the 'early bird special' folks - we prefer to eat dinner on the early-ish side so that it doesn't just sit in our tummies. Not that we go work out after dinner or anything (Heaven forbid!), it's just that eating earlier in the evening means we can go to bed and not feel completely stuffed.

That said, we've been getting home right about the same time, catching up on our day a bit and then heading to the kitchen to make dinner together. Tonight it's maple chicken with sweet potatoes, carrots and red onions. YUM!!

On Sunday while I was busy making the lasagna, Kevin tried on a new hat: that of pastry chef. He made a sour cream apple pie for our dessert. MAN, is it ever delish!! I found the recipe at Posie Gets Cozy, and while it took a bit more than the 15 minutes she notes (after all, we'd never made it before!), it didn't take much more than that and the results were fabulous. Kevin was pretty proud of himself, and I'm very proud of him, too!!

We've been enjoying a small slice of pie each evening.'s nearly gone. Guess we'll need to come up with something else to make this weekend!

Alright, alright...

so it's good. It's delicious in fact. Go. Make it.

...just make sure you clear your calendar for the day!

Michael Chiarello's Lasagna of Butternut Squash