friday favorites ~ chinese new year love

So it’s Valentines Day on Sunday AND it’s Chinese New Year.  Not that I’m a BIG celebrator of either Holiday, BUT

1. When you have Littles, you can’t ignore that it’s Valentine’s Day

2. Celebrating other holidays can be a fun learning experience and add a little spice to the dinner scene.

3. In our family, it also gives us a theme for our February birthday dinner.  February is the one month out of the year that my husband dreads.  A whole ton of birthdays fall in February for us….2 of my hubby’s brothers, his mom, me and now Hayden… Valentine’s Day.  So we usually all celebrate with one big family dinner over Super Bowl.  But this year, we are doing it on Valentine’s Day/Chinese New Year!

So Sunday is going to be a FULL holiday day for us.  We’re starting it out celebrating Valentines Day with Heart shaped pancakes, whipped cream and strawberries (because that TOTALLY says LOVE)!   I plan on using the AWESOME Blueberry Pancake Recipe and omitting the blueberries in order to top with Strawberries

There really is no better pancake recipe than this one.

Not that I’m biased

And then we will end the day with our family eating yummy Chinese food (what better party to throw than one you can order all the food relatively inexpensively AND not have dishes to wash???)

Plus Chinese New Year is all about the color red, and doesn’t that go with Valentine’s Day??

See where I’m going with all of this?  FUN and EASY!

Here’s a brief tutorial for you from Wikipedia so you don’t need to dust off the school books:

Ancient Chinese New Year is a reflection on how the people behaved and what they believed in the most.

People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity”. On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is a great way to reconcile forgetting all grudges, and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.

So call up your favorite Chinese restaraunt, order up a feast and invite friends and family over.  Here’s a few thoughts:

  1. You can make paper bag luminaries to welcome people.  All you need is a paper lunch bag, thick black pen, candle and something to weight the bag.  Google “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity” Chinese symbols, then duplicate the symbol on the bag with the pen.  It doesn’t really matter if its perfect or not. Feel free to add a heart or 2 if you want…
  2. Make paper lanterns with your Littles to decorate the house with:
  3. Serve a Woo-Woo Cocktail to the adults.  (Not necessarily Chinese, but it’s red, it’s yummy, and it’s called a Woo-Woo and every good event needs a good cocktail!) BTW – I’m adding a disclosure. I’ve served this cocktail MANY timesit has GREAT powers….use/drink wisely and be ready, it can lead to children
  4. I plan on serving chocolate fondue for dessert.  Again not really a Chinese New Year treat, but a fun twist and definitely one for Valentine’s Day.  Serve with fresh strawberries and a big bowl of fortune cookies that come with your dinner order (again EASY!!)!
  5. Make a heart wreath for your door.  It celebrates Valentine’s Day AND gives you the red door for Chinese New Year.
  6. Have a red take home envelope for each person to open the next day and fill it with a “little fortune” to bless their New Year.
  7. Google Chinese Astrology and let everyone figure out what their Chinese Zodiac sign is….always a fun party conversation!

Most of all, keep the day stress free for yourself! It’s all about having fun!

Make it a day filled with LOVE, good fortune, health and longevity!

Have a great weekend!  See you back on Monday!

(FYI – I’m still working on next weeks meal plan, it will post Monday…)

favorite finds friday

It’s been a busy, but slow week!  Anyone else in So Cal feeling a little HOUSED with the Littles this week???  We have been reduced to having all the chairs back on top of our kitchen table.  BOTH Hayden and Addie are having fun climbing on EVERYTHING!  Addie now thinks climbing the drawer handles to get into the upper kitchen cabinets is fun…OH JOY!  Our biggest saving grace outing was Frogg’s Bounce House. WOW, did we LOVE this place.

This was Addie about 30 seconds after we got into the car.  Stay tuned for a future post.

Bummer was we found out Hay had a ruptured ear drum from an ear infection that night, so we were trapped in the house for the rest of the week.

BUT, that didn”t stop me from finding a few favorites this week!

The Pioneer Woman did an adorable post on this cute children’s book, “Duck at the Door“.

LOVE the illustrations, LOVE the story, a great addition to your Little’s library.

Be sure to check out all the Duck Books, such a great recommendation!

(Image: The Pioneer Woman)

Some of you saw this Favorite when I posted it to Facebook.

Seriously, if we are all housed AGAIN next week, this is one to try!

I love the Make and Takes blog!  Lots of fun and inspiring ideas, typically pretty quick and easy too!

She posted this amazing Edible Peanut Butter Playdough this week.

THAT has GOT to be a FAVORITE thing for the peanut butter part alone!!

(Image: Make and Takes)

This next one comes from the blog, How About Orange

Aren’t these so sweet!  Even though I’m not the total Valentine girl

(It’s growing on me though, must be something to do with having 2 little girls…)

I thought this free download for printable bags was darling!

LOVE the vintage feel of them!!

How About Orange always has great finds and DIY projects!

(Image: Twig & Thistle)

Next one is to help you all with your “New Year, New You” goals.

Have you heard of Pure Barre in Costa Mesa?
(As well as elsewhere in the country, be sure to check you city for locations).

This class will KICK YOUR BOOTY!!!

It’s kind of like a dance glass – meets pilates class – meets He–!

OK, in all seriousness.  I did a few of the classes before I realized I was pregnant with #3
and knew I was not in good enough shape to continue with it while pregnant.

But I can honestly say, I’ve never been so SORE in my ENTIRE life!
If you want to get every muscle as fit as it can be, take this class!

And they are offering 2 FREE CLASSES at Lululemon in Fashion Island

Saturday, January 23rd and 30th @ 8:30am!!

Great opportunity to try this out!

(Image: Pure Barre)

And lastly, I’ve had many, many, many, many emails on where to track down
the Sally Hansen Nail Finisher.

And I agree, it is tough to find.

It is very often sold out for months at a time at CVS by my house.

I would recommend buying online.  This is the the best link I’ve found to purchase it.

And the Meal Plan and Shopping List will be posted Saturday AM….been a little tough to get everything in this week!

Have a great weekend!

friday is a favorite day!

So did we all survive the first week of January???  I  made it, I think, assuming of course I get through Friday (although I still have about 100 emails waiting for replies – so sorry everyone!!)!  I did manage to take the Littles out in the double jogger today for a nice long walk and park time though, a first in a long time.  Figured I might as well start working on that baby weight that is going to need to come off in March once #3 arrives!

Thought I would share a few FAVORITE things that I saw this week.  The first is from the blog Making it LovelyMAN this girl has got her design eye going!  Check out her new office makeover, LOVE it!  What an inspiring place to be able to work, plus have her babe play next to her.  (I miss the days I could do that….Addie is in EVERY drawer, on my lap, on my computer, doodling on my “to do” lists…just doesn’t work anymore.)  But this is truly beautiful!

Definitely check out Nicole’s blog, Making it Lovely for more photos and to see what budget saving tricks she used.  A lot of the pieces are from IKEA.  I love being pleasantly surprised by the design and price of items at IKEA!  I think Nicole’s studio is the room she moved things around in, and I loved it before as well! Nicole has this fabulous feature on her site called “Transforming the so-so”.  She shows you her front porch, kitchen remodel, office makeover, etc.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her eye and her mix of patterns and colors.  Well worth checking out and getting inspired!  Her site let’s you share in the journey of making her home lovely….what a wonderful way to say that!!  You should also check out her stationary site, “Pink Loves Brown”. (And no, Nicole does not know me from Adam, but I absolutely adore her site and wanted to share a favorite).

The next favorite thing is one that I saw on the Just Spotted blog on Thursday.  Check out their post for all the details and further info, but here is the nutshell:

“Disney parks is hoping to inspire 1 million people to perform a day of volunteer service to a participating organization in their community during 2010, by giving them a FREE, one-day, one-theme park admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park.”

What makes this a FAVORITE for me is the two-fer factor.  By helping out and doing your part to help your community, you can help, a local favorite service organization that dedicates their time to keeping our beautiful Southern California beaches clean!  They provide everything you need, they just need your set of hands and extra man, mom, and kid power! Then your off and running to Disneyland to celebrate your good deed!  All the registration details, etc are all at Just Spotted.  Definitely check it out!!

My third favorite thing is to reward yourself, remember, New Year, New You!  If you feel like you got a head start on your New Years goals this week then you should DEFINITELY take some time for yourself this weekend.  Send the kids for some park time with Dad and grab a mani/pedi…splurge on that extra long foot rub!!  Or if leaving the house is too challenging, order some note cards for yourself or a return address stamp….I love these little personalized items!  They make mundane tasks seem so much more fun!

Enjoy your weekend….check out the planner for a new menu and shopping list.  Would love to hear what your weekly menus are like, or any suggestions you have!  Happy Friday! See you all back on Monday.

big fish mama!

I’m a big fan of the Long Beach Aquarium / Aquarium of the Pacific – crazy, since I’m a little freaked out that most of those amazing creatures are in the ocean and could surly bite my toes off (irrational fear of mine since birth I think), but none the less, I love the aquarium.  We bought a family membership last Father’s Day and when I suggested taking the girls to run on the beach Saturday AM, Hubby suggested the aquarium instead (he didn’t quite feel like chasing Addie in and out of the cold water – totally understand and not going to argue with that!)

So we loaded the Littles up, and headed out at 8:45A.  I’m a BIG “do-things-early-in-the-day” kinda a girl.  Less crowds, less lines, less stress, and kids get to burn energy before lunch and get tuckered out for a nice LONG afternoon nap.  Win-win on all accounts!

We headed up to Long Beach (quick 25 minutes), flashed our parking membership card, and parked right next to the elevator.  Quick cross the street and through the member door, flashed our member cards – total car to aquarium time took 7 minutes.  Which included getting 2 Littles out of carseats, packed 1 into a stroller, riding the elevator, crossing the street and entering the aquarium – can’t beat it.

Once through the doors =BIG FISH MAMA!!

Addie was off and running and SOOOOO excited!  She looked and waved at ALL the fish.

Both girls splashed their hands in the water with the rays and starfish.

They made it rain at the Water Shed exhibit.

Visited the sharks.

…..and Addie’s all time favorite, played at the little kids water park
standing under the water!

(We take an extra set of clothes for the ride home).

I love the aquarium.

It isn’t that big, it’s super family friendly and Addie is mesmorized by it. Such an easy, entertaining adventure. Plus there are LOTS more things that are fun to do with older kids too…this just happens to work for us at this stage, but we will for sure try out all the movies, crafts, etc that are available later in the Littles’ lives (that is, if I am ever able to leave the house again…)

A family membership is $110 good for 365 days from the date of purchase with no black out dates.  It is good for 1 or 2 adults, and all children 3-17 years living in the same household.

Regular tickets are $23.95 for adults (order online for $5 off each adult ticket), and $11.95 for children 3-17.

Fun FAVORITE activity!

And just in case you have LOADS of extra time this morning (HAAAAA!), here are photos from Father’s Day last year.  Addie was 17 mos at the time, and she loved it even then!

magical lights, good eats, BLING!

Xmas lights 1

In case you’re looking for something to do, we took a free field trip down to Balboa Island
to let the Littles get swept away in the magic of Christmas Lights…
definitely a FAVORITE activity!

Xmas lights 2

Xmas lights 3

Xmas lights 4

Xmas lights 5

Xmas lights 6

Xmas lights 7

Xmas lights 8

Xmas lights 9

Annnnnd the count down is here….Christmas is less than a week away….

With the busy week I know we will be having, I’m sure yours will be somewhat the same, so I’ve planned a few relatively low maintenance, but fun, meals for the week.

Monday – Make your own pizzas:

  1. I totally cheat and use Bridgford Bread loaves.  I love to make my own pizza dough, but this is such an easy way and you ALWAYS have it when you need it.  Bridgford Bread loaves are sold in the freezer section at most grocery stores.  You can use it to make bread, pizzas, cinnamon rolls, etc.  And if you forget to set a frozen loaf out to defrost in the morning, then defrost in a couple minutes in the microwave and you’re good to go!
  2. As far as toppings – totally up to you!  You can go more CPK with BBQ Chicken, BLT, or Thai Chicken…or you can use more of the traditional toppings.  We just did this for my husband’s birthday last Sunday. Classico Marinara Sauce, Classico Alfredo Sauce, Italian Sausage, Bacon, Ham, Pineapple, Sliced Peppers, Sliced Mushrooms, Diced Tomatoes, Italian Seasoning, Shredded Mozzarella, Grated Parmesan, Red Pepper Flakes…
  3. I cut each loaf into thirds, rolled it out and placed it on a piece of parchment paper, just scatter the paper with cornmeal to help the pizza come off easily once it’s baked.  I had each person write their name with a sharpie on the paper, and put 2 to a baking sheet in the oven.  I very easily did 4 pizzas at a time and just switched the baking sheets from the top and middle rack 1/2 way through baking.  I do not follow the directions on the package. I just roll out, top and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.  Make sure your over is preheated and that you use cornmeal between the pizza and your pan, stone or parchment paper.

We ended up having extra pizza dough, so after the guests left I quickly melted butter and spread on each dough circle, scattered sugar and cinnamon, rolled, sliced and placed in a buttered baking dish (probably took me 15 minutes).  I covered i all with a tea towel and baked them off in the morning!  What could be better than warm cinnamon rolls on a cold morning??

Tuesday – Mac & Cheese and a Salad using leftovers from the Pizza:

The day after the party, I had leftovers to use up.  I made our favorite Mac & Cheese, and added the leftover cheeses, and meats from the pizza party – HEAVEN!!!  Then I made a salad with the left over veggies – perfect use for everything and we felt like we had a whole new meal!

Wednesday – Leftovers:

You’re going to be finishing up the last minute wrapping….leftovers for sure!  Or order Chinese!

Thursday  – Christmas Eve!

I’m sure you all have your own traditions – but here is a thought.  If you dont feel like making something, do you have a great Mexican restaurant for takeout?  If you live in Orange County my 2 FAVORITES would be El Toro Bravo on 19th Street in Costa Mesa – I’m a carne asada or carnitas fan, or El Toro Meat/Carniceria Market in Santa Ana – 1340 West 1st Street, Santa Ana CA 92703, 714.836.1393 – their carnitas are AMAZING!Full-screen

Removal requested ()Restore requestedEditedThankfuly for me, my in-laws will be making our dinner this year…but if they weren’t, I’d be having this for sure!!

Friday – Christmas!!!

I’ll let you all take care of your own fun traditions.  I for one will be enjoying dinner with my parents – Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.  I MIGHT let my husband and girls come too…but I do have some super yummy Christmas morning breakfast dishes that I will be making at our place for the whole fam damily.  Stay tuned this week…

Now onto the bling-bling winner of the Amy Anderson giveaway…

Amy 1

Ohhhh, what’s in here????

Amy 2

Is it Christmas already??

Amy 3

Oh, fun!  It’s name drawing time again!

Amy 4

Let me mix this up a bit…

Amy 5

Got one!  I’m going to give it to Dada this time…

Amy 6

Congratulations “Canadian Mom”!!

Please email me at

Everyone have a fabulous holiday weekend…last one before Christmas!

See you back here on Monday!

rainy day fun…and the winner is!

As I tweeted Saturday morning, with the pouring down rain, we took off for Pretend City to blow off some steam before naps.  LOTS of rainy day fun!  By now most of you in Orange County have heard of Pretend City, if you have not, climb on out of your cave and check it out!  We have an annual family membership for 4.  I think at the time, I figured that we would need to go 1/month to make the membership a good value for us. We’ve already been 12 times since I purchased it this past September.  So for us playing from now until September 2010 is free. Fun spot for both parents and kids.  I ran into, and was able to catch up with a few friends that I had not seen in ages, and my husband ran in to a business aquaintence.

Addie and Hay….well they just ran into a lot of fun…

Addie handled 911 dispatch…

Pretend City 1

A little coloring…

Pretend City 2

Some jamming on stage with Hay…

Pretend City 3

Little grocery shopping…

Pretend City 4

Pretend City 5

Pretend City 6

Pretend City 7

Fixed a leak in the bathroom…

Pretend City 8

Helped add a new room on…

Pretend City 9

Pretend City 10

Pretend City 11

Had to stop and fuel up…

Pretend City 12

Then it was off to the boat races…

Pretend City 13

Not to be left out, Hay came to join her sis…

Pretend City 14

And oh the fun 2 can have is better than 1…

Pretend City 15

Off to grow their garden…

Pretend City 17

Our little bunny Hay…

Pretend City 18

Pretty much done in…

Pretend City 19


Juliska Draw 1

Addie spots the JULISKA bowl!

Is it time to pick the winner Mom!??!

Juliska Draw 2

Well, this one looks nice.

Juliska Draw 3

Let me smell it first. Nope, not the one.

Juliska Draw 4

Let’s try another one.

Juliska Draw 5

This one is cool, but still not right.

Juliska Draw 6

I should REALLY mix things up.

Juliska Draw 7

This is VERY serious business after all.

Juliska Draw 8

Just toss them in the air a bit.

Juliska Draw 9

Focus, Addie.  Focus.

Juliska Draw 10

Maybe if I just pick the whole dang bowl up and dump it……

Juliska Draw 11

K – I’m not interested anymore.

Mommy – “Wait Addie, I still need a name!”

Hubby – “Do you want Hay?”

Mommy – “She’s not dressed, she’s about to take a bath.
I can’t put her cute booty on the site!”

Hubby – “I’ll put her in something”

And “something” he did!

Wow Hay, that’s quite a look!

Juliska Draw 12

It’s cool mom.  I got one.

Juliska Draw 13

It tastes good, so I think this is the one…

Juliska Draw 14

Congratulations Taylor!!!!

Whooo-hooo!!!  Please email me,

You have 2 days to claim your prize! Sounds like your table will be beautiful

with your new casserole dish to compliment your blue and brown collection!

Thank you to EVERYONE that entered!!  You all are awesome!

I’ve heard from so many people that they had never heard of Juliska

(which is TOTALLY unbelievable to me!)

and tons that LOVE the collection

and even more that have now started collecting.

TRUST me, it will become your most favorite thing! 

Happy Sunday to you all!

Juliska Draw 15