Friday, October 30, 2009

Wrapping up October.

The past couple of weeks, we have been busy doing great fall things. I wanted to catch up on these fall things prior to the BIG Halloween shin dig. The weekend of 10.24 we went to an event at FairyTale Town. FairyTale Town is a great park with all kinds of play equipment that is themed by, well, fairy tales. My mother in law was in town and was able to join in on the festivities. That Saturday, we headed to San Francisco to meet up with Kari, James, Sophie and Tyler. It was Kari's turn to hit the big three- oh and we were in for some serious treats. We started the day by having lunch at Yang Sing (Dim Sum), headed over to North Beach for cappacino and pastries and then back to our hotels for some rest prior to the big tah dah.....drum roll please. CHEZ PANISSE.

Chez Panisse is Alice Water's baby. Alice Waters is the founder of the Chez Panisse Foundation and really at the crux of California Cuisine. Fresh. Organic. Locally grown. Alice Waters three main focus points. I think she left out three equally important points. Old friends. New friends. Spirited conversation.

The meal was lucious. Lucious. Lucious. Seriously, my tastebuds were jumping all over the place but still with a synergy that only Alice Waters can create. It was such a treat to share Kari's special day, but I think we all felt like it was our birthday. Sunday, James had to head back down to LA for work and RT headed East to watch the Raiders be defeated beyond explanation. While those boys were suffering, Kari, Tyler, Sophie and I were exploring the Ferry Building and having lunch on one of San Francisco's famous October Sundays. If you have never been to SF, you must take a trip during October or November. It is the MOST beautiful time of year. It makes me miss the city sooooo much. I think a part of me gets homesick everytime we leave. Tonight we carved a pumpkin. Gia thought it was super fantastic. However, it ended up like most things these days....Gia was crying and naked.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh my, pumpkin is good in things other than pie.

Tonight I made pumpkin pasta. Wowzer. It was fantastic. I have made a serious attempt at making two meatless meals a week in an effort to expand my husbands pallet, solidify a love of veggies in my toddler, and just to be plain healthier. Honestly, sometimes it works and sometimes it totally does not.

Tonight was a HIT!!!! And oh, how I will share so you can find new things to do with the pumpkin. The super food!

Pumpkin Penne

1 15oz can pumpkin

1 12oz can evaporated milk

3T olive oil



cayanne pepper


black pepper

Package whole grain penne.

Cook penne to desired texture.

While pasta cooks, in a medium saucepan bring warm oil over medium high heat. Add shallots and garlic. Cook until tender about three minutes. Add pumpkin and evaporated milk. Add sage, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste.

Combine pasta and sauce. Place in casserole dish. Sprinkle Parmesan over top. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Serve with parsley and warm, crusty bread.

Even if you think you won't like it, TRY IT.

So stinking good.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Little shadow.

So I am dying to know from more experienced moms out there....what do you do when you have a shadow? I am honored, shock and completely blessed. Yes. I also, sometimes actually have to get things done AND also at some point in my life would like a moment when someone is not following me or hanging on to me.

I was having this conversation with my friend the other day. I have never been so busy or exhausted in my life.

In my younger days, I was a work a holic. Working sometimes 90 hour weeks and averaging 70 hours week. For years. I loved it. I was tired, but it was what I wanted to be.

Then, I was a full time working mom. I worked 40-45 hours a week and commuted 90 miles round trip each day. I was tired. I was really tired. And pretty cranky.

Then I had a job share. I worked about twenty hours a week, but had two weekdays off and the weekend. This was a good balance.

I still work about twenty hours a week, but I work five days a week. I am a real stay at home mom while here. I cook three meals a day, scrub floors, scrub bathtubs, go to the park, cuggle, read, paint and all of the other fantastic things that a stay at home mom does. When my kiddo heads to nap time, I head out to work.

I am exhausted. I feel like I do not ever have a moment to myself. At least when I worked full time, I had lunches, shopping, etc.

Any suggestions on the ever asked question of work life balance? Suggestions requested.

Oh, and I love my little shadow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bishop's Pumpkin Farm.

Wednesday we headed out to Bishop's Pumpkin Farm with some friends and it was a throw back to the days of yester year. With everything from homemade cinnamon rolls with REAL cream cheese icing to pig races. As always Gia was thrilled to have Tyler riding in the car with her. And Tyler obliged. It is funny, Tyler has two older brothers and loves to boss Gia around. Gia loves to have a friend. It is a win win relationship for the two toddlers.
The old school train, the big slides, the tractors to climb on, everything that delights the heart of a little one. All of the kids were having so much fun running around with few boundaries.
I thought the "bale out" was hilarious. The pumpkins were beautiful and there were so many!
Tyler was a little timid from the whole train thing and Gia was "forced" to give me her cardigan instead of cleaning the train floor with there were a range of faces during the ride. They are each so sweet and I love being able to capture them.
Here is my daughter at the petting zoo. For those of you that know me, I am not exactly what you would call an animal person. I am really more of a people kind of a girl. And so is her dad. Much to the delight of Gia's Aunt Jenna, Uncle Eddie and darling cousin Kate....Gia has the animal loving gene. She spent and HOUR feeding the goats. She told me that the barn was her house and that I could come to her house to see her babies. She was in heaven and I was a little creeped out. Ok, maybe a lot creeped out.
After a nice helping of homemade baked goods and warm apple cider we headed to the last treasure of the day. The hay trampoline was much more my speed and Gia proved that we do have common interests. She had a blast jumping with the others and then she just laid down to feel the vibrations of the other kids jumping and relaxing.

We had a blast and thank you Jill for your planning.

Thank you

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Autumn is a time of harvest, a time of gathering together.

This past week, we were blessed with a visit from Mimi. Despite my parents living some fifteen hundred miles away, we do have a lot of time that we get to spend together. It is always such a treat and life really is easier when Mimi is around. We headed up to Auburn on Saturday for the Fall Festival. There were pumpkins that weighed in at eleven hundred pounds. It was crazy how big these pumpkins were. My mom and I were in awe. Gia wanted to climb around on them. Especially because they were covered by blankets and being waxed by their growers.

Coloring, painting, tumbling, crown making and even a puppet show. All in an amazing outdoor setting. There were these GIANT scarecrows that covered the grounds. It was really a great day for girl bonding.

Sunday, Ralph headed to Oakland for the Raider game....and they won!!!! Oh, the trials of a Raider fan wife. Those poor boys are having a hard go of it this season. So we were happy that they pulled it through for a big W.
Mimi, Gia and I boarded the Spookomotive. We got to sit across from a little boy Max and his grandmother. Max is four and wants to be an engineer. He is very quiet and was a little overwhelmed by Gia's enthusiasm.
Three generations.
The rest of the week was spent doing a lot of this. Dressing up. Eating treats. And just hanging out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

La-La-Land & Lucy's wedding.

Friday morning, Gia and I set off for the lovely Los Angeles. Kari picked us up at LAX and we stopped by her house to say hi to Uncle James, Winston and Marco.

Marco is Aunt Kari and Uncle James new dog. Both Marco and Winston are is a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. And they are so precious and perfect for Miss Gia. We are seriously contemplating this addition to our family. After we said hello, we headed to Surfas. Surfas is a cooks paradise. Kari is one of LA's acclaimed personal chefs and I love to cook. We bough more cheese, bread and pate than any three girls could handle and we headed back to Kari and James and devoured it with gusto only two foodies could.

Gia and I headed back to LAX to pick up RT. Ralph had been in meetings in Saint Louis for eight days. He was certainly exhausted.

We decided that Mexico City fit the bill for dinner and traveled from West LA to Los Feliz. It was such a lovely drive with great conversation and very little traffic.
Ralph and I have been eating at Mexico City since we were dating and it was so great to share one of our favorite LA spots with Kari, James and of course Miss Gia. I think all enjoyed the food and I know we all enjoyed the company.

Saturday morning Gia walked Winston and Marco (with the help of Uncle James and Aunt Kari) and then we all headed to the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

"The ULTIMATE community gathering place in Santa Monica. Great for family, food and fun!"

Of course, Gia ended up with all of the bags and her stroller. Strolling around Santa Monica like so many, bums, people and celebrities alike. With bundles full of delicious goodies!
Gia has really been fighting me on ponies lately. I am not a mom that is willing to fight whether or not my child does her hair, but I DO NOT want her to look un kept. So, we decided to take Gia to Floyd's. Floyd's is just a walk in barber shop, but the cool factor is through the roof. The walls are adorned with old school band and magazine posters and the music is pumping through out.

Gia had her hair bobbed by Alexandra and she did a fantastic job. Gia is walking around telling everyone about her new haircut.

That night, we went to a birthday BBQ at a friends house. They have such a lovely home and Kari made the most fantastic bread pudding ever. And I do not even like bread pudding. It. Was. Sinful. Sinful. I tell you.
Sunday morning, the girls headed to the beach for a brunch picnic while the guys watched SPORTS. The beach breakfast was glorious. The sky was overcast and temperatures a bit cool. We ate fresh Quark from the farmers market and sipped fresh squeezed OJ.
Gia spent the morning playing in the sand, the water and ultimately ended up skinny dipping in the Pacific. Watching Gia take such pleasure and fun in lifes little pleasures brings me a new level of happiness. I want my child to forever find that as long as she lives.
Everytime she experiences that. It brings me back and makes me savor the little moments.
We said goodbye to Aunt Kari, Uncle James, Marco and Winston. Which was tear inducing for both Gia and me. Then we headed up to Malibu for the night.

On our way, we stopped at Malibu seafood. A local favorite. Not nearly as famous as Neptunes Net, but just as delicious. It is both a seafood market and a place to grab a quick bite. The clam chowder is warm and comforting and the fish and chips is flaky and fresh. The views from the balcony are breathtaking and it certainly makes you feel that you are in a small secluded beach town. Not just seven minutes outside of Santa Monica proper.
We then checked into the hotel where Ralph and I stayed on our second LA house hunting trip when I was pregnant with Gia. This provided for endless, "When you were a baby..." stories for Gia.

We headed to Calamigos Ranch for Lucy and Jim's wedding. The wedding was elegant and perfect. Such a great celebration of a fantastic couple.

It was so much fun to see so many LA friends at such a celebration. Gia was one of three little girls invited to the wedding. They danced and danced.
Kiara was Lucy's flower girl and God daughter from France. Kiara came to Gia's first birthday party. So sweet to see them grow up.

They had a little language barrier, nothing that precious toddler hood could not overcome.

Our night ended early with a little girl fast asleep on her daddy's shoulder. She had so much fun and so did we.
Congratulations Lucy and Jim!! Thank you for sharing your special day with us!

Monday morning we got up and went to Gia's old school. Ralph and I spend hours telling her stories about this school and all of her amazing teachers. Gia was squealing with excitement to see Miss Barb, Miss Mercedes and Miss Shannon.

On our way to the airport, we stopped at Tico's Tacos and got out yearly fix. It was just as good as we remembered it being. Oh how we miss you Tico's.

Our fantastic La La Land weekend was ended by a not so fabulous four hour delay at LAX. We are back home in NorCal safe and sound and so thankful for our dear southern Cali friends.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The fairy festival.

This weekend I took Gia to the annual fairly festival. She is really just now getting into dressing up, but she has always been quite girly. When I told her that we had to put her tutu and wings on before we left, she thought that this was the best day ever. Before we could leave, she needed to have her picture taken by the front door. I guess after taking her picture here on the first day of school she thinks that this is the perfect background. So sweet.
The fairy festival did not disappoint. However, I did laugh when Ralph asked me if I was sure that it was for little girls. I guess this is a product of living in northern California. There was a fairy band, face painting, hair dos, manicures, fairy story time, jewelry making, wand making, fairy name, just to state a few.
Gia was in squeals the entire time. One of the drawbacks to moving as frequently as we do is that we do not have that large of a group of people that Gia gets to spend time with. All of the little girls running around doing fairy things was such a treat for our little one.
Gia laughed and laughed the entire time they painted her face. She insisted that it tickled, but wanted more, more makeup!
Fairy story time was a big hit. I was thinking the entire time, what a great and easy thing to do for a little girls birthday party. They were all so happy, innocent and sweet. I had such a good time sitting back and watching Gia develop her social skills from toddler to little girl. She has such a sweet spirit and social soul. Needless to say, after all of the excitement she was tuckered out. It took about three minutes before Mr. Sandman came to her on the ride home.