Saturday, January 31, 2009

Christmas Program '08 at Preschool

Little S participated in her first public performance - singing in the preschool Christmas program. Her class wore these cute angel halos.
All of the classes sang the last song together - Little S is front and center in the bright pink shirt.
Enjoying treats with daddy after the performance.

Christmas Dinner Party '08

After returning from Utah for Thanksgiving, we got right to work on final preparations for the Christmas Dinner party we were hosting. D told me at the end of the summer that he wanted to have such a party and it evolved over the fall months into an intimate dinner party with a few of our close friends - 7 couples total.

Some of our closest friends traveled to be with us! Chris and Nicole were in town from Reno, NV; Nicole's sister, Whitney and her husband Ryan drove here from Santa Barbara; Doug and Christine drove up from Newport; Brett and Krystle, who got engaged the day before our party, came from San Diego (btw- Krystle wowed the crowd with her hilarious story of running into Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer at the grocery store in Palm Springs over Thanksgiving and sharing her Ralph's club card with Jenn). Our two local couples were Jay and Christine and Chad and Cass.

Nicole attended culinary school in Pasadena before she and Chris were married and she has taught D and I many things in the kitchen. For the party meal I used 3 of my favorite "Nicole recipes" - spice rubbed pork wrapped in corn husks, spiced pecan salad, and her fantastic bread pudding and homemade caramel sauce for dessert.

I made the paper stockings above for place settings. I finished them with each person's name and a button and ribbon. (My mom sewed them together when we were in Utah) D and I filled them with a few treats for each of our guests. Sadly, I didn't take a pic of the table, as my mom requested.Doug and Christine (who is also expecting, as Doug's hand placement indicates). They moved back to North Carolina the week after our party, so it was our last opportunity to see them until who knows when. So sad to see them go - we miss them and their cute little boys!
Ryan and Whitney - always the cute couple.

D and I had a great time with our friends. We kept saying after the party how well things work when you have good food and fun people together in a room.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Valentine Treats

Design Sponge posted this red velvet cupcake recipe from one of my favorite fabric designers, Amy Butler! Who knew she could cook, too.
D and I love red velvet cake and cupcakes - I think our favorite was from Doughboy's in LA (sadly, Doughboy's has closed its doors). I'm hoping to try this one this week before baby arrives.
The Chocolate Torte recipe can be found over at Design Sponge as well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thanksgiving '08 in Utah

We drove to Utah for Thanksgiving week - stopping at D's parents' house in Vegas on the way up. The days in Utah were spent visiting friends and family in the area and enjoying our old stomping ground.

I bought the turkey cake mold on the drive up and made the cake for Thanksgiving dinner at my Mom's (same makers as the beehive mold used for Little S's b-day..Yeah, I'm obsessed with the cake molds now). D cooked the turkey again this year, as he has in years past. After watching different turkey brining on the Food Network, he decided to try one of his own. The pros on TV used 7-up so he made up his own version and used the only 7-up we had in the house: the limited edition Pomegranate 7-Up that is pink! After brining all night, the turkey was bright pink Thanksgiving morning when we went to cook it. But it tasted great and the pink color baked away!

Little S made the turkey pine cone above at school and gave it to my mom for her dinner place setting. My mom made name cards for everyone else (pictured below). She needed extra hands at the last minute so my totally-not-crafty brother was enlisted to help finish the project in time for the feast. :) He came up with the clever turkey-day-themed nicknames for everyone's card.

Other activities during the week:
Lunch in Park City and wandering up and down Main Street (above).

Little S and I went to the Children's Discovery Museum in Salt Lake with my friend Karrie and her son Jack. D spent the hours at his favorite old book shop downtown, Ken Sanders Books.

No children's museum is complete without a miniature grocery store! Little S loved the self-check-out stand. She played here while Jack got creative with the waterworks display (classic boy/girl play preferences. The boy enjoys engineering different routes for water distribution while the girl spends time filling her shopping basket :)

They loved making music on the giant xylophone above.

A full-sized helicopter on the roof for the kids to play in!

When asked what her favorite activity was at the museum, Little S replied: "the crane!" She loved loading this thing up with foam blocks and then cranking them up to the other kids on the upper level. I think her passion for large machinery comes from all of the rides her daddy gives her on the scissor lift and fork lift at his office.
One other major activity was meeting D's extended family at a bounce house facility one afternoon. Three of his cousins, two of his siblings and 12 kids met to play together and catch up. They were all in town from various states visiting D's aunt and uncle. The kids had a blast bouncing together.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

3 Years Old

Little S's birthday bash was a blast. The theme was a bee in the garden - inspired by the beehive cake on the cover of Martha Stewart Living this past summer and the unfortunate and unexplained demise of the bee population (my grandpa is a retired beekeeper so the struggles of our bee friends hit close to home).

For D and I the birthday is our big event of the year. We like having all the fam and friends over, enjoying food and games and the November California weather in the back yard.

We enlisted lots of help with party prep. Auntie L and Matt helped make the huge tissue paper flowers that decorated the back yard. My mom helped with invitation supplies and preparations, mailing multiple boxes of stuff to me from Utah. I commissioned my dad to create a 15 foot garden mural on canvas for the kids to paint - he used his artist's discretion and added Dora, Boots and Swiper and the final product was a sort of Dora-meets-Rousseau scene (btw - Little S was ecstatic when I pulled the mural out of the box and she saw Dora on it). And finally, the night before the party, our good friend Jay helped D get the mural mounted/stretched on a wood frame in less than 15 minutes! Jay is a master of construction - D admitted it would have taken him an hour or two to do it himself :)

The invitations above.

We had the kids paint the mural for the first part of the party as everyone arrived. It was an even bigger hit than I imagined. My dad used permanent marker on the canvas for the outlines and the kids painted with washable tempera paints.
Action shot of the artists at work. As the younger kids moved on to the other games, the older kids wanted to keep painting - they were even hiding jars of paint behind the mural so the moms wouldn't make them stop :)
As usual, D and I were running around crazy at the start of the party. So my gal pals Cass (above) and Chanel got the painting rolling for me - what would I do without them?!
After the mural painting, we had the kids play a bee game that I made up. It was a version of the magnet fishing game but with bees and nectar instead. Each child decorated a bee and hung it from a fishing pole type thing (crafted by D, of course) that had a magnet on the end. They dropped their "bee" into the white flowers scattered in the yard that were filled with magnetic nectar paper and then carried their nectar to the beehive where the queen bee, 11 year old Haley, gave them a piece of candy for each nectar they brought. I had Flight of the Bumblebee playing on the ipod during this game, but I don't think the kids really noticed...Pictured above is our neighbor and good friend Lauree helping Little S and Hayden with their bees. Lauree is one of Little S's most favorite people in the entire world.
Next came the balloon hats and animal creations made by the birthday girl's dad. D has mastered the art of ballooning and can really wow a crowd of little people. (Little S is wearing the bee necklace and bee hair ribbon Grandma Shiela sent her for the big day - Auntie L, whose birthday is 6 days before Little S's, wore the birthday ribbon too.)
After a light dinner came the cake. I bought 2 of these molds - I love it! We served the cake to the adults with berries, cream and Nutella.
The kids decorated their own cupcakes - I used a cupcake and frosting recipe from Giada with mascarpone cheese in it - super easy and way better than just a box mix.
After food, cake and presents it was dark and we passed out glow bracelets and necklaces to everyone. Here, Auntie L models the glow jewelry and a balloon hat!
Finally, the kids wanted rides in the wagon before the night ended.

We were tired at the end of the night, to say the least, but so happy, too. There is no better way to spend a weekend night than at fun party with friends.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm back

After a 2 month hiatus and both my husband and mother asking if I'd given up blogging completely, I decided to get back in the saddle. Also, baby #2 is due in just over 2 weeks and I'm trying to tie up loose ends before the stork arrives.

Because I want to print my blog entries as a family journal, I'll be posting highlights from our family adventures during Nov and Dec 2008 to make the year's entries complete.

San Diego Zoo

For Little S's actual birthday on November 10, we went as a family to the San Diego Zoo. She insisted we listen to Carlos Vives during most of the drive down (D and I were going a little crazy, but she was the birthday girl and we gave in). She really wanted to see an alligator and a mouse - we couldn't produce the mouse request, but the polar bears and watching the gorillas eat lunch were highlights of the day.

She loved posing with the sculptures of animals - much less intimidating than the real thing.

We couldn't resist these head shots in the toddler play area. I asked D to take her into the petting zoo area at the end of the day - bad idea! Her allergies went crazy during the car ride home. We even pulled over to buy some medicine because she was coughing and tearing up so badly! Later that week at Little S's check-up the pediatrician told me to not venture into petting zoos again... Live and learn.

We ate lunch near the gorilla exhibit and Little S insisted on eating her fruit leather while laying with this mama and baby gorilla sculpture.