Friday, January 22, 2010

Joe 2, Julia 0

Before Christmas, Lee and I finally watched "Julie & Julia" courtesy of Netflix.  The movie was great -- how can you not use the word "great" to describe a Meryl Streep movie? (Incidentally, after hearing Meryl's funny acceptance speech on the Golden Globes, I've added her to my list of "people I'd like to be my friend.")  Anyway, the movie inspired Lee and I (like every other movie-goer) to consider cooking a Julia Child recipe.  In a state of delusion, I thought "how hard can it be?"  After a couple days of mulling it over, reality set in and I decided I am in no way capable of pulling off a fancy French recipe a la Julia.  While cooking for my family brings me more joy than it used to when I was a single gal, I really need to stick with recipes that are for amateurs.  I'm not Julia Child nor do I even strive to be.  In fact, dumb down Bettie Crocker and just maybe you can get an idea of my skill level and creativity in the kitchen.

So after saying goodbye to the Julia Child fantasy, I had a spark of genius.  In the movie,  Julie Powell makes every recipe in Julia's cookbook in one year.  Why not do the same thing but with this cookbook:

A coworker gave it to me for Christmas.  All 166 recipes in this cookbook are obviously easy and consist of Trader Joe's ingredients.  I love Trader Joe's!!  I could do this!  At some point in our lives, our family may not live in a state where there is a Trader Joe's (just typing those words makes me hyperventilate) so I really need to cook from it now before it becomes obselete (or is sold in our "goodbye California" garage sale).  Therefore, my goal is to cook every recipe in it in 2010 and I will document my progress occasionally on this blog (only occasionally because my intention is not to switch this into a cooking or foodie blog -- Nate is way cuter than most foods -- I said most because marshmallow Peeps are pretty darn cute).  To those of you not in a Trader Joe's "zone" -- sorry, I offer my condolences and hope they open a store in your state soon.  It won't hurt my feelings if you skip reading my TJ cooking posts.  So let's jump right in because I've already gotten started...

A couple nights ago, I made a soup recipe using proscuitto pasta, carrots, and peas.  It was simple (I'm going to use that word a lot).   We liked it -- Lee rated it an 8 out of 10 stars.  This could be a good recipe to get Nate to eat some veggies when he's older.  I'm sharing this brief review because it demonstrates where I'm starting from -- I never would have thought to put pasta in chicken broth and add other ingredients.  My imagination just doesn't go there.  So sad.  Anyway, here's a photo:

Last night's dinner raised the bar tremendously.   I heard things like "man, that was great", "I could swim in that sauce", and "this is a 9.9!" come out of my husband's mouth.  Apparently he liked it.  So here's a picture (which doesn't do it justice) and the recipe to "Cherry Pork with a Kick":

1 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4 inch thick medallions
1 Tblsp. olive oil
3/4 C. Trader Joe's Cherry Preserves
3 Tblsp. creme fraiche
dash of Trader Joe's Chili Pepper Hot Sauce or Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce
salt and pepper

Season pork with salt and pepper.  In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute pork medallions, in batches, until they are browned and nearly cook through, about 6 minutes (I don't know what nearly cook through looks like so I cooked them all the way using my meat thermometer and prayed they wouldn't be dry -- they weren't!).  Remove to a warm platter.  In the same saute pan, melt the cherry preserves and stir in the creme fraiche.  Season to taste with hot sauce, salt, and pepper.  Return pork and any accumulated juices to the pan and simmer briefly to marry the flavors.

Yes, I wanted to marry the flavors after eating this dish.  It was great.  We served it over Trader Joe's frozen brown rice and had steamed asparagus on the side.  Heavenly. 

This is going to be a great culinary adventure.  And hopefully we won't get too fat in the process...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

{Not} Singin' in the Rain

We're on day 5 of heavy, heavy rain in Southern California and it's starting to make us a little loopy (translation: Cabin Fever).  Days 1-4 were charming and cozy.  Day 5 -- not so much.  Our backyard is a mess, there's a lovely circle of cracked plaster on the dining room ceiling, and our mail arrives one step away from being pulp.  This is no longer fun.  So to create a little diversion, I've been looking at SUNNY photos from our "archives."  I thought I'd share them with you too, in case you have Rain Drain Brain (yeah, I just made that up).

Painted Desert -- you can't get any drier than this.

Ah, beautiful, warm sand of St. Croix. 
How I want to run around barefoot in you.

Succulents -- no water required.  Yippee.

Central California.  Probably during a drought.
(I think California children learn the word "drought" in the womb).

50s Friday

Last week I showcased a 50s kitchen.  This week, it's the bathroom!  I'm intrigued by the weird plant that is crawling up the glass side of the shower/tub.  Very exotic.  And, wow, that's an interesting color for a toilet.  Yes, definitely interesting.  So, am I reading this ad right -- the tile is made of plastic??

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bedtime Reading??

As you all know, when I'm at work on Tuesdays and Thursdays Nate stays home with Lee.  Their days together are pretty similar to the days I spend with Nate but they do special son/Daddy stuff too.  When I walk in the door at 5pm, I usually get a full report on the day's activities.  but sometimes I don't hear about everything and discover what's been going on by coming across random clues here or there. For instance, this was an interesting addition to Nate's book basket....I guess Nate's fed-up with his pediatrician (hello, vaccinations galore!) and has decided to go the route of Eastern Medicine.  Can't say I blame him.

A Question for Ms. Manners

I'm hoping some of you blog lurkers will reveal yourselves with this post because I'm looking for advice:

How do you feel about a young person (ages 4 and up) calling an adult by their first name?  Would you prefer that he/she call you Mr. or Mrs. (last name here)?

When we're in certain situations, I often say to Nathan "say hello to _____" and I've often used the person's first name.  I think it's important that he learns to acknowledge/greet people, particularly since he's a Pastor's Kid and will inevitably know 200+ people (or, rather, they'll know him!). 

What do you think?  Is it appropriate for a child to call an adult by their first name?  I think I'd prefer him to say "Mr./Mrs." but in the few instance I've tried to teach my child this, the adult has responded "Oh call me (first name here)."  Huh. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Seven Red Things

I was tagged by Jen at Just Another Day in the Lives of....

Rules (I'm breaking both):
*Post photos of seven red things in your home (I cheated a little).
*Tag seven people to do the same (don't know seven bloggers...sigh).

Love my mini KitchenAid chopper. 

Living room pillows that are only 1 year old
and starting to show wear.  Thanks Target!

Boys Toys.

Kitchen towels.  Cookies added not for effect,
but to satisfy my Sunday chocolate craving.

The spray can said "Chinese red."  It just sounded exotic. 
The table turned out better than I had hoped.

Man toy.
No joke, parked in front of our house this very morning.

Cherry notes on the frig. 
They're almost too pretty to use.

So if you feel inclined to join in, add a link to your "Seven Red Things" in a comment below.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Children's Books, Editorial #1

Exhibit A:

One of Nate's favorite books.
Published in 1982 but adapted from the Curious George film series (1960s??)

Exhibit B: 

Page 9 -- do you see what I see?
It took me a couple weeks to spot it.
I guess I was too busy reading the story to notice the illustration.

As an aside -- I know he's cute and all and the illustrations are charming (not counting the smoking hippy above), but seriously, Curious George is a troublemaker.  And isn't the Man in Yellow just a little strange?  Why does he wear those tall boots? 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

50s Friday

I've been slackin' on my 50s Friday posts.  I can't even remember if I posted this image or not and I'm too lazy to look back at my last 100+ posts so here you go -- this isn't an ad but a photo that accompanied an article about "modern" kitchens.  I could cry over the fact that there's a dishwasher in this pic.  Lee has promised me that someday soon we'll live in a house with a dishwasher.  Oh to dream!

Bath Time -- A Retrospective

I must really like you people to share this photo.  I had only been a mom for 5 days and clearly hadn't showered, I'm wearing pajama bottoms, and those are some nice brown roots on my head. is a great photo-editing website but it doesn't work miracles people.  Let's focus on Nate -- look at how little he is!  Such tiny arms.

I think Nate looks like a little doll in this pictures.  So round and yummy.   Yes, the wash cloth is strategically place to offer him so privacy.  And there's good ole rubber ducky, a favorite to this day.

As much as I love that Nate is finally getting hair, I really liked this stage.  It looked kinda buzzed and cute.

Crazy hair Nate, photo taken during tonight's bath.  He totally hammed it up for the camera.  You can see 2 of the 3 teeth that are coming in right now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My New (Web) Love Affair

Having too much fun with my new subscription to  Here's a little taste of what I've come up with -- basic stuff, as I'm still trying to figure out how all of the features work.  If I was really into scrapbooking, I'd be glued to this website.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Today was the first session of our "Village Music Circle" held at the city rec center.  This is Nate's and mine first taste of anything involving other kids and mommies.  I was looking forward to it and tried to hype it up during our little morning talk over breakfast.  "Are you ready to go sing some songs?" I'd ask him enthusiastically and he'd reply "yes" although he didn't have a clue what I was talking about.  The class is only 45 minutes long and -- aren't we lucky -- is held at the rec center up the street from our house.  We drove for this first session so we wouldn't be late (and make a bad impression) but from here on we'll walk over there.  I was curious to see how the other mommies would look -- casual, grungy, makeup, no makeup??  Of course, they were all adorable -- one was even wearing a beautiful turquoise necklace (seriously, jewelry???)  Anyway, we found our way to Room 6 and I've barely stepped inside when Nate starts to cry.  Hard.  And he doesn't stop.  We sit down in the circle and the kid is clinging to me for dear life.  Our circle is composed of only 10 participants so it's not too busy but it was apparently overwhelming for my little man (he was the only one crying).  Miss Beth had drum music playing and everybody was beating a drum -- that might have been a bit much for Nate.  All of the other mothers shot me looks that said "I understand" and "I've been there" so it wasn't uncomfortable but I just felt bad that Nate wasn't having a good time.  After playing with drums, we sang a song and greeted everyone by name.  Jennifer and Michael are clearly not popular names anymore, judging by this group (Cody, Nico, Emma, Samantha, Bella, Brady, Russell, Kate ).  We walked in a circle waving colorful scarves then played with other instruments.  45 minutes goes by very fast!  By the end, Nate had stopped crying and wasn't as clingy but he wasn't very interested in the music and wanted to play with everyone's shoes (eww).  So we'll go back next week and see what happens....

Monday, January 4, 2010


Look Gepetto!  I'm a real boy!!

Captain Underpants

It's hard to conduct serious pastoral business on your cell phone when your son is running around the living room waving a pair of your dirty underwear he snagged from your clothes hamper.