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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

California Adventure


















The last time I was in California, California Adventure didn't even exist.  Since we were just at Disney World in April with my mother-in-law and nephew in April we thought we would skip going to Disney and just do California Adventure.  Such a good decision!  While the park is smaller than Disney it is a really fun park though it could offer a few more rides for smaller children.  The girls were just about an inch away from riding many of the rides.  Boo!  My two favorite rides were Soaring through California which takes you on a journey through California landscapes and the second was Radiator Spring Racers.  So much fun!!!  Winston loved the giant roller coaster.  This park focuses on more of the modern movies such as Ariel, Cars, Monster Inc, and Toys Story.  At the end of the day, the offer a really fantastic dancing water show.  Word of advice though if you want to see that show is you need a fast pass ticket to get a good spot to see it.  I didn't know this.  We still were able to see the show, but the children really had a hard time seeing.  What was nice about this park is that it wasn't as crowded as Disney and we were able to walk on most of the rides except for an exception of a few rides.  The children had a blast!

Monday, June 29, 2015

California












Every time I would turn on the TV, read a blog, or see pictures of California on Facebook my heart would do a little happy dance and it became more and more apparent  I needed to go home.  You see, I was born in California and lived there until I was 11 and even after we moved to Alaska many vacations were spent in California.  The last time I was in California was 8 years ago when my son Roman was just a baby.  My husband had won and award for his work and we were given an all expense paid trip to Laguna Beach, California.  We stayed at the Ritz Carlton.  Looking back on those few days seems all like a dream.  It was so magical.  We arrived in Los Angeles on Friday.  My husband couldn't get away from work and Harris is in Chicago for national FBLA competition, so my mother came along with me to help me with the children.  Our first stop was In & Out Burger.  So so good and so so crowded; however, just as good as I remembered it to be.  Then it was on to Santa Monica.  The beach and pier are a pretty fun place to hang out and had we had more time we would have walked along the 3rd street esplanade.  Sadly, it was only in the 60's .  The water was freezing. It didn't stop some of us at least putting our toes in the water.  Stay tuned for more adventures.  We will be here in California for the next week and a half.  Have you ever been to L.A.?  What was your favorite thing you saw?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Monochrome "Corner View"






In honor of the Dragon Boat Festival this past week, I thought I would take you back to China through monochrome eyes.

Corner View is a weekly gathering - each Wednesday - created by Jane of Spain Daily, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. If you'd like to join in, please leave a link to your Corner View post in the comments below, and be sure to visit other participants too.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Four!








Full of sass and always talking little miss always keeps me on the go.  She is the master brain behind the trouble but sweet as a bug!  She loves to dress up but always seems to look like a hot mess. We adore this one and are so happy she came to our family.  She loves to color, paint, and plaster stickers wherever she believes a sticker belongs.  She is kind and a good friend not only to her sister but to the other kids at school and church.  Her favorite color purple!  Her favorite food is peas and noodles. She loves fruit!  Her favorite TV show is Daniel the Tiger and Barney.  She does not like animals. They scare her to hyperventilation.  She adores her siblings!  Her favorite song is follow the prophet and itsy bitsy spider.  Her papa is the favorite!  She loves her dolls.  She likes to play at the park and swim.


Happy Birthday Addy Cakes!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Cashew Chicken and The Week from HE Double Hockey Sticks!

WOW!  This week was long.  My husband has been out of town all week and boy being a single parent to 5 children is not for the faint in heart.  The hardest part was that I didn't have a second driver, so that left it all up to me.  On Tuesday, I think I spent about 4 1/2 hours in the car!  It doesn't help that this city has some of the worst traffic in the United States.  All I can say is I am glad that it is the weekend and tomorrow I can sleep in!  I have been getting up every morning to drive my son to the train station.  The train station is about a half hour away from my house.  Coming home from the train station at night takes about 45 minutes.  I guess I shouldn't complain because if I had to drive him all the way into the city we would be looking at an 1 1/2 hour drive due to the traffic.  If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen that the girls got into some diaper cream and covered themselves and the play room with the cream.  The worst part was the carpets. I just about cried. After two hours of scrubbing, I gave up and called a carpet cleaner who was thankfully able to get it out!  Another night, I left the girls with my older son so that I could take Winston to his church youth group activity and the girls found the scissors and cut their hair.  Once again, thankfully they didn't go hog while and only cut off a strand on each others heads.  On top of this we have had construction crews hear all week finishing up the backyard patio.  The noise from the power washers and saws makes me want to check into the crazy house. Now you can see why I am glad this week is over,  The only good discovery of the week was finding out how easy it is to make Cashew Chicken.  Reading that book on China got me in the mood for Chinese Food.  I don't know why I always think it is hard to make, but it isn't.  If you like Chinese food you have to try this recipe.

adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

Cashew Chicken
3 chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
1/2 a head of broccoli cut into bite size pieces and cooked until tender.
2 Tablespoons of Canola Oil
1Tablespoon of cornstarch
3/4 cup of cashews
6 Tablespoons of minced garlic
8 scallions cut
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
6 Tablespoons of hoisin sauce
1/4 cup of water.
Serve with brown or white rice

Toss chicken with salt, pepper, and cornstarch.  Brown in oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the chicken is almost cooked add garlic, scallions, and broccoli.  Whisk together rice wine, hoisin sauce and water and pour over chicken.  Cook for about another minute or two until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through.

I hope you all have a great weekend!  We are off to the pool and counting down the minutes when my husbands plane arrives from Bonaire tomorrow night.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Paper "Corner View"


I have a love hate relationship with paper.  On the one hand paper is useful for so many things like this cute little creation from Addy or books that I so dearly love.  Yes, I am one of the last few people to convert to the electronic books.  My husband even gave me a tablet recently and told me to download all the books I want till my little heart is content, but I just can't.  I love the smell of the paper and turning the pages. The opportunity to underline a great quote or turn down the corner of the page when I need to remember the page I am on. Electronic books are just not the same.  We go through a ridiculous amount of paper in this house as I have a couple budding artist.  Addy could paint for hours if you would let her and even Roman has a creative streak.  My hate comes in stacks of paper throughout my house.  I feel like I am in a constant battle.  I throw one piece away and two or three seem to spring up in it's place.

Corner View is a weekly gathering - each Wednesday - created by Jane of Spain Daily, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. If you'd like to join in, please leave a link to your Corner View post in the comments below, and be sure to visit other participants too.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Reading

These days I don't have as much time to read as I would like, but this summer I am really trying my best to empty the basket of books I have collected.  I just finished reading Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard.  I had read her book Picnic in Provence a weeks earlier and really enjoyed it and thought I should read her previous book.  I have to say I liked her second book much better.  I don't know if it is becoming a little more mature, having a child, or moving to Provence, but in her second book Elizabeth is someone I would want to get to know.  In Lunch in Paris, I found  her to be slightly whinny and despite all her capabilities someone not very confident despite saying over and over she has a ton of American Optimism. I know it is her story, but I wish there had been more stories of discovering Paris and humor in being an ex-pat.  Maybe she had felt that angel had been covered by Peter Mayle who is famous for his French Expat stories.  Who knows!   I did relate to being an American with a mother-in-law from another country side of the story. I love my mother-in-law.  She is amazing.  I have to admit and I am sure she would admit that it isn't always easy to relate to one another because we come from two different cultures and speak two different languages, and because of this we have had a few misunderstandings.I haven't had an opportunity to try the recipes yet, but if they are as good as the ones in the second book than I will be the last to complain.  
Currently, I am reading Factory Girls by Leslie Chang.  This book talks about the lives of million of factory workers in particular woman in China while following the lives of a few young woman.  The book also recounts Leslie's family history while living in China and in the United States.  The book is not light and not particularly an easy read that one would think of as summer reading; however, I found the book to be fascinating.  It has helped me to have a better understanding of my daughters culture and heritage.  This book is not an adoption story, but as I have said it has helped me to understand the Chinese culture in a much deeper level.

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Next on my list is to finish Inferno, by Dan Brown.  I have picked this book up a couple of times but for one reason or another haven't finished it.  I have enjoyed his other books Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, so I am hoping I will like this one equally when I am finished.  I have two other books in my basket I would like to read: the first one is Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes.  I have no idea what this book is about by I have enjoyed her other books and the last book is by Mitch Albom titled The Time Keeper.  I also have no idea what this one is about but have also read other books written by him.  How about you?  Do you ever simply just read a book because it was written by an author you have read in the past?  I do!  I have read just about every book written by Nicholas Sparks and also by Peter Mayle.  Well, I am off to the gym.  It is just too hot outside to go for a walk.  I made that mistake yesterday when I thought I could take the girls to the park to play.  We were a sweaty mess.  What are you reading this summer?  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Panna Cotta


Years ago on the banks of Lake Como, Italy the sun danced on the water, boats sailed in the distance, dozen of tourists intoxicated by the beauty that surrounded them walked up and
down the cobble stone streets weaving in and out of the stores. There we sat my husband and I enjoying the most exquisite meal. That day seems like a dream now.  After we finished our pasta and cantaloupe with prosciutto we had the most creamy dessert accompanied with tangy sweet strawberries puree called Panna Cotta.  If you know me by now, I love all things chocolate, but this one dessert has my heart.  The crazy thing it is so simple to make and yet so decadent that you can serve it a dinner party and totally impress your guest.

Panna Cotta
4 cups of cream or half and half
1/2 cup of sugar 
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 packets of gelatin
6 Tablespoons of water
1 lemon for zesting

Berry Puree
2 cups of strawberries, raspberries, and blue berries
2 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup of sugar


In a bowl combine gelatin and water.  Stir until gelatin is dissolved.  In a saucepan combine cream, sugar, and vanilla and heat to the stage just before a boil.  Then pour the heated cream over the gelatin and stir with a whisk making sure all the gelatin is dissolved.  Pour the mixture into 8 lightly greased ramekins. Place in the refrigerator for two hours to allow for the Panna Cotta to set up. While the Panna Cotta is setting up in a sauce pan combine berries, water, sugar and cook on medium heat until the berries come to a boil and lower heat and cook for an additional couple of minutes.  If necessary.with a fork or a potato masher mash berries so that they are completely broken down. Pour mixture through a strainer over a bowl to seperate out the skins and seed from the puree.  Place sauce in refrigerator to cool.  When the mixtures have cooled take a knife around the edge of the ramekin to release dessert from the dish turn upside down on a plate and spoon puree around the sides of the dessert.  The zest lemon on top and around the edge of the plate.  This all may sound difficult, but I can guarantee you it is super easy.  

Have a Happy Weekend!  Do you have anything exciting planned for the weekend?  Our son Winston is returning from Boy Scout camp.  I am so excited to see him.  I missed him so much! Sadly for me, my husband is leavinng for a week to go scuba diving in Bonaire    He is so excited!                                                            

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Strawberry Salad


I think this my all time favorite summer time salad.  My mouth is watering just from looking at this photo.   I can guarantee your belly is going to be very happy if you eat this salad.

Strawberry Salad
4 large heaping hands full of lettuce or baby spinach
1/2 sliced red onion
3/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
a pint of sliced strawberries
6 pieces of bacon
1 1/2 of candied almonds or any type of nut

dressing
1/2 cup oil
1//2 cup sugar or you could use honey
1/4 cup of  red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of dried mustard
1 tablespoon of poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon of salt

In a bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, and sugar then add mustard, poppy seeds, and salt.  I usually make mine is a small mason jar.

Cook bacon and in the mean time assemble your other ingredients in a bowl/  When bacon is cooked crumble and add to salad.  Oh and it is super easy to make your own candied nuts.  In a pan take your nuts and about a 1/4 cup of sugar.  The sugar can be brown or white.  When the sugar is melted stir to make sure all the nuts are coated and turn the nuts out on a piece of parchment paper.

Then enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On Top of Stone Mountain "Corner View -Together/With Friends"

On top of Stone Mountain all covered with Cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneeze. Remember that song ?  No, Ok, I changed the words just a little, but hey why not?  The Weather Gods still keep smiling down on us, so on Saturday we headed to Stone Mountain for a day of fun.  I don't think summer is summer without a day at Stone Mountain. It has become such a tradition for our family.  The bigs are so over Stone Mountain, but the little are still in love with the place.  We were joined by our friends Kristi, Noah, Even, and Logan.  After playing in the new Geyser Tower attraction, the gang enjoyed a ride up the gondola and a hike down the mountain.  Never will I do the hike again or at least not in 90 degree weather in full blown sun. My friend Kristi loves that kind of thing and the littles did pretty good with the hike except for Avery who lost it the last ten minutes down and cried her way down the rest of the way.  I don't blame her!  The hike is pretty steep.  My knees aren't thanking me at all!  I could barely walk the next day!  Our friends couldn't stay the whole day, but Nana joined us around dinner time.  She brought dinner with her and a ton of glow in the dark light sticks so under the stars we enjoyed the firework and laser show.  Thankfully, as the sun went down it cooled off just enough for us to be comfortable. 2 weeks down 8 more to go!