Skip to content

Pasta making

IMG_2085-0

Such a fun morning with my girls! After I made them clean the house for two agonizing hours (half the time they hid from me) we decided to open the windows, and make some pasta from scratch!

It’s a lot easier than you’d think and so much fun. Best of all? You only need two ingredients! Eggs and flour.

I used this basic recipe and a great pasta maker that was a gift from a friend in Singapore.

http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/11899/basic-pasta/

It took about 40 minutes but it’s always such a fun thing to do with the girls that it’s worth the time it takes.

And excuse my makeshift pasta dryer of chairs on the table covered in dish towels. We are obviously super fancy.

IMG_2067

IMG_2071

IMG_2079

IMG_2077

IMG_2070

IMG_2080

IMG_2083

IMG_2085

IMG_2087

The best two dollars I’ve ever spent

I’m a full time and then some,  working mom. Who sometimes wishes she could be a stay at home mom. Not really, but sometimes. Like when I’m leaving work and want to come home to a fully cooked dinner with the house sparking clean and the kids bathed and homework done and everyone in an amazing mood. But the actuality of my life is a lot different than the romanticized version I mentioned above. I’ve got an amazing husband who does more than his share of housework and cleaning and cooking, but I’m also a control freak and want to be in charge. I’m super fun to live with.

The acuality is, I leave work between 5:15 and 5:30, after a day on the phone and surrounded by coworkers that I love but also want to murder. Ok, not murder, but sometimes I fantasize about telling them how I really feel and that’s always a bad thing for a Nora. But, I digress.

I leave work and head home and I used to think “what’s for dinner that’s not pasta with frozen meatballs and green beans and that’ll take 15 minutes to cook so that the kids aren’t starving and fighting while I’m staring into an empty fridge trying to figure out why I don’t have any food to eat except cheese” . And I’d be stumped while I ate cheese. And then I’d spend 40 bucks picking up something that was marginally good, or a rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes or something easy. And I knew I was better that that. I just needed a plan.

As I was perusing Pinterest one weekend, I came across a post about meal planning. And it looked complicated. She had it down to an exact science and to the penny as far as what each meal cost. I’m not that girl. So I skipped it and did it my own way, as I often do. I just wanted something to make my life easier, and I think I found it.  I sat down and literally wrote down the top 15 dinners my family loved. And realized we eat a lot of the same types of foods. But in different ways.  I bought a two dollar dry erase board, and I planned meals for a whole week. This was a year ago and it’s been life changing.

imageimageimage

I now use Costco and this board to plan meals for a week. Or three. I buy things I know we will use in bulk. We eat a lot of fish and chicken and I use my crock pot usually twice a week…but I’m in love with my own version of a plan. I don’t do a month at a time and now when I plan for pasta and meatballs, it’s not as a last minute thing and my kids look forward to it. They’re always looking to the meal menu for what’s for dinner and it’s such a relief to not have to stress every day over what’s for dinner.

A few things I use all the time at Costco that we always have on hand? Salmon and their pre-shredded rotisserie chicken meat. I use this stuff in everything. It’s ten dollars for a huge bag of cooked meat that I just divide into three baggies in the freezer. I use it for tacos, soups, enchiladas, Thai food, everything. So good and such a find. I used to buy the whole chicken and shred it for enchilada soup or gumbo. Not anymore!

I also love their salmon. I cut it into three giant pieces and throw it in the freezer as well. I thaw it the morning I want to use it, sprinkle it in old bay, sear it in my cast iron skillet with a little olive oil and then flip it and throw it in the oven for ten minutes. This is a family favorite. And while this ones a little more expensive and will run us about 30 dollars for a big piece, I figure it’s split over three dinners and still a great dinner. We serve this with Brussels sprouts and rice and it’s a family fav.

Sure, there are days when we skip the menu and do our own thing or sometimes we change it up if we are in the mood for one thing over another, but on those weeks that are now few and far between, when I fail to plan a menu, I start thinking about the dreaded “what’s for dinner” question about 2pm.

My question to you of course, is what are a few of the ways that you save yourself a headache when it comes to family dinner time?

40 for 40

I’m almost 40. As in, this is the year I turn 40. May 2, to be exact. It’s still 5 months away. Ok, 4 1/2 if you get technical. But when you’re about to turn 40, it’s expected that you have something phenomenal planned in your head that will help you overcome this momentous occasion and take away the potential pain that turning 40 brings with it.

But here’s the thing. (You knew there was a thing, right?) I don’t care about turning 40. Sure, when I’m reading People magazine and see a list of “Who’s hot at 40″ I always compare myself to them, but honestly I wasn’t really in Gywneth Paltrow shape before I was 40, so why care now?

I’ve got a pretty good life and am quite happy and sometimes when repeating stories of my youth, pleasantly surprised that I’ve made it this far. I’ve already traveled all over the world, so there’s not this urge to say “I have to go to Paris by the time I turn 40!” Although there’s always a piece of me that wants to go to Paris…ahhh…bread and mustard and soup. And cheese…But, I digress. Let’s just say that I’ve seen some stuff and don’t have the need to go anywhere this year.

My friends have started texting and emailing asking about trips and such and asking what did I have planned? Seriously, I have nothing spectacular that pops into my head. Sure, I’d love a weekend at a friends farm or my family’s ranch in Texas but don’t want to spend the money when we’re saving for other things. And yes, a weekend in the wine country is always nice but we don’t have family here to watch kids to make it easy. And I like spending birthdays with my kids, since they’re pretty much my life.

And then I read an article about a woman who donated 40 sleeping bags to homeless people in her city for her 40th birthday and what a great experience it was for her. And it got me thinking. And you all know how I love thinking.

So, here’s the deal. This year for my 40th birthday, I want nothing. Well, I want nothing in the form of a gift. I do want something, though. From 40 of you, anyway.

For my 40th birthday, I want 40 of my friends to each commit to donating $40, to a charity that is close to my heart.   http://www.gofundme.com/jy0qrs

Covenant House. For many complicated reasons that I won’t get into now, when I was 15, my sister and I were homeless for a week in Southern Florida. They have locations all over the US, not just in Florida. Covenant House is a place where teenagers who need a place to go can find a hot meal, a warm bed and someone to listen to them and hear them about what’s happening that’s brought them to where they are.

They helped us get back to family within a few days with warm smiles and kind hearts. While we were there we met a few kids who’d been there for months. There were some who’d had substance abuse issues and others who’d been mistreated by parents, etc. But it was a sanctuary. And I’ll be forever grateful that when we needed a place to gather our bearings and stay safe, we were able to find Covenant House. Not all teenagers are so lucky.

http://www.covenanthouse.org

So, is there are 40 of you who would step up and let me know if you’ll be able to contribute, we have some time to work on this.

My Birthday isn’t until May 2 and I would love to be able to take our donations to them on my birthday. Even if I only raise 40 bucks, it will be worth it. But if I were able to donate 40 donations of 40, it would be spectacular.

 

**Due to the repsonse to my request, I am truly humbled to have set up an account with gofundme. You can donate to me right here and I’ll take them a check on my birthday. Much love to all.

http://www.gofundme.com/jy0qrs

 

 

 

Friendsick

I’ve been having a weird couple of months. I love living in California. I do. I love the weather, I love the food, I love the trees and the landscape and the people and the sea and the mountains. And I love the way that my kids love California. They’re thriving here and fit in well with everything they do. They play soccer and we spend a lot of time outdoors and have playdates and scouts and we have weekends booked from now until the spring it seems, with nothing but games and parties and events and more parties and then the holidays hit. And life is good. Life is busy. A good busy but busy. I like it busy.

But, I have to tell you a secret. I am Friendsick. It’s a phrase I am coining that means “I miss my friends”. I would be homesick, but as anyone who’s ever spoken to me knows, I’ve always been kind of a gypsy and don’t really have a “home”. Home to me is where David and the girls are, so I’m not really homesick. Sure, I miss Texas but right now?  I am homesick for my friends.

There are a few of them, who not to over simplify the phrase “get me”. The ones who don’t care if I am fat or skinny and have come to expect me to show up at their house wearing yoga pants and a Guns and Roses t-shirt or a ball gown with full hair and makeup done, and they don’t care.  They would just be happy to sit and talk and watch me get sloppy drunk on wine and tell them how I really feel about everyone from Kim Kardashian to the Pope. I know their opinions or have discussed in great length in addition to many other things and in no particular order; religion, abortion, gay rights, gambling, money, infidelity, sex, miscarriages, birth stories, poop, infertility, wine, weight loss, weight gain, marriage, more sex, more religion and of course, books. These are my people. They’ve seen me at my best and at my worst.

Every time I found out I was pregnant, they were the first ones I called, after my sisters. When I had miscarriages, they were there with flowers and a shoulder. And when Emily and Charlotte were born, they were there again with my favorite Daisies and dinner for a week. We’ve thrown baby showers and wedding showers for each other and when a birthday party was labeled as” family only”, it’s a given that we’re all included. We’ve watched each other suffer with infertility issues and had ridiculous amounts of joy when we found out we were having twins! Well, one of us was, after years of trying.

And for a while, it was just us. When we were all living within a few miles of each other and when a 4pm text rang out on a Friday, we knew it was one of us making plans for dinner. Every super bowl, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day and weekend was ours. We were in a groove. If it went a whole weekend without seeing each other, there had better be a good reason. And then..I fucked it up. I moved away.  We left for Singapore and I cried. I worried more about telling them, more than I did telling my family. My family was far away and wasn’t a part of my daily life, like these girls were. And it was hard.

From far away, I watched them do the same fun things and take weekend trips and send me pics and texts from across the ocean, but it wasn’t the same. And when I came into town, they would carve some time out of their challenging schedules,  we would get a hotel and take off our makeup and relax. We’d sit and talk and walk around naked (well, one of us would) and we would just be there. And then I would leave, and they would still have each other and I would be heartbroken every time I said goodbye.

And in just a few weeks, one of them is turning 40. And to mark this occasion, six of us (the three of us glorious red-heads and our husbands) will get to reunite. (Our husbands are pretty good friends as well but they don’t blog about each other). We will reunite, in Mexico. For four glorious children free nights. And while I have a lot of friends that I adore here and have soul mate friends from all over the world, I can tell you without a doubt that these girls are my home. And I can’t wait to cure my Friendsickness with a few rounds of tequila and a lot of laughs. My face hurts from smiling about it already.

 

NSD

The Book

As a few of you know, I’m finally starting to write. And to write a lot. As in, if I keep writing the way I’ve been writing, I’ll have a book about my life by the end of the year!
I’ve never written the way I’ve been writing, and have never written anything longer than a super long blog post about my dad, so it’s been a bit strange but pretty fun so far.
Stories are pouring out of me onto paper and I’ve only gotten to the age of me at 6! I am excited to finally get it all out on paper and am really hoping that I can finish it within a few months. I’m aiming for two chapters a week.
I am not expecting to get it published, but I am fully expecting to at least be able to hand it to someone when they ask me where I’m from or how I got to be who I am. And at the very least, it’ll be something that my girls can someday read and understand why I do the things I do, say the things I say and feel the way I do.
I am doing this for my girls to understand that their mom had this whole incredible amazing crazy life before they were even thought of. And how they gave me the life I had wished for, the whole while I was growing up.
So, that’s the latest with me. I’ll keep you all in the loop.

Fish Tacos

I made the best fish tacos today. And I forgot to take pictures. I’m awesome like that.

David went deep sea fishing on Friday off the coast of Santa Cruz and brought home ten lbs of fish filets. He caught Ling Cod and Rock fish, neither of which I’d ever had. But it was a solid white fish that looked workable.

20140525-201046.jpg

We decided to grill the fish today and made classic fish tacos for some friends. They were amazing.

I scoured Pinterest (shocking, I know) and crafted a variation of my own jalapeño cream sauce to throw on top.

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1 jalapeño, seeds in
1 giant handful cilantro
1 full lime squeezed
1 pinch of salt

I threw this all into my tiny cuisinart and made the best fish taco sauce I’ve ever tasted.

20140525-201132.jpg

I took the fish fillets and generously rubbed them with a combo of Old Bay and Tony Chachere’s and threw it on a grill basket on top of a gas grill for a few minutes. So simple. It takes little to no time to cook, maybe five minutes?

Garnished with cilantro, sliced avocado (Hey! Its California!) shredded lettuce (for me- I don’t like cabbage but I also had cabbage for everyone else) and a squeeze of lime in a nicely warmed corn tortilla.

These were some of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had.

I’m writing this all down so I don’t forget what I did because I loved them so much.

Texas style salsa

20140524-111256.jpg

I’m a girl from California who lived in Texas for 18 years. I love my salsa.

When we moved to Singapore, the closest we got to restaurant style salsa was mild Pace Picante sauce going for 8 bucks a jar at Cold Storage. I’d have gotten a rope and hung myself if I ever had the urge to buy that crap.

So, I did what any other salsa craving woman with half a brain in a foreign country would do. I went on Pinterest and found the best recipe for salsa that looked like it had all the flavors I loved and learned to make it my own. Best. Decision. Ever.

This is the Pioneer woman’s recipe and after adapting it a little to make it my own, I have to say its pretty damn good stuff.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/01/restaurant-style-salsa

She and I share the same beliefs that salsa should not be chunky and should have lots of cilantro. You can buy a variation of diced tomatoes anywhere. And I’ve bought them in little India in Singapore before so I know that for a fact. You can’t however, buy rotel in Asia without a search. You can buy diced tomatoes with green chiles or use a little can of green chiles with a can of diced tomatoes if you can’t find rotel. But now that I can find rotel everywhere, I celebrate it and use it with love.

I use the fire roasted diced tomatoes as I love the depth of flavor it brings. Feel free to use whatever style tomatoes you like. And yes, I know I should use fresh tomatoes but I haven’t experimented with those yet and am not sure how many it would take for the same flavors, etc. I am pretty sure they’d add a great fresh flavor as well. But as I always say. It’s my blog and I can use diced canned tomatoes if I want to.

I alter her recipe a little and use more tomatoes and less rotel but I also add more fresh jalapeño and red onion instead of white. And more fresh garlic. But her recipe is a great jumping off point to make it your own. I am not recipe committed.

Here’s what I use.

2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
1/4 cup Chopped red Onion
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 cup Cilantro (more To Taste!)
1/2 whole Lime Juice
1 tablespoon McCormick’s chipotle chili powder (this is my favorite chili powder in the world)

20140524-100718.jpg

Throw all ingredients together in a cuisinart and let it go for minute until its the consistency that you’re happy with. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Again, I hate chunks so I let mine run a while.

Grab a good tortilla chip and enjoy!

And if I happen to get hit by a bus tomorrow, please make sure to save this post and give it to my kids. They love my salsa and have been begging me to write it down for them. See how I can even take a salsa recipe to a dark place? It’s a gift.

I use these great glass mason jars for salsa storage. I’m fancy like that.

20140524-111131.jpg

20140524-111355.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.