Thursday, June 30, 2011

Family Game Night

I am not a fan of board games.  Or at least, I have not been.  I used to be.  I LOVED them.  Who didn't stay up all night with their friends in 6th grade playing "Mall Madness" or "Sweet Valley High"?  Perhaps you didn't and I was sort of a nerd but whatever, I loved it!  As I have gotten older, simple board games turned to drinking games (thanks college!) and it is has been a long time since I have looked forward to playing.  But thanks to my boys, this has changed.

They love board games.  All sorts.  This trip we have taken a fancy to Monopoly Junior.

I will admit, seeing them get so excited to play a game with their mom and dad changes the way I view them.  Completely brings back the nostalgia of playing with my parents.  Family Game Night really is fun!  We have accumulated some pretty fun, old school games over time.  Beyond Monopoly, here are a few of their favorites...

And yes, they still makes these ones, just in case you were wondering...

But OMG, they are considered collectibles!  Am I THAT old!  What were your favorites???

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bathing Suits, Bathing Suits, Bathing Suits

Since I am living in bathing suits this week, I thought I would share my favorites, both for me and the kids (because obviously their bathing suit fashion matters just as much as mine).

I love ViX swimwear and recently purchased the above suit to update my swimwear wardrobe.  Extremely flattering fit without being too revealing (I go with full bottom) and a ton of options to choose from.  Great news too!  From now until the 4th, take advantage of the following discounts!
Additional 30% off sale using code 4THSALE
20% off web exclusives using code 4THWEB

Milly Swimwear

I love Milly clothes so it is only natural that I would also adore the swimwear line.  Each season there are  a number of adorable prints and I still wear ones that I have had for a couple years.  It has yet to go out of style.  This above one is on sale too!

For my daughter I am obsessed with the swimwear at Janie and Jack.  They always have extremely feminine styles, such as the above one that I recently picked up for our vacation.  It is too cute on and again, on sale!

My boys put these rash guards and board shorts through the ringer and they continue to hold up against EVERYTHING.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Hubby's Fantastic Fish Tacos

The one thing I love about vacation is that it actually gives my hubby some time to take over in the kitchen.  Truth be told, he is a much better cook than I am, but rarely has the time to throw one of his amazing dishes together.  So, on this vacation, I asked for one of my favorites: Fish Tacos.  They are ridiculous.  Here is the recipe.

4 fillets of Talapia or Halibut
1 Packet of Seasoned Fish Fry (he likes "Cajun's Choice)
1/2 c. milk
Canola oil
1 package pre-cut cabbage
8 flour tortillas
Thousand Island dressing

1. Cut each fillet into 4" strips
2. Fill frying pan 1/2" high with oil, heat on high
3. Pour milk over the fish in a large freezer ziplock bag and ensure all strips are coated
4. Add the entire bag of seasoning to the freezer bag and coat all strips
5. Test the heat of the oil by placing one strip into the oil and ensuring it instantly begins frying.  If the strip does not cause a reaction when placed in the oil, the oil is not hot enough yet.
6. Once the oil is ready, continue to place strips of fish into the pan and cook just a couple minutes on each side until it is light brown.

7. Place finished strips on a paper towel lined plate.

8. Once complete, place 3-4 strips on a tortilla, top with cabbage and Thousand Island dressing

What did I do during the cooking process?  This.

They are a fantastic summer dish, served with a salad and a glass of white wine.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

2 parents + 3 children + 1 Yukon + 1 week in Palm Springs = "Oh my we have a lot of crap to take!"  Don't believe me?

So we obviously cannot have a fourth child because there is no where to put them, no one is going to move an inch for the entire drive, and there better not be anything that we forgot.

Palm Springs, here we come!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Who Doesn't Love Feminine?

This season I have a major crush on ubber feminine skirts.  Not usually my taste, as I am normally pretty simple and lean towards black, grey or white.  Perhaps it is the amazing weather we have been having but I am loving all the colors and prints of this season's skirts.  With a couple vacations planned throughout the summer, it is the perfect excuse to pick up a few, but I just cannot put my finger on which ones....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Tutorial: How To Survive While Your Husband Is On A Business Trip

1. Select a bottle of wine

2. Select a wine glass (traditional or stemless will work)

3. Open the bottle of wine

4. Pour the wine into the wine glass

5. Drink

Repeat as necessary

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Margarita Ice-Cream Sandwiches

I decided to return to my Cooking Light (June 2011) after making the Black Beans and Chorizo Appetizer that was fantastic and try another one of their summer recipes.  This one immediately caught my eye as who does not love a Margarita?  I was intrigued and put them to the test.  

Margarita Ice-Cream Sandwiches
Cooking Light, June 2011, Page 146

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
5 Tsp. grate lime rind, divided
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tsp. baking powder
1/8 Tsp. table salt
1 Tsp. Turbinado sugar (if you cannot find it, I used regular sugar and it worked fine)
1/2 Tsp. coarse sea salt
2 c. vanilla reduced-fat ice cream, softened
2 c. lime sherbet, softened

1. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Add egg, 1 Tbsp. lime rind, and line juice; beat 2 minutes or until well combined.

2. Weight or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/8 Tsp. table salt; stir with a whisk.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and beat until combined.
3. Divide dough into 2 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a 6-inch log.  Wrap logs individually in plastic wrap; chill three hours or until firm (I actually only did this for 1 1/2 hours and it was perfect)

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Cut each log into 16 slices, and place 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle the cookies evenly with remaining 2 Tsp. lime rind, turbinado sugar, and sea salt.  Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool.

6. Place vanilla ice cream and sherbet in a medium bowl; lightly fold and swirl together.  Scoop 1/4 c. ice cream mixture onto bottom of one cookie, and top with one cookie.  Cover each sandwich with plastic wrap; freeze 4 hours or until firm.

How did they turn out?  They were a hit!  The kids even loved them.  It definitely has a strong lime flavor with a balance of salty and sweet.  They are extremely refreshing for a summer afternoon.  The one problem is that they were a bit time intensive, but worth the work.  Not as good as a REAL margarita, but a fantastic summertime dessert non-the-less.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

From Cambridge to My Front Door

As mentioned in this post, I have been looking for a great cross-body bag for my upcoming trip to France with the hubby.  I still adore the Mid City tote but found something even better for the trip...a vintage Cambridge Satchel!  I am in LOVE.  Yes I ordered blindly (no way to see something in person that is made across the Atlantic) but it just arrived and it is PERFECT.

It can be carried cross-body or used as a clutch (for non-European vacation nights out).  The pictures make it look larger but it is only 13" across.  It will fit my wallet, passport, small cosmetic case and even some maps of the city so we don't get lost.  Like I said, PERFECT.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Apparently I Enjoy Self Inflicted Pain

Because I continue to schedule family photos each year.  It is always a pain in the ass experience, and continues to get worse with the addition of more children.

Top 10 Downfalls of Family Photos

1. A child inevitably gets a bruise on their face the day before (this year, it was Baby Girl)

2. If you pick summer clothes, it will be freezing.  Warmer clothes and it will be dreadfully hot.

3. You always fall back on the beach (this is an OC thing) and when you look for other locations, you realize there are not many (though this year I did succeed in getting a different spot!)

4. If you are at the beach, people stare at you and you feel ridiculous

5. You dress your children minutes before walking out the door in hopes that they do not spill something on themselves

6. You spent so much time getting everyone else ready that you end up looking like crap and are usually shiny

7. During the shoot, your children suddenly decide to turn on you, one at a time, so that in each picture, one of them is not smiling or looking at the camera

8. One child decides they do not give a crap that you want a good picture (this year it was my diva Baby Girl who screamed bloody murder if we did not let her just sit in the dirt and play)

9. You overdose on bribes to get everyone to take "just one more shot"

10. Six months later the picture is already outdated because children change so fast

The plus side to all this? The photos!

Photo courtesy of Dane Sanders Photography

Photo courtesy of Dane Sanders Photography

And of course the amazing photographer who made it look like none of the above actually happened (and perhaps airbrushed out the bags under my eyes).  Thank you Dane!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Just Adore Father's Day

I really do.  I think it is because I have been blessed with two incredible men in my life: my father and my husband.

There really is no where to begin with my Dad.  He has and continues to be the rock of our family.  For some reason, the world seems like a safer place with my Dad in it.  Sure we have had our fights (Teenage Years = BAD... and probably my fault), but he has taught me that nothing comes before family and that life is only as good as you want to make it.  I have turned to him for so many things in life and his advice is always spot on.  In a lot of ways, I am just like him (this is positive and negative according to me husband...I really do like to win fights.  Thanks Dad!)  And no matter how old I get, I will continue to be a Daddy's Girl.

And then there is my husband.  I watch him everyday in amazement as he juggles his career, his wife, and his children.  I cannot imagine the stress that he bears as the sole bread winner of the family, but you would never know it.  He is the leader of our house, but only speaks up when he needs to (I may have learned how to be stubborn from the prior man...).  He is the ying to my yang.  He has taught me a lot through our (almost) 10 years of marriage and though we continue to have our ups and downs, I cannot imagine life with someone else.

So today I celebrate two men that continue to mold me on a daily basis, look out for me, protect me, and love me more than I could possibly ever understand.

Love you Dad and Hubby!  Happy Father's Day!  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Peach Cooler a la Gwyneth Paltrow

Is there anything this woman can't do?  At this point, I don't think so.  She has now taken on the food world (because if you have already taken on the acting, singing and blogging world, what is left?) and is on the cover Bon Appetit (June 2011).  I picked it up because I was intrigued and wanted to see if any of her recipes really pan out.  I of course started with her alcoholic suggestion because, I mean, who doesn't like a good cocktail.  Here is the recipe...

Peach Cooler
Bon Appetit, June 2011, page 78
Courtesy of Gwyneth Paltrow

2 very ripe peaches , peeled, cut into 1/2" wedges
6 Tbsp. Peach liqueur
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. vodka
1 English hothouse cucumber
2 c. chilled Prosecco
1 1/2 c. chilled soda water
12 fresh mint leaves

1. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, mash the peaches with the liqueur and lemon juice in a large pitcher.
2. Stir in Vodka

Note: this can be made 4 hours ahead.  Just cover and chill!

3. Cut 1/2 of cucumber lengthwise into 4 spears of garnish.
4. Thinly slice remaining cucumber.

5. Stir Prosecco, soda water, mint, and sliced cucumber into pitcher.
6. Fill glasses with ice.  Pour cooler into glasses; garnish with cucumber spear

The verdict?  Absolutely DELISH!  It was extremely refreshing and not nearly as sweet as Sangria (which was a positive for the hubby).  The only thing to note is that this only make 4 servings so if you have people over, I would at least double the recipe, if not more.

PERFECT for a summer evening!  Yes, Gwyneth, you really can do it all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

One of My Favorites: Being Green

Before I begin this post, I must confess.  I drive a Yukon.  YES, I understand my carbon footprint.  I get it. Should I be driving it?  No.  Do I love it?  Absolutely.  Am I perfect?  Nope.  So, moving on.

Besides my beast of a car, I actually do make a HUGE effort to be more green and earth friendly when it comes to what my family eats, how we clean and the products I use on the little ones.  I have tested numerous products and have developed some absolute favorites.  Here is my quick list of what you all need to go out and try, especially if you drive an SUV like me....

AMAZING reusable shopping bags.  Fabulous prints, carry a TON and are machine washable.  RuMe has a ton of products available but these are my favorite.

There is no greater smell than a baby washed in Mrs. Meyers Baby Blossom Shampoo and them smothered in the lotion.  YUMMY!  I actually think the entire Mrs. Meyers Baby Blossom line is fantastic and continue to use it for Baby Girl.

I have found that these tablets work better than other green products for the dishwasher.  Believe me, I have tried a TON.

I used this soap to wash all of Baby Girl's bottles and continue to use it for her pacificers.  Cleans them well, smells good and does not leave a filmy residue on anything.  

I probably go through a tub of these a week due to my children having the amazing ability to spill EVERYTHING.  I use them to wipe up every mess and to disinfect all of our toys.  They are my right hand man.

I adore our local CSA program and if you have not heard about it, go to the above link and check it out.  Each week you pick up a basket from a local farm filled with organic fruits and vegetables that were picked only days (if not a day) before.  You never know what you are going to get, but that is what makes it fun as you try things you would never pick out yourself at the store.  It also leads to a ton of variety and supports local agriculture.  As an additional note, the price you pay is VERY reasonable vs. what you would spend for the exact same organic produce at your local Whole Foods.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pool Bag: Major Dilemma Here

Yesterday was my first official day of venturing out to the pool with all three kids by myself this summer.  I knew I had a LOT to take with me but I also knew that I had the perfectly large, over-sized tote to pack it all in.  I was determined to take only one bag as I found it completely annoying that for two hours I would need two.  So, I packed up the bag.  This is one one that we have...

Family Tote by Pottery Barn

Looks great right?  WRONG.  The bag was packed so tight that I thought I was going to fall over walking in.  Nothing was organized and things kept falling out everywhere.  When we left the pool, I shoved everything in the best that I could (potentially using my foot to shove it in there) and this is what it came home looking like...

GROSS! Such a mess!  Since then I have been scouring the internet looking for something to hold all of our stuff.  I am not willing to admit that I am a family so large that we need two pool bags.  Unfortunately, nothing is coming up.  Short of bringing a suitcase with us, the measurements of all bags are coming in at the exact same size.  Soo, I started fantastizing about what bag I could use if I had no children with me, with only the need to carry some magazines, water bottle, sunscreen and a book...

Striped Canvas Tote by Vix Swimwear

Canvas Beach Tote by Tory Burch

Sophie Tote by Kate Spade NY

Hmmm, perhaps I do need two.  One for the kids and one for me....
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