Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Culinary Adventure

The girls and I went on a culinary adventure in the valley today. It had been quite awhile since we ventured out with hopes of treating our taste buds to new flavors, so we rallied up friends and googled Best Cheap Eats in Los Angeles. Our search led us to try banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) at a tiny little place in Alhambra.

Everything on the menu sounded delish, but all of the pork sandwiches had , so ew. I went with the beef banh mi and it was the right choice!

What makes banh mi so yummy are all the layers of flavor. Mine was filled with marinated beef, sweet Asian slaw, jalapenos, peanut sauce, and house made mayo. So many flavors were represented between my baguette: sweet, salty, spicy, and cool. It was so tasty. The best part though? Every sandwich cost $3. So worth the trip out of town! 

There are so many great places to eat here in LA, there's no excuse for me not to try something new every week. My summer bucket list has several more culinary adventures planned. If you could dine anywhere in Los Angeles, what would you try?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Divine Protection

Since the girls were tiny little embryos growing inside my body, I have prayed for them. Specifically, I pray for their protection. I do this because I know how little and vulnerable they are and Almighty God is the only One who can fully protect them. Also, I know I can't keep them safe from everything. I'm human and accidents can happen.

Thankfully, my girls have had very few bad accidents, but that has never stopped me from praying for protection. More than protection though, Divine protection. Miraculous protection. Protection that only comes from God. I believe in prayer and there is nothing I wouldn't do to protect my girls. So I pray! And I am so glad Father God is faithful to protect my children.

The other night, Penelope was running to the bathroom to brush her teeth and tripped over her feet. She face-planted on the sharp corner of the door frame and after the sickening thud, she SCREAMED in pain. I scooped her up without looking at her injuries, just knowing that her face would be split open and covered in blood when I finally did look.

She was really red and bruised, but no blood. It kind of felt like a miracle because of the velocity at which she ran and fell into the door frame. I'm sad she fell and bruised her sweet little face, but I'm so thankful her injuries aren't any worse. Thank you, Jesus!

How do you pray for your children?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

AZ Girls Week

We spent last week in Arizona at my aunt's house having our 2nd annual desert girls week. Just like last year, we had so much fun.

My niece, Ryan, was a great playmate for my girls. The 3 of them ran circles through Pam's house playing tag and pretending to be puppies. It hurts my heart that they only get to play once or twice a year, but they sure do make the most of their time together. It was wild and hilarious watching the 3 little girls play nonstop every day.

Beatrice learned how to swim in Pam's pool! She is always so confident in the water and has never shied away from jumping in, so it was time to take the floaties off and teach her how to swim properly. By the end of the week, she was swimming strong and never put the floaties back on.

Our week was pretty chill. We swam and shopped and cooked and ate. Most days started slowly with coffee and bagels before we eased our way into the pool until nap time. The little girls rested while the big girls tanned, shopped, and caught up on our reading. No one bathed until dinner time and we wore makeup maybe 2 times all week. It felt like a vacation.

It was hard to say goodbye. My girls cried the first 30 minutes into our drive home. We love this tradition and hope to continue it for a long time (and add to our girls - Jenni, Erin, get yo-selves to the desert next year!).

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pool Days

Our neighborhood pool opened last weekend and I think we've been swimming everyday this week! The girls are little fish, they love to swim and are brave to jump off the side of the pool into the coolest belly flops ever seen. It's going to be a great summer with these two!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Rib Masters

I have a weird thing to admit: I'm afraid of meat. Weird, right?!

What I mean is I'm afraid to prepare it, everything except chicken and ground beef, that is. For the first 5 years of marriage, I cooked everything other than chicken dishes and ground beef dishes in the CrockPot for fear of undercooking a tough cut of protein. I love to cook and read restaurant menus online (nerd alert!) for fun. I study tough recipes like I'll be tested on them later, I should not be afraid to cook a brisket or tenderloin!

Baby back ribs have always been at the top of my scary meal list. Ribs seem so time sensitive and finicky. So much could go wrong! And we don't have a smoker - don't ribs need giant smokers or other meat cooking contraptions?! JD suggested we try it, we are smart after all, we could learn the secret of the perfectly tender, fall off the bone ribs.

So we did. I read a bazillion rib recipes online before going with the instructions on the packaging on the meat. They. Are. Perfect. We are amazing rib making people! Who knew?!

Our rib preparing method:

Coat meat generously with dry rub, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (overnight is best). Preheat oven to 325, wrap marinated meat loosely in foil and place on a foil lined sheet pan arc side up (like a rainbow). Add 1/2 cup of water inside the foil wrapped meat. Seal tightly and bake for 2 - 2.5 hours. Remove from oven, cover ribs with BBQ sauce (optional) and cook on grill at medium heat for 15 minutes. Eat!

Dry rub recipe:
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper

These ribs are so tasty, a little spicy, and fall-off-the-bone delicious. We had them tonight and after stuffing my face, I couldn't believe how silly I have been all these years avoiding them. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Disney Days

At the first of the year, we bought Disneyland season passes with Christmas money from my family. I knew it would be a gift that the girls (and I!) could enjoy all year. Boy have we had fun!

We have been to the parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) every week since January, except for the the 2 weeks we were in Tennessee. It has been a blast exploring and getting to know every square inch of the happiest place on earth.

JD bought a pass on my birthday and he has been using vacation days to join us for the past few weeks. It has been great having him with us. I typically take the girls by myself and while there are some definite challenges as the only adult, it's doable and we all have a great time. But having daddy with us means more roller coasters and less stroller pushing for me!

JD is learning what it means to be a Disney season pass holder. Basically, getting at the park 30 minutes prior to opening and staying until close, never eating during traditional mealtimes because ride lines are shorter then, and being ready to ditch the stroller anywhere to sprint to the rides with the shortest lines. He gets better each week.

We are about to be blocked for the busy summer season so this week's trip is probably our last until the fall. We made the most of it by staying late and riding many rides that we skip due to the long wait times. We had a great time and will be sad to take a break.

10 tips from this seasoned season pass holder:

* Bring band-aids and ibuprofen. Headaches plague me nearly every trip and one or both of my girls scrape a knee more often than not. Be prepared!
* Watching a show is a great way to escape the sun and heat and get off of your feet for a bit. Some of our favorites are Muppet Theatre, Peter Pan Story Time, and Turtle Talk with Crush.
* Download wait time apps on your smartphone so you know which rides have the shortest waits. This saves you from wasting precious time walking around when you could be riding!
* Skip the parades to ride the most popular rides. There will probably still be a wait, but it will be much shorter with most park-goers watching the parade instead.
* Get there early. The whole parking and entering the park process takes time. The earlier you arrive, the less crowded it will be and the more RIDES you get to ride! We rode 4 within the first hour yesterday!
* Pack all your meals. Disney can be (relatively) cheap. Most trips we buy nothing at all. I pack tons of food and a giant gallon jug of icy lemon water and we spend nothing all day.
* Eat lunch/dinner on rides! I am sort of hardcore about using our time wisely while at DL. Any wasted time not riding something is a source of frustration for me so we eat on trains, steamboats, and on the monorail. Not every ride allows this and obviously you don't want to eat on a turbulent ride, but find the slow-moving ones and chow down. Once it's over, you'll have plenty of energy to sprint to Indiana Jones!
* Bring sunscreen and a change of clothes for everybody. I love the water rides, but walking around with wet underwear all day is miserable. Bring lightweight changes and stash them in a plastic bag at the bottom of your stroller/backpack.
* Figure out what your most comfortable pair of shoes are and wear those. Tennis shoes kill my feet after wearing them all day. For me, TOMS are the most comfy. Wear what makes your feet hurt the least. You will be walking miles.
* Likewise, put shoes on your kids that they cannot remove! I've seen more discarded toddler shoes than I can count where some kid, bored in their stroller, kicked off a shoe while their poor mother was oblivious.

Disneyland is really fun and we are blessed to live so close. What's your favorite thing to eat/ride/see at Disney?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Land of the Free

Howdy! We have had the best weekend swimming in the neighborhood pool, walking to the beach with friends, and doing some home improvements. It's so nice to live in such a beautiful place with good friends to enjoy holiday weekends with.

We went to the beach today and as I was walking across the park to take Penelope potty, we passed folks in all types of beach attire from very provocative to fully covered up swimming clothes. I'm so grateful to live in a place where my daughters are free to wear what they please. I hope they make conservative choices, but I'm relieved they won't be accosted (or worse) for baring skin at the beach.

I'm so thankful to live in America, to live in a land with so many freedoms and choices. And I'm thankful for all of the service people and their families for their sacrifice. Freedom comes with a cost and I am so grateful for those selfless heroes. May God bless you and the U.S.A.