Archive for February, 2012

Our good friends invited us to the Lindsay Wildlife Animal Musuem and we loved it. The museum was interactive with simulations, talks by volunteers, wildlife for the kids to see, and a real vet hospital which operates on injured animals.

The museum has a wonderful program which takes in injured animals for free and helps them so they can be re-released back the wild. The kids had a chance to see a real vet operate on an eagle. Afterwards, everyone had a chance to ask questions. I was proud of Sunshine. He asked “Where does the eagle sleep?” The volunteer responded “In the tree.” He then responded, “I mean here.” Everyone chucked. I am impressed with his confidence and his ability to respond quickly.

Flying like a bird .. pretty cool simulation.

Look how close we to the eagle.

The kids had a great time looking the tools in the vet hospital.

It was so cool see the vets operate to save an eagle broken leg.


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We spent the afternoon with some friends at the Palo Alto Center’s Holiday Family Day. It was a wonderful event filled with free craft activities for the kids. We enjoyed live music and explored the Cubberley Artist’s Open Studios which houses some of the SF Bay Area’s most talented artists. We’re definitely coming again next year!

Cut, glue, paste ... such fun.

Free form clay art. The kids have fun expressing themselves.

Hammering into metal to make a key chain charm.

Sunshine's colored drawing printed onto paper via letterpress. The artist said he had powerful strokes and was extremely expressive.

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It’s the Year of the Dragon and Chinese New Year just passed us. To celebrate, we created our own firecrackers by decorating with homemade salt glitter. You can make the glitter by using table salt and adding food coloring or acrylic paint in a bowl. To speed of the process, we baked the salt glitter for 10 minutes at 350  degree.

After we made the glitter (this took one afternoon), Sunshine painted the toilet paper rolls then rolled them in glitter paint. They turned out quite nice.

Beware, it can be a bit messy as you can see from below. Get ready for lots of glitter mess!

Sunshine loved mixing the different colored salt glitter so he could create the perfect glitter.

Painting the firecrackers so they can be ready for our glitter salt.

Our final salt glitter firecracker!


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So, part of Sunshine’s daily chores is to help me unload the dishwasher. I’m amazed by how he does it. It’s definitely an art in progress. He carefully places each item and even rearranges the pieces to suit his design. Did you notice the red chopsticks and green spoon strategically placed and the spoon sticking from under the small plate (on the right side of the photos)? Creative yet organized with consideration for open space.

I’m grateful for the help as it save me some time and in the process I see how things can be done another way. He’s version of unloading is a little different from mine. And, maybe yours?

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So, I’m been on a stew craze. I love these one pot wonders for dinner because I can prep at night and cook a few hours before dinner. I usually freeze a portion and have it for as a backup dinners on days I don’t have time to cook a yummy meal. These recipes made the cut so hope you enjoy them too!

White Bean & Kale Soups
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup (or more) dried white beans
1 diced yellow onion
3 chopped carrots
3 chopped celery stalks
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 (32-ounce) box chicken or veg broth
1 bunch of chopped kale
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Day of cooking, rinse the beans in cool water. Cover the beans in approximately an inch of water and let them soak until you are ready to cook. About 2 or more hours before serving: In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook for 3 more minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the broth and beans with their soaking water. Bring to a rapid/big boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then cover and simmer on low (see how low you can go and still get the occasional simmer bubble). Simmer for approximately 2 or more hours and the beans are tender. Add kale and tomatoes and cover. Cook 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Serve hot.
Sunshine’s favorite out of all the stews we have tried .. White Bean and Kale.
Cod Chowder with Kale and Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 thick-cut slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon paprika
3 8-ounce bottles clam juice
½ cup water
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, but into ½-inch pieces
¾ cup whipping cream
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1½ pounds Pacific cod, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium bunch kale (about 5 ounces), finely chopped (about 2 cups)
Cook the bacon in a heavy large pot over medium heat until brown and crisp, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel and drain. Add the onion, bay leaves and thyme to the pot. Sauté until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika. Add the clam juice, ½ cup water, and then the potatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the potatoes are just tender about 8 minutes. Add the cream and drained bacon to the chowder. Sprinkle the cod with salt and pepper. Add the cod and kale to the soup. Simmer until the fish is opaque in the center (to check, cut into a piece of fish with a small knife or break apart with a spoon), stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle the chowder into warmed bowls and serve.
Autumn Lamb Stew
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds lamb stew meat, preferably cut from the shoulder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 cups small new red potatoes, halved
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 medium parsnip, roughly chopped
1 medium white turnip, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup frozen cut green beans, thawed
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cumin, pepper, rosemary, paprika, and salt together with your fingers. Spread the mixture on a large plate. Roll lamb in spice mixture, coating well on all sides.In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Working in batches if needed, add lamb and brown well on all sides. Add 2 cups water and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and onions. Cover and continue to simmer for another hour. Add green beans and peas. Simmer another 5 minutes, just until beans and peas are tender. Ladle stew into bowls and serve.

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So, I’m a bit addicted to design shows. I love the remodels, the before and after, the possibilities, the creativity… So, here is my ist of fav shows. What are yours?

Picker Sisters  I love how creative these two gals are. They have an eye for treasures which they find on their road trips and turn them into beautiful furniture pieces. My favorite  are hanging chairs made from a grain silo. I heard they are being cancelled. So, bummed!

Sarah’s House   This is my fav show. I love her design style. She and her sidekick Tommy are fun to watch and have great taste. It would be a dream to work for her or have her design my house.  Sarah … Are you coming to California anytime soon???

Home by Novogratz  Bob and Cortney Novogratz are a husband and wife design team. They are based in New York and have a funky edge which I just love.

Selling New York  In a past life, I lived and worked in New York City and loved the hustle and bustle of the city along with art and culture the city has to offer. Whenever possible, I’d watch Broadways shows, catch a symphony,  take a stroll through Central Park, or have dinner in K town . When I watch the show, I’m reminded of this time. At the same time, I’m amazed by how grand some of the apartments and homes are.

Selling LA  This is a spinoff of Selling New York. I’ve only watched a few times and can’t believe how crazy expensive LA can be. There can’t be a recession there??

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One of my favorite places to go is Hawaii because of my love of the ocean and the warm weather. So, a friend recommend taking a drive to Pescadero which is only 45 min drive from my house. I have never been there so was pleasantly surprised by how charming the town was. We had lunch at Durates, a local favorite, known for their Cream of Artichoke soup. Then, we spent the afternoon enjoying the ocean and beautiful sunny day. The smell of the salt water, the cool breeze, and the gentle crash of waves provided us a recharge. I can’t wait for us to drive along Highway 1 again and explore other beaches.

Cute general store with yummy sandwiches.

Just love it!

Sunshine's sand castles.

He's on top of the world. Lucky bird.

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