Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Home Made Cheez-its

Photo: Home made cheeze its...not very pretty but oh so very yummy! http://instagr.am/p/L8iKSOgCuP/Photo: Home made Cheeze Its!! I LOVE going to my aunts house! I get to see my three crazy cousins and yesterday we picked blackberries and made jam with them!

we made cheez-its this weekend using this recipe from Prudent Baby. I used aged white cheddar, so they have a bit of a bite - they did not pass the kid test so much in this house. Next time i will try and use sharp cheddar or maybe medium cheddar and see if the kiddos like them more. I also want to try and use this recipe too! so fun...making something you wouldn't think of making normally...

we ate them last night as croutons on our salad and it was genius...not to brag...too late...but pretty stinking genius. now i am thinking of maybe breading some fish with the crumbs and lightly saute-ing it inside a cheez-it jacket...how good does that sound? oh the possibilities!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pool Chemical Myth-Busters for Summa-Time

so....my husband and i have owned/run a pool business for the last 10 1/2 years...i also took the LA Health Department class on water safety...but - i never took the test...so, i am not licensed...but owning a pool business for 10 years should make me licensed by some loop-hole i think...i don't often share that world here...but this weekend i was having a discussion with mamas who were talking about pools and pool chemicals and i realized there are a lot of commonly believed myths about pools and chlorine, so i just thought it would be super nice of me to share some of that here...hopefully you learn something new...but if you already know it all - call me - we will put you to work!

1. Myth #1 - My hair/ My daughter's hair turns green from the chlorine

Actually - the green is from copper piping in the pool, NOT chlorine...well - i guess it is partly chlorine's fault since it erodes the copper from the copper piping, thereby causing copper elements to be in the water...but newer pools are all built with PVC generally. You only find copper piping now-a-days in older pools. (something to back me up here)

2. Myth #2 - I can smell the chlorine - that means there is too much chlorine in the pool.

This is the most common misnomer with pools...the smell that you are smelling is actually the result of all the chlorine being used up...that means - GET OUT OF THE POOL/SPA! this is a bad sign. When chlorine is in the water - you should not be able to smell it. Chloramines are the active chlorine that attach itself to bacteria - the smell you smell is the chloramines being all used up. when a pool or spa gets to this point you need to "shock" the water with a bunch of chlorine to "oxidize" the pool and re-generate the cleaning/sanitizing agent in the chlorine.

Bryson at 3 Weeks
3. Myth #3 - Salt Water pools are Chlorine Free

Lately the salt water pools have become our biggest nemesis. A normal salt water pool works with a "saline generator" - basically it generates the sodium chloride (salt) and releases the most corrosive form of chlorine - chlorine gas. you basically are turning salt into chlorine...but the highest corrosive form of chlorine. so you will most likely see deterioration happen a lot quicker on all of your pool equipment. Plus you are releasing chlorine gas!!

i must say that if you are able to maintain your chemical levels perfectly (which is extremely difficult to do with most salt water pools) you will not see as many problems...they will happen about the same rate as a chlorinated pool, however - if you are thinking of installing a system because it will save you money - double think...(and read this and this and this)

4. Beware of all "Kiddie" Type Anything - Pools or Fountains

My husband is usually pretty okay about our kids and public pools - he can usually tell just by the clarity of the water if there is enough chlorine and if it is properly maintained (NOTE: if the water is cloudy, especially to where vision to the bottom is impaired DO NOT go in!) but...the one thing he has always steered clear of is kiddie pools and fountain things...fountains that spit from the ground...types of things.

Now - dont get me wrong - I am sure Disneyland has properly chemmed water...i am sure big water parks have all types of electronic chemical systems...but i am talking about the ones at little parks or the ones in outdooor shopping malls - those types of things...my husband used to check them - he used to service some of them and they never would have enough chemicals in them.

A basic understanding of chlorine...chlorine 101 - heat zaps chlorine...fast...so any spa, any heated pool, any body of water under the sun - unless maintained on a regular basis will lose chlorine fast. especially a shallow body of water like a kiddie pool...that stuff needs chlorine continuously - and hopefully they have strong chlorinators attached to them, but just looking at them grosses me out. Also a fountain that has a low gallon amount being constantly exposed to the heat.

Because he used to clean pools, we would have little test strips - mainly he would use them if we ever rented a house with a pool where our kids would be in a lot, but they are not that expensive and come in a little plastic bottle the size of an aspirin bottle and can put your mind at ease super easily.

Hope that information over-load helps a little! Feel free to ask any other questions you may have and I will edit the post to answer them!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Urban Foraging - Blackberry Picking

(I am pre-dating this post since I forgot to post about it last June and want to remember for next year!)

Right when school got out this year we went to the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary to pick some of their blackberry bushes that are growing wildly. We had quite the group and it was so much fun to send the kiddos out to help us collect blackberries - hello child labor! love it! my kids got a little bored after a while, but i was on a mission to get enough to make some jam, so maybe next year there will be more focus...i was only able to get enough to make about 4 cups worth. So yummy though! home-made blackberry jam is my fave!

Apparently these bushes are planted to attract certain kinds of birds for the bird refuge nearby. We got there a little late in the season - it would probably be best to go early June and we will definitely be going again next year- i am all about free produce :)

mom, can i stop now? no...

This tree made me laugh

the ongoing bushes

the free labor

Loving Friends

the bounty

the jam

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Vintage Backyard Picnic Baby Shower











My baby sister is having a baby...and a baby girl, no less! There is a lot of excitement around here. I am so beyond thrilled to meet sweet Riley. Lord knows this family needs some girls! I am going to share more about the shower on our family blog, but thought here would be a good place to share some of the details about party particulars.

Not sure if the correct theme was backyard picnic (since we weren't sitting on the ground) or maybe it should have been Vintage Floral...anyway - this is the third or fourth party i have thrown with a similar theme, since it is the only things i have in ways of tablecloths, etc to throw a party.

The day was so lovely - plenty of shade thanks to our pine trees...of which i am grateful because i did not want to have to get a bunch of umbrellas! and plenty of lovely ladies around...and the food was pretty delicious and simple - chicken salad sandwiches, fruit, spinach salad and caprese. We ordered small desserts from Sweet and Saucy and I tried about 3 different ones and they were all amazing!

My sister's best friend from college - Liz helped me throw the shower and it is always so nice to attempt something like this with a partner. I did get a few things in preparation for the party - all of which were purchased at thrift stores. I would pick up white salad plates whenever i saw them at a thrift store - they are usually .50 - $1 and usually better quality than if i were to go to IKEA and get all matching ones. I also found the sweetest eclectic mix of vintage napkins at the Assistance League Thrift Store on 4th st. The Coleman Dispenser was also a thrift find at $5 - so was the mustard yellow cooler (it leaks but it held the ice the entire party pretty good!). The flowers for the most part are all in vintage blue mason jars, which was a flea market find. The tablecloths come from various places - I realize that there aren't any really good shots of them but the one on the table on the far left was from a thrift store, the middle was from a flea market and the one on the right was from Etsy.

It was so fun to find little treasures for this party. it has been a while since i have been on a good thrifting hunt! on one of my adventures i found something pretty special...i will have to share it with you soon (it deserves its own post...trust)

The pictures in order:
a. The table all set
b. Finishing touches
c. in case you want to take a nap!
d. Bevvies - home-made beer, lemonades and wine
e. Thank you notes that people addressed and more wine
f. gettin fed
g. the lovely mama to be and her big sister
h. action shot
i. the onesie crafting table
j. The Riley banner i made using my yellow scraps

DIY Pizza Sauce

the great thing about having a DIY pizza sauce is that there is no cooking needed...you just whisk all the ingredients together and Voila! yummy home-made pizza sauce without who knows what-all is in it stuff you get at the store! we make a pizza at least once a week - its a great way to get rid of left-overs and veggies...sometimes i like to throw cooked leftover veggies in the food processor or blender and add some water and add it into the sauce. it works especially well with sweet potatoes!

We tried this recipe and it was a success with all my boys - even the picky big one...picky as in, Italian Food snob, not picky as in a picky eater - he will eat anything! (luckily)

All Purpose Pizza Sauce (Better Homes and Gardens Feb 2012)

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 or 1/2 cup water (depending on thickness/consistency)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Salad

I was at a friend's house for dinner a month or so ago and her friend was there who works at Amy's Farm in Ontario (you should plan to go if you haven't - cutest farm!) - anyway - she made this salad....and I only was able to get the recipe because she mentioned that a friend blogged about it.

Here is the original post and original recipe - Purple Mizuna and Kale Salad

I loved the dressing and wanted to make it, but didn't want to run to the store with 3 kids, so I used what I had...Spinach, Chicken, Goat Cheese, Mixed Dried Berries, Pistachios and Sunflower Seeds - so good! I've made it like 5 times since.

Here is the super simple dressing recipe (From Heidi):
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper

If you double the recipe it fits perfectly in a 12 oz mason jar!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cabrillo Tide Pools

Last week I went on my son's Kindergarten field trip to the Cabrillo Tide Pools (in San Pedro, CA). I had taken the boys there myself a year ago, but i went to the wrong area...it was good to see the correct area to go to and also get to learn a little more about them. i pick his field trips completely selfishly :) Field trips are also tricky - i must say - i have to do it during my work day, which means i have to be answering texts and emails and i felt bad, but at the same time - its the only way i can be there...i limited my phone time to bus and lunch, but still. bryson didnt want to sit with me on the bus by the way...pshaw...whatevs...

anyway - so i went on this field trip - turns out the whole thing was outside. the kids went through stations and learned about marine life, grunions (the grunions do their infamous run around this time every year at the beach the kids were at...in fact they are supposed to be doing their thang tomorrow! Info HERE) - it was cool...but the coolest part was when they gave them each a little jar with sand and they filled it halfway with water and swirled it around and hatched little baby grunions! i thought it was pretty cool...i kept asking bryson if i could have a turn...

after the learning part - they had the option to either explore the tide pools or tour the aquarium...i am so glad his teacher decided to check out the tide pools - it was by far the coolest part! we found big crabs, sea urchins, sea stars, anemones...and it was gorgeous out there! i just finished reading this fantasy book, and i couldnt help thinking how other-worldly this place was...the landscape of it all was just so captivating!

the field trip actually consisted of a kinder class and a 5th grade class. they have paired up with a 5th grader all year as their reading buddy...and i was so impressed with the 5th graders. such neat kids - they really took their job of looking after their buddy seriously. they would not let them leave their side on the rocks and they were so kind and helpful and encouraging! i told the teacher i loved them and she agreed she had a pretty special class.

I would definitely recommend going - especially around this time of year as well. The aquarium is free, but they suggest a donation and the tide pools can be found (if facing the aquarium) off of the big rocks to the left and back of the museum.

Pictures in order:
1. The Tide Pools
2. Bryson and his reading buddy checking out the crabs
3. Hatching grunion eggs
4. Reading Buddies!
5. Pretty colors in the Tide Pools