Monday, May 31, 2010

Back to SB

I am the crazy lady who drove from Arizona to California and back with her two babies but without her husband. It actually wasn't too bad of a drive because the kids are so good in the car, but the dinner stop was hard. They slept a lot on the way. (Yay!) I almost did too.(Boo!) They were pretty good on the way back, but we had our moments.
While in Santa Barbara we stayed with my parents. In one room. It ended up working out surprisingly well. We needed the other rooms for Tracy and her posse (Lorelie, Ashlee and Steve. Brad and his wife came, but didn't stay the night at the house.)

Here's the travelogue:

Thursday: Arrive late. Talk to family for a while anyway. Sleep.

Friday: Drive up to the mountains with Tracy and hang out with Mom, Lori, William, and 2 week old Zachary. Have lunch there and laze around the river for a while. See some dear. Head down the mountain and go to the Hixon's house. Talk and order pizza for dinner.

Saturday: Go to the beach and rent one of those tourist bikes that holds a lot of people and enjoy a cruise around the warf area with Mom, Asher, Gwen, Tracy and her friends Lorelie and Ashlee. Drop kids off for nap time and walk around Paseo Nuevo. Head back for a fantastic Mills BBQ.

Sunday: Go to church with no husband and two kids during nap time. Miss out on the talks due to Asher yelling things like "I don't LIKE to whisper!" and "I don't WANT to be reverent!" as well as the need to distract a hungry baby. Forgo talking to anyone due to the necessity of taking grumpy (Asher) and hungry (Gwen) kids home. Go to the I Maddonari chalk festival (sans children) with Tracy and friends. Run into The Nelsons. Take pictures. Another Mills BBQ. Hang out with the family (including the Wrenns) and give William and Asher a bath. After Wrenns leave, play the game "Things" with Tracy's funny friends until we are all too tired.

Monday: Hang out with the family. Have hamburgers. Allez chez Hixon to be with the in-laws and the Westenskows. Go to La Cumbre Plaza with all the girls. Observe my skinny nieces in cute clothes and swimwear. Come back, chat, go back to the Mills home. Chill.

Tuesday: Get everything together and go. Have a harder time going back than coming out. Be VERY happy to see Dan.

If you want a more detailed recap, feel free to visit my beautiful sister's blog. We didn't do everything together, but we did a lot! And she has a lot of pictures.
I just love these two... had to post!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


We saw the movie Julie/Julia two days ago. I liked it for a few reasons.
a) Meryl Streep is the best. She IS Julia.
b) Amy Adams looked like a normal person. She wasn't Hollywood skinny and she kind of had an unattractive mullet. Also, her character was married to the character she was living with. Love that.
c) The plot was refreshing and not the average Hollywood formula.
d) The movie was pro-blog.
e) I have a connection or two with Julia Child.

Let me explain that last one. First of all I had some voice students in Santa Barbara who's parents were like BFFs with Julia Child. They were even photographed in Martha Stewart's magazine with her at a dinner party before Julia passed away.
Also, I've met Julia Child. I was acting in a Gilbert and Sullivan show at the Santa Barbara Women's Club and she was in the audience. Afterward, she wanted to meet the cast members. So, I got my picture taken with her. Just me and Julia. I never got a copy of that picture, unfortunately. She met Dan too. We were engaged and I was 20 years old and Julia was a little concerned. She was a sweet lady. She also asked me about my "marks" in school.
One of the reasons I loved this movie is it made me understand her more. I didn't know much about her when I met her. Now I realize maybe the reason she was concerned about my engagement is because she got married for the first time when she was in her late 30s. (But Julia, I'm just as in love with my husband as you were! Eight years and counting.) I wish I could meet her again now. I would have a lot more to say.
I also thought for some reason that it was really cool that I accomplished something, without even trying, that Julie in the movie wanted so badly to do. Somehow it made me feel accomplished. Odd, I know.

The last reason I liked this movie is I think it inspired my husband. He made some delicious tacos for lunch today and we made YUMMY bread this afternoon. I've already had three fat slices.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How is it done?

So, for those who want to know how to spend $30 a week on groceries, I'll tell you what I do. There is no guarantee that this will work for you. Remember, this is eating in to my food storage a little bit. And I don't count diapers and toiletries, mostly because I buy those in bulk and they last a LONG time.

I should tell you, we are an "eat meat sparingly" kind of family. And when I say sparingly, I mean it. I think this is the most cost effective way to eat. I buy some bulk frozen hamburger and some frozen chicken tenderloins from Costco about once every six months. I buy frozen shrimp every so often.

Also, I am a "creative" cook. If I don't have everything for a recipe, sometimes I omit or substitute. Sometimes I end up liking the results better than the original.

Here is a sample of what I bought one week:
(from Costco)
5 dozen eggs ... $4.19
100 corn tortillas ... $2.79
50 8" flour tortillas ... $3.69
2 pound block of cheddar .. $4.49
2 pound block of monty jack ... 4.49
(from grocery store)
bag of potatoes ... $ .98
2 bell peppers ... $ .98
bag of oranges ... $ .98
bag of onions ... $ .98
gallon of milk .. $1.68
spaghetti noodles ... $1.59
head of lettuce ... $ .40
a few cans of tomato sauce ... $ 2.00
a few cans of pinto beans ... $1.00

Ok, so that ends up to be about $30. I have to just say "no" to junk food, ice-cream, and novelty items, which I suppose makes me healthier in the long run anyway. And I add up prices as I go, always rounding up. I think to myself, "do I really need this item this week?" and if the answer is "I guess not" I don't get it. Also, when I go to the grocery store to purchase food I always get whatever veggies and fruits are cheapest, whatever they may be.
Here are the meals you can make with all this food:
Cheese enchiladas (And make a second pan for the freezer for next week) and beans
spaghetti with garlic bread and salad
potato soup with salad and muffins (from pantry)
stir fry with rice and oranges
Etoufee with rice
roasted pepper quiche with baked potatoes
quesadillas, oranges and beans
heuvos rancheros

Of course, you will have loads of eggs and tortillas (and probably cheese) left over for next week, so you can free up the majority of your $30 budget to buy other staples you may be running low on like flour, rice, frozen veggies, pancake mix or meat.

Well, that is the gist. With that said, I did do this the whole first year we were married, but it is a lot harder now with two kids. I have decided that $60 is much more comfy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Food Extravaganza

Lately we have been trying this experiment where I only spend $30 a week on groceries. Thirty per week is what I spent on groceries for about the first year of our marriage. It is harder with two kids, but doable if you don't count diapers and the occasional supplemental baby formula. Also, we are eating into our food storage a little bit. Lesson learned: either food has gotten more pricey in 7 years, or kids really are expensive!

Today I felt like cooking. A lot. I made crock pot potato soup and blueberry muffins for dinner. I also made chalupes for later and a roasted veggie soup that I can use as a base for lasagne and other italian dishes this week. I had, as Dan put it, a "cookingpalooza" today. I'm probably going to make bread now because we ran out and Dan brings lunch to work.

I made my favorite yummy easy salad for dinner as well. I will share the recipe:

Arugula Salad

-arugula lettuce (can be found at most supermarkets or at Trader Joe's)
-olive oil
-lemon juice
-parmesan cheese (please use freshly grated!)

Put the arugula in a bowl, squeeze a lemon over it. Drizzle with olive oil. Flavor with salt and pepper. Top with grated parmesan, to taste.
I have also added shaved red onion and avocado, which both taste fantastic!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Ok- all you really need to know about Easter is that Asher was egg-cited to find eggs... until he spotted his easter basket with Woody and Buzz Lightyear inside. Those two are currently his favorite toys. He is sleeping with them right now. Maybe he will be more excited for hunting next year.

We went to Santa Barbara for a week. We came back on Sunday. It was crazy to see the city where I have lived the vast majority of my life in a different light. There were so many things that I didn't remember! I noticed how worn down things looked, how narrow the streets were, and how there are hills just about everywhere. I never realized any of that until I moved to a brand new, very flat part of Arizona.

We stayed with Dan's folks. They were wonderful hosts, and their guest bed is a dream to sleep on. Gwen slept in the closet and Asher slept in a port-a-crib in the sewing room. He didn't appear to mind his demotion in the bed department. Nor did he climb out and get into the needles, scissors, paper cutters, or other dangerous things that surrounded him on every side. Yay.

For those of you who hate long posts, sorry. I will give you bullet points and you can stop reading after that. Here goes:

Sunday: Church. Mills dinner.
Monday: Mountains. River. Birthday.
Tuesday: Zoo. Habit. Anna. Kahuna.
Wednesday: Shoreline. Forbidden sandwiches. Date. Party in my Stomach. Frostads.
Thursday: Train. D'Vine. Carousel. LATE Pizza.
Friday: Pacific Crepes. La Cumbre. Paseo Nuevo. Late Chinese.
Saturday: Simi. R&A Hixons. Prom Pictures. Murphys.
Sunday: Church. Homeward.

Sunday we went to church and saw a lot of people we haven't seen in about a year. It was great. After church we went to the Sunday feast at my parent's house. It did not disappoint. It was wonderful to be with family and the food was REALLY good.

Monday we went up the mountain to my sister's place in the wilderness. Lori is very pregnant, but she guided our little hike down to the river. Asher and William had some cousin time throwing rocks in the water. They got dirty. The Wren's abode is pretty awesome looking. My sister is really good at actively making her house look great on a budget. She should blog.
Mom Hixon made a delicious dinner for her husband's birthday and we got to partake.

Tuesday we went to the zoo with Dan's dad. We met Lori and William there. The kids LOVED it and Asher has not stopped talking about the animals. After our zoo outing we went to the Habit and had some delicious food. I didn't know I missed that tri-tip sandwich til I was eating it. We parted ways and I was pleased to find Moma H's book club just ending at the homestead. My friend Anna was there and I was SO happy I got to talk with her. She is awesome.
We finished our day with Ceasar salad at the Kahuna grill. We split a coconut shake and Asher stared at the fish.

Wednesday I went to the park play group with Lori & William. It was sunny but windy. Luckily Shoreline park is encircled by thick wooden posts which stopped a lot of the wind. It was fun to see some of the moms I used to see every week. Then Lori came over to the Hixon's where we fixed some forbidden sandwiches-- "forbidden" because the Swiss cheese and rye bread were only supposed to be used for Rubens and Mama H was pretty upset that we would use any of those components without making a Ruben, but we didn't want Rubens, could we please have some cheese? She finally caved and let us have the kind of sandwiches we wanted.
That night Dan and I went out on a date -without children- to the Palace Grill. We knew we wanted to eat there while we were back in SB. We split popcorn crawfish, etoufee, and a chocolate soufflé. Pure heaven. (Did I mention we went on a date without kids?!) Later we got together with our friends Jon and Karen Frostad. They brought homemade nutella ice cream. It was pretty dang good.

Thursday we went to the train station so that Asher could see a real live train come in. There is also an old train car on the lot, which he liked a lot. I think he also enjoyed the modern train, but he was just quietly taking it all in. That is his way sometimes. We then went to the carousel and Asher "rode a horse" against his will. His dad was standing right next to him, but he cried until the ride slowed down. (He was better behaved at Disneyland.) However, he still talks about it so he might not cry next time. We (my mom, Dan, Dan's folks, the kids and I) met one of Dan's ex co-workers and Jeff at D'Vine, a lovely yummy sandwich shop on De la Vina Street. When we went home we played the Wii and ordered pizza that took FOREVER to get there. Asher was soooo hungry and confused. He kept going from person to person and just looking at them sadly or resting his sad head on them- and when I say "them" I mean mostly me. I don't think he knew what the problem was. He might be like his dad that way... not recognizing hunger for what it is.

Friday we went to Pacific Crepes for lunch. The woman who runs it and takes your order speaks French. She is not too great with English, so I felt slightly useful. Of course my limited French is pretty rusty, but I got my pregnant sister to a bathroom. The dessert crepes were delish! Dan went off to his old work while I went with my sister and mom (and the kids) to La Cumbre Mall. We didn't really do a lot there, currently there are a lot of empty stalls where there used to be stores. But I did go in to Max Azria and look at the clothes while Gwen and William slept and Asher played in the fountain.
Later I went to the other mall downtown and got my eyebrows done with Dan's mother. We walked around a bit more than we should have and we were late coming home to start dinner. We made a ton of chinese food and my parents brought a coconut cake over. We had a fun time hanging out.

Saturday we went down to Simi Valley and hung out with Roger and Alison. My niece Clara was pretty impressed that I could do back handsprings on her trampoline. To be honest, so was I. We then went to the Murphy's where we would be staying the night. We dressed up a little bit to go to a "modest prom" and take pictures. Well, Dan took the pictures, I took the money. Someone else took our kids. For almost 4 hours! Yowza, it was a lot of work. We were busy the whole time, and that was fun. Hopefully the kids like their photos.

Well, that is it. Probably a little too much info, but this blog is mostly for me. I'm selfish.
I'll post some pictures later.