Friday, January 30, 2015

Christmas 2014

My favorite thing in life is to gather with the people I love to eat, drink and be merry, so naturally the holiday season is my jam.

This year we bought a $20 tree from the grocery store because Christmas tree farm trees are just stupid expensive. And I think it looks at least as lovely as any $100 farm tree.
 

 


 
 Every year over Thanksgiving dinner (this is how food-centered my family is!) we discuss what we'll make for Christmas dinner. We like to go all out with holiday food and never do the traditional turkey and potatoes or anything like that. We always go for all the way homemade and it's almost always Italian. This year we decided on Nana Stizzo's roast cooked in tomato sauce and pasta. The day before Christmas Eve my sisters, parents and I made fettuccini to be dried and saved for our Christmas dinner. Despite the photos, Van actually was not very helpful to the process.




We enjoyed a ham dinner on the Eve at T's dad's house. I made these bomb-ass potatoes. Van was gifted some Lincoln Logs and a Daniel Tiger stuffed animal that says "Hi Neighbor!" and "Do you want to make believe with me?". He loves it. And the farm dog figure that comes with the Lincoln Logs...the logs themselves mostly piss him off because he has a hard time matching up the ends. :)

After dinner and the exchange of gifts we headed to my friend's parents' house for some drinks, desserts and SANTA. I love that Santa shows up at this annual Christmas party for a bit because it'll be a cold day in hell when I wait in some mall line to pay $ for a picture of my kid on Santa's lap. Nope, no thank you.

singing carols with auntie kristel, waiting for santa
he told santa he wanted candy for Christmas. last year he asked santa if he knew how to play Christmas songs on the piano.

Christmas morning was fun, but rushed. I really need to remedy this for next year. Tony's mom's family gets together for Christmas day brunch/lunch which is really gnarly for us because we are such late birds. We basically force V out of bed each year, rush him through gift opening at our house, run him across the street to my parents house for a gift exchange, and run him back home to change so we can get out the door and to T's family's event. He's a really good sport about it, but next year I'm going to advocate for a little more time to ourselves Christmas morning so Van can relax and eat breakfast and play with his cool new stuff before having to put everything away to go to see T's family. I'll figure something out!

Nonetheless, he really enjoyed himself.




After brunch and games with T's family we headed to my parents' house to enjoy the fruits of our pasta making labor a few days before. It was as good as we hoped it would be. I had so much fun playing Heads Up at brunch that I made some of my family play it on Christmas night. We exchanged gifts with my sisters, ate hella food, and drank a bunch of wine...good times. The best times, really.


playing grocery store with granddad and his new cart and "food" from aunt rachel

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Still Crazy After All These (3) Years: Van's Birthday

Little Vanny turned three last month, a few days before Christmas. As has been tradition, we threw him a little, no gifts tamale party with our immediate families and few closest friends. My family has always made tamales the weekend or so before Christmas, so it's worked out really well to just invite over a few more people, add a cake and make a little Van celebration out of it.



A few weeks before his birthday I asked Van if he wanted a themed party since he's getting up there in age and might be into something like that. He told me he just wanted a "guitar party." Ok, kid.

So I whipped up a Woodstock-esque invitation and printed them out to be mailed. I bought the few kids that would be in attendance bubbles in a guitar shaped container and little guitar Christmas ornaments, ordered a big Mylar guitar balloon from Amazon and cut out images of Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia to use as cupcake toppers. Bam! Guitar party!



He had the best time. Tony and I got him a play kitchen that we revealed to him that morning, which he was completely stoked on. My sister bought him a chef's hat and oven glove, some little stainless steel looking pans with a whisk and wooden spoon. He spent his day running around, eating food, cooking in his new kitchen and being a little three year old animal.



Van is the best little kid in the world and I hope his third trip around the sun is his best yet. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Toddler Life

V will be THREE in less than a week (sob).

Here are some are some tidbits of Van's typical shenanigans over the last week or so, in case you were wondering what life with an almost three year old is like.


They'll UNLOCK YOUR PHONE because they have crazy memories (I don't even remember how long ago I told him my passcode...weeks at least)  and will take photos of their feet, forgetting to erase the evidence.

They enjoy trying to break into peoples' mailboxes with house keys.
 
They get distracted easily.
video

 
 
They (or at least mine) will wake up at 10:30 AM and ask you to lay them on the couch with their blanket while you make them toast because they are really lazy.
 


They are as random and exhausting as they are cute.
video

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Patchin It

Last week I took Friday off to take Van to the pumpkin patch. It's funny how holidays really make me freak out about how fast time flies by and how big my kid is getting. If it wasn't so fun, I'd seriously sob.

Anyways. We had a good time.

When you are almost three, everything is the coolest. We'd have to work so hard to tear Van away from one thing and convince him to try something else, then repeat that. All day long. He loved this "Fort-a-lot-a-fun". Basically a wood deck.


Slidin slides...

Feeding goats...

Eating Dippin Dots for the first time EVER...

Hiding in Jack o' Lanterns...

Taking selfies on the train...

Measuring growth...
 
Riding horses...


Picking pumpkins (I love how he wanted a green and white one)...



And being cranky.  There was a zipline for bigger kids and adults near where the hay ride line began and ended. Van was SO pissed that he couldn't go on! He definitely didn't get that daredevil gene from me. We told him he couldn't go on it because he was too little, but maybe he could next year. That didn't go over well, but Tony cheered him up.

Bishops Pumpkin Patch, you sure are adorable. See you next year!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Get With the Program - Make Your Own Flour Tortillas!

Growing up, we NEVER had store bought flour tortillas. Ever. I called them "fake tortillas" for years and years. The ones you buy pre-made from the store don't come close to the homemade version. Not even the good ones they have at Trader Joe's can hold a candle to fresh, handmade ones. They come about as close as a Chips Ahoy does to a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Good(ish) in their own weird way, but nowhere near as good as the real deal.

People gasp in shock when they find out that I make my own flour tortillas for burrito and fajita nights. I'm telling you - take the extra 20 minutes or so to make a fresh batch before your next Mexican night. It's well worth the return.

FLOUR TORTILLAS
(makes 10-12)

You'll Need:

4 cups of  Flour
2 tsp of baking powder
2 tsp teaspoons of salt
3 tbsp  of oil
1.5 cups of warm water

(also: a big bowl, rolling pin, hard surface, hot skillet, a plate, a cloth towel)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.



Mix up and knead with your hands until you have a soft doughy ball. You might need to add a bit more water here if you feel like it's too dry, or a bit more flour if you feel like it's too wet. The pic below shows kinda dry-ish dough. I added a bit more water after I took this shitty picture.



Grab a little bit off and make a little ball with your hands.



Mush it onto a lightly floured surface.



Go at it with a rolling pin. You want it thin, thin, thin. This takes practice. Mine are still thicker than I'd ideally like them to be and definitely not as round as they could be but that's how it goes. My Mom's and Gramma's before her are like, perfectly freaking round. The ratio of the tortilla's circumference to the diameter is 3.14. You (and I) will get better at them as we make them more. Some web sites say it's okay that they aren't round - it's more rustic that way. Bullshit. Make them as round as you possibly can.



Carefully flop your thin, somewhat circular tortilla onto a hot skillet. Once some nice bubbles form, flip it over and let the other side cook through. This happens pretty quick. My tortilla will cook completely in the time it takes me to roll out another dough ball.

Once done, place on a plate and cover with a towel. Repeat until all your dough graduates into tortillas.


Ta-da! They may be oblong or a little too thick they will still undoubtedly be SO MUCH BETTER THAN STORE BOUGHT TORTILLAS. I promise.

After you have your little fajita night or whatever, save one for breakfast the following morning. Heat it up and spread some butter on it. HEAVEN, I swear to you. There are very few things more divine than a warm, buttered tortilla in the morning.

Friday, August 22, 2014

When I Paint My Masterpiece

I almost never do things with Van that will involve him getting dirty. It's pretty effed up of me. Things like that require outfit changes and set up, the possibility of me getting dirt/paint/water all over myself. Messy things are also usually outdoor things and it's pretty crappy and hot here too.

But last week when I went to get some frames at Michael's Van spotted this guitar frame and it was over. Of course I had to get it for him. He carried it around the store and strummed it like a real guitar. Then he saw himself in the security tv thing and strummed it even harder. We picked out some paints and brought it home.

Last night Tony was gone and I thought we could kill some time so I stripped him down, brought him to the backyard to paint his new cool frame. He told me he can't wait to put a picture of his guitar in it. :)









 

 
 
 
 
We couldn't find a picture of Van's guitar that would fit, so he picked out a cute one of him and hid buddy Leo playing drums together.
 
Good job, V!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sunday in Tahoe

Tahoe City is cool enough to host some really fun concerts at Commons Beach on Sundays during the summer, and we are lucky enough to live close enough to drive up and enjoy them. Having a Dad in a band that plays there is pretty sweet too.

Lake Tahoe is really stunningly lovely. I don't visit as often as I should but still feel so lucky that it's just a day trip away. What do mid westerners do? Sacramentans can drive 90 minutes in any direction and pretty much wind up in a totally different environment/climate. I can't imagine having to travel hours upon hours for a change of scenery. Eek.

This past Sunday we took a nice little (almost 2 hour) drive to Lake Tahoe with a bunch of Whole Foods goodies and beers and blankets to lay around and enjoy the music and the lake.

Van loved wading around in the cool water, throwing rocks and looking at stuff.


 
 


 And jacking his cousin's ice cream.




 Some kids gave us this sticker. Strange on many levels. Like, what do mustaches have to do with wineries? What does being a dick have to do with wineries or mustaches? Why are children handing these out?



 I hopped on stage to take some pics of the crowd. Holy shit. So many people!


My Dad said that if you have to work on a Sunday, this isn't too bad.

 

Fun times! Thanks Tahoe City for arranging these rad events. I always tell people how important it is to take advantage of these kinds of things. It's like a present from the city. A free, really fun show on a gorgeous, world-renowned lake. What's not to love?!