Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer's Here.

Kayla's birthday party was a success!

A sweltering, melting success.

Our town rarely sees triple digits.

It waits for the day we have to cart 5 huge flats of bottled water, 3 ginormous boxes of granola bars and 200 bags of ice  down a 1/4 mile steep incline into a park with snakes.

Did I say we?

I meant Dave and Uncle Branden.

Detailed post on the nature party in a few.

Also, we just got back from a little Palm Springs vacay.

The desert in June is where pastors go on vacation.

Another sweltering, melting success.

Post coming on that as well.

I know.

It's hard to wait.

Until then, enjoy my phone photo dump.

Our summer so far.


Lazy mornings with bedhead ballerinas.

Girl is going to need her some serious product when she gets older.


Swimming.

Lots of swimming.

Lots of daredevil catapulting.

Mostly I can't even watch.


Hope Kids praying for our friend Margaret serving in Nepal.

With an organization that rescues little girls from the trafficking industry.

So sad such an organization is even needed.

So encouraged people like Margaret and her team have the faithfulness to go.


 Spa de Johnson.

Soak your tired tootsies in Pyrex and drink carrot, lemon water.

We're booking fast so get your appointment soon.


Dinner with friends.

While children and their later summer bedtimes and electronic devices hijack the convo.


Road trips.

To cage fights.

Your average summertime activity for young children.

My brother is a MMA promoter and it's a family affair.


Girls on programs.

God Bless America.


Dave on ice replenishment and prayer.

Obviously.


Hope guys on parking patrol.

Me on being sure my babies don't get stolen by scary back woods men in white vans.

Or that beer doesn't spill on them while they're playing under the bleachers.

Or that they don't notice boobs or make comments about inappropriate tattoos.

When's the next one?


Back to real life.

And $1 summer movies at Tanforan.


Anniversaries.

41 years of married bliss for my parentals.


Slip and Sliding on Father's Day.

While Father watches the US Open.


They love you, Dave.

Thank you for all you do.


Kobi loves summer.

Or maybe he was just yawning.


Visits from cousins with awesome hammocks.

Now we "100% need one" according to Kayla.

They miss you, April!


Hope Summertime BBQs.

I love these girls.

And can't wait for the next one.


Making vegetable soup.

Because some days our "June gloom" makes us forget it's summer.


Ignoring workbooks.

We'll get to it at some point.

Possibly.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How to Survive on 1200 Calories a Day and Not Bite People's Heads Off

Kayla turns 9 this month.

NINE.

Ouch.

Her party is on Saturday.

A geeky, perfect one.

Clipboards are involved.


She's excited.

And brushing up on her plant genome identifiers.

And just called from school asking if we can keep the class beta fish for the summer.

Yay!


I've been on a diet for a month and a half.

A pretty tough one.

But one that works.

Basic math.

Eat less.

Weigh less.

Not exactly rocket science.

But not the funnest science, either.

You see.

I get crabby when I'm hungry.

But My Fitness Pal is patient.

Do you have this app?

It's a good one.

You set a daily calorie limit and track every single thing you eat.

It also tracks your weight loss progress.

And you can follow and stalk your friends that are exercising.

While you are sitting on the couch logging the 90 calorie ice cream bar you just ate really, really sloooooowly.

Fun for all.

I've sort of become an expert at stretching those 1200 calories as far as humanly possible.

So I thought I'd share a few tips.

Some tried, true and TASTY (promise) recipes.

More to come, I'm sure.

Starvation misery loves company.

Ready?

Breakfast.

I try to stay around 200 calories.

Here is my current favorite option.


Thomas' Light Hearty Muffin

TJ's Better 'n Peanut Butter.

The name is terrible but it doesn't lie.

Add sliced bananas and a little honey.

You can also sub the bananas and honey for a low sugar fruit spread.


Lunch.

Again, with the 200 calories.

OroWheat Sandwich Thins

Sargento recently came out with 40 calorie thin slices.

Add ham and turkey.

Lettuce, pickles and tomato.

Viola.


And my current favorite, the 200 calorie tostada.

Morningstar Black Bean Burger

Broken taco shell

Light sour cream, lettuce and salsa.

Again.

It's a DIET.

Don't scoff at my microscopic tostada.


Snacks.

I need them in my life.

I've become a 100 calorie pack EXPERT.

MUST HAVES:

Snackwells Fudge Covered Pretzels

Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes (frozen, preferably)

Kashi Dark Chocolate Coconut Bar

TJ's Light Kettle Corn

Jolly Time 100 Calorie Healthy Pop Kettle Corn


We went to the Giants game last night.

My Fitness Pal wasn't invited.

Also, there are 50 billion calories in a Ghiradelli hot fudge sundae.

And it was worth every one.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

PinterTest Kitchen 9: Pam's Cheesecake

I will begin by saying cheesecake terrifies me.


I have very little trouble eating cheesecake.


It's the whole "making one from scratch" that I try and avoid.


Half of my relatives are from New York.


Californians do not make cheesecake for New Yorkers.


It's a rule somewhere, I'm sure.


Julie, a Californian, made it for us last week.


And I first tasted it when Kimberlee, a Kansan, made it for Meg's Craft Weekend earlier this year.


And it alone was worth the flight to the mid-west.



What I'm trying to say is this is some GOOD stuff.


So, for this month's Pintertest Kitchen, I was feeling brave.


I had Julie on the horn for a clarification question or two.


Or twelve.


Surprisingly easy for how terribly delicious it is.


I don't care what state you're from.


You NEED to make this.


The crust?


Crushed Keebler Fudge-Stripes cookies.


FUDGE.  STRIPES.  COOKIES.


Almond extract is very much involved.


And fresh whipped cream.


I know.


Here's a detailed step-by-step.


From a California girl who's never made a cheesecake in her life.


I didn't even own a Springform pan until Tuesday.


 If I can do it?


You can, too.



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Spray the bottom and sides of a 9" Springform pan with baking spray.


For the crust:


1 package Keebler Fudge Stripes cookies


1/4 cup butter (melted)


1/4 cup sugar



Using a rolling pin, smash 24 cookies in a large Ziploc bag.


Once finely crushed, add melted butter and sugar.


Thoroughly combine ingredients within bag.


Press crust into the bottom of the Springform pan and set aside.



For the cake:


4 - 8 oz. boxes of cream cheese


1 small 8 oz. tub of sour cream


4 eggs


1/3 cup sugar


1/3 cup powdered sugar


1 tsp. vanilla


1 tsp. almond extract



In separate bowl, soften cream cheese in microwave 1-2 minutes.


Stop and stir after the first minute.


Keep microwaving in 30 second intervals and stirring until cream cheese is smooth but not warm.


It took me 1 minute, 30 seconds total to reach desired consistency.


Smooth but NOT warm.


It should look something like this:



Next, transfer softened cream cheese to stand mixer.


Add all 4 eggs and mix on high speed 4-5 minutes.


Mixture should be very smooth, creamy and gooey.


Add sour cream, both sugars, vanilla and almond extract.


Continue to mix on high speed for about 2 minutes until mixture is smooth.



MUY IMPORTANTE:


As you're mixing, be sure to thoroughly scrape the bottom and sides of your mixing bowl to avoid chunks.


Chunks are for Californians.



Next, place Springform pan on a baking sheet to prevent a cheesecake party in your oven.


Pour contents into pan.


Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.


When finished, let it set on the counter for a bit.



For best results, refrigerate, covered overnight before removing from pan.


And it will probably crack in the middle.


Cracks are for Californians, too.


Obvs.


But that makes whipped cream and it's flaw covering properties all the more awesome.



For the whipped cream topping:


1 pint heavy whipping cream


1/3 cup sugar


1 tsp. vanilla


Mix on medium speed 5-7 minutes, until cream is firm but not too thick.


I also threw in a dash of almond extract.


End result was perfection.


My New Yorkers would be proud.



I let it sit (still in the Springform pan) in the fridge overnight before serving.


Also MUY IMPORTANTE:


After removing the Springform ring, let it chill in freezer for 30-45 minutes prior to removing the base of the pan.


Slide sharp knife under the crust and pop the whole thing off, THEN cut.


Make sense?


Feel free to ask questions.


You can do this.


Original recipe here.




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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Insta-Saturday Morning

Hi.

World's most terrible blogger, here.

Life is busy.

And honestly, I'm just not into it so much lately.

But since technically this is our family scrapbook, I'm forcing myself.

So my children have memories later.

Sometimes I think they won't care.

But then I see Kayla pour over every single page of the scrapbook I made for her.

While I strategically hide her from Ashlyn so she doesn't figure out she doesn't have one.

And I press on.

For the children.


A little update on Ashlyn's speech.

It's taking off like crazy.

A few weeks ago she told me she was going to call the authorities because I was brushing her hair.

Holding her Elmo phone: "Hello, police car?  Mom is hurting my head."

A few months earlier, she didn't know what a police car was.

Things are clicking.

And it's exciting.


Hope got sippies.

The perks of previously working for a corporate promotions company?

Being able to order eight zillion samples and wash and drop-test them like crazy.

It might be the world's best sippy.

That's been dropped off my roof.

Just kidding.

Maybe.


Dave and I flew down to SoCal for a few days last week.

To visit friends.

So fun.

I miss them.


And kind of wish we lived in a commune.

Not a weird, Waco one.

A normal one.

With a Pedro's on campus.

And Pam's cheesecake for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I'm Pintertesting it next Thursday.

Not because I question whether or not it's good.

Only because I want to eat it.


Oh and I think Lucy has a little crush on Dave.

It's a 3-D peanut butter pretzel-head portrait of the two of them.

Not me and him.  Her and him.

Forever.


Thanks for everything, Carson's.

Now it's your turn to come up here.


Relaxing before bed.

Stranger Danger for Ash.

Such a comforting read.


Mall date with the Cybulski's.

CPK and Pac Sun.

Party like it's 1992.


Hope Sunday School.

Cindy preaching.

Super attentive students.

I love what my kid's are learning.

And who they're learning it from.


I've become one of those people that spend money on pets.

Those people I made fun of.

Kobi had a tumor on his gum.

It looked gross and painful and the vet made me feel guilty by saying he was probably embarrassed.

I know.

Goodbye 8 bazillion dollars.

And four bottom teeth.

We didn't need you anyway.


Ashlyn's school had an alumni panel on Thursday night.

Deaf and hard of hearing women shared their challenges and joys.

And gave parents practical tips for raising deaf kids.

That's a Stanford grad on the far right.

The woman holding the microphone graduated from law school and just passed the BAR.

Awesome and encouraging.

Ashlyn is going to do big things.

I know it.


Like getting her first mani.

She loved it.

A little too much.


Dinnertime swim at the club last night.

Chicken strips and fries.

Ice cream sandwiches.

Deep end diving.

Summer is so close!

We're excited.