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Wednesday, April 27, 2011


....Strawberries everywhere, and all of them could be eaten. Today Miranda, Quinn and I visited Tanaka Farms which is a 30-acre farm nestled beside one of the busiest freeways in the nation...though once you're on the farm you would never realise suburbia is a hop, skip and a jump away. We went with a bunch of other parents and kids from our family support group, Long Beach Little Ones, and it was loads of fun.

We got to ride aboard a wagon which was pulled by a tractor, and every so often we would stop and sample whatever was growing in that area. These veggies were fresh and organic and the kids and adults seemed to love them. Miranda ate bok choy, carrots, a baby onion (yes, an onion...roots and all), sugar snap peas and celery. All along the route we were given some interesting facts and trivia from our guide - for example, did you know that California is responsible for 85% of the nation's strawberry production?

Toward the end of the tour we stopped at the strawberry patch and this is where you are allowed to pick  your own berries. What's more, you can eat them whilst picking! Miranda filled up her container and jumped aboard the wagon with big, red strawberry lips ready with more questions for our guide.

We had a great time at the farm and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun day out with their kids. Thanks again to Andrea for taking the time to organise this veggie field trip.  

Working on her chopping skills

The results of Miranda's harvest - strawberry shortcake

Sunday, March 13, 2011

1st Birthday...

Saturday was Quinn's first birthday! I can't believe a year has passed already. In the last few months he has started to crawl, point, babble and now he's actually walking. Wherever we go he's always grabbing the limelight and laps up the attention given to him by people everywhere.

His party had an outer space theme and Maura used Paper and Cake for the decorations.  
You can visit there site and browse through the many choices of celebration paper ware. Once you choose the one you like It can be personalised to suit the needs of the party, then all that need's to be done is to print and cut.

I added a few other items like the cupcake stand which I made using Styrofoam, blue paint and some glitter ribbon for the edge. The rocket was made from a packing tube I bought at the post office, some more Styrofoam, foam sheets for the boosters and some other simple decorations. We also picked up some solar planet pictures from a teacher's supply store and hung them from the ceiling.
I made the cupcakes using a Trader Joes cake mix for the base which I thought was really good and the frosting recipe came from here, 
The frosting is definitely a keeper and was sweet but not sore on the teeth and most importantly held up well and was really easy to use. To turn it into chocolate just add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder to a batch of the classic recipe.

Now to start planning his 2nd birthday.....

Cupcake spikes from Paper and Cake

Lawn dots

Dude, this party is Raaaaad!!!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


This weekend was a busy one and It just had to be the one where I felt like I had been run over by a truck. On Saturday we had a garage sale along with two of our neighbours and we had a lot of people stop by. Our friend, Chris McClain also came over  to see if she could sell some of her large stash of kids clothes.

 Halfway through the selling I had to take Miranda to T ball. She had to have her team pictures taken. This season she will be playing for the Yankees with her first game on March 12th against the Red Sox.

Today I felt better, even the crazy muscle spasm I picked up at T ball by sneezing was feeling more loose. I know It sounds weird but I blew the biggest sneeze and felt like my right shoulder had been pierced by a javelin pole.

 Sunday started with some shopping at Whole Foods for my ingredients to make a Thai chicken curry for dinner. If you ever need coconut milk try their 365 brand. It's the best I've had yet for the price. I tweaked this recipe from Epicurious which didn't call for any lemon grass or chilli's (?) A Thai curry needs these two things and plenty of them in my opinion.

Sell It, they will come.

Thank goodness for the tents, It got really hot.

Chris- "Maura, this plant looks awesome!"
Maura- "I'll sell you this green purse for $10"

I know first base is around here somewhere.....

Team Yankees

My sous.

I know I said a chicken curry and It was but I added a few of these huge shrimp.

Hey Mom, can you get that piece of rice from my chin?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Night.....

So when Maura, Miranda and Quinn got dressed up to watch the Oscars I planned a special dinner for all of us. I really like to braise meats right now. This is a form of slow cooking but can only be called braised if the meat is seared before being put into the slow cooker. Enough of the trivia, I purchased some lamb shanks from Bristol Farms. The shank is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat because of the long time it takes to be edible but after 3 hours of slow, loving simmering you have meat which melts in your mouth. If you don't have any major plans It's the kind of meal you can set and forget.

 The shanks being seared

 After 2 hours of cooking

 I made some blue cheese mashed potatoes with truffle oil and of course butter and cream

Friday, February 25, 2011


Tonight we went to an activity night at The Aquarium. It was not a night to be down by the ocean with the storm gaining strength by the minute but luckily we chose to have some dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp which is right next to the Aquarium so we didn't have to walk far in the rain. My girls had sneakily told our server that my birthday was coming up soon and If anyone has been to this restaurant you will know all the servers get together and sing a very loud birthday song at your table. As if I was not embarrassed enough there was some lyrics regarding "shaking the booty", which I obliged by smacking my tush to the rhythmic hand clapping of the serving entourage.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Baking Day.....

I usually help in Miranda's class on Wednesday's, I have been dubbed the baking dad by the teacher and we try to make something simple in a very short space of time. It's mostly an exercise on counting with a little science and if the kids get to vote for their favorite item then we will make a graph and see which item was the winner. Today baking day was cancelled, they have a math test tomorrow and focus was on that which was fine by me, tests are important.

As I had no class I spent my time trying to get some items from the store and this is where my reasoning came from regarding the red velvet. Now this cake is my all time favorite and as I was mindlessly pushing Quinn around I spotted a piece, It looked really good and I went to pick it up and thought, wait I'll pick up Miranda from school and we can have our own baking day at home, genius!

Now I could have pulled up a recipe on my phone and looked around for each ingredient but right at this time Quinn started to practice his highest falsetto in an already quiet store. I checked out with some strange looks and headed over to Cost Plus where I knew I could find a half decent box mix. I know, It wouldn't usually be my first choice but Quinn may be a future opera singer if his voice dosen't break.

Anyway Miranda had fun and the cupcakes were actually pretty good...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Please raise your right hand....

And repeat after me......

Last Friday I went to my swearing in ceremony. This was my final step to becoming a citizen of the United States and I figured I had better go to this one as I had cancelled two previous ceremonies which resulted in me having to go back to "the office" to explain why I keep finding reasons not to attend, like.....helping at Miranda's school and looking after my kids while Maura was working in New York, you know the little things.
 Anyway there I sat in a giant hall with 900 other eager beavers, each with  there own dreams and Ideas to better or further themselves with the help of Uncle Sam. The location was a country club in Montebello and my 1pm ceremony was the third that day, each time swearing in 900 citizens giving a total of almost 3000 people in one day. There are other locations such as the L.A Convention center and The Fairplex. These are bigger places and each event can swear in 3500 people multiplied by 3 ceremonies that day. Do the math, the country is growing fast!

Because this location was not a federal courthouse, the hall we were in was officially turned into one where all courtroom rules applied. The judge started the proceedings and we went on to say our Oath Of Allegiance. After that we were officially U.S citizens. There was plenty of screaming and hollering, lots of little flags being waved and generally a lot of relieved people in my opinion.
Now I will apply for my blue passport and be able to vote in all elections, though the jury is still out on who will be getting my little black X on the ballot. I am still allowed to keep my own passport and I will still use it when travelling back to Scotland. Miranda and Quinn also have dual nationality which I think will benefit them when they are older and start to travel.

I did have more pictures from inside but they turned out terrible, I think our camera is on It's last legs. I put it on the chair a couple of days before and came back into the room to see it on the floor and Quinn with a look of, "What, was that something important that I just dropped?"  

Our nice jokey Judge, not Judge Judy at all!


 My favorite pic but I can't seem to get it to be portrait? When I finally exited the hall and saw the family waiting, Miranda rushed up to me, gave me a hug and said with all sincerity, "Daddy...welcome to California"

 They can't kick me out now...

The golden ticket.