Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Friends + Books + Cake + Peonies = Happiness

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A month or so back I posted on facebook and asked if anyone nearby was part of a book club.
I always hear about book clubs but noone I know is in one.

30 minutes later I had started a book club with a great variety of friends.

Some who knew each other, some who didn't.

Some I see regularly, some I haven't seen in years and years.

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Our first book was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which despite some rave reviews, I thought was sort of meh.  You know, meh, like, whatever.

It did give me an excuse to try making a layer cake.  
I've never made a layer cake before and I've never frosted a cake before.
Weird, isn't it?  But cookies and bars, those are more my thing.
I'm short on patience, so these multiple step things don't usually get crossed off my list.

I made the Lemon Drop Cake from Baked. (you can google the recipe)
Their cookbook has been all over the internet and I'm eager to try out more of their recipes.
I used my easy lemon curd recipe instead of theirs because mine is... easier and I love the flavor.

The overall result was a very tasty cake.  
The lemon buttercream frosting was the huge hit here.
The cake was a bit crumb-y, not crumby as in bad, as it has really good flavor, 
but a bit crumbly.  I may have overcooked the cakes as I used 9 inch rounds
instead of the suggested 8 inch rounds.

I somehow didn't take a picture of the sliced piece.
I've already got them all cut up and in containers, I've been a bit spastic lately.

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These are the lovelies.  
We'll be getting together once a month and I'm so excited about this club!

This is the beauty of facebook, without which, this group would never have gotten together.

Alicia (far right) and I went to school together from kindergarten thru 12th grade 
and hadn't seen each other since.  I think.

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She once broke her wrist at my roller skating party.

She fell out in the rink but didn't make much of a fuss about it.

She's a quiet girl.  We thought she was fine.

My mom found out later that it was actually broken.

Poor thing was watching me blow out candles as she sat in silent misery.

Actually, I might have already blown out my candles.

But I'm sure there was silent misery.

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Alicia and Connie both brought me peonies for hosting our first meeting.

I.love.peonies.

I wanted to have them at our wedding but I got married in December and 
and there were just no peonies to be found.

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They have such a gorgeous vintage look to them.  

Each is so unique.

They make me happy. 

Such a dreamy, romantic flower.

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In other totally unrelated news, my baby army-crawled over to this bookshelf 
and pulled himself into standing position yesterday.

I was glad I had my camera right there.

It was the weirdest thing, looking at my Peanut standing there.

I'm just not ready for this.

P.S.  Any books you'd like to suggest?
P.P.S.  Some of my friends may read this and wonder why in the world they weren't invited to our book club.  Consider this your invitation.  Contact me if you want in!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peanut and Cassie

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We've launched into a very busy weekend.  Definitely a good busy, though.

Spent time with family last night and Peanut got to see his cousins (and get lots of clothes from his much older cousin Joshua).  My great-aunt from Puerto Rico flew out and will be in CA for a month.

Today my mom and I go to see Mama Mia at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Tomorrow I have some ladies coming over for our very first book club meeting before which I have a goal of picking up the apartment, preparing for some kind of discussion, making a savory bread pudding and my very first attempt at a layer cake.

Can you believe I've never frosted a cake before?  Or made a layer cake?

All this while trying to keep my kid from licking the floor or army crawling out the door or underfoot or whatever.

Realistically, I will never get everything done.  2 guesses on what the priorities are?!

Yeah, bread pudding and cake.  Oh and baby.

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Picture taken February 6th.

Anyway, it was great to see the kids together last night.  Cassie always wants to hold Peanut and it's absolutely adorable.

She is 20 months older than him and growing up so fast.  Of course, Peanut is growing up pretty fast himself.

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Pictures taken February 6th and last night.

Cassie is only 3 lbs heavier then Peanut... and much easier to carry because she hangs on a lot better.

It was funny to see him sitting on her lap.  They are practically the same size!

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My little Moose, he sure loves his cousins.

What are you up to this weekend?!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trip to the Aquarium

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B absolutely loves the Aquarium of the Pacific so I got us passes for father's day.
This is just the first of what I'm sure will be many, many trips.

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Although there are a lot of different types of exhibits, we stuck to the large tanks this visit.

Peanut likes the colors and the movements.

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At first glance I only noticed the fish in the middle.

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A closer look and I found these guys.  
The one on the right looks a bit grumpy.

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As we were watching the fish in one of the big tanks, this diver came down to feed the fish.

With lettuce!

I was amazed at how they swarmed around him.

B and I laughed because all the kids on field trips came running up and swarmed the tank.

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There was so much activity, Peanut was really quiet, just taking it all in.

He kept reaching out and absentmindedly running his fingers thru the hair of anyone near by.

They're lucky, he usually grabs and shakes.

Anyway, amidst all the chaos, the diver looked up and waved directly at the Peanut.

Then he took out his mouthpiece and gave Peanut a big smile.

It was adorable.

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We were looking in this window when a bunch of kids came running up behind us...

It's the Nemo and Dory tank!  It's the Nemo and Dory tank!

My favorite part of this picture is Peanut's fat little foot in the corner.

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I always love the clown fish, they are so vibrant.

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These boys are actually quiet.

They're just leaning in and watching the fish.

Incredible.

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Peanut was pretty quiet too, but that's standard for him in busy places.

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I always, very briefly, wish we had a fish tank.

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I'd want tropical fish like these.  

That fish looks like it's on fire.

Then again, I don't want to clean them, or take care of the fish.

So I think we'll just keep visiting the aquarium instead.

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Do you have an aquarium near you?
When was the last time you went?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

15 minutes of Peanut faces

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Our little Peanut is very animated. At home he can be very dramatic. In public he can be very mellow. 
 I love to watch all his little expressions and how they rapidly change.

The first set of pictures were taken in less than 10 minutes,
the last couple taken later during the same play time.

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Tired

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Coy

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Detached

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Delighted

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Despondent

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Amused

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 Indifferent


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Ingenious

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Hmmm, can you name this expression for me?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer is here!

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Today is officially the first day of summer!  

We've pulled out of the June gloom that took over the weekend and today should be in the mid-80's. 

Today, to kick off the summer, we're taking Peanut and Daniel to the pool.

Peanut's never been to the pool and I'm eager to see how he likes it.

I have to run and get Peanut a bathing suit but I'll be back later with an update. 

I suppose I'll have to pick up a bathing suit for me as well.  I don't like to dwell on the negatives.

What are you doing to celebrate summer today?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

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It's B's very first father's day.

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maternity photo by Adrienne Gunde

This past year has just flown by.  From the very first moment I told B about being pregnant he was looking forward to being a daddy.

Well, you know, after the shock and then the fist pumping and patting himself on the back.  Yes, yes, good job B, you did it.

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I took this from the delivery bed while they were weighing the Peanut

From this very first moment when I saw them connect is has been a complete joy watching them together.

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First morning home

B is a wonderful father, just as I knew he would be.

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Peanut just lights up around him.  There is just something special about daddy.

They talk and laugh together and Peanut mimics daddy as best he can.

I could watch it all day long.

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Taken last night


Happy Father's Day B!

AND a very happy father's day to both of our dads and to all you daddy's out there!

Are you celebrating today?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stonefire Grill, Irvine

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Last month's BlogCrush meeting was a hit as usual.  I've mentioned it before but you can read more about this completely awesome group here.

About 40 of us met up at Stonefire Grill and were greeted by their very awesome marketing manager, Justin Lopez.  His mom and aunt started Stonefire in 2000 and it has since grown to 7 different locations.    Something about being greeted by a family member really gave me those family-owned restaurant warm fuzzies.

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They had the whole patio set aside for us with a pretty impressive spread of food AND beer and wine.  Justin was awesome and handled the paparazzi really well.  Can you imagine speaking to a bunch of bloggers and trying to introduce the food?

They introduced us to the new healthy alternatives menu as well as some favorites like the mashed potatoes and bread sticks.

On the right you see the BBQ chicken and tri-tip.  They slow cook all their meats overnight and finish them off on a mesquite-fire grills.  The result is meat that is tender, juicy and packed with flavor.

And the mashed potatoes are heaven.  Heaven people.  There isn't a healthy alternative to them, nor should there be.

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The spinach salad was packed with avocado, artichoke hearts and fresh tomato.  I loved the roasted red pepper vinaigrette.

I had more bread sticks than I should have... but I don't regret it.

You know, it's really funny being around a group of people taking pictures of their food.  Kindred spirits.

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This is the grilled veggie pizza.  I have been craving this pizza.

It has eggplant, zucchini, onion, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh oregano.  I love fresh oregano.

The sauce on this pizza is so flavorful and deep that I didn't even miss having cheese on my pizza.

I repeat.  I didn't even miss having cheese on my pizza.

Can you understand the gravity of that statement?!

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After lots of gabbing, tons of laughing and a glass or two of wine.... Justin did something really wonderful and brought out these desserts.

The desserts are huge as they are meant to be shared.  The cheesecake is fantastic and I love how incredibly thick the crust is.  I think I could eat the blueberry topping straight.

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The carrot cake?  Well I think Elizabeth's expression says it all.

I should also mention that Justin came by and asked us if we wanted to take any of the leftovers home so that it didn't get wasted.  There were some very happy mamas going home with bags full of the next days dinner (or late night snack) and dessert.  Something about him offering to pack to go packages made me really happy.

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This is my friend Pam!  We went to college together and just happened to reconnect at a BlogCrush meeting.  She's trying to look all sweet while she uses some kind of allergy excuse to steal the brownie.

Don't let that smile fool you.

Again, it was a fantastic night.  I'll be at more BlogCrush meetings in the future and I'll definitely be heading to Stonefire Grill again.
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