Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

A warm cup of tea, and savory honey scones–perfection April 27, 2010

A good cup of tea can be transcendant, warming chilled bones, soothing frayed nerves, or settling a tired body after a busy day. It is shared with a good book, over good conversation, or when in presence of royalty. The many methods of enjoying tea can take us far beyond the comfort of our own kettle. China, Morocco, France, England, Kenya, and Russia are all tea-drinking countries with their own unique serving traditions and tea preparations. Lisa Boalt Richardson’s latest book, The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea Traditions, Near and Far illuminates the rich culture of tea around the world. For each of eight different countries, you’ll learn about the culture and history of tea, how tea is served there, how to prepare tea in the style of the country, and which foods (recipes included!) can accompany the tea.
Stunning photographs by Lauren Rubinstein, one of Atlanta’s premier food photographers, illustrate the wide variety of teas and accompanying menus eaten all over the world.

Savory Honey Scones
2-1/4 teaspoons rosemary, finely chopped and divided
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
6 ounces soft goat cheese
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
1 egg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix 2 teaspoons rosemary with all the other dry ingredients. Add goat cheese to the dry ingredients and set aside.
Whisk together honey, half the cream, and egg. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients until a soft dough forms.
Form the dough into a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and separate the dough into 2 equal portions and pat each portion into a circle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 16 wedges. Separate and arrange wedges on a baking sheet.
Brush tops with remaining cream and sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Place in oven and bake 1o to 12 minutes or until golden brown. It is yummy to serve these with butter, honey, and/or softened goat cheese! Makes 16 scones.

For more interesting and elegant recipes, visit my other blog, unassumingfoodie.blogspot.com. Thanks!

 

Las Vegas with the kids (slideshow) October 16, 2009

 

Family Day-tripping to Dana Point, California August 31, 2009

This article is from my Parenting column on the LA. Edition of Examiner.com. Please visit to SEE PHOTOS of Dana Point!

Dana Point Harbor has something for every member of the family. Located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, Dana Point Harbor is gorgeous, and easily accessible–by boat, bike or car! Divided into the East and West Basin, both operate as a separate marina. 

Nestled between the basins, you’ll discover curious waterside shops, a variety of restaurants, ice cream shops and walking paths. When my sons and I met up with photographer Kristianne Koch and her children, Merrik and Maliea, one morning for breakfast, we chose Coffee Importers, 2008 Best of Dana Point gold medal winners for best healthy choices, best breakfast, best sandwich, and (of course!) best coffee.

Our children are all aged four and under. While we look forward to the day when we can enroll them in Dana Point’s sailing school for kids, kayaking or windsurfing, our little ones enjoyed spotting “humungous” crabs in the water, petting the many dogs walking by, and spending the day examining tide pools, floating on a surfboard and making sand castles on Baby Beach.

A native of nearby San Clemente, Kristianne grew up visiting DP Harbor. Here is her Top Five List of Things to Do:

1) Tidepools/Dana Marine Life Refuge Low tide brings tide pool adventurers to the far west side of Dana Point Harbor. 

2) Baby Beach It’s safe to go back inthe water! OC Weekly rated water quality at Baby Beach grade  F over they years, but 2008 saw an improvement with a fair C. This year, Baby Beach received straight A’s from April to October, and during year-round dry weather, reports OC Weekly. (Dana Point recently received a federal earmark to study pollution in the area, so that might help prevent this year’s grade from being a fluke.)

3) Whale watching Whale watching and novice-to-expert fishing trips run daily out of Dana Wharf.

4) The Ocean Institute Nestled against the bluffs in Dana Point Harbor, this nonprofit organization is closed during the week for ocean preservation classes but facility tours are available Thursday and Friday at 4 pm. Open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays. Thursday & Friday: 3:30pm 45 min.
$2.00 per person, members are free.

5) Happy hour at Wind and Sea  Merrik and Maliea love to talk to people out the big windows overlooking the sidewalk.

There are numerous waterfront choices for dining, from the casual to the romantic. Catch an early breakfast, or watch the sun go down with a glass of wine and a memorable dinner.

Harbor Deli 
Tel: 949.496.0424
New York Style Deli

Slice of New York
Tel: 949.496.1447
Italian Food

Jolly Roger
Tel: 949.496.0855
Casual Dining on The Waterfront

Jon’s Fishmarket
Tel: 949.496.2807
Fresh Pacific Caught Seasonal Fish

Proud Mary’s Restaurant
Tel: 949.493.5853
Family-owned Restaurant on the Waterfront

Wind & Sea Restaurant
Tel: 949.496.6500
Fresh Seafood and Steaks on the Waterfront

Beach Cities Pizza
Tel: 949.496.0606
Pizza with Homemade Sauce. Sandwiches, Salads and Pasta

Coffee Importers & Deli and Scoop Deck Ice Cream
Tel: 949.493.7773
Seaside Patio, Fresh Roasted Coffee Drinks, Pastries, Desserts, Bagels, Soups, Smoothies, Fresh Juices, and Ice Cream.

El Torito Restaurant 
Tel: 949.496.6311
Mexican Cuisine

Gemmell’s Restaurant (Rebecca’s favorite! Gemmell’s is very welcoming to children, but also a nice romantic spot for celebrations.)
Tel: 949.234.0063
Traditional and Classic Fine Dining

The Harbor Grill
Tel: 949.240.1416
Inventive, Fresh Seafood, Extensive Wine List, Premium Cocktails

Harpoon Henry’s Seafood Restaurant
Tel: 949.493.2933
On The Water Seafood Restaurant and Extensive Wine List

The Brig Restaurant
Tel: 949.496.9046
Great Home Cooking

The Beach House
Tel: 949.496.7310
Brunch, lunch or dinner.

For more info: Book a family photo session with Kristianne! View Kristianne Koch’s portrait portfolio, blog and personal/fine art galleries, or book a session. Or, contact her at kristianne.koch@cox.net or 949-702-7707.

The Ocean Institute
24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr.
Dana Point, CA 92629
Phone:(949) 496-2274
 

GAIA Shasta Hotel for green family travel We usually leave the world behind us when we check into a luxury hotel. Quite the opposite happens at GAIA Shasta Hotel, when… Keep Reading » Lake Piru family camping Get brave and dirty: Try a campout with your preschoolers! Last weekend, we took the kids camping at Lake Piru in Los Padres National Forest near… Keep Reading » Budgeting for the Best Family-Friendly Hotels School’s out for summer and parents everywhere are gearing up for some quality time with their kids. According to an Auto Club of America… Keep Reading » Visit Anaheim’s retro HoJo for pirate waterpark family fun Every family needs and deserves the ideal getaway. To be considered “ideal”, in my estimation it must include the following… Keep Reading » Greening your family picnic or reunion Over Fourth of July weekend alone, Americans lit up more than 60 million barbecues and roasted about 150 million hot dogs and 890 million pounds…Keep Reading »

More About: Vacation · Things to Do · Education · Child Development · Activities for Kids · LA Kid Activities · Slideshows · Baby’s First Year

 

Fun, Educational Road Trip Games for Kids July 23, 2009

Mother and homeschooler Jessica Parnell knows how to turn any place into a learning environment–even the back seat of the car on a road trip with her children

“We found ways to take the basic [subjects] and turn them into a game,” says Parnell. “This not only helped to pass the time, but brought out the creativity in all of us.”

For a selection of some of Jessica Parnell’s fun and educational on-the-road games on the subjects of English and Grammar, Math, and History/Science/Nature/Creativity,  read the rest of this article here.

Ready to road-trip? Check out Budgeting for the Best Family-Friendly Hotels.

 

Summer Challenge! Tasting Ice Cream Like A Connoisseur June 28, 2009

Ice cream, sorbet, frozen custard, frozen yogurt, gelato… these are the culinary treasures of summer. Lucky for us, Los Angeles boasts some of the finest purveyors of frosty delights in the country. Now that summer is upon us, I propose a season-long exploration for the entire family, in the good names of gustatory pleasure and the spirit of adventure!

I’ve compiled an alphabetical list of LA’s most highly recommended ice cream parlors; There are enough tempting destinations listed to visit one frozen-delight outlet per week until Labor Day, with room for visit to a stumbled-upon treasure (comment back if you find an ice cream parlor the rest of us need to visit!) or to make a second visit to a favorite place to sample another flavor!
 
Al Gelato 806 S Robertson Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90035. 310-659-8069
Charlie Temmel Ice Cream 1313 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291.  310-664-9564
Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream 1525 North La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90028.  866-767-3423
Milk 7290 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036. 323-939-6455
Pazzo Gelato 3827 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026. 323-662-1410
Scoops 712 N Heliotrope Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90029. 323-906-2649
Silky Smooth Ultra Creamery Beverly Center Mall-7th Floor 8500 Beverly Blvd. Store 752, Los Angeles, CA 90048. 310-659-9992
 
Taking a cue from wine connoisseurs, equip yourself and your kids with a notebook to record impressions. On Labor Day weekend, celebrate your newly refined palate with a trip back for what is—in your esteemed opinion—the “very bestest” frozen treat in Los Angeles.
 
Just like tasting wine, paying special attention to your ice cream can be an adventure that will deepen your appreciation for both the treat and the various methods by which it is made.
 
Here are some fun tips for tasting like a true connoisseur
 
Begin with your basic senses. Keep in mind that you can smell thousands of unique scents, but your taste perception is limited to salty, sweet, sour and bitter. It is the combination of smell and taste that allows you to discern flavor.
 
One a fresh page in your notebook, enter the name of the ice cream shop, the date, and the flavor you chose. Then, eat! Be sure to make additional notes in your book using the following as a guide:
 
Look: What color is it? Did you choose a treat with bits of fruit, nuts, chocolate chips? Can you see them? Does your treat have a smooth, creamy texture, is it soft or firm, light or heavy? Is it melting quickly, or holding its shape?
 
Taste: Take a bite, and allow it to slowly melt on your tongue. Depending on which flavor you chose, you might detect the taste of berries, chocolate, vanilla, spices, or citrus. Sweet tastes and salty tastes are mostly tasted at the tip of the tongue. Bitter tastes are mostly sensed towards the back and rear sides of the tongue, and sour tastes (like citrus) are mostly tasted at the sides of the tongue, at the middle and towards the front.
 
Is it melting quickly, or slowly? What flavors did you notice first? Did any additional flavors appear as the ice cream melted on your tongue? How sweet is it? How does the texture feel? Does it taste better eaten from a spoon, or licked directly? (I’m told there really is a difference.) Does the flavor persist long after each bite, or does it disappear? Close your eyes and search your imagination: what does the taste make you think of?
 
Explore: What is the funniest flavor the shop offers? What is the weirdest? (Scoops features flavors such as (Fois gras and Sweet cream, Earl Grey Ginger, and Riesling Cherry!) How was it made? (Does the shop use an old family recipe? What kids of equipment are used to prepare the ice cream? How long does it take? How often do they make it?)
 
Sure it tastes good, but is it good for me? Some shops will offer information such as calories, or fat content per serving. Silky Smooth Ultra Creamery uses excess butterfat, yet is 90% fat free. (How do they do this?) Be sure to add notes about nutrition in your ice cream notebook, if it happens to matter to you. With dessert, often one is better off not knowing.
 
Lastly, give your ice cream a final rating overall: perhaps grade it A, B, C or D, or give it a ranking from 1-10. When you find one you like, don’t keep it a secret. Comment below and spread the good word!
 

Parenting Examiner Column – Week in Review June 20, 2009

My newest parenting column is now available on the LA edition of Examiner.com, the premier online brand for local information and events. Examiner.com is a fresh, innovative online local news and information source. Powered by a diverse group of contributors from around the country, Examiners are “credible, passionate, knowledgeable people who talk about their topics and share their knowledge in a fun, useful non-pompous way.” (Eesh, alert me if this comes off as pompous!)

Michelle Trela, Family & Parenting Channel Manager for Examiner.com, generously commented: “You hit the mark on pretty much everything I look for: localization, hyperlinks, photos (and you even used a slide show! Very few new Examiner are brave enough to try one, so bravo, it came out great!), clean writing (nice sense of humor, too!), a good headline.  Keep up the great work!  This is really top notch work; I look forward to seeing what else you have to write.”

Here are links to my articles from this week. I’d love to see your comments—especially any requests to cover whatever topic that matters most to you! Thank you for taking the time to check these out:

 

Camping at Lake Piru June 9, 2009

Get brave and dirty! Try a campout with your preschoolers!

 Last weekend, we took the kids camping at Lake Piru in Los Padres National Forest near Ventura, Calif. Our boys, ages 2 and 4 years, were very excited, and spent the week before our trip “practicing” in their turtle-shaped tent at home. My husband has his father’s old 1985 speed boat, and we were curious about how our little ones might fare on a cruise about the lake. (They’ve been boating on it since birth, but each time seems to be an entirely new adventure!)

The campsite at Lake Piru is a lot less rural than I’d hoped—Tiny spaces in a former oliver orchard butting up to neighboring campers on either side—and while the fabulous sunsets, and chocolate brown cows on the surrounding picturesque hills created a tranquil setting, the overall “campground” aspect felt a little more like tailgating than getting back to nature. Like all things in life, even strangers camping only 50 feet away (with their late-night banter and dubious musical tastes) have a silver lining; So much exposure to other campers allowed our children fleeting interactions with other young ones new to the concept. The boys also made friends with rollicking doggies of all shapes and sizes, and (truth be told) I’m neither ready to go “deep woods” with a 2- and 4-year-old just yet, nor am I ready to stray too far from a decent coffee place when I know I’ll be spending the night on a blow-up mattress.

The economy what it is, the boat launch was virtually deserted all weekend, with only a lone skier on the lake, although it is a popular spot for trout, northern black bass, catfish, bluegill, sunfish and crappie fishing. We enjoyed high-speed rides with our friends and little guys, who were both giggling hysterically and urging their father to go faster, faster! When we let down our anchor in a quiet bay, they thought nothing of jumping right in the lake–I was so impressed! 

One unexpected benefit of the empty boat launches was the combination of wide open space and the perfect kite-flying wind caught between the mountains and water. (My husband scoffed when I packed a kite: “how do you suppose we’ll fly a kite in the woods?”) When I pulled out our Mater and Lightning McQueen kite, the boys cheered! The string was nowhere to be found, so I removed the kite’s tails, connected them, and we used them as a makeshift string. The wind picked the kite right up, and we were off and running! 

While we had packed a toy bulldozer and an excavator, along with some sand toys, the boys ignored them. They were too interested in exploring rabbit holes, and collecting sticks, and throwing stones into the woods. One thing that surprised me was the ongoing ordeal about who was going to collect the water and help scrub the dishes after every meal. To be fair, I put them both to work, but they weren’t happy about it. They each wanted to be “the one” who helped. (This is the kind of debate I’d like to see more often!)

Each night, the boys were exhausted. When we tucked them into bed, the would roll about in huge fits of giggles—they were so thrilled to be sleeping in a tent! They were giving us big kisses and hugs and cheering, and it was nothing short of adorable. Until early in the morning, when our littlest early-riser had me up at 5am, walking the perimeter of the campground, again and again, until around 8 am, when he finally settled down enough to eat breakfast—or rather, pick the chocolate chips out of the otherwise nutritious trail mix.

Check out the slideshow! After reviewing our fun, I realized we all need our hair cut.