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Category Archives: Food

A Classic Movie Night: I Still Have Stars In My Eyes

My son’s birthday is in December. This last year he turned 9. If there’s one thing I’ve felt since becoming a parent and and having left the 365 days of sun in California for more seasonal states, it’s that I might never host an outside birthday party for this child.

That’s alright, our other kid has his birthday in the other extreme: August. We usually let our December boy help out with the plans so he can get the best of both worlds.

Having his birthday parties in the past have been hit and miss. There were times where many had to cancel at the last minute due to contagious illness or weather conditions. So I’ve adapted and learned to watch the weather, invite many, and have a back up plan.

This post is not about the hardships of a winter birthday. It’s about STARS (insert mystically music).

This last December, I decided to host a “Classic Movie Night” themed birthday party. My son loved it! I didn’t have to think of any games (which I’m really bad at planning) and we got a chance to invite our grown-up neighbors and get to know them while the kids watched the movie.


This movie night had EVERYTHING. There was crying, shrieking, laughter, spilling, munching and lots of socializing.

We made nifty invitations in the fashion of a movie event gala. I sort of wanted it to have an Oscar Party feel about it. Being that it was a Classic Movie Night for 3 to 12 year olds, we offered these three choices for a feature presentation:

  • A Christmas Story
  • Home Alone
  • Jurassic Park

I don’t know how it happened but, in the midst of a Christmas season, “Jurassic Park” won.

Then it was time to get the party gear…

We chose the colors of Black, Gold, and Red for balloons, plates and platters.

To give it that “Red Carpet” feel we bought, well, a Red Carpet.

And what is a movie theater without a Concession Stand?

I printed up voucher tickets for the kids to turn in for their share of Popcorn (served in popcornesque boxes) and other treats.


My son’s favorite snack to hand out is a little diddy I found in a Rachel Ray magazine year’s ago. They are sushi pieces consisting of the following ingredients:

Fruit Roll Ups (sugar)

Rice Krispies Square Mix (sugar)

&

Twizzlers (more sugar)

Now you know why I came up with vouchers: Management of Sugar

And of course you gotta have chopsticks for those.

We set up the living room as best we could to contain 10 kids as they watched the movie, chatted it up, and shuffled back and forth for goodies.

So why is this post about STARS???

Well, to enhance the magical, glittery feeling of going to a premiere of a classic movie, I purchased about a million little shiny gold and black STARS! And I sprinkled them all over the red carpet in our wood floored foyer for easy clean up later.

I can still remember what they look like… And that’s because I’m still finding them. EVERYWHERE.

On my socks

On my butt

In the couch


On the dog

On the kids

In the shower

In the Washing Machine

In the Dishwasher

In my Purse??

Upstairs

Downstairs

Under the Rug

In the Basement

Outside

In the Vaccuum (though I’ve emptied it numerous times since then)


So the moral of the story is, Do Not sprinkle cute little shiny stars all over your foyer unless you are prepared to be reminded that you did this for years to come.

It doesn’t bother me one bit, actually. It’s a pleasant reminder of the great time we had. Luckily we don’t have any babies, dogs or cats who like to nibble on the such.

Hey, there’s a party game we can play in August: Find the STARS.


Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

I GOTTA KNOW:

What are you finding here and there from long ago? Share it in a comment below!

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Cravings Ahead – Prepare to Say MMMMMM

Whenever my husband tries to tell me how I could have done things much easier or better, I tell him, “Okay, I’ll be right back, I have to go start up the time machine.” Today I ask you to join me as I hop in this fictional time machine as we go back. Say it with me if you feel the urge, “WAAAAAY Back. Back into time!”

There was a time, long ago, when I was merely an observer and consumer of Thanksgiving. I watched from the family table where I played cards, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Spy vs. Spy, while the adults of my family prepared Thanksgiving dinner. There was one year, I might have been 17, when I wanted the torch passed to me. I wanted my mother to assist me in preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the family. It didn’t turn out so well as I came down with a stomach flu the next day. I can’t remember if I puked at all but I do remember feeling horrible and missing the entire day while I lie in bed trying not to think about food.

Okay, back in the time machine. Up to when I moved to Illinois. I was still spending my holidays observing and consuming dinners of either friends or my future in-laws. I don’t believe I was even bringing much more to a holiday dinner than a relish tray.

Cue the flux capacitor, let’s go up to when we hosted our first Thanksgiving. I don’t remember the first Thanksgiving my husband and I hosted. That’s probably because he is the “cook” in our house. He likely did all the cooking and I jacked all the smells from the other side of our kitchen counter. Again, I probably made the relish tray.

Let’s return to today… WhoooshBzzzZap… But here’s what I’ve learned along the way that I just realized recently. There are decisions to be made before every holiday. I mean, we are to the point that we will sit at our Christmas Dinner and talk about what should be on the menu for the next year. This isn’t about deciding what food tastes good. This is about being caught up in the feeling of the holiday and looking forward to tradition.

Thanksgiving, when I was a kid, consisted of a traditional Turkey dinner, with sides and desserts that everyone loved. We watched the Twilight Zone marathon, then some football, played board games or did puzzles and just relaxed, talked and laughed. That’s pretty much how Thanksgiving goes to this day. And I love it just the way it is.

Okay, let’s go into the FUTURE… Fasten your seatbelt, we’re going ALL THE WAY to… December 23rd of this year.

I have many decisions to make coming up. Whatever I said at Christmas dinner last year, I have completely forgotten, but I still know what my options are. We usually have Oyster Stew or Pozole on Christmas Eve. We’ll have Breakfast Casserole on Christmas morning and I’m a big fan of Ham for dinner that night. No need to think about another Turkey after this weekend is done.

But, before Christmas even gets here, I need to go to the gym. I need to work out my legs and upper body. Only this isn’t to get a jump start on my New Year’s Resolutions. This is how I prepare for Tamale Day. That’s December 23rd this year.

Now, if you’ve ever made Tamales, you know that you never just make 2 or 10. That would be insane. I just started making these a few years ago because, after having kids, I became extra sentimental about family tradition. So I asked my stepmom if she could send me her recipe. She sent me Pozole as well and we tried that first. It was easy and awesome!

I still have the OG recipe received via e-mail

Then I got brave and decide to attempt the tamales. I didn’t do too bad the first time. However, just my husband and I did them. From what I understand, you’re really supposed to get a group of friends or family to help out in order to accomplish large amounts of tamales. Keep in mind that there was a year that my mother-in-law helped me out. Maybe she can attest to the work involved as well. You have the option to recruit help. Otherwise, consider bench presses and squats at the gym.

I really love sweet tamales and, now that I’m all growed up, I gotta have the pork tamales as well. On tamale day, we will assemble about 80 tamales total. It will be a miracle if they last through the end of January.

I will wake up on tamale day and soak the corn husks in warm water first thing. The house already will smell of pork and guajillo chiles because we will have prepared the meat on pre-tamale day (December 22nd). I will attempt to set up a work station that, in the end, will look like the cabinets threw up all over the kitchen. That’s okay, it’s all worth it. Next, I will prepare the masa. The first batch will be plain and the second batch will have pineapple juice and sugar in it for the sweet tamales. The golden raisins go inside when it’s time to wrap them.

Now it’s time to assemble. I’ll grab a mimosa and shoo the children and my husband out of the kitchen. Now, I start my stretches. I do a little tamale wrapping warm up jog around the kitchen. I’m a little like Rocky. My husband gives me a pep talk, I throw a few jabs, flex my wrists, my theme song plays in the background. I’m ready. I sit in my chair… and go to work.

About 20 minutes and 15 perfect tamales later, I’m standing and hunched over a little out of breath. My husband will come back in the kitchen at this time and rub my shoulders. It’s at this point that I admit defeat and ask for help. In the next hour we will sit down, assemble, stand up, assemble, sit down, sip mimosas and stand up and assemble. We will finish 65 more tamales and prepare to steam them.

Let it begin! Let it BEGIN!

After what seems like an hour. Oh wait, it is an hour. We prepare to test taste the first tamales. It has to be one of each kind. If we’ve done everything right, these first tamales will prove all the hard work has paid off. The dough will be light and fluffy, the meat tender and juicy. As for the sweet tamales, you can practically taste a great sweet tamale just by inhaling the aroma. Like squirrels, we begin to hoard and ration our stock. We come up with a plan to make these 85 precious delights last the whole winter. This is a crock because, like I said, it will be a miracle if they make it to the end of January. I wasn’t joking.

Yum to my Tum

Annihilating the Sweet Tamale

For the many traditions we have acquired each passing year, I believe is our most recent. We just tacked it right on with the others. So what, if the days leading up to Christmas has become a cooking marathon, it’s OUR marathon and it’s delicious!

Happy Holiday Planning!

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-mmmmmmm

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Family, Food, Groceries, Motherhood, Tradition

 

I’m going to need a holster for this… 2/22/08

I made pancakes this morning and it reminded me of an old post:

Almost

Not until I became a mom and a home daycare provider did I start to envision ordinary objects becoming new and improved tools. I did learn from my step dad, at a young age, that a skateboard could take out the trash. But since becoming a mother, I have also given birth to a second brain. What I like to call the shortcut sector. The inventor I never knew.

I paid attention to my child and the other children I take care of and I can walk through a super store and tell you exactly which items will become unknown teething tools, which will eventually be imagined as weapons and which will be in the next yard sale. If I don’t already know, I will find out soon enough. A lot of my discoveries come from repeating the phrase “There’s gotta be another way!” and then just trying things that don’t make sense at first…

When my son began eating solid foods I always worried about him choking on pieces that were too big for his little mouth. Oh, the times I missed a hot dinner because I was finger picking pieces for him just as fast as he could eat them. I picked at the sandwiches, the bananas, the slices of pizza. And that’s how it happened. I sliced a thin piece of pizza so I could make it small enough to continue finger picking the small bite size pieces for him to gnaw on. If my fingers weren’t covered with pizza sauce, I could have slapped my own forehead. Why not just continue to cut the pizza horizontally with the pizza cutter and make them even smaller? Slice, slice, slice. Cube, cube, cube.

ready!

These days, I don’t use knives to cut anything but steak anymore. Want your bread cut in half? Let me get the pizza cutter. Bite size chicken for the toddler? Where’s the pizza cutter? Cut the crust off? NO PROBLEM! I have a pizza cutter! I’m am the food slicing cowgirl. I’m gonna need a holster…

My pizza cutter is sharp and it’s big enough to slice a stacked sandwich or a chicken breast. It comes with a blade cover and is the best tool I have in the kitchen. I especially recommend it for those poor parents who are biting off chunks of meat regurgitating pieces for their little birds, and those who are over growing their nails as tools to feed the little two – toothed mouths of children.

Oh Pizza Cutter... How I Love Thee

 

 

 

Love,
Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

UPDATE: My oldest is 8 now and I STILL use the pizza cutter for his food. I’ve had hot meals for over 5 years now! I no longer refer to myself as “Ralphie’s Mom” from A Christmas Story.

 

Tools of the Trade: Travelling Food Processor (4/3/08)

Do you ever wish you had brought something along with you and tell yourself numerous times that you’ll be sure to add it to your purse, car, diaper bag when you get home, for next time? Well, if you’re anything like me, by the time you get home you’ve forgotten that thought and the next time you get out, you find yourself looking for the item again. So scratch that idea of packing a million little things you’ll need later. Now, enter the MacGyver in all of us (and if you don’t know who MacGyver is, then you must be young enough to know what Google is). Back to MacGyver…

So the next Tool of the Trade came upon by accident. My husband recently took us to Chicago for what started out as a three week adventure and turned into a one week museum tour. My sons and I decided to explore the DuPage museum in Naperville, IL (which, by the way, was spectacular). We spent the day there from 10am to 5pm.
The day was going fairly well and each time I started to feel as though it was time to wrap up the day, we would find something new and exciting. My 6 month old was, of course, the one to keep happy and we are getting used to the fact that the world revolves around his sleep schedule. That’s because SLEEPY – SLEEP = SCREAMING and SLEEPY + HUNGRY = SCREAMING but SLEEPY + LOTS OF CHILDREN RUNNING AROUND = SLEEPY LAUGHTER which also = FIVE MORE MINUTES and SLEEPY – HUNGRY = 30 MORE MINUTES. Anyhow, nearing the end of the day I told my five year old that if we could just feed the baby, he would be happy enough to make it for another 1/2 hour. Content with this deal, he agreed to take a break and wait patiently while I fed the baby bird.
Once we got downstairs, I began to shovel out all the items in my bag that by now were covering a whole banana somewhere deep down low. I also managed to run into the baby spoon and pull both out with one hand and a smile on my face. My 5 year old watched as I did this and smiled too as though we had found treasure. Looking at the two items (banana and spoon) my face turned to a frown and so did that of the 5 year old. “How am I supposed to feed him with these?” I said aloud. It was at this moment I realized that the spoon was not sharp enough to scrape or smash the banana and in any case there was no where to place the banana in which to smash it. “I think we may have to leave now,” I said nervously. More than anything I hate to disappoint my 5 year old with news that his little brother is more important and has caused an end to any fun.
Upon seeing the sadness on his face, I began to act as though there was some kind of solution that may just pop up in my magic bag of tricks (time to Google Felix the Cat). To be honest with you I didn’t expect to find a single thing to save the day, I just wanted to look like I had tried. After about two minutes of digging with that “Hmmm…” look on my face, I came upon little sandwich baggies that I use to store the other half of the banana after the baby eats. And then the lightbulb began to flicker… If I put the naked banana in this baggie and close it up (cue the MacGyver theme music) I could SMASH it into mush, and when I open it, it will then serve as a bowl in which to dip the spoon into and upon the baby eating the perfect consistency of banana, he will then be the happiest baby in the universe, turning me into my five year olds hero and all will be at balance until at least 5 pm. Okay well most of that was realistic. Anyhow, if there’s anything you remember to add to your diaper bag right now, make it the baggie as the Smasharooni Bowl combo. But go do it now because it doesn’t save the day if it’s in a kitchen drawer at home.

 

Tools of the Trade (2/27/08)

Not until I became a mom and a home daycare provider did I start to envision ordinary objects becoming new and improved tools. I did learn from my step dad, at a young age, that a skateboard could take out the trash. But since becoming a mother, I have also given birth to a second brain. What I like to call the shortcut sector. The inventor I never knew.

I paid attention to my child and the other children I take care of and I can walk through a super store and tell you exactly which items will become unknown teething tools, which will eventually be imagined as weapons and which will be in the next yard sale. If I don’t already know, I will find out soon enough. A lot of my discoveries come from repeating the phrase “There’s gotta be another way!” and then just trying things that don’t make sense at first.

When my son began eating solid foods I always worried about him choking on pieces that were too big for his little mouth. Oh the times I missed a hot dinner because I was finger picking pieces for him just as fast as he could eat them. I picked at the sandwiches, the bananas, the slices of pizza. And that’s how it happened. I sliced a thin piece of pizza so I could make it small enough to continue finger picking the small bite size pieces for him to gnaw on. If my fingers weren’t covered with pizza sauce, I could have slapped my own forehead. Why not just continue to cut the pizza horizontally with the pizza cutter and make them even smaller. Slice, slice, slice. Cube, cube, cube.
These days, I don’t use knives to cut anything but steak anymore. Want your bread cut in half? Let me get the pizza cutter. Bite size chicken for the toddler? Where’s the pizza cutter? Cut the crust off? NO PROBLEM! I have a pizza cutter!
My pizza cutter is sharp and it’s big enough to slice a stacked sandwich or a chicken breast. It comes with a blade cover and is the best tool I have in the kitchen. I especially recommend it for those poor parents who are biting off chunks of meat regurgitating pieces for their little birds, and those who are over growing their nails as tools to feed the little two – toothed mouths of children.