Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Favorites - Backyard Oasis

Lately, this is what Steve and I have been up to after work during these warm, summer evenings. Lounging is good for the soul, but prevents us from getting other chores done. Oh, you want me to cook a decent meal? You mean, you're tired of salami and cereal for dinner?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I am an ADULT

As of today, I am officially the proud OWNER of my 2006 Mercury Mariner! That was a relatively painless 5 years, but now I have $329.29 more dollars each month to spend on car!!! JK everyone! You all know how I am going to manage this new influx of money...allocated responsibly to various departments at Target!! I am cracking myself up over here. Retirement account? New couch? Travel fund? Exotic cheese? We'll see.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Banana Chocolate Cupcakes

I wanted to do something different with my over-ripe bananas besides make boring old banana bread, so I decided to go for banana chocolate cupcakes! I used a recipe from The Cupcake Project which also includes a home-made Macadamia nut butter frosting. I just used store bought cream-cheese frosting because I think its the yummiest frosting EVER. I also used semi-sweet baking chocolate instead of dark chocolate just because I already had it on hand. Next time, I think I will try the dark chocolate.
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 8 oz dark chocolate, melted
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream, flour, and baking soda. Add vanilla and mashed bananas. Stir in melted chocolate. (To melt chocolate, I used a pot of boiling water with a metal bowl sitting on top and let the chocolate slowly melt in the bowl).

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 18 regular or 36 mini cupcakes.

I also tried a new frosting method. Instead of just smoothing the frosting on with a knife or a spatula, I spooned the frosting inside a baggy and smooshed it all down to the bottom. I cut off the tip of one of the corners of the baggy and ta da! home-made icing bag! So I just slowly squeezed out the icing from the tip of the baggy and made a spiral pattern on the top of the cupcake. Pretty!

Half a Century

Yesterday was my step-dad's 50th birthday! Yeah, I know what you're thinking and you are right, he doesn't look a day over 40! Especially with my hot mama on his side!

To celebrate, he bought himself a Polaris Ranger to take on his hunting and shooting trips. Perfect for an old man with aches and pains :)

And I will celebrate this wonderful person by sharing with you three valuable life lessons Phil taught me:
  1. You gotta be smarter than the _(insert inanimate object here)__
  2. Sleeping in is a waste of the whole day (It took me 25+ years to learn this one)
  3. Hard work pays off
Hope you had a happy birthday, Phil! And Steve let me ride the lawn-mower this weekend, so I think I am ready for the Polaris!

Daily Smile, no. 10

Daily Smile, no. 8
Daily Smile, no. 7
Daily Smile, no. 6

Friday, July 22, 2011

Daily Smile, no. 9

Daily Smile, no. 8
Daily Smile, no. 7
Daily Smile, no. 6

I am loving the guest judges

I think the best part about this season of SYTYCD are the guest judges. I want to be BFFs with Jesse Tyler Ferguson. (If you haven't watched Modern Family, DO IT NOW and catch up before the new season starts. Best show ever.)

Caitlynn and Tadd are still two of my original favorites and I've edited my top 5 just one more time, with the addition of Ricky and the deletion of Jordan. Ricky is super cute and nerdy and his solos amaze the heck out of me. Bajillionuple pirouettes? I mean, come on! He is IN. SANE. And Jordan is OK but something about her bugs me. Maybe her face? Okay, that was mean.

And what was with Mitchell's solo costume on Wednesday night? Why did he wear a diaper? What, he figured he'd just kill two birds with one stone and shit while he danced? I don't get it and I really did not connect with him AT ALL. NT, Mitchell! (But you're probably really nice so now I feel bad!)

But really no one is standing out a TON. I am happy the All-Stars are back to give the show a little more oomph. I have a huge crush on Neil who is dancing next week which, coincidentally, is already a lucky day because my Aunt Cathy will be here and we can watch together! :)

Here are my new (sort of) top 5 favorites!

Tadd - maybe the only straight guy on the show?

Caitlynn - I want her stomach. GEEZUS!

Melanie - she is just too good to be true

Marko - but why does he always look so angry/worried/sad?

Ricky - I love you, Ricky! (and his last name is Jaime!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Black Bean and Rice Stuffed Peppers

Some of you have asked for my other stuffed pepper recipe and here it is! I prefer this recipe over the last one, but they are both delightful!

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup white rice, cooked
  • 4 medium green onions sliced (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbls vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbls lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large bell peppers cut lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 roma tomato diced
Heat grill. Mix beans, rice, onions, cilantro, oil, lime juice, garlic and salt together. Fill peppers with mixture. Wrap each half in a piece of foil (stuffed side up, duh), making sealed packets. Allow a little space in the packet for circulation and expansion. 

Grill for 15-20 minutes or until peppers are tender. 

Food Allergy Chronicles

Okay, most of you who know me know that I carry Benadryl with me everywhere I go (except for that one time in Long Beach!) The worst part about my food allergy is I don't know when its coming and it has ruined many a good night! FINALLY, four years after the first episode, I've decided to take my mental list and put it on paper (or the interwebs!) and maybe I (or you!) can figure out this mystery. (That, or I can go see an Allergist? Too easy!)

I have had an unexplained allergy that started in the summer of 2007 and over the past 4 years has occured a handful of times randomly. So far, I cannot connect the dots between the different foods I ate, so I thought it would be wise to make a list and maybe the common denominator will jump out at me...or you!

What I ate:

  1. 2007 - Homemade egg sandwich - a fried egg over medium, 100% whole wheat bread, and cheddar cheese.
  2. 2007 - Chicken parmesan at Vienni Vai in San Luis Obispo - menu says "chicken breast with fine cheese and tomato sauce" and a side of pasta, white wine (probably a chardonnay??)
  3. 2008 - Grilled shrimp tacos and turkey chili at Big Sky Cafe in SLO - Tacos: corn tortillas, shrimp, lettuce, lime-cumin vinaigrette, salsa fresca, garlic-lime aioli; Turkey Chili: three kinds of beans, ground turkey, crunchy vegetables, cheddar cheese, scallions; white wine (probably a reisling)
  4. 2009 - Burrito from Taco Loco in Arroyo Grande - beans, rice, cheese, chicken burrito, chips and salsa, corona
  5. 2010 - Chicken Tostada Salad at La Palapa restuarant in Long Beach - Romaine lettuce, cucumber, pico de gallo, avocado, jack & cheddar cheese and refried beans, crispy flour tortilla shell, ranch dressing; white wine (probably a reisling)
  6. 2011 - Homemade burger - hamburger meat, 100% whole wheat thin bun, cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce, avocado, cilantro, milk. Dessert: vanilla ice cream with Trader Joe's chocolate sauce, caramel topping, and blueberries.
  7. Thanksgiving 2011: Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, brown-and-serve rolls, cranberry sauce, scalloped potatoes, cauliflower, stuffing, reisling.
  8. March 2012 - tasting in Santa Barbara. Municipal tasting room - two reislings, cab/syrah blend, a rhone red, rose.
I know what you're going to say:
  • Cheese! I eat cheese almost every day. All kinds. Mostly cheddar.
  • Wheat or grains! I eat 100% whole wheat bread on sandwiches almost every day. I only use wheat pasta, and eat both corn and flour tortillas on a regular basis

  • Symptoms begin to show about 30-60 minutes after the meal.
  • The first sign is an upset stomach - a unique upset stomach where I know for sure I am having THE allergic reaction
  • Hives on my legs (usually thighs), stomach, and sometimes arms.
  • Wheezing. Sometimes difficult to breathe.
  • Itchy throat, nose, and eyes
  • LOTS of sneezing, sometimes uncontrollably
  • Runny nose - constant blowing and wiping, fun!
  • Swelling of the eyes and lips. This always happens a little but sometimes worse than others where it looks like I was punched in the mouth

  • Toilet
  • Benadryl
  • Sleep
  • Then I am good as new!
AnonymousJuly 21, 2011 at 11:28 AM
I know it sounds blasphemous, but have you tried going veggie/vegan for a week to see what happens? You can develop mild allergies to meat and eggs: (
JaimeJuly 21, 2011 at 1:25 PM
The only problem about trying a new diet for a week, is that the allergy doesn't occur very often. In 4 years, I have only experienced it 6 times. (I could be forgetting 1 or 2 episodes) So I'd have to give up meat (or gluten, or dairy, or whatever) for long time to make a concrete case against it. I think allergy testing is the way to go at this point...But, thanks for the idea and article!! (When I finally do see an allergist, I am going to bring up all of these ideas!)

UPDATE: Getting allergy tested on Halloween!

link to Results!!

UPDATE: March 2012 - I am pretty sure after my last episode that I am allergic to white wine (probably Reisling!). My friend Helya said "you always get this around me, maybe you are allergic to me!" but really, the common denominator with Helya and the allergy is reisling! We almost always have it when we go out to dinner and I was with her during episodes 3, 5, and 8, and had reisling in most of the others! Now to really experiment....argh! Wish me luck!

UPDATE: Food Allergy Strikes Again 2013-03-07

Daily Smile, no. 7

Daily Smile, no. 6

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grilled Salmon and Stuffed Bell Peppers

This dinner is mostly prepared on the BBQ which is a nice treat for a warm summer evening. It's also a little bit more time consuming than most of my dinners and also involved many ingredients which can be a bit overwhelming. But, don't worry - its totally worth it!

These recipes are from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine.

Grilled Salmon with Feta topping:
  • feta crumbled
  • fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • fresh dill
  • olive oil
  • salmon fillets
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, dill, olive oil and feta. Gently mix and put in refrigerator.

Heat grill over medium high. Clean and lightly brush salmon with oil (I use PAM grilling spray). Brush salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap salmon in foil and place on grill about 6 minutes and flip for 6 more minutes. Check salmon - should be opaque.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers:
First of all, did you know Quinoa is pronounced, keen-wah? Yeah, me neither! Also, I halved the recipe below because I was only making this for S and I and didn't need 4 bell peps.
  • 1 cup traditional Quinoa  (I used Trader Joes)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 large green bell peppers
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1-28oz can tomatoes, coarsely diced, reserve juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1-12 oz jar Mexican salsa
  • 2 Tbsp dry sherry
  • 10 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
Cut bell peppers in half, lengthwise. Place in a BBQ safe baking dish. I used a small foil pan.

In a saute pan, saute onion and mushrooms in the butter. YUM! Add the diced tomatoes (reserve the juice). Add the crushed garlic and salsa. Cook over medium for 10 minutes. Add sherry and simmer for 10 more minutes. Fold in quinoa.

Fill peppers with quinoa mixture. This will use about half of the mix. Thin remainder with reserved tomato juice and pour around peppers. Sprinkle mozzarella over peppers. Bake (or grill) at 325 F for 30-35 minutes.

Plate the meal and put the feta over the top of the salmon! 

Daily Smile, no. 6

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Memory Maker

One of the things I like so much about Steve is that he makes things happen. If he has an idea in his head, he always figures out how to make that idea come to life. I always have big ideas but most of the time I can't get my hands to do what my brain is picturing. Steve's hands can do pretty much anything he imagines and in this case, his hands made something very special.

While we were in Hawaii, Steve found a little piece of wood from the beach where we rested after our kayak ride. I put the piece of wood in my bag and carried it all the way home without even thinking about it. When I unpacked, I put the little wooden rod on the dresser and forgot all about it. I knew Steve liked it for some reason or another, so I didn't get rid of it.

The other day, Steve comes over to me with a windchime in his hand and says, "See what I made!" And at first I didn't even recognize the wooden piece at the top and then he told me it was the piece he found in Hawaii! He had the idea to make a wind chime a long time ago and it all came together on that beach on a beautiful day in paradise.

Now, everytime I hear the lovely clinking of the chimes, I will think of our first anniversary trip and how much I love my hubs!

Daily Smile, no. 3

Daily Smile, no. 2
Daily Smile, no. 1

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Flower Bed Before and After

Over the past two years we (we as in Steve) have been working hard on improving the landscape around our house. Steve has been focusing on the infrastructure in order to get 2.5 acres running smoothly. Think sprinklers, piping, drip lines, water pump repairs, removing infested trees, planting new trees, composting, making a garden, shredding fallen trees, digging, mulching, weeding, mowing, pruning, stacking firewood, spraying weeds, cleaning gutters, burning brush, gopher hunting, rat trapping, stump removal, power line clearing, and the list goes on and on and on and ON! 

While he is busy doing important things, its my job to keep the weeds pulled in all of the flower beds and lets just say I should be fired. I don't really enjoy spending my time weeding, so I rarely do it and weeding is the type of thing you have to stay on top of otherwise it gets OUT OF CONTROL. So, finally during the 4th of July weekend, we (Steve) decided it was time to put fabric down in the front flower beds to help with the weeds because relying on me to do it is a lost cause. We also removed the plants and flowers that didn't make it in Round 1 (oops), and picked out some new flowers from the neighboring nursery to give it a boost of color. Three full days of weeding, planting, fabricing, and home-made-mulching, and very very very sore legs, and we finally have a lovely front flower bed that will hopefully stay that way!  All we need to do is trim the fabric on the edges and finish a rock border on the side bed and Ta Da! it will be perfect!




Side yard 2009:



"Making Smart People Smile since 1985"

Starting today, I am going to post a daily Anne Taintor caption for all to enjoy. These vintage images with Anne's interpretations make me laugh, sometimes hysterically, and I hope they give you a bright, cheery smile when you need it most.

I first came across today's feature on my friend Kara's Pinterest board, which linked me to the joy that is Anne Taintor. Hopefully you all find these as humorous as I do.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Summertime Dessert

This is my idea of a summertime dessert:

Friday Favorites - Garden Freshness!

For the last couple of weeks, we've been enoying salads straight from the garden. Steve built two extra raised beds this year so now we have three that are jam packed with goodies. My favorite thing so far, as simple as it sounds, are the leafy greens! We have three varieties: romaine lettuce, bib lettuce, and spinach. I've never had lettuce straight from the garden before and it really makes a huge difference in the crispness of a salad.  These greens snap and crack and melt in your mouth and for the first time in my life, I enjoy the greens more than the veggies in the salad.

Our stone fruit trees are also exploding with goodness and we've taken full advantage! The plums are out-of-this-world delectable and the peaches are..well imagine your favorite dessert...then imagine that dessert topped with your second favorite dessert! Yeah, THAT good! We've had peaches n' ice cream sprinkled with almonds for dessert, peaches with yogurt and granola for breakfast, and just plain ol peaches in between. And our tree has produced so many, I've frozen 4 ziplocks full, just waiting for my Peach Toffee Crisp dessert. Wanna come over?!

Monday, July 04, 2011

What all this time was for

John Mayer released his debut album, Room for Squares, in September 2001, just as I was heading off to college. Since then, every time I hear "No Such Thing" on the radio, it brings back all of the memories of starting my new life in San Luis Obispo. Memories like eating dessert before dinner and how liberating that felt not having a parent around to tell me how wrong it was. Yep, I was CRAZY during my freshman year of college. LOTS of dessert before dinner. 

"No Such Thing" gives a perspective of what its like to leave the safe and sane harbors of high school and  why that first 10 years in the "real world" is where you'll become who you'll really be. The song made me question what I would be like in 10 years. Where would I be living? Would I be married? Would I be successful and enjoy my job? Would I still be friends with people from high school? And I knew that it would take 10 years in the LEAST to really figure out who I am and what my purpose is. 

Ten years later, here I am, living Arroyo Grande, married, successful and enjoying my job! As for High School, I am lucky to have some strong friendships that have made it through the 10 year long distance relationship. I am so very happy where I've ended up, and even with all of the wonderful things in my life, I know that it's still going to get even better.

And finally came the day where that John Mayer song became a reality. My 10 year high school reunion was a few weeks ago and I must say, it was fabulous! Steve, having already been to his 10 year reunion, told me that there would be some people who you didn't ever really talk to in high school but who'd be the most memorable to you at the reunion and who you'd want to spend more time talking to. This was exactly right. I really enjoyed my conversations with people who I didn't hang out with much back then and I realized that those who I may not have noticed 10 years ago, turned into incredible people! There were doctors, teachers, business people, engineers, entrepreneurs, and so many impressive people. And everyone looked great! 

I also reconnected with some friends who meant a lot to me in high school and even long before high school. Friends who were always there for me, who always lifted me up, who standout in some of my best memories of that time of my life. I cherish these friendships and the memories we all created together and I am so happy that I was able to see some of them again and learn how they are doing in their new lives. What a neat experience!! 



Jenner, me, and Catherine at Prom:

Jillian, me and Jenner now!

My dear friend Marissa, the girl who made the entire night happen!

This is how Steve always stands when we take pictures. Facing front, feet together, one arm at his side, one on my shoulder, no smile. I call this his Army pose. 

 I was so happy that my long lost friend Will decided to come last minute. He was my co-ASB president and made high school so much fun!



Making of the senior video..chemistry experiment gone wrong! 

Shortest and tallest in the class:

Highschool me:
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