Sweet Potato Waffles and a special birthday

For a mother, it is a wonderful thing to have your kids growing up healthy and strong.  The problem is just the growing up part.  Until I was a mom, I never really knew what it was like to have emotions pulling you in 2 good directions.  I’m excited about what my kids are going to do when they get older but I love them so much as they are now.  I try to remind myself that I always love them “now”.  I loved my daughter “now” when she was a feisty baby with places to go and I love her now as a feisty 6 year-old with places to go.  My little buddy is the kind of boy who has me constantly back and forth about appreciating the now because he is a lot to handle right now.  I pray for peace from this child every day.  My ice cream supply is diminishing because he has woken up every day in the middle of the night to get a piece of it.  Oh man, this is a new one for me.  How do you stop a kid from waking up every night to get into something?  I am installing  something I could have never imagine…a refrigerator lock.  This is just a tiny part.

Wow.  I got sidetracked from this little guy’s birthday.   Well, he is constantly surprising us and we are truly excited to see what he becomes, hopefully with less of my ice cream.

This is my little guy at 1.5 months old…sniff sniff. I made this shirt as his announcement which just started out of laziness.  I had made my other 2 kids announcements with extreme care so I knew I needed to do something special but requiring less time.  I’m not a huge fan of the drug store/Costco picture cards.  I had used iron-on transfers a lot in the past but I don’t like the fact that they last 1 day.  Seems to me that painting it myself would be better.  Enter: Sharpie.  It got the job done and it hasn’t faded a bit.  Now all I had to do was take a picture and mail it!  I thought I was going to be disappointed but I ended up loving it.  Just goes to show, go where your creativity leads you and you might land in a better place than you expected.

I made what was requested:  Pancakes and waffles.  He takes pictures like this a lot.  You know, he stares into the lens with his baby blues and just radiates cuteness.  He’s cute trouble…but cute still.

We made letter pancakes because when are they not special, right?  I ended up with a stack of m’s for “mommy” because they were the most fun to make.

Since bread products for a whole meal are never a great idea, I decided to make sweet potato waffles.

Sweet potato waffles

(adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe)

  • 1 c. sweet potato puree
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 egg whites, room temp.
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1/2 T. orange zest

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in one bowl.

In another bowl, mix the sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, butter, and orange zest.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients until combined.  Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the egg whites into the sweet potato mixture a 1/3 at a time. It will be thick! Set up your waffle maker and go!

Then, he played in a box.

Played in his new helmet.

Played a little Lego.

Happy Birthday, little buddy!

Travel: San Francisco, California

Judy Garland’s “The Trolley Song” was what was playing the first time I went across this beloved California bridge.  I was on my honeymoon and it was as great of a drive as you could script in any movie.  My new husband’s smile is still fresh in my mind.  It was just a lovely day.  This time around,  my love got to finally drive a convertible over the bridge.  I didn’t realize at the time that this car would mean crazy awesome bridge photos.  I have 100’s of photos from our many trips across this bridge, but it’s really hard to get photos without people and/or cars in them.  I had to narrow it down to these few but I love them.

All to common mirror shot but it felt right here.

The tunnel on the way out of San Fran.  What’s with the rainbows?

Any time I notice an art deco building , I must snap a picture of it.  Cute, right?

We urbanspoon’ed a place called the Pig and Whistle.  I saw it was an English gastropub and had many beers on tap so we knew it was calling for us.   When we were in England for a week, we ate at a crazy amount of these kinds of pubs and we miss them terribly.  The food was super yummy and familiar, with a twist.  I had lobster bisque (one of my favorites!) which was amazing.  I had it with an English pear cider, a chicken club sandwich and a split order of sweet potato fries.  My man had a burger with house made tater tots.  This man had a deep love of those little potato nuggets until his wife came along who doesn’t typically shop in the freezer department, with the exception of ice cream and peas.  They were pretty terrific.

I loved this frame with the keys in it.  It reminded me of this idea on pinterest.

The first date night we had in town was relaxing, full of laughing and jokes, and ridiculously tasty.  We went to RN74 which I was really looking forward to.  It gives San Diego’s favorite, Searsucker, a run for their money.  The vibe was similar and the prices were the same, but the food was just so good.  I would be a regular at this place if I lived in SF!  I won’t show every picture because I took them with my phone, but it was so delicious to not share.

Right off the bat I knew we were going to be friends because of these lights.  Also, our waitress told me she liked my hair and my whole “look” which always makes a person feel special and at home.  So sweet.

Besides the lanterns, the wine list was on an overhead board presented as a train schedule.  The coolest part was that the one in this picture would move/flip every hour, just like it would do at the station.  So cool.

Oysters.  The 2 from PEI were so creamy and had just the right amount of fresh saltwater taste.  It was such a cute touch to place it on a bed of seaweed.

Beet and hearts of palm salad.  He’s pointing to his tie because he rarely goes a meal in a tie without getting a spot on it.  Seriously.

We love to go to shows whenever we can.  We make it to a few every year, but nothing is as good as going whilst visiting a bustling city.  Theaters’ in big cities are usually enveloped with history and beauty which always makes it feel more special.  This theater was where we should have seen the original production of Wicked.  We were on our honeymoon, now over 8 years ago and it was SOLD OUT.  I was so bummed that day but my wonderful husband has since taken me a few times so it seems to have worked out alright after all.  We now found ourselves back at the same theater to see “Billy Elliot”, another show that has been on my list a long time.  The boys’ in this show were just incredible and easy to listen to, even with thick Irish accents.   Plus, my husband really liked this one so that makes it more fun :).

Some Orpheum Theater beauty.

One place on my list this time was the Tartine bakery.  I have wanted to visit here for a few years but it is so out-of-the-way, we’ve never made it.  I LOVE their cookbook so very much. The line was long, but it was worth it.  My husband ordered a quiche and a pressed sandwich.  I ordered 3 things as I often do at bakeries I am visiting.  First, a double pain au chocolat or to the rest of us, chocolate croissant; the most delicious one I have ever had.  The kind where the chocolate tastes like chocolate actually should and not a super-sweet and milky replacement for it.  For the second, I had a lemon bar (one of my favs, which is why I make these).  Sometimes I find an even better way to make them at home by trying them from my favorite bakeries.  Third, I had a frangipane tart with blueberries.  Just lovely things.  I’m thankful to have visited that adorable, fabulous, yet unpretentious little bakery.

Next, we headed for the Coit tower.  It was crowded with no parking, so we left.  Looks inviting though, right?

Lombard Street loveliness.  I thank the lovely people who live here for their care of these flowers for everyone to enjoy.

Why I don’t ride on the street cars.


Stopped by a weird exhibit at Fisherman’s wharf.  It was filled with vintage pinball, candy, and game machines.

Thank you San Francisco for another lovely times.  I’ll be back soon.

Junk Food Remade: Pop-tarts

I’m super excited about this post.  Did you ever make something and it turned out ridiculously better than you expected.  Yup, that’s this one.  These were so good I actually ate some pieces of my little guys, which he for some reason didn’t eat.  I don’t do that normally.   I think the other reason I enjoyed this was because the man of my dreams took our enthusiastic little hiking boys out into nature for a bit.  It was pretty peaceful and Miss F and I really felt like baking.

First turn on some awesome music.  Really…just do it.

Whisk the flour, sugar and salt, and combine those with the butter using a hand blender or a food processor.  You want it combined to the point that you have pea-sized pieces.  I had a 6-year-old doing most of the blending so she got as close as she could, shown above.  Over-mixing will result in less flaky crust so err on the side of less blending.

Mix the  milk and eggs with the flour/butter mixture until just combined.  Then divide the dough in half.  One half will be for the top and one for the bottom of the pop-tart.

Roll the dough out (about 1/8 inch thick) to about the size of a 13×9 pan.  Your goal is to make 9 3″x4″ rectangles. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Brush the dough with the beaten egg.

I let my sweet girl pick the flavors so she picked cherry preserves and nutella.  Love her.

Other options:

Pumpkin filling from a can or homemade

cinnamon and sugar

goat cheese, lemon zest, and thyme

other jams/preserves like this one

melted chocolate chips

onion jam

cooked meat (ode to the British Isles)

sun-dried tomatoes and feta

You can pretty much put whatever you want as a filling, sweet or savory.  We were making these for dessert, so we chose sweet.  When I make these again, I will throw some onion jam in…for sure.  Just make sure, whatever it is, that you leave a 1/2 inch space along each side to close it off.  You will see in the next photos that I overfilled mine, but I knew I would prefer them on the messy side to eating a mouthful of pastry with no filling.  You get me?  :)

Once filled you can place the cut out tops on.  Press down the sides with a fork and poke with a few holes so they don’t puff up too much.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until slightly browned

Since we were making these for dessert, I made up a little glaze with 1/2 c. powdered sugar and about 1 T. of milk.  Add the milk in gradually, as it doesn’t take a lot to make it thinned.  I tossed in a little vanilla bean paste (1/2 tsp) simply because I’ve been obsessed with it for the last year.  My love hasn’t faded for it yet.  Get it here.  I will change the life of your baking.

Drizzle after the pop-tarts have cooled.


(adapted from King Arthur Flour)


2 cups flour
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 T. milk

1 egg, to brush pastry


1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 T. milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste


There were more licking fingers than I could handle at this point.

Enjoy making these.  I really did.  If the weather is cool and you turn some Ray Lamontagne on, you might enjoy it more.

Hello, Autumnal Equinox. I’m ready for you now…


Strange Times

In San Diego, it usually doesn’t rain all summer.  It also isn’t humid here at all although this summer was the most humid it has been in a while.  I was discussing this at our favorite hydroponics/beer supply store called Home brews and Gardens.   I hadn’t noticed the humidity was way off i here until the guy, Greg, showed me all of their hops and the mildew on them.  It made me think of my cucumbers, squashes, and melons and the poor success I had fighting off mildew on them this year.  I just thought I had sprayed too much water on the leaves but now it made complete sense.

A few weeks ago it was super-humid, hot and also rained that day.  Yucky.  I felt SO sorry for all of the kids who were having their first day of school in such discomfort.  I was thankful, that day, I could take my kids out to enjoy the rain for 15 minutes and then return them to a place of comfort for optimal learning.  I like that if Miss F is excited about a change in the weather or a bird, we can run out and see it.  I enjoy being able to break for the day if it is too hot to continue.  I LOVE being able to apply what was happening that day with the weather to what we were learning in school.   It seems to be the way it should be.  It makes me think of the Outback slogan:

“No Rules. Just Right”


They are getting so big.  They love to break out their rain gear even on days when there is not a cloud in sight.


Oh yes.


I guess it was as good a time as any for a salad snack.

We also had some unannounced guests last week.  This is the 9th swarm of bees to come into our yard but only the first to land and huddle for a bit.  I was hoping they would stay and make honey but alas, they apparently found better rent elsewhere.  I asked my brother, the resident insect expert of the West Coast, why they left.  He said bees will sometimes stop at a place for a short time, while they send scouts out to find a more ideal location.  Bummer.  We enjoyed the backyard education while we had it though.

We also had a blackout here in SoCal last week.  It was a not such a big deal event turned into a big event.   It showed me that most people are not capable of adapting to change well.  True, I had already known this from experience, but stuff like this brings it out in people.

My man and I were heading out on a date that night to the Green Flash tasting/food truck combo event.  The power went out and I was still intent on going, figuring it would just come back on in a few hours.  No biggie.  I handed our babysitter the camping lantern and said, “Just in case you need it.”  She didn’t look as sure as I did but she’s awesome, so I knew she could handle it.  We would have made it if not for the whole of San Diego freaking out and heading to the freeways and their local Home Depot.  The news accidentally got turned on by my husband and talk was made of it lasting days, how will people get gas, what will people do, how will we get to work, how can we buy food if the registers don’t work and the stores are closed.  Seriously, everyone would survive.  This is not a situation where people could be harmed easily, as opposed to an earthquake.  Hospitals have generators for this kind of thing as do most other entities who would need to provide a service in times of need.

Bottom line, many people have lost the ability to truly connect with other human beings and when faced with the idea that they might actually have to form these connections, let alone help people you don’t know, it isn’t comfortable.  The internet, iphones, and other electronics have made this so.  I was praying that night that neighbors would actually talk, husbands and wives would connect with no electronic devices anywhere in sight, kids would have no ipod power source and maybe tell their parents what’s happening in their lives.  I would say, “maybe its just me”, but I’ve had numerous conversations to confirm that  I’m not the only one who thinks we are in a tough place right now with our relationships.

Let me paint a picture from some things I couldn’t help but notice:

  • I am in a restaurant and a couple across from me are both on their phones the entire hour and a half.  Occasionally, they look up to share something interesting but not a ton is said.  They probably called that a date.  For me, I would be hurt if those people called me a friend because I knew I would always be 2nd to their phone.
  • People rush home from church,  in some kind of a hurry with little time to talk, then hop on facebook to “connect”
  • A couple actually tags their way through their honeymoon.  Wha?  It may sound fun to follow along but that’s not what it’s all about.  That is time taken away from the other to be on your cell phone…on your honeymoon!!
  • cell phones used to be for emergency calls, now they are portable video game consoles which annoy me to no end in places where they are not appropriate.  To me, it’s ALWAYS rude to play a video game with sound in a public place, as is talking on a cell in a waiting room full of people.  I have been in many difficult situations where a phone game might have helped my kiddos, but my job is to teach not avoid.
  • people have less time to get together and share a meal, but facebook can happen all day.  Is this the connecting people really want?  hmmm.
  • women post status updates while in labor.  Maybe it’s just that I could never do this because I was only ever in pain while giving birth, but I’m a little weird-ed out by it.  I can only picture the special moment being lost between 2 people and a baby, for the purposes of keeping everyone up to date.
  • almost strangers find out engagements and pregnancies before family and friends.  Tactless, no?


I KNOW I do things that are irritating, but I try to be as courteous as I can be with what I know of myself and my tendencies.

Can we all try a little harder? Please?  For the sake of the next generation, if not for yourself?


This is a picture that Green Flash posted from that night…must have been fun.

My sweet girl was so excited about living like Laura (we’ve been reading the “Little House on the Prairie”  series for over a year).  I didn’t point out that her candle was battery operated.  I did let her keep a jar with a candle in her room which she was thrilled about.  I tend to handle emergency related things pretty calmly.  My kids seem to do the same.  As long as I act cool, they do.

What a better time to snuggle than by candlelight, right?

All I have to say is, there’s gonna be a lot of babies born 10 months from that night…

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