Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Almond Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe: A Lauren & William Creation

Lauren and I were making Spinach Souffle, so I had the almond meal out, and decided it might be good in the chocolate chip cookies we were going to make next.  William, in his cabinet perusal, kept waving the almond extract.  So we experimented and came up with these yummy, crispy cookies!

Lauren & William's Dark Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies:


1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs

2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)  Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
optional: 1 cup chopped almonds (we did not try this but we might next time!)


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, almond meal, and baking soda in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and almond extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in dark chocolate chips (and nuts if using). Chill dough for 10 minutes in the fridge.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets

BAKE for 9 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Please leave a comment if you make these, especially if you make any tweaks that make it even yummier!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Take 10 Seconds and Do this One Important Thing

Hopefully you will never need the #, but take 10 seconds, anyway, grab your cell phone and program in this contact: 1-800-222-1222 for POISON CONTROL.

Yes, my baby swallowed nail polish remover today.  He's fine, but I had to call 411 and get transferred to poison control because I could not think of the # and couldn't remember where near the phone I had put it. 

Here's what happened:  The kids and I are home sick today with head colds, so I was feeling feverish, lethargic and out-of-it anyway.  I was on the floor in Lauren's room reading her a book, William was playing with Duplos at our feet.  I got to a long page, looked up and noticed he wasn't there anymore.  In that minute, he had crawled over to the bathroom.  I share a bathroom with Lauren, connected to her room, so I have all of my makeup, etc. under the sink.  He'd never had access to explore it before since I don't usually keep the door open so it hadn't been on my radar yet for baby-proofing.  I also hadn't thought about the beauty supplies as poisonous the way I do, say the Clorox or aspirins. 

Anyway, he was on the ground, the bottle was in his mouth, he was smiling, his breath smelled like (to my stuffed-up nose) nail polish remover.  There was about an ounce of it left in the bottom of the 6 ounce bottle.  There was a tiny bit of it on the floor.  The top was closed but he must have opened it at some point to spill the little bit on the floor.  I could not remember how full the bottle had been before, other than, I'm sure at least half empty.  I hadn't used it to take nail polish off in months!

I called 411 to get transferred to Poison Control and they told me that he probably hadn't swallowed very much of it because he's so young, it would be hard to get that coordination, he wouldn't be very thirsty, and it wouldn't taste good.  But I was supposed to watch him anyway, not let him lie down for the next hour, in case he vomited.  I also should give him water or milk.  If he seemed lethargic, I would have to bring him in to the ER. 

Ryan walked in the door right as I was finishing up the call.  We then spent the next hour taking turns holding William upright and intently checking to see if he seemed sleepy.   Well, today he only napped for 20 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon, and it was approaching bedtime, so of course he was a little sleepy!  But then he spilled water on himself, was very alert (and cold!) so we were reassured.  Fingers crossed, so far he seems fine.

Please do learn from my mistakes.  Take a few seconds, stop your blog browsing, and actually do this simple act of putting the Poison Control phone # in your cell phone.  I've also taped it to the back of my house phone.    Better safe than sorry!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shopping Bargains: Flap Happy Outlet Store

At a friend's suggestion, I'm finally posting about one of Lauren's favorite stores.  The Flap Happy Outlet has moved to Culver City.  It's an actual outlet with the factory in the back.  It's a great place to find deals on their cute boys' & girls' clothes.  (I have gotten hats for $6, T-shirts for $3, etc.) You may know them for their flap hats but they also have bathing suits, T-shirts & cotton pants, dresses, and headbands.  Lots of cotton clothes with bright colors, very much Lauren's style!

5830 W Jefferson Blvd, Ste 200. Los Angeles, CA
Outlet Store Hours: Tuesday - Friday 12 noon - 4 pm

Here is Lauren in her 4th of July dress & matching hat from Flap Happy

If you are not local, you can often find their line on Zulily.
Disclosure: if you click on the Zulily link and join, I get $15 credit there

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We Interrupt This Day to Bring You--A Car Accident!

Last Wednesday was already shaping up to be a busy one. I had to get to the doctor's by nine in the morning (routine checkup), then over to Ryan's office to drop off the kids, then back to my office for a meeting with my boss and my boss's new boss, followed by a few hours of writing bio pages and editing photos. Oh and I needed to pack up the family and leave for a trip to San Diego. Phew!

As if that was not busy enough, at quarter to 9, I was sailing along when BOOM! Out of nowhere, I got hit from behind. By a teenager in a Jeep! So the funny thing was, you would think I would be grouchy and irritated that this happened.

The opposite! The first emotion I had was gratitude. Grateful we were all okay, glad the guy pulled over and did the honorable thing, admitted responsibility and apologized. Grateful he had good insurance and that this would all be taken care of.
Second emotion was empathy for the other driver. He was a teenager going through his first car accident, an unavoidable rite of passage here in LALALand. He was worried about the effect that the accident would have on his insurance rates and more importantly on his dad. I agreed to wait a day to report it so he could have time to break the news to his dad himself without it being via a phone call from the insurance adjuster.

I called the doctor's office and rescheduled for an hour later, then relaxed somewhat. It was like someone had given me permission to derail the overscheduled morning so I could take a deep breath and focus.  Instead of leaving in the afternoon, I put off travelling to San Diego until the next day.  I can't open the bashed-in back door of the car to get out William's stroller, but we have another stroller in the garage, so no big deal.  Insurance has been notified.  The proper people will do their job and things will be settled, and for some odd reason, I'm at peace with it.

Well, I won't say I was completely at peace. When I got to the doctor's office, I had high blood pressure...120 over some alarming number.

Oh and P.S. I woke up the next morning feeling fine, no whiplash or anything to report!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Elephant on the Playground: Movie Star Parents

As I previously mentioned, Lauren will be attending a great public school in September.  We've already had the orientation and the parents seem very involved and the kids seem like ones she'll become friends with.  It's not terribly far away, so no long commute for us.  Not as close as our neighborhood school, but manageable. We met some of the other incoming families at an open house they held.

Here's the thing, though.  One dad in particular really stood out because he's an actor.  Not just any actor, one of the stars of one of my favorite shows.  Any scene this guy is in, you would watch him carefully.  The plot would be furthered by even a subtle raise of his eyebrow.  So...even if he is just standing around on the school yard scratching his nose, it seems interesting.  I have to make myself *not* look at him because if X [his character's name] was on a school playground, stuff would HAPPEN.  Things would be about to blow up or get veeeery weird.  Waaay more fascinating than the president of the booster club or the principal giving their spiels. 

But back in reality, he's just another parent like the rest of us nodding his head, looking concerned and figuring out the ropes for his son.  And I'm thinking of how many people are in "the industry" and would love to chat with the guy just to get some kind of connection.  And I don't need that connection and I don't want to be that kind of person. But I am a friendly person.  So in trying to NOT look at him, to give him his privacy, I'm then snubbing the guy.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Product Review: Arm & Hammer Whitening Booster

I am down here at BlogHer '11 and already having such a great time!  Went to the Expo Hall tonight and picked up some swag, and am excited to tell you about some of it. 

First up, tonight I brushed my teeth with the Arm & Hammer Advance White and also their Whitening Booster 3x. The Whitening Booster is a separate product that looks like clear toothpaste, and has peroxide.  You put it on top of the regular toothpaste.
It's only been 10 minutes and you are supposed to wait 6 weeks to see the "up to 4 shades whiter" but I think my teeth already look whiter!  It was very easy to use, and I didn't have any pain or feel anything at all using them (as I did back before my wedding, when I tried some Whitestrips and my teeth were too sensitive).  And best of all, my mouth felt really clean afterwards, which is great because I left my Sonic toothbrush at home and am slumming it with a "regular" one for this trip.

Disclosure: I was given this product for purposes of review

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Real Houseguests of New York

We just got back from a week in NY/NJ for a family wedding. Can't even put into words, how great it was to be back. Here are a few photos of the hundreds that I took! I may post wedding photos at some point but want to run it past the now-honeymooning bride and groom. Above, you see Lauren catching fireflies for the first time, playing soccer with cousins, relaxing on Aunt Patty's deck chair, and gamely wearing the Yankees hat Uncle Freddie & Aunt Marguerite bought her, even though she's still a die-hard Dodgers fan!

The one thing we would do differently next time is to stay more than 1 night in a row in one place. Because of different scheduled events-2 BBQs, a rehearsal dinner, and a wedding, we ended up staying in 4 different places,so we weren't even in one town for 2 nights in a row. It worked out that it was Uncle Freddie and Aunt Marguerite's house in NY for 1 night, then Uncle Tony & Aunt Patty's, then a hotel in NJ, then a castle, then back to Uncle Fred's and then back to Aunt Patty's, then Uncle Freddie's, then home. Whew!

We had so much delicious food. Of course, real NY pizza and Jersey bagels. I also brought back 12 potato knishes because I can't seem to find the flat ones around here and the round ones I do find are nothing like the Coney Island/Brooklyn ones from home. Lauren wanted to bring bagels back to share with her class, but they would have been stale by then. So instead, we took anisette toast cookies, which I don't see much in stores around here so they're pretty uniquely NY in my book.
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Screaming for Ice Cream

Back in June, I was fortunate enough to attend an Ice Cream Social sponsored by the Real California Dairy Association. Yum! It was the first day of summer, and the weather cooperated perfectly. We were outside in the sunshine watching a presentation by celebrity chef  Danielle Keene  who showed us some interesting gourmet toppings to pair with readily available ice creams we could find at any market. Some surpringly delicious combos that I liked included chocolate ice cream with smoked sea salt and pink crackled peppercorns, and strawberry ice cream drizzled with balsamic vinegar and fried crispy basil leaves.

I try to to buy locally whenever I can and with dairy, the "Made in California" seal is easy to spot. Local food is fresher, has travelled less of a distance to get to us so uses less resources, plus it helps support our California economy. I did not know that 99% of California dairies are family-owned and that California is the state which produces the most ice cream. It would not have surprised me to learn that we *eat* the most, though! =)

Back to Lauren & William, I took them to the event and Lauren seemed to be convinced that it was for her sole benefit.  She co-opted my T-shirt (see picture above) and ice cream container and little spoon.  William did not behave so well, and I learned that he is now officially too old to sit still.  He managed to dump a glass of water on my pants, right on my crotch so it looked like I wet myself.  I then tried to avoid being photographed and videotaped and being known as "the blogger who wets herself in public."  (At least if I am going to do that, could I be drinking some boozy cocktails first?!)

July was Ice Cream month, but leave it to me to keep a good party going, we're still eating ice cream (of course!  would we STOP?!) here in August.  Here is Chef Danielle Keene's recipe for German Chocolate Ice Cream with Coconut Pecan Frosting.  Let me know if you try it, looks scrumptious!

Danielle Keene’s Signature Real California Sundae German Chocolate Ice Cream with Coconut Pecan Frosting

2 pints McConnell’s Swiss Chocolate Ice Cream, slightly softened

¾ cup chocolate cake pieces, cubed

Coconut pecan frosting (see below)

Place ice cream in a large bowl. Add cake cubes and fold in. Swirl in frosting. Place in a covered container in the freezer.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

¼ cup cream made with Real California Milk

¼ cup sugar

1 egg yolk

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter made with Real California Milk

¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sweetened shredded coconut

¼ cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Combine cream, sugar, egg yolk and butter in a small saucepot. Whisk constantly until combined and slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans. Refrigerate to chill.Posted by Picasa