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Posted on Feb 17, 2016 | 0 comments

Frog Cookies

Frog Cookies

This post is a follow up to A Frog Party and Frog Hats. Just a few tips on making Frog Cookies, from one who has been to the swamp and lived to tell about it.   1) Any old sugar cookie recipe will do, but I used a shortbread recipe because I wanted to and I am the Frog Queen. Add mini chocolate chips to the dough to make it wartier and chocolatier, but harder to get a cookie cutter through. Use the chips or not – it’s up to you. You are a Frog Queen.     2) To get them green, add matcha green tea powder, spirulina, chlorella, or any combination of those. I don’t have an exact combo – I just kept adding until I liked the color (and flavor – those substances have a flavor profile not commonly found at children’s birthday parties or anywhere else one typically eats for pleasure). Note: Use matcha green tea powder: Do not simply rip open matcha green tea bags, thinking you’re clever for saving a few bucks. The leaves aren’t...

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Posted on Feb 20, 2015 | 0 comments

Winter Glow: Homemade Orange Candles

Winter Glow: Homemade Orange Candles

Did you know you can make your own candles right now? Out of two ingredients you already have at home? This is a strikingly impressive project and just as easy.   If you’ve got oranges and olive oil, you’re in business.   If you want to get fancy, you can cut some shapes out of the tops, or stick in some cloves.   But that’s totally optional. I only added those steps so my kids would have something to do.   The rest of it pretty much just involves cutting an orange out of its peel. You know, Big Person Work.   Cut the oranges across the middle. They don’t need to be exactly in half. They should sit flat after they’re cut. Put them on the table first to get an idea of where to cut so they will sit straight. Then, scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Make sure the pith in the center of the orange stays attached to the bottom. That will be your wick. It’s really...

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Posted on Jan 25, 2014 | 1 comment

A Frog Party

A Frog Party

[To see my Farmer Party, click here!] A frog party! A big frog party! Sorry, Dr. Seuss. I couldn’t help myself.   THEME Frogs were the animal of the year around here. My kiddo chose them for his birthday party. Again! What I discovered is that he is pretty much the only kid in the world to do so. They just don’t have a lot of frog stuff out there…Michaels, Party City, and general toy stores mostly came up empty. Then, as with so many things in life, once I forgot about the blessed things for a minute, they came to me. On a random trip to Wal-Mart, I happened to see some froggy bath toys.   I had absolutely NO use for them, which is usually my cue to put them right back on the shelf and walk away. But, for some inexplicable reason, I was drawn to them. That’s one thing I’ve learned in my impressive body of shopping experience: if you feel an undeniable pull toward something,...

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Posted on Jan 5, 2014 | 4 comments

Winter Cocktail: Tom and Ruby

Winter Cocktail: Tom and Ruby

This drink is named after my stepmother. Let me explain. Pay attention, as this will not be so easy to follow after you’ve had a Tom and Ruby. My brother’s mother was my father’s first wife. My mother was my father’s second wife. Ruby is my father’s final wife. A sparkling gem of a woman, she vibrates calm, warm energy. Much like this drink that she introduced me to this Christmas. The original drink, a Tom and Jerry, was created in the 1850s and involved separating a raw egg and processing the two parts independently. This simple version requires you do nothing more strenuous than open a carton of eggnog. This can be a good thing after a long day returning Christmas presents while driving through snow. (Uphill, both ways). I don’t get a lot of snow around here, but a warm, cozy drink is always a welcome treat. Just like Ruby! Tom and Ruby   Print Cook time 5 mins Total time 5 mins   Warming, aromatic, soothing...

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Posted on Dec 31, 2013 | 3 comments

Where There’s a Party Hat, There’s a Party!

Where There’s a Party Hat, There’s a Party!

I am not remotely crafty. In fact, I’ve always kind of hated that word, the same way I kind of hate the word “journal” as a verb. I do not “journal” and I certainly do not “craft.” At least, I thought I didn’t craft (and, if you bring up blogging as journaling, well, I don’t want to talk about that right now). What I have noticed lately is that I am inclined toward artsy (as opposed to crafty) projects with my kids. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that art therapy is a thing, and that my artistic ambitions started after I had small, loud people join my household. As I sit there, drawing, cutting, tying, painting, taping, re-taping…my mind can wander somewhat. It always snaps back, as very small children don’t need much therapy, but they do seem to need a lot of intervention. Especially where scissors and paint are involved. The artistic results are not always expected, but they lead to lots of lessons like “make the...

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Posted on Nov 18, 2013 | 0 comments

Thanksgiving Brunch Menu: Sandwich Buffet

Thanksgiving Brunch Menu: Sandwich Buffet

Thanksgiving is almost here, and I think I’ve got my brunch menu down.     Last year, I wanted to hit all the big traditional flavors. This year, my concept is a Thanksgiving Sandwich Buffet. Yes, it’s casual, but sparkling wine will be served in crystal glasses, so that balances it out! I’ve scoured all my magazines and cookbooks and come up with this menu. Absolutely everything will be made ahead of time, including the turkey breast. (I’ll smear it with herbs the day before and roast it Thanksgiving morning so the house smells delicious and inviting). Everything else just needs to be put into bowls or on platters. Relaxed and easy. I hope it inspires you and that you have a wonderful holiday.   Peach Mimosas with Belgian Peach Beer, inspired by Nate’s Garden Grill Sliced Ham (bought prepared) Sliced Herb Roasted Turkey Breast Sweet Potato Rolls Sourdough Bread Fennel and Orange Salad Basic Cranberry Sauce Balsamic Onions Slices of Brie Mayo, Mustard, Lettuce Potato Chips No Bake Pumpkin Crème...

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Posted on Aug 19, 2013 | 0 comments

Chiaritas (Chia Limeade Margaritas)

Chiaritas (Chia Limeade Margaritas)

Chef Marcela Valladolid is my new best friend. Okay, technically, I have not actually met her. But she’s got that whole Fabulous thing down. And she makes food I want to eat. Well, she makes Mexican food which, I guess, pretty much everybody wants to eat. But the way she does it, I want to cook it too. Then, I want to invite all my Mexican in-laws over to my beautiful house to share my authentic food prepared on my gorgeous grill with a stunning view of the San Diego coastline behind me…oh wait, that’s her. Well, no matter. Once we meet and become BFFs, I’m sure she’ll let me come over and cook at her house. Cute Banker’s family is of Mexican descent, and I thirty minutes from the border, which is the same thing. At least, when it comes to my affection for Mexican food. I was cooking tortillas over the open flame on our stove before I could even say Valladolid. (I can really roll right...

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Posted on Jul 20, 2013 | 3 comments

10 Secrets to Dining Out With Babies and NOT Going Crazy!

10 Secrets to Dining Out With Babies and NOT Going Crazy!

The one question I’m asked most often about my kids beyond “do you want more?” is how I get them to be so good in restaurants. It’s true, I have small children, boys at that, who are a joy to dine with. I can fully embrace my accomplishment in this area (and theirs) because I suffer the depths of disastrous failure in other areas (e.g., the global ban on sleep, among other successful campaigns against my sanity). I appreciate what I’ve got. And, I understand the questioning. I keep asking others how they get their kids to magically nap at the designated hour, in the designated area, for the designated time, AND manage to repeat the process mere hours later for bedtime. I also query near strangers about matters such as cellulite removal and how to get your cat to stop peeing on everything. I don’t really expect to receive the magic key of information that unlocks my struggle, but I feel like there’s value in the search. If you...

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Posted on Jun 18, 2013 | 1 comment

What Do You Get a Nonagenarian For Her Birthday?

What Do You Get a Nonagenarian For Her Birthday?

My Grandma is turning 95. She’s my role model in many ways, including her striking long-livedness. One of my favorite things about her is her joy in being outdoors. For her birthday, she wants to go on a picnic. She selected the entire menu herself, including the directive of “no vegetables.” On your 95th birthday, you’ve earned the right to skip the salad.   For her gift, I chose something inspired by the outdoors that the boys and I could make together; tissue paper flowers. Then, I invited Martha Stewart to teach us how to make them.   The first thing you do for this stunningly impressive gift is you go to the store and buy a pre-assembled cellophane package, complete with pre-cut flowers and instructions so basic, you can practically hear them enunciating verry slowwwwly for you to comprehend them. Then, you mess them up first thing, just to get it out of the way.   The package mainly consists of tissue paper, cut all fancy, and promising...

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Posted on May 29, 2013 | 1 comment

Tabletop Grill

Tabletop Grill

Inspiration can strike you from the unlikeliest places. On a run a few days ago, we just happened to jog by a family grilling on an itty bitty (and totally cute, but don’t tell Cute Banker) little kettle grill. We looked at each other and were simultaneously struck: if we get one of these one of these mini cookers, we can take it anywhere. As we’ve been doing a lot of outdoor living lately, I felt this idea was particularly marvelous. Cute Banker loves to grill and I do NOT like to make and pack entire meals. This way, we both get our way: he grills, I just pack raw ingredients into a cooler and go. We can do it all on a tabletop, outdoors! We had planned to run early this morning and then stop for breakfast. Well, the run didn’t happen. (It just didn’t, okay??) The morning quickly slipped away. We declared our breakfast a “brunch” and suddenly we were a success again! High five. (Sorry I...

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Posted on Apr 16, 2013 | 0 comments

Planning a Party – by guest blogger Epic Dad

Planning a Party – by guest blogger Epic Dad

Hello, All! While I take a brief hiatus from the blogosphere (I miss you! Call me!), please enjoy this post from my fellow blogger, Epic Dad. Maybe it will inspire you to throw a bash. If you do, be sure to let me know if you use any of these tips! Also, check out Epic Dad if you get a moment. His tag line is “Be a legend. Have an adventure. Be a dad.” Love that. Enjoy! Michelle photo credit: Sam Ilić via photopin cc Hosting a party always scares me.  I remember the first time we had people over to our house in graduate school.  We were serving burgers and potato salad to 15 guests and I burned the burgers so they came off the grill resembling the chunks of charcoal they were cooked over rather than the delicious patties I had hoped for.  That was five years ago and we’ve hosted a lot more parties for a lot more people and here are nine things I’ve learned. Serve something big in a...

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Posted on Apr 8, 2013 | 12 comments

Ultimate Blog Party Post

Ultimate Blog Party Post

You have stumbled into a party. A blogger party. The Ultimate Blog Party #13! It’s a little like an open house. But you can attend in your jammies because you are the only one actually in your house. The point is for bloggers to get to know each other, but everyone is welcome. Trust me, it’s gonna go off. The cover charge to the party is information. About the blogger. So, here you are: 13 things about me you won’t find in the About Me, About My Blog or Just What In the Heck Does Sand and Table Mean, Anyway? sections. 1) I’ve been blogging since October, 2012. 2) This is the only picture taken of me in in the last six months and it was while I was doing the time-step at Sonic Burger. 3) I secretly want to work in a bakery. 4) I have recently learned I have day-old-guacamole-colored eyes. Gross, but accurate. 5) I generally eat completely organic, but I have an undying obsession with Oreos. And Fritos. And guacamole....

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Posted on Apr 6, 2013 | 0 comments

My Favorite Podcasts About Food, Part 1 (The Appetizer)

My Favorite Podcasts About Food, Part 1 (The Appetizer)

One of the highest forms of entertainment in my world is dining.  I love to become immersed in a meal as glasses clink over a delectable appetizer and emerge hours later over a small, strong coffee as I reflect, dreamily, on the glorious show I just experienced. It’s an adventure being escorted through the ups and downs of the various courses by a different wine for each. I love the drama, the timing, the exhilaration of a perfectly executed dish, especially one new to my palate.   Experiencing the combinations of flavors and textures as music, ambience, and conversation weave in and out of view is like living within the art. You’re entertained by it, but you’re a part of it too. It wouldn’t be the same without you.   When you taste something extraordinary and share the experience with a friend, it’s a thrilling thing.   Being all dressed up somehow makes witty things pour from your mouth, and everyone else seems more fascinating too. I love great food,...

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Posted on Mar 14, 2013 | 1 comment

Boeuf Bourguignon, a.k.a., Wine Stew!

Boeuf Bourguignon, a.k.a., Wine Stew!

This is not a low-cal dish. Can you handle it? Look. Here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re going to have a small breakfast, a moderate lunch, walk a bit when you can today (run if you have time), and enjoy this meal. Because it’s good. What is life for, if not pleasure?? Okay, yes, and helping people less fortunate than you. That, too. Pleasure and helping others. I think I’ve just found the meaning of life, in a bowl of Boeuf Bourguignon from Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home. The fact that it requires an entire bottle of wine is probably not unrelated to my new-found enlightenment. An entire bottle of wine, plus a package of bacon. Ina Garten is my people! You think she’s asking you to add a lot of pepper. It works. Do exactly what she says about the bread: toast, rub with a raw clove of garlic, and serve underneath the soup. Eat with a fork and knife. And a spoon, and...

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Posted on Feb 8, 2013 | 0 comments

Oldie but Goodie

Oldie but Goodie

Why have I not made ceviche since Cute Banker and I were dating? I used to make it all the time. He must think it was false advertising. This meal could not be easier.  It consists primarily of mixing things in a bowl.  Check. I will be doing this again soon! Note that I will probably not be adding perfect lime slices to the water, lighting candles, or serving country-coordinated beer. Wearing something other than pajamas and having clean hair is also uncertain at this time.   Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Posted on Feb 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Instant Italian

Instant Italian

Dip is fun.  It even makes eating raw vegetables seem like less of an imposition. This is a versatile dip worthy of a kids’ lunch or an Italian cocktail party. Here’s all you need: 1 can cannellini beans 1 clove chopped garlic (or less if your kids’ tongues aren’t flame retardant like mine) 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 t sea salt 1/8 t pepper 1/4 c fresh basil (would also be benissimo with rosemary instead) 1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes (for the cocktail party, not the kids) juice from half a lemon Drain and rinse one can of cannellini beans. Plop the beans into a food processor. Add all the rest of the ingredients. Process until mostly smooth. Adjust seasonings. Spoon into bowl, top with basil chiffonade, a few crushed red peppers, and a swirl of olive oil. Serve with buttered, toasted pita bread. I use a comal to toast mine up but any pan, or even a toaster oven, will work fine. It’s a kid pleasing...

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Posted on Feb 5, 2013 | 0 comments

Mexican in Minutes

Mexican in Minutes

Need a quick, healthy meal everyone will love? Here you go: refried beans. From scratch. It’s almost as easy as opening a can of processed mystery beans. Non-mystery ingredients: 1 can pinto beans 1 cup broth or stock of any variety  (Omit this liquid and you’ll have a great bean dip!) 1 one small clove of chopped garlic 1 t salt, plus more to taste Drain and rinse the beans. Pop them into a food processor. Add the garlic and broth. Pulse (one second each) several times, until you like the texture. Add salt to taste. Transfer to a saucepan and heat gently.  Add more stock if the beans get dry on the bottom. Cook longer if it’s too runny. This recipe is easy to double.  We double it for our family of four. From there, you can make a quick burrito.  Simply roll the beans into a tortilla (from any grain) for a super quick, high protein, and easy-to-hold meal no kidlet can resist.  Add cheese and you’re guaranteed success....

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Posted on Feb 1, 2013 | 0 comments

Mommy’s Little Helper

Mommy’s Little Helper

My two-year-old’s birthday party is tomorrow.  I may be switching my favorite beverage back to wine. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Posted on Dec 26, 2012 | 1 comment

Table Scraps

Table Scraps

“Shabby chic” is an oxymoron I haven’t always been able to muster much enthusiasm for.  I’ve leaned decidedly more toward the solidly “chic” category. But, tastes, times, and circumstances can alter preferences, even aesthetic ones.  These days, I’m looking more hopefully at estate sales, hand-me-downs, and even, gasp, do-it-yourself. It was nice and timely that I saw Martha Stewart talking about this new centerpiece idea.  My family was due for Christmas brunch, I was up to my elbows in empanadas for Cute Banker’s family celebration, and I have two tiny humans living amongst my ankles.  Thus, I was running a wee bit late. When my sweet grandma came in and offered to help, I choked down my natural response to shove a glass in her hand, and firmly point her in the direction of the couch.  I handed her a tray of a homeless Christmas ornaments, had Cute Banker bring in the last box from our move a year ago, and unpacked some wine glasses. I also managed to...

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Posted on Dec 25, 2012 | 0 comments

Christmas Brunch, or, It’s Not a Party ‘Till You Forget Something

Christmas Brunch, or, It’s Not a Party ‘Till You Forget Something

Christmas, to me, means brunch.  I don’t need a fancy rib roast at dinner.  By then, I want a calm, easy supper, after the energy of the day.  I certainly don’t want a frenzied, late night Christmas Eve extravaganza. For me, Christmas Eve is for quiet family time at home, hot chocolate, a fire, maybe snuggling up on the couch to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, and opening one present from someone who will not be there on Christmas day.   Then, off to bed early.  Christmas comes faster that way.  My mom told me so.       Overnight, Santa comes to fill the stockings. On Christmas morning, stockings are opened without cameras, without parents hovering, at whatever time the little recipients want.  I – I mean Santa – likes to include a protein bar in the stockings to hold them over until brunch. Brunch.  Possibly, my favorite meal of any day, but especially Christmas. You can sleep later, keep your jammies on if you’re at home, and...

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Posted on Nov 22, 2012 | 0 comments

Thanksgiving Brunch at My House For a Meat Lover, a Vegetarian, and a Nonagenarian

Thanksgiving Brunch at My House For a Meat Lover, a Vegetarian, and a Nonagenarian

I am grateful that I can celebrate the holidays with my 94-year-old, sweet, and cute-as-her-pink-buttons grandma. I’m grateful I get to spend them with my mom.  I’m thankful I have a really great man for a husband and that we get to spend a few years with some pretty special little boys. We were all together at my house this year, and I served brunch. My mom and grandma are the perfect guests; they let me get all fancy-like with my table settings and yet it’s never formal or stuffy. Just super fun. When it came to the menu, I had a few things to consider. First, my mom doesn’t eat red meat. On the other hand, my grandma and Cute Banker don’t feel they’ve eaten unless Meat has been served. It doesn’t have to be red, but it doesn’t hurt. Finally, this was the only Thanksgiving meal my mom and grandma would eat this year, so I wanted to cover all the bases: turkey, cranberries, potatoes, apples, sweet potatoes,...

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Posted on Nov 10, 2012 | 1 comment

December Dreams

December Dreams

I want to make EVERYTHING in the new Martha Stewart magazine.  Too ambitious? Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...

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Posted on Nov 7, 2012 | 0 comments

Let There Be Candlelight!

Let There Be Candlelight!

Tonight, we had candlelight at dinner. It was the first time in three and a half years that we’ve had candlelight at dinner. We’ve been on an open flame ban, due to curious little fingers, for, like, ever. Tonight, the adult-to-child ratio was good (2:1), so I felt safe-ish. I took a gamble, put four small tea lights in the center of the table, and instructed the three other adults to be alert. I’m possibly not the most gracious hostess, imposing such an instruction on my guests, but I was just so enticed by the glowing possibilities that I couldn’t resist. And they were family, so…it’s okay, right? I’m a huge fan of mood lighting, so the fact that we had that treasured warm glow, and no need for the fire department or Urgent Care is a very big, exciting deal for me. Is this the sweet, small beginning of entertaining in style again?     Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on...

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