Burrito day

Burrito day

We woke up to a cold but sunny Friday. Cold is good. You’ve often heard me lament about how I run from the sun. These days, I have a new fondness for the sun. Happiness is stumbling out of bed into the living room to see slivers of sunlight hanging off the wall in the living room.

So the morning started out with me cleaning the fridge. It was long overdue and my only excuse was that my Method all-purpose cleaner had just arrived in the mail. Well, I was just going to clean the fridge and then we were going to spend the day shopping. But since I had my trusty disposable gloves on, I ended up cleaning the entire kitchen from top to bottom.

Oh man, it was some arm workout but it’s good to have a sparkling clean kitchen. This may or may not be the first time in my life I’ve ever cleaned a kitchen inside out. Clearly I don’t make a very good Cinderella. It’s about time someone invented a kitchen that cleans itself at the touch of a button. Seriously, if there’s a self-cleaning oven, surely we must be only a few steps away from a self-cleaning kitchen, no? :grin:

Anyhoo, we headed out to lunch at our favorite spot after that. Where else but Baja Fresh!? Got our salsa lined up while waiting for our order to be called. Turned out 7 cups wasn’t enough for the salsa freaks.

fri1

Here comes our Steak and Shrimp Burrito, one for each of us.

fri2

Digging in… steak and shrimp is pure genius.

fri3

Then it was on to Costco for groceries where an endless number of food samples awaited us. The meatballs were so delicious we were tempted to buy some except one bag contains 140 meatballs! We could open a meatball restaurant with that many meatballs :lol: !

fri4

Dinner was leftover burrito so I guess that rounds up our burrito day!

Clairity/

How I learned to cook

These days I’m spending much more time in the kitchen than ever before in my life. Since my kitchen has always been managed by a team of devoted chefs and food experts (to whom I’m eternally grateful) who took care of all the daily cooking and cleaning, I rarely found reason to venture in there. Don’t judge, I may or may not have been a spoilt brat.

When I left home for college halfway across the planet, I was armed with all of two kitchen skills – boiling water and frying an egg. More often than not, cracking the egg itself presented a major obstacle as half the egg would inadvertently end up outside the pan.

It didn’t help that I was surrounded by roommates and friends who were no better than me. We never knew how our meals would turn out, many times they were some of the most grotesque meals imaginable and very hard to swallow indeed (literally!). One time we got together to cook fried rice, it turned into fried porridge. So you can imagine.

On a random night, someone would ask, “So what are we eating tonight?”. And someone else would shrug and say, without even looking embarrassed, “I don’t know, I just put everything in and boiled it for an hour… I think, I’m not sure because I got a phone call and forgot all about it. And when I came back, this is it!”.

I somehow survived my first year of college sharing the cooking with these 6 or 7 other clueless amateurs. Don’t ask me what we cooked or ate. I honestly don’t know. All I can say is that our food pictures would’ve blown any cellphone camera to Mars and back, if cellphones existed back then.

So then, being that I was a student on a shoestring budget, I couldn’t afford to eat out often, and it quickly became obvious I had to either learn to cook something palatable fast, or starve. As it happened, I lucked out and found a new roommate to share my apartment the second year whose boyfriend was a pretty darned good cook and although he didn’t live with us, she had clearly picked up a few recipes from him.

Hanging around the kitchen while she cooked, I learned a thing or two. We took turns to cook on alternate nights and somewhere along the line, I guess my cooking improved. Sorta. It wasn’t the best but it was decent, she never complained, and that gave me confidence.

And those were the early days of my cooking adventures. Looking back, leaving home without the foggiest idea of how to cook was plain crazy. But I got by with trial and error. I guess as long as you (and the poor folks you’re cooking for) are willing to close one eye and pretend your gobs of grub to be gourmet food, it’s all good :wink: .

So tell me, do you cook? Are you one of the lucky ones who was born with a spatula in your hand, or did you have to learn the hard way (like me)? Share your cooking story.

Clairity/

Holiday gifts for the book lover

Scratching your head over a holiday gift for those book lovers in your life. If you’re thinking of buying them another book, more books, consider these unusual pieces that will surely bring a breath of fresh air into the life of someone whose nose is perpetually buried in a book.

Book Club Classic Necklace
Book Club Classic Necklace

Even though your book clubs selections are new bestsellers, you just have to clasp this golden charm necklace amidst your collar before today’s meeting. Featuring dangling Alice in Wonderland-themed charms, including the Mad Hatters hat, the White Rabbit, roman numeral clocks, and a heart with Alice’s signature, this antiqued accessory proves that some looks – and books! – are classic.

Fresh Made Recipe Book
Fresh Made Recipe Book

It’s time to pick every perennially delicious recipe in your repertoire and plant it in this fresh spiral-bound folio from Chronicle Books. While its hard cover features blooming flowers and garlic cloves over a light, lemony background, this binder holds a dozen expandable folders with enchanting, garden-inspired prints – a brilliantly colorful collaboration by designer Vanessa Dina and illustrator Katie Vernon.

Once you nestle each notable clipping in the perfect pocket, use the included stickers to label each course and category, or create a custom section with one of the similarly sweet blanks.

Whether your herbs are harvested from a box on your kitchen’s bay window or you’re a budding gourmet, this charming catalogue makes it delightfully simple to dig into a new dish!

Play It School Tote
Play It School Tote

Get ready to ‘bus’-t a move on the floor of fun fashion, because this concurrently adorable and tongue-in-cheek bag will school every other stylista around. Sure to show that you know every trick of the ‘grade’ when it comes to awesome accessorizing, this large, primary yellow bag is designed to look like an anthropomorphic school bus and is complete with zippered side pockets and sayings that’ll conjure up nostalgic laughs.

Instead of going nuts without this bag, keep your two feet on the ‘playground’ and sate your ‘learning’ desire for functional-yet-fabulous fashion by giving this bag a home and pairing it with a ‘straight A’-line dress, graphite-hued tights, and recess-ready flats!

Novel Tee Sweatshirt in Jay
Novel Tee Sweatshirt in Jay

From East to West Egg, you’ll look smashing in this brilliant blue top by Out of Print. Printed with the original cover design from 1925, this look is as engrossing as the literary classic that inspired it.

You or your fave guy can capture the extravagance of the 1920s by donning this soft top with a khaki trench and Oxford shoes, or maintain your decorum by wearing it with denim jeans and a simple fedora. Each piece sold sends a book to a community in need, so add this shirt to your well-read wardrobe today!

No Plot, No Problem Novel Writing Kit
No Plot, No Problem Novel Writing Kit

You’ve always fancied the notion of achieving authorhood, but you’ve never had the push to put pen to paper. Now, get down to writing with this unique kit from Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month and firm believer that a lack of plot or previous literary experience is no reason to resist penning your first paperback.

Complete with tricks, tips, and prompts to get your creativity churning, Batys guide to your first 50,000-word wonder will lead you through a rigorous, but ultimately rewarding, schedule of productivity over a one month period.

With a chart to track your progress, certificate of success, and even stickers to advertise your phenomenal act, this kit from Chronicle Books contains every tool short of your daily determination to complete your first tale of romance or mystery in high-speed style.

Don’t miss Modcloth’s Sitewide Sale where you get to save 20% off everything on the site for a very limited time only. Be sure to use the code – TICKTOCK – at checkout to enjoy these fabulous savings. Offer ends December 15, 2014.

The story of 3 pumpkin rolls

The story of 3 pumpkin rolls

There’s something about the heady aroma of pumpkin and cinnamon that drives a normally sane person into a frenzy. As soon as the aroma hits your olfactory senses, it sets off your internal GPS that directs your brain to stop thinking and follow that scent. That trail took us to a guy handing out pumpkin roll samples.

One bite and our tastebuds were laughing. Those pumpkin rolls were out of this world. Man, if you could smell these!

pumpkin rolls

But wait, the pumpkin rolls came in boxes of three. As you know, we’re not really into sweet desserts. While these pumpkin rolls knocked our socks off, I just couldn’t see us buying 3 at one go. How on earth were we ever going to eat them all? We went into a full 10-minute huddle, plenty of going back and forth.

It’s really yummy!!

I know! But three rolls??!!

I don’t like it and I’m not going to eat any of it (Hip2bDaughter1 declared, turning up her nose) so you and Mom will have to eat them all.

Yikes! Do you think we can finish them all?

Yes, yes.

Yeah right! Look at all that cream! We don’t even like the cream.

Yeah but it tastes so good… (taking in deep cinnamon breaths)

You sure you can eat 3 rolls?

Of course.

Um, I don’t know. Can we?

Should we buy it?

Yes!

Are you crazy?!

Well, you get the picture. In our family, buying 3 pumpkin rolls is like buying a 3-storey building in the Gobi desert. Major decision!

Long story short, I bit the bullet and said, okay, let’s do this. Tis the season and if we get high on pumpkin and cinnamon, so what?!!

And here we go. First things first, what we always do to our cakes – scrape the cream off the top. It’s an old habit of mine that I seem to have passed on to my kids :grin: .

cream scraped off

Next, set reminders on our phones – Eat pumpkin roll. Hip2bDaughter2 and I had pumpkin rolls every day for 2 weeks. I even had them for lunch. I love pumpkin rolls but I swear I won’t be able to look at another pumpkin roll for a long, long while *shudder*.

two slices

Clairity/

A merry earful

Now that most of those colorful leaves have fallen off the trees, I guess I’m off to start taking pictures of Christmas trees. The malls are decked out and the Christmas songs and carols have me singing along as we dash in and out of the store. If I could play the Epiphone Pro-1 acoustic guitar, I’d be making quite an earful at home too. Sadly my vain attempts at learning to play the guitar ended in an epic fail eons ago :grin: .

Holiday gifts for the tea lover

Do you know any tea lovers, or maybe you’re one yourself? The thing about tea lovers is that there are so many tea-related gifts out there you will never run out of gift ideas. It’s true a tea lover can never have too many cute cups and tins to add to their collection.

Strawberry Large Cup & Saucer
Strawberry Large Cup & SaucerStrawberry Large Cup & Saucer

Cheerful china you can mix and match to create a dinner service that’ll brighten up your day. Makes a great gift for any occasion.

London Chintz Cedar Mug
London Chintz Cedar MugLondon Chintz Cedar Mug

A bright mug to make the mundane, cheerful. You can never go wrong with a large-sized mug.

London Tea TinLondon Tea Tin
London Tea Tin

Loose tea in a cheerful tin. An ideal gift for a tea-lover (so anybody in the British Isles).

And there you have it. Check out the entire Cath Kidston Christmas Collection. I’m sure you’ll find something for everyone on your list here.

Autumn’s the word

Autumn's the word

Autumn is Mother Nature sitting outside at her easel painting the trees in brilliant colors. It’s so amazing to see the leaves on the trees slowly changing from green to all different shades of yellow, orange and red. I confess I haven’t used the word autumn in a long while. Now somehow the word fall doesn’t seem to do enough justice to colors like these.

Colors of fall

Sometimes you don’t always notice the change. One day, I turned a corner on a frequently traveled road and woah, suddenly there’s this huge tree in the most brilliant red standing in the afternoon sun right in front of me. I never noticed it before when it was just another tree with green leaves. But there she was, in a row with many others like her, creating a truly breathtaking sight!

Colors of fall

As we head into winter, many of the trees are shedding their leaves and many are already bare. Today, just as I turned into a parking spot and stopped the car, we heard what sounded like the patter of heavy rain on the roof. Turned out a strong gust of wind was sending a flurry of red and yellow leaves raining down on our car. It was wondrous to hear and watch.

Falling leaves

Autumn has been a little laid back this year, taking her time with things. While the days have definitely cooled down, some days, it feels like summer all over again. Maybe Autumn’s too busy playing with her new makeup palette. Or maybe she just wants to show us she can be hot too :wink: !!

Clairity/
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