raised by culture

raised by culture: June 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals!

The Foodie Pen Pals package I received!I love participating in swaps.  Last month during my hunt for subscription boxes, I came across The Lean Green Bean's Foodie Pen Pals - you sign up before the month, get assigned a partner on the 5th, make contact and send out a package of food related items worth $15+ on or before the 15th of the month.  The big reveal is done at the end of the month!  Fun, right?  Yes!!!

Another cool thing about the swap is that the person you send to is not the person you receive from!  My partner Diana is from Chicago and blogs at veggienextdoor.com - She really spoiled me with goodies and was super thoughtful by keeping my sons in mind!  I have never had any of the yummy products she sent so I was happy!  

The Foodie Pen Pals package I received!It was torture waiting to tear open the Ulker Cokonat candy bar from Turkey before I took pictures of everything.  It was worth the wait though, wafers with hazelnuts!  I was surprised it survived the Summer heat!    

The Foodie Pen Pals package I received!I mixed about 1/2 cup Nacho Mom's Voodoo Queso with a can of refried beans and made burritos for myself and my 13 year old - it was so tasty!  I made more the next day for me and him cause it was muy delicioso.  I had never heard of Marks & Spencer because they are a UK company but I've been drooling at the online shop.  I plan on making a pie with the Blackcurrant & Cassis Mousse Base.  Mushroom Toastie Topper is exactly what it sounds like - a toast topper!  I'm really curious about it because I have only used sweet toppers on my toast.  Also in my package is Argyle Street Asian Blend seasoning from The Spice House.  I taste tested this with my finger and loved the flavor - this is going on some grilled veggies!  It smells so good!   Diana sent a few packets of Pukka Licorice & Cinnamon Tea - I think I'll brew it and then drink it iced!  I did forget to include a package of Grist Mill Chocolate Brownie mix in my pictures.  D'oh at me!  (Sorry Diana!) What's special about these are they are made with whole wheat pastry flour!  Exciting!  
The Foodie Pen Pals package I received!
I'll say it again, Diana was really thoughtful with this package and I appreciate it - I love the little notes on everything, the dish scraper, magazines and how some items are local to Illinois where she lives.

I'm not sure when I participate next month I'll be so lucky!  Thanks Diana!  

The Lean Green Bean

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals - What I Sent

My childhood was blessed with four of these items and I'm passing on these delicious gifts to my children.  All of them love Meiji Japanese Cheese Curls.  Duke and Damien have a funny routine.  They'll get a chair, sit facing each other and share a bag.  I even got my nieces in San Antonio hooked on 'em.  There was a good decade where we couldn't find them out here in California.  I suffered.  Maybe that's why I was such an angry teenager.

If you find yourself at a Filipino restaurant and not sure what to order, get Pancit Bihon.  You can't go wrong, it's so good with steamed white rice.  If you have Filipino friends or co-workers, make sure you try their Pancit - insist they bring it for a potluck.  Get in good so they invite you to watch the next Pacquiao fight.  It's our "chow mein".  Super easy to make!

I haven't had a chance to use Banana "Essence".  I'm pretty sure it's like an extract.  I haven't tried the almond dessert mix either - the texture is similar to Jell-o.  It reminds me of Haupia (Hawaiian Coconut Pudding)  Can't wait for test kitchen experimentation time!

Some of these items were purchased at 99 Ranch Market and Mitsuwa.  You can also check Seafood City or Marukai.

    Foodie Pen Pals: Things I Sent
  1. Mandarin Orange Drink - The pulp is yummy, drink it cold. 
  2. Dried Mangoes - Best one out there!
  3. Bihon Noodles
  4. Meiji Japanese Cheese Curls - We buy 8 bags at a time.  
  5. Banana Essence
  6. Butter Coconut Cookies
  7. Almond Dessert Mix

Tomorrow is the big June Foodie Pen Pals reveal - Check back to see what I received!  

Disclosure:  This post does not contain affiliate links.  I genuinely love these products and purchased them with my own cold hard cash.  

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Pockets of Love.

Update!  Earlier this month in my test kitchen, I semi-created semi-homemade pastry pockets but after experimenting some more, I think they should be called "Pockets of Love".  Only kidding.  Maybe.

This time around I used Marshmallow Creme & Nutella.  They came out sooo sooo good.  I also tried Knott's Strawberry Jam and Blueberry Cream Cheese which were also good (I really don't think you can mess this recipe up.  Play around with flavor combos!) but you only need a tiny amount of jam.  

Semi-homemade Pockets of Love Ingredients
1 Tube Crescent Rolls
8 Teaspoons Marshmallow Creme
8 Teaspoons Nutella


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Separate rolls on a baking sheet
  • On the wider side of each roll, place 1 teaspoon of Nutella and 1 teaspoon of Marshmallow Creme
  • Fold the thin, pointy tip of roll toward wide side and then fold in other edges to make it look like a cute little pocket
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

 I didn't have a chance to take pictures with my camera - I blinked and they were gone!  Fool your friends and family into thinking you spent all day in the kitchen with this recipe!  
Marshmallow Creme and Nutella Pockets of Love
The color on this was so cute!
Knott's Strawberry Jam and Blueberry Cream Cheese Pockets of Love

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Poppit! Sprint

Since the kids are on Summer vacation, most days are routine for me.  Moms, you know what I mean… Baby wakes up between 5-6am for a feeding, I make breakfast for myself and Duke, if Omar goes back to sleep, I usually sneak in a nap before he gets up again.  When we’re finally up for the day a few hours later, I check my emails, social networking sites, do some housework.  And then I break the routine with an online game.  Being challenged wakes up my brain and a fun game like Poppit! is exactly what I need to get me going when the bulk of my day/week is spent with the fantastic, busy company of a 9 week old and a 6 year old.

Online games are just another outlet for me and super rewarding when I see my high score.  I got 92,000 on my first try at Poppit!  First try!  And I didn’t even have to break a sweat!  Or cuss at the game cause I didn’t understand it.  I love online games because it’s not a guilty pleasure like bad reality tv where I tend to talk to my tv when someone does something to piss me off.  It also helps me from putting on the news where there are so many depressing stories.  Online games are a fun, easy escape!

A family favorite on Pogo.com is Family Feud.  My husband and I love playing together and against each other.  It’s amusing to see who scores more.  Of course it’s always me.  (Just kidding, don’t tell him that)  Also amusing are some answers that we throw out there.  It’s a good, cheap time and also a good break in our own routine.   (Cause you know we like to save our money for eating out and thrifting.)

Race against the clock and pop as many balloons as you can. To play the Poppit!™ Sprint puzzle game, all you have to do is pop groups of two or more balloons of the same color in one minute. Fast pops of three or more balloons of the same color increase your multiplier and score.

Play the full version of this puzzle game for free* on Pogo.com. Once you register, you will also be able to save your high scores, tokens, and be able to enter daily for a chance to win prizes**. Join Pogo now and play over 100 free* online games!

*Internet connection and EA account required. Must be 13+ to create an EA account.

**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Eligibility restrictions apply. See Official Rules for details and alternative means of entry.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ballin' on a Budget: Summer Swag

Ballin' on a Budget: Summer Swag edition
My teens are always shocked at the stuff we find thrifting and the super low prices... especially since we have found popular streetwear brands like Supreme and Obey.  Now there's an all around fascination and love for the sport in our family.

It's especially exciting for me because Ty is around the same age my brother got into thrifting and would drag me out shopping with him.  It was so fun!  I still remember finding a pair of vintage Levi's for a quarter and vintage Candie's heels for .90!   Those were the days!  Before it got so popular.  Before eBay.  Before consignment/boutique shops.

Ty (the 15 year old) wanted to go thrift shopping this weekend and was on the hunt for Hawaiian shirts and Bill Cosby sweaters for "Summer Swag".  He found 5 Hawaiian shirts and 2 Bill Cosby sweaters for a grand total of $17!

  1.  Crooks & Castles beanie $9.99 - jackthreads.com
  2. "Bill Cosby" sweater (actually vintage Sears) $3.98 - thrift store
  3. Suede Vans (New!) $12 - thrift store
Do you have a budget for your kids Back-to-School shopping?  Do you still shop for them or you let them shop on their own?  Do you think your kids would like "used" clothes?

PLNDR brand logo - 468x60

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Today's Scores

I guess when shopping doesn't damage my bank account, it makes it feel somewhat okay to shop thrift stores like a maniac.  I promise not to photo bomb my blog every other day with my hauls.  I'm learning to shop smarter and choose what to post.

Who could pass up a vintage dress at a great price?  Not me!  Was pleasantly surprised I could fit my 8 week post-natal body into it and look cute.    
Today's Scores
Williams-Sonoma!  Dreamy!  Perfect to experiment with in my test kitchen!
Today's Scores
I'm a sucker for vintage!
Today's Scores
And Bunnies!  (Made in Japan!)
Today's Scores
And Books!
Today's Scores
And Buttons!
Today's Scores
This Hello Kitty cable knit vest made me laugh.  I didn't pass it up because of the price.  But is it bootleg?  ( Funny thing is that we saw another one at a different thrift store a few days later.  Weird!)
Today's Scores
It wasn't till last month that I heard about dooce.com - I've been online since 1996 but no one in my circle really talked about her blog.  I came across this book at Goodwill, loved the cover and it wasn't till I got home that I read the bottom cover and realized that this was the Dooce's book!  
Today's Scores

Happy Thrifting!

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Today's Scores: The Things I Didn't Buy

Thrift shopping is routine in our family now.  Duke (my 6 year old) has his own favorite sections now. He hits the toys, VHS tapes and books - in that order.  He had a sad moment on Saturday.  We were at Salvation Army, everything was 50% off and when we were at the check-out counter, the lady in front of us had a Toy Story Slinky Dog.  I peeked at the price and it was $1.59 so she was getting it for .80 - Duke really wanted it so I told Chris to offer her $2 but he didn't cause he knew she wouldn't have given it up.  I wouldn't have either.  She scored.  We turned the situation into a learning lesson for him: Be prepared to scour the aisles faster.  Just kidding.  We told him that sometimes you win some, lose some - be a good sport about it and get on with your day.  Life goes on!

The Things I Didn't Buy:
Cows in dresses.  I kinda wanted them.  Wish I looked at the price!
Things I didn't buy
Blue Eyed Jesus on Black Velvet.  This didn't have a price.  Not sure how your thrift stores are but all the ones I shop at will not sell an item without a price.
Things I didn't buy
This was all kinds of gorgeous.  Especially the frame.  It would have come home with me if it was a real painting but it was a reproduction on a wooden board.
Things I didn't buy
I always check for used rolls of film in cameras.  Most of the time the roll isn't finished so when I pop open the back and expose the film to light, I don't even bother...  I have picked up 3 finished rolls but I worry about getting 'em processed and printed - what if there's some crazy stuff (or even criminal) on there?  I would be so embarrassed picking it up!
Things I didn't buy

What are some things you didn't buy?  Any big time regrets?
A recent regret of mine is not buying (2) 10 lb. bags of Legos that were about $12 each.  Duke has been busy every day of his Summer vacation building with his Legos and it would've been nice to have bricks that weren't part of a set.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Common Blogger Mistakes:

Let's call this Blogger Mistake #29: Talking to another blogger like a kid (Or talking down to another blogger)  -  I am a grown woman!

I've recently gotten some backlash in a blogger group (I won't say which group because I'm quite fond of this group) for recommending my "blog designer" who does layouts for $75.  Look, not everyone can afford $2500 blog designs.  And if you are one of those bloggers that takes out a loan to pay for a new layout, something may be wrong with you.  I shouldn't have to hear a lecture about how I overpaid for my layout or how designers like her are hurting your industry.  Let's be real, it's you designers that hurt your own industry if your cookie cutter designs suck and you don't pick up jobs.  Boring.

It makes me question why blog designers that are also bloggers would want to charge a fellow blogger that much money?  Those rates should be for businesses!

The way I see it, as with life, there's different tiers of services and products.  Am I going to bankrupt myself like Teresa Giudice just to make myself look good?  NO.  I refuse to fake the funk.  

And to counter a comment like "You get what you pay for".  That makes me laugh.  Seriously.  I'm a huge thrifter and have found pieces for .98 that's worth hundreds of dollars.  I guess you don't watch Antiques Roadshow either.  In most cases, just cause you pay more doesn't mean something is better.  I happen to like my design.  A LOT.  I gave my ideas and she executed well.

I could give you example after example of how uber successful bloggers had some FUGLY designs when they started out.  Use Wayback Machine to see The Pioneer Woman's first layout.  Oy, it was terrible!  Or how simple the original blog for Julie & Julia project was.  It's the writing and authenticity that captures an audience.  The design is just makeup.  Makeup only lasts so long.  It's the content that will make an impression and keep 'em coming back for more.

It's a learning process.  Blogging should be fun.  Let's keep it that way, eh?  

My designer Tasha is awesome!  And she only charges $75.  Have I mentioned that she's awesome?

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Subscription Box Madness!

I am a huge fan of subscription boxes.  Mainly because I know that every month I'll get a box in the mail and the contents are a surprise!  Mmm fun and addicting!  But I'm also aware of my money and don't want to waste it on junk so I did a lot of research on choosing the subscription I want.

I chose Glossybox which offers 5 travel-sized beauty products for $21 a month.  I got in for the May box and it came with 6! products and a few of them looked bigger than "travel-size".  I haven't had a chance to sample any of the stuff yet but I'm excited for all of it, especially the Zoya nail polish and Phyto dry hair intense hydrating mask.  My hair is a damn mess and I don't know what to do with it right now.  I teased my Husband that I was gonna dye it pink and he laughed but I'm serious!  I'm in dire need of change but I hate wigs and weaves.  I hate my hair.  HATE.

May 2012 GlossyBox

Duke got lucky with his subscription box.  Veronica tweeted about Babbaboxes for a PENNY.  Now we're talking, perfect for my budget!  The products in Babbabox are great quality and creative but we haven't done any of the projects yet.  Summer just started and I want to to start them when we're more on a schedule.    
May 2012 BabbaBox

Want boxes?  ( It took forever to compile this list and I'm pretty sure this isn't all of 'em.  These are not affiliate links... just thought I would share the different types of boxes and price ranges out there.  If you know of one, let me know and I'll update the list! )

Birchbox - beauty & lifestyle samples $10 a month, free shipping
Sample Society - 5 deluxe-sized samples for $15 a month (includes 12 months subscription to Allure magazine, $15 coupon towards $50 purchase)
Eco Emi - chic, eco-friendly products $15 a month, free shipping
Beauty Army - you choose up to 6 samples for $12 a month
NewBeauty Test Tube - 3 months for $29.95 
MyGlam - bag of beauty samples, $10 a month
Blissmobox - organic, non-toxic and eco products, $19 a month
Conscious Box - pure and sustainable products, $12 a month + $7 shipping
Cravebox - subscription boxes and limited edition boxes, $10 a month
Goodebox - healthy, sustainable beauty products, $16 a month
Green Grab Bag - eco friendly bag of natural beauty products, $15 a month, free shipping
Beautyfix - up to $400 worth of products every season for $49.99
GoGoGirlfriend - health, beauty and home products, $12.99 a month
TeetheMe - products tailored for newborns - 3 years old, $24 a month
Julep - $19.99 a month
Honest Co. - eco-friendly baby products
Whimsey Box - craft projects, $15 a month
Good and Lovely - chocolate, tea, aromatherapy and body care, $13.99 a month
Bluum - deluxe samples for mom and baby, $33 a month
Citrus Lane - newborns - 3 years old, $25 a month
Petite Box - out of business?
Kiwi Crate - crafts and activities for kids 3-7 years old, $19.95 a month
Sindulge - out of business?
Beauty Box 5 - 4-5 beauty samples, $12 a month
Love With Food - 8+ tasty bites, $10 a month
Kara's Way - 5-10 eco-friendly samples, $15 a month
Shoemint - $79.98 per pair
Posh Pod - beauty products, $29.99 a month
Platinum Box - 6-8 sports nutrition products, $10 a month
Twistband - headbands, 3 months for $30
Glymm - 4-5 deluxe beauty samples, $12 a month, free shipping
Bark Box - for dogs! $17 a month, free shipping
Shoedazzle - $39.95 a pair
JustFab - $39.95 a pair
Luxebox - 7-8 samples
Topbox - 4 deluxe samples, $10 a month (Canada)
Curlbox - products for curly hair
Foodzie - tasting club, $29.95 a month
Lookbag - 5 beauty samples, $10 a month 
Yumvelope - full-sized natural snacks, drinks and desserts, $19 a month
Little Black Boxes - handmade samples from artisans and crafters, $20 a month
Dream Sample Boxes - handmade samples from artisans and crafters, boxes and prices vary.
Jacked Pack - sports nutrition samples, $5 a month plus shipping
Pairings - food and music box, $25 a month
Umbabox - handmade goods, $25 a month plus $5 shipping
Gotham Box - Choose SF or NY and get that city's best products for $20 a month
Wittlebee - monthly kids clothing, $39.99 a month
Quarterly Co. - You choose your influencers, $25
Manpacks - underwear, socks, razors, condoms and more, price depends on items you choose
Lost Crates - Price depends on items you choose
Little Passports - Your children learn about the world with Sam & Sofia, $41.85 3 month subscription
Art In A Box - $50 a month includes shipping, 3 month minimum
GiftLit - monthly book subscription, prices range on age
Spark Box - A box of 4 educational toys every 8 weeks, $22.95 a month

Does anyone remember The Sampler?  It was thee first subscription box I bought online (maybe back in 2007)!  Marie, the original owner sold it and sadly, it's no longer around - it was such a great idea!

If you decide to use this list, be cool and link back to me.  Thanks!

Disclosure:  I purchased Glossybox and BabbaBox with my own cash money.  There are no affiliate links within this post. 

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Duke & I review A Perfect Pet for Peyton

We're big on books.  My husband & I took turns reading to Duke almost every day this past school year.  He's starting to read to us now!  I jumped at the chance to review, "A Perfect Pet for Peyton" by best selling author Dr. Gary Chapman because I wanted to learn more about Dr. Gary Chapman's 5 Love Languages for kids.

My favorite part about this book is that it is written from a biblical perspective but the message isn't forced on you.  This is a big issue with me because we believe in God but are more spiritual than religious.

A Perfect Pet for PeytonDuke & I really enjoyed this book, the story is interesting and kept us wanting to get to each page.  One of the activities is to find insects on every big picture in the book, Duke really enjoyed that.  The illustrations were cute but didn't fall under too cutesy for the younger audience.  The story line is thought-provoking and there is even a nod to mythical creatures!  We also enjoyed how each character had a different personality and in the end we found out how their characteristics defined their "love language".      

The 5 Love Languages are: Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch and Acts of Service.  At the end of the book, there was a quiz to determine your child's love language - Duke falls under "Gifts" and "Words of Affirmation".  Knowing your child's love language will enable them to give and receive love more easily and strengthen your family.

This is one of those books you read with your child a few times and can hold a lengthy discussion about the content.  This is a great book for parents and children - "G" Family approved!     

A Perfect Pet for Peyton

Disclosure: This review was made possible by Mom Spark Media.  Thoughts are my own.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

FREE Movies for Kids every Tuesday in Buena Park, CA

Editor's Note 8/7/13: This list was for Summer 2012.  The updated list of movies for Summer 2013 is here.  

Just passing along information on this fun event in my city - We have attended in the past and it's FUN!  Krikorian and Buena Park Downtown put together great family events!  Plus it's a good way to keep the kids busy and cool during this hot Summer!  

"G" Family approved!


Kid's FREE Summer Film Festival
& Kid’s Party in the Courtyard
Enjoy Crafts, Music, Snacks and More!
Noon – 2:00pm

Tuesday, June 19th
10:00am | 12:30pm
*Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

Tuesday, June 26th
10:00am | 12:30pm
*Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2

Tuesday, July 3rd
10:00am | 12:30pm
*Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Tuesday, July 10th
10:00am | 12:30pm

Tuesday, July 17th
10:00am | 12:30pm
*We Bought a Zoo

Tuesday, July 24th
10:00am | 12:30pm

Tuesday, July 31st
10:00am | 12:30pm
*Kung Fu Panda 2

Tuesday, August 7th
10:00am | 12:30pm
*Puss in Boots

Tuesday, August 14th
10:00am | 12:30pm

Tuesday, August 21st
10:00am | 12:30pm
*Adventures of Tintin

*Tickets for these movies are on a first come, first serve basis.

8290 La Palma Avenue 
Buena Park, CA 90620
(714) 826-2152


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.  Just passing along information on free events in my city.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pixar Short "La Luna"

The 7 minute short film before Disney/Pixar's Brave is called La Luna and looks absolutely adorable!  I want to see it more than I want to see the feature!    

Brave opens on June 22nd, 2012!  

Directed by Enrico Casarosa
Produced by Kevin Reher

La Luna is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait.  A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family's most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa, or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way in the midst of their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions?

All information, pictures and video courtesy: Disney
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post.  I'm genuinely interested in this movie and just passing on info I received in a press release.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

It's going to be an Old Navy Summer!

This post is underwritten by Old Navy. Whether you're looking for a tankini, bikini, or a one piece, Old Navy has you confidently covered at a great price.

I love Summer activities - like hanging out by the pool, in the pool, at the beach, at local water parks...
We had an amazing Summer last year and I'm so excited to enjoy my family this Summer!

Last Summer started out with my family & I taking a trip to Alabama for my cousin Irene's Wedding.  We flew into Atlanta, Georgia and checked into our hotel.  The plan was to enjoy the city for a day before we had to drive 90 minutes to Alabama to meet up with the rest of our family.  We weren't in our suite for five minutes when my 5 year old son Duke and 12 year old son Damien were begging to hit the hotel pool.  Since our time in Atlanta was limited and I was exhausted from the long flight, I thought it was a good idea to relax by the pool.

It was perfect because I had just picked up a one piece swimsuit and was dying to show it off to my husband Chris.   My only complaint was that it was a boring black.  Why are all swimsuits for curvy girls like me - black?

And then I saw that Old Navy is offering a Women's Control Max Halter Swimsuit in Royal Rowena - it's gorgeous!  Color is fun!  Black is playing it safe and I don't want to play it safe anymore!

So this Summer, I will be sipping smoothies by the pool and laying out at the beach in color!!!  I will also be teaching Duke how to swim!  The Women's Control Max Halter Swimsuit suits me because it's adorable, I love the color and it will help control my tummy when I'm in the water!  

I chose to highlight these two super cute suits for Summer - Women's Control Max Halter Swimsuit for me NOW and the Ruffle-Tiered Bikini for me NEXT SUMMER!  I say next Summer because I just had a baby at the end of April and you know how that goes...  

Summer fun, here we come!

Which suit will your body be rockin' this Summer?

Old Navy campaign
Thank you to Old Navy for sponsoring my post. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Semi-homemade Sweet & Cheesy Pockets

I rarely have time to create new recipes or the money to waste on experimenting.  So "semi-homemade" helps me save my precious time and it's fun to play in the kitchen when you have $10 and an hour to spare.  I promise I can get down making food from scratch but who has time when there are such good morning talk shows (Anderson and Bethenny were so good today - Oh and Ricki Lake is coming back!!!) and bad reality TV (Teen Mom, oh my - last season)!  I am shaping up to be the awesomest stay at home Mom!  Summer starts tomorrow, I am so excited!  

Disclaimer: This recipe is loosely (very loosely) inspired by Southern California's Famous Porto's Bakery Guava Cheese Rolls.  My recipe isn't intended as a copycat recipe.   

Semi-homemade Sweet & Cheesy Pockets Ingredients
1 Tube Crescent Rolls
8 Tablespoons Trader Joe's Honey Apple Butter (or any flavored butter, jam or jelly)
8 Teaspoons Cream Cheese (you can use flavored cream cheese)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Separate rolls on a baking sheet
  • On the wider side of each roll, place 1 tablespoon of honey apple butter and 1 teaspoon of cream cheese  
  • Fold the thin, pointy tip of roll toward wide side and then fold in other edges to make it look like a cute little pocket
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown
This was the first time I made these and they came out really good.  My husband, 13 year old and I ate these up in 5 minutes.  I suggest letting a few of them cool for about 10 minutes, I can't decide if they tasted better fresh out of the oven or after they cooled.  I do know that I'll be experimenting with other flavor profiles.  I'm excited for strawberry jam and strawberry cream cheese pockets.  
Semi-homemade rolls Semi-homemade rolls

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Kale Fail!

Kale has been flooding all of my social networks.  Talk of it in smoothies and as chips...  The only time I've tried kale is in Olive Garden's delicious Zuppa Toscana soup.  So, I jumped the kale bandwagon and decided to experiment.  I picked up a bag of cut & washed kale from Trader Joe's for $1.99 - dribbled some EVOO and to be different, I sprinkled Tajin seasoning.  Put it in the oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes and when it was done, it was so tangy and tart.  My 13 year old son Damien - who will try anything - thought it was weird.  It made our place smell weird.  This was a definite FAIL for me.  Next time, I'll try sea salt.  

Why am I blogging about it?  Because all bloggers are not perfect creatures!!!
Kale Fail!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Father's Day Gift Ideas 2012

My Husband loves June.  He gets to celebrate his Birthday and Father's Day!  He had his Wishlist done a few weeks ago (with my urging) with 3 items he really wanted, talk about easy to shop for!  He's really an amazing Dad, Stepdad and Husband so guess what - He's getting all of it!

Do you buy your Husband a Father's Day gift and say it's from your kid(s)?      Father's Day Gift Ideas 2012

Father's Day Gift Ideas 2012 by raised by culture

Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post.  Items are linked to their respective sites - please visit those sites to get detailed descriptions and pricing

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Young Love.

Two of my sons are girl crazy.

The 15 year old has a tall order for his age.

And the 6 year old needs more hands.
LL Duke J

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Highlights & lowlights.

Chris & I stay busy and having a newborn makes the days even more of a blur.  My Husband will be returning to work this week after a month of glorious baby bonding time thanks to California's Paid Family Leave.  I love having him home!  I tell him to start blogging so he can quit his job.  And then we both laugh.

I'm scheduled to return back to work on September 1st but it looks like I'll be taking a year off to be a SAHM!  I want to enjoy my little baby!  This is new territory for me because I've been working since I was 14.  We're also venturing into homeschooling Duke for 1st grade.  I attended our county's home ed orientation on Wednesday and I think we made the right decision.  We're assigned a teacher and check-in with her once a month, they provide books and we plan the curriculum together.  Duke can also attend class a couple times a week.  And I'll be back in school in the Fall so being off work for a year makes sense.  ( Remind me that I said all this in case I start freaking out in a couple months. )     

I haven't been to an art show, gallery or museum in months and it makes me sick.  I need art.  Maybe that's why Dr. Google says I have Postpartum Vertigo.  Or maybe I need to remember to caffeinate.
( I did see a Dr. yesterday - it is Vertigo.  He didn't prescribe meds but told me to do head exercises. )

We found this vintage chair at a thrift store for $25.  It's gorgeous.  Hubby snapped this before it went into our storage.  Love that he can shoot.

Hubby can shoot!

Another use for Talenti plastic jar - cup!

Other uses for Talenti jar: Cup!

Those were the highlights of my week.  And then there's the new cancer scare.  With my Grandpa.  My hero.  The best man I know.  We won't know for 2 weeks.  Trying to be positive, optimistic and thank God for the great life he's had so far.  

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Kids love Ruckus Reader!

I asked a Mommy friend of mine to do a guest review of Ruckus Reader!  Here's Dina's thoughts on the iPad app for kids!

I've never heard of the Ruckus Reader app prior to Xenia asking me if I wanted a free trial. I'm not prone to spend money on apps to begin with. My girls tend to play with the apps on our iPad more than I do, but I try to encourage more educational apps, so I was more than willing to give Ruckus Reader a try.

I love that there are varying types of "books" available from Transformers, My Little Pony, and even nature-esque ones like the Sea World book. Of course my 4 year old was drawn to the My Little Pony book first, but to my surprise she was just as intrigued by the Transformers book and the Chuck and friends book. My 6 year old (who is reading at the level of a 4th grader) enjoyed the Sea World book, moreso for the content and learning new things about the animals. The Crayola book is fun at integrating coloring the pages at their own will.

I find that she gets bored easily though and misses a lot of the content. I wish she were grasping the words better but I'm hoping that will come with time. She is allowed to use the iPad at will, and one of the Ruckus Reader books is always her first choice, spending about 5 minutes on a book and then flipping over to the next one. My 2 year old nephew loves to watch over her shoulder, but I think it's more the colors and characters he is into more than the content and reading aspect.
Ruckus Reader!It's a great app for her age group (preschool age, 4-5). She's not in preschool yet, but I think if and when she is put into preschool her interest might be piqued. I don't pressure her much on the academic side (probably because she's my baby), but my inner Asian Tiger Mom is screaming inside because she's so lazy when it comes to wanting to learn. To me, this is a start, hopefully in the right direction.

Thanks to weekly updates from Ruckus Reader I can see her activity as well as progress. Still borderline if I would be willing to pay for this app, but I am really enjoying this free trial with it.  When the trial runs out, I will ask her if she still wants to "play" and depending on her progress from the weekly emails I will decide if it's worth it.   

The Ruckus Reader is a breakthrough learning program, a unique series of digital storybooks designed to help your child practice important reading skills AND keep you up to date on your child's progress. All of the stories and interactive activities are developed by educational experts to adhere to national educational standards for preschool through second grade.

Disclosure:  Ruckus Reader provided a free trial of their app for review.  All opinions are entirely our own.

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