Friday, August 31, 2012

Natural History Museum, Los Angeles

Our youngest lovebug at Natural History Museum, Los Angeles
Our "Summer To Do List" included visiting the Natural History Museum, in Los Angeles.  I was reminded of that, when I saw a friend's FB posting, so we headed on over just under the wire!

We had a great time taking in the dinosaurs.  The Museum has done a wonderful job of highlighting these impressively large beasts that used to thrive millions of years ago. Isabella has always been fascinated by dinosaurs and today was no different.

The African and North American animal exhibits were lots of fun for our kids too.  They enjoyed rattling off the names of the animals, what they ate, and where they could be found.  Michael's favorite was the elephant.  Isabella was enchanted with the tiger. We also strolled through the Birds wing. (get it?) What an amazing collection of birds. The bones scale was bone weight, 27 pounds.

I was in my glory all afternoon, pointing out this and that.  My teacher training and love of learning were in full throttle.  Days like this is what I live for.

The Butterfly Pavilion was beyond beautiful.  To see so many butterflies at once was really special.
Isabella was swooning over swallowtails and monarchs alike.  She kept asking me to, "Snap a picture!"

Mommy, always the "teacher."
Our Batman spots danger!
While not the best photo of the Trio...I loved the bronze panels and was reminded of my great-grandfather.
He created many bronze works for the Los Angeles area as a young man.

Identifying Butterflies

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lasagna Recipe

Italian food is a household favorite.  This lasagna recipe brought my husband back into the kitchen for seconds. It is a great dish.

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion chopped
2 sausage links, casings removed
1 tsp garlic salt
1Tbs oregano
1 box lasagna noodles
1 25 oz jar of your favorite sauce
1 can of condensed tomato soup
1 16 oz container ricotta cheese
1 egg
18 oz pkg shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbs freshly chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Grease 13x9 baking dish.  Heat oven to 350 F.

Cook noodles according to package and drain. Set aside to cool.

Brown lean ground beef, sausage and onions together with oregano and garlic salt. Add sauce and can of condensed soup, minus two tablespoons.

Mix ricotta cheese, egg and 1 tablespoon of parsley together. Add a pinch of salt and cracked pepper to mixture.

Lay noodles lengthwise to cover the bottom of baking dish.  Spoon ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles.  Add layer of meat mixture, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Add another layer of noodles and repeat process. Finish with remaining two tablespoons of condensed soup, cheese and parsley.

Bake approximately 30 minutes.

This recipe smells incredible as it bakes.  Pair it with salad and a glass of wine.
 Mangia, mangia!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happier at Home

I was first introduced to Gretchen Rubin through her book, "The Happiness Project."  The book chronicles how focusing on one theme a month (examples, incorporating wisdom of others, creating outer order to create inner order, etc.) helped enhance her overall happiness. I picked up the book while strolling down the asiles of Target.  When I mentioned I was reading it to another mom gal pal, we exchanged our insights. Honestly, Rubin's book resonated with us as moms and as women in general. I devoured, "The Happiness Project," and had a paradigm shift of my own as a result.

When I learned of a second book, "Happier at Home," was to be released this September, I was ecstatic. 

"Happier at Home," covers the following topics by month:

  • September- Possessions, Find Simplicity
  • October- Marriage
  • November- Parenthood
  • December- Interior Design, Renovate Self
  • January- Time, Cram Your Day With What I Love
  • February- Body Experience the Experience
  • March- Hold More Tightly
  • April- Neighborhood
  • May- Now, Remember Now

*Side note here....Maybe it is the teacher in me, but I LOVE that the book is broken into nine months starting with September, Genius!

This book is about creating an environment around and within you to bring fulfillment into your, "everyday life."  Tending to the daily business of being a wife and mother can drive you into a rut if you forget life is about the details.  Get a copy of Rubin's,"Happier at Home," you and the ones you love deserve the happiest of homes!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

La Habra Children's Museum

Making Memories, La Habra Children's Museum
Want to stimulate your child's creative play?  Look no further than the La Habra Children's Museum.  This museum is a perfect setting for toddlers and early elementary aged children.  Our kids spent three great hours pretending, learning, and exploring the rooms within the museum and wanted to stay and play some more.  Honestly, this was a great environment for a playdate.

What you'll find:
*Kid's Stage
*Railroad Station
*Nature Room
*Cultural Artifacts From Around The World
*Indoor Playroom
*Science Room
*Arts and Crafts
*Faux Grocery Store
*Indoor Merry Go Round

While this museum is small and slightly aged, it fit our tastes well.  I would say, the museum is more of a play center.  The possibilities of play are only limited by your imagination. Go ready to have fun with your children and perhaps your inner child will reappear.

A few notes:  Parking and children two and under are free.  There is no food on site to purchase. However, there is a park adjacent to the building ideal for sack lunches.

Pumping Gas
Merry Go Round
Kimono Dress Up
Fire Captain and Piano Man Ryan
Michael Tickling Ivory
Craft Making

Nature Room
Scientist at Work
Bus Driver Ryan
The Three Amigos

Friday, August 24, 2012

Everything Is Beautiful At The Ballet

I had the good fortune of receiving a phone call from a preschool classmate's mom a little over a week ago.  With a lot of enthusiasm, she shared that her daughter's ballet fairytale class had openings. The class was to be centered around Sleeping Beauty.  I didn't hesitate for a second, I was sold!
It was an awesome week for our girl. Crafting, music, and dancing among friends was the perfect way to add some lady like fun to our final days of summer. 
The fun will continue this fall as Isabella adds ballet to her activities.
Can you spot our ballerina?

She is in the back row, left, in pink

Taking position
Isabella and Instructor Ms. Kelly 

Our Ballerina!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Children Will Listen, Careful the Words

There are few things that are precious to me; the innocence of a child's spirit among them.

It is my prayer, that this song's lyrics will resonate within you.

Bernadette Peters, Children Will Listen from David Sondheim's Into the Woods

In our everyday interactions with children we must aim to protect the fragility of innocence.

Careful before you say...listen to me.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Latest Shoe Obession

As an OC mom on the go, I usually reach for sandals when I am getting dressed or heading out the door.  Give me a pair of: flip flops, open toed sling backs, wedges, heels, or sandals and call me a very happy girl! I never thought I would embrace the trend of wearing closed toed flats, especially ballet flats.  Well, never say never!  I am hooked. I bought two pairs of ballet flats last fall and my feet were so grateful.  Recently, I purchased a pair that I am crazy about for a steal at a LOFT sale. Tell me, I am not the only one who has fallen for this shoe craze?  
My newest pair of ballet flats. Meow!

Aren't they purr-fect for fall?  I can't wait to break them in.  My husband has affectionately named them, "Peg Bundy Shoes." I know ladies, SMH!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Etiquette; Please and Thank You are STILL the Magic Words

via Emily Post

Emily Post's latest edition on etiquette includes manners for a new world.  From my observations, manners are certainly lacking in this "new world."  Was I part of the last generation to learn how to: write a thank you note, identify yourself when making a phone call, arrive on time, stand in line patiently, refrain from using technical devices during meals, dress professionally for work, or censor what is shared on Facebook?  We have all been in a public area and have heard," the inappropriate cell phone converssation," right?

Let me continue (my rant), as a note to all of you brides and mom's to be, I know you think a shower is ALL ABOUT YOU, but getting a gift, a sitter, fighting traffic and spending my afternoon with you was a big deal to ME.  (Maybe, I ought to gift you Emily Post's book?) Please, don't forget to show your appreciation by dropping a note of thanks in the mail. AND please do not have your guests address their envelope for you.

If you are someone who: uses thank you, excuse me, please, acknowledges gifts and sweet gestures, responds to invites, knows how to introduce someone appropriately, has table manners, and is just plain courteous, I thank you!  You are modeling behaviors that our society should embrace.  If you are a parent who models and holds your children accountable to using manners, I am grateful!

Manners do matter...use them and see how the world treats you.

Thanks, I appreciate you indulging me on this one!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Marmalade Cafe Review

Marmalade Cafe, Sherman Oaks
This weekend I had the pleasure of dining at Marmalade Cafe for breakfast twice! Yes, twice.  We enjoyed ourselves so much on Saturday, that we chose to visit a second Marmalade Cafe location on Sunday.

I had been to Marmalade Cafte in Sherman Oaks years ago for lunch and was delighted by the food, service and ambiance.  Since my husband and I were to be passing through town on a weekend getaway, it was a perfect opportunity to revisit the restaurant.

Upon arriving we were greeted immediately and ushered to a quaint table for two. Our server graciously offered us coffee while we looked over the extensive menu.  I opted for the Classic French Toast.  The hubs choose the Italian Omelete.  While waiting, I soaked in the charming ambiance of the cafe: gold gilded mirrors, chandeliers, plate racks displaying a beautiful collection of tableware, and antiques adorning shelves. The cafe was cozy and warm, just how I had remembered.

A Fantastic Menu

Classic French Toast
Italian Omelet
The food did not disappoint.  Not only did it look amazing, it was delicious too. My french toast was light and had a faint vanilla bean flavor.  The fruit was the perfect compliment to the dish.  The Italian omelete was incredible.  I couldn't resist taking a second bite just to get a nibble of the tasty turkey sausage. The omelete was served with seasoned potatoes and toast.

The service was efficient and friendly.  I especially, appreciated that our server didn't hover but knew when we could use a refill on our coffee.

Overall, the cafe exceeded our expectations.  In fact, the hubs enjoyed it so much that we popped into the Westlake Village location on the way home from our weekend getaway.

The Westlake Village location offers outdoor seating with tables covered by umbrellas near a babbling brook.  We opted to sit outside. This time, I ordered Huevos Rancheros (Muy Bueno) while the hubs chose the Italian omelete, why mess with a sure thing?!

For details on Marmalade Cafe locations, hours, and their menu, click the link.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Lazy Day, KOVAC Style

Yesterday, Isabella played hookie from morning summer camp activities.  She wanted a lazy day.  After bacon and jelly toast and a few too many cartoons, we marched into the kitchen for a baking project.  Hmmm... what to make?  How about carrot cake cupcakes for daddy's work?

The kids got busy cracking eggs and mixing up batter.  They loved the smell. (me too)  A few tastes of the batter and we were ready to bake.

The kids had lunch while the cupcakes baked and cooled.  I also whipped up a batch of cheesecakes while they watched a few Tom & Jerry episodes. Before long the kids were antsy. I set up some art and learning activities to entertain the littles so I could finish up in the kitchen.  Michael carefully concentrated on his painting project while Isabella enjoyed her Kindergarten Prep book.

A bit of cream cheese frosting on each... Our finished carrot cake cupcakes!

We spent the rest of the day outside.  We read some books, raced cars on the coffee table and had a basketball shooting contest. I made pizza for the kids dinner and salmon for the Hubs and I.

This morning, I woke up before the sun.  I topped the cheesecakes with cherries-the final touch.  I quickly boxed them up before the Hubs set out for work. (Why is he ONLY quick in getting ready for work?)

Our treats, boxed and ready to eat!
The HUBS, looking chipper for 5:30!

 We hope our sweet treats make for some happy faces today.
Really, his staff deserves so much more!
So much for a lazy day. I went to bed exhausted and slept like a BABY!

Now....for today's agenda!