And because I'm not quite ready for Halloween to end....

I've just discovered one of the new special effects on Photobucket: the Blueprint. It's quite freaky!

For more blue things, click here.

Trick or Treat!

For everyone who comes trick-or-treating on my blog today, I give you some delicious morsels from Kara's Cupcakes. Happy Halloween!

Halloween Hearts

Last weekend I was setting out some Halloween-themed sprinkles for cupcake-decorating at our Halloween party, when I stopped and took a closer look at the pumpkin-shaped ones. All of a sudden it occurred to me that they sort of look like little hearts when you turn them upside down. How appropriate, considering I heart-heart-heart Halloween.

For more images of love, click here.

Salmon, the fountain of youth

Last week we settled down to a yummy supper of teriyaki salmon, broccoli and rice......

Jammy: Is salmon healthy for you?

Me: Oh yes! It's full of good fats that builds up your brain.

Alfie: It builds strong muscles.

Me: It's a superfood that keeps your skin smooth and young-looking!

Pea: So if I'm seven years old, I'll look like I'm six? I don't want to look young!

Me (with a sly look at Alfie): When you're my age, you'll want to look young. If I keep eating salmon, when I'm your daddy's age, I'll still look like I'm my age now!

Pea (looking hard at Alfie): Wow, daddy, it's too bad you didn't eat any salmon when you were younger.

Slutty mamas take over kids party (yup, it's Halloween)

We hosted a little family Halloween get-together this weekend. The kids had loads of fun decorating cookies, eating Halloween-themed treats and traipsing around the backyard hunting for Halloween treats to put in their goody bags.

Naturally, we took about a gazillion photos. The first thing that Alfie noticed when we got them up on the computer was, "There are way more photos of adults than kids". This has got to be the only kids' party where parents take more photos of ourselves than of our cute/talented/amusing/all-of-the-above offspring.

See, this is why I love Halloween. Kids can play dress-up any old time of the year, but we grown-ups need a good excuse. There's something about putting on a costume that releases all of one's inhibitions; since it's not you, you can behave as outrageously as you want. No wonder most of the female Halloween costumes on the market are slutty this and slutty that.

We certainly released our inner children that day. My sister and her husband brought wigs as part of their costumes. We spent a good thirty minutes photographing ourselves in every possible permutation and combination of wigs and individuals and groups.

Did I forget to mention that the grown-ups had a good time at the party too?


Skeletons? Ghouls? Yah, yah, oooh, scary, whatever. Now here's something I find truly scary:

It's aliiiiiiive!!!

Happy Halloween!

For more scary things, click here.

For the love of football

The English are mad about football, simply mad about it. Rugby and cricket are blips on the radar screen compared to their football obsession. If 3Po and Jammy were living in England now, they'd probably be playing football every day because that's what all the little boys do when they go out to play.

We don't push football on them, but with all the matches they see on tv, they must think football is literally the only sport around. That will change once they enter kindergarten and grade school, but for now, all they know is football. I'm happy that they genuinely seem to like the Beautiful Game, and I hope they continue to play it.

For more images of love, click here.

A message from the anti-US cities in the US

I've always known that the writers on the Silicon Valley Moms Group are smart, sassy and savvy. Here's a video that New York Moms Blog writer Amyhas posted on YouTube, speaking for all the people who live in the big-city, anti-American parts of the country (that only exist in Sarah Palin's mind):

Halloween Happenings in Silicon Valley

Finally, my obsessive searching for things to do has some use to other people besides my own family. Check out my Savvy guide to kid-friendly Halloween happenings all over Silicon Valley!

If you don't live in these here parts, the Savvy Source also has guides for over 20 cities in the US and Canada. Click here for a sample (Bay Area included), or click here to find your own city. If you do live in the Bay Area, look out for two Star Wars clones and a she-devil at one of the Halloween events this weekend. The frazzled mother running after them would be me.

Which costumes go well with eyeglasses?

Eyeglasses suck during Halloween. They just don't go with any of the costumes I want to wear. Pirate with glasses? Witch? Princess? Eh. Neh. And nah. As far as I can tell, the only costumes that look good with glasses are:

Slutty lawyer
Slutty student
Slutty teacher
Slutty librarian

You get the picture. I don't really want to be any of those (there are a lot more interesting slutty costumes to be found), so this year I decided to give my glasses a little costume of their own. I bought a plain eyemask, hot-glued some fake autumn leaves and beads and twigs, and ta-daaa! Here is Jammy modeling my autumn foliage mask. I'm still sprucing up the rest of the costume, so I'll show it off when I'm done.

A sweet idea

I had so much fun the other night at a Girls Night Out for bloggers, hosted by the HP Creative Studio. We were given lots of fantastic ideas for unique, personalized crafts.

My favorite one was this Cookie-in-a-jar. You basically measure out the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips, raisins, etc...) for your favorite cookie recipe and layer them in a clear glass jar. Attach the recipe, dress up the jar with ribbons and stickers, and voila! A beautiful, personalized present. It's just like baking the cookies for them, except you don't have to deal with the wet ingredients and the cleaning up. You can also layer bath salts or cocoa mix in the jars (but not together, and make sure you don't switch around the instruction labels).


Family -- this is an easy one, since 99% of the photos we take are of our families. But what's in a family? We've got our nuclear family -- Alfie, me, Pea, 3Po and Jammy. But we also have parents and siblings and nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents.

In the Philippines, "family" is a fluid, ever-expanding term. My grandmother has 7 children, 29 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Getting everyone together has become literally impossible. The photo above shows the most successful attempt so far, at my brother's wedding last December. We can barely fit in the frame!

For more families, click here.

Love Thursday

When I was growing up, I saw my cousins every weekend. For almost 2 decades we played and fought and laughed and talked. I'm so glad that The Pea is getting a chance to bond with her own cousins -- my sister's children, who moved to a city just an hour's drive away. So far, we've been getting together about once a month, and it has been such a joy to see them playing together, just like I did with my sister and cousins so long ago.

For more images of love, click here.


We did our annual corn harvesting at Ardenwood Farm's Fall Festival this weekend. This time, all five of us donned our gloves and plunged into the cornfield. We came back with some beautifully-colored Indian corn and bright orange popcorn.

Yes, popcorn! The volunteers at Ardenwood say you can actually pop and eat it. Usually I just use the corn for decoration, but this year I resolved to try. Unfortunately, I don't really know how to do it. They hand out instructions every year and I assumed we had the paper somewhere in the kitchen. We don't.

So I tried spraying the cob with oil and sticking it in the microwave for 3 minutes. The photo above shows the result. It tastes great, but the yield is pretty low. I searched the internet but couldn't really find good instructions (I did find out that it's better to get the kernels off the cob first). I guess I'll have to ask the folks at Ardenwood. Any ideas?

Boy, am I Savvy!

I know I've been neglecting this blog all week, but I have a good reason. I'm proud to announce that I've just joined the team at Savvy Source, an activity and preschool resource for parents of 2-6 year olds. I'm the new City Editor for the Silicon Valley region, teaming up with Shawn the backpacking dad. Stop by and say hi. Or stop by to find out all of our tips and tricks and places to go. Or just stop by.

The bits and bytes of life

Many households revolve around their kitchen. I think the computer nook is becoming the center of ours. It’s my favorite spot in the house, right at the top of the stairs, bright and sunny, with a view of the flowers in our yard. The kids have a playroom full of toys, yet somehow they always find their way to the computer nook. Alfie and I spend many a weekend afternoon surfing the internet, the kids drawing or playing on the floor beside us. We take turns logging on, egg timers set to 30 minutes (for the kids, at least) so there’s no cheating. We type and talk and laugh and live there. The kids fall asleep to the tapping of the keys and wake to the sound of our noisy old desktop being booted up. If cotton is the fabric of our lives, the computer is the engine of ours.

How do you like them apples?

Gizdich Ranch is just as fun as I remembered it. The apples are just as sweet and just as easy to reach.

This time they also had strawberries available for picking. It's pretty late in the year for strawberries, but the ones we picked were plump and juicy.

Even Alfie admitted that it was quite a pleasant way to spend the day (note typical British reserved statement of approval). We spent a good three hours at the ranch (including apple picking, lunch, a romp in the playground and poking around in the general store) and managed to squeeze in a stop at the Gilroy outlets before heading home. But the most memorable moment had nothing to do with apples:

Pea: When I grow up, I'm going to become a scientist and figure out where babies come from.

Alfie: Yes. Come on, eat your lunch.

Don't you just love family outings?

Give, baby, give!

This October, I'm joining my fellow Silicon Valley Mom bloggers in's 2008 Blogger Challenge. Click here to read all the good reasons why you should join us as well.

Here's how it works:

  • Go to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog Donors Choose page.

  • Scroll through the list of projects we are supporting. These proposals were submitted by real, live teachers in classrooms in underpriviledged areas.

  • Choose a project and type in the amount you want to donate to that project.

  • By the way, you can give as little as $1. Yup, that's right. That's 72 Euro. 57 British pence. 105 Yen. If you're feeling ashamed of that itty-bitty-amount, think of it as 9,444 Indonesian Rupiahs. I even tried it myself and they let me.

    (I know, I can see you jeering cheeeeep!!, but I wanted to see if it was really true. After all, if The Pea gives a dollar of her allowance, that's significant considering she has less than $50 to her name. And I did go back and make a more substantial donation.)

    We have nothing to offer you except our undying thanks and the satisfaction of knowing you've helped further the education of kids who truly need it. No, I won't be dancing through Rockerfeller Center dressed as a tomato as Sarah Bunting did after she and the readers of her blog, Tomato Nation, helped raise $100,000 (she's taking her tomato costume to the White House this year). For one thing, I don't have a tomato costume...... although I do have a pumpkin costume that I wore in 2003, when I was 7 months pregnant with twins. Hmmmm.....

    Sad baby? Great photo

    Why do parents love taking photos of their children when they're crying? In this one, Jammy looks like he's thinking, Help Me! Help Me! For the love of Pete, can't you see how sad I am, put that camera down and Help Me! But how can you help it? They look so doggone cute.

    Oh yes, they do look cute, even though at the time you just want to strangle them. Cute was the last thing on my mind when I snapped this. I was trying to take a photo for our Christmas card and doggedly ignoring their wails. Looking back, I'm glad I kept at it -- looking back.

    Of course, when you're a grandparent, you have everything in perspective. You know it will soon pass and you'll be wishing you could bring back those days when they were tiny, screaming babies. So you smile and enjoy them while it lasts, and the louder they cry, the harder you laugh.

    For more sadness, click here.

    Hey, I'm a featured expert!

    Check out my guest post at the SavvySource, the leading online preschool resource. It's all about one of our favorite places in the Monterey Peninsula, Gizdich Ranch. I first discovered this place about 2 years ago when the kids got the book Picking Apples and Pumpkins (which is a lovely book, by the way, one the kids still love) and began pestering me to find a place to pick apples. Voila, Gizdich Ranch. It's a pretty long drive (over 1 hr) considering it will take less than 30 minutes for my kids to pick all the apples you'll ever need. But it's totally worth it (read the article to see why). The season ends this Sunday and you can bet we'll be out there plucking the last of the season's harvest.

    Whoooo-at is this?

    Our first Halloween project -- little flaky owl biscuits. The kids loved helping with this one -- it's easy for them to pinch the horns and beak, attach the beaky nut and squirt out the cheese for the eyes.

    I got the idea from Pillsbury's Halloween Ideas cookbook (Classic Cookbooks #328) and modified it a bit -- it's now a savory snack without any cinnamon or sugar in it, and squirty cheese spread instead of chocolate for eyes. I couldn't find the recipe on their online collection, so I'm typing up my savory version of the recipe (italicized text is mine, plain text was lifted verbatim from the recipe book):

    1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
    8 almonds
    1 can Kraft Easy Cheese processed cheese food in a can

    • Heat oven to 375F. Remove dough from can; do not unroll. WIth serrated knife, cut roll into 16 slices. Make sure the dough is really chilled and firm before slicing; you might want to pop it into the freezer for the last couple of minutes. Also, I used Safeway crescent rolls -- the rolled dough is longer and thinner than the Pillsbury stuff, making it easier to cut the rolls into slices.

    • For each owl, use 2 dough slices. Unroll a 2-inch strip from each slice. Place slices on ungreased cookie sheet with sides touching and 2-inch strips at top center. For owl's horns, fold strips i nhalf and bend toward outer edges; pinch strips at fold, forming points. I just stuck two circles together and used my fingers to pinch up the horns . Then I pinched the bottom center of the owl's face to make a beak, and pressed an almond onto it. I guess that's why my owls don't look as good as the ones in the recipe book photos.

    • Bake about 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. The almonds are probably going to fall off, so when the owls are cool, reattach the almonds using the squirty cheese. Also use the squirty cheese to pipe two owly eyes.

    For my Halloween parties, I usually make cheese sandwiches and cut them into Halloween shapes with cookie cutters. These owls will make a nice change.

    Hello, Halloween!

    Hurah, it's October, my favorite time of the year! Now I can dress up in fantasy costumes, buy cheesy decor for the house, make lots of treats and buy lots of candy without having to explain why I'm not crazy or regressing to my second childhood.

    To Alfie's dismay, we put up our first Halloween decor -- some skeleton wall clings -- up two days ago. I know, I know, we couldn't even wait two days, but I was the kids were so excited. Over the next few weeks, we're going to be transforming our world into Halloweenland (starting right now, with this blog). Nothing is safe, from the guest bathroom to the garage door. If I could find Halloween-themed toilet paper to wipe our asses with, I'd buy it.

    Now how's that for something scary?