Christmas in the Park

Christmas in the Park
I know Christmas is over, but if you're in the Bay Area, you can still catch a bit of the holiday spirit before New Year's Eve (and give your kids something to do before they burn their eyes out playing video games or drive you crazy before school finally starts again). You can pay $$ at Global Winter Wonderland or $ driving through the Los Gatos Fantasy of Lights -- or you could take your kids to Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown San Jose and enjoy a fun afternoon out for just the cost of parking. I'm talking about Christmas in the Park, San Jose's annual holiday diorama and tree display. I took 3Po and Jammy there last week, and they really had a great time!

Global Winter Wonderland

Like many families, we love looking at holiday decorations and light displays. There are several great places around the Bay Area that are known for their light displays; our favorites are Eucalyptus Street in San Carlos and the Los Gatos Fantasy of Lights, but for one reason or another we didn't get to see either one this year. This year we got our fill of twinkling lights at an entirely new place: Global Winter Wonderland, a holiday display in Santa Clara.

Happy Holidays from The Pea's American Girls!

Merry Christmas from Natalia (The Pea's Just Like Me Doll)! She's wearing her new holiday outfit (courtesy of Santa) and toasting the season with a cute handpainted glass ornament from Lolita Designs.

Merry Christmas from the newest addition to The Pea's American Girl doll family, Marie-Grace! She's wearing the American Girl holiday outfit.

'Tis better to wrap than to receive

Let's be honest: Kids get greedy during the holidays. Despite all the heartwarming Christmas specials about being all together for the holidays, kids are all thinking about what presents they're going to get or what to ask for from Santa.

We can't really blame them -- they're just following what the grownups do. Everywhere: on tv, in magazines, at the mall, it's all about sales and shopping and presents. Even us mom bloggers, with our holiday gift guides and giveaways, are perpetuating the materialistic focus.

All I want for Christmas is....

If only this fellow were the real Santa, I'd get everything on my Christmas wish list for sure!

Alfie and I have decided not to get each other Christmas presents this year. After all, we've already got each other new kitchen cabinets, a new front door, a new computer desk and a new armoire. So this year, I'll have to rely on Santa to get me all the other stuff I want for Christmas. Given what I'm asking for, I think I might need all of Santa's magical powers to make my wishes come true!

Here's what I'm asking from Santa this year:

Seven Days of Dinner, Dec. 18-31

Woo-hoo, the holiday break has started! The kids are out of school and Alfie's office has given everyone the whole of next week off, so I've decided to give Seven Days of dinner a holiday break as well.

Happy holidays!

Our winter break activity list

Today was the kids' final day of school before winter break, and as usual it has been a mad rush all day. I had to get the kids' teacher presents ready, make food for their class potluck parties, and prepare a craft for Jammy's classmates to do during their party -- all before 10:30am. For once, 3Po's and Jammy's class parties actually did not clash, so I was able to attend both of them, which of course meant that I spent twice the amount of time at school, manning the craft tables at one party, then going off to do the same thing at his brother's party. Every parent at school today said how much they are looking forward to the winter break and the chance for some downtime.

Except I'm not sure how much downtime we'll be enjoying.

Parties and sawdust do not mix

I like to think of myself as an optimistic and determined person: When I want to do something, I tend to ignore any obstacles standing in the way. Certain people (*cough*! Alfie! *cough*) might interpret that as being stubborn, leading to situations like driving for hours in a snowstorm. It's true that my enthusiasm often gets in the way of my good judgement -- but I'm hoping my kids see it as never letting a few inconveniences and a bit of hard work get in the way of accomplishing a goal.

My latest act of blind determination perseverance? Hosting a party without a kitchen.

Spreading joy, hope... and Zhu Zhu Pets

Over the years I've had lots of fun working with MomSelect and Cepia to promote their line of Zhu Zhu Pets toys, doing product reviews, hosting giveaways and even throwing parties where my kids and their friends get to take Zhu Zhu pets home! Despite all these fun opportunities, I think the most rewarding aspect of my partnership with Zhu Zhu pets has been my participation in their holiday charity initiative, the Random Acts of Zhu program.

Seven Days of Dinner, Dec. 11-17

I'm atoning for last week's meat extravaganza with a week composed of entirely vegetarian dishes. Not that it's going to be a huge hardship; meat is no longer an indispensible ingredient in our household, and I have a sizeable collection of meatless dishes that the whole family loves. In fact, Alfie insists that he would switch to a 100% vegetarian lifestyle tomorrow; all I have to do is say the word. Of course, he says that knowing full well that I love my In-N-Out burgers and fish and chips and pulled pork sandwiches too much to pull the plug on meat. Personally, given his own passion for fish and chips, I think he's just a teensy bit relieved.

Here's this week's meatless menu:
* Veggie burgers
* Tofu and boy choy stir-fried with Thai basil, over rice
* Spinach and cheese omelet
* Spaghetti with marinara sauce
* Lentil and spinach soup
* Eggs and beans on toast
* Fetuccine with cream sauce and peas

Bon appetit!

Apple Crumble

Apple crumble is one of our favorite comfort foods. Actually, it doesn't really have to be apple crumble; any fruit underneath a crumb topping will do. I've been using the crumb topping recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook -- you know, the one with the red plaid cover, the one that's been around since the 40's -- for years, but I think I've found a better one.

Seven Days of Dinner, Dec. 4-10

I've decided to give week's menu has a Hispanic theme. Maybe it's the weather, but I find myself craving hearty dishes with lots of onions and garlic. Filipino cuisine is heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine, and foods with Spanish names like adobo, menudo and empanada are very common. This week I'm breaking my 3 meat dishes per week rule, but these dishes are so yummy, I don't care.