Seven Days of Dinner, Jan. 30 - Feb. 5

Last weekend was a hectic one. We hosted two birthday parties -- one for Jammy on Saturday, and one for 3Po on Sunday. I kind of went a little bit nuts over the preparation (it's the first time we've ever done separate parties for them, so I wanted it to be a big deal), so little details like figuring out what we're going to have for dinner kind of fell by the wayside all of last week and this week.

Birthday cake pops

Cake pops are all the rage now, so I thought it would be fun to serve some themed cake pops for 3Po's and Jammy's birthday parties -- mushroom-shaped cake pops for 3Po's Mario Kart Wii party, and Lego minifigure head cake pops for Jammy's Lego Ninjago party.

A quick internet search led me to the Queen of Cake Pops, Bakerella, and her amazing gallery of cake pops for every theme imaginable. Her instructions for basic cake pops seemed simple enough, so instead of ordering them from a bakery, I decided to try making them myself.

The Big Reading Experiment

Despite our differences in looks, The Pea and I are alike in many ways. We both have big feet. We both have messy hair. We both love to eat. I could go on and on, but this post focuses on one of our biggest similarities: we both love to read. We simply cannot put a book down once we've started, so it's not uncommon to see our noses buried in a book for hours on end, even in the shower, even while walking on the sidewalk.

Not only do we both love to read, in many cases we love reading the same books. Even at this ripe old age, I still enjoy reading children's literature, so The Pea and I do lots of book swapping. I introduced her to Harry Potter, she introduced me to Percy Jackson, and we both discovered The Secret series together. So I like to think I have a pulse of the kinds of books she likes. And that means -- lucky for her!! -- I have tons and tons of suggestions for books I know she'd love to read.

How to make a giant LEGO brick

Just 1 more week till Jammy's LEGO Ninjago party, and we are hard at work preparing for it. We've got the menu planned -- sushi, potstickers and candy sushi (plus ice cream and cake, of course!). We've got the party favors down. Tableware -- check. Now we're working on games and decor, starting with some giant LEGO bricks that will look super cool as decorations and as a pull-string pinata.

Where's the snow?

When the winter months arrive, many Bay Area families look forward to a trip or two to the Lake Tahoe area for some skiing, snowboarding, sledding and other forms of snowy fun. This year, though, Tahoe has been experiencing a record dry spell, with authorities actually issuing wildfire warnings in January. It hasn’t really snowed since Thanksgiving, and although snow finally did arrive early this week, for the most part, the storm bypassed the top of the Sierra with only 1 inch of snow reported at the Mount Rose Ski Resort near Reno, Squaw Valley USA near Tahoe City, Calif., and Boreal near Truckee, Calif. All the big ski resorts have been forced to make their own snow, and some of the smaller resorts have not even opened yet.

Read more "Where's the snow?" on Silicon Valley Mamas....

Candy Sushi

My kids love sushi, so serving sushi for Jammy's Lego Ninjago party was a no-brainer. This being Silicon Valley, most of my kids' friends love sushi as well, so we don't have to deal with any Gross! or Eww! comments. Just to be on the safe side, there will also be a plate of potstickers, and for an extra-special treat, I'll be making candy sushi. Actually, they are so easy and fun to make that I'll probably let the kids make their own!

Separate kids, separate parties

3Po and Jammy are 8 now, and this year marks a very special first: they'll be holding separate birthday parties, with different themes, different activities, different food and different guests. Having one party per child is practically given when you've got singletons, but when you're a twin, you have to share a birthday, and sharing a party is so much easier. When boy-girl twins get older, it's natural for them to have different interests and friends of their own gender, so splitting up parties is a much easier and more natural progression. 3Po and Jammy, though, are identical twins who happen to have identical interests and almost identical friends, so having separate parties is a Big Deal.

Things I have learned about painting a kitchen

My parents are very ascetic people when it comes to their surroundings. As long as a house is clean and comfortable, they don't really care what it looks like. This is quite an admirable trait in the sense that they don't need a big home or lavish furnishings to live happily, but it also means that their home has aged right alongside them. It also means that I don't know the first thing about Do-It-Yourself home remodeling. My idea of hanging a picture is taking any old nail and banging it into a wall.

Admittedly, I'm not the first person you'd call to paint a kitchen.

Big Spender

Jammy: Mama, why won't you let us spend our money to buy the toys we want?

Me: Because the toys you want are pretty expensive! You just bought yourselves some Webkinz stuffies last month, and now you want to buy a Star Wars Lego set?

Jammy: But I can afford it, it only costs $10.

Me: I know, but then you won't have much money left. Why don't you wait and save up? Getting an allowance doesn't mean you have to spend all of it. You can spend some of your money, but you should also save some of it and set aside a bit for charity, you know, to give to the poor.

Jammy: But mama, you only give me a dollar per month! I AM the poor!

The end is nigh... I think

It has been about 7 years since we added a second story to our home. Although we've continued to improve our front and back yards, the only things we've done indoors have been minor projects like replacing grout and installing an attic fan. Our home still looks great, but 7 years of living and eating and playing and partying and containing 3 active (and messy) kids has taken its toll. What was once a newsworthy remodel that people actually paid to see has been getting a bit shabby around the edges. So we decided it was high time to freshen up our home, and we decided to start with the kitchen.

That was almost 3 months ago.

Seven Days of Dinner, Jan. 8-14


Alfie and I love Indian food, but I can't say that the kids share our passion for aloo gobi, chicken vindaloo, rogan josh and other mouth-watering yummies. 3Po and Jammy do like a curry now and then, but despite numerous attemps, we've only managed limited success with The Pea. She'll eat a bit of most (mild) curries that I prepare, but without much enthusiasm.

New Year, Old Resolutions

Like most people, every year I make a list of New Year's Resolutions. In fact, I even blogged my New Year's Resolutions for 2011, 2010, and 2009. This year, I've decided not to continue the tradition, for two reasons:

Seven Days of Dinner, Jan. 1-7

New year, new menus!

Here's what's on for dinner this week:
* Enchilada bake
* Baked salmon with pesto, beans and roasted potatoes
* Cold sesame noodles
* Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese
* Spinach salad with goat cheese, cranberries and walnuts
* Nan bread pizza with caramelized onions and peppers, goat cheese and olives
* Veggie "meat"balls with rigatoni and tomato sauce