I survived the Monstrous Summer All-Nighter at the Disneyland Resort

Disney always throws the best parties, and over Memorial Day Weekend they threw the best party yet: a Monstrous Summer All-Nighter to celebrate the upcoming Monsters University movie!  What better way to celebrate Mike & Sulley's college days than with an All-Nighter, right?  Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort were open for 24 hours, from 6:00 AM on Friday May 24 till 6:00 AM on Saturday May 25.

I was at the Disneyland Resort that week to see the premiere of Mickey and the Magical Map, so I decided to join the fun and see how long I could last.  Even though my college days are long gone, I like getting into the parks early to avoid the long lines anyway, so I arrived at the park gates by 5:45 AM.  The plaza between Disneyland and DCA was already filled with bright-eyed, eager parkgoers (no doubt fueled by coffee, Red Bull and god knows what).

What's for lunch this week?

Avocado, ham & tomato sandwich, strawberries, peaches

This is the last week of classes for my kids.  I can't believe I made it through a whole schoolyear's worth of school lunches!  It certainly has been a lot easier to resist the temptation of sending my kids off with prepackaged lunches or money for school lunch, now that I have the right equipment (i.e. the perfect bento box!).  Setting myself a goal of photographing each and every lunch also helped with the motivation!  While I can't say that I made and photographed each and every school lunch that my kids ate this year, I think I came fairly close.

How to fry croutons

I must really be a glutton for punishment.  Of all the weeks to pick to try out recipes from Jennie Perillo's cookbook, Homemade With Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen, it had to be this week.        Aside from my usual schedule I had PTA parties, blog events, lunch with a visiting uncle, The Pea's band concert and my birthday -- plus I've been in Disneyland for the last 2 days, so I had to cram 5 weekdays worth of work into 3.  Yet I found myself not only cooking from scratch but blogging about it for 3 consecutive days!

How to roast tomatoes

I received a review copy of Jennifer Perillo's cookbook

Oven's are a lazy cook's best friend.  I love baked dishes because usually all you have to do is throw ingredients into a casserole, throw the casserole into the oven, and the oven does the rest.   Roasted vegetables are probably the easiest dishes to make, and getting a great-tasting roast is nearly foolproof.  I first learned how to roast potatoes when I was a graduate student, then graduated to roasted carrots, peppers and onions when I first had kids.

Jennifer Perillo's Zucchini Walnut Muffins (sort of)

I received a review copy of Jennifer Perillo's cookbook

I've always wanted to make zucchini bread, but for some reason I've never gotten around to doing it. Maybe it's because zucchini isn't a vegetable I regularly buy.  Maybe it's because I had a feeling that it would be a lot of trouble.  Whatever the case, I've never tried making it until now.  I've been leafing through Jennifer Perillo's cookbook Homemade With Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen.   Alfie has been hankering for some fruitcake or tea bread, so Jennie's recipe for Zucchini Walnut Muffins jumped out at me, and I decided to go for it.

Raw Food Dinner

Raw food diets are all the rage these days, with age-defying celebrities like Demi Moore, Alicia Silverstone, Gwyneth Paltrow and Woody Harrelson fueling the trend.  I've never really looked into raw food, mostly because the thought of limiting myself to uncooked fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts is much too daunting.

No toasting.
No roasting.
No boiling.
No broiling.
No baking.
No frying.
I'm shaking.
I'm dying.

What's for lunch this week?

Ham, cheese & Ritz crackers, blueberries, grape tomatoes

This week I'm going to be out of town for 2 days, so I can't make lunch for the kids on those days.  OR CAN I?  At first I thought of buying Oscar Mayer's Lunchables packs for them in advance and storing them in the fridge for Thursday and Friday, but then I realized, I can make my own lunchables!  It's so easy to cut ham and cheese into squares and pack them with Ritz crackers.  They'll keep in the fridge just as well as the store-bought Lunchables -- and my lunchables come with blueberries and tomatoes!

With that in mind, this week I'm featuring lunches that can be made ahead of time. I normally make each lunch fresh each morning because I don't want any sandwiches to get soggy (or worse, dry out).  But the lunches below can be stored in the fridge overnight, or even a couple of nights ahead.  Just wrap the sandwiches in cling wrap and freeze them; the rest of the ingredients can stay in the bento box container in the fridge.  When it's time to pack lunch, add the frozen sandwich to the bento box and it should thaw by lunchtime.

Business trip or pleasure junket?

bonggamom and friends on the Disneyland Cars Land Red Carpet
Bay Area mom bloggers from last year's Cars Land press event:  Techmama, SV Twin Mom, bonggamom, Xiaolinmama, The Silent I

This week I'm traveling to the Disneyland Resort for a press event: they want to make sure everyone knows about the newest section of Fantasyland, Fantasy Faire, and they're celebrating the debut of Disneyland Park's new live show, Mickey and the Magical Map.  Even though my time there will be filled with interviews and film tapings, there's going to be a press party and we do get lots of breaks to explore the parks.  And even though I'm going solo (the kids are outraged, but they've missed enough school to visit the Philippines last December), any visit to the Disneyland Resort is a great one, and I'm really looking forward to my trip.  Okay, I'm DYING to start my trip.  What with end-of-school activities, next year's PTA activities, the usual afterschool carpool runs and my regular work, life has gotten way too hectic, and this trip is starting to feel like my only chance to take a breather from everyday life and grab some time for myself.

What's for lunch this week?

 Scones with peanut butter and jelly, cherry tomatoes, honeydew melon

Holy cow, where has the time gone?  I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last posted my lunch photos!  I've been faithfully snapping away every weekday morning, but when Monday rolls around, I've either been too busy, too sick or too lazy to actually write the post.   It doesn't help that school is ending a lot earlier than usual (our school district altered the school calendar to end in May instead of mid-June because the earlier calendar will give high school seniors the chance to finish their mid-term exams before the holiday break).  It also doesn't help that I'm going to co-president of our school PTA board for next year.

Kids, kids and more kids: A visit to a goat farm

May is always a crazy-busy month, what with all the end-of-year activities like class picnics, sports days, thank-you brunches, field trips and classroom activities.  Yes, field trips and classroom activities happen throughout the year, and I could just stop volunteering and make my life easy.  But this year all the coolest ones seemed to happen at the end of the year, so busy or not, I had to make time for them!  Take the cow eye dissection -- no way I was about to miss that.  Then the very next week came Jammy's field trip to Harley Farms Goat Dairy, and I've been wanting to visit that place since forever, so of course I had to go.

Jennifer Perillo's Lentil-Ricotta "Meatballs" (sort of)

Last week I attended a launch party for food blogger Jennifer Perillo's new cookbook, Homemade With Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen.  Everything we ate at the party was one of Jennie's dishes, cooked by Jennie and another food blogger and cookbook author, Gina Von Esmarch.

One of the tastiest dishes there was Jennie's Lentil-Ricotta "Meatballs" -- obviously, the quotes are there because this is a vegetarian version of traditional Italian meatballs.  Since we're always looking for ways to cut down on our meat intake, I resolved that this would be the very first thing from Jennie's cookbook that I would try to make.

Gumdrop Bridge Challenge

One of the activities that 3Po and Jammy enjoyed most during their week at Camp Galileo was building a suspension bridge out of pipe cleaners, wood, cardboard and rocks.   It wasn't just a beautiful art project: the bridge actually had to support the weight of 100 pennies!  It was exactly the kind of challenge they relish.  Even more important, they applied and learned some important engineering principles:  forces, weight distribution, counterbalancing, etc -- have stuck with them.  Now they know the difference between a cantilever and a suspension bridge, and every time we cross the Bay Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge, they can look at the structure and understand what the trusses and cables are for.

Those lessons have definitely stuck with them: one afternoon a couple of months ago I found myself browsing through the Galileo Learning blog and came across a post describing a Gumdrop Bridge Challenge.  It was a slow afternoon, and I already had toothpicks and mini marshmallows in the cupboard, so I challenged the boys to build a 10-inch bridge with just 40 toothpicks and 20 gumdrops.

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