Wordless Wednesday: Cake

Minion cake

Today, November 26, is National Cake Day!  To celebrate, I've posted a photo of the adorable Minion cake that The Pea baked and decorated when she was 12, as well as a link to a recipe for one of my favorite kinds of cake, chocolate mousse cake. Enjoy!

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5 Tips for Car Shoppers

Kia Soul

We're proud to announce our latest addition to the family!  Before you order that cute onesie, know that my uterus is closed for business; our new baby is a Kia Soul wagon. Alfie's BMW sedan is nearing its 20-year mark, and we wanted a car to drive around town that didn't use up as much gas as our van.  We decided on the Soul after test driving one for a week (take note, PR companies -- these programs work!!).  We felt that the Soul had all the high end features we wanted, at a great price.  When we saw the tv ads about great Black Friday financing on the Kia Soul, we decided to bite the bullet.  The whole process took 3 days: we saw the ad on Friday, visited one dealer on Saturday, visited another dealer on Sunday, and picked up the car on Monday.  The dealer visits were mainly to check out interior and exterior colors; we did all of the price shopping online and all of the negotiating via text.

It has been 10 years since we bought our last vehicle (the van), and although technology has changed a lot since then, the art of purchasing a car hasn't.  For those of you who haven't been in the car-buying market in a while, there were a few things had to re-learn. I'm glad we did them, because we ended up saving a bundle of money.  Here are my five gems of advice for anyone looking to purchase a car:

Something new and something blue at the American Girl Store

It has been a while since I've dropped by the American Girl Store at the Stanford Shopping Center, and since the holidays are coming up, I thought I'd pay them a visit so I can get a good look at their current offerings and see which items are going to make it into my American Girl Holiday Gift Guide.  As usual, I'd love to get pretty much everything, but there were quite a few new items that caught my eye (note, the full holiday collection is not yet in stores, so I'm going to hold back on my AG gift guide for a couple of weeks!).  Here are my favorite new items at the American Girl Store so far:

Veggie Fresh: Mountain View's undiscovered secret for great vegan food

Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what outside, but what is inside that counts.

The character in the Disney movie Aladdin was talking about Aladdin's magic lamp (and Aladdin himself), but this quote applies equally to restaurants.  Don't dismiss a restaurant just because it looks like a dive!  Almost everyone I know will agree that some of the best food they've eaten can be had places where they spend money on the food, not the decor. 

Our current favorite Chinese restaurant, Veggie Garden, is the perfect example. If you were to drive by this restaurant, you wouldn't give it a second look.  It's right in the middle of a strip mall, sandwiched between a beauty salon and an acupuncturist.  I'm not sure what made me stop that day -- maybe it was the amazing smell -- but I'm so glad I did.  Judging from its outside appearance, Veggie Fresh is just another greasy spoon join, but once you step in, you'll find yourself in an ultra-clean, neat, and bright place to eat.  

Candy, anyone?

We are up to our ears in Halloween candy.  Literally.  Last week our school had a Halloween Candy for Troops donation drive, and guess who coordinated it?  Yup, yours truly.  It seems that not only did everyone's little ghouls and goblins collect far more candy than they were allowed to eat, people also bought far more candy than they could give away.  We received giant bags of candy that hadn't even been opened!  If I had a phone booth, I could fill it from bottom to top with candy.

Nacho Fries Casserole

Nacho Fries Casserole

I wear a multitude of hats in my life these days, so it's always a big win for me when I'm able to multi-task.   Last night's Nacho Fries was a great example.  With that one simple dish, I managed to kill four birds with one stone (okay, that sounded really brutal, but you know what I mean).  First and second, I was able to create content for two different campaigns -- CravOn Fries (one of the ingredients) and Corningware (the casserole I served it in).  Third, I was able to write this blog post.   And fourth, my family was able to enjoy a delicious dinner.