Road Trip, part 2

After a couple of awesome days with friends and family, we had a quiet morning and then headed out to the Space Needle. Somehow, all four of us were wearing black shirts ;D

At the gift shop, we picked up some fudge and a Seattle tree ornament — I love to buy ornaments wherever we go as a family — and went up on the Needle. The day was clear and the views of the city were just gorgeous:

We met up with some family members for a farewell dinner at Saffron Grill, where we enjoyed a delicious Indian meal. Alexander discovered that he loves Naan bread and ended up eating an entire platter’s worth. I had heard a lot about a local ice cream shop, Molly Moon’s, so we all went to a nearby location to enjoy some dessert:

Simply the best ice cream I’ve had in my life. I tried the salted caramel and vanilla, but ended up ordering the melted chocolate. My husband raved about the vanilla with hot fudge sauce, and everyone was thrilled with their tasty treats. I also bought a vanilla bean caramel lip balm that I swear I am tempted to eat. We had planned to start our trip down towards California on this evening, but our cousins kindly invited us to spend the night at their home. We woke up refreshed and ready to spend the next couple of days driving.

The next morning we started with some Krispy Kremes for breakfast. I honestly think it’s been years since we had donuts — Alex had never tried them — but we decided to have a vacation splurge and got a dozen for the day.

The Oregon coast is stunning, we cut over to start our drive down from Astoria (where The Goonies was filmed!) and began looking for lighthouses, since Alex had read a book on them and really wanted to see one.

When we found one, the boys ran giddily towards it:

We couldn’t get inside but the boys were super happy just to see it up close. Steve took a picture of a nearby rock with a few hundred creatures on it 😀

The last adventure of our trip was Wildlife Safari, a drive-through animal experience that a dear friend had recommended. It was SO worth it!

The boys loved seeing the animals up close. The bears were so funny, they were playing around and getting in and out of the water and generally having a great time.

With some changes coming up in our lives, this trip was a sweet way to close out the summer. Alex said “I love Seattle, but I am very excited to go home, mama.” We are so grateful to our friends and family for hanging out with us, feeding us, and showing us around Seattle. We will definitely be going back.

Road Trip: Pacific Northwest

On Sunday, the day after Alex’s birthday party, we left for a week-long road trip through Oregon and Washington State. We have family and friends in the Seattle area and it seemed like a nice way to (almost) end the summer with school starting on Monday.

On Tuesday, we did some sightseeing with relatives around central Seattle:

We also rode the Ducks, it was such a blast!

Our dear relatives prepared a delicious dinner of salmon, chicken mac casserole (supposedly for the kids, but we ate a lot of it, it was so good!), homemade biscuits, green beans, beautiful flowering tea, and for dessert, ice cream with blueberries. Needless to say, we all slept very, very well.

The next day it was time to hang out with our friends – they have three sweet kids and their boy and Aidan were friends right away. We took the ferry over to their house after spending the morning in the pool and at Pike Place Market – does this remind you of certain cell phone commercials?

We did not tell them to line up like that, seriously!

The views from the ferry were spectacular:

Then a viking welcomed us to town 😀

And our friend made the best. ever. vanilla. cake. Like, I will always make this cake whenever my boys ask for vanilla cake, it was that amazing.

We hung out for a while and then took the ferry back.

Thank you, Warcraft gang, for a memorable evening. We shall meet again!

More on our adventures next time!!!

Arroz con Leche

I foresee so many double-workouts as soon as my mom leaves.

We had some family over on Wednesday night and mom had made her super easy, super yummy, rice pudding. The good news is that everyone loved it. The bad news is that she taught me how to make it.

I am so screwed.

To make it, all you need is:

1 1/2 cups rice
2 cups water
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 can condensed milk

That’s it! Start cooking the rice in the two cups of water. When most of the water has been absorbed, add the evaporated milk and vanilla extract. Once the rice is fully cooked, add the condensed milk and stir until combined.

At that point, divvy it up in some ramekins or whatever small bowls you have. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top and add raisins. Now, I’m a purist and don’t like raisins so I eat it warm off the stove, but you could add something like pecans or walnuts, or even candied orange peel.

This makes about 6 – 8 servings.


Warm and cozy gifts

My mama loves to crochet. She makes hats and scarves for everyone she meets. Seriously. She’s met people and an hour later she’s giving them a scarf, or hat, or both. I am enjoying a lot of new accessories lately 😀

But I’m not the only one sporting new head gear:

Alex loved his new little hat and insisted on wearing it while watching Minecraft videos. Anyone else’s cache taken over by youtube Minecraft videos?

I’m already sad that mom leaves in one week, but for now I’m enjoying her company!!

Camping in Yosemite

We spent a fabulous four-day weekend camping in Yosemite — it was the boys’ second time camping and they had as much fun as the first time, which is to say, A LOT!

Our day started early on Thursday, I think our oldest could have used a couple more hours’ worth of sleep 😀

Our youngest got right into the spirit of the thing and started carrying manly amounts of fire wood:

He also loved helping daddy set up our tent:

Dinner that first evening was basic camping goodness:

With one twist:

Dear auntie L. had a birthday so we got her favorite cake – German chocolate!!!

Friday was Dirt Day. Or Filthy Friday. Or Messy Monkey Day. Or something.

I swear I wiped them down about 56 times that day, but five seconds later they were filthy again.

It was a losing battle.

But the food was awesome.

Breakfast rocked — hot and fluffy pancakes, yummy fresh fruit, and bacon, lovely bacon.

Dinner was delicious flank steak, asparagus, salad, and baked potato (I didn’t have one).

The squirrels were in love with our food:

Even diving into the trash can to retrieve bits of it!

Our friend K made the most stunning, the most amazing (yes, I love MasterChef!) the most refreshing gazpacho. Seriously, it took all my willpower not to grab her plastic container and run with it into the woods:

But the tracker jacke–, I mean, the wasps, were kinda scary.

Lovely port.

Don’t remember much after this shot ;D

More camping adventures later this week!

Is your bar ready for summer?

So, first of all, we are wine drinkers. No beer for us, occasionally a mixed drink, hardly ever Champagne. We served a Moscato at our wedding so people could toast and enjoy their cake with it.

Our little bar was a wedding gift from dear Peruvian friends and it fits perfectly in the corner of our dining room. Recently I decided to go through it and restock it with some essentials for summery drinks.

Rose’s Grenadine Syrup for a Tequila Sunrise, lovely Myers’s Rum for mojitos and mai tais, although we get the Trader Vic’s mix which you can spot behind the red hibiscus. We served mai tais at my younger son’s Tiki party a couple of years ago and it’s everyone’s favorite party to day. I am sure it was because of the coconut shrimp, not the booze, ahem.

Behind the rum is a bottle of tequila, which I usually avoid except in mixed drinks where I cannot taste it. It does not like me and the feeling is mutual. Behind the tequila is a bottle of Castañeda sangria from World Market. I initially got the sangria because it happens to be my mom’s maiden name, so I brought it over and she and my dad loved it, then the rest of my Castañeda family here in the area liked it as well, so now it’s a staple in our house.

The leeeeetle bottle in front is Peruvian pisco. I have bigger bottles but our little bar top couldn’t handle it 😀 You can make a Pisco Sour, or a locally (SF) invented drink, the Pisco Punch. My brother happens to be a bartender at the Hyatt on Union Square and gave me a pisco recipe I will share with you next month. July is Peruvian Independence month and I will be sharing some recipes and tidbits about my homeland. If you’re REEEEEALLY curious, here are the pics that went along with the article on my brother.

On the right is a sweet mini chest of drawers given to me by another dear friend, on top are my favorite yellow napkins, wine bottle opener, and foil top cutter, along with some cocktail stirrers below.

We have tons of red and yellow hibiscus in our front yard, they are so festive!! The glasses are fleur-de-lis double old-fashioneds from World Market. I LOVE how they look, I HATE how fragile they are. I bought 6 and have three left, and while I can be pretty clumsy, the many reviews on the WM site will tell you that it’s not me, it’s the glasses. So once these three are gone I’m getting sturdier glasses.

There you have it, my summer bar — I look forward to good times with good friends, some mai tais, some Pisco drinks, and awesome food and company.

What are your favorite summer drinks?

Weekend Bloggy Reading

She loves me . . . She loves me not!

She Loves Me

1. My sweet new nephew – it will be months before I ever get to meet him, since he lives in another continent, but I can’t wait to squish the little guy and cover his sweet face with kisses!

2. New scented candles – just received this one as a gift and it’s so yummy! There’s also a little hint as to what we’ve been working on.

3. That my boys are almost done with school – I can’t wait for summer and all the fun we are going to have together! Have you seen this great summer photo checklist from Simple as That? Full of great ideas to capture those fab summer moments!

She Loves Me NOT

1. I will admit I am dreading the summer heat. I don’t do well in heat or direct sun. A big floppy hat (like this one from Target) is always my best friend in these months.

Joining Michaela Noelle’s linky party!!!

My mother’s day

Our Sunday was a relatively quiet one, the boys ran around and did their own thing while we (me and my in-laws) enjoyed on the wonderful lunch my husband put together.

But first, it was present time!

I got a sweet, handmade “vase with flowers” from each of my boys – one was on a paper plate and the other was made out of a pasta sauce jar. I’d asked my husband for light summery jammies and he bought me a bunch – thanks, honey!

The food was delicious – the corn on the cob didn’t even need butter!

My burger:

My husband’s burger:

His momma’s burger – she was very adventurous!

Enjoying lunch under our little gazebo

And then — oh my goodness, came the dessert tray:

Strawberries, mango and kiwi dipped in chocolate, and fresh-from-the-over brownies. So good!!!
I had asked for something chocolatey for dessert and boy, I got it!

It was a wonderful day, full of love, and I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day, too – or a great Sunday, if you did not celebrate.

A new mommy to congratulate!

My new nephew was born at around noon (CA time) yesterday. It was evening time in Sweden, where my sister-in-law, K, and her Swedish husband live, and I am glad everything went well. No name or other deets yet, but I am so incredibly happy — a little bummed that it will be months before we meet our Swede new relative (see what I did there wi . . . never mind.) but so, so happy at the thought of sweet newborn toes, the soft downy cover of hair on his little head, the soft cheeks.

I decided to be up most of the night so I can sympathize with the new mother — not really, I’ve been up with my youngest since 1:45am. Yeah. My oldest told K to not name the baby until they visit us 😀

Anyway, wishing a super Happy Mother’s Day (a couple of days early) to the newest Mommy I know! And to all the other mommies I know, and my mom readers. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Our trip to Disneyland, part 2

Our trip to Disneyland continues with some collages I made of the boys:

My boys LOVE Tarzan’s Treehouse – I went up that thing once and decided that was the last of it for me. My back started to kill me and it took two rides of the Indiana Jones Adventure to fix it. That thing is better than a chiropractor, I swear. I went on it once when my back was pretty locked up, and when it was done I swear half the pain was gone, so of course I went on it again. It worked like a charm. Worth the price of admission right there ;D

Ssshhh – don’t tell them it used to be the Swiss Family Robinson tree house.

If you liked Cars, you will love the new Cars Land opening in June, they’ve recreated Radiator Springs and have several attractions and shops almost ready to go – a friend of my husband’s is an Imagineer working on this project and s/he showed us the preview room (open to everyone) which includes some of his/her work. Don’t want to get anyone in trouble so that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Alex decided he was getting overwhelmed by it all so he and I went back to the hotel room after lunch and we just hung out, played on my laptop, and I caught up on a new cookbook I got.

More about our trip in the next post!