Kona the Awesome

I’ve mentioned before my very talented friend Lisa – she’s a great photographer and I’ve known her for over a decade, since we were both frantic brides planning our 2003 weddings.

Lately, Lisa’s been taking some photos that just make me smile. And since this week is a tough one for me (Wednesday will be three years since my dear dad died), I am taking all the smiles I can possibly get, and with Lisa’s gracious consent, I am sharing some of sweet puppy Kona’s photos.

Isn’t she talented?

This one with the inspiration for the “Kona on Things” photo series:

Lisa dedicated this one to me – for my “morning smile” – yay!

And finally, KOT (Kona on Things) the KOFE division (Kona on Farm Equipment) 😀

Aren’t these great? How could you NOT smile looking at this adorable puppy???

Thanks, Lisa, for letting me share these, and for these wonderful KOT pictures!

Bollywood Bash!

As I mentioned on Friday, Steve and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary this past weekend. We’d been wanting to throw a Bollywood-themed party for years and we figured this was our chance.

My husband applied henna to my hands and a couple of friends and their daughters’ hands. No stencil, all freehand. He also made an arch so people could walk through it. If at this point you are getting the impression that he’s the crafty one and I just take pictures, I wouldn’t argue with you.

Our friends’ and their daughters’ hands:

My hands:

See that on the left (my right) hand? Yep, he put in a fleur de lis for me 😀

Awwwww – ring shot.

Entrance to the “Taj Mahal”

In order to hang lovely swaths of color (i.e. dollar store tablecloths) Steve and our awesome neighbors pinned them around the fan . . .

… and then spread them out to hang away from the center.

The vanilla chai cupcakes were made by my awesome friend J. – the cupcake toppers are from Bird’s Party, so cute!

In my test batch I used a box of French Vanilla cake mix and substituted a cup of strong chai tea (3 bags steeped for 20 minutes) instead of the cup of water in the instructions. The Buttercream is from the Wilton website and has 2 T of strong chai tea. My friend offered to bake them for me and they were a hit, my uncle had six of them, I think!

I found Ellie, our party mascot, during a visit to Goodwill. She was there, right in the end cap and I thought she was perfect, so she came home with me:

Ellie and the perfect-for-our-theme doormat we got at Pier 1:

This being our tenth, we decided to splurge a bit and have a local restaurant provide the food. Everything was delicious, we had Tandoori chicken, Butter chicken, Basmati rice and Naan bread, Salad, Okra masala, and Vegetarian korma. Even though everyone who RSVPd showed up – about 40 friends and relatives – we have lots of leftovers, so we get to enjoy our yummy party food for a couple of days.

My brother, awesome bartender that he is, whipped up some delightful mango concoctions – both family-friendly and with alcohol.

They were frosty and delicious in the warm afternoon. We also enjoyed some gulab jamun for dessert.

My husband got his kurta at a local boutique, we were so happy with the customer service – the salespeople are nice, helpful, will work with your budget, etc. We sent a few friends there to get their costume and they were very happy as well. We never require people to dress up but it was nice to see so many of our dear guests embracing the theme.

I purchased some red glittery fabric – and let me tell you, I still have glitter all over my skin – and the lady from the boutique showed me how to pleat and wear it. My headdress is the necklace I made for my wedding, I was very happy to wear it again ten years later. I wore a teal shirt to coordinate with my husband’s kurta, and teal flats, tons of bracelets (from H&M), and turquoise earrings I already had.

We are so thankful to all the friends and family who joined us, everyone who helped out, and those who couldn’t make it but were there in spirit. I kept thinking my dear daddy would have had a blast at our party, he loved my husband and I know he was happy to know we are happy together.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week, I am off to scrub still more glitter off me!

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No, not just the chai cupcakes – which, seriously, are yum on a major scale.

Not just the buttercream, made by my sweet friend J.

But planning something with a good friend or two who have your back. Planning something with people who get as excited as me about the color of the paper plates. Because they’re happy for me.

I haven’t always had that, and I’m so grateful.

Let’s get it started

Yesterday we held our second Annual New Year’s Day Brunch — what started as a small gathering with a couple of friends wanting to start the new year right (good friends, good food, good conversation) has now evolved into a gathering of roughly 15 people. We provide all the waffles people can eat, and coffee, and then people bring whatever else they want to have. Believe me, it is a feast of talents, each friend or relative bringing something wonderful for everyone to enjoy.

Even the little ones get into the action, my boys nommed on waffles and the homemade banana muffins brought by our fearless friend K. I am, as I type this, enjoying some of the leftover potato hash our dear friends J & M brought.

Auntie L brought her famous gorilla bread, so good! And our friend J made more of the only breakfast sausage Steve and I like. J makes it himself, blending spices and all sorts of goodness, and it vanishes pretty quickly. Steve’s parents contributed eggs and bacon, and my sweet friend J brought a ton of OJ because you know how it is, when you have OJ in your fridge it goes bad, but when someone brings it you can’t wait for it and then down it like liquid gold.

We had a grand time, which is the point of the gathering, to start the new year with laughter and good food, and surrounded by great people. Here’s to more New Year’s Day brunches!!

Cookie monsters

Last Friday my dear friend J and her kids came over for an evening of sugar-filled cookie decorating. My husband, my boys and I had such a great time that we decided this should be a monthly event ;D

J brought her delicious sugar cookie dough and royal icing – nom nom nom!

and we turned it into these:

by “we” I mean she, while I took pictures.

I had a gingerbread cookie kit so I made those:

Tough to believe from this picture, but my youngest has a “more is more” approach to decorating:

He was still being somewhat restrained here:

But then all limitations went out the window 😀

See what I mean?

Yes, there IS a cookie under there . . . somewhere!

I did love his heart-filled Christmas tree:

My husband and oldest boy went the more “precise” route ;D

There was also impressive modern artwork from one of our small friends:

And much merriment as tray after tray of yummy cookies came out of the oven. It was a wonderful, fun-filled, sugar-laden evening, and so much fun watching my boys having such a good time. Thanks for coming over, J and the E-team!!!

Art & Wine Festival

We spent this past Saturday morning at the Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival.  We walked from our friends’ home to the park where the festival was taking place and spent a few hours browsing through all the crafty booths, doing a lot of people watching, and finally, enjoying some yummy food.

My husband and our friends M&J stop at the beer and wine booths:

There were lots of lovely creations and M treated herself to some beautiful earrings

The pretty duckies were enjoying the warm morning

We got to the festival early so we could avoid the later heat and crowds.

The food smelled great – my husband and I chose cheesesteak sandwiches and J&M had some portuguese meat sandwiches:

We ended our meal with some funnel cakes – we split one of the plain ones:

and then headed home – my awesome mother-in-law was watching the boys so we could have some fun grown-up time.

The rest of our weekend was pretty mellow, I made a little fall accent and switched some summer decorations for fall ones. I am pretty much over this hot weather. I know, I know, 80 is not that bad, but when it’s almost 9pm and I’m still sweating, it’s too hot for me.

Fall is almost here and I am soooo ready to welcome it! Have a great Monday!

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!

Our common ground

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” — James Beard

My dear friend M decided to start a monthly tradition — a dinner party at her house, just for her girlfriends, where some new or interesting food would be prepared. The first time she made Thomas Keller’s fried chicken, from his Ad Hoc cookbook. My goodness, it was divine.

I volunteered to cook Peruvian food for the next dinner, M & I came up with a plan, a menu, and we split the cooking duties.

M knocked it out of the park with her cebiche (that’s how we spell it, btw):

It is raw fish marinated in lime juice for a few hours, served with sliced onion, sweet potatoes, corn and lettuce. So good! In Peru we also drink the milky marinade that is left, called “leche de tigre” or “tiger’s milk.”

I made some chicha morada (I am so sorry if you are Puerto Rican, my cousin who lives there told me what that means over there!) which is a refreshing drink made from purple corn:

We also had fried plantains, but I got no pics of those. Probably because each batch I made was gone by the time I was done setting the next batch in the skillet 😀

Nothing Peruvian about this, but how cool is this aerator?

A fellow Peruvian was one of the guests and she brought some dessert (more on that later) and ingredients to make the national drink of Peru, Pisco Sour:

She brought her own recipe but there are many similar ones out there, such as this one from Epicurious.

My compatriot also brought a Peruvian flag:

At this point a couple of people looked at my skirt and went, “aaaah.”

The ladies (except the momma-to-be, of course) get ready to toast with their Pisco Sours:


The main dish was Lomo Saltado, a quick stir-fry type dish that is, to me, the definition of a comfort meal. I made both beef and chicken versions:

The ladies helping themselves:

I was glad to see dishes coming back pretty empty ;D (the big pieces are leftover corn cobs):

But the best part, according to me, was dessert.

I made lucuma ice cream, and had to make two batches because if I had made just one it wouldn’t have reached M’s house intact. Lucuma is a fruit native to Peru, and the ice cream made with this fruit is the most popular flavor in Peruvian heladerias. I have heard the flavor described in many different ways, but the one I agree the most with is somewhere between a sweet potato and vanilla. In fact the texture of the ice cream is very much like a vanilla bean ice cream.

But we did not stop at one dessert – see those round cookies next to the ice cream? Thanks to our Peruvian guest, we also had alfajores, yum yum.

Alfajores, as I mentioned the last time I had them, are a dessert of Arabic origin, brought over from Spain. It is a sandwich type cookie made with shortbread dusted with powdered sugar and dulce de leche in the middle. As with many foods, the sandwich cookie is something enjoyed in various forms throughout the world, but the alfajor is definitely a favorite of mine. If you ever have the chance to try one, please do!!!

I hope you have enjoyed this little culinary experience – Peru’s cuisine is so varied that just talking about the dishes of northern coastal Peru, where my family is from, would take many, many posts, but I hope to have shared a little bit of my enthusiasm for the food of my homeland.

Weekend Bloggy Reading


I don’t get salon manicures. I think the last one I got was for my wedding, or maybe soon after. With all the crafting, Lego blocks I have to separate, and the gardening, it’s really not worth it. Usually, I will just paint my own so when it’s chipped a day later, I don’t really mind.

On Saturday, our friend J came over to watch UFC fights with my husband. His darling wife, my friend M, came over later and suggested we escape the testosterone by getting our nails done nearby. I figured it had been long enough and that way I could chat with my friend.

Since I’ve been hearing all about the Shellac from various friends and online, I decided to give it a try. It’s still too early to decide if it was worth it but I sure love the color I got, Hotski to Tchotchke.

It is so sparkly and pretty! The perfect color for this turquoise addict ;D and lovely for summer.

M got a gorgeous deep pink on her toes.

She also brought us some cake pops and since they are my other-favorite color, yellowy green, I had to take some pics.


See how it sparkles?

Speakeasy Style

Over the weekend, our friend D, who’s the bee’s knees, held a helluva birthday party at a speakeasy up in the city. We got our wiggle on, put on our glad rags and drove up to the juice joint to join the other fellas and dolls who’d be celebrating. D and her husband C definitely put on the Ritz for this party, and we had a swell time!

My husband rented his outfit from a local costume shop, which happens to be a block away from the first place we ever lived in. I, however, relied on the kindness of friends, cheap stores, and some craftiness to put my ensemble together.

My headpiece was made of 3 purple feathers glued to the back of a gold satin rosette that I made. I added some pearls and rhinestones to the rosette and glued felt to the back to secure the feather stems, then sewed the felt to a small comb. I made a thin braid on the left side of my head to anchor the comb, slipped the comb in, and secured it with some bobby pins. It didn’t not move all night, through hugging, windy San Francisco streets, and lots of dancing.

The earrings were made from clear crystals years ago and the necklaces I got from Forever 21.

Our dear friend J lent me a gorgeous ruffly black dress, it was perfect, comfortable, and fun to dance in. I wore sheer dark stockings and black pumps.

The stole was made from costume leftovers and all I did was cut the rectangular piece in half lengthwise, then join small sides together to make it a longer, thinner piece. I used a huge (length of my index finger) needle and since it was faux-fur, didn’t bother to hem it or anything.

We had an absolute blast — the party was great, the band played fab music all night, and there was delicious food AND a candy buffet table. The three chocolate martinis I had weren’t bad, either ;D  I have to admit I got giddy when a lady wearing a real fur stole and a long strand of real pearls came up to me to ask me for my card because she thought my costume was the bomb.  Or I should say, the cat’s pajamas.  What can I say, we like to have fun on the cheap ;D

We were so happy to celebrate D’s birthday — we wish you nothing but the very best, doll!!!