Chester road trip

Recently, my mom had eye surgery and I decided to visit her. She lives in Chester, about 5 hours from me, not too bad of a drive. I told her I’d get there on Friday and leave Sunday morning. What I did not tell her was that I was bringing the boys with me ;D My sister and her husband live in the same apartment building, and they were all super surprised to see the three of us arrive.

Chester is a very small town that supports the local tourism (to Lassen volcano) and although I did bring some technology for the boys, I wanted them to also enjoy the outdoors and hang out with the family.

Of course, the highlight of the trip was that my sister baked a cake. They were not able to make it to Aidan’s birthday, and will probably not make it to Alexander’s birthday in July, so they chose to celebrate both boys while we were all together – isn’t that sweet?

My boys are vanilla/vanilla fanatics – vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, so the cake was decorated half for them and half for the ones of us who like chocolate frosting:

Then it was Happy Birthday singing time!

The size of the slices was the subject of a lot of negotiation.

My youngest also had a lot of fun drawing and coloring, something he’s really into right now, bringing stories to life. It was a lovely, albeit brief visit, and we were blessed with outstanding weather both in Chester and back home.

We do have another, longer, road trip planned in a few months, but we have a lot of good memories to last us until the next time we visit Chester!

Colorful cupcake stands

This year I am missing my mama. She is in Peru, spending time with friends and family until next month so a mother’s day phone call will have to do. Still, I decided to do a little crafty goodness with some pieces I’d had for a while and set up a colorful table.

The pretty purple flowers grow in our front yard so they came in handy. The three little stands were made from plain wood circles and candle holders from Michaels.

Isn’t my mama stylish in her red wedges, summery white pants and peasant top?

I don’t remember this picture at all, she found it last year and gave it to me in the little frame.

I painted the candle holders in different colors, gold, mocha and pale pink (actually Valspar’s Apricot Ice, which my youngest chose), and cut out circles from 3 coordinating scrapbooking papers for the tops:

I hadn’t planned on the papers to coordinate with the flowers but that’s how it worked out!

So, happy mother’s day, mama, I can’t wait to see you in a few weeks!

Pesto / Pistou / Green Stuff!

Today I am sharing with you my mom’s easy-peasy, yummy-in-your-tummy, pesto recipe.

Just like her rice pudding recipe, which I shared a couple of weeks ago, her pesto recipe is super easy to make.


1/2 cup water
2 bunches spinach, stems removed
1 bunch basil, stems removed
1 cup olive oil
1 round queso fresco, in a medium dice
salt to taste

How to:

The main issue I used to find was that the spinach and basil would end up a compact little puck at the bottom of the blender, so now I add the water first, then half a bunch of spinach, and blend. Once that is blended, add the other half of the bunch, and blend. Add half of the oil, add the bunch of basil, and blend. Add the rest of the oil, half of the remaining spinach, and blend. Finally, add the diced queso fresco, the rest of the spinach, and blend. Taste and add salt as needed. Queso fresco is salty on its own so I wait until I’ve added it before I add any salt. And you’re done!

I like to freeze my pesto in baggies since this makes enough for about 3-4 meals. I like the spinach in this sauce not only for the nutritional content, but also because basil alone ends up tasting really medicine-y to me.

You can use this sauce on your favorite pasta, like a pesto sauce, or as the French use their pistou, in a soup. In Peru we add it to a hearty soup and call it menestron. Sound familiar? It is derived from the Italian “minestrone al pesto”, proving once again that in the world of cooking, cultures influence each other endlessly.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – it is simple and quick to make and so delicious!

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!!