Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area


The Plate

Posted on Nov 29, 2010 in Featured, Holidays, Motherboard |

The Plate

I’m a family girl. For all the good and bad of it, that’s who I am in a nutshell. This means that every tradition, every person, every meal prepared has meaning to me. I crave Irish Nachos from Rosie McCann’s pub on May 6 each year to celebrate a romantic meal La Gringa and I had years and years ago. I play Barbara Streisand’s Christmas album all the way through because it reminds me of my parents dancing in the livingroom when I was a child spying on them playing Santa. I make tamales around this time of year too because it reminds me of my cousins and grandmother and her tiny kitchen with the vinyl seats and fake wood. I love tradition, and, until one fated night in Rome ten years ago, I still do.

I was traveling in an Eastern direction around the world in 2010, hitting nearly 30 countries and loving every single minute of my travel. My mom met me in Rome for a magical week in early October. It was set to be the last time I’d see her before Christmas eve. We decided to have Thanksgiving in Rome at a beautiful restaurant on the Vio Veneto called Cafe Veneto, an Argentinian restaurant at the Spanish Steps. The night was something I could never write about, filled with symbolism, music, food and love. It was Thanksgiving. That night, we bought the plate we’d eaten from and brought it home. To this day, I use the plate. That darn plate is one of my greatest family treasures.

I spent that year away from my family for the first time on Thanksgiving. I was 29. That’s a lot of years of Turkey with the same turkeys. Since Thanksgiving in Rome, I’ve let go of my turkey day traditions and opted for a new tradition: No Tradition! Each year, we pick something different to do. Last year it was LegoLand with our dear friends and tacos at the border on Thanksgiving, the year before we joined both of our families together for an eclectic celebration and the year before that we had 50 people to dinner complete with a serious game of flag football. Next year? Who knows! The tradition began in Italy and stays with me today — Thanksgiving is about a feeling, more than a series of rituals. Come over any night, you’ll find chatting, laughing and likely eating from The Plate in our daily thanksgiving.

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Disneyland Dazzles for the Holidays

Posted on Nov 29, 2010 in Holidays |

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Happy New Year!

Posted on Jan 1, 2010 in Holidays |

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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Resolutions 2010

Posted on Dec 31, 2009 in Family and Friends, Holidays, La Gringa, Thing 1, Thing 2 |

We had a look at last year’s New Year’s Resolutions today and saw that, for the most part, we had accomplished all of our New Year’s Goals. I got a pass on mine since my number one resolution was to run six half-marathons instead of five from the previous year. But there wasn’t much I could do about destroying my knee. So we’ll just pass on that one, right?

This year’s resolutions were made on the back of a receipt while munching tacos on New Year’s Eve day. Here they are:

La Gringa

Get more fit. Run more. Gym more.
See my friends more often


Get back to fighting shape even without distance running
Get a job I love while being able to pick kids up each day from school

Thing 2

Read lots of books
Learn an instrument
Finish year five in dance and get the 5 yr. trophy

Thing 1

Read the rest of the Magic Tree House collection in Spanish
Learn an instrument
Play lots of Club Penguin

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    Three Products for 2010

    Posted on Dec 30, 2009 in Featured, Seasons |

    Three Products for 2010

    As you all know by now, God help the company that has me write reviews. For the most part it works out great, but I can stick it to you if I think your product sucks eggs, is craphouse, full of false advertising or worse, inappropriate for children.

    But in my attempt to see the glass half-full in 2010, I thought I’d end the year with my top favorite products to try in the new year. I received all of  these products from events, PR agencies or the rad and unforgettable SVMOM preholiday event.

    Marie Veronique Organics

    1. Take your handbag. Pull out the credit card with the biggest limit and get ready to transform your face. I’m not even a little bit kidding. I’m a high-end face product user and this stuff is unreal.  I’ve had decades of bad skin and tried everything known to man to try and curb it over the years. I only use very high quality products on my face and save the 99-cent stuff for the rest of my body parts. I have spent the past two weeks using Marie-Veronique Organics products and my face looks like  a teenager girl with a Snickers fettish. But, and this is a big but: I’ve never been so happy to look like crap. I know the toxins are pouring out of my skin and I’m loving every minute of it. How’s that for a product review?

    It’s clear that the Marie Veronique products do exactly what they say they do: they are pure to your skin, they smell like you just walked out of The Golden Door spa and, above all, it’s completely addictive. I was given samples of the Cleanse, Hydrate, Replenish and Repair products.  Of the entire line, I found the hydrate spritz to be one of the greatest products of all time. It’s the mid/late afternoon sprirtz to the face that I swear to the spa gods makes me feel like I took a nap. The second unforgettable product from this line is the repair serum which,  I’m sure the founders will love to hear, cures Le Hangover Face. Puffiness, redness, splotchiness all gone.  This stuff is magic for a reason. It’s made from crazy free radicals (a synonym for Garza Girl) and all kinds of organics stuff I know nothing about. It’s expensive as all getout;  really, nutso expensive. I’m savoring every drop of the samples I received and going to order the ones I can’t live without. This stuff is worth its weight in gold. No, it’s more expensive than gold, but it’s been a great treat.

    2. Do not laugh at me.  I am dead serious about these two products. First let me say, it’s only because of the horrible economy that I would even consider making coffee at home, muchless specialty coffee at home. I am a Peet’s Coffee kind of girl (Actually I’m a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf kind of girl but they don’t have one in San Jose). First product is the damn – ugh, I hate to admit it, even — the Starbucks instant coffee. The VIA line of coffee that came out this year isn’t cheap either. It’s about a buck each, so don’t spill the freezedrygroundbeans. But, the coffee is surprisingly good. I like the Italian Roast better than the Colombian. Oh wait, maybe the other way around? Whichever, it’s the darker roast one (and darker package). Cha-ching: in a swig of coffee, I’m saving at least $1 and closer to $1.15 each time I choose to use the VIA.  The coffee doesn’t smell like coffee, which is the only downside, but on the upside, it doesn’t smell like dry ice either. Another plus: the VIA doesn’t need to be warm to dissolve, so you can put it in with milk/water combo and shake it up for an iced coffee. If you’re thinking of giving up your coffee habit to save money, this is the way to go. Alternatively, you can take the rest of the money you save ($1.15×365=$419.75 per year) and donate it to one of my three favorite charities:  the George Mark Children’s House, Pro Mujer or Sacred Heart Community Center. Now that’s a good idea. Wheesh, I’m clever.

    The second coffee product of the year is CoffeeMate French Vanilla creamer that I got at the SV Moms event in November. Ewww, creamer you say? That’s what I said. Until, the fated day when my eggnog *and* my regular coffee went bad on Christmas Day and curdled in my cup. On a day when nothing was open, I was left creamless in San Jose.  After scrounging around the cupboards, I found the CoffeeMate freebees I’d gotten and promptly served them to my entire family without telling a soul.  I can’t even tell you how good that dang thing tasted. The best part of it (besides pulling it off without a hitch),  is the single-serve size.  Sure, I felt sneaky and just slightly low-class, but it was worth it. I looked for the CoffeeMate singles at Safeway but didn’t see them. Will definitely use this as a go-to pantry item this year. I might be less classy than I thought (I have the Torani vanilla syrup in my pantry too), but it worked in a pinch.

    3. My final product of the next year to work with is the line of Nubius Organics. Now, the lovely people at Nubius Organics better stop frigging spamming me with email before I call the blacklist people on them, but aside from the borderline spam, I have to say, their products are completely off-the-hook. Nubius sells my faved, beloved Nathan waterbottle for cheaper than you can find it on Amazon. The site touts green-friendly products, and although green isn’t on my major priority list, I really like the way they explain why something is green, why it’s important to them. The big purchase for 2010 is going to be converting our entire family to their Laptop Lunches, a bento box style of lunchbox that creates zero — that’s a big fat 0 — trash. I’m a huge fan of the idea and can’t wait to see how it rolls. I think Laptop Lunches also has a school program, so I’m waiting to make the purchase in case my kids’ school can benefit from it. Organic stuff is so damn expensive, but Nubius has some good deals in their sale section too. Kids are excited to have bento box lunches, my son says, because then everyone will think he is on the Green Team.

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    Bye Bye Christmas!

    Posted on Dec 26, 2009 in Holidays |

    Homeless Tree

    It was December 26, 10 a.m. and, by the grace of all that is good in the world: Christmas has been ridden from our home.

    It’s not that I dislike the holiday, in fact, I love Christmas and all it’s traditions and craziness and fun and manic frenzy. I love Christmas carols and watching my kids full of fun and candy cane stickiness during the holidays. I love getting dressed up in my pretty red party dress and I love giving gifts and decorating the house with lights that set a romantic cast on everything. I love Christmas. But, I hate clutter more.

    Each year, La Gringa and I dismantle Christmas with the same passion as we put it up with. We put every single thing away. We ban “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” songs from our kids repertoire and we chuck the tree — fondly this year named Puffer — onto the curb with a vengeance. Farewell, Christmas! Hello, clean house!  This year, La Gringa did it herself while I shopped the sales. Before I even got home I had several text messages from friends and neighbors who’d passed by, teasing us for ripping down the holidays before Santa could even make it back to the North Pole.

    We go big at the holidays! Then we get rid of it. Fast. Only 330 days to go until we see the dancing Santas, twinkly lights and lit-up reindeer noses on our mantle again. I can’t wait. Sorta.

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