land of fantasy

California Adventure

walk like an Egyptian

We've just returned from sunny southern California where we spent three days at Disneyland and California Adventure, a day at Universal Studios and yet another at some very crowded, but fun beaches. Newport Beach and Corona del Mar. Iz is a regular mermaid and freaked me out jumping into the waves, allowing them to tumble her to shore.

This being my first Disneyland experience, I was like a kid in a candy store enjoying all this "happiest place on earth" has to offer. I skipped my way through the charming Main Street USA feeling like I'd just walked into a fantasy movie. Several rides were enjoyed through the course of the first day: Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion, Autotopia, the Finding Nemo Submarine. We jumped onto a horse drawn carriage, a train, or the monorail whenever we felt like it. Lines were short and often nonexistent on this beautiful Monday morning. It was all there at our disposal. When we got hungry we stopped and had a yummy, but expensive lunch at Rancho Del Zocalo, or a hot dog at one of the many little stands along the way. When we got thirsty we stopped for $3 bottles of water to stay hydrated. Ouch! By Tuesday we knew the location of all the drinking fountains where we could refill those expensive water bottles.

horse drawn carriage


I was very impressed with the rides and the 4-D adventures (Honey I Shrunk the Audience and Shrek) where we were sprayed with drops of water when the characters sneezed, and felt mice scurry from the screen and over our feet. Our seats moved as though we were traveling in the same Jeep with the characters down a bumpy gravel road. It's all quite an amazing sensation.

My very favorite ride was in California Adventure, the newest theme park just across from Disneyland. Soarin' over California. Belted into a swinging row of seats with about nine people, we glided up to an IMAX movie screen in complete darkness. In seconds our toes were dangling over the Golden Gate Bridge, we were dipping down into the valley a few feet over a stream, gliding over mountains, an aircraft carrier, San Diego at night, a golf course (look out for that high flying golf ball!), orange grove, vineyard, ocean, Disneyland. All while smelling some of the appropriate smells... pine trees, oranges, lavender. This five minutes of bliss put me in a happy place I won't soon forget.

We stopped in Hollywood on the way back from Universal Studios. Iz wanted to take the Walk of Fame and check out Grauman's Chinese Theatre (she learned about it from I Love Lucy). This consists of a sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street that serves as an entertainment hall of fame. It's embedded with more than 2,000 five-pointed stars featuring the names of not only human celebrities but also fictional characters honored for their contributions to the entertainment industry. We were hungry by the time we arrived here, so we jumped into the first posh restaurant we found. We ordered soft tacos at the counter and grabbed a seat near the window at Baja Fresh, which happened to be just across the street from Grauman's. It was all partitioned off for a premiere of the movie All About Steve, starring Sandra Bullock and Thomas Haden Church.

Samuel L. Jackson


We wandered over to the wax museum where they had a few statues out on the sidewalk. I snapped a few pictures. Crowds of people were beginning to gather on the sidewalk around Grauman's. So we decided to hang out and watch the Hollywood types emerge from the premiere. It was kinda fun to watch all the fancy clothes and made up people walking by. When Sandra finally did walk out onto the sidewalk, security announced her presence. From where I was standing, I could have reached out and touched her. But I didn't.

The last day was spent trying to recover from it all lounging around the hotel pool, where it was 97 degrees in the shade, taking advantage of the poolside service for lunch and margaritas. Told ya it's the land of fantasy!

Now I've got to get working on all that laundry. And figure out how to soothe my very sore throat. Breathing air conditioned air all night made my throat feel like I swallowed razor blades.

Welcome to my world of fantasy and fun.

fifth and last official day of STAY-CATION

We started off our last day of staycation by going shopping. There were way too many reasons not to go shopping. 1. We live in walking distance from a great mall 2. mom has a ton of gift cards from her birthday to spend and 3. it's too hot not to be taking advantage of free airconditioning... so we headed out and had a blast.

Little did we know that Lola's birth inspired Marc Jacobs to create a new perfume. It smells pretty nice too, if I may add.

We managed to find some bargains today and also these super cute bows for the girls! (I wanted to put them on right there in the store, since everyone who stopped us said "oh twins, one boy and one girl" I wanted to ask "which one of these babies wearing the pink dress do you think is the boy?" but I didn't and simply said "oh no, two girls." I should write a book of all the comments people say to me when I am out and about with the girls.
Off to the beach... we brought daddy along this time!
Shopping wore them out a bit, they napped as we walked the pier.

Lola put her feet int the ocean for the first time today she seemed to like it!

Ellie on the other hand screamed when I put her feet in the water, I couldn't really tell if she was screaming in delight or displeasure.
After the beach we met our friends Mouse and Carole for dinner at one of the best Mexican places in San Diego "Natti's"
Mouse and Lola

Carole and Ellie

Side note: Lola has found her tongue!

STAY-CATION day four (kinda)

Well today we broke the first official stay-cation rule, we worked... but we are grateful for the work, so we will just have to make up for lost stay-cation time tomorrow.

We did manage to get out this morning and visit all the nice people at the VA hospital who had yet to meet the twins, it was nice to see all of them.

The girls were hard at work (well play) today too, I have the best viedo of Ellie in the Jumperoo but of course it wont download... I'll keep trying!

We can sing about Larry the Lion!

This week we learned about the letter L. We learned that it is a consonant not a vowel and so it only makes 1 sound. We also learned that we can use our magic pencils (our pointer finger) to write Ls in the air, on our legs, on the floor and basically anywhere we want since it won't make a mark. But the best part of learning about letter L was singing "Larry Lion". It is only Thursday and we already know the song without the help of the CD or teachers. We are so smart in preschool!!

STAY-CATION day three

The theme of today could be summed up in one word RELAXATION

I started the day by finally redeeming a massage gift certificate that Tony's mom gave me so long ago, it was very much enjoyed! We had no plans the rest of the day, but because it was so hot we decided to take the girls for a swim. It gave us a chance to test out the new wagon Kathleen and Monte gave the girls. They loved the ride- they just look so grown up.

Lola was taking the whole relaxation theme to the extreme.

Barefoot Contessa White Pizza with Arugula

I'm so excited, today is my day to pick an Ina Garten recipe for the Barefoot Bloggers! I have been a member of the Barefoot Bloggers for over a year now and have absolutely loved participating in this online cooking group. We have tried so many fun recipes that I would probably have never even attempted, were it not for this group -- and the best part is, just about all of the recipes turn out delicious dishes that I want to make over and over again.

If this is your first visit to my blog, welcome! If you've been a reader and have wondered where I've been the past month, I'm sorry to have not posted for so long. It's just been a crazy summer and after having house guests and doing a family road trip at the end of July, I just couldn't get back into the swing of blogging, and as soon as I tried, I had a computer crash! But that's all over now, thank goodness because I really missed Nummy Kitchen and all of my blogging friends :) Now let's get to the recipe -- this is a pretty long one...

White Pizza with Arugula
Ina Garten

For the dough:

1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:

3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby arugula
1 lemon, sliced

Mix the dough.

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. * I dropped the oven temperature down to 425 * (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Portion the dough.

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Stretch the dough.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Top the dough.

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese.

Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Make the vinaigrette.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

(I could only find an arugula blend -- not a problem!)

Add the greens.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

TIP Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop.

TIP Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour.

TIP To make sure yeast is still "alive," or active, put it in water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it becomes creamy or foamy, it's active.


Phew! That was a long recipe -- please don't let it intimidate you, this is a really easy recipe and you can make the whole amount of dough and use it at a later time for any kind of pizza. I've made the dough a few times and it always turns out nicely and is very easy to work with. You can even mix it on the dough cycle in your bread machine.

Now I have a bit of Barefoot Blogger catching up to do... The first recipe for August was Mango Banana Daiquiris picked by Veronica of Supermarket Serenade -- thanks for a fun fruity pick, Veronica!

I missed posting the two July recipes but I did cook along with everyone! These were two of my favorite Barefoot Bloggers picks...

First off was an amazing and easy dish,
Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes picked by Cat of Delta Whiskey . Thank you Cat, this is a new favorite for me!

The second recipe for July was picked by Aggie of
Aggie’s Kitchen who picked Peach & Blueberry Crumbles -- this is just a quick photo of the crumble (I made one big instead of littles) before adding the topping. The crumble baked up golden brown and beautiful and were delicious, I love the peach and blueberry combo, what a great summer dessert :)

Future Architects of America

We have been reviewing all the shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle, octagon, heart, star, trapezoid, oval) the past two weeks of school. This week we are focusing on circle. But as my students informed me you can't build a castle with circles, but you can with other shapes. So we created our own original castles, railroad tracks, pastures, houses, race track, and more using all the shapes we could find in our blocks.

Working on a railroad track going over the mountain.

Team work to make this castle.

The leaning tower of Tennessee.

Super proud of this Arc De Dunlap.

Small tower for small children.

Earthquake hit this tower and sent it tumbling.

This is my tower.

Working together to build the city.

Making a race track.

So do you like my house?

See this is my dream castle.

We finished our castle.

His pasture for the horses or cows? Or maybe just a field to relax in.

Castle in the sun.


We headed out to the zoo today. The girls have been to the zoo a lot this summer, but today was a little different. It was the first time just the four of went to the zoo togheter. It was really hot, but we all had a fun day never the less.

The San Diego Zoo has a new baby Gorilla, so cute.

Lola, all smiles at the zoo.
Ellie enjoying the day.

The girls got their first souvenir. They loved this Lion from the zoo, it made them go crazy. They just started laughing at it when we showed it to them.- we couldn't resist, they loved playing with it at home too!

Side note...

Ellie somehow manages to get herself stuck in the craziest places. How do she get under there?