Meet the Sullivans: October 2013

October 31, 2013

Thirsty Thursday | 5 Spooky Cocktails for Halloween Night

The Weeping Woman  Goblin Screwdrivers / Witch's Brew  / Ogre Eyes Hot Cocoa / Ghosty Milk Shooters
With Pinterest at our sides adorably cleaver holiday ideas are just clicks away, and I just can't get enough of them! These drinks are a roundup of some of my favorite drinks I've seen this year that are spooky and fesitive enough to liven up anyone's Halloween night. The Milk Shooters are perfect for the little ones in your life, since all they are is a fancied up glass of milk! The Orgre Eyes hot Cocoa will most definitely be served up while we watch some scary movies, like the original Night of the Living Dead, and pass out candy!

 click here to see previous Thirsty Thursdays!

October 30, 2013

Scribble Me Happy

Yesterday Owen and I dropped into Scribble Me Happy in San Mateo for a little Mommy & Me art class. I heard about the art studio through some friends in our playgroup, and after reading all of the wonderful reviews on Yelp I knew we should definitely check it out. I made the mistake of not calling before the class to hold us a spot, but the women running the studio were so accommodating and let us take the class anyway.

The studio is located right next door to one of our favorite local toy stores, Talbots Toyland and across the street from Draegers. I must have passed by this place a million time in the past 1.5 years, always admiring the cute window displays but never putting two and two together that it was a great place for toddlers.

Not only is the exterior of the studio totally adorable, but the inside is as well. They have a pretty cute little botique at the front of the store that sells handmade goods made by local artists. I would have loved to peruse a bit, but someone was feeling especially grabby yesterday. 

After putting on smocks supplied by the studio we got started with painting our canvas. The women running the class were really great at engaging all of the children in their projects, giving positive encouragement and demonstrating other little ways to make it fun. The were encouraged to use paint brushes, stamps, stickers, toy cars and of course their fingers to fill their canvases with color.

After finishing the canvas the children decorate and painted a black cat. Owen really loved using the glitter glue, probably because I've never let him use it at home. 

His completed masterpiece that is now displayed on the kitchen counter for everyone to see!

When they were done with the cat canvas and finished getting cleaned up  they were able to decorate their pumpkins.  Owen was pretty much done by this point, so I did most of the "decorating" of his pumpkin.

One class is $18 for the Mommy & Me class, but as you purchase a membership you get 10% off classes. It's not something we'll do weekly, or even monthly -- I don't know if Owen can handle sitting still that often -- but we'll likely do it once each season Fall (for Halloween or Thanksgiving), Winter (Christmas), Spring (Easter) and Summer.

Also, he loved the little cars they gave up to drive through the paint on his paper, and he wanted so badly to take it with him, but when I told him we were leaving and to "put it back" he did. What a good boy!

I'm so glad we live in an area where classes and places like this are available to us. Right now I'm trying to find a variety of things we can do each week (since the weather will be getting cold and rainy soon). I feel like I am always discovering some new hidden gem from the mommies I know, and I'd love to know... What are some of the fun activities you like to do with your kids in your area?  

We had such a fun time and we'll definitely be going back for another art class soon!

October 29, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up | Birthday Weekend

We had such a fun (and food FILLED) weekend! I honestly can't believe how much great food we had ... until I look at the scale that is. The highlight of the weekend was most definitely when Owen did his business on the potty on my birthday Monday morning! Oh how birthdays have changed!

fun finds from Marshall's / Owen sliding at playgroup @ the park / said goodbye to my broken old car

Keith's 49er pumpkin / beautiful glass pumpkins at Stanford Shopping Center / Owen cheesin' / delish pumpkin spice cupcakes / Owen's first carved pumpkin / birthday lunch with my mom and sister
date night with Keith for my birthday / the greatest gorgonzola gnocchi ever / Keith's rigatoni / antipasto

playing at the park during our picnic / food trucks for dinner / sam's chowder house truck / Owen's first poo poo on the potty (!!!!)

MONDAY contd. 
classic + sea salted caramel cream puffs / clam chowder from sam's chowder house / lobster roll / ribs and mac

How was your weekend?

October 28, 2013

| Recipe | Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I love a good cupcake! Honestly, I think it is the perfect dessert, because I love the versatility -- you can create almost any kind of flavor combinations possible. And to me, no celebration is complete with out a cupcake. They remind me of birthdays too, which is perfect for today, because today is my birthday!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

cake ingredients
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 sugar
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
frosting ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Beat butter and sugar together using a hand mixer (or stand mixer with beater blade attached), until fluffy. Add eggs, pumpkin and vanilla.
2. Sift together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Stir dry mixture into wet mixture until blended.
4. Bake in 18 lined muffins cups for 25 minutes.
5. While the muffins bake beat together the cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar and vanilla.
6. After the muffins have cooled spread them with frosting. Enjoy!!

October 25, 2013

Five on Friday | blogging, boxes and breast pumps

Good morning!! I'm linking up with the lovely ladies behind The Good Life, Carolina Charm, A. Liz Adventures, and Hello Happiness for 5 on Friday today!

- ONE -
Our October Citrus Lane Box finally arrived this week and I was really happy with this month's selection. In our box there was a Boon Water Bugs Floating Bath Toy, an issue of Babybug Magazine (Such a cute idea. Owen loves reading it together.), a Green Tones Train Whistle and a bag of BOPS Organic Potato Chips. We also added on the cute Little Spider book to add to our collection of Halloween / Fall books. We have so much fun opening our Citrus Lane box each month and I'm always looking forward to the arrival of our next one. If you'd like to sign up you can use this referral link to get $10 off your first box!

- TWO -
I've always loved reading about people's experience at blogging conferences and have always though it would be so fun to attend one myself. The problem is that the conferences would usually require a plane trip and hotel stay, and I just can't justify all that for something I consider a hobby (a fun, and very important to me hobby). Well, lo and behold it looks like BlogHer is coming to San Jose in '14!! I could not be more excited about this, because I think it means I'll be going! Anyone else out there planning to attend?
If you read my guest post last year on Julie's blog about my breastfeeding journey you might remember that I kind of gave up on pumping pretty early. I really wish I could have kept it up so that Owen would have always had breast milk when I was away (it was a huge source of guilt for me) from him, but I just could never find the time. I breastfed him up to a year, but could never manage to carve out the time to pump after a feeding.

I'm re-telling you all this because a friend of ours is developing a breast pump that is going to change ALL that for so many moms. The (patented-pending) design he developed features improved performance and smaller size (it will be about the size of a smart phone!). This new technology will not only make pumping sessions shorter and more efficient, but also make the experience more discrete.

Anyway, I think this is so neat and wanted to introduce you all to it because I know many of you are mothers / breastfeeding mothers. Do me a quick favor a LIKE their page on Facebook to keep up with them and help this amazing technology get the exposure it needs!

- FOUR -
The power went out yesterday afternoon, right before nap time, and I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I couldn't turn on the monitor, humidifier or white noise in Owen's room. My Kindle was dead, so I couldn't read. I couldn't start a load of laundry, watch television, make a cup of tea (I remembered later that I could have used the stove - duh!) or blog.  It was all a bit frustrating at first, but once it set in I really enjoyed the peace. I ended up straightening up the house and making some phone calls that I would have probably put off otherwise and when Owen woke up we just sang songs and read books. I didn't feel the pressure to switch the laundry, check emails or vacuum the floor, etc. I could just play. Keith says I wouldn't survive a day in a zombie apocalypse.

- FIVE -
Monday is my birthday (I'm going to be 30 again 32 this year, if you're wondering), so I'm looking forward to a great excuse to have some fun with my favorite people. Saturday we're going to lunch + shopping with my mom and sister, Saturday night we're getting together with Keith's family for pumpkin carving and dinner, Sunday night Keith and I have a date night and on Monday we'll have a fun family day. I'm really looking forward to all the fun the weekend has to offer!!

Happy weekend, friends!

October 24, 2013

Thirsty Thursday | Whole Fruit Margarita

Last weekend Keith came home from Costco with the Vitamix blenderwe've been eying for years. It's definitely not a cheap blender, at close to $380 dollars (we have the one without the automatic soup / ice cream settings, the one with those settings costs closer to $500), but it does so many amazing things. It chops onions (or anything) just like a food processor would, blends the smoothest smoothies ever and has the capabilities to make soups, whipped desserts and ice creams.

One of the first things I did when he brought it home was look up different recipes to make with it using my favorite Pinterest! You can check out my Vitamix pinterest board if you'd like to see some of the things we've been making.

I was so excited when I saw this recipe for a Whole Fruit Margarita -- I knew it was going to be GOOD! And it was. And can you believe the short ingredients list? There really are only the things you see above in addition to ice and a little water. (I skipped the Grand Marnier, because we were all out.)

1/4 cup water
6 ounces tequila
2 ounces Grand Marnier
1 medium orange, peeled and halved
1 lime, peeled and halved
1 lemon, peeled, halved, and seeded
6 tablespoons sugar
6 cups ice cubes

1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.

2. Select Variable 1.

3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.

4. Blend for 45 seconds, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.

5. Pour into salt-rimmed margarita glasses.

*You can definitely use a regular blender to make this same margarita, but it may not come out as smooth as the one picture above

This is truly the best margarita I have ever made at home!! It's smooth, refreshing and tastes SO fresh -- no syrupy sour taste like most mixes have. It's probably also the closest you could get to a "clean" cocktail too. My sister had me laughing when she said it could count as a serving of fruit for your "afternoon snack". Ha! Next time I think I'll substitute agave nectar for the 6 tbsps sugar, and maybe even add a little triple sec.

If you're looking for more great Vitamix recipes please check out these Vitamix Blender recipes!

October 23, 2013

It's a Halloween Pajama Party!!

Good morning, friends! I'm linking up this morning with the sweet ladies behind The Good Life and The Tichenor Family blogs for their Halloween Pajama Party Link-Up!

I had one heck of a time getting any kind of photos that weren't blurry and where Owen was looking at the camera yesterday. I think I had my ISO too high, so the quality isn't great and he was seriously squirmy ...but he's still pretty darn cute (if I do say so myself!), so I think the less than stellar photos are okay.

I thought books would keep him occupied, but NO!

Maybe the singing, dancing Franken-dog will do the trick? Nope. 

He's mostly interested in my camera and grabbing at the lens. It's HILarious, apparently! 

Planning his escape...

And he's GONE, and running for the stairs....

Owen has a handful of Halloween jammies, but of course these were the only clean ones yesterday when I went to take pictures. Oh well! They're just simple Target ones with orange and black monsters all over them.

I can't wait to see everyone else's little ghosts and goblins in their cozy Halloween jams! All the details are on the invitation below if you're interested in linking up!

PS. I'll be back to contributing to Thirsty Thursday tomorrow, so be sure to check back for a great cocktail recipe!!! 

October 22, 2013

Grocery Shopping Strategy

Do you ever wonder how other people strategize / approach grocery shopping? It's something I always find really interesting -- do you make a rough list? a detailed list? or do you just wing it? I loved reading Shay, of Mix and Match Family's (she's also sister of Bachelor Sean Lowe) recent installment of 52 Shades of Shay where she explained how she does the grocery shopping each week for her family.

I think everyone approaches the "chore" differently. To me it's not really a chore and I enjoy it most of the time. I love finding and trying new products we see popping up on the shelves (in my experience Target always has the newest pantry items). I find peace in making a neat and detailed list, knowing that it will lead to a weak of smooth dinners cooked at home.

So, here are the details on how I like to strategize our grocery shopping each week:

The basic details:
  • We budget $150 each week for food. This is only for food. It does not include diapers, household items or toiletries. Just dinners, lunch, breakfast, milk, etc. I'm usually able to come in under that amount on any given week, but I like having the wiggle room in case we're entertaining. 
  • I don't clip coupons unless I see one for something we really need or will use. Most of the coupons I see are for things I don't cook with or that we don't use. I mostly shop the outer area of the grocery store, and those items are often already marked down for a sale and don't require any couponing.
  • I like to do one big shopping trip each week for the bulk of our food, and I usually do this on Sunday or Monday, or which ever day is less busy for us. I'm usually back at the store again later in the week for another gallon of milk or to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables. 
  • I like to shop at a few different stores for all the things we need. I mainly shop at Safeway, Trader Joe's, Costco and Target. Safeway is closest to our house and has the bulk of the items we need each week, so I always start there. Then if Keith wants a specific trail mix from TJ's, or I happen to see some interesting pantry item at Target, or we need a large amount of anything from Costco I'll make those trips during the week with Owen.
Here was my messy list from last week. I bought 98% of what's on that list at Trader Joe's, but had to buy some of the things at Safeway because I couldn't find them at TJ's.

The List:

1. First off I start with my usual Menu Planning Routine.

2. I start of by noting what we'll be eating each night of the week at the top of my shopping list so I can go back and reference it if needed. Sometimes I'll put tomatoes on my list but by the time I get to the store I forget what recipe I needed them for and what kind I need. Cherry tomatoes are great for salads, but not so great if you need them on a burger -- get my point? This is why The List is golden to me. If I don't make a list I'll forget something and have to return to the store the next day, which is just a waste of time.

3. Next I break down my list into categories according to the store's layout starting with produce, then deli, pantry, frozen and butcher. I like doing it this way to simplify the task for myself. This way I don't have to stop and read through my list a million times to make sure I grabbed all of the right things before moving on to another section of the store. I forget things less often this way too.

I also know that if I make a list I might add a few things into my cart that I didn't plan on buying ... like those Halloween Joe Joe's? Yeah, those were not on my list, but they looked like fun!

So, that's how I manage the grocery shopping each week. It's as simple as I can make it! What's your strategy?

October 21, 2013

Pastorino's Pumpkin Farm | HMB Pumpkin Festival 2013

Yesterday we spent the morning enjoying one of our favorite Fall traditions, the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival! Keith and I have been going together since before we were even engaged and we plan to continue the tradition with our little family for years to come. (2012 and 2010)

We always start the morning off really early to beat the traffic and crowds. Half Moon Bay is a little ocean side town, and there is only one single land road leading in from the Peninsula, so it gets backed up fast. Our first stop is always the "all you can eat" Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast put on by the HMB High School Basketball Team.

One of my favorite parts is getting to pick out a new blown glass pumpkin to add to my collection. I buy them from Totally Blown Glassworks (based out of Seattle, Washington) each year -- and I think they make the best there is out there. This year I added a traditional orange one to the collection and now I have a total of four!

We had fun checking out Farmer Mike, “The Picasso of Pumpkin Carvers”, and his giant-pumpkin carving skills! Owen is really into "farmers" these days, so he enjoyed it.

We didn't want to pay the $15 to take a picture with the award wining 1,704 lb pumpkin (the largest pumpkin in the state of California), but we did get a photo in of Keith and I with these other large pumpkins! 

Owen and I in front of the biggest, heaviest pumpkin sculpture in the world, created by Lake Tahoe artist Peter Hazel.

We always stop at our friend Scott's pumpkin farm, Pastorino Farms, on our way out for a little pumpkin patch fun and to pick up our pumpkins for Halloween.Owen had a blast riding the train, the horses (twice!!!), picking pumpkins and petting the animals.

We had so much fun! Today we're having family pictures taken, so wish us luck!


And a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Amy G. for wining our Yogurtland giveaway! Amy, I sent you an email, so just send me your mailing address and I'll mail the gift card to you ASAP!