Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Personal Best

Just a quick note -- we ran the MAKE ROOM FOR SANTA (5K) couple of weeks ago and I did it. I ran it in 33.22. I think one of the motivating factors was the extremely cold weather. It must have been mid 40's and the sun finally started to peek out right before the start.

I hope I keep getting better and don't plataeu -- I vow to one day be able to take a picture of Chuck actually crossing a finish line!


Check out Chuck's blog for a more detailed account. Here are some of my favorite shots!

Me double fisting two sweet rods.

Norma jokingly "caught" Erick, but the hook really did get stuck and she wasn't abel to remove it.

I'll add video this weekend :D

Minimize tv watching on sundays!

Now that the amazing race is over and I don't need to catch up on the BIGGEST LOSER -- thanks Michelle for beating out Vicky! I don't really have a show of choice to watch on Sunday.

I was briefly flipping through the TV and landed on DHC (Discovery Health Channel) and got sucked in to Men with Breasts. It's a rare condition called gynecomastia. Some men had them removed, others embraced them - very interesting. The show that followed was "I can't stop growing" which featured people (kids & adults with elephantitis). That was too sad so I changed it.

I came across TLC's My Shocking Story World's Smallest Kids. Primordial Dwarfism is the rarest type of dwarfism that results in smaller body size in all stages of life beginning from before birth.

That was pretty sad and now I'm they are showing the World Smallest People. There is an obvious theme, I think I just need to turn off the TV off!

Gold Medalist

Chuck and I were randomly running errands on a Saturday and we walked in to the AT&T Store -- I'm still scouting phones, haven't committed, I know!

There was a really pretty african american lady signing autographs and we were told that she was Sanya Richards. Come to find out -- she's a real gold medalist. I was extremely impressed but we both looked like we just rolled out of bed.

Regardless, it was very exciting, I can only hope to be a fraction as good as she is :D

Fuego en la Sangre (Fire in the Blood)

I reconnected with a friend that works for Verizon Wireless. He was casually talking with Carlos about work and how Verizon was sponsoring a special VIP only event with the actors for one of Mexico's top rated novela (soap opera) --Fuego En La Sangre (

Carlos and I were familiar with the novela, while vacationing in Mexico the novela was concluding -- so everyone and their mother was glued to the TV trying to figure out what was going to happen with the "hermanos Reyes" (Reyes brothers). The 3 primary male actors are:
Juan Reyes (Eduardo Yanez) -
Oscar Reyes (Jorge Salinas) -
Franco Reyes (Pablo Montero) -

So we tell our friend -- you know it sounds like a neat thing to do but we're not fans. After some thought and deliberation, I decided to accept his generous offer and take the Abuelita to see the motley crew. Verizon had scheduled various in-store appearances but we got tickets to their only live concert. Granted Pablo Montero is the only singer, the other two are just actors but in Mexico all that act apparently can sing too -- a very skewed perception.

So that piqued our curiosity, we weren't sure how good or bad it was going to be???? Our friend provided us with 6 tickets (Carlos, Myself, my Abuelita, Abel, Norma, and her mom). Traffic in LA goes without mentioning -- it was bad so we arrived at the venue a little later than anticipated but I get a call from my friend and he tells me that I can get there in the next 5-10 minutes, we (my Abue & I) might get the chance to meet the actors in person. At the time, I was driving so at a stop light, Abel suggested we do a chinese fire drill ( to switch out drivers.

After doing so, we continue to inch closer and closer but there is still too much traffic :S
So Carlos pulls up to the curb and my Abue & I jump out, and we book it (you can only imagine, me pulling my 77 yr old Abue on an incline -- no worries I took it slow). As we approach the venue, my Abue turns to me and says (in spanish) - "I'm tired, I can't run anymore". Thankfully, we had arrived, my friend spots us and rushes us into the venue (in the meantime, Carlos & Abel are parking the truck). A wrist band is placed on our left wrist and we are escorted to this secret enterance by the stage. We wait and wait (about 15 minutes) and finally get word -- Juan Reyes (Eduardo Yanez) isn't coming, he's nervous about the live performance (remember, he's an actor not a singer).

So instead we get to meet Pablo Montero & Jorge Salinas. Pablo was nice and very respectful. Jorge was an octopus. No woman or man was left standing -- he would hug and kiss anything in sight. If you were to his liking, he'd kiss you on your lips (YIKES). As he approached I made sure to position my Abue on her side, to avoid this attack.

We got a couple of minutes with them and posed for a picture. Notice, I put my Abuelita in the center figuring she'd fair better than me. As she stood there -- Jorge Salinas tells her -- you need to hug me but hug me nice and tight (in spanish). I almost lost it, my Abue got all red :D
After this excursion we headed back upstairs and finally got Carlos & Abel there tickets (to come in). Norma had saved us seats in the VIP area and we sat back to enjoy the show. We had a fantastic time!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Coats

Originally uploaded by malena949
Happy to report that Ripi & Trini are taking full advantage of their winter coats from last year. Never fear, I'm working on 2 more versions that I plan to complete while I'm off on Christmas break. We'll keep you posted.

Bronze Leaf Lettuce (Mid-December)

Originally uploaded by malena949

Romain Lettuce (Mid-December)

Originally uploaded by malena949
My lettuce is doing surprising well in this cold weather. I had to put extra dirt on it this weekend before the big storm. Luckily, it's doing well.

Cliantro & Onions (Mid-December)

Originally uploaded by malena949
Check out the color! I can't wait to harvest.

Oregano (Mid-December)

Originally uploaded by malena949
The Serrano's gave me this awesome oregano plant, during the summer, it wasn't growning. I guess it might have been too hot - it's thriving now.

Artichoke (Mid-December)

Originally uploaded by malena949
My artichoke plant is looking happy, I'm curious how this becomes an artichoke - will keep you posted.

Strawberries (Mid-December)

Originally uploaded by malena949
Here's a quick picture of my strawberry plant -- it's doing well!

Even Trini

Originally uploaded by malena949
She rarely cuddles with us when we're napping so I was surprised when she let us cover her up. Granted half of her body is hanging out but I think she's buying into the blanket set up -- even if they are very native american (in design)!

Native American Dogs

Originally uploaded by malena949
My mother in law got these blankets from a generous soul. I know the dogs have fur and probably don't need blankets but you should see them -- they knock out immediately. I will surely employ this tactic with my own kids :D

San Dimas Turkey Trot (10k)

Originally uploaded by malena949
Acutal video of our triumphant finish!

San Dimas Turkey Trot (10k)

Originally uploaded by malena949
Running towards the finish line.

Results of Thanksgiving

Originally uploaded by malena949
Sammy's friend Bryan came over for Thanksgiving. After feasting, he didn't even have a chance. Apparently, this is what our food does to people :D

Turkey Heaven

Originally uploaded by malena949
A quick picture of the turkey's I cooked for Thanksgiving. Delish! Nothing beats cooking the birds in a oven bag.

Garden Expansion (Back in early November)

Originally uploaded by malena949
I hadn't had time to post a picture of my expanded garden -- notice the middle area is where the brick/concrete boarder use to be. Hopefully by spring, I can grow it 1/3 more!

Garlic Paste

Originally uploaded by malena949

We love Zankous (Armenian/Lebanese Restaurant) and we were shopping at Jordan Market and found garlic paste. It's tasty but the smell lingers.

**Just discovered that if you have a flickr account, you can go to photostream to view your uploads and when you select a picture (there's an icon on the top "BLOG THIS" and there you go) Don't mind the short posts.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tyler Florence - Macaroni & Cheese

We made some modifications (noted in blue)

4 cups (1 pound) elbow macaroni
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups milk
(we did 2 cups non-fat and 2 cups heavy cream -- non-fat justified the heavy cream)
1/2 medium onion, stuck with 1 clove (we also added 2 shallots)
4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dry mustard (best to mix the powder w/2 teaspoons of hot water to break down before adding it)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or wondra - stuff they use for gravy)
1 cups grated Cheddar, plus 1 cup in big chunks (we used aged sharp cheddar, primarily grated)

(added 1 cup - grated Gouda) -- don't be scared to add or change the cheeses, next time I think we want to try out pepper jack and havarti :D
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until done, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and toss it with 2 tablespoons butter; set aside.
    Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    Coat a large baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set it aside.
  • Put the milk into a saucepan and add the clove studded onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and mustard (& shallot)
  • Warm over medium low heat until the milk starts to steam, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and let the flavors infuse while you make the roux.
  • Roux - In a large pot over medium heat add 2 tablespoons butter and the flour. Cook, stirring, for about 2 to 3 minutes; don't let the roux color.
  • Strain the infused milk onto the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thick.
  • Remove from the heat and add 1/2 the grated Cheddar and 1/2 the Parmesan; stir until it is melted and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Pour this over the macaroni, add the chunks (we used grated to maximize the melting) of Cheddar, and mix until well blended; put this into the prepared baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar/Gouda, Parmesan & bread crumbs evenly over the top. Bake until the top is golden and crusty, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Shopping

I work a really close to South Coast and as I was driving to lunch today I kept asking myself -- do people work?????? There are so many people out and about -- the mall parking lot was full.

Speaking of Christmas and shopping, a friend sent me this link. Must see (it could potentially safe your marriage)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Must See

I was watching MSNBC and found this tragic but very compelling story...... (To view the trailer - it's on the top left hand side of the page)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

San Dimas Turkey Trot (10k)

Sunday was an early morning, we picked up our friend Jean and headed to San Dimas for Renegade Racing's annual Turkey Trot at the Frank Bonelli Regional Park ( Carlos and I hadn't run this course before and because of the rain, they reconfigured the route. So we really didn't know what to expect. This was also Jean's first race!

As we passed the starting line and encountered our first hill, we realized fairly quickly that this was not going to be a flat course. Carlos took off like speedy gonzales (as always).

Our strategy on the other hand was to save ourselves for the big FINISH :D We ran/walked the whole course. There was paved roads, dirt trails, mud trails (almost swamps), moderate/steep inclines. You felt the Turkey day calories melt away.

As we wrapped up the first mile we had to make an impromptu pit stop -- of all people to be running a race, you have the two people that have bad feet and require orthotics :D I had my new and improved ones on, Jean unfortunately had some over the counter - Dr. Scholls that were causing more harm than good. Once they were removed, she did better. As we headed to the half way point, I was about to stop at what I thought was a water station but it turned out to be the hangout for the local gang affiliated (noted by their tattoos and clothing) oldies car club. As we approached, we saw hynas with big hair seated in their fold out chairs, the homies chit chatting about their wheels. At this point, Jean and I were pretty close to being last, so I suggested that we kick it into high gear and as we zoomed we were embraced by a cloud of too much cologne and cigarettes.

At the 6th mile, we were finally approaching the finish line, I knew Jean was fading fast. So I pulled a Jillian (from Biggest Loser) on her and told her if she didn't speed it up I was going to drag her in by her hair. I think it worked cause she finished together:D Our time was 1 hour 33 minutes. Jean did wonderfully, she's a trooper for having done a 10k for her first race ever. We met up with Carlos and went to get our shirts, unfortunately - they ran out. Oh well, you can't win them all.

Upcoming races: The Santa Run (Irvine) only the 5K, we did the 10K last year.

Check us out:

Black Friday, Gray Saturday?

After all the running around that we did in 2 days, we opted to stay in on BLACK FRIDAY. Yes, we missed the sweet deals but we were tired. We slept in --- our dogs refused to get out of their beds and we all napped most of the day.

On Saturday, we decided to run some errands and hit up Sears (for a lawn mower) and Home Depot (for random house stuff). When we got to Sears, they were offering up some pretty sweet deals on their tools but there were too many people, not enough store clerks to answer questions. So we drifted past the tools and lawn mowers to look at a dishwashers. The one in the house is the "pinto" of washers, it's loud, and I feel like it doesn't clean to my standards :S After seeing the nicer (pricier) Kenmores, I somehow convinced Carlos to go to the Sears outlet. To my surprise, there were so many people there, browsing and actually buying appliances (aren't we in a recession?) We checked out the dishwashers and as we were walking out, we found a Craftsman mitre saw for a mere $80 (retails over $200). We couldn't pass it up.

At Home Depot, we found a compressor with a brad nailer for $80 (retail over $200). I've always wanted a nail gun, I guess I've been watching too many home improvement shows.

So it's settled, we now have the right tools to make our fireplace mantel. We're in the pre-production stage, I will gladly document the process through pictures once we get started.
What deals did you all find?

Thanksgiving X3

On Sunday we were invited to our friends annual Thanksgiving (#1) dinner. He made the turkey with some family favorites (Ruthmary's potatoes, mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach, rolls, gravy, cranberries, etc.). We bought the mac n' cheese (which was really tasty and if you need a recipe, let me know - we found a winner :D) and some candied yams (using my mother in laws famous recipe with rum). We feasted but managed to keep thing under control because we had to save room for the real Thanksgiving on Thursday!

Tuesday night and partially on Wednesday - it rained. I'm not complaining, we need all the rain we can get out here and it helps to water our lawn and veggie garden. But since I was responsible for cooking the turkey at my in-laws place on Thursday. (If you need an easy, good turkey recipe - let me know, I'm a pro!) We decided to drive out to the desert on Wednesday night. We hit hard rain, ended up driving at 50 mph or slower in some areas. It took us about 2.5 hours to get there. Needless to say, we were exhausted.

Thursday (#2) morning we got up bright and early, prepared the two 10lbs butterballs (the best turkeys in town) and started on the sides. We were done cooking by noon. Ate no later than 2:30pm. I took a nap while the rest watched Tropic Thunder and we later played scrabble until the wee hours of the morning. I think we all agree, we really should get the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

The next morning, we headed back early since we had signed-up to volunteer at the Mission Viejo Float -- for the Rose Parade in Pasadena. To Carlos' dismay, we didn't work directly on the floats, we were cutting down yellow mums that would be used on the float. But it was fun and I was thankful it was only a 2 hour commitment. Here are some snap shots!

Later that evening, we headed to my parents house for Thanksgiving (#3). I made some salmon with herbs (something a little different) with more mac n' cheese (but with whole wheat pasta -not as tasty) and more candied yams. My sister brought over the turkey with all the fixings. Again it was a feast for the eyes! There was so much good food. We managed to keep portions small because it was our third Thanksgiving and we surely don't want to end up on THE BIGGEST LOSER.

This Thanksgiving, we're most thankful for our families and friends. We wouldn't be here without your love and support!

I think next year, we really need to re-think our 3 Thanksgiving dinners game plan:D