To Read on the Journey

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Memory Game

My s.i.l. Jennifer and son Jack, who reside in Australia, surprised us a few weeks ago with the news that they would be in Cali for a couple of months!

We were thrilled to get to see them this past weekend, which happened to fall on Jack's 2nd birthday.

Because they live in "the land down under" I want to give meaningful gifts to our nephew that will help him grow to know his Jones family despite the distance. 
For our first meaningful gift we invited Jones' family members to join us in giving Jack children's books along with a video of each of us reading the books aloud to him.  

One of our books was a children's classic of nursery rhymes. My silly children were filmed singing and acting out hand motions to a few of the rhymes.  A moment that melted this auntie's heart was receiving a short video of a happy Jack playing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" with Noah, Emilie, and Josie, who were singing to him on his flat-screen in Aussie!

That was when I began racking my brain to come up with another intentional gift for Jack.  

I finally came up with this- a twist on the classic Memory Game.
  Jack's Memory Game is filled with photos of his entire Jones family. 
That's Jack. 
Look at those eyes! 
And there's Jack with his favorite people- his mommy & daddy.
Silas, Aunt Michelle, Great Grandma Phyllis, Nicholas
Nana & Gramps, and Nana & Jack
The oldest of Jack's cousins, Noah...was it just me that grew up thinking my oldest cousin was the coolest? 
Here's Great Gram showing off her sassy (washable) car tattoo, 
and there is beautiful Gracie. 

Uncle Michael & Auntie Denise

Jack's Family

I hope that as Jack grows he knows he is part of a super family that loves him. 

Do you have any other clever ideas of meaningful gifts we can create for our nephew?

Live in Peace,

Thursday, April 18, 2013


The guy in the photo above is Justin, and he's a for real chef!
(don't let the In-N-Out apron fool ya) 
A few weeks ago he asked when he (and his lovely wife, Korina) could come over
to give the girls a cooking lesson.
You should have seen Josie's beaming face when I announced this news to her!
(Josie loves to cook, and has plans to open a restaurant some day- "Josefini Tortellini's")

The girls had a blast learning from Justin, who is passionate about cooking
(watching someone be passionate is a gift in itself).
Thankfully, Justin brought his own fancy-shmancy knives.
He schooled us on each one, without trying to sell them to us!  
Apparently,  my technique of using a steak knife to cut everything but steak 
(I use a butter knife for that) is frowned upon.
Did you know that if you chop your veggies (or anything really)
the same size, they will cook evenly! 
(That explains a lot). 
These yummy vegetables were being chopped for a vegetable risotto,
which is made with Arborio rice. I'd never heard of Arborio rice, and
blame Rice-A-Roni for keeping me in the dark.

The vegetable risotto was made from a delicious medley of Arborio rice, sauteed onions, 
grilled veggies, garlic, salt, veggie broth, and white wine. 
Needless to say, it put my usual "San Francisco treat" to shame.

Justin also served us flank steak with Chimichurri sauce
(which we've renamed "chimmy churro" sauce, because we're dorky like that).
Poor Michael only eats steak when I'm out of town, so he (and Noah) were
 on Cloud 9 when they heard of  "Justin-the-nick-of-time's" (yep, we renamed him, too) 
plan to serve beef for dinner.

The  Chimichurri sauce was made with parsley, garlic, red wine vinegar, fresh squeezed lemon, and olive oil. 
It was so good I wanted to drink it. 

I don't know what Justin-the-nick-of-time used for the flank steak rub...
I think it was some super-secret "I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you" rub. 

While the girls were being schooled, and I was photographing, Justin's ADORABLE wife, Korina, was concocting some beverages to accompany our meal 
(Korina, is a barista at our favorite coffee joint, Cool Bean.  Last week when I ordered my beverage I told her to surprise me.  She made me a salted-caramel-milkyway-something-or-other. OHHHHHSOOOGOOOD).
On the left a Strawberry Lemon Lavender Drink, 
and on the right Lavender Tea. 

I learned that we can make simple syrup by "simply" mixing a bit of granulated sugar and warm water together into a syrup consistency.  Doing this instead of spooning in cups full of sugar to your beverage ensures that the sugar doesn't sink to the bottom. 
Hm, who knew?

Here's a quick peak at our dinner- minus the parmigiana cheese on the veggie risotto,
 and "chimmy churro" sauce on the flank steak. 
(at this point young people were griping at me to stop taking photos so they could eat). 
Should I be offended that the salad I made (using a steak knife to cut all the veggies)
 barely made the picture?

     Chef, "Justin-the-nick-of-time," Korina, and the happy feasters.

Our meal was DELISH!
Even better was the sweet time we got to spend with Justin & Korina.
They are fantastic! 

I know you wish you had a fancy chef friend to teach you some culinary skills, too.
Well, don't be dismayed! 
You have a culinary chef's friend!

Here's a little tutorial on how to properly slice an onion. 

Apparently, the only way to avoid the many tears that accompany the slicing of an
 onion is to not slice an onion. 

Since we are onion connoisseurs, and avoiding onions is unreasonable,
Josie has come up with another solution,
which totally works. 

Live in Peace,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Easter Break Highlights


To kick off their Easter Break, Noah and Emilie were pulled out of school a week early (they did not complain about that!) to participate in a local mission trip, "I {Heart} Fresno," with The Well Community Church.  They had the opportunity to love on Fresno by: serving school aged children (who were on Easter Break before us) with a daily recreation program, spending time with the elderly at nursing home, cleaning area parks, and painting over graffiti.  Both kids had many stories to share from their experience. In one experience Emilie told how a local mission provides lunches for the children at the school. She was treated to that lunch, but was disappointed by the "old brown salami" she had received on her undesirable sandwich. That's when she noticed that a few children collected a number of sandwiches to take home to their families. She recognized how fortunate she forgets she is, while expressing tenderness and compassion for the sweet children she had loved on that week.  Both Noah and Emilie are grateful to have been immersed into situations that are foreign to them, and both are looking forward to participating again next year.


Though we do life together day in and day out, sometimes we still really miss each other, and desperately need to reconnect.

We reconnected with a fun Easter Break get-away!
We hit the road on Good Friday, stopping at Sbux, where the kids used their Tia-Toni-gift-cards to caffeine up for the trip with some frappachinos.

From there we headed to the valley, and to my sis's to deliver her birthday gift.
This Gaither Trio song was a favorite of ours when we were little. We use to play it again and again and again on our record player. We had no idea then that Good God was speaking "hope and a future" into both of our lives with that sweet children's melody (listen to it here ... I'm listening to it now... my kids all turned and gave a huge smile.... now we're all shouting/singing "I. Am. A. PROMISE!!").

After making my sister good-cry we headed to Boomers, where we used another gift card (thanks to our "great-parent," Papa Dan, for the treat) and played put-put-golf, drove go-carts, and played some arcade games.

 After our Boomer's treat we headed towards the California Delta, and to our free-firty-free-off-the-hook accommodations for the long Easter weekend.
 Yep! We stayed in the Tomato Shed.... in Gramps & Nana's Boat! (you should say that like your Rod Rodey from the Price is Right)

Here's a peak of our view from Callisto (boat's name).
Life is rough.
The next day we slept in, lingered on the cool delta for a while, then headed out for a little adventure.

First stop "Disneyland for Mommies," IKEA (or as Mama Holly refers to it, "IKILLYA")
  Next we hopped in the car and headed towards our state's capital
We splurged and took the kids to Joe's Crab Shack.
Noah and Emilie were thrilled to have crab for the first time. We liked treating them to it, and watching them enjoy it.

At Joe's the employees bust a move (dance) every 45 minutes.  I may have joined them. 
I had to.

Because Joe's is in Old Town Sacramento we ventured off for a little post-over-eating-exercise/shop perusing.

Michael discovered this hottie along the way. 
  The fam begged me not to take a zillion family pix.
 This is just 3 of the 20+ they had to wanted to pose for.

On Easter Sunday we woke, lingered at the boat again (lingering is delightful. note to self: linger more), then we all cuddled together, and listened to Michael read to us about the best gift given to us ever- Savior! 
Next we got in the car, cranked up Tree 63's song, Sunday ("It's Friday, but Sunday is come'n, ...darkness is already crumble'n... Sunday! Hallelujah, it's not so far, it's not so far away..."), and  headed to Roseville to see lots of family.

We ate a feast and Easter egg hunted with my cool family- the Teodosio's.

  (Just some of the Teodosio great grand-kids).

After filling up on food, candy, and love from my Teodosio family (let me just exclaim that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE MY TIA'S, Violet, Marie, Vicki, Vera, and Hilda!!) we headed over to visit a few members of the Jones' clan.
Our family of 5 is in 100% agreement that Uncle Don & Aunt Pam are the coolest Jones'ever! It's seriously a bummer that we live 3.5 hrs away from them... it's also a bummer that I failed to snap some pix of them, cousin Jessica, and her 3 darling children, who we also visited. Thankfully, I didn't fail to snap pix of Gram.
 The matriarch of the Jones' clan.  This photo makes me happy.

Though not as happy as this one

I know Easter is "so last week," 
but what was one of your 2013 Easter highlights? 

Live in Peace,