“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
--- Douglas Adams

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mucho Mahalos - An Open Letter to Trader Joe's

Dear Trader Joe's.

Oh my gosh, TJ's. Thank you. I love this stuff.

I have psoriasis. I get yucky scaly patches on my knuckles, elbows, ankles ... all the typical places one gets psoriasis plaque. It's gross. It makes my skin look and feel gross. I don't have it nearly as badly as those who came up in my search for pictures of people with psoriasis, I was looking at pictures to figure out how bad mine was vs. how bad the really bad cases are. Turns out mine isn't as bad as it could be and my trouble spots are pretty typical and consistent with textbook psoriasis.

Anywhoozle, I have topical meds that work really well, but lotion helps keep breakouts at bay and help manage existing psoriasis plaque spots.

One day I tried your Coconut Body Butter and I'm telling you TJ's, the clouds parted, angels started singing, there was a vibe of Aloha in the air you've never seen the likes of ...... Your product is magic.

Now I know your Coconut Body Butter is not a cure. I know it isn't a substitute for the medication I take. But I do know that this lotion is the best lotion to soothe the dry icky skin my body likes to over-produce and helps it not to look so irritated and angry. I have a jar of it at my desk at work, in my car and in the house, although the one in the house is usually snatched up by my oldest daughter. It's really freaking good lotion.

Thanks Trader Joe's.


P.S. I am not a crackpot.

jsyk, i received no benefit from TJ's for writing this blog post. they didn't ask me to write a review. They don't know who I am. They didn't give me anything for writing this post and I'm not asking for anything in return. I wouldn't turn anything down, but I'm not expecting anything in return.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mochica! Mochica! Mochica!

So last night my oldest and I were super lame and totally forgot Hula class was cancelled this week. 

We arrived at our Halau's location and I scored THE BEST parking. I looked around and noticed there was tons of parking. Then I realized it was 6:57pm. Class starts at 7pm. For there to be this much great parking with only 3 minutes to spare to get to class, something was up. My Girl quickly looked at her email, and realized our mistake.

So what were two gals to do? Why we went out to dinner of course. Our Halau is in Potrero Hill. There are tons of great places to try. We decided on Mochica, a Peruvian restaurant. We walked in, were greeted right away by a random employee and told the hostess would be there momentarily. Just as he finished his sentence, the hostess arrived.
Inside the bathroom at Mochica

We ordered drinks - 
I really wanted to order a Pisco Sour. Pisco Sours are de-freaking-licious but I opted for a 750ml of Fancy Pants Fizzy Water to complement my daughter's bottle of Sprite.

We ordered an appetizer - 
Tequenos - Crispy wontons stuffed with Oaxaca cheese, and served with avocado puree & tamarind sauce

We ordered dinner - 
Churrasco a la Parilla - Grass fed Angus 10oz. Hanger steak with yucca fries & Peruvian chimichurri andino
Pulpito a la Parilla - Baby octopus, grilled, with blue mashed potato & huancaina-mostaza

It tuned out that we pretty much ordered the same thing, except with different proteins. My steak and her octopus were marinated in the same marinade and topped with the same churraso sauce. My steak was cooked perfectly. Her octopus was perfect as well. 

I just have to say - whoever runs the fryer at this place knows how to fry things. From the Tequenos to the Yucca Fries, the fry was perfect, no trace of extra oil, no taste of whatever else was fried before. Master Fryer at Mochica, for sure.

We thought about dessert. The Tres Leches pudding with Pisco whipped cream sounded amazing. 
I gave My Girl the choice of dessert at the restaurant or ice cream at Mitchell's.  She chose Mitchell's. Mitchell's was weird last night. It was Thursday night at 8:30pm and there was no line. There were a few people there, but the place was empty enough that we didn't have to pull a number and we were served right away. I had a cone with Brown Sugar ice cream and my lovely dinner date had a cup of Mexican Chocolate. Because it's hard to drive a standard whilst holding an ice cream cone, we sat in the parking lot eating our dessert and talking.

At the end of our meal, we decided we really liked Mochica and will be back for more, except we weren't allowed to order what we ordered last night. There was so much good stuff on the menu. We have to get new things until we've exhausted the menu.

Not an everyday place for me, but certainly perfect for a nice dinner out. It would be a great place for a date. I don't think it's a particularly good place for kids unless your kid is used to going to restaurants. I don't think I'd take my little ones there.

With drinks (non alc), appetizer, 2 dinners we got out of there for $65. Not something I am able to do all the time, but totally worth it.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Belt! Belt! Ooga Shaka! - Inside the Pua Bean's Brain

My kids and I listen to a lot of music. My ipod is filled with lotsa different music, many genres, many artists in more than a few different languages. My kids sing "Ice Ice baby to go (to go)." They sing "Whoa Whoa Whoa, Jaime's Crying." Pua has even asked me what Maybe's phone number is so someone can call her. I've heard one of the Kiddies talk about her Bitchin' Camero. I've been asked how someone's heart could be on fire, and did Elvira do it? My son has developed a keen hate for Hank Williams (no mom, not the drunk guy again. turn it. turn it.) and an even keener dislike for Morrissey (no mom, bigmouth does not strike again). On the other side of the coin, he frequently asks for Bob Dylan's If Not For You and The Doobie Brothers' Listen to the Music. ... And I know you're going to be jealous, but my oldest knows all the words to Marty Robbins' El Paso.

About a month or so ago The Kiddies and I were really fortunate and honored to be able to see Kumu Mark Ho'omalu and AHA perform their Merrie Monarch routines a few weeks before this year's competition that took place. The Kane danced a hula to Na Palapalai's version of Waiomina. It was really amazing. In part of the hula the dancers shout BELT BELT SHAKA HAT!

Really incredible performance.
Here it is.

So the other day Pua asked me to play "Belt Belt Shaka Hat." It's so rare the younger ones ask to play Hawaiian music so I happily obliged. I played Waiomina, even chanted Belt Belt Shaka Hat at the appropriate time. She started yelling "No, not that. Not the cowboy song. No hula. No hula!!!"

After several minutes of trying to figure out what she meant, I finally discovered that what she wanted was Blue Swede's Hooked on a Feeling, y'know, the ooga shaka, ooga shaka, ooga ooga ooga shaka.

I love 3 year olds, especially her.


Awake! Annoyed! A change!

When I was in the 7th grade we were in the middle of a lesson of some sort, I don't remember. It was in the afternoon and it wasn't religion class, that I remember. My snarky side wants to say we were learning how to dispel the myth of Evolution using the Laws of Thermodynamics as evidence*, or we were learning all about how the electric guitar leads to teenage pregnancy and devil worship. The truth is we were probably in the middle of History or Math or Something.
The Prinicpal came into the classroom and told the teacher he was trying to find a bible verse in the book of Proverbs that dealt with gentle responses curbing harsh reactions. The teacher said whoever found the verse would give the class some kind of points that could be used for treats and such like going to recess 5 minutes early or something. I was the one who found the verse; Proverbs 15:1 - a gentle answer turns away wrath. That verse has stuck with me ever since and I think about it whenever conflict arises.

I hate waking up early. I quite like when I am up early, I just hate the waking up part.
One of the worst ways to take me up in the morning is to annoy me awake. It makes me all cross and sets a really bad tone for the day.

About 6:15 this morning the smoke detector went off. I thought it was a truck backing up. I woke up in a haze being all cross at the stupid truck. Then my little ones started yelling at me to "make it stop." I went into their room and it was the alarm in their room that was freaking out. There was no smoke. Nobody was cooking. There was no fire. Nobody was BBQing outside (who BBQs breakfast at 6:15am on a Thursday?) And no, I didn't get the sound mixed up with the noise for carbon monoxide. I have two irrational fears on which I go overboard in preventing mishaps; one of them is carbon monoxide. We have a separate CM detector and it wasn't chirping at all. (The other fear is SIDS but I guess I don't have to worry about that one anymore because my kids aren't babies anymore and my baby producing days are over).

Anyhow, aside from being annoyed awake and my kids yelling at me, all turned out fine, at least with the smoke detector. For the rest of the morning though, whilst getting ready, every question I asked came out of my mouth as an attack, every answer I received sounded like an accusation. There was no winning this morning.

On my way to the muni stop I decided I didn't want my day to take the grumpy path. I changed the song on my ipod to something a bit more upbeat and peppy. I found that Selected Selecter Selections by The Selecters fit the bill nicely. I went to the little bakery across the street from my train stop, got a cocktail bun and some bad coffee, got on my train and concentrated on making my morning better.

It got better. I got to listen to some upbeat music. I got to catch glimpses of a good looking guy on the other side of the train, then quick put my nose in the book I wasn't reading when we made eye contact.. The train ran smoothly and none of the other passengers were annoying. I got to work, sat outside in the courtyard for a few minutes and prepared myself for the day.

By the time I got to my office, I was no longer annoyed. I was happy to start my work day. Then a friend sent me an email and made my day even better. I was telling him about my new job and that I had an office. He reminded me to step outside every once in a while because I have "too much charm to waste locked in a room." Made my day.

I guess the moral of my rambling is that a gentle word does turn away wrath. The conscious decision to make my day better worked. A gentle approach does work to turn things around.

*side note - I never understood trying to disprove Evolution. I've never understood trying to prove Creation.  One concept is based on Fact. The other is based on Faith. I see no conflict.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sneaky Screen Time

I grew up watching a freaking lot of TV, like a lot, a lot. Like getting the TV guide and highlighting what I was going to watch an reserving the TV for specific time slots by shouting to my family "I get the TV on Friday night at 8pm." This would usually be followed by something like  "Your sister already reserved it. Is it for the same thing?" If it was, then no problem, but if it wasn't, then an argument would ensue. "But she got it last Friday at 8pm. We have to take turns." or "But I reserved it for 'part 2' and I can't miss it" It would usually work out in the end with one of us having to watch whatever it was we wanted to watch on the little black and white TV in my parents' bedroom. Then there were things that were always a standing TV appointment like The Love Boat, Mork and Mindy, anytime The Wizard of Oz came on.

Nowadays we have tons of screens to choose from. One evening in particular I noticed that my 3 kids and I each had some sort of screen under our personal control, be it a phone, an ipad, a computer or the TV. We were all together, but each of us was immersed in our own world free to explore Mimaloo or Ponyville, punch trees with Steve, watch Buffy slay some monsters or play candy crush until our eyes bleed. I try to monitor how much screen time we use. Some of it can't be avoided, but aside from homework, the computer is just a supplemental entertainment machine. With so much to choose from, and that weird feeling that, at least I get sometimes, that I think I'm going to miss something if I turn off the TV, it's hard to slay the screen dragon.

Anyhow, as bad as I am with the TV and other screens being on before dinner, I am super happy and quick to turn off the TV in the evening. Sometimes I turn it back on after the kiddies go to bed, most of the time I keep it off.

Last night I turned it back on. Flipping through netflix I found a movie "Special Correspondents." I have to admit and didn't read the plot summary or anything. I saw the little icon next to the icon for Idiot Abroad and thought "ooh, Ricky Gervais has a new series where he has a special correspondent. I turned it on. I quickly realized I was watching a movie, rather than a TV show. I decided to just go with it and watch the movie.

I'm so happy I did. I like Ricky Gervais stuff. I like the N song he sang on Sesame Street. I love Derek. Some of his stuff is kind of heartwarming. I like that side of him. I don't like everything about him, and my tolerance for his laugh is not so high, but I like a lot of his projects. Idiot Abroad was rockin' but I didn't like when Warwick Davis joined. I don't think Carl needed supervision. I would like to see more of Warwick Davis in another project, though. That would be fun. Ooh, did someone just say Buddy Movie? They could remake Night Shift (the movie with Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton).

Anywhoozle, Special Correspondents was really entertaining. I loved America Ferrera in the movie. She wore the best skirt. I spent a few hours online looking for it. No dice. Here is what it looks like. I want it.

(Spoilers below)
The movie is about these two guys who work for a radio station; one is a reporter, another is a technician. They get sent to cover a civil war in Equador. On their way to the airport they lose their tickets and passports. Rather than go back to the office and take their lumps they decide to hide out and do their reporting in a friend's attic. Of course it all backfires on them and they end up sneaking into Equador, but in the end nobody ever finds out they made everything up and they totally get away with it.

It was a super fun movie to watch; I even cried a little bit. If you see it in your Netflix feed and you want to watch a movie you will super enjoy and won't have to pay close attention to, you should see Special Correspondents.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Festa Time

Yesterday I took The Kiddies to a Festa.

My kids are 1/4 Portuguese on their dad's side. It's important to me that they know where they come from, where they get their traditions, why we celebrate certain traditions, blah blah blah ... Knowing where you came from, being proud of who you are, celebrating your heritage is important. Even though I'm no longer married to that side of the family, my views on culture and history haven't changed. It's important to know one's history. I'm going to make sure my kids know theirs.

Besides, the food is really really freaking good.

So the Festa. Right. Festival of the Holy Spirit. I've heard a few different variations on the story and celebration's origin, and all the main points in the story are the same, it's the details that get a little muddled from storyteller to storyteller. Pretty much, Queen Isabel saved her leftovers to give to the hungry. The King didn't like her to mingle with the poor and didn't want her to feed them. Once he caught her with her cloak filled with bread (or jewels to buy bread, or food of some kind depending on who is telling the story). The King asked her what she was carrying. She told him Roses. He called bullshit because it was Winter and where was she to get roses from? She threw open her cloak and roses tumbled out. I've heard other stories where the Queen is a victim of famine herself and tells God that she'll give her crown jewels to the Church if He'll feed the poor. Just then she saw some ships in the distance filled with wheat and other food staples, enough to feed her kingdom. Whatever tradition you follow, the theme is the same; benevolent queen wants to feed her subjects, mean king says no. She does it anyways and a there's a miracle and people get fed.

There are a bunch of Festas up and down California during this time of year. We usually go to the one in Santa Cruz. Yesterday we went to the Sausalito Festa. There's a parade with Queens from neighboring Portuguese halls with beautiful dresses and amazing capes with long trains. When the parade passes, we join the end of the line and process to the church in the community, then after church, walk back town to the local Portuguese hall for some super delicious food.

I'm certain if you ask 100 different Portuguese Grandmas how to make Sopas, you'll get 100 different answers, but in a nutshell, Sopas is pot roast, really amazing, delicious pot roast served with big hunks of cabbage, crusty stale bread soaked in the jus of the pot roast, served with bruised mint. Really really delicious meal.

Here are some pics from our day.
The Kiddies marching to the parade route.

My Oldest flirting with a wooden 49er
A funky little altar we found on the parade route.

Stale french bread with meat jus and mint


Cabbage, linguica, carrots, sweet potatoes with a buttery, garlic and parsley coating
Free wine. I had the white. It was delicious.

I didn't get a picture of the rice pudding. It was really yummy and lemon-y and had a cinnamon-dusted crown on the top. 

We had a really nice day. We shared a table with a man and his wife. He was from Teceira, Azores but lives now in the central valley. He thanked me for making sure my kids know their dad's side of the family even if I'm not a part of it anymore. It was nice. He also told my oldest that she needed to find herself a nice Portuguese boy to marry now that she's almost out of high school. 

Good day all around. Good food all around. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Beautiful Vogon

So picture this -- a pretty nice scene actually. The trouble is that I think I look really gross in this photo.

This picture was taken at my kid's school carnival recently. I was there that day with my two youngest kids. My 8 year old was doing whatever it is that 8 year old boys do with a pocket full of quarters and an all-access wristband. My 3 year old, after doing the cake walk and ring toss 50 times each,  decided to take a short break in the shade. Sitting in the spot for just a few moments was really peaceful. The Pua Bean was stretched out on the bench, with her head against my leg. I was sitting with my hand on her tummy. We were both in our own little peaceful worlds, staring off into space and being perfectly content with our places in the universe, both simultaneously ignoring each other and being comfortable in each other's company.

I asked someone sitting next to us to take our picture. She did. When I looked at the picture, I was really disappointed that I didn't quite capture the moment I was feeling in my head. In my head I felt at peace, beautiful. In the picture, I look like Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz. I was so disappointed.

Then I thought about it more. I became less disappointed with the picture and more disappointed with myself for hating the picture.
I have been through a lot this year, and this picture sums it up in really great way for me.

I did not grow up struggling with my weight. I wasn't a chubby kid. I got fat the way a lot of women do; I got married, had babies and relaxed.
After coming out of the haze of an unexpected and unfortunate traumatic divorce I decided that weight needed to come off.  In the last 8 months I have lost 60 pounds. I have 40 more to go. This picture shows that I'm making progress.

This picture also shows something unfortunate about weight loss that I hadn't anticipated: stages.

Have you ever tried to grow out a really short haircut? Some weeks your hair looks great and some weeks your hair looks really really bad and nothing helps, not 100 bobby pins, not even a headband. Dramatic weight loss is like growing out your hair. I don't know how my body decides where fat should disappear from and when. I don't know how my face and waist could look so different but my butt stay the same. Weight loss doesn't happen proportionally across one's body. It happens over time in strange intervals and in uneven places. It's not at all like "Growing Up Skipper" where I could rotate my arm and all my curves would fall into place.

I need to look at this picture and see how far I've come, rather than how far I still need to go.  I need to realize that I will pass through this stage, and sooner or later, as the weight loss progresses, I'm going to go through more stages. I just have to remember that a stage is temporary.  I'll get through it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Welcome now my friends to the show that never ends

Related Posts with Thumbnails


Nice Pictures - Where'd you steal them from?

Some of the pictures in my blog were taken by a photographer called Julie Michele. Some of the pictures were either taken by me or someone I know. Some of the pictures were ripped right from the internet, mostly from google image searches from photographers to whom I may or may not give credit.

Rest assured I make no money from any of it.