When I was a kid my mom never bought good cereal. We never had Captain Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Count Chocula , Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms. Instead my mom made huge batches of healthy granola chock full of nuts and dried fruit.
I did managed to tried all the above at someone elses house, or even trade a handmade baked good for a individual size box of Sugar Pops (my fav) that you could make a bowl out of the box and pour the milk right into the wax lining. And while they were tasty, once I had my own money and was buying groceries, the hefty price never seemed worth it.
Fast forward 40 years and I am my mother except I dont handmake copious amounts of granola, that would seem silly given all the handmade granola options at the store. I do stick to the healthy or boring cereal for my family, Raisin Brand, Cherrios (plain), Special K and Rice Krispies. Much to my kids disappointment I wont buy them crappy sugar laden cereal either. Although, they are a resourceful bunch and are able replicate any chocolate cereal by floating the boring cereal in chocolate milk.
I did given in recently however when I saw this box of Quisp of cereal in our local grocery. I loved the retro box and the non-sensical comic on the back for a little light reading with breakfast. I also appreciated it didn’t even try to claim to be full of vitamins and minerals making it an integral part of my daily nutrition but it would give me “energy”. It was unapologetically full of sugar. I did have a bite, and am afraid my adult taste buds couldn’t appreciate its simple goodness. I bought two boxes. They didnt last long with my 4 kids (the 14 and 16 could have eaten an entire box, no probs). They thought it was yummy and that these commercials were HIGHlarious.
Traveling with four kids is not easy. I have to say its is physically a lot less taxing these days since everyone has given up diapers, naps and special meals. However, traveling with a grouchy middle-aged man, an 8-year-old girl and 3 boys with extremely different interests is exhausting. Some days you just have to put the guidebook away and spilt up and do nothing or at least nothing you traveled half way around the world to do. Today was rainy in Sydney. GM had a business meeting, and Henry was grumpy, better left to his Facebook. Georgie, Cal, Owen and I went for a walkabout as they say here. First we went to Guylian, a upscale chocolate bar from Belgium, not an Aussie experience, but yummy nonetheless. After entirely too much chocolate we took a walk over to the Opera House and I took some requisite photos of the kids on the steps. They were not much in the mood for photo taking in the rain so we hightailed it over to the Botanical Gardens where the kids just ran around ignoring the beautiful planting, sculptures, and historical buildings. They found a tree and managed to spend almost a half an hour playing some game while I read. It was a good time had by all.
I finally got this photo of the kids. Now I don’t even try to entice them with hot cocoa, I am negioting with each one separately, and this year Henry served as an agent for Georgie. I sent this photo out with our well wishes and a satirical jab at the traditional annual letter that many people send, highlighting the admirable accomplishments of family members.
The O’Connells are all well, a year older and continuing to love life in Argentina.
Best thing that happened this year for everyone: Henry says his 300 foot free dive in a blue hole was his highlight. Callum got a voice gig “Senior Chirizo” on a Simpsons’ episode debuting next season (more on that later). Owen says playing catch with Nick Swisher was the best thing for him. Georgie is pleased as punch that American Girl Doll is using her likeness for the Girl of 2011, Georgiana, Expat girl. Elizabeth said turning weekly card games into a fulltime and lucrative job is her proudest accomplishment and GM remembers fondly finishing the marathon. Its been action packed around here.
Surprisingly, we received many responses congratulating us on our various activities. Nice to know our friends think there is potential. Some were surprised at Henry’s diving skills after only 2 summers at dive camp. One friend remarked that they knew voiceovers were the future and others were perplexed by my ability to turn a drinking game into a career. But perhaps the most wonder was reserved for GM completing a marathon. Many remarked how impressed they were that he had over come his neck, lower back, hip, feet (or insert any body part here) problem.
It was a joke. In Latin America the holidays are open season on pranks, jokes, just like April Fools’ in the States. When you are punked, they yell “Inocentes!”
I know in some circles it’s considered politically incorrect to patronize Starbucks. Give me a pass for my uncoolness and chock it up to being a expat who gets to enjoy her lowfat decaf Carmel Machiatto only in airports and when shopping Stateside with Tonje. Well as you can see below, Starbucks opened a location in my corner of Buenos Aires suburbia today and I came first in something. They didn’t comp me my coffee, but I did get a goody bag with a pretty mug and a coupon for my next coffee.
And while the baked goods do cater to Argentine tastes, my Carmel Machiatto tasted just like the first one I fell in love with in San Francisco almost twenty years ago. That’s the magic of Starbucks for me.
My childrens were duly impressed by my achievement today. Georgie asked if I was going to keep the certificate with my Birth Certificate. The prospect of a Frappuccino comes in a close second to an embassy family gifting us a box of Mac and Cheese every blue moon.
Metropolitan Home or Museum?
I like a good shelter read. Living in Argentina I have very much limited access to good design glossies. Fortunately, the internet is a pretty decent substitute. And I am not talking Lonny... yawn. I am talking interior design blogs that edit out the boring crap and feature beautiful, provocative and sometimes insane interiors. Some of these people are designers, moms and dedicated bloggers (you like making me feel inadequate?) and some are people that have a strong P.O.V due to a related vocation and some are documenting their own home projects. These blogs are human, funny and educational. And while I read a lot of these blogs I could never do what they do, the passion doesn’t run that quite that deep. Need to leave room for rabid political opinions and high carb cooking.
But I thought it would be funny and lazy to once in awhile feature what is a real pet peeve of mine, over stylized interior photos. Stylized to the point of stupidity, to the point of not selling the space, to the point of laughter.
Here we go:
Is that a kleenex box and a spliff?
Too much stuff+faux vintage+chalkboard paint = YUCK
Who needs counter space?
what can you say?
Missed a spot!
Here is a shout out to some of my favorite design blogs that I learn from and laugh with.
Kitchen and Residential Design: Paul knows his shit, has a great passion for mosaic, and has a honest and biting sense of humor
If the lamp shade fits : I dont know what I like more about Raina, her great modern bohemian style or her unapologetic snarkiness
The house that A-M built : I delightfully sweet and funny mom/business woman who was the general contractor on her own brand new family house in Brisbane, Australia
Ugly House Photos : In the same genre as Awkward Family Photos, not really educational but funny!
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It was a week so jammed with friends, food, new places, and beautiful weather I wont even attempt a comprehensive post. A few observations. I think they may have sandblasted and renovated every building in Manhattan. Every neighborhood has been … Continue reading
Every night before I go to bed I have to check Owen’s blood sugar, he is a diabetic. I then visit the other three. I suppose I do it to check and make sure they are safe in their beds. But I also like to remember them this way, totally relaxed and soft and peaceful. It reminds me how much I love them and even though they spend much of their waking hours torturing me with perfectly age appropriate but still incredibly annoying behavior, I still love them more than anything. It also reminds me that tomorrow I can try to be more patient, be more engaged, be more present when I am with them. My children are beautiful and when they sleep they are even more beautiful.
Now to the cruel part..taking these photos. Henry would kill me if he saw this. Georgie actually woke up to avoid the reading lamp I was trying to use for light. Cal and Owen are use to my visits and lights being turned on, so they were none for the wiser. Do you think doing this was cruel?
Its not a long weekend here…but it has been a relaxing one. Yesterday was a usual Saturday of driving around children to different activities and friend’s houses, but GM is quite helpful that way so between the two of us it was manageable. Listened to a lot music and radio news, watched a baseball game (Yankees won! YEAH! and Boston lost:)), watched a horrible loss by the Argentine National Soccer team, made GM dinner and fell asleep reading some short stories Henry needs to be studying for an English test on Tuesday.
Dragged my ass out of bed at 10:30 and have had a cup of coffee with my online newspaper reading. Missed reading Franch Rich this morning, must be on vacation. Not much good news. Here are some fun links for the family.
National Geographic Photos of the Year 2009
Montreal Topiary Garden
Famous Photos in Lego
I don’t know if you can really call these healthy, other than the fact that they are not processed and were made by my loving hands. Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies. I found them on Tastespotting and that site sent me here for the original recipe, its a great baking blog.
Not much can be said except this is a easy straightforward cookie dough that wont disappoint. What I will share is something I do when I make cookie dough. I always double it and I always freeze the dough. Sometimes the task if baking cookies is daunting when you think of having to sit around and be more than passive as the 3 or 4 batches bake. BORING. So I do something I learned from my mom. Take the cooking dough and roll balls of dough and press down to make buttons. Put the buttons on the cookie sheet, fill up the cookie sheet like below and put into the freezer for about 2 hours. Then put the buttons into Ziploc bags. (either all together or in batches in sandwich bags) Return to freezer. Now you have cookies on demand. It allows you to bake a batch for an after school snack and have warm cookies quickly. You make what you need and cant overeat. Or each time you pass the freezer you can help yourself to a button of yummy cookie dough!
As Cal, the regular reviewer, has volleyball practice today, Owen will be stepping in to give the kid’s review today. He is a man of few words but his words mean what they say.
They taste like I need another one now. I am not sure if they are brownies in the shape of a cookie or a cookie that tastes like a brownie. I definitely would like to have them again for snack but I would like to see them bigger. I rank this 4 1/2 candy bars. (one candy bar is crap, 5 is the best dessert EVER)
I know I have written a fair amount of posts about soccer on this blog and you might be thinking “enough”. If your only exposure to soccer has been taking you school age kid to a game at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning to the town fields, I don’t blame you. But having lived her for some time now, and already possessing the proclivity to enjoy a spectator sport, I have become a huge fan. For Argentines, its a religion. On those days when the Argentine National Team has a qualifying match, you can go outside and no one is on the streets, no cars, people, nada. Everyone is in front of the TV. When the team scores a goal, you can hear your neighborhood let loose a collective cheer of happiness. There aren’t too many things as good to watch (and fast, 45 minute halves, no commericals, no halftime shows) except maybe a great baseball game.
Here is my favorite goal of Lionel Messi. This was a Copa Americana match against Mexico in2007:
He is only 22 years old, but if he continues to play the way he played this year, he could be an all time great. Fast footwork, eyes in the back of his head, a touch with his shots that is unrivaled and a generous player to boot. He is Maradona without the baggage. From all accounts, he is a nice kid, who still lives with his family who faced adversity as a kid with a growth hormonal deficiency. After years of treatments and surgeries he has come out the other end one of the greatest football players ever.
Here is another amazing goal, its happens so fast but it looks like Messi kicks the ball through the body of the goalie:
Lionel Messi won the UEFA Best football player of the year trophy last night. It could not have gone to a more deserving player and nicer guy. As a parent its great for the kids to have someone like him to look up to. Haven’t had enough, there is always more.
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For just a few days. GM and I (sin chicos) are taking a mini break to the house in Patagonia. We haven’t been since the beginning of February. When we left it was the dog days of summer, when we … Continue reading
There are few things that make me has happy as flowers and fresh flowers in my house make me just plain giddy. Today I went to La Casita (the local florist on the train tracks in my village) for flowers. I was ecstatic to find that spring flowers were in the mix. For the last few months there hasn’t been much to choose from other than chrysanthemums. You would not have known that it was 40 degrees, cloudy and windy today by the look of the colorful bounty that I found at the florist.
My mother always had flowers in the house, lots of them from her amazing rose garden. She had several rules for bringing the flowers inside that she imparted to me.
- My mom didn’t like bouquets per say. She more than often put only one kind and color of flower in a vase. If she used more than one kind of flower they were the same color
- She always put an odd number of stems in a vase
- She never used filler and I remember she had a special hate for baby’s breath
- She never put fragrant flowers near food.
- She always had gardenias in the powder room
- If the stems were ugly she would line the inside of the clear vase with palm leaves
That being said, there doesnt need to be rules about flowers, its really hard to screw them up, they are so beautitful.
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While it may be a ski vacation for the family, the next ten days for me will be full of dressing children, finding missing essentials pieces of equipment and outer clothing, picking up and dropping of kids at various classes … Continue reading
It is not something I am proud of, but I am happy to say I have finish the last installment of the Twilight Quartet, Breaking Dawn.
It should be clear, if you have read any of my other posts, I am not a fifteen year old girl. I am a 47 year old woman with 4 kids, not the demographic these books are targeted for. But I am voracious reader living in Argentina where there are no Barnes and Nobles to pop into and pick up the latest best seller or classic. An afternoon of fondling books and snacking on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the things I miss most about living in the States.
But I am connected to a English reading (not all native speakers, show-offs!) community and we have a book group. Not the typical book group where we all read a piece of literature during the month and meet to discuss the book with someone burdened as the facilitator of this discussion. We just simply share books. Some of the books are beach reads, some are thoughtful and provocative contemporary literature, some are biographical and a little of it is total garbage. However, we all agree that when confronted with either another Paulo Coehlo translated from Portuguese into Spanish (a smidge of foie gras) or less than great literature in English, we go for the bowl of spaghetti. Well, this teen vampire romance series is a really big bowl. Clocking in at 2379 pages, there has to be something compelling in these mediocre books.
I love my flowers in Junin. The climate in Junin is Steppe. It means the step between desert and alpine. So while it is extremely dry in the summer (good for us!) the transitional seasons are rainy and it gets cold in the winter. So roses and hearty perennials do well. There are a lot of trees by the river and we have lots of natural grasses by the lake but the rest of the property is pretty scrubby, think High Chaparral. One thing that is particularly happy here is lavender, which makes me very happy! (and relaxed)
Here are photos of the roses that are in beds on either side of the front door. There are about thirty mature plants. Originally they were all Flame (orange-pink rambler) but we lost several during one especially wet winter. So in additional to the spectacular coral colored roses we have some white Paloma Blanca. These flowers come 2 times when we are here in Patagonia. They are prolific and we have more flowers than vases. The house is full of these flowers.
This is amateur Puppy porn, in that it was my camera that took pictures of these adorable puppies. Our beautiful, complicated, OCD, German Shepherd Osita had puppies on July 11th. She has four beautiful babies. She has been a great mom as they are very fat and happy and she continues to be very protective. I will be sad to see them go. We will keep one. But its not the same as four happy, innocent, gorgeous puppies greeting you as the prance and knock each other over with so much joy.
I was going to write about the presidential campaign here in Argentina that is in full swing now with the elections happening on the 28th of October. However, that piece will have to wait until I have shared this with you.
High School Musical on Ice (nice shoes,dude)
If you are not the parent of a child (most likely a girl) between the ages of 4-13, there is no way you can relate to and understand how disturbing this phenomenon is. Why complicate your life this way? I would strongly suggest to skip this piece all together. I would not want to be responsible for a bad night of sleep. Continue reading