Illuminating Stella

Archive of ‘Food & Wine’ category

Santa Barbara Getaway

We took a fun two day road trip to Santa Barbara this week. The weather was chilly, but absolutely gorgeous coupled with the views. We drove up Tuesday to the Santa Ynez Valley, stopping to get some yummy sandwiches in Santa Barbara at South Coast Deli so we could picnic at the first winery. It ended up being way too cold to eat outside, so we settled for a picnic in the car. This did not detract from Stella’s great enjoyment of her first Banana/Nutella/Peanut Butter Sandwich. If we ever need to bribe the kid in the future, this might do the trick. We stopped at Firestone, Zaca Mesa and Andrew Murray and then went into Los Olivos downtown for a bit. After checking into our hotel we had dinner at the Firestone Brewery. The next morning, New Year’s Eve, we waited for the ice to defrost off our windshield (Brrr!) and headed to the Santa Barbara Zoo.  We had such a nice time at the Zoo, it’s a really beautiful property with ocean, mountain and lagoon views throughout. We especially loved the Giraffes, enjoyed a Dinosaur Story Time and a fun Train Ride around the zoo. There is also a kids playground with a hill that the kids ride cardboard sleds down that was a big hit with Stella.  We look forward to visiting this zoo again. Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!

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Sofie’s 2nd Birthday at Goofy’s Kitchen

Stella was thrilled to celebrate her friend Sofie’s 2nd Birthday at Goofy’s Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel. Just waiting in the lobby was exciting, there was a cool convertible the girls loved “driving” around when they weren’t just dancing and running in circles. Before going inside they got to meet and hug Goofy himself. We had a nice size group, as Sofie was also celebrated by her parents, grandparents and another friend Lulu and her Mom. The birthday girl was wearing an adorable Little Mermaid Tee, a Sea-Foam Green Tutu and a crown (naturally). Once inside we all sat at a nice big table and helped ourselves to some buffet lunch. The buffet is definitely a kids dream come true. It’s filled with things like PB & J Pizza, Mac and Cheese Pizza, every dessert imaginable, Mickey Mouse Waffles….you get the gist. The main excitement for the girls was the characters who came by to visit during our meal. We got visits from Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale the Chipmunks, Baloo from Jungle Book as well as Princesses Mulan and Jasmine. All in all, the three girls did really well with all the excitement. Stella said, “I want to do again” and “I want Goofy” about 25 times until she passed out on the drive home. Happy Birthday Sofie!

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Currently……

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Eating: John has been barbecuing some great meals on the wood grilling planks I got him for his birthday. I found them at Sur La Table, I got him cedar, hickory and maple planks, plus a plank saver to help preserve the planks. He has in fact been perfecting a bacon wrapped pork loin on them. We try to keep our gifts for each other in the super affordable range these days. I got the three planks and the tray for around $25. Turned out to be a great bang for the buck gift, he was pleased and is happy playing with them. Gifts for him are really hard, especially for under $25.

Listening to: Sirius XM radio. We actually got a new car a few weeks ago. I finally succumbed to the SUV thing and said auf wiedersehen to my VW. So far I’ve been really happy with the car. We got a smaller crossover. I feel a lot safer driving Stella in it. She can ride in the middle of the backseat because the car has five car seat anchors. Anyway, we got a month trial of XM radio. So far I’m not really impressed, seems like most of the stations only have license for a lot of B side music and covers of hits. I love the idea of an 80’s hit station, but I want to hear stuff I remember. I also hoped for a good station with toddler music (since I really don’t want to download or buy that stuff) but only can find annoying Disney Teen type music that I really hope Stella never loves. Talk radio has never been my thing, but I am going to keep playing with it and see if I like that. Of course there are like 40 sports channels which is 100% not of interest. So far I am doubtful we will subscribe.

Reading: My book club met last week to discuss Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Thurston. I really liked the book, we all did and we had a great discussion. I also found out it was made into a movie in the 80’s by Oprah and starring Halle Berry. It’s on YouTube. We settled on A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki for our March meeting. It just came in the mail, so I will be starting that soon.

Obsessing Over: The Cat. Still. He’s been all over the spectrum since I last wrote about him. Some days he seems pretty okay, eating, moving around and pretty happy to be hanging out with us. But we have had some pretty tough days too, where he seems very low. Last week I was thinking he seemed pretty bad, so we cancelled our trip to San Francisco. We were supposed to go Friday to Monday to visit my cousins and take Stella on some SF adventures. However, it just seemed not right to leave the cat for four days, even if we arranged two check-ins per day. We got him another B12 shot and some appetite stimulants on Thursday and they seem to have done him some good. I am dreading the decision that is coming at some point. He’s been such a good buddy for so long now.

Watching: Just started Season 2 of House of Cards. The first episode was kind of a bummer, seems like killing off a lead character/protagonist is the thing on shows now. We also watched Dallas Buyers Club which was very good, though stressful and somber. Not surprised it has several Oscar nominations, especially for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.

Celebrating: We found Princess Jasmine! Stella’s first Little People set was Jasmine and Aladdin many months ago. We lost Jasmine shortly after, I was pretty sure at Thai Gourmet so I never hoped we’d find her. I have almost bought her another set many times, but we still have Aladdin (along with many others now) and don’t need two of him. Well last night John and I moved the couch out to vacuum behind and lo and behold there was Jasmine (along with a few other lost toys and crackers). Stella started shrieking “Jasmine, Jasmine” who has been kept alive in her heart all along thanks to a Disney Alphabet book our neighbor gave Stella. She has never even seen the movie. The rest of the night she kept bringing Jasmine over to me and saying “Jasmine, Mama”. It’s pretty amazing when you think about how good her little memory is.

Loving: Stella has started singing. Her cousin Genna was over and was singing and I think something just clicked for her that she should too. It is really cute, she’s just getting the first line or two of a song and then humming and then dancing along. She gets almost shy after a minute and makes a cute little smirk as she freezes up. This is coupled with lots and lots of dancing. Her energy level is through the roof.

Dancing and snacking at the park. She loves her cheddar bunnies!; “I want bunnies” at least twice a day.

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Ready for the Annual Belmont Shore Chocolate Festival! Her second time and this time she was actually able to sample, she is already quite the lover. Last years post pretty much summed up the event already so I didn’t take pictures this year and just focused on the chocolate and visiting with my friend Jen who was in town and joined us. Jen also gave Stella this adorable jumper with tiny heart buttons.

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