Wednesday, November 30, 2011

on a Christmas wishlist...

It's that time of year again. Christmas wishlist! Here is what I want this year, Santa baby. 

1\\ Number one WANT this year is of course the Kindle Fire. I need! Not only an ebook reader but a tablet. Color and touch screen. Time for the upgrade.

2\\ Battery pack grip. For times when battery life is precious. 

3\\ This amazing Nest Doll Pillow. It's seriously the best ever and perfect addition to my couch. 

4\\ At Home Mushroom Growing Kit. Yeah, that just happened. I need this in my life!

5\\ This beautiful etsy creation-- a lovely blue & gray cowl.

6\\ Double Velvet Hair Bow in Licorice. Simple. It's cute. 

7\\ Omerica Button Plug. Get. In. My. Ears! 

8\\ Don't judge but I'd really like to have my own game for our playstation. My boys play all their Batman and racing games, well, this momma wants to play some Sims. Might be my childhood calling to me. 

9\\ Stocking stuffer?? 1. 2. 3. 4.

What's on your wishlist??

on a belated birthday...

I've come to the realization that I missed my blog birthday. Yes, there's such thing! November 1st, 2009 was when I started this journey of documenting my everyday life, recipes and motherhood joys. It's become very dear to my heart and love doing it :) Happy (belated) Blog Birthday to Calico Tales. Queue: Blowing candles. Cannot believe I've been blogging for two years. Jumping with glee!! ♥A.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

on some recent favorites...

1/ Loving bright red hair in curlymessypigtails! Messy pigtails have been my lazy day attire. It just feels right :) 

2/ Bakedbree-- a new favorite food blog. Lovely desserts like the one above and scrumptious meals as well. Not going to lie, this morning I spent a good twenty minutes paging through her whole blog swooning over every single thing. She also has a personal blog that has the prettiest photography. I love discovering new blogs!

3/ Speaking of swoon...wait, let me just wipe the drool of my chin. Robert Pattinson will forever have my heart. Sorry husband. 

4/ I saw this video on Sometimes Sweet and had to share it. Very sweet.

5/ Not sure the source of this photo but seriously her hair is amazing! This might just be my next hair color :) What do ya think?


Sunday, November 27, 2011

on Thanksgiving...

Here was our Thanksgiving in photos...
Thanksgiving was for lots of food, a house full of the loudest family alive, a little girl in a cute dress, two playful cousins, pumpkin mushroom soup, a big bird, fun in the kitchen with my mother in law, pumpkin walnut biscuits, and many many desserts. More lovely memories to tuck away :)


Thursday, November 24, 2011

on a gratitude list...

In honor of Thanksgiving I thought I'd share what I'm grateful for. I do gratitude lists throughout the year and think it's super important to always look at what you have and cherish it. For me in life I always try my hardest to not take anything for granted. So, here is my list and if you haven't yet already take some time today and think of what your grateful for, it is what the day is all about!

1/ Family. I'm blessed to have married such a perfect man for me. He completes me in every way. And the best part is he is an amazing father, something that I will be forever grateful for! With Sebastian in our lives everything has been so much brighter. Sebastian as a way of making anyone smile. In the darkest days I can always find light and usually that light is Sebastian. I'm indebted to my dad & sister who have been there for me all my life. All three of us have gone through so much together and with them being my only family out in Seattle they mean the world to me. Now here in Philly, I have it made because I have the biggest family I've ever had in my life! My mother in law is a sweet women who is always there to help. She is a hard worker and even though she might not hear it everyday, I appreciate everything she has accomplished and everything she does because any mother would want to be half of what she is. My father in law is a family man who has a huge heart. He has his family in mind every day and I'm thankful for him because this trait carried to his son, my husband. It warms my heart. 

2/ My job. This is one that I try not to take for granted. Even though at times it can be stressful and sometimes at the end of the day my back aches and I can't get off the couch with being so tired but in the end I'm so grateful for what I do. Grateful for the people I work with and how understanding they can be with having a family. Not many people in the retail business have the opportunity to make their own hours to the needs of their family, it's really a wonderful feeling.

3/ Technology. This is how I stay connected with my family & friends back home. Technology makes it easier on my soul to be able to pick up the phone whenever I need to talk to my sister about a rough day or have my dad facetime with us so Sebastian can see him. It truly is an amazing thing we have now a days and so so thankful for it.

4/ A best friend. Tanya, who is very far away but will always be my greatest friend. I'm constantly grateful for this girl. Back when we were younger she was always there when I needed her through the good and bad in my past. I hold on to the memories I have and thinking about them always put me in a good mood!

5/ Thankful for time. Every moment in this world is so precious. 

6/ All the small things. Coffee in the morning, books, all my favorite TV shows like Vampire Diaries, Glee & American Horror Story, my camera, crafty things, a New York trip countdown, two silly boys that do silly things, laughing until my sides hurt, my sewing machine and dark blue skinny jeans. 

Take some time to be grateful for life. Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble. And all that good stuff. Eat good and laugh a lot. I'll be up bright and early at 3am. Keep me in your thoughts :) 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

on chewy mint chocolate chip cookies...

A new discovery! I've seen lots of baking chips in my day but yet to come across these mint chocolate chips.. Mint is on my top list along with Hershey's Cinnamon baking chips. Yummy! Having all these fun baking chips around are nice to jazz up your everyday chocolate chip cookies. My boys like their cookies to be soft and chewy and my favorite recipe is one that I found many years ago on Martha Stewart. 

2 1/4 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups Hershey's Mint Chocolate Chip or any baking chip your heart desires!

It's an easy recipe and with this your get a good two dozen cookies. Plenty for the my boys and a wee bit to share with the family :) 
First I always just start up my oven to 350. In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredient--flour & baking soda; set that aside. In a bigger bowl add the butter and both sugars together. Either use an electric mixer or your kitchen aid like me and beat butter & sugars together until it gets light & fluffy. Slow the blender down and start adding salt, vanilla and eggs. Mix it well. Then start adding flour slowly until all is combined. Last add those chocolate chip gems to the dough and your set! Plop tablespoon sizes of dough on to a greased cookie sheet. 
Bake them until the edges are golden brown and soft in the middle. About 8 minutes. Let them cool but not too much because we all know warm cookies with milk or soy milk in my case are heavenly :) Happy baking!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

on sage popcorn...

Did you ever want to put a different spin on your movie/party popcorn? Well, I'm here to save the day. Go ahead and add some sage next time you pop some popcorn :) It will be a hit. First you need about one cup of fresh sage. Place the sage onto a plate and make sure that they are spread evenly. 
Microwaving the sage is my favorite part. That gentle aroma that it lets off when heated is heavenly. I can't even explain the scent. It's almost sweet. Once it's done in the microwave it should be nice and crispy. 
You can make your popcorn next. I recommend popping kernels on the stovetop instead of using bagged popcorn. This way the flavor of the sage won't be masked by all the butter. If you do use kernels just heat up about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pot. Put a couple kernels in the pot and cover. Once they pop the oil should be ready to dump 1/2 cup of kernels. Let them pop for about 10 minutes. Shake pot back and forth while covered. 
Once you have your popcorn transfer to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil. Lastly take  the sage and crumble over the top. Toss to coat and add some salt to taste. 
There you have it. Sage popcorn :) Perfect for a Holiday party! Enjoy.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

on an update...

For starters, can you believe Thanksgiving is here?! Thursday. Wow. Time yet again seems to whizz by. Thanksgiving is held at my in laws every year. Love the family huddled around at the table laughing and stuffing our faces with yummy food of all sorts. This year I'll be contributing a vegetable tian along with two different desserts. A pumpkin pie spectacular & an apple-cream cheese bundt cake. I know, you want to be part of my family. I don't blame you. 

Black Friday will be soon after. Most of you will be the shopper where as I will be the one in the mall at 4:30am serving liquid crack to the crazy shoppers (you) because I'm nice. Ah, Black Friday and your peer pressure. How I loathe you! I've had a slight set back this week with a lady who I hired and never showed up for her training this week. Yeah, boo on you! A week before the holiday season, really people? Well, what are you going to do? I was bummed and it's going to be bit tough with either finding another person or just trying to make it work. It.Will.Be.Alright. 

I've started a new book. Matched by Ally Condie. I just started and hooked already! It's about this "Society" were Officials decide everything. Where you work. What you eat. Who you spend the rest of your live with. And even when you die! Crazy right? The main character Cassie has her matching ceremony and finds out she is to be matched up with her best friend Xander. Perfect, well until she notices another guys face show up in the blink of an eye! Who is it Xander or Ky? Does she follow what the Society says is right or goes down a road that no one as ever gone? My kind of book. Best yet, it's a trilogy :) What are you reading?

Last Friday I had a lovely Twilight Marathon sleepover at my place with some girls. We ate ourselves to death with all the appetizer I had. We watch the movies, giggled and goofed around. Although, not going to name any names but there was someone that fell asleep and didn't even finish New Moon. CoughAshleyCough. But I don't judge. A night of just girls. Something I desperately needed.
Speaking of Twilight...I went to see Breaking Dawn Part 1 with Ashley Friday night. I am speechless. The best of all of them and overall the best movie I've ever seen in my life. I know what is a serious statement but I am not even kidding you. The whole time I was in awe. Ashley and I kept looking to the side at each other with wonder. I think after the movie was over and we starting out of the theater both of us were in shock. "OMG that was soooo goo0o0o0od" was said more than a dozen times each. I beg you go see it!

Also made amazing Mint Chocolate Chip cookies after I discovered Hershey's Mint chips at the grocery early this week. They are heavenly. Sebastian and I inhaled way too many of them together on the couch last night, my butt grew but I don't care. It was a sweet bonding moment :D


Saturday, November 12, 2011

on some orange chicken...

Early in the week I made some bang bang orange chicken. Yes, that just happened. Bang bang. Anyways moving on. I love orange chicken. Or sweet in sour chicken. It almost always is what I order off of our Chinese take-out menu :D So there I was wondering what to cook for the week and orange chicken popped in my head and there ya go. I love sitting and thinking about things to make for the up incoming week. It's really fun. At least for me.

2lbs of chicken breast 
1 1/2 cup corn starch 
1 cup panko bread crumbs 
2-3 eggs 
salt & pepper
oil for frying

orange sauce 
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar 
2 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon zest of orange
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoon chopped green onion
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
2 tablespoons water

Before I start anything I always like to salt & pepper chicken breast right away. That way the chicken can have that time to marinate in the salt & pepper. Next I set up my batter station. If you have a tray of any sort use that! I have a couple plastic serving trays that I love to use to breading  things. Easy clean up and less dishes. 
This part can get messy. I advise you wear your apron. Beat 2-3 eggs in a bowl. Dump about 1 1/2 cups of cornstarch and about one cup of panko bread crumbs. Now if you've never used panko, your missing out! I love panko bread crumbs. Most grocery stores have them right there with all the rest of the bread crumbs or also at time this like to hide them in the "Asian cuisine" section. I like panko for how light it is yet gives things a lovely crunch. Perfect for this dish! 
Time to cut up chicken breast into cubes. 
Breading is not fun. Honestly dislike it a lot. But really in the end it's so worth. Before you start grab your frying pan and fill it with some vegetable oil to heat while you bread. Take the cubed chicken and first dip in egg, then transfer to coat chicken in cornstarch, then back into the egg and lastly over to the panko. Got that! Egg. Cornstarch. Egg again. Panko. 
Now I don't know about you but I like to bread all my chicken at once and get it out of the way. That way once your done the oil is nice and hot and ready to fry! I use the frying time to clean up the breading station. Okay, by now I bet you are telling yourself this girl is crazy! Well, that's just how I do things. 
Fry in batches until golden brown. The orange sauce is the last piece. Grab a medium sized sauce pan. Combine the water, orange juice, rice vinegar and soy sauce. Mix it over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, orange zest, red pepper flakes and garlic. Bring it to a boil. 
While it's at a low boil get yourself a measuring cup and put 1/4 cup of water in it. Then add 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Mix this well with no lumps. Slowing stir this into the boiling mixture. This will cause the sauce to thicken. Once all your chicken is all fried put them in a bowl and dump on the orange sauce. Chop some of that green onion for garnish and bon appetite. 
Great over a mountain of brown rice :) Yumm-o!! 
Note: 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes are going to give this dish a little heat. Not overwhelming but for me it's a great balance. A little sweet & and a little spicy. If you don't like things to be spicy I'd downgrade to 1/4 teaspoon. 


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

on pot-pourri...

During the Holidays I love candles! All the warm delicious scents that make your house all cozy. This past weekend I killed my last pumpkin spice candle. Ahhh tragedy strikes again. Here is a little trick to make lovely, and what I like to call, pot-pourri. It's easy and most of the ingredients are right in your kitchen! First you will need some orange peels, cinnamon, cloves & a pot of water.
All you do is peel some oranges (I used about four in my medium sized pot) and then add the rest of the ingredients into the pot of water. For my medium pot I used about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, now if you have cinnamon sticks they would work even better (just didn't have any handy this time) and about a bunch of cloves. Toss everything in the pot, give it a stir & boil. Once the water starts to boil is when you will notice the fragrance of all the ingredients taking over your house. After it comes to a boil just turn the burner down to a simmer and let all this simmer for as long as you like. Ta-Da!
I did this yesterday before I started on my to-do list of cleaning and organizing and I will not lie to you it gave me an extra skip in my step as I was bustling around the place doing this & that. You can even get creative with it. I know I'll be picking up some cinnamon sticks and even some vanilla sticks to add in there. The best part is when your through just leave everything in the pot and use for another day. I like to do all this in a pot that I know I won't be using in the next couple days. A word of caution though, always make sure there is plenty of water in the pot because eventually water does evaporate and then you'll have burn crisp orange peels :)
It's a wonderful way to greet guest when you have your holiday parties this season :) Thanksgiving is only 15 days away!!


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

on bits + pieces...

 Bits + Pieces...

1. Sebastian hiding in the laundry basket in the morning.
2. Blueberry bagel with butter & coffee. 
3. Surprise. Hubby working from home :) 
4 & 5. A cat snuck out to watch the birds...and later I locked her in the neighbors apartment. Long story short. Neighbors door was open because it's notorious not to shut all the way. I was a kind neighbor & went to close it for them when getting Sebastian of the preschool bus and who tip-toed inside unnoticed. My cat. She was in there for almost four hours sitting by the front of their door meowing. Poor thing. 
6, 7 & 8. A closet before & after photo. Hooray for organizing & easy dollar store bins!
9. BLT's for lunch
10. apple for apple pie :D
11. orange chicken for dinner. To. Die. For. And I'm sure my butt grew but I don't care!
12. an acquired shelf from the momma in law thanks! Now my wonderful kitchen appliances have a home (instead of sitting on the ground in that corner there, yuck).
13. a little sicky boy (fever again with a cough, doctors tomorrow) playing on the Ipad. 
14. annnnnnd GLEE! My favorite show is on in 10 minutes. You like my nifty Glee paperweight. Yeah, someone special gifted me with that gem. Swoon. Gotta Go!