FoodieLicious Summer

One cool aspect of raising kids is introducing them to the tastes of your own childhood as well as your own favorite foods that you love. This can be both an exciting and frustrating experience! How can your kid not love what you love?! And how gratifying when your little one becomes your Mini-Me by adoring your favorites.

Also, (some) parents feel obligated to introduce more 'exotic' foods to their children, bit by it, to expand their eating repertoire. Let's face it, only eating out at places like Luby's gets old really quick. It was a grand day in our family when we realized we could finally take our kids to an Italian, Mexican, Greek, any Asian (Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese so far) or all-seafood restaurant and they would eat at least one item from the menu and love it! (Next to try--French and German fare!) I had a friend in Austin who used to pack PB & J sandwiches in her purse for her super-picky kids when they ate out at restaurants, even ones with kid-friendly menus. This was before I had kids myself, and I fervently hoped that I would never have to do the same. And I haven't, because we quickly learned that although it can take some time to acquire new tastes, kids will do so with some encouragement.

Here we present a visual tour of some fun culinary tastes we and our kids have experienced from the past few months:

Dylan's Candy Bar, Houston, Texas, May 2010: Candy Bars sampled included Lemon & Ginger White Belgian Chocolate (Carys), Cookies & Cream Belgian Chocolate (Thalia), Dark Raspberry Belgian Chocolate (Melissa), Caramel Belgian Chocolate (Dylan)

Flaming Saganaki Cheese at Yia-Yia Mary's Greek Kitchen, Houston, Texas, May 2010: This is not my actual pic, although this is indeed what the halloumi looks like; I wasn't fast enough with the camera to capture the dramatic flame tableside! I wish I had also captured the look of shock (and momentary fear) on the girls' faces! However, they each tasted the cheese and liked it.

I just had to post this pic! The most adorable Dog Cupcakes homemade by our friend Monica for her daughter's dog-themed birthday party in June! Guests had their choice of chocolate or vanilla pups.

Sandella's Flatbread Cafe, Round Rock, Texas, June 2010: Aloha Pizza
Flatbread pizza, when grilled, was kind of like the matzoh pizza the girls made in pre-school! Definitely going back to try the flatbread wraps.

We just celebrated the Fourth of July with my godparents' family and an absolute cornucopia of Filipino delicacies. The smells and flavors immediately took me back to similar summer parties at their old house, indelibly stamped among my childhood memories. For only the second time ever, my kids ate Filipino barbecue on a stick and adored it! (Because I'm too lazy to make it at home of course.) Too bad we were too busy eating to take our own glamorous macro pics of the food, which included the BBQ pork, empanadas, suman, embutido, fruit salad, bistek tagalog, siopao and ube cake! Some of these I hadn't tasted in years.

We also enjoyed good, old-fashioned American breakfast-food-for-lunch at Ol' South Pancake House in Ft. Worth during the star-spangled weekend. It's a restaurant that is totally frozen in time, early 80s decor and all, and the menu is all comfort food. (Thalia took some excellent pics, but now she's lost her digital camera so we'll just have to use our imaginations about how large and fluffy the pancakes were.)

Of course, we're only half-way through summer, and our more exotic culinary challenges await during our upcoming vacation! We have quite a bit of beach time coming up, so perhaps some seaweed or fruits de mer in the near future?


Trash to Treasure: Altered CDs

If you hate to throw anything away that could be useful later, like I do, then you might already have a stack of old CDs sitting around waiting to be reborn! Back in the day when AOL used to send me a CD every week, I would toss the whole shrink-wrapped envelope in the trash, never even opening it. But now, I know at least one thing you can do with old CDs--create some art! Altered art, to be exact.

Altered art, for those non-crafty types, is simply art created by altering something else you already have. Some people, those who don't have boxes of old stuff lying around, have to cheat and actually buy stuff to alter. Ha! We've got lots of stuff around the house, thanks in very large part to having kids who like to make stuff and from being a Girl Scout leader since 2000. There's no such thing as trash ! Only future art projects! Altered art is nothing new either, as crafty folks from years past have always done this. Altered art is frequently made using mixed-media techniques.

My project of the day was to use up some of the old CDs (some containing old software or old digital images or music or free ones sent in the mail) and create altered CDs. I took an 11 year old software CD and turned it into a photo collage altered CD to send as a thank you to Thalia's godparents. They recently invited her to spend a week at their home, where she had an awesome time! I used some of the pics I took when I dropped her off at the Purple Cow in Fort Worth for the CD:

I was so tickled by the results that I made another one, also a thank you for our friends who recently treated us to an afternoon of painting pottery and ice cream to celebrate Carys's birthday!

I just need to cover each CD with Mod Podge to protect the collage. I may also add more embellishments, like some old ribbon, buttons, etc. I am on a roll now! So if you've got some old CDs around your house, you might want to give altered art a try. Imagine the possibilities! Add a ribbon hanger and it's a tiny wall-hanging or Christmas ornament! Slap some magnet tape on the back and it's fridge decor! Create a mobile of family pics to hang in your office! You can even decorate both sides of the CD.

But if you're not so inclined, would you mind giving me your old CDs?!