Cooking Dinner to Begin A New Week


I had a really good weekend. Saturday we were at the beach and I also went on a shopping spree. Sunday we went to a birthday party for my girlfriend’s daughter, ran errands, and then it was time for dinner. I have been going out for dinner more lately – just because there is no time to cook! Luckily Max leaves us dinner often too – but that was not the case this particular Sunday.

I saw some wonderful looking frozen tacos at Trader Joe’s Grocery the other day that we almost picked up, but I did not want to visit yet one more store before heading home. Instead I picked up the ingredients to do the cooking myself. Okay- for those of you who do not know cooking is not my favorite thing to do. I can make a few choice dishes that are great, but everything else is warmed up frozen food. I know how to make tacos- I just forgot how good I actually can make them!

While the kids worked on homework I started browning meat, making rice, and warming up refried beans. By the time the little chefs joined me I was placing the taco shells in the oven and they assisted with shredding white (Swiss) and yellow (cheddar) cheeses. Matteo has never eaten a taco- his ingredients included ground meat (not seasoned), white rice and white cheese. He loved it! Yes, my son is finally eating Mexican food – this was a day for the record books. Malina’s tacos were with seasoned meat and yellow cheese. She had a side of white rice and black refried beans – she ended up eating three tacos. I additionally included lettuce and taco sauce with my tacos along with the sides- I also had three along with a pear cider. The kids sported CapriSuns (fruit drinks).

When I asked Malina what she thought of my tacos compared to the tacos that we usually eat on Tuesdays at a local restaurant she said that my tacos were better because I don’t know how to cook and I put a lot of work into it. Matteo interrupted her and said “Mama knows how to cook pasta”. Bless his soul for saying I know how to cook- I do, I really do (sort-of)… I just don’t have the time to explore it all!! Besides luckily it is not necessary for me to cook in my house because I have Max, who loves to cook, and is really good at it!! But for this one Sunday I did do the cooking and a pretty damn good job at it if I do say so for myself.

my dinner

(day 287)


Saturday at the Beach

Our weekends have changed recently. We now spend Saturday’s at the beach for volleyball practice when we can. While Malina plays volleyball Matteo and I hang out. Yesterday we walked down to the shore and I let him put his feet in the water after he rolled up his pants. He was having so much fun I started snapping photos of him with my phone.

As Malina’s lesson ended the girls went down to the shore- so did Matteo and I. The waves were rushing up quickly and the next thing I knew his shorts were wet. I decided whatever and let him enjoy the water. Malina wanted to get wet too – I let her. You never know when your kids will be so wet that they need a change of clothes so I keep extra clothes in my car. I also keep extra swimsuits and towels in my car. Since her lesson was over we all put on suits and enjoyed another hour at the beach with the sun which had finally come out for the day. That was the best part of my day- hanging out at the beach with my kids playing in the waves.

swimming 11

swimming together

relaxing after swimming

(day 286)

The Perks of having a AAA Membership

flat tire

I will admit that this a random post. I came up with the idea glancing at a photo of my old car and I, nicknamed The Speed Ranger, alongside Interstate 5 (which runs across the west coast from Washington to California). My friend Lisa and I were driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles in my Nissan Pulsar that had seen better days. Lisa was driving when all the sudden a flat tire hit us out of nowhere. She pulled to the side and I immediately called AAA (American Automobile Association). Help soon came from Bakersfield. It took awhile, but eventually we were back on the road with a doughnut tire. That was the last long distance trip that I took with that car. The Speed Ranger actually had an unexpected death when I had an accident later that year on my birthday.

Here are some other perks of having a AAA Membership

AAA unlocks your car when your keys are in the inside and you are on the outside – my friend Genifer once locked her keys in the car in Kula (Maui) on the Haleakala Crater up in the mountains. In less than an hour she was back in her car.

When your car does not start AAA will use jumper cables to start it – this happened to me numerous times when my old BMW that my parents gave me was near its end! The guy who came over a few times actually ended up buying my car when I sold it.

AAA has DMV service that you can use to register your car each year. That alone is a great reason to have AAA- the DMV is a place to avoid at all costs as the trip can last many hours.

AAA will tow your car to a mechanic if it stops working or never starts working. Yes, I used this service last year when my car randomly stopped as I was going to pick up the kids from school! That day it was a complete bummer since we were originally on our way to the amusement park. At least it happened near home instead of an hour away!

AAA has a full service travel agency – we have used their travel agency a few times to book flight, hotel and car packages including our wedding/honeymoon package to Maui – great deals.

I will never let my AAA Membership lapse!

(day 285)

Inside Alcatraz


The views from Alcatraz are amazing. The tour is somewhat haunting. I can imagine the inmates sitting in their cells at night hearing all the sounds of nighttime in San Francisco. People in San Francisco really know how to enjoy themselves so there is always a lot of laughing, talking, and music everywhere. Hearing people enjoying life while being stuck inside this prison would have driven me crazy. Alcatraz is the only prison that I have seen, and it is now managed by the National Park Service.

If I would have been sentenced here I would have tried to swim to city. The San Francisco Bay is cold- but it had to be worth it to try. 36 people tried to escape, 2 were successful and they were caught after they reached San Francisco. 5 were never found and it is believed that they drowned in the San Francisco Bay. The swim can range from 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 miles depending on the current of the bay. The prison closed in 1963.

a sign

a cell

On the grounds

golden gate bridge

the city- San Francisco

The view from Alcatraz

(day 284)

Weekend Road Trip: Destination the Grand Canyon

the grand canyon

I have always liked road trips. A few months before I moved abroad to be an “au pair” I was invited on a trip to somewhere I had never been The Grand Canyon. I had flown over this marvel a few times, but had never seen it any closer. I jumped at the opportunity to go.

My roommate Sandra had a visitor from the East Coast staying with us at the time and they had planned to head out that way. Irish David was a very cool guy. He had won his ticket to America via the green card lottery winning an American visa years prior. At the time he worked in New York City at a pub and I loved his awesome Irish accent. I am glad that we got along because the three of us spent an incredible weekend in close quarters having fun everywhere we went on that long exhausting trip.

irish David

We must have used Mapquest to lead the way?? Our first stop was Las Vegas. Did I mention that we did not leave Los Angeles until at least 7pm? We arrived to our hotel in Las Vegas around 11pm. We were off to the casinos by midnight. I have never been much of a gambler, but I will admit back in the ‘90’s I used to play a little roulette and of course I enjoyed the slot machines. Free drinks, a little dancing, weekend away, it was awesome. We must have gone to bed around 6am.

I am usually out of bed by 6am- that weekend it was different! By chance we found a place to stay that next evening near the Grand Canyon while we were still in Las Vegas. That place was called the Bright Angel Lodge. I am so glad that it was off season- otherwise we would have had to stay further away.

hoover dam

Leaving in the afternoon we took a break at Hoover Dam before continuing on and reaching the Grand Canyon in the dark.

inside the lodge

We were exhausted when we reached out destination but spent the evening talking and drinking. Waking up in the morning I had the biggest surprise ever. We were only steps from the Grand Canyon and it was amazing. We had a great breakfast and spent time walking nearby trails.

the watchtower

Arriving at the Watchtower lookout we made our way through the 4 story stone building rewarding us with more great views of the Grand Canyon.

Utah sign

Zion National Park sign

On the way home we stopped to take photos after arriving in Utah and visited the incredible Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.

We also saw Lake Powell , Marble Canyon and the Glen Canyon Dam. There was so much to see- especially since we drove around the entire Grand Canyon instead of returning towards home the way we started our journey. Wow, I was so silly back then!! Luckily my friends were on the same page.

dinner time

Our last stop was at Caesar’s Palace Casino in Las Vegas for dinner in the arcade (mall). I enjoyed a little dinner and a few drinks at one of my favorite spots. After dinner we had to drive home and eventually arrived there in the early hours of the next day. Somehow I awoke from the long crazy weekend, took a shower, brushed my teeth, and went to work with a little more than 4 hours of sleep. Looking back I would have done that road trip again over and over just as we planned, but next time I would opt for a little more time in each spot to settle in a bit before moving on.

Grand Canyon sign

Welcome to Arizona

Sandra, I miss you & our crazy road trips! I hope to make it back East in the next few years with my family and we can go somewhere fun in Massachusetts with our families this next time.

(day 283)

The One Lovely Blog Award


Imagine my surprise last week when I was graced with the One Lovely Blog Award by no other than the lovely Sherri Matthews!! Sherri, thank you, thank you, merci, merci, grazie, grazie mille for this award! You are such a kind person and I have enjoyed getting to know you through your most lovely blog called A View From My Summer House. If you have not seen Sherri’s blog you should go check it out.

As a blogger it really means a lot to me to receive awards from the WordPress community. It means that someone has stopped to read and enjoy what I have been writing about. I have been posting a little over 9 months now and still wonder what exactly I am doing!! I have written a little bit about almost everything, shared photos from my travels, and have told everyone probably too many things about my family!

Approaching the 300 day mark of blogging without a day off in a few weeks I actually believe I am worthy of this One Lovely Blog Award, and it is great time to receive this award as I am slowly preparing to stop blogging each and every day. Somehow over the past 9 months I have managed to write a little something or post a photo regardless of all the challenges being thrown my way.

So Sherri- once again- thank you for this award! There are no rules for the award other than to display it on your blog which I am now doing proudly. Have a great week everyone!


(day 281)