Sunday, November 13, 2011

Easy, Healthy, & Delicious Breakfast

OK, so I rarely make an entire meal from scratch. But I do try to make all our meals healthy. Breakfast is particularly challenging because we are usually rushing to get to school on time (typically failing in that endeavor) in the face of a four-year-old's daily protests against totally mundane and completely necessary morning tasks, i.e. putting clothes on, using the potty, eating, walking out the door, and climbing into the car.

Consequently, it is of epic importance that I keep breakfast preparation simple and quick. The following idea falls into that category very nicely.

If I have the time, I juice up enough oranges for two 8-ounce glasses - one for my son and one for me. Nothing like drinking freshly-squeezed O.J. (or, as we call it, "sunshine") first thing in the morning. Otherwise, pre-queezed organic O.J. does just fine.

Before firing up our little Krups "sunshine" maker, I pop a couple frozen blueberry waffles into the toaster oven and warm frozen organic blueberries and raspberries with a touch of organic maple syrup on the stove top. 

Then I slice the crisp and warm waffles with my indispensable kitchen shears (best cooking tool ever), dress with plain organic yogurt, and top with berry compote. Tasty, quick, nutritious. Done and done! Bon appetit!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Fun* - Better Late Than Never

Saturday, November 12

Altadena, Eaton Canyon Nature Center: Annual Plant Sale for San Gabriel Mountains Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, 9-2
Los Angeles, Getty Museum: Many activities for families, throughout the day
Los Angeles, Children's Book World: Concert, 10:30
Los Angeles, Craft & Folk Art Museum: CRAFTlab Workshop: Wired Up, 12:30-2:30
Downtown (Little Tokyo), Japanese American National Museum: Free crafts and activities all day, 11-4

I will post more throughout the weekend. Thanks for checking in!

* Please check hyperlinks for details and to confirm activity. Some things occasionally get cancelled for various reasons.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hankering for a Pear Galette

So I did a little searching online. Part of my goal, too, was to use puff pastry from Trader Joe's idling in the freezer for the past month. Never baked with it before. Truthfully, was equally intimidated and intrigued and enticed by it. Odd, I know.

Anyhoo, I also longed to make something interesting with a bag of organic pears and assortment of other compatible ingredients.

My guys are both asleep, it's daylight savings evening . . . I gained an extra hour and I'm a night owl any way . . . therefore it only makes sense that I should savor that windfall of time with a little fall baking.

The recipe I chose to use as my base guide is from Woman with a Wisk blog. I admired her simple, unfussy approach to something that I've always wanted to try but never thought I'd be any good at.

That slight fear didn't deter me from kicking up the stakes a notch - inspired by a recipe for Pear-Ginger-Raisin Muffins in one of my all-time favorite cookbooks (really a bakebook), Once Upon a Tart.

I actually love (even crave) lots of ingredients in one thing (i.e. cakes, pies, sandwiches, pasta, etc.). I know many folks eschew that concept and prefer less to more. But, for my lusted-after galette, I was aiming to make an earthy, fall-like, rustic pastry that almost eats like a meal.

On I proceeded. Additional ingredients included in my creation are:

A light dusting of ground coriander; at least a teaspoon (probably 2 or more) of cinnamon; pinch of powdered giner; handful of organic raisins; and a smattering of tiny crumbled crystallized dried ginger bits mixed into the sliced organic pears.

I also sprinkled cinnamon along the folded edge of the galette (after I brushed with egg mixture), as, I am of the mind that, the more cinnamon the better.

Aside from above variations, I followed the Woman with a Wisk recipe exactly, making two galettes, since I had so many pears and two frozen puff pastry sheets.

One before baking:

And after:

Not bad for a first try*. And was relatively easy! The kid and hubby are going to love it! (In fact, would be a fun project to take on with my 4-year-old.) I'm enjoying a small sample tonight, complemented by a cup of 2-bag chai tea steeped with lots of cinnamon sticks: fall flavor explosion!

*Practical baking tip: my galettes turned out to be overly juicy/runny. To lessen that, I slit a little hole into the side of each one and carefully tipped it on its side over the sink to drain. I will be serving these in the morning and didn't want them to be soggy by then.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

There's Snow Up In Them Thar Hills!

And Mountain High in Wrightwood (about 90 minutes from LA) is now partially open for business. Most lifts and areas of the park are still closed but it shouldn't be long for those to become operational too.

Plus, the drive up is supposed to be (I've never been but plan to go this winter) beautiful.

Hooray for Winter!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Free Concert for Kids in Los Feliz This Afternoon

Dragonfly DuLou is hosting Dan Zanes, AKA "The King of the Family Music Scene," today at 4:00 pm. It's free!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Weekend Happenings

Friday, October 28

Moorpark, Underwood Family Farms: Fall Harvest Festival (through 10/31), 9 - 6
Santa Ana, Santa Ana Zoo: Boo at the Zoo (also on 10/29 & 30*), 5:30 - 8 pm
Topanga, Theatricum Botanicum: Theatricum Bootanicum, 4 - 10 pm
Irvine, Tanaka Farms: Pumpkin Patch (through 10/31), 9 am - 6 pm (9-3 on 10/31)
South Pasadena: Halloween Spooktacular (free), 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Griffith Park, Live Steamers: Halloween Ghost Train (through 10/31), 7 - 10 pm

Saturday, October 29

Griffith Park, Los Angeles Zoo: Boo at the Zoo
Downtown LA, Convention Center: Green Festival, 10 - 7 (also on 10/30*, 11-6)
Pasadena, Vroman's: Vroman's Annual Halloween Party (stories, trick-or-treating), 10:00 am
Los Angeles, Skirball Cultural Center: multiple family events, (also on 10/30*)
Los Angeles, LACMA: Tim Burton Closing Weekend Events
Los Angeles, LAPD Northeast Division: Open House (scroll to bottom of page)
Los Feliz, Franklin Elementary: Franklin Fall Festival, 1 - 6
Silver Lake, Ivanhoe Elementary: Ivanhoedown, 1 - 8
Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum: Family Drawing Hour, 3:00 pm
Silver Lake, Rose Scharlin Nursery School: Halloween Hullabaloo, 4 - 8 pm
San Pedro & Wilmington: Happy Harbor Halloween, 12 - 3
Culver City, Star Eco Station: Enchanted Green Hallow's Eve (also on 10/30*), 12 - 6

Sunday, October 30

Pasadena, MakeSpace ARTS: Children's Halloween (not scary) Art Party (free), 3 - 6

*See above listings for events that go through the weekend and into Monday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ideas for Rainy Day Play

We Angelenos really don't know what to do with ourselves when it rains. And it's especially perplexing for those of us with kids. Where do we take them?! They need to get their ya-yas out somehow. Indoor playgrounds are great but it's nice to mix things up once in a while.

How about a little art? Head over to LACMA, bring your kid's NexGen card (or apply for one), and absorb some culture. NexGen gets kids 17 and under plus their grown-up into LACMA for free to explore permanent collections and certain special exhibitions. Best of all, you can MAKE your OWN ART. The museum generously supplies paper and paint! Check out these masterpieces my 4-year-old created there. He knows more about art than I do (he references Lynda Benglis, whose work he saw at MOCA, and Jackson Pollack), thanks to his talented artist babysitter.

NexGen also entitles you to discounts on art classes and items in the museum shop. Pret-tay, pret-tay amazing! Also, I've got it on good authority that it is possible to find free, 2-hour parking around the museum. Free fun is always good!

Another idea is to go for a dip in a pool. Sound crazy?! Not so much . . . Echo Park Deep is a year-round, indoor city-run pool, located right off the 101 freeway near downtown. The facility offers myriad aquatic activities, including recreational swim, team sports, and lessons - all for reasonable rates.

Or, there's The Natural History Museum, an amazing educational resource for kids of all ages. Check out the new Dinosaur Hall, Spider Pavilion, Hall of Gems and Minerals, Insect Zoo, and more.

These ideas are just the beginning. There's more than to do indoors in our rain-soaked city than we realize. So, go on, get out, and Play in LA!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Green It Up This Weekend!

Green Festival is coming up this Saturday and Sunday (29th & 30th) at the LA Convention Center and they'll have a Kids' Zone for our future environmental stewards. Sounds fun and educational.

A Play Date BORDERing on Perfect

Credit for this play date idea goes to my mama friend, L. She is expert on all things downtown, as far as I'm concerned. And she is the one who introduced me to this fun eating/playing combo at The Border Grill and Bonaventure Hotel - both on Figueroa, connected by a fun little bridge that our kids love to race across to see who wins.

Usually first up is a meal at Border Grill. Happy Hour is pretty hard to beat - excellent options for grown-ups and kids alike, wait staff and management are delightful, and parking is validated (or, if you're feeling really adventurous, take the Metro - up the cool factor with the kids). Can't go wrong with kids bean and cheese tacos, poblano quesadillas & chopped salad for parents, and creative cocktails (with or w/o alcohol) like minty lime cooler or pomegranate lemonade.

Once our little ones have filled their tummies, run around and charmed the employees, gotten multiple tours of the kitchen, and used bathrooms where "you don't have to press the button for the soap, it just comes out automatically," we say our goodbyes, zip up a quick escalator (or elevator) and over the bridge that spans Figueroa, and land on the grassy area at the base of Bonaventure Hotel.

There the kids run their fannies off, plop down on their backs to take in impressive glass pneumatic-tube-like elevators that glide up and down (verrry Blade Runner-esque) the hotel's shiny exterior, and chat with the guys washing sidewalks with their super cool, ginormous water machines until they're almost too out of breath to talk.

Last but not least, we and our tuckered tikes mosey into the hotel and hop onto the elevators, which could be a ride at Disneyland for all they care. We go up and down a few times - as much as my motion sick stomach can take - and it is utterly thrilling. Honestly, the views are pretty awesome. On a clear day, you could definitely see the ocean.

Give this a whirl some day. You won't be disappointed!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Homemade Pineapple-Grape Juice

Out of a desire to wean our family off of plastic (to the extent that it is possible), the first steps I decided to take was to juice fresh fruit right here at home.

In small doses, we love pure pineapple, apple, orange, and grape juices and figured they'd be easy enough to make with our juicer and much healthier.

So today I fired up the dusty old Juiceman Jr., sliced a beauteous organic pineapple, and pushed it through the tube. Out flowed a gorgeous, golden, frothy liquid.

I also happened to have on hand a few bunches of homegrown grapes from a friend up the street. I wondered if they would work in the Juiceman. So I plucked the pretty little dark purple globes off the stems and stuffed them in.

Wow! What a luscious combo it turned out to be! Feast your eyes on the photos below.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Need something to do with the kids this weekend?

There's no shortage of interesting, fun, cultural and seasonal stuff to do around town - from ghost trains to spider pavilions, and everything in between! Feast your eyes on this hefty list and find the perfect event for you and your family. Enjoy!

Friday, October 21

Pomona: Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Patch (through 10/31), 10-5
Moorpark, Underwood Family Farms: Fall Harvest Festival (through 10/31), 9-6
Mission Hills, Forneris Farms: Fall Harvest Festival (through 10/31), weekends: 9-5, weekdays: 2-5
Santa Ana, Discovery Science Center: Bug Invasion 2 (through 10/31), 10-5
Woodland Hills: Winter Ice Rink Opens! (through 2/5/12) hours vary
Highland Park, La Casita Verde Preschool: Magical Halloween Party, 6-8 pm
Griffith Park: LA Live Steamers Ghost Train (and on 10/22 & 10/23, 10/28-31) 7-10 pm

Saturday, October 22

Los Angeles, Natural History Museum: Spider Pavilion (through 11/6), 10-5, Flashlight Tour: 5-8:30
Long Beach, Aquarium of the Pacific: Scarium of the Pacific (and on 10/23), 9-5
Pasadena, Kidspace: Pumpkin Festival (and on 10/23), 9:30-5
Los Angeles, Getty Center: Pacific Standard Time Family Festival, 10-6
Hollywood, Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Dia De Los Muertos, Kids' Art Center, 12-4
Los Angeles, Skirball Cultural Center: Dig It! Archaeology Adventures (Sunday too), 10-5
Downtown LA, Disney Concert Hall Children's Amphitheatre: World City: Los Centzontles & Facto Teatro, 11:00 am
Westchester: Halloween Town Fair, 11-5
Los Angeles, Vista Hermosa Park (an un-discovered slice of heaven right near downtown LA): Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" (Sunday too) 1-3
La Canada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens: Harvest Festival, 10:30-3
Echo Park, Echo Parenting & Education Center: Pumpkins for Peace, 4:00 pm

Sunday, October 23

Los Angeles, Kadampa Meditation Center: Kids Meditation Class, 9:30-11
Larchmont: Family Fair, 12-5
Los Angeles, Skirball Cultural Center: Spellbinding Sundays, 12-2

NEXGEN: Free LACMA Membership for 17 & Under + 1 Adult

NEXGEN is the best deal in town. I've heard about it for years and am finally making it happen. Signing up my 4-year-old so he can go and bring me for free! Art for the masses!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Learning to LOVE Brussels Sprouts

Those mini green heads of cabbage never appealed to me growing up. They ranked as low as lima beans in my opinion back then. Now, however, I feel like their number one fan. So imagine how surprised and thrilled I was to discover that my kid gobbles up Brussels sprouts like they're going out of style. I attribute that to the way I cook them - sliced in half and roasted with a light coating of olive oil (you can also try olive oil infused with herbs, especially rosemary), a sprinkling of salt, a pinch of pepper, and a liberal amount of chopped fresh garlic in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Then, voila, out comes an irresistible caramelized, crispy concoction you can eat like popcorn or get fancy-ish and incorporate into dishes like pasta, frittatas, pizza, and more.

Recently I served the fam roasted Brussels with spaghetti and lentils, which provide a nice source of protein. The combo turned out to be a huge hit. It was even good the second day cold, right out of the fridge.

When I cook, I like to build big flavor and to that end I tend to use ingredients like garlic, herbs, vinegar, dressings, etc. For this Brussels sprouts dish, I used chopped onions during the roasting process and that added a whole other dimension of flavor - very tasty! I warmed up pre-cooked, packaged lentils from Trader Joe's on the stovetop and mixed in about 2 tablespoons of pre-made pesto from Whole Foods. I also splashed on a little red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing from Joe's. Before tossing everything together, I coated the cooked spaghetti (note about making pasta: always add a tablespoon of olive oil to the boiling water to prevent the pasta from sticking to itself after it's drained - my sis taught me that trick) with more dressing. I then threw everything into a big bowl, stirred it up, sprinkled on some grated parm and the masterpiece was complete. Easy, healthy, simple ingredients.

Here are some pics . . .

Monday, October 3, 2011

Super Sunday Morning, Part 2 - Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

After our lazy Sunday brunch, we cruised over to Live Steamers in Griffith Park to experience all the new Halloween decorations along the train route. The good folks who volunteer there have gone all out and the curving, shaded route is packed with ghosts, goblins, skeletons, giant plastic rats, headstones, and more. Not too creepy during the day so it's probably best to take young children while the sun is up (open on Sundays, 10:45-3:00) and older children (who don't get too scared by spooky creatures or who enjoy that sort of thing) during evening rides on specific dates in October. See photo below:

Passengers on one of the Live Steamers trains.

Continuing on with our railroad theme, we zipped over to Travel Town, right next to Live Steamers in Griffith Park and took a spin on the train there.

Here, the boys wander along the Travel Town tracks to Locomotive Pavilion (of course we've explained that they can't walk on real train tracks).

Lastly, we spent some time watching the miniature railroad (open only on weekends, I believe) inside the large warehouse building within the boundaries of Travel Town.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Super Sunday Morning, Part 1 - Malo es Bueno

Sundays for us tend to be slow and easy. Sometimes we venture over to the Hollywood Farmers' Market, but only if we get up early enough and it's not too hot out.

Otherwise, we'll hang at home and make breakfast or head out to a local restaurant. That's what we opted for today, and Malo in Silver Lake was our destination. We've found over the past year that Malo is kind of a secret in the busy, chaotic world of weekend brunching. It's never crowded - today we arrived at 9:15, stayed until almost 11 and had the place to ourselves. The food is good, service decent, we sit outside, and kids can make a ruckus with little or no backlash. Plus, they offer a reasonably-priced kids menu with more variety than most restaurants.

A glimpse of the patio, which is covered so you're not blasted by the sun.

Kids menu.

"Echo Park" fruit salad (seasoned with chili powder, lime juice and sea salt). Not as exciting and flavorful as it used to be. Sadly, a little short on melon choices, and I'm not a fan of jicama.

Children's French toast - Mexican style. Sabroso!

One of the breakfast burritos, modified with no grief. But did forget to add cheese. Oops. Still was yummy.

Last but not least, my personal favorite: potato eggplant taco.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Raspberry-Strawberry-Vanilla Pancakes

main ingredients for the batter

Now that fall is settling in, I am more in the mood to cook. The lack of sweltering heat inspires me to venture into the kitchen and get my culinary creativity on. Much of what I come up with is a direct result of needing to use items in the pantry and fridge before they go bad. We hadn't made pancakes in a long time, raspberries and strawberries were lying around so, voila, Saturday morning our family made gorgeous raspberry-strawberry-vanilla pancakes. A total breeze with the three of us working together. Hubby and son prepared the batter with Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking & Pancake Mix.  [Note: We always buy pasture-fed, small farm eggs. They taste better and are more humane.] I chopped the berries and whisked them in.

toppings (bourbon-vanilla maple syrup for for mom & dad)

vanilla powder from a trip to Tahiti - superior to liquid extract, in my opinion
my guys tend the griddle

cooking up nicely
mmm, mmm, good!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Question: What's For Dinner? Answer: Veggie Lasagna!

A friend suggested that I share on this blog my meal ideas. Not wanting to disappoint, and also thinking it might be helpful to parents, I decided to oblige.

The first thing I want to write about is a delectable vegetarian lasagna recipe that I whipped up this evening with rice noodles I found at Whole Foods this afternoon. They were on the shelf, practically jumping up and begging, no, challenging me, to make my veggie lasagna with them. I couldn't resist.

So, here goes. I tend to improvise when I cook, so I don't have exact measurements. Shouldn't be too hard to follow, though, and successfully replicate.

Main ingredients are shown in the photo above. I didn't necessarily use everything but you can see all that goes into producing the final product:

1 tub of ricotta cheese
1 box of no-boil rice lasagna noodles
1 package of small-medium-sized organic zucchini
1 small organic yellow onion
1 package of organic mushrooms
1 package of shredded mozzarella cheese
2.5 jars of organic tomato basil pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit then prep ingredients. First, chop a few cloves of garlic, the small onion, and saute in a frying pan over medium-low heat with some olive oil, Then, slice each zucchini in half, length-wise and chop into half-moon shapes. Add zucchini to garlic-onion mixture once that is translucent. Note: I sauteed the mushrooms separately in a pan with olive oil and salt because I knew someone I was going to feed didn't like mushrooms, so I only put them in half of the lasagna. But they can go right in with the zucchini and garlic-onion mixture.

Once the stove-top ingredients are cooked to perfection (slightly firm, not mushy), start laying the sauce and noodles into a rectangular pan. Sauce goes in first, then a layer of noodles. On top of that, put another layer of sauce, veggies, crumbled ricotta, light layer of salt and pepper, few shavings of mozzarella, and more noodles to top it off. Repeat last step and cover with the rest of the mozzarella. Pop into oven on middle rack for 30 minutes uncovered, then take out, cover with aluminum foil, and put back in for another 30 minutes.

And here you have the end result. Super tasty! Served with a salad, it's the perfect meal for a family. Enjoy!

final product plated with simple salad

perfect accompaniment 

Just-Discovered Event in Agoura Hills

For all you San Fernando Valley dwellers, this sounds pretty cool:
Reyes Adobe Days
Saturday, 10/1 & Sunday, 10/2

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ack, What To Do With The Kids This Weekend?!!!

As usual, Los Angeles is brimming with a bounty of family fun* this weekend, which is the official start of fall festival frenzy. Is it a pumpkin patch you and your young ones seek? This city is bursting at the seams with them! Also on tap in the few days ahead: last weekend of swimming at the Annenberg Beach House; alternative vehicles in Santa Monica; Chinese Acrobats in Northridge; Animal Guys at Eaton Canyon; free drawing classes at a Hollywood gallery and so much more. Read on to find the perfect event for your family in your neck of the woods or just a short drive away.

* While I have tried to find all the wonderful events in LA for this upcoming weekend, my list below is by no means exhaustive, I just became exhausted! In other words, there are likely a gazillion other things going on but I started seeing double and had to call it a night.

Friday, September 30th

Santa Monica: Alt Car Expo (also on 10/1), 10:00 - 5:00 pm

Woodland Hills, Pierce College: Halloween Harvest Festival (thru 10/31), 10:00 am to 12:00 am (Fri-Sat) & 10:00 am to 10:00 pm (Sun-Thu)

Pomona, Fairplex: LA County Fair (thru 10/2)

Northridge, Valley Performing Arts Center: National Acrobats of China, 8:00 pm

Saturday, October 1st

Altadena, Eaton Canyon Natural Area:
Family Nature Walk, 9:00 - 10:00 am
Nature Tails Story Hour (ages 3-5), 10:30 - 11:30 am
Animal Guys (ages 5 & up), 7:00 - 9:00 pm

Santa Monica, Pier: Wake Up With The Waves FREE Children's Concert Series, 9:00 - 11:00 am

Pasadena, Pacific Asia Museum: Silk Road Story Time, 10:30 am

Los Angeles, Petersen Automotive Museum: Discovery Day Halloween Special, 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Manhattan Beach: Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair, (also on 10/2) 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Arcadia, Los Angeles County Arboretum: Arboretum Adventures, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Moorpark, Underwood Family Farms: Fall Harvest Festival (thru 10/31), 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Montrose: Montrose Oktoberfest, Noon - 11:00 pm

Santa Monica, Annenberg Community Beach House: Last weekend of swimming for 2011 (also on 10/2), 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Westwood, Geffen Playhouse: Story Pirates, The Flagship Show (ages 4 & up), 2:00 pm

Sunday, October 2nd

Pacific Palisades, Beeplanet's Toddlerbaloo, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

West Hollywood, Book Fair: The Kids' Stage, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Hollywood, LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions): ASAP's (After School Arts Program) 2011 Re-Visions of LA Drawing Workshop (children of all ages), 1:00 - 4:00 pm

LACE event

Griffith Park, Autry National Center: American Indian Culture Day, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Los Angeles, Skirball Cultural Center: Make a Little Magic Workshop for Families (ages 7 & up), 2:00 - 4:00 pm

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Family-Friendly Activities for This Weekend

LA is going to be a-buzz with many festivals and events this weekend. Here's a sampling of the coolest ones I could find:

Harvest Festival - Long Beach Convention Center, Friday-Sunday, 9/23 & 9/24 (10a-6p), 9/25 (10a-5p)

LAFD Hollywood Museum - free on Saturdays, 10a-4p

LAFD Harbor Museum - free on Saturdays, 10a-3p

Story Theater - Santa Monica, Saturday, 9/24, 10a, 11a, 12p

Celebrity Story Time (Benefit for Milk & Bookies) - Culver City, Saturday & Sunday, 9/24 & 9/25, 1-4

Baja Splash Cultural Festival - Long Beach Aquarium, Saturday & Sunday, 9/23 & 9/24, 9a-5p

Watts Towers Day of the Drum and Jazz Festivals - free on Saturday & Sunday, 9/24 & 9/25, 11a-5p

Abbot KinneyFestival - Sunday, 9/25, 10a-6p. I'm sure the security has improved since the shooting that took place there in 2008, FYI. Not wanting to scare, just inform.

Tarfest Music and Art Festival - free at La Brea Tar Pits, Sunday, 9/25, 12-6

Certified Farmers' Markets

Going Swimmingly

For over 2 years, my son has been learning to swim at Jim Herrick Swim School in Valley Village. Water safety was on my list of things he would achieve at a very young age. The techniques taught at Jim Herrick are highly regarded and time-tested (decades). It's not the high-speed type of swim lessons sought by some parents for instantaneous swimming, but rather a methodical approach to a long-term love of the water and staying safe in it. Kids go into the pool with a teacher (one-on-one) and work on their skills for 20 minutes. I ramped up my son's lessons to 40 minute sessions this summer because he was ready for more in-depth instruction. It's been a thrill to behold his progress and trust in his teacher - all of whom at the school are wonderful and patient yet firm with their students. The school is a real gem.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"I Want My Tempeh Reuben"

So said my 4-year-old son at Flore Vegan in Silver Lake during lunch today when he thought I took his sandwich. The kid is hooked! He craves not only the vegan version of that classic NY deli specialty, but also the tempeh bacon Flore serves up, which is sublime as either a side or part of their BLTA (tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato & avocado). At Flore, even the most devout meat eater can find something to savor, as the menu is choc full of creative and innovative vegan offerings. There is a kids menu but we always just share the BLTA and tempeh reuben and order 2 "Basic Green" fresh-pressed juices (a quick, yummy way to feed a kid his or her leafy greens). For dessert my son usually chooses a lemon poppyseed cupcake. Delish!
close-up of BLTA
kids menu
dessert case - cakes & cupcakes, some wheat-free, all vegan
BLTA & our favorite flore bev: basic green

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Grand Little Playground Downtown

Right in the heart of LA's downtown concrete jungle of high-rise office buildings and apartments, bustling city streets and general city chaos lies a sweet little fenced-in, clean, sand-free playground.

It's within the boundaries of Grand Hope Park, across from FIDM's (Fashion Institute of Design & Management) Los Angeles campus, and located 3 blocks from the 7th and Figueroa Metro stop on the red line.

Here's what mama friend L has to say about the playground, which she and her son have come to know very well:

"This is the most ethnically diverse playground I have been to in LA.  Even better, the parents are really interesting.  Many are expats from all over who moved into downtown for one reason or another. And they are friendly! One tough thing about visiting Grand Hope playground is the parking.  Meters are $3/hour - and that's if you can find one.  However, directly across the street is Ralphs supermarket, which offers a 90-minute validation - no purchase required.  It has a huge deli and prepared food section - helpful for that last-minute snack or lunch. It's not exactly health food but acceptable in a pinch. Grand Hope also has a huge open grassy area plus a fountain/water feature; kids always seem to love those. I am currently investigating kid-friendly restaurants within close proximity - will report back."

nice playground equipment and spongey ground

cute riding toys